January 2014 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

February Lilly Pulitzer Calendar!

So...I've been slacking a little bit on these. In my efforts to get re-organized and back on top of things this month with all things blogging, I have finally picked things back up and gotten the ball rolling! Get your February organized by printing out this Lilly Pulitzer Calendar Template I made for you to hang up and write all of your important events and dates in style!


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January Semester Wrap-Up

Earlier this month, I mentioned to all of you that my school has decided to do a three week long semester during the month of January where students can study abroad, get internships, take classes, or (if you're like me) force yourself to come up with remarkably creative ways to stay productive. 

My plan was to work out excessively, try cooking new recipes off of Pinterest and other websites, spend a lot of time working on this blog, read more books, and tackle an overwhelmingly large cleaning to-do list I created while down in Florida with my family for the holidays. 

I'm happy to say I actually made pretty good progress! (Okay, admittedly there were definitely one or two days in there that I didn't get out bed before 3p.m... guilty as charged) But I rationalized small doses of laziness by realizing that when else in your life are you going to have an entire month off where you literally have zero responsibilities or obligations? Never. 

I have learned how to cook some really healthy and easy dishes that I'm looking forward to making all semester long, I stuck to my workout plan pretty well (although it is by far the most time-consuming and muscle-aching workout I've ever done in my life!), and I have definitely devoted a lot more time to cleaning, blogging, and reading. Instead of rattling on about everything I have been up to, I am going to sum up my J-Term activities to you through pictures! Enjoy!

 Lots of crafting, cooking (and eating), and meeting a new furry friend during an impromptu trip to Louisville!

Running into my friends in Oxford uptown, more crafting, and of course more cooking!

Playing with this little fluffball named 'Bourbon', a super intense workout regimen, and the finished product of a feast whipped up by me and my friends!

All in all, despite some epic boredom and a couple cooking mishaps and exercise-induced injuries, I definitely feel like I at least made the best out of my time off from school and I'm ready to get back into a real routine!

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Virtual Spring Cleaning

Organization is so much of a habit of mine I think it tips the scale more towards addiction. With all of the free time I have had lately, I have really dug deep and started cranking out those to-do list tasks that seem to sit there for months on end, never actually getting accomplished.

Finally, the other night I couldn't sleep (once again) and ended up staying up until 4:30a.m. cleaning out and re-organizing my entire closet, all of my drawers and storage bins, my desk, and my dresser. And I mean really thoroughly cleaned it out. It wound up being a full-day project taking me over 7 hours - but man did it feel good once it was finished! Now I just have to take extra special care not to mess it all up again...

Post-cleaning binge I was perusing the pages of my latest Cosmo and it announced that this year is Facebook's 10th anniversary! Happy Birthday, Facebook! Cosmo then made the suggestion to delete your oldest Facebook album in honor of this milestone.

This got me thinking...when was the last time I spring-cleaned my social media? Social media is such an important part of a person's presence now, especially if you're a blogger, and it matters how you are being perceived. So I have decided to challenge myself to tackle all of my social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest...and just...clean them up a bit.

Those brace-faced albums of me from the summer before entering my freshman year of high school probably don't need to be visible to anyone I'm still trying to remain friends with...and the first 100 or so tweets I posted where I still had no idea what twitter was or what I was doing? Yea those can go too.

So I have decided to devise a spring-cleaning checklist for social media and websites for any of you who might want to give this a try too! (The best part is, you get to clean while sitting in your own bed!)

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Playlist: Snowy Day

Alright, the snowflakes and flurries were cute and exciting when it was December and they felt festive...but I'm ready for them to go away now. I was FaceTiming with my parents yesterday while Lindsey and I were bundling up our parkas to venture out into the tundra uptown in Oxford and, being the loving parents that they are, they showed us a panoramic view of their 85-degree sunnier-than-ever golf course background while they ate their lunch outside in Palm Springs.

Thanks for the invite guys.. Now if you'll excuse me I have to go put on two more layers so I can walk across the street without freezing to death.

In an effort to make these seemingly never-ending snowy afternoons a little more bearable, I've made you another playlist! Curl up in some blankets, grab a book and a cup of tea, and enjoy!

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January Birchbox Review

I am super excited to be writing this post because it means that I just received my very first Birchbox! My brother and sister-in-law gave me a subscription for Christmas (Thanks Melissa and Eric! And baby Kendall too!) and I have been anxiously waiting  by the mailbox like a little kid. Just imagine Buddy the Elf excitement level when I finally found it tucked away in my house's little mailbox - that was me. 

I had no idea what to expect with this, although I have seen a lot of other bloggers posting reviews of their Birchboxes over the past few months and it has definitely gotten some mixed reviews. All in all, I would say that I liked it, but have already gone and revised some of my answers on my beauty profile after realizing I was a little too vague. 

Here is what I found inside!

1. Ghirardelli Toffee Crunch Milk Chocolate Bar: literally eating this as we speak, curled up on my couch with my friends watching the Bachelor and some wine. So its safe to say I'm pretty happy with this inclusion in my Birchbox. My only disappointment was that I am trying really hard to stick to this new diet and workout plan, and I am totally blowing it by eating this right now!

2. Benefit BeneTint Lip & Cheek Stain: LOVE this! It is the perfect shade for my lips - I literally wore it this entire weekend while my friends visited! I will never use it on my cheeks because I never wear blush, and I'm really not entirely sure how this liquid bottle would ever be able to be applied accurately/attractively onto my cheeks...but if you are one of the talented people that knows how to do that please feel free to comment! 

3. Beauty Protector Shampoo and Conditioner: I'm pretty stubborn about hair care products, and I have loyally used the same Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner for almost four years now, so I really don't think I'll convert, but I like using these from time to time! They smell absolutely delicious, like fresh cupcakes with a hint of vanilla. Plus they made my hair super soft.

4. Ruby Wing Color-Changing Nail Polish: Again, I love all things sparkly so I was pretty excited about this nail polish regardless. I didn't even actually notice that it is supposed to change colors when you're inside vs. outside. Inside it's supposed to be sparkly gold, outside it's supposed to be dark sparkly red! Perhaps I'm using it wrong, but all I've gotten is gold so far, but I still love it!

All in all, it was fun exploring and I'm really looking forward to next month's box!
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New Instagram and Goodreads Accounts!

Even more big changes have been happening over here at Prep Essentials, and I am beyond excited to tell you that I now have an instagram account and goodreads account for Prep Essentials! 

I have added the icons to take you to both of these things on the righthand side next to all of my other social media icons, but if you want to follow me on instagram its

Here is a little sneak preview at what I've already got going...

and my goodreads account is under my name, Olivia Tennant! Here is the link to that!

I would LOVE to follow any of you on either of these accounts, so please comment with your instagram handles and goodreads accounts so I can find you! I'm always looking for new book suggestions, and would love to share some of mine with you!

Looking forward to more exciting things to come!
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The Empty Journal

I have this crazy little obsession with collecting beautiful paper products - journals, notebooks, planners, stationary - I just love all of the different styles and designs. Unfortunately, then the sentimental part of me kicks in and I love these things so much that I never use them! I have an entire drawer full of different stationaries and journals that are so beautiful, and so...empty. 

I know these things are meant to be used, but I can't bear the thought of coming to the end of it and not being able to have it anymore! 

For example, I got this absolutely beautiful sparkly notebook from J.Crew for Christmas from my parents (and as you know, I love all things glitter and sparkles). I desperately want to use it and carry it around with me everywhere I go alongside my trusty Lilly planner, but I'm still hesitating! 

So I have decided to open this up to you, my lovely followers, and ask for your advice!! What should I use this adorable journal for? And please, something that is worthy of how cute it is and won't make me regret it when I tearfully close the last page...

Help me and my weird tendencies!

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Monogram Lilly Pulitzer Painting Giveaway Winners!

Whew, the responses to this giveaway where overwhelming! I am so happy that so many people entered, I wish you could all be winners! But if you didn't win this time, don't worry - I will definitely be giving away these items and some other fun things in the future so keep checking back for those!

That being said...


Meaghan Diffenderfer
Haley Smith!

I will be getting in touch with both of you via email sometime today so I can get started on your beautiful paintings! Start thinking of what print you want!

Thanks again to everyone who participated!

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Blogmopolitan Quiz

This is by far the most fun I have ever had doing a post! I found this Blogmopolitan Quiz while I was over on Two Thirds Hazel and just had to fill it out! I always loved these celebrity quizzes in Cosmo, it's one of the first things I flip to every month when my subscription comes in!

I had a much harder time filling it out than I anticipated - I think this ended up becoming a bit of a way to learn about myself! I found myself asking my friends for their opinions on a lot of these questions, and was often surprised at their answers! For example, every single one of my friends said I give the best guy advice. Hmmm....
*Scratches Head*
Shouldn't I have a successful love life then...? HA.

So I hope all of you have as much fun learning about myself as I did! If you want to try this for yourself, there is a great linkup on Two Thirds Hazel here!

What is your favorite question on here? Surprised by any of my answers? (I know I was!)


Monogram Lilly Pulitzer Painting Giveaway!

Even though the holiday season is technically over, I can't seem to get out of the giving spirit! So to thank all of you for an amazing 2013 with my blog, and in high hopes of an even better 2014, I have decided to do a giveaway from my own Etsy products!! Come on, you didn't think I forgot to get you guys something, did you?!

I've mentioned this before, but for those of you who don't know, I have my very own Etsy shop!
I sell Lilly Pulitzer-Inspired Paintings with Monograms, and I can do just about any print, so if you don't see one that you love in my store just send in a custom request and I'll do whatever I can to help you out!

Since I will have so much free time in the next month (you'll find out more about that in one of my upcoming posts) I realized I would be doing a lot of painting, and what could be better than doing a few pieces for my fabulous followers?! 

Nothing, that's what. 

So, in celebration of a continued holiday season and to ring in the New Year, I am giving away TWO paintings to two lucky followers!!

The giveaway is super simple, and you can earn a bunch of entries by following the steps on the Rafflecopter widget below! And as I said, when you win you can choose any print you'd like, on any size canvas! 

These are a few of the prints I have done in the past!

Good luck!


Teaching My First College Course

HA! Me, teaching a college course? That would be a sight to see. No, that is just my fancy way of saying that my school has decided to implement a January Semester (Nicknamed J-Term) for three weeks, delaying second semester until the beginning of February. 

I could easily launch into a tirade about the million and one reasons why I find this new endeavor of my school a catastrophic waste of everyone's time and money, but instead I have decided to make a meager attempt at using the free time to be as productive as possible, and my friends and I have invented our very own sprint course! (Of which we are, obviously, the professors).

When we realized we neither wanted to spend the money nor needed the credit hours involved in enrolling in an actual course, we all knew we had to find some way to be as productive as possible and develop some sort of routine or we would go absolutely stir-crazy! (Some of you might be thinking - you have an entire month off and you want to work?!) But believe me, when you've already had a regular-length Christmas Break, you've had just about all the Netflix and sleeping in you can handle.

That doesn't mean our sprint course can't be fun, though! Everyday, starting today, we are implementing a mandatory routine complete with an extensive workout routine, cooking recipes from Pinterest that are both healthy and delicious, and doing 2-3 activities or chores that we have been putting off for god knows how long.

A typical day in my "sprint course" is going to go something like this:

Hardly a heavy course-load, huh? We wanted to make sure we stuck to a strict workout routine and healthy diet, and it was also really important to us to throw in a few extra activities that we have either been putting off, or that we just love to do but never seem to find the time to do. 

Some of my personal leisure activities are going to include painting, working on my blog, reading, organizing and crafting things for my room and around the house, and a secret special project you will all be finding out about sometime next month! (Get excited!)

More than anything, we wanted to use this opportunity for free time as a chance to work on self-improvement on several different levels: body, mind, and diet. We spend so much of the school year building up extremely unhealthy levels of stress, so activities like meditation, yoga, and therapy through blogging/painting are going to help us relax amidst all the chaos!

I can't wait to keep you all updated on our progress! 
Here's to hoping I get a good grade in this course!