Friday, November 9, 2012

Exercise Must be FUN!!!

November 9, 2012

by Ann

Decisions, decisions – What to write about on my first “fun” blog post. 
I am fortunate to get to do many fun things, but when contemplating what to write about first the activity that comes to mind is Jazzercise – something that I routinely do for fun that keeps me in shape, burns off the calories from indulgences or the extra glass of wine, and helps to diffuse the tension and/or stress that the not-so-fun parts of my life create.
Unless exercise is fun and convenient, I won’t do it.  Jazzercise fits both of those requirements for me.  The upbeat music and atmosphere along with the great people there make it fun, while the center I go to is just a couple of blocks from my house. 
Jazzercise can meet the fitness needs for people of all ages.  The classes that I attend have students ranging from their 20’s to 60’s and even a few older than that depending upon the time of day of the class!  The program is designed for individuals of different fitness levels to be able to challenge themselves and get good workouts simultaneously.
For those of you readers who are of my genre you probably remember Jazzercise from years gone by, as I do as well.  Jazzercise was founded in 1969, and has been going strong since.  There are 8,000 franchises world wide, teaching 32,000 each week! I first Jazzercised the year I got out of college in the local school’s cafeteria (or was it the gym?) in the small town where I was teaching.  Following that year, upon returning to the suburbs of Phoenix Arizona I took hit and miss classes, always enjoying them.  In 1998 I committed to making regular exercise a priority, and have been a member of the center that is fortunately for me only a couple of miles from my home since.
Here’s what I love about Jazzercise:
·        I get a good workout – I always feel better at the end of the class than I did at the beginning.
·        The music is contemporary, so it keeps me “in the know” about current artists and songs.
·        Classes are one hour in length and are a mix of dance (and believe me, I am no coordinated dancer), cardio, strength training, stretching, and flexibility work.
·      There is no pressure – all participants dress casually and comfortably, and we work to our level of ability – if we need breaks we take them!
·        The instructors are upbeat, fun, and well trained. 
·        Routines are consistent and so participants know what to expect.
·        It is relatively inexpensive – the center’s preference is to do a monthly auto-payment plan, so knowing that I have already paid motivates me to go when I am feeling lazy.
·        People like doctors and sales associates in clothing stores comment that I “must be a good exerciser” based upon my fitness levels and how clothes fit.
·        There is a sense of community within the center.  I have made friends, and although I don’t have the time to make those close relationships, I see many of the women going out to coffee or getting together for social events beyond the classes.
My personal goal is to attend at least three classes a week.  When school isn’t in session I can do four or five.  Classes last one hour and are conveniently scheduled around work hours for those of us that need
early morning and late afternoon or early evening classes.  Additionally, there are Saturday and Sunday classes.
If you are thinking that adding more fitness and exercise to your routine needs to happen, consider Jazzercise – it’s fun, which goes back to the title of this post – exercise needs to be fun to be sustainable.  Check them out at

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Inside, It's Autumn

November 8, 2012

by Heather

The nights and mornings are cool at this time of the year in the desert Southwest, and that's enough to get me ready to add autumnal touches to my decor. I like to "re-merchandise" my house seasonally (a left-over from my days in retail)  and change out most of the accessories, so here are some pictures from my living room and front dining room as it looks from Labor Day through Thanksgiving.

I added burlap ribbon (from Michael's) to the leather pillows above and below to help warm them up. The lamp shade below is actually black, not purple.  Have I mentioned that I need to invest in a good camera?  Any suggestions about digital cameras would be greatly appreciated.

The round table below (and above) has an antique mirrored surface which reflects the lighted vine pumpkins from Target.  Mercury glass pumpkins and leaf-topped bottle are from Pottery Barn.
Tall candlesticks are adorned with small mercury glass pumpkins (Z Gallerie) centered on mossy nests instead of their usual candles.

The English tea table is topped with a white pumpkin wreath surrounding a mercury glass candle holder. Since my living room is small, the sofa (Henredon) is love seat size.

The baker's rack below is laden with mercury glass pumpkins and gourds, lighted vine pumpkins, books, and candles.  I'm already thinking ahead to Christmas and planning how this will be re-merchandised for the holiday season this year.

My favorite corner is just below.  The wing chair (Baker's) is just the right size for me (and much too small for husband Tom) so when I'm ready to read, knit, or have a cup of tea, it's always ready for me. Oh, there's also plenty of wine in the wine rack just in case a cup of tea isn't strong enough to put the world right.

The chest holds all of my smallest appetizer plates, cups, and trays behind the cupboard doors and the top serves as one more spot to decorate with fall pumpkins and leaves.

The antique drop leaf table sat in my grandmother's home and while my sister was the one to inherit it, I ended up with it because it suited my style better than hers (at least that's what I told her so don't tell her differently, please).  The black wing chairs were my mother's and done originally in red -- I like to spray paint which is my one claim to doing "crafty" things.  My mother's silver tea service is relegated to the kitchen so that the pewter tea service has a place of honor in the fall.  My mother and grandmother were both born and raised in England so if there's a little English vibe going on, I come by it genetically.  Branches and large jug are from Pottery Barn and I wrapped some more burlap ribbon around the jug to warm it up for autumn.

Can you tell I like a zebra print? The zebra pillows are there year-round and I just add other pillows (Target) as seasonal accents.

No surface goes untouched, so even the top of the glass cabinet gets done.  If you look closely enough, you can see that small orange as well as mercury glass pumpkins are added to the glassware and shelves within.

The plant shelf by the staircase is also fair game.  I spray-painted pumpkins in gold, copper, and silver and arranged them on top of one another in the birdcage. Mercury glass objects were placed in the Crate and Barrel wooden trough, with a Pottery Barn leaf garland draped over them.

That's all for now.  Join me next time when I'll show how the other rooms in the house got dressed for fall.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How Much is Enough?

November 7, 2012

by Sheila

I like money.  I’m not afraid to say it.  I like the security and peace of mind that it can provide.  I like the pleasures and experiences it can buy.  I like the doors it can open.  But mostly, I like the freedom and independence that comes with having enough.  It is really important to me to get good value for my money.  That is not to say that I am cheap, but I will confess to being frugal.  I can’t help it.  My parents are this way, and I embrace this value wholeheartedly.  Oh, and did I mention my husband is Scottish?  Talk about wanting to get a good deal!

Everyone has a different idea of what a good deal is.  The only way to know for sure that I am wisely appropriating my funds is to know what my priorities are.  I don’t like clutter or waste.  I enjoy comfortable and pleasant spaces, inside and out.  I want room and resources to entertain family and friends.  I want to travel near and far.  I want to be appropriately and attractively dressed when it matters. I want to be fit and healthy so that I can participate in all of the activities I enjoy. In other words, I tend to be willing to spend extra money to go places (I am always the one who says “Yeah, let’s go do that”) , and then I will excitedly hunt salvage yards for my new front door.

 Don’t get me wrong, I like to spend money as much as the next person, but I really don’t like to spend money mindlessly.  I don’t like to buy something, only to bring it home and find it really doesn’t fit my personal style (a too-fussy dress), my lifestyle (an expensive gym membership that I never seem to use), or the function isn’t as handy as I thought (the smoothie maker that is not so amazingly better than the blender I already own).  This is where the balancing act comes in.  Will this really make my life better, easier, more beautiful or joyful? 

 Of course, the other balancing act has to do with spending money now vs. saving for later. There are many things I would like to buy or do right now, but what about that proverbial rainy day?  I don’t want to get caught short down the road. Should we plan that trip to Hawaii, or put more money in our retirement account? My mother-in-law used to say “You’re a long time dead”, and I think about that when I am weighing these kinds of decisions.  (By the way, we did the Hawaii trip … thanks for the advice Katie.)

 I also feel strongly that there is a point of diminishing returns.  When I have too many clothes in my closet and it’s so cluttered that I can’t find anything I really like to wear, I have tipped the balance too far in the wrong direction.  I am not a minimalist, but I do believe that less is often more.  Of course, this applies to many things … food, accessories, packing a suitcase, lawn to mow – I could go on and on.  And yes, it is quite possible we will be contemplating this over a glass of wine later today.  Let’s see, shall we share that second glass? The bottom line is, how much is enough? 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Love Affair with Food

November 6, 2012

by Ann
Great food with great friends…  Does life get any better than this?  Ok – if a glass or two of wine were thrown in, the answer would be yes!
My weekly “Tuesday contribution” to our Friendship, Life and Style blog will be about all-things-food.  Even though writing about food is my assignment, I’m sure that Sheila and Heather, my blogging girlfriends will trade topics with me periodically, because they are both amazing cooks and entertainers.
My love affair with food has been alive for as long as I can remember, but it has matured with age.  The affair has progressed from large quantities of chicken wings and beer in college to “small bites” of beautifully prepared appetizers and good wine for happy hour.
My interest in cooking dates back to junior and senior high “Home Economics” classes; enough, in fact, to spur me on to teach Home Ec for nearly twenty years.  (If I was still doing that today, I’d be a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher.)  Although more than a decade has passed since my home ec teacher days, I still enjoy everything about food, other than the messes that are invariably created.
I like to think that I am adventurous when I cook and with what I enjoy eating, but there is a short list of what I don’t like:
·         Ballpark mustard
·         Mussels
·         “Bitey” cheeses (aka most mold ripened varieties)
·         (Capers used to also be in the list, but my attitude towards them has softened lately)
In subsequent weeks my posts will include a bit of my ramblings with a recipe or two.  As an introduction to my philosophy on food, cooking, and eating, you should know that these are my beliefs:
·         Quality is more  important than quantity
·         Food is only great when shared
·         Don’t waste calories on things that are not worth it
·         Nutrition matters
·         Vegetables and fruits are important
·         Wine is important
·         Use the best possible ingredients
·         It’s not necessary to own every kitchen gadget made, but you do need the right tools to do the job
·         Junk food guilty pleasures can be the highlight of a long day, as long as it’s not every day (crunchy Cheetos or Hot Tamales – yum!)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fashion through the Ages

This week's schedule of blogs:
Monday - Fashion by Heather
Tuesday - Food by Ann
Wednesday - Frugality by Sheila
Thursday - Furnishings by Heather
Friday - Fun by Ann

November 5, 2012

by Heather

One of my favorite times of the year has always been the start of school…but not entirely because I’m eager to get back to books and learning (perhaps as a teacher I shouldn’t admit that).  It’s because the start of school has always meant back-to-school clothes shopping.  I remember shopping with my mother in the late 1960s in a downtown Minneapolis store that kept the merchandise behind closed doors and brought out only those items in which you might be interested  – in that particular case it was a cream drop-waist dress with leopard print collar and cuffs (see how cyclical fashion is?).  My favorite memory is of a burgundy (oxblood? wine? And isn’t that this fall’s signature color?) corduroy jumper purchased for the first day of school in 7th grade.  It even smelled good. 

Fashion was such an interest of mine that it became my major in college along with a minor in Interior Design.  Upon graduation, I was lucky enough to be hired for the executive training program of a major fashion department store and thus began my career in both buying and store management.  I like to blame that job for my increased interest in buying clothing, but if I look back at pictures of my youth, I was into fashion way before that time.  

Even though I eventually left that field to pursue another career, I still have a passion for all things pretty in clothing and fashion accessories. I believe that all women can dress well, no matter their age or budget constraints.  Certain people that we know or see can inspire our looks, and that inspiration combined with our own creativity is what makes fashion fun for me.  One of my early fashion icons was “That Girl.”  I still like the matchy-matchy style of Marlo Thomas in that role, even though I know it’s not a current fashion trend.  Knowing what the trends are, though, is different than following them blindly.  I think it’s important to know what you like and what looks good on your body shape…and what’s age appropriate.  And sometimes it’s just okay to say “I like this and I’m old enough to wear it if I want to!"

The time I invest in shopping and then creating outfits is an artistic outlet for me – one that I enjoy.  Even my pastimes are perhaps excuses to engage in this endeavor.  My husband says that I love riding my motorcycle more for the opportunity to expand my wardrobe into all things leather and bling than for the sheer joy of having the wind in my hair.  He might be halfway right.

Below is my first experimentation with photographing an outfit.

Even though the temps here in Scottsdale, AZ, are still hovering in the 90s, I'm convinced that someday soon it will be cool enough to wear this Chico's black fringed shawl collar coat with leopard print pants.  I wouldn't have thought I could do the leopard print (my bottom half is not the smallest part of me), but the longer  black coat camouflages the "bigger" parts.  Cinching the coat with an animal print belt (also from Chico's) defines my waist -- a help for those of us classified as curvy (I like "curvy" instead of plump...I also "purr" instead of snore and "glisten" instead of sweat).

I've accessorized the outfit with bracelets from Ann Taylor, the Loft, Chico's, and ....I don't remember where the gold bling linked bracelet came from (an age-related hazard), but it seems to be featured in many fashion blogs these days.  The boots are from Nordstrom's and the sunglasses are from Tiffany.

The necklace is also a Chico's find.  Gotta love that Chico's -- the one at Kierland Commons (Scottsdale, AZ) is particularly good.  Ask for Paula!

Would love to hear from you!