Recession Mama











{August 30, 2009}   Don’t Wig Out In This Economy

Today’s guest post is from Jasmin Barnes of www.mywigstudio.com.  She is a woman who is determined to not let this economy get her down.  In fact, she started her own business with the idea that every woman deserves to look great…no matter what her circumstances are, whether they’re financial or physical.

Jasmin in a pink wig

Jasmin in a pink wig

By Jasmin Barnes

In this economy, you can’t afford to be unattractive, unproductive, unmotivated and unknown.  It is definitely not the time to sit in one corner, be a fly on the wall and be negative.  With all the bad news we hear from the papers, television and radio, it is not a surprise if you find yourself a little wigged out.

Jasmin & her sis in different wigs

Jasmin & her sis in different wigs

My story started one bad hair day.  I was feeling kind of bummed and just wanted to curl up in bed.  My husband asked me to go to a county fair with him. Hesitantly, I stood up, got dressed and went.  At the fair, I stumbled upon, of all things, this wig vendor.  So I stepped inside the booth and started to try on some pieces. The next thing you know, I bought my very first hairpiece!  I can still recall the feeling when I first put on that piece.  Not only I was amazed at the transformation, I was blown away by how convenient and cost effective it is to stay stylish and fashionable during a recession.  More importantly, it did put a smile on my face!  I wanted to share that fun and fresh feeling with others and introduce this new wave in accessorizing especially during these trying times.

Jasmin transforms her look

Jasmin transforms her look

A wig can transform your look in an instant!  As always, it is important not just to look good but to feel good about your self from within.   And in times like these, you can definitely still be beautiful, positive and be on top of your game.   As a woman, I know that how she feels inside reflects in everything else that she does.  Women these days are juggling different responsibilities from work and at home.  This can be very challenging and can make us easily forget ourselves.  I have 3 kids, a husband, a house, a career to take care of, and a business to run.    I don’t have time to spend fixing up my hair on a daily basis.  With a wig or a hairpiece, you can skip that daily ordeal of blow drying / styling your hair.  You no longer need to curl/ flat iron that often.  You won’t need to frequent the salon which saves you time and time is money.   Today, every second counts – every penny counts!  If you really think about it,  who has got time and money to go to the salon these days? A simple haircut, blow drying and styling (and don’t forget the tip) can leave your wallet dry.   You can use and re-use your hairpiece over and over again for parties, meetings, weddings, concerts!  Some of my clients even take theirs to a cruise!  I find these hair pieces as quick and cost-effective solutions to today’s very active demanding society and problematic economy.

One of Jasmin's wig parties

One of Jasmin's wig parties

My Wig Studio hosts wig parties every other month.    I would invite ladies to come to my studio and try on different styles, textures and colors.  Since I started the biz, I have had 3 successful events!  My customers are usually referrals from friends and family.  Since my products are very personal, I also provide private fittings and consultation at My Wig Studio or at the comforts of my client’s home.    During a recession, all businesses get affected one way or another, but what keeps me going are the emails and messages I get from my customers.  One email said “Thank you very much! You have no idea how you helped spiced up my relationship.” Another one said “I found my self esteem I lost a long time ago and I just love the way I look now.”  These positive reactions from ladies are very inspiring, something you can’t put a price tag on.

Wigs Galore!

Wigs Galore!

We cater to all sorts of people.  I would get calls from cancer patients under going chemo therapy, to entertainers, artists, photographers, and just plain fashionistas and everyday people like you and I who simply like to enhance and update their look.   A wig is no longer just for people with hair loss condition but it has now become part of our daily wardrobe.  However, we are proud to say that a portion of our sales goes to City of Hope’s Cancer Cure research program.  It is just like choosing that pair of shoes and that purse to match that outfit (or that mood for that matter) for the day!  What makes me excited everyday is the anticipation of meeting a new person and knowing her story.   Every lady has her own personality just like every wig has its own character.   When the two meet, I can see fireworks.  It is amazing to see how someone’s personality shines through whenever they put on a hairpiece!

We are all in this together.  Continue to shine, stand out, inspire and make a difference.  All we need is a little daily dose of creativity – so, don’t Wig out in this economy!



{August 28, 2009}   The Reinvention Continues…
–by Carla

As Heather embarks on her new, fabulash career as an interior designer and Katy gets ready to start working on her latest Hollywood hit TV show, I’m here in suburban Dallas, trying not to eff up dinner each night. And so, the reinvention of Carla the Career Radio News Anchor continues…

Yay, the stove's right behind me....mocking me...can you hear it?

Yay, the stove's right behind me....mocking me...can you hear it?

I have made a little headway in the kitchen, but not as much as I’d hoped by now. I mean, I was laid off 9 months ago. You’d think I’d have gotten the hang of being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) by now. But I was “baptized by fire” for this venture, so I try to cut myself a little slack every now and then. It’s not like I started out as a SAHM with my firstborn, then eased into baby #2. I woke up one day and was all of a sudden a SAHM of 2 baby boys…with zero experience.

This week, I did manage to cook a few dishes that didn’t end up crossed out on my “Can Cook This Again” list. I whipped up a chicken and rice casserole Sunday that was inspired by the one and only Campbell’s soup can. Yup, I got me some inspiration at the grocery store last week. I thought, “This looks pretty easy…even *I* can’t screw this one up”. And it was pretty ok. My next bit of inspiration came at the checkout line and one of those little books about “fun cooking for kids” or something. You know the ones…food that looks cute and fun and MAYbe, just maybe, your picky, doesn’t-want-to- ever-eat-anything-at-all, toddler will actually want to eat this stuff. So I then cooked up some chicken strips breaded in crushed corn chips and some other stuff. The breading didn’t even smell appealing to me, but whatever, if Toddler Boy eats it…then fine. I also made some Italian breading-coated chicken strips to go with the giant batch of pasta and sauce I’d made earlier (bc I’m up to HERE with chicken most days). If you’re following along (and I am not), that’s roughly 4 semi-successful meals in about 3 days. I also whipped up my always enjoyable Mexican Casserole which is a lot like what ya get at Chipotle…and even *I* can’t screw up that dish. I’ve made baby Dean several home-cooked meals in the Magic Bullet (bless you, PopPop and Granny for THAT Christmas gift)..and last night I cranked out perhaps the greatest banana bread I have ever cranked out. (For the record, baking does not freak me out like cooking does, for some weird reason)

Success!

…Not really. See, my palate is accustomed to a certain level of yum that my current culinary skills simply cannot deliver. That is a terrible feeling. Talk about champagne taste on a beer budget. It stinks when you’ve eaten at some of the tastiest places on earth, yet you are serving up stuff that a 3rd grader could cook.

It is nice, though, to cook things that my family will actually eat. My very favorite morning this week was when Donald ate my banana bread for breakfast and Dean had a few bites as well, along with his standard baby grub. My heart was huge with joy. Still is.

And lastly this week, in an attempt to save a little money …since I was accidentally poking the boys with my crazy, out of control nails…I hacked them off myself. A good old-fashioned “Recession Manicure”…

Wow, practical AND sexy

Wow, practical AND sexy

…and the tips of my fingers are STILL numb. TOO SHORT. Plus I sliced open the ring finger on my right hand the other day opening the knife drawer. In all, I had 1 bum thumb and 2 bum fingers on the same hand…all while trying to do all of this cooking …just this week. Not to mention the vacuuming, dusting, laundry, laundry, laundry, baby care (all of it), play dates, time-outs, and the who-knows-whats.

Most days I feel like all the other moms are doing a waaaay better job than me…and that I should be waaaay better in the kitchen that I am, that my house should be cleaner, that I should get out more often and host play dates more often and try to meet other moms more often and lose more of this baby weight …and so on, but I also know that I am doing the absolute best that I possibly can.

I also know that I am having the time of my life. A lot of people really don’t understand that, though. I mean, how can you be happy about having lost your nearly six figure income? Easy…

1624a

…I feel like pinching myself because I am living my dream. So what if my cooking stinks right now and money is tight. I’ll learn to cook. In fact, one of my awesome girlfriends …who is very awesome in the kitchen…is organizing cooking classes at her  home coming up soon. I can’t WAIT! (I’m sure I’m not alone on that one…)

…and yes, I do know that there are about 14 different fonts on here. My eyeballs are glazing over. I need a font czar.



{August 25, 2009}   Back To Square One

By Heather

Since I have no talent for drawing, let me start by creating a picture with words. I’m sitting in a classroom full of people (most of whom are half my age) trying to draw squares. Not just any kind of squares, but two-point perspectives from observed reality. (kinda like a 3-D square)

drafting table

We’re all perched on our stools, hovering over drafting tables and paper. Our T-squared rulers and triangles are lining up with our vanishing points, as we make light marks with our “HB” pencils. I manage to get the line on the drafting paper and I feel like shouting Ta-Dum! (but I don’t) Instead I silently congratulate myself on following the teacher’s instructions correctly.

I line up more angles and draw lines, but pretty soon my square looks  like a Rubik’s Cube. I feel like shouting &*%&! (but I don’t) Instead I comment to the girl on my left that my square looks like an iconic 80’s toy.

“You’re probably too young to remember Rubik’s Cubes.” I tell her.

“No I know about them. They’re  retro,” she says.

(Retro is a nice way of saying something is old, but still cool.)

http://www.rubiks.com/

Rubik’s Cube girl tries to help me as does the artist sitting to my right. But I’m like Lucille Ball at the chocolate factory. I can’t keep up with everyone else, so I just want to spew obscenities, scream and eat my drafting paper.

2 min 57 sec – Aug 4, 2006 –

_

Rated 4.9 out of 5.0

www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wp3m1vg06Q

Last week, I was so energized about starting another degree, feeling good about expanding my resume, possibly contributing to the family funds one day and reaching a goal. But now I feel deflated, because I LITERALLY CAN’T GET PAST SQUARE ONE.

I finally raise my hand and confess that I’m clueless and can’t  make this friggin’ square look right. The teacher is so nice a patient with me. I try again. But soon I’m frustrated… and distracted by a conversation between two classmates.

“Dude. He is so hot. Beautiful hot. Dude it’s weird how pretty he is.”

“I know. Where are we going to party Friday dude.”

“Dude. I don’t know.”

I’m trying to concentrate, but I seriously can’t stop wondering when 18-year-old girls started calling each other “dude.”

Back to the squares. Or rather me, the square.

I’ve always had a problem with following instructions. I listen, but I usually interpret them the wrong way. I’m just not wired right I suppose.

Case in point, my 5th grade book report. We were told to make shadow boxes using a scene from our book. I read the “Palomino Pony.” I put dirt in a boot box, put in real grass, tin foil for water and sawed a horse off of a trophy. I also made little bails of hay and spelled out “Palomino Pony” in yarn. I dragged my creation to school the next day feeling really proud. I just knew Mr. McCall would love it and give me an excellent grade! (Keep in mind this is the teacher who gave me licks in third grade over a book report.)

But praise and accolades were not to be had. Mr. McCall took one look at my shadow box and said “You’ll have to do this over. You didn’t do it right.”

Back to present day. My drafting paper has become such a mess that my instructor finally tells me to start over. But then she, plus Rubik’s cube girl and artist guy, guide me through it. I manage to get three squares done correctly. Just SIX more to go! grrrr..

“Dude. Where ARE we going to party Friday.”

“I don’t know dude, but your line is all screwed up.”

“I know dude. (laughing) #$%!”

Hmmm.. she took the words right out of my mouth.

architect tools

By the way… when class was over (four hours later)…about six or eight people were still working on the squares. The instructor told us that “creative people always have a hard time with drafting at first.” I hope this means I’m creative… and not just hopeless.

-Heather



By Katy

2009_07_fashionwalk

Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of extremely innovative ways in which people are making money in this recession.  To borrow from some writer at Vogue — (I am paraphrasing) — shopping has become, these days, not just a guilty pleasure…but just plain guilty.  Not so last week when some very innovative fashion peeps decided to host the first ever Fashion Walk!

Sorry this is so small!  It says "Designer Pop Up Stores."

Sorry this is so small! It says "Designer Pop Up Stores."

Hundreds of designers, some known, some not so known, showed their goods in “pop up stores.”  Downtown is seeing a renaissance, of sorts, but in this down economy, there are still plenty of empty storefronts.  For one night, last week, those empty storefronts and spaces were transformed into clothing stores that were open late into the night.  Fashionistas, or shall I say, Recessionistas, flocked into these spur-of-the-moment store openings to check out deals, innovative designs, meet designers, and shop…totally without any guilt!  How can you feel guilty about buying designer clothes at 70% off, and help new and struggling ones, at the same time?

Fiance and I caught on camera

Fiance and I caught on camera

The fiance and I were caught on camera for a website called Racked LA.  You can check out bigger photos on that site.  For their own protection, I guess, I can’t make these photos any larger.  We walked into a couple of different “storefronts.”  At one giant loft space, I got two C&C California shirts (one for $3 and one for $5) and two Rock & Republic silk chiffon shirt dresses for $25 each!  They were all made right here in the USA!  And they retailed for a lot more.  And even if I had not scored with such great finds, it would’ve been a totally fun and free night out!  Some of the clothes looked more like art and some of the “stores” looked more like installations.  DJ’s spinned at some locales, while others brought in live musicians.  Bringing clothes to the masses, instead of relying on a high end department store to sell your clothes, is, to me, a pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that has made America what it is today.  The recession is not going to rock us.  We are going to rock this recession.



{August 23, 2009}   Mother of reInvention

From Heather

George Eliot once said  “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

Just think about that for a moment. It is never too late to be what you might have been. Most of us spend a lot of time talking about the “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” moments of our lives. But why not turn that into “I did, I can, I showed ’em.”

Today’s guest blogger, Tammy Jo, embodies that very philosophy. She’s re-invented herself many, many times. I’m sure she’ll never stop. When life throws her a curve ball, she just changes her approach and knocks it out of the ballpark. I think we all can learn something from her. So pay attention mamas and papas!

PARIS

 

       

   By Tammy Jo

    In the last year, around 5.9 million Americans have lost their jobs.  Have you?  Or do you still work but just have no job satisfaction?  If you answered “yes” to either question, have I got an idea for you!  No, this is not an advertisement for a “make millions by stuffing envelopes at home” scheme.  This is a chance to reinvent yourself. You may ask, “How? Why?” 

     The “how” is easy.  There is no better time since the GI Bill after World War II to get government money for education. The government has a stash of cash in financial aid for students.  Even if you do not think you qualify, apply. Whether you have quit, been laid off, down-sized, suffered a redundancy, or just plain fired from a job, learn how to recession-proof yourself or at least make yourself more marketable. It is not just reinvention, it is reinvesting. 

Whatever money you use to learn a new skill, trade or career, the money is well spent.  Instead of spending $500 on a handbag, take some classes.  Whatever it takes to make yourself more marketable — do it. 

The “why” may not be as easy as the “how.” Maybe you are in a dying industry. Maybe you need to learn something new or improve a skill to stay current. Maybe you have been dreaming of doing (fill in the blank) and never had the time.  Or maybe you just think you are too old to do anything different.  Get over yourself! Even a very old dog can  learn a new trick! 

goals

 Walk with me down memory lane.  For about 10 years, I had been working in marketing and promotions in the entertainment industry.  Ah, the stories I could tell you!  But I digress.   Eventually, I inched my way up the pay scale until I was earning high 5 figures but I realized that as a corporate marketing employee, my department would always be one of the first on the chopping block, and I would never be the master of my own destiny.  Then about 8 years ago, my husband was transferred to a new city and I did not have a job.  That’s when I decided to go to law school.  It would be a career for a lifetime, not just a job. With one license, I could practice anywhere in Texas and I could always work — even if it was for myself.   And so, at 33, I went to law school.  It was a sacrifice to live on one income for 3 years but it was worth it. I have been practicing law now for several years. But the story does not end there. 

            After having 2 children, I realized that working in a law firm and being a slave to billable hours did not give me the flexibility I needed to participate in my children’s school activities.  I wanted to be “there” for my kids, wherever “there” was. I decided to become an elementary school teacher at a private school.  The pay would be less but I would get a tuition discount which would make up the difference.  The best part was that I would be on the same schedule as my kids. Plus, there is something very rewarding about shaping young minds.  So, at the ripe old age of 40, I enrolled in an alternative teacher certification program and after 6 weeks of learning classroom management, obtaining state-mandated observations hours and passing the EC-4 content exam, I became “Highly Qualified” (according to the federal “No Child Left Behind Act”) to teach Pre-K through 4th grade.  I now have two recession-proof careers – theoretically speaking. 

            But I’m not the only one who has reinvented themselves.  Lots of people are doing it everyday.  My best friend decided to become a licensed Interior Designer after countless years in broadcast journalism.  Rather than become a casualty in a dying industry, she goes to school with people half her age but is doing something that is fulfilling a dream.  Another friend left a lucrative job in sales to pursue a dream of being a writer.  She completely downsized her life and barely made ends meet, but she eventually co-authored a published book, edited a magazine, and has opened her own public relations agency. 

            If you have some down time on your hands these days, how will you use it? Will you embrace it as a learning experience and a chance to fulfill a dream or interest? Or will you continue down your path of complaints and complacency?  There is no better time than the present to reassess, reinvent and reinvest in yourself. Go ahead you deserve it!

-Tammy Jo

ladder

 

         



{August 21, 2009}   So It’s Over?
—by Carla
 

I’ve had two sniffling, sneezing, dribbling, kiddos to care for this week. Summer cold. Not a big deal, really. No fever, no puking (thank you, puke gods!), just regular old runny/stuffy noses, sneezing (followed by fake sneezing) and coughing (followed by fake coughing). Hey, when you’re 2 and 1/2 and  9 month old boys, these are things that are worth copying. Plus I did get called to fill-in on the anchor desk at WBAP 820AM (Fort Worth/Dallas) on Tuesday, so that was fun. It was fun and refreshing, but it has set me back an entire week. Waking up at 2am is simply not normal. Being at work at 3am is just plain nuts. (I worked that shift for 6 solid years before I was laid off from that other place and it was never this tough. Of course, I didn’t have 2 babies back then, either. Just 1 and that was tough enough.) 

Anyway, I was starting to worry that I was really backed up on my “other” work for the week like laundry, vacuuming, dusting (HA!), laundry, mopping (don’t even get me started on that stupid chore), blogging, emailing, facebooking, tweezing, plucking…you get the idea. Oh plus the husband was off all week, which is like cleaning up after yet another kid. Sheesh. I’m backed up!

But (and my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek here, incaseyouwerentfollowingalong) I was SO relieved when I heard the news this week that the recession is over.

the end 

Yippee! It’s over!!!

So let’s go out there and party our little rear ends off this weekend, ok?

That bit of news probably means very little to most of us, but it is good for a little laugh.

The “experts” didn’t officially declare that we were IN a recession until we were well into it, so news of its “end” actually did nothing to change my day-to-day life. How ’bout you?

Happy Friday y’all.



{August 18, 2009}   When Life Hands You Lemons…

By Heather

 I know, I know. You’ve heard this  a million times. “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”

CB055584

I’ve always thought it was a little too cutesy and slightly corny. But I re-evaluated it this weekend when my kids put up their first lemonade stand. (Every child has to have a lemonade stand in the summer. It’s just a rite of passage.)

 We made the lemonade, created signs and set up the stand in front of our house. Then we waited… and waited… and waited for customers. Finally a few strangers stopped their cars and bought some of our brew. We shut down about 45 minutes later after making enough money to buy a new toy.

“Mommy. We need to pick a better spot next time.” My son decided.

“We’re going to do it at “MoMo’s”  (restaurant) because people like to eat there.”

Five-years-old and already an entrepenuer. But really he was turning lemons into lemonade.

 I’ve heard this lemon phrase a lot since the economy turned sour. President Obama says the recession is slowing down. Maybe so. But I still think people will be waiting a long time for the sweet life to return.

This recession has also made many Americans re-evaluated their careers. As you’ve read on “Recession Mama” we’ve seen far too many of our journalist friends end up on the chopping block. Those still standing are worried they’ll be laid off next.

So what’s a true “Recession Mama” to do when facing this situation? MAKE LEMONADE. The sticky part, however, is actually making it.

Last week, I FINALLY enrolled in a program for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design. I’ve been flirting with the idea for two years. But I’ve been waiting for the right time.

I was feeling pretty great until my college transcript arrived. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (long time ago), so I thought many of my credits would carry over. No need to worry. Right?

I handed the transcript over to my admissions advisor. There before her were all of my academic successes and failures. One semester included four “A’s” and a “D.”

“Hmmm… You’ll have to take a math entrance exam.” The advisor told me.

“Math?”

“You made a “D” in it the first time around. You’ll have to take it again.”

LEMONS! DAMN THOSE LEMONS!

A little history here. Math and I don’t get along. I’ve always struggled with it and at some point I just tuned out. That includes college when I showed up for class and discovered we were taking a test. Much of it centered around the number of cards in a deck. I’m not proud to admit it, but I didn’t know there were 52. LEMONS!

The past has bit me in the “you-know-what.” So over the past few days I’ve been cramming years and years of math into my out-of-shape brain. I haven’t studied or taken a test in 13 years. I haven’t seen Algebra in nearly 20.  To me…  xy= “I have a headache.”

I took the test on Tuesday after two intense study sessions with a tutor and a few days of skimming the book by former “Wonder Years” actress Danica McKellar. Her New York Bestseller is titled  “Math Doesn’t Suck.” (Who knew that “Winnie” Cooper could explain math so well. But she does.) Check her out @ http://www.danicamckellar.com/

I do not look this good doing math

 

 

I do not look this good doing math

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big drum roll here… I missed passing  the test by 2 points. LEMONS!!

I felt like a complete loser. My enemy, math, the victor again. But my attitude changed after eating a large, warm chocolate chip cookie and nearly slipping into sugar coma.

I thought… that’s not too bad for an old math-a-phobe. Two days of intense study on a subject that you’ve avoided your whole life. Not too shabby.

So I was short just a few points. Big deal. It is what it is. All I can do now is study.

I get one more try to take the test and I have to do it by Friday. If I pass, I will only have to take one math class, instead of three.

Obviously, I want to pass. But it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. I’ll just get a tutor, study, work hard and finally face my math demons.

Either way… I’ll end up with lemonade. (I just might add a splash of vodka every now and then)

lemonade



By Katy

A lot has happened this last week in the world — one of the worst typhoons in my native Taiwan’s history, hurricanes near Florida, North Korea releasing journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee… and while my fellow recession mamas were mourning the lay-offs of two veteran journalists, I was wrestling and wasting trivial thoughts on…clothes and shopping.

As a little girl, I loved shopping for back to school clothes.  When I turned 15, the ginormous annual September issue of Vogue would serve as my inspirational fashion bible.

Charlize Theron graces Sept 09 cover

Charlize Theron graces Sept 09 cover

I would earmark pages, memorize the new fall colors, and clip out anything I deemed to be too good to stay in the actual magazine.  Now, mind you, I grew up in Texas where most people think big hair is still synonymous with beauty.  But to me, Dallas is home to Neiman-Marcus, the most elegant department store in the world, well at least to my young, impressionable mind.

My obsession for style also came from my beautiful and fashionable mother.  She had a wardrobe that I had hoped to blossom into one day. (I later realized that although I love her style…I had my own distinct fashion sense.) My mother was also a champion shopper.  Not only could she negotiate anything with anybody, she also had exquisite taste.  Just by touch and sight, she can tell you where a particular dress was made and the exact fabrics used to make it.  Such a gift!

barneyssale

Well, last week, Barney’s held its semi-annual warehouse sale in my neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles.  This is a big deal because for the first time in its history, this venerable sales event came East!  The store in Los Angeles is in Beverly Hills, of course, and its annual warehouse sale was always, as far as I remember, held at a hangar at the Santa Monica airport.  And this year, I could actually walk to the warehouse sale, and that’s exactly what I did!  First day of the sale…I walked, OK practically skipped, the 12 or so blocks from my loft in the fashion district all the way to the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Once I got there, I started at the beginning.  I had all day, you see, so I really took my time.  I perused every rack, starting in the couture sections and found a delicious plum colored Prada cashmere v-neck sweater, a Dolce tan and black lingerie top, a Stella McCartney tan pencil skirt to match, and a colorful Pucci maxi dress.  I then scanned the tables for a pair of James Jeans in my size and made sure I didn’t need any of the shoes that were displayed in disarray.  If you’ve ever been to a sample sale, you’ll know what comes next.  I staked out a rack next to a full-length mirror.  I put all of my clothes on one side, and I started trying on everything over my thin t-shirt and shorts.  What didn’t fit or didn’t look right got discarded to the other side of the rack.  What I ended up with was the plum-colored Prada and the jeans.  I made a quick decision to discard the jeans.  I have a lot of designer jeans, and this one needed hemming.  I don’t have the time nor the money to hem jeans at this point.  Now, what to do about the Prada sweater?  It would go with everything!  It fit me like a glove.  It was so well made in Italy.  And isn’t purple THE color for this Fall?  Then, I looked the price tag.  Originally, the sweater costs $895.  It was on sale for $250.  Now, that’s quite a mark-down, and in better times…I would never have even hesitated.  But I did.  I thought about how many cashmere sweaters I’ve seen at J Crew or Banana Republic that were not even $250 at the regular price.  Why was I going to buy a sweater for $250?  Was it just because it was Prada?  That didn’t make any sense.  I’m not a label-whore.  I like clothes that are well made and that will last and not go out of style…so this did fit into those categories.  But $250 for a sweater?  In this recession?  No, thank you.  So I put everything back, and I walked out into the sunshine and bought myself a fat-free yogurt instead.

Now the story does not end there.

This week, my mom and I went to the Carolina Herrera Bridal Sample Sale.  Everything was marked down 30%-70%.  We didn’t find anything we loved, so we went to…where else?  Neiman’s in Beverly Hills.  While there, my mom found a Chanel bag she really, really liked.  I also thought it fit her perfectly.  It was $2870, and although I think that’s outrageous for a handbag, she told me that it was quite reasonable.  She checked out this bag for what seemed to be hours!  She dumped all of her personal belongings from her current Chanel bag to the new one.  She walked around with it.  She was on the verge of buying it.  And then, something miraculous happened.  After finding out that we were from Taiwan, the sales lady told us how sorry she was to hear about the typhoon and the deaths.  My mom said, “Oh I think that’s the very reason why I should not buy this purse.  It wouldn’t be right.”  She put the bag on hold (just in case, I guess), and we walked out without buying anything at all.

I also spent some time this week with a dear friend of mine.  She also loved to shop, and she was also great at finding deals.  And she told me, “This recession was the best thing to have happened to people like us.  Before this recession, we never thought something like this could happen.”  Oh so true.  Now, we think twice before buying something nice.  OK a bit corny, but I’ve been watching “Mad Men,” so give me a break if some of the 1950’s corn-ball sensibility rubbed off on me.  And yes, I’m completely obsessed with the clothes on this brilliant TV series!



{August 16, 2009}   GUEST POST: Your Personal Brand

Katy sez:  Today’s guest post comes from Stefanie.  She writes a great blog called “Awesome and Unemployed.” There’s a lot of great career advice on there on how to stand out among the hundreds of other job candidates these days.  She relates to what we may all be going through, as she says, “I graduated without a job, applied to 50+ different companies and temp agencies, only to get rejected every single time.”  Presently, Stefanie’s worked in career development and HR for a major company. (hint:  google her)  Today, she reminds us how to remain professional in our online social networks.

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I got this awesome lead from my friend, Matt.  Thank you, Matt, for your pearls of wisdom.

Let’s talk about this for a minute.  Please raise your hand if you are a Facebook junkie.  Myspace junky?  Manage a blog?  Interact in ANY WAY on a social media platform?  Then see example A above.

As you reach out to different people across a social networking platform, you build a perception of who you are as a human being and as a potential employee.  Who are you as a potential employee?  By hiring YOU, the company is making a statement about their brand and employee values.  So really, who are you in this interconnected world wide web?

Let’s talk about who you’re NOT.

You’re not the person that whines about their lame job on Facebook.  When you’re young, your job is going to be a shit job.  It’s a right of passage.  Patience and hard work, though, earns you open doors to more challenging projects and responsibilities.  Meaningful work must be earned.  It’s rarely handed out at the get go.

You’re not the person that brags about what a joke the interview was on your personal blog.  I knew a person in college that had a consulting offer rescinded because he bragged on his personal blog that the interview was a joke.  Not so funny without the job offer!

You’re not the person with the obscene “haha funny” photos up on his MySpace.  Really, that photo of you rubbing your nipple?  Hilarious at the party, but not so hot when your potential employer comes across it in a “tagged” photo search.

You’re probably thinking “What the hell, dude.”  Why are employers searching through my personal stuff?  Here’s the honest truth.

There’s a really fine line between private and public on the Internet.  Unless you explicitly make your profile private, anyone can view your business.  Including a potential employer.

And what the heck?  Why do employers even care?  They are all people and do crazy things, too!  They care because you represent them.  It’s very hard to command the respect of a client, your manager, or even your peers, when they know all your business behind between 5pm – 8am.  Just because you are a good person does not erase the fact that you passed out on the sidewalk that one Saturday night.  Just make sure that you protect yourself, your photos, and your personal brand.

So let’s talk about who you are/could be online.

You are the person that is professional, but human.  You do have friends.  You do have family.  You do have interests and a life outside of work.  But, from what anyone can see, it’s appropriate.  You are someone that is a whole person and you can bring this whole person in as an asset for connecting with clients, peers, superiors.

You are well-rounded.  In addition to being serious about work, you’re also serious about… oh, sailing.  Or Comic-con.  Or Travel books and wine.  You have passions that enhance your intellectual value and add character to you.  For example, my geeky passion is Harry Potter.  And if anyone asks me, I can recall alternate endings, interviews and speeches by JK Rowling, and I can even tell you about the time I ended up on Jimmy Kimmel during the launch of the 6th book.  People will always remember that quirk about me.

You are someone that they would enjoy working with.  You might be strong willed, witty, or completely easy going, but either way, you’re someone that they could discuss ideas with and work well with.  You’re positive, you’re motivated, you’re smart.

Now, the formula for the right person is always going to differ by company.  But the good news is that there is a company for you.  There’s one that will have other employees that enjoy your blogs about sea otters or waterfall jumping.  How about your tweets about your awesome Barista at Starbucks?  Status updates about your amazing lunch?  Clearly, you can still be you, just publicly appropriate.

So what do you want to tell the world about who you are?  It’s time to get updating!  Start defining your personal brand on the Internet.



{August 14, 2009}   Oh Happy Weekend!

–by Carla

It’s been alooooong week. Toddler Boy is smack dab in the middle of the Terrible Two’s. I’m this close to throwing in the towel. You win, sweet boy. Watch as much TV as you wish, eat whatever (or how little) you want, sit in your dirty diaper all day and never nap again. You win. And now they BOTH have tiny, little, not-very-cute, matching colds.  

Anyhoooooooooooooooo, like I said, it’s been a long week.

It’s also been just over one week since the most shocking round of layoffs in Dallas/Fort Worth media I can personally recall, with Brad Barton and Mark Watkins being let go from CBS news/talk radio station KRLD 1080AM (from where I was let go back in December).

As you know from my previous posts, I’m close with Mark and Brad (I had the great honor to have anchored alongside both), and Brad and his family are close personal friends of mine and my family. In fact, we’re getting together tonight for coffee and dessert…our first real chance to sit down and talk since his layoff. Brad and Brenda were here at the house within a week of my layoff….something for which I am eternally grateful.

The upside of being laid off: You have heaps of time to get together with friends and family and reconnect with people. I’ve met more of my neighbors in the past 8 months than I had in the almost 6 years we’ve been here. And most of THEM have been laid off, too.

How crazy is that!?



et cetera