Throwback Thursday: Growing Family

I am so thrilled to announce Dan and I’s careful decision to adopt… a Betta Fish! We are happy to welcome a new family member into the home and especially to provide my mom with her first shot at being a grandmother.

World, meet Tiger “Master” Betta:

Dan and I have been visiting Woodstock’s Animal Crossing almost every other day to see if they had any new Betta fish come in that we’d be able to adopt. (shop local!) Although we’ve seen a few over the weeks, none of them caught our eye like this handsome little man. Dan and I were both immediately drawn to his beautiful face that only a mother could love and gorgeous color. It didn’t hurt that his color also matches our living / dining room as well as being one of Dan’s favorite colors: Sunday Red.

We may not have done all of our research before adopting Tiger, but we are studying Betta blogs diligently to understand the best type of environment, food, water temperature and threadcount preference cleaning schedule to provide him with a long and happy life as our adopted son. We will never allow him to grow up and enter into Betta Fight Club – he’s got too bright of a future for that.

Our family had quite the full house of non-humans when I was growing up – my brother(I kid!), Blazer girl, Miss Piggy, Mr. Pig or Lily (guinea pigs), Bugs Bunny, Sahara (hamster), Simba, Nala, Griffey, Griffey II, Simba II, Nala II (Goldfish I can remember) and I’m sure a few more goldfish that my parents cleverly flushed and replaced before I had the chance to realize they’d gone belly up in their tank or were caught in the filter.

Today’s Throwback Thursday is brought to you by the four legged and finned family members that depend on us to keep their lives full of attention, nourishment and well being.

❤ JE

January Summary

Since Throwback Thursday is tomorrow I will have to switch up the post schedule a little. I’m happy to share my month in review just one day early to keep on track with how much I love to share some photos from my past with you.

January somehow has come and gone and I feel like so much has changed in my life in just the past few weeks. I’ve had to change my day-to-day routine and share my commute with Dan which has caused me to become aware of a few of my stress triggers I’ve learned to manage on my own time. I have been trying really hard to decompress before leaving work for the day but sometimes it carries over into our ‘us’ time and frankly ain’tnobodygottimefo’dat.  I’m beyond thrilled that the month almost over is a tiny hint of a few things that are making me smile. We can look forward to more daylight, less rain in my dreams and a short month full of  fun days including a baby shower, the super bowl and a lovely weekend with Dan for Valentine’s celebrations.

If you’ve missed a few posts, here’s a round up of a few key moments from the month you may have missed:

Accomplishments:

  • Successfully moved Dan across town to what we now call our home.
  • Still in my new job and enjoying the process of learning every day.. I even ‘graduated’  (whoo-hoo)
  • Started using my DSLR again and am making serious efforts to use it more often.
  • Put together (sort of) my first outfit post.

Great Eats:

Great Memories:

Takes the cake:

One of my most favorite unexpected memories from the last month was when my mom texted me and told me that Dad had a new favorite song, and even Bailey thought that it was F*%^&#$ awesome. They’ve been poppin’ tags ever since:

Here’s to February! A new month means new memories!

❤ JE

Take The Time: Meal Prep

Saturday night while winding down for the evening I made a Wish & Accomplish list to make my Sunday a productive one. A huge part of my Sunday responsibilities included grocery shopping, meal planning and food prep – all things I enjoy and have been making a better effort to manage in the new year.

I have always been an advocate of having a plan in place, but sometimes even “go to the cafeteria” was considered a plan. Sure, I’d always make the healthy choice and hit up the salad bar with fresh veggies, but I was making selections on what was available at the time, not what was always best. As I’ve grown up I’m more aware of how my nutrition impacts my workouts and energy levels. I find myself wanting to be in control of my day and what I’m feeding my self with – especially with the sometimes limited resources during work hours. It gives me a lot of confidence to pack a breakfast, lunch and snacks and extra emergency snacks every day so that if I get pulled into a meeting, don’t have the time to get away or just simply forgot my wallet in another purse that day – I’ll still be fed well.

There are many ways to get into the groove of planning and prepping your meals and I feel like I’m still figuring it out. I’ve put together a list of steps that I’ve found to be helpful when another week goes by and it’s time to do some more prep!

Take Inventory

Look at what you already have and make sure to check the expiration dates. You might remember that you bought some broccoli a few weeks ago or that dozen eggs was meant for a brunch that never happened – just make sure that you are aware of upcoming dates and especially know stock of your non-perishables just in case there’s a door-buster sale on your favorite soup!

Look at a Calendar

I try to make lunch plans at least once every two weeks and maybe even keep them once a month… (sorry for all of my re-schedules lately). You probably get to step away more often than I do – so make sure that you’re not overcooking if you don’t have to! For example, this week Dan and I have a voucher to use at Thailand in Beaverton over lunch so I had the foresight to only prep enough for my four lunches. No haste – no waste!

Make a List – Check it Twice!

Okay, so we’ve already taken inventory – now what do you need in your pantry and fridge that will make your week complete? Dan and I always find ourselves in need of more apples, bananas, greek yogurt and frozen chicken breasts so those are constantly on the list. You probably have your family staples too that you need to have a successful week, make sure that they are on your list so you don’t leave the grocery store without them.

Focus on Fresh & Versatile Ingredients

What are some of the items I can always use over and over in different variations? Quinoa, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, chicken, veggie medley and more. I learned a trick from my mom that one can add volume to any meal with the right veggies laced within the main ingredients. If you like quinoa you’re already 3 steps ahead because it’s one of those healthy staples that cooks quickly, cooks well in mass quantity, holds well in the refrigerator and can be heated up in minutes in addition to a perfect balance of protein and vegetables.

Buy in Bulk (when possible)

If you can, I urge you to buy in bulk. It really helps you to have the ability to prepare a week’s worth of food at a time and also save a few dollars here and there due to the volume. I have a Costco membership and somehow manage to always go at the busiest times, but wouldn’t dare do my shopping any other way for the things I know I’m going to use over and over. The benefit and savings outweigh the extra time in this case. Remember, this series is called “take the time”.

Find Durable Tupperware

A Christmas present that Santa Dan and I got us was a brand new set of tupperware from Amazon. It’s been the MVP in my mission to prep meals. I can consistently fit the right portions into the containers, trust in the airtight lock and put them through the ultimate wear-test of the microwave and dishwasher. Without a trusty set like this, you may not find cooking for a week as pleasant of an experience.

Set Aside Some Time

I like to do most of my mass cooking on Sunday nights, but it could be different for you and your schedule. Between running all the burners, chopping the veggies and separating the portions I spend close to an hour and a half in the kitchen – more time if photography is involved!

I always start out with the basics:

  • 3 cups of dried quinoa
  • 5+ grilled chicken breasts
  • 5-6 cups of frozen veggies turned edible
  • Yogurt + fruit combinations (blueberries, mango, blackberries, kiwi)
  • Another small portable snack – like a ziplock bag of cranberries, granola bars or carrots & hummus!

I’d like to also start getting more advanced with hard baked eggs, store & freeze soups and some crock pot magic

Keep it simple until you get the hang of it – and make sure that you’re not cooking while you’re hungry for dinner. It could be instant sabotage!

Take Photos, duh!

It’s not as fun if you don’t take photos of the process and your finished product!

Have fun prepping and let me know some of your keys to success! If you’re wondering – Dan prefers a sandwich for lunch and can be found carefully crafting it at 5:45am each morning. The planning is wearing off!

❤ JE

South(east) Scramble

Most weekends Dan and I are pretty bad about eating breakfast at a normal time. Weekdays we are on a strict schedule but on Saturday and Sunday we like to sleep in and get our lazy on. Once we finally roll jump out of bed I often go for a run and he’s surprisingly never really hungry until the afternoon.

This weekend actually was no different, but when we decided to make brunch after noon we put a little extra flare into it. We were both skilled cooks in the kitchen and had fun making a Southwesteast Scramble that would end up keeping us full all day long!

The inspiration for the scramble was the dozen eggs in the egg caddy that hadn’t been touched for two weeks. The rest was fridge and pantry magic.

Check it out and make your own next weekend!

Ingredients:

8 Eggs

3 Trader Joe’s Chicken Jalapeño sausages

1 Green Pepper

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1 can black beans

MmmMmm Sriracha and maybe a little post photography shredded low-fat mozzarella

Simply amazing!

❤ JE

Week 3: Cohabitation

This has become one of my favorite topics to share with you here in this space because I feel like my life has really changed since Dan agreed to live with me and began the move in process.

I’ve been getting a little flack about how I’ve called this series “cohabitation” – so I checked out the official definition and think we are closer to “living together in an intimate relationship” than “to dwell with one another, as different species of animals”. I’m always happy to clarify!

We are beginning to see so much progress toward un-boxing his possessions and rearranging mine to make everything fit. We don’t yet have complete access or ability to walk around the garage which is fine because it’s too cold but we are planning to make great strides this weekend with hopes of inviting friends over to see the place on Superbowl Sunday. Countdown: 9 days.

First of all I think you’ll get a kick out of this Bed Cartography that I spotted while browsing the internet this week – this is completely what Dan says that I do. While I’m a little embarrassed, I’m happy that it at least shows how much I enjoy being close to my sweetheart while I sleep and also how much I think sharing = caring.

It’s been frigid here in Portland and I’m so thankful that Dan is from Chicago and knows his way around an ice frost covered car. I’m the person that will sit in my car and sacrifice being late to allow the defrost setting in the car to work magic. Dan prefers a hands-on approach and not only volunteers to do the scraping but he also upgraded to a better scraper and some anti-freeze spray for the next time we see these conditions.

No cold is too cold for the two of us and our ice cream habit though. We took the time over the weekend to sort bottles and cans to take into get our 5 cents per accepted container and walked away with almost a cool seven dollars. He volunteered to cash in the reward and assured me that he’d return with something that was worth our time spent in the claustrophobic can-smacking room. I have to agree – and he even had some loose change to spare! #NotCleanEating

We are even evolving with our communication skills regarding household chores! He started the laundry and while I was making dinner and I realized I could no longer hear the whirl of the washing machine in the garage. I put on 3 sweatshirts and risked getting frostbite to go swap the clothes into the dryer and even cleaned out the lint trap while I was at it. Is it just me or do boys not know about lint traps?

This weekend we made big strides in getting the “Beat Lab 2.0” set up for his entertainment pleasure. I never realized how much work went into setting up the audio/visuals for the man room but apparently 7 speakers requires 14+ separate cords and next time if we ever leave this setup will need a level and a tape measure because just eyeballing it is apparently an acquired skill. He’s happily in here most of his evenings and encourages me to spend as much time as I need to write posts for the next day. It gives him more time to play!

In typical fashion we’ve been cooking up a storm even on nights where we didn’t make it home until 9pm Why, intramurals, why? The new interchangeable plate grill I got us him for Christmas from the Sharper Image has really came through in some tough times and we’re happy to have a fast acting grill for meats, panini’s and hopefully pancakes this weekend!

^ Eaten while watching this week’s Biggest Loser^

Another major project that we both worked on this past weekend and I still have more to get after this weekend was purging and donating gently used clothing to Brooke local middle school students as a base for the beginning of a wonderful clothing closet. It felt so good to get rid of things that were taking up space in my home and set them aside for others who will get great wear out of them. Even after packing up two boxes each we feel that we still have more than anyone really needs – we’re especially sensitive to the amount of “stuff” after moving so much of it. Time to clear more space for pieces I truly love and continue to define my style even further.

We even stopped into the local pet store to see what Betta fish were there, but got sidetracked by oh-so-friendly Jackson who’s taken a particular liking to my Dan. What is it about him that cause the ladies animals of all species to swoon?

And that commute I was worried about Dan hating? He’s found ways to cope via use of his Slingbox app to watch local Chicago sports + ESPN coverage. We both have enjoyed our passenger time more than our driver time. That should change once we start to see more daylight on our commute!

I’m still pinching myself about how happy I am over this new step forward in our lives. I’m a lucky lady.

❤ JE

Throwback Thursday: TMI

If you haven’t noticed, my Throwback Thursdays are inspired by current events in my life that I can speak to now as an adult, but have photos that represent the same feeling from my younger years. Generally I first look through the photo’s I’ve grabbed on my iPhone then try to apply some content, but this week was actually a time where the topic came first and I was lucky enough to have a few representation photos (Of the past, not current thankfully!).

This post will bleed into my cohabitation posts (Week 1, Week 2) #SorryI’mNotSorry – I like talking about the boyfriend and according to my stats you like reading about him too!

Dan and I began as great friends and one day out of nowhere that feeling of companionship, partners in crime and friendship grew into much more.  One of the key things that I love about him is how comfortable we are when we are together. We’ve seen each others bests and I feel like he’s seen some of my worsts. I still may have my insecurities which are my own battles, but overall we are able to be honest, be open and speak our minds. As individuals we love our independence, stand up for what we believe in and work hard to build our futures. As a couple we show genuine interest in each other’s days, we share our goals and we work together to achieve them.

This style of open communication has taught me a lot about myself and has reminded me how lucky I am to have met my match.

Phew – now that I’ve told you the mushy part of our relationship let me tell you about how sometimes being “open” can be TMI! Living with Dan on our own for the last three weeks has taught me that boys will be boys and nothing in our home can go un-noticed. I’m spending more time than ever with him now at home and on the car-ride in and sometimes there’s things about his day that I don’t always need to know. Like how many flushes his bathroom trip needed or why he thinks he needs to sit out a partner run after work. It’s cool, I get it – you get some excellent fiber in your diet. A+ !

I’m generally one who enjoys bathroom humor but to spare you the details I’m happy that he has his own porcelain throne and we don’t have to share. He agrees and he’s approved the details I’ve shared with you today – I made sure to get his approval before this went public.

Sure there’s a million rants he could go on with about me and my troubles like how much hair I shed but we’ll save those for another day or maybe even a guest post from the man himself?

Today’s Throwback Thursday is brought to you by my happiness that there are doors to bathrooms and candles a’plenty in our home.

^I wonder who taught us to read while doing our business^

^More multi-tasking^

^So innocent^

❤ JE

Take the Time: Physical Therapy

There are so many shortcuts and fast paths available to us in this lifetime that sometimes we need to know when it’s necessary to stop and smell the flowers. If I could travel back in time I would smack my younger self when she decided to not floss twice a day – I’d give her a disapproving glare when she fell asleep with her contacts in – I’d even wag my finger at her for protesting her retainer.

In my younger years I was never the best at following instructions on how to repair my muscles and joints after workouts. Ice? Sure! Epsom Salt Baths? Whuh? heat packs? okay, those were nice… The fact is that all of these remedies and preventions took time – time that I wasn’t willing to spend on silly body parts that would just bounce back on their own. As the years have gone by I realize that I’m not able to bounce back like I used to. While I wasn’t running as much when I was younger, I still did a serious number on my arm from pitching and on my body from everything I was involved with as a three sport athlete.

In retrospect, my main focus aside from competing should have been studying ways to prepare and repair so that my body would continue to perform at its peak.

Now that I have more knowledge about how important it is to take care of your body before and after workouts and because I feel the results when I don’t!, I want to share with you some of the keys to how I stay healthy and positive in the midst of my sometimes demanding workout schedule.

Hydration

I can’t express how important it is to hydrate. Not only is it important for your daily intake, water flowing through your body promotes muscle growth, elasticity and less likelihood of swelling. You should focus on drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day – and even more if you’re losing excess fluid during the sweat session you’re putting yourself through.

Weights

Ever since college athletics I’ve been a little fearful of hitting the weight room. I never really enjoyed being put under a microscope and trying to hit a certain number for a bench press or a squat – especially when I was convinced that my form was off and was putting extra strain on my back. Now, I see that weight lifting and weight training is important to maintaining a healthy frame and keeping the balance so that the IT band, tendons and minor muscles aren’t exploited in new and straining exercises. Build up the muscles and they will protect you from further injury.

Foam Rolling

I was always intimidated by the Foam Roller but let me tell you – it’s become one of my best friends! You can find a foam roller at your local sporting goods store for around $20-$30 depending on the size. Foam rolling can be confusing for many people, especially because it can hurt so good. The YouTube video here can give you some key exercises that you’ll feel immediately and release that ugly fascia that sticks together just to be a pain. The roller I went for was at Dicks Sporting Goods (similar here).

And the stick!

Stretch

Stretching is important whether its before or after a workout and even is beneficial when you put your feet on the floor first thing in the morning. It wakes up your muscles and promotes elasticity that you surely will notice if you haven’t stretched in a while. I personally take the time several times a day to stretch – whether it’s at my desk, practicing good posture in the car or good old fashioned post workout hamstring and calf stretches. Try to spend at least five minutes a day stretching and you’ll notice the difference.

Massage Therapy

I am so thankful to have discovered the joys of massage therapy and how it can change your world in just one session. I spend 90 minutes a month in the hands of the amazing performance-changing Maggie of M Therapeutic. I’ve been a client of hers for close to two years now and it’s the one thing I look forward to most each month. I try to schedule my sessions toward the end of the month so that psychologically I can feel like I’ve worked out all of the kinks of the month’s mileage and refresh the mind for the upcoming days that round out my 100 miles.

If you’re interested in experiencing what I mean – go to her website (M Therapeutic) and book an appointment today. All new clients are eligible for a discount session at $55 for 60 minutes and more savings if you book three sessions in advance. She specializes in massage for acute & chronic pain, discomfort relating to sports & physical injuries and aptly addresses daily pains & stiffness. Tell her I sent you! 

It’s incredibly important to be in tune with your body and listen to what your muscles tell you. Help yourself prevent injuries and illness that may be roadblocks on the way to your personal goals. 

❤ JE