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!

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.

One ingredient ice cream.

You read that correctly! One ingredient. Mine actually had two but you can totally make it with one. That one ingredient is BANANAS! I didn’t believe it until I tried it. It seemed way too easy to be true.

Here is all you need to make awesome banana ice cream:
4 bananas
Food processor

And that is it. Seriously.

Here’s how to do it:
Slice up your bananas into 1/4 – 1/2 inch discs. Do not try to blend or cut up a whole frozen banana. It’s nearly impossible. I also added strawberries to mine. If you decide you want to add other ingredients and you want them to stay intact, like chocolate chips, make sure to add them at the end after the bananas have been blended.

Put the kids to work!

Pop them in the freezer for 1 -2 hours.

Put them in your food processor. Make sure to PULSE and not turn it on all the way.
I turned mine on and it almost flew off the counter and the noise was crazy loud.
You are basically chopping rocks so be prepared! Pulse until you get banana “gravel”.

Keep pulsing and scrapping down the sides and eventually you will get smooth and creamy frozen bananas.
If it is really thick and not thinning out, you can add a splash of coconut milk to thin it out.
At this stage you can add whatever else you like: nut butter, chocolate chips, blueberries. You get the idea.
Pulse a few more times to incorporate your extra ingredients.

Scoop it out and eat it right away or put it in the fridge to harden it.
If you don’t eat it all right away, freeze the remainder.
When you are ready to eat the rest, thaw if for a few minutes before scooping. Enjoy!

A most awesome dinner.

I’ve been craving something light and fresh lately and salad just wasn’t cutting it and I also wanted soup. Hot soup – not a chilled soup. Not exactly the most appetizing thing to eat when it is 100 degrees outside but I was determined. Imagine my surprise when I came across a recipe for asparagus soup! My two FAVORITE things combined into one. Heaven! It was so easy to make and it was this beautiful bright green color that I felt healthy just looking at it. I was trying to come up with something that would go with it because asparagus soup alone just wasn’t going to cut it even if it did have bacon in it. Chicken sounded good but that meant defrosting and turning on the grill and going outside and getting hot. My next favorite food is chicken salad and I happened to have a rotisserie chicken in the fridge waiting to be made into chicken salad. One of the many great things about chicken salad is that it has celery in it. My kids love to help me cook and it takes a REALLY LONG TIME to chop celery with butter knives. It’s a great time killer for kids. SCORE!

What could be better than a light and healthy dinner? Light and healthy dessert! Woop! I love peaches. What goes great with peaches? Cobbler of course! Hmm – flour, milk, tons of sugar doesn’t really equal light and healthy. I went on the search for a paleo peach cobbler recipe. I thought it was going to be impossible but I found one and it is AWESOME. It uses a combination of coconut and almond flour for the batter and it came out light and fluffy with a great flavor. Top it with vanilla coconut ice cream and you have one amazing dessert.

Here’s the menu. Rotisserie chicken salad with home made mayo (this is a KEY ingredient). Mixed green salad tossed with olive oil and basalmic vinegar. Sliced avocado. Asparagus soup garnished with bacon and chives. Paleo peach and blueberry cobbler with vanilla coconut ice cream. Recipes follow the pictures. Try them and enjoy!

Close up of the awesome soup.


Home made mayo

Asparagus soup

Paleo cobbler – I sprinkled coconut palm sugar on the top of mine before baking to give it a little bit sweeter flavor to the topping.

Chicken Salad
1 rotisserie chicken diced
4 stalks of celery diced
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 – 1/2 cup home made mayo (depends on how creamy you like it)
2 – 4 tbsp dijon mustard (depends on your taste)
1/4 cup dill relish (make sure to find one that does not have high fructose corn syrup)
salt and pepper to taste

Put it all in one big bowl and stir gently. Enjoy!

Blogging from the beach!

Right now, I am sitting outside our RV in an amazing RV Resort right ON THE BEACH in Destin, Florida. We took a very much needed vacation with some really good friends of ours and their 7 year-old daughter. We left Austin on Saturday at about 9:30 am and stopped in Lafayette, LA. OMG – we meet the most awesome people at the KOA campground. We stayed up drinking wine until after midnight with our neighbors. We also had some AMAZING cajun food.

We hit the road at about 10am to head to Florida. This is my first time out of Texas heading East and the scenery was so beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything greener and the swamps and bayous are so cool. We made it to Destin at about 5pm on Sunday. Pulled into our spot and ran straight down to the beach. I’ve been to some really pretty beaches in Mexico and let me tell you, the sand and water on this beach is second to none. It’s like sugar! And it’s in my teeth!

My friend Rae that I am traveling with is also a client of mine and hooked on CrossFit. When you travel with a client, be prepared to work out! We brought mats, a resistance band, 4 empty sand bags and one 25lb kettle bell. We were going to bring medicine balls and more kettle bells but we didn’t want to add too much extra weight to the RV.

We did a super quick partner WOD this morning on the beach after we got everything set up. 100 American swings, 100 sumo deadlift high pulls and 100 situps. Tomorrow will be much harder with our sandbags!!!

Here’s an awesome list of WODs you can do on vacation without any equipment. Courtesy of CrossFit Round Rock –

Here’s Rae killing it with the kettle bell!

In the moment.

Ever have one of those moments when everything is just right and you realize it? I think we realize things aren’t right when something goes wrong. We don’t take the time to be grateful or appreciate them when they are going right.

Everything just really came together this week. I realized how great it was when I walked outside to my car last night and looked up at the sky. I’m pretty sure I even said “wow” when I saw all the stars and planets. I stood there and stared at the sky and the planets and it just blew my mind. We can see other PLANETS! That is just crazy! I’ve always been fascinated with space and I plan on making it up there before I die. I remember the first time I saw the Milky Way. I was living in Cloudcroft, New Mexico with my parents. Cloudcroft is a tiny little town up in the mountains and the night sky is unbelievable. I was standing outside with my dad looking up at the sky and I asked him, “Are those clouds?” He looked at me and said, “Those aren’t clouds. That’s the Milky Way.” You could see so many stars that it like a smear of stars all across the sky. I miss those times I had with my dad. I know that when I am looking at the stars, he is looking with me.

After staring at the sky for a little while, I got into my car to go pick up Kylie from gymnastics. Every couple of weeks her gym has Friday Night Fun. You drop the kids off at 7, they get pizza, play games, do tons of gymnastics and you pick them up at 11. It’s awesome. I was pointing out the planets while we were walking back to the car and she thought it was the coolest thing. I told her about how you could see a million stars in New Mexico and she asked when we were going because she wants to see it too. I told her some day soon. We stood in the backyard when we got home and just stared at the sky. She told me that she could stare at the sky forever. That made my heart happy.

While I was driving I was thinking about the week. We did some killer workouts and everyone kicked butt. One of my clients beat my score by one round on a workout and I am so happy for her. Everyone else was only one or two rounds behind her. It makes me so happy to see them getting stronger and faster. Their hard work is paying off and they are seeing the results.  This makes me work even harder on myself to become faster and stronger. The motivation that I have in my little garage gym is HUGE.

I have two new clients that signed on this week. That’s two more people on their way to be healthier and stronger! I love that!

Preston had his tonsils out on Thursday and everything went great. I hate seeing him feeling so crummy but one week of downtime is so much better than rounds and rounds of strep throat and drugs. I’m glad that we had it done now so that he’ll be ready to go when the pool opens in a couple of weeks. Kylie has been great through all of this. She is ok with not eating certain things right now because she doesn’t want him to feel bad since he can’t eat them. She even gave him one of her favorite stuffed animals to help make him feel better. She is such a sweetheart.

Sean, of course, has been awesome. He is crazy busy at work and he manages to keep it all together.

I think that’s it for now. I’m going to go enjoy a cup of tea and a piece of dark chocolate. Remember to take a deep breath and be in the moment.