learn something new every day:


I love love love the new Beauty and the Beast movie. One of the best parts, of course, is the Beast’s library, so I wrote “Belle Would Be Enchanted by These 10 Lovely Libraries in Hotels” for USA Today 10Best.

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my interview with rumer willis

Rumer Willis and Val

The new season of Dancing With the Stars doesn’t start for another couple of  months and, I don’t know about you, but I need a fix so I’m posting my phone interview with Rumer Willis, who won Season 20 with cutie pie Val Chmerkovskiy.  [Read more…]

emma slater, “dancing with the stars” and me by jillian walsh

Emma Slater with fan Jillian

One of the best parts of Dancing With the Stars Live! was seeing the pure joy on so many fans’ faces as they got to finally see their favorite dancers in person.

One of those fans was Jillian Walsh, a sweet and bubbly 13-year-old from San Diego, who Sara and I talked to at the Meet and Greet, where she was hoping to present a gift to pro Emma Slater. We felt terrible when security told her she wouldn’t be able to give it to her, and were thrilled when we saw her quietly pass it to Emma on stage during the show.

“It wasn’t really the ideal time,” Jillian admits, “but I saw it as my last chance.”

I totally admire a girl with such passion and determination, and wanted to see what it was about Emma that made her such a role model for Jillian. Here’s what she had to say: [Read more…]

dancing with the stars live!

Dancing with the Stars group

Watching Dancing With the Stars has been my guilty pleasure for years.

I never thought I’d be interested in anything having to do with ballroom dancing but, like millions of viewers, I find the show irresistible. Plus, I’m enamored with Val Chmerkovskiy. [Read more…]

Resolution #47: Get Out of the Damn Chair!

I spend most of the day sitting. I sit in my kitchen chair, writing, or I sit on the couch or in theaters, watching movies and DVDs to review for NickJr.com.

All of this sitting — while often, admittedly, comfortable — has not done any good for my backside which seems to be expanding to fit whatever it’s placed in, or any other part of me, which is no longer quite as willing to move into other positions.

I recognize that this is bad. Especially now that I’m over 50. I do play tennis almost every morning but I play doubles and – let’s be honest – I do not run like one of the Williams sisters. I really don’t even run like one of the ball girls.

So my resolution is to get out of the damn chair and move my body. When I lived in Manhattan, this was easy. I walked miles without realizing how far I had gone because there was so much to see and so much window shopping to do. In Southern California, though, walking is frowned upon. In fact, when we first moved here, I was shocked when my friend asked me – earnestly – if I wanted her to drive me to my car on the other side of the shopping center! I’m sorry but I find it really boring to walk around the suburbs – every tract home looks the same and there is nothing to distract me from the tedium of endlessly putting one foot in front of the other.

I do have a medieval torture, um, I mean elliptical machine in my garage which we used as a clothes rack/storage space for many years. When Michael accidentally discovered its true identity, he was ecstatic and immediately started a daily program. I was impressed – but apparently uninspired. He goes on for an hour every single day, happily listening to his iPod, singing and getting buff. I go on for ten minutes every couple of weeks, looking at the clock every three seconds, sighing loudly and disgustedly, and celebrating my achievement with my friends Ben & Jerry.

Luckily, I have recently received a few things in the mail that just may turn things around:

JumpSnap, the ropeless jump rope, is Dr. Oz’s favorite piece of equipment and it just may be mine, too. It’s challenging and makes me sweat but, most importantly for the long-term, it’s fun. Jumping rope is a great aerobic activity and I love the fact that I can’t trip over the rope with this. It’s empowering and easy to do during writing breaks. Plus, I burn twice as many calories with the JumpSnap than on the stupid elliptical machine so my ten minute workout is really like a twenty minute one!

I’m in the middle of reading From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction, and am totally motivated by author Carole Carson’s transformation from a size 18 down to a size 6. After seeing that it could actually be done – at the age of 60, yet! – and experiencing a renewed energy and new outlook on life, Carole went on to help the citizens of Nevada County lose a whopping 8000 pounds in two months. This is an uplifting story of what is possible, and I’m taking notes and getting ready to start my own Meltdown (that is Meltdown with a capital M, which is not to be confused with meltdown with a little m, which I had while trying on bathing suits for our trip to Australia). If you want to join me, let me know!

Claire Dederer’s Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses is also inspiring me right now. I’ve wanted to start yoga forever (taking yoga is the only way I will ever be able to rationalize shopping at Lululemon) but I live in the yoga capital of the country and am intimidated by the fact that everyone in every class seems to be able to stand on their head or balance on one toe for hours while I am still trying to force one leg to rest on my thigh and praying the other leg will support me. Claire’s book – and attitude – is so real, funny and easy to relate to, and is giving me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone and onto a yoga mat.

After watching the Special Edition of Strictly Ballroom, the irresistible, must-see movie that pretty much sparked Dancing with the Stars – my guilty pleasure, and one that I still can’t believe I am so addicted to – I have a strange urge to learn to jive, quickstep and turn my body into a dancer’s. I’m going to try the routines on the Dancing with the Stars Dance Off the Pounds and Dance Body Tone DVDs – they’re 15 minutes apiece, which is the perfect writing break workout for me – although I don’t think I’ll be looking like Kym or Lacey any time soon! I may try to intersperse those routines with the ones on The Biggest Loser DVDs. I don’t like to be yelled at while I work out but there’s no question that Bob and Jillian’s methods work.

If all else fails, I will keep playing Shawn Johnson Gymnastics on my Wii. I really enjoy Wii Fit but like to change it up, and this game gives me a chance to train like a Gold Medalist. When I use it with the Wii Balance Board, my muscles get to really feel what it’s like to do floor exercise, vault, balance beam and unparallel bars. And I get to feel like a champion.

This post originally appeared on my former blog, StyleSubstanceSoul.