Merry Christmas, from some lumber jacks and a yeti!

Ho, Ho, Ho!
Merry Christmas and tis the season to all!

Can you believe Christmas Eve is here? I barely can! I have to admit, having let the Christmas blues hit me once or twice in the last few weeks (stress about gifts/money, forgetting the reason for the season), I am feeling very repentant and humbled. Christmas is about being close to those you love most (call me Seuss!), serving, loving, and remembering one little Christ Child who was brought into the world to save us all.
From the little couch where I sit typing this I can see the whole stretch of our cluttered little cottage. I should wrap this up and finish wrapping and perhaps vacuum up the loose pine needles around the tree, but instead I think I will share the first official, Smith family Christmas card!

I have to give full, undivided credit to Mr. Preston Smith for the theme. He dreamt it up clear back at the end of October and made sure we had everything necessary to pull it off (say hello to the new family axe and hatchet). 

I recommend taking the time for Christmas cards to everyone! I mean, who doesn't love receiving mail, especially mail scattered with cute pictures and kind holiday greetings?!
A small bit of advice I feel justified to offer is: Don't let pictures stress you out, whether they be Christmas card photos, or family photos. Enjoy your self and truly be happy, don't try to fake it! People love receiving photos of the ones they love. 
I know we do!

I love knowing that this is just the beginning and we will be seeing many more of these sweet things in the years to come! 

Merry Christmas all! May you find true happiness in celebrating this wonderful time of year. 
Love, the Smiths
+ this yeti we spotted up at Brighton last night o:


Burly Fellow

Anyone who knows Preston knows at least two things:
1. He is extremely creative
2. He is a Burly Fellow

The sweet combination of these two common Presto-facts has resulted in a very cool business opportunity. Now, with his own Etsy shop, appropriately titled 'Burly Fellow', showcased are the classy, organizational school-tool of the 21st century for the masterfully stylish…… (drum roll please) …… the Briefcase Backpack!
 Another thing many a good friend may know about Preston is that he loves his thrift shops - DI & Savers are like toy stores to him. In high school he came upon a pretty cool looking briefcase and while reasoning with himself whether or not it would make sense to purchase, the idea of using the 1990s-businessman's best friend at school came to mind. Not in the way it was designed though, in a new, innovative, hands free way.
Boy made his first prototype as a senior in high school and has rocked that thing all the way to the present day. He has constructed a handful for good friends and even had a booth at the Craft Lake City fair in Salt Lake one summer. Many a people were impressed and intrigued with the reinvented briefcase and his booth was a great success!
Since then the backpack making got put in the corner, gathered dust, and was almost forgotten, not to be awaken until the half dozen unfinished packs were evicted from their current place of storage (parents..).
Now they are back and revamped with cleaner, more sturdy design and are the perfect gift for the person on your list that likes the unique+vintage+cool.

Check out his shop here
If you are interested and are a Utah/SLC native, give me a shout out and shipping costs can be waived with the good old fashion shady craigslist-eqsue meet up!

Happy Christmas - 8 days and counting !!!

xoxo Amanda


Hot + Sweaty

On the first Monday in December, my dear friend Alyssa and I decided to beat the cold and try our hand (and flexibility, and strength) at Bikram Yoga. If you have never heard of Bikram, it is sometimes refer to as 'hot yoga' or 'sweat your ____ off yoga".

The class is held in the 'hot room' (typically 105 degrees) and the series consist of 26 poses, most of which you do twice in the 90 minutes of class time. If you have not done yoga before, 'yoga breathing' might weird you out at first. I mean, the first breathing exercise sounds like a choir of dementors..

I have done yoga here and there over the years, I really enjoy when I do it, but have never been very persistent. Going into Bikram I wasn't sure what to think, part of me expected it all to come fairly easy, and the other part was actually very nervous. Well, when Monday morning came around Alyssa and I went into the studio early to register and pay. We found ourselves in a beautiful studio, light and minimalist, accompanied by friendly staff, complimentary water and ice (the best kind of ice) and a lovely bathroom/locker room with complimentary showers equipped with body wash, shampoo and conditioner.
As we got set up in the hot room, our instructor was good to remind us to take it easy and to watch the other students around us before trying some of the more difficult postures ourselves. "Its ok to sit out of some postures, I was on my knees for half of my first Bikram class" our instructor told us. I thought, sure, she is just saying that to be nice. Well. This girl was indeed on her knees 60% of that first class.
I was experiencing the fuzzy, white, twinkly vision that accompanies becoming dizzy and overwhelmed by heat all at once. Rest assured, this only happened the first time, and I attribute it to not having drank enough water before class. Now I am completely fine as long as I drink no less than 32 oz of agua before class.
after only a couple classes alyssa has almost mastered the standing stick pose - dumb dancers :P

As of now, Alyssa and I have been 14 days in a row, so naturally we decided we'd better go for the 30 challenge. Students who attend class for 30 days straight get excelled flexibility, strength and a FREE t-shirt, and who doesn't love a free t-shirt (especially one that declares your exhausting 30-day dedication)?!

And guess what guys. Preston is shooting for the 30 day challenge too! He on his fourth day and loving it!

If you are in the Utah county area and interested in trying it out click here.
I would suggest getting their intro pass, a whopping $21 for 21 classes (which is sssssssssignificantly cheaper than the monthly passes, and it's a great way to try it out without too much commitment).
If you try it and love it, Brick Canvas is doing a special Yoga Buddy promotion right now, you can check that out here (it's a pretty good deal)!
If you are in the Salt Lake county area, good news, they have a sister studio located in Sugarhouse!


On the brain, as of late

December is here. It's HERE, & it's almost been here one whole week!
I hope everyone had a happy, healthy, loving and lovely Thanksgiving. We did. Breakfast with Prestons parents, siblings and their cute kids and dinner with my mothers extended family. Technically, this was our 'first married Thanksgiving' (we were eating tacos and honeymoonin' in Mexico last year), and it was what I consider, perfect.

This past week, a couple things have been circulating in my mind, non-stop.

A) Technology, technology, technology.
 I realize I am not the first to make the connection, or admit to the fact that technology is addicting, that at times, I literally feel addicted to my phone. I am embarrassed to think of how many times a day I check social media. I am embarrassed to think of how many seconds, minutes, hours of my time is wasted this way. Don't you dare get me wrong, I love the Insta, and I love browsing Pinterest, and I don't think either are the bad guys here. With my time spent wisely I feel content seeing the beautiful/funny/interesting/cute/thoughtful photos posted by friends, family and unique vendors that I follow. I feel equally content pinning clever/pretty/food-related/crafty/helpful pins for now or later.
I am not a hater of social network, it can be used in the best of ways.

I guess what part A is getting at is that I want to find the right balance with technology. I want to be more PRESENT when with friends, family, and especially with my husband. Heck, even myself! There is just too much importance in physical, real life, here and now conversations, mediation or just plain taking-it-all-in.

In that same token I am happy to have the technology to keep in touch with loved ones and acquaintances. I am happy to have imdb.com so Preston and I can learn everything we can about the movie/show we are watching/finished. I am happy the church has utilized technology in a way that allows us gospel information at our finger tips (so awesome now that I have a calling, I can have my primary lesson book right on my phone, whata-what). I am happy to have a 'insta-life-tracker' that I can look back on on what I felt was 'important' enough to share (sometimes important translates to 'I'm bored, I  wonder how many likes this will get' - am I the only one who has done that? A little embarrassing but it feels good to get it out). But really, I do like 'stalking' my own feed every now and then to see what mine and Preston's life in pictures looks like.

Technology is good, at the right time, in the right place. Moderation. Moderation in all things.

This one.. This one has been haunting me.. I feel like I have been fighting the 'I want, I want, I want' bug for days now and it. is. hard! It is hard because I finally realized how much I don't like this unhappy, ungrateful person the 'I want' persistency had created. 

I look around at the cute little house my grandparents are renting to us, that they have put lots of work and concern into to ensure our comfort. I see my handsome husband, he's making me my favorite green smoothie in our perfectly good blender before we hit yoga class at the gym that we have monthly passes to (that Preston frequents and I should frequent more). I see this little life we have together, pictures, books, open and unorganized drawers of clothes, shoes strewn about, my little plants on the windowsill, our warm jackets and good snow boots, our cars getting covered with snow outside.. I have so much. I, HAVE SO MUCH!  Yet, why, oh why do I let myself feel like I am missing out on something? Why do I need new this, or a new that, and more of this, and a new pair of those, when I already have all those things, when I already have more than I need? 

I am definitely not against getting something new. I have really appreciated the times I have planned out, worked hard and budgeted for the things that I want. What has freaked me out is when I realized this problem and that with it my 'want' list was growing, while my 'thankful' list was beginning to shrink.. and that is just no way to live!

Guess what. Very shortly after I pin-pointed this 'want, want, want' issue, a quote came up on my insta feed (see, technology/social media can be so great after all ): 
"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you do not have. 
Remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for."

Maybe the holidays and being with family and friends a lot more has sparked this need for change within myself. I hope to focus more on 'being present' and more on giving and gratitude.

To finish off, with a slightly unrelated note..
 One positive thing I have been more mindful about lately is that of my health. This week I have been enjoying some stinkin' awesome yoga (I will talk about that more later) and getting re-motivated to focus on eating clean.

A sweet family friend of ours, Carina, lent us a bounteous stack of cook books a month or so ago (a month?! they are currently sitting in my car waiting to be returned - whoops!) with this common 'clean eats' theme. Many of them being vegetarian/vegan. I have looked/read through them all a couple times and I think my favorite book was one by Gweneth Paltrow called It's All Good (which isn't vegetarian, but it's full of clean-eats and gluten-free).

This same friend, (she knows how interested Preston and I are into health) recommended we watch a couple documentaries, one being Forks Over Knives (guys, it's on netflix)! The premise, a look at America and it's food history, eating habits, and what the cause of all these crazy health conditions our country has been facing could be - the two major concerns being animal consumption and processed foods.
I found it seriously, so interesting!
I really liked this counter-comparison of eating clean/vegetarian/vegan to how many Americans get gastric bypasses every year:
"Despite the apparent success of th[is] dietary approach, some critics say eating this way is extreme.
Now, with the western diet, this guarantees there's going to be what, a half a million people in this country this year who will have to have the front half of their body divided, their heart exposed, then veins will be taken from their leg and sewn on their heart. Some people would call that extreme." -Forks over Knives
I don't know that I will be completely eliminating meat or animal by-products from my diet (I already naturally limit them anyway), but I have definitely been re-motivated to research and know my foods better - get them from a sustainable, clean source and to enjoy more plants based foods and stay away from ominous processed foods.

If you are still with me, I seriously applaud you. It's been one great spew of self improvements, gratitude with a little bit o' health soapboxing if you ask me!

So there you have it! Life is about making changes for the better and doing/learning/enjoying what you love. 

Amanda Kaye
ps. Please do share if you have any advice for problems A-B or comments/quesions/recommendations about 'C' - I hear The China Study is another great source for this information, have you read it?