Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Crazy Good Workouts

I feel like for most people this post would be coming from some kind of New Years Resolution, but for me its more like a rejuvenation of last years resolution. All of my friends and family have witnessed me loose over 40 pounds in the last year, probably almost to the day. I started my weight loss using Weight Watchers to help me get control over my diet and I also worked out for the first 3-4 months at Planet Fitness. Eventually the working out dwindled to nothing but I still lost weight, just not at as fast of a pace.

Currently I am not using Weight Watchers and I haven't consistently tracked any points since last August. I started my weight loss at 196 pounds and I'm currently hovering around 155. The last few months I haven't really lost much weight, maybe a few pounds here and there but for the most part I've stayed consistently at 155. My original Weight Watchers goal was 150, because when I was 196 pounds that seemed impossible. My ideal weight would probably be 140 so that still leaves me about 15 pounds to go. My eating habits haven't been the greatest, but I try to make the best portion control/selection choices as possible and take it day by day. Sometimes Ill do great through out the day and then totally blow it at night. My current weakness is an Its-It ice cream sandwich because it...is...heavenly. 


SOOOOO good!!


So, fast forward to now. I'm 40 pounds down (yay) but I still want to get that last 15 off, but be fit. I decided to sign back up for the gym because I simply needed to be more active. I kind of made this years resolution to use exercise to de-stress myself and help me with my anxiety and its absolutely helped. I didn't want to just go work out on a treadmill or elliptical because frankly it gets boring really fast. I took a chance and tried some of the classes that my local 24 Fitness offers. 


BODYPUMP 84
This work out is INSANE, but in a really good way. I went to the gym and that night they were offering this class. It sounded hard and I was scared to try it thinking I would look like an out of shape idiot not knowing what the hell I was doing. I'm sure some of that was true but WOW, the work out was so much fun. 


Im not sure where else they offer this class in the US other than 24 Hour Fitness, but Ive heard its huge in Europe. Kind of like how big Zumba got here. The first time I took this class I could barely walk out because of all the squats and lunges, but now I am actually putting more weights on the bar to continually challenge myself. I am literally sweating my ass off during this class and I LOVE IT! Im now noticing more definition in my arms and shoulders as well in my legs. My posture has improve dramatically as well. 


WILLPOWER AND GRACE
This class is just as intense, but for a completely different reason. When I first tried this class I was thinking the people in the gym looking in must think its the easiest class ever, but don't let it fool you! This class will challenge you. Its using a combination of yoga, Pilates and aerobics to get a full body work out. 



Some of those moves in the video are SO HARD. I can do most of them but usually only at level 1 and I'm sweating to death while my muscles are cramping. I think what is hard about this class is the constant movement and balance which challenges your body in ways it normally isn't  My favorite part is the attitude of the class. The teacher is constantly saying positive statements that motivate you that focus on empowerment, goal setting and goal achievement. I walk out of this class on a high because I feel like I can do anything. 

I'm now on week four of my new work out plan and I must say I'm a little worn out. I went to Willpower and Grace tonight and it kicked my butt but I was so glad I went. They say most New Years Resolutions fizzle out after week four and I'm determined to make it stick and create a permanent change. 

Im not quite at my bikini bod but I think by summer I will so be there. I might even post a picture some day. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Saw It, Pinned It, Tried It: Non-Toxic Oven Cleaning



I have a little explaining to do...

I consider myself a cleaner than average person. I am in no way OCD, but I'm sure I get pretty close to riding the line sometimes. I'm one of those clean and try to keep clean for a few days and then Ill give up for a few days and then Ill do another deep clean. I am the one who cooks most of the time and the kitchen is also my responsibility when it comes to chores. Nathan and I have lived in our apartment for almost three and a half years and in those three and a half years I have yet to clean the inside of my oven, until now. 





There are a few reasons why I chose to do this Pin.

1.) I think the first is obvious. I needed to clean it, bad.
2.) I like the idea of cleaning with non-toxic products, although I don't limit myself just because of that.
3.) I have two pets in my small apartment so I was worried how the oven cleaners could harm them.
4.) Its way too cold outside to properly vent my apartment by keeping the windows open. 
5.) It seemed easy enough.


Oven BEFORE!! 
*Cringing from embarrassment about how dirty it is, don't judge!*


I remember exactly what most of that is. I tried a new recipe and it was some kind of rice casserole thing. As I was taking it out of the oven I burned my hand, thus dropping the dish and the whole thing spilled on the bottom. I was so angry I left most of it there. Hah!

Yum!


I first gathered all my ingredients and tools. Baking Soda, Dawn dish soap, water, a sponge with a scrubbie side and mixed everything together like the original Pin said. I also scooped up all the loose burnt bits on the bottom of the oven before spreading my mixture all over. 








This was the easiest part. I felt a little strained as I was spreading the goop all over the oven because its hard to get in there with the door in the way. I started this around 9 am and I let the mixture stay on the oven until 4:30 pm. It had plenty of time to sit and soak into the really stuck on gunk. 

I started scrubbing the door. I quickly realized it wasn't washing off as fast as I thought and I had to use a LOT of elbow grease. I had to rinse...and rinse...and rinse the sponge every time I took a good swipe otherwise I was left with a bunch of tiny bubbles all over the area I was trying to clean because of the Dawn soap. It took me a good hour to clean all the mixture off the oven, maybe even longer. Not only did it not get all the stuck on grease off like I thought it would, I really had to scrub. Finally, I got closer to the end and rinsed the final bits of the goop off the oven. 

For what it looked like before, I think it looks much better but its still only about 85% clean.


Oven AFTER!

Those black spots in there were a b*tch!!

 The door still has stuck on grease after all that scrubbing!

I even tried to use a scraper to get that crap off and it only got about half of it off.


At the end of it all I have a mostly clean oven and I didn't have to use any harmful chemicals that could have hurt me and my animals. It took the majority of my day to complete and I had to use a LOT of elbow grease and I came out of it with a sore back. 

Will I do it again? Nope. I think Ill opt for the good old fashioned "Self Cleaning" method on the oven and make sure to vent my house real well. 

It was worth a try. :) Thanks Pintrest.


UPDATE!!
Tonight I decided to cook some tader tots in the oven and about 15 minutes in I started to get this nasty smell coming from the kitchen. I went in there and steam/smoke was coming from the oven and I opened it up and some of the residue solution was burning. The baking soda also puffed up and now I have these weird crusty white things all over that I'm also going to have to clean off.





Total bust. You might try some of the other Pins out there that use Vinegar instead if you want to try it out yourself still.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Birchbox


"Birchbox is a smart, streamlined, and fun way to discover high-end beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products. For $10 a month, members receive a box filled with high-end beauty and lifestyle samples that have been tailored to their beauty profile. Each box spans beauty categories, from makeup to hair to skincare, and includes a mix of well-known and niche brands. There is original editorial content designed to help you get the most out of your products, plus a shop where you can buy full-size versions of the samples you love."




Today when I was at work my co-worker pulled out this new great lip gloss and starts telling me about this awesome subscription service she signed up for called Birchbox. You sign up, pay $10/month and you then get this cute pink box full of beauty product samples and sometimes full size product sent you to once a month. You can then use their website to purchase anything you fall in love with. Inside the box is all your goodies plus a list of each item and what its retail price is so you can see how much you get for just $10! 

I dont know why this hasnt been around for a long time, but SIGN ME UP! I cant wait to get my first one.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Saw It, Pinned It, Tried It: The Oil Cleansing Method

I am among the many people who have a Pintrest account and I can easily get lost for a good hour pinning things I find interesting, funny or finding my dream closet or house. Most of Pintrest is more of a wishlist, but there are a few good gems that I stumble upon that actually peak my interest enough to try. 

I've decided once a week I'm going to use this blog as my excuse to get my hands dirty, try the weird and hopefully make something that is as delicious as its claims. Keep your eyes out for my series of posts Ill be calling 'Saw It, Pinned It, Tried It'.


So, that leads me to my first one, the Oil Cleanse Method!




When I first saw the pin, I first though about those weirdo food natural laxative cleanses that "purifies your body". I have never understood why the heck people would want to do that to themselves, but then I read the description which is what peaked my curiosity. 

Your first question I'm sure is, "WHY would you want to wash your face with oil?" In a nut shell, the Oil Cleanse Method is using a combination of specific oils as your 'face wash'. When these oils are massaged into your skin, they are breaking down any dirt in your pores without stripping your skin of its natural oils. 


Here is how you do it. 

1. Find your blend. 

Oily Skin: Try a blend of 30% Castor Oil to 70% Sunflower Seed Oil.
Balanced Skin: Try a blend of 20% Castor Oil to 80% Sunflower Seed Oil.
Dry Skin: Try a blend of 10% Castor Oil to 90% Sunflower Seed Oil.
*I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil in replacement of Sunflower Seed Oil. You can use either.* 

2. You'll need two soft washcloths, your oil blend, and hot, running water.

3. Pour a generous puddle of oil into the palm of your hand. Roughly, the size of a quarter and begin to massage your face. There is no need to use any make up removers because the oils remove everything!

4. After massaging the oils into your skin for a few minutes, take both washcloths and soak them in steamy hot water. If the water is too hot on your hands, it is too hot for your face. 

5. Put the first washcloth over your face and layer the second one over the first. Stay like this for a minute and let the cloths cool down. Gently wipe the oils off your face using the first cloth. 

6. Repeat the step a few more times but switch the cloth so you have a clean cloth touching your face.


Why I love it

Its cheap
Its incredibly moisturizing
Its natural
It gives me the cleanest pores, EVER!


I think I can confidently say this is a successful Pin and I will probably always wash my face like this from now on. I hope you ALL give it a try because Im sure you will be converted if you do. 


*Just a tip or two. But a plastic bottle for the oil in the travel section at the grocery store. Only cleanse your face at night. If your face feels slightly dry afterwards use a small amount of moisturizer on your skin. I use Emu Oil as moisturizer instead of lotion. 


Monday, January 21, 2013

The Envelope System

Nathan and I have been married now for over three years, and I'm sure everyone who is married can say that money/spending is one of the hardest things that will always come up. We definitely have our struggles with finding what is fair and balanced and last year we came up with a strategy that has finally worked for us. Last year we moved to what I've heard as the 'Envelope System' and now I cant imagine doing our finances any other way because of how well it works and keeps us on track!


What is it?

The Envelope System is as simple as it sounds. You create your budget, withdraw cash for each category you can pay in cash for (I only leave money in our account for bills I can pay online), and then input each cash amount into separate envelopes. This will work the best if you plan out each pay check down to the penny.



Creating my budget

When I first started, I had no idea what my budget looked like. I had a general idea about how much we spent on basics like gas and groceries but I needed something more concrete. I used the website Mint.com and it help me categorize all my debit transactions to see how much I averaged on my spending each month. It also helped me see where we spent WAY too much money, like eating out (we are really good at this part).


How it works

1. Create your budget and write it down. I use a dry erase board and each time a bill gets paid or we take our cash out I mark off our progress for that month.

2. Withdraw money the day you get paid. When you get paid, the very same day go to the bank and with draw your cash and put into the envelopes. Do not spend any money from your account until you withdraw it. This helps with keeping on track, but also making it way easier to keep track of your spending and how much to take out. I've made the mistake about not following my own rule and then regretted it.

3. Keep the envelopes at home! I cant stress this enough. I try my very hardest to not keep them on me. I think ahead before I leave the house. I plan when I go to the grocery store. If I don't have the money on me then its easier not to spend it unless I absolutely have to. There have been times when I haven't had my gas money on me and I've been SOOO very low on gas I barely made it home...

4. Once the money from that envelope is gone, there is no more. We struggle with this one since we like to eat out. Our weekly "miscellaneous" money we use for anything fun goes pretty fast, so I'm usually the one trying to reign us in when we want to go out to eat. *This is great for you people out there who struggle with spending too much on eating out*

5. Constantly re-evaluate your budget every month. Plan ahead for any expenses you may not be expecting like car registrations, doctor bills, savings, or business trips.

6. Communicate, communicate, communicate. If you are single then you don't have to worry about this. Nathan and I are constantly talking about our budget and we create it together. Sometimes Ill create it, but I will always have a discussion with Nathan afterwards just in case he thinks we should plan it differently that time.

7. Save every receipt. Again, this is best if you are married. It keeps the trust in the spending. There have been times where the money wasn't there that we had planned for and because we had the receipts we could track what happened to it. At the end of the month you can also see how accurately you kept to your budget.

8. Create goals. There is nothing that feels better than seeing results. Our biggest goal has been paying off debt and putting money into savings. I cant tell you how many big ticket things we have been able to pay off this year because we worked at it! The savings part is still being worked on, but for the first time EVER, the words, "its not like we cant afford it" came out of my mouth. Felt so good!

9. Save whats left. Ill leave this one up to you about how you feel is best to do with what you didn't spend, but ultimately the best solution is to save the extra. Nathan and I usually split what is left or decide together what to do with it. Its usually not very much because we are really good about spending our money. ;)


Tips

1. Get organized. I have a box like this I bought an an office supply store that is made for organizing. This holds my pens, dry erase pens, envelopes when they are at home, calculator, stapler, checks, etc. Everything I need is all in there so when I'm working on my budget its quick and easy.

2. Buy a financial planner. I went to Target and bought this great financial planner I use. This has been awesome to keep track of the previous months, where I keep our old receipts, bills that come in, write on the calendar when bills are due. I can look back and see exactly what we spent money on and also see our progress.

3. Give yourself time. Its taken us a whole year to finally feel like we are on track. We saw instant results by not overspending when we first started, but now we are finally seeing our goals come to fruition. It takes time and patience to figure out the exact budget, how to keep track of it all and to be diligent.


Value in the dollar

I've learned from this budget system that using cash for everything puts more value on the dollar. I will think twice about what I really want to spend my money on. There is something different about handing over the dollar bills verses just swiping the debit card that makes you think more about the purchase. I don't know if you guys feel this way, but its almost like you have more control and freedom when you have a plan and stick to it then when you don't


Give it a try, and happy saving!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

New

I have tried the blog thing before and eventually it fizzled out. I started one again because I feel like I have more of a vision for what I want it to be. I love to follow other blogs and I find myself thinking, "If I had a blog, I'd totally write a post about this".


So here I am.




My name is Carly Hill. I am 27, married to a pretty neat guy and I have a really old grumpy Wiener dog and a recently adopted cat that I am trying to toilet train (one of those things I thought about writing on). Right now we live North of Portland and I love it! I grew up in a small country-ish town and then moved to San Diego and experienced something totally different. I love the Portland area because its a big city, but has a small town quirky feel to it. I thrive here and I cant imagine living any where else.

Some of the things you may expect to see on my blog is food, crafts, fashion and every day life happenings.


Welcome!