Week 27 – All business, no pleasure…or maybe a little pleasure!!

Being a hard worker is a truly admirable quality! But is that really enough to succeed? I don’t think so. Hard work is without a doubt a key ingredient but the recipe for success requires much more. In addition to hard work, I think curiosity and the desire to learn are just as important. Every year, as a gift to yourself, you should set a few new objectives. My main objective this year consists of improving my public speaking skills. That right there, is easier said then done..

A few months ago, I attended an Ottawa Young Professionals Toastmasters meeting and ended up joining the group shortly after! Last week, I presented for the first time and was I ever nervous! I spent the entire day overthinking, worrying and ultimately regretting putting myself in this situation! The funny thing is, the fact that I felt so uneasy about presenting is exactly why I had too! It’s called: practise, practise, practise….

While networking at this event, I discovered a practical business secret! One tool most savy professionals appear to have are….

Business Cards!

Why didn’t I think of that? I decided right there and then that I should look into designing my own!

Week #27 Challenge – Part 1: Design and order Vistaprint Business Cards!

Vistaprint is an online store where you can design a multitude of products. They specialize in affordable business cards but allow you to customize all types of business and promotional items including: shirts, bottles, bags, etc. 

Here are the steps I followed to design my business card:

1) Determine if you want a logo or not: I researched logos for a while and discovered the Logo Garden site. There for under $15 I designed and purchased the rights to my very own logo in a matter of minutes:

 

2) Select the card design: Vistaprint offers different business card grades from standard paper quality ($16.00 and up) to a thicker paper quality ($40.00 and up). They have all kinds of promotions, which means the cards can cost a lot less. Vistaprint offers a wide range of pre-designed card templates or, if you prefer, you can design your card entirely. I spent hours trying to play with the design.. Take your time modifying the images, text, logos, colours and get a feel for what you like!

3) Choose which information to display on the card: You can add as much or as little information on your card as you like! Typical information to include would be:

– Business Name

– Logo

– Slogan

– Name

– Address

– Website

– e-mail address

– Telephone/Fax number

I opted to keep my card design very simple! The main focus being the blog objective and website link.

4) Select extras: You can choose to add all kinds of interesting elements to your card such as finishes, greyscale, back print, etc. These come at an additional fee but they may be worth it! I opted for a metallic finish to highlight the gold colour on my card.

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5) A few promotional products perhaps? Now that your card design is complete, don’t forget to have a look at other fun products that you can customize. The website will even make recommendations based on the current style of your business card. I designed a few additional matching products and I am quite curious to see how they will turn out!

Have design questions? Vistaprint offers design support both online and on the phone. I had to contact them a few times and they were pretty helpful. One thing I found particularly challenging was matching colours from the Logo Garden site to those of the Vistaprint site since they used different colour coding systems. I resorted to an online colour converter to establish which codes to use in the end!

Now it’s a waiting game.. I plan on making an unboxing video of my purchases once I receive them! I am excited but a little worried they won’t look like I envisioned.

With all that hard work, I decided to do something that my inner child has been dying to try! I grabbed my outdoor blanket, a water bottle, my work phone (I was on call that night) and headed to the park at dawn! But why?

Week #27 Challenge – Part 2: Watch a movie in the park!

My neighbourhood counsel was hosting an outdoor viewing of the French movie entitled: “Le petit Prince”! As I arrived, I couldn’t help but giggle. There you have a 28 year old woman about to watch an animated movie surrounded amongst families and many children. I didn’t mind at all, aside from the vicious mosquito war, sitting outside in the cool breeze and watching a fantastic movie was a memorable and relaxing experience!

Important Note: If you plan on watching a movie outside, bring bug spray! I hadn’t considered this and was getting EATEN ALIVE!! Luckily, a sweet mother sitting next to me offered to cover me in bug spray she had brought! I would never have survived the movie without it, I woke up the next morning with over 30 mosquito bites.. they are terrible!

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Week 26 – Your masterpiece will simply take a bit of time..

Let’s take the above statement less literally, shall we?! If you are trying to reach the best version of yourself possible, the first truth you must face is the fact that you will never achieve perfection! For anybody with high expectations, this is hard to accept and the fear of making mistakes remains one of your worst nightmares. Since nobody is perfect, you have to understand that you will make decisions that you will regret and that, in hindsight, could have been avoided. They are part of your journey and if you have the ability to:

1- Acknowledge a better path could have been taken;

2- Learn from the experience;

3- Accept that you can’t change the past;

4- and most importantly, FORGIVE yourself;

Then you are one step closer to becoming your very own Masterpiece!

Speaking of masterpieces, this week’s challenge was more on the creative side and I have a wonderful colleague to thank for organizing this! If you are like me and have an appreciation for crafty and artistic activities this is something perfect for you!

Week #26 Challenge: Paint your own item at The Mud Oven!

The Mud Oven is a little shop at 1065 Bank street in Ottawa where you can create you very own work of art! The idea being that you paint a ceramic item of your choice.

How it works:

Step 1 – Select a ceramic piece: They have a large selection of items from plates, bowls, mugs, ornaments, boxes, etc. and the prices vary based on the item but include all you need to complete the project, aside from taxes.

Step 2 – Follow paint instructions: Your are given instructions on how the paint works and what is available for use: paint colours, paint types, stencils, etc.

Step 3 – Release your imagination:  Make use of your creative side or the Internet for inspiration! How you choose to decorate your item is entirely up to you. 

Step 4 – Start designing: Use a pencil to identify the layout you want to follow. Depending on the project, you may want to paint your background before you start drawing the details.. In my case, since I was writing I think it would have helped as painting over my quote smudged the pencil design.

Step 5 – On your mark, ready, set, paint..

Important note: once you are done painting you must leave your creations there for several days, in our case 7 days, to be glazed and “fired”! You can rush your order for a small fee (5$ or 10$ depending on the item size) but even that will require a minimum of 3 days!

I haven’t been able to capture the final product yet but this is what I ended up painting:

What is it? Lol I am not sure! I want to say it’s an oversized coaster! I love my Disney quotes and so I was inspired to create something that represents me and that I could use to set a candle or a mug on ūüėÄ

Also, don’t be concerned about the colours of my design! They look really faint on the picture but that’s because they are dry! Once it will be glazed and baked the brightness of the colours will shine through!! I can’t wait to see the final result and hope you guys give this fun activity a try…

Week 25 – I know, all they want is more Ssss…

Tic toc, Tic toc.. Here we go again! Do you sometimes feel like your life is on repeat? No matter how many times you try, it feels like you keep falling back into the same trap. You want to think that things will be different, yes surely it’s possible this time and then, of course, it fails miserably like it has on every other occasion. Life isn’t totally straightforward, and I am the first to acknowledge that there are exceptions to every rule, but I keep getting haunted by this age old and simple question:

Can single guys and gals be friends?

My heartfelt answer is: Yes, absolutely! Let’s face it, it’s not possible to be everyone’s cup of tea right? Therefore, if you get along on certain levels but aren’t a romantic match than surely friendship is in the cards.

The reality, at least what my reality has taught me, is that it isn’t possible. It always and I mean ALWAYS leads to either the loss of interest or disappointment. But wait..Having someone declare genuine interest in you sounds wonderful, no? Well actually when it’s not meant to be, it’s just plain bad news. Each friendship ends up dying and that gets incredibly discouraging when it happens continuously. Does this mean you automatically shut down at the approach of any man you don’t want to engage in a serious relationship with? No no, I don’t think so. But word of advice: tread carefully..

Perhaps one day my theory will be broken but until then I decided not to speak to single guys for the foreseeable future! Ha ha ok I am perhaps being dramatic, but I am a little stumped. For you lovely single folks, have you been able to maintain a platonic relationship with a single person of the opposite gender? or to keep things less heterosexually oriented, of the gender you are attracted to?

Now in terms of my title, you may be wondering what kind of S word I am referring to. As I am sure you guessed it, I am talking about Smoothies babyyy!! Oh and not just any smoothie, here I speak of smoothie bowls. I was introduced to my first smoothie bowl last week and I need to share this location with you guys. After all, that’s what friends do.

Week #25: Explore the world of smoothie bowls – Blended Berry.

To be honest, I didn’t actually go to the Blended Berry in person last week but I had one of their Smoothie Bowls offered as a gift and I loved it!

What’s so special about a smoothie bowl?

1- Tastes Amazing

2- It’s healthy & fresh

3- It’s very filling

4- It’s affordable (9$ and it’s worth every penny)

I tried the Greena Colada smoothie which contains all kinds of wonderful things such as avocados, pineapple, coconut, bananas, etc. Now, it tasted great but it isn’t very sweet! If you like sweet things you must try their a√ßai bowls, they are like smoothie bowls mixed with a bit of magic which leads to an incredibly irresistible treat. I enjoyed the smoothie bowl but I loved the a√ßai bowl I tried the week before hand even more. They are topped with fruits, granola, nut butter and all kinds of other goodies.

Where is the Blended Berry located: 298 Preston Street!

Since I was at home and craving them so much, I attempted to make my very own smoothie bowl. It wasn’t like the Blended Berry one but it was actually really delicious:



Smoothie recipe:
1/4 avocado

1 cup of unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup of frozen blueberries

1 frozen banana

1/2 cucumber cut in pieces

1/4 cup frozen berries

Place all the above ingredients in a bowl and blend everything until no more pieces are left. Transfer the smoothie in one or two bowls and use toppings of your choice. Typically you can put fresh fruits, hemp hearts, chia seeds, cocoa nibs, etc. I made Michelle’s Vodrazka Honey Orange Granola, which is the best granola I ever made, and this was my main topping. Sooo good!!

The world of smoothie bowls is now there for you to explore! I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have!

Week 24 – Who says girly-girls don’t like power tools?!

Once in a while, we all need a bit of time off from work right? Last week was mine! I am not sure why but it feels like the entire week just passed me by! I suppose that’s what happens when you are having fun!

Now, to all home owners out there you may be able to relate when I say a house is a lot of work! Whenever you attempt to build, fix or modify anything you have absolutely zero experience with, it can be really intimidating. Before my house was even built, I knew I wanted my Ensuite to have wainscoting or wall paneling! It adds so much class.¬†Being a women who has always loved woodworking I figured: “What the heck, I can do this myself!” I started googling and asking Home Depot experts for guidance. When taking on a project like this, you need to figure out:

  • the tools you require;
  • the type and quantity of material to use;
  • the proper measurements;
  • your budget and deadline, if you can.

Finishing this wainscoting project was the main goal of my vacation week because I started this project an embarrassingly long time ago!
Week #24 Challenge: complete a renovation project!

Before:

To complete this project I required the following equipment:

– framing square;

– measuring tape;

– pencil;

– miter saw;

– miter saw blades for cutting moulding;

– caulking gun;

– No more nails glue;

– nail gun (battery operated in my case);

– caulking;

– wood filler;

– white paint of your choice;

– paint brush;

– 5x chair rail wood moulding (oak);

– 9x decorative frame wood mounding (pine).

Now this whole thing was really a question of trial and error!! Believe it or not, at first I was convinced by someone at Lowes to buy a hand saw to cut my moulding pieces! Ha ha… WHAT A JOKE!! Good luck trying to cut any proper angle with that… Especially wood as hard as oak! I ran out the next week and bought a miter saw.. You can always rent one if you prefer.

Prepping the work is what becomes most time consuming! You need to identify the height of your chair rail, the average distance between your wall panels and the shape as well. As a standard rule, chair rail should be between 32″ and 36″ from the ground! As for the panel boxes, it’s best to maintain an even distance between the exterior of each panel! For example, your box should be 3 inches away from the floor moulding, the chair rail as well as the wall or box panels on either side. Online resources are¬†extremely useful when you reach road blocks. It’s not easy learning new skills but it is extremely rewarding! You may even find yourself using the new¬†knowledge and experience in many other contexts.

When done properly, your wall panelling should look a little something like this:


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Week 23 – To ombre or not to ombre.. That is the question!

Are you a libra? Or do you know someone with that zodiac sign? If so, you may have noticed certain particularities. For one, libras are perfectly balanced in every way! Ha ha…ok perhaps not but we strive for that! A characteristic we really do seem to possess, on the other hand, is the ability to be indecisive! We tend to over analyze and consider the pros and cons of even the most basic of decisions.. A 5 minute grocery store errand can easily turn into a 20 minute excursion. It doesn’t mean of course that we don’t know what we want, but when we aren’t certain it can take a while to decide! Last week, my indecisiveness manifested itself within my challenge because my choice was going to affect a very precious thing: my hair!

In a way our hair is our best accessory! A new colour and fun haircut can totally boost your self-confidence! Unfortunately, should the hair experiment turn out “not as expected” you have no choice but to deal with the consequences! I have had my share of BAD haircuts. When attempting to go blonde a few years ago, the bleach formula caused a serious chemical burn and loss of hair… Very painful! With my last haircut, when thinning my hair the hairdresser accidentally picked up the wrong scissors and chopped off a thick random piece of hair! I am still paying for that mistake! Luckily my hair being thick hides imperfections like that!! These situations make you think twice before choosing a hairdresser but since I needed a haircut this decision turned out to be my inspiration for this week’s challenge!

Week #23 Challenge: Try a new hair salon in Ottawa, in this case Chatters!

I remember going to hair salons so many times and seeing girls come out with amazing looking hair and thought…I want that! A style I have been dying to try is ombre or balayage! What’s stopping me? The fact that my hair has been dyed dark brown for years! Still, I made an appointment to consult on the matter. 

How to choose where to go? That was of course a challenge in itself! Who can I trust not to butcher my hair?! Well I did research and compared various salon portfolios. I ended up choosing Chatters located at TrainYards. A girl I met over a year ago recommended that place and she had beautiful hair! I called and my appointment was booked for the next morning!

Hair consultation result: A tip is to bring pictures of what you want at your appointment. I showed the hairstylist what I had in mind and she was really honest about the fact that this style would be a process rather than a one time session! It’s really important to know what you are getting into in terms of cost and time as you may be disappointed otherwise! I haven’t decided whether to proceed with it or not, I am a libra remember, but I am very tempted.. 



How did my hair cut turn out?
The hairdresser I had, who happens to be in a hair competition right now, was amazing! She was friendly, very knowledgeable and talented! She didn’t rush anything and did a wonderful job doing exactly what I wanted! I left the salon with beautiful, shinny, flowy and amazingly scented hair!! I loved my experience and I hope you will too!

What about the cost? The salon treatment costs vary depending on the products, type of hair length and the hairdresser’s experience. Therefore it’s difficult for me to give a price range! I would say the cost was pretty affordable though! That is for a standard wash, cut and style it was just under 50$! Of course that does not include the tip, which was more than deserved! 

My new hair! You may not see a big difference but I certainly feel it! 


Now, all I have to decide is whether to go back for the colour treatment or not! Would any of you try it?