Weekend Inspiration: In the Mood for Luscious Reds

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The Cold weather is here…
and I’m in the mood for warm reds.

Take a stroll through red inspirations
and have a luscious, lovely weekend!

 
Red is the ultimate cure for sadness 
~ Bill Blass

Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin.  That is a kick ass red lipstick.
~ Gwyneth Paltrow

"Red", I write "is the color of life. It's blood, passion, rage. It's menstrual flow and after birth. Beginnings and violent end. Red is the color of love. Beating hearts and hungry lips. Roses, Valentines, cherries. Red is the color of shame. Crimson cheeks and spilled blood. Broken hearts, opened veins. A burning desire to return to white.” 

~ Mary Hogan, Pretty Face

Give her two red roses, each with a note.  The first says, "For the woman I love", and the second, "For my best friend.."
~ anonymous

Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.
~ Samuel Ullman

Have a wonderful weekend!
 
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Lovely Hair: Flattering and Functional Alternatives to the Everyday Ponytail



Fashion is architecture: 
it is a matter of proportions.
Coco Chanel

I am probably one of the biggest over-users of every variation of the ponytail that there is.   However, occasionally I feel ambitious enough to try out a different hairstyle.  

I usually try it out on the weekends when I have more time to get used to styling it.   Then I test drive my new “do” during the week. 

There is nothing like a flattering hairstyle to make an interesting change to your silhouette.  A nice hairstyle adds dimension, texture and style to your look.



The big questions I consider when adopting a style into my hair repertoire is:

 

How quickly I can get the hairstyle done so my arms don’t start to get tired?  Sure, it’s probably more of an big indicator that I need to get to the gym given that my arms get tired doing my hair but this is a factor nonetheless.

Does it require hot devices?  Flat irons aren’t so tough to handle, but I find curling irons a little cumbersome.  All the wrapping and and rolling - not for me.  I tend to burn myself and nothing gets me more aggravated in the morning than hair styling injuries.  It’s bad enough I had to get out of bed.

Does it keep my hair out of my face? 
I don’t know how people let their hair hang in their face and their eyes without it annoying the heck out of them.  My vision is bad enough, the last thing I need is my  hair creating additional blind spots.

Based on these criteria, I’ve put together a little collection of beautiful hairstyle favorites that can be done with relative ease as well as tutorials on how to do these yourself.

Here are some stylish alternatives that are easy enough to do every day.


The ever popular, tuck...



Half up, half down...


 


Elegant twist into a offset bun...



The classic…relaxed ballerina bun...


The romance side braid...
Side braid variation into a bun...


I would love to hear which style you wear the best.

Have a stylish day!
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Steering Clear of Your Fiscal Cliff With Easy Budgeting


God wants us to prosper financially, to have plenty of money, to fulfill the destiny He has laid out for us.
Joel Osteen


With all the talk about fiscal cliffs, it is hard to feel optimistic about our finances.  What does this really means to all of us on a personal level in terms of managing our own finances?  All I know is that it is probably a good thing if we pay down our personal debt and try to accumulate some kind of savings for cushion and retirement.

Over the years I’ve read a lot about personal finance and tried different ideas, ditching ones that don’t work for me and keeping or modifying ones that made sense.  I’m no financial guru,  I just care about reducing financial stress in my life so I can spend the rest of my time enjoy other wonderful things in life.

Here are some simple personal finances strategies I use:

 

Track Your Spending

Track your expenses for a month or two by writing down everything.  I mean it - everything down to the penny!  If you have a smartphone, there are a lot of inexpensive apps where you can track your spending on your phone.  Make it a habit to track.

Another good way to track your expenses is by using your credit card statements.  Online statements usually have about a 24 hour delay but for the most part, they are an accurate way to keep track.  There is also a lot of relatively inexpensive software packages where you can download your bank transactions into.  They also allows you to create manual entries.  You should absolutely make the investment and get a personal finance software.  I use Quicken but there are a lot of good ones out there.

Keep all your receipts for everything you spend each day in your wallet.  If you didn’t get a chance to track the transaction right when it happened in your smartphone or in a notebook then keep the receipt and input it into your software at the end of the day or the end of the week.  (Warning: personal finance tracking can get additive!).  


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For years I tracked my spending at the end of each day.  I looked forward to sitting with my software and looking at the numbers change.  I really enjoyed it once I started earning decent money and I didn’t go over my budget.  

I’d say a healthy amount of tracking would be weekly or bi-weekly.  Don’t save it all up too long though, because wading through a pile of receipts is no fun and you will forget what you spent your money on.  Then the whole thing feels more like a chore.  Keep it light.  Grab a cup of tea or glass of wine before settling in to do your finances.  Enjoy it an look forward to it. 

Create a Realistic Budget Based on Your Actual Spending Habits

Once you know how you spend and what you are spending your money on.   Group your spending into different categories like: food, entertainment, cell phone, utilities, gym membership, clothing, rent, mortgage, property tax…you get the idea. 

When you are looking at your expenses on a monthly basis you might get some insight into where you can reduce and find a little bit of savings.  If you are handy in Excel, you can group these items fairly quickly then set as your budget limit that you don’t plan to exceed on a month to month basis. 

Now, look at where all your sources of income are coming from on a month basis and add them up.  Then take all the budget categories you created and add them up.  If you have extra money leftover congratulations!  That’s what you will sock away into savings.  If you need more money than your income provides, then you need to look at where you can cut back or make more money.

Generally it’s easiest to cut back on discretionary items first like hobbies, entertainment, groceries.  Then you might want to get creative in other areas.  For example, I had a $28 long distance plan on my home phone that I paid for monthly.  When I looked at the long distance calls I was making, it wasn’t worth paying that much every month.  So I cancelled the plan and got a long distance card that I re-fill whenever it runs out.  So far, I find I only re-fill the $20 card once every 3 months.  That’s a savings of $64 over 3 months or $256 a year by changing my long distance plan!

Get One Good Credit Card

You may be surprised that I’m  saying, “get a good credit card” rather than, “cut up all your credit cards” as a lot of personal finance strategies advise. 

Cutting up my credit cards never worked for me because I do a lot of stuff online.  I also use a lot of drive throughs and pay-at-the-pumps.  If I cut up all my credit cards, it would involve a lot more time wasting walking to ABMs getting cash and waiting for change.

It could be argued that credit cards make it too easy to spend.  However, if you adopt my first strategy of tracking every cent you spend on an app or personal finance software daily, you will already see on a daily basis how quickly you are spending and how much you have left over.  I find this a lot more useful than dealing with cash and a wallet full of loose change.  When I see on my smartphone app that I only have $12 in my budget leftover for eating out and there are still 3 more days left before the end of the month, I know not to spend on a big meal.


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Using a debit card instead also works well for tracking your finances, however, I haven’t found a rewards card that I like that has a debit option.  That may change, but for now I’m sticking with my credit card.

When picking a credit card that works for you, think about what your goals are and your lifestyle.  When I was in my 20s and living alone, it was a big deal to me to visit my parents in Florida so I used a rewards card that had travel points that I could use towards airfare.  As I grew into my 30s and started a family my big priority was getting cheap groceries (it still is).  So I have a  grocery rewards card.  Think about what your big purchases are on, then try to get a card that helps you out with meeting your goals.

Use your card for everyday transactions but pay it off as you go.  You can make as many payments to your credit card as you want without incurring any kind of transaction fees (debit cards sometime charge you for transactions after a certain number, depending on your bank). 

By using your credit card for daily expenses that you have budgeted for, you are helping yourself accrue your rewards points faster. 

What is all of this for?  At the end of all this budgeting and tracking we hope to be a little bit richer than last month.  You can track this by calculating your net worth at the end of each month.

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Track Your Net Worth

Net worth is generally calculated by adding up all your savings, assets and investments and subtracting all your debt and liabilities.  This number should get bigger each month.  Even if it is a minuscule increase amount every month, your goals is to have inflow to your net worth, not outflow.
 
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Enjoy the process of growing your net worth and tracking your finances.  And remember, there's nothing wrong with getting rich slow...just get started on the path.

 
What are some things you do to keep your budget on track?  

Comment or send me your questions.  I'd love to hear from you.  
   


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How to Survive a Dissatisfying Job

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.
William Shakespeare


I have had a few jobs in my life and the one thing I have learned in process of having different jobs is that the bad jobs really helped me narrow down what I really didn’t wanted to be doing.  


If you’re like most people you probably need to work to bring in some sort of income.  Most people work, on average about 40% of their waking hours, if not more.  I learned early on that my overall quality of life and happiness is affected by whether or not I enjoy what I do for a living. 



There are always aspects of any job that people find dissatisfying.  But what do you do when you feel you can’t tolerate it any longer?  

Here are some strategies to help overcome dissatisfying work.




Start with a self search...

Determine why your job is dissatisfying.  Ask yourself: Is because you are under employed and not using your skills you would like?  Is it because your organization is poorly run or has poor management?  Ask yourself, if you had the power to create any job that you would naturally thrive in, what would your dream work be?  

Don’t automatically jump to narrowing it down to a job title.  Think about what qualities you want in a job.  Do you want to be working alone or with others?  Do you want people reporting to you or do you want to work alone?  Do you want to be paid by commission for performance or a salary?  Do you like long projects or no projects?  The list goes on!  

Go wild and explore every aspect until you’ve narrowed down at least 15 or more qualities that would exist in a perfect job for you.

Change your perspective or change your job?...

Once you’ve done that, determine if it is a matter of you changing your perspective of your current job or if you really should be preparing yourself to exit to find the work qualities you want.  

Write down how you feel about your job.  Record good days and not so good ones.  Do this for at least a month or longer.  You may find you have different insights that will help you figure out what direction you should take to improve your situation.


Deciding to change your perspective and improve your situation…

If you decide that you have it good in your current job, then stay at your job but continue to journal.  Don’t hesitate however to make things more interesting for yourself.  

For example, if you were feeling bored at work, try getting more involved in leadership roles at work to make things more interesting. Or if leadership isn’t your thing,  join a committee and become more active.  

If your work is making your stressed, you may want to consider different outlets for relaxation like taking walks on your break, exercising after work, joining a club or yoga studio or learning meditation techniques.

If you aren’t feeling challenged enough at work, you may want to consider doing things outside of work that stretch your mental capacity like taking a course or volunteering in the community that uses the abilities you would like to use; like becoming treasurer or event organizer for an organization or a church, or taking up a martial art that requires quick thinking and strategy.

Deciding to change your job...

If you decide you do need to change your job, don’t fret!  That’s pretty exciting too.  Good for you for making a decision!  Now, you have some preparation and research to do.  You may be fortunate enough that you can stay in your organization and change jobs but don’t assume that your organization will be willing to change your job for you.  You will have to do some leg work.  Although, some organizations are very adaptable in offering things like flex work and telecommuting.  Look into these programs through your human resources department. 


Keep it to yourself…for now...

If the direction you would like to take eventually involves you leaving your job, keep it to yourself and continue doing your best work, but begin formulating your plan of action.  This is for a number of reasons: In case it takes longer than you planned to create your new opportunity, you don’t want your superiors considering you to be a disloyal employee.  Plus, you never know.  What if the job you are looking for surfaces at your current place of employment?  Also, you don’t ever want to burn bridges.  It’s a small world and chances are, you will run into someone again, somewhere.  They may also be great for networking to find other opportunities.

Make it your part-time job to start your plan...

Based on what you determined was lacking in your job and where you want to be, start filling in the gap and begin self-educating.  Create steps that you need to take on what you need to do to achieve your goal of changing jobs.  For example, start looking for postings in the field of work you want.  Start talking to people in that industries to create contacts that might be able to tell you about vacancies.  Make it a point to send out at least 1 - 3 custom resume and cover letters every day.

Try researching and reading the information you need...

You can do some of the best self study by using career services at local government agencies or reading books and blogs on careers at the library or on the internet.  Many career-direction books have workbooks built into them that provide a nice framework on what steps to think about next. 


If your plan is to start your own business.  Start creating business contacts, research your demographic, start building your website.  Begin drafting your business plan.

Keep in mind that these steps may change as you work through them.  That’s ok! 

At least you have started.  Sometimes some steps in a plan work out differently than you had planned and end up going in a much better direction than you had intended.  The point is you need to take action and begin. 

Don’t overspend...

A word of caution, don’t go spending a ton of money on expensive business cards and clothes until you are closer to needing them.  Unnecessarily creating expenses for yourself may create more stress and put you in a state of desperation.  And we don’t want to be desperate because desperate people make decisions for the wrong reasons.
 


Adopt the mindset of gratitude…

and don’t slip into self wallowing thoughts.  You were fortunate to come to realize that you need to explore a new avenue in your career.  And now you can!  Plus, you’ve got the best of both worlds in that you still have income and a job.  So, empower yourself by taking the reigns on your career and take the next steps.

Be of service...

Once you have achieved your goal of being satisfied in your job or business, be grateful and pay it forward by providing great service to the people you come into contact with.  Give back to the organizations that helped you.  Don’t forget that you are constantly evolving.  This may evolve into other new experiences and it may not be the last time that you must go through this process, but celebrate your progress every step of the way.


Drop me a comment or note.  I'd love to hear about your own career journey!







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12 Ways to Nurture Yourself On Long Breaks

10 Ways to Nurture Yourself On Long Weekend Breaks

You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. 

~ Buddha

 

Spend time with dear friends...


Catch up on your sleep...

Drink lots of water and take care of your body

Organize and tidy your household papers and files...

Learn a new recipe...

Purge and rotate your wardrobe...

Commune with nature...

Give freely...
   
Catch up on your reading...indulge in good fiction...

Take a really long baths…don’t forget your book...

Take your time doing nothing in particular 
with the ones you love...


Stop thinking…and be still…for a few moments...

This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness. 

Dalai Lama


 

 
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Pregnant and Gorgeous: How to Build Your Maternity Clothes Wardrobe

Pregnant and Gorgeous: Casual Maternity Wear

 























To be pregnant is to be vitally alive, thoroughly woman, and undoubtedly inhabited.
Anne Buchanan & Debra Klingsporn


There is nothing that can make a woman feel more vivacious than her own pregnancy. 




Every pregnant woman absolutely glows with beauty.  Pregnancy is such a joyful and miraculous experience in life...And maternity clothes immediately become part of that experience.  Thankfully there are lots of stylish options. 

Transitioning Your Wardrobe for Pregnancy:

 

Only add pieces that you need

Growing a baby belly doesn’t mean that you will immediately have to ditch your entire wardrobe.  Since the growth happens gradually, you have time to wear your current clothes while adding pieces that you need over time.  

For example, you can wear pants that have elastic waists until they are too snug to put on.  Pants or jeans with a button or zipper fly can be worn open with discreet camouflaging.  

One trick to extend the waistline of your non-maternity pants is to take a hair elastic band and loop it through the button hole then stretch it over the button so it creates a stretchy extension cord between the button and the hole.  Then, simply cover the extension cord with a long camisole, shirt or sweater.  

Or cover your extension cord with a BellaBand.  This super cool maternity gadget looks like a tube top but you wear it around your hips and belly.  It serves two purposes: to support your growing belly and cover up your zipper fly if you are extending the top of your pants.

If you do reach a point where the squeezing into your regular jeans is out of the question, many department and online stores carry a huge collection of designer maternity wear.  For example, you can find a lot of the pieces shown in this article from Shopbop.   Maternity at shopbop.com


Pregnant and Gorgeous: Casual Maternity Wear 2

 

Yoga pants

Another alternate option to hitting the maternity boutiques is to wear yoga pants.  Choose black because it goes with just about anything.  The tops of yoga pants can be folded under your growing belly as you grow.  It also provides nice support.  Plus, they are super comfortable.  When I was pregnant, I had three pairs that I could pull off wearing to work.  Just add a blazer, scarf and some accessories and your golden!

Get your clothes second hand

Women eventually part with their maternity wear.  Heaven knows, once you’ve had your baby and are back to your old size, you won’t want to see your maternity clothes.  So why not buy or accept second hand maternity wear?  

My girlfriends and I who were similar in size, had bins of maternity clothes that we circulated between us for a good part of a decade.  We had outfits for work, casual, swimwear and formal events.  I had these bins twice, and over the years, the collection would evolve.  It was a welcome alternative to buying everything brand new.

Pregnant and Gorgeous: Casual Maternity Wear 3

 

Wear dresses

As you get into your last trimester, it is highly unlikely the button-fly extension cord trick will work for you.  Dresses are a welcome, comfortable alternative.  They don’t feel restrictive, they are pretty, and you can wear them to just about anywhere including work. 

Make do, and when necessary pick up only what you need

As you grow, you will need to pick up items here and there.  I once was called for a job interview when I was seven months pregnant and was given very little notice.  I had to make do.  

I took stock of what I had.  Bought a nice black top, wore one of my regular blazers, (I just couldn’t shut it).  And yes, I even wore my best black yoga pants with heels.  I chose a simple flattering necklace and earring, and voila!  I got the job!  (Hopefully, they liked what I had to say too.)  The point is, you can look presentable without making a huge investment.

So embrace your belly beauty and enjoy your pregnancy.  

It only happens a few times in a woman’s life, sometimes less.  So remember your blessing, because in the end,  you are bringing a wonderful gift into the world.


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