Confessional Thursday

Confession: Despite the fact that I earned a master's degree by age 22, and my ability to down a chocolate milkshake quite quickly, in general, I'm slow.

My resting heart rate is in the 40s (i.e. slow).

I take a ridiculously long time at the grocery store.

I tend to not accept last-minute/impromptu invitations for plans because I prefer to have lots of time to get used to the idea of doing something.

Both my siblings and spouse have complained that it takes a painfully long time for me to exit a vehicle.

I never get to eat at events like galas and weddings because the plates are always cleared before I'm even halfway finished with my meal.

We had a lovely Easter... and the photos are still on the SLR ... not yet downloaded onto my computer. 

This sweet fella turned THREE, and I haven't blogged about it, or written his thank-you notes for his gifts for that matter. #todolist

Y'all, I'm just slow. And I'm totally fine with it. Who's with me?

10 Tips for Pure Barre PLATFORM

I've already professed my love for Pure Barre. From day one (late last September), I knew it would be my new fitness love. It's low-impact, so even though you're working really hard, it doesn't seem like you are. This also means it's not a sweat fest - you'll often see ladies changing clothes after class and heading to work (or keeping their leggings on and just going about their day). Pure Barre Platform, however, is an entirely different beast.

Late last year, the Pure Barre franchise announced they would be adding a cardio class to the traditional Pure Barre ones, named Pure Barre Platform. Not all studios offer it yet, but it rolled out here in Huntsville last month (with preview classes beginning in January). Platform follows the same basic structure of a regular PB class, but everything is amped up. You're jumping, you're "flying" - all the while tapping and stepping off your platform. Just for comparison, regular PB classes should burn around 400 calories, Platform classes burn double that. After one Platform class, I literally heard two different gals comment that they had thought they were going to puke during class. And I'm 99% certain everyone thinks they are going to pass out at one point or another. Even so, I've already been to ten of these classes, because they are that awesome. Think 80's aerobics party. I mean, need I say more?

Here are my top ten tips for Platform:

1. Eat a little something beforehand.
Going in with an empty tank won't get you far. This class is booty-kicking hard. If I'm going first thing in the morning, a banana or Lara-Bar will do the trick. 

2. Hydrate!
It's not hot yoga, but you will sweat. A lot. So drink up beforehand.

3. Dress in leggings and a supportive top (and don't forget your sticky socks).
Just like regular barre, they ask that your legs and feet are covered, but you won't want anything too bulky so leggings are ideal. Unlike regular barre, you'll be jumping and kicking, so I prefer a top with some support.

4. Make sure your clothing is made of moisture-wicking fabric!
Anything made of cotton will make you look like a perspiration massacre by the end of class. It's not pretty. Choose a fabric that hides the mess.

5. Pack a towel.
You'll want it to wipe your face and neck, but also it's handy to use as padding on the platform when you're gripping it with your hands for some of the floor moves. I bring my hot yoga hand towel and it works perfectly.

6. Bring a headband.
For regular barre, I like a skinny band just to keep my hair out of my face. These ones are perfect - they have a velvet back which keeps them in place the whole time. But for platform, I like something thick that can wick away perspirations (something like this, this or this).

7. Take a full water bottle or tumbler.
You'll want water during class. Trust me. But, there are no breaks so any sips of water need to be done quickly. I like to bring a reusable tumbler with a straw so I don't have to mess with taking a water bottle cap on and off and losing precious class time.

Kate Spade Tumbler

8. Arrive early to select your spot.
For platform, everyone has their own space (and platform) directly in front of the barre. The best spots (in my opinion) are along the front flanking the instructor. They give you the best view of what's going on because you can glance in your periphery as she demonstrates. Any spots on the sides or in the back of the room make it way more confusing (at least for me) to follow along because all the moves are mirrored. Choose a platform and claim your space by putting your items in front of it (for class everything goes in front since you step off the back). You'll also need a light set of weights. Lots of times these are placed on the top of the platform until class starts to show that the platform spot is taken.

9. Listen.
If you thought Pure Barre was fast, Platform is Pure Barre on uppers with a double espresso. It's crazy fast and the only way to make it through is to pay attention to every single word the instructor utters, the entire time. She'll say everything you need to do and how to do it. Because it's so fast paced, however, it's easy to miss things so look for any instructors who are attending class. They should have perfect form, and will be good examples of whatever movement is going on. Listen to the music as well. Like PB, Platorm is music based and driven, so all your moves will be with the beat.

10. Breathe.
And cut yourself some slack. This class is difficult. No one is doing every single "double-time" at 100%. But give it your all, push through, and I guarantee you will feel fabulous afterwards.

Good luck and happy Platforming!

Click here for 5 Reasons to attend 5AM Pure Barre!

5 Unique Hostess Gifts

As a guest, I always like to bring a little something whenever I attend an event at someone's home. Flowers or a bottle of wine are my usual route. However, this past week, I found myself out and about and able to look for more unique options for some of my spring commitments. For hostess gifts I think it's best to stick with goods for the kitchen/home. I'm a big fan of wrapping them in clear cellophane - it automatically shows off the cute gift! (Tip of the Day: Easter cellophane should be on clearance at Target starting Monday. It's the same exact cellophane you would find in the wrapping section, just branded for Easter so they discount it post-holiday. This is when I stock up!) Broken down by price point, here are my top five hostess gifts for the moment (and, as a general rule, it's not a bad idea to have a gift or two on hand for last-minute or impromptu needs). 

1. cake server ($10)
Darling, useful, and something you probably wouldn't purchase for yourself. This has "hostess gift" written all over it. 

2. tin candle ($15)
Target is killing it these days and I just about died over this bright and fruity display of candles and stationery. 

The tin candles won me over completely (yay for being adorable and toddler proof). Parker and I had fun sniffing all the different scents, and finally decided that we couldn't live without the Pineapple Coconut one. Any of them would make a darling present.

I own the stemmed versions (a gift, actually!) and used them outdoors all summer long last year. We have lots of outdoor BYOB (and BYO chair) concerts here in the warm months, and these were perfect for a nice Pinot Grigio or Rosé. 

4. bowl measuring cups  ($25)

I picked up a set of these for the host of an event I'm attending today. They really are even prettier in person. You can never have too many measuring cups, and I love that these would work also as mise an place bowls.

5. Lotus pitcher ($30)

Pretty yet simple, this could work for any hostess! Amp up the wow-factor by filling it with flowers before gifting it. 

Do you have a go-to hostess gift you like to bring as a guest?


Bunnies Be Hoppin'

1. Happy Easter Weekend! I have no idea how this will be our second Easter in Alabama! Parker is all about the Easter Bunny this year, and we are headed to the Botanical Gardens tomorrow for an Easter Bunny photo opp! Parker really wants to "give him a hug" (melt my heart).

2. I saw the cutest idea on Pinterest to make a house for Peeps! 

I used graham crackers and frosting to make the actual house (think gingerbread houses) and then let Parker go to town. It actually would have been a great craft for a playdate! 

Everything was edible - even the grass! 

Parker couldn't wait to show his handiwork to Daddy when he came home from work. 
Parker: That Peep is happy!
Daddy: Why is that Peep happy?
Parker: Because he's home.

3. Spring refresh in the den...

4. Easter egg dyeing...

This was Parker's first year dyeing eggs the traditional way. He was so excited to do it!

5. A few weeks ago, I blogged about ordering this hat (on sale right now through Easter Sunday!):

I was super impressed when it arrived in the mail. It's double lined so it's nice and sturdy, and I think it's a steal for the money. The sale is making me think I need it in black, too! ;)

Hoppy Easter, everyone!


Ten on Tuesday - BEST Organization Tips

A place for everything, and everything in its place. 
It sounds lovely, doesn't it? This phrase is my golden rule - what I strive for, yet find so difficult to execute in reality. One thing is for certain - it's much easier to have an organized, aesthetically pleasing space when there is less stuff.  Fewer items, less clutter. So I've made it my mission this year to keep purging things I don't love from the house. My closet has actually been the easiest - my goal is to only own things I enjoy wearing and that make me feel good. I'd so much rather have a few phenomenal pieces than a closet packed with clothes that don't fit me well and that I don't wear (making selecting an outfit ten times more difficult, and ten times longer, because I have to rifle through all those pieces I don't really like, am I right?). Try it right now. Walk through the house and I bet you can find ten things you can either toss or donate. Do it, and you'll feel so much better and lighter. Then, read below for my favorite organization tips. I've acquired these from various places over the years (magazines, blogs, trial and error) but they all make my life a bit easier.

1. Hang your necklaces on decorative hooks.

This is a space saver, plus it gives you easy access to your necklaces, as well as lets you see them all at the same time. Back when we rented, I used Command Adhesive Stripsto secure the hooks to our closet wall. In our last two houses, I had Max drill them in. I found my hooks in the Anthropologie sale section years ago, but I'm loving these ones and these ones that they are currently carrying. 

2. Combine Chalkboard Stickers + Clear Containers.

I love this idea for frequently used kitchen ingredients: pasta, sugar, flour, chocolate chips, the list goes on. You can find the glass canisters at Target, and my favorite plastic ones are these made by Oxo.  Look for chalkboard stickers in the Dollar Bins at Michael's and Target. Tip: always write with chalkboard marker - plain ol' chalk will wipe right off the first time you grab for the container.

3. Invest in matching hangers for your clothing.

Black Velvet Hangersallow you to fit more clothing in the same space because they are super slim. I just love the look of uniformity, too!

4. Use tiered shelving for canned goods.
This actually takes up more space in the cabinet, but allows you to see all your canned goods at the same time. I so prefer this to forgetting about them and not knowing what I have on hand.

5. Store folded sheet sets inside one of the pillowcases.
When laundering a sheet set, fold the fitted and flat sheet along with one pillowcase. Stack and place inside the second pillowcase. This will contain the set, keep it together, and make it easy to remove from a linen closet when needed.

6. Keep small jewelry in ceramic egg crates.
Just like my necklaces, I love having these tiny pieces on display. Find adorable egg crates here and here.

7. Show off your shoes.
I love a tall bookcase for shoes. Use up that vertical space in your closet! Bonus, you'll smile every time you see those cute heels you own but never get to wear (oh wait, that might just be me...).

8. Once and done.
Or something like that. I can't remember where I read the advice, but it went something like this: If you are getting ready to put something down, put it in its proper spot. Do it once. This was a lightbulb going on for me. I can't tell you how many times I'd walk downstairs with a laundry basket and leave it on the kitchen table instead of just taking it to the laundry room. I was making more work for myself in the long run - it would take maybe thirty seconds longer to simply walk it to the laundry room where it would be ready for me later. Since reading the advice I really make an effort to find the proper spot for items I'm holding the first time through - saving time and minimizing clutter.

9. Baskets for the win!
 I have an obsession bordering on addiction with these baskets from Target. We use them for toys, books, blankets... and have them in pretty much every single room of the house. They make cleaning up with a toddler a breeze. 

10. Hang clipboards for an interesting display.
We use ours exclusively for Parker's artwork, but I think it would be handy for magazine pages you want to keep, forms that need to be completed or envelopes for the mailbox.

So, do you already do any of these things? Are you going to try some out?
'Tis the season for Spring Cleaning!


The Kids (Kid) Behind the Blog

Our Pretty Little Girls

I spotted this adorable link-up and knew instantly we had to play along! Here are Parker's answers for this month's questions... 

What do you enjoy doing with Mommy?
"Doing watercolor paintings."

What do you enjoy doing with Daddy?
"Playing basketball."

Name one thing you are really good at?
"I'm good at basketball."

What is one thing that Mommy and Daddy tell you often?
"I love you, Parker."

What do you want to be when you grow up?
"Play with knives."
Um, maybe like a butcher? A butcher cuts up meat.
"Yes, want to be a butcher. Want to cut up meat!"

What do you think Mommy and Daddy do when you go to bed at night?
"Go in their beds."


Pure Barre Love - 75 Classes In

Yesterday, I attended my 75th Pure Barre class. Tomorrow, I'll be headed in for number seventy-six. To say it's addicting would be an understatement. If you've ever wondered about Pure Barre, read on to find out why I love it so much. If you're already an addict like me, read on to nod your head and agree ;)

I go through fitness stages. I like having a physical outlet that keeps me healthy and feeling my best. For many years, it was running, though truth be told I was a running snob and after moving away from the beach and the ability to run along the ocean, I slowly gave it up. From there it was yoga, then group classes like mat Pilates and even generic "barre" at the gym, and then most recently hot yoga. I was never an on-your-own gym person - I needed a class and a time and a place to be (with an instructor and lots of other people to hold me accountable), otherwise a workout wasn't going to happen.

Since moving to Alabama, I haven't been able to find a yoga studio that "fits" me. Honestly, the pickings are slim (this California girl didn't realize there's not a yoga studio on each corner everywhere in the U.S. - my West Coast roots are skewing me). Anyway, this is how I found myself in a Pure Barre class for the very first time (well, that and the Groupon I scored). If I couldn't find a yoga class I liked, I figured this might be close (it was branded as a yoga/Pilates/ballet hybrid - though the "ballet" part did have me terrified since I consider myself mildly highly uncoordinated).

My very first class was honestly a blur. There was so much going on and it was so faced paced, I was just trying to keep up. I did make note, however, of how extremely thought-out each portion of class was. At one point the desk attendant came through and gathered all the free-weights since we were done with them, and before the floor portion the instructor passed out mats (while we were exercising at the barre - not a second was spared). At the end, sanitizing wipes were set down by each student. Everything was so organized. In the barre-type group classes I had attended in the past, there was always a bit of chaos - scrambling up to the front to get a mat for the floor portion, not having space at the barre... there was none of this at Pure Barre. Since the structure is uniform for the entire franchise, this made perfect sense. And what was so neat was to think that the same classes were happening at all 370+ studios all over the country. I have a friend in Scottsdale who has also started attending, and it's been so much fun to share stories and pretty much feel like we are attending the same studio even though we are in different states.

image via here

But, what exactly is Pure Barre you might still be wondering?
Well, lifted directly from their site:

Utilizing the ballet barre to perform small isometric movements set to fantastic music, Pure Barre is a total body workout that lifts your seat, tones your thighs, abs, and arms, and burns fat in record- breaking time.

Boom. And, after my very first class, I had the biggest rush of energy I can remember in recent history. And the next day I was so sore I could barely sit (the day-after muscle aches stopped a few classes in). But what really made me keep coming back was how positive the entire experience was. The entire staff is super friendly and welcoming, and at all the studios they make it a point to learn everyone's names. During class you'll frequently hear the instructors call out names for good form/great effort/etc. and as a former teacher, I just eat it up.

Each studio also sells high-end workout gear. Genius. Post-class you'll see ladies perusing the racks. Often, clothing discounts are combined with attendance incentive programs - I mean, the entire model is pure gold, both for the studio and for the students. The students benefit from all the motivation and encouragement, and of course the studio thrives with more business. The current incentive program is the "Pure Madness" March Madness challenge - attend twenty classes over the month of March and earn PB clothing cash and discounts - score!

image via here

My favorite motivational phrase they use, often written on one of the chalkboards:
This is your 55 minutes - make it count!

There are no phones allowed in the studio, so I feel like I literally leave everything at the door upon entering and just get to focus on myself. As a Stay At Home Mom of a toddler, me-time is precious and rare so I totally take advantage of it. The actual class requires tons of concentration so it's pretty much impossible to think about anything else besides staying in the moment.

One of the best things that helped me as a newbie was attending one of the (free, monthly) Breaking Down the Barre classes. It really broke down each section of class: 
warm up
sculpt arms
tone thighs 
lift seat
flatten abs
cool down
Plus, Breaking Down the Barre offered tips and encouragement like the fact the arms section works best if you never drop your arms for the entire portion, and that each warm up contains a 90-second plank. My first couple classes, I kind of gave up maybe 30 seconds into the planks, not knowing how long we'd be there or really what we were doing. Since the BDTB class, I've held each and every plank the entire 90 seconds, largely because I knew what to expect (I've also successfully done the entire arms section each time for the same reason).

image via here

As far as "results" go, the biggest change is my flexibility. Even compared to doing yoga for years, Pure Barre has made me the most flexible (split stretch here I come!).
original image via here

Also, and this is kind of humorous, I've startled myself twice with my new muscles. Lol, I kid you not. Once I sat up in bed and wondered what had brushed against my arm (it was my abs), and another time I grazed my own bicep with my opposite arm. Both times it literally took seconds to figure out what I was feeling, because the muscles were new!

Have you taken a PB class? I'd love to hear about it! And if you haven't, I say to go for it!


Rainbow Pancakes!

Keeping with our March/St. Patrick's Day theme of rainbows, I decided to whip up some rainbow pancakes this weekend. They might just be the cutest thing I've ever seen. 

Since I knew I would be using lots of bowls for all the colors, I kept it simple and used a boxed mix for the batter (verses making them from scratch and dirtying even more dishes). I made the boxed mix batter in a big bowl, then spooned all of the batter evenly into six bowls and added food coloring to each. (And clean-up really wasn't that bad since everything just went into the dishwasher after.)

The secret to cooking colored pancakes is to keep the heat low. If it's too hot, you'll brown your pancakes and won't be able to see the awesome color.

And that color is awesome, am I right? 

I'll be whipping up another batch come breakfast on March 17th - the perfect St. Patrick's Day breakfast! 

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