Passionately Pursuing the Good Life

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Life List #22 - Shuffle-Hop-Step!

Every December, when "White Christmas" starts making its rounds on cable, regardless of what I'm doing I stop in awe of Vera Ellen and her amazing dance skills (and legs), and I always get the urge to dust off my tap shoes and start taking classes. And this year...I did it!

There was, of course, the initial trepidation and anxiety accompanied by trying something new. This was heightened by a disastrous previous attempt at taking a dance class several years ago in which, despite calling ahead to confirm that a beginner could participate, I wound up spending most of the class standing awkwardly at the back of the room because I simply couldn't keep up.

This time around, however, it was nothin' but good! I found a great dance studio called Edge in Hollywood that offers an impressive amount of dance classes for beginning adults. I got myself up early on a Saturday, dusted off the tap shoes I've kept since college, and jumped right in. The verdict? I had a blast! And I've been back three times.

While I don't have visions of "making it" to Broadway, and I probably won't ever be able to do that thing Vera Ellen does where she's tapping but it looks like her foot isn't moving (how does she DO that???), I think I may have discovered a new outlet for fun and creativity. Which is really the whole point of Jen's Mighty Life list.

Edge Performing Arts Center
1020 Cole Avenue, 4th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 962-7733

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Book Review: French Women Don't Get Fat by Mirelle Guilano

I know, I know. For the past few years since its publication, I too regularly rolled my eyes at the title. How useful can this be? Isn't the core of maintaining a healthy weight all about balance? And isn't every single new book published on the subject just another way of explaining balance?

Still...I was curious. And my curiosity was enhanced by a recent budding interest and fascination of all things French. A curiosity which I primarily blame this absurdly beautiful woman:

I mean, come on. There's just something about French women. When I see a photo like this of Audrey Tautou, I want to spill my life story to her over a luxurious and lengthy lunch at a bistro or cafe. When I see a photo of most Hollywood actresses, I want to give them a donut. Maybe two. French women may be thin, but not overly so. And there is a vibrancy to them which is often lacking in their American counterparts.

So, I picked up the book. Did I learn anything life shattering? No. But it was a fairly entertaining and moderately inspiring read. Here are a few highlights that I took away:

  • Eat produce that's in season, but also seek ways, rituals, and traditions that allow you to relish in how good fruits and vegetables are at the peak of their season. Connecting with your food starts by finding ways to truly get the maximum enjoyment from it.

  • Think outside the gym. French women don't (or rarely) slave away on heavy machinery at private gyms. They generally find the idea preposterous (time taken to get there, change clothing, wait for a machine...AND you have to pay for it!). Guilano observes that Americans tend to be either "sitting or spinning," and suggests we take a more French approach by finding ways to be active all day. And she swears by taking the stairs.

  • Drink water. Lots of it. This is a special challenge for me, as my favorite form of liquid comes from either coffee or wine. The book offers some helpful suggestions to making water a little more tolerable.

  • Eat, enjoy, and savor real food! Again, nothing shocking, but a simple reminder that just because something is packaged as "healthy" (hello, 100 calorie snack packs) doesn't mean they are good for you. French women don't eat a lot of processed foods.

  • No foods are forbidden. Forbidding food is very un-French. Eat the foods you love, take time to savor them, and make allowances in the meals that follow.

So there you have it. Now go get yourself a baguette!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Discovering L.A. - Tom Bergins (aka My New Favorite Bar)

At the risk of pulling out the uber-cliche Cheers comparison (especially considering the Irish factor), measuring the worth of a bar can often be assessed by how likely you can envision your name being shouted out a-la-"NORM!!" style. If I lived closer to Tom Bergin's Tavern (my liver and waistband thank me), I could totally see "JEN!!!" being bellowed out by my friendly bartender and fellow patrons.

This Tavern is soooooo comfortable. From the extra large stools built for two to the no-attitude service, I would happily recommend this place for group or solo drinking/dining. Tom Bergins is officially one of my top favorite LA bars.

Or maybe it's just the one-quarter Irish in me talking.

Tom Bergin's Tavern

840 S. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 936-7151