Planning Ahead and Meals


So, how do you handle meal planning? My ideal way is to take a moment on Sunday and formulate a plan for the week. Then, I pick the recipes I’ll use and make a list of the ingredients needed. But, there’s times when life gets in the way of my weekly meal planing and prepping.

The Market

I stopped at my favorite grocery store, The Market, on my way home from another appointment yesterday. I really like this smaller, personalized store for a number of reasons. They have a great selection of specialty foods, their deli is extensive with an area of gourmet cheeses, and they have a wide variety in their meat department. Perfect for my cooking style.

The Market isn’t in my neighborhood, so I usually only go there once or twice a month. While I was there there yesterday, I did some mental meal planning for the week ahead and bought what I needed.

I like to plan my meals and a create grocery list based on them. For some reason, though, I’ve gotten out of that planning habit lately. When I have a meal/dinner plan, it feels so good to put it in writing and share it with you, and on Instagram and Facebook.

So, I’m sharing this week’s meals with you.

Dinner Tonight

I started prepping the Black Bean and Kale Soup, the night prior by soaking the beans overnight. But, a pressure cooker will let you cook the beans in minutes. I share how in this post: https://thefeatherednester.com/lighter-dinner-menu-march-4th/.

This morning, I put them in the crockpot, along with chicken stock, smoked ham shanks, carrots, shallots, lime zest and juice, and spices. They’ll stay in the crockpot all day.

This afternoon I’ll add the kale, a little more lime juice, and check on the seasoning. I love fix-it and forget-it meals. A little organization goes a long way with them.


Black Bean and Kale Soup


  • 1 bag of dried black beans, soaked overnight
  • 500 ml of chicken stock
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup of carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1-2 smoked ham shanks
  • 7 oz. can of mild diced green chilies, drained
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more if you like it spicy)
  • A bunch of kale, chopped or ribboned
  • For garnish: Cilantro, diced tomato, hot sauce, grated cheese, sour cream


After rinsing the beans that soaked overnight, place the beans in a crockpot and add 500ml of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Add diced vegetables, smoked ham shanks, green chilies, lime zest and 1/2 of the lime juice, and spices. Set on low for 8 hours.

Check for seasoning and adjust as needed. Remove ham shanks, cut off the meat and discard the bones. Add the kale and let cook about 1 more hour.

For a thicker soup, use an immersion blender. Just before serving, add the last of the lime juice. Place in bowls with your choice of garnishes, and serve.

Dinners This Week

Here are the meals I came up with during my mental planning session:

Wednesday: Pasta Bolognese, Green Beans, Garlic Bread

Thursday: Stuffed Pork Chops, Farmhouse Salad, and French Bread

Friday: Skirt Steak, Baked Potato, and BBQ Ranch Salad

Saturday: Grilled Chicken Breasts, Rice, and Green Beans

I know our veggies look awfully redundant. Sadly, salads and green beans are usually the only “greens” we eat around here, though I did add kale to our bean soup. I try to sneak kale and spinach in where I can. Eating better and healthier is always a work in progress in my house.

How do you plan your meals? Do take an organized approach? Or shop on the fly while you’re at the grocery store?
Share your method with us in the comments below.

Dining Room Decor – New Rug?

I need your help with a decor dilemma going on in our dining room. Does my dining room need a rug? To see the before and after, and to post your opinion, keep reading!

A Little Background…

In 2015, we bought the home we are living in now. Buying this home was the beginning of a huge transformation in our lives, which I’ll talk about in a future post.

Several  months later, we remodeled the kitchen area which includes a dining room and game room. You can see it HERE and HERE. We used an interior designer, Tiffany, who helped us with design and decor and introduced us to the contractor, Champ Construction, who oversaw the job.

When the remodel project was complete, we still needed some finishing touches to the decor. I felt we needed a rug under the dining table to break up the dark on dark tones, but my husband didn’t want one. Mostly because it was really hard to pull your chair up to the table on our old rug. So, I shelved the idea for a while.

Time for photos!

The reason I’m telling you all this is that last week I ordered a sisal rug from Pottery Barn. It was delivered today. I decided to post before and after pics to see what you think of it.

One of the reasons I ordered this particular rug is that it has a latex backing which will allow chairs to easily slide back and forth. Another reason is I like it’s light, neutral tones.  It provides a welcome barrier between the dark dining table and floor.

Dining Room Without Rug

Dining Room Rug

Dining Room with Rug

Dining Room Rug

So what do you think?

Which looks better? With or without? If I keep it, should I scotchguard it? I don’t even know if you can scotchguard sisal?

Let me know in the comments below and follow my blog!

2nd Annual Mother’s Day Trip

image credit: Hotel Valencia

Mother’s Day Weekend Trip

My daughters, Danielle and Heather, and I had our 2nd Annual Mother’s Day Trip over the weekend. This year, seven-month-old Makenna joined us.

Our destination for the weekend was Santana Row in San Jose. Once we arrived there, we met with another three generational group, my friend Melanie, her daughter, and two granddaughters, for lunch.

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Auntie Heather and Makenna at Pizza Antica

Did Someone Say Pedis???

After lunch, we headed off for our pedicure appointments at a local nail spa. There was so much going on that Makenna enjoyed looking around and cuddling with her mom.

IMG_3546 Trip

After our pedicures, we hobbled in our post-pedi flip-flops over to Hotel Valencia to check-in.

IMG_3554 Trip


The adults rested while Makenna took a nap. After resting and changing, we decided to head out for dinner. Unfortunately, our first restaurant choice had a two-hour wait so we decided to walk around to find another venue.

While walking down Santana Row, we lucked upon this great Mexican bistro. We ordered a pitcher of Sangria and table-side prepared guacamole & chips while we looked at the menu.

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Sangria and Guacamole (you can see a peek of it off to top right)

There were so many delicious looking entrees, it was hard to decide. I went with carnitas, which is my turn-to-favorite and my girls had the fajitas for two (it actually could have fed three!).

Dinner ran longer than we expected, so Danielle and Makenna left as soon as they were done eating. She wanted to get Makenna ready for bed. Heather and I decided to go a little shopping before heading back.

At Sur La Table, I picked up this cute Staub knob for one of my Staub dutch ovens. I must confess, I am a recovering rooster addict…I still love them but my kitchen is no longer exclusively rooster themed!


Sunday, Mother’s Day

The next morning we slept in a little late and had a great complimentary breakfast at the hotel.

IMG_3573 Trip
Heather’s breakfast

Us girls did some shopping after checking out. I posted a Style Reveal on something I picked up at the Gucci store HERE, so be sure to check that out.

One of my favorite places to go on Santana Row is The Container Store! I love getting my “organization on” there. When you’re organizing with such pretty containers, it doesn’t feel like a chore at all.

Our 2nd Annual Mother’s Day Trip was a wonderful weekend and I can’t wait for next year!

What did you do for Mother’s Day? Do you have any family traditions? Leave me some comments below!

*I receive absolutely no compensation or discounts for any of the brands I discuss in my blogs.

Read how the women in my life have influenced me HERE.

Are you struggling with motherhood or the empty nest? This POST might help.

Style Reveal – The Gucci GG Blooms Espadrilles


A Beautiful Addition to my Closet

The first time I saw the Gucci GG Blooms pattern, it was love at first sight! I love anything pink and feminine, and especially cherry blossoms or peonies.

GG Blooms

But that’s not my Style Reveal!

When I saw the Gucci store on Santana Row, during our Mothers Day Trip, I knew I would be checking out the GG Blossom goods. While shopping the next day, I went into Gucci and right off saw the GG Supreme Canvas hobo.

It didn’t have the blossoms on the monogram, but I loved the style of the bag and the double zip at the top. When I slipped it over my shoulder, it fit so perfectly against my side. I sure wanted that purse…but I managed to take it off my shoulder and set it down on the counter.

My main goal was to look at shoes, though, so I continued on through the store. After trying a number of shoes on, I decided on these beauties…

Oh So Beautifully Bagged and Boxed

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And, Here they Are – The Gucci Blooms Espadrilles!

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Not only beautiful, but espadrilles are perfect for spring and summer! I love, love those flowers on the tan monogram. I do wish the piping along upper foot area was a lighter pink, versus a mauve, but I still think they are perfection.


In order to justify buying these shoes, I told myself they were only a fraction of the cost of the purse! *wink* I am so looking forward to wearing these all spring and summer long. I have so many outfits that they will look great with.

Of course, they would look even better with this purse


*sigh* but a girl’s gotta pace herself! Read about the rest of our trip here.

What do you think? Have you bought any splurge shoes lately? Or do you have a favorite pair that you look forward to wearing when spring or summer arrive?

Leave your comments below, I would love to see them!

Did you know I am a Louis Vuitton lover? I share some of my favorite bags here: https://thefeatherednester.com/louis-vuitton-neverfull/ and here: https://thefeatherednester.com/for-the-love-of-purses/

Our House – Kitchen Remodel Reveal

A few days ago, I posted about last year’s remodel of the kitchen, dining, and family room. The biggest surprise when planning the project was the importance and cost of lighting!

There is little natural light into these rooms, and only in the morning. They replaced and added to the ceiling lighting plus we added the post and wall sconces. I never thought I would spend over $5,000 on lighting, but it was well worth it.

Kitchen Remodel Always Have Some Issues…

The demo for the kitchen remodel took place in early April and the project was complete by late May. 

We had hiccups along the way – for instance during the appliance installation, we discovered that our lower cabinets were a little shorter than standard, and had wood flooring butting up to them.

We had just assumed they were “normal” height, so when they were installing our slightly taller dishwasher and beverage fridge, they didn’t fit!

After discussing the options, we wound up having the wood flooring taken up in front of each appliance for the installation and replaced. Thankfully, the previous owners left us a partial box of wood flooring so we were able to order more of the exact flooring. And we ordered enough flooring to do the same procedure if we need to remove either of those appliances.

Kitchen Remodel Photos

kitchen remodel
Taken after they put the appliances in, but before they had to chisel out the planks to replace them with new ones. See the top of the page a post-chisel pic.


Drum Roll, Please…..

Here’s the Reveal! 

kitchen remodel

Photo updated in December 2019. This is the view As you walk into the three room area.

kitchen remodel

Thermador convection steam oven and wall oven (top and bottom left) and Kitchen Aid counter-depth side-by-side fridge (right)

The cook top is a 36″ Thermador Range Top with griddle

Game Room/Bar Photos

The former family room area is now a game room and bar area.

The bar area of the room. It is still a work in progress. I need to move our glassware (from the dining room buffet) into the lighted display area and we need to get the shelf for the alcohol display area.

Dining Room Photos

Home Remodel

I just love this rug from Pottery Barn. I did a post on the new rug HERE.


In the design plan, this area – around the wall scones and above the buffet – is framed out with molding. We’re waiting until we have the walls in the living room re-textured (in the next few months) to have them done a the same time.

In case you forgot, HERE is the kitchen remodel before.

Here’s a review of the Thermador Convection Steam Oven HERE. Look for more appliance reviews on my Thermador appliances in later posts.

The 36″ Thermador range top with griddle was the one appliance I had to have. I couldn’t be more happy with how the kitchen remodel turned out.

We are so thankful for our amazing General Contractor – Champ Construction and our Designer – Tiffany Mehrten.

See more of my home and decor here:

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