Currently….

Currently :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I Am Currently…..

Wearing

These workout tights.

The search is over. From here on out, I will buy no other workout bottoms. The moment that I tried them on, I knew there would be no other.

The fabric feels like butter. That sounds so silly, but I can’t think of a better way to describe it. They are light & breathable.

They have just the right amount of compression, so they stay put, but don’t show too much. I ran an entire 5K and didn’t have to adjust or pull the pants up once. That never happens for me.

The only reason that I ordered white was because that was the only color on sale (and on sale with an additional discount is the only way that I can afford Athelta). You cannot see through them. I’m not sure how that’s possible, but it is.

Reading

Suffering by Paul David Tripp

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that I said I was reading this book a few months ago.

And I was.

Then I wasn’t.

I got a few chapters in and didn’t pick it up again. But I decided that it is going to be the book that I read for the month of February, so I am determined to read it.

It is really good and I highlight recommend it. But it is a hard read. It is hard, raw truth.

And it will be a miracle if I actually finish it by the end of the month.

Eating

Lemon Blueberry Bread from Tastes Better From Scratch

Each week, my husband and I have an at-home date night and we take turns planning the evening. A few weeks ago, my husband suggested that we bake a new recipe together, and I dug this one up from the caverns of Pinterest. I’ve had this recipe pinned for over eight years and just tried it.

Do yourself a favor and don’t wait eight years to make this bread.

It is delicious and would be a special breakfast treat or an evening snack.

Watching

Fixer Upper.

I’m well aware that I’m five years late on this trend.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen the show by any means, but I was sick last week and binged 2 seasons and loved every single second.

I hate being cliche and loving what everyone else loves, but I can’t help myself with this show. It is just so darn enjoyable.

Loving

Roomba

I’ve wanted a Roomba vacuum since I was in college. I wish I was kidding about this, but I’m not.

The battery on our cordless Dyson is dying a slow death and can no longer last long enough to vacuum our entire upstairs, so it was time to replace it.

After an embarrassing amount of research, we decided to go with the robotic vacuum. We still have the Dyson and use it for all of the other tasks that don’t involve vacuuming our floors on a daily basis.

I’ve been saving Target gift cards and gift money for the last year and pooled it all together when Target ran a sale on Roomba and made the purchase. Yes, you read that right. I saved my money and gift cards to purchase a vacuum. And I have zero shame about it.

We have really dark wood floors that show everything, so this press a button, walk away and come back to clean floors thing is AWESOME.

Thinking

It’s time to add a ‘Listening’ category to this little installment.

Frankly, I’m a more avid listener than I am a watcher or a reader.

As evidenced by my earlier reading category, I don’t always read or watch something new each month. But I listen to a new podcast every month. Or every week.

I just started listening to Throughline and it is fantastic.

Are you a fan of podcasts? What are your favorites?

Toddler Lunches

GoGo SqueeZ Apple Pumpkin Spice pouches - a great snack for a pumpkin birthday party :: maximizingdaysblog.com

About 2 years ago, I wrote about what my kids ate for breakfast, lunch & supper in a week. Now that I no longer need to adapt meals for an 18 month-old who can’t chew well, I thought I’d do a little update.

I also learned to not try to reinvent the wheel each week with our lunch menu.

It used to be, every week, as I’d meal plan, I’d sit with a blank slate and try to be creative with my kids’ lunches. After reading A Simplified Life last summer, I realized that this was completely unnecessary.

Now, I assign a lunch meal to each day of the week so that it’s one less decision that I have to make each week. I thought that when we needed a change of pace, I would change it up. That was in September, and no one’s bored yet. And my kids still eat what I put on their plate each day, so we’re going with it.

Toddler Lunch Building Blocks :: maximizingdaysblog.com

When it is time to decide what to put on their plates, I find it’s easiest to use a “structure”.

For me, it helps to have a reference point. So, I start with the building blocks for each meal and go from there.

Toddler Lunch Building Blocks

  1. Vegetable
  2. Protein
  3. Fruit
  4. Dairy
  5. Carb

Your building blocks may be different depending on how your family eats. That’s fine. Make your own building blocks list and then list what foods fall into each box.

Get Out of the Lunch Rut

1 – Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Don’t do what I did. Don’t feel like you need to come up with something new and creative each day each week. It’s just not necessary.

Maybe your kids would get bored eating the same thing every Monday. That’s understandable. Then make the same 5 lunches each week and switch up the days. Or come up with 7 lunches and pick 5 each week.

Simple doesn’t have to equal boring.

2 – Make a List

Write down a list of lunches so you don’t have to “come up with something” each day. Get your kids involved and have them pick which meal from the list gets eaten on which day.

3 – Prep Your Produce

Cut up fresh fruits and vegetables ahead of time. This turns ‘making lunch’ into ‘putting food on plates’, which is much easier and faster.

I’m lazy. I’m a lot less likely to give my kids peppers if the pepper is whole and in a crisper drawer than I am if it’s chopped and ready to be eaten.

4 – Don’t Overcomplicate

This sounds the same as ‘Don’t Reinvent the Wheel’, and it kind of is. But it’s good to make the point again.

Sandwiches are fine. String cheese and crackers never killed anyone (okay, so that might not be true, but you get my point).

Do not fall into the trap of thinking you have to make the most creative, delicious, nutritious lunch every day. Give your kid food that nourishes them. That’s it. Don’t let it become more than that.

Our Weekly Menu

Monday – Muffin Tin Monday

Muffin Tin Mondays :: maximizingdaysblog.com - Fill a muffin tins with Veggies, Fruits, Meat, Cheese, Crackers & Condiments. No plates or silverware needed. Easy lunch that your kids will love.

We started this last summer when I saw it on Instagram (social media is good for something!). My kids just think it’s the bees knees. I don’t even know what the appeal is, but they love it.

2 Proteins, 2 Veggies, 2 Fruits & 3 C’s (Crackers, Cheese & Condiments). And DONE.

Tuesday – Chicken Nuggets, String Cheese, Peppers & Strawberries

Toddler Lunches :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I have a thing about chicken nuggets in the microwave. And my thing is that I just can’t do it. Soggy when they should be crunchy? No, thank you.

We don’t go anywhere Tuesday mornings, which allows the 45 minutes that it takes for the oven to preheat and then to cook the nuggets, so that’s our rocket science reason we eat chicken nuggets on Tuesday.

Dino Chicken nuggets because why even bother with any other kind.

Wednesday – Meat & Cheese Roll-Ups, Crackers, Cucumbers & Oranges

This meal comes together in less than 90 seconds. Which is what I need on Wednesdays.

The kids get to choose their meat (I offer whatever sandwich meat we have in the fridge) & cheese (we usually have 4-5 kinds of sliced cheese in the fridge because I’m weird like that). Grab some cut up fruits & veggies and throw in some crackers for good measure.

Thursday – Mac & Cheese, Meat Sticks, Frozen Peas & Grapes

Toddler Lunches :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Yep. I’ve become a Minnesotan. In these parts, I consider processed meat wrapped in casing protein.

And I don’t know what it is about frozen peas, but my kids love it. I can’t take them out of the freezer too soon before putting them on their plate otherwise they won’t be cold enough. You can’t make this stuff up.

Friday – Rice Cakes, Peppers, Go-Gurt & Kiwi

Toddler Lunches :: maximizingdaysblog.com

This is the meal where the condiments – peanut butter & hummus – count as protein. And what they don’t have, the go-gurt makes up for. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Toddler Lunches  :: maximizingdaysblog.com

P.S. Read more about my meal simplification journey here or my favorite lunch recipe here.

What do you find to be the hardest part about making your kids’ lunches?

Currently….

Currently :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I Am Currently…..

Wearing

These jeans.

I caved. I gave into the high-waisted trend and it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

LISTEN UP LADIES. High-waisted jeans aren’t just for the people who pair them with a crop top. They hold in any extra “stuff” (shall we say) in the mid-section. Hallelujah!

These particular jeans have an 8″ rise, which is great. But if you’re looking for a little more coverage, I also have a 9″ rise, which is what I wear with any tops that are more fitted in the mid-section.

I don’t remember the last time that I felt this good about how I looked in a pair of jeans. They’re that good.

Sizing note: I have found that I can wear one size smaller in high-rise jeans than I do in “regular” jeans because my belly button – where they hit – is the thinnest part of my waist.

Reading

The One & Only by Emily Giffin

One my annual goals for 2019 is to read one book a month. This is a STREEEEEETCH for me. I’m not a good, fast or frequent reader. But I want to be, so this is how I’ve decided to try to achieve that goal.

I decided to start off the year with an easy, guilty pleasure read to grease the skids, so to speak.

I’ve read most of Emily Giffin’s other books and thoroughly enjoyed them. They’re cheesy and slightly trashy (one might say), but she tells a good story and develops characters well. And this particular story has college football as it’s background, so I was an easy sell.

Eating

Avocado Sweet Potato Toast

Every.Single.Day for breakfast.

This has been true for a while, but until this weekend, it was missing one key ingredient. Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel seasoning.

We live where there is no civilization. At least it feels like it with the nearest Trader Joe’s being 3 hours away.

So I’ve happily eaten this toast sans the seasoning for breakfast every day for the last few months.

DON’T SKIP THE SEASONING!

The toast is good without it. It is delicious with it.

Watching

I’ll tell you what I’m NOT watching.

The Marie Kondo show on Netflix.

And not because I don’t want to or don’t think I’d enjoy it. Just because I am thisclose to finishing season 5 of The Blacklist and I cannot be interrupted.

But for all of those who have asked, yes, I will definitely watch it.

I will say that I get a little leary watching those kinds of shows because a lot of them show the most extreme cases which 1) makes my chest tight to see and 2) can give people a false hope of what’s realistic in the end.

But once Elizabeth Keen figures out who killed Tom, I will be all over watching Marie work her magic.

Loving

A Standard of Grace Journal

My sister-in-law bought this for me for Christmas and only three weeks in, I love it.

After reading Grace Not Perfection for the first time, I wanted to go back through and read it a second time to really think through and process so much of what the author teaches.

But see my aforementioned habits regarding reading above.

This journal is fantastic because it takes the teaching points from Grace Not Perfection and breaks them up into 52 “sections” – one for each week.

So, each week, there is a thought nugget & scripture. Then, she asks two related questions that help you think through where you’re at with that specific issue and apply it to where you are.

I’ve never kept a journal in my life. But now, I have come to look forward to my Tuesday morning “journaling”.

NOTE: You do not have to have read Grace Not Perfection to enjoy or get something out of the journal. But if you have read it, the journal helps you put her thoughts into action.

Thinking

That there is a LOT to be said for making your house your home.

We recently made a small design change in our Dining Room. It was something that we had talked about doing since we moved in over two years ago, but the urgent crowded out the pretty, and we are just now getting to it.

When I stand at my kitchen island – which, let’s be honest, is where I spend a LOT of my time – this is my view. And it fills my heart.

Who knew that little shiplap, some corbels and Ikea photo frames could make such a difference? Not me.

I’m still trying to figure out how to decorate it. That will take me longer than it should.

Any tips on what to put on the ledge? Should I keep the frames layered? Or space them out a little bit? I want to put more than just photos in the frames (because that’s kind of a lot of just our faces), but am not good at picking out art.

Any input on what should go in the frames would be much appreciated. Thank in advance.

A Simplified Life – 6 months later

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that, along with thousands of others, I’ve been doing the Simplicity Challenge.

The Simplicity Challenge is one task every day for 30 days. Each task takes less than 15 minutes and costs $0. Once you’ve completed every task, you will have made leaps toward simplifying your life.

It’s not too late to jump on board! Follow Simplified on Instagram and start Day 1 today!!

It’s a little more than half-way through the challenge, and I’ve realized how much going through A Simplified Life last summer has helped in my simplifying journey and really set me up for success.

After spending the entire summer talking about this and continuing to work through the exercises this fall, I thought it would be fun to do a little check up.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Biggest Difference

Simplified Schedule

After reading this chapter, my husband and I took the time and did the work of figuring out what we have been spending our time on. It was mostly good stuff, but after tracking our days, we realized that there were also chunks of time that weren’t being used well.

Which is totally fine if you don’t have a lot to do, don’t feel overwhelmed and don’t get that pit in your stomach when asked to add something to your calendar. But we were none of those things.

So we judiciously went through our calendars – AND habits – and weeded out what wasn’t necessary. We also made a list of what we want to do more.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Simplifying our schedule wasn’t just about not doing stuff I didn’t want to do or having an excuse to not do hard stuff. It was about creating margin to DO WHAT MATTERS.

Six months later, we are reaping the benefits. Our pace is much slower and calmer. We definitely still have hectic days, but they are the exception to the rule

Biggest Lifestyle Change

Simplified Technology

This was the first change I made. While I was reading the book (the first time), before even finishing the rest of it, I put her suggestions into practice.

Simplifying Technology has dramatically changed my days.

I am not beholden to notifications on my phone. I no longer wake up to my phone and start my day by scrolling through a screen. And I am finally making (imperfect) photo albums to have hard copies of precious photos.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Still Have a Long Ways to Go On

All of the areas.

But seriously, I’d have to say Finances.

It is a daily surrender to admit that we can’t have everything that we want and even if we could, that relying on all of these things to bring us joy will end badly.

It is a big heart issue for us and we are chipping away at it a little at a time.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

WIP (Work in Progress)

Simplified Space

I got through about 75% of our house, but now enough time has passed that I wonder if I should just start all over again…..

Simplified hosts the Ruthless Declutter Challenge in the spring, so I may take advantage of that and finish the task then.

#simplifiedsummer challenge - A Simplified Life by Emily Ley :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Overall, it is not an understatement to say that this book has changed my life. I said it six months ago, but six months later, I’m seeing how these seemingly small changes have made my life more like what I aspire it to be and that is such an encouragement.

I am so thankful for this journey. If you or anyone you know is feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, start HERE. You will not regret it.

A Simplified Life - 6 Months Later :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Have you read A Simplified Life yet? What have you found to be the biggest difference that it has made in your daily life?

Currently….

Currently :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I Am Currently…..

Wearing

This pullover.

It’s all over the internet and goes on sale occasionally, sells out frequently and is restocked almost as frequently.  If they don’t have it in your size or color, wait.  They will.  The sell-outs usually line up with when it goes on sale (best price I’ve seen is 50% off).  My patience paid off, so yours should too.

It is the warmest and most comfortable thing I’ve worn in a long time.  I’ve started wearing it as part of a “normal” outfit, but I also put it on in the evenings to warm up before I go to bed.  It’s like pre-pajamas.  

Currently Wearing - Abercrombie Assymetrical Pullover :: maximzingdaysblog.com

Reading

Oh Crap! Potty Training

Exciting, right?  Real life, my friend.  Real.Life.

Our five year-old essentially potty trained herself, so not only do I have no clue how to potty train, I also have astronomically unrealistic expectations.  A friend recommended it to me because they were in a similar situation and she found it to be really helpful.

I’m so hoping that that’s the case for us as well.  

Eating

Protein & Veggie Loaded Black Bean Avocado Salad :: maximizingdaysblog.com

This black bean and avocado salad.

It’s a shameless plug, but it’s the truth. 

We’ve had a number of appetizer potluck Christmas parties recently, and I brought this salad to a few of them so that I could give myself at least one healthy option.

Before this, it had been a few months since I’d made this salad, and I forgot how good it is.  

Watching

Mad About You.

Yep.  The sitcom from twenty years ago.  I watched it when it was on originally, and it is even more funny to me now.  

I love to have a “background show” – a TV show that can play in the background while I’m doing things that require little thought.  A background show has to be one that I’ve seen before so that when I miss parts, I’m not lost.

This show is SO FUNNY.  If you never watched, start now.  See why Helen Hunt won, like, 16 Emmy awards.

Loving

Currently Loving - Yeti 14 oz. Tumbler :: maximzingdaysblog.com

The Yeti rambler mug.

My daughter, trying her hardest to be helpful with preparations for Thanksgiving dinner offered to dry dishes.  Super sweet, but ended with her dropping my ceramic to-go mug on the floor and it shattering in pieces all over the floor.  (No one was harmed).

My husband received a Yeti tumbler for his birthday last year and I’ve used it a couple times.  It almost does too good of a job keeping drinks warm.  I tried to drink my tea AN HOUR after brewing it and it still burnt my mouth.

This mug is great because it is transportable but also works great at home when you don’t have to go anywhere.  I can’t tell you how long it keeps my coffee hot because I always finish it while it’s still hot.  But that’s usually an hour after brewing it.

Thinking

That we are reaping the benefits of our efforts to simplify the holidays.  

I am honestly enjoying all of the festivities (of which there haven’t been an overwhelming amount) and find myself excitedly anticipating Christmas instead of dreading that there isn’t enough time to get everything done.

This has been a real lesson learned.