New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year, Friends!

It has been a WHILE.  If you follow me on Instagram, you might have known that my computer decided to have a major tantrum and stop working for a couple weeks.  Then, it took a healthy amount of time to get back to me.  So here we are, well into 2018.  How are those resolutions going??

……crickets……….

Well, maybe you are 10 days into your Whole30 (that’s great!) or you’ve been to the gym quite a bit this week (way to go!).  Personally, I never make resolutions because I don’t ever follow through.  But it wasn’t until recently that I realized why.  Resolutions are waaaaay to open ended for me.

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I have a distinct memory from college that helped me understand this better.  Being your typical first born, I was a diligent and focused student.  Never wanting to disappoint a professor or teacher,  my work was handed it in and on time.  But, I was a great procrastinator as well.

One Saturday in college I was moaning about starting work on some paper due Monday and my friend looked at me and said, “Katherine, have you ever NOT turned in a paper?  Have you ever turned in a paper late?”  to which I replied a quiet no.  “Well, then you know it will get done.  You can do it now or later, but you know eventually it will get done.”

As the truth of that settled in, I realized that it wasn’t the paper that was going to motivate me, but the deadline.  I need a deadline!  (I also know this isn’t a revolutionary concept, but it made so much more sense why resolutions weren’t successful for me.)

The deadline is what makes crash diets successful.  “I just need to lose 20 pounds in the next 6 hours.”   The deadline is what makes credit card companies so successful.  We don’t like to plan ahead, delay gratification or put in little bits of effort over a long period of time.  We want results NOW!

When I realized this about myself, I began to look at goals and resolutions a bit differently.  New year, new goals.  So, I do have a few goals for 2018.  Some are simple, some ridiculous and some ambitious.  There are personal ones, some for my kids and some for our home.  Here are a few ideas for you to consider and maybe you can join me as I will set deadlines for myself.  Follow along on Instagram as I set a new goal including a deadline.  You will be my accountability 🙂

GOALS FOR 2018

ONE//  If you have a spouse and/or kids, do you have a will, living trust or power of attorney?  Honestly, this one sat on our to do list for a really long time.  We still have one last component to tie up, but I feel so much better knowing that it is done.  I know these are hard conversations and not fun to talk about.  The excuses for not doing it are plentiful.  BUT.
Both of our families have seen the significant damage that can happen when you don’t have things in writing.  Our lawyer reminded us that this is always adjustable and changeable.  If we want to change the guardians in five years, we can.  If we want to change the trustee, we can at any time.  Now, changes can cost money, but they can always be made.  Trust me, you will be glad you crossed this one off your list in 2018.

TWO// Do you have any boxes in your basement/storage room/shed/parent’s basement holding personal belongings you are struggling to part with?  Personally, this one is old teaching supplies for me.  Teaching for eight years (in three different schools) created a lot of memories and materials.  I took great pride in my work and the curriculum I created.  However, at this time I don’t see myself back in the classroom and should I decide to go back, these supplies will likely be outdated.  It might be time to designate, donate and toss.

THREE// Anyone drowning in digital photos?  Anyone get notices that your phone has run out of storage because your photos and videos take up too much space?  Thankfully I feel pretty good about my photos being automatically uploaded to Shutterfly, but there they sit.  I love photos and having albums to look at with my kids so my goal is to at least get my youngest her baby book (one photo per month for the first year of life) and at least 2017 done.
Quick tip: Start with your most recent photos.  Your memory is better and you won’t get so bogged down feeling sad about how much time has passed.  Once you are on a roll, move backward because you’ll be more motivated to get the book done rather than dwell on how much has changed.

FOUR// Does anyone have a room or system in their home that has just never quite worked?  Maybe you have a room that looks eerily similar to the week you moved in…and you’ve been here almost seven years.  (Oh, I’m looking at you living/dining room!)
Maybe your entry from the garage has a closet, but it is tiny and nearly useless for lack of storage.  Maybe your bathroom needs some rearranging to accommodate better space for things you use on a daily basis.  Take note of what part of your day makes you the most frustrated and see if you can solve the problem by rearranging/purging/repurposing/redecorating.

FIVE//  Lastly, consider planning something FUN for yourself!  I saved this one for last because sometimes these goals or (stupid) resolutions can be so very *adult*.  A lot of these things feel mundane, but we also get to choose the fun we can have too!
Have you always dreamed of going to Hawaii (hands raised very high)?  Maybe that isn’t in your budget, but maybe you could swing a long weekend somewhere new?  For me, at least, I love planning new places to visit.  For us, I would like to start dreaming about our 10th wedding anniversary in about 18 months.  That would be a good amount of time to save, budget, plan and execute.  I have a few ideas, but where would you suggest we go??

Do you have any goals for 2018?  Are you good at executing them without deadlines?  What motivates you to accomplish your goals?

 

Shipt Grocery Delivery: A Review

Standing in the yogurt section, the clock was creeping closer and closer to 5pm.  It was the *delightful* bewitching hour and I was still holding my coupons, my grocery list and snack cup full of Cheerios dangling from my pinky.  I had a plan!  I had a list!  I had snacks!!  My toddler was getting cranky (getting cranky?  already cranky?), my baby-who-doesn’t-sit-still-ever was slipping all over the buckled seat in the front of the cart and I had only just accomplished about twenty percent of my shopping.  Not only was I trying to do a weeks worth of grocery shopping with my two kids, I wanted to bring these groceries home, unload, put them all away and have dinner on the table in less than 90 minutes.

So, when another seasoned mom with maybe 15 years of experience ahead of me walked by and muttered, “I don’t miss those days.  That is so tough!”, all of my desire to get this huge task accomplished deflated completely.

At that point I’m sure I grabbed a loaf of bread, some cheese slices and called grilled cheese dinner.  Which I realize is completely fine.

Since then I have added another little one to the mix and taking little people grocery shopping is just simply…awful.  And I love grocery shopping!  I can still hear my mother responding with, “Not today” to every. single. request. we made while she wandered the aisles trying to figure out what to cook for dinner.  She didn’t like taking us with her either!

ENTER: SHIPT grocery delivery.

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Oh, you haven’t heard of it???  Oh my goodness you are going to LOVE me!!!!  My sister first tipped me off to this hidden gem of God’s gift to all people (but mostly moms). Shipt is a membership-based grocery marketplace that delivers fresh foods, household essentials, and even alcohol (in select areas) from local stores. Through an easy-to-use app, friendly shoppers, and a commitment to exceptional service, Shipt simplifies lives and saves time for what matters most.  Let me help you get started!

First, download the free Shipt app.  Go ahead, I’ll wait…

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Second, start your grocery list right in the app.  You can be specific like “Heinz ketchup” or just “potatoes”.  Also, specify “ripe avocados” or “avocados for guacamole in 3 days” if you want.  If you can’t find an item, there is an option to make a special request.  For example, my kids take old-school Flinstone vitamins (not gummy) and those didn’t come up in the system.  I was able to describe them (color of the label, etc) enough that my buyer was able to find them.

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Third, buyers often contact you when they arrive at the store and ask if you forgot something (which I often do).  Once I asked for lightbulbs and she sought out a store associate to ask for help with my request and when they couldn’t find my specific, she tried to find an alternative for me per the associate’s recommendation.  This was KEY for me because truthfully, when I’m in the store with my three kids, I don’t have time to look for an associate much less wait to hear his/her alternative suggestions.  If I can’t find on a first quick scan, I just don’t get it.  My buyer actually had the time to find me what I really wanted.

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Lastly, the bring the groceries to your door and into your home (if you want them to come in).  Not only that, they can deliver so FAST!!  My sister told me she made her list and placed the order at 10pm and the groceries were on her door by 7am the NEXT MORNING!  My cousin (who also uses it) says she loves it for the peace of mind.  When one of her four kids gets sick, she loves knowing she can have Pedialyte, Tylenol, Kleenex, trashbags and a bottle of wine at her door without having to leave home if needed.  (And yes, they do in fact deliver alcohol as well).  I was even able to request my shopper knock instead of ring the doorbell because my little ones were napping.  #multitaskingatitsbest

10 Reasons to Sign up for Shipt TODAY!

  1.  Someone (who you can communicate with) does all your grocery (grocery items, paper products and household items) shopping for you.  They often even check before leaving the store if you forgot anything.
  2. If an item is out of stock or unavailable, your shopper can contact you to discuss substitutions (another flavor, generic, etc).
  3. If you don’t see an item you are looking for in the search menu, you can make a special request.
  4. You can shop online or just use the app.  (I actually found the app to be quicker!)
  5. Since Shipt is connected with Meijer stores in my area, you can log your receipt and get MPerks!  This was great news for me because I saved over $1000 each year for the last three years with MPerks.
  6. The turn around time for delivery is SO QUICK!  Sometimes you can get your order in an hour!
  7. Payment is all done through the app so your buyer doesn’t ever need your credit card info.
  8. Delivery is completely FREE for orders over $35!  Let’s be real…I have never spent less than $35 at a grocery store.  Ever.  (There is an option to tip your shopper at the end of the transaction when all your groceries are delivered.)
  9. The sale price is listed in the app or web page so you can choose an item based on price rather than name if you prefer to buy based on sales.
  10. Shipt offers services in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin.
  11. You never have to juggle a list, coupons and toddlers while filling your cart again!

BONUS: When you click on this link to sign up today, you get $10 of FREE groceries!  You can even try it for FREE for two whole weeks!

I have purchased my own membership, this is not a sponsored post.  Really liking the service helped me decide to share my honest experience with you.  However, I will receive credits through your use of the link above.

Have you tried a grocery delivery service?  What about it do you like?  How has it helped you?

Liebster Award: Nomination

The Comfort Table has been nominated for the Liebster Award by Teacups and Hiccups!  Terri writes at Teacups and Hiccups covering fashion, lifestyle and fun DIY projects.  Be sure to check her out!  She also just got married so for those of you about to get hitched, check out her wedding series.  Oh, and if you were wondering, her wedding was STUNNING.

What is the Liebster Award?

The Liebster Award 2017 is an award that exists only on the internet, and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. ‘Liebster’ in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.

Official Rules of the Liebster Award 2017

Why did you start blogging?

There are two things I always love to talk about: books and food.  I run my book club (just started our 4th year!) and I LOVE to cook and bake.  Meal planning for special events…who am I kidding…or random Tuesdays is just FUN for me.  People are often asking for recipes and book recommendations and so I decided to combine the two and put it out on a blog.

What does the name of your blog mean?

The Comfort Table describes the beauty that comes through bringing people together in community.  There is almost nothing that draws people in from every walk of life like the table.  Just as you are.  Always welcome.  You are home.  The deepest sense of comfort.  The Comfort Table.

What is your biggest struggle in blogging?

Ha!  Probably what many people will say, the tech-y, behind the scenes stuff.  Computers are not my passion, my gift or my love language.  When I hit a roadblock (which I do often) I get frustrated because I have no idea how to fix it or who to ask.  Good heavens, if Google can’t solve it, who can?!?!

What is your go-to snack?

Right now I am trying to stick with either a banana or apple with almond butter.  And usually the last of my long-since cold coffee from the morning.

What brings you genuine joy?

Being a voice major makes me love music a lot, but hearing my kids singing around the house is making me so happy right now.  Also, when my husband sneaks me off for a date night.  Sitting with him over a nice meal and not having to cut up a little person’s dinner is completely delightful.

What is your favorite quote to live by?

Found this during a bible study a couple of years ago and reworded it slightly (simply changed the pronouns) to make it personal:
“I pray that my love will overflow more and more and that I will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want to understand what really matters so that I may live a pure and blameless life until the day of Christ’s return.  May I always be filled with the fruit of my salvation–the righteous character produced in my life by Jesus Christ–to bring great glory and praise to God.”  paraphrase of Philippians 1:9-11 (NLT)

What is your favorite movie and why?

Oh man I don’t like picking favorites…Thriller?  Sleeping with the Enemy.  Drama?  Shawshank Redemption.  Love Story?  The Notebook.  Musical?  Either Moulin Rouge or Sound of Music.  Comedy?  Crazy Stupid Love.  See??  I can’t pick just one!

Are you a cook or a baker?

We have always said my sister was the adventurous cook and I was the baker.  My in-laws certainly know me as the baker since my mother-in-law doesn’t love baking.  But!  I would like to consider myself both if I’m allowed.  I really enjoy both but cook way more than bake these days because I can’t say no to baked goods sitting on my counter!

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall?

Summer.  SUMMER.  Always and forever summer.

Chipotle or Qdoba?

Oh, definitely Chipotle but that’s mostly because of proximity.  Burrito bowl, extra lettuce, black beans with corn salsa and pico.  SO GOOD.

Your favorite blog

Oh, man that’s tough too.  I have followed a few for years pretty consistently.  Iowa Girl Eats has great food, all gluten-free (though I’m not).  The Small Things Blog has lots of beauty and hair tutorials.  Modern Mrs. Darcy is my go-to for book recommendations.  Oh, and I love her podcast too.  Beware: your to-be-read list will explode!  Hi Sugarplum! is a favorite for fashion and style.  Finally, We are THAT Family is blogger turned ministry entrepreneur for Mercy House in Kenya, providing a home for pregnant girls in Kenya, offering education, medical care and learning a trade to survive and thrive in their home.

10 Random Facts about You

1.  I danced for 15 years, mostly ballet and musical theater.
2.  I played the Baroness in the Sound of Music in high school.
3.  Before graduating high school, I changed my major from pre-med to music.
4.  In college I traveled with our university choir to Russia, the Bahamas and was supposed to go to Greece my senior year but the US declared war just before we left.  So we went to Minnesota instead.
5.  After college, my first job was the secondary music teacher at the American School in Honduras.
6.  A former co-worker made fun of me because I have a lot of best friends.  And she was totally right, I do.
7.  Per #6, I meet up with my 5 college girlfriends once a year.  At one point, we lived in Oregon, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota and Chicago.  We often dream of living in a commune for obvious reasons.
8. One of the coolest experiences of my life was singing in the Moody Sanctuary choir and being in Paris on Bastille Day (their Independence Day) and watching fireworks over the Eiffel Tower while eating a baguette.
9.  By nature I am an organized person and when people have really messy cars it stresses me out.
10.  One of my biggest pet peeves is when people interrupt while someone is speaking.

My Nominations

Blog by Iris Adrienne

White Hill Designs

The Ephicial Guide

2 Turn the Page

Serena on the Go

 

The Rules

If you have been nominated for The Liebster Award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about the Liebster award in which you should do the following:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you.
  2. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. You can download images for the award here
  3. Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.
  4. Answer your questions and provide 10 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have less than 200 followers and ask them your own questions.
  6. List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here or from this site)
  7. Don’t forget to inform the people/blogs you nominated about it!

Answer these questions!

  • Why did you start blogging?
  • What does the name of you blog mean?
  • What is your biggest struggle about blogging?
  • What is your go to snack?
  • What or who makes you laugh the most?
  • What is your favorite quote to live by?
  • What is your favorite book and why?
  • What is saving your life lately?
  • Name your favorite aspect of each season.
  • What is your favorite guilty pleasure?

Sixty-Four Restaurant and Wine Bar: A Review

When your town gets a new restaurant, everyone gets pretty excited.  My actual address sits in a pretty small suburb of Chicago, (we have less than 75,000 and next door just about doubles that number) so we like to take advantage of all of its benefits.

Recently the downtown area has been adding quite a bit of new storefront, restaurants and more walkways along the water.  Downtown Naperville is already known for good shopping, restaurants and a beautiful Riverwalk with brick-lined paths along the water.  One of our favorite family activities is grabbing an ice cream cone and people-watching as it seems the entire town comes out on a beautiful night.


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So, when we heard that there was a new wine bar in town we were excited to try it out.  Sixty Four Wine Bar is appropriately named because they offer 64 wines by the glass every day.  There are free-standing kiosks in the center of the restaurant and dispense a bit like soft drinks (though in a bit more glamorous machines).  You have the option of three pour sizes (and prices), a taste, a half glass and a full glass.  The variety of wines and price points was varied which was appreciated.  They do change their wines fairly frequently so you feel anxious to come back and try others.

We decided to start with an appetizer, Crispy Calamari with Spicy Thai Basil and Sweet Peppers.  I tend to think of calamari as greasy and not very flavorful but these were excellent.  I think the Thai flavors paired excellently and the calamari was perfectly cooked.

Next we ordered the cheese plate served with green apples, mango jam, blue cheese marshmallow and crackers.  We chose the Drunken Goat (Spain) and the Barber’s Reserve Cheddar (England).  Though everything tasted good, I wished the cheese had come out in much thicker slices or cubes so I could better taste the cheese.  Because it was so thin, I felt like it was hard to actually taste it.

Finally, we ordered the Angus Burger with Red Onion Chutney and Smoked Maple Cheddar Cheese.  (I’m so bummed I forgot a photo of this!)  This burger was excellent, perfectly cooked.  We split everything so we could try lots of different things.

Overall I really enjoyed the food and the wine was fun and interactive though I wasn’t overly excited by anything I tasted.  Because rose is so popular, there were a lot of choices for that and limited choices for other varietals.  I think this would be a fun place for Girls Night Out or Bridal Showers or Couples.  When searching for a great bottle of wine as a gift, I certainly will return for the selection alone.

To check out their menu and wine varieties visit their website here.

To see other restaurant reviews click here.

 

Halo Top: A Review

Happy Friday Friends!  Can you believe summer is half way over already??  It truly just makes me want to cry!  I love summer so much and so I’m trying to soak up as much as I can before it slips away.  Before things too emotional, let me cheer you up with a little known fact…this Sunday is National Ice Cream day.  No really!

One of the best parts of summer really is ice cream for me.  Oooh man I love ice cream.  But there is not much you can claim in the health department.  Dairy?  Fruit??  Ok, that might be pushing it, but I have a really, really nice alternative for you: Halo Top.  It is a low-calorie, high protein and low sugar ice cream.  Also, the ingredients are all natural!  But all of those things are not as exciting as that large number on the front of the pint: the calorie count for the entire pint!!!

Now, before you discredit this, let me say first:  I don’t like frozen yogurt.  I don’t like “light” ice cream.  It just isn’t creamy enough (frankly I feel like most of it tastes like its been sitting in the back of the freezer for months).  This was totally different.  They do recommend you let it warm up on the counter just a bit before eating to make it a bit creamier (which I would agree with).

I did try all six of the flavors above (17 flavors in all).
Well, you know, for research.

Other flavors include: Vanilla bean, Chocolate, Lemon Cake, Strawberry, Mint Chip, Chocolate Mocha Chip, Chocolate Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter Cup, S’mores, Black Cherry and Red Velvet.

My favorites?  Probably Oatmeal Cookie, Sea Salt Caramel and Chocolate Almond Crunch in that order.   When I go out for ice cream I always order something with lots of flavors together (peanut butter/chocolate, toffee/mocha, toasted coconut/chocolate).  So, I didn’t try any of their “classic” (vanilla bean/chocolate) flavors, but I look forward to trying them next time.

Overall, I thought this ice cream was creamy, flavorful and delicious.  I also found myself feeling satisfied before typical ice cream would.  There was one time when I finished the pint in one sitting….but it was only 280 calories!  My suggestion, the next time you are hosting some adult friends, buy a handful of these and add some toppings.  You’ll have a great sundae bar!  Now go get some ice cream!

 

 

5 New Podcasts to Challenge You

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By nature, I am the type of person who LOVES to learn.  Information coming into my brain in a steady stream is something I relish.  (I’m rolling my eyes a bit at myself right now because I became a teacher, for heaven’s sake!  Have people known this about me and I’m just figuring it out??)  For instance, I have vivid memories of writing my first research paper with my Dad.  About the moon.  Sounds like a real, page turner, huh?  And my sweet Dad, he still has that report.  I’m actually certain that he was more excited than I was to work on that report: learning how to research, write an outline, check and reference your sources, you get the drift.

{In another side note, I think my husband is at this very moment breaking out in hives just hearing this.  He HATED this stuff.  Clearly, opposites attract.}

Once I left the study-saturated environment of college, I found such enjoyment in thoroughly researching these new-found interests.  But I also just really enjoy the process of learning.  I remember my Dad listening to NPR and my mom listening to all kinds of talk radio so it was part of my childhood too.  Enter, the new digital age of podcasts.

Have you dipped your toe into the pools of podcasts yet?  {My mom is asking what podcasts are–Mom, they are just like a radio show but you subscribe to them and they come directly to your phone and listen to them when you want.  Nice, right?}  I tried one and didn’t get it.  I tried another and liked it.  And then I tried one more and I was hooked.   So now I want to get you hooked too!  Here are the podcasts that I consistently listen to and help me fold mountains of laundry happily!

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ONE/  FamilyLife Today podcast–This is essentially the same as their radio show on Christian radio stations, but I have always enjoyed this show.  It focuses on marriage, family and choosing to live life according to what God shares in His Word.
Recent favorite: Discussing Christianity and Hollywood and the new release of the movie “The Case for Christ” (aired April 7, 2017)

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TWO/  Organize365–I’m an organizing fanatic and sometimes you just need some new ideas and motivation.  I like to be organized but with three kids at home age 5 and under, it makes things nearly impossible.  Lisa breaks everything down in very manageable steps and gives great encouragement.  She suggests everything from deep organization of your storage room, basement and garage to weekly management of calendar, papers (THE WORST) and schedules.  She even has a monthly focus so you can work on her suggested project when it fits in your schedule.
Recent favorite: Episode #162, April Organization and Monthly Focus

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THREE/ Read-Aloud Revival–I have no idea how I stumbled across this podcast but I LOVE it.  First, Sarah Mackenzie is adorable and delightful and I want to be her friend.  Second, she has a website dedicated to being intentional about reading aloud to your children.  She loves to talk books and the benefits of reading with your kids.  Though I’m not a club member (special access to author and illustrator interviews and other goodies), I find that the podcast is great for me.  I also love that she recommends old classics but is also great about sharing the love with new authors and illustrators.
Recent favorite: Episode #60, Your Job is to Plant the Seed with Sally Lloyd Jones

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FOUR/ Inspired to Action–This is hosted by Kat Lee of the Inspired to Action blog.  She has a heart for encouraging moms to fight against the grain and be an incredible mom by tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit.  A great encouragement!
Recent favorite: Episode #120, Using our Fighting Words with Ellie Holcomb (singer/songwriter)

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FIVE/ What Should I Read Next–Hosted by Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy blog.  This is probably my favorite podcast, though, warning: it will make your to-be-read list of books explode!  She has great discussions with guests and does a little literary matchmaking from books they love, hate and what they are reading lately.
Recent favorite: Episode 68, Plot summaries with Laura Tremaine

Though I can’t really see adding too many more podcasts than this, I would love to add some short and sweet comedic or more light-hearted podcasts.  If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear them!

Have you jumped on the podcast bandwagon yet?  What are your favorite podcasts?  What drew you to these particular podcasts?

Whole30: Where do I start?

So you’ve decided to start your first Whole30!  I’m so impressed!  If you missed my post explaining why I decided to try tackling Whole30, be sure to check that out here.  You might be nervous, excited and fired up all at the same time.  Do you have “Eye of the Tiger” on repeat??  Well today I have three tips to get you started on the right track!

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Whole30 is intense but it is supposed to be.  Over the next 30 days you are choosing to fuel your body with only the healthiest food it can get.  Do you wonder what it will feel like?  There are times when you will feel hungry, tired and crabby because you are craving a caramel latte and you aren’t going to cave!  But there are other times when you will feel amazingly healthy and strong.  When the crabbiness is fighting hard, fight back with the knowledge that you are offering your body the best kind of nourishment.

When considering your first Whole30, do three things first:

ONE:  Order (or check out at your library) the New York Times Bestseller It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig.  I needed to know the why behind all of those foods I was being asked to eliminate.  Honestly,  the book is a huge reason I finished.  Understanding how food is supposed to work with my body and not against it gave me the tools to overcome cravings.  Food is supposed to be fuel for your body to function.  What you put in determines what you get out.

Possibly even consider writing in a journal while you do this.  I documented my beginning weight (though you are only supposed to check your weight at the very end, not during the 30 days), what I hoped to get out of the plan and quotes from the book that helped hammer home certain concepts.  Also, guess at some of the triggers that will tempt you over the next couple of weeks.  For me, I knew that sugar was going to be a big one.  Then you might be surprised what you add to that list and how new triggers surfaced throughout your month.

TWO: Grab your calendar.
Do not start today.  Yes, you actually read that right.  Whole30 actually takes planning and strategy.  Consider your schedule: do you have a birthday/anniversary/wedding coming up?  Are you willing to eat according to the plan during those times?  These events are not a good enough reason to cheat.  Out of 365 days in a year, you can find 30 in a row to dedicate yourself to clean eating.  I wouldn’t recommend it around major holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, especially if you dream about the food you’ll enjoy during those times.

To be honest, my husband and I discovered how much we celebrate with food and drinks.  We chose to do ours around the month of April ending just after Memorial Day weekend.  It nearly killed both of us to be on a holiday weekend with family celebrating and not enjoying all the holiday “treats”.  And that was the end of our Whole30!  So be choosy when deciding when to tackle it.

THREE: Meal plan.

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First of all, take one week at a time.  Plan ahead and be ready for any unexpected thing that can happen.  Consider having the same breakfast everyday for the first couple of days so you don’t have to think about that meal.   Second, buy 4-5 types of vegetables and 4-5 proteins.  In It Starts with Food, the authors state that fruits are good but not necessary.  However, I felt apples and bananas (along with baggies of nuts) were the perfect food to keep in my bag for those unexpected delays that keep you away from your kitchen.

Particularly for the first week, keep it simple.
Breakfast: eggs, sauteed veggies (peppers/onions/tomatoes), avocado
Lunch: salad, chopped veggies, protein of choice
Snack: piece of fruit, small handful of nuts or almond butter
Dinner: protein, veggie, potato
Don’t start with Pinterest or Instagram because you might get overwhelmed.  A few days in to your first week go to Instagram, Whole30.com, or my personal favorite, Pinterest for meal ideas.

Day before you start, grill up at least a couple chicken breasts, make a handful of hard boiled eggs and chop up lots of veggies.  You will appreciate the ability to throw together a salad, stir fry or breakfast “hash”.  Buy more meat and veggies than you think you’ll need because you will go through them faster than you think.  Also, grab a couple larger bags of raw almonds or other nuts that you enjoy.  These are great to keep around for snacks.

You will certainly be the most successful if you:
Know your purpose (understanding the why)
Plan ahead (strategically choosing the when) and
Choose what to eat (being deliberate of the what).

Next time I will discuss a few confessions, a few meals and products that I could not have lived with out, and final thoughts.

Have you read It Starts with Food?  What do you anticipate will be your greatest challenge?  What do you look forward to in completing your Whole30 experience?

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

Oh, ho ho how tough it is to be tempted by Spring one weekend and turn around to have a Midwest winter come back to bite you!!!  We have been tempted a couple of times with delightful weather (read: children are going OUTSIDE).  Then,  THEN we get rain and freezing cold temps.  Not ideal, my friends, not ideal.

When the temps dip too low for the windows to be open, I want one thing:  I want soup.  And if I get to choose, it will almost always be  roasted tomato soup.  It is chunky so it feels hearty and it has TONS of flavor.  Added bonus: your house will smell amazing while you roast these very simple veggies.  Let’s get started!

Take 1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes and 2 lbs. of Roma tomatoes cut in half and lay out on a baking sheet.  Roughly chop 3/4 of an onion and 4-5 carrots.   Smash 7 garlic cloves and add to the pan.  Pour 1/3 c. olive oil over the top and toss.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for one hour at 375 degrees.

[Note: This would be the perfect time to invite people over so they can smell the amazing food you are cooking for dinner.  As these veggies roast, they create an absolutely DIVINE aroma.  You will be the rockstar neighbor who makes her own soup.  From scratch.}

Look at that delicious char on those onions and tomatoes!  Two different types of tomatoes give better depth of flavor.  Lots of garlic cuts the sweetness of the carrots and tomatoes and mellows as you roast it.

Once the vegetables have cooled slightly, use an immersion blender (like this one) OR pour carefully into a blender and blend until you reach desired texture.   If it isn’t blending well, add some of the vegetable broth (or chicken broth) to help it along.  Pour soup into soup pot and let simmer for a few minutes to thicken slightly.  Finally, add remaining broth,  2 T. balsamic vinegar, 1/2 t. red pepper flakes and 3-4 T. basil pesto.  Let this simmer a couple of minutes to let all the flavors come together.

While you wait, you can get to work on your grilled cheese.  Keep it simple, but make sure you use real butter to help make that golden crust.  Lastly, cut grilled cheese into cubes for a fun garnish.  Oh, who are we kidding, this is half the reason you made the soup!  (No judgement here).

This is also a wonderful recipe for those in your life who are vegetarians or if you would like to try a Meatless Monday meals.  Or it could also be a great meal to bring a new mom or someone who has just returned from the hospital.  It is warm, comforting, and also very easy to freeze.  Just cool, pour into freezer bags and lay flat.  Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons is the perfect meal to warm you up on a cold day. Enjoy!

Yields 6 hearty servings

Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

10 minPrep Time

1 hr, 15 Cook Time

1 hr, 25 Total Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 2 lb. Roma tomatoes, cut in half
  • 3/4 onion, rough chopped
  • 7 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 4-5 large carrots, rough chopped
  • 1/3 c. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 c. (32 oz.) vegetable broth (or chicken broth)
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 t. red pepper flakes
  • 3-4 T. basil pesto
  • Grilled Cheese croutons
  • 6 slices soft bread, any kind
  • 6 slices mild cheddar cheese
  • 3 slices mozzarella cheese
  • butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Lay tomatoes, chopped carrots and onion and smashed garlic on a sheet pan.
  3. Pour olive oil over vegetables and toss.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast in the oven at 375 degrees for one hour, gently tossing if needed half way through.
  6. When finished, let cool slightly.
  7. Using immersion blender or standard blender, puree vegetables until smooth.
  8. If needed, use some of the broth to loosen the vegetables.
  9. Once smooth, pour pureed soup into soup pot and add balsamic vinegar, red pepper flakes and basil pesto.
  10. Let simmer for a few minutes while you make the grilled cheese.
  11. Smooth butter on one side of the bread, top with two slices of cheddar cheese and one slice of mozzarella cheese.
  12. Finish with one more slice of buttered bread.
  13. Toast until bread is golden and crispy.
  14. Cut off crusts and then cube the sandwich.
  15. Garnish each bowl of soup with a handful of croutons.
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http://www.thecomforttable.net/roasted-tomato-soup-with-grilled-cheese-croutons/

 

Whole30: Why I chose to tackle Whole30 and why you should too

I started Whole30 for the completely self-serving purpose of losing weight.  That is the truth.  There were some other things I was hoping to accomplish along the way, but honestly, I just wanted to lose some pounds and prove that I could actually cut. out. the. carbs.  (Why do we love carbs so much?!!?!?!) 

Honestly, I have done Weight Watchers (which among other programs, I see this as being one of the better ones), Medifast (I started losing my HAIR because of this one!  Whaaaat?), My Fitness Pal and various forms of “eat-nothing-you-like-and-you’ll-lose-weight” plans.  Clearly, if I have done that many, nothing has really stuck.  Reading different reviews of Whole30 intrigued me.

Here are the reasons I wrote down in my journal for starting (and finishing) Whole30:

Kick sugar addiction
Enjoy “treat” foods in moderation
Understand what food can do for my body
Understand my cravings and habits and use the knowledge to make better choices on a regular basis
Possibly eliminate headaches?
Gain more energy to spend with my kids
Regulate blood sugar issues

Couple of things you need to know:  Whole30 is an elimination eating plan (not a diet) to allow you assess how your body reacts to certain types of foods (i.e. dairy, grains/gluten, legumes, sugar, alcohol, MSG, sulfites and carrageennan).   It is called Whole30 because it wants you to be reintroduced to whole foods.  {Have you met squash before?  Yes?  Oh, a long time ago.  Let me reintroduce you!!}  I felt like I needed to relearn what REAL food looked and tasted like.

This program focuses on choosing to eliminate processed and other gut-busting foods for 30 days and then sloooowly reintroduce them to see how your body reacts.  It is NOT intended to be Whole365.  However, its creators, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, would hope that over the 30 days you would identify some of your own triggers, what aggravates your gut and use that knowledge to move forward into a new healthy lifestyle.

My husband graciously agreed to do this with me, though he needed me to do all the meal planning and prep.  Normally I do most of this for him already, but Whole30 does require a good amount of planning, shopping (you will be buying all fresh produce and meats so you need to replenish often) and chopping.  As Americans, we use carbs as fillers ALL. THE. TIME.  Making tacos?  Let’s have rice!  Chicken parmesan?  A side of pasta!  How about a steak?  Mashed potatoes!!  Don’t have time to wait for chicken to defrost?  How about a sad excuse for protein slapped between two pieces of bread!!

“But hey!!  I added lettuce!  That’s a veggie!”
Ummmm.  No.  One wafer thin leaf of iceberg lettuce does not mean you ate your vegetable–singular!–today.
You see what I’m getting at.  I needed to know I could actually do it.

My mom loves to tease me about how my generation is solely focused on healthy eating and lifestyles.  I get it, and yes I believe we are.  BUT, I think that is a GOOD thing.  My parents played kickball and baseball outside until they were called in.  Our generation is inside playing on the iPad.  Yes, our kids might be better at computers but we have such an epidemic of childhood obesity it scares me for my own kids.  I want them to see that, yes, you can have cake at a birthday party, and something delicious at a carnival but you must also know your way around a rainbow of vegetables.  You don’t have to like all of them, I certainly don’t, but you need to find some that you do.  And how will they know which ones they like if they only know baby carrots and corn on the cob?

Ultimately, I wanted to answer some questions for myself and then hopefully pass on some of this new knowledge to my kids.   My kids need to see me saying no to unhealthy things and yes to things that fuel my body.  They need to know what “moderation” actually looks like.  In the next part of this series, I will talk about getting ready to do your own Whole30 and how to plan to successfully start (and finish!) your own Whole30.

Have you ever considered doing Whole30?  What is holding you back?  What would be your reasons for tackling it?  What would you hope to accomplish if you tried it?

10 Places I find my Comfort Table

I have told you what a Comfort Table is, but some of you might still be unsure of what that looks like for you.  So, in a effort to clarify and help you get to know a bit more about me, I’m sharing my top 10 places I find my Comfort Table.

           Image result for lake michigan photos

  1. Being near the water and the beach.  I grew up going to Lake Michigan as a child,  moved to Chicago after college (right off the lake) and have traveled to many, many beaches.  As cliche as it sounds, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, the sound of the waves, I love it all.  Back when I was teaching high school in Chicago, I would escape to western Michigan before the school year started to get some much needed “beach-therapy”.
  2. Displaying IMG_7371.jpeg
    Drinking coffee with my favorite people in my favorite city.

    A good cup of coffee.
    After seeing my whole bean coffee, grinder and sheer amount of coffee in my home, people often call me a coffee snob…and I completely agree with them!  There will always be a release in my shoulders, a deep sigh and great comfort in smelling and sipping on a great cup of coffee.  I love how cozy it makes you feel.  If I have had the pleasure of sharing coffee with you, consider yourself family.  To me, it feels the same as sharing a wonderful meal together.

  3. Making the ultimate comfort food for those you love.  I love to cook and bake for my family and friends.  When I know a guest in my home hasn’t eaten in a while, I become very anxious and annoy them mercilessly until they allow me to feed them.  I love to share food that people haven’t tried before and I get deep satisfaction when my guests and family really enjoy the food I make.  It is good for my soul to feed them and I hope they consider it good when they have been fed.
  4. Reading a great book.  It is funny what reading has done for my mental space lately.  When I read in the afternoons I find that the circus that is happening in my brain from being a mom of three young kids quiets considerably and I am able to focus so much better on the rest of my day.  Since 2014, I have read over 90 books and each year I’m pushing to read more.  I love it, find myself learning something new everyday and enjoy it even more when a book reminds me of why I love great story.  I look forward to sharing some of my recommendations soon!
  5. Attending a great bible study.  I love to dive deep into the Word and study it with great richness.  It is also rewarding to get to know the community of people that I study alongside.  I have been so blessed by my home church in the many opportunities they offer: the moms groups, bible studies and teaching are fresh and inspiring.  I have seen great growth in our whole family since attending and I look forward to many more years to come!  If you are looking for a church in the western suburbs of Chicago, check it out!
  6. A long chat with a great friend (especially catching up with one who lives far away!).   Some of my dearest friends live SO FAR.  I’m in Chicago and I have Minnesota, Texas, Tennessee, south Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina.  See what I mean??  Great news:  Great places to visit!!!  Bad news: I never get to see these people.  My soul feels like it is parched when I don’t get to talk to these people.  And motherhood and marriage and work and life just make it hard to connect.  These days I feel like I can barely finish a sentence with my neighbor about trash pickup much less have a full on conversation with someone who means something to me (no offense to my neighbors!).  So when I do, it does my soul good.
  7. Giving someone the perfect gift.  Have you heard about The Five Love Languages?  Well, one of the ways I love to show love to people is through gifts.  I am ridiculous about gifts.  I spend so much time trying to think of and find the perfect gift.  My husband is the opposite.  Gift cards, all day, everyday.  And generic ones too!  I LOVE getting gift cards but I HATE giving them.  I like personal gifts, particularly ones that show I know that person well enough to buy something they would love or appreciate.
  8. Travel.  I love learning about new places and cultures, particularly through the food.  I have been to Russia, the Bahamas, Spain, France, Belgium and Amsterdam and many states across the US.  I’ve even had the opportunity to visit each Central American country when I lived in Honduras for two years with my first teaching job.
  9. Music that evokes emotions.  I think I crushed my Dad a bit the day I told him I would no longer pursue medicine but instead wanted to study music in college (sorry, Dad).  He often told me, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,”  and at that time I loved singing.  So I got my degree in vocal music education.  That degree gave me the opportunity to travel (see #8), have a career and to sing.  I was able to see each one of the countries above simply because of my music degree.  I am always amazed at how music can deeply affect the human soul and the emotions that can return when hearing a song.
  10. Home.  My childhood home was in Indiana, but when I was in college my parents moved.  I suddenly realized that my home could no longer be a place or a house.  After that, I moved 13 times in 12 years.  How do you make a home when you keep moving???  You begin to realize it is the people, the rituals, the memories that make a house a home.  It is the people you welcome and the refuge you offer.  It is celebrations and heartbreaks and recovery and getting back up again.  Home is where you are the most you and allows you and your loved ones to live life together.

What would you consider to be the places of your Comfort Table?