October 2016 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

The Perfect T-Shirt Dress

I've been trying to focus really hard on spending as much time outdoors as possible while I still can, and this weird hot/cold Chicago weather has certainly been making it easy for me! We had so much fun last weekend exploring the city and parks last Sunday while Dalton was here (and of course, celebrating a big Cubs victory! Go Cubbies!)

We started the day with an early lunch at Bar Cocina, one of my favorite places down the street from my apartment. The atmosphere is so trendy and fun, and the patio is always busy. If you're ever in the area, I strongly recommend trying out a few of their tacos (especially the Mahi Mahi!)

I have to give Dalton a huge shout out here - photography is in no way a hobby or interest of his, nor is fashion or blogging, but he is always such a trooper when he is in town and puts up with my super-specific instructions and requests for help taking blog outfit pictures. He's actually been doing a pretty great job! Thanks Dalton :)

We grabbed some bikes and rode around the parks and I was totally in awe of how stunning Chicago is right now - the leaves, parks and lakeshore are just beautiful! While we were exploring the parks on our way to the Fall Festival at the Lincoln Park Zoo, we found a few cool new areas to snap some shots (although it was pretty hot that day, and I was definitely wearing a more summery outfit than I anticipated - I still found a way to incorporate the plaid though!)

Overall, it was a wonderful Sunday spent outside together, with a brief visit to see the animals and topped off with ice cream at my favorite spot - Oberweiss. If you haven't tried it yet, you absolutely have to go soon (before it's too cold!) I've been a Graeter's girl my entire life, but honestly nothing tops Oberweiss. 

Scroll down for details on my outfit that has been my go-to anytime the weather has hit above 65 degrees and sunny!

Hi-Neck T-Shirt Dress // Flannel Sold Out from Here, Similar here and here // Sunglasses // Converse Shoes // Similar WatchSimilar Watch

I picked up this little grey T-shirt dress at American Eagle a few weeks ago, and it's on sale! My roommate originally grabbed it in black and maroon, and I just knew I needed one for myself. It has been the ultimate go-to whenever I've had a weekend day filled with random plans, need to run a few errands, or even to dress up or down!

Wrapping this little flannel around me has been the perfect solution to this up-and-down weather nonsense. I had it on during lunch, wrapped around me all day, and then put it back on as it got closer to dinner and the temperature started to drop. It's all about layers for now! This exact one is sold out, but here you can find all of my favorite fall flannels, and a similar one here and here!

It took me a long time to get on the Converse bandwagon, but now I can't imagine what took me so long. If you're still on the fence about picking up a pair, I say go for it! They've been great for long days with a lot of walking and moving around. 

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Essentials of the Week!

Happy Hallo-weekend! This week was super productive and hectic, and I loved how quickly the work days flew by...mostly because I've been looking forward to a low-key weekend of rest ever since my alarm went off on Monday morning!

I packed in a ton of extra Pure Barre classes for this month's 20 in 31 challenge - 20 classes in 31 days, that is - which is a lot tougher than you think! Factoring in the weekend Dalton was here, and my visit out to Pittsburgh in two weeks and that only gives me three skip days for the entire month! Possibly not the most realistic, but I've been doing my best!

On top of that, I've been trying out my new Blue Apron recipes for the first time (more on that next week) and I'm really just trying to take advantage this weekend and next of the rare times that I don't have a ton of plans, visitors, or travel booked. Anyone have a new book to read?! I'm dying to cozy up with one and bury my head in it all weekend (amidst Halloween movies and treats, of course!)

These were my essentials for this week!

1 | This Self-Love by Ashley Graham  I loved this video of supermodel Ashley Graham talking about self-love in a world full of comparisons. So inspiring and such a good role model for kids!

2. | The Most Exciting Part about Thanksgiving This Year - For anyone who hasn't already seen it (or wants to watch it seven more times like I did) they have released the first official trailer of the Gilmore Girls Revival! I am beyond excited and have already been contemplating how to get away with hiding from family and binge-watching all 6 hours the day after Thanksgiving...

3. | A Different Way to Wear Plaid This Fall - I've been staring at this gorgeous skirt from Madewell all week long, day dreaming about holiday season outfits. The shirttail detailing is adorable!

4. | The Ultimate Relationship #Goals - This video was too adorable, and so so sweet. Makes me want to book a ton of travel for 2017, finally pull the trigger and buy a GoPro, and make one of my own!

5. | The Perfect Cocktail for Your Halloween Festivities - I'm fully planning on cozying up with a pile of Halloween movies, some spooky treats and sipping on this drink tonight! Super simple to make!

Have a Wonderful & Safe Halloween Weekend Everyone!

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Brunch in the Hamptons

I mentioned in my posts last week that last weekend I got to enjoy brunch at one of my favorite spots in the city - The Hampton Social. The entire restaurant is themed and decorated after the Hamptons and Montauk, and they really paid attention to the little details!

The whole place is decked out in nautical decor with live music, a light and airy aesthetic, and signs pointing to different "beaches". The definite claim-to-fame spot of the entire place is the ivy-covered wall with a neon pink Rosé All Day sign (so Instagram famous it's insane...ps, are we Instagram friends yet?!)

It might have been fall styles and fall weather outside, but it was definitely nice to head to the 'beach' for the morning with some crab cakes, lobster rolls and arugula salad. I'm getting hungry just remembering it now!

I stuck to a cozier and more casual outfit for the brunch because of the non-stop stream of activities we had planned for the day, including my first trip to DryBar and an afternoon spent on the patio at Kirkwood, another favorite spot in Lakeview (if you've never been you must try their giant pretzel! Trust me).

I mentioned it in yesterday's post, but the blowouts were great and we picked up a ton of new products we loved. I definitely recommend the Triple Sec - it's a texturizer, volumizer and dry shampoo...aka your new best friend! I was a huge fan of the curling iron too...it's so nice that it spins on it's own so you can avoid all of those difficult arm rotations above your head. Has anyone else tried a Drybar product that they absolutely loved?? I've linked the ones I picked up below! 

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6 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety

I typically tend to have a bit of hesitation when it comes to getting too personal on certain topics with this blog, but some of my favorite posts from bloggers I love most are the times that they get a little more personal, and a little more real...especially on topics that so many people are encountering, and could benefit from. 

Anxiety is something that I think always has that weird stigma to it...some people may over-use the term, and people who feel that they have more severe cases typically feel that their friends and family can't understand how they're feeling on particularly anxious days. I myself have a good amount of anxiety, as do many of my closest friends, so this issue is not foreign to me at all. 

Anxiety is something I've dealt with for a really long time, and there have been certain years in my life where it has been 5x worse than others. It's completely dependent on situations, but this has just taught me more methods of managing and controlling it, and how to help ease it on my own. 

The two times I would say my anxiety reached its absolute peak was during my Junior year of college, and during my first year after graduating. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to it, and it's different for everyone, but the one thing that seems to be consistent for everyone is the difficulty in managing it...and people close to you not understanding why you're struggling.

I personally feel like over the years I've really mastered (for the most part) how to manage even my worst anxiety, and how to fairly quickly calm myself back down when things seem particularly tough, so I wanted to share some of my best tricks when things feel way too overwhelming.

One // Pinpoint What Makes You Anxious. If you deal with anxiety, it's likely that by now you at least know what a few of your "triggers" are for anxiety attacks or heightened anxiety, but maybe you haven't identified all of them. Knowing which events, problems, or activities tend to heighten your anxiety is the most important step in knowing how to manage and control it - you can't calm your mind if you aren't even sure what your mind is worked up about in the first place. Start making a mental note (or keep a list in the notes section of your phone) when you notice something making you anxious. If you aren't sure of exactly what it is, jot down a note or two about your current surroundings/circumstances/situation...looking at it later might help you see more clearly what was upsetting you.

Two // Find an Outlet. One of the worst parts of anxiety can be feeling trapped or as if you don't have any sort of outlet for all of your nervous energy and heightened emotions...and this can sometimes translate into negative outlets instead (such as a cranky mood or picking an argument with someone close to you). This, in turn, can create even more anxiety later when you start to worry about whatever negative outlet you ended up focusing on. Instead, come up with a few outlets for yourself that will help channel the energy somewhere more positive (or at least keep it from heading in a negative place). For me, writing and blogging is one of my best outlets, but if that's not accessible a good book or article works well too, along with a calming playlist. Exercising is a great option too, and tends to give you mental clarity much faster than other options. Whatever it may be, try to have multiple ones in mind so you're never stuck without an idea.

Three // Take Away the Stress Factor. My absolute favorite go-to way of tackling my anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed is making a list (and this is always my most-recommended tactic for my friends, as well). When it seems as if you have a million things to do and no time to do them, spend ten minutes writing everything down day by day. Put everything on it's assigned "due date' or time that it needs to happen, and then you'll have a birds-eye view of your week. You might realize that you have more time than you thought on Tuesday, so that would be a great spot for things without specific timelines (like maybe tackling your laundry pile). Every time I try this tip, I instantly feel calmer and realize that everything can get done...as long as I take it one day at a time.

Four // Are You Taking Care of Yourself? Typically when things get busy for me, taking care of myself (both mentally and physically) is the first thing off the list...and that is crazy! If I feel too busy, I might skip a workout or ignore things like doing my hair that week. While it's sometimes okay to let these things slip, these simple parts of my self-care routine are really important to me feeling like I have things together and on track. Usually during an overwhelmed or anxious day (especially if I'm not sure why I'm anxious) a hot shower, a comfy but cute outfit, and taking a few extra minutes to look presentable can make all the difference. Don't de-prioritize yourself over everything else you need to get done!

Five // Relaxation Techniques. If all else fails, it's important to have a strategy of ways to relax yourself. Relaxation is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and different things work for different people. It could be exercising, turning all of your devices off and giving yourself 30 minutes of alone time, immersing yourself in a book, doing some stretches and yoga (along with some deep breathing exercises)...the list goes on and on. Know what works for you and make it just as important as the other things on your to-do list.

Six  // Remember the Most Important Thing...will this matter a month, six months, or a year from now? Chances are...it won't. Let that sink into your mentality, and only give it the level of importance and urgency that it deserves. Sometimes things can feel like they weigh a thousand tons on your mind...and in reality, you will probably feel silly even an hour from now when you realize how much you panicked. Repeat this as a mantra until your brain accepts it as true.

Does anyone else suffer from anxiety or severe stress? What are your best ways of coping? Thanks for listening to my (more personal) rant - I hope these tips are as helpful to some of you as they have been for me!

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What to Do When You're Failing a College Class

We've somehow already arrived to being past the halfway point of October...which also means that for those of you still in school, you're probably been inundated with midterms, group project deadlines, and other major assignments. You might also be starting to get your first indication of what grade you can expect in your classes by the end of the semester...especially for classes that have few opportunities to earn points. 

After speaking with several of my friends who are still in school and dealing with the stresses of trying to maintain a social life, a high GPA, and a part-time job (for some), it was definitely clear to me that everyone's stress levels are reaching their peak right about now. 

Having been a major over-achiever in high school, obsessed with getting nothing bu straight A's while also participating and holding leadership positions in practically every single class and club, I was no stranger to stress. This was why I was in for a huge surprise the first time in college that I realized...I was about to fail my first class. Ever. 

You can imagine the meltdown scene that ensued. Math had never been my forte, and evidently Statistics (a required course for me) was not going to be an exception to the rule. I had never been a bad student in my life, and felt like no matter what I was trying, I couldn't get a decent grade on anything in that class! 

I began to panic about how my GPA would sink, that I would lose my place in the Business School, and that everything in my life path was going to be thrown off course (dramatic much? yep). This was just such a new thing for me, and I had absolutely no idea how to handle it. Starting to sound familiar? 

Now that I'm older and out of college, I realized that not only is there nothing to be ashamed of when you're tanking one of your college courses, but it's practically a rite of passage. I don't think I had a single friend (even the smartest, most over-achieving ones) that didn't have at least one course they had to drop and re-take, or met a similar panic moment come midterm season. 

You can stop your panic in its tracks right now though - this is perfectly normal, not uncommon at all, and there are really important steps you can take to turn things around...I promise! I'm sharing the lessons and tips I learned when I started failing my first college course, so that hopefully you don't worry yourself into a stress coma the way I did during my freshman year!

Step One // Take a Deep Breath & Assess. There is a huge difference in "failing" and "not being very successful". I held myself to incredibly high standards, so before college anything less than an A to me was essentially unacceptable. While it's great to have goals for yourself, college is not high school...at all. Make sure your personal expectations are realistic. You can only expect your best effort from yourself, and if that's what you're giving, it's okay to take a deep breath and cut yourself some slack. 

Step Two // Ask Yourself the Critical Questions. Is it too late to drop the class and take a "W"? (A W, despite common misconception, is not a 'black mark' on your record. It's insanely common to take a "W" for a class, and re-take the class at another time when maybe your work schedule or personal life will allow you to dedicate your best energy and efforts. Employers aren't going to snub you because of a "W" in a difficult class from your first year of college...they were students once too! Most colleges do have deadlines for when you have to take a "W" by, however, so do a little digging and find out what those deadlines are. If it's not too late, this might be the best option until you can re-try the course another time. 

Step Three // What to Do if it's Too Late to Drop. You've done your research, and it turns out the deadlines have come and gone, and you're definitely going to have to stick this course out for the remainder of the semester. Don't panic! There are still plenty of steps you can take. First, schedule a meeting with your professor (or drop by office hours). Come prepared with some questions about the grades you've been receiving. Teachers highly respect a student that takes the initiative to ask questions and figure out where you can improve - it shows that the course and grade matter to you! They are typically willing to work with you and go over quiz or exam scores, and figure out which parts you didn't understand. They might even be willing to give you a list of additional practice questions and then check over them with you - don't be afraid to ask for help!

Step Four // What Can You Do On Your Own? Beyond visiting the professor for additional help, there are plenty of resources available to you on campus. Most colleges have a completely FREE tutoring center where you can sign up to be tutored in your courses by other students. (Yep - FREE). Apply for a tutor and start bringing your homework, failed quizzes/exams/papers with you, and see if they can help you understand it on a different level. This 100% saved my statistics grade, and I was able to have problems explained to me in a way I could understand. My grades improved dramatically, and the professor ended up bumping my on-the-border grade at the end of the semester because I had proven how much work I was willing to put in. 

Step Five // What Other Resources Should I Try? This all depends on the class and your unique situation, but there are so many different ways to seek additional help. Beyond the professor and a tutor, if you belong to an organization (especially a sorority) there is a huge chance that someone else in your organization has taken the class too, and might have helpful study tips or be willing to spend some library time with you working through your struggles (maybe in exchange for a cup of coffee on you!) For some courses (like statistics, economics, science...)  YouTube is actually an incredible place to find easy and simplified tutorials of topics. Extra bonus: you can pause, rewind, and take notes as you go. 

*Fun fact - YouTube is legitimately how I taught myself my entire Level 2 Economics class...I just could not understand my professor and needed a new voice/method of learning!*

Step Six // Go Easy on Yourself. I can't reiterate enough how important it is to give yourself a break from time to time. College is really difficult, and there is a high chance that in your four years (or less/more) there, you are bound to run into a class or two that just isn't your best. In the grand scheme of things, one class is not going to destroy your entire GPA. As long as you are doing your best, exhausting all of the options (like the ones I listed above) and working hard, you can't possibly expect better from yourself. So take a deep breath, and remember that everything is going to work out! (These tricks are also great for slowing things down and relaxing when things get really overwhelming!)

I hope these help avoid the panic and anxiety so many students experience these days with everything we are expected to balance...I certainly wish I could have gone back and told myself these tips when I was a scared freshman in a huge seminar-style statistics class! Good luck with midterms, and remember to relax!

PS - I also recommend my study and motivation tips for college...they are real life-savers!

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Essentials of the Week!

This week (thankfully) flew by for the most part, and thank goodness because Dalton gets here today! I'm looking forward to a weekend of as many fall-related and basic activities as I can possibly convince him to participate in with me...Does anyone have any suggestions for the Chicago area?! We're always looking for new ideas!

Other than that, this was a pretty quiet week, too. Nothing overly exciting happened, but I think with how things have been in the news and society lately I will take a quiet week over a dramatic one anytime. 

Start off your weekend on a positive note with my Essentials of the Week - enjoy!

1. Fantasy Gifts from Neiman Marcus - I had to share this one solely because of the Lilly Pulitzer Island Cars...super unpractical obviously, but so much fun! The list of Fantasy Gift Items from Neiman Marcus this year is seriously unreal.

2. Finally a Solution for Staring at Screens - I stare at a screen during my commutes, all day at work, when I get home and work on the blog, and watching TV before bed...(such a sad thing to admit). I've been paranoid about my vision getting damaged from screens for a while now, and then I found Felix Gray glasses! They are designed to reduce the strain on our eyes from screens. They don't have prescriptions just yet, but you can wear them with contacts. Apparently they sold out super fast last time, and they're already available for pre-order this December! It's free returns + exchanges + shipping, so I decided to give it a try. Best part? They look awfully similar to my favorite eyewear brand, Warby Parker!

3. The Cutest Plaid Shirt for Fall - I have been lusting after this plaid shirt from J.Crew for ages, and it's finally back on J.Crew Factory and at an amazing price! I constantly see it in Instagrams, and have been dying to scoop up one of my own. Needless to say, it was an instant purchase (but far from impulsive!)

4. One of (Very Few) Positive News Stories Right Now - This made my week Monday morning. I have totally checked out from news sources and social media as much as possible these days...the stress, hate and arguing has completely exhausted me. THIS story was such a nice break from that! Check out the sweet sentiments our Northern neighbors in Canada sent us to cheer up the news cycle earlier this week.

5. The 5-Hour Workday - Talk about a CEO's strategy that I could stand behind...I loved this article about how a CEO gave his employees back more time in their lives, and in return they work harder and smarter. The concept behind his idea is brilliant, and made so much sense to me. Is Friday over yet?!

That's all for this week, friends! Hope you enjoyed it - does anyone have any fun weekend plans? I'm off to count down the minutes until Dalton's plane lands so we can do all of the #basic fall activities I've been putting off! #AllThePumpkinThings !

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Blowout at DryBar: Pros & Cons

One of the items on my bucket list for October was to finally see what all the hype was about and get my first blowout at DryBar.  Luckily, I had the perfect opportunity for a girls day when my parents were in town, and we went to the Lincoln Park location near my apartment! 

We started off the day with a brunch at Hampton Social (which was amazing, and if you haven't been there yet or are planning a trip to Chicago soon I highly recommend it!) then headed over to DryBar to get a little bit of pampering. 

It looked like it was a fairly busy day there, and they were running about 15 minutes behind but we weren't in any hurry. The first thing I noticed was that it wasn't hot in there at all - this might be a strange observation, but with 8 hair dryers going full blast right in front of you, this was so odd to me! Girls were getting all kinds of different styles, including one really pretty updo with braids that I loved. (The rest of their style lookbook is pretty great, too!)

PS - I'm going to apologize in advance for the total lack of pictures/poor quality - I was a little too distracted during the process to get anything better than a few Snapchats and Instagram stories!

This was right after the stylist was finished! 

This was at the College Fashion Week Event about 4-5 hours after my blowout (and after some touch-ups I did myself at home!)

Once they had our details settled we went upstairs to get our hair rinsed and ready. We opted to get the Bay Breeze Hydrating Shot treatment in addition to our blowouts which is meant to (obviously) hydrate dry, weak or color-treated hair. 

Then we were whisked off to our chairs to get started on the styling. Thankfully they had tons of magazines and movies playing on screens in front of you (with subtitles, of course) so it was so nice to just sit back, relax and let someone else do the work for you! I chose the Cosmo-Tai style for a relaxed and loose curled look.

At the end, I absolutely loved the look, and we both picked out a few products to keep so that we could try and re-create it ourselves! You can shop what we picked out below (but this one is my personal favorite and apparently their best-seller!) One of my favorite parts of the products is that they don't smell like chemicals...they actually smell really nice!

*The stylists were incredibly helpful, so don't be afraid to ask questions and get tips for how/when to use certain products!*

I know there are different ways that they recommend to prolong your Blowout, but this was the part that really disappointed me. My curls were almost completely gone within a few short hours - I can't say for sure if this was common, or if it's because we sat on a fairly windy patio (I'm leaning towards blaming the patio, but it was still a disappointment!)

Thankfully, with the help of my favorite straightener and some of my new products (like this hairspray) it only required a few touch-ups to be good as new! Here are the pros and cons broken down:

Pros: For a fairly low price point, it was definitely a great pampering experience with great products and stylists, and plenty of options to choose from. I think you would most benefit if you're looking to do an updo on a cheaper budget!

Cons: I'm not 100% confident that the loose and relaxed curls last long enough for it to necessarily be worth your money (unless you think you can rescue it on your own as it starts to fall down). The products might be a better bang for your buck than the experience itself!

Overall, for $40 + tip I would absolutely recommend looking up your nearest location and giving it a try the next time you have a special event or maybe just a big date! There are tons of styles to choose from, and hopefully you can be smarter than I was and avoid a windy patio! 

Has anyone else tried DryBar (or another blowout salon?) I would love to hear if anyone else had similar pros and cons with the experience!

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College Fashion Week Recap!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Chicago College Fashion Week at 1st Ward Events in Wicker Park! The entire evening was such an incredible event, and there were so many amazing bloggers and guests in attendance! 

Tons of brands were represented there, from FitBit to Hanes to European Wax Center...all of the booths were so much fun! I got to bring two of my good friends with me for the event, and we received incredibly gift bags and had an even better time. 

All of the models were real college girls from the Chicago colleges in the area, and the looks of the 4 mini-shows were all geared around styles you can wear on campus or ones that are ideal for college-aged girls. My personal favorite was "festival" - the outfits were so unique and trendy!

My parents were in town this weekend, so it was a busy day on Saturday between brunch, getting my first blowout at  DryBar (more on that later!) and spending a fall afternoon on my favorite patio for drinks and football games. 

Thanks to HerCampus, I was able to get a front row seat to all of the action and an amazing view of the outfits. We even had some really fun booths before the show started, including an eyebrow station from European Wax Center that definitely had our brows looking their best! Overall, it was an amazing and fashionable night!


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How to Overpack In A Carry-On Bag + Best Carry-On Luggage for All Budgets!

If you've been following along for a while, you'll know that I've been doing a lot of traveling lately...I've been incredibly proud of myself because despite being a lifelong member of 'Team Overpacking', in this last year I have officially mastered the art of traveling light...without having to say goodbye to all of my choices!

I've taken over 25 weekend trips in the last year, and have managed to bring nothing more than a carry-on bag and my purse every single time (this might seem small to you, but somewhere, my parents are clapping after watching me lug 50+ lb. suitcases on vacations lasting 7 days or less for years!) 

Those of you that love to bring extras, options, and "just-in-case" items might be reading this and thinking that you wouldn't be able to pull that off...but don't stop reading just yet! The best part about my newfound packing secrets and travel lifestyle is that I am still able to bring tons of extra options. You just have to pack smarter, not more!

*I will note that the time of year that you are traveling plays a role...summer items are obviously much less bulky than winter items, but it can still be done!*

I'm sharing with you my best secrets and tricks for overpacking in a carry-on bag so that you don't have to sacrifice that super cute extra top, spare jacket, or adorable vest that is probably too puffy but that you really might need!

1. Choose a Color Palette - I'm not telling you that you need to have a "capsule wardrobe" to pack light...as nice as the idea of those can seem, I personally love how varied and mixed up my closet can be as a whole. That being said, when it comes to packing a bag, one of the smartest ways you can pack is to choose items that work multiple ways. Based on the events, occasions, and weather, I typically choose a basic "color palette" for the weekend. For example, I might choose blues, greys, whites, and other neutrals because they will all go together, but can still be mixed in different ways. Farther down the list, I'll explain a tip to help keep these similar colors from looking too simliar day to day!

2. Only Make Cutbacks Where You Have To - It's totally the worst when you pull out all of the items you want to bring, only to realize you're going to have to say "no" to a large chunk of them. Rather than making a decision on every single item, try to approach it from the smartest way possible. Tackle the bulkiest and most common items first: shoes, purses, and outerwear. Ask yourself questions like these:

  •  Do you have a neutral pair of shoes that will go with multiple outfits? Maybe one that can be dressed up or down? Keep it. 
  • Do you really need more than one pair of dressy shoes? Toss the spare heels. 
  • Need a comfortable walking shoe for the outdoors? Combine it with your "casual shoe"...maybe a pair of converse, or a comfortable sandal that can be worn multiple ways. 
  • If you really want to bring extra bags & clutches, make them useful by storing your jewelry or carry-on items inside of them, and then stuffing them into your tote for the plane.
3. Make Your Accessories Do The Work - The best part about choosing your colors and outfits wisely is that you can still have tons of different looks without taking up extra room in your bag. Utilizing scarves, different jewelry, hats, and layers is a great way to re-use outfit pieces while still having a totally different look. 

4. Keep The Bulkiest Items With You - You've probably heard this one before, but keeping your bulkiest items with you the day you travel is a huge space-saver. This one definitely comes in handy during the colder months. My black Frye Boots are one of my favorites, and are so classic that they match everything...but they're not very flexible for packing. I always end up wearing them on the plane, along with a blanket scarf in my bag and whatever coat I'm bringing with me. Now I get to keep all of those items with me, and not one of them had to make room in my bag!

5. Check the Weather - This one might seem obvious to some, but I can't even tell you how many friends I have that insist on packing "for all weather". While I am a huge supporter of being prepared, and weather can still throw curve-balls from time to time, keeping a close eye on weather for the week leading up to the trip can usually give you a good indication of what to expect. Skip out on bringing the raincoat, and pick up a cheap disposable umbrella while you're away if need be. You don't need a whole special set of rain boots just in case, either. That's what cars and umbrellas are for!

I've also linked my favorite carry-on luggage bags below...it's definitely time that I invested a new one sometime very soon! Any suggestions or bags that you really love? I'd love some help choosing! (Bags are shown from most affordable to splurge!)

Hopefully these tips will help you make smarter, not tougher, decisions on which of your beloved wardrobe items make the cut on your next trip...and you'll get to pocket those checked baggage fees (and avoid the anxiety of a potentially lost bag) for more fun aspects of your trip!

Safe travels! Does anyone have any fun weekend trips coming up?! I'm trying to plan my dream list for 2017 already...

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Essentials of the Week!

This week went by fairly fast, and the weekend kinda snuck up on me (which is honestly the best!) Nothing particularly exciting happened...but for once, that was a really great feeling! It was the most routine I've felt in a while, and I think I was craving that more than I realized. Now I have another weekend of family visitors and I couldn't be more excited!

I'll be spending my weekend trying out some of my favorite Chicago restaurants, getting my first ever blow-out (small shoutout to crossing off an item from this month's bucket list!) soaking in the fall weather on a patio with Football on in the background, and attending Chicago College Fashion Week - more on that later! It's going to be a packed weekend, and I'm so ready for it. 

With that being said, here are my Essentials of the Week!

Still can't get over my fluffy little buddy...how cute is that tongue?!

Two of my favorite stores of all time have officially united, and I am excited about this one guys. I absolutely love Nordstrom...it's just such an incredible go to for all of the essentials. One of my favorite parts is of course, the free shipping and returns (which comes and goes on the J.Crew website!) They have already stocked some of my absolute favorites, which you can shop below, or find some for yourself! 

2. The Perfect Email - There is such an overwhelming abundance of articles, templates and websites claiming that they have amazing tips and tricks for those that are job hunting. Whether you're still in college, or post-grad and looking for a chance, these can get really tiring. I normally would skim right over those, but this article had some incredible and simple email templates during the hiring process that I really think would make a huge difference! Definitely worth a read.

3. J.Crew Sport! Seriously guys, so sorry for the J.Crew theme this week, but they've got some big changes going on! J.Crew has officially joined the athleisure ranks and launched their first sports line. The colors, patterns and styles are everything you'd expect and more...but you definitely need to see for yourself! Of course, TBD on whether or not their comfort is up to par with their style, but knowing J.Crew I don't think we will be disappointed! I've pulled some of my favorites from the line below - I mean seriously...these neon leggings? My #1 must-have is definitely this windbreaker.

4. The Most Intense Wanderlust Ever - Okay, so technically I am a few weeks late on this one...but I blame how crazy these last few weeks have been, and in case anyone else (like me) didn't catch this video the day it was released, it is seriously amazing. Late last month, GoPro announced the launch date of their next product, the Hero5. To me, GoPro has always been something that is awesome when other people have it, but not something I felt like I needed...until I watched this video. I know what is topping my Christmas list this year! 

*PS - I've also been listening to the song from the video on repeat. In case you love it too, I found it for you!

5. The Coolest School Bus - No really. If you're like me and love watching the before and after parts of home makeover type shows, you will love this video. This couple took a very ordinary school bus, and turned it into a mini-loft apartment that I honestly would totally live in. (Okay, maybe not for months on end, but I could happily cruise around in there for several weeks at a time!) You'll have to watch to believe it, but the kitchen and shower are beautiful...and their adorable dog is pretty great too. I started following them on Instagram too! 

Based on these essentials, I think my mind is starting to tell me that I'm ready to travel again! Yikes...scary thought. I'm still barely winding down from my summer of non-stop travel! Many more trips are just on the horizon though...

What does your weekend look like? Is anyone else planning on soaking up as much time outside as I am?! Also - if you're in Chicago and planning on going to College Fashion Week definitely send me a message or comment below, I would love to meet you!

Have an amazing weekend!

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Perfect Playlist for Fall!

I know a lot of people think Summer is 'patio season', and while I don't fully disagree...I personally believe Fall is actually the ultimate time of year for patios, cookouts, spending time outside, and soaking in the sunshine + fall breezes. 

Those who know me well will tell you I'm really not a big fan of being hot (and I seem to always be feeling ten degrees hotter than anyone around me), so sweating it out on a patio in the dead heat of summer is not exactly my idea of the best time.

Throwing on a cozy flannel, my favorite pair of boots, and having a few drinks with friends on a leaf-covered patio with yummy snacks and football on TVs in the background? Sign me up! (PS - if anyone has discovered a magical place where this happens year-round, please let me know!)

What better way to kick off the *true* patio season than with a patio playlist to accompany all of the outdoor cookouts and festivities?! This playlist has been on nonstop repeat every Saturday while we've been grilling out, sipping wine on the patio, and enjoying our afternoons with friends. Enjoy!

You can also access/save it here on Spotify, too!

Enjoy those amazing fall afternoons!

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Patios, Puppies & Pumpkins!

This past weekend was such an amazing time...I'm still on cloud nine from how much fun I had! My parents drove down from Michigan with Wrigley & Rufus, and we could not have asked for better weather! Sunny days, light fall breezes and just the right temperature to be comfortable in fall clothes.

My parents arrived on Saturday, so we went to lunch down the street to Bar Cocina (they have an amazing and dog-friendly patio, plus I can't get enough of their tacos!) and my roommate was able to join us for drinks and a lot of puppy love with baby Wrigley. He was quite a hit walking on the sidewalk! I guess looking like a big fluffy toasted marshmallow has that effect on people!

Afterwards, we piled into the car and drove out to the West suburbs to meet up with my brother, sister-in-law, and their three adorable kids. We kept it pretty low-key with drinks, carry-out dinner and some good old football in the living room.

Yesterday, we rounded up the troops (which was quite a task considering children + dogs had us at a dead even match of 5 adults to 5 "kids"! They live in a great neighborhood with a school right behind them and a big playground for everyone to run around in, so we let them burn off some energy while we all chatted and soaked in the gorgeous weather. 

Finally, we finished out the day with a stroll around the adorable downtown of Geneva (it's like the town in Gilmore Girls, but even cuter - no seriously!) and grabbed some pizza before everyone hit the road. Somehow it was overall a relaxing and exhausting weekend all at the same time, but I loved every minute I got to spend with my family and the dogs. 

We even got some spare time to take advantage of the lighting, fall decorations and fall attire to snap some pretty great outfit pictures, too! Wrigley made a pretty great photo companion! You can shop my looks from the weekend at the bottom of this post!

You can shop my looks from this weekend below!

Did anyone else have a great weekend or do anything exciting?!

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