Fitness, Lifestyle

My Top 2 New Options to Workout at Home

My anxiety has hit an all time high by trying to balance this new normal! We all work through our stress in different ways and working out for me has been an instant stress reliever. But I am also one who dreads working out. I just have never loved it. BUT, I love how I feel when it’s over and that is what keeps me coming back.

Before COVID-19 I went to my local kickboxing class 3 days a week for a sweat filled hour and whole body workout. But since my gym had to close like all the other gyms, I was left feeling panicked about how I would stay in shape and get my workouts in. I was worried also for my mind. I knew if I didn’t have my me time to really focus on relieving the stress, it would make everything else that much harder.

One bright spot to the social distancing and lack of normal life as we know it, has been the amount of companies offering free services online. The fitness world has been no exception and I’ve seen tons of adds for companies inviting you to try their programs for free.

One goal I’ve had for myself during this home isolation period is to slow down more and embrace what I have around me: my home, family, food, etc. So when I was looking for workout programs to try, I wanted to try new ones that would allow me to move a little slower and be more focused and present.

I chose 2 different programs that are pushing me out of my comfort zone in many ways and have allowed me to use this unique time in our lives to try something new. I’ve detailed out my thoughts on the 2 programs below and shared links if you want to try them for yourself. No matter what you are doing, make sure you are spending time on yourself to relieve that stress. It will make you much stronger in order to face all the other pieces of this new world we have around us.

Open Fit– XB Pilates

I have wanted to try pilates for a while! But couldn’t find the time to make it to another studio during the week. So when I saw this, I thought, why not give it a shot? It is focused on all the body parts I want to see the most improvement in: core, glutes, legs, arms…well I guess everything!

What I love:

1. Classes are 30 min. I used to do hour long classes in the gym but I can’t find that solid hour with the whole family being in the house together. But 30 min I can carve out each day!

2. You don’t need lots of equipment. I use an old yoga mat for most classes. The teacher uses pilates discs for some and light weights for others. I used a paper plate in place of a pilates disc and used the weights I have as best as I could. Some classes I just skip them since I don’t have ones light enough.

3. Modifications for every move. These moves target some of the weakest parts of my body, which is why I chose them, I want to be stronger. But that also means that I can’t keep up with every single move. So on those that I’m struggling more, there is a modification I can follow so I’m still staying active and getting stronger till one day when I can do more.

4. Feel results quickly. Immediately after the class I feel tighter and more toned. By the next morning, I can really feel the muscles that were worked. But I’m not in pain to the point that I can’t do anything the next day. It’s the good pain you feel when you know you’ve been challenged and it’s going to make you stronger.

5. Access to other workouts. I chose to try the XB Pilates program first. But there are a ton of other options if you want to experiment: barre, dance, yoga, cardio, HIIT, weight circuits….so many choices. I’m only trying the pilates option for my free trial, but I could see myself staying with the program past the trial to have so many options while at home.

If this sounds like something you would enjoy, sign up here and get started! Open Fit

Here I am completing yesterday’s class (please don’t judge the form, mess in my basement, or the inconvenient place my dog decided to lay down!)

Bulldog Yoga

I will be honest about my history with yoga. I have tried different classes and videos over the years and nothing seemed to click. It was too slow and dare I say…a little boring. But Bulldog Yoga has been a breadth of fresh air and so far, I am loving it!

My favorite parts:

  1. Classes are engaging and set to great playlists. I find the music and flow of the classes to be energizing and I can remain focused! I also love how the instruction is clear so as a beginner, I can still follow along and feel like I’m making progress even though I’m not physically with the teacher.
  2. Different class lengths. Some days I have more time but most days I have only a small amount of time to dedicate to working out. I love that most of the classes are around 30 min but some are longer. So if I’m really feeling up to it, I can push it and take a longer class!
  3. Different types of classes. As a beginner I knew I needed to start at the beginning level. But I’ve already moved on and experimented with the other types of classes. Some are slow and about flow. Some are faster and more intense. And others are focused on certain parts of the body. As I get more experienced and stronger, I’m excited to try different types and levels to really push myself.
  4. Different teachers. As with any type of workout, different teachers have different styles. This practice is not any different. As a beginner who is learning different techniques, I enjoy learning from all different teachers. They all communicate and run their classes in different ways which keeps my mind and body challenged. Once I find my favorites, I can replay their classes as many times as I like!

If you are interested in trying yoga for 30 days, sign up here! Bulldog Yoga

Two great options for you to consider, though I’m sure there are many great programs out there for whatever you are looking for. Just stay as active as you can and it will help as we navigate this new reality!

Stay healthy and wishing the best for you and your families during this time!

xo,

Liz

Beauty, Lifestyle, Shop Our Instagram, Style

Dry Shampoo Comparison

Hi guys! Liz here! There aren’t many beauty products that I can say have changed my life. But dry shampoo is one that definitely makes the list.

Once you become a mom, you are just kidding yourself if you think you will have time to wash and style your hair every day. If you are a mom that is actually able to do this, then you really are a supermom!! For me, I can make time 2 days a week to wash and style my hair- please don’t judge!

I luckily have thick and wavy hair that doesn’t get too oily. But my secret to making it the 3 days in between washes, is dry shampoo!

I tested the below products over the course of 3 days to see what the pros and cons are of each, and which is my new favorite! Commission links are provided to check out the products for yourself!

How to use dry shampoo: It is very simple to apply dry shampoo. I typically use it in the morning on dry hair before I do any other styling. I first bend at the waist and tip my head over and apply some of the shampoo at the base hairline and at the hairline behind my ears (where I get more oily). I use by finger tips and rub the shampoo in- almost like when you are rubbing true shampoo into your scalp. I flip my head back up and then apply it to the roots on the top of my head. I do this by lifting sections of my hair and applying some shampoo on the scalp. I make sure I don’t put any in the section of my hair where my part shows since I don’t want any shampoo to be seen. I then use my fingers tips again to rub in the shampoo all over my scalp. Then I style as normal using my flat iron, curling iron/wand etc.  You can also re-apply it if you need a pick me up later in the day or if you are re-styling your hair again at night before going out.

Product #1- Verb Dry Shampoo

  • White fine powder with a very light scent
  • Very easy to use applicator- Pointed to allow for precise placement and controls how much product is released so you don’t overuse the powder
  • Very easy to blend into your scalp so the powder is not noticeable
  • Increases volume, doesn’t weight down the hair, and no residual product left on the hair
  • Scalp feels great after applying- soaks up the oil and scalp feels refreshed and not itchy
  • Bottle lasts a long time- have used for a couple of months and am only halfway through the bottle
  • Great price- very affordable compared to most dry shampoo products on the market

Here are before and after pictures using the Verb product. You can see the difference in the volume, especially at the roots.

Left: Before Right: After

Product #2 – Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo

  • This item is a spray with a translucent powder. It was the only spray I tested. I was nervous as I had only used powders before. But I ended up loving it!
  • Easy to apply. Pointed the nozzle to the section of scalp I wanted to apply to and pressed down. Was easy to control the amount of product by doing short sprays.
  • For a few seconds your scalp will feel wet. But that does not last and does not ruin your hair texture or styling. It felt very cooling and soaked in well.
  • Increases volume, doesn’t weight down the hair, and no residual product left on the hair
  • Scalp felt great after applying- soaks up the oil and scalp feels refreshed and not wet. I wasn’t sure if I would love the spray since I was nervous of the product being wet at first. But it dries fast and feels great on the scalp and hair!
  • Similar to the powders, it is very easy to blend into your scalp using your fingertips.
  • Only cons are:
    • I’m not sure how long the bottle will last. I’ve used for a few months and it feels more empty than the powder bottles I have after using for the same amount of time
    • Higher price than the other options I tried. Love the product, but not sure if it’s worth the extra cost.

Here are before and after pictures using the Oribe product.

Left: Before Right: After

Product #3 – Bumble and Bumble Pret-a-Powder

  • White fine powder with a light scent
  • This product was a little more difficult to apply vs the Verb. It was more difficult to control how much product is released. I still applied directly on the scalp but lightly shook the bottle vs squeezing it so only a small amount of product was released. Then if I needed more, I would repeat that step.
  • Very easy to blend into your scalp so the powder is not noticeable
  • Increases volume, doesn’t weight down the hair. Is a little more coarser on the hair compared to the Verb product above.
  • Soaks up all the oil and the scalp feel refreshed
  • Middle of the road price point. Expecting bottle to last awhile like the Verb powder has.
  • Only con is that this product added more texture and coarseness to my hair that is already thick and coarse. It may be better suited for hair that is thinner and softer since it would provide the right amount of volume and texture.

Here are before and after pictures using the Bumble and Bumble product. This is the product with the most obvious change in volume, especially by the roots!

Left: Before Right: After

So now that I’ve gone through all the details, I can reveal my new favorite dry shampoo…..

And the winner is……VERB! For me, this product was the overall winner. It worked great on my hair and left both my scalp and hair feeling refreshed and clean. The price is very affordable! And you don’t have to use much of the product, so I think it will last a long time.

I hope you find this product review helpful!! I highly recommend trying a dry shampoo. It’s been a lifesaver for me.

xo Liz

Lifestyle, Style

Rockstar Moms Top Amazon Picks for January!

This has been a great month for Amazon items! Coming from the industry we are sticklers for quality, fit, and design. With this in mind there are, at times, more misses than hits with our amazon finds and we only bring to you the items that we truly love! Check out the winners from January below!

Colleen’s Picks:

Top / Belt / Joggers

Dolman Sleeve Boatneck Tunic: This amazing top can be worn several ways. It is long enough to be worn with your favorite leggings or jeggings and the perfect length to messy tuck into your favorite jeans! It’s is easily dressed up or down. What caught me right away was the hand feel!! It is so so soft and comfy. This top is great to wear now and will be a staple for me throughout Spring!! It also comes in at least 8 colors!

Top / Belt / Leggings

Leopard Double Loop Belt: I loved this belt the minute I saw it! It is the perfect width for all my jeans and looks great with jeans or work pants. Again can be worn casual or dressed up and would look great around a dress too!

My #1 Amazon Pick of all Time – Daily Ritual Joggers: I have been wearing these non stop for a year now. They are my go to pant for the weekends or any day I just want to be cozy and comfy. The fit is perfect and true to size. Mine have been washed tons of times and look just as good as the day I received them! THESE are a must have!!!

Joggers / Sneakers 1 / Sneakers 2 / Sneakers 3

Liz’s Picks:

Wide Brim Fedora Beach Hat– I keep talking about this hat because it truly is amazing! I had been looking for a hat that looked great, provided good coverage for my face from the sun, and held up well while travelling and at the pool and beach. This one is perfect! Love the styling and it comes in so many colors and different trim details. I chose the classic Beige with a Black Grosgrain Ribbon. Best part? It is truly packable! It traveled it my suitcase packed in between all my other stuff and was perfectly fine when unpacked!

Packing Cube Set– Such a great value for these cubes! 5 packing cubes come in this pack in 3 different size ranges. You receive 2 large, 2 medium, and 1 small all at a great price! My favorite aspects of these cubes include the see through mesh windows so you can tell what you packed into each cube, the 3 different size ranges so they work well in all different size bags, and the handles that allow you to efficiently move them around as needed without your stuff becoming a mess! Two benefits I found was that the cubes forced me to cut back on how many items I was bringing before I stuffed it all into my bag and then realized it didn’t fit! I filled the cubes as much as I could and then I had no problem fitting it in my suitcase! The other benefit was packing to come home. By having different cubes I could segment out all the dirty clothes to make washing when I got home a breeze.

Camo Print Yoga Pants– (Shown in Deep Grey Camo) These yoga pants are top rated for a reason!! Such comfortable pants and the fabric is so soft. The high waist fit perfect and doesn’t budge while exercising or just running around on the weekends. Length is perfect for my height (5’3″) and hit right at my ankle. Pockets are a great add as well! Overall, I love these pants so much, especially for less than $30!!

Hope you enjoy our top Amazon picks this month as much as we do!

xo

Colleen and Liz

Hosting, Lifestyle

Savory Comfort Food Recipe: Beef Stew!

Much like chili recipes, everyone has their favorite Beef Stew Recipe. After trying several different ones I took pieces of each and came up with my own! So if you are looking for one to try I am sharing mine with you all!! Let me know what you think!

First, this is what you will need!

1/4 cup Olive oil

2 1/2 lbs stew meat cut into 1 inch pieces

1 large onion

3 cloves garlic minced

3 tablespoons of butter

Adobo

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 bottles, 24 ounces, of beer (I just use whatever is in the house)

2 cups low sodium beef broth

Small can of Tomato paste

Small bag of baby carrots

1 green pepper diced

3 stalks of celery

3 large red bliss potatoes, washed and diced

Second, this is what you do with it all!

1) In a Dutch oven heat oil and butter over medium heat. Season beef with Adobo and add the beef to the pot in a single layer. Brown on all sides, may need to do this in batches. Once done remove beef from pot and set aside

2) Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook until caramelized, approx 10 mins.

3) Sprinkle onions with flour and stir to combine for 1 min.

4) Return the beef to the pot and add the beer, beef broth, tomato paste diluted in 1 cup warm water. Bring to boil then lower and simmer for 1 1/4 hours.

5) Add the carrots, green pepper, celery, and potatoes to the pot. Return to boil then simmer for 45 mins.

Serve with a nice crusty bread!!

Ugh! I forgot to take a picture of the final product!!! Very amateurish, I KNOW!! I will add it next time……

Enjoy!

Lifestyle, Shop Our Instagram, Travel

Travel Accessory Finds From Amazon

If you are lucky enough to be travelling soon for Spring break, or possibly planning a trip this summer, I have some new travel accessories to recommend from Amazon!

I recently went to Florida over New Year’s and picked up some new accessories prior to my trip. They all worked out great so I knew I had to share them!

I’ve always considered myself a good packer. Yes, on every trip I usually pack a few extra pairs of shoes and outfits that I didn’t need. But all in all, I am an expert clothes roller and therefore can fit a ton in my suitcases. But, all of those clothes come at a cost since I’m usually holding my breath that I don’t exceed the weight limit at the airport and have to pay extra money right before my trip!

So before this trip, I saw lots of people recommending packing cubes and calling out how they changed the packing game and figured I would give them a shot.

I picked these styles from Amazon due to the good reviews at a very reasonable price.

5 packing cubes come in this pack in 3 different size ranges. You receive 2 large, 2 medium, and 1 small all at a great price! My favorite aspects of these cubes include the see through mesh windows so you can tell what you packed into each cube, the 3 different size ranges so they work well in all different size bags, and the handles that allow you to efficiently move them around as needed without your stuff becoming a mess!

As I mentioned, the 3 different sizes work great to fit into all different size bags. I bought a set for myself, my husband, and both kids and they worked great in each of our bags. My favorite size is the medium because I was able to fit 2 of them side by side on one side of my suitcase. I also liked the small size because I was able to segment out some items that I didn’t want to get lost with all the other clothes.

You may ask yourself, why do I need to use cubes when I am able to get all of the items in my luggage no problem? Good question, I thought the same thing! The biggest benefit I found was that the cubes forced me to cut back on how many items I was bringing before I stuffed it all into my bag and then realized it didn’t fit! I am that person that would end up sitting on my bag to try to get it to close, then it would be too heavy….you see how this goes. So by using the cubes, I filled the cubes as much as I could and then I had no problem fitting it in my suitcase! The other benefit was packing to come home. By having different cubes I could segment out all the dirty clothes to make washing when I got home a breeze. Love these cubes and catch wait to use them on my next trip!

The next accessory that I loved is this Fedora Beach Hat. I had been looking for a hat that looked great and held up well while travelling and at the pool and beach. This one is perfect! Love the styling and it comes in so many colors and different trim details. I chose the classic Beige with a Black Grosgrain Ribbon. Best part? It is truly packable! It traveled it my suitcase packed in between all my other stuff and was perfectly fine when unpacked! Love having a hat I can travel with that is convenient to take instead of having to carry on and afraid of getting ruined. Love it!

The last accessory I picked up is a new water bottle- the stainless steel Hydro Flask. So many of my girlfriends use stainless steel water bottles but I hadn’t tried on. After all the great reviews I wanted to give it a shot. I was really looking for a water bottle that could hold my drinks at the ideal temperature and not leak! This one is worth the cost!

Now that you have read all about these new accessories that will be great for your next trip, you can click below to shop and see more details!

  1. Packing Cubes
  2. Fedora Beach Hat
  3. Hydro Flask Water Bottle

Happy travels!!

Holiday, Holiday, Kids, Lifestyle, Shop Our Instagram, Style

Coordinated Outfits for Family Photos

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season doesn’t involve the gifts, food, and all the craziness. What I look forward to, is keeping in touch with family and friends. And one way we do this is by sharing holiday cards! I love sending pics showing how much my kiddos have grown. And I really enjoy seeing all of the other family’s in our life- how much their kids have grown, the new additions since last year, and even the family animals that make it into the photos.

We have started a regular tradition of having a professional photographer (and now friend) take our photos each Fall. I love being able to look over the photos every year and look back on the different stages the kids were in. You don’t have spend a lot of money to capture wonderful images and have the keepsake of the different places you are in each year. A friend or family member might be willing to help or even set up a tripod to capture the moments!

To capture great photos (both classic and silly), no matter who the photographer is, I think it comes down to a great location, and a coordinated look. For a location, I have found that being outside in natural light, captures the best photographs. Over the years we have picked a range of places from parks in the country to historic sights in the city. My favorites have been the locations with rustic structures and interesting backgrounds like old buildings or water sources. This year, we chose the historic Valley Forge Park in Valley Forge, PA. What a place! Beautiful fields, rustic buildings, old stone walls, a wooden bridge over a stream- so many great photo ops.

Once I think of a location, I work on coordinating outfits. I usually don’t look for exactly the same item or print for us to wear. But rather colors or prints that compliment each other and pop in the photos. This year I was focused on a color scheme and was deciding between navy and green, red and black, and white and black. My go-to store/online retailer for family outfits has been the Gap Brands year after year. I find that they have so many trendy and classic styles and colors to choose from, that I have lots of options to work with between the brands to find the perfect look.

I always look for the kid’s outfits first. I find they are the hardest to land on for style and price. So by focusing on them first, I find it much easier to pair back the grown up outfits since ours are usually more classic items (hopefully that we already own or mostly own!) After looking at all of the options online, I selected the navy and green color theme. We are a very casual family so I like our outfits to reflect that. We are always in jeans for the most part. But I love having my daughter dress up in a pretty dress (while she will still wear one) to make the photos look a little more special than our day-to-day. I found this adorable navy dress with bright colored embroidery from Gap. It has a nice pop of color but still neutral being grounded in navy. When I saw the green and navy plaid shirt from Old Navy, I envisioned that they could work really well together.

Here are the outfit details for the kids (affiliate links):

My Son- Navy and Green Plaid Shirt / Slim Jeans (similar style) / Navy Hi-Top Sneakers (similar style)

My daughter- Navy Dress with Embroidery / Navy Cable Knit Tights / Silver Boots

Once I have the kids all taken care of, then it’s easier to decide on the outfits for the grownups. Since I grounded the looks in navy, I knew both my husband and I would wear navy tops or sweaters. Keeping the casual look, we both paired them with jeans. Then to keep overall look of being more casual with our outdoor setting, we picked tan/light brown shoes so they wouldn’t stand out too much.

Here are the outfit details for the grown ups (affiliate links):

Mom’s Outfit: Open Front Duster Cardigan (similar style) / Grey Peplum Tank (similar ss style) / Dark Indigo Jeggings / Tan Booties (similar style)

Dad’s Outfit: Marled Navy Crewneck Sweater / Straight Jeans (similar style) / Light Brown Loafers

I usually do a quick lay down as a double check that all the items will go together like this:

Once I feel good about the options then I just let the rest go and trust our photographer! When the kids were little, I stressed so much about getting the perfect shot, if they would smile, and if we would all look good in the same photo! But now over the years I’ve learned to just enjoy the moment! Like so many other moments and stages, you can’t control it all. And if you try to (at least for me), the fun is all gone. Documenting these family moments isn’t just about a good looking holiday card, but also about enjoying having fun and being silly all together. The amazing photos are just the extra bonus!

I hope you enjoy capturing the photos with your family- whatever that looks like to you. Just enjoy being together!

Here is the final product! And of course our other favorite family member had to join in the pic:)

xo,

Liz

Holiday, Holiday, Kids

Halloween Treat Bags

I love doing all the little things around the holidays which make it extra fun with the kiddos. They love giving their friends some treats for Halloween, but we are no longer allowed to bring in food treats due to allergies. If your kids like doing the same thing, here is a quick idea that you still have time for that will be fun to do and fun to give out. (These are also great for other holidays or celebrating bdays in the classroom).

The last few years we have created treat bags for their school friends filled with non-food treats like boucy balls, spider rings, pencils, notepads, bubbles etc. With multiple kids, making treat bags for over 40 kids can get expensive. But by going to a store where they sell these items in bulk like Target and the Dollar Store, you can give out cute treats without blowing your budget!

This year we chose Target and I let the kids pick out what they wanted to fill their bags with. I find that this activity allows the kids to feel part of the process and make the decisions, but I know it won’t end up costing me an arm and a leg!

I usually find these deals in the Target dollar section up in the front of the store or in the back corner where they set up their Halloween destination with candy, decor, etc. Here are the treats they picked out for this year as well as stickers to decorate the name tags (see below).

What’s also great about this project, is that the kids can basically do all the steps themselves. So they are empowered to figure things out but also feel a sense of accomplishment when they are done and pride when they hand out the bags to their friends.

First step is we start with making the name tags for each friend. We use a paper cutter to cut card stock into squares or rectangles. Then we use a single hole punch to punch a hole in the top corner. This is where we will attach the name tag to the gift bag.

Next comes decorating the name tags. This is by far my kid’s favorite step since I let them have free reign over however they want to decorate them. They use stickers, markers- whatever they think will look the best! My son can now write so he labels each tag with a friend’s name and then puts his name on the other side. My daughter isn’t able to fully write yet so I let her decorate one side and then I write From V on the other side.

Then comes the fun step of stuffing the bags! We separate each treat into a pile and the kids make sure there is one of each thing in each bag.

Final step is closing the bags. This is where the grownup may need to help a little. I use the twist tie to close the bag as well as attach the name tag. Loop the twish tie through the hole on the name tag. Then bunch the top of the goodie bag together, wrap the twist tie around the bag, and twist a few times. The bag should be secure and you should still be able to see the name on the tag. Voila! Here is the final product!

Hope you found this helpful and enjoy making treat bags with your own kiddos.

Happy Halloween!! xo, Liz