Heather by Heather

Kate Morris Jewelry (Plus Discount!)

March 30, 2015 in Fashion by Heather

Kate Morris JewelryHandmade. Local artist. Beauty. Natural Materials. Chic. Statement. These are all words I would use to describe Kate Morris Jewelry. She is a local jewelry designer here in Homewood, Alabama and to be frank, her pieces are just elegant, classic and worth each penny you pay for them.

I’ve talked to multiple people who have purchased KMJ items and can’t believe the incredible quality of the pieces she creates and the fabulous price point they are at. AND keep reading to get an exclusive MLWL discount code for my readers only! ;)

Kate Morris Jewelry

(Thanks to Kenwyn Alexander for photos!)

Kate started her business in order to fund her first mission trip at 17 and since then has handcrafted jewelry to go on trips to South America each summer since then. Kate’s jewelry honors that tradition and her love for the spanish culture by naming each of her pieces in Spanish. She also donates a portion of proceeds to the International Mission Board, so it’s a cool way to give back!

Kate Morris Jewelry

I already own several pieces of KMJ and am so excited to see her new spring/summer line! I’ve picked out some of my favorites below for you to check out.

Kate Morris Jewelry

 

Ora / can be worn as a bracelet or necklace!

Kate Morris Jewelry

Reina / Swoon. This hand chain on, yes please! Less than $30 after discount.

Kate Morris Jewelry

Brisa / Under $25 after discount! & Marta / See my whole outfit post with these pieces here

Kate Morris Jewelry

This shot is from an upcoming outfit post via Magen Davis Photography where once again I’m wearing KMJ (Simone, Rosaria, Blancastack, & Body Jewels). I’m telling you, I have an ADDICTION! Stay tuned for that outfit post later this week…

Teaming up with KMJ for this post was a no-brainer for me! I already wear and love her jewelry and know you will too. So, as I said KMJ has offered to give my readers the BIGGEST discount she’s ever offered on a new line of jewelry, go to her site: KateMorrisJewelry.com  and enter code MLWL to get 30% off!

I’d love for you to leave a comment below letting me know what your favorite piece on her site is and what you’re buying!

Heather by Heather

17 Weeks & Feeding Dilemma

March 27, 2015 in Pregnancy by Heather

One thing that I’ve been forced to think about recently is feeding. It’s been really eye-opening to me to watch friends go through breast feeding or formula-feeding or a mixture of both. What a taxing but rewarding experience, it seems! I am planning to breastfeed, but I’ve heard it can be incredibly difficult and sometimes just hard to “get it.”

My brother and sister-in-law had a baby about 6 weeks ago and one piece of advice that Kyle gave us was to at least have a container of formula on hand, just in case. I decided to actually listen to Kyle for once and started scoping out formulas and the multitude of baby sites out there. My boss has told me she loves Honest Co. for all natural, healthy baby products and always buys their diapers as shower gifts for new moms because they have lots of really cute patterns to choose from as well as being organic.

I started checking them out and then before I knew it a few items had jumped into my cart. I just don’t know how that happens sometimes! ;) I got The Honest Company feeding line organic premium formula as my “just in case” back up. I’ve also heard that since your milk can take a while to come in, I may need it in the very beginning.

They’ve recently launched a whole new line of feeding products. Here’s the breakdown I learned about the formula I chose:

-Easy to digest for baby’s tummy

-No GMO’s, gluten or DHA/ARA

-Balanced and modeled after breast milk

-Nutritionally complete

-Sourced from trusted organic farms

I got the unique opportunity to ask Honest co-founder Christopher some questions about their new feeding line so make sure you check out our Q&A below, because he certainly knows a lot more about feeding than I do right now.;)

What sets your formula apart from others?

“We here at Honest like to shine the light instead of cast the shadow, so while we won’t talk about other brands, let us tell you more about how new Organic Premium Infant Formula is differentiated:

  • It’s USDA certified organic!  Our infant formula is certified by QAI (Quality Assurance International).  QAI is committed to ensuring organic integrity at every link in the organic production chain, and is a USDA approved government agency that complies with the high standards of the USDA National Organic Standards Program.
  • We focus on high quality, premium ingredients that are “Honestly Free” of artificial growth hormones, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), antibiotics, steroids, gluten, added flavors, added colors, peanuts, tree nuts, radiation processing and potentially harmful pesticides or herbicides.
  • We are proud to have ingredient and packaging traceability and sourcing transparency –  with our milk sourced from trusted organic dairy (organic certified) farms (see the infographic on this page) to ensure only high quality, pure ingredients.
  • We have carefully balanced the protein and carbohydrate blend patterned after breast milk and is 100% nutritionally complete – meeting all the RDI infants 0 – 12 months.
  • It made without GMO (genetically engineered) ingredients.
  • The Honest Company has chosen not to include DHA in our Organic Premium Infant Formula because the only DHA approved for use by the FDA in infant formula does not meet our rigorous Honest standards or the criteria you see on our Honest Organic Premium Formula label. The Food and Drug Administration specifies the nutrients that must be used in infant formula. Presently, there is no requirement for DHA. Our nutritionally complete Organic Premium Infant Formula has been carefully crafted based on scientific research to meet the “high quality standards for the safety and nutritional quality of infant formulas during this critical time of development” established by the FDA. We have researched whether to include DHA in our Organic Premium Infant Formula with great attention, carefully reviewing oil extraction methods, batching and blending processes, algae vs. fish oil versions, nutritional standards and infant development, and the results of long term studies of DHA-containing formulas. Based on our research and consistent with our ongoing efforts to provide you with high quality, safe, and thoughtfully conceived products for your family’s health, we instead offer Baby DHA, a liquid supplement sourced from premium fish oil that also contains Vitamins D3 and E. That way, we know that babies can enjoy the critical developmental benefits of DHA. Our Baby DHA is a premium, pure fish oil certified by IFOS (International Fish Oil Standards) with the highest 5-star rating to ensure quality, potency, and purity. The oil is carefully batched using a patented molecular distillation and deodorization process for maximum freshness. Additionally, the fisheries we source from are certified for responsible and sustainable fishing by FOS (Friends of the Sea) — offering the essential health benefits of DHA for baby and peace of mind for Mom and Dad.”

What aspect of the Honest feeding collection are you most proud of? Is there a specific product(s) you’re most excited about?

“I believe the infant formula is special.  I worked for many years to ensure that our formula was scientifically researched and carefully crafted to meet the high nutritional standards established by the FDA and guidance of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  We carefully selected only high quality ingredients, without GMO (genetically engineered) ingredients, with dairy from trusted organic farms that abiding by the strict criteria of the USDA certified organic program to ensure premium sourcing and sustainable farming practices.  Of course

We are also proud of our Honest Natural Feeding Bottle, crafted from BPA, BPS-free medical-grade, soft-touch silicone.  We offer peristaltic nipples with a flex accordion design that allows babies to feed in a natural wavelike motion that mimics breastfeeding.  And the integrated, anti-colic tri-vent system allows for continuous feeding to reduce gas, colic, reflux, and spit-up.”

17 weeks- MyLifeWellLoved.com

How far along? 17 Weeks. In case you missed last week, here’s my 16 week report! (See below for my feeding questions, the NEW Honest Company feeding line AND….drumroll please our baby’s NAME!)

Total weight gain: 8 pounds

Maternity OOTD

Maternity clothes? I got in my maternity jeans (& the black top I’m wearing in this pic and a few other items I can’t wait to bust out!) and am thrilled that they look so normal! It is taking some time to get used to that elastic waist band though, I’m not gonna lie! I also purchased some clothes this week through a Facebook trading site.

 

basq maternity

 

Stretch marks? No, but I have started using my cream and oils to help prevent them!

Sleep: Knock on wood, it’s pretty peaceful but my stomach is starting to feel a little heavier.

Best moment this week:  SO excited for sunshine and the excuse to get out for walks and runs with the hubs and friends after work.

Miss Anything? This is going to sound weird, but I don’t even normally like oysters, but I wish I could have some right now.

Movement: No

Food cravings: Tonight at 8:45 I saw a picture of an ice cream cone on Instagram and the hubs and I HAD to make an impromptu trip to Mcdonald’s to get a vanilla cone.

Anything making you queasy or sick: No

Gender: Boy! We’ve decided on a name!! Leyton….middle name still to be decided. Eric and I have liked this name for a boy since the beginning of our marriage. Eric told me he like it from the Australian tennis player Lleyton Hewitt and ever since then it’s kinda just been a boy name we considered.

Symptoms: Sinuses due to allergens/spring blooms

Belly Button in or out? In

Wedding rings on or off? On

Mood: Feeling a little overwhelmed by all the options for registering, feeding, and how to go about what bottles, etc to use. Luckily, I’ve gotten some help with the feeding part from my friends at Honest, Co. You can read all about it below!
Baby is the size of: white onion

Looking forward to:  First baby shower tomorrow-with my Pure Barre girls!

An Honest talk about breastfeeding and formula and how it works

It seems like there is a LOT to learn about feeding baby, how long to feed, and how to involve your husband. I’d LOVE to hear your feeding tips below in the comments. Please clue me in on what worked well for you and if there’s anything you’d do differently in hindsight. Major thanks in advance!

Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by The Honest Company via MomTrends. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of The Honest Company or Momtrends.

Heather by Heather

White Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie

March 25, 2015 in Healthy Living, Recipes by Heather

All Natural White Chocolate Peanut Butter Strawberry Smoothie with Goji Berries and Flaxseed

I have to let you in on a little secret…and it’s called White Chocolate Wonderful. If you love white chocolate as much as I do, you are in for a real treat because I’ve found a healthier spin on getting in my white chocolate cravings. The White Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie!

You see, Peanut Butter & Co. makes all natural peanut butters and the ingredient list is only 7 ingredients long. There are no trans fats, no cholesterol, no hydrogenated oil, and no high fructose corn syrup, WIN!

Since I was a little girl, I have always loved White Chocolate. So much so, that my sweet mom went to the trouble to bake a cake from scratch every year to bring to my classroom on my birthday that was none other than white chocolate cake. Now, when I need my white chocolate cake fix, I usually head to Dreamcakes Bakery in Homewood to pick up their Over the Moon cupcake which may be one of the best sweets I’ve had in my life. YUM!

All Natural White Chocolate Peanut Butter Strawberry Smoothie with Goji Berries and Flaxseed

 

All Natural White Chocolate Peanut Butter Strawberry Smoothie with Goji Berries and Flaxseed

 

All Natural White Chocolate Peanut Butter Strawberry Smoothie with Goji Berries and Flaxseed

 

I took on the challenge to make my sweet tooth as healthy as possible last Sunday when a pregnancy craving hit! So, I pulled out all my most healthy ingredients: flaxseed, goji berries, and fruit and went to town with my blender. This recipe was so good and filling after a big lunch earlier in the day, that I made it my dinner.

In case you aren’t familiar with goji berries, some studies using goji berry juice found possible benefits in mental well-being and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, & quality of sleep. And flaxseed has shown evidence it may help reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. Talk about a powerhouse smoothie!

I have the Ninja Professional Blender so I just got out the single serving cup and filled it up half-way with almond milk, a few cubes of ice and then added in the other ingredients to my heart’s content.

5.0 from 1 reviews
White Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon Peanut Butter & Co White Chocolate Wonderful
  • Strawberries, sliced and stems removed
  • Almond Milk
  • 1 teaspoon flax seed
  • Ice
  • Handful of goji berries
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until desired consistency is met.

Get your White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter here: Peanut Butter & Co. – White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter Blended with Sweet White Chocolate AND make sure you head over to my Facebook page today to enter to win 2 containers for yourself! Thanks to PB & Co for sending me some product to try out, I adore it!

What is your favorite smoothie combo?

Heather by Heather

Facebook for Bloggers: The Basics

March 23, 2015 in Social Media by Heather

Facebook Tips for Bloggers: Get the basics of growing your Facebook pageWhether you’re a blogger or a business owner, or even wanting to launch a business one day, this post is meant to help you understand the basics of Facebook for your business. I was honored to speak on Facebook and Pinterest with the See Jane Write group on Saturday with my friend Bertha from Chic in Academia (who covered Instagram). I had so much to share on Facebook that I ran out of time…shocker, I know. ;) This girl loves to talk and to have group interaction! So, I promised the group at the session I would write out my best Facebook tips here for them to read and I’m hoping it helps some of you too!

If you’re a regular reader of MLWL and this post doesn’t apply to you, I won’t be offended if you don’t read it. Don’t worry, I’ve got baby bump updates, and a delicious smoothie recipe coming your way later this week! I personally love social media so much, that I do social media consulting, work in it as much as possible and truly enjoy it.

However, I’m also well aware there are so many forms of social media that it can be overwhelming. I’m focusing most of my efforts right now on Pinterest and Instagram. I do keep my Facebook page active because when you have something go viral on Facebook, the astounding traffic it sends right away is incredible and I also view Facebook as a place where I can personally interact with my readers by asking questions, learning what they need more of from the blog, and just seeing how their days are going. I love the personal aspect of Facebook, however due to many algorithm changes that Facebook has made in the past couple of years to allow them to monetize the platform, I assume most of my readers won’t see my content on Facebook. It’s sad but true.

The only way a lot of people will see your posts on Facebook are if they are frequently commenting, liking and sharing your content or if you have something that performs well that gets shown to more of your audience. You can pay for more people to see your content, however I haven’t found much value in that at this time for a specific blog post. The only reason I may pay for a boosted post is if I’m doing a webinar, launching a product, or changing something up big time. Without further ado, here’s the first part of my Facebook for bloggers series. Stay tuned for part two next week!

Here’s 5 Facebook Tips for Bloggers:

1. Get your profile right. In most cases, the picture in the profile should be you. If you look at big bloggers like Lauren Conrad or Cupcakes and Cashmere, you’ll see this is what they’ve done. If your face is your brand like Rachael Ray or Against All Grain, it’s important to let your audience personally connect with the photo. However, if your brand is more like Lululemon, or Pure Barre, of course, it makes sense to have your logo. I personally have my logo in the cover image (the larger image behind the profile picture).

-Include a clickable link to your blog in the about me section. It’s not rocket science, just make sure you’ve done it. ;)

-Make sure in your profile you tell your readers what you are providing THEM, it’s not just about you. They want to know if they’re getting recipes or if it’s a lifestyle blog touching on several topics so let them know what to expect and how you will make them a better mom, person, or better dresser!

2. Watch the trend setters. To be an expert in your field, you need to study. What are the best lifestyle bloggers in the biz talking about? You should probably be posting about it too or at least your own take on it. Be original but be on trend for what’s big in food, fitness, and holidays that your field touches.

3. Stay active! You should be posting to Facebook at least once a day. Find the amount that works for you. Some bloggers find more luck sharing 3 times a day while others do best posting 20!!!! times per day. Schedule your posts through Facebook at the beginning of the week if that’s what it takes to stay active. But remember, Facebook puts value on scheduling through their platform and usually shows it to more people than if you use an outside source to schedule. Facebook also owns Instagram, so make sure you share your Instagram posts to your blog’s FB page as it seems to get better reach as well.

-Look in analytics to see what type of posts are performing the best and do more of those. Video is ruling the FB world right now. Remember you can use easy programs like Flipagram to create videos on your phone from photos or share videos from others to increase your reach, so that people see your next post. The best reach for videos is when you upload them directly in the FB platform though.

-Post at the time of day your readers are online! Look in insights (posts) to see when this is.

4. Networking: No one likes someone who only toots their own horn. Share others’ related content on your Facebook page as well. You can join Facebook groups like Southern Girl Blog Building or SITS and if you can’t find a group that fits your niche, create your own. I created a lifestyle bloggers group for bloggers like me who have been blogging for a year or longer and have a larger social media following. (If you are interested in joining, you can email me for details if this fits you!)

It’s so important to join blogger groups on Facebook and find your tribe of a small group of people to bounce ideas off of, brainstorm and share each other’s content. Try to find like-minded bloggers in your same niche so you know that their community will be interested in your content, and vice versa.

5. Be self-deprecating, be real, and share your failures too. As you might remember from this post a week or so back, my FB audience ate it up because I wasn’t afraid to admit, I’m human too. The struggle is real, y’all. Talk like you would in real life on Facebook, that’s where people come to get to know you better. Let it out! :)

Jon Acuff: Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle

(Image)

Remember YOU determine your success, if you get 5 likes on a status, CELEBRATE if that’s big for you. We all have to start somewhere! I love this quote from Jon Acuff, “Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

Make sure to come back next Monday for my down and dirty Facebook tips part two. In the meanwhile, make sure to follow me on Facebook here! And if you’re craving more social media tips, you are in luck! I’ve rounded up some of the pro’s here in Birmingham with me to share you their best as well, so it’s like you a get a free mini-conference right here on all things social media!

Javacia from See Jane Write on: Linked In

Bertha from Chic in Academia on: Instagram

If you are thinking about starting a blog, check out using Host Gator for your website hosting & Jen from Munchkin Land Designs for my new blog design! They are who I use. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m just an email away and would love to hear about your blog or FB page you are thinking about launching!

What are your best Facebook tips?

Heather by Heather

16 weeks

March 18, 2015 in Lifestyle by Heather

Pregnancy Week 15

Week 14

Pregnancy Week 16

Week 16

Thank you all so much for your excitement about our new bundle of joy on the way! If you missed the big announcement, you can read it here. My goal is to share a little bit about my pregnancy each week so I can look back on this special time and remember each moment. I hope each of you enjoy the journey with me.

How far along? 16 Weeks
Total weight gain: 6 pounds…..this may be the only time I answer this question. ;)
Maternity clothes? Not yet! But I did order some clothes off of Pink Blush that should arrive later this week.

Stretch marks? No, but I have started using lotion each night as I keep watching my baby belly expand. Any lotion, cream or oil recommendations? I’ve heard good things about Basq and hope to try it out soon!
Sleep: I was waking up early every morning to have to go to the bathroom but now that’s subsided for a bit. Having very vidid dreams. I just seem to toss and turn a little more now.
Best moment this week:  Finally figuring out what to do about our stroller and car set…stay tuned for the details!

Miss Anything? Sleeping comfortably on my stomach and sleeping through the night. Although this week has been some better
Movement: No
Food cravings: Watermelon, Honey Goat Cheese, Dreamland Style Banana Pudding, lots of water!
Anything making you queasy or sick: No-the thought of drinking hot coffee early on did so I switched to half Diet Coke, half regular. I don’t remember the last time I drank so many cokes!
Gender: Boy!
Labor Signs: No

Symptoms: Tired some, less often than first trimester, but it’s still there. Some nerve pain. Potty breaks a lot.
Belly Button in or out? In
Wedding rings on or off? On
Mood: Excited
Baby is the size of: avocado
Looking forward to:  Baby’s first visit overseas next month
Fill me in on what I need to know about, moms! Please share any lotions, creams for preventing stretch marks, etc. Thanks!
Heather by Heather

Beauty Bits: Mineral Glow

March 16, 2015 in Fashion, Lifestyle by Heather

It’s about time to start breaking out your faux glow! After yesterday’s beautiful sunny day in the 70’s I’m ready for pretty bronzed skin! I’ve talked with you before about my favorite no fuss self tanners and those are still my go-to’s! I’m pretty open to all bronzers…using everything from Estee Lauder to Lancome to Maybelline, but my new go to for enhancing sunkissed skin is: L’Oreal Paris True Match Naturale All Over Mineral Glow in Nude Glow.

L'Oreal True Match Naturale All-Over Mineral Glow: The best drugstore brightenerMy friend Erin told me about it last summer and I’ve been a fan ever since. I use this product when I do contouring and when I want to add a little shimmer for a night out. I use it to highlight my collarbones, decollate, and shoulders but also hit on my brow bone, down the bridge of my nose (to make it appear thinner w/ bronzer on the outside), and on the tops of my cheeks under my eyes, as well as in a “trident” shape on my forehead. You can watch any contouring videos or see my pins about it on my Beauty Board to learn more about how to contour. According to L’oreal, here’s what all the mineral glow does:

Adds natural contour.
Silky texture.
All-over radiance.

If this is what you’re looking for in a product, I’ve got it ready for you to buy on Amazon right here! I use L’Oreal Paris True Match Naturale All Over Mineral Glow in the shade Nude Glow, but there are 4 colors total you can choose from.

If you want to check out my other Southern Beauty Bits contributors, make sure you check out The Style Gathering, my scoop, and style briefs!

Heather by Heather

Non-Negotiable Weekly Habits

March 15, 2015 in Healthy Living, Lifestyle by Heather

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its Advertiser. All thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone and should not be construed as medical advice. #24HourEsterC #CollectiveBias

Healthy Habits

Pure Barre Healthy HabitsIt can be so hard to fit everything in a day! Truly, between all the activities and jobs everyone has on their plates these days, it can be hard to fit in the must happen, hair on fire items, let alone the “good for you” things. I’ve had to force myself outside the fight or flight mentality when it comes to getting through my days and weeks to make these non-negotiable healthy habits become something I do without thinking. 

Here’s my Non-Negotiable Weekly Habits:

  1. Do my devotional/pray/spend time with the Lord at least 5 days a week. For non-Christians, you may want to consider time to relax, meditation or reading here….a time to quiet your mind and focus internally.
    Ester C
  2. Take vitamins/supplements. On my line-up is Ester-C for immune support; it’s important when you run around like crazy to support your immune system. One serving daily of 1000 mg of Ester-C® delivers up to 24-hours of immune support 365 days a year. *A women’s multivitamin (or for now folic acid and pre-natal vitamins) and lavender oil are also on this list.
  3. 8 glasses of water. I make this happen by ALWAYS having a water bottle on hand. It goes with me to the store, at my desk at work, and my goal is to drink at least 2 bottles of water each time I work out which knocks out half my intake for the day right there.
  4. Working out 4-5x/week. This is so critical for my mental health as well as my physical health. Pure Barre is how I de-stress and I love how much more mentally strong it makes me as well.
  5. Take 2 rest days each week from exercise. This is something new I’m incorporating. I believe it’s important to give my muscles that I work out so hard and so frequently true rest days to repair and recover.
  6. Eating clean 80-90% of the time. Depending on the week, my willpower, and my schedule, eating clean is what makes me feel best. Removing processed foods from my diet for the most part gives my body the energy it needs, while allowing me to satiate my sweet tooth for special occasions.
  7. Sleeping 7-8 hours a night. I believe it is important for my marriage to go to bed at the same time as my husband. Since I’m such a night owl, that takes some work for me, but there are so many proven health benefits to getting proper sleep.Ester-CThanks so much to Ester-C for sponsoring this healthy lifestyle conversation! Make sure you check them out on Facebook and Twitter. You can pick it up easily at your local Walmart, and you want to hurry because it is on Rollback!
    Ester-C Photo DisclosureWhat are your must-do or must-have healthy rituals? I’d love to hear them in the comments below?
Heather by Heather

Shattered & Perfect

March 11, 2015 in Faith by Heather

What God is Bringing You Through at this Very Moment

Something’s been on my heart lately. I’ve had this post in drafts for several weeks because I wanted to do it justice. But the truth is, I don’t feel like I can. Someone told me the other day that I live such a “glamorous life.” They told me how my Instagram pictures always look so fun, and exciting and how cool it must be to be a blogger, etc. I seriously almost started crying on the spot. Because the reality is, even though my life may look perfect on Instagram, it’s not. AND, no one’s is.

My amazing husband and I have gone through a tough season recently of waiting. Waiting on jobs, waiting on timing, waiting on a new home, waiting on God, just a true gray area. Both Eric and I are very Type-A, so we aren’t great at waiting. We love to plan, map out, and make things happen. I have felt needy, emotional, and confused, but the last thing I’ve felt lately is glamorous. And let me tell you, that pregnancy hormones certainly aren’t helping the situation!

On the other hand, while we’re waiting, we realize that we are so incredibly blessed. We both have solid jobs, we have our health, our family is amazing, we have strong friendships, and we have a baby boy on the way! And that makes me feel guilty for feeling sorry for myself. Because we have so much more than we could ever ask for!

I feel shattered, without direction, and totally frustrated I can’t rely on myself or my husband. Those are hard feelings to face. And then, God quietly reminds me I don’t have to rely on myself or any other human in my life. He is there. He is writing my story. He is knitting a baby in my womb. He is training Eric for his upcoming role of nurse practitioner and dad. He is giving me tokens of encouragement through His Word, through sermons I’ve heard, and even through Instagram quotes I see in my daily feed. And then it hits me like a tidal wave all over again…we’re all shattered. Even the strongest Christian I know, even the people I admire the most, even the top bloggers on Instagram with the beautiful feeds and 10’s of thousands more followers than I have…they’re broken too. We are all souls first, and Christ is needed by all of us. Outward beauty, pretty Instagram feeds, and the “glamorous life” are not real. Everyone has hurt and everyone has something going on behind their sweet southern smile. I’m just so thankful God has made my life perfect for me. Perfect in His timing. Perfect through covering me in His Son’s redemption.

I hope this helps you feel encouraged today. I’m nowhere near perfect, my life is chaotic, and we all have our own “stuff” to deal with. I’m just so thankful for a God who is bigger than all of it. And I’m thankful for this community that I get to touch every day. Thank you for being a part of my shattered and perfect life.

Heather by Heather

Pure Barre Velcro Tubes

March 8, 2015 in Healthy Living by Heather

Pure Barre velcro tubesYou walk into your Pure Barre class, look to the front barre to see what tube to grab and there they are…the dreaded velcro tubes. While they are enough to make your whole body start shaking upon sight, here’s a few tips and tricks to help you take with the tubes with that PB mindset of “can do!”

As a quick refresher, if you are new to Pure Barre or aren’t sure what it is, make sure you read my 10 Tips for Your First Few Pure Barre Classes. In a nutshell, Pure Barre is a workout technique that combines pilates, yoga, and ballet to help lift, tone, and burn women’s trouble spots into the best shape possible!

Pure Barre Velcro Tubes

3 Tips for Using the Velcro Tubes to Maximize your Pure Barre Workout:

1. You Can’t Cheat. The velcro tubes force you to hold that perfect posture, tuck, and everything else you should be doing without them. Think about the velcro tube almost like training wheels on a bike. They only stretch so far, so it’s easier to stay in correct form. If you can really use a velcro tube class to focus on getting better and perfecting your form, you can carry those thoughts into other classes with different equipment.

Don’t look down and don’t look forward. Basic physics means the tubes want to go to their relaxed state. To keep tension and find balance in the tube, look up and stand tall. This posture should already be used at the barre with any basic exercise. The tube is that accountability to make sure that we are doing it.

2. More Core, Less Arms. You should always lead with the core, and have the arms just follow.The tube is an extension of the muscle group you are targeting. Much like in the ab work exercise where you are rounded out against the wall and your leg moves, because your abs are contracting, the same case should be true any time you use the velcro tube. For instance, during ab work if your instructor tells you to press the tube down an inch, up an inch, that means to contract the stomach muscles back to your spine which reflexively makes the arm move for more resistance in the tube.

Clients make the mistake at first by just using their arms to press in the tube. The tubes make this a total body exercise. Your core-obliques especially-should continually be working. Your arms and legs are just an extension of the core so think core first, arms second. Does this mean you won’t ever feel this in your arms or back again? Not likely! ;) But what it does mean by activating your core-whether it be a thigh, seat, or ab exercise- you make the exercise about all the muscles in your body. The benefits to that are ENDLESS!

3. Straight Lines. You already know your back should be in a straight line by holding your tuck with the hips firmly rolled under the shoulders and the spine in a neutral position. But, with the Pure Barre velcro tubes, you also have to have straight lines all down your arms as well. This means no bend in the elbows, no break in the wrists and no bent or death grip fingers on the tube. Just one long, lean line to help you shape up that core and the arms just a little bit more!

Pure Barre Velcro Tubes

Lastly, do the Pure Barre velcro tubes equal a harder class? No. Pure Barre done in the correct form with intense muscle contractions should be hard even if you are just holding onto the barre. The velcro tube is your body’s accountability to use all your muscles in every exercise-and teaches you to engage constantly. Literally, it’s a great tool for your body to learn more about what it can do in 55 minutes.

At the end of the day, it’s less about the equipment and more about the form and technique. It’s so important to find the perfect form no matter what equipment you’re using! And remember, your own body weight is great resistance, so if you need to work without the velcro tube, or even the ball on a certain day, that’s ok too!

I have to constantly remind myself with the tube, it’s less about the arms, more about the thighs in thigh work….less about the tube in seat work, more about the seat…Mentally, the tube can be challenging in it’s own right. That’s yet another reason why I love Pure Barre though, it challenges me mentally AND physically even after taking for 5 years. It takes SO much to stay in those working positions the whole time. So, remember, close your eyes, deep breaths in and out and focus on the MUSCLE you are working, NOT the equipment, as always!

What are your favorite tips to help you get through all the work in Pure Barre? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

**Special thanks to Magen Davis Photography for the photos and special thanks to some of my favorite Pure Barre instructors for giving their input as well!

Shop the Look: Pants: Alo Yoga Goddess Legging | Top: Spiritual Gangster (on sale!) | Bracelets: Kate Morris Jewelry | All items also availabel at Pure Barre Birmingham

 

Heather by Heather

Casual Date Day Outfit

March 1, 2015 in Date Nights, Fashion by Heather

Casual Day Date Outfit

 

Casual Day Date Outfit - Kate Morris Jewelry

 

Casual Day Date Outfit - Kate Morris Jewelry

 

Casual Day Date Outfit - Kate Morris Jewelry

 

Casual Day Date Outfit- Kate Morris Jewelry

 

Casual Day Date Outfit- Kate Morris Jewelry

 

Casual Day Date Outfit

I adore living in the quaint little suburb of Birmingham called Homewood. I was born and raised in Homewood, went to Samford University, and we still live here (at least for a bit longer) and LOVE it. Eric and I always talk about how we’ll probably never live somewhere again as convenient as where we are now. We can easily walk to our local coffee house, a bar, Steel City Pops, Fabrik, Pure Barre, SOCA, Jinsei Sushi, Urban Cookhouse and even our local Piggly Wiggly grocery store. (And for those of you not in the south, yes, we actually have a grocery store named that!)

I don’t even know if it’s possible to put into words how cute, unique and historic downtown Homewood is. Since Eric isn’t a B’ham native, he always talks about how Homewood is unlike anything he’s seen before. “The strip” in the middle of downtown Homewood is on 18th Street and is lined with bustling boutiques, a weekly running club, and kids lusting in the window of the toy store. Downtown Homewood is surrounded by quaint little cottage style homes, many which are updated, with beautiful lawns and strewn with kid’s toys. Only a few blocks over is our newly renovated park, a rec center and a pool. Homewood really is pretty hard to beat!

One of Eric and I’s favorite casual day dates is to walk into downtown Homewood and grab a cup of coffee, or to grab a cold popsicle on a warm spring day. It’s a fun way to get out and get moving while taking in all the people out and about shopping and enjoying good foods! Exploring downtown Homewood on a sunny day is one of Eric and I’s favorite ways to get out and enjoy the afternoon! One of the things we love the most about a casual stroll date day is that you walk off the heavy feeling of any treat you grab along the way. There’s also great sights and people watching to take in as well as the opportunity to just talk at leisure. Walking is always one of my favorite ways to catch up with friends as well, due to the non-pressure to talk the whole time!

This outfit is inspired by a casual Homewood date day. Layers are good in the transition to spring, so make sure you grab a cute cardi or a light leather jacket to throw on for your date look! It was really important for me to pick some comfortable shoes since we were walking a lot, but I don’t want to throw on old tennies all the time so it was nice to have this cute little leopard flat for our walk. They are cushioned and great for all day wear! Our walk was only a mile or so, nothing too intense.

To make up this outfit, I paired a clearance top I got from Express -love the lace detail!- with simple ripped jeans and funky Kate Morris Jewelry. The long and short earring are really simple and elegant but the height difference really gives them a pop. And that arrowhead necklace? Simple but never understated! I have become a KMJ addict…adding to my jewelry collection pretty much monthly. The great thing about KMJ? She’s a local Homewood designer…pretty cool! I finished this outfit off with a pretty mint (my favorite color!) crossbody bag from FOSSIL at the Outlet Shops of Grand River. You may recognize that purse from my Look Grand for Less feature a few posts back.

Shop the Look: Sweatshirt with Lace: Express ON SALE! | Jeans: Joe’s Ripped Denim | Jacket: Old Navy Faux Leather  | Crossbody Bag: FOSSIL | Shoes: Sam Edelman Circus Leopard Flats | Jewelry: KMJ

Thanks to Magen Davis Photography for the photos!

What’s your favorite casual date and/or favorite casual date outfit?