Fading Away: Curating my Closet

 Green Sweater

Favourite articles of clothing are hard to pass on. However, it's much easier when you take pictures of yourself regularly, and you can actually see your clothes fading, stretching out, and just generally aging more poorly than you are.

Why did I buy it?
I've had this green sweater for so long I can't even remember when I got it.

Why did it work?
The sleeve length and the colour really worked on me - I think, at least.

Why didn't it work?
It got faded, and stretched out.

How have I worn it?
It's been so long that it's been faded that I have only worn it three times on the blog... all in really bad outfits. Ooops!

Week in Pictures - April 21-27

Last weekend was a blast - actually going out and doing something with friends! On a Friday night!  Woohoo! Of course, not all nights start out as planned. Discovering my favourite lounge 7 years ago had closed was kind of a shock.

I capped off last weekend spending the day with my niece. Or at least, spending part of my day with my niece. She crashed out during our walk, so I had little else to do but keep walking and enjoy the man-made nature surroundings afforded by the sprawling suburbs.

Since I've gone back to work, I've been concentrating on making healthy changes, and one of those was eating properly. Despite the fact that we are notorious for buying and not eating vegetables, this week, we bought a little more strategically, and have done pretty well and eating them! (At least during the week. I may have inhaled a batch of peanut butter cookies last night)

My bus stop is right outside the store where I bought my wedding dress. While it does bring back happy memories of the planning and the wedding, it does also remind me of my frustration I feel towards my wedding dress. Lesson learned: trying on a size 22 dress when you're a size 4 really doesn't give you an accurate idea of how the dress will fit, regardless of what the sales people say. But at the same time, it also reminds me that it doesn't really matter now - I'll likely never wear the dress again!

My sister picked me up from work yesterday, and so I met her outside a different building and got a chance to photograph the weird architecture of it!

It's never too early to start planning your weekend!

Last Sunday, it was a beautiful day. In the morning, we assembled patio furniture (more on that hopefully by next week!) and I spent the afternoon going for a walk with my niece. When I got home that evening, all I wanted was a glass of sangria, having passed up the option twice the previous weekend not quite feeling spring yet.

Of course, the downfall of wanting sangria NOW is that most recipes require having the fruit sit in the wine for hours. I murmured to my sister that I was going to muddle the fruit before adding it, as I was leaving her place but by the time I got home, I got lazy, (or remembered I didn't have a muddler, and my mortar and pestle is used primarily for cumin - not a sangria seasoning). Instead, I pulled out my Magic Bullet, and blended my way to a spring beverage!

1/2 a kiwi
1/2 a mango
sufficient amount of white wine

Peel and dice fruit. Place into Magic Bullet and add wine. Blend for 10 seconds (or longer, if you don't want fruit chunks). Add ice before or after, if you like it extra cold!

It's a little frothy, so I didn't add any fizzy beverage, as some recipes recommend.

Tailored Business Casual

Tuesday's post showed different incarnations of the same outfit - trousers, dress shirts, and sweaters. The rest of week, I stuck with a similar but different style... bootcut dress pants, blouses and sweaters. How original!

The temperature in our office fluctuates between too cold and too warm. There is rarely an in-between. Being warm on Monday, I wore short sleeves on Tuesday.

Being too cold on Tuesday, I wore a warm sweater on Wednesday.
Naturally, I was warm. I think layers are going to be integral at this job!

Good time for feeling good

"Scott, I'm so happy that I think I'm going to burst!"

That sentence alone could summarize last week for me. It boggles my mind how finding the right job makes all the difference in the world. Primarily, it means coming home in a good mood, which in turn, filters through the rest of my evening, and the rest of my life.

  1. I am cleaning up after myself.
    I used to walk in the door, drop everything on the floor, and burst into tears. There my dirty lunch dishes, my mitts, my bag would sit until I needed them again. Every movement seemed to fight a gravity so strong, my body would collapse onto the couch and not move. Now, I bounce through the door, immediately bring my lunch kit to the kitchen, hang up my coat, and even some days, I put my shoes away! (Some days, habits are tough to break)
  2. I am getting exercise
    As I said, I bounce through the door. Scott gets a little overwhelmed by this uncharacteristic energy, so my solution has been to change out of my work clothes into my work out clothes, and get a bit of a workout done before supper.
  3. I am eating well
    First of all, I'm starving. All day. And that's a good thing, because I'm craving fruits and vegetables, not cookies and chocolate. Sure, it means having to remember to pack lots of healthy snacks, but in the grand scheme of things, eating more healthy options is better than eating any little amount of gross foods!
  4. I am getting out
    Friday, I was invited out for drinks. I was pretty pumped to have plans, but was a bit weary about being so tired (see #1). Instead, when I arrived home, I wasn't ready to call it a night. After months of being unable to find a suitable time to meet with friends, we discovered last minute texts paid off. Not only did we get together that night, we were invited out the next, as well
If you remember when things were a little rough, I was working hard to find one thing, every day, which I had done well, or one positive trait for myself. It's been a lot easier, and it has quickly morphed into a list of things for which I am thankful. I really hope not only that things stay this good, but also that I stay being grateful!

Business Casual

I was told that there was no official dress code, but general business casual attire was accepted. There is no term that confuses people more than "business casual". To me, the traditional business casual attire is dress pants, dress shirts, and sweaters. So for my first week of work, I wore exclusively dress pants, dress shirts, and sweaters.

Day one, I went with a ruffled collared dress shirt (not properly shown in photo), a shawl collared sweater (new, stolen from my sister), and a blue on black pinstripe pair of trousers. I really hope that they look better in real life than in the photo. Since I knew I'd be walking, I went with conservative black, casual wedges.

Day two, I started pattern mixing, which was a bit strange for me. I don't do a lot of pattern mixing at the best of times. However, I went with a collared green and white shirt with a glenplaid trouser that reads as a solid. I topped it with a black cardigan, and bottomed it with a very quintessential oxford with the twist - a heel.

I even ended off the week with trousers, collared shirts and sweaters! I had seen Cori of La Petite Vie wear a similar outfit and immediately filed it in my inspiration. It was the perfect opportunity to navigate the even more vague "Friday" of the "Business casual world". I felt so confident in this outfit, calling it the "Business casual three piece suit".

Getting Out the Door

Starting a new job means starting a new routine. Starting a new routine means the opportunity to start new habits. In addition to those general habits I discussed last week, there have been some new and treasured routines I have established. My favourite -- and possibly the most efficient -- routine I've established has been getting ready for bed.

Yes, there's always an episode of The Nanny prior to washing my face and brushing my teeth. There is the lingering by Scott's desk, taking much too long to say good night - even if he's coming to bed with me. However, it's what comes next that makes all the difference.

1. I sweep back out to the kitchen to make sure that I've got everything I need for my lunch ready to go.
2. I pack my purse, making sure I have my bus pass, id/key card, wallet and keys
3. I lay out my clothes & accessories, making sure nothing needs ironing, the colours match as well in real life as they do in my head, and that I have both a left and a right shoe.

Those three steps save me not just save me time in the morning because its already done, but it also allows me to solve any problems - from realizing I left the check on the counter, and having to make myself a peanut butter sandwich instead, to discovering a stain on my white shirt - with a cool head when time isn't as much of an issue. Despite having to leave 30 minutes earlier than I used to, I seem to have more time in the morning, including enough time to eat a balanced breakfast!

What steps do you take to make your mornings run a little smoother?
Red Wrap
Why did I buy it?
Originally, this shirt had ribbons running down the sleeves, which you could tighten ruche the sleeves. That detail sold me on the shirt

Why did it work?
It's a faux wrap, and is a blue red, which I find works better with my complexion than an orange red

Why does it not work?
It's faded and a bit short. I've noticed these are 2 common problems within my wardrobe.

How did I wear it?

 What will happen to it?

I might have already packed it off to a thrift store! And it's been replaced by a very similarly styled deep red sweater I stole from my sister.

A Week in Pictures - April 14 - 20

New week - new job! While there is still a lot to learn, I really feel like I just slid into the position with ease... it fits perfectly! The best part is that I feel all the excitement of being back in university - not just because I do work on campus, but also because I see so many opportunities from here. I switched my major almost daily in my first couple years of university, and in my first couple days of work, I've already switched my career path half a dozen times. One day, I want to become the registrar... the next, an adviser... the next, the study skills coordinator. And the best part is that there is no reason why I can't do all of that... and without sacrificing pension, benefits or vacation entitlements.

Anyway, onto the picture portion of the post - you know, the point of it

 Getting to Work
While the Canadian Museum for Human Rights construction was stalled for the longest time, they seem to have made progress since the last time I took the bus regularly.
Every time I go by the VIA rail station, I start dreaming of how to spend my vacations - so nice to have a job that offers them!!

At work
I found this in my desk, and became completely enamoured with it. It's perfect for holding my phone messages (and I get a lot)

Coming Home
Sure, laundry is still boring as ever, but being in a great mood makes it easier to find the beauty in it... like great colour combinations in the camisoles hanging to dry!

Doing Good Business When I Was a Kid

It's happening. I am becoming one of those people who looks back in time with fondness and wishes we still did things certain ways. I'm not saying I'm not open minded and willing to change with the times. No, I'm not saying that at all. What I am saying is that we are losing sight of some of the things that make for strong business relationships and great customer experiences.

When I was a kid...

If you placed a call to someone and left a message, they called you back, usually the same day. Today, I am lucky if I get a call back at all. We seem to be playing a game of professional hide and seek. The important point here is that business can only be conducted through good communication, productive conversations, and mutual agreement. When we don't connect, the business process gets stalled and frustration sets in.

When I was a kid...

People made eye contact. They sat in meetings paying attention and looking each other in the eye. Eye contact and the trust it establishes is crucial in completing successful contract negotiations, closing sales deals, interviewing for a job, and being a credible member of your work team. Today, we find professionals slouched in their chairs, eyes downcast and focused on whatever electronic device they happen to be "plugged" into. Business is about trust and, as humans, we establish this on a very basic level with our ability to make and maintain eye contact and our use of body language.

When I was a kid...

People cared about their appearance. It was a sign that they respected themselves. I know that corporate casual is in vogue and I am not saying that I need my business meetings to be black tie affairs but at least be clean and neat with an appearance that says you care. Your grooming habits, the condition of your clothing, and your use of jewelry and accessories send messages about who you are and how you do business. Make sure the message you are sending is an accurate one.

Do you ever wish we did things the way we used to? If you could turn back the clock, what business behaviors would you bring back that seem to be missing today? Are there old-fashion ways of doing business that you might want to consider bringing back into the workplace? These old ideas must just help you find some brand new customers!

Angela V. Megasko is the President and founder of Market Viewpoint, LLC, a market research firm specializing in professional mystery shopping. Her organization has been helping clients see their operations through the eyes of the customer since 1996. Angela has helped clients in all industries increase their profitability through the power of customer retention. She believes so strongly in the idea that our clients can make us profitable that she recommends having a solid customer service plan as a part of your firm's overall Marketing Plan.

Summer Project

You'll notice that my outfit pic have been taken outside only on occasion this spring. There are two reasons - the first is that after the unseasonably warm winter, we're having a relatively cool spring. Sigh. The second is much more exciting -  after feeling settled in our apartment, we're settling outside our apartment. We're sprucing up our balcony!

Scott's parents generously bought us our patio set as a wedding gift.

Our balcony isn't quite big enough for the whole set, but it was cheaper to buy the set than just the chairs and the bench. Plus, years down the road, I'm sure we'll be glad to have the table, too!

Instead, we got this bench to use as a coffee table AND storage... plus we can use it for extra seating when we have extra friends over!

There are a few issues with the set. First of all, the set is eucalyptus and the bench is pine. We talked about staining it, but that's more of a commitment than we're willing to make (ie: we're lazy). We've decided we'll pull the two woods together (plus the painted and natural wood of our balcony itself) with cushions... which leads us to the second issue: we don't have cushions. Since we're not using it as an "eating set" but a "conversation set," comfy cushions are super necessary. Not to mention with all the wood, we need some colour, so cushions need to be bright. Plus, I'll take a stab at keeping a couple plants alive in a northern exposure with no direct sunlight. Oh, and just in case you believe that decorating is just a minor detail, and think there are no issues with our patio set, take a look:

Just for future reference, never buy a patio set that requires assembly on the weekend before you start a new job.Fortunately, the summer hasn't even started yet, so this can be a work in progress. I'll keep you updated!

Casual Days

I pinned this outfit a few weeks ago. I loved how effortless it appeared. Of course, once I threw it together, I realized how much work it takes to make something appear effortless. There was folding and pulling, and stretching... ugh, it took forever and a half. Certainly didn't think it was worth it - I only went grocery shopping.

The outfit and the event did provide the opportunity to test drive my new oxford flats. I find church is a good time to try out outfits, but grocery shopping is great for breaking in shoes - long enough to know if/where they'll pinch, but short enough to avoid drawing blood.

And while I dress up for the grocery store, I dressed down for my last unemployed day. It was a hilarious balance of shopping and playing with my niece... as in doing both at the same time. I tell you, Home Outfitters is an amusement park when seen through the eyes of a 17 month old!

With what we've got

Of Scott and I, I am certainly the more financially minded of the two of us. While he likes to spend his spare time gaming, I spend mine researching. With having some significant liberty over the last couple weeks, I spent a good deal of time researching the cost of being adults. Sure, I've legally been considered an adult for 10 years, but with both of us embarking on careers in the next 6 months, we're finally starting to feel like adults, or at least feeling the weight of the responsibilities that come with adulthood.

We've been playing: "it'll get better" for a long time. We saved aggressively for Scott's tuition. We slammed the bank account doors shut when I quit my job. For years, it feels like we've been doing with out, saying now, and just biding our time until "it gets better." While we are now starting to breathe a sigh of relief financially with me being in a steady, secure, and supportive job, a new reality is hitting us.

Financial security doesn't mean financial freedom.

Our parents appear to be financially comfortable. Both sets have relatively comparatively large houses (4 bedrooms, attached garages, air conditioning), with new (and planned) upgrades from granite counter tops to bamboo flooring. They travel as much as they would like. Their cars are in good condition, even if they aren't exactly new. For much of our life, we have enjoyed freeloading off of their financial fortune, and have always expected we would have a life much the same... once it got started.

And now, being at the precipice of "adulthood," we are realizing a very important lesson. It takes time and effort to get to that financial situation. What we don't remember are the years our parents worked to save money for down payments on homes; when they crossed their fingers, stuck out their tongue, and held their breath, hoping their car would still start; when they sacrificed trips to Europe, fancy dinners out and designer clothing in order to provide us with food and shelter.

With two incomes looming on the future, we could be in the position to take exotic trips, buy fancy clothes (or comic books), and go out every weekend. Or, we could be in the position to purchase a house, trade in our two rust buckets for one reliable, practical car, and start saving for our children's future. But unless we start buying (and winning) lottery tickets, we can't have it all.

While we feel like we've been depriving ourselves for these last few years, we took a moment to look around this last weekend. For so long, we've been focusing on what we've been missing out on, what we feel we deserve. But it was obvious - we have a lot for which we should be thankful. We spent our Saturday traipsing across the city, donating our excess goods to charity, purchasing our new patio set with the last of our wedding money, and eating out at our favourite restaurant before spending the evening playing with our niece. Sure, weekends like these are few and far between (well not the free babysitting part), but we have no reason to complain.

The big house? The car that doesn't squeak at every stop sign, corner or crack in the road? The trip across the big ocean? Those things will come. And when we've had to work hard to get them, we'll appreciate them all the more. For now, we're going to be happy with what we've got, because when it comes down to it, we do have a lot.

How to: Dress for an interview

After a decade in post-secondary studies, April has always been a time of transition, whether it was from one degree to the next, or from class into a summer job. And finally, like so many others, I am finally leaving my student status behind - and starting a *paid* career in post-secondary schooling. Since I've had a number of interviews over the last few months, I thought I would compile a basic: "How to get a job - without losing your style"

Professional / Corporate Interview - Traditional Suit
I'm all about climbing the corporate ladder, so I have 3 or 4 suits. Lately, my black pinstripe one has been my favourite. Red with black seems to be classic power colours, but adding a brooch, or a scarf can help make you feel a little more "you".

Professional Interview / Corporate- Separates
If you can't afford a suit, don't despair. There are many ways you can pull separates together. The key is to stick with a colour palate with one pop of colour. I also strongly suggest including one vest, blazer or item in tweed.

Semi-professional, creative, or second interview

I still advocate using structure, but you can certainly show more personality in these situations. While you do have more freedom with colour, don't go overboard. Keep "odd" colour combinations (like the wine and the orange) separated by a neutral.

While I've arranged the pictures from most to least formal, remember its always best to be over dressed than under dressed. If in doubt, go for the suit with a nice blouse under it - if you show up and feel really overdressed, you can always remove the jacket.

Setting a Schedule / Curating my Closet

Starting a new job means having the opportunity to start new routines. It's much needed in my household - we (rather I) have become a little more slovenly and lazy around here these last few weeks.

I have three goals:
1. Keep the apartment a little more organized
2. Do my share of the cooking
3. Resume the Couch to 5K routine (cold weather has side lined it)

Add to that the usual weekly duties (grocery shopping, blogging, date night) and I've decided to devote a chore to each day

Sunday: Blog writing
Monday: Running
Tuesday: Groceries (& cooking)
Wednesday: Running
Thursday: Laundry (& cooking)
Friday: Running & Date night
Saturday: Cleaning (& cooking)

Here's hoping it's evenly spread, so I'm not spread too thin!

Blue Plaid Shirt

Why did I buy it?
I didn't - I swapped it from a friend. 

Why did it work? It's one of a few print shirts in my closet, and I enjoyed the blue with the pink in it. 

Why didn't it work? It's a little short, informal, and I got a little bored with it. 

How did I wear it?

What will happen to it? I've heard rumour of a Winnipeg clothing swap... maybe it will go there!

And just an update - while it's all good of me to take these "curating my closet" items out of rotation, I should announce that I finally took them out of my apartment. A full garbage bag of clothing (including some of Scott's) was dropped off at the thrift store this last weekend!

Five Ways to Give Great Customer Service Every Time

When you're not actually seeing your customers face to face, it can be difficult to create a personal connection with them. Although you want each of your customers to feel right at home with your business, you need to work harder when your only interaction is through your website. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to establish both strong customer service and a true sense of caring for your customer - here's what you need to know.

Acknowledge Your Customer

One of the worst mistakes you can make in your customer service arena is to act as though you don't need to acknowledge the presence of your customer. When you don't have some sort of greeting on your website, it can say to the ctstomer that you only care about them if they're spending money. Instead, try to use casual language to greet your customer in some way. This section doesn't have to be long, but it should have some sort of introduction to your site that helps a customer feel at home.

Don't Forget Your Manners

It's also easy to forget to say 'Please' and 'Thank You' when you're not right in front of a customer, but they will still notice. Be sure to thank your customer for stopping by your site and be sure to ask them to completely certain forms instead of just telling them what they need to do. It's always better to err on the side of being too polite than not polite at all.

Always Offer More Than They Expect

Even if it's just a small sample of another product you have or a discount on the next purchase, always go above and beyond what your customer is expecting from you. Try to encourage your customer to come back by showing them that every transaction with you is going to be exciting and give them something more in return. You might also want to send coupons and alert customers of specials that are related to items they have bought in the past.

Be Ready to Apologize

Too often, online businesses are not apologetic when things go wrong on their website transactions. Since they aren't looking directly at the customer, it can be easier to be unapologetic when things do wrong, often going so far as to blame the customer for the mistake. Instead, try to remember that the customer should be the one that is always right - every time. When you show your customer that you simply want to make them happy, especially when you're made a mistake, they are going to tell their friends about your great customer service.

Services Means Being Available for Questions

Whether it's via email or phone, you need to have some sort of contact system for your customers to use so that they can have their queries addressed as quickly as possible. While this is especially important in the case of complaints, you should also be available for simple questions that a customer needs answered. Answer with a smile on your face or a friendly tone in your email and you've won them over without spending an extra cent.

Businesses still live and die by the customer service they provide. If you're not taking the time to be there for your customer, it will catch up to you in your profits. Try to stand out from the other online businesses by acting as though you are seeing every customer stand in front of you as they make their purchase. This is not only going to help you make better businesses decisions, but it will keep people coming back for more.

Week in Photos April 7 - 13th

It feels like forever ago that I went downtown adventuring - even though it was just last Monday. Despite being disappointed in the library being closed, I loved the pattern of the security gates.

Of course, the art work BESIDE the security gate was pretty awesome, too.
I am fascinated by this building - I love the sheaves of wheat on the side of the building.

And just in case you think that I live homelessly downtown, since that seems to be the only place my weekly photos seem to take place, there is one picture from "home". We're doing some minor home repairs, (meaning our drawers are out of commission), so unloading the dishwasher involves sitting on the ground.

Consulting Services - What to Look For, Where to Start

If you've been thinking of having a home based business, you would be forgiven if you're overwhelmed by the choices you have. For instance, you could choose the direct sales industry where you pick a product and market it to a highly targeted niche. Or, you could go a step further and get into a network marketing opportunity, where you have the chance to earn money on sale of the product and recruit people into the business, thereby setting up a residual income. Or you could decide to partner with Google and derive an income from their AdSense program.

Naturally, whichever method you choose, you have to be organized and know what you need to do on a daily basis to get the results you seek. This is where a consulting service can pay very large dividends.

So what should you look for when choosing a consulting service for your business? First of all, take stock of whether or not your business is primarily online or offline as that will make a difference. If your business is primarily offline, then you should look for a consultant firm that specializes in you particular area of expertise.

But what if you do most or all of your business online? What then? After all there are many things that you need to keep on top of when running a business online. The first recommendation I can make is once you have found a firm you think you would like to work with, try to get in touch with previous clients as they will be the best barometer of how your working relationship will go.

If that meets your criteria, then the next step is to set up a meeting either online or in person, if you are both local. Key things to keep in mind are

1. Does the consultant make the effort to be online on time? Just because a meeting is virtual doesn't mean you can be late.

2. Does the consultant comport him or herself in a professional manner? i.e. do they have on business attire (even if the meeting is via webcam this will make a difference) or do they show up in casual clothing?

3. Do you feel as though they actually listen to and understand your business needs or are they intent on doing a "hard sell" and hyping their expertise?

4. Do they plan out specific goals and deadlines or are they trying to do it all at once?

Finally, once the meeting is over and you are reviewing your notes, take stock of how you feel. Did the consultant make you feel confident that this was the right decision for your business? Did they make you feel as though you will be in good hands? Remember, price is not the main thing to look for here. You want a partnership that will add value to your business bottom line as well as your reputation over time.

Ultimately, the right choice here will mean big things for your business now and in the future. A consultant service is an investment and should be treated as such. And it is one of the best you can make.


It turns out I'm not the only genius that went frog themed for Scott's cousin's leap year baby. Sigh. However, it took me a while to create my frog, and I finally finished just in time to give the little tyke a late birthday present / Easter present.

There are a few changes I would make if/when I make it again (use an acrylic, and not a cotton, learn to do a proper mattress stitch, etc), but I love how it came out, any way!
Copyright © Business casual service. All Rights Reserved.
Blogger Template designed by Big Homes.