Friday, November 29, 2013

The Black Friday sales

Good morning all you early birds and happy Black Friday. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving yesterday. For us in this house, our Thanksgiving has been postponed until Dec. 7 due to our oldest son being sick with a bug. We were going to host our family, you may remember my post about that, and we had to tell them all not to come. Disappointing certainly, but all my baking is currently chilling in our big freezer and I can pull it back out next week. you're like me, you got up early this morning after staying up late last night. Or maybe you're one of those extra-hearty souls who never went to bed at all! I was up until about 12:30am last night. Rumor all week long was that Zumba was going to be doing a Black Friday sale. Then, yesterday morning, I get a nifty little "Happy Thanksgiving" email from Zumba which included an ad for their sale. Yay! The rumors were true! Hooray! Of course, rumor also had it that Zumba's Black Friday sales have typically caused massive slow-downs, even crashes, on their site due to the increased traffic. Basically, the advice was: If at first you can check out, try try again! I already had an idea of what I wanted and I was in and out with my two things by 12:08. Though it did take me three tries to get one of the items into the cart, so the scuttlebutt was right about the traffic issues. So why was I up until 12:30am if I was done with the sale by 12:08? Because I monitoring my washing machine. I wanted to make sure our oldest son's extra sheets and PJ's got into the dryer in case they were needed in the middle of the night (they about 3am). Oh the joys of a sick child. Anyways, what were my two things?

1) The purple wrap jacket:
The El Fab Futuro Jacket in Cut N' Paste Purple
Remember this little beauty? I gave it some love in one of my previous posts. It's from the new Gold Collection. I got it for $39.00 (originally $49.00).

2) An instructor tank top:
The Instructing And Beyond Racerback in Zumba Green
I thought I was going to buy the black one (that I mentioned in my post), also from the Gold Collection, but then I saw this. This wasn't up on the site a day ago. I guess for Black Friday, Zumba puts up merchandise they've previously taken out of the shop. This tank top was $6.99 (originally $20.00), instead of $16.00 (originally $20.00) for the black one I was looking at initially. This thing was a steal! So I am satisfied. I'm also out of gift card money. At least for now, Christmas is coming...

Yesterday afternoon, I went out to my local Meijer to buy the big Thursday newspaper with all the Black Friday ads. The kindly woman greeting people in the doorway told me that they had sold out of them hours and hours earlier. Sigh. She politely suggested that I check at the Walgreen's down the road and, as it turned out, they still had tons and tons. Go figure. So I spent part of the afternoon perusing to see if there was anything worth getting up early for. I don't go out every year. I have see something that makes the trip worthwhile. But this year I did, at Toys R Us and Kohl's.

Stop 1 - Toys R Us:
6 Case LEGO Workstation
Mega Bloks 80-Piece Big Building Bag Classic

We've got a couple of "builder-boys" in our house so these are going to make a couple of great Christmas presents. The workstation is a bonus for the Zumbamommy as it will keep the boy's Lego's better organized.

Stop 2 - Kohl's:
Bry happened to notice a couple of good deals on some PJ bottoms in the Kohl's ad. The microfleece pants were $4.99 (regularly $24.00) and the flannel pants were $9.99 (regularly $24.00). At those prices, I got him a couple pairs of each!

Stop 3 - Teavana (in the mall):
Not exactly a Black Friday destination, I was just in the neighborhood. I'm a huge tea drinker and this is where I buy my Jasmine Dragon green tea. They -were- running a sale today on their holiday blends (50% off), but since I have to be in just the right mood for one of the "specialteas", I didn't think that was worth it. I have some Spiced Apple Cider roobois already, one holiday blend is enough.

So, that was my Black Friday adventure. It was fun today, and it will be fun again in a little less than a month from now when our boys are opening their building sets on Christmas day.

Best advice: From my experience, and this is only my fourth Black Friday so I'm not exactly a veteran here, pre-planning is utterly essential.
*  Decide exactly what you want ahead of time and bring the ad with you so that you can show the workers the picture when you get there.
*  If you're making multiple stops, try to map out a route if possible. Some deals are more "time-sensitive" than others, so you'll want to make those first priority.
*  Have a Plan B in place in case you get there too late, these things happen sometimes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The time for thanks
Alright...more like: Happy almost-Thanksgiving! I've got slightly over a week until the holiday is upon me so this will be my last post for a little while; until after Black Friday I think. I'm going to use the time to get the house ready. Just to be clear, I'm celebrating American Thanksgiving, since I know certain Canadians who are already starting to decorate for Christmas given that their Thanksgiving was last month... Last year was my first opportunity to act as a hostess for family gatherings; my in-laws came for both Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve last year. Things went well last year, but the first experience is always a learning experience. For example, last Thanksgiving I bought a gluten-free pie crust (Bry's stepmom, Fran, is gluten-free) from the health food store for the apple pie that I was going to make only to find out, on the day of, that it had eggs in it. Eggs are not vegan and I felt like a dope. That will teach me not to read labels much more closely. But Fran came to the rescue, she had some spelt flour out in their car and made one. This year, I'm just going to plan on making a pie crust from the get-go. Given that we're a vegan family (or vegetarian in the case of some of my in-laws) Thanksgiving looks a little different in our house. The basics are the same, they just don't contain any animal-based ingredients.
* a protein main dish with sage gravy,
Field Roast stuffed celebration roast
* vegetable side dishes (i.e. potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans etc.),
I'm not responsible for cooking any of the vegetables or the roast. I just bake!
 * rolls,
Vegan cheddar and herb biscuits
* desserts,
Copycat Vitamuffins brownies
Healthy(ish) pumpkin pie
It so happens that it's my father-in-law's birthday as well, so the pumpkin pie is doubling as a birthday treat (by his request). I also found a recipe for whipped cream made with coconut milk. Vegan whipped cream in a spray can does in fact exist (soy based if I remember right...). Our family bought it a few years back, one Thanksgiving, but it wouldn't come out of the can. Well, not much of it... What did come out tasted pretty good, but not good enough to be worth that hassle. So I am just going to make some because frankly, that's easier!
The turkeys should be thankful for the number of tasty vegan options available these days!
A lot of people do a "30 days of thankfulness" thing on their Facebook pages this time of year. I have not been one one of those in the past, and I'm not one this year either, but I really do have a lot to be thankful for. I'm not going bore you with 30 things, but I figured I list the top five.

1) Bry and our boys
2) Our extended families
3) My very good friends
4) Good health
5) Zumba downside to Zumba being on Wednesday nights? No Zumba the week of Thanksgiving. Aaw. Class is held in a school cafeteria and the schools are taking the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (as well as the Friday after) off. No open school = no Zumba class. I haven't decided what I want to do about that yet...but it's possible that I'll pay Rae's Monday night class a visit...

In past years, Zumba has done a Black Friday sale on Zumba gear. You can't see me right now, but if you could, you'd see my hands rubbing together in anticipation. I might even be doing an "Exxxcelllent..." ala Mr. Burns...

Best advice: Have a safe and happy holiday. If you already celebrated Thanksgiving (Canucks...), or if you don't celebrate it at all, have a safe and happy week.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Gold Collection - Part 4: Stuff for the fitness fellas
So, in spite of the creator of Zumba being male, the the number of lady instructors and students far outnumber the gentlemen. I suspect that this is the reason the Zumbawear menswear collections have tended to be somewhat...blah. From what I've read, the Zumba guys have long since hoped for:
1) a variety of styles
2) some bright colors
3) well-fitting sizes
4) enough inventory (just in case the women decide to buy some of it)

Obviously I can't speak to sizes or inventory, since I neither own any of the menswear, nor do I work for Zumba. But I can look at the picture above and see that there are several different types of tops and pants with some bright colors. Menswear collections in recent history have not been this extensive. If the ladies got three different styles of long pants, the men got one style; same with the shirts. As far as colors go, up until now, it's been a lot of black, grey, and dark grey with small accents of bright blue or bright green.
The Secret Admirer Warm-up Tee in "Sew Black"
Here are some examples of note from the previous collection (released a month and a half or so ago...): a shirt and a pair of pants. I'll start with the shirt. This shirt was exciting because the logo was in blue. Men finally had a bright color. Of course, the actual -amount- of color is somewhat minimal when you compare it to the women's long-sleeved shirt from the same collection. But, this was still an improvement - colorwise. Stylewise, it's long-sleeved! Great for being a warm-up shirt, but then what? The sleeveless tops in the same collection were plain white with a blue logo or plain grey with a green logo. White? Grey? Meh.
Mo'Fun French Terry Pants in "Have A Blast Blue"
Okay, so these pants... In the picture on the left, they are modeled by a man but they are actually a unisex item. Some of the lady models have these on as well. These have a tapered leg, which means it gets skinnier down towards the ankle, and one issue with that is that plenty of guys don't have skinny legs! After reading a man's opinion of these pants (he didn't like them...), I checked Zumba's online shop to look at them again and noticed that three reviewers gave them 5/5 stars. Upon closer inspection, all three reviewers were women. So, now you have an idea of what the Zumba guys have had to live with. I really had no idea myself until I dug into it a bit since I'm a lady and I live happily in a world of women's neon Zumbawear. As it turns out, most of the men buy their athletic wear at sporting goods shops or department stores. In the course of reading about menswear, I did come across one website recommended by a Zumba guy called; they sell some interesting pants and I'll admit to being tempted by the pink camo pair. Because that's just what the Zumbamommy needs right? Another pair of pants...heh. I so totally do! No, no...the holidays are nearly upon us...patience...

Alrighty then, on to the current collection! The fellas got tops, bottoms (pants and shorts), and outerwear (hoodies). That's pretty good for a Zumba menswear collection, but remember, I did -three- posts on the stuff the ladies got because doing all of that at once would have made for too long of a post.

* Tops ---
The Awesome-tron V-neck Tee in "Thunderin' Grey" and in "Sew Black". I think it's interesting that while the t-shirt for the men has that same geometric detail, it's in a complimentary color as opposed to gold like the ladies' shirts. Which brings up a good question: This is the Gold where is the gold for men?

The Funk Phenomenon Crew Neck Tee in "Sew Black" and in "Love Me Lime". It is a solid color on the front while the back is color-blocked and has the word Zumba outlined on it. I like the color combinations of black/blue and lime/orange. Hopefully the men do too, the lime/orange is very bright. The pop of color at the neckline gives the shirt a layered look (it's not really layered...). What's nice about this is that it's a bright colored shirt that is -also- short sleeved.

The Totally Spaced Loose Tank in "Sew Black" and in "Dark N Dirty Slate".  These two look to me like sleeveless versions of the v-neck shirt. Same color combinations and the word Zumba is written on the front in almost the same place. They feel a little plain to me. If I were a guy, one that had been looking forward to some brightly colored shirts, I might feel disappointed that there wasn't at least one brightly colored tank top. But that's just me speculating... So, three styles of tops is pretty good. Yep, were moving on to bottoms already. I told you I could do the menswear all together...

*Pants/Shorts --- Pull It Together Pants are very very similar to the terry pants from the previous collection (shown above); they're a poly-cotton blend with a drawstring waist. The leg on these is also tapered. What's different from the other pair is the bright stripe and accents, as well as the bright Zumba logo. These make the pants a bit more colorful and coordinates them with the tops. I personally wouldn't want a tapered leg and, as I mentioned above, at least one fella out there doesn't either. I love my wide-legged cargoes and can't imagine wearing a skinny anything to class...which brings up another good question: What happened to the men's cargo pants? There haven't been any in a very long time and I'm not sure why that is exactly. If any Zumba guys out there happen to read this, by all means, chime in with your thoughts and comments! Well, that's it for pants, all two pairs of them.
The Journey Into Space Shorts come in "Sew Black" and "Go For Green". I actually really like these (for menswear...), probably because they look like short cargoes sans ribbons; there are ladies pants (cargoes or cargo capris) in both of these colors. The shorts are 100% nylon, so I imagine that the feel of the fabric is similar to the fabric cargoes are made out of too. Each pair has the word Zumba written on the leg in the opposite color.

These are the Funk Phenomenon Jersey Jammers. They are color-blocked like the Funk Phenomenon Tee and designed to coordinate. Like the Pull It Together Pants, these are a poly-cotton blend with an elastic waistband and drawstring. I like the colors and the styling, to me, seems masculine with the lines. Both styles of shorts look comfortable, so if I were going to buy menswear (never gonna happen...) I might look at the shorts because of this. Of course, I'm 5'3" so they wouldn't be shorts on me, they'd be really wide-legged capri pants!

* Outerwear --- men's hoodies obviously coordinate with the rest of the men's collection. The blue one is very bright so hopefully that will make some of the Zumba guys happy. These pretty much speak for themselves, but I got a real chuckle over the description on Zumba's website so I just can't finish this post without sharing: "You've got moves that are cooler than ice, but sometimes you need some layers to start the fire! Top your outfit off with the Pull It Together Hoodie for a classic way to heat up your look. With unique pocket details and a color-blocked hood, this piece will bring all the girls to your yard!" See what I mean? Yeah...

So that is the Gold Collection for men. Where's the gold though? That's what I still want to know... In my opinion, some hits and some misses, but I'm a lady so I suppose it's not really my opinions that count here.

Question: Zumba guys (hopefully there's at least one or two of you in my audience), what do you think of the new line?

*I am not affiliated with nor compensated by Zumba Fitness, just an interested shopper and Zumba-lover!

Friday, November 15, 2013

The new Zumbawear sizing chart

Recently, Zumba redid their sizing charts for their clothes. This line of clothing, and I believe the previous two, reflect that. Here's the new chart:
For the ladies
The idea being that:
1) Size runs more true to size. So a person who wears medium clothing everyday, would be able to actually wear medium size Zumbawear (as opposed to size large).

2) These new sizes are more inclusive and full figured women can rock the look too.
For the gentlemen
On the one hand, I was used to buying my Zumba gear a certain way because I had adapted to their weird sizes. Now, I have to re-learn things a little. But on the other hand, I am all about Zumbawear being for everyone. Zumba itself is for everyone, therefore, it stands to reason that the clothing should be too. Doesn't that seem logical to you? I like this a lot. Yes, I fit into Zumbawear on the Spicy/Marvelous end of things and have for a little while, but that wasn't always true. Also, it's not just Zumbawear. I have been "that girl", the one shopping in a store who sees something cute that she can't wear because there's not a size big enough. I have been there and I know. So it pleases me greatly to see Zumba doing something about this.

Zumba released this video on their Facebook page discussing size and their position on it.

See, it's not just a sizing chart and it's not just about changing the way clothes are made. The meaning goes deeper than that. It's about body image, basically, how we feel about how we look. Zumba believes that everyone should look good and also feel good about themselves. In the video, the man speaking is Alberto Perlman - Co-founder and CEO of Zumba. He's making a statement in response to recent media coverage of models and photoshopping. If you haven't seen the time-lapsed video of the model being photoshopped, you can view it here. According to him, it's these kinds of negative images that make only 15% of people (that's both women -and- men...) feel comfortable enough to walk into a gym. Zumba is trying to reach out to that other 85%. He says, "We know you're more than a number." That's right sir, we're Xtra Spicy and doubly Xtra Lovely and everything else in between. And for that, we thank you!

Best advice:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Gold Collection - Part 3: Accessories complete your outfit
In every line of clothing there are always a bunch of accessories that match the clothes and round out your look. One nice thing about the accessories though is that they don't just match the clothes from the current line. Most of the time, most of the accessories will match what you -already- have in your closet too. In that respect, you get a nice little bang for your buck. Accessories have ranged from bandanas and bags to phone covers and temporary tattoos with just about everything in between. One accessory you can always count on Zumba to release with every clothing line though, is bracelets and this time is no exception.

* Bracelets --- bracelets are 100% silicon, and they are latex-free. After wearing a few different styles of bracelets to Zumba (bangles, beads, etc.) I figured out why this style of bracelet is so commonly found in Zumba's store. Beaded bracelets are heavy and they slide around when you get your merengue arms going. Bangles are are light, but they too slide around and while I admit that they look kind of cool that way, bangles are not especially durable. Twice I've worn them to class and come home with more than one oval because they bent. That's right, bent! Silicon bracelets are soft and flexible and easily pop right back into shape. They are lightweight and they don't slide much because of the texture of the material. Basically, the perfect bracelet for Zumba. The ones you see here are -all- from the newly released Gold Collection.

This is the Oh My Gash cuff bracelet. It too is made from 100% silicon. It is black with gold accents so you can see that it is designed to go with the Gold Collection. However, the cutouts are similar to the "cut up" look that was the theme of a previous clothing line which means this bracelet would coordinate very nicely with pieces from that collection as well. A cuff is not my cup of tea, as they say. Because I am short, large jewelry always looks out of place on me, it's a proportions thing. But on someone tall, or even long-limbed, this would look pretty rockin'. we have the R-R-Remix Bandana Wrist Wrap. It's 100% rayon and it has little charms on it! Four gold rings, one gold bell, and one gold signature logo. The charms are very hard to see in the picture, in fact the only one that shows is the logo charm. If you want to get a better look, click the link on the picture to go to the Zumbawear shop. They have a zoom-in function on their product shots. I have to tell you, I am tempted to get this just for the charms; in spite of how wide it is. Like the cuff, it wouldn't look quite right on me as a wrist wrap. I am really curious to see though if it unrolls into an actual bandana. No word on that yet, but I'm going to keep checking to see if anyone posts a product review.

*Head bands/wraps --- from Zumba are by no means a new thing, but this one, called the Pomp-It-Up Headband is considerably more versatile as you can see. A headband, a wrist wrap, an armband, and...I'm not sure what you'd call the ankle one, I think it's too big to be an anklet... I know I'd call it a tripping hazard personally, but then I've never claimed to be the most coordinated person in class. gold things at the ends are little bells. They look cool, and I know people like them, there's no denying that they add pizzazz to an outfit, but I personally find that any noise I can hear competing with the music throws me off a little. On Halloween, I wore my new ZIN tags and they were sooo noisy. I wound up tucking them inside my sports bra just to keep them quiet. I'm pretty sure they were distracting others too, I noticed one or two questioning looks in my direction...

* Scarves ---
Scarf in "Back To The Fuchsia"
Scarf in "Blue But Bright"
Zumba has not done a scarf in quite some time, and the last one I remember was more of an outwear kind of scarf; as opposed to a fashion scarf like these. These are the To Infinity Scarf And Beyond. Infinity scarves are very trendy right now so it's hardly surprising that Zumba chose to include some in their latest clothing line. I really like these a lot, and here's that blue color I've been eying. If I bought this, I likely wouldn't wear it to class, I think it would make me too warm, but I'm pretty sure I could find something in my closet it could go with for every-day use. I just might have to put this on my "maybe list" with the purple wrap jacket and the black instructor tank...

* Socks --- being part of the fitness industry has certainly sold plenty of socks before. They've even sold some this tall in the past. These remind me of socks I've seen runners wear for marathons with their theme outfits (although I don't think these are compression socks). These are pretty cute, but too tall for me personally for athletic use. Again, I think I'd overheat.

 * Gloves ---
Gloves in "Love Me Lime"
Gloves in "Cut N Paste Purple"
Gloves... I really wondered about these. They are purely a fashion item. They aren't weighted at all and while the description says they're lined, I'm not sure how durable they would be as far as wearing to use on the gym machines. I had a pair of fingerless gloves once upon a time, that I used when I was a member of one of those 30-minute express type gyms. They helped me grip the handles on the machines, but they they also took a beating in the process from the friction. So, while these do make a fashion statement, I'm not sold. These are definitely not for me.

* Bags --- almost always has some kind of bag as part of every collection. In this case, they're offering this utility tote as part of a gift set. Alright people, let me tell you when I saw this in the shop I began to question my purchase of that black/pink utility know, that one I packed for East Lansing? I shouldn't have, that was a knee-jerk reaction to seeing a brand new bag and I just love love love bags! And hey, when they say "Zumba" on the side written in gold, I love them all the more. I was all, "Ah man, I just bought the other bag... Why did I do that?" The answer is that I -needed- a utility tote and the truth is, I like the black/pink bag better as far as both style and colors are concerned and if both were side by side and I could only get one, I'd still buy the black/pink one. Buuuutttt... That one didn't come with bracelets, a towel, and key ring! *sigh* It's okay, deep breaths... When I really stopped and considered the entire set, I realized that all I really want is the key ring. That on its own is not worth $40.00 (pre ZIN discount). So I'm going to drool over the picture, but I'm going to save my money and have faith in the fact that there will be other key rings down the road. A word on the bracelets: if you look closely at these and compare them with those in the other pictures, you'll discover that this grouping is not made up from those other bracelets but is actually unique and specific to the Sweat My Zwag Gift Set.

*Shoes ???
One major question on everyone's mind when it comes to accessories is, "Where are the shoes?" There haven't been any new shoes in a while, and the general consensus from the Zumba Nation is that we're due (ahem, overdue...) and yet, so far nothing. That's especially disconcerting in light of this photo that's been making the rounds on Facebook and Pinterest.
Here's Beto Perez, the creator of Zumba posing with the Foil Me Once Long Leggings and...a black and gold high-top sneaker! So many people want this shoe, and I can understand why, it's very striking. So with a teaser like this, it's understandable that people are asking where the shoes are. All I can think is that maybe we'll see them in time for the holiday season coming up. Just like with the key chain, I have faith that the shoes are coming. Who knows what next month will bring right? It's Zumba and they're full of surprises!

Best advice: Give new things careful consideration. Think about whether it's really worth it to you to have that brand new    X   . Like me with my bag. I love that black/pink bag, and when I stopped and took the time to thoughtfully consider it, I realized that I didn't really want the new one and that I was happy with the one I already had. As I browse the Zumbawear shop, I add things to a "maybe list" which is -not- a  "purchase list". All it means is that I'm willing to consider thinking about possibly getting that item. Did that make sense..? Adding it to a mental "maybe list" does -not- mean it's a done deal.

 *I am not affiliated with nor compensated by Zumba Fitness, just an interested shopper and Zumba-lover!