Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Hubby and I decided we could do a picnic at the lake anytime so we're beach-bound today to enjoy some salt water + sunshine therapy. I packed some goodies in the cooler, my sunhat, sunscreen, a book and our beach blanket so we can take advantage of some much needed R&R. In less than an hour we'll be in the water, definitely a perk of living in Florida.

Wishing you all a safe, fun and relaxing Memorial Day today as we celebrate our freedom! :)


Friday, May 24, 2013

Fashion Friday: 5 Best Memorial Day Sales!

How are you all doing, is everyone ready for a relaxing long weekend? I know I am but I'll be working for most of it but I hope you have something fun planned to celebrate the unofficial start of the summer. This weekend is a time to reflect on the freedom we have living here in the U.S. because of the brave men and women all over the country who risk their lives daily. It also happens to be when a lot of really great sales take place if you're in a shopping kind of mood.

I thought for this Fashion Friday post, I'd share the best deals that I know about in case anyone is looking for just the right swimsuit, cute pair of sandals, maxi dress, new handbag or the perfect fitting pair of white jeans for summer. :)

Memorial Day Deals

1. Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale- Save up to 40% on clothes, shoes, bags and much more!
2. J. Crew- Up to $75 off your purchase, use code: SHOPNOW
3. Banana Republic- Save 35% off your entire purchase, use code: BRDIVEIN and free shipping on all orders over $50.
4. Piperlime- Up to 40% off all dresses & sandals!
5. Shoe Dazzle- 20% off full priced styles as well as up to 35% off all other shoes and handbags.

I plan to take advantage of these sales for a few items that I've had my eye on lately....

This Banana Republic Glamour Link Bracelet

I have Monday off so hubby and I plan to either enjoy a picnic in the park nearby or head to the closest beach less than an hour away-the weather is supposed to be beautiful. What do you all have planned for this long weekend?

Thanks for reading and have a safe, happy and memorable Memorial Day Weekend!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Manners Monday: Food Sampling Etiquette

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a fabulous weekend. It's been too long since I've posted a Manners Monday post, my apologies. I'm back with a new post, and while it may not be as common as how to properly set a table, cell phone etiquette or the importance of mailing wedding thank you cards, it's a topic that has become quite personal lately. Apart from just my own experiences, trying out new food and beverages is something that we all experience now and then. I mean, who doesn't enjoy sampling new food or drink items while shopping? Those bite-sized treats kind of draw you in like a moth to a flame, especially when you're hungry. ;)

I mentioned briefly both here and via Facebook that alongside of my design business, I picked up a part time job to supplement my income while I'm pregnant to build a little nest egg as I will be staying at home with our little one once she is born. While I'll continue to blog, offer e-design services and do some freelance writing jobs, these are all things I can do from home for the most part. I'm working as a Sales Rep for a specialty foods company whereby I'm responsible for building relationships with a particular chain of grocery stores here in Florida. Part of my job is to offer samples of our product for a few hours, 4 times per week in an attempt to build a loyal, repeat customer base. During the past 3 months that I've been in this position, I've seen some pretty interesting things occur at the sample table-some to my horror. Today's topic is all about Food Sampling Etiquette because I find that when it comes to complimentary food, some people's manners seem to go out the window.

10 Etiquette Tips for Sampling Food

1. Be Mindful of the Setup Process- I can't tell you how many times I'm in the midst of setting up my table and don't even have the product out yet, let alone the serving tools gathered and people rush up as if I'm going to give them a sample on command. Some stand off to the side and stare in my direction waiting for me to finish. I know from speaking to others who do demos that I'm not alone in my feelings that this is quite annoying, particularly if it's a day you happen to be running a bit behind schedule and do not need any distractions to slow you down. If one is feeling snack-ish or has questions about the product, they should wait. Instead the time can be used to work on a grocery list for a few minutes and circle back around, the samples aren't going anywhere.

2. Hello, Please & Thank You Go a Long Way- Whomever is offering the samples at a table or on a tray, goes to the trouble of setting everything up and preparing the food, the least one can do is greet them and treat them as a human being vs. a servant, asking politely for a sample and thanking the person for the food or drink sample. It's free food, anytime someone gives us anything or does something for us in life it's always proper to say thank you and this is no exception.

3. Ask Before Grabbing- Before reaching your hand out for a sample, always ask what it is or read the signage on the table. Many people take without asking only to realize it has an ingredient that they are allergic to or it does not fit their diet. Some aren't even entirely sure what it is or how spicy it is. If you take a sample and realize after grabbing it that you aren't going to be able to eat it, it then becomes wasteful as it ends up in the trash. With the product I sample, one is the original flavor and the other is a spicy version, even though it's extremely well marked, people don't bother to take a second to read and countless samples end up going into the garbage as a result which is completely avoidable.

4. If You Touch it, You Take it- As with anywhere else food is served, once an item of food (or the napkin/plate it is served on) is touched, it cannot be put back. This is common courtesy and an essential food safety rule when serving food. If you happen to change your mind or grab the wrong sample, apologize and toss that sample away. Don't leave it on the table for someone else to grab. Even if you only touched a corner of the napkin or the edge of a plate, it is food someone else will handle and it cannot be served.

5. Don't Leave a Mess Behind- If your sample is served in a cup, on on a plate or napkin, be sure to pick up the serving material from the table and toss it into the trash not leaving it for the demo server to do or tossed into a shopping cart, basket or on the floor. This is something that I experience daily and I don't understand why a napkin that comes with it would be left on a table. If you happen to drop or spill a sample on the floor, it becomes your responsibility to clean up the mess and leave the area the way you found it. Ask for some napkins and clean up the floor- the server will be happy to offer you another sample afterwards, accidents happen.

6. Keep it Positive- We're not all going to love everything we taste test, but we don't need to be rude, negative or disrespectful to the person serving it. After all, it's free food and the purpose it to test it out. If you're not a fan of the product, keep it to yourself. Never use the words ick, yuck, ew or make a disgusted face (as a young toddler would do). If it's not for you, you do not have to eat it. Instead, toss it out, thank the server and be on your way. If there is an area of critique, put a positive spin on it with a comment like, "This would be even better if it had more berries, jalapenos, etc."

7. Avoid Being a Sample Glutton- We've all seen these folks who take a sample but one is not enough and they go back to take several more as if the samples were a replacement for their lunch. They're also generally the same people who will tell you the reason why they cannot buy the product such as it's too high in fat but they'll come back around and eat 4-5 samples. Always assume that it's one sample per person unless otherwise stated. Sometimes, when multiple versions or flavors are offered, the server will encourage you to try a couple or one of each flavor. At my table, we offer 2-3 flavors and I always encourage customers to try one of each so they can be compared. If you're really in love with a new product, there is no harm in smiling and politely asking if you may have another because you enjoyed it so much. After this point, purchasing the item would be the greatest compliment, leave some samples for the next person.

8. Taking Coupons- Many times with a sampling table, coupons will be offered along side. Again, it's one coupon per person. Printing coupons costs companies money, unless you really see yourself buying the product that day or before the expiration date, it's best to leave it for someone else. If you grab one and change your mind upon seeing it on the shelf, leave the coupon beside the product for someone else. Never grab a stash of coupons, however if you are buying more than one item or multiple flavors, it's completely okay to ask if you are able to have 2 coupons for your 2 items and it shouldn't be a problem if you are going to be a new or repeat customer.

9. The Best Location to Eat Your Food Sample- Once you grab your sample, always take a few steps back and allow other passersby the opportunity to come up and grab something for themselves. This is also a good idea so you're not eating too close to the table where some have food fall from their mouths. Daily, I see someone who feels the need to eat their food sample and try to carry on a conversation with me. As always, chewing with one's mouth closed and not talking while eating is always appreciated by everyone nearby.

10. Responding to Being Offered a Sample- Sometimes as you pass by a sample table, if you don't come up to it directly you may be asked if you'd like to try the product. If it's processed, appears fatty, doesn't look appealing or you're just not hungry, a simple "No, thank you" or "Not today, thanks" will suffice. There's no need to go on a rant about how you don't eat processed food, junk food, anything that's not organic, how you think fish is gross, etc. It's impolite to say anything that may deter other customers from sampling and that may be offensive to the person serving the food.

Have you ever encountered any unusual behavior while at a sampling table? Maybe you work in the food service industry and have an example of your own? On the contrary, have you sampled something yummy recently that you just have to share? I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!

As always, thanks for reading!


*photo credits: (1) , (2) , (3)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Baby Gender Reveal Time! It's a.....

Hi Everyone! Well, we finally did it. We shared the sex of our little one with our parents once I hit my 6 month mark and then revealed to the rest of our friends and family the next day via my personal Facebook page with some special photos we took specifically for the reveal.

Some of you may remember that I mentioned via Facebook a few weeks ago that I put the brakes on my plans for a fun gender reveal party (which was supposed to take place this coming weekend) even though I had all the details planned out, there was just too much going on and I was feeling too overwhelmed by life to prepare for this party and then clean up afterwards all on my own. I knew I could spend my time, energy and budget in a better way than a party that would last just a couple hours. We still wanted to do something creative and fun to document this time and decided to head to one of our favorite hotels which has a nice architectural backdrop for our photos that would mark the occasion and use the balloon color to announce our news.

Hubby and I are overjoyed to announce that we our expecting a baby GIRL!! We had both been praying for a healthy baby and would have been happy either way but the Lord is giving us both our true heart's desire, a daughter to love. :) Without further ado, here are a few photos from my 24-Week pregnancy belly shoot.

Over the weekend my in-laws hosted a family reunion get together of sorts to bring all of the extended family together since we hadn't seen each other in a while. We thought it was the perfect time to pull Paul's mom and dad aside privately and give them a special gift to open in another room together so they could learn the baby's gender first and then we let them share the news with everyone else at their party. It was such a fun evening and everyone was so sweet, supportive and excited for us. Since all of my husband's cousins began their families many years ago, we will be the only ones with a baby.

For their gift, I took our favorite sonogram photo of the bunch (our little jellybean with her hands clasped and close to her mouth) and had a duplicate made of the photo then added a cute little pink bow on the head and slipped it into a pretty cream frame for them to keep. It was really easy to do and I plan to make one for each of my parents as well as a keepsake for us which will likely live in the nursery until she arrives!

My Mother-in-law has graciously offered to host my baby shower along with the help of my husband's two Aunts since my closest friends and family live miles away back home in Toronto. They asked for my ideas on a theme and the date, so we've penciled in the date of July.13th and the overall decor will be a color theme of pale pink, white and gold. I'm thinking soft, feminine, elegant and chic. I look forward to seeing what they come up with!

{Fun Facts}

What I craved the most this month:  Everything sweet! Fruit (still eating watermelon almost daily), smoothies, sweet tea, desserts, you name it and my baby wants it! I was already a bit of a sweet tooth beforehand so not too much has changed. What they say about girls craving sweets is true!

Something new I tried this month: My midwife recommended Hypnobirthing and I have read so many great personal experiences about how it can shorten the length of labor and delivery as well as make for such a peaceful birthing experience-some women experienced no pain at all! I have attended my first private class so far and since she is also a Doula, we have chosen her to be present and support me during the birth as well. Has anyone else used the hypnobirthing technique? I figure it's not only good for pregnancy but also beyond, it helps you use the pain in your life and transform it into a powerful tool with the right visualization tools.

Weight gain from 20-24 weeks: A whopping half of a pound although my bi-weekly photos would have you believe otherwise! I've gained 11 lbs total as of my 24-week check up and am feeling really good which is most important to me. 

When I started wearing maternity clothes: While I'm still in 95% regular clothes, I finally grabbed a couple pairs of maternity pants, a few tops and a pair of shorts and they are really comfortable! I'm trying to creatively work my own wardrobe and new pieces that are a size larger or my own size into my existing wardrobe for now so I can wear the items after the birth and beyond without investing a lot of money into a maternity-specific wardrobe. 

New Development this month: Itchy tummy! No matter how much cocoa butter, belly oil or natural lotions I use, my bump is stretching and letting me know about it. If someone has a good home remedy, please let me know!

Did you find out and share the gender of your first baby? If you did, what was the most memorable moment about revealing it to family and friends? Maybe you had a creative way of sharing the news? I'd love to hear about it!

As always, thanks for reading!


*All other images my own, except these: (1), (2)
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