how to become barre instructorIt’s official — as of last week, I am a paid, professional ballet barre instructor! This has been a (written, defined) goal of mine at the VERY least since October 2012… one of the things I included as part of my “ideal life” when I attended Making Things Happen in Atlanta six years ago. I have long admired and enjoyed the physical practice of barre, and this past January I decided to truly dedicate myself to it and become a studio member, working out 2- 4 times a week every.single.week. I had taken barre for many years off and on — pop-up classes at Lululemon, freebies here and there, a few months’ stint of Groupon classes at a time. It wasn’t until Lilly was a year old and I was tired of being “skinny fat” after a year of nursing and pretty much not exercising (save for a few weak “mommy and me” yoga classes or walks around the neighborhood), that I started taking barre more seriously. My previous toned hot yoga body had long gone away, and while I was still content with my figure (it grew, birthed, and fed a HUMAN CHILD, for goodness’ sake!), my muscles were pretty much nonexistent and I had major flat mom butt. It felt hard to get out of the house with a one-year-old so I started taking barre3 classes online. They’d range from little 20 minute snippets to full hourlong classes, and they did enough for me to feel like I got some definition again and shaped up my arms and lower body pretty quickly.

Then of course I got pregnant again, with AnnaCate. I tried to maintain my online workout regime but honestly even the half hour online barre classes would leave me lightheaded and winded, so once again I let exercise lay by the wayside. (Which honestly I was too fatigued and exhausted to even worry about!) AnnaCate was born in February 2017 and postpartum a HUGE wave of energy returned as I recovered from being deathly ill. I had undiagnosed cholestasis for weeks before AC was born and my diabetes was not managed excellently, so the combination of things left me nearly incapacitated by the time she was born a month early. (At 9 lb 5 oz, mind you.) Instead of getting hit like a ton of bricks by the newborn phase, I was shocked to find that I felt human again and my liver started functioning the way it was supposed to, so I wasn’t sallow and withering away anymore. (It also helped to have the relief of that nearly-10-lb baby out of my body! Plus a “cake-sized” placenta that was the “biggest [my OB] had ever seen”. Insert huge eyes emoji.)

2017 was a year of pretty poor health, considering all things. Pregnancy had shot my pancreas to crap. I didn’t get a Dexcom until October, and it was midyear before I switched to the amazing endocrinologist I see today. I wasn’t exercising, I wasn’t eating well, I was strung out from lack of sleep and overloading my schedule with responsibilities I shouldn’t have taken on, and overall I was depressed and filled to the brim with anxiety. There were many times in which I felt “This has to be my breaking point…” and knew I needed to make a big change. Especially after the decision to invest in the Dexcom (which — NECESSITY for type 1 diabetes, y’all. NECESSITY), Drew and I had several come-to-Jesus conversations about how I needed to prioritize my physical health and start a maintainable, consistent workout regimen. I loved barre and there was a barre3 studio close to home that offered childcare, so we agreed I’d become a member and do it for real.

So I did! I started in January and kept going. Unlike other times in my life when I would go hard for a few weeks then taper off for several months, I just kept showing up. The financial commitment was a major part of that (I am WAY too cheap to not follow through once I’ve purchased a contract of classes!), and I am so grateful for it. I loved the practice, I loved the hour of solitude (and childcare, just a wall apart but loud tribal music drowning out whatever chaos was ensuing over there), I loved the way it transformed my body, and I loved the way it gave me SERIOUS sanity. An outlet for my aggression! I have to think it’s done wonders for my diabetes control too, but that still has a ways to go on improving (which is really more about my diet than anything).

In April, my friend Chi from church invited me to her barre studio, which was doing a “bring a friend for free!” special that month. I had never even heard of Village Barre before, but it was ten minutes closer to our house (Chi and I live in the same neighborhood!) and although it offered fewer classes every week, it did have childcare 3 days and enough flexibility that I could make something work between me and Drew’s schedules. And an explicitly Christian-based community. So I gave it a shot. I went to the first class (taught by the owner, Rachel) just to try it out, laughed a little at how different a lot of the moves were (and how completely uncoordinated I felt doing them!), and also mused to myself, “Man, she’s basically screaming at us all class!” I wasn’t 100% sold, but they offered a month special if I signed up that day, and I agreed to cancel my barre3 membership after my next month was up to give it a shot. I figured, worst case scenario — I get a month of barre at a discount and can restart at barre3 in June, best case scenario — I have a new studio to become a member at!

May was my first month at Village Barre. I tried to go as often as possible. It surprised me that it helped having fewer class options because I was limited, so I knew I HAD to go in the mornings when they offered childcare, or I HAD to go at 6pm on certain days. I ended up actually going to MORE classes than I was at b3 for that very reason, and Drew and I were both surprised by how well it worked on the days I’d meet him on his commute back from work to swap the kids over to him so I could hit up an evening class. There was definitely a learning curve, since I had been used to taking the same b3 classes every time I’d go, versus the tap n’ pow{h}er and praise n’ pow{h}er offerings that sprinkled in amidst other traditional barre classes at VB. (I also thought tap n’ pow{h}er was going to be a tap dance class — ha!! VERY WRONG. It’s a cardio class and it is VERY HARD.)

When my month was up, I knew for sure I wanted to keep going to Village Barre. I got a three month membership (debating whether I should do month-to-month or purchase a year in advance or what) and once again, just kept showing up!! In July Rachel casually mentioned in one of our classes that a teacher training opportunity was coming up and to look at the pow{h}er method website for more info. Not thinking much about it, I decided to google it just to see what the time and financial commitment it would take in case that was something I might pursue in the future. I couldn’t find anything local so I asked Rachel in person. That ended up spiraling into a longer conversation, then a text conversation, then the next thing I know, a September training was scheduled in Franklin on the weekend that worked for me! Not even a few DAYS later, I had a wedding and got an unexpected tip in the EXACT. TUITION. AMOUNT. for barre training! God tends to be VERY clear with me on certain things He wants me to pursue (because I am a slow learner and hardheaded and tend to not pick up on things that may be subtle — thank you, Lord!), so this was definitely one of them.

The first weekend in September I completed my training!! It was much less painful than my yoga teacher training (first off, because I’d already gone through the very difficult and vigorous 200hr RYT for hot yoga five years ago; and secondly, because it is not remotely a 200hr training and just so different by design!) and so uplifting, encouraging, inspiring. Exactly what I needed. I demo’d a mock class a couple of weeks ago and then co-taught two classes, and to my surprise and delight (I expected the process to take so much longer!), I got to teach my very first REAL classes last Thursday and Friday!

God’s hand has been in every single step of this process — from me going to “potential teacher training workshops” and informational sessions at other studios for literally YEARS and it never feeling right, to this literally getting placed in my hand and taken care of, 100%. He has been faithful through every piece of the puzzle and I am SO grateful. And I LOVE it, y’all!! My playlist is upbeat and energizes me and was so fun to come up with. I love the community of women — OMG, they are inspiring in and of themselves! I love the leadership and camaraderie of my fellow teachers (several of which have prayed with me over a very difficult situation when I was visibly distraught). I love the physical movement. I love what it does to our bodies! My kids love coming and playing with their friends. It is THE BEST THING.

If you’re in the Nashville area and want to take one of my classes, I teach every single Friday at 5am! Would love to see you there!!!!

I am not one of those fall-loving maniacs inevitably filling up your facebook feed, exactly. I certainly appreciate autumn, especially when I have weekends off to enjoy with the family (a rarity in the wedding industry!). But I’m particular and I have to be in the right mood to get into the spirit. This year worked out pretty well because we had a beach trip at the tail end of August — SUCH lovely timing, might I say! It allowed us to stretch the summer just a little bit more (particularly while it’s still hot as blazes!) and end-cap the season with as many bikini-clad days as we could want. I like to really wear out the whole pool scene before I can devote myself to a season that will usher in miserable cold. (BOO.)

That said, there’s something about Labor Day that nails the coffin shut on summer mentality — you can’t deny the fact that school is well underway (our girls started preschool August 13), and pools close and Target’s Dollar Spot is a Halloween frenzy. I’m not totally into it yet (some years I’m like “GIVE ME A PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE STAT!” by the end of August), but we have been burning our pumpkin coconut candle and I’m not side-eyeing all the mercury glass pumpkins at HomeGoods anymore.

I love bucket lists. They give me something to reference on the days or weekends we have nothing planned to do, and it’s a festive way to thoroughly enjoy a season. (Would we have made homemade ice cream and gone crabbing if we hadn’t planned to at the beginning of the summer? Debatable.) So without further ado, here’s my fall y’all bucket list, 2018 edition!

Make paleo pumpkin bread. One of my faaaaavorite baked goods of all time is a gluten-free pumpkin/chocolate oat muffin recipe, but it jacks up my blood sugar and constipates Lilly to a point of misery. (I think oats are just not our friend.) Saw this recipe on a blog I follow and was immediately intrigued!

Go to the pumpkin patch with family friends. I have a love-hate relationship with the pumpkin patch. I love the festivity of it, I love taking pictures of the girls in their smocked pumpkin dresses, I love the actual pumpkins we end up with and decorating our home with them. But I HATE sweating to death in October (usually in jeans and a flannel shirt because I want it to be fall, dang it). Last year I was smart and wore white denim short-shorts and a long sleeve orange top and it was way more bearable. But I mean, sandals and white denim? In late October? Come on, Tennessee. I do think the pumpkin patch will be more bearable and less miserable in the company of good friends. Aren’t all things better with the right company?

Attend an outdoor concert. Meant to do this all summer, never got a chance. It’ll be more fun when the evenings get a little crisp, right? Maybe the full moon pickin’ party in September?

Go trick-or-treating with the girls and their cousins. We did this last year and it was so fun! I’m excited both the girls are old enough now to walk around and “get it” somewhat, but candy and a peanut allergy is a little anxiety-producing. Also not sure what we’re going to do for costumes yet — we love dressing up as a family but Lilly requested a “pink princess” this year so we’ll see how we can make that happen.

Become a barre instructor! This has been a goal of mine since college and was one of my big visions when I attended Making Things Happen in Oct. 2012! My training is this weekend!!!

Watch a UT game on my in-laws’ outdoor entertaining patio. Drew’s parents moved into their new house in June and we all marveled how perfect the setup will be for watching some college football come the fall!

Polish off a fabulous fall wedding season. My team coordinated a PHENOMENAL wedding in July (no hiccups!) so I want to carry that theme on out and knock the next few out of the park. Next up is Sept. 15!

Maintain a solid routine filled with life-giving rituals and experiences. No more floundering, I want to “win” at life this season and feel like we’ve got a good handle on things. Clean house, healthy meals and bodies, good sleep schedule, positive habits to replace old bad ones, peace and fruit of the spirit!

Carve or paint pumpkins. We’ve always wanted to but haven’t done it before because newborns and survival mode.

Do some kind of fall craft. I’m not super crafty, but I’d like to do something! Maybe I can count “display a fall craft the girls made at school” as the same thing…

Go to the zoo. Maybe even do Boo at the Zoo?!

Get a fall-toned hair refresh. I’ve been getting the same haircut since February and going blonder and blonder for summer. I think I want something with more lowlights (but definitely still blonde around my face!) and more length for the cooler months. Haircut scheduled for Sept. 14!

Cool it on the wine. There are seasonal expectations for what boozy beverages coincide with the time of year (champagne at New Year’s, red wine and pumpkin beer in the fall, rose in summer, mimosas in the spring), but I want a season of healthier stress coping mechanisms and better social functioning. I’ve been reading (listening! #audible) to Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis over the last week and her chapter on drinking really resonated with me. “Wine mom” culture = scary, y’all. Scary and COMMON.

What’s on your list?! Anything I missed?!

This year has been funny when it comes to our living situation. We’ve been living in our house for going on four years, and although we are totally happy where we are, we seriously considered moving twice. The first time we were just bored and decided to look into utilizing our equity to move to a county with better school systems — we eventually deemed that totally unnecessary and counterproductive to our goals (get closer to paying off house + incentivize ourselves to move to a new state or country later on down the road when the girls enter middle school age and schools seriously suck where we are). Then we had a brief lapse in judgement when we were sick of mowing the yard and having to deal with basic homeowner maintenance and thought we might rent an apartment or downsize to a condo with a pool. Our trip to Mexico showed us our overall contentment isn’t that different in different environments and opened our eyes to putting in a little of the money we would potentially spend to buy a more expensive house (inevitable in the Nashville market right now!) into the things that would make us like our house more with us IN it. That’s the thing that kind of drives me batty about staging / home selling… you do so much work to make the new owners happy but you would enjoy those things just as much (if not even more), so why not do that work early on?

All this is to say, we’re staying put and have been working on doing some updates to make our current home even better. Things we already love about it:  hardwood in every single room (no carpet!), beautiful natural light, pretty neutral colors (light baseboards and crown moulding downstairs, dark stained wood upstairs), a fuchsia crepe myrtle in the front yard, our yellow painted front door and a beautiful covered front porch. Literally when we went house hunting the first time we wrote out an exhaustive list of all our requirements/requests and this one fit EVERY SINGLE item — down to the garden tub and granite counters! It was totally a Godsend (literally).

Things we’re doing to improve it:

  • All the little repairs / tiny things we would need to do to make it sellable:  switch out burnt-out lightbulbs, patch holes, repaint chipped trim, etc
  • Paint the “neutral” beige living room and kitchen a super pale white-grey
  • Update all hardware to stainless steel rather than brass
  • Update some of the outdated builder-grade light fixtures
  • Create some built-in bookshelves with picture lighting in the living room
  • Switch up the layout of our living room (which had so much wasted space forever!) and replace some of the furniture pieces for better flow and space utilization
  • Swap darker curtains for light and airy white ones and hang rods high and wide
  • Create a built-in breakfast nook in the window corner of our living room
  • Get some live plants and put them out (all our summer flowers died!)

Thus far, we have a contingent offer on our too-big-for-the-space gray sofa (it was also a huge money suck when we first got married and immediately got ruined by our clawed cats… so much regret over that piece!), got a genuine leather loveseat for a SONG (thank you Facebook Marketplace!), have a big ikea order underway, took a large dresser that belonged to Drew’s late mother and purposed it as a console behind the loveseat (they’re exactly the same size!), and swapped up the layout of furniture in our super long narrow living room. It feels much cozier already! We’re getting paint chips tonight and intend to roll the living room this weekend.

I would ideally love to hang a big beautiful chandelier of sorts in the living room, some pendant lights above the breakfast nook, and have a much better lit kitchen (we currently have one of those awful rectangular industrial lights in there right now and it’s so bad… greasy, bug-laden, so unflattering). We also definitely need to replace the entrance ceiling fixture, the upstairs hallway fixture, and my walk-in closet light.

Excited to see where we end up in a few months of work!

New mamas know — the hunger that accompanies breastfeeding is a force to be reckoned with! For us sweeter (diabetic) mamas, things get tricky. You may want to eat all the cookies and high-glycemic snacks you can muster (especially following a super-strict pregnancy diet with serious glucose control), but it’s never wise to just go hog wild on your cravings at the risk of skyrocketing your blood sugar. Of course, even non-diabetic mamas can benefit from snacking healthier!!! Everyone wins when you eat foods that will satisfy more than just a quick fix and stabilize blood sugar / mood / energy. (Ahem, who doesn’t need more energy in the early newborn days?!?!)

low carb breastfeeding snacks

These are a few of my favorite filling, healthy fat containing, lower-carb combinations:

  • A handful of almonds
  • Mixed nuts
  • String cheese (I like the swirled kind)
  • Caprese skewers (cherry tomato + mozzarella ball + basil leaf… bonus if drizzled with balsamic vinegar)
  • Salted pistachios with a square of 92% dark chocolate from Ghiradelli
  • Greek yogurt with almond butter stirred in (especially if it’s crunchy!)
  • Greek yogurt with raspberries
  • Carrots & hummus Ezekiel or Dave’s Killer Bread sliced toast with avocado and a sprinkle of sea salt & pepper
  • Ezekiel sprouted or Dave’s Killer Bread sliced toast with smoked cheddar
  • Frozen raspberries or blueberries with almond butter stirred in
  • Almonds & fresh blueberries
  • Cocoa almonds (not chocolate-covered)
  • Greek yogurt with cacao nibs, unsweetened shredded coconut, slivered almonds, and raspberries (any mix-ins work — I just love lots of texture and crunch!)
  • Two eggs fried with avocado and sprinkle of sea salt and pepper
  • Pink lady or Golden Delicious apple and 1-2 tbsp crunchy almond butter
  • 1 oz Gouda and handful of gluten-free crackers (I love the ones at Aldi!)

Anything you love?!

Drew and I are six years into marriage, and every single passing year we look at each other and say, “What on earth were we thinking?” when we look back at what we registered for and purchased in the early days as newlyweds. So many things (an embarrassing amount) were completely unnecessary (brand new iMac) or useless (I’m looking at you, expensive Haverty’s couch with a “protection plan” that’s worthless).

{throwbacks from my bridal shower, circa 2012!}

Other things have been instrumental and we couldn’t live without — our coffee grinder and french press have gotten literally daily use, for example. So without further ado, here is my must-have wedding registry recommendation list, six years in the making:

  • Organic cotton sheets (2-3 sets). The softest I’ve found, good quality, pretty colors.
  • Good pillows (~4).
  • A beautiful neutral bedspread / comforter / duvet / quilt / whatever you fancy.
  • Nice, fluffy towels, handtowels, washcloths (~4-8 each). We registered for some from Target, Macy’s (Ralph Lauren brand), and bought a couple from Steinmart in recent years. The RL ones were the softest, but they have unraveled and look awful now. Steinmart was awful quality (wouldn’t recommend at all!). Target’s aren’t as soft but they’ve held up the best. Note:  the gray faded/discolored quickly. Maybe towels just aren’t meant to last terribly long? If you have some holy grail towels, please comment below! Also, the older I get the more I value solid white.
  • If you drink coffee — a French coffee press & coffee grinder. Like I said before, NECESSARY. We only get whole bean coffee and I tell you, it’s the best.
  • Simple, minimalist, quality china. I love fine china, but it’s pricey and can be impractical, especially if you are always fearful you’re going to break it (so you never use it) or if it has metallic detailing (can’t microwave it). We used a green and gold-trimmed set I got from a flea market back in college for the first few years of marriage, but ultimately wanted something simpler and more practical that would last forever. I think there’s much to be said for beautiful basic china — you can always dress it up later with linens, napkins, glassware, and table accessories. I recommend a total of 12 place settings.
  • A set of placemats or chargers you’re enamored with. We got a beautiful set of capiz shell round placemats and I still LOVE them. This is another way you can dress up your table settings with super simple china!
  • Nice flatware. I like flatware with heft. We went with stainless steel but gold and rose gold are popular these days. If you don’t think you’ll see them as outdated in a few years, go for the more fun metals! I’m not into anything with wood or other material detailing; it tends to fall off and seems cheap.
  • Quality crystal glassware. Once again, we went simple on these — a set of highball and a set of lowball glasses, not TOO delicate but not too bulky.
  • If you drink wine, good wine glasses. I’m not one for drinking wine out of a juice glass! Also, a corkscrew (our electric bottle opener died!). Champagne bottle sealer if you don’t like to waste sparkling wine (and can make it last longer than a night!).
  • If you bake, a nice Kitchen-Aid mixer is pretty instrumental. I also recommend a hand mixer (for mashed potatoes, frosting, and any baked goods that you don’t want to break out the Kitchen-Aid for). Here’s my extensive list of other good-to-haves for baking/cooking couples: a couple of metal mixing bowls, a mesh sieve, a solid rubber spatula, a cookie scoop, a peeler, a cheese grater, salad servers, a flat metal spatula, tongs, an airlock cookie sheet and silpat silicone baking mat (if you plan to make cookies), a couple of 8″ or 9″ cake pans (if you plan to make layer cakes) and some magi-cake strips, a glass pie dish (if you plan to bake pies), a 9″ square metal pan (if you plan to make brownies), a glass liquid measuring cup, metal measuring cups (for flour, sugar, etc), measuring spoons, a sifter, a whisk, a garlic press, a can opener, some beautiful kitchen towels and oven mitt / potholder, a few Pyrex glass dishes for keeping leftovers, and a casserole dish (Thanksgiving!).
  • If you like super simple / easy / mindless cooking, I recommend a Joule (for sous vide cooking! It’s simpler than it sounds!) and/or a crockpot. I don’t have / haven’t tried an Instant Pot or an Air Fryer, but we’ve heard good things!
  • A food processor. We use this for shredding cheese, making nut butter, pizza sauce, pesto, you name it.
  • A glass blender. Vitamix is the holy grail (and can be considered potentially necessary if you make smoothies daily) but I have a glass one from college that has served us well. The plastic ones just don’t hold up as well! We use this for chipotle shrimp, blended soups, protein shakes.
  • Good knives. You don’t need a million, but good, heavy-duty, sharp knives are a NECESSITY. Nothing infuriates me more when traveling or maneuvering through friends’ kitchens where there are no good knives. And a cutting board. Bonus points if it’s beautiful and can serve double-duty as a serving block.
  • Heavy-duty dutch oven and a few good pots/pans. Ours are copper and work like a charm. You don’t need anything ultra fancy but they should be a little heavy and solid metal. I also use a 10″ nonstick skillet daily for frying eggs.
  • A quality broom & dustpan, trashcan, mop, and bucket for cleaning. A plunger, toilet brush, bathroom-size trashcans.
  • If you have carpet, a good vacuum. Possibly a Roomba / iRobot vacuum. I don’t have one (and we have only hardwood), but I’ve heard they’re life-changing!
  • A lingerie laundry bag, a steamer, an iron, a wicker hamper (or whatever you like!), a large canvas tote (or whatever you like!) for collecting dirty laundry. We registered for (and got) a laundry sorter that had a built-in ironing board, but we really only used it in our first apartment (now it holds a bunch of random office supplies in my office closet) so I don’t particularly recommend one of those. If you’re debating between iron vs. steamer, I have to say I love and use my steamer more often (and the best one I’ve ever gotten was a simple travel steamer from Amazon!). We don’t have a traditional ironing board because we don’t need or want to store one.
  • Good, matching hangers. We have wooden ones but the velvet ones take up less space.
Minimalist China
Capiz Shell Placemats
Gold Flatware
Crystal Glasses
AirBake Cookie Sheets
Silpat
Magi-Cake Strips
Garlic Press
Cutting/Serving Board
Iron
Travel Steamer
Wooden Hangers
Roomba
Set of Pots & Pans
Le Creuset French Oven
Calphalon Knives
Vitamix Blender
Crock-Pot
Joule sous vide
Kate Spade kitchen towel set
french press

Other words of wisdom I have for newlyweds:  Hold off on adopting pets, buying expensive furniture or technology, or trying to fill every square inch of your new home together right off the bat. There is much to be said for taking your time curating a home full of things you LOVE (and not just clutter that takes up space). Quality > Quantity! Think about your NEEDS versus your WANTS, know that wealth is how much money you KEEP (rather than how much you SPEND), read Rich Dad Poor Dad and rethink the whole “American Dream” (it’s garbage, truly!).

Please note this resource guide includes some Amazon affiliate links that may earn a small commission if you make a purchase from using them.
I use these (as well as plenty of other non-affiliate links!) to illustrate exactly what I use and love at home.