Friday 30 May 2014

Vacation Guide: Reading List

This is actually my last, full day of vacation...tomorrow is a travel day and I will be arriving back in Canada early Sunday morning. This is a scheduled post- I'm writing it before I leave- but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I'm enjoying my time in Cuba and don't want it to come to an end.

The last vacation guide I'm doing is a reading list, my vacation reading list to be specific. Reading lists are, in my opinion, pretty personal. People like different genres, have different books on their 'to read' and 'have read' lists. Reading and vacation go hand in hand, lots of spare time to get lost in a book or two. I'm not sure if I'll make it through my entire list, but here are the books I'm attempting to read while in Cuba:

  1.  Revenge Wears Prada- I've heard mixed reviews about this book. I liked The Devil Wears Prada and I like Lauren Weisberger as a writer, plus this has been on my reading list since it came out.
  2. Prep: A Novel- This is one of my all time favourite books and the only actual book I'm bringing with me (the rest are on my Kindle).
  3. Ten Girls To Watch- This is a re-read for me. I've only read the book once but I liked it and want to read it again.
  4. Trust Fund Babies- I've heard good things about this book and it's another book that's been on my reading list for ages.
  5. Commencement- I'm not sure where I heard about this book and I actually don't know, off the top of my head, anything about this book. It was added to my reading list in the past month or so it's a more recent addition to the list.
  6. The Swimmer's Assistant- Yet another re-read. I love this book and it's by one of my favourite bloggers, Amber. I haven't read it in a while and it's a perfect beach/pool/vacation read.
I am bringing my Kindle with me that has close to 350 books on it, most of them I have yet to read, so I will not be lacking reading material, that's for sure. The above mentioned books are the ones I am hoping to read while I am on vacation and if I get through them all, I'll have other books on my Kindle that I can read. 

Today is my last full day in Cuba...we fly back to Canada late tomorrow night. All of the posts this week have been scheduled...I took a break from being 'connected' this Blackberry, email, text messages, social media, etc. I cut myself off, to give myself a break and a real opportunity to unwind and relax. 

I'm sure that as much as I enjoyed Cuba, I'll be looking forward to coming home to my family, friends and of course, this blog. 

Thursday 29 May 2014

Vacation Guide: Beauty

On a daily basis my beauty routine is very simple. When I travel, I keep my beauty routine very basic and limit the number of products I bring with me. As with everything else when I travel, less is more. 

I bring travel and sample size products with me and leave expensive products at home. You are on vacation to should be enjoying your surroundings, not spending hours in front of a mirror. Vacations are a great excuse to give your hair and face a break from styling and makeup. 

Here are the beauty products I generally pack while traveling:

  1. Hydrating spray- I love hydrating sprays and use them all year round. They are perfect to refresh as well as hydrate your skin. Great product to have in your beach bag.
  2. Face cleanser wipes- Great for removing light makeup, sunscreen  and of course cleansing your face. 
  3. Sunscreen- This is a must!! The higher the SPF the better. 
  4. Bug spray- A lot of people forget to pack this. Bugs are an issue in a lot of destinations.
  5. One hair product- Do not bring all of your hair products or multiple kinds of products, Pick one that is a 'must' for you or that you can't live without. Garnier Surf Hair Texturizing Cream is my go to product year round. I have curly hair that goes frizzy in humid weather. This product can be applied to wet or dry hair, keeps frizz at bay and leaves me with perfect 'beach' waves. 
  6. First aid kit- You just need the travel size. Band aids can be surprisingly hard to come by when traveling. 
  7. Mascara- On vacation, I might wear make up to dinner, but that's about it. I keep it very simple, with mascara being one of two makeup pieces I bring. If I don't have a mascara sample, I will bring a drugstore brand (NYC Color is a personal favourite)
  8. 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner- You only need to bring one bottle to get the benefits of both products.
  9. Toothpaste & brush- I buy the travel pack to use while I'm gone and throw it out when I'm done.
  10. Moisturizer- This is key. Being in the sun all day is very drying to skin.
  11. Lip product- The second of two makeup pieces I bring is either lipstick or gloss to wear to dinner. Again, if I don't have a sample, I bring a drugstore brand.
I also pack aloe vera for sunburns and after bite for bug bites. I also bring a couple of hair elastics, bobby pins and hair clips, but again, I keep things to a minimum and really simple. I cannot stress enough to leave your valuable/expensive beauty products at home. If you would be upset if the product was lost or stolen, or if you spent more than $10 on it, don't bring it. 

When it comes to beauty products, pack only what you will need. You will likely not want to go an entire week without moisturizer, but I promise that you will survive an entire week without eyeliner.

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Vacation Guide: Carry On Luggage

If I could, I would only travel with carry on luggage. Unfortunately, when you are traveling to a different country for a week, this isn't really an option- too many things to bring and too many restriction with what you can include in your carry on. 

As a general rule, anything that I HAVE to bring with me that has a higher value or I would be upset if I never saw again, I pack in my carry on. With that being said, I try not to travel with anything that fits either description. 
Besides my travel documents (passport, boarding pass, etc), here is what I pack in my carry on:

  1. Tote- This is what I use for a carry on if I am checking a bag. It's good to pick something generic- you don't want people to think you are affluent, as this increases your chances of having your stuff stolen. I also use a tote because when I am at my vacation destination, this becomes the bag that I take to the beach/pool with me and I use it as my purse.
  2. Clutch- This does double duty, I use it as a wallet and as a purse for nights out.
  3. Lip balm- Airplanes are so drying, so this is a must travel item for me.
  4. Bathing suit- I n case my luggage goes missing, I can still enjoy the pool/beach while I wait for my luggage to turn up.
  5. Earphones- I bring my own to use on the plane to listen to the inflight movie and/or radio.
  6. Deck of cards- In case your flight gets delayed, you have something to occupy your time. It's also a great way to meet people, asking them if they want to play.
  7. Shirt- In case my luggage goes missing, I have something to change into and will be appropriate for day or night.
  8. Skirt- In case my luggage goes missing, I have something to change into and will be appropriate for day or night.
  9. Bobble Water Bottle- You are not allowed to bring water through security, so these are perfect! You can bring an empty Bobble through security and fill it up when you are on the other side. This water bottle also has a filter, making water safe to drink. 
  10. Magazine- I always bring a couple of magazines on the flight with me. Not only are they great to read, but I usually leave them behind in the airport or airplane when I am done with them, so someone else can enjoy them too.
  11. Sunglasses- I love my sunglasses and would hate to lose them or for them to be damaged, so I pack them in my carry on.
  12. Kindle- I love my Kindle and would be devastated if I lost it or it got damaged, so I pack it in my carry on. Yes, it's great for reading and passing time, but I like to save the battery for when I'm at my destination.
  13. Snack- Airplane food is not always appetizing and not all flights include meals, so it's a good idea to bring a couple of snacks.
Wondering what I pack in my luggage? You can find out here.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Vacation Guide: What To Pack

I am so excited to be in Cuba! Not only is it fun to be on vacation- no email, Blackberry or anything work much as I love my job, I do need an opportunity to relax and unwind- I'm in Cuba with one of my BFFs celebrating our 30th birthdays!

I have done a lot of traveling in my life and have mastered not only the art of packing but the art of curating a vacation wardrobe.

I travel light and bring pieces that can be mixed and matched, and pieces that transition easily from day to night. It's becoming more and more common for suitcases to be opened and items to be taken ("luggage theft"), with this is mind I do not pack any jewelry or any of my nice clothing. I only pack items that I would be ok with losing or would be ok if they got damaged. 

So, what am I packing for Cuba?

  1. Tank tops- I bring these in a variety of colours. They are casual enough for pool side and dressy enough for dinner
  2. Bathing suit coverup- Great for throwing on to go somewhere for lunch. I actually have a couple of cover-ups that pair nicely with a denim skirt...making it an acceptable outfit for dinner.
  3. Flip flops- I LOVE my Havaianas! They are so comfortable, which is a must for long walks. Plus they are perfect for the beach/pool and they are fancy enough that they can be worn to dinner.
  4. Large shirt- I always buy a couple of shirts that would be way too big for me (think XL). They are long enough to be bathing suit coverups and are large enough to be breezy for hot weather.
  5. Polos- Like tank tops, are perfect for day or evening and can easily be dressed up or down.
  6. Cardigan- Perfect for layering over tank tops and polos and to keep you warm on cool nights. Cardigans are also a really easy way to dress up an outfit.
  7. Jeans- For cooler nights and ideal for traveling.
  8. Sandals- I'll pack one pair of sandals that will go with every outfit I bring. Sandals are a simple way to dress up an outfit.
  9. Bathing suit- How can you go to an island and not bring a bathing suit?! Plus, how adorable is this suit?
  10. Skirts- I know that dresses are popular for vacations, but I actually stick to skirts. They are easier to mix and match with different tops. I usually pack one or two denim skirts, as they are great to wear while getting to and from the pool and beach. 
I also bring a sweatshirt or zip up hoodie with me on the plane. They take up a lot of room in a suitcase, which is why I bring one one the plane, instead of packing one. Plus airports and planes tend to be on the cooler side. I will end up packing about 18-20 individual pieces of clothing, (including socks, sleepwear, etc) for the entire week, which really isn't a lot.

Any seasoned traveler will tell you to pack light and only bring the essentials. Two pieces of advice that I highly endorse!!

Friday 23 May 2014

Birthday Recap: The Last Celebrations

I have so many things going on in my life and so many things that I want to share on my blog, that it takes me months and months to post content. My birthday celebrations were no exception. Yesterday I shared  a dessert retrospective of my birthday. The very last of my 30th birthday celebrations are kicking off tomorrow, when I head to Cuba with a friend to celebrate us both turning 30. With this in mind, I figure now would be a great time to share the how I wrapped up my month long celebration.
My birthday was in February, and I started the month long celebrations with a trip to Toronto. I had a blast in Toronto, especially since I got to spend some time with my brother. Mid-February, I shared how I spent my actual birthday and the days surrounding it.
The end of February was something I had been looking forward to for months. It is WELL documented on this blog how much I LOVE David Myles (I was going to include links to posts supporting this statement, but when I searched David Myles on my blog, there were more search results than I had thought...), so when I found out he would be playing at Brock University at the end of February, I knew tickets were a gift that I wanted to get myself. I mean, what better way to celebrate a milestone birthday than with your music crush???

My sister and I went to the concert together, it was nice to spend time with her and I was excited to take her to her first ever David Myles concert. He was actually the special guest for the Royal Wood concert, some that my sister and I were both seeing live for the first time. To add to the entire experience, the concert took place at Brock University, my alma mater and a place that is special to me. 

David played about a 30 minute set, which was as amazing and entertaining as all of his concerts that I've been too (a total of 4- 3 in a 6 month period- if anyone is keeping track). After his set, there was an intermission and David was out in the hallway doing a meet and greet. I had the chance to talk to him and get him to sign another CD. 

Prior to the show, my sister asked me if he knew that I was Dreams and Colour on Twitter, as we had tweeted to each other a couple of times. I told her no and that I wasn't sure why I hadn't told him. When we were talking to him during intermission, I told him that I was Dreams and Colour from Twitter and he said:

You have a blog...I checked it out, it's pretty cool.

That's when, according to my sister, I lost my girl and turned into a shaking, fanatic 13 year old girl. I thought I kept it together in front of him. Anyway, to know David Myles thinks my blog is pretty cool, is definitely a top 10 highlight of my life. I was extremely flattered that he took the time to check out my blog.

Royal Wood was phenomenal live...if you have the chance to see him performer, you should! My sister and I got to meet him after the show. He was really nice and we both got signed CDs. Oh, and Royal Wood know follows me on know, no big =)

On Saturday, a friend took me out to dinner at one of my favourite restaurants. It was great to hang out with her and she gave me one the best gifts...we've been friends since we were kids and she got me a picture frame with photos of us together over the years. She left one spot blank so that I can put a picture from Cuba there.

My parents had offered to host a birthday party for me...which I accepted. There was talk of guests lists, different types of parties, food, etc. But what I really, really, really wanted was to have dinner with my parents and grandparents. 

When I was younger, both of my grandmother's would host separate birthday dinner's for me. These stopped when I was a teenager and were replaced with my parents hosting a dinner where my grandparents would come. Birthday dinner with my grandparents stopped when I moved for University.

I am so incredibly blessed to have both of my grandmother's, a grandfather and a great-grandmother. Family is so important to me and I just wanted to be with them. I also didn't want anything fancy or elaborate. I told my parents, I just wanted my grandmother's lasagna, garlic bread and cesar salad. If I couldn't have her lasagna, I just wanted to order in pizza or Chinese food. My grandmother was kind enough to make me lasagna. It was a quiet, low key evening...but there was lots of laughter. It was exactly what I wanted, it was perfect.

I had an amazing birthday this year thanks to my family and friends and David Myles. It was fun, memorable and between than anything I could have imagined.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Birthday Retrospective: Desserts

My birthday was in February and I have two February birthday related posts that I have been meaning to post. Since I am going to Cuba in three days (!!!), which is the last of the 2014 birthday celebrations, I thought it would be a good idea to get my act together and share the two outstanding posts.

I was incredibly lucky, thanks to my family and friends, to have a month long celebration. This included a variety of desserts to mark the date of my birth:

A couple of days before my birthday, my sister gave me these mini cupcakes made of chocolate as part of my birthday gift. I saved them and snacked on them all month.

The night before my birthday,  a co-worker/friend and I went out to one of the nicest restaurants in the city for dinner. This was a cream puff pastry with ice cream in the middle.

The day of my actual birthday, a friend was kind enough to host a party for me, including a birthday cake. I forgot to take a picture of it, but was a Boston cream layered cake.

Because my birthday fell on a Friday (and of the Family Day long weekend), my family and I headed up to our second home, where this cake was part of my birthday dinner.

My parents took me out to one of my all time favourite restaurants. Cheesecake is my absolute favourite and because the restaurant knew I was coming in, they saved the last piece of cheesecake for me.

One of my best friends aka the friend I'm going to Cuba with, took me out for dinner to one of my other favourite restaurants. I hadn't had an ice cream sundae in years. 

And finally, at the end of the month, my parents hosted a birthday party for me (come back for tomorrow's post to hear about it), where instead of a cake I asked for cupcakes from a local store. Salted caramel is my favourite flavour...and the flavour of the buttercream icing on this cupcake. It was so, so, so good!!

Dessert wise, it was a delicious birthday and I was spoiled!

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Hey, It's Ok!

Airing My Dirty Laundry
That the count down to Cuba is on...less than a week!

To be unprepared for my trip. With the exception of having my passport, plan ticket and reservation, I've done nothing for this trip. I need to get on that.

That I'm thinking of blowing off all of my after work activities this week so that I can focus and get prepared for Cuba.

To be happy that the Rangers won last night! Two down, two to go. 

That I still send handwritten letters, even though the price of a stamp to send a letter in Canada is $1.25...expensive, yes. I've cut back on the amount of mail I send, but I still do it. Nothing can replace a handwritten letter. 

To be exhausted from work. I've got a lot on my plate. 

That I had a great long weekend, even if it wasn't spent at the beach.

Thursday 15 May 2014

Life Update: Trivia, Bingo and An Easter Egg Hunt

I can't believe we are half way through the month! Time is going so quickly and all I want to do is sleep! Anyway, I figured the half way point of a month would be a great time to update everyoneon what I hsd done the previous month. So, here is what I got up to in April...

I had 15 do I end up with so many meetings in a month??? Most of them were work related, including a regional meeting I hosted! I host this meeting once a year and I look forward to it. It's a great opportunity to connect my colleagues across south central Ontario and find out what they are up too. It was a really fun meeting with a lot of laughter. I also said goodbye to my work other half. Sad to see her go but we sent her off with a nice pizza lunch.

I had a lot of non-meetings last month too. I started the month with a visit from my boss who is on mat leave. I can't express how amazing it was to see her! She has this great energy and I am so blessed to work for her. She reaffirmed to me, without knowing it, that I am in the right work situation, this is where I belong. Everything I have been struggling with the past 6 months, she made better. Things are going to be a ok :)

Once a month, I have a girls night with one of my closest friends in the city, which is always fun, and this month was followed by spending a Sundaty afternoon with my university roommate.  I  also meet up with a friend/coworker who is also on mat leave for coffee.

Outside of our regular meetings for Sorority, we also had an Easter egg hunt, celebrated Founder's Day  and played Bingo- which was so much fun, even though I didn't win and my Sisters questioned whether or not I would be able to keep up with all of my cards- I only had 4, which was not a lot compared to the rest of them.

I had a couple of Brock Alumni meetings, which happened on the same day as Brock events. I attended the President's Forum, which was a cocktail reception. It was fun to hear the president speak and to meet local Brock Alumni. We also went to a local pub and played trivia! It was really hard but a lot of fun!  Our score was 37.5 out of 100. It was the rirst time we had ever been and the guy running it had this thick Scottish accent, so by the time you figured outwhat he has asked, he was alreadyon the next question. But it was a lot of fun.

There was also a lot of family time. I went home for my great grandmothers garage sale, and laterinthe month for one last visit. I was up at our second home for a weekend with my dad and I went home for Easter. It' always nice to see and spend time with family.

Oh yeah, and I booked a trip to Cuba for May!!! I am REALLY looking forward to this trip.

April was busy but fun. Half way through May and it's shaping up to be just as eventful and fun.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Beyond You- Leadercast 2014

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to attend Leadercast, which is a full day conference in Atlanta, Georgia but has 750 host sites around the world, which allows 150,000 leaders to participate. I was at one of the host sites as a guest of Kinetic Noise Control.

This was the first time that I attended Leadercast and it was an amazing experience!! The day was full of inspiring speakers- like Laura Bush, Malcolm Gladwell and Desmond Tutu- who spoke on the topic of 'Beyond You' leadership. Leadership is not about you, it's about the people you are leading. Leadership should not be self serving. 

It was energizing and thought provoking. I was inspired to go back to work and put into practice things that I had learned (and things I had been reminded of). 

Good leadership lives beyond you. Otherwise you become someone's bad example. 

Good leaders ask how they can help and then actually help out.

Good leaders take the time to mentor the younger generation...they aren't scared to do this, even is the younger generation might take their job. 

Leadership starts before you become the boss. Be a team player.

This was such an amazing day and gave me a little boost of confidence on how to approach some things in my life. It has inspired me to change some of my approaches for work and has given me ideas on how I should structure my leadership style for the two summer students I will have working with me this year. 
Tripp Crosby was one of the co-hosts...he is hilarious, by the way. One of my favourite quotes from the day was:
Leaders do not take selfies. 
Tripp encouraged us to start a new trend of #Yousie, where we take a picture of someone else and say something encouraging/nice about that person when we post the photo on social media. 

Tripp is also behind this, Real Life Conference Call:

How funny, and true, is this???

I am so thankful to Kinetic Noise Control for inviting me to be their guest and giving me the opportunity attend. 

Leadercast 2015 is taking place on May 8...everyone should have the chance to attend this fantastic event!!

Monday 12 May 2014

Inspire Me- Beliefs and Behaviours

First of all, I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day! I spent the day with my mom but it was a prety typical Sunday- Church and then to my grandmother's for lunch. We had gnocchi, cabbage rolls, peas and onions and red peppers, roasted potatoes, sausage and meatballs, salad and homemade apple pie. Everything was delicious and it was great to spend time with my family.
I have another long and busy week ahead of, which seems par for the coyrse these days. I have a few fun things lined up- birthday dinner, baby shower and Brock alumni event.
I also have a few meeyings lined up, which will be ok but not the most fun thing ever. Luckily I have some inspiration to help me get through the weekend (and knowing next weekend is a long weekend):
This goes along well with the whole concept of actions speak louder than words. We can believe and say whatever we want, for as long as we want, but it's how we act and what we do that is the true reflection of ourselves, that define who we are. It is our behaviour that proves what kind of person we are. Words are empty if there is no action to back them up.

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Hey, It's Ok

Airing My Dirty Laundry
That Ontario is heading to the polls. Our Province is in need of a change in leadership.

To have been super unproductive yesterday. Sometimes you just need a lazy day.
That I am unprepared for Mother's Day this weekend...I need to get it together and figure something out for my mom.

To be thinking about taking a blog break. There's a lot going on right now and for the next few weeks.

That I'm a little bit nervous for tonight. I'm running a program for my sorority and I think it'll be pretty fun, but you never know.

Friday 2 May 2014

Enemies Will Be Friends

Happy Friday!!! This week seemed never ending...and I still have a full work day ahead of me! It has been a busy week. I was sad to see my other half from work leave for an exciting new opportunity. It's been weird not talking to her several times a day, not to mention that the plan at the moment is for me to do her job, so work will be even more busy and hectic. Socially, it's been a busy week too; dinners and an elementary school concert.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. It should be pretty low key; I have a ton of stuff to do around the apartment, I need to get caught up on some blog stuff and Kentucky Derby is tomorrow!!! I will, of course, be watching. 

I thought a great way to end the week is with one of my (current) favourite songs:

White Flag by Royal Wood

How great is this song? How great is Royal Wood? My sister and I saw him at Brock University in February...this is a singer that everyone needs to see live! Words cannot describe how amazing it was! He released a new album in March and it has been playing on repeat since, about a month and a!

Hope everyone has a great Friday!!