When people find out that I compete in pageants, I get one of two responses. The first (and most common) is usually, “Wow, that sounds like fun! What’s your talent?” (Thankfully Mrs. pageants do not require you to have a talent!)  The second response isn’t so positive, and usually consists of a raised eyebrow and maybe even a snarky comment.

I never take offense to the latter response. To be quite honest, I had no idea how much work and commitment went into pageants until I competed in my first one last year. If your only experience with pageants is what you see on TV, you would never know about the sacrifices, the determination, or the confidence it takes to get up stage and literally be judged.  It’s easy to only notice the hair and makeup, and assume that pageants are based on physical beauty alone. Trust me when I tell you, they are not!

My personal journey to the Mrs. California stage has be life changing to say the least. Aside from learning how to gracefully walk in heels, the biggest challenge I faced this year was the way in which I regarded myself. Physically I knew I could go through the motions, walk on stage and smile, but mentally I wasn’t sure if I could fill the heels of the Mrs. California title. I am proud to say that after a lot of work, and with the help from my faith, family, and coach I have overcome any self doubt. This April 13th I cannot wait to show my family, friends and the judges what this woman is really capable of!

It goes without saying that pageant prep also consists of super healthy eating! Kale has been my go-to super food with it’s dark green leaves packed with vitamin K, A, and C. It works in smoothies, juices, salads and my new favorite recipe, sautéed in fried rice! Just like having beauty and brains, it’s the perfect combination of healthy and delicious.

At the end of the day, when the makeup has been washed off and the gown put away, true beauty is when the inside is just as, (if not more) beautiful than the outside.

I rely on skillet meals when my life feels like it’s in overdrive. Dinner is on the table in 30 minutes or less, the clean up is quick, and the possibilities are endless.

A few days ago, (before t-ball practice and after homework time) I had a pound of ground turkey, some random veggies, and a jar of marinara sauce that was begging to be thrown into my cast iron skillet. With the help of some mini farfalle and a few dollops of ricotta cheese, I had a meal so worthy of seconds, my boys were fighting over the last few bites. No joke! Little did they know this baked, cheesy dish was packed with veggies, (spinach AND carrots) and I didn’t even have to negotiate a dessert to get them to clean their plates. Thank goodness for dinners that help make my families’ life healthier and my life easier!

Our weekday breakfast routine versus our weekend breakfast couldn’t be anymore different. Technically it’s same meal, but the similarities end there.

Weekend breakfasts are easy going, involving crispy bacon, something freshly baked, and eggs cooked to order, served with a kiss. During the week we roll out of bed, grumble good morning to each other, and quickly put together a bagel, toast, or a bowl of oatmeal. When our days are especially busy, I’ll surprise my boys and bring a little weekend comfort to our hectic weekday mornings with these baked egg muffins.

Stuffed with yummy weekend goodies like ham, cheese or potatoes, this easy, hot breakfast gets everyone fed and ready to start their fast paced day with a full tummy, and a smile!

If you do nothing, nothing will ever happen.

Nothing good, nothing bad, nothing exciting, nothing terrifying. Absolutely, positively nothing.

Do you have a something in mind? Something that you would like to do or carry out? Maybe you feel that you don’t have enough time, patience, money, knowledge, or resources to do whatever it is you are wanting to accomplish. My advice to counter that would be to take the closest step in the direction you are wanting to go. Running around the block can lead into running a marathon. Writing in your journal can turn into writing that novel. Reading a recipe might push you to host (and cook for!) your first dinner party and four measly strips of bacon can inspire a new favorite family dinner.

You don’t have to have it all figured out today, you just have take that first small (yet very BIG) step. To get somewhere, you need to start somewhere because doing nothing at all will always get you nowhere!

Jan 24

Salad for One

When I was a working mom, finding time to squeeze a healthy, quick lunch into my busy afternoon at the salon was almost impossible. I never planned ahead (ie. bring lunch to work!) and by the time noon rolled around I could be found stuffing pizza into my face while trying to get ready for my next client! Since becoming a stay-at-home mom I try my hardest to have lunch at home. When it comes to In-N-Out burgers, Chick-Fil-A sandwiches, or Freebirds burritos, I have absolutely zero willpower! It doesn’t help that these places surround the area where the bulk of my errands are ran. Because I am so easily tempted by french fries and refried beans, I try to keep my time spent around these places short! I also keep my pantry, fridge, and fruit bowl stocked with easy, fresh ingredients that can be quickly thrown into a lunch time salad.

To keep a potentially boring ol’ salad appetizing, I follow a few simple rules. First, my lunch salad needs to come together in 10 minutes or less! Anymore prep time than that and I’ll wind up wishing that I stopped for tacos instead! Second, these salads must contain something crunchy, savory, sweet, and substantial! This way all of my cravings are met, except for when I get a random lunch time cookie craving. I still haven’t figured out how to beat that one! Lastly, I don’t limit my salad dressing to just lemon juice! Olive oil, dijon, garlic, a little sour cream, anything goes as long as I can quickly shake my dressing up in a screw top jar!

To help make quick salad assembly easy for you, I put together a list of the ingredients I always have on hand! Lunch doesn’t have to be a forgotten afterthought or an indulgence in fast food. With a little preparation lunch time can easily become one of the loveliest parts of your day!

I’ve been looking forward to my 35th birthday since I turned 30. Not that I wanted to hurry up and fast forward through my early thirties! I just had a feeling that 35 would be the year when it would all start to make sense. When I could finally be totally comfortable with the girl I was and with the woman I am suppose to be. When I with assurance would start to recognize my strengths and begin to walk confidently in them. When I without question understand that the strength and love found in my family, friends, and faith is all I need in this world to make me beautifully whole.

Last but not least, when I without apology can share a casserole recipe with you! Here’s the deal, I’m really good at throwing an awesome casserole together. Call it a talent, a skill, or just a weird sense of knowing what combination of ingredients will taste good topped with cheese and baked together for 20 minutes! Whatever you want to call it, I’ve got it.  This brussels sprout casserole I made a few days ago, it’s a keeper. It has all of the qualities a casserole requires; a starch, a veggie, a sauce, and of course cheese! Add a little crispy bacon and my family was in casserole heaven! It’s not the most innovative or cook book worthy dish, but we loved it and I think you will too!

Happy New Years to you, and happy 35th birthday to me!

I think it’s silly that cranberry sauce is served almost exclusively around the holidays. While it’s an important part of a very traditional meal, why should we save this lovely, tart condiment for just two dinners a year?!

Along that same sentiment, why does the act of giving seem to be more important during the holiday months than any other time?  It’s great to recognize how blessed you are during a season filled with so much, and to give when you are lead. Why do we reserve this selfless, loving act to just two months out of the year?

Don’t feel bad, I am guilty of saving both cranberries and giving for the holidays. What if we decided to change that? Instead of waiting all year to enjoy these beautiful traditions, let’s continue to give (and eat cranberry sauce) throughout the new year. I know, easier said than done. I completely understand how quickly everyday life takes over. Luckily giving can be as easy as checking in on a neighbor, making sure your child’s teacher has the supplies she needs, or even asking a stranger how her day is going. Giving doesn’t have to be big to be effective. It just needs to be needed.

As for cranberry sauce, I personally enjoy it more on this simple pork dish instead of trying to find a place for it on a overflowing holiday plate!

A few weeks ago my youngest asked why I didn’t make smoothies in the winter time. Good question, I thought! During the warmer months I love throwing all kinds of healthy stuff into my blender and watching my boys drink to their health. It makes even more sense to whip up healthy concoctions during a wicked cold and flu season, doesn’t it? Leave it to a six year old to say the most obvious thing. Totally off subject, but my husband and I can not believe that our youngest just turned 6. Our house that was once full of babies is now officially a house full of big boys. Wow, that went by fast.

Back to the subject at hand! Since the best part of a smoothie is the seasonal fruit and goodies, I decided to incorporate pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg into this mix. Did you know that pumpkin is full of vitamin C, which helps keep the sniffles away? It also has tons of vitamin A and magnesium in it, which keeps our kiddos teeth and bones strong. That’s a good thing, because in my recent experience I’ve noticed that kids grow up fast. The better we feed them now, the happier and stronger they will be later on!

My favorite Thanksgiving memory did not happen on turkey day itself, but a few days afterward. A handful of our friends had the brilliant idea to Christmas tree hunt in the woods instead of taking he usual trip to the Christmas tree lot. Unfortunately we were not talking about a tidy Christmas tree farm. Instead we ended up in the snow, up a hill, somewhere in Tahoe, trespassing with a chainsaw. Our friend Mark said it best when he declared that this could be the best idea that we’ve ever had, or the absolute worst.

None of us are huge fans of the snow, so of course none of came prepared with snow jackets, boots, or gloves. Two shivering hours later, Sarah (the most adventurous in our group) marched down the hill proudly dragging behind her a very wild looking Christmas tree. The rest of us were perfectly ok admitting defeat and heading home empty handed.  Thankfully the whole day wasn’t a bust! Earlier, before our group headed out Sarah’s mother-in-law filled our bellies with bowls of her homemade day-after-thanksgiving-soup for lunch. We all thoroughly enjoyed a few bowls of golden turkey broth full of stuffing, veggies, and of course turkey. So even though our Christmas tree adventure (disaster) didn’t turn into a tradition, this Thanksgiving leftover soup did!

On your marks… Get set… GO!

Does anybody else feel like they are in a race the moment Halloween decorations are put away and Thanksgiving recipes and Christmas lights appear.

How should we cook the turkey this year? Traditional cranberry sauce or a chutney? Apple pie, pumpkin pie, whipped cream, ice cream, or all of the above? Should we try caroling this year? A real tree or artificial? White lights or colored? Twinkling or still? A fun family getaway or gifts?

The questions are endless but unfortunately our time spent in this season meant for family and togetherness is not.  This holiday I’m going to try my hardest to not sweat the small stuff. I will appreciate my own quirky, simple decorations instead of feeling insecure over the perfect works of crafty art I see online. I will pick quality time with my family and friends over stressing and planning. Instead of busyness I will do my best to fill our holiday season with the important things; family movie nights, hot chocolate, cozy socks, flannel sheets and enjoying warm buttered cinnamon raisin bread by a crackling fire.