August 2017 - Prep Essentials

Lifestyle

Lifestyle
Lifestyle

Fashion

Fashion
Fashion

College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

Planners for Every Personality (& Work Style!)

Since graduating, I've jumped on and off (and on again) the planner train. I've loved using planners my entire life, and was at times even known to have 2 going at once (Insane? Genius? Who knows!)

The problem is that everything is digital - and it's just easier that way. Updating something at the touch of a button when plans change is just all too easy, not to mention things like flights, doctor appointments, and work obligations are all handled that way these days, too. 

That said, it's always been hard for me to give up the customization component of writing in a physical planner (not to mention they're so darn cute!) I think the customization component is what wins out for a lot of other people too (especially in college!). 

There are SO MANY amazing planners these days, and it's great that they all seem to have different styles depending on how you like to organize. Some are more broad overviews, some are down to every single hour, some leave room to doodle and draw...it's really gotten pretty endless! 


Regardless of your personal preference, I wanted to round up ALL the different types that I'm absolutely loving, stylistically and design-wise, to help you find one that works for you (and is super cute!)

If You Like a LOT of Customization...

The Erin Condren planners are hands down the best way to go if you're extremely particular about how you like things to be displayed. You can customize every single last little detail down to font colors and size, and you can even make them super personalized with your own personal photos, quotes, or whatever else your creative side can think of! 

I ordered one earlier in the year and shared some of the details here - but they also sell pretty incredible accessories like stickers, the best planner markets I've ever bought (seriously), and tons of different tapes and tabs

If You Like Things Simple, Functional & Stylish....

I think I had things right in college with this route, and I always went with the adorable Lilly Pulitzer Planners. They're hard-backed, so they're super durable against all of the rolling around in bags and all-nighter in the library complete with coffee spills and late night snacks. 

The format is totally usable for college, and gives you both a monthly view and a daily view broken down each week to help you keep track of important deadlines or events. They release new prints every year, and I am obsessed with this one, this one and this one!

If Your Planner is The Key to Your Life...

Then you need something that is up for the challenge! In this one little book you're going to store important information, appointments, meetings, plans, lists, grocery ideas, phone numbers...and every single other little detail required to make your life tick. The Day Designers are by far the best for such a heavy duty job, and they have the cutest covers!

I've seen a few people with high-intensity lifestyles utilizing these babies like crazy (such as bloggers like me, with full time jobs, side hustles, relationships and social events...and some of them even have families to keep track of, too! #SuperWomen). My favorite prints are this one and this one...but the colors in this one are so so cute! 




0

Summer in Lilly Pulitzer + A Special Story!

If you're a lover of Lilly and all things preppy like me, you are likely FULLY aware of the fact that the Lilly Pulitzer After-Party Sale is going on right now - head over there and get in a virtual line to shop the most amazing deals ever!

To pass the time while you wait (I've been in line for about an hour because sleep > everything) I wanted to share one of my favorite Lilly looks that has a bit of a special place in my heart. 

Last weekend my friend Caitlin and I went out and shot our favorite looks in anticipation of the sale, and because summer is rapidly coming to a close so the time to wear these beauties is definitely limited! 


This clutch has made a never-ending repeat appearance on here all summer long, and it was definitely worth the purchase - especially with that price point! 


The top is what makes this look really special to me, though, because it actually belonged to my Mom! I can't fit in every single thing of hers that I kept, but this top reminds me of her every time I see it in my closet and I love how fun and colorful it is because that was her, in a nutshell. 


TONS of fun patterns and prints like this one will be all over the sale today, so be sure to head on over there and snag some great buys! While you wait, be sure to read these tips to make sure you're able to get your favorites, because they go FAST! 





1

Essentials of the Week!

This week has felt like all of the slow and lazy lulls of summer have all caught up to me at once...I have barely had a single moment to sit still! I've been planing some really exciting new things for the blog in these next few months, and I can't wait to reveal it all to you!

I'm definitely going to savor every single slow and lazy minute of this weekend so that I'm ready for Monday and another crazy week ahead. No big plans on the calendar, and sometimes nothing makes me more excited than an open schedule and summer nights to sit outside.

What are your weekend plans? Is anyone else working on some major things or hitting the grind now that Fall is approaching?!

Here are my essentials from this week:


1. It's That Time of Year... | In case you missed my post earlier this week, the Lilly Pulitzer After-Party Sale is THIS MONDAY! They've included a pretty major surprise this year too. Don't miss out on all the details

2. Good News for Organic-Lovers Everywhere | Everyone's favorite Organic grocery store is going budget-friendly! In case you hadn't heard, Amazon recently purchased Whole Foods and they've announced some pretty major changes on the horizon, including special discounts for Prime members (thanks for sharing your account, Dad!) and more affordable prices in general...for everyone! 

3. Anti-Aging Products - For Your 20s | I only recently really started to put a focus on taking better care of my skin, exploring products to help keep it as healthy as possible, and more than anything taking preventative measures to make sure that my skin is healthy for many years down the road. The problem is it's been REALLY hard to know where to start, so I was beyond excited about this list

4. The First Thing You NEED To Buy For Fall | I know some people are clinging to summer as much as possible, and I get it...kinda! In case you're starting to admit Fall is coming, you NEED to check out these pants. Like, really. 

5. America's Next Champion | I have a legitimately crazy obsession with following USA Gymnastics. I really have an obsession with the Olympics in general, especially swimming and diving, but I am totally a superfan of the gymnastics! The National Championships were this past weekend, and you absolutely need to see what the USA is putting out there now...and the new Champ!

0

Preppy Back to School Art Prints You NEED!

I have always been a huge fan of Evelyn Henson's cute and colorful art prints and products, but I am so jealous that I never got a chance to purchase one of her college-themed art prints when I was at Miami!

Oxford is a little place, so it's not uncommon to be forgotten, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that someday it will be added to her collection! Seriously, these prints are just adorable, and combined with some of her other pieces, it would be perfect for a miniature gallery wall in your dorm or off-campus housing. 

I did a post once about a gallery wall I was thinking about putting up in my apartment that featured exclusively her prints, and I still day dream about it all the time! Definitely check it out if you're looking for inspiration!

Check out the FULL LIST here to see if yours made the cut, or see if it makes it into my list of favorites below!



There are so many other different locations and places on her full list - you could include your home town, your alma mater if you're an alumni, or favorite cities you traveled! They're definitely not limited to college campuses...she has London, Barcelona, Sydney...and so much more!

1

Mark Your Calendars: The Lilly Pulitzer After-Party Sale is Coming!

It's the moment you've been waiting for! The Lilly Pulitzer After-Party Sale is MONDAY, AUGUST 28th at 8:00AM (EST) and you won't want to miss it!

For those of you who haven't shopped the sale before...(1) You're missing out! and (2) Here's the summary:

The After-Party Sale only happens twice a year, and it is the ONLY time that you can get Lilly Pulitzer items on sale or clearance. They add a ton of new styles, bring back special or limited edition collections, and sometimes even launch collections solely for the purpose of the sale! The prices are absolutely incredible, and there are SO many styles available!

Here are my two main issues with the sale: The site crashes every single year, like clockwork. They always resolve it, but it's frustrating, to say the least. In addition to that, all sales are final. If you're a shopper like me who lives for free shipping + free returns, concerns about sizing are definitely big, especially for a price point like Lilly Pulitzer. 

The best recommendations I have for this is to prepare for the site to malfunction, and don't get worked up about it...it IS just a sale, after all! The other best piece of advice I have is to try and head to a store near you (or a Lilly retailer) to check out your sizing beforehand so that you can shop with ease!


How to Score the BEST Stuff on Sale 

1 | Learn Your Sizing Beforehand. I just mentioned this above, but wanted to be sure to mention it! There are NO returns OR exchanges during the sale, so be confident of your sizing!

2 | Get Online Early | It is absolutely insane how fast people get online in this sale. Even if you refresh right at exactly 8:00AM, you're probably going to be behind a couple thousand people in their "virtual" line. Don't worry, it moves fast!

3 | Understand the Virtual Line | To try and prevent site crashes, once you try to enter you will be placed in the virtual line with a number and an estimated wait time. DO NOT REFRESH! If you refresh that page, you lose your place in line and start all over.

4 | Finders Keepers Is Not a Thing | If you throw something into your cart, buy it immediately. Having it in your cart does not mean it's yours, and if you hold it in there too long your size might get snatched! If you check out, you'll have to get back in line, but I promise it really does move fast! 

5 | Update Your Information On the Site NOW | Go online and edit (or create) your account with all of your updated shipping information. This will save you time during checkout and keep your items from getting snagged. 

6 | Share Your Wins! | Just kidding, this isn't a rule, but I'd LOVE to see what you all score in the sale! Comment on this post (or the post the day of, I'll be live updating everything to help you shop the sale and snag the best finds and hidden gems). It's so fun to see what people get! Have fun, it's just a sale...but it sure is a good one! 
0

The Ultimate College Q&A for Freshman!

By far the biggest questions I ever get from readers are about college, whether they are about to start their freshman year (lucky you!) or are headed towards the finish line of senior year. I only had older brothers are siblings, and I so wish that I'd had an older girl who could answer everything for me...even the difficult or awkward questions...and that I knew I could trust to be honest with me!

So here it is. The TRULY honest, all-encompassing guide to all things college, with a list of all of the questions I receive from readers like you! These questions cover everything from general college Q&A, freshman year fears, Greek Life, debunking myths and confirming truths, what to wear...you name it, I've answered it below!

Sometimes, even if you do have an older friend or family member to look up to and seek advice from, you might feel like they're not giving you the whole story, or you may not want to ask them everything. That's why I wanted to answer the tougher questions, or the ones that might feel more awkward to ask. No topics were off-limits here!

If you still have questions you don't see on this please, please don't hesitate to comment below and I'll add them in, OR you can email me at prepessentials@gmail.com!

*This is a longer post, so I've sorted it by category. Look for the header images to know what category you're in, and feel free to skip over anything that might not apply to you!*


General Questions - Classes, Books & What (Not) to Bring:

1. What is the best place to get affordable textbooks, either to rent or buy?
Your campus book store is always a fine place to search, but you can save hundreds upon hundreds of dollars by renting as many textbooks as possible, and Amazon Textbook Rental was by far the best place to search! I also recommend waiting until after the first class to get your book. More than half the time, my professor would spend the first class telling us that we would never once open the book on the syllabus...and you're out a lot of money!

2. I want to get to know my professors, but I feel like just showing up to office hours and introducing myself is awkward. Do you have any suggestions on how to get to know them better?
It can definitely be intimidating to show up to a professor's office hours...but it is also something that every upperclassman says they wish they had done sooner in their college career. If you don't feel comfortable wandering in for the sole purpose of saying hello, wait until the first assignment or project, and bring in a couple of questions to ask. They host office hours for a reason, and there were multiple times in college that I had an on-the-border grade that a professor bumped up because they had seen how much work I'd put in by coming in for extra help!

3. Do I need to bring some nice & formal dresses to school, or is that impractical?
This depends on your definition of "formal"...I can't think of any situation or reason why you would need a gown or prom dress at college - leave those at home! However, occasionally you may be invited to a date party or formal with a Fraternity or other organization, and having 1-2 of those nicer dresses on hand can be useful. Or you can hold off and wait for one of those events to arrive, and have your parents mail it (or shop for a new one!)

4. Do I need one set of sheets, or two?
Definitely two! One could be dirty, in the laundry, etc. No matter the reason, two is absolutely a good idea. Especially because frankly your bed will be the location of many of your meals...trust me!

5. I've heard that you should bring a weekender bag in case you go on a weekend trip somewhere with friends. Do I really need this, and for what?!
Absolutely bring a weekend-size travel bag (you can shop a few of my favorites here, here and here...and a few more below!) College is filled with spontaneous weekend trips, whether it's to go home for a weekend if you live nearby, to a friend's nearby lake house or family home, a fraternity formal or sorority weekend getaway/retreat...you never know what may pop up, and I used mine constantly throughout school. *Bonus - you can fill the bag as extra storage when you aren't using it!*






6. What clothes are must-haves, and which are best left at home?
As a notorious over-packer, this is a tougher question for me. I've listed out my favorite preppy essentials for college, but these are definitely not all "must-haves". It all depends on the weather and region your school is located in, but my general advice is that it's typically best to bring a few of your lighter fall items, and leave your full-out winter clothes to grab later when you're home on a break or have your parents send up. Leave the formal dresses, costumes, and expensive or sentimental jewelry at home.

7. Everyone says "don't bring t-shirts" because you'll receive so many during the first few weeks of school, especially if you join Greek Life. 
If you're planning on joining Greek Life, you really and truly will receive more t-shirts than any human could ever possibly wear. If you're at a school like Miami University or Indiana University, you won't receive these until you go through recruitment in the spring, so with the exception of any "school spirit" clothes you buy yourself, you won't get very many given to you. Bring 3-5 favorites, but there is absolutely no need to fill an entire drawer with them.




1. I know that some Greek Life parties are themed, and have been told that I should bring "costume-type outfits" for those. Do I really need to bring that, and how often do these parties actually happen?
Themed parties are a blast, and (depending on the school) fairly common, but it won't be every single party. Usually themed parties are during official, planned socials between 2-4 Greek Chapters, and they can be literally anything. This means that there is no way to prepare for, or pack for them in advance. Leave them at home. You will have a blast heading to local Thrift Shops or Wal-Marts to craft up an outfit, or borrow from friends to pull something together. Extra costumes will just take up valuable storage space. Some of my favorite Pinterest boards for theme-party outfit ideas are here, here, here, and here

2. Where can I find some cute and affordable shoes to wear out to Fraternities, bars and parties without fear of ruining them?
First things first - you will ruin so many shoes at parties, Frats, and bars (if that's your scene). I couldn't possibly count how many shoes I lost to the party-world in college, so you definitely don't want to invest in expensive shoes that you'd be sad to let go of. My favorite places for affordable and cute shoes are definitely Target (they have this amazing pair of wedges that I replaced year after year), H&M, occasionally Nordstrom Rack, and Tobi.  

3. I've heard rumors that Fraternities will turn girls away from parties if they aren't "pretty enough" or aren't in a "top tier" sorority...is this true, and is it something I should worry about?
This is a bit of a loaded question, and one with a lot of myth, so I'm going to answer it in two parts...I won't pretend either that most myths aren't born from some level of truth. I never once experienced, or heard of this happening to girls in my time at college. As far as I've ever known, fraternities don't typically "turn away girls". If there is an "open party" at a fraternity, the general consensus seems to be 'the more the merrier' when it comes to women attending. You have every right to be there as anyone else! 

As far as being turned away from a party based on what sorority you're in...this is again something I never experienced, because with open parties, fraternities tended to be fairly inclusive with women. The only time I recall a chapter being exclusive about attendance is when there is an official "social", "pair" or "mixer" - every campus has a different word for it. These are parties financed with chapter funds, and for members of those organizations only. I will admit, there are some chapters that tend to only hang out with the same chapters over and over, and if there is a hierarchy, there may be some truth to the idea that "top tier" chapters stick together. This varies so much at every school, and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with "social rank". It's just the facts of society. Be proud of whatever organization you choose, and never let something like a rude guy (or girl) make you question or doubt yourself, your chapter, or your self-worth!

4. My college doesn't have Greek Life Recruitment until second semester. What is the best way to make new friends in the meantime?
This was a huge fear, and frankly a huge problem, for me as I started freshman year. I was in the honors dorm, and worried that I wouldn't find a lot of people I could relate to. There are hundreds of ways to make friends in college, and all the way through my final weeks of senior year I was befriending people who had nothing to do with my Greek affiliation or even Greek Life at all. Classes are a great way to start - something as simple as commiserating with the person next to you during a particularly boring lecture, or putting yourself out there by joining a fall Intramural league or low time-commitment club. 

My biggest regret is not reaching out to more girls in my dorm. I was close with my roommate, and entered college with a sophomore boyfriend, so it was all too easy for me to ignore a lot of my dorm-mates, and I missed out on countless friendships. You will run into these girls in the bathroom, common rooms, and walking out to classes that start at the same time. Something as simple as, "What building are you walking to" or "Where are you from?". No one else has friends yet, either!

5. I'm worried about balancing my classes, Greek life, and a social calendar...how do I manage everything at once, and what if I can't make it to certain chapter events or parties?
Your sorority is there to work with you as a student, not against you...It shouldn't be something that is interfering with your grades or stressing you out. Chapters depend on you to maintain your GPA and contribute to the chapter as a student, first and foremost. Balance and time management is definitely key, and takes practice, but if you find yourself struggling, you shouldn't be afraid to sit out on a party or social event to catch up on homework or even a few hours of sleep. 

Utilizing the older girls in your chapter can be a huge help, because there is a good chance someone else has the same major as you and has great tips, or even past notes! Most chapters also have study tables where you can spend time with sisters and hit the books...or just grab some girls and make a study date together! If you ever feel like your chapter seriously won't allow you to put a big test or quiz first, you need to address that with your Pledge Educator or someone older that you can talk to, like your Big Sister.

6. I'm really worried that I won't get into a sorority, or won't get into one that I wanted. What do I do if that happens?
Everyone feels this way about recruitment, and it's a perfectly normal fear to have. Frankly, it happens. Plenty of times. Every school is different in terms of your likelihood to get a bid, and it isn't guaranteed everywhere. Some southern schools have a massive recruitment, and there simple aren't enough spots. Up until recently, Miami University guaranteed a bid, but now that's not the case. There is no way to predict what will happen, but my best advice is to be your true self. Active members will be able to tell if you're being fake, and that's not going to help you at all. As always, avoid the off-limit topics like fraternities, boys, parties/drinking, money, politics...and never talk about other chapters, whether it's good or bad! 

Full reality - you might get cut from all of your favorite houses. You might even get cut from most chapters towards the end. You might get cut from none of them! The secret? It is okay. This happened to plenty of my friends, and I even got cut from my initial top two choices...and it turned out that I later learned I never would have fit in there or with that pledge class, and I (along with my friends) ended up where we were best suited. No one is going to force you to initiate, but if you've waited this long and gone through recruitment, have an open mind and give it a try. Stick it out for a while and see if there is something you're missing! (Let's be real, a handful of short and scripted conversations can only give you so much of a realistic glimpse into what a chapter is really like!).

7. My school doesn't have sorority houses...am I missing out on the big sorority experience of living with all of my sisters?
I had to answer this one because it was one of my biggest concerns when I chose Miami. Instead of houses, we had sorority suites in one big quad on campus, with a designated space for each chapter. The sophomores would live in one long corridor together in the dorms, and could use the chapter room downstairs for hanging out, studying, cooking, or meetings.  I had always dreamed of that stereotypical "mansion with columns" that you see in movies and shows...and then reality hit me! I could not have afforded to live in a sorority house all four years. The chapter dues at my school were tiny compared to schools in the South that have to support those big mansions...and I still got to spend a ton of time with my sisters! Not to mention...there were less rules, less cleaning, and less chores. Score! 

6. The hook-up culture on campus makes me nervous, and it seems like it's pretty out of control all across the country, according to the media. Is it really like it seems, and is that the only thing guys are interested in - or can you find guys who are interested in relationships, too?
This one is such a variable and loaded question...and it is so hard to answer, so cut me some slack here! I can't attest to how this has been in recent years compared to when our parents walked across campus. I will say that I don't feel like I was surprised at all by the ways that relationships between guys and girls unfolded on campus. Stop watching/believing movies...they're so absurd and they're meant to shock you and provide dramatic entertainment. I think everyone on campus has their own approach to this, and if a relationship is what you're looking for, you can definitely find that. (I met Dalton in college, after all!) Stick to your personal values and stay true to yourself, never do something you're uncomfortable with, and spend your time with people you trust! Some guys/girls hookup casually as often as they eat a meal, some people go all four years and never hookup with more than 1-2 people (if any). To each their own, and if you meet someone who tries to push you into a situation you don't want, LEAVE. 

7. HELP - What do I wear during recruitment?!
This definitely varies depending on your campus, and if you have recruitment in the Fall or Spring. Luckily most recruitments have finally caught up with the times, and will have Pinterest Boards and guides with outfit suggestions. You will also have a Greek Guide who can answer all of your fashion questions and give you a good tip of what you need to wear...she is an active Sorority member too, so she knows what she's talking about! (Here is an example of Miami's Recruitment Pinterest Board!) 

PS - If you're still unsure about whether or not to Rush - READ THIS!


Roommate Questions - Who to Live With, How to Get Along, & What to Do if You Don't Become Best Friends:

1. I decided to go with a random roommate through the school - what if we have nothing in common or don't get along?
This is a big concern for people who have never met their roommate, and understandably so! The good news is, with Facebook and Instagram, you can luckily usually get a pretty good sense of what they will be like/what their interests are beforehand! This is also a great way to get in touch, introduce yourself, and start getting excited for the year! College is a learning experience for how to deal with people and personalities different than your own...and yes, there is a chance you really may not like them...at all. My best advice is to be as up-front and honest as possible - without being rude. If you are a light sleeper, let them know on day one! If one of you has an issue with certain activities in the room such as drinking, don't be afraid to speak up or ask them about it. The space is 50% yours, 50% theirs, and everyone has equal rights to fairness and respect. Knowing where each other stands is the best way to avoid conflicts down the road. 

2. I have little or no experience being around alcohol or people drinking...and I'm worried that my roommate or dorm friends might be really involved in that. How should I handle it?
Everyone has their own preference, and I won't pretend for a second that drinking doesn't exist in college...if it's something you aren't personally interested in, you will still be able to find people who aren't either! There are so many other activities on campuses that don't revolve around partying or bars, and the other people who attend those events tend to feel the same way you do, so don't worry about finding people who choose not to partake! If you aren't comfortable with your roommate drinking in the room, be honest and ask if they can find someone else's room to do that. There's no need to get them in trouble just because they have different interests, but there's also no reason they should put you at risk if you're honest. As long as you're both fair, no one will get upset. 

3. How do I know if a friend or roommate needs medical attention for alcohol abuse?
This wasn't asked by a reader, but it's too important to me not to mention. You would be amazed (or maybe you wouldn't) at how many people genuinely have no idea what to do in this situation! No one wants to be the girl that gets her friend or roommate in trouble with school or the police, especially if your school has strict policies on this. I had my own experience with a friend who was in legitimate danger due to alcohol use, and we delayed getting her help for almost two hours because we didn't want to get her in trouble...a very scary but true situation that I learned a lot from, and thankfully everyone was okay. If we hadn't gotten her help, though, it could have had a much worse result. She ended up needed medical attention, and had a concussion on top of everything else...letting her "sleep it off" could have killed her. If a friend is unresponsive, vomiting, or displaying scary signs such as eyes rolling back in their head, you need to get an RA or get them to the nearest doctor or hospital. Yes - there is a chance they may get in trouble...but their life is more important. Thankfully, most campuses are adopting amnesty programs that are meant to keep everyone out of trouble, so if you or a friend seeks/needs medical attention, you will avoid being in trouble and simply get the help that is needed.

4. The Do's and Don'ts of Sharing Clothes With Your Roommate:
If you're lucky, you and your friends/roommates might be able and willing to share clothes, shoes and accessories. This was such a fun part of college for me because I never had sisters! After two years, I definitely learned my lesson about which friends will take care of my precious belongings, and how to take care of others' as well. Never lend out something valuable, expensive or sentimental. No one will judge you for it, and it's not worth the risk. If you borrow something, ask permission, and be sure to return it immediately after (no more than 24 hours!) Always double check their preference for caring for the item...some people are very particular about how something is washed. They might want you to wash before returning, or they might freak if you do that (I am the latter). Just ask before doing! 

5. My roommate and I have completely different schedules. How do I handle getting ready while she is sleeping, or vice versa? I don't want to be inconsiderate, but I also need to get ready efficiently for class!
If you have a super early morning class, try to be courteous and do the majority of your morning routine in the bathroom, or ask your roommate to do the same if she is an early riser. Sleep is sacred in college, and doing whatever you can to eliminate any unnecessary noise or disruptions for each other is definitely the right way to approach it. However, be sure to also be understanding that this is a shared space, and everyone will need to get ready at some point! This is where things like your own individual desk lamp, lighted makeup mirror, and a great pair of noise-cancelling headphones are key! 

I really truly hope this guide was helpful, and again - if there are questions I missed, please feel free to email me at prepessentials@gmail.com or comment below and I will add them to this list as I see 


1

Post-Grad Series: Meeting New People!

Coming from Miami University to Chicago was honestly a pretty much as easy of a transition as anyone could hope for after college in terms of knowing people. I got to skip the scary part of being completely and utterly alone in a new, huge city, and for that I am especially grateful. 

On the other hand, I mostly hear incredible stories and adventures from those people I know who were really on their own, and they said it helped them grow and change more than any other life experience! To each their own, but I was very content having a support system to lean on in those first few months. 

Whether you've got your entire graduating class surrounding you, or you're isolated and alone - finding and interacting with new people after college is so tough and AWKWARD! You don't get to just sit next to someone in class and suddenly become their best friend anymore, and you feel like you're too old to simply stroll up and say "Hi, want to be my friend?" 

Proof is in the picture - this is me and my friend Zoe, the very first day that I met her in NYC! She was a best friend & roommate of an old friend of mine!

Despite having a ton of college friends, hometown friends, and even some family and familiar coworkers from my internship after graduating, I still felt like it was really important to me that I branch out and meet new people. 

In case you're struggling with how to do that without seeming totally crazy, keep reading for some of my best advice on how to make new friends in a new place after college!

The same NYC trip, where these lovely ladies graciously granted me a weekend-membership to their girl gang. 

Utilize Your Network | Not to make this sound like getting a job, but I would say networking is the single best way to meet new people in a city. If you even know one person there - take advantage of that. Probably 95% of the new friends I've made since graduating were because they knew someone that I knew...I've met some of my best friends at other friends' birthday dinners, at friends' apartments before going out on a weekend, or even at brunch when we all try to bring together our various groups. If they like your friend, there's a good chance you two will have something in common too! 

Coworkers | I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to work in a young or bustling work environment filled with people your own age...but if you are (or even if you aren't) coworkers are still a great resource to meet new people! This also ties into the point above. If you and some coworkers go out for drinks and each bring a friend or roommate along...that's such an awkward-free way to meet new people!

Join Something | Whether you're into sports or not, find a club, group or intramural league and JOIN. This was the rule of thumb in college, and it holds true now! See if your company or your neighborhood has an intramural sports league, or a volunteer idea. Drag one of your friends along if you want to make it a little less lonely, but don't lean on them so heavily that you seem closed off to meeting new people! 

Fitness Classes | I truthfully still don't understand how people claim they "meet at their gym". I always made it a point to stick to my own thing at a gym, but if you feel confident doing that, more power to you! I was never really a fitness class girl until I joined Pure Barre - but I've never looked back! It took me about four months to really start striking up conversations, but I realized there were a few girls there every single day at the same class time as me...and now we're friends! We grab drinks after class and text on the weekends. Plus, it's so nice having someone else going to help motivate myself!

Family Friends | This goes hand in hand with the first point, in a way, but if you're really truly on your own in a new place...I can pretty much guarantee you at least know someone who is a family friend who knows someone else there. The world is smaller than you think! This one might feel a little awkward, but I really can't recommend it enough. My cousin lives in Colorado, and a friend of mine moved out there literally all alone. I kept pushing them to touch base and grab coffee, and they were able to introduce each other to some new people and they got along great! It's a start, and personally I'd rather feel awkward for one minute than alone for many.

In case you try out one of these "friend finding spots" but still don't know how to un-awkwardly approach striking up a conversation, this article has all of my favorite go-to's and some solid tips for breaking the ice without feeling like we're in kindergarten again! 


0

Essentials of the Week!

This week was pretty uneventful...it felt like the main theme of it was planning ahead! Fall is right around the corner (whether other people want to admit it or not!) and I have a lot of really exciting plans, for both the blog and life in general!

I spent Tuesday evening with my content calendar and decided I'd really love if you could leave a comment with posts you'd love to see in the next few months! Whether it's styling a certain outfit trend, recipes, back to school related posts, job advice...I want to hear what you guys are excited about!

Here are my essentials from this week:


1.  Blake Lively Being Amazing | This video of Blake Lively at an award ceremony was brought to my attention earlier this week and I couldn't not share it. Fair warning - the content is a little dark and serious, but so important. Be sure to read through the description in case this is something you'd be upset by, but I love that she continues to be inspiring and use her influence in important ways!

2. Doggie Day Care | On a much lighter note, I couldn't stop smiling (and replaying) this video of this adorable dog who can't wait to board the bus for doggie day care. They barely get the doors open in time! Be sure to watch with sound. 

3. 90's Nails | I'm constantly talking about my obsession with Essie Nail Polish, but I couldn't resist sharing their new 90's theme collection! The names include things like, "As If" (shoutout to Clueless), and Saved by the Belle! Check them out

4. The Queen of the Screen | Jennifer Aniston might be one of my favorite actresses of all time, and I was seriously just speculating with friends a week ago about how much money she must be raking in. This article broke down her seemingly never-ending success (but sadly it doesn't tell you how she's managed not to age in the last 20 years). 

5. Making the Grade | Having been obsessed with straight A's growing up, and being exposed to five different grading systems - yes, five - I've always been particularly interested in the debate about how students should be graded, and for what. This article is a little lengthier, but it really debates every single aspect and I found it so fascinating!
1

Jack Rogers Warehouse Sale...RIGHT NOW!

Interrupting today's regular programming because Jack Rogers is having a MAJOR warehouse sale for the first time...ever! Over 350 styles are on sale up to 60% off and you do not want to miss this.

I know summer is coming to a close, but we've still got a lot of warm days ahead (not to mention fun beach vacations any time of the year!) and these will be great to have on sale now before the prices skyrocket at the beginning of Spring next year!
I picked up my first pair of Jack Rogers sandals this spring on sale, and I am absolutely in love with them. They are so comfortable, they go with everything, and they last forever!


I rounded up some of the cutest styles below, but there are so many more on the site so head over there and check it out Sandals, heels, booties, flats...a little bit of everything for everyone. 



0

Weeknight Grilling + A Recipe!

Now that we've started to settle into a new routine and are simultaneously trying to embrace the summertime that we have left, Dalton and I have started grilling every Wednesday night with different recipes and sides so that we can sit out on the patio and take a break halfway through the work week.

I've been loving this little midway addition to my work weeks, and it always makes them feel shorter and less grueling! I've also loved the new chances to test out recipes (for someone besides only myself) and turn off all of the noise/social media/technology for an entire evening after work. 

Last night we tried out an out of this world (and incredibly easy) roasted potato recipe that I know I'm going to be adding into my rotation as often as possible. We combined it with some burgers on the grill and some corn on the cob, poured some wine, and turned on my favorite relaxing patio playlist (on Spotify). Doesn't get much better than that, does it?!

Anyway, with this new addition to our routine I'm planning on sharing any of the particularly incredible recipes I try out (and some of the fails, too - be sure to follow along on Instagram Stories for that!) with all of you!

Keep reading for the easiest, affordable, and so insanely delicious roasted potato recipe!


Ingredients 

  • 2 lbs. red potatoes, cut into 1 in. pieces
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 clove = 1-1.5 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I added a little extra at the end, too!)
Directions
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, spray a baking sheet. 
  • Put the potato pieces into a large mixing bowl, add the olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, oregano, salt & pepper. 
  • Toss together until the seasonings are spread thoroughly.
  • Spread potatoes evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes. Sprinkle a little parmesan on top at the end, and serve!
Here are some bonus snaps of our (very casual) date night last week, too! 




0

Romper Under $40!

Ahh. Guys, I love being tall, but I have spent years being jealous of all of the cute rompers that my friends can seemingly just throw on and have a complete outfit with ease. 

Between my long legs and even longer torso (again, not complaining, I swear!) I have never once ever tried on a romper that remotely fit me...until now. Seriously, trying them on in stores was such a discouraging experience that I started to hate it more than jean shopping (until I found these beauties!)

Romper (c/o) | Sandals | Sunglasses | Necklace (c/o) | Earrings (c/o)

I fell in love with this pretty spring/summer floral romper as soon as I saw it. The flowy shape of it and the cute bow on the side were details I just couldn't ignore...but I did hold my breath while I waited for it in the mail, trying not to get my hopes up about yet another failed romper try-on experience. 


I was honestly so surprised when I tried it on and it fit that I assumed I must have had too much wine that night, and would re-visit it the next day! Clearly I had lost faith in these little garments. 



Now I've been wearing it in total excess, to everything from Dalton's birthday dinner to Sunday strolls around Lincoln Park! The colors are so pretty and light, and the flowy style keeps me from getting to hot while walking around on these hotter summer days. 

I only wish I'd had this in the Spring! I paired it with my favorite brown block heel sandals and loved the way it pulled the look together. 


Right around the same time I got the romper, I received this beautiful necklace from Grace + Hudson, a new local Chicago jewelry retailer with the prettiest pieces! I think it would be so great for wedding/bridesmaid season or even as a gift. 



The necklaces and earrings come in so many different colors, and they're dainty enough to really work well with any outfit. I loved the way the blues and greens in the romper matched mine!

Grace + Hudson also donates a portion of every sale to charity, and I think her story is crazy badass. She went from being a lawyer to a jewelry designer! You can read more about her story right here

If you happen to bump into me in Chicago between now and fall weather, there is a high chance you'll be seeing me in this exact outfit ;)

 Romper (c/o) | Sandals | Sunglasses | Necklace (c/o) | Earrings (c/o)
0

Essentials of the Week!

This was one of those absolutely incredible weeks where nothing special happened, but everything just felt good. Things felt like they were clicking into place, I felt on top of my routine and fitness/eating habits, and overall I just felt so content. 

This isn't to say I've been unhappy lately, but this was the first week I've had in a long time where it just felt like everything was exactly as it was supposed to be...and I can't even begin to describe how good that felt. I legitimately had several "pinch me" moments this week when I'd randomly reflect on how at ease I felt with how my life has been going, and I realized that despite the occasional hiccup here or there, things are just really, really, good!

I hope some (or all) of you have been feeling that way lately, too! If not, maybe take a few minutes on Sunday to take note of which things feel off, and set some small goals to get them back on course. That's what I did a few weeks ago, and I am here to tell you - it pays off!

Here's to more amazing days over the weekend, and my essentials from this week!


1. Living Big in Small Spaces | Ever since I discovered this amazing Instagram account last year, I've become weirdly in love with seeing the insane ways people convert old buses into full-blown homes that are, frankly, nicer than my city apartment. Sometimes I wonder if they've got life way more figured out...this renovation is one of the best ones I've ever seen!

2. Finding Some "Me" Time | I've always placed a huge priority on carving out a few days or nights a week where I focus solely on myself and do activities alone...and I loved this list of ideas for fun (Non-Netflix) ways to spend alone time! Definitely going to add some of these into my schedule for next week. 

3. Jeans You NEED In Your Life | I am so in love with every single detail of these jeans...I have never once branched out with jeans, and besides swapping out the colors it has always been something I covet from afar and don't pay attention to. I am absolutely adding these to the wish list, though!

4. The Best Fashion Advice I've Read Lately | I'm probably the world's biggest advocate of "lazy" fashion. I love great clothes and style, but I also love to hit snooze until ten minutes before I walk out the door. Finding and stocking your closet with these "lazy essentials" will have you looking polished, put together, and...well rested ;)

5. How to Keep Your Jeans Lasting a Lifetime | I spent years trying to find the perfect pair of jeans...and now my new focus is making sure they stay in good condition. These tips are definitely going to come in handy!

0

End of Summer Bucket List!

Whether or not the weather will acknowledge it or not, to me summer is always coming to an end once August rolls around. It might be an unpopular opinion among some, but I absolutely love fall and could live in it year round, if there were such a place!

The official end of summer isn't until the third week of September, but believe it or not, friends...that is only 6 weeks away!!

That's six more weeks to squeeze in all of your favorite summer activities and events, soak up as much sun and sand as possible, and spend every possible moment outdoors. Just because I love the fall doesn't mean I don't appreciate summer, too! 

I've been so busy running around this summer that I've neglected a lot of my all-time favorite activities that I normally enjoy this time of year, so I wanted to pull together a bucket list to help myself (and all of you) make the most of these last six weeks of summer!

What would you put on the list?! Add it to the comments below!


Make Homemade Fruit Popsicles

Grill a Meal Outside

Visit a Farmer's Market

Attend an Outdoor Concert

Have a Picnic in the Park

Ride Bikes

Go to the Beach/Lakeshore

Find a Drive-In Movie Theater (Or a Movie in the Park!)

Stargaze

Go Swimming 

Walk to Get Late Night Ice Cream

Spend Hours Reading Outside

Find a Fun Hiking Spot

Pick Strawberries (or Lavender, or whatever grows in your area!)

Go to a Local Baseball Game

Make Fresh Squeezed Lemonade (Try a fun flavor like Raspberry Lemonade!)

Lunch from a Food Truck

Make S'mores (preferably with a campfire!)

Shop End of Summer Sales


0

Post-Grad Essentials: Decorating (Like Pinterest) on a Budget!

Having older siblings and a mother who was an interior decorator definitely taught me at an early age that decorating and furnishing a home or apartment is one of the most expensive endeavors you'll ever take on...but that doesn't mean it has to be right out of the gate!

I touched on the topic a bit last week trying to help you determine which pieces are best to invest in, and which are great for finding a cheap and flimsy option to get you by for the first few years of post-grad life - so if you aren't sure about those aspects, definitely check out that post right here, too!

I definitely wanted to elaborate a little bit more on where you can find the best affordable options for every type of item, though, to help those of you who aren't sure where to look. Just because you're on a budget doesn't mean you can't have a space that you absolutely love - and you should have a space that you love and that makes you happy! 

This is your home now, and it's not like a dorm room or an off-campus house. When you come home from a long day at work, you want to be able to feel relaxed, calm and content. I'm sharing all of my favorite places, stores and websites to get anything and everything home decor-related to help you create your Pinterest-worthy space!


For Smaller Decor Items, Pillows, Throws, & Wall Art...

Minted | This is hands down the first and foremost place that I recommend to people looking for new art prints - especially if you're trying to build a gallery wall. Price points can absolutely vary from incredibly affordable to insanely expensive, but that's also what I love about it! There is something for everyone. The prices also shift depending on size and frame that you choose, but you can select from tons of different frame options and really customize it to fit the exact look you were hoping for. They have different categories and search filters, so whether you want photography, drawings, paintings, graphic designs...they're all there! 

Homegoods | This store doesn't have an online shop unfortunately, but there's a very solid chance there is one in your area! You can honestly find everything here. Blankets, pillows, wall accents, coffee table pieces, candles, hampers, and even some great furniture, bedding or linens! This is a one-stop-shop type of place. The downsides are really that every single store has different inventory, you never know what you're going to find, and every location is different - but that's also what makes it so great! You can find such unique and great pieces every time you shop. You can search for a location near you here.

Society6 | A hidden gem find that I stumbled across shortly after I graduated, this is my go-to for throw pillows and a few other smaller items. They have so many different options, and I always think that throw pillows are an easy thing to change out and make a room feel totally refreshed and new.

For Furniture & Bigger Items...

Overstock | I recently found a gorgeous new headboard here for so cheap, and it was so easy to find that I was honestly frustrated...because I had spent the last two years looking everywhere I could possibly think of! Now I know to check here for bigger items like this in the future when I'm on a tight budget.

Roomplace | Okay, I apologize because this one is really for the Illinois/Indiana and surrounding area, but it is too good not to share. This is how I found an amazing sectional couch that was incredibly comfortable and soft, and about $750 discounted. If you happen to live within their range, ordering online is easy or you can check to see if they're nearby!

Ikea | Probably the most obvious on this list, but not to be overlooked! I bought all my of my bedroom furniture here in my junior year of college, and with careful care and very careful moving, I'm still using them! You can get tons of great essentials here too, and pretty much everything in between. If you have a store somewhat nearby I recommend getting a big car and heading there to avoid shipping fees, but you can order online, too!

World Market | I definitely recommend using the search filters to find items within your budget on this site, because they do cover the whole spectrum...but they also have a little bit of everything! Furniture, smaller decor, pillows and blankets, and lights - you're going to be able to find it all here! I've been coveting this bar cart for a while but haven't been able to justify it just yet!

For the Essentials...

Target | As if anyone needs another excuse to head to Target (aka heaven), they really do have such an unbelievable selection of home decor. Like Homegoods, they're going to have everything and anything that you need, from start to finish. Admittedly, sometimes the random piece here or there may be pricey, but if you're not overly picky you can absolutely decorate an entire space with this store alone. So many pieces in my apartment are from Target! It's also great for the essentials, like shower curtains, bath mats, toilet scrubbers, kitchenware, etc. 

Bed Bath & Beyond | Another obvious but great option for everything in between. I have one down the street from me, and anytime I'm missing something simple like a lightbulb, a surge protector, or something easy for the bathroom like a trash can, I head here. I force myself to avoid the kitchen section, as it's filled with all of the amazing and time-saving gadgets any chef could dream of, but every once in a while I let myself pick out something small to make meal prep and cooking a little bit easier!

TJ Maxx | I didn't discover the magic of this store until I was in college and every person I knew who had grown up in Ohio swore by this store...now I see why! Similar to HomeGoods and World Market, they've got a little bit of everything, and I've found some amazing little decor finds here, too! We just picked out some succulent plants to hang on our patio here and they really pulled the space together. 
0