10.22.2018

Miscellaneous Monday!

Happy Monday....thought I would share a little randomness on this Miscellaneous Monday!

{ONE} 
 I am pretty sure this is the warmest October on record here in the Bay Area,
It's been in the 80s all month. 
No rain, no clouds. 
Just sun & warm temperatures.
Hoping & praying that Fall arrives to California in November. 
Even though the weather has been warm, we are still all about the pumpkin bread!
 My recipe makes 2 batches and we devour them in less than 48 hours. 
If you need a perfect pumpkin bread recipe, here it is!

{TWO}
The local bookstore in my town has been killing it this month with author visits!
First, Jodi Picoult came for an event. She is one of my favorite authors.
 She gave an awesome talk, shared about her new book A Spark of Light and then had a meet & greet. 
Jodi was so lovely & down to earth. I got a signed copy of the book can’t wait to read it. 
Have you read it yet?

Then on Friday, Elin Hilderbrand came to our bookstore for a book signing and to talk about her new book, Winter in Paradise.
 
 Elin (pronounced Ellen...did not know that) was promoting her new book, Winter In Paradise...the first book in a new trilogy,
 
Loved meeting her & hearing some of her story. Elin is real, down to earth and so humble. 
I think I’ve read 15 or 16 of her books....Can’t wait to read this one!

{THREE}
I'm still on my mission to run a race every month until I turn 40 in May.
This month, I did the Run for Education 10k.
I'm also doing a little October running challenge and running at least 1 mile everyday in the month of October. I haven't missed a day yet this month. Hope I can keep the streak alive....especially since we are going to Vegas this weekend.


{FOUR}
I've been wanting to show the kids Freaky Friday. I loved the book as a kid and found the newer version of the movie HERE for only $5!
My girls LOVED it!


{FIVE}
This weekend the Colorado Women's Soccer Team was playing here in the Bay Area. 
They played Cal on Thursday & Stanford on Sunday.
We took the kids to the Stanford game & we had a blast!
We invited a bunch of friends, including some girls I coach and our girls friends. They were so awesome and made signs and cheered so hard for Colorado.
We lost, but it was still so much fun!
So many great memories playing soccer at Colorado.


{SIX} 
Hamilton is coming back to San Francisco next year. My mom, sister and I went when it was here last year. It was AMAZING. I knew I wanted to get tickets so that Kevin and I could go. Tickets when on sale this morning. I was number 55, 277 in line.
The website opened up at 10 am and almost 7 hours later it was my turn (luckily, once you put your name in, you could give them your email and they would email you when it was your turn) When I checked it after school, it said I my turn would be around 2:25 pm.
WRONG! It was my turn at 4:45....and soccer practice started at 5 and I am a coach, so needless to say, I did NOT have a chance to buy Hamilton tickets. Oh well! Thankful I got to see it last year.
Sorry Kevin, I tried!

{SEVEN}
As you know, Rodan + Fields came out with a new product, Radiant Defense.
 What is Radiant Defense? It is Derma Cosmetics. Derma-Cosmetics offer instant cosmetic results with long-term dermatologic skin improvements.
  How is this different from foundation or B.B. or CC creams?
 Derma-Cosmetics  work to IMPROVE your skins health, not just cover it up.
 
Our NEW Radiant Defense:
👉 Is PERFECT for ALL skin tones and types
👉🏻 Doesn’t clog pores or leave skin oily
👉🏼 Protects against environmental aggressors
👉🏽 Leaves a smooth and flawless finish, like you’re wearing nothing at all
👉🏾 Contains SPF 30
👉🏿 Comes in 6 shades to match any skin tone and can be blended and contoured
👉🏽 Helps dry, irritated skin
👉🏼 Has skin-perfecting ability
👉🏻 IMMEDIATELY IMPROVES your skin tone
👉 Functions as the last step of your morning skincare regimen


I am the 3rd shade which is Sand. It goes on so easily & it so lightweight. I never wear foundation, but I am loving the Radiant Defense. You would use this in place of foundation. I am seriously obsessed...it covers up the scar on my nose from my skin cancer surgery. I don't even need to wear concealer on my scar anymore.
 
We have a few specials going on preferred customers who want Radiant Defense. 
Cost is $59 & free shipping for preferred customers.

Special #1 : Buy Radiant Defense and get make up wipes or eye make up remover for free:
 
 Special #2: Buy lash boost, get Radiant Defense for HALF off:
 
 
Special #3: Buy a regimen, get Radiant Defense for HALF off.
 

 One bottle of Radiant Defense will last 5-6 months.
Comes with a 60 day empty bottle 100% money back guarantee.
Radiant Defense is good for all skin types, has SPF 30 and won't clog pores...it's good for your skin!
 
 If you are interested in Radiant Defense, you can find your shade on my color matcher HERE.

Message me if you have questions or want to place an order.
melissa_larson17@yahoo.com

 
{EIGHT}
If you've read my blog for several years, you know that every October, I have a Crock-tober event where I share a Crock Pot recipe and do a giveaway.
I got an Instant Pot in September 2016 and since then I haven't used my Crock Pot. 
2 years of no crock pot, in fact...I gave it away this Summer when I was doing my 40 bags in 40 days.
Why keep it if I don't use it? I have my Instant Pot that I love!
So, instead of having Crock-tober this year, I am officially changing the name to:
Instant Pot-ober!

It's not as catchy as Crock-tober, but I felt like I needed to change the name since I don't even own a Crock Pot anymore!

Stay tuned for Instat Pot-ober...coming to my blog VERY soon!

{NINE}
Have you heard of the Lost My Name books?

The books are so cute, you customize them with your child's name. Each child’s adventure is totally unique and based on their name
Luke has both of these books.
It's an outer space adventure staring your child & their house and they use an actual satellite image of your child's house. You can preview all the books with your customization. Luke loves them!
They now have a Birthday book called the Birthday Thief
I love how you can personalize it!
  Another cute book is Kingdom of You. Planning on getting this one for Luke this Christmas.
  You can order the books HERE
If you enter your email address, they will send you a $7 off your order code!  
They have bigger discounts if you order more than 1 book, you  get an additional 15% off with code Use code MULTI15
These books make great birthday or Christmas gifts.

{TEN}
 Someone has to get glasses & isn't excited about it.
I think she looks adorable! And, she looks so old!
She only needs to wear them at school & while reading, so that makes her happy.
 
There you have it....some miscellaneous on this October Monday!
Hope you had a great day!

10.18.2018

Taco Cornbread Casserole

Growing up, we had some sort of casserole for dinner each week.
I think the word casserole gets a bad rap sometimes because in the 80's & 90's many casseroles were filled with "cream of soups" and cheese. Lots of cheese.
But, casseroles CAN be healthy! And good for you!
Whenever I see a casserole recipe, I try and "healthy" it up and add fresh ingredients to it and also as a garnish.
The beauty of casseroles is that you can make them ahead of time.
Here is a casserole that is a family favorite!
Here is what you need:
- 1 lb of ground turkey
- 1 cup of diced onion
- 1 packet of Taco seasoning (I use the less sodium one)
- 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 can of corn, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup of your favorite Salsa (I use fresh salsa from the refrigerated section)
- Shredded Cheese
- 1 box of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix (plus the ingredients needed to for the mix which is 1/3 cup milk and 1 egg)

Directions:
In a skillet, cook the ground turkey with the packet of taco seasoning and 1 cup of diced onions.
Note: You are NOT adding water to the taco seasoning mix.
When the ground turkey, onion & taco seasoning is done cooking, add 1 cup of salsa, drained black beans & drained corn to the mixture.
Simmer for 5 minutes so all the flavors combine.
While the mixture is simmering, mix the Jiffy Corn bread mix per the package directions (you will need to add 1 egg & 1 2/3 cups of milk) Spread the cornbread mixture in an 8x8 or 9x9 pan.
 I spray the pan with Pam before I add the cornbread mixture.
DO NOT COOK THE CORNBREAD YET. Add the mixture to the uncooked cornbread:
Cover with foil and bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Take off the foil and cover the top with shredded cheese:
Bake (uncovered) for 10 minutes (or until cheese is all melted)
Let cool for a few minutes & then you are ready to serve it!
We love garnishing it with avocado & cilantro on top.
I also like to add sour cream & more fresh salsa.
The cornbread on the bottom adds so much flavor! YUM.
I hope you like this as much as our family does. 
This is a meal that ALL 5 of us will eat, even my 2 picky eaters!
Enjoy!

10.16.2018

A Sunday Well Spent Brings a Week of Content

We've been in school for 8 weeks so I wanted to share what I've done this school year to help me stay organized each week....this is the most organized I have felt in YEARS, so I wanted to share some tips that have helped me.
What I've realized is that making a plan on Sunday for the week ahead is a game changer.
This includes Meal Planning for the week, making lunches, going over calendars, having a clean house, etc.
This statement could not ring more true for me:
What I've realized is that if I spend some time on Sunday prepping for the week, it will make my life less chaotic.
Here are some things I do on Sundays....

MEAL PLANNING: 
Every Sunday I sit down and make a Meal Plan for the week.
I ask my kids & Kevin what they feel like having for dinner during the week and I also flip though my recipe book & the recipes I have on my blog.
 Here is an example of what I do on my meal planning:
Recipes on my blog from this list: 
Chicken Tortilla Soup, Homemade Mac & Cheese, Instant Pot Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork, Mexican Chicken Couscous Casserole.

I go through our pantry and see what ingredients I have on hand & what I need to get at the store.
For my meal plan, in the Fall/Winter I generally do an Instant Pot meal on Sundays (aka Slow Cooker Sundays).
I try and do a variety of meals. A chicken dish, a beef dish & a pasta dish each week.
Tuesday is usually a Taco Tuesday of some sort, either Tacos, Taco Soup or Taco Casserole.
On the weekends we like to BBQ or grill.We love Mexican & Italian flavors, so you will see those a lot.

I also write down any appointments that we have during the week like dentist, orthodontist, etc or if it is a conference week, minimum days, field trips, etc.

I know most people use their phones for this, but I like having it on paper...I just write this down in a notebook, nothing fancy. Keeping it simple :)

Here is a different week...I write down what things we have at night (like soccer or youth group)
Recipes on my blog from this list: Italian Stuffed Peppers
Coming to the blog this week...Taco Cornbread Casserole!

This Fall, every Thursday is leftover night because all 3 kids have soccer practice from 5-6 and since Kevin and I are coaching, it is a crazy night to get dinner made, so we have leftovers!

You will also notice that Friday is Pizza Night. I started doing that once Kate was born.
As a working mom with kids, Friday night Pizza Night is my favorite. I LOVE to cook and meal plan and don't mind doing that during the week, but on Fridays, I am done! Plus, I LOVE pizza, so it's a fun way to end the week.

With planning our meals each Sunday,  it makes life easier to get dinner on the table & eliminates the need to get take out or go out to dinner. We rarely get take out or go out to eat.....maybe once or twice a month (if that!)

GROCERY STORE & FOOD PREP:
I have been very consistent with this during the first 2 months of school.
On Sundays, after I write down our meal plan, I inventory our pantry to see what I need to get.
I also figure out what lunch foods/snacks for the kids we are running low on and add that to my shopping list.
When I get home from the store, I put all the food away and then I prep food!
What this means is I wash fruit & cut up fruit and put it in containers.
I do the same for veggies (my kids love sliced peppers)

I also make any after school snacks for the week. 
My kids LOVE protein bites and muffins for after school or before soccer practice.

I have found that when I wash/prep the food and store them in the fridge, then we are more likely to eat the fruit/veggies throughout the week because it is ready to eat! I use this fruit for lunches. If they are hungry after school or if they want an extra fruit/veggie at dinner, I will pull out the container and they will eat it. 
These are the containers I have and I love them:
They stack really well in my fridge and keep things fresh!


MAKING LUNCHES:
Every night I make lunches for my kids 
(Luke is in kinder and they are half day in our district & he is done before noon, so he doesn't eat lunch at school, only a snack. I usually give him a granola bar, cereal bar, Zbar or goldfish for his school snack)

The girls each have one Yum Box & I clean it out each night before I make their lunch.
This is the one Claire has & it fits perfectly in her Pottery Barn Kids lunchbox.
This is an example of Claire's lunch. She likes 1/2 a Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with cream cheese. In her yum box, I add veggie straws (or chips), fruit (usually grapes, berries or a cutie) and some mini oreos for dessert. In the lunch bag, I add an applesauce squeezer and granola bar.
Here is Kate's....she like a mini plain bagel with cream cheese.
This is the one Kate has & she also has this YumBox Lunch bag because she's too cool to have a PBK lunchbox now that she's in middle school ;)

Sometimes I will make Kate a Turkey Sandwich on a Hawaiian roll, but this year she wanted bagels. 
Sometimes I will sub out the granola bar for a string cheese or frozen gogurt.

My kids are obsessed with Pb & J with our Homemade Strawberry jam, but I don't let them bring pb&j to school because of other kids with nut allergies. They are allowed to bring nut based items, but I don't want to risk it and cause harm to other students, so I have never given them nuts at school. They can have pb & j on the weekends, as an after school snack or before soccer. 


What I've been doing this year on Sunday nights is making the girls bagels & cream cheese for the week and storing them in one of the the large containers in the fridge.
I have done this every Sunday night for the past 2 months & my kids haven't complained once about their bagel not tasting fresh. So, if you see my kids...don't tell them I pre make their bagel & cream cheese. LOL!
 It is SO much easier for me to make their lunches each night with the bagels already pre-made!

MAKE COFFEE FOR NEXT DAY:

Our coffee maker has a timer on it, so every night while I am making lunches, Kevin makes coffee for the next morning.
 We have it set to start brewing at 7am in the morning....one less thing for us to worry about doing in the morning!
We are not morning people, so it 's so nice to wake up to the smell of coffee brewing :)

CLEAN KITCHEN AT NIGHT:
 This has been a game changer in the best way.
In previous school years, I was good about doing this on Sunday nights, but then as the week went on, everything went to crap and my house would end up as a disaster by Friday.
As you might know, this Summer I finished my 40 Bags in 40 Days Project! This was the biggest clean out I have ever done.

And, guess what? It's been almost 3 months since I have finished and all the areas in my house are STILL ORGANIZED!!!! It's a MIRACLE! 
Actually, it's not a miracle, it mostly because everything has a place & I have kept good habits...like not having a dumping ground of piles anymore. 
One of the things that has helped me keep my house organized is that since the summer, each night before I go to bed, I clean the downstairs and put things away.
Dishes get done so there is nothing in the sink and I make sure countertops are clean & wipe down surfaces.
 On school nights, I go through backpacks & take out any important papers and file them (or recycle them) right away. I make sure the girls have their homework put in their backpack. I have lunches made & lunchboxes on the table so all the girls have to do in the morning is put take their yum box out of the fridge & put in their lunch box.
 It's so nice to know that each night we are all ready for the next day and there won't be (as much) rushing around in the morning.
  It's so much easier to relax & watch TV at night knowing your house is clean. It really just takes 10 minutes (sometimes 15) to get it clean, organized and stuff ready for the morning.
This was a habit I used to do just on Sunday nights, but this school year I have been doing this almost every night and it really helps with keeping it clean.
I LOVE having a clean kitchen at night!

PICK OUT OUTFITS FOR THE NEXT DAY:
Each night as part of our kids bedtime routine, they need to:
1) Get pj's on
2) Brush their teeth
3) Pick out their outfit for the next day.

We have been doing this since Kate was in Preschool. 
We check the weather app so they know what the weather will be & they can dress accordingly.
They lay out their outfit for the next day & they know they can't change their mind in the morning.
Mornings are chaotic enough trying to get 3 kids & 2 adults out of the house to school & work and this has been such a time saver!!!
Sometimes I even pick out my outfits for the day. I want to tell you about another random "life hack" about clothing that I've started doing earlier school year.
I have a "pattern" of what I wear on each day of the week. 
Mondays I wear black pants or black jeans.
Tuesdays I wear dark wash jeans.
Wednesdays I wear gray pants (or gray jeans)
 Thursdays I wear colored pants (either white jeans, my olive green moto pants or olive green jeans)
Fridays I wear regular wash/casual jeans.

If know what type of pants I am wearing, it's one less decision I have to make and I just have to pick out my top/sweater, jewelry and shoes.

You know how Steve Jobs wore the same thing everyday? 
A black shirt & jeans.
The reason he did this is to simplify his day and reduce "decision fatigue".  Have you heard of this term? I read an article on it years ago and it basically said that people have to make thousands of decisions each day.
What to eat for breakfast? What shirt to wear? What route to drive to work Where to go for lunch? What to make for dinner? Etc.
One way to be more productive and save brain power is to cut down on the number of decisions you need to make.
Simplify your decision making process and build habits.

I swear I get ready faster in the mornings because I already have an idea of what I'm going to wear. And, I've found that I've been wearing a wider variety of my wardrobe because of this. 
Does anyone else do this or am I just crazy?


So, there you have it....my Sunday night (and week night) tips to help us stay organized for the week.
We are not morning people so this system/routine works really well for our family.
I would love to hear what other meal planning tips, household tips, etc that you have to help stay organized. I am always looking for more ideas to help simplify things...especially laundry! UGH! Can't figure out a good system for that one. Laundry is my nemesis.
Leave your organization tips & ideas in the comments!

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