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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Unpopular Opinion: Why Listening to Music at Work is the Worst

via edited by me

It's about to get really uncomfortable around here today. Why? Because I'm sharing what I'd consider an unpopular opinion. (Click here for my thoughts on brunch.) The subject of today's diatribe: listening to music at work.

Nothing makes me angrier (well that's a lie because rule-breakers generally make my blood boil) than someone with earbuds jammed into their ears sitting at their desk working. Why?

-one- This leaves you vulnerable.
If you're not aware of your surroundings at all times you can't react appropriately. Say you hear a large group of people walking towards your area, or, worse, you hear some sort of panic or emergency that's occurring. By being tuned out you're leaving yourself open to surprises or even attacks.

-two- It makes you look disengaged.
A coworker with earbuds constantly in (or headphones constantly on) looks disengaged and thus doesn't give the appearance of being a team player. If all you do is walk in, boot up your computer and shove your earbuds in, it doesn't go a long way into building relationships with your coworkers. Which brings me to my next reason listening to music at work is the worst...

-three- It discourages conversation.
Listen, conversation is the lifeblood of business. To form and build relationships you must have conversations. Constantly appearing that you're unwelcome to conversational advances can really wear on your coworkers. It discourages friendly camaraderie and rapport that makes working

-four- It is distracting.
I, for one, would love to sit at my desk and listen to the Hamilton soundtrack but I can't. Why? Because the music distracts me from my work. I'd much rather harmonize with the Schuyler Sisters than send an email so I find myself absorbed into the and not into my job. Then I start to make mistakes. It's way too distracting to listen to music at work.

Do you agree or disagree?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Southern Style (Barn Wedding Edition)

There's really nothing more Southern than an outdoor barn wedding. This has seen a huge jump in popularity over the last few years because its relaxed-yet-put-together vibe appeals to all people.

With it being wedding season, I wanted to put together an outfit that would fit right into a Southern-style barn or farm wedding. There are a couple basic pieces that really make the look and then the accessories (I think) take it to the next level!

king ranch southern summer style

king ranch southern summer style by aprilanne147 featuring a blue purse

Basic wardrobe staple: Lace Dress
Here it's a gorgeous blush pink but you could do really any color (Except white of course!)

Basic wardrobe staple: Summer Blazer
Here I've shown it in an off-white or ivory color. Linen, cotton or other light fabrics are idea so you don't get too warm.

Accessory idea: Classic Cowgirl Boots
These particular ones can be worn with jeans OR a dress, but the detailing on the boots make it fancy enough for a wedding. 

Accessory idea: Statement Necklace
Well, I might be biased about this one considering my penchant for them. But I still think here they help to bring the outfit together. 

Accessory idea: Colorful Clutch
Another way to jazz up the outfit with a punch of color. I love the turquoise of this but any contrasting color would work. Even something like burgundy, plum or yellow! 

If you're on the lookout for some classic, gorgeous cowgirl boots for you (or for the guy in your life!) you should check out King Ranch Saddle Shop. Click here to see the gorgeous ladies boot designs and here for the guys boot options

Friday, June 17, 2016

Summer Goals

I can't believe the beginning of summer is right around the corner! This is an unusual summer for us because we aren't taking a typical beach vacation. With that, our goals might be a little different, but here they are.

one. Save extra money for our Banff vacation in August.

two. Go to 9Round at least 3x per week. I took like 2 sets of 6-7 days off while I was traveling in May and it is KICKING MY BUTT right now. I don't want to miss so many days again.

three. Cook brussel sprouts. I always thought I was anti-brussel sprouts but I had some sweet chili lime roasted ones at a restaurant and they were DELICIOUS. I'll be on the hunt for a similar recipe and trying them this summer.

four. Get away to the beach even if just for a short weekend trip. I'm hoping that we can find a good hotel deal and do a 2 day, one night thing just to get to the beach.

five. Get my passport renewed.

six. Kayak the Catawba river.

seven. Try a new dessert recipe that's non-chocolate. Basically my life revolves around chocolate so I'd like to find and try a new dessert recipe that is not chocolate. Maybe strawberry something?

eight. Learn all the words to "Guns and Ships" from the Hamilton soundtrack. I love the LaFayette rap so I think I should learn it to impress my friends.

nine. Host a get together at least once this summer.

Life According to Steph

Thursday, June 16, 2016

How To Be a Bridezilla

Well, y'all, it's wedding season. It's also Bridezilla season. As women prepare for their summer weddings it's important that they become Bridezillas in order to really make the entire experience memorable for everyone. Being a wedding singer, former bride and frequent wedding attendant, I thought I'd provide a few tips on the best way to be a Bridezilla.

one. Every should be your servant for the entire wedding week.
I'm talking waiting on you hand and foot. Do not lift a finger to do anything and make sure you treat those helping you out like they are your hired labor. Get angry when people don't drop their entire lives to run out and get you those nude pantyhose you need and berate them for getting you some from the drug store or Wal-Mart. Sit on a chair and govern those around you with an iron fist!

two. Be dramatic.
Hey, it's YOUR wedding! Be as overly dramatic as possible. Bridesmaid a few minutes late to your 4th bridal party brunch? Call and cuss her out on speakerphone in front of everyone else. Oh and make sure you move her to be the farthest away from you when they stand during the ceremony. And that groomsmen that won't shave his beard? Dramatically fling yourself on the floor and cry until someone does something about it. Make sure you stir the pot with your bridesmaids so they all hate each other come wedding time. Bonus points if you freak out because the roses are mother-of-pearl instead of candlelight ivory.

three. Insist on impossible things.
Insist that the impossible become possible for your wedding. Insist on a last-minute flower change or a song change. Insist that your bridesmaid dye her hair brown because her red hair clashes with your pale pink dresses. Insist that your bridesmaids all get their hair and makeup done and make them pay $375 for it. Insist relocating the ceremony inside 2 hours before the wedding because there is a cloud in the sky. Insist that people can just hold their urine and not need bathrooms. They can do the impossible for you because it's YOUR day.

four. Be emotionally unstable. 
Absolutely go from happy to crying in 3 seconds whenever possible. Move from anger to elation and from joy to sadness at the drop of a hat. Scream in frustration and then laugh maniacally for 5 minutes straight. Do NOT, and I repeat, NOT be calm, gracious, understanding, even-keeled and peaceful.

The only way to guarantee you'll be a great Bridezilla is to follow these steps. Just remember, it's all about you and no one, not even your groom. No one else matters and this is the biggest day of your life. The rest of your life is irrelevant and if everyone doesn't go off without a hitch you will shamed eternally and forever.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

High School Reflections

I was in high school from 1999-2003 (graduated in 2003). So yes, I've been out of high school for 13 years. Dang. That seems like a really long time. Anywho, I loved this post when I read it on Erin's blog so I figured TSF readers should probably know about April in high school, right?

Right. But before we start, here's me in high school. I was an officer in a couple of clubs. This might be the National Honor Society or the History Club...I'm not sure. (second from the right)

What kind of student were you in high school (popular, nerd, sport obsessed, choir, etc.)?
This is a strange one because I don't feel like I fit in any of the typical buckets. I was a great student (A's and B's) and also VERY involved in JROTC. I was the JROTC drill team commander and a Battalion Commander of a 300+ person corps. I was also involved in a few Christian clubs with others that went to my church. I didn't play any sports past 9th grade, but I did have a lot of athlete friends. Most people in high school knew that I was a singer and liked to sing so I did that a lot for various events. I wouldn't say I was a card-carrying member of the popular group but I got along with them and they liked me (I think?). I didn't have any enemies and could make friends with the jocks, the nerds, the rednecks, the popular girls and the band people. My senior year I was the Military Ball Queen and I came in second place at the school's Carousel pageant.

About your school. Was it private? Public? How many in your graduating class? Mascots? School colors? 
I went to a public school, Olympic High School in Charlotte, NC. My high school was one of the smaller in the city since at the time there were 12 high schools in Charlotte. I think we had maybe like 250 or so in our graduating class but I couldn't be certain. Our mascot was the Trojan and our colors were red, Columbia blue (which is like Carolina blue or light blue) and white.

About some of your favorite memories of high school or what stands out the most. Any teachers? Specific classes?
I had some great teachers like Mr. & Mrs. Range and my JROTC instructors. They not only taught me high school subjects, but also some important life lessons. I loved any history class and even took elective history classes like European History AP. I have lots of memories from high school but the big moments like winning Military Ball Queen or being named Cadet of the Year were some of the high points. I also very vividly remember Friday night football games.

A piece of advice you would pass on to any child entering high school.
These are going to  be some of the best years of your life. Enjoy them and savor them. Make friends with everyone and especially those that don't seem to have friends. It's much better to get along with everyone than to have enemies so treat people nicely and don't fall prey to cliques that tear others apart. Join a club, a group or a sport. It's a great way to meet people and you may end up making some life-long friends. Don't take life too seriously because after school, the real world hits you. Enjoy.

A piece of advice you would pass on to any child exiting high school.
Some great advice that was given to me at my HS graduation that I think it still relevant today is a quote from the Dr. Seuss book "Oh the Places You'll Go".
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose. 
You're on your own.
And you know what you know. 
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Orlando: My Plea

I waited a little to gather my thoughts before sharing them publicly. I find that taking time to process before speaking really helps me to be objective and avoid emotionally-charged arguments.

The tragedy in Orlando is absolutely horrifying. Regardless of whether or not the club was targeted because of anti-homosexual sentiment, or if it was  anti-American domestic terrorism...It. Is. Awful. 

Fifty lives have been tragically cut short. Fifty families have now experienced unimaginable tragedy. Hundreds of people have been injured or affected emotionally. This is the worst mass shooting in American history. 

As we all process these events in Orlando, here is my plea:

Can we please stop using this to push our political agendas? The families of those affected have enough to deal with without divisive and hateful comments spoken only to further one's political alliances. Just stop. Stop blaming. Stop pointing fingers. Stop perpetuating the hate that fueled this tragedy. 

Instead, I recommend LOVE. How about we use this time to build others up instead of tear them down? Let's love each other regardless of gender, identity, sexual preference or religion. 

How is this actually do-able? How about we start by watching what we post on social media? Take a moment and think about what you're saying. Is it divisive? Is it being spoken out of anger or emotion? Does it have a place on social media? All too often we use social media as a platform...and it is...but sometimes, it's okay to get off your soapbox in order to stand in solidarity with those affected. 

Let your thoughts and actions be governed in real life and virtual one. I promise you that the message of love and unity is so much stronger and more powerful than one of discord.

There isn't much that we, in different parts of the country, can do for the victims and victims' families except to pray and use these events not as a platform to build ourselves up but as a platform to lift others up with us.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, during his Tony acceptance speech summed my thoughts up perfectly,
We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger
We rise and fall and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love lasts long
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
Cannot be killed or swept aside,
I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
Now fill the world with music love and pride

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Modesty Movement

There are a number of reasons one might use to explain The Modesty Movement that is happening in women's fashion. You could reason that it's a direct backlash from our over-sexualized society, or you might say that it's more of a throwback to vintage fashion. Some might even say that women who have always dressed more modestly are just now commanding more of the market and retailers are listening and adding modest styles to their inventory.

But for whatever reason, The Modesty Movement is in full swing. Just search #modestfashion or #modestclothing on Insta and you'll see tons of posts! Personally, I'm a big fan of this and it's not because of religious reasons...but just because I'm more of a modest person.

Modest clothing is categorized (for the most part) by having arms (shoulders) and tops of legs covered and higher or more generously cut tops. (Nothing with a low neckline.) And though, for some of you, that may seem like something like this, there really are so many awesome modest clothing options out there.

The Modesty Movement

The Modesty Movement by aprilanne147 on Polyvore

Stores like Shabby Apple, Modcloth and Florence Adams have jumped on board The Modesty Movement and have awesome selections. 

I'm singing in a wedding this weekend and I'm wearing a 3/4 sleeve long maxi dress. I love it so much and can't wait to wear it...and hopefully I won't be accused of being a sister wife. :) What do you think about this throwback/modesty movement in women's fashion? Would you consider your clothing more modest or not?

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