Whole30 Days 13-19

This week marked the halfway point of our Whole30 journey!  We are feeling good and I’m proud that we haven’t slipped up so far.  Here are our thoughts so far:

Pros:

  • Well Rounded Meals
  • Sitting Down to Breakfast starts the day off right
  • Making Healthy Choices
  • Becoming more aware of the hidden sugars and ingredients lurking in processed foods
  • No more headaches
  • Less Craving
  • Fewer trips to the grocery store with a solid meal plan
  • Discovered foods we didn’t know we would like

Cons:

  • Lot’s of meal prep
  • Expensive grocery bills – organic foods are killer!
  • Turning on the oven in 90 degree weather…
  • Lack of motivation to create a full meal after a long day (this is when we used to fall into the takeout habit)
  • So. Many. Dishes

Honestly we haven’t noticed any of the main things we were looking for, ie: more energy, better sleep at night, clearer skin, etc.  And we obviously won’t know whether there was any weight loss until the end.  Overall the pros outweigh the cons, but there certainly haven’t been any life changing moments.

On to the meal plan!

Whole30 Meal Plan
Weekly Meal prep for Whole30 Days 13-19
Whole30 Meal Plan
Whole30 Meal Plan for Days 13-19

We are continuing to use our meal planning app, which is a great way to keep us on target and share meals for the week.  This is not endorsed, but we are using the free version of “Meal Planner” from the apple store.  I give it 2 thumbs up.  You will see meals being repeated, we are falling back into comfort zones, easy meals, and ones we have found we really enjoy.  I don’t have photos for every meal, just the new or really great ones!

Without further delay… da photos:

Whole30 Breakfast
Sunday Breakfast, 2 scrambled eggs and trail mix. Dried fruit and nuts, lots of healthy fats.
Whole30 Lunch
Sunday Lunch: Zoodles with a cold heirloom tomato sauce and pesto
Whole30 Dinner
Sunday Dinner: Compliant Hotdogs, avacado oil chips and broccoli slaw with compliant ranch

We have received some skepticism regarding how there could possible be a “whole” hotdog, aren’t they super processed food?  The best brand we have found is Applegate.  Again, NOT endorsed, we just love them.  Applegate creates natural and organic meats.  Here is their label, which shows that the hotdogs are made from grass fed beef and other simple ingredients.  No preservatives, no antibiotics, no added sugar, no nitrates.  We highly recommend them, not the easiest brand to find, but we found them at Wegmans.

Applegate Hotdog, Whole30 approved
Applegate Hotdog Label, Whole30 approved
Whole30 Lunch
Monday Lunch, Turkey Burgers with Pineapple Mango Salsa, Avocado Oil Chips and Guacamole
Whole30  Dinner
Monday Dinner: Garlic Shrimp on a bed of Zoodles
Whole30 Breakfast
Tuesday Breakfast: 2 scrambled eggs and chicken sausage (Also Applegate brand!)
Whole30 Dinner
Tuesday Dinner: Crockpot Pot Roast and potatoes. Seasoned with pineapple juice not from concentrate, coconut aminos, garlic and onion
Whole30 Dinner
Wednesday Dinner: Pan fried polish sausage, carrots and oven roasted sweet potatoes. We tried the sweet potatoes with cinnamon, not bad!
Whole30 Lunch
Thursday Lunch: Pico de gallo, avocado, bacon and hard boiled eggs wrapped in lettuce.
Whole30 Dinner
Thursday Dinner: Onion burgers topped with guacamole and a oven roasted potato medley
Whole30 Dinner
Friday Dinner: More Zoodles topped with Applegate Hotdogs. This was one of the hottest days this summer…I had to adjust our meal plan to avoid turning on the oven!
Whole30 Lunch
Saturday Lunch: Bed of arugula and spinach topped with cherry tomatoes, blueberries, red peppers and smoked salmon. Odd combination, but it was really very good.

We had a lot of really good meals this week, and a lot of repeated meals.  But I think that is ok.  I am finally getting comfortable with the ingredients I can use that I’ve been able to branch out from just strictly following recipes, which has felt pretty good.  Would you like to see some recipes on a later post?  Let me know if you do, I would be happy to share!

Welcoming 2016

Happy New Year!  I absolutely love this time of year, for me it has always been about fresh starts and new beginnings.  I don’t usually do “New Years Resolutions” because I generally set myself up for failure.  But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a time to start fresh and a time for thinking ahead to what we can accomplish in the new year.

This year we are looking forward to many things, particularly finding a place to call our “home”.  And we have certainly started off the year full force ahead!  We visited 8 homes today.  Talk about exhausting!  In the meantime we have major budgeting goals and will be starting to put into place the debt snowball method.  We haven’t checked out Dave Ramsey’s book yet, but if you are interested in learning more about the Debt Snowball Method I would recommend checking out his book: The Total Money Makeover.

In addition having relocated Simply Living to this location, and finally purchasing our own domain, is a big New Year step!  Out with the old and in with the new!  I’m excited for the potential that this new location has to offer us and I’m excited that you are all along for the journey!

And now, here is how we ended 2015…

Homemade Donuts!
Homemade Donuts!

That’s right…we made homemade donuts!  It’s been years since we’ve done a NYE party, and tend to prefer staying in and enjoying each other’s company instead.  So this year we decided on games and appetizers, and then to try a new recipe for dessert.  Gotta check off another month, if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, check out my Ravioli post where I talk about my birthday wish.

The best part is how easy this recipe was.  You would never be able to tell based on how amazing they tasted.  We only needed to purchase one ingredient, we already had the rest in the kitchen, and it took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients needed:

  • Pillsbury Homestyle Biscuits
  • Melted Butter (about 1 cup)
  • Cinnamon and Sugar mixed together, use judgement, we mixed until light brown.
  • Oil for frying (We used vegetable Oil)

That’s it…told you it was easy!

Step 1:

Cut the donut hole out with a cookie cutter.  We didn’t have a circle, so we used a star, and it was straight up adorable.

Star donut holes, because, why not?!
Star donut holes, because, why not?!

Step 2:

Warm oil in pan on medium high.  Add biscuits and brown on each side.  The middle still seems gooey, but I promise that will make them soft and delightful.

Brown biscuits in warm oil
Brown biscuits in warm oil

Step 3:

Dry and cool fried biscuits on a plate with a paper towel.  We fried 4 at a time, so we cooled 4 while we fried the other 4.

Cool on a plate with a paper towel. This will also absorb excess oil
Cool on a plate with a paper towel. This will also absorb excess oil

Step 4:

Once all biscuits are cooled, dip one side into melted butter.  Drip off excess butter and dip into cinnamon sugar.  Repeat on other side.

Donuts and Donut holes dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar.
Donuts and Donut holes dipped in butter and cinnamon sugar.

Step 5:

Enjoy!  OH wow they were SO good!  So good that I need to emphasize with all caps!  They were unbelievable warm, but were still soft and yummy the next morning.

Homemade Donuts!
Homemade Donuts!

I would absolutely recommend this recipe.  Not only are they delicious, but they are super easy.  They made the perfect dessert with our sparkling apple cider on NYE, but they would also make a wonderful addition to a breakfast or brunch.  No messy recipes, no deep frying, easy peasy and YUM!

What are your plans for the New Year?

New-Sunday-Features-I-Love-To-Party

The Resourceful Mama
Mom's Small Victories

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Easy to make Sensory Foam!

As I continue to explore sensory ideas for the kids, I came across a fluffy looking foam.  Now my Pre-kindergartners are happy as a clam with a “car wash” or baby bath activity.  So I knew that they would love this foam.  It’s even safe and great for younger toddler age friends.

SO here is all I needed…a hand mixer, dish soap, and liquid water colors.  I’m sure that food coloring would work just as well, but if you haven’t seen Liquid Watercolors before, check them out!  I love discount school supplies brand, but I’m sure there are others out there.
IMG_4948
Hand mixer, dish soap, and water colors…so simple!

The fluffier you want your foam, the less water you add.  I added just a little soap to the bottom of the bowl, and added about 3 cups of water and a few drops of water color, and put the mixer on high.
IMG_4949
Lot’s of bubbles!
 Before long the foam starts to thicken up.  This is also a step that you could have the older kids help you with.  Turn it into a science and math project!  Make the measurements, and then predict what will happen to the liquid once you start mixing it together.
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Getting fluffier!
I did a variety of colors, and dumped them into our larger sensory bucket.  The kids loved the rainbow effect!
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Add in different tools and materials for the children to explore a variety of ways
This was ocean week, so I added some sharks and whales, and second bucket with plain water for rinsing.  We used cups, spoons, watering cans, measuring cups, funnels, and all kinds of other exploratory tools.  The kids had a blast!  It can get messy, but that’s ok!  And the best part is, this was totally free!  I had all of the necessary ingredients right in my kitchen.
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Look how foamy and fluffy this looks.  The kids couldn’t wait to get their hands on it!
If you decide to experiment with some sensory fun, let me know what your kids think!

Peakle Pie

Linked to I heart Naptime and creative jewish mom

Tile Table Top

Months ago I remember bookmarking Kimba’s fantastic tile artwork (shown here) with the idea that I would try something similar down the line.  I took my spin on her idea, and found a few money saving tips along the way!  Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of my process, so check out Kimba’s fab tutorial if you’re a visual learner!

First, I started with a good old Ikea Lack side table, for only $7.99!  It’s a bargain, but certainly looks a little plain.  I picked a color that I thought went well with my decor, and was a little more special than good old white.

$7.99 Lack Table – Ikea

Next it was off to Home Depot for the rest of the supplies.  First, I picked out tile that I thought went well with the color of the table.  I found gorgeous glass tiles, that matched perfectly, came in 12×12 squares, and were only $4.97 a piece.  Not too shabby!

Not the exact tiles I used, but pretty darn close!

Next on my list was the adhesive and grout.  This is where bargain #3 came into play.  I found a pre-mixed adhesive AND grout all rolled in to 1.  Since this was a small project and I knew I didn’t need much to work with, I thought this was the best idea.  For only $8, I snatched it right up.  I chose a white color that would blend well with the color of my table and tiles.

Adhesive and Grout, all rolled in to 1!

Next up, since I was new to the whole tile business I needed all the tools.  Get ready for bargain #4!  Home Depot has this fantastic Tile Installation Kit, all the tools I needed for under $6!  I’ll take it.

The “tools”

The only thing left on my list was a sponge, which is super cheap.  Overall my project cost just over $40, but if I decide to make another one I still have left over adhesive/grout, and all the tools.  Which means I would only have to purchase the table and tiles.  Not bad over all.

Now that I had all the necessary supplies it was time to get busy.

Step 1:  Clean off the surface, and make sure it is completely dry.

Step 2:  Measure out your tile.  Since my table surface was a little smaller than the 4 sheets of tile, I had to trim off some of the edges.  But these glass tiles were incredible easy to work with and I just had to cut through the netting that attached them.

Step 3:  Once you have the correct amount of tiles, it’s time to lay the adhesive.  Since I was working with a relatively small surface area I didn’t have to worry about my adhesive drying, so I spread on enough to cover one sheet of tiles.  I used a paint stir stick to grab some adhesive, and then used the trowel (metal thing with notches) to spread it out evenly.  I went over my patch of adhesive with the notched side to make the lines in the adhesive.

Step 4:  Next, you lay down your tile.  Make sure you press it into the adhesive so everything sticks.  Some of the adhesive came up in between my tiles, you can wipe this off with a wet paper towel, but in my case since my grout was the same as the adhesive, I just left it.

Step 5:  One you have attached the first set of tiles, spread more adhesive and keep applying tiles until you have covered the whole surface area.  Because my surface area was so small I eyeballed everything, but if you are laying tile in a large area, invest in spacers, they will help keep everything evenly spaced and neat looking.

*One thing to look out for is tile hanging over the edge.  Because my table size was a little different than the tiles, I did end up with a little over hang of tile, avoid this if possible, especially with a table, because you don’t want the end tiles to get knocked off. oops!

oops, try not to let your tile overhang the edge

Step 6: Next, follow the directions on your adhesive about drying time.  I let mine dry overnight just to be sure!

Step 7:  Now its time to grout.  I again used the paint stir stick to glop on a large amount of grout onto my tiles and then used the float (the rubber tool) to squish the grout in between all the cracks.  Try to spread it out evenly across your whole surface.  Don’t worry about the grout on top of the tile, that will get cleaned up later.  Just make sure you get it in between each tile.

Step 8:  Once you have covered the whole surface with grout, allow it to dry.  I gave mine a few hours.

Step 9:  It’s time to clean up the surface.  Take a bucket of clean water and your sponge and start wiping off the surface of the tiles.  I had to use a little extra elbow grease, but was able to wash off the tiles without any of the set grout (in the cracks) coming off.

Here’s what my surface ended up looking like!  I think this would look pretty even as a wall hanging.

finished table top

I then allowed it to dry again over night, just to make sure everything would properly stay in place.

As with any piece of furniture from Ikea, the table comes unassembled.  You get the table top, 4 legs, and 4 double sided screws.

I found it easiest to put the table surface upside-down on the floor, twist the screw a few times into the surface, and then balance the leg on top of the screw.

Flip the table upside-down, and screw in the leg

Next just keep twisting.  The screw will twist into the leg and the table at the same time, and having the gravity from being above the table helped a lot.  Do this with all four legs….and then turn it over!

tada!

Here’s a look at my finished table, in the daylight up close:

And here’s it’s permanent home….for now!

 I love how the candle’s reflect the tiles on the wall.  I think the simple, and cheap, change made a huge difference with this table!  I’m pretty pleased with the outcome!

**Please click on my Linky Party tab at the top of my blog, or click here, to see some of the parties I participate in. Also check out all the other fabulous projects going on!  Thanks for hosting Girls!**