August 2013 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

September Lilly Pulitzer Calendar

I cannot believe August is actually over and classes have already begun...Although I don't have Friday classes this semester so I guess it could be worse! I feel like school isn't really in session until September begins, so to kick off this unfortunate reality I have made another Lilly Pulitzer-inspired calendar template for you to download! Click on the link, download it and print it out to fill out all of your *sniff* homework, exams, and hopefully some fun parties and events too!



Essentials of the Week(s)

Sorry I've been a little out of the loop lately - classes started this week and things have gotten officially crazy! I swear I'm running on fumes at this point, I can't even remember the last time I slept! Welcome Week is definitely getting the best of me. These are a few of the essentials that have been getting me through my hectic life since I've been back at school. Enjoy!

1. AllRecipes App. This is the best recipe app out there! This is my first year living without a meal plan and it has been an adventure to say the least. I feel like such an adult buying my groceries all by myself - yes it is sad but I'm proud of myself! It is definitely something that is going to take some practice. The little kid inside me still wants to buy nothing but cookies and juice boxes - seems like a great idea until I get home and have endless sugar crashes! That's why I love this app - you put in what type of meal you're looking for (appetizer, snack, main dish), the main ingredient, and how much time you have to make it! Then it will pull up tons of recipes with different ratings and comments about them. Totally a lifesaver for someone who burns cereal (i.e. ME)

2. Odwalla juices. These little juice smoothies really are a lifesaver - I am absolutely in love with the Strawberry C-Monster flavor (because I love all things strawberry). Always have, always will. I have had to hold myself back from buying too many of these because they can get a little expensive, but with an immune system as weak as mine + not enough sleep + a little too much back-to-school celebrating, my body has been getting run down way too fast! These things are packed with an overdose of Vitamin C so naturally I have been chugging them down as often as I can. 

3. Skin So Soft - My dad has been swearing by this lotion my entire life, and thank god I took some with me to school. My house (still trying to get all my pictures together but I promise I'll post them soon) at school has the most amazing porch with a porch swing and with this amazing weather my housemates and I have probably spent between 3-7 hours a day on it since we moved back. No lie. Does anyone remember the Hey Arnold! episode where Stoop Kid Was Afraid to Leave His Stoop?? Maybe that's just me...but we literally never leave our stoop! It takes a lot for us to get off this porch, and the same goes for our mosquito friends that live on it...I've never had so many bug bites in my life! I hate bug spray (there is just nothing good that can come from chemicals on your skin that are meant to deter I can't stand the smell!) And I remembered that the reason my dad is totally in love with this lotion as a bug spray! I don't think that's the actual use for this lotion, but it totally works! And it smells nice - bonus! Dad wins again.

Sorry the list is a little short this week - like I said, things have been crazy!


Playlist: Good Morning, Sunshine

I am not a morning person. End of story. It's not as if I will go into a blind rage if someone wakes me, but its really best if I am just left to my own devices for the first 10-15 minutes upon waking up. I feel so out of my element when I first get up, and the fact that I don't drink caffeine means that sometimes it takes me a little while longer than others to really get going and feel up to a conversation.

With school schedules finally sinking back in, and the typical college sleep deprivation is starting to catch up to us, rolling out of bed is pretty much the last thing anyone wants to do.

I try to play music whenever I get up to help me ease into my day and mentally prepare for what's ahead. This playlist is my go-to whenever I am having a particularly slow morning - I've been testing it out for a few weeks now and I love it! It starts off gentle but gradually eases into a pretty great wake-up playlist for getting your day started on a happy, light note. You'll be awake and dancing by the end of it! (Ok maybe not on a Monday, but you'll be in a better mood than when you started!)

As always, happy listening. And good morning :)

I know the list is a little hard to see, just in case I am including it again down here! Sorry for the repetitiveness, just didn't want any confusion but I did my best!!

1. Walking on a Dream - Empire of the Sun
2. Feel Again - One Republic
3. Upside Down - Jack Johnson
4. Best Day of My Life - American Authors
5. Good Morning Sunshine - Alex Day
6. On Top of the World - Imagine Dragons
7. Love Today - Mika
8. Good Day - Nappy Roots
9. The Queen and I - Gym Class Heroes
10. Are You Gonna Be My Girl - Jet
11. Magic - B.O.B.
12. Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
13. Waving Flag - K'naan

And a little bonus, because I just couldn't resist! Every time I hear Upside Down by Jack Johnson I get the biggest smile on my face because it reminds me of the opening credits scene in Curious George: The Movie. Judge if you want, this movie is the most adorable thing ever and I totally fell in love with this song when they played it at the very beginning. (Plus I'm secretly a five year old...) I think that scene was the reason I even bothered watching the rest. I couldn't find a video of the actual scene, but this music video is pretty darn cute - maybe it will put a smile on your face on a particularly rough morning :)


I'm Expected to Eat This...?

Okay, okay, the title may be a little bit harsh - dining hall food on most campuses really isn't that bad! You just have to know what to look for! It can be all too tempting to head straight for the pizza and cheese fries, and if you're okay with gaining the freshman fifteen (or in some cases the freshman thirty) then by all means ignore the rest of this post!

If you're a little more health conscious like me, you'll probably struggle with trying to determine what things are truly healthy. I have never counted calories, I never will count calories, and I wouldn't know how to if I tried. But that doesn't mean I don't pay attention to whats going into my body! This can be seriously challenging, or super easy - it all depends on how much information your school puts out about what its serving. From what I've heard, almost every school has nutrition and calorie information about its food posted somewhere online (although some are expertly designed to be difficult to find...)

Find It.

That is your first step. Find wherever your school has listed all of the calorie and "nutritional" facts about its dining hall food online, and pay attention! I spent my entire first semester eating a spinach wrap, feeling really proud of myself and healthy until I found out its over 600 calories. Excuse me?? Its a tortilla, some spinach, a little chicken and veggies, and some dressing. There's just no way. But there is. Which leads me to step two.

Don't trust the costume food.  Foods that masquerade as being healthy, and in any normal situation (like your parents kitchen) would be healthy, but are secretly loaded with hidden fats and are probably not the freshest. For example, certain salad bars on my campus have been known to put out the lettuce and other ingredients for multiple days, barely refrigerating it. Hardly fresh and hardly healthy. The other most common offender of this? Pasta. I love carbs, don't get me wrong, but the pastas and sauces served at your school are probably absolutely loaded with calories that you wouldn't normally expect, drowned in butter and cooked in super unhealthy oils and grease.


Step Three? Focus on foods you know you can trust. Yogurts, granolas, whole grains, and (if they are fresh) fruits and vegetables. Avoid the obvious things like pizza and anything fried - you may as well go eat fast food somewhere - they might even use less grease at McDonald's. (Even though the sweet potato fries at my school are totally my guilty pleasure). 

Lastly, don't overeat. You choose your portions now, and while it may seem like a horrible fantastic idea to go for thirds of that "fat free" soft serve ice cream, don't. Especially with dining halls that are buffet style all-you-can-eat, my best piece of advice is to fill your plate with less than you think you will need. Finish that first, and if after 5-10 minutes you're still hungry, by all means go back for more! Its all about portion control. 

Other than that, my only advice is this:
Avoid late-night snacking and stress-eating. Food is available pretty much 24 hours a day now, but that doesn't mean you need to eat during every minute of that.

Now that I am living off campus, I actually don't have to try and navigate the murky waters of dining hall food anymore, so pretty soon I am hoping to come up with a great list of groceries and easy college recipes for staying healthy, although I think I need to master it for myself first! If anyone has any tips or links, feel free to comment!


Study Time

1. What worked in high school will not necessarily work in college. I made thousands of flash cards in high school and that was what worked for me, every time. Then I got to college and couldn't understand why I was doing so poorly on exams. Well, in the business school not everything can be put on a flash card, and...brace is big kid school. They don't just expect you to memorize and regurgitate information. They want you to understand things on a conceptual level. Sure, you memorized that definition but what is the bigger picture? Your study habits will have to vary by teacher now - they are all different, and they will all test you differently. Period. 

2. Office hours. Every person you ever ask about studying in college will tell you this, and you will roll your eyes every time about halfway through your sophomore year when you finally get it. Go to office hours. There are endless benefits from this simple little concept. Your teacher gets to know who you are personally, you can ask them about exam or quiz questions that you missed (crucial if they don't let you keep the test, and most teachers won't), and they can clear up any questions you have before an exam. I am only a junior and I have now had my grade bumped up three times at the end of the semester by teachers who I took the time and effort to go see during office hours. (My grade was on the border of an A- and a B+ but they knew how much effort I was putting into their class, and it mattered). 

3. When studying for exams, re-do any homework assignments, and if there have been quizzes go to office hours with any questions you missed just to review what was on it. Quizzes are typically a really good indicator of what the exam will look like.

4. Do your research. Look up your teacher on rate my professors and ask around from anyone who's had the class before - you might get the inside scoop on where they pull their test questions from, or that your teacher loves to throw in essay questions at the end. Knowing what to expect is half the battle. 

(PS this is my desk at home, I'll post pictures of my desk and room at school soon!)

5. Spread your studying out. It is much easier (and less painful) to study for an hour each day for four or five days, than to cram the night before the test, piling in 5 hours of studying on top of your other assignments and binge drinking red bull.  (Even though I am totally guilty of the latter sometimes). Your teachers give you a syllabus the first day with the exam dates, so you have plenty of advance notice to plan ahead. 

6. If you have a tendency to over-highlight (like me) try to keep in mind that the more you highlight, the more you have to write down in your notes later on. Look for things that reinforce what your teacher said during the lectures. If you've never heard your professor mention it, that's probably something they don't find as important and won't be on the test. If you're really unsure, just ask them before or after class if its something you should look over, or overlook. 

7. Don't let the brochures fool you - the library in college is social hour. I tend to get more socializing and catching up than actual studying in mine! It becomes an event - go get coffee with your friends, sit down at a table with them, oh hey there's Madison over there you have to go say hi! Unless you can find a quiet spot alone on a quiet floor of your library, it really may not be the best study spot for you. My favorite places to go are empty classrooms or just my desk at home. Empty classrooms are great for group study sessions because you can utilize the board and whatever technology is available - if you can get the same classroom your exam or quiz will be given, that's even better! 

8. Write it down. College has only a fraction of the structure high school had, and they aren't going to remind you every day of when assignments are due. That first day during syllabus week when your teaching is rambling on about nothing, start copying down all of the assignments and exams into your planner so you never miss a beat. (Keep in mind though that sometimes these dates are subject to change, so check for updates through email or on your school's academic site!) I've had some teachers that put things on the syllabus and then never mention it again - they don't even ask you to hand it in, they just expect you to do it sometime that class period, or you get a zero.

What are your studying tricks for college?


A BIG Thank You!

I am so overwhelmed with gratitude today, because a couple of my 'blog world' friends have nominated me for the Liebster award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! And here I thought my dad and my little sister in my sorority were the only ones reading this thing...Thank you so much Lindsay, Hunter, and J. Parker!

You all are too sweet! Okay so truthfully I really have no idea what these little awards things are or what they mean, but from what you guys posted on your blogs this is what I have gathered about the rules of these things!

For the Liebster award (thanks again Lindsay and Hunter)...
This one recognizes smaller blogs (like little old me!) that have potential! Now you guys are making me blush :)

The rules are as follows:
1. Thank whoever nominated you somewhere in your post 
2. Place the picture of the award in your post
3. Answer some fun facts about yourself, at the request of whoever nominated you!
4. Pass this along to other bloggers you think deserve it!
5. Ask whoever you nominate a couple fun facts as well.

What a fun award! And my dear friend J. Parker also nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! (These things seem to be going around the blogosphere right now, but I think its super fun!) Thank you so much! Seriously I really was beginning to wonder if anyone ever read this thing besides my friends that I force to read it.......

This award seems to have pretty much the same rules as above, and to avoid overwhelming you guys with facts about myself (even though I know I'm super interesting - just kidding!) I'm going to condense the questions a little bit (hope you guys don't mind!) to avoid writing an autobiography. 

1. What is your favorite trend right now?
Metallics with Neutrals! (Doing a post on this soon!) Totally in love.

2. What is your dream job?
If money were no object I would love to travel the world and be a photographer! I used to be really into photography and lately I have kinda dropped it with my busy schedule. Definitely on my to-do list to pick that back up again!

3. What is your favorite nail polish color?
LOVE this question - you all know how addicted I am to nail polish. I would have to say Essie's Bikini So Teeny - its just too adorable!

4. What is your guilty pleasure movie or TV show?
Guilty? Never. Netflix addict and totally proud of it - I swear I watch netflix when I do absolutely everything, even my homework! I guess if there was one show I would say is a "guilty" pleasure though, it would have to be Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I love to hate that show - it's like a train wreck that I just can't stop watching.

5. What is your favorite store to shop at?
Well my favorite store to "dream" shop at - aka put things in my cart pretending I'm a millionaire and then close out of the tab when I'm done - is probably Kate Spade or Nordstrom. My favorite store I can actually afford is J.Crew!

6. If you could purchase one "splurge" item what would it be?
I have been seriously lusting after a Barbour jacket. I saw them on a post on college prepster and I have been obsessed ever since! Definitely on my christmas list this year.

7. (I'm blending two questions a little bit here) What is your ideal vacation spot/What city would you most love to live in?
I would absolutely love to live anywhere in Europe, especially somewhere in Italy. I fell in love during my study abroad last summer when I went to Rome and have been dying to go back ever since. I really want to live in Europe for at least a year or two before I settle down one day. (And by settle down I of course mean become a crazy dog lady and live alone forever...)

8. Navy or Pink?
I really am not the biggest fan of pink, even with my love of all things preppy. I'm going to cheat a little bit and say navy with coral, because I have been seriously loving that this summer!

9. What is your favorite animal?
DUH. Easy one - polar bear! I even have a little stuffed one from the zoo that I sleep with every night (yes I'm still a five year old, deal with it!) named Puff. Best snuggle buddy out there, people.

10. Why did you start blogging?
That's a loaded question. I had kinda just hit a road block in my life, and I was desperately grasping for something - anything - to get my life back on track. I found a gaping hole in how I spend my time all of a sudden, and I needed a project to fill my time and snap me out of it. It is by far my favorite thing I have ever done. I'm still learning a lot, but I love it more and more every day! (Even the days I get frustrated or am feeling just too damn lazy to put in the effort...)

I am nominating these blogs for both awards as well, with the same questions! Can't wait to see all of your responses!


Packing and Moving Tips

Having lived out of a suitcase for pretty much my entire life, packing is pretty much second nature to me. I can pack for a two week vacation in less than 30 minutes and not forget a single thing - its like a superpower (or that's what I tell myself anyway...)

Packing and moving for college, however, is a whole different animal. I get so daunted by the concept that I am essentially packing up my life for 3/4 of the year, and tend to over-pack on little knick knacks to make myself feel at home. I always regret how much stuff I bring to school, but I can't seem to stop myself!

Finally after two years of practice, I think I have finally mastered the art of packing for college (ok, maybe not mastered...) These are my best pieces of advice for this intimidating process, along with a few helpful ways to avoid the inevitable overpacking. 

1. Giant ziploc bags. These are the absolute best, especially for packing clothes. They're huge, have handles, and hardly take up any space. Enough said.

2. Pick out everything you think you want - then remove two items from each category. For example, remove two sweatshirts from your sweatshirt pile, two shorts from your short pile, and so on. I've learned that this is the magic number for overpacking. Deep breaths - you really will be okay without nine different options of sweatshirts, I promise! (The only time this rule may not apply is with jeans, but you still really only need 1-2 of each type of jean).

3. These thin fabric hangers are my absolute favorites for school - they take up no space, and clothes don't slide off of them. Take all of your hanging clothes and just put them into a garbage bag (or giant ziploc!), still on the hangers. This will cut your unpacking time in half, and help avoid wrinkles to your nicer items. You can get them anywhere and they are pretty cheap, Target or Costco should have them.

4. Put all your essentials in one place. Last year it took me a couple weeks to unpack, and I couldn't find my umbrella that entire time, so naturally it rained constantly. Put everything you need daily - medicines/toiletries/shower stuff/umbrella/etc - in one bin and label it so its all in one place. That way, if you procrastinate for days can't get to all of your boxes right away, at least you will have the essentials in one spot.

5. Miami doesn't have elevators, because no buildings in Oxford are allowed to be more than 3 stories high. If you're unlucky like me (third floor), take turns unloading the car. While one person goes to get another load, have one person stay in the room and start opening and unpacking. It will give you a quick rest, and you'll be able to take empty bins on your way down, saving yourself a couple extra trips at the end.

6. You'll save yourself unpacking time if you pack your bins by category, or however you're planning on organizing them once you reach your destination. I keep storage drawers under my bed, so I just pack them the way I'm going to want them at school - first aid stuff in one, exercise clothes in another, and so on. That way all I have to do is move it from the car to under the bed and I'm done!

7. LABEL. Label, Label, Label. (Wow that stops sounding like a real word after a few tries...) Seriously cannot stress this one enough though. You will save yourself a million headaches if things are labeled very clearly - especially if you are going to have people helping you move in! Even if you know whats in a box, or that something should be handled with care, the people helping you may not. I probably could have saved myself a few precious breakables freshmen year if I had been more diligent about my labeling...

(My closet at home right before I left for school last week...Thank god for those thin hangers! Hope my school closet is ready for all of this...)

My favorite piece of advice for a big move - Treat yourself to a bottle glass of wine when you're done - you've earned it!


Conquering the Rec

When I was going into my freshman year at Miami I was absolutely convinced and determined that I was going to work out at least six days a week, if not every day. HA. My dad would always laugh and say that it was never going to happen, which of course only made me even more determined and stubborn about it. I would show him. Just wait.

and again...HA.

I don't think I ever even set foot in Miami's rec center until about 2 months into my freshman year. Talk about failing to meet expectations... Beyond the fact that I was having way too much fun with my newfound independence and packed social schedule, the rec was intimidating!! (It still kinda scares me, and I'm a junior...shhhh.)

I've played sports my entire life, so I've never had to work out in a gym or come up with my own workout plans and schedules, totally self-motivated. I didn't know how to use half of those machines and once I finally figured that out I still had no grasp on what resistance, time, and incline to set anything to! I probably defined clueless freshman for a while. There are definitely some things I have learned about the rec center that make it a little less intimidating, and a little bit more beginner-friendly.

1. One of the scariest parts of the rec is that once you get there, everyone is busy milling around and seems like they know exactly what they're doing. To avoid standing around with a blank look on your face, scanning the crowd and looking like a completely lost freshman, make a plan. Have an idea of what you want to do before you get there. Plan out what machines you want to use, how long you want to use them, etc. Pinterest workout boards are a great place to look up some workout routine ideas that can target your specific needs! Just don't try to use a machine you don't know how to work, it can be really dangerous!

2. Who are you dressing up for? Do not try and go to the rec to make a fashion statement or impress boys. First of all, no one likes those girls. You're there to get a good body so you can look great later, not to prance around and flirt with boys in workout clothes that aren't even comfortable. You don't have to own some fancy workout apparel or do your hair beforehand - that is a huge waste of time! The most important thing is that you're comfortable and that you can move in whatever you're wearing. No one looks good at the rec, you're going to get sweaty and out of breath and that is okay! I wear baggy t-shirts and yoga pants because I can't stand the feeling of tight shirts around my stomach when I workout.

3. Don't be intimidated!! Maybe I still need to take my own advice on this one, but its true. Its just a place for college students to exercise, and everyone is there to do the exact same thing you are. Seriously, no one is watching you or staring at you - even if it feels that way! Seriously, everyone there is much more focused on their magazines, calorie counting, and whatever song is blasting through their iPods to care about what you're wearing or what exercise machines you're using. Just go in, do your thing, and walk out. Simple as that! 

4. If you're still a little nervous, or feel like you still don't have a good enough idea of the way things work, that's ok! My best suggestion would be to try an exercise class. Some schools offer these for free the first week of classes, and some are free all year long. It all depends on your school, but no matter what, these are a great option! You get an instructor to tell you what to do (which helps with the whole self-motivation issue), and you're surrounded by other students which is a great way to connect with people. (Strike up a conversation about how badly you're both doing at that yoga pose, or how hard that spin class is, you'll feel less lonely and maybe end up with a workout buddy!) Some of my friends loved classes so much that now some of them have become instructors!

5. Find a rec buddy. This is so important, I can't stress it enough. Not only is the rec center a great place to make friends, but its a great place to go with friends. There were so many days where there was absolutely no way I would have gotten out of bed and dragged my lazy butt across the quad for my workout if my workout buddies hadn't forced me to. Having a friend to workout with will help you hold yourself accountable for your goals, and keep you from skipping out on too many days and feeling guilty! You don't even have to stay together once you get there - sometimes its just nice to have someone for the walk there and back!

6. Stop comparing yourself to the people around you! You have no idea what their situation is. The girl sprinting on the treadmill next to you could have been a track star in high school, and the guy who has been running circles around you on the track could be training for a marathon. You are there for you, and comparing yourself to others won't get you anywhere but down. Just focus on you, what you are capable of, and what you came there to accomplish. Be proud of the fact that you're even there in the first place - that's more than a lot of people can say!

Any good suggestions for workout routines or tips about working out in gyms?


Essentials of the Week(s)

So things have been a little crazy with me lately, and I haven't really had much time to become "addicted" to anything new these past few weeks...but there are a few things that have made it onto the list. I move into my very first house tomorrow (ahhh!) with 7 other girls from my sorority - talk about madness! I am beyond excited to start this new school year and this new adventure of living in my very own house with some of my closest friends. 

I have spent the past few weeks trying to unpack (yes you heard me correctly - I never unpacked from spring semester!!!), re-pack, buy furniture and everything else I needed, and taking several trips up to Oxford trying to move everything up there. Needless to say my world has been a bit of a mess, but things are finally almost situated! (Don't worry, I'll be posting pictures of my new room and house once it's exactly the way I want it, although I am such a perfectionist so I don't know if such a time will really exist!)

Tagging along with some of my essentials of the week(s) I'm going to give you guys a little peek into what my life has been like these past few weeks! Let's just say when it came to my new amazing Ikea furniture, some assembly was required...

(My poor dad! All of those pieces were just for my new dresser!)

Let's just say it has been a serious work in progress! And with all of this moving mayhem, my essentials of the week this time around are a little concentrated on packing/moving. Enjoy!

1. Arnica Ointment - Oh. My. God. This stuff is the most amazing invention I have ever seen in my life. I absolutely positively swear by it, I can't believe I've been missing out on this! Truthfully I have no clue how it works, but this stuff seriously cures everything, and thank god because I have been so sore from all of this moving! Just use a teeny tiny bit on absolutely anything - bruises, aches, pains, sore muscles, pulled muscles...and within 24 hours you will feel like a new person. I am not even somewhat exaggerating, you're crazy if you don't try this stuff! (It even made my broken toe heal in half the time, I think its magic!)

2. Essie Turquoise Caicos - I know this is a pretty summery color but I love it and decided to treat myself and buy it before heading back up to Oxford, so I plan on wearing it every day I possibly can before I switch over to my beloved fall colors.

3. Kale Chips - healthiest, yummiest, easiest-to-make snack on the planet. Enough said. Gives you the saltiness and crispiness of potato chips, but with a health value higher than spinach! Here is a great recipe for how to make them - it couldn't be easier!

4. DIY Tool Starter Kit - Ok, I'll admit my little college starter tool kit is not this one, but how cute are all the pink tools?? I wish I had seen this when I bought mine freshmen year, I am so in love. Who says tools have to be manly? My newfound skills with Ikea furniture disagree heavily with that stereotype, thank you very much!

Happy Friday!


New Year, New Room

In college, your bedroom is your entire home (especially when you live in a dorm). That is the only space you can call yours, and being confined to such a small living area can really make you go crazy. There are some of my favorite tips and ideas I have come up with over the years to help you keep your room feel fresh and exciting all year long!

(PS This picture is the quad I lived on last year...most beautiful campus ever!)

1. First of all, no one loves Christmas or Christmas lights more than me - no one. Naturally I would be behind any plan to keep Christmas decorations up year-round! In all seriousness though, in the two years I have spent at college my absolute favorite rooms have been ones strung with white Christmas lights. It has such a peaceful and calming effect on the rooms - it really makes them feel like a little oasis. Turn those awful fluorescent dorm lights off, flick on your white Christmas lights, light some candles and watch a DVD in bed. You will seriously feel like a new person. I know I am planning on hanging these up all over my dark basement room in my house this year!

2. When you don't have much space to work with furniture-wise, accesorizing is the next best thing! Adding a couple adorable throw pillows to your bed will give it a polished feel that will make you feel much more at home. Check out some of my favorite throw pillows here!

3. I am totally a jewelry hoarder. The past two years there has been more jewelry on the shelves of my dorm desks than actual books - sorry Dad! I love displaying jewelry out like its art. Right now I use two gorgeous little dishes from Anthropologie, a cheap little quatrefoil patterned dish from Michaels craft store (found it in the dollar section, woo!) and a little plastic necklace holder to display all of my statement necklaces and bracelets. For my earrings I painted a wooden jewelry box pink and green a couple years ago and I can't seem to part with it! 

4. Probably the most obvious decoration in college - pictures. Most people make collages but I think it's nice to have 2 or 3 actual picture frames on your desk of the people most important to you! (Plus its a great excuse to buy some seriously adorable frames like this one!)

5. Craft it up! A mirror is a must-have, and if you're gonna have one you might as well make it cute!! I made this sparkly mirror for my little last year with some mod podge and gold glitter and I loved it so much I had to make one for myself! It's a great way to add a little pop to your room - and it will make you feel much more glamorous when you're getting ready for those dreaded 9 am classes...ugh

6. This is a great little trick especially if you have a roommate! Freshmen year I bought two little white wooden letters, one for me and one for my roommate. I painted each one in a different color with a cute polka dot pattern. We hung up one of those dorm-safe command hooks below each one and put them on our respective sides of the room right by the door! It was a great spot to put our keys and it helped us never leave them behind! Cheap, easy, and oh-so-cute. 

7. I actually saw these tissue pom poms in my sorority suite when I rushed as a freshmen, and then again in the Lilly Pulitzer store a few months later. I knew I just had to have them - but the good news is, you can make them yourself! This has to be the cheapest craft I have ever done! Just a little tissue paper folding and some string and you can really make your room feel like home. (Plus it puts a little prep in those super drab ceiling tiles every dorm seems to have...) love this idea!

8. As you know from my essentials of the weeks posts, I have a very short attention span at times. I get bored with my room and re-arrange it probably at least two or three times a month, switching little things around until I feel like I have a change of scenery. Having a spare set of sheets with a different pattern is a great way to satisfy that need for change with minimal effort (and a lot less pushing furniture). It gives your room a fresh new look and it only takes a few minutes!

Hope these tips help! How do you decorate your room at school?


Help Me I'm Poor - College on a Budget

"Help Me I'm Poor" has never seemed more appropriate. (If you haven't seen Bridesmaids, shame on you - go watch it and come back so you can properly laugh at that reference). Welcome to college! You have absolutely no money and lots of places you want to spend it! That's what the banner should really say when freshmen arrive at orientation.

College is absolutely filled with tempting places to spend money; Late night pizzas ordered to the dorm, shopping at new stores in your college town, buying drinks at bars without realizing how much you've spent until you close out your tab...Money seems to be everywhere but in your wallet in college.

Here are some of my favorite tips for saving money in college while still having a good time.

1. Avoid eating out at restaurants. Your parents shelled out a lot of money for you to have a meal plan, and while sometimes it may not exactly be gourmet, it feels free because its already paid for! (I call it monopoly money). You wouldn't go to a restaurant, pay for the food and then not eat it, would you? While it's obviously tempting to eat at your favorite guilty pleasure spots as much as you can because your parents can't stop you - do your best to avoid it. It will also help you keep from gaining weight, because yes, ordering pizza for the fifth time this week really will start to show in more places than your wallet. (You can still treat yourself from time to time, but keep it down to a couple times a month!)

2. If you go to a school where you can go to bars (Miami lets you go to bars if you're 18) drink before you go. Its cheaper, safer, and just all around smarter.

3. Utilize student discounts. It would blow your mind how many restaurants and stores offer student discounts that most people don't even know about! This is a great list of some of the restaurants that offer them, and here is one for some of my favorite clothing stores!

4. Save your leftovers! For those times you do go out to eat or cave and order that extra pizza (don't worry I'm not judging), don't throw it away! Cold pizza and microwaved leftovers are a rite of passage in college and definitely a good way to save a little cash.

5. Say goodbye to Starbucks. Buy a coffeemaker and suck it up - you're gonna need a lot of caffeine in college and if you're dishing out 3-5 dollars every time you do you'll be completely broke by midterms. Welcome to college life! It's super yummy...Maybe if your parents really love you they'll buy you a Keurig. My roommate got one last year and I pretty much fell in love with her parents because of it, and all I used it for was hot chocolate...

6. Share clothes with your friends! You now live right next door to all of your best friends, and their closets. Use it! All of my friends would stare at their closets screaming about how they have nothing to wear while four other people were looking at their clothes like it was a gold mine. Just make sure you're lending to people who will treat your clothes with care, and be sure you do the same!

7. Don't fall for the textbook trap. Textbooks have to be the biggest scam in the world. Don't even bother buying your textbooks until you've been to the first class; I promise you won't need it the first day. (And if you do...have fun with that teacher.) Sometimes teachers end up telling you that they don't even plan on using that book! Then you're out $400 dollars with a shiny new textbook gathering dust in your desk. When you do go to buy a textbook, use Amazon or try to rent one or borrow from a friend. Literally thousands of dollars will be saved and your parents (and wallet) will be eternally grateful. When you're done, sell your book back to Amazon!

8. DO dish out the extra cash and pay for damage insurance on your expensive electronics like your laptop. Even if you're the most careful person in the world, the sleep-deprived caffeine addict next to you in the library may not be, and you'll be more than furious when they knock over a coffee and the bill lands in your lap. Definitely a price worth paying.


Essentials For A Preppy College Closet

My school is pretty well-known for its "preppy" dress code its students seem to adopt. Miami has been nicknamed "J. Crew U" and various other titles as a tribute to all of its impeccably dressed students.

Unfortunately for me, while I care a great deal about my wardrobe, this meant that I was far behind the curve when I arrived on campus two years ago (even with my preppy private school background!) I can't afford to break the bank on every single item my preppy little heart desires...oh I wish...but I have managed to work during my summer breaks and beg my parents for certain Christmas and birthday gifts, slowly building a little collection.

For anyone else who may not be able to drop serious coin on the best preppy closet any college girl could dream of, I have built a list of what I consider to be the most essential staple items. These are mostly basics, but what I love the most about them is that they can pull together almost any outfit and help you step it up a notch! Sometimes just one or two great pieces like jewelry, shoes, or a good vest can pull together endless varieties of outfits when paired with simple things like plain white v-necks or jeans.

Fake it until you make it, right?!

This by no means indicates that if you don't own every single item on this list you are going to stand out, or feel out of place!! Even I still don't have every thing on this list. Depending on your budget size, I would advise you to pick the few items that you think you will get the most use out of - the ones that will work with the most items that you already have in your closet, or that are the most practical!

For example, the first thing I bought was my Longchamp Le Pliage and I use it every single day as a tote to carry books to classes. The next items I made sure to purchase were hunter boots, leggings, and a Lilly planner. (The hunter boots were promptly ordered 3 weeks into the school year when I discovered I had inadvertently chosen a college that seems to have a rain cloud over it every day of the week...) None of these items are too overboard on price, and they are definitely worth the investment!

If you need help deciding between Bean Boots or Hunter Boots for those rainy campus days, I've broken down all of the pros and cons plus what size to get in this Guide to Hunter Boots vs. Bean Boots!

What are your essential items to have in your closet at school?


Essential School Supplies

I'm one of those super nerdy people who absolutely loves new school supplies. I think its the OCD side of me - everything is brand new, fresh and clean, and everything has its very own place. It just doesn't get more organized than right at the beginning of the school year, and even when you're as obsessive compulsive as I am, it probably will never look that way again.

I have noticed that there is a huge difference in what supplies you actually need in college vs. high school. I definitely did not understand that as a naive little freshman, but I think I've gotten the hang of it (finally). These are the school supplies that are truly essential for the start of a new semester.

Turns out you don't need a binder for every single class anymore, and you really won't want to haul one across campus. Stick with a notebook and a couple folders for handouts - your shoulders will thank you (especially if you're like me and use a tote rather than a backpack!) These notebooks from Target are my favorite - so cute and so cheap! And no matter what size your campus is, you're going to be doing a lot more walking than you're used to. Definitely bring a water bottle around with you wherever you go. I absolutely love these monogrammed ones!

Everything else is pretty basic - pens, pencils and highlighters, a pencil case so you aren't digging around noisily in class looking for a pencil, and of course an adorable planner to fill in all of your assignments (and campus events!)


Tick Tock: Time Management in College

College means being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with no one else telling you what to do. A little too good to be true if you ask me. Time management in college is one of the most important skills you will learn - and almost everyone learns the hard way. It can be all too tempting to kick back and watch TV, go out every night and skip classes whenever you feel like it just because no one seems to be telling you otherwise. Then midterms roll around and every freshmen on campus looks like they just rose up from the grave as they try and cram 6 weeks worth of material into three nights of studying.

College doesn't give you all of that freedom just so you can have some extra party time! (I wish). It's supposed to teach you how to grow up a little and learn to manage your time & study habits well - for things you want to do, and things you have to do. You really can have both! If you do it right.

These are my best tips for managing your time well in college so you can have plenty of fun without the oh-so-common exam week meltdown.

1. Setting a routine. This seems like an obvious step, but a lot of people wait way too long upon arriving at college before setting a routine! Decide what's important to have in your schedule every day (working out, homework, your class schedule, clubs and organizations...) and figure out exactly where they fit in. This will also help you make sure that you aren't taking on too much at once. *Tip: Writing down a sample day schedule from start to finish is a good way to look at everything you're planning from a birds-eye view - then you'll see if its too overwhelming!*

2. Plan for the Unexpected. In my opinion, the unexpected happens more than the expected in college. You randomly find out its your friend's birthday and she wants to go out to celebrate! Too bad you have a paper due tomorrow. You need to make sure you have time in your schedule for unexpected plans or events, forgotten assignments that are suddenly due, etc. You'll be able to participate in more activities that you want to do, and it will definitely save you from missing an assignment because there just wasn't enough time once you remembered it.

3. Take Breaks. This is so important in college and so many people abuse it. College is all about a balance between what you want to do and what you have to do. Tip the scale too far in either direction and you'll crash and burn. You can't expect to party every single night until midterms and be fine, and if you push yourself too hard and never let loose you'll be burnt out by midterms and crash just as hard as the partiers! Balance is key. Finish your assignments by taking them day by day, and if you focus hard and get them done you can still have time to go out and have a good time.

4. Set your priorities. Sit down and make a list of everything that is absolutely important to you - and I mean really important. Classes, clubs you're involved in, working out, sleeping enough, spending time with friends. Write it all down and then figure out where it all fits in to your schedule. (This one goes hand-in-hand with setting a routine.) Once you have your priorities established, you can set a routine and schedule it out so you never over/underwhelm yourself. It will also make you feel more obligated to stick to the things on your list when other things you haven't prioritized start popping up right and left. *Tip: I do this every Sunday night! I write down everything that is an absolute MUST for me that week - major assignments, meetings I need to attend, major parties I've been looking forward to, a friend's birthday dinner....Having the list makes me more motivated to make sure I dedicate myself to only those things, and I procrastinate a lot less!*

How do you manage your time in college?



Essential Apps for College Students

I seriously don't know how our parents survived college without the amazing technology we have today. Can you imagine homework and research papers without google?? I would die. Some technology is definitely more helpful than others, of course. Since I have been at Miami these are the apps that I consider to be the most essential - for my social life and my studies - in college. And best of all they're "all" free! (Full disclosure, PicFx costs $.99, but its worth it!)

1. PicFx - This is my favorite app for editing pictures on instagram. It has so many great options and it only costs $.99 Definitely worth it! 

2. Study Blue: Make flashcards, see your classmates' flashcards, get feedback on your score, and review the ones you missed. This is by far the most helpful app I have downloaded since I started at Miami - I use it for every single exam and my grades have definitely improved since I downloaded it.

3. Mint: Manage your finances and your budget all in one app with minimal effort! It connects to your bank accounts and shows you exactly what you're spending your money on. You can even set budgets for categories like shopping or restaurants per month and it will warn you when you're over your limit!

4. Circle of 6: This app is amazing. You choose your circle of friends, and with the touch of a button this app can give your friends your location for help getting home or discreetly ask for an interruption from an uncomfortable situation.

5. Starbucks: Tells you exactly what's in all of your favorite drinks, including calorie counts and ingredients. Perfect for all those late-night study sessions.

6. Wikipanion: Because who can write a term paper without our good friend wikipedia? Great for answering a quick question if your teacher puts you on the spot.

7. MyHomework: Keeps track of your schedule, class locations, assignments, quizzes and exams right on your phone. I still keep a planner (can't live without mine!) but this is great if I'm out and need to double check the due date of an assignment on my phone. You can even set reminders so you never miss a deadline!

What are your most life-saving apps for college?


Essentials of the Week(s)

It's time for more of my essentials of the week! Trying to get everything situated, packed and ready to head back up to Oxford has been beyond hectic. (It probably would have been wise to actually unpack from school when I got home in May...oopsies!) So my essentials right now are a little bit themed around getting myself ready for another year at school.

I know I'm not the only one who wants to look her best after a long summer! Here is what is essential for me right now in my attempts to look and feel like I have it all together! (And trust me - I don't!) 

1. Coconut Oil - Okay I am so obsessed with this stuff I'm doing an entire post on it soon (so be on the lookout!) This past weekend at the lake my friends and I were reading a magazine article about it and decided to test it out. It all went downhill from there... There were so many uses the article listed we wanted to try them all out! We ended up putting it in our hair (its supposed to make your hair stronger/longer) and on our skin as a sunscreen/lotion! Of course we ended up jumping in the lake afterwards but now I am totally obsessed! I've decided to do a little experiment and use it every day and see if it really is the miracle drug everyone says it is.

2. 8 Tracks - This app is the greatest. I was never a pandora fan; the commercials, skip limits and really just the general concept bothered me. I like having more control over exactly which songs I listen to (yep, control freak and proud of it!) I love this app because this is totally how I choose what songs I want to listen to. You simply choose two adjectives for the type of music you want to listen to. For example, if I said I wanted to listen to "summer + happy" music, it would pull up all the playlists app users have made with those tags. And you get four skips per playlist!!! Best music app ever. I've already found a couple dozen songs to download just in the few days I've been using the app.

3. Avocado - Way too obsessed with this right now. I have been putting it in pretty much everything I eat. Any salads, sandwiches, even this amazing grilled cheese recipe I found on Pinterest (yes, I actually made another Pinterest recipe!) I don't know if its just the summer season that has me suddenly loving this so much or if it just works with more summer recipes but I am going to be seriously sad when I go back to school and don't constantly have this in my kitchen.

4. Jergens Natural Glow gradual tanning lotion. Thanks to my darling internship this summer, I feel like I have barely seen sunlight! By the time I get off work it is way too late to try tanning, and I've been traveling so much that I can't even score some pool-time on the weekends. I think I was more tan this past winter than I am right now! Thankfully I found a tanning lotion that doesn't leave me streaky and orange, or make me smell like I bathed in chemicals. This lotion is really great for giving you just a little glow (although I'm still hoping I can get in some rays my last few days before I leave!)

What are your essentials before you head back to school?


Back To School Edition!

Prep Essentials is going back to school! I know this is the part where most people would groan and complain about how they never want summer to end and that they are dreading going back to campus...but that's not going to happen. I LOVE Oxford, and I don't know anyone that doesn't. My twitter feed has been blowing up all summer with people commenting on how much they want to go back to Miami - schoolwork and all - since a week after finals ended. (I know, I know, 7 year old Olivia is kicking me for saying all of this) but I seriously love school!

Miami is just one of those special places that you never want to leave. Sure, even I am guilty of occasionally needing to get off campus and escape for a weekend...but it never lasts longer than that. I'm actually going up to campus 10 days early because I just can't wait any longer! (Sorry Louisville, I love you, but Oxford is where I belong right now!)

So, in the spirit of back-to-school (or leaving for school for the first time for those of you lucky freshmen!) I am declaring August a Back-To-School Edition month on Prep Essentials! Which means this month will be dedicated to countless tips, tricks, and advice for starting the new school year on the right foot, whether you are a freshmen or a senior. Being halfway through college I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what is absolutely essential for college. (I might sneak in one or two posts that are off the back-to-school theme, but I'm going to do my absolute best to stay on topic...not always my strong suit).

Be on the lookout for posts about decorating your room, staying organized, how to manage time well, the best apps for college students...And I'm not going to give away any more!

One of my favorite quotes of all time about Miami...

"To get here, you have to want to get here, but once you're here, you never want to leave."

Love & Honor!

(PS This picture is the quad I lived on last year in all 3 seasons! Yes, campus really is this beautiful).


National Girlfriends Day!

August 1st is National Girlfriends Day!

What a fun holiday! I would be nothing without my friends. They have always been my family to me; there isn't a single thing I wouldn't do for them. My friends from home and school are all such big parts of my life.

I have literally known the girls in this picture since I was born. All of our parents were in a dinner club together when they were young, and they still do it! We were all born around the same time and we grew up together. Ski trips with the families, dinners, holiday parties, swim team practices - you name it, they were there. And they are all still my best friends today, even though we are all scattered all over the country! (We just took this picture a few weeks ago at a big dinner club trip to the lake!)

Never take your friends for granted - make the effort to send that text and check in with them, or take the time to meet them for dinner or coffee. It can be so easy when you go off to college to lose touch with old friends, and in my opinion, nothing could be worse. Let today be a reminder for you to meet up with friends, have a girls night, and do something crazy and spontaneous together! Summer is almost over and I can't think of any better way to spend it than with my best friends. 

So take a cue from my favorite pair of best friends and celebrate today with yours!