Bikram Yoga– PROGRESS!

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Okay, I’m about to do something rather brave and post silly pictures of myself on my blog. Who knew that talking about THIS stuff would be harder than What I Wore Wednesday posts? Seriously! If you are a professional yogi, please, save your eyes and stop reading now (I am a complete newbie, and up until 2 weeks ago had never even attempted a yoga pose, much less gone to a class).

But I just have to tell you all that Bikram Yoga is FANTASTIC. I’ve now gone for 2 weeks, 7 times, and I’ve already seen such a crazy amount of improvement.

Exhibit #1: Standing bow pose above (sometimes called The Dancer, I think?) is one of my favorites, and I cannot believe that I can not only hold this for nearly a minute without wavering, but that when I’m warmed up (aka, in a 105 degree studio, not my air conditioned living room), I can pull my leg high enough that I see my entire foot over my head in the mirror! The eventual goal is to have a completely straight upper leg that runs in one straight line with the bottom one (yeah, we’ll see about that…) You can see what it’s supposed to look like here.

Exhibit #2: I tell you the truth that just TWO WEEKS ago I could not even touch my feet or ankles, I was so inflexible. Now? It’s a complete cinch to touch my flat palms onto the floor. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a crazy amount of flexibility gained in just 7 classes!

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Exhibit #3: The actual pose is supposed to look like this. Much harder to do when you’re absolutely soaked in your own sweat (the grossest part about hot yoga, but you do get “used” to it).Bikram Yoga progress Picture 6

Exhibit #4: Okay, I was close to deleting this one, just because the perfectionist in me is mad that my standing knee wavered slightly right when the camera took, causing it to bend slightly and shoot my other leg up at too high of an angle. UGH, there’s my perfectionism, rearing it’s ugly head. But on the first class, I couldn’t even get close to straightening my leg, much less lift it up. The goal is to have one’s head touching the knee and then hold for about a minute (seems like eternity at the time though). You can see here what it’s supposed to look like.Bikram Yoga Progress Picture 3

Exhibit #5: Did I mention flexibility? The first class, I couldn’t reach my toes or bend at all. Hard to believe that was just 2 weeks ago.Bikram Yoga Progress Picture 2This one’s tough because it looks completely ridiculous from the outside, until one realizes how relaxing it is. Eventually my knees will be flexible enough for me to lay my entire back on the floor, arms folded over my head. Eventually. Haha. We’ll see.Bikram Progress Picture 1

I hope my testimony here inspires all of you to go out and try Bikram! I’ve already noticed so many of the benefits, including the fact that my back hardly hurts at all anymore (I used to wake up in pain several times a night), and my digestion issues have improved a TON (several of these poses are supposed to help with indigestion).

Most studios offer completely cheap trial months (mine was $25 for a month of unlimited), and it would give you an idea for whether this is something you like. I never would’ve known how much progress someone like me with zero flexibility could make in just half a month. If I can do it, so can you! Now go get em’, Tiger! 😉

Our Texas Playroom

We’ve been in TX for 4.5 weeks, and one of the first rooms we unpacked and finished was the boys’ playroom. This should be no surprise– I’ve talked about how I teach online one hour a day and need plenty of places for the boys to entertain themselves. (For a refresher, you can check out our Montessori Playroom from CA that was featured on Apartment Therapy, or the boys’ CA bedroom)

You might also wonder why I called it their “playroom”, seeing as we only have 2 bedrooms in our town home. We actually have a giant closet in our master bedroom– big enough to fit 2 small kids’ beds and perhaps more. I wanted a large room just for the kids to play in, without any additional furniture getting in the way. So we put their toddler beds in the closet/room in the back of the house with us, and left this room for just toys, games and clothes. There’s a large closet in this room as well, which is where Jesse and I are keeping our clothes and shoes.

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To the left of the door are the boys’ dressers. I used the Ikea Rast dressers and used chalkboard paint on the drawers so that I could draw pictures for Gregory. In between, I hung a suspension rod for their dress shirts. In keeping with the Montessori way of things, we want Gregory to start picking out his own clothes and dressing himself.Boys chalkboard dressers signature

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Originally these Rast dressers were going to be a different color, but Gregory came up to me while I was working and said, very sincerely, “Momma, I REALLY want you to paint them green! PULEEASE???” So I went and got a $4 paint tester of green, and here they are 🙂

chalkboard dresser signatureIn the corner of the room next to the dressers, I set up a reading/nap corner for the boys. I’m actually pretty proud of this little reading chair. I searched at a few stores for some sort of big pillow or cushion, but everything was too expensive, and I really didn’t want to spend any kind of serious money on it.

And then I had this brilliant idea! We had two large feather pillows that came with one of our new couches in the living room. I don’t like couch cushions that match the couch, since they just blend in and one loses the opportunity for color accessorizing, so these pillows had been sitting in a closet. I grabbed on of our extra crib sheets, stuffed both pillows inside, and voila! A super comfortable reading spot for $0!

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In the middle of the room under the window is an Ikea Lack coffee table to be used as their train/play table (later on, I’m going to add a lego station as well, since they’re just starting to get into them). We weren’t able to bring our huge train table over from CA with us, but at least we know that the boys will be able to use it whenever we go home for vacation! I love that this table is much smaller and a lot less deep. There was always a lot of wasted space at the back of our train table that never got played with, since the boys are too short to reach and I never wanted to put the table in the center of the room and take away valuable “running” space 🙂Ikea Malm hack toy table signature

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To the right of the train table, I hung a few pictures using cheap Ikea frames and cute (and free!) printouts from Pinterest (you can follow my “Boys Shared Room“).Boys Room pictures in the corner signature

On the right wall of the room are the boys’ bookshelves with their magnet/alphabet station in between. You will notice there are not many toys out– back when we had 2 foster boys in addition to our 2, I learned that I could only keep out as many toys as I could clean up in 20 minutes, otherwise I’d go crazy. I have a large bin in the closet with all of their other toys, and I’ve been rotating them out.

Montessori bookshelves

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In the right back corner of the room (near the closet) I have their laundry basket and growth chart. I am also picking up a cheap wooden play kitchen for them later this week! Stay tuned!

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And then, swinging back towards the door, I have their coat hooks, along with 2 owl paintings. These paintings are very special to us, as they were made by our foster boys as farewell gifts when we moved to TX. I wanted them in the playroom with our boys to remind us of all the fun they used to have with many of these toys (along with all the giant messes they made!).

And, don’t get jealous, but I got that Skip Hop backpack for Gregory at an AWESOME thrift store we have down the road…for only 50 cents. Seriously, don’t hate me.

(And, lest you think our house is pretty and well kept, that IS, in fact, a potty you see there in the hallway. Potty training is going…well, it’s going).

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Source List:

Dressers: Ikea Rast, $39 each, painted by me

Rug: Anthropologie on sale

Owl Print: The Handmade Home

Chalkboard Print: Hymnsandverses.com

Boys Are Superheroes Print: Rockinboys.com

Retro Alphabet cards: The Handmade Home

Giant Magnet Board: Ikea

Alphabet Magnets: The Dollar Store (3 packs)

Chevron Bedsheet: Target

Owl pillows: Sewn by me with fabric from fabric.com

Wall Book Holders: Ikea Spice Racks

Train Table: Ikea Lack

Gray baskets: Ikea

Wooden Chalkboard labels: Etsy

Book Basket: Home Goods

White Toy Shelves: Walmart

Elephant Laundry Hamper: Home Decorators

Lamb Growth Chart: Thrift Store find

 

Easy 10 minute Fall Stew

Gluten Free fall stewYou guys, I couldn’t WAIT to share this amazing recipe we just made up! It’s so perfect for Fall weather, it’s kinda ridiculous. And best part? It takes less than 10 minutes to throw together into a crockpot.  I’m really into crockpot dinners right now– they enable me to prepare everything during AJ’s nap, then spend the afternoon playing with the boys, instead of trying to entertain them while I slave over a hot stove. Honestly, I’m pretty sure the crockpot was invented by some mom who had young boys– an idea born in the crucible, as they say. I usually just start throwing ingredients from the fridge on in, hoping it all tastes good in the end.

And who doesn’t have 10 minutes to make dinner? That’s ALMOST faster than microwaving a bunch of Trader Joe’s frozen entrees (not that I would know?)

A bonus? As it was cooking in the crockpot, our house smelled like Autumn-Weather-Heaven. It almost seemed as if there were red and yellow leaves swirling around me. I wanted to reach out and hug this stew because of how it put me into the Fall Spirit.

You’ve gotta try this one, guys. It’s one of my favorites now!

Gluten-free, Paleo Fall Stew

serves 6-8 (2 meals for our family of 4)

Ingredients:

1 lb. cubed pork or beef (we buy pork because it’s often cheaper when we’re buying organic, but since it’s a stew, you can buy a cheap cut of meat and it will still be soft. You could also substitute in tofu if you wanted this to be vegan).

32 oz. beef stock (veggie stock, if you want it to be vegan)

8 oz. of pumpkin cider (I use the $2 pumpkin cider from Aldi. Apple cider works in a pinch)

2 sliced/diced apples

2 peeled and cubed sweet potatoes

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 chopped onion

3 cloves of minced garlic

1 tbsp. all spice

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. of sweet basil

1 tsp. or Mexican oregano

1 tsp. paprika

3 bay leaves

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Put the meat (or tofu) in the crockpot

2. Add the liquids, then start stirring in the spices

3. Cook for 1 hour on high.

4. Add all the vegetables. Cook for 4 more hours.

And….voila! Easiest dinner you’ve ever made! Best of all? All the veggies are rolled right in, so you don’t even need to make a salad to know you got in a few servings of produce. Winning!!

 

Our Texas Container Garden

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When we packed our crate full of stuff to leave for Texas, I did not have enough room to fit my large planters (but don’t worry, I’ll grab them when we drive out for Christmas or summer).

But that didn’t stop me from immediately starting a small container garden on our front doorstep. Turns out, in the fall, Target puts ALL of their gardening stuff on massive clearance. I got each of these containers (I also have another in the backyard, which doesn’t get as much sun) for $3, and the entire bag of organic soil for $4! All of the little seedlings are from our Sprouts down the road because, as you can imagine, I haven’t exactly had time to start my own in the past 3 weeks of living in TX.

One of the main reasons it’s going to be difficult to grow anything in our front OR backyard is that we have a lot of trees surrounding us and unlike Alpharetta where anyone can get a tree permit to remove trees from their yard, removing the tree from our yard is not that easy. See Exhibit A:

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This tree stands guard over our front yard. You can even see some of it’s branches reaching out over our doorstep in the next picture, which the people from TreeQuote are going to chop, for it presented as a hazard to the roof of the house.

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But that hasn’t stopped these little guys from thriving, somewhat. We’ve been getting a lot of rain too, so they have been well nourished, despite how busy and forgetful I’ve been. Find more tips on proper garden maintenance at gettysburg-powerwashing.com. We’ve been having a lot of cooler weather too (in the 60s all weekend, only in the 80s as of now), so it’s a reminder that Fall is here and I’ll have to move all these indoors soon! This is also an overt reminder of me getting some of the best leaf blowers to keep the garden clean. Luckily, we have our giant sunroom in the back that I can turn into growing central, rain, snow or shine!

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You should also catch a glimpse of our front doormat, a $3 clearance find at World Market.

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Don’t you just love World Market?