Back to School Month Recap

31 August 2015

Can you believe it's the end of August already?! Although the weather will continue to be summer-like for a few more weeks, the beginning of school marks the end of the summer-state-of-mind. It's a bittersweet transition as we say goodbye to shorts and sunglasses and warm evenings and say hello to sweaters and boots and pumpkin-spiced-everything.

Even though I'm not heading back to school myself, I had a lot of fun sharing the bright things I love about the season: from school supplies, to a homework playlist, to back-to-school fashion, to tips & advice. Thank you to everyone who read, commented, and shared - I hope you enjoyed reading each post as much as I enjoyed writing them!






Fashion Friday: Back to School Look #4 - Fashion Math!

28 August 2015

Fashion Math

When you've got a lunch to make, a test to study for, a reading to finish, and a club meeting to plan, the last thing you want to worry about in the morning is your outfit. Unless you wear a uniform, your closet can hold an overwhelming number of options. Having your own "uniform" is a great way to know you have options - but options that work together.

In this set, I've shared one of my favorite "outfit formulas". I generally plan this outfit around the scarf and sweater - if you have a lot of neutral tees and blue denim jeans, you can easily pair anything with a coordinating scarf & sweater. Then, all you have to do is add simple earrings and a pair of brown, black, or grey booties. It doesn't get much easier!

So there you go - Fashion Math 101. A simple outfit equation for a fabulous fall look.

What's your go-to "fashion formula" for back to school? Or do you mix it up everyday?


How I Decorate My Moleskine Planner

26 August 2015

Using a planner is a great way to stay organized, but I think it can also be a wonderful way to express your creative side. When you create a beautiful place to keep track of appointments, projects, lists, and to-dos, you're more likely to stay on top of them. While I love the Erin Condren Life Planners and the Agendas, my planner of choice at the moment is an extra large Moleskine with weekly pages. The left page holds Monday through Sunday, while the right page is lined for notes and lists. I loved this format for school because I had plenty of room to write assignments and due dates, and also room to brainstorm, take notes, or write myself reminders. 

When I decorate my planner, I usually start by picking out a few washi tapes I want to use and then finding some coordinating pens. I also use a lot of rubber stamps in my planner - from alphabet stamps, to birthday stamps, to random stamps like a baseball player to mark my brother's baseball games. Above, I've gathered three washi tapes - the green grid tape is from the Target Dollar Spot, the polka dot tape is made by Scotch (can be found at many home & office supply stores), and the pink zig-zag tape I purchased in a set from HomeGoods. As you can see, you can find supplies to decorate your planner with at many different places! 

This is what my planner generally looks like on Sundays when I'm planning for the week ahead. I'll decorate the top section where there's a small month label that I usually try to cover up! I used these Lawn Fawn alphabet stamps for "August" and "Mom > Work", and I used Target Dollar Spot alphabet stamps for the "Bro & Me" and "First Day of School" labels. I also used these date stamps for the location-pin and arrow. (I also use these "my week" stamps a lot!)

I like to put a "workout log" on the right page to write track my exercise throughout the week. I find that if I write out each day and leave a space, I'm more likely to actually work out! I don't want to look back and see an empty workout log... plus, it feels good to write out what exercises I did. Like a little pat on the back!

As the week goes on, I write in more appointments, to-dos, and events, but my life is pretty day-to-day right now. I like to capture the big-picture for the week and fill in the details later. 

I hope this post gives you a little inspiration for decorating your planner! It's one of my favorite Sunday routines - sitting down with a cup of coffee and craft supplies to plan while listening to music. 

What are your favorite ways to decorate & use your planner? Which kind of planner do you use? 


Back to School Tips & Advice

24 August 2015

Going back to school is a bittersweet transition. You have to say goodbye to lazy days and free time, but you also get to see all your friends and have a fresh start with new classes and teachers. Having been through my fair share of first days back at school, I thought I'd share some tips for making the transition as smooth as possible.

the week before classes start
  • Make sure you've done your back to school shopping for clothes and supplies if you need to. Once classes start, you won't want to frantically search for all the supplies you need
  • Get your books. If your school posts a booklist online, check out the required textbooks and materials you will need for each class. I always like to be over-prepared (rather than under-prepared) and order my books ahead of time so that I'm not scrambling for a rare copy the night before a due date.
  • Purchase a planner if you don't have one, and start using it. Write out what date classes start and what other commitments you have during the week. That way, once classes start, you already have an idea of how much you have going on. 
  • Set goals for the academic year. Think about the things you'd like to improve upon and then list the ways that you can accomplish them. Be mindful about your goals before classes start and you have a million other things to think about. 

the day before
  • Write the details for each class in your planner: Class title, Teacher/Professor, Room # & Time. It's always good to have that information with you (even after the first week when you blank on a room number or professor's name... it happens!)
  • Pick out your outfit if you haven't already! This is the fun part. Even if you're not wearing anything new, planning out your outfit will make your morning less stressful and give you one less thing to think about. Choose an outfit that is comfortable - you never know when a class will change location at the last minute and you'll have to trek across campus in five minutes. Check out my fashion friday posts here, here, and here for some inspiration. 
  • Pack your bag/purse/backpack. Make sure you have everything you need. For the first day, you probably only need your planner, a notebook, a folder, and some pens/pencils. After the first day, you'll have a better idea of what you'll need for each class.

the first day of class
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get ready. It's no fun to rush out the door.
  • Eat a good breakfast & pack a snack. The first day can be unpredictable - you might spend your lunch hour in the financial aid office or trying to meet with your counselor to switch a class. 
  • Give yourself extra time to get there. Being late on the first day is not the best start to a new year. Make sure you take an early bus or leave your house a few minutes before you have to. 
  • Strike up a conversation with your classmates! This can be tricky - especially when you know absolutely no one. But I promise, you will look forward to class much more if you have someone to talk to, someone to ask for notes, or someone to complain about dumb assignments with. Even if you just ask, "Is this Intro to American Lit?" you're likely to get a response - everyone's in the same boat. Your common ground at this point is that you're both in this class, so ask if they have had the professor before, or if they've gotten their textbooks yet. These simple questions will probably open the door to more conversation. 
  • Take notes. Your professor puts their email up on the board - write it down. If your professor is going through the syllabus, write down the details that they elaborate on. It might not seem important now, but it might be the answer to a question you have later. 
  • Ask questions. If you're not sure the class is right for you, ask around. College is a time to figure out the subjects and environments you like and don't like. If a class feels really off - whether it's the professor, or the classroom environment - try to switch out. There's no reason for you to be uncomfortable for the entire term. 

the week classes start
  • Write down all assignment due dates, pages to read, major project due dates, and final exam dates & times in your planner. Your planner will only be as helpful as you make it. Be consistent about marking due dates and assignments as you get them, and it'll be easier to keep track of your to-dos and progress.
  • Start developing good study habits. When you read, don't just skim through the text. Take the time to read carefully and take notes and you will thank yourself later down the road. 
  • Put your best foot forward and get involved. Join clubs, teams, and activities that interest you. Remember that now is the time to be social - a new school year is a fresh start.  

I hope this post is helpful for those of you heading back to school in the next couple of weeks. If you have any additional tips or advice, leave it in the comments below.

Have a great first day!


Fashion Friday: Back to School Look #3 (Gossip Girl Inspired!)

20 August 2015

Gossip Girl Inspired Back to School Look

Although Gossip Girl ended a few years ago, the fashion still seems relevant. Perhaps it's the timelessness of the preppy look, or the way the show captured the quintessential Upper-East-Side style. Whatever the case, I love how Gossip Girl mixed high fashion with uniform basics, especially the costuming of Queen B - Blair Waldorf.

For a Gossip Girl inspired back to school look, you've got to start with your uniform: A white button-down shirt and a navy sweater vest. Then, add a bit of high fashion through high-waisted faux-suede shorts (with a preppy bow). When it comes to shoes, flats are the perfect mix of fashion and function. To accessorize, choose vintage-inspired pieces like this velvet hair bow and these Downton-Abbey inspired bobby pins. Although Blair would prefer a designer handbag over a backpack, this ruby-red backpack has just the right amount of style and space to hold books.

Don't forget the last ingredient: your Queen B attitude! What are your favorite tv shows & movies for fashion inspiration? Whose style will you be drawing from for this back to school season?

Gossip Girl
(just kidding!)

How To Make A Homework Playlist

18 August 2015

 Setting yourself up for an evening of homework can be a daunting task. Let's be real - some nights, you just want to watch netflix and forget about school (okay, most nights). One of the things that I find motivating is to have an awesome homework playlist. You want music that is fun and will encourage you to get everything done, but you don't want it to be too distracting. Here are some things to consider while making a homework playlist:
  • Listen to new music - Either on the radio, youtube, a music borrowing site through your local library, or by downloading from a website like NoiseTrade. When I listen to new music, I'm less likely to start singing along and dancing in my seat (yes, it really happens). 
  • Listen to your favorite tunes - Listening to your old faves is a great way to make homework a little more fun. When you know the songs you're listening to, they sometimes fade into the background and provide a calming environment.
  • Listen to scores or soundtracks - With scores, there are no lyrics to distract you. But with soundtracks, there's often a variety of genres and tones that keep it interesting. I personally love listening to soundtracks while I'm working - it feels like you're watching your favorite movies while you're getting stuff done... win-win.
  • Listen to mellow songs - Try to find songs that aren't loud and seem to be screaming at you. Mellower songs are almost like background music, setting the mood for an evening of reading and note-taking. Most of your favorite artists will have a few songs that are slower and quieter - try making a playlist of those songs, perhaps with a few upbeat songs to break it up (and maybe give yourself a dance-break).
As you can tell, what music will work is a matter of personal preference. Try out a couple different playlists and figure out what works for you!

Below are some of my favorite albums, artists, and radio stations for listening to during homework sessions:
  1. Monte Carlo Score (yes, the one with Selena Gomez!) 
  2. Noah and the Whale - The First Days of Spring
  3. Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  4. Jamie Cullum - Anything, really.
  5. The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 1 Soundtrack
  6. iTunes Radio - Choose a mellower station, like Classical or Jazz (or my personal favorite, Crooners and Cocktails), or a station in a foreign language like French Pop. It's a great option for when you just want something playing and you don't want tot think too much about it.
  7. Leighton Meester - Heartstrings
  8. Graffiti6 - Colours
  9. Ed Sheerhan - Anything
  10. Andrew Belle -Anything

Backpack Essentials

16 August 2015

Whether you're heading off to a full day of classes or just one, having a fully stocked backpack is important so that you're prepared and ready to make the most of it. Unless you're in college and live on campus, chances are you have to carry with you everything you need to get through the day. Here's a list of everything to bring with you (in addition to your notebooks & textbooks of course):

  • A small wallet with your ID, cash, bus tickets, a house key, etc. 
  • Tissues
  • Extra pens & pencils
  • Hair bands & bobby pins
  • A small stapler (you'd be surprised how often you'll need one of these!)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Chapstick
  • Notecards & sticky notes
  • Gum
  • Advil
  • Water bottle
  • Crystal Light To-Go Packets (I love the Grape flavor that has a bit of caffeine)
  • Granola bar

What are your backpack essentials?


Fashion Friday: Back to School Look #2

14 August 2015

Back To School Look: Cozy Friday

After the excitement of a new school year fades and the weather starts to turn blustery, it's good to have some cozy basics to throw on. A rain jacket, sweatshirt, and slouchy tee may not seem like the most fashionable choices while you're shopping, but when test days roll around you'll be glad to have them in your closet.

For this comfy look, throw on your favorite pair of skinny jeans with a simple tee shirt and a cozy sweatshirt. Choose a pair of shoes that are comfortable like low-heeled boots or a pair of tennis shoes. (And don't forget fun socks!) Finally, put on a rain jacket for an extra layer of warmth and for wind/rain protection.

For an extra cozy day, bring a warm drink in a travel mug! I also included hair ties in this look because it's always a good idea to keep a few extra in your backpack for when you want to get your hair out of your face during a test or a long class.

To be honest, I probably wore an outfit like this everyday during the fall and winter of my academic life! There's nothing cozier than a warm sweatshirt or sweater and your comfiest boots.

What do you like to wear to stay comfy and cozy at school?


Homework Station Essentials

12 August 2015

Homework Station Essentials
I believe that having your own space to do your homework is one of the best ways to motivate yourself and succeed. Without a dedicated space to getting work done, it's a lot harder to get started and settled in for a night of homework. 

First off, you have to have a desk or a table to yourself. Working in a shared space can be more fun, but it's also good to have a place where you can leave your books open and you won't be in anyone's way. It's also important to have a bright lamp for late night study sessions. I like to have fun posters and a calendar up so I'm not just staring at a blank wall. 
 On my desk, I like to keep
  • A candle (this one is Sweater Weather by Bath and Body Works - one of my favorite fall scents)
  • Some colored pens for brightening up notes
  • Extra paper
  • Sticky notes & tabs for marking important passages
  • A drink & mints
  • A book weight (this one is a life changer. Mine is from a local bookstore, but you can find them on Amazon or make your own)
  • Extra pens and pencils

What are your homework station essentials? 


Back to School Makeup Kit

09 August 2015

Getting out the door on school mornings is not an easy task. Sometimes it feels like a day's work before you've even left the house! When it comes to makeup, I think a school look should be fresh and simple. All of these products are easy to wear and affordable to buy, as well as quick to apply for mornings when you're rushing to catch the bus.

For a base, I think the Olay Fresh Effects BB Cream is a great option. I mentioned this product in my Summer Skincare post because of its SPF and lightweight qualities, but I think it's also a good choice for school because it is moisturizing without being too shiny. It provides a light layer of coverage with no chance of cake-face. For extra coverage, I love the Maybelline Dream Lumi Concealer. It illuminates the under-eye area and hides the bit of redness you might have around your nose. To set your base, you can't go wrong with the Rimmel Stay Matte Powder

Next up: Brows & Eyes. I recently purchased the E.L.F. Studio Brow Kit in Medium and I am very impressed. I wanted to try an inexpensive brow gel to see how I liked the look, and I have been wearing it ever since. I usually just apply the gel, but it's nice to have the powder for days when I'm feeling extra bold. For eyes, I like the NYX Love in Paris Palettes in Madeleines and Macaroons and Let Them Eat Cake. Both of these palettes feature neutral shades that can easily be blended across the lid, or you can use the darker shades for a subtle liner. These palettes aren't the most pigmented, but I usually don't want a super bold eye look anyway. Finish off with a coat of the L'Oreal Miss Manga Voluminous Mascara and your lashes will be defined and lengthened.

For lips, I love the Maybelline Baby Lips Lip Balm. These balms build up to a seriously pigmented gloss, but feel and wear like a balm. They're easy to reapply without a mirror, so they're perfect for passing-period touchups. Plus, they smell amazing! I love the shades Cherry Me, Grape Vine, and the Dr. Rescue Soothing Sorbet

What's your favorite back to school makeup look? Or do you prefer to rock the #iwokeuplikethis look?


Fashion Friday: Back to School Look #1

07 August 2015

Back to School Outfit - Warm First Days

I know how tempting it can be to snip off the tags on your new jeans and sweater for the first day back at school, but more often than not the weather is still a bit summery. You want your back to school outfits to have a fall look, but you don't want to be sweating in the middle of class!

I think the best way to transition from summer to fall clothes is to start incorporating warmer, richer colors into your outfits. For this look, I paired an orange tee with a cute denim skirt and classic Converse high-tops. 70s inspired fashion is big this fall, and this look channels a bit of that style in a school (and sun) friendly way.

Of course, no back to school look would be complete without a backpack! I actually own this Dakine backpack - it has little woodland animals on it, but the majority of it is a neutral navy blue that goes with anything. Also, don't forget your school supplies! Check out my last post on school supply shopping for making sure you've got everything you need.

What's your favorite way to dress in the back to school season? Check back every Friday this August for more ideas & inspiration!


School Supply Shopping Tips & List

04 August 2015

School supply shopping has always been one of my absolute favorite things to do. I love browsing through all the ads, checking off everything on my list, and packing it all up in my backpack for the first day. Shopping for school supplies has always been a fun tradition in my family - I think our love for office supplies is genetic! 

Here are some tips to make your school supply shopping trip fun and productive:
  • Make a list beforehand. Think about which classes you're taking and what you'll need for each one. If you're taking geometry or calculus, for example, you'll probably need graph paper and a calculator. 
  • Stock up on essentials while they're on sale. I'm always amazed at how the prices of simple items like filler paper increase once the back to school season is over. Buying a few packs now might seem like overkill, but when you need it - you need it!
  • Take a friend! It's fun to have someone to help you keep track of your list, and you can split some items like packs of pens, pencils, sticky notes, and erasers.

My School Supply Shopping List:
  1. Planner - A planner is the perfect place to keep track of assignments, due dates, and random notes/ideas. This one is from Target's Dollar Spot - and it's totally cute!
  2. Pencil Case - Having all your pens and pencils in one spot will keep them from floating around your backpack and marking up everything else. Plus, it's a perfect spot to keep other small items like paper clips, chapstick, and sticky notes.
  3. Folders & Filler Paper - For classes that are hand-out heavy, a folder with filler paper might be all you need. You might need more storage - like a binder/notebook - if you're taking a year-long course, but a folder with paper is a simple solution for the first days back before you know more specifically what you'll need. 
  4. Notebooks - I love spiral notebooks for note taking and writing. When I take notes and brainstorm paper ideas, I like the space and freedom to visually record all the ideas and connections that pass through my mind. 
  5. Homework and Project Tools - You never know when you'll need a glue stick, scissors, tape, a stapler, or a ruler! I consider these essential tools to have at home for those random creative assignments that pop up.
  6. Sticky Notes - Sticky notes are great for note-taking while you're reading and for marking important information in your notes or textbooks. They're also good for writing yourself reminders. 
  7. Pens & Pencils - When it comes to pens and pencils, I prefer to always overpack! Pencils and pens tend to disappear, so it's good to have extras with you at all times.
  8. Post-It Page Page Flags - I love these page flags for studying. They say "ON TEST", "STUDY", and "TO DO". These were especially handy when I was taking French, because the tests would cover material from many different chapters and sections.
  9. Note Cards - I can't even imagine how many note cards I went through in my academic career. From Art History flashcards to French verb conjugations and grammar rules, note cards are an essential tool for studying. The simple act of writing out the information again is a great way to study, plus you have a convenient way to study on the bus or between classes. 
What's on your school supply shopping list? 


It's Back To School Month!

02 August 2015

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me wanna buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." - Joe Fox, You've Got Mail 
I've always loved back to school season. From picking out school supplies to selecting the perfect first-day outfit, the back to school season has always been a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. When the clouds overtake the sun and the leaves begin to turn bright shades of red and orange, it signifies a season of productivity as the crisp air refreshes your lungs. Even though I'm not headed back to school this September, there's still something about this time of the year that makes me want to stock up on fun office supplies and reinvigorate my fall wardrobe.

This month I'll be sharing different ways to make the back to school season an exciting time. From school make-up looks, to fall fashion inspiration, to my essential homework supplies, I hope you'll feel as inspired and excited for the upcoming season as I always do.