My 2-week cooking challenge.

Having your own business, especially a new business, is tough. Every dollar made is put right back into the “this is what we need to survive fund”. Lately I have felt like I’m spending more and more money on food. I know that the price of food is going through the roof and we are feeling it in this house. I consistently strive to buy fresh foods and the healthiest cuts of meat I can find and afford but lately it’s been taking a big chunk of change to do that. A couple of things have me looking closely at where our money is going. The first one is a big one. My business is continuing to grow and this is a great thing but I am in a situation where it’s time to purchase more equipment and finish building out the garage. If we put a shed in our side yard, I can take over the entire garage and add two additional people to my classes. I have people waiting for spots to open up so the heat is on to get this done. Right now my list of equipment includes 4 additional women’s barbells, a couple of 45 lb. kettle bells and various size bumper plates. The other thing that is high on the list is a new lens for Sean. He’s been wanting one for awhile and it’s been pushed aside for too long.

The one area I feel we can save some cash or reallocate some cash is in food. I decided to take an inventory of all our food and cook meals for two weeks using only the food that we have. The only things that I am allowing myself to buy over the next two weeks are eggs, lettuce, coconut creamer and fruit for the kids.

My goal is to make enough food so that Sean will take his lunch 3 days a week. Between the money saved there along with the money saved by planning our meals and not popping in to the store a couple of times a week, we can save bunches. If my calculations are correct, I will have the equipment I need in three short months. Even sooner if I can find other places to start saving money.

If I was feeling like I was doing without, I no longer feel that way after writing down all of our food. Holy smokes. I went through the pantry, the fridge and two freezers. I wrote down everything with the exception of spices, oils and vinegars. I found food that I know I bought for a certain recipe but for some reason or another, I never made it. For example, I have 2 cans of tuna in olive oil, 4 packs of tuna in olive oil and 2 cans of tuna in water. Looks like I will be eating a lot of tuna over the next couple of weeks.

One of my struggles is that I find all these awesome recipes, write down the names of them in my notebook, make a grocery list and then I can’t remember where I found the recipe. Another weakness of mine is Pinterest. I had a genius moment and created a Pinterest board called “2-week cooking challenge” (brilliant name) and that is where I am posting all the recipes that I have found and will make. I have already made one and promptly deleted it. Homemade French vanilla coffee creamer. It was made with coconut milk, almond milk, maple syrup, honey and vanilla. Sounded great but I basically ruined perfectly good coconut milk by mixing it with almond. I also ruined a cup of coffee. Now I remember why I don’t do almond milk. Here is my Pinterest board if you are so inclined to see what I am making.

I’m not very organized and I really do have good intentions to be. Taking inventory of our food really got me back on that bus. I put everything into Excel so I have a running inventory that I can reference when I need to. Just working in Excel is a major accomplishment for me. I should get a medal for this.

Now that I have all of these fabulous recipes, it’s time to plan meals for the week. Here’s what is on the menu for this week:
Tuesday: Grilled chicken thighs, sweet potato fries, salad
Wednesday: Thai basil meat beef balls, zucchini noodles
Thursday: Chicken and vegetable lo-mein
Friday: Chicken nuggets, broccoli bacon salad
Saturday: Sirloin, roasted Brussels sprouts, salad
Sunday: Grilled chicken, grilled vegetables

That’s it for this week. I’m going to spend more time digging around for awesome recipes to try next week. Stay tuned for another post!


My new favorite thing: DIY laundry detergent!


I can’t believe it took me this long to make my own laundry detergent. I pinned this about 3 months ago and I’m just now getting around to making it. I am so excited about it that I had to share it with you all!

A little bit about me: I am FRUGAL. Sean may disagree on some things but for 99% of the time, FRUGAL is my middle name. Very rarely do I pay full price for anything. It has to be something pretty spectacular for me to pay full price. Like gasoline. When I shop deals online, I even shop the price of shipping. So when I found out that I could make my own laundry detergent for PENNIES and I would be ditching all the chemicals that are in the majority of store bought detergents, I was stoked. Now, when I was buying detergent in the past, I was buying the dye free and environmentally friendly soap. Not the cheapest stuff out there and I was buying a lot of it. My washer is constantly going, mostly with my workout clothes.

I have some pretty high expectations of my laundry detergent so I was kind of skeptical. I decided to test it out on Preston’s clothes first. I wasn’t too worried about botching his clothes. Everything looked great and smelled fresh. On to Kylie’s clothes. Same deal – bright, clean and fresh. Now comes the true test: my workout clothes and Sean’s soccer clothes. SCORE!

A word of advice if you decide to go this route. Do not wait until you are completely out of your current detergent before making your own! The “recipe” I use calls for Mrs. Meyers bar soap and you can’t buy that stuff anywhere! If anyone knows where I can find it in Austin, please let me know. I shopped around online and found the cheapest price for soap and shipping on Walgreen’s site. You can use any “natural” soap that you like, it doesn’t have to be Mrs. Meyers. I personally love the product so I knew I’d be happy with the scent. Let’s get to making some detergent!

Here is what you will need:
1 box of Borax
1 box of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
1 bar of Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Soap. I used Lavender and Lemon Verbena.
Cheese grater – I used my microplane. Just make sure to wash it really well after!
Essential Oils (optional)

Mix 1 cup of Borax with 1 cup of the washing soda. Add in 2 cups of grated soap and mix well! If you are happy with the scent, you are done. I mixed up a big batch with the lemon soap and a smaller batch with the lavender soap. I like my laundry to smell really fresh so I added drops of lemon and lavender essential oils to each batch. If you so this step, mix it up really well with a fork to make sure you don’t have any little oil clumps. This adds an extra layer of scent. All you need to use is 1/4 – 1/2 cup per load. I experimented and I used closer to 1/2 a cup because I wash big loads. You can also add 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar to your rinse cycle in place of your fabric softener!

Piece of cake! It works great, smells great and looks really cool in glass containers. Happy washing!

A few of my favorite things.

I strive to have some form of consistency in my life and the one thing that I can always count on is what I buy at the store. I love Costco. It has 95% of what I need so I do almost all of my shopping there. I hit HEB for coconut milk, bacon, lunch meat, veggies and fruit that I can’t find at Coscto. If you are not already a member of Costco, I highly recommend it. They carry organic meat, poultry, eggs and certain organic veggies and fruit when they are in season. The quality of veggies and fruit is really good. It may not all be organic but that’s ok. I’d love to be 100% organic but our budget doesn’t allow for it so I buy what I can. No matter what, I always buy organic eggs, chicken and ground beef. Any other cuts of meat I buy are lean like sirloin. If you do end up with a cut of meat that is not grass-fed, just cut off the extra fat and don’t stress about it.

Here are some pictures of what I buy on a normal trip to the store. Some other things that aren’t pictured that you can get for a great price at Costco are almond butter, olives, artichoke hearts, maple syrup and nuts.

Veggies! Avocadoes (super cheap!), organic salad mix, baby bella mushrooms, celery, baby cucumbers (I’m going to make my own pickles.), English cucumbers and kale salad. I also buy asparagus, red bell peppers and brussell sprouts.


Protein! Rotisserie chicken, sirloin steak, organic eggs and organic ground beef. I also buy organic ground turkey and organic chicken thighs. They carry organic chicken breast but personally I think thighs have much more flavor.


More protein! Sausage and Canadian bacon.


Coconut oil. This giant jar is only $15.


Pure Irish grass-fed butter. Once you taste this butter, you’ll never go back to the regular stuff.


Chicken broth. Can’t beat this deal.


Now for the non-Costco items. Coconut milk and creamer. Always buy unsweetened.


Ostrim sticks. Little sticks of protein. These are the BEST go to snacks. I keep at least three of them in my purse or bag. We go through these like crazy so I order them in bulk from Amazon and it comes out to be about half of what you pay for them in the store. I order two kinds: the natural flavor which is a mix of ostrich and beef and the second on is a maple brown sugar turkey stick.


And last but not least, supplements. Here’s what I am currently taking. I’ll be adding in Advocare protein shakes in a couple of weeks.


That’s it! Happy fueling!

Paleo recipe site discovery!

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been “loosely” following the Zone plan and I have definitely seen and felt a difference in the way I feel and look. I recently saw a picture of a chick who did a strict 30-day paleo and Zone diet and the results were awesome. It was the motivation I needed to take this on myself. I know everyone is different and I may or may not end up with ripped abs at the end of 30 days but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Because I have to really plan things out, I’ve started digging around for new recipes and came across this awesome site. They have some really tasty looking recipes that I’m excited to try. I’m going to spend the next couple of days planning out meals in 2-week blocks. That way if there is something that we’ve tried (my family doesn’t realize it yet but they are doing this with me) and it is really great, I can make it again. It will also give me the chance to prep as much as I can. I do have to say that my family is 100% behind me on whatever I chose to do so this isn’t their first rodeo on going strict paleo.

It’s all going down starting February 25. I’m not going to fool myself and say I’m going to be good on my birthday weekend cuz I know I’m not. I’d also like for this to be the first big thing I do at the awesome age of 44.

Stay tuned for updates!

The face of pancreatic cancer.

I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer on February 25, 1999. Four days after my 30th birthday. Everyone was terrified that he was going to die on my birthday but I was actually ok with it. The date on which on which he was going to die didn’t matter to me but the fact that he was dying did. He skipped my birthday and died on the birthday of one of my oldest friends from high school. Sorry about that Nikki. I know that sucked for you.

Here’s the thing about pancreatic cancer. It is an ugly, painful and unforgiving cancer and there is no cure. It is the fourth most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the Unites States and 10th worldwide. People with early pancreatic cancer usually do not show any warning signs and if they do, they are pretty varied. If caught soon enough and if the tumors have not spread outside the pancreas, the pancreas can be removed and survival is pretty good. This usually only happens in about 5% of cases. 95% of people diagnosed with this cancer will die within 5 years of diagnosis and out of those 80% will only make it 6 to 10 months. Most people don’t realize that it is that big of a killer.


My dad is only 63 years old in this picture. He looks like he is 80. This cancer sucks the life out of you very, very fast. He had no idea anything was wrong until he dropped 30lbs in less than 2 months. My dad fought for 2 years after his diagnosis. He endured a 6-hour surgery called the Whipple Procedure which actually extended his life almost a year longer than they estimated. He went through rounds of chemo and radiation at MD Anderson. When they said they couldn’t help him anymore, we found an experimental treatment program also at MD Anderson that would. After he exhausted his time at that one and they didn’t see any results, we found another one. He wasn’t about to give up. This one was the last one and it was the one that made the most progress. It actually made a dent in his tumors. He lost his battle about 6 months after that last treatment. I am a huge proponent of experiment therapy. They may not cure you but what they learn from your progress may help to find a cure for the future.

I was lucky enough to be able to travel back and forth from New Mexico to Austin quite easily for the last 9 months of his life and I was able to go to Las Vegas with him for his last experiment treatment. I think that watching my dad die of cancer was harder on him that it was on me. No parent wants their kids to see them in that condition. My dad was very proud and humble and he stayed that way until the bitter end. Sean and I along with my grandma were in New Mexico visiting and some of my dad’s childhood friends from El Paso were coming over to visit. He was so excited to see them. They had all kept in touch over the years but it had been awhile since they had seen each other. My dad was doing ok but he was having to use a wheelchair to get around. He was not about to let them see him in his current condition and “no way in hell” was he coming out in that wheelchair. These guys are good old boys who were ranchers so my dad put on his best pair of Wranglers, a pressed button down shirt, a belt with one of his county fair and livestock rodeo belt buckles, his Ostrich boots and I’m pretty sure he even got out his Stetson. When they all got there, he got up and walked to the door. My grandma made them all sandwiches just like when they were kids and they sat around the kitchen table telling stories. Sean and I decided to head out and be tourists so my dad could enjoy his time with his buddies. When we were leaving, he stood up, gave me a big hug and said “I love you.” That was the last time he was able to do that and I’ll never forget it.

More and more people are dying of pancreatic cancer. They haven’t figured out all the genetics yet but it has been linked to smoking, alcohol and obesity. Makes you think about the direction our population is headed with obesity and the increase in cancer overall. Here’s the thing, if there is a history of pancreatic cancer in your family, your chances of getting it automatically go up. Pancreatic cancer runs in a family when two or more first-degree relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, children) are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. This is sometimes called familial pancreatic cancer. Families with three or more close relatives (first-degree relatives, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, cousins) diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and with one relative diagnosed before age 50, are also considered to have familial pancreatic cancer.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that the risk of developing pancreatic cancer is increased four to five times for a person with one first-degree relative (parents, brothers, sisters, children) with pancreatic cancer, six to seven times for a person with two first-degree relatives, and 32 times for a person with three first-degree relatives with the disease. If you also have a family history of breast cancer, you chances go up. My grandfather also died from it and I have a first cousin who battled and beat a very rare type of breast cancer. I’m doing all I can to dodge that bullet. Genetic testing is now available and it’s the same as the BRAC test for breast cancer. I am going to have the BRAC done for breast cancer because there is a prevention plan in place for people who test high on the marker for developing breast cancer. If losing my boob means I beat cancer, then I can certainly live without them. At this time, I am not going to have it done for pancreatic cancer. Until there is something put in place to cut my chances by at least half, I’d rather not know. I will continue to do everything I can to keep it at bay. I refuse to live my life in fear of this disease.

If you fall into one of the categories for developing pancreatic cancer, here’s what you can do to help prevent it: don’t drink alcohol in excess, don’t smoke (my dad was a HEAVY smoker), if you do smoke, quit now. Being smoke free for a decade decreases your chances tremendously. Keep your weight healthy, eat a diet that consists of whole foods that consist of fresh vegetables and fruit, limit your consumption of red meat, exercise and do not drink sugary sodas. The common soft drink sweetener fructose has been linked to growth of pancreatic cancer cells. Take vitamin D. A long-term study found that people who consumed in the range of 300 to 449 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily had a 43% lower risk of pancreatic cancer than those who took less than 150 IU per day;150 IU is appreciably less than what was then, or is now, recommended.

Here are the warning signs to look out for:

– Pain in the upper abdomen that typically radiates to the back.
– Loss of appetite or nausea and vomiting.
– Significant weight loss.
– Painless jaundice.
– Trousseau sign, in which blood clots form spontaneously in the portal blood vessels, the deep veins of the extremities, or the superficial veins anywhere on the body, may be associated with pancreatic cancer.
– Diabetes mellitus, or elevated blood sugar levels. Many patients with pancreatic cancer develop diabetes months to even years before they are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, suggesting new onset diabetes in an elderly individual may be an early warning sign of pancreatic cancer.
– Clinical depression has been reported in association with pancreatic cancer, sometimes presenting before the cancer is diagnosed. However, the mechanism for this association is not known.

It has taken me a really long time to write this post. I recently went through a box of old pictures and I was bothered by what I saw. It’s not like I don’t remember all the crazy things I used to do and how I made some bad choices but it was right there IN MY FACE and it compelled me to write this. Hopefully at least one person will read this and makes a change in their life that somehow helps them live longer or shares this information with someone they know that might need it. Spread the word people! One of the reasons that they have yet to find a cure is because of funding. This disease is right behind breast cancer yet more people die from it.

Here’s a picture of my dad that will be more familiar to most of my friends who knew him. But no matter what, he smiled through the whole thing.

Did someone say burpees?

Does the thought of flipping tires give you goosebumps? Do you go crazy over kettle bells? Are your favorite “B” words burpees and box jumps? Have you always wanted to learn how to snatch but were afraid to ask? If you answered yes or even maybe to any of those questions, then do I have the class for you! Come and join me at 5 Fitness for their “Cross Training” class! I’ll be coaching a coed class on MWF at 10:15 and noon and a women’s only class on Tues/Thurs at 9:15. 5 Fitness is an awesome training studio located in Rollingwood, right off of MoPac on Bee Caves Rd. You can sign up for classes online and feel free to hit me up if you have any questions. Don’t wait until January to start working on those fitness goals! Hit it now!

A paleo Thankgiving.

Here’s a quick post with some awesome recipes to show you that having a paleo Thanksgiving is easier AND tastier than you think!

Julie over at PaleoOMG has compiled a list of awesome breakfast, sides and dessert recipes. You can find it here. She also has a list of all things pumpkin. There’s some good stuff on there.

The Food Lover’s Kitchen has an entire Thanksgiving dinner menu. I have made the cauliflower mashers, the pumpkin chiffon pie and the cranberry sauce and it was all awesome.

That’s it for today! I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving!