Healthy Lunch and Snack Ideas

The other day my friend Cara asked me what I usually eat for lunch, because she is getting tired of sandwiches. I totally understand this feeling. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a sandwich for lunch! I consider myself a relatively healthy eater and I’m very low-maintenance when it comes to food, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite things to eat for lunch!

(Side note: I usually eat throughout the day, rather than eating a full meal once. I usually start snacking at 10:30 and stop around 4:00, so these foods are also great ideas for snacks!)

Healthy snack and lunch ideas

I try to eat at least one fruit a day. My favorites are apples, bananas, clementines, grapes, strawberries, and pineapple, depending on what is in season. I eat an apple pretty much everyday!

For my salty-fix, I eat pretzels, kettle chips, pita chips, nuts, or peanut butter and crackers.

I also like to have something sweet. My favorite thing to reach for are dark chocolate-covered acai berries.


Seriously delicious. And healthy!!

A few other faves are carrots and hummus, popcorn, yogurt and granola, cheese and crackers, and chips and salsa.

Happy lunching!

Christmas Bags, a family tradition

I love holiday family traditions. I was blessed to grow up in a great community of families. At Christmas time, everyone usually buys presents for their family members, but my family also wanted to show our friends how much we love and appreciate them by giving them bags full of Christmas goodies. This tradition began one year when my family arrived home to find a Christmas popcorn bowl full of treats from my mom’s good friend Carrie. We were so blessed by this surprise that we decided to make it a tradition of our own. Each year we would spend a Saturday in December in the kitchen making breads, cookies, and chocolate covered pretzels. We would buy plain brown paper bags to decorate, then my brother and I would deliver them in person.

There are so many aspects about this Christmas tradition that I love. Your family friends get something to munch on during the Christmas season, we spent quality time together as a family making and filling the bags, and my brother and I got the joy of chatting with our friends and wishing them a Merry Christmas when we dropped off their bags.

As Brad and I began building our own family traditions, I knew that this was one I wanted to continue for not only Brad and me, but also with our children in the future.

Growing up, we had too many family friends to make bags for all of them, so we switched it up every year. Brad and I have adopted this part of the tradition too. It’s so hard to decide who to give them to, but what a great problem to have! We’re so blessed to have such a great community here in Springfield.

We had a blast making and handing out our bags this weekend. This year we are filling our bags with banana bread, white and milk chocolate covered pretzels, candied nuts, and peanut butter Special K bars (my aunt Lori’s specialty).

Pretzels, YUM!

more pretzels!

For the Carringtons

I encourage you to make this a family tradition of your own, or even to try it just this year! There are endless people to bless with Christmas goodies: friends, family, neighbors, pastors, coaches, teachers, babysitters, your mechanic, the pharmacy, your bank, or the baristas at your favorite coffee shop. It’s a great way to spend time as a family and to bless those that are important to you during this season of giving!

Pinterest Recipe Triumphs, Second Edition

A while back I did a post of my favorite recipes that I have come across on Pinterest. As I said before, Pinterest can be deceiving and I’ve had many recipe fails. I’m always looking for good recipes, so I thought I’d do another post since I’ve come across some more good ones since my last post! These four recipes are very much wintery, comfort food recipes. Enjoy!

potato soup

I just made this potato soup recipe last week in the crock pot. There are all kinds of potato soup, but this one is pureed and turned out really thick. It makes a lot and is definitely hardy. I think this is a good one if you have picky eaters since there aren’t any other vegetables in it. If I made it again I would definitely half the recipe! Brad and I are going to be eating soup for a while.

tortilla soup

Another crock pot soup recipe! I made this chicken tortilla soup about a month ago and it was really good! Three of us were able to finish it off in one evening.


These baked tacos were great! This recipe also makes a lot, so it is a good dish if you are having a lot of people to eat! I cut the recipe in half and it still made 10 tacos, which is too many for Brad and me for one meal and they weren’t as good as leftovers. Also, this blog has a recipe for homemade taco seasoning, which I didn’t use for this recipe, but I’d like to try it!


Comfort food at its finest. Cheesy bacon chicken casserole. I’ve made it without the bacon, but of course it’s better with the bacon, so I try to make this the day after we have breakfast food and I have some leftover bacon. I love this recipe because it’s super easy and I usually have cream of chicken, cheese, some sort of noodles, and chicken on hand.

I got my mom the Pioneer Woman’s new cookbook for her birthday, so I’m excited to look through it when we’re home for Thanksgiving and get some new recipes! I’m really looking forward to baking for the holidays. I’ve got several new recipes in mind, so I’ll be sure to share them here if they turn out well! Happy cooking!

Lately (5.27.13)

Hello out there! You may remember that last summer I did a blog series called Insta-Monday. I had a lot of fun doing it, but took a break from it for the school year. Well it’s summer again, and summer is for adventures, and adventures are for sharing. Brad and I have a lot of fun ahead of us this summer and we are looking forward to taking advantage of (probably our only) summer in Springfield. Therefore, I’m bringing back the blog series, but changing the name, since I don’t always use Instagram to edit my photos. So be looking for “Lately” every week (but probably on Monday)!


Brad had the morning off on Wednesday, so we ate at our favorite breakfast place in Springfield, Gailey’s. We’ve tried a lot of breakfast places in Springfield, and Gailey’s has been the best! You should check it out if you live in the area.




Brad and I checked an item off of our Springfield Bucket List on Friday! We attended our first Springfield Cardinals game. I’m a Royals fan at heart, but love going to any baseball game. Unfortunately, they didn’t win, but it was still a fun time.


This is Minnie. She’s my neighbor’s dog and she loves me and I love her.



Brad and I took a break from shopping on Saturday and hit up Elle’s Patisserie for some delicious ice cream. It’s so cute! If you live in Springfield, you should definitely check it out!


I’m really excited about this book! I read about the research done with HeLa cells all the time and I’m really looking forward to learning the story of the woman they came from! I just finished Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World, so I guess I’m on a bit of a science-kick when it comes to leisurely reading.


We have season tickets to Silver Dollar City this year. Sunday was a beautiful day, so we headed down to Branson after church. We rode the new ride, Outlaw Run, and I loved it! I think Wildfire remains my favorite, but it was still really great.


And of course we had to finish our day with the best part about SDC, a funnel cake and a cheap drink with a really old SDC cup.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day! We are spending it the best way to spend Memorial Day, at a cookout with friends :) See you next week!

Pinterest Recipe Triumphs

My cooking skills have really improved since I got married in July. I’m no chef, but I have added a lot of recipes to the list of things I can make with confidence!

My mom taught me to cook quite a few meals when I was in middle school and I mastered several crock pot concoctions in college. Every week I cook something I know, and I experiment with something new. Pinterest has been my main source for new recipes.

I don’t know if this has been your experience, but not all Pinterest recipes are as great as they look! There are thousands of recipes on Pinterest, but I some times have a hard time finding realistic recipes. I’m a very low-maintenance cook. I like recipes to include few ingredients (it gets too expensive!), nothing weird (I’m sorry but I’m just not interested in quinoa), and a short prep (I’m hungry now!!) and cook time (unless its in the crock pot). Since I’m pretty picky when it comes to cooking, I thought I’d share some of my favorite recipes that I found on Pinterest!! Enjoy! (You can click on the pictures to get to the websites!)


This is actually just a screen shot and not a link. Don’t you hate it when pins don’t lead you to an actual website? BUT you don’t really need a website because the caption says it all! I’ve made this shrimp twice already. It’s delicious, easy to make, and doesn’t take much time to prepare or bake!


I’ve actually been making these for years and was excited to see the recipe on Pinterest! I love these peanut butter cookies because I always have all of the ingredients on hand, so I can make them if I need a last minute dessert. The only ingredients are peanut butter, one egg, vanilla extract, and sugar!


These really do taste like Red Lobster biscuits! They were easier to make than I expected and made a great addition to our meal.


You need to make this pie, like, now. It’s seriously so easy and delicious. Only five ingredients and 2 of them I always have on hand. It’s easily one of my favorite desserts!

meat potato vegetable

I saved the best for last. I’m not the best at making a meat, potato, vegetable meal, but this one is really great because it’s all in one dish. Unfortunately, it takes an hour to bake, so it’s not the best meal if I am getting home late. (My mom used asparagus instead of green beans and it was just as good!)

Happy cooking! If you try any of these, let me know how it turns out!

Six Month Anniversary Date Day

Our six month anniversary is on Tuesday, so we decided to celebrate on Saturday. We began our day by checking out another breakfast place (Village Inn) (we recommend it) (it’s like a nicer Denny’s), then did some shopping. We decided to enjoy the nice weather at one of our favorite parks (Phelps Grove Park), then ate at the best Italian place in town (Nonna’s). We planned to see a movie, but there wasn’t anything we wanted to see that was playing at a convenient time, so we headed back home for a relaxing night of crocheting and watching Psych. A Saturday well spent.










Askinosie Chocolate Factory Tour

You’re in luck because we are back with a joint post. This is Katelyn.

…and this is Brad! Happy to be back on the blog!

We’re here to tell you about our Saturday. We began with a chilly morning run. We’re on Day 10 of our Mile A Day Challenge.


I mean, you may be on day 10, but I’m definitely on day 13 or 14!

Uhh have you forgotten Wednesday? I believe a certain someone already skipped in the first week.

Ok, ok, maybe I skipped one day… but that was only because I was CLEANING the kitchen for you! …and the Best Husband Award goes to…

You, of course. OKAY. Onto the rest of our day.

After grabbing Panera with Brad’s dad, we headed down the street to Askinosie Chocolate.

I’ve always had a secret desire to be one of those kids on “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. You know, the ones that are chosen to go on the magnificent tour, tempted with an offer from a scary stranger to divulge the secret chocolate formula, and then choose the path of light and inherit a chocolate fortune. Unfortunately, this is as close as I think I’ll get, but that’s okay!

Okaaaaaaaaayyyyyy…… Why don’t you tell the people a little bit about the company?


Askinosie Chocolate is owned and operated by Shawn Askinosie, a Springfield local. Shawn is an attorney-turned-chocolatier, and he has a pretty interesting story. After 20 years in the criminal defense business, he decided that he needed to start doing something that he was more passionate about. So he started grilling…then baking…then chocolate making!


Shawn himself gave us a tour. It was really cool to see his passion for his business. He travels all over the world making relationships with and building the trust of cocoa bean farmers in order to participate in fair-trade business. He pays them cash for their beans, then returns to share the profits with them at the end of the season.


Throughout the tour, Shawn and his employees walked us through each part of the bean roasting process. Each step of the way, he let us taste different parts of the bean. The picture above is of a piece of the bean residue known as “nibs”. Nasty little buggers, but these little bits of bean have tons of antioxidants and healthiness per tiny bite.


They specialize in dark chocolate, but also colla-bar-ate with other companies to make special items like dark chocolate licorice. Each variety was delicious, but my favorite was the white chocolate. They also sell hot chocolate mix and cocoa powder.



They not only bring in cocoa beans from all over the world, but they also ship their finished product from San Francisco to New York to Sweden and beyond.



They have even started selling a hazelnut spread (um… Nutella anyone?) made with hazelnuts from Washington. Trust me, it’s amazing.

…and crazy expensive.


Yes… Askinosie is pretty great, but their prices are a little steep for these newlyweds.

The reason being that Askinosie is a for-profit business. They take the profit and reinvest it not only into the community of Springfield, but each year they take part in a profit-sharing program with their farmers across the world. It’s one thing to provide help for these farmers, but it’s another to walk up to them, cash in hand, and pay them for their hard work.

Not only do the profits from Askinosie go to farmers in the Philipines, Tanzania, Ecuador, and Venezuela, Shawn Askinosie also has a heart of the community of Springfield. He has created several programs that benefit the local elementary schools in the area.


They’ve garnered quite the praise and accolades for their short, chocolate-covered career. Even Oprah has ranked Shawn and his gang as one of the top ten men who are changing the world!


In the end we decided to splurge on a white chocolate bar made from beans grown in the Philipines. I gave it an A+.

I gave it an infinity. As in, whatever is higher than an A. It’s that good.


The tour was a really cool opportunity to learn about the Askinosie business and how chocolate (one of my favorite foods) is made!

Next we decided to hit up one of the local flea markets where we found this treasure!


We have been searching for this very item since before we got married. One of my dearest passions is writing, (and Kate is becoming quite the writer herself), so I knew when we saw this typewriter for $15, we had to buy it. It’s still in great condition! Treasure!!

Then it was back to our humble home. My parents bought us this bookcase a couple of months ago. It’s huge, so it’s been difficult to find a way to get it down to Springfield. Brad’s dad was great enough to bring it this weekend, so we spent the next hour getting the stacks of books off our office floor and into their proper place in the bookcase!

So glad we finally got this set up!! Now we can reclaim our office, and actually get started… on, uh… reading these books…


All in all a good Saturday. We love the Christmas season!

Bits of November

I know it is only the tenth of November, but I thought I would share with you some of what’s been going on around here.

We recently bought a dresser. This makes me happy on so may levels. I now have a place to store my endless supply of shorts (How did I accumulate so many shorts???) and sweatpants (Never question how many pairs of sweatpants you have. You can never have enough.). Our bedroom feels a little less empty (Previous to the addition of the dresser, our bedroom housed a bed and two night-stands. Also a basket of stuffed animals). It gives me a place to decorate in our bedroom (I’ve actually added a picture on the wall since taking this picture).

I’m really glad we finally found one that we liked and was a good price. I think I’m going to replace the knobs, though. These are just too boring.


The chilly weather always gets me in the mood to do some baking. My mom used to make this all the time growing up. It’s kind of like a cobbler, but a very simple version. There are three ingredients: canned cherry (or any fruit you want, I like strawberry as well) topping (it’s by the pie crusts), yellow cake mix (I get the cheap Jiffy box), and a half a stick of melted butter (or margarine). Pour the cherry filling into the pan, pour the cake mix over the cherries, pour melted butter over the top. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. I recommend eating it warm with vanilla ice cream, but it is good cold too.

This is the first time I’ve used my Swedish pan I received as a wedding present from my dear aunts Sandy and Carol. I need to remember to use it more often! Isn’t it the cutest??


Yeah. This happened. Also the back right break light was out at the time. But no worries, but hubby fixed it all up!


There he is! I love our Starbucks dates. We have become regulars at this Starbucks and the main barista even knows our names. Life complete.


Lately our nights at home have consisted of The Voice, coffee, and studying (on my part). I also recently began writing the paper I will (hopefully) publish in about a year. And so we have the reason for this post: procrastinating. I should be editing the introduction right now! Alas, it is Saturday morning, which means it’s blogging time, not time for sifting through endless publications about Tor2 signaling in yeast. Okay I’ll stop there. I can see you falling asleep already.


It’s a beautiful day in the Ozarks! Get out there and enjoy it!

Saturday Morning Pancakes

Last Saturday, Brad and I celebrated our first free weekend in a while by visiting Aunt Martha’s Pancake House. (We also had pancakes this morning. I think we have a pancake problem.) We were excited to check it off of our Springfield Bucket List!


It was a lovely fall morning to go thrifting, so we fueled up with a great brunch. Brad had the typical eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, and pancakes, while I had whole-wheat honey pancakes.


The food was great and the staff was adorable. When a place is run by old ladies you know its going to be good.


We will definitely be returning to Aunt Martha’s, but it made me miss Brenda’s in Bolivar. Nothing beats those pancakes!


We’ve slowly been decorating our place. This is my new favorite addition to our living room. I snagged this little bird from the Christmas section of Hobby Lobby, but it will definitely be sitting out all year.


Happy November!

Coffee Adventures (Pt. 1)

Remember our coffee challenge? We’re going to visit all the coffee shops in Springfield! Here is part 1 of our journey.

First stop, The Hub.


We’d heard about The Hub and it’s pretty close to our place, so we thought we’d check it out. It’s small, but has a really neat atmosphere. It’s in an old brick building and there are bicycles hanging from the ceiling.



The Hub is a coffee shop and a bicycle shop in one. Springfield is all about riding bikes. We see people riding their bikes here all the time. I’d really like to get one, and The Hub seems like a great place to find a really unique bike.



I got a frappuccino and Brad got a mocha. I actually wasn’t a big fan of mine or Brad’s, so Brad pretty much drank both of them. I’m a lot more picky when it comes to coffee than Brad is.


Loved this.


We went to The Hub when it was actually still pretty warm outside in the evenings, so we decided to take our drinks outside and enjoy the nice weather.

Overall, we liked The Hub for its atmosphere and location, but not so much for the coffee. I’m glad we tried it, and maybe we’ll be back for bikes!


Our next coffee stop was Big Momma’s Coffee and Expresso Bar.


This coffee shop is also close to where we live. We had passed it several times and decided to check out the website. When we saw that they had an open mic night, we knew we had to go.


I got a mint mocha. I liked it, but I was hoping for more mint.


Of course I brought my mini-Uno cards!

20121021-121557.jpgBig Momma’s was quite an experience. Funny. Awkward. Weird. Inappropriate. To hear about it check out Brad’s post about it!