Friday, 31 December 2010

Music to my ears

For the past few days, my friends have kept on shooting me ideas for my new blog post. Seems that it almost comes up in every conversation... We talk about something and then I hear : "N. you should write about that!" Some are really good ideas and ones that I will def develop in the future, but as I went to bed last night, I thought of music. How music brings everyone together, how music can set a tone, can change a mood, can make you discover, can make you relate. So I said to myself, what better way to end the year, then to talk a little about music. So I have decided to add this section to my blog - a musical section and every couple weeks I will introduce you to an artist I adore. In the past year, 2 of my friends have been my musical gurus who have taught me so much about new artists and how to appreciate the music at a deeper level. One of my friends is very much into lyrics, usually, the song isn't good if the lyrics aren't and for the other, he's more into the musical talent behind the song, the guitar rifts mostly. Needless to say, I learned a lot from both of them and now I'm able to show you some of the artists that have stuck in my mind.


So, I am not sure if you know or don't know the artists I will be talking to you about, but I will try to develop on the ones I don't think are known by the masses. So don't expect any Lady Gaga, Chris Brown, Michael Buble stuff (as much as these artists do have talent).  My goal is to make you discover something new.


Without further a due, the first artist in my REVIEW THE ARTIST section of my blog is RAY LAMONTAGNE!


Do you know him? Maybe? Heard his name before?


His voice makes me melt. Really. It's raw, it's beautiful and full of emotion. He has released 2 recent records - God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise and Live Fall 2010 (that can be purchased on ITunes).
Sadly he has no tour dates coming up in Montreal or anywhere in North America for a while.


If you want to listen to his tunes, I suggest using Grooveshark, just type in his name and discover away!


Here are a few of my favorite Ray tunes - Beg, Steal and Borrow was nominated for a Grammy as song of the year. (It's not one of my favorites, but since it's better known, I think that's where we should start)





My Favorite...






So let me know what you think! Do you like the artist? Do you already know Ray but prefer another song? Share your thoughts, I would love to hear what you got to say!


HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!! And maybe as your new years resolution you can decide to discover more amazing musical artists!


N.

Monday, 27 December 2010

I got socks for Christmas

Merry Belated Christmas Everyone! Hope you all spent some good quality time with friends and family... I'm sure the drunken family gatherings with a side game of limbo or taboo were priceless. I also would like to express my most sincere sympathies to you if you chose Aunt Lucy's Christmas socks in your yearly gift exchange. But listen, christmas socks are always so perfect when you have no more socks left in your drawer or the perfect pair to use when you are just chilling at home. If you don't wear Christmas socks, you can use them to put on your own play version of Sock Scrooge - they might be perfect for the ghost of Christmas past. I'm thinking that you probably resorted to Dad's special cabinet selections - I hear a great Triple Sec martini makes all your weird family seem normal. I must say, when Auntie Suzie just can't get over how BIG you have gotten and your young cousins don't understand the concept of socialization and leave you stuck on that floral love seat between smelly Uncle John and crazy Aunt Thomas (yes I said Aunt Thomas..), the idea of that martini just seems like the best solution to get through those times. Then again you might be stuck with the most awesome siblings, inside jokes, and violent games of Apples to Apples, sipping some vino, eating industrial quantities of cheese and crackers and leftover turkey - and your holiday season could last a lifetime. Well then good for you! We all have our ways of celebrating and making the best of this time. I hope for you that you did make the best of it, whatever cards you were dealt.

So my little words of wisdom, if you are still celebrating with your crazy family, try to find the positive in it. This is the best time to be a chameleon and try to get along with even the weird ones. You can even refer back to my "How to be interesting" post if you don't know what to talk to them about. It's the time to make an effort to know the ones you have neglected. I even suggest spending one on one time with your grandparents (if they are still around). Life is so short and you never want to have any regrets. Happy Holidays!!!

N.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Livin' the urban life

Glory years. When were your glory years? Mine I would have to say were CEGEP and probably my last year of university - I abused the Diable Vert! But CEGEP was great! I left an all-girls school and was thrown into a world with BOYS! Luckily, I had already encountered that specy thanks to my friend V. who brought me to all her high school parties. However, in CEGEP I met a whole bunch of new ones with whom I still keep in contact to this day. One of those boys, is entrepreneur and web pro, Jean-Claude Renaud, who runs VIEURBAINE.COM.  VIEURBAINE.COM launched YESTERDAY in Montreal! I met JC at l'Assomoir on Notre-Dame in Old Montreal for a friendly meeting/interview. This guy is brilliant and his advice for my blog was amazing! But I wanted to know more about VieUrbaine, where did this idea come from, why this business, and exactly Who is Jean-Claude Renaud?

Mr Renaud


N. What exactly is VieUrbaine.Com?

VieUrbaine.com is mainly a website that offers special discounts on all sorts of "urban" locations in and around Montreal. I want to offer my members opportunities to go out and discover their city. TV is overrated you know. We want you to get out and enjoy your city. We'll give you a suggestion. I'm saying: "Look, I have this great deal at L'Assomoir, you buy this deal for $19 and you get $45 worth of food!", here is an opportunity to go out and enjoy your city. I'm making it less expensive and giving you ideas on what to do. VieUrbaine.com follows the "group buying" concept, when many people buy the same item, you can offer a discount for that item because you have guaranteed purchases. We offer deals on restaurants, spas, concerts and other various activities.

N. What gave you the idea to start this company?

JC. I used to work in the clothing business for a clothing store and realized that when we wanted to develop an online stores, the opportunities in e-commerce were much larger than just online stores. It started with Flash Sales which is like BeyondTheRack.com and then I saw an opportunity in group buying. At the time, there weren't so many of them like there are now, but I think we can make it if we really built our clientele well!

N. So how do we join?

JC. Well all you have to do is go on the Vieurbaine.com website and subscribe by entering your e-mail address.. When you subscribe, you will receive our "Offer of the Day" to your inbox. As a member, you can purchase any of the others you desire! Share them, send them to your friends. Have all your friends buy the same one and you can all go out and party hard together! (N. You can go check out their FIRST OFFER by clicking here)

N. What makes VieUrbaine.com so special, there are so many other Group Buying companies out there?

JC. Well a part from myself (haha).We aren't a general store like some of the others you find out there, who offer discounts on car maintenance, to laser eye surgery to restaurant discounts. We want to build a niche in the market for the "urban customer", for Generation Y. We have a very selective approach and we specifically target our offers. We want to offer our members nothing but quality - not necesarly high-end, because high-end is price related as opposed to quality establishments which can be cool trendy places like l'Assomoir, or any type of spa!

N. So now are you only serving Montreal?

JC. Montreal is the first step, but Quebec City, and Ottawa are in the works.

N. You mean that you're going to keep VieUrbaine.com for anglophones as well?

JC. No no N. Citylinked.com!!!

N. So when you aren't working hard as an entrepreneur, what do you do for fun?

JC. I really only work. (N. He does, after our meeting he went straight back to work!!). But I also spend time with my girlfriend and I make time to ski and play tennis on weekends. I also love to go out to Baldwin on Thursdays.

N. What's your favorite restaurant?

JC. Le Petit Italien sur Bernard. Love that place. Their Osso Bucco is delicious.

N. Favorite meal?

JC. Fois gras. I like it more than the average person.

N. Favorite bar?

JC. Baldwin with a pint of blonde - you can never go wrong.

N. Best gift ever given?

JC. I like to spoil my Mom at Christmas with tons of little things. I go to Zara and pick up a bunch of little things for her. In this case, quantity is better than quality!

N. What for you is a perfect date?

JC. Going to shows - like opera (OSM) followed by a late dinner at LeMeac.

N. What's your biggest turn on and turn off?

JC. Sex appeal is my biggest turn on. It's the smile, the personnality. I can't really explain it. And my biggest turn-off is what we call in french "a germaine" - a man-woman. She talks like a man, acts like a man, feels the need to be in power and be like a man.


My extraordinary cucumber/strawberry drink I had at L'Assomoir!

Thank you JC!!!

NOW..... YOU CAN WIN VIEURBAINE.COM's first offer - $45 WORTH OF FOOD AND DRINKS AT L'ASSOMOIR ON NOTRE-DAME!!! (according to their website, it's a $19 VALUE). BUT YOU CAN HAVE IT FOR FREE FREE FREE if you "LIKE AND SHARE". Please "LIKE" the Facebook post announcing this article and SHARE the article! When you share the article, please write in your favorite drink! I will announce
 If you aren't part of "WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GIRL" facebook page, please join now!! If you don't have Facebook, you can also participate by adding in the comments below your favorite drink! (Please make sure to include your name and e-mail address)

N.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Interview with a Best Friend

After reading - if you share this article, you have the chance to win a FREE CONSULTATION ($60 value) from Gabrielle Vaugeois for your career. You can even give it as a gift!


We greeted the waitress as we walked in, a big smile on her face.. "Oh ca fait longtemps que je ne vous ai pas vouu!" she said with her thick Mexican accent. El Sombrero is our place of choice and probably the restaurant I have been to the most in my life. Gringas - a porc filled tortilla with pineapple and guacamole is our meal, never taken without a margarita. I feel the waitress only asks us what we will have out of politeness, but knows very well we always take the same thing. Summertime is really the best time to go, sit outside on the terrace and sip our magaritas and chat and chat and chat some more. About our careers, about our love life, about our friends and trips and funny movies we watched. When you are out with your best friend, seems that nothing can really go wrong. She then got a craving as we sat finishing up our margaritas. "Je veux des churros!" she tells me. Churros? Come on. "J'en ai vu au restaurant salvadorien la derniere fois..." so we get in the car and rush to the salvadorian restaurant. Luckily I fell on "The Money Spot". As I cried of joy.."WOOO THE MONEY SPOTT!! (meaning the best parking spot EVER)" she glanced over at me claiming that she's in the crazy car with the crazy person. Aw she loves me. The Salvadorian place didn't have Churros, so we left and she got caught in the doors and everyone stared and it was great! After running through the city to find damn churros... we gave up and headed to Toi, Moi and Cafe for our night cap. The whole point was to interview her... her name is Gabrielle Vaugeois.

* Note that this interview is in English and French because that's just how we communicate, sorry to the english-speaking people... but you might kinda understand *

So I started to ask...

-N. What do you do?


Miss Vaugeois

GV. Professionnelement? Ou dans la vie en général? Well now I'm sitting with you having hot coco. Mais ce que je fais professionnellement, c'est Coach de Carriere, mais je préfère utiliser le terme Coach de Rêves. Sinon dans la vie, je vieillis. Je vis donc je vieillis.

N. C'est quoi être Coach de Carrière/Rêves?

GV. Une coach de carrière est un guide, quelqu'un qui t'aide à aller là où tu n'oserais pas nécessairement aller seule... quelqu'un qui t'aide à te rapprocher de ton rêve, te rapprocher du "qu'est ce que je veux faire dans ma vie?" et te donner les outils pour y arriver...Tu sais, chaque personne est différente et unique, donc, chaque parcours avec le client est unique. Il n'y a pas vraiment de déroulement général. Je travaille habituellement avec 3 types d'étapes de vie... La première personne n'a pas encore trouvé son rêve, elle a besoin de quelqu'un qui la guide et lui donne une chance de découvir. La 2eme personne c'est quelqu'un qui a un rêve, mais ne sait pas comment y arriver et la 3eme travaille depuis longtemps mais réalise qu'elle n'est pas satisfaite professionnellement ou personnellement et souhaite se réorienter. They don't want to spend a lot of time refocusing their career. Pour type 1 et 3, je les accompagne, comme un guide, to figure out what they want, les encourager à avancer. Pour type 2, je suis comme un entraîneur au gym, je suis là pour motiver, donner des pistes, des trucs, poser des questions qu'on ne se poserait pas nécessairement; je donne le "coup de pied aux fesses".

N. Donne moi des exemples de ce que tu fais?

GV. Charlotte Hosten (www.charlottehosten.com) est un super exemple. Charlotte avait un rêve. Un grand rêve "impossible" à ses yeux. Elle voulait faire des collier, "faire des colliers toute la journée" comme elle disait. Elle voulait vivre de ses bijoux. Mais elle ne cessait pas de se donner des excuses pour ne pas y arriver et elle se persuadait qu'elle n'y arriverait pas. Alors, je lui ai donner la main et le coup de pied nécessaire. Je lui ai donné des deadlines, un plan d'affaires, des devoirs et ensuite tout s'est développé. She's been in business for 1 year and sells to Canada, the US, Japan and Great Britain.

N. How are you qualified to do this?

GV.Well I am not an "orienteur". I don't give out tests. I don't believe in tests. I was given one and they told me I would be either a librarian, a magician or a fridge repair person! I graduated from École Supérieure de Mode de Montréal (UQAM) in Commercialisation de la Mode with a bachelor degree and I'm currently taking PNL(Programmation Neuro-Linguistique) classes to certify me as a coach. I also have a good business sense, an instinct. I also relate that to the humane side, which is very important to me. Je comprenais l'émotion reliée à la création pour CH, mais aussi je savais que c'est pas en faisant des bijoux toute la journée que ça allait se vendre tout seul. J'ai un bon mix. Je suis "business" mais j'ai aussi beaucoup d'empatie. Je suis inspirante. Tu ne peux pas étudier ça. Tu l'as ou tu l'as pas...

N. What's your 5 year plan?

GV. Je trouve que 5 years c'est un peu loin dans le temps... Mais pour le moment, je travaille sur le projet de Léa, qui est Love Coach (www.lealalovecoach.com), et qui démarre un collectif de filles qui travaille sur le développement du potentiel. Je suis sa conseillère pour l'entreprise, mais je fais également partie du collectif. Je veux continuer à aider les autres. Un jour à la fois!

N. Why are you doing this?

GV. Ça sonne vraiment quétaine, mais ... I didn't chose it, it chose me. I had a natural ability to help others, motivate, change and create. Et le travail, auquel nous passons peut être 80% de notre vie, m'intrigue énormément. So I decided to make it my life.

N. If you were to give a piece of advice to each type of person that you named above - what would it be?

GV. For person #1: you need to learn about YOU. Discover yourself. Spend alone time with yourself, as if you were getting to know another person. Remove all ideas of what others want for you and decide what YOU want for you. So if your parents wanted you to become a lawyer, but you hate law, well you shouldn't do law. Simple right? But not so much.... you wouldn't believe how many people choose a career for all the wrong reasons...Figure out who is the real YOU is. For person #2: write down your objectives based on a timeline. By year 1, I want XXXX done, by year 2, I want to have completed xxxxx. It gives you a vision and goals. And for person #3: you have to give yourself a chance and remove all the pressure that you are putting on yourself. La vitesse permet d'aller plus vite, mais la relaxation permet d'aller plus loin said a famous someone. SLACK la pression and CHILL OUT. No one puts pressure on you, you put it on yourself. To always look perfect, be perfect, speak perfect, feel perfect. Just CHILL. The key to success is BE YOURSELF. You will never be happy if you don't do it for yourself.

N. So when you are not helping people with their careers, what do you do for fun?
GV. I like to read, spend time with my friends, eat, do "courte-pointe". Yes I know funny ha ha. But it relaxes me. I like to learn and travel. Did I say eat? (N. Yes you said eat...)

N. What's your dream trip?

GV. Alone would be Buenos Aires and with someone would be India. I need to get there ASAP parce que ça devient moins "indien" et plus "mondial".... ce que je trouve dommage. I want to live the indian culture, the traditions, the people, the colors, the smells, etc.

N. Sweet or Salty?

GV. Both, but I would say more sweet. No, both. But not at the same time.

N. Favorite Junk Food?

GV. I don't really have a favorite junk food. I'd say PASTA? Lots and lots of pasta is my junk food. (N. Hmmm not really the answer I was looking for... haha PASTA!)

N. 1 word to describe you.

GV. Le "?" - je sais, c'est un symbole et pas un mot...mais pour moi, le "?" est une ouverture. On ne sait pas ce qui va se passer, anything can happen, I can do anything... and it's great! (N. If I were to give her 1 word to describe her, I would say go-getter. She wants something, she gets it. She's an inspiration to me.)

N. The Perfect Man?

GV. Hard question. The perfect man is the one that will be perfect for me. I'll know.

N. Snap your fingers and you get anything?

GV. World Peace!!! haha. Ok I'm not Miss America. But for people in the Iraq and such as to have maps. Ohhh or a gold bikini! No seriously, si je pouvais instantanément avoir n'importe quoi, je demanderais un équilibre dans le monde. J'ai parfois l'impression que nous sommes en train d'étouffer... le monde moderne manque horriblement d'équilibre... le ratio est complètement débalançé et on "est à côté de la plaque"!... trop de guerres, trop de consommation, trop de stress, trop de maladies, trop de peine, et pas assez de détente, d'amour, de joies, de rêves ... on étouffe continuellement toutes les possibilités.... oufff ça y est, je sonne Miss America! Haha!

N. What do you want for Christmas?

GV. Des pantoufles chaudes. Ou, être Pocahontas. Et courrir nue dans les bois avec Pocahontas-homme et ensuite l'ammener dans mon tipi...

Nice Gab, real nice!!!

Alors si vous etes interesses par les services de Gabrielle Vaugeois, Coach de Carrière, vous pouvez la contacter par courriel : gabriellevaugeois@videotron.ca . C'est vraiment une femme géniale. Pour les clientes actuelles de Gabrielle, je vous invite à écrire dans les commentaires plus bas et dire comment elle vous a aidé.

AUSSI, COURREZ LA CHANCE DE GAGNER UNE CONSULTATION GRATUITE - $60 value. SHARE THIS ARTICLE AND JOIN WHAT IT FEELS LIKE FOR A GIRL (fbook page) if you haven't done it already. 
 
N.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

That First Date...

So you met an interesting man/woman at a bar, at the grocery store, through friends or at a party. Numbers were exchanged, first text messages were sent, that person still seems interesting, "Let's do something!" is discussed and now you need to decide what to do!

First I need to let you know that I am no dating pro. I have dated and it has failed, I have dated and it has succeeded, I'm not the dating guru at all and maybe my ideas for a first date are completely crazy - you decide that for yourself!

On the first date, chances are you don't know that person very well, so you never want to put yourself in a position where you don't have an exit route. However, if you feel comfortable enough to invite that person over for dinner, movie, game, whatever, then do so. A home date is usually a favorite of mine because it's cozy, you don't have to speak loud over other people, you aren't rushed to go anywhere, it's just more relaxing, but not recommended for a first date. Remember - exit routes are necessary the first time around in case your girl/guy turns out to be boring or cuckoo.
Le Continental

Also, dinner on a first date is more or less recommended. I personally don't think that dinner is a bad thing on a first date. If the date is shit, you eat fast, ask for the bill and say you feel sick and that your bed seems like a good place to be.  So if you want to go the restaurant route, I think that going to a more or less known place is ideal because if ever the date doesn't really turn out, no one spotted you. Now, you don't have to go to a hole in the wall, but maybe a place off the beaten track. Try a little BYOB in another area than your own like Quartier General in the Plateau, or try a little Portuguese restaurant close to your home that you have always wanted to try. Something yummy, but not too public. I don't suggest Enfants Terribles or anywhere on Bernard or Laurier for that matter (FOR A FIRST DATE, I REMIND YOU!), you can try Parc for some delicious greek food, or Rumi for some middle eastern delights. You can also try really new restaurants (you might see someone you know, so I don't suggest using that type of place for a blind date we'll say) - Kitchen Galerie Poisson or regular Kitchen Galerie on Jean-Talon are TO DIE FOR. It might hit you a little budget wise, but the food is divine. Le Continental, Les Cavistes, Hachoir, Confusion - all on St-Denis are great food spots. You can even have a bite at Continental and then go for a couple drinks at L'Barouf.

Le Dominion
Having a couple drinks is also a great first date plan. You can have 1 drink and leave, or if the date is going really well, you can close the bar.  If you are living in Montreal, it really depends on your taste, if you are into something high-end you can grab a drink at Vauvert, Santos, Philemon Bar in Old Montreal, if you want something a bit more mid-end, head to Mont-Royal: Baraka, Plan B, Bily Kun are good spots. Or you can head over to Baldwin, Burgundy Lion or Dominion in the middle of the week.

But if you aren't into the whole dinner/drinks type first date, and looking for something a little more original, why don't you try some bowling, or pool. Montreal isn't short of activities at all. You can go to one of the many museums, walk down Mont-Royal or St-Denis, grab an ice cream at Bilboquet in the summer, walk through the park, or grab a poutine at La Banquise then you can stroll into la Quincaillerie right next door for a good pint! On a Thursday evening in the summer, head to the Orange Julep or on Sundays in the summer, head to the Mont-Royal Park to watch the tam-tams. Another favorites of mine are jazz bars - Upstairs and House of Jazz are some of my favorite - in the downtown core.
Le Hachoir

Hope this helps you out! Remember yes these are good ideas for first dates or any dates or even activities with friends! If you have great ideas for first date locations let us know, add to the comments!

As my last words of wisdom, I don't suggest you do see a movie on your first date, make sure to spend some quality time with your date, get to know them! Good luck and happy dating!

N.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I would like to dedicate this post to Dave and Phil - 2 guys who understand respect and who gave me the idea to write about this.

Respect. Such a broad term that could mean so many things.  Respect your elders, respect your neighbors, respect your teachers, respect your friends and of course respect your strangers.

I have always believed that little acts of respect go a long way. For instance, when you are with a group of friends in a bar, the bar is crowded, everyone is trying to move, to get from one end to the other. It is very likely that you get pushed or shoved BUT the difference is turning around and apologizing for shoving someone else. Showing them some respect. Same applies on the dance floor, you get pushed and danced on, the least the other person can do is apologize and try to move away. I personally get very irritated with people that don't respect me when they are trying to get by. I stand my ground, I bend my knees, I give them a hard time and not allow them to pass if they don't excuse themselves. I do. I am a pain. I know it. But hey, who do you think you are? The King or Queen of All Life to move people as you walk by. No Sir or Madam, you are not Moses, the crowd of people will not split as you try to make your way through, so do the right thing and make sure you are considerate of the others around you. Say EXCUSE MEEE!

When I was younger I took the habit of dancing with my elbows out against my waist so those that would come too close would get a little elbow nudge. Not comfortable. Serves you right. Yes I know, I am really bitter about this. But I have been walked into, stepped on, pushed, shoved, hit, you name it and now seriously BACK OFF because I will hunt you down and make sure you apologize to me or my friends that you believe are inferior to you and don't deserve to be respected enough. We are all trying to have a good time, we all need to get drinks at the bar, we all want to dance our bums off, we all want to chit chat with friends without being pushed across the room.

So all I want to say, is be aware of the people around you, be aware of your surroundings.

I want to thank Phil for offering to beat up that guy that shoved me big time and thank Dave for understanding the frustration because him too fell a victim of the selfish ones.

We will be beat disrespect, one elbow hit at a time! No no, I'm just joking, I meant 2 elbow hits at a time! ;)

As my last words of wisdom, if you might be one of those shovers, try to be a little conscious next time, apologize and acknowledge those around you. It makes the shoving and pushing much more endurable! And if you are the one that gets shoved, SHOVE EM BACK! haha. Aww my words of wisdom aren't very smart... re my bitterness.

N.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Stocking Stuffers 101

We are probably getting into one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year - that weekend right before Christmas. We will be running around like head-less chicken finishing up most of the Christmas gifts we need to buy for everyone on our list. Oh I am so excited. (can you feel the sarcasm?). Well with all this Christmas gift shopping, we leave the stocking stuffers for last - but in this day and age, Dollarama just doesn't cut it anymore. No, I do not want ugly socks, or dish soap, or hair clips for 12 year-olds. I'm sure you guys are the same... So I put together a few ideas - gifts under $10 - that can easily fit into your stocking. Hopefully this might help most of you and give you some ideas. Of course, if you want to add your own ideas for the readers, please do so in the comments below!

FOR WOMEN!

1. Nail Polish - always a great stocking stuffer - you can never have too many. My favorite nail polish brand is Essie - you can find these at your closest Pharmaprix / Shoppers. They usually retail for $8.99. You can even make the stocking themed by buying some nail polish remover, toe seperators and a nail filer.

Fall/Winter 2010 collection of Essie nail polishes
2. Lip gloss - lip glosses are an easy gift. You can find the basic Blistex ones at your pharmacy or go a little funky with ones you can find at Sephora. Here is one I found on the Sephora website - only $7.00

Pink gloss available at Sephora.ca or at a Sephora near you - $7.00
 FOR MEN!

1. Lip Balm - all men need their lips kissably soft and healthy- and I know that most of you do carry around some kinda lip balm, well why not get a really nice one by Matte.
MATTE for Men lip balm - $6.50 available at Sephora
2. PJ pants - all men need a good pair of comfy PJ pants they can wear to bed or to lounge around in the house. The women always end up wearing them one day or the other. Why don't we invest in a pair we like for them? Old Navy has some great selections that aren't expensive and can roll up into their stocking.


Old Navy Flanel PJ pants - $8.00 at Old Navy

FOR ANYONE!

1. Coffee Cards- Most of us stop by Tim's at least once a week, maybe twice, some even stop there every day. Giving a Tims Card is like giving them their morning heaven every day - don't we want to responsable for that?

Available at all Tim Hortons for any amount you want to add to it!
The Starbucks card is also an option - and if the person you are buying for is a coffee fan - the instant coffee little packets - Starbucks VIA Ready Brew are perfect at $10.95 ( a little over the budget but worth it!)


Get a gift and do good all at the same time. Buy the "RED" gift card and $0.05 goes to the Global Fund against AIDS

The VIA Ready Brew Startbucks packets - Christmas Blend! Looks festive and tastes great too! I'm not a huge coffee fan, but that's what I heard!

Some other ideas for stocking stuffers could be :
- Ferrero Rocher chocolate
- Mini Eggs ( that are now available all year long),
- A box of pens that you can pick up at Bureau en Gros (Staples).. we always need pens and we never seem to find any!
- Stockings are always great- you can find a WHOLE lot of them at Winners.
- Guzzo/Famous Players or any type of movie ticket certificates.
- Go to Joe Fresh at any Loblaws company store (Maxi, Loblaws) - they have gloves, hats, scarfs and cosmetics
- Bath and Body Works just opened in Montreal and they always have little great value sets at great prices. Hand sanitizers, hand creams, eau de toiletttes.
- You can even head over to Wal Mart or Best Buy at get an old classic movie on DVD for $10
- La Senza has some great items - slippers, pj sets, pretty accessories
- Magazines! A magazine can always be a GREAT stocking stuffer - like GQ, Maxim, Men's Health for men and In Style, People, Vogue, Decormag for women
- An underrated stocking stuffer that is ALWAYS useful is a pack of cards - get creative and find a pack with a cool design. These can be found at Tour de Jeux or Wal Mart.

Well I hope I gave you enough ideas and that for once, your gifts will be cool and not some quick side stop at Dollarama!

As my last words of wisdom, try to find 1 gift as a stocking stuffer that is a bit more personal, something you know that person needs or wants or will be very happy with.

Have a great shopping weekend!

N.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Bucket Lists

I was talking to a friend of mine today, and we got on the subject of bucket lists. What is a bucket list? It's basically a list you create of life goals or things you want to do before you kick the bucket, which means, before you die. My friend's list was quite short, big achievements, no small details, right to the point. Mine is a mix of both, some large achievements and some "smaller" projects. I like to keep my bucket list secret, but I will let you in one on of the items - I want to be able to take pictures almost like a professional photographer. I want to understand photography and put it into practice.

Have you even thought of yours? What are the things we want to accomplish before we die? It can be to travel around the world, to fall in love and get married with your soul mate, to have kids, to have your own company, to have a cottage, really the possibilities are endless and the types of life goals depend from one individual to another.

My perspective is that a bucket list gives you goals. Having life goals helps you create the right path to reach them. For instance, I want to learn photography, so what am I doing in order to become a great photographer? Well, I have owned many cameras and have taken many pictures. I like to play with the settings and understand the aperture, the manual mode, the shutter, etc., but my knowledge is still at a very beginner level. I should take the time to look into it more and really concentrate on getting this skill perfected. I should start respecting my bucket list a bit better! 

Having a bucket list keeps you focused on reaching the goals you want to set for yourself. Now I don't want to preach, but I do think it is a good idea to build a set of goals and try to reach them. I also think they should be attainable and not something like - I want to discover a new planet if you aren't even an astronaut!

So as my last words of wisdom, why don't you take some time and think of what you really want to accomplish before you die and figure out the right ways to reach these goals. What are you most passionate about? Do you want to learn how to fly a plane but aren't doing anything about it? Well then, this just might give us the kick in the butt to be motivated and accomplish what we want to do. We don't want to wait until it's too late to do what we were meant to do. I have added the trailer for the movie the Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Loved this movie. Find the joy in your life!

Inspirational, no?

If you want to share some of the items on your bucket list, that would be great! Create a sea of bucket list goals! 

N.

Entertaining in the middle of the week

Who says that entertaining or seeing friends should only be on weekends? It should be all the time! I personally am a big fan of spending 1 on 1 quality time with some of my friends during the week. You can go out for dinner, you can stay in, you can go see a movie, whatever you chose, weekdays are perfect opportunities to catch up with friends.

I have put together a NON-FAIL plan for a successful weekday get together with your BFF (pictures are extra!) You don't feel like spending too much money, we all know that Christmas is around the corner and that extra $100 you have in your account, well you much prefer spending it on your dad's Riedel wine glasses than on some diner in the middle of the week! Hey, I can't blame you! I think the same thing. So what do you do...you don't really feel like cooking, you don't feel like putting much effort, so here is my idea of a PERFECT 1 on 1 date and I hope that this will incite you to call up your friend and have them over for some dinner and long chit chats!

First things first - food. A non-fail food option is a frozen lasagna. It's filling, it's yummy and it simply does the trick! If you are close to a Loblaws, a Presidents Choice one is just perfect.  Takes about 1 hour in the oven (make sure to put it in the oven right when you get home from work so once your company arrives, it's almost ready). There is also a Costco lasagna that I'm a big fan of as well. Now while you're waiting for your lasagna to cook, you can A. have some munchies - like hummos and veggies, bread and cheese, pickles, olives, whatever. And B. something to drink. For this weekday evening, our drink of choice was some bubbly - see Step 1. Popped some bubbly, ate some cheese and bread (that we put in the oven so it's all warm) and waited for our lasagna while we chit chatted about NYE plans and what not. Now while this is all going on, you can't forget an important piece of the puzzle, the MUSIC. You always need some kinda background music whether it be "The Hit List", some jazz, some oldies or the new Kanye CD. Eating with a beat is necessary. Once you start your lasagna or pasta, or pizza, or whatever you chose, open a nice bottle of vino - see STEP 2. Moma is a great red wine with hints of coffee. Just delicious. Once you are done your meal, sipping your vino, talking about friends, love, life, career, whatever - just relax. It's getting late, but it doesn't really matter, what time do you get to bed on regular nights anyways, no too early! So even if you do get to bed early, time to make an exception! Sip your wine. Enjoy it. Make your way to living room if you must but I wouldn't open the TV. You're there to spend quality time with your friend so talk to them!


 Once you are finished your wine, finished your meal - you can head over to dessert. Now what to have for dessert... Well a special favorite of mine is McCain Chocolate Cake. I know, I'm a sucker for that delicious piece of heaven. 10 sec in the microwave and I'm the happiest girl to have ever lived. Or pull out a yummy box of chocolates - hmm hello - you never know what you gonna get! And this can be followed and or maybe I suggest taking this before dessert is STEP 3 - Pickle Vodka shooters. I know, you must be telling yourself. HORRID. But no. Actually delicious. Snookie from Jersey Shore would approve. * Find the difference between picture to your left and picture below *. Yes you discovered. We drank the shooters!


After all is consumed, it might be quite late, you might be quite tipsy, but I must say you had a pretty successful evening. To be repeated ASAP.

If you have any ideas for quick home-cooked meals - easy for entertaining another or 2 other people, please add your comments below!

As my last words of wisdom, try to have a dinner like this at least once every 2 weeks or maybe 3 weeks, invite a friend or get invited. Quality time like that is precious so use it well.

N.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

IT'S NEW YEARS, LET'S PARTY! But where?

This post stems from a special request, a comment actually, posted on my post "Holiday Fashion for Men and Women". It goes as follows...


Hey I was wondering if you could post ideas for new years eve for a crowd that likes to dance (23- 28) year olds, since going into nightculbs is getting a tiny bit old to hang out with the younger crowds, suggestions?
it would be greatly appreciated!


Well to whoever posted this, Thanks! I think this is a great subject and I'm hoping that I can help you celebrate a fabulous New Years. 


First of all, NYE is overrated. It is. I'm telling you. I have been to Miami twice, with tickets costing me over $250, I have been to Times Square (I DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT recommend EVER EVER EVER celebrating New Years Eve in Times Square - let me sum it up in a few words... a part from the company which was great, I froze my bum off in 18 gazillion layers of clothing from 7pm to midnight - TORTURE). Was it THAT special? No. Were the parties worth the amount I payed for them? No. So what does make an excellent NYE party? The people you spend it with. If you have a fun gang who wants to have fun, then you will have fun, no matter where you are. (well except if you are spending it standing outside...haha)


So to my comment poster, here are some ideas I have for you. It just so happens that I fit into that crowd you mention. I LOVE to dance and I'm between 23-28 and I have no interest in spending my NYE with youngsters in some club. Now, I'm not exactly sure where you are from, maybe Montreal. So... after researching a little, asking around.. This is what I came up for you.


1. I might be a little biased because I have been going to clubs and such for the past 3 years, so this year I'm in the mood for a great house party. House parties can be so much fun! You are celebrating with people you know, you can start up a dance floor in the living room and shake your booty till whatever time you want. Chit chatting with friends, no expensive drinks - this is my party of choice. 


2. HOWEVER, if you really want to go out in Montreal, I suggest Old Montreal. The difference between The Main (St-Laurent) and Old Montreal is the age group. Old Montreal caters to a much older crowd than the teeny boppers you might find on St-Laurent. Take a look at any of the great places in this area like - Vauvert, Velvet, Santos, Garde Manger, Confessionnal, W Hotel. This can apply to whatever city you live in, pick the places that usually have an older crowd, and it is most likely that the NYE party will also cater to that crowd. And maybe a part from Vauvert, but you can DANCE LIKE THE WIND at any of those locations I mentioned. But then again, it's NYE, dancing is mandatory.


3. Now if I were to make an exception and chose a few places on St-Laurent that will allow you to have fun without sitting next to your friend's kid sister that you use to babysit, I would recommend ROUGE (which is a favorite of mine). I have friends that went a couple years ago, and had a blast! Another place I would recommend is GLOBE. Globe is the only supperclub on St-Laurent that usually caters to an older crowd. The crowd isn't old, but older than let's say Med or Buena.


4. I looked up "Montreal NYE parties" and sadly didn't find anything too interesting unless you are into raving - of course there is RESOLUTION 2011, which goes on every year at the Bell Center, but this year because of the Cirque du Soleil show Quidam, the event will be held at Red Lite in Laval. Really not my style, but it could be yours! (See link here for Resolution 2011)


5. Depending on your crowd, renting out a place can be an option, but I believe you are little too close to the D-Day to go through all the trouble of renting a place, finding a DJ, etc. But you can consider it for next year. I rented out the MANAGO bar on Ste-Catherine for my 23rd Bday and friends after that rented it out for their bdays. It cost me.. $0.00!!! 


So here are the links for all the places (NYE party links) I mentioned above:
- Vauvert: I included the Facebook link to the party - $100 for dinner, $40 for admission after 10pm 
- Santos - they say that they might not be selling tickets online, so you might have to call them directly to get tickets
- Velvet - Tickets are $40 (no mention of Open Bar)
- Garde-Manger - no link - I suggest you call them up and ask (514) 678-5044
- Globe - Dinner and Dance package - $124 per person - food included, but no open bar
- Rouge - $40 - Open bar 10pm to 11pm.
- Confessionnal - no link for NYE party, call to check


Seems that the running deal is $40 for entrance to all these parties, which is nice because it cuts the quantity of people going out, so you aren't all squished..


So in hopes that this helped you out a little - also for all other readers, if you have great NYE party ideas please comment below! 


My only words of wisdom are - make sure you celebrate with great people, the location is just extra!


N.

Monday, 13 December 2010

The Laws of Attraction

A little bit of knowledge I feel like sharing with you...

I learned about this in the book The Secret and I thought I should share it with all of you. If any of you have read this book, you will have read that the laws of attraction tell us that we attract into our lives whatever we focus on. Quantum Physics teaches us that nothing is fixed, that there are no limitations, that everything is vibrating Energy. By understanding that everything is Energy in a state of potential and by applying the Law of Attraction to bring into our lives what we focus on, it it never necessary to feel stuck with an undesirable life.

After reading the Secret, that was all I could focus on, always asking the universe for positive and in return it would give me positive. But after a few weeks or months, I forgot about this power I had, now I'm trying to bring it back into my life. Trying to focus on the great things I want, and actually get them.

You really need to believe it and not everyone believes in the laws of attraction. You need to be convinced that by asking the universe for a new job, a new home, more money, a new relationship, that these things will come to you. When you really believe in something and focus on it, anything is possible. What I also learned from this book is if we focus on the negative, negative will come to you.  So always try to have a positive outlook, focus on what you want and you shall receive.

As my last words of wisdom, if this subject does intrigue you even more, pick up the book! Get it on Amazon.com even. It can't hurt you, it can only help you change your mind set into being more positive.
As the slogan of the book says : "you are meant to have an amazing life" and yes, they are right, we are all meant to have amazing lives...

N.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Friends vs Relationships

What a day! After spending 1 hour trying to get a car out of the snow, to finally have to sit in the trunk to get it up a hill, in this wonderful blizzard, it is safe to say that I was soaking. My pants, my arms, even my back (yes the snow went down my back) were all soaked. And then I had to spent another hour and a half in traffic all the way back home - in my soaking clothes of course. I'll give you 1 guess as to what I did when I got home. A big bubble bath of course! Aw the pleasure of taking a warm bath when you are just cold to the bone. I put the water as hot as I could handle, sensational cherry bubble bath liquid, and I slipped in to heaven. I can't tell you how long I stayed there while playing some Stan Getz (jazz artist) in the background. My skin passed the prune level and maybe to some sort of"your Florida grandma who has been tanning with olive oil since she's 12" type skin.  I closed my eyes and enjoyed every second of peace I had. Not a care in the world. No where to go, no one to see, just some super quality time with me.


That balance is so important and I mentioned it in one of my first posts - the importance to take advantage of all life's pleasures and to really have that balance between alone time and the rest. As I also mentioned, it's quite difficult to balance it all at the same time. Work, girlfriend/boyfriend, friends, family and alone time. Quite the challenge actually. I believe that the most challenging is when it comes down to your friends vs your relationship. This can remain a challenge for years. No one really wants to wake up one morning with nothing but their spouse in their life. A life full of family and friends is important to me. And I say this for couples my age to much older couples like my grandparents - who I must say have a great group of friends and I think that's great!


When my girlfriends first started having boyfriends, this is when it hit me. I would start seeing them less (which of course is normal), but less became even less, and even less became almost never. It struck me how having a gf/bf could have so much influence on their respective other. Was it a trust issue? Was it a possessive issue (which can also be trust)? Was it that the gf/bf was more interesting than us? Was it because their respective other didn't have friends and so they felt guilty leaving them alone? Was it because we didn't provide them with daily sex? I'm sure all of these factors came into play a little.  The same scenario would always happen, my girlfriend would break up with her boyfriend and then coming running back. Despite not seeing her for months, she apologized for being a lousy friend and begged us to take her back. This has happened countless times. Some learned, some didn't. Why is it so difficult to maintain that balance? All the reasons I mentioned at the top can be a reason that you see in your own life. So what is a solution? How to maintain that balance?


In my experience, from what I have seen and what I have lived, I have a few little solutions that can help you. But first, if you are with someone that is too possessive and that doesn't allow you to go out on your own and see your friends, you should be questioning that and maybe a talk with your second half is needed.
So first type of solution, is couple outings. Bring your boy or your girl out with your friends. A birthday, a party, a masquerade, a night out out the bar, whatever it is, bring them out with you and have them get to know your friends well. This way, your spouse will be more comfortable when you go out on your own friends, because she/he will know exactly who it is that you are going out with, because yes, sometimes it is a trust issue. "No babe, I trust you, I don't trust them..." is something I have heard from all sorts of people. Well here is my answer to that: "Babe, if I want to be with someone else, I'll be with them. If I do hook up with someone else at "put in location", then that's because I don't want to be with you more than that, and you don't want to be with someone who does that to you." We don't want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with us. Living in a big city like I do, the chances of meeting all sorts of people is there, so we can't prevent our spouse from meeting other people, it will happen, and it will be up to them to decide if they are really happy with you and step away from the situation or give in to temptation and in that case, on to the next. You don't want to choke your spouse and make them feel like they can't go out because you're scared what may happen. I was sent a great quote to illustrate this:

 "A nice tie is like a beautiful woman. If you take care of her, let her rest, never strain her and let her breathe she will last forever and get better with age."  The same applies for men. 

So couple outings is good for that trust issue and for a way to spend time with your lover and your friends ALL AT THE SAME TIME! No one is left alone and so everyone can benefit from this.


Another solution, a solution that I am not a very big fan of, is plan your friends outings in advance. This should be done for those that are deep into the "I barely see my friends anymore" stage. Book your friends a week in advance, ie "Thursday night - Habs are playing - Steve invited me over". Make sure you tell your spouse in advance so if they want to make plans, they too have time to make plans if they don't want to be alone. Being alone is actually a good thing though. This can even be your opportunity to take that long bubble bath! 
Yes, spontaneity is great and I'm a huge fan of being spontaneous, and this goes completely against being spontaneous, but this can help get you out of your rut. But then again, it's always nice to tell your bf/gf in advance if you have plans. This way it shows that you have nothing to hide. Make sure you are always honest. You are seeing Amy, Steve and Jim - well then make sure you include all of them. You want to be transparent so that there are no weird stories or questions. Of course, this will develop and trust won't be an issue anymore and you will have time kick back some beers or martinis with friends and actually enjoy the quality time with your girls or with your boys. Talk about different things, inside jokes, and continue to build those bonds. These friends have probably been in your life for a while, for years, through thick and thin and friendship is priceless. You don't want to wake up one morning and just have your spouse and kids in your life. Don't you want a few couples of friends? Those you can have your New Years Eve parties with, those you can have double date dinners with? Those you can share great friendship bonds with.

As my last words of wisdom, it's needless to say, having that balance is never easy and but it is important to keep working at it. It takes effort. Letting your partner do their own thing, beers with the boys, or martinis with the girls or whatever it may be is necessary to keep a sane relationship.  Of course, this is my opinion, and you may be very happy in your couple without seeing too many friends, but I'm telling you in the long run, having your own life will keep your relationship strong. It's good to miss your second half from time to time no?


 If you have a different point of view or something to add - please don't hesitate to do so in the comments below!


N.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Holiday Fashion For Men and Women

N. doesn't always have the greatest style...
What to wear this holiday season? Sequins? Color? Black? Basic? I say, what ever you want! Feel good about what you are wearing and I'm sure it will look great. Well, maybe not always great, but most of the time. Let me share with you a beautiful Aqua sequins dress I tried in New York last October. I loved it, felt good in it. Did it look great? Not too sure.

I'm not a fashion expert, and my tastes can sometimes be a little questionable (you can ask my mom or my sister!), but I have come up with a few fun outfits for the Holiday season. Whether you are sitting by a fire with your family and friends, a trendy night out on the town, or a luxurious New Years Eve party, you might find something below that actually suits your fancy. I have included some of my favorite stores in and around the city so if something actually interests you, you can run to the store and pick it up!

First, let's start with Fireplace fashion.. the staple for this season is a beautiful sweater. I found these at Banana Republic, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy and Hollister.

There is something about big sweaters that we all love. They are so comfortable, pretty and keep us really warm.  I would pair this one with a simple tank or t-shirt and a pair of  dark jeans and Christmas socks! (American Eagle)
I found this great sweater on the Old Navy website. I love the colors. Off white, grey, beige . Beautiful.   Pair this beauty with a great simple long sleeve top (you can find one at HM or James Perse if you are in the mood for something a little better) - comfy pair of boyfriend jeans or leggins will do the trick.

There is nothing sexier on a man than a beautiful sweater. I love this navy one from Hollister. Buttons or not, paired with a great pair of dark jeans and a white t-shirt, this outfit will make any woman want to get close with a yummy cup of coco (+ Baileys!) cuddling in front of the fireplace.

I am a sucker for men wearing Banana Republic.  I don't know why, but there is something about a man that dresses well that just makes me melt. I'm not saying to look like you are going out every night, but take this sweater for instance paired with a nice plaid shirt and medium washed jeans, it is a perfect daytime look suitable for any man!

Night Out Fashion - I have come up with a few styles I like for going out this holiday season. Zara tends to be my go-to for this look. Their pieces are perfect and their collections are so different that anyone can find a few pieces that they love.

Zara Boots - Just fabulous! A woman can never have too many boots.
I think all women look amazing in black - clean, and sophisticated. This animal print jacket just adds that perfect amount of WOW factor.

Huge fan of the blazer paired with the t-shirt . Sophisticated, yet fun. (Zara Men)

A man can never go wrong with a few key shirts. This one isn't over the top, but paired with a great pair of  dark jeans and a killer smile, I can guarantee that it won't disappoint. (Zara)

New Years Eve luxury fashion - NYE is the time to go all out. Bring out the pretty dresses, the clean suits, the original shirts and of course those glasses of champagne!

I love the black and white combo - elegant with a twist. Add some simple silver jewelry or maybe a statement ring and voila - you are ready for your Champagne and that passionate midnight kiss!

Let's play a little! Betsey Johnson always has the best party dresses! It's New Years!  As Coco Chanel said: "A woman must be 2 things : classy and fabulous" Well doesn't this just sum it up. (


For men, I looked hard and long to find a complete outfit, and I never seemed to find anything as perfect as I wanted. I did however find this post - How to Build the Perfect New Years Outfit for Men, which is quite interesting and can be a great "Go-To" for any man in the market for a perfect New Years Eve outfit. You can even go back to my post - "The Men's Fashion Guru" to get some advice from Pierre-Benoit, he is much more specialized than me. Zara, BR, Ben Sherman, Revolve, Jack and Jones are just some brands that make excellent men clothing.

As my last words of wisdom,  remember when shopping, don't ever buy something in hopes that it will fit one day; buy for your body now. Also, there is no need to follow fashion to a T, buy items that suit your body. Skinny jeans and pleated pants aren't for everyone. With these 2 little tricks, we will look fabulous this Holiday Season!

Here are some of the websites for the clothes I mentioned above:
Banana Republic
Zara
Hollister Co
American Eagle
-Betsey Johnson

If you have any more ideas of great stores  to find holiday outfits, please do add them in the comments below! Many minds are better than one!

Happy clothes shopping! (The best holiday shopping there is!)

N.