Thursday, March 31, 2011

Learn to Dance in the Rain

It's been raining for the past three days here in FL and the radio now tells me that there is a Tornado warning in effect. Isn't life like the weather sometimes? You're going along minding your own business and then out of the blue the unpredictable storms of life begin to roll in!

We can choose to let those storms dictate how our days will play out or we can embrace them. Like the grass, we too need a little of both sunshine and rain in our life to stay balanced and although it's a bit of a disruption to our plans some days, it's usually exactly what we need to grow into all that we are to become.

Sometimes this process can be painful as we fear becoming uprooted, losing ourselves in the process or having to start all over again but every storm builds strength, character, love and a compassion for others that we may never have known otherwise.

What's the weather like where you are?


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Win a Personalized Thank You Card Set!

It's giveaway time! In following with my 'Thank You' theme which we discussed just a few days ago as it pertained to thanking guests as part of good hostess etiquette, Pear Tree Greetings is offering one lucky reader a set of 16 Thank You note cards so you can do just that!

Pear Tree Greetings has been a long time sponsor of Classy and Fabulous and also believes in the importance of thank you notes. They are an essential item and a good set should be at the ready for every classy woman.

Not only does Pear Tree specialize in beautiful personalized stationery and thank you cards but they also offer graduation announcements, invitations and graduation thank you notes which you may be thinking about as well as everything for weddings and baby too.  They sent me some graduation samples a few weeks ago and they were all so professional looking and creative too!



1. To enter, let me know you're a public follower and mention who you'd mail some thank you cards to if you won.

2. For extra chances, share this giveaway via Facebook and/or Tweet about it! (each worth an extra entry)

*Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and don't forget to leave your e-mail if you don't have a blog, so I can contact you if you win!

GIVEAWAY CLOSES: April.3, 2010 at 11pm EST


PRIZE: A set of 16 thank you cards from Pear Tree Greetings

RULES: The winner will be selected using and announced on 04/04/11.

OPEN TO: I apologize to my international friends but it's U.S. addresses ONLY for this giveaway.

Shop the Pear Tree website now and get special discounts. Much love to Pear Tree Greetings for providing another great giveaway prize!

*images: (1), (2)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Living Well: In the Kitchen

Today is the first post of yet another new series, called Living Well here here at Classy & Fabulous. I think it's one you're all going to find valuable. I'm such a tip junkie, I get excited about finding new and better ways of doing things in every area of my life which save both time and money. I figured you would enjoy a regular dose of them also!

Kitchen Tips 

1. Opening a Tight Lid- Run a jar lid under hot water for about 15 seconds then wrap and elastic band around it or a bottle lid. This trick is also great for getting tight tops off of nailpolish bottles. Once you've wrapped it around the amount of times that it will fit, twist it open. The elastic allows your hand to grip a lid better without your hand slipping, becoming sore and red.

2. Clean as you Cook- Most people enjoy a home cooked meal but get frustrated with a messy sink and counter. My father raised me to always clean up while I cooked and set the table so that everything would be clean when dinner was done. No messy dishes for everyone to look at before or during dinner and the clean up is a breeze which means you can relax instead of slaving over dishes afterwards.

3. Making Fresh Herbs Last- If you like to buy fresh herbs from the grocery store but are disappointed by how quickly they wilt, try clipping their ends off and putting them in a glass of filtered water. It will keep the herbs fresh and they will last so much longer vs. going limp. This works great for celery stalks too, as they also need to absorb the water which maintains their turgor pressure.

4. Master 3 Dishes- Have three signature go-to dishes so that you can whip up a great meal for guests on a moment's notice. You should have one appetizer or salad, one main course and a dessert that you can make confidently on the fly and that everyone will enjoy time and time again. Here are a few perfect potluck recipes and here is a post that reveals my favorite food blogger. You have to try his recipes, they are so creative and yummy!

5. Sparkling Wine Glasses: Place wine glasses over a glass of hot water with lemon until steamy then take a napkin or paper towel and clean them to spotless perfection. I learned this trick while working at a high end restaurant while in college. It works similarly to steaming up your sunglasses with the breath to clean them.

We will continue to explore the kitchen as well as many other areas in future posts but I want to hear what your best kitchen tips are that have made your life so much easier?

*image source

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Everyday Etiquette: Thanking Guests

I hope you are having a fabulous weekend! I've been a little bit MIA on the blog scene lately.  As you may know, my hubby was in town for 10 days for spring break so we got to catch up for a bit. No sooner did I drop him off at the airport, two days later one of my best friends from Toronto, her hubby, 5 month old and 3.5 year old arrived and are staying with me for a week during part of their vacation. All of my regular daily schedule got put on the backburner for a while, but it's been fun to catch up with those I love.

I want to send out a big thank you to everyone who participated and gave me your feedback in the Classy and Fabulous survey that I posted last month. :) Your kind words have been much appreciated and your honest feedback will help me to further grow this blog into something that responds to the interests of my readers. If you are new or haven't had a chance to fill out the survey and want to be included, it's still open, will take you about 2 mins and all feedback is anonymous, you can fill it out HERE.

As I've mentioned before, a goal of mine was to start getting posts down to a shorter length. I know everyone is busy and we all read multiple blogs so while there will still be a few long ones here and there when I just can't seem to post it any other way, I'm going to transition to more bite sized posts whenever I can. With that said I've decided to start an Everyday Etiquette series.  It will offer relevant advice and gentle reminders that you can use in your everyday life but unlike the Manners Monday series it will be posted more sporadically vs. on a particular day and they will feature one quick tip vs. several for a particular topic.

Without further ado, today's topic is about thanking guests that have been invited to an event that YOU are hosting.

When it comes to a formal event like a wedding, most don't think twice about sending out a thank you gift for a wedding gift that was received on their big day or simply for the guest's attendance, it is only customary. These days when it comes to more casual celebrations such as a surprise birthday, a graduation party or even a house warming party, hosts and hostesses usually verbally thank their guests for coming and celebrating with them but often do not bother to follow up with a thank you note.

Even if you have made the decision to host a surprise birthday party for someone at an expensive restaurant and will pick up the tab or have food catered into your home and feel as though that is more than enough to show your thanks to your guests, it is impolite to invite guests and not follow up with a thank you for them having joined you.

In the thank you note,  be sure to let guests know how much you (if you hosted a party for yourself) or your guest of honor (if you hosted on their behalf) enjoyed the special day, the company of all of the guests that joined them as well as the special gift they may have provided. Add something funny that was said or pop a photo of your guest from the party into the card as a keepsake. It leaves a guest feeling appreciated and with this, your duties as the hostess come to a close.

Note: If you entertain very casually on a regular basis, sending cards out weekly would obviously be overkill, so a simple e-mail then would suffice.

At a time with so much technology, guests and friends love to receive something personalized, handwritten and thoughtful from those they've celebrated with. When was the last time you received a thank you card from a host/hostess?

Happy Weekend!

*images: (1) (2)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Office Manners: Cubicle Etiquette

A few days ago a reader e-mailed me with a workplace etiquette question as she works in a cubicle and had to sit relatively close to another woman who does inappropriate things in the office. It reminded me of an article I originally wrote back in 2006 after witnessing a lot of inappropriate behavior while spending 6 years working in a cubicle while in corporate sales. The tips from my article are below.

I know this topic may not be one that everyone can relate to as you might work from home, an enclosed office or may not work at all but I thought I'd share this post as many employees are offended by their colleagues behavior and actions within the workplace.

{fanciest cubicle I've ever seen!}

How is it that when so many people have been exposed to working in close proximity to one another that we still have to contend with colleagues that are so loud, distracting, irritating, self-centered and out of control?!

1. Your Desk- Do place pictures of your family or significant other on your desk but limit it to no more than three. You are not in jail, you will likely see some of these people when you go home! A collage of photos on your desk not only makes you look like a daydreamer, but it can look cluttered which is inconsiderate. Keep it simple and everyone will be happy. It goes without saying, no offensive photos of or anything that would  make other colleagues feel uncomfortable such as vulgar pictures or calendars. Not only is it rude, but you’ll likely have your HR department speaking to you very soon.

2. Speaker Phones- It is never okay during office hours to use your speaker phone. This is loud, distracting and just plain rude. Unless your cubicle has a door and a roof, I don’t recommend this. Use a headset if you like to be hands-free from the phone while on a conference call or taking notes on a call. This not only is quiet but it is great for keeping noise out of your ears while your are not on the phone and simply just typing or working on a presentation etc.

3. Getting personal during work hours-Do not make personal phone calls to family and friends that involve arguing, raising your voice or offering personal details, if you have to make a call keep it brief. Instead, take your cell phone outside of the office, or sit in your car during your lunch break. This is an office, not your living room. You'll not only look like a fool, but you could embarrass yourself and others with this behavior. If you’re really lucky you might even have rumors spread around the office about you.

4. Strictly Business- Refrain from sending jokes or other 'junk' email at work to your friends or cubicle neighbors. Colleagues are at work to make money and get their job done, not read endless jokes. Never mind being irritating, if your email gets in the wrong hands you will be perceived as a lazy worker and depending on the content of the email, could even be fired.

5. Knock before Entering-Never barge into a colleague’s cubicle. Treat their personal space as if it was an office with a door. You would need to knock to come in whether the door was opened or closed so a cubicle should be no different. Knock on the desk or gently let the person know you are there. If they are on the phone, it is a no-brainer, don’t interrupt! I can't count the times that people used to come by my desk and try to talk to me while I was on the phone with a client. Treat everyone’s space with respect even though you all share the same greater office space.

6. Noise-As a basic rule, keep your voice down. If you are on the phone, great, but remember so is everyone else. Especially if you are just chatting on your lunch hour with a colleague be cognizant of the fact that other people are still working and their schedule may be different than yours. Shouting across the office is never acceptable. Avoid playing music at your desk during working hours. This should seem like an obvious point but I’m surprised at how many people do it. With all the music we can download from online services and our own CD’s and of course the radio, many still like to feel as if they are in the comfort of their own home. If you have to listen to music, use a headset! Remember just because you enjoy what you are listening to doesn’t mean the people around you do. So, loud or not-use your ear phones.

 Depending on your job role you might be given a cell phone, remember to keep the ringer on low or use the vibrate function. A common complaint in the offices I have worked in is that so-and-so’s phone rings so loud and is distracting. It is always best to use the vibrate setting.

7. Barefoot & Working-Again, you need to remember you are not in your own home. Taking off your shoes and roaming the office in your socks, or worse- barefoot is unacceptable office behavior. Not only does it look unprofessional but it can often scare your cube-mates off with a potentially offensive scent. And if you’ve ever thought about it-keep your pink fuzzy slippers at home where they belong!

8. Sights, Sounds and Scents- No belching, passing wind, nose picking, nail clipping or teeth flossing at your desk please or anywhere in your office for that matter. Believe it or not, people actually do this! I once went over to a colleagues’ desk and was completely disgusted to find him flossing his teeth! Sadly the washroom was about 6 feet away and he didn’t see what the problem was. I also encountered a colleague who sat next to me and was caught picking his nose while his friend on the other side caught him and watched for 5 minutes until she burst out laughing. This may sound funny but it is not office etiquette. Nobody wants to be exposed to this outside of the office so why should they be subject to it in the workplace. The bathroom is the best place to go to take care of all personal care issues. 

While we're on the subject, it is best to leave air fresheners, perfumes and other scented items at home. With the growing number of individuals who suffer from allergies, a spritz of your perfume could send someone into a sneezing fit.

This is by no means a complete list of office etiquette tips, but I look forward to sharing more posts about workplace etiquette and classy fashion for the office also.

What is the craziest thing you've encountered in your office environment?

*images (1)(2)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Decorating Mantras to Live By

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! The weather here is just stunning with warm breezes and sunshine, not a cloud in the sky. Best of all, my hubby hopped on a plane from NYC and I picked him up from the airport on Friday just hours before his father's surprise birthday party. He is home for his spring break, it will be the last time we see each other again until he is done his first year in May so we are making the most of every moment. This was the longest time we've ever been apart for (9 weeks) including while were were dating and living in two different countries!

This past week was very busy for me, I was booked solid with new design and staging clients every day while I planned the decor for my father-in-law's surprise party and hubby's arrival also. I finally had a chance to relax and curled up with a few magazines this morning that I haven't had the time to read. One is called Fresh Home which is a new magazine that I received a free issue of as a trial. It's a few months old, the Fall 2010 edition had a lot of great holiday ideas which I plan to keep for next year. I also stumbled upon a page with a list of 5 decorating mantras to live by. They come in the form of an excerpt from Marni Jameson's book titled: House of Havoc. I thought I'd share them with you because I believe in each of these myself.  

These five things alone will change the way you feel in and about your home!

Do you currently live by any of these? Maybe you need to have fresh flowers in your home regularly or super soft sheets. I'd love you hear what YOUR decorating mantras are!

Happy Weekend,

*image (1)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Inspiration for your Success

In nature as with life, we move through different seasons of our life. Sometimes we live through the 'winter' season in a quiet time of quiet reflection, healing, rest and transformation so we can be reborn into something more amazing and other times we're at the height of success, joy and celebration during the 'summer' months.

Springtime is a time for rebirth, newness, growth and nature to bloom. It might also be the season you're experiencing at the moment as I am, breaking forth into new areas and treading through new territory. Maybe you're getting ready to launch a dream business, move to a new place for a great job opportunity or give birth to your first child (before anyone asks, I don't have a little bun in my oven ). Wherever you are at right now, it's wise to heed this advice from Mark Twain.

It is so important to surround yourself with positive and supportive people in your life. When we decide to be bold, take a leap of faith and launch out into the deep is when we need positive and uplifting people by our side the most.

Some people are mockers or dream squashers-beware of them! They see that you have direction and a vision and are often jealous, have their own agenda or are miserable and want you to live there with them in their unhappiness. Resist the urge to sink to that level in order to maintain a friendship or keep someone in your life. I liken people like this to a backpack full of rocks slowing you down and holding you back from your true potential. It may be time to drop the backpack and leave it behind lest you lose your momentum. If someone is a true friend, they will ride the storms of life with you and celebrate in your triumphs and personal success as well.

Let's also be that friend to others. Sometimes it's hard when you are in your winter season and they are experiencing their summer season. You may feel deflated, frustrated and unsure of the future while they are riding their wave of success. Rejoice with them, everything comes full circle, the seasons always change and soon enough it will be your turn to ride the wave.

Here's to dreaming big dreams this year!

*images: (1), (2)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pear Tree Giveaway Winner!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Mine was a bit rainy, which was perfect for staying indoors and doing a little spring organizing. chose the winner of the $20 Gift Certificate to Pear Tree Greetings and it's AubreyLaine who said she'd choose these watercolor flowers personalized note cards.

Congratulations, I'll be sending you an e-mail shortly with the details. :)

Thank you to everyone who entered and much love to my sponsor Pear Tree Greetings for their generosity!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Do One Thing Different

One thing I've learned over the years is the fastest way to fall off of a new program or fail to meet a goal is by doing too many things at one time.

Although I've never read the book, only flipped through it briefly, I was always drawn to a book title on my dad's bookshelf by Bill O' Hanlon titled, 'Do One Thing Different'. Of all the books he's owned, I'm not sure why that one stands out  in my mind but that title has come to mind a lot over the past few months and it was only appropriate for today's post title. In my mind, I think the book was meant to be a reminder of the power of focusing on making changes slowly, deliberately and working towards one big goal at a time. Now that I'm revisiting the title and concept, I will finally have to read the book! I actually found a free e-book copy {here}, while looking for the author's name, if anyone else is interested to read it.

It has been proven that we can form new habits in just 28 days. I've personally experienced that to be true in the past. Before I ever became a Personal Trainer 8 years ago, it was my regular workouts and the results that I got that had me excited about teaching others how to get the body they wanted also. Working out 6 days per week for 60-90 mins each day was not even something that I really had to think about after a while. Every morning before work, at about 6:30am I met up with a colleague, who became my workout/ accountability partner and who also wanted to work out in the early morning. Just like that, I had formed a new habit that was as natural to me as brushing my teeth each morning. The key was choosing a time that made the most sense with my schedule. Obviously, this isn't realistic for everyone, especially if you havce children but as a single woman at the time, it was the perfect schedule.

Once we master something that was once difficult, and then becomes like second nature, we can move onto the our next challenge with great success, with recent progress and accomplishment under our belt to build confidence.

Think of New Year's resolutions. Some people go to the extreme- they have grandiose plans of losing a large amount of weight, to quit smoking AND do a cleanse to cut out as much sugar as possible and remove bodily toxins. The word deprivation comes to mind. Our bodies cannot handle so many new changes at one time, we'd only be setting ourselves up for failure with an overly ambitious resolution like this. It's best to do one thing at a time and slowly phase in each new goal after conquering the first.

Everyone's goals are different. Some want to lose 10 lbs or become more organized and yet others want to read more or vow to get at least 6 hours sleep per night. Each of these goals involves a certain level of planning in order to be successful. They need not be drastic changes or ones that make you feel as though you have to rearrange your life in one fell swoop. You can begin by walking for just 15 minutes per day or setting a timer for just 10 minutes of drawer organizing.  However, it's important to start somewhere and have a plan. As they say, if you fail to plan then you plan to fail and boy is that ever true!

Now think about your own life. What things do you want to change? What dreams do you want to achieve? What's one thing right now that you'd love to change or see an improvement in that would make you really happy? Pick just one thing that you want to focus on first, perhaps a smaller or easier goal for yourself to get started.

For me,  the bigger picture is balancing a proper schedule and minimizing distractions (since I can be easily distracted) so that I can get more done in my day and go to sleep/wake up at the hour that I need to. When I go to bed really late, I tend to either get up too early and have less energy before the day has even begun or I'll give myself the extra sleep I need at the expense of shortening my workday and hours of daylight-this has not proven to be helpful in accomplishing all that I want to do in my day.

My ultimate goal is to truly be balanced by spending more time planning my days and designating specific time for design work, writing, blogging, surfing the web, web banking, etc., so that I can become more focused and accomplish my most important tasks. But first, going to bed at a reasonable hour will be my 'one thing different' that needs to precede everything else. No matter how awake I feel or how much work I think I still need to do, bedtime will be 11pm, no ifs ands or buts so I can get up at 6am feeling refreshed and ready to start the day. I'll be honest, lately my bedtimes have been ranging from midnight to 3:30am and my waking hours have been between 5:30am and 10am (for the nights I go to bed at 3:30am). Can you see how this daily pattern can easily become a habit and spiral out of control? lol.

I have been working out lightly in the evenings, mostly to regain strength after an injury I experienced during the end of January. However, learning from my previous fitness success, I know that morning workouts (once completed and out of the way) give me more energy for my day. So, this goal will serve many other areas of my life in a more positive way.

Let's tackle this challenge together, shall we? I'd love for you to join me and commit to doing one thing different for at least the next 7 days and I'd love to hear how it's going for you! It would be great if you could try it out for the next 28 days with me. Take a day or two to get yourself organized or set up for your new goal. I'm beginning tonight and I'll share with you all how it goes.

Here's to getting more out of life by doing just one thing differently!

*images (1),(2),(3)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Win a $20 Pear Tree Greetings gift card!

To begin the month of March, my lovely and longstanding sponsor, Pear Tree Greetings, is offering a $20 gift card to one lucky reader to select anything you like from their online store.

They offer a full range of stationery, address labels and photo cards for every occasion. I love their stylish and original designs. If you're looking for something that fits your personality and budget for your upcoming nuptials, their save-the-date cards and wedding invitations are worth checking out!

Some key essentials for every classy woman are a set of thank you cards, a custom stationery set and matching return address labels which add a polished and sophisticated touch.

{These} are the most recent address labels I ordered and I'm loving them, they're perfect because their round shape eliminates the need for an envelope seal, so it does double duty.



1. To enter, let me know you're a public follower and pop by the Pear Tree website then come back here to let me know what you would choose if you won!

2. For extra chances, share this giveaway via Facebook and/or Tweet about it! (each worth an extra entry)

*Be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry and don't forget to leave your e-mail if you don't have a blog, so I can contact you if you win!

GIVEAWAY CLOSES: March.6, 2010 at 11pm EST


PRIZE: $20 to spend at

RULES: The winner will be selected using and announced on 03/07

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

If you're interested in browsing or shopping the Pear Tree website now, Classy & Fabulous readers get special discounts. A big thank you to Pear Tree Greetings for always being such a generous supporter!

Good luck and have a delightful day!

* save-the-date image
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