Spring-spiration: Pasta Primavera

Ok, so it’s almost spring time, and this dish has all the spring feels. It’s light, it’s full of flavor, and it’s colorful! And it won’t stink up the office (a real win for my coworkers).

The weather is finally warming up and we were able to squeeze in a walk in the sunshine, it was a little bit chilly, but so good for the mood.

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All smiles

We hit up our old trail, where we used to walk when we lived in our first apartment together. Memories and sunshine, so good for the soul!

Dinner this week is just a quick pasta primavera, with an overload of veggies.

1 head of broccoli

1 yellow squash

1 zucchini

1/2 a red onion

1 pint of tomatoes

Shredded carrots

Garlic

Penne Pasta

Chop & sauté all the veggies until cooked, add in the cooked pasta, eat for a week! As long as you don’t top this with cheese, it’s vegan too! This is a great meal if you struggle to get your veggies in.

I hope to grow some of my own veggies this summer, out on my balcony. My apartment got very little sun, so I’m hoping to take advantage of the great sun that our condo gets. I would love to try tomatoes and zucchinis, but I’m a bit intimidated! Any tips, my friends?

There are so many things I’m excited to take on, now that we own our own place, I just don’t t know where to begin! Stay tuned for our next adventure in homeownership. I also hope to post another update on my 101 in 1001 days shortly as well. I’ve got a few tweaks coming!

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Crockpot Buffalo Chicken

Anyone else still struggling after Daylight’s Savings time? My internal clock is all off, my meal times are off, and I’m seriously dragging. But I do like seeing daylight after I get out of work (at 6pm). How many days until spring time? (8 days – I just looked it up!)

I have found the easiest way to make delicious buffalo chicken and used it to make dinners for the week. I see this being a repeat recipe, there are so many ways you can use this.

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1 package of chicken

1 packet of Ranch dressing mix

10 oz hot sauce

Toss it all in the crockpot, shred once cooked. My crockpot cooks very hot, I did 6 hours on low. It’s delicious. You could eat this on a sandwich, in a wrap, with pasta or rice, or over a salad.

I paired mine with brown rice/leftover pasta, tomatoes, and roasted broccoli. And if you’re not roasting your broccoli, do yourself a favor, and ROAST IT. It’s so good, I was eating it right off the baking pan before it even cooled.

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The ranch dressing mix really helps take down the heat a notch, if you’re kinda a baby about spice (like I am). The one downside to eating roasted broccoli at work is that your coworkers will ask you if you are eating sauerkraut. The plus side is, you can convert them to the roasted broccoli team.

Are you team pasta or team brown rice? Personally, the pasta is where it’s at for me.

Adulting 101

Guys, anyone else struggling with this lately? We purchased our first home just before Christmas and it’s been a wild ride so far. I have realized I am lacking in some serious life skills! How did I miss the lesson on budgeting? Plumbing? Stress management? I can do laundry, but I can’t get a stain out. I can make tacos like nobody’s business, but I couldn’t host a holiday meal. Keep a plant alive? Not a chance (though I was just gifted one, so wish me luck!)

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Just over here Googling how to keep you alive

Here are some simple tips I’ve picked up

  1. Start a budget. Write it down. Use a spreadsheet. And stick to it. You’ll thank yourself later. This helps anticipate your expenses weeks/months in advance. I’m about two months out, and let me tell you, it takes some of the stress out of paying bills and let’s me manipulate how much I plan on spending on certain items.
  2. Keep it simple. Hosting family over for the first time? Start with a simple recipe! When we had family over this weekend we put out cheese, crackers, and grapes. We cooked pasta for lunch with crescent rolls (huge hit). And it was delicious! We were able to feed everyone and not stress about it. If I had tried to go all-out and tackle something I’ve never made before, I would have majorly stressed out about it. I’m so glad I didn’t.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may find that your family has extra furniture (tables, shelves) or household goods (bedding, dishes) and are more than willing to help! Or maybe they can help you paint, fix a leaking pipe, or help you get out of your garage when you get locked in.
  4. Shop second hand. You can find a ton of stuff second hand and at a very low cost! Recently I was able to find a new lamp, placemats, a shelf for my closet, and several pieces of clothing for very little! When you’re trying to adjust to paying for a mortgage, utilities, and possibly your HOA (since we are in a condo), being able to furnish your home at a lower cost really helps. Plus the hunt is fun!
  5. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry (cliché, I know) I actually try to have a snack before I go grocery shopping. And stick to your list! The Kroger app really helps keep costs down, because it lists the prices and gives you a total of all the items on your list. This really helps my budget and helps avoid surprises at the checkout line. We could still use to cut some costs in this area, but I’m working on it.
  6. Make your own cleaning product.  All purpose cleaner: 3/4 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons baking soda, 10 drops of tea tree oil, lavender, or lemon essential oils. Mix together and put into glass spray bottle. I doubled the vinegar and baking soda, and used both tea tree and lemon. Also, pour the baking soda in slowly and probably over the sink (or you’ll overflow all over your counter, into the silverware drawer, and into the cupboard below). I use this on my counters, cook-top stove, and in the bathroom. I had all these ingredients on hand, so it didn’t cost me anything to make this. And vinegar is dirt cheap. The lemon smells amazing too and you get to avoid using chemicals in your kitchen!
  7. Speaking of vinegar, vinegar is the ultimate cleaning product! Use it to clean your humidifiers, water bottles, coffee makers, or kitchen drains. I’ve used in on stained clothes, spills on carpeting, and the burnt crust on my stove.
  8. Be a good host. Take their coats, offer something to drink, and be gracious. People will remember how you treat them in your home.
  9. Utilize your leftovers. I didn’t have to buy lunch this week because I have leftovers from the weekend. You’ll waste less and spend less! You can use up extra veggies by tossing them in a salad, soup, or in a stir fry.
  10. Don’t forget the Thank You cards. For big events like wedding/baby showers, housewarming parties, or even for small gestures. They are something small that make a big impact.

 

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What tips do you have? Leave them in the comments!

Mason Jar Caesar Pasta Salad

Happy Monday! I see we all made it through the weekend (we had a cyclone bomb storm) without blowing away

*these were supposed to be chicken Caesar salads, but the chicken I bought was so tasty I gobbled it up before it made it’s way in (no regrets). I have a hard time making chicken that tastes good, so if I see shredded rotisserie chicken or breaded chicken bites at the deli counter on sale ($.99!), I make sure to grab some.

I’ve made almost this same recipe before (Chicken Caesar pasta salads), but it looks like I used a different pasta this time around. It’s so good, it made it to the repeat list!

1 box of pasta

Cherry tomatoes

Shredded carrots

Broccoli

Caesar dressing

Romaine lettuce

Cook the pasta according to the box, run with cold water to cool and add dressing and veggies. Give it a good stir and stuff it in the bottom of your mason jars. Wash and cut lettuce, jam it on top. Easy peasy! Would be good with chicken and parmesan cheese, croutons or more veggies. And it’s filling!

I also had a craving for yogurt with fruit, so I picked up a tub of Vanilla Greek Yogurt with Honey at Aldi ($3.49), bananas, and granola ($1.99!) and made a quick parfait, delicious!

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It so simple and makes a great mid-morning snack! Yum! What do you top with your yogurt with?

P.S. I’m counting down the days until spring, fresh fruit, and warmer temperatures (23 days)

Goals for the week: Get the house clean for company, cook a bomb lunch for everyone, yoga, figure out how to fix a leaky sink, pick a date for our housewarming party

Meal prepping made easy

After a crazy weekend, I’m back! We have the misfortunate adventure of replacing our furnace yesterday. After a few days with no heat (with the inside temperature in the low-mid 50s), then a few days of mostly safe heat (but with the chance of a carbon monoxide leak), we finally have our heat restored! I burned (get it, haha) a vacation day to hang out while they worked yesterday, and binge-watched all of You on Netflix (it was so good).

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My view from the kitchen – look at all that snow

When I tell people that I meal prep, I usually get a lot of questions, followed by “I would never have time to do all that”. But it’s easy my friends, if you have a slow cooker! Mentally, it’s been a rough rough winter, and I didn’t want to cook. It’s too cold outside for a quick salad to sound desirable and lunchmeat doesn’t settle well. So I bought some baby potatoes and some chicken thighs, found some carrots in my fridge, and presto, dinner for a few days!

I tossed this all in the crockpot and then forgot about it for 6 whole hours. We went and visited with The Beard’s family and ate delicious burgers (burgers in February really help with the winter blues). All I had to do when I got home was to turn off the crockpot, portion up the food, and clean up.

I also washed up a bag of grapes for a quick snack, made hard boiled eggs, and have peanut butter and jelly for lunch. It’s better to be a little bit more prepared, then not prepared at all. For weeks when you would rather phone it in, consider something quick and hassle-free.

What’s your favorite go-to quick meal?

 

Mini thrift haul

Thrift hauls are one of my favorite to troll through, I love seeing the treasures! I stopped in Saturday morning because we were in need of a new lamp for the bedroom. For some reason the thrift store I popped into keeps the lamps on the tallest shelf, so this was actually the only one I could reach. Luckily, I thought it was perfect!

It actually pretty cute! It has a pretty interesting shape and is a nice small size, perfect for the nightstand. The color could be improved, so I may consider spray painting it once the weather warms up a bit. $6.99

I also picked up four place mats for out kitchen table, they just needed a quick washing.

I’m really digging the pattern and color scheme. The Beard picked up a table cloth as well, that matches the blue in the place matts. $1.99

One thing we should have registered more for at our wedding shower, serving dishes!

Perfect for chips and dip, or fruit and yogurt. And the fun colors! $0.99

And last, but not least, a purple shirt dress.

I can never pass up a shirt dress, they are so versitile and can transition easily from warm to cooler weather. And this bold color 😍 can’t wait for spring! $5.99

Well that’s it for this mini haul, hope to do another one in the next couple of weeks.

The homeowners learning curve

If you’ve been following along for a while, you would know that my husband and I recently purchased a condo. We have lived together in three different apartments before this. Even though I hated living in an apartment, it was nice not having to worry about the maintenance when something would (and did) go wrong.

Some highlights: our upstairs neighbor’s toilet sprang a leak – causing it to rain in our apartment, the handle to the bathroom door broke – causing me to get locked in, our pipes froze, our shower wouldn’t turn off, we flooded our own bathroom, we’ve had countless issues with the dishwasher, we accidently turned on the garbage disposal with a shot glass in it, we’ve been locked out, we’ve had bees, earwigs, and ants, we’ve had issues with mold and my vehicle was stolen right out of our apartment complexes parking lot (but maybe that wasn’t their fault)

And the best part, all we had to do was call someone! Although we have a lot of great memories (5 years of them!), I sure don’t miss parking under a carport or in the lot, sharing a laundry room or loading money onto a laundry card, or having neighbors living above us. Owning a home, or a condo, is so much more rewarding, but comes with a lot more challenges.

The very first thing we did after we moved in was to replace our hot water heater, as it was already 20 years old and we did not want to mess with that sucker bursting. Shout out to my mother in law for calling around for us to find an affordable price. Learning curve: finding the right person for the job, for the right price.

We moved in a few days before Christmas, and got various gift cards as gifts, which was super helpful! We picked up a bench and shelf for the entry way – and they were a nightmare to put together! But they sure look cute there. Learning curve: assembling furniture is difficult, try not to kill each other in the process.

We painted a closet! Our master bedroom has two closets and the closet organizer in The Beards closet just wasn’t cutting it. We purchased a new one, which took ages to arrive. In the meantime we spackled and painted the closet white. Painting takes a lot more patience and precision then I remember. We did pretty good though, no paint messes!Learning curve: Painting sucks, use the buddy system (paint with someone more experienced then you) The closet looked so much better with a fresh coat of paint, but I’m not ready to tackle a whole room yet.

We’ve also had to install toilet paper holders, hand towel holders, and towel bars for our shower towels. How is it that people lived without them?! They were a disaster to put in (poor instructions, broken anchors, and lots of frustration) but I now know where anchors and screws are located at our local Lowes. Learning curve: don’t attempt these projects hangry or tired, you’ll mangle the anchors trying to get them in the wall correctly.

Our new biggest issue is our garage door. We were really struggling to get it closed (or to stay closed) in the cold weather, but yesterday morning we couldn’t get the dang thing opened. Learning curve: how the heck do we fix the garage door? It would be great if we didn’t have to pay someone to look at it, but I’m not sure we know how fix it. We have someone scheduled to come out and take a look at it for us!

We also have an outside light we can’t figure out how to get into to change the bulb, hopefully we can figure this one out once the weather warms up.

We did host our first party over the weekend, for the SuperBowl, and that was also a learning curve. I made way too much food! We will be eating (and possibly freezing) taco ingredients for the next week. I suppose too much food is better than not enough, so we did ok there. It is so nice to be able to have the space to have friends and family over, looking forward to doing it again soon! Also, any recipe suggestions? I need to find some go-to recipes for when we have family over.

Future projects: Fix the garage door // Organize inside the garage // Change outside light bulb // Paint // Backsplash in the kitchen // Organize the laundry room // Clean the carpets // Organize the pantry – I’m sensing a theme here, we have a lot of organizing to do to make our space work better for us!

What was your biggest learning curve with your first home?

A few snap shots of our home ❤️