Meal Prep Salad Ideas

photo from the (amazing) pinch of yum

Since I have been back to work I needed to get back into the routine of prepping my lunches for the week. It had been five months since I had to come up with lunch ideas that would not only satisfy me for the week but also be easy enough to fully prep on a Sunday and be ready to go each day. I thought I would share with you some of the delicious and easy lunches I have been packing for the past four weeks.

I use a mix of staple Trader Joe’s items as well as items from my local grocery store to make my lunches each week. Trader Joe’s really does make everything so convenient from their salad dressings and dips to the balsamic grilled chicken which is my go-to protein each week.

Salad Idea Number One: Mixed local greens, sliced apple, blue cheese crumbles, candied pecans, balsamic grilled chicken, garlic and rosemary dressing. I started off really simple my first week back to work, but I have to say just a little blue cheese takes it to another level.

Salad Idea Number Two: Caesar salad mix, mixed greens, chicken cutlet. For this salad I kept it super easy and mixed a Caesar salad kit with additional mixed greens, and bought a few already pre cooked chicken cutlets from my grocery store that I just chopped up and added on top.

Salad Idea Number Three: Arugula, roasted Brussel sprouts, roasted sweet potato, candied pecans, goat cheese, and balsamic dressing. I think if I swapped the goat cheese for blue cheese next time I would like this one better but it was still a really great fall salad option.

Salad Idea Number Four: Arugula, cucumber, cauliflower tabouli (from Trader Joe’s), feta cheese, balsamic grilled chicken, kalamata olives, and tzatiki. Trader Joe’s was the hero when making this salad because they just make it so easy with their pre made dip section.

Salad Idea Number Five: This week I will be doing a pasta salad featuring the walnut pesto that I got at Trader Joe’s I am super excited to try out. I will be adding in artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and arugula along with my go-to Trader Joe’s balsamic grilled chicken as well.

It has been fun to come up with new salad recipes to keep things interesting each week. I know that salads can sometimes feel less than satisfying, but adding a few fun ingredients (like a sprinkle of blue cheese!) always takes them to a new level. I will keep sharing new lunch ideas as I make them. Enjoy!

August Slipped Away…

photo from Pinterest

… like a bottle of wine.

So much can happen in a single month. And A LOT has happened the past couple weeks. As the summer winds down I thought it would be fitting to catch up over a glass of rose before we go into full fall mode.

Just as I was entering five months of being on furlough in my job, another opportunity came my way. I went into the interview not knowing what was going to happen, and the next week I was starting a new job in a new hotel in Newport. It was a crazy experience jumping back into work after being quarantined for such a long time. It was scary and exciting all at the same time. I have now been in the position for a month and am feeling a little more settled into my new routine. If I have learned anything about life the past couple of years it’s that things come to you when you least expect them.

This whole experience the past couple of months has been a catalyst of change for so many people, whether it be good or bad (in the moment) change. No matter what type of change this year has brought you just believe that there is a reason for it. I know that this experience is one that is going to shape the next couple of years of my life.

On another note, besides working again (and some other fun things that I will share soon!) the best thing that happened this past month or so was Taylor Swifts Folklore coming out. Her albums always come out at the perfect times in life and this new album is giving me all of the “Red album, fall, sweater weather” vibes. And it has been EVERYTHING. And is the perfect album to bring me into this next season of life.

The thing I love most about this little corner of the internet is that above all it is a chronicle of my life. I can look back and see what I was doing and feeling during different stages of my life, and is the reason that I continue to write. These past couple months will be an unforgettable time in my life in good ways and bad. Cheers to moving forward.

My Tried & True Favorite Subscription Services

I have always been a fan of subscription box services. My first subscription box experience was years ago when I first subscribed to Birch Box. Although I do not receive Birch Boxes anymore (even though I think they are a great company, I was just being left with too many repeat products) there are many other subscription services that I have been loving so I thought I would compile a list of some of my recommendations. Now more than ever in a world of social distancing, subscription and delivery services are so convenient.

Butcher Box is a meat delivery service, and I could not recommend them enough. We have gotten three butcher boxes and tried many of the products they have to offer, and I have to admit that this is some of the best quality meat I have ever had. Obviously I am not a vegan or vegetarian, but I am very conscious of the quality of meat that I am buying. I love that all of their meat is free range and grass fed and grass finished (which is a big difference between just grass fed). I definitely suggest you do some research on these things and where your meat is coming from (what I learned about what “free range” means on some poultry farms made me sick). Each box is shipped quickly and everything arrives completely frozen and safe. They are always adding new products, and I am very excited to receive lobster in my next box.

Billie is a razor subscription service geared towards women. I love that the company uses clean ingredients and supports many causes. I have received one subscription so far, but the razors and shaving cream are good quality so far and have not irritated my very sensitive skin.

Quip is a toothbrush subscription service (yes there really is a subscription service for everything!) I bought this little sleek electric toothbrush at Target and then registered it on their website. Every three months they send you a new brush head and batteries. I love that the brush vibrates at 30 second intervals letting you know when to move on to the next section of your mouth and ensures a full two minute brush. I really cant say enough about how much I love this toothbrush.

MeUndies is a you guessed it… underwear subscription service. My boyfriend has subscribed to it for a long time and I finally caved and got my first pair. Now I have about four pairs, and even George our cat has a little MeUndies bandana. They are some of the softest underwear that I have ever tried and come in a bunch of different styles and patterns. They do not just have underwear however, they also have everything from sports bras to lounge wear. Highly recommend!

Meow Box is a subscription for my cat George. We got our first box last month and he LOVED it. As soon as we opened the box he grabbed all of the toys right out of it and had the best time playing with all of them. We knew immediately it was a hit! They even sent him a little party hat because it was his birthday. The box has a different theme each month and comes with a variety of really high quality toys and treats. Last months theme was camping and it was ADORABLE. I can not wait for him to get his next box this month.

Those are all the boxes I am currently receiving. There are a few other things my boyfriend Jeff receives each month like his contacts. We also get two bags of coffee every two months from Black Rifle Coffee Company. We have used Stitch Fix in the past, which if you are looking to up your wardrobe is a great service. I paused it for a while since I was not working, however the pieces I do have I love. We have also done Hello Fresh and Blue Apron in the past. We enjoyed the variety of recipes in those boxes and loved the convenience, however the meat was not always the best quality in our opinion.

Lastly, although it is not a subscription service the Whole Foods/Amazon delivery service for groceries is amazing. We have been doing it for a couple of weeks and has been life changing. So simple, we have gotten great quality stuff, and delivery is really fast. This is something that we will definitely continue doing for a long time.

If you have any services you love or have been wanting to try let me know! I have been tempted to subscribe to Grove Collaborative for cleaning supplies for a long time and may take the plunge soon.

A Few Quotes & Poems for Inspiration

*photo taken from Pinterest

Good Morning friends. Today I wanted to share with you some of my favorite quotes and poems from authors, poets, musicians, and writers that I love. The wonderful thing about reading or listening to music is that you can always find a line that you can connect with and fits perfectly with a moment of time in your life.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities” – Albus Dumbledore (J.K. Rowling)

“We do not need magic to transform the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already” – J.K. Rowling

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind” – C.S. Lewis

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference” – Robert Frost

“For what it’s worth: It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be.” “I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us” – J.R.R. Tolkien

“What day is it? It’s today squeaked Piglet. My favorite day said Pooh” – A.A. Milne

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast” – Lewis Carroll

Taking Time for Tea

In many cultures taking time for tea is an essential daily ritual rooted in mindfulness. Everything from the act of making the tea to enjoying it is done in a slow and peaceful way.

Living simply is something that I have been working on in my life throughout the past couple months. I have learned that the simple things are the important things in life, and to take the time to enjoy them. One way I have been experiencing this is with a daily cup of afternoon tea. Slowing down in the middle of the day when our minds are racing with thoughts is incredibly beneficial to our mental health.

To be honest, I have never been a big tea drinker. But now there is something so comforting about a warm cup of tea to relax my mind and body. Recently I have been loving a cup of peppermint tea in the afternoon and a cup of chamomile tea before bed. Peppermint tea is known to relieve stress and anxiety, boost your immune system, and help with an upset stomach. Chamomile tea is also known to relieve stress, and promote sleep. It is also great to drink if you have a cold. I have been loving learning more about the health benefits of different types of tea.

My daily ritual of enjoying a cup of tea is simple. For me it is brewing a pot in my new tea kettle and cozying up on the couch with a blanket and book, and is always done in a slow and peaceful way. As should more things in life.

Taking a Step Back, and Moving Forward; Coffee Chat

Happy Saturday! I thought it would be nice if we caught up a little bit today. Grab a cup of coffee, and lets chat.

This Monday will officially mark four months in quarantine. How surreal to think how much our lives have changed in such a short time. However, that short time somehow feels like an eternity and a blink of an eye all at once. We’ve all been through a lot, each in our own ways. We have all handled quarantine in our own ways as well. Some people have binge watched Netflix everyday and some people have taken these months and used them for self improvement (in whatever form that takes). It is important to know that whichever way you have spent your quarantine it is okay. There is no rule book here. There are no plans for this kind of thing. The important thing is that you are safe, happy, and healthy. Well, as happy as one can be during a global pandemic.

I have been spending a lot of my time in quarantine reading and writing, which have been great outlets for me. Hoping everyone is continuing to stay safe and healthy during this time, no matter how you are filling your days.

That Summertime Feeling

Picture this: It is the summer of 2008. You are on a beach vacation with your family. You wake up and immediately put on your bathing suit, a pair of jean shorts, and a billabong tank you bought at the local surf shop. You are ready to spend another beautiful day down the shore. You grab your boogie board, slip on your $1 old navy flip flops, and walk the block to the beach. The hot sand hits your feet and you run to the perfect spot for the day. You and your cousins or siblings spend the day in the sand and surf. Once you have had your fill you head back to the house and prepare yourself for one of the best feelings on earth – that after beach shower. Your skin is hot from a full day in the sun and you jump into the cool shower to wash away all the sand. It’s like heaven. After the shower you head to your bed or the couch for the perfect afternoon nap. You wake up just in time to start getting ready for dinner. You leave your hair natural, because you are at the beach after all and who needs heat products. You get dressed and head out the door. You sit outside at a beachside restaurant and enjoy dinner with your family. After you may hit up a local ice cream shop or head to the boardwalk. It’s the perfect end to the perfect day.

There’s nothing like that nostalgic summer feeling that always finds its way back when June rolls around. That same feel good feeling you get when Ocean Avenue begins to play on your summertime playlist. You are transported back to summers past, and life is good.

Little Rituals

In the chaos that is everyday living, it is important to have little rituals that keep me connected to what matters. For me, it is all about living mindfully and taking a moment to embrace the quiet little moments in life.

Your little ritual could be waking up and taking your dog for their morning walk, writing in a gratitude journal, doing a morning meditation, or reading a book. Whatever that time looks like for you, if it is positive then stick with it. By creating positive habits in your life you begin to look forward to them.

As for me, my morning ritual includes cuddles with my cat George, a cup of coffee with pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top, and a positive podcast or YouTube video from one of my favorite creatives. At night, I make a cup of tea and either read or watch a feel good movie or show. Something light hearted that I watch with no distractions.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or ground breaking. By taking the time to slow down and surround yourself with positivity first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep you are starting and ending your day in a peaceful way.

Sunday Questions

Sunday is my favorite day of the week. There is nothing better than a relaxing Sunday where you take things a little slower than normal. Typically its around 3PM when the Sunday Scaries begin to creep in. You know, that dreadful feeling you get when you realize the weekend is coming to a close. In quarantine where the Sunday Scaries do not exist I enjoy my Sundays even more. One of my favorite things to do on a Sunday? Listen to my favorite podcast while drinking my coffee. The name of that podcast? Sunday Scaries of course.

Sunday Scaries as Will DeFries the podcasts host puts it is “the cure for the Sunday blues”. Typically a short form podcast, he also does longer form episodes where he has conversations with a wide range of interesting people. He usually ends the episode by asking his guest some Sunday related questions. Since I love Sundays I thought that I would answer some of those here.

What is your ideal Sunday outfit? It is always going to be something comfortable. But in quarantine things have been taken to the next level. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a pair of athletic shorts or leggings and an oversized Life is Good t-shirt.

Do you drink coffee, and if so how do you take your coffee? I am pretty simple when it comes to my at home coffee. I absolutely love my Ninja coffee maker so I will usually just brew myself a cup with some oat milk and a sprinkle of pumpkin pie seasoning. (Yes, even in the summer because I think it is pure comfort). My boyfriend recently subscribed to the Black Rifle Coffee Company so we get two bags of coffee delivered each month. I will also buy New Harvest which is made right here in Rhode Island.

How do you take your eggs? I am very picky about my eggs. I am not a big fan of the egg whites unless they are scrambled. Typically if I am making eggs I scramble them with some cheese, cook up a piece of bacon, and put that on an English muffin. However, in quarantine I have perfected the perfect poached egg and it is life changing. I will usually add the poached egg on top of a piece of avocado toast. Side note – if I am back in my hometown in NJ I will eat all of the bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on an everything bagel that I can.

What is your go-to Sunday movie? It is usually something I have seen before and usually light hearted. I love a feel good movie like You’ve Got Mail or a cheesy Adam Sandler movie that everyone hates but I love like Just Go With It.

If I opened your refrigerator right now what would I find? I finally got to Trader Joe’s for the first time since quarantine started so I have finally stocked up on some of my favorite things. I always have the cheese drawer full of staple cheeses like mozzarella, Brie, and Gouda to make a cheese board, and almost always have prosciutto in our house. We always have salsa and some other type of dip because we are big chip people. We also have cookie dough for a quick dessert, some bagged salad, fruit that we will probably forget about, pickles, chicken waiting to be cooked, a TON of condiments, oat milk, orange juice, and a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

What is on your bedside table? Currently on my bedside table I have a heavy duty hand lotion because I wash my hands like a crazy person, air pods, my Apple Watch charging, an Anthropology volcano candle, a few notebooks, lavender sleep balm, and a glass of water.

What does your ideal Sunday consist of? I will always start the day by making myself a cup of coffee. Sunday is usually the day where we will cook breakfast together, so my boyfriend will usually make the pancakes while I make some bacon. If it is nice out we will go outside and eat it on the balcony listening to some music. I used to do the food shopping on Sundays but now I typically do that during the week, so we spend most of the day relaxing watching movies. Before dinner I usually make a small cheese board to pick on while we cook. Then I will make dinner which is usually something simple like pasta. After dinner I have some tea and then we settle in to watch our weekly obsession – 90 Day Fiancé, Before the 90 Days. It is the highlight of our Sunday and I am so sad that this season is almost over.

Calming Your Mind in Troubling Times

It is an understatement to say that this year has been hard. From a global pandemic to horrible injustice and inequality there are so many awful things happening in our country. It is so important to speak up during these times and do your part to help.

With everything going on there is one thing that you can not forget about, and that is to take care of your mental health. It is easy to lose focus on what your mind and body is telling you. In times of trouble it is important to take care of yourself as well as others. Here are just a few ways to take a small moment and clear your mind.

One of the easiest ways to relax your mind is to use meditation apps. There are many different apps out there so try them out and see what works best for you. I have tried Headspace and Calm in the past, and I currently use Simple Habit. What I love about Simple Habit is that it is easy to choose meditations based off of your personal needs. There is a meditation for everything and they range from 5 minutes to 20 minutes or more. I love the 5 minute coffee meditation in the morning and the 5 minute deep sleep meditation in the evening. Taking just five minutes for yourself to clear your mind will make a big difference when navigating the rest of your day.

Yoga goes hand in hand with meditation but it is another great way to clear your mind while working your body. Yoga by Adrienne is a great YouTube channel to follow for free yoga videos.

It is important to stay involved and stay up to date on what is going on, but it is very important to take some time to put down the phone and stay off social media. Whether it is committing your mornings to be social media free or giving yourself a deadline of 8pm each night it is important to give your mind a break from the influx of reposts on social media.

Take care your mind, and take care of others. Love, hope, and understanding will always overcome hate.