Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's Up Wednesday {Jan 2016}

Today I'm linking up with ShayMel & Sheaffer for this months What's Up Wednesday!  The questions are in green so check it out and join the fun. 

{WHAT WE'RE EATING THIS WEEK}

I've totally been working on healthy eating this month with lots more protein, less carbs and healthy fat.  I try to follow a mix of 40% Carbs, 30% Protein and 30% Fat (primarily from healthy sources).  My main focus has been limiting "bad" carbs and sugar from my diet so while I'm still having Ezekiel bread here and there for snacks I've definitely stopped eating my fave chips and hot sauce anytime I want.  It was harder after turning 40 but let me tell you after turning 45 I seriously can only get belly fat off by following a plan like this.  No amount of exercise will take it off of me if I don't eat a healthy mix and limit sugar.
I made these "nachos" Tuesday night and they were so yummy.  Nachos are one of my favorite things to make so I used mini bell peppers stuffed with taco meat (ground chicken) and topped with a little 2% cheese and my favorite toppings.   This was super satisfying.

***If you are visiting from Erika's blog here is the Pork Chop Crockpot Recipe***
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pkg brown gravy mix
1 can chicken broth
1 pkg dry onion soup mix
Stir together
Add 4-5 pork chops (I use boneless because typically with bone in they fall apart)
Cook on low 5-6 hours
Serve over brown rice

{WHAT I'M REMINISCING ABOUT}

For the past 3 years college baseball has ruled my life.   I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling a little sad as I begin seeing all the hype knowing we will not be heading to Fort Worth every weekend.

{WHAT I'M LOVING}

 Watching this kid play basketball!  He has gained some confidence on the floor and it has been so fun to watch.  I have been so consumed with baseball for so long that I forgot how much I love to watch a good basketball game!  

{WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO}

It has been fairly normal and routine around here.....dance, basketball, work.  Oh...and I'm getting up at the ass crack of dawn.  :)  Working on a little night owl conversion you can read about why here.  

{WHAT I'M DREADING}

If you stopped by the blog this week then you probably already know we will be saying goodbye to a loved one this week.  It is always hard to say goodbye but I'm especially anxious about this funeral as I know how heartbreaking it will be to see this young wife and four little girls say goodbye to their favorite guy.  Please keep the Taylor girls in your prayers!  

{WHAT I'M WORKING ON}

My mom turned 70 last month and for Christmas I gifted her a family photo shoot.  I really want great pictures of her with my brother and I and all the grandchildren.  Really great pictures!  So I'm working on pulling together outfits right now.  
I want everyone to be comfortable and feel good in what they are wearing.  I think she is going to wear her favorite jeans, boots, cream sweater and leopard scarf.  With that combo I think if the rest of us stay with warm neutrals like browns, grey, black and even olive it will work out well.  The pictures will be outside so I've got my fingers crossed for great weather!  This is a one shot deal since getting everyone together pretty much takes an act of congress.  

{WHAT I'M EXCITED ABOUT}

I love adding little touches around my house for holidays and Valentines day is no exception!  
I found these pillows 50% at Kohls and was super excited to add to our bed.  Every night as Keith gets ready to get into bed he calls it the "great pillow migration" moving everything out of his way.  
I was not able to find the Live Happy pillow online but the LOVE Pillow was available.  

{WHAT I'M WATCHING/READING}

Y'all....Keith and I are STILL watching Friday Night Lights!  We are almost through season 4 and just one more to go.  I'm not going to lie, I'm now understanding the whole #teamriggins craze! However, the relationship between Eric & Tami Taylor has so reminded me of Keith & me and goodness I just think he's so good looking.  
I mean really....doesn't he kind of look like my husband?  I keep asking Keith if he thinks it's too late for him to go back to school to become a coach.  :)

I'm struggling with reading right now to be perfectly honest.  I am currently reading two books and I just..cannot..stay focused on either one.
This book is sooooo great...almost too great!  It deserves my full attention and I was able to make it through quite a bit in November but then the holidays hit and I just haven't been able to get back to it.  This is a book you have to focus on and I've been highlighting like crazy because I know I will want to flip back through and take some notes.  There are definitely some aha moments in this book!
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
I have been the most disappointed in this book so far.  I mean I loved DJ Tanner and I love Candace in interviews, etc but this book is just not reeling me in at all.  I'm not quite halfway through so I'm trying to stay positive.
Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose

I have two books, Winter Street and Still Alice, that I am dying to bust into but I will not let myself until at least one of these is complete!!  

{WHAT I'M LISTENING TO}

While everyone else is listening to Spotify and Pandora, I'm still creating playlist and buying (yep really buying) music on iTunes.  We all received a bunch of iTunes cards for Christmas and a grabbed a few new favorites.  I created a playlist titled My God Fix and it is full of all my old and new Christian favorites.  My very favorite right now is Come as You Are with My Story being a close second.  I use to be so intimidated by Christian music and that seems so crazy to me now.  It totally calms my spirit no matter what is going on.  

{WHAT I'M WEARING}

Lots of layering with my vests lately!  I finally figured out a few ways to wear my {herringbone vest} that work for me which was great since it has been sitting in my closet since November!
 Scarfs can just totally change an outfit and give it new life.  I just love them for any season but fall and winter they are definitely my favorite.  My blanket scarf on the right shows how much less bulky it looks after I cut it in half compared to the picture below on the left.  I've worn it more since cutting it in half than I probably wore it the last 2 years!
Pattern mixing has definitely become one of my favorite things!  Plaid & stripes?  Yep you can do that!  I really never even thought about leopard and stripes but, hey, look how easy it pairs together!  I pulled out all the stops in exhibit three with a plaid, herringbone, leopard combo.  Don't be afraid to try different combinations.  It will not always work and you have to be conscious of the size of of the patterns playing together but once you find a great combo you will know immediately!
Black & White Stripes
Follow along with all my daily outfit inspiration on Instagram.  

{WHAT I'M DOING THIS WEEKEND}

We don't really have anything planned this weekend which is always a nice feeling.  I would like to pull my Valentines Day items out and add a few touches here and there.  If I could find the time to scrapbook all my Christmas cards I would feel super productive but I'm not sure that will happen!  Here is a little sneak peek of some of my favorite things to decorate with.  

{WHAT I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT MONTH}

As much as I love watching Dillon play basketball, I have to say I'm looking forward to 6:30am practices coming to an end.  He doesn't run track so we will be back to a "regular" morning schedule of the remainder of the school year!  

{WHAT ELSE IS NEW}

Some of you may know my friend Katy and I host a monthly linkup, Queen Bees, where we honor a woman who has inspired us.   We know so many of you have women to honor in your lives but you just may need a little prompting for a blogpost.  We decided to plan a little guide for the year to help you identify those special ladies.  By all means link up any post you have old or new but if you are looking for inspiration we hope this helps!  Please let us know if you have any questions at all!  To see all prior Queen Bees post visit here.  

{Bonus Question:  Favorite Valentine Treat}

Chocolate covered strawberries for sure!  So simple and so delicious!  

So that's what's up with me!  What's up with you??  

Visit my contact page here for all the fun linkups I'm joining during the week.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Let's Talk - New Years

Today I'm joining Erika & Andrea for the Let's Talk series.  I just love that these girls put together fun little series like this each year.  You should totally take a look and follow along!  
So what are we talking about today?  2016....resolutions, goals, what we are looking forward to.  I always love the beginning of a new year; a fresh new calendar full of possibility and adventure.  
The Queen in Between Blog
Earlier this month I chose the word RECEIVE as my focus for the year.  If that seems like an odd choice you will have to hop on over and read my full account. After choosing to be present in 2015, I knew there had to be something I was still missing.  Sometimes just being present isn't enough but really taking the time to receive all the gifts that surround us takes actual effort on our part.  Already this year I feel like I'm taking notice and working to absorb the things around me whether it is at work, at home or with those outside my family.  Even at church and with my quiet time I feel like I've opened my heart to receive more.  

In order to be open to receive, I had to really take a hard look at myself and make some changes if all the things I say are important to me are really receiving the important spot they deserve.  Although I'm quite the nightowl, I decided the only way to have more time and less stress in my day was to go to bed earlier and become an early bird.  I'm proud to say since writing Grateful for Wisdom and laying out my plan, I have only slept in one morning (other than weekends of course). The result has been a clearer mind to absorb God's word (I've been following along with the First 5 app which I highly recommend), time to knock out and organize a few blog posts and respond to comments more frequently and Carly Jo is happy about leaving the house before 7:40.  Less stress means more smiles and less cortisol and lets face it...at 46 I need to reduce that cortisol as much as possible! 

Every year I start out strong in January with clean eating and consistent workouts and this January has been no exception.  I've been meal planning and logging every morsel I stick in my mouth. Typically around June/July when schedules aren't as tight, I tend to start cheating a little more here and a little more there.  The college students desert our little college town and we eat out so much more.  And then there is the fact that a cold beer just taste so darn good in the summer!    I'm hoping this year to stay on track more and cheat less.  This is not a diet....it is a lifestyle choice to be as healthy as I can but still indulge sometimes.  

Budget..oh my goodness how we need to get back on a tight budget!  Now that both my bigs are out of college and we have a short 4 1/2 years before we start all over again, it's time to put a closer eye on our finances and set some goals for where we would like to be at the end of 2016 and after 5 years.   I would really like to knock out some car payments for sure before Dillon starts driving.   Hopefully Keith & I will be able to steal some time away to work on this soon.  

I'm looking forward to some family time this year and although we haven't booked anything special I'm hoping for a vacation around spring break.  We will also be traveling to Springfield, Missouri in June with Dillon's baseball team so if any of you have any suggestions for fun things to do in Missouri I would love to hear about it!  Vacationing with Bigs & Littles seems to continue to be a challenge but I hope to plan a trip at Thanksgiving or Christmas for all of us to get away somewhere we can all consider fun.  Cause y'all....the last time we all ran away for a week and just hung out together somewhere fun was in 2009!!  That's way too long.  


Home Projects!  My list is always ongoing where my house is concerned but I've been saving up money and after 12 years I really hope to complete a few rooms this year.  

Remove box light in kitchen and add recessed lighting and pendants
Paint Carly Jo's room and update bedding, wall art, etc
Choose a new closet layout for Carly Jo's room
Retile master bathroom shower 
Retile kids bathroom tub
Paint kids bathroom

Okay, I'm totally stopping my list there before I get carried away; plus look how nicely it aligns and I didn't even try!!  Somewhat of a cheat is the first item because it is all but completed but I still wanted it noted here. 
I'm slightly cheating by putting this on my list because this ugly box and the ridiculous light about my sink are, in fact, gone!!  The ceiling has been repaired and recessed lighting is in but I haven't painted yet.  Once that is done I will share my entire kitchen remodel. 

See where else I am linking up today here.  Below are all the future dates and topics for the Let's Talk series!  Join the fun.  


Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Queen's Chronicles {2}

Any week that starts with a holiday is A-ok by me!  The week flew by and we had an extra day at home together which left me feeling super prepared for the week.  
 Breakfast may be my favorite meal and I love enjoying it without feeling rushed.  I've been slightly obsessed lately with Ezekiel bread topped with either peanut butter or avocado.
 I left the selfie stick unattended for just a brief moment but I'm not sad to say I'm so glad she's not shy about taking selfies!  I loved finding this on my phone!  We had lunch with my mom at Jason's deli before she headed home.  
You can't tell by the looks on their faces but these boys had the best day fishing some local ponds. 
 I was able to meal prep these egg cups which made quick and easy breakfasts for me all week long.  1 pkg Jenni-O turkey sausage, 5 eggs, 10 egg whites, pico de gallo and some chopped mushrooms
 These two were enjoying a game of Jenga.....I love how much she loves her dad and I love that he will play games like this with her.  We were talking about how different dads are this week and she says "yeah, dads are just so free spirited and not uptight".  Wait...who's uptight??
 Seriously you guys....I have been so stinkin' good since January 4th and I showed up to a meeting on Tuesday only to smell these the entire time!!  I did finally cave and had one donut hole AND I was honest and logged it in my fitness pal....AND if I'm being honest it really didn't bring me the joy 52 calories should!  
On Wednesday I hooked up for a little friendly working lunch with my pal Katy.  We host the Queen Bees linkup each month and are changing things up just a bit so stay tuned!  
 We had a work social Wednesday just after work and this was seriously the best dirty martini I had ever had!!  I didn't realize how many calories were in it before I drank it thankfully.  Wine is safer....just saying.  
 Am I the only one with this issue....obviously running out of gas does not frighten me!!  
So this picture was NOT taken on Wednesday night but I stole it from my daughters IG from her weekend.  Wednesday night Keith & I finally got to have a double date with her and her new beau and really meet him for the first time.  I feel like I gave fair warning that I have a blog so I can post him here right?!!  They were adorable.  I did have to crack up because they were talking about watching the bachelor and he said since fantasy football is over they actually had a bachelor draft for the girls.  I think this guy fits in just fine with our crazy family.  
 This day was a total fail.  Y'all...I have been uber good....like no sugar other than natural sugar (and that one damn donut hole) and I do feel better (which should be enough) but after logging every morsel I stuck in my mouth for 3 weeks the scale has not budged.  I drowned my sorrows with a Jason's deli chocolate chip cookie at a workshop and then this...this platter of fried crap (shared with Carly Jo) that tasted so good.
Thursday & Friday were both super windy and cold but this girl and I ventured out to have some chicken chili at Jason's (copycat recipe linked in my Souper Thursday post).  It seems to be on my mind a lot lately!  We both celebrated our work anniversaries this month which also means we are celebrating our friendaversary....we became friends almost immediately upon meeting at work a short 22 years ago!!  That's a lot of history folks.  
 The boys headed for some duck hunting Saturday morning and, again, he had more fun than his expression is implying!  It was super cold! 
 Sunday was National Peanut Butter day and who am I to skip a celebration especially where food is involved!  I added a little apple and it was delicious.
This one was not feeling so chipper after a birthday party sleepover Saturday night but dad's snuggles made it better.
Terrible pic but I will take what I can get!!  I have so enjoyed having this boy come to town each weekend.  He will be off to spring training soon and it will be a long 7 months without him around here.  I'm not sure I have mentally prepared for that yet.  
 We took Dutch to the dog park for the very first time and THIS is what he thought about it.  The little stinker stood by our side for the longest before finally finding a dog he was interested in playing with.  
On our way home we stopped to see my friend Lallah's new golden doodle, Stormy, and she is just the most precious puffy pup I've ever seen!  Dutch tolerated her a little and thankfully he is now sound asleep!  


While most of our week was normal, on Friday morning we received the tragic news that our cousin, Ryan, had passed away unexpectedly.  His wife, Kate, is Keith's first cousin and they are a precious little family with 4 little girls.  Ryan actually performed the service marrying Keith & I and their family is so special to me.  As you can imagine they are hurting in ways none of us can know unless we have been there.  Please keep Kate, the girls and their parents, brothers & sisters in your prayers as they prepare to say goodbye this week.  

I will be hugging my family a little tighter and noticing the little things a lot more than usual this week for sure.  

To see where I may be linking visit my contact page here.  

Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Favorites - Cozy

Don't you love four day weeks?  Mine has flown by and I can hardly believe it is Friday already but I am not complaining!  The temps are finally such here in Texas we can finally think about snuggling up.  I thought today I would share some of the things keeping me cozy these days!  

{Sweaters}

I should have listened to Shay last year when she talked about how amazing this Halogen cashmere sweater was.  It is back this year and I finally ordered this exact blue one now that it is marked down. I ordered in both a medium and a large and I am keeping the large for a little more length.  Listen...if you like soft sweaters order this one!!  There are still a few sizes left in several colors and I've also linked the v-neck style because there are far more colors in this one.  The cream turtleneck Cassie has sported since fall and I received this one this week too and y'all....super soft!   This sweater is also super lightweight and easy to layer.  I actually purchased the medium because I wanted this color but it also comes in grey.  I'll be watching for the colored options to go on sale soon because it is so comfy and perfect length for leggings.  This last sweater I have not received but did order and can't wait to try it.  I've seen Jo-Lynne sport it several times and I love the cut so we will see.  I will be wearing the blue today so if you follow along on Instagram I'm sure there will be a selfie!  

{Coffee}

I drink coffee every morning all year round and typically I'm drinking coffee from home.  I have found my way to Starbucks several afternoons due to receiving some fun gift cards for Christmas.  I am a black coffee drinker for the the most part but Starbucks now has coconut milk so I have been adding a splash steamed and y'all...the steamed milk just makes the coffee so much more perfect.  Dutch & I enjoyed a little peace and quiet as we waited for sister to finish dance.  Oh...and yes that is my $12 BP ring!  Seriously friends..this is the best $12 bucks I've spent on an accessory and I go nowhere that someone has not commented on it!!  Nail color is Black Cherry Chutney in case you are interested.  Having my nails done also makes me feel cozy and I love dark colors this time of year.

{Soups}

If you like soups to keep you feeling cozy this time of year, you will want to scoot over and find all my favorites here!  I'm thinking a pot of chicken chili is going to be on my weekend list.  Soup not your thing?  I also shared a killer perfect pasta yesterday and you can find that recipe here.

{Layers}

I think these pictures speak for themselves....I feel coziest with layers!  There has been lots of layering this month and I could not be happier about it.  I will say I cut my blanket scarf in half last week and was able to wear it without feel like I was smothering.  

{Friends}

Friendships are the best aren't they? Whether they are the "in person" meet you for lunch kind of friends, the share every single moment of your life friends or the blogger friends we meet here every day, friends make me feel cozy!  I wanted to give a special thanks to Michelle at Grammie Time for featuring me as her January Connect With blogger.  Michelle is so great at making sure to recognize other bloggers all the time.  Visit her post here and see how I answered her fun questions.  

Happy Friday everyone!  I'm glad to say we have nowhere we have to be this weekend and I'm looking forward to layering up, drinking some coffee and hopefully reading a book or some other cozy activity.  

What is your favorite way to stay cozy?


And all the linkups all week long can be found here.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Perfect Pasta Salad


Pasta Salad
Probably 8 years ago I was looking for a new dish to take for Christmas Eve lunch for the Janac gathering.  Some dear friends always made a similar pasta salad for events they hosted and I decided to take a stab at it.  This salad was perfect!  
Side Dishes
 I make this salad throughout the year and the type of Buitoni Tortellini I buy varies but typically for a Christmas function I will choose the spinach mix to make it look a little more festive.    If you have picky eaters pick sliced instead of diced olives so they are easier to pick out.  
Side Dishes
 There are 22 great grandkids on this side of the family and, well, I decided bell peppers are not the best option for this kind of event so I swapped those for pepperoni this year.  
side dishes
A few alternate add ins could include bell peppers, sundried tomatoes or kalamata olives instead of black.  
Side Dishes
Regardless of how you throw this together, be sure to find a place early in the line or risk going without!  Looks like next year a double batch will be in order as this was all gone by the time I made my way by.  Another trick I've tried a few times is to add some plain bowtie pasta into the mix to make it go just a tad further and it is still just as yummy.

Check out where I may be linking up today here
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