Advocare 24 Day Challenge – Meal Prep

After hearing such amazing things for awhile now, I’ve finally decided to take the Advocare 24 Day Challenge and I am extremely excited to see the changes at the end of the challenge!

I decided that for me the best way to stick with it is to go ahead and prep my meals out on a Sunday and start the challenge on a Monday (which will be tomorrow).  Today I went ahead and shopped and cooked for several hours which will save me a lot of time throughout the week.  Since cooking for one is nearly impossible, this makes things a little easier.  I don’t particularly mind eating the same thing for a few days, although some people may have issues with that.

I didn’t use recipes – as I typically just make things up with what I have on hand.  I also went quite simple since there are several things that had to be cut out (dairy, most carbs, etc.).

The next first three days are completely prepared!  It’s nice to know that when I wake up lunch is already made for me to take to work and when I get home all I have to do is heat up my dinner!

First I prepared all of my dinner meals:

  • Roasted Ruby Sensation Potatoes


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop a small bag (24 oz.) of Ruby Sensation one-bite potatoes (or substitute your favorite kind). Toss the potatoes in a few tablespoons of flavored olive oil. I used “Lizzie’s Kitchen Garlic Rosemary Oil” which is amazing, but again, substitute your favorite kind! I then added a small amount of salt, pepper, and parsley. 

Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the potatoes evenly. Cook for 45 minute to an hour depending on how you want them! I portioned this into 6 – 4 oz. servings.

While that was cooking…

  • Sautéed Zucchini and Squash

Slice up a small zucchini and yellow squash into thin round slices. Add a small bit of olive oil to a pan along with a little salt and pepper. Cook for 5-10 minutes.

  • Bison Patties

I absolutely love bison and prefer it over other red meat. My favorite game is by far elk but for some reason I can’t find that here in Atlanta, haha! 

Take 16 oz. Organic ground Bison (most stores actually carry this, you probably just overlook it) and portion it into 4 – 4 oz. patties. In the spirit of doing as little dishes as possible, I used the leftover oils from the zucchini and threw them directly in there. I added some pepper and a drop of A-1 for just a little flavor. Bison has a great taste so I don’t like to season it much.

Now that all my dinner items were prepped, each were put in individual containers so that all I need to do is beat them up! I made everything for this in an hour.

Next I made the chicken for my lunch salads:

  • Greek Baked Chicken

I found this amazing dry seasoning today that I cooked my chicken with. Since my salads will only have a basic red-wine vinegar dressing, I wanted the chicken to have some flavor. I took a big Organic chicken breast and pounded it out some (couldn’t find my meat pounder but a hammer worked just fine) then sprinkled “Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning” on it. Cook for 20 minutes at 450. This portioned out into 3 – 4 oz. servings.

That is all the cooking I had to do for lunch meals.

For the salad I just divided a large 5 oz. container of organic spinach into three Tupperware containers. I then sliced and bagged a cucumber and half of a green and red pepper. I like to keep these separate so that the spinach doesn’t wilt and just combine everything when it is time.

So that is that! I know that these aren’t complex recipes but they are good and will save me a ton of time! 

On Wednesday I will have to grab a few extra items to throw in with Thursday and Friday meals, but that shouldn’t take long!

The BEST part about this is that I’m estimating that it cost me between $6-8 a day to do this. That is even with buying everything organic!!! 

If you have done the challenge and have any tips or recipes, please share them in the comments! If you’d like to learn more, head over to this link! I look forward to sharing my results with you in 25 days!

The Not So Obvious: It’s not a called a “Doctor” stethoscope


I’m fiercely defensive of my family and friends…and all that they come with.  What I saw today really struck a nerve seeing as both my sister and mom (as well as other family members and friends) are nurses.

If you have not seen it, Miss Colorado 2016 decided to do an original monologue on a conversation between she and one of her Alzheimer’s patients.  She came out in scrubs and a stethoscope and told a really touching and genuine moment she had with this man who was struggling with his disease and prognosis.  This is something far from the glitzy baton routines or opera singing that we routinely see for the “Talent” portion of the competition.  It you have not seen it, I recommend watching it here.

What Miss Colorado did for her talent portion is a touching reminder to all of us of what nurses actually do.  They do not merely just give pills and check blood pressure.  They are a very important figure in, often, the most difficult and trying times of people’s lives.  This is something that should never be taken for granted.

Today on “The View,” the women found the time to completely mock and insult the profession while also poking fun of the nurses story.  See that here.

I do not know where these women, who simply sit around a table with some coffee and gossip each morning get off downgrading people who are selflessly changing and saving lives each day.  When was the last time one of them saved a life?

When I was really young, my mom decided to go to nursing school and I remember the day she graduated thinking how cool that was.  She decided to work the night shift for most of our childhood, which maximized the time she was able to spend with us after her 12+ hour shifts (since she could sleep while we were at school).  This is just one of her many sacrifices as a nurse.  Have you ever thought about how messed up your sleep schedule is when you work nights?  I cannot imagine it is anything like that of having a 9-5.  For most of her career, she worked in the ER.  This is one of the most demanding (physically, mentally, and emotionally) positions in nursing (in my opinion).

Let’s not even get into the insane amount of hours and the on-call time they have to do.  Getting the call at all hours of the day and night to come in and be ready.  I could go on forever and ever…

Her “doctor” stethoscope has saved many lives.  In fact, as I write this her and her “doctor” stethoscope have been working for over 14 hours.

Stop and think about things for just a second Joy.  It’s the nurses providing a majority of the care in a hospital.  Doctors are limited, and therefore, so is their time with each patient.

Most nurses also go above and beyond what they are hired to do. They are not only your caregiver. They are at times called to be your friend, your confidante, your support, your guide, your only friend and maybe even your spirit animal…and they are.

They respect and treat you as a human, not your ailment.

When I went to college I knew that I wanted to go into the medical profession.  Unfortunately life, big classes, and chemistry happened and so I found myself a new path.  My sister, however, did follow in my mother’s footsteps and is now working as a nurse.

I know how hard they both work and know that their job entails a lot more than some people give it credit for (like teaching).  To have complete and utter disregard for what they do is insulting and I hope the women of “The View” realize this and publicly apologize for their complete ignorance.

God bless their next nurse.

Travels – Vieques, Puerto Rico


In the past year since I have been traveling for work back and forth to New York each week, I have had the pleasure of going to some really incredible places on alternative weekend travel in leiu of returning home. I have a few great trips I’d like to share but to start I will talk about one of the most beautiful places I have ever been – Puerto Rico, and more specifically, the island of Vieques.

When I decided to go to Puerto Rico, it was pretty spur of the moment and only “planned” two weeks in advance. I’m not really sure how I even decided it would be a good weekend trip, as it is a four hour flight from New York City. Not only would this be my first flight across an ocean (yes, I know, late to the game) but I decided to go solo – pretty daunting when you think about going somewhere unknown (and to a secluded island) in a place that primarily speaks Spanish. Although I took 3 semesters of Spanish in college, it turns out I know nothing beside a few basic phrases – definitely not enough to keep me alive if I had gotten in a questionable situation.

I left for San Juan on a Thursday night after work. I was not going to arrive to the island around midnight and could not get a flight to the other island so I booked the Sheraton in Old San Juan. My good luck started with a First Class upgrade both ways. On the runway, I discovered my spirit animal (pictured below). This nameless man had me laughing before take-off.

SpriitAnimalflight view

The flight was pretty smooth and I got to see an amazing storm out at sea since we flew the entire time over the Atlantic.  And finally we landed in San Juan and it looked incredible all lit up.  After flying over pitch-black nothing for so long it was good to see some life.

San Juan

San Juan from the plane

I realized upon arriving at the hotel that everyone In Puerto Rico would come to assume I was a Latina and native Spanish speaker. Almost everyone I encountered on my trip would begin speaking to me in Spanish and only would switch to English after seeing my deer in the headlights look and realizing I was actually just a tan-dark-haired-English-speaking-American.


The patio off my room

I was pretty exhausted when I arrived to the hotel and was planning to go straight to bed. That all quickly changed when I got to my room.  I had booked a regular room and somehow I got the Presidential Suite (the luck hits again) for the night – I had a dining room, living room, patio and bedroom…with a really great patio with views of the Fort and port. As I started looking at what the hotel had given me, I noticed five $5 bet coupons. For this I needed to go to the casino downstairs and for every $5 I played in Blackjack they would add another $5. I was clearly tempted with a good time so I went downstairs and took $40 from the ATM machine.

I found the lowest bet BlackJack table with $5 bets. I’m more of a Craps girl but that was not an option. This Blackjack table was getting pretty exciting and I was eager to join in the fun. Most of the other players were Spanish speaking but the only other girl at the table spoke English and turned out to be quite the Blackjack guru! She was so sweet and taught me some tricks. I went up and down with my $40 for the next 2 hours but ended up leaving the table with exactly what I’d started with! I learned how to double down and also won quite a few $1 bets on getting dealt doubles (I have no idea what that bet was called but I had killer luck with it). I cashed out and headed to bed knowing that I had a really terrifying journey ahead of me in the morning.Friday was decidedly a vacation day when I threw together this trip knowing I would have to get to the other island. I got to the airport to start my journey to Vieques, which was ironically called Isla Grande. To call this an airport is a slight stretch but in their defense it’s just small planes that go in and out of here taking tourists to various Caribbean islands. Isla Grande is a far cry from Hartsfield, or the Binghamton airport for that matter – there is no security, essentially all they require is your weight in order to figure out seating to balance out the tiny aircraft (definitely no Delta plane).


The “plane”

Naturally, the thought of flying on this seemingly toy plane (a small 6 seater Cessna) revamped my newly discarded fear of flying…only for a second. Luckily, I had gone skydiving the previous week making this flight seem like a piece of cake. I’d jumped from 14k feet from a pretty sketchy plane and depended on a stranger to safely guide my body to the ground without becoming an unrecognizable splatter on the ground. It’s a good thing I quickly got over it because my pilot was unimpressed with everything. He was a very disgruntled man and could have cared less about making us feel comfortable, to each their own. Thankfully the couple I shared the plane with were so kind and quickly became my adopted translators. The couple was visiting from Miami. She, originally from Columbia was clearly gorgeous and he, from Uruguay, gave her a run for her money.
We took off from the airport and after a slightly choppy climb we steadied out around 5k feet. Due to the skydiving the week before I had quickly convinced myself that should anything happen on this a plane I could easily get myself into the ocean safely – because 5k feet sounded laughable after clearly mastering the art of free-falling and jumping from sketchy planes. The view was absolutely breathtaking as we flew along the coast of the big island to the East toward Vieques. Soon it became obvious that Puerto Rico is extremely mountainous and dense with forests (fun fact they hold the U.S.’s only tropical rainforest).


The entire plane crew

Views from the Cessna

Views from the Cessna



After a short (and slightly terrifying) 20-30 minute ride, we safely bounced to the runway in Vieques.  You basically get out and grab your bag and there you are, in paradise.  I had booked my stay at the W Vieques Retreat.  They actually have a lounge at the airport (which was even smaller than Isla Grande) where you grab a drink and wait for your escort to the resort.  I’m typically not a “W” type of girl anymore but the pictures I’d seen were breathtaking.  I’d set my standards a little low assuming they’d been photoshopped but boy was I in for a surprise.
The five minute ride to the retreat had me REALLY starting to wonder what I’d gotten myself into.  I was basically alone (well, still with my new South American friends) on an island off an island…When I finally got to the hotel, however, all my fears were at ease.  It was BEAUTIFUL and more than I could have ever imagined.

The master bath in the villa

The master bath in the villa

Luck was still fortunately on my side (let me please say, I am NOT a lucky person and this never happens, let alone for an entire trip) and I was given some extra awesome villa.  It was love at first sight.  The decorations were exactly my style and it was spacious with an amazing bathroom, by far my favorite part of the villa.

At this point, I’m torn.  Do I stay in this gorgeous villa or go outside…well, after enduring and surviving a NYC winter (fake blizzards and all), outside won.  I don’t think it took but a few seconds for me to be poolside lounging and contemplating how I could convince them to let me stay forever.  I knew that Vieques is home to the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world and really wanted to go the first night I was there.  Unfortunately time was not in my side, and I was not able to go.  I turned in early after a long day and promised to check the beach out in the morning after a fabulous dinner at their restaurant.

The morning began with mimosas and some fruit – because I feel like that is what you should always have for breakfast in a place like this.  Soon enough, I was off to check out the beach, which was basically my personal beach for the next two days.  It was incredible.  The sand was so clean and the water was the bluest-blue I’ve ever seen.


I wish I had more to tell you about my time in Vieques, but I simply can’t, because it was completely spent checked out with not a care in the world and only a few thoughts that I would allow to pass thru my mind.  I highly recommend anyone visit this hidden gem.  As I sulked unable to find a way to stay there “forever” I headed back the the Vieques airport the same way I came in.  The only good part was that I had a really nice Polish pilot and that he let me ride shotgun going home.  I prayed the entire time for his safety because Lord knows I was unable to land that plane safely….

Until we meet again, Vieques…


*all the photos in this post are exclusively the property of and should not be reposted or reused without permission*

Green Ways to Keep your Kitchen Germ Free [by: Gina Carlson]

The kitchen is one of the most germ-filled places in your home, and the chemicals in most cleaners can be just as concerning. In the last few years, green cleaners have hit the market, helping to leave your home a little less chemical-filled, but your wallet a little lighter. There are plenty of common sense approaches to lessening the amount of germs in your kitchen, but there are four natural, versatile cleaners that will help keep your kitchen germ free, without having a dramatic effect on your budget.

via Modernize

via Modernize

Vinegar is one of the most common green cleaning agents, and is the most beneficial in disinfectant properties. Being quite acidic, will cut grease and dissolve most mineral deposits. This makes it great to clean your Keurig machine or teapot – use a 50/50 mix, and be sure to rinse thoroughly! In addition, if your microwave needs attention, fill a microwave-safe cup with a 4:1 ratio of vinegar to water, and nuke to boiling. When complete, wipe the inside of the microwave down with a cloth, and your splatters will be gone! Keep an additional spray bottle filled with vinegar for a bunch of extra uses – mixing with baking soda to clean grout, scrub baked on stains, and more!

Not only will salt season a cast iron pan, but mix it with ice and you’ll be able to clean your kitchen with some amazing results! Create a paste from baking soda, dish soap, and water and use it to scrub the stove or your countertop. Some other popular uses are to clean your garbage disposal and removing stains from coffee pots. Combining salt and ice in your garbage disposal, run some cool water and the disposal until clear – you’ll remove the gunk from the blades and clean out the drain. The salt and ice combo will also remove stains from a coffee pot – mix them both in the carafe, swirl, rinse, and boom! Crystal clear!

Lemon and Lime
Lemon is one of those smells known for freshness – so it’s not a surprise that it will help with a lot of cleaning tasks. The acidity of lemon and lime juice will cut through grease and some bacteria, adding a cleaning element to the citrus scent. Add some rind to your garbage disposal for a fresh smell and to help clear up any hidden smells. Remove rust by covering the rust stain with salt, squeeze the juice of a lime over the salt, and leave to sit for a few hours. When done, scrub off the residue, and the rust is history! If that wasn’t enough, cut a lemon in half, rub on the water spots on your faucet – and you can remove the water spots and soap scum – naturally!

via Modernize

via Modernize

Hydrogen Peroxide
Peroxide is a natural cleaner. The 3% solution will clean nearly any surface with the disinfecting properties, natural chemical reactions, and a bit of time. Wipe down for a quick clean, or let sit for a deeper disinfect – trash cans, sink brushes, shelves in the fridge, and even cutting boards (but be sure the cutting boards are washed thoroughly with soapy water, first!). Along with all of those surfaces, peroxide will remove stains from countertops, and can also kill mold. An all-around healthy cleaner, use it frequently, and keep your kitchen sparkling!

While some scents (hello vinegar!) are a little harsher on the nose, you can add lemon juice or other essential oils like lavender and clove to change the scents and still have the germ busting power you desire. Happy cleaning!

For more tips and tricks, head to

Gina Carlson lives in Minnesota with her husband and four crazy pets, and is a DIY home improvement addict.

Our guest author, Gina Carlson, lives in Minnesota with her husband and four crazy pets and is a DIY home improvement addict.

Good Reads: American Sniper


After all the hype with the movie “American Sniper” as well as the trial of Eddie Ray Routh for the senseless murder of Chris Kyle, I knew that seeing the movie would not suffice – I had to read the book [first at least].  I’m always a big fan of reading the book before seeing a movie based on a book, so that’s what I did.

I had done a lot of research on Chris Kyle before reading – his achievements, marriage, and his murder.  It was nice to read his perspective on all of this [obviously besides the murder].

People seem to have an opinion on Kyle, either good or bad.  He is often referred to either as a coward or a hero, with little in between.  I can easily say that he is a hero and an extremely selfless man that did whatever he could to protect the other soldiers in Iraq.

Kyle highlights so much in this book, his childhood, his lead-up to deciding to go into the military, the SEAL training and deployments.  He and his wife also write about their personal life, the good and the bad.  It’s easy to get a good picture of what was going on.
The book is well written.  Kyle did not ever have an intention of writing this book.  He was typically quiet about his accomplishments and was not one to boast or be recognized.  Word got out that other people were going to write a story about him so he decided to do it himself – just to make sure the real story was the one that got out.  I find that quite admirable.

The book also isn’t sugar coated.  You can tell his demeanor from the way he writes.  He is cocky [probably for good reason], a true fighter, and quite emotionally removed.  All of this is probably to be expected.

I think the greatest part of this is that you get a true picture of what the war was [is] like.  I learned so much that I had no clue about.  It’s also wonderful that although it’s not exactly the happiest book, it really isn’t too gory or “manly” – sure there is gun talk but you don’t have to be a military expert to read it.

There is no questioning how selfless Kyle was.  In the end, he died trying to help a fellow soldier that was battling PTSD.  It still is crazy to be that he survived so many insurgent attacks only to be killed on American soil by a cowardly man he was trying to help.

If you’ve seen the movie or are considering, I highly recommend that you read the book.  It is one of the best I’ve read in awhile and is a true story of an American hero.