Saturday, May 31, 2014

Fifty Shades of Pure Barre

Wouldn't you now.
So, by some stroke of fate, I started reading E.L. James's Fifty Shades of Grey around the same time I started taking classes at my local Pure Barre. If you're not familiar with Fifty Shades, God help you: have you been living under a rock somewhere? I will forgive you if you have no idea what Pure Barre is.  When I checked into Pure Barre at 7:00 this morning on my Facebook page with the caption "Starting this Saturday morning off right;)," someone thought I was at the bar drinking wine. If only. (BTW, I can understand how many of my friends would fall prey to this misconception; I am well-known for drinking wine, not so much for getting up at the crack of dawn to work out). This leads me to my point.

Pure Barre, according to its website, "is a total body workout that utilizes the ballet barre to perform small, isometric movements, which burn fat, sculpt muscles and create long, lean physiques." They should really describe it, however, as one-hour of torture, overseen by sadists. During that one hour, you have a hell of a lot of time to think. And if you've been reading Fifty Shades, well, ... here's what you start thinking.

The Fifty Shades of Pure Barre (OK, there aren't Fifty. That would be too long. Eight is enough).

There is a grey, tan, or taupe room of pain (depending on the decorative choices of the studio owners) tricked out with various red-accented tools of torture, otherwise known as exercise balls, bands, weights, and barres. Once you enter the room, you cannot leave until the hour is up. Oh, and you signed a little contract to put yourself in here. And paid good money to do it.
You spend a lot of time in this position. In excruciating pain. My point should be clear. Via
Just as Ana Steele was fooled by Christian Grey's cool, calm exterior, you may be fooled by Pure Barre's cool, uberhip atmosphere. Don't be fooled, even if there is a chandelier. This is not a workout for the faint of heart.
You may likewise be lulled by your Pure Barre instructor's soothing voice as class opens into believing that you are about to do some kind of glorified yoga or the ballet class you dropped when you were 7. She may look super-sweet and bubbly. She is not (there's a reason this bitch is super-sleek). There is a drill sergeant under those Karma leggings and the $84 ultra-soft wrap sweater. If your form is wrong she will fix it, and you will want to curse her, but you will be afraid to because there may be more punishment involved. Eyes on the floor, soldier!   
As for that $84 wrap sweater, you start to desire and will want to immediately start wearing the sleek uniform Pure Barre can provide you. Including the rhinestoned sticky socks designed to "keep the heat in your body." If you haven't already cleaned out your bank account to join, you surely will on the clothes (this is where Christian Grey actually would come in handy - he would pay for your membership AND your clothes ... and your car for that matter. All part of the contract).
When you are told to do this, you get a little nervous.
You begin to want to set anything involving these as a hard limit. And, well, that's pretty much the whole class.
And somehow, when all is said and done, you immediately want to go back for more. This, friends, we call masochism;).
Pure Barre forever;). A/J

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Best Decorated Stairs on Pinterest

Let me tell you a little secret: I am absolutely obsessed with decorated staircases. Here, for your pinspiration, are my absolute favorites. I wish I had about 10 staircases in my house so that I could decorate them all. Alas, I have only two.

The Doors Stairs?!?!?!?!? Hello. I love you.

Ombre stairs. The perfect use for the free color palette samples from Lowe's in every single homemaking magazine.

I love the simplicity of this one. May be my next project;).

If I'm being honest, this one freaks me out a little bit. Ok, a lot. What will those poppets do to me once I do? But, it is creepy cute.

These, I just love. They remind me of my mom, and beds made on the floor in front of the TV with a mountain of blankets, and popcorn. These stairs would make me happy the moment I walked in the door.  

Chalkboard stairs. And poetry. Need I say more?

I think every single person I know has pinned or facebooked these stairs at least once.

But I love these bookish stair decals most of all.

And of course I had to add a few of ours. Here's a few incarnations of my own stairwell this past year:

The latest incarnation of the stairs. I love these so much it will be very difficult to take them down. And they were so easy!! PS Stair #8 is the most important one.
The Halloween stairs, a la Martha Stewart.
The stairs ornamented for Christmas. These also were super simple to do.
Do you have any great stair projects? Share them with us!! A/J

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

His and Hers DIY Porch Pillows

DIY Mr. and Mrs. Porch Pillows
So for the last few months, I've been seeing everywhere on my Pinterest feed his and hers pillows that read Mr. and Mrs. I really wanted to recreate them for the porch, so I scouted our local Ikea for cheap pillows that I could stencil using stuff that I already had handy at home. Why shell out $40+ for two pillows when you can easily make them yourself??

Here's what I did to make my own:

The tools: a disposable bowl, duck tape, Martha Stewart high gloss fabric paint, a paintbrush (I would use a larger one, even a foam one, but this is what I had handy), and stencils (also, what I had handy from another project).  
The suspects: Two pillows, purchased from Ikea for $3.79 a piece. The colors are perfect for our porch, since we have a mix of lime green, turquoise, blue, white, and black, with pops of pink.
Align the stencils on the pillow and tape in place. I chose to use Mr. and Mrs., but you could pretty much stencil whatever you want on the suckers. I'm thinking of doing some other quotes on other pillows I have with smaller lettering. Then, holding the stencil down and doing one section at a time, apply the paint to the pillow, smoothing it out as you go for a uniform line.

After I removed the stencils, which I did right away so none of the paint would pull away from the pillow, I went back over the letters and free-handed the lines to remove any squiggles/splotches of paint that may have sneaked under the stencil. Then, you just let them dry.  
I love these chairs btw. I upcycled them with some glossy black spray paint and an old duvet cover cut up to recover the cushions; they were purchased for $9.99 a piece from the local Goodwill.
Here's what they looked like pre-paint. The cushions were so nasty, I covered them with sheets until I could do a better job reupholstering them. I love the large arms on the sides - they are perfect perches for drinks and books:).
Good luck! I hope yours turn out well if you decide to take on the project. Have a great week! A/J

Monday, May 19, 2014

10 Reasons the Movie Labyrinth Is Awesome

10. David Bowie's amazing wardrobe. Especially this coat ...
9. And his junk-hugging meggings.
8. You won't be able to stop singing "Dance, Magic Dance"...
7. The "Helping Hands." Talk about a creepfest (this video on the making of this scene, btw, is fascinating).
6. Sir Didymus reminds me of many an English professor, especially those who reallllllly wanted to live when Shakespeare was alive.

5. The Bog of Eternal Stench. Ew. Just ew.
4. Jennifer Connelly's 80s makeup and hair. I bet they used Va-voom.
3. Synthesizers. I mean, who in the hell thought that shit sounded good? Like, played a riff on a synthesizer and said, "That ... gentlemen ... is perfection." Oh, that's right, David Bowie. Since he did all the music. David, David, David. What the hell? 
2. The Escher stairs. Amazing.
1. Every single fairy-tale/children's lit reference in the film. There are a lot. Have fun finding them all!!
You should rent this movie. It's a ton of fun. And your kids will laugh at what you used to find stylish;). A/J

Monday, May 12, 2014

It's Spring (Finally!!)! Here are some of my favorite pics to prove it ...

Hi all!! It's finally spring in these parts, and I am finally, in turn, coming out of the severe depressive funk I have been in for the last month or so. Here are some of my favorite pictures of the last week that have improved my mood considerably. 

My beauty and her dandelion.
My two beauties and the pictures we gave to Nana for Mother's Day.
Spring Flowers in May Showers.

Wine. Frozen. On the porch. Oh my God, yes.

The farm table I bought for myself for Mother's Day. The top is an old door, complete the very old nailheads to prove it. This will be my office for the summer. I'm in love with it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Dos and Donts by Hayley Rose

About the Book:

 The Do's and Don'ts is a whimsical lesson book aimed at teaching young readers the difference between good and bad behavior/etiquette. In the book Zack and Chloe go from being manner monsters to well-behaved children as they provide samples of typical scenarios that not only young children encounter but can relate to. For example, Zack becomes a Manner Monster when he loses a game, kicking and pouting like a poor sport. In contract, good behavior is then modeled depicting Zack congratulating the winning team. Unlike other etiquette books for children that tell a story or just communicate positive behavior, The Do's and Don'ts compares and contrasts between good and bad behavior. Simply, yet colorfully displayed, are examples of inappropriate behavior and decisions young children may display followed by behavior and decisions that are more socially accepted. Each compare and contrast anecdote is set in the same scene so that young readers can instantly see the differences between good and poor behavior.

Buy the Book at Amazon

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About the Author:


Multi-award-winning author Hayley Rose released her first children’s book, Fifo When I Grow Up, about a six-year-old bear starting school in 2002, followed by the wildly popular geography book and #1 best-seller, Fifo 50 States, published in 2010. In 2012, Hayley was selected as one of “The Top 50 Writers You Should Be Reading” by In 2013, she branched out with a new series featuring a new set of characters, Zach and Chloe the Louis the manner monster. Her new book, The Do’s and Don’ts, was released in September 2013 and has already garnered four literary awards, including the Readers’ Favorite, USA Best Books and the prestigious Mom's Choice Awards, bringing her career total to twenty-one. The follow up book in the new series, Today I Feel Emotion, will be released in the spring of 2014.

Hayley Lives in Scottsdale, AZ, with her dog Blanche.

Visit her website at


Connect & Socialize with Hayley!



The Do’s and Don’ts Tour Page:



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Throwing a Blind (Book) Date Party

What will it be??
So, a few weeks ago I visited this really amazing book store called Open Books in Chicago (read more about it here). Anywho, they had this thing they called a "Blind (Book) Date," where, if you bought $50 worth of books, you got to take home a free book, wrapped in brown paper. And I thought, wouldn't it be fun to turn this into a party, where the people attending selected a book to gift another partygoer that they thought that person would like based on a book profile written by him/her?

Fast forward to today. I've sent out the invite. This will be my 37th birthday party. I will celebrate with my girlfriends. Here's the invite info I sent:
It's my birthday! And on June 14th, I'm celebrating with a Blind (Book) Date Party. Here's the deal: Before the party, you send me a paragraph about what kind of books you usually like - memoirs, dystopic YA novels, Chelsea Handler funny shit, chicken soup for the soul, etc. The more specific the better (also list the books you've already read in that genre, so that you don't get a repeat; and if by some chance you do, we'll have a trade-off;)). Then, I pair you up with somebody else coming to the party, give her your book description, and she selects and gifts you a book that she thinks you will like based on your description (and you'll do the same for her). Bring your gift of a book to the party wrapped up - it should be a surprise:). There will be wine. There will be food. There will be laughter. There will be "Why the hell did she buy me this book?" I am so looking forward to it. I've invited my bookish friends (+ a few who are not so bookish, but I want you here anyway;)). And I hope you can come:). J
I'll let you know how it goes. Stay tuned! Once I get the paragraphs in, I plan to shuffle them around and pass them out, based on who can come. I can't wait to decorate for this one:)). J

My Mother's Day Wish List (Oh, This one is good)

Here's what I want for Mother's Day. I don't think I'm being unreasonable. Not in the slightest;).

A Pure Barre franchise of my very own, at which I can take classes for free and from which I can select an entire Pure Barre wardrobe, complete with CinderTees and rhinestoned socks.
A two-hour massage, post Barre class, complete with reflexology. Every. Single. Day. 
A private shopping spree at Madewell, with no spending limit. Which means I would probably purchase the entire store.

Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame, is selling her house. I want it. Maybe for a summer vacation home where I can retreat June through August to write and relax.
An honest-to-goodness book deal. With a travel stipend. For exploring. And no deadline. Via
A wife. To do all the wifey things that husbands never do. Like clean the house from top to bottom. Wash all the clothes and put them away. Clean out the cars. Etc. Etc. Etc.
This bed.
One perfectly worn in, ridiculously comfortable pair of jeans.
And last but not least, this. For my kitchen. And someone to stock it. So I never have to go to the liquor store again.
That's all folks. I hope my husband gets to shopping;). A/J