Month: December 2011

Getting My Mind Ready for 2012

2012 new year ahead
I'm not really much of a New Year's Resolution person. I used to be . . . until I realized that, no matter what transpired during the previous twelve months, I always came up with the same, exact resolutions every. single. year. Lose weight. Pay off credit cards. Meet The One. Sleep More. Pray More. I would usually throw in the towel by January 3. After 10 (yes TEN) years of this same experience, I finally figured out that I was trying to make too many changes all at once. No matter how much I wished it was possible, I finally realized that nothing magical happens at midnight on December 31 that transforms me into the perfect version of myself. Eventually, I came up with a new end-of-the-year plan. While lists and deadlines are great, I find that having a broader approach helps to take away some of the anxiety going into the new year ("Must lose this many pounds . . . . must save this much money . . . ."). So, like professional blogger/writer/all-around-wellness guru Stephanie Quilao, I like to come up with an overarching "theme" for the year. Something that is easy to remember and will give me that little jolt of motivation when I find myself moving in the opposite direction of where I want to go in the core areas of my life. Last year, my theme was "Love" - love for self, family, friends, and strangers (Matthew 25:35). Moving into 2012? My theme is "Health & Wealth" - I want to work towards being more physically, financially, spiritually, and emotionally whole. To me, that sense of wholeness and fullness represents true wealth.
What about you? Do you set New Year's Resolutions? If, like me, you're more interested in reflection moving into the new year, check out some of these great articles and exercises: Victoria Moran - The Wonders of 'Prep Week' Happy Black Woman - Annual Review/Preview Mane and Chic - Prepping for 2012 and Taking Inventory of 2011 If you decide you want to kick it old school and create a list of resolutions, I highly recommend MJ Ryan's This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True. This is an amazing little book with bite-size, PRACTICAL advice to help you achieve your goals. Wishing you all a safe, happy, healthy, and FUN New Year!

Top 10 Shows I’m (Re-)Watching Over Christmas Break

Ready to celebrate One of my favorite things about the holiday season - besides, of course, spending quality time with family, eating Christmas goodies, and taking advantage of holiday sales - is to veg out in front of the tv. Networks love to host marathons over the holidays and I love to sit there and soak it all up. (In fact there are some shows that I only watch during the holiday marathons . . . yes Project Runway, I'm looking at you.) Whether you watch them on tv or online, here are the top ten shows that I will be watching over the Christmas break. 10. What Not to Wear - The quintessential makeover show. I learn something new every time I watch! 9. How Do I Look? - Same as above. I especially love it when they do those "teaching moments" to show the fashion victims how their style negatively impacts their lives. 8. Chelsea Settles - We first talked about Chelsea a few months back. I love this girl in every way and I've been so inspired watching her change her life. 7. Too Fat for Fifteen - I draw a lot of inspiration watching these kids fight for their lives. 6. Project Accessory - I have to admit that I was very skeptical when I heard about this Project Runway spinoff . . . but, I've grown to love this show. Not only because it presents all of the fabulousness of Project Runway, with its off-the-wall challenges, celebrity judges, and jaw-dropping creations, but also because it offers a remarkable view into just what goes into creating some of my favorite things in life - shoes, bags, and jewelry. 5. All-American Muslim - I haven't had a chance to watch this show yet, but I'm fascinated learning about other minorities and their experiences in this country. 4. Dance Moms - As a child who grew up taking dance and music lessons, I find this show to be simply delicious. My parents never let it get *that* serious and watching these girls and their moms, I see why. 3. Toddlers & Tiaras - Another indulgently-ridiculous, ultra-delicious guilty pleasure. 2. Braxton Family Values - It's hot.com. 1. (TIE) The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Beverly Hills. While Atlanta is just plain 'ol fashioned foolishness, it is strange to watch Bevely Hills because of what happened with Taylor's husband (I can't bring myself to even type it). But even last season you sort of knew there was something not. quite. right. there . . . so I find myself watching this season looking for clues about its eventual outcome. [/morbid]   So, that's me. What are YOU watching during this Winter Break?

Last Minute Off-the-Rack Party Looks!

Still haven't found the perfect outfit for that New Year's Eve party that's just FIVE days away? Check out these options that can be found on the racks . . . hopefully with all of the after-Christmas sales you can walk away with a great steal! Enjoy!

Last Minute Off-the-Rack Party Dresses
Last Minute Off-the-Rack Party Looks by curvyceo
Elie Tahari print dress $116 - macys.com

Alex Evenings off shoulder dress $158 from Nordstrom

One shoulder evening dress $62 from Macy's

Sequin Underlay Jumpsuit  $31 from Ashley Stewart

Monday Morning Memo – To the Malls We Go!

monday morning memo

"Once again, we come to the Holiday Season, a deeply religious time that each of us observes, in his own way, by going to the mall of his choice."  - Dave Barry

I'm sure many of you are heading to the malls for their post-Christmas sales. Whether your goal is to make an exchange of that ugly, ill-fitting sweater or to cash in that gift card to your favorite shop, I hope you get yourself something fabulous!

Merry Christmas!

virginmaryjesus

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,  And the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

Merry Christmas from Curvy CEO! 

Holiday Shopping Link Love

pink-mouse-link-love

Just six more shopping days until Christmas! I am almost done, but have one more major purchase to make . . . thankfully I am able to take some time off from work this week to hit the outlet malls. (Lord, help me.) In the meantime, several of the ladies of Capital Area Fashion and Beauty Bloggers have created awesome holiday shopping guides. Check them out for some great last minute gift ideas!

Happy shopping!

Monday Morning Memo – Christmas is Awesome!

monday morning memo

"Christmas is awesome. First of all, you get to spend time with people you love. Secondly, you can get drunk and no one can say anything. Third, you give presents. What's better than giving presents? And fourth, getting presents. So, four things. Not bad for one day. It's really the greatest day of all time." - "Michael Scott", The Office

 

With Christmas less than a week away, I hope you are enjoying what is, in all seriousness, the most awesome time of the year!

Guest Post: Top Five Gifts for the Frequent Traveler!

curvy ceo professional plus size woman

Today, I am so excited to feature this guest post from my girl over at Traveling Trips. She's the ultimate world traveler and I knew she would have a ton of great ideas!

Here it is!

So when Curvy CEO asked me to do a blog post on good gifts for frequent travelers, I was thrilled! I love to travel. I also love giving great gifts.  Combine that with my recent three-week stay in Africa that I am blogging about on Travelinga Trips (travelingatrips.blogspot.com), and I have fresh ideas for great travel gifts.

Here are five items with price ranges for everyone, from the budget-friendly to the budget-conscious.

1.  Laptop bag.  I know what you are thinking, but consider a laptop bag where you don't have to remove the laptop to go through airport security.  You like that, huh?  A guy on my last trip showed off his cool laptop bag and I thought, Finally! No more frantic rushing to get the laptop out of its case while praying that it doesn't get stolen between the time it hits the conveyor belt and the time needed to walk through security.  Several travel luggage manufacturers from Samsonite to Briggs & Riley worked with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to design laptop cases that meet "checkpoint friendly" standards.  Instead of removing the laptop, simply unhinge the laptop compartment and lay the bag down flat in a butterfly position to go through the scanner.  Eureka! 

2. Travel socks.  Ok, so how many times have you boarded a plane with cute open toe shoes or sandals only to freeze your tootsies off during the flight? One too many?  Well, how about a good pair of travel socks!  For the transatlantic flier, compression socks help to prevent deep vein thrombosis. For those who make quick trips every now and then, try warm non-socks with grippers on the sole to provide added comfort. Tucked in a carry-on bag, they can be pulled out anytime for a cozy treat on board.

3. iTunes gift card.  As Apple products grow in popularity, the hotel industry is catering to iPod, iTouch, and iPhone users by providing docking radios in rooms. That said, you can never have enough music!  Switching up playlists is a must for today's frequent traveler.  The best thing about gift cards is that you can give as little or as much as you want. 

4. Universal plug adaptor.  As I discovered on my African trip, you can never have too many adaptors when overseas.  Why you ask? Because one adaptor is not enough to charge your notebook, Blackberry, camera, iPod, and any other electronic device one may have when traveling.  So when it comes to adaptors, the more the merrier!  Kensington and Magellan's Travel Supplies both sell all-in-one adaptors for less than $20 that allow travelers to charge their devices in over 100 countries. 

5. Memory cards.   Given that I ran out of space on my memory card taking once in a lifetime pictures while on safari in Kenya (yes, a panic moment that I will never forget!), you would think this would be my number one gift idea.  After spending hundreds of dollars on a new camera, I simply opted to stick with an old memory card as I thought I had enough space remaining.  Boy was I wrong!  So, memory cards are great pick me uppers for people like me who simply don't think enough to pick these up before long trips. Gift a memory card with a nice size flashdrive so that if the memory card gets full on the trip, the pictures can be downloaded to the flashdrive for immediate storage.  Both are very lightweight, easily portable, and under twenty dollars.

Do’s and Dont’s of Office Gift Giving

Photo credit: nbc.com

"Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say 'Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth.'" - "Michael Scott", The Office

Gift-giving, in general, can be pretty tricky. Office gift-giving can be even trickier. ("Do I have to give a gift to everybody? What if my boss doesn't give me a gift in return - would that embarrass either of us?") But, by implementing a few simple tricks, you can come up with just the right gift giving strategy for your office colleagues.

DO pay attention. Take a look around. Do you have a co-worker that has an unnatural obsession with, say, a sports team, rock band, or clothing brand? If so, you will most definitely knock the ball out of the park by getting that co-worker a gift that fits in with that theme. So, for example, if you have a colleague who's got Beiber Fever, why not spring for a gift certificate to Ticketmaster so she (or, well, he . . . no judgment) can see the Beebs the next time he's in town. If a concert ticket is a little out of your price range, then maybe go for the super-deluxe-bonus-footage-galore concert dvd. But be sure to do a little investigative work first to find out whether she . . . or he . . . already has it. (Most hardcore fans will already have every version of every item ever released by their favorite performer *looks lovingly at my Michael Jackson dvd library*.)

[pullquote]A great place to find gifts for the office sports nut is SportsFanOutlet.com. This site has paraphernalia for virtually every team - collegiate, NBA, MLB, NHL, etc., etc.[/pullquote]

DON'T offend. So, you've been paying attention to your co-workers - what they like, what they don't like - and you decide that you've figured out the *perfect* gifts. Well, the next important step is to think about how those gifts will be perceived by the recipients. For example, you know for a fact that front office receptionist adores Victoria's Secret. You've often seen her return from lunch carrying those unmistakable pink-and-red shopping bags. Well, I can tell you that, as a working professional woman, I would be highly offended by any co-worker who calls him- or herself giving me some panties for Christmas. Even the beauty products can be tricky. I can just hear the internal dialogue now. ("Oh, so you're givin' me Heavenly Angels Dream Mist, huh? Whatchu tryna say - I stink?!?!?!?")

Yeah. Save the gifts from Vickie's for your close, personal friends and significant others.

DO be practical. It's important to think a lot about who the gift recipients are and how they spend their time. Whatever items you decide on, make sure they fit within their lifestyles. So, for instance, if he or she doesn't drive, don't bother buying your iPhone-obsessed colleague an iPhone car cupholder. But, let's say that person does a lot of business travel. Perhaps you can give the iHip 6-in-1 travel kit as a gift?

DON'T be boring. While you want to get your co-workers something they'd like and that fits into their lifestyles, you don't want to be completely boring either. Also, re-visiting our last "don't", you want to be careful. The recent college grad working as a file clerk? You know he makes NO money, so you think about simply getting him a gift card to the local grocery store (so, you know, he doesn't have to keep subsisting on ramen noodles and the free coffee in the break room). But that is a little . . . tacky. And, utterly boring. (It's the office place equivalent of getting socks from Santa when you're eight years old.) Perhaps you can put a fun spin on the practical gift by linking it with our first "do" - paying attention. So, maybe get the impoverished kid a gift card to Target - that way he can buy food or cds or whatever!

DO think carefully about to whom you should gift gifts. [/grammar geek] You have to ask yourself, "Will this create an expectation? Will it be considered improper protocol for me to give or not give this individual a gift?" I think that it goes without saying that you must give your boss a gift. Even if you don't want to . . . even if he or she won't ever return the kindness or even appreciate the gesture . . . it's something you simply must do. By the same token, employers are well-served to give at least some small token to their employees. Yes, you give them a paycheck week after week. But, by doing that little bit extra, you're reinforcing the fact that their work and presence are appreciated . . . and that is a huge boost to workplace morale. Ultimately, though, you have to keep our last DON'T in mind . . . .

DON'T expect anything in return. Regardless of how you feel about your workplace family, you should give willingly and without any expectations - not favors, not promotions. Just give because you want to give and all will be well. But, if you truly can't give from your heart, then don't . . . I think most people would appreciate the lack of a gift more than that "stocking stuffer" you grabbed off the shelf at the Walgreens down the street from the office. If nothing else, just buy or bake some holiday treats and bring them to the office. Even the person who is dieting or doesn't eat chocolate will appreciate the gesture.

Stay tuned - tomorrow's blog entry features a guest post from Travelinga Trips, listing the Top Five Gifts for Frequent Travelers!