Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trunk Show Pictures by JJ Horton Photography

If you remember from my postings here, here, and here, I hosted the Laura Grove Designs Trunk Show at Monkees of Charlotte on Saturday, April 18th. The two hours flew by. I felt like I had just arrived when we were packing up the pieces to leave. In case you missed the fun, Jessica, from JJ Horton Photography, was there to capture every moment. We've worked together before (here and here) and I LOVE her work. I was at the event, it was beautiful, but her pictures are stunning. I love the natural light and bright colors she captured so perfectly. Check out the pictures below! 

Thank you to everyone who came to show their support and shop! It was a lovely afternoon. 



Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What to Wear Wedding Season

Wedding season is upon us. I've had a few friends reach out and ask for advice about what to wear to the various blissful events so I thought I would do a post highlighting some of my current finds. This year, I have zero weddings on the horizon, but last year I had a five so I did a few posts about what I wore here, here, and here. I purchased all of those dresses on sale so I am hopeful that some of these will go on sale too... even if you don't have weddings, some of these would make great closet additions! 

Under $100

Navy Maxi (sale)

Under $300

Navy Maxi ($106)

Under $500

Emerald Racerback (can I pull off Emerald?) 

I'm clearly into the pink trend this year. I prefer to purchase solids over patters, I feel like they are more timeless. Any of these options would go with nude wedges, gold sandals, the options are endless. 



Monday, April 20, 2015

Managing the Inbox

As someone who can easily feel overwhelmed, I had to develop strategies for myself to effectively manage the inbox without losing my sanity. With the ease of accessibility of email, I found that I was reading emails on my phone, then again at work/home on my laptop, then again when I decided to construct a response. I started to think about all of the time I was dedicating to re-reading each email. This turned into thinning about time each day, week, years of my life on emails. When I look on someone's email or phone and see 999+ unread emails, I literally get nauseas. I understand not everyone is this easily upset by emails but in case you happen to be battling this never-ending influx of emails yourself, I thought I would share some of my tips on how I prefer to manage my inbox. 

Email folders are my life savers. For both my work and personal emails, I have folders to sort emails into. For example, in my personal inbox I have folders titled College Program, Blog, Running, Travel, Apartment, Weddings, Finances, and more. After reading an email or exchanging a thread, I sort the email into the appropriate folder. 

For example, if I sign up for a half marathon with my mom, I don't want to keep the registration email in my inbox (signaling to me "to do") for a few months so I sort it into the "Running" folder and when the race approaches, I an easily find my registration information. When I was in multiple weddings last year, I didn't want to keep the brides' emails with detailed wedding information in my inbox, so I sorted them into the "Weddings" folder. If a student or their parents sends me an email, I place it into "College Program" so I can reference it later. If I book a flight or reserve a hotel room for an upcoming trip, I place that into "Travel" so that it's not lingering in my inbox. 

I use the same process at work. Each client has their own folder which makes referencing prior emails a lot easier. After I respond (if needed), I place the email into that client folder on my inbox and it's out of sight, out of mind, which equals less anxiety for me. 

Reading When You Plan to Respond
This is a trick I have recently mastered. I found that I would sit there, read through all of my emails, then go back reread and respond, while simultaneously reading emails as they come in, only to reread and respond to those emails again later. Whew. It can be exhausting. 

After reading an article about the time it takes to redirect your focus, I started to think about how much time I was wasting by looking at emails as they came in addition to trying to complete whatever project I was currently working on. I don't remember the article specifically, but I think it mentioned something like eight minutes for your brain to redirect it's attention after it's been distracted. 

Therefore, when I read an email, if a response is necessary, I automatically respond. If I know I am not available to respond, then I won't read the email. Often times, my emails do not require lengthy, well written responses, so I feel like it's something I can manage with ease. If I am working on something where I know distraction will slow me down, I simply ignore those emails (as they come in) and check the inbox every 20- 30 minutes. In the grand scheme of life, there are few emails that will be truly detremintal if I don't read it for 20 minutes. If it is a true emergency, you will find a way to contact to me (phone being the number one suggestion.) 

I have recently been introduced to rules within an inbox. Oh my! This is a good one. At work, I receive an email every time someone applies for one of my positions on LinkedIn. This can be majorly distracting. For popular positions, I have received over 300 applications. That is 300 emails, constantly flowing in to my inbox for a position that sometimes, already has a full candidate pipeline. I  made a rule that all emails with the LinkedIn application title, are automatically redirected to their own folder. So now, I am able to look at this group of emails when I chose and not be distracted by their overflowing arrival in my inbox. (In all seriousness, it can feel like this. Just not as exciting as getting accepted to Hogwarts.)  

I aso thought I would share some of my email pet peeves. Because, I am sure you were all dying to know. 

Unnecessarily Using High Importance
As I stated previously, if something is detrimental, there are other ways to contact me. A high importance email may not be the most effective way to go and it's certainly not the appropriate unless other forms of communication have been tried. 

For example, I may use high importance when a candidate's interview location has been changed and I have already called, texted, and sent them a regular email with response. Then, I may try to use the high importance. 

Ineffective Subject Lines
A lot of times, when I start reviewing emails to respond, I will decide based on subject line and anticipated content of the email instead of time in which it was received. So people better know what to read when receiving your email, put thought into an appropriate subject line. I also find it useful to put in the subject line if an action is requested. For example, if I am trying to schedule an interview with a candidate, I will title the email "<Action Requested> ABC Interview Availability" but if we have already scheduled the interview and it's the interview confirmation, I will title the email "ABC Interview Confirmation." I find that identifying action in a title, results in a quicker response time. 

Misusage of Reply All
Back in my days of teaching, the superintendent had sent an email to all CMS employees that unintentionally still allowed the "Reply All" feature. Employees across the district spent the afternoon responding "YAY!" "Woo Hoo" and my favorite reply all "Stop replying all" followed by the even better "you are replying all when you say stop replying all" and it goes on forever. If your response is not needed by all who were included on the email, only respond to those who need it. Save everyone the inbox headache of reading your "Ok." 

With today's modern email advances, I rarely find that someone does not receive an email when I send it to them. I find the "Ok" "Got it" "Noted" etc. status update to be redundant. If I wanted a confirmation that you had read my email, I would have asked for it. 

The Nonessential Copy 
In all honesty, I don't understand the value in the "CC" or it's close relative "BCC." Let's start with the copy. If I want someone to be included on a message, I would include them in the "To" and address them in the email instead of copying them on an email between me and someone else. If the message does not require action from them or they did not ask to be included, then I don't see why they need to be included in the email at all. And why do we need to blind copy someone? I often feel like it's deceitful when you want the BCC person to know you included them on the email, but not the sender. Let's practice transparency and say hey, look who is also reading this email because we all know emails can easily be printed and shared so I don't understand the need for the lack in authenticity. I feel like it was created to be a deceitful enabler and potential problem causer. 

Wow, this post ended up being much longer than I intended. I guess I need to work on my brevity. What are your email tips? Does it annoy you as much as it does me or are you one of those carefree souls with inbox 999+ without an ounce of anxiety? 



Friday, April 17, 2015

Laura Grove Gold Arrow Necklace

In preparation for tomorrow's event, I saved my favorite Laura Grove piece for last. This gold plated arrow necklace is beautiful and perfect for layering or wearing solo. I know I've talked about it here and here but if you're in Charlotte, you should definitely be at Monkees from 4 -6 PM on Saturday. Can't wait to see you there. Happy weekend!

Necklace/ Laura Grove Design
Gold plated arrow on a 14k gold plated chain with intricate wire wrapped crystals. 

Outfit/ Monkees of Charlotte
Joy Joy White Top 
Spendid Gold Gladiator Sandals 

Photography/ Jeff Bromfield 



Thursday, April 16, 2015

San Francisco

This past weekend was my third trip to San Francisco and I guess... third time's the charm. I had been previously in 2010 for a day and did all of the touristy things before going to camp with FeelGood and I stopped for an evening this past fall after my weekend in Napa. In my mind, I had done San Francisco and liked it but it wasn't a city I was overly in love with or anything. This trip changed it all. 

One of my best friends, Geales, moved to SF this past fall and it had been killing me to have gone so long without seeing her (plus the three hour time difference and my early bed time does't allow for many opportunities to connect!) In preparation for the trip, I had kind of forgotten about the city I was visiting as I was looking forward to spending so much time with my friend! Oh what a friendassance we had. It's so rare these days that I get to spend so much time with one of my closest friends so I really enjoyed just being present but we did so many fun things, ate incredibly well, all in addition to watching countless episodes of Friends. 

Friday morning I had the most delightful pleasure of having breakfast with the FeelGood World Staff. I joined FeelGood my freshman year of college (fall 2007) so it's really crazy how this group has grown and how each of them have played a significant part of my life. Their energy is contagious and I was so excited that even some of the out of town staff was surprisingly in town. I feel like so much of who I am as an individual was shaped by FeelGood and I love having these people in my life and enjoyed my precious time with them. 

Following breakfast, Geales and I ventured to the Google SF office. It really is a wonderland. Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies. Gourmet Lunch. Fro-yo. Cafes. Candy. Amazing Views. Trendiness. I'm sure my wide eyes of awe fit right in to the Googliness. 

After Google, we strolled SF for a total of over nine miles walked that day. (Shout out to Geales's Jawbone for counting our steps!) It was so beautiful and I was too busy catching up with my friend, that I barely noticed the distance. 

I was pretty exhausted from all of the travel and adventures of the day so that night we had grilled cheeses for dinner and then of course, topped it off with ice cream. (Chocolate sea salt may be my new favorite flavor.) 

Saturday, we woke up, brunched, and ventured the Muir Woods. We did a combination trail that included coastal views and forestry. 

I fit right in to the wilderness. 

This looks a lot less dangerous than it was. 

After the hike, we stopped in Mill Valley to refuel with some delicious gelato. 

I then had the brilliant idea of wanting to touch the Pacific Ocean. Don't. It was so windy, the sand felt like needles along the walk to the ocean and then the water was freezing. I had every intention of dipping my toes into the Pacific and decided my pinky was enough for a quick picture before quickly returning to the car. 

Sunday, we grabbed some delicious donuts and then I tried the SF must of Philz Coffee by ordering a hot chocolate. 

Spotted my first peonies of the season that were $6.95 per stem. Sadly, I just admired. 

Ventured over to visit the Painted Ladies. 

I had to. 

Seriously, can I please move in? I am sure this place is really affordable. 

The finale. Sift Dessert Bar. We were casually strolling along the street when we saw this pink painted shop with the words "frosting obsessed" as part of the logo. We decided this was a must try and ventured in. Now, I know cupcake shops are about as common as fro-yo places and while I do enjoy a good cupcake, it is rare that I am in awe of deliciousness. This place, changed it all. Now, I am still loyal to my one true b'day cake truffle love at Momofuku, but these cupcakes were a taste of heaven. First, my eyes spotted the rainbow sugar cookie sammie, then it darted to the flavor of the month, Spinkle Me Pink, then, it went to the Raspberry Champagne flavor, Berry Cheesecake, Stud Muffin, and well my senses were in overload. A little pink, sweetness, and sparkle and I easily fall in love. We couldn't decide, so we got a variety of treats to try and share together. It's been a few days and it's still all I can think about. I even looked up how to order the treats online for this weekend, but sadly, I did not place my order in time. Next week. 

Seriously, perfection. 

Oh SF, you were absolutely wonderful. I learned a few other things during my trip such as how to properly sort trash, compost, and all of my recyclables and that I consume an excessive amount of water for a city in a drought and that purchasing a giant bottle of Smart water to carry around with me may not be the best way to blend in with the environmentally friendly SF crowd. 

So thankful for such a wonderful extended weekend with the most lovely hostess. Now, how long until I earn enough sky miles to go back?