Friday, July 30, 2010

Can We Really Have & Do it All?

 

This is a question I've put a lot of thought into over the years. As I go about each day, make plans for the next, dream big, accomplish goals and multi-task with the best of them-I often ask myself, "Just how much can we really have and do"? Can we have it all, and at once? Celebrities make it look simple enough but even Oprah, whose built quite an empire during her lifetime, has shared that women can have it all, just not all at once. With every year that passes, it is made abundantly clear to me that now more than ever there is still so much I want to do, have, see and become. That is where a great little book comes in.

A few months ago I found a woman named Christine Caine via Twitter as she was placed on Twitter's home page of top tweets. The quotes and wisdom she tweeted about drew me in for more, and I immediately became a follower. Later, I visited her website and stumbled upon her book titled: 'Can I have and do it all, please?'  I knew that was a book for me. A few short days later it arrived in the mail and I read it from cover to cover. I have nothing but praises to sing of this book!

Christine is a wife, mother, author, professional speaker, world traveler and founder of a thriving ministry called Equip and Empower. She is one busy woman! After speaking at countless women's events, she started to see a trend when opening up questions to the audience-they all wanted to know virtually the same thing-How she has created a life where she can have and do it all. She finally decided to write a book  that answers the many questions that women all over the world had been asking her for years.


From start to finish, I could relate to so many aspects of Christine's own story and her daily life adventures and misadventures. I really enjoyed her "tell-it-like-it-is," passionate and often humorous way of communicating messages of hope and inspiration. The advice she offers is timeless and is filled with powerful truths. As a woman in ministry, she also incorporates God's word and scripture to further point to these truths.  She covers everything from managing and enjoying relationships, thriving in your career, having your own identity, living with simplicity, riding through the seasons of life and the importance of knowing your life's purpose.

Christine has a way of relating to every woman. She is a breath of fresh air and I love that she is REAL, sharing both her triumphs and pitfalls, a dose of comedy as well as the keen ability to speak just the right words into your life. This is a fun, breezy read that will leave you feeling inspired and ready to tackle your own life and even endure challenges in a new way so that you can have and do everything that you dream of.

This book is for EVERY woman no matter what season or place she is at in her life. This book is not only empowering but also inspiring and liberating! I hope you'll check out Christine's book, it's available on AMAZON. It would make a fabulous gift for the women in your life!

How about you-do you struggle with trying to be superwoman? What are your secrets to having, doing and accomplishing all that you dream of?

Happy Friday!



*Please note that I was in no way paid or compensated for providing my thoughts and this review on Christine Caine's book. This is solely my opinion and personal experience and I am thrilled about sharing it with all of you!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Guest Post: Discovering Your Purpose


A month ago I happened to read a wonderful post by another blogger that I follow and I wanted to introduce you to her today, her name is Shannon of The Simply Luxurious Life. She always has something lovely and inspirational to share and I especially enjoyed her recent topic on discovering your purpose. I asked her if she would allow me to blog about her and her post, and I was so glad that she agreed.

I loved Shannon's post because I think it ties in really well with who a classy woman is and desires to become. Not only is she someone who is confident and knows what she wants out of life, she chooses to take the necessary time to discover what her purpose and passions are in life to so she can be truly fulfilled. This is just one characteristic that sets classy women apart. It's so exciting to see other women living out their purpose in life and nothing fulfills me more than working towards my own ideas and projects that I'm passionate about. How about you? Have you discovered your purpose? Are you still in the process of finding out what that is? Here is the first of a 3 part series Shannon writes about to help you discover exactly that.


When a person realizes their purpose, they are in essence discovering their passion, what they could spend endless hours involved in and lose all track of time. So why not spend your life pursuing your passion?



Easier said than done, I realize that. It’s much simpler to take the route you’ve seen completed by your parents or an older sibling, but if it doesn’t electrify you, why continue down such a route? Now, don’t go and quit your day job, especially in this economy, but consider for a moment the possibilities of taking a chance in those hours you are not at your day job to begin puttering away on those things that seem to take you out of your stressful world. Dare to dream. (For even more tips on how to use those hours effectively read The Other 8 Hours)

For some of you, you may already be living your ideal life, and for those people I applaud you – what a wonderful accomplishment. I would love to hear from those of you who have successfully found your purpose and are now spending your waking hours immersed in it – what helped you to arrive at this point? Please do tell!

For anyone who is still searching for their purpose, or has figured out their passion, but doesn’t quite know how to make it materialize, this series is for you. Over the next three Wednesdays, The Simply Luxurious Life will be taking you through detailed steps on how to create just that – a simply luxurious life for yourself.

Today’s focus is on discovering your passions, narrowing down what fuels your fire and adds energy to each step you take. Here we go.

Be Willing to Grow



Just because you increase in age doesn’t necessarily mean you are growing. Each person who takes on their dreams and challenges them to become their reality is choosing to grow. They are intentionally choosing to expand their minds, abilities, talents and opportunities. None of this can happen automatically simply because a person grows older. So make a conscious decision today to grow. Whether it be by picking up The Atlantic monthly magazine or purchasing a particular book to learn more about what you will have to take on, that is growth. Begin now. Decide now to grow.

Ask Yourself .....

If you aren’t quite sure what you desire, what you are passionate about, but you know you’re not passionate about what you’re currently doing, ask yourself these eight questions and actually write them down (this may take 15-30 minutes, but it is a good exercise if you are serious about narrowing down what it is that you are passionate about).

1. What do I do where I lose track of time?
2. What am I most often complimented on?
3. What do others look to me for?
4. What do I have the most fun doing?
5. What makes me feel great about myself?
6. What am I naturally good at?
7. What do I most often give to others?
8. What ideas, things, places and people am I most inspired by?

As you look back on what you have written, you should start to see a theme. For example: losing track of time shopping, receiving multiple compliments on my wardrobe choices, friends look to me for advice regarding their clothing, love flipping through fashion magazines, wearing fabulous clothes builds my confidence, having an eye for colors, textures and patterns that work well together, giving clothing as gifts – you get the idea hopefully. A person who answers the questions this blatantly should be building a career as a stylist or consultant even if it just begins in their evening hours. What do you have to lose by trying? Realizing your dream, spending your entire life shopping? There is not one dream that is too silly to pursue if you have a passion for it, a true passion. Always keep that in mind.

Begin Today



The only way to achieve the life of pursuing your passions is to begin today. Small steps taken every day will eventually get you to the end of the marathon. A funny thing will happen while you’re taking these baby steps repeatedly, you’ll realize (if this is indeed your passion) you don’t mind the extra hours you’re spending typing away on your computer in the middle of night. You won’t even be looking at the clock until someone has to nudge you and say, put the computer down and go to bed. The little steps will become a habit, and you’ll begin to see glimmers of progress every once in a while and no matter how little, this will motivate you to take the next steps tomorrow. Have faith, take action and watch what happens.

The Benefits



You still may not be convinced that spending those precious eight other hours you have before and after work working on another potential career is the best idea. In fact, you may have resolved to be content with how your life has turned out and feel it is much more “adult” to be responsible and keep the job that you can depend on even if it doesn’t electrify you in any way what-so-ever. But before you dismiss my suggestion entirely, consider the benefits.

Here are just a few things people have attained by pursuing their true innate passion – that voice they couldn’t squelch: a strengthening of one’s self-confidence, reduction of fear, anxiety and worry, actually improving at your existing career due to a sense of fulfillment, improved relationships because you are aware of who you really are and you can present your true self with confidence, gaining more focus for life and, the ultimate benefit, gaining genuine long-term happiness and personal/professional fulfillment. Just a few things to keep in mind when questioning whether it would be worth it or not.

So, if you haven’t nailed down what you are passionate about, sit down and answer the eight questions above. Then, just take one small step before going to bed tonight. And then one more tomorrow, and repeat.

Here's a little bit about Shannon and her blog....



The Simply Luxurious Life came into fruition when I realized the life I enjoy living - a life full of luxuries, but at the same time very clean and simplistic so as not to detract from the beauty - was something that others kept asking me about. This was the grandest compliment, and so I decided to share my passions as a way to help others find their passion in life by clearing out the clutter and bringing in the luxurious necessities that can enliven and inspire each day.

As a freelance writer and high school English teacher, writing has always been a part of my life, and I am thrilled to be able to use it expose my other passions - fashion, wine, food, design, gardening, travel and anything French. Being a stylish young woman living in rural Oregon, I am constantly seeking ways to enjoy the luxuries in life. Having moved from the metropolitan life in Portland, it at first seemed that my pleasurable passions were not as readily at my fingertips as they once were.

However, I have come to realize that luxury is always in our proximity if only we know where to look, regardless of where we might be living. Whether it be found in wine, food, fashion, home decor, gardening, or entertainment, contentment and pleasure can be found. Here's to the good life!

I hope you enjoyed Shannon's post as much as I did. You can click to read PART 2 & PART 3 of her 'Discover Your Purpose' Series.

Shannon, thank you so much for allowing me to share your wonderful post and the beginning of your series. My hope is that this message will reach someone who really needs to read it!

If you haven't entered our summer stationery giveaway yet, enter HERE for your chance to win a set of personalized note cards-ends July.31st.

Warmly,



*All image credits can be found on Shannon's original blog post.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Stationery Giveaway


I've got a fun, little giveaway to start off your week! With social media, texting and e-mail taking over these days, it's no wonder that the written word has become a lost art. I miss the days of handwritten letters, postcards from a friend's exotic destination and even just little cards that say 'I was thinking of  you'. 

To help bring back the written word, Pear Tree Greetings has graciously offered up a set of personalized note cards (set of 12 or 16-depending on the design) to one of my lucky readers. :) They have so many fresh, modern and lovely designs to choose from! You can see the address labels and note card design that I use, which were gifts from my friends at PearTree a few months ago.

**THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED**

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

1. To enter, all you need to do is let me know that you're a follower and leave a comment letting me know the most memorable card/note you've received OR if you can't quite remember that far back, you can visit Pear Tree Greetings  then come back to let me know which design you'd choose if you won.

*Be sure to leave your e-mail address if you do not have a blog, leave a comment fore each entry point you fulfill.

2. For a second entry: Follow me on Twitter and Tweet about this giveaway (link to this post url and provide your twitter ID in comment)

3. For a third entry: Blog about this give away or include a link in your sidebar.

GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Saturday, July.31st 11pm EST.

NUMBER OF WINNERS: One

PRIZE: One set of personalized note cards (12-16 QTY) including shipping.

RULES: The winners will be selected using random.org and announced on 08/02

OPEN TO: U.S. addresses ONLY for this giveaway.

Thank you again to the ever-generous Pear Tree Greetings for making this giveaway possible!

Also, if you need to order some address labels or send some party invitations, Pear Tree is offering my readers free shipping on ANY order over $29. Use code: PEARJUL10

Good Luck and I can't wait to read your comments!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pure Inspiration: Blog Posts I'm Loving!


In my spare time over the past couple days, I've been catching up on a little blog reading. Between delightful decor, fresh & fun ideas, crisp color and fabulous fashion, these posts have provided a lot of inspiration for me. I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you in the hopes that they'll inspire you as well. I hope you'll take a couple minutes to enjoy each one and maybe even discover a new blog or two. You won't be disappointed! :)

1. The Colors of Summer- This blog post that Tara of Between You & Me shares, is pure photo bliss. She takes all the goodness of summer and wraps it up with a pretty bow. All of the color really evokes the feelings of 'happy' and 'fun'.

2. Master Bedroom: Mini Makeover- Kate of Centsational Girl has impeccable taste and her designs are clean, gorgeous and budget friendly. Her master bedroom is stunning and what she did with her walls makes me want to pull out some paint and a brush and get started! This master bedroom is elegant and glamorous.

3. Thirty Before 30-Beth of 'Hello, Splendor' shares her bucket list of sorts as she approaches 30. I love lists like this and what I especially enjoyed is that her list is totally attainable. Maybe this will inspire you to create a list of the things you'd love to complete this summer or finish before the year is up!

4. The Harvest- Erin, the blogger behind Rare & Beautiful Treasures, shares one of her greatest leaps of faith which I found so inspiring. She also has a stunning home that she has created over time with her hubby and always posts the best decor photos! She writes from the heart, loves God and desires to do all that the Lord has for her. As I find myself walking into a place of great change and transition myself, I could really relate. I won't say any more, you need to go read her story!

5. Pink & Green Thursday: Beautiful Things Like You!- I recently discovered the blog Pink Preppy Lilly Lover. Trish  fills this blog with everything lovely. Like me, she adores preppy style which includes the latest from Lilly Pulitzer and anything southern,  lovely and sophisticated. I loved this particular post because there was so much gorgeous eye candy (hop over and you'll see what I mean) and a sweet little surprise at the end too-a great giveaway! Oh, and if you ADORE Paris like I do, you'll love this post she shared back in March-the photos stunning!

Want to see more inspiring blogs? Click HERE. For more dreamy decor photos, click this link.

Have a wonderful weekend and stay cool,  possibly spending time poolside! This past week hit 105 degrees in Orlando which even sounds insane. If anyone is looking for me on Sunday, I can be found at the beach! ;)

xo

Monday, July 19, 2010

Manners Monday: Avoid Asking Favors



Don't ask for favors too casually or too often-recognize the amount of effort you're requesting. If possible, accomplish your task in some other way....be clearly grateful for a favor done. Even if the task appeared easy for the other person, give full credit-the person may be keeping the difficulties or unpleasantness of the effort from you.    ~Janet Gallant

Some favors are simple such as asking a neighbor to borrow their hedge clippers as yours broke mid-way while pruning your shrubs, or borrowing a book from a friend who is done reading their copy (be sure to read this post first before borrowing ANY items) and yet others are very unassuming at first glance but somehow turn into a lot of hassle for the person who agreed to do the favor, whether you are aware of it or not.  I can assure you that nobody will be as enthusiastic to move you into your new place, or help paint your home as you will be. In fact, these are probably two of the favors that people enjoy being asked to do the least. If you are going to ask a grand favor such as this one-be sure to buy those helping you a nice lunch, dinner, or be willing to treat your girlfriends to a manicure after all that hard work as a way to say 'thank you'!

When it comes to friendships, some come to rely on these relationships and might be thinking-well isn't that what friends are for? Some believe and even judge friendships based on what the other person can and is willing to do for them, especially in times of trouble or need. This is dangerous territory. Friendship is really about how you feel when you are with the other person and how they love and encourage you, not about what can be obtained from them. An occasional exchange of favors is almost inevitable in any friendship, but no true friendship is based upon the expectation that friends will be there to provide favors.

Here are 4 Questions to ask Yourself before Requesting a Favor:

1. Do I really need to ask for this favor or am I really just looking for an easy way out?

2. Is what I'm going to ask reasonable, fair and ethical? If the tables were turned-would I be willing to do the same for this person?

3. Will this favor affect anyone else other than myself? Will this put others at a disadvantage in any way? Think about the smaller details and how this will impact this person's family, friends, colleagues or neighbors, etc.

4. If the person I want to ask the favor of agrees, how will this affect our relationship? What about if they don't agree to the favor?

With friendships, asking for favors can strengthen or weaken a relationship. It can create an awkwardness after the favor is asked or fulfilled; or it can build a closer bond, it all depends on the favor itself and how it will impact the person being asked.

Have you ever asked a favor that has strengthened your relationship with someone? Were you on the receiving end of a favor that really put you on the spot or turned into far more than you had bargained for? I'd love to hear your experiences.


CSN Summer Giveaway Winner!


Thank you all for participating in our CSN Stores Summer Giveaway! We had 68 entries in total. CSN Stores is generously providing a $60 Gift Certificate so the winner can purchase whatever they like.

Random.org generated the number. If you were #59, you are the winner!



Congratulations to Pixie of Penny Pinching Pixie! I'll be in touch with you shortly so that my CSN Contact can get e-mail your gift certificate to you.

A special THANK YOU to CSN Stores for sponsoring this fabulous giveaway!!

I'm sorry you couldn't all win but I have another great giveaway up my sleeve that I'll be posting a little later this month, it's something I think you're all going to love. :)

Our regularly scheduled Manners Monday topic will post later today.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Importance of a Well Fitting Bra


Does your bra ride up your back? Do you overflow your cup? Did you know that 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra? Not only can the right bra eliminate sagging, it can make you appear slimmer and makes your clothes fit & look better too.

You may not even realize you’re wearing the wrong size, but when it comes to others, somehow it’s easier to spot. Tell tale signs generally include breasts spilling over the cup material, which leads to a 'rippled' look. Likewise, when the wrong band size is chosen, bras can ride up the back and cause the look of 'back fat'. Some non-supportive bras will cause the look of saggy breasts and  yet sometimes straps dig into the shoulders so much that they cause deep red marks, which look extremely painful.

For women with large cup sizes, this is more of a challenge, often times really large bras can sometimes look more like a 'grandma bra, so prettier bras are preferred but don't support as well as a result. Sometimes, it's just a matter of having someone properly fit you for a bra, so you can determine which works. There really isn't a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to bras. Many brands, as with jeans and dresses, run the gamut on sizes. It's best to try on a variety of different brands and styles in various sizes until you find what works best for your body shape. When you do, buy as many as you can afford in the particular style. Too many women get caught up in having a variety of bras in many colors and cuts, but remember that while variety is fun and flirty, the most important factor of a bra is how it performs, not the particular shade of pink it is. A bra isn't sexy if it doesn't fit you and accentuate what you were born with.

The Fit of a Bra is Determined by 4 Factors:

1. Band size
2. Cup size
3. Strap adjustment
4. How it appears under clothing

If the bra you select looks good under a white fitted tee, it's safe to say that it will look good under anything you wear (with the obvious exception of a strapless dress, evening gown or halter top)-there are other bra options for those, today we're covering the basic, everday bra. Wearing the wrong size can actually affect your shape, posture and overall health. Did you know that the digging in of under wire can actually cause permanent scarring of the breast tissue?

Here's a video that demonstrates what to look for in a well-fitting bra:



How to Measure Yourself

There are a few different ways that you can measure yourself. The preferred option is to get fitted and measured professionally in a bra shop. If you want your measure yourself at home, the best way is to measure your band size first, just under your breasts around your chest with a soft tape measure. For our example, we'll use an average size. If the number you got was 31”, add 5” (add 4” for even numbers and 5” for odd numbers such as this). You know from this math that the actual band size you’ll be shopping for is in fact 36” (31+5).

For the cup size, you’ll want to again, wrap the measuring tape around the fullest part of your breast, pulling it firmly, but not too tight or loose. For example, is this cup size read 34”, to determine what the actual letter is, you would add one cup size for each additional inch. You can see how this works below:

AA= Less than 1", A=1", B=2", C=3', D=4", DD=5", etc.

In this example, because the difference is 2 inches (34-36), it would be a “B”, the size overall would be 36B.

Bra Fitting

When trying bras on, be sure to use the loosest (furthest) hooks as you can tighten as the bra loosens and stretches over time which it naturally will, but if you begin on the tightest hook, you won’t be able to do so, which limits its lifespan.

Your nipple point should be halfway between your shoulder and your elbow when looking at yourself in a mirror (from a side view). It is okay if they are higher, but if they are lower, it is a clear sign that you are wearing the wrong bra that does not provide the correct amount of support.

Under wire must sit flat and not dig into your skin in any way. The center point of your bra must lay flush against your chest, without gaping. Likewise the band shouldn’t be so easy to pull it back, that may indicate it’s too loose. Breasts should fill the cup with no excess material. Skin should not be spilling above the cup of the bra either. Straps should not dig in or leave red marks-an easy way to avoid this is by making sure 2 fingers fit underneath the strap between it and your skin, buying a bra with wider straps if you have a large breast size. If you have visible back fat, it may just mean that you actually need to go up a cup size and in fact down a band size, because the band has slid too far up your back as it was too large to begin with.

Weight gain, weight loss, age and post-pregnancy may alter your bra size over time as well as any breast surgeries.

Test Your Bra

Pull your elbows back and you should not have any spillage over the cup. Raising your arms in the air wire should sit firmly against the skin and should encase the breast. How does the bra feel?



Caring for Your Bras

Once you find a bra that fits perfectly and is really comfortable, you should invest in buying as many as you can afford. You should have at least 5 quality bras. What you'll probably realize quickly is that you truly get what you pay for when it comes to a good bra. Over time, wash and wear will cause the elasticity to break down, but if you are alternating through several bras, they’ll last much longer.

Always be sure to either hand wash bras, or wash them on the gentle or hand wash cycle inside a delicate garment bag to prevent friction against other clothing that could lead them to wear out quicker. Air drying will help preserve your bras longer as heat fades, wears down and eventually destroys the very fibers of the material causing them to stretch and even get holes.

If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant (or know someone that is) or are currently nursing right now, I found a wonderful video that explains exactly when to buy nursing bras and how to get measured for them, so you won't feel left out here. Linda explains everything really well.



While I love lace and feminine details, my favorite bras are always those that are seamless both inside and out, which allows any top or dress to lay flush. Those which add a little 'umph' never hurt either, no matter what your age is. Although I have certain bras I reserve for my hubby which are deemed 'cleavage' bras, I wouldn't even dream of wearing them in public. While I think it's great to accentuate what you have, less is always more, especially when it comes to how much one can see of your chest. :)

How about you? Are you due for some bra shopping? Do you have several that you just love and hope never become discontinued? Are you still struggling to find the correct fit? If so, I hope today's post will be just what you need to help you find a bra with the perfect fit!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Be Bold, Achieve Greatness!



"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom." ~Anais Nin

Do you every feel frightened or inclined to pull back when it comes to  possible future opportunities? Most people don't enjoy change-many North Americans are quite content to remain in the same job position, at the same company as long as they can, many times so it won't disturb their current lifestyle or finances. They have a routine down, they know what to expect, they feel comfortable in their home, enjoy their neighbors and friends and couldn't envision switching it all up for a season of change, even if the trade off is for something greater, something different than the way they've done things. There is always fear in the unknown.

This is not to say that everyone has to make a drastic change in their life, or move half way around the world to accomplish it. Having said that, I believe there comes a time for everyone in life, where the risk to remain as that bud, to stay where you are at, not make a change, not move forward becomes far more painful than the risk it takes to launch out into the deep, try something new, do something different and bloom into all that you were intended to be.

We've all heard many times that at the end of our days, we will not regret the things that we did do,  but rather the ones that we never pursued, allowed ourselves to succeed at. Even if we fail, isn't our life story so much more interesting and exciting because of it? So many great successes like Walt Disney, went bankrupt multiple times before creating the success that he has and is still recognized for today. The process of learning and achieving is an unending one, it is only us that put limits on ourselves in terms of where we desire to go.

My husband is a life coach and one thing that he encourages all of his clients to do is live boldly, not make rash decisions, but rather dream big, pursue life passions and live life to the fullest! Many people stay in a stuck state and years down the road ask themselves why they never started that business, applied for their dream job, moved to the exotic destination of their dreams, traveled to see the world and in the word's of Kelly Clarkson, take a chance, make a change and  break away.

Her song, Breakaway, has been on my mind lately as I move forward into the next season of my life. I'm no stranger to change. Four years ago, I did just that, leaving all of my friends, family and even my career at the time behind in Toronto, Canada, to embrace my new married life with its many changes here in Florida. Today, there are many decisions hubby and I are praying about and currently making here behind the scenes, which will involve change, possibly a move and although fear of the unknown creeps in from time to time, I'm excited for what the future will offer! Take a moment, watch the video, or close your eyes and listen to the words and see if they speak to you.



What about you? Have you been feeling an inner leading to branch out and do something different, make a necessary change or maybe you've bravely launched out into a new opportunity recently. I'd love to hear where you're at! Happiness is always in our hands! :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Manners Monday: Valuing the Property of Others


Hi ladies! Sorry for my lack of blog posts lately, I've been busy finishing up some design plans for a few clients that have kept me pretty busy. I'm finally in the clear for a little while and happy to get back on track with the Manners Monday series and more regular posts. If you missed the first 2 posts of the series, you can click to read all about Manners: The Basics and How to Avoid Overstaying your Welcome to get caught up.

It has become quite apparent to me over the years that nobody will ever value our own belongings the way that we will. Whether it is respect for our home, car or that cute little black dress we loan a friend, it would seem that if it doesn't belong to them, it is (in many cases) treated as such, 'someone else's stuff'.

My parents taught me to respect other's property and as such, I always do my very best to return items promptly and in the same (if not better) condition than when they were given to me.

Here are some general tips that will keep you ahead of the game and thinking about how to properly care for the property of others.

Respecting What Isn't Yours

1. Borrowing Clothing-If you are ever loaned any garments, do have them laundered or dry cleaned professionally after use prior to returning them. That is the least you can do since your friend paid the price of purchasing the piece that you just wore. If you stain or damage the item in any way, be prepared to compensate the other person for the item. Don't try to pretend you didn't notice what happened. Be upfront, your friend will respect you for your honesty, even if they are a bit miffed at the time.

Back in high school a friend of mine was walking home from my place one night and it had become chilly. She asked if she could borrow a sweater. I gave her one of my newer sweaters that I had recently got for Christmas and she agreed to return it the next time we saw each other. A week had gone by and my new sweater was seen on one of her close friends (we went to the same school). I found it she had then loaned it to her friend who liked my sweater but she never mentioned it was mine. Needless to say, not only did she not fess up to loaning out my sweater, we later fell out of friendship for other reasons and I never got it back.

2. Just Visiting-While visiting in someones home, cottage or boat, it is never appropriate to put your feet up on furniture and get comfortable unless your host encourages you to do so. It's also important to respect their privacy-never snoop in medicine cabinets, drawers or kitchen cabinets without first being instructed to do retrieve something. When it comes to your arrival, always knock or ring the bell, never walk in unless you are given the okay. Always use a coaster for drinks and a napkin. If you spill anything in someone else's home it is best not to try and hide it-inform the host immediately and apologize profusely. They would best know how to handle water on their wood floors or red wine on their light colored upholstery. Do offer to clean up what you have damaged and if need be, payment may be in order. After all, this is not your home and you are responsible for your actions.

A good friend of mine confessed to me that certain friend's don't respect her stuff. A couple who regularly attends her parties knows of their no-shoes policy (it's the same one we have in our own home) and yet instead of these guests taking off their shoes temporarily, they left them on to walk through to the back patio, traipsing over her one-of-a kind rug brought home from a memorable trip. She had asked a few times and then resigned to the fact that they just didn't 'get it'.

3. Car Pooling- You can see the entire post I wrote on carpool etiquette for a full rundown, but as it pertains to spending time in someone else's car, here are a few important tips. Always wear your seat belt, do not ever eat or drink in someones car unless they give you the green light, never change the driver's radio station unless they've asked you to do so, avoid tracking dirt, gravel or the like into the vehicle and be careful opening and closing the door as to not ding the door. Always err on the side of gentleness-there is no need to slam the door unless it's a heavy door that requires it, the same holds true for the trunk. Be sure to offer some money if someone is driving you around town, to help cover the cost of gas and wear & tear on the car.

4. Borrowing a Car- If you are borrowing someone else's car, drive with the utmost safety in mind. Don't change their pre-programmed radio station or switch out their CD's for yours which could become scratched. Filling up the gas tank back to where it started from is the least you can do. You may even want to fill it up for the person who was kind enough to loan you the car, or instead take it for a touchless car wash to show your appreciation. Be sure to remove any trash or items that you brought into the car.

5. Books, CD's and DVD's-If someone has loaned you some of their media, be sure to return it scratch-free (or free from highlighter and dog-eared corners) and in a timely manner. Books are probably one of the most highly shared items with the borrower often forgetting that they have them. If you are the one loaning your books be sure to have a nameplate sticker, address label or pen you name into the inside cover or pages so the borrower remembers who they acquired it from. It's always far better to return something before someone has to ask for it-3 weeks is a good rule of thumb for media items unless you've already made other arrangements. This timeframe also applies to most other borrowd items.

How about you? Have you ever loaned something to someone and never got it back or received it in a lesser condition upon its return?Maybe you were pleasantly surprised by the wonderful state it was returned in?

If you haven't entered yet, don't forget to enter to win $60 to CSN Stores! You can enter every day!

Thanks for reading!

XO

Thursday, July 8, 2010

$60 CSN Stores Summer Giveaway!


*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*

I feel so honored that CSN stores has selected me to be one of their Preferred Bloggers and as such, they have offered to provide yet another one of my valued readers with $60 to spend any way they want in ANY of their over 200+ stores! This means you could buy multiple items in several of their online stores and it will all be waiting in a single shopping cart-got to love that!

They offer so many amazing products. So whether you are getting married or moving into your first place and are shopping for a new bed, looking to update your existing home decor, need a new set of luggage for an upcoming trip or would love to get a stylish new set of dinner plates, CSN stores has got you covered! Click HERE to see their vast variety of online shops. :)

Here are a few things that I have my eye on:








Now for the details!

THE PRIZE: One $60 CSN stores gift certificate

HOW TO ENTER: Become a public follower of this blog or mention that you already are.

EXTRA ENTRIES: {Leave a separate comment for each of the following and your e-mail if you don't have a blog.}

1. One entry for adding me to your blogroll. (leave a comment also if you already had me listed there)

2. One entry for adding my blog button to your blog (found in sidebar, leave a comment also if you already have it in your sidebar, also worth one extra entry.) *I had a problem making my giveaway button available for you. You can simply copy the image for it in my sidebar at the top and html code would be the link to this post, if you save it as a 'picture' under gadgets it will work.

3. One entry for tweeting about this giveaway (link to this post & provide your twitter ID in comment)

4. One entry for blogging about this giveaway (doesn't need to be long post, any mention will do)

*If you enter all 5 ways, you can leave one additional entry comment on this post each day for the next 10 days!

GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Sunday, July.18th at Midnight EST

NUMBER OF WINNERS: One

RULES: The winners will be selected using random.org and announced on 06/19.

SHIPPING TO: United States and Canada ONLY.

**Shipping charges are not included unless otherwise stated in the item description. In the case of Canadian addresses, international fees for certain products may apply. **

A big THANK YOU goes out to our friends at CSN Stores for offering such a wonderful giveaway and making this possible!

If you are curious too see what our last CSN winner took home, pretty pillows were the name of the game. There you can see some great pillow options that are offered at one of their stores, AllModern.com.
Good Luck!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Guest Blogger Leslie on Thoughtful Hostess Gifts


I hope you all had a restful 4th of July weekend! I've invited Guest Blogger Leslie Blumenstein back and today she'll be sharing some thoughtful hostess gifts to continue the theme here of entertaining and etiquette. You might remember last month when she shared her tips for giving great toasts which was timely for many of you that commented.

Many people are stumped as to what to bring as a hostess gift when they visit for a dinner party or stay with friends for a long weekend. They don't want to break the bank but do want to avoid bringing something that the host my deem useless to them. Leslie provides some classic and inexpensive ideas, some that you may not have thought of.

Thoughtful Hostess Gifts


Though not required, a thoughtful hostess gift is always appreciated. It is a polite gesture to thank your hostess for having you. Here are some thoughtful hostess gift ideas to consider next time you attend a party or event.

Farmer’s Market Finds

Local honey, veggies, fruits and crafts make excellent hostess gifts. It’s also a great way to support local growers and business owners.
Gardening Supplies

This is a nice gift for the hostess that has a green thumb. A new gardening book or some new gloves and a few veggie starts are a great hostess gifts for a lunch or brunch event.
Wine and Cheese

You can rarely go wrong with a nice cheese and wine pairing as a hostess gift. Try a sparking wine or champagne for the warm summer weather
Personalized Thank You Notes

Design your hostess beautiful, personalized thank you cards. It is always handy to have stylish thank you notes on hand!

Custom Recipe Book

This gift will take a little effort but is something any hostess would treasure. Put together your favorite recipes. Add in photos if you have them. Tailor the recipes to the recipes to the tastes of your hostess.

Fresh Baked Brownies

Unless your hostess doesn’t care for chocolate, homemade brownies are the perfect little gift to give. Don’t worry if you are not a baker. I have always been intimidated by baking but this recipe is a winner.

Brownie Recipe

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar or 1 cup brown, 1 cup white
3 eggs
4 (1 ounce) chopped squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 T cold coffee
Splash of milk/cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Melt chocolate in double boiler (metal bowl over simmering water) add in milk and coffee and stir.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (120 degrees C). Grease an 8x8 inch baking pan.

2. in a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in the unsweetened chocolate and vanilla until well blended. Mix in the flour, and then the walnuts. Spread batter evenly into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 40 min (cooking time may vary based on your oven) in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack before cutting into bars.

Plate them on a pretty serving platter for the hostess to keep. Dust with powdered sugar and add a few fresh raspberries too.

Quality Olive Oil

If your hostess is enjoys cooking, a high quality bottle of olive oil is a something every cook can use. Check out your local cooking store or higher end grocer for a great selection.

Enjoy these gift ideas!

Leslie is a work at home mom of one busy little guy. She is a regular contributor to PurpleTrail.com, a site dedicated to amazing invitations, photobooks and party planning ideas and has been recently featured on Jackie Fo, Birthday Girl Blog, Craft Monkey, and Little Shindigs. Her love for entertaining has led her to become an expert on budget party planning without sacrificing style. From baby showers to back yard barbecues, she’s done it all – without breaking the bank.

Thank you Leslie for sharing these creative ideas and being a guest contributor once again. Now you have me craving brownies! I may just have to make some later. ;)


Looking for more hostess gift ideas? You can find another list of suggestions in a post I wrote last summer titled Be a Grateful Guest.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Are You Addicted to the Internet?


No matter what store I'm shopping in, there seems to be one common theme-people with their heads glued to their phones. They are either walking and texting (usually not looking where they're going) or they're busy composing an e-mail, chatting up a storm, often completely oblivious towhat is going on around them, including their own children's needs and cries for attention.

Just last week I was in HomeGoods and a lady was chatting away and looking at some items on a clearance cart. As she tried to keep the phone from falling, she in turn broke something in the store! She looked mortified and quickly closed her phone and threw it in her purse, after apologizing to the store clerk. Then there is the whole problem of 'texting while driving' which is quickly becoming a huge danger. I found out that a friend of a friend just died while texting and driving a couple of months ago. So sad, he was in his early 30's-so avoidable and completely unnecessary.

I have a question for you. Are you addicted to your e-mail or the internet? I'll be honest, I think I am. Perhaps not to the extreme that many are, but this article on breaking the cycle of e-mail addiction really resonated with me. Guess what? It turns out that the addiction all comes down to one main need, which is instant gratification.

Back in the day we waited weeks for hand written letters and longed to hear a friend's voice on the phone, today we can text, instant message, e-mail, call from anywhere in the world, skype, or write someone via social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace.

Three years ago my hubby got me a Blackberry curve for my birthday. I loved it-at first. Then the constant barrage of e-mails daily was enough to drive me crazy. I run a design business and while I do my best to respond to all of  my customers, I don't want to be accessible 24/7, nor is is necessary. I draw the line  at client contact on weekends-I don't answer business calls, and after a year of owning that  new phone, I turned off the data feature and saved myself a bunch of money in the process. A year after that I cancelled my phone plan when the contract was up and now use a pay as you go plan, making the majority of my calls from my home office. Sure it became less convenient, but I was so glad I did. In no time at all I was once again accustomed to not having instant information at my fingertips. I never wanted to be that person that was obsessed with their 'crackberry' and now it is worse with so many people having iPhones.

Then, five months ago I decided to remove myself from facebook (you might remember my post on my Facebook Sabbatical) because it was a distraction in my life at a time when I had so much to focus on as well as a few other reasons which I explain there. I gained more time back in my day but  it was unfortunately replaced with Twitter and more time spent blogging. LOL. Having said that I only spend 10 minutes per day max on twitter and I try to write most of my blog posts in the late evening after my work day and spending time with my hubby. At then end of the day, I think blogging is far more productive than frittering away time looking at photos and checking facebook statuses. I like to learn and reading blogs allows me to learn more about what I love-writing, crafting, yard sales, decorating, cooking, gardening, baking and gives me inspirational ideas too. This is all something that facebook never offered (via my personal account) so all in all I think it was a smart move.

My main concern is getting a handle on e-mail and web surfing. I have several e-mail accounts and while I don't check all of them each day, my main 2 accounts get checked multiple times daily when I'm on my laptop. I think I need to go on an e-mail and internet fast or detox of sorts. I find myself searching for decor ideas, reading blogs, checking my bank balance, renewing my library books, reading new articles, etc. While many of those things do save me time and hassle, I need to better define boundaries for myself.

As this Harvard Business Review article suggests, there are ways to slowly ease yourself away from the constant 'checking' of e-mail. Having said all of this, I am going to begin today. I will only check e-mail first thing in the morning  and again at 10pm-that is it. I hope to minimize the time I spend surfing by giving myself very specific limits. I already leave my cell and laptop behind when I travel for pleasure, so I'll keep that in place too. I'm looking forward to less online distractions and more time working on my home and spending time with hubby who could probably also use an internet detox, but I'll leave that up to his discretion.  My greatest hope is that at a time when so much is happening here at casa Davis, that I can find and maintain a healthy level of balance.

How about YOU? Do you feel compelled to constantly check your text messages, cell phone, facebook account or e-mail? Do you find that it affects the time you have available for other important things?

Happy Canada Day to all of my Canadian readers and friends! :)

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