September 2015 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

Words On a Train

One of the biggest transitions I made when moving to the city was selling my car and embracing public transportation entirely. I'm definitely sad, I loved my car and knowing that whenever I wanted I could pack a bag and drive anywhere I wanted - but that's still not totally out of reach and it made zero financial sense to keep a car right now. 

Luckily the train and bus system in Chicago is fairly familiar to me from years of visiting and living here last summer, so I haven't felt as overwhelmed or list as some of my other friends. 

I've even started to really enjoy my morning commute (afternoon...not so much). I like that I get a 30-35 minute window once I leave my apartment to have time to myself to wake up, catch up on social media, write blog posts (like this one right now), but more than anything I love all of the time I have for reading. 

I'm finishing books on the train faster than I have time to come up with new ones thanks to my Kindle app on my phone, and I'm really struggling to maintain a list of books I want to read! (Seriously...all suggestions welcome, I'm desperate here!) 

I have, however read a couple books this summer that I absolutely couldn't put down for even a moment. I found myself walking slower from the train to my office so I could keep reading for just a few more minutes.

Here are my favorite picks this summer:

Girl on the Train
Yes, I know everyone has been posting about this book but that's because it's that good. I can't remember the last time I was so wrapped up in a book, or so unable to predict what would happen next! A lot of reviews say if you loved Gone Girl then you'll love this book, and I can see the relation, but personally I think Girl in the Train blows Gone Girl out of the water. It was told from such a unique perspective and all of my friends have agreed, we wish we could forget the entire book just to read it for the first time all over again!

Lost Girls
I finished this book in less than a day, and believe me it is not a thin book. Set in New York City among the wealthy and beautiful, it is a mystery about the disappearance of a private school socialite and her best friend's desperate search to figure out what actually happened that night. Anytime I can find a book that is difficult to predict until the very end, I get completely absorbed in it (not unlike Girl on the Train).

Written by the same author as Gossip Girl, Cecily Von Ziegesar once again perfectly captures the lives and minds of a group of freshman attending a small liberal arts college in Maine and the ways that their first year of college unfold and overlap with each other. To be honest, this book is a little slow-moving to start, but as the characters unfold and you learn their personalities and backstories, it gets completely addicting to see what decisions they will make about love, classes, and breaking the rules.

Did anyone else love any of these books as much as I did?! 

At Long Last...

I know I just did a post about my favorite fall fashion finds, but I felt that this more than deserved a solo spotlight. If you're one of my loyal readers that has been following since my humble beginning two years ago, you may remember this post about quite possibly the cutest booties to ever exist....

After two years of waiting, hoping, and dreaming...I made my very first (and last for quite some time...) splurge purchase on myself. 

I am finally in possession of the Tory Burch Elyse Booties!! I could not be more excited - I literally danced around my office when they arrived. I think tonight I might just look at them all night while I watch TV in my apartment (I'm really not kidding, guys...)

In my defense, this was definitely not an impulse buy because I blogged about them two years ago! I couldn't believe my luck when I found them online. They were sold out absolutely everywhere, EXCEPT for one eBay seller who happened to be selling them in my size, brand new! Definitely the work of fate. I just couldn't resist. 

I also knew that I needed a pair of flat booties to wear to work, and based on past experiences with boots, it was a much better value to splurge and get a really nice pair than opt for cheap ones that fall apart and demand replacement year after year. These I know will last me a long time, and I'll be much more inclined to take extra special care of them. 

I've already been dreaming of a hundred different ways to wear them...not a bad way to spend my day-dreaming time on the train!

Off to go stare at my new favorite shoes some more...*sigh*

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Coping Without Caffeine

I've mentioned it in previous posts, and plenty of friends have marveled at it (especially after witnessing me seemingly get only an hour or two of sleep balancing studying and socializing and sorority life for multiple days at a time...) but people's reactions never get old when I tell that I don't drink caffeine - and I haven't since I was 15 years old. 

Part of this is because I have had horrible problems sleeping for as long as I can remember, so I try to avoid anything that would antagonize those issues, but a lot of it is that I've gone without it for so long that things like caffeine (especially the acidic effect of coffee or carbonated beverages) really bother my body now that I've gone without them for so long and I'm not used to them. 

Now that I am officially in the exhaustive pattern of 40 hour work weeks, trying to make the most of my short-lived weekend time, sticking to a consistent workout routine and still making time for hobbies, chores, errands, and catching up with friends during the week - even writing the list makes me feel sleepy and run down. 

So what everyone always asks is: how do I still manage to seem so energized and motivated (most of the time). I wouldn't say I have it mastered, and I definitely have my fair share of moments throughout my day that feel like I could finally master sleeping with my eyes open (zzzz...) But I do have a couple tips and tricks up my sleeve for the ways I cope without caffeine:

Stop Hitting Snooze
This is a habit I never got into. I set two alarms every day, one for when I need to start waking up, and one for five minutes later when it's time to finish pulling myself out of my snooze and rub my eyes and officially get out of bed. It might be hard to stick to a schedule like this in the beginning, but once you get used to knowing that you get two alarms only, it's really not that hard to avoid hitting that snooze button!

Citrus Senses
Any variety of citrus can really help energize you and start your day off right. My personal favorite is to make a glass or pitcher of water every night before bed infused with lemons or other citrus so I get a little kick out of my morning glass of water. In the winter, citrus or lemon teas are also one of my absolute favorite ways to start my morning.

Press Play
Skip hitting snooze, and press play instead. Once I've gotten out of bed and brushed my teeth, I always play an energizing and upbeat song while i get ready to start my day. (Yes, there are definitely moments where this can be annoyingly upbeat for so early, but it is a mind over matter thing - just convince yourself to get into the music and you'll start to feel better right away!

Brain Games
I try to start every morning and afternoon with something that will wake my brain up and keep it stimulated, especially on my commute to work on the train. Typically this will entail either playing a game on my phone that requires focus or speed, or reading on my Kindle app while listening to music. The sooner you get your mind active after waking up, the easier it will be to make it stay that way. 

Last Resort - Go for the Sugar Kick
This is not exactly the healthiest alternative or the most recommended, but when I get to my most desperate moments (like a long rainy Monday afternoon), a sugary fruit or juice drink can sometimes be just the thing I need. My personal favorite is Iced Passion Tea Lemonade from Starbucks - so delicious and refreshing!

I know some of these tips might seem a little obvious, or like there is no freaking way they could ever replace that oh-so-addictive morning cup(s) or coffee some people are so accustomed to, but I've had a couple friends try cutting out the caffeine for Lent and replacing them with these tips and they all said they felt better, slept better, and were more energized after about 10-12 days of sticking to it!

If you've been meaning to cut back on the caffeine or cut it out for a while, I challenge you to give it a try and push yourself to cope without it. You'll be amazed at how refreshed you feel!

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