my wedding: bride + groom portraits

That's right. I'm dedicating one blog post solely to bride and groom pictures. This may be excessive, but I'm not the best at choosing my favorites. So, in order to avoid a blog post of 40+ pictures, you get to enjoy one full post of Justin and me! Lucky you ;)

sweet home indiana

I had the great pleasure of going home this past weekend. You may not find the landscape above beautiful, but I do. It brings tears to my eyes every time I fly over it. There's something about home -wherever it may be for you- that is so peaceful and reassuring.  

My time back in Indiana wasn't actually peaceful, but it was jam-packed with fun.

That's Chesney up there in the corner. This is how he sits when he wants a belly rub. This is real life, people. If I didn't know any better, I would think he was a human.  My lovely siblings and I are in the picture on the right. This is after my whole family and I decided to stay up until 3 AM on Friday night. My sister also decided that drinking out of one of my brother's trophies was a good idea. This resulted in the trophy becoming a pimp cup and a few dances to "Pimp Juice". All families do these things, right?

Saturday was spent with my friends. The day's festivities included brunch, mani/pedis, a photo shoot (more on that later), dinner and drinks. We started the day with over 10 people, but we were the only four left standing by the end :)

Sunday I got to see (almost) my whole family for Easter! This was great since I won't see most of them for six months or so. Unfortunately, I only took one picture on Easter, and it's pretty ridiculous so it will not be shared here ;)

I hope you all had lovely weekends and Easters wherever you spent them!

SoulCycle Chestnut Hill Review

A couple of weeks ago I took advantage of a free blogger class at SoulCycle Chestnut Hill with Boston Bloggers. I'm not big into spinning, and to be honest, the last time I took a spinning class I was not a fan. Granted, it was about 6 years ago at an LA Fitness, so it's not the best point of comparison. I had been hearing really great things about SoulCycle for about a year, so when the recently opened Chestnut Hill studio opened I was eager to take a class despite my previous less-than-stellar spinning experience.

I'm here to report that SoulCycle successfully changed my perspective on spinning. I LOVED the class. An awesome playlist including "Work It" by Missy Elliot (hello, 2002) and Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" made for a great beat and motivation to burn out to. The class incorporated tap backs which made me feel like I was dancing on the bike. Any form of dancing, be it on a bike or not, always receives two thumbs up from me, so I really enjoyed this. Another positive? The room was dark and dimly lit by candles. My inexperienced self really appreciated not being able to be seen during class.

I don't do cardio on a regular basis, mostly because I just can't get down with running. We don't like each other. This is a form of cardio I would happily do regularly, though, if the pricing wasn't so steep. It's something I can justify doing once every 6 weeks or so, but adding this payment on top of my Pure Barre addiction just isn't going to fly. First time riders do receive a discounted price, though. So if there's a SoulCycle near you, I would certainly encourage you to check it out! 

Have you tried SoulCycle? What did you think?

my wedding day | the first look

Justin and I opted to do a first look prior to the walk down the aisle for our wedding. Our wedding day fell one week after daylight savings time went into effect. This meant that our options were doing a first look or having a large gap of time in between our ceremony and reception in order to have pictures taken before the sun set. Out of courtesy to our guests, we went for the first look.  

I think some couples shy away from this partially because of tradition and partially because they don't want it take away from the moment when the bride walks down the aisle. Both are valid concerns, but I have to say I don't think it took away from my walk down the aisle. I loved this moment of the day SO much. It was so special and one of the only moments we had to ourselves all day. And, not surprisingly, I had enough tears and emotions available for both the first look and the walk down the aisle. I was literally crying while I walked up behind him. 

Justin and I exchanged letters at our first look and read them in front of (but not to) each other which I really enjoyed. I'll shut up now and let you see :)

See. I wasn't kidding about the tears. Waterworks all. day. long.

If you missed the post on the preparations portion of my day, you can find it {here}.

pure barre tips

For those of you who don't know, I am a self-admitted Pure Barre addict. I've been going since January of 2013, and I don't intend on stopping anytime soon. As with anything, the more you go to Pure Barre, the more you learn, and you really start to improve. There are some things I wish I would've known from day one. So, today I'll be sharing 10 little nuggets of Pure Barre knowledge I've acquired over the past 15 months.

1. Listen to your instructor. With so much going on with your body, this can be difficult. I know you want to go somewhere else mentally, but tune in. If you listen to the little things she says, it can make a huge difference. During most exercises, she will tell you where exactly you're supposed to be feeling it and exactly which muscle(s) you should be working from. She will also give bits of advice to improve your form. Things such as turning your inner thigh towards the ceiling or making sure your shoulders are stacked over your hips can make a big difference. So tune in and listen. Your instructor knows what's up.

2. Embrace the shake. This is a common phrase you hear in class. When you first feel "the shake", it's probably going to feel unlike anything you've ever felt before (think earthquake inside the body). I can promise you that shaking is definitely a good thing, though. Learn to love it. When you shake, it means your muscles are reaching the point of fatigue. This is your body changing, so work it, girlfriend.

3. Some days you are stronger than others. I have days where I feel like I can conquer the (Pure Barre) world and others where I feel like I have to come out of everything. If I had to attribute this to something, it would probably be diet. Don't get discouraged just because you came out of a thigh sprint or three. We are all human. There's always tomorrow to dig a little deeper.

4. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT wear shorts. You are required to wear capris, pants or leggings. This helps in increasing your flexibility (think warm muscles), but it also helps in avoiding a peep show. Sometimes you have to sit on the ground with your legs apart. Just think about that.

5. An inch is only one inch, and the diameter of a dime is only .705 inches. [yes, I looked that up] When your instructor says "Up an inch, down an inch" or "Trace a dime with your toe", take this literally. These are not metaphors. In many parts of class you are making tiny movements. I mean teeny-tiny-sometimes-barely-visible. The movements are so tiny because you're contracting the deepest part of your muscle and working from there. This may be the hardest part to "get" because most exercises incorporate large movements. In barre, you really have to think about the muscle you're targeting, and let that muscle lead the movement. For instance, in flat back, the exercise may require you to drag your feet. Your feet drag as a result of the contraction of your abs; not as a result of you moving your legs. Therefore, your feet may barely move. Think about what muscle you're supposed to be working, and concentrate on it.

6. Buy the sticky socks. Holding a 90 second plank or holding your feet in place during chair is difficult enough. Take the added element of slipping feet out of it so that you can focus on the exercise.

7. If it's easy, you're not doing it right. No really. You're not. Nothing about this class is easy. If there is any part of class that's easy for you or that you don't understand, ask your instructor questions after class. Get that bang for your buck, girl.

8. Close your eyes. I swear I have my eyes closed for half of class. Some days it's the only way I can focus. Closing my eyes really helps me in envisioning the muscle I'm working and focusing on it. Don't feel silly about it either. Everyone is too worried about themselves to notice what you're doing anyway.

9. Listen to your body. I struggle with this one big time. Sometimes your body doesn't actually want you to lift, tone and burn it seven days in a row. And sometimes you've overextended in stretching and need to stop doing your left split for a while (*cough* me *cough*). If your body is telling you not to do something, don't do it. We all need to rest every once in a while. In the same regard, if you need a modifcation for an exercise, talk to your instructor. I swear they have modifications for everything and will be able to suit your needs.

10. Commit to at least 3 classes. You're not going to walk in on day one and be a Pure Barre rockstar, and no one expects you to. This is a technique that takes time to understand and master. I've been going for 15 months, and I am still learning and finding ways to improve. I remember walking out of my first class thinking that it wasn't too difficult. That's because I had no idea what I was doing. Do yourself a favor and give this class more than one shot. 

Fellow Pure Barre goers, is there anything else you would add? 

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