Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Perserverance



~Charles Haddon Spurgeon


A few weeks ago I was driving past a local church and the sign outside had the quote above on it. For some reason it brought a tear to my eye as I thought about it. A tiny little snail, God's creation slugging along millimeter by millimeter watching everything around it moving quickly and yet it was moving so slowly. It had a goal, one focus, to get to the ark. It eventually made it little by little, day by day.

Do you ever feel a little like that snail? Sometimes I think about how far I've come in terms of my goals, dreams and accomplishments but yet there are still so many things that I want to do, achieve and become. Some days you might be blessed with a mini miracle in the form of a life changing phone call, a big break at work or you  might open up that credit card statement that finally reads the $0 balance you've been dreaming about for years. Others might be the same old, same old regular days that are filled with problems all of their own and you might be wondering how you'll ever achieve your dreams, repair your marriage, get through to a friend, get your child out of diapers, whatever it may be, the list goes on.

The important thing to remember is the big picture. I've never met or read about a successful person in life that wasn't committed, persistent or that didn't perservere when they were faced with life's toughest challenges. We will all have our up and down days. We will all have times when we might even feel like giving up. This one thing I know for sure, we are all winners if we keep on trying, stay in the game and learn from our past mistakes.

You can't move forward when you are focused on what's in the rearview mirror. If there are past unresolved issues in your life holding you back from what you desire from your future today, I highly encourage you to embrace them, work through them so you can be all that you want to become. A friend recently told me that some previous beliefs she had about herself  kept her from persuing her dreams of running her own business. Don't let your fears or past hangups keep you from living your dreams.

Whenever you're feeling knocked down, defeated or hopeless just think of the little snail, if it can reach the ark, you can perservere and reach your goals in life too!

What dreams or goals do you have right now that feel a bit impossible at the moment?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Becoming Less Wasteful


What is your shopping style? Are you someone who grabs the foods that attacts your senses at that very moment, often lingering before heading to the checkout? Maybe you are someone who makes a list and strictly sticks to it? Perhaps you are like me-write a list and pick up everything you need then add a few more items that happen to be on sale that can be stored in the pantry so long as they fit the grocery budget? Whatever your preference is, I wondered if you had though about this side of shopping...

What do you think happens when you shop for groceries and grab that package of ground beef, let's say, then change your mind on the way to the checkout and dump it into the dairy case? Do you know where the frozen and cold items go that you return to a storeeven though they've come straight from your home?

I hadn't thought about it too much until I was shopping one day at my local Super Target and had a return to make. A woman ahead of me was returning steak, some cheese and a few other items. I watched the customer service rep dump the items in a buggy behind the counter. Since I'm the curious type, I asked what they do with the items later. I had wondered if there was a chance that meat sitting out ever made it back to the cold storage where it could be re-purchased as that may post potential health risks. Thankfully it does not.

However, to my amazement, not only do they not return it to the meat section but everything returned in the store and everything that gets picked by store shoppers up while shopping and left in another area of the store, like say a container of yogurt, all have to be trashed! What?! That really turned my stomach. We have people all over the world without food but we're throwing things out right, left and center. I understand the health side of it and am glad to know that innocent people won't get sick from consuming items that have made it down to room temperature and back for sale. The part that really bothered me was the in-store shopping bit.

If I think back to my own shopping, it's generally not cold/frozen items that I change my mind on while at the checkout lane if I do leave an item behind. However, I do see a lot of those items in their improper places in the store while I'm shopping which really made me think. The customer service rep wanted to assure me of the safety of Target's food and further provided details that if cold items like cheese are found in other areas of the store such as in the cold prepared sandwich areas that they don't belong in, the store employees have to assume that when they come across the cheese that it may have been in someone's basket for up to an hour and that it may potentially be unsafe. Wow, what a lot of waste and that is just one of MANY stores that do this.



The good news is we can help fix this problem. What can you do? The best thing to do is number one stick to a list, then you won't be as likely to grab random items that you may later leave behind. The second is to make sure that if you decide against a cold item that you've had for less than an hour, that you return it to it's home in the store which really takes under a minute and is well worth it in the end. This ensures that it won't get tossed. Think before you return. Obviously if milk has gone sour or a particular item was past its expiry date when you purchased it, you're entitled to your refund or exchange, but be mindful of what happens when other cold items are returned.

As with most things in life, it's not just the wasted food that could feed the needy that was the biggest issue for me, or the money lost by the store, it really goes much deeper. Everything is interconnected on this planet and I really took a moment to stop and think about the poor animals such as the cows that were not only slaughtered to begin with for their meat but then never even so much as got consumed. They were killed for nothing. :(  The other thing that crossed my mind was that agriculture has the highest CO2 footprint compared to anything else. This means all of the pesticides, fertilizers, water, food for those animals that don't get consumed were essentially all a waste too and helped further contribute to our global warming problem without having any benefit whatsoever.

With everything so easily accessible, pre-packaged and ready to purchase sometimes we are all just trying to buy our groceries, head home, cook for our families and get through the next task. We don't always think about what goes on in the store or on the farm. It is important though to stop and not only be mindful of our actual purchases but what goes on behind the scenes before our food ever makes it to our plates or back to the store if we've changed our minds. A great documentary called Food, Inc. was a real eye-opener for me, it can be rented at Blockbuster.

Of course an equally important consideration is of the many items that get purchased but never eaten, it is said that over 33% of all food purchased (as is the case with the above image regarding the U.K.) ends up being thrown away. A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that Americans generate roughly 30 million tons of food waste each year. You can offset this by composting your fruit and veggie scraps that would otherwise head to the landfills.

It's important to wash and freeze fruit an veggies that start to turn and quickly use up the items that will expire the quickest vs. eating what we 'feel like' for dinner without a though about what might happen to it in a few days. You can do this buy checking your fridge and freezer every few days and moving items like yogurt, meat, milk etc., closest to the front that will expire first so that you and your family will grab those first. It saves resources and saves you money too! Click HERE for more great ways to become less wasteful.

What steps do you take  in your home to become less wasteful of food and resources?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Price of Beauty



Has anyone else watched Jessica Simpson's new show called The Price of Beauty? If you haven't heard of it, she is jet setting across the globe to learn what women around the world consider to be beautiful and the show can be seen on VH1. Jessica got the idea for the show after being ridiculed so much for gaining 10 pounds and being told she was wearing mom jeans shown below. People have scrutinized her fluctuating weight, putting pressure on her. Living in North America we're all pretty much exposed to what we see on TV, magazines, tabloids, etc. We live in a society where many strive for the pursuit of perfection and some go to the extreme.



So far I've seen 2 episodes where she and her hairdresser/BFF Ken Paves and friend Cacee have toured through France and the most recent was to Thailand. I was saddened by what I saw in France. The focus was on fashion, runway models and an ex-model who spends her days warning others about anorexia as she has withered away to a mere skeleton of her former self, as she was continually told to lose more weight. She is lucky to still be alive as the doctors told her she was too thin to live at just 85 pounds.

This last episode which was filmed in Thailand was interesting (although I've seen much of what they've shown in magazines and other programs over the years) but also heartbreaking. The women of Thailand similar to other Asian cultures view light skin as a sign of wealth and beauty, tanned skin is looked down upon as it usually indicates that the person works outdoors, does manual labor, etc.

Due to this popular look many women use whitening creams. One particular woman had noticed the cream worked but in combination with the sunlight it was burning her skin. Her once beautiful skin had become patchy with dark spots and permanently damaged. She herself did not like to be seen in public, which is such a shame as she was formerly a singer. To make matters worse her husband left her and she wishes more than anything that she could turn back time and undo what she chose to do in the name of being seen as beautiful.

It's a difficult world we ladies live in, but it can be made easier. We can choose to turn out backs on what society expects, demands and puts pressure on us to live up to. With one known celebrity Heidi Montag getting 10 surgeries in one day at 23 years old to 'make it' in Hollywood, it makes me ask, where does it end? Like becoming more green and eating healthier, we have the power to move in a direction that will enhance and improve our lives. We don't need to walk around looking disheveled and unkempt but we need to decide what we are most comfortable with aside from external pressures and be prepared to draw the line and say enough is enough.

In my late teens and early twenties staying fit and thin was a priority, and being fit and healthy most certainly still is now but my outlook on health is totally different today. I ask myself questions like, 'What is my blood pressure reading? Low, thankfully! What is my body mass index? How much water am I drinking?  Did I put sunscreen on this morning? Have I been eating my recommended amount of fiber? Does the deodorant that I want to buy have aluminum and propylene glycol, etc.?

I love dressing well and making the most of what God has given me just like the next gal but I care far less about other people's opinions now than I used to. Maybe it's because I'm older, maybe because I live in a more casual place- Florida-where people are generally more relaxed. Perhaps it's because I'm married now but I'd like to believe that it's because I just feel more secure within myself now that gaining an extra 5 pounds here or there wouldn't really phase me. In fact, I don't even own a scale, I determine my healthy weight by how well my clothes fit, if they're getting tight, something needs to change. I don't beat myself up about it, tomorrow is a new day to make better choices and I go from there. Beauty truly comes from within and if we as women spent as much time on the inside as we do trying to perfect the outside, we'd truly become the women we desire to be. I encourage you to work on your mind and your internal health and think about what YOU truly want for yourself. If society had no rules and expectations, what would you be most comfortable with?

I was thinking back to some funny things I've done in the name of beauty, thankfully they were pretty minor as I'm not an extreme person by any means, but I thought it would be great if we had a little sharing session, feel free to tell me yours too!

I am not an eyebrow waxing kind of gal. I like to take my time and pluck with a good pair of tweezers and some great lighting. For some reason I got an idea in my head that if I just went to a nice spa and had someone wax my eyebrows that perhaps I could get a great arch like I see so many women have. Mine do not have much of an arch and I've always loved how it opens up the eye area. So here I was a day before our cruise getting it done for the first time.

The lady who did it had rather thin eyebrows and looking back I would have probably preferred someone whose eyebrows I actually liked. The minute it was done and I looked in the mirror I hated them. Thank God hair grows back and I knew they would but it would take some time. You see, she had trimmed too much off the inside area and my eyebrows looked pretty short with a large gap in between. Thankfully I have light eyebrows and I was able to use a light eyebrow pencil to help that missing patch along. LOL. Everytime I look at our cruise photos I laugh. Driving home from the spa that day though I cried, yup I did. I called the hubbs and he commented, "I thought you were going to get a manicure?!" I did that too afterward but I did the waxing on a whim beforehand. He has always told me not to change anything, that he likes me the way I am. After that experience I will never do that again!

My second story involves whitening my teeth with crest whitestrips. To make a long story really short you are supposed to wear them for 30 minutes. I used them with y clear retainer overtop so the gooey gel-like stuff wouldn't make such a mess in my mouth. I got cozy and curled up in bed with a book at about 11pm. Do you see where this is going?? I fell asleep!!! I woke up the next morning and my teeth looked very white but they hurt. In fact they were in pain for about three days and were so sensitive that I could barely eat! It was not intentional and I was actually really scared that I had done permanent damage to my enamel. All I kept thinking was, "How could I be so stupid?" It turned out alright in the end but again, it just goes to show what we are willing to put outselves through all in the name of being beautiful.

Are you still with me? I just realized that was one l-o-n-g post. Hopefully you're still awake. Now it's your turn (feel free to post anonymously if it's an embarrasing one) to share with us, I want to hear your stories! What are your thoughts on beauty?

Thank you all for continuing to enter our current giveaway. If you haven't entered yet, you still have a few days left!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour 2010 is Tonight!


Have you heard about or participated in earth hour before? If not, tonight is the big night! What is earth hour some of you might be asking? It's a time where everyone around the globe turns out their lights for 1 full hour at 8:30pm (their local time) in an effort to conserve energy on a global level. It makes a huge impact and countries all over the world will be 'attending' the big party!

The last couple years my husband and I have made it a point to participate, especially since we are all about doing our part to help our planet. We typically prepare a meal before hand and then at 8:30pm we'll sit down to our candlelight dinner followed by some board game time with more candles nearby. I look forward to it each year, this year will be a little different since hubby won't be available at that time so I'll be dining solo and I'll probaby follow it up with a good design magazine with a few lit candles nearby. :)

I just found out that there are even Earh Hour parties! Ooo, I so want to attend! How fun would that be, creating an eco-friendly party, serving whole, healthy foods followed by some candlelight mingling.

The biq question is, will you be joining  from 8:30pm-9:30pm? I hope you'll participate with me and the world as we celebrate our precious planet earth! Together one, by one we can make a powerful impact!



Here is a great video that shares the importance of going 'lights out' for an hour and how your decision can make a difference. Last year 4,000 cities in 88 countries participated!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Flavor Your Water The Natural Way


Most women I know enjoy drinking anything but water. The truth is we need quite a bit of water to not only keep our organs and skin hydrated but we need to flush out pollutants and toxins too.

Over the past couple weeks I've been amping up my water intake again but I have a little trick to make it more flavorful. Because I know of the side effects of such ingredients like aspartame and acesulfame-K (potassium), I refuse to drink such water enhancers like crystal light. But I've got some natural options to make water-dare I say- fun.

Here are some all-natural ways to gently flavor your water so you too can drink more of the good stuff. Try these in a large glass pitcher of filtered water (a brita works well), then let it sit for about 15 minutes in the fridge to 'marinate' and enjoy!



1. Fresh cucumber slices-I got this tip from a spa many years ago and it adds such a refreshing and unique taste to the water, perfect for a hot summer day.



2. Orange, Tangerine or blood orange slices-Not only do these add a little bit of sweetness and zing to your water but they look so pretty in a pitcher, perfect for a spring or summer BBQ!



3. (2) tbsp of pure fruit juice such as grape juice or pomegranate per glass. This gives the water a little color and flavor to make you believe you are drinking something other than just water. Many women I know drink one or more glasses of juice or iced tea per day. So, if you simply divide it up over the day you can still enjoy it but this way helps you consume more pure water in the process.



4. Lemon/Lime wedges or spearmint- Lemons are the old favorite and I love the zip they add to water-so refreshing. They too like oranges look pretty when sliced up in a pitcher as do limes. Fresh mint adds a sophisticated appeal and a cool taste sensation to the water.

Did you know that the amount of water we are supposed to consumer is our body weight in pounds divided by 14? This does not include dehydrating days out in the sun or your daily workout, so add more for those days. It may seem like a lot but it is specific to our body mass, this is why a set number like 8 glasses per day just doesn't work, we are all different in our size and therefore our water requirement.

By using a filled pitcher you should find it much easier to consume more water in your day. Keep one at your desk or in the fridge and you'll be surprised at how much more you'll drink. It almost becomes like a goal to finish the pitcher, then the next, etc. Before you know it, this will become your very healthy daily habit!

Do you like to flavor you water? What is your favorite way to do it?

Here's to your health!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thank YOU!



Ah, using the words 'please' and 'thank you', sort of a Kindergarten 101, no? I'm simply amazed at the lack of manners that many people in our society display. Everything from the person who is oblivious to someone holding the door for them, not saying please while shopping in a store and asking for help to completely forgetting to thank a friend or family member for something sweet that they have gone out of their way to do.

Classy women remember to thank others, in fact they make it a priority. Especially when it comes to family, friends, colleagues, business partners and neighbors it is always a great idea to either send a personal hand written note after an event, verbally acknowledge the particular person in question as soon as you can or go out of your way to return a favor for someone who has done something unexpected, helpful or special.

I wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you-my readers. Thank you for your comments which always brighten my day and make me smile and sometimes laugh out loud. I really love reading what is on your mind, hearing your opinion and knowing that you care enough to leave me a little note. I enjoy your reader requests too. For all of you who have e-mailed me with requests or questions, thank you. It is my pleasure to answer them with the intention of helping you as well as many other women that come across the very post that you inspired.

Thank you too for just being you and popping over to read my posts, for following my little blog and sharing some love by grabbing my blog button, visiting me on twitter or linking to me. I appreciate you spreading the word and allowing others find me too in this big blog world! :)

Last week when I wrote about Yard Sale Savvy, my blogger friend from Simply Luxurious was super sweet and linked to me in her weekly Sunday 'cups of tea' post. I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank her for including my post. Hop on over and check her out, she's got a fun blog worth visiting. I look forward to sharing one of her fashion posts this week that I think you'll all enjoy.

And for all of you who have been following me and are wondering what I actually found at the big yard sale, it's coming-I PROMISE. I'm going to share it with you very soon but first I'm busy getting ready for my own yard sale this weekend!

So, today's post is dedicated to you, my classy friends from the blog-o-sphere. Thank you for just being YOU!

Love you guys!

  xo


* Thank You image above compliments of this site.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Starbucks Freebie!



Ladies, I hope your week is off to a great start. I have something that might make your Tuesday a little sweeter. It's Free Pasty Day at Starbucks! I follow them on Twitter and they have a fabulous coupon that they tweeted yesterday which is good tomorrow ONLY until 10:30am and while supplies last.

{Must purchase a brewed or blended drink to receive the free pastry.}



It's good in both U.S. and Canada. So print out the coupon from the link below and bring it in for your free goody!



Enjoy!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Spring Giveaway!


I apologize for the lack of posts this past week as all of this stunning weather has kept me outdoors! I hope you are all enjoying the first day of this glorious new season. All of this sunshine and warm breezy weather has got me excited and I'm feeling generous, so what better way to celebrate the first day of spring than with a fabulous giveaway!

Want to feel like a spring chicken? It's time to leave the harsh winter weather behind and focus on not only looking good but feeling more youthful and radiant. This month's product giveaway will help you do just that.

One lucky reader will win a jar of one of my favorite facial products: Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief 1 oz gel valued at $50.00! It's allergy-tested, oil-free, 100% fragrance free and safe for all skin types.



Without further ado let's get to the details, shall we?

*****THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*****

GIVEAWAY DETAILS

HOW TO ENTER: Become a public follower of this blog and leave a comment below to let me know you did or to tell me that you already are. {Be sure to provide a way to be contacted via your blog or leave your e-mail address}

EXTRA ENTRIES: {Leave a separate comment for each of the following}

1. Blog about this giveaway OR create a link from your blog to this post's URL.
2. Follow me on Twitter: Classy_Woman
3. Tweet about this giveaway.
4. Grab and add my blog button to your blog (found in the sidebar).

GIVEAWAY CLOSES: Saturday, April.3rd at Midnight EST

NUMBER OF WINNERS: One

RULES: The winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Easter (April.4th)

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

So there you have it, 5 ways to win. :) Good luck ladies, I hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Potterybarn Spring Decor Inspiration




I have always loved Potterybarn's elegant and yet unfussy style, and while their furniture and accessories are not always the most affordable for everyone, many of these items could be sourced from a discount store or even made by hand for a fraction of the price.

To me these are purely spring inspiration and I came across them while working on a redesign project for a new client who is looking to 'spring-ify' her new home.


LOVELY SPRING DECOR



How cute are these bird nest place card holders?! These would be great for not only Easter but they would also be adorable and appropriate for a spring baby shower luncheon.




I always love the look of clean, crisp, hotel style bedding. It is classic, timeless and elegant. Potterybarn does a great job with their grand embroidered duvet set. It looks very similar to a set I have in out guest room at the moment. I love it as much as the day I bought it and at just $40 for the set at Marshall's, how could I not?



I think that these Bethany organic sheer drapes are so pretty. I'm actually thinking about getting some for my own home. The colors are so soft and soothing and would work well in any neutral space.



This little nest sentiment lumbar pillow is super cute and cozy. You can pair it with a multiplicity of other colored  pillows or keep it soft by introducing pale blues and cream. It is the perfect addition to any sofa.




While my own personal decorating style does not include a home  filled with antiques, I love the idea of choosing a few special pieces of furniture and/or great accessories like these found antique pickling jars and letting them become a highlighted conversation piece. It would be great to showcase a poem or love letter from your sweetheart or even something as simple as sand from a previous vacation along with seashells.



Not only do I adore these gorgeous seashore dinner plates, but I am blessed to have them in my cupboard along with an adorable set of clamshell salad plates. I purchased them  over 3 years ago with a gift card I received from my bridal shower. My hubby and I love everything beachy so these were perfect and they are classic spring/summer plates that won't go out of style. Despite the fact that the website lists them as salad plates, they are actually 11" large dinner size, perfect for entertaining! Now, if I could get my hands on those stunning (but pricey) mother-of-pearl utensils!



Since I adore everything French, I found myself falling for these calligraphy straight drum shades. I actually saw another blogger re-create this look with tea bags to stain the drum shade and some printed calligraphy taped to the inside of the shade as a stencil and then painted on with black paint. She also used a stamper for the post marks. It's light, airy and not meant to be taken too seriously-perfect for spring.




Vase fillers are a great way to add elements of the new season. Artichokes, pears or these lovely decorative speckled eggs would be a great accent in any apothecary jar or vase.



I really like the idea of outdoor panels for privacy, sun protection and a dash of glamour for a patio area or backyard space. White or Cream grommet panels are the perfect addition and can easily be washed without the worry of fading colors. Punch it up with colorful outdoor furniture cushions, accent pillows, fun florals, lanterns, candles or planter boxes. Don't forget the lemondade!






These Alexis ceramic table lamps are so stylish and fun. I really like both the blue and the yellow. These would be a wonderful complement to any room but are perfection with a white drum shade.



I thought these typeface bath accessories were a bit whimsical and yet modern at the same time. I haven't seen any like these before and they'd be great for either a guest bath or master suite.


What is you favorite decor idea for spring? Do you try to lighten your color palette, soften your textures, bring nature indoors or simply add some fresh cut blooms to a pretty vase? I'd love to hear from you and feel free to leave a link with some great spring decor that you've found inspirational. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Reader Request: Mastering Time Management



This week's reader request comes from a lovely gal named Nathaly who has some concerns about time management. It's something that affects all of us so I hope you'll all benefit from the tips below, here is what she wrote:

Hello Karla!

My name is Nathaly, and I have a question for you. As a college student, I'm having a lot of trouble with time management due to all the obligations a typical college student has such as school work, family, friends, student groups, hobbies, applying for internships, financial troubles etc, etc. I am trying to establish a good daily routine in which I can make the most of my time, but don't really know where to start.

Besides fitting in my obligations, I also want to make time for a good amount of sleep, exercise, healthy eating, bible time, and the like. I decided it would be useful to look at the daily routines of people I admire and you are one of them. You seem like a highly effective person and it seems like you have a close relationship with God. I would love to see how you organize your day and how you dedicate time to God, as well!

Thank you so much!

-Nathaly

Here is my note to her and some necessary steps to take in order to master time management.

Hi Nathaly!

Thank you for taking the time to write me, I'm so flattered by your sweet words. :) I was a college student myself not too long ago and I will most certainly do my best to share with you how I organize my day/time so you can accomplish as much as possible in each day. I used to be a Professional Organizer too so I'm very familiar with organizing spaces but also schedules.

As a student, organizing your time and various life demands is one of the greatest challenges that you'll face.With different class subjects and times each day, things can be tricky, nevermind adding friends, family, prayer, or even a job into the mix. Below are some tips I recommend to help you set up a schedule that works best for you.

Time Management Success Tips

1. Use One Calendar Only- If you’ve separated your school tasks and lifestyle demands into separate calendars, start by using just one. If a paper calendar doesn’t provide enough room, use your cell phone calendar, a PDA device or an actual agenda book. This will allow you to see your FULL day and make better decisions.You can always color code by using a highlighter to highlight only the school projects or by using two different colors to differentiate school from non-school activities.
2. Prioritize-Aside from your school work and exams, what in your life is most important? You might want to take 5 minutes and list the various elements that make up your life such as God, family, friends, gym workouts, etc. What are your goals? Really think hard about how much time you’d like to realistically dedicate to each. Perhaps you’d love to spend each Saturday with your girlfriends but it’s just not feasible. Instead, maybe you can meet your girlfriends for 2-3 hours every other Saturday for example. Do this with each. This will help you plan out when and how each will fit into your schedule.

3. Timing is Everything- You had mentioned wanting to make more time someone important in your life-God. This is an area where many people struggle. Sometimes our best intentions to make more time for our creator get filled up instead with other pressing matters like a Father’s day event, a friend’s birthday or perhaps studying for exams and working on assignments as their deadlines are very urgent. I would encourage you to think about which time of day offers you 10 minutes or more of quiet time and peace so you can make time to be alone with God on a consistent basis.

For me, it is first thing in the morning. I make it a point to try to read my bible every morning or if I’m really pressed for time one morning, at the very least I can pray with no distractions. Be sure to keep your bible on your nightstand so you see it when you wake up or before you go to sleep. Of course there are other times throughout my day that I like to pray while I'm working, while I’m driving, or before a meal, but I find early morning to be a great time of solitude. My mind is most free from distractions, worries and thoughts and I am more fresh in the morning. It’s a great way to start my day too on a positive and joyful note! Early morning may be another opportune time for a workout session too for those reasons.

4. Backwards Planning-One great tool I use to plan most of my major deadlines or even something as simple as the mailing of a Mother’s day card is to count backwards from the due date. This can work for your school projects but also in your personal life. It especially works well when planning out finances too. You can create mini milestones for the various smaller aspects of the greater picture. For example, I am using this tool as I finish writing and editing my upcoming book and its many components and deadlines so I can stay on track. This strategy is great because it will help you experience less stress because you won't rush to have things completed and it provides you with more control over your life.

5. Plan Your Meals-Since we eat three or more meals a day, it’s a great idea to plan out meals as much as possible. Be sure to find some easy recipes online that you can whip up in 15 minutes or less. Find a few that you can rely on when you’re pressed for time and be more willing to explore new recipes only on days that you can afford the time. Planning your meals and snacks will also save you money and they are far better for your health than most cafeteria type food or fast food.

6. Hitting the Gym-As mentioned earlier, workouts might be easiest for you in the morning however, only you can determine that. Perhaps the evening works better with your schedule. Once you are working and have graduated your daily schedule will be less chaotic so know that the current challenges may become easier for you in the near future. In the mean time, even just a 30-minute circuit training workout can provide you with the results you’re looking for if you’re able to perform it 3+ times per week. Ask yourself if you can eliminate something else that you currently do now for that amount of time to contribute to your best health. For me personally, I work out whenever it fits into my day best, some days that is morning and some days it's evening. Overall, I prefer to work out in the evening around 8pm when most people are not there.

7. Alternate Weeks-If you’re schedule is so jam packed that regular workouts or spending time with family or friends just doesn’t seem feasible, you may want to alternate weeks. For regular activities that you like to do such as sports, girl’s night,workouts etc., you might want to do one week on and one week off. This way you’re still getting the benefits every other week but you don’t have to feel conflicted when you can’t schedule everything into a single week.

8. Trial and Error- To some degree, creating a really effective schedule is a bit of trial and error. We don’t always realize how long certain tasks will take at first and may need to adjust the time allocated. Likewise, you may stop doing something you once did or may pick up something new. Be willing to try different ideas or do tasks on different days. For example Thursday-Sunday are the busiest days for grocery shopping so try to do yours between Mon-Wed so you’ll spend less time in the store. Equip yourself ahead of time with a list to save even more time. Find out what time your gym is the most quiet and see if that works with your schedule. I learned that for me to perform best, I need to limit my time online. Now, I only check e-mail twice per day-once in the morning and once in the evening. I also limit my time to write for my blog to a set  late evening hour after I've worked on my design projects and book writing during the day. Sometimes you have to be a little bit strict with yourself to accomplish what you truly desire. Always remember to keep the longterm goal/gain in mind even when the short term one seems much more appealing.

It's also important to remember that your friends and family understand that College is both physically and emotionally demanding. Nobody expects perfection or for you to be a superwoman. Just do your best to make the most of each day, that’s really all you can do. Don't forget to make time for YOU. Make sure to take some time out to do the things you really love so you'll feel inspired, even something as simple as a bubble bath can rejuvenate you for the next day.

Nathaly, I hope you'll find these points beneficial, they are the very secrets I use. Please keep in touch and let me know how you are doing!

Have a blessed week,

~Karla

Just a reminder to anyone else who has a question that they'd like to see answered in the form of a reader request, you can e-mail me by clicking the large envelope in the sidebar. You can choose share your name or remain anonymous. My goal is that by sharing both your questions and my answers, I hope to help you as well as many other women readers with a similar scenario.

To read previous reader requests, simply type those word into the search box in my side bar.

I look forward to reading your e-mails soon!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Reminder: Spring Forward Tonight!



It's been such a gorgeous weekend so far that I got sidetracked with outdoor activities and nearly forgot about our time change this weekend.

Don't forget to spring forward by turning your clocks ahead by one hour tonight. The actual time change occurs at 2am  in your time zone, but it's best to do it before bed so you don't show up late anywhere tomorrow! ;)

As silly as it seems, that single hour seems to throw me off a little. In the fall I generally feel more refreshed when I wake up after turning the clocks back and in the springtime I typically feel a little sleepy and groggy or perhaps it's all just in my head. Either way, I'm going to try something different this year-I'm going to go to sleep an hour earlier to make up for our 'lost' hour.

It's all good though because this means spring is officially on its way! What better way to feel that you're in the midst of springtime weather than to be bathed in warm sunshine and then there are those tulips, oh how I adore bright and cheery tulips!



What is your favorite thing about spring? Is it the extra hour of sunshine, the blooms emerging from the ground, wearing less layers of clothing or maybe the sweet sound of birds chirping? Share it with us!

Sweet Dreams!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yard Sale Savvy



Okay, so judging by the title alone, can you guess what I'm doing tomorrow? Yup, it's true, I love a good bargain. I'm heading to Orlando's biggest yard sale tomorrow which happens just twice a year.

I've got all of my small bills stacked up, some reusable cloth bags in my trunk and my game face ready. I'm really hoping to hit the jackpot tomorrow so I'll be heading out bright and early. Hopefully I'll have some great goodies to blog about and share with you all on Monday.

For those of you who love great finds at rock bottom prices, yard sales are where it's at. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your yard sale experience.

15 YARD SALE SUCCESS SECRETS

1. Make a List-As you would plan out a a grocery shopping list, think about what you really need and hope to find-is it decor accessories, furniture, clothing, kitchenware? With anything in life, a list is a good guide to get you to focus on what you really need so you can use your time and money most effectively.

2. Set a Budget-Whether you're ordering online or heading to a garage sale, it's important to have a budget. I like budgets because they challenge me to better negotiate deals and determine what I can afford to leave behind. Classy women set budgets, stick within them no matter what the item in question is. My last trip to this very sale was so successful and I went armed with just $37 dollars (what was in my wallet), I spent $29 and had $8 left for lunch afterwards. I came home with so many great, needed items.

3. Gather Small Bills and Change-Be sure to have a lot of smaller currency on hand. Sometimes sellers don't stock up the adequate amount of small change or bills, especially if you're an early morning shopper and they begin with 20's. It makes your overall negotitating and purchasing much smoother.

4. Plan Your Route- If you are planning to head to multiple sales, it's best to use mapquest (which has a tool for multiple destinations) along with your GPS (if you have one) to plot out your route. There is no sense in wasting gas by back tracking all over town. Start in one area and plot out the order in which you plan to arrive at each. Part of planning your destinations involves looking at posted ads in the newspaper, on craigslist, etc., to determine which sellers have items you need.

5. Bring Reusable Bags-If you like to buy a lot of smaller items as opposed to furniture like me, you'll want to bring some cloth reusable bags or at the very least some plastic bags. They are great for loading up on decor accessories, clothing, kitchenware to take back to the car. Some sellers may have plastic bags but don't go expecting that. It's much easier to carry a bag vs. overloading your arms with merchandise.

6. Arrive Early-My mom used to use this saying, "The early bird gets the worm" and in the case of yard sales, that is certainly the case. The earlier you can get out there, the better your chances are of finding exactly what you are looking for. Sellers typically operate their sales' from 8am-noon or 1pm. If you show up at noon you probably won't have a whole lot of selection. One big no-no it to show up before the sale while people are setting up, this is quite annoying for sellers so try to avoid being too eager.

7. Curb Your Enthusiasm-Don't act over anxious or excited about an item until you've sealed the deal. If the seller sees that you are in love with that vintage dresser they know they can get more for it. It's better to ask questions but act indifferent until it's yours.

8. Never Offer Full Price-Most sellers mark all if not most of their items, or will have a sign listing smaller items like books. They already know they aren't going to get full price for all of their items. If you see a great set of kitchen pots for $50, offer $35 and see where it goes from there. They might look at you like you're crazy but you won't know if you don't ask. You can always move up from there. If you start too high you won't be able to back down. My favorite question is, "Would you be willing to take 'X' dollars for it?" and it works nearly every time.

9. ALWAYS Negotiate-With yard sales, negotiating is part of the process and it's expected but do be respectful and reasonable. If a mint condition dining set is priced at $750 and you offer $50, you will not only wind up without the set but could possibly offend or irritate the seller. As with all items for sale, be reasonable not ridiculous. Instead, you might want to offer $500 and read the sellers expression. If they come back with the same amount they are pretty firm on that price. If they say, $700 you know it will go somewhere, in which case you can counter with $600. When all else fails, ask them if they would be willing to meet in the middle, here that number would be $650, and just like that you saved $100!

10. Join Forces- Shop with a friend, if they find something from the same seller you can add multiple items together and reduce the OVERALL price so that both of you get a cheaper deal. Simply present it as a package deal and ask if they would be willing to take ' $X' for the 5 items or whatever you have. It's incentive for the seller since the whole goal is to move more stuff. Be sure to discuss the details with your friend alone before approaching the seller, so you're on the same page.

11. Be Willing to Walk Away-Sometimes you something that is so great but the seller just won't budge at all or won't come down to your asking price. At this point you should be willing to walk away, especially if it doesn't fit into your budget. In such instances the seller might feel prompted to throw a lower number at you. If they don't you can get on with your shopping and come back to this sale later or ask for their telephone number and if you change your mind and (it's still available of course) you could claim it.

12. Bring Your Camera-Sometimes you might be inspired by an item but may not have the cash to pay for it, so why not snap a photo and put it into your inspiration files for a later date (if it's something you could reasonably find again). Other times you may be debating on an item and need to think it through, especially if it's a larger purchase. You can snap a photo and walk away from the sale. This will allow you to take some time to make your decision without the pressure of being on the seller's premises.

13. Use Good Judgement-If you are not 100% sure if an item will work for you or your home but you love it, make sure it's a good deal and make certain that you can either sell it on craigslist, ebay or in your own yard sale for a profit if you need to later. I never purchase items that I cannot get a return on later (if they don't work out) because that would be more of a liability. Don't misunderstand me, not all finds are based on dollars and cents, they are emotional too, just don't let your emotions completely rule the decision making process.

14. The Eleventh Hour-Often times sellers will be very willing to just get rid of items in the last hour or two of a yard sale. If you second guessed an item, you can always swing by the home later in the day. I have even received a few free items this way too. For many it means more to get rid of an item (especially if the pieces are large) than to fuss with moving and re-storing it in their home or garage again.

15. Rent a Truck-If you don't own a truck, SUV or large vehicle and don't know anyone with one, picking up large furniture pieces can be tricky. Rental vehicles are fairly reasonable and if it means getting a dresser worth $800 for a stellar price of $80, paying $30-$40 for a rental vehicle is a drop in the bucket. It's also a great way to transport your new finds without destroying the interior (or exterior) of your car.
Are there any yard sales in your future? What is the best treasure you've every purchased from one?

Have a Blessed Weekend!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Natural Beauty: Homemade Body Scrub



I don't know about you, but the winter months always leave my skin so dry. Living in Florida this is generally never a problem but we've had an unusually cold winter this time around. In order to keep my hands, feet and skin all over feeling soft and supple I rely on this super easy and natural scrub. I love it because it contains no artificial fragrances, no dyes or color or the worry of parabens and other toxic ingredients. It only contains two essential ingredients straight from your kitchen!

HOMEMADE SCRUB

1 tsp-Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I always by the kind in glass, no chance of BPA)
1.5 tsp- Sea Salt (you can also use plain sugar as an alternative but be sure you use 2 tsps as it dissolves)

OPTIONAL: 1 drop of 100% Natural Essential Oil (such as orange, lavender, peppermint, etc.)

*You can easily increase this to a large quantity to cover your whole body while in the shower by using 1/2 cup of olive oil and  3/4 cup sea salt with roughly 6 drops of the essential oils. Be sure to make a new batch every time instead of creating a batch ahead of time. TIP: Always keep your olive oil in a cool, dark place to keep it's many health benefits from being destroyed.

I'm not super fancy when I do this and I typically do the hand scrub in the kitchen. You just pour the salt into your hand then the olive oil and a drop of orange essence oil and  mix it all together for about 2-3 minutes. Once you are finished, your hands will be oily so you can just rinse them with warm water and an all-natural hand soap into a lather and pat dry.

Your hands will be soft and silky afterwards. For additional moisture or overnight repair feel free to add some hand lotion or try 100% pure jojoba oil afterwards. You can follow this up with some cotton sleeping gloves or a pair of socks. This is especially great for feet!

On a side note I'm a bit of an extra virgin olive oil junkie. To help combat dryness from the inside out, consume more of it by drizzling it on top of your salad and existing dressing, use it on top of pasta, use with balsamic vinegar on tomatoes, the list goes on! My favorite no-fail combination for ANY recipe is extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, fresh cracked black pepper, freshly pressed garlic cloves. You can add it to any pasta dish, chicken, fish, salad, and it always tastes great. Try it out, I think you'll like it!

Happy Moisturizing!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Carpool Etiquette



Maybe you do it for the cost savings, for the company or because you're environmentally aware- whatever your reasons, carpooling is a great way to get around town. Not only does it eliminate CO2 emissions and keep money in your wallet but it can even help you ride in a multi-passenger lane, which can help shorten your daily commute.

Like any group situation, carpooling requires a certain level of courtesy by all  to keep everyone happy. Whether you're a passenger or responsible for driving your troop, a little effort can help you maintain good carpool etiquette.


8 ETIQUETTE TIPS FOR CARPOOLING

1. Common Scents- With the many readily available body lotions, perfume, cologne or worse-body odor, your carpool trip could turn into a toxic mess if too much of any of these are present. Be mindful of the other passengers by keeping it to a minimum. You may want to toss perfume in your purse and spritz once you get out of the car.

2. Reimbursement Fees- Be sure to set reimbursement fees as the driver. Be sure to stick to what you all agreed upon to be fair so there aren't any surprises. Passengers: There is no free ride in life, unless it is a one time deal and the person driving insists it's okay to ride with them, you should be prepared to contribute monetarily in order to compensate the driver for gas and a bit of wear and tear on the car.

3. Set Riding Guidelines-If you are a driver who doesn't prefer drinks or food in the car you'll need to convey that to the passengers, likewise you should also address smoking preferences and radio selections. As passengers you need to make sure you respect the driver's decisions in these areas and be sure to always wear your seatbelt out of courtesy, even if you don't normally wear one in your own vehicle.

4. Be On Time-This goes for both drivers and passengers, don't be late. Regardless of where you are driving it is important to always be on time. A single ten minute delay could throw off the whole traffic plan for the group, especially if you were trying to avoid rush hour traffic, etc. Also, if you cannot make it on a particular day, be sure to let the driver know well in advance so they don't spend time driving to pick you up. Drivers, be sure to communicate with carpool passengers in advance should you become ill so they can each make other arrangements.

5. No Cell Phone Zone-In a car filled with other passengers is not the right time or place to make personal or business phone calls. Vehicles are already cramped as it is and I can assure you that nobody will enjoy listening to you update your spouse on the kids or what plans you have for the weekend. If it's an emergency, keep it brief and to the point.

6. Be Respectful of Others' Property- When riding in another person's vehicle it's important to be very careful when opening doors in a parking lot or against a curb. You wouldn't want to damage their car. With the interior, regardless of how clean the vehicle is, be sure to always wear clean shoes free of mud or other debris. Nobody will appreciate extra cleaning duties that were completely unnecessary.

7. Safety First-I think it goes without saying that as the driver your vehicle needs to be properly maintained. If your brakes are ready to go any day, that is not a safe scenario for your passengers. Drive at an acceptable speed and follow the 'Manners and Etiquette for Driving'. Use common sense and remember that safety comes first.

8. Keep a Clean Car-If you've been reading my posts, you might remember a post I wrote on 'How to Keep a Clean Car'. This is so important with carpooling. Nobody wants to sit on a banana peel or crumpled receipts. Your car need not be immaculate, but it does need to be presentable. It should be free of anything large that would take up space. Passengers can keep briefcases, backpacks, etc., in the trunk. It's also a good place to house an umbrella, sunshade or extra pairs of shoes.

Sometimes carpooling isn't as set in stone such as a daily commute to the office together, or to College as I used to do with a girlfriend in my Marketing program many years ago (who is now one of my best friends). You might often agree to pick up a friend en route to a party, brunch or to enjoy a day at the mall. It's a great way to catch up in the car and save a little fuel too.

However, if there are times when you begin to feel as though you're doing all of or most of the driving without any form of compensation or even so much as an offer, or thank you, you should definitely speak up. In this situation it is completely appropriate to ask the other person/people involved to take their turn by driving. If they don't have access to a car, don't have a license or don't enjoy driving, they should be willing to give you a few dollars here and there at the very least. This is especially important for a long trip or road trip of sorts and should be discussed in advance.

Do you carpool? Are you typically the driver, passenger or do you take turns? What have been your experiences and what got you carpooling in the first place? I'd love to hear what you have to say! :)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Giveaway Winners!



Good Morning Ladies! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. As promised, here are the winners of our February e-book Giveaway for the book: 'Empowering & Liberating Women to Achieve Greatness'!

We used Random.org for our official drawing and interestingly enough, both ladies entered our giveaway 3 different ways to win.

Our first winner is 'Beauty Vibes' of the Netherlands who was No.6 and commented:  'I hope I win, I'm such a reading junkie!'



The second winner is 'Stash Mama' who was No.14. She commented: 'I sooo want to read this book! It sounds soo interesting and the getting on with lifes purpose..it sounds great!'



Congratulations ladies! I hope you will find this book both inspiring and transformative. I'll be e-mailing you your copies later today.

Thank you to everyone who entered this giveaway! Also, a  big thank you to my Author/Husband Paul who was the sponsor of February's giveaway!

For those of you who didn't win but are interested in a copy of Paul's book, you can buy it from amazon or by going to his website where you can find his many other published books.

Be sure to visit back here often, we've got more great posts coming up and a really great giveaway later this month that you won't want to miss!

I hope you have a wonderful week!

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