Thursday, June 30, 2016

Best Places to Shop for Dorm Decor

This is the second installment into my college dorm series that I'm working on this summer. If you didn't see my first post with all sorts of advice for before you go dorm shopping, you should check it out.

Now that you have consulted with your roommate, decided on what you want your dorm to look like and gotten TONS of inspiration from Pinterest, it is time for the fun part, shopping! Every girl wants that Pinterest-perfect dorm, however having a cute dorm room can get pricy very quickly. Don't worry! I have a ton of recommendations for places to find great pieces for your dorm without having to spend crazy amounts of money.

// Target //

Do I even need to tell you this one? Target is the best for pretty much everything. For all of your basics: sheets, bed pillows, mattress cover, etc., Target is the place to go. They'll also have some great decor finds too, but I recommend getting those on sale (if you haven't checked out Target's Cartwheel app, you should). You can also find some fun things to brighten up your space that aren't technically meant as home decor, like the fun, bright colored tassel garlands and banners they have with party supplies. The Target dollar spot also tends to have some great finds.

// T. J. Maxx / Home Goods //

T. J. Maxx or Home Goods are great places to find decor and storage items at much more reasonable prices. Those cute acrylic containers that beauty bloggers use to organize their makeup? You can find those for probably less than half the usual price at Home Goods. When I was buying things for my freshman dorm, I found two canvas hampers at Home Goods that I have used to hold dirty laundry and spare sheets/towels. I also got all of my thin felt hangers at T. J. Maxx for really cheap. Check back throughout the summer because their stock is always changing.

// Tuesday Morning //

Tuesday Morning is another great place to find awesome decor for really good prices. My mom found throw pillows, a set of sheets, and a set of towels for me at Tuesday Morning when I was going to college. More recently, I found a beautiful metal trellis bedside table with a mirrored top that I plan to use in my dorm this year. Oh it was also $30. What? I've seen similar things online for over $100. Like T. J. Maxx, check back often because they're always getting new things.

// At Home //

At Home might be my favorite out of all of these. It is a home decor superstore and it has everything you could possibly dream of for decorating your dorm for extraordinarily reasonable prices. Their selection of throw pillows is unreal for much better prices than even Target. Think $15 instead of $30. At Home also has tons of rugs at great prices. I think 5ft x 7ft will be the best size for my next dorm room and At Home has lots of cute options for under $50. I haven't looked at their less practical, more decorative items, but I plan on going back and probably will pick up a few things. If you don't have a location near you, their website is great too.

// Walmart //

Now I don't necessarily recommend Walmart for lots of things, as the quality isn't always great, but you can find some good things there. The other week I found some hand towels that perfectly match my dorm colors that I couldn't resist picking up. If you have a bathroom you need to outfit, Walmart would be a good place to go. They have lots of cute shower curtains, tooth brush holders, soap dispensers that all go together. 

// Dollar Tree //

When it comes to organizing your dorm room, Dollar Tree (or any other dollar store) is your friend. I have a bunch of little plastic bins in varying sizes from Dollar Tree that I use to organize my dorm desk drawers for storing school supplies and makeup. I also got some laundry necessities like zippered bags for delicates and a laundry bag from Dollar Tree. On a slightly related note, look at your local Dollar Tree for a stain remover called Oxygen Orange in an orange bottle. It's the best, it got a month old red wine stain out of my white Lilly dress. Trust me having a good stain remover with you will be a life saver.

Do you have any other recommendations for places to find reasonable dorm decor?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

You Look Like the Fourth of July

I hope you get my Legally Blonde 2 reference, if not go watch it. Anyway, it is finally my favorite time of the year! The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday and one of my favorite parts is picking out the perfect patriotic outfit for the day's events.

Even better than finding a great outfit to celebrate the day, is finding that outfit at a store that stands for a great cause. On Sunday, I was at the mall and went into the store Altar'd State, where they had such a pretty display of patriotic attire (pictured above). I wanted all of it! The striped dress you see above is what I will be wearing to a party on the Fourth with some red accessories. If you have an Altar'd State near you, I highly recommend checking it out. I've shopped there before and will continue to for a long time because of how much I like this brand and what they stand for. 

In case you don't know about the store, I'll fill you in. Altar'd State was founded in 2009 as a modern Christian store. They transitioned into a clothing boutique, but maintained their Christian roots and desire to transform the retail environment. Their mission statement is "SERVING as an inspiration, EMPOWERING others by GIVING more than we receive, we stand out for good to glorify GOD." Do you know of any other retail company with a mission statement like that? I don't. Altar'd State gives back by donating 1% of all of their profits to various charities. So far they've donated over 2 million dollars to charity. Each Monday, they donate 10% of the days profits to a designated charity often varying by location. They also reimburse their employees for four hours of volunteer work every month. That's insane! They have very clearly defined values and stick to them. 

Those values wouldn't mean anything if customers don't enjoy their shopping experience. I have never not liked shopping at Altar'd State. Their employees are soo nice. For example, on Sunday I was walking around the store with the clothes I had already tried on and planned on buying and probably had three different employees ask how I was doing and needed a fitting room. This could be seen as annoying, I see it as them being very attentive to their customers. I just think this store is amazing and think you should check it out.

Have you been to Altar'd State? Did you like it as much as I do?

(P.S. Altar'd State is having a huge semi annual sale right now with up to 60% off sale items)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

20th Birthday Wishlist

3-way wrap // Mayari Birkenstocks // navy tassel bracelet // pink tassel bracelet
Grace Not Perfection (pre-order) // coffee mug // Bose speaker
Hunter boots // Texas print // rubies print

It is officially one month until I turn 20!!! How crazy is that?! People become real adults in their 20s. I'm so not ready for that. To distract myself from thinking about growing up, I found a few things for my wishlist. I know there are more practical things I should probably ask for, but what is the fun in that? Disclaimer: I definitely don't expect to get all (any) of these things, sometimes it's just fun to make a wishlist.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Magnolia Dreams

This past weekend my sweet boyfriend came to Texas. His mom also lives in Texas, so we split time with my family and his. His mom wanted all of us to go do something fun on Saturday, and suggested making the trip to Waco to see Magnolia Market. 

If you've never seen the HGTV show Fixer Upper 1) you should go watch right now, 2) the show features the life and business of Texas husband and wife duo, Chip and Joanna Gaines. Their business, Magnolia Homes, specializes in renovating old homes in the Waco, Texas area. Their business and their show has become so popular that they have grown from a small boutique to a market that takes up an entire block. The Gaines are the sweetest, most genuine people. It is impossible to not love them.

Mike and I are huge fans of the show, so we were totally up for going to see the heart of their business.

Joanna is known for her bright, farmhouse decorating style, and the Market is so representative of that. Everything is decorated to a t. Workers are even walking around to straighten up constantly and make sure that nothing is out of place. Right when you walk in, you are greeted by a beautiful display of kites and perfectly arranged books. 

On the other side of the door, right next to the tulips pictured below, was a guest book where visitors could sign and leave a message for Chip and Jo. It really made the experience feel more personal.

If you've seen the show, then you'll probably recognize these custom metal signs that are frequently seen in some of their designs.

The front of the market leads into a small silo that serves as a continuation of the shop, with even more home decor and souvenirs, as well as storage for extra stock of the items in the store.

 While I didn't end up getting anything (this time), there were more than a few things I would have liked to pick up, like the candles you see in the picture below. They smelled ah-mazing!

 There was even a whole corner devoted to Jo's favorite paper products. If there is anything you need to know about me, it is that I have a serious weakness for pretty paper, cards, planners, notebooks, you name it. Magnolia Market sells a few gorgeous notebooks I had to resist buying, since I have too many already. The next time I go, I'll probably end up picking up at least one.

Outside of the shop, there is a huge open area where people could play games like cornhole. Saturday happened to be an extraordinarily hot day (the heat index was 104 degrees!!!), so most people were choosing to hang out in the shade next to the silos or under the antique barn that serves as a pavilion on the property. They even had a gourmet popsicle stand to help visitors beat the Texas heat.

Joanna Gaines has not let a single detail be forgotten at the market. Obviously anticipating how many people would want to take pictures on their visit, one worker is stationed out by the entrance to serve as a photographer for anyone who wants one. She took these photos of Mike and I. 

If you count from Clemson, we "traveled" 947 #milestomagnolia.

I definitely recommend going to visit the Magnolia Market in Waco, especially if you are a Fixer Upper fan. My only tip is to go on a weekday when it will be less crowded, and maybe not in the summertime if you aren't ready to withstand the Texas heat.

Friday, June 10, 2016

7 Things To Do Before Dorm Shopping

For any of you soon-to-be college freshman, if you're anything like me, the second you got into college you had a pinterest board devoted to all of your ~*dorm inspiration*~ filled with expertly decorated dorm rooms that look like they came out of the PB Teen catalog and your mind was filling with millions of ideas and plans for your future dorm. For me this started in November of my senior year after I got my first acceptance. I didn't decide where I was going until late April. By the time I had my room assignment in June, I had so many ideas of exactly what I wanted. I wanted to use all those Target gift cards from graduation and go crazy, but before you start running around target in a whirlwind, it's important to do a little planning. Here are some things to do BEFORE you start buying all the things for your dorm.

// talk to your roommate // 

You know that person that you'll be sharing a room with for the next year? Might be a good idea to talk to them before you start buying a ton of stuff for your room. You don't want to end up with polar opposite sides of the room (anyone remember this commercial? so wonderfully 2004). Text or FaceTime your roommate and talk through your plans: color palette, do you want to match exactly or just coordinate? Do you even care if your room goes together at all? Maybe even go wild a make a joint Pinterest board that you can both add to to get an idea of each others style.

// look at a layout of your dorm room //

Clemson (and I'm guessing most other universities) allow students to get an idea of the general makeup of their dorm room. At the very least they give measurements for different parts of the room and things like the bed, desk, etc. Google and Pinterest are your friends, use them! Google (or pinterest search) "xyz residence hall, your university." It'll come up with some things that will help you get a better idea of the space you're working with. If that doesn't work, maybe do a little social media digging if you know anyone older at your school.

// decide who is bringing what //

Outfitting your college dorm gets! In order to combat that, talk to your roommate and discuss who is going to buy which things for the room. Maybe she already has a TV she can bring from home, maybe your big brother is graduating and wants to pass on his mini fridge. Figure out what each of your already has in the way of big items like a tv, mini fridge, futon, other furniture, etc. that you can contribute to the room. Once you know what you have,  decide what else you need/want and which of you is responsible for each item. Communication is key when living with a roommate, and it starts with the dorm planning.

// set a budget //

Talk to your parents about what/if they're willing to contribute, look at your own bank account and decide how much of that graduation money you want to put towards your dorm. Spending all $1500 you make over the summer may not sound great, but putting a cap of about $500 is a good place to start. Like I said, getting all this stuff is expensive!!! $100 for a bedspread? Jokes. Being a sort of adult isn't cheap. Be realistic about what all you want and how much it is going to cost to give you the dorm room of your dreams. Keep in mind that you will only live in this exact room for a year and might not live in a dorm at all the next year.

// make a need vs want list //

You need bedding, towels, and hangers, but cute throw pillows and those knick knacky decor items aren't super necessary. Look at some packing guides and figure out what you really need for your dorm vs things you would like but are not super essential. You'll want to keep this in mind when it comes to shopping and your budget.

// pin, pin, pin, and pin some more //

Like I said earlier, you've probably had a dorm board going since the day you got accepted into college, but now that you have the true ~vision~ of your future paradise of a dorm room, pin away. Go absolutely Pinterest crazy! Get tons and tons of pinspiration to figure out what you like and what you don't. Is there a particular color scheme you really love? Do you want a pretty-colored paradise or a neutral haven? Maybe someone has some really neat ideas for how to organize everything, or some cool DIYs that will save money. Extra points for making a board with your roommate(s). 

// be realistic //

Now that you have so many ideas of exactly what you want your dorm to look like, it's time for a reality check. Some of those elaborately decorated Pinterest dorms are expensive to replicate. Some dorm rooms are just really ugly and all the cute decor in the world won't make them pretty. Don't get too set on this one duvet cover you saw on a pin that originated in 2011. I'm not saying you can't have the Pinterest-perfect room, just don't put too much pressure on yourself to make it happen.

This is hopefully the first of many posts about dorm room living coming for you this summer so be on the look out for others!

Monday, June 6, 2016

May Top 10!

Happy June everybody! I know we're already a few days in, but monthly wrap up comes better late than never I guess. I can't believe this last month has gone by so quickly. How have I possibly been home this long already??? And felt like I have accomplished nothing so far? It's time to get it in gear and that's what I'm going to do. 
Even though April showers continued through all of May in Texas, it was really nice to be home, so here are some of my favorite things from the past few weeks.

1 // The other weekend, my best friend, Sara, and I participated in our favorite summertime activity, go to country music concerts. For some reason, our area is filled with awesome live music venues that have great lineups all summer long. We saw some of our favorite bands, Josh Abbott Band and Casey Donahew, as well as a couple openers, at a local amphitheater. We've seen them both before. Casey always puts on a fun show. Josh Abbott was great too, but his new album is much more mellow so the concert definitely had that feel too. It was still fun to spend time with my best friend. 

2 // Remember Bath & Body Works? Aside from a random lotion at Christmas, I hadn't gotten anything from there, much less been in a store in years. Until my mom and I needed to get Mother's Day presents, and naturally we picked up a couple things for ourselves too. My roommate this year always had a few of their body sprays that she used and they always smelled great, so I decided to pick up a couple. I got one in the scent Hello Beautiful, which is all fruity and floral - highly recommend, the other is Watermelon Lemonade, which smells good enough to eat and is perfectly summery. 

3 // A few weeks ago I got to go shopping with Sara and one of her friends and managed to pick up a few new things. By far my favorite is this t shirt dress from H&M. It's easy to throw on and so comfortable! I've worn it to work, to a grad party, and it would be so easy to throw on with sneakers for a really casual look. If you're on the taller side, you could easily wear this as a long top with skinny jeans or leggings. I want it in every color. 

4 // My favorite blog to read this month has been Kelly in the City by Kelly Larkin. She normally does mostly fashion related posts, but she's also very open about her life and shows the real side to herself and her life, which I love because like Instagram, people's blogs are usually a highlight real of pretty pictures that don't always give you the full picture. I love it when bloggers are so real and open, because as silly as it seems to say, they are real people too.

5 // This month I watched some documentaries for the first time. I have never really gotten the appeal, I like my movies to be fun, not educational. However I loved the ones I watched and they could not be more different. Both are on Netflix and I highly recommend them! The first was Iris, which is about the life and style of legendary interior designer and fashion icon Iris Apfel. Oh my goodness, she is a hoot. Her style is insane and eccentric, but I love that she dresses for herself, wears whatever makes her happy, and doesn't worry about what the "in" trend is at the time. 
The other documentary I watched was completely different. It's called The Dropbox and it is the simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking story of a pastor in South Korea who has installed a baby box where parents who do not think they can raise their child can leave their baby to make sure the baby ends up in good care. The pastor and his family have rescued hundreds of children, and adopted quite a few. The movie also gives commentary on this issue of human rights in South Korea and left me crying and wanting to help these babies. It's truly an amazing story.

6 // Even though it just started back up, one of my favorite shows has been The Bachelorette! I loved Jojo on the last season of the Bachelor and I think she's amazing. It looks like this season is going to be a good one too. I watch every Monday while frequently texting my sister about the episode. I even have a bracket going with her and her friends!

7 // One of the best things about being home is having "real" food. Yes, dining hall food is technically real, but it isn't real good or real good for you. I have been loving having home cooked meals, a stocked fridge and pantry, and a consistent supply of fruit - the only fruit Clemson dining halls offer is grainy apples, bananas and oranges. I tried to keep fresh fruit in my mini fridge but somehow it always went bad before I could eat it. My parents keep a ton of frozen fruit on hand and I have been using my little brother's NutriBullet blender to make smoothies for breakfast on a nearly daily basis. I'm even looking into getting my own for my dorm next year.

8 // I haven't been spending a ton of time on YouTube compared to how much I have in the past. I guess I'm just getting bored with the channels I've been following for a while. However, I did start following two new-to-me channels this month. Eleventh Gorgeous is by a set of hilarious twins, they mainly do makeup reviews and test different "hacks," nothing super ground breaking and different, but their positive, upbeat personalities and the way they interact together makes them fun to watch. I also started watching Tati's videos, because as I said last month, I have gotten really into looking up reviews of things, and this girl harshly reviews everything to let you know what's up and she really knows her stuff. 

9 // Another thing I've loved for the past month is just being home. It can get a little bit boring from time to time, but going to school so far from home, I hardly get to spend any time with my family and I have gotten to spend a ton of time with them lately, especially my momma. There's also something to be said about just getting to be in my own room, my own bed. I've always been a major home body so I've just been soaking that up while I can.

10 // For June (even though we're already a few days in) I'm really looking forward to my boyfriend coming to visit. I haven't seen him since I left Clemson at the end of April. He'll only be in Texas for a long weekend, but a little time together is better than nothing!

Hope everyone is having a fun start to the month!