What’s on my Plate | #05

I think it’s about time for a good salad hack, isn’t it? Welcome to the What’s on My Plate raw veggie edition. For more healthy meal ideas for your own weight loss journey click the series graphic at the end of this post.

What's on my Plate | #05

Salads are kind of a staple weight loss meal, but they definitely don’t have to be boring. Start with your favorite green lettuce and add as many colorful veggies as you can. Whatever you do, don’t skip the onions, feta, and a good low-cal dressing, because flavor is extremely important (at least to me). 

Olive Garden(ish) Salad Hack

2 points per serving

The secret to this hack lies completely in the Light Olive Garden Restaurant Italian Dressing. It’s not a brand every store carries, but I’ve found it at Mariano’s and Heinen’s (much to my delight). 

What you need:

  • 1 head artisan romaine lettuce, chopped (or 3 cups) - 0 points
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped – 0 points
  • 1 persian cucumber, sliced – 0 points
  • 1/3 of a red onion, sliced – 0 points
  • 1/3 of an orange pepper, chopped – 0 points
  • 1-1/2 ounces Trader Joe’s Fat Free Crumbled Feta – 1 point
  • 1/4 cup Light Olive Garden Restaurant Italian Dressing – 1 point

How to make it:

Combine ingredients in a large salad bowl. Toss and enjoy.

I feel like this picture is slightly deceptive because this salad is GINORMOUS. Go ahead, I dare you to be hungry.

WhatsOnMyPlate

DIY Chore Board {FREE Printables}

I’ve seen several chore boards online and in stores and have loved the concept, but haven’t been able to bring myself to pull the trigger on spending the money times TWO. Leaning into the inspiration from our Family Schedule Board, I created a family Chore Board. Read on for information on how to organize your own, and to download FREE printable sheets of the days of the week, chore words, and smiley faces I’ve used for ours.

DIY Chore Board with Free Printables

What you Need

  • Magnetized Dry Erase Board
  • Roll of 1/2″-1″ wide magnetic tape
  • Roll of 3/4″ black electrical tape
  • Yardstick
  • Scissor
  • Chore Board Printable Files (below)
DIY Chore Board Printable Graphic

Fonts: Regular & Mathlete Skinny | Photo Sources: Laundry Basket, Vacuum Cleaner, Bear, Fork Knife Spoon, Fish, Shoes, Trash Can, Rake

Chore Board Printable Files

How to set it up

1. Grid the dry erase board

Tiles are approximately 1-1/4″ square (smiley faces) and 1-1/4″ X 2-1/2″ rectangles (chore words and days of the week). You’ll divide your board according to those measurements, taking into consideration how many children you are placing on a board, and how many chores you plan to list. I decided to divide a 32″ X 19″ board into two, with seven spaces for each child for chore words.

Measuring from the CENTER of a piece of electrical tape, each box’s approximate measurements for MY board are listed below:

  • Chore words – 3″X2″
  • Days of the week – 2″X3″
  • Smiley Faces – 2″X2″
  • Child’s Picture – 3″X3″

2. Prepare the magnets

Dividing your board will probably be the most challenging part of this project. Once you’ve got a grid, print and laminate the printables I’ve provided above. Cut into appropriate squares and rectangles, slap a magnet to the back and you’re done.

How it Works (practically speaking)

I know I don’t need to go into specifics on how to actually USE a chore board, but I did want to mention how much more helpful and aware my boys have become since we put ours up.

Our chore board hangs in the living room, where they can see it frequently throughout the day. They each have their own set of smiley face magnets to put up when they complete a chore, and I have seen them grow in their attention to their daily responsibilities. We give them a very small commission for their contribution at the end of the week, and they are learning some very important money lessons by dividing that commission out between their Give, Live, Save jars.

I’m not sure why we didn’t start this sooner. I’m getting some practical help throughout the week, the boys are learning age-appropriate responsibility, and everybody loves the positive vibe the smileys give. This has been a win for our family on so many levels.

Hope it helps your family too :).

Just in case you need to add a few more personalized chore words of your own, check out the Happy Housewife’s wonderful tool – Age Appropriate Chores for Kids.

Linked Here: Frugal Friday at SarahTitus.com, LivingWellSpendingLess.com

on glory days, witching hours, and finding sanity

This is one of those momma posts that has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while, waiting for my little family to grow up enough to get my head above water, gain some perspective, and breathe.

We’re just now emerging out of this season, but it’s still real enough to remember. Take heart Momma of littles. You’re not crazy, and you’re not alone . . .

There is such a thing as the witching hour.

Parents of littles can back me up on this. You know what time it hits, what kinds of crazy you’re in for, and that no one ever believes what happens to your normally sane and beautiful family in that awful period of time.

In our house it usually starts at 4PM. Mike is just home from work, peering in through the window, and by the look in my wide and pleading eyes he knows. He just knows it’s begun.

Someone is hungry. Someone is running. Someone is crying. Someone is always crying, and dinner is yet a figment of my imagination. He pauses for a moment, wondering if he should ask me why, but wisely and tensely smiles at me instead.

Somehow the children are distracted enough for food to be made and set on the dining room table, littered as it is with toys and the pile of stray papers that is my office. There are shrill and piercing questions about what is in the food, and what it’s called, and why it smells so funny, over the blaring ring of our fire alarm, if I’ve opted to use the oven.

Still the witching hour wears on. Other parents know that the crazy hour is rarely just a period of time confined to sixty minutes. We could all handle that properly, I think. Once it’s begun, it’s usually a one-way disaster train to bedtime, leaving us exhausted wondering how we ever made it to the end of the evening.

It’s in the witching hour most, that I remember the glory days.

They are fuzzy with the kind of glow that comes from rose colored glasses, or the sunshine haze of movie dream sequences. Memories of a newly married life that play out more like a script from some Pottery Barn commercial, than anything close to reality.

Mike and I hold hands as we retire to our spacious home in the middle of a wood at the end of a beautiful work-day. The two of us, stand side-by-side preparing beautifully plated meals with a table set in our newly painted dining room. We have friends over with dessert and delightful conversation, all over the soft tones of Miles Davis wafting from the living room.

Before we and our company start playing board games, something inevitably brings me sharply back to reality, like the frantic race to remove bills from the milk spilled to the far reaches of the table, or the shriek of that fantastic fire alarm again. In those moments, what I’d like more than anything else, is to go hide in the pantry with a bag of Doritos until we grow out of the witching hour all together.

Because when I’m tired, and worn down from the complexities of a long day, I forget that glory days and witching hours are so incredibly subjective.

My glory-day memories never remind me of the long days, or stressful days, or days spent apart because of Mike’s travel schedule. I forget that on most days there was no company, no fancy dessert, no board games. I never wore colored glasses and our lights didn’t come preset with movie haze.

The truth is, the glory days are not as perfect as I remember, and the witching hours will not last forever.

And that’s where I find my sanity. Right in the middle. Holding onto the hope of glory days that will emerge from this season when I am tired, stress-eating, and answering the same question at dinner for the nine thousandth time. I know bedtime is coming, as are the years they grow up, and I purpose to remain present through all the moments I can.

Hang in there. It does get better. Promise.

It's Momplicated Archives

What’s on my Plate | #04

Hey-hey! It’s weight loss day! Hope you’re finding these meal hacks helpful in your own journey to better eating. For more meal ideas click What’s on My Plate or the series graphic at the end of this post.

#04

Tacos are a meal everyone can agree on in this house, but the chips and hard shells and flour burritos are not something I’m willing to add to my daily points. Swapping out spinach and making a salad is an easy hack that helps me stick to my weight loss goals and keep everyone else happy in the process.

Easy Taco Salad

8 points per serving

What I’ll include is a basic recipe, but add as many taco-friendly veggies as you’d like to help bulk up the meal. You could also add beans (which we have before) but remember it will add points to your total meal.

What you need (for one serving):

  • Spinach – 0 points
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice – 3 points
  • 3 ounces taco seasoned ground turkey breast – 4 points
    I make mine Jessica Seinfeld style with added vegetable purees and McCormick Taco Seasoning.
  • 1/4 cup fat free salsa – 0 points
  • 2 tbsp Trader Joe’s Reduced Guilt Chunky Guacamole – 1 point

How to make it:

Layer ingredients on your plate in the order above. Eat and enjoy!

WhatsOnMyPlate

Surviving Breast Cancer, BRCA1, and What We Can Do

For a very long time, breast cancer was something that affected other people. It existed, but in a reality parallel to my own. When my dad’s sister was diagnosed, this disease that was so easy for me to pretend would never affect me, or someone I loved, became very real and very personal. With my family’s permission, I’d like to share a little of their story today, and highlight some ways you can get involved for the women you love in your life.

Inge’s Story

Aunt Inge was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2013. Nearly immediately, she had a lumpectomy, and went on to complete eight rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. Just as she thought she was nearing the end of her cancer journey, in February, she found out she was BRCA1 positive.

What is BRCA1?

The BRCA1 gene naturally acts as a type of cancer suppressor, most notably for breast and ovarian cancers. Some of the coding in my aunt’s BRCA1 gene is missing, preventing it from doing that very important job. This translates to a high risk of recurrent cancer for her, and the odds that other family members could also carry the faulty gene.

Jenn’s Story

My cousin Jenn is one them. Shortly after the birth of her fifth child, she learned she had inherited the harmful BRCA1 mutation from her mom, and that each of her five children now have a 50% chance of inheriting the harmful mutation as well.

Fighting Proactively

Aunt Inge and my cousin Jenn have made the incredibly brave decision to each undergo a total hysterectomy and double mastectomy to significantly lower their cancer risk. The road ahead of them is still very long, but I am so incredibly proud of their decision to fight so proactively for themselves, and for the ones they love.

As far as cancer stories go, these are the kind you hope for. My aunt will end her fight with cancer in the best possible way – still with us – and my cousin Jenn has determined to not even give it a chance.

As a niece and a cousin, a daughter and a mom, I am thankful to the point of tears that these two women have so much more life to live.

Raising Awareness and How You can Help

On October 5, Jenn, her husband Tim, and their five kids will be participating in the 2014 Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure. They’ll be raising awareness and money to fund groundbreaking breast cancer research, education, and health initiatives across their country.

Even though we aren’t able to physically participate in the race, my family will be standing with them in ways we can, and you can too. To support Jenn and her family, and the thousands of Canadian women like my aunt, who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, visit their CIBC Run for the Cure page and click “donate now.”

More Information

October is Breast Cancer awareness month. If you haven’t already, take a few minutes to educate yourself on breast health, cancer, and hereditary risk. Have a conversation with your doctor and the at-risk women in your life, and find ways to get involved with cancer research in your area. There’s too much at stake to keep pretending.

Here are a few resources my family has found helpful: