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Monthly Challenge 3.4: Racing towards the finish line

 Hey friends! In case you missed last week’s post about giving grace to yourself, check it out. I gained some self-awareness and reset my goals a little bit so they were more reasonable. After that, I was sure that this week would be more manageable and I had the best of intentions to keep chugging along. But then life happened. We had so much crammed in this last week of summer – Matt’s birthday, a concert, wedding and bachelorette parties, and our last weekend road trip to San Diego – that it was hard to find the time to work out!

Unfortunately all these activities made me oversleep on Thursday morning and then on Friday and Saturday morning I wasn’t feeling well so I didn’t want to push it by working out. Sometimes being healthy means knowing your boundaries, amiright? Anyways, I do think I should get extra props for working out the morning of Matt’s birthday and making him breakfast. #wifepoints

Tuesday, Wednesday, and Monday mornings I continued with my workout, getting up to two sets of 43 reps for each exercise, 1 minute 45 for planks, and 8 mostly legit pushups. I’m so close to my goals! I was able to do 1 Nike workout in the midst of the craziness last week that ended up being about half an hour. And last night I ran around the track with a mile time of 11 minutes 45 seconds with one short break! Pray that I can actually make it to my mile time as I try again this week!

Guest Spotlight: Jaelyn Harrel

Jaelyn and her husband Josh and I have been friends since we all went to the same youth group in high school! It has been so fun to watch her journey of becoming a wife and mom, and now health coach! She has a really inspiring story, so I encourage you to connect with her on facebook here!

Q: Why is fitness so important to you?
A: This is a great question! I think my fitness is important to me because my health is so important to me. Most people don’t know this, but when I was losing weight the most exercise I did was walking and low impact activities (yoga, pilates, and day-to-day increase of calories). And let me tell you, back then fitness felt like a chore. I would walk away so sore, defeated (because I couldn’t complete all the exercises like the other girls), and so tired and hungry that I would just go and add back the calories I just burned. There are so many things I am able to do now 95 lbs lighter that I couldn’t ever have dreamed of doing before. Fitness actually gives me that feel good feeling right after and encourages me to continue fueling my body right throughout the rest of the day! Until I experienced what a difference nutrition AND exercise could have on my body I had no idea what I was missing. Fitness is a huge part of how I maintain a healthy lifestyle and feel good day in and day out.

Q: What helps you stay motivated?
A: This is the biggest question I get asked from other people. It might seem simple, but it’s a little thing called MY WHY! Your WHY is the most powerful thing you can discover for yourself. This is what fuels me in the morning to make healthy decisions even when it’s easier to not. Truth is, there are going to be days where you want to eat your weight in chocolate or you don’t want to go to the gym because of a plethora of different reasons and that’s where your WHY is so critical to your success in your health. I want to be healthy because I want to be the best wife, mom, and friend that I can be to those around me! We all deserve to feel our best and to live our best life each day. I know that when I fuel my body with the right foods, strengthen my body, and serve others around me to do the same in their lives, I feel most fulfilled, and when my cup is full others get the best of me. So I would encourage you ask yourself these questions next time you are having a hard time getting your butt to the gym or struggling with the drive through!

Q: What are a few of your favorite exercises?
A: This is a tough one! I really like different forms of exercise because of the different things they do for my body. Personally I’m a class girl myself. At first I wasn’t, but I found that in classes I got out of my comfort zone and discovered so many things I love. Through the structure of the classes I was able to push myself harder (I’m a little A LOT competitive) and work parts of my body I never would have been able to work before. So here are a few of my favs:

  • DANCE FITNESS! Just try dancing you heart out for 3 classes (I say 3 because the first time you are just going to feel awkward, but as you get to know the choreography you get in your groove) I promise not only will you body thank you but there is something amazing about doing something that makes you uncomfortable and self conscious and then realizing that no one is watching you! This is a great way to get cardio in and have a blast!
  • BARRE! Check out where you can take a local barre class. Barre is ballet-focused exercise and if you’ve ever seen a ballerina’s body and was envious (me!), you want to take barre! It’s a great exercise regiment that focuses on exhausting important muscle groups for women (legs, butt, and arms). Again this one will make you feel awkward the first time you do it, but take off your shoes (you can also buy special barre shoes) and enjoy the results when you have that booty you always wanted!

Q: What’s your favorite healthy recipe?
A: I have too many to count! It would have to be Cauliflower pizza. Super high in protein but doesn’t taste like cauliflower at all! They key is making the best consistency in the crust and this is the best recipe I’ve found for home made cauliflower crust! You also can purchase them at some Trader Joes stores now which is awesome! The best part is you can mimic pretty any pizza flavor you want! Usually my husband and I like to make thai chicken pizzas or even the classic bbq chicken pizza!

Q: Any other tips on staying healthy/fitness? 

  • WATER! If you only change one thing in your health routine from this post drink your water! Recommended daily amount of water is half of your body weight in oz of water (for example 140lbs means 70oz water/day) and this is straight up water! You can add things to it if you want, but remember everything you add can take away from the benefit of what that water can do! Don’t get me wrong I don’t just drink water (I’m a mom for goodness sake coffee is my jam!) but I always make sure I get my water in for the day no matter what! My skin is clearer than ever and you will be amazed at the de-bloating that will happen when you just apply this simple health tip!
  • COMMUNITY IS KEY! Surround yourself with people who will encourage you to be better each day. We are 10 times more likely to be healthy if we surround ourselves with people who hold health as a high priority! Make sure people know about what your health goals are so they can support you and help make you more successful and in turn themselves.

Thank you for letting me share just a little bit more about health and wellness with you guys! If you ever want get in touch, find me on FB or call/text 5033472764 and I would be honored to help you live your best life.

Thanks for sticking with me in my fitness journey friends! This week I’m going to keep pushing hard to meet my goals, so keep me in your thoughts and prayers! Stay tuned for next week to see if I made it!

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Monthly Challenge 3.3: Grace to fail

Hey friends! Thanks for checking back on my fitness progress. This week, it got real, and in the hopes of inspiring you I want to share my struggle.

Tuesday through Thursday morning went as planned, with me drinking water regularly, increasing my workouts in the morning, and doing my workouts at night. The Nike ones were pretty brutal this week. I was halfway through my workout Thursday night when I finally cracked. It felt inevitable, after going from not exercising at all to working out 11 times a week. I was determined, but miserable.

I knew this challenge wouldn’t be easy for me in lots of ways – it’s physical, it’s a big time commitment, and I really don’t enjoy it. What I didn’t realize was that this challenge would take an emotional toll on me as well. While I did dance and cheerleading for much of my life, I never did any “real” sports. I found much of my identity in everything but exercise – being an A student, choir, drama, art, church. Many of my friends love sports and almost everyone I know loves working out or at least doing outdoorsy things like hiking. Not me. I never could relate and always felt lesser when comparing myself to them, because it seems everyone in my life likes at least some part of that world.

It all came out when my sweet husband came out in the middle of my workout and told me I was doing a great job. I immediately burst into tears, because I fundamentally just felt like a big failure. I wasn’t doing a great job, I wasn’t seeing improvement, and I knew that I would probably never ever in my life enjoy or be good at this. The perfectionist in me was running myself into the ground because I told the internet I would do it, dang it.

After I calmed down a bit, I had to face the fact that for me this challenge is much more than another hobby to try. It’s also a challenge in giving myself grace when I fail and when I feel less than. Yes, God desires for me to live a healthy lifestyle and to take care of my body. But he also didn’t create me with a love for running, or hiking, or climbing stairs. And I have to hold both of those things together. I have to keep going and pushing myself, but I need to give myself grace so that when I fail, I can take a breather and then get back up again.

And that’s exactly what I did. After a short break, I ended up hiking Crystal Cove for Matt’s birthday on Saturday. I did the hike a few years ago and remember it being pretty difficult! It was pretty rough up a steep incline at one part, but overall I had much better stamina than the last time. Although it wasn’t necessarily a fun experience, I did feel encouraged that I didn’t totally feel like I was going to die, like I usually do on hikes.

So in an effort to be more realistic, I have adjusted my goals a bit! I will still workout in the morning 5 days a week, with the goal of 2 sets of 50 lunges, situps, squats and mountain climbers, a 2 minute plank, and 10 real pushups. I will workout four nights a week, 2 with Nike Training and 2 either dancing or on the track. I changed my mile goal to under 11 minutes, based on the fact that even though I just ran 75% of a mile (yay!) it was close to 13 minutes.

To all of you readers who feel like you can’t do something, whether it’s exercise or not, I encourage you to keep trying! Set new goals, keep going, and give yourself grace when you fail. See you next week!

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Monthly Challenge 3.2: Staying Alive

Hey friends, thanks for checking back for my first fitness update! Here is a sort of journal about how the week went. Enjoy!

Tuesday:

After waking up at 6, I did the morning workout but immediately felt sore afterwards and I knew it would be a long week ahead.

That night I did my first Nike Training workout, which was a test to see how fast I could complete a set of reps. I did reps of 20,  15, 10, and 5 of push-ups, burpees, and squat jumps. Although I was able to complete them, I have to admit I laid on the floor several times in near-hyperventilation. My face was bright red and I wondered again why the heck I am doing this. But according to my husband my muscles aren’t bad, I just don’t have good lungs! So hopefully we can fix that.

 

Wednesday:

Already sore from yesterday’s workouts, it was difficult to get up early and do it all over again. But I did, and increased each exercise by 5, so that’s progress! The school’s track was closed that evening, so Matt and I went to a nearby park to walk/run a mile. He quickly assumed the role of “motivational coach,” which was mostly helpful because I don’t think I would have pushed myself as hard, but it was also slightly annoying because I REALLY hate running. Not gonna lie, I felt pretty pathetic that I probably only ran about 1/3 of the mile and I’m supposed to run a full mile under nine minutes at the end of the month. No idea how that is going to happen.

Thursday:

This was when I really started feeling sore and had to push through the pain. I again increased my morning workout by 5 (yay) but the 30 minute Nike workout kicked my butt. It had a variety of exercises, some easier and some really hard. I probably did about 70% of it in all honesty, because at the end I just couldn’t. Thankfully the last few minutes was just stretching, my favorite part.

Friday:

Friday morning I did almost 5 more of everything in my morning workouts before I met up with my mom and sister for breakfast on their way back down to school in Arizona. That afternoon, I spent the majority of the afternoon attempting to learn this amazing dance to J Bieb’s Sorry by Matt Steffanina. I wanted to do something challenging, and back when I danced often I probably would’ve learned it pretty quickly. I learned probably about 80% of it, but the dance is so fast and complex at the end that it was difficult to master all the nuances. I definitely want to keep working on it and hopefully by next week I’ll have it down!

Saturday:

I woke up and did the same exercises as the day before with basically 0 desire to do so. But I did it! Honestly I just wanted to get it all over with so I could rest until Monday!

Monday:

I wanted to push myself a little more, so I did 45 lunges, sit-ups, mountain climbers, and squats, with 15 real pushups and a 1 minute plank! It was also the day I bumped up my water intake to 1.5 liters. I was able to tolerate it because I made some yummy strawberry basil flavored water inspired by these beautiful infused waters. Unfortunately I didn’t make it to the gym before it closed, but I was able to still do stairs on our parking structure (25 flights to be exact – yay me!). I also combined it with my track night, as I won’t be able to do my workout on Wednesday. I did one mile on the track with walking the rounds and running the long stretches. I did feel a little improved compared to last week! But I didn’t feel wonderful after that workout, let me tell you.

Guest Spotlight: Wendy Luikart 


Wendy has been a family friend for years and recently became a health coach at Beachbody! So I picked her brain about health and fitness!

Q: Why is fitness important to you?
A: Fitness became important to me initially because I wanted to feel better about myself. I complained year after year, but did nothing with lasting results. In January I found the right plan and the right support system… I slept better, had a sense of purpose, reduced my stress, and built new relationships. Finally!

Q: What helps you stay motivated?
A: I am not self-motivated (for any length of time over a week). My biggest source of consistency is having accountability partners and someone to work out with occasionally. I also love challenge groups where we do a video series in our own homes and talk through FB.

Q: What are your favorite exercises?
A: My favorite exercises involve videos or classes that are 30 min or less. I love Kickboxing, Body Combat, and Body Pump the most.

Q: What is your favorite healthy recipe?
A: My favorite healthy recipe? I just plain love food. Omelets, or oats with yogurt and fruit are my breakfast go-to’s. I’m crazy about making all kinds of Shakeology drinks, and I love BBQ veggies and meat. If you can’t tell, I’m not into taking too much time to prep food!

Q: Any other tips on staying healthy?
A: So many people looking to improve their fitness and overall health aren’t in the habit of finding time to work out and eat healthy. They say that they are incredibly busy, knowing they need to do something to get healthy, but feel unsure about their ability to fit it into their schedule. In short, they are afraid to commit. Everything about Beachbody is designed to help make fitness more convenient and effective for people in just this situation. As a coach I now help busy people get fit, reduce stress and have more freedom to enjoy life. For the ones interested, I train & mentor them in building their own online business and being a part of my team. Leading by example, helping others achieve their goals, and having fun along the way is how I plan to change the world around me one story at a time!

If you have questions for Wendy about fitness, feel free to email her at gluikart@aol.com!

Thanks for sticking with me the first week of this challenge! This is going to be a hard month, but hopefully all the work will be worth it! If you’re doing the challenge with me, I’d love to know about your progress, too. See you next week!

 

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Friday Favorites 8.16

Hey friends, welcome to round 3 of Friday favorites! This month’s is going to be vacation themed, since I just got back from a fun vacation in my hometown, Portland, Oregon! I had a blast going home with Matt and we even got to go to our first family reunion together (mine). It was a packed ten days, but such a nice break!

Downtown Portland

Where do I even begin? I love Portland. All the downtown districts, each with their own personality, the amazing coffee and food, and how naturally beautiful it is. I never truly appreciated Oregon’s beauty until I lived in LA for a few years, and now I really miss it. I spent a good chunk of one of my first days there traversing all the old places with most of my besties, and it was just good for my soul. Our first stop was La Provence for brunch, a cute french restaurant a few minutes outside of Portland. They have the best banana french toast! Then we drove downtown to visit Powell’s, the famous bookstore, and I got a book to help with one of my upcoming challenges as well as a fun book to read! Afterwards we walked along NW 23rd, home of the famous Salt and Straw. None of us locals wanted to wait in the crazy line that went around the block, so we did the smart thing and got two pints of ice cream to eat on the curb outside. The next day my sister Meleah and I took my cousins who were visiting from North Carolina to Nectar, our favorite affogato/fro yo place. Meleah and I have it down to a T – we always split a fro yo because they have great toppings and share a large affogato. It’s the best. I was bummed I didn’t get to visit any food carts, but that’s what next time is for, I guess!

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Yachats Beach Family Vacation

For five days of our trip, Matt and I were at a family reunion at the beach – with 18 people in one house! We’d never been to Yachats, but in typical Oregon coast fashion it was pretty cloudy and cold the whole time we were there, with an extra dose of crazy beach wind. Our house was just a few yards away from the ocean with just rocks in between. It was a pretty amazing view, which was nice since we were inside most of the time! Good thing we had lots of fun family games to play and I had a good book to read. We did have fun going to the Sea Lion caves, visiting Thor’s mouth (basically a huge hole in the beach rocks that fills and empties with the waves), and going on a crazy dune buggy ride! That was the best part of the whole trip. It felt like a roller coaster, but you had no idea what the driver  was going to do next. My cousin and I were screaming in the back having the time of our lives, even though sand was flying everywhere. We learned later that we were going over 400 foot sand dunes at 65 mph. I secretly kind of wanted the dune buggy to flip over as we went around a turn, but it didn’t happen. I would highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance!

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So. Windy.

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Almost all the grandkids!

Fun family games to play!

  1. Spoons. Always a classic, and with my family it gets real intense real quick. I made the mistake of playing with plastic knives with a friend once, and I learned my lesson real quick when I accidentally cut his finger as I yanked the knife out of his hand. #imnotcompetitiveatall
  2. B.S. Britney Spears. Baloney sandwich. Whatever you call it, it’s a great poker face game. I learned there are lots of little liars in my family with this game!
  3. Exploding kittens. It’s a very random game based on different cartoon cats that remind me of the show adventure time (which I find creepy.) But it’s a really fun, lighthearted yet suspenseful game to play with friends!
  4. Spyfall. This is my new favorite game.  It’s similar to mafia – the premise of this online game is that everyone is assigned a role at a specific location, like the movie theater, for example, except for the spy. Players have 8 minutes to ask questions to figure out who the spy is, and for the spy to convince everyone they are not the spy while trying to figure out where everyone is. Everyone in our family loved it, from grandma and grandpa to aunts and uncles to all the cousins. We spent hours playing it.

Vacation books

Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes. It just came out as a movie, but I wanted to read the book before watching it. I started reading it two weeks before vacation, which was kind of a mistake because I was so into it I finished 2/3 of it the first week. So I made myself stop and not read it until I got on the plane to come home. But I knew I would finish it on vacation, so I picked up the second book, After You, while I was at Powell’s. I’m so glad I did! My cousin stole the first book at the beach house and started reading at the same time as me, but she finished in less than two days. It is THAT good. It’s the story of a british girl in her late twenties who gets laid off and finally lands a job as the caretaker of a young, witty yet moody quadriplegic guy. Although it’s an uncomfortable job at first, eventually she worms her way into his life despite his best attempts to put her off, and her life is changed as well because of him. The books are well-written and a breeze to read through – perfect for summer!

More food, family, and fun

On our last day at home, all the family who were still in town went to the Bollywood Theater for Indian food, which is amazing. They have the best Chai tea. We came last summer when our family was visiting, too, I hope it becomes a tradition! Then we stopped by Late Shake, a pop-up milkshake shop that my cousin Taylor started a few blocks away. It was pretty amazing. The freckled woodblock mocha was the bomb. If you’re ever in Portland, check him out! Finally, we ended up back at my house watching Eddie the Eagle (a fun underdog story) outside on our projector. It was a great way to end such a fun week.

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Did you have any fun vacations this summer? What were your highlights? Leave a comment below! And if you’re ever in the Portland area, your girl here knows just the places you should go! I hope you enjoyed getting a little taste of my Oregon Vacation. See you next Tuesday for an update on my fitness challenge!

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Feet of an athlete running on a deserted road - Training for fitness and healthy lifestyle

Monthly Challenge 3.1: Flab to fab

Hey friends! I hope you enjoyed last month’s challenge and it inspired you to get creative! Speaking of inspiration, I’m really going to need some this month during my fitness challenge. Words like run, gym, workout, and cardio are not in my vocabulary. In fact I usually avoid those things at all costs. It’s not that I’m a couch potato, it’s just that me and working out have never gotten along in my 23 years of life. I just don’t get why people put themselves through it. But deep down I know that fitness is important, helps you have a healthy life and and all that. So I decided that for the month of August (hottest month of the year, what was I thinking?) I would suck it up and attempt to dive into the world of fitness. Each week I’ll post a recap of the workouts I did each day to measure my progress (or lack thereof, but hopefully not!).

For six days out of the week, I will be doing morning workouts at home and increase the difficulty each week. This week, I’ll spend my mornings doing:

  • 15-20 Lunges
  • 20 Sit ups
  • 10 Pushups (ashamed to say they will have to be the girly ones for this first week)
  • 25 Mountain climbers
  • 45 sec Plank
  • 15-20 Squats

At night time, I will mix up the workouts a bit!

  • Monday: Gym day! I hate going to the gym because I just know I look like an idiot on every single piece of equipment. But since the college students aren’t back from summer yet, I don’t feel too awful using the school’s little gym.
  • Tuesday: Nike+ Training Club app. Many moons ago (as in freshman year) I used to do these workouts with a friend in my dorm – she was also afraid of the gym – and they were actually pretty helpful! It’s a great app with lots of different workouts that has instructional videos and reads out the exercises as you go. Check it out!
  • Wednesday: Walk/jog the track. The thing I hate more than the gym is running. It just is exhausting and I have basically zero stamina so it gets real discouraging real quick. But I’m doing it for you, blog followers!
  • Thursday: Nike Training Club again. I already created my plan for the next month and will post about it as I go along!
  • Friday: Fun day. The one type of exercise I do love is dancing. I’ve done it my entire life and it’s one of my favorite activities. I will be looking up and learning different instructional dance videos on youtube because they are so much fun! And I’ll post the links in my blogs.

Goals by the end of the month (mostly set by my husband):

  • Drink 2 full liters of water per day (the amount of water I normally drink can be found in my coffee each morning)
  • 10 pushups without stopping
  • 2 sets of 50 sit ups with 1 minute break
  • 2 sets of 50 lunges with 1 minutes break
  • 2 sets of 50 mountain climbers with 1 minute break
  • 2 minute plank
  • 40 squats
  • Run a mile under 9 minutes
  • Stairmaster 100 flights
  • Cycle 5 miles
  • Master 3 dances

Although this month is going to be a real challenge for me, I really want to prove to myself and to other people who don’t like working out that it can be done! And it’s always easier when you have a buddy, so I’d love if you would do this challenge with me! See you next week!

 

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Monthly Challenge 2.4: Crate Nightstands

Hey friends! Are you ready for my final DIY challenge? Because I’m super excited about it. A few weeks ago I was visiting my cousin and her husband in their cozy Santa Barbara apartment and was super impressed that she had made a coffee table out of crates from Michaels! While I loved the coffee table and wanted to recreate it, I realized we didn’t really have anywhere to put it in our apartment. BUT we did really need some nightstands! We have been using stacked boxes for the last 6 months and, while functional, they aren’t the best furniture #newlywedlife. So I brainstormed and came up with a way to use the same crates to make some thrifty nightstands!

The crates were fairly cheap at $10, but I had to be a bit of a diva in the store and stack and re-stack them on top of each other to get the best alignment possible. I may have pulled out 90% of the crates from 3 shelves while Matt stood a few feet away pretending he didn’t know me. Needless to say, they aren’t the most precisely measured crates, but they worked for my purposes!

Next we took a trip to Home Depot and it took me back to the days when my dad bribed my sister and I to go on Home Depot trips with the smooth floors we could use our Heely’s to skate on. Remember those? Best shoes ever.

After an hour of wandering around looking at various ways to hold the crates together and stains, I finally decided on wood glue and a dark glossy stain in a spray can. We also got sandpaper to remove the splinters in the crates.

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After sanding down the crates, we brought them inside and glued them together, then weighted them down with all of Matt’s super heavy science books. The perfectionist in me got a little frustrated that the crates still wouldn’t line up perfectly, but what can you do.

Action shot – at this point Matt asked if the paint fumes were getting to me…. haha.

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Before and after!

 

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I was so excited to finish this project and FINALLY have nightstands that look great for cheap! I think we spent about $25 per nightstand, which was definitely worth the upgrade from the boxes! The DIY challenge will definitely be one of my favorites and a hobby that I am going to try hard to continue. Drumroll for next month’s challenge….

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I can tell you right now this month will definitely be a challenging one for me, but I’m holding on hope that it will make me a more well-rounded person. See you next Tuesday!

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Monthly Challenge 2.3: DIY Honey Lemon Scrub and Mask

Hey friends! Today I have not one but TWO DIY challenges to share with you! They both have honey and lemon in them and were really fun to try.

First was a homemade face mask. I looked around online for a few suggestions and read up a bit on which food item does what on your face. According to some dermatologists interviewed by Buzzfeed, egg whites tighten your face, honey soothes and softens it, and lemon juice is antibacterial. I surprisingly had all those in my kitchen even though I haven’t gone grocery shopping for two weeks…oops.

First I mixed an egg white and 1/2 tablespoon each of lemon juice and honey. However my honey was a little bit gritty so I thought to myself, “I know how to fix that – in the microwave for a few seconds!” But while the honey grains disintegrated, the egg whites cooked and I got a nice fluffy egg topping for my face mask. No thank you I do not want my face smelling like cooked egg. Good thing I had one last egg for a do-over.

First mixture: cooked egg                Second mixture: much better

Good thing I had a handy makeup brush to put it on my face! The consistency of it was pretty watery, so it was a little hard to make it not drip off everywhere. Once it dried, I decided to add another coat. Unfortunately it wasn’t the satisfying peel-off kind of mask, but it did make my skin feel better! DIY masks are always fun to do, no matter how crazy they are.

My second challenge was a Honey Lemon Sugar Scrub, which was also a lot of fun! I just used honey, lemon juice, white sugar, and olive oil for it. I started off with about a cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of honey (pre-warmed) and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. But it didn’t produce very much, so I just added things in until I was satisfied with the amount and consistency.

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Once I had enough, I put it into a little sauce jar I happened to have handy and made it all cute-looking. So far I’ve used it on my hands and legs and it feels great! It smells good, it’s exfoliating, and it leaves your skin very silky. This would be a great gift to make for someone as well!

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I have to say, DIY month is probably going to be one of my favorites. And heads up, I have something great planned for the finale next week – you won’t want to miss it! If you follow me on instagram @shortandsweet_blog or twitter @shortandsweet you may get a little sneak preview🙂 That’s all for now, see you next week!

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Monthly Challenge 2.2: Paper Bead Jewelry

Monthly Challenge 2.2: Paper Bead Jewelry

Hey friends! This whole last week was spent on this DIY challenge, but it was worth the effort! For a while, I have been really fascinated by beautiful paper bead jewelry from 31 Bits, a non-profit organization that helps women in Uganda make a living. Definitely take a second to check them out! Unfortunately they are a little on the spendy side, so I made it my mission to figure out how to make them myself.

After researching a few methods online, I decided to try making it with wrapping paper, skewers, nail polish, and glue. You would think making paper beads would be easy, but it’s actually a lot harder than it looks. I have a whole new respect for these bead makers now!

First I played around with cutting different lengths and thicknesses until I got the bead how I wanted it. I cut about 30 strips of the flowery white wrapping paper with a 1″ base and about a foot length. I measured points 1″ at the top that were offset 1/2 an inch from the points at the bottom and then drew a straight line in between, making a bunch of skinny triangles. For the blue beads, I wanted them smaller but more round, so I measured them 1/2 an inch across and a foot and a half long. At this point I realized that the huge beads on some 31 bits necklaces must be about a mile long in length to be so thick!

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So. Many. Strips.

After cutting everything, I rolled the end around the skewer. While it seems simple, it was actually kind of hard to wrap the paper tight enough around the skewer AND make sure the paper was always in the middle instead of veering off to the side as I rolled.

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I rolled several beads on one skewer stick and coated them all with nail polish. However, when I took them off the next day, some of the beads shifted so they were off center and I had to re-coat them again. I quickly learned that while nail polish would add a nice gloss, it wasn’t that great at holding the bead together. So I added glue periodically as I rolled and coated with mod podge, which worked a lot better.

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Looks like a wand from Harry Potter, amiright?

After several days of rolling and gluing and drying, all that was left was stringing the beads together. I used some elastic string and glass beads to break it up a bit. At first I thought about combining the two colors, but I ended up thinking they looked better separate. I did add a white accent bead to the blue bracelet wrap (not because I ran out of blue beads or anything…). I love that this jewelry goes great with so many things – I even wore it for the first time to work yesterday!

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Although it looks complicated, this craft was a blast to make! And you can make it out of anything, from scrapbook paper to newspaper to brown bags. If you have time this summer, give it a try and let me know how it goes! See you next week!

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Monthly Challenge 2.1: Drawer Organizer

Monthly challenge 2.1: Drawer Organizer

Hey friends! I hope you had a fun Fourth of July weekend! We had a great time boating and swimming with friends. I totally got whiplash while tubing but it was worth it. AND I tried wake surfing for the first time! Look at me being adventurous.

To start off my DIY challenge month, I thought of what home improvements I could do myself and immediately our messy kitchen utensil drawer came to mind. We all have one of those drawers right? I wanted to actually be able to find things when I need it, so I decided to make drawer organizers with some boxes we have.

First I tried to pull out my drawer to measure, but whoever configured our apartment put the oven right in front of it so you can’t pull it out all the way and this was my face 😑.

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But I did my best with Matt’s measuring tape and eventually figured out the lengths to cut. Next I organized my utensils according to size so I could eyeball how far apart I needed to make the dividing walls.

Monthly Challenge  2.1: Drawer Organizer
The cardboard I used was too thick for scissors, so I had to use a box cutter. But first Matt gave me firm instructions on how to use it and said that he “did not have time to wait in the ER with me and he better not catch me doing it wrong” since he had his final chemistry exam the next day. See how I carefully cut away from myself.

Monthly Challenge  2.1: Drawer Organizer

I probably should have measured and spaced all the dividers out first, but I put them into the drawer one by one. Since the cardboard wasn’t too sturdy, I made cross slits so they could connect with each other. After I made the frame, I covered the dividers in wrapping paper so they would look pretty. And voila, DIY cardboard organizer! I didn’t even follow Pinterest instructions🙂

 

Hope you enjoyed my first DIY project! I think this will be one of my favorite challenges so far and a great outlet for my creative side. Stay tuned for next week’s challenge update!

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Friday Favorites 7.16: Rocksbox

Friday Favorites 7.16

Happy first Friday of July everyone! I hope you have some great 4th of July plans! This year is the first in a long time that I won’t be spending it in the Northwest boating with my family and friends. Every year we go tubing on the river and always try to shove each other off the tubes. It gets real crazy. But it’s always worth the rope burns and bodies that feel like rubber the next day.

Although we won’t be home for the 4th this year, we are excited to spend it visiting our friends that just moved! Thankfully we will still be on a boat, so at least we won’t die in the heat. I’m also excited to visit because they just got THE CUTEST little puppy of which Matt and I are self-declared godparents. It will take so much self-control to not take him with us when we leave.

Anyways, I have some great new favorites to share with you this Friday! Enjoy!

RocksBox
By now, we’ve all heard of different subscription services, consisting of everything from healthy snacks, to makeup samples, to dog treats. But RocksBox is incredible. It’s a jewelry subscription where you pay $20/month for 3 pieces of fantastic jewelry with unlimited swaps. It’s basically like getting new jewelry every month and then instead of losing it in your jewelry box you just exchange for new jewelry. And if that’s not enough, you get a $10 credit every month to buy jewelry for lower than retail prices if you want to keep anything!

How it works: You choose from a wide variety of pieces from designers like Kendra Scott and put them on your wish list, then your own stylist will put together a collection for you based on your wish list and what they think will go together! You can leave feedback on each piece for your stylist so that they can tailor to your taste. Everything about this company is personalized. It’s brilliant. And they even send you the return label to send it back!

My boss had been talking about this service for a month and I decided I had to try it. And thanks to a promo code, my first month was free! I was so thrilled to get my first box and see those beautiful Kendra Scott earrings that seem to be everywhere! Here are a few pictures from my second box. I wasn’t a huge fan of the earrings, but that is what the feedback option is for. Anyways, I was super impressed with the customer service and fun jewelry and would definitely recommend it!

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Cafe Veronese
A few weeks ago, I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon with Mary, one of my best friends from home who was in the area. Our birthdays are a few weeks apart, so we took the opportunity to celebrate together! I took her to one of my favorite places, Cafe Veronese. It’s an eclectic, artsy cafe in the bottom floor of a house with a sprawling garden and lots of little cozy nooks. I love going there because it reminds me of the hipster cafes and boutiques at home in Portland. The link above has some great pictures🙂

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Anyways, we had a great time sipping Korean-style iced coffee and eating a huge waffle ice cream sandwich. I know it looks like I ate it all by myself but I’m not that greedy. It was so fun catching up with her at one of my favorite places! I hope you all can take advantage of the summer weather and spend some time with a friend somewhere you love, too!

New Summer Song
If you need a new song for your summer playlist, I have the perfect one! Justin Timberlake’s new song, Can’t Stop the Feeling, is the essential summer song, whether you’re at a party with friends are singing along in the car. Every time it comes on the radio in our car I immediately start dancing because I just can’t help it. I even have somewhat choreographed moves now (which Matt is super embarrassed about, which makes it even more fun). And the music video is so cheesy, yet so fun. Take a listen!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
Asked to bring food to the 4th of July party? Kids are bored 2 weeks into summer and need something to do? Need to satisfy your sweet tooth? I could keep going but I don’t think you need more reasons to make these cookies. I made my first batch of Chewy  Chocolate Chip Oatmeal cookies a few weeks ago (I took a risk and made a double batch of about 50) and it was a great choice. Matt loves oatmeal raisin cookies but I just don’t understand why you would want to ruin something as amazing as cookies with raisins. That’s just crazy. So I found a good compromise recipe that substitutes chocolate chips instead and I hit the jackpot. Everyone loved them! They were surprised at how well the cinnamon and chocolate mixed together for a unique twist on a classic cookie. I think this will be my go-to from now on!

Love Kindness
Last but not least, I love this book written by the president of my alma mater, Dr. Barry Corey. Counter to today’s argument culture in which conclusions are made and walls are put up quickly, Dr. Corey’s book is about living in the way of kindness. He has inspired me to be receivable to others, to “have a firm center with soft edges,” as he often says. Here’s a little description from the site:

Kindness is not what we have been taught it is. It isn’t a soft virtue, expressed only by sweet grandmothers or nice Boy Scouts. Kindness is neither timid nor frail. Instead, it is brave and daring, willing to be vulnerable with those with whom we disagree. It is the revolutionary way that Jesus himself called us to live. The way of selfless risks. The way of staggering hope. The way of authenticity.

The book is a collection of stories with inspiring messages and a quick read. I highly recommend adding it to your summer reading list!

That’s all for this month, I hope you all have a wonderful July!

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