Where in the world is Aubrey Shaw?

What in the world has been going on lately? I sure have missed popping in over here to catch up with y’all and share pieces of life. I hate that I’ve disappeared, but I’m back now.

And the way I see it, the best way to get back to blogging is to give y’all a quick recap on what’s been happening that kept me away. So, we pretty much have to catch up on the second half of April, all of May and the beginning of June, right? Here’s what happened:

Around the House

Just after my last blog post (a round-up of favorite Instant Pot recipes), the Mister and I celebrated our anniversaries: 8 years married, 11 years in our house, 13 years together.

Some days it feels like we just met, and sometimes it feels like we’ve been together all our lives. Looking back on 13 years is kind of mind-boggling. I still feel like the 24-year-old girl who was giddy about the handsome guy with the sparkling blue eyes.

We started May on the lake with good friends, good weather and plenty of drinks. Boat days lead to a lot of laughs; I hope we’ll have the opportunity to head out for at least one more this month.

 

As we headed toward the end of May, it became apparent there was a problem at our house. We’re not exactly sure how, but our kitchen because infested with German cockroaches. Trust me, you don’t want those suckers in your house.

We tried treating the problem ourselves but eventually called in professional exterminators. Two good things about having to pack everything in our kitchen up for the treatment:

  1. We decluttered and donated a ton of unused kitchen items.
  2. This was the perfect excuse to some much-needed updates around the kitchen.

Also, the pups came to work with me one day, allowing this adorable picture of them stalking me around my office.

 

ddThe kitchen is still currently packed up, but no more creepy crawlies. The Mister and I are hoping we’ll be ready to paint next weekend. Also on the agenda for the kitchen is new cabinet hardware, updating the flooring, and making new window treatments. We hope to be back in our kitchen in the first week of July.

Around the Dojo

On the dojo front, I was pleasantly surprised by a few of my judo students giving me gifts for Teacher Appreciation week. Helping to teach the children’s classes is teaching me new life lessons all the time. I would never have expected to get so much enjoyment for my clan of 8-year-olds.

I had the honor of being the uke for a friend’s black belt exam in judo. (Read, she threw me around like a rag doll for an hour. Also, I don’t know how to fall properly on my left side.) Since passing her exam, she and I have taken over teaching a competitive judo class to help the kids who want to compete in our tournament this summer.

And on the note of judo tournaments, the South Carolina State Championship was the first weekend of June. Every student from our school who entered took home a medal, and our dojo won second place as a team. I’m really super proud of our kiddos.

 

Everyone’s sights are now on the National Championship, which is the first week of August. I think I may be crazy, but I’ve even committed to competing. The thought gives me butterflies every time it comes in my head – I’ve got conditioning to do and weight to lose. What was I thinking?

Around the Office

Work has been really good lately. I’m in a good rhythm with my sales and working hard to grow a few lines of my income.

The big news at work is that I’m starting interviews for an admin assistant. This is a big scary step for me. It’s one thing to work for yourself and completely another to be in charge of someone else’s employment. However, I know in my heart that I’ve grown my business to a point that this is the next step so I’m taking it scared.

So many friends have asked me about the work I’ve done toward scheduling and with my business coach – it was a huge financial investment that may be too big step for a lot of friends. A more accessible step is a course I took last month, Peace Pace Progresss by Shunta Grant. Since the course is only open until June 21, here is my endorsement:

 

Taking the course for me was a great way to re-focus my goals and re-energize some of the daily & weekly routines that have helped me get efficient in my schedule. My next step is to start getting up an hour earlier to build my personal time into my day; that’s going to be challenging since I’m not a morning person yet.

We also finally decided to sell my 1999 Pontiac and upgrade my vehicle. We are now officially a two Subaru family. I’m thoroughly enjoying my new ride, especially windows that roll up and down and cup holders that work.

 

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Currently

Our Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

Between running my full-time business, holding leadership roles in several organizations, and training jujitsu 3-4 days a week, it’s an understatement to say that there isn’t much room for cooking. Last year, I made two decisions that have freed up a lot of mental white space around meal planning and eating healthy:

  1. I started using Prep Dish service that provides me with a grocery list and meal plan every week for Paleo dinners.
  2. I purchased an Instant Pot.

Purchasing an Instant Pot last summer during Amazon Prime day was probably one of the wisest decisions I could have made for our cooking lifestyle. My slow cooker was great, but it required more planning and time in the morning than I had to give. If I forgot to get that crockpot going, then dinner that evening wasn’t going to happen.

With my Instant Pot, I have more wiggle room. I can still use my slow cooker recipes, but I love the pressure cooker option. I can set my meal up in the morning, but if I forget or something comes up, I can get things going before I leave for martial arts class. And there’s no way we would have survived our January Whole30 without the assist from my Instant Pot


I have the 8-Quart Instant Pot Duo80, and I now find that I’m using my Instant Pot so often that I’m seriously considering purchasing a 3-quart or 6-quart model as well. This would allow me to prepare a side dish in my smaller pot while cooking the main dish in my larger pot.

If you’re getting started using your Instant Pot or just looking for new recipes to try, here are some favorite Instant Pot recipes at our house:

Instant Pot Whole Rotisserie Chicken

When I’m in my meal-planning groove, I roast a chicken every Sunday afternoon. We have a nice family meal, and then use the leftovers for lunches the rest of the week.

This Instant Pot whole “rotisserie” chicken was the first thing I cooked in my Instant Pot. The bird was so tender that it was falling off the bone. The kitchen wasn’t blazing hot, and I didn’t have stay in the house all afternoon because the over was on. In my book, that’s a win.

Instant Pot Kalua Pig

We live in the South, and pulled pork barbeque is basically a food group, but I would never make it because of time commitment. My mother-in-law would cook hers in the crockpot overnight, then “pull” it, add liquid and cook it for 3-4 more hours. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

With this Instant Pot kalua pig recipe, the Mister and I have a complete meal in just a few hours. We make this meal at least every other week. I’ve even converted my mother-in-law to this recipe after giving her an Instant Pot for her birthday.

Instant Pot Mashed Rosemary Sweet Potatoes

Gone are the days of me babysitting a boiling pot of water to make mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. One cup of water and seven minutes under pressure, and my sweet potatoes were “boiled;” then I followed this recipe for mashed rosemary sweet potatoes as usual.

This side dish was the easiest piece of Thanksgiving last year, and everyone raved about how tasty these potatoes were.

Instant Pot Chicken Taco

We were introduced to this recipe recently at a Tables of Grace church dinner; basically, our church has a rotating dinner club to allow members of the congregation to get to know each other better. Our hostess also follows a Paleo diet, and she had set out a fabulous taco bar spread.

Her upgrade to the recipe was adding a package of frozen chopped peppers to the recipe instead of the jar of salsa, which was a great way to increase the veggies. What I know is that these Instant Pot Pot chicken tacos were delicious, fast and easy — perfect for a busy weeknight.

Instant Pot “Garbage” Soup

Okay, I admit that I’m a Nom Nom Paleo fangirl. My favorite thing about her garbage soup is that I can basically make it every week to use up extra veggies in the fridge before so they don’t wind up in the compost bin and whatever leftover protein (usually Kalua Pig) that we have on hand. Same recipe every week, lots of variety so the soup doesn’t get boring.

To make the soup in the Instant Pot, I simply use the saute function to start and then cook the soup under pressure for five minutes. [Tip: I prefer the instructions in the Nom Nom Paleo Ready or Not Cookbook over the online recipe; the book approaches the soup from more of a building block style, which makes it easier to customize.]

Do you love your Instant Pot as much as I do? Drop me a comment or send me a quick email to share your favorite Instant Pot recipes. Let me know if you try any of these; I want to know how you like them.

My Top Piece of Advice

Yesterday in jujitsu, a new younger student asked me a question in regard to training: What would be your top piece of advice?

First, I inwardly marveled at the fact that any of the students look to me for that type of leadership. Can you tell that I’m still adjusting to being a sensei in our dojo? Who am I that she’s seeking out my advice?

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But why not? I’ve worked hard to earn my title, and though I still have a lot to learn on the blue mat, I have enough experience in the dojo to have an answer.

My Top Piece of Advice

“Keep showing up for class. Just don’t quit training. There’s going to be a period in the near future when things are going to suck for a while. You’re about to learn the rest of the throwing list, and you haven’t had time to master your fall. It’s going to be uncomfortable and physically hard while you teach your body how to do things that most people are too scared to try.

You will be frustrated. You’ll feel like you don’t even walk correctly. If you’re anything like I was, there will be evenings when you’ll go home in tears.

These are the times when you won’t want to show up for class. This is when you’ll have to show up anyway and push through the hard stuff. The technique will come with time, but you have to keep training through the challenges to get there.”

Tenacity For the Win

I started training jujitsu almost seven years ago. When I started getting ready for my black belt exam in 2015, more than one of the other instructors told me that they would not have predicted that I would have stayed with the training, based on how frustrated and defensive I was about critique in the beginning.

My Top Piece of Advice

I’m super proud of passing my black belt exam, but the truth is, those instructors just didn’t know me that well. One of my core values is tenacity.

Tenacity – a mindset of persistence and fierce determination toward a goal in spite of pushback or challenges.

Every accomplishment that I’m truly proud of in life involved deciding that something was too important to quit:

  • I found myself on my own just before my junior of high school; I still graduated in the top five percent of my high school class.
  • I put myself through college on a full scholarship and worked two jobs the last two years because I was supporting myself completely. And I graduated on time.
  • My husband and I couldn’t have been more different when we started dating. Our eighth wedding anniversary is next week, and next month, our relationship surpasses 13 years in being together.
  • I started working at my company as the office admin at age 25. The year I turned 30, I purchased it from the owner. Next year, it will be completely paid off.

Keep Showing Up

I believe that we really can accomplish the things we want in life, but we have to decide that what we’re working on is JUST TOO IMPORTANT to quit.

Keep showing up. Keep working. Keep pushing toward your dreams.

Even when it’s hard, even when it hurts, even when there are tears of frustration.

Just don’t quit.