5 Ways to Feel More Creative

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Happy Friday! And Happy St. Patrick’s Day–are you wearing green? I am! I love dressing up for holidays, even as an adult (it’s a good thing I work at a school where people actually notice these kinds of things). TGIF. I’m looking forward to a fun weekend catching up with my sister, who’s home for her college spring break, and going out on Saturday night with friends. I’m heading to Soul Cycle tonight (woo!) but also need to do tons of laundry and cleaning and mail out a few Poshmark sales from this week (blah!). Any fun plans?

I don’t know about you, but I need to do something creative at least once a day, whether it’s at work or at home. Whether you prefer to do something on the computer or¬†journal away, I’m sure you can relate! Here are 5 ways to incorporate a burst of creativity into your day.

1) Pin away. Honestly, just going on Pinterest for a few minutes can help me feel so inspired (and a little bit overwhelmed!). I love filing away new pins, especially those that link to blog posts which I can read when I have a bit more time. Seeing examples of other people’s creativity definitely helps me feel more motivated.

2) Make a playlist. I love making workout playlists to share with my friends, but making a playlist for your eyes only is fine, too! I was bored on bus home from work and ended up making an awesome playlist with all of my favorite mellow songs from college.

3) Write down a big idea (or two). The other day, I took a five minute break at work and wrote down an idea I have for a novel (and promptly emailed it to my mom, haha). Who knows if/when I’ll get around to pursuing it further, but it was nice to develop my ideas into a few sentences!

4) Get in the kitchen. I’m not a fan of cooking, but I could definitely get behind learning a new cocktail recipe or two. Creativity + productivity (getting dinner on the table) = a win win.

5) Journal. I’ve never been great at keeping a journal, but sometimes I’ll feel really inspired and write down pages and pages of reflection (usually on the computer!). Writing can be so therapeutic, and it’s up to you whether you’d like to share your creation with anyone…no stressing about turning in a perfect “A” paper here!

What tips would you add?

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Thursday Things

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What have you been up to this week? Working at a school, I’d been waiting all year for a snow day, and we finally got one on Tuesday (although the students are all on spring break anyway!). I really tried to take the spontaneous day off to heart and made a little breakfast in bed tray for myself, haha. I had already requested Wednesday off and kept that day to get some much needed errands done. It was wonderful having a mini weekend in the middle of the week, but back to work I go! We have slightly shortened hours while the students are away, so it’s nice to ease back into things.

A few of my favorite finds from the past few days:

-Need/want something from J.Crew Factory? Use this free coupon from Gilt for 35 percent off your purchase. Basically, Gilt is just giving this away! Use it to save a few extra $ on already marked down clearance, or treat yourself to some new arrivals for spring!

-I just ordered this book and cannot wait to read it. I hate paying in the double digits for a book (just because I constantly find such good deals when I’m at my favorite used bookstores), but I’ve been itching to read it for several weeks (partly because I’ve read in the reviews that Cat and I are from the same hometown). It’s gotten a lot of interesting press and I’m hoping to save it for my trip to Florida later this month!

-I just tried Prime Pantry for the first time ever and am waiting for my items to arrive. Some of the items I ordered were definitely cheaper than they would’ve been in-store, and it’s nice not to have to carry bags and bags of food/cans home. Does anyone swear by Prime Pantry? I know a LOT of people who grocery shop online, and while it’s never something I’ve felt compelled to do, I figure I’d take advantage of my Prime membership and try it out!

-Ok, totally unnecessary, but how CUTE are these bow socks from ASOS? I’ve actually only ordered items from there once or twice, but they have adorable products and I should really shop there more…ya know, if I absolutely need something. ūüėČ

Happy Thursday, all!

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Gingham Girls

I remember being maybe 7 or 8 years old and dancing around in a gingham outfit at my friend’s house as we yelled, “We’re the gingham girls!” The good old days! Even 15+ years later, I still can’t resist a good piece of gingham, and it’s truly a pattern that has stayed in style over the past several decades. I love a good gingham piece in pillow form or in my closet (loved Kelly’s husband’s post on the pattern, haha). It really is irresistible! A few of my favorite gingham finds, below…

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Vest//Blouse//Crossbody//Bikini Top//Clutch//Ruffle Top

 

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On My Playlist…

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If it was 2006, I’d call this post “On my iPod,” but let’s be real, who listens to an iPod anymore? I listen to all of my music either on my iPhone or on Pandora at work (#TeamPandora for life…never going to switch to Spotify because I’m stuck in my habits and like all my stations!).

I love sharing music recommendations with friends (actually, that’s kind of a lie…I used to hate it because I feel like music can be so personal! When someone would look through my¬†iPod in college, I’d literally flinch and hope they only saw the “good” stuff…aka whatever was in at the moment. When people would take turns plugging their phones in to DJ newspaper production nights, I always hoped and prayed that no one would ever ask me!). Anyway…weirdness aside. I’ve now gotten over the fear of people “judging” me based on my music choices and do enjoy sharing playlists — especially workout playlists — with friends. I’ve shared some of my latest (and longtime) faves below (leaving out the ones that I only like for weird personal reasons and most people probably won’t like, haha #dontjudge), so write ’em down and download away! I’ve linked to YouTube videos here if you want to try before you…buy (does anyone actually buy music these days?).

Something Just Like This – The Chainsmokers & Coldplay (Who isn’t listening to the Chainsmokers right now?!)

Bright Lights – Matchbox 20 (ALL the feels)

Growing Up РMacklemore & Ryan Lewis (So. good. I think I texted my group chat about how much I liked this song when I first heard it. #notsorry).

The Greatest – Sia (Wooooo)

Somewhere On A Beach – Dierks Bentley (Because…country)

Next to Me – Kendrick Lamar Remix (I’ve officially been obsessed with this one ever since I heard it two years ago in a Forever 21…yep.

Countdown – Beyonce (Another one that never gets old and always puts me in a good mood. So many memories of listening to this during a chaotic junior fall!)

Chained to the Rhythm – Katy Perry (She’s at it again…and it’s kinda deep. Yes, I did see the Katy Perry documentary during one of my magazine jobs, so¬†Katy and I are¬†basically BFFs.).

Send me your music recs, please! Are you a Pandora or Spotify gal?

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Why I Love Living Close to Home

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Even through high school, I was a majorly homesick person. The summer before ninth grade, my best friend and I went to a four night soccer sleepaway camp in Northern Maryland. We both hated the camp, were insanely homesick, and became good friends with our dorm neighbors, mainly so that we could call our moms using their cell phones (it was 2005 and we didn’t have our own yet!). When I went on a church trip to Boston the following year, I also sobbed the first few nights and couldn’t wait to go back home. I think my parents kind of assumed that I would stay near home for college, which would have been fine, but even as a ninth grader, I had already set my sights on schools in California and New England. I just didn’t know if I could actually follow through with those goals because of my homesickness. Staying nearby didn’t seem like a bad option.

I eventually decided that whether I attended college two hours away or 12 hours away, I would adjust eventually, and so I should look at schools all over the country anyway. I ruled out the Midwest and the West Coast, because I wanted to enroll somewhere that was in a different part of the country but was still only an hour or so away via plane. That left basically the entire East Coast, and when I went on my first college visit to a school in North Carolina, I fell in love. I decided that rather than applying to this school super early (they had an option for students to apply in August before their senior year), I should look at a few other options as well. After visiting many colleges in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New England, I fell in love with Colby, applied early, and got in.

And you know what? From the moment I arrived to college, I wasn’t homesick at all. I was so busy doing activities with my dorm, meeting new friends, and going on my orientation trip that I honestly wasn’t thinking about being sad or missing my family. That positive experience paved the way for a semester abroad in Scotland, two years of working in New York City, and a year in Philadelphia. I was always close ish to home, but never really close enough to go back at the spur of the moment. In fact, the first time I brought laundry back home was earlier this year!

When my graduate program was nearing its end, I started looking at jobs mainly in Philly and DC. I eventually decided that DC was where I would be happiest, and I was right! It’s been so nice not only to be near my family but also to be back in a familiar town and to reconnect with old friends. Plus, since I haven’t lived in the area since I was 18, I can explore DC with a whole new set of eyes. Right now I definitely feel like I know Manhattan way better than I know DC, but I’m¬†learning!

Since moving back, I’ve had the opportunity to do things that are seemingly common to other people but are out of the ordinary to me, as someone who hasn’t lived near home in seven years. When I was at church earlier this year, I walked by the youth choir practice room and heard kids singing one of the same songs I had learned probably 15 years earlier. When I was sick, my family stopped by my apartment with bagels from my favorite hometown store. It’s the little things. The funny thing is, I actually haven’t been to my actual house since before Christmas, but my mom and I meet up for dinner roughly once a week or spend time in my apartment.

Now that I’m back, I feel like I’ve had the best of both worlds. I got to explore new states and cities but now can enjoy the comforts of home and appreciate familiarity. Sometimes I wonder what things would have been like if I had moved straight to DC after college–eliminating those years in New York and possibly in Philadelphia as well–but I look back on all of the good times I had in those places, too, and wouldn’t change my path at all.

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Why I Love Having a Small Wardrobe

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When it comes to home decor, I can’t get enough. I love to get my hands on the latest trends and invest in classic pieces. But when it comes to clothing, I’m much more simplistic. Even back before KonMari-ing everything was all the rage, I always appreciated a good closet clean-out and preferred to¬†have a small number of items to wear. Seeing people’s closets that are bursting at the seams (which for most girls would be a dream-like scenario) actually makes me stressed! Here’s why I like to keep things simple:

1) I like to feel like I actually wear everything I own. When you have tons and tons of clothes, how often do you actually get to wear and appreciate each item? I’d rather have a few tried and true favorites than 20 “favorites” that I only wear once a year or so.

2) I like to see everything I own. Out of sight, out of mind is often the case when it comes to clothes. There’s no point in storing extra tops in under-bed bins if you’re going to forget to open them! I like to¬†have everything hung up in my closet or folded in my dresser drawers. Anything that doesn’t fit in those two places is just extra.

3) It makes getting ready easier. I’m already a fairly indecisive person, so why make getting dressed in the morning any more chaotic? When I can see everything in front of me and have a few solid options (rather than dozens!) it’s easier (in my opinion) to piece together an outfit and head out the door! There’s no need to spend hours changing before going out at night if you have fewer options from the start!

That said, there are a few clothing items I’d like to invest in at some point in the near future…

-Nicer workwear. While my office is pretty casual, especially in the summer, I’d like to dress things up a bit. I’m keeping an eye out for new blouses, cardigans, and perfect pairs of pants (always so hard to find!).

-A few more dresses. I used to own a ton of dresses and wore them all the time, but the patterns were pretty loud and trendy and they got old quickly. I’d like to pick up some more subtle pieces that can be dressed up or down and worn to various occasions.

Do you prefer a full closet or an emptier one? I’m sure I’m in the minority, but there’s a reason why simplicity is so popular lately, so who knows! Have you done a KonMari-inspired cleaning spree?

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How to Meet People in a New City

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I’ve now lived in three cities postgrad, and while moving from place to place can be exciting, it’s always hard to leave behind a good group of friends or coworkers. In New York, most of my friends were either from work or from college. In Philly, being in graduate school made it super easy to meet people–it was like being a freshman in college all over again! In DC, I’ve been fortunate enough to reconnect with high school friends, get to know new coworkers, and meet people from college who¬†have been in the area since graduation. When I say meet people from college, it can seem a little silly, since my college was home to only 1,800 students and everyone pretty much knew one another to some degree. However, I’ve found that being in the “real world” makes it much easier to overlap with people who I didn’t have much in common with in college. For example, my school often felt like it was divided between athletes and non-athletes, and most of my close friends were fellow non-athletes. But after graduation, these distinctions start to not matter one single bit, and it’s much easier to connect with new people.

However, I also have friends who have done online meetups, joined running groups, signed up for intramural sports leagues, and more. It’s cliche, but the best way to meet new people is by putting yourself out there! Here are a few ideas…

1) Go to alumni events. Whether they’re for your high school, college, or grad school, there will certainly be some alumni events in your city from time to time. Go with a friend or two or go alone…but just go! It’s funny how¬†in high school or college, people who were a few years older or younger¬†often¬†seemed at such a different stage of life…but now that everyone’s an adult, age really doesn’t matter! Just because someone is two or three years older or younger doesn’t mean they won’t make a great friend. Having friends who are different ages is a great way to branch out, and honestly, it can give you some great perspective! Also, don’t discount classmates who you didn’t click with in college. Times have changed, people! Don’t write someone off based on a first impression from seven years ago.

2) Get to know your neighbors. Whether you live in a high rise apartment building or on a cute neighborhood street, you’ll run into your neighbors from time to time, and odds are that at least a few of them would make great potential friends! Team up with your roommate and invite the two girls from across the hall over for TGIT and takeout. Even if you don’t end up hanging out every weekend, it’ll be nice to see a familiar face in the elevator or laundry room.

3) Work your network. Friends of friends are everywhere, and while you may not always hit it off, it’s worth a shot! Text your college friends and ask them if they know anyone in your current city. You may be surprised!

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Reading and Reviewing: February

 

February-20After Perfect, by Christina McDowell: I was infatuated with this book and could not shut up about it while I was reading (it took me maybe 2 nights?!). I’m pretty sure I’ve googled the author’s family dozens of times since–I was just so intrigued¬†with her story!¬†This nonfiction memoir¬†chronicles a young woman’s privileged childhood which is suddenly ripped to shreds when her father is prosecuted due to illegal financial activity. The family becomes bankrupt, the author is forced to drop out of college, and her entire family structure¬†unravels. She also grew up right near where I did (and in the same town where I work), which made the story extra interesting.

Small Admissions, by Amy Poeppel: I had such high hopes for this book and did not like it AT all. Since I also work at a private school, I thought I’d absolutely love the storyline, which is about a young woman working in admissions. However, the main character was a mess, parts of the book were oddly hard to follow, and it was somewhat funny but definitely not my favorite. I was surprised I didn’t like it since it has such good reviews on Amazon, but oh well….

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My Not So Perfect Life, by Sophie Kinsella: I LOVE Sophie Kinsella, but this book wasn’t my favorite (I’m a big fan of her Shopaholic series and loved Twenties Girl!). However, I’m always going to read Kinsella’s new releases, and this one had a cute, rom com-like storyline filled with twists and turns. It also makes me want to stay at a bed and breakfast in England like the one where the main character works.

Scrappy Little Nobody, by Anna Kendrick: I absolutely loved Anna Kendrick from the moment I saw her in “Pitch Perfect” (although my mom had been a fan of hers even before!), and I really enjoyed her autobiography. I didn’t realize that Anna was from Maine, where I went to school, and her self-depricating tone and hilarious stories made for an overall enjoyable, quick read.

The Magnolia Story, by Chip and Joanna Gaines: This one was another quick read but I loved how both Chip and Joanna’s voices were tied together as they took turns narrating and commenting on each other’s remarks. I learned a ton about this famous couple and had no idea that they both got into design in their twenties…I had assumed that they were building and decorating since they were little kids, haha. If you’re a “Fixer Upper”¬†fan, you have to grab a copy of this book!

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Work It

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It’s funny how some days I really couldn’t care less about what I wear to work out, whereas other days I want my outfit to be as cute and on-trend as possible (this is usually if I’m going to a class–because if I’m paying for a special gym experience, I may as well wear something other than a ratty t-shirt!). Workout gear is always fun to shop for because it’s generally practical and comfortable but also can involve fun patterns and colors. While I usually only wear solid colored pants to work, printed leggings are totally fair game when it’s time to exercise. I definitely don’t need to expand upon my workout clothing collection at the moment, but if any of you do, here are some of the items at the top of my wish list.

1) Black capris. I have another pair of pants by the same brand and I LOVE them. They’ve lasted me for years, are super flattering, and don’t show signs of pilling like Lululemon pants can.

2) Running shoes. These are so cute! I currently have a pair of bright Nikes¬†that I received at a press event in 2013, and they’ve¬†held up extremely well. I love adding a pop of color through my running shoes.

3) Workout top. You can’t go wrong with a classic black tank. Pick ’em up anywhere, really!

4) Headband. I love Lululemon headbands and have several. Not only are they stylish but they also really help hold my hair back!

5)¬†Foam roller. I am obsessed with my foam roller. It’s seriously like getting a mini massage every time I use it. If you don’t have one, scoop one up to use after your workouts or even just before bed. You’ll thank me later!

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Carving out “Me Time”

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When I was a second semester senior in college, I had an awkward amount of time between classes¬†on Tuesdays and Thursdays. One¬†ended at 12:15 and the next one started at 2:30. It was too much time to use just for lunch, but it wasn’t quite enough time to eat and relax¬†with friends and then get settled in the library. But honestly, that chunk of time became one of the best parts of my week. I’d let myself in to the upper part of our school newspaper office and get situated on the desktop Mac, and then I’d grab my favorite sandwich from the dining hall. I’d¬†spend time working, call my mom or my best friend from high school, or even squeeze in a blog post and shoot (I had a little blog at the time where I’d profile fashionable people on campus and ask them a few interview questions). On Tuesdays, this chunk of time was the perfect escape before a hectic newspaper production night, and on Thursdays, it was a great time to knock out some work before weekend social activities began.

Of course, in the working world, schedules can be much less predictable. My coworkers and I try to eat together whenever possible, but most days we’ll end up bringing food back to our desks after walking to and from the cafeteria together. However, there are definitely pockets of the day that can be converted into me time, such as…

1) Your commute. Turn on your favorite podcast or radio station, and zone out (a bit) as you catch up on news or just relax. Listening to NPR in the mornings not only wakes me up (!) but also helps me start the day feeling aware and informed.

2) Before bed. Put on a face mask, read 30 pages of a new book, or flip through a magazine. It can be so hard to “turn off” your brain and just calm down, but we all know that this is the key to a good sleep and productivity down the road. Last week, I got really in to a book I was reading and looked forward to reading a few (or 50) pages before bed each night. It also felt much more productive than scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.

3) At breakfast. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and catch up on your favorite blogs or websites. Before I get out of bed each morning, I always scroll through my email on my phone, but after that I like to incorporate five minutes or so of something fun before I head to work. Checking Bloglovin or Pinterest as I eat breakfast always helps me start the day feeling inspired.

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