Q&A: WHAT ARE YOUR WORKOUT ESSENTIALS?

06/29/2017

WorkoutGear_BleubirdI could talk about this stuff all day, every day. I love gear! My husband is a backpack, bag, electronic storage gear-head and I am a complete workout gear junkie. I get most of my stuff from Amazon. It’s just easy, and the selection and reviews are so helpful in decision making. I’ve listed out all of the things that I use on a regular basis, that I love, and have done tons of research on. Of course, you don’t need all of this fancy gear to get in an effective workout. I have been collecting my arsenal of exercise equipment for a few years now and add things as I go. We have a giant storm room in the basement that we are currently using for storage, but I have big plans to clear it out and turn it into a home gym later this summer. I prefer to workout at home, as opposed to a gym, so it will be nice making better use of the extra space and having all of my gear in one place.

One of my favorite pieces of equipment is my Jumpsport Fitness Rebounder. Rebounding is one of the best ways to get in a good cardio workout and raise your heartbeat fast.

I have indoor and outdoor sneakers, although sometimes my indoor sneakers accidentally make it outside. I love the Adidas Performance Ultraboost X for indoor workouts and these Nike Juvenate sneakers for running/hiking outdoors.

My favorite workout clothes are from Outdoor Voices. Not only are they beautiful and minimal, but the quality can’t be beat. I like the High Rise Leggings, which I usually pair with a t-shirt, and the Steeplechase Bras are hands down the best sports bras I’ve ever had.

I use this yoga mat. It says that it’s a little thicker than traditional yoga mats, but I find that it’s pretty average. Gets the job done, though. I also love this SPRI mat because it’s thinker and great for intense floor work and keeps my knees comfortable.

I recently bought this foam roller after asking for suggestions on Instagram. It’s perfect. I ordered the 36″ one, so I could do more with it. Foam rolling takes some getting used to and I am still a beginner, but really liking it so far. If any of you have some foam roller routine suggestions, I’m all ears! A friend of mine has been rolling for years and mentioned that it is definitely not supposed to be comfortable when in use. She was right!

I use this resistance exercise cord and really like it. I have the green one, which is the lightest amount of resistance and think it’s about time to upgrade to one that’s more challenging.

I love my step box. You can totally use a chair to get the same results. The one I have is made out of plywood and has three different heights, so it makes things a bit more challenging, depending on what I’m working on. The boxes come in different sizes; the one I have is 20″ x 18″ x 16″. I am thinking about adding the next size up into my mix soon.  I think you could easily make something similar yourself, if you’d rather save a few bucks. They are a little pricy, but the quality is outstanding!

I am always and forever a BKR water bottle carrier. I just love them. They are cute and functional, and I love that the bottle is made of glass, as opposed to plastic. I have several of the 500ml and liter sizes. I carry one with me at all times to stay hydrated!

I don’t practice a lot of yoga at home, just because I don’t think I am very good at it, but when I do I use these yoga blocks. I find they make a lot of the more difficult poses easier. I actually need to buy a new one because my cat chewed one of them up.

I love these resistance bands to create a more challenging workout. I throw them on when I’m doing squats or leg work. I also like these ankle weights. I have the two-pound set!

I do Ballet Beautiful 4-5 times per week and find that wearing ballet shoes is best. These canvas Bloch slippers are amazing and have a split-suede outer sole, which makes them comfortable and easy to move in. Make sure you read about the sizing. I had to study the reviews to find my perfect size. You want them to fit snug.

I just bought a FitBit. After reading several reviews on Amazon and thinking about going with the Apple Watch, I decided to go with the new, slim, Alta HR model. I am just getting familiar with this baby, but love that I can track my progress throughout the day. It keeps me motivated!

I use a jumprope to get my heart rate up fast. I can’t remember the brand name of the one I have, but it looks just like this.

Lastly, I use 2, 3, 5, and 10 pound hand weights for various toning exercises. Mine are similar to these ones.

I do have a few other things that rarely get much use like a Bosu balance trainer, kettle bell, and this 15 pound medicine ball, which I bought for BBG. These things are great, I just find that I prefer using others more and enjoy doing workouts that don’t require them.

I think that’s about it and hope this list helped. What about you? What are your favorite workout essentials? I would love to know! xxJ

HOW I MATCHA: MY MORNING TEA LATTE

06/28/2017

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I quit drinking coffee two months ago. As hard as it was to give up my morning java addiction, it is one of the best decisions I have made for myself in a really long time. Since I quit, I have had zero anxiety, except for one nasty spell of jitters I had a couple of days ago, after I took Midol, which has caffeine listed as one of its main ingredients. Into the trash went the bottle. One of the hardest hurdles for me quitting coffee was the familiar and comforting routine of my husband bringing me my morning cup. I take it black, and then sip from bed for the next hour, while I wake up, answering emails, and getting my day started. The sound of the coffee grinder each morning, the smell lingering through the house—I do miss those things—but, I don’t miss them enough to go back to anxiety-filled days and sleepless nights. RIP coffee.

I did, however, find a replacement and I have grown to love (and depend on). Enter the matcha latte. Matcha is everywhere these days, and I am so thankful that it is because I’m completely hooked. But, doesn’t matcha has caffeine? Yes, it does, but Matcha creates a sort of calming alertness that has none of the “rush and crash” side effects that coffee has. Matcha is also loaded with antioxidants and has been linked to numerous health benefits. After much experimentation and trying different concoctions, I found my perfect blend. I look forward to this ritual each morning and sometimes in the afternoon, too.

This is how I matcha:

8 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
1-1.5 teaspoons high-quality drinking matcha (My favorite is Ipoddo Tea recommended by this rad chick Lee or Matcha Ninja)
1-2 tablespoons tocos
1 teaspoon cordyceps
.5 teaspoon mucuna pruiens
.5 teaspoon ashwaganda
a pinch of raw vanilla
1-2 tablespoons coconut butter (or 1 Tbsp coconut butter + 1 Tbsp sesame butter)
a good sprinkle of organic cinnamon
4 oz. boiling water

For those of you wanting to try the Moonjuice cordyceps and raw vanilla I use (or any other Moonjuice products), I have a code for 20% your first order. Just use this affiliate link.

First, add coconut milk to your blender (I have this one from Vitamix). Next, sift the matcha using a small mesh strainer and matcha spoon. Add all other ingredients into blender and blend for 1-2 minutes.

That’s it. Pour, sip, and enjoy!

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KEEPING THE KIDS BUSY THIS SUMMER

06/27/2017

Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-13Last Tuesday marked the first official day of summer, and the signs are all around, especially in my household. My big kids have left to visit their dad in Florida until August, and my littlest ones have begun their summer school program after two weeks of vacation. For me, the summertime is always a bittersweet season. On one hand, our house grows especially quiet without teenagers and their friends hanging throughout the house, playing piano, and showing us the latest viral videos. We miss Julian and Plum so much while they’re gone. On the other hand, some of our favorite pastimes circle back around this time of year—running barefoot through sprinklers, afternoon barbecues at the river with friends, local farmer’s markets, and evening walks through our neighborhood, just to name a few. For Birdie and Sailor, the summer also can mean long, hot days trying to fight off boredom. If you’re a mom with small kids, chances are, you’re familiar with trying to keep busy minds amused in the summer months (because the plethora of toys they have just won’t cut it, most days).

Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-2Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-7Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-9Luckily, both Birdie and Sailor have a deep love for coloring—especially when it comes to printouts. Are your kids as obsessed with printouts as mine are? It seems like a daily occurrence that they ask Aubrey or me to print off their favorite characters—most recently, outlines of popular cartoons like Moana, Pokemon, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Growing up in the height of the digital age, our kids are incredibly tech-savvy. The minute they come home from school and drop their things to the ground, they grab for our Acer Spin 7, and start browsing their favorite sites for new pictures and characters to bring to life with the touch of their crayons. Their little hands love using the Spin 7 because it’s simple, quick, and user-friendly. Everything they need is right at their fingertips, uncomplicated, and easy to navigate. And, because it can handle sticky fingerprints and a fall or two, our lives as parents are a little easier as well. They can do what they love, and we don’t have to worry. We send their selects off the printer and done—instant entertainment.

Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-8Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-14After a good hour or more, we have a floor full of Birdie and Sailor’s creations—colorful, scratchy, and beautiful. The kids select and hang up their favorites in their room. If the kids are growing tired of coloring inside the lines, we head back to the drawing board (i.e.—The Spin 7) to brainstorm, get even more creative, and make additional masterpieces of our own. I love seeing the ideas and images that come to life at the touch of their small hands and huge imaginations. You can see the pride radiating from them as the hold up their latest and greatest sheets of scribbles. In these moments, I always try to remind myself that even though life gets busy or quiet or hectic at times, it’s nice to know you can rely on your tech to work with your hectic schedule, bring out your kids’ inner creative genius, and enjoy your family in any season of parenthood.

Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-15Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-20Mother-Hoods-Gardiner-NY-17This post is in partnership with Acer, but the words and opinions are my own. Check out Acer’s great product line-up at Acer.com/KeepAsking

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TEN THINGS

06/23/2017

MaryDennis-022I wanted to extend a warm thank you to everyone who has reached out about yesterday’s health scare. Every call, text, and DM meant so much. I tried to respond to every single one. Thank you! For those who don’t know, I went into anaphylatic shock early yesterday morning, but am feeling much better now. The whole experience has really taught me that food allergies are no small matter! I’m going to see a specialist on Monday to get some clarity, but I am assuming it is related to Alpha-Gal Syndrome, which I have been dealing with for the past 10 months. All that said, I hope your weekend is filled with family, fun, and good health. Here are this week’s ten things…

1. Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods.

2. I love the new limited edition SEE SUN x Jenny Pennywood collab. I bought 2 hand towels immediately.

3. 15 Life-Enhancing Podcasts You Must Subscribe To.

4. The summer solstice began this past week. Why not try this veggie-heavy frittata recipe from Sqirl to lift those solstice spirits.

5. Instagram introduces its new archive feature.

6. What are your predictions for Emmy Season 2017? Check out showrunner’s favorites here.

7. How cute are these tennis players?

8. I’ve been testing out a some new products from Drunk Elephant and so far so good! I especially love their C-Firma Day Serum and the new Sukari Babyfacial.

9. Here’s a list of books to read when you’re pissed off at the world. Because hey, sometimes you need that.

10. Coconutgate. Is coconut oil no longer good for you?

Photo above via Diane Villadsen.

SUMMER STYLE: WHAT I’M WEARING ON REPEAT ALL SEASON

06/21/2017

4SummerLooks_BleubirdI recently redid my closet with California Closets. I’ve shown a few peeks on Instagram, but plan on sharing the before and after very soon. I had to take everything out for the remodel and, of course, after it was complete, I had to put everything back in—the exciting part! I took this opportunity to go through every single item I own (clothing, shoes, and accessory-wise) and I cannot believe how much I decided to part with. I filled SIX giant lawn-sized bags will clothes. Some to sell and most to donate. I plan on holding a one-day clothing sale pop-up at my store here in Nashville with some of my friends who also have things they want to part with within the next couple of months. Anything that’s left over, I will either sell online or send to donation. If you’re local, stay tuned for details on the pop-up!

Now, since my great purge, I have realized that over the years my style has changed, a lot. I tend to lean towards neutral colors, ease and comfort, and most of the time, I kind of look like a tomboy, which I don’t mind in the slightest. Jeans, pants, and tees are my jam, with a pretty vintage blouse, dress, or blazer thrown into the mix when I want to feel a little more fancy. Shoes on the other hand, I have most-definitely grown to love shoes and think a killer pair can dress up old vintage Levi’s like no other. So, I decided to talk about what I am wearing on repeat this summer.

Vintage, vintage, vintage. If you have been following me over the years, you know my love for vintage. I sold it online for ten years! I have a pretty hefty collection of beloved old tees, jeans, overalls, dresses, blouses, and more, and tend to grab for a white tee and pair of baby blues most days. I think I have a denim addiction. This is my favorite place to score vintage denim. Please help me stop buying more jeans and buy them before I do.

For all things girlie and to channel Jane Birkin, I turn to Dôen. They just launched a new collection and it’s nothing short of perfection. My favorite pieces in rotation this season are: the Anise Top (shown above, top right), the Isle Top (so cute with vintage overalls!), the Rosemary Dress (Size up, this one runs short. I like to wear it with cut-offs.), the Juniper Top, and for shoes, the Ballerina Slipper and the Asymmetrical Gladiator Sandal.

For that perfect tomboy-chic, I turn to Fortune Goods. It’s a men’s line that is just too good to be “just for boys”. I live in my Indigo Stripe Surf Pants (shown above, bottom left) and Plum Stripe Pants.

Another staple that I just can’t quit is a pair of Kamm pants (shown above, bottom right). They are so flattering and comfortable. I have a feeling I’ll be wearing them for years and years to come, which is good because they are definitely an investment piece.

Now back to shoes. Here are my top three other than the Dôen ones I mentioned above: Vans Classic Slip-Ons, Beatrice Valenzula Sandalias, and the always classic Gucci Loafers.

What are you wearing all summer long?

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