Links on Friday.

Hey everyone!  How has your week been?  We've been super on the go this week.  Greta had preschool off this week and Gus had Monday with a snow day on Tuesday so the week has been packed with kid-entertaining activities.  I'm looking forward to a slightly more relaxed weekend.  Before we get to Saturday, here are some fun things for keeping you entertained while you are wishing the last working hours of Friday away:

This garage-turned-tiny-house is amazing.  I don't think I could live in such a space with two small kids but it's pretty awesome.

I didn't realize that this house was done by HGTV's Fixer Upper Crew when I bookmarked it but I love it with a capital L.  It's a bachelor pad, but I love the treatments they chose.  It's very rustic and comfortable looking.

For those of us who are a little quiet and awkward and intoverted, networking is torture.  This guide will tell you how to network at a creative conference.

I made these honey-glazed cilantro lime wings for Super Bowl and they were excellent.

10 things your kids should be able to do by middle school.  I loved this because I think encouraging your kids to be strong and independent is the best thing you can do for them.

21 things you didn't know you could donate.  I knew about the eyeglasses but the rest of the list is super helpful.

Organic underwear!  I love the idea of having natural fiber undies and this post has 9 companies that make them.

So what are you up to this weekend?  Anyone else just going to be maxing and relaxing at home?

My Night Life.
When it comes down to it, I feel like I have two lives- my day life and then my night life, which is much shorter but wildly more productive than my day life.  It is absolutely amazing what I can accomplish between the hours of 8:30ish to midnight-ish.  Maybe it's because the volume of the house is turned completely off with everyone sleeping, or maybe it's that I just naturally hit my stride in the evening, or maybe it's something else altogether, but once everyone has gone to bed, I go to town.

Last night, for example, I started at about 9:30.  Because my husband gets up for work at 5am, he tends to go to bed between 9 and 9:30.  I can't even think about trying to fall asleep at that hour (see graphic above) so I am always up later than he is.  So from 9:30 pm I managed to bake a pan of brownies for today's playdate; get the kids' laundry dried, folded, and put away (stealthy laundry ninja!) and start a load of sheets and towels; tidy up the mudroom, the kitchen, and the dining room; pay a few bills; iron pants; clear clutter; answer emails and screw around online; and write this blog post, and it's only 11:19.

I sometimes wonder what I would be able to accomplish if I had more of these hours, where silence reigns and productivity soars.  The results could be pretty incredible.  Ideally I suppose I would be the type of person who works until 2 or 3 am and sleeps in later in the morning, but I'm not currently afforded that luxury as my two little people, while great great sleepers, don't generally stay up there past 8am.

Do you find you get mass amounts of stuff done in the evening, or are you more successful in the morning?

And for some further reading:

11 Scientifically Proven Reasons Why Night Owls Get More Done

6 Reasons Why Productivity Belongs to the Night Owls

5 Reasons Why Night Owls are Highly Productive

Sounds From the Studio // 1 //

Last night I was up late working in the studio, and even though everyone was asleep, I had music playing quietly.  I have come to realize that I work more steadily if I have music on.  I think it helps block out the noise around me, and it helps me get into a groove and just get moving.  I often forget to put it on, but when I do, I notice I can work for a longer period of time.

I always have upbeat music playing when I'm working.  I do not want sappy love songs or other slow, dramatic pieces playing when I'm trying to get things done.  I need happy, peppy, sing-along songs to help keep me moving.  I mentioned last week that I grew up on oldies music - the 50's, 60's, and early 70's were the soundtrack to my early childhood, and this is the music that most often carries over to the studio.  I use Pandora for my music service, which I love because of how you can pretty much guide it on what to play for you.  I have slowly honed and crafted my 60s station, only allowing the best of the best hits through to the point where I now barely have to reject a track.

What I love about this era is the vocal harmony, the use of real instruments, and the experimentation with new sounds.  And while I do like the more popular Beatles, etc., I tend to gravitate toward the slightly more obscure hits that don't immediately come to mind but once you hear them you go, "Oh! That song!"  So I picked out a few of them for you to enjoy on your Friday:

What type of music do you listen to when you work?  Do any of these songs resonate with you?

Happy Friday!

barre3 Challenge: What I Learned.

Back at the beginning of January, I posted that I had started taking barre classes at a nearby studio and was signed up to try out their Challenge: 4 studio classes per week, whole foods, lots of water, dry January, no coffee.  I was really excited to get going on this after the post-holiday slump, and for the first two weeks, I did awesome.  If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen my posts of the stickers we'd get to put up after class.  I did 6 classes in a row between the end of the first week and the start of the second.  I was into the third week when I lost a few days because my husband was out of town, and then when I was ready to get back in it, the kid sickness hit.  And it hit me hard.

side note: I don't know why kid germs hit adults so much harder.  I swear these two were both running around like stuffy-nosed little banshees, but when I get it I end up flattened for over a week.

So for the last week and a half of the Challenge I was sidelined, relegated to the couch with tea and Kleenex like they were going out of style.  And I was hungry.  (Is the saying, "Feed a cold, starve a fever"?  Because I fed the cold.)  I just started back to class Monday night, doing two classes and giving myself a break last night, and I already feel like I've lost some ground.  But even though I didn't get to finish strong - I so wanted to have before and after photos to show you - I learned a few valuable thing about myself in the process:

1. I don't eat enough at once to fuel myself through exertion activities.  I like to go to the evening classes, but occasionally I'll go in the morning.  The one time I got up late and scarfed down a banana before class was a disaster.  I've learned that I need to start eating more rounded, more hearty meals at once, and I feel a lot better than grazing on snacky stuff.

2. I don't drink enough water in the day.  Yes, I get a lot of water in with the amount of tea I drink.  But straight water, nope.  If I haven't had enough water I will get a headache after class, so I've been trying to keep my water bottle handy and keep filling it.

3. My body is stronger than I thought it was.  I had this fear of doing two classes in a row in the week because I figured my muscles would be tired.  But the great thing about barre3 is that while you are using your muscles, you don't move the same way from one class to the next.  I realized that my body can take that type of workout and adapt.

4. I need to have a place to go to work out.  With my membership, I also have access to online classes.  Now, yes, I was unable to breathe out of my nose for a week so I wasn't going to be working out at home, but I don't default to trying it when I'm home- I feel like I should be doing some other type of work.  So in having the studio classes, I'm making myself do it.

5. I need to find something else to break up the barre routines.  We just got a new treadmill, having worn out our elliptical machine that we had for years, and while the husband loves it, I have not yet gotten on it.  I feel like a combination of the two types of exercise might help start to streamline this body back to where it should be.  Also, the cold temperatures do not help.

6. I don't move enough in general.  I have been spending a lot of time on the computer lately with various projects and I know that when I do that I have less energy and motivation to do things, and when I go to class, my muscles - especially my shoulders - get fatigued much more easily.

So, if nothing else, I have come to some internal epiphanies that I can apply to the way I run my days now, making sure that I am taking better care of myself the way I need now, not the way I needed five or so years ago.

No-buy February.

Last year, on February 3, I declared a spending freeze for the month, so how fitting that this year, on February 2, I accidentally planned the exact same post.  Apparently after the holidays and all those bills get paid, I freak out a little and realize we need to tone it down for a little bit.  And reading back through what I wrote last year, most of it still holds true:

We have too much "stuff" that we don't really need, and even worse, at holiday time, the kids especially get more stuff than they need.  So as of right now, the two of them need nothing for the next five years or so.  And in general, that "stuff" creeps in slowly as we aren't so tight on the reins, where you think that one little thing won't matter, but over time those ten things add up.  My plan for the month is to cut out as many extras as possible- meals out, clothes, and fun little grabs at the store, while avoiding all fun stores like Home Goods at all costs, and trying to keep the grocery bill under a certain amount each week.

The problem is, that I find more often than not, is that there will always be some "extra" I'm not anticipating, like white board markers that Gus lost at school and now needs more.  (P.S. That's what I'm going today.)  And with two hungry children, it's hard to cut the grocery bill back too much, and there are certain food things I just won't budge on quality, so there will always be a little bit of a juggling act going on.  Overall though, I just want to be a little bit more mindful of what we are spending and where the money is going and I think that will get us back on track pretty easily.

An Extra Day in February!

Happy February!  It's 2016, which means it's a leap year!  I always wondered what the deal was with leap year and why we suddenly got an extra day put in there, and then I started teaching 5th grade and I learned why!  Did you know that it takes the Earth 365.25 days to orbit the sun, and not the 365 days they always tell you about?  And because we can't have a quarter-day every year, they save them up and make one more full day?  Did you know?

Which means...we get a whole extra day in February!

Now, wouldn't it be wonderful if you really did get an extra day?  What if, when February 29 came rolling around every four years, it was a holiday?  And no one was allowed to go to work and we could just celebrate the fact that the Earth made it around the sun four more times?  It's a pretty awesome occurrence; it totally warrents having a day off.  What would you do with a whole extra day in 2016?  What could you accomplish?