#FruitfulMondays: How I set the pace for my week

Ok, here we are. End of October. By my count, there are 70 days left in 2017, which means we’ve barely made a dent in the #last90days Challenge. In case you’re out of the loop, this challenge is meant set you on an upward trajectory for 2018 by helping you to establish the habits you need. (It’s not too late to sign up)! I outlined my intended habits in this Insta post ⬇⬇⬇

Front porch sitting and reflecting on my #last90days goals. I'm using this time to refine habits that I've dabbled in, setting the lifestyle that I want to maintain for all of 2018 and to infinity and beyond. . . . 1. Publish one blog post each week. (Keep me accountable, please!) 👌🏼 . 2. Only drink alcohol in social situations, like book club or date night. Not alone in bed with my book. 😇 . 3. Eat grains at only one meal each day. (I'll eat more vegetables AND this will help me control my 3 PM stress-snacking.) #dailygrain . 4. Exercise daily 🏃🏻‍♀️💃🏻🚴🏻‍♀️ . 5. Speak kindly to my husband❣️In times of stress (hello, holiday season), I snap at G over little, meaningless things. 🙈 No. More. . . . What are your goals for #last90days?

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So how are my goals going?

  1. I have published a blog post each week, including this one (which is posting while I return from 😍honeymooning😍).
  2. Success! The bottles in our liquor cabinet are collecting dust.
  3. I have been about 75% successful at eating grains only once each day. Which is pretty damn good, I think. Basically, I’m encouraging myself to go for veggies and protein before I reach for a popcorn/pretzel/leftover plain pasta.
  4. Besides one on-purpose rest day, I have kept this up! Each week, I’ve been zumba-ing once or twice, going on runs with Grant, and spinning. I can definitely tell a difference in my energy levels during the day: I’m staying more alert with less coffee, but I fall asleep HARD come 9:30 p.m.
  5. I’m working my hardest to take deep breaths, speak calmly and honestly, and be affectionate instead of snappy. Is it working? You can ask my husband 😌.

One realization I’ve come to while doing this challenge is that Mondays set the tone for the entire week. In the past, I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of thinking that Mondays are like a post-weekend warmup day. Yes, I’ve got to get stuff done, but I should ease myself into the week. This is b.s.

Come Monday, I should be exercising harder, making time for my husband, snacking smarter, and getting up early to write. I’ve been aware of the fitness mantra “Never miss a Monday” for a while, but I’m using it now to frame my whole week: never miss a Monday for any healthy habit.

Having a fruitful Monday means that you’re on track for a “perfect” week. You won’t want to ruin your good efforts with 10:30 a.m. Cheetos on Tuesday after you stuck to raw almonds Monday morning. Springing out of bed for a still-dark-outside run will be easier if you’re adding on to the efforts you made Monday.

*HUGE, MONSTER CAVEAT* “Perfect” is in quotes up there because it should be taken with an enormous grain of salt. Perfect isn’t an achievable standard. Stuff is going to come up, you’re going to get stuck in traffic and miss that 6 p.m. spin class, and there will be a baby shower at work the same day you’re abstaining from sugar. Shit happens. That doesn’t mean that you (1) give into temptation, or (2) beat yourself up if you do succumb. Failing to meet one goal is too often an excuse to shelve the other goals and start over again on Monday. This version of “Never miss a Monday” is NOT THAT. *OKAY CAVEAT OVER BYE*

If you live your Monday like your ideal day, it makes it that much easier for each and every day to be an ideal day. Jump out of bed when your alarm goes off, sip your coffee while you write in your gratitude journal, give it your all at the gym, make that protein smoothie when you really want waffles, and on and on.

Live your Monday the way you want to live the rest of your week. For me, this means checking all the Five to Thrive boxes ⬇⬇⬇ and sticking to the schedule and to-do list I set for myself. I should earn that downtime in the evening.

Courtesy of the Chic Site and its #last90days challenge
I make sure to meet all five goals above and prioritize the goals below. There’s some overlap, and that’s on purpose. Those goals are just extra-important.

Get up on time. Oversleeping on a Monday is the worst thing I can do for my week. If I rush into work and leave no “me” time in the morning, I will be a cranky ass, guaranteed. If I miss my Monday morning workout and know all day long that I’m going to have to exercise after sitting in traffic for an hour after work… let’s just say the rest of my day pays dearly for that realization. Waking up at an ungodly hour and allowing myself time to read, write, and exercise before I clock in makes me a better person. This is not hyperbole, as I’m sure my coworkers, friends, and family can attest.

Eat healthfully. To me, this means prioritizing vegetables and protein. Listen, I love food. Love it. By Friday, my beloved cucumbers and hummus taste like nothing and also disgusting. Which is why I try my best to eat 80/20: 80% healthfully and 20% whatever I want. This leaves room for pizza and wine with my book club while also encouraging me to stick to salad and tuna more often than not.

Be PRODUCTIVE. I try to get the most dreaded task of the whole week done on Monday, or at least a huge chunk of it. If there are freelance calls I don’t want to make, or a nasty task at work I’m not looking forward to, tackling it on Monday means it’s over, and I can have a much more positive outlook for the rest of my workweek.

Notice that I said I “try” to do this. I suck at doing this consistently, but I have seen a real difference between the weeks where I make this a priority and the weeks where I don’t.

Exercise. Each and every day. Sweat, ache, breathe heavily. If I still look cute when I’m done, I didn’t go hard enough. This isn’t about being skinny. It’s about being strong and healthy, so I can outrun a zombie and keep up with my future kids.

Laying everything out the night before is my best tip (but it’s usually a pile and not a flat lay 😜).
Keep it low key. Ok, I am all about a Monday happy hour. Decompressing with friends and having that to look forward to can be a great motivator to get through the work day. But the last thing I need is to wake up with foggy wine head and dry dehydrated mouth on Tuesday morning. So I limit my drinks to two and up my water intake if I’ll be drinking.

Go to bed on time. Similarly, going into Tuesday with a sleep deficit is just punishing my tomorrow self. So, unless it is a really special occasion (which can totally be just a girls night movie), I try to be asleep by 9:30. It takes me less than 10 minutes to fall asleep because I’m so tired from all the exercising 💥


I would love for all of this not to be true. I’d love to be able to phone Monday in and treat it like extended Sunday (so I still exercise and eat healthfully, but maybe I also watch TV for five hours). But I’ve seen the way giving Mondays my all has changed my whole life. So now ✨Monday Funday✨ is my favorite day (even if I’m just telling myself that). Hey, they say seeing is believing, and I have seen the results.

What do you do to have a #FruitfulMonday?

Vegan pumpkin mac with roasted garlic

Mac and cheese is my ultimate no-brakes food. I’m not even picky: I can easily house an entire box of Kraft, but I prefer something that’s made with a little more care. I love this one, this one, and, most of all, this one.

There are several road blocks to my one true foodlove, though. First and foremost, my one true humanlove, my husband Grant, is allergic to dairy. While I’m not above waiting until he’s out of town and eating mac and cheese for every meal until he returns, he doesn’t travel without me quite enough for that solution to fill the macaroni-shaped hole in my heart.

Mac and cheese also doesn’t really fit into my regular healthy-eating plan. I’m more than willing to splurge on good-quality macaroni upon occasion, but finding a lighter solution to my craving was crucial to my continued happiness.

The answer to both of these issues is vegan macaroni and cheese. It’s just as cozy, more nutritious, and tastes similar to the real thing. I’m not trying to sell you on this recipe tasting just like your mama’s macaroni, because it doesn’t. BUT, it has a similar taste, a near-identical consistency, and the creamy mouthfeel is the same. (How gross is the word mouthfeel, btw?)

This is my riff on several vegan macs I’ve tried and loved. I added canned pumpkin for added vitamins and fiber and also for some Autumn vibes. (I almost called this Harvest Mac with Roasted Garlic, but that seemed a little too… lame?) The roasted garlic makes it super savory and yummy, and nutritional yeast brings the cheesy flavor. If you’ve never cooked with nutritional yeast (or “nooch”) before, it’s a vegan seasoning that adds a cheesy flavor to anything. I buy mine in bulk from the Hyvee Health Market, but it’s available at most health food stores and on Amazon. Top this mac with red pepper flakes and serve with something green on the side.

VEGAN PUMPKIN MAC WITH ROASTED GARLIC

Cloves from 1 head of roasted garlic (slice top off the head to expose cloves, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tinfoil, and bake at 375 for 30-45 mins, depending on size of cloves. It’s done when your kitchen smells like an Italian restaurant and the cloves are soft like butter)

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp flour

2 c cashew milk

1 c canned pumpkin

½ c nutritional yeast (more to taste)

Salt and pepper

12 oz macaroni (this amount of pasta results in a lot of sauce, perfect to stir in veggies of your choice!)

  1. Bring water to boil, prepare pasta to desired consistency. Drain and reserve when ready.
  2. Heat oil in large skillet (I use my cast iron) over medium. Once heated, sprinkle in flour slowly, whisking the whole time. This will create a paste, called a roux. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stream cashew milk in, whisking constantly to ensure no lumps (if there’s a lump or two, it’ll get blended out in a bit). Allow to bubble over medium-low heat for a few minutes, whisking near constantly, until thickened. (It should coat the back of a spoon.)
  4. Once thickened, add sauce to blender with pumpkin, all of the garlic cloves, nutritional yeast, and salt and pepper. Blend on high until very smooth.
  5. Taste for seasoning (don’t be afraid to add lots of salt and nutritional yeast. It should taste cheesy and well-salted). Add back to skillet, and allow to bubble over medium-low for 2 minutes or so.
  6. Fold in pasta, top with red pepper flakes, and enjoy!

Inspired by this recipe from Minimalist Baker, the first vegan macaroni and cheese I ever made.

For the Brussels, trim and halve Brussels sprouts, toss with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and roast at 425 for 12 minutes, stirring halfway through.

#AprilFoolsforLove: Wedding Photos!

This week, Grant and I have been married six months. It feels like the wedding was yesterday and years ago, all at once. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to share some wedding photos!

Our wedding was perfect, perfect, perfect. It was intimate and fun and just drunken enough. If you want to see 1,000,000,000 pictures, keep scrolling!

All photos by Elizabeth Thomas Photography, who I couldn’t recommend more!

WALLACE WEDDING//04.01.17

My handsome husband (he was still my boyfriend in this picture, though 💗)

The best sister and maid of honor a girl could ask for. The weirdest part of being married is honestly having a different last name than she does.

Becca’s dress is from Macy’s. Bridal suite at The Berg, our ceremony and reception venue.

Husband and wife🌟

Florals by Good Earth Floral Design

We stood on this beautiful, custom-engraved stone during our ceremony, a symbol of the foundation we built over nine (9!) years of dating.

Stone and engraving from Signs from Stone

Me, loudly laughing after “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

Writing  captions for these is hard because all I can think is 😍😍😍

I told Liz that I wanted a few far-away shots with high drama, and she DELIVERED.

It was verrrrry windy and a little cold for after-ceremony pics.

Grant is holding down my veil here so it doesn’t literally fly away.

My gown and veil are from Fabulous Frocks. Angela is great, super fun, and professional. Grant’s suit is from Macy’s. We both had alterations done at Lucia’s Sarto, which I couldn’t recommend more highly. Perfect fits and relatively inexpensive.

This club is two doors down from our wedding venue, and several guests (including my aunt 😂) insisted that I get a few photos in front of it. When we left our reception later that night, a woman (maybe a dancer, maybe a patron) called after us: “Oh, you just got MARRIED! You go, girl. When I get married, my husband is going to love me so much.” Cherry on top of an already amazing day.

Hair and makeup by Ashley Backs of Hello Lovely. Everything lasted all day and night, and my hair even lasted until the next morning. My lips are a mix of two Lipsense shades (Sheer Berry and Flygirl), and I kissed Grant multiple times (obvi) with no transfer.

Rings by Shane Co. I wore a Kate Spade love knot bracelet (so did my sister) and a pearl bracelet Grant bought me for my 21st birthday. I also wore pearl drop earrings, borrowed from my mom.

Everyone we love in one room. A truly insane feeling.

Delicious and allergen-friendly buffet by Blue Pot Catering. (I heard it was delicious. My dress was too tight to eat more than a few bites. Whoops.)

Amazing vegan cakes from Mud Pie Bakery. Vanilla with vanilla frosting, strawberry with strawberry frosting, and — the best (and the only one I tried) — chocolate with chocolate frosting. (I just realized that I have no idea which flavor is waiting for us in the deep freezer for our anniversary 😂.)

Also, shoutout to Becca for arranging the florals on the cakes. It looks professional!

Vases by Oh Joy! for Target

Photo wall, with cardstock backs by the amazing maid of honor and photo contributions by both of our moms. The magnets are map-hanging magnets from Amazon, and they can seriously hold up anything.

The dance floor was this packed the entire evening, which was incredibly fun. Thanks so much to every single one of you for boogieing with us! (Also I love this picture because my dad is smiling/laughing (top-center) and G is having a damn blast (right)).

My dad played drums with the band for one song: “Bad Case of Loving You,” by Robert Palmer. There is a family-famous video of me singing this song as a toddler, so it was very, very special to me for my dad to arrange this performance.

My mom liked it, too, I think 😍.

End of the night, surrounded by the ride-or-dies, dancing to “Love on Top,” by Bey (linked the music video not because I think you don’t know the song,  but because the music video is amazing). G is back there, but my big head is blocking him.

Our amazing band, Twice on Sunday. If you’re on the fence about booking a band for your wedding, do it. It was so fun and made the reception feel even more special. One of our guests liked them so much she booked the band for her wedding next year.

TOS played from guests arriving to the final dance, and they learned several songs at our request. They are MORE THAN WORTH the investment. (Also I am left-handed, so holding the guitar this way made me cringe, haha.)

We paid our photographer a little extra to walk the few blocks with us to the hotel. This is one of my favorite photos of the whole day. Just me and my new husband, in the city we love, laughing about nothing. Deliriously happy and tired.

Pictured here in my rehearsal dinner dress, which I changed into after the reception. It’s from the dearly departed JCrew Bridal shop.

Cheers to our wedding and cheers to our marriage! I hope each and every one of you gets a chance to feel as special and loved as we did on our wedding day.

I feel so lucky to share my life with G, who loves me steadfastly, praises me daily, and is so easy on the eyes. I can’t wait to be married to him for the rest of my life.

If there are any other wedding vendor details you’d like to know, just leave a comment.

Currently//September 2017

I’m avoiding chores like crazy right now: my kitchen needs to be cleaned, I need to swap summer clothes with winter, and I’m totally out of clean exercise clothes. But I have SO many things I want to share with all of you. If you watch my Insta stories, you’ll have heard of a few of these. I’m hunkered down in the evening with popcorn, hot tea, and my cozy robe so let’s go…

INSPIRED BY//

Like always, Ms. Rachel Hollis is inspiring the heck outta me. She’s running a 90-day challenge that starts Monday because — guess what? — there are only 90 days left in 2017. If that made you gasp, you need this challenge.

Some of her classic tough love below ⬇ (click the Play button in the left corner between the video and the caption)

It’s so easy to disregard the end of the year. It’s Halloween, and then it’s Thanksgiving, and then it’s the holidays. We’re all crazy busy with work projects and vacations and shopping and pie-making. We don’t prioritize healthy eating or workouts, we drink too much, we let family drama drag us down, and we take all that stress out on our spouse.

It doesn’t have to be this way!!!!

Rachel is challenging all of us to ramp up at the end of the year, not wind down. Maintain your healthy habits (mind, body, relationship, career), and maybe add a few more. Sign up here for the email-based challenge. I promise, it will be worth your while. Leave a comment for me if you sign up! I’m an ambassador for Rachel’s brand, so I’d love to know if you’ll be playing along.

WATCHING//

G and I have been watching the new Ken Burns documentary “The Vietnam War.” I am typically not one for war documentaries, but this is fascinating. There are interviews with American vets and their families, Vietnamese citizens, and Viet Cong. The tagline for the doc is “there is no one truth in war,” and the multi-perspective approach really helps to hit that point home. 

My close friend Lindsey coordinated a Kansas City screening with Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, the documentary directors. They spoke on a panel with a local veteran and a local historian, and it was incredibly moving. After the hour-long series of documentary clips that we watched, there literally wasn’t a dry eye in the house, including all of the tough-guy-looking vets sitting around me. Watch this! It’s streaming on PBS through next month.

READING//

Loving “Alias Grace” by Margaret Atwood (author of “The Handmaid’s Tale”!), and I can’t wait to start “The Wonder” by Emma Donoghue. I better not wait too long to start it, actually, because I have to finish it for book club next week. Whoops.

Happy Friday! Countdown to 5 PM starts… now.

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If you want to know more about what I’m reading and loving (or not finishing), follow me on Good Reads. I review every book I read, so check it out!

LISTENING//

I have been listening to the new Kesha album on repeat. It’s the best. I have so much respect for her and her honesty. She’s clearly struggling with her identity, her spirituality, and her place in the music industry, and the vulnerability in her lyrics is powerful. Also, my newlywed brain loves “Finding You.”

I’m also listening to the “Waitress” soundtrack in preparation for seeing the musical in November. I have always loved that movie, and I love Sara Bareilles (who composed the music and wrote the lyrics), so I’m really looking forward to that date night!

Finally, if you love reality TV as much as I do, you must listen to this podcast: Reality Reality with Whitney A. Whitney, who is an awesome and funny wine and booze expert, and a guest discuss reality TV and reality (sex, dating, friend drama). It is so funny, and it’s a great outlet for all of my otherwise useless reality TV knowledge. (If you ever have any Kardashians or Housewives conspiracy theories to share, hit me up in those Insta DMs.)

EATING AND DRINKING//

I’ve been starting most days with a smoothie, and my new thing is adding frozen green peas for protein. I got this idea from the lovely Christina of Dessert for Two (please disregard that this post says “for kids” in the title 😂).

Rough recipe: 1 frozen banana, ¼ c frozen cherries, ¼ c frozen green peas, 2 scoops collagen peptides, 2 tbsp peanut butter, and 1 c water. Blend on high until super-smooth. Tastes like PB&J. 

The blend of protein and fat keeps me full from 7-11, when I usually have a snack (hummus, dried edamame, wasabi almonds, or hard-boiled eggs).

What are you obsessed with this month?

Dinner drop-off: Sweet potato, coconut, and red lentil daal

I’m in the season of life where everyone is having babies. The season where happy hours often include holding a friend’s baby in one hand and a cocktail in the other. The season where multiple friends at a time are down for the count with morning sickness.

While it feels a tiny bit bittersweet for the spontaneity of childless years to be leaving my friend circle, it mostly feels exciting. I love babies, and I love seeing the strong, awesome women I hold so dearly with their little ones.

Today, I want to share with you my favorite way to support the new mamas in my life: bring them a meal! This idea isn’t innovative or difficult or expensive, but it’s something I wish we all did more of. When a friend is in need, whether that’s because they’re struggling or celebrating, feed them!

Honestly, you don’t even have to enjoy cooking for this to work. Bringing your friend’s favorite takeout is probably just as welcome as a homemade meal. When you bring them food, any food at all, that means they don’t have to worry about the chore of making dinner, even if it’s just for the night.

When you bring a new mom dinner, sometimes you have to carry strange bags into the office. 

I’ll be sharing a series of these recipes that work well for the dinner drop-off in the coming months. These meals have to fit several criteria: 1. Cozy and simple, 2. Store and reheat well, 3. Walk the line between healthy and indulgent.

My best tips and tricks for meal delivery success:

  • All-disposable everything. When you’re bringing a friend a meal, it’s likely because the rest of their life feels overwhelming. Don’t give them the additional task of remembering to return your casserole dish. I am usually a stickler for glass storage and reusable containers, but this is an exception. I have a few Rubbermaids that I am not attached to, and I just tell the recipient to pass that container along as needed. If a gallon ziplock will do the job, use one.
  • Check in about food preferences. If you’re not sure if your friend has any allergies or aversions, just ask. Especially if you’re making food for a newly pregnant and possibly nauseated friend or a nursing mom. I usually send a text or email like this: “I want to bring you dinner Wednesday evening. Are there any specific foods you’re avoiding?”
  • Give a heads-up. Since the idea of this good deed is to take the weight off your friend’s shoulders, let her know a day or two ahead of time what you’re thinking. That way she doesn’t spend any time stressing about what’s for dinner that night — she knows she has a delivery from you on the way.

The meal I’m sharing today, a simple lentil daal with sweet potatoes and green peas, is a favorite at my house. It’s spiced and flavorful, but not spicy; it’s hearty, but not heavy. It freezes well in case your friend can’t use the meal right away. I brought it to a friend and her husband earlier this week with brown rice, garlic naan, and chewy blondies with chocolate, coconut, and pecans.

Sweet potato, coconut, and red lentil daal

Serves 2 hungry adults for 2 meals

I know that this dish isn’t authentic. But it’s wholesome, hearty, and has all the coziness of chicken noodle soup.

Ingredients:

Medium yellow onion, diced

Coconut or olive oil

Four cloves of garlic, minced

Tbsp fresh ginger, minced

 

Tbsp yellow curry powder

½ tbsp turmeric

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp salt (more to taste)

 

3 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into small cubes

1 c red lentils

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1 cup water (more to add if daal gets dry)

 

1 c frozen green peas

  1. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat (I use my cast iron skillet). Once hot, add a couple tablespoons of your chosen oil. I use a combination of coconut and olive. When the oil is melted/hot, add the onions. Sautee until golden brown, up to ten minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ginger. Sautee for 30 seconds, or until very fragrant. Lower heat to medium.
  3. Add spices, and — stirring constantly — toast for one minute. I add more coconut oil at this step if the pan looks dry.
  4. Add sweet potatoes, lentils, coconut milk, salt, and water. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 30-40 minutes. Stir occasionally, ensuring that the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If the lentils or sweet potatoes need more liquid to cook, add about a cup of water halfway into the cooking time.
  5. Once the potatoes are fork-tender, stir in the green peas. Allow to simmer for five more minutes to warm the peas through.
  6. Serve with brown rice, naan, or both if you need extra comfort. Sriracha and cilantro are welcome compliments.

Heavily adapted from this recipe.

Note on rice: for the best reheating experience, spread still-hot, freshly cooked rice in a flat layer (like on a big baking sheet) until completely cool. Then store and refrigerate. The rice will reheat in individual grains, not as a big clump.