Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm On That New Gym High


So after more time than I care to remember spent at a gym I was getting increasingly irritated going to, I finally jumped ship and joined a new gym.  

I generally have zero tolerance for bad customer service....if I go into a store and don't get a hello (when it's a smaller shop and I'm the only customer), I will walk out and leave....I don't care if they are having a 10 cashmere sweaters for $10 sale. I just don't want to spend a penny in a place where they don't care.



Personally, I feel it takes very little to provide the bear minimum of customer service, so it was surprising when I stayed at my old gym for so long.  The staff at the front desk always had their noses in their cell phones, texting, never looking up to acknowledge anyone coming or going. Now I realize that maybe it's a generational thing...these kids have known nothing other than texting & social media, so it's just business as usual for them I suppose.   I also started dislike going there because (probably because they were so busy texting), they'd always be out of sanitizing spray & paper towels for the machines...and it just generally felt like a germ fest in there.  



My prob was...I also have a fear of starting a new gym...so, for as disgruntled as I was at the other one, I knew where everything was, knew how things worked, knew what bike had the squeaky belt, knew what guy not to get next to on the treadmill (because he likes to run on it...sideways....while facing me...
awk-ward), and I was just comfortable to a degree.



But, after realizing I have recently been making more & more excuses for not going to the gym, I had to bite the bullet and look at other gyms.  I checked out a few that definitely weren't for me - one actually had a DJ & seemed more like a nightclub that also happened to have a few machines!



When I found the one I felt good about that had everything (and more) I was looking for, I signed up.....and I've been going every day.  



Not surprising, the staff at the old gym did the cancellation of my membership with the same enthusiasm they have for everything else there...."sign here", "initial here", "you'll be charged for another month, okay...."  --- I was actually chomping at the bit for them to ask why I was quitting....but of course they couldn't give a flip, so instead I just skipped out of the door like it was the last day of school!



I have noticed that the staff at the new gym are never on their phones, they are always saying hi/bye to the members and they're always out on the floor wiping down machines and talking to members. All little things that can make a big impression.  

I've also not done anything too embarrassing yet, like not be able to figure out a machine, trip up a step, or smoosh someones water bottle.  Although...I didn't have my ipod charged the other day, so I decided that I'd just use my iphone and put it on one of my favorite TuneIn Radio app stations.  So I've got it tuned to one of the 70's stations.....I've got my earbuds in and it's tucked into my armband holder.  I reach across to get to my water bottle and my thumb hooks on my earbuds....and the music stops....... 


....I look around and see the plug of my earbuds hanging down....I pull them out of my ears and hear.............."I wanna kiss you all over......and over again.....I wanna kiss you all over" blaring from my phone. Luckily, it was not a busy hour, but I did get a polite smile from the lady three treadmills down from me (as I fumbled around trying to get the plug back in the hole!!)....you know, one of those "Aww, bless your heart" types of smiles (or maybe she was just a big "Exile" fan!)



So I'm high on this new gym...and it's open 24 hours....so I can even head over on those nights I can't sleep!!  I'm glad I took the leap!

It's amazing how stepping back and really taking a look at what is keeping you from going to the gym, or working out in general, can be an eye opener....and taking the step forward to get back on track can be the difference between ending the year feeling crappy - and starting the year off some extra unwanted pounds - or ending on a high note!! 

Have you ever stuck with something way longer than you should have? What's your customer service pet peeve?

xoxo,
Gigi

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The "Arlo the Elephant" Series of Books Helps Kids Through New Situations + Giveaway!! US/Can Ends 12/9


As adults, heading to the dentist, getting on an airplane, and trying something new can come with a lot of stress - even if we've done it 50 times before! For a child, it's this unknown that can bring about stress, worry, and can plant a seed of fear early on that often stays with them for life if not addressed! (I can say that part with confidence as someone who needs to be prescribed a Valium to even step foot into the dentist's office.)

Kids can see just how these new experiences can turn into adventures with the help of "Arlo the Elephant" series of books, written by Karisa Lowe and Illustrated by Edmund Boey.  

These hardbound 40+ page books take on each new experience in a fun way - easily explained without coming across as babyish at all. 

For example, in "Arlo Goes to the Dentist",  the visit is explained from start (checking in at the desk) to finish (picking out a sticker)...and everything in that may happen at the visit, cavities, and more.  I liked that the author touched on things that, as adults, we wouldn't even think twice about -- like the big bright light the dentist shines down on us, but as kids, you don't know what that is!!



In "Arlo and the Airplane", we see the cute elephant preparing to go on vacation and flying for the first time.  Again, the entire process of flying is explained - from the importance of always sticking close to parents at the airport, to boarding, what will happen in flight, and landing.   As a former flight attendant, I thought it was very thorough.  Arlo is also a great example in manners, saying "Thank you!" when boarding and "Apple juice, please" when it was time for beverage service! 



If you have a child who is hesitant to try new foods (particularly fruits & veggies) "Arlo Goes to the Farmers Market" is a wonderful tool to help explain the importance of "eating the rainbow".



What I like about these books especially is a.) They are children's books, but the topics aren't talked about in a way that doesn't baby it;  b.) The books give the right amount of control to the child in the situation.  This is a great tool for parents as well who sometimes, in stressful situations, can either be very controlling or go the other way and the kids can go completely amok!  Arlo is able to help pick out the fruits at the farmers market....he's able to choose, and ask for, his juice on the airplane...and the flavor of toothpaste for his tooth cleaning; and c.) It gets kids excited about these new experiences!

Arlo is a sweet character who is easy to fall in love with and has a great imagination! These books were fun for me to read to my nephew and, while a little long for him to get through in one sitting, he liked reading them out loud to me (and Harry bunny, of course!).  There were a healthy amount of bigger words for him to learn too (he's almost 6) without being "too hard"!

The illustrations were fantastic...they really added to the story without being too busy.  My nephew's favorite character, aside from Arlo, was "Dr. White".  I hope these three books are only the start of a long line of books featuring Arlo!!

It's easy to see why these books have won and/or been nominated for  books, available from Early Ink Press, retail for $15.95 each and are also available in a set of three for $45.00.  You can even buy the set of three books that comes with a plush "Arlo" to really help make the books come alive, for $55.00. You can connect with them on Facebook to stay up to date on any new books, as well as find links to other reviews and giveaways! 

Speaking of giveaway.......




How would one of you like to win a set of three books, just like the ones I reviewed above??!! These would make a great gift or addition to your children's book collection! 

You can enter to win on the form below! Only one entry per person/email/IP please.  Winner is randomly drawn and will be contacted via email once winning entry has been verified.  Then winner will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will need to be drawn.

This giveaway is open to both US & Canada and will end at 11:59pm on December 9, 2014.

Good luck!!

xoxo,
Gigi


Arlo the Elephant - Set of 3 Children's Books - US/Can




Disclaimer:  I received a set of books at no cost in order to facilitate this review. The above review is based on my own opinion of these books. Yours may differ. My Fab Fit Forties is not responsible for prize fulfillment.  If winner resides in Canada, they are required to complete a skills test question prior to being declared the winner.  


Help BackJoy Give Back & Spread Joy This Holiday Season #GiveBackJoy


Back pain will affect 8 out of 10 Americans at one time or another.  If you are one of those 8, I don't need to tell you how utterly debilitating this pain can be and how it can impact every aspect of daily life. 

I was a tall drink of water very early on and had sprouted to 5'7" by the time I was in 5th grade, with more inches to follow.  Being a head taller than everyone else at that age made me develop a habit of slouching and that bad posture, coupled with sleeping on my stomach, ended up giving me a lot of back & neck issues.  Eventually, I learned to embrace my height and worked on improving my posture, which helped my backaches, but occasionally I will still get a reminder that I need to take care of my back - usually when I've been walking around with a heavy shoulder bag or gym bag....or on those days when I'm slumped over my desk for 12+ hours! All of those little things can add up to aches & pains. I know there are lots of people who can relate!

However!! 

BackJoy has set out to change the way the world sits, stands, moves, and sleeps -- naturally - with a line of products designed to help us all live a happier, healthier, and more enjoyable life!



You'll find products ranging from the PostureWear Elite Sportsbra and PostureWear Shirt which helps align the spine while pulling shoulders back, to the SitSmart Posture Plus which is a really cool sitting device constructed of a durable, slightly flexible material that, when sat on, helps your spine "float", taking pressure off of it. It helps relieve pain that can build in your lower back, as well as the aches in the top of your shoulders from hunching. I tried the SitSmart Posture Plus and it literally tilts your bottom up to help you achieve perfect alignment - leaving you sitting up nice & straight. This little board (which is waterproof and weatherproof) has made a huge difference in how I feel after sitting for long periods of time. It supports up to 300 pounds and is designed to be used indoors or out.



BackJoy also has a line of posture enhancing StandRight Shoes which can not only help you walk correctly, give you better posture, and stand more comfortably, but they actually look good!! I was able to try the StandRight Bliss shoes in black and found them to not only be comfortable, but they were lightweight, flexible, and improved the way I walked with its neutral footbed - which helps keep your head, hips, and feet balanced for optimal posture. 



I liked that they have removable insoles and have extra shock-absorbing material at the heel for extra support.  The StandRight Shoes are available in both men & women styles, in lace up, slip on, and sandals!



If you're looking for something to help combat stress that often seems to knot our bodies up, try the Roller Balls!! The dual ball unit fits right into the palm of your hand and, when rolled on your back, it can help relieve tightness, increase circulation, and loosen your joints.  Its design allows you to work both sides of the spine which provides a great massage!  The Roller Balls are a  great way to treat yourself after a long day or a tough workout!  When I first took them out of the packaging, there was quite a pronounced scent that I just found off-putting.  Luckily, they're washable, so that was taken care of within a couple of washings.  



Not only can you use these on your back and neck, but they feel great on the soles of your feet and also on your legs.  If you experience any sort of tension or knotting up, this product is just $12.99! 

Other products available include pillows (standard & travel), Trigger Point Massagers, and Posture Bands.

BackJoy has some great tips on how to take care of your back on their Facebook page (and I've noticed they also run giveaways and have twitter chats periodically).  You can also follow them on Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.


*Give Back Joy*

Speaking of a giveaway......Anyone who uses #GiveBackJoy hashtag and shares how they are giving back this holiday season will also be entered to win a sweet prize pack of self-care products from BackJoy!!

Not only was I happy to share BackJoy products with you in hopes they could make your life a little easier, but they are also donating $100 worth of their pain relief products to chronic pain & and rehabilitation centers - such as the Wounded Warrior Project and the UC Denver Veteran’s Affairs Medical Center - in each blogger's name who participated in this campaign - up to $5000! I love supporting veteran causes in any way I can, so it was a real pleasure to be able to be involved with #GiveBackJoy. 

If you're experiencing back pain or would like to help improve your posture, check out BackJoy and get back to feeling good!!! 

xoxo,
Gigi





Disclaimer: I received a selection of products above at no cost in order to facilitate this review and will also have a donation made in my name to a charity, such as mentioned above, as a thank you for participating in this campaign.  The above review is based on my own experience with, and opinion of, this brand & products.  Yours may differ. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Make Your Feast a Little Bit Lighter with Edible Arrangements #Sponsored





This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Edible Arrangements. 
All opinions are my own!



The good news about Thanksgiving.....all that food!!!!

The bad news about Thanksgiving......all that food!!!!

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones - whether one or two or dozens, sitting at mismatched tables & chairs that stretch into other rooms, giving thanks for our blessings, big and small, and enjoying good company & all of that delicious food!! 

I never really have candied yams any other time of the year, but when Thanksgiving rolls around, it is suddenly "my favorite dish ever!!!" and I eat it like, well....I won't see it for another year!! Then there's all of the other side dishes....not to mention the appetizers that get munched on prior to "the main event"....and desserts....so many desserts! It's very easy to go overboard!

Now I'm always a fan of everything in moderation and not depriving yourself - especially when it's on such a special day, but if you've been on a great healthy path and aren't looking to end the year with those extra holiday pounds, it's always good to be mindful of what you're eating and make healthier, yet still tasty choices.

Edible Arrangements can help you incorporate healthy foods into your holiday with their gorgeous fruit bouquets that offer fresh and tasty options that are sure to please everyone.



Think of how cute these would look on the buffet or kids table (what a fun way to get them to eat their fruit!!) - or even bring one over as a hostess gift! If you are expecting a vegetarian or vegan at your home (or you're not sure), I can tell you first hand that having options like this are very much appreciated!  An arrangement can also make a very thoughtful thank you gift.

These colorful arrangements are full of fresh juicy fruit that are not only eye catching, but actually good for you.  You can even add in a few chocolate covered pieces for a delicious treat with at twist! It's a beautiful centerpiece that you can eat!! <---can't say that about candles or flowers!

You can connect with Edible Arrangements on Facebook and Twitter




If you're looking for a healthy option or two for your Thanksgiving table, a fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangements can really help lighten things up!

xoxo,
Gigi





Disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post written on behalf of Edible Arrangements. 
All opinions are my own!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Little Beauty Giveaway - Win 6 Sephora by OPI Nail Polishes....US Only...Ends 12/7


I fell head first into a beauty haul today while I was out and about and I wanted to share some of it with you guys! It's the giving season after all!

In the spirit of giving, I am also making this a beyond easy giveaway....just one entry - a blog comment, giving me (and everyone who reads the comments) a "recommendation" ........it can be anything....a great band/music/tv show we should check out......a movie you've seen recently that you liked....a book you just couldn't put down...something you picked up from the grocery store that's a new favorite......a fabulous kitchen gadget or beauty product you've tried.....absolutely anything you want to share...

.....and that's it!

I've got more in my beauty haul goody bag that I'll be pulling out for a surprise giveaway now and then, but we'll start with these nail polishes!

Giveaway is open to US only and will end on December 7, 2014 at 11:59pm 
Good luck!

xoxo,
Gigi
Like Me On Facebook

6 Sephora by OPI Nail Polishes - US Only

Disclaimer: This giveaway is not affiliated with Sephora or OPI. My Fab Fit Forties will be responsible for prize fulfillment!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

10 Delicious (and easy!!) Mason Jar Gift Ideas!


I love getting homemade gifts - and I have a friend who, every time I see her, hands me a "jar gift"...a mason jar filled with everything I need to make some yummy concoction - whether it's soup, bread, or a cool hot cocoa blend. She prints out & attaches cute labels, as well as instructions. Often there is a decorated top and an "extra" attached to the jar as well....cookie cutter, wooden spoon,  the occasional picture of John Stamos.....  

It's always very thoughtful of her.....and fun for me because I love looking at John Stamos making them!

With the holidays around the corner, I thought I'd do a gift-in-a-jar round-up in case you're looking for something to add to a fun gift basket, make in bulk for lots of people - people in the office, teacher gifts, etc., or to bring as a hostess gift to a holiday gathering! I think it might also be really cute to have a basket of these ready to hand out to guests as they leave a holiday get-together! 

The possibilities are endless, but one thing's for sure ---- they're easy to do and won't cost an arm & a leg, which is especially important around the holidays when it can seem your gift list gets longer, but your paycheck stays the same!

As with all my round-ups, you can find the recipes and how to details on the link under the pictures and, if you'd like to pin the photo/idea, please head over to the original source so they get any pin credit (it's only fair....I'm just the messenger, they're the creator!!!)

Let's get a jarrin', shall we? (is that even a thing?)


(We'll see, Regina George.....we'll....see.)

Moving right along....

Recipe on: Cul-de-sac Cool
(lots of recipes there!!)

Recipe on: Skip to my Lou

Recipe on: The Frugal Girls

Recipe on:  Tasty Kitchen

Recipe on: The Yummy Life

Recipe on:  Back to Her Roots

Recipe on: Yummy Mummy Kitchen

Recipe on:  Clean & Scentsible

Recipe on:  Weelicious

Recipe on:  Bebe a la Mode Designs

So what do you think of these? Easy, tasty, thoughtful, affordable, right? Which one would you like to give....or get??!! 

Happy weekend everybody!!!

xoxo,
Gigi


Friday, November 21, 2014

Three Holiday Drink Recipes That Will Dazzle Your Guests!


If you're one of the many who will be hosting a holiday get-together this year, you may be thinking of having a couple of drink options available for the adults that go beyond beer, wine, and soda.  If you're looking for a "signature" cocktail - or mocktail - that will leave your guests in awe, I've got just the three you might want to consider. 

The first one is a spectacular looking Spiced Cranberry Margarita, featuring Bare Organic Mixers, made with fresh organic juices and agave nectar. Low in calories & light in taste, they mix well with most any spirit, but can also be enjoyed on their own!





Spiced Cranberry Margarita
Serves 4

Ingredients

For Margaritas
  • ¼ c Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup
  • ¾ c Bare Mixer's Pomegranate Cranberry Cosmo
  • ¼ c Bare Mixer's Margarita
  • ¾ c Silver Tequila
  • ½ c Patron Citronage or Grand Marnier
  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Sugared Cranberries
  • Green sugar for rimming glasses
For Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup
  • 3/4 c water
  • 2/3 c agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp whole allspice
  • 2 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • One 2" fresh nob of ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 2 c fresh cranberries, rinsed


Directions


For Simple Syrup
Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and stir over low heat until combined. Raise heat and simmer the mixture for about 5-6 minutes or until the cranberries start to split. Once most have split, remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid. You'll want to let this sit for about 2 hours for the flavors to infuse. After the two hours, strain the mixture into a jar using a mesh strainer, pressing the mixture against the strainer to extract all of the flavor. Keep in a resealable container and chill completely until you're ready to use!

For Margaritas
Dip the rim of the glasses in a shallow bowl of the simple syrup and then immediately into a shallow bowl of green dyed sugar. Let dry completely. Once dry fill the glasses with ice. In a cocktail shaker with ice add 4 Tbsp of the spiced cranberry simple syrup, the tequila, orange liqueur, Bare Mixer's Pomegranate Cranberry Cosmo & Bare Mixer's Margarita. Cover & shake well - then strain into the 4 glasses. Taste and you might want to add more simple syrup if desired. Garnish with cinnamon sticks & sugared cranberry skewers.
Yum Yum!!!

**********


The next cocktail I want to feature is the pretty-in-pink Candy Cane Cooler, courtesy of NoMa Social restaurant - located just north of Manhattan...aka NoMa!  How pretty is this?!




Candy Cane Cooler
Serves 1


Ingredients
  • 1 tbs crushed soft peppermint candy
  • 1½ fl oz vodka
  • splash of white creme de menthe
  • ¼ fl oz brandy
  • ½ fl oz half-and-half
  • Crushed ice
  • Peppermint stick for garnish
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Directions

Combine the vodka and crushed peppermint.  Stir to dissolve.  Add the remaining ingredients, stir and garnish. 

By the way, if you're in the New Rochelle area, make sure to stop by NoMa Social between 4-8pm and take advantage of their fabulous 4x4 deal during the winter season where you can choose any 4 different wines, cocktails, beers and tapas for only 4 dollars each!

*********

Last, but not least....from my favorite Judge on "Top Chef"....Gail Simmons is sharing with us an elevated iced-tea recipe that features Pure Leaf iced tea!! This Pomegranate Sparkler is the perfect choice for anyone who wants a fancy adult drink without the alcohol!


Lemon-Ginger Tea Pomegranate Sparkler
By Gail Simmons
Serves 2

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup Pure Leaf Iced Tea with Lemon
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • Cold club soda
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, for garnish
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Directions

In a saucepan, combine the ginger and Pure Leaf Iced Tea with Lemon and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to steep, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool in an airtight container in the fridge.
Fill two highball glasses with ice. Pour 1/2 cup ginger-infused tea, then 1/4 cup pomegranate juice into each glass. Top each with club soda, garnish with a tablespoon of pomegranate seeds and a cinnamon stick to stir.
For alcoholic version, add 2 ounces gin or bourbon before adding tea.

**********
Of course, it's always important to drink responsibly.  If you plan on serving alcohol, make sure everyone is of legal age to do so - perhaps consider taking everyone's keys at the door, have the number of a local cab handy, or designated driver, or have a guest bedroom (or couch) ready to go just in case someone enjoys too much merriment! 


Which drink above sounds best to you? Do you have any special drinks you serve around the holidays??

xoxo,

Gigi