COM0014 – Blog #1: What I Did On My Vacation

For most, summer means time to relax and unwind. My summer was quite the opposite. Not only did I get a new job, but we added onto our family. For my birthday, my boyfriend surprised me with quite possibly the best. present. ever. (Seriously – I don’t think I’ll top this for the rest of our lives).aura2

Meet Aura! Oh man, she’s not that little anymore. This picture was taken the 2nd day after we got her. She was about 3.75lbs – now she’s 9lbs! Aura is the cutest, happiest, little pug you’ll meet (of course – I’m a tad biased). She makes me laugh so much too. She understands a bunch of words including “hungry? Are you hungry?,” “Treat? Want a treat?,” and “Mangia Mange” (which means to eat in Italian).

I had a dog when I was younger, but I don’t think you realize how much they become a part of your life till you’re older and you’re a dog owner. Compared to my boyfriend, we’ve bonded way more – probably because we love to snuggle and cuddle together since day one. She’s my baby.

Aura even has an Instagram account! You can check it out here. 

We try to update her Instagram so our friends and family can see her pictures – there’s another thing that we do. Take A LOT of pictures. As I write this, I’m reminded that my iCloud storage is full from all of them. This one is the most recent and favourite.

growing

Downside = lack of storage. Upside = you spend evenings looking back at how small she used to be and going “when did you get so big?!” Also, remembering big moments like when she learned to sit…

Or this past weekend when she lost her first tooth.

We have a window in our apartment that looks out onto the street (she’s posing on the ledge in her growing picture above) and she’ll watch the people walk by. Sometimes, she’ll even bark (heh) as if she’s saying “get off my street!” We loving refer to her as “Officer Aura.”

Has it been life changing having a dog? Absolutely.

Would I have it any other way? No.

I can’t picture her not in my life, and she makes everything brighter. Our place is filled with more love because of her, & we are so thankful and blessed.

xo Amanda

Vinyl & Record Store Day 2015

recordOh Record Store Day – how beautiful you are.

Yesterday, music lovers around the world, headed to their token record store and (gasp) purchased music! You may have seen pictures of vinyl pop up on your Facebook feeds or Instagram followers. Shiny records – new or new to you – everywhere & everyone seemed to have a story to tell.

Speaking of stories, what is Record Store Day & how did it come to be? Well, back in 2007 a guy named Chris Brown (no, not THAT Chris Brown) wanted to launch an event similar to “Free Comic Book Day.” After having a brainstorming session with record store owners in his area it was founded and caught on like crazy, thanks to high profile artists like the Foo Fighters, Metallica, & more.

So, on the 3rd Saturday of April, fans flock to their local record store and grab some music. To make this day even more special, a specific number of rare records are pressed for this day (this year included releases from Garbage, Foo Fighers, U2, Paul McCartney, Brian Wilson & more).

rec

Now, I’m sure many are going “Who buys vinyl?” “Where can I even get a record player? I threw mine out many moons ago!” You’d be surprised at the answer.

Time Magazine wrote a great article called Here’s Why Music Lovers are Turning to Vinyl and Dropping Digital. In the article, it goes on to explain that vinyl sales are up by 52%! You just can’t beat the sound & quality on vinyl (even though they’re a bit bulkier to store).

20soulant

Now, I myself am an amature collector. Very very new. I got a record player on my birthday last year and 3 albums – Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience,” The Beatles – “Rubber Soul” & Hanson – “Anthem” (stop judging me). Since then, my collection has grown from family members who don’t want their records anymore, to garage sale finds. They’re lovely to have and thinking about it now, I actually have to go through them to figure out what to keep 😉

Do you have any vinyl? Do you think it’s still relevant? What is your favourite record?

xo Amanda

Contouring – Does It Work?

Recently I’ve been discovering the world of YouTube videos. Of course, they’ve always been there but I have I ever sat down and got lost on the site? No, not until recently.

I’ve been curious about the contourmake-up technique of “contouring” lately. The Kardashians are infamous for contouring and love them or hate them, they’re beautiful ladies. I decided I wanted to see how it’s done,  but let’s be honest here … the picture to the right is a tad scary. Not only because of the make-up but the AMOUNT of make-up. I was sure that I would end up with a gazillion zits if I were to properly contour.

Here’s a diagram to explain a bit more where to put your highlighter, blush & shading

con2

Here’s one of my favourite videos explaining a bit more about contouring:

So, is contouring all it’s crack up to be? Or is it just too much make-up? I’d love to hear your opinion below.

xo Amanda

Is sleep really that important?

How many hours of sleep do you get a night? food

“Two, four, six, eight, ten, none”

The truth is tha most of us aren’t gettng enough sleep. I believe part of it is because of our society – we’re stressed, overworked, busy, distracted, have something “more important” to do – the excuses go on and on, but in reality it is important.

We sleep 1/3 of our lives. Do you even remember what a good nights sleep feels like? I sure don’t. We’re so sleep deprived today, I’m surprised we aren’t walking around like zombies!

So, here’s the key question – how many hours of sleep do we even need and are there any tricks to achieving that “sleep goal?”

sleepThe National Sleep Foundation released a “Sleep Duration recomendation” chart not too long ago (see picture to the left). You can see the full image here. I fall into the “adult” section of the chart, so I should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep (however, tonight I will be getting 5 – not good!) Everyone is different with how they operate on sleep. For me, I find that 7 is the magic number – I’m not tired during the day, I’m awake and alert. However, if I have more than that it’s like I’m over-sleeping and tired. Do you know that feeling?

Now that you know how many hours of sleep you should be getting, now many people can just go to bed & fall asleep. Our minds race, our phones are going off, there’s a TV show you want to watch and finish that last chaper of your book. Here are some tips that could get you in dreamland soone than you think.

  • Exercise during the day.
  • Keep your sleeping consistent – yup, sorry that means not sleepingbed in on the weekends. As humans, we’re creatures of habit and that means our bodies are too. If you’re going to bed at the same time & waking up at the same time, it’s a good thing!)
  • Have an electronics bedtime – Put your phone in sleep mode, turn off that TV, step away from the computer. There are studies that show that this light from electronics messes with your circadian rhythm therefore not making you tired. Turn off your electronics an hour before you hit the sack.
  • Watch your caffiene intake throughout the day – Everyone reacts to caffiene differently I find. Doctors suggest to not have any caffiene after 3-4pm.
  • Go to the washroom before you go to sleep – So you aren’t disrupted during the night of an active bladder.
  • Listen to some relaxing music before bedtime, perhaps even meditate.
  • The good ol’ “drink warm milk”

Do you have any more suggestions for falling asleep? Are you getting enough sleep? Comment below 🙂

Goodnight!
Amanda xo

Meal Prepping 101

Do you meal prep? You’d be surprised with how many people do. Now, prepit isn’t for everyone. If you check out the picture on the right – which is an extreme example – but it often feels like more work than cooking every day (I will admit, this picture even looks intimidating to me). There are major benefits to meal prepping though:

  1. Less stressed out.
  2. Not having to worry about cooking every night.
  3. If you’re hangry, you don’t cave for “fast food” alternatives.
  4. More likely to eat healthier, and even lose weight!

Convinced yet? Maybe even think about thinking about it?

The good news is that I’m going to break it down for you so you can meal prep too!

Okay, sounds great Amanda but first what is meal prepping?
Meal prepping is essentially what is sounds like – preparing your meals for the week. There’s various degrees you can do this. You can only prepare the recipes that you’ll be cooking, you can prepare only certain meals, or you can cook each an every meal (as seen above) for a set number of days. As I mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of meal prepping is that you eat healthier and can lose weight. For example, when I meal prep I measure/weight my food and connect it back with an app called MyFitnessPal so I know exactly how many calories I am having. For many though, having a “game plan” for dinner time for the family helps a lot too.

I’m convinced I need to start meal prepping – where do I start?
mealWell, first things first – you need to have a game plan. Sit down and create a menu for the week. My meal plan for last week is on the left as an example. You can find several templates online – there’s some where, or you can look them up on Pinterest. Writing down what meals you’ll be having when (leftovers included – this can be calculated based on recipe servings) and then keeping a running grocery list. Then you’ll know what you have to get when you go to the store, and if you want to take it a step further, you can save money there by finding coupons to match your grocery list PLUS you won’t be picking up things mindlessly, trying to come up with meals in your head on the spot (I hate that).

Sounds good! I’ve made a game plan, I’ve gone shopping and I’m ready!
Okay, but first are you going to be counting everything or just prepping for convenience and overall wanting to be healthy?

No, I just want to prep for convenience 🙂
Not a problem – then you just go for it! Remember some dishes can be frozen, but if you think you’ll be eating them within the next few days you should be good (depending on what it is).

Awesome! Anymore tips?
Make sure you have some good Tupperware, a good chunk of time (depending on how many meals you’re making) and patience. Also, enjoy the process. You’re making yourself some healthy, delicious food. Kudos to you!

Do you meal prep? If so, what is your routine? Feel free to add any tips/tricks! If not, would you ever meal prep? Or do you find it to be too much work? Comment below!

xo Amanda

Recap: The 2015 Oscars

I always find that when the Oscars roll around, everyone always makes a big deal about it. In factoscars, I even know some people who go as  far as holding Oscar parties (which I’m secretly jealous about and wish I was holding my ownshhhhhh). The Oscars come together to honour the best in film and I truly believe that they hit it head on last night. The glitz, the glam, the winners, the losers, and my favourite – the performances! Let’s do a quick recap, shall we?

Online Interaction

One thing I noticed on Twitter this year, is that more and more, everyone is using their own hashtags specific to their brand. For example, one cluster of radio stations in Ontario were using #FreshOscars and as you tweeted, you were entered to win an iPad2 & $150 download card. Other stations were using the generic #Oscars tag. I felt it really brings people together because you may not be friends like someone on Twitter like you are on Facebook, but using whatever hashtag I feel brings people together.

As far as Facebook, I found that a lot of my friends and pages I like left it really to the end with re-caps, as they should. I find that with Twitter, it’s more of a direct news head on kinda service and Facebook is like “Hey friend, here’s what you missed – and while you’re here, check out a couple pictures too.” Speaking of pictures…

The Glitz & Glam

Normally, I’m not a red carpet watcher, but I was tweeting along and drooling over the beautiful dresses last night. Some of my favourites:
prattjloreese2 Anna Faris, Lennifer Lopez, & Reese Witherspoon.87th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

If I had to choose a favourite? Definitely Anna Faris. She had bling, but it was classy & I felt that it was ripped right out of a fairy tale. On a side note, her & her husband Chris have to be my favourite couple – relationship goals, people!

[Anna is wearing Zuhair Murad Couture dress, Jimmy Choo shoes, Judith Leiber clutch, and Lorraine Schwartz jewels. Chris is wearing a Tom Ford tux and a Officine Panerai watch.]

 

Performances

Let’s give a round of applause for the amazing performers during the Oscars who kept us awake (NPH – sorry, this doesn’t include you). In my world, the Oscar for best performance of the night goes to *drumroll please* LADY GAGA.

gaga

If you missed her beautiful tribute to The Sound of Music, you can check out a clip here.

That, my friends, is the power of Lady Gaga. Reminding everyone that she can actually sing, that she is actually an artist, and that she is constantly growing. Since Gaga had her hip surgery, I believe she’s re-emerged on the scene with this new, fresh energy. She’s teamed up with Tony Bennett and released an incredible album, she recently got engaged, and now she’s blowing us away at the Oscars. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next 🙂

Winners

One of the big winners of the night was Birdman, birdmantaking home best picture. To be honest, I haven’t seen most of the movies nominated for Oscars (I just watched The Butler a few weeks ago), but I find that many people are like myself. The Oscars prompts that love of movies in our souls, and of course, the winners/nominees are the ones that are most watched in the weeks after.

You can see the full list of nominees and winners here. Congrats again to all!

Did you watch The Oscars? If so, what did you think? And also, have you seen any of the nominated movies – which one should I watch first?

xo Amanda

Social Media in the Workplace

When social media first emerged into our culture with Facebook, a lot of employers “shunned” it and deemed it as “wasting time.” Fast forward to 2015 and it’s the quite the opposite.

According to the publication Social Media in the Workplace Global Study [2014 Version]

  • 90% of complanies now use social media for business purposes.

    Photo courtesy of socialmediaweek.org

    Photo courtesy of socialmediaweek.org

  • Social media policies are now found in 80% of organizations.
  • Only 36% of employers actively block access to social media sites.
  • 43% of businsses permit all of their employees to access social media sites.

When used correctly, businesses, employees, and employers can use social media to their benefit. For example, organizations in the media (radio & TV stations) use social media as a form of self promotion – with their programming, promotions/contests, personalities, news – all ultimately tieing into their brand. Much has done a great job with their Twitter – giving it almost their Twitter account it’s own personality.

They know their audience they’re trying to hit, and are the right amount of quirkiness – well done, Much!

However, for the businesses who don’t embrace social media, in my opinion you are missing a huge opportunity not only to connect with your customers, promote your products, and have the chance to have a strong presence online, but it makes your business look outdated and not connected, not only obviously with the internet, but with your customers.

If you were a business, how would you effectively use social media?