Planning for Success as a Student

Chances are we all know at least one person who is ready to embark on their college journey in the fall. When I first went away to school, I remember feeling like I had so many school supplies, yet I felt nowhere near prepared enough to actually start college. Y’all already know how much I love office supplies and every possible product to keep me organized, so I thought I’d elaborate a little more on some things that I loved having and that I wish I had! Through my five and half (long) years of college, I finally learned what products work best and the ones that aren’t really necessary. These are the things that have worked well for me and the things I really don’t think I would have made it through successfully without!

*This post contains affiliate links.
I really feel like a person can’t have enough office or school supplies. It’s just not possible! You’ll always use them eventually, and there’s just something about a nice clean notebook with catchy stickers and colorful pens that make note taking easier. In college, my Lilly Pulitzer Academic planner was the best thing I owned. It was bright and colorful, user friendly and made me actually want to get it out to use – always. How cute is this Lilly Pulitzer 17 month 2017-2018?!

I always loved to use a colored coated notebook & binder for each class, just the simple $1 or $2 ones you can find just about anywhere they sell school supplies. I know I linked these pens in another post, but I’ve found that color coating notes with ink color helps in the studying process, it doesn’t just look pretty! These BIC colorful pens are inexpensive and the best option, with the best colors!

Note taking is never complete without page markers and stickers. Check out some of my favorites here! There are so many options out there, so I just wanted to share some of my favorites. Another thing that made organization of my weeks easier was a set of paper clips, push pins, and binder clips, in a addition to a small bulletin board. I used the bulletin to write out my week at a glance, in order to hold me accountable and let me know what events I had coming up that week. My Day Designs Wall Calendar has since taken the place of a bulletin board in my home, but either one works perfectly! Which one do you prefer?

Do any of you all have an organization station in your kitchen or somewhere around the house? I think they are SO cute so please let me know if y’all have one & how you set it up & use it!

The summer before heading to school, I received an Amazon gift card as a graduation gift and had absolutely no idea what I would ever find on Amazon. Good news- Amazon has literally everything. I ended up finding my favorite kate spade new york Pencil Pouch on there and I still use it today! It’s so clean and pretty and, I must say, we have definitely come a long way from the plastic pencil boxes from first grade! I also absolutely love my Kate Spade coffee tumbler. Mine is white and gold striped, and my pencil holder is white and gold polka dots, like I’ve linked above. Does it get any cuter than that?

One of the biggest things I’ve fallen in love with is this stainless steel programmable crockpot. There are so many recipes out there that are so much better than soup every night and cooking with a crockpot is SO easy. Besides, these bags make for the easiest clean up! I love making oatmeal or chia pudding in the crockpot, as well as my Mexican chili and apple crisp. The options are endless. Over the last few years, I’ve accumulated several cookbooks with tons of recipes too, so we all know there’s tons of options out there to make cooking easy for busy students or adults! We’re all busy, so no matter if we’re heading to college or just dealing with all the crazy of our every day lives’, a crockpot is always a good idea.

A lot of these recommendations and products are steered more toward girls, but some of my note taking tips and colored coordination study habits hopefully can help everyone! Who do you know that’s heading off to school? What are you doing to help get them ready?

 

*I know I’ve been referring you guys to Amazon a lot in my posts, I just think it’s awesome how much you can order and how quickly you can get it! You can literally get anything you could possibly need! Another thing that’s awesome is the opportunity for Amazon Prime. I’ve linked a 30 day free trial for Amazon Prime to get free shipping in 2 days on thousands of products on the site. I definitely encourage you to at least try Amazon Prime, if you haven’t already. There’s always an option to cancel after the initial 30 days, but the benefits are totally worth it!

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

Advertisements

East Coast Excursions.

In June 2015, right in the midst of my first quarter life crisis, Southwest Airlines was having a huge sale & I made a split second decision to book a flight to Baltimore. It was $98 round trip, how could I not?! Then I realized, I’d never been to Baltimore and I had no idea what I was going to do there or if anyone was going to go with me. So I started planning. The trip of a lifetime, all by myself. I was going to fly into Baltimore early one Tuesday morning in September, rent a car & drive up the coast. I was elated! I had never been to the East Coast before, so this trip was going to be so amazing for me. My mom decided she would meet me in Maine after 5 days and we’d spend the last 5 days together. I’m so excited to share with y’all my excursions from this trip I’ll never forget!

Tuesday, September 15th: I left Louisville early and arrived in Baltimore around 9:00 am. As soon as I landed, I felt like this was where I belonged. I drove to the National Aquarium and had an amazing morning, talking to some of the employees about potential jobs there and being able to work closely with some of the marine life. There was a beautiful sea turtle who was rescued from the ocean after losing one of it’s feet and they helped restore him back to his full potential. I know zoos and aquariums get a lot of bad press because the animals are held in captivity, but that was definitely a feel good story! Already, I was in heaven. I found an awesome seafood restaurant for lunch on the water and sat outside enjoying every second.

That night, I went to see the Baltimore Orioles play the Boston RedSox at Camden Yards. That park is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen! To see a game at every Major League stadium is on my bucket list so I was so excited to check this one off the list! The Red Sox won the game and then I was on my way to stay at the hotel in Greenbelt, Maryland. I was so excited I was actually on this trip that I could barely sleep that night.

Wednesday, September 16th: It was an early morning after a late game as I drove from Greenbelt, Maryland to Falmouth, Massachusetts, making it through 8 states that day. Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts. I stopped in Philly to see one of the LOVE Statues and grab some coffee. I drove down into New York City, through Chelsea, Manhattan, and the Bronx. I had been to NYC before but driving through was a much different experience than walking or taking a cab everywhere! I didn’t really love the part of Delaware I drove through, but it’s another state I can mark off my list! I made it to Newport, Rhode Island for sunset and I could not be more thankful that I did! The whole town was absolutely beautiful. So quaint and friendly. Peaceful and serene. My destination of Falmouth-Cape Cod was finally reached where I would spend the next two nights. I felt like I was at home, regardless of the fact I had absolutely no idea where I really was. Pure Bliss.

Thursday, September 17th: On day 3, I was scheduled to take a ferry ride to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. This was the event I was most looking forward to of the entire trip. Beautiful pictures of Nantucket had been flooding my timelines on Instagram and Pinterest for years and I could not wait to experience it for myself! I woke up extremely early again and drove from Falmouth to Hyannis to the port for Hy-Line Cruises. We went from Hyannis to Nantucket, where I spent most of the morning and afternoon wandering aimlessly through the brick streets and neighborhoods. I never ever wanted to leave. I had lunch at a cute little spot not too far from the port where I had the best lobster roll and the sweetest server. Everyone was so friendly and (seemingly) insanely happy. After being there, it makes me wonder why anyone would live anywhere else. I got coffee from Handlebar Café and walked to Brant Point Lighthouse, where I intended to lose track of time and miss the ferry to our next destination.

Sure enough, I made it back to the ferry and we were on our way to Martha’s Vineyard. Our port was at Oaks Bluff and I was surprisingly a little disappointed! Maybe there’s just no way it could have lived up to how I felt about Nantucket or maybe my hopes were just too high to begin with. I walked around on the beach for most of the evening and had dinner at one of the places along the river walk. I can’t remember the name but it wasn’t the best dinner of the trip. The beach was beautiful and the sunset that night was single handedly the most amazing sight I’ve ever seen. During the ferry ride back, I felt happier than I had felt in years. That night, I stayed in Falmouth again, and fell asleep feeling better about life than I ever had.

IMG_8927

Friday, September 18th: Boston day! One of the most beautifully historic cities I’ve ever been in and I was ready to experience it all. The morning was spent down by the Boston harbor, watching the boats go out and listening to the thick Boston accents from the locals. The best thing about traveling is being thrown in with the locals to see how they do life. I had lunch at Salty Dog at Quincy Market and it was delicious! I walked through the market and watched a magician in the square. I walked up the hill toward the university and sat in the quad to cool off from the heat before visiting Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. There was no game that day so I can’t check it off the list, but I was able to get a ball cap! I can’t wait to go back to see at game at the Green Monster!

Later, I was walking through the mall when my mom called to tell me my grandmother had been in a terrible car accident. She had no details and my mood was instantly turned. I felt completely lost, and for the first time on the trip, I actually felt lonely. I didn’t know what else to do except go back to the hotel, swim some laps and try to wait around for more news. I had dinner at a chain restaurant for the first time on the trip and went back to the hotel in Peabody, Massachusetts to go rest up for the next day.

*I received word that my grandma was in better shape than we originally thought but she still spent weeks in ICU at the hospital in Chicago. I changed the details of my trip and knew I needed to be with her.

Saturday, September 19th: Another early morning- I was going on a whale watching cruise! I headed to Gloucester, Massachusetts to take a boat out to watch these amazing creatures in their natural habitats. While waiting to board, I saw a local fisherman bringing in all of the lobsters he’d found on his trip. Being able to hold one was pretty cool! I had lunch at Gloucester House Restaurant, where the food was delicious! I ate so much fresh seafood on this trip it was insane.

We finally boarded for our day trip and it was about a 4 hour trip on a ship from 7 Seas Whale Watching Company. It was a blast! On the way out, it was so foggy we couldn’t see anything around us but out to sea even further it was beautiful and we ended up following three different whales for the rest of the afternoon. There were two grown whales that the captain and guide were familiar with and one calf that had never been seen on an excursion before. It was awesome to see how small the baby was compared to it’s mother, yet it was still gigantic! Going back to my love for marine life- we learned how to identify whales based on specific features they each have, so y’all already know I was just in heaven, yet again. We could not have had a more perfect day for a trip like this. I was so lucky throughout the my whole trip to have perfect temperatures and clear skies.

After we returned to the port, I drove from Massachusetts to South Portland, Maine. I drove through New Hampshire, so the only state in the east I haven’t visited is Vermont! I arrived in Portland after sunset, so I stopped at a Target to grab some nail polish and a few of my favorite things so I could pamper myself a little for the first time in several days! I had Otto’s pizza delivery to the hotel and thoroughly enjoyed some down time that night. It was exactly what I needed.

Sunday, September 20th: I woke up even earlier than I had any other day of the trip so I could see some lighthouses in Maine before I had to drive back down to Boston for my flight to Chicago. I visited Portland Head Lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth and I still cannot get over how beautiful that part of our country truly is. It was supposed to rain all day but it ended up clearing up early, making for some of the best pictures! I hiked the Cliff Trail for a few hours so I could take in every moment I possibly could that morning.

IMG_9393

After a few hours at the lighthouse, I stopped for lunch and headed back down to Boston to catch a plane to see my grandma.

I spent the next 5 days exploring Chicago instead of the east coast, but being with my family during that time was most important. I drove into downtown each day I was there and ended up going to a Cubs game spur of the moment! Of course, it was a blast! My grandma was happy to see me but sorry I cut my trip short for her. Almost two years later, she’s doing great and I still have the best memories of my first solo trip. I will definitely be taking another trip to the east coast.

IMG_9443

Where should I visit on my next trip there? Favorite things to do in Maine, on Nantucket, or anywhere else? Help me out! I’d also love to hear some stories about people who live in the area!

Also, how many of you guys have taken solo trips? Where did you go? I’m planning to take another solo vacay so any tips you have are definitely appreciated!

Summer in Chicago

I previously wrote about how much I love Chicago in the winter, so obviously I’m gonna have to talk about how awesome it is in the summer, too!

 

In this one, I’m going to go over the top 5 things to do in the summer in the downtown area in no particular order.

 

For starters, every time I’m there during the summer months, I’m so surprised at how hot it is! I can’t ever get over the heat considering it’s up north and right off the lake! The good news is there’s always a beach pretty close no matter where you are.

 

  1. Architecture Water Ferry down the Chicago River.

This is the best way to see to the city especially if you haven’t been before. It’s a little over an hour long boat ride down the Chicago river and into Lake Michigan to learn about the extensive history and beautiful buildings throughout the city. It’s been several years since I’ve taken this ride, but it was so nice to be out on the water and learning about my favorite city! You can check out Shoreline Excursions for more info on these cruises!

The Wrigley Building.
  1. Navy Pier.

There are truly hundreds of things to do out at Navy Pier. There are several sightseeing cruises or dining cruises that leave from the Pier that you’d be crazy not to take advantage of. One of them is the Shoreline Sightseeing Cruises, which is the company that the Architecture Tour I talked about before is through. They do a great job of getting tourists or even people from the area more acquainted with the city and their surroundings. They also offer Wine Tasting Tours and a variety of others that you definitely need to check out!

 

In addition to river cruises and tours, you can also find tons of places to have lunch or dinner at Navy Pier. They have a food court and a few other restaurants that offer table service. Giordano’s is one to check out for sure!

 

There is also a ferris wheel there, called the Centennial Wheel, that offers some of the greatest views of city you could possibly imagine.

 

They also have many events and exhibits that you should just check their online calendar for the most up to date to on-goings to see what interests you most.

 

  1. Chicago Cubs/Chicago White Sox game.

Y’all know I would absolutely choose the Cubs games over the White Sox games but I will admit the stadium on the South Side is still gorgeous. Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs, is one of the most iconic ball parks in the country and there is no atmosphere on this planet like the one you’ll find in that stadium. No matter if you’re a baseball fan or not, you are still guaranteed to have the time of your life there. I promise. The White Sox stadium has undergone many name changes over the last few years and is currently called Guaranteed Rate Field. I made several trips there when working at my last job and as much as I hated to admit, the field really is pretty. There is a great atmosphere in this park, as well, and I will say the Italian beef is so much better there than at Wrigley. If you can get a ticket to see the 2016 World Series Champions Chicago Cubs, you’ll never forget the experience you’ll have that day.

 

Which stadium do you prefer? Why?

 

  1. Millennium Park.

There is always something to do at the park! Catch a concert at their outdoor venue, sit on the lawn for a picnic, visit the Buckingham fountain, walk down the lakefront, have lunch at Park Grill, and you definitely have to see The Bean! It’s also called Cloud Gate and I’m certain you’ve seen pictures all over the place. Standing on the side closest to Michigan Avenue, you’re able to get an awesome picture of the skyline in this mirrored tourist attraction. The list is endless! It’s the perfect place to just lounge around during the afternoon or to get a quick jog in before you start your day. There’s also a new little park area that is pretty fun for kids and adults of all ages.

 

the bean
The Bean.
  1. Skydeck Chicago at the Willis Tower.

Summer is absolutely the best time to do this with more hours of daylight and less chances of foggy, overcast skies. You’re able to look across the city and out into the lake, as far as the eye can possibly see. Take pictures in the glass bottom Skydeck where the view is phenomenal and certainly one you’ll never forget. Think twice, though, if heights make your knees weak!

 

 

A few bonus places to visit: Eataly (of course!) for gelato and a little shopping, Cindy’s Rooftop Bar (I have yet to go, but from photos I’ve seen, the menu and view are amazing), Shaw’s Crab House for seafood, and the Billy Goat Tavern are some of my favorites!

 

Now plan a long weekend trip this summer and go! Tell me what I should add to the list.

 

What are your favorite places to eat, sleep, and visit in the Windy City?

 

Beauty Staples I Can’t Live Without.

I previously mentioned that even though I don’t wear a lot of makeup or use a ton of beauty products, I’m still absolutely obsessed with them. I especially love all of the anti-aging, skin brightening, under-eye targeting creams and lotions that I can possibly find. Dry shampoo has also become one of my biggest beauty staples over the last few months. My nursing school friends would be so proud! My basic beauty bag seriously consists of only a few items but I just swear by them!

Whether I’m getting ready at home & have all the time in the world, or I’m getting ready in just a few minutes between Pure Barre and work, my routine is pretty much the same. It’s simple & quick & does the job for me. Here are my favorites! *This post contains affiliate links.


Dry Shampoo: I used to wash my hair every single day and had no idea how damaging that really was for my locks. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I only wash my hair about every three days so my favorite Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo 3.5 oz is essential. Although I’ve only used the original, they now have a shampoo for brunettes, which is awesome! Having dark hair, I realize how tough it is to keep from having white spots from the shampoo throughout your hair. So if y’all have tried this, I wanna hear reviews! I’ve experimented with a lot of different kinds and this is by far the best. It works the best and smells amazing. I know it’s a little pricey so Not Your Mothers Shampoo Clean Freak Dry 7 Ounce is a great alternative. It works quite well and smells good, too!

Mascara: There are at least a million options for mascara out there and a lot of brands insist their product is the best but it costs a fortune. So many times the expensive ones aren’t even worth it! But if you’re looking for sky high, voluminous lashes without the sticky, cakey mascara feeling on your face, this stuff is for you. It is undoubtedly the best mascara I’ve ever used and makes me feel like I don’t need any other kind of makeup. I use Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Luscious Waterproof Mascara, Very Black. My eyes feel brighter and I just plain feel better with this stuff! Even other Maybelline products haven’t lived up the expectations I’d hoped. It’s extremely waterproof and comes off best with some coconut oil instead of eye makeup remover.

Which brings me to my next staple.
Coconut oil: This stuff is a miracle and is without a doubt, my favorite beauty product. For everything. Makeup remover, deep conditioning hair mask, I even use it like body butter sometimes. It’s all natural, of course, so it works for people who are trying to keep any chemicals out of their lifestyle. I even use it around my cuticles before I go to bed. As makeup remover, I just put a little on my finger and rub around my eyes until the mascara & eyeliner come off. It’s the only thing that takes it all off completely, and without much effort at all. When I use it in my hair, I put it from scalp to ends and make sure every hair is completely saturated. I massage it into my scalp, use a clip to tie up the hair, and then put on a shower cap to intensify the conditioning. Usually I try to leave it on for about 2 hours before washing it out with regular shampoo. I also sometimes put it on any dry skin, focusing on feet, elbows, knees or ankles. It works like a gem and you can find one of my favorites here Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 54 Ounce.

Nail Polish: When I was younger, I would bite my nails down until they hurt so bad I practically needed band aids on each finger. Gross, I know. It was a terrible habit and NOTHING was working to get me to stop. We put cayenne pepper mixed with clear polish on my nails, we tried no bite, we tried putting little fake nails from Target on them. Everything. Then out of nowhere, I looked down and my nails were long one day! I had stopped biting them without even realizing it. Crazy how that works. Anyway, now nail polish is one of my greatest obsessions. I have more bottles than they carry at the store and can identify each of the colors in a heartbeat. I always paint my own nails instead of getting them done somewhere, mostly because I change my mind about colors so frequently, but also because it’s a little bit of a stress relief for me. My favorite brand of polish in general is Essie, and my favorite color is Peach Daiquiri. You can find it here essie nail polish, peach daiquiri.. Since gel manicures are becoming so popular and they’ve created gel polishes you can use at home to do yourself, I’ve definitely taken advantage. My favorite brand with gel polish and top coat is Sally Hanson in Red Eye. Its the perfect red for all occasions. They have the combos so you can buy the top coat & color together or you can buy them separately. Usually I pick them up at Target! You don’t need the special light or anything fancy to finish the manicure off, the top coat works perfectly. I always use this when I go to the beach for week and it lasts the whole time!

Whitening Strips: Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrip Teeth Whitening Kit, Glamorous White, 14 Treatments. These are a game changer. So easy & they work better than any other whitening product I’ve used. I drink a lot of tea and coffee, so these babies are definitely an essential! I wear them on the way to work in the mornings or right before bed for 30 minutes about three days a week. They also make ones for people with sensitive teeth that work just as well!

And that’s it! These five items make life easier and help me feel my best. Couldn’t live without them!

What are your beauty staples?

 

*I know I’ve been referring you guys to Amazon a lot in my posts, I just think it’s awesome how much you can order and how quickly you can get it! You can literally get anything you could possibly need! Another thing that’s awesome is the opportunity for Amazon Prime. I’ve linked a 30 day free trial for Amazon Prime to get free shipping in 2 days on thousands of products on the site. I definitely encourage you to at least try Amazon Prime, if you haven’t already. There’s always an option to cancel after the initial 30 days, but the benefits are totally worth it!