A month of meals: winter edition

7 February 2017

Hi, friends! Thank you SO much to everyone who has taken my 2017 survey! I have loved hearing from more than 140 of you so far. The polls are open until Friday (when I’ll draw the $50 gift card winner!), so go leave your feedback here if you haven’t already. Looking forward to sharing some of the results, too!

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share what we ate in January. It can be hard to get inspired to cook in the winter, when it’s cold and produce is a little lame, so I’m supplying you with 31 options :) A few notes:

— I’ve linked to recipes where I have them, which is most places – we are not the type of cooks who can just throw things together in the kitchen!!
— I’ve marked with an asterisk any recipe we were making for the first time.


Photo from Design Mom

Week 1:
Sunday, January 1: homemade ramen (John uses only the ramen noodles from the $.20 packets and adds frozen peas, soy sauce, an egg, cashews, etc.)
Monday, January 2: roasted butternut squash soup, salad, and baguette (Whole30 people, I’m pretty sure this is approved, and it is delicious and so easy!!)*
Tuesday, January 3: burrito bowls (we do quinoa rice, pinto and black beans, sauteed green bell peppers and onions, canned diced green chiles, salsa, and Greek yogurt)
Wednesday, January 4: kielbasa, crispy smashed potatoes with avocado aioli, and salad
Thursday, January 5: chana masala, rice, and naan
Friday, January 6: three pepper pizza and salad (we use Whole Foods dough (in the refrigerated/prepared foods section), jarred sauce, Monterey Jack cheese, and chopped up red bell pepper, poblano pepper, pepperoncinis, and red onion)
Saturday, January 7: lasagna, salad, and garlic bread (the absolute BEST lasagna, in my opinion!)

Week 2:
Sunday, January 8: easy chicken pot pie*
Monday, January 9: leftovers
Tuesday, January 10: leftovers
Wednesday, January 11: chili mac and cheese*
Thursday, January 12: BBQ takeout
Friday, January 13: three pepper pizza and salad
Saturday, January 14: kale sausage chick pea pasta (this is a recipe from our friends the Henrys that has become a staple in our house. I may share it in a separate post sometime because it is delicious!)

Week 3:
Sunday, January 15: sheet pan tenderloin and roasted veggies*
Monday, January 16: taco soup
Tuesday, January 17: Articles Club! Homemade ramen for John
Wednesday, January 18: leftovers
Thursday, January 19: butter chicken, rice, and naan
Friday, January 20: Chick-fil-a :)
Saturday, January 21: veggie burgers and frozen sweet potato fries

Week 4:
Sunday, January 22: zucchini meatballs, Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce, spaghetti, and salad
Monday, January 23: Chipotle (we had meetings at church)
Tuesday, January 24: quesadillas on the grill (we do pinto beans and sauteed peppers and onions)
Wednesday, January 25: pork lettuce wraps
Thursday, January 26: farfalle with pancetta and peas
Friday, January 27: buffalo chicken pizza (we do Whole Foods dough, frozen buffalo chicken, chopped red onion, shredded cheese, and Whole Foods 365 blue cheese sauce) and Asian charred broccoli
Saturday, January 28: Chinese takeout for Lunar New Year!

Week 5:
Sunday, January 29: chicken noodle soup
Monday, January 30: chickpea shawarma pitas
Tuesday, January 31: chicken and broccoli stir fry

If this was helpful, I’d love to do posts for other seasons, since our go-to meals change a lot with the weather! Let me know what you think, and I’d also love to hear if you have a favorite recipe for the winter!

P.S. I wrote a post a few years ago about how we meal plan – considering writing a follow-up since our process has changed a bit!

I’m glad you’re here! Survey + giveaway

3 February 2017

Howdy and happy Friday, friends! January was a really fun month for me on Em for Marvelous. We got to talk a lot about some of my favorite things, like goals, marriage, financial freedom, June, and our family’s adventures. Y’all seemed to enjoy these topics, too!

I truly believe that the guiding light for my posts should be what I find most marvelous, because if I’m not passionate about something, then why bother sharing it? That being said, I sincerely treasure every single person who stops by, reads, and joins the conversation, and I love checking in every so often to gather feedback. I have lots of posts planned for the year ahead, but I’d also love to know: What would you like to read about? What would you like to discuss?

If you have a moment, please consider taking the short survey below… I’m so curious, and would love to hear from you! Then, leave a comment below to be entered to win a $50 Airbnb gift card OR a $50 Amazon gift card – your choice. I’ll draw and email a winner next Friday, February 10!

Update! Taryn D. is our lovely winner and has been emailed! Thank you all SO much for sharing feedback with me!

Create your own user feedback survey

Thank you in advance, friends! xo

February 2017 Goals

1 February 2017

I am so pleased with the progress I’ve made on my 2017 goals — little bits, but all in the right direction. February is the last month of my 60 Before 30 project, so in addition to my four focal areas, you’ll also see monthly goals pulled from that list to finish strong. And, I added a new update that I’m planning to include going forward: what I read in the last month!

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 9.17.49 PM

What I read in January: Celebrate Everything, The Meaning of Marriage, The Power of a Praying Wife (ongoing), and The Lifegiving Home (ongoing). Those last two I plan to read a little at a time throughout the year!

Revisiting my goals for January:
Head to Val’s site and choose and order a prayer journal (was deciding between this one and this one and ended up ordering the undated)
Look over Val’s recommended books on prayer and purchase one (bought this one and this one!)
Mark monthly prep days in my planner and try my first one for January
Celebrate June’s first birthday in tuxedo cat style!
Finish June’s one year video
Attend my free trial ballet class
Restock my supply of cards
Set a date for my favorite things party
Buy one product Sam recommended during my personal consult
Peruse the aisles of a bookstore for a new Bible

February goals:
— Peruse the aisles of a bookstore for a new Bible
— Fill out the first month in my prayer journal
— Host a favorite things party for neighborhood friends
— Start my weekly ballet class!
— Submit everything for HOA approval for our backyard project (it’s back on!)
— Post one city for my Triangle guide
— Hit 10k steps 4 out of 7 days a week (this will be a challenge, as I only hit 10k two days a week on average in January…)
— Get our wills notorized
— Go to the Museum of Life & Science with June (we got a membership for Christmas!)

As a reminder, here are my 2017 guideposts. If you’ve posted your goals somewhere, I’d love to see – or just drop them in the comments!

12 years together

30 January 2017

We are not perfect for each other, we are growing perfect together.

Though John and I have always had in common that which is most important to us — what C.S. Lewis called the “secret thread” – I think there’s something else that’s helped keep us together for twelve years, and that is that we’ve committed to growing towards each other. Towards each other, not away from each other, and not just side by side.

In Tim Keller’s book “The Meaning of Marriage,” he quotes Stanley Hauerwas:


I think this is very true. I wouldn’t necessarily describe John as a “stranger,” but we’ve both changed in the twelve years we’ve been together (see here for one example). This is inevitable: if you’re with someone for any period of time, they will change. You can either fight this, ignore it, or embrace it. (I happen to think high school sweethearts have a leg up on everyone else, because when you start dating when you’re 17, you KNOW you’re going to change!)

Tim Keller goes on to write:


When you inevitably change, you have the choice of growing toward your partner or away from him. At every juncture, we’ve tried to grow toward each other, though always imperfectly, and it has led to joy and beauty we never would have known had we dug our heels in.

em and john

We are not perfect for each other, but we are committed to perfecting each other… and that makes us perfect for each other.

P.S. I just made a new category here on EFM: love + marriage. If you’d like to read more of my musings on our relationship, that’s where you can find them :)

June’s favorite playlist

27 January 2017

It might just become your new favorite, too.

Elvis Presley

I’m not sure what made me think of Elvis one day, because I can’t say I’ve historically been a connoisseur of his music. But I did… and it was an instant hit with Miss June. To be fair, she gets very excited whenever we put on music, but she does seem to love Elvis even more than our Disney playlist, the Beach Boys, big band favorites, Cozy Fall, our cooking playlist, and Christian Folk, which comprise the other standard options at our house.

Click here to listen, if you like – I chose some of his most upbeat options for this highly-curated collection. And I challenge you to not have your own kitchen dance party when you do! :)

Happy weekend, friends!