2017 - Prep Essentials





College & Post-Grad

College & Post-Grad
College & Post-Grad

Boots & Booties for Every Budget!

While the weather doesn't seem to be agreeing with the time of year and season, I've had my mind on Fall for about a month now and I won't give in! I'm determined that breezy fall afternoons on patios, light sweaters and cozy drinks are just around the corner, so in the meantime I'm hunkering down in the air conditioning day dreaming about all of my favorite fall activities.

All of this day dreaming has had one benefit, though...PLENTY of time to gather outfit inspiration and stock up on a few of my favorite fall staples for the season! 

I've got 2-3 solid booties that I am absolutely in love with, and know that I'll be able to wear year after year (especially these beauties by Sam Edelman...they're just amazing! I wore them here, and here). 

Still, my shoe collection is pretty lacking in general. I really didn't get crazy into shoes until the last few years because it took me a while to get over my irrational dislike of shoes with heels. I'm 5'10" after all!

I've been lusting after some of these picks below for weeks now, and I think I'm going to pull the trigger on a few! In case you're on the hunt for a few solid pairs of boots and booties to get you through the upcoming seasons, I rounded up some of my favorites (that are totally budget-friendly, too!)


The Essential Step Your Routine Is Missing

I always feel ten times more centered, focused and motivated throughout my weeks if I'm staying on routine. Doesn't it always feel way harder to stick to a routine when the weather is nice, though?! 

There's always a happy hour in lieu of a workout class, or a dinner with friends in place of chores at home and saving money in the kitchen. (Not that I don't love those extra fun social activities!)

One thing I've been working really hard to keep in my routine these last 4-5 weeks regardless of what's going on in my schedule is using this amazing app to help center myself and focus. More than anything, its been super helpful whenever I've had a particularly anxious or stressful moment. 

I've genuinely never found anything as effective as this app at calming myself down and helping me feel relaxed. *Small disclaimer - this isn't an ad or sponsored, I seriously just can't get enough of this app and wanted to share it with all of you right away!

The app (aptly named) is called Calm, and it is a total lifesaver. There is a free version and a paid version, and I truthfully am still using the free one because it has the feature I like and use the most, which is the breathing exercises. 

It felt a little silly at first, but now that I've really given it a chance, I absolutely love it. It's most effective with the sound (usually headphones) and if I close my eyes....but basically you simply inhale deeply and hold for a few seconds, and then exhale the same way. It brings my heart rate down, helps me focus, and really calms me in times of anxiety or heightened emotions. 

The app has a ton of other features I haven't explored too much yet, like sleep tracks, meditation (and guided meditation for newbies, and they've recently add music tracks for things like sleeping, relaxing, and focusing, too!

You should absolutely give it a try and incorporate it into your routine even once a week. I guarantee you'll love it as much as I have! You can download it right here (and they even have a desktop version on their site if you're on your computer!)

Has anyone else found something super effective and simple to help them focus, re-center or relax?? I'd love to hear more suggestions, and I'm always looking to find more options! Leave your favorite in the comments below!

My Favorite Fall Slow Cooker Recipe!

While the weather seems to be having a difficult time deciding if it's fall or summer, I'm choosing to ignore the random heat waves and dive headfirst into a figurative (and hopefully soon, literal) pile of leaves. 

I've got my fall candles burning (I've honestly almost used one up already, that's definitely a new record), my cozy blankets are on display in their baskets, and I stocked up on all of my favorite teas. This may sound a little premature to some people but I say it is mid September and I love it!

I had an especially fall-centered day on Sunday with the candles, a little bit of red wine, football playing in the background and the best slow cooker recipe...like ever. I've had my crock pot for about a year now, and I still love experimenting with recipes all the time. It's just so incredibly easy!

At the very most, you chop up a few ingredients and throw it in. Leave it alone for a few hours and your apartment (or house) smells amazing, and you've got a ready to serve (or save) meal! 

I whipped up this soup for dinner Sunday and to take as a lunch option to work with me this week and it took all of my willpower not to have it for dinner again on Monday. The large portions are great for something that will last you all week long!

                                                                                                                                                     image via

(PS - if you don't already have a slow cooker, I seriously recommend just grabbing one at the store. They're really pretty inexpensive, and the ingredients are so simple that making my lunches/dinners in mine saves me a lot of grocery money in the end! I have this one and it's so great). 

  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion, Diced
  • 1/3 Cup Flour
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced (1/2 Tsp. of Pre-Minced = 1 clove!)
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried Basil (I shred it into smaller pieces)
  • 2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth (I add 2-4 Extra Cups for a Less Thick/Less Creamy Soup)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of petite diced tomatoes 
  • 1-1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 4 cups cheese tortellini (I usually eyeball this - typically around 7 cups)
  • 3 cups packed spinach (I add a lot more, whatever amount you'd like!)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • 1 cup heavy cream or half and half
*I save a little extra parmesan cheese to add on top right before eating


  • In a medium mixing bowl (safe for microwave) add the onions, flour, basil, garlic, tomato paste, and drizzle with olive oil. Stir.
  • Microwave for 5 minutes, stirring every 90 seconds. Add to slow cooker. 
  • Add broth, tomatoes, chicken, salt and pepper to the slow cooker. Stir. 
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours (or until chicken is tender). 
  • Remove lid and add tortellini and spinach. 
  • Add parmesan cheese and cream (warm the cream beforehand to avoid curdling. 45 seconds in the microwave should do it). 
  • Use a fork to remove the chicken from slow cooker. Shred or cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. 
  • Add chicken back to slow cooker, put lid back on and cook on HIGH for about 10 more minutes. 

Essentials of the Week!

We've made it to Friday, friends! This week was absolutely incredible...and incredibly exhausting! It was my first week at my new job and I am absolutely loving it so far! I'm always pretty change-hesitant (aren't most people, though?) and this was no exception considering what a huge decision it was...but I couldn't be happier!

Isn't that the best feeling in the world, when you make a major decision and it ends up being confirmed that you made the right call? I'd say that calls for a well-earned happy hour tonight!

It got me thinking about some more career path posts and job-related advice I could be including here on the blog for those of you who are trying to make decisions like when to change industries or companies. Is that something you guys would be interested in reading?! Let me know in the comments below!

Here are my essentials for this week:

1. The Best News for Your Home, Ever | I love decorating...and have officially grown to understand why my mom became an interior designer. Having a never-ending list of rooms to decorate? Sign me up!! If you haven't heard already, Chip & Joanna Gaines have collaborated with Target for a new line, and I want to buy all of it.

2. The COZIEST Lightweight Sweater for Fall | I am so in love with the tie-cuff details on this sweater. I'm keeping my eye on the cream color, but I promised myself no new sweaters until I've had to wear fall clothes for a minimum of two weeks (my closet needs the space, and I haven't stored away all my summer clothes...yet!)

3. The Devil Wears Prada, Age 7 | I was cracking up at this 7 year old Youtube Star and her interpretation of what it means to be a #GirlBoss in the fashion magazine world. It made me want to watch Devil Wears Prada again, stat!

4. Football Means Food | I grew up in a boy-dominated household, y'all, and to me Fall has always meant Football! I've been loving these last two weeks with the game on in the background, wine glass in hand, and I've already been bombarding Dalton and his roommates with the massive Pinterest board of recipes that I've been waiting (impatiently) to make during game day season. This list of recipes is definitely my next to tackle! No pun intended, I swear...ha!

5. Spoiled Puppy | I honestly think that whenever I do become a dog owner, I'm going to need a major financial cushion because I will totally go to above and beyond lengths like this to spoil my pup. This dog didn't like her food, so the owner came up with a creative way to make it more appealing to her!


Current Beauty Essentials!

This past year has included some major steps forward for me with trying and finding new beauty products that I like. I've never been super knowledgeable about beauty products...I grew up with exclusively brothers and definitely didn't start developing an interest in makeup or products until way after the majority of my friends. 

This year, I had a serious goal of taking better and more preventative care of my skin. Confession - I have never used a face cleanser in my entire life. Seriously.

I have extremely sensitive skin, and I am pretty blessed to have basically completely clear skin, too. Anytime I tried cleansers growing up, they made my skin worse...and when I left my face alone, it looked fine! Now that I'm 24, though, I know that there are so many more things I can do to take care of my skin and help take preventative steps to keep it healthy and young down the road. 

I've also started experimenting with different makeup, and started using lip colors for the first time in my life, too! (Seriously, guys, I'm playing around with things most girls learn at age 14. At least I'm at this point now!)

Now that I've really gotten a sense of a solid beauty routine that I love and some products that I've seen incredible results with I wanted to share them with all of you!

Shop the Post:


The Best New Running Shoes + Trying Out a New Workout!

This Fall I've re-dedicated myself to something I haven't done a single time since high school...running! I used to run track and constantly ran for conditioning in the other sports that I played. Unfortunately, my knees didn't appreciate the way I used to train, and it got so painful I told myself for years that I "couldn't" run. 

This wasn't entirely false...but it was at least to some degree, a bit of a cop-out. I mean, there are people with hip and knee replacements who run marathons, right?! It seemed to me that there was something I could be doing to make this work for me. 

I went to a local running store to get fitted for the best shoes for my walking style and my knees, some custom inserts, and of course - a cute color! I'm still doing my Pure Barre classes the majority of the week, but I've been loving introducing a cardio component into my fitness routine. 

If there is a fitness style, class or activity you've been hoping to add into your life routine, I promise it is so much easier than you think! 

Running Shoes | Blue Crop Leggings | Cross-Back Sports Bra | 
Open-Back Top | Jacket | Water Bottle 

I got these leggings and the sports bra during the Nordstrom Sale and they were such good finds... and they're BOTH still on sale! 

Stretching has definitely been super critical with trying to re-introduce running into my routine. I didn't do a good enough job on the first run, and my knees ached for two weeks! Definitely a rude awakening.

Taking the time to find a routine that works for me and helps me start from scratch was really important, so I've been doing an alternative plan of jogging and quick walking to help build up endurance and let my body ease into it. Having a gorgeous view like the lakeshore doesn't hurt!

Shop the Look:


10 On-The-Go Healthy Breakfasts!

First things first - I'm really not a breakfast person (unless it's breakfast for dinner, in which case count me in!) I'm especially not a breakfast person within the first hour to hour and a half of waking up. Food right after I wake up makes me feel nauseous, I'm not totally sure why. 

In any case, having a full 40 hour work week, plus exercising and a social life and blogging really doesn't leave any room for skipping meals, so I've had to get creative with ways to still eat breakfast on a "delayed, on-the-go" schedule. 

I've finally mastered a handful of recipes that are simple, yummy, healthy, and that I can take with me to avoid that dreaded encounter with food ten minutes after opening my eyes!

In case you're always on the run like me (or just prefer to hit snooze seven times rather than sitting down at your breakfast table) I wanted to share some of my on-the-go breakfast secrets!

1. Oatmeal No-Bake Energy Bites | These could not be easier to make, and they're perfect for snacking, too! I always make a ton on a Sunday and freeze the extras or put them in the fridge in small bags so I can grab them whenever I want!

2. Egg Muffin Bites | I first found these on a Tasty video, and I was so pumped to make them! All you really need is a muffin tray, and you can mix up the ingredients all the time. I like to do spinach, a tiny bit of feta, green + red peppers, and egg in mine. Starbucks has a similar thing (but these are of course healthier and cheaper!) I make a big batch early in the week to grab and snack on during my commute. 

3. Freezer Breakfast Burritos | These are usually reserved for bigger days, times that I know I have a super long day, or frankly after a night I might have a work happy hour! They're so yummy once you heat them up, and they definitely keep me going well into the early afternoon. There are SO many different combos. My favorite is egg, spinach, peppers, onion, and sometimes breakfast potatoes!

4. Overnight Oats | I only very recently got into the oatmeal trend, but overnight oats are so easy. I'm still taking a pretty timid approach to new flavors, but so far I have really liked apple and cinnamon, and brown sugar and blueberry! All you need is a container or a mason jar (plus oats are so cheap!)

5. Smoothies | Not exactly groundbreaking, but sometimes it can be hard to think up new recipes! I did an entire post on my favorite breakfast smoothies, and they're such an amazing way to start my day. Lately I've been adding Vital Proteins powder to them (more on that later!) and it's been such a game changer.

6. Avocado Toast | This was my go-to for probably the first six months of my job. Unfortunately, sometimes avocados are not always the cheapest, so I moved on to other options, but I still love it! You can always add other fun ingredients to the top, too. 

7. Peanut Butter Toast | The girl-on-a-budget alternative to avocado toast, I keep a giant jar of peanut butter at my desk and do this more than any other item. You can add banana or apple slices to the top, and maybe even drizzle a little honey if you're feeling fancy.

8. Rice Cakes + Peanut Butter + Fruit | If you're not really into toast, rice cakes are a perfect alternative. Spread some peanut butter, add some apple slices and honey and you've got yourself a super portable gourmet breakfast (for crazy cheap, too!)


The Perfect (Super Relatable) Post-Grad Reading List!

Some of my favorite books I've read since graduating have been ones that I found incredibly relatable, and it put things in perspective for me when I really needed it. I've never been one to really love self-help books, but I get so excited when I find a book that relates perfectly to a situation I'm dealing with and makes me feel a little less isolated in my stresses. 

One of my closest friends was recently feeling really lost with everything since graduating...dating, finding friend groups, getting situated and taking next steps with her career...and I was in her exact same place a few months after I graduated, too! 

Besides giving her some advice and talking it out, I suggested that she read a few of my favorite "post-grad themed" books that I thought she could relate to and get some comfort & advice from...and I realized that this is something I should be sharing with all of you, too!

So here is a list of all of my favorite "post-grad" reads. Whether you're worrying about money, fed up with (or just beginning) dating, feeling lost in your career, wanting to make a major change, or navigating a city all by yourself, these authors have found a way to relate to and make humor out of ALL of those situations!

The Regulars | Perfect if you aren't feeling confident, want a good laugh, or feel like daydreaming a little bit. 

A more recent read, I could not put this down. It talks about three friends in their 20s, all succeeding and failing in their own spectacular ways while living in New York, and they come across a magical substance that could change all of their lives. It's called "Pretty", and it gives you a flawless appearance. (It sounds a little strange, but trust me...it was beyond addicting to read). Haven't we all dreamed at least once about what life could be like if we were supermodel gorgeous? Would things be easier and fall into our laps? Read it and find out!

The Assistants | Perfect if you've ever had debt, student loans, financial stresses, or found yourself in a job or role where you weren't appreciated or paid attention to or valued. 

You're going to love this one. Tina, the main character, is an assistant for a media powerhouse and one day comes across an opportunity to completely wipe out all of her debt...and no one would even blink an eye. Would you cross that line? (Goodness knows I'd at least feel the temptation...man!) There's also some pretty great dating twists in here, too.

A Girl Like You | My favorite. I think this one is the most relatable on this list (maybe I should have put it first?) in every possible sense. Read this if you are a post-grad. Period. 

This book checks of all of the post-grad boxes. The author is my absolute favorite of all time (and she's actually the author of a series and another book on this list, sorry! I promise you'll love her too). It's set in London, and she talks about everything from her mood needing to match her outfit, to not being able to speak up at her job, to some seriously troublesome dating woes. Such a good book!

The Dating Detox | Same author as above...my second favorite! Clearly from the title, this one is the best if you're just so damn sick of dating, and jerks, and breakups, and swiping left and right and up and down....(okay clearly I don't use the apps, but I get the gist!)

You will be cracking up laughing during this entire book. Sass, the main character, has been dumped SIX times in a row. So she decides she's done, and has horrible judgement, and she drunkenly develops a list of rules for a "dating detox" that she must abide by for 3 months until her 29th birthday. I don't want to give too much away, but it is so insanely funny.

The Balance Project | Read if you're feeling frustrated with work, you're stuck in an assistant or intern position with no end in sight, or you feel like you're just overwhelmed from your career in general.

This is about a post-grad named Lucy who is the "magic" behind the most powerful and successful woman in the country...she's her assistant. Her entire life and job is dedicated to making her boss appear effortless, and it's bound to catch up to her. Even if you're not in this line of work, the plot revolves around the struggle to find balance between work, exercise, eating healthy, having money and a social life....basically, life. (It kinda reminded me of Devil Wears Prada!)

Small Admissions | If you've always loved stories like Gossip Girl, Sex & The City, and anything revolving the wealthy and rich in NYC, you won't be able to resist this one. Also perfect if you recently had a breakup. 

Set in the Upper East Side - in the private school admissions process, no less. After a brutal breakup by her fiance, Kate somehow finds herself as part of the admissions committee to a super elite and exclusive private school in New York, and the inside look at their world is comical, confusing, and totally bizarre. It's a great light and easy read.

Brooklyn Girls (Series - Books #2 and #3 Below!) | The first "post-grad" book/series that I read, and I am absolutely obsessed. I've actually read them multiple times. It's so incredibly relatable in so many ways, and so interesting and different in another sense! The two books below this one are the next in the series!

All about a group of girls living in a Brownstone in Brooklyn, all with completely different personalities and paths. There's the one who works in a high-powered finance job and has her life 'together', the total mess who loses her job in the very first week after some drunken behavior with a client, the wild child who doesn't care about anything or anyone, and the younger sister who is really just trying to find her place. The first book is about the mess who loses her job - Pia - and then decides on a totally insane next move in her career path.

Love and Chaos | Book #2 in the Brooklyn Girls Series. You'll be hooked after the first one!

The Wild One | Book #3 in the Brooklyn Girls Series. This one was possibly my favorite! 


On My Fall Wish List Right Now...

This morning after a long and glorious weekend of relaxing and running around Chicago with friends (in some seriously nice summer weather) we woke up to an equally incredible crisp fall morning. If you are one of those people who is anti-fall, you might want to stop reading (just kidding, please don't!)

I was personally extremely excited to take in the fall air and breeze - and it still got up to 70 around mid-day - and more importantly, break out one of my new fall outfits that has been dying to be broken out of my closet! I love light layers, and you could feel a whole new energy in the city today with the temperature drop and everyone feeling energized after the extra day off. 

Naturally, with my new outfit on and a hot apple cider in hand today (yep, I'm that girl #NoShame) I felt extra motivated to peruse around online for all of the super exciting fall arrivals stores added over the weekend! And let me just tell you guys...they did not disappoint!

I definitely need to slow down and wait a beat before actually adding anything to my cart, but I picked out all of my absolute favorite fall staples. Some of these I already own and will be wearing all week long, and some are definitely going to be my next purchases, period. 

PS - you can also shop my Fall Essentials any time you want on the right hand sidebar! --> 


Post-Grad Series: Creating & Shopping a Meal Plan + Grocery List!

One of the things that took me the longest time to get into the rhythm of was finding and planning out a weekly grocery last that satisfied my needs for: budget, healthy, tastes good, lasts the entire week, and mixes things up every week.

I bought groceries for two years in college, but it's completely different when you're able to go home and cook whenever you want vs. the busy life of post-grad where you're rarely in your kitchen besides dinner and possibly breakfast. 

I've shared some of my favorite meal prep recipes (all of them can be found here), but actually being able to plan for them and supplement the rest of your week with meals and snacks is a completely different challenge!

I typically just make weekly lists in my phone to take with me, but if you're a pen and paper girl this meal planning sheet and grocery list is amazing. Just pick out what you want for each meal, and then break down all of the ingredients you will need to make sure you don't forget anything! (I've been on the hunt for a great app, but honestly I think they're all trying to do a little too much). 

You could also try filling that sheet out by hand then snapping a pic - I've done it a few times! I look at the meal planner as more of a guide, and then I break down every ingredients that it includes into my grocery list to make sure I don't forget anything...and then sometimes add a snack or two from there! 

My game plan usually consists of picking out my weekly lunch on Pinterest, and then building out the same few routines for dinners and breakfasts around that. Lunch is what has to be done in advance/in large quantity, so it creates the bulk of my groceries.

I shared a sample of what my weekly meal plan + grocery list looks like for reference, but really it's all about finding a core group of healthy items you can eat again and again! I'm not a big breakfast person, so a smoothie or peanut butter toast is all it takes for me. I'm by no means a nutritionist, but this works for me and I like it!

**I wrote this out as if I don't have a single ingredient in my pantry...but in reality I have a lot of these things and use them time and time again, such as Quinoa (I buy a huge bag at Costco, same with my rice!), the frozen fruit for my smoothies, and the ingredients to make my salad dressing).

The biggest key to saving money and still making sure that you have everything you need is to find ingredients you love that work with multiple meals. I eat eggs throughout the entire week, but I cook them so many different ways: scrambled, over-easy with avocado toast, mixed into a stir fry or Pad Thai recipe, or in a breakfast burrito.

PS - that Superfood Salad I reference is included right here, and it's my absolute favorite! 

Dinners can totally vary for me, so I like to keep a lot of frozen ingredients around that I don't have to worry about going bad, and that are easy to heat up. Some of my go-to's are these Chicken Patties, this Frozen Diced Chicken (great for throwing in with rice from my rice cooker and adding a frozen vegetable), or Burgers on the Grill!

I love to keep a core group of 2-4 types of snacks around all week - fruit with peanut butter, wheat thin crackers and cheese, string cheese, grapes are some of my favorites! They're all super easy to throw in a container and bring to work as an extra for that mid-afternoon slump when you start to feel hungry again.

Hopefully this helps you feel a little more confident in being able to plan out a meal list for next week and try out some fun new recipes! As always, if you have any questions or comments please post them below or shoot me an email! 


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! 


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! 


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!


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!


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! 

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