WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JULY 21.

Hello hello! This week has been busy with meetings, a new nephew being born and some activities for my husband.

Welcome to the family, Collins! 

Welcome to the family, Collins! 

Oh, getting a snapping turtle out of our yard. Did you know that NOBODY will help you get a snapping turtle out of your fenced in yard? Even though we have a dog and two kids? And snapping turtles are scary AF?!

Bye bye Turtle, please stay out of our yard. 

Bye bye Turtle, please stay out of our yard. 

Thankfully, my husband was brave, and was able to get the turtle into a recycling bin with a lid, and got it to the pond safely. We normally wouldn't have moved it, but it was trapped in our fenced-in yard (how did it even get in?!), so we moved it in the direction it seemed to be trying to go. Hopefully Mr. or Mrs. Turtle lives happily ever after. Just another day at the Lieser Nature Center! 

Because of the busyness of the week, we planned super simple and easy meals all week. 

Twin Cities Meal Planner | Weekly Meal Plan

Sunday: Tex Mex Casserole via Popular Paleo
Monday: Crockpot Chicken, Potatoes and Green Beans (from our garden!)
Tuesday: Pork chops with pesto quinoa and roasted Brussels sprouts
Wednesday: BBQ pulled pork quesadillas
Thursday: Homemade pizza
Friday: Sloppy Joes via Physical Kitchness
Saturday: TBD, maybe out? 

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JUNE 30 + MY FIRST AMBULANCE RIDE.

Woooowee! What a week it's been. It started with a crazy busy weekend last week, with our annual summer party at our house and a trip to my in-laws' on Sunday. Those two activities meant I had no time to go to the store for groceries, so I had to make up a meal on the fly on Sunday and Monday nights. I'm not great at being spontaneous with meals; clearly I like to meal plan and have my kitchen stocked for the week or I wouldn't be blogging about it!

This was my first IV and it was a huge pain! It was so uncomfortable!

This was my first IV and it was a huge pain! It was so uncomfortable!

So that was all fine, and then Monday night/early Tuesday morning happened. I woke up in extreme pain in my pelvis area around 2:30 am Tuesday. I made it to the bathroom where I proceeded to get extremely nauseous, was sweating profusely, I had tunnel vision and my hearing was faded out like I was under water. I was scared as hell, so I yelled for my husband and laid on the bathroom floor. 

Being in extreme pain and not knowing why is terrifying, and since we have 2 kids, he couldn't drive me to the ER himself. Also, we didn't want to make another family member wake up at 3 am to come over, so we decided to call 911. The ambulance came, and the paramedics agreed that I needed to be brought to the hospital (she said I was very pale, and my heart rate was spiking when I would sit up, which also made me very nauseous). After hours of waiting and 2 ultrasounds, it was determine that I have a cyst on my left ovary, which for some reason caused problems. There really is no treatment, as these cysts generally go away on their own, but it was a crazy morning nonetheless.

How I felt about being alone in the ER for hours. 

How I felt about being alone in the ER for hours. 

Thankfully, since I stayed home from work Tuesday to rest, I was able to order some groceries from Instacart to get us through the week. [Pssst, click here to get $10 toward your first order!]

Weekly Meal Plan | Twin Cities Meal Planner

Sunday: Leftover BBQ pulled pork from our party, roasted broccoli and Brussels sprouts
Monday: Asian Noodle Bowl based on PaleOMG's recipe
Tuesday: Panko crusted pork chops, quinoa and roasted broccoli
Wednesday: Pesto zoodles with salad (from our garden!)
Thursday: Sloppy Joes, oven fries and salad
Friday: Caprese chicken with roasted veggies
Saturday: Out as a family

I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July weekend! 

MY TOP 10 FAVORITE PODCASTS.

Warning: monster post coming at ya today! It was just too hard to narrow down the list to just 10, so I have my TOP 10, plus my honorable mentions! 

In the past year I've become obsessed with podcasts. I pretty much listen to a podcast during all of my time alone: driving, working out, cooking/prepping food, cleaning, getting ready in the morning and before bed.  At this point, I'm subscribed to so many that I basically have to listen during all of my free time to get through them all! So yeah, I listen to A LOT of podcasts. 

I'm breaking down my top 10 favorite podcasts, ranging from business to health & wellness, and a few topics in between. These are the ones that I have to listen to the day they come out because I'm so excited about them. 

Top 10 favorite podcasts | Malisa Lieser Planning

1. Happier with Gretchen Rubin. I found this podcast when I was on maternity leave with my second baby. We'd go on a walk and I'd listen to podcasts while she slept. It was a pretty dreamy situation! I love the practical & simple tips that Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth give to live a happier life. I also learned that I'm an Obliger from the podcast, which wasn't too surprising given my personality, but it was nice to put a word to it! Take Gretchen's 4 tendencies quiz here. (Let me know if you take it and your results!)

2. How I Built This. This miiiight be my favorite podcast right now. I found it somewhat recently and went back to listen to every episode. The podcast, from NPR, shares entrepreneur's stories- how they built their business, failures, successes, and insight. Guests have ranged from the founder of Whole Foods to Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran. The stories are absolutely fascinating, and it's inspiring to think that these small businesses have become widely known brands over time.  

3. That's so Maven by The Healthy Maven.  Davida from The Healthy Maven has built a podcast around health & wellness, stemming off of her blog about food and health. Her guests come from all over the map in terms of their health philosophies, but I relate most to the guests who advocate for listening to your body, and don't make anyone feel badly for their choices, whether that's to eat donuts - raises hand - or strictly count their macros. 

4. Side Hustle School. Side Hustle School is a short (7-10 minute) daily podcast about regular people who started a side hustle and have had success, whether that's $400 a month or $10,000 a month. The whole premise is that a side hustle is something you do outside of your normal job, and it doesn't have to be a goal to quit your job to pursue it full time. It's a way to diversify your income, and have a cushion for yourself in case something were to happen where you lost your main money-making job. The show just proves that there is a market for almost anything! And, my listener question even got featured in an episode

5. The mindbodygreen Podcast.  This is a new one, but I'm already hooked. mindbodygreen is a website all about health, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle. They have hundreds (maybe thousands) of articles, classes and more on their site, so their podcast ties in all things health & wellness with the guests they bring on. 

Top 10 apps | Malisa Lieser Planning

6. Success! How I Did It.  This one is similar to #3 above, in that it shares stories of business that started with an idea and are now household names. These stories are a bit shorter, so sometimes it works better for a quick ride in the car or lunch time walk! 

7. The Grit and Glitter Podcast.  I can't remember how I found out about Lauren's podcast, but I've been listening to it consistently for about 6 months, and was even a guest on it! Lauren, the host and creative mind behind Grit and Glitter Co. (which will be changing names/focus soon!), has a very energetic, bright personality.. pretty much the opposite of me. But it's contagious, and her passion is so inspiring. She brings on women to talk about the real, raw parts of starting a business, so it's right up my alley! 

8. The Goal Digger Podcast with Jenna Kutcher. Jenna is a wedding photographer from Wisconsin who has more recently become an educator for small business owners. She offers courses and training for a fee, but on her podcast, she and her guests give out great actionable tips to help build a brand you're proud of, engage with customers, and leave a lasting impression. 

9. Office Baggage.  This podcast is geared toward professional women and the crap they deal with in a corporate setting. The two hosts are upper level managers in different companies and are serious when it comes to calling out men for their bullshit (cough, mansplaining, cough). They discuss the struggles women have in the workplace from harassment, to pay disparity, to not being taken seriously while adding a humorous tone and some swearing. 

10.Party in my Plants. This is a newer podcast for me, but I really enjoy Talia's sense of humor and laid back approach to health and wellness. She believes that being healthy doesn't have to suck, and I completely agree! Even if you don't listen to the podcast, I'd recommend checking out her site because it's so fun! 

Honorable mentions:
Yes, there are more I listen to! 

  • Young House Love Has A Podcast. I was a die hard YHL fan when John and Sherry had their popular home improvement and lifestyle blog Young House Love back in the day (and even got to meet them! <---- old blog alert!), and was so excited they started a podcast! Even though I'm not big into remodeling or decorating my own house, I still like to hear their stories and guests. They keep it interesting and engaging with trivia, things they're digging and other handy tips that anyone can implement. 
  • The Balanced Blonde Soul on Fire Podcast. Jordan brings on a variety of guests to talk about building a business, health & wellness journeys, nutrition tips and more. 
  • One Bad Mother.  Hosts Biz and Theresa are working moms with multiple kids between them and talk all about the trials and tribulations of motherhood by injecting humor and swearing into their stories. They are great at making you feel a little more normal for your lacking parental skills or questionable bribery tactics.  
  • Almost 30. "Inspired by life transitions and the years between your twenties and thirties, Almost 30 is about having fun and staying inspired." The hosts bring on some great lady bosses to talk about a wide range of topics, many of which are in the health & wellness area. 
  • That's So Retrograde.  This is definitely the most hippie-dippie podcast that I listen to. I mean, one of their episodes was all about Jade eggs you put in your hoo-ha, so yeah, it's a little out there, even for me! The two hosts live in CA, so they talk about all of the wild things people do for their health out west. 
  • The Popcast. Their slogan is "educating you on things that entertain but do not matter." This is a fun one to listen to if you want something light and humorous, or want to stay up on the latest pop culture news! 

And lastly, there is a new one called Pursuit with Purpose by Melyssa Griffin that I think I'm going to love, so I wanted to share it! 

QUICK TIP: Listening to podcasts at 1.5 speed makes them go by quickly, and are still completely understandable! 

How to listen to a podcast at 1.5 speed

I'd love to hear what your favorite podcasts are! I'm always looking to grow my list! 

WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JUNE 16.

Haaaaaappy Friday! I have today off to take care of a few things, AND I'm getting a massage! Woop! I tweaked my neck somehow on Monday, and it still hurts today, so I'm looking forward to a relaxing, and hopefully healing, massage. 

And with that, I'm going to keep this short and sweet. Here's what we ate this week! 

Weekly Meal Plan | Twin Cities Meal Planner

Sunday: Garlic Spaghetti Squash Casserole
Monday: I had a work event, the family had pizza.
Tuesday: Egg roll in a bowl with pot stickers [I skip the sugar and wine in my recipe]
Wednesday: Italian stuffed peppers with corn on the cob [Similar recipe]
Thursday: Zoodles + meat Sauce with roasted cauliflower
Friday: Burgers and roasted potato wedges
Saturday: Caprese stuffed balsamic chicken with Brussels sprouts

Have a great weekend everyone! 

[SERIES] HOW TO REDUCE WASTE: KITCHEN EDITION.

Heads up! This post contains Amazon affiliate links. All that means is that if you purchase any of the products I recommend, I may earn a small percentage. I only recommend products that I use and love. Thanks for helping support this blog!

Zero waste has been a buzzword for a while now, and it can be a little scary to think about your life if you were to eliminate all the waste that you produce every day. According to the EPA, each person in the United States generates about 4.4 pounds of waste each day, of which about 1.5 pounds is recycled or composted. [Source]

That sounds like a lot, but you can see how easily it adds up: your Starbucks cup, muffin wrapper, napkins, La Croix cans, food packaging, uneaten food, personal care waste like q-tips and Kleenex. 

While I am most definitely not close to living a zero waste lifestyle, we do try to reduce the waste we generate on a daily basis. It doesn't have to be all or nothing to make a difference!

In this new series, I'm going to share tips for reducing the waste you produce in different areas of your home and life. Today's topic: THE KITCHEN!

My challenge to you: 

Adopt a few of these tips in your own life. Start a new habit, make our Earth a little happier, and feel good knowing you are making a positive impact on how you'll leave the planet for the next generation. 

Zero Waste Kitchen | Malisa Lieser Planning

 

9 WAYS TO REDUCE WASTE IN YOUR KITCHEN:

  • DITCH THE ZIPLOCKS: I know, they are so convenient. But, they are so wasteful, especially if you only use them once! There are many other ways to carry around food like reusable bags, mason jars, or Tupperware. I'm not perfect at this, but we definitely go through WAY fewer Ziplock bags these days! 
  • COMPOST: Instead of throwing out those food scraps, napkins, toilet paper rolls, and even pizza boxes, compost them! Hennepin County started a compost program in the past few years, so even if you don't want to compost in your own yard, you can use a county-provided bin and they will haul it away. All you need to do is have a small compost pail in your kitchen to put your scraps into. One man's trash is another man's treasure.
  • RECYCLE: Duh, right? Not recycling is so 1990. We all have recycling programs in our cities, there is ZERO reason you shouldn't be doing it. I'm always surprised when people throw recyclable materials in to a garbage can. Hello?! Did you not learn about recycling in kindergarten? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! 
  • ONLY BUY WHAT YOU'LL EAT: Over buying food is something I struggle with, especially produce. I almost always have some produce that is wilting in my fridge, but I really try hard to not let it go to waste. I'll either freeze it to use later, cook it up and use in lunches the rest of the week, or adjust my meal plan to squeeze it in before it goes bad. Did you know that nearly 50% of produce in the US is thrown away?! Whoa, that is depressing. [Source] If you are going to throw away food, compost it!
  • LIMIT PACKAGING: When shopping, look for food packaged in recyclable materials, or better yet, not packaged at all. And please, for the love of the planet, stop using those plastic produce bags! Get some reusable mesh laundry bags from the dollar tree and use those if you feel you need a bag, but the plastic ones need to go! [Other reusable bags]
  • REPLACE FOIL & PLASTIC WRAP: I'll admit, I haven't done this yet, but we're making progress. We do use a silicone baking mat in place of tin foil when cooking things on our sheet pan, but still rely on tin foil quite a bit. I think if we grab another silicone mat in a smaller size, we could make a big dent in our foil usage! Most of our bowls have lids, so we don't use a ton of saran wrap, but we do use it to pound chicken flat once in a while. 
  • INVEST IN GLASS: The next time you go to buy storage containers, choose glass over plastic. It'll last longer, it doesn't stain from food, and there are no yucky chemicals that could leach into your food when you heat it up. We love our Pyrex bowls and these containers to store leftovers for reheating. 
  • GET RID OF DISPOSABLE DISHES: I know, dishes suck! Using disposable for a big party makes sense, but maybe you can vow to use washable dishes the rest of the time. Plus, disposable stuff adds up in cost! 
  • GO CLOTH: Cloth napkins will save a lot of paper towel and napkin waste (even though they are compostable!). It will increase water usage from washing, so it's a trade off. We don't put napkins or paper towels on the table at meals, and use our Norwex cloths to wipe the kids' hands and faces after meals. We also use old towels and rags for spills or stain removal to reduce the amount we're throwing away. 

What did I miss? Are there other ways you reduce waste in your kitchen?

WEEKLY MEAL PLAN: JUNE 9.

Hello everyone! After a few weeks off, I'm back to sharing our weekly dinner plan. Blogging has slowed down quite a bit for me, as I've been focusing on a few other things, including a new business that my husband and I are potentially launching! Whoa. You know, why not throw another thing in the mix?! 

should shrugging emoji

I was also on my first podcast this week! I was so excited to talk to Lauren from the Grit & Glitter podcast where I talked all about the fears around starting a business, impostor syndrome, and being yourself online. The content is a little different than what I normally talk about here, but if you're a small business owner or have doubts about your experience in any area, you might relate! LISTEN HERE. (And if you like what you hear, subscribe to the podcast! Lauren is so encouraging and I'd love for you to subscribe to support her!)

weekly meal plan | Malisa Lieser Planning

Sunday: Taco tater tot casserole
Monday: Chicken, sweet potato & black bean skillet via Recipe Runner
Tuesday: Parmesan pork chops with roasted potatoes and asparagus via the Wholesome Dish
Wednesday: Gyros from the neighborhood bistro
Thursday: Sloppy Joes via Physical Kitchness with roasted green beans and corn on the cob
Friday: Graduation party
Saturday: Wedding (kids will have chicken sausages and mac & cheese with grandparents!)

Have a great weekend! 

LAUNDRY HACK: DRYER BALLS.

Heads up! This post contains Amazon affiliate links. All that means is that if you purchase any of the products I recommend, I may earn a small percentage. I only recommend products that I use and love. Thanks for helping support this blog!

Laundry mostly sucks. Obviously. 

The washing part is easy, but then you have to sort it out by family member, fold all the tiny toddler clothes, load it back into the baskets, bring them upstairs, and have the full baskets of clean clothes sit on the table in your room for 3-5 days before you finally get sick of looking at it and put the damn clothes away. (Or is the last part just me?) The only saving grace is that I am usually folding while watching The Bachelorette (or whatever spin-off of that show is currently airing), so I'm preoccupied by that train wreck. 

Today I want to share a super simple, inexpensive way to change up your laundry game for the betterment of your health and your wallet. Unfortunately, it's not a magic pill to make our laundry woes go away. Let me know when you've come up with that. 

dryer balls.png

I first started using dryer balls because I was going more natural with my cleaning products, and figured buying a set of them would save me money in the long run. Plus, the scent of dryer sheets was just way too overpowering for me. I've realized over the past several years that strong artificial scents can trigger headaches and even nausea for me, so I've switched to fragrance-free as much as possible. We now use scent-free and dye-free laundry detergent in addition to dryer balls (Seventh Generation Free & Clear is what we usually use. We've also used Costco's Kirkland Free & Clear.)

Dryer sheets can contain compounds that may cause asthma symptoms and skin reactions, plus artificial fragrances, which are among the world's top 5 allergens. (Source

Those flowery scents that are added to laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets contain artificial scents that are made up of hundreds of chemicals. (Don't even get me started on the marketing ploy that is special laundry detergent that is for baby clothes. I'm looking at you, Dreft. [insert eye roll])

Look, I know it's nice to have good-smelling clothes, but there are other ways to make yourself smell good, like... soap. Hair products. Lotion. Deodorant. You know, all that other stuff you use on a daily basis anyway! :) 

What's so great about dryer balls?

Well, as I already mentioned, they are inexpensive, and will save money in the long run because you can use them for years without having to replace them. 

In addition to that, they soften your laundry naturally, reduce static and help prevent wrinkles. (aka, everything a dryer sheet does) They also do not have a slimy film like dryer sheets that can cause build-up in your dryer, and can actually help reduce drying time. 

PLASTIC VS. WOOL

Full disclosure: I haven't used wool dryer balls before. I've only used plastic ones. From what I can tell, the differences between these are pretty minor, but there are a few to mention here. (Here is a good article with a long list of comparables.) 

  • Wool: you can add a few drops of essential oils to add a light scent to your laundry. If you really want to have scented clothes, you might want to go with wool. 
  • Wool: may last a little bit longer than the plastic version
  • Wool: completely chemical free and sustainable
  • Plastic: may contain PVC, which is a chemical in plastic, and are not as environmentally friendly

Ok, I think I just convinced myself I should switch to wool now that I've seen these comparisons. I'm not sure if I didn't know about the wool option when I got mine, but I think I'll be getting wool next! 

Here are a few options to get started with if you want to give dryer balls a go!

Do you use dryer balls already? Which brand do you like?