Dinner Planning 101

I have found that a sure-fire way to get fat and be broke is to not plan weekly dinners (and lunch if you work in an office or home setting). I’m a teacher, so I don’t have a choice but to pack breakfast and lunch (which is typically leftovers). However, on weeks when I don’t plan and shop for set dinner meals, we end up eating out like 3 of the 7 nights, and eating random junk another 3 of the 4 nights left. Ouch on the abs and the wallet. My pretty fail-proof method is:

1. Pin realistic dinners on Pinterest.
I have a whole board dedicated to dinners, and I have another board called “Meals that Worked.” When one of those Pinterest recipes turns out successful, I move it there. One easy mistake to make is to pin gourmet chef meals that require a lot of time and strange or uncommon ingredients. Chances are, you’ll never actually make it.

2. Each Saturday (or whatever day you pick), access your Pins or your brain for a week’s worth of recipes.
Pick 7 and simply write them down or keep mental note. If you know there’s going to be a few days where you have to eat on the go, then just pick 5 or 6. I always shoot to eat in at least 5 days a week. On the weekends, we treat ourselves.

3. From those meals, make a grocery list.
Check out the Pinterest recipes, or the ones you’ve memorized, and make a grocery list for the meals. I usually make my list on Saturday and shop on Sunday (a.k.a. Sunday paper coupon day). I prefer a paper list over an app.

4. Look at your weekly schedule and place meals on certain days.
Something else to consider is how ling each meal takes to prep and cook. I save quick meals for hectic nights or days I have faculty meetings. This is where crockpot meals come into play, too!

To do step #4, I use the app MealSchedule. I searched through a billion apps that wanted me to enter in full recipes before I could drag and drop them to the weekly menu. This 0.99¢ app lets me JUST plan meals, nothing more, and that’s all I needed. My favorite part is that you can move meals (or just parts of a meal) to other days in an instant. Plans never work 100% when you have a 1-year-old, a demanding job, and a night-shifter husband. This app isn’t a mega popular one, so it’s a little primitive looking, but it functions perfectly! See my screen shot of this week’s meals below. (We are moving Thu/Fri, hence the takeout meals).



I Suck at Eating Healthy

Once again, I have taken two steps backward. Lost 5 pounds in two weeks, gained 5 pounds in the next two. I can work out all I want, but my problem: FOOD.

I am a foodie, but in the gourmet comfort food way. I like family-owned donut shop donuts, and bacon, and sweet tea, and fried chicken, and…and…JUNK. Ugh, and don’t get me started on baked goods. Mug brownies are my current weakness. It is so stinking hard to eat healthy when I love food that much. And honestly, I love a six-pack and smaller jeans more. But my will power blows. Like when my husband bakes me a heart-shaped cake, I eat it. When my aunt mentions Bo Berry Biscuits from Bo Jangles this evening, I will crave them until I eat them tomorrow for breakfast. Whhyyy?!?IMG_2112-0.JPG

I just want to proclaim that my will power sucks when it comes to comfort food. And I know it is the one and only reason I don’t make progress.

Do they have AA for comfort food lovers? Please sign me up.


Short Hair Steals the Top Spot

If you haven’t noticed lately (a.k.a. if you live under a rock), celebs are starting to move away from the typical long wavy hairstyle to edgy, textured, short styles. Regardless of who started it (Miley?), it’s on now!

Check out these transformations and get hair inspiration to go for it and chop it off!


Jennifer Lawrence is pretty much a style icon these days. Even other celebs (see below) are stealing this style.


Kaley Cuoco Sweeting (who has since gone even shorter–a haircut just like Jennifer’s) no longer looks like the typical dumb blonde (but still plays one).

           pamela anderson

Even Pam Anderson caught on! She doesn’t look like a porn star anymore, and that’s always a plus.

If Beyonce does it, it must be in. She went from an asymmetrical bob to a pixie. I personally love the bob.


Whitney Port is known for her long, beachy waves, but I’m loving her new lob!


I think she could pull off a bald head, but her textured bob was the inspo for my recent chop!


Probably my favorite transformation. There is nothing like a full head of natural curls (been there), but this look is amazing on her! Now I just want to see her rock the natural curl afro! That would be…interesting.


It takes some guts to be the only Victoria Secret model without butt-length wavy hair, but Karlie Kloss pulls it off like no other. Dare I say that the hair even conveys more sexiness than her long locks? (And I think Taylor Swift may have used her as inspo for her own short cut).

So, it’s pretty clear that if you’re contemplating cutting off your hair, you should do it. It’s all the rage. Fads aside, short hair has become the new sexy, wavy, long hair look. To me, short hair says, “I am playful and like to have fun, but when it’s time, I get down to business and you better not mess with me.” Sounds like the perfect balance to me.

      short hair long hair

My own transformation! Granted my hair was half wet in the before picture, but I’m loving my short hair! I feel much more carefree, fun, and edgy!

My Case Against Sulfates

The sulfate-free toiletry trend is picking up, but it’s still pretty hard to find these products in mainstream stores. Here’s an overview, product list, before and after, and various reviews.


I refuse to get all chemist here, so basically a sulfate is soap. It’s the chemical in shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap bars, and face wash that give you that squeaky clean feel. But…you wanna know why you feel squeaky clean? Because sulfate strips your skin and hair of its natural oils–you know, the ones you’re supposed to have. This leaves you with super dry skin and hair. For hair, this means no shine, dead ends, and frizz. And if you have curls, it’s worse. For skin, this means dry, uneven skin. If you have conditions like eczema, they get worse. AND…when you strip your body of its natural oils, it actually overproduces oil to replace what was lost. This means your hair/skin stays dry and “clean” for a minute, then it becomes oily as mess. Note: When you switch to sulfate-free, you may feel like your hair is still dirty because it didn’t get soapy, and it may even be more oily than normal until your hair balances out again. People, it’s pretty clear. America’s obsession with bubbles and sudsy soap (from sulfates) is horrible for us!

Before & After

Routine 1: Garnier Nuctris Triple Nutrition Shampoo and Conditioner + Garnier Nuctris Sleek and Shine Leave-In Conditioner

Routine 2: Shea Moisture Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner (for Curly Thick Hair) + Garnier Leave-In

*TIP: I don’t use this conditioner on my roots–but maybe once a week. It’s so moisturizing that it makes them oily if I apply it to the roots too often.*



The difference there is clear, and that’s after ONE use of the sulfate-free. I used to use sulfate-free (one of the products below) when we lived in Hawaii, then I switched back after I felt like it wasn’t doing much for my hair. So, I’ve been using sulfate-ified products for over a year–until today when I washed with Shea Moisture. If this is after one use, I can imagine my hair will look even healthier, less frizzy, and curlier after many uses. My hair looks more “flat” and less thick in the after photo, but it’s in a good way. It’s controlled versus all over the place.

Sulfate-Free Products & Reviews The following products are easy to find at large stores like Target and Walmart and popular drug stores. Some of them I’ve used and reviewed below. These are the basics. You can search organic stores and salons for much more! Prices are Target prices.

1. Shea Moisture Shampoos and Conditioners ($9.79 and $11.99)

(I used their Curl and Shine ones, but they also have ones for Moisture, Repair, etc.)

Review: This is the exact product I used in the photos above. It’s actually a top product for African American women who rock their natural curls, but it’s meant for all hair types. The curl kind smells amazing. It’s coconut and hibiscus bliss, a la my beloved Hawaii. The best part is that the fragrance is all natural–no artificial perfumes. In fact, many of the ingredients are certified organic, and there are zero artificial chemicals in it. The shampoo does suds up like a regular shampoo, but not as much. Unlike some sulfate-free hair products, this stuff still leaves my hair feeling silky soft after rinsing the conditioner.

2. Aveeno Shampoos and Conditioners ($5.99)

(I used the Pure Renewal line pictured below)

Review: This was my first ever try at sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner. I used up the bottles, but didn’t go back after that. It smells weird. This stuff didn’t suds at all, like most sulfate-free shampoos. However, it left my hair feeling dirty. It also left my hair feeling much like straw, and when I was living in Hawaii and doused in saltwater every day, I did not need help with that! Another issue I have with this stuff: It may be sulfate-free, but it has every other chemical under the sun in it. I can read maybe one of the thirty ingredients on the list. There’s no point in going sulfate-free if you’re going to use a million other chemicals.

3. Organix Shampoos and Conditioners ($7.99)

(I used the Tea Tree Mint kind pictured below)

Review: I used this stuff before I even used Aveeno, but it was before I knew anything about sulfates. This stuff gets basically the same review as Aveeno. No suds. Maybe not quite as dirty feeling as Aveeno. Still that same awful straw-hair feeling. This stuff smells lovely though. I think that’s the only reason I used it! By the way, this stuff might be called Organix, but it is not organic. In addition, the line that claims to be sulfate-free has many hair products that have sulfates in it, including the sea salt spray I have. Much like the Aveeno stuff, they also contain a billion other chemicals–even if no sulfates.

4. L’Oreal Paris Ever___ Shampoos and Conditioners ($5.89)

Review: I used this once, and it is the second best sulfate-free brand next to SheaMoisture. It still feels nourishing and silky, unlike the two before it. Again, not organic or all-natural like SheaMoisture, but if you’re looking to go sulfate-free and don’t want to splurge, this is a great option!

5. Carol’s Daughter Sacred Tiare Shampoo and Conditioner ($12.99)

Never used this. Has lots of yummy fruit and herbal oils and extracts, but also lots of chemical names I can’t pronounce. Much of the line is for African-American hair, but they market their products to all hair types.

6. Burt’s Bees Shampoos and Conditioners ($7.99)

Haven’t used this one either, but nothing Burt’s Bees makes has ever disappointed me!