Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday Thoughts

I'm linking up with Meg for the first time for Mingle Monday!

This isn't really a typical post for me and it's actually something I just saw that someone posted on Facebook. It really struck a chord with me. Sometimes it feels so hard to be a woman but this is a nice reminder of all the amazing parts :)

When God created woman he was working late on the 6th day...
An angel came by and asked, "Why spend so much time on her?"
The Lord answered, "Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her?"
She must function in all kinds of situations, 
She must be able to embrace several children at the same time,
Have a hug that can heal anything from a bruised knee to a broken heart,
She must do all this with only two hands,
She cures herself when sick and can work eighteen hours a day.

The angel was impressed, "Just two hands? Impossible!"
"And this is the standard model?"

The angel came closer and touched the woman.
"But you have made her so soft, Lord."
"She is soft," said the Lord.
"But I have made her strong. You can't imagine what she can endure and overcome."

"Can she think?" the angel asked.
The Lord answered, "Not only can she think, she can reason and negotiate."

The angel touched her cheeks.
"Lord, it seems this creation is leaking! You have put too many burdens on her."
"She is not leaking. It is a tear," the lord corrected the angel.

"What's it for?" asked the angel.
The Lord said, "Tears are her way of expressing her grief, her doubts, her love, her loneliness, her suffering, and her pride."

This made a big impression on the angel. "Lord, you are a genius. You thought of everything. A woman is marvelous."

Lord said, "Indeed she is. She has strength that amazes a man. She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens. She holds happiness, love and opinions. She smiles when she feels like screaming. She sings when she feels like crying, cries when happy and laughs when afraid. She fights for what she believes in. Her love is unconditional. Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies but she finds strength to get on with life."

The angel asked, "So she is a perfect being?"
The Lord replied, "No she has but one flaw. She forgets what she is worth."

I searched around and can't figure out who to attribute this to. Does anyone know where it came from?

Friday, February 19, 2016

Five Things that Happened on Friday 2/19

You ever have one of those mornings??

1. Because we live right by a college, there are always tons of people parking on our street. The night before the parking was particularly bad and I'd had to park a whole block away. Of course, when I walked out the door I had no recollection of where my car was.

2. Once my brain un-fogged, I shlepped my crap over to my car, set my coffee on top of the car aaaaaaaand, you guessed it! Coffee slipped and spilled evvvvvvverywhere. It literally painted my white car, splattered my leather boots, and soaked my sleeve.


3. I pulled the car around in front of our place and scrambled back inside to change my coat. But not before stepping on the cat!

4. Somehow, I still managed to get to work on time!

5. But as soon as I dumped my stuff and was ready to tear into a meeting I realized my computer was on 4% battery.

Aaaaaaaaand my charger was still at home.

Here's to the weekend!


Linking up here and here!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Favorite Paleo Websites

I love to cook but never very rarely come up with my own recipes. Since going mostly paleo, I know that I can just read the ingredients for a food or recipe and discern if it is paleo, but I just don't feel like taking that extra step. My most common Google search is: "Is __________ paleo/Whole 30?" I just want someone else to tell me. So when cooking paleo, I just want a recipe that I already know is within the guidelines. These are my favorites:

1. PaleOMG by Juli Bauer

Juli is hilarious and gorgeous but what makes her site my favorite is that her recipes got me excited about cooking again. When I was about 6 months into Whole 30/Paleo I was plugging meat + veggie over and over again into my meal plan and it was alright but her recipes are SO excited, not to mention delicious.

Almost 5 Ingredient Pizza Spaghetti Pie
This recipe is amazing. It's so easy and tastes incredible. You can make a ton of variations.

Loaded Stuffed Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
These reheat really well for lunches and were great to get me away from eating salads every day.

I was in a rut of eating the same thing for breakfast every day, too and this was a welcome variation.

2. Stupid Easy Paleo by Steph Gaudreau

Steph is super knowledgeable about food and nutrition and also has a great podcast that I listen to from time to time. While PaleOMG got me excited about cooking again, Stupid Easy Paleo got me started initially. As the title states, her recipes truly are stupid easy. She also helped me realize that paleo can be so simple. I was looking at her Instagram one day and saw that her dinner was ground beef, chopped onion and zucchini, and red sauce and I practically smacked my forehead, like "duh, it's easy."

Paleo Zucchini Fritters

Smoky Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs
So easy!

3. Lexi's Clean Kitchen by Lexi

I actually found her site and made her recipes before I went paleo and her philosophy is similar to mine. While she's not technically 100% paleo, she avoids all grains, dairy, soy, corn, and refined sugar. Basically, I figure what else should I call it? She has really creative recipes that can also be super easy to make.

Avocado BLT Egg Salad
You can make this in like 5 minutes

A super flavorful take on meatballs

One of my favorite paleo treats

4. Whole 30

Of course, where it all began. There are some recipes on here that are a great starting point though that's not the main focus of the site. However, most of my "Is _______ Whole 30?" searches lead back to this site so it's a great resource.

In general, I kind of like meal planning. I also regularly use Pinterest and Instagram to find recipes to try. But if I ever get a lot busier, I've wondered if eMeals' paleo plan would be tasty and convenient. Has anyone ever tried it? Does anyone else have any great recipes/websites they love?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wanderlust Wednesday: Ireland

We leave August 5th for Ireland and to say there has been a lot of anticipation for this trip is a huge understatement. When I met Cody he was planning a trip to Ireland but was unfortunately laid off and had to cancel his plans. That was over three years ago. Not only that, but we started discussing this trip in August of 2015 and actually booked the flight in December. So we will definitely be excited by the time it comes! We are taking the trip with my parents, my sister, and her boyfriend. My parents, Cody and I will stay in Ireland two full weeks but Amy and her boyfriend will go to Iceland after the first week.

Cody will probably find this post funny because I have been so entirely uninvolved with planning this trip. In fact, I had to scour some emails to figure out where the heck we are even going.

We have 14 nights total. Here are our stops:

1. Dublin - 3 Nights

My sister and I are going to run the Rock N Roll Half Marathon here.
Otherwise, we know we want to get to the Guinness brewery and the Jameson Distillery.


2. Galway - 2 Nights


3. Portmagee - 2 Nights


4. Limerick - 1 Night

Castle Mews

5. Cork - 2 Nights
Blarney Castle

6. ? - 3 Nights

We don't really know yet where we're headed after Cork. We are probably going to split up from my parents who are going to spend a few nights in Kinsale. We will take the car and drive around. Maybe we'll stay in a nice cottage out in the middle of nowhere. We'll see!

7. Back to Dublin - 1 Night

We fly out of Dublin early in the morning so we'll spend one last night there so we can get there easily.


Has anyone else been to Ireland? I'd love suggestions about your favorite things to do!

Linking up for the first time with EmilyKerri, and Kate!

Wanderlust Wednesdays

28 Things about Cody

His name is Cody James.
He works in politics.
He is starting a new job in government affairs on Monday.
He grew up in Wisconsin but has never been a Packers fan.
He loves the Vikings, Twins, and Wild, as well as Gopher sports.
He has also never liked cheese.
He loves pizza. He loves pizza so much.
He can make tater tot hot dish and tacos.
He bites his nails.
He loves our cat Quinn more than our other cat Bruce.
His favorite TV shows are The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones.
He eats extremely quickly.
He makes me laugh every single day.
He has a scar across the bottom of his chin from falling off his bike as a child.
He cried more than me on our wedding day and wasn't at all embarrassed about it.
He is the best at planning dates and vacations.
He has two younger sisters but has the personality of an only child since he was one until he was 14.
He makes the bed every day, only because I like it.
He loves Star Wars.
He works part time at a local brewery.
He is pursuing becoming a cicerone (beer expert).
He drives a Ford F-150.
He's overly competitive while playing board games.
He is the most accommodating husband.
He is a master of the internet.
His number one travel destination is Ireland and we're going there in August.
He's my favorite person in the whole world.
Today he is 28.

Happy Birthday my sweet Cody!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


One of my favorite podcasts is The Moth. They put on events all over the country and internationally for people come forward and share their stories live. Cody and I recently went to a Story Slam where people submitted their story ideas on the theme of 'Strict'. I didn't, nor do I want to share a story in front of a live audience, but I thought it would be a good writing exercise to write to occasionally write to their themes.


I became a teacher at age 25. This is slightly older than many teachers that are straight out of college but to me it felt drastically superior. I had traveled the world. I had worked different jobs. I obviously had a breadth of wisdom that no 22 year old could possibly have. I accepted a position at a 'high impact' school where I had student taught. Working in a school with a high incidence of poverty, homelessness, and refugees would help me earn my stripes. That's why I became a teacher after all, to help the most highly impacted students. With many of these populations, comes unpredictable behavior. I was well aware of this and went into my first year ready for battle.

You learn a lot of things in your teacher licensure program but classroom management is not one of them. For whatever reason, teachers have always been expected to learn this in the moment. I collected some catch phrases like "Never back down" and "Be mean 'til Halloween". So I headed this advice, walked into my classroom with my 'teacher voice,' prepared to strip students of privileges and tabulate their infractions. I could quickly tell it didn't work that well. It never felt right.

I met David*. He exhibits explosive behavior. But David loves games, though he always wants everyone to win. He shares generously with everyone. He loves Doctor Who and skate boarding. His parents moved to Minnesota as refugees from Liberia. He was born here but at age two his mother essentially kidnapped him back to Liberia. His father had no idea where he was or whether he was alive. He had no regular caregiver or confidence in where his next meal would come from for several years. Upon finally returning to Minnesota, he was reunited with his father.

I met Anna. She is defiant. But Anna likes to draw bats on the side of every paper she has and she cried the first time she saw snow. She was brand new to the country from Mexico. Her father had been killed in an accident and her mother was still in Mexico. She lives with her aunt here in Minnesota. It's not clear when her mom will be able to join them but she hopes it's soon.

And I met Lisbeth. She is selectively mute. But she writes prolifically and she wants to be both a doctor and a lawyer when she grows up. She suffers from severe anxiety and the source is pretty much unknown.

I don't do battle anymore. I learned some new phrases like Attachment Disorder and Long-term Sustained Trauma. I do relationships and second chances. I attempt understanding and teach social skills. I'm not saying it's not hard. Sometimes when the implication of the myriad of needs in my classroom hits me, I just want to jump out the window. Oh my god, is it hard. I'm not saying high and consistent expectations, occasional consequences, and positive behavior recognition don't help. But being 'strict' doesn't make it any easier.

*Name of students are changed.

Friday, February 5, 2016

New Favorite Recipe: Paleo Carbonara

When I started eating paleo through Whole 30, I wasn't all about trying to recreate gluten and dairy filled foods in a paleo way. I figured if I was going to commit to this lifestyle, I wasn't going to spend my time pining for baked goods and cheesy entrees. However, this recipe is just plain delicious.

The Whole 30 Instagram page has different accounts guest post each week with new recipes. If your doing a Whole 30, it's a great resource. Claire Fong @justplainpaleo guest posted a while back and share this gem of a recipe. She also lives in Tokyo, makes extremely tasty food, has a cute cat, and I wish I could be friends with her.

For the full recipe, visit her page. But here's how it went when I made it.

To prep, roast a couple of spaghetti squash, chop up a zucchini, and crisp and chop up some bacon. This is the most time consuming part as you have to roast the spaghetti squash 30-40 minutes and then let it cool long enough to handle it.

I also add chicken to the recipe and cook it in the grease from the bacon.

Use some of the bacon grease to saute some garlic and your zucchini. I use this garlic from Trader Joe's, which is not Whole 30 compliant but is damn convenient. She recommends a cast iron skillet which I don't have but is on my wish list!

Add in your spaghetti squash to heat up.

Then add your bacon, and in my case chicken.

The key to this recipe is the sauce which is made from egg yolks, coconut cream, and nutritional yeast. You throw that in and mix it all up for a short time and it's ready.

Here's how it turned out for me!

Cody and I both love it and it reheats well as leftovers, too! 

Nutritional yeast is an interesting ingredient and I'm looking forward to trying it in more dishes. Here are some ideas for uses. I think I will scramble it into some eggs this weekend!

Linking up here and here!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

What's New: February

I like doing little updates to document what's going on in life and I'm glad that Kristen and Gretchen are hosting a new linkup!

READING: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty. It's ok. I'm not flying through it and it seems to put me right to sleep every night when I'm only a couple of pages in.

As soon as I finish that I'm going to read How to Be Single by Liz Tuccillo for my book club!

LISTENING: Just found the Modern Love podcast from the NY Times and WBUR and I love all of the different love stories.

I'm also loving Reply All. I never thought I would like a tech/internet podcast but it's extremely interesting! This week they problem solved for a family who mysteriously had dozens of people showing up on their doorstep saying their 'find my phone' apps were saying their phone was in their house. Weird, huh!

WATCHING: The Bachelor! I looooooove The Bachelor and Bachelorette. It brightens my Mondays significantly. I think Ben is a nice and wholesome bachelor but he borders on bland. He's only 26 so his crop of women are extremely young and many immature. The drama is so exciting. I also found a Bachelor recap podcast called Here to Make Friends, made by two women from the Huffington Post. So, that way I can drag the Bachelor entertainment into Tuesday.


Also, just finished Making a Murderer. I don't think I was as hooked as others. Interesting but not entralling.

EATING: I ate the best thing in the world. I love dark chocolate and coconut. I know many people don't but if you like both, these are for you. Maybe someone should order me a box for Valentine's Day...
Link's right here, Cody ;)
DRINKING: Nothing. Lately drinking makes me feel like dog balls. Is this what growing up is like?

WORKING: We're in the middle of a huge testing window for all of the English Learners in Minnesota. It makes coming to work super boring.

ENJOYING: Maybe I'm crazy, but the snow! We were hit by Winter Storm Kayla on Tuesday night and it's still all clean and beautiful. It looks like Minnesota in the winter is supposed to look!


PLAYING: One Night Ultimate Werewolf. It's a fun game, kind of like Mafia, where people have certain roles and need to figure out who the werewolf is, but deceive each other as well. It's so much fun!

WISHING: For another vacation. I milked my winter break for every sleep-in, extra cup of coffee, and hour reading as I could. Spring break cannot come fast enough. 41 more days of school.

PLANNING: Travel galore!

What's New With You

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Talking Finances


I think it has become really uncommon for people to meet at the altar with a clean slate. Of course this is true in every sense of the word. Everyone has a past. But I'm thinking, in particular, financially.

When Cody and I were married, we joined our hands, our hearts, and our mountain of debt.

To be specific: $134,065.10

Finances seem to be such a touchy topic for some people and I fully realize that people will pass their judgments about that number. However, Cody and I don't really care about putting it all out there. I find finances interesting and really don't judge people by their financial position or care that much about money so I don't mind putting it all out there. So, full disclosure, here is how it broke down:

My student loans: Approx. $49,000
Cody's student loans: Approx. $44,000
Cody's car loan: Approx. $4,700
Personal loan: $24,000
My car loan: $12,000
(The car loan was actually just taken on in December of 2015 so we didn't have quite as much debt as soon as we got married)

You might wonder how on earth we could have incurred that much debt. Or you might not be shocked at all. The average American student that graduates with a bachelor's degree is about $29,000 in debt. In Minnesota it's over $34,000. Cody's student loans financed his bachelor's degree. I was extremely fortunate that my parents paid for my undergraduate tuition. So my student loans are from my teaching license, master's degree, and additional license after. The average American household also has over $7,000 in credit card debt. Our personal loan was actually consolidated immediately after got married and I cannot remember who had what debt exactly. I know that we both had credit card debt, Cody had debt from auto repairs, and we had wedding and honeymoon expenses.

If we paid all of these on schedule, we'd be out of debt in 2022. We also hope to be homeowners one day so that would add an enormous amount of debt. All of that is extremely depressing and discouraging. Being in debt for another 6 years is not something we're pumped about so in lieu of waiting to hit the jackpot we had to come up with a plan.

We did a pre-marriage seminar through our church. They recommended Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps for your finances. They are as follows:

1. Save $1,000 for an Emergency Fund
2. Pay off All Debt Except House using the Debt Snowball
3. Establish 3-6 Months of Expenses in Savings
4. Invest 15% of Household Income in Retirement
5. College Funding for Children
6. Pay Off Your Home Early
7. Give

When we got married we had zero savings. We had bottomed that all out and then some for the wedding and honeymoon. And honestly, I don't regret that at all.

We focused first on Step #1. I can't remember how long it took us to reach $1,000 but it felt quick. I want to say, 3 months or less, but maybe it was more.

Another step we needed to take was setting a strict budget. I might do a post on how we manage that. I'm embarrassed to say that before we got married, I had no budget. Cody has been a huge help in making me more financially aware.

Step #2 is obviously gargantuan for us. We started by paying just an extra $50.00 per month toward our smallest loan. And whenever we had some extra sum of money, whether a gift or from work, we tried to put it toward than loan. We paid off our first loan in July 2015. We then took than payment amount and put it toward our next smallest loan. The payment then increased and due to some extra money from Cody's work, we paid off the next one in August 2015. As we move forward the loans get bigger but taking the payment of the previously paid off loan and putting it toward the next one causes the loans to begin to snowball and the interval between payoffs becomes shorter. We paid off our 3rd loan in January of 2016.

We have 16 student loans, 2 car loans, and a personal loan left. It definitely still feels staggering. But it can only get better from here. For the most part, our income will likely only increase. In fact Cody just got a new job with a great pay increase so a portion of that will go to increasing our loan payments.

The good news is that in our first year of marriage we paid off $18,836.22

Since then (November 2015) we have paid off another $4583.77

In total we have paid off $23,419.99.

Current balance is $107,319.04.