Monday, February 8, 2016

Smoothie Recipe & New Workout routine

I have a habit of throwing everything but the kitchen sink into my smoothies with no advanced planning.  It always seems like a good idea at the time but I have gone wrong so many times with this method (but you'd better believe I still drank those smoothies.  I hate wasting food; I may or may not have been known to turn myself into a human garbage can if my kids leave food on their plate on occasion).  The past several days have been nutritional failures.  This morning, I was ready to get back on track, so after I took the kids to school, I decided it was time to torture myself with a Jillian Michaels' workout.  

In January, I started working out 3-4 days per week at home with Jillian's 30-day Shred, Level 1 of course.  Ho-ly Mo-ly was that tough!! The first week, I just felt like dying, puking, and passing out!! I knew I was out of shape but this was quite pathetic!  But don't let that scare you because after the first week or so, it did get easier.  I started off only completing about 80% of the workout and by the end of January, I could do the whole workout and finally, at the end of last week, I moved up to Level 2.  Moving up to Level 2 made me feel like I was starting all over again because Level 2 was much more challenging for me.  But the great thing to keep in mind here is that Level 1 got easier after a couple of weeks, so Level 2 will probably feel the same in that way.  And BTW, these are only 20 minute workouts; you can do just about anything for 20 minutes!  

This past week, I switched to Jillian's Ripped in 30 video.  This one includes a 30 day meal plan and the workouts are broken up into four weeks/levels.  In this video, Jillian recommends working out 5-6 days per week, so I'm upping my game!  Again, Level 1 is tough, but has gotten easier to complete with each new day.  I have one more day of Level 1 and then I'll be moving up to Level 2.  I feel like I'm getting stronger already from this past month of working out. 

After these high intensity workouts, I felt like I needed a super-nutrient packed smoothie afterwards.  So, I looked through my pantry and again just started dumping fruits and fillers into my Ninja blender and some were better than others.  I like that I can play around with different healthy foods for different tastes and textures.  

Last week, I discovered a new smoothie recipe using my dumping method and thought I would share it with you because it really was tasty and super-packed with good stuff.  I like this because it has a significant amount of protein and fiber, but the sugar content, albeit all natural, is probably higher than the ideal amount.  (Warning: If you don't like texture to your smoothie, you may want to change it up slightly.)

I'd love to hear what you guys think of this smoothie. I'm also curious if you have a favorite smoothie recipe, particularly a post-workout smoothie.  I'm always looking for new, yummy mixtures!



This recipe is for a single serving.  It can easily be doubled or tripled as desired.


1 c


1/2 c



1/4 c

1 tbsp

2 tbsp

Baby spinach leaves

Gala apple, small

Avocado slice, small

Almond Milk, Unsweetened

Chia Seeds


1.     Cut the fruits into quarters or smaller.
2.     Blend all of the fruits together in a blender until liquid.
3.     Pour in the almond milk, spinach leaves, chia seeds, and gelatin. Blend until desired texture.

NOTE: The chia seeds and small bits of spinach will add a texture to this smoothie.  Halve them if a smoother consistency is preferable.

Also, you can add ice if you prefer smoothies more chilled.

+ All of the links used in this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you buy the product using this link, I earn a tiny commission for referring you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Time for goals setting 2016


The last couple of years, I've intended  (I think I came through at least twice...) to update my goal progress at the end of each quarter.  I like sharing my goals with you (whoever is reading these posts) and I hope that you are encouraged to make your own goals for the year.  I feel spurred on to make more of an effort towards achieving my goals when I tell others about what I'm doing.

Our family has gone through so many changes the last couple of years; I never would have imagined being where we are. God has been teaching me more and more how trustworthy He is and that I need to fully depend on Him.  He is faithful and just, and cares about us so deeply.  I want my 2016 to be glorifying to Him, to be yielded to His plans and not my own.

Over the past several months, I have read several personal development books because I believe in always improving and working to learn new skills.  I've learned some things about myself, my work habits and attitudes that I never really understood previously.  For a long time, I have felt stifled and stuck in a box in my jobs and have had dreams and ideas of becoming an entrepreneur but I could not quite pin down my best idea, so I kept working my jobs.  I've been doing some brainstorming lately and reading a ton and I feel like I have narrowed it down but it's not ready to be shared just yet.

So, my first goal for 2016 is....Start a small business.   Do much more reading and research on the subject.  Test out some ideas on friends and family.  Drive down to a more specific niche and market.  Meet set financial goals for business.

Second goal....Read two non-fiction books per month, one of which should be either a biography or about a time in history.  This is not an ambitious goal for most of you, but I need to start somewhere.  I don't tend to make reading a priority, mostly because of the normally-crazy pace that we keep with careers and running after three kids.  I feel this goal is attainable and I don't want to set a crazy high bar for myself that I know I won't meet.

Third goal...Pay off last debt in Baby Step 2, our minivan.  We have been on this journey of paying off our debt since 2009, way longer than I thought it would be, but we have made a lot of progress with varying incomes over the years and this is our last one finally!

Fourth goal...Spiritual growth in discipline.  This one is not as measurable, obviously, but I have been praying over and working on my discipline for the past few months.  More specifically, with food choices and money spent on bad food choices.  Mostly fast food and eating out with my family.  Since I have been at home for the past three weeks, I have had a few temptations of impulse but have not given in!! That alone is a victory in itself.  Because I know that we won't be going out to eat much this year, I've allowed myself to buy treats at the grocery store that I never bought before.  I feel like it's still a better option to buy some less-than-superfood food from the store in lieu of fast food any day.

That's it for now.  I feel pretty good about these goals.  They're measurable, short-term, and attainable, yet still challenging, so I could use some accountability here, friends!  Please share your goals with me, too!

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Twas the week before Christmas and I started blogging again

It has been just over a year since my last blog post.  I've missed writing and sharing in this way.  Since I changed jobs last year, I have not had enough time to dedicate to writing every week.  Well, a little over a week ago, that changed.  I am no longer working at the law firm and am focusing on spending extra time with my family right now.  I have some things in the works but am not ready to share just yet.  I might be reaching out to some of you to gather some input at a future date, so stay tuned.

Today, we had Christmas at my aunt's house. It was a good day to hang out with family while the kids around together, being crazy.

The weather has been so mild this winter so far - we're supposed to get into the 50s on Christmas, which is unheard of in Illinois, but I will take it!

The kids are on Christmas break for the next two weeks and I'm hoping to make this time meaningful since we don't get this type of uninterrupted, unplanned chunk of time together.  So, here's the beginning of a list I'm putting together of the things we're planning to do:

1. Have a couple play dates with some friends we haven't seen in a while
2. Read at least two books together every day, including at least one that Jo can read to me.
3. Have free play time
4. Do a couple of science experiments using the kit and the book that Benji received/will be receiving for Christmas this year
5. Visit the Joliet Area Historical Museum
6. Send Benji and hubs off on a father-son day when he's home from work
7. Play a family board game
8. Play dress-up as a family
9. Play Uno
10. Do some art projects (Jo's new favorite activity)

And obviously, I have some organizing projects in mind during my down time when the kids are playing by themselves.

We've been reading the advent book every night before bed.  The advent book is a really cool hardcover book in which each page has a door and a small snippet of the Christmas story, when Jesus was born.  So each night in December, leading up to Christmas, we get to open the next door and on Christmas eve, we get to read the whole story.  The kids love opening the doors and the boys are taking turns reading the pages this year.  It's a lot of fun and helps them memorize the story and even some scripture.

I have always wanted to start some new traditions with my family during Christmas and the advent book was our first one.  I'd love to hear what you do with your family every year to help get some new ideas!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Snapshot of My Daily Life

Many nights through the week, I am home with the kids by myself because Hubs is working.  Friday night was one of those nights and it had been particularly exhausting.  And then it got even  better...Because after dinner time, I noticed the bathroom door was closed but I knew nobody was in there, so I went to open the door and found it was locked.  We have (had?) a special key for it somewhere but haven't seen it in years.  I kinda freaked out because I don't know how to pick a lock and it's our only bathroom and I was just envisioning how "creative" we might have to get if I couldn't get the door opened.

After a few hundred deep breaths, I decided to just take the doorknob off and open the door.  But then I realized I wasn't sure what to do after I got the knob off, so I called Hubs at work and was trying to explain and describe all the little parts inside and miraculously, he figured out what I was trying to tell him.  I was afraid that if I let the inner door knob fall into the bathroom, that I wouldn't be able to get the latch out of the hole where there used to be a door knob, So after a few minutes of trying, I finally found a tool that helped turn the rod so I could open the door.  I let out a huge sigh of relief and let Hubs get back to work.

I tried to then get the knob back on and in tact, to no avail, so I put all the parts on the top of my bed's headboard for Hubs to put it back together when he got home.  About ten minutes later, I brought Benji and Calah into the bathroom to get them in the shower.  While I was getting Calah into the shower, I hear the sound of the door shutting and I turn around to see my son realizing his mistake of closing the door with only a latch and no knob.  Now I had something ELSE to freak out about.  The three of us were locked in the bathroom!! No cell phone, no tools.  No way out.

Our only hope was a four year old that doesn't take direction very well and gets frustrated easily when he can't do something.  So after I calmed down, I peeked through the hole and called Jo over to the door.  I said, "Jo, I need you to go to my room..."  He walks away - to go to my room... I start laughing.  "No, Jo come back!" He comes back.  "Jo, I need you to go to my room..."  He gives me a mischievous smile and walks away again.  I am dying laughing at this point.  "Jo, please come back!"  So, he comes back and I tell him, "Jo, not yet, but in a minute when I'm done telling you everything...I need you to go to my room, climb up on my bed and look on the top of the headboard where my bank is, there is a doorknob with a big stick on it.  Please go get that and bring it here."  Surprisingly, he found it right away and brought it to the bathroom.  And he even stuck the rod into the hole in the very particular way it needed to be and saved us from the bathroom lockout caper of 2014!

I was thoroughly surprised and impressed that he could follow all of those steps and gave him the biggest squeeze of his life when I got out of that bathroom!  This type of stuff could fill pages upon pages in a book about my life story.  I love how God can use the people that we deem unable and unworthy to do big things and this whole thing was a great reminder of that.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Goals Update - Mid-Quarter because it's been six months

Goals update! Since we set the original goals for 2014, things have changed, so inevitably, some of our goals had to change, too.  So, here are the updates and additions of new goals.

1. Finish up Baby Step 2 by the end of the year

At this point, we have my 2013 medical bills (thank you FAI surgeries!), Hubs' student loan, and my student loan left. Current Expected Completion: December - We're planning to save all extra money coming in this year since our income will be somewhat unstable until we get settled into this new situation.  Once we know more how things are going to shake out, we'll be able to start using the money to put into the house and paying off debt as well as saving for our 10-year vow renewal celebration. 
Update 10/27/14 - We have been able to pay off my surgeon's bill but still have one bill from the hospital bill to pay off and we haven't made any progress on the student loans because we were putting everything into savings.  Over the summer, we used some of the savings for doing some necessary work on our house.  We are lining up all our debts and savings goals and are chipping away at them collectively.
2. Organize garage 

We need to clean it out once again and set up stations with more buckets. We already have heavy duty shelves all around the garage but we're not using them efficiently. Need to "pinterest" (c'mon, 10 years ago, Google wasn't a verb either...) some ideas. - This is still a definite in the plans; the only problem is that we're in the beginning of April and have only had about 1.75 nice days so far this year.  But, this will get done.  We're also planning on getting a new garage door once the organization part is done so that we can start parking at least one of the vehicles in there again.  It's only been since 2011...
Update 10/27/14 - Back in the early summer, we cleaned out about 70% of the garage but we've had to move some things into it again and it's disorganized once again.  I'm planning on getting us in there again one more time before the weather gets too frigid.  We're still trying to decide what to do with some of the extra furniture we have in the garage - it's still in good shape but we have nowhere to put it while in this home.  My best idea is to sell it on bookoo but I have some work to do to get those postings ready.
3. Career movement

Hubs is looking for a full-time job that will allow for more family time and we are praying for the opportunity of full-time ministry for him. I would love to start working in the paralegal field. I completed my certification in May and then had surgery, so that had to be put on hold for the moment. My first, concrete, short-term goal is to get involved with the IPA in my area for networking and learning opportunities. - This is where the biggest change is happening.  Due to the difficulties we've had finding a regular babysitter over the past month, our mind-set shifted.  You can read about it here.
Update 10/27/14 - Hubs is doing really well in his job; he's already been promoted twice in less than a year.  He also just had a meeting with the general manager who told him that he's ready for  Hubs to start the assistant general manager training program, so I'm really proud of and excited for him.  He's really enjoying the job.  I've been in my new job for six months now and for the first time in 10 years, I can actually say that I enjoy my job and it has allowed me to spend more time with my family.

4. Read one book per month

I need to create a list of the books I want to read this year but I'm sure I can easily come up with 12. Some fiction, some career, some christian living/family books. - I've done fairly well on this one.  So far this year, I've read Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling, and most of Waiting To Be Heard by Amanda Knox.  Hubs and I were teaching a class and putting together curriculum in addition to other things we've been involved with so far this year, so the past month has not given me much time to read.  But, I'm hoping to finish the Knox book and then move on to Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman.  I like autobiographies, can you tell?
Update 10/27/14 - I've definitely failed on this one.  I haven't read a book since April; I haven't been staying up on the news or the blogs I follow since April either.  We've been doing a lot around the house and with the kids for the past several months, so I'm okay with this one.  But I would like to get a reading list going again to finish out the year strong.
Confession Time: In February, we did poorly re: eating out but March was better.  April's budget for eating out is already gone, so we're going to have to start being more intentional in our planning, scheduling, and when we say yes to invites.  We love our friends and family and want to spend more time with them.  But, we'll just have to find ways to do that for free or inexpensively. 

I haven't seen the inside of the gym in about seven weeks.  I'm planning to go starting next week, at least twice.  Now that I don't have to get up at 5AM to go, I think I'll have more success.  We are playing volleyball right now and I have been walking a bit more, so I've at least been doing something that resembles exercise.

Update 10/27/14 - I've been working out at home more than anything and we haven't been seeing much progress on eating out but I have been doing better with lunches at work overall.

Thanks for reading!  I'd love to hear how your goals are progressing so far this year.  Let's keep each other accountable!

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