Eat in Month 2012 Challenge

It’s that time of the year – time for Eat in Month. And I’m really excited that this is the third annual Eat in Month challenge. I can’t believe we’re on #3 already! I’ve heard a lot of excitement about the challenge on twitter, Facebook, and email – thank you guys so much for playing along. The challenge wouldn’t be nearly as much fun if I didn’t have you to play with me. Please keep in touch, especially on Facebook where you can inspire and help the rest of the EIM community. Feel free to post your questions, tips, recipes there. We can do this together!

The Eat in Month Challenge Concept

Eat every single meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch, snacks…whatever you choose!) “in” to save money and eat better. (Hey, this may even fall in line with the New Years Resolutions some of you have made!)

How to Play

  • The most important rule is to tailor the challenge to fit you best. Can’t play a whole month? Play one week or two. Still want to get coffees out? Go for it. We’ll each have our own tailored version of the challenge, and that’s great! :) Here are the rest of the main guidelines, but again, adjust as you need…
  • Cook or prepare all meals at home.
  • Drinks – coffees to cocktails – decide whether these count in the challenge or not for you. Some people just focus on the food. Some people do both. Last year, I didn’t go to Starbucks (not even for Starbucks Monday!) for EIM. But this year, I’m thinking I may still indulge in an occasional latte, especially since I only go about once a week.
  • If you’re away from home for a meal, plan ahead and bring something from home with you (i.e. to work) to eat.
  • If you got it at a grocery store, it probably counts, unless you bought it at the grocery store cafe. The only exceptions to the cafe rule include: 1. if you create a side salad to accompany a meal you’ll be making at home or 2. prepared meats, i.e. rotisserie chicken.
  • Grocery-store-prepared dishes are ok if they accompany a meal put together at home. IMG_1249.JPG We all have busy lives and taking help from the grocery store shouldn’t be a crime. Example of acceptable use of grocery-store-prepped item: you want to eat sandwiches this week but don’t have anything to go with them. You pick up some bean salad at the grocery store deli to go with your lunch. Another example: you want to make chicken salad sandwiches, but you don’t have or want to buy all the ingredients. You buy grocery-store-prepped chicken salad, take it home, make sandwiches and enjoy lunch. NOTE: Personally, I feel that buying pre-pared side dishes, etc at the grocery store (esp at Whole Foods/Earthfare/etc) are sometimes healthier and more cost-effective than buying all the ingredients to make yourself. Why not use the help once in awhile?
  • Frozen meals count (meals from scratch are better but frozen meals are still cheaper than eating out (more affordable meals and you don’t have to pay tip) and can be actually cooked at home/work/etc.).
  • Challenge starts January 1, 2012 and ends January 31, 2012.
  • Play for a month if you can, or feel free to join for a week or two, or a day…whatever you can do.
  • Those playing for a month will get ONE cheat pass – one meal (not a day) you can eat out during the month of January.
  • Have a blog? If you’d like, post photos and/or descriptions of your meals. If you have a food blog, you very well may be doing so already! Remember, this is totally optional. I’ll probably post most of mine, but that’s because I’m the host of the challenge! I can’t guarantee I will post photos of every single meal, but I will tell you guys if I cheat (which I won’t do). If I did it last year, I can do it again!
  • If you’re on Twitter, use hashtag #eatinmonth to check out updates from each other, get inspiration, request tips, offer tips, and help each other out.
  • I’ll be posting tips and suggestions also on my Facebook page, so be sure to check that out often during the challenge month for updates.



  • Get your pantry ready – A lot of times, I have good intentions to eat meals at home, but after a long day of work, if I don’t have any easy meals to whip up, I’m more likely to pick up the phone and order takeout. Having easy meals that come together quickly makes me more likely to put “pantry-meals” together instead of calling someone.
  • Click here to read my Eat in Month Pantry Tips + Ideas post
  • Have snacks ready – If I’m hungry at work, especially when there are lots of quick options around, it’s easy for me to take a 15 minute walk to pick up a snack. By keeping snacks in my desk and in the office fridge, I can just nosh on those instead of seeking snacks elsewhere. Click here to read about my favorite snacks to keep at the office.
  • Plan ahead – Prep your pantry, create a meal plan for the week. If you have a meal schedule ready, you’ll be more likely to stick to what you already planned ahead to prep/cook/eat. You’ll probably also utilize those leftovers more efficiently, too!
  • Have quick meals in your back pocket – Go ahead and jot down 5-10 quick meals you can throw together using pantry & staple items. Use this list when you’re hungry, out of energy, and out of time. Try to keep your pantry, fridge, etc stocked with a couple of the items needed for these quick meal so you’ll always have something to eat when you’re in a bind.
  • Keep it Simple – It’s nice to try to cook fancy-schmancy meals every night, but if you’re as busy as me, you just can’t do it every day. Allow yourself to put together simple meals, even if it’s heating up a frozen dinner. We know you may have better intentions, but just do the best you can while still being reasonable. Sometimes the simplest meals (spaghetti anyone?) are the best!
  • Make the better choice – Sometimes it’s about making the better choice, not the perfect one. Click here to read my post on this topic.
  • Bulk BinsClick here to read my how-to on working the bulk bins.

The Badge

You guys know I love my challenge badges! I’ve created one you can put on your blog for this challenge:

You can use the following code to add this banner to your site:

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The Players

Are you playing along in the Eat in Month Challenge? If so, leave me a comment, whether you’re playing for the whole month, a couple weeks, a single week, a couple days, etc. and your URL if you have a blog.

Who’s In? It’s never too late to join! If January is halfway over and you just found out about the challenge, feel free to join in on the festivities! Better late than never! :)

Hallowen In


A week late, but I wanted to share some photos from our Halloween festivities…

Hubby and I love celebrating Halloween. There’s just something fun about the theme that makes me happy – maybe it’s the costumes or the unique way you can theme your eats. Who knows?


Unfortunately, with things being so hectic lately, I sort of dropped the ball putting any plans together, so we just invited a couple friends over for a casual night in.


Sis drove in from out of town to hang out for the weekend. She helped me carve pumpkins over BBQ take out from local restaurant Mac’s.


Friends – (left to right) Sarah, Shamecia, Talicha, me!

We actually stopped by one fun party at another friend’s house to watch them record a music video to YMCA. Oh yea…it was hilarious! They even had fake mustaches for one part…and they were all girls. :lol:


Anywho, we had some creepy decorations going on back at the Chic house – nothing crazy – just a couple things here and there. I really liked spreading this fake spiders all over the mantel, though. They reminded me of a photo I saw once in a Martha Stewart Halloween magazine.


For eats we made this slow cooker BBQ chicken again


…mashed potatoes…


….slow cooker meatballs


…steamed veggies.

I was trying to do red, green, and white foods to go with some Halloween colors. I thought about labeling the food to make it sound scarier than it actually was, but “blood and guts”, although entertaining, didn’t exactly sound appetizing.


We had mocktails with POM, and we also had some vino (moscato).


The eats were tasty…but I really loved dessert.



Sis helped me bake up some Depression-style cupcakes with chocolate buttercream and tombstone cookies. She did all the tombstone writing. The cupcakes were baked without any eggs or butter! The trick appears to be the vinegar and baking soda combo, which I think I’m going to play with to make some other baked goodies (I’m thinking cake and muffins).



I had a great time having a casual Halloween in and enjoying tasty eats. It wasn’t as crazy as last year’s foodie Halloween party, but it was perfect for this year. Who knows how Halloween 2012 will end up!

Reader question: If you celebrate it, how did you spend Halloween?

Early Birthday Dim Sum


Hubby and I headed to Durham for the weekend on Friday night. We intended to go as a normal visit to see his mom, but it ended up being a bit of an early birthday celebration, since my birthday is later this month.

Actually, things got kicked off on the birthday-foot with a feast prepared by my MIL. I haven’t been documenting daily eats, so I’ve gotten out of the habit of photographing my eats, and unfortunately, didn’t take any photos. But I can tell you that she made a tasty beef roast with leek/potato casserole and broccoli. But that wasn’t the highlight. The highlight of the night was my MIL singing Happy Birthday to me over a peach dessert she’d also made. My MIL is very sweet and thoughtful like that, and I was thankful for the special meal she’d prepared…and the serenading.

I hadn’t really considered getting birthday celebrations under way yet, but after my wonderful birthday dinner the night before, I figured why not continue the trend. My MIL had suggested hubby and I get dim sum while we were in town and being the big fan I am, I thought that sounded wonderful. Nothing like eating one of your favorite things during your birthday month. And I figured we should go during this trip, since we probably won’t be back till sometime next month.

We arrived at Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant early, just before 11am, when the restaurant typically opens. We stood in a small line of about 10 people also eager to get their dim sum on, but we didn’t wait long. We were quickly escorted in and even had our choice of tables.

I started with hot tea.

And hubby quickly picked out one of his favorite dim sum dishes – shrimp-stuffed jalapenos.

I’ve learned at this particular restaurant (and possibly at most dim sum places) that one of my favorites, roast pork bun, doesn’t come out till later (closer to 12:30pm). So, in this case, the early bird did not get the worm.

However, I got a tasty alternative – a steamed pork bun. Also delicious, just a different outside.

This one is steamed to perfection.

The steamed version was actually my very first favorite dim sum dish ever, but over the years, I just started liking the baked version better. But baked or steamed, the pork bun is one of my must-eats during a dim sum meal. ;)

I also really love all the vegetables at dim sum restaurants. The two I usually see are Chinese broccoli and baby bok choy. We decided to take whichever came out first, and quickly snagged a big plate of crisp-tender baby bok choy. Nom!

Continuing the trend of getting my favorite dim sum dishes (for the birthday, of course!), I also picked up a shrimp dumpling (har gow) plate.

Yeaaa, I was definitely a happy eater seeing so many of my faves on one plate. I normally like trying a new thing here and there, but in the name of the birthday, I decided to stick with the classics I love most.

For dessert – sesame balls!

I’m so glad hubby has become a dim sum fan.

Thank you Hong Kong for your delicious eats, as always.

After dim sum, we had an exciting trip ahead. A shopping trip! We went to…

…H&M! Ok, I went to H&M, and hubby hit up a couple different stores. Literally, I only went to H&M – I was focused on my mission of just shopping there. Anywho, they didn’t have as many Fall 2011 styles as I’d hoped, but I found some cute stuff to bring home. You’ll definitely be seeing some of it in some of my future outfit posts.


Project Get Organized peeps – did you complete your homework yet? Better get to that drawer! Click here for tips on how to organize a kitchen drawer.


How long do you celebrate your birthday? Just the day of? Week of? The whole month!? The older I get, the more I want to celebrate. lol A birthday month is sounding pretty good. ;)

What are your favorite stores to visit that aren’t in your hometown? I love H&M and Lush.

Project Get Organized {Challenge 1 – Stop Procrastinating}

With the holidays right around the corner, there’s no time like the present to get organized.

So, I have the perfect challenge for you guys – Project Get Organized!

Challenge Origin

You may or may not believe it, but I used to be a really organized person. I may even go so far as to call my younger self too organized. But after living with a couple polar opposites in college (read: mess machines – I loved them, but they were totally disorganized), I guess I got a little desensitized. Add in the fact that I’m juggling one too many things every day and thus too busy to care (or too busy to see my lack of organization?), and things have gotten a little out of control.

But busy or not, I believe there are a few simple things we can do to take control of our life. I’m planning to spend September trying to get things in order, and I invite you to join me for the challenge.

Challenge Details

For most of my blog challenges, I provide all the “rules” up front. I want to do this challenge a bit like Project Think Positive. Throughout the month, I’ll blog about various challenges and projects. As we progress through the month, I’d like you, if you can, to try to add the challenge for that week to the previous week and incorporate the projects where you can.

Challenge 1 {Stop Procrastinating}

I know what you’re thinking. What does procrastination have to do with organization? But, I think it has everything to do with organization.

Put off answering that email? Now, you have just added another email to potentially a slew of other emails that you’ll need to respond to later. You’re more likely to respond if you just do it right away. Wait, and you start creating a list of emails that will clutter your inbox.

Come home from a long day of work and drop your things on your kitchen counter? If you’re not careful, your stuff will collect into a giant (and sometimes intimidating) pile of stuff that you’ll need to put back later. You’re just accumulating stuff and work that you’ll have to do another day. You’re creating your own clutter.

*Challenge 1: Stop procrastinating. Do it now.*

The more you put off, the more likely you’re just creating disorganization in your house, your schedule, and your life. The easiest way to tackle organization is to prevent the mess before it happens. By preventing future messes, you’ll save time you can spend tackling the ones you already have.

Share the Love

If you want to tweet about the challenge, I would LOVE that! Please use twitter hashtag #projectgetorg (I don’t like shortening the project name, but the last hashtag was a little too long to use in twitter). You can tweet about how you didn’t procrastinate, etc. Tweet about the challenge – what changes you’re making. Inspire your twitter friends! :)

I’d also love it if you shared this challenge with your friends, family, co-workers, and even blog readers (if you’re a blogger). There are a lot of share buttons at the bottom of this post (even one to email the post to someone!), so feel free to use those. Let’s spread the positive vibes people! :)

Feel free to use this button on your blog:

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This weekend (and in weeks ahead), take a look at your home. Note the following…

Where is your clutter accumulating? Counter tops? Drawers?

What types of things are in your clutter? Papers?Receipts? Shoes?

Share your findings in the comments:

Reader Share 1: Please leave a comment with the areas where your clutter accumulates.

Reader Share 2: Leave a comment with the types of items creating your clutter.

Project Think Positive {Week 3}

Welcome to Week 3 of Project Think Positive. Hope everyone is enjoying the challenge so far.

Week 3 {Daily Positive Affirmation or Thought}

Have you ever tried using a daily positive affirmation or thought? I found a great site here that explains all about affirmations, but here’s a snippet (do click here to read the rest):

“Affirmations are words or phrases which are said over and over to AFFIRM a single thought about yourself or other people. This is the way you have formed negative and positive programming through out your lifetime, saying things to yourself, about yourself, over and over. After thoughts are repeated, they soon become a BELIEF, and then we think this belief is our reality. In this way we form fears of poverty, health, weight and relationships and the emotions connected with these beliefs can even become our comfort zone, no matter how negative they might be.”

The site goes on to explain that you can utilize positive thinking and positive affirmations to change your beliefs for the better.

*This week’s challenge: Choose a daily positive affirmation/thought and repeat throughout the day as needed*

Example 1 (an affirmation from this site): I am powerful.

Example 2 (this is my personal favorite positive thought): Today I will be positive in a way that only brings me success.

And click here for an affirmation for every day of the rest of the year! According to the site, though, the best affirmations are the ones you write for yourself. Write one down now. Use it today when you’re feeling negative.

Words have power. Make yours count.


“Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different.” ~Katherine Mansfield


Reader Question: What’s your affirmation or positive thought for today? Or the week!? Feel free to share multiples to help give other readers ideas for their affirmations.

How to Save a Life

Had you asked me several years ago, I never would have thought about doing CPR/First Aid certification. Not because I thought it was a bad idea, I just never really knew much about it or was offered the chance to do it. I actually did my first certification two years ago as a requirement to be AFAA-certified to teach group fitness, which is a requirement for me to teach Zumba. If I’m being completely honest, I only planned to do CPR training since that was what was required. Though other companies offered only-CPR training, the company we (my friend Megan and I went together) did the certification through offered a combined course that covered CPR, AED, and First Aid, and I’m so glad we went with the latter. In fact, now that I’ve had the chance to experience the certification, I really think that everyone should do it. You never know when that knowledge and those life-saving skills could come in handy – for a stranger or for a loved one.

(Side note – I keep trying to insert this video, but the code isn’t working – click here to watch)

On Saturday, I did my second CPR, AED, First Aid certification with the same company we used before, Caskey CPR. The previous CPR certification I did lasted two years and the First Aid three. Though I only needed CPR re-certification, I decided to do them all together to refresh my memory. I really loved having Grace lead the training again – she’s very personable and offers great real-life examples.

As I sat through training, I thought about all the ways that this information could come in handy for me:

  • What if a Zumba participant began suffering from heat exhaustion?
  • What if a Zumba participant fainted in class?
  • What if hubby started choking?
  • What if one of my parents suffered a heart attack or stroke?


(photo from last certification)

You don’t often think about worse-case scenarios, and though I hope that none of them ever happen, they absolutely could. Would I want to sit helplessly not knowing what to do? No, I’d rather be trained to know what to do if such an emergency occurred.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like a CPR/AED/First Aid expert. But having now done my second certification, I feel a lot more confident that I would be able to do something to help. And I’d definitely rather know a little than nothing. I also took home some booklets with information, which we’re supposed to review once a month, and I think those reviews will help a lot, too. Though the thought of having to put some of this training to use in real life terrifies me, I still think I’d rather be trained then to know absolutely nothing.

And in case you are as clueless as I used to be about CPR/AED/First Aid training, here are some of the topics we covered. What to do if someone:

  • needs CPR
  • needs help from an AED
  • has a heart attack
  • has a stroke
  • has a seizure
  • has a diabetic problem
  • suffers from heat exhaustion
  • has a heat stroke
  • gets bitten by a snake
  • gets bitten by a spider
  • is choking
  • is unresponsive and not breathing
  • is unresponsive and breathing
  • has an allergic reaction to something (food allergy, etc.)
  • suffers from poisoning (overdose, reaction, etc)
  • falls down stairs
  • is bleeding from a wound
  • has a nosebleed
  • has hypothermia
  • has an asthma attack

Plus a lot more. Phew!

Oh and we learned about what to put in a First Aid Kit, which I really need by the way. I think I’ll get one this week. :)

Reader question: Are you CPR, AED, or First Aid certified? Have you ever had to use any of your training in real life?

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