Thursday, August 29, 2013

Team Building in San Diego - Del Mar Races

Today, our team headed to the Del Mar Races for some team building.  It was great to hang out with my coworkers in a social setting.  There is definitely pressure not to make this a priority, what with the ever-pressing meeting request and good-natured teasing by other colleagues not going.  At the end of the day, I believe it's an important investment and something that we as employees truly appreciate.

The set up was nice.  We were split between 5 tables overlooking the race track.  The service was pretty quick.  Most appetizers and drinks came out in less than 10 minutes.  We lucked out on weather, as it was slightly overcast and not too overly warm.  Perfect for being outside and comfortable in a dress.

Some of us tried our luck at betting on the races.  Alas, I struck out on all 3 races I placed bets.  I had fun though.  I know other teams have gone to Padres games or out to nice sit-down dinners.  In the past, we've done scavenger hunts in Balboa park, organized by City, Set, Go.  Tomorrow, we have an employee development day around Covey's Speed of Trust.  It's a blessing to work for a company that invests in so much training and development.  It pays for itself in year over year growth and revenues.  What fun and creative team building have you done or want to do?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Baked Butternut Squash Casserole Recipe

So it's Wednesday again, which means yours truly is in charge of making dinner for the whole family (husband, parents, and sister).  Tonight I tried making a Baked Butternut Squash Casserole.  And the lesson I learned was that I should probably start measuring things.  I personally was not a fan of the end result, though I will say the butternut squash part was delicious.  I expected it to taste more like mac and cheese, and unfortunately I think I added too much milk.

My husband and sister claimed to like, so  I guess I would be open to making it again.  Next time, I'll add more noodles and potentially mash up the butternut squash.  I still feel like it was missing an ingredient but I cannot put my finger on what it is.  I think it needed more kick.  I tried salt and peppering it which definitely helped.

Overall, I'm enjoying my adventures in the kitchen.  For a girl who does not like cooking, I think I am doing pretty good.  Perhaps when I upgrade from novice, I'll know what that missing ingredient is.  Do you have a favorite casserole dish?  And one that is considered healthy?  My husband has high cholesterol, thus my recent dabbling in vegetable based recipes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

How to Write a Cover Letter

Resume Tips
From time to time, a friend or family member will ask for help with their job search.  As a full-time recruiter, I have seen my fair share of cover letters.  There are no hard and fast rules, however here are some tips to keep top of mind as you pen your cover letter:

1.  Please do not use common phrases like "great written and communication skills," "hard worker or team player," "great leadership or management experience" etc.  These mean absolutely nothing to me.  Everyone says them and they are even harder to quantify.  If you want to address these, then please list specific situations, accomplishments, statistics, or certifications related to these.
2.  Do some research on the company.  If you can, find the actual name of the hiring manager, HR person or recruiter.  Always apply via the online portal to show respect for the process, but hedge your bets by emailing your resume to the person directly if you can.  Leverage LinkedIn's advanced search for this.  With a Google search you have a good chance of figuring out the email address algorithm.
3.  Remember that the point of the cover letter is to get someone to open your resume.  Remember that at the end of the day, you either have the right experience or you do not.  A perfectly formatted and written cover letter will not change that.  Also there is no need to make it a separate attachment.  Go ahead and paste your letter into the body of your email.
4.  Use bullet points and bold where applicable.  I love an "airy" cover letter that I can scan very quickly.  Be eloquent but to the point.  Have others read your cover letter to check your grammar and provide some feedback.
5.  Be creative and try to let your personality shine through.  If you can, drop an employee's name or a specific story about yourself framing why you are excited about the opportunity and/or company.

Try not to over think it.  At the end of the day, your resume should list all the necessary qualifications for the job.  The cover letter should only provide supplemental information not found in your resume, like the fact that you are moving to San Diego in the next 2 weeks or that you have been a fan of the company ever since [insert story here].  Good luck!

Have some tips that I missed?  Please feel free to comment and share.  I'd love to hear what has worked for you.

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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Leachco Snoogle Total Body Pillow

My incredible mom purchased the Snoogle for me as a gift when I was pregnant.  And it was great support for those uncomfortable months of pregnancy, but like so many other pregnancy related items, was soon obsolete after the baby had arrived.

Well today, I found a use for my Snoogle and am excited to get some more use out of it.  Kaelani is in that middle stage where she can't quite sit up by herself yet.  I had been using the Boppy to try and support her but she would ultimately arch backwards and end up laying on it.

Well in combo with the Boppy, the Snoogle actually keeps her in a sitting position and gives me a nice place to lay my head while interacting with her.  I would say that's a win-win.

Do you have any creative uses for your pregnancy items?  I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Disneyland - Club 33 aka Best Baby Shower Gift Ever!

So back in January, I was surprised with possibly the best baby shower gift ever - an invitation to Club 33 at Disneyland!!!  Now going to Club 33 has been a life long dream of mine.  My amazing friend could easily tell, given the fact that I saved the chocolate wrappers from this famous club and pinned them on my wall at work.  So, as a surprise at my baby shower, she and a couple others gave me a Disneyland gift card and a voucher to make Club 33 reservations.  And the rest is history.  Well not really, but it seemed like the right phrase to insert here.

We decided to book our adventure while on my maternity leave.  Kaelani was just a month old, and my parents were gracious enough to watch her the whole day.  Above is a self-explanatory video of me ringing the famous doorbell.  It was amazing.  It felt like a dream.  The nice thing was that it seemed like the staff understood how special it was to be there and were completely accommodating when it came to pictures and gawking.  Even the toilets were cool.  They looked like vintage armoires.

Lunch was "melt in your mouth" delicious.  Below are some pictures of the food:

It was a once in a life opportunity that I know I won't ever get again (sorry, no hook-ups for you here).  I'll treasure it always and remember Club 33 again, as the BEST BABY SHOWER GIFT EVER!    

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Savory Orange-Roasted Tofu and Asparagus Recipe

I am a self-described horrible cook, however my husband often reminds me that it's not an inability but rather a distinct dislike of cooking.  Strangely enough though I've been bitten by the cooking bug ever since I started making baby food.

Tonight I tried this Savory Orange-Roasted Tofu and Asparagus recipe.  I couldn't find the red miso, so I substituted black bean garlic sauce.  I also doubled the recipe and added some ground turkey.  Other than that I tried to follow it as best I could (I have been known to guesstimate instead of measure).

We served it over rice and called it a day.  Overall I really enjoyed it, and it only took me about an hour from start to finish.  There are no leftovers, so I will chalk this up to a success.  Yay!

Baby Cuteness!!!

I just can't get enough of this smile!  I know every mother thinks her baby is the cutest baby of all time, but really?!  I think my baby objectively could be.  At the very least, she is one of the happiest, and she has the greatest disposition which just adds to her adorableness.  I'm not saying she doesn't have her moments, because she certainly does, but overall she's a charmer.

Work/life balance is such a hot topic these days.  I feel lucky to have an employer that allows me the flexibility to be home with my baby on Wednesday afternoons.  I have to say it's the highlight of my week.  I don't think I'll ever regret not being a stay at home mom, but the thought sure does cross my mind sometimes.  I can't help it when I get photos like this one texted to me during the day from my own mom.  In that, I know I'm lucky.  At least my baby is getting to spend the day with her grandma.  I hope they'll have a special relationship because of it.  I just wish I didn't have this mother's guilt.  I don't think dads are as victim to it, and I think that says something.

Regardless, I think we're all just doing the best we can with what we have.  Someone once told me that there are an incredible amount of minutes in the day.  We don't realize how much time we actually have.  There is always time to fit the important things in.  And she's right.  It's all a matter of perspective in some ways.  Who would have thought I'd have time for a blog?  But it's a worthwhile experience and an investment in myself.  I also keep a journal for Kaelani that includes various entries to her from my husband and I, as well as our extended family.  My mom did it for me, and it's the one of the greatest and most treasured gifts I've ever received.  Perhaps, this blog will also serve such a purpose if she's able to go back and read these entries someday.

I'd love to hear what special things you do or keepsakes you've made for your baby.  Is there something you definitely make sure you set aside the time to do to invest in yourself and recharge?  Please leave a comment and share your ideas.  I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kaelani's 1st Visit to the San Diego Zoo

So, I'm excited about 2 things after our visit to the San Diego Zoo last weekend.
  1. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the white safari hat we bought in the gift shop at the Zoo.  Not only is it super cute BUT my 6 month old actually found it comfortable and did not attempt to remove it.  AND it actually appeared to provide adequate sun protection for her delicate skin.  If nothing else, that purchase alone made the trip a win in my opinion.  Thumbs up for the Original Flap Happy :)
  2. Kaelani's favorite animal was none other but....wait for it.....another human baby.  We have had a baby boom at my company in the last couple years.  It's seriously in the water.  We have 125 employees at headquarters and we had 20 children under 2 at our company picnic this weekend.  Kaelani had no interest in the bearcat or the armadillo from our animal presentation, but she did laugh and coo over meeting another little baby named Lily.  It's funny how just the simple gesture of her trying to reach out and hold another baby's hand just made my heart melt.
I can't wait to return to the Zoo when she'll actually be interested in the animals behind the glass and ropes.  Seeing the world through her eyes brings back a novelty and excitement that's long been forgotten.  I hope I learn to slow down and appreciate these little moments while I can.  

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