{PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February
{PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February

How is it the shortest month of the year has felt so long? February was a bit rough.

Fitness

On Superbowl Sunday, February 1, I had a great treadmill workout. Monday morning, I couldn’t bend my left toes and could barely put weight on the ball of my foot. It was a constant ache with sharp pain if I wasn’t gentle. Not gonna lie, I shed a few tears. I did nothing active for over a week, save limping to work on my daily walk.

Finally a physical therapist friend had a look, told me to ice and roll on a tennis ball and thought it could plantar fasciitis. The rolling did wonders! I’ve kept a ball under my desk to roll after my walk to the office.

I eased back into low impact interval workouts and I had to modify in yoga class. Nearly four weeks later I’m running carefully again and I still roll to keep any soreness away. I’m guessing this will be something I just have to manage, for a while at least.

All told, I’ll be at 21 hours of activity, including my walks, and 18 days of workouts for February. Not what I’d hoped for, but considering the time off, I’ll call this a win.

What I learned this month:

• You don’t realize how much you need your big toe until you can’t move it. At all.

• There’s lots of low impact “cardio” one can do. Kettlebell swings for days. Whether its a bum foot or neighbors in the apartment below, or both, I’ve been creative about my home workouts. More to come for us apartment dwellers.

Fun

I made it big on PBS. We threw a Superbowl part with 14 adults and 2 babies in our 650-square-foot apartment. We had one of the best Valentine’s Days yet. I organized two additional dinner parties with new friends. We saw giant bobble head presidents at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery when we stumbled into a family President’s Day celebration. I did lots of inversion practice. We signed a lease to move into a two-bedroom apartment in March and my youngest brother is moving in with us.

All while missing 99% of the horrible winter weather. We’re just south enough to avoid the biggest parts of the storms.

Oh, and I made a free background for your desktop, tablet or phone. Download here. While I’m at it, here’s a marketing post on taking quality photos for your blog.

Favorite photos from Instagram

{PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS {PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS {PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS
{PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS {PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS {PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS
{PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS {PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS {PIlotingPaperAirplanes.com} February Instagram @LarissaDaltonS

 Food

I’ve decided to extend this no-sugar thing through Lent. This means Sunday’s will be break days. I don’t remember this growing up, but apparently Sundays aren’t counted in the 40 days of Lent and Catholics, at least, take them as a break from whatever fast they’re doing. So! That takes me through Easter with a handful of days for my hot chocolate or desert. I’m also adding back honey to my morning tea.

What I’ve learned: 

• I’m a stress eater. When I get overwhelmed or frustrated, I just need something sweet to help me settle. My February sugar detox has been mostly good. I’ve had only a few days of tough cravings and a couple of fails. I’ve learned when I feel good it’s easy to say no to sweet snacks. But when I’m tired or stressed, it’s almost impossible.

• Don’t go over a friend’s house to watch the Oscars after a workout without eating a real dinner. Those Oreos won’t know what hit them. I know better, but it still happened.

Actually, my sugar-free-Lent means my Oscar Sunday cookies were fine, right? #doesntcount

 Thanks for hanging with me!

If you’ve dealt with plantar fasciitis, how have you managed it?
Are you an emotional eater?

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} 3 hacks for perfect jeans, denim, diy
{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} 3 hacks for perfect jeans, denim, diy

Finding the perfect pair of jeans is SO HARD. Sizes vary so much brand to brand and rarely fit individual body shapes well. I use 3 easy hacks to tailor regular fit problems in my jeans – whether they be new jeans needing a tailor or old jeans needing a second life.

1. The waist is too big{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} 3 hacks for perfect jeans, denim, diy

When my jeans fit well in my thigh and hips, the waist is far too big. I am not a belt wearer and especially hate when a belt causes jeans to bunch around the waist. An easy fix is adding two simple darts in the back.

(1) Estimate the size of your dart by pinching the excess together when they’re on. I don’t usually measure, but you can. I judge the extra fabric by sight or by my thumb width.

(2) Cut that measurement in half and pinch two darts centered over the back packets. If I had two thumbs-worth extra when on, each dart should be about one thumb. (I’ve done this enough times to get my estimates correct, but use a ruler for a more precise measurement your first time).

(3) Sew the darts by machine or by hand. These are easy seams only a few inches long, so sometimes I do this by hand with a movie on. Your seam will create a triangle between the folded edge and top of the waistband.

(4) Turn the jeans right-side-out and check that darts don’t pucker. Your seams should blend off the bottom edge.

(5) Done right, you’ll have two smooth seams cinching the waist band for a perfect fit. No belt needed!

I don’t trim these edges. The darts lay neatly and then I don’t have any ragged edges against my skin.

 

2. The legs are too wide

I saved my favorite pair of old Target jeans by bringing in a flair I no longer wanted. The best tip for this one is to sew the leg larger than you think, especially if you’re trimming the knee area. The knee can end up doing some funny puckering if your seams aren’t nice and smooth.

Start bigger, try them on, and slim again with another seam as needed. Be sure to go back with a second seam (preferably zig zag) to seal in fraying before cutting the excess fabric.

Here are a few old pairs I’ve tailored:

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} 3 hacks for perfect jeans, denim, diy

The jeans here on the left are slimmed from the knee down. In the middle, my green pair needed slimmed from the waist all the way down (I loved the color and purchased the closest size on clearance). On the right pair I added small darts on the side, then trimmed the wide leg into a nice boot cut. These three were all experiments – they didn’t fit and would go in the donate pile anyway. But it worked and I wear all three!

 

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} 3 hacks for perfect jeans, denim, diy3. The zipper slips

I have an old pair of second hand jeans that are perfectly worn in and so soft… but the zipper always slipped. This Pinterest tip works wonders.

Find a key ring buried in a drawer, slip it on the zipper and loop it around the button. Viola.

There you have it! Three ways to save your favorite old jeans or tailor new ones for a perfect custom fit.

Thanks for reading!

Do you ever tailor your clothes?
How do you find a great fit?

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} headstand, handstand, inversion, yoga

Meet my friend the headstand. I’ve been working on my inversions a LOT the past year. I’d venture a guess that I’ve spent more time upside down in the previous 12 months than I have in the 20-something years before that.

During all this time on my head, I’ve had a thought or two.

1. I don’t know my body as well as I thought. Or directions.

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} headstand, handstand, inversion, yoga

You think you’re pretty familiar with your legs until you toss them upside down. (NO tossing, actually. Do NOT throw yourself into an inversion. Control, build the strength, DON’T break something important!)

Anyway, once you’re balancing on your head or arms, your legs turn into strangers that have no clue what to do with themselves. Any lower-body awareness you have right side up is meaningless. You must learn that awareness and control all over again.

Simple instructions like “lengthen your spine up, Larissa” or “press your shoulders down” suddenly become very confusing. Up meaning toward my head? Or up meaning toward the ceiling? Because upside down my brain still thinks head and ceiling are the same “up.” Likewise, am I pressing my shoulders down toward the ground or down my back (which is in fact “up” toward the ceiling when upside down)?

2. I can’t watch TV upside down.

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} headstand, handstand, inversion, yoga

I’ve tried. Maybe I will someday when I can focus on more than “breathe. find your focus point. lengthen the back. oops, legs leaning. engage core. press into the floor and reach for the ceiling. good, now keep breathing.”

And that monologue is in headstand, a pose in which I am rather comfortable now. Put me in forearm or handstand, my focus is 100% not falling on my face. Following a TV show (or just exchanging comments with Jon) is out of the question.

3. I have fallen exactly zero times.

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} headstand, handstand, inversion, yoga

That’s the biggest fear when working with inversions. “I’m going to smash my face, I’m going to break my neck. I’m going to fall sideways and take out the person next to me. Or furniture if I’m at home.”

In fact, none of those things happen. I may not control the exit of an inversion as much as I need to, but I’ve never fallen out of one. Turns out the biggest challenge is getting over that fear in the first place.

A good instructor makes a difference. Good form and technique equals protecting your body. So far I’ve had two different yoga instructors work with me specifically on inversions. They each have slightly different styles and I’ve gained a lot of confidence from them both.

4. Inversions are hard work!

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} headstand, handstand, inversion, yoga
Building strength in my forearm stand and handstand. Progress every day!

There’s a point early on when you think it’s all about the balance. Then you try to pull on a jacket the next day. Arms, shoulders, back, core, even legs. Everything hurts. Granted, I’m still learning and building the necessary strength. At this point in my journey I know not to plan a heavy arm workout the day after some serious inversion work.

A word of caution: don’t overtax yourself with these. One of my teachers often says “leave enough juice to get down with control.” It’s really easy to push too much because I almost have it and just need one more try. Except if I’m too tired I won’t get it and I could injure myself.

Following every inversion practice I do some postures to reset my neck and back. A light bridge while gently pressing the back of your head into the ground does a great job. A shoulder stand or plough pose is nice, too. Legs-up-the-wall finishes off the practice perfectly.

Thanks for reading, friends!

Are you an inversion pro or working on it like me?
What have you learned while upside down?

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} how to take quality photos, photography, camera
{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} how to take quality photos, photography, camera

Quality photos can make or break a blog post, even with the best content. Visuals matter, plain and simple. Whether you want to improve your Instagram photography or step up your blog images, there are some standard techniques to apply – phone camera included.

1. Composition

The rule of thirds is the key to great composition. Imagine tick tack toe across your image. Line up your subjects where those lines cross each other.

2. Zoom with your feet

Don’t become dependent on the camera zoom – instead move closer to your subject. You’ll get a better composition and avoid zoom distortion.

3. Avoid the flash

The camera flash won’t go more than a few feet and creates harsh shadows. Turn off the flash and use natural light as often as possible.

4. Be aware of your light source

Watch for bright light behind your subject – this will cause your camera to overexpose the shot making your subject dark. Likewise, avoid direct light in front of your subject that produces hard shadows – and causes people to squint.

5. Know your equipment

If you do have a camera with manual mode, here are the basics you need to know.

Aperture: hole in the lens that lets light in and controls depth of field. Smaller number (F/2) = wider opening that allows more light and produces a shallow depth of field. Larger number (F/16) = smaller opening allows less light and produces a larger depth of field.

Shutter: opening in the camera body that lets light in. The speed – duration for which the shutter is open – is measured in fractions of a second.

Faster shutter speed (1/1000) allows less light and freezes the subject sharply. Slower shutter speed (1/25) allows more light and produces more motion blur. Shutter and aperture work in tandem.

ISO: sensitivity to light. Higher ISO (1000) is more sensitive and less light is required for correct exposure. Lower ISO (200) is less sensitive and more light is required for correct exposure. Keep in mind that a higher ISO lowers the image quality by producing more “digital noise.”

I am a communication professional by trade and happen to have a photographer for a husband. You can thank him for teaching me these tools!

Thanks for reading!

Do you find this helpful?
What is your favorite trick for quality photos?

{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} lunch date, coffee date,
{PilotingPaperAirplanes.com} lunch date, coffee date, home purchases

If we met for a lunch date this weekend, I would tell you…

 

• About my bum foot. It’s finally starting to feel better but I’ve been hobbling around all week. No swelling, no bruising, just severe pain and dramatic loss of motion on my left big toe and ball of my foot. Killer you guys.

I haven’t worked out or yoga’d in a week because I simply couldn’t put much pressure on it. Just the thought of a high lunge was excruciating. Walking to work took ages. The pain is lessened enough that I’m going to try my regular yoga class tomorrow, but I’m trying really hard not to push it. I want it to heal up all the way.

• About my sugar detox. I’m ditching the treats and deserts and sugar in my tea this month. The cravings started to feel controlling and I need to break the habit. Days 1 – 5 were great. I didn’t have any strong cravings at all. Now, though, it’s getting hard.

• About changing apartments. Next month we’re moving into a two bedroom in our complex because my youngest brother is coming to live with us. We don’t have to move far, but we will lose a storage space in the new apartment layout. We’re brainstorming ways to work around that.

It means another round of downsizing! Even in just 700 square feet there are things we can clear out. I don’t like clutter and I’m not a sentimental collector of stuff AND I’m a type A organizer so I already have plans to repack some belongings more efficiently. A donation trip is in our near future.

Oh, also? We finally purchased a living room rug. I love it! It took us over a year on wood floors to make the decision. We just couldn’t find one we liked enough for a low price. Rugs are expensive! We didn’t want a long-term piece in our little apartment and this is the perfect balance of quality and price.

• About my teeny tiny baby appliance food processor. I laughed when I pulled it out of the box. We don’t need a fancy or large one. I just wanted a basic food processor to make falafel, a fairly regular favorite of ours, and hide in a cupboard when not in use. My 1950’s vintage blender doesn’t do that so well (Jon also ordered new blades for that guy. Is it strange that new blender blades make me so happy?)

And if I start talking about falafel, I have to tell you our newest habit. I make a big batch, split it into 2 or 3 meal servings and freeze them. De-thawing the mix and frying it up is super easy for a mid-week meal. And yes, we do fry it on the stove top. Someday I’ll go healthier and bake the falafel but it’s just too darn tasty.

Also on the horizon? Homemade hummus. My baby food processor and chick peas are going to be great friends.

Thanks for reading!

What would you tell me on a lunch date?

The Ultimate Coffee Date, lunch date