Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas! + Blogger Secret Santa

Merry Christmas Y'all!
I am wishing you a wonderful holiday filled with family, yummy food, and lots of love. Christmas is my favorite holiday and I cannot believe how quickly it has come this year. It's one of the few times a year my whole family is under the same roof for an extended amount of time. It can get hard to be away from home for the majority of the year, but being back in Texas has been exactly the recharge I've needed after this long semester. 

Once again, I cannot believe how quickly this year has flown. It has been a long, hard year for me and so many people I know. Today, I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw someone captioned a picture with the lyrics to O Holy Night, "the trill of hope, the weary world rejoices." How perfect of a perspective is that for the holiday season this year? No matter what your year has looked like, I feel like everyone is just worn out and weary by the time December rolls around. But rejoice, there is hope! There is always hope in God, Jesus, and the new year. So rejoice in the hope and happiness of the holidays and enjoy the time with loved ones. 
One of the things that helped add some happiness to my Christmas was the Blogger Secret Santa gift exchange hosted by Abigail and Cathleen. These sweet girls (and fellow SC residents) had the fun idea to host a gift exchange between bloggers all across the country. Funnily enough, even though there were girls from all across the country who participated, I sent a gift to and received gifts two other Texas girls! What are the odds?!

I received a secret santa gift from Alison from Beauty & Blazers. Check out all of her links here:
Alison is super adorable and crazy talented! Seriously, her photography and hand lettering skills are killer. And her insta theme is perfection. She announced on her blog in November that she will be going through a rebrand in the new year. I wish her the best of luck with it! Here are a couple shots of my gift from her. She did a great job of picking out things for me: I love mugs (too much), the stocking matches my room perfectly, I'm a total sucker for the pretty packaging of the tea box and who doesn't love chocolate? Thank you so much Alison!

Once again, have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!

Monday, December 5, 2016

November Top 10!

It's the last month of 2016! Can you believe it? As per usual, since it is the beginning of the month, here is my top 10 for November.

1 // November was equally crazy and relaxing. The first weekend of the month was fall break which meant a four day weekend, which was MUCH needed! Fall break was delayed this year due to the election (they wanted to make sure everyone had the day off to vote), which meant everyone was burned out long before we got a break. Just a week and a half later, it was Thanksgiving. Mike and I headed to his sister's for both breaks. I was not productive at all during the time off, but a full on break was so nice. Occasionally, it's really great to get out of a college town and be around people who are not within the 18-22 age range. 

2 // Another awesome part of November is always the Clemson-South Carolina game the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Clemson broke a seven year losing streak my freshman year and has started a streak of our own! This year, the Palmetto Bowl was a night game (so fun!) and the first cold football game we had. Not everyone agrees with me, but I love getting all bundled up for football games. We were all packed together since there were so many people at the game, so you couldn't even really feel the cold. We spent all day tailgating and then handed South Carolina one of their biggest losses in the rivalry's history. Rushing the field with friends was the perfect way to end another great football season.

3 // Also this month (so many things happened!), Mike and I celebrated our two year anniversary. It's crazy to me that we have been together for two years already. I am so grateful for him and we have had such a great time over the past two years experiencing college and growing up together. For our anniversary we went to a really neat wild game restaurant called Saskatoon. Mike was adventurous and got elk, I was not and just got a steak. The dinner was delicious and we had a nice time going on a fancy date, definitely a treat.

4 // This year I actually did some Black Friday shopping! I wasn't about to brave the crazy to get deals, so I shopped on my phone, in my pajamas, while watching the Gilmore Girls revival. I ordered some new things from Old Navy and placed an order with elf cosmetics. I'm still waiting on my orders to come in, but I'll put up a haul/review once I get everything in.

5 // One of the most exciting parts of the month was the Gilmore Girls revival. I love Gilmore Girls! I would come home everyday in middle school and watch an episode at 4pm on ABC Family, ah memories. I've also watched the whole series on Netflix. Needless to say, I was super excited for the revival. It was good and I liked it for the most part. I wasn't super into the ending, unless they were setting it up for another revival/new series, which I would be down for. 

6 // Early in the month, Mike and I went out to see a movie and landed on Hacksaw Ridge. It sounded like a horror movie, so I was hesitant, but it ended up being amazing. It's the true story of a conscientious observer, a soldier who won't carry a gun, during World War II, who single handedly saved a number of his men in one of the most dangerous battles of the war. It's a great, heart warming and just amazing story. I was so surprised Desmond Doss isn't a more well known figure because of his story. It's still in theaters and I highly recommend it.

7 // On the beauty side, for the past few months, I have been using the Morphe Brushes 35 K - Koffee eyeshadow palette. It is the perfect neutral palette. It has all of the same/similar colors as my original Naked palette with just as good, if not better quality, for a fraction of the cost. I got mine off of Hautelook for around $15!!! I've heard great things about the other Morphe palettes so if you're in the market for something new without paying an excessive amount, definitely look into them.

8 // It finally got cold in November, mainly towards the end, but I was so ready. It has been an unusually warm fall in Clemson and I was dying to break out the jeans and sweaters. For the better part of the last 6 weeks, I have been living in my favorite jeans from Old Navy. Lately I have been pairing them with one of my classic cable knit sweaters from Ralph Lauren and my riding boots.

9 // Also when I ordered my Morphe palette, I ordered a foundation brush. I've never used a brush for foundation before. In high school, I just used my fingers and when I started getting into watching youtube beauty videos, I started using a beauty sponge. Over the past year, I have been watching Jaclyn Hill's makeup video and she recommended the M439 Deluxe Buffer brush for foundation. When I saw it on sale, I decided to go ahead and try it out. Man have I been missing out! Using a brush makes putting on foundation so much faster and easier, especially since this one is kinda large; it's also cheap which is always a plus.

10 // I'm so glad it's finally December! In a matter of days, I'll be headed home for the first time since August. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and I love spending time with my family, especially since I'm so far from home. Having a whole month home is going to be amazing and I can't wait to just soak it all in.

What are you most excited for in December?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Festive for Finals

Finals week is upon us! Unfortunately the happiness and excitement of December that comes with the Christmas season is also accompanied by the stress of final exams for college and most high school kids. It seems almost cruel that the fun of the holidays is dampened by the most dreaded week of the semester. I am very lucky to get out of school two weeks before Christmas, leaving plenty of time to get into the holiday spirit, but for those of you who are still in school closer to Christmas, here is a definitive guide of everything you need to stay in the holiday spirit as you study!
1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

Everyone knows that a serious study session requires the comfiest of attire, but who says your library ensemble as to be your normal oversized t shirt? Swap it out for a fun Christmas graphic tee so you can stay in the spirit as you make endless notecards.

If you're the kind of person who prefers to study in your room over the insanely crowded library (same!), a festive environment is essential. I bought this adorable gold mylar Christmas tree from Target and it has been up in my room since early November, judge me. I also got these mini ornaments and star tree topper to decorate it. It looks so cute in my room and makes me so happy. 

When you need a little study break, break out the bright red nail polish and a Christmas movie to give yourself the perfect holiday manicure. 

Of course, finals week would not be complete without an excess of coffee. Make your caffeine kick a little more merry with a themed mug and holiday flavored coffee - I just picked up the Donut Shop Peppermint Bark k-cups and I'm dying to try them!

Cozy footwear is also an essential. I love these gold moccasins, because they could easily go from your last-minute, early morning cram sesh while still in your jammies, straight to your exam in normal clothes and no one would think anything of it.

If you want to be a little more inconspicuous with your holiday cheer, these funny reindeer socks are right up your alley. Only you will know that you've had a Christmas countdown going since December 26.

Last, but not least, after a long day of studying, nothing helps you unwind faster than slipping into some comfy Christmas jammies. I ordered this set during Black Friday (unfortunately had to get them shipped home instead of to school) and I am so excited to try them out!

Good luck to everyone on their final exams!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Simplified Planner Organization

Happy Saturday! Today I am sharing a post that I have been working on for a while, how I organize my planner!

If you don't follow along with my Instagram, you probably haven't seen how obsessed I am with my Emily Ley Simplified Planner. I had been constantly checking out and debating investing (about $60 yikes!) in this planner for the better part of a year - pretty much since I discovered the Emily Ley brand. However, I couldn't get over the fact that these planners were SO expensive, and it was after all just a planner. 

My super sweet boyfriend was well aware of my obsession and knew I would never spend the money to get the planner for myself, so he got it for me as my birthday present! I have been using it all semester and have finally gotten down an organizational system that I like. Today I am sharing how I set up my planner and some tips for keeping your planner (and life) organized. 

// the planner //

I have the Emily Ley Simplified Planner, Daily Edition, in Gold Pineapple. First off, it's adorable. I was a little worried about the white background, but it has held up very well, even though it shows a little wear from constantly being lugged around in my backpack. I got the daily edition which has a page for every day and the page is split between a schedule and to do list, with space at the bottom for dinner and notes. In the past, when I had weekly calendars, I always struggled with fitting my schedule for the day, assignments, and to do list in the small amount of space. With this planner I have more than enough room. Emily Ley also offers a weekly edition that still has each day broken down, just with fewer slots for schedule and to-dos for every day.

// how I use it // 

Color coding - when I first got my planner, I assigned a color of pen to each class I'm taking, as well as ones for sorority obligations, things specifically regarding my officer position, Mike, my part time job, and the blog. I always write the things for each specific area in the same color so I can easily see what I have going on. (Pro tip: the notebooks/folders I got for each class match their planner pen color). These are my favorite pens!

I fill in the monthly view with all of the big events I have going on for the month - birthdays, big assignments and tests, interviews, meetings, etc. I love having an overview of everything that I have coming up. I fill in each month at the start of semester with all of the dates from my syllabi. As the month goes along, I add in other things I have coming up.

At the start of each week, either Sunday night or Monday morning, I fill in all of the reoccurring events I have during the week - class and my work schedule. I will also fill in events specific for that week. It seems a little tedious to do this every single week, but it really does help me to write it all do and have a visual of what the schedule of my day looks like. I have a google calendar with my schedule as well, but there is something to be said for writing things down.

Each day, I will make a to do list for that day in the second column on the planner. My to do lists are often ambitious and I know I won't get it all accomplished, but then I'll transfer things to the next day when I have more time. I would like to have a little morning ritual where I write down everything I need to get done, but more often it's when I get to my class 15 minutes early that I fill out my planner for the day.

On each day there is also a dinner and notes section. Now I don't really need to plan out dinners (I'm a college student, I either eat in the dining hall or eat out), so I'll cover the header of that section with washi tape - just because I love fun washi tape - and use it to write out assignments or reminders for my classes for that day. I don't always use the notes sections but it's really nice to have if I have a sudden idea for the blog or need to jot something down during a meeting.

The Simplified Planner is hands down the best planner I have ever used! I tell pretty much everyone how great it is and that they need one too. This is definitely not my last Emily Ley planner.

What is your favorite planner? Do you have a certain way of organizing it? I would love to hear!

Friday, December 2, 2016

5 Christmas Movies to Binge Watch

Happy Blogmas Day 2!!! Hopefully the rest of my posts won't be going up so late. I hope you have had a wonderful week! Like I said yesterday, next week is finals week for me (and most other college students), which means lots of stress and studying. My favorite way to relax at the end (or even as a mid-day break) of a long day of studying is to watch a Christmas movie. 

Luckily, Netflix has plenty of Christmas movies for you to add to your watch list for those study breaks. There are quite a few new Lifetime-esque movies that have been added on Netflix recently, and I'll most likely watch all of them in the next few weeks. But today, I am sharing my top 5 favorite Christmas movies that are on Netflix.

1. Love Actually

Love Actually is one of my favorite movies in general, but it's even better that it's set at Christmas time. It follows the holiday season of a variety of characters in London as they each have slightly intertwined, but interesting love stories. This movie also has an all star cast of Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Natalie Portman, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson, and Alan Rickman. 

2. Christmas with the Kranks

This option is much more family friendly if you're looking for something to watch when little cousins are running around. The Kranks are new, empty nesters that are attempting to skip Christmas to go on a cruise. The entire town gets involved in the debate on their decision leading to angry boy scouts, grumpy neighbors, and a missing Frosty decoration. It's a little corny, but very sweet. 

3. Miracle on 34th Street

Does Santa Claus really exist? This 90s remake of the classic movie seeks to prove that age old question. When she meets the department store Santa, little Susan becomes convinced that he is the real Santa Claus, so much so that other children start believing he is too. When the adults think he is just a deranged old man, Mr. Kringle ends up in a New York court that will decide whether Santa Claus is real.

4. White Christmas

This one is an oldie, but a goodie. I've seen White Christmas a bunch because it is my mom's favorite Christmas movie. Set in the 50s, it tells the musical story of two soldiers who have gone on to become a musical act and fall for a singing sister duo. The men follow the sisters to their Christmas gig in Vermont to find that the inn they're singing at is run by their former commanding officer, and the inn is in trouble. The foursome has to work together to pull off a Christmas miracle and try to save the inn.

5. A Christmas Kiss

A Christmas Kiss is your typical, over-the-top, Lifetime/Hallmark Christmas movie with a Cinderella storyline. A girl meets a handsome stranger in an elevator and they share a kiss, but don't exchange any information. She thinks she will never see her mystery man again, until she is introduced to him... as her mean boss's boyfriend. I'm sure you can figure the rest out from there. Like I said, this movie is super cheesy, but very cute. I'm a sucker for the cheesy Christmas movies, so I really enjoyed it.

I have lots of other favorite Christmas movies that aren't on Netflix: The Holiday, Elf,  The Santa Clause & Santa Clause 2 (the third one is awful), A Christmas Story, and It's a Wonderful Life - all of which I highly recommend. 

What are you favorite Christmas movies?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Welcome to BLOGMAS!

Happy December friends! If you're anything like me, you're in shock that it's December already and wondering where this year has gone. Girl, I am right there with you. This semester has been jam packed! While I wish things were already slowing down, we are headed full steam ahead into finals week. On the bright side, a week from now, I will be done with exams and be starting to pack to return to the great lonestar state!

With all of the craziness that has gone on this semester, my blog has really fallen onto the back burner. I had been working so hard over the summer to post consistently and had become really excited about my future in blogging, but between sorority responsibilities, classes, a new part time job, and just being a normal college student, something had to give - blogging. Which brings us to Blogmas!

What is Blogmas you ask? I had no idea either, until one of the girls in our #bloggingcollege groupme brought up the idea. Essentially, it's a countdown to Christmas by posting on your blog every single day from December 1-25, quite the challenge. A lot of YouTubers do Vlogmas, which is along the same lines, just posting a daily vlog every day of December. While I will be in the midst of finals for the next 10 days, I am going to do my best to get up a post every day - and hopefully most will not be coming this late at night. I think this is great motivation to get me in gear for blogging in 2017!

A lot of my posts will be Christmas themed, of course, but I also plan to include some of my usual college and lifestyle posts. I hope you follow along with me!

24 Days Until Christmas!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Feelin' Myself

Pop culture reference aside, feeling like myself is something I have struggled with a lot in college. I'll get so wrapped up in school, sorority, research, work, and other obligations that I lose my self in everything that I "have to do" and am left feeling burned out and just blah. Lately, I've been trying to recognize when I get in these funks and work my way out of them. Today, I'm sharing what I do to get back to feeling like me.

// recognize when I feel most myself //

This sounds a little odd, but occassionally I'll be doing something and just feel completely myself, at ease and comfortable. When I have those feelings, I make a mental note of them so I can use them the next time I'm down in the dumps. Once you have the mindset that you need to recognize when you feel like yourself, it'll be a lot easier to notice those moments. Maybe you can just take a few quiet minutes to think "when I am the most happy? what makes me, me?"

// put effort into my appearance //

One of the moments I have recognized is when I am doing my makeup and getting ready for the day. The weeks where I don't bother to put on real  clothes or do makeup tend to be the ones I am the most out of it. This sort of follows the same principle of dress well, test well (I type as I'm going to class in leggings and a very oversized quarter zip) when you look put together it puts you in that mind set for the day. I frequently find myself realizing "well life feels like it's falling apart but at least I look cute today." It's the little things.

// pamper myself //

Taking some time to do something you don't do on a regular basis can also make a big difference. Painting your nails, taking a long bubble bath (if you're lucky enough to have a bathtub #collegeproblems), doing a face mask, maybe all of the above. Taking the time to treat yo self,  even just on a weekly basis, helps you to relax and feel so much better.

// long chats with good friends //

One of my good friends and I have made a habit of having a Starbucks date at least once a week. We'll grab a cup of coffee and just talk for about an hour. With crazy schedules, it's so nice to take time to slow down and enjoy each other's company. We catch each other up on life and what we're stressed about then somehow end up in a deep life chat. It's something I wish I could do more often, with more of my friends.

// quality time with loved ones //

This falls in the same realm as the one above. So often my boyfriend and I spend our limited time together (crazy schedules again) studying and doing homework or watching Netflix. Friday nights have become our date nights - he'll get back from his internship, pick me up, and we'll go out to dinner or to a movie, something just us so we can actually focus on us and our relationship and not worry about to do lists, obligations, and everything else.

// slow down and take it all in //

Do you walk to class with your eyes glued to your phone, scrolling through every form of social media? I do. Occasionally though, something will pull me out from the laser focus on my  phone, and I'm always glad when that happens. Last week, I was hauling my way across campus for my 10am class, staring at my phone as usual, when I looked up and noticed leaves falling from the trees all around me, like a a beautiful dance. The sunlight cracked through the trees and lit up the leaves in perfect, golden light. It was a gorgeous sight that I would have totally missed if I had stayed focused on myself. It's easy to be self-absorbed, but I find that taking the time to notice what is going on around me helps me calm down and get perspective.

Those are the things I do to get myself out of a funk and back to myself, I would love to hear what you do to get back to feeling like yourself.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A Little Guide: The First Day of College

So now you've survived move in day, you've started to meet people, but there is still that big, daunting thing on the horizon...actually starting college. It's so nerve wracking! What do you bring? What do you wear? Do you talk to the person sitting next to you? What the heck is a syllabus? 
What to know for your first day of college!

We have all been there. You, little freshman, are not alone. I have been through 2 (3 on Wednesday!) first days of college and I get those nerves every year! There is something about starting a new year of school, getting a fresh start that is both exciting and terrifying. But through my experience, I can help you out a little bit, so here are some tips to help you survive the first day.

// download your campus app //

These days, every college has an app. It's your best friend. If you haven't downloaded it yet, you should. It can tell you your schedule, where every building on campus is, even what the options for lunch are in the dining hall. Download it now. The map is the best thing ever. If you're too nervous to ask for help (I was), instead of wandering around campus clueless, you can just appear like you're looking at your phone while you're realizing that your next class is across campus and starts in 5 minutes.

// have a general idea of where your classes are //

On your schedule, it should tell you where each class is located. Pull out your handy dandy campus app and look at where those buildings are in relation to your dorm and to each other. It'll make your life so much easier.

upperclassman tip #1: If you are entirely lost and can't figure out where you are, ask someone for help. Upperclassmen will understand, we've all been there.

// take a screenshot of your schedule //

I am the kind of person who checks my schedule for the time and location of my class until mid-September. It can be a pain to try to log onto the course scheduling website 10 times a day, so make it easier by taking a screenshot of your schedule on your phone. That way it is readily available for you to check a million times on the first day.

// don't buy the textbook if you haven't heard from the professor //

One of my professors for this semester has already emailed the class letting us know what material we need to have for the first day. This is not usually the case. If you have not gotten any sort of email or announcement from your professor, wait to buy the book. They'll let you know the first day what you need 

upperclassman tip #2: a lot of courses require online components that have an e-book so you don't need to pay $500 for something you won't use

// the campus bookstore is a last resort //

Without fail the campus bookstore is usually the most expensive place to buy your books. Once you find out what books you need, search book exchange Facebook pages - upperclassmen trying to make a few bucks and get rid of their old books, Amazon, Chegg, and other discount book sites. I like to compare prices at a bunch of different websites before I decide on one.

upperclassman tip #3: unless it is a book for a class in your major, consider renting - it's usually the cheapest option

// wait on buying school supplies //

On the first day, bring a notebook, pens, your laptop, your planner, and maybe a folder. You never know if professors will require something specific, so I find that it is best to wait until after the first day of class. The first day will also help you feel out the professor and the class and you can decide from there if you need a separate notebook for the class or can combine a couple classes into one notebook.

// print off the syllabus for each class //

Some professors may not post their syllabus until after the first class and others may hand out hard copies, but I find it easiest to make sure you have the syllabus handy. I use my syllabi frequently for reference during the semester so I always like to have one on hand.

// look nice //

Yes, it is college and you can wear whatever the heck you want, but still put in some effort. The people you're in class with or seeing on campus could be your new best friends or maybe your future spouse, so don't look like a slob. You don't need to be glammed out, but make a good first impression. I also see dressing well for class as a way to show respect to your professor. They made it their life's work to teach annoying college students (professors are saints), the least you can do is show them some respect by looking like you're taking college seriously.

// wear comfortable shoes //

Last year I got horrible blisters on the first day because I wore new shoes and had classes all across campus. Avoid the pain, wear shoes you have already broken in.

// start making friends //

I really like to have a friend in each class I'm in. The older I get, the more likely it is that there is someone I already know in my class, but that isn't always the case. Talk to the person sitting next to you and start getting to know them. You may not be best friends, but they might be willing to share notes when you miss class because you're sick. It's so easy to feel isolated in college, but you really have to put yourself out there. Everyone else is in the same situation and just as nervous as you. Smile and introduce yourself. You may have just met your future bridesmaid.

// don't take it too seriously //

You won't have a test the first day, you're not being graded yet, it is okay to relax. This is your only true first day of college. Enjoy it! You're an adult for the first time, you're in a completely new place where you don't have to be anything other than exactly who you are. Relish in it. Times like this are very rare.

Wishing you the best first day of college!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

College Packing Tips

This weekend I am leaving to head back to school for my junior year of college! That's totally crazy! Heading back each year presents new challenges and experiences and can end up being pretty stressful. I remember freaking out before starting freshman year about how I was going to pack everything. I had collected to much stuff and didn't know how it would all fit in my mom's car. 

Packing up for college is a big job, but there's no reason to stress out over it! Here are my tips to make the trip as smooth as possible!

// leave clothes on the hangers //

Now you may be thinking that it would be easier to pack everything into suitcases, but those big suitcases take up a ton of room in the car and aren't as easy to squish around as clothes on the hanger. If you haven't already gotten slimline felt hangers, go pick some up. Trust me they will save your small closet. Once all of your in season (ones you will be wearing right away) clothes are on the new hangers, bundle them up in bunches of 15-20. Keep all the hangers together with hair ties or  rubber bands, then slip the bundle into a trash bag, securing the opening of the bag around the top of the hanger. This will save space in the car and make move in day so much easier!

// use spacebags //

This mainly applies to those of you who may be moving far away and won't be able to come home to switch out clothes. I packed all my heavy winter gear into spacebags and vacummed the air out to save space in the car. Then all you have to do when you get to school is store the bags until it's cold enough to pull the clothes out.

// wait to buy big items //

I talked about this a lot in this post, but you really don't need to have everything before you leave. You don't know exactly how the room will be laid out or how much space you'll have so wait to get bigger items like furniture and storage pieces.

// pack inside of other items for your room //

The key to packing for college is packing unconventionally. Big boxes and suitcases just take up space. I bet you have items for your dorm that you can pack items in instead. My freshman year I bought two canvas hampers (one I use for dirty laundry, the other for spare bedding and towels), when I moved, I had them packed full of my towels, sheets, and other bedding.

// pack an overnight bag //

If your trip is going to happen over several days, it'll be easier if you don't have to dig through bags to find a pair of pj's and your toothbrush. Make sure to leave out things you'll need on your trip and for move in day - pajamas, clothes for traveling and to wear on move in day, toiletries, etc. Keep it in an easily accessible place in the car (i.e. not under all of your bedding) so that you can easily pull it out when you stop for the night.

Do you have any other tips for packing for college? I would love to hear them!

Monday, August 1, 2016

July Top 10!

Just like that the summer is over, August is upon us and in less than a week I will be back in Clemson to get ready for my junior year of college. I have loved getting to spend this summer at home, it is truly what I needed. With another month gone, it's time for another Top 10!

1 // I turned 20 this month! I didn't have very high expectations for my 20th birthday, after all it just starts the countdown to 21. It ended up being such a great birthday. My family celebrates every birthday with cinnamon rolls for breakfast. My older brother and some of his friends happened to be in town so they joined us for breakfast. I got to spend the morning and early afternoon lounging in my PJs before going to an early dinner with my parents, little brother, and grandmother at a great pizza place in San Antonio. Cake and presents happened at my grandma's house after. Embarrassing story, I wanted a Boomerang of me blowing out my candles, but my little brother didn't know how to work it so we relit the candles and we still didn't get it to work! On the way home I was able to celebrate with blogging buddies by participating in the #bloggingcollege chat - that chat even inspired my letter to my freshman self. Once we got home, my mom and I packed up quickly before heading to Waco to go to Magnolia Market on Monday. It was a great birthday and I'm so thankful for my family for making it so special.

2 // I tried a few new beauty products this month after going a little overboard on a trip to Ulta. The first was CoverGirl The Super Sizer Fibers mascara. It's a little tricky to work with at first, but it gets better after a day or so. It takes a couple coats to get the full effect, which is pretty normal. Wait a few seconds in between coats; I usually apply a coat then put one on the other eye, once I'm done with my second eye, the first is dry enough for a second coat. I also saw a tip on Influenster that recommended rotating the wand as you apply - this definitely helps distribute the fibers for added length and volume.

3 // I also tried out the Maybelline Color Jolt liquid lipstick in Berry Naughty. It is my new favorite lip product! My favorite makeup item is lipstick so this is saying something. It dries down pretty matte and really doesn't move throughout the day. I want them in every single color!

4 // The last thing from my Ulta trip that I loved was a self tanner. Let me start by saying that I am pale, very very pale. I am perfectly fine with my pale skin, but sometimes you just want a little bit of color on your skin, without the risk of skin cancer. Enter the St. Moriz Instant Self-Tanning Mousse in Medium. I was so worried that it was going to turn me orange, but since the mousse is green based, it looks so natural. Like it took my mom a full day to notice. I just put it on after I've showered and shaved, right before bed, and in the morning I have a nice little tan. It doesn't stay a super long time, but that really doesn't bother me since I wanted something to give me a little bit of color when I want it. Oh and it's $13! Can't beat that.

5 // I have realized lately that my style is changing from more structured and preppy to more comfortable and laid back. Of course, I still love preppy style, but I'm getting more into pieces that can be dressed up or down and just feel more comfortable. I have been living in this boyfriend tee and a few others that I found on clearance at Old Navy. Old Navy is always a favorite of mine and they're in the middle of back to school sales so definitely check out their sale sections.

6 // In July I have been obsessed with two TV shows. It started off with Arrow, a CW series about a hooded vigilante, who happens to be a billionaire, who has returned home to avenge his father's death and keep his city safe. Highly, highly recommend! After just the first season you will want to be Felicity Smoak and marry Oliver Queen. The Flash is the other CW show I have been loving. It explains the beginnings and life of the superhero, The Flash (who was my favorite when I was little). It ties into Arrow so I recommend switching between the first season of the Flash and third season of Arrow. I really love superheroes and think these shows are great! Plus it's something that your brother and/or boyfriend would be willing to watch with you.

7 // Another show I love is, of course, The Bachelorette! The season finale is tonight and I am SO pumped to watch it. I think the show is way overdramatic and all engineered by the producers, but it's just so entertaining. I don't really care who wins either way (my favorites were Luke and Chase). Honestly I don't like Jordan or Robby and think Jojo would be better off without them, but that's just my opinion. I love watching the show because it's bonding time with my mom (we watch together) and my older sister, who I text my commentary to. It's light and mindless and I'm addicted. Oh and Bachelor in Paradise starts tomorrow. It's probably my favorite of the series, so excited.

8 // I recently rediscovered one of my all time favorite movies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It's so funny! There is something about 90's rom coms that just never gets old. I haven't seen the sequel that came out in the last year, but after rewatching the original, I would love to. The first is just so cute and heartwarming, perfectly light fluffy movie when you need something happy to watch.

9 // The only song I've really liked this month is 80's Mercedes by Maren Morris. I don't know why I like it so much. The lyrics aren't the best and are kind of cheesy, but the tune is so catchy! I want to sing along every single time it comes on the radio. A friend told me Maren Morris' whole album, Hero, is great so I definitely plan to listen to it soon.

10 // August may just be the craziest month of my life. I will be moving back to Clemson, starting my junior year, participating in recruitment with my sorority, welcoming new members at the bid day I'm planning (so, so, so much still to do). I can't wait to be a junior and I have high hopes for this year. The first few months are just going to be a little nuts. Hopefully with the help of my lovely boyfriend and my new Emily Ley Simplified Planner, I will be able to keep it all together.

Wishing you a lovely August,

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tips for Back to School Shopping

Back to School time was always one of my favorite times of year as a kid. Yes, there was the dreaded early alarms, impending homework, but there was also a lot of excitement. You never knew what the new school year was going to hold. My absolute favorite part of back to school was always going shopping!

I loved picking out new school supplies (still do) and it was so fun to pick out the perfect back to school outfit. The whole first week I would wear my brand new clothes from Old Navy and Justice (anyone else remember back to school shopping here?) because I was so excited. Then came the four years of high school where I had to wear a uniform everyday (now I see that as a blessing). Now that I'm in college and get to wear whatever I want everyday, I still love finding the perfect clothes for the start of the year.

In my opinion, shopping days can be totally hit or miss. To help you have the best back to school shopping experience, I wanted to offer up some of my favorite tips!

// know what you need //

Back to school (or back to college) is a great time to clean out your closet and take inventory of what you have and what you need. Maybe your jeans from last year got worn to death or that perfect white tee has a massive coffee stain. Pass on or toss out those items and go pick out new ones. This year I knew I really needed a new pair of jeans, and I ended up finding the most amazing jeans for my body type.

// wear neutral undergarments that fit //

This is probably the most important shopping tip in my opinion. Making sure everything is neutral underneath is the best way to be able to focus on the new items you're trying on. Also, if your undergarments are too tight and emphasizing certain areas, it won't help you see the true fit of an item. Making sure all the under things are neutral and fit right will make a world of difference when trying on clothes.

// wait a while after eating //

I was going to say eat light if you're doing a marathon shopping day and need to break for food at some point, but no, eat whatever the heck you want! Just wait a little bit to try on clothes after you eat. Work off the food baby by trying on shoes or finding your new school bag. The jeans that are just a smidgen too tight with a food baby might fit perfectly otherwise. You don't want to not get something you love or buy the wrong size so just take a little time then go back to finding the perfect pair of skinny jeans.

// don't get hung up on a number //

People say this a lot when talking about the number on the scale, but it's equally true on a pair of jeans. I have clothes that range from size 2 to size 8. That's a huge range! At every single store clothes will fit differently. It's good to know what size you wear at your favorite store, but don't be upset if that same size is too tight somewhere else. It's just a number. All that matters is that you're comfortable and you are happy in clothes that fit you.

// don't get something just because it's trendy //

Sure if you love the cold shoulder top and see yourself wearing it a bunch, then go ahead and get it. But don't decide that you should get trendy pieces just because it's what you've seen it all over Pinterest. Save your money to buy pieces you're comfortable in and want to wear constantly. Your style is completely yours so find pieces that suit you, not trends.

// take advantage of sales //

This one is sort of a "duh!" tip, but this time of year there are so many sales. My inbox gets at least 15 new emails everyday of stores having different sales. Pay attention to when your favorite places are having sales and take advantage of your state's tax free weekend if it has one! No need to break the bank back to school shopping!

// use the buddy system //

I think the best way to shop is with someone else. Whether it's your mom or best friend, having someone with you who will be honest when that dress really isn't flattering for your body type or will encourage you to try something outside of your comfort zone. Personally, when I shop alone I have a tendency to be a lot more critical on myself and my body. We can be our own worst critic and it helps to have someone who can assure you when something looks great on you.

Wishing you happy shopping and a fabulous back to school season!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Letter to My Freshman Self

Dear 18 year old Ashley,

Right now, you've just turned 18, you're spending your summer babysitting, and you're counting down the days until you leave for college. You are going to be moving across the country to a place where you don't know anyone. It will be exciting. It will be scary. It will get pretty lonely. But you'll come out the other side a whole lot stronger. Looking back two years from now, you won't be able to believe how much has changed and happened in your first half of college. The experiences and mistakes over the first two years of college will shape you, but there are some things I wish you would know now, instead of realizing two years from now.

Your dorm will not look like Pinterest. All the furniture is dark brown and you and your roommate didn't try to match exactly. All your Pinterest dreams will not come true with your freshman dorm, and that is okay! Your dorm room may not look like you imagined, but it will turn out to be a great place to spend your freshman year. 

However, you need to get your butt out of it more. The first few months will be really hard and you won't ever want to go to events or activities alone (you're still working on this in two years), but you cannot sit around just waiting on someone to ask you to do something. Be more proactive if you want to hang out with a friend instead of spending too much time alone.

When it comes to sororities and going through recruitment, still go through. You won't regret it. But don't say you have an open mind when you really are hoping to follow your mom's legacy. You will just end up hurt and disappointed. Trust me when I say you will be glad you didn't end up there. They are not your people, even if you don't know that now. 

As for the sorority you do join, remember that the organizations you are in do not define you. You define them. When boys at fraternity parties say things like "how are you one of them? You're not fat or weird," say something sassy back and walk away. They know nothing about you or your sisters, so they have no right to say anything so rude to you. And you definitely shouldn't let them get away with it. You and your sisters are strong, independent, fierce, and brilliant. It only hurts you to worry about what other people think of you because of what sorority you are in. Instead of wasting so much time and energy on that, use that time to build relationships with these women, you will wish you had started to really get to know them sooner.

Speaking of being confident in your sorority, be confident in yourself. You're still working on this one too. But there is no reason you should be afraid to raise your hand in class when you know the answer. There's no reason to be afraid of anything really. Speak up in class, talk to the girl who sits next to you everyday, go to a club meeting even when you don't know a single soul. Just please don't let your fear keep you cooped up in your dorm room. And don't try to boost your confidence by seeking gratification in others. It may be nice to hear someone tell you're pretty, but it is fleeting. Work on being confident in yourself and finding that confidence in something greater than you, instead of empty words.

You need to get out and make friends. Whether it's hanging out in the Mauldin kitchen or the girl down the hall's room or whatever else, there is no such thing as having too many friends. Just keep in mind that while some friendships start quickly and easily, they take a lot of work to maintain. You have to put effort into those friendships if you want them to last. But on the flip side, don't be so determined to maintain a friendship if it isn't a good one. Some friends will be there forever, some aren't meant to stay more than a few weeks. You will get better at realizing this.

Talk to people. Talk to everyone. Make friends with lab partners and hallmates. Start conversations with the 15 other girls all waiting for the bathroom at the party (if nothing else it will be entertaining). Talk to the boy who sits next to you in the bed of the pickup truck on the way to your first fraternity function, he'll turn out to be someone very special, it'll just take you a few months to find that out.

Call family often. You'll be pretty good about talking to your parents, but please call your grandparents more. They're not here forever and you will always wish you had more time to talk to them.

Keep in touch with your friends from home. Two years later and those two quirky friends of yours are still the best friends you've ever had. But don't be jealous of them making new friends and finding best friends at school, after all you should be doing that too.

Lastly, there will be times where you are not okay, and that is perfectly alright. Nothing is going to be perfect 100% of the time (heck it won't even be perfect 10% of the time), but everything happens the way it needs to. You cannot control everything. You don't need to control everything. Try not to be so anxious, I know that will be hard, it's still hard now. Don't let other people rob you of happiness just because they let you down. There are so many other people who will be there for you unconditionally, you just need to look around a little more to find them.

There is so much more I could say, but I have rambled and made barely any sense for long enough. Just know that at 20 you still don't have it all figured out, everything is not perfect, your college experience is not how you imagined it, but it is everything you need it to be. You still love Clemson, you have some pretty great friends at home and at school, you have an awesome, supportive family, and a wonderful boyfriend. You have started sharing your thoughts and feelings on the Internet and it has opened you up in tons of new ways. You are still learning and still growing, and I hope that doesn't ever change.

Have a great freshman year!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

21 by 21

Hey y'all!
 I am super excited today because today I turn 20! Birthdays are always fun and exciting, but aside from no longer being a teenager (thank God those years are over!) 20 doesn't come with much exciting. It starts the countdown to 21, 365 days, but who's counting ;).

I want to countdown to 21 in a productive way, so that is what inspired today's post. A lot of bloggers have 101 in 1001 lists, inspired by Mackenzie Horan, but the next three years of my life are going to bring lots of changes - finishing college, getting a real job, who knows what else - so I want to do something a little bit more manageable and have a list of 21 things I want to accomplish by the time I turn 21 next summer.

1. Visit at least 2 new places in South Carolina.
2. Visit at least 1 new place outside of South Carolina.
3. Establish productive and effective morning and night routines at school.
4. Go to bed by 11pm every night for a week.
5. Workout consistently for at least a month.
6. Go on 3(+) hikes in the Clemson area.
7. Join and be actively involved in two new organizations.
8. Work on establishing a solid group of friends.
9. Call my parents at least once per week.
10. Find a church at school I really love and attend consistently.
11. Maintain a consistent blogging schedule.
12. Hit at least 15,000 total page views on the blog.
13. Continue to interact with other bloggers and meet one or two in real life.
14. Decide if I want to go to grad school after college and where I'll apply.
15. Take a class outside of my major just because I am interested in the subject matter.
16. Read 5 new books just for fun.
17. Eat 3 real meals everyday for a month.
18. Learn how to cook 5 good (maybe even healthy) dinner recipes.
19. Practicing paying it forward by paying for someone else's coffee anonymously.
20. Send 10 hand written notes to people just because.
21. Try something completely out of my comfort zone.

So that is my 21 by 21 list!
I will be adding this in a page on my blog and regularly update it with my progress. I am so excited for this new year and new decade (!!!) of my life and really hope to challenge myself with this list.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cheers To The Teen Years

Hello friends! I have four days left as a teenager (what?!!?!). It's crazy to think about how much I have changed and grown since I turned 13 in 2009 (geez that makes me seem old). To celebrate leaving my teen years behind, I wanted to reflect on the many life lessons I learned throughout being a teenager. So here is some of the wisdom (ha!) I gained during my teen years!

Lessons I learned as a teenager -

- If you're not happy where you are (school, friend group, etc) you can leave, and it's usually better if you do.

- Even when it doesn't seem like it, things have a way of working out for the best.

- Being the new person is hard, but it will force you to grow.

- The friends who stick around when life changes will surprise you.

- Being part of the "popular" group means nothing if the people aren't true friends.

- In small environments (schools, communities, etc) everyone will know everything about everyone else. There is no way to avoid that.

- Just because people are wealthier or have nicer things than you does not mean they are better than you.

- Sometimes you'll be a better friend to someone than they are to you, and it won't be easy.

- Secrets should always be kept. 

- Always stand up for yourself, even when you're nervous or scared.

- Wearing uniforms for high school is actually really nice.

- Speak out when you don't agree with something or someone.

- High school boys are not worth crying over.

- Being a leader is tricky and you only make things harder if you never ask for help.

- You will never be able to control anyone, stop trying.

- Sometimes the only way to start feeling better is to sob to your mom on the way home.

- Never, ever be mean to your mom. She is always going to be your biggest cheerleader.

- Be grateful for your parents and tell them thank you often.

- What people think of you in high school (or in any season of life) does not define you.

- Listen to your gut instinct. Those feelings tend to be right.

-  You are not dumber than your classmates because you decided to go to a southern state school instead of a liberal arts college in the northeast.

- Some people aren't meant to stay in your life forever.

- Thank your high school teachers - you owe them a lot.

- Don't be afraid to raise your hand in class when you know the answer.

- You didn't "just get lucky" or "guess well" when you do well in class. Own it.

- Just because you can get away with procrastinating doesn't mean you should.

- Sometimes all you need is a night completely by yourself.

- Other times you need to get your butt up and out of your dorm and meet people.

- Fraternity parties are never as fun as they seem on Greek. Go to a few anyway.

- Organizations you are in don't define you, you define them.

- Prove people wrong.

- If your roommate is going to walk across campus late at night, go with her. You might just run into someone who will change your life.

- Take hard classes, join an organization where you don't know anyone, challenge yourself. It's always worth it.

- Time management is everything.

- The world is a very small place. You will find out you have craziest connections to people.

- Be kind to everyone, always.

- You don't have to be part of one specific friend group all the time.

- In fact, it's better if you can bounce around and hang out with all sorts of people. 

- Distance yourself from people who drag you down or make you feel bad about yourself.

- Never be okay with someone being rude to another person.

- Hanging out with a bunch of boys can be the best mental break ever.

- If there is something you want to do or something you want to start, go for it.

- You never have to be anything other than your authentic self.

- Life is short, eat another cookie.

- Appreciate every single time you get to see your grandparents. Unfortunately they won't be here forever.

- Words are powerful, use them carefully.

- 9 times out of 10, it's not worth worrying about, but you'll worry anyway.

- Wear bright lipstick (or anything for that matter) if it makes you happy.

- You can always go back home. 

I could probably think of a million more things to include on this list, but I need to stop somewhere. I hope you enjoyed this list of things I have learned over the past seven years. A lot of these things I continue to learn and work on, life is funny that way. 

What are some of the major life lessons you learned as a teenager? I would love to hear! 

Monday, July 18, 2016

10 Life Goals for My 20's

Happy Monday y'all!
I am super excited because it is officially my birthday week, yes I am one of those obnoxious people. To celebrate entering my 20's I am doing a week of posts themed around turning 20 and leaving the teen years behind.

In my opinion, your 20s is where you become a real adult and have some really big life changes happen. This impending reality is a little lot nerve wracking, but I always find that making lists helps me feel less nervous and keeps me accountable. So here is a list of the 10 things I would like to accomplish in my 20's (in no particular order).

1. Travel Abroad // I have technically been out of the country on a cruise, but at some point in the next 10 years, I would like to make my way "across the pond" and visit some of the places that are on my bucket list: London, Paris, all of Italy and Ireland, and many more.

2. Go to Grad School // I have picked a major where there is not a whole lot I can do with just a Bachelors degree so I will inevitably have to go to grad school. I hope to find a school and a program that fits what I would like to do (developmental psychology).

3. Get a Big Girl Job I Love // Obviously you can't be a real adult without a real adult job.  I don't know exactly what my dream job is yet, but hopefully between my last two years of college and going to grad school I will be able to find the career and the job that suits me and that I love doing.

4. Start Seriously Saving // Yes I do have a savings account now, but at the moment saving money for my first house or other big life expenses isn't a top priority. As I go through the next few years and get a real job, I hope to start spending smarter and putting money away for those big life events that are to come. 

5. Start Investing // Raise your hand if your parents have lectured you about starting to save money for retirement while you're young (my hand is wayyy up). My dad is always telling me about different investments and how important it is to have investment accounts young so that you can provide for yourself when you're older. Most of the time I just nod my head like I understand Roth IRAs and DOW and which stocks are good. However, since I am making strides towards becoming a real adult, I want to really learn about all the things my dad has been telling me about. Maybe even using some like this to keep track of money and investments in order to prepare for my future.

6. Get Married // I know I have zero control over this whatsoever, but I like to think that I will get married sometime before I'm 30. This one is more of a dream than a goal.

7. Move Into My First Apartment // I have spent the past two years and again this upcoming year living in a dorm on campus, which is totally fine with me. But I am so excited for senior year to move into my very first apartment! I have never had a place of my own besides my bedroom at home, so I am really looking forward to being able to decorate an apartment and start living on my own.

8. Put Down Roots // I don't mean planting a garden. By the time I hit 30 I want to be settled in the place I will call home for an expanse of time. Whether it means coming back to Texas (the actual goal) or finding out that I'm meant to be somewhere else, I hope to get all that figured out and start finding out how I fit in a new community.

9. Buy a House // This goes along with #6 sorta. I don't have a single clue what the next ten years are going to hold (heck I don't even know what tomorrow will hold), but I would like to start building a foundation for my life and part of that is having my own home (with my imaginary future husband). A lot goes into this, like finding the place to call home and being able to afford it (see how all of these tie together), so this one ranks as both a dream and a goal.

10. Be Happy // Again I don't have a single clue what will happen in this next stage of my life (ugh sounding like an adult already), but I hope that whatever happens I will be happy and joyful and truly love my life.

So these are the things I hope for in my 20's, do you have any major #lifegoals for your next few years? I would love to hear!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Dorm Inspiration

I am so excited to share the inspiration for my dorm room for this year. Yes, I am a junior still living in the dorms, that's a whole other story. It wasn't my plan, but I am excited for it, especially because I will have a single room. Since I don't have to worry about decorating around a roommate this year, I can really dive into decorating my room the way I want it. 

I'm not completely overhauling all of my dorm decor, but I am modifying it. Freshman year I went with a bright coral and aqua color scheme, which I still love, but I am entering my 20s and the second half of college and I want a look that is more grown up, but still bright and fun.
Coral, aqua and gold dorm -

I'm keeping the same color scheme (I obviously like these colors if you can't tell from my blog). But I'm toning things down a bit with a white duvet cover and adding in gold accents. I actually plan to decorate one wall with removable adhesive gold pineapples from Wall Pops. I'm not sure how to improve the rest of the wall, but I do plan to hang up a cork board over my desk. I have one my grandma was getting rid of that I plan to cover in fabric or spray paint, before covering it in cute printables and cute gold tassels so I have an actual pin board in my room. 

To dress up the room a bit, I'm adding in a metal trellis nightstand with a mirrored top, similar to the one pictured, that I found on clearance at Tuesday Morning. I also plan to perk up the brown tile floor with a turquoise rug my mom found at Big Lots. A DIY headboard in a bold print fabric should also help the bed look more homey. Bunches of throw pillows can also dress up a bed too. I really want to add in a cute pineapple pillow like this one I found on etsy.

I plan to share photos of my room once it is all decorated. If you want to see more of the look I'm going for, check out my Pinterest board for my dorm here:

How do you plan to decorate your dorm room?

Monday, July 11, 2016

What To Buy Before Leaving for College

Shopping and packing for college is so difficult. You want to get all of the cute things for your dorm, but don't know how to fit all that into your mom's SUV with all of your clothes and half your childhood bedroom. Sound familiar? Well I have realized that people packing to go to college (18 year old me included) make some pretty big mistakes.
Pinterest is full of posts titled "the only college packing list you need" and "what you really need to bring to college." Those posts are well and good, but they're not practical, especially if you're moving far away for school like I did. It is unrealistic to get everything you think you need before you're actually at school. So today I want to give you a little advice about what you should get before leaving for school and what you can wait on buying until you get to school.
// what you should get at home //

While it looks like you still need to get a lot at home, it's important to note that they are some of the smaller dorm items. You should get all your bedding at home so that you can insure you get what you want. Same goes for mattress pads and protectors, with potentially thousands of kids moving in, you never know what Target will be sold out of.  That's also why I have command strips on the list. My Target was completely out when I got to school so it would have been helpful to get them before.

I also included big decorative items. I don't necessarily mean big in size, but big in the sense of it's important for you to have in your room. For example, if you want a gallery wall next to your bed, you should get the prints, pictures, and other items for it at home. Just keep in mind that space in your dorm is limited. Also if you're making anything, like a headboard, it's best to do that at home when you're not rushed.

Getting hangers ahead of time is also a packing/unpacking trick. Put all the clothes you plan to take to school (for that season) on your new hangers, I highly recommend thin line felt hangers, then bundle clothes together using hair ties or rubber bands to keep the hangers together. Then place the clothes in a plastic trash bag and cinch the opening around the tops of the hangers, that way you don't have to worry about your favorite tank top falling out on the walk from the car to your dorm.

The rest of the list are other practical things that again you don't want to end up in need of. Having a small tool kit will help you when setting up your dorm, and is good to have because most people don't have tools at college when they need them. It's also good to put together a first aid kit with band aids, a thermometer, some pain relievers, etc.

// what you should wait on //

A lot of the lists I have seen recommend getting plastic storage bins or drawers, various organizers, and even some extra furniture. However, you likely won't know how much space you really have until you get into your dorm. I packed in suitcases and trash bags (super classy I know) and bought storage items and organizers later on. You don't want to end up with a ton of drawers you don't need because your dorm's already available storage is plenty for you. Or buy a futon before realizing you don't want to loft your bed and there is no place for it to go.

Save the space and wait until you get into your dorm to decide what is really necessary for you and your dorm. Everyone is different so those college packing lists (and even this list) may not apply to you. Don't let Pinterest convince you that if you don't have exactly what is on those lists, your dorm won't be absolutely perfect.

Is there anything I left out of either list? Did you bring things you ended up not needing to college?