Monday, April 28, 2014

I Have to Cook and Eat, Too?!

Proof I leave myself cute little reminders!
In the grand scheme of things, when I get busy, cooking and eating seem to take a backseat to life.  I skip lunch sometimes when I am busy at work, OR I will eat snack foods for dinner when J is out of town.  I tease him that he needs to leave food in the freezer (or fridge) "for the dog" (aka me) when he is getting ready to head out of town.  Otherwise, I won't eat! I simply run out of time to cook or even THINK about cooking if left to my own devices.  BUT while sweet J cooks for us, I plan the meals.  I plan on a weekly basis, and I even leave myself reminders in my planner each weekend.  I go on a weekly basis because I have to make weekly trips to the grocery store to sustain our supply of fresh fruits and veggies (we go through
them by the pound-full! I recommend a warehouse store like Costco or Sam's if your family is like this, too!). I try to plan meals by using the following guidelines.

1. 3-5 servings of fruits or veggies DAILY. Snacks DO count, but I try to get at least one serving of each at dinner.  Having trouble with the veggies part? Salads count!  Try veggie sticks with ranch dressing, or a healthier option such as hummus. For work, try some portable options: clementines, bananas, apples, carrot sticks or baby carrots, cucumber slices.  The possibilities are endless!

2.  For protein sources, I try to follow this pattern:  2-3 days of white meats, 2-3 days of red, 2-3 days of left overs (possibly), 1 meal with another source of protein (i.e., eggs, chickpeas).

NOW - the tricky part is, meshing all of these into a perfect harmony of meals that are going to make you AND your family happy! I am gluten intolerant, so certain meals are more difficult to create or eat since I can't eat them. My stepson is SUPER picky, so we have to work within what we know he will eat and still try to get him a balanced diet.  There are some GREAT books out there to help you with this step if your child is super picky.  Anything green that touches his plate is promptly put onto his placemat...Have a child like that?  I HIGHLY recommend the book "Deliciously Deceptive."  My mom has a "mashed potatoes (cauliflower)" recipe that I believe she took from there. It's AMAZING.  If it's not in there, google it! With the Paleo diet on the rise, there's plenty of recipes out there!

Like I said earlier, I plan weekly...I plan according to portion sizes.  J is really bad about eating too much (and he'll openly admit it to you, too!), so I try to plan so that the portion sizes have to be smaller to start with.  I use the following diagram from to try and make sure I buy enough to have several portions (more portions equals more left overs!).  (**NOTE: I usually switch the sizes of fruits and grains as the grains I CAN have aren't all that stellar in the taste department.)
That being said, here is a few days' worth of meals/snacks planned out just so you can see how detailed I get (keeps me on track!). I try to drink 8 glasses of water per day (8 oz glasses!), but as you can see, diet coke is my guilty pleasure.  For more meal/snack ideas, visit - it has some great suggestions!

DAY 1:
Breakfast - diet coke, 2 clementines, 1 banana, Kind protein bar
Snack - 1 greek yogurt, water
Lunch - 1 bowl vegetable soup, 1 bowl fruit salad, water
Snack - cheese slices, gluten free crackers
Dinner - honey mustard chicken, rice, salad, mango slices

DAY 2:
Breakfast - cheese grits, 1 egg (scrambled)
Snack - Kind protein bar, 1 clementine
Lunch - baby carrots & hummus, cheese slices, greek yogurt
Snack - 1 clementine
Dinner - smoked turkey sausage curry (with red & yellow peppers, zucchini) on white rice

DAY 3:
Breakfast - Nutella on gluten free bread, diet coke
Snack - 2 clementines
Lunch - Salad with strips of grilled chicken, vinaigrette dressing or honey mustard dressing, fruit
Snack - veggies & hummus
Dinner - shrimp, Italian Sausage & grits (Use marinade recipe to create a roux by adding small amounts of flour [gluten free, of course!]. Then add in cooked sausage and shrimp!), fruit salad

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Weekend: Stepping Into Stepmom-Dom

This past weekend was (obviously) Easter.  We had the BEST weekend – with J’s little son in town and my parents less than an hour away, we made the most out of this family weekend!  J picked up Little Man (LM) on Thursday evening, per the usual visitation schedule.  I worked all day Friday while my boys stayed home and enjoyed playing at the park, running around the house, and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather in the backyard!  When I came home Friday night, I’ll admit – I was EXHAUSTED!  However, this sweet little munchkin climbed right up in my lap and that was it.  We snuggled while sweet J cooked dinner (it was breakfast for dinner – YUM! One of my favorites!).  LM even “read a book” to me. 
LM reading me a book and snuggling
Unfortunately, much later that night, LM woke up crying with a horribly runny nose and saying his throat hurt.  After much fighting, we were able to get him some medicine to make him feel better…he FINALLY was able to go to sleep around midnight.

Saturday, everyone woke up in much better spirits.  We played hard inside the house and in the backyard.  We ran a few errands, and then we headed down to my parents for the afternoon (and an amazing dinner!).  LM was into EVERYTHING at GiGi and Grandad’s house.  He LOVES their cats (although the cats don’t quite love him).   GiGi (my mom) got Thomas a new book for Easter (Dr. Seuss’ “I Wish That I Had Duck Feet – adorable book, by the way if you have children).  He had three different people read him the book within an hour!  He even “helped” my dad grill – so adorable!  He passed out on the way back home, but he loved every minute at Grandad and GiGi’s – he especially loved seeing his Aunt T (my sister).
GiGi reading to LM and Aunt T
LM helping Grandad grill!
Sunday was Easter – and what a gorgeous GLORIOUS day it was!  We were able to get a now fairly sick LM to church on time with little fuss.  He was a bit hesitant to go to Sunday school, but with a few pushes he was in and playing around in no time.  We went to my grandparent’s for Easter brunch.  LM was so sweet and he LOVED all the people in the retirement community.  He was certainly Mr. Greeting Committee – despite the fact it was his first visit there!!!  We got plenty of family photos, as everyone was looking quite dapper!  
With my sweet boys on Easter!
We went back to my parent’s house where we were able to get in some more quality time before having to take LM back to his mom.  LM got his second wind while we were there, which resulted in some hilarious comments and antics from him - good, clean family fun!

He was so incredible well behaved despite the fact he was either doped up on Dimetap or not feeling well.  I was SO proud of him!  Lesson Learned: Kids are resilient! They truly are! I cannot wait to have sweet LM back again in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

What Did We Learn?: The Flossing Cavity

“What did we learn?”  As my first post with this title, I feel I have to explain the significance of it.  I swam in college on partial scholarship, so yes, I was a decent swimmer (yet another question I hated: “Oh you swim? Are you good?”).  Whenever someone on the team did anything idiotic that resulted with pain, hangover, or anything else causing suffering, I had a teammate that would go: “What did we learn?”   While annoying when directed at you, it was hilarious when witnessed involving other people.  Now that you have the history, let’s jump in to this week’s lesson: The Flossing Cavity.

This week, I had 2 (yes, TWO!) cavities filled.  Having NEVER had a cavity filled before, I was terrified, to say the least.  Of course, I made the mistake of asking everyone I knew what their experience was like.  Bad, bad Meredith!  This, like many medical procedures, results in everyone sharing their horror stories: “my numbing medicine didn’t work,” or “my filling fell out the next day” stories bounced around in my brain for two weeks.  I will be SURE not to tell anyone when I am pregnant, about to have my gallbladder out, or ready to have a mole removed.  I’m not sure my poor little brain can handle all THOSE horror stories!

Back to my mouth:  I’ll be honest.  I do my best to take care of my teeth and mouth: I brush 2-3 times daily, use mouthwash, and floss when I remember.  Now, at the ripe old age of 25, after multiple sealants, I was facing the filling of not one, but two cavities.  I was beyond anxious.  After my cleaning, I schedules my procedure.  There was two week’s lag time between my cleaning and my fillings – talk about anxiety!  I had nightmares that they drilled through my head during the procedure, accidentally filled the wrong tooth, and so much more! 

My experience during the procedure could not have been more different (thankfully!).  I requested nitrous gas, which I probably ended up not even needing (hindsight is 20/20).  It made me feel drunk as sin, but at least my anxiety was kept at bay.  My dentist was kind enough to use a topical numbing agent so that I didn’t even feel the injections of numbing medicine!  Having half your face go numb is an interesting feeling – you feel like you are drooling uncontrollably out that side of your mouth AND you can’t seem to close your lips all the way together.  I wouldn’t recommend you experiment with that feeling, but once you’ve gone through it, you’ll totally get it.  I digress.  Half way through filling my first cavity, the dentist commented that this was a “flossing cavity.”  Naturally, I was intrigued and asked, as best I could with my mouth full of 19 pairs of hands and dental instruments, what exactly IS a “flossing cavity?”  The dentist explained that it is a cavity that could have easily been PREVENTED from daily flossing.  I’m more of a once every six weeks type of flosser, so you can see why I was instantly depressed.  I had brought this on myself, despite my best efforts.

You see, I hate flossing and the idea of flossing.  Wrapping this tiny string around your finger so tight you lose feeling in the tip of your finger only to pluck misplaced food particles out of your mouth - Gross (yes, with a capital G!).  I hate mouths anyways, but playing in my own mouth is not my idea of a fun daily routine.  But this time, I guess it would have served me well if I had made an effort to floss a little more frequently than once every six weeks. 

So, in conclusion, “What Did We Learn?”: Floss, darn it!  Even if you hate it, even if it kills you (at least you will have great teeth!) – FLOSS!  Learn from my pain, anxiety, and mistake.  It may save you a cavity – or two, in my case!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Not My Momma's Marinara

I can’t honestly say that this recipe is one that has been passed down through my family for generations.  We aren’t Italian – we’re Southern (with a capital S, yes).  We pass down recipes for low country boils, baked goods, and knowledge of how to make a good sweet tea!  This recipe, however, does come from a well-known Southern lady – Miss Paula Deen* herself!  My family isn’t generally thrilled about Miss Paula’s recipes.  We aren’t big on butter.  Or lard.  BUT when my mom had a friend cook shrimp and grits with this marinara recipe, she was hooked.  Mom’s friend shared the recipe with Mom, and in turn, Mom shared the recipe with me.  It makes a TON.  I actually store it in the freezer in Ziploc bags for future use!  It’s great for lasagna, shrimp and grits, spaghetti, and SO much more!  J actually uses it as a dip for his garlic bread! 

We actually used it for the sauce for our shrimp and grits the other evening.  I almost wish I had thrown in some Italian Sausage (with casings removed, of course) with it!  

Without further ado, Ms. Paula’s recipe:

4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons minced garlic
½ Cup White Wine
1 Tablespoon Oregano
1 Tablespoon Thyme
1 Tablespoon Basil
2-28 ounce cans diced tomatoes
2-28 ounce cans tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 tsp The Lady’s House Seasoning**

1.  Heat olive oil in LARGE pot on medium heat.  Sautee garlic in olive oil, stirring frequently, being careful not to let it burn.
2.  Once garlic has browned, add in remainder of spices.  Stir for about one minute.
3.  Pour wine into oil and spice mixture.  Stir for about one minute.
4.  Add the diced tomatoes (undrained), and stir for 2 minutes.  Then add the tomato sauce, sugar and house seasoning.
5.   Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for at least 2 hours.  The longer it cooks, the thicker it gets.
6.  Freeze any extra.

*My mom SWEARS it’s from Paula Deen (trust me, I interrogated her appropriately!), but I cannot find an original source anywhere.  I will continue to try and find it, and provide a link later. My apologies for being so ill-prepared!
**The Lady’s House Seasoning is 1 cup salt,  ¼ cup black pepper, ¼ cup garlic powder. Also courtesy of Miss Deen! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Hello!  Thanks for stopping by, and welcome to The Everything Diaries!  What is The Everything Diaries, you ask?!  It is just that!  A diary of my crazy, wildly busy life – complete with pictures, anecdotes, recipes, tutorials, my brand of sarcasm, and so much more!  I’m hoping that in the process blogging about discovering balance in my life and my inner Super Woman, that you, too will channel your inner Goddess of Balance (or at least learn what NOT to do by reading what I did!).

Who am “I” exactly?  I am Meredith.  I am born and raised a Southern lady.  I can tell you honestly my mother would snort at my self-description of “lady.”  I am anything but that – I laugh too loud; I speak my mind too much; I am too sarcastic.  You get it.  I have a sweet, compassionate, soft-spoken, other-half – “J.”  He was a package deal with his adorable son, Little Man (referred to as LM).  I’m not complaining. The two of them keep me laughing.  I digress.

I, too, struggle just like everyone to achieve balance.  I work what most would consider an “average” or “normal” work week.  What defines average?  40 hours - plain and simple.  However, working in medicine, my job is never truly done.  Long hours, call, charts to finish and sign off on - it seems to be never ending!  It’s hard to achieve that simple little thing we all want: balance.  According to Google, it is a noun meaning “an even distribution of weight, enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.”  Got it?  Good – me, too.   I think. 

But HOW are we supposed to do this with work, family, work-outs, hobbies, dinner, cleaning, laundry, walking the dog, running errands, budgeting, and squeezing in that rare mani/pedi or lunch date with a girlfriend?  Honestly – I have no idea.  Sometimes, there don’t seem to be enough hours in a day!  In the spirit of full disclosure – I started laundry and accidentally left a load in the washing machine for three days (whoops!).  It’s actually still sitting there…I guess I should go restart the cycle since it probably stinks to high heaven of mildew right now (so gross!).  I digress - again.  My attempt at balance falls squarely on the shoulders of my sweet other half, J.  He goes above and beyond to pick up my slack, so I can’t say that I’m making a “go” of this journey to Balance alone.  Per his request (ahem – my suggestion), he will be weighing in from time to time as a “guest blogger.”

So now that I have you hooked (lined, maybe? Sunk?), here are some things for you to look forward to over the next week or two:
1.                    A marinara recipe to DIE for (OK, that might be a little drastic. How about you just faint from excitement?).  Seriously, though.  My mom introduced me to this recipe a few weeks ago.  It makes TONS, and works with a wide variety of meals!
2.                    A commentary of my day (get used to this – I plan on having a weekly: “What did we learn?” post!).  My whitty, sarcastic commentary on a relatively simple, silly mistake I made during my day that resulted in a rather comic event.
3.                    A Sneak-Peek into my attempt at organizing, which combines 2 of my favorite things: Filofax and Erin Condren.
4.                    A reflection of this past weekend with J’s sweet son, LM (Little Man).  I am also going to have a relatively regular “Stepping into Step-Momdom” post.  What is balance without including a sweet little nugget into your plans? J
5.                    GLUTEN-FREE Asian Lettuce Wraps.  YUM!  Before you judge, I am gluten intolerant.  ;)

Catch ya later!