Being Intentional

I have taken on a challenge. A blog that I follow regularly (The Thrifty Couple) put up a challenge at the beginning of last year, called Be Intentional. The goal is to take 30 baby steps that will help you live your life more effectively. I decided to take on this challenge about a week ago. I modified some of the challenges to be more specific to my family’s situation, and I’m completing the modified challenges in the order that works for me. You can find the Thrifty Couple’s list of challenges here, but for MY blog, I’m going to focus on using my modified challenges. Because I started about a week ago, I have already gotten through several of them. Over the next few days I will discuss the challenges I’ve conquered, but for now I will just list the challenges I’m going to be attempting.

#1- Consistent bedtime
#2- Consistent wake up time
#3- Make the bed every morning
#4- Get dressed every morning
#5- Stay properly hydrated
#6- Stretch every morning
#7- 20 minute quick clean
#8- Meal planning
#9- Dinner by 10
#10- Take vitamins daily
#11- Replace store bought foods with homemade bulk versions
#12- Develop a nighttime routine
#13- Write out a detailed daily schedule
#14- Complete financial summary questionnaire
#15- Home map for complete clean out and organization
#16- Clean off bathroom counters and do a daily wipe down
#17- Find out what is sabotaging my day and stealing my time
#18- Create a budget
#19- Create price comparisons for frequently purchased items
#20- Make revisions to daily schedule
#21- Create debt overview
#22- Complete debt payoff and goal planner
#23- Find 2% to cut from budget
#24- Set extra income monthly goals
#25- Brainstorm extra money making ideas
#26- Use the THRIFTY weekly planner
#27- Put together home/finance binder
#28- Replace store bought cleaners with homemade versions
#29- Develop a chore system
#30- De-clutter challenge

Stay tuned for more information about these challenges and how I’m doing with them!

Pure Barre

So I know I haven’t posted in a looong time, but a got this spiffy little quick post widget for my phone, so putting in a blog post is about as easy as updating my Facebook status. So we shall see how often I post now…

So today… I’m talking about Pure Barre. Its a workout that’s basically a fusion of yoga, pilates, and dancer’s stretches and exercises. I’d heard about it several times and decided to get online to check it out. I was pretty surprised when I watched some sample videos because during most of the exercises, the movements are so small that you can barely tell they’re moving at all.

I couldn’t imagine that an exercise where the movements are so minute could be particularly effective, so I started reading reviews for the method itself and the Pure Barre home workout dvds. From everything I read, this seems to be a pretty solid, effective method for toning muscles to give you that lean, dancer’s body. I did read a few reviews written by actual dancers or people who were very familiar with this style of workout that seemed to indicate that Pure Barre wasn’t as challenging as some other barre method workouts. However, there were also a lot of reviews stating that for someone who has no experience with this method, it may be difficult. I figured that for me, this would probably be just the right balance between challenge and attainability.

So I went online to the Pure Barre website and ordered some dvds and equipment.

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I purchased the collector’s edition that came with this equipment and 8 dvds. I also purchased the prenatal dvds.
A review of the equipment: the Pure Barre ball (which I haven’t inflated yet!), the 3 lb weighted sand ball, the double resistance band, and the resistance ring. They also use an exercise mat in the videos, which are available on the site, but I have my own yoga mat already. In every video (that I’ve seen so far, anyways) there is a section of the workout which utilizes a stable surface. In Pure Barre studios, they have actual ballet barres. They also sell wall mounted and door mounted barres on their site, but I have a kitchen table, and that’s good enough for me!

As far as the dvds go: there are two dvds for each location that they filmed at.

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I have yet to make it to any of the “2″ dvds, but apparently the premise is that the second disc is a little more challenging than the first. The workout for each location focuses on a different area of your body, though it seems as though they all have sections for abs, upper body, thighs and seat. Each set of dvds also uses different equipment. I like having all of the videos because it makes the workout for each day different… its filmed in a different studio, there are different “backup workout partners”, and it uses different equipment. Keeping things new every day makes the workouts stay interesting and makes me want to do them.

Now the important part: video content. Some of the reviews had complained about low production quality, and while these aren’t the highest quality recordings I’ve ever seen, the quality is not bad enough that it effects the content at all. The music isn’t what I necessarily would have chosen myself, but I like that its upbeat and there are no lyrics. It definitely helps you stay motivated and focused on what the instructor is saying.
Carrie Rezabek Dorr is the instructor, and also the creator and CEO of Pure Barre. I really like that she’s a no-nonsense, get down to business kind of girl. Once you hit play, there isn’t all kinds of excessive chatter- you just get right into the workout. She is very clear and encouraging in her direction. She lets you know how long you have left of each exercise, which really helps you to push through to the end. She does have a bit of a bouncy, bubbly air about her, but I find that endearing.
The workout itself was quite a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. Each exercise focuses on a very specific body part, and the movements tend to be very small. At first I didn’t think that such small movements could really give you a workout, but my mind changed during the first section of the first dvd I used. Within 10 minutes I was feeling the burn. For that first day, I had to slightly modify several workouts because my muscles were shaking and threatening to give out. I have had to continue to modify all of the ab workouts due to my pregnancy, but I find if I use a small inflatable ball under my lower back for support, I can still keep up with the dvd.
I had mentioned that there are several sections of the workout, each focusing on a different body part. Because we’re going for a toned, lean look rather than bulk, there is a warm up stretch, a cool down stretch, and a targeted stretch after each section. I personally don’t feel as though the stretching part lasts as long as I would like, but this could be due to my current lack of flexibility and some back and hip problems that I have. To solve this problem, I do a 10 minute yoga warm up before I start the Pure Barre dvd, and a 10-15 minute yoga cool down stretch after the dvd. I find that this extra, slow paced stretching really helps loosen up the tension in my muscles. Like I said, I just finished day 3, and from the muscle fatigue I was experiencing DURING the workout, I would have guessed that I was going to be INCREDIBLY sore the next morning. However, I believe due to the extra stretching, I’m feeling great! I have just enough soreness in my muscles to let me know that the exercises are effective, but not enough to discourage me from doing a workout the next day. According to Carrie, you need to do a session 2-3 times a week, and you’ll notice changes in your body within 10 sessions. So far, I have done one session a day (for the last 3 days), and I’m planning to continue doing one session a day. I find that the hour of exercises (10 minutes of yoga, 40 minutes of Pure Barre, 10 minutes of yoga) is just the right amount for me. However, I may end up doing this yoga/Pure Barre routine every other day, and supplementing with yoga or pilates for the other days.
The only other thing I can think to talk about would be the dvd features. There is a menu option that walks you through proper body positioning for each exercise, which is very helpful for a first timer. I aslo really like that you have the option to play through the entire workout from start to finish, or you can select specific sections to play. This will especially come in handy later in my pregnancy when I may have to skip out on the abs section entirely.
In an overall assessment of the technique, the dvd production, equipment, instructor, and value, I’m definitely happy with my purchase. First of all, there are no Pure Barre studios in my state at all, so that alone eliminates studio classes as a possibility for me. Even if there WAS a studio near me, I would pay the same amount for 10 classes (to START seeing results) as I did to OWN 10 dvds and the 4 recommended pieces of equipment. I think that alone makes the purchase worth it. So far, I’m finding the exercises doable, yet challenging enough to keep my muscles working. And with 10 dvds to choose from, I won’t be getting bored any time soon!

I do want to mention that all of these thoughts and opinions are my own, the purchase was my own, and I haven’t been endorsed or supported by anyone encouraging a positive review. I gave a positive review simply because I am very happy with my purchase, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

I’ll have to check back in a few weeks to update on my progress!

It’s snowing… inside!

Wow, I am up to my eyeballs in crocheted snowflakes! I’m making them to use as gift tags for my Christmas presents, so I’ve got a lot to make. Last night while I was working on one I realized just how tedious of a process it is… First, I have to string 250 impossibly small beads onto the thread.
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Then I have to crochet it, remembering to slide beads onto the correct chains. That leaves me with this floppy snowflake.
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After I weave in the ends of the thread, I have to lay it out flat on my wax paper covered pizza box and put 42 pins in to shape it (or more if its an uncooperative snowflake.) image

Then to stiffen it so it keeps its shape, I paint it with clear glue, and sprinkle it with super fine white glitter. I got frustrated last night because the glue was drying too fast, so the glitter wasn’t sticking very well. So I just dumped the glitter into the glue, and now its like glitter paint, which saves me a step and wates less glitter. Once the pinned, glued and glittered snowflakes has dried for at least 12 hours, I unpin them, flip them over and give the other side a quick coat of glitter glue. The second application really helps keep it nice and stiff, plus it adds some sparkle to the other side. Once that side dries, the snowflake is done! image

Now I just need to attach a ribbon or a thread or something to hang them with and these ones are ready to go! I am super happy with how they turned out. I think the little pops of color from the beads is just awesome.
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I’ve completely finished 9… Out of the 50 that I need to make. Yikes. I need to get a move on if I’m gonna finish them all in time! The original snowflake pattern I used can be found here. I made a few minor adjustments in the beading and blocking, but when I saw the original design, I knew I was going to be making that snowflake. Well, I gotta get back to it…..

Christmas, here I come!

I know its not even Thanksgiving yet, but when you’re handmaking all of your Christmas gifts, you have to get started early. This year my general theme for gifts was hats. I’m making all kinds of crazy hats. I’m not gonna post pictures yet, cuz I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but the ones I’ve finished so far have come out awesome!

Let me just say that I LOVE giving gifts. But at Christmas, when there are so many gifts to give, there’s just not time for me to crochet/knit something for everyone on my list. But I still want them to have a handmade, heartfelt gift. So besides the mass production of delicious holiday treats that takes place in my kitchen each year, I spent a lot of time coming up with some great ideas for gifts. Like a calendar made with hand and footprint art from my kids. And my favorite is the beaded crochet snowflake ornaments that I’m using as gift tags.

This was my first ever attempt at crocheting with beads or thread, so I’m pretty ecstatic about the final results.

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I’ve got a bunch of different colored beads, so that will help make each snowflake unique and interesting. Needless to say, I’ve been spending a good deal of time finishing gifts, but I was just so excited about this first snowflake that I had to share. Can’t wait till after Christmas so I can post the rest of the pictures!

Our Hearts 5k

Today I completed my first 5k! Granted, I walked most of it, it required lots of effort and I am SERIOUSLY worn out, but it was a fantastic experience. In my defense, I was pushing a double stroller with both of my children on board, which was like 70 extra pounds!

The Our Hearts foundation raises money to help provide memorial services and funerals for families in the central Maine area who have experienced a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death. They also provide a network of people who understand this pain and support families that are going through it.

This cause is very close to my heart, since I had a miscarriage on September 20, 2011. I was 7 weeks along. It was a devestating thing to go through, especially because I felt so alone. So naturally, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in this fund raising event.

The day was fantastic! There were so many businesses and individuals that donated and volunteered, so everything went really smoothly. They had tons of prizes, and every participant got a grab bag that was full of all kinds of goodies. I was able to include a business card and coupon to my new website (fromraychelshands.com) where I sell unique handmade gifts.

They also had tons of custom made balloons with their logo. Originally, people were supposed to write names and dates on them for the babies they were walking in memory of, then we were going to release them. However, our location was too close to the airport, so we weren’t able to do that. Instead, the balloons were tied to golf tees, and after the babies names were written on them, we “planted” them all over the front lawn of the hospital grounds the event took place on. It was an amazing visual to honor the children that had died.

After the event was over, I took the balloon for Baby Brewster and brought it home with me. I went out back of our apartment building and released it. I videotaped it floating up through the sky. Once I couldn’t see it through the camera anymore, I shut it off and continued to stand there and watch it get smaller and smaller, until it disappeared from view completely.

It was incredibly emotional for me. After I had lost the baby, I didn’t really talk about it for a long time. I kinda felt like it shouldn’t have been so devestating to me because I was only 7 weeks along. I also got pregnant 2 weeks later with my son (who is happy and healthy at 3 months old today!), so I didn’t want to talk or think about the baby I lost. It was a really hard time for me because with a pregnancy so closely following a loss, I spent months being constantly terrified that I was going to have another miscarriage. I felt so alone because I didn’t think the people around me could understand how I felt. I dealt with so much guilt because I thought there must have been something I did to cause it, or something I could have done to prevent it. I was so angry at God for allowing this to happen to me, and so angry at my husband because he didn’t seem to be affected by it like I was. I tried really hard to shut the whole experience out of my mind.

Today, seeing so many people who were standing together to support those who have felt this pain, it opened that part of my heart up again. I realized that I’m not alone in these struggles. It was so comforting to see so many people that are passionate about surrounding women and their families with love while they go through this devastating pain.

As I watched that purple balloon disappear into the heavens, I allowed myself to grieve the loss of my precious child. I sobbed and sobbed for what seemed like an eternity. Once the tears and the balloon were gone, I took a deep breath and imagined what my sweet baby looks like as an angel in the arms of Jesus.

Even though there will always be an empty space in my heart and arms where my little one belongs, I felt a peace knowing that my angel will never have to experience the struggles and pain that belong to this world.

If you or someone you know have had to deal with the pain of miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death, please go check out the Our Hearts website. They also have a Facebook page. You will find lots of support and love through the people there. And please remember that you are not alone.