Life in the Ozarks: Spring Update

Spring and Autumn have always been my favorite seasons. Some of the things I love the most about Spring are the rise in temperatures, the abundance of daylight, and all of the new life – especially the flowers!

This year has been pretty rough.. so I was very grateful to get some much needed downtime this past weekend. Some friends and I stayed at an amazing cabin in the Ozarks and really had the opportunity to appreciate all the beauty the natural state has to offer this time of year. We were NOT disappointed.

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The beautiful cabin of a family friend, nestled in the Ozark Mountains

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The cabin was made from refurbished wood, sourced from several different buildings, and was absolutely beautiful

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I’m a sucker for a good porch… Just add coffee!

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We explored a new area of Lost Valley and Jeff was not enthused.. Kidding! He is the biggest nature lover of them all! He was just helping me test my new lens! (Which i am in love with)

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Last sunset at the cabin

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Sometimes it is crucial to take a step back out of your busy life, unplug, and just rest. I hope you all take the opportunity to get out, and do some exploring of your own this Spring! If you need a quick reference, try my guide to hiking the Ozarks.

We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature. – Thoreau

As always, live healthy, and love hard!

-Shelby

I Let My Husband Dress Me for a Week: Here’s What Happened

My name is Bethany, and I let my husband dress me for a week.

I’m sure you’re asking what I asked myself all throughout this process– why would I go through this? I wanted to stretch myself! I like situations that I can control. I like everything in its place, and I live by plans and organization. The only way to really learn about yourself is to get out of your comfort zone, and for me that means letting go. The rules of the project were simple. I didn’t have a say in what I wore, he could utilize anything in my closet, and when dressing me for work, it had to be office appropriate. Right out of the gate I knew we would have some challenges. Spring weather is unpredictable. Some days it’s cold and raining, and then it can warm up into the mid 80’s. I also have a pretty minimal wardrobe! I hate clutter and excess, so I try and keep it simple to mix and match. He didn’t have it easy.

I know that appearance isn’t an incredibly important part of life. This project tested that. Yes, I’ve known my husband for eight years, but there’s no one who knows you better than yourself. I know how to hide my insecurities, I know what makes me comfortable etc. I love being creative and fun and simple, and the clothes I choose help me guide that expression. Denver dresses well, but it’s not something he spends too much time on. Giving up my opinion was pretty tough.

Although he was nervous, Denver agreed to the project.

bloglovinphotoTo start us out, I asked him to describe what he thought of my personal style.

“Comfy Chic. You’re really fashionable yet you always look comfy.” – Denver

I looked up “Comfy Chic” on Pinterest. Apparently it’s a real thing. I love outfits that fit my personality, but I also value comfort so he’s not entirely wrong! How would he translate that himself?

Let’s take a look at how he did.

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Monday: “I’m sweating because my husband dressed me”

“I picked this because I think these pieces are really pretty, and I really like black and white.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Low

He chose this shear business button down, black and white sweater, and  black ankle slacks. An all black and white ensemble is something I love, but this just seemed over worked and awkward!  I love this sweater, but it’s for the dead of winter. It was sunny and 75, and I felt strange. Everyone else was walking around in t-shirts, and I wanted to shout “I’m sweating because my husband dressed me!”. He knew he wanted me to wear this shirt, but everything else seemed like a rushed after thought. I think he could tell I was sweaty and not thrilled, so I had high hopes for a turnaround! Overall, I like these pieces individually, but not necessarily together.

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Tuesday: “You should wear rain boots. It’s going to rain”

“I picked this because I’ve always like this combination. And I think you look good in this color. I like the patterns.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Confident

He chose this orange sweater, white and black button down, and black ankle slacks. He bought me this sweater a couple of years ago, and I love it! This day was a cloudy and cooler day, so this outfit was much more appropriate. I think the polka dot button down under the sweater was a smart pairing. I got a little scared when I saw him look over at my bright orange and white rain boots saying “You should wear rain boots. It’s going to rain.” Thankfully he grabbed my more professional shoes. I wear a lot of basics to work, so wearing this bright and patterned sweater is always a bit out of my comfort zone. I got three compliments before 9:00 in the morning, specifically on my sweater. Maybe Denver dresses me better than I dress me? I felt proud of him.

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Wednesday: “You need more pants”

“I picked this because I really like the lace detail on this shirt. The burgundy pants are different.” -Denver 

Office Wear

Feelings: Moderate

He chose this denim lace detailed button down, burgundy ankle pants, and a gold necklace. Once he found out I only have three pairs of work pants, he went straight for these burgundy pair while saying “You need more pants”. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like my husband saying I need to go shopping. Maybe this experiment is golden. These pants are more like capris than ankle slacks, but I couldn’t say anything!  I felt okay other than my pants being too small. I feel good about the button down choice, and I love the lace shoulder detail. He put this gold necklace with it, and I think it pairs well. Overall, he didn’t seem as confident as the day before, but I think he did a good job. This day made me realize I need to donate these pants.

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Wednesday Night: “I thought the cardigan would fix it”

“I picked this because I think the pizza shirt is hilarious, and I really like the casual comfy look of the flannel with the leggings. Pom pom hats are awesome.” -Denver 

Casual–Life Group

Feelings: Exhausted, but happy

He chose this pizza t-shirt, zip up flannel, leggings, vans, and a beanie. We are always under a time crunch on this day, and that added pressure to this process. Denver knew that he wanted me to wear this pizza shirt, but he also wanted me to wear my boyfriend jeans. I already knew this would be a problem. They’re both relaxed fit, and I felt pretty sloppy when I tried it all on. The cardigan he picked out was too small to go over this shirt, and I legitimately felt like a stuffed sausage. He was really confused— “I thought the cardigan would fix it”. He went back to the drawing board. It was so hard to bite my tongue! I wanted to help him fix it. He had me try on different pants, shirts, jackets etc. Denver wanted nothing more than for me to feel comfortable and confident, and he finally landed on this. I felt a little bit like a black ninja, but over all I think he ended up picking something that was very me! This day he admitted that dressing a woman is much harder than dressing a man.

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Thursday: “You need a pop of color”

“I picked this because I really love this blazer. I think it’s  a trendier look  as opposed to a business suit. I think the burgundy top contrasts really well with the light blazer.” -Denver

Office Wear and Life Group

Feelings: Happy

He chose these high waisted black ankle slacks, burgundy tee, cream blazer, and a statement necklace. The weather was perfect for this kind of outfit. I was really excited about this one because I had never worn all of this together before. For the first time all week, I felt like I looked like me! I was really impressed that he picked out this necklace, and I got a lot of compliments on it as well. He was so cute picking this out. I could hear the hangers sliding around as he yelled “You need a pop of color!” On this day he learned to think of the outfit as a whole, instead of just putting together individual pieces. Progress.

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Friday: “Where’s your Papa’s flannel?”

“I picked this because I just love the over-sized flannel with the simple top and leggings. I like the fact that it’s casual and you can still wear it in public. It’s your grandpa’s shirt, and I think it’s really neat when you wear it.” -Denver 

Casual Wear 

Feelings: Comfortable and fun

He chose this flannel, white t-shirt, black leggings, and camel boots. This flannel means a lot to me, and I’m really glad he picked it out for me. I babysit on Fridays, so I felt comfortable. He knows that I run errands or do things afterward, so he wanted to give me something that I could also wear out and about. For the first time in this process, he had a couple shirts he wanted me to try on so that he could see what he liked best. Overall, I think this outfit looked the most like something I would pick out.

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After this experience, I realize just how much thought and care you put into getting dressed each day. You are always able to find multiple combinations of tops and bottoms to create a really great appearance. I didn’t realize how difficult that can be for a woman until this. As I was picking your clothes, I had to take more time to think than I would if I were dressing myself. I just really learned that it’s a creative process that takes time and consideration just like any other art. I can see why the fashion industry is a high art now. I had to learn how to paint with a different palette. -Denver

This process was both fun and exhausting, and we learned more about each other than you can possibly imagine. I learned that I’m hanging onto a few items that could be donated. I learned that Denver takes great consideration of wanting me to feel confident and comfortable. I learned how hard it is to let go of control. You don’t realize how much your clothing impacts your confidence, until you’re no longer given a choice! Denver is right. Fashion is an art, and I love having the freedom to express myself every day. If you think it’s not important to you, try this yourself!

Let’s keep the conversation going! You can follow me on Instagram @BethanyMPoteet. You can also see our blog updates easily by liking our Facebook page, or following our blog Instagram @OakandEarth.

-Bethany

Easy Lower Body Workout Routine for Pregnancy

If you missed my last post, I shared exciting news that I am expecting our second baby in September! We were so thrilled and a little surprised when we discovered the news back in January when I thought I had come down with a stomach bug and ended up with a positive stick!

Though my husband and I had been talking about getting pregnant in the near future, one of my goals for myself beforehand was to get my body back in shape! Having had a busy summer and fall with moving and then settling in, and then moving again, and settling in, my workout routine had fallen by the wayside. We got pregnant sooner than expected (funny how that happens), and though I didn’t hit my main goal of running another half marathon before pregnancy, I was able to start back up a good routine to get my body feeling good and enjoying the sweat and burn! Fitness is something that I am passionate about and something I plan to incorporate into my pregnancy now, but preparing your body before getting pregnant will help you maintain a good routine after becoming pregnant!

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While I enjoy fitness, this pregnancy has really kicked my booty harder than my workouts have been lately! I feel like I may be turning a corner, but the exhaustion and the nausea have been real. It could be partly that it comes with the territory of having a toddler in full toddler-mode, and also growing a human being inside of me, but my lack of energy as of late speaks for the lack of motivation to hit the gym regularly! Sometimes Mama just wants to stay home and eat a s’mores pop tart. I’ll admit, one pop tart was consumed during the making of this post.

All this leads to my main point. Though I haven’t had as much energy these last few weeks to hit the gym more than a couple times a week, I can be motivated with a short, easy workout in my own home! I mean, come on. Bra, no bra? Real workout pants, pajama pants? No one knows! You’re able to burn some calories and feel great afterward regardless of what you’re wearing or how dirty your hair may be, and for me, that’s for many days the more realistic alternative!

I decided to pull some of my favorite exercises for my butt and legs (and core!) and create a short, 10 minute workout that is safe (in most cases) for all trimesters during pregnancy, and also, I believe, a great workout for moms to get back in the groove post-pregnancy! Ten minutes may not seem like a lot, but trust me…I’ve done this routine myself, and you definitely feel a good burn! The other great thing about this simple workout is that you don’t need much more space than the size of your own home! Scoot a couch back a few inches, crank some music, and you’re good to go!  If you’re feeling ambitious, repeat the steps one or two more times and make a 10 minute workout a good 30 minute one! Ready?!

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Cardio

Start your workout with some cardio to get your heart pumping and start burning those calories! You’ll continue burning calories throughout the workout once you stimulate your body and get it pumping!

  1. Butt Kicks- 45 seconds   This is a really simple step and if you haven’t done them before, it’s basically like jogging in place, only make sure to bring your foot all the way up to your butt. Go at a steady pace, but always listen to your body!
  2. Knee Highs- 45 seconds   This is another simple exercise to get your blood pumping. Holding your hands out, lift one knee and bring it up to your parallel hand, then switch and bring your other knee up to its parallel hand. Again, keep a steady pace with this to get your heartrate going!
  3. Lateral Shuffle-45 seconds   With this exercise, bend your knees and keep your core balanced and upright. Shuffle a few steps to your right, then shuffle a few steps to the left, and repeat for the 45 seconds. The more swiftly you do this move, the more you will feel it!
*Stay in tune with your body and never push yourself farther than what you are comfortable with!*
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Standing Exercises

These exercises will focus on your butt and thighs and most can be done *optional with weights! It’s a great way to add an extra challenge and also throw some arm muscle toning in too.
  1. Standing Lunges- 1 minute (weights optional)   For this exercise, you should be very careful to keep good form to avoid injury. The bigger the belly, the more you need to make sure your body is in good balance! Keeping your spine straight throughout the duration, step back with your right foot about 2-3 feet. You can keep your hands down to your sides, or hold some 2 or 5lb. weights like I did above. Lift your back foot so that your toe makes contact with the floor and your heel is off the floor. Then, bend both knees (the goal is for both knees to hit a 90 degree angle). Make sure your right knee doesn’t bend over the right toe line. Hold for about 5 seconds, and then repeat the steps with the other side.
  2. Squats- 1 minute (weights optional)   I LOVE doing squats! It’s an exercise you’ll feel today and tomorrow. The best way I can describe doing a squat is to first set your feet about shoulder width apart. You can hold your belly to help you balance, or hold onto some weights like I’ve shown above. Keeping your core centered, spine straight, and butt back as you go down, squat down and act as if you are going to sit in a chair, and slowly come back up. Keep your butt tight as you do these for best results. If you choose to use the weights, a great way to incorporate them as you squat is to do a punching movement each time you are squatted down (squat, right punch, left punch, back up). You can sort of see the movements I used in the above picture!
  3. Plie Squats- 1 minute/ Pulse- 30 seconds   This is an alternate style of squat that is very effective and again, gives you a burn right away that lingers a day or two! Set your feet about a shoulder’s width apart, this time with your feet pointed out (think of a ballerina). Hold on to your belly if it helps you stay balanced, and keeping your thighs and butt tight and core centered, squat down and slowly come back up. After your minute is up, go into your squatted position and slightly bounce up and down in a “pulsing” motion. Don’t come all the way back up when doing this; the goal is to stay squatted and lightly bounce, keeping thighs and butt tight. Feel the burn!
  4. Wall Sit- 45 seconds   For this, find a flat wall (easy enough to do!) and stand with your back against the wall and your feet about shoulder’s width apart. then, keeping your back straight, go into a sitting position (really just like you are sitting in a chair). Make sure your knees do not go over your toes. You can hold the baby belly, or keep your hands in your lap as you “sit.”

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Sitting Exercises

For these, it’s helpful to have a mat for some cushion, though not necessary! They will also focus on core strength, which is so beneficial during and after pregnancy when our muscles are totally shot!

  1. Arm and Leg Raises- 1 1/2 minutes   Start on all fours, and slowly lift one leg, and the opposite arm (like in one of the pics above). Make sure to keep your butt tight as you lift your leg back. Then, slowly come back down and repeat the opposite arm and leg. Keep your butt tight while you do these, but this will also help your core and arms! As you get further into your pregnancy, it may not be safe to raise your arm while doing this exercise. If it is uncomfortable for you, keep both arms down and use the same lift and tuck movements with your legs like normal. You’ll still get the burn in your glutes and core strengthening without the risk of losing your balance.
  2. Side Leg Lifts- 1 minute + 20 second circular movements per leg   Lay on your side and stabilize yourself with your arm (like shown in above pic). If your belly is bigger, make sure your whole side is flat on your mat. Slowly raise one leg up as high as you can, and bring it back down. After about 30 or so seconds on one side, add in 10 seconds of small forward circular movements, and 10 seconds of small backward circular movements. To do this, raise your leg just about 6 inches, and with your foot, make forward (or backward) circular movements. Repeat with your other leg.

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*Try repeating the whole work out for double or triple the muscle and calorie burn if you’re body is feeling good!

I was so excited to formulate this routine and share with you all, as a way to encourage you to keep you feeling and looking great during your pregnancy, and also to hold me accountable to keep at it throughout my own pregnancy! Obviously, our goal during pregnancy should never be “weight loss,” or doing some major body sculpting; rather, it’s to maintain a healthy weight, keep those muscles toned, and feel amazing during these 9 months. It’s so beneficial for mom and baby to exercise and keep moving! Whether you’re in tip-top shape, or a very early beginner, you can do these simple workouts at your own pace and time! Only have energy for half the time? Cut it down in half and start there! Any effort is a great start, and your body will thank you for it!

*I do want to state that it is always safe and a good idea to check with your doctor before any type of exercise during pregnancy. In most cases, you’ll get the okay, but for some with complications there may be restrictions and limits to what you should and shouldn’t do!*

I hope I gave you a great lower body workout that will keep your butt and thighs feeling tight and looking hot during and after your pregnancy! What are some of your favorite workouts that are safe for pregnancy?! I would love to hear what you all do to stay moving! If you don’t follow Oak and Earth on Instagram yet, we have created a new page (@OakandEarth) that you can follow! I also have my personal Instagram @terapianalto that you can follow and stay up to date on blog happenings. Plus, now you can find us on our Facebook page (Oak and Earth)!

Can’t wait to see how you all enjoy the workout! Here are the steps, without the how-to’s:

butt kicks (45 seconds)

knee highs (45 seconds)

lateral shuffle (45 seconds)

standing lunges (1 minute)

squats (1 minute)

plie squats (1 minute)/pulse (30 seconds)

wall sits (45 seconds)

arm and leg raises (1 1/2 minutes)

side leg lifts (1 minute per side with 20 second circular movements per side)

*Repeat if you want a good sweat!!

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Peace-

Tera, xo

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

When was the last time you received a handwritten letter in your mail box? Do you remember a time when you had to wait weeks instead of seconds to hear from someone? With the advent of email, texting, and instant messaging came the swift decline of what is now affectionately (for me anyway) referred to as “snail mail”. While modern forms of communication and social media undeniably have their perks, there is something about old fashioned mail that is incomparable.

Mailing a letter is the next best thing to showing up at someone’s door. You pick out the stationary or card and pen. You spend time writing out your thoughts and questions, stories and sentiments. You touch the paper with your hands. You seal the envelope. You place it in your mail box, and they retrieve it from theirs. They open the letter you sealed. They touch the same paper. They read the words you wrote by hand. There is an intimacy there that texting can never come close to.

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I picked up this stationary, dip pen, and wax seal kit at a little shop in Florence, Italy

For those of you who have been following along with us for awhile, you might recall that I have a pen-pal, Becca, whom I have been corresponding with for the past 15 years. In fact, the last piece of mail I’ve received was a “Save-the-Date” to her wedding. Becca and I started writing when we were in 5th grade, but didn’t meet until we were 21. I was studying abroad in Scotland at the time, and she came to visit me from her home in New England. Becca and I have both experienced and been through so much since we began writing all those years ago, and she has been such a blessing to me. I never would have had the pleasure of knowing her, had it not been for handwritten letters. (Becca is also an amazingly talented illustrator and you should definitely check out her work here!)

Another thing I love about letters is that they are a legacy. They don’t disappear with the click of a button. They are a written history to be treasured and passed down through generations. I have letters from my great grandparents and grandparents, many of whom have now passed, and I deeply treasure the words they left behind. Seeing the handwriting of someone you can no longer speak to is almost like them being there with you for a moment as you read.

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In the fast-paced world of 2016, NOW is the time to slow down… and start writing letters. To help you get started, I’ve created this Pinterest board with lots of letter writing/snail mail inspiration! I also encourage you to go out and buy some stationary! Letter writing is an art, and writing on beautiful stationary is an easy way to “pretty up” your missives. Some of my favorite places to pick up something special are Rifle Paper Co., Studio Oh!, and locally, Shindig Paperie!

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Some of the stationary I’ve amassed

Do you love letters? Are you passionate about snail mail? Comment below and tell us why! Share memories of your favorite letter-writing/receiving experiences. We can’t wait to connect with you! Maybe you’ll even wind up with your own pen-pal.

As always, live healthy and love hard!

-Shelby

PS: Grab a mug from Sweet Water Decor, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea, and get writing!!

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