I feel like this blog post could actually be titled "why do you blog when 9 million other people already do too?" Now, there probably is an actual statistic (that I don't know) on how many people have blogs right at this moment but it is somewhere in the millions. So, I just expect people to wonder why I bother to do it.
Okay, the easy answer is that it started as part of a course for my master's, which is entirely true. I took an elective course on blogging and, obviously, had to create and maintain a blog--but that class ended months ago. Honestly I kind of expected I would stop when school started. I enjoyed keeping up with posts over the summer as a creative outlet and to share about our house and what we were doing to renovate.
Once school started, though, I knew I wouldn't have much time and figured I would just . . . stop. Somehow though, I kept going. Why? Honestly because I enjoy it. I enjoy writing (always have) and, just as my professor said I would, I love having a place to share and keep all of our memories.
In my blogging class, we talked about how, at first, blogging felt really intimidating to a lot of us because it says "I have something worth saying." What did we have to offer that was unique from the millions of other blogs out there? What do we have that was worth sharing and worth other people's time reading? I wouldn't say I really have an answer to that except that at a certain point, probably just after the class ended, I realized that I didn't care. Don't get me wrong--I LOVE it when people read it. I love it when people leave comments. It's the most flattering thing when people say they've read my blog and enjoy reading it. It makes my day.
BUT, the great Liz Gilbert says that she wishes people would stop saying "what would you do if knew you couldn't fail?" because she says people should really ask, "what would you do if you knew you would fail?" What would you do even if you knew it would be a disaster, that it wouldn't end well, that you would stop doing it? For me, that's blogging. I don't do it because I feel special or have this great talent or wisdom to share. I don't do it to show off or be cool. I do it for the same reason people paint or play sports or (God bless them) run marathons -- enjoyment.
I like that blogging has helped me see myself as a writer. I like that it's given me a voice and given me a place to express myself in a different and new way. I like that it helps me share my life with family and friends (and I'm still adjusting to the fact that it might now or eventually also help me share my life with strangers). I like that it's a creative outlet and that I finally have a better answer than "watch T.V." when people ask me my hobbies.
Writing this blog has made me a better writer, which has made me a better teacher. It's helped me be more creative. It's definitely helped me read more books to keep up with nearly weekly book review posts--and I'm very grateful for that. It's helped keep my life more balanced so that not everything I do is school. Plus it's a really great place to over-share pictures of our cat.
It's made my life better and I hope, at least in some small way, it has made yours better too-- and, since I haven't said it yet, thank you for being here. It makes my day every time I see that someone has read or left a comment or when someone tells me they read my blog. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Carry on, friends.
Y'all has it really been since November that I've done a life lately post? Let's catch up!
We hosted our very first Friendsgiving and I took 9,000 fewer photos than I should have. #fail. BUT that's what happens when you have a great time with your friends! I'm already looking forward to doing it again next year.
We had really fantastic food -- people even brought delicious sides like awesome sweet potato casserole and spinach artichoke bread. Obviously I made a cheese plate.
One of the biggest reasons we wanted a house was so we could host people. We love doing it. Making our house clean and pretty is nice but mostly we feel honored to be able to host the people we love--to be able to make your house a home for family and friends, to feed them, and show them you love them--that's the best.
After way too much food we went for an evening walk in the woods on a nearby trail and it was so cool to be out there talking with friends and having fun while the moon came out. When we got home we ate pie, obviously.
Then of course we had family Thanksgiving (because we totally needed MORE food)! We started the day off on the best foot by doing the Turkey Trot! I haven't been running enough so it wasn't easy but I felt SO GOOD after and it was so fun to do as a family.
Mom and I even went to yoga right after which was the best decision ever, especially since it was a donation class for the Humane Society--which holds a special place in my heart more than ever after adopting Oliver. We were brave enough to bring him to my parents' and he actually did really well, thankfully.
Right after Thanksgiving we started decorating for Christmas because I'd already been listening to Christmas music for weeks. It's just my absolute favorite time of the year and it was so fun to decorate our house for the first time.
I feel like I blinked and then it was Christmas! The holidays are so wonderful yet really exhausting #amiright? It was so nice to be with family though; that's always my favorite.
So, not the best picture but we're so cute, right? It's hard to reach my arm far enough to fit all of us in! Really happy to have gotten to see them a few times over the break.
I'm pretty sure I promised you an update on advent and that's most of what we did in December so let's get to it! I always do 24 days of fun for David every December, like I did in August for his birthday advent, though that was my first time doing it for his birthday. I try to make it better and better every year but it's always a mix of a few things: gift cards, coupons (massages, chores, etc.), adventures, and food (uh, obviously! ). One of the things I made this year that was David's favorite was the pizza ring, from Pinch Of Yum, for a Packer's game. It was really fun game food and it was so delicious!
One thing that's always been a part of advent: making and decorating sugar cookies.
*all the heart eyes*
Some Christmas shopping in Freeport. Isn't he so handsome?!
Christmas tree decorating!
A fun adventure to the Boothbay Botanical Gardens for Gardens Aglow where they put SO MANY Christmas lights on the gardens. After we went to dinner. It was a chilly, romantic, lovely date night.
There were many other fun things too like going to Five Guys for dinner (David's dream Friday night), ice skating, Christmas movie night, a sweater, some socks, a coupon for a nag free night of video games, breakfast in bed, and more.
Advent and preparing for Christmas pretty much took up our life in December. Mostly I ate candy and cookies but I did sneak in a healthy oatmeal a few times!
I also took way too many pictures of our cat. Even though he's a kitten and is so crazy sometimes I still love him so much. It's weird.
He also helped me wrap presents!
One of my students curled my hair for a how to presentation and I was relieved that she did a really good job -- and didn't even come close to burning me!
I made a LOT of cookies (I think the final tally was like 8-10 different kinds!) including these from How Sweet Eats.
I'm not even sure I want to talk about this, but our Christmas got majorly disrupted by a bad car accident two days before Christmas. We are very lucky that everyone is okay and with everything that we have and this post has been about so many happy things that it feels wrong to end it on a down note. BUT that's life--it's not perfect. It's messy and hard.
In the future I might do a post on this, but for legal and emotional reasons, I'm going to just say that this was hard, is hard. I feel very grateful that David was able to walk away from this. We're going about things slower and more intentionally these days and I'm in NO rush to take down our Christmas tree.
People kept asking what we were doing to celebrate New Year's and I just kept saying "sitting on my couch and celebrating this year being over." After David's accident plus all of the travel and chaos of the holidays, being home was all I wanted. So, we celebrated with some tortellini (fave!) and ice cream, with gold sprinkles to make it celebratory, by the tree.
I intended to do a New Year's Day post but couldn't get to it as so much has been moved to the back burner. So, I'll just tell you that I'm not setting a hard and fast resolution. I'm trying to make my health and happiness a priority despite the longer commute and more responsibilities; I"m trying to sleep more, drink more water, and be online less, and my words for 2017 are present and grateful.
Happy New Year friends. I hope you're feeling present and grateful these days, too.
Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you get for you and your spouse or significant other. So, that's what we're looking at today! Whether you're looking for a gift to bring to your friends' Christmas party or to send to friends far away, here are my ideas for the couples on your list (though they'd be great for a single person, too!).
I got Date Night In as a Christmas gift a few years ago and have loved it ever since. First of all, it has fantastic recipies like greek tostadas and salted chocolate chip cookies. Second, I love how this book was created: Ashley is a blogger (creator of Not Without Salt) and, when she and her husband were first married, they didn't have much money (like the rest of us!) but still wanted a date night so they started having date nights in. Ashley makes dinner and her husband makes drinks and they spend a quiet night sitting down to dinner and connecting. If this isn't the perfect gift for a couple, I don't know what is!
How cute are these mugs from Williams Sonoma? A pair of these plus the couple's favorite alcohol or mixer would make a perfect gift to bring to a dinner or Christmas party, especially since you can get them monogrammed!
I talked about this cheese board in my homecook gift guide but I think with some cheese it would also be the perfect gift to bring to a potluck Christmas party or with you to dinner. The recipients will love not only the addition of food but also that they get to keep the classy, thoughtful cheese board as well!
If you're looking for a smaller, more casual, or lower cost option, you can never go wrong with a pretty bottle opener plus a bottle of wine they love (or you love!).
This wreath is festive, thougtful, and must smell amazing since it's made of bay leaves. Plus, how convenient if you know they love to cook!
If you're sending a gift to someone far away, these Maine items would be fun!
Another fun gift to send if your recipients are into coffee would be a Starbucks subscription. I love subscriptions because your gift will extend well beyond Christmas and they'll think about (and appreciate!) you with every new cup of coffee they share.
If the couple you're thinking of is more into tea than coffee then this fancy electric tea kettle and some of their favorite tea would make a great gift. With the rose gold color, it's a bit fancier than what they would probably choose and yet a practical and thoughtful gift.
That's a wrap! What are you getting the couples on your list?
Is someone on your list a lover of food and cooking? Here are some things they might love!
How cute is this monogramed cheese board? If the person on your list likes to cook they would love to use this for entertaining.
I love Gina's blog and following her on Snapchat (where she makes a lot of her recipes). Plus, the idea for this cookbook is genius--meals you can make fast or in a slow cooker, basically easy recipes. Plus, don't they look amazing? Your home cook would love this.
The home cook on your list is going to need an instant pot to go with that cookbook! If you haven't seen this all. over. the. internet. then I'll just tell you that it cooks everything FAST like an hour instead of 6. Also genius! This one has been on sale off and on so definitely check around for deals!
If the home cook on your list is also healthy, they will love this spiralizer. This one from Williams Sonoma also comes with a spiralizer cookbook to give your cook some great ideas. It even folds up flat for ultimate storage.
Your healthy home cook would also love Celebrations. It is full of beautiful, delicious, and traditional holiday recipes that are dairy and gluten free and paleo. Plus, they're so good that you could make any of the recipes and no one would know that they're gluten and dairy free. Check out the Food page for reviews!
If your home cook has a cheap blender, this one is a worthy upgrade. If Blendtec or Vitamix are out of your budget (like most people!) then this one is a good choice, though obviously not as high powered.
If your home cook is more into the fun than the healthy of cooking, this mini donut maker might be the perfect choice and at only $15 you could throw in a donut mix, too.
If your home cook is more of a home baker, they need a Silpat, NEED. This is life changing and much better than parchment paper.
Speaking of life changing, this big sheet is also amazing. No more multiple cookie sheets crammed up against each other in your oven. This sheet is SUCH a time saver.
Bakers can never have enough spatulas either and these are from celebrities--the one linked is from Chrissy Teigen because don't we all love her? Ina's (the Have fun!) is also a favorite. Plus, your purchase of one (or more!) of these spatulas contributes to the No Kid Hungry campaign.
Sometimes the BEST gift for a home cook is not cooking. These are Bantam Bagels are beyond amazing. They're like filled donut holes except they're bagels and cream cheese. After lots of holiday cooking and baking they will love having these for their New Year's brunch and if you're lucky they'll even share!
If the person on your list loves to cook but hates to grocery shop (hi, all of us!) then they'll love Blue Apron. It's a meal delivery service so you get all of your ingredients and the recipe for that day delivered right. to. your. door. Hello Fresh is also a great option depending on who is running the best deal. I've tried and enjoyed both!
I can't imagine anyone who loves to cook not loving something on this list so happy shopping!
Can I be honest for a second? This was the most intimidating gift guide to write. I mean WHO KNOWS WHAT MEN WANT? I sure don't. It seems like the only recommendations I get from the women in my family for the men in our family are things like power tools and sweaters which I always feel like they a) don't want and b) if they did would buy themselves. BUT I think I found at least a few winners in here. . .and if you have ideas, help us all and share in the comments!
Okay, if there's one thing I know, it's that men like food amiright? I can personally vouch for these HOT PRETZEL BAGEL BITES and say they are incredible. Seriously. These plus his favorite type of beer (and a video game if you're really splurging!) will make you the hit of Christmas.
Speaking of food and alcohol, these bourbon marshmallows look awesome. These plus a nice bourbon and some hot chocolate sounds like the perfect Christmas drink.
Speaking of bourbon, one year my brother-in-law got my husband a nice bourbon and some glasses and it was a winning combo. We've used the bourbon all year long, especially to make this pecan pie (make it!). If you're looking for glasses, these look masculine and like a great addition to a home bar.
You could always do a brewery tour, too! There are a variety of tours (not just beer) and you could make a day out of it-- go to the tour, have a great dinner out, maybe even catch a movie or rent a hotel room for the night and enjoy the city you toured.
A go to gift for me to give my husband is an upgraded version of something he already needs and uses -- maybe nice socks or a nice shave set. This one is on Birchbox but the Harry's brand is also available at Target.
My husband often doesn't buy clothes for himself so I love using Christmas as a time to buy him clothes he'll love. This dress shirt from J. Crew looks so festive and since it's from J. Crew Factory it's still affordable.
If you're looking for a one and done gift or something that will ship and look like a great gift when it arrives, I love the limited edition boxes from Birchbox Man. You could also give a Birchbox Man subscription but I think the boxes are even better. This one is the Classics box and I think it looks like a great gift to send someone far away.
I think this travel inspired box would be really fun to give with plane tickets or hotel reservations for a trip!
If the guy on your list is into working out, I think a nice water bottle is a good gift. If he's anything like my husband, he's used to bringing plastic water bottles to the gym. Besides being more environmentally friendly, this one looks and travels much better. These plus a nice sporty pullover or wireless earbuds would be great.
I don't know anyone who doesn't love a foam roller. This one looks masculine and is a bit smaller than the usual so it's better for travel and more affordable--total win!
If he's into coffee, these Starbucks mugs are great and this blue color looks more masculine than a lot of the mugs. A nice mug and his favorite coffee would make a thoughtful gift. Extra credit if it comes with a new coffee maker or even a Starbucks subscription!
If you're looking for the ultimate splurge, I can't recommend these enough. They are super durable, fancy, warm, and a practical yet plush luxury item. These will keep your loved one's feet warm and happy for years!
If the guy on your list is into technology, the Amazon Echo seems like a practical ( read: useful! ) gadget. If you haven't seen the 1,000 (actually well done) ads for it, the Echo syncs to your bluetooth devices and does a lot for you (tells you the weather, turns off lights, plays music, etc.). The Echo has a good speaker so it can play right from itself. If you'd prefer a cheaper option and / or your gift recipient already has nice bluetooth speakers, the dot does the same functions just without a good speaker ( it connects to a bluetooth speaker and uses that as its primary speaker).
If he's into music, a Spotify Premium subscription would make a fun gift. I rarely buy CD's anymore because I have Spotify and it's all I listen to around the house. BUT since I don't have premium I can't listen to it on a run, in my car, or anywhere else that doesn't have WiFi. If he loves music then he'll really appreciate this. (It would go great with wireless headphones, too!)
As we talked about with the For Her gift guide, the key is thinking about what he'd really enjoy. Does he love steak but you don't have it often? I don't know a man (or person!) who wouldn't love a special dinner of their favorite foods. Does he always forget to bring snacks with him to work? Maybe a Graze or Naturebox would be a good fit -- or do what I do and buy a bunch of snacks and stash them in the car as a thoughtful surprise. Maybe even figure out a lunch spot nearby and get him a gift card or set up a delivery. Does he love sports but you don't have the cable sports channels? Hook him up! If you live near his favorite team(s), tickets to a game and a dinner at a favorite restaurant is always a sure bet. Most of us appreciate thoughtfulness more than price value so don't feel like you have to spend too much to get a great gift.
Let us know in the comments if you have any other great ideas! Happy shopping!
Are you in the thick of Christmas shopping? This gift guide was actually hard because there are so many great options! Let's dive in with some of my favorites.
I have not one but two parts of my closet reserved for scarves I love them so much. The ones from Target are always my favorite. I was lucky enough to find one similar to the above in the Target deals section for SEVEN DOLLARS. Check your Target deal section but if you can't find it there, any of their scarves in the regular section are perfect. They are soft, warm, beautiful, and affordable. Highly recommend!
While we're at Target, let's talk about my obsession with these planners. Confession: I'm so obsessed that I got a padfolio, a journal, and two planners for Christmas one year. The Sugar Paper planners are gorgeous and I actually love having a planner for work and home life. The one above is just a gorgeous color but I'm also eying this one! Plus this blush padfolio? Swoon!
This puffer vest is obviously a classic. I've found similar ones at Old Navy and TJ Maxx so definitely keep yours eyes out there is you're looking for a more affordable version!
I always love getting clothes for Christmas because then I know I have a cute outfit to wear. I love this shirt as a gift for her because it would be a great New Year's Eve party outfit with some jeans or black leggings.
J. Crew also has the cutest slippers. I mean, look at those. I was lucky enough to get a red plaid pair last Christmas and can vouch for the warmth and softness of them. Obviously I'm obsessed with gold but they come in a variety of colors and I highly recommend them!
Lest you think I'm eternally biased for J. Crew (true), these from Pottery Barn also look cozy and a bit more low key, perhaps for your mom or aunt.
Okay, while we're getting cozy, I also love gifting Christmas pajamas. When I was a kid we would always open one present on Christmas Eve. Often it was an outfit for Christmas Eve mass but Christmas pj's are always a fun and cozy surprise and a fun way to celebrate. These from Old Navy are adorable, cozy, and festive. Random bonus--I love the ones that are right to the bottom because they fit so much better into cozy socks and booties and don't ride up my legs while I toss and turn in my sleep. These are the way to go!
When your (super happy and grateful) gift recipient is cuddled up in front of the fire or tree come Christmas morning, they will also be super happy to have these gorgeous marshmallows in their hot chocolate. Gold AND champagne marshmallows, hullo!
Those beautiful marshmallows would make a perfect pairing with this beautiful gold mug. I have a J mug and love it. It is gorgeous and I always feel fancy when I use it. What girlfriend wouldn't love gold marshmallows with a gold mug? I can't think of one!
These champagne candies look amazing and would be fun to open and have at New Year's. Pair with a bottle of champagne for extra credit!
If the woman you're thinking of is nothing like me and is a great gardener, I think she would love these feminine, beautiful, and practical gloves. These plus a beautiful trowel, some plants, or a gift card to a local gardening shop would be perfect!
We talked about how one of my go to gifts is Birchbox, a beauty subscription box, in the beauty gift guide, but if you're looking for a similar yet not totally focused on beauty subscription box gift, I really recommend the Popsugar Must Have box. Popsugar Must Have focuses more on lifestyle items. See some past reviews here to decide if this is right for the woman on your list.
If she's a creative type, I highly recommend Paint Nite. I gifted my mom a class for Christmas a few years ago and we made a weekend out of it--stayed at a hotel, went out to dinner, did some shopping, and went to our Paint Nite. You get to drink and paint and if I can do it you can do it! Honestly, I'm so not artistically inclined but they have the system DOWN. They model and walk you through every single step. There are many similar business that I'm sure are great but I've only had experience with the Paint Nite company and have been very happy both times I've done it!
I would say 98% of the women I know are into wine so you might check out some wine events in your area. Wine Wise is out of Portland, but there are many wine dinners and events all over.
If the person on your list is particularly sentimental or enjoys photos, using a site like Shutterfly to make a custom photo gift like a large canvas of her favorite photo or a calendar to hang near her desk would be a good bet.
One of my favorite places to buy gifts is from FEED. They make beautiful bags and gifts and your purchase provides meals or other necessities for people in need (from the US to around the world). I love this bag and at $35 you can fill it with a few fun items -- a soft blanket scarf and a good book or her favorite wine with some cheese and a fresh loaf of bread. Plus for another $8 you could monogram it--so fun!
The trick to good gift giving, for anyone but perhaps especially for the women in your life, is to think about what the person really wants. Do they enjoy fitness? Perhaps she'd like new workout clothes or entry to race she's been wanting to run. Does she enjoy theater? Play tickets and a dinner out would make a lovely gift. Does she enjoy cooking? Perhaps a nice pot or pan and a few special ingredients to make a nice meal together would be fun. Does she enjoy travel? Hotel reservations or plane tickets to a favorite place or somewhere on her bucket list would make her Christmas. Plus, I've still got a home cook, book lover, and homemade gift guides coming at you soon! Happy shopping!
How was your Thanksgiving? For me, Thanksgiving is a great time to connect with family and eat delicious food but also the last road block before Christmas. In my family there were no Christmas decorations or music allowed before Thanksgiving. So, Thanksgiving over means Christmas is on its way! Speaking of Christmas, are you so excited for cyber Monday deals? Browsing the internet in my pajamas with a warm drink and pie getting great deals is the best. SO, today I'm sharing by gift guide for the beauty lovers in your life because many of these sites will likely have some cyber Monday deals!
First up is my favorite hair product brand--Davines! I learned about this brand through Birchbox and then was SO excited when my hair salon started carrying and using it! It is seriously the best smelling and leaves my hair super soft, manageable, and smelling delicious! This kit looks perfect and is on my own wish list.
Speaking of Birchbox, my go-to Christmas gift for anyone who enjoys beauty is a Birchbox subscription. You can get a 3, 6, or 12 month subscription. My favorite is the 3 month because it's affordable at $30 and yet is a fun mail surprise for 3 months--well past Christmas morning! Most people wouldn't get this for themselves but love the surprise and trying different beauty brands.
One of my favorite finds from Birchbox has been this lip brand Laqa & co. These lip crayons are very smooth and hydrating and have great colors. I have the bee's knees (coral), menatour (purple!), and beezelbub (rose). I am pretty obsessed with the purple. It's not something I wear to work every day but it's a great color that's not weirdly purple. I've gotten a ton of compliments when I wear it. This kit is a great value and gives a good range of colors.
My other favorite lip brand, which Birchbox unfortunately doesn't carry is the Fresh brand. I first tried their lip balm as a free sample and loved it. Their balms are very hydrating and smooth and smell so amazing. Similar to the above, this kit is a splurge but has great colors and are high quality. Since I already have most of the Laqa & Co. colors, the Fresh kit is on my wish list!
Speaking of a splurge, if you're looking for the ultimate palette, I'm pretty sure this is it. SO many beautiful colors. I am always attracted to Tarte's dreamy, shimmery colors and this is no exception.
If you're looking for a more affordable option, this one is on my list for that reason and still has similar colors.
If you're looking for a cosmetics case to hold some goodies, this would make a fun, affordable option!
If your beauty lover is also practical (but doesn't have super sensitive skin!) they would love this cleanser. It's an exfoliating cleaner and it smells so lemon-y. It reminds me of some of the Fresh products I talked about before. I originally got this as a Birchbox sample but am sadly all out. It would make a great gift since it's a bit expensive.
Speaking of a luxury, this body oil from One Love is amazing. It smells so beautiful: floral-- yet not overwhelming--and warm. I'm so impatient that I hate how long it takes for moisturizer to sink in and how it can leave a film on your skin. This body oil sinks in fast and yet is super moisturizing. I originally got it in PopSugar box and have been obsessed with it ever since!
What beauty lover doesn't love a face mask? This Korean one is so fun and moisturizing. It didn't bother my sensitive and combination skin and was fun since it's a sheet mask. If you have a few beauty lovers on your list, I would break this multi pack up and add a few other fun items for a great gift.
Something that would make a great pair with the sheet mask is this dry shampoo ornament. The Living Proof dry shampoo is my favorite because it's super effective and it smells amazing-- very clean. I love that you could even hang this on the tree!
Are you ready for my favorite gift suggestion? I stumbled across this one while curating these gift guides and think it's perfect. It's my favorite color (rose gold!) plus is purse size. I haven't gotten a flat iron in years so I had to put this on my wish list!
That's a wrap! This gift guide was so fun to put together since I love beauty gifts and a bunch of people on my list do too. What are you picking up for Cyber Monday?
I don't know about you but I love Christmas shopping--except I hate last minute shopping. There's too much stress when it's down the wire and you have to pick something. So, I figured since I started online shopping for people weeks ago that I would share some of my gift ideas! Today's is super easy for me since I'm into health and fitness. Here's what I'm thinking for people who love health and fitness. . .
If you haven't heard of Whole30, it's essentially a program where you strip your diet of all possible irritants for 30 days to see what might not make you feel very good. This book on the program is on my wish list because I'd love to try this in January! I think their cookbook would be a great addition to my (ever growing) collection and I'm sure I would use the recipes beyond the 30 days.
Speaking of that ever growing cookbook collection, this one from Oh She Glows looks amazing and has great reviews. Her raspberry chia bars remain one of my all time favorite things--and super bonus that it's gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free!
Any health and fitness lover knows the importance of water and loves a good water bottle. I have one from the BKR brand and I love that the silicone protects it -- plus if you take it off you can wash it in the dishwasher. This one is 32 ounces which makes it perfect for the water conscious person in your life. I have the 16 oz and it fits perfectly in my cup holder.
Swell is also supposed to be a great brand and this pink one looks super cute.
If your health and fitness lover lives anywhere that gets cold and snowy, then they'll probably appreciate an at home workout. These are some of my favorites:
First up, Barre3 which I've been doing for years and LOVE. They have an amazing workout library of tons of videos that play with a click of a button. You can gift a 1 month, 3 month, or 12 month gift certificate. Last year I found an amazing deal that was a year subscription for half off during cyber Monday.
In a similar vein, I joined The Balanced Life Sisterhood for a few months when Robin, the creator, was running a $5 promo. It's typically $13 a month and you can get a 3 month gift subscription for $39, which is what's on my wishlist! Similarly to Barre3, The Balanced Life Sisterhood has a whole video library and also includes a workout calendar and monthly recipe bundle. Robin's motto is grace over guilt and is all about small, manageable steps.
If you've been a reader of my blog for a while then you'll know that I'm a Tone It Up fan. So, if you're looking for a gift for a fitness lover in your life, I highly recommend their workouts. They have a variety of options on their workouts for purchase page but the one below is my favorite--it's a collection of four workouts from their January challenge last year. They are all 20-30 minutes and it also includes PDFs of moves for a few other workouts. Plus, it's the most affordable at $25 and the workouts are fantastic. If you want something that your loved one can open, I recommend buying a flash drive and downloading them onto it.
I also own their Beach Babe DVDs 2, 3, and 4. I really like the 4th DVD but it's pretty expensive at $49 and, like the 4 workouts from the Jan. challenge, is only available for online download. The workouts are great, though! If you prefer a DVD, I would pick DVD 3 -- it has a lot of great workouts and is more affordable at $37. DVD 2 is a bit older but the workouts are still fun.
If your loved one would enjoy home gym equipment, I'd also recommend the Tone It Up Gear. I have their foam roller (sadly not for sale right now!) and it's wonderful. I also love their body bands, below, and love them. They'd make a perfect addition to one of the workout options above. A lot of the workouts on their site use them and they really add to the burn and fit so easily in a purse, carry on, or duffle bag. Perfect for those of us who workout and travel.
If you're looking to help someone add to their home gym or they're a yoga, barre, or pilates enthusiast, I highly recommend a nice yoga mat. This one from Barre3 looks great. I bought a Manduka mat online last year and love how durable it is. Plus, it's more affordable than many of them. BUT if you're looking to spoil someone, check out the Manduka site -- they have very plush ones that my favorite yoga studios use and it would make someone feel very special, especially if you included a gift card to their yoga studio.
I don't know about you, but I always work out harder (and want to workout!) when I have cute clothes. These running tights from Old Navy look super cute. I have other tights from Old Navy and love them so I'm sure these are great, too. Plus, I love how affordable they are.
These are also on my wish list! I love the mesh cut outs.
My dad got me these socks for Christmas a few years ago and I've been obsessed with them ever since. I'm adding these to my wish list this year too because I'm always in need of great athletic socks!
If you're into health and fitness then you've probably heard of the new protein powder: collagen. This brand is super popular with the health and fitness bloggers I follow. This one is on my wish list and has great reviews on Amazon--and it's Whole30 compliant! Gina has a great post about why she loves it if you want to learn more.
Finally, if your health and fitness enthusiast is also and outdoors lover, I can't recommend this starlight snowshoe from L.L. Bean enough. We did it last year as a family in early January and though it was COLD it was also beautiful and such a fun experience. It was so quiet and peaceful.
That's a wrap! Hopefully this helped you find something for the fitness enthusiast on your list or maybe even yourself. I'm off to binge watch the new Gilmore Girls episodes on Netflix and I couldn't be more excited!
Holy bananas fall is FLYING by.
I just started liking figs and then I couldn't find them BUT they just started appearing at our store again and it made my day!
Fall has been full of great books. This one. . .
Then this one which was just a whole other league to me. . .
Then this one!
Officially fall with the arrival of ciders and pumpkin beers!
Fall produce is THE BEST. I die for pomegranates every year even though they're so dang expensive.
Also, please give me all the chili with pumpkin corn bread. Amen.
In case you were wondering, I'm the most stereotypical and am completely obsessed with everything pumpkin flavored but also real pumpkins as well--the white ones, of course--and mums, oh my goodness! They are SO PRETTY this year. Maybe it's because I could actually plant some but I'm kind of obsessed.
Somehow we've had the nicest October I'm pretty sure ever and we have been LOVING IT. It's been so nice to be outside longer and extend the season a bit. We sure didn't mind that it wasn't freezing when we ran the Inflatable 5k! I'd been looking forward to this "race" for months and it didn't disappoint--SO fun, especially doing it with my dad and husband.
We also made our annual trip to Swine and Stein. One year we found it on Groupon and have been going ever since! We bought early bird tickets for $7 which was totally worth it because the food trucks were great, adorable old men played german songs, and the spirit of Octoberfest was in the (70 degree!) air while the sun literally shone on us. We couldn't have asked for a better day!
Favorite purchase of fall has been these short boots (or booties). I never considered myself a bootie person before--I thought they were hideous and wouldn't look good on me. Then I found a pair at Old Navy that were a perfect green suede and now I can't stop wearing them. They're not the most comfortable shoes but I wore them (and walked quite a bit!) for two days in a row and my feet were fine. Highly recommend!
Loved the Tone It Up 31 day challenge. I didn't followed the workout schedule exactly because I've been mixing running + HIIT + Pilates + Barre + sometimes yoga BUT I did do the 5 daily moves and loved it. A lot of them are HARD but you just do 31 reps of each move and you're DONE. So, it's like 5 minutes of pain and then you feel like a rockstar--WINNING! I did parts of the meal plan too--like making these Tone It Up peanut butter cookies!
Plus these pumpkin pancakes from the Balanced Life Sisterhood October recipe bundle with Siggi's vanilla 4% yogurt and pepitas -- SO GOOD.
Also, pumpkin overnight oats with cashews (or pecans) and pomegranates FOR THE WIN. I love overnight oats because I can prep them all on Sundays and have breakfast ready to go for the week!
Recent news: We got a cat! We're not sure how old he is since their teeth are formed after 6 months and then it's anyone's guess, but we're hoping he's a kitten because he is a TERROR sometimes. He vacillates between being the friendliest, most loving cat I've ever met to screeching around the house and attacking us with bites and scratches. I also haven't slept through the night more than a few times since he's come home but we love him very much! He was so sweet on the car ride home -- he just curled up in my lap!
We had some friends over to carve pumpkins and it turns out Ollie is obsessed with eating pumpkin.
Pumpkin carving sustenance
Halloween was pretty great -- we had our first trick or treaters at our house and it was such a fun moment for us. I dressed up as a bride (yup, wore my wedding dress!) and David was Batman.
So much more has been happening but I'm going to do a whole holiday post later. Until then, I'll leave you with this. . .
I thought it might be fun to mix things up a bit and share some links I've been thinking about lately.
With the return of back to school, I've been thinking about checking email after work hours. Teaching for me is one of those things that feels like it can be around the clock and I think most people feel that way in this day and age. Do you check your email during off hours? I definitely try not to during nights and weekends (I'm already grading, planning, thinking, working, etc.).
Also, romanticizing stress. YUP.
Recently joined this Pilates monthly membership since she was running a promo for $5 and I'm into it. I've been doing a lot of HIIT / cardio workouts and with the new school year ramping up, I just haven't had the energy. Pilates workouts are a great balance of hard and rejuvenating for me so right now I'm focusing on the habit of working out and learning to enjoy it rather than dread it. #selfcare.
Thinking about Thanksgiving and this is the only pumpkin pie recipe that I've ever wanted to eat.
Speaking of pumpkin, did you see that IT"S NOT REAL?!
Professional goal combined with personal goal: writing to increase mindfulness and intentionality. I've been journaling about my teaching before leaving work every day and then journaling about my personal life before going to bed. With both I set personal goals. If this is sounding a little too touchy feely for you, I"m with you but it's also helping me feel like I'm not a total zombie so #winning.
This pumpkin spice video. Dying.
Feeling like I need to make a fall bucket list, like. . .apple picking, fall foliage run, afternoon of reading on the couch (uh, every season!), fall fire night, apple pie and / or pumpkin pie oatmeal, fall baking (pumpkin cookies forever, please!), Halloween party, and, as you know, I need a fall to-make list and add basically all of Celebrations, please and thank you. I also can't wait to try our fireplace! (fingers crossed!)
Using October to re-focus since this summer was CRAZY and I'm craving routine. I'm combining the Tone It Up 31 Day Challenge (loving it!) and The Balanced Life Pilates + Barre3 + any local classes / events like the Inflatable 5k!
What are you loving recently? Share all the things!