by christine victoria alexander

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 😊

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! 💛 If you want to see more Yoga with Olive let us know in the comments! xx

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Thursday, January 23, 2020

THE GIRL'S BATH: PAINT

I am always working towards creating a cleaner, safer, healthier environment in my home. From buying organic produce to using non toxic cleaning products - I like to make the healthiest choice I can for me and my family. It's not always possible to dump everything and start over every time I read a health article, but whenever I buy something new I try to choose a safer option. Know better, do better.


Nearly every paint on the market contains VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). VOCs pollute the environment and can wreak havoc on our bodies too. 👎 VOCs are everywhere now: paint, furniture, cleaning products, beauty products, air fresheners, candles, pesticides, glues, markers, gasoline, and the list goes on and on. When harmful VOC's build up in the air we experience headaches, depression, brain fog, allergies, asthma, irritated eyes, nose, throat and those are just the short term effects! We can't always control what we breathe outdoors but we do have some control over our indoor air quality and choosing products without VOCs is a huge step towards cleaner air and better health!

I started shopping around for zero-VOC paint and that's how I met Clare. Clare is an online paint store (brilliant!) perfect for people like me who a) care about the health of their home and b) get easily overwhelmed with millions of choices. They make it so easy. I ordered a handful of their paint swatches which turned out to be giant stickers you peel off and stick on your wall totally mess free! I decided on Whipped; a warm, creamy white. (They actually suggest this white for north facing rooms, which my bathroom is! See? So helpful!) I was able to buy my paint and supplies all in one place and have everything shipped for free right to my door - it really couldn't be any easier!


First impression: I was disappointed the paint still smelled when I opened the can - I thought zero-VOC would mean zero smell. Isaac said he thought the smell was not nearly as strong as other paints and seemed to go away a lot faster. It went on beautifully, covered well and I love the color - so creamy!
I felt like this paint dries a little faster so if you give it a try plan on tossing your tray liner and wrapping your roller and brush really well between coats.

Overall, I like it and would use it again. 👍 That said, I would love to see Clare improve their formula and come out with a no-odor paint. Until then, if I'm painting a room we need to get right back into (like a bedroom) I might try a zero-VOC no odor paint like ECOS Paints.


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Saturday, January 18, 2020

THE PLAY ROOM

Several months ago we decided to breathe a little life into our sad, unused sitting room and create a space for music, reading, learning and playing. A space where the girls could color, do puzzles, get out the train set, curl up with a book, dress their dolls, or play a game. I wanted them to be able to make a mess, but also have places to put away all their toys.



I started with paint. I'm slowly painting our whole house white but this room faces north and was begging for a richer color. I chose Benjamin Moore Hale Navy. It's a no-fail navy and a great color for a room that wants to feel cozy or sophisticated. We painted the trim the same color as the walls, which is very classic. I love how it looks!



We added drawers to the shelving units to hold puzzles, games and coloring books. I used baskets to organize their books and toys.




I went into this project a little confused about what I wanted this space to be. A playroom? A music room? A school room? A library? I think, for that reason, I ended up with confused results. Now, months after starting this project, I realize what I wanted all along was a sweet, happy little place to play that reflected my three happy little girls. What I ended up with was a room that isn't quite sure what to call itself. The girls love playing in here and I'm happy to finally be using this room, but it's missing the airy, whimsical feel that I like my spaces to have.



I'd like to come back to this room with fresh eyes and tweak it a little. I didn't quite nail it on the first try, but the second time around I will know what I want! For now we have a cozy music-library-play room! =)
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Monday, January 13, 2020

THE GIRL'S BATH: INSPIRATION

We're starting on our first home project of 2020: freshening up the girl's bath! We haven't done anything to it since we bought our home 3 years ago and it could use some love. It's a north facing room, painted a dull greige. We aren't quite ready to replace the cracked flooring or yank out the dated shower tile, but I think a few cosmetic updates could go a loooong way!



Here is my mood board for the bathroom. The existing tile is beige so I'm keeping the whites a little warmer. My hope is that by adding in other creamy neutrals, the ones I don't love (shower tile & vanity counter) start to blend in. I really like this shower curtain because it brings in the tan color I already have in the room but makes it cool. All the white ones I found just made my tile and shower look dingy and dated. I've had this print saved to my pinterest board for over 5 years and think it would be perfect in the girl's bathroom!


image via House of Jade Interiors

I love the how light and feminine this bath is from House of Jade. The crisp white vanity, touch of pink and a mix of brass and polished nickel finishes are all things I'd like to incorporate.


image via The Habitat Collective

Also love this bath from The Habitat Collective. I'd love to use a big, round mirror. I'm still trying to decide between hanging a light fixture above the mirror or a pair of sconces on the sides.

Here is my plan!



1. Brighten everything up with a lighter paint color.

2. Paint the vanity. The drawers are in terrible condition but replacing it just isn't an option at this point so new paint and some pretty knobs will have to do! The girls only use one drawer for their toothbrushes anyway. 😊

3. Swap out the dated flush mount.



4. Replace the builder-grade mirror. If there's one thing that instantly updates a space it's replacing anything builder-grade!

5. Update the vanity light. I will not be sad to see this one go. 🙈



6. Hang art over the toilet. Fortunately, the toilet is in great condition!

7. Update the towel bars & toilet paper holders.

 

8. Update the sink and bath fixtures. Hardware is the jewelry of the home!

9. Swap the shower curtain. Obviously not necessary, you can see this one is perfectly fine, but I've been staring at it for almost 7 years now and would love to change things up!

10. Give the tile floor a little love. A good scrub may lighten up the grout lines. If not, I'll dye the grout to match the tile.

That's it! Very excited to give this space some love over the next few weeks!

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

OUR FAVORITE CHICKEN SOUP

I get asked for this chicken soup recipe every time I make it so it's about time it lived on the blog where everyone can access it easily! It feels like cheating to use a rotisserie, but the flavor will have you thinking it simmered all day on the stovetop I promise! The girls and Isaac like theirs over rice, I like mine alone with a big squeeze of lemon on top.


If you have access to an organic rotisserie, use that. If not, you can cook a whole chicken earlier in the week and pop it into this soup just as you would the rotisserie. I've done it both ways but obviously the rotisserie saves you the step of having to roast a chicken. 👌

THE EASIEST CHICKEN SOUP YOU'LL EVER MAKE 
I recommend only buying organic rotisserie chicken. The non organic ones are fed GMOs (any plant, animal or microorganism that has been altered through genetic engineering) and injected with chemicals to make them juicy. 

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped carrots
2 cups chopped celery
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
couple cracks of pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 organic rotisserie (I like the Whole Foods salt & pepper ones!)
8 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 teaspoon dreid oregano
juice of 2 lemons

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion, salt and a few cracks of pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent and starting to soften. Add in the garlic, oregano and dried dill. Stir for 1 minute. Make a well in the center of the vegetables and place the rotisserie breast side down. Let it sizzle for a minute then add the stock. Bring to a boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Flip the rotisserie over and continue simmering for another 10 minutes. At this point the rotisserie should be soft and the meat should come away from the bones easily. Skim any oil slick or foam from the top of the soup and remove the chicken to a bowl. Dice the chicken meat and discard the bones. Add the juice of 1-2 lemons and taste for seasoning. Enjoy!

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Sunday, January 5, 2020

CURRENTLY CRAVING: A FRESH START

Decorations are packed away and we spent the weekend doing a little extra cleaning and straightening up. Nothing like starting the year off with a clean house, fresh flowers and a green juice! I just did my first workout of 2020 this morning and it feels so good to be back!

The start of a new year is making me want to paint a room, clean out my closet, organize my drawers and declutter everything. It feels like nesting but without the baby bump! I think I'll ride this wave of energy and see how much I can get done before the buzz is gone.
Here are some fresh finds I'm loving this month: towels, sheets, baskets, and the prettiest diffuser you'll ever see! xx
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Friday, January 3, 2020

THE ONLY GOAL I'M SETTING FOR 2020

Happy new year! 2019 was a beautiful, wonderful, exhausting year! A solid night's sleep was scarce but my heart grew 1000 times experiencing all the firsts again with a new baby!

Goal setting and resolutions are always hot topics this time of year - people either love setting intentions or could care less about everyone babbling on about their new year resolutions. Isaac and I have always been goal setters.



Every year we sit down and make a pretty little list of all the things we want to do over the next 12 months. Anything from house projects to personal goals. Isaac likes to set a number of books to read, I like pick a new hobby to try. When we're finished we hang that pretty little list inside the kitchen cabinet where we look at it for the next 4 weeks and then completely forget about it until the following December when we talk about sitting back down to write up a new one. Is this surprising to any of you? Of course not! It's normal. Some people scrap the idea of resolutions altogether but something inside me still loves a fresh start and the idea of setting intentions.

At first I planned to set a list of goals for each month - instead of a list for the whole year - which somehow felt more manageable, but when I thought about what I really wanted for this year it came down to just one thing: self care.


self-care

noun

the practice of taking action to improve one's own health.
also, the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.


If you know me you know I love the idea of self care but never actually make time for any. I feel it catching up to me! I'm usually super upbeat and full of energy but lately felt like I'm dragging. My skin is dry, my body is tired - overall I feel like I've been stretched thin taking care of the girls and haven't made time to take care of myself. So this year I'm scrapping the long list of goals and focusing on my health, wellness, nutrition and overall well-being for the next 12 months! Here's what I'm doing:

HYDROTHERAPY
Hot/cold therapy helps with releasing endorphins and, if done properly, can trick your body into thinking you just did a big workout! (What? Yes!) It's a lot like interval training. You let your body warm up and relax in hot water and then switch to ice cold water to get your heart pumping and flushing out the lymph nodes. Your endorphins will be partying hard let me tell you!
Most people use a steam room and a plunge pool to get this effect, but I don't have access to a sauna or day spa so I'm doing it at home once a week using my friend Abigail O'Neill's 12-minute miracle shower: shower for 3 minutes in hot water (as hot as you can stand) then switch to ice cold water for 30 seconds. Repeat this 3 more times. Rub down really well with a towel and moisturize!
Thanks to all the increased blood circulation, hydrotherapy creates a radiant, healthy glow!

HYDRATION
Hydration is vital to our wellbeing! It plumps up our cells, boosts our metabolism, increases performance, regulates our energy and keeps everything on the inside working and moving as it should! I know I haven't been drinking enough water so I'm upping my intake and aiming for a gallon a day - a trick my Mom learned from her Doctor; he says a lot of his patients' complaints go away once they start drinking more water!

SUPPLEMENTS
Supplements are great for filling the nutritional gap when we aren't getting enough of all the good stuff. I eat a clean diet, but sometimes don't eat a very varied diet or a diet as rich in nutrients as I'd like. This year I'm giving my nutrition a boost with a cocktail of vitamins and superfoods from Pure Synergy, a well-loved company that's been around since the 70's! Their site makes it really easy to find what you're looking for based on your health goal. I'm focusing on rebuilding a healthy foundation and firing up my immune system.

SLEEP
I don't need to write a paragraph on the importance of sleep - we all know we feel better when we get a good night! I'm gently tweaking Madeline's schedule (she was sleeping through the night and then stopped 😩) so that I can get back to a solid 7-8 hours.

SUNSHINE
I'm adding sunshine to my self care list because I generally feel happier (= better wife & mom) when I've spent time in the sun (and have a tan lol). I think this means more road trips to the beach are necessary, because you know, the sun shines brighter there. 🌤 And while we're on the topic of sunshine I just found out about this cool sunshine alarm clock that mimics the sunrise! I kind of want to get one for Isaac but I'm not sure if I want our room flooded with (faux) sunlight at 5am!

EXERCISE
Moving and sweating isn't just about building muscles or keeping our heart healthy, it plays a huge role in mental health too! It boosts brain power and creativity, puts us in a happier mood, increases energy levels, reduces anxiety & stress and helps us sleep better! Sign me up for less stress and more smiles! I'm easing back in with workouts designed for postpartum moms 3-4x a week. Last year I tried tennis and really want to get better at it this year! Stand up paddle is also on my list for when the weather warms up!

Self care is so much more than vacations and spa days - in  fact I think it's about how we spend our time in between the vacations and spa days that makes the biggest difference in our well-being! I hope this is a year of glowing health and happiness for each of you! xx Christine


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