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Monday Montage: Yardwork

Hope everyone enjoyed their weekend. It was absolutely beautiful outside and I think I spent about 95% of it in my yard.  As a result I of course got a little sunburn but it felt so good to soak up the sun.

This weekend the focus was yard work.

I mowed my first lawn! Ok, I know that might sound girly and pathetic, but I have two brothers so I never mowed the lawn at home, and last summer we had a severe drought so Nolan only cut the grass a few times all summer.

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My lines might not be straight but I was so proud of my work!

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Yard work ALSO meant yet another trip to Home Depot….

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We found ourselves there on Saturday afternoon getting more mulch because what I have learned is that a bag of mulch looks a LOT bigger than it really is. How many bags do you think it took to cover this area? Guess.

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TWELVE! The answer is twelve.  Unreal amount. We did red in the back and black in a few spots in the front yard. It was a lot of work but we are so happy with how it looks!

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After an afternoon of yard work, I decided to take it easy the rest of the day and threw together a little snack after a quick trip to Trader Joe’s.

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I capped off the night with a fire in our fire pit. <3

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Sunday started with a trip to the dog park and then guess where? Yup, back to Home Depot.

Nolan and I were determined to build our own garden bed for our back yard but the necessary lumber just won’t fit in either of our little Mazda sedans. Luckily my in laws and their truck were making a trip to HD themselves so we tagged along and took full advantage of their trunk space.

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I will admit, I was VERY skeptical about our abilities to build something from scratch but before we knew it…

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I am so excited about this garden! It’s a 8′ x 4′ x 11″. We are going to keep it simple this year because we have a lot of critters in our back yard and we are not sure how this garden thing is going to go.

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Next weekend we will go BACK to HD and begin planting. Summer is so close I can taste it!

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Date Night: Dah Mee

Last week was Nolan’s turn to plan date night. When it’s your “turn” it’s your responsibility to plan the date, drive, and pay. Yes we share $ but we each have separate accounts as well. Having the other pay just feels more special even though it’s all inevitably coming out of the same place. Romantic, huh? 😉 Anyway, Nolan took me to a new-to-me restaurant called Dah Mee in the next town over. This is a Thai, Japaneese restaurant that is usually really intimidating to me. When I am out of my cultural element my order is limited to the words on the menu I can pronounce. Since Nolan had been here a few times he actually ordered for me, old school style.

We started with an order of Shumai- steamed shrimp dumplings which were excellent and full of flavor. We split two entrees the Ok Dol Bi Bim Bab (Stone Pot)- Display of exotic vegetable, egg touch of sesame oil on top of rice in a sizzling stone pot; served with miso soup and Korean hot chili sauce on the side and the house lo mein special with pork.

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We played a game of musical chopsticks, constantly grabbing off the other person’s plate. This type of food is never something I order so this was such a nice change and really really good.

On our way home Nolan stopped at Dairy Queen and bought me an ice cream. The perfect ending to the date.

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It’s funny, Nolan and I have been together since March 2006. We stopped going on “dates” 10 years ago. We live together and talk consistently by text throughout every day. However having a “date night” feels different. I can’t explain it but our attitude and the way we talk and treat each other is just different on those nights.

Before he got home from work on this day I ran 3 miles on the treadmill and was a sweaty mess. Instead of just rolling with it,  I actually showered, got dressed up, and put on makeup for our date which was just so fun and yes a little corny. On this date Nolan didn’t tell me where we were going and I was giddy the whole way to the restaurant. It’s so important when you have been together as long as we have to keep those feelings alive and to still do special things together.

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This Week’s Eats {5/16/17}

One day down, 4 more to go! IDK what is wrong but I am still feeling so tired and just off. Ever have those weeks?  Luckily it’s supposed to get really warm so hopefully the nice weather will get me out of my mini funk. I also had my final professional development class yesterday after work!

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Because I have been feeling so blah, I looked for as little to do prep wise as possible this week. I am also trying to get some more calories into my meals to boost my energy level.

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This week for breakfast there was no prep involved, except buying the ingredients. Half an avocado on a Thomas English Muffin. I am a huge avocado fan and spread over bread with sea salt and fresh cracked pepper is about as good as it gets! It’s also portable which means I can hit snooze once or twice in the a.m and still get to work on time. My mornings have also been starting off great because Nolan and I stocked up on coffee this weekend.

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Let me tell you, if you aren’t buying your k-cups at Christmas Tree Shop you’re an idiot. An 80 pack of Green 20170515_202142Mountain Coffee for $25?!?! That’s about $0.30 cents a cup!

 

As I said, I’m going low maintenance this week so Chobani it is for snack this week.

 

For lunch I baked (actually Nolan did because I was napping) a few chicken breasts with olive oil and Spicy Montreal Chicken seasoning. I plan to have a salad every day, switching up the veggies and dressings each day. Today I covered the chicken in buffalo sauce and topped it with Ken’s light Ranch dressing.

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Super low key but flavorful.

So as I said, not a ton of prep done this week but it’s makes for mindless lunch packing and morning functioning. Nolan also made a lot of extra bonus chicken when he made my lunch. We already used some for dinner last night because I didn’t get home from my class until 6:30, and I’m sure it will find it’s way into a quick and easy meal later this week.

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Monday Montage: Adulting

I don’t know why but I am absolutely exhausted.  This weekend was busier than I originally planned, but I did get an average of 8 hrs of sleep a night and took a nap both days. Nap?! I am NOT a napper but clearly my body needed it.

This was my Friday night.

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I was too tired to cook anything so this was dinner. I ended up having 2 glasses of wine and a few handfuls of croutons before I passed out on the couch around 9. Such a glamorous life I lead.

Saturday started off with a trip the the dog park

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Terrible picture right? That’s what I get for trying to take a pic while walking. That white blob is Casey taking off into the woods!

After the walk, Brian and I went on a little adventure. I have decided that he and I are getting into Geocaching this summer. Geocaching is essentially a worldwide scavenger hunt. People hide small boxes and trinkets throughout the town and you use your phone and GPS coordinates to track and locate the cache! We found our first one in Saturday!

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I cannot wait to see what adventures geocaching has in store for us this summer.

Later that day Nolan and I headed to Home Depot to look at some fencing and garden supplies. OVER.WHELMING.

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We are hoping to begin fencing in our backyard this summer so we really just went to look at pricing and materials. To be honest, we walked around for about an hour  pretending we had a clue what we were doing. We didn’t buy anything fence wise but we did end up leaving with a few bags of mulch.

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We rewarded ourselves for all that adulting with lunch at Beer Works. Yum!

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On Mother’s Day, we celebrated with my mom and that side of the family with a delicious brunch. I realized on my way home that I didn’t take any pictures while I was there but here are some recent pics with my mommy.

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We look nothing alike, huh?

Sunday night consisted of a nap, a quick walk on the treadmill, and some very minimal food prep for the week. More of that to come tomorrow!

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My Top 5 Favorite 3 Ingredient Chicken Dinners

When you’re my age, a teacher, a homeowner, and in a serious relationship with Sallie Mae you are constantly looking for the best way to save some money in the the kitchen. Buying chicken in bulk is something Nolan and I do to keep costs down during the week so I am always looking for creative ways to cook it. However, it’s good to have those standby, low maintenance meals in your back pocket that you pull out and guarantee yourself and your family a great meal. Below are my top 5 favorite 3 ingredient chicken dinner recipes.

A pet peeve of mine is when people say something requires “3 ingredients” but they don’t count certain items as ingredients. I stuck to meals that truly require 3 things with the exception of water. All of these meals include ingredients that we always have on hand. Because these are our go-to meals, I try to stock up on the necessary ingredients when we go shopping but most are things that build up in our pantry.

  1. Chicken Bruschetta Bake

All you need for this filling meal is chicken (breasts or thighs), a can of diced tomatoes, and a box of stuffing mix.20170503_180059

When I’m making this for Nolan and I, I  use 8 oz of chicken, a small can of tomatoes, and about 1/2 a box of chicken stuffing mix. I start by cutting up the chicken into bite sized pieces and fill the bottom of a small square casserole dish. Next dump a can of diced tomatoes undrained into a single layer over the chicken. In a bowl, mix the stuffing with water until it’s damp but not saturated and pile it on top of the tomatoes making the top layer. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the chicken looks done at 375.  I sometimes class this one up with a cheese layer, or basil when I have it. It def adds a little extra but it’s not necessary.

2. Chicken Stir Fry

This is the one thing we eat the most. There are hundreds of ways and ingredients you can use to make it but my absolute favorite is chicken, Trader Joe’s Harvest Hodgepodge, and World Harbor Jamaican Jerk Sauce. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, cook them in a skillet in about stir2 tbsp of sauce. When the chicken is just about cooked, add in the bag of vegetables and cook until they are thawed and tender. Top the mix with more sauce and enjoy!

 

Nolan loved this mix over rice but I usually just eat it as is!

3. Cheesy Chicken and Spinach Pasta

This was a recent creation because I got hooked on frozen creamed spinach a few months ago. Weird, I know, but frozen vegetables are like fucking GOLD in our house. All you need for this one is chicken, pasta, and a bag of frozen creamed spinach.

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While pasta is cooking, throw 1 inch chunks of chicken breast into a skillet and cook until it’s done. While that’s happening, the steamable pack of spinach can cook in the microwave.  Add the pasta to the skillet of chicken and pour the cooked spinach sauce over everything and enjoy!

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4. Pulled BBQ Chicken in the crock pot

This is a classic in the Sullivan house and it doesn’t really get easier. It’s no secret that I am a huge crock pot fan because it’s low maintenance and there is just nothing better than coming home to the smell of dinner being ready. The three ingredients for this meal are frozen chicken breast (1 or 2 depending on how many you are feeding) bbq sauce, and chopped onions.  IMAG4466When it’s just Nolan and I, I throw one frozen chicken breast, about a cup of bbq sauce, and a diced onion into the crock pot and set it to low for 8 hours. About 20 minutes before we want to eat, I drain some of the extra liquid so it’s not watery, pull the chicken apart with two forks, and add in another cup or two of bbq sauce. Let it sit for 20 minutes and then enjoy.

I make this a lot during the summer when we have backyard barbecues. It;s something different from the traditional hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, and it’s a super cheap and easy way to feed a lot of people. Nolan usually puts his on a bun and eats it like a pulled pork sandwich but I usually eat it plain with a side or two.

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5. Shredded Chicken and Spaghetti

To go along number 4, I make something very similar with chicken breast and tomato 20170507_143506sauce in the crock pot. In fact, it’s what I am having for lunch this week! All you need for this one is chicken breast, a jar of spaghetti sauce, I love Ragu, and your favorite pasta or spaghetti squash. Toss a frozen chicken breast or two into the crock pot with about a cup of spaghetti sauce and cook it on low for 8 hours. 20 minutes before dinner, drain some of the extra liquid so it’s not watery, pull the chicken apart with two forks, and add in another cup or two of sauce. Let it sit for 20 minutes and then serve over pasta or spaghetti squash.

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So there you have it! Those are my current favorite chicken recipes, all of which require only 3 ingredients, and probably cost less than $6 each to make. You could buy a family pack of chicken breasts on Sunday for $12 and make all of these recipes Monday-Friday. Up for it?

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