Monday, April 13, 2015

Bikini Series!!

OK! So excited. Started the Tone it Up bikini series yesterday and I have needed to do something like this for so long. As mamas and women we do and do for everyone but usually put ourselves last and right now more than ever I need to invest in myself. My energy has been low and my stress levels beyond high and I knew I needed a change. I love the community and support that Tone it Up offers (this is NOT sponsored!) and I cannot wait to commit to their meal plan and exercise routine. I've known how to eat healthy for a while now but not what to eat when and what boosts your metabolism, etc. I've also never been good at meal planning so it was very exciting to have sunday to meal prep for the week and it is already paying off! Exercise has never been a consistent in my life so very excited to change that.

Yesterday Matilda and I made chili, snacks (pre-portioned in snack bags - what what!), protein muffins and last night I made some chia pudding. This morning I chopped and roasted a sweet potato and I'll chop and prep throughout the week. My refrigerator is full of gorgeous food! I've been waking up at 5:30 to do my morning cardio and it feels so good! I make my coffee the night before so that it is brewing when I wake up and then I drink my coffee while getting inspired for the day and then I hit it hard. This morning was tough!! I shared my post-workout routine here.

I'm going to be sharing my progress photos here every two weeks which is terrifying but also totally motivating. They are choosing three grand prize winners to go to Mexico! Want! Matilda was so sweet and encouraging, "Mama, I think you can win!" I want to prove to her and any other woman out there that change is possible and that achieving goals and dreams is totally possible! Are you doing this? Have you done one before? Let's chat!

Some of my goals for the challenge:

+ To feel strong! Push ups, let's do this!
+ To feel confident in a bathing suit. Found my dream one here. I've created a little "rewards" board on pinterest to motivate me as I go along. :)
+ To create the foundation for a permanent healthy lifestyle.
+ To gain endurance and to look fit! Yes!

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Easter + Balance

We just got home from a dreamy weekend in Heflin where my grandparents live way back in the woods. I caught myself thanking God over and over again that we were able to be with my grandparents and that the girls get to have these rich, beautiful experiences with them. That they get to walk the same trails that we've walked for 20 years, that they get to dye eggs with Grammy, that Sam and I get to work on projects in Lynndaddy's workshop. Oh, God is so good.

We worked on a little something for the Home Depot Style Challenge. Hoping it's going to come together just the way I've pictured it in my head. Love Lynndaddy's creative brain and I absolutely treasure the hilarity that comes with working on something together. Lots of heckling and name calling and I definitely threw in the towel early and begged Sam to pick up my slack. Have I mentioned I'm not a big DIYer?!

Matilda was an ace at dying eggs but Phoebe was more, throw the eggs in and see what happens. The craziest 5 minutes of egg dying ever. Oh, Bee, we love you so much. This two year old age is a little nutty. She keeps me on ALL toes.

Grammy always makes everything so special. I love seeing their hands on every nook and cranny, they have put their touch on everything... customized frames, broken and colorful bowls in the planters, gold leaf around Lynndaddy's paintings, all brings so much joy to my heart.

These moments... UNO with Aunt Rachel, me, Til and Sam, gator rides through the woods, movie snuggles with Bee feel more poignant and important than ever. It was so wonderful to get meal advice and life advice from Grammy and Lynndaddy. I've been reading this book and really focusing on all 7 Fs of life: faith, family, fun, field, finance, friends and fitness and it's been really putting everything into perspective. I need more focused time with my people on the weekend and less crazy, running around time that is pretending to be quality time.

The Easter bunny found us! It's amazing what a little creativity at Walgreens can bring - ha! - I had to run in and grab most of this at the very last minute but found these shoes for Bee and this book for Til and felt like I had scored pretty big.

After a weekend of delicious food (and crazy amounts of candy!) I think Sam and I are starting a Whole 30 tomorrow. I've been doing yoga as a part of the #essentiallyyoga challenge and I am loving Yoga Glo. So great for mamas. <3

Hope you all had a very happy Easter with the ones you love the most and that you felt the love of Christ who makes all things new.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

New Favorite Show on Netflix: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Do you remember this chick from Bridesmaids? That's the only movie I've ever watched alone in a theater. I was having one of those hard parenting seasons and my best friend invited Matilda over so I could each lunch alone and go see a movie (how amazing is that?!). I laughed out loud and had the best time ever. I will be the first to admit that I'm not a big "comedy" person. It takes a lot to make me laugh. My sense of humor is more Friends than Arrested Development. Netflix just put out another original series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. At first I was like, "ugh, I don't know" and then I was cracking UP. It's produced by Tina Fey who is one of my faves.

The cast is amazing and you find yourself rooting for Kimmy who was lured in by a cult and underground in a bomb shelter since the 80's. She then finds herself on the Today show and decides to stay in NYC. She gets a job as a nanny of absolute terrors and lives with a roommate who is completely hilarious and endearing. Must watch if you are in the mood for a good laugh and you'll want Kimmy to win. Love her.

Just a few of my favorite Kimmy quotes:

"Do you like Molly?" "Um yeah, she was my favorite American Girl."
"Holy ham sandwich! I have a job."
"Do you know what time it is? My tamagotchi broke."

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Outdoor Plans 2015

photo pinned here

Last year we did some very beginning stages of backyard transformation along with a pretty major overhaul on our back deck (see the Home Depot Style Challenge here). This year I think we are going to pull the trigger on fencing in the back yard and getting rid of the chain link fence (why????). Here are a few inspiration photos. The plans are as follows: rip out existing chain link fence, tear down witchy trees and erroneous jungle, potentially expand driveway to accommodate more cars, build an outdoor shed and drumroll design the garden in the backyard. No sweat, right? The goal is to get the fence done this year and slowly chip away at the rest. Rome wasn't built in a day! I'm also excited to be participating in the style challenge again this year!

I love, LOVE this shed design that we could use for storing tools, garden supplies, hand me downs(?), etc. We have like zero storage so we need something. Pea gravel is something I just adore too and I want to incorporate it heavily in the garden as well. We can't grow grass in the back so why try and I just love the look.

This is still the main fence inspiration photo - I love the clean lines, it matches the style of our home and the height is so great for privacy. I want to be able to have complete privacy in our backyard. It does look labor intensive and we are planning on building most of it ourselves. Trying to talk Sam out of that because pretty sure it will take us the rest of the year. Little kids + projects = quadruple as long as projects should take. Amiright?

A mini-project that I'd love to knock-out for instant gratification is to add a portico over our kitchen side door and paint it the same color as our front door. I took this photo in Alys Beach which is one of my favorite places ever. I also want to switch out the outdoor fixture to something like this.

Another instant gratification was scoring this simple and inexpensive hose reel for my new mint green hose (it's the little things!).

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Essence of Big Sur Bath Salts

So, funny story. When I was planning our recent trip I booked a spa appointment to surprise Sam. I booked our very first couples massage and was super excited about it. When we got to the spa we had a completely lovely two hour massage but there was some miscommunication (probably on my end!) and we ended up with a wee bit of sticker shock (#worthit) but ever since we've come home I've tried to re-create the "essence of Big Sur" chez Graham. I picked up these gorgeous Heath Ceramic bowls at the Ferry Building in San Francisco as a souvenir and knew they would work so great to hold salts (of all kinds!).

There was so much about Big Sur that we loved that I can't even sum it up in a short blog post. Sam and I have talked in length about the difference in attitude and stress levels on the California coast. We want that here! I've been trying really hard to do a great job of unwinding at the end of the day with salt baths and/or yoga. Not only are salt baths detoxing, but they are so great for relaxing. The gardens in Big Sur were in full bloom so I was inspired by the jasmine and lavender and all of the amazing cacti and succulents!! Garden heaven!! Ylang Ylang is more affordable than Jasmine and offers those same gorgeous floral notes. It's a new favorite.

There were so many adorable campers while we were out there so I had to include this darling tea towel that I picked up from 200 Mill this weekend. Perfect, huh? Those rocks came from the ocean at Pfieffer Beach and they work amazing well as diffusers, too. Put a few drops of oils and rub in the stone and the scent lasts for days!

The Essence of Big Sur Bath Salts

You will need:

+ Dried lavender
+ 4 drops Ylang Ylang Oil (smells incredible!!)
+ 4 drops Lavender Oil

Place ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup and run under hot bath water. Bliss.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spring Session with Katie Oblinger Photography

top: here | jeans: here | boots: here | rug: here 

It's no secret that I love working with Katie Oblinger (see here and here). Her work blows me away every time and I just like hanging out with her and she laughs at my OCD and we just click. These photos she took of my sweet family literally melted my heart. So thankful for this precious gift of having these moments frozen in time. Thank you Katie, for being you and for allowing us to be us.

We were just wanting something really natural and spring-y and fresh. Matilda and I love snapping the beans together which I have the fondest memories of doing as a child, barefoot on the front porch.

Phoebe was not going to just use the carrot as a prop... CHOMP. Love this photo so much because it is totally authentic. Best kind of family photo in my opinion.

I treasure this of me and my girl.

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San Francisco to Big Sur Trip Guide Part Three | Big Sur

Oh, Big Sur. We love you. This is the third part of our California road trip guide (see part one here and part two here) and this was hands down the highlight of our trip. Everything from where we stayed, to the scenery, to the food... heaven (the company wasn't bad either ;)).

We got some really amazing recommendations from a few different friends and ended up staying at Glen Oaks Motor Lodge, which were these really cool and gorgeously landscaped cabins (smell of jasmine everywhere!) with really cool and modern interiors. We stayed in the King Adobe Motor Lodge which had its own private patio with double-sided fireplace that worked inside and outside, heated stone floors in the bathroom and a yoga deck and zen water tablet and three bottles of wine to purchase. I was sooo happy here!

We loved, loved the Big Sur Roadhouse across the street. They serve free coffee to guests at Glen Oaks every morning from 7-9 and you can take your coffee and walk down by the river where you can see their free standing cabins and the redwoods! Their food is also outstanding. I wish we could have had dinner here because we heard great things but they have a killer brunch on the weekends. Yum!

Basically all we did in Big Sur was eat and drive and look at the views as well as see a few of the gorgeous parks. We also visited a few "clothing optional" spas. More on that later!


Deetjens was as good as everyone said it was. Huge portions, the coffee is flowing, the fireplaces were lit when we were there and it was super cozy and charming. This is a Big Sur institution.

The Big Sur Bakery is supposed to really fantastic for dinner as well but we popped in for their famous pastries and a killer latte. The gardens outside of the Big Sur Bakery which are attached to another Inn were so gorgeous and whimsical.

Big Sur Roadhouse (see above - pictured above)


We had a really fancy lunch at Post Ranch Inn which is one of the higher end places to stay. You wind up to the top of the hill to an entrance and another set of 70+ stairs to get to the restaurant which is perched on the side of a cliff. Great real estate! The blue glasses restaurant was stunning with plenty of ocean views but we decided to take advantage of the stunning weather by sitting outside on the small patio. The fare here is of the "foodie" variety, think molecular gastronomy, edible flowers, smaller portions and a big price tag. It was honestly very good but not one of our favorite meals there.

We really fell in love with the Ventana Inn, we ate dinner there for our anniversary and loved it (we did the chef's tasting menu and while I couldn't breathe after it was heavenly) but the lunch was even better. I had the brisket sandwich and it was honestly one of the best meals I've ever had. Oh, to have it right now! The patio is breathtaking with equally gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean.


Fernwood Inn is where the locals hang out. This place looks frozen in time. I felt like we were stepping on to the set of dazed and confused. Think local surfers and bar food. They have everything from pizza to wraps and it's completely unfussy. A great inexpensive place to grab a beer and people watch.

Ventana Inn (see above)

Nepenthe for sunsets. This is another Big Sur institution and situated right on top of a cliff with a tiered outdoor seating space which packs out quickly. Make sure to come well in advance to see the sunsets, have drinks and grab dinner. Dinner can be expensive but we got apps and sandwiches and it wasn't crazy at all. One of my most favorite evenings for sure.

Don't Miss:
Esalen Public Night Hotsprings (their image above). Ok, so this was definitely something that I never thought I would actually experience but basically there is this world famous Esalen Institute in Big Sur that hosts retreats, workshops, etc. They have these incredible natural sulphur hot springs that hang over the ocean and from 1 am to 3 am they offer "a service to the public" where you can take a night bath in the springs. You have to call in the off season the day of to make a reservation and we weren't able to get in the first day but were the second and holy moly, incredible experience! I was pretty much one of the only non-naked attendees but nonetheless it was completely magical. Don't want to say too much in hopes you'll go and experience it for yourself.

McWay Falls is one of the most photographed spots at Big Sur. Stunning nature at its finest. You can't help but feel the mark of our Creator while you are here. The park was actually donated by a couple who built "the waterfall house" on the property, which you can still see the ruins of the stairs to the house to this day. The wife donated the land to California and named it after her dear friend. Just incredible.

Pfeiffer Beach was Sam's favorite. He's a coastal boy through and through. You wind down a road forever until you get to the gate and pay $10 for access. The locals parked up the hill and walked. There are these incredible rock formations and purple sand. Need we say more?

There are so many spa options but we went with a very extravagant couple's massage at Ventana Inn (make sure to nail down specifics before spending ALL the money! ha!) which was lovely and then afterwards spa guests have access to the bathhouse and pool where once again... clothing optional. See below. HAHA!!

The last installment will be San Simeon and San Francisco <3

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