Tips & Tricks, Take 4

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From the Everygirl: “10 Recipes That Will Make You Fall in Love With Brussels Sprouts,” by Cassandra Monroe. Last fall, I became obsessed with Brussels sprouts. I never got the whole craze before, I can’t turn back after having frequented several restaurants in Philly that served great ones (although Sweetgreen and the Whole Foods salad bar have pretty good Brussels, too!) These ideas will definitely come in handy as I look to jazz up my Trader Joe’s sprouts this fall.

Another from the Everygirl, because I just can’t get enough: “How to Tastefully Incorporate Animal Prints in Your Home,” by Caitlin Timson. Another obsession of mine (in addition to Brussels sprouts) is animal print. I used to fall into the category of people who find it tacky, but as this piece shows, it certainly can be classy! There’s a reason every girl and her mother owns leopard print pillows these days!

From York Avenue: “Before and After: A Small Space Makeover with Eileen Fisher Home,” by Jackie Clair. Need some help refreshing your bedroom? Check out how Jackie (one of my fave bloggers!) made over of her sister’s room, and I guarantee you’ll be pumped to re-do your own!

From HerPhilly: “The Budgeting Life,” by Emily Tharp. I came across this link this spring before I started blogging and wanted to share! I am always curious as to how other people budget and Emily provides some inspiration. Also, if you live in Philly (or just love the city), check out her blog!

Target has a beauty box? Sign me up!

From Day Designer: “Fifty Best Practices for Living a Well-Designed Life.” I’m already working on a few of these and love all of this advice–great inspiration! Especially loving 1, 13, 21, 32, 35, and 50 😉

 

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Tailgating Style

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Football season is upon us, folks! Since I went to a small college, I didn’t get to take part in the whole college football “scene” that dominates many campuses (although we certainly DID have a team, for those wondering!). However, football games were purely social events–I once had to do a “field study” of a place on campus for my American Studies class and chose to observe a football game. Most of my notes were about how people could not stop talking to one another and no one seemed to even be looking at the football field! Typical.

Anyway, my friend who went to a large university with a HUGE football program has been trying to get me to attend a game at her alma mater this fall, and like the dedicated fashionistas fans we are, we’ve already been scouting out cute accessories that incorporate her team’s colors. We absolutely love the clutch from Draper James (Reese Witherspoon’s line) pictured above, but $95 is just a littleeee steep. If you’ve come across anything similar, let me know–I can’t get over how cute Reese’s products are and wish I could scoop up all of them! She has amazing home decor, too (yeah, this is getting dangerous for me!). How cute is this bow-patterned tray?

Have you shopped at Draper James before? The brick and mortar store is located and Nashville and I’m sure it’s the cutest thing ever. Also, what are your fave football outfits? Help a girl out, I’m somewhat clueless over here!

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Grad School Lessons

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Heading back to grad school after a few years in the working world (aka the “real world”)? That’s what I did, and I highly enjoyed my nine-month (!) graduate program, which, as you likely can imagine, completely flew by. Since I had taken two years off before starting school, it took some readjustment to acclimate to life as a student. Here are a few lessons I learned (but keep lesson #1 in mind as you read this!). If you happen to be considering grad school and need any advice whatsoever, don’t hesitate to reach out!

Lesson #1. Everyone’s situation is unique. Your classmates won’t all be in the same boat when it comes to their reasons for choosing your particular institution, or how they’re financing their education, or even in terms of what exactly they’d like to do after your program is over. People like to talk about all of these subjects a lot, and it’s fine to participate in these conversations as much or as little as you feel comfortable. Just be respectful of other people’s decisions and situations even if you wouldn’t have necessarily made the same choices yourself!

Lesson #2. Your schedule will feel weird at first. After working in an office from roughly 9 to 6 every day, it was refreshing to have short breaks during the middle of the day (when I wasn’t in class or at my graduate assistantship). However, with bursts of time off during the week came busier weekends. Gone were the days of a night out followed by a leisurely brunch followed by shopping with a friend followed by a movie night (although I was certainly thankful to be able to do just that this past weekend!). Sure, you can maybe do one or two of those things, but weekends are also key for catching up on work and sleep, meeting with classmates to nail down group project (group projects were a constant in my program), etc. Your non-student friends may have a hard time adapting to your schedule at first, but planning ahead ensures you can still make time for your normal get-togethers.

Lesson #3. Your priorities may shift. In college, I was extremely dedicated to my extracurricular work on the student newspaper. Not only did it set me up for my future jobs before grad school, but it was a great way to meet people both on and off of our staff and feel involved on campus, and I enjoyed it so much! In graduate school, my coursework, assistantship, and another part-time job in my field kept me more than busy. The requirements for my program (namely, the assistantship) kept me fulfilled outside of the classroom, and making an effort to spend time outside the classroom with the people in my program filled any social void I may have experienced due to not participating in a traditional “activity.” While I did have some friends who were involved with our grad school’s student government or other groups on campus, extra commitments just weren’t a priority for the majority us during a nine-month program (and this is coming from a group of higher ed master’s students who were nothing but involved as undergrads!).

Lesson #4. You can still have fun. When I started school, I was worried that I would never have time for social activities or dates or visits back home or to New York City. Not true! I found it totally possible to have a life outside of the classroom–maybe not every day, but after all, this is grad school, there’s obviously work involved! By planning ahead, it was super easy to buzz up to NYC from Philadelphia and spend a quick weekend with my friends back there. Since some of my grad school friends were part-time students who also worked, we often met up for lunch and caught up mid-day while they were on campus for their jobs. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, people!

Have any pressing grad school q’s or other tips to share? Send ’em my way!

 

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Gallery Wall

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As you may know, I moved into my new place last weekend and am finally feeling a little more settled! I was so excited to start unpacking and decorating so I managed to set my place up pretty quickly (also, since I have been living in apartments for three years, I didn’t have to purchase too much new stuff, which made the process easier–although I may have added a few new pieces of decor, oops!). On Friday I decided to take the plunge and put up my gallery wall. I have actually never hung a gallery wall over my couch before but have always loved the look. Even if you aren’t looking at the pictures when you’re sitting on the couch, I think having a fun gallery there looks great when you walk into a room. I am a wall art fanatic so I had TONS of pieces to sort through, but I’m happy with the ones I chose for this space! Many of the pictures and frames came from HomeGoods/TJ Maxx or Etsy!

I am not the most patient person when it comes to decorating, so I actually didn’t do what you’re supposed to do when laying out a gallery wall, which to cut pieces of newspaper to match the size of your frames and put those on the wall first to make sure you know exactly where you want your items to go. However, I am pretty confident in my basic handyman skills and went ahead and hung my stuff anyway. I have the worst spatial perception when it comes to important things, like parallel parking, but I’m not too bad when it comes to hanging artwork 😉

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I’m loving how my gallery turned out (despite the poor quality of this photo), and the the best part is that if I ever get tired of these prints, I can just swap them out with new ones and still keep all the fun frames.

What are your gallery wall tips?

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Real Life as Explained by Pinterest Quotes

I always love reading those BuzzFeed articles with gifs that perfectly describe a situation, and the other day when I was browsing on Pinterest (my guilty pleasure), I came across a bunch of quotes that when pieced together hilariously describe adult life. Without further ado…

When you land the dream job you’ve been lusting after for months:

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When you realize that you’ll never kick your caffeine addiction now that you’re a working girl:

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When you get your first grown-up apartment but realize that you’re going to need to work, like, three years to afford that couch you have your eye on:

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When you realize that you have no idea how to grocery shop now that you’re no longer on a meal plan:

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When you determine your adulthood criteria for making friends:

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When your friend asks you for Friday night plan suggestions:

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How you justify your lifestyle to your parents:

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How all of your resolutions begin:

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When you realize that despite all of your complaining, your twenties go by quickly, so you should cherish them!

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All images are from Pinterest. Check out my quotes board here!

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Need a new book? Pick up one of these

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There are so many good books I’ve read over the years that I’d love to recommend to you all, so I thought I would do a roundup here (inspired by Mackenzie’s list from last week, definitely check it out for further recs!). Now that I’ve started blogging, I plan to continue my monthly book posts, but just consider the below a list of my favorites from the past, oh, two years?!

Nonfiction:

I love nonfiction books (I always say this is because I was a sociology major!). Here are a few of my somewhat recent faves…

Bringing Home the BirkinSuch a cool story about a man who makes a living purchasing the elusive Birkin bags–and other Hermes products–and re-selling them online. It had me hooked!

The Happiness Project: I had this on my bookshelf for the longest time before reading it and am glad I took the plunge! Gretchen Rubin always leaves me feeling inspired.

The Woman I Wanted to BeDVF’s personal story and background is incredibly moving and she has accomplished so much in her career–you don’t have to live and breathe fashion to appreciate this book.

Mad Women: A good book and a great conversation starter! A fascinating take on what it was like to be a woman at an ad agency during the 1960s.

Modern RomanceNot to be confused with Modern Lovers, ha! This one actually does include sociological research and is an interesting take on dating today.

I Was Told There’s Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number: Sloane Crosley is hilarious. I told a friend to read these and she didn’t love them as much as I did, but I loved the short anecdotes and reflections on random situations.

MWF Seeking BFF: Ok, I outlined this one in my first July book post, but seriously, go read it!

Fiction: 

There have been so many good fiction releases in recent years that it’s hard to keep up! Just a few must-reads below… 

One Plus One: This was actually the first Jojo Moyes book I read and I thought it was a sweet story and definitely funny!

Big Little Lies: I’ve gotten into mysteries more in recent years–let’s be real, who hasn’t?! Lianne Moriarity doesn’t disappoint!

The UnderwritingAddicting- a friend recommended this to me last fall and I read it in a day. That good. I can’t wait to pick up the next books, as this is going to be a series.

…and even more on my Goodreads! What books have you enjoyed lately?

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Journaling

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This is a different kind of post, so bear with me!

I love blogging, but as you can probably tell, my blog isn’t so much a diary of my everyday life as it is a place for me to share with you all the things I love. When I studied abroad in Scotland my junior year of college, I kept a Tumblr filled with pictures and more personal entries, but I password-protected it and only shared the link with close friends and family. In grad school, my classmates and I were encouraged to keep gratitude journals as part of one of our courses, and I visibly freaked out at the idea. Writing something down seemed so permanent, even if no one else would ever see it.

However, as someone who loves to write, I’m thinking that maybe I should give journaling another chance. Not as part of a class assignment and not to share with others, but just as a way to reflect on life here in DC in my mid-twenties. As a writer, I love creating things for others to read, but I am honestly just as satisfied keeping my ramblings to myself. Maybe I’ll give this a try…

Do any of you keep journals? How often do you write in them?

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Reading and Reviewing: August

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Another month of fun books! While I absolutely loved my grad school curriculum, it is so nice to be able to read for pleasure without feeling guilty! As much as I enjoyed our assigned texts, they weren’t quite like the books I cover below 😉 Still working on The Singles Game (moving has kept me from reading much this week!), but I will include it in my September roundup!

The Hopefuls, by Jennifer Close: I was hooked right away! I loved Girls in White Dresses and The Smart One, which I read in years past, so I couldn’t wait for Close’s next release to arrive. The story focuses on two couples, Beth and Matt (the main characters) and their good friends, Ash and Jimmy. Both husbands have large political aspirations which ends up causing conflict in more ways than one. The four are inseparable while living in DC, but as the couples follow each other across the country for Matt to assist Jimmy with his campaign, fights break out and Beth and Ash’s friendship is also tested.

The beginning of the book managed to weave together parts of DC and NYC life in a way that felt like the author had read my mind while writing! I laughed out loud at the descriptions of DC, such as women wearing socks and sneakers on the subway (#guilty), and I also loved reading about the various Safeways that everyone here jokes about (the Social Safeway is in my new neighborhood!). There’s a huge place in my heart for J.G. Melon and Dorrian’s, and reading about these NYC haunts made me get emotional! 😉 But I also started sobbing when I read the author’s description of living in NYC as a 20-something after 9/11, because I thought of a former magazine editor of mine (who is around the same age as main character Beth) and had told me about how her life and relationship changed greatly after that. I like how the book touched on complex relationship dynamics (both with regard to friends as well as romantic partners) and was very “real” while also being a fun read. I totally recommend it!

The Perfect Neighbors, by Sarah Pekkanen: I have loved Sarah Pekkanen for years–she wrote a brief but hilarious monthly column in my hometown magazine (where I interned twice in college!). When she started writing novels a few years ago I was thrilled, and I couldn’t wait to pick up Perfect Neighbors, which looks at the (somewhat secretive) lives of a group of women living in an idyllic neighborhood. One review I spotted on Amazon called out the book’s Desperate Housewives-esque nature, and as a fan of the show, I couldn’t agree more! Definitely recommend this as a beach read!

In Twenty Years, by Allison Winn Scotch: When I heard that this book was about six former Penn students, I had to read it, and for something that comes across as a beach read (at least from the cover!) it actually had a lot of depth. The book focuses on a group of 40-year-old friends who reunite over a decade after losing a member of their group, who somewhat suddenly passed away only a few years out of school. While some of the reviews I read on Amazon were negative, I didn’t think the storyline was boring in the slightest and tore through the book in only a couple of nights. It made me think a lot about my own time in college both on a deeper level but also literally–although I was at Penn as a grad student and not as an undergrad, I still could picture all of the places and characters Scotch mentioned, which made the book extra interesting! Definitely recommend whether you’re fresh out of college or an older adult–you’ll be able to relate!

Modern Lovers, by Emma Straub: I read The Vacationers (Straub’s first book) while on a plane last summer and basically did the same thing with Modern Lovers (I flew through 280 pages of the book during my wait in the gate and two-hour flight!). My friend who started the book around the same time had warned me that it’s a quick read, but in a good way (we also both put off ordering it until this month for some reason but then were eager to dive in!). I had been anticipating Straub’s second novel since I’d heard about it months ago, and Modern Lovers, which tells the story of a set of college friends, now living in Brooklyn with their teenage children, did not disappoint. It’s a book that I enjoyed but also would recommend to adults of any age–the whole premises behind the book is examining relationships among those both young and older.

Rich and Pretty, by Rumaan Alam: I honestly was sort of confused by this book before I sat down and looked at the reviews on Amazon before I placed my order. The name seemed kind of silly, for one (it reminds me of Pretty Little Liars or something for teens!) and also it was written by a man?! Confusing. While the book didn’t get the best reviews on Amazon compared to some of summer’s other big releases, I enjoyed it and found it interesting to read about two close friends who had known each other for over 15 years but were suddenly facing major adult milestones. I think the book was also more interesting to me because of its setting in NYC. Honestly, so many people are reading it that I don’t regret joining the party!

Love and Miss Communication, by Elyssa Friedland: I purchased this book in a used bookstore (love them) near my grad school campus this past spring, and I only finally got around to reading it BUT I’M SO GLAD I DID. This light read tells the story of Evie, a social media and internet-addicted lawyer who ends up losing her job due to her excessive time on online. Between getting fired and soon after discovering some disappointing findings about her ex on Facebook, she decides to quit the internet for good (well, at least for the bulk of the book). Meanwhile, Evie is also struggling to get into a new relationship, dealing with an illness in the family, and trying to make a positive impression on her new employer. There are certainly some unexpected (and kind of unnecessary) twists throughout, but overall this book had me laughing as well as cringing–and it’s definitely a good read for anyone who thinks they could never say adios to Instagram. Compared to other books I’ve read about similar “social media diets,” this one takes the cake. It kept me interested for all 360+ pages and had likable characters (for the most part!).

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Back to School Links

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I realize that many of you college students have already moved in (maybe even weeks ago!). My undergrad classes always began after Labor Day, which meant that I was always one of the last left at home. If you’re still prepping for back to school or have some downtime before classes and clubs kick into gear, check out these links!

Love that Domino.com posted a dorm-related link! If you need to scratch that DIY itch, you’ll appreciate these ideas.

Need a new school tote? This one looks adorable (herringbone = swoon) and functional (could easily double as a work bag down the road)!

This PBTeen banner would make the perfect addition to a dorm room (loving the leopard piece!)

Don’t forget to join your college’s Free & For Sale group on Facebook to score some great decor and clothing deals!

How cute are these state-themed pillows? Get one for where you go to school or to represent your home state. I guarantee you’ll get tons of compliments! This college survival kit is also adorable (do they make any for real life?!).

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Apartment Necessities

This post isn’t super glamorous, but not all apartment must-haves are that exciting. However, whether you’re moving in on your own for the first time or unpacking boxes in your third apartment (which is exactly what I’m doing this week!), I hope this post will serve as a helpful resource! What else would you add to this list? Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the adorable herringbone throw pictured below is from Target of all places!

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The graphic above is pretty self-explanatory, but honestly all three of these things (though not quite related to one another!) are certainly useful to have on hand. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve used Goo Gone to remove one of those darn TJ Maxx labels from an otherwise cute mug or picture frame (it really works, people!). Wine glasses may seem like a given, but I’ve noticed that often they get overlooked! Just go with inexpensive ones because many of mine have broken due to an overcrowded dish rack, etc. Lastly, having a throw blanket on hand is perfect for last minute guests or movie marathons on the couch. One of my friends has the coziest throw that I’m absolutely obsessed with and borrow every time I visit her in NYC!

What are your top three apartment essentials?

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