by christine victoria alexander

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

PREPARING FOR PASSOVER

Image via Williams Sonoma 

Passover is coming! Passover is coming! Our home is bursting with excitement as we spring clean everything, toss the baking powder, and stock up on boxes of gluten free matzah! About a year ago we had just welcomed our sweet little Madeline and celebrated Passover with a simple seder at home with the girls. This year, while the world spins out of control around us, I am so very grateful for our unwavering faith in God's goodness and the long-lasting traditions we have established as a family. Passover begins Wednesday evening, April 8th, and while it may be another simple seder, you can be sure it will be a night different from all other nights! ๐Ÿ˜‰

MY SEDER TABLE
I always try to make our seder table kid-friendly and fun, without distracting from the reason we are sitting there: to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt and teach our children how God rescued us from sin and bondage.
Since a huge part of the Exodus story is the 10 plagues, I like to put colorful bugs or rubber frogs around the kids plates. Passover coloring pages are fun too!

The seder can be as fancy or as casual as you want. There are a lot of items that go on the table so I start with those and then fill in around them with flowers, bugs, water and wine glasses, maybe a small snack plate since dinner is on the later side. A couple years ago I made coasters for each guest with the 10 plagues on them - here's a link if you want to use them on your table too! (10 Plagues Passover Coasters)


MY MENU
We eat beef maybe 3 times in the whole year, and this is one of them. Isaac loves a brisket for Passover and I made sure to order a big one so he'd have leftovers to eat for days after! Here's what I'll be cooking up next week:

Maxine's Spicy Beef Brisket

Dairy free mashed potatoes (my secret is stirring in a couple big spoonfuls of Kite Hill chive cream cheese!)

Roasted Garlic Asparagus

Simple green salad with Tyler Florence's Ultimate Vinaigrette

Charoset (last year I made this recipe with chopped figs and orange zest, so good!)

My sister is making a dessert for us this year, but if you need an idea you can't go wrong with Hippie Chocolate Bark or this Vegan Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake!

And a whole lotta matzo and horseradish, too!

Wishing you all health and happiness as we head into this festive season together! Happy prepping! xx

Image via @summerwind41490


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Monday, March 23, 2020

MY QUARANTINE BUCKET LIST


Hope you all are staying safe and having fun at home! Since we started homeschooling Olive a little last fall, and we are naturally homebodies, things have honestly not looked very different over here. I am grateful for the pretty weather we've had lately and a grassy backyard to play in. This morning I put together a Quarantine Bucket List! Calling it a bucket list and not a to-do list makes it sound more fun, don't you think? Here is what I want I have planned...

Clean out my closet.
My master closet needs some major TLC! The last time I tried to clean it out I ended up with a 3 day allergy attack. I'm working up the courage to get back in there and figure out some better storage solutions. 

Write a book. 
I actually did this with Olive last year and it was a fun activity that resulted in the most precious little story about a girl with an apple tree baking an apple cake to share with her friends. It is something that I will cherish forever! I'd like to help her write another story now that she's a little bigger. 

Paint something.
Itching to get my paints out. Creativity comes in waves for me. I can feel it building up inside and I need to sit down and paint for a few days and let it all out. I have a stack of watercolors from my last painting spree that I either need to frame or sell. Or both! Should I start a little shop here on my blog? 

Bake gluten free sourdough. 
Eek. This is something I've wanted to do for a while but it's a little intimidating to me! I'm going to follow the recipe in Aran Goyoaga's book for making a sourdough starter. Wouldn't it be so fun to have fresh baked gluten free bread every week? Yum. 

Build a birdhouse. 
We crossed this one off last weekend! Isaac and I helped the girls build two bluebird houses to hang in the backyard. Cannot wait to sit on our new deck and watch all the bluebirds come to our yard. Kind of loved working with wood and want to try my hand at woodworking now! What should I make next?

Plant something.
Now that the deck is pretty much done I want to plant flowers around it everywhere and fill my window box too! I basically want to live in a flower garden. I hinted to Isaac that I would love a fig tree for Mother's Day and I'm hoping we have enough sun to put in a butterfly bush too! Wondering if I'm up for roses if I should stick to hydrangeas and herbs...

What have you been up to lately? I would love to hear! Sending hugs to each of you until we can be face to face again! xx


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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

CURRENTLY CRAVING: SPRING


Image via Floret Farm

Currently Craving: Spring! The weather has been teasing us this week with 70+ degree days! I'm craving blissful, sunny days watching the flowers and trees wake up from their long winter nap. I can't wait for all the birds and butterflies to start visiting our yard. Indoors I'm swapping thick, cozy textures for light, airy pieces. Here are a some springy finds that caught my eye this month...

For your home...


Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden 
This book has been around for a few years now, has remarkable ratings on Amazon and is fulfilling all my flower garden fantasies while I wait to build a big country house and plant my own flower garden!


Penelope Table Lamp
Swooning over this beautiful painted lamp! A refreshing take on a traditional design. Isn't the blue so pretty paired with the antique brass base? Using this as major inspiration for the girl's room.


Seagrass Serving Tray
Trays are incredibly helpful for entertaining or even corralling a few items on your coffee table. While most trays are wood, I love the extra textural element the seagrass adds to this one. And while we're talking about trays, can I share this incredible 38" rattan tray I found, too? My goodness, that would be so much fun to fill for a party!


Beachcomber Baskets
Speaking of seagrass... these baskets will never go out of style! While seagrass used to be associated with coastal decor, it's being used more and more in traditional and farmhouse style interiors now and I am thrilled!

Art by Jennifer Allevato
I love so many of Jennifer's pieces. This one titled From a Table in Bethesda is one of my favorites! Take a look at her other prints - she is so talented!



Botanical Garden Spatula
A simple way to bring a little bit of spring into your home. Hoping this makes it's way into my kitchen around Mother's Day... ๐Ÿ˜‰


For your closet...


Violet Ruffled Utility Jumpsuit 
To be honest, I'm on the fence with the whole jumpsuit trend. But this one stopped me in my tracks and I haven't stopped thinking about it since! It doesn't have that weird baggy shape in the back like a lot of jumpsuits and I think for something 'utilitarian' it still comes across as flattering and feminine. Love!


Mali Beach Bag 
An item I would love to add to my closet for spring and summer: this beautiful straw tote from Monika Hibbs' new home store. I can see myself packing it up for weekly pool dates, beach trips, a picnic lunch, basically anywhere!


Persephone Beaded Mini Skirt
It only takes a handful of fun statement pieces like this to give a closet full of basics a little pick me up! I love the beading detail. This would be pretty paired with a simple white blouse and sandals.


Place Nationale Le Gayan Dress
I understand at $400 this dress is probably not at the most reasonable price point for most of my readers, but I'm including it in my round up of springy style this month because I am very much inspired by it! I love that girly bow detail in the back!


Pointed Toe Mules
Dainty and feminine in every way! I would wear these with cropped jeans in the spring or a little white dress in the summer.

Thanks for reading! xx


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Friday, March 13, 2020

VISITING ALPACAS AT GOOD KARMA RANCH


We took advantage of the sunny weather this weekend and took the girls to visit an alpaca farm! Good Karma Ranch is a short 40 minute drive from Charlotte and run by the sweetest family. Shelly gave us a tour of the farm, taught us all about these gentle creatures, and even let us take selfies with the alpacas before we left! I learned so much and almost wish we had room for one of these real life teddy bears in our own backyard.

The alpacas were so friendly! I had never met an alpaca before so I didn't know they make the most adorable humming noise! It sounded so much like a child humming I thought it was Rosie at first. Shelly warned us that the girl alpacas were all pregnant and grumpy when we visited but I thought they were so sweet and gentle! We got to meet a couple of the babies too and they were so soft and playful and especially attentive to the children in our group.

It was not love at first site for the girls. ๐Ÿ˜‚ They haven't had a ton of experience around pets/animals and got a little nervous when their personal space was invaded! Rosie warmed up eventually and was brave enough to pet baby Tessa. Olive's favorite part of our day trip was the tailgate picnic we had after the tour. We might have to come back when Madeline is a little bigger to see what she thinks of the alpacas.









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Monday, March 9, 2020

3 HACKS FOR A BETTER NIGHT'S SLEEP


Nothing can replace a good night's sleep! When we sleep well we wake more refreshed and have more energy throughout the day. Here are 3 simple hacks if you're struggling in the snooze department!
*I am not a doctor. This is not medical advice, it is my opinion. 

Magnesium
If you're not taking magnesium already, go ahead and start. It's an all around superhero supplement. Magnesium fights depression, prevents migraines, ramps up exercise performance, lowers blood pressure, combats asthma, protects against diabetes, supports bone health AND fights insomnia! Yowza! What I didn't know until I started researching is that insomnia is a common symptom of a magnesium deficiency! Magnesium helps our bodies relax (scientifically speaking, it increases GABA, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep), which leads to deeper, more restful nights. Magnesium is found in lots of foods, but especially in dark leafy greens like spinach, collards, kale and Swiss chard. Taking a soak in an epsom salt bath is another way to increase your magnesium. I just found this cool magnesium spray with a ridiculous amount of good reviews on Amazon and now I want to try it!

Blue Light Glasses
I think everyone knows by now that screens aren't a good idea before bed. But why? Screens emit blue light which causes eye strain and can suppress melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep). If you can't give up your favorite show or nightly scroll through the 'gram, try blue light glasses. They'll block enough blue light to give your melatonin level a little boost before bed!

Lavender
Ah, lavender. I really couldn't write a sleep post without mentioning lavender. It is one of my favorite essential oils and one I love to incorporate whenever I need to relax. Lavender increases slow-wave sleep which is key for slowing our heartbeat and relaxing our muscles.  There are so many ways to incorporate a little lavender before bed: roll lavender essential oil on your wrists and temples before bed, take a hot bath with a lavender bath bomb (my favorite!), diffuse lavender while you sleep, spritz your pillow with a lavender pillow spray or just tuck a sachet of dried lavender under your pillow for a better night's sleep.

Hope these help you get your beauty sleep! Happy snoozing! xx

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A BIRTHDAY BRUNCH FOR BUBBE


Hope your week is off to a great start! I'm typing this sitting on my deck under the most beautiful Carolina blue sky! Spring is around the corner and we've started collecting quotes for rebuilding our deck. All I can think about is all the evenings we are going to spend out here in the summer with the girls playing and singing and eating and laughing - eeeek I am so excited!

We had Isaac's mom, who the girls call Bubbe, over for a little early birthday brunch last weekend. The girls absolutely adore their Bubbe! They colored the cutest cards for her and Olive picked a big bunch of daffodils from our front yard as a surprise.

I planned a simple menu: frittata, scones, and a big platter of fruit. Brunch isn't fussy, you know? I think that might be why I love it so much. Pick an egg dish, a baked good, and cut up some fruit. It's really as simple as that. Tulips have arrived in the stores and I am so happy about it! I picked up a bouquet a few days beforehand so they would be in full bloom for the weekend.

Here are a few more photos from our little morning together. Thanks for sticking around! xx







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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

THE GIRL'S BATH: UPDATE

This project is taking a bit longer than I was expecting! As with most home projects we have had a couple surprises that have effected our timeline. Here's a little update on how things are going:


We painted the walls, installed a shiny new light fixture, then realized the patch job we (I) had done was no good. Everything looked fine in daylight but when we turned on the light in the evening it showed every ding, dent and rough patch where the old fixtures had hung. Isaac spent a weekend sanding and repairing the walls for me and they look brand spanking new again. Too bad he doesn't enjoy that kind of thing, it would be so fun to fix up a little airbnb together! I'm pretty sure we will fix up a little beach house one day, he just doesn't know it yet. But back to the bath, we repainted after repairing the walls and reinstalled the light fixture. I love the polished nickel!

We hit another little snag when we went to swap out the faucet. The one I ordered didn't fit so I ordered a new one and it will be here next week! In the meantime, we have a busted pipe to repair because pipes from the 80's don't last forever. Another project for Isaac...

I sanded down the vanity and gave it a fresh coat of paint in the same color as the walls. The previous owner had painted over the original brass knobs so I stripped the paint and put them back on. Hinges and doors will go back on this weekend.
I'm ordering a big, brass mirror to go over the vanity that will tie in the knobs, the shower rod and the shelf over the toilet. I'm so excited seeing it all come together!

We installed a fixed shower rod (the last one was a tension rod that fell down every other week), hung a new curtain, bought a fresh bath mat and mounted three shiny new towel hooks which just feel a little more casual and kid-friendly than a towel bar.





So what's left?
- Installing the mirror
- Plumbing repair & installing the new faucet
- Mounting the toilet paper holder
- Updating the tub spout & handle
- Updating the ceiling light
- Artwork

We've made some great progress but I'm still kind of bummed it's taking so long! I wish I knew how to do more of the electrical / plumbing things so I didn't always have to wait for Isaac to do it on the weekend. Adding that to my list of things to learn...
I have been really careful to do this whole project without going over my allotted "home allowance" each month, so while it feels like we're moving at a snail's pace, I am really proud of myself for staying on budget!

I'm hoping we'll have everything finished up in the next couple of weeks and will post the before/afters and all the sources then! Thanks for following along!

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

THE WEEKEND & SOME FLIPPIN' DELICIOUS BANANA PANCAKES


This weekend has been slow and sunny and lazy and just really exactly what we needed. Isaac surprised the girls and I with 10 dozen roses, the softest teddy bears and our favorite Hu chocolate bars. He certainly knows how to make us feel loved! As a treat, we cooked up gluten free gnocchi from a box that was 10x better than the gnocchi we tried to make from scratch on a date night a very long time ago. After the girls were tucked in bed Isaac and I snuck back down to the kitchen and baked up some chocolate chip cookies and had a cozy little date of our own. It was perfect. We slept in late then whipped up our favorite banana pancakes (recipe below!) in our pajamas. It doesn't get much better in my book!

A few years ago when my Nana's health started going downhill my sisters and I made a little YouTube channel with videos of the kiddies to cheer her up. I posted a couple videos of Olive feeding Rosie back then when she was just 2 years old and now she and Rosie are feeding Madeline for me! It goes so fast. Slow weekends help me soak up this beautiful season of life we are in right now.






I've been testing out gluten free pancake recipes for years and have finally created a pancake that doesn't involve 4 different flours, weird gums or even getting out my hand mixer. In fact, I make the whole thing with one bowl and a dinner fork every time. They are simple, healthy, quick and delicious. We cook up a pile nearly every weekend and top them with handfuls of blueberries and a generous pour of maple syrup. Leave me a comment or tag me on Instagram if you make them!

CHRISTINE'S BANANA PANCAKES
gluten free, dairy free, grain free
A few quick recipe notes for you: I used almond flour in this recipe, not almond meal. Almond flour is finer than meal which makes the pancakes fluffier. Trader Joes has a good one! If you don't have cassava you can swap it for an all-purpose gluten free flour like Bob's Red Mill. And lastly, you'll notice there is no sweetener in these aside from the bananas, so make sure your bananas are nice and ripe (yellow and spotty) for best results. 

makes about 18 pancakes
_

2 medium bananas (about 1 cup, mashed)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup almond milk

1 & 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup cassava flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon

butter or coconut oil, for cooking
_

Mash bananas in a mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs, vanilla and almond milk.

Add the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. The size and ripeness of the bananas will determine how loose your batter is. If it looks too thick add a splash of almond milk.

Melt butter (or coconut oil) in a non stick skillet over medium heat. When butter is sizzling add pancake batter. Cook until the edges look dry, then flip. Cook for another minute and move to a plate. Stack 'em up and top with syrup!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

RAISING KIND DAUGHTERS


Last year I had an idea to make a sticker chart for the girls to reward them for kindness, thoughtfulness, being helpful, and showing good manners. It worked so well and really encouraged them to look for ways to be kind. We filled up that whole sticker chart and the girls have been begging me to make a new one. I decided to share it here for any of you who are interested in using it too!


Lots of moms use a sticker chart for potty training, not to teach their child to expect a sticker every time they use the bathroom for the rest of their life, but to encourage them as they learn something new and motivate them to do it over and over again until it becomes second nature.
I think the same idea can work for teaching kindness - strengthening their "kindness muscle memory", if you will. Now, months after finishing our first sticker chart, Rosie still surprises me by getting my shoes out of the closet before we go somewhere and carries a pile of of toys over to Madeline if she's crying. Olive still throws away Madeline's dirty diapers without being asked, picks out pajamas for Rosie every evening and draws pictures for our neighbors. The sticker chart motivates them to look for opportunities to be helpful, and practice over and over again putting others before themselves.


Olive and Rosie are 4 and 2 and still think stickers are pretty much the coolest thing ever, but if your kids are older you could check off the squares with a marker and come up with a reward for every 10 squares.
I hope you'll try it out with your littles and let me know what you think!

Follow this link to download and print your own kindness chart!

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

BEING A MAMA TO THREE

A little update on the girls and a few pictures that are so special to me, not just because this delicious squishy baby stage is so fleeting, but also because my eldest daughter took them. ๐Ÿงก


Olive has blossomed into such a capable girl - she is so helpful to me and is like a second mommy to her little sisters - sometimes I forget she is only 4! I can only imagine how much more she will grow into this role as the oldest of the bunch as time goes on. She is extremely active, loves riding her bike, running, climbing trees, digging in the dirt, making forts out of chairs and pillows and riding her rocking pony, Ted, around the living room. Since all of this comes so naturally to her I really try to encourage her softer, more caring side as much as possible because I find that's where she often runs into trouble.

Rosie is a few months shy of turning 3 and a personality paradox: stubborn and headstrong, tender and kind hearted. She is not very active and prefers sitting in her lawn chair watching Olive play or laying on the driveway while Olive runs circles around her. She likes playing babies, pretend cooking, making up songs on the piano, dancing to her music books and cuddling on the couch. She and Olive started sharing a room a few months ago and it's helped them grow so much closer. We hear them talking and giggling in the evenings and as long as they aren't jumping on the bed or throwing things at the wall I try not to interfere - it's so good for them to have each other. ๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿ‘ง


Sunday marks 10 months with my Madeline girl, the happiest baby of them all! I wish everyone had a Madeline. Her smile and her cuddles make anything and everything instantly better. I could not have dreamed up a more perfect little ball of sunshine. Five teeth just came in all at once and her little smile is so ridiculously cute with those tiny little choppers peeking out now. I'm starting to offer her some smoothies and purees and, like all my girls, she detests avocado and loves green smoothies.

A friend of mine recently asked me how I like being a mom of 3 and it sort of caught me off guard. I didn't know how to respond because this is my reality and I'm not the kind of person who ever thinks about how things would have been if.... blah blah blah. I assume this person meant how do I like it with three vs. when it was just Olive or just Olive and Rosie. Well, I've thought about it and you know what? Babies are work, hard work. But here's the secret. Babies are happiness too. I was so happy with just Olive and then I had Rosie and yes, it was more work, but so much more happiness too! And now that I have Madeline it is a tremendous amount of work but oh my goodness if you only knew how much more happiness! So maybe that's why it's hard to answer. How do I like it? Well, some days are absolutely perfect and some days are utterly grueling, but the truth is, I've never been happier in my whole life.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

10 WAYS TO CELEBRATE A RAINY DAY

Happy February, friends! I think my daffodils must have heard the groundhog predict an early spring because they are all up and blooming this week! The girls brought in handfuls of them yesterday as a surprise for me but little Rosie hasn't figure out that you need to pick them with a stem so half of them were just the blooms with no stem! It's warm and drizzly in Charlotte today and I'm sharing some fun (screen-free) things to do inside with your littles when it rains.


Learn to sew with lacing cards  
My mom brought over lacing cards a few weeks ago and they were a big hit with my girls! Olive likes getting them out during Madeline's nap for a quiet "big girl" activity. There are a bunch available on Amazon, but why buy when you can download and print them for free? Here are two pretty sets of cards I found: cowboy & cowgirl cards, watercolor cards

Read a new book
There's just something wonderful about cozying up under a blanket with a big stack of books on a rainy day. This Atlas of Adventures is one of our favorites right now. Each page takes you on an adventure to a different part of the world - it's loaded with fun facts and illustrations! Some more of our favorite kiddie books are linked here.

Start an indoor garden 
This seed kit is a cool way to introduce kids to gardening! You don't need to have anything on hand because they include everything (even the dirt!) in the kit. Most seeds are best started about 6 weeks before the last frost.

Play a round of bird bingo
Another one my mom introduced us to (thanks Mom!) - traditional bingo but with birds! If birds aren't your thing there's an Ocean Bingo and a Bug Bingo too. ๐Ÿค“

Make a pine cone bird feeder
Remember making peanut butter covered pine cones when you were little? You may already have everything you need to make them, if not, this bird feeder kit makes it easy to get all the supplies shipped right to your door. How easy is that?

Stretch it out with some yoga
I just found these yoga cards for kids last night and I think they are such a cute idea! You can also find a bunch of great (free!) yoga and ballet classes for kids on YouTube.

Squish, create, repeat
Imagine if play dough were made with non toxic ingredients and scented with essential oils - meet Hello Dough, a Canadian company making all our healthy play dough dreams come true! If you don't want to splurge on one of their fun kits, a trip to the dollar store for some tiny trucks or horses may be all you need to make your own kit at home.

Sew a tiny friend
Cynthia Treen Studio has the most adorable animal kits in her Etsy shop. I shouldn't really be including them on this list because they are for adults or older children who can sew, but I couldn't resist! This little lioness reminds me of my niece Simone!

Cook something delicious
My girls and I cook together every single day and I think it's one of the best things you can do with your littles. Pull up a chair and let them help! If you haven't tried this cookie recipe yet, what are you waiting for?

Hope you picked up some fun ideas! If you try any of these send me a pic or tag me on Instagram!

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Monday, February 3, 2020

CURRENTLY CRAVING: A NIGHT IN

This month's Currently Craving post goes out to all the homebodies! There is not much I love more than a cozy night at home with Isaac; a long hot shower and a body scrub, fresh pajamas, cozy slippers, putting on my favorite mask and making a mug of tea. We might watch a movie, talk a little or maybe just scroll through Pinterest then jump into freshly washed sheets and call it a night. Here's what I'm loving lately for an evening at home...


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Friday, January 31, 2020

YOGA WITH OLIVE

Are you ready for some fun? Olive is going to lead us in a metabolism-revving yoga sequence by Tara Stiles this morning! Yoga has a powerful stimulating and strengthening effect on the endocrine organs. The endocrine system regulates metabolism, growth and development, sleep, mood, and many other things. Twisting and compressing yoga postures massage the endocrine and abdominal organs, regulating their function, improving circulation and cleansing them of old stagnant toxins.
So let's get stretching and fire up that metabolism! Are you ready? We're going to stay in each pose for 5 deep inhales and exhales.
*we do not recommend wearing a real baby during this sequence ๐Ÿ˜Š

1. Chair

2. Standing Forward Bend

3. Plank (bonus points if you can drop to Half Push Up and hold for 5 more breaths)

4. Up Dog 

5. Down Dog

Jump your legs forward and repeat the above sequence 4 more times.

Feeling warm now? Let's move to the floor.

1. Seated Single-Leg Forward Bend 

2. Seated Shin Hug (Olive likes to switch it up, but let's stick with the same leg for this part)

3. Seated Spine Twist 

Unwind your legs and repeat these 3 moves on the other side.

Ready to go on? Let's finish off this sequence with 2 more stretches.

1. Bridge (interlace your fingers underneath you if you can)

2. Plow (try to touch your toes behind your head - if you're comfortable in Plow you can move into a Shoulder Stand) 

You're all done! Great job! I hope you enjoyed working out with Olive today! ๐Ÿ’› If you want to see more Yoga with Olive let us know in the comments! xx

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