Cooking:Kroger Style

Please note I am not paid by Birds Eye or Kroger brands, these are my words and my opinions.

Greg and I eat fairly healthy. We love our chips and our desserts but for the most part I’ll almost always choose a salad, and my sweet husband doesn’t complain when we have chicken for the fourth time in a given week. So it is that I’m always looking for healthier options.

To be completely fair if I am going to share with you all the recipes that I make at home, I feel I also need to share with you when (and from where) I find little cheats, shortcuts to healthy eating.

And right now I feel like I have found a diamond in the freaking rough.

While shopping at my neighborhood Kroger I came across a new product from Birds Eye (a company I already love, and just when I thought I couldn’t love them more): VEGETABLE MADE PASTA!!! While I was slightly nervous, Greg was completely doubtful. But even he became a believer! Kroger had all 4 flavors: Original, Marinara, Cheddar and Alfredo. While I have only tried the three latter ones, let me just tell you I’m sure you won’t go wrong with any!

We paired all of these with chicken and then one other side:

  • Chicken with the Marinara pasta, with salad and corn on the cob (wahhh I already miss summer vegetables)
  • Chicken with Cheddar paired with green beans
  • Chicken Alfredo (duh) going perfectly with steamed broccoli

For under $5 and at 2+ servings (if there are even any leftovers because there hasn’t been for us) I couldn’t beat it!

Now before I start getting the comments about this being ‘frozen and not fresh’ or ‘not as healthy because it isn’t homemade’ let me say: I know there are probably healthier ways but I have never made ‘zoodles’ (heck, I have never even made my own regular pasta) and for my life right now, this is much more feasible.

Never mind the fact that I am not a huge pasta eater, so my husband usually is the one missing it, making this the best of both worlds!

Side note, while also shopping there this past weekend I saw they have Cauliflower rice and now Cauliflower mashed potatoes. While I haven’t tried those yet, let me say if they are anything like the pasta it will be a party in your mouth!

If you try it and love it, let me know! If you try it and hate it, tell me another alternative that you do love!

Enjoy, friends!

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Nash to the Ville

I was the tourist walking around the entire city attempting to take in every single second of this awesome city on my phone for you guys but it was just not feasible. If you haven’t been to this town do yourself a favor and go. It will be an unforgettable time.

We got to Nashville mid-Thursday evening, immediately checked into our hotel and headed out for the night. I dressed in jeans, gold jewelry, big hair, and red lips; I was ready to hit up the town. We were told we had to try The Taco Co., but they sadly were closed for the night so we ended up at Taco Mamacita and were not at all disappointed. The margaritas were good, the fresh salsa and tacos…my mouth is watering right now. Greg had heard of this free (what we thought would be low-key) concert downtown that we wanted to check out and then head to the bars…. boy were we wrong. We walked into this lawn covered with 5,000 of our closest (and drunkest) friends, listening to unknown artists trying to make it in Nashville. The atmosphere was insane, the smells were disgusting, people touching you was the worst, and yet I am so happy we went. It really felt like we stepped out of our comfort zone and embraced the chaos.

Friday morning we woke up early to go to a breakfast restaurant I had heard about from another blogger that was her ‘must eat.’ We drive up to this little part of the city, filled with boutiques and small restaurants completely untouched by tourists. We were total locals 😉 The reason we went to Biscuit Love? One word: Bonuts…. That’s right. Homemade biscuit donuts; oh.em.gee.

I now understand why this was a must, and trust me, I agree. Also, how stinking cute is that wall? Ignore the people, I had to show you all!

From there we went to Belle Meade which we accidentally snuck into. We were unaware that the path we followed would take us to the back of the mansion, but we might not have hated it…oops. In our defense there was a side house we wanted to go see and no gates or barriers. We were just suddenly on the plantation. Since we were still out of the city we drove to see the iconic Blue Bird.

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If you have heard of the TV show Nashville you are very familiar with this local bar. If you aren’t familiar with it, you might have heard of the country singer, Taylor Swift, otherwise known as my husband’s biggest crush? This was the bar she was ‘found’ in. Because it was a bar and in the middle of the day it was closed but just being outside was incredible. There is a sign above the door that states ‘The best songwriters in the world pass through this door.’ Just knowing artists walk in there every night hoping to sing in front of some of the biggest agents and maybe someday catch their big break.. that was pretty dang cool.

Insert traffic. Driving anywhere close to downtown will add traffic to your day. It doesn’t matter what time, it doesn’t matter what direction, you will be going under the speed limit into the city. We parked and headed to the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum which in and of itself was incredibly neat. Seeing outfits worn by celebrities, Elvis’ car, and Greg even saw one of Taylor’s microphones! Then we decided to walk… in the heat, in a town we didn’t know, to the next restaurant I had heard about, Hattie B’s. We turned the corner at 12:05 and the line was already around the corner. So after walking over a mile, we stood in line, in the sun/heat for over an hour for this chicken. And oh man, I would do it all over again. This place is a super tiny, hole-in-the-wall joint with amazing hot chicken. Trust me, Nashville knows it’s comfort food.

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I was hoping to go down to the famers market and go to Jeni’s Ice Cream but we ran out of time, besides after a day of walking around town, we were both in desperate need of a shower. As I mentioned before, we came to town for Greg to be in a wedding and this was the rehearsal dinner night. All day Saturday was filled with him doing the groomsman things and me just hanging out around the hotel/pool.

Before leaving Sunday my best friend (who would live in this city if she could) told me there was one more thing I just had to do….Grand Ole Opry. We took a backstage tour, which I would for sure recommend. You see a totally different side of this miracle place that you wouldn’t be able to see during a show. Besides at the end you go on stage and stand on ‘the wood circle’ which is such an iconic piece of wood originally from the old Grand Ole Opry location, restored after the flood and still refurbished for all singers to stand on.

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The air in this space is different; it is special. Hard to convey but you know you are in the same location as incredible people… you can just feel something different being there. It is almost unbelievable.

We walked, we ate, we stood in the same place as many famous people; we loved this town! Can not wait to go back!

Where Do All the People Go?!

Frick! Finding friends is hard!!!

So we’re not ‘bar’ people, we are still looking for a church to plug into, we don’t have kids to talk to other parents about, and our dog only attracts so many people.

HOW THE HECK DO WE MAKE FRIENDS?!

Not rhetorical, totally asking.

We are having a hard time making friends down here. My lovely husband even signed us up for a softball league. Let me tell ya it isn’t the easiest making friends with people you look uncoordinated in front of once a week…

On a quick side note, I am now known by my neighbors as the ‘girl who either runs or walks her dog on her lunch break’ and I have to say I find comfort in that. At least I’m known as something more than ‘one half of the couple.’

😉

Game, no…Life Changer

For those of you who haven’t read the ‘5 Love Languages’ book by Gary Chapman, let me help you out: you can purchase it here. This book has been an absolute game-changer for not just me and Greg in our marriage but also with me and all of my closest friends and families.

To summarize the book in my own words, everyone feels loved in 5 different categories:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Physical Touch
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Quality Time

The way that you are loved is often the way you choose to show love, which makes sense because that is how you feel the most honored. The problem? The person you are trying to love might not feel loved in the same way. MIND. BLOWN. When I tell Greg how appreciated he is, or how proud of him I am, he doesn’t necessarily feel loved. I on the other hand, can get a hand written letter and absolutely melt into a pile of mush on the floor. A quick kiss after a long day might be enough for me, yet for Greg he feels loved by me hugging him, holding his hand, physical touch.

This is incredibly important. The way you love those around you is what strengthens your relationship, grows you, changes you, makes you more like Christ. You might be spending all of your time and energy on loving them the way you feel loved and they might not be feeling it. Not only are you making them feel completely unimportant, you are upset because they aren’t getting it. Guys, listen, this is important. It is also not just something you can forget. Once you read it, it sticks with you.

So what do you do? You keep trying. You keep learning. We change, and then we get to start the process all over again. Greg and I are still trying to figure out how to make the other feel special. Greg is still learning what he could get me for my birthday to make me feel loved. Yes, this is hard and we still argue over it, but we never claimed to be masters.

Last but not least, for those of you not currently married, Gary has written a Love Languages book for singles. While I haven’t read it, I have heard nothing but great things. As I stated earlier, my family and I have talked about this, as well as close friends.

This isn’t ‘just another marriage thing’.

Trust me.

Birthdays and Such

Back in July I made myself a resolution to love others better, and here I am in August, less than 4 weeks later…failing. Miserably. For all of the backing I thought I had, the encouragement I gave myself, the strides I started taking, I found myself face first in a ditch wanting to quit. All in one day. All on my birthday.

I’d been investing in others, deepening relationships, reaching out and encouraging friends and on the one day I was slightly hoping to see fruit from  my efforts, I was left in the dust. And listen, please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I am not saying that I expected the whole world to stop because it was my birthday, or for everyone that I ever have spoken to bow down at my feet. I am not the ‘it’s my party I can cry if I want to’ type of girl…. but I did think that all of my efforts would result in a little bit more on the one day it would make sense to be celebrated.

My sweet husband attempted a small get together and it fell apart in front of our eyes. Friends who love me and care about me, who say they miss me, those who said they would be there; they didn’t show up. Even though we made the drive to make it easier for everyone else, picked a middle place that everyone (families or not) could enjoy, prayed for (and received) great weather and a free location. The truth came out, I wasn’t enough for others to want to see. How did I suddenly become the person who doesn’t have friends? How did I suddenly become the one who isn’t well liked? In spite of all this, still to be left blindsided. I was embarrassed. Oh guys, I was so embarrassed. I was instantly swallowed up with self-loathing. I had convinced myself and Greg, too, that this would be a great day, only to find ourselves shaking our heads on the long drive home. His efforts were suddenly void and I was ashamed to be his wife; the wife who thought she had left a life full of friends only to come back to nothing. So now while I still had absolutely nothing in Georgetown, it was blatantly clear I had nothing left for me in Cincinnati either.

I was instantly taken back to elementary school, being picked last for basketball; except this time I didn’t get to be the cool teacher-selected line leader who brought in homemade cupcakes and was suddenly friends with the whole class. I was just the now 28 year old, standing in the park watching my watch tick by wondering if those who said they would show were soon to be walking around the corner.

We were 15 miles into our trip toward home when the tears stopped and it clicked: I was going to clam up. I was mad and hurt and I wanted to cuss at everything. I determined then to spend my days talking to the very few friends I did have and close family members. Beyond that, I wouldn’t care about much else.

And then I remembered my resolution.

My goal in making the resolution had nothing to do with anyone else, nothing to do with their actions (or non actions) towards me, their thoughts about me. It had EVERYTHING to do with me, with how I feel, how I live, how I love. I have to do all these things in spite of my own feelings.

I want to love even when I am feeling especially unloved.

I want to respect in the face of disrespect.

I want to honor others even when their actions are dishonoring toward me.

I continue to choose to fight against my own selfish feelings. I am choosing to continue to invest in the friendships I have without the pain but with forgiveness. I am choosing to express my gratitude for those who didn’t in fact leave me alone (because yes there were some that showed and I couldn’t thank them enough; not then, not now, but I will keep trying).

I want to continue striving to live well, especially through the pain.I want to love better, too, because I know the painful truth: I don’t always love like I should. I fail. I fall short. But…I don’t want to live a life full of grudges or surface friendships because I am too scared to let anyone in for the risk of feeling pain. I also want to live in this moment, remember how it felt to be shoulder shaking crying in my husbands arms, to try my absolute hardest to make sure others don’t feel the same way because of me.

Best resource I have found to love well? Stay tuned, readers.

Day in the Life

I recently had someone close to me flat out ask ‘so what do you do everyday?’ While the question took me off guard, it also made me realize it is a valid point. For those of you to whom I don’t speak on a daily basis, or those of you who just read along with this blog, I thought I would fill you in (in case you were wondering, too!).

Mornings: My mornings are started by waking up when Greg gets up. He makes himself breakfast and gets ready for work and I pack his lunch. We say goodbye and I start my day off right, with coffee of course. I usually change into something comfortable and after having a few sips of liquid gold, Moose and I head out for a quick walk or sometimes a short run around the neighborhood. We come home, I fix myself something to eat, refill my cup and have my quiet time. (One of the greatest things about this season of life is my ability to set aside as much time as I want to get to know my Heavenly Father. I am learning and growing and yearning for His word now more than ever before. Above everything else that makes this season joyful.) Then I really start ‘my day’. If there are any errands I need to run or places I need to go, I will choose to do it in the morning. I also prefer to have my meals planned out so I can start getting any meat taken from the freezer and thawed before it’s too late. Some of you might not know, but I also work for my parents Kona franchise. It doesn’t take up a ton of time but it is something. So if I have any work, I usually do that in the late morning. Before I know it, it’s lunch.

Afternoons: Post-lunch is usually when I start on any laundry that needs to be done. I have found it best for me personally to do it right about this time, so that I can have it washed/dried and ready to be folded around the time that Greg comes home, but more on that later. I turn on the computer and job search (yep, I’m still searching) for as long as my head and heart can handle it. This is also when I choose to check something off my ‘to-do’ list. Yes, every  Saturday/Sunday I make myself a list of items that I want to get done the upcoming week. Things like unloading more boxes, researching DIY projects for the house, actually starting to paint rooms, landscaping projects, dusting, even washing the windows. All things that I know I wouldn’t get done because they get pushed aside. Sometimes I do one, maybe two a day… other times I don’t get to the list at all, and just try again tomorrow. Afternoons are also when I sweep the house, clean the bathrooms, that sort of fun. Oh yeah, sometimes I even shower 🙂

Evenings: By the time Greg sends me a text telling me that he is packing up to head home I am starting to unwind. The TV might have been turned on as I’m working around the house, I might have stopped completely and started reading a book I checked out from the virtual library, or even started to prep dinner. Remember the laundry that needed to be folded? This is being done now; that way when he gets home and is de-briefing me about his day, I am just finishing it up in time for him to put everything away. From there we sometimes hit the gym together, eat dinner, watch a Parks and Recreation (our show right now) episode, complete something around the house that I needed his help with, take Moose for his nightly stroll, and our day is complete.

My life right now looks completely opposite from what it used to when I had an 8-5 job, and I have to fight feeling guilty about that even though most of my days are filled with productive things. But right now, this is the way my life and my days are meant to look.

I’m learning to be okay with that because well… it is a day in my life.

((To Be)) Follow up

Greg is in a wedding soon and while I can not wait to see these friends get married, I’m also just a little bit over the moon with the fact the wedding is in Nashville! We have never been before, so we’re taking off a day early to hit the town before his groomsman duties begin!

After a little bit of Pinterest/blogging research, I’ve filled up a schedule for us, but I’m still scared we’ll miss something! So if you have been/are there and want to add your favorite places onto our list, I would be incredibly grateful!

I will be sure to post about our experience after we get back!

*Update*

Do you remember my Starbucks post from a few weeks back? I am happy to announce I have expanded my horizon and tried a few new drinks. My findings:

  • Midnight Mint Mocha Frappuccino– sadly this was a disappointment. While I love dark chocolate, mint, and coffee…. this just wasn’t the correct mix. I love sweet and even for me this was too sweet. It had the fake mint flavor and not enough coffee. True story, I actually went home and made myself another cup of coffee. While I am not upset that I did try it, I am not going to purchase it again before it leaves for the summer.
  • Coconutmilk Mocha Macchiato– my mom tried this while I was in Florida and I had a sip, it was delightful, I will for sure be ordering it again.