December 2013 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

100th Post Milestone

I can't believe that this is already here, but today is officially...

Hooray!! Part of me can't believe that it has already been 100 posts...I feel like I just started my little ol' blog a minute ago, and part of me feels like I have spent so many countless hours tapping, deleting, resizing, adjusting, tweaking, and OCD-ing my poor little blog to pieces that I must be at my one millionth post by now, right?!

The weirdest part is that I swear I didn't plan it to be this way, but my 100th post falls on New Years Eve - no really, I didn't plan it! I realized it last week when I looked at my posts and saw that I had 97 published and couldn't believe it! 

If that's not a spooky instance of fate I'm not sure what is!

I never really knew what to expect when I started this blog - more than anything I was feeling incredibly lost and in desperate need of a project or distraction to help me gather my thoughts and at least give off the illusion that I had it all (somewhat) together. Piece by piece and post by post, this blog  has helped me put myself back together and find my way back to whatever path I had been unceremoniously knocked off of somewhere in the midst of the trials and tribulations that were my sophomore year of college.

I'm still not sure exactly where this blog will lead me, but for now I am most definitely enjoying the ride.

Happy Milestone Day, Prep Essentials!
post signature

Playing with Baby Tigers

I have no idea why it has taken me so long to write this post...but you will never believe what I did over Thanksgiving Break! (Alright fine, my title kinda gives it away, but try not to steal my thunder).

Go ahead and bump that to the top of my 'Things I'm Thankful For' list...

It was totally random and unexpected and WAY too much fun! My best friend Layne had a friend from school tell her about this random little place in Indiana that had baby tigers you could pay $20.00 to play with for an hour...Helloooo money well spent!

They were so small and adorable, and the cute little purring noise they make will have you absolutely melting. (Apparently their purring is called "chuffing" - youtube it and you'll see exactly what I mean!) They are literally just like fluffy big kitties - not aggressive at all. They just crawl all over you and play with each other. One of them even nibbled on my bracelet through my sweater for about 20 minutes! Needless to say I was officially in heaven, and definitely annoyed every single person I am friends with on snapchat and Instagram that morning.

Naturally we took approximately 5000 pictures and even a few videos...but here are just a select few of my favorite ones!

My best friends Lyle and Layne making some new friends!
This little guy wouldn't stop nibbling on my bracelet/sleeve, but I got him to stop long enough for a selfie!
And of course we couldn't leave without getting the world's greatest Christmas Card!

So Happy Holidays from us and our new tiger friends! Hope yours have been wonderful!


New Year, New Look

Pardon the dust for the next few weeks while Prep Essentials gets a little bit of a new-year makeover to kick off 2014! You may have noticed the new logo at the top...
*and I only pulled out a few clumps of my hair while making it*

So if you see random glitches or cosmetic problems please forgive my poor little blog as I attempt to navigate the blogging world with my minimal knowledge!


Give More Than You Receive

Many bloggers are probably excitedly posting about all of their beautiful and exciting Christmas gifts they received, and believe me I was more blessed than I could have ever imagined! But instead of telling all of you about my exciting new belongings (which I am sure you will see popping up eventually in my OOTD posts) I am going to tell you about my favorite gifts that I gave this year. 

I genuinely believe there is nothing more exciting than finding the absolute perfect gift for someone, just to get that brief moment of gratitude from them where they know that you pay attention to detail and cherish them enough to find something that they can be truly excited about. 

One of my favorite pieces of advice I have ever gotten was to always give more than you receive. My wiser-than-ever grandmother told me this, and if I could choose one person in the entire world to still have in my life as an inspiration and mentor through my 20s, it would be her in a heartbeat. 

If you give more than you receive, you will be receiving more than you ever could have anticipated, and in a much better form. 

So here were my favorite gifts to give this Christmas season!

Recycled Wine Bottle Tray // Tortoise and Gold Chain Link Necklace

My stepmom absolutely loves these fragrance diffusors from Williams-Sonoma, and I guiltily admit its become a bit of a staple item amongst my gifts for her, but only because I know they run out easily and that she loves them so much! 
For my stepbrother, I went with Cards Against Humanity. This game is way too raunchy and way too much fun to not have in your cabinet at home. Think Apples to Apples, except all of the cards were written by Samantha from Sex and the City. 
For my darling Little, I got us matching initial pendants from BaubleBar - it was their buried bauble during Cyber Monday and I just couldn't resist! (And yes, this one was also a gift to myself because we got matching ones, but that is only because neither of us buys anything with a monogram or initial without getting the other one to match!)
For my other stepbrother and my sister-in-law, who just purchased their very first home (the world's cutest home outside of Chicago, might I add!) I got them this recycled wine bottle serving tray as a little housewarming/Christmas gift!
And lastly, for my close friends from school, I found an amazing tortoise and gold chain link statement necklace at this incredible jewelry store in Naples, FL called Best of Everything (which explains why there is no link to this necklace!) I love that store - it has amazing jewelry and accessories for super low prices. I probably get half of my jewelry there every year when I come down here for Christmas!

By far my favorite thing I got for Christmas this year was the satisfaction of knowing that I was able to spend time with my family and show the people I love how important they are to me.

"Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!"
-The Grinch

What were your favorite things to give this year?


'Misunderstood' Christmas Ad

Oh, I just can't resist sharing this video. I keep seeing this commercial as I am snuggled on the couch at my family's home in Naples, FL for the holidays, and it has to be my favorite commercial for anything I have seen in years.

Something about the way Apple takes such a relatable topic and turns it into something heartwarming that manages to capture every single essence of the meaning of the holiday season just gives me goosebumps. Definitely worth watching!

Excuse me, I seem to have something in my eye...*tear*

Props to you, Apple. For a technology company, I think it's great that they spin a modern negative connotation associated with teenagers and family togetherness caused by tech products like iPhones and turn it into something positive and heartfelt.


A Christmas Dilemma

Oh, I fear this post will be the world's biggest "first-world-problems" post but I need some help from my fabulous followers! My family did part of our Christmas a little bit early this year because my brothers have to split their holiday time between a few different places, and I got the most amazing gifts from my parents!! 

Unfortunately, one of these gifts comes with a catch: I have to choose one, and return the other one to the store! (A truly cruel fate in the eyes of someone who worships Kate Spade the way I do...)
This way I could choose which item I wanted more, since my parents are brilliant and didn't even ask for a Christmas list this year - they are so good at finding stuff I will love!

So now I need help choosing between:
A gorgeous emerald green cross-body bag, or a matching envelope wallet!

SERIOUS apologies for the horrendous quality of these pictures...I took them on my phone just to show my Little when I was asking her advice, and never ended up taking better ones! (I was hoping to be lazy and find pictures online but according to Google and about 2 hours of searching, these items never actually existed...eep!)

Wallet vs. Cross-body

Here are the interiors as well!

                                            Wallet Interior                      Cross-Body Interior

What is a very lucky girl to do?! I have a remarkable gift for losing wallets this semester, which makes me want to lean away from such a beloved item because I would be devastated if I lost this one...yet it also makes me want it since I currently find myself (yet again!) without a wallet!

And the cross-body is just such a fabulous color, and being in college I use a cross-body every single time I walk out the door, especially when I am going out to dinner or uptown to the bars! I feel like I might get the most use out of that one! 

Ahhh! Please help the world's most indecisive girl out and comment with your opinion! 
I hope all of your Christmases are as blessed as mine!


Measures of Happiness

I often draw inspiration from the most startling and unexpected areas, whether its a thoughtful advertisement while perusing boutiques in Naples, a striking quote in a book or magazine, or through one of the countless hours I spend browsing Pinterest looking for something I can relate to. Inspiration can strike at any moment - I like to think that knowing this has forced me to keep my eyes, and heart, a little more open since I have started this blog.

Recently, while spending a much-needed relaxing evening with my parents in Naples, Florida sitting out on our porch cuddled up with some wine and the latest issue of Cosmopolitan, I came across a quote that really resonated with me. 

"Measure your success by how much fun you're having"
(God knows I'm having way too much fun anytime I'm with my little, Courtney, like at our America-themed semiformal in this picture!)

I like to think that if I have absolutely nothing else in this world, I'm having fun. It might seem trivial or immature to prioritize fun as the single-most important thing I seek in my life, but in my experiences it seems to be the one thing that is a consistent and unrivaled measure of happiness. And in my mind, the greatest success a person can achieve is happiness. If you're achieving that, and nothing else, you're doing something right. And that speaks miles in my world. 

A life without happiness isn't worth living. Just take this as a small reminder anytime you feel so frustrated you could scream - I've had my fair share of those moments in the past few weeks, so I am beyond grateful to have come across this quote on this particular evening. So every once in a while, take the time to rearrange, re-evaluate, and realize, that even if everything seems to be going all wrong, if you're having fun in the meantime, life just might be worth it.


Gossip Girl Icon

Any of you who are as devoted of Gossip Girl fans as I am are going to absolutely freak about my latest purchase! It is by far my favorite thing I have ever bought for myself - ever! Each and every time I look at it I fall in love with it a little more. 

I was walking uptown with my friend Haley after a truly brutal Accounting final...we were pretty much speechless and on the verge of tears, so naturally we headed straight uptown to our favorite Sushi place for some much-needed wine and sushi to recover from a painful slap in the face to kick off finals week. On our way there we happened to walk past a super quaint antique shop - and keep in mind this is in the middle of Oxford, OH, aka the middle of nowhere - and we both stopped dead in our tracks.

There we saw the ultimate icon of Gossip Girl. I don't think there is anything more perfect or more desirable to own if you love the show the way we do. (Is there anyone on this planet who doesn't totally worship Blair Waldorf?!)

It's the painting from the Van der Woodsen's apartment!! I couldn't even believe it, and it was such a steal! By far my most impulsive purchase of my life, and by far my favorite!

It's called "Spectrum" by Richard Phillips. I am so in love. It fits perfectly with the color scheme of my room and really pulls everything together. 

Here it is hanging in my room next to my bed!

I still can't believe I own this. I can't wait to move into a real apartment after I graduate and find the perfect spot to hang it - I know I'm going to love this piece for a really long time. 

Now if only my apartment could be as amazing as Serena's when I graduate... *wishful thinking*


Skate Into Winter

Until very recently, I've never been a very big "skirt" person. I can't quite place my finger on a single reason, but despite the fairly extensive skirt collection I've acquired over the years, I never seem to gravitate towards that section of my closet when selecting an outfit. The only time I seem to wear a skirt is when I need to look more professional or respectful, such as interviews, presentations, or religious events such as Church.

Lately, however, a new outfit combination has been catching my eye. Skirts with sweaters! In particular, skater skirts, which seem to have just the right shape and flow to pull this look off. This trend is the perfect way to transform a normally 'spring and summer' style piece into a cozy but stylish fall and winter outfit, especially when paired with a cute pair of patterned tights or a statement necklace!

My favorite way to wear this trend is with a flouncy A-line skirt, tights, a cozy cable knit or patterned sweater (anything with a little texture, such as sparkles or waffle-knit sweaters), a wintery statement necklace and an adorable pair of ankle booties! 

(Excuse me while I go copy this outfit to a tee! Too perfect for words!)

I am definitely going to be on the hunt for some adorable skirt and sweater combinations for the holiday season. I'm especially loving this adorable sequin ribbon sweater from Nordstrom!!

What do you think of this trend for the holiday season?


Midweek in the Midwest

Last week was unusual to say the least...I wrote this from my brother's apartment in Chicago! I had a job interview so I drove up to Chicago Tuesday night and am headed back to Oxford right after my interview Wednesday so I can get back home to study for an exam! Lots of driving, but totally worth it, if anything just for a chance to see my adorable baby niece, Kendall, and my brother and sister-in-law. I don't get to see my family very often so any opportunity to is always exciting!

I even "lucked" out, because my niece was asked to stay home from daycare since she is coming down with a cold, poor thing, but that hasn't stopped her from playing with me nonstop since I have arrived! She's started crawling since I last saw her and she is always on the go! She even knows how to take selfies on my iPhone now, so needless to say we've had a bit of a photo-shoot...or twelve.

I absolutely love Chicago - it is by far my favorite city! I definitely want to live here when I graduate from Miami. Driving up to the city last night with all of downtown lit up made me so excited - I don't want to leave! I always feel overwhelmed whenever I leave Oxford, because no buildings in Oxford are even allowed to be more than three stories high! It can make entering a big city feel very intimidating...I never quite realize what a bubble I live in until I leave!

Since it is such a short trip, I don't have many exciting stories to report, but I did get a couple good pictures while I was here!

I think this selfie with my niece is my favorite - she is too adorable!
And of course I had to get one last shot of the city on my way back out of town...sigh


Saks Gets Spirited

As if Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City wasn't already one of the happiest places on Earth, this video of their super-festive and ever-so-popular Carol of the Bells lights show is incredible!! If you're as holiday-obsessed as I am, things like this really get you into the spirit and put a smile on your face.

I have never seen it in person, but it has just climbed up the ranks of my bucket list. I thought I would share it with all of you to help you get into the holiday spirit!

This video puts my paper snowflakes and miniature Christmas tree to shame.
If this video didn't get you excited for the holidays, then perhaps you need to take some advice from one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies!

What's your favorite holiday season tradition to visit?

Happy Holidays!