Thursday, January 30, 2014

Valentine's Day Gift Guide: Hints For Him....



 1. Candle  //  2. Jewelry Box  //  3. Lipstick  //  4. Pave Bracelet
5. Chevron Mug  //  6. Perfume  //  7. Crossbody bag


Do you celebrate Valentine's Day? In our home we try as often as possible to send each other little notes of appreciation and/or pick up something small that we see while out and about that we think the other would like, usually something practical and useful. The other day hubby surprised me with two of my favorite cookies from the bakery dept. of Whole Foods Market while he was grocery shopping. It's those thoughtful little things that show one another that we care and we certainly don't reserve it for just one day.

For Valentine's Day, we definitely don't go all-out. We typically enjoy a meal out together either a day before or after Feb.14th to avoid the restaurant craziness which makes for a much more intimate experience.
From time to time we'll get each other a little something special when our budget allows. Paul often asks me around the holidays if there's anything I've had my eye on. While I love surprises and seeing what my guy picks out for me on his own, I'm a practical person by nature and sometimes it's nice to get something that I know I would really enjoy vs. something that was thoughtful but not entirely useful and sits in a drawer as a result. 

Creating a little hints list takes the guess work out of it for him.  If your guy is anything like mine, busy and open to suggestions, why not share a couple ideas with him so he'll feel confident in his choice. I thought I'd share a few of my personal favorites of varying price points from $12 and up. 

I'm on the hunt for something special and useful for my hubby, so stay tuned for the guy's version of this Valentine's Day Gift Guide...hints for you! ;)

What surprises do you have in mind for your special sweetie this year?

Thanks for Reading! Below are the items shown above as well as a few more of my favorites....



XO


Monday, January 27, 2014

Manners Monday: How to Know Which Fork to Use and When



When I first thought of today's topic it brought to my remembrance a memorable scene from the movie Pretty Woman when Julia Roberts (Vivian) asks the hotel manager for a  lesson in table etiquette as she wasn't sure which fork to use and when. Minutes later in the movie while at an upscale restaurant while attending as a guest alongside Richard Gere (Edward), she's presented with food she isn't sure how to handle such as escargot, wishing for a regular salad as an appetizer stating "that's the fork I knew!".

All joking aside, when dining out or in someone's home for a more formal meal, it is important to know which fork is used and when, also which type of fork goes with what. This will be the beginning of a series of posts to familiarize you with various table setting components. In the coming weeks we'll also explore the proper way to eat some tricky foods.

At home, there is generally not much confusion between forks. We know that the larger fork is for the main course and the smaller fork is for salads, but fork knowledge goes beyond that. We also have lobster forks, dessert forks and more. Below is a visual and breakdown of each and when to use them in the course.

The general rule of thumb at a more formal place setting (and the easiest way to remember) is to use the fork on the outermost side first and work your way inward towards your plate. There are some cases as with European dining where a meal will actually be served before a salad, so don't be alarmed if you see the entree fork appear before the salad fork in order.




Let's review the formal place setting and how all of the utensils, specifically the forks fit into place:




a. Napkin- you may either find it beside the flatware, on top of the service plate or under the fork setting.
b. Side plate and butter knife for dinner rolls-always remains in the top left hand corner in a place setting.
c. Salad fork-shortest and furthest away from the plate with a shorter handle and tines than a dinner fork.
d. Fish fork-shorter than a dinner fork but closer to the plate than a salad fork, used with a fish course for its delicate flesh.
e. Dinner fork- always closest to the plate for the main course. It's long narrow tines provide perfect spearing power for meat, poultry and vegetables.
f.  Service plate-will change throughout the course of the meal.
g. Dinner knife- used specifically for dinner along with the dinner fork.
h. Salad knife- used specifically while eating the salad course along with the salad fork
i.  Soup spoon- a soup spoon is larger and used for the soup course. Always spoon away from yourself to prevent splashing your clothing, the table cloth or any others dining with you.
j.  Red Wine glass- closest to the dinner plate.
k.  White Wine glass-directly to the left of the red wine glass.
l.   Water glass directly to the left of the white wine glass and directly above the dinner knife.
m. Dessert fork and spoon- either the spoon, fork or a combination of both will appear depending on the dessert being served. The left tine of a dessert fork is generally extra-wide, providing more leverage when cutting through extra firm desserts such as baklava or the thick crust of a pie or bar. It is similar in size to a salad fork.

*One fork not shown in this illustration is the cocktail fork (also known as the seafood fork) which, when present, will be placed to the right of the soup spoon. Unlike the other forks shown, it is not placed with the other grouping of forks, has only 3 tines vs. 4 and is a shorter overall fork with short tines and a long narrow handle. The purpose of it is to spear seafood in a compote or a shell, such as shrimp cocktail or coquille St. Jacques.



By the way, if you're looking to teach your children proper table manners and dining etiquette, the follow items may appeal to you:


How cute and stylish are these laminated children's manners and table setting place mats 
which teach children how to properly set a table? You can find them {here}




This children's board game called 'Blunders' teaches children ages 5-10 
about social and dining etiquette. Find it {here}.


Did you learn anything new today? Also, as we'll be tackling tricky foods and how to eat them, what do you find most difficult to eat politely without making a mess? Is it snow crab legs, soup, food eaten with your hands such as a thick panini? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for Reading!

XO




*image sources: 1 // 2 // 3

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

How to Save More Money This Year



Does anyone else have saving more money or growing their savings account on their list of things to do for 2014? When I was just barely into my 20's, one of the smartest pieces of advice I received came from my father. He told me that he wished someone had told him to save money when he was my age, because as we know, the earlier we start contributing to our future and retirement, the more that money will compound and the the greater the amount will essentially be.

I took him up on his advice and am so grateful I did. I was blessed to land a great job straight out of College which allowed me to take advantage of saving even though I had several bills to pay while living on my own. The first thing I did was make sure that a specific amount was automatically set up to come out of my paycheck total every two weeks. One of the things I try to do now, and I think it's a great way to help grow one's savings account is to transfer money between bank accounts. It works best of course if your focus is to move money from your checking account to your savings and not the other way around. ;)

Another great reason why I love to transfer money between bank accounts is that it eliminates or lessens the need for things like loans when you find yourself  needing a loan such as a line of credit, TD Bank allows a lot of flexibility so you can do just that with account transfers. If you have a set amount of emergency money set aside in another account that you intend to use for just that, you can tap into those funds vs. other investment type funds or relying on a credit card which of course comes with such a high interest rate.

TD Bank also offers an option called a "Pre-authorized purchase plan" which allows you to invest regular amounts even as low as $25 into their comfort portfolios and TD mutual funds so your interest will grow that much faster. Most people think of investing large chunks of money in the hundreds or thousands but if you're working off of a tight budget and don't have a lot to spare for savings at the moment, this is a great option. It truly does add up over time and you'll thank yourself for doing it later on.







Here are 5 More Easy Ways to Save More Money this Year:


1. Become Coupon Savvy-This may seem obvious to some but for others who don't quite understand just how much you can save with coupons because they've never used them, it's worth a few minutes of coupon clipping. The trick is to combine a manufacturer's coupon with a store-based coupon and use it on top of an item already on sale or one that is is a BOGO deal (buy one, get one free). You can save a fraction on your grocery bill and bank that 'saved' money, it's money you won't even miss.

2. Nix the Starbucks Fix- All those frappuccinos really add up! At around $3-5 dollars per drink depending on the size and type of fancy drink you regularly enjoy. Instead, make your own at home and still allow yourself the treat but only once or twice per month. You'll spend far less at home and the difference saved from what your previously monthly expenditure was can be put into savings. Here's a homemade recipe for an iced coffee drink that you can make for pennies, you can also find more on the web or Pinterest that match your java obsession. This Nespresso coffee machine can help you make your own coffee at home and until 01/26/14 they're throwing in a $75 credit for qualifying machines over $179! It will be like having a cafe in your own home. :)

3. Cancel Your Subscription-With all the news we need at our fingertips via the internet, the newspaper has become less necessary. If you're ordering the Sunday paper for the coupons, here's a tip that may work in your area. We have subscribed to the Spanish version of our Sunday paper which gets delivered on Saturday, it contains all the same coupons but it's a free subscription! I just recycle the paper since we don't have anyone nearby that can benefit from it. I love magazines but have found a great way to have several subscriptions coming to my door without ever paying for a single one. A website called Recyclebank.org lets you watch short videos and play interactive games about becoming more green, eco-conscious and take virtually no time at all and points are earned for each one. The points can be used for various rewards, I always exchange mine for free magazine subscriptions. I've been doing this for years, there is no auto-renew to worry about and I recycle the magazines by blessing friends with them or donating them to my local Dentist, Chiropractor, etc. What's more is that you're learning easy ways to save water, energy and money in the process which will further save you some green.

4. Bring Your Own Lunch- Bring your own healthy homemade lunches to work vs. buying out. If you still need the fix, treat yourself to lunch out with the girls on Friday's only vs. every single day. Sometimes it's the company and getting out that you really crave so make it a point to lunch together somewhere other than inside the office such as a picnic bench outside or a nearby park. The fresh air, change of scenery and conversation will be just as invigorating there. Another upside? You're likely to make much more healthy food at home, creating a better overall self-image.

5. Movies at Home- We love Redbox in this house, it only costs $1 per movie, you can return them at any Redbox, reserve your favorite flick online and they often send out free coupon codes, it's makes for a great date night and it's more relaxing at home for us with a baby as we can pause the movie whenever we need to. We treat ourselves to a new movie at the cinema that we really want to see a couple times per year only. Other inexpensive options include Netflix delivery/online instant download and Hulu. Your local library will stock movies also free of charge to you, many also have previous episodes of your favorite new series too in case you've just discovered it and want to watch what you missed. We're fortunate that ours regularly has some pretty great new releases out at the same time as they are available elsewhere on DVD.

Depending on how many magazines you subscribe to, how many trips to the theater you take, how much you spend on dining out, how many cups of joe you drink and how many coupons you clip, you could be saving $50-200 per month. That's easy money in the bank with relatively small sacrifice involved.

Now I want to hear from you! How do you most like to save money? What are your tips and tricks for making your dollar stretch or keeping more of what you earn?

Thanks for Reading!

XO




*This was a sponsored post, however all thoughts, opinions and examples included are my own.

**image source

Monday, January 20, 2014

Manners Monday: How to Apologize



Today's post is short and to the point, the way an apology should be. If you've ever found yourself in a situation where you need to say "I'm sorry" and wondered if you said enough or not enough, given the circumstances, here are some quick tips on how to apologize and say I'm sorry with class. The suggestions below are for a more formal apology, which is a bit different than apologizing to your husband, child or best friend.




1. Apologize in a Timely Manner- Even though a lady always strives to be pleasant, kind, cordial and considerate of others, she is only human and makes mistakes on occasion. It is important that an apology be made immediately upon realizing the error of her ways and not allow time to create further upset.

2. Make Eye Contact- As with all conversations, especially with an apology and to show sincerity, it is important to make direct eye contact (when speaking to someone in person vs. over the phone) and humbly apologize for what has taken place. Perhaps you were a guest at a dinner party and spilled a bit of wine on the sofa while relaxing in a conversational area. Keep your apology short and to the point. Here is an example: "Linda, I am so sorry for spilling wine on your gorgeous sofa, I feel just awful."

3. Be Sincere & Take Accountability- Only make an apology if you sincerely mean it. Too often, people make an apology off the cuff as if it isn't really a big deal and comes off insincere and in some cases they continue to make the same mistake again and again proving that insincerity. When a classy woman makes an apology she says she is sorry and doesn't ever attempt to downplay her mistake or place blame elsewhere or use the word "but" in her apology. She takes full ownership and accountability for her words and/or actions.

4. Once is Enough- An apology need not be uttered over and over again every time you run into or meet up with the person in question. Take the time to make one sincere apology, keep on point and that is all that is required. Constantly bringing up the same event or offense is exhausting and unnecessary. Learn what you must from the experience and move on, there is no sense re-hashing it over and over.

5. Offering to Make it Right- In the case of ruining someone's personal property or other circumstances where more than one person is involved, you may want to offer to make things right. For instance, if you did in fact spill wine on a friend or neighbor's sofa, and you have the wherewithal to do it, offer to pay for the upholstery cleaning bill. In the case of entertaining, technically you are a guest in someone's home and that goes with the hosting territory, everyone has an accident from time to time and according to proper etiquette you are not required to replace an item or pay for its cleaning but it is indeed a kind gesture to show goodwill. I know for myself, personally, unless it's more than an inexpensive glass that is broken where the hostess shrugs it off, I attempt to do whatever I can to clean an item myself or have it replaced. In the case of saying something that offended someone which extends to their family or others, ask what you can do to make things right. Ask them if they are okay with you contacting the other person/people in question before doing so. After you apologize, leave it at that, it is not to be discussed again. At that point hopefully they will see your sincerity and forgive you for  what took place.

Are there any other considerations you take into account when you are apologizing to someone?

Thanks for Reading!

XO

Monday, January 13, 2014

Manners Monday: How to Properly Make an Introduction



Even in today's more causal society, making an introduction is an important tradition and social grace. There is no worse feeling than being in the company of a friend or significant other while they bump into someone they know or while mingling at a party and you are left on the sidelines to introduce yourself. In the case of a date or relationship, the choice for them not to introduce you raises a few questions: Are they unsure where the relationship is headed? Do they not want to share too much information with others too soon into a relationship? OR Do they just lack civility and good manners?



It's always best to make introductions from the beginning of meeting another person. Depending on age, gender and relationship there are a few aspects that will affect how you do introduce one person to another. Below are some guidelines.

1. Age before Gender: The younger person present is always introduced to the older person present. It shows a level of respect and regard for the eldest person. An example of a man in his 40's and a woman in her 20's meeting at a party would go something like this: "Mr. Dawson, I'd like you to meet Maria Smith". This is not only true because a lady is being introduced to a man, the same holds true if a younger man were to meet an older woman.

2. Ladies First- When introducing two people of similar age, perhaps at a dinner party, within a college class, at a church group, etc., it would then be appropriate to introduce the man to the woman. An example of this would be: "Maria, I'd like you to meet one of my dearest friends, Tom Green." Immediately afterwards, the man can be addressed with, "Tom, this is my college roommate Maria Smith".

3. Add Interest & Detail- Don't become so caught up in formalities that the introduction feels stale. People are naturally curious and always enjoy knowing how the person who is doing the introductions knows the other parties being introduced or how they met. Using Maria and Tom as my examples from above, you could take things a bit further and say: "Maria, I'd love for you to meet one of my dearest friends whom I traveled all around Europe with last year, Tom Green." Tom, this is my college roommate who just received an internship on wall street." Likewise, you always want to keep the  focus on the person, emphasizing them: "This is Maria, my roommate." instead of  "This is my roommate, Maria".

4. Tricky Names- Everyone likes to hear their name pronounced correctly, sometimes it takes more than one try for that to happen. When introducing others be sure to say the names as clearly as you can so the other people being introduced will hear the proper pronunciation. If there is another natural moment to repeat the name, feel free to do it if you feel the other person didn't catch it. You can always ask the person whose name is a challenge for you to say it correctly and to forgive your mispronunciation.

5. Taking Action vs. Doing Nothing-If you find yourself in a situation where you're truly stumped as to which order to introduce one person to another or the introduction is with someone of high rank,etc., instead of bowing out gracefully because you're afraid to make the wrong move, do the best you can. Make an introduction in the best way you know how is far better than not making any introduction at all which is considered to be rude.



Have you ever experienced an awkward introduction? What made it so?

Thanks for Reading!

XO




*image source

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's Our 5 Year Blogiversary!



As I mentioned in this post the other day, today marks my 5th year blogging which is a bit mind boggling! I've enjoyed every moment of it and so glad you all have joined along for the ride.

I'm keeping things short and sweet, I'm going to celebrate as I do every year with a cupcake from my favorite local shop. :)

Just for fun, in honor of my five years, here are 5 things you may not know about me:

1. I've traveled to 25 countries, nearly all of them within the past 7 years with my world-traveler hubby. My two favorites are Paris and Santorini.

2. Several years ago, I used to model hair and makeup for a QVC-like show in Toronto called The Shopping Channel. (TSC) At the time I worked part-time as a server at a high-end steak house while modeling and actually was recognized by a patron. ;)

3. I used to be a Certified Personal FitnessTrainer. Optimal health is a huge passion and of mine.

4. I met my husband online while living in Canada via ChristianCafe.com. We were engaged 3 months later.

5. I've spent the majority of my life searching for pants that are cute and long enough. I'm 5'9 1/2" and have always had a hard time finding 34" length jeans and dress pants. Thankfully longer pants have become more widely available.

Since this is a new year and a milestone blogging year for me, I'm offering all of our monthly ad space and social media mention posts for 50% OFF using code 5YEARS at checkout. I'm going to offer it up to the first 3 consecutive months for anyone that wants to lock in that price. For full details, visit our ad space page.

Spots go quickly so grab yours before it's gone. This offer is valid until 1/15/14.

If you're a blogger, I'm curious, how long have you been blogging for. What have you enjoyed the most?

Thanks for Reading!

XO

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fashion Friday: Classy Workout Clothes


Once Jan.1st hits the gyms become packed, people buy a brand new pair of running shoes to kick off the start of a new program and no new workout commitment would be complete without the introduction of some new workout gear. There's something about the investment of all that newness (although not essential) that makes one feel ready to tackle their fitness goals. You might as well look good while sculpting a brand new body, right?

A classy woman puts her best effort into all that she does including how she presents herself to the world in her daily work life, time spent out on the town, at home as well as in the gym. While it's not essential to have a new workout wardrobe (and in some cases these may be items that don't fit into your current budget), it is essential to look put together instead of frumpy using what you already own. Too many times I've seen women working out in what appears to be their man's sweats. They look to be about 2 sizes too big (perhaps an attempt to hide the weight they wish to shed) not realizing that this makes them look larger than they actually are not to mention sloppy and as if they have no sense of pride in their appearance. I personally don't even own any of the aforementioned "sweats" always opting for more form-fitting fitness attire which allows me to focus on and see the muscle group I'm working.

Depending on how often you plan to work out, it's important to have the right amount of workout gear, because after a super sweaty session, everything needs to go straight into the washing machine, re-wearing is not an option even if you only lifted weights and don't "feel" sticky and sweaty. Gym clothing is notorious for breeding bacteria and you don't want that against your skin as it can cause irritation, breakouts and infections not to mention that it's just plain gross, so it's best to take it off as soon as possible, get showered and into clean clothing.






If you're planning to work out 3-5x per week and wash laundry fairly regularly you can get away with purchasing less workout gear.

Essential Workout Gear:

(2) pairs of full length yoga pants for cooler weather
(1) pair of capri length yoga pants for warmer weather
(2) pairs of running shorts for summertime runs and cardio workouts
(1) pair of quality running shoes that properly fit the shape of your foot and arch
(3) t-shirts that are slightly body skimming but not tight
(2) tank tops-perfect for summer or a super-sweaty cardio session
(1) black sport skirt for tennis, running and more. (the ruffled/tiered options are really playful and pretty)
(3) sports bras that properly fit your bust and keep you supported while wicking moisture away
(1) black zip up long-sleeved collared workout jacket
(5) pairs of white ankle length gym socks (or no-show gym socks)
(2) hair bands/(1) package of hair elastics and a few clips or bobby pins to hold stray hairs in place




What to Look for in Your Workout Gear:

1. Comfort-I prefer soft fabrics that are breathable. This is a must-have for socks and underwear, and for that reason mine are always cotton. However, most workout gear is made of performance fabrics which are man-made and provide a lot of stretch. Have fun with it and choose an array of fun colors for tops and the basics of dark gray, black and navy for bottoms. I always choose tops that cover my bust area well so that if I'm bending over, my lady bits aren't visible (a good sports bra will help with this too). Likewise, pants need to sit up high enough that underwear aren't seen and your bottom is fully covered when you bend over.

2. Stretch-An essential part of workout gear is the "stretch" factor. When performing yoga moves, stretching or running, it's essential that the fabric move with you easily with you. The good news is most workout clothing these days has stretch built in.

3. Moisture-Wicking-It's important to wear clothing that will wick away moisture during a workout. Performance fabrics and natural bamboo are great examples of this, bamboo is actually anti-bacterial also. Performance/Technical fabrics do a great job of keeping you dry by pulling sweat away from your body and not holding it there as some natural fabrics do, helping to keep you warm also.

4. Stylish-When I go to the gym I certainly am not dressing to impress others but looking good just makes you feel good. Who wants to wear workout gear from the 80's when there are so many comfortable and beautiful options today? I typically keep my bottoms darker and go for a punch of color such as hot pink on top.

5. Seamless Undergarments-Whether you opt to wear thongs or full coverage panties, make sure they are seamless, cotton is best as it is breathable. Just as with a beautiful dress or great pair of pants, nothing ruins an outfit faster than visible panty lines. There are so many options these days that this should never be an issue.



Workout gear can range in price. What I recommend spending the money on is properly fitting workout bras and bottoms such as yoga pants. The cheaper ones don't always fit as well, often fade quickly and don't offer an array of lengths. I love LuLuLemon for yoga bottoms, they also happen to give your tush a little lift which makes you feel great. Zella is another great brand, they feel so great you can live in them at home-so comfy! The material doesn't fade and they last far longer than the other brands I've tried. For sports bras, I love Victoria's Secret sport, Champion for Target and I've been known to find some great tops and bras from discount retailers like TJMaxx, Marshall's and the like, even some on the clearance racks. Lately, I'm loving the workout options from Nordstrom online because they offer free shipping and free returns too if  something doesn't fit-less time driving and shopping, more time for working out!




Below are some of my current favorite workout pieces, if you're in the market for some new apparel, these will help you put together a new workout wardrobe of quality. If your budget is tight, evaluate what you currently own and use the best of what you've got. As you're able to, add in the items you're lacking over time as finances permit until you have a more complete workout wardrobe. I would focus on bottoms, bras and running shoes first. You can always get away without having fancy moisture-wicking socks, t-shirts and tanks, you can use what you have there instead.



If you cannot afford a gym membership or simply find it more feasible to workout from home to a DVD given time constraints or balancing a schedule with kids, I highly recommend ballet barre, yoga and anything by Jillian Michael's.


The great part about wearing more ladylike, classy workout clothing is that if you must run an errand on the way to the gym you won't mind being seen. You can use this gear for all of your outdoor needs too such as light hiking, trail walking, jogging, running etc.What are some of your favorite brands of workout gear?

Thanks for Reading!

XO




*image sources: all Nordstrom

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Celebrating 5 Years and a Deal for My Readers!



On Sunday the 12th I will be celebrating 5 years of blogging. People say this all the time upon reflecting over a stretch of time in their life but now I'm the one asking, "Where did the time go?" It truly did zoom by but then again doesn't time fly when you're having fun?

Some begin a blog as a hobby, others to document their family life and daily adventures, DIY home projects, a journey they are experiencing, as a travel diary, there are so many reasons to start a blog. For me, this blog was born out of a passion to educate, inspire, communicate with other like-minded individuals who are committed to personal growth and encourage others to live their best life, regardless of upbringing and financial status. I feel the same way today as I did when I began, I've just learned a few more lessons along the way. The truth is many days this blog is writing me as much as I'm writing it. The very post where I share insight and pray it will bless someone else often blesses me the most in unexpected ways.

I've enjoyed many wonderful opportunities that I hadn't thought possible as a result of blogging. One of the most unexpected blessings has been "meeting" so many other amazing and talented bloggers and readers from all over the globe. Without all of YOU, your sweet comments, thought-provoking questions, support and sense of community over these past five years, none of this would be what it is today. I have a lot more posts up my sleeve that I'm looking forward to sharing and I hope you'll continue to join me as we explore new topics.






In honor of my 5th year blogging and this new year 2014, as a special thank you to my valued readers I'm offering 50% off ALL monthly ad space in the ad shop as well as one-time social media mentions sent from our growing communities such as Twitter shout outs, Instagram mentions, Pinterest Pins and Facebook shares.

So, whether you want to get the word about about your brand new or established blog, drive traffic to your business website, get some new eyes to look at your latest creations on your Etsy page, find you on Facebook, learn about your non-profit, etc., we can help! Just use the promo code: 5YEARS at checkout to take advantage of this limited time offer.



This applies to a single month up to 3 months worth of ad space subscription, so if you'd like to lock in this reduced price for a few consecutive months, you can do that too. We have a lot of sponsors who renew their ads for several months in a row. :)



Click {HERE} to read more about the ad space and special social media mentions that we offer. You can also view our stats such as monthly page views, social media follower count and more! Aside from your ad, you'll also be mentioned in our special Sponsor Spotlight featured post at the end of the month, giving readers another chance to learn all about you and visit your page. Here's an example of a previous Sponsor Spotlight post, we'll be starting this up again for January and I'm looking forward to having you on board!

There are a defined number of ad spaces each month so grab yours now before they're gone!




Thank you for your continued love and support!

XOXO

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Join me on Instagram!




Do you use Instagram? I do! Actually, I set up an account over a year ago and then suddenly one day after an iPhone update, I was no longer able to post my images anymore. After fiddling around with it, I was able to post some photos a month ago but without captions and I wasn't able to reply to anyone's comments on my own or others' profiles which was really frustrating. 

Miraculously, it began working again yesterday so I've begun posting pics. I created a backup account in my own name just in case this one goes on the fritz again but it looks like it's good to go now. 

Sooo, if you'd like to follow along and see what inspires me or take a peek at some candid shots of my day-to-day life and moments with our sweetie pea Lily, come on over and join me. You can click {this link} to take you to the page or find me @TheClassyWoman. 

I hope to see you there! Thanks for Reading!

XO

Monday, January 6, 2014

Manners Monday: How To Handle Drop-In Guests




One of the trickiest things to manage graciously while being caught off guard is a drop-in visitor. You know the ones who show up uninvited and unannounced? It typically takes place at a time that is completely inconvenient, when your home is the least presentable or when you're dressed in a nightgown while relaxing at home or are otherwise engaged.

Now, I'm all for fun surprises and I love my friends and family dearly but I find myself in this situation from time to time and it's sometimes a bit awkward. There are basically two choices, let them in after you become decent/drop what you're doing or find a clever and gracious way to let them know you're unavailable. Technically there are three, because you could just simply not answer the door at all and pretend as though you aren't home (which if you are sick, may be a good option) however, I personally prefer not to lie or pretend and just face whomever arrives.The key is to do what feels best to you and respond in the most polite and kind way possible. There is no sense in inviting drop-by guests into your home if it's truly a bad time for you, they'll sense it, you will likely regret your decision later and it will make everyone feel uncomfortable.

A classy woman does not feel an obligation to invite an unexpected guest into her home simply because they've arrived on her doorstep. If she does, she'll be left dealing with how to get them to leave. The best response is so say, "Thank you for dropping by, so and so, but this isn't a good time for me. Give me a call in a couple days and we'll get together sometime soon."




If the same person tends to drop-by on a regular basis unannounced or gives you very short notice via voice mail, text message, e-mail etc., it may be time to have a conversation with them to let them know your boundaries and what you're comfortable with. They may not have even thought twice about it if they were raised with an open-door, drop-in anytime kind of family. On the flip side, they may feel a bit annoyed and may not see what the issue is if it's commonplace for them (we've experienced this with family over the years).

At the end of the day, you need to live authentically, stay true to yourself and do what makes you feel most comfortable. Some people (myself included) enjoy more quiet time and privacy than others and guests must respect this.

Of course, this is also a good reminder to all of us to always call ahead before arriving at a friend or family member's home. Most people like to have a bit of advance notice and preparation if for no other reason than the opportunity to be a good host/hostess. If you do show up on short notice and are invited in, adhere to these simple rules on how to avoid overstaying your welcome.

Have you found yourself in this position? What do you say and/or how do you typically respond?

Thanks for Reading!

XO




*image source

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Happier New Year to You!



Hi There and Happy 2014!! I hope you all had a fabulous New Year's Eve and are starting today off in a way that will help shape your year with the goals and dreams you have in mind or at least relaxing with a favorite hot beverage and favorite book or magazine in hand. :) Yesterday was special because like our first Christmas spent as a family of three, it was Lily's first NYE but our little party animal was asleep before the count of 5..4..3..2..1. If you visited our Facebook community today you saw a peek into our evening, you can see a few family pics here.

The beautiful thing about the new year is it offers a fresh start, a 'reset' button if you will. Whatever happened last year, the circumstances thrown your way or the decisions you would have made differently, we have another chance to "get it right". I'm a big believer that our thoughts shape our world and in the spirit of creating a more positive life for ourselves (and because I'm also a lover of lists), I thought I'd share this one that is sure to inspire.

The other day a friend linked to a great article that I couldn't help but share with you all. We all have areas where we could benefit from letting go, below are 20 things that when removed from our mind make for a much more enjoyable and happy life. This article was found on MindBodyGreen, a site I just discovered which I'm loving for all kinds of great advice, recipes and information. This particular list was written by Shannon Kaiser and you can find her original article link here.








Here are 20 things to let go of in order to reach unlimited happiness.
1. Let go of all thoughts that don't make you feel empowered and strong.
2. Let go of feeling guilty for doing what you truly want to do.
3. Let go of the fear of the unknown; take one small step and watch the path reveal itself.
4. Let go of regrets; at one point in your life, that “whatever” was exactly what you wanted.
5. Let go of worrying; worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.
6. Let go of blaming anyone for anything; be accountable for your own life. If you don’t like something, you have two choices, accept it or change it.
7. Let go of thinking you are damaged; you matter, and the world needs you just as you are.
8. Let go of thinking your dreams are not important; always follow your heart.
9. Let go of being the “go-to person” for everyone, all the time; stop blowing yourself off and take care of yourself first … because you matter.
10. Let go of thinking everyone else is happier, more successful or better off than you. You are right where you need to be. Your journey is unfolding perfectly for you.
11. Let go of thinking there's a right and wrong way to do things or to see the world. Enjoy the contrast and celebrate the diversity and richness of life.
12. Let go of cheating on your future with your past. It’s time to move on and tell a new story.
13. Let go of thinking you are not where you should be. You are right where you need to be to get to where you want to go, so start asking yourself where you want to go.
14. Let go of anger toward ex lovers and family. We all deserve happiness and love; just because it is over doesn’t mean the love was wrong.
15. Let go of the need to do more and be more; for today, you've done the best you can, and that's enough.
16. Let go of thinking you have to know how to make it happen; we learn the way on the way.
17. Let go of your money woes — make a plan to pay off debt and focus on your abundance.
18. Let go of trying to save or change people. Everyone has her own path, and the best thing you can do is work on yourself and stop focusing on others.
19. Let go of trying to fit in and be accepted by everyone. Your uniqueness is what makes you outstanding.
20. Let go of self-hate. You are not the shape of your body or the number on the scale. Who you are matters, and the world needs you as you are. Celebrate you!

I don't know about you, but I found several areas that I could let go of and do without-13, 15 and 16 spoke to me in particular. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below if any of these spoke to you. 
Thanks for Reading!
XO
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