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    Jeweled Glassware
    Materials:

    • wine glasses – any shape or size
    • rubbing alcohol
    • gold contour paint
    • glass stones
    • assorted beads
    • tweezers
    • optional: string of fake pearls
    • optional: gold ribbon


    Steps:

    1. Wash and dry the glasses. Remove all traces of grease, using rubbing alcohol if necessary.
    2. Starting at the bottom of the glass, apply gold contour paint swirls to a small area only so you don't smudge the work by covering too much of the glass at one time.
    3. Gently place the largest stones at random on the wet contour paint. Work in sections, adding to the piece as each section dries.
    4. Fill in the design by adding smaller beads. To avoid touching the contour paint, pick up and place the beads with tweezers. Gently press the beads into place. Let each section dry before building up the complete design.
    5. Optional: Wrap a string of fake pearls or gold ribbon around the stem of the wine glass, from top to bottom.

    (Source: DIY Network)

     

     

    Embellished Espadrilles
    Materials:

    • Canvas espadrilles
    • Beaded fringe trim, beads or buttons
    • Needle, thread and scissors
    • Straight pins


    Steps:
    Cut two pieces of beaded fringe to fit top of espadrilles. Secure with straight pins and sew in place. Try to begin stitching on the top of the shoe – hiding the stitches under the button or trim – so that knots aren't placed against top of foot.

    Alternately use buttons, if desired, to embellish the espadrilles. Sew the buttons across the top to secure.
    (Source: DIY Network)

     


    Lucky Dice Cufflinks
    Materials:

    • Cufflink findings
    • Dice (hopefully, a lucky pair)
    • Glue


    Steps:
    Once you have your dice, decide which side of the die you want on top. Add a bit of glue to the opposite side, as well as the cufflink finding. Allow glue to dry and repeat for second cufflink.

    Alternately, consider drilling a hole in one corner of each small die (four total). Glue small eyehook into each hole. Attach a short chain to pair of dice small enough to fit through buttonhole.
    (Source: DIY Network)

     

     

    Ribbon and Rhinestone Necklace

    Materials:

    • 4 x 15" pieces of ribbon
    • 15 Large flat-back Rhinestone beads
    • 15 small flat-back rhinestone beads
    • 15 AB colored flat-back rhinestones
    • E-6000 Glue


    Steps:

    1. Make sure the surface of your ribbon is free of dust and stains. Place the rhinestones in the pattern you have decided on for the ribbon necklace. Leave 2 inches on either end as the tying ends for the choker.
    2. Place a small amount of glue beneath each rhinestone, and press into place.
    3. Repeat this process until you get the design you want.
    4. Allow time for the glue to dry, then string some glass beads to the ribbon below to mix up the design.

    (Source: DIY Network)

    Sea Glass Jewelry
    Materials:

    • sea glass or other small beach treasure
    • small jewelry pliers, tweezers or old scissors
    • wire snips
    • 20-gauge wire of your choice
    • smaller gauge wire (optional )
    • super glue or hot glue (optional)


    First, determine how long you want your necklace to be and cut the wire to that length plus 1 inch for the hook. An average length is 16 or 18 inches.

    Hold on end of the wire in tweezers, pliers or old scissors about 1/4 inch from the end and curl the wire around in a loop. Be sure to tuck the end in to the wire so it won't scrape your neck.

    Curl in the other end in the same way, creating a slightly larger hook instead of a small closed loop this time.

    Play around with string or scraps of wire to determine how you want to wrap your treasure into a pendant. Be sure to wrap at least three sides, if not four, in order to make a secure casing around it. Start with about 6 inches of wire and make a small loop in the middle, twisting several times to secure it. Then, place the loop at one end of the glass and began wrapping the rest of the wire around it in a random manner. Then, feed the loop onto the hooked end of the necklace and slide it into place. When the pendant is on the necklace, simply slip the hook into the loop to close it.

    Tip: You might want to secure the wire to the back side of the pendant with super glue or hot glue.
    (Source: DIY Network)

     

     

    For Those Non-DIYers
    Not everyone has the creative gene, or the time to get crafty. If that's you, there are many talented local design shops – like Phoenix Rising Designs – that create breathtaking pieces that will never be duplicated, but will always be admired.

    Lindsay Hastings, owner and designer for Phoenix Rising Designs, has been in the jewelry business for 10 years. The benefit of getting an expert like Hastings make your designs for you is that she has the connections and a trained eye for the highest quality materials possible.

    "I am knowledgeable in gemology as well as a gemstone therapy practitioner, Precious Metal Clay Certified instructor – and of course – a jewelry designer. My designs are inspired by the gems themselves, I have been a rock hound for as long as I can remember." Hastings adds, "My company's phrase is 'Opt for the Unusual' and all the jewelry I make is one of a kind or custom made."

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      Foot Solutions
      513-777-0290
      www.footsolutions.com/franchises/index.php?id=177
      Do you tear off your shoes at the end of the day? Don't feel like going out with your friends because your feet are killing you? Want to exercise, but it hurts too much? Visit Foot Solutions in West Chester. They know feet! Foot Solutions in West Chester specializes in attractive, supportive shoes, as well as custom arch supports. Their experts will analyze your needs and make recommendations tailored to you. Your feet will be happy again!

      Morgan's Canoe and Outdoor Centers
      1-800-WE-CANOE
      www.morganscanoe.com
      Make a splash in the outdoors this year with a fun-filled canoe trip! Located on the Little Miami River and Whitewater River, Morgan's is the Tristate's largest, oldest and most experienced, outfitter. These fun-filled Canoe and Outdoor Centers offer 1-3 day canoe, kayak, rafting, tubing, camping and cabins. Enjoy the great outdoors with your family, company or group. We offer the best equipment, service and instruction to get you started out right!

      Satisfaction Cruises
      www.satisfactioncruises.com
      Vicky Bezak, 513-231-9042 ext #3
      Where luxury meets an outdoor adventure: Satisfaction Cruises. The “Satisfaction II” exclusive yacht offers a gracious entertaining experience, with fine food, dynamic sound systems, panoramic views of the Ohio and Kentucky shorelines and superior service. You’ll have to plan ahead for this one! Call or go to their Web site to book and confirm your event. Then, start planning your atmosphere or theme so the yacht is set to your specific expectations when you board.

      Southwest Ohio & Cincinnati Hiking
      www.trails.com/activity.asp?area=10254
      Type in “Cincinnati” into a search engine and you'll get the unexpected. You'll get the traditional weather and population information, but you'll also read “138 parks covering more than 5,000 acres.” For those trail-lovers out there, that's music to your ears. But before you trek all over Southwest Ohio in your car trying to find a trail that suits your needs, check out Trail.com that rates them all for you and provides helpful logistics about each.

      Summerfair
      513.531.0050
      www.summerfair.org
      For nearly 40 years, Summerfair has been supporting and promoting artists and the arts in Greater Cincinnati. The organization's activities include: supports for individual artists including grants and exhibitions; community-based art activities and events; and a nationally-recognized annual fine arts fair.

      Union Terminal's Omnimax
      513.287.7000
      www.cincymuseum.org
      Rather experience the outdoors indoors? The Union Terminal's Omnimax is now featuring "The Alps," which gives you the opportunity to follow one man's triumphant journey and personal quest to make peace with a mountain that took the life of his father 40 years earlier.

      Dude Ranch
      513-421-DUDE
      Dude, where's my horse? Okay, sorry. We couldn't resist. But all kidding aside, there's a dude ranch near Cincinnati! It's just 10 minutes from Kings Island. This place has horseback riding, western cattle drives, hayrides, roping, and more.

      Golf
      www.cincigolf.com
      Love to golf? Check out this site to learn more information about all the local courses, and also snag some coupons and discount codes for your next round!

      Women Outdoors
      www.women-outdoors.org
      A group that says it's okay to hike in heels: Women Outdoors. Check out this national organization that welcomes all women and provides activities for all levels of experience and ambition.

      Other Outdoor Activities
      www.gccc.com/relovisit_b.aspx?id=244&rid=158
      Cincinnati's Regional Chamber of Commerce provides a collective list of information and links to outdoor attractions and recreation. Learn more about Greater Cincinnati's parks, art, clubs, architecture and historic districts.

      Top Ten Survival Tips:

      1. Always leave a travel plan with someone.
      2. Carry a few basic items in case you do have to spend the night, such as a garbage bag, lighter, whistle, pocketknife and water bottle.
      3. Pack some basic gear along – like a garbage bag – and you can create a quick shelter if need be.
      4. Don't wear cotton. That just holds water and perspiration. Try a wicking material that will wick sweat away from your skin and evaporate quickly.
      5. Get into the habit of carrying at least three fire making sources on you. A lighter in your shirt pocket and a spark rod and Windproof matches in your pants pocket or pack will do.
      6. One of the best emergency fire starters are 100% cotton balls smeared with vaseline (a petroleum product). One of these will burn 4-5 minutes and a batch can be stored in a film canister.
      7. Carry a signal mirror in your pocket. The glimmer from a mirror can carry for miles and a signal mirror can be used on a windy day unlike the smoke from a fire.
      8. Always have a bandanna with you. This helpful item can be used as a water strainer, cap, scarf or water collector.
      9. Know your limits and when it is time to turn back or stop to rest.
      10. Keep your cell phone on you! If you have a Blackberry, turn the email update function off – after all, you are on a getaway adventure – and plus, it prolongs the life of your battery in case you need that phone later.

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        Learn and Munch – at EQ at the Party Source in Bellevue, KY. EQ stands for “Entertainment Quotient” and they offer hands on group cooking classes for 8 with scrumptious eats after your done. Don’t want to get your hands dirty? Attend a cooking demo – you still get to eat the results, but you watch while the experts do their thing.
        Find details at www.thepartysource.com.

        In Vino Veritas – Paul Ortiz has recently founded The Cincinnati Wine School, offering in depth educational classes on wine – a departure from the usual tastings at wine merchants around town. Ortiz was the sommelier at Boca for several years. The school’s “Basics of Wine” is a three-week series for $115. Each class is two hours, with six to eight wines tasted each class. Class I is about grape growing and winemaking. Classes II and III offer introductions to whites and to reds. “Expect to have a great time while you learn about old world and new world wines and what makes them different,” says Ortiz about the classes. You have to love his tag-line: “Where you’ll love the homework, too.” Find out more at www.cincinnatiwineschool.com.

        Vertigo No More –Try rockclimbing at Rockquest Climbing Center in Sharonville, where you can tackle 18 and 45 foot walls after a quick one-hour lesson for $7.00. You’ll need to climb in pairs, as one person is the “belayer” or helper, while the other climbs. Rockquest offers climbing for beginners and an 80 ft wall for the more experienced. Private lessons go for $30. They’ll help you organize a party, too. Check out details at www.rockquest.com.

        School for the Fun of It – UC’s Communiversity let’s you take advantage of living in a college town and have fun at the same time. Communiversity offers classes in sports, computer competency, cooking, music, dance, finance seminars, writing, handicrafts… the list goes on and on. A smattering of what’s coming up? Try Healthy Cooking with an Ethnic Flair, starting Saturdays on June 23 (four lessons for $139) or learn about antiquing with author and expert, Frank Farmer Loomis on July 21 in Sidney, Ohio. Or check out all the other offerings at www.uc.edu/ace.

        Amazing Grace – Become a Swan with ballet lessons from the Annelise von Oettingen School of Ballet, on the West side. Their adult beginner class, "From Misfits to Magnificence," is targeted to teens and adults who want to become more graceful: Mondays 7:45-8:45. Learn more at www.avoballet.org.

        Go Play Outside – Learn to play tennis, sail or horseback-ride. The Cincinnati Recreation Commission offers adult tennis lessons at Lunken Airport (http://www.cincinnati-oh.gov/crc/pages/-8543-/) $60 for six lessons. Strictly Sail in Blue Ash will teach you to sail via their combined classroom and on-the-water lessons. Get two three-hour classes for $99, which includes one day in the classroom and the second day on the water in Brookville, IN. Billed as a safe way for the beginning sailor to learn, find out more at www.strictlysail.com. For horseback riding, try the Winton Woods Riding Center, at Winton Woods Park. Get more details at here. The park offers lessons from beginners to advanced and teaches Western, Hunt Seat, Dressage and Jumping. Lessons are $207-276, depending on the day of the week, for 12 lessons.

        Throw a Pot – Not at someone…I mean throw a pot on a wheel. Tap into Cincinnati’s heritage as the home of Rookwood Art Pottery by taking a lesson at Funke Fired Arts, (formerly Annie’s Mud Pie Shop) on Wasson Rd. in Hyde Park. Six week classes run $160. “People who come here say we have a great environment, a sense of community,” says owner Tom Funke. He also offers advanced lessons and “funkier” (ok, I couldn’t resist) classes like mosaics and metallic glazes. Check out their Web site at www.funkefiredarts.com.

        Get Crafty – One woman's scrap is another’s treasure. Scrap-booking is all the rage! Save those ticket stubs, wine labels (see above), photos of your first cruise and little Andrew’s handprint from preschool and turn them into treasured and artistic memories at Scraps Etc., with locations in Cherry Grove, Cincinnati Mills and Symmes Twp. Initial classes are free ($5 fee, with a $5.00 off coupon). All the materials you need for scrap-booking are available at the stores, but you'll have to supply the memories. Go to www.scrapsetc.com to start generating some crafty ideas.

        Find Your Voice – At Women Writing for (a) Change, in Silverton. Experience Creative writing classes for women (and some for men) in a safe environment where no one is going to take a red pencil to your words. The writer is in control of the feedback she gets. Materials even say you can request a standing ovation! “We offer a nurturing community which brings words to women and the words of women to the world,” says Mary Pierce Brosmer, founder of the Women Writing for (a) Change Movement. All kinds of writing are welcome, from journaling to fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction. Beginners and more advanced students are both welcome. Monthly Saturday Samplers are free. Seven week summer classes begin the week of June 11th. Learn more about this group of aspiring wordsmiths at www.womenwriting.org.

        The Art of Self Defense – Learn Moo Gong Ryu, or “the way of guarding peace,” style of martial arts at Cincinnati Tae Kwon Do Center on Red Bank Rd. All fitness levels and ages are welcome. Adult beginners can start any time. Fees are on a monthly basis, costing $77 per month for up to 12 classes. The first month is $160, because you buy a uniform and get a 30-minute private lesson. After just a couple of lessons, you’ll be knocking out choreographed “forms” and breaking boards – yes, really! They promise. But don't break your keyboard out of excitement. You'll need it to type in this Web site: www.cincinnatitkd.com.

        While Watching the Boob Tube – Take up needlepoint and have something to show for your time watching Tony Soprano order a hit or the latest American Idol hopeful get thrown off the show. Would-be needlepointers can learn the basics at The Top Drawer in Mariemont. Beginner’s classes are $20, including materials, offered once a month on the second Wednesday from 6-8 pm. You’ll be stitching in no time and able to make some of the nifty things available at the store like eyeglass cases, Christmas ornaments, handbags and belts. Get one stitch closer to a new pastime by visiting www.topdrawer-needlepoint.com.

        Enchanted Moments – This metaphysical book and gift shop, offers workshops, readings and energy work. Reiki is offered once a quarter. Drumming is the first Tuesday of every month. In addition, upcoming special classes include Meditation and Visualization on June 8 from 7-9, with Steve Thompson from Sedona, Arizona. Thompson will also offer a workshop on June 10: 8 Steps on the Path to Spiritual Freedom. A tarot class is also being offered June 6th, 13th and 20. Check the Web site for more options: www.enchantedmoments.org.

         

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          The first step to sprucing is to decide how big you want the project to be, what you want to accomplish and how much you want to spend.

          There's an abundance of resources to help you get through your project no matter how big or how small. Look through magazines like Veranda, Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Architectural Digest. Or check out the latest home décor products and trends in the online magazine Trendir at www.trendir.com.

          Plan A. The cheap quick fix. If that's your plan for fixing the place up, maybe all you need to do is rearrange the room and get rid of clutter. Get started by removing all the accessories from the room. Consider the function and focal point of the room.

          The focal point can be a piece of furniture, artwork or an architectural element in the room. Keeping in mind that you want to enhance the focal point, begin placing the essential pieces of furniture where they function best. Try to avoid the boxed in look with everything against the wall. Instead, create a softer look by placing furniture at an angle. Once you have the essential pieces in place, work with the complimentary pieces like end tables, ottomans and lamps.

          Now it's time to accessorize your new room. Group your accessories by theme, content, color and texture. Pick your favorites. Redistribute them in odd numbers. Before you put any accessory in the room, consider if it really compliments the room. If it doesn't, stop! Don't put it there. Clutter makes the room look smaller, unorganized and can detract from the focus of the room.

          Plan B involves more time and money, but you get to explore new options for your walls, windows, furniture and lighting.

          Walls
          Paint is one of the quickest and easiest ways to update a room. Faux finishes and a variety of techniques make paint a design tool with endless possibilities. Learn about the different techniques on www.profaux.com. For a simple but stylish coordinated look, Matt Knotts from High Street furniture and accessory store in Over-the-Rhine, suggests doing your walls in a flat paint finish and the woodwork the same color, but in a semi-gloss. By the way, your ceiling doesn't have to be white. Paint it a neutral color that matches the walls.

          Wallpaper, like paint, can be used in a variety of ways. It's not quite as easy to wallpaper a room as it is to paint, but either will quickly change the look and feel of the room. Use the two together. Paint three walls and paper the fourth with a bold large-scale pattern for a dramatic effect. Research the possibilities for wallpapering your walls at www.doityourself.com/stry/qnadecorate2.

          Windows
          Decisions, decisions, decisions! There's a lot to consider with windows. Do you want to emphasize the view, hide what's outside the window or see out during the day, but cover the window at night? There's a plethora of treatments to accommodate your needs. Of course, there are blinds, shades, shutters and fabric. Be daring; don't just think of two fabric panels to cover the window. Use an item you don't usually see as a window treatment. My bathroom window topper is an old corset. It works great and it was easy. I loosened the ties until the corset fit the window. It's attached to a curtain rod with Velcro. A simple lace curtain hangs below it. Click here to check out window treatments from Home and Garden Television.

           

          Furniture and Accessories
          To me, this is the fun part. It's not as much work as painting or wallpapering. It's more shopping, mixing and matching. Key point…shop around! The next time you go to Home Depot, just buy screws. Check out unique stores for fabrics, lighting fixtures and accessories.

          Drop by your local furniture store chain (I really can't believe I said that). But this will work as long as you don't do one-stop-shopping there. Don't stick to one design. Visit High Street, Bova or Voltage for unique furniture with a modern look.

          Update your hardware. Change the knobs on your cabinets and doors. Shop Anthropologie at www.anthropologie.com or drop in the store. It's a great place to do knob shopping.

          Stretch a tight budget. Shop the thrift store, garage sales, flea markets, or trade furniture with a friend. I once traded a ring for a dining room table and four chairs. Pull together an eclectic mix of furniture by painting all the pieces the same color. In my bedroom, I have an old four drawer metal Hallmark Card display unit that I use as my dresser, a bedside hospital stand I use as my nightstand and a tall metal laundry cabinet that holds my t-shirts. It's a fun mix of furniture that are totally functional all pulled together with paint in a lovely shade of butter crème.

          Don't be a chain store bore. Be creative! Add a little individuality to your home. Make it your style. Anyone can go to Pottery Barn and buy everything to match. Then you'll be just like the Joneses. You can visit the Joneses, but spruce your place up so you enjoy coming home.

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            Since childhood, girls are socialized to be cooperative and blend into a group. Girls who stand out in anyway are often ostracized and expressing strong opinions is usually frowned upon. Boys, on the other hand, are socialized to be competitive. Their individual strengths and strong opinions are valued. "This pattern persists into adulthood when men are generally viewed as autonomous leaders when they express strong opinions," explains Hillary Wishnick, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the West Chester-based Bridgepoint Psychological and Counseling Services, "while women are often viewed negatively for expressing the same opinions, i.e. viewed as not being a team-player. So, in general, it is usually more challenging for women to be assertive."

            Assertive communication finds a balance between meeting your own needs as well as the needs of the listener. "The aggressive communicator meets her own needs at the expense of the listener while the passive communicator does not meet any of her own needs and often does not express much of what she thinks or feels at all," explains Laurie Little, PsyD, a licensed psychologist and owner of the Florence-based Little Psychological Services. "Learning how to become an assertive communicator takes time. It is a skill to be learned and practiced."

            Sharing your Opinion

            Sharing your opinion, whether it is the same or different from those around you, is often a difficult task. Knowing what to say and when to say it is important. "A good way to express an opinion is to own it as your own by using 'I' statements," explains Wishnick. "Timing and setting are also important considerations to determine if it is an appropriate time and place to speak up. Generally, it is best to avoid 'you' statements, which can make opinion-giving feel more confrontational."

            Be sure to identify your opinion as such before you start speaking. This sort of opener alerts others that what you are expressing is your own personal view and it allows room for others to share their opinions, whether the same or different. "People who are too forceful and blunt in giving their opinions are likely to turn people off, and the point they are trying to make may become lost due to the negative reactions they elicit from others," explains Sara M. Mills PsyD, a clinical psychologist in private practice in Mt. Lookout. "It is helpful for these types of people to gain understanding of how their approach is affecting other people and modify it so that others want to hear what they have to say." Mills states that this can be obtained by demonstrating respect for the views of others, modifying their tone of voice and also intensity of their delivery.

            When effectively sharing your opinion with others, you want to be sure that you are being clear without being rude or hurtful. "One must first have the underlying belief that everyone is equally entitled to their own opinions," explains Little. "Your own opinions, feelings and needs are just as worthy and important as everyone else's. Statements that imply that your opinion is 'the truth,' or that denigrate another's perspective, can alienate others or appear aggressive."

            Speaking up When Shy

            For a lot of women, it is easier to know what to say, or what you want to say, than it is to actually verbalize it. Overcoming shyness is an important part in learning to share your opinion. You have to realize that what you are saying is important and others will value you for speaking up. When listing ways that shy people can speak up for themselves Susan D. Gray, the regional director of education at Health Management Corporation, WellPoint Inc., says that, "they don't know that what they have to say is worthwhile. Know who you are speaking up to. What matters is speaking up in a way or manor that is perceived valuable. Find the hook, common language and go for it."

            Knowing that you may not be the only person with a particular opinion can help when sharing. There may be others who agree with you and that can help to build confidence. "Oftentimes, we don't speak up when we believe that our opinions are in the minority," explains Little. "Remind yourself that there may be others who are feeling the same way, but are also hesitant to speak up. Also, remind yourself that your opinions are equally as valid and worthy as everyone else's opinions."

            Along with the benefits of speaking up, you can also think about the costs of not doing so. "Are you being respected? Are your needs being met? Are you taken seriously?" asks Wishnick. "By evaluating this, one can determine whether the risk of speaking up outweighs the risk of not being respected at work and in interpersonal relationships."

            Defending your Cause

            When you are defending your cause, it is crucial to at least acknowledge the existence and possible validity of other points of view. "If a person comes on too strong by implying or stating that their view is the only ‘right’ way, others will get turned off," explains Mills. "On the other hand, it is good to be passionate about a cause and to express this passion. If you truly believe in something and are consistent in the way you demonstrate this, others are more likely to appreciate your sincerity, even if they disagree with your views."

            Stay focused and be sure not to be overly emotional about your cause. "It is important to stay calm," explains Little. "Although one can feel very passionately about a cause, if it is defended with too much emotion, the listener is less likely to take you seriously."

            If you listen to others, you can usually find out what is important to them and the business. "Once you identify this fact, then frame what you want to say in the context of what they see as valuable," explains Gray.

            If you are clear and to the point, there is a better chance that people will understand what you are saying and possibly agree with your cause. "Have a simple clear message, explains Wishnick, "own it with ‘I’ statements, and repeat the message numerous times without wavering or changing your opinion."

            Helpful Tips

            If you feel like you are being lost in silence and your opinion and cause aren't being heard, you should reassure yourself that your opinion does matter and believe that your feelings are worth discussing. If you want specific helpful ideas and tips, Mills, Wishnick, Gray and Little list ways in which you can speak up for yourself, defend your cause and not get lost in silence.

            "If you don't believe in yourself or that your thoughts or feelings are worth discussing, then it may be time to look at how your self esteem/self worth has gotten so low," explains Little. "You can address this issue through self help books, journaling and/or psychotherapy. If you know your opinion matters but you just don't know how to communicate it, then it is primarily a skills deficit which can be addressed with communication skills training classes, or therapy with an emphasis on teaching assertiveness skills."

            Little also suggests writing your statement on an index card and carrying it with you to remind yourself of it throughout each day. She also explains that defending your cause often takes preparation. Rehearsing what you want to say beforehand is essential when expressing your feelings.

            When it comes to overcoming shyness, Mills believes that people often have to practice and work up to being able to state their opinions assertively and openly. " If someone is shy, it might be enough for them just to be present while a group is discussing an issue," Mills states. "That person could increase their comfort level within the group, perhaps by first asking some clarifying questions, and working up to making a short comment about their own opinion. For people dealing with shyness, I think a good approach is for them to push themselves a little bit out of their comfort zone, but not so far out that they are unable to tolerate the anxiety. This is a process and it takes time, patience, and practice, and possibly, if the person is dealing with significant social anxiety, professional help from a trained mental health professional."

            Easier said than done? Maybe not. Push yourself in a way you may not normally and you may be surprised with the results. "Choose not to be silent," states Gray. "instead choose to be a contributor."

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              This city loves its runners, and it shows this love by providing some rockin' running events. This year will mark the 98th annual Thanksgiving Day race. And Runner's World ranks the Flying Pig Marathon in its "Top 10 Most Fun Marathons" list.

              043007FEATURE_intext1.jpg With the Flying Pig Marathon coming up this weekend, you might be getting the itch to go for a good run. But, before you do, you need a few key things. First and foremost, you will need good shoes.

              Roncker says you need to come to a shoe-buying experience prepared. "Bring your current shoes with you," he says. "They tell a story about your running patterns." Go to a specialty running store – like one of the many Running Spot stores or the Miles and Meters store in Newport – where they measure your feet, are knowledgeable about running and are concerned about getting you in the proper shoe with the correct fit. "Color and appearance is part of the equation, but don’t let it be the overriding principle that determines your shoe purchase," Roncker says.

              In addition to good shoes and socks, Roncker says, these things are specifically important for females:

              1. First and foremost, a good running bra. The Running Spot carries a large selection of running-specific bras by Moving Comfort that offer function and style, and are a full range of sizes. The Running Spot also has compression bras by other manufacturers, particularly Hind and Nike.
              2. BodyGlide, a lubricant that helps avoid chafing. "BodyGlide is a great preventative measure that many of my female friends find essential for long runs (over an hour)," says Roncker.
              3. Running clothes made with wicking fabric. Keeping the moisture away from your skin will keep you feeling cool and fresh, and it's better for your skin as well.
              4. Use your head, and wear something on it! "I never run in warm weather without a headband or hat of some kind to keep the sweat out of my eyes," says Roncker.
              5. Of course, sunscreen. You might have your mind on your run, but all the while, the sun has its rays on your skin. So, protect it with a good sweat-proof sunscreen.


              Okay, you have your gear, but where will you go to break it in? If you've run in Cincinnati before, you're probably familiar with the routes available at Lunken, Hyde Park and the bridges between Cincinnati, Covington and Newport. Paths along the Little Miami River, Winton and Sharon Woods and Miami Whitewater Park are all very popular, as well. But the park trails are where you'll find the hidden gems, according to Roncker. "The Park Board has done a very good job of maintaining and improving the paths in the parks," he says. "Ault, French and Mt. Airy parks have a nice network of trails that you use for extensive periods of time."

              Now, you're ready to hit the ground running, but will that run be more effective with a partner, group or just by yourself?

              Group Runs
              Roncker says the type of person that does well with running in a group is a "social" person. "It's fun to have friends to share the run with and to talk to," he says "However, I also find that the group atmosphere makes you almost feel like you're on a 'team.' If you need motivation or accountability to get your running shoes on, a group provides that, too." Groups also come in handy with the logistics of a run. "On longer runs, you can take turns putting out water or deciding on the course, and leading the run," ROncker says. "Many of my best training runs have been with a group." 043007FEATURE_initext2.jpg

              If you're interested in running with a group, there are a number of local running groups in the area that meet on a weekly basis. More details can be found by going to www.runningspot.com and clicking on "Greater Cincinnati Running and Walking." In addition, training groups leading up to some of the major local races are very popular. Stores like the Running Spot offer training programs most of the year.

              Partner Runs
              Partner runs offer the same benefits of sharing, talking and accountability that you get with a group run. However, partner runs offer a good chance to bond one-on-one with that other person. Roncker says safety is an issue for many female runners, so running with at least one more person is a smart idea for those of you with safety concerns.

              Individual Runs
              "If you have a very social job, work in a high stress field or have a house full of preschoolers, a run alone can provide good 'quiet time' and, of course, the run itself is a good stress-reliever," Roncker says. Other times, it's just a matter of convenience. Some women run alone because no one else will get up that early to run with them, or they run when they can find a window of free time in their sporadic schedules.

              Getting Started
              Roncker says it's essential to educate yourself when taking on a new activity, especially running. See your physician for a check-up to begin, and then learn from the good advice of other runners. There are some great books available on running, specifically for women runners. "Not long after I started running I purchased The Complete Book of Running for Women by Claire Kowalchik, which covered most of the basics for me, including stretching, injury prevention, training schedules and nutrition," says Martha Nash, a Running Spot employee. "Nowadays, it's easy to find links from running Web sites that offer loads of advice, too."

              In addition to reading about running, Ronckers says, one of the smartest things a novice runner can do is to join a training group. Becoming a part of a group – like the ones available through the Running Spot – puts you in contact with a coach and mentors who help you learn all you need to know to be successful. "If you do experience any problems, these folks can guide you," says Roncker. "I have had many opportunities to talk with new female runners who have come in the store for shoes and gear. Many of them come to a specialty running store to ask questions and find guidance on how to get started. Collectively, our staff holds a wealth of information and experience that we love to share."

               

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                Pink Ink Design Group
                (513) 772-0145
                www.pinkinkdesign.com
                At Pink Ink, they know design. Your invitation is one of the most important parts of your wedding. It sets the tone for your event and personally reflects your style. That's something you can't find in catalogs. The ladies of Pink Ink Design Group are graphic designers by trade and they believe in details. They'll use their expertise to create something specific to you with different papers, type styles and colors that you'll love. "Because we think you should get what you want!" Pink Ink says. Make sure you check our their Web site to view their unique designs or give them a call to schedule a time to check them out in person.

                 

                 

                Receptions Conference Centers
                www.receptionsinc.com
                Receptions Conference Centers are located in Northern Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Eastgate and Western Hills and host all types of events such as wedding receptions, anniversary and retirement parties, business meetings, expos and award ceremonies. Receptions’ four facilities are always clean and updated. Receptions’ chefs specialize in high quality food and extensive beverage choices are provided. There is 65,000 square feet of quality meeting and banquet space available from Receptions. Receptions' slogan is "Reliable People…Remarkable Events." That certainly is true, as it's reflected in their kind staff and affordable pricing. Visit them on the Web, give them a call or even stop by one of there facilities to see for yourself. With four locations, you're bound to find one that's near you.

                 

                 

                All Star Chiropractic
                (859) 727-6888
                www.allstar-chiropractic.com
                Because your wedding is one of the most important events in your life, you should be able to relax and enjoy your special day. Call All Star Chiropractic about "The Ultimate Bridal Massage Package" that includes a free massage for the bride. Also, ask about their amazing (and unique to this area) Hot Stone service and pamper yourself for your wedding.

                Neysa Ruhl Photography
                (513) 353-FOTO
                www.neysaruhl.com
                Neysa Ruhl Photography prides itself on creating relationships with its couples. This allows the relaxed, natural, intimate images that we all love. Neysa Ruhl tells the story of your wedding day through her lens by creating the captivating and artistic images that are unique to each couple. She's not there to photograph "a" wedding, she's there to photograph "your" wedding. Check her out and let her photographic imagery illustrate the amazing details of your wedding day!

                Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa
                (513) 793-0900
                www.mitchellssalon.com
                Mitchell’s Salon & Day Spa has over 20 years experience with bridal services. They'll walk you through the different services and tell you how far ahead of your big day you should begin incorporating them. Their bridal coordinator will help you schedule all your appointments, send out confirmations and handle any change requests you may have. Take time to relax before the big day and schedule a relaxing bridal luncheon with your bridesmaids. Or be assured the day of your wedding will run on time with their experienced stylists and make-up artists. Visit their Web site or give them a call to learn more about their unique wedding packages.

                David's Bridal
                www.davidsbridal.com/dress_your_wedding.jsp
                Get the total look with David's Bridal's new and exclusive online feature that allows you to virtually coordinate your entire wedding party. This is the first and only place where you can personalize and preview how everything will look together. Mix and match all the details that will make your wedding unique, from fashions and flowers to colors and backgrounds.

                Wedding Sneakers
                www.weddingsneakersLLC.com
                Wedding Sneakers are just what they sound like. Sneakers you wear on your wedding day. But they have several designs, colors and even Swarovski Crystals to choose from. They also customize sneakers to match your attire in a classy, comfortable way.

                Albertz & Associates, CPA, LLC
                (513) 891-8400
                www.albertzcpa.com
                Albertz & Associates, CPA, LLC can help brand new couples plan for the rest of their lives together. They like to stay current with all tax changes and strategies that may help clients save money on taxes now and in the future. Marriage is an exciting time for a couple and a lot to think about before the wedding. But what about after the wedding? There are a few things to think about, especially when it comes to tax planning. Life changes not only as a couple, but also to the IRS. You are no longer single, but “married filing jointly." Here are a few things to think about after the honeymoon and before “tax time":

                1. Make an appointment with a knowledgeable accountant to plan for tax time.
                2. You may need to change your W4 form where you work because of taxes that are withheld.
                3. The spouse (wife) needs to change her name with the Social Security Administration, if applicable, as soon as possible.
                4. Get life insurance to protect you and your spouse if something happens to either of you. This can be inexpensive to get but very important.
                5. Start planning for some kind of retirement that is “tax deferred” and “tax free” outside of your 401k at work.

                 

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                  Cincinnati loves their female rockstars and the proof is in the pudding. This year's seventh annual Chicks Rockfest, held April 5-8 at the Poison Room, expanded from two nights to four, and from 30 bands to nearly 50 acts. In fact, it's now the second largest indie-band fest for the area, quickly gaining on September's Midpoint Music Festival.

                  The Chicks Rockfest promotes local and national artists. Cities such as Chicago, Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., were represented with several bands from each. The artist that traveled the furthest distance was Freyja from London.

                  That's cool and all, but we're kind of partial to the local ladies…

                  Among the artists from the Greater Cincinnati area were: The Walker Project, The Whitney Barricklow Band, The Jellyhearts, Mercurochrome, Subliminal, Deadly Seven, Pike, Tracy Walker, Star Cherry Seven, Holly Spears, Twisted Wood, The Trojan Rabbit, Backseat Virtue and kelp.

                  If you missed this year's Chicks Rockfest, several of these women will be featured in the Latitudes Cafe "She Jams" series held at both the Milford and Anderson locations. Check out our article on this series for more details.

                  We got close and personal with Holly Spears, one of the talented women featured in both the Chicks Rockfest and the She Jams series. We asked her to explain the sounds of the major players on Cincinnati's female artist scene and where we can learn more. Here's what she said:

                  Kelly Thomas and the Fabulous Pickups
                  www.myspace.com/kellythomasampthefabulouspickups
                  Kelly Thomas is a passionate singer with a Country-meets-Blues feel. Sit back and appreiciate good ol' country singing. She's a beautiful soul with a great back up band.

                  Kristen Key
                  www.kristenkey.com and www.myspace.com/kristenkey
                  If you like Avril Lavigne and high-energy pop music, Kristen is your girl. She's pretty much Cincinnati's Pop Princess and always shows the crowd a good time with her rockin' band! Be prepared to jump around and throw your arms up with this girl.

                  The Walker Project
                  www.walkerprojectmusic.com and www.myspace.com/thewalkerproject
                  Carole Walker's powerful voice will blow you away and leave you in awe. Her soulful folk rock is accompanied by her brother's amazing ability to make the bass guitar sing. Chris Walker was just named Cincinnati's Best Bassist by ITAL***City Beat***. He's also Holly Spears' bassist.

                  Kim Taylor
                  www.kim-taylor.net and www.myspace.com/kimtaylor
                  This alternative, folksy, adult contemporary singer is very clever with her lyrics and is extremely easy on the ears. Kim's soft voice is soothing and comforting to the soul. Wine would go well with a Kim Taylor CD.

                  The Kelly Evans Trio
                  www.myspace.com/thekellyevanstrio
                  Kelly's acoustic/classical guitar, Chris Walker on bass and her drummer are the perfect combination to back up Miss Evans' soulful and jazzy voice. Think jazz club and enjoy the groove.

                  The Whitney Barricklow Band
                  www.whitneyb.com and www.myspace.com/whitneyb
                  If you like Jewel and Lisa Loeb, you'll love the Whitney B Band. Whitney's voice is smooth and pretty, and at times, really big. Her songs are catchy and lyrically lovely. She's got her right hand man (her husband) on guitar, an awesome drummer and of course music man Christopher Walker on the bass. She's fun to chill and listen to, as well as sing along with.

                  Pale Beneath The Blue
                  www.palebeaththeblue.com and www.myspace.com/palebeneaththeblue
                  This poppy, electronica band is led by a singer who some say sounds like Tori Amos and Bjork meets Ben Folds Five for coffee. You may even catch Rhonda on her piano as she sings the lyrics of which she has so artistically placed together in front of her synthesizer and beats.

                  Tracy Walker
                  www.tracywalker.com
                  This folk/rock singer/songwriter/musician could be compared to a mixture of Joni Mitchel and Tracy Chapman. Her adult contemporary music has filled the air of Cincinnati for over a decade. To hear Tracy is to give your ear a treat.

                  And if that didn't quite fill your belly with enough female rock fodder, here's a few more morsels that might do the trick:

                  www.womenrockradio.com
                  Women Rock Radio. The name says it all. Women Rock Radio is the premier showcase for women who simply rock, and rock hard. From rock to grunge, from metal to punk, from mainstream to indie. Women Rock Radio is out to prove you don’t have to be a guy to play hardcore music, and ladylike isn’t always what it seems.

                  Women Rock!: Girls and Guitars
                  "Women Rock!: Girls and Guitars" is a compilation of songs by the big guns of female rockers. Legendary voices joined together for the 2000 Women Rock concert in an effort to heighten awareness and to help the fight against breast cancer. This CD by Sony Music Special Productions was inspired by the songs these legends performed at this very important event. There are nine tracks (about 38 minutes total time). Included are: Heart ("Barracuda", "Crazy On You"), Sheryl Crow ("If It Makes You Happy"), Wynonna ("Only Love"), Amy Grant ("Takes A Little Time"), Melissa Etheridge ("I'm The Only One"), Cyndi Lauper("Girls Just Want To Have Fun"),and "Destiny's Child (A beautiful rendition of "Amazing Grace"). There is also a touching live track from the concert in which Lauper and Heart, sing Paul Mcartney's, "Maybe I'm Amazed" as a tribute to Linda McCartney.

                  ROCKRGRL Magazine
                  ROCKRGRL is the only national magazine to exclusively feature, encourage, provide resources for and inspire women. It is a resource for musicians and provides useful information on industry news, starting your own label, juggling music and motherhood, booking your own tour, publicity, getting on the radio, legal issues, gear, studio tips and more.

                  Women in Music National Network
                  The Women in Music National Network, accessible online at www.womeninmusic.com, is a non-profit organization that supports the efforts and achievements of women in music through media, education and networking.

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                    It’s astounding how clutter affects our daily lives. Check out these stats from the National Association of Professional Organizers:

                    • 80 percent of what we keep, we never use.
                    • 23 percent of adults say they pay bills late (resulting in late fees) because they lose them.
                    • The average American kills 12 weeks a year looking for things they know they own, but can’t find.
                    • Americans waste more than 9 million hours each day looking for lost and misplaced items.
                    • About 80 percent of the clutter in your home is a result of disorganization, not lack of space.
                    • Getting rid of excess clutter would eliminate 40 percent of the housework in the average home.
                    • A study conducted by IKEA reported that 31 percent of customers were more satisfied after clearing out their closets than they were after sex!


                    It doesn’t end at home. Messes and clutter can put a real damper at the office.

                    • Executives waste six weeks per year searching for lost documents.
                    • 73 percent of workers say that impressions of colleagues were influenced by the way their desks are organized.
                    • The average business loses one out of every 20 documents.


                    HOW DID IT GET TO THIS POINT?
                    The Learning Channel (TLC) brought us the first show to put organizing in the spot light with “Clean Sweep.” The show is captivating with mounds of clutter that put Mt. Rumpke to shame, and can leave you awe-struck with the final reveal of a neat, tidy place to live. For anyone that has seen this Emmy worthy show (excuse the personal bias), it never fails to ponder, “How on earth did it get that bad?”

                    According to Janice Ash, professional declutterer, organizer, Feng Shui provider and owner of I Declutter, there are many reasons. If we don’t know it, how can we do it? With 17 years of decluttering under her belt, Ash should know. She says, “we’re not taught how to cohesively set up out living and working environments.” Keeping things organized might seem like common knowledge, but if people who are chronic clutterers aren’t shown how to keep things tidy, the mess can just accumulate. Also, in today’s day in age, people are rarely home to keep things organized, and we are there, most of our time is spent taking care of our families or catching up on other things around the house that have been neglected.

                    Sales can also have the “Dr. Jeckle & Mr. Hyde” effect. Yes, we save money during these low costs times, but we also tend to take the store’s complete stock without the real need for those items. Who doesn’t love the 10 for $10 deals at Kroger and Biggs? As much as we love to stock up, it just adds up to an overcrowded pantry. Speaking of buying power, Ash also says that we have lost sight of the “less is more” state of mind, and we have fallen into the “more is more” lifestyle, always wanting the newest, latest and greatest items.

                    WHERE TO START
                    You have the motivation, but it can deflate on a dime when you stop and really look at your mess. Perhaps you have one room that needs a little fixing up – that’s no so bad. But what about when multiple rooms and spaces are in dire need of help? Ash provides five places and areas to start with:

                    1. The first place to organize is the space that bothers you the most. Is it your bedroom? Pantry? Basement? Wherever it is, it typically gets under your skin more than any other place, and will give you more satisfaction to see tidy.
                    2. Think about the first think you see in the morning – the four walls of your bedroom, which also happens to be the last thing you see before you go to bed. How do you feel waking up to a closest spewing like Mt. St. Helen, or a dresser that hasn’t been seen since the day you got it? How does this make you feel? More than likely, it’s not exactly the best part of waking up.
                    3. It is also known as your personal storage unit – your garage. Ash reminds us how important this area is, particularly when you can use it for its intended purpose. Similar to the bedroom, it is usually the last thing you see when you leave for work, and the first thing you see when coming home, assuming you can even park your car in there.
                    4. The most common thing people tend to organize first is their closet. Have you ever felt like you needed a miner’s hat with the beam light on top just to see the back? Often times, it is crammed with old clothes that you haven’t worn in years, don’t fit into or won’t ever fit into. Ash says that “a cluttered closet makes us late more often than traffic.”
                    5. Drawers and cabinets are just like closets. Aside from the “junk drawer”, searching through a cluttered drawer is time consuming and wasteful. Old products or food take up space, and can be very harmful is used past their expiration date.


                    Here are 10 quick and easy tips to get a start when opting to “do it yourself” from HGTV and TLC:

                    • Clean out that makeup drawer, or in some cases, the entire counter. Toss makeup that is over a year old. Some products have expiration dates, but are in different form. They appear on either the case or packaging as a container with a number on the inside, typically in months.
                    • Can your garage double as another room with all the extra furniture in there? Load it all up on your truck (or a friend’s) and donate it. Most of the time, the furniture is old or out of date, and that is why it is in there in the first place. It’s amazing how much space a coffee table and an old couch takes up.
                    • “Clean Sweep” says, “If you have shoes or accessories that go with a certain outfit, keep them in a bag and tie it to the hanger the outfit is on.”
                    • Pick and purge before you start. It will make putting things back in place much easier when there isn’t so much junk.
                    • Have a home office in an extra bedroom and a small space? Take off the doors and put the desk in the closet.
                    • Use bed risers/lifts/blocks. They are an inexpensive way to give you a little extra storage, plus it gives your bed that “high and royal” look.
                    • Kids’ toys can be a pain in the neck (and feet when you step on them). Attention mothers: if you have more than one child, assign them each a bin and label it with their name. Teach the children to put toys in their bin when finished.
                    • You don’t need expensive plastic totes for storage. Ask a grocery store employee in receiving if you can have a couple of large boxes. They are free and great to store holiday or seasonal items.
                    • Sharpie markers can be your friend. Label, label, label – it makes it much easier to find things later.
                    • Use closet space vertically as well as horizontally. You can buy kits or “build-you-own” materials at home improvement stores to get extra hanging space. Use the extra depth and height space for a full “wall shelf” for the home office. Keep the doors on the closet to tuck it away, or take them off if accessed all the time.


                    KEEP IT THAT WAY
                    Your space is clean and organized. Now what? The first rule of thumb is to purge items in your trouble spots every six months. Sell or donate any items you don’t use anymore, and don’t be afraid to toss. Another rule is the buy/toss policy. This can be extremely hard for us females, but it helps to keep that closet clean, and it can actually help save money when you get the shopping itch. For every new item of clothing you get, toss or donate one. Hard – yes, but people swear by it. It works for kids toys too! Also, work together to keep you space organized, and teach your children to take care of things they have.

                    If you feel that your clutter is out of your hands and you know something needs to be done, contact a professional, such as Ash. She not only helps with decluttering, but also uses Feng Shui to help create a more serene and calm space. The cost of hiring a pro is minimal and can take a ton of stress off of you. A professional is also great for the office because it doesn’t take away from the time that you need to spend on getting down to business.

                    If you want more tips on how to do it yourself, here are a few online sources that offer addition help getting organized: