Thursday, March 1, 2018

Hacking My Way Through Two Meals a Day With Protein Shakes

They say work smarter, not harder. If that were a t-shirt, I'd probably wear it everyday. Working smarter is the way I do everything in my life, constantly looking for hacks to save time, money, energy, and, quite frankly, keep me from loosing my shit!

Anyone who knows me or follows me on Instagram knows one way I do this is by participating in an intensive meal-planning regimen. Ok, intensive in the fact that I strictly follow a calendar for the days I cook, what I cook, what's in season, when to order groceries, how much to spend and how many carbs are in each meal. But laughably, there's a non-intensive part that includes a magnum of champagne, a ridiculous apron that says "Edgar Allen PoeBoy" and dancing around the kitchen with my sister, beating eggs to the sounds of Nelly.

My family says I cram more into my life than any person they know. Though flattered, I'm sure that's not accurate, but I appreciate that I make a few people dizzy. Simply put, there's one way to accomplish more with less: the hack. There's a hack for everything. A quick search on Pinterest will show you, you can hack housecleaning, social media, recipes, kid's birthday parties, beauty routines...there is literally a hack for everything.

So, given the hack master I am, and the ever-glorious side effects of middle-aging, I was prompted to find a hack for the first two meals of the day (because, as stated previously, I already hack dinner with meal planning).

I hate breakfast. Eggs make me squirm, I don't eat grain, lactose bothers my stomach and bacon is too messy. So, my normal routine used to mean a Kind bar and cup of coffee with flakes of chocolate falling down my shirt while eating on my way to drop off the kids at school. Lunch is not much better. It's a unproductive adventure to find something low carb, satisfying and quick so I can get back to work before my next meeting. The fact that my diet is inconsistent has wrecked havoc on my weight. But then my sis came up with a meal hack: let's do protein smoothies!

 Ok, things I love about the idea of shakes for breakfast and lunch:

  1. Cheap. A tub of protein powder $30. I split that with my sister and we use about 1 tub every two weeks. Add the fresh ingredients (which I also split with my sis) and the Almond/Coconut Milk and it's only about $10/week more.
  2. Quick. We premake our smoothies by combining the powder, fruit, yogurt and mix-ins in giant mason jars every Sunday. Then, in the morning and afternoon, I simply add ice, one cup of Almond or Coconut Milk and the contents of the mason jar to the blender, blend for a minute then dump it back into the mason jar for a portable, on the go breakfast or lunch.
  3. Variety. Because we pre-mix and measure the shake ingredients, we are able to come up with unique recipes and each one has a significantly different taste with absolutely no thinking required when I'm ready to mix one up.
  4. Weight Loss. Ok, would I do this if I didn't lose weight on it? Heck no, let's be real! I'd eat sliders, bacon, French bread every day of the week if weight wasn't an issue. But since I find breakfast and lunch pesky anyway, and since I get to eat normal at night, supplementing two meals with two shakes doesn't really bug me.

Five Things I've Learned About Protein Shakes:

If you decide to give this hack a try, let me make a few suggestions based on what I've learned (you know, because time is money and information is knowledge and it's not a hack if it takes too much time or investigation).
  1. Choose a protein powder wisely. They are not created equal! Our first go at it we used a Vegan knock-off powder and the cheap ingredients tore my stomach up in the most embarrassing way! Check the ingredients for any allergies or irritations you have and stick to ones that suit your current diet. I'm currently using the Vega Vegan powder and like it a lot, but every person is different!
  2. One or two scoops? The first week, we put two scoops in every shake. Turns out it was too much protein and we couldn't finish the shakes and ended up not losing weight. The second week we did one scoop but found some days we were too hungry. The consensus was to do one scoop in the morning and one to two scoops for lunch, depending on the other ingredients. For example, if a recipe calls for yogurt, nuts, peanut butter or something filling, one scoop is fine. But if the recipe is just milk, protein powder and say, cinnamin, two scoops is better.
  3. Pre-making is key. I've found that people stick to what's easy. So, by picking up all the ingredients on Sunday, then packing them into mason jars for a quick blend-and-go meal, I stick with the program because I don't have to think about it. Plus, I know I have everything I need and buying everything at one time reduces cost and ensures I use everything I bought. (Tip: we always hold off on adding the milk and ice until the day off, and stack the mason jar ingredients as follows: fruit & veggies, soft foods, dry foods, spices, protein powder)
  4. Supplement if you are super hungry. Some days, the shakes just don't cut it. I don't believe in starving myself, so if I'm having a hungry day, I eat 1-2 snacks under 100 calories. I personally like a cup of arugula with a dash of avocado oil and salt (the crunch and fat is very satisfying).
  5. Dinner is SO FREAKING GOOD! Nothing makes you appreciate solid food like holding out for it all day. I literally made a roast the other night and it tasted like a filet. Holding out for dinner, as it turns out, makes me truly savor and enjoy food for the first time in along time.

My Favorite Protein Shake Recipes

  • Orangcicle Shake: Vanilla powder, oranges, 1/4C plain greek yogurt, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Vanilla Mint Shake: Vanilla powder, fresh mint, mint extract, cocoa nibs, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Green Shake: Vanilla powder, 1C spinach, berries, 1C coconut or almond milk, ice
  • Pina Colada Shake: Vanilla powder, 1/2C pineapple, 1/4C fresh coconut, 1/4C plain greek yogurt, 1C coconut milk, ice
  • Chocolate Berry Shake: Chocolate powder, 1/2C berries, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Ibarra Chocolate Shake: Chocolate powder, 1t cinnamin, 1t cayanne, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Almond Joy Shake: Chocolate powder, 2T almonds, 2T coconut, 1C almond milk, ice
  • Frosty Shake: Vanilla powder, 2T unsweetened cocoa powder, 1t of agave nectar or natural sugar supplement, frozen banana, 1C almond milk, ice (also good with iced coffee in it!)
So, there you have it. A mommy hack for two meals a day. Gotta go, my Almond Joy shake is calling!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Donald Duck Truck: RV Remodel into a UO Tailgater

Fall is our favorite time of the year. We love crackle of dead leaves under our feet, we use the code word "PSL" when we head down to Starbucks for our annual Pumpkin Spice Latte, but most of all...we love NCAA football.

Our team, to no one's surprise, is the Oregon Ducks, and we spend many glorious fall afternoons tailgating at Autzen.

Many years ago, when I was just out of college, we spent our Saturdays tailgating in an old RV my brother bought for $500 and painted green and yellow.

We had so much fun playing beer pong, cornhole and meeting other Oregon Duck tailgaters, but many moves and two children later, we missed those carefree days.

So, right around the end of August, a simple text that said, "OK see what you can find" gave my husband and brother the green light to go RV hunting for a vintage RV we could restore into Version 2 of the Duck Truck.

The Original "Duck Truck"
We found a 1987 Southwind 34' RV sitting on some acreage outside of Portland shortly after. It was a bit over our original budget, but was a sound piece of metal, very clean, and most importantly--it smelled good. So, one long drive over the mountain and The Donal Duck Truck was a reality.

We spend the next month searching for fabric in the remnant piles of JoAnn's, reupholstering the seats, removing carpeting and spraying the entire inside white.

The Bedroom Before and After
RV Remodel Before and After
The Front Before and After
The whole RV was very clean but done in mauve furnishings with wood colored shelving. Made the entire space look very dark, drab and dated.

BEFORE: Sitting Area and Drivers Seat

BEFORE: Seating Area

The first thing to come out was the carpeting. After carpet was pulled and a good cleaning, we were ready to paint.
Once all the carpet and furniture was removed, we were able to paint it. Warning! My dad is a professional painter so we had access to a professional sprayer and all the right tools but this was a PAIN! We had to sand down all the surfaces, tape for nearly two days, and then put on two coats of Kilz (four gallons!) and four gallons of paint plus primer. Then it had to dry for nearly two weeks.

While the paint dried, we went searching for fabrics to do the curtains, couch, and valances. I scoured fabric stores for bargain fabric, most of which was between $1.35 and $5 a yard (for the vinyl runs).

Once the paint was dry, we cut and glued down a vinyl floor. The flooring was $15.71 a linear foot (12 feet wide). 

With the extra fabric, we recovered an old picture board. Everyone's favorite piece, however, is the battery-operated art deco light which was an impulse buy on clearance at Fred Meyer for $12.
After finishing the inside, everyone decided it was "too white and impersonal" so we fixed that by adding some pictures of ourselves at the Duck games to the cabinets. It was one of the most expensive parts of the decor, at $5.99/picture.

AFTER: The Bedroom. I found the comforters at Target for $25/piece (on clearance). The most expensive fabric was the Oregon Ducks printed fabric used to make curtains in the back.

AFTER: The dining area. To save money, we re-covered the dining table in diamond plate vinyl contact paper which I found online for $30/roll.

This green vinyl was a lucky find at only $5, but there was only two yards of it, so we had to use a green outdoor fabric on the back of the cushions and supplement the lack of fabric on the font with a green chevron outdoor fabric which we scotch-guarded. All and all though, it looks cool and is pretty stain-proof.
A simple fix to an ugly fridge? Cover it in stainless steel contact paper.

To save money and add something personal to the beds, we sewed pillowcases out of old Duck T-shirts.

Our one mistake was throwing out the old stained original mattresses and replacing them with standard twins, not knowing they were in fact extra long singles, not twins. So, we still have to build out the bed frames. Because the beds are wider than the originals, we had to replace the built in bedside table with a smaller one.

AFTER: The Kitchen. We didn't do much here, just covered the fridge and painted it white.

The kitchen

Pictures, pictures everywhere!

AFTER: The Backside.

AFTER: The left side. My husband sewed all the seat covers and upholstery. I think it looks amazing! We chose to do the couch in a brown fake leather, inspired by a football.

Still need to do the drivers seats which are currently just covered by UO seat covers. Notice the grey carpet in the front which we also replaced. Only $.50/yard at Lowes.

Check out the upholstery job on the chair!
I absolutely LOVE version 2 of the Duck Truck! Look for us at the games!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Old Tackle + New Bucket + Spring Flowers = Porch Display

Spring is here, and my husband was itching to put his green thumbs to work, so I was sifting through Pinterest when I saw a picture of two buckets of flowers on a pully system. I really do hope copying is a form of flattery, because I had a vintage tackle I bought a few years ago that I was dying to use for "just the right project", and I was convinced this was it.

Pully Spring Flower Display

To make this front porch bucket beauty, you'll need:

1. Two galvanized buckets (about $10/piece from The Home Depot)

2. About six feet of rope depending on how high you are hanging it

3. Some filler rock and potting soil

4. A vintage fishing tackle or pulley (I found this tackle for about $30 at an antique mall)

5. Flowers (I would use flowers, filler, and a grass or moss)

6. Large eyebolt

The assembly is easy!

Just drill holes in the buckets, layer with rocks, and fill with dirt and flowers. Hang the vintage tackle or pulley with a u-bolt, fish the rope through, then have a big, muscle bound husband hold the buckets in place while you tie fancy knots.

You'll be surprised to find that the buckets stay in place because of the rope friction and the weight of the buckets, but if they don't hang to your liking, play with the weight using more or less rock.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Creating a Home Office Space (Part 2)

My New Home Office Space

If you've been following my blog for a while, you may have remembered a post about Creating a Home Office. It was my first post, because I launched this blog the same time that I launched my business, Socialeyes 24.7 Social Media Consulting.

Version 1 of my Home Office circa 2011

Well, a lot has changed since I started Socialeyes Consulting. My business has quadrupled, I had another child, and I have become a much better not-so-newly domestic! But what hasn't changed, is my home.

Last week, I came home to my crazy daughter and went to login to my computer and found this:

The aftermath of the iMac and the Sharpie

Yup, Sharpie. So...that, combined with a growing business, growing file cabinet, and ever-more curious daughter, led me to search out my home for new home office space.  The solution? An un-used walk-in closet in our guest room (formally my sister's room and second master).

The space was rather perfect. It's a 10' x 5.5' space, rarely used, in a quiet area of the house, and best of all--it has a door! So here's the before (when we were using it to store the kids toys) and after.

BEFORE - storage closet;          AFTER - home office

First, we took out the shelving.
Closet minus the shelves: A blank space to work with.

Then, because there is no power in the closet, we drilled through the wall to the other room's outlet and inserted conduit to run the power through.

No outlet? No problem! We ran a cord to an outlet on the other side of the wall.

Time for the fun stuff: paint, desk, and office trinkets! I tried to find colorful and inspiring pieces for everything from paper clips to notebooks. I also tried place items that spark my creativity and house knowledge, like a a colorful magnetic calendar, a globe, a pin-sculpture that makes impression art.

An open-concept desk from World Market plus a plant, some storage boxes, and creative, personal items.

I love fun storage solutions. These are pieces I found for less than $10 at Ikea.

After staging the office, I realized there was still not enough storage for files, media, and supplies. I found this amazing piece at World Market, but the $329 price tag was a little rich for my social media salary, so my husband took $20 and built me some shelves reminiscent of World Market Bookshelves instead. I think it turned out amazing!

$329 World Market Shelves vs. $20 Handmade Shelves

Finally...the room needed something more. The grey paint, though neutral, made it fill institutional and dingy. So, I took an old $10 mirror, had my husband make a frame and shelf for it, then painted it yellow. But it still didn't work with the space.

Too yellow! I often make mistakes when visualizing a room, and this was one of them. But...

Inspired by a craft box I picked out for the space, I decided to mute the yellow by placing a lighter coat ontop, then sanding it down for an aged look, and then my husband created some art on the corners to draw in the entire space. It's just what I needed: a splash of color and creativity!

A small detail goes a long way!
My space is a perfect reflection of me and my business now: colorful yet safe, sophisticated yet creative, and more than meets the social-eye!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

4 Homemade Weight Watcher Dinners in 2 Hours and $47

When school started up in September, my sister and I were brainstorming ways that we could save on time during the week, and we came up with the idea to meal swap one meal a week with each other. It was brilliant because we got homemade meals that were Weight Watcher friendly, it wasn't much more work to cook for an additional 2-3 people, and we got to take one night off cooking every week.

So I thought we were brilliant, but then we become beyond brilliant! After weeks of difficulties finding time to swap meals, buying the wrong things in bulk, and then having to write down the instructions so the other person knew how to cook the meal, we came up with a better idea: pick one day a week to go grocery shopping together, buy double the menu for the week, and cook a week's worth of WW meals together!

So our experiment went something like this: we were able to cook FOUR homemade dinners that are less than EIGHT Weight Watcher Points-Plus each, in TWO hours for $47 (so, $94 total for me and my sister, split in half...and includes the disposable pans)!  Granted, it took some time on my part to plan, make out the list, calculate the points, and buy everything at the grocery store, but thanks to me, you can do it in about half the time, because I've already sorted through the recipes for you! 

So, here's how our Four Dinners for Under $50 Experiment went...

Day One:


Japanese-Rubbed Roasted Chicken with Bok Choy and Carrots

Looks good, right?  Well, it wasn't very good and it was a lot of steps, so scrap this recipe and trade it for this recipe:

Honey-Roasted Chicken

Effort Meter (1 to 5): 2

Delicious Meter (1 to 5): 4

Weight Watcher Points: About 6 points for 4oz with substitution (Sub the 3/4C Honey for 1/4C)


1 whole raw chicken
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 TSP salt
1/2 TSP pepper
1 TBSP garlic salt
2 TBSP thyme
1-2 C chicken broth (make this from the neck if you like)
1/4 C honey
1/2 C peeled and sliced shallots
1/2 C white wine
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen peas
1 small lemon, thinly sliced

How to make it ahead of time:

Prep the chicken by rubbing it in the olive oil, and then pat with salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme. In a separate dish, combine broth, honey, shallots, wine, peas, and lemon.  Refridgerate seperately until ready to cook.

When ready to cook:

Roast the chicken at 375 for 1-1/4 hours. Drizzle with a small amount of honey over the chicken and roast an additional 5 minutes.  Ad pea/broth mixture to roasting pan and roast for 10 minutes. Remove peas with a slotted spoon.

Day Two:

Sirachi Turkey Burgers

Effort Meter (1 to 5): 2
Delicious Meter (1 to 5): 4
Weight Watcher Points: 8 POINTS PLUS for a 4oz burger on a whole wheat bun


1 Pound of Ground Turkey
1/4C Chopped Onion
2TBSP Soy Sauce
2TBSP Chopped Cilantro
1 Clove Garlic
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns
Cilantro, Onion, and Sirachi Mayo (to dress the burger)

How to make it ahead of time:

Combine turkey, onion, soy sauce, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper together and mix with hands. Form into burger patties and separate layers with wax paper.

When ready to cook:

Grill or pan fry burger patties until fully-cooked.  Dress a bun with Sirachi mayo, cilantro, onion, and even stone ground mustard if you like.  Serve with cut potatoes lightly sprayed with olive oil and dusted with panko bread crumbs. Cook potatoes on 425 until crunchy.

Day 3:

Ancho Chili Steaks with Black Beans and Southwest Salad

Effort Meter (1 to 5): 1
Delicious Meter (1 to 5): 5
Weight Watcher Points: 6 POINTS PLUS for a 3oz of steak


2-4 Steaks (we used sirloin but you could even use a cheaper cut, like flank steak or tri-tip)
2 TBSP Ancho Chili Powder (I could only find Ancho Pepper so I used that and cut the pepper in half)
2 TBSP Paprika
1 TBSP Ground Cumin
2 TSP Oregano 
2 TSP Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 TSP Ground Black Pepper
Half a Onion, Cut it large pieces
1 Can Black Beans
1 Bag of Southwest Cabbage Salad 

How to make it ahead of time: 

In a bowl, mix together Ancho Chili spice (chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, cocoa and black pepper). In a large ziploc bag, add steaks and drizzle with a light coating of olive oil. Add Ancho Chili spice and onions, close the bag and massage into steak using the bag.  

When ready to cook:

Remove steaks and shake off access marinade/rub. Grill steak on a BBQ to your desired doneness. You can put the onions in tin foil and grill those as well. Serve over a bed of black beans and with a Southwest Cabbage Salad.
Day 4

Quinoa Mac and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli

Effort Meter (1 to 5): 3.5 
Delicious Meter (1 to 5): 3
Weight Watcher Points: 7 POINTS PLUS for 1/4 of the pan


1-1/2 TBSP Oil
2 C Cooked Quinoa (I used the wild rice blend from Costco)
1 Head Fresh Broccoli (cooked)
1 C Sliced Mushrooms
12 Oz Cooked Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1/2 TSP Salt
1/2 TSP Pepper
1-1/2 C Chopped Onion
6 Cloves of Garlic
1/2 C Skim Milk
2-1/2 TBSP Flour
1-1/2 C Chicken Broth
1/2 C Parmesan
1/4 C Lowfat Mayo
2 C Sharp Cheddar (shredded)

How to make it ahead of time: 

Add cooked quinoa, cooked chicken, steamed broccoli and mushrooms to a casserole pan. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over Med-High heat, add oil, onions, and garlic. Cook until transparent. Slowly stir in a mixture of the milk and flour to avoid clumping. Add chicken broth, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add Parmesan, mayo and cheddar with a whisk.  Pour mixture over the quinoa/chicken/veggie pan and cover with tin foil and refrigerate (or freeze) until ready. 

When ready to cook:

Bake at 400 until warm in the middle (about 25-30 minutes).