Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

History: The Romans were the first to use January 1st as the beginning of the year in 153BC. Prior to that March 25th or the vernal equinox was celebrated as the New Year’s Day. This went against tradition as each “new year” was celebrated around an agricultural event – a harvest or the ripening of corn, the blooming of the orange trees, etc. Blah, blah, blah – anyone who knows me knows that I’m not into history.

Symbolically the New Year signifies the ‘renewal of life’ and with this comes the never ending “resolutions”, the cleaning of the slate or the promise of a better life. However, resolutions have acquired a bad reputation – how could they not, the majority of resolutions made fail. I too, have announced New Year’s Resolutions that went undoubtedly into the bin of forgotten proclamations.

Over the last few years I have been more thoughtful in my resolutions. In 2006, I was going to be more organized (could that even be possible? lol). Well, one needs to start out with a ‘resolution’ that can be attainable! With the approach of 2007, I proclaimed I wanted a larger family and in October our first son was born. For 2008, I announced that I would enjoy life more and do something I loved (CSJEvents). For 2009, I resolved to become debt free. I got a part-time job along with keeping my full-time job and the entrepreneurial endeavors I also had (I know, I’m a bit crazy – read more about me in this Saturday’s issue of ‘Balance’ in The Daily Gleaner). Success is emanate - I have only but 2 outstanding debts which are reasonable and manageable.

A search of the internet on the top New Year’s resolutions left me with:
1. Spend more time with family and friends
2. Fit in fitness
3. Quit smoking
4. Get out of debt
5. Get organized

If none of these resolutions grab your interest or are the same ones you’ve already tried in years past, why not try something new and individual like:
1. Conquer a fear
2. Step outside of your comfort zone – professionally and personally
3. Learn something new and/or practical
for women – learn to change a tire or the headlight in your car
for men – build a shelf, develop or re-visit a hobby

No matter what your New Year’s Resolution is following these 6 easy tips can help ensure this year doesn’t get wasted:
1. Avoid previous resolutions
2. Set a specific goal and time period
3. Determine how you will measure your success & track progress
4. Share your plan with someone else for encouragement, support and challenge
5. Reward yourself
6. Re-evaluate – continue or develop a new plan

My New Year’s Resolution for 2010 – Simplify.

I’ll keep you posted on how that goes – Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eco-friendly wrapping

So this year I announced on facebook that I was going to wrap all of my gifts in newsprint. Some have asked for photos so here is a sample of them.

I chose only newsprint that came to my home (flyers, papers, etc) that had something "Christmas" on them. I then wrapped the gifts and tied them with a great ribbon (which I also had in my supply stocks) and then used an assortment of hand-made (not by me) ornaments as the tags.

After wrapping only a few gifts my hands were indeed 'dirty' with newsprint. My son was quite intrigued - he's 2 and not allowed to touch anything with dirty Needless to say I rethought my situation and wrapped his gifts in left-over wrapping paper!

I think they turned out great!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The unexpected gift

I feel that I must also touch upon the ever etiquette-bundle-of-mess which is the "I don't have a gift for you" scenario. It happens to all of us, receiving a gift from an unexpected giver.

What to do? Say 'Thank you very much this is such a surprise' and put it under the tree.
You really can't be expected to have a personalized gift for everyone that could randomly give you a gift.

Some are of the mind set that you must return a gift with a gift; if you agree then you probably have a stack of pre-wrapped gifts set aside just for this situation. Favourites would included: chocolates (see last post), alcohol, gift cards....did you read my 'easy gifts'?

I do however, recommend that you add this person to your gift list for the next year and make an extra point to get a good gift for them. And you shouldn't expect a gift in return either.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Last minute gifts! with less stress

Well, if I haven't mentioned it enough I have been very fortunate to have been on the radio (News91.9) every week talking about the Holidays and ways to get ready for it. With Christmas right around the corner (OMG! 2 sleeps) it seems like a good time to talk about the last minute shopping that we know exists.

As a planner and organizer myself, most are shocked to learn that I love last minute shopping. I even leave some of my important gifts until then (so, if you haven't got your gift's cause i haven't bought it yet - silly!) The air of the mall this time of year with all the holiday shoppers can be daunting if you are not prepared so I've made a few lists that may help lessen the stress and even make it fun perhaps.

5 Tips for making last-minute holiday shopping less stressful
1. Set a budget for each person prior to going out
2. Make a list of gifts needed or people you need to buy for
3. Know where to look for the gifts: do your recon-work (this can also be worked into 'ways to make last minute shopping fun')
4. Be prepared to not get your top gift pick (let's face it others have already been there and you aren't the only one who thought it would make a great gift for so-and-so)
5. Don't despair! If you really can't find that great gift for "x" make them a really great IOU with the promise of something spectacular. Be careful with this one though - you don't want to be remembered for giving a 'gift' and failing to deliver on it.

Ways to make last minute shopping fun:
1. Make an evening of it - be prepared for long lines and short tempers
2. Split the gift list (make a race of it)
3. Reward yourself with that "venti mocha peppermint late" if you get everything on your list done.

Top 8 Easy Gifts that Don’t Suck (in my opinion):
1. Liquor Store Gift Cards: alcohol purchases can become pretty significant with Christmas and New Years so close together.
2. Spa Services: great gift for moms (new and old) as they typically wouldn’t splurge now on this. Receiving it for free on the other hand is a luxury not many would turn down
3. Gift Cards: previously looked upon as a ‘cop-out’. However, now everyone from the drugstore to the electronics store to the coffee shop offers them and hey – you did at least figure out what store to get the gift at – right?
4. Tickets: concert/show/sporting event, remember to get 2.
5. Getaway: evening or weekend. Great gift for the ‘hard to buy for’ person or the person ‘who has everything’. Everyone loves to relax.
6. Subscriptions: magazines/paper. If you know someone who loves cooking get them “Cook’s Illustrated”. You can buy the current issue and wrap it up with the promise of 12, 6, or 4 more coming.
7. Charity: (remember it’s my opinion here) a donation in the name of someone to their favourite charity is nice. Makes a great gift for those ‘who have everything’. Environmentally friendly? Save a piece of the rain forest for them.
8. Give the Gift of Yourself: (hehehe) very budget friendly. Make up coupons for services you can provide in the weeks to come. A 4 course meal, babysitting services, pet-care services, website building, car repairs, and painting – the list is endless. Word of Caution: Don’t over promise or you will be remembered as giving a gift but ‘failing’ to deliver on it.

When all else fails by chocolate!

Holiday decorating tips

So, I'm a bit behind in the blogging....

I have had the great opportunity to be on the radio each week this month (News91.9) and I've had a lot of fun. This past week (16th) we talked about holiday decorating:

5 great budget extenders for holiday decorating:
1. hold a 'last year's' decoration swap with neighbours or friends to change it up. This can be really fun provided you have people who's taste you like :)
2. throw a party organized around decorating to minimize the work. (This would also work for baking) This is great event for bringing together extended families who live close together and including those friends who may not have family close to be involved in something festive.
3. Organize family craft night for making decorations. This could range from cut-out decorations to candy dish centrepieces.
4. Use the outdoors as inspiration - add twigs and evergreens. This will also be very 'green' and minimal effort provided you have some in the back yard. You may need to be willing to go for a chilly walk.
5. When you have a dinner party it would be easy to take a simple Christmas bulb and tie a ribbon on it with a name tag to use as place cards. Each guest could then take them home. This could also be swapped with individual goodie bags at each place setting.

We also touched upon some tips for holiday decorating in general:

1. Edit the room first by removing all those items that aren't necessary.
Why? if you don't edit, after you remove the christmas decorations the room will look empty if you don't have things to move back in.
2. Seperate your "Christmas" and "winter" decorations.

3. Decide on which decorations you will use (this year) Use a colour scheme and let it flow thorough the entire house.

4. Extend decorations into non-traditional rooms such as the bathroom. This will help to tie the entire house together. It also adds a great mood lift as guest see decorations all around.

As some of you know I was also on Live at 5. It was a great experience and some got to glimpse my tree (which is never decorated the same).

Update: So as promised - here is a photo of my tree. I'm not computer savy so I don't know how to add a poll yet but during our radio show when Dan announced that I would be on Live at 5 we opened it up for people to judge my tree. Like or Dislike.
Lets have at it!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Office Parties - Etiquette

I had the opportunity on Wednesday to be on News91.9 in Moncton. I talked with Dan about etiquette when it comes to holiday parties - specifically the 'work' party.
May people have different views on what the office party should and should not be but, polls and surveys rule, in that those employees who act 'inappropriate' at these holiday parties are negatively affected in terms of career growth.
WOW! Makes you think about this party thing in a more serious light.
With this in mind I have a few tips to make your party appearance a good one:
1. You must attend. This is one of those moments where you need to think about your decision carefully. Your employer is hosting a gathering in which you are expected to go, this function although tied up in the ribbon of "social context" is in fact a business function. This should be treated the same as any other work related event - you show up because it is expected. Trust me when I say that managers notice if you attend.
2.Dress appropriately. Leave the bar clubbing attire at home. This is not the occasion to don on the super glitzy, mid thigh (well really closer to top of the thigh) dress. Yes this one is for the ladies more so than the men as - well - they have it a bit easier in that they wear pant - all the time. :)
3. Drink in moderation. That's right, as un-festive as that may be to some, it is again a work function where all those in the ranks above you will be attending and they will notice if you've had to much to drink.
4. Network & Schmooze. Even if it is outside of your comfort zone try to talk to those people who are in those "higher ranks". Let them notice you (outside) of the traditional workplace. This is in fact one of the main reasons that companies have this type of function - to encourage socializing with other professionals within the company. You may discover someone in another department who knows or has the skills that you are looking for. Break your self-imposed boundaries and mingle outside of the group that you see on a daily basis.
5. Don't complain or monopolize the conversation. Really?! Do I have to state the obvious of this one - no one wants to hear it. Especially be careful if you insist on complaining as there are ears every where. Do you really want the host (your employer) to know that you only came for the booze and food and that you can't even tolerate those you work with - probably not.

Really funny as I'm finishing this post I have Global News in the background and there is a holiday segment running on 'etiquette at the office party' :)
Oddly enough I feel that I have heard this interview before - did they hear me on Wednesday? :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Toronto Designs

So, I'm in Toronto and I've finally finished my class on Floral design and wedding decor that i was super excited to do. I got to meet some pretty amazing people yesterday including the instructors:
Shelley DeSilva from Wedding Wows Toronto
Sherisse Bhimani from The Wedding Deocrators
(photos to come - I need to download them and apparently I didn't pack my camera chord.)

I was amazed by the number of people that flew in to take this course! There were 2 from Newfoundland, myself from New Brunswick, Texas, Georgia, Maryland. There was even one who came from the UK! It was a very good experience and I'm sure to be making posts now on all the arrangements I'll be 'practicing' with.

Stay tuned for photos of my holiday arrangements.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Winter Weddings - Inspiration of light

I'm heading to Toronto in a few days for a class on Floral Design and Decor - super excited!
Why do I mention this do you ask? Lately I've been experimenting, practicing, etc. with my own floral designs. A bit unconventional but nice and elegant if I do say so myself.
First, I should give you some background: I was given this particular votive holder a long time back (4 years?) and have never used it. It still contains the original votive that was given to me then. It's not that I didn't like it, it just didn't really go with my decor at the time. Okay I didn't really like it but yet still couldn't part with it, somehow knowing that it would be of use and fulfill its destiny someday.
This happened 2 weeks ago! We were sitting here and the power went out. Now this has of course happened before in the 4 year period that I have owned this candle holder but for some reason I dug it out that night and lit it. BEAUTIFUL! It looked like snow falling in a almost night sky. The holder is teal with these white flecks in it and with the light flickering it made it appear as though snow was falling in this little container. From here I was in love with this little holder and was fully able to appreciate its beauty.
This night I was inspired to design a winter wedding (not Christmas as it is only one month of our long winter here in NB) base around this candle holder and the feeling that I had. I would be using this in the Wedding Show I would be attending.
I wanted to explore the idea of a glowing centerpiece.... but to also include the blue of this holder that was so intriguing. I designed a centerpiece around this idea using a square glass vase and inserting a cylindrical candle holder inside it. I then used floral foam to fill the gaps where I'd be placing flowers but left a space between the foam and the walls of the vase. I chose to use white carnations as my flowers for the centerpiece (many reasons why) which I inserted into the foam around the votive holder, I made sure to cut them short so that they would just be brushing the top of the vase. I then filled in the space I had left using the glass beads that we all know (never really liked them before but for this purpose they were the right thing). I of course chose ones in a teal colour. Once the candle was lit inside the arrangement it looked like it was glowing under the snow (the carnations), the glass rocks sparkled as the light bounced around and the overall effect was what I was trying to achieve.

Now the pictures don't do it justice but then again I'm not a photographer....

So in the above photo you can also see the tiny bouquet I made, again using white carnations , feathers (soft like snowflakes) and crystals. Received may compliments on the pairings - most were "...who knew carnations could look so beautiful!" I did!

I also thought about other lighting that would be needed at this imagined wedding. For this I was inspired to use wooden twigs which were lightly coated with white spray paint. I inserted them into these very tall white vases I have and hung hand-made luminaries from the branches. These luminaries were easy to make and I used pale coloured paper and I punched out a snowflake on 2 sides of each. They were lit using 'battery' tea lights - no fires!
Although I only had one of these at my booth I imagined them strategically placed in the room. Creating lighting and adding to the overall mood.

Again, not a photographer....

Here's a grouping shot of my booth as it was at the Wedding show on Sunday:
and yes, I am sandwiched between the storage room and the exit which can't be blocked. I'd also like to give credit to my "CSJ" signage in front - thanks sis!

DIY - The centerpiece cost was $5, the bouquet was $10 and the luminaries were $3.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


So, I've been lucky as of late (knock on wood) with the positive publicity that I've gotten this year.
It started in February with the wedding gala that I hosted here in Fredericton. I was then lucky enough to be asked for my opinion on the economy and weather it has effected myself personally. I was then asked to be on a couple different radio stations (Fred FM 92.3 and News 91.9) however, I think the best pat of this so far was that I was interviewed for the 'live it' section of The Daily Gleaner on summer parties....oh I had fun with that one. I think though I was most happy to see that the picture they chose to run with was of my little angel - Tristan.
He started a new daycare the Tuesday after the story ran and the place actually commented on the article since his picture was in it :) I like to joke now that 'I'm mildly famous....' but on the serious side....Mark Taylor at Delora Media has been very helpful. You can check out his company at:
6 'publicity' options taken in 6 months - let's keep the ball rolling!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

creativity spike

It's late here and I'm baking a cake for my uncle's 50th birthday. I can't sleep due to the number of incredibly awesome ideas I have running through my mind for wedding ceremonies and receptions.
Although I am happily married (I love you Brannen - as he lays snoring on the couch!) I could get married 100+ different ways.
I don't think that I'm conventional or traditional but an excellent blend of each. I like to take more traditional elements and intersperse some more creative "highlights" that get noticed. Having worked with every type of budget ($2000 - $30K) I definitely find ways to incorporate elements that keep your guests talking about your day long after it's over.
I don't like to do the 'same wedding' over and over but if that's really what you want then of course I'll be happy to comply. With my clients I really try to find out what is unique about them and what they like.

Sooo...enough rambling. Currently I have been investigating outdoor ceremonies and the like. I came across this photo from 'Green Orchid Events' blog.

Living in New Brunswick I'm not sure if anyone has ever done this set-up here but with all our beautiful senic locations this is sure to be a great layout for everyone. All the guests get a great spot to view the ceremony. Those taking photos will have numerous angles to choose from! One guest may be looking at you as you say 'I will' and able to capture the shot as at the same time someone else has captured his expression of hearing you say those 2 little words.
The options are actually endless of ways that you could tweak this to fit your individual style and location.
The key here is that everything must be thought of and planned right down to the recessional and which direction you will walk out from....

Hope this was helpful to some.

Monday, July 20, 2009

How important is the dress? - UPDATE

Well, i just wanted to let you all know that i was looking at some wedding photos of friends the other day and actually did a double take!
I was looking at a photo of my wedding dress and it wasn't me wearing it!
I actually, no word of a lie, had to go check the closet to see if it was still in there. It of course was. So this dress i was looking at wasn't 'exactly' the same dress but honestly you could have fooled me and obviously did.
This makes me pose the question once again as to how important is the dress?
This bride was across Canada - almost to the complete opposite side, which make me wonder - could I have sold my beautiful (now just collecting dust and taking up that much need closet space) dress to this bride? Would she have bought a previously used dress even if was only wore once? I don't know if she would have but I do know that I would have sold it.

Just think you could buy or sell a beautiful gown and then get a photo of that bride so instead of the "travelling pants" it could be the dress that goes on to give each bride a different memory.
Maybe that's cheesy but a thought nonetheless.......

Thursday, July 16, 2009

How important is the dress?

So...girls, how important is finding that perfect dress?
Will you break the bank for it? Will you buy used or does it need to be new?

These are all great questions and the answers all come down to you - the bride - and your personality.
Now for the guys, this is the dreaded subject. They generally want you to be happy and to be 'in love' with your gown, as it probably reflects the love you have for him (they like to think - as the diamond is his love for you right?!); however, they often get concerned when you say its X$. Afterall they are going to look quite daper in their tux or suit and it probably only cost a fraction of yours. How do you balance or justify this cost? Are you a budget keeper or 'this is the one - I've got to have it' type of girl.

Either way, most of us have (had) a picture of our ideal dress that we are looking for, basic shape and colour, length of train, details, etc. When looking or hunting for your dress you should keep in mind that it can play double duty. Use it as one of the focal points for the wedding, where all details, starting with the decor, can reflect or compliment it. If you are planning on having an elaborate dress with all the bells and whistles, can you get away with using less than perfect linens at the reception? Probably not, ...unless you plan to sit on the table as the centrepiece.

So, again, how important is the dress when it comes to the bottom line of your wedding budget?

My advice is to look around, take your time. When you find the dress - yes 'the dress' - can you get everything there? Bridal salons are more apt to give you a better price if you get the maids dress there as well - but don't stop there, can you get the tuxes, veil, guest book, etc too? There is something to be said for one stop shopping, I'm thinking Walmart or Superstore now that I have a small one in tow - out of the car, get the stuff, in the car and home. Now I certainly don't always advise this but sometimes it's the right way to go.

Another way is to make note of the dress brand and style. Contact other salons to see if they have this dress - not all markups are the same. How much is gas and how far would you drive to get it? Can you get it online? Have you tried posting your dream dress on services like Kijiji or Craig's List asking about it. I know every bride is different but chances are that someone out there has a dress very similar to the one you are looking for and it could be yours at a lesser price point. You definitely need to be careful with this option as you want to make sure that you are still getting a great deal and the dress isn't ruined. Ask questions and see it in person.

Some used dresses can be altered famously! Such a case was here last fall when the local seconds store paired with the fashion college and put on a exquisite show of re-newed gowns.

Budget or no budget, rest assured that the dress of your day is out there. You just need to recognize it!

Cheers and happy planning!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Year end...

So, it's March and I am reflecting on the the whole year end thing. Yes I do realize New Year's was January 1st! As a planner I am just starting to calm down now to be able to catch up in all my email and it will stay this way for a few weeks and then it will be "Wedding Season" once again. We don't have a Christmas or summer break but we do usually get a few weeks in the spring to relax and enjoy the fam & friends. This is where I am now - basking in the glow that is my 1.5year old while he dances crazily to music on the radio and tries to help me type (delete, delete).
Talk to you soon!