Finally Friday.

You can preach a better sermon with your life than with your lips.

It’s still the start of the year, so the majority of these articles are still applicable. I had planned to post this last Friday, but got caught up in the ways of Whole 30 and decided to postpone a week.

This week was pretty good — not too crazy, but I still had enough going on that I didn’t feel like a bum. Know what I mean? We went to a Nuggets game on Tuesday night and have officially finished season 3 of White Collar on Netflix (have you seen it? I can’t stop). Other than that I’ve been cranking out innumerable Whole 30 meals and re-started a hopeful 2014 yoga practice. If I could hit 1 time per week (on average) this year, I’d be happy.

I, also, in full new years resolution gusto bought a Groupon for 1 month of unlimited visits to our local CrossFit gym. I’m simultaneously scared and excited. I’ve had friends that love it and I’m secretly hoping that I do too.

This weekend we’re having dinner with friends followed by a showing of Saving Mr Banks (have you seen it, what did you think?). Then we’re taking it easy and having a family dinner during the Broncos game on Sunday. Low key and just what I need. Christian’s going to another Nuggets game on Saturday, and during that time I’m hoping to paint my nails, meal plan and watch the something girly on TV. Wish me luck! Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Here are my finds from around the interwebs:

I’m a bit of a vision board junkie, or at least I have been the past couple of years. With the advent of Pinterest, it’s made it that much prettier and that much more addictive. However, I always dread putting them together in photoshop… that’s why this tutorial on creating a fast and easy vision board caught my eye. Do it, I did… and I promise that you’ll love it.

Since I’m in the midst of the Whole 30, this list of Whole 30 approved recipes really caught my eye. There are some delicious looking meals on there and one or two of them might end up on my meal plan for next week.

Did you make some resolutions for 2013? Big ones? Small ones? Somewhere in between? Either way, here is a list of fifty “bite-sized” resolutions for the new year. Some of these are so simple you could easily add them into your daily routine.

I think that sometime around your mid-20’s and up you start to realize that all those things you were waiting to make you happy — won’t actually make you happy. Kids – marriage – house – car – savings account…. they’re all nice, but life doesn’t begin at your next milestone.

Purging all the needless crap in my house makes me so happy. I love it and could spend countless hours each week weeding through drawers, closets and boxes looking for things to trash/give away. This article was full of great things you could donate or toss — 21 things you should get rid of today!

Each of these rules was so great that I want to print it out and hang it up so that I can see and review it every day. If nothing else, these 24 rules for being human are a great read through.

And, lastly, to stick with the theme — new year, new start. Here are 15 great ideas to give you a fresh start for this year… even if I’m a week late in posting them! 🙂

Happy Friday to all, and to all a goodnight!

Whole 30: Week 2 Meal Planning.

Does it count as week two if you’re only 4 days deep into the program? I had a bit of internal debate about this and decided, what the hell. Normal people might run it on a Thursday to Thursday schedule to keep up with when they started, but since my shopping/life revolve around a Sunday to Sunday schedule I’m changing it all up — call my crazy.

Here’s what I have planned for Whole 30 this week in the food department:

Whole 30 - Week 2 Meal Planning - Lifeloveandgarlic.com
In order to prepare, I spent several hours prepping food tonight and here’s what I have in the pre-prepped  arsenal for this week:

Butternut squash soup
Egg Bake with peppers, onions and bacon
Six baked chicken breasts
Paleo mayo
Roasted broccoli
Chicken Salad with almonds and celery

During that time I, also, prepped the slow cooker chicken w/gravy and packed up lettuce for lunches.  Should be a pretty varied week food wise — here’s to week 2 of the Whole 30. Wish me luck!

Whole 30.

Whole 30 Logo

It’s no secret that I’ve been playing around with my diet over the past year — most recently giving up gluten, dairy and sugar. I did really well and responded really well to that diet and for the new year decided to take it one step further and give the Whole 30 a spin. Whole 30 is essentially a cleaner (I know, how much more strict can you get?) version of what I was already doing. The big “no-no” highlights for me were: no beans, no rice (or any grains for that matter), no honey, no alcohol, no corn, no peanut butter, no paleo-ified desserts etc.

Let me tell you — unless you’re getting it directly from the produce department or the meat counter (both of which have their own set of recommendations) it’s going to take some research. Lucky for me, I’m already pretty familiar with these limitations and don’t feel particularly cornered as far as what I eat.

I thought I might, semi-track, my version of the Whole 30 for two reasons:

1.) To remember what I ate and how it went.

2.) To attempt to track something for the blog – of which I’m absolutely horrible at doing.

So, we’ll see how this goes – I’m not promising anything.

I started yesterday, so in true Megan fashion, this post is coming to you a day late and completely devoid of photos. Mostly because I forgot to take them. [disclaimer: I have the ability to take pretty decent food photos, but since I’ll be sharing meals that I may or may not have packed in a jumbled Tupperware, don’t expect anything award-winning ;-)]

Here’s my meal plan breakdown for Thursday – Saturday:

Thursday:
Breakfast: Boiled Egg
Lunch: Canned green beans + Can of tuna (aren’t you glad I didn’t photograph this?)
Dinner: Chicken breast cooked in avocado oil with garlic and shaved brussel sprout salad with balsamic dressing

Friday:
Breakfast: Handful of almonds (only because I left my egg at home by accident)
Lunch: Chicken + Brussel Sprout leftovers
Dinner: Out to dinner — will order a salad, no dressing

Saturday:
Breakfast: Boiled Egg
Lunch: Out to Lunch with a friend
Dinner: Crockpot chicken tomato soup

In between I’ve been snacking on nuts or apples if I’m hungry. I’ve also been drinking green tea and other herbal teas at night. I’ll be back on Sunday to cover my meal plan for the upcoming week. Hopefully I’ll actually take some pictures moving forward.

If you’re interested in trying out the Whole 30, here’s some information (and key posts) to get you started:

What is the Whole 30?

Whole 30 Shopping List

The official Can I Have Post

Pantry Stocking PDF

Meal Planning PDF

I, also, want to note that you don’t have to pay to do the Whole 30 — the majority of the information is online for free. You can, of course, by their book or opt into some of the paid additions, but it is absolutely not necessary. There aren’t any supplements you need to take, you’ll simply be spending money on the food you eat. 

Finally Friday.

My homemade gingerbread cookies

Well, hello there.

Did you notice that it’s December 20 — which means only 5 days until Christmas. Or, if you’re my family… 4, since we celebrate on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day?

Growing up I was always worried about how Christmas would work once I got married. My family, being just the 4 of us in Colorado, developed our own set of Christmas Day traditions and giving them up when I got married wasn’t something I was real excited about. Luckily for me, Christian’s family had always celebrate on Christmas Eve… meaning I didn’t have to give anything up. Truly the best of both worlds.

My world has been all over the place this month. I started out in Iowa for my Great Uncle’s 90th birthday and have since returned and attended a slew of holiday parties/comedy works laugh fests/dinner with friends and still have a packed weekend ahead. Let me lay it out for you… I’ve got another holiday party, a showing of the Nutcracker, a dinner, lunch downtown with family and a Nuggets game. All packed into 4 little ‘ol days. Holiday hustle and bustle? I’m your girl.

I hope that this coming weekend is packed with hot chocolate, gingerbread cookies and as many twinkle lights as you can possibly tolerate. In the mean time, here are my finds from around the interwebs:

As you may well know, I’ve already developed my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe… but after reading this post on the science behind the cookie (and that he went through 32 lbs. of flour and 1,500 test cookies to get to the perfect one), I’m just the tiniest bit interested in tooling around with my recipe just to see what happens.

Back in my dating days, I used to think about writing a blog about all the mishaps, the weirdos and the flat up ridiculous stories that resulted from my dating escapades. Turns out, I didn’t have to because Amber is doing just that… only better.

I feel really overwhelmed when I look at my calendar. I see my days in hour-long increments overflowing with things to do. That’s why I really appreciated this post on not being over-committed and overwhelmed. Now if only I could take the advice and apply it successfully.

The holidays bring out the best in people — but it also bring out a lot of discussion on religion, the role of Santa and a lot of other stuff I don’t really want to get into. This post on Santa (and Jesus) and the way Christian’s relate to and ultimately use Santa was really interesting to me.

Are you looking for some good circuit workout ideas to help negate your overload of cookie consumption? Here’s a great round-up of 50 different circuit workouts. There’s bound to be at least one in there for everyone. I, personally, have many of them tagged and added to Pinterest boards for New Year inspiration.

Ever feel like everyone around you was given an instruction book on life and you’re left wondering what the hell to do and/or how to pull it all off? Turns out, everyone feels like that and nobody was given a guidebook to life — even those people who make it seem like they came out of the womb 10 steps ahead of everyone else.

P.S. Have you seen these t-shirts? I’m thinking I may need to purchase one.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving

I recently saw a post that broke down each year of your 20’s from best to worst. It ranked 26 as the year you figure out your own mortality and become vividly aware that you are going to die one day.

While this was certainly true for my 26th year, it was also the year that I really focused on what I was thankful for. Each day, even the days where I cried in frustration or the great days where I laughed until I cried, I tried to find things that were worth feeling grateful over. And, guess what? It wasn’t hard. 

Turns out life is pretty good, even on the bad days. 

As I read, again and again, the gratitude posts on Facebook I became a little de-sensitized. By the end of November (and arrival of Thanksgiving) most people are past thanking their family or friends and onto being thankful for whipped cream or stretchy pants. It’s funny, but I want to dig deeper. I want to know deeper. 

I wanted to say: No, tell me what you’re thankful for right this minute — what’s hovering deep in your soul? 

::Is it the way your spouse forgives you – time and time again – after you ugly cry about something ridiculous {and probably hormonal}?
::Is it the way your sister knows just when to call when you need a good laugh (or vent session)? 
::Is it that you’ve finally found a community when you’ve searched for what feels like forever? 
::Is it that you’re just so happy to have each and every family member in your life [crazy, kind, thoughtful, witty, ridiculous or frustrating] because you can’t imagine (nor would you want to) a life without any of them? 
::Is it that you’re finally coming into your skin and feel more like “yourself” than you can ever remember? 
::Is it that you finally dumped a self-destructive habit that’s been lording over you — hiding in your shadows? 

It doesn’t have to be one of these, but it’s something. Those are things for me. Those are things that I’m so very grateful for this year. I can’t even imagine writing it all out because it would be miles long and by the end, maybe, it would even include whipped cream. 

As I enter this Thanksgiving holiday I want to continue to be thankful and make sure that my 27th year is full of thankfulness as well. I also want you to know that thankful for you — even if I don’t know you or if you’re my Mom reading this from a few miles away. I’m thankful for so much and am lucky to have so much to be thankful for, the never-ending cycle. 

Here’s to hoping that your day is full of thanks, joy, love and some darn good turkey. Happy Thanksgiving. 

 

*Photo Credit: Romain Briaux

This is me.

This is me. In all my glory.

I’m…

I’m sensitive. I’m a crier. I get frustrated easily. When I drink even a single glass of wine, I turn red, talk a little too much and can make any one my best friend.

I’m hilarious… I could tell you any multitude of stories that would have you laughing until you pee your pants. I’m also shy about sharing said stories.

I’m self-conscious and awkward when it comes to small talk. I care what you think, but desperately wish I didn’t. I hate being front-stage and center, but like to be appreciated for the things I do.

I’m scared I won’t be able to have children and that it will make me feel incapable of the things I was born to do.

For now, my dogs are my children and if you don’t like them, I take it personally. I also dress them in shirts. This is one instance where I don’t care what you think.

I get jealous but am working hard to release it.

I’m a great cook — bolognese sauce, fajitas, lemon raspberry cupcakes with graham cracker crusts, chocolate chip cookies, tenderloin sandwiches and pulled pork. I’m your girl.

Sometimes I laugh at the wrong time and smile when it’s totally inappropriate.

I’m not scared of hard work, but I hate monotony and tedious, repetitive details.

I believe in Jesus with my whole heart, but I also believe in self-love and the universe… and I don’t know how to reconcile that.

I want close girlfriends, but I have a hard time letting go of the past and putting in effort to move forward. Going all in scares me.

I hate olives, raw tomatoes, mushrooms and any type of organ meat. Someday, maybe, that won’t be the case, but for today it is what it is.

It took me two years to have the heart to decorate my home. If that says anything about the state of my life and emotions during that time… it’s that I was overwhelmed and having a hard time adjusting.

I’ve made more mistakes than I’m proud of, more than I’m willing to put on the Internet.

At 27, I just got my nose pierced. Sometimes I consider getting a tattoo.

My political views are more liberal than conservative which is in complete conflict with most of my religious views — this is why I’ve never, ever, ever claim to have it all together.

Sometimes the world feels too big, bad and evil that it’s hard to consider that it will keep existing even another day — it’s suffocating and if I think about it too much it will consume me.

I feel your pain — most literally. I’m extremely empathetic and while I may not have the words to tell you — my heart is hurting (or rejoicing) right along with you.

I’ve got a really wacky sense of humor and if you read all the messages on my phone… you would probably be concerned.

I hate having to go to the bathroom, it feels like a total waste of time.

I have an unhealthy relationship with food. There I said it.

I self-sabotage all the time. I am capable, smart, talented and full of potential… but I stop myself before I start almost every time.

I have an over-active guilt complex that leaves me second guessing, replaying and feeling bad for things that didn’t and don’t matter.

I’m responsible, kind, thoughtful and caring. I try my best and know that God is in control. I’m imperfect, I’m broken but I’m also living a life that I hope makes a difference. I’m trying to be vulnerable and authentic in hopes that it allows others to break the mold and let it out.

So tell me. I’m me – who are you?

Finally Friday.

Believe In Yourself

Well hello there Friday. It’s so nice to see you.

There isn’t really much to report about this week — I made several, end-of-year, doctors appointments (hello eye doctor and dermatologist), got in some yoga, ate really well and reveled in watching a few shows this week. Pretty status quo. The only change is the fact that I’m surrounded by sickies (the husband, the co-workers, the EVERYONE) and I’ve upped my Immunoshield and Amla-C intake to hopefully get ahead of it and avoid it all together.

This weekend is going to be great. I’m heading to Fort Collins tonight with my friend Jacqui for a little walk down memory lane. We’re having dinner at Austin’s where we had our first friend date way back when, then hitting up all the old favorites from our college days (La Luz, Lucille’s Campus etc.)… then she’s heading back down with me Saturday for some yoga and wine drinking. It should be fabulous.

Sunday Christian and I may have to rake our yard. We have one, beautiful tree that’s refusing to drop it’s leaves… since I only want to do the raking once — it’s delaying us. Also, how is it half way through November — what the heck?

Here are my favorite finds from around the interwebs this week:

This article is resurfacing from a few years ago. In essence, the writer talks about how she didn’t make her husband “trying to leave” about herself and how it ended up saving their marriage. It’s a hard read for those that can imagine what that would be like — but her strength and outlook is pretty refreshing.

I’ve found that the more I experiment with new recipes, the less bored/restricted I feel with my fairly limited diet. This post on what you need for asian cooking was great because I always seem to have “some” of the ingredients, but never all of them.

Each week I seriously consider calling someone to help clean my house. It’s not a big house but Christian and I are barely home during the week and it seems (especially this time of year) that the weekends are jam-packed too. Maybe if I followed this “clean your house in 20 minutes a day” business it would actually get done.

This article really hit me in the heart. There are so many posts out there about dumping “toxic” friends and releasing friendships that are no longer serving you, but this one on whether you should really break up with a friend was a genius, and important perspective to consider. All I can say is: yes, yes, yes.

I’ve now made this recipe two times in the past week — both times to share: Marbled Banana Chocolate Mini Cakes. Whether you’re paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free etc. or not. These will rock your socks off.

Have you seen this map drawn by an Australian who has never been to the U.S. — the “texas” part cracked me up.

And, lastly — to continue on my food obsessed train — is an article about 10 foods in the US that are banned elsewhere. I read the entire thing with a big grain of salt, but nonetheless it provides some good food for thought.

Have a great weekend!

November Favorite Buys.

In the past couple months, I’ve come across a few things that make my day just a little brighter each time I use them and I thought I’d share. Here’s what I’ve been loving this month!

November Favorites - Lifeloveandgarlic.com

1.) This Yes To Tomatoes Spot Stick is wonderful. I roll it on my “trouble” areas (re: breakouts) after I wash my face each night, and I’ve actually seen some pretty decent results!

2.) I’ve been using a sleep mask for the past couple months. Originally it was just one of the free eye masks I received on a red-eye, Jet Blue flight, but the elastic started to wear out. To replace it, I bought this Bucky Blinks eye mask (they have several great patterns) that has little divets over your eyes that allow you to blink instead of pressing your lids shut.

3.) This mug is my favorite. I make a mug of green tea each day before heading out the door and when I open the cabinet to find this Contigo coffee mug clean I get a little jolt of joy! It keeps my tea warm, doesn’t spill and is pretty attractive (as far as coffee cups go). They sell them at Costco as well as online!

4.) Our upstairs closet was a mess of random photos, cards from our wedding and other “keepsake” stuff all haphazardly thrown on the shelves to be dealt with later. Well, “later” happened a couple of weeks ago when I bought these great boxes from Ikea and spent a Sunday night sorting, trashing and organizing the chaos. I love them.

5.) For the longest time, my sister had this Naked eye shadow palette, and I would take any (and every) opportunity to use it. So many options! She gave me one of my very own last spring and I love it. Great for a night out, a quick swipe of color before work or for playing around on the weekends. It’s a little pricey, but from what I can tell… it lasts forever.

Finally Friday.

Ollie on Halloween

(because how cute is this little Ollie dog in his hot dog Halloween costume?)

It looks like October was a blur… mostly because it was. A great, vivid blur. Now, we’re into November and if I didn’t know that I was completely off base, I would declare that yesterday was Monday. Clearly, time is just flying by. 

This week was a good one, albeit a speedy one. There was yoga, some time spent with Jillian Michaels yelling at me from the TV, a Nuggets game and a most delicious dinner of short ribs. I, also, managed to finish all the Orange Is The New Black episodes on Netflix and am now anxiously anticipating the next season. Seriously… I need to know what happens. Anyone else on the OITNB bandwagon?

This is, hopefully, going to be one of the more low-key weekends we’ve had in several weeks. We’ve got plans to see the new Thor movie, spend the evening with friends from our marriage class doing Dinners For 8 (or in our case, 6) and then help my Mom with raking all the leaves in her enormous backyard on Sunday. I may, or may not try to sneak in some nephew snuggles as well. I’ve been missing those chubby, drooly little cheeks.

Here are my finds from around the interwebs this week lately-ish:

If I read a recipe with the words “crock pot” or “slow cooker” in the title — I *have* to click on it. Anything that makes my life and nights easier is a complete win in my book. This recipe for chili verde chicken is totally going on the menu plan for next week.

I’ve written about friendship before, both the good and the bad… and about how hard it is to make friends as an adult. No matter what phase you’re in… these things real friends do for you was great! And, I totally agree… tell me if I have spinach (or corn chips) in my teeth, check on me after the statute of limitations has passed, show up early to parties (to help!) and tell me if I’m acting shady (or if others are). What do you think?  — also, loved this post on friendship truths.

Each Sunday morning I have a little debate in my head about whether or not I want to get up for church. I inevitably do pry myself from bed… but it’s not easy — I’ve never claimed to be a morning person. This post on replacing Sunday mornings struck a chord with me… especially how I felt in my early 20’s. Just like the author, I too am finding my way back.

This girl hit the nail on the head. She nails what it can sometimes be like to be a girl, a woman, a mom. And the habits that we, sometimes, unwillingly inherit.

Finding people who are authentically themselves and are willing to share their day-to-day realities is rare. We’re all guarded and boarded up in some way or another. Reading this post and watching these videos that Jacob Sokol posted after his article went viral on the Huffington Post was both inspirational and refreshing. There’s always so much more that goes on behind closed doors.

Cookies are delicious. So are cupcakes, scotcheroos, milkshakes and slices of key lime pie. Sugar is delicious and toxic in high doses. This post on sugar, fructose and replacements really lays it all out there – turns out she wasn’t wrong about sugar.

I’m such a sucker for a good love story. Sarah Ann Noel’s post on her 5 year anniversary and then the link to she and her husband’s love story sucked me in. I read every, single word and then cheered them on from my desk chair. If you like love, marriage and all that great mushy stuff — read it. You won’t regret it.

And, lastly… in case you’re a sucker for birth stories (re: baby fever) like I am, Emily’s birth story from Daily Garnish was just perfect! I’ve read her blog for several years and love following along with her sweet family. As a bonus, she has great recipes, too!