10 year anniversary camping trip

Location: Belleplain State Forest : Woodbine, NJ
Distance from home: ~60 minutes, ~57 miles
Site: #17
Dates: 9/6/2019-9/8/2019 (two nights)
Weather: 58 low, high in 70s.  Cloudy/drizzling day one, clear and sunny day 2

What we loved: Quiet, peaceful campground.  Our campsite was right on the lake.  Easy access to trails, there was a nature center, lake area and kayaking available.

Meals: We kept things simple, stuffed peppers (made ahead), pasta and sauce, grilled cheese, pancakes and bagels.

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And our family takes flight: first family camping trip

Location: Atsion Family Campground : Shamong, NJ
Distance from home: ~45 minutes, ~25 miles
Site: #43
Dates: 8/30/2019-9/1/2019 (two nights)
Weather: 65 low, 85 high (sunny)

What we loved: Camping as a family, making s’mores, racing with little bird around the loop (and our neighbors and a very awesome remote control car that little bird loved watching!).

Meals: burgers and dogs, french toast and sausage, grilled cheese, pasta and meat sauce, and pancakes (Lots of cut veggies and fruit)

We spent a good bit of the this trip getting re-oriented to camping- it had been a while! The weather was gorgeous and we enjoyed slowing down and being in nature.

Up next…10 year Anniversary trip to Belleplain State forest!

 

 

Easy Weeknight meal ideas!

As many of you know, I have been trying SO hard to adjust to my new schedule and find some make ahead re-heatable meals for us!  I don’t have a ton of ideas, but here are a few of the options that have been working well for us.

Turkey Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes:  I posted this turkey meatloaf recipe a few weeks ago.  I will make this ahead in a 9×13 pan, and then cook up some mashed potatoes and store both in the fridge.  I will portion out individual plates and microwave, and make a quick batch of steamed green beans.

Tacos: I will prepare the meat and season it and then either store it in the fridge or freezer.  I make sure we have all the fixings prepped and ready to go.  We love to have Goya Yellow Rice with our tacos, which can easily be made ahead and re-heated.

Risotto:  This is one that I am super impressed with! There are tons of great recipes out there, but I am partial to this one from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen.  It stores great in the fridge for 1-2 days.  Sometimes I serve this as a main dish, or as a side to chicken that I have made ahead.  Plus, this is a great way for me to use my homemade chicken broth!

Rotisserie Chicken:  Ok so this one might be considered cheating, but a store rotisserie chicken is $7.99 in my area, which is cheaper than takeout, and always gives me leftovers for chicken salad, and I can use the bones to make chicken broth.  I have been able to keep a rotisserie chicken in my fridge for 2-3 days and reheat it whole in the oven or individual servings in the microwave.  I will make up some sort of potato or rice dish and serve with easy steamed green beans.

Indian Chicken:   This is another easy one, that also freezes well.  I will saute and brown chicken breasts or thighs (cut into serving sized chunks).  Then add some Indian simmer sauce (which my Aldi’s now sells!)  And simmer until the chicken is cooked.  I then pack this up to freeze.  I will defrost head and serve with rice, naan and a side salad.

This week I am trying a chicken parm casserole!  I’ll keep you updated!

Packing Lunch!

I have always, always packed my lunch.  Even when I was in school, my parents always packed or made us pack our own lunches.  One of the main motivations for us packing was cost.  Believe it or not, my parents were able to pack us a lunch that was cheaper than the $1.60 school lunches.

Flash forward 15 years, and now if I were to buy lunch it would be at least $10 per lunch!  I can certainly pack a lunch for less than that!  I try to pack leftovers for Mr. Bird for his lunch, and I used to take leftovers for mine. If we had no leftovers, would would take a bagged salads, which I try to keep on hand ($1.99 each).   In my new job, it’s not as easy to heat up a lunch and sit down and eat.  I find myself snacking in meetings or grabbing a quick bite in between things.  So I have had to adapt my lunch contents!  I have been taking crackers, hummus, vegetables, chips & guac or yogurt and so far it is working out ok, although I do miss a nice hot lunch in the middle of the day.

Honestly though, even though packing our lunches saves us THOUSANDS of dollars a year, it is also more convenient.  I am never stuck having to go buy food, if I am hungry I have something to eat.

 

What do you typically do for lunches during the day or at work?

 

 

Stress and how to cope

I have been under an incredible amount of stress since starting my new job.  Some of it is just the stress of being outside of the house for 45+ hours a week and juggling everything.  But a lot of the stress is actually from people!  My new job requires a lot more interpersonal communication and building relationships with co-workers that I am used to.  All of this means that I, an introvert is exhausted at the end of the day.  I also struggle to understand some social nuances and I easily pick up on tensions.  All of this combined has led me to feel overwhelmed and stressed.  I have been forced to tap into my tool kit of stress relief.

Some of the things I am trying include some healthier lifestyle habits:

Eating Healthier: I find that eating healthier makes me feel better!  If I can reduce or eliminate gluten, processed foods and sugar, I feel less anxious and am in better tune with what is really going on.

Exercising:  I try so hard to do this regularly, but I had fallen off the bandwagon.  A fellow blogger posted a short review on Blogilates, and I decided to give it a try.  So far I have done several of the workouts.  Although not the most rigorous, they do help give me that extra boost in the morning.  And so far the ones I have tried have all been 10ish minutes. Which is about all I have time for!

 

I have only just instituted these things in the past few days, but already I am feeling slightly better and somewhat more in control of my stress.  What do you do to help your stress?

 

A Few Things I am loving right now!

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  1. La Croix sparkling water.  Every now and then I like to spice up what I drink, and every now and then Aldi brings this in as a special buy $3.99 for an 18 pack.  It is SO much better than most other seltzers, although Polar is hard to beat.  Whole foods and a few other grocery stores as well.  My favorite flavors are grapefruit, orange and berry.
  2. YouTube Channel Clean & Delicious.  A reader shared this with me a few days ago, and I am totally hooked!  This gal has some great recipe videos, but she also has healthy dessert video and healthy meal prep videos.  I never would have thought to turn to youtube for some cooking help, but I am super impressed!
  3. My ridiculously expensive pair of Cole Haan Tali Bow Flats.  This was a TOTAL splurge a few weeks ago.  But this pair of shoes is SUPER cute and super comfortable.  I got them in a black,gray and beige snake skin print, and they go with everything!  So, while not frugal in one sense, I think they are going to serve me well in the long haul, and wearing them makes me smile, so that is worth something too right
  4. Microsoft OneNote.  I have been a long time user of Evernote, and have really loved that app for personal use.  However, at work I got a free copy of OneNote, and have really been enjoying all of its features.  I was able to easily create a digital bullet journal and have been able to keep impeccable notes and tracking for work.
  5. Mini Succulents I purchased a mini succulent terrarium on Etsy a little bit ago, and I am really loving look at these tiny plants.  So far they are all still alive-which is a huge feat for me!  The tiny cactus is just so cute.

What are you loving this week?