watermelon woes

It's summer time, which means Bud Light Limes and watermelon are in full abundance. Well, at least at our house! I have always dreaded cutting watermelon, seriously dreaded. But, Luke loves them (ok, me too) so I put on a happy face and do it. 

 On vacation my sister, Erin, offered to cut the biggest watermelon you have ever seen. This thing was HUGE, I thought she was pure crazy. She informed me that she learned a super easy way to cut watermelon on Pinterest. My dad had a really hard time handing the "watermelon cutting" duty over to her, but she insisted her way was the best.  I watched her in pure amazement as she cut this gigantic watermelon in like 4 minutes. 

Now that the watermelons are placed in a bin right when you walk in the door, we have to get one every grocery shopping trip due to a very cute 2 year old screaming "WATERMELON!" Thank you, marketing! Luke and I picked one up today and  I literally cut the entire thing in less than 2 minutes. 

Be prepared to be mind blown! 

How do you cut your watermelon? I wonder if this method works for other fruits? I will keep you posted!

Happy eating, 

#freezerlovefriday taco pasta style!

It's #freezerlovefriday and I am here to bring you a yummy recipe that is perfect for freezing! 
After I had Luke, I had no energy to be in the kitchen. Let's get real, a newborn baby is a lot of work. When I finally worked up the courage to get back in there, I searched for easy, quick, and budget friendly recipes. Long gone were the days of whipping up Rachael Ray's latest "30 minute meal", for the record the quickest I ever cooked one of those was like 56 minutes! 

Along came mixandmatchmama.com, Shay Shull. Due to the demands of nursing a very hungry 3 month old, I had lots of time to watch TV. So, while I was innocently watching Sean's season of "The Bachelor", I stumbled upon his sister's blog. Love at first sight! I quickly made 10 of her bundt cakes, and thought I should give her dinner recipes a try. They were exactly what I was looking for! She even does meal planning Monday, where she literally gives you the shopping list for the recipes. Genius! Thank you, Shay, for being real and making super yummy recipes! 

Shay's Taco Pasta recipe has always been one of my favorites. I typically have everything I need in the house, and I have given this recipe away on many meal trains (the amazing act of making dinner for a family who recently had a major life change)! It is the perfect dinner to serve alongside a salad, and having many taco lovers in my house, it always pleases the audience!

I do change mine up, slightly, but for the most part I stick to the original. I love to take a recipe and make it my own, but this one is just too yummy to alter. The main difference is that I typically add a few more veggies to mine and instead of 2 cups of taco sauce, I use 1 cup sauce and 1 cup salsa! Other than that, I follow the recipe. 


1 pound beef, chicken or turkey  - turkey is what I have pictured! 
1/2 package taco seasoning
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup salsa
1 cup corn
1 cup chopped yellow squash and zucchini 
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
4 cups cooked pasta
EVOO to cook your veggies 

sour cream 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Cook your pasta to al dente and set aside. 
Brown your meat in a large skillet. Add in your veggies, and let those cook for a few minutes. 
Reduce heat to low and add in the cream cheese and taco seasoning, continue to stir until well incorporated. 
Stir in the taco sauce and half of both of the cheeses.  Add hot pasta, mix well and let simmer for a few minutes. 
Pour into a greased 8x8 pan, top with remaining cheese and pop into the oven for 15 minutes. 
Let sit for 5 minutes and then top with garnishes and enjoy! 

**If you are freezing the meal, let the mixture cool completely in the 8x8, cover and put into freezer.  

Here is Luke enjoying his dinner. It is summer in Tucson, so I apologize for the lack of a shirt. My model was not being super cooperative this night, I thought about using my other model (Ryan), but he was shirtless too, so here is what I could get! 

This particular night we ate our serving and froze another serving. I plan on using the frozen meal within the next month, and will simply take it out the day before, pop it in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes and dinner is served!

Happy freezing, 


life's a beach

We recently got back from a family vacation to Hilton Head Island, SC. This is one of my favorite places to visit, and it is a place that I have learned to love even more since moving to Arizona. God bless the humidity in South Carolina. Don't get me wrong, by day 6 I am ready to get back to dry heat, but until then I am loving the humidity! For most of the year we were thinking that we would not be able to join my family for vacation, but about two months ago we decided that we had to find a way to make it happen. I am so happy we were able to go, we had the best time! 

Family picture attempts are always fun!

Ryan was not able to join us in Myrtle Beach last year, due to a deployment, so he had not seen Luke at a beach since our last trip to Hilton Head, when Luke was 5 months old. With another deployment coming up, we knew this trip was a must for our family!

Hilton Head, 2013

We decided to take the red eye flight from Phoenix to Atlanta and enlisted my sister and Zach's help! You lose so much time flying from the west coast to the east coast, so we wanted to try to make the best of our time. We were a bit nervous doing this with Luke, but he was a champ. He went to bed super early the first night, considering he had only slept 5 hours in 24 hours, but he was such a trooper! I highly recommend this option to families!! 

Luke and Ryan on our drive from ATL to Hilton Head! Tired boys! 

Being silly with Aunt RaRa! 
I get very creative with activities during trips. Look for an upcoming post with some ideas on keeping toddlers engaged on road trips and flights! 

The most exciting thing to happen on the trip, was that my baby sister got engaged! All the men knew about the plan, and they somehow kept the ladies out of the mix. It was so kind and thoughtful for Zach to ask Rachel to marry him, when she was surrounded by family. We were so happy to share that moment! Let the wedding planning commence!! 

Zach and Rachel after the engagement!

The family always has to get in a few rounds of golf, while we are in Hilton Head. This time was a bit different because all of the girls were able to play together for 9 holes, before my Dad came and joined us. We had never done that, so it was extra special to share that time. The boys all played together one day, but they did not get a guys picture unfortunately! 

Dad and his girls on the course! 

 It is so much to fun to see Lucas play with his cousins. We have a few really good friends here in town with kids, but seeing cousins play together is so special. Both Ryan and I had great relationships with our cousins growing up, so it is so important to us that Lucas gets some quality cousin time! 

Cousins enjoying some ice cream after the splash pad!

The fun part about where our condo is located on Hilton Head Island, is that you bike most places. Lucas loves riding on a bike, so we always had a blast. We even woke up early a few mornings for some bike rides along the beach. I was able to run a total of 9 miles throughout the week, which I was pretty pleased about. I never thought I would be "that" person exercising on vacation, but honestly it helps me to clear my head and who doesn't need some alone time while living in condo with 11 people! 

Luke and I on our morning ride! 

Family bike ride! 

My boys on a bike ride to the beach! 

We love the beach! My dad loves playing games on the beach (no idea who I get my competitiveness from), the kids love digging on the beach and we all love splashing around in the waves. Luke was a bit apprehensive at first, but would warm up after seeing his fish-like cousins splashing around in the waves! If only Arizona had a beach, it would be the BEST place to live!!

Daddy, Lucas and Mommy!

The last night we decided to take a dolphin cruise. I must say this was one of my favorite parts of family vacation. We saw so many dolphins and had a relaxing night crusing around the harbor. It was the perfect ending to a perfect vacation. 

I love my sisters! 

Cousins on the Dolphin Cruise! 

Sunset Dolphin Cruise! 

We are so blessed and thankful that we are able to go on these family vacations. Every year is a different experience and usually there is some new addition to the family, which makes the time extra special. Thank you Dad and Mom for making this possible and for teaching us to love travel and exploration. 
We love you all! 


Until next year, 


why the gym is my happy place (plus a really fun treadmill workout)

Vacation is officially over! Look for a vaca recap in the next few days, but until then Luke and I are back to our daily grind. Considering Luke is still on east coast time, and is waking up around 5:30AM, this morning was exactly what I needed. Today's workout was perfect, I got in some best friend time (thanks for the breathless chat, Briana), along with a great workout!!

My cowboy and I walking into the gym! This is his gym attire, he insists on wearing his boots and hat everyday!

The gym is my happy place, there are very few days that I have to force myself to go to the gym. It took a few months for me to feel this way, but it has become a habit for me. Saying this, I will admit that I am semi addicted to the gym because I am also addicted to "me" time. 

Gasp!! I know, a mom that is admitting to loving time to herself. I'm human enough to admit that not all days are easy around the Nye household, some days are downright hard. The gym is a place for me to not worry about what is for dinner, not think about how long it has been since Luke went #2, and most importantly not worry about cleaning the kitchen for the 19th time that day. Luke is safe and happy playing in the child watch with his best buddies and I am happily sweating out the stress and thinking about ME! 

Here is another one of my favorite treadmill workouts. It is a pyramid workout, your up tempo speeds start at a certain point, you work your way up and than come back down to the original speed. 

Start where you are comfortable, even if that means doing a walking speed. If you opt for walking always add in some incline, it is amazing how much more effective it will be. This is a short 25 minute program, but you will be sweating quickly and feeling amazing by the end. 

Here is my workout summary! Woo hoo to 256 calories burned, that is like 1/4 a cup of chardonnay, right?

Happy running, 


the beginning of #freezerlovefriday

I love freezer meals. They are such a staple in my house! They are perfect for nights where you don't have time to whip up a five course meal, or nights where you leave your significant other in charge of the household. I typically will double a recipe, eat half that night and freeze the second half. I have a few favorites, so I thought it would be fun to share them with you all, throughout a few different posts. Some of them are recipes that I have tweaked and made mine, while others are recipes that I have found on the amazing site, Pinterest. The recipes will be for one night, so if you want to freeze some make sure you double the recipe. If you are not into freezer meals and you feel like every night deserves it's own creation, then well just use the recipe as is!

Here is an example of how I label and pack my meal for the freezer. I really like the foil throw away casserole dishes, but I was out this night, so I just used a normal dish!

The first post for #freezerlovefriday is my Pantry Quinoa recipe, it is so easy and so yummy. It is hands down one of my top five favorite meals, and the bonus is that it is loaded with veggies! I call it the Pantry Quinoa, because I often use what I have available. I ALWAYS have cooked quinoa in my fridge, it is a staple in my lunch salad, and our family loves it. My veggie drawer always contains a yellow squash and a zucchini, mainly because I feel like you can add these two veggies into any recipe and they typically go unnoticed. I do not have picky eaters in my family, but I still get such a rush when I throw veggies into a meal and no one knows. It's the little things in life, I tell ya!

Our Pantry Quinoa typically has a southwestern flare, simply because we love taco seasoning and well we live in the southwest! But, the great thing about this recipe is that you can use what you prefer. If you don't love zucchini than throw in whatever veggie your family loves. This particular version we did not do any meat. This dish is so good with or without meat, but if you MUST have meat, I prefer to use shredded chicken or kielbasa. If you choose to add in chicken, make sure to check out my super easy chicken shredding post

freezer friendly casseroles

Pantry Quinoa

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 can of black beans - drained and rinsed
1 can of chopped tomatoes - we really like the southwestern style, but use what you have!
1 yellow squash - chopped
1 zucchini - chopped
1 cup of corn - frozen or fresh 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
A few tablespoons of taco seasoning 

Over easy egg
Mexican shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350°

 Cook your quinoa per package instructions. 

Use a large saucepan, add EVOO and chopped veggies, cook completely. Add in beans, tomatoes and taco seasoning. Let that sizzle for a few minutes. 

Add in the quinoa, mix well, and transfer to a baking dish.

Sprinkle a generous amount of cheese on top,pop in the preheated oven and and cook for about 5-10 minutes. 

Let cool and add whatever toppings you love! 

Freezing Directions:

Once added to the dish, let cool completely and cover with foil. 
Make sure to label the dish and add reheating instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°
Frozen  - 1.5 hour 
Thawed - 30 minutes or until heated through 

As promised here is a candid picture of Luke enjoying his portion! He has always liked things all mashed together, so this is a perfect meal for him. 

I hope your family loves Pantry Quinoa, as much as we do! Look for more #freezerlovefriday recipes in the future. I have some good stuff cooking!

Happy freezing,

how about some DIY for your Monday?

Who remembers the show, "Trading Spaces"? I am pretty sure this show was way before DVR's, so my family had many VHS tapes filled with Vern Yip.  My family was obsessed, it was such a fun show to watch together! This brilliant show led to a nationwide take over of home improvement and DIY projects. 

Ever since I was little, I have always been excited to have my very own house.  Everyone loves a good makeover, some like to watch others do it while some like to partake in the fun. I am the latter. I love transforming furniture, and making it my own. Ryan and I got married young, so we were more than happy to accept the hand me downs that both our families gave to us. I confirmed right away if they were expensive family heirlooms or things that I could sand, paint and make over. Luckily I got the green light on most things, and I had such a good time transforming the pieces to match my style.

This is such a great dresser, given to us by friends of the family. It was also my first makeover!

I wanted to share with you one of my recent transformations. We were gifted this by friends who were moving, I immediately saw potential in this sweet little piece. 
This is the piece of furniture before I did anything to it. 

I have never used liquid deglosser. I have a LARGE piece of furniture that I am preparing myself to redo, and I do not want to sand the entire thing, so the kind people at Lowe's informed me that this is just as good as sanding. I was hesitant, but thought I would give it a trial run. 

The instructions say to apply the deglosser, wait at least 30 minutes, but no more than 12 hours. This is more difficult than you think, with a toddler. I somehow McGyvered some time in the morning to start this project, so it would be ready to finish by nap time! 
This is the top of the furniture with the deglosser applied. 

I waited roughly 45 minutes to start applying the first coat of paint. I opted for a white tinted primer/sealer to use on this piece. This particular brand is Valspar, which can be found at Lowe's. It is one of my favorite paints and is also on the cheaper side, so can't complain there.

Here is what it looked like with one coat. I was getting a bit concerned that it would not cover well, but I told myself to stop being so impatient! 

Here it is with two coats, dried. It looked great. There were some small areas that I decided to do three coats on, but for the most part two coats worked well!

That night I sent Ryan and Luke to Lowe's with specific instructions on which sealant to buy. To my surprise they came home with something completely different (not a surprise at all, it happens ALL the time)! It is also Valspar brand,  an easy spray on semi gloss premium finish. My only advice for this step is to do it OUTSIDE, this stuff smells. I did it in the garage, with the door open and my house still stunk! I ended up really liking this product and plan on using it on my future furniture projects, in the end Ryan made a great choice!! 

I was really pleased with how this turned out! I love the color and I love how easy it was to make this over. I think it completely changes the style! 

I have a few more practice pieces to complete, before I tackle my biggest piece yet, Luke's new toddler bed and dresser. It was a great find, but definitely needs to some TLC before we make the transition. 

Stay tuned!

Happy Diy'ing, 

how do you shred?!

We live in Tucson, which means that Mexican food is a staple in our diet. One of Luke's first words was taco, and to this day if you ask him what he wants to eat he will quickly reply, "TACO!" I like all meat involved in Mexican cooking, but the healthier version of me leans towards chicken based dishes.

 I love how versatile shredded chicken is. I can use it in so many recipes and I can use whatever I have left as the protein in my daily salad. Now, just because I love shredded chicken does not mean I love the process. This use to be a "Ryan only" job, mainly because it took forever and I don't have that kind of patience, (remember, he is the ying to my yang and well his patience knows no limits)! Then one day I had the brilliant idea of slow cooking the chicken, AMAZING. Now I know this idea (and maybe even a similar recipe) is out there, but this is what we developed in the Nye house, and I feel like I need to share this easy idea.

I will typically empty the tomatoes into the slow cooker, add my seasoning and stir that up. I then add 3-4 chicken breasts, place the beans on top of the chicken and start cooking. If you want more tomatoes, add more, or if you want to add in some corn, feel free to do that too. I like these base ingredients because they go with pretty much any dish I make. Keep in mind you can also do plain chicken, just add a bit of chicken broth or water. That way you can dress up the cooked, shredded chicken any way you want! 

Frozen chicken typically cooks 6-8 hours, while thawed chicken is around 2-4 hours. I always do mine frozen and set my slow cooker for 6.5 hours, it is perfect for mine but yours may differ slightly.  This is my slow cooker, and I love it! Specifically because of the programmable option, so I have no issues leaving it cooking throughout the day! When it is done cooking, use two forks and shred. This process takes all of one minute! Here is my finished product:

This is the easiest way to shred chicken! If you have a busy day, cook this during the day, come home and make tacos or quesadillas! The possibilities are endless. Whatever I don't use that night, I typically refreeze in a Ziploc and know that an easy dinner awaits. 

3-4 Frozen Chicken Breasts
3 TB Taco Seasoning
1 Can Black Beans
1 can of Mexican Style Tomatoes

Combine all into a slow cooker. Cook for 6-8 hours or into chicken easily shreds apart. 

Happy Shredding, 


Meredith lives in southwestern AZ with her husband Ryan, their 3 year old son Luke and their adorable yorkie, Monty. She is a military wife, a SAHM and a huge advocate of living every day with a purpose. 

This blog was started in 2015 as an outlet, and has become a huge passion. Here you will find stories you can relate to, really yummy recipes that are usually freezer friendly and ideas and activities to help you lead a semi balanced life! 

oh so you love the treadmill too?

First of all happy #nationaldonutday! We don't celebrate every holiday, I mean come on, tomorrow is "National Gardening Exercise Day"? But, today we had to indulge, because we LOVE donuts. 

Here is Luke at Queen's Donuts, picking out his favorite (always vanilla topping with sprinkle)! 


If you are like me you loathe the idea of a treadmill. 

I know you are all thinking, "She lives in Arizona, come on, why is she even on a treadmill!" Most of you are planting flowers, basking in the spring sun, and overall breathing a huge sigh of relief that the "white stuff" is gone for a few months. While us Arizonians, are preparing for hibernation. No, seriously have you ever tried to run in 110 degree dry heat? The summer is our treadmill season, unless you enjoy waking up at 4AM and going for a jog, which I do not. 

Way back (about a year and a half ago) when I started my fitness journey, I spent a lot of time on the treadmill. It was my safe place, the gym I went to was not too busy and my son was happily playing in the child watch. I searched Pinterest and found quite a few different workouts that started out incredibly hard, but after months of usage, they became quite monotonous. I signed up for my first big race, Ragnar - Del Sol, and I needed to work on inclines, endurance and speed. I started to fine tune some of the workouts and eventually came up with a few really effective treadmill series. 

Ragnar - Del Sol, 2015

I want to share these with you, but keep in mind that I am not a certified trainer or fitness professional (yet, eeeek). These work for me and I have found that when something works for me I may be able to share and reach just one person who ends up loving it as much as me.  

I typically run three times a week, two of these times will be on a treadmill doing speed or incline intervals, with the third being my long outdoor run. The following workout is one that I do quite often. What I have listed, are my speeds and my inclines. This by no means has to be what you run, change it up, make it fit your running (or walking) style. For a lot of you, 7.5 may be your comfortable pace, more power to you, but it is my sprinting pace for now. The idea is to be sweating and out of breathe after the "up" minutes. 

The entire workout is roughly 2.4 miles of awesome! It is one of my shorter workouts, but guaranteed to make you sweat and feel it the next day!

 On a final note, I want to let you know that this workout would have killed me a year and a half ago! You must start somewhere, and you must stick with goals to see improvement. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would label myself a runner, it has become a passion and something that I need in my daily life. 

Happy running,