Fall Bucket List

Who’s excited about Fall?! We obviously are, and have made a list of some of the things we want to do to celebrate this lovely season.

Fall just lends itself to coziness, learning, long walks, holding hands, baking, and trying new things. Call us #basic, but we think it’s a pretty great season. I’ve started attending cooking and science lectures at Harvard, and they go throughout the season. Find something fun and new to learn in your area (and then share, we love to hear 🙂

Click here to print off the Fall Bucket List, and follow along!

Fall Bucket List-01What’s on your bucket list?

 

A few “during” photos, and journal entries. Week 1 to Week 4.

Remember how I don’t really like “before” and “after” photos? Mostly just calling them before and after. I do think it’s important to monitor your progress not only the scale but by how your clothes fit, and the visual progress you see.

My husband and I took some during photos before we started being more consistent with exercise, and tweaking our diet with less carbs and very limited sugar. And here’s the thing-I wasn’t perfect this month, but I still saw progress. I lost about 6 lbs, my jeans are looser, I feel stronger, and I can tell I am overall slightly leaner. These are not huge, dramatic changes, but they are a start on my ongoing journey. My goals continue to become stronger, and improve cardiac fitness. Also, while the first “during” shots are me when I am not at my fittest, I am grateful for my body then, and now, and I will be 1 year from now. Don’t hate on your body-it’s the only one you have 🙂

Week 1—–>Week 4

(don’t mind the socks and sandals haha. I didn’t know my husband would take a full body shot)

Check out my journal entries below as well. This is the most important part of health to me–how I feel.

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Sharing all this publically isn’t the easiest thing, but I hope it can help someone feel that they can make small changes that add up to improved health. I have definitely been inspired by others, and appreciate when people share their journey.

How to Find a Fitness Program or Gym That Works For You

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Fitness and health are super personal. We all have friends who swear by vegan/paleo/atkins/brightline/crossfit/yoga/running/weightlifting/*enter your preference here*. It can be overwhelming and confusing, but it is ok that people choose different ways to reach their health goals! It is ok that what works for one person is totally wrong for another. So, on the one hand, it’s confusing and overwhelming, but on the other…it’s awesome because you get to personalize what works for you from so many choices.

In general, I would make sure you study your choices and have some research or data behind it. It also helps to talk to your doctor or registered dietician or trainer or health guru or whoever you trust to give you solid advice. They can help you understand the “why” behind certain lifestyles, and give you tips to succeed.

As for us (and we are not your doctor OR your health gurus ; ), we prefer a balanced approach. Shocker! It just works for us to have moderation in all things, including with fitness and food. We’ve discussed food in previous months (paleo, Mediterranean, vegan), and continue to utilize each of those food styles in our own cooking styles.

This month is about fitness, and that ongoing journey we all are on. There is no “end”, as it is a continual thing we are striving for. That is why I don’t like “before” and “after” photos.

For some practical information:

  • Check with your insurance on gym membership discounts. Mine will give me and my husband up to $400 back a year on gym memberships. Nice! It won’t cover all the costs of the gym we chose, but it is a great chunk off.
  • Check with your employer on gym discounts. Mine gives discounts to gyms in the area, and combined with my insurance discount, it makes sense to join the gym! Look into combining several offers, and gyms can become affordable. I prefer a gym that doesn’t have a lot of “frills”, because I don’t want to pay $80-$150 a month for extras I’m not using. I am in and out of the gym, and just want to get my sweat on.
  • You don’t have to join a gym. Perhaps it doesn’t work financially, or perhaps timewise it doesn’t make sense to join a gym. Whatever your reason, home workouts are rapidly becoming more popular, and very effective. We all know there are companies out there who have their programs, and if you like that and have a friend who is a coach, by all means, go for it! They can be very helpful for people. But you don’t have to have a coach or join a program to be able to find great at home workouts. Here are some of our favorite resources for that:

Yoga with Adriene- We talked about Adriene in yoga month. She has been our favorite yogini for years, and still is.

Fitness Blender– Awesome husband and wife duo. Their workouts are effective, clear, minimal in the best way, and they have a lot of options to choose from.

Popsugar Fitness videos and workout posts–  Great for fun, “trendy” workouts. Who doesn’t want to train like a Victoria’s Secret Model sometimes 😉

Nike Training Club App– Workouts in the palm of your hand. Nike does a great job providing clear instructions, for whatever your goals are.

7 Minute Workout App– There are several versions of this basic app, this is just the one I use. It’s a great quick HIIT workout to get the blood going, and it’s really fun to notice how quickly the exercises get easier the more you do the workout (you are getting stronger!).

  • Take a hike. Seriously, it’s free, and awesome. (Walking in general is a great thing for your body).
  • Find a friend. Or don’t! Not everyone likes to workout with other people. And it’s totally ok to dig down and get your workout done alone. But if you thrive on company, and motivation from others, finding a buddy can really help.

 

Now then, who’s going to make some new goals this month? 🙂 Let us know what you like to do for exercise, and if you have any great ideas on how to make it more accessible or affordable.

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My Relationship with Fitness (and some tips to get started!)

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What is your relationship with fitness?

Mine has been a bit fickle, off and on, and under-appreciated. That’s not to say I haven’t pursued fitness in my life; I have, and it has helped me through some really important times. I’ve been fascinated by the human body since I was a teenager, and with fitness as an adult. I’ve always wanted to see what my body can do, but sometimes don’t know where to start. I’ve played sports, I’ve weight lifted, I’ve thrown myself into yoga… and I’ve enjoyed all of those things. It’s always a matter of falling back in love with exercising, each time I “take a break”.

It’s also a matter of finding something I love. I don’t love doing push-up after push-up for an hour each day. I don’t love running countless miles on a treadmill (or anywhere else for that matter). Over the years I’ve found what I DO enjoy — HIIT workouts, yoga, weight lifting, hiking, aerobic classes with friends, biking.

That’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a theme of what I enjoy in fitness. Things that combine outdoors with fitness being some of my favorites, and also ones that help me feel strong and empowered, such as with weightlifting.

What’s your relationship with your body, and body image?

Yikes, loaded question! This one is mostly a self-reflection question, but I also really like to hear people’s answers. Mine has mostly been positive, but as I really think about it, I’ve definitely had times in my life where I was so critical of it and disliked it. I think that’s not an unusual feeling for women and girls, and that’s so sad! I’m still not perfect at accepting my body 100%, but I have come to an appreciate my body, and what it can do, and even *gasp* think it looks pretty darn good, flaws and all. But this brings me to the point that I can accept my body, and also want to improve it in a healthy way. Accepting your body, and wanting to improve it are not exclusive.

And so, in an effort to become a stronger, healthier, leaner, me, I have some simple goals I want to achieve this month. But first, it’s important to remind myself not to expect that after 30 days I’ll look like Genzebe Dibaba. I’ve been guilty of this. Like, “it’s been 4 days of me working out, why can’t I see a six-pack?!” Patience.

My goals for this month are:

  • Lose about 4 lbs. This is an attainable goal and something that be done in a month. As I gain muscle, I expect to perhaps gain a small amount of weight, and I’m ok with that. But in a month, it’s not likely I’ll put on enough muscle to see an increase. Instead, I expect that I’ll burn some fat and a few lbs to start. As I’ve put on about 10/15 extra pounds this past year, I have something to work with 😉 Losing weight is not my main goal, but I anticipate it might be a nice “side effect”.
  • Feel more energy! To me, this means being able to get up when my alarm goes off, and not “snooze” so much. It means getting through the workday without that 2pm slump. It means being able to go out with my husband on a Friday night and staying out a little past our bedtime without feeling 80 years old. (Just a little bit though, because I’m basically 80 and love my early bedtime).
  • See definition in triceps. Firm up you little things.
  • Assisted pull ups to 50 lbs. (On my way to no assistance, but everything builds upon itself).

A few tips to help you achieve your fitness goals, whatever they may be.

  1. Set your expectations high, but realistic.
  2.  Be kind to yourself. No negative body talk. Celebrate it, thank it for what it can do!
  3. Pick a program if you are just starting out. Having something to follow, and an end to a challenge or program can really help beginners and the more advanced alike. But especially beginners, who could feel lost if they just decide to go for it and “exercise”; that’s pretty broad. Start with a 30-day challenge and build from there! I’ve enjoyed Jillian Michaels 30 day shred, P90X (90 days, not 30), Bikini Beach Body (again, longer challenge, but great), all the Yoga with Adriene 30 day Challenges, and others.
  4. Take a “during” photo before starting a new program. Let me explain. I don’t really like “before and after”, because it sometimes seems that it is saying that “before” is lesser, and that your life or body wasn’t good “before”. When in fact, your body is always in progress. It’s always “during” because we are always living our lives, and having experiences which shape us (physically and mentally). But seeing progress is so very motivating, so photos are important.
  5. I think even more important than photos, is to write a journal entry before (and during) a fitness program. Write how to feel, your energy levels, skin condition, digestion, any flare-up of illnesses, mental health, etc. How you feel is key, and improved health is the goal of exercise. Seeing a change in that area will also be very motivating. It has been for me.
  6. Last but not least, check with your doctor. I know, I know, you’ve heard this and it seems silly, but it’s important to have regular check-ups (nurse here). Do you need to ask your doctor if you can start taking walks and doing yoga if you’ve recently seen her or him for a checkup? No (in my opinion). But if you haven’t been in a while, or want to start a really intense new program, just hop in to make sure everything is running smoothly.

*Phew*, long post, but I wanted to really get into some ideas to help you start a fitness challenge! I’ll be doing my own this month, as I really want to “fall back in love” with working out and getting stronger. Whatever you decide to do, we can do it together and motivate each other. Namaste, and go lift! 😉

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DIY Fizzing Toilet Cleaning Pods

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I have a quick and inexpensive DIY for you! I saw this recipe and tutorial on Pretty Providence and knew I wanted to try it. Once you get all the ingredients, these cost cents to make a batch, and are whipped up in just a few minutes of hands on time. Below is my experience, and some tips.

Recipe from Pretty Providence, very slightly adapted with my notes.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup citric acid (sometimes can be under the name ‘Sour Salt’, or “lemon salt”. I ended up finding mine at a local Armenian store, as the grocery stores near me did not carry it. Some grocery stores carry it, or Amazon is always a good bet). 
  • 1/2 tsp vinegar (white)
  • 1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide
  • 15 to 20 drops your choice of essential oil (lavender, rosemary or peppermint. I like peppermint for it’s strong, fresh scent). 
  • silicone candy molds. You can also hand shape into little discs, or use mini muffin tins, but make sure to line the tins with paper cupcake holders. These pods dry hard, and it is very difficult to get them out of hard molds. I learned through experience. 

Instructions

  1. Add baking soda to a mixing bowl and break up clumps. Baking soda naturally cleans and eliminates odors, making it the perfect base for the fizzies. Add the citric acid (see my notes above) and stir. The citric acid is what adds the fizz to these cleaners.

  2. In a small glass bowl, mix vinegar and hydrogen peroxide, which will work together to help clean your toilet. Now SLOWLY drop by drop, add vinegar and hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda. If you add it all at once, you’ll have a big mess due to the reaction between the baking soda and citric acid!

  3. Now add the essential oil and gently mix. This is just for scent, so you can choose any scent you like. I used peppermint.

  4. Use a half teaspoon to scoop the mixture into your candy molds, and press in gently with your fingers. You don’t want to fill them completely full, because this will expand. They really do puff up, it’s fun to watch. Let dry for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  5. Place the pods in glass jar and keep them sealed near your toilet. (I just used the open bowl for photo’s sake 😉 Make sure you label them and keep them out of reach of children, as with any cleaning supplies, natural or not. Whenever your toilet needs a little freshening, just drop one of these in!

    Photos of my process below.

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Done, and ready to freshen! With a little bit of fizzing action to boot 😉

Reader Spotlight-DIY Blanket Ladder

Melia, one of our sweet readers (and sister! ;), decided to go all in with DIY this month with us! Side note, she is one of the most creative, artistic, and crafty of us six sisters. We definitely were inspired by her this month.

Melia just moved into a larger apartment, from a tiny studio, so wanted to make a few pieces for her new space. Here is one of those projects, which she made for next to nothing! Color me impressed.

Tools and Supplies (mostly gathered from extra bits and pieces around the house. Also can be bought at any home improvement store).

  • 2, 2×4 pieces of wood-about 71 inches long (adjust to what size you want your ladder)
  • 2, 1×4 pieces of wood-21 inches long
  • Small finishing nails
  • Wood glue
  • Sander/sandpaper
  • Wood stain that also acts as a sealer

 

Directions:

Sand all wood, then start building! (I love when a tutorial starts that easily).

The top rung of the ladder should be about 8.5 inches from the top, and then about 11 inches in between each of the next three rungs. That should leave roughly 16 inches on the bottom (if using the 71 inch long lengths).

Use wood glue to attach your rungs to each side piece of wood, and let dry slightly. Then nail each piece securely, using small finishing nails.

If desired, distress the wood somewhat at this point (can also do some after staining). Bang it up with tools, sand the corners, and make little marks in the wood with a screwdriver to help give it an older look.

Wait for the wood glue to dry completely, then stain entire ladder. Can continue to distress after stain dry if desired, or just sit back and enjoy your work!

Time: 2-3 hours.

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And done!! Look how amazing that is! All from extra bits and pieces around the house. It will be perfect for blankets, or towels and other linens. Hopefully this can inspire you to try your own DIY project.

 

What projects have you been working on lately?

Read * Watch * Listen

Happy Saturday! We love to get up early on Saturdays to get work done, so then we can relax and enjoy some leisure time in the afternoons. Here is a quick roundup of what we have been loving to read, watch and listen to on Saturdays (or any day we can snag a few minutes ;). There is so much out there to choose from, but these are a few items of media that we feel are worth your time and attention.

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  1. Crazy Rich Asians. Read the book before the movie comes out! It is a fun, light book, with plenty of silly drama.
  2. Educated. A fascinating and moving memoir about author Tara Westover’s experience growing up in an extremist household without formal education or healthcare, and how she went on to better her life in extraordinary ways.
  3. Sonnets from the Portuguese.  Elizabeth Barret Browning’s sonnets are something to escape with. Her writings of love are magnificently written.
  4. Traveling Home. You of course already follow The Bucket List Family. Well, this is their new show that came out July 1st (on YouTube-Home Love Network), about collecting inspiration for their new home, from all around the world. We really enjoy the down to earth, adventurous, and sweet nature of the Gee Family, and the Home Love Network does a great job at sharing the process of designing their new home in Hawaii. New episodes every Sunday.
  5. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? 10/10 would recommend this documentary. It is a salient and heartfelt look at Fred Roger’s life and vision for the show ‘Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood’, and how he calmly used his skills to reach children (and adults) in a way no other show on television did. This documentary is not “in your face” with its lessons, but they are powerful. Bring tissues.
  6. Queer Eye. Season 2. Enough said. (But seriously, if you haven’t already watched season 1, please evaluate your life, and then go watch it all).
  7. I Put a Spell on You, Album by Nina Simone.  The sweet, soulful sounds of Nina Simone are a go-to in our house. This album is the perfect one to start with if you’re new to Nina. Put it on and chill out this Sunday afternoon.
  8. Downtown, by Allie X.  This was a recommendation from a friend who I always trust with music advice. Allie X has a great, airy sound, and her music is creative and new. Start with the song Downtown.
  9. Judge John Hodgeman. I am a huge podcast geek, and Judge John Hodgeman is one I put on when I need something witty, quick, goofy, that makes me laugh. Everyone needs something lighter in their podcast roundup and this one’s perfect in its ability to be funny and smart.

 

What are you reading, watching or listening to these days? We love recommendations!

DIY Gold Bedside Lamps (and some spray paint tips)

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This is not much of a tutorial, but rather a “hey, look how simple DIY can be!”. I knew I wanted lamps beside our bed for reading, and I looked at so many options. Some were too expensive, some were too big for our tiny apartment, some were good and a decent price, but I wanted a challenge *wink*. I knew I could make some look how I wanted, on the cheap, and that would fit perfectly in our tiny space. My first trip to Goodwill I came across a matching pair of lamps and snatched them up for $3.99 each. They are just basic, dorm room type lamps, but I knew that they would look spiffy with a fresh coat of gold. I love that they clipped onto the bed, which saves us precious space, and they plug in rather than need to be wired to the electricity of the house, which was essential (#renters). Here are a few inspiration pieces I used when buying and painting my lamps.

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A few spray paint tips:

  1. Get the good stuff. Pay a few extra bucks. I love Rustoleum in Pure Gold. Make sure to get the cans with the spray nozzle on top, it makes the application and clean up so much smoother.
  2. Wait the proper amount of time for the next coats. You can usually either do quick second coats within about 30 minutes of the initial coat, or wait 24-48 hours. Meaning, don’t remember in 3 hours and try to do another coat. It will glob up and make a mess.
  3. Clean up fingers with nail polish remover. If you get a good nozzle (see number 1), you shouldn’t have much finger clean up at all.
  4. Use long, steady strokes to apply paint. Overlap each layer slightly, and be confident with it as you go around! Don’t be timid; show that paint who’s boss.
  5. Make sure you are far enough away from cars, house, small children, etc when painting. It’s amazing how a tiny bit of wind can carry spray paint.
  6. Clean your nozzle after each time you use it.

Here’s the final product. There will be matching ones on either side. (Full house tour will be done later. All 400 square feet!). What do you think of the gold lamp transformation? Is DIY your thing, or would you rather just pick up a final project from the store? (No wrong answer, I like to do both depending on what it is :).

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DIY: Honey Turmeric Mask

Let’s get right to it–my skin has had a hard time adjusting from Utah to Massachusettes. The stress of a move, combined with days in a car, and not drinking enough water has played a part as well. I have been trying to help calm my face of breakouts and redness and get it settled down, as I settle down in a new city.

The first thing I wanted to try was turmeric. Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, which make it good for acne. It also can help lighten dark spots on skin, including scars. My skin has been oily here, and I am always looking for ways to even my skin tone, so I wanted to give turmeric a try. So far I have really felt it helps sooth my skin, and my breakouts are subsiding. A super easy recipe I used is:

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Continue with masks 1-2 times a week to see best results.

Video of the process below.

Let us know if you try it and enjoy it!

Simple Macrame Plant Hanger

I have wanted to try making a plant hanger for years now, but never just did it. Now that we are in our new studio and I am putting together our home, it is the perfect time for these kinds of projects. I also am a “plant lady”, and I think the more plants the better! I do need to work on not killing them though….

Now let’s get into this DIY. First step–I had to find a tutorial to walk me through the process. I have never done macrame but used to make friendship bracelets like no one else. I figured that might carry over somewhat. It did, but I realized I still really needed a good enough tutorial to walk me through every step. You guys, I looked at every tutorial on Pinterest.  None of them fit my needs. They were either way too complicated for a beginner like me, or too simple (I wanted a bit more than just basic knots), or they had really poor instructions. But then I found *drumroll* Persia Lou’s tutorial for a simple macrame plant holder. It was just what I was looking for–simple but with a pretty design, had great photos of the process, along with clear and concise written instructions. Perfect! I thought about making my own tutorial based on my experience, but hers is just so great, so why reinvent the wheel? I have done the work of finding the best beginner tutorial for you, you’re welcome. What I do want to show you is my experience making my own holder, and a few tips I picked up along the way.

  1. I used Paracord which is super strong, easy to knot, pretty, and I had a big bunch leftover from another project. Win. Also, now my plant holder acts as a lovely emergency supply item. (Paracord is a common type of rope for emergency situations due to its strength and specific type of weave).
  2. The tutorial used 10 foot long lengths, I used 8 feet for my smaller pot. You could probably get by with 6 feet, depending on how long you want it to hang down. Mine is hanging from a short slanted ceiling in our home, so it could have been shorter, but I do like the length I ended up with as it became eye level with my sofa. Anyways, you get the idea– the shorter the length of rope, the shorter the planter. Just don’t make it too short, you will need plenty to make the knots.
  3. Once you cut one length of your rope, just use that as a guide for the remaining seven. Trust me, it’s a lot easier than trying to measure and cut every one using a tape measure.
  4. I used a gold bangle I had for the ring. It worked perfectly! Look around your house, use what you have.
  5. I frayed the end of mine to make a little pom-pom looking end. I think it’s cute. I think it also would look good to leave them hanging longer if you cut your cords longer. With paracord, I think it looks best to fray, or brad the ends. It’s not the most pretty cord to leave raw. Other types of rope might look better left hanging.
  6. I used a gold planter to go with my pretty gold ring at the top. I also love white planters for a minimalistic look, but don’t be afraid to add some color via the pot. It helps the macrame stand out.
  7. Just start! It’s an easy, fun craft, and makes a lovely addition to any room in the house. This is coming from someone who is admittedly not very crafty. You can do it. I want to work up to some of the more difficult patterns. Starting with this one gave me the confidence to try more.

Here are a few photos of my process. I think seeing some of these close up with paracord might help anyone who wants to use this type of rope for their project.

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