Monday, September 28, 2009

Cat Wrestling

Roxy and Beckham have started to wrestle again - it took them a little while to get settled post-move.

A few weeks ago Beckham pulled this move - he tucked himself partially under the entertainment center so much like a turtle his back was protected.

He lured Roxy over to wrestle and she tried and tried to figure out how to get him, but she couldn't get a good angle. Finally she had enough and walked away.


You all should be most impressed that not only did I activate my free week of yoga pass, but I've actually been using it as well.

3 yoga classes in the last 3 days and I am so freakin' sore!

This place is serious - the classrooms are high tech, everything is provided (mats, towels, blocks) and the locker room is absolutely beautiful. The instructors are fabulous but wow do they make you work. Yesterday I was sweating and muscles shaking during the poses - it was a 75 minute basics class that was more work than I've ever done in a yoga class. The class only had about 10 people in it so the instructor really worked with each of us individually to make sure we got each pose.

Unfortunately the regular membership prices are way too expensive for me to even consider joining. But I have 4 more days of classes this week and I intend to make the most out of the free pass before it expires.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

3 Exercises

I did a few things I haven't done in a while today - I cleaned out my e-mail inbox and I checked my blog stats.

My most popular post ever was the list of the highest calorie restaurant meals. In that vein I am posting from an e-mail I have saved for months but never really read until today-

The Three Exercises You Must Do for a Tighter You
By Karen Berney

(I'm going to paraphrase here - because I know you all want to know the 3 exercises but I am really only going to talk about #1 on her list.)

#1 - bicycle the abs

#2 - squat the gluts

#3 - push ups for sculpted arms

Her article has a link to a Discovery Health web page:

The web page ranks "which abdominal exercise is best"

These ab exercises are listed in order from most effective to least effective.

Bicycle maneuver

Captain's chair*

*Captain's chair: You need a piece of gym equipment to do this. In essence, you lift and lower your knees toward your chest while gripping handholds and pressing your back against a back pad.

Crunches on an exercise ball

Vertical leg crunch

Torso Track

Long-arm crunch

Reverse crunch

Crunch with heel push

Ab Roller


Traditional crunch

Exercise tubing pull

Ab Rocker

Source: American Council of Exercise

I am totally fascinated with this - I mean if I am going to the trouble of doing an ab exercise I certainly want to do what is most effective (if you are going to try this at home please read up on the proper form, your own research because really you shouldn't believe everything you read on the Internet).

I'm really glad the #1 exercise is something I already know how to do - most of these exercises I've never even heard of, no wonder they aren't effective.

And hello infomercial products, I knew you were too good to be true! Ha!

Thanks for setting the record straight American Council of Exercise.

Tonight I scorn the fancy weight room and go back to the basics old school - I should have those sculpted abs in a matter of days, right?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fashion Night Out - 2009

Or as I like to think of it, trick-or-treating for KO!

DVF (Diane Von Furstenberg) and others put together an event to kickoff Fashion Week and to get people out and shopping. (The retailers really need people to open their wallets again).

There were over 700 stores offering an array of events. Everything was free and I think everything was open to the public. Every store had a drawing, many had free food and cocktails and there were plenty of djs spinning - in fact if you needed a dj for a party that night you were probably outta luck, they were all working in Soho.

I had to do some research to try and map out the best route. I wanted to hit Soho, the Meatpacking District (MPD), Saks, Bloomies, and Pure Yoga located in the Upper East Side.

Luckily I called Pure Yoga before I headed out for the night. While most stores were hosting events from 6 - 11pm, they were going to close after the last class of the day, about 9pm. I knew I didn't want to head all the way up to the UES by 9 so I waited until 6 and stopped there first (it's pretty much on the way to the subway station - so an easy way to start the night).
Pure Yoga was offering a free week of yoga classes (retail value $170) and as it turns out a box of coconut water (love the stuff, it's oddly refreshing - but definitely not an expected taste - retail value $1.99).
15 minutes in to the night I was already ahead $172! Yay for me.
I hopped on the train and headed straight to Soho. First stop - the Anna Sui for Target pop-up store.

Oh no - a line, do I wait or do I move on and try to come back later? I quickly determine the line is moving quickly and the girls behind me were gossiping about some party where Tom Colicchio cooked a vegan meal - good eavesdropping material - I can wait. The store was so cute. It was covered in purple and black fabric and had a romantic/goth kind of vibe. They had actors (at least I assumed they were paid human props) placed in various locations throughout the store portraying the idea of various Gossip Girl characters (the Anna Sui line was inspired by the Gossip Girl characters). The store was staged in an empty store with multiple levels. The lighting was dim and the clothes were tucked in to corners. You started out going downstairs and then walked up two levels - when you were ready to check out you walked down a level and ended up at the registers which were street level. They did a good job and the collection was really fun. Most of the items were waaaaayyyy to young for me (most of the dressers were in junior sizing - yikes), but I nabbed a few fab pieces and headed on my way. After departing the store I was stopped twice by other shoppers wanting to know where the store was and what the clothes were like.
I had a store in mind for my next stop but didn't get there. I made a quick stop at Via Spiga to sign up to win a $2,500 shoe collection and enjoy a chocolate dipped strawberry. (retail value: $4.00 - total for the night $176).
I wandered in to a store that was featuring a musician. There were free drinks, but I was not dressed for the vibe and moved along quickly. Right next door there was a new Swarovski concept store (I was so dazzled by all of the sparkly things I didn't exactly get the concept - I think they have lots of individual gems and you basically create custom jewelry). They were pouring free champagne and had a bar with nuts, cheese, and crackers. (retail value: glass of champagne $12.00, cheese plate $8.00 - total for the night $196). The store was gorgeous and had tons of stuff to look at as you were eating. Next to the bar was a display of designer shoes - various shoe designer reinterpreted the iconic 'ruby slipper' from the Wizard of Oz. I am in love the the Manolos!

They had costumes on display and of course a dj spinning downstairs. The best part about the downstairs was a nice clean restroom with no line.
My goal was to make it to Sephora in Soho and win the makeover with Oscar Blandi. On my way I took a slight detour to the Burberry store. They had a drawing for a classic Burberry trench - how could I pass up that opportunity? As I wandered through the store in search of the form to fill out for the drawing I picked up another free glass of champagne (retail value $12.00 - total for the night $208). The store was packed and of course had a super trendy young crowd with a dj spinning. I stayed just long enough to fill out my entry form and drink my champagne - no time to waste, I had better places to visit! Before I made it to Sephora I had to stop in one of my favorite stores in Soho, Uniqlo. It is a Japanese store that sells great pieces for great prices. The siren song of the velvet blazer (which has been banned from my wardrobe due to it's unflattering fit) called out to me -but I resisted.

This same velvet blazer was available in an array of colors including the most wonderful soft gray...sigh.
On the way out I did score a bottle of Japanese ice tea - check out the fancy pants label (it is probably the equivalent of generic blue label in Japan but my Western brain was impressed).
(estimated retail value: $3 - total for the night $211)

Finally Sephora. Well I missed the hair cut, but I did get to see Oscar Blandi (stylist to the stars). In a way I think I'm OK with not getting the makeover. Apparently it wasn't in his salon at a later date - it was live in the front of the store. Oscar was over by his makeshift station and there was hair all over the floor. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed a makeover in front of a big crowd. I met with one of the people in charge of product development and she talked up the shampoo. I was in need of new shampoo and it smelled absolutely fabulous (lemon verbena - similar to the Bliss lemon - sage body butter). His hair care line also offers a dry shampoo that has the same lovely scent. I have been using the products for about 2 weeks now and I'm really happy with my purchase (aside from it being a little heavy to carry that night).

The Oscar Blandi rep tossed in a bunch of free samples and Sephora had their own sample pack - I left with all kinds of fun stuff. To me there are few things as much fun as a bag full of makeup/beauty product samples - you get to test a product out without any potential buyer's remorse.

Not sure if samples have any retail value, I'm not adding them to my total....

On my way to the subway, I stopped in the Lucky Brand jeans store - the lured me in with talk of free cupcakes and free t-shirts. The t-shirts were pretty cool but there was a huge line. They were individually silk screening each shirt as you waited. Great concept, but poor execution - the line was all over the place and clearly it was a huge time commitment. I passed on both the t-shirt and the cupcake.

At this point it was about 9:30 and I was ready to head north. I was either going to Bloomies, Saks, or DSW. DSW was giving away a pair of shoes every 30 minutes and the big prize was a year of free shoes (one pair a month for 12 months). Yay for shoes. I caught an express train and decided I would sign up for the year of shoes. Stylist Bobbi Thomas was on-hand to provide fashion advice and give away shoes. I was just in time for the 9:30 drawing but they didn't call my name. The grand prize drawing was at 10pm and the winner had to be present to win. I decided to stay and really, how fast does 30 minutes go by when you are trying on shoes. The store had quite a different crowd than Soho - definitely not as young, beautiful, or trendy. There was no free champagne or dj spinning. Unfortunately 10pm came and went and I left not winning any shoes. Bummer!

I really wanted to end my night at Bloomies but I was getting tired and I wanted to look for flats at the Steve Madden store in our neighborhood. I am in desperate need of some good flat shoes for fall and they had everything in the store on sale.

Back on the train headed for the UES. I stopped in Steve Madden (very loud dj spinning - it's a small space, when the shoes are vibrating on the shelves it's time to turn the volume down). I tried on a few pairs but no luck.

I had a coupon for 25% off of everything at Banana Republic - the last stop of the night. They were serving sparking water and had a cute spread with nuts, cheese, and crackers. I refueled with some sparkling water and some cheese and crackers. I found a cute sweater and lilac colored top, grabbed a bottle of water and checked out just at 11pm. (retail value: glass of sparkling water: $3, bottled water: $2, cheese plate: $8 - total for the evening: $224 in free merchandise!).

I'm not sure how successful the event was for a retailer. Lots of people were in the stores but the only place I really saw merchandise flying off of the racks was in the Anna Sui for Target pop-up store. I think many people were like me, in for the party, the drawings, and the freebies!

I need to sign up for my free week of yoga - it's on my list for tomorrow. I can't wait as the coupon has to be used by October 9th, I don't want to miss out on my best deal of the night.

The Cloisters

The weather has been really nice, every weekend we try to get outside as much as possible.

One Sunday we took a trip up to the Cloisters. I can't describe it any better than what is on the web page:

The Cloisters, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe, was assembled from architectural elements, both domestic and religious, that date from the twelfth through the fifteenth century. The building and its cloistered gardens—located in Fort Tryon Park in Northern Manhattan—are treasures in themselves, effectively part of the collection housed there. The Cloisters collection comprises approximately five thousand works of art from medieval Europe, dating from about the ninth to the fifteenth century.

Fort Tryon is pretty much right across the street from the Hudson river and was absolutely gorgeous that afternoon. It's also way up in the northern tip of Manhattan. Just because I wanted to see the sights on the way up to the park we took the bus. It's about an hour ride and goes through Harlem.

Seeing all of the works of art in what feels like an original setting is so awesome. Being medieval many of the artifacts are religious in nature - especially the many stained glass windows. Looking at a set of stained glass windows from the 1400's makes me wonder if the person who made them realized they would last for so long and who else has looked through that same window.....
Along with the religious articles there are plenty of courtyards and arches with fabulous architectural details.

Same courtyard, different view:

And a different indoor courtyard - the cats would love this!

And more arches....

one more arch - it's just so pretty I can't resist.

I loved the colors in this fresco - how do you move a fresco? And many of the items on display came from private collectors, how big is your home if this is on display?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

New Yankee Stadium Tour

This tour was awesome. I am not a Yankee fan but I do enjoy baseball and I appreciate what you get to see on the tour. I think most people would enjoy it, baseball fan or not - but if you are a die hard Red Sox fan just take the tour of Fenway and call it a day.

This was the first time I had been to new Yankee Stadium - a huge improvement over the old Yankee Stadium. The old stadium had tight corridors that were always dark and packed with people. Now when you enter Yankee Stadium you enter a huge open and bright great hall. Banners line the hall, black and white photos on one side and color photos on the other side.

Also at the entrance there is a large club store and Hard Rock Cafe. (Yes, Ernie I bought you a t-shirt, it's in pile of packages I need to mail.)

The first stop on the tour is the Yankee museum. They really did a nice job with the space and the collection. The memorabilia is incredible.

The first thing you notice is a glass display case in the middle of the room. The display case and statues are honoring the perfect game thrown during the World Series in 1956. On one side is the pitcher, Don Larsen, and on the other side is the catcher, Yogi Berra. The top of the display case was built to mimic the exact trajectory of the game winning pitch. The display case also holds hundreds of signed baseballs - the Yankees are trying to get a signed ball from every player to wear the Yankee uniform.

The next part of the museum is divided in the eras - the Joe DiMaggio era, the Mickey Mantle era, and the Derek Jeter era. They have everything from uniforms, unused World Series tickets stubs, and World Series trophies on display.

The museum also holds the locker of Thurmun Munson. He was a charismatic player from the 70s who was killed in a plane crash during the season. Out of respect for him, they left his locker untouched in the clubhouse. When the new stadium was opened they moved the entire locker to the museum.

Next stop on the tour, Monument Park. The Yankees have a small portion of the field set aside for a small park filled with all kinds of commemorative plaques and statues. It was raining on and off all day during our visit. While we were in the museum it was pouring - when we first stepped out in to Monument Park the rain had stopped, but that didn't last for long as you can see by all of the open umbrellas.

This was erected in honor of the heroes and victims from 9/11.

This is for the visit by the Pope last April.

JasO and MW in Monument Park - at least with the rain most of the other people on the tour were not in the open part of the park.

After about 10 - 15 minutes in Monument Park they herded the tour group over to the Yankee dugout! The rain stopped and we were able to look out on the field and sit on the bench just like all of the players.
This is the view from the expensive seats, walking down to the Yankee dugout.
Hey look at us - were standing in the Yankee dugout!
Here is Michael is watching the action at home plate. (OK, so there is no action at home plate, but it sure is fun to imagine yourself a major league ball player. Seeing the stadium from their point of view is awesome.)

Hey look who's sitting on the Yankee bench - JasO and KO. Do you think this is Jeter's spot on the bench? The dugout is air conditioned (there is a vent right behind my head) - after all we can't have the players getting too hot during the game. But the league has some rule that the visiting team must have all of the same amenities as the home team, so the visiting team gets an air conditioned dugout too.

Hey, now who's on the bench - it's JasO and MW. KO must be at bat (or taking the picture - one of those two things).

This picture wasn't taken to highlight the fine hair styling of this die hard Yankee fan (she was so excited to get the free key chain at the end of the tour -she immediately unwrapped it and put it on her key ring) - but to show our great tour guide. He knew so much about the Yankees past and present, he gave us a great tour and was sure to highlight some of the little things that make the stadium special.

Looking up behind the dugout.

Looking across the field to the scoreboard from the dugout.

Looking over to home plate from the dugout.

And they saved the best part of the tour for last - but no cameras were allowed. They took us from the dugout in to the Yankee clubhouse (locker room). The clubhouse is huge, it is a big oval room with the lockers lining the outside and two seating areas with leather arm chairs in the middle. The carpet has a big Yankee logo in the very center of the room. The lockers were really modern looking and stylish. They just barely let you in the door about 15 - 20 feet and then usher you out a side door. All the way at the other end of the room are the lockers for the big name players. It was interesting to see which locker was where and what was in the locker. Lots of clothes and uniforms, some dry cleaning, some mail and packages.
Right behind the dugout, before you enter the clubhouse there are batting cages for the players to use during the game - one even has a pitcher's mound.
There is also a wall dispenser of Purell, which prompted someone on the tour to say - that is the hand sanitizer Derek Jeter uses! But if it is hand sanitizer, doesn't that mean there really should be no trace of anyone who uses it? Just a little something to ponder.
After they move you through the clubhouse the tour ends in true Disney style, at the gift shop!
It's a really great tour and I recommend it for anyone that is remotely interested in baseball. The tour tickets have been a hot item this season and I had to purchase our tickets on Stub Hub. I don't think they offer tours on game days, and even if they did I don't think they would let you in the dugout or clubhouse on a game day - so best to wait until the team is out of town or in the off season.