Thursday, 27 November 2008

Business Cards: How Important are they?

Answer: Very!

I’ve been with my company for nearly 3 years (in December) and I still don’t have business cards, even after countless attempts of pleading my case. Apparently I wouldn’t need one because I don’t have many meetings with external people– we have suppliers that we’ve been using since the dark ages, so why spend the money they say. This is true, I don’t usually meet new suppliers (my boss does) however when I do I’m left without a card to swap, in an awkward sort-of-way. I’m not the only one mind you, about half of all my coworkers don’t have one either. Why? Why would a company not spend a few hundred (not even) to give every employee their own business card? It’s a small gesture that signals that you’re part of a team and we’re proud to have you with us. But by not having a business card I feel left out and unsupportive. It’s the small things that make a difference and this is just one tiny thing that can be easily resolved with minimal costs exchanged for high moral.

For anyone in a similar situation may I present Moo Printing. They’re brilliant. They have mini and standard sized cards (among other things that they print) that you create yourself. You can either upload your own images for the front or choose form a wide range of designs that have already been created. You decide what info you want to have on it and that’s it – literally your card has been created. How easy was that?

Don’t feel left out at your next business meeting, be prepared.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Tis the Season…

With Halloween behind us and the holidays fast approaching, I am slowly starting to make wish lists and think about what to get those around me for Christmas. It is so satisfying to be able to buy things for those that I love. Whether it be a GPS for my Mom who ALWAYS manages to get turned around, or a life for my roommate, who is so desperately searching for one. Isn’t it great to shop for and help others?

What about those who have no one to buy for? I am not necessarily talking about the homeless man you see every morning outside your work. Nor am I asking you to give money to another charity. I am talking about random acts of kindness that may not seem like a big deal to you, but hopefully will restore people’s faith in human kind.

For instance, the next time you are at a Tim Horton’s or another fast food drive thru, pay for the person behind you. Say What? You heard me…Well imagine the joy you would experience if when you went to pay for your coffee, you found out it was ALREADY paid for by someone you don’t even know in the car ahead of you. It only costs a couple bucks. But it can really make a difference in someone’s life.

The next time you are wishing for a new iPod (because you know..your last two are wayyy tooo old fashioned!) or a better and faster cell phone, wish again. Maybe you are being greedy..but who am I to judge? When you are buying or dreaming of gifts this year, think about others…the global impact in terms of waste of your new iPod. If everyone bought a new iPod this year, where do you think all those OLD ones go? Its ok though,I mean...that junk isn’t in YOUR backyard..right? Try to separate what you what from what you NEED. Not just for greed’s sake, but also to minimize the impact on the environment and your pocketbook.

Treat a friend to a random meal around the holidays for no particular reason. Or maybe package up some of your old favourite books and magazines and drop them off at a women’s shelter or an old folk’s home. You don’t have to know someone to give them a gift this year. In fact, you are really just giving the gift to yourself. There is no BETTER feeling than instilling joy in others and not feeling bad about the money you spent or where all the wrapping paper is going to end up.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Chocolate Indulgent: SO Worth It!

I’m not sure if all our lovely readers have heard of Ococoa. They make ‘the’ ultimate chocolate peanut butter cup!! I couldn’t keep this find to myself, I’ve already ordered a box, I was so excited – peanut butter, chocolate…other yummy ingredients, how could I resist. Check out NOTCOT’s review. How cute is that? They come in a freezer bag (how practical, yet posh). I love everything about them. I guess you all know what I want for Christmas (and will be giving; be prepared!)

Monday, 17 November 2008

Put Me In Your Suitcase: Packing Tips

So the easy part of planning your holiday is done – booking it, but now you need to decide what to take!! Nothing is worst than the feeling of not having anything to wear (or not liking what you brought), not having enough room for everything or forgetting something fundamental to your happy holiday. I do a lot more traveling now that I live in UK and I must say I’m getting better at packing. I’ve come up with a few tips that help me and hopefully will eliminate your problems as well:

1. Toiletries: it’s such a hassle caring around your full size bottles of shampoo or body wash and those ‘travel size’ bottles can really add up ($). That’s why I use reusable plastic contains from Muji (can also be found at Wal-Mart and Shoppers Drug Mart) bringing all my favourite supplies. I use these for my Shampoo and Conditioner while these are perfect for my face wash and cream. Not only will you save money by using the products you already have and love but they’re compact and take up little room PLUS it’s better for the environment (always a bonus!)

2. Folding: When I was backpacking a few years ago I discovered the simplicity of ‘rolling’ my clothes and never looked back. Not only do you get more space in your suitcase by doing this but your clothes stay wrinkle-free. Perfect!

3. Clothes: Here’s the big one. How do you plan for anything without taking everything? Easy, always take an umbrella, sunglasses and bring clothes that can easily be layered. Black, white and tan go with everything and can be interchanged with any outfit. Bring clothing that can be worn with most of what you’ve brought (ie. white tank top can be worn with pants, skirt, shorts etc…). I always tend to bring one of my favourite outfits that might not necessarily be practical but makes me happy (and I know I'll wear). Scarves are so in at the moment and can make any outfit a little dressier.

4. Pills & First Aid Kit: I don’t usually get sick on trips (knock on wood) but I’d like to be prepared. I have a little Ziplock bag filled with the usual remedies: ibuprofen, antihistamean, Gravol & Imodium. Along with Band-Aids, alcohol wipes and antibacterial cream. I tend to keep these in my travel bag always, that way I know I have it every time I travel.

5. Eye wear: I once went on a week long trip to a tropical island and completely forgot my glasses then during a (very) drunken night LOST my only pair of contact lenses….what fun a week without seeing that was! Don’t let this happen to you. I now make a point of placing an extra pair of contacts in my toiletry bag just in case I forget my glasses.

6. Reading Material: I always love a good book, but on short flights (and with limited luggage space as the case may) magazines are ideal and can be left behind once you're finished with it.

What are your travel packing tips? Fill all us jet-setters in!


Roommate Corner

You haven’t matured. You haven’t grown up, you have just displaced. You may think you have overcome difficulties and improved your situation in life. Trust me, you haven’t. You have just replaced one thing with another. Displacement does not progress make. You haven’t found a pastime. You have just found a boyfriend to occupy your time. You still don’t like your job. You just found a new position that distracted you from what you really hate about your job. Cleaning your boyfriend’s house for no reason doesn’t make you a kind or helpful person. It just makes you pathetic and helps distract you from the truth. Plus, shouldn’t you be cleaning our place? Oh yes, that’s right, you don’t have time for that. You don’t have time to offer to cook my dinner or buy any food for me. I guess that’s because you spent all your money on someone who you have to justify yourself to. Don’t worry; I am not jealous or upset. I am bewildered. I guess all the time you have been spending trying to please a man so he will love you has displaced the very method behind your madness. You have lost who you are, what you do and what you could be. I hope you and others like you find their way. I hope you learn to live your life and stop looking for ways to please others. You can please others all you want, but that is an endless quest. It’s hard to be happy when your happiness is based solely on the opinions and expectations of others. It’s exhausting. Isn’t it? Oh Rhonda…..

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Orange & Carrot Muffins

Is it just me or do you finding it a lot harder waking up in the winter too? I know the added hour is ‘suppose’ to make it better but lately I find myself struggling to get out of bed. I’ll press snooze several times then actually turn off alarm (a dangerous move!) and go back to bed. Even my boyfriend tries to help. He’ll open the curtains to let some ‘light’ in. When that fails he’ll give me a little nudge then pull off the covers…god I hate that, it’s always so cold! But alas it works and I finally drag myself out of bed. I’m pathetic I know. But wouldn’t it be great to have something yummy once you’re up? This is where these muffins/scones come in. The texture is more to that of scones (even though they called muffins) and with oranges and carrots it’s sure to brighten your day.

What you'll need:
75g butter, melted
2 oranges, juiced and zested
1 egg, beaten
100g carrots, peeled and grated
300g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g caster sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

1. Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with squares of baking parchment (or I use silicone muffin cups and they work just as well), pushing them down to make little cases. Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk together the wet ingredients with the carrots then stir this into the dry ingredients, but don't overmix - it's better if it's a bit lumpy.

2. Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen.

Recipe taken from Olive Magazine

Monday, 10 November 2008

Wee Fitter?

Ok I did it. I fell into the Wii hype. Well… we did. By us, I mean my boyfriend and me. He bought it. I played it. And boy, did I enjoy it. I tried to be skeptical and play devil’s advocate. I wasn’t about to be pulled into the never ending downward spiral of video games. I wasn’t going to go down that slippery slope from playing one game to spending my Friday nights in my living room glued to my TV screen.

Wii proved to be fun, stimulating and highly entertaining. Wii fit was the highlight of the device, as it made me feel a tad less guilty or lazy for playing. I quickly created a Mii character under my name (my virtual character had a profile of my weight, age, height and BMI). After completing two balance tests, I eagerly awaited my Wii age. Fortunately, Wii Fit thinks I have the body of a 21 year old. My boyfriend (aged 26) was not so lucky…Wii thinks he is about 42. Sorry I couldn’t help but laugh. Anyway I went through the routine of aerobics, strength training and yoga. I was surprised at how quickly the time went and how fun it was. Lunges that seemed easy yesterday at the gym were painful as I strived to keep my center of balance in the small yellow circle. Just when I was about to give up and finish for the day, my progress had unlocked more exercises…sooo addictive.

Anyway, I skipped yesterday as I got (fake) busy. When I returned this morning to play…my instructor KNEW I had skipped a day…grr. I was MILDLY lectured and questioned as to why I missed a day of fitness. Guilt brought me to the Wii game and guilt forced me to continue more and more exercises until I was quite tired. It may not be the equivalent of a gym workout. In fact, Wii fit is highly criticized for its actual health benefits. I am not sure as to how helpful it is yet. However, it does serve to get me (and my 42 year old boyfriend) off the couch. It motivates you to relieve stress, work your muscles and tone your core (thereby improving your balance, posture and muscle tone). I recommend trying it out before you buy it as it may interfere in your life a weee bit more than you thought.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Ohhhh My Head

Today has been a rough day. I’m not asking for sympathy or anything (just sharing), lord (and my coworkers) know I did this to myself. You see, last night was spent entertaining business clients over from America. And you know what? I genuinely had a good time – they were friendly, funny and enjoyable. In fact I didn’t want the night to end. And so enters the numerous glasses of wine, half a hamburger and fries later (definitely not enough food!) and I woke this morning with the worst mid-week hangover EVER!

After reluctantly dragging my ass out of bed I stumbled down the stairs to make some toast. Yes, bread will help my queasy stomach. Next step, liquids, I need to refuel. I still didn’t feel well but had to get ready for work. Several times on the tube I thought I would need to get off….but luckily I made to work without to much of a struggle. Did I mention I had a conference call with two major companies at 11am? Oh yah, I forgot too. Luckily (or not) Outlook was kind enough to remind me. I did bring in a lunch (soup and salad) but put it on the backburner for Monday as I needed something a little less healthy – Chinese! Finally I felt HUMAN again.

Now I know most of the (medical) causes for hangovers. And today I’ve experienced most of the symptoms - dehydration, fatigue, headache, nausea, weakness, sensitivity to light and noise, erratic motor functions and lack of depth perception (check, check and oh um check!). But what I really want to know is what helps you get through your worst hangovers?

When I was living in Dublin, most of my Irish friends would eat chocolate bars and drink Lucozade (similar to Gatorade/Poweraid). I always find bread, water and Advil (oh and greasy Chinese food) really helps me. Fill me in, because I never want this to happen again but just incase I need a backup plan!

Have a great weekend and take it easy with the drink.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Bonfire Night

I hope all our readers had an excellent Halloween. Unfortunately for me the holiday isn’t celebrated to the same extent as it back home here in the UK. Don’t get me wrong there are still loads of (drinking) parties but I suspect it’s not as fun for the kids. I bet it has to do with the whole knocking on strangers’ doors asking (or begging, however you look at it) for candy, that somehow doesn’t equate here. Not to fear though we do have another holiday that follows closely behind Halloween that is fun for the whole family: Guy Fawkes Night aka Bonfire Night

It all started on the eve of November 5 1605, when an assassination plot of King James I of England failed and its conspirators were caught. You see the Royal Family (and consequently most of parliament) at that point was Protestant and the Catholics wanted a change. The plan was set in motion a year earlier by Robert Catesby who commissioned Guy Fawkes, an explosives expert with military experience to prepare the explosives that would have been used to destroy the Houses of Parliament. Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you look at it) the plan was disclosed and stopped before Guy Fawkes could set fire to his explosives on the night. He, along with the other ‘terrorists’ were hanged, drawn and quartered.

Back in the day effigies of ‘Fawkes’ (who became the most well known of the conspirators) were placed on bonfires (hence it being known as bonfire night) on the anniversary of his capture however now it’s a little more civilized and more family friendly….firework displays are set to music and candy apples, mulled wine and hot dogs are enjoyed by all. But why do we celebrate this holiday? Is it because Fawkes and Co were caught and the Royal Family and the establishment saved OR is it to honour his attempt at overthrowing them (a la V for Vendetta)? I guess it’s to each their own….All I know is that tomorrow night I will be enjoying some candy apples while I feast my eyes on some lovely fireworks.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Fruits of A Passion

You may wonder what the above two people have in common or what they are doing together on our webpage. One man, Barack Obama is leading the US election and may be the first African American President. The other, Warren Miller, is a skier and famous movie producer/creator of Warren Miller films. Both men have achieved great things in their respective realms.

Warren Miller’s true passion and greatest love is to ski. Realizing he needed to make a living, he decided to turn his passion into a profession. With no money and no equipment, he dreamed of filming movies of him and his friends performing ski tricks on the hills of US resorts. Warren went from sleeping in his car and eating whatever he could to get by to owning his own film production company that has successfully produced ski and extreme sports films for over 50 years. Skiers and other athletes dream of being in a Warren Miller film. People of all ages have been discovered and launched their career by performing a stunt in one of his many amazing films. Warren was able to realize his dream and the dreams of many other athletes by sticking to his passion. As he grew older, Warren’s passion for skiing translated into other passions. His passion for the environment, his passion for athlete development…and last but not least..his passion for entrepreneurship. Warren oversees his foundation that specializes in the development of future entrepreneurs from all walks of life. Warren has inspired people from all over the world for his ability to follow his dreams and foster the dreams in others.

Barack Obama has been busy inspiring others for the majority of his life. Coming from modest means, he was able to get an Ivy League education and be elected to the US Senate. How’s that for achieving dreams? Running for US President has had many challenges that haven’t fazed Obama. He stands apart from past presidential nominees for his ability to reach beyond politics and inspire citizens to be the best that they can be. People who normally did not pay attention to their leaders in the past, are standing up and taking notice of this man who instills a feeling of hope and passion in all. Whoever thought that in spite of all the economic turmoil and chaos in North America, citizens would be hopeful of their future president? Voters are turning out in record numbers…Republican states are turning blue. History Is being made as we speak not just because of Obama but because people are believing in themselves and their abilities again. No matter what the result may be, this US election will be one for the record books; mainly due to one man’s ability to inspire an entire nation. And the craziest thing is…he isn’t even done dreaming. Oh the fruits of passion!