Sacrifices worth making (and those I'll never make)

It's no secret I've been working to lose weight and get in shape. Over the last six months, I've done a ton of working out, but I've also realized I can eat my way through any workout, so I've made lots of changes to my diet. I figure I'll try anything once, and thought I would share what substitutions will stay, and what I'll continue consuming, even if it is "bad" for me.

What I'm Loving:
  • Turkey bacon/sausage. I taste no difference and actually like the texture/flavor more being less fatty. Total win.
  • Spaghetti squash. The flavor/texture is totally different than noodles, but I like it and believe it's more filling! So good too!
  • Cottage cheese. The look of this was difficult for me to get over, but it's really good!
  • Peppers and hummus. I'm still not a fan of cooked peppers, but like it raw, and the hummus
  • The "flat out" type wraps from Aldi, etc. I use them in place of tortillas for breakfast, tacos, sometimes sandwiches
  • English muffins. Yum-O
  • Greek Yogurt. I especially love the Muller corner ones - I was buying plain and doing my own strawberries, etc. to mix in, so this makes life easier. And I have caught them on sale at Aldi before. (Not being paid to say that, just love them.)
What I'm Not Sure About:
  • Avocado. Tried it last week instead of mayo mixed with tuna. Don't think it was a good one and will try it again. (I mostly thought it was bland)
  • Skipping the cheese. Worth the 90 calories. However, I ran out of my cheese (swiss all the way!) and forgot to get some at the store over the weekend, so I've been doing my breakfast sandwich (English muffin, egg and 1 slice turkey bacon) without and actually haven't missed it too much.
  • Skipping mayo. Kinda depends on trying the avocado again.
  • Edamame. It's OK. I've tried both the dry roasted and the steamable bags. I don't mind the steamed but it's a LOT of work.
  • Banana pancakes. They would be better with syrup but I figured that may be defeating the purpose?
What I Never Want to See Again
  • Quinoa. That ish is disgusting
  • Brussels Sprouts. They even smell gross.
What else do I need to add to my list? I'm really trying to branch out and try new things, even though I am a super picky eater!

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Long weekend

Well friends, the hell that I refer to as summer hours is now officially over, which makes me super happy.

Anyhow, the hubs was on vacation last week, so I decided to take off Wednesday/Thursday (and of course was already scheduled off on Friday) so we could spend some time together. The original plan was to take Coop man camping, but since it rained/stormed on Wednesday and was a bit chilly (for July) on Thursday AND we had a mountain of work to tackle in our basement, we decided to just make it a working vacation.

I was able to get my basement mostly organized (we are doing work there now, so obviously it's not perfect as we are right now in the midst of hanging sheetrock, but trust me when I say it looks waaaaay better now than it did a week ago) and all that the basement bathroom lacks is a little more mudding/sanding and it's ready to paint! Progress, people. I also cleaned the entire upstairs of my house on Saturday. And on Friday, I spent half the day at my mom's, canning tomato juice and picking her green beans.  

Of course by the time Saturday-Sunday came around, it was again hotter than the hinges of Hades. I did get in a morning run on Sunday to prepare for my 5K this weekend. It sucked. Just sayin.

And later on Sunday. (when my friend's little boy came over for the afternoon) I said we were going to enjoy a bit. Our neighbors have a pool and we headed down there for a couple hours in the afternoon.

Crazy how with 5 days off, the weekend still felt too short!

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Back to school:: Campus Book Rentals

Since back-to-school time is just around the corner (I know, WHERE HAS TIME GONE!) I have again teamed up with to help promote them and their AWESOME savings.
 Back when I went to college, there were some semesters that my book bill was more than the tuition (thank you, scholarships :)) And now that I work for a community college, believe me, my jaw still drops when I see the cost of some of these books. Thankfully we rent out most of our books, but geez, I would hate to be shelling out the cost of most of those books!
That's why I think places like and their program, are amazing! The Rent Back program is for everyone - if you own textbooks, you can rent them to other students, and typically make at least 2 times the money that you would make selling it back to the College Bookstore at the end of the semester.
Some perks are:
- save 40-90% off of bookstore prices
- free shipping both ways
- students can highlight in the textbooks
- flexible renting periods
- they've had over 1 million customers and books on more than 5,800 campuses!

This is a pretty good video to explain just how works
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Something else I really love is that they donate to Operation Smile for every textbook rented. Operation Smile is an international children's medical charity that performs safe, effective cleft lip and cleft palate surgery, and delivers postoperative and ongoing medical therapies to children in low and middle income countries. I think this is such a worthwhile cause! Find more on that HERE.   
Y'all know I'm all about saving money, so I hope this helps some of you!

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Date night!

Since it was our anniversary last week and had been awhile since the hubs and I were able to spend any amount of time alone together {have I mentioned lately that my child WILL NOT SLEEP?} we got a sitter and headed out for a night on the town!

I was so excited. Other than our California trip, I can't remember the last time we went out for a kid-free meal that wasn't work related! So of course I had to get all dolled up and we had to take a few photos.

For dinner, we went to a new, local place called The Glenn. The chef/owner went to culinary school and then came back to Southeast Missouri and opened this AMAZING place! Anyhow, it's a sort of rustic, chic restaurant in a barn and was so cute. I am kicking myself for not getting any photos.

And the food ... AMAZING! Hubby and I both had the Strip steak, with mashed potatoes and green beans. We don't typically have dessert, but since it was a special occasion, we indulged with some chocolate caramel bread pudding. Holy yum! We also had some vino and bourbon.

After leaving, we just drove a few back roads. {Gotta love country life} And then being the hell raisers we are, we got home before 10 and proceeded to play with our kid before passing out.

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St. Louis trip!

Earlier this year, we bought some St. Louis Cardinal tickets at an auction. The date was open-ended, just had to be a Monday-Thursday game. Since I'm off on Fridays and it was easiest for hubby to do that as well, we decided on a Thursday game, and ended up going on the 10th!

Cooper is in the terrible twos so we debated whether to take him, but ultimately decided to do so. We figured that we had already been on a vacation earlier this year, so we should take him, and that we could make a little trip out of it and go to the Zoo, Grant's Farm, or some other fun stuff like that!

I actually had some comp time from working a golf tournament so was able to take off the full Thursday, which enabled me to get our packing and such done. Since I had to pick up hubs from work, we decided to just get straight on the road then! It had been a hectic morning and I didn't have time to whip up any lunch for C and I, nor did J pack his, so our first stop was Burger King!

Traffic was awesome and we had a good, quick trip to St. Louis. I had booked our rooms via Hotwire and we ended up staying at the Sheraton - super nice hotel! Once we got checked in, we explored a bit before freshening up for the game!

I let J pick what we had for dinner and he chose Hooters. Ha! Of course, my son would get his white jersey dirty within 2.5 seconds of his food being served. Then it was time to head to the game - which was actually Cooper's first (we did take him to a miner league game last year, however.)

We only had two seats, but realized quickly we should have purchased three. Whoops. Thankfully, we were surrounded by tons of people with kids or who liked kids (including our college "friend" Sara, who sat behind us and is studying to be a preschool teacher and loved playing with Cooper. Plus mama packed plenty of snacks :)

The game? Eh. It was horrible. We lost 9 to 1. Ouch. Anyhow, once it was over, we trekked back to the hotel (about .75 miles away) and settled in for the night. Our room was a suite, so we were able to have Cooper in the pullout couch!

The next morning was so leisurely! The hotel comped us breakfast, so we headed down. Ugh. NOT my best friend, especially since I already said I wanted to have Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I ended up with a bagel and some fruit. The boys had waffles. Wahhhh.

Then we headed up to the room to get changed for the pool. That made it worth having a healthy breakfast - ha! Once done in the pool, we went back to our room to shower and pack before checking out.

Within about five minutes of being on the road, Cooper zonked out. We had decided to visit Grant's Farm that day. I realized I was a bit hungry, so we figured we would pull over for some Subway (cheap and healthy!) to let him nap a bit longer.

If you are ever in the St. Louis area, you MUST try out Grant's Farm. You pay for parking, but admission is FREE! You get to walk through the famous Budweiser Clydesdale stables, then a tram takes you on a tour before dropping you off in another area. There is a carousel, stations to feed/see animals, animal shows, a Biergarten and more. AB even as a hospitality area where you get 2 free drinks (that alone was worth the $12 parking fee!) Cooper had a blast and really loved it. At the end there is a general store with pretty reasonable prices, and also a lake where you can paddle boat. We planned to paddle boat, but they would only let 2 people in each one (and Cooper was considered a person) so we chose not to, since we wanted to do it as a family.


After Grant's Farm, we headed to Chesterfield, and went to a running store. We were fitted for shoes/insoles, and it was pretty interesting! I learned that I overpronate so need a specific shoe for that - who knew? Then it was time for Cheesecake Factory!

It was a gorgeous day and as we drove up we noticed a lot of people sitting outside, so we were thrilled there was no waiting to be seated there. We had a yummy meal, then hit the road.

We had a great trip and I can't wait to take Cooper back!

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Potty training!

Well, Cooper has been more or less potty trained for a little over a month now (pretty much how long this has been sitting in my drafts) ... so I thought it was time for a post!

About a year ago, Cooper was starting to show interest in the potty, so we went ahead and bought one for him. Every now he would sit on it, but we never pushed it, just wanted him to do it on his own. At the same time, the babysitter started having him sit on the toilet when the other kids went - sometimes he would go, sometimes he wouldn't.

Over Christmas, we got him some underwear and started putting it on him every now and then, but it always seemed to be a waste. We would try on weekend when we didn't have plans, and we were hit and miss.

Right before we went on vacation in April, she told us he had been doing pretty well (still in dipes at this point) and they were flipping the switch once he got back. That meant the thick, training pant-type underwear during the day. For us, it was still hit and miss whether he would go in the potty or in his diaper. Lots of times at home he wanted a dipe instead of a pullup, but we told him "boppers" as he calls them, are for bed and for babies. Ha! The Easter bunny even brought him some Mickey and Jake undies to help make them fun!

Over the course of the next four or so weeks, Cooper kept doing well at daycare. One Monday we talked about how well he was doing but would always go once in the diaper. So I made the decision to just send him to daycare in his underwear and see how that went. He pretty much had no accidents. He did really great at home, too - we're keeping him in regular undies, and diapers for bed only. Hubby had him pee first thing in the morning and right before bed, he goes before we put on the diaper. Sometimes when we get out on the weekends (or last weekend when we went to St. Louis) we will still do a pull-up to be safe, but he's still doing great. A few weeks back, he did wonderful with me at the grocery store and on the way home said "mommy, it hurt. I need to pee!" but thankfully held it in a few minutes until we got home.

Back the week before the huge babysitter debacle, the babysitter took down his name for the diapers and sent all but a few home. I'm so happy to have diapers more or less behind us, but a little sad too. Where did my 9 lb. 13 oz. baby boy go?

For a long time I was debating when to pull the switch and do away with the diapers at night, and Cooper just made that decision for us! Before going to bed on Sunday night, I tried to put on a diaper and he said "No! I want my Jakes.) So we put those on, and he's been in undies at night all week with no issues.  

I think potty training is so different for everyone, but thought I would bullet a few things that worked well for us:
  • We didn't push too hard. We try to make going potty his idea.
  • However, we are firm. Once we got serious, it was diapers for bed only, and we told him that. In the mornings (or if he hasn't gone for awhile) we always make him try. Lots of times he may say "It not working!" but that gives him the opportunity and we think, makes him think about whether he needs to go.
  • Having a sitter do it was so great, because he was doing what all the other kids were doing.
  • Honestly, I only did about 5% of the potty training, hubby filled in the slack. He often takes Cooper with him, and they make it fun by peeing on the weeds or the house (perks of living in the country.)
  • Rewards. We did M&Ms as treats and made sure he knew that was why.
We are so proud of our little man, and have a little trip to St. Louis planned to help celebrate his accomplishment next month.

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Three year anniversary

Yesterday, hubby and I celebrated a big three years of marriage. No, it's not a HUGE anniversary - but it's our day and we intend to celebrate it, because these days, even three years seems hard for many couples (and believe me, we've had lots of ups and downs too!)

Leather is the "traditional" gift for the third year, so we originally bought each other Sperrys. I got a great sale and purchased them a few weeks back, but they have been sitting in the box, waiting for the anni (didn't want to jinx anything.)

WELL, then our friend the jeweler decided to do a big 50% off sale Monday-Wednesday of this week, so we ended up spoiling each other a bit more. Hubby wanted cuff links and I couldn't pick a fave, so figured I'd just get him two since they are half price. I wanted some new gold earrings and picked out a couple of less expensive pairs.

Then the owner walked in with a box of jewelry he had purchased at an estate sale. I browsed, trying on rings, etc. And I found THEM. The most beautiful pair of earrings ... a small hoop, with several diamonds set in yellow gold. They weren't priced so we asked ... and I almost choked and handed them back. I loved them more than I was willing to admit.

So back to yesterday. Of course, it was a 7-6 work day. Hubby offered to pick up Cooper, which was great! I pulled into the garage and got a call from hubby, asking where I was ... he and Cooper were around back and he wanted me to know.

I walked into the kitchen so I could hurry up and fill out his card. That boy had potatoes on the stove and the table was set, including wine glasses <3. Once I came downstairs, he was grilling. He had bought chicken, Caesar salad mix and crescent rolls. Yummy (Yes, I pretty much doubled my calories yesterday AND skipped my workout :)) We had some vino that we brought back from California earlier this year.

Then we opened our gifts. I looked at the one he gave me and CRACKED UP because when I was browsing cards I knew that if he saw that one, he would buy it for me. Then he said that he had the same one I bought him in his hand to buy until he found the one he did buy - ha!

So we opened our bags and I found these - what I told him my top pick was.

He loved his cuff links. I started cleaning up and then he walked into the room and handed me ANOTHER gift bag and said something like "since you were so generous I guess you can have this one too."

picture doesn't even come close to doing these beauties justice

And I found THESE! The expensive pair that I didn't expect at all. Yay! I love them and they are definitely an investment but gah! I may or may not have shrieked. And cried a little bit.

That husband of mine, he sure is a keeper :) Of course it's more than just gifts and home cooked suppers. Despite how much we get on each other's nerves, he is my best friend and the only person I want to live this life with. He is my heart and I'm so lucky to call him mine.

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Freezer cooking!

Finally delivering on the freezer cooking post!

Honestly, it's not ideal. There is definitely a bit of a loss of flavor when it comes to freezer cooking. However, it's a great alternative to grabbing food from a restaurant or if you are desperate, and I have found some tweaks that have made freezer meals MUCH more enjoyable this second summer that I have done them.

This summer, I have been fortunate that I had some personal time to use up before June 30, so I took off a couple hours early each Monday in June. So, I would still cook as usual on Mondays and we would typically have leftovers from that night and from whatever I prepared on Sunday. Which meant that really I only had to worry about dinner one night, which is typically Tuesday. All of my freezer meals (and most actual meals I cook) are larger, which means we can get at least 2 meals out of them. We don't mind leftovers, so this is great!

As I mentioned earlier, I did make some tweaks this year that made the flavor much better. For instance, last year I would assemble EVERYTHING but this year, I wait until I'm about to put the dish in the oven to add a topping such as cheese, or the crackers for a poppyseed chicken. Additionally, I try to let the dish sit at room temperature a bit before baking - if not, it seemed like I needed to slightly adjust the baking time to accommodate for the fact that it had been in the fridge. Also, I found it typically took 2 days in the fridge for a dish to thaw out - which works well since I menu plan on Sunday, I'll just pull whatever out of the freezer then and it's ready to go for Tuesday!

I like to take a day in late May (and another in June/July if needed) and just devote it to making up freezer meals. I try to do a variety so we get to eat a variety. This year, I ran out of time to mix things up, so I ended up just browning a couple lbs. of hamburger meat I had thawed - we used it then for spaghetti and tacos and I was able to save a little time. I always make sure that if I make a dish that has tomato sauce or something of the like in it to store it in a glass container or anything NOT foil/metal, because the metal/tomato mix can pull out acid.  I don't have a ton of casserole dishes and you'll see below that we like tomato sauce, etc. so last year I bought a couple of these and it worked out great! Easy to stack too :)

Here are some of the recipes we have used and like!

Spicy Sausage Pasta (sub tomato sauce for Rotel)
Skinnytaste Baked Broccoli Mac and Cheese (I add in chicken to make this a pretty complete dish)
Chicken Spaghetti (We aren't huge fans of the Rotel so I'll omit that next time)
Bow tie fiesta (I omit the onion and pepper and sub tomato sauce for the salsa)
Chicken Pot Pie (the crust would not get crispy, so I probably wouldn't do this again OR I would make the filling and freeze it, then pour over the crescent rolls prior to baking)
I also did a baked spaghetti, poppyseed chicken and tater tot casserole - recipes I've basically come up with on my own after testing out several. If you are interested in those, let me know.
Having these meals on hand has been a HUGE lifesaver to us in eating healthier for the past couple summers. I've learned that basically any meal can be made into a freezer meal, you pretty much do everything but bake! I have an extra fridge/freezer downstairs, and that's where I store mine.
I keep telling myself that every month, I should double one or two meals to keep these on hand year-round, not just in the summer yet. I haven't gotten around to that, but I think it would be great to have around!
So ... questions? Do you have any favorite freezer recipes I need to try?

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Our Fourth weekend :)

Gah. The longer the weekend, the harder the Monday.

Since we were scheduled to be closed on Friday anyhow, we ended up getting Thursday off to observe the 4th. I declared it a Coopy-Mommy Day and we had lots of fun.

By 9:30 a.m., we had breakfast (donuts for the lucky boy!) and played outside with bubbles, chalk and riding toys. We were both exhausted then so I set Cooper up with a movie while I escaped to my bedroom to work on a freelance design project, as well as argue with insurance people. UGH!


We took a little break for ravioli and such for lunch, then I got C to take a nap while I did more design work. Hubby got home kinda early, so I hurried to squeeze in my workout. Hubby wanted to get some hay cut, so he took off and I did a few other things around the house. Once he got home, we decided to pick up some fun fireworks for Cooper and went to town. It was kinda late, so we just dropped in BK for dinner.


Once we got home, we put on a little fireworks show. And swatted the bugs/mosquitoes.

Friday morning we slept as long as Cooper would let us, and then got up and at 'em! Hubby had broken a piece on his hay cutter the day prior, so went ended up at Orscheln.

His brother ended up finishing cutting the hay, so that was good --- once we got the piece fixed, we went home to get cleaned up and go to the Fourth of July picnic I grew up going to - they have fried chicken, chicken and dressing and so much more at this meal. No, I didn't track :) It's super small town, so we let Coop bounce in the jump house a bit and ride the "train" (driven by a lawn mower) then headed with my parents to their house.

My dad was burning the wheat fields that day so we provided some extra eyes. Thankfully there were no issues.

After that, we went home. It was after 5 and poor Cooper skipped his nap so he crashed while I did some work around the house/cooked supper. After we ate, we got cleaned up to go watch a larger fireworks show near where we live.


Saturday was busy! I think hubby spent the entire day outside, lawn mowing and weed eating, lol. I did end up doing my double workout since I never got it in on Friday.

Then Sunday morning I made hubby go for a run with me. Pushed the jogging stroller again and my biceps hate me for it.

Hubby had to finish the hay (which took until 10 p.m.) so I was a single mom most of the afternoon. Laundry. House work. Grocery shopping.

Clingy, crazy kid. Good thing he's cute, he's the reason I drink :)

This is a short week for us, as we are heading up to STL for a Cardinals game on Thursday! But I did do a quick little meal plan :)

Sunday: Leftovers/what we had in the fridge
Monday: Hawaiian chicken, rice, slaw
Tuesday: Pork chop and potato casserole, fresh corn on the cob
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday/Friday: Out/vacation
Saturday: Salmon patties, fried potatoes, macaroni in tomato juice

Monday morning selfie! Didn't intend to be patriotic but hey, it works!

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