Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Magical, Ethereal Maternity Shoot

Back in February, I featured a seriously stunning bridal shoot by a photographer named Rebecca Carroll. They were genuinely some of the most gorgeous bridal photographs I'd ever seen, so when I saw that Rebecca had submitted a maternity shoot to us, I couldn't wait to see it. Let's just say I wasn't disappointed, guys. The level of visual magic she incorporated into these photos is truly epic. What an incredible project this mama to be will be able to show her little one someday!

I asked Rebecca to share a little about her vision for the shoot. "Lacey is a beautiful mother to be from Sooke, BC on the west coast of Canada," Rebecca explained. "We decided to go with a very ethereal style for her maternity session. We shot at Cedar Haven amongst the giant trees and ferns. Franziska Castioni from Charming Decor let me borrow some things to beautify the scene, and made a flower crown for us. Erin Bradley did her makeup and hair all outside in nature. We had a fantastic time playing dress up in the woods with smoke grenades and thrones. Lacey is expecting a baby boy with her partner Thor soon!"

I love everything about that. And I'm excited to share some of my personal favorites from the shoot in this post. Enjoy!

Photography: Rivkah Photography by Rebecca Carroll  //  Model: Lacey Jones  //  Hair and Makeup: Beauty and Style by Erin Bradley  //  Design and Decor, Floral: Franziska Castioni at Charming Decor Event Design  //  Venue: Cedar Haven Weddings

You can view more of Rebecca's stunning work on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What's In My Yoga Bag (+ A $50 Cottonelle Fitness Must-Haves Kit GIVEAWAY!)

What's In My Yoga Bag

I've done a lot of yoga themed posts over the years, and have shared everything from my favorite yoga clothes to the classes I most love to my outdoor yoga practice essentials. But I recently realized that I'd never shared one of the most basic items when it comes to yoga gear - the contents of my yoga bag. Now I'm admittedly not one of those ultra put together people who walks around in super stylish workout clothes carrying an expensive, top-of-the-line gym bag. You can usually find me practicing in cheap black leggings and an old sports bra and/or oversized tee, and what I call my "yoga bag" is just a favorite tote filled with the things that I feel best contribute to my overall experience. I don't follow a lot of rules about what I should or shouldn't have in the bag. Through trial and error I've found that items that work best for me, and I hope by sharing them I'm able to inspire you to find those that work best for you as well.

1. A Well-Loved Yoga Mat. I mean, let's just get the obvious one out of the way, right? I've gone through many yoga mats over the years but this one is my favorite. I like the pale gray color, and it's an extra thick (5 mm) mat that I initially got for outdoor practice but now use indoor as well. Lots of places have yoga mats you can use, but there is something about having a well-loved one with me that helps me stay mindful during a class.

2. Extra Hair Ties. I am an expert at losing and/or breaking my hair ties. I like to keep some extras in my yoga bag as back up. Emi Jay makes some super cool wide ones and I love that they donate 20% to charity.

3. A Hairbrush and Dry Shampoo. Especially if I have errands to run or need to take Essley to school or dance after I work out, brushing some dry shampoo through my (usually sweaty) hair is a necessary and easy fix.

4. Crystals. Hey, I never claimed to have lost the hippie spirit that ran through me in my early twenties, guys. Yoga is about more than just fitness to me. It's important to my practice to be mindful and have a good headspace when I'm doing yoga, and that means keeping objects that promote positive energy closely. I always carry at least one in my yoga bag (and in my purse, too).

5. A Reusable Water Bottle. I have had this one for years, and have never attended a yoga class or practiced in my living room without it since.

6. A Hand Towel. I don't usually practice hot yoga but there are times that even the gentlest of Hatha workouts make me sweat. I think constantly carrying around a barf cloth for my baby got me used to having a towel with me at all times, but honestly, it's a pretty handy thing to have on hand. Sometimes I use a fitness towel, but often I just grab a regular (and let's admit it, much softer) hand towel from my linen closet.

7.  Cottonelle® with CleanRipple® Texture Flushable Cleansing Cloths. I've already been completely open with you guys about my uncanny ability to sweat during even the easiest of yoga practices (see "hand towel" and "hairbrush/dry shampoo" above), so I may as well come right out and share the fact that when I say sweat, I'm talking about sweat pretty much everywhere, bum area not excluded. So I always have a pack of Cottonelle® with CleanRipple® Texture Flushable Cleansing Cloths in my yoga bag to help me feel my best during and after practice. Cottonelle® with CleanRipple® Texture is designed to clean better, so you're clean and confident enough to go commando. (Yep, commando. Because let's face it, underwear is the last thing you need standing in the way of you and nailing that inversion or setting a new personal record.) And Cottonelle® with CleanRipple® Texture toilet paper is equally awesome, so it's a must have for us at home too.

8. Essentials Oils. Essential oils are such a great way to really get into the whole mind/body/spirit aspect of yoga practice. Tea tree is great for feeling clean after a work out, and I love lavender for getting myself into a calm, focused head space before I start.  You can easily make a DIY yoga mat cleaner with essential oils too.

9. Homemade Trail Mix. I throw in some raw almonds, raw sunflower seeds, dried fruit, and seaweed. I'm always hungry after yoga, without fail, and a couple of hand fulls of this keeps me sustained until my next meal.

And now, onto the giveaway! Enter below to win a Cottonelle® Fitness Must Haves Kit ($50 ARV) as seen in the image above. It contains a selection of fabulous yoga/fitness must haves - Cottonelle® with CleanRipple® Texture Flushable Cleansing Cloths (one of my yoga bag essentials!), Benefit mascara, Dose of Colors lip gloss, Klorane dry shampoo (yet another of my yoga bag essentials!), Emi Jay hair ties (yet another of my yoga bag favorites), and a plain black baseball cap.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Cottonelle® "Fitness Must Haves" Reader Giveaway runs through 11:59 PM on October 28, 2016. There will be 20 winners total from several blogs. Good luck!

Fellow yogis, what do you carry in your yoga bag? Do you have any favorite yoga gear essentials? Are any of you attending Wanderlust 108 festival in Miami? (If so, I'm so jealous!)

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ballet Inspired

After two sessions of parent-and-me toddler dance classes, Essley is currently taking her first real ballet class. (Or, more accurately, whatever form of ballet 2.5-3 year olds actually do.) She is way into it. I just love peeking through the tiny window on the door of her weekly lessons and spying on the little ones enthusiastically attempting awkward plies and first positions. I started ballet when I was 5 and continued taking dance in various forms all the way through college. And although I was never even close to talented enough to pursue it for anything more than fun, I adored it, and seeing Essley love it so much has been pretty wonderful. I've actually been feeling inspired by all things ballet lately as a result, hence the images you see above that I've come across recently and decided to share. I can't wait to take Ess to see The Nutcracker at Christmas time.

Did any of you take (or still take) dance? Are any of your little ones dancers? Who else could stare at images of ballet dancers for hours?
Images from top: 1  //  2  //  3  //  4  //  5  //  6  //  7  //  8


Monday, October 17, 2016

Weekend Warriors: 6 Ideas for Rewarding Kids with Active Playtime

Now that the school year is fully in progress (it has been six weeks since Essley started preschool and she is smitten with it, by the way), the weather is cooling off, and it's getting dark earlier, it's been a little more challenging to make sure Essley is spending enough time playing outside. It's really important to us to encourage her to be active, but with available outdoor time becoming increasingly scarce during the week, we've had to get creative. One thing we've found to be incredibly successful (and fun for all of us!) is to reward Essley with weekend adventures to which she can look forward all week - all involving places that allow her to free-play outside. In exchange for doing a great job at school and participating in her other lessons during the week, she gets to do something exciting on the weekends that involves active outdoor time. (It's a win win for all of us!) Today I'm going to share some of our favorite ways to keep the kids healthy and thriving all year long by planning creative weekend activities that work throughout the seasons and despite busy schedules during the week.

1. Visit a pumpkin farm or apple orchard. This is a favorite of ours (as you can see from all the pictures in this post!), and such a great way to organically encourage outdoor play by taking advantage of a seasonal activity. We hit up a fall-themed place like this almost every weekend in October, and Essley looks forward to it all week. She loves exploring and running around, so it's an automatic physical activity that is enjoyable for all of us.

2. Go on a leaf hunt. This is actually something that was suggested by Essley's school, and we've had so much fun with it. They have a sensory table in their classroom and the teachers encouraged the students to find and bring in leaves for it. It's an easy (and free!) way for the whole family to participate in an active outdoor adventure together. It could also easily be modified for different times of the year (in the winter look for sticks or rocks to use in building in a snowman, in the spring look for budding flowers and snap photos of them, etc.). If you have a big yard, you can also take this a step further and rake lead piles to jump in. The best!

3. Have a simple fall (or even winter) picnic. This is another favorite of ours. There's no need to pack an elaborate lunch like you might do in the summertime either - just bundle up, throw a big blanket in a bag along with some healthy snacks (we like apples, string cheese, and CLIF Kid Zbars) and water, and head out for your favorite park, forest preserve, or outdoor place of play. CLIF Kid Zbars are a particularly great choice because they're made with organic ingredients, they're non-GMO, they contain all sort of important nutrients for active kids, they have no high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, or synthetic preservatives, and they come in flavors kids love. We also feel good buying them because we like what they stand for. CLIF Kid is dedicated to reclaiming play all year long, by encouraging boys and girls everywhere to get back outside, push their boundaries and feed their adventures. Pretty great, right? (You guys have to watch this awesome video they put together too.)

4. Go day camping. We've done this at forest preserves and nature areas but you can just as easily do it in your backyard. Spend an afternoon together as a family collecting sticks for a campfire (and use it to make hot cider!), having a camp-themed sing-a-long (bonus active points for incorporating a dance party), and playing outdoor games. If you're not as into the camping theme, just make it an outdoor daytime party instead.

5. Run. Fall is the season of races. My husband usually runs the Chicago Marathon this month (this year he did a half marathon instead with another coming up in a few weeks), and I love to have fun with shorter fall races like 5Ks and turkey trots. Essley gets so excited about these races, so we'll go for short runs as a family with Emmett in the jogging stroller and Essley running along side us. Usually these are just to the park and back, but it's great motivation for her to pretend we're running real races like daddy does. If your kids are a little older, sign up for an actual race! There are endless options this time of year for types of races, distances, etc. And what kid doesn't like to get a medal?

6. Go on a hike. Depending on where you live, summer hiking can be miserably hot, so take advantage of cooler temperatures during the school year and go on a family hike. When I was growing up, my dad would call these "nature walks" and my sister and I thought they were the greatest of adventures. We'd bring boxes and collect cool rocks and other goodies we've find along the way, and just run, play, and explore.

I hope these ideas help inspire you to participate in fun outdoor playtime adventures with your kids during the school year. We've found that treating them as rewards for their hard work during the week is especially encouraging (and they genuinely feel like rewards for our work weeks too!).  I'd love to hear about any activities (with or without little ones) that you enjoy in the fall (and beyond) that promote being physically active as well.

Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.