Thursday, July 31, 2014

Discussion Questions for Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

1. Give the book a grade and justify it with your fellow book clubbers.

2. Have you read any of J.K. Rowling's other post-Harry Potter books?

3. Why did J.K. Rowling use a pseudonym for this novel? Did she achieve the goal of this plan?

4. Were you surprised by the ending? Why or why not?

5. Did you find Robin relatable?

6. Mental health issues (PTSD, depression, addiction, bipolar) was a major theme throughout the book. How did these conditions blind or aid each character?

7. Who would you want to play each character in a movie?

8. The cover art confused some of us. What did you think of it?

- Cameron

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Daily Read: Date Eats

Us JUGs have respect for sarcasm and it always feels like a win when you find others that feel the same way.  When I came across the blog DateEats last week, I was instantly hooked and immediately read each post.  As someone in the singles "scene," dating opinions tend to be heavy since it is a pretty serious topic.  The (anonymous?) author of DateEats, however, refreshingly sheds some humor on dating in Boston.

The author, "Chief" also rates restaurants in recommending them as date venues for his readers, which is always helpful advice, especially for a first date, in addition to remembering this. Other favorite tips of mine are here, here and here, great examples of why manners are so important and valued.  I had to laugh reading this, because this happened to me on a first date and was one of the main reasons why I didn't want to see the guy again (don't get my wrong, I respect getting a bargain, but the mention of the discount 4x was overkill).

Now, I have to wonder, with the blog continuing, "Chief" must still be single, right?!  Even if he's been scooped up, let's hope the snarky reviews and recommendations keep coming!  With all of the North End mentions, it's tough to find something I do not like about this blog.  Whether you need ideas on where to dine, or a guy's perspective on the beast that is dating, or simply want a laugh, bookmark it today!

- Meredith

all photos from DateEats

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New JCrew Collaborations


initial necklace, $240

Mociun ball ring, $322

Jennifer Fisher cluster, priced by piece

twist stacking ring, $74


Let's be honest, J.CREW is a resource for any gal, whether you have the preppy gene or not.  The company has taken new creative directions as of late, and after scoping out the latest summer catalog, I have my eyes on a few of these dainty gold treats.  Sourced above, these Maya Brenner, Jennifer Fisher, Catbird NYC and Mociun pieces are classic wardrobe inclusions for years to come.  Bravo, yet again, to J.CREW for these brand collaborations!

- Meredith

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Week of July 28th

H E A L T H  &  F I T N E S S
Have you heard of Smoothie Bowls? They're the latest thing in the food porn world and they are delicious.

Women's Health breaks down What to Do on Your Commute Home to Feel Happier.

C A R E E R  &  F I N A N C E
Looking to learn a new skill to advance in your career? Check out Skillshare or the Boston-based startup, Allclasses, to jumpstart your  continuing education.

WeWork Boston has no end to their networking parties in sight. Register for August 8th's company Fast Pitch Competition to network with some of WeWork's top companies from Boston and New York. Yes, it is open bar.

60 Practically Free Ways to Update Your Home via is within everyone's budget, right?

Nina Garcia's home is just as well styled as her wardrobe.

A R O U N D   T H E   B E A N
And lastly, it was to nobody's surprise that RunKeeper was able to prove that running is faster than taking the Green Line.

Have a great week, gals and be sure to share your news and events with us via Twitter and Instagram!

- Suzanne

Friday, July 25, 2014

New Favorite iPhone Apps

After bitching and moaning to friends last week about a broken iPhone (white screen of death for 4 whole days), I rejoined 2014 with an upgraded phone.  Thanks to iCloud, everything restored perfectly and now that I have more space, I can download more apps.  Here are some of my recent favorites that I would recommend to bring efficiency to your life:

LevelUp // As a Boston-based company, LevelUp is essentially that "virtual wallet" we should all have by now.  You hook up a debit card to your account and can pay with your phone at local retailers, racking up savings over time.

ShopStyle // After selecting a brand, item type or specific product name, ShopStyle scours the internet for you to find your favorite items on sale.  You receive an email when the item's price lowers, so you know it's the right time to grab it!

Uber // From suburban meetings for work to not wanting to deal with Boston cabbies, Uber is IT. The cars are generally immaculate, fares cheaper than taxis due to different licensing, you pay through the app itself and even rate the driver at the end of each ride.  Plus, the promotion of 25% on UberX rides all summer is reason enough to download.

Songza // Songza presents curated playlists according to mood, time of day, or a certain event.  You can then "like" or "dislike" the song, and those you do like, save in your account.  It's like having a DJ with you at all times!

Drive // Google just does no wrong in my eyes.  Drive is connected to your Google account and is virtual storage of documents, spreadsheets, photos and more.  You can easily share items with friends via email in addition to group editing.  Cam, Suz and I pretty much live by this app for all JUGs-related things, such a lifesaver!

VenMo // I use VenMo almost weekly, it is a great way to split bills and pay friends back for that cover charge you just didn't have in cash for this weekend.  This is a shared favorite in my friend group, it just couldn't be easier! Plus, the newsfeed of payments is built-in entertainment.

Any others I missed?  What are your favorite apps these days?

- Meredith

photos from Google and Forbes

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Weekend Wilderness Packing List

The JUGs may be city gals, but every once in a while we like to get in touch with our outdoorsy sides by spending a little time with nature in New Hampshire or Vermont. Since its the middle of the summer and we don't need too much survival gear for a weekend in the woods, we're breaking down what you need to look chic and be comfortable while camping or...glamping:

And, enjoy your trip!

- Cameron

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nordstrom Anniversary Sale Picks

left: vest // tank // capris // kicks
center: headphones // watch // brush set // crossbody
right: leather moto jacket // chambray // jeans // pumps // booties

Truth be told, I'm not blown away by this year's selection from the Anniversary sale at Nordstrom.  However, with a careful eye, you can find some staples to take you from summer to fall and day to night.  The main thing I do like about the sale is that former prices are posted so you can blatantly see your savings, which end August 4th!  Which item(s) are you thinking of picking up?

- Meredith

Monday, July 21, 2014

Week of July 21

This morning we're happy to kickoff another perfect summer week! Here's whats up in Boston:


Head across the river on Tuesday night for Narragansett's Rock n' Roll Night at State Park in Kendall Square.

Don't forget to pick up tickets for next week's Skrillex show at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.


If the weather is nice on Thursday, why not head over to Boston Common for some Shakespeare in the Park? Twelfth Night is showing - a great show which also happens to the the inspiration to one of our favorite teen flicks, She's The Man.

Design gurus - check out Thursday's Summer Series event at the Design Museum featuring a keynote lecture on urban design with Christine McLaren.

Join Mass Clean Energy Center and Cambrian Innovation for Water Talks, a casual meetup of professionals and hobbyists working together to address water resource challenges.


On Wednesday, Follow the Honey in Harvard Square to learn about local apiaries and the honey harvesting process.

Sunday is the 3rd Annual Boston Seafood Festival! Yum!

Have a great week!
- Cameron

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Beauty Routine

moisturizer ($55) // eyelid primer ($20) // corrective pen ($34)
eyeliner ($20) // highlighter ($38) // curler ($20) // lash lifter ($24)
brush ($54) // bronzer ($40) // mist ($36) // perfume ($80)

The thing with this summer humidity in Boston is that it doesn't make me want to wear makeup. At. All.  On the plus side, (safe) sun exposure provides a base so you can put that foundation away until at least September and keep it light!  Here are a few products that will still help you look put together but will not feel heavy on your skin.  You'll note two moisturizing products, something so important, in every season!

- Meredith

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who's That Gal: Jennifer Phelan

Please tell us a little about your background and how you found yourself in the world of fitness today.
I grew up in upstate New York and was involved in dancing since age three. I went to Northeastern University for journalism which was totaly unrelated to fitness. When I had to get a work-study job, I saw a flyer in the gym with a photo of a girl that had a wireless mic on. It said ‘get certified to be a fitness teacher.’ This was the time around when Britney Spears was cool, so I was like perfect, dance around a room with a microphone on, this is totally up my alley. I auditioned, got the job and my certification to teach. I started freshman year and continued throughout college teaching everything from hip-hop to aerobics type stuff.

Teaching dance and fitness felt very natural to me. I grew up in the studio, so it felt great and I kept meeting wonderful people in my classes. After college I did what you were supposed to do, I got a 9-5 job, but kept teaching on the side. I ended up teaching so much that I was even teaching before and after work and I was working almost 80 hours a week. I spent 3 years in the marketing department of a law firm and then one day I decided it was time to make the leap. I quit my job, started teaching full time, and never looked back.

Starting your own business is the “American dream,” but takes a lot of work. Can you tell us about the process you went through to get your teacher’s license and how you built your client base / reputation to what it is now? 

Don’t get me wrong, quitting my job was scary. I’d never quit anything in my entire life and it was a secure job. I had benefits, a steady paycheck and I thought that was what you were supposed to do. But, I was lucky and I knew it was meant to be when the next day I had a meeting with Lululemon and they asked me to be an ambassador.

The key thing about starting a business is being dedicated and passionate about what you are doing. People don’t realize that how much work it is. I know there are folks who think I just wear spandex and sneakers everyday and bop around from class to class. But there is obviously a lot more to it.

The business of fitness has evolved over the past few years. When I started, people didn’t need to promote themselves the way they do now. Now, social media is a huge part of the job and everyone has a website, Facebook page and more. From the start, I was really set on creating a brand for myself and I was oversharing the details of my life because people seemed really interested in it. I created a Facebook page and just started posting all the time. Things progressed very naturally. Now everyone is doing that and you really have to stay on top of your game to reach your audience.

It took me a while to build my following but I have been doing it for 5 years and I’ve been putting in the effort. I don’t think all new instructors realize that it takes time, you don’t just start with 1,000 followers off the bat. Scheduling, emailing, marketing, updating your website, blogging and social media are all a huge part of your job as well.

To keep people interested, I try to go against the grain, and find new ways to market myself besides adding more noise on your mini-feeds. Free events used to be a rarity, but now they are the norm so I have to be constantly figuring out the next thing.

What has been the greatest business challenge you have encountered to date and who do you turn to for advice when challenges arise?

The hardest thing is that I’m doing this on my own. I’ve had assistants in the past that were really great. They were my right hand people, helping with events and such. But I don’t have my own studio or enough money to pay people to always help me. So I have to work hard to find the work-life balance that works for me.

Flexibility is a double edge sword. I have to plan around my own schedule and my clients’. Around the holidays and in the summer clients are on vacations and it’s great that I can take time off too, but I have to plan ahead because during that time off I’m not getting paid. And now I have a baby which is another story.

On that note, what’s the best career advice you’ve received? What advice would you give to a young woman looking to follow in your footsteps?

The best advice I’ve received was from my father who told me you have to love what you’re doing. I was really young and scared when I was thinking of quitting my office job and I was afraid to tell my parents. My parents have always been super supportive and that gave me the courage to give it a try and they totally supported me because they saw how happy I was when I was teaching.

If I had to give advice to someone else I’d say just go for it! Life is too short to spend it sitting behind a desk wishing you were doing something else. If it’s meant to be it will work out and if it doesn’t so what? You learned something and you can move on to something else. Take risks.

Over the past few months a lot has changed in your personal life- you just became a new mommy! How has parenthood changed your role as a pilates instructor and business woman?  

It puts things into perspective and you really have to prioritize when managing your time. I’m still trying to figure everything out and I don’t know that I will ever have everything figured out. It’s funny because before I thought I would just bounce back into shape - physically and emotionally, but right now I’m learning the challenge of juggling my son’s life, my life, my family life and my business.

Motherhood is crazy - I have so much more respect for moms now. The things you go through physically and emotionally, the way you feel about yourself and your body before and after childbirth is something you can’t prepare yourself for. I’m very lucky that I have met a group of mothers that have become a new support system for me.

This group of new friends  actually inspired me to create programs for moms where they can feel comfortable about getting back in shape. In my new mommy classes you can work out with your baby and no matter what your baby does during the class it’s ok because we are all in the same boat.

Aside from Pilates, what are some best practices you recommend to clients to live a better, more purposeful life 

I’m by no means a nutritionist but I’d say along with working out, the best thing you can do is being aware of what you are putting in your body. I am all for everything in moderation, I’m not into crazy diets or anything, but eating clean is important. Just make sure what you are eating is real. You can’t eat crap.

I grew up like everyone else, not totally aware that processed stuff was bad. But now that we are so much more aware of that as a society, it’s great that we know that a balanced diet can really change your day - change your focus, your energy and everything else. When you feel good about yourself you are more capable of good things. Make time for yourself, eat healthy.

How has the culture of Boston influenced your business and fitness choices? (We love your free workshops!)

I’m here because this where I went to school and I had a great community of friends that stayed here. My community has also continued to grow over the years and I’ve met so many wonderful people through my classes.

Even though Boston is a big city, everyone is so supportive. The Pilates community is so strong and all the fitness instructors are friends. It’s really evolved and I’ve loved watching it grow. We all have our own style but we’re all in it together.

What’s even cooler is that Boston has become such a fitness city, so as a fitness instructor that’s very exciting

What’s next for JP Pilates? 

I always have something up my sleeve! I always want to do more, I have big goals, big dreams and with time they will happen. Until then I want to keep you in suspense! What I can tell you is that I am definetly going to incorporate more classes for mothers.

JPPilates is always growing and evolving along with my life. For example when I was getting married I was doing a lot of workouts that focused on brides because I knew how stressful getting ready for the big day was. Now I am changing my focus a little bit to group in a lot more options for moms and moms to be.

BUT, don’t worry, this does not mean I am only doing mommy stuff.  I’m still cool, sort of! All I can say is I know I’m not teaching a lot right now as I am figuring out this new mom-life, but this fall I will be back and I will be offering a lot more for each and everyone of you.

I am here to stay, there’s no getting rid of me Boston!

F U N   Q U E S T I O N S:

The most fun pilates class that you offer: Pilates Fusion at North End Yoga. I love that class. The people that come to this class are hard core.

Nike or New Balance? Nike

Coffee or tea? Coffee, no question.

Must-have workout gear item: Lululemon Wunder Unders, that’s my staple. Everything goes around that and as a former ambassador I love to represent them!

Favorite meal in Boston: Sushi from a hidden sushi place called Ginza in Chinatown

Favorite summer weekend getaway: Hingham - I love walking in World’s End

Most inspiring female to you today:  My mom

Last book you read: A bunch of mom books. The last one was Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth

To learn more about Jennifer Phelan follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Giveaway: The $50 Home Makeover

Win this book!

Just Us Gals is giving away Shaunna West's new book, The $50 Home Makeover. West is the writer and designer behind one of my favorite DIY and decor blogs, Perfectly Imperfect, a blog full of tutorials and decorating tips for creating the perfect and livable home.

Shaunna also writes for Country Living and for She and her blog have been featured on The Nate Berkus Show, as well as in  Flea Market Style, HouseBeautiful, Apartment Therapy, and Design Sponge.

The $50 Home Makeover offers 75 fun and creative projects (all under $50) that will help give any space a stylish, modern look—without having to blow your budget, including:
Step-by-step instructions with full-color photographs.
A key to denote how long a project takes, how much it costs, and the level of difficulty.
Before-and-after photos of the finished product.

From an Antique Door Table to Reclaimed Wood Wall Art, each DIY project will beautify your space in unexpected ways, and you'll finally get to make those big improvements that you've wanting to.

H O W   T O   W I N

Follow JustUsGals on Instagram and Twitter.
Leave a comment below! Tell us what your latest DIY home makeover project was.

Good luck!
The contest winner will be announced via Twitter on Tuesday, July 22 at noon.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week of July 14


Happy Monday, gals!  This weekend was arguably the perfect summer weekend, talk about ideal weather!  Here are some links to start your week:

How to ask for a raise and make sure you get it, always good advice.

This may be one of the cutest videos you've seen in a while.  I had no idea that the oldest elementary school was in MA, let alone our neighbor of Dorchester.

Get a sneak peak at the interior design book by Boston's own Erin Gates, out this fall!

A favorite local power couple at the World Cup, see who else was there, too.

A great read about commercial gardens moving to Boston rooftops.

The story behind the recent hit song, "Rude."

Some of my favorite comedians (and comediennes) are featured in this Real Housewives spoof, all episodes post tomorrow online.

Think September is really the best time for your ideal vacation spot?  As someone looking to plan a trip (or two) this fall, this resource is a must-visit in order to craft an affordable voyage.

Be sure to check in with us every day on twitter, facebook and instagram.  You'll (almost) get your full dose of fitness for the week with a feature in a few days we know you'll love!  Have a great one!

- Meredith

Friday, July 11, 2014

Latest Obsession: Miranda Kerr and Kora Organics

Typically, celebrity endorsement of a product doesn't make me any more likely to buy it. I am very aware that purchasing a J.Lo perfume will not make me look like her, so I'll stick to the scents I like (pure lavender essential oil), thanks. But when Miranda Kerr recently came out with her line of organic skincare, I was impressed - not by her name on the package but by the values behind her company. Miranda Kerr is a great example of a celebrity who really walks the talk when it comes to health and environmentalism and her brand, Kora Organics, proves it. Plus - Miranda Kerr is an Earth Hour ambassador!

Why to buy:

  • Pure, premium quality certified organic ingredients formulated in accordance with Eco-Cert's and OFC's  guidelines
  • No sulfates, parabens, synthetic fragrance, synthetic colours, T.E.A., D.E.A., Glycols, Silicones, PEGS, Ethoxylate or Formaldehyde or Formaldehyde derivatives
  • No animal products or animal by-products
  • Vegan, cruelty free, not tested on animals
  • The products are luxurious and effective. (I've tested the body wash, rejuvenating day and night cream, and the foot cream - they are all fantastic!) 

- Cameron

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Where to Find Custom Upholstery in Boston

I first heard Upholstery on Broadway through a google search of Boston-area upholstery shops. I had two benches that had terrible floral patterned fabric with a dated skirting style that I just couldn’t fix myself. I needed professional help and after three months of trying to do it myself, I finally gave in and decided to find an expert.

When comparing UOB them to other shops, I ultimately knew they were the right fit because of their Yelp reviews. Every review reflected high satisfaction with their skill level and even better, each review raved about how helpful the owners, Kevin and Pamela, were. As someone who generally likes do all my DIY projects myself, this type of collaboration was very important to me. I loved how each review gave detailed reports of their consultation options, willingness to drop by clients homes to pick up furniture, help pick the best fabrics, instruct on technique and process, execute with attention to detail and quick turn arounds, and the list went on.

Within two weeks of dropping off my two parson benches and having my first and only consultation with Kevin, my gorgeous newly upholstered masterpieces were complete. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results and highly recommend anyone looking for upholstery to pay a visit to Kevin and Pamela.

For more information visit their site: Upholstery on Broadway

Perk: They also offer classes, so you really can do it yourself!

- Suzanne

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Daily Read: The Conversation, Amanda de Cadenet

Amanda de Cadenet, photographer and former TV personality is back, in a big way!  This Brit returned to television with a show called The Conversation for Lifetime.  I just discovered the episodes online via Amanda's website, and her descriptions of the show being a way for women to "help navigate their lives," and a "universal language for women," are completely accurate.  The celebrity lineup is great, too, and the honest dialogue is reassurance that even celebrities have issues with self, relationships and health.

The web series is addicting, be sure to start an episode today!  It seems like Amanda is onto something fantastic.  We can't wait to see what else she has to come!

- Meredith

photos from Amanda's Instagram and website

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Good Beers and Good Vibes at Ward 8

1 / 2

There are plenty of chic places to get cocktails in the North End, and there is no shortage of places to grab a beer by the garden....but what if you're looking for something in between, literally? Ward 8 hits that sweet spot as a cross between sporty and trendy. The minimalist rustic decor and convenient location make Ward 8 the perfect place to meet friends after work or strike up conversations with new people at the bar late-night. One thing is for certain, Ward 8 has a JUGs-Approved beer list - I mean, have you tried the Spinnaker Hefeweizen?! 

Count us in for oysters, beer, and Moscow mules any day!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Week of July 7th

Well, another Monday is upon us. Here's what you need to know to start off this week and recover from your weekend celebrations:

H E A L T H   &  F I T N E S S
Get your butt back in gear with free some free workouts! Free Zumba Gold takes place tonight at 6 pm on Christopher Columbus Park. Then North End Fitness Together is hosting a free bootcamp on Tuesday at 6 pm on the Greenway and on Wednesday hit up the November Project at Harvard Stadium at 6 am. Thursday Health Yoga Life has free yoga at 6 pm, also on the Greenway, and then on Saturday start the weekend off right with Jen Phelan's Bikini and Bellini's Pilates Bootcamp.

Here's a health twist for you - we actually need sodium in our diet. Find out why in this Real Simple story.

Interested in digital marketing? Rub shoulders (for free) with some of the best at General Assembly's Digital Marketing Happy Hour this Thursday from 5:30-7pm.

An interesting read from Forbes - Millennial Women Start Out Ahead, So What's Holding Them Back? 

A R T S  &  E N T E R T A I N M E N T
One of my favorite parts about summer in Boston is the outdoor movies. Here's Boston Magazine's list of movies playing outdoors around Boston through the summer. Who wants go see Captain America with me?

Assembly Row keeps sounding cooler and cooler. The latest news that I'm excited about is The Somerville Brewing Company is adding an outdoor beer garden, scheduled to be open by the end of the month. Can't wait to shop for fall clothes and then enjoy a refreshing beer after!

That's is! Have a great week, everyone and be sure to share your news and events with us via Twitter and Instagram!

- Suzanne

Photo Image via A Subtle Revelry

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Summertime Sleepwear

paisley // striped set // navy chemise
lace trim // eyelet set // citrus slip

So, we're in July now, and it. is. hot.  Now is not the time for college t-shirts, sometimes that cotton is just still too hot.  Instead, try silky, light, fabrics that won't hurt that sunburn from earlier in the day, and are not too heavy when under the covers in an AC-induced slumber.

Which is your pick for the best summer sleepwear piece(s) in order to keep cool?

- Meredith

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Daily Read: Sequins & Stripes

There's so much I want to share with you about Liz Schneider, creator of the popular blog Sequins and Stripes, but for everyones sake I'll keep this Daily Read short. 

I've been following Sequins and Stripes since I first started reading blogs back in 2011, right around the time when Liz first launched her first post. She started on the scene with a cute blog that posted outfit ideas she put together for clients from her newly emerging stylist business, and I thought that was so incredibly inspiring and brave. It wasn't everyday that I heard about someone my age starting their own fashion business, especially when the blogging and stylist arena had not reached the popularity and level of respect that it has today.
Over the past three years Liz has continued to be an inspiration. We have watched her blossom from a small business to a virtual friend and style advisor to thousands. It's honestly remarkable how she still finds time to keep up with her blog and frequently contribute to some of the most respected brands like Refinery29 and Kate Spade
Trust us when we say that you should add Liz to your Daily Read list. Not only is she a fierce business woman and career inspiration, but she has impeccable taste and will help you refine your everyday glam. You can find her amazing fashion picks on her blog here and get even more updates on her instagram here. And of course, watch out for her upciming collaborations!

- Suzanne

Images via Sequins & Stripes and Refinery29.