my Young Living skin care routine

my-young-living-skin-care-routine-what-products-i-love-and-useI’m 29 and until about a year ago I used pretty much the same skin care routine that I’d followed since I was, I don’t know, 12?  Just some drugstore facewash and some drugstore lotion and occasionally if I got a sample or a gift of something else I’d try that too.  Thankfully I’ve never had awful skin so I didn’t feel a need to try a bunch of other things but once I became serious about my Young Living business I figured I should give my own company’s skin care line a try and see what I thought.  In the last year or so I’ve completely switched my routine (as well as most of my other personal care products…but that’s a post for another time) to Young Living’s line of skin care.  I expected it to work just as well as what I’d been using for years and that my skin would look fine.

What I didn’t expect was for it to actually improve my skin!  In fact, since I’ve started using the Young Living products I’ve had multiple people comment on how great my skin looks and here I am, pushing 30, with better skin than I ever had in my teens and early 20s!  I go without makeup way more than I ever used to…partially because I’m a stay at home mom now and have gotten lazy but also partially because I feel so much more confident in my skin!  And when I do use makeup it’s very light since I don’t have as much that I need to cover up.

Young Living has quite a few creams and serums and other things for your skin full of oily goodness but I am a skin care minimalist so while I have used most of the products off and on there are only a few that I use consistently.  Here is what my usual routine looks like:

young-living-orange-blossom-and-art-face-washOrange Blossom Facial Wash –

The Orange Blossom facewash is my favorite and it lasts FOR-ever.  I actually turn mine into a foaming face wash by mixing a small amount of face wash with water and putting it in foaming soap bottle.  I use this every night to wash my face.  I have the ART foaming face wash as well and I use it too but the orange blossom is my favorite and once I use up the ART that I have I’ll use the Orange Blossom only.

young-living-mint-satin-face-scrubSatin Face Scrub (Mint) –

I have never been able to use a scrub of any kind before because every time I tried they would break my skin out horribly!  This is the first time I’ve ever consistently used a scrub on my face and it is incredible!  First of all it smells so amazing that I could literally eat it right out of the bottle.  But more importantly is how smooth it makes my skin.  A while ago I ran out and while I was waiting to get some more my skin was noticeably more rough and uneven than it is when I’m using the scrub.  I use this every other night after I wash my face.young-living-art-tonerART Refreshing Toner –

I love this cooling, refreshing toner after I wash my face.  Sometimes I put some in a spray bottle and spritz it on my face and other times I put it on a cotton ball and swipe it on my face.  The spray bottle method makes it last much longer but the cotton ball method feels more thorough to me so I switch off and on.  I use this every night after I wash my face.

young-living-art-light-moisturizer-and-sandalwood-moisture-creamART Light Moisturizer and Sandalwood Moisture Cream –

Young Living has a bunch of different lotions and moisturizers to choose from.  I’ve used several of them and liked them all.  My current routine is the Sandalwood Moisture Cream at night after I wash, exfoliate, and use toner; then in the morning I use the ART Light moisturizer. The Sandalwood Cream is very thick so I only use a tiny bit.  It does make my skin feel a bit greasy so I use it at night and then rinse it off in the morning.  The ART Light moisturizer is very light (as the name suggests) and is perfect in the morning whether I am putting on makeup or not.  If cost is a factor the Genesis Hand and Body Lotion is actually a really great face moisturizer for day or night too.

My Routine –

Like I said, I like to keep it simple.  At night I wash my face with the Orange Blossom face wash, exfoliate with the Satin face scrub (every other night or sometimes only every third night), use the ART Toner, and then finish with Sandalwood Moisture cream.  In the morning I don’t wash my face at all – since I washed it before bed I don’t really feel like it has gotten dirty or anything.  I just rinse my face off with water (which helps get the slightly greasy feeling from the Sandalwood Moisture Cream off) and then apply a little bit of the ART Light moisturizer.  Easy, only a few steps, and very effective!

Other products –

Other skin care products Young Living offers include eye cream, wrinkle cream, various serums and masques, and essential oils that are great for the skin such as frankincense, sandalwood, jasmine and myrrh.

Want all or some of these products for yourself?  Here’s how to order!

Have you tried any of Young Living’s skin care products?  Which one is your favorite?

mama cloth after birth

cloth pads for post partum recoveryI’ve shared before about mama cloth – what it is, how I use it, my thoughts, etc.  I didn’t start using cloth pads until after Hudson was born but I knew I wanted to use them in my postpartum recovery with Parker.  While I was pregnant I started building my stash of BIIIIIIG pads to use postpartum.

IMG_1606I purchase all of my mama cloth from Pink Lemonade Shop.  They carry 12″ and 13″ pads to be used postpartum (or if you just have a really heavy flow during your normal cycle).  When I got my order I laughed out loud at how HUGE they were!  However once I actually used them I loved the size – nice and comfy and great for the heavy bleeding after having a baby.  No worries about leaks.

I didn’t start using my mama cloth until six days postpartum.  I had some large maxi pads and Depends that I wanted to use up so I used those for the first few days.  However, once I switched I wished I had started using my cloth pads earlier!  They are so much more comfortable!

I had 11 postpartum sized pads – five 13″ pads and 6 12″ pads.  That was enough for me to wash every other day.  By the time I started using them (day 6) my bleeding had already slowed down a lot.  If I’d used them from the beginning I would have probably needed to wash every day.   Once I was past the initial crazy amount of bleeding, 11 was plenty.  I will definitely add a few more to my stash for next time (no, that’s not an announcement!) so that I don’t have to wash quite as often though.

I mentioned before that I’d heard that using reusable menstrual products can result in your period (or postpartum bleeding) being lighter and less painful.  I still don’t know if that’s true or not but I will say that I only bled for two, maybe three weeks.  When I went back for my six week check up my doctor was very surprised to hear that I’d bled for such a short time.  I guess maybe that isn’t the norm?  I don’t remember how long I bled with Hudson (when I didn’t use mama cloth) to compare but I thought it was interesting and worth noting.

IMG_1624Because the pads were so much bigger than my regular pads I bought a larger wet bag to store them in.  My favorite wet bags are these Bummis brand ones so I got a medium and it was the perfect size!

IMG_1621I was a little nervous about using mama cloth after giving birth because I wasn’t sure if it could stand up to the mess that is postpartum bleeding.  However it was great and I will most definitely do it again!  For now my pads have been packed up but once my period returns the postpartum pads will be great to use as overnight pads as well.

Did you use cloth pads in your postpartum recovery?  Would you try it for next time?

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my natural makeup search – what I found and what I’m loving

100 Pure and Alima Pure makeup reviewI’m dubbing 2016 The Non-Toxic Beauty Makeover Year.  Apparently being pregnant makes me want to totally overhaul things.  In January of 2014, when I was pregnant with Hudson, I decided to quit thinking about trying essential oils for a household cleaning solution and use my Christmas money to dive in and get a kit (and if you’ve been reading here long you know that decision has made a huge impact on how we care for our health as well as our finances).  In January of 2016, when I was pregnant with Parker, I decided to quit thinking about ditching my old makeup and trying to find something more natural – so again I used my Christmas money, threw out all my old makeup, did a bunch of research, and bought all new stuff.

Yep.  For someone who doesn’t wear a lot of makeup I sure had quite the stash!  It didn’t help that I never threw any away unless I completely used it up so I had stuff in there from high school.  I gathered it all up and into the trash it went.  I kept a few things that I had been using on a regular basis (and weren’t expired like 99% of what I owned) just in case all the natural things I tried bombed or I needed something for a special occasion (so far I haven’t touched the stuff I put aside so I’ll probably throw it away soon too).

2016-01-29_12.07.21 copy2016-01-29_12.11.44 copyLook at all these lipsticks!  I don’t even hardly wear lipstick.  I sure like to buy it though!

Obviously the most natural thing to do makeup-wise is to not wear any at all.  Back when I first started my journey toward natural things I said that I would change a lot of things but I’d never give up my makeup.  I’ve learned to never say never, so I guess it’s potentially possible that someday I might go makeup free but I really don’t see that happening in the near future.  However I really wanted to find a better alternative to what I was using.

Most makeup is full of hormone disrupting, cancer causing components.  I don’t want that on my face (or anywhere on my body), not to mention I don’t want it touching my kids when I kiss them or snuggle their faces to mine.  I’d switched out all my other personal care products to safer, more natural options but hadn’t done anything about my makeup and decided it was time to get it done.

I did a lot of research.  I made a list of several companies that I’d heard were good non-toxic, free of harsh chemicals, natural options.  I then began looking at each one to see if I liked the products.  Some companies got thrown out, quite a few looked like good contenders.  Then I started comparing similar products from all of the companies (foundation from each company, eyeshadow from each, etc.).

In the end there were several that I was impressed with.  I only bought from two but there are really a lot of good choices out there!  (and I’ve actually heard of a few more even since I did my initial researching that I haven’t checked out yet).  I’ll include a list of all the companies I liked at the end of this post in case you want to try them out.

I really wanted to buy a little bit from each company so I could try them all out but when I realized that the shipping costs to buy an eyeshadow here, an eyeliner there, some blush at a third place, etc. was going to be pretty steep so I decided to just stick to a couple.

The two companies that I chose were 100% Pure and Alima Pure.  Here’s why:

100% Pure

  • – TONS of options.  This was one of the biggest reasons.  There are a lot of great companies out there but many of them only carry a few things but not everything that you need.  100% Pure has every makeup item that I use and pretty much everything I could think of needing so you can do a one stop shop and not have to buy from multiple places.  Instead of just loose mineral powder they offer pressed powder, tinted moisturizer, BB cream, liquid foundation, and cream foundation.  The have primers, multiple types and colors of eyeshadows, tons of colors and types of lipstick and glosses, and so much more.
  • – Free shipping – no minimum order required
  • – Free returns.  This was a biggie too because I was making a huge leap buying makeup that I hadn’t tried before.  I wasn’t convinced that I’d find anything natural that actually worked so I liked that I could return anything if I didn’t like it (and I have since used that feature and it was an incredibly smooth process)
  • – Lots and lots of reviews on their website so I was able to get real feedback on products I was interested in.
  • – Organic, vegan, cruelty free products.  (I don’t care about vegan but I know that’s important to some people so I threw it in here for your info)
  • – Most of their products contain more than just minerals, they’re made with fruit and flower extracts too.
  • – Offered pressed powder foundation and eyeshadow.  I’m not a fan of loose powder and loose eyeshadow, I feel like it’s super messy.  But since most natural makeup companies use mineral makeup then it’s usually loose.  I liked that I could get pressed!
  • – They also have a rewards program where you get points for each purchase you make and once you’ve accumulated enough you can redeem them for free product (they did not have this when I placed my original order so it’s wasn’t a factor in my decision but they’ve since come out with it and it’s something that I really like so I thought it was worth noting!)

Alima Pure

  • – Another one that offers pressed powder foundation.
  • – Offers little sample sizes that you can buy to try the powder before you commit.  They also have sampler pack thing where you can try multiple shades.
  • – Good reviews
  • – A ton of foundation color choices, probably more than any other company I looked at
  • – Free shipping over $35.
  • – I had found a $10 off coupon that I could use on my order (and I have one for you as well at the bottom of this post!)

100% Pure makeup packagingI bought the majority of my new makeup stash from 100% Pure since they had so many choices!  Here’s a picture I snapped of my haul when it came in – the cardboard tube packaging is cute too!

Here’s what all I currently have and what I think about each one:100% Pure and Alima Pure makeup review

100% Pure luminous primerLuminous Primer – I had gotten used to using a primer because prior to my switch I was using Bare Minerals (not as natural as one might think…) – a primer with the powder foundation and mineral veil.  I loved that smooth feeling it gave my face and how easy my makeup went on so I was excited to find that 100% Pure had primer too!  It feels and works great too.100% Pure foundation powderFruit Pigmented Powder Foundation – I was worried about picking the right color (but since they have free returns I figured I could always switch if I needed to).  I chose the color Creme and it was perfect for me.  The coverage is a little lighter than what I was used to so that took a bit of adjusting but honestly it looks more natural on me and after the initial adjustment period now I like it better.  I don’t have major blemishes, my issues are more about splotchy redness and this does a great job of covering without being heavy.

At $39.00 it was expensive but comparable to what I had been paying for Bare Minerals so I was ok with that.  However, it does not last nearly as long!  I’ve been using it since the end of January (so 3 months) and I don’t even wear makeup every day (maybe 3-4 days a week) and you can already see the bottom of the pan!  That’s my biggest complaint.
100% Pure tinted moisturizerFruit Pigmented Tinted Moisturizer – I did not buy this in my original order, this is something I added just in the last week.  I’ve actually never used a tinted moisturizer before but I thought it might be nice as a very light way to even out my skin tone.  So far I like it!  It has a sheer coverage like the powder but goes on easily with my fingers.  I do have to put a light dusting of powder over it (once I’ve done blush, bronzer, etc.) otherwise it looks a little too dewey/greasy.  Even though I got Creme powder, based on the reviews I read I bought a shade lighter in the tinted moisturizer (Alpine Rose) and it is a great shade so I think that was the right choice.

100% Pure cocoa bronzerCocoa Pigmented Bronzer – This stuff is intense!  I just barely touch my brush to the compact and still have to use a very light hand as I apply!  You can still see the “100% Pure” words in the powder so I’ve barely used any of it.  I got this the same day I got my foundation powder and always use both products so you can definitely see a difference in how much I’ve used of this versus the foundation (actually I’ve used this more often than my powder since I sometimes use another powder or tinted moisturizer but always use the same bronzer – a little goes a long way!).  As long as I’m careful applying though it gives a nice warm bronzing color.

Alima Pure satin matte foundationAlima Pure offers pressed powder foundation as well but they have a crazy ton of color choice, which is nice for finding the perfect match but hard because there are so many options. I picked four colors that I thought were close to what I needed and I figured once I picked my color then I’d buy the pressed powder version.  I haven’t even tried them all yet but so far the coverage is good – light like the 100% Pure powder.  Of course it’s messier than I prefer since it’s a loose powder but really I can’t tell a difference in this versus other loose (not as natural) mineral powders that I’ve used.100 Pure eyeshadowI chose the Pretty Naked Palette that came with Pink Champagne highlighter, a blush (Pretty Naked), and three eyeshadows (Flax Seed, Toffee, and Chestnut) to save on buying a large individual blush, highlighter, and multiple eyeshadows.  I also bought individual shadows in the shade Ginger (with my first order) and Sugared (in a later order).  As you can tell I tend to stick to a pink and brown theme.  As I order more I’ll try to add some variety into my collection.

I was initially disappointed because the eyeshadows were not nearly as pigmented as what I had been used to (I was mainly using eyeshadows from the Urban Decay Naked palettes).  However, after using them I’ve come to actually prefer the more subtle shades – I think it looks more natural. Also, I apply with a brush, I think if you used an eye shadow sponge or even added a little water you could get much more pigment.

The highlighter is very pretty and the blush is not the color I would have picked on my own if I’d been buying it separately but I like it just fine.

Alima Pure eyeshadowI also tried out one of Alima Pure’s pearluster eyeshadows in Taupe.  They only have loose eye shadows and it can be a bit messy so I don’t reach for this one as often as I do the ones from 100% Pure.  However, this one is a lot more shiny so I like it when I’m trying to dress up my eye a little bit or want to brighten up the matte look some.

2016-04-19_09.23.40 copyIt came with this plastic piece with holes in it but (and maybe I’m missing something) I can’t figure out how to get it to work other than to shake some into the lid, which is messy.  So I just took the plastic piece off altogether.  I wish I could figure out how to get the eyeshadow through the holes though without making a big mess.100 Pure and Alima Pure eyeshadow swatchesI am by no means a beauty blogger or expert or anything but I did attempt to swatch the colors on my arm so you could see them in action.  However I didn’t do a very good job and they look a lot more similar on my arm than they do on my eyes (at least, I think so).  It’s hard to tell the difference but I promise they are all (subtly) different.100% Pure mascara and Alima Pure eye linerMascara was one of the products I was most nervous about.  I’d heard it is really hard to find a natural mascara that actually works.  But I must say that I have been incredibly pleased with 100% Pure’s Maracuja mascara.  It lasts just as long as my old mascara, is a good color, thickens my eyelashes, and smells nice and fruity.  It also comes off very easily with coconut oil (my eye makeup remover of choice).  It is not waterproof, which I don’t care about, but that might be important to you.

The eyeliner came from Alima Pure.  Initially I was not impressed because I could get a good, dark line on my lower lid but I could hardly get it to make a mark on my upper lid on top of my eyeshadow.  It did fine on bare skin but wouldn’t work on top of eyeshadow unless I wet the pencil and worked really hard to get it on there.  However, after I sharpened it the first time it started working fine.  I’m guessing there was some kind of coating or something on the brand new tip that caused it to not work as well.  It’s great now and I’m pleased.

Alima Pure, 100% Pure, and Young Living lip sticks and lip glossAnd finally, lips!

I got a lip tint from Alima Pure in the color Petal.  It is very sheer and pretty much the exact color of my lip so I guess that makes it the perfect nude shade.  I really don’t wear lip color often so I’m good with a barely-there color.  It also makes a nice base under lip gloss.

I tried 100% Pure’s lip glaze in Watermelon (not pictured) but it was the only product so far I haven’t liked (and so I used their fab return policy and sent it back).  The color was nice but the color collected in a line on my lips and settled in my lip creases so I wasn’t impressed with how it wore.

Then I tried 100% Pure’s creamstick in Perfect Naked Berry.  I used to love Clinique’s chubby sticks (like a big, fat lip pencil) and this looked very similar.  I wanted the Perfect Naked Pink (I tend to always choose pinks or corals) but it was sold out so I tried the berry.  It was darker than I tend to wear (although not dark by most standards) but I got several compliments on it (probably just because it’s unusual to see me in lip color at all!) so I think I’ll keep it and step outside of my makeup comfort zone.  This lip product did not settle in my creases or anything and actually stayed on much longer than most lipsticks (which is one of the reasons I don’t wear much lipstick – I don’t like having to reapply all the time).  Now that I’ve tried one of the creamsticks I want to get them all!  I hope the pink one comes back in stock.

I also already had two lip glosses.  Young Living doesn’t carry any other makeup but they do have three different lip gloss/essential oil blend combos (gloss on one end, oil blend to use as perfume on the other).  I have the red gloss/amoressence scent (that’s the bottom one with the yellow oil blend) and the pink gloss/summer scent (top).  I bought the red/amoressence becuase I loved the smell of the amoressence.  I was hesitant about getting red but it’s not red at all and it’s not dark either – more of a sheer berry color.  The pink gloss is definitely my favorite color though!  I like it best out of all four of my lip color options.  Since it’s gloss it wears off faster than lipstick but thankfully it wears off evenly (instead of settling in creases) and it’s not sticky like some glosses so I really like that.

2016-04-19_09.20.24 copyI did hang on to one of my old products – this Tarte concealer.  I honestly rarely use concealer (my issues are more all over redness rather than blemishes).  Tarte is more natural than many but still not quite what I would want, but since I rarely use it I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on another one so I’m going to keep using this for now.

Again, I am no beauty blogger nor am I much of a selfie taker so try to look past the awkwardness of these next pictures.  I wanted to show you what the makeup looks like on so that you could see that it looks just as good as what you might buy elsewhere.  I feel like that’s better seen in person but I tried anyway so maybe this will help!

no makeupNo makeup at all.

face makeup onlyFace makeup done (primer, pressed powder foundation, bronzer, blush, highlighter) but eyes and lips still bare.

makeup done with 100% Pure, Alima Pure, and Young Living makeupFull face of makeup.  I think the lip color is the 100% Pure creamstick in berry.

So in case you haven’t gathered from the post I’ll recap here: I have been incredibly pleased with the makeup I’ve gotten from 100% Pure and Alima Pure, both in the fact that it’s so much better for me than my old makeup and in how well it works.  Of the two companies 100% Pure is my favorite but both are great.

Natural makeup is, as with most natural things, more expensive than their counterparts.  I typically bought brands like Clinique, Mary Kay, Bare Minerals, Urban Decay, etc. so I was used to spending a little more on makeup than if I’d bought it from Walmart, Target, etc.  However that might be a little bit of sticker shock for you so I wanted to give you a heads up!

I wish I had a coupon for you for 100% Pure since that’s definitely my favorite but unfortunately I don’t.  However if you sign up for their emails or like them on Facebook and watch their sales they do run lots of good sales, as much as 25% off which is pretty good!

I do have a discount code for Alima Pure though and they have great stuff too so worth a try!  Click here to get a $10 off coupon emailed to you for your first order (I think I might get a credit on my account too so thanks in advance!).

In case you are curious here is a list of the other companies I looked at and some of my thoughts about them.  Most I would like to try at some points, it’s just like I said before that didn’t want to pay shipping for so many different companies so I had to narrow it down.

  • Beauty Counter – This was (is) in my top 3 compaines that I want to try.  I’ve heard great things about their makeup (especially their Tint Skin Foundation) and one thing that they have that the other compaines don’t (that doesn’t matter to me but I know matters to others) is that their makeup is not mineral based.  Still natural, but not minerals like most compaines.  I don’t have an issue with mineral makeup but I know it makes some people break out, so here is another option for you.  I haven’t tried this yet but it’s on my list to try in the near future.  When I originally started my research a family member had mentioned that she was thinking about becoming a Beauty Counter consultant so I wanted to wait until she decided so that I could order from her if she did.  I had also already spent quite a bit on my makeup overhaul so there was that too.  Their selection isn’t huge but it’s a decent size and I would guess they will add more as the company grows.  I linked directly to the website but fyi this is a direct sales company so if you decide to try their stuff find out if one of your friends is a consultant first and order through them to support them!
  • Root Pretty – I was very impressed with these products too.  Lots of options, offers lots of samples (more than just foundation samples) you can purchase to try colors before you buy, more budget friendly than some of the other companies.  This is another that I would like to try out in the future.  I was not impressed with their customer service when I reached out to them which is why I didn’t order from them during my initial order.
  • Juice Beauty – Pretty good selection, including liquid foundation.  Free shipping over $30.  According to their store locator our local Ulta carries Juice Beauty (although I’m not sure how much) so that’s a plus if you like to check things out in person rather than order online.  I don’t go to the mall much but next time I do I’ll go check out our selection.
  • Sweet Savvy Minerals – This is a relatively new company founded by a fellow Young Living distributor.  I defintely like to support a fellow YL colleague but their selection is still pretty small and they only offer the loose powders and eyeshadows so it’s something I’d like to try in the future but it didn’t make my initial order.

There were a couple of other companies I checked out that were not as natural as they claim or who have since (as in, since I did this research in January of this year) closed their doors and/or rebranded due to some internal scandals.  I’m not going to name names as my goal here is not to call out other companies.  These listed here are ones I suggest either from personal experience or my research as of a few months ago.  I’m sure there are other great ones out there, I just suggest you do some digging on your own to see if the makeup you are looking at is really natural.

And there you go!  If you read this far give yourself a pat on the back!  I know that was a lot of info.  I hope it’s helpful and that you’ll see that it’s a lot easier to switch to natural makeup products than you might have thought.

Disclaimer: I bought all of this makeup with my own money.  None of these brands know who I am and I didn’t receive any products for free.  This is my honest review based on what I purchased and my own experiences.  

Have you tried any of these brands?  What were your thoughts?  Do you have any questions about what I tried?

freezer meal bonanza

freezer meal bonanza

This week I did my first huge freezer meal batch cooking session.  Whew!  What an experience!  Since this was my first time I’m definitely not an expert but I thought I’d share what all I did anyway (especially since several people have asked after hearing that I was going to do this).

Before Hudson was born I had a long list of to-do items that I wanted to get done – things like getting the nursery all perfect, clean the house from top to bottom, etc.  But it never really crossed my mind to get meals prepared ahead of time.  I believe maybe I thought of it at the very end of my pregnancy but didn’t get around to it before he was born.

I hope recovery with Parker won’t be as difficult as it was with Hudson, but with Hudson it was a long, LONG time after he was born that I was ready and able to start really caring about and/or cooking good meals.  Thankfully we had my mom those first few weeks to feed us and for a good while after she left we lived mostly on pizza and other take out.  Talk about hard on your health and your wallet!  So this time around I made getting good healthy food prepared a huge priority!  In fact, that’s what I asked my mom for for Christmas…that she would come and help me get meals ready!

So this week was the week and here’s an overview of what I did:

Step 1 – Picking the meals

I started by making a list of all the meals I wanted to make.  I went through our list of common supper ideas and wrote down the ones that I thought would freeze well (mostly soups, casseroles, and other “one dish” meals).  I had also posted on Facebook asking my friends for advice, tips, and/or meal suggestions and got a lot of recipes that way so I went through all those and chose a few to try.  Then finally I checked out Pinterest and looked at a bunch of recipe ideas there (mostly breakfast, I really wanted to make ahead some breakfast meals and I didn’t have any good ideas).

freezer meal ideasStep 2 – Ingredients

Once I had a list of quite a few favorites as well as several new recipes to try, I wrote next to each one how many batches I wanted to make of each one (whether it was taking a large casserole and splitting it into two smaller dishes to use for two different meals or doubling/tripling a recipe).

Then I started going through each recipe and writing down what all it called for.  I kept a running total and added to it as I went through each recipe until I had finished my list.

IMG_1276Step 3 – Grocery list

After I had this HUGE long list of ingredients I wanted to get it a little less confusing before I actually headed to the store.  The first thing I did was to condense quantities.  For example, since I’d just added to each item based on what the recipe said I had several things that looked like this:

chicken: 3 cups, 1.5 cups, 1 lb, 1.5 lb, 2 breasts, 4 breasts…

Depending on what the recipe had said I’d just written down cups of something or pounds of something or number of bags or whatever.  So spent some time trying to add things up and say I need X number of whatever.

Then I did something that I’d eventually like to do for all my grocery trips – I sorted my list based on category (or actually based on what was grouped together in the store).  So I listed all the produce together, meat, canned goods, pasta, and so forth.  I hoped (and was right) that this would keep me from having to make multiple trips back and forth across the store because I’d missed something while I was in that section.

freezer meal shopping listStep 4 – Shopping

Thanks to my pre-sorted list this wasn’t too bad.  It didn’t take much longer than my normal weekly trip, although my cart was WAY full!

Step 5 – Cooking

The main event!  Like I said, my mom came and we got to work fixing all this food.  It was definitely an ordeal.  We started around mid-morning and worked all day, then when Michael got home from work he jumped in and helped out too.

I’m not sure that my way was the most efficient.  We did some things in large batches and others we did along the way.  For example, the first thing we did was cook up all the chicken at once then chop/shred it and divide it based on how much each recipe needed.  However, with things like onions and green peppers we chopped as we needed them for each recipe and I’m sure if we’d chopped all that at once it would have helped a little.

While mom was starting the chicken cooking I worked on putting together the crockpot freezer meals – those were super fast because I didn’t have to cook anything, I just dumped all the raw ingredients in a bag, sealed them up, and they were off to the freezer.  That made me feel very accomplished :).  If we end up loving those meals then I may start doing that way more often because they’re so simple to assemble!

After the chicken was cooked and the crock pot meals were done we started in on all the chicken dishes.  Once those were done we moved on to all the ground beef dishes.  We finished off with the breakfast foods.

We spent probably 10 hours cooking that day, but a lot of that time was actually spent corralling, distracting, and taking care of Hudson.  Tip for the future – if you plan to do an all day cooking marathon, find someone to come watch your child(ren) so that you can just focus on cooking.  Hudson made things go a lot slower for sure.

The menu

A lot of people have asked what we cooked so here are the recipes we made that one day:

Crock pot meals (these are all new recipes that I haven’t tried yet)

Old faves (things we’d made before)

  • baked ziti (split the recipe into two pans)
  • baked spaghetti (split the recipe into three pans)
  • lasagna (split the recipe into two pans)
  • spaghetti sauce (doubled to make two meals)
  • “regular” chili (tripled and divided into 4 gallon-sized bags)
  • white chili (doubled and divided into 2 gallon-sized bags)
  • – chicken tortilla soup
  • enchiladas (split the recipe into two pans)
  • chicken casserole (split the recipe into two pans)
  • – chicken and black bean quesadillas (we had one random chicken breast left over so I used it and some cheese, beans, and tortillas we had on hand to make several quesadillas – they will be good for quick dinners or lunches)

New meals (found via Pinterest or recommendations from friends)

I had two other meals planned – chicken and rice casserole (split into two dishes) and some breakfast sandwiches.  We did not get to these because I didn’t have enough chicken for the casserole or enough eggs for the sandwiches.  The casserole I made and froze the next day and the breakfast sandwiches will be made as soon as we get more eggs from our “egg lady” at church.

This weekend Michael is going to make a big batch of pancakes that we can freeze.  I also had two meals already frozen, things we had made recently and frozen half of the dish (pizza bites and vegetable soup).

(Note: have a deep freezer in our garage.  No way would all of this fit into our freezer attached to our fridge.)

IMG_1282(Another note: My mom brought several of her pots, knives, measuring spoons, bowls, etc.  That really helped us not have to be washing dishes constantly since we had so many.  We still had to wash quite a bit and ran the dishwasher I think three times that day, but we were able to do more or go longer before we needed to wash something.)

So from that one marathon day of cooking we ended up with 27 meals plus 20 breakfast burritos plus 7 quesadillas (for another supper or lunches).  Once it’s all said and done we should have 31 meals, 20 breakfast burritos, 12 breakfast sandwiches, and a whole bunch of pancakes.

WHEW!

The cost

Total for ingredients came out to about $350.  Yep, I nearly choked when I had to pay that but if you do the math that’s not very expensive per meal, it’s just a LOT up front.

A couple of things about that $350

  • – We buy almost all organic – beef, chicken, cheese, etc. and that jacks the price up
  • – I was low on a bunch of spices all at once so I had to stock up on those too, plus I went ahead and got extra aluminum foil and Saran wrap to have just in case, so that cost is included in the $350.
  • – I did not shop the sales or coupon.  In all of my work to get every thing pre-planned before I went to the store I totally forgot to check for coupons.  I doubt it would have made a huge difference but I’m not a big coupononer anyway; someone who is could probably get a lot of deals.  As far as shopping on sale goes, I totally intended to do that but that meant having my list ready far in advance so I could shop when particular things went on sale.  Unfortunately, especially because of Christmas, I didn’t get that done so once I had the list done I just had to buy at whatever price it was since we were down to the wire.  In the future I’d like to be more prepared so I can buy chicken when it’s on sale and beef when it’s on sale and so on.

And there we go!  I was very proud and impressed by our first freezer meal cooking experience.  I’m not sure that I’d try to do quite so much at once again, especially not at 36 weeks pregnant, because it was a long, hard day.  But I know it’s going to be SO worth it after Parker is here.

Oh and I guess I should add in a Step 6: Inventory

Once everything was nice and frozen I organized the deep freezer and took inventory of what was in there.  I hung it inside our pantry door so when we’re meal planning each week we can look at the list, pick out what we want, and then go pull them from the freezer rather than trying to remember what we have or go out there and rummage around constantly.  I even made some notes under certain meals indicating what we need to get to go along with that meal.

freezer meal inventoryIMG_1280Have you ever made freezer meals?  Any tips you want to add here?

easy (and effective!) homemade deodorant

You know when you search for something for months and months, or maybe even years, and you finally find it?  Isn’t that just the best feeling?

Well that’s how I’m feeling right now about deodorant.  Yes, DEODORANT.  I know, weird.

My quest for a natural deodorant started about a year and a half ago.  I was careful about what I put in my body but I hadn’t given a thought to what I put ON my body until I read an article about the dangers of deodorant/antiperspirants.  It basically said that if you switching NOTHING else in your beauty routine you should at least find a natural deodorant.  (I believe that article was this one and then this is another great post as well about why you should ditch the deodorant)

That got my wheels turning and I started thinking about the fact that I was about to have a baby that I was planning to breastfeed and who would quite frequently be in very close proximity to my armpits.  I decided to find a better option.

The problem was…well, I’m stinky.  Sorry but that’s the truth.  Over the past year and a half I have tried ten (that I can remember off the top of my head) different deodorants and NONE of them have worked.  It’s funny because I really don’t sweat that much so the fact that I no longer use an antiperspirant isn’t a big deal but for whatever reason natural deodorants just did not work for my body odor.

I’ve tried:

– Primal Pit Paste (2 different scents, both made my armpits break out)

– Tom’s (didn’t help the smell, not as natural as I first thought anyway)

– Young Living’s deodorant (both scents, neither eliminated the odor)

– Thieves toothpaste (sounds weird but a lot of people in my oils group use it as deodorant with smashing success but it just made me itch and again, didn’t help with the smell)

– Thieves spray (another one that people in my group suggest, but didn’t work for the smell)

– Plain coconut oil mixed with essential oils

– Just essential oils rubbed into my armpits

– Homemade spray deodorant (witch hazel and essential oils…again yet another that did not help the smell)

Really the only thing I didn’t try that lots of people recommend is that crystal deodorant thing.  But otherwise I’ve exhausted a pretty big list.

After allllll those deodorants (and I gave them all a fair try, most of them I used the whole entire stick/container because I hate throwing things out) I still hadn’t found something.  Within a few hours my armpits just stunk.  None of my shirts could be worn more than once in between washings because they stunk.  And really, even when I was using the hard-core stuff (Secret Platinum Protection) there was still an odd smell.  Not b.o. necessarily, but just a yucky deodorant-y smell that I didn’t like.

So a few weeks ago I finally decided to make my own stick deodorant.  I scoured Pinterest and finally settled on this recipe.  I had all the ingredients at home except beeswax so I asked a beekeeper friend from church for some and then I was all set.  I considered several combinations of oils but decided to keep it very simple and use lavender and tea tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) because of how good they are botha for skin and for eliminating the bacteria that causes body odor.

DIY homemade deodorant recipe

Making the deodorant took seriously all of five minutes.  I used an old deodorant container that was empty (they also sell them on Amazon if you don’t have an empty one sitting around).  I melted the beeswax and coconut oil in my makeshift double boiler (aka a glass bowl partially submerged in a pot of boiling water), added the baking soda and cornstarch, stirred it up, added the essential oils, stirred some more, poured it in the container, and let it sit in the fridge until it hardened.

I didn’t expect much.  I figured I’d either break out in a rash or it wouldn’t help the smell at all.  But I put it on and off we went.

Let me just shout it from the rooftops that IT WORKS!  I was BLOWN away!

I am not kidding, for the first few days of using this deodorant I sniffed my armpits multiple times a day because I just couldn’t believe it.

There was NO smell at all.  I mean, nothing.  No stink and not even a perfume-y smell.  It literally smelled like nothing.  Occasionally when I sniff I get a whiff of coconut but that’s it.  And the same with my shirts.  I would sniff the armpits after I took it off to put it in the hamper and you couldn’t even tell that I’d worn it all day!  And I put it to the test too…I went for a long walk outside every day, most days were 80+ degrees, and I sweated a lot but still no stink.

The day after I made my deodorant I taught an online class for my oils team about natural skincare and reducing toxins in your home.  I mentioned that I was trying a new deodorant recipe but I wasn’t ready to definitively say if it worked for me until I’d tried it for a bit longer.  Apparently there are quite a few people in the same boat as me because I’ve had several tell me they are waiting to hear an update.  So here it is folks, this stuff rocks ;).  I’ve been using it for about two weeks now and it is amazing!  No rash, no stink.

The recipe I used says that the beeswax helps it not to melt in the summer heat but I haven’t put that to the test yet.  Also, for what it’s worth, I found this article about how to balance your ph if your deodorant gives you a rash so I’ll be keeping this one in my back pocket in case it happens again.

The deodorant is in a stick form but it’s not quite the same consistency as a “normal” stick deodorant.  It glides on nicely but leaves some white residue that I just rub in with my fingers.  That is definitely not a deal breaker for me considering how wonderfully it works but I thought I’d mention it.

And there you go, ladies and gents.  My year and a half long quest to banish my stinky pits is over!  Hooray!

(local folks, I had a bit of extra deodorant that didn’t fit into my deodorant stick but I saved it in a container so if you’d like to try some before you make your own let me know and I’ll bring you a bit to sample)

whole30 weeks 4 and 5 – wrap up, results, and what next?

#whole30 weeks 4 and 5

I did it!  I survived Whole30!  Here’s how the last 9 days went and then read to the end for my results.

Day 22 (Sunday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs with ??? (I’ve already forgotten)

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes and grapes

#whole30 avocado tuna, radishes, grapes

dinner – Leftover vegetable soup with ??? (I’ve forgotten this too…that’s what happens when I don’t write it down each night)

#whole30 vegetable soup

Day 23 (Monday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs and a smoothie

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes and grapes

dinner – Grilled chicken seasoned with a homemade taco seasoning recipe, roasted green beans, and crash potatoes.

thoughts – Another good day!  I am just so glad to be out of my funk from last week.  Being back home and on my routine has helped a lot.  Getting a variety of veggies is helping too with the boredom.

It’s no longer an “I think”…now I know for sure that my ring is looser!  I’m not sure if it’s loose enough that I’ll be able to get my real wedding rings on yet but it’s a start!

Day 24 (Tuesday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, leftover grilled chicken, leftover green beans

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes and grapes

dinnerSpicy cinnamon orange shrimp, crash potatoes, and roasted broccoli with homemade mayo

#whole30 spicy cinnamon orange shrimp, crash potatoes, and broccoli

thoughts – HOW have I gone 24 days of Whole30 without making my own mayonnaise?  Oh my!  Tonight I added some parsley, paprika, and onion powder to make a pseudo-ranch dressing and dipped my potatoes and broccoli in it.

#whole30 mayo

Day 25 (Wednesday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, leftover grilled chicken, leftover green beans

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes, grapes, and leftover broccoli

dinner – Chicken in the crockpot and baked sweet potatoes with lemony-dill mayo

thoughts – Mayo.  Seriously.  That’s good stuff.

Day 26 (Thursday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, leftover grilled chicken

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes, grapes, and leftover crash potatoes

dinner – Chicken stir fry (chicken, bell peppers, and broccoli with some cajun seasoning) dipped in homemade mayo (mixed with some garlic powder and chipotle seasoning) and leftover sweet potato

thoughts – I’m just so thrilled that I’m having an easier week.  I’m not going to say that the second Whole30 is over I won’t dive into a brownie ;) but the intense cravings I was battling last week have subsided.

I keep twirling my ring around and reveling in the fact that it is lose.  I have not tried on my real wedding rings yet…I’m holding off until Whole30 is over (it’s hard but I can make it just a few more days!).

Day 27 (Friday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, leftover grilled chicken

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes and grapes

dinner – Steak, yellow squash, and asparagus

thoughts – Ok I lied…I didn’t want to wait until whole30 was over so I tried on my rings.  Sad news…they still don’t fit.  I’m so bummed!

Day 28 (Saturday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs with sweet potato hash.

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes and tangerines

dinner – Leftover crockpot chicken with roasted broccoli and roasted potatoes dipped in homemade chipotle mayo.

thoughts – I already love roasted broccoli but dipped in mayo…oh man.  So good.  And Michael sliced the potatoes really thin so they crisped up like chips – yum yum!

Day 29 (Sunday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs with sweet potato hash

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes and grapes

dinner – Spicy tuna cakes with roasted green beans

Day 30 (Monday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, leftover green beans, leftover squash

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes and grapes

dinner – Grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and spicy cauliflower with chipotle mayo.

#whole30 grilled chicken, potatoes, and cauliflower

thoughts – I survived!  I did it!

My snacks were basically the same every day this week: tangerines, apples with almond butter, and/or smoothie (banana, blueberries, almond butter, avocado, and coconut milk)

Also, sorry for the boring breakfasts and lunch…that’s usually how I operate (even non-whole30) – I’ll eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and snack everyday for many days without getting bored as long as I get some variety at supper.  I started off Whole30 trying to keep it exciting and varied to keep me from getting burnt out but by the end was back in my comfort zone of repetition.

Results

I know, probably the whole reason you’re reading this post…to find out if it worked ;).

Drumroll please…

I lost a smidge over 10 pounds! (10.4 to be exact)  I would have loved to lose more than that (I mean, who wouldn’t?), but 10 pounds in 30 days is really great, especially since I’ve struggled so much since Hudson was born to lose anything at all, so I’m very pleased.

I also lost an inch around my waist (I did not do all over measurements, like arms, thighs, calves, etc. so my waist is the only area I have data on).

Now to keep going and work on the other 50-60 pounds I need to lose….

Thoughts about my whole Whole30 experience (see what I did there?)

Well.

Whole30 was by far the hardest “diet” I’ve ever done.  It took a lot of time and effort and money.  Oh my, our grocery bill this month has been astronomical.  And it was much more restrictive than anything I’ve done before.

Honestly, I can’t say I’m all that impressed.  I feel no different now than I did 30 days ago.  I don’t feel any better or worse (not that I felt bad to begin with) nor has my sleep changed (I was already sleeping fine but Hudson was not and I was hoping this would help him but it didn’t seem to make a difference).  I didn’t start randomly waking up at 6am ready to tackle the day like some people reported.  I didn’t miraculously lose 25 pounds and 2 pants sizes like others.  I didn’t arrive at some amazing state of mind where I no longer am tempted by sweets.

Basically I ate healthier and as a result I lost some weight.  Which is great and I’m not knocking it.  And in fact, if I hadn’t done something so restrictive where cheating wasn’t an option I probably would have kept back sliding and eating junk.  So I think this was a great jump start and it showed me that I *can* lose even while breastfeeding and I’m hopeful that now that I’ve gotten used to eating so healthy again I will continue doing so and continue to lose weight.

So did it help me on my quest to get healthier and lose weight?  Yes.  Was is the magical, miracle diet I had read about?  No.  But that’s ok.  I’ve learned over the years that there is no magical shake or pill or diet…hard work, self control, eating healthy, and exercising is what it takes.

What now?

You are supposed to basically continue eating whole30 and begin gradually adding some of those “trigger” foods back in to your diet.  Add legumes, wait a few days to see how your body reacts, then add dairy, wait a few days, then grains without gluten, and so on.  However we will be traveling Saturday and having our family Easter dinner Sunday so I will likely eat some non-whole30 foods before I have finished the gradual adding in process.  I’m playing it by ear and starting today just by adding in legumes (peanut butter with my apple and black beans with our supper).

So nothing exciting.  As much as I’d love to eat a ton of Reese’s eggs I’m trying to stick to reintroducing some healthy foods first.

Long term, I will now go back to our “real food” way of eating.  Like I said when I started whole30, I believe in most foods in moderation so I’m not on board with whole30, whole9, paleo, vegetarianism, etc. as a long term way of eating (unless there are health issues that require that to be how I eat).  I much prefer to eat a little bit of everything that is real, whole food (not tons of processed junk…although I have a bit of that too from time to time).  I’m excited to add back in butter, whole milk, sour cream, wheat bread, corn, peas, and beans!

Thank you for following along with my journey.  I appreciate the comments I’ve gotten here on my blog, on my Facebook page, via text, and in person.  It can be scary to admit that you need to lose weight, or even that you just want to try to be healthier, and tell the world that you are dieting but I am thankful that (most) everyone was supportive and encouraging.

whole30 week 3

#whole30 week 3

Whole30 Week 3 – done!  It was hard, hard, HARD!  Definitely my most challenging week yet.

Rather than repeating myself every day I’m just going to write it here that snacks each day were (all, some, or none of) these things: apple with almond butter, fruit, smoothies (avocado + coconut milk + banana + blueberries + almond butter + spinach)

Also, I have to apologize because I did a terrible job taking pictures of my meals this week so it’s a pretty boring post.

Day 15 (Sunday)

breakfastSweet potato hash with two fried eggs, bone broth

lunch – Leftover chipotle chicken from our meal Saturday over extra sweet potato hash from breakfast and grapes.

dinner – Salad with chicken, hard boiled egg, sunflower seeds, and orange poppyseed dressing and berries.

thoughts – My milk seems to be back!  Yay!  Hudson nursed well at each feeding.

Hudson and I left after a quick lunch Sunday to go stay with my mom for part of the week.  She is thankfully 100% supportive and plans to make strictly Whole30 food while I’m there plus I brought some of my own stuff from home, but I know it will still be somewhat challenging since it’s not our normal routine or my own kitchen.

Day 16 (Monday)

breakfast – Sweet potato hash with fried eggs and bone broth

lunch – Leftover chipotle chicken over sweet potato hash and grapes.

dinner – Shrimp gumbo and berries.

I’ve never had gumbo before but Mom and I found some recipes that we were able to modify into a Whole30 compliant meal.  It was very good!

thoughts – Today I felt mad.  I was just mad that I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted.  Here I am staying with my mom and I can’t have any of my favorite comfort foods like chicken and dumplings or homemade milkshakes.  I sure hope this “Tiger Blood” I keep hearing about kicks in soon so I can quit craving things that I can’t have!

I haven’t done as well with my veggies yesterday or today so I need to try to increase those.

But on a positive note, my milk has been fine today.  Hudson nursed less than normal since he was so distracted playing and being in a different environment, but when he did nurse there was plenty of milk.  Looks like adding in the extra fat via smoothies is working so I will continue doing that!

Day 17 (Tuesday)

breakfast – same as previous days

lunch – Leftover chipotle chicken over leftover sweet potato hash and leftover gumbo.

dinner – Steak, roasted green beans, mashed potatoes, salad, and fruit.

Day 18 (Wednesday)

breakfast – same

lunch – Leftover steak, green beans, and gumbo

dinner – Fish (I don’t even know what kind, my mom cooked it), steamed broccoli, sweet potato hash, squash, and fruit.

thoughts – Reeses.  No bake chocolate oatmeal cookies.  Chocolate cake.  Cake batter ice cream.  THAT is what I really want.

Seriously.  I am SO over Whole30 right now.  I am tired tired tired of eggs, avocados, and sweet potatoes.  I want a yummy dessert.  I also feel like it isn’t working for me – I don’t feel any better or more energetic than I did before…in fact, I feel pretty much exactly the same.  I also don’t feel like I’ve lost a single pound.  My wedding ring (and not even my real wedding rings but my stand in ring until my real ones fit again) doesn’t feel the least bit looser than it did 18 days ago.  I so badly want to wear my real rings again!

Don’t worry, I am going to see these 30 days through.  Just 12 more days to go.  But I’m definitely feeling very discouraged and questioning whether or not it has been worth it.

Day 19 (Thursday)

breakfast – same, minus broth because I ran out

lunch – Leftover steak, squash, sweet potato hash, and an apple with almond butter.

dinner – Chicken breast and a hashbrown-type thing (basically the same recipe as the sweet potato hash but with white potatoes).

Dinner was a big fail.  Michael and I both got back from being out of town to nothing in our fridge and nothing planned so we had to throw something together.  The chicken was ok but the hashbrowns didn’t turn out good at all (plus if I can’t have ketchup on my hashbrowns then I just don’t want them…).

thoughts – Over.It.

I am so sick and tired of eating the same things over and over.  So boring.  I have to find some other things to add in if I’m going to finish out these 30 days!

Day 20 (Friday)

breakfast – Scrambled eggs with onions and kale, blackberries

#whole30 scrambled eggs and blackberries

lunchAvocado tuna with radishes and grapes

dinner – Vegetable soup and tangerines

I modified my usual vegetable soup recipe – took out the corn and peas and added in some okra instead.  Not the most exciting soup ever but it was pretty good.

thoughts – Being home made Whole30 much easier.  I wasn’t as angry about “having” to eat this way and my intense frustration and desire to quit have chilled out.  Also some friends talked me down from the ledge ;).  I also broke the Whole30 rules and weighed myself.  I had told myself that if I got on the scale and hadn’t lost any weight then I was just going to quit.  However, I have lost some (not tons, but some) so I’m going to keep going.

Day 21 (Saturday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, blackberries, and broth

lunch – Avocado tuna with radishes and grapes

dinner – Vegetable soup, leftover tuna from lunch, grapes, and tangerine

thoughts – Today was a little hard.  We had our church ladies’ retreat this weekend and instead of getting to eat the yummy food they made I ate my own.  Friday night I ate supper before I went, Saturday morning I ate breakfast before I went (I drove back and forth Friday and Saturday instead of spending the night), I took my lunch with me, and then I left before supper so I could eat at home.  It wasn’t awful but I was kind of bummed to miss out on the meals.

I got tired of my smoothie so I didn’t eat one Thursday, Friday, or Saturday and I felt like my milk had dropped so I’ll start drinking those again.

Also….dare I say it?…I am very tentatively, fingers crossed, thinking that maybe, just maybe, my (stand in) wedding ring is feeling a teeny tiny bit loose.  I’m trying not to get too excited but I’m really hoping that’s the case.  I SO BADLY want to be able to wear my real wedding rings again!!

Thoughts for the week

Well as you can tell I really struggled this week.  Now that the end is in sight and I’ve already gotten past the events where I really missed getting to eat anything I wanted (staying with my mom and being on ladies retreat) I think I can make it for nine more days.  It may be a boring nine days (although I’m going to work on getting some more variety) but I can do it.  I’m not going to say that I’m enjoying it, and to be quite honest I pretty much hate it, but I’m going to see it through.

Whole 30 Week 2

#whole30 week 2 meal plan and thoughts

Week 2 of Whole30 – check!  I started out Week 2 with a meal plan like I had in Week 1 but we deviated from the plan a lot this week!  We still ate the same basic stuff but just switched up what nights we had them.

#whole30 meal plan week 2

(see my meals and recap of week 1 here)

I’m not listing my snacks each day because frankly I forget from day to day but also because it’s the same every day: apple with cashew or almond butter, tangerine, macadamia nuts, hard boiled egg (all or some of that list, depending on how hungry I am during that day).

Day 8 (Sunday)

breakfast – Oh man…today I had the best breakfast ever!  Sweet potato hash with fried eggs.  So, so good!  It was time consuming making the hash (Michael very sweetly cooked breakfast for me while I got ready for church) so not something I’ll do every day but maybe for a special weekend treat.  It was very filling too – I wasn’t able to eat it all!  I had some broth with my breakfast as well.

#whole30 fried eggs and sweet potato hash

lunch – We finished off the chili from last week with some kale chips and then I also ate my leftover eggs and hash from breakfast.

dinner – We cooked another chicken in the crock pot like last week and served it with sweet potato fries, roasted broccoli (minus the parmesan that recipe calls for), and some berries.

Day 9 (Monday)

breakfast – Sunday we tried another egg bake-casserole-dish-thing.  This time we made a southwest breakfast casserole.  I tried a bite on Sunday and thought it was going to be a winner but Monday when I had it for breakfast it just wasn’t love.  Hudson and Michael both loved it but I wasn’t a fan.  I’m beginning to think that breakfast casseroles like this are not for me (SUCH a bummer because they are super easy and convenient).  I had a cup of broth with my breakfast as well.

#whole30 southwest breafkast casserole

lunch – We had lots of leftover chicken from our meal Sunday night so I made a salad like the one I loved so much from last week (chicken, lettuce, avocado, cherry tomatoes, roasted pumpkin seeds, and orange poppyseed dressing).  I also had some grapes and leftover baked sweet potato.

dinner – We loved the spicy tuna cakes from last week so much that we made them again!  This time though instead of cooking them in a muffin tin we cooked them in a skillet and liked that much better (less clean up than a muffin tin!).  We also had kale chips and brussels sprouts for sides.

Day 10 (Tuesday)

breakfast – More of the southwest breakfast casserole and bone broth.

lunch – Same salad with grapes.

dinner – Michael cooked salmon (instructions here – we used ghee instead of butter) and it was delicious!  That was a winner!  For sides we had roasted green beans, mashed sweet potato, and strawberries.

#whole30 salmon#whole30 salmon and roasted green beans

This time we cooked some of the green beans separately for Hudson without the cayenne since they were too hot for him last time – he loved them and ate the whole plate!

Day 11 (Wednesday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, some leftover zucchini, and bone broth.

lunch – Same salad with leftover mashed sweet potatoes.

For some reason this did not fill me up like it had the other days and I was hungry very shortly after.

dinner – A random smorgasboard of things.  We didn’t have time to cook before church and we had tons of leftovers so we ate those up.  We had leftover spicy tuna cakes as our “main” item and then had whatever leftover veggies were in the fridge.

Day 12 (Thursday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, roasted potatoes (finally finished all of those up from last week!), and broth

lunch – Same salad with some grapes and leftover roasted green beans.

dinnerShepherd’s pie and strawberries.  This was the first time either of us had ever had any form of shepherd’s pie and it did not disappoint!  I thought it was a little bland so I added some hot sauce to mine to spice it up but overall it was very good!  Hudson must have thought so too because he ate an adult sized portion!

#whole30 shepherds pie

Day 13 (Friday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, mashed sweet potatoes, broth

lunch – Leftover shepherd’s pie

dinner – Shrimp stir fry (shrimp, bell peppers, and broccoli plus some seasonings that Michael put in but I’m not sure what they were), crash potatoes, and fruit.  Definitely a winning meal!   We all loved the stir fry and the potatoes – Michael liked his crash potatoes with rosemary, I put chili powder on mine, and Hudson’s just had salt and pepper.

#whole30 shrimp stir fry and crash potatoes

snacks – apple with almond butter, smoothie

thoughts – Today I was done, done, done.  I wanted to throw in the towel and eat a big, gooey brownie.  Part of that was because I was just tired of eating this way and craving sweets and part of it is because my milk has been consistently very low for about a week.  That wouldn’t be such a big deal if Hudson were ok with it and using that as an opportunity to wean but instead he just cries and signs for milk all the time and it’s quite stressful.

Before I quit Whole30 due to the milk thing I’m trying really hard to get it back up and just eating lots of calories (let’s be honest, eating tons of veggies does not result in many calories).  Smoothies are technically a no-no but it was the best way I could think of get a bunch of fat and calories so I made a coconut milk/avocado/blueberry/banana/almond butter smoothie.  It was better than I expected – not great, but edible.  Not perfectly Whole30 but if it comes down to that or a brownie I guess I made the better choice.

Day 14 (Saturday)

breakfast – We had the delicious sweet potato hash with fried eggs again and broth

lunch – I had not finished my breakfast so I ate the rest of that for lunch and then also some leftover shepherd’s pie.  We had a bunch of fruit left over from the oils class I taught that morning so we ate some of that too.

dinnerChipotle chicken sweet potato skins, avocado, and grapes.  This was good but H.O.T.   Oh my stars.  We couldn’t find chipotle peppers so we used the chipotle spice we found on the baking aisle and my oh my was it hot!  I love hot food but even this was a bit too much for me!  It was a delicious meal though, so next time we’ll just make sure to use less seasoning.

thoughts – I had another hard day today.  I taught an essential oils class at my house and made a coffee cake for it that and did not take a single bite!  I was proud of that but it was also a total bummer to bake a cake and not get to eat any of it!  I couldn’t even try it to make sure it tasted ok!  I’m hoping that I’ll get over this hump soon because I am for sure getting bored and missing lots of my yummy foods.

Thoughts for the week:  Well Week 2 was definitely harder than Week 1.  The “new” has worn off and the repetition of eggs, avocados, and potatoes is getting old.  I used up most of my “oh man that looks awesome!” meals from Pinterest last week so this week I was struggling to find things that looked appealing.

Next week I am going to work really hard at finding some new dishes to try so that I’m not bored and try to eat more good fats to get my milk back up

Whole30 Week 1 {meal plan, recipes, and thoughts}

#whole30 week one meal plan

Whole30 week 1 is done-o and I survived!  Hooray!  Here’s what I ate, what we liked (and didn’t like), and thoughts about each day.

I’m not sure how well you can read this, but this was my meal plan for the week.  I don’t usually plan our meals this much in detail, but since this diet is so strict I wanted to make sure that I planned out everything and actually over planned as far as how much food we would need.  Of course this ended up getting changed some during the week as we discovered foods we didn’t like or I realized a meal made more or less than I expected.

#whole30 week 1 meal plan

Look how full that fridge is!  Mercy.  I went on a huge shopping trip Saturday to get everything on my insanely long list.  #whole30 groceries

And of course I had to enjoy one last Dr Pepper and Reeses before starting!

Photo Feb 28, 11 38 35 AM

Alright, here we go!

Day 1 (Sunday)

breakfast – Saturday night I fixed baked eggs with spinach, tomato, and onion and then warmed it up for breakfast Sunday.  I was not impressed.  For one, I don’t like cooked tomatoes (I just thought I’d give them a try again) and also the consistency was too wet.  I also had roasted potatoes with rosemary.

#whole30 breakfast of tomato onion spinach egg bake and roasted potatoes

I knew I didn’t eat enough, especially since I didn’t eat very much of the frittata, so I wasn’t surprised that I was very hungry by the time church was over.

lunch – After church we fixed tuna with avocado and some kale chips.  The tuna was delicious!  Michael tried mine and liked it so much that he wanted me to fix him some which was so surprising to me.   Hudson loved it too and gobbled it up.  I felt like we ate a bunch but I was hungry pretty soon after so it wasn’t filling enough.

#whole30 lunch avocado tuna, cucumbers, and kale chips

snack – For snack I tried this broccoli/carrot/avocado/grape/pumpkin seed salad and a boiled egg.  The salad was so-so.  Not the best thing that I’d ever made but not the worst.  It made a TON so I had a bunch of leftovers…which is too bad because I didn’t like it that much.

Still hungry a little while later so I ate half an apple with almond butter (not as good as my beloved peanut butter but it’ll do)

dinner – My favorite meal of the day!  And I finally got full!  We cooked a chicken in the crock pot and had sweet potato fries and roasted green beans.  The chicken and sweet potato fries were recipes that we know and love so it was nice to have some “comfort food”.  The green bean recipe was new and it was delicious!  I loved it.  They were way too spicy for Hudson though so just fyi if you’re making them for your kids.

#whole30 dinner chicken, roasted green beans, sweet potato fries, strawberries

thoughts – Day 1 was a struggle for sure!  Hunger and headaches were the theme of the day.  I felt hungry pretty most all day until supper.  I think like I ate enough for three people at supper to finally get full!  Right before we left for church Sunday evening I got a raging headache that lasted until we went to bed.  I very rarely get headaches so that was unusual.  I’m guessing it was from a lack of sugar.

Day 2 (Monday)

breakfast – I tried chopping up the frittata from Sunday and putting it back in the oven to see if that would dry up the mushy texture a bit.  It didn’t.  I also forgot to roast a potato the night before so I fixed one really quick…too quick because the pieces didn’t get cooked all the way through.  I ended up giving Hudson almost all of my eggs and just eating the raw-ish potatoes and some bone broth that we made after we cooked chicken last night.

(bone broth = spicy broth made from the bones of the chicken from the previous night’s meal.  It’s supposed to be super good for you and it’s delicious.  Recipe here)

Breakfast fail.

#whole 30 breakfast of spinach onion tomato egg bake, roasted potatoes, and bone broth

lunch – Lunch was almost a fail too.  I had planned for us to eat sweet potato fries…I hadn’t planned on us eating so many the night before that there were very few leftovers. Then I planned to bake a sweet potato in the oven but I forgot to put it in before lunch.   So I decided just to throw a sweet potato in the microwave.

Our microwave has an automatic potato sensor thingy but we never use it and as I’m merrily fixing my salad and the potato is smelling very strong I think that maybe it’s been in there a little too long.  I look and it says it still has 10 minutes left but when I open the microwave smoke comes billowing out!  I had to open the doors and windows and turn on the fan (luckily it was on the upper end of freezing outside instead of the single digits!).  The potato was dry and felt petrified.

(Update: on Saturday our microwave still smells like burnt potato…oh my!)

However, the rest of lunch was amazing!  I made orange poppyseed dressing (waaaayyyy better than the boring olive oil and vinegar homemade dressing I’ve made in the past when trying to avoid store bought dressing) and used the leftover chicken, lettuce, radishes, and cherry tomatoes to make a big salad.  We ate what was left of the sweet potato fries and had some macadamia nuts on the side.

#whole30 lunch chicken avocado salad with orange poppyseed dressing

snack – Another round of the broccoli/carrot/apple salad, which held up surprisingly well, although I liked it less on day 2 than I did day 1.

dinner – I made “the bomb chili” in the crock pot along with roasted brussels sprouts.  Other than forgetting to thaw out the ground beef and having to cook forever to get the frozen meat browned, this was an easy and delicious dish!  There are tons of veggies in it but you don’t notice them (at least, I didn’t) so it’s a good way to get extra vegetables in.  It’s very different from my normal chili recipe and the consistency is much thicker, more like sloppy joes.  But it was still good, although Michael didn’t like it as much as I did.  Hudson loved it!

I cooked the brussels the same way I do our roasted broccoli, minus the parmesan, and they turned out great!  I’ve always been afraid of brussels sprouts but not anymore.

#whole30 dinner the bomb chili, brussel sprouts, strawberries

snack – I felt hungry before bed so I had an apple with almond butter.

#whole30 snack apple with almond butter

thoughts – I woke up with super puffy eyes.  That only happens if I have a big cry the day before but I hadn’t so I really have no idea why that happened.  I’m not sure if was related to Whole30 or just a weird coincidence but it was very strange.  My hands also felt swollen which happens after I eat a ton of salt (like tortilla chips) but again, I didn’t do that the day before so who knows.

I’ve upped my water and can definitely tell since I have to go to the bathroom more frequently!  Today I had a very mild headache in the afternoon but nothing like the one Sunday.  My milk supply seems to be fine; in fact, I felt like I had more milk than usual this morning when we woke up.

I have been very impressed and surprised with how well Hudson has done with our meals.  I have given him everything we eat and he has eaten great (better than me at times)!  He loved the mushy tomato eggs, gobbled up tuna (which had raw onion), ate radishes and chili and broccoli salad.  The only things he has really rejected were the roasted white potatoes, brussels sprouts, lettuce, strawberries, and the roasted green beans (I made them too spicy…you should have seen his poor face when he ate them – I felt terrible!)

Photo Mar 01, 12 39 41 PM

Day 3 (Tuesday)

breakfast – After the tomato spinach frittata was a bust I decided to try another frittata recipe.  This one was asparagus, spinach, and mushroom.  The only problem?  I hate mushrooms.  The consistency was so much better with this recipe but the mushroom taste was so strong and in every bite that I just couldn’t eat it.  I will be reusing this basic recipe but leaving out the mushrooms.

So again I mostly just had my potatoes and broth for breakfast.  Time to find another egg option that I actually like.

#whole30 breakfast spinach mushroom asparagus fritatta with roasted potatoes and bone broth

lunch – Leftover chili with avocado, some veggies (honestly can’t remember now), and some macadamia nuts.

dinnerBuffalo ranch chicken stuffed peppers (using the leftover chicken from the crock pot chicken) and roasted cauliflower.   I didn’t not care for the stuffed peppers but the cauliflower was delicious!  So, so good!  I’m usually just meh about cauliflower but this recipe was fantastic.

And now I’m sad that I used up the chicken for this meal and can’t have any more yummy salad right now.  Sniff.

snacks – apple with almond butter, tangerine, boiled egg

thoughts – I think it’s good to experiment with new foods or even to try things that you haven’t liked in the past, but when you’re trying to stick to a strict diet it might not be the best time to try those foods that you hate and hope that you magically like them…chances are you won’t and now you’re stuck with an inedible meal (and you can just pull out the Frosted Flakes and eat a bowl real quick since you didn’t like what you fixed!).

Also, today I woke up with a sore throat.  It went away after a few hours but I can’t help wonder if it was a coincidence or maybe related to detoxing from Whole30?

Day 4 (Wednesday)

breakfast – Ok no more eggs with yucky ingredients for me!  I abandoned the frittatas and scrambled eggs with onion, green pepper, and spinach.  Finally an edible breakfast!  I also had roasted potatoes and broth.

#whole30 breakfast scrambled eggs with peppers onions and spinach and bone broth

lunch – Leftover stuffed pepper and same salad as Monday (minus the chicken)

dinner – Baked sweet potato, boiled egg, berries, leftover roasted cauliflower

snack – apple with almond butter

I ate a whole apple this time (usually I just do half) and quite a bit more almond butter because I felt like my milk was dropping some so I was trying to increase my calories, fat, and carbs a bit.

thoughts – This was the first day that I didn’t feel crazy hungry all day…I’m sure eating a good, filling breakfast probably played a big part in that!  Still having a headache, mostly in the afternoon and evening.

This was also my first Whole30 “challenge”.  We had to go to church early to help serve the meal for the college kids and normally I would eat there, but not while on Whole30.  So before we left I ate my apple with almond butter snack, I didn’t eat anything while we were there, and then after church I ate another snack-y supper.

Day 5 (Thursday)

breakfast – Same thing as Wednesday

lunch – A serious snow day calls for some comfort food!  Leftover chili, avocado, kale chips, and berries

#whole30 lunch chili with avocado, kale chips, and berries

dinner – Green chili chicken with cumin roasted carrots, baked sweet potato, and berries.

The chicken was good.  Not like the best thing I had ever eaten, but still good.  I did not like the flavor of the carrots but Michael and Hudson both loved them.

snack – apple with almond butter, tangerine

thoughts – The first day without a headache!  Hooray!

Day 6 (Friday)

breakfast – Decided to fry my eggs this morning so I had two fried eggs, roasted potatoes, bell pepper strips, and broth.

#whole30 breakfast fried eggs with roasted potatos, bell pepper strips, and broth

lunch – We had a random assortment of leftovers.  I had leftover green chili chicken with avocado, some berries, and kale chips.  Hudson had (and thoroughly enjoyed) leftover buffalo chicken and avocado.  Wow that was a mess!

Photo Mar 06, 2 05 26 PM

dinnerSpicy tuna cakes with roasted asparagus and berries (strawberries and blackberries).  The tuna cakes were delicious!  Sweet yet spicy and so good!  We all loved them and are going to have them again next week.  So yum.

snacks – apple with almond butter, tangerine

thoughts – I don’t feel horrible anymore and I’m not having to spend as much time in the kitchen as I expected…things are looking up!

Day 7 (Saturday)

breakfast – Two fried eggs, some bell pepper strips, roasted potatoes, and broth.  Good and filling, although I’ve just about had all the roasted potatoes I can handle so it’s time to change it up a bit for next week!

lunch – Avocado tuna with cucumbers and baked sweet potatoes

dinner – We tried cinnamon orange shrimp and it was fantastic!  Too spicy for Hudson though so next time I’ll cook him some separately.  We also had zucchini, roasted butternut squash, and berries.

snack – Apple with cashew butter (this was my first time trying cashew butter and I didn’t like it); tangerine and some macadamia nuts

thoughts – I woke up slightly stopped up and feel like I’ve got a bit of a cold coming on.  Sore throat a few days ago and then this…more coincidences or is detoxing my body causing some dormant sickness to spring up or weakening my immune system so that I’m catching stuff? (…who knows, I totally made those things up so that might not even be legit).

I also noticed that I’m not getting nearly as hungry between meals and not feeling like I have to eat as much at each meal.  The first few days I was starving but now I feel pretty satisfied throughout the day.

I did get pretty mad (at no on in particular, just in general) Saturday night as I was getting ready to make a new breakfast dish for Sunday morning that I had to cook yet another meal and wash more dishes.  I felt exhausted (I’m sure the minor sickness wasn’t helping) and like I really just wanted a break from fixing food! (totally opposite of how I was feeling Friday funnily enough).

Thoughts for the week:

Well I tried some new foods and recipes that were a big, fat bust, but I also tried some new ones that were huge winners!  The most exciting thing is that I survived my first week!  Once I got past the first few days and my headaches and the hunger subsided it got a whole lot easier.  Actually I was surprised, compared to dieting in the past, as to how few cravings I had for sugary things.  Usually I really struggle with that for a few days.

I do feel like my milk has dropped some, especially in the afternoon, but since Hudson is 13 months and eating good meals I’m not as concerned about it.  I am trying to boost it a bit but it’s not a huge problem that makes me feel like I need to quit Whole30 at this point.

Notes: This meal plan is probably far from perfect.  Because I am still breastfeeding I have been more lax about having snacks (Whole30 recommends no snacking), eating fruit (I think you’re supposed to just eat 1-2 servings a day and I’ve been doing 2-3), and also eating potatoes multiple times a day.  So just fyi if you’re planning to do Whole30 definitely read the book or read the guidelines to make sure you are doing it correctly.

But for the most part when I’m planning my meals I start with my protein, add at least 2 veggies, make sure to have some healthy fats, and then maybe some fruit on the side.

I have linked to all the recipes from this week but if you’re more visual or want to see all the recipes I’ve collected, check out my Whole30 board on Pinterest.

(oh and in case you care our dishes are Corelle’s South Beach pattern)

I’ve got another week of meals planned and the groceries are purchased so here we go sailing into week 2!

whole30 here we go

I’m taking us on a new journey, dear readers.  A journey through my Whole30 challenge.  If you follow my Facebook page then you’ve seen my #whole30 posts recently and maybe you were curious (or maybe you don’t give a rip but too bad ’cause I’m going to tell you anyway).

I’m not going to go on and on trying to explain the program.  You can check out the official Whole30 website or Google (or search Pinterest) and you’ll find tons of info.  Also, It Starts With Food is the book that goes along with Whole30 and would be a good thing to read if you’re seriously considering.

it starts with food #whole30

Basically it comes down to this:  for 30 days (starting Sunday, March 1) I’ll be eating meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, fruit, and healthy fats.  And that’s about it.  No dairy.  No grains.  No beans.  No peanut butter (!!) (because peanuts are technically legumes).  No processed foods.  And definitely no added sugar.  It’s like Paleo but stricter.

(see the Whole30 rules here)

Why?  WHY? Why would you want to do that?

Several reasons, really.

At first it was just because I wanted to lose weight.  I’ve really struggled since Hudson was born and after researching Whole30 it sounded like something that could help but not drop my milk supply as long as I make sure to eat enough.  “Traditional” dieting has not worked for me while nursing (contrary to the common idea that breastfeeding makes the weight just fall off).  If you’ve been around a while you know about my weight loss journey in college so I know *how* to lose weight, I just can’t use my old techniques while nursing.

But as I researched I realized I want to do this for so much more.  Hudson doesn’t eat nearly as healthy as I’d like since he eats what we eat and that isn’t very many vegetables these days.  I’m also hoping it’ll help with other things too such as changing my mindset about food, fixing digestion issues, and re-training my body to enjoy real food over processed.

So are you never eating cheese or bread again?

No.  I mean yes.  I mean…I do plan to introduce those foods back into my diet.  I do not feel like Whole30 is a long term way that I’d like to eat.

Part of the thing with Whole30 is that after you finish your 30 days (or longer if you want to keep going longer) you start slowly adding in the foods that could be trigger foods for health issues (gluten, soy, dairy, etc.).  You see how that makes you feel and evaluate whether you think you should eat them or not (read It Starts With Food if you want to know more specifically why they don’t want you to eat those foods).  I personally don’t feel like any of those foods are big issues for me but I want to try going without them just to see (what if they *do* make me feel bad and I’m so used to it that I don’t realize?).  But unless I find that I really need to avoid one of those foods then yes, I will add them back in.

My plan after Whole30 is to go back to eating the way we did during our 100 days of real food challenge – lots of whole, real, minimally-processed foods (including dairy, grains, and beans).

Why am I telling you this?

I fully intended not to say anything because what if I fail?  I was just planning to pop on here in a month and be all “let me tell you about this great lifestyle change I made this month – I’m so much healthier and I lost weight and it’s great!”  Unless it didn’t make a difference and then I wouldn’t say anything.  But then I realized that I’d rather share my journey with you and have that accountability so here I am.

It’s going to be hard.  I don’t eat a lot of meat and I don’t eat a lot of vegetables so it will be a challenge for those to make up the majority of my diet.  But is it impossible?  No.

My meal plan is made.  My grocery list is made.  I’m going shopping this afternoon.  I’ll start prepping what I can this evening.  I’m celebrating my birthday with family tomorrow and will probably overindulge on junk.  And then Sunday it begins.

whole30 meal plan

So here we go.  30 days.  No cheats.  No junk.

Who wants to join me?  We can do this together!