Monday, March 27, 2017

The Ultimate Reset - Prep

I don't plan to sugar coat my experience with the Ultimate Reset at all. I've been following the Facebook groups and already see how people struggle with certain things. Headaches (from caffeine and sugar withdrawals), Power Greens, exhaustion, soreness. Sounds amazing, right? However, I figure for every 1 person who complains there is at least 2-3 who are completing the program and not complaining.

I sat down with Jason this weekend and we picked our meals. There are three phases and while each day has a different menu, you can repeat meals as long as you trade a breakfast for breakfast, lunch for lunch, or dinner for dinner, during the Phase you are on. (No breakfast for dinner!)

I had pre-shopped for a few things that most of the recipes called for. The cost you spend on groceries can kill your grocery bill, especially if you are trying to purchase good quality organic fruits in the middle of winter. The program also requires you to drink distilled water with mineralize added. The purpose of the program is to rid your body of all toxins and impurities, including those in our tap and even bottled water. Try to spread out the cost of some of the items over the weeks leading up to the Ultimate Reset. 

Just one of many grocery trips
I created an excel spreadsheet and planned the first week's menu and then copied the recipes from the Ultimate Reset Participant Portal to help create my grocery list. In general, there's a lot prep for this program. Mental prep first. You are going to wide up eating very healthy, and being a vegan when it's said and done. There are no treats and there is no room for treats when you are done. Then the meal planning, shopping, and food prep takes up a lot of time. And the more prep you do, the less like you are to quit, give up, or cheat. It's only 21 Days.

I was nervous at first, especially since I had a stomach bug Friday night. But once I spent Sunday prepping I felt really good about everything. It's not hard - just have to put in the effort to get it done! 

Stocked Fridge

Friday, March 24, 2017

21 Day Fix Burrito Bowls

A few months ago this video kept popping up on my Facebook feed. (It's safe to click, really, I'm not rick roll-ing you.) The recipe looked simple enough (click here for it); and it looked delicious and clean. I figured I'd give it a chance. 

It has now become my favorite lunch item. It is super easy to prep, and you can pre-prep and freeze extra peppers/onions mixture and the chicken. I used the portion control containers and measured it the first couple of times, but then learned that if I make the right amount of rice, it's easy to split it into four containers. I no longer use cheese and use avocado instead. 

Easy Lunch Burrito Bowls
  • 1 medium or half large red onion
  • 3 Bell Peppers (I prefer one red, one yellow, one orange)
  • 16 ounces chicken breasts (for 4 Red containers. Double if you want 2 Reds at lunch)
  • 1 can black bean
  • 2 cups prepared brown rice
  • 1/2-1 cup Salsa
  • Taco Seasoning
  • Olive Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
  2. Line one 8x8 glass dish with foil & spray; and spray a 9x13 glass dish with nonstick spray. 
  3. Cut the peppers and onions into strips and toss with 1 tbsp of oil and 2-3 tbsp of taco seasoning. 
  4. Place the peppers and onions in the 9x13 glass pan. 
  5. Place the chicken in the 8x8 glass dish and sprinkle taco seasoning over both sides of the chicken. Top  each chicken breast with a generous pour of salsa.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. 
  7. Rest chicken for 10 minutes, before slicing into strips or dicing into cubes. 
  8. Add a 1/2 cup of brown rice to 4 food storage containers. Add 1/2 cup black beans, cooked peppers and onions, and chicken. Garnish with fresh cilantro, cheese (optional), and a lime wedge. 
  9. Store in the refrigerator (and enjoy any extras immediately). Can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 days. Heat up the bowl, then serve with optional avocado. 
The video and instructions show everything being put on a baking sheet. I did that the first time and didn't like how it turned out. My peppers and onions stuck to the foil, the chicken seemed dry (maybe I overcooked it?) So the next time I used glass baking dishes. One for the veggies and a foil lined one for the chicken. This worked better. I could also monitor if one finished first and take that one out so I didn't overcook either ingredient.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Milk Tea for Nursing Moms

When I was pregnant with Liam, I was introduced to pregnancy tea, and then after his birth, milk tea.

My favorite tea company, The Republic of Tea, makes the pregnancy tea that I drank during both pregnancies. It helped with nausea and satisfied my sweet tooth craving. The get maternal (herb tea for pregnancy) contains organic Rooibos (leaf), raspberry (leaf), stinging nettle (aerial parts), ginger (root), alfalfa (leaf), parsley (leaf). Other ingredients: natural mango flavor, black limon.

I have no idea what most of those things are. But the tea is delicious, and safe for pregnant ladies. The Republic Teas quickly became my favorite teas to drink. My all time favorite is the Ginger Peach Green Tea and sometimes I turn it into an iced tea. 

I was given Mother's Milk Tea to use after birth, during breastfeeding. I have given away samples too. It has a sweet, slightly bitter with a distinct licorice-like taste. I don't like licorice, but I enjoy this tea. I don't add anything to it, and drink a glass every afternoon. 

It has fennel seed, anise seed, coriander seed, spearmint leaf, lemongrass leaf, lemon verbena leaf, althea root, blessed thistle herb, and fenugreek seed in it.

Finally Republic has made a nursing tea. So before I bought a whole bunch of something I didn't know I would like, I emailed the company and asked for a sample. And they said "Sure" and sent me one! Their new herb tea is made with organic fenugreek seeds, organic cinnamon and organic carrot. The cinnamon makes this tea. I love cinnamon. It's like the garlic to my baking world. I put cinnamon in my pancakes and Chocolate Shakeology, and anything else baking related.

Verdict? I like them both. The cinnamon is nice addition. There's no licorice smell or flavor. And while I don't mind Mother's Milk licorice flavor, I would prefer the cinnamon flavor.

How do they work? I am only breastfeeding in the morning and before bed. I don't pump and Benjamin gets formula during the day. I drink a cup of tea in the evening and one in the late afternoon. I also limit my caffeine (no caffeine now), and drink 100 ounces of water a day. I still have breast milk, so that's as much as I can offer to how the teas are working.

Remember Moms - Fed is Best. Doesn't matter if it's 100% breast feeding, 100% formula or a mixture. Do what works for you, your body, your child, and especially YOU.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

21 Day Fix Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff has always been one of my favorite dishes. Beef, noodles, sour cream, what is not to love? Oh, the calories, that's right! So when I stumbled across this recipe on the Beachbody website, I had to check it out.

Note - I was super excited when I found out this is a ONE POT dish. You don't have to boil the noodles separate. They cook in the beef broth - and they are EVEN better that way! The creaminess isn't as prevalent since you aren't using a gallon of sour cream (well, that's what I used to use), but the flavor is there and the fact that I can eat and make this on the Portion Control Plan makes this recipe a must have for my kitchen!

21 Day Fix Beef Stroganoff
  • 3 tsp. olive oil, divided use
  • 1½ lbs. extra lean beef sirloin, cut into thin strips
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 3 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • 4 cups low sodium organic beef broth
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
  • ½ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 oz. dry whole wheat egg noodles
  • ½ cup reduced fat (2%) plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley


  1. Heat 1 tsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over high heat.
  2. Add beef; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 5 minutes, or until browned. Remove from skillet. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tsp. oil in same skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until most liquid is absorbed.
  6. Add remaining 1 tsp. oil; cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
  7. Add flour; cook, stirring frequently, until onion mixture is evenly coated.
  8. Add broth slowly, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes.
  9. Add egg noodles. Mix well and cover with liquid; cover. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, or until noodles are soft. Remove from heat.
  10. Add yogurt; mix well.
  11. Serve garnished with parsley.

Portion Fix Containers
½ Green
1 Yellow
1 Red
½ tsp.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Ultimate Reset

I've been setting small goals this year. Little steps that will lead to long term results, but focusing only on a few weeks at a time. I have always always struggled to commit to the 90 day Beachbody programs. I can usually make it through the first month and then I'm bored. So for 2017 I decided I would try a new program every month. 

My March program has been the 21 Day Fix Extreme. I worked through the 21 Day Fix in January and February as I adjusted to working out regularly. And to be honest, I didn't start focusing on the nutrition part until the end of February. 

If you have upgraded access to Beachbody On Demand then you access to the 21 Day Fix, 21 Day Fix Extreme, and all the bonus workouts that came with it! I *love* having the bonus workouts, the variety helps keep me motivated to keep going.

With focusing on my nutrition, I wanted to make some big changes to my diet and lifestyle. I'm 37 and need to treat my body better. So no more crap. No more fast food. (The three exceptions being Chipotle, Panera, and Subway.) 

No more soda. As of March 10 I am done with soda. (Because well, I had to use what I had...) 

I have been limiting processed foods. Everything I make has to be made with real ingredients, not processed ingredients. I do have a cookie habit. It's been hard to break. And I'm not sure if it's the cookie habit or really a sugar habit. I made the oatmeal bars and it helped a lot with my sweet tooth, they aren't the healthiest either - but they are made with basic ingredients. 

So that brings me to the Ultimate Reset. Beachbody released this program in April 2012 and has refined it and changed a few components throughout the years. It's a completely clean eating program where you are eliminating your body of all the toxins you get through processed foods. 

The Beachbody Ultimate Reset is a three-phase program that provides everything you need. 
  • Phase 1: Reclaim your body's natural balance.
  • Phase 2: Release the unwanted compounds that have been holding your system back and start the detoxification process.
  • Phase 3: Restore your digestive system, along with other internal processes, to maximum efficiency.
Jason (yes, my husband) and I are starting this program March 27th! It's a 21 day commitment. It's *ONLY* 21 Days. And there's no workout regime. You can do Yoga if you would like, but these 21 days are about nutrition, not physical fitness. By the end of the program you are eating a vegan diet, but you don't have to remain vegan. 

I'll be blogging about our changes and sharing our favorite meals during the reset. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Our Financial Peace Update

So.... I made this post FOUR years ago! I recommend reading that post first. I was really committed to Dave in 2010 and made some big changes in my life. Jason and I did well for a couple years... then well, um... sometimes it has felt like "Dave Ramsey Who?"

The below sums up why we have more debt, but here's our numbers over the past few years:
Year Jan-13 Jan-14 Jan-15 Jan-16 Jan-17
Debt $45,643 $63,186 $42,246 $34,057 $25,749
The January 2014 debt included two vehicles and two school loans.

While this is going to be a long post, and filled with lots of financial details, it was therapeutic to write it out and see just how far we have come in 4 years. We are not debt free. We did some non-Dave approved things (cough, two car loans, the house..) but overall we have a working budget, use cash for things, and don't worry too much about finances. (I worry every now and then.) 

So to wrap up 2013. It was a huge year. 
  • Jason's car was rear ended on January 2.
  • I lost my job in August.  
  • We had Liam in September.  
  • My (paid off) Highlander was totaled in November. 
  • We purchased a timeshare (but not an evil one).
On January 1 we knew we were pregnant (with Liam) and were discussing how we were going to save to replace Jason's 2-door blazer. The next day he was rear ended. While not totaled, it was useless since we couldn't open the back. He received insurance money from the lady who rear ended him, and then got a decent trade in value. He picked out a Chrysler 300 and we took out a $17k loan on it, mid-February 2013. Note: Jason was approved for a $42k car loan. We knew what would fit in our budget, and that wasn't it. (This is how people get ridiculous car loans they can't actually afford - they think if they are approved for it then they can afford it, when they really can't.) 

We weren't prepared for the job loss, but were prepared for maternity leave, so we knew we'd be ok for a little bit. We had everything we needed for Liam, and weren't too worried. 

On November 2 my Highlander was totaled. That was a rough blow. It had been paid off in January and I was planning to keep it at least another 2-3 years. You can read about that here and here.

A chance presented itself to purchase a timeshare week for where we got married and where I have been vacationing since 1982. After a lot of math, we used inherited funds to purchase this timeshare. And I say "not an evil one" because we paid a lump sum, didn't take out a loan, don't continue to owe, it wasn't a ridiculous price, and we will use it. And the years we can't use it, it'll rent. The week we bought (Week 26) will usually include the 4th of July and it's really hard to get extra units that week. It'll usually include our wedding anniversary too.

Even though we had just purchased a timeshare, we knew a vacation wasn't in our future unless I got a job. And then Grandma announced she was getting married, in Florida, during our timeshare week. *facepalm* Ok Grandma, we'll figure this out.

The most fortunate part? The day of her wedding I received a verbal offer for my job. I had spent spring working on job applications, networking, and interviewing. I managed to get a couple interviews and had one right before leaving for vacation. It's for my current company and this July will be three years.

I went back to work in mid-July. Liam went to daycare. And it was great. I knew I wasn't meant to be a stay at home mom. I enjoyed my time with Liam, and took a few extra trips to the Lake or my parent's house. But looking back, I'd never be able to teach Liam everything he has learned, and I probably would have gone insane trying to manage him 24/7.

We got in a groove of both of us working, Liam at daycare, and having dual incomes. Things were looking up. We paid off Jason's car in December 2014. That was less than 2 years and we felt back on track.

I remember nothing of this year. Looking at journal entries, I worked out a lot, Liam had some sleep issues, and I cooked a lot.

We did start discussing buying a house. We started saving toward a downpayment. We even went to a few open houses to see what was available and what the prices looked like. We went to Florida for vacation. We enjoyed being a family of three but didn't make a huge dent in our debt.

We had spent 2015 discussing our next life changes -- having baby #2 and buying a house. We knew 2016 was the year to try and accomplish both those things. And we did. We also knew that if we didn't get into a house before baby #2 that the second daycare costs would sink us from saving for a down payment.

Liam in front of our house
We met with our realtor in early March and started seriously looking. After viewing a couple homes, we narrowed it down to wanting a ranch. With a dining room. 3-4 bedrooms, cross your fingers for a finished basement. But getting that dining room in a ranch was our priority. Not a lot of ranches came on the market. Especially with our desired ranch. We were pregnant and had a cut off date of giving up on the ranch and reconsidering two story houses. We stalked a "coming soon" for a month and were one of the first to view it the day it went on the market. And we got it! And we love it.

Bathroom Wallpaper
We closed the beginning of June and moved in July 4th weekend. Uncle Pat was incredible and helped us paint everything. Every bedroom was yellow, the family room and dining room was yellow. And according to the cans of paint left in the basement - everything was a different colored yellow!! And the master bath -- the Hand of God/Naked David wallpaper had to go. It was actually scary.

We did not go to Florida. Both due to the cost associated with it and time. I wanted to, but knew it wasn't possible. I needed to save my vacation time for maternity leave. We did take a long weekend to the lake and enjoyed our time with Liam. We tried to maximize being a family of three and making sure to cherish every weekend and time spent with Liam.

Benjamin was born in October. We had saved every penny to be prepared for my maternity leave and medical bills. We had already redone the budget to know what two kids in daycare would look like. Christmas was a little smaller than usual, we had to keep things tight in case a Murphy popped up. And to be honest, my parents and our siblings spoil the boys with presents. We didn't need to buy Liam a lot. And Jason and I don't need a lot, so we kept it simple.

Looking ahead, our goal to pay off debt, honestly, isn't on our radar. We owe $5,230 (SL @ 2.07%), $7,300 (SUV @1.49%), and $11,800 (SL @ 2.38%). I'd like to pay off the smaller SL, but it's not hurting us. The interest is tax deductible. We pay $421 a week to daycare. Even if we wanted a third child (which we don't), we couldn't afford the daycare. Our daycare is more than our mortgage. And only a small portion is tax deductible.

We could cut everything that keeps us sane (cable, annual vacation, eating) and work on paying debt off, but we're not there yet. And maybe it's because we aren't underwater on my car or don't have an insane amount of credit card debt. I don't classify our debt as "good debt" either. The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. Proverbs 22:7

Hopefully in 2017 we make another big dent in our debt and keep our heads above water and survive our new life with two boys.

Oh, you read all the way to the end? Good! 
I encourage everyone to look into Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. While we currently have paused our debt free journey, the budgeting aspect is helpful. We don't live paycheck to paycheck. We don't fight about money. We have enough stressors in our life, we don't need to add another one if we can control our money and tell it where to go.

You can download and listen to Dave's podcasts for free!! 3 hours a day! I listen at work. You can use his budgeting software to start your budget (I budget using excel spreadsheets.) Start telling your money where to go instead of watching each paycheck disappear and wondering "WTF just happened?"

Sunday, March 5, 2017

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars

I stumbled across this recipe a few months ago and even bought dates (at Sam's Club). But I didn't make it until this weekend. I've been having a lot of cravings for sweets and needed to find something clean to satisfy my sweet tooth. I thought these would be great to snack on while I was home on maternity leave, but never got around to making them. First tip - dates have pits. I kinda remembered this as I started making them, read it somewhere or something. So I used scissors and cut each date open to remove the pit. I must have missed one though, because it was stuck to the food processor blade when I got done. 

The 8x8 produces 16 bars. And each one is around 80 calories depending on the ingredients used. They have the same sweetness a cookie offers without the calories and bad for you ingredients that a cookie contains. The oatmeal also "keeps on giving". They do remind me of those chocolate drop no-bake cookies I made as a kid. 


  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp raw honey, or maple syrup
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Line a 8x8 or 9x9-inch baking pan with wax paper, leaving an inch or so hanging over the edges.
  2. In a food processor, add ¾ of the peanut butter, coconut oil, honey, dates, and vanilla, pulsing until smooth. Add in the oats and pulse until well-combined. The mixture will be crumbly, but it should hold it's shape when pressed into a ball.
  3. Press ¾ of the oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips and remaining peanut butter, stirring until smooth. Pour the chocolate onto the crust layer and spread evenly with a rubber spatula or spoon.
  5. Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the chocolate, gently pressing it in.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Once firm, remove from the pan by lifting the wax paper by the edges. Cut into bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
My notes: 
These were really easy and quick to make. Liam doesn't like them so they are ALL MINE.

Make sure you really press the base down. My base was a little crumbly, until I chilled it overnight. So also - chill it overnight. 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Baby Benjamin's Birth Story

I never got around the posting Benjamin's birth story. It was VERY different than Liam's 3 day birth experience. I made some inappropriate jokes that I hope he just slides right down the birth canal and comes out in two pushes. In summary, he kinda did. 

As I started to get closer to my due date, I started to have panic and anxiety attacks. At the end of September I went back on Zoloft in order to help control my anxiety. I also had a major work change I was dealing with - my boss left and I was adjusting to a lot of changes. It was a very difficult time in my life. (I can say that since returning to work things have been going very well. I'm still on Zoloft, I still see my therapist, but things are better without all those pregnancy hormones and not having to worry about everything I eat.) 

The story of Benjamin's Birth 

I had a doctor's appointment on Wednesday (October 19) and was 1-2 cm dilated! Already farther along than with Liam. I was 25% effaced and my doctor stripped my membranes to help. The good news was if I progressed a little more then I would be able to skip the induction drugs and go straight to a foley bulb! Even better news -- she said I could eat whatever I wanted!!! I still ate my sensible lunch, but we got Chic Fil A for dinner. I had french fries with my sandwich.  

I also had a therapy session afterwards. I wound up talking about expectations. Not that I have unrealistic expectations, but that I don't always verbalize my expectations and then am disappointed when they aren't met. I've carried this realization with me since. Communication is 110% a priority in my marriage. 

I then headed back to work to wrap up. After work mom came and picked up Liam. Melissa adjusted her work schedule so she could help watch him. Very appreciate to have family close by to help. Jason and I had dinner (CFA!) and wrapped up everything we haven't done the past few weeks. Like Jason vacuumed. And we packed.

I was told I would get a call between 5 and 9 am on Thursday for my induction. I was fourth on the waiting list for induction. So we attempted to head to bed early. 

Thursday October 20th 
They called at nine, right as Jason was dropping Monday at the kennel.
We wound up getting to the hospital around 10AM.
I got checked in and up to the room about 11AM.
I'm still dilated between 1.5 to 2 cms.

I was allowed to order lunch. My doctor had given me the go ahead to "ignore" the gestational diabetes diet and I could order what I wanted. I got the pizza. It was delicious!

While waiting for lunch I talked with my resident about getting a foley bulb and other options. 

At noon the evil nurse bitch (really, absolutely no bedside manner) came to put the foley bulb. I wound up already being at a 4 so I didn't need it!! I ate lunch and then they were going to start the pitocin if my contractions hadn't started.

At 2pm they started pitocin. Jason and I took a walk around the floor, twice. There wasn't a lot to see. We watched some construction going on at the front of hospital and talked about shoring and safety, you know, the normal things laboring women think about. There were some waiting room warriors. They had Chic Fil A. (Good thing I had it the night before, otherwise there might have been a scuffle...) 

I started to have more frequent contractions around 3pm. At 4pm I was dilated to 5.5 and having regular contractions. I was uncomfortable but not in pain. I wanted to wait a little longer to get the epidural. I had the epidural at 4 cm with Liam. It wasn't because of pain but because I'd been uncomfortable for days.

We facetimed with Liam around 6:30-7pm. I'm not sure how far along I was, but I was starting to feel a lot more painful contractions. I wound up getting the epidural around 9pm. I was dilated to a 7 - almost too late to get one. I was in a ton of pain and it felt like it took forever to get that epidural in correctly. Once it was in I felt better. It felt like only minutes later that BAM, I was at a 10. But I guess it was maybe 10:30pm. They called my doctor in right before 11pm. She got there around 11:15. I was in a lot of pain. The epidural wasn't doing much, and you can only push that button so many times. 

I got my legs up and ready. They were waiting for a few extra nurses from the NICU unit, but my doctor looked and said "If you need to push, go ahead and push". She could already see Benjamin - he had descended down the birth canal on his own. I had Jason run and grab a wet wash cloth because I remembered I needed one the last time with Liam. I went to push. I gave 2 good pushes, a really crappy 3rd one, and then one good push and HE WAS BORN. It was amazing. I couldn't believe how easy it was. I didn't need the silly washcloth. They put him on my chest right away. It was a really special moment. I didn't get that moment right away with Liam due to complications. 

Everything went smoothly after that too - I had afterbirth complications with Liam and am glad I didn't have those. I didn't even tear. It was an amazing birth experience. I had remained relaxed during most of the day and "hard parts" by listening to my iPOD and using essential oils. My nurses kept commenting how good my room smelled from the Thieves spray and Stress Away I was using. 

I couldn't have asked for it to go any better or quicker. Liam came to meet his little brother the next night and we went home Sunday. In the past four months he's been a great big brother. His favorite part is when Benjamin smiles at him. 

Benjamin Russell was born Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 11:24PM. He weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces, and was 19.50 inches long. 

Jason's dad was named William Russell. So Liam (William Patrick) got William, and Benjamin got Russell. And now our family is complete. :)