New Project – Check It Out!

Hi there sweet friends! I know I’ve been a little MIA (again), but there’s a real reason this time!

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I’ve started a new blog called Living Simply Normal!

I feel like I’m at my absolute best when I’m giving advice, telling stories, or sharing my personal experiences with people I love. So it just flew into my heart that I should amp up the scale a little bit and branch out from friends – to the internet!

Living Simply Normal is the place where I’ll share my favorite cleaning and organization hacks (because y’all know how much I love both of those things) and there will also be other things on there to share advice, tips, and just encourage you to love your simply normal life.

You see, I feel like a lot of us feel like we’re behind. Or we’re not where we should be because of what we see from others on social media and Pinterest. We think that everything about our life should be “Pinterest” perfect, or we should be doing the same things our college roommate is doing.

But – guess what?! You’re so wrong!

Hate to break it to you, but you are. You do NOT need to be doing anything at all, in any way, shape or form, like anyone else you see online. You know why? Because your life is amazing. Just the way it is. It really is perfect.

All the things you’ve done, either just yourself or with your husband or wife, those things have built this amazing life for you. And you’ve moved at your own speed which is exactly what you should be doing.

And you should be spending your time doing things that make your heart happy. Not things that Pinterest tells you that you should do. Do you love sitting at home binge watching Sex and The City, but feel guilty for not making one of the DIY projects you pinned on Pinterest earlier this week? Or do you see your old college roommate driving 2 hours away to chop down a Christmas tree, and you’re dreading the 2 minute drive to Home Depot to pick out a tree?

Stop comparing. Stop setting your life up by Pinterest standards. You’re missing all the great normalness that your life has. There is so much joy in your normal life, you just need to refocus!

I hope that Living Simply Normal will inspire you to love your normal life. Maybe step out of your comfort zone a little bit. And maybe you’ll learn a kitchen hack or two! Step into my neighborhood of normal, and celebrate every beautiful inch of your normal life!

You can head over to Living Simply Normal and sign up for email updates on new posts. And I’ll also send you some bonus motivation, encouragement, and give you first dibs on challenge subscriptions! You can also head over to the Facebook page and Like it to get notified when there are new posts!

I’ll try my best to keep updating this personal blog as I go along (mostly so my sweet family can keep up with our thrilling life), but most of my time will be spent over at LSN for now. I hope you guys check it out and enjoy. And if you ever want me to answer any questions on that blog, just shoot me an email!

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Life in Pictures!

I’m just going to do a little phone photo dump on here…that should about do the trick to fill you in on life lately!

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Starbucks giving away free coffee every time you buy 5 is pretty much a guarantee for a weekly coffee run.

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But then I also invested in this because, you know, #budget. And because there isn’t a Dunkin Donuts near us and I miss their coffee like woah.

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When Steven is out of town, she follows me everywhere.

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Happiness is when your Christmas cards come in the mail. Cheesy smile, check!

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Staff meeting at work called for peanut butter blossom cookies.

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The weather lately…

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The weather lately, again. Cold. This morning walk with the pups called for ear warmers and winter coat.

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I’m loving having a fireplace. The mantle doesn’t look like that anymore though. We’ve already switched to Christmas decor.

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Thanksgiving dinner prep.

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More prep. Two Thanksgiving’s ago I almost broke our garbage disposal because I put all of the potato peels down the drain and tried to grind them all up. Well it backed up the sink and we had to unscrew all the piping (and by we, I obviously mean Steven) and scrape it all out. So now, I don’t put any potato skins down the disposal. Lesson learned.

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Turkey day! This was the most delicious turkey I’ve ever had/made. Because I love y’all, I’ll share the recipe. But only because I will probably be coming over to one of your houses in the next few years for Thanksgiving and I want you to cook me a delicious turkey. It’s really a selfish recipe sharing motivation.

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He was SUPER helpful on Thanksgiving. He fell asleep even before we ate.

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Thanksgiving dinner consisted of turkey, macaroni & cheese, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green beans. A little dinner for two and it was perfect. And we had leftovers for three days so I’m not mad.

img_0767I put up our 2016 family picture in the hallway and it makes me happy every time I walk by it.

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This is how Steven and Mila watched the end of the Michigan game on Saturday. Sad times since Michigan lost (the refs were terrible), but I love when he picks her up! She hates it ūüôā

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We can’t wait to see these sweet friends NEXT WEEK!!!! Our view will be very different than the last time we saw them…up to the mountains we go!

Hope you all had a happy and fun Thanksgiving! Now, it’s time to bake all the Christmas cookies!

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These Are a Few of My Favorite Things – 2016 Edition

A few posts ago I told you about some great Nordstrom finds under $50 to kick-off your holiday shopping season.

This week, I’m playing Oprah. Oprah’s favorite things used to me on my must-see TV list every year. I loved seeing what gadgets she discovered or what blankets she loved curling up with.

So, I took a note¬†from Oprah. I’m sharing some of my favorite things from 2016! But no, each reader will not be receiving all of these items to take home. Sorry to let you down. Maybe next year after I hit the lottery ūüôā

Katherine’s Favorite Things of 2016

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1. CamelBak Waterbottle 32ozAmazon ($20.95) – I carry this thing with me everywhere I go and I drink at least 3 or 4 of them a day. It’s a great reminder to keep drinking water! I love the straw on it to.

2. Arrow EarringsFrancesca’s ($12) – These are my go-to every day earrings. I love them. They’re pretty tiny though. I’m proud of myself for not losing them yet.

3.¬†LotionEos Berry Blossom ($5.99) – I hate having dry hands and in the winter it’s extra bad. I keep this bottle of lotion at my desk at work and it is a life saver. I love the Berry Blossom scent. It keeps my hands nice and soft but not oily or slippery.

4. Sheet SetPeach Skin Sheets ($55 – $69.99) – I’m obsessed with these sheets. I got my first set a few years ago at a holiday gift expo. They were a vendor there and I’m hooked now. These sheets don’t pill up after you wash them like other sheets. And they’re so super soft. They come in a bunch of different colors too!

5.¬†HoodiesNike Rally Funnel-Neck Pullover ($65) – Yea, I obviously had to throw some Nike at you. This is my all time favorite, hands down, best hoodie ever. I have two of them and I wear them every single week. The funnel-neck makes me feel like I’m wearing a scarf with my hoodie which is the ultimate cozy, comfy feeling.

6.¬†ShoesNike Pegasus 32 ($110) – Have a runner on your list? I switched my running shoes this year from the Nike Free to the Pegasus 32 and I’m never going back. These shoes are light like the Frees but they have a lot more support. I’m a big fan.

7. Travel Hanging¬†OrganizerVera Bradley ($48) – I love this thing. I use it even when I’m not traveling. But it has definitely been a life saver this year. It’s easy to store and carry in your luggage and keeps everything neat and organized.

8.¬†Personalized Wine GlassesEtsy ($10.95) – I got one of these as a bridesmaid’s gift this year and I have used the heck out of it! I love having anything personalized.

9. Pet Hammock Seat CoverPetsMart ($37.99) – This thing has also been a life saver. Taking the dogs to and from boarding, or hiking, or just on a joy ride, this seat hammock has saved my car seats. It keeps most of the dog hair contained and it keeps the dirt from their feet from getting on my seats. Plus it creates a barrier from the front seat so no more jumping up front to play co-pilot!

10. Workout HeadbandsSweaty Bands ($15) – These are the only headbands I’ve found that will stay in my hair through an entire workout. Whether it’s in the gym or going on a run, they never move! I love these headbands and cannot recommend them enough. They come in a ton of fun colors and patterns too!

Happy Shopping!

 

 

 

 

Should I Try It? Stitch Fix Review!

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Alright y’all, lots of you have probably heard about the fashion subscription service Stitch Fix.¬†If you were’t quite sure if you should try it for yourself, don’t worry. I tried it out for you first! Here’s what you need to know to help you decide whether it’s for you.

To get started, you’ll take a profile quiz¬†online about your style preferences.¬†When you land on the Stitch Fix home page and want to get started, they will take you through a series of questions. The profile building takes about 10 minutes so make sure you set some time aside to go through it. They ask you your clothing sizes, how you would describe your style, and they show you some outfits that you can rank whether you love or hate them. If you have a Pinterest account with a board of fashion or clothes you like (or hate) you can give them a link to that board so the stylist can check it out. They will also ask you about your budget preferences. You’re not charged for any items up front but you will have the opportunity to buy the clothes they ship you. If there’s no way you’d ever buy a $300 shirt, make sure you keep that in mind when answering this section. The last part has a section for notes. DO NOT SKIP THIS PART! Stitch Fix can send you a box full of goodies that can be filled with clothes, shoes, and accessories. I used the comments section to let my stylist know that I wasn’t really interested in any accessories. A real person actually reads your profile so if you have styles, colors, or cuts that you love or hate, tell them! I also made sure to tell my stylist in the comments section that I didn’t want any dresses, anything glittery, or anything too far “out there” when it comes to fashion.

If you want to get started, you will be charged $20.¬†No matter what, you have to pay the $20 styling fee when you sign up for your first shipment (they call your order a “Fix”). You don’t have to commit to a weekly or monthly contract, you can schedule your shipments one at a time. But each time you schedule a Fix you will have to pay the $20 fee. If you decide you want to buy any of the items they send you, that $20 will be applied toward the final cost of your items. But if you end up shipping everything back and not keeping anything, you’ll be out that¬†$20 no matter what. Just be sure when you are scheduling your first order, if you don’t want to set up a recurring subscription that you choose the individual Fix¬†scheduling option.

Once your box arrives, have fun playing dress up!¬†Each box will come with a little note from your stylist talking about the pieces she chose for you, as well as an outfit builder that shows each piece in your box and how you can use it to create¬†an outfit. I have heard from other users that your first box might not be spot on when it comes to matching your style so keep that in mind. The stylists base their choices for you on the online profile you build, and it can really help them if you have a Pinterest board. But other than that it’s up to their discretion. The more you shop and provide feedback on the items, the better your stylist will get to know you and your personal taste. You have the same stylist each time you order so they do pay attention to your feedback. But don’t be discouraged if there are one or two items in your first Fix¬†that are a little¬†off base. Luckily for me, I legitimately loved each item in my box. Everything was right up my alley. I included a link to my “All Dolled Up” Pinterest board so that might have helped. Here’s what I got in my first box.

This absolutely amazing grey anorak jacket was my favorite item in my box. The jacket was amazing quality and I loved everything about it. The striped lining on the inside made me happy! I also got the mustard yellow top. The top of the shirt was lacy and had a really pretty design. The top portion of the back of the shirt has the same lacy design on it (I think I forgot to take a picture of the back of the shirt Рoops!). I love the mustard color and it looked really cute with the grey jacket. It was a loose, flowy top which is something I said I liked in my profile.

In addition to the jacket I also got this dark purple hooded cardigan. Sorry my photography skills haven’t quite reached the professional level yet but I wanted y’all to be able to see the hood in the back! And you get a better picture of the lacy design of the top too. The cardigan was incredibly soft, it had pockets, and I loved how long it was. It was so comfortable!

This blue blouse was also super cute. The first picture shows you the sleeve cut-out design that was the real highlight of this top. Both sleeves has cute little flower design cut-outs which really dressed it up. Again, a loose, flowy top just like I asked for. The last thing in my box was this pair of skinny jeans. There was nothing exceptionally wonderful about them, but they were super stretchy and fit me just right. I cuffed them at the bottom and I thought they looked super cute with my booties and the blue top.

Here is the little note and outfit card that your stylist sends you. It highlights each item and gives outfit suggestions.

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Check out the price sheet and look at your budget. Your box will come with a price sheet that has the cost for each item. Here was mine.

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Some key things to note:

  • You get a 25% discount if you buy all five items in your box.
  • Don’t forget, they apply your $20 styling fee you paid already toward anything that you purchase, even if it’s just one thing.
  • If you want to buy three or four of the items in your box, when you take into account the $20 you’ve already paid, it is probably worth it to go ahead and keep all five items unless you really hate one thing. The 25% discount will usually pay for at least one item, so make sure you do the math before you forego that 25% discount.

DO NOT TAKE THE TAGS OFF THE ITEMS.¬†Don’t take the tags¬†off anything¬†unless you’re planning on buying it 100%. You can’t send anything back that doesn’t have a tag on it. Be really careful if you want to wear any of the items before sending them back too. I could have tucked the tag into the pocket of the grey anorak jacket and worn it to work one day before sending it back, but if you drop any food on it¬†or if anything happens to it while you’re wearing it, you have to buy it. Just be careful.

You Have 3 Days To Decide What to Keep.¬†Once your box arrives, start trying things on right away and deciding if it’s in your budget to keep it. You only have three days to put your returned items in the mail and “checkout” online before you’ll start getting charged for the clothes in your box. Whether you want to keep it all or keep nothing, you’ll have to go through the online checkout process. You will get an email from Stitch Fix around day 2 after you receive your box that will have a link for you to checkout. All of the items you received will be listed as well as the price. You tell them what you’re keeping, what you’re sending back, and then tell them about the piece. Did you love the style? Did it fit right? They want your feedback. Make sure you’re honest so that your next box can be better tailored to your style.

Before you decide what to keep, review your budget.¬†When I saw the total price for my box, for all the items, would be $250, my jaw dropped a little bit. That seems like A LOT of money for five things. But, keep in mind that these are high-quality items and you can tell. I am an Old Navy shopper through and through. For me, this box is the equivalent of shopping at J. Crew or Banana Republic. I will do it occasionally, but not on the regular. If you’re looking to step up the quality of your wardrobe, Stitch Fix will deliver. So I considered that, and then I also considered how much I typically spend on clothes each month. Here’s what my spending looked like:

Oct. 8th – Nov. 7th: $78.45

Sept. 8th – Oct. 7th: $144.89

Total: $223.34

So for me, purchasing my box would have been about the same as two months of my current spending on clothes. It’s a good idea to review your spending habits and see if adding or substituting the Stitch Fix box is feasible. If I had kept all the items in my box, that would have been the end of my spending on clothes¬†for the next two months. You be the judge if it’s worth it to you or not.

They send you a prepaid envelope to return items.¬†After you have checked out online, put whatever items you’re returning in the big ‘ole bag/envelope they give you and drop it in the mail to be shipped back. Again, make sure you do this within three days of receiving your box. The instructions didn’t say anything about needing to print anything to put into the return envelope to show that it was yours, but just to be safe I dropped that price sheet/invoice paper into the envelope as well. Always better to be safe than sorry.

My final thoughts: I think this is a great service if you’re looking to step up the quality of your wardrobe, or if you looking to introduce some style. Because of where I work, I don’t have to dress up. In fact most days I’m wearing a hoodie a jeans. Sometimes it’s hard to bring myself to buy cute clothes, but I know that when we¬†go out on dates or even just running around on the weekends, it would be nice to look a little more put together than I do right now. I take it as a personal challenge. If it wasn’t so close to the holidays, I would have purchased the grey anorak jacket (I was seriously so sad to send it back) and the mustard yellow top for sure. I will definitely order my next Fix after the holidays and really embrace the idea of looking more put together more often.

If you want to give Stitch Fix a try for yourself, I fully support you! Let me know how it goes, and here’s to many cute outfits in your future!

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This post may contain affiliate links which means at no charge to you, I may be compensated based on your purchases through certain links in this post.

 

Nordstrom Holiday Gifts for $50 or Less!

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So, the other day I was reading through some of my favorite blogs.¬†Sometimes they¬†will post links to¬†stores¬†they got their outfits from. Most¬†of the time, it’s Nordstrom.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think Nordstrom has the cutest selection of clothes. And when they have their semi-annual sale, you best believe I hit it up.

But on the regular, it’s pretty pricey for this Old Navy shopper.

However, last time I was directed to the Nordstrom website by clicking a link in a blog to an adorable leopard clutch, I browsed a bit. And stumbled upon something pretty fabulous.

Holiday gifts under $50. Yep, that’s my kind of bargain. It was chock full of beautiful, chic, cozy, cute holiday goodness!

And, because I love you guys, I thought I’d share the goodness. In case you’re on the hunt for something original, out of the ordinary, and extra special to get someone on your Christmas list this year, I’ve got you covered (well…Nordstrom’s got you covered).

I have a friend (okay, several) who are obsessed with animals. These are all gifts for the pet-lovers!

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1. Kitty Cat Coin Purse   2.#Elfie Cat Sweater   3.Jeweled Cat Ear Beanie

4.Cat Nap Eye Cover¬† ¬†5.Zoo Kid’s Backpack¬† ¬†6.Puppy Coin Purse

Want something to keep you cozy, comfy, and warm this winter? Plenty of options here!

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1.Grateful Initial Mug   2.Baby TOMS Crib Shoes   3. Monogram Throw

4. TOMS Women’s Slippers ¬† 5. Plaid¬†Pajama Pants ¬† 6. Plaid Infinity Scarf

7. Ok But First, Coffee Glass Mugs

And, finally, a whole lot of randomness. These are little thing for that one person on your list who seems to have, well, everything!

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1.2017 Planner   2. Botanicals Jar Candle   3. Rose Hibiscus Face Mist

4. Kate Spade Glitter Stud Earrings   5. Inspirational Bangle   6. Cute Ponytail Holders

7. Appetizer Idea Cookbook   8. Slate Serving Board   9. Liquid Therapy Wine Glasses

10. Men’s Nike Dri-FIT Tee ¬† 11. 2-pack Crystal Stud Earrings

Happy Shopping! 

30 Days of Gratitude:

Day 12: What texture are you grateful for?¬†This is a strange one. You know those really soft blankets? I’m going to go with soft blanket ūüôā

Day 13: What abilities are you grateful for? I’m¬†thankful for all that my body is able to do. I’m not the most athletic person, but I think all of the abilities my body gives me are pretty amazing. Also, the ability to exercise = sanity.¬†

Day 14: What sight are you grateful for today?¬†Currently, I’m thankful for my sweet husband sitting on the couch next to me. He has been¬†out of town for a while so I’m happy to see him home!

Day 15: What season are you grateful for? Um, the holiday season?! Duh! Oh, you mean like weather season? Fall, most definitely fall. 

PS: Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!?!? Ahhhh!! I’ll be sharing what I plan on making for my Thanksgiving dinner for two soon!

Friday Favorites and Some Fun!

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Friday Favorites – woo hoo!

This week was a little underwhelming, but there were a few highlights!

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One of the meals I enjoyed (5 times) this week was a homemade Yum Bowl! There’s a restaurant in town called Cafe Yum that we like to frequent when we have meetings off-campus. It’s a bowl full of rice, black beans, chicken, avocado, tomatoes, and Yum Sauce. The restaurant sells the Yum Sauce in a bottle so last time we were there I decided to buy some.¬†I have used it almost every day this week!

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I’ve been making my own Yum Bowls at home all week and they are so good!

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The dogs have been extra cuddly this week and I haven’t hated it! I bought them some toys ¬†at the store and they haven’t destroyed them yet – victory!

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I’ve had some quality reading material this week.

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Food Network Magazine is always a good read. They have some great Thanksgiving recipes I can’t wait to try!

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Can we talk about this Bourbon Apple Pie?! Apple pie is my absolute favorite so I’m thinking this is a must for me this year.

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I think I mentioned I was reading this book in an earlier post but I must tell you that I cannot put it down. I’m almost done and I can’t wait to share my review with you. It’s such an eye-opening ¬†book about racism in America. Jodi Picoult always writes about such thought-provoking¬†topics and brings you front and center to¬†the criminal¬†justice system with amazing impact. I plan on finishing this one up this weekend.

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You want to know what makes a great co-worker? Someone who gives you coloring books at work and orders you to color one page a day.

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I highly encourage everyone to take a coloring break each day to destress and focus on the other side of your brain that doesn’t process numbers/charts/data and regroup.

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I didn’t have any particularly “wow” outfits at work this week – but I did do something else for my wardrobe!

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Have you guys heard of Stitch Fix? My mom turned me on to it (yes – my mom is way more stylish than I am, this is not new news) and I decided to give it a try! My first box should arrive early next week so I will let you guys know what I think. Check out their website for more details!

30 Days of Gratitude:

Day 10: What taste are you thankful for today? Coffee.

Day 11: What holiday are you grateful for? I’m going to be cheesy and go with Christmas because I love putting up a Christmas tree, decorating the house, and all the festivities that go along with the holidays!

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After the week we’ve had, I think we can all agree that some serious FUN is in order! I hope you weekend is filled with lots of fun, whatever that means to you. Me? I’ll be watching my Falcons beat the pants off of the Eagles. Cheers, y’all!

Wednesday Workout

This week’s Wednesday Workout is a fun little circuit. I love circuits because it helps mix up the movements which helps prevent injury and boredom!

Equipment: Timer

Time: 15 minutes

Burpees: Want to challenge yourself? Add a push-up to your burpee when you’re down on the ground. You can also add a jump at the end.

Push-Ups: Keep your elbows in, don’t have chicken wing arms!

Mountain Climbers: Try and stay parallel to the ground and don’t let your back or butt pop up. Bring knees all the way up to your elbows.

High Knees: Hold your arms out in front of you and try to bring your knees up 90-degrees and hit your hands. Hold your abs in and you’ll really feel it!

Sumo Squat: These are just like regular bodyweight squats but with a wider base. Feet should be more than shoulder-width apart and toes should be slightly pointed out.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

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And here’s your playlist! Remember – it’s supposed¬†to be hard! Challenge yourself – you can do anything for 15 minutes!¬†Happy sweating!

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

 

30 Days of Gratitude:

Day 8: What book are you most grateful for? My Sister’s Keeper. It was the first book I read by my favorite author, Jodi Picoult, and it absolutely got me hooked on he.

Day 9: What place are you most grateful for? Disney World, hands down. It’s the happiest place on earth!