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?

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday :: maximzingdaysblog.com

Monday

Buttermilk Pancakes & Bacon

I found the BEST pancake recipe on Pinterest a few years ago (which I can’t find anymore…..), but decided that if there was going to be a better one, it would be in the Magnolia Table cookbook, so we gave it a shot. I wouldn’t say these were better, but they were just as good.

Tonight’s meal was born our of buttermilk in our fridge that was about to expire. We always keep a package of bacon in our fridge for just this occasion.

Normally, I make smoothies loaded with spinach when we have breakfast for supper so that there’s still a vegetable, but I was too tired tonight. So, no vegetables tonight.

Guess what? No one died.

Tuesday

Sausage, Egg & Cheese Biscuits

We wouldn’t normally eat breakfast for supper two nights in a row, but I had originally planned something different for tonight’s supper. During the day, I realized that I didn’t have a key ingredient to make it and didn’t want to run to the store.

For just these kinds of situations, I always have the stuff for “In A Pinch Meals”. These are meals that can be made from foods that have a relatively long shelf life or are staples that we always have in our fridge or pantry.

I used canned biscuits and frozen sausage patties. We eat cheese slices like it’s our job, so there’s always a selection of those.

I did make a smoothie with these sandwiches to get some fruits and veggies in with the carb & fat loaded goodness that are these breakfast sandwiches.

Wednesday

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets & Cauliflower Rice w/ Zucchini & Sweet Corn

I don’t like to use the words “Chicken Nuggets” to describe this, because that insinuates a kid food, but these are delicious no matter how old you are. This recipe started as one that I saw on Giada DeLaurentis’ cooking show over ten years ago, but I’ve adapted it so many times, that I think I can call this recipe my own.

Parmesan Chicken Nuggets

  • Cooking Spray
  • 3 to 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or “regular” milk)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  1. Pour buttermilk over chicken. Cover and refrigerate for, at least, a couple hours
  2. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F
  3. Cover 2 heavy large lined baking sheets with non-stick spray
  4. Mix the Parmesan cheeses, basil & bread crumbs in a gallon size ziploc bag
  5. Dump chicken in colander to drain excess buttermilk
  6. Add chicken to bag
  7. Seal and mix until coated
  8. Arrange the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly
  9. Bake until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 minutes

The key to this recipe is soaking the chicken in buttermilk (I’ve used “regular” milk when I haven’t had buttermilk and it works well too). As I understand it, the milk breaks down the proteins in the chicken, which makes it super tender.

The Parmesan Riced Cauliflower with Zucchini and Sweet Corn is from thygoodness.com. Do yourself a favor and MAKE THIS RECIPE. It’s so hearty that it could be it’s own meal.

My kids don’t like zucchini, so I just pull out the zucchini on their plates (and put it on mine).

Thursday

BBQ Pork & Penne Skillet

This was another Pinterest success. I had some leftover BBQ pulled pork and this made another meal from it.

Friday

Out to Eat

The kids didn’t have school, so we took advantage and hit the road for a fun day at the Children’s Museum.

We don’t eat out often, so this was a treat.

Saturday

Pizza & Smoothies

We postponed our regular Friday night pizza & movie until Saturday because the kids and I were gone on Friday night.

Pizza tastes just as good on Saturday as it does on Friday, in case you’re curious.

Sunday

Out To Eat

It was my husband’s grandpa’s birthday and all he wanted was to have his family go out to eat at the Pizza buffet. His wish was granted.

And I’m never going to complain about pizza two nights in a row.

Do you have a recipe that you got from somewhere but over time have changed to make it your own?

Family Bible Memory

Family Bible Memory :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I always wanted to be better at memorizing scripture. And to instill that habit in our kids.

But it didn’t happen.

The intention was there – and earnest – but there was no follow through. I kept getting held up by HOW we would do it and which verses to choose to memorize.

And, if I’m being totally honest, by wanting it to be pretty or fancy or cute.

After years of good intentions with no action following, I made decisions. One of our 2017 Annual Family goals was to memorize 12 passages of scripture.

That meant that, we as a family, would commit to memorizing one Bible verse a month for a year.

In order to do that, I had to get over my unrealistic expectations.

Instead of insisting on finding the prettiest or MOST PERFECT way to display the verse where we could see it, my husband found a chalkboard at Home Depot for $5 and we called it good (enough).

Family Bible Memory :: maximizingdaysblog.com
Chalkboard

HOW –> Write a verse on a chalkboard.

Then I typed “Bible Verse” into the Pinterest search bar and the first verse that came up was 2 Timothy 1:7 (Incorrectly written down and now memorized as 2 Timothy 2:17)

WHAT VERSE. –> Pick one verse from the Bible.

I also keep a note in my notes app on my phone and as I come across verses that would be good to memorize, I add them to that list.

For 2019, I used that notes app to pick all of the verses for the entire year, instead of trying to find next month’s verse on the last day of this month like I did in 2018.

You can come up with your own list, or feel free to use ours.

2018

2019

The next step was really hard. I wrote the assigned verse on the chalkboard.

That’s it. No art. No fancy calligraphy or lettering. Just wrote the verse on the board (in my sub-par handwriting) so that we could all read it.

Done.

Family Bible Memory :: maximizingdaysblog.com

We hung the chalkboard in the kids’ room and say the verse together every night as part of the kids’ bedtime routine.

For too long, I let perfectionism get in the way of what’s important.

This solution came because I was able to identify the hurdles to the things we wanted to do and solved those issues one at a time.

Some of that meant making a decision. Some of that meant doing some work (i.e. finding the chalkboard), but MOST OFTEN it means getting over yourself and setting realistic expectations.

Because, when we don’t, we lose out on the stuff that matters and let discontentment and guilt rule instead of truly enjoying the gifts we’ve been given.

What is one area of your life where the only thing you’d have to do accomplish what you want is to lower your unrealistic expectations?

P.S. For more about how we are trying to teach our children about faith, read about why we have our children sit with us in church and our simple Advent countdown.

Menu Plan Monday

Menu Plan Monday :: maximzingdaysblog.com

Monday

Pot Roast, Potatoes & Carrots

Roasts were on sale at the grocery store a few weeks ago and it was time to put that baby to use!

Pot Roast

  • 2-3 lb. chuck roast
  • Red Potatoes, chopped
  • Carrots, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 packet pot roast seasoning

Pour broth in crock pot and mix in seasoning. Place roast in pot. Place celery and carrots around the roast. Put chopped potatoes on top. Cover and cook on low 7-9 hours.

I like to take the potatoes out (that’s why I put them on top) and mash them with a little bit of butter and juice from the crock pot. They’re a funny brown color, but they’re, oh, so tasty.

Tuesday

Chili & Cornbread

My chili recipe is probably one of my greatest sources of pride. Mostly because I made it up all on my own. Through trial and error, I’ve found the perfect blend of what I’m looking for in chili.

I’ve even considered entering my chili in some (very informal, unofficial) chili competitions.

Kristin Chili

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. stew meat
  • 1 large yellow onion; minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • 1 15 oz. cans black beans; rinsed and drained
  • 2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes; undrained
  • 1 can sweet corn, drained
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 3 Tbsp. cumin
  • 1 packet chili seasoning
  • 3-4 cups tomato juice

In a large stock pot, cook ground beef, onion, green pepper & garlic until meat is almost brown. Add stew meat. Drain fat. Stir in everything else. Add tomato juice to desired thickness. Cook on low at least one hour (the longer, the better).

Wednesday

Pesto Paninis & Salad

This is one of my favorite meals for when we need something fast or we need something to go. Wrap the cooked sandwiches in parchment paper and they stay warm without getting soggy.

Pesto Panini

  • Favorite bread
  • Butter
  • Pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • Chopped chicken
  • Mozzarella cheese, sliced

Spread a slice of bread with butter on one side and pesto on the other. Place the bread, butter side down on a panini grill (we use a George Foreman grill). Top with one slice of cheese, chicken and other slice of cheese. Butter another slice of bread and place the non-buttered side down on the sandwich. Close the top and cook 6-8 minutes to desired doneness.

Thursday

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I serve these with oven fries (from the freezer section) if I’m trying to appease my family or raw veggies if I’m feeling healthy. Either/Or works.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

  • 1 lb. pork loin
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Hamburger buns

Put a thin layer of barbecue sauce on the bottom of a crock pot. Place the thawed pork loin in the crock, and top with more barbecue sauce. Cook on low 6-8 hours. When done, shred the pork and add more barbecue sauce as desired.

Friday

Pizza & Smoothies

I got the Standard of Grace journal for Christmas and I found myself writing this: “I think that my heart-bursting joy comes in providing stability for my family and prioritizing the “little things” – the simple stuff that become a foundation built on stability – i.e. Snacky Supper, Friday pizza & movie nights, Sunday open swims, Annual traditions, etc.”

I had no idea when we started this “Friday Pizza Night” thing last summer that it would come to mean so much to me.

I just thought it was an excuse to not have to cook on Fridays……

Saturday

Almond Chicken Tenderloins & Salad

This was one of the first recipes that I tried from the Magnolia Table cookbook and it is DIVINE.

I don’t, generally, fry foods in my own home, but I make an exception for this meal.

It’s not at all labor intensive, but for simplicity sake, my favorite pairings with these chicken tenderloins are a bagged salad and your favorite loaf of bread from your favorite bakery.

Sunday

Snacky Supper

See my note in Friday’s supper about the unexpected blessings of this tradition.

What’s your favorite recipe that you would enter in a competition?