Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Back To Working Out

Today's post is one that I think many people can relate to (or so I hope). Awhile ago one of my reader's requested a post on how to get back into being fit again. I think we can all agree that fitness has become an increasingly popular trend lately. Whether it's just sporting some athleisure clothing, attending cardio kick boxing, trying out a barre class, sweating in a spin class, or attempting a new yoga post it's all over social media. 

For me fitness has pretty much always been a part of my life. I have played sports since a young age, so I was always used to running and doing ab workouts. The older I got, the more I trained for my main sport-field hockey. I would spend much of my time running in order to enter each season in the best shape possible. It was never something I enjoyed, but it was something I always did to prevent myself from being punished. If I wasn't in shape, then I'd have to do more running as a punishment for not being in shape. This was a decent source of motivation, but over the years it minimized any pleasure I got from running.  During my freshman year of college, I learned how to correctly lift weights and complete other exercises to enhance my field hockey performance. I enjoyed working out, but I definitely didn't love how muscular my legs became. My sophomore year of college, I began playing field hockey just for fun not to compete at the collegiate level.  I chose to continue running by training for and completing a half marathon. The training as well as the race itself hurt my body, so after that I took a few years off from working out or running on a daily basis. I'd go to the gym from time to time, but I definitely wasn't doing anything consistency. 

This summer I decided I was finally ready to workout for my own happiness. I realized that I needed to start being healthier as well as happier, and I thought working out would help me achieve these two things. So how did I get back into working out? It definitely wasn't easy at first and some weeks I'm better about it than others, but below you will find some things that have helped me get back on the fitness train again. 

Set Goals
I'm a huge goal setter, so this part was a no brainer for me. Something that doesn't work for me is setting a goal to lose X amount of pounds. Center a goal based on weight loss brings too many negative feelings for me.  Instead, I think it's better to set goals like working out five times a week, lifting X amount of weight doing a certain exercise, running a mile in a certain time, or signing up for a race that is a few months away. When you first get back into working out, short term goals are your friend. Sure long term goals are great, but setting goals for a shorter period of time allows you to feel more accomplished. 

Make sure your diet fits your fitness goals
By no means do you need to go on a diet just because you're going to the gym again. However, you do need to be aware of what and how you are fueling your body. If your goal is to get abs, then it is important to know that abs are really made in the kitchen.  If you are not fueling your body properly, then you will lack the energy to have quality workouts and have a productive day. 

Realize how long it takes to see and feel results
Sure you might have a strand of great workouts, but you aren't necessarily going to see immediate results. Be patient with yourself.  They say it takes about four weeks for you to start noticing a change, about eight weeks for those you're close with to notice, and about twelve weeks for everyone else to see the progress you've made. 

In the beginning, consider a single workout as progress
It's going to be difficult when you first start working out again. You're going to be really sore, you might be disappointed that you can't lift as much or run as far as you once did. It's important not to beat yourself up over these things, and to be proud of every workout you do. 

Accountability Partner
Everything is more fun with a friend, including working out.  Regardless of your fitness level, a workout buddy is a great source of motivation.  This person might be someone you go running with, attend barre with, compete against in your weekly Fitbit challenges, or it might just be someone you share your fitness goals with. You and your partner don't necessarily have to be in the same location doing the same workout at the same time. This person could just be someone you check in with to share your progress, or someone who provides you with motivation on those days when you really want to skip your workout.  For me, my workout buddy is my mom. She's working on becoming more fit. We don't always do the same workout, but we motivate each other to keep moving forward with our fitness efforts. 

Switch It Up
Don't do the same thing all the time. If you're like me, then maybe you got burnt out of working out because you did the same thing over and over again. Make sure you change things up each week. Participate in workouts that are fun for you. This might be trying a new fitness class, trying a new exercise out, running at different locations, etc.  This summer I've switched it up by joining a gym and attending several yoga classes. 

As you get back into workout, it is important to be aware of your body and how you are feeling.  Take the time to stretch after each workout.  Flexibility helps with injury prevention.  Be sure to stretch any muscles that might be sore. For me, yoga has been helping me stretch have I run. 

Make sure you're drinking enough water. Most workouts will make you sweat more, which means you'll need to replenish your body with water. If you need tips on how to stay hydrated check out this post I wrote earlier this month.

Do a one month challenge
Completing a one month challenge can be a great way to jump start you're re-dedication to fitness. This is a great way to hold yourself accountable and it provides you with a month long workout plan. You'll find lots of variations of these on Pinterest.  

Do it for nobody other than YOU
This is the most important piece of advice I have. It's so so so important to choose to change your fitness habits or lack there of because you want to become the best version of yourself. If you're working out to impress others, then you're going to end up have negative feelings toward working out. Realize how good working out makes you feel as well as the positive results, and allow these things to motivate you to continue on your fitness journey. If you think about it, it's actually really cool how you have the power to sculpt your body into whatever you want it to be. Now take that power and become the best version of yourself that you can possibly be. 

Best of luck on your fitness journey!

Monday, August 29, 2016

September Goals

{Image via}

This week we enter a new month of 2016, September. They say that September is just an extension of summer.  The weather might still be hot and sunny and my summer wardrobe might still be worn throughout the month.  However, if I look at my calendar I definitely am not getting those care free summer vibes.  My September is quickly filling up with day of teaching, afternoons of coaching, field hockey games under the lights, back to school night, a celebration and a possible weekend trip or two. Looking ahead at the month makes me wish I was away carefree in Vermont again. Unfortunately, I can't be an ostrich and put my head in the sand to pretend like summer isn't over.  I thought some goals were necessary in order to conquer this busy month. 

One:workout five times a week
I think this is definitely doable, but I'm definitely going to need some motivation and self discipline.  I've been doing this for the past three weeks now, but this week my schedule starts to get busier so this becomes more challenging.  I'm going to have to become a night time workout person rather than the early morning gym goer. 

Two: publish 15 posts
A few weeks ago I shared that I will be posting three times a week in order to produce quality posts rather than quantity during my busy semester. My hope is to publish three posts a week plus an extra one or two.  I have been working hard to create my editorial calendar a month at a time and drafting posts a week in advance, so I think this will be an achievable goal.  I am thinking of dedicating a few hours each Sunday to draft my posts. 

Three: create a new 101 list
On September 30th my 101 in 1001 list comes to an end. I certainly have not completed my list, but I got a decent amount of items checked off of it. I think I made my list a little bit of a reach to complete.  I'm in the process of creating a new list, which I hope to begin sometime in October. This time around, I'm being more realistic about what I can and cannot do given my budget and time limits. 

Four: create professional website
In three and a half months I will be graduating college and searching for a big girl job. I've heard from so many people how difficult it can be to land a teaching job fresh out of college. I'm working to differentiate myself from other candidates in order to hopefully increase my chances of getting a job. I'd like to create a professional website that has a digital version of my resume, some lessons I've planned and taught, my letters of recommendation, and more information. 

Five: establish a morning routine
This is something that I think will make my life so much easier if I can achieve it.  I will have to leave my house by 6 am each morning, so I think having a smooth morning will lead to more successful days.  I'm hoping to have time to get ready and eat a sit down breakfast each morning before leaving more my hour commute to the school I'll be teaching out. I'm working on becoming an early morning person, but I certainly do not have it perfected just yet. I'd love any tips and tricks you guys have!

What are your goals for September?

Friday, August 26, 2016

School Supplies for Student Teaching

Tis the season for back to school.  This Fall's back to school preparations are a little different for me than ever before.  I'm not preparing for a semester filled with five to seven classes, exams, flashcards to use for studying, nor having anxiety attack over how pricy textbooks are.  Instead, I'm preparing to meet the seventy plus students I'll be teaching for the next three and a half months.  Needless to say that the supplies I need are much different. I had some trouble figuring out what tools I would need to successfully navigate my way through this semester's adventures. I guess I won't really know if I have the essentials until I'm in the midst of teaching.  

I decided to purchase a notebook that I would use to take notes about student teaching, jot down things that are working well as well as those that aren't, make to do lists, tips and tricks of the teaching profession, write funny stories about my encounters with middle schoolers, and things I learn in my weekly seminars. 

I'm required to keep a binder filled with all of my lesson plans I create throughout student teaching. I'm sure this will fill up pretty quickly. 

Washi Tape
I will be teaching two different types of classes, so I'm planning to use the two different colored rolls of tape to help me color coordinate the classes. I'm thinking I'll probably use the tape for the monthly calendar more than anything else. 

Pens and Pencils
This one is a given. I have lots of black and blue pens to use for planning and writing to do lists.  My favorite color ink is purple, so I bought a bunch of purple pens to use for grading.  A fun fact about me is that I hate red ink. It makes me feel very negative, which is why I don't grade students' papers in red ink.

What student doesn't love to see a sticker on an assignment they did really well on?
I may or may not have a little DIY post coming up about these. Stay tuned for more details!

Yes, I meant to say agendas plural as in I have two agendas. I'm unsure how this is going to workout, but I thought I'd give it a try. I have a jumbo agenda to use for student teaching and a large agenda for blogging as well as my personal life.  I purchased the jumbo agenda back in May. It's a 2015-2016 agenda, so I got it at a discounted rate. I intend to use this to help me with lesson planning and school related tasks.  

I bought a vertical notepad four years ago when I left for college. This summer I finally finished up with all of the papers it came with. I like to use these to make my lists on. The narrow paper allows for less paper to be wasted when making any type of list. 

Binder Clips and Paper Clips
I have tons of these from the past four years, but I also bought an adorable set of gold and white patterned ones. These are great for keeping track of different class' assignments.  I also like to use them to attach my to do lists to my agenda. 

Post-it Notes
I am kind of obsessed with these. I have them in all different shapes and sizes. I use them for to do lists, to label things, to help me plan lessons, as bookmarks, and to write reminders to myself. I think most teachers, student teachers, and students would agree that using post-it notes is an essential for back to school supplies. 

Clip Board
Every teach has their own organization methods. I like to use my clipboard to organize myself each day. I keep seating charts, grade charts, and an overview of the day's lessons on it. I also like to use a clipboard to help me take notes as I walk around the room observing the students during their independent practice time. 

I got most of my supplies from Target, Marshall's, Dollar General and Walmart. I thought I'd share with you some great places for some of the back to school essentials




Other Essentials

What are your back to school essentials this year?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kitchen Adventures: Frogmore

This is hands down one of my favorite summer meals. Don't ask me about the name because I have no idea why we call it this, but I can promise you it has nothing to do with frogs. It's very simple to make and quite fun to eat! Growing up this was a meal that we would have a week or two before school started. It has always been something that we did as a family and over the years we have began to share it with friends too. Since I went back to college, this meal has transitioned into a summer meal rather than a back to school meal because we all started school at different times.

My mom usually cooks the meal in a very large pot. We cover the table with a plastic table cloth, and once the food is finished cooking we dump the pot of food out onto the table and eat it with our hands. Most of it is pick food, so utensils aren't really necessary.  This year we didn't have a table cloth, so we put it on a serving tray and ate it on plates.

2-3 pounds of shrimp
 6 ears of corn on the cob
2 packages of kielbasa or your favorite type of sausage
Redskin potatoes (about 3 per person)
1-2 cups of Ole Bay
1 loaf od Italian bread
1 stick of butter
Thousand Island dressing

Fill a large stock pot 2/3 full with water and ole bay. Bring the combination to a boil.

When the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes and cook them for about 20 minutes. You should be able to easily pierce the potatoes with a fork, once they are cooked.

Add the kielbasa and let the water boil without being covered. This should take about five minutes.

Add the corn and continue to cook the food. The corn will need to cook for about 13 minutes, so you will want to set a timer. It's best if the corn is cut in half before placed into the boiling water.

Add the shrimp when the corn has about six minutes left. Once the shrimp turn pink, then you will know they are cooked all the way.

Drain the mixture in a large colander.

Pour the mixture onto a covered table or serving platter and sprinkle with additional ole bay seasoning.

Optional Extras:
Bread and Butter
The meal pairs nicely with sliced Italian bread and butter. The ole bay can be a bit spicy, so the bread helps to cool down your mouth.

Thousand Island Dressing
This is known as Timmy's Sauce if you choose to make it by hand. The dressing is perfect to dip the shrimp and kielbasa in.

If you're 21, then I recommend pairing a nice cold beer with the meal.  We chose to pair the meal with Corona and limes this summer. The beer was refreshing after eating lots of ole bay seasoning.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Conquering the Lilly After Party Sale

In case you didn't know, the Lilly Pulitzer After Party Sale is today beginning at 8 a.m.  Last year I got a ton of great items for my mom and myself.  However, this year I have decided not to shop the sale. I've collected quite the number of Lilly Pulitzer items the past few years, so I'm pretty satisfied with my current Lilly filled summer wardrobe. I am working on saving money for adult things like a car and moving out of my parents' house, so dropping a few hundred bucks on the sale isn't in the budget for me. I also feel like if I spend any money on clothes it should be Fall and Winter items rather than more summer clothes that I will only wear for another month and a half. We will see how good my self control is because I said I won't be logging on even just to browse, and if you know me then you know that I'm pretty much a shopaholic.

You may or may not know already, but Lilly Pulitzer rarely has large sales... in fact they only occur three times a year (June- Warehouse Sale, August, and January).  Due to the low frequency of the sale there is always a lot of hype surrounding it.  You have to be strategic about your shopping and it helps if you know some of the secrets to conquering the sales, especially the online ones. I have a few tips to help you out, in case you didn't shop the sale yet or are waiting in the over an hour long line. 

Create an account
If you're able to, it's always best to create an online account ahead of time. It speeds up your checkout process. You can also save your billing information to make the check out process even quicker!

Once you're in the virtual line, DO NOT HIT REFRESH!
This is probably the biggest thing you need to know. It can be annoying waiting in line and sometimes it moves pretty slowly.  It is tempting to hit the refresh button to see if anything will change, but I'm warning you that you will regret it. Hitting the refresh button will take you to the very back of the line. 

Know Your Size
It's important to know your size because all items purchased during the After party sale are final sale, which means there's no returning.

Have a Positive Attitude
Just like anything you do, there are things that might frustrate you about this sale. There's a chance that you might not get the item you've been lusting over. You might get jealous that your frenemy was able to log on and claims to have gotten everything she's been wanting from Lilly while you're still patiently waiting in the virtual line. Being optimistic through the whole shopping process will make it much more enjoyable. After all, who can be grumpy when shopping at Lilly?

Self Control
We all know that Lilly Pulitzer items rarely go on sale. It can be quite tempting to go a little overboard when shopping the online sale. Try to make a budget and stick to it. You don't want to regret over spending your money on items that you won't be able to wear much longer since the summer season is coming to a close.

Best of luck shopping!


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Your Guide to Sorority Recruitment

In case you're new to my blog or somehow missed my posts from the past three years, I was (still kinda am...since I haven't graduated quite yet) a proud member of Greek Life at my school. Four years ago I definitely could not imagine that I'd be saying that, but here I am a sorority woman. 
Greek Life definitely isn't for everybody, but I don't think you can be judgmental of it until you have given it a chance. 

Sorority recruitment can definitely be an overwhelming thing.  No matter how many blog posts you read, pinterest pins you have, or how great your outfits are I don't think you can ever be fully prepared for recruitment.  It's important to remember as you read all of these things that recruitment is a little or a lot different from school to school. My recruitment experiences in eastern Pennsylvania definitely differed from my friends who go to larger schools down south. With that being said, my tips for recruitment are based on my personal experiences, so don't let them intimidate you or get frustrated if they differ from something else you've read or experienced. 

Before I share my tips, I thought I'd share a brief synopsis of my recruitment story.  In August of 2013, I transferred from my dream school to a state school that I wasn't in love with. I was struggling to become involved on campus, and quite frankly I wasn't really motivated to join any organizations. My mom being a sorority woman, encouraged me give Greek Life a chance. I was incredibly apprehensive, but agreed to give the recruitment process a chance. When I went through recruitment, there were eight sororities on campus. The format of recruitment was two days of open house rounds, philanthropy night, and preference. I missed the second night of open house rounds due to the stomach bug, so I missed the opportunity to meet half of the sororities on campus (this definitely limited me). I went through philanthropy round and was definitely feeling hesitant. During the first night of open house round I attended a session about a sorority that would be colonizing on campus immediately after formal recruitment ended. I decided to drop out of recruitment to go through this new chapter's recruitment process. Long story short, I ended up joining Alpha Delta Pi as a founding sister and absolutely loved (almost) every moment of it. If you want to read more about my experiences, check out my links at the bottom of this post. 

Be Yourself
This is one of the most important things. It's easy to become something you're not during the recruitment process. You may want to join a specific chapter, so you try to act or dress a certain way to impress them. Definitely do not do that. Answer all questions truthfully and don't try to be someone that you are not. The whole process will work out much better if you allow the Panhellenic women to get to know the real version of who you are. 

Take notes
The weeks leading up to recruitment, I'm sure you will be keeping an eye on what the Panhellenic women on campus act like.  Sure these things are important, but it's more important to form your opinions during actually meeting these women in the recruitment process. Meeting all the different sororities can be a bit confusing, so try to take as many notes as possible. The more notes you take the easier it will be to select the chapter you want to run home to on bid day. When taking notes, it might be helpful to jot down the names of the women you meet, several positives you liked, and several negatives that you didn't enjoy. 

Form Your Own Opinions
It can be easy to get caught up in all of the rankings, what other potential new members are saying, and what you hear on campus. Try to make your own judgements on what each sorority is like and if they would be the best fit for you. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what anybody else says about the chapter because you have to be the one to want to spend time with them. 

Always Be Positive
When mass amounts of women get together, it can be easy to go down the negative road. However, it is important to avoid this route during recruitment. The days are going to be long, there might be things that you don't like, and it's easy to get frustrated when the process doesn't work out as you had imagined it would. Having a positive attitude will make the whole process much more pleasant for both you and the people you're close to.

Trust the Process
The recruitment process is incredibly unique. It's really unlike any other life experiences I've ever had. At most schools, almost every woman is matched with a chapter. Each school's recruitment process looks a little different, but there are so many similarities at the heart of it. You might get frustrated or discouraged at times because things aren't going as you wished, but you just have to trust the process. Things happen for a reason- you just don't always know the exact reason at that given time.

Be Inquisitive
Each chapter you visit will want to know about you. It can be easy for the sorority women to dominate the conversation, in order for them to get to know you and decide if you would be a good fit for their chapter. However, you should be in control of the process since you get to make the decision too.  Don't be afraid to ask questions about aspects of their chapter you are curious about. It's important that you feel comfortable and are knowledgable too.

Take Care of Yourself
The whole process definitely has the potential to be a long roller coaster filled with emotions. Depending on how your school has set up recruitment it could be spread across two weeks, take up a long weekend, or be during the week at night.  Regardless of the format, your health is important. Be sure to eat well, drink enough water, and get enough rest to fuel your days.

Choose Your Outfits in Advance
As far as what is and isn't appropriate to wear you'll have to talk to your recruitment counselor. This definitely changes from campus to campus.  Picking out your outfits in advance will give you one less thing to stress about when recruitment finally rolls around. The last thing you would want is to be late to an event because of a wardrobe malfunction. When picking out your outfits, remember that you will want to be cute, comfortable, slightly modest, and confident.  This means if those wedges you have give you blisters, then you might want to reconsider your shoe choice.  Also when you're picking out your outfits, don't be afraid to be yourself.  Wear clothes that resemble your style rather than clothes that you think a given sorority would wear.

Best of luck!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Looking Ahead

Hello! I hope you enjoyed the mini back to college series last week. Lots of changes are in store over the next month, so I thought I'd share with you a small life update and what is going on as I take a look ahead. 

Back To School and Blogging Changes
Tis the season for back to school shenanigans. Some of you might be headed back to college, beginning your first year of college, starting another year of teaching, sending your kids back to school again, headed off for another year of high school, or headed to work but wishing you could be back at school again.  Regardless of your status, back to school is definitely a hot topic right now.  Mid August is always the time the adorable school supplies are advertised everywhere you look and people everywhere are preparing for a fresh start. For me, back to school this Fall means my last semester of being an undergraduate college student.  I'll be spending my final semester student teaching at a semi-local middle school.  This means I'll be learning the final tricks of the trade before I have my own classroom. I will basically be teaching all day everyday with a little help from the actual classroom teacher.  I'm so excited to start this new journey, although it's definitely going to be a big transition. I'll be leaving the house by 6 each morning and by the time I get done coaching field hockey and going to the gym it will be after seven at night. Needless to say my free time is definitely going to be minimal. After a ton of thinking, I've decided that quality is much more important than quantity.
 Moving forward I'll be publishing posts three times a week
 (most likely a Monday/Wednesday/Friday format). 
 I just think it will be better to blog consistently rather than sporadically. In the past, I tend to go MIA during the semesters and I don't want to do that to you guys this time around. 

Fitness Goals
This summer I have definitely been more focused on becoming fit again.  The past two weeks I have definitely stepped it up.  I've joined the gym and have been going five days a week. As life gets busier, my goal is to continue to make it there five days a week. I've been loving the energy I have more recently. The gym is closed next week due to some upgrades, so I'm looking forward to trying out some new classes once they re-open. I'm thinking of trying barre and spin, but I'd love to hear what your favorite fitness classes are! I also think I see a few 5Ks in my future too. 

Field Hockey Season
Something I don't talk about that much here on the blog is my passion for field hockey. I've been playing for over eleven years now (I even played a year in college). The sport is a big part of my life. If you don't quite get why I love it so much, then turn on your TV tomorrow and watch the men's and women's semi final games. Anyways, I have been coaching for four years now- some of it has been volunteering and some has been paid.  Yesterday I began my fourth year as a volunteer coach at a local high school. I'm excited to see what the season has in store, and all that the girls will teach me this season. It's always an adventure working with 30+ teenage girls. One of my favorite parts of coaching for this team are the two women I coach with. They are strong women who empower me to be the best possible version of myself. 

Becoming a Morning Person
For the next four months I'll be getting up super early, so I'm working on becoming a better morning person. I love the mornings, but I need to work on utilizing my time better and waking up when my alarm goes off the first time. If you're also looking to become more of a morning person, I found some articles to help us out. 

Have a fabulous day!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Get Involved in College

One of the biggest pieces of advice I have for college students is to get involved.  It's important to become involved as soon as you  possibly can. Obviously take the time to figure out what organizations are best for you, but try to do so within the first few weeks of school.  It's never too late to get involved, but the earlier you do so the more benefits you will receive.  Being involved has a significant amount of positives. 

Meet New People
When you join a new organization you are able to branch out and meet new people you might not have encountered.  The people you will meet will provide you with multiple perspectives on things, which broadens your horizons.  Additionally, college is all about networking. The more people you make connections with the better. This will come in handy later on in life when you're searching for a job.  Also, meeting new people can lead to new friendships. 

Resume Builder
This is definitely an obvious reason to become involved. Going to college is all about working to better yourself in order to prepare for your future career. Sure a degree is great to have, but you definitely will need more than a bachelors degree on your resume. Getting involved will provide you with experience and skills that will help boost your resume. 

Leadership Experience

Every organization has some type of leadership because some body or several people have to run it to a certain degree.  The earlier you get involved in an organization, the more likely you will be to seek out leadership opportunities. Additionally, larger organizations like greek life will send you away for leadership training opportunities.  I am a huge fan of leadership. I think it teaches you a lot about yourself and how to cooperate with others. There are is a large range of leadership positions from small ones that require more behind the scenes work to larger ones such as President that require lots of behind the scenes work in addition to dealing with others and being the face of the organization.  You can never have too much leadership experience.

New Experiences
Part of college is breaking out of your comfort zone. Joining a new organization will definitely bring you out of your comfort zone at some point. It could be through having a difficult conversation, learning to get along with someone who has an opposite personality as you, going some place new, doing philanthropic work or learning a new skill.  You also could meet a new friend who might take you somewhere fascinating you've never been. Joining an organization will definitely provide you with these new experiences.

Budgeting Your Time Wisely
When you add an additional meeting or activity to your daily schedule your free time decreases. One of the great things about being involved is that it teaches you how to budget your time in order to balance the organizations your involved with, eating, studying, going to class, working out, and socializing.  Time management is a skill that will help you throughout the rest of life, so the earlier you can start mastering it the better.

During college I got pretty involved. My freshman year I played varsity field hockey and was an active member of Colleges Against Cancer. From sophomore through senior year of college I was involved with coaching field hockey, a founding member of my sorority, and a member of an honors society for education majors. I held numerous leadership positions during those four years and through my involvement I met friends I will have for a lifetime, attended four leadership conferences, countless hours of leadership training, travelled to three different states, learned how to have difficult conversation, gained knowledge on how to be an effective leader, had no choice but to be good with my time management skills, and created many memories.

As you head off to school this semester, think about getting involved!
If you're returning back to college, then I'd love to hear what your favorite part about being involved is.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Textbooks the Affordable Way

As if paying for tuition did not cost enough, now you have to think about how you are going to get your textbooks for the semester.   Most campuses are going to try to convince you to purchase or rent all of your books from their bookstore.  They will claim to have the cheapest prices, but I can almost guarantee you that you can find your books for cheaper from somewhere else.  

I know everybody has their own theory on buying or not buying textbooks, so I want to be up front and share that everything in this post is just what has worked for me best throughout the past four and a half years. I've tried many different methods: buying books 100% new from the campus store, waiting to see if I actually need a book until I get the syllabus, renting books, using e-books, etc. I've found it best to order books about three weeks before heading to campus and having them shipped to your home.  Yes, you run the risk of not needing the book. However, in my experiences it's been easier to sell the book I didn't need rather than fall behind in a class that I didn't have a book for. 

First you will need to head over to your campus bookstore website and find the tab that says textbooks. Using your course schedule, enter in the information for your course abbreviation, class number, and section number. For example, if I was taking History 101 it would appear as HIS 101-03. The course abbreviation would be HIS, the course number would be 101, and the section would be 03.  You will have to do this for every class. After doing so, it will give you a list of the books that you need. 

Each book will have a price and a number with the letters ISBN in front. These ISBN numbers are important because they are going to help you find the book for cheaper elsewhere. 

Open a new tab on your computer and go to Once you get to this site, you will need to copy and paste the ISBN number for the first book you need into the search bar. After doing so, the search will pull up the cheapest version of the book to rent and buy from multiple companies. I suggest choosing the cheapest company. 

Once you choose a company, read the description to make sure the used book you are purchasing isn't too used. I look for phrases like "gently used" and "like new". At this point, you have the option to rent or buy a book. I suggest buying all books that are related to your major.  Books for general ed classes should be rented because you will not need them once you've passed the class. 

Select the book you want and add it to your cart. This is when you will return back to and go through the same process for the rest of your books.  This process takes a little bit more time, but it ends up saving you lots of money. 

After you have purchased all of your books, you want to make a spreadsheet to keep track of all of your books. It's important to track your spending, when each book arrives, and if you rented it you'll need to know when to return it. See my sample below.


Other Tips:
+ If you are taking an online class, then I suggest purchasing an e-book. It will help you do keyword searches to seek out certain information.  

+ If you purchase an ebook, then you will want to have some sort of tablet. It makes it easier to navigate. 

+Renting books from Chegg has given me the best experiences. This company allows you to write in the books as much as you need to, and if you decide to keep the book rather than return it they give it to you at a discounted price. 

+If you have friends in a class, try to split the cost of the books by sharing them. 

+Before purchasing the books, see if you can borrow or purchase them from a friend who has already taken the class.

+Order your books three weeks before classes start to make sure you have them in time. 

Best of luck! 
If you have any questions, feel free to email me. 


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ways to Decorate on a Budget

The first few weeks are crunch time for many college bound students. Everyone is running around trying to get the finishing touches for their new dorm room, apartment, house, etc. The decor in your college living space can really make this place feel like home for you. Sure, you probably have pinned beautiful rooms that you'd love to recreate in your own space, but let's face it- on a college that just is not going to happen. Today I'm sharing some things you can do to on a college budget to decorate your living space to make it feel homey and look adorable. 

Gallery Wall
These can take up as little or large space as you'd like.  All you need are a few frames and prints. The frames can be as cheap as a few dollars at your local dollar store or you can spend about $10 on a frame from IKEA.  When it comes to the images in your frames, you can stick to something simple like framing your favorite print from the latest Lilly Pulitzer catalog or a photograph you have actually taken.  There are also some great easy websites that you can use. I found a few of the items on my gallery wall pre-framed at Home Goods for less than $10. 

Crafty Wall Art
Spend some time completing a little DIY project. There are tons of tutorials out there to help guide you through creating your own pieces.  If you browse pinterest you will be overwhelmed with inspiration. This is a great way to incorporate your university, sorority, hometown, favorite quotes, etc. into your room.  Last year I painted a canvas with my sorority letters on it. The fun piece was a grade addition to my room.  

Surprise, I'm obsessed with monograms. Adding a monogram to your room decor is an easy way to personalize your room. You could purchase a wooden monogram to hang on the wall, a sticker to place on a wall, or get crafty to design your own creation. Last year, I recycled my Lilly Pulitzer agenda and covered a wooden letter with it.  

Comfy Cozy Bed
A comfortable bed is probably the most important thing when it comes to your college bedroom.  I value sleeping and being comfortable while doing so.  You want to be sure to have a mattress topper on your bed.. it will make sleeping so much better. Have some fun with decorating your bed, since it will  take up the most space in your room. Play around with the color scheme you are using. There are lots of sheets and duvet covers you can use to spice up the room.  It's also important to have a comfortable throw blanket. A well made put together bed will really put the finishing touches on your college room. 

Throw pillows
 You can never have too many pillows on your bed. The more pillows the more comfortable. Throw pillows are a fun way to spice up your room. You can find cheap pillows in various colors, patterns, and quotes at Target or TJ Maxx. 

Desk Accessories
You go to college to learn and develop skills to help you have a career. Needless to say a desk should be an essential piece of furniture in your college space.  The library, the living room couch, and the kitchen table aren't always the most distraction free areas to complete your school work, which is why I put so much emphasis on having a desk.  Your desk should be an inspiring place for you to feel motivated to study, write that term paper, or learn something new. A desk can be a large piece of furniture, which is why it is important to decorate it carefully.  A desk lamp, a pen holder, and filing system of some sort are definitely essentials. You can play around with different textures, colors, and patterns to make this area fun.  I also recommend getting a comfortable chair since you'll be spending lots of time in it. Last year I got this cute chair cover from IKEA. 

Plants are great to have in your bedroom. They make for a great decor piece when paired with an adorable pot. They also purify the air in the room. There are lots of plants that are easy to care for, which would be perfect in a college room.  You can find cute pots at places like Walmart, Target, Ikea, Home Goods, Pier 1, Anthropologie etc. 

Area Rug
This isn't a must, but it can make a cold space feel more homey. Head over to your local carpet store and ask if they have any cheap remnants you can purchase. Having a rug allows for a more comfortable spot for friends to sleep when they come to visit too. 

Best of luck deccorating!


Monday, August 8, 2016

The Ultimate Packing List for the Dorms

This post primarily is for college freshmen as this packing list is for the college bound student living in the dorms. Leaving for your first year of college can be very overwhelming. There's so much that you need to buy, but where do you even start.  It's August, your weeks away from leaving the place you've called home for possibly your entire life, and the anxiety is definitely becoming more real.  I can't say I am sharing those same feelings with you right now, but four years I was definitely the girl experiencing all of these things. 

Packing for college can be so overwhelming. There are so many different lists out there of what people say you "need", but it is hard to tell what you need and what you can do with out. Having gone through the same experiences, I'm here to help make your weeks leading up to college and your college transition much easier. I am the oldest child in my family, so when I was entering college we really had no idea what I needed.  This list includes everything you will need with the exception of clothing. The items on this list might sound silly, but I can promise you they are the essentials.  

I suggest doing some browsing before committing to buying anything. Shop around to find the best prices for what you need. I found that Bed, Bath, and Beyond was sometimes more pricy for certain items but cheaper for others. I recommend doing some back to school shopping at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Target, The Christmas Tree Shop, T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and Pottery Barn Teen (they have great duvet covers). 

Best of luck shopping!

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Weekend in DC

Last August I spent a weekend in Washington, DC with my family. However, due to the craziness I came back to (decorating my apartment, prepping for sorority recruitment, and getting ready for school) I never got to share my post about it with you guys. There's so many different things you can do in the area, so I thought I would put together my itinerary of a weekend in DC.  If you're planning a trip it could come in handy.

Day One:
Check into hotel
If you're looking for something bit more affordable, then look for hotels that aren't right in Georgetown or DC. We snagged a great deal at a hotel in Arlington, VA right across from The Pentagon.  The hotel was a five minute walk from a metro station, so once we parked out car in the garage we didn't need it until we left to go home. 

Brunch is a great place to start with any trip.  Since we were staying on a weekend, there were tons of brunch options. We opted for a place in downtown Georgetown called J. Paul's.  I had the crab eggs Benedict and mimosa. They had a great deal on weekend mimosas.

After brunch we walked around town and browsed a few of the shops. There's so much great shopping's a little dangerous for a college bank account.

Georgetown Cupcakes 
We couldn't resist walking around Georgetown without making a pitstop at the famous Georgetown Cupcake store.  We waited a half hour in a line that went around the block.  Who would've ever thought people would wait that long for a single cupcake. These cupcakes are definitely worth the wait. I had one of their summer specials- lemon raspberry.

We've never taken an extended family trip to DC, so we had lots of options for exploring. We had a list of things that we wanted to do and see, but on our walk from Georgetown to DC we did a little exploring. We walked past the Greek houses at George Washington University. This campus was really pretty and had nice housing for the sororities. My mom and I both found our respective sorority and took a typical sorority girl picture next to each of them. Since it was the summer we didn't run into any fellow sisters.

National Mall 
It was really hot and crowded when we got here. It was a bit overwhelming deciding where to go first since that was our first time there. We walked around all the great sights here (World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Constitution Gardens, and the Washington Monument). There was so much to see and learn about. We enjoyed our Georgetown Cupcakes on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial that overlooked the reflecting pool.  We also walked to the Whitehouse and saw it. After spending several hours here, we wandered through the streets of DC and found a metro station to catch the metro back to Arlington.

Did you really see the Whitehouse, if you didn't take a selfie?

Pizza at the hotel
After a long hot day, we weren't in the mood to get dressed up for dinner. We were all tired, so we opted to order pizza to our hotel.  As plain as pizza can be, sometimes its fun to try out different places. I've found that different places across the United States have different types of pizza.

Day Two:
Breakfast at the hotel
Our hotel didn't have a complimentary continental breakfast, but it did have a Starbucks and small cafe.  We ate breakfast here. I had a parfait and an iced coffee to jumpstart the day.  After breakfast, we walked to the metro station and caught the next ride into DC. After getting off the metro, we headed towards the direction we thought the Newseum was.. turns out we walked in the opposite direction for thirty minutes. (Looking back it was actually kinda funny).

We spend several hours touring the Newseum. It was easily one of my favorite things we did on the trip.  The museum is dedicated to free expression and the five freedoms of the first amendment. It's an interactive museum with a focus on communication, historical news events, and the evolution of technology.  There are exhibits on 9/11, dogs of the Whitehouse, Civil Rights, the Berlin Wall, CNN Politics, a journalist memorial, news cooperation history, Pulitzer prize photography, Vietnam, today's news front pages, and much more.  The top of the museum has a terrace that provides you with an excellent view of the city. We laughed our tour with a free viewing of a 4-D movie. This was an experience I was apprehensive about, but I absolutely loved the interactive film about news reporting during Vietnam. If you're planning a trip to DC, then I highly recommend adding this to your itinerary despite the small entrance fee.

By the time we finished up at the museum, it was early afternoon. We grabbed a snack at Le Pain and then began walking around the city. We walked  through several cute parks, past the Smithsonian and other museums, and took in the all fabulous architecture that DC has to offer.

We found a great spot to go paddle boating that allowed us to boat around a basin of water in front of the Jefferson Memorial.  Tidal Basin Paddle Boating allows for reservations, but luckily we didn't need one. My mom and I enjoyed riding around the small boat, while my dad and brother paddled us around the basin. It was a hot day, but we had a lot of fun getting to see DC from a different view.

Dinner in Georgetown 
After paddle boating we walked back to Georgetown.  The previous day we had seen lots of restaurants that we wanted to try. My mom had read great reviews about a burger place, so we decided to try it out.  Thunder Burger definitely did not disappoint. We spent a couple hours chatting at dinner and enjoying our burgers as well as a few drinks. I had the best Gin & Tonics there. For dinner I opted for the Love Me Tender Burger. After dinner, we caught the nearest metro back to our hotel where we watched a movie and went to sleep.

Day Three:
Checkout of hotel
This was our last day, so we checked out of the hotel and got our car from the parking garage. We opted for a light breakfast in our room that day (granola bars and bananas).

Arlington Cemetery 
We hopped in the car and drove to the Arlington Cemetery, which was only about ten minutes from where we were staying.  We enjoyed walking around the different memorials there. This sight definitely required a lot of walking up and down inclines, so I recommend wearing sneakers if you plan on going here. The best part of stopping here was getting to see the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier. There was something breathtaking about this.

We drove back to Georgetown to pick up souvenirs for a few of our friends and do some last minute shopping.  We needed something quick to eat, so we headed to Chipotle for lunch.  You can never go wrong with a bowl, chips, and guac!

Georgetown Cupcake
Before leaving town we stopped here to bring some cupcakes home. I grabbed an iced coffee to bring  with me.  Their iced coffee was some of the best that I have ever had.  I was glad we stopped here a second time because it wasn't crowded, so I was able to take some pictures and truly soak in the positive vibes the bakery gave off.

Catholic University tour
We ended our long weekend with a college tour. A year ago my brother was in the midst of finding his perfect place to go to college. This campus was definitely a nice one. I liked how accessible to DC and Georgetown. They had a metro station on campus! The university definitely placed a large emphasis on the catholic religion, the Pope visited there last September. My brother didn't end up choosing this university, but I would recommend any college bound student look at it if they love the DC area. After our tour, we headed up and it was back to reality.

This long weekend trip was a great one for our family. We were active and there was something interesting for all of us to do. After walking so much, this was the trip that made me want my own fitbit. I'm looking forward to the next time I can go to the DC area and do some more exploring.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Staying Hydrated

Staying hyrdated is incredibly important year round, but in the summertime we are definitely able to notice dehydration more easily due to the heat.  Regardless of my up and down dedication to health and fitness, staying hydrated is something I try to never neglect. I can feel the difference between being hydrated and not, and let me tell you being dehydrated has nothing but an adverse impact on me.  This summer is has been incredibly hot and humid, which makes it easier to get dehydrated. 

So what are some important effects of being hydrated?
If you're trying to shed a few pounds, then water is most certainly your friend. It will replace your high calorie drinks, it can suppress your appetite and keep you from over eating,  Being dehydrated drains your energy, so it keeps you from reaching your maximum productivity. Water can cure your headaches. One of the main symptoms of dehydration is a headache, so you can prevent this by drinking your water. Additionally, drinking the correct amount of water leads to healthier skin. Try drinking the correct amount for one week and watch how much your skin improves. Water is an important component to healthy digestion.  Drinking water can help your digestion and prevent any stomach aches from occurring. You can also drink it after consuming fiber to help with any constipation issues.  Water also helps to flush out any toxins that might be in your body. The more water you drink the healthier your kidneys will be. Finally, everybody knows how important it is to drink water before, during, and after exercising.  There's nothing worse than a little dehydration slowing down your workout. Try drinking sufficient water two hours before you exercise to have an optimal workout. 

Tips to increase your hydration!
If you're struggling to drink enough water on a daily basis, then there are some alternative ways to increase your hydration. Try eating fruits and vegetables that have a high water content. Strawberries, watermelon, pineapple, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini all have lots of water in them.  Consuming them will help you be a bit more hydrated. You might want to try drinking a glass of water with each meal.  This will make you conscientious about drinking water regularly. Taking a large water bottle everywhere you go is also a great way to drink more water. If it's always with you, then it is likely that you will drink it. Drinking a glass of water as soon as you wakeup is a great way to jumpstart the day's hydration too. You could also drink a glass of water every time you go to the bathroom. This will allow you to replace the fluids you disposed of.  Set a timer each hour to remind you to drink some water. This constant reminder will make sure you are on top of your hydration.  Eventually it will become a habit and you won't need the timer. My final suggestion is to add some flavor to your water. Mixing it up makes it easier to drink. Trying add some lemons, cucumbers, mint, strawberries, or oranges to spice it up a bit. 

What works for me?
I personally like to drink a 12 ounce glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon juice each morning after waking up.  Lemon water is great for digestion and it wakes me up a little bit too. During my workouts I try to drink at least 16 ounces of water. I've found that having a water bottle or cup that I really like makes it easier to drink water. This sounds really silly, but I can promise you it makes a big difference. If you have a cute cup/bottle you're more likely to bring it with you wherever you go.  If it's great for that snapchat, insta, or blog picture...then I bet you're going to keep it with you more so than if it were plain and ugly.  I personally use a pink hydroflask.  It keeps my water cold all day long regardless of the exterior temperature. They are a little pricy, but so worth the money you will initially spend. I have a 32 ounce hydroflask, so I try to fill it up twice each day.  This helps me keep track of how much I drink. I also recommend drinking out of a cup/bottle that has a straw. It definitely helps me drink more.  When I'm not using my hydroflask, you can find me sipping water from my Lilly Pulitzer tumblr or Vineyard Vines Tervis tumblr. These three are definitely my go to containers for hydrating. 

I hope my tips and tricks help you out!