Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Girls trips celebrate being friends!

Here are a few pictures from my beach weekend with the girls.  Fun times, good friends, great memories...

When people see us together on the beach they often ask us if we are there to celebrate something.  They seem surprised that we are just there to spend time with each other.  Like we need a "reason" to go on a trip with our friends.  I suppose maybe we are there celebrating something... FRIENDSHIP.  One thing that I have learned over the years is how important it is to spend time with your friends.  Women need the bonds of close friendships.  It's easy to get lost in a relationship, building a career or raising children  but you really have to keep your girlfriends close and make an effort to spend time with them.  Your girlfriends support you, cheer you on, challenge you and understand you in ways that your husband, children or boss can't.  Don't get lost in trying to be everything to everyone else in your life - take time to just be you and that will make you better at all the other stuff.  I hope 20 years from now I am still heading off to the beach with a bunch of fun girlfriends.

What do you do to spend time with your friends to balance out your busy life?

Monday, June 24, 2013

To be married to a man who makes you laugh

I thought I would share this today in honor of my anniversary to the man that has made me giggle everyday for the past 18 years!  Thanks for all the laugh lines and wrinkles, they have all been worth it!!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Maxi Dress - Trend of the Month Challenge

Today I am participating in a Trend of the Month Challenge with MarionBerry Style.  In the middle of each month she announces a trend and you have one week to style a look to be included in the challenge.  Be sure to visit her blog to check out more maxi looks.

This month's trend is Maxi dresses and skirts.  They have obviously been around for a while but I had never bought one until recently.  I love the way the look on other people but I wasn't sure if my short frame could carry it off.  I found this beautiful Calvin Klein maxi dress and TJ Maxx and it was such a great deal that I decided to go for it.  Shortly after I bought the dress, MarionBerry Style announced this month's trend challenge.  So I thought, "I'm in!".  This will force me to style it and see if I like it or not.

I wore my new maxi dress on Father's Day to church and the rest of the afternoon.  It was very comfortable and I'm glad I bought it.  It looks pink in these pictures but it is actually more of a raspberry color with a slight empire waist.  It is a very casual and comfy dress.  You can't see my shoes but I'm wearing cork wedges.

Dress:  Calvin Klein via TJ Maxx.  Less than $30.

Woven Clutch:  The Loft here.  I caught it 40% off.

Sunglasses:   Dolce and Gabbana's you can find here.

Necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelet:  Silpada.

Silver Watch: Fossil via TJ Maxx. Only $35.

The back of this dress was the selling point for me.  I absolutely love it. 

I'm still not sure how I feel about myself in a Maxi dress, but it was very comfortable.  My husband says it looks like a muu muu.  I wanted to share this post with you today because sometimes it's hard to put on things when you know you don't look the way you wish you could look.  I wish I was taller and I wish had a smaller caboose, but this is what I have to work with.  Learning how to dress the body you have is one of the biggest challenges and beginning stages of developing your own style.  I'm just an everyday girl, working a full-time job, raising kids, and trying to stay fit and healthy.  Dressing the body I have in clothes that make me look polished and feel confident is my main goal.  We don't have to be a size 0 to do that, we just have to learn how to "accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative".

In looking around at other maxi dresses, I think I like the idea of having a belted or defined waist line. (Maybe that would reduce the muu muu look.)  Here are some other maxi dresses I have found that I like:

How do you feel about the MAXI trend?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Beach Night Stylin'

The beach is one of my very favorite places!!  I have so many happy memories from my childhood going on beach vacations with my family and friends.  I don't think I've missed a summer at the beach, well, EVER.  This week I am getting ready to head to the beach for my annual girls trip and I'm so excited.  Yesterday I covered my top 10 beach bag essentials so today I thought I would cover options for beach night styling.  So much of it depends on what you think you might be getting into, but here are some options:

My all time favorite beach outfit has to be cut-offs, a tank top and some flops, what's yours?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Beach Bound with the Girls - Beach Bag Essentials

Later this week I am heading out of town for my annual girls trip to the beach with some of my closest friends.  We've been doing this for eight years now and we look forward to it every year.  It's just the girls and we get to get away from work, kids and all responsibilities and have a blast.  Over the year's I've developed a list of  essential items I need to have in my beach bag.  Here they are:

  1. A great new bathing suit.  This is actually my new bikini I bought this year from Buckle.
  2. A fun, colorful beach towel.
  3. An iPod full of fun tunes.
  4. Advil - enough said!
  5. Polarized sunglasses.  You can find these here.
  6. Rubber flops that won't be hurt by sand and water, these are Roxy.  I found a great pair like this at TJ Maxx recently.
  7. A monogrammed koozie to keep your beverages cool and so you remember which drink is yours.
  8. SUNSCREEN please!  Nothing less than SPF 15 for me.
  9. An easy, breezy cover up.
  10. Vaseline lip therapy.  I'm addicted!

What else do you put in your beach bag?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Meetings: Cheer or Cringe? Tips to help you prepare for your first meeting

Recently, I heard a colleague say something to effect of:  “The only people that enjoy meetings are people who have worked for five years or less; everyone else hates meetings”.  We laughed, but there is some truth to it.  I remember how much I enjoyed meetings during my first few years at my job.  That was my opportunity to interact with other people on my staff, hear other people’s thoughts and ideas and learn more about my organization.  Now, I’m one of those old-timers who cringes at the thought of a meeting because I typically have at least 50 emails in my inbox that need my attention (but that’s another blog post) instead of sitting in a meeting. 

I remember sitting in my first staff meeting in Career Services at being completed overwhelmed and at a loss to most of what everyone was talking about.  My head was spinning so fast I couldn’t even decide what to take notes on much less contribute to the conversation.  That’s to be expected, you are joining an intact group that is in various stages of different projects and initiatives, your job is just to get a handle on everything that is going on.  So, don’t feel bad if you are feeling a little un-informed, but you don’t want to feel unprepared.  Here are a few tips to help you prepare for your first meeting:

1.        Review the agenda ahead of time and bring it to the meeting.  If there are topics on the agenda that you are not familiar with do some research or ask around the office and see what you can find out about it prior to the meeting.  Listen to what others are saying and don’t over-contribute in your first meeting.  There will be opportunities in the future for you to share your thoughts and opinions when you have more context on the topics and understand the dynamic better. 

2.       Bring a notebook and take notes during the meeting.  Jot down questions you have throughout the meeting and follow up with your supervisor to find out more.  Make note of any action items and dates.  You can find some great leather bound notebooks and meeting organizers, but a plain old spiral bound notebook works just fine as well.  (My intern, Christina, always took copious notes on these cute Kate Spade notebooks.  She brought them to every meeting so we always had a running list of things we had discussed in previous meetings.)

This one is from Levenger

These are from At A Glance

3.       Arrive a few minutes early and take a seat at the table.  This is great time to have some casual “chat” time with your new co-workers and get to know people a little more.  DON’T bury your nose in your cell phone or iPad, talk to people.

4.       Plan your introduction.  If you will be meeting with people outside of your office or department make sure you plan your introduction ahead of time and take the initiative to introduce yourself to people and begin networking and making connections.

5.       Turn your cell phone on silent and keep it off the table.  Nothing is more important than business at that time (unless you are truly waiting on an important call in which case you should let the leader of the meeting know ahead of time).  If you need to use your phone to check your calendar, make sure you are only on your phone to check your calendar and that it’s obvious that is what you are doing.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Fashion Friday: Casual Fridays in the office, what does that mean?

My office has a strict "NO JEANS" policy.  We aren't ever allowed to wear jeans, even on our pseudo "casual Fridays".  Casual Friday in my office really means you can wear your Career Services polo shirt with some slacks (I don't really feel comfortable in this look).  So, for those of us who don't like to wear the Career Services polo shirt we tend to be less formal on Fridays - think Smart Casual minus the jeans option. Here is something I might wear on a casual Friday:

The white blazer adds a touch of professionalism to the otherwise casual look.  Casual Fridays are a fun time to wear some color (these bright green pants add a pop of spring color) and some fun jewelry.  The wedge sandals are both colorful and comfortable.

Casual Friday does not mean you can come dressed for the gym or the beach.  No sweats, shorts, tennis shoes or workout gear.  No flip flops, shorts or tank tops.  Remember, you are still in a professional environment and conducting business.  I just can't take someone seriously in a work environment when they are dressed too casually.  Casual Friday does not mean weekend wear (casual or club).

If you are able to wear jeans to the office they should be dark wash and trouser cut- think fashion jeans.  Skinny jeans with flats or pumps when paired with tailored and professional top can look really sharp.

  1. skinny jeans with platform shoes
  2. ripped up boyfriend jeans with strappy heels
  3. casual jeans and tennis shoes

Take the opportunity to show a little more of your personality with color, jewelry and accessories.  These can really dress up an otherwise casual outfit and make it look very smart and classy.  Just remember, you never know who might walk in the office that day (a big client, the VP, etc) so you always want to portray a professional image.

Here is what I am ACTUALLY wearing today (look familiar):

Thanks to my co-worker, Ali, for snapping this pic of me outside our office (on my cell phone so not a quality shot).  White blazer, colorful cropped pants, comfortable wedge sandals and some fun jewelry.

Here are some other looks I've spotted on Pinterest that I love for Casual Fridays.

Hope you have some fun dressing for your next Casual Friday!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

4 Ways LinkedIn can be useful to you as a professional

Back in November I did a post called, Developing a Strong LinkedIn Profile.  I recently ran across this infographic which I thought was the perfect follow-up to that blog post.  This infographic looks at what to do once you have your LinkedIn profile up and running.

Many people start a LinkedIn account and then have no idea what they are supposed to do with it.  I was guilty of that for the first few months I had mine.  I wasn't looking for a job and I'm not in sales or recruiting so I didn't really know how I was supposed to be using LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site, that really should have been all I needed to know, but still I hesitated doing much with it.  Then one day I sat down and tried to really work on my profile and use it as a marketing and branding tool for myself.  I might not be actively looking for a job right now, but I ALWAYS want the window of opportunity to be open so I decided I better look as good as possible in the social media world because you never know who is looking.

Here are four ways LinkedIn can be useful to you as a professional:

  1. It's a great job search tool.  If networking is the #1 way Americans find jobs (somewhere between 70-80%) then the #1 professional networking site, LinkedIn, should be the "go-to" tool.  
  2. It's a great professional development tool.  Join professional groups on LinkedIn and start joining in on the conversation.  Just today I got a link to a free webinar on how to network in the job search, links to several articles on career development, and a description of a great program a career center implemented at their school.  This is all expanding my knowledge and expertise in the career development field.
  3. It's a great branding tool.  Setting up my LinkedIn profile the way I want and sharing the information that I want others to know about me gives me some control over my digital footprint.  I can strategically develop my professional image and brand.  
  4. Oh yea, it's a great networking tool!  LinkedIn is how I manage most of my professional contacts.  If I meet someone at a conference or a meeting I will ask for their business card and then go connect with them on LinkedIn.  Now, I don't have to keep up with business cards and all of my professional contacts are handy all the time.  LinkedIn helps me connect with other professionals by suggesting people that I may know or want to connect with.  LinkedIn provides you with a wonderful avenue to reach out and connect with people for business and professional purposes.
How do you use LinkedIn?

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