Monthly Archives: January 2015

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How I stay on top of it all

how to stay on top of it all
I love being busy and having places to go.  If my calendar was empty day-after-day then I’d probably be pretty depressed.  I like staying busy.  It makes me feel productive.  But staying busy all the time has it’s drawbacks.  Like… being too busy to remember to get gas in my car until I can only go 5 miles and the gas station is 7 from my house or being too busy to remember to fold the clothes in the dryer and my work shirts are wrinkled or being too busy to stop and smell the roses.  Usually the only times I get sick is when my calendar is jammed packed.

I have a system that I’ve been working on for a few years now and I finally have it down to a science.  I use Google calendar to manage my life outside of the office (or when a meeting takes me outside the office) and I use Google calendar to manage my family.  I use Outlook to manage my daily tasks at  work so I know what all I need to get done that day and if I can’t get to something it’s easy to just drag it over to another day.  I use a paper journal for list making, idea keeping, and money tracking.

how to stay on top of it all

My journal goes everywhere with me.  I explained how I like to use it to keep track of our extra income we get each month.  But there are so many countless ways I use my journal.  It’s my brain dump, catch all, no stopping information gathering place.  I make lists then when I get to work or in front of my laptop I pull out my journal and figure out when and where I can get my lists done.

Journals are the best way to get things out of your head, down on paper and off your mind.  Write it down.  Know where you write things down (hence the love of journals) so you can find them later.  I’ve always said if you write it down then it will get done.  It’s just a matter of time, but writing it down allows your mind to focus on the task at hand instead of trying to remember a bunch of ideas, things to do and getting the work done.

how to stay on top of it all

The key with using a journal to stay on top of it all is actually looking at it.  You have to look at it, mark things off and schedule time to actually do your tasks.  

I go through a lot of journals every year.  So I never buy the fancy ones that look super nice.  I go with the ones on clearance.  I’m pretty sure I’ve never paid more than $5 for a journal.  That’s crazy pants to me.  Who cares what the outside cover looks like?  I don’t!

How do you keep track of your to-do lists?

Extra Income Journal

extra income journal, income tracker
I have a thing for budgets and paying down debt.  So it should come as no surprise that I want to keep track of any ‘extra’ income that we come across.  When I say extra I’m talking about birthday money, work bonuses, second jobs (if we get them), etc.  I’d like to know how much more money J and I can earn if we bust our butts a little.

I carry a journal with me at all times.  You never know when an idea will strike or a grocery list needs to be written down or when you’re going to need a piece of paper.  So I carry one that I got as a gift years ago.  I always have about 5 journals laying around not being used.  So I just use one until I break it or run out of paper then I swap it out for a new one.

The extra income journal is not hard to create.  Simply make a page for each month then make a column for a description of what the income is for and a second column for the net amount.  I try to be detailed in the description section.  That way I know who earned the money and where it’s coming from.  That way I know if it was a gift (we had a few Christmas gifts that we didn’t get until after the new year), bonus from work or a side job income.  Sometimes J helps around the office and the office manager pays him for his time.

extra income journal, income tracker

At the bottom I created a row for the total amount for that month.  I figured if there’s a month that I run out of room then I can just flip that page over and keep counting.  It’s going to be really nice at the end of the year to see how much extra money we actually made and how we made it.

You could probably write create a page in Excel or Word, but I like the act of writing out the amount.  It makes it more valid for me.  It’s the same idea of crossing items off the to-do list.  It’s done, it’s mine and there’s no taking it back.

extra income journal, income tracker

Do you keep track of your extra income each month?  How do you track it?


I’m linking up this week:

Grace and Good Eats

What I ate – Week 3 of Whole30

Day 15 (Jan. 16th)

Breakfast: banana and water
Lunch: Kiwanis meeting so I had fajita steak and chicken with veggies, lettuce and guacamole
Dinner: chicken tacos (shell-less)

Day 16 (Jan. 17th)

Breakfast: nothing – so bad, I know!
Lunch: hamburger meat with veggies
Snack: banana
Dinner: fajita chicken, steak and shrimp with veggies

Day 17 (Jan. 18th)

Breakfast: 2 pieces of bacon, 1 egg and 1 egg white
Lunch: …can’t remember
Dinner: salad with chicken

Day 18 (Jan. 19th)

Breakfast: I slept in so I didn’t eat anything
Lunch: chicken, carrots, and other veggies
Dinner: Nothing – my lunch was later in the day and I wasn’t very hungry

Day 19 (Jan. 20th)

whole30 meal

breakfast: piece of bacon, banana and water
lunch: chicken dish
dinner: pot roast with carrots and potatoes.  It cooked all day in the slow cooker with beef broth, sliced onions, and seasonings.

Day 20 (Jan. 21st)


breakfast: leftover pot roast with carrots and potatoes.  I also added some pineapple – yummy!
lunch: leftover pot roast again.  I’m so tired of pot roast, but it was sooo good that I couldn’t let it go to waste.
dinner: chicken with potato

Day 21 (Jan. 22nd)


breakfast: 2 pieces of bacon and some yummy pineapple.  I love pineapple so much!  It’s my favorite fruit next to bananas.  I have to be careful because the more I eat of pineapple then the more my throat itches.  I know what you’re thinking, Meredith that means your allergic to pineapple.  I don’t believe it!  Or I guess I won’t believe it.  It’s too good to be allergic to it.  So I just eat in small doses.
lunch:  I had my Kiwanis meeting so I had fajita chicken and beef with veggies, lettuce and guacamole.
dinner:  Italian chicken cooked in the crockpot all day.  I roasted some asparagus with EVOO in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes.  So good!  I’ll have to share the recipe with you soon on the chicken – so easy!

I’ve learned that I am not a food blogger by any means.  I’m the worst at remembering take a picture of my food.  I’m usually too hungry to even think about anything other than shoving food in my mouth.  Plus I feel awkward when other people are around.  J is used to my weird blogger habits by this point, but even he’ll make a comment every once in awhile.

Whole30 Fourth Week Meal Plan

I’m down to the last 8 days of Whole30.  I’m feeling good, feeling healthier and excited to keep up eating clean after the challenge is over.  I know I won’t be perfect and I do see some grains in my future, but I’m going to try real hard to keep it to a minimum compared to how I was pre-Whole30.

I’ve noticed a huge difference in my output at Crossfit this past month.  I’ve PR’d (personal record) a few new lifts, which is super exciting.  I’ve jumped from 95 pound deadlift to 185 pound deadlift.  That’s huge!  I’m sure I’ve just reached more confidence in what I’m doing, but I know a lot of it is what I’m putting in my body.  I’m not tired or feel sick while I’m working out anymore.  It’s awesome.  It really does matter what you eat and how you preform.

Here’s week 4 of what I plan to eat on Whole30.  There is a lot of repeats from previous weeks, but I’m a creature of habit.

whole30 meal plan

whole30 meal plan

whole30 meal plan

whole30 meal plan

whole30 meal plan

Most of these recipes are ones I’m making up or I have made it the previous weeks and you can find the recipes here from week 1, week 2, or week 3.

Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 9

weight loss, weightloss

And we’re off with another installment of Weight Loss Wednesday.  I am proud to say that I’ve made some real strides this past month.  I really have to thank Whole30 for that because it kicked my butt into gear big time.  As I’m typing this – I can’t move my arms of my head very easily and every time I have to stand or sit I wince a little on the inside.  I’m that sore from Crossfit.  But that’s okay.  I like it!  It’s a good kind of sore.  You know the kind, right?  The sore that means you showed up, kicked butt and took names.  You’re proud of how sore you are because you earned it.  It’s been several days of soreness on top of each other and that means you’ve been committed over the past 7 days.


I’m pretty excited to weigh myself after the Whole30 challenge is over.  I don’t know if I’ve lost anything.  My pants still feel loose in my midsection and tighter on my thighs (thanks to squats and lunges!).  Honestly a 1 pound loss will be a victory for me.  It shows progress and that will help me stick to eating clean, more paleo foods, and working out 3-4 times a week.

I think I’m also going to stick with my meal plans on the blog for awhile too.  I don’t always eat exactly what I plan out, but it’s nice to hold myself accountable to eating better.


How to Use Google Calendar to Organize Your Life

How I use Google Calendar
I use Google Calendar to organize my life… every aspect of my life.  I’m an A-Type, OCD, overachiever lady with a horrible memory thanks to my condition of over committing to everything.  I’ve always had the issue of saying yes to every opportunity that comes my way.  I have a fear of missing out, not making memories, and being left behind.  So I go overboard.  I say yes to almost everything, which is probably why I love my down time so much.  I just don’t get it that much.

I use Google calendar for my personal appointments, work appointments, family events, J’s school assignments, birthdays, anniversaries, and important dates to remember.  What I love about Google calendar is that everything is searchable.  Say I can’t remember exactly what date my conference is in June.  Instead of having to search every month, week, or date until I find my event I can just use the handy search bar and it will pull it up.  Love.

I probably drive J crazy because if it’s not in the calendar then it’s like it’s not happening.

I have different calendars for everything so that it can be color coded.  Here’s what I have:

J’s School
Rines’ Family Events
Holidays (that’s a default one I have turned on)

I used to have two more – one for meals and blog posts, but it got overwhelming.  Now, I just use a written planner for meals and then just start a blog post every time I get an idea and save it has a draft until I can finish it.  Plus, I have an editorial calendar that I have saved in Google Drive that I use for my blog.  I shared that awhile back.  You can read about my setup here.

How I use Google Calendar
Here’s the breakdown of how I decide what goes on what:

Meredith – my work appointments, such as my lunch meetings or other happenings that occur Monday-Friday during working hours.

Birthdays – that’s pretty self explanatory

J’s School – we went through and added every reading assignment, Blackboard posts, writing assignment, etc to the calendar.  That way he knows what he needs to be reading for that particular week and when everything is due.

Rines’ Family Events – This is more encompassing.  This is for any appointment, out-of-town meeting, trip, etc. that comes up that the other person needs to know about.  I started working Saturdays for tax season, so this is a family event.  J should remember but just in case… it doesn’t hurt to put it on there.

I also put on the family one:

  • what days I’m going to crossfit or J is going to the gym so we know where each other is if we haven’t heard from one another all day.
  • when our bills are due
  • Dr. appointments
  • date night
  • work that needs to be done to our cars
  • conferences that are out of town
  • family get-togethers

Tips for Using Google Calendar:

how to use google calendar
Make events repeatable to save from rewriting them.
 I use this for crossfit, the Saturdays I have to work, etc.  You can always delete an individual event without messing up your repeated ones.

Share your calendar.  J and I have the Rines’ Family Events and his school calendar shared between us.  That way we both can see everything.

How I use Google Calendar
Color code
.  I love how Google allows each calendar to have a different color.  That way I know just by glance what type of event it is.  Also, you can make a specific event a different color.  I like doing that on things that I really want J to pay attention to.

Find the view that works for you.  You can view daily, weekly, monthly, agenda or create your own.  I created a 2 week view, but mostly stick to the weekly look.

how to use google calendar search
Use the search
.  It will help you find an event quickly.

What I ate – Week 2 of Whole30

Two weeks are down.  I’m still tired of water, but no longer want a diet coke.  I don’t even think it’ll taste good at this point.  I just want something other than water.  I found a Tazo passion fruit tea and according to everyone online it is compliant.  So I’m going to pick some of that up this weekend to try.  Maybe that’ll get me through.  I even found someone who said to make it with sparkling water – hmmm…. maybe that’d be tasty.

Day 8 (Jan. 9)

breakfast: banana, water and tea with two little pups really wanting some of the banana
lunch: chicken salad
dinner: chicken and potato

Day 9 (Jan. 10)

breakfast: two eggs and half of a small tomato cooked with ghee and a banana
lunch: chicken
dinner: fried chicken cooked in almond flour and coconut oil, smashed potatoes from Pioneer Woman, and broccoli.  I didn’t get a picture – oops!

Day 10 (Jan. 11)

breakfast: didn’t eat anything – I wasn’t hungry and desperately needed to go grocery shopping so I just drank water
lunch: ground sausage – I still wasn’t hungry thanks to my numbing migraine
dinner: again, still didn’t feel good so I just left it.

Day 11 (Jan. 12)

whole30 what i ate

breakfast: sausage, 1 egg cooked with a dab of ghee, half of a white potato (I really need to add more veggies to my breakfast. I always remember the ingredients for lunch and dinner while I’m at the store, but can’t seem to get breakfast down)
lunch: cooked chicken that I seasoned, boiled carrots and the remaining half of the potato with ghee
dinner: I can’t remember – I really need to write these things down or always take pictures.  Probably something with chicken because that’s my go-to.

My lunch was so good!  I actually felt full and couldn’t finish the potato.  It was such a nice feeling!  I’m not going to lie – I haven’t felt hungry too much this Whole30, but I haven’t felt full either.  I’m not talking uncomfortable, sick-to-my-stomach full.  Just normal satisfied full.

Day 12 (Jan. 13)

whole30 what i ate

breakfast: steamed carrots and a sad looking banana (but someone on Instagram made a great point – better a sad banana then stopping for pastries.  So right!  So I am proud of my little banana)
lunch: fajita chicken
dinner: shrimp and slaw

Day 13 (Jan. 14)

whole30 meal ideas

breakfast: 1 egg, 1 egg white (for the less eggy taste), seasoned sausage, boiled carrots and another overdue banana
lunch: shrimp sauteed in EVOO and boiled carrots – all of it cooked in coconut aminos (I usually add brown rice to this dish, but since I can’t on Whole30 and didn’t have time to prep Cauliflower rice I went without.  It was actually pretty good.  Simple, but good.)
dinner: HUGE taco salad.  I sauteed onions and tomatoes in coconut oil then added poached chicken that I shredded and then let simmer in my taco seasoning blend.  A bed of red leaf lettuce was on bottom and homemade guacamole was on top.  Then I added some boiled carrots.

Today was a good day.  I was loving my carrots (obviously! ha!) and I felt satisfied after every meal.  I went to Crossfit after work (before dinner) so I grabbed a handful of unsalted cashews to give some extra power while working out.  I didn’t crash or feel weak at all and it was leg day.  Lots of squats, lots of lunges and some sit-ups added in for fun.

Day 14 (Jan. 15)

breakfast: I wasn’t too hungry when I woke up so I made something small – 1 egg and 1 egg white fried in coconut oil and boiled carrots on the side.  I didn’t eat all of it – just not hungry.  So the pups got a little paleo treat!
lunch: I have my Kiwanis meetings on Thursdays and we meet at a Mexican restaurant.  So I tried to be careful, but I’m sure I wasn’t in compliance.  I had fajita chicken with veggies, big bed of lettuce and guacamole on top.
dinner: this is what I get for not taking pictures or writing it down…. I can’t remember what I ate last Thursday.  Some sort of chicken dish probably.  It’s my go-to.

Whole30 Third Week Meal Plan

Today is Day 15, you know what that means?  I’m officially half-way through.  I’ve survived half of the Whole30.  It has been hard and I would be lying if I said I did everything perfect.  I tried a sip of diet coke and it was nasty.  So much for being a rebel!  I guess I’ve kicked that habit.

I shared my first week’s meal plan and my second week’s meal plan with you.  So I thought I should keep it going.  I also have been holding myself accountable by sharing what I actually ate the first week and the second week.  Because no matter how hard I plan, things never happen that way.  Like when I got sick and lost my appetite for a few days or when I went out of town longer than I thought.  It’s been hard, but so worth it.

whole30 meal plan

whole30 meal plan

whole30 meal plan

whole30 meal plan


I usually venture away from this plan, but this is what I buy for and plan for.  At least I know on the days I’m tired there is enough food to cook a dinner in the fridge.  Also, I like to look at it the night or two before so I can pull any meat out of the freezer and have it defrosting.  My favorite is when I can cook a bunch of chicken at one time and have enough for a few meals.  I LOVE the crockpot, it makes my life so much easier.  I have some yummy salsa chicken coming up next week already on my radar.

I’m pulling the meatball soup out of the cookbook I talked about last week.  I’m having to make some adjustments to it to make it compliant, but I’m sure it’ll still be tasty.

Whole30 Eating Out Tips

I really enjoy eating out.  J and I can get out of the house for a little bit, have a date night, and just be around people.  So when we go and I order food knowing that it’s not prepared correctly and knowing it’s not the best choice of meat then it makes it less fun.  Plus… I can’t stand to look at the bread the next table is eating or having to say no cheese on my salad.  Cheese is so tasty.

Maybe in bigger cities there are more options for places that actually have organic foods on the menu, but in my small town, we don’t have that luck.

I kept seeing people talk about Chipotle has compliant meals you can order to give yourself a break from cooking… that’d be nice, but there is one problem.  The closest Chipotle is 112 miles away in Memphis, TN.  The next closest is in St. Louis.  Bummer!

I’ve come up with a few tips that could really help someone like me when they’re first starting Whole30 on how to eat out.

Whole30 Eating Out Tips

Whole30 Eating Out Tips

1) Ask the server how it’s prepared.  Is it cooked in olive oil (good!) or another type of oil that isn’t Whole30 approved?  Did you know most steaks are cooked with butter in restaurants, which is not Whole30 compliant (unless it’s clarified butter and no restaurant near me is doing that)?  How is the chicken prepared – in a marinade made with soy sauce and sugar?

You are paying for a service – it’s okay to ask these questions.  If the server doesn’t know then ask all your questions and make them go find out.  It won’t hurt them to be a little more knowledgeable about their employer (not like ewww they don’t serve the right kind of oil, but so they can tell the next person without any hesitation).

2) Just say no to bread.  That’s the easiest thing to do, but if you’re like me then the people you’re eating with want the bread.  I’m not tempted by the bread basket being there as long as it’s not sitting directly in front of me.  But if you are then have the wait staff only bring enough pieces so everyone with you can take one then if they want more just have them ask for the another ONE, not a whole basket.

3) It’s okay to make modifications.  Ask for no cheese, no butter or the sauce on the side.  Most kitchens will be happy to make adjustments for you.

Remember YOU ARE PAYING.  So it’s okay to ask questions, make changes to the menu and know how you’re food is prepared.

Want to know something?  It’s okay to send back an order if it’s done wrong.  YOU ARE PAYING.  I feel like I’m screaming that at you, but it’s the truth.  If you have asked for no cheese or no sauce and it comes out covered, then send it back.  You can be nice about it, but still do it.



Weight Loss Wednesday: Week 8

weight loss, weightloss
I can’t believe it’s been 2 months since I’ve started these posts… I guess time flies when you’re having whatever this is…

I’m also 13 days into my Whole30 experience.  So I haven’t weighed myself or anything.  I can tell clothes are fitting better, but I’m not sure if that’s Whole30 contributed or a combination of it with crossfit.  Probably the combination, but who knows.  I was doing crossfit b.w. (before Whole30) and I didn’t notice too much of a change, except in my thighs because my pants were getting tighter there….

I’m no longer craving diet coke like I mentioned in Monday’s post.  Every once in awhile I get a craving for chocolate or ice cream, but I ignore it and drink water.  It goes away and I go on about my day.  I have noticed since starting Whole30 that I haven’t been hungry as much.  Maybe it’s because I’m filling my body up with better, more nutritious food.  I don’t know, but I like it.  I’m definitely keeping my portions under control.  I know portions aren’t a huge concern while you’re doing Whole30, but for someone who had a problem with controlling how much they ate, it’s nice to know that with eating cleaner it’s not so much a concern.  I have to admit though – the first few days I was starving.  I would take second helpings that were suppose to be for J and I’d eat them all. Luckily he’s not doing all of Whole30 (just eating what I cook for dinner) so I can easily make him something else if he wants it.

I can’t wait to see how my third week goes. I’m hoping to see some more changes soon.