Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reinventing Your Resume

Image from Pinterest
Even if you're not actively looking for a new job, it's not a bad idea to keep your resume up to date. I recently met with an executive coach to review my own resume because it was feeling a bit outdated and needed some revamping. The result surprised me. Here are three tips that I took away:
  1. Hit the highlights. Be specific and succinct about your experiences, highlighting key accomplishments without going overboard. My bulleted description of each experience was concise, but I wasn't sure how to account for promotions or the project-based work that is the bread and butter of consulting. My coach gave me this example: if you've been promoted in your tenure at your current company, you can have a bullet that reads "Led a 20-person team to develop and execute an training strategy that reduced spending by 50%; This resulted in a promotion to manager." I thought this was a good way to demonstrate high performance without going overboard and listing every single individual position on the page. 
  2. Sell your skills in the summary. Overall, my resume was in pretty good shape and required minor tweaking. But the part that my coach spent the most time on was the brief summary/profile. She told me that this brief summary should really read like a mini cover letter. Rather than tell the reader what you've accomplished, this summary should talk about how you accomplished it. Are you great at building relationships? Do you have an eye for detail that allows you to catch what others don't? A good place to start is by drafting a full cover letter, then using it to summarize yourself in 2-3 sentences. 
  3. Know what you want. My biggest takeaway from my session was that it's hard to apply for jobs or create the perfect resume if you don't have an "end game" in mind. What do you want to be doing in 10 years from now? What are the experiences (linear or not) that will help you get there? Once you have a plan, it's easier to concisely summarize the skills and experiences that will be relevant to the roles you want to obtain.  This might seem like common sense, but I know I still need to do a bit of soul searching to determine what I really want to be when I grow up!
Image from Pinterest
If you're revamping your own resume, check out Etsy for some cool formatting options. You want the overall look to be professional, but you can be a little bit creative with the layout. Maybe it will catch someone's eye and land you the job!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Get Me to Christmas

With Thanksgiving behind us and turkey hangovers subsided, I'm cranking up the Christmas music and fully embracing the season

This is my favorite time of the year- work seems to be slowing down, parties seem to be picking up, and we're inching closer and closer to the fresh start of the New Year.  Although shopping for the perfect present may be top of mind for many, I'm shopping for the perfect Advent Calendar. The idea of counting down to Christmas with a fun treat each day sounds so fun and it's definitely a tradition that I want to start with Henry.  Here are some of the best ones that I've found:

From top left:
I'm leaning towards a perishable, chocolate-filled calendar from Vosges this year (let's be honest, Henry won't remember it), but next year we'll look for something more reusable. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Music Sets the Mood

Whether you're cooking up a big dinner tomorrow or just sitting down to something simple, great tunes can help put you in the right mood.  Check out this playlist:

Image from Pinterest
I'm looking forward to cooking up some fabulous desserts tomorrow (click here to see our full menu) and there will definitely be music in the background! What's on your Thanksgiving playlist?

Monday, November 21, 2016

Holiday Spirit

Living in warmer climates has its advantages, but around the holidays I start to feel nostalgic about Boston and colder temperatures. To me, snow and fireplaces lit with toasty warm fires just feel like Christmas. In lieu of renting a snow machine and trying to recreate a wintery scene, here are some of my favorite ways to get into the holiday spirit:

Image from Instagram, @thejuniorleagueofaustin
Do your holiday shopping in a real store.  Shopping online is definitely convenient, but stores are already decked out for the holidays and there's something really nice about shopping for presents in person. If crowds aren't your thing, go now! I kicked off my holiday shopping this weekend at the Junior League's annual holiday market: A Christmas Affair. Look for similar markets in your area- it's a fun way to shop local and get some holiday vibes.

Image from Instagram, @Starbucks

Sip a holiday drink. Starbucks Christmas cups are out, which signals the beginning of the holiday season for many. Even if there's no snow in your area, you can pick up a wintery beverage. I'm loving the new Spiced Sweet Cream Cold Brew- it's festive, even on 85 degree days.

Image from Instagram, @CrateandBarrel
Host a party.  You don't have to go overboard on a holiday soiree. A simple dinner with friends or a get-together to decorate cookies will give you something to look forward to this holiday season. Spending time with loved ones is the best part of the holiday season, so take advantage of the opportunity to get people together!

Image from Instagram, @Nestfragrances
Set the mood. Light a holiday candle and turn up the Christmas music while you wrap presents, bake cookies, or even work! I've got my Nest holiday candle burning and a hoska (similar recipe here) in the oven as I type, and it smells like Christmas.

What do you do to get into the holiday spirit?

Friday, November 18, 2016

5 Fun Date Night Ideas

Me and my FAVORITE date; Photo courtesy of Jennifer Polson Photography
Dinner and a movie is fun, but there's no need to fall into a date-night rut. I like to take full advantage of a night out with my love, especially now that we have a little one at home and our alone time is less frequent. Regardless of whether or not your night requires a babysitter, here are 5 fun ideas for a fun night out:
  1. Progressive Dinner: We live in a city with so many awesome bars and restaurants that it might be impossible to try them all, but we're certainly trying! I love the idea of cocktails and appetizers at one place, dinner at another, and dessert at one final stop. It draws the night out and lets you explore a bit. 
  2. Bike Ride: One of my favorite memories of a trip to wine country was biking through the vineyards of Healdsburg with Neal. We didn't have fancy bikes, but it was a leisurely, relaxing ride that could easily be replicated in your city. Not too keen on biking alongside cars? Try a spinning class instead- I'm definitely eager to get Neal to join me at the new SoulCycle studio that opened near us!
  3. Dancing: This one is a bit city-dependent. In Austin, we've visited The Broken Spoke for some Texas Two-Step lessons, and we've taken a few ballroom dance classes together.  Both were a little bit out of our comfort zones, but a fun way to spend a couple of hours!
  4. Cooking Class: If you do your research, you're likely to find lots of cooking class options in your area. Even places like Sur La Table and Whole Foods offer them. Pick a class and cook something new and inventive with your honey- a little teamwork in the kitchen is a good thing!
  5. Coffee Shop Game Night: Scrabble is one of my favorite games, but on nights when we need to get out of the house, it's fun to go have dessert and coffee at a swanky spot downtown while playing a game of cards or a board game. Many coffee shops already have games available, but there's no harm in bringing your own!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

On the Menu: Thanksgiving Dinner

Image from Austin Chronicle
Thanksgiving is quickly approaching,  and this year we're hosting family in Austin. I'm excited to skip the airports and stay in, and even more excited to spend some quality time with loved ones (even though I know they really just want to spend time with the baby!).

Although I love to cook, Thanksgiving meals aren't typically my favorite. Roasting a turkey in the oven for hours and then making a frenzied attempt to get all of the side dishes cooked simultaneously sounds like a stressful way to spend the day. This year, I've outsourced the cooking and am just planning to focus on dessert. Here's what's on the menu:
The wine will be flowing and we might whip up some of this apple cider and cranberry punch. What will grace YOUR table this Thanksgiving?


Monday, November 14, 2016

Sweet Gestures

Gift Crate from Olive & Coco, Image via
The holidays are quickly approaching, and gifting loved ones is definitely a holiday tradition. But what about all of those other "moments" throughout the year that deserve a little recognition? Small, sweet gestures go a long way. Here are a few ways to surprise and delight your friends and family members, even when gifts are not required:

  • Snail Mail. I love getting mail, but my mailbox is usually filled with bills and lame catalogs. A card or a letter from a friend really brightens my day, especially when it's unexpected. I like to keep this in mind and try to send the occasional note or small package to my friends. 
  • Gift Box or Care Package. When I was newly pregnant, I received the most amazing Olive & Coco gift box from a friend in Boston. It satisfied all of my  pregnancy snack cravings, but more importantly, it was such an awesome way for my friend to say "I'm excited for you!".
  • Send Flowers. Fresh flowers are great for special occasions, but there's no rule that you can't send a bouquet just to let someone know that you're thinking of them. 
  • Make a Meal. Picking up lunch for a friend who has been heads down on a big project or making a meal for a family with a new baby is so thoughtful. We were so appreciative of everyone who pitched in to make sure we were well fed during our first few weeks home with Henry, and I look forward to returning that favor. 
  • Be generous. This is a very generic statement, but I think about it in a few ways. You can be generous with your time- offer to help a friend finish their garden or paint their fence (not glamorous, but it's more fun with friends!). Or you can be generous with your money. If you see a bracelet that reminds you of a far-away friend, send it her way! See a candle that your sister would love? Pick it up!

It's so easy to get caught up in our own day-to-day lives and forget that our friends and family have big things going on too.  I'd love to hear other ideas for making someone's day a bit brighter!