Interview with: Tara Russel of Russel Events

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I'm really excited to share something new with you - a Q&A with my friend (and client!) Tara Russel. Tara is owner of Russel Events and was the one who put together the beautiful dessert table for Mila's first birthday party. I thought it would be fun to have her on the blog and share her thoughts about event planning and her business.

Photo via Who Do You Love Photography
Tell me about Tara Russel. What do you love to do, hate to do, wish you could do?

Love: Anything to do with my husband and kids. I love my friends, movies, parties, books, food, cake and wine....and all of those things at the same time!

Hate: Housework and parking in downtown Toronto.

Wish: Hire a full-time, live-in housekeeper to chauffeur me around!

How did you get into event planning?

It's always been there. I've always done it, no matter what my job, I have always incorporated event planning into it. In terms of becoming an event planner professionally, it all started with a 5km run with a very good friend during a dragon boat practice. I was incredibly unfulfilled with my job. Long story short, we both decided to do an event management certification at night and on weekends to explore something creative and to see where it would lead us. I don't really know how to describe it...have you ever just known that you had to do something?

In the meantime, I was planning big and small events either through work or on my own for charity and friends. I loved it. I love it so much that I really would have continued doing it for free, but with baby #2 on the way I had to make a change. If I was going to leave my beautiful children for X number of hours every day it had to be to do something I loved.

Why did you start your own company?

I’ve worked in business for much longer than most people my age. I was 19 years old when I started managing high-volume retail stores. I have a lot of experience and I have a passion not only for event planning, but for business development. It was time for me to put all the pieces together and build something that suits the needs of my family. Plus, I'm a total control freak ;).

What do you think is missing from the event planning industry and how do you want to change it?

Great question. I think there is still a perception in the corporate world that an event is a fluffy, ‘nice-to-have’ for employees. In reality, events should be a part of a company's marketing plan along with its rewards and recognition programs. Business leaders are slowly coming around to the idea that the events industry needs to be part of their long-term business planning and, as such, need to be handled by an expert...not simply handed off to an over-worked assistant. My job is to educate, and raise the bar.

The other thing I would say is that it can be tough to break into this business. Unless of course, you like working for free. My father-in-law has a saying that I love: If you pay people peanuts, you get monkeys. My mission for this business is to create an environment of shared values, continuing education and provide the ultimate customer experience. It’s about attracting the right people... both clients and employees’.

What types of events do you love to produce?

I love events that introduce me to some new creative world that I haven't experienced before.

Favourite colours to work with? 

Anything big and bold.

Favourite wine? 

My favourite question! It depends on the time of year and what I'm eating. It changes all the time, but my favourite ‘house’ white is Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Italy. The Italians have a way of appreciating art that we don't possess here. I love their ability to completely hand themselves over to the pleasure of food and wine.

Thanks so much Tara! For more information on Tara or Russel Events, visit her site here.

snowy stuff + pretty stuff

Monday, January 27, 2014

This weekend I was supposed to go home for my aunt's funeral, but the weather was insane and there was a huge accident on the 401. A 25 car pile up which included seven jackknifed transport trucks. We thought about going anyway and then came to our senses. I've been there and done that (I may have had a couple of accidents with my poor little Jeep... anyone want a Jeep by the way? It has all new parts ;)).

So I unpacked all my clothes and got to thinking what a sad state my 'function' clothes are in. You know the clothes I need to wear to funerals, meetings, parties etc.

My biggest problem is that I'm smaller than I used to be and so now all my clothes hang off me. Ya I know boo hoo, but it's annoying. At one point I had enough classic pieces to keep me going, but I can't wear them anymore because they look super frumpy. Now I have a hard time justifying buying clothes like this because I'm at home with the kids.

When I am looking to buy, I typically go to Banana Republic or J.Crew, but I've been craving something a bit different. I always keep an eye out for clothes on Etsy and add them to my style board.

Honestly there's a lot of crap on there (like a lot - sorry Etsy designers), but there are also so many pieces of beautiful clothing. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to make your own clothing? One day I'll do this.

Until then I'll stick to Etsy.

This weekend I fell in love with a designer called Lirola. This shop is out of Israel and offers romantic clothing in a chic style you can wear every day.

I feel like these could be classic staples in your wardrobe lasting a lifetime and the fit would be perfect for any body type. She has a maternity line too (not that I need that right now!) So pretty.

What do you think? What's your wardrobe like these days?

Affiliate links are used in this post


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Watching: Orange is the New Black and Downton Abbey. Thankfully we're able to catch Downton sans cable because we get pretty close to going over our Internet allotment watching movies and Orange! I wasn't sure what Orange was about, but we really like it. It's quirky, fun and unexpected. Watch it!

Thinking about: The terrible threes. Yes threes. Leo is right into them and I need to learn how to handle them better. Those darn toddler hormones are getting the best of me!

Listening to: CBC Radio 2 mostly. I find the classical music during the day calming and I love the indie stuff during Shift and Drive. Leo loves it too and is getting quite the handle on guessing songs!

Reading: The Mistress of Nothing for my book club. Set in the in the late 1800s, it's about a woman who is too sick to live in the UK during the winter months so she travels with her lady's maid to Egypt to escape the cold with hopes of getting healthy. I'm not too far into it yet, but it's quite good so far.

Loving: That I'm able to stay home with the kids at this time in their lives. Leo goes to school in September full-time and I think I'm going to be lost without him home. Even though our days are crazy sometimes, I cherish this time I get with them.

Drinking: Tea! My sister gave me some delicious tea for Christmas and honestly it's some of the best I've had. One tea tastes like hot chocolate and the other was delicious lemon.

Eating: Lots of veggie stuff these days! I try to make something new every week.

Missing: Free time. One downside to staying home with the kids!

Looking forward to: Our trip to Florida. I'm not sure how hot it will be down there when we go, but it will be nice to get away and hit the beach!

Thanks to Sometimes Sweet & The Freckled Italian for the fun post idea.

Share the love

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I don't know what it is, but I love Valentine's Day. I don't love the tacky part of it, but I love red, hearts, flowers, special dinners. I know. I know. Every day should be about love and it is around here. There's just something about this day that I love.

I mean come on. Check out those heart patch pants up there? Are they not the cutest?

I put together some fun Valentine's Day things on my Etsy Favourites. Check them out and Share the Love.

*Affiliate links used in this post

Toddler leggings to headband

Monday, January 20, 2014

If you have a late walker (or even if you don't!) you might have some really cute leggings with dirt stains all over the knees. I have a few of them. I hate throwing stuff out like this, so I was trying to figure out what I could do with this pile of leggings I have hanging around.

Then I saw Mila's hair flopping in front of her eyes yet again and the thought came to me: headbands! 

Here's what I did (and get this - I didn't even look on Pinterest once to do this!)

Cut the pants into pieces.

This particular pair of pants had little bows on the bottom so I had to remove those first with a seam ripper. Once that was done, I cut the pants in two down the middle and the cut the hems off. I also cut along the sides to even out the pieces to make it easier to sew.

Stitch them up.

Once that was done, I laid the pieces out flat and stitched them together end-to-end. Fold the new piece length-wise and stitch it together right sides facing together. Turn the whole thing right-side out, flatten and then fold it over again making sure the sewn seam is in the middle of the band (above far right). Stitch the end. 

We have a headband! 

Since I had those two little bows, I decided to use them to cover up the seams. I wrapped them around the seams and hand-sewed them together at the back. You can also do this with some extra fabric if you have it.


Now the next test was to get it on Mila to model it long enough to take a picture. Success (for 10 seconds!)

I'm determined to get her to wear it for longer. We'll see about that. This kid seems to love having hair in her eyes I think.

PS- I'm not very good at following directions, thus I'm not too hot at giving them either. I apologize if you try this out and something doesn't make sense but if you sew it should be pretty straight forward. If not, ask any questions you have in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!

Cold-Fighting Teas

Saturday, January 18, 2014

I promise this isn't a sponsored post - I truly believe in this Cold 911 tea from DavidsTEA! I actually have to get more and an email today reminded me. A while back my sister gave me some as part of a tea sampler and  it really helped with getting rid of the cold symptoms I was having at the time.

I think this would be a great gift for anyone this season - almost everyone I know is sick right now. Bonus - they taste great! Get it here if you want some.

I love you more

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What a day my friends. 

It was one of those days where it felt like someone was constantly scratching their nails on a chalkboard the entire day, right beside my ear. The kids were crazy and, I'm not sure about you, but ever since I had them, my monthly womanly hormones make me feel like I have the ultimate city driving road rage (TMI? Ahh what the heck).

What was this post about?

Oh yes. I love you more. Right. Because even though my kids drive me batty sometimes, I really do love them. So around the holidays I decided to put something on the walls telling them so.

Ever since Leo could talk, we've been saying I love you more to him (an he to us) as part of his bedtime routine. It started off with "I love you more than fire trucks" but soon extended to include every member of his Lightning McQueen car posse, in addition to one of his garbage trucks. So we now have to say that we love him more than all of those things before he goes to bed. 

Anyway I made this print and thought it would be cute to put it on the wall as part of my ever growing little gallery going up the stairs. I have another little 'love' inspired project in the works too. More coming when I get time to do it ;).

Happy weekend.

Local or Organic: What's at Stake and Why it Matters

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

A friend of mine sent me this today and I thought I'd share on here. It's a question I ask myself all the time. Get more info here if you want to attend. I just signed up! 

On the menu this week

Monday, January 06, 2014

Photo credits from top left to bottom right: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

I just finished putting together my menu plan for this week and boy am I hungry all of a sudden! Thankfully my hubby just brought me in a brownie from my favourite brownie place so I'm good.

If you're like me, you're craving some lighter meals this week. Based on the photos, these seem like they'd be heavy, but the ingredients tell me they're quite light and healthy, while still maintaining the heartiness that we want during the winter months.




Potato and Kale Frittata (with roasted beets) from Serious Eats


What are you eating this week?

Twenty Fourteen: New Year. New Goals

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy New Year!

It's that time of year where I think about all my goals from 2013 and then divulge to you dear readers if I managed to accomplish them or not. So I looked back to my old goal post (har-har) and I realized something kind of weird: I managed to accomplished almost all of them! There were only four, but they were biggies.

A place for everything
Ok so this one isn't quite done, but I managed to figure most of it out. I reorganized my kitchen (the pics in the post are before pics!) last year so that it made more sense to me, bought some bins for the kids' toys and the linen closet upstairs, but there is still a lot of work to do. More on that later.

Go Veg
I managed to do this for the most part. We decided a few months in to add fish to the mix mostly because Mark was training for an Iron Man and needed a bit more protein. There are elite athletes who are veg and vegan, but it takes a lot of work and I'm already in the kitchen 90% of my day so decided to add fish instead.

Also I did have some regular 'ol meat a few times during the year. I really wanted a burger on my birthday and over the holidays I made a free-range organic turkey breast roll and decided to try it and it was freaking delicious so I ate more... At one of our family gatherings my cousin made a toutiere in honour of my grandmother and I felt that I should have some of that too :). But I don't cook meat at home usually and really, we only have fish once every two weeks or so... not often.

Become a better cook
I realized as I wrote this that this is a subjective accomplishment. I still have so much further to go to become the cook I want to be, but I feel like over this past year that cooking vegetarian (and a lot of the times vegan) dishes forced me to figure out how to make things taste better. Now there were a lot of times that things tasted like crap, but my husband still ate it and didn't complain (he's sweet that way).

Eating this way has become a way of life now and we'll continue to do it in this year. I may add in some more of that turkey though we'll see...

Get Leo potty-trained
My goal was to get this done in the first half of the year, which didn't happen, but it wasn't too much after that that the little guy was donning Lightening McQueen undies and peeing like a big boy. Ok it's not quite like a big boy... he either pees sitting down or kneels backwards on the toilet seat but it's in the toilet and not in his pants so I don't really care. He still wears a diaper to bed but wakes up most days with it dry, so I'm sure the nighttime undies will come soon enough.

So that was then - what's coming for 2014? Here's the biggie:

I'm giving up coffee.

You read that right. 

I'm actually tried to do this several times, but failed. The reason I failed is because I freaking love coffee and yes, it will be hard.

So why do it?

It's for health reasons. I have what are called fibro cysts and the caffeine makes them grow. I've also had a weird tender spot in my abdomen since Leo was born and it tends to feel different after I have some caffeine as well. No one can quite figure out what's going on in my abdomen after xrays, scans and ultrasounds so I figure why not try to eliminate some things to see if it helps. Funny enough I got a zillion different kinds of herbal teas over the holidays so I'm prepared (somewhat - who am I kidding). I might resort back to decaf coffee but we'll see.

So that's the biggie.

I've also been really struggling with having too much 'stuff'. It's just freaking everywhere. This feeling is likely a result of having kids and the stuff that comes with them but I'm starting to wonder if it's all necessary. Why do we need all of this stuff?

This year I'm going to go room-by-room and get rid of anything that doesn't really have a meaning for me or that isn't useful. I'm going to be cut-throat.

I'm feeling the need to clean house, pare down, get rid of it. Simplify. (This seems to be a growing trend in the blogosphere!) (I should start with this post - it's getting a bit wordy!)

Those are the two big ones friends. That's what I'm focussing on. There will be other things like taking an online class or two, working on getting back into working (freelance... I'm working on a proper website!) and trying to be more conscious of my surroundings and how I live my life.

What are your goals this year?
Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground