Baby’s 1st Birthday

Oh my, this has been sitting in my drafts folder for-e-ver! I haven’t posted in a while so now is as good a time as any to share! As promised in a previous blog post and without further ado here are the details for Margaret’s 1st birthday. Hopefully you enjoy the pictures and maybe take something away for future kiddo’s birthday parties 🙂

** Warning, this post contains A LOT of photos. Why? Because it’s her birthday, she’s adorable, and I worked my butt off on it 🙂

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I was kind of on the fence about going ‘all out’ with a party for her. I mean, she’s 1, she wouldn’t remember it at all. Well, as more and more moms in my moms group were posting their ideas, themes, and cute crafts, I decided I definitely wanted to do something for her. Who doesn’t love time to celebrate with family anyways?! Our place is way to small to host a party so my in-laws hosted, such a gorgeous (spacious) home!

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‘Birthday suit’

When think about a theme the 1st thing that came to mind was that I wanted her to be able to wear this cream skirt with gold polka dots. I like to pair it with a cute pink and gold shirt she has so I thought getting a “one” onesie would be perfect! There was the ‘theme’ pink, cream, and gold. It’s not like she’s got anything in particular that she loves to use for a theme…unless I had done a food themed party (she l o v e s food!)… we did have a ton of food anyways.

 

IMG_9437I wanted to have a birthday chalkboard, but my writing is not pretty! Luckily someone in my moms group posted a link to a blog that walks you through doing your own online by downloading this program (I’ll search for the link and attach it when I find it). Be warned. If you use this website, once you save your chalkboard you can add to it, but you can not make changes to it. SO frustrating for me because my computer kept freezing and shutting down. I finally got it, and was very happy with the results. I printed it at Walgreens, it was the cheapest I found, and I googled coupons and got an addition % off! I definitely recommend googling coupons for everything you plan to purchase on line. I got a cheap frame from Hobby Lobby and that was that. 1 thing down!

I wanted to have a banner hanging saying “Happy Birthday”, and in an effort to save money (seriously party planning sucks up money f a s t!) and because I wanted it to be really sparkly I decided to make my own. I drew up a template for my triangles, and then cut out the desired amount in light pink & dark pink. I had some alphabet stencils I had bought last year so I used them to trace on the letters (leaving room for the top to fold over the string). I then ordered a big ol’ jar of gold glitter off handy dandy amazon and a friend and I used modge podge to stick it to the letters. FYI if you go this route put the glue on generously, it stays wet longer and the glitter looks much better. Once you cover the glue in the glitter gently use your finger to pat it down to make sure it’s stinking (but not too hard). I was SO happy with the result. Be warned this is messy. make sure you do it over something that can contain the inevitable glitter mess.

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I decided to make cupcakes instead of a cake for all the guests and we were expecting 22 so it was perfect! I used Duncan Hines vanilla mix because my mom swears it is superior to Betty Crocker, sorry Betty, Mom knows her baking! I made icing and divided it into three bowls before colouring. The cream was good because the vanilla made it ever so slightly off white, the light pink was a couple drops of red food colouring, and the dark pink was a number of red and 1-2 drops of blue food colouring. I used some pink cups (but they didn’t look too pink afterwards), and gold foil ones (loved these!) I then sprinkled them with some sprinkles, glittery sprinkles, and tiny balls. Once again, so happy with how these came out. Now I know how my mom feels staying up until 2am doing cupcakes… and I was only doing 24 simple ones!
PS: check out her work here. It’s uh-may-zing!

I also wanted to do something to decorate her highchair so I made a ‘skirt’ to go around her tray. I used tissue paper, as well as some gold ’tissue paper’ from Party City (it was not tissue, but it looked good!) I cut the paper into 3 sections and then folded those in 1/2 length wise. I then cut strips about 1/2″ wide all the way up, leaving about 1-2″ before hitting where the fold was at the top. I would then unfold the paper and lay it flat. I had originally been rolling it up like a rug with the dangly ends on the outsides but it wasn’t working to well. So I folded/scrunched it up in the middle. Then I twisted it in the centre and folded the twisted part in 1/2 to make a loop (where the string could go through to hang it). I used a thin piece of tape to keep the loop in place. When I was done I strung them all up, and tapped it to the highchair once we were at the party. It was really time consuming cutting all the fringe parts of each tassel, but it’s mindless work and I got to choose my colours, so it was worth it.

 

I had wanted to hang a garland up in the kitchen with her monthly photos. I even had cute little tiny pink clothes pins to do it .. but time was not my friend. So, I just stuck them to the windows behind her chair so people could look at them. I was not a huge fan of displaying them this way, but it worked. It’s so hard to believe she was so teeny once!

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Note the garland on the table. Close to getting done, but no cigar.

I decorated the rest of the table with streamers, and placed the lanterns & puffs I bought around the table and beside the banner. I sprinkled some gold confetti on the table, and set out the cups, plates, cutlery, and straws. I ha two plastic clear jars that I put candy and tissue paper in, and 2 gold ones that I filled with more chocolates. The little wooden “M” was the last touch.  (My house was SO pink, and cluttered with party decorations, for a couple weeks)

 

Obviously we had lots of sweets on the ‘fancy table’. But on the kitchen island we also had dip, chips, veggie and fruit trays. I had been planning on not having a meal (hello huge expense) but my husband ended up having to work that afternoon so we moved the party up to noon. We bought medium sized soft tortilla’s, alfredo sauce, red sauce & BBQ sauce, as well as all the other pizza toppings; and people made their own personalized pizzas. It was a big hit, filling, and easy (just have somebody who’s keeping track of the oven so nobody gets a  burnt pizza). I would definitely recommend it for a birthday party for a child of any age!

We didn’t do a ‘cake smash’ photo shoot because, well, photographers charge a ton, and I didn’t see the necessity. I just made her a cake to ‘smash’ at the party and then eat afterwards, since she couldn’t have the cupcakes – thanks allergies! I put a table cloth on the grass so she wouldn’t mind sitting outside, we sang “Happy Birthday” inside and then we all came out to watch her ‘smash it up’; which she did not. Haha. She did enjoy squishing the icing in her hands though. Everybody loved getting to watch her, and I took a bunch of pictures. Moment recorded, for free – booya!

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We brought her inside to her highchair to eat her own slice of cake. I guess she really started enjoying the icing because she went ham on that thing!

Because her birthday is so close to Christmas she really didn’t need anything so we asked our guests not to bring gifts. However we knew most of them would still get something, so we asked that if they really wanted to get anything money towards her big girl car seat (those things are not cheap!) would be great. So that’s what people did and we only ended up with a few physical presents.  This was definitely the best idea because we were able to get her a nice one  –Graco4ever – that will last her until she doesn’t even need a booster anymore, without having to worry about the months bills. Definitely something I would recommend for anybody who’s baby does NOT need more stuff.

So that was it, You might as well have been there after all that detail, eh? Happy planning party people!
– Emily

PS: I am going to be selling the party things online
so if you know anybody looking for supplies for a
pink/gold/cream party point them my way!/ comment below!  🙂

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The Beauty of Baby Sign Language

One of the hardest parts of parenting is the guessing game. What’s wrong? Do you need to eat? Are you thirsty? Do you need your diaper change? Are you hurting? What do you want? etc, etc, etc,. Well, let me tell you. There’s a way to make it easier for you and baby to communicate effectively with each other, to eliminate some of the guessing, and it doesn’t take money or a bunch of extra time. Welcome to the beauty of baby sign language!

Baby signing is something I heard about and immediately was drawn to. I had wanted to learn sign language on my own, but I never did hadn’t yet. I studied psychology in school and took a few child and developmental psychology courses. I knew that the ability to sign came before the ability to articulate words. I did some research (go figure, it’s what I did pre-baby, lol), and I decided to get this book. It has a DVD in it with the author signing all the words in the book. I found to be very helpful, because sometimes it’s hard to grasp the full motion perfectly from a picture.

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Doing sign language with your baby won’t take up extra time or money. Should you chose not to order a book you wouldn’t need to spend any money. The internet and smart phones make everything so easily accessible, you might not see a need to have a physical copy hanging around when you could look up for free online. Teaching your child to sign will not take up all your time or even take a lot of additional work. That is because you are already communicating with your baby, talking to them, explaining things and teaching them about the world all day. Now, you can just start adding some signing into your daily conversation while you are speaking.

Another motivator I had for desiring to do baby sign language, was the ability to use it as a bridge language in the future. I would LOVE to be able to teach Margaret french, but I am not fluent (or even that good at it), so I didn’t teach her it aside from using a few words here and there, better than nothing right? When it comes to a point where she can learn another language we can use the signs she already knows as the link between the english word and the foreign word. I am so excited for when that times comes. This method actually does actually helps children to learn a language. A french teacher I had in Alberta used signing in her french classes. She found that the children learned the french terms much quicker than they had before she initiated signing, she was a huge advocate for pairing language learning with signing.

Why start signing to a baby who’s not able to sign back yet? Well, do we wait to talk to our babies until they are at the age where they can talk back? No, we talk the whole time. We give them the information they need about language and someday they share it back with us. The same goes for signing. The earlier you sign the more you are exposing your baby to it and forming associations of the spoken words and their signs.It’s good to start with just a few and do them all.the.time, repetition is key. Pick a couple words that are useful and used daily, as well as a motivator word. Something fun that a child will want to sign, something that interests them. It’s also a great way to teach them their manners early on.

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My experience with signing: when my daughter was around maybe 5 months old I started signing just a few things that fit into the daily activities. I started with the classic ‘milk’, diaper, ball, and some colours. Initially, was that she would just watch me pretty intently, as babies do, taking it all in (They are such sponges!), she definitely didn’t have the fine motor skills to do anything back. I think maybe I got tired of doing the signing when there was no response from her and I could just speak to communicate effectively. So, I didn’t do it as much for awhile. Once she started being a bit more interactive and mobile 6-7 months I decided to actively try to teach her some signs. She really loved animal book so I started with a lot of animal signs, as well as some basics again. I forget how old she was when she 1st signed milk back, but that was a happy moment – Talk about rewarding! As she started closing in on 1 year the amount of signs she could do was growing. I know she ‘knew’ what a dozen or more signs were but she only ever did a few. Milk, more, fan (she loves the ceiling fan in our room). She turned 1 a month ago and today she is now more ‘spongy’ than ever! In fact, today we had some grapes with lunch, so I decided to look up the sign for grapes in my book. I showed it to her maybe 2-3x while we were eating. Then, I asked her if she wanted more grapes … and she did the sign (her own simple version) for grapes!! For a snack we had an apple, so I showed her that sign and she did it back too, although she needed more reminding on how it went than she did for grapes.
Seriously though, this girl, she’s got her daddy’s brain! She can sign water, grapes, milk, eat, fan, light, more, all done, hat, please, apple, thank you and most likely more that I can’t think of off the top of my head. I know she can recognize a much larger number of signs than she signs herself. It’s like learning a spoken language, sometimes you can comprehend more than you are able to say.

The benefits have been wonderful! Margaret gets SO excited when she signs something to me and I understand. And I get SO excited when I sign something to her and she understands me, and even MORE excited when she signs it back! It is also nice for me because a bunch of the mommy guess work is gone. If she wants to nurse, she signs it … and brings me her nursing pillow, she is hilarious. If she wants to eat, always, she tells me by signing. When she’s thirsty she’ll sign water. I am currently working on hurt, tired, good, hot, and cold, to cover more of the guess work, and then maybe we’ll get to emotions. Even if she can’t identify with what a specific emotions is at the moment it’s not to early to start showing her how to sign the words.

I wanted to put a video of her signing something here
but I can only upload documents or photos – boo.

My advice: If you’re like me and you fall of the wagon, just hop back on when you feel like it. You’re not going to damage your child by not signing, or by signing to much. Do what works for you, and don’t be hard on yourself or your baby. Don’t underestimate how smart your baby is. You’ve got nothing to loose, sign as much as you want. They ARE soaking it up, even if they don’t do it back yet, it’ll happen.

The bottom line is this: I am a big fan. You should try it.

Emily

Any questions or success stories from your ‘signing with littles’ adventures?
I would love to hear them in the comments!

 

 

February: A Month In Review

It’s that time again! Here’s my update on my new years resolution, as well as how our month went overall.

This month my daughter turned 1. Yes, 1. I can hardly believe it myself! It feels like time has flown by this past year, but then there are also certainly moments where it’s felt like it’s been dragging. Anyhow, we had her party, which was so fun to plan! (I am such a planner I have realized) In terms of the paleo diet however .. lets just say, there was A LOT of cupcakes, icing, cake and treats. I gave myself full permission to just enjoy the celebration, and the food, especially since I spent a good chunk of time making it all. More about that in this blog post to come.

 

 

We had been suspecting my daughter had an egg allergy and potentially dairy too, but had to wait until she was 1 to get a referral to the allergist. Well, we had the appointment last week and she definitely has allergies to egg, dairy, and a number of other things. IMG_0452IMG_0447Poor girl. the good news is that if they’re not super severe she will likely outgrow them by the time she’s 4-5 years old. We will go in to a lab to get blood drawn for more detailed results, and to see which proteins she’s allergic to (that’s my understanding of it anyways). Hopefully this will tell us that she can have eggs in things that are baked, that would make things a bit easier.  In the mean time they gave us an epi pen. We now have a confirmation of our suspicions, which is nice, and we can make sure she’s got food that is safe for her. Time to revamp the menu, it actually works out well that we’re doing paleo right now.

In other news, I went to go get my Louisiana drivers license this month. In true DMV style we waited for-e-ver. We were then told that in order to get a license I need to do 14 hours of driver training, and then take the drivers test before I could get my license… even though I have a perfect record and have been driving for 11 years. *groan* Exactly what I want to do with all my free time. (this statement is dripping in sarcasm). SO, looks like I’ll be doing that again sometime soon. Maybe if I ask if I can bring Margaret along for ‘in car’ they’ll cut the lessons short? Hmm…

Overall, I did probably about the same at keeping to the diet as I did in January. Sadly I have yet to get a day planner for meal planning, and I totally failed at recording what I was eating. I am kind of particular so I was wanting to get the perfect day planner. I can now see that I just need to pick one that has a daily layout, forget all the little details  and just “git ‘er done!” One productive thing I DID do was finally order a paleo cookbook that I have been wanting for awhile, you can find it here. It should be here tomorrow, I am SO pumped!! I will most definitely be posting all the tasty things I try from it so follow my blog for future updates. Oh, and I did lose a little bit more weight! Although it was only a few pounds i now weigh in at less than I did when I got pregnant with my daughter – little victory, hooray! I have heard that when it comes to weight loss it’s 80% your diet, and 20% physical activity. I’m not sure if this is 100% accurate, but considering my physical activity level hasn’t changed and I have still managed to lose the weight I have been stuck at for so long I am inclined to say it’s true.

I don’t think I took as many photos as last month, but here’s a sneak peak at some of the top yummy’s (plus some I didn’t take photos of) that I’ll share soon!

 

 

HELLO MARCH: Next thing for me. Hitting up amazon and ordering a day-planner! This coming month I will be traveling to the land of poutine, all dressed chips, maple syrup, Tim Hortons, sour cherry blasters and endless snacks; Canada – YAY!! (Regardless of the tasty food, I really am going to see my family, I swear).  I plan on taking advantage of the time to indulge in a few of my Canadian favourites, but hopefully thing’s don’t get too crazy! I am not looking forward to detoxing from the grain and sugar, they’re so addicting to me. Also, I have been wanting to try to get to daily mass in the mornings when Josh doesn’t work. Of course the one time I made it there mass was canceled – fail. haha. I need to try agin. I shall add it to the schedule, writing it in the planner!

Good luck with your resolutions, keep it up! To amazon I go…
Em

January’s Yummy things

In my last post I promised to update with the recipes for some of those absolutely delicious looking pictures I shared. Well, it would seem I am pretty awful about actually posting in a timely manner. So, as promised here are a few of the recipes that I found online.

So when we 1st kicked this lifestyle change over I was REALLY craving some snack food. If you don’t know me in real life, I LOVE snacks; especially chips. So I found this recipe for Spinach and Artichoke did. YES PLEASE! I love it because I also learned that I can make cashew butter really easily. Not being able to have peanut butter anymore made my heart cry a little bit.

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Spinach and artichoke dip w/ sweet potato ‘chips’

Spinach & Artichoke dip:

  • 2 (14oz) cans artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 16oz frozen spinach (I used fresh and it turned out great so I would say either is fine)
  • 1 cup cashews, roasted and unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Get the instructions here. There’s also an option to add goat cheese if you want. I found it amazing even without.

We cut up and pan fried some sweet potatoes in an attempt to make sweet potato chips. They were definitely not a ‘potato chip’, missing the thin crunch, but they were delicious (kudos to the hubby for taking care of that part of the snack!)

 

One of my other favourites from the month was this bacon wrapped, citrus tangy, pork tenderloin. I think I just drooled a little bit. I mean it’s bacon wrapped, so you automatically know it’s going to be amazing!

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Yes, It was as good as it looks!

Ingredients you will need:

For the sauce
  • 2 cups orange juice (I had no store bought orange juice so I literally squeezed the orange, maybe didn’t quite get 2 cups, more like 1.5 but it turned out great)
  • ½ cup coconut aminos
  • 1 heaping tablespoon honey (I had no honey so I substituted maple syrup – so Canadian, eh?!)
  • ¼ teaspoon fish sauce
  • zest of ½ an orange (about ½ tablespoon of zest)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
For the tenderloin
  • 1-1½ pound pork tenderloin
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½-3/4 pound bacon (about 7-8 strips of bacon)

Get the baking directions here. Seriously. SO delicious!! Just look at the picture again…drooling yet? Do yourself (and your family) a favour and put this on the dinner menu this week, you will not regret it!

 

I would be doing you a huge disservice if I didn’t share about these burgers. It’s like a Mexican burger but instead of actual cheese sauce it’s a ‘sneaky-paleo-delicious sauce’, top with caramelized onions. HELLO flavour. Just because you are eating a caveman diet doesn’t mean you need to be eating bland, straight up caveman food.

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these are the burgers! ❤ ❤

Ingredients:

For the burger itself
  • 1 lb buffalo (or ground beef)
  • 1 (6oz) can of green chiles
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle red pepper (or chili powder, that’s what I used )
For the toppings–
  • 1 package mushrooms (I didn’t have any so I didn’t use them)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ 14oz jar of roasted peppers, sliced (I just used this for the sauce)
  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle red pepper or chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For the Avocado Roasted Red Pepper sauce–
  • 2 avocados (All the avocados at my store weren’t ready yet so I bought some plane guacamole and used that. it was perfect!)
  • ½ 14oz jar of roasted peppers, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ lemon, juiced

Get the directions here. I served the burger with tomatoes, and brussel sprouts another time. I also kept the sauce in my magic bullet container in the fridge and continued using it during the week, SO tasty!

 

The final piece I will leave because I LOVE them and they’re super easy to make is fried plantains. Plantains unlike bananas are actually good when the peel has black on it, so if you shop for some don’t think they’re all too old and pass them up.

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Fried plantains are seriously SO tasty! Buy some!

Ingredients

  • Plantains.

Directions don’t get much simpler than this. Heat some coconut oil in a pan, slice up your plantains, and them to the hot oil and let them fry. Flip them once they start to get brown on the pan side (or once they’re however dark, or light you want them). I usually sprinkle then with a very little bit of sea salt, I have also tried used a very small amount of cinnamon before. Both ways are good but typically I have them with eggs for breakfast so I prefer the salt. My daughter just turned 1 and she LOVES them too. Grab 1 or 2 next time you are at the store and give them a try 🙂

Bon Appetit!

 

If you try any let me know how they are,
and if you have any recipes that I must try link them in the comments!

 

Paleo Newyears Resolution – 1 down 11 to go.

Well, here’s my followup to my new years resolution post. Check it out here if you haven’t read it yet. Okay. So this Paleo/caveman diet has been good, but rocky (he, he). The 1st day my husband opened for work so when he was coming home he text me saying he brought home food. IMG_8407

So, that was how we started. We cleared out our pantry, fridge, and freezer of all things non-paleo, which left them essentially completely bare. It was kind of nice to start from scratch, and we donated all of the items that could be donated to the food bank. Pope Francis would say “Wasting food is like stealing from the poor”. Never throw away food that could be donated when you have a food bank in your area. Most grocery stores take donations for the food banks (it’s easy to drop your things off that way). Win – Win!

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** I am only keeping the baking supplies because I knew I would have a birthday party to bake for in February & the cereal is for the baby.

One of the purposes of this resolution was so I could grow in self control. While I would say I am growing in it, it is more of a slow gradual growth. We went on a trip to California for a friends wedding mid month. I knew before we left that we were going to be breaking paleo, although when the options were there I would try to stick to paleo. We made our own trailmix for on the plane and for during our travels. (6 hr drive to dallas Lovefield airport – yuck! But worth it to fly southwest and it cost us nearly 1/2 the amount it would to fly from our home airport). When we were there we bought some tuna snack packs and chicken breast. We baked them to take on the go when we needed, and we made eggs for breakfast. Hmm… The more I am typing the more I am realizing we actually didn’t do as badly as I thought while we were out there – YAY!! Coming home it was hard to get back onto being full time paleo again, and we definitely had a number of non-paleo meals (pizza buffet after Church one Sunday! I confess, I am so human! lol) I would say over all this month we probably adhered to the diet rules about 75% of the time. Not fantastic, but certainly better than we had been doing before.

For the first half of the month I kept a log of what I ate each day. It wasn’t like calorie counting or anything, just a list of what I ate and when I ate it. This REALLY helped me to stay on top of things. For me personally having something I can see and record helps me to follow through (ie: daily prayer & keeping a prayer journal, thank you blog post!) After just a few days I have to say, I honestly felt good! I felt like I looked better, and had (to my surprise) a lot of energy. I eagerly hopped on the scale … and realized I hadn’t lost anything. Thankfully that was not discouraging, because, I felt good and loosing weight wasn’t the overall goal (just a nice perk). After going to California and having ‘regular’ food again, I felt bloated a lot. I think my stomach was enjoying being grain free. I LOVE pastries so that’s a bit sad, but also encouraging! With the month said and done I have lost 5 lbs (which is really nice), and managed to eat Paleo about 75% of the time. Small victories. But I will celebrate them!

This month I have my daughter’s 1st Birthday Party! (I’m not sure how that’s possible already!) So I know I’ll have at least one day of making cake… and eating it too, but I am fine with that. Life is to be lived and enjoyed, and so I will  🙂

I found some great websites and recipes this month. Here’s a few pics from a couple meals below. SEE, eating Paleo does not have to be plane and boring. These burgers with the caramelized onions and avocado roasted red pepper sauce were AH-MAZING!

I’ll make another post this week with the recipes for these images, so stay tuned! Hope your new years resolutions are going well! Celebrate your small victories and don’t be discouraged when you trip up.

This month I am going to try to menu plan better for the week to avoid needing to ‘grab something’ while we are out, because I had nothing in mind/thawed for dinner. It turns out paleo ‘fast food’ is nearly impossible to find. I think planning AND getting back on to writing what I’m eating will help. Time to get a daytimer – EEE! (Choleric-giddiness at this thought!)

Peace and blessings y’all!

Making a New Years Resolution You Can Keep

It’s that time of year again! The Christmas festivities [and meals] are over. Now onto the next ‘day of celebration’, New Years. With a new year comes joy, hope, optimism, ‘permission’ to start a new, and gym discounts for everybody who signs up for a year!

I always feel kind of intimidated at the thought of making a new years resolution; Like I need to make it a really good one, chose the best resolution I can make! … but, what if I can’t keep it?!  Continue reading “Making a New Years Resolution You Can Keep”