Friday, December 3, 2010

SleeveShirts’ Top Ten Client Gifts

I will never forget the first time I received a holiday gift from my favorite vendor in the UK.  Each of us who had overseas accounts had a two foot by three foot box delivered that contained gourmet goodies by the basketful.  Year after year we began to countdown until those boxes would arrive.  Of course this was back when spending was plentiful on corporate gifts, but even if you don’t have a large budget for such things; it’s a MUST to spread goodwill to your special business partners.  Here are a few of my favorite things, all for under $50!:

  1. Red Envelope’s Leather Catchall.  Fantastic to monogram!
  2. For the chocolate lover, from Williams-Sonoma 
  3. Who can go wrong with wine?   I would love it if someone sent me this!  
  4. Health conscious client?  These are not only beautiful, but delicious!  
  5. Inexpensive and truly useful gift for the iPhone user?  
  6. Another great monogram opportunity with the LLBean Boat and Tote. I have one for each of my kids and a great big one for me. The zip top is a must in my book!
  7. Who doesn’t love Dunder Mifflin?  Calendars, bobble heads and coffee mugs with your favorite characters: 
  8. For the eco-friendly. I’ve used my envirosax for years and they don’t show any sign of wear.  
  9. Music lovers rejoice! 

Every year my Scottish Nana got such a kick out of hearing what kind of treats arrived from the UK for me. In honor of her and one of her all time favorites, number 10 is the  Harry&David Tower of Treats featuring Royal Riviera® Pears. YUM!  Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Back to My Future, Part 2

This week the alumni magazine arrived in my mailbox.  I don't typically read it cover to cover but, after years of skipping to the back to see who got married and who had babies I did decide to start at the beginning and read the first few pages.  The issue started with one of my most memorable professors. He taught finance. Ugh... finance.  Let  me preface this by saying during my entire school career, I had always excelled in Math.  Always.  But finance?  It was not my friend. Chalk it up to a lecture hall setting where you are among a sea of folks who are either cramming for their next exam, sleeping or arriving late and leaving early.  You could say there were more than a enough distractions to keep me focused on learning the ins and outs of the stock market and economy.  College was also a time where I met my soon to be husband. Social distractions? Plenty.

A few more pages in and I realized WOW, my University has fantastic programs for management students.  (Did they always have these and I just didn't realize?)  A mock trading floor?  I'm sure they didn't have that 10 years ago but I think it would have engaged me if I had the opportunity to utilize it.  Wait, an alum is now the CFO for the Yankees?  At this point I'm not only impressed but starting to work on my flux capacitor with one hand and continuing to flip the pages of the magazine with the other so I can read what other great careers have been made with my same education.

If  I could go back in time to my former-self and bungee cord her to her lecture hall seat until she aces that finance final exam I would also give her a few pieces of advice:
- Caffeine is your friend. Embrace it now!!  Stay awake in all classes. You'll be paying for this schooling 10 years from now when you have a husband a child and other more bills. You will learn to love coffee (light and sweet.)
- If you studied as much as you complained about how much studying you had to do, you'd have those hours back and already be reading for fun.
- Read for fun.  Access to amazing libraries is not a right, it's a luxury.  What I wouldn't give for an hour of silence to read something for enjoyment.
- Study abroad. Remember that time you hovered outside your counselors office with an application for Study-in-Ireland and he was taking too long with another student and you walked away?  Might have been worth waiting for if nothing else but a stamp in your passport.
- Take internship opportunities.  Don't think of it as working for free. Think of it as getting free experience.  With a fresh young face you can make mistakes (and learn from them) in a way that will be forgiven because of your age.

Recently I ran for a pad and paper during an Oprah episode to write down this quote. Her favorite definition of forgiveness was "Giving up the hope that the past could have been any different."  I think I'm ready to start forgiving that 20 year old management student. I'll start by brewing a big pot of coffee.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Philanthropy in 2010

Charitable giving is down 11% in 2009; the largest decline in the past twenty years as recorded by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The stat shocked me. Mostly because I think my personal charitable giving is up.  We've all seen some hard times in recent years. Personally, I think its motivated me more to be thankful for what I have, and to realize I still have more than most.  But where I see the difference is that my dollars are not going the traditional route.

I can spot a direct mail fundraiser pack from a mile away. Yes, I used to work in the industry which gives me a leg up.  Those handy return address stickers? I take them right out of the package, add them to my collection and recycle the rest of the mailer.  No donation from me.  (Especially if you've spelled my name incorrectly.)

LiveStrongs' requests for donations? Lance, I have just received too many emails from you over the past few years that I am irked to send you my hard earned dollar.  And the sad thing is that I believe in your cause. Just  not "the ask".

So how do you get me to part with my money?

  • Personal stories.  Through Facebook I connected to a high school alum who started a charity in honor of his brother.  The young man that I knew was handsome, smart, funny and yet at age 23 committed suicide.  I went to a small high school where everyone knew everyone.  So this one hit close to home.
  • If one of my friends is sweating.  This past year I've been easily swayed to support anyone who was walking a 5k, riding a bicycle or doing some other activity that  burned more calories than I could consume on a Sunday morning.  I like it when you work for the money.  Keep it up!
  • Randomness.  I've been known to roll down my window and pass out cash to the homeless. Again, it goes back to tugging on my heart. What must it feel like to create a sign on cardboard to plead your case, relying on the charity of strangers?  I've seen the shame in their eyes and the gratitude for acknowledging their existence.   It takes a strong person to ask for help.
This holiday season, the Salvation Army plans to have a system in place that will take donations via text.  It's a great idea for people like me who are motivated to give, sometimes on a whim.

What prompts you to give?  Would love to hear from you.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Greed is good...

With all the hype surrounding Oliver Stones latest flick, Money Never Sleeps I have to admit that I only recently DVR'ed and watched the original Wall Street.  A trip back to days of shoulder pads, really large cell phones and Daryl Hannah.  Oh, 1987... Thanks for the laughs.

My personal movie reviewers (my MIL and FIL) can't figure why Newsday hated it.  They thought it was pretty good.  They also enjoyed all of the American Pie movies which is very disturbing.  Siskel and Ebert, they are not.  But we love them anyway because they have lots of free time to watch movies in an actual theater, and not at home on their couch like me and my husband.

"Greed is Good" has been my latest catch phrase.  I'm all for it. Bring on the greed!  Adding another mouth to feed in my house has made me extra stingy. I'm starting to turn into one of those consumers who won't buy anything without a coupon. Yes, this week I probably burned gallons of gas returning a gift after finding it cheaper somewhere else.  I even conceded to the idea that we drive, not fly, to NY for Thanksgiving.  People- I live in the Carolinas. Shoot me.

I'm also getting really greedy about my time. Time is money.  Didn't make the cut into my intimate circle of friends? Sorry. No time for you. Unfriendly you say?  Well, maybe a bit. It's not like I'm holding up in the house like a recluse- I would just rather have deep meaningful relationships with a smaller number of people rather than a long list of one-dimensional, shallow friendships.  That's what facebook is for.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Back in the Saddle

It's been so long since I blogged that I forgot my password. But happy to report that SleeveShirt is back in the saddle again!

Had a fantastic summer highlighted by the introduction of Gus William!  He is sleeping through the night which means I am not a raving lunatic in the Preschool carpool lane.  Speaking of, Natalie is in preschool and we've started carpooling with another family in our neighborhood. My biceps are much happier lugging the baby bucket once a day into the school rather than 2x.

We had a summer filled with fun activities: Saw Mary Poppins in the theater, went to the NC Transportation museum for Day Out with Thomas, took part in the first annual SC Chili Cookoff as taste-testers.  (PS: I'm working on my own recipe for next years submission...)

With all that fun, is it strange that I became excited when my husband came home talking about a SWOT analysis for work?  Yes, it was a sign that I am ready to get back to focusing on marketing strategies outside of how to find the best diaper deals.

Giddy up.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I have the solution to BPs mess!

From what I understand, BP et al, are taking suggestions from any Tom, Dick or Harry.  With that being said, I’ve had some inspiration circa 1998:

NASA discovered that there is an asteroid roughly the size of Texas heading towards the Earth, and when it does hit the Earth, the planet itself and all of its inhabitants will be obliterated, worse, the asteroid will hit the Earth in 18 days. Unfortunately, NASA's plans to destroy the asteroid are irrelevant. That is when the U.S. military decides to use a nuclear warhead to blow the asteroid to pieces. Then, scientists decide to blow the asteroid with the warhead inside the asteroid itself. The only man to do it, is an oil driller named Harry Stamper.  Harry says he can't train men how to drill in ten days, so he brings in his own team of roughnecks to learn to become astronauts and get the job done. 

- Armageddon

Did you recognize the movie plot?  Doesn’t hurt to play Aerosmiths "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" in the background which I heard yesterday on the radio.

Loss of life is no laughing matter, and I am about to put myself out on a limb here with a controversial line of thinking, but here goes…

Don’t we have any patriotic roughnecks that we could send down in James Cameron’s private submarine to fix what a diamond drill bit can’t?

The crew might be on a suicide mission, but sacrificing a few white collar criminals with engineering backgrounds feels okay to me in order to save the rest of the Gulf.  And they don’t even have to be criminals. How about just a few bonafide heroes – willing to do whatever it takes?

Let’s take a page from J. J. Abrams wonderful screenplay:

Harry Stamper: None of you have to go. We can all just sit here on Earth, wait for this big rock to crash into it, kill everything and everybody we know. United States government just asked us to save the world. Anybody wanna say no? 
Chick: 20 years. Haven't turned you down once. Not about to start now. I'm there. 
Freddy Noonan: Guess I can't let you go up there alone. 
Bear: I'm with you. 
Oscar: Man, this is - this is historic. Guys, this is, like, deep blue hero stuff! Of course I'm in. 
Rockhound: While I don't share *his* enthusiasm, you know me. Beam me up, Scotty! 
Harry Stamper: You all right, Max? 
Max: I-I don't, I-I don't... Whatever you think. 
Harry Stamper: [to A.J] How about you? 
A.J.: I'm in. 
Harry Stamper: All right then. We go. 
Rockhound: I don't mean to be the materialistic weasel of this group, but do you think we'll get hazard pay out of this?

And don't worry Rockhound, I'm pretty sure if your mission is successful that Barack will earmark a substantial hazard pay package for you and the crew.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Our PreK teacher gave us a few summer tips in order to prep our 4.5 year old for reading.  While we've been introduced to Bob Books (great starter books for beginners) and some LeapFrog DVDs, I'm already impressed with what my daughter can already "read".

"Are we going to eat at Grapes?"

"Mama, when we go to the mall, can we park near Star?"

One of our more popular grocery stores down south, or as my daughter likes to call it: "Fish, Bread, Apple"

NASCAR sponsorship helps with recognition on these, combined with seeing them in our neighborhood each and every day:

One of her favorite places to shop:

What brand of car her Nana drives:

When she's really engrossed in a brand, she will also give me a jingle. "Nat what would you like for lunch?" - "$5 footlong... SUBWAY, Eat Fresh!"

Part of me cringes with all this consumerist recognition, but another part of me feels as if the identification of logos and letters will aid in her actual ability to "read". Obviously, with a marketing background, I'd also give a nod to these corporations who have built strong logos that support their brands.  

As long as we're 10+ years off from her recognizing

... I think we should be fine.

Friday, June 4, 2010

10 Hottest Careers in America

After years of service in the pharmaceutical industry, a number of my former colleagues are starting new adventures.  Some are opting for early retirement, others are focusing on new careers that they are passionate about, and some well- weren't expecting to have free time on their hands.

It's with great pleasure that I share the 10 Hottest Careers in America via CBS MoneyWatch. 4 out of the 10 are health-care related.  Good news for my blind sighted com-padres.

10 Hottest Careers

1.  Healthcare information technology. Technicians are needed for such emerging jobs as healthcare integration engineer, healthcare systems analyst, clinical IT consultant, and technology support specialist.
2. Clinical Trials Design and Management for Oncology. Biopharmaceutical drug companies have more than doubled investment in research and development in the past decade. Managing clinical trials include choosing appropriate dosages, designing treatment plans and recruiting patients.
3. Data mining. Data mining is the technique for extracting specific types of information or patterns from large databases. A study from the University of California, Berkeley, found that data in the world doubles every three years.
4. Embedded engineering. There are career options for software developers willing to learn some new tricks. Phones, appliances, televisions, automobiles and iPods all use processors to run. These complex digital processors are embedded systems, often built around a microprocessor core, that are designed by software engineers.
5. Feature writing on the web. Is this where all those newspaper reporters who lost their jobs will end up?
6. Geriatric healthcare. Hey, everybody is getting older which means there are more opportunities for jobs for pharmacists, geriatric care managers, geriatric nurses and managing facilities for seniors.
7. Mobile media. Graphic designers, videographers, video editors, app developers and software engineers are needed to design and provide all the stuff that we now cram in our cell phones.
8. Occupational health and safety. More specialists are needed to cope with technological advances in safety equipment, changing regulations and increasing public expectations.
9. Spanish/English translation and interpretation. There are 250 million Spanish speakers throughout the world and the US has 31 million. The strongest demand for Spanish speakers is in the health care and legal fields.
10. Sustainable business practices and greening of all jobs. Green collar jobs can be found in every profession - even those you wouldn’t suspect. For instance, accountants are needed who understand what carbon accounting is.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Travel Tribulations

Recently I asked my Facebook Fans to share what their most dreaded part of traveling for business was.  Although I’m pumped for my next trip out of town I can’t help but be a little wary knowing my history.

I seem to give off a vibe when I travel which results in wackiness such as the time:
·         My hotel gave me a key for an already occupied room. (Thankfully no one was inside at the time I entered)
·         My hotel gave me a key for an already occupied room (and a couple was getting cozy- YIKES!)  Total mortification.
·         I went to London amidst a Tube-strike and still had to figure out how to get to and from various client meetings while fighting for a limited number of black cabs.
·         I was getting settled in my quaint London suite when I heard the toilet running. After jiggling the handle a few times to no avail, I lifted the porcelain tank cover and it fell to the floor into a million pieces. Total mortification (again). 
·         I went to Cleveland for a day trip and got stuck overnight unexpectedly. No toothbrush, no contact solution and it was so late when we arrived at the hotel that the hotel store was CLOSED.  Since my hubby was also out of town at the time I had to arrange for my cousin who lived 30+ miles away to check in on my dog 3x! Argh…
o       When we finally did touch back down in DC there was a security breach and our “people mover” bus was held up. When everything was safe and we were finally released, my Creative Director and I were in the Amazing Race to make a client presentation. Those were the longest 2 days of my life, and I really needed a long hot shower.
·         Vendors took a few of us ladies out for a night in New Orleans.  All I can write is that ‘What happens in Nawlins, stays in Nawlins.’ 

Amazingly I can now look back on these events and laugh more than cringe. The lessons they’ve taught me? Flexibility when you travel is key. None of these situations was under my control and despite the challenges; I still had a job to do. 

If I hadn’t been working on little sleep after the Cleveland debacle, my adrenaline for next days client presentation might not have been as high. We hit that presentation out of the park and I was so glad to get home, take the dog for a walk and have a glass of wine.

I also learned that sincerely apologizing diffuses most uncomfortable situations. Whether it be to the nice couple who didn’t expect company in their hotel room, or the hotel concierge who probably could have raked me over the coals for a replacement tank cover, I came out of it unscathed and with good stories to pass on to pals like you.

Wish me luck this week as I head out for my trip. Or don’t, and if you’re lucky I’ll have some funny story to share with you when I get back.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

When in doubt, clean

Woke up one Saturday morning knowing that after a long week my husband was off to another 14 hour day at the office. Boo.  I treasure our weekends together. Not only do I get a small break from being a WAHM and the main source of entertainment for our 4 year old, but we usually find some family-fun activity to waste away our weekend.  They always go by too quickly, but they re-energize me for our week ahead.

I could not have been grumpier when I woke up that day. After breakfast, the cartoons went on and I searched for something to motivate me.  What to do? What to do?

When in doubt, I clean.  There is something cathartic about cleaning that always brings me clarity. I do it when I’m bored, stressed, and angry. Almost for any negative emotion.  My husband knows the signs and usually steers clear.  Now don’t get any ideas like inviting me over to your house for a thorough spring cleaning. I’m usually in my PJs, sweating my butt off and not in the mood for conversation and/or help. It turns into a “get out of my way and let me scrub this floor until it sparkles… OR ELSE!” personal tirade.

But then… Ah. Sweet relief.  In my scrubbing, wiping, washing, organizing, vacuuming- somewhere in all of that mindless exercise, I gain clarity.  I have worked out whatever I’m stressed out about that day, or I’ve come to terms with whomever/whatever I’m angry about and figured out a solution.  It’s like therapy without the co-pay.

This morning the toys are (mostly) away, the kitchen smells lemony-fresh, the gifts for upcoming celebrations are all wrapped and I came up with a fun activity filled plan for my Mommy-daughter Saturday.  The ironing will have to wait.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bob Harper Would Be So Proud

Back in March we discussed the importance of nurturing your spine if you are stuck at a desk all day hunched over your computer.  I’m happy to report that after a lovely trip to Staples I am the new proud owner of a Fellowes® footrest , back support pillow and Handstands® wrist rest  (the soft wrap around micro beads, makes typing sooooo much more comfortable).

Having the right tools can make you more productive!  I’m already reaping the benefits. I can sit longer (comfortably). I don’t ache when I do get up (except for those unavoidable pregnancy pains).  And, best of all, I look forward to getting back to work!

Staying with this theme we wanted to share 5 exercises* that you can perform while you work. Just think how much more productive those marathon conference calls will be when you’ve snuck in a work-out!
Exercise 1 - Side Stretches
To help whittle your waist and keep your spine aligned and supple, side stretches are excellent exercises to do at your desk. With your arms raised over your head or akimbo with your hands on your hips, lean gently over to each side as far as you can safely go. Please use caution if your chair is unstable or if it is on wheels. You can do this a few times on each side at several times throughout the day.
Exercise Two - Arm Raises
In order to help protect against carpal tunnel syndrome, poor circulation, and weight gain, you should do arm raises several times a day. There are different methods of doing these simple exercises: raising your arms straight over your head, raising them to the sides, or even behind you. Each method works a different set of muscles, and all will temporarily increase your heart rate, keeping your metabolism revving.
Exercise Three - Butt Squeezes
The easiest exercise that you can do at your desk is butt squeezes. You can even do them while you are on the phone or typing up a report. Simply squeeze and release your buttocks muscles several times. This is the number one exercise that will help prevent "office chair spread" of your hindquarters.
Exercise Four - Leg Lifts
Of course, these are not the type of leg lifts that have you lying down on the floor and swinging your legs around. At your desk, you can easily straighten your knees and lift your legs out in front of you. You can also march with your feet in place. This will exercise the large muscles in your legs. For easy calf exercises, you can raise your feet up on the toes and lower them. Be sure to use your muscles when you do these exercises for maximum effect.
Exercise Five - Stress Relievers
Many of the exercises already described here will really help to relieve stress of your desk job. However, there are some other great stress relief exercises you can do at your desk.

Gently stretching your neck, or rolling your head around, will reduce neck and upper back stress. Lifting your arms in front of you and bending your hands up and down at the wrist will help to relieve the stress of  typing and help prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

As you spend year after year hunched over your desk for eight hours every day, you may find your muscles atrophying, and your hips and waist spreading. Not only can you help prevent that weight gain and loss of tone, but you can alleviate stress with these five quick exercises. Exercising at your desk only takes a few minutes, and will do your body and mind a world of good.

These 5 exercises are really helpful for those days you are chained to your desk.  Afterall, Joan Price author of The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book reminds us that "We are made to move, not sit at a desk 12 hours a day.” Ain’t that the truth.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

In Good Company Workplaces

Adelaide Lancaster and Amy Abrams are two smart, talented ladies you want to get to know.  They are the proud founders of In Good Company Workplaces.  If you are a NYC entrepreneur- you need to visit their space, but if you are hundreds of miles away like me, I recommend subscribing to their newsletter chock full of resources, small business news and innovative ideas.
our story

Our years of consulting to many talented and enterprising women helped us to identify several common themes and challenges that affected our client’s success. We frequently met and worked with entrepreneurs who felt isolated as business owners; had difficulty finding affordable office space; lacked a collegial community with whom they could share resources and tricks of the trade; and struggled with where to go when faced with challenges. Not only were these challenges pervasive but they resonated with us strongly as business owners ourselves! We began to wonder if there was a solution that could address these common needs of women business owners. And so the market research and business planning began...
Flash forward 18 months later, and In Good Company WorkPlaces is launched! Finally - an innovative business that is designed with women business owners’ success in mind!
In Good Company’s purpose, practices and policies reflect our core beliefs about women entrepreneurship and their offerings are based in our overall mission to elevate the status of women entrepreneurs, which we do by providing solutions and connections that enhance the success of women-led ventures. In Good Company is also committed to finding ways to collaborate and support other organizations and non-profits who are also promoting the professional development of women and girls. Organizations include: Nest, Step Up Women’s Network, GEMS GIRLS, WIBO, Make A Wish Foundation, and The Vibe Theatre Experience.
A complaint I often hear from my clients is that although they love fulfilling their dream of being a business owner that they miss the collaboration and camaraderie of previous work environments.  The community that Amy and Adelaide have created empowers women business owners to come together to work, meet and learn - all in good company.  Kudos ladies! 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


If you’ve utilized the small business association to help get your business off the ground, you may have also heard of SCORE.  For those of you that haven’t, SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide.
Want a free online evaluation of your business?  Click on the Small Business Assessment.  After a quick questionnaire you will be presented with customized report with resources and topics that will interest you in your current phase of business.

The resources they provide are fantastic- suggested books, articles, and websites to review.  Also, don’t forget to check out what webinars are coming up.

If you want a little bit more interaction, you can email questions directly to business experts.  Prefer an in-person consultation? You can easily find an office in your area to set up a personal appointment.   When was the last time you were offered 24/7 mentoring advice for free?

SCORE has a proven track record of helping small businesses. Ever hear of Jelly Belly Candy Company? Vermont Teddy Bear or Vera Bradley Designs? Yep. All have used SCORE.

If you’ve worked with SCORE- we’d love to hear about your personal experience.  For the rest of my budding entrepreneurs- check out SCORE today!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Big Box vs Mom&Pop

Target had me at hello.  I admit it. I am in there once a week (at least).  What sucked me in, as I suspect it did for many of you dear readers, it its one-stop shopping experience.  I don’t need to go to AutoZone, Stride Rite, Hallmark, and Harris Teeter all in one day- instead I head to one place. Better carbon footprint, no?

What I’ve recently come to realize, is that I’ve limited my shopping experience mainly to major corporations.  Hardly a Mom&Pop operation in my retail repertoire. 

Cinda Baxter would like to change that. She has started a Mom&Pop revolution.  Cinda’s brainchild The 3/50 Project- is a movement to save the brick and mortar businesses that our nation was built on.  Consider these thought provoking points:

3                    What three independently owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in. Say hello.  Pick up something that brings a smile.  Your purchases are what keeps those businesses around.

50                If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue*.  Imagine the positive impact if ¾ of the employed population did that.

Have you ever given much thought to your local economy? I know I surely haven’t- until now.  Join me in supporting The 3/50 Project- and shop some great businesses in your hood.

*Employment statistics courtesy U.S. Labor Department 2/6/09 report; 68/43 stats courtesy Civic Economics 2008 study.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

PictureThatSound exhibits at Creative Keepsakes Convention

Friends, Crafters, Memory-Keepers: Join PictureThatSound at its first ever consumer trade show.

Mesa AZ
April 16-17th

Jenn Furr, founder of PictureThatSound will be on hand providing product demonstrations and discussing her innovative new products!

Each 5” x 7” PictureThatSound paper card features a creative but simple photo matte with a high-quality built-in recording device. The colorful card gives the memory keeper an inspirational starting point to record sound, add images, embellishments, and handwriting. The result? A unique family heirloom to be used in scrapbooks or as a stand-alone custom piece of art.

The card also features 20 seconds of recording time, archival-quality acid-free and lignin-free paper, an easy-slide battery tray for simple replacement and a pull-tab to prevent accidental over-recording. The archival paper, replaceable batteries, and high-quality memory chip ensure the card will last for generations.

“There are so many sounds that we take for granted, that we think we’ll always remember… We provide a product that allows you to capture a photo and an audio snapshot of that memory, all in one” explains Jennifer.

Looking for a fantastic Mothers Day gift for your mom, grandmother or aunt?  Order yours today!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wardrobe Safety Blanket

You have one in your closet. At least one.  A go-to piece of clothing and when all else fails, it comes out to make an appearance. Maybe it appears so often that you could be featured in the weekly magazines “I love my ____” segment that they usually reserve for celebrities holding the handbag-du jour. 

I was having a little wardrobe crisis for the neighborhood egg hunt- the cool temperature took me by surprise and didn’t now mesh with my outfit choice.  What did I do? Gravitate towards my safety blanket. A 2004 GAP scalloped-edge jean jacket.

In my career I’ve been lucky to have worked for companies where corporate-casual was the accepted attire. So the jacket not only makes appearances on the weekends or in the evenings, but has been incorporated into my work wardrobe as well.  When I travel, it’s a must. Perfect for cool summer evenings, but also great for Carolina winters when layered.

I keep waiting for one of my pals to call me out on the jean jacket. “It’s done Eileen. Retire the jacket.”  I remember the Spring lunch hour in DC where I went in, tried it on, put it back on the rack, walked out and walked halfway down the block before turning around to purchase it. I paid full price for it. We have quite a thing going here.

Ready to break up with the jean jacket? I don’t want to become one of those women who hasn’t tried out new trends in years because they got stuck in their favorite year of fashion or self-body image.  Shoot! Am I already there?

If I channel Clinton Kelly I think he would say that the jackets in good shape (ok, I’ll admit to a tiny bit of fraying on the sleeves), but it is 6 years old. Might be time for an upgrade with a darker wash.  I’d also like to think that he wouldn’t make me throw it into a steel trash bin but that instead he’d strongly suggest that I start to cut down on its use.  Or mix up some additional accessories with it- like a fun flowery pin or a broach.  (Great idea Karen Naylor!)  Probably good fashion advice.

But it's my jean jacket- a hard habit to break.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Healthy spine, better productivity

Playing three high school sports, working office jobs sitting in front of a computer, and years of less-than-perfect posture have made my back and neck susceptible to misalignment.  Now that I work from home in my cozy home-office I started to evaluate what my ergonomics situation is like.  (My chiropractor would be so proud!)

Employing good office-place ergonomics results in improved productivity and better health.  Physicians at believe you can avoid pain at your desk by evaluating the following:
  • Your seated posture.  Do you sit at the front of your chair hunched over?   The better seated posture is to sit back in the office chair and utilize the chair’s lumbar support to keep the head and neck erect.
  • Time spent at your desk. If you are at your desk for prolonged periods of time, do you stretch and/or take walking breaks?  Runs to the coffee-maker are a good thing!
  • Your workstation. How do your desk, computer and chair relate to one another? Spine professionals give the following guidelines to ensure proper relation of these three key items:
1.   Choose the surface height for the desk (standing, sitting or semi-seated) best for the task to be performed. Architects and draftsman may want a higher surface for drawing while computer entry work could be seated or standing, depending on the need to use other tools or references. The specific height of the work surface will also need to vary based on the height of the individual worker.
2.   Adjust the seat of the office chair so that the work surface is “elbow high.” A fist should be able to pass easily behind the calf and in front of the seat edge to keep the back of the legs from being pressed too hard and the feet from swelling. Two fingers should slip easily under each thigh. If not, use a couple of telephone books or a footrest to raise the knees level with the hips. The backrest of the office chair should push the low back forward slightly. If these adjustments cannot be adequately made with the existing office chair, a different make or type of chair may be considered.
3.   Fit the height of the computer screen. Sit comfortably in the newly adjusted office chair. Close both eyes and relax. Then, slowly reopen them. Where the gaze initially focuses should be when the eyes open is the place to put the center of the computer screen. The screen can be raised using books or a stand if needed.

After evaluating my own office space I’m realizing that although I’ve been fighting the urge to cross my legs (a no-no while sitting at your computer!), I still haven’t found the proper alignment with my legs and my chair. I plan to give a few other chairs in this house a try or consider purchasing a foot rest that will get my knees level with my hips.

I hope your spine is happy today!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Picaboo- I see you!

Hello faithful readers. I wanted to share with you a fabulous service that I recently used-Picaboo.

I don’t come from a highly religious family, so when my grandmother passed a few months ago we started planning a memorial luncheon.  After seeing a similar project created by my SIL (thank you Danielle!), I decided to create a keepsake that we could give to everyone who was traveling from all over the country to attend the event.

The result? A memorial photo book showcasing my Nana as a teenager in Scotland all the way through to great-grandmother at age 88.  My family is going to love this!

Picaboo specializes in creating high-quality photo books.  The service is fantastically simple. After a quick software download you select photos from your computer, upload and begin the creative process.  What I love more than the attractive book cover and page styles, is the attractive pricing- you won’t find this quality for this price on Kodak, Snapfish, or Shutterfly. 

But there is also a great sale ending March 31st that you should be aware of- BOGO photo books. That is right, buy one get one free with code BGFMAR at checkout.  I made out like a bandit for my family project!

For my job-hunting readers, are you looking for a unique way for your resume to stand out?  Or how about my entrepreneurs?  Are you looking for a new way to market your business? Creating a professional portfolio book to share with prospective employers or clients is also an effective way to utilize Picaboo.   Can you imagine how well your portfolio would stand out in this dog-eat-dog world? Lots more great ideas to check out on their site. Enjoy!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Detox your Career in 5 days

Ever feel like your career is eating you alive? That the stress you bring home after a day of work carries over into your personal life and may even be affecting your health?  Then you may need the 5 Day Career Detox.

Well how do we apply that to your work situation?
  • Day 1 Evaluate Your Current Circumstances. Determine what is toxic.  A team mate? A project? Your boss?  The entire company that employs you? This may be a time for little changes such as angling to partner with a new group of team mates, or it may be as drastic as coming to the realization that you are miserable in your current industry.  Have an honest conversation with yourself.  Ask yourself: Is this project/job/company going to help me reach my ultimate goals?   What is making me miserable? Then vow to change it. 
  • Day 2 Purge Negativity.  Instead, choose happiness, choose contentment.  Attitude is key. Don’t let the little things get you down. One trick is to sit down every day and write down at least three things that you are thankful for. Start small: your morning cup of joe.  Aim for bigger: I’m thankful for my mentor.
  • Day 3 Be Selfish. No one else is looking out for you.  Be assured, your boss is looking out for him/herself. You make great things happen in your career.  Always be on the lookout for the next big career move.  It could mean changing departments, or changing career direction entirely.  Don’t have a mentor yet? Find one.
  • Day 4 Nourish Your Soul.  Surround yourself with positive people. Take a long hard look at your faithful lunch mate. Does he/she bring you up? Or do they suck your energy? If it’s the latter, begin the process of surrounding yourself with a new healthy group of people.  Forgo PEOPLE magazine and ask friends to recommend uplifting books that they have currently read.  Have you been skipping the gym? Ease yourself back in with a nice long walk blaring your favorite tunes on your iPod.  A good friend brings positivity to her harried work day with a simple purchase: Tulips for her desk when she is feeling down.
  • Day 5 Reflect. Starting to feel the cloud lift?  You’re almost there.  Day 5 is all about the previous 4 days journey. Ask yourself: What have I learned?  This new awareness of what toxins affect you will change the rules of engagement when presented with choices in the future.  
Choose health.

Friday, March 5, 2010

When the Planning Advocate advises against PLANNING

I am a planner. There isn’t any way around it. I like to know what, where, when and how - and preferably 2 weeks in advance. Planning leads to better organization, which simplifies your personal and/or your professional life.

So is there any time Ms. SleeveShirt advises against planning?

I recently read this inspirational article where Oprah interviews the Zen Buddhist master Nhat Hanh. The 83-year old native of Vietnam joined a monastery at age 16 and has been sharing his philosophies with the world ever since. He’s everything you would expect from a Buddhist monk. He lives simply, chooses his words carefully and has always been wise beyond his years.

What struck me most was his challenge against the environment most of us find ourselves in- just trying to get through the next thing. Hanh says, “But with a practice, we can always remain alive in the present moment... It is possible to live happily in the here and the now.”

We’re all guilty of it. Too often we rush through all that life has to offer because we’re already thinking of what’s next on our to-do list. Hanh provides a simple example of how to achieve contentment of the present moment.

“Suppose you are drinking a cup of tea. When you hold your cup, you may like to breathe in, to bring your mind back to your body, and you become fully present. And when you are truly there, something else is also there- life, represented by the cup of tea. In that moment you are real, and the cup of tea is real. You are not lost in the past, in the future, in your projects, in your worries. You are free from all these afflictions. And in that state of being free, you enjoy your tea. That is the moment of happiness, and of peace.”

I’m going to go turn the kettle on. I hope you will join me for a spot of tea.