meal planning and healthy eating

One of the biggest goals I’ve had through this year was using meal planning as a way to be more budget conscience while also eating healthy foods. I’ll admit, this can be a big struggle. For one, I like going out to eat. For another, I can get lazy when it comes to my food, because it seems like a lot of work for one person. Still, for the past five weeks I have done a fairly good job or sticking to my meal plan by adding a few regular recipes and meals to my plan.

Here’s a look at some of the go-to foods I’ve been turning to in the interest of being fiscally responsible, time efficient, and healthy. (I do shake things up occasionally, but these are regularly on the schedule.)


  • Green smoothie (I follow this plan)
  • Mug eggs (I use a simplified version of this recipe from The Chic Site) with a berry and Greek yogurt parfait
  • Flax seed waffles or vegetarian omelette (on the weekends)


  • Light Cesar salad mix with tuna and hard-boiled egg and an apple or carrots as a side
  • Quinoa enchilada bake (this is heaven)
  • Mason Jar salad (which I’ve blogged about before)


  • Spaghetti squash (microwaved then served with a marinara sauce or faux burger/sausage–I plan to try a pad thai soon)
  • Tofu and veggie stir fry (my favorite subs quinoa for rice with a lime and garlic based sauce)

I’m also paying attention to what I eat at restaurants. I have tried and true (and healthy and economical) favorites at the restaurants I frequent, and I make sure to get my fiber and protein in for the day.

I’m also working on spreading my eating out throughout the day. My new favorite snack is sliced peppers with a 100-calorie portion of guacamole. It’s so delicious.

Most importantly, I’m starting to see results: in how I feel, in my bank account, and on the scale. What more can you ask for?


one step at a time

When I look at our list of goals, some of them seem huge and overwhelming. Like writing a book (which is probably the biggest goal I have), working on our house (so many projects to do), and even writing a note once a month (which I am failing massively at by the way). But shockingly (or maybe not if you know me well), the goal I am having a really hard time with lately is unplugging.

I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and online TV while I’ve been working on projects and such, and there’s a commercial that keeps playing that talks about missing moments now to check other moments, and something about that really resonated with me. I know that I have an addiction to my phone, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Email, etc., which is why I made the goal in the first place.

So my real focus for now is to figure out how to break those bad habits, and I’m going to start with not having my phone so accessible at all times. I think I am going to stop bringing my phone out of my room when I’m home with Broderick, so I’m not tempted to check it instead of spending time with him. It’s not missing those moments by checking others.

camp NaNo winner!


As you may remember from earlier this month, I have been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo during the month of July. I set a goal of 20,000 words and I am happy to announce that I did it! It was the first time o have been able to meet my goal during one of these months so it feels extra exciting.

Not only do I have 20,000 words down for my book, but I also learned how to incorporate a writing habit into my daily life. Once I sat down to think about it and plan for it (and let’s be honest: make it a priority) it felt great to actually write. I also think 20.000 words a month is a good goal to shoot for every month.

I also learned that it’s important to just get words on the page. After talking with Laura many times during the month (writing with a friend made it extra fun) I have come to equate this draft and the overall process like buying a fixer upper house. Right now, I’m working on my fixer upper words, getting the structure and story in place so that later I can go back and put a cosmetic touch on them so they look better. You know I love houses, especially fixer uppers, so this has really helped me get my writing done.

staycation’s where i wanna be

On Friday, I’ll begin something I’ve been looking forward to for months. I’ll begin a week of vacation (which will actually be a staycation this year for budgetary purposes). After the busy schedule at work the past six months (or rather, two years!), I’m looking forward to taking this week away from the office to focus on other parts of my life. In my excitement, I created a Pinterest board of recipes, activities and more. I’ll admit, I may have a few too many goals for my week away from work (it is, after all, just one week), but because many of these goals are one and the same as the ones I have for Defining 30, I figure they’re worth going after.

Goal 1: Enjoy the moment, enjoy life.
This goal almost didn’t make it on my list, because it doesn’t seem productive or even measurable. But when I think about what I most hope to accomplish during my vacation, this is my primary objective. It feels a little selfish, but meh.

Goal 2: Do some serious damage on the first draft of Book 5.
Camp National Novel Writing Month ends on July 31, which happens to fall during my staycation. While I’m already well near my word count goal for the month (and I finished the first draft of Book 4) I’d like to keep up the writing momentum. One of the joys of taking a whole week off from my job is the opportunity to pretend for one week that I’m a full-time author. After spending a couple of years writing with fear and anxiety, I seem to have worked out a decent balance as of late: keeping enough of the fear to strive to do my best while also not letting it keep me from going forward. That’s one of the goals of NaNoWriMo–to write without abandon. And it’s a wonderful feeling.

Goal 3: De-clutter my apartment.
While I’m by no means in need of an intervention via Hoarders, I do find myself frequently overwhelmed by the amount of objects I have. I’m blessed to have what I have, but I realize a lot of my clothes, dishes and so on could go to better use in a different home.

Goal 4: Prepare for the launch of Book 3.
I’ve already written a bunch of blog posts and brainstormed ideas for the upcoming launch of my third novel. But there’s more to be done, and I really need to piece it all together to make a cohesive plan.

Goal 5: Reboot my healthy lifestyle.
I was doing such a good job of eating well and exercising. And then I abandoned it, because when I get stressed I get lazy and overeat. But because I’ll be living a nice and happy little staycation life, maybe I can get back in the groove. I have some new exercises and recipes to try. I’m pretty excited about all of them.

So wish me luck as I prepare for Staycation. Any tips?


take it outside

Every year after the Fourth of July, I feel like the summer just flies by. It doesn’t help that pretty much every weekend from now until the middle of August has something fun happening, which makes the time go by even faster. This summer has been pretty laid back and more importantly, cool, which means that I’ve been able to spend a lot of time outside with Broderick and Shelby.

We’ve been able to go to the pool, swim in the backyard, go on walks, play in the water table, watch Dad play ultimate Frisbee, walk around campus, and go to the playground. He loves the slide, and even goes down the big kid slides. The animal rocker thing–not as sure on that.


We’ve also been able to go out–visiting state parks, spending time with friends and family, and even planning a few date nights.

And of course, the house projects are never ending. Hopefully a few half-finished projects will get done soon…updates coming soon…

happy birthday, l.c.

Sunday was my 29th birthday. That means Whitney and I have one year to finish all of the goals we set for ourselves. Some of those goals seem readily achievable. Others, well, realistically they might not happen.

Aside from being the day I became another year older, my birthday marked another occasion of sorts. The mayhem at work is officially done. I’m sure there will be other pockets of insanity going forward, but we’ve made it through the transition of leadership, the building expansion, the ribbon cutting, and the public reopening.

Both of these facts have me feeling more motivated than ever to fulfill those goals in the next year. The big ones on my mind are about my writing and my health. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve fallen way off the wagon again in terms of exercising regularly and eating well. I’m optimistic I can change that now that I may have the possibility to create more of a schedule that isn’t dependent on total mayhem 40 hours (and beyond) each week. And it couldn’t come a moment too soon.

As I nursed a hangover from having way too much fun on my birthday (for a woman who is no longer in her early 20s and can’t bounce back as quickly) it really occurred to me that I haven’t been treating my body like the temple it is. That needs to change.

I also signed a contract to publish my third book on my birthday. That means I need to focus on finishing my next couple of projects if I want to fulfill my dream of writing and publishing two new books each year.

There’s a lot to do, but hopefully I’m up for the challenge.

travel dreams

I almost accomplished my goal of booking a vacation somewhere I’ve never been. And by almost, I mean I researched flights, created a day by day travel plan, and verified I had enough vacation time available. It was a pretty exciting couple of weeks while I imagined taking this trip, visiting many places I’ve never seen.

I have a bit of what I like to call the Belle Effect, meaning I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, and I want it more than I can tell.


But unfortunately this year those travel dreams aren’t possible. I do have a few travel plans and with wonderful people, but they’re all to places I have already been. (I do have a business trip to Indianapolis tentatively scheduled, which would technically be a new place, but… I’m not counting it. The point of this goal was to challenge myself to go somewhere new on an adventure and experience and see new things, not work.)

So because this goal won’t likely be accomplished until 2016–which is fine, because I don’t turn 30 until June 14, 2016–today I wanted to share a few of my dream adventure scenarios.

1. Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina
In this trip, I’d likely travel mainly along the coast visiting places like Savannah, Charleston, and Myrtle Beach, while also going inland to places like Atlanta, and Raleigh/Durham. In a bonus scenario, I add on a few more days and visit Kentucky and Tennessee.

2. Alaskan Adventure
For this I’d fly into Anchorage, where I’d take some sort of whale viewing expedition and another trip north to Denali National Park (home of Denali, aka Mount McKinley). I also imagine I’ll be able to reach into streams and pull salmon out of the water, and it’s very probably I’ll find a husband, because I’ve been told men outnumber women there. (I also hear the men are away half the year working, which is really an ideal situation for me. I kid, I kid.)

3. The UK
I’ve been to London and Birmingham, but in this scenario I spend two full weeks on the islands and visit the north ends of Scotland, the southern coast (including Jane Austen spots) and potentially even visit Ireland, though I need to make sure I have enough time. I’d also like to return to London for a couple of days to see and experience many of the things I didn’t have a chance to that first time around. This is actually the trip that would most likely lead to me sending a letter home stating that I’m starting a new life abroad, and would someone please send me my cats and books posthaste?

If you were planning a trip somewhere you’ve never been, where would you most like to visit?