Archive for the ‘color’ Category

Potential Cash Saver – Screw the Gym

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

I remember how easy it was in college to stay in shape.  As a member of the varsity women’s fencing team, I got at least three hours of exercise four times a week, plus all day fencing meets on weekends.  It was a no brainer – I had fun and never had to worry about things like calories, carbs, or scales.  Ah, the folly of youth.

A year ago I signed on to a trial gym membership.  I dutifully went almost every day, loved it, and then forked over a substantial sum to become a member.  I can count on my fingers the number of times I went back.  Because just like everyone else, I too am dumb.

I can’t afford a gym membership now, and I’ve proven that I wouldn’t use it like I should, anyway.  Seeing that I don’t know a bench press from a french press, I wasn’t sure what to do.  Jog?  Eh, I live in the city.  Bike?  Can’t – my bike was stolen.  Lift weights?  Sure, if I knew what to do with them.

Well, I do have a Wii.

Yes, a Wii is not the cheapest device out there.  It’s an investment, in a sense.  I decided to put it to work.  For around $50.00, I bought the EA Sports Active Personal Trainer kit.  Along with the workout game for the Wii console, the kit was complete with leg strap for the Wii nunchuck and resistance band for muscle training.

photo credit:

photo credit:

I started off with the 30 Day Challenge (I’m in week 2 now) and I was very pleasantly surprised.  The program is structured by two days of working out and one rest, repeat ad nauseum.  Per average workout, expect to run in place, kick box, lunge, and resistance train.  You’re guided along the way by a chirpy virtual personal trainer who is encouraging but is also quick to correct your form (with some help from the sensors in the Wii controller, which you hold in your hand, and the nunchuck, which is strapped to your right leg).  My trainer may get on my nerves, but I couldn’t do the workout with out some guidance.

You can select your level of impact and difficulty, and there are customized sessions beyond the aforementioned 30 Day Challenge (haven’t tried those yet).  My plan is to start slowly; I’m beginning the 30 Day Challenge on easy, and when that’s done I’ll do it again on medium and then again on hard.  I’ll post updates as I go along.

So far, I think this program has a lot of promise.  While it’s too early to really see much in terms of results, my aching arms, legs and back are testament to the fact that something positive is going on.  Really, I’m in pain.  And I can really feel the workouts.  When I’m done with a 25 minute session I’m left sweatier than I ever was at the gym, and I’m definitely sleeping more soundly at night.  In short, I think I’m on to something.

Does this completely replace the gym?  It’s too early to tell.  I can say this, though – I’ve used my EA Active Thingie more than I went to the gym when I was a member.  There’s absolutely no excuse for me to eschew working out when I can do it in the middle of my living room with bed hair.  I can even put the Pixies on my stereo and have Apply Yourself‘s mascot Willow cheer me on with extreme disinterest.  The point is, I’m now active, when I was happy to watch Buffy reruns when I should have been on the treadmill.

Fifty bucks is roughly twenty percent of what I paid for a year of gym membership, and I got nothing out of it.  With this kit, I’m more aware of my body, how I move, and I’ve even been inspired to cut meat out of my diet (I discovered that I actually really love tofu).  I’m healthier, I think.

To me, EA Sports Active is better than a gym, because I can afford it.  The initial investment of the Wii is steep, I know, but it’s much easier on the wallet than forking over a ton of cash to join the ranks of gym rats.  This is really something you can do at home, on your own, and in the long run, it’s a very economical choice.  It’s innovative enough that I felt it deserved a place on this blog.  If you can stick with it, it very well could be the perfect DIY home based workout.


An Introduction to Color, Sans Stick up the Butt (Don’t Worry, We’ll Get Technical Later)

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

You’ve been there before.  It’s time for a change, and you’re poised to paint your parlor with that perfect pair of pinks.  Or purples.  Or reds.  You find yourself in Home Depot, surrounded by paint samples, and well, what do you do?  You’d be amazed how overwhelming it can be.

photo credit:

photo credit:

When I started learning about design, color was a topic that surfaced frequently.  (Actually, my color education began in college painting classes, but that stuff is probably totally not useful here.)  Color is, to me, the apéritif of daily life – it gets our juices flowing, sets a mood, and can intoxicate better than a carefully hidden flask of Jameson.

And I think people take it way too seriously.  I mean it.

Research color on Google, and you’ll find a veritable tangled mess of information.  If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re looking for the straight and skinny.  You don’t need half the stuff.

There are some laws that remain somewhat true, and could influence your use of color around the house.  Red works great in kitchens, as it’s warm and supposedly stimulates the appetite (and passion – have some strawberries on hand!).  Conversely, blue represses hunger (besides blueberries, you don’t find a lot of blue foods in nature and spoiled foods are often blue, purple or black) and supposedly increases productivity.  According to some studies that I cannot verify, prospective employees who wear blue to interviews are viewed as potentially more loyal than the average interviewee.  Body builders have been shown to lift heavier weights in a blue room, as opposed to other colors.  Blue can be soothing, and is often recommended for both offices and bedrooms.

I’m cool with some of it (I do feel a correctly placed red can really get the juices flowing in all sorts of ways), but I really think a lot of this is crap.  You can’t place too much faith in a study if you don’t know how the study was constructed, who participated, the size of the participant pool, etc., etc., and etc.  I recommend trusting your gut feeling when you see a hue that might suit you.

Me?  I painted my bedroom a rich, bright, vibrant orange, which is a no-no in the field of design.  Orange inspires unrest and is considered too stimulating to occupy a bedroom wall.    My bedroom remains my cozy, wonderful, warm space, and I guarantee that any sleepless nights can be wholly blamed on my tastes for strong teas.  I feel better in orange. Oh, and I did paint an old bedroom blue, and I felt sluggish and bored when I should have been inspired.

You’ll find that certain colors speak to you, sing to you, and whisper sinful things to you.  Go with it.  It’s your home, right?  It’s not like you’re bound for a feature in Better Homes and Gardens, right?  Claim your territory and make your home uniquely YOU.  So if you think that your bedroom needs to rock out with an obnoxious yellow, go for it.  You want a purple kitchen?  Do it.  A blue dining room (gasp)?  Go a-freaking-head.

Yes, there are still a few things to keep in mind.


If it were up to me, I’d paint my bathroom marine blue and red-violet.  But well…

Think about it this way.  You’re most likely to comb your hair and apply makeup in the bathroom.  Your bathroom is the place where you’re going to use the mirror the most.  Color works as a function of light, and you want the purest light you can get.  Do you really want to apply your lipstick in a blue tinted room, only to have daylight morph that neutral shade into coral?  No.  You don’t want to look like Tammy Faye.  Keep your bathroom white, Nemo.  And while you’re at it, stick with waterproof mascara.


The outside of your house is what you present to the world.  The judgemental, HOA-espousing world.  Keep color here neutral or dusty.  By dusty, I mean take that green and add some slate to achieve a calmer tone.  You don’t live outside your house, anyway.


Childhood is an amazing, awesome time.  Let your little one pick the color of his or her room and suck it up if you hate it.  You won’t be allowed in there, anyway.  Your kids will have great memories of creating his or her own space.

I also highly recommend using chalkboard paint on some part of your child’s room.  You can find it almost anywhere, and it’s pretty much a chalkboard you can slather on a wall.  Kids love to get creative, especially on a formerly forbidden surface, like walls.

And don’t quote me, but what I’ve seen suggests that a white board (as in dry erase markers) paint may well find its way to market in the next decade.

Tight Spaces

Smaller rooms, especially tiny living rooms require lighter paint colors to open them up.  A dark shade will make it feel like a cave.  A lighter green looks fabulous in these places, and if you let light in, you’ll be amazed at the difference.  But of course, I also advise following your gut, so if you feel better in a brown space, enjoy it.

Complementary Colors

You want your foyer one shade, and you think the hallway stemming off it would look great in a coordinating hue.  How do you choose?  This is the easiest part, I swear.

Most paint companies manufacture color cards that feature several colors of paint, all stemming from the same color (per card, I mean).  The difference you see involves changes in intensity and shade.  Find a color you like, and pick others from the same card – it will coordinate.  Choose a paint company and see what tools they offer to aid in selecting additional shades.  Most likely you’ll find something useful.

If you can’t find a color that speaks to you, bring in an object that you love.  Most paint companies can match the shade.  They have wonderful doodads for it.  Don’t be afraid to purchase cheap sample bottles to compare paints on a wall.

Remember the Golden Rule

So many people forget this one truth, and it’s usually what trips them up.  Learn this.  Never forget it, and you will never stress about color again:

You can change any color in a matter of hours.  Nothing is permanent.

You’d be surprised how many people, when confronting a mistake, think it’s the end of the world.  Nope.  That chartreuse shade of suck on the dining room wall can easily be corrected with some primer and a gallon of paint.  Let the Golden Rule offer you some flexibility and room to experiment.  It may take days and a ton of primer, but you’ll eventually stumble on the one color that makes you fall in love.

Most importantly, have fun!

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