Lazy Summer Days

It's been a while, again. I've been thinking of things to write, but my writing hasn't gotten much beyond the thoughts in my head lately. I try to make myself sit down and put something on the computer or on paper, but the words don't come out or I'm not sure how to start. So here I am just jumping in. Writing some of my random thoughts. Hopefully my blog will establish more cohesiveness as I write or maybe randomness will be the beauty of it? It's really difficult for me to begin a task that I can't see the end of, so maybe that's why I can never get started? If that even makes any sense at all. My goal over the next month is to write without knowing the outcome. My hope is that if I just start, the words will come.

This summer has been full of a lot of fun with just a little progress towards my goals. It seems like the more open-ended free-time I have, the more I put my to-do list off. When I have 8 straight weeks of days off, I tend to think, "I'll just do that tomorrow." By the end of the school year, my brain needs a serious break; most of which takes place in the form of reading while drinking coffee on my front porch, laying by the pool watching my kids play, scrolling through FB with no real agenda, and placing sale items into online shopping carts and forgetting about them until the sale is over and/or the item is sold out (does anyone else do that)? The more free-time I have the more free-time I crave, like a greedy-free-time-devouring monster. Then at night I feel guilty that I wasted another day when I have "so much to do" and vow that tomorrow I'll really get to it.

So that's what I've been doing for the past 8 weeks, along with a trip to Australia with my husband, a beach vacation to Nags Head, a visit to my grandma's house in North Carolina and a smattering of swim meets, birthday parties, cookouts with friends, and gym workouts. It sounds like a glamorous life right? "Summertime, and the livin' is easy."


However, in two short weeks it will be back to the grind. Back to school and shuttling around to after-school activities and meetings all the while trying to get a healthy dinner on the table and the kids in bed at a reasonable time so they can reach their potential the next day. It's time to get to work. Today, I made my "Last 2 Weeks of Summer" Bucket List and posted it on the refrigerator front and center, where I will see it every time I open the fridge instead of just before I getting into bed. This idea actually came from my husband a couple of weeks ago, but I've haven't actually done it because I was scared of what it might look like. My list includes reorganizing/cleaning every room in my house, as well as some fun summer things I've been wanting to do with the kids (paint pottery, go to the summer $1 movies) and a really fun grown-ups trip to Nashville with our friends. It actually isn't half as bad as I thought it would be and before I go to bed tonight I will actually be able to cross off two things already. Can you guess which two?


Cheers to enjoying these last two productive weeks of summer vacation!


Do you ever feel like you're not sure you're following the correct path of life? That although your life is full of pretty great and full of amazing things, you can't get the feeling out of your stomach that perhaps you were made for something more or different? I've had this feeling for the past year, you know that unsettled knot that keeps you from living your life in complete happiness. To be fair, it's small and sometimes I'm so busy I forget it's there, but deep down I known I need something to change. Now, before you go thinking I've completely lost it and I'm having a mid-life crisis. I promise I'm not going to do anything drastic like quitting my job and joining the circus. The changes I have in mind are more of baby steps--for now.

First of all I need a mindset make-over. As I said before, my life is pretty great--I have a wonderful husband, two healthy children, a career in the field I chose, great friends, plenty of food and a beautiful home. So why do I have this unsettled feeling? What is keeping me from being truly happy and thankful for all of these gifts God has placed into my life? I think most of the problem is my mindset. It is really easy for me to jump into the negative and what's going wrong, how stressed something is making me, or how much I don't want to complete a task. However, I think back to a few years ago when I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. In this book Voskamp teaches to live life joyfully by counting your blessings, from the obvious to the simple gifts we take for granted. I've tried journaling and writing three things I'm thankful for each day, but I want to go beyond a simple list on paper. I want to share the things I'm thankful for, in a more positive in depth way.


The next thing I need is a lifestyle change. I'm not sure about you, but my life is STUFFED, so stuffed I feel like I don't have any time for the things I truly love: reading, writing, making homemade things, spending time with my family. I have become rushed, quick tempered, and super unorganized. And when I do take time for myself, then I fall behind in other areas of importance--making time for family and friends, keeping up with the house, or meeting deadlines for work. And that's just my time. I'm stuffed in other ways as well, when I look around my house--it is physically stuffed. We have more things than there are hours in the day to use the things we have. I know I am not the only person with this problem. So, over the next few months I will finish the decluttering process that I've already started, following Marie Condo's, author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, philosophy of only keeping items that are useful and "spark joy". I've read a lot of research recently that says that reducing physical clutter around you actually reduces brain clutter as well, which can lead to more productivity and less anxiety.

Along with this lifestyle change, I am seeking a simpler way of living. I want to get back to making my own products using essential oils and natural materials, keeping a small garden for growing some vegetables and herbs for cooking, and being more connected with family and friends in face-to-face settings rather than through social media. As I begin these small changes in my life, I will also be blogging more to share these positive changes with you. Although my name and website will remain the same, my blog focus will be changing slightly, my children are growing and as my life has changed over the past 5 years, so has my vision and my goals for writing. I hope that I can still connect with many of my previous followers as your children have grown as well, but I also hope that I can connect with others who may be looking for some inspiration or positive change in their lives as well. Please feel free to share my website and Facebook page with your friends and family. And as always, thank you for your support and for reading.


Sun Basket Review

Last night we prepared and devoured our first Sun Basket meal. I've been wanting to try a meal delivery service for quite some time, but for some reason or other, I've never signed up for one. I though, "I don't need to spend extra money for a service to send me food from a set menu each week." Plus, call me crazy, but I enjoy going to the grocery store and picking out my own ingredients. I know, who has time for that?

However, after a year or so of getting $35 off coupons for Blue Apron in the mail every couple of months and talking to my sister-in-law about their Blue Apron subscription I was seriously considering pulling the trigger and actually subscribing to a meal delivery service. In our house we are not the type of people who can have the same dinners over and over week after week. That combined with the fact that my husband is often traveling or working late and when school is in session we often don't arrive home until after 5:30 p.m., I found myself slinging random and not always healthy food at my kids for dinner---frozen pizza, mac and cheese, and rotisserie chicken are examples of some of the regulars in the rotation. Sometimes I would go all out and fix grilled chicken or salmon along with some sort of roasted vegetable, but honestly we were in a serious dinner rut. I thought that a meal delivery service would be just the thing to add new recipes to our dinner routine. Also, quite frankly I was tired of throwing food away. You know, like when you need 1/2 cup of buttermilk for a broccoli salad recipe and have to buy a half-gallon of buttermilk because that is the smallest container the store sells. Then two months later, you find said buttermilk with a sell-by date that expired more than 30 days before. Maybe that only happens to me?

I was all ready to sign up for Blue Apron because quite frankly that's the one I'd seen so often. Marketing does in fact work! However, I was talking to one of my mom friends at the pool a couple of weeks ago and she mentioned that she used Sun Basket and she really liked the ease of the recipes (I had heard that Blue Apron recipes could be a bit time consuming, but I don't know that from experience). I decided to put in a little research. I compared Sun Basket, Blue Apron and Hello Fresh and decided that Sun Basket would work best for our family. (As a side note, I have no ill-will against Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, nor have I given their recipes a shot, so please don't take this post as me telling you Sun Basket is better than the others). 

I recommend putting in your own research to see what works best for you, but let me tell you what set Sun Basket above the others for us. They have dietary choices  with paleo friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free options. My husband and I are trying to eat paleo friendly so this was a huge selling feature for us. We are not super strict with our diet, but I'd prefer not to make a huge pasta meal once a week. Now, I'll go ahead a warn you, if you are strict paleo, then you will have to omit certain ingredients at times; however, the recipe will tell you how to adjust the meal to meet your needs. Another huge selling feature was Sun Basket's use of USDA organic produce, grass-fed meat, and non-GMO ingredients. Sun Basket was about $1 more per serving (I'm all for saving money) than some of the other delivery services, however, we thought the dietary options and quality ingredients seemed like a better option. 

We decided to give it a whirl. We opted for the 2 meal per week family plan for $9.99/serving ($79.92/week). We were able to get $35 off our first box. We thought, if nothing else we'd get some new recipe ideas and hopefully get out of our dinner funk. Since our box was coming from California, I did have a few concerns over the meat and produce arriving and being safe to eat. My friend assured me there were large ice packs in the boxes and everything was packaged really well. Then I began to be concerned about the amount of waste by a weekly delivery of ice packs, containers, etc. 

Our first box arrived Wednesday and everything was securely packaged for our first two meals: Vietnamese steak stir-fry with jasmine rice and Turkey tacos with cucumber-red pepper salsa. I wish I had taken a picture, but I promise to update this post with pictures when the next box arrives. Almost every bit of the packaging is recyclable, which helped alleviate my waste worry. Each meal is packaged in brown paper that you can then use to place all of your veggie scraps for compost (if you have a compost). Also, the insulation is made out of recyclable material with a 1 symbol so that can roll up the insulation and place it in your recycling. The ice packs can be drained in your compost as well and their outer plastic layer can be recycled. In addition, most of the food containers are recyclable plastic or they can be reused for leftovers or as containers for other things. For example, I washed out and reused the black bean container for my leftover salsa. The other thing I absolutely loved is that not only did I receive the recipes for the two dinners we picked for the week, the box came with a booklet of all the recipes for the week! This is especially exciting because I really wanted to try the Curried chicken salad with grapes, but didn't choose it as a dinner option this week. Plus there was an additional sheet with a cool Tic-Tac-Toe craft to make with your children.


Our first meal was Turkey tacos with cucumber-red pepper salsa. Each ingredient was clearly labeled and properly portioned. The recipe was easy to follow with prep items in blue and cooking steps in black. There are also chef tips for using leftover items. I know what you're thinking, there shouldn't be leftover items. However, this recipe uses corn tortillas, which are prepackaged. The chef tip for this recipe is to use the leftover tortillas to make chips. Yum! I also love the tips for allowing your kids to help with the dinner making process. My eight-year old son helped with the cooking--his new favorite hobby. Although, I let him do more advanced cooking than the recipe indicates. His current specialty is scrambled eggs so I let him help with sautéing the poblanos and browning the ground turkey. 

So now I know you're wondering, how was it? I thought it was delicious. Not only was the recipe healthy, but it was flavorful. The only thing the kids weren't a fan of were the corn tortillas, but luckily we had some flour tortillas in the fridge. We had a lot leftover after our meal. But my husband and I keep our portion sizes pretty small for dinner and I was able to enjoy a delicious taco salad over spinach for lunch with all of the fixings. If you are looking to spice up your dinner meals with less stress and shopping time, I suggest giving a meal delivery service a try.

Happy New Year!

What will 2017 bring for you? Hardly anyone knows. We begin each new year with new hopes, dreams, and goals of making changes to our lives. Or perhaps our lives are perfectly fine and there isn't anything we want or need to change. Whatever your mindset, change requires effort, determination, and tons of perseverance. Rewind back to January 1st 2016, I made 3 goals for myself: get published, get organized, and lose 10 pounds, which just so happened to be the same 3 goals I set for myself in 2015. And embarrassingly enough, if I'm being perfectly honest, those were probably my goals in 2014 also. So if I've been working towards the same goals for at least 2 years, why haven't I achieved any of them? Laziness? Fear? Maybe a little of both? Or perhaps sheer overwhelmedness (yes, I know that's not a real word). You know the feeling I'm talking about, where you have so much going on that when you do have actual free time to get something accomplished, you don't know where to start or even have the energy to do anything else? Or maybe that's just me. Or perhaps it's the feeling when you try hard at something for a short period of time, but you don't see any results and you give up or become discouraged.

As a side-note, my 2016 was nothing to be sad or mopey about. It was actually pretty awesome. I went on four great vacations. Visited 5 states, traveled in 4 different countries, took my children on their first plane trip. I completed my first year in a new position at my school. Played, laughed, ran, and made many memories with my family and friends. Not to mention that I am blessed with two beautiful, healthy children, a wonderful husband, a great job, and a fantastic family and friends.

The truth is, achieving your dreams is not possible without heart and a whole lot of hard work. I will never reach my goals without making a conscious effort to work towards them. I will never publish my first book without spending time writing, each and every day. Although, I made a start in 2016, three blog posts and an outline aren't going to get my novel published. Likewise, I'm never going to get organized by doing the daily chores that need to be done and nothing more. I'm going to have to put in hours of time to get things to a functional point and then I'm going to have to work to keep things organized. And those ten pounds, well, I'm likely never to lose them unless I change my eating habits permanently. Instantaneous results will not happen and in all honesty, 365 days may not be enough to get my goals accomplished, but hopefully by this time next year, I will have made some progress toward these goals.

Why am I telling you all of this? You probably have goals and dreams of your own to focus on that differ from those of my own. My purpose in writing this is two-fold. A few months ago, I read a book called Living Well Spending Less by Ruth Soukup. When I was reading what she had written in her book, there were many times that I thought, “wow, she’s talking to me.” Although I knew that she wasn’t writing this book for Amy Fields, there were many things that she wrote that really stuck with me. So my thought in writing this blog post is that maybe there is someone out there who reads this post and feels the same way that I do, overwhelmed and scared of their goals, but ready to put in the hard work that it takes to accomplish those staggering goals. Maybe we can lean on each other and push each other to achieve those goals. The other reason I’m writing this is to hold myself accountable.  By putting my goals out there in the wide-open world of the Internet where anyone can read them, I’m more likely to be working towards them. I honestly hope that I if I run into you on the street sometime soon that you’ll say, “Hey, Amy. How’s your book going?” Hopefully, my response will be positive and more than, "I have an outline."

Happy 2017 to you! May this be the year where your dreams come true!