Friday, September 19, 2014

On My Radar

Two words to describe this week: roller coaster. Life is a series of ups and downs and it seemed like this week was just all over the place on the emotional front. Sometimes it's easy to gloss over difficult days and just go straight through posting great and happy content. But it's the farthest from the truth, not just for me... but for everyone. One of my favorite quotations is “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Someone might be struggling with an internal battle, or she might be overwhelmed with work, or she might have lost a good friend.

I logged some extra-late night hours to pull myself out of the trenches. Planning and organizing paid off... one minute it "clicked" and I finally didn't feel like I was in over my head. (Not to mention that my spider bite is almost completely healed with a miracle-working medication.)

There are quite a few videos today. This is because I think there's nothing better than a fun video for a quick distraction and an easy smile.


ONE // Quvenzhan√© Walliss' Secrets

Not only is this little girl downright adorable, she is incredibly talented. Quvenzhan√© Walliss is the child actor known for her role in Beasts of the Southern Wild, but that was just the beginning of what is sure to be a long, long career. Unlike a lot of interviews with child actors, Quvenzhan√©'s answers are age-appropriate and not prompted by publicists or mom-agers. Very sweet!

 




TWO // Fun "Shake It Off" Videos

Okay, I am so loving Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." These two videos above are hilarious (the first one) and amazing (the second one). I love Taylor's original song, but Meghan Trainor (who sings "All About That Base") absolutely kills it with her cover– such a unique spin on the song. And who doesn't love boys lip-syncing to a girly song?


THREE // Puppy Surprise

Need a good cry?!?! Like a good-happy kind of cry? Watch this. I literally teared up. I'm such a sucker for surprise videos, but gosh, add a puppy and cute kids and I'm a puddle. This kids' reactions are priceless; I love that they keep thanking their parents over and over again!


FOUR // THE iPHONE 6

I can't wait to get my hands on the new iPhone. (I'm actually way more excited about the watch, but the camera on the phone will be ah-mazing!) I watched The Verge's review of the phone and it just made me really excited. If you're not sure whether upgrading is worth it or not for you, I definitely recommend their review. If you need a cute case for your new iPhone 6.... The Minnie and Emma collection I did is available for the new size!!! (Reese Witherspoon was spotted again carrying hers!)


FIVE // Nourish Snacks

My friend Julia works for Nourish Snacks, a new healthy snack company founded by Joy Bauer. She originally introduced me to the brand and I'm obsessed. Mr. Popular is my favorite; I could eat fourteen packages of these they are that good. All of the snacks are healthy (and gluten and dairy free!!!) and under 200 calories. I like to keep them by my desk for a quick-afternoon-pick-me while I work. Perfect for dorm rooms (moms: great care package!), lunch boxes, and snack-drawer alternatives. For 10% off, use "COLLEGEPREP" at checkout. Get all the Mr. Popular snacks... seriously, you will be addicted in the best way possible.

What's on your radar this week?

xoxo

PS I found the perfect fisherman's sweater!

PPS Bonus video for all the HONY fans out there: Humans of New York IMPOSTOR. Fun fact, Garrett actually does a great Brandon Stanton impression and one night I made him walk through Central Park with a backwards hat– he refused to actually go up to people, but I swear he has it down!
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Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Playlist!

It's been WAY too long since my last playlist! I'm obsessed with this one though. Some new songs that have been on absolute repeat and some old favorites that I always love listening to. For the most part, the playlist is pretty laid back and I think it's a good playlist to work to.

Playlist posts are always the posts I'm the most nervous to post because I think taste in music is so personal. I like a good mix of current and catchy with old and classic– keeps things fresh!



A couple of notes about this particular playlist. The first three songs are my top played recently... I'm hooked. I wanted to include Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off," but it's not available on Spotify apparently. Trust me though, I love it. (I definitely can't help but dance when it comes on...) And then I also included my favorite song from the Begin Again soundtrack; if you haven't watched the movie... you need to.

What's your favorite song/playlist/artist to listen to while you work?

xoxo
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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Birthday Present to Myself

When I turned 25 this year, I wanted to treat myself to something nice. Last year, I splurged on a curling iron... But this year I really wanted something special and nice. 25 is a big milestone in my opinion. I went back and forth on a couple of super nice handbags, but nothing really felt right.

And then I found a gorgeous Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress at Nordstrom. I knew right away that I had to get it. The iconic dress has been on my wish-list for a while now and I couldn't think of a better opportunity. It has since sold out, unfortunately, but you can still get the same print in a sweater. You know I love the ballerina sweater!



I really do feel like a million bucks in this dress. It's gorgeous, fits beautifully, and feels very grown up. Perfect for a 25th birthday! (Of course, had to pair the dress with my trusty nude pumps.)




Even though my dress is sold out, shop below for some other great DVF wrap dresses:



Thank you Nordstrom for sponsoring this post!
xoxo

PS If you're looking for a classic homecoming or formal dress, I really love this lace option... This color is on sale!
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I Bit Off More Than I Can Chew

Well... I need to be better about taking my own advice. Remember how, um, just recently I needed to be better about saying no? Yea, I've been saying yes still. (Actually, to give myself some credit, I have been saying no more, just not saying it nearly enough.)

Honestly, I don't know what happened. I blinked and it's mid-September. Wasn't it JUST Labor Day?

I bit off more than I can chew and I'm feeling overwhelmed, but it's really a good thing at the end of the day. I just have to be more strategic and I need to build out my team faster than I thought. The thing is that incredible opportunities have been coming my way. And I just can't say no to them! Working with my favorite brands, taking my blog to new levels, and building my own personal ventures on the side. It's been amazing.

I want to be able to celebrate the growth and the opportunities... not find myself stretched way too thin and a ball of stress.

Last week was bad, and yesterday was worse. I may or may not have called my mom begging her to come to NYC just to help out for a day or two. If you're friends with me on Snapchat (@collegeprepster), you might have seen the snap I sent of the state of my apartment. Boxes. Everywhere. I spent hours going through the boxes, itemizing what I needed to post about, and organizing the rest for content later. I hate having a cluttered apartment (+ pseudo-office), but it's been a challenge to keep the small space organized with the influx of packages.

I'm at a crossroads where my day-to-day tasks (the emails, blogging, meetings, etc.) have been preventing me from also doing long-term planning for future growth and opportunities.

Part of the problem was that I didn't have a clear picture of what I needed to do when and what I promised people I would do and what contracts had outstanding to-dos on my end. So I pulled out my laptop, my agenda where I keep track of post dates, a notebook for scratch paper/notes, and another notebook where I keep track of all my contracted work. It took about four hours, but I finally (FINALLY!!!!) got my bearings. With emails and queries coming in left and right, I just have to be vigilant about staying on top of things. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it really makes me miss college when you got a syllabus at the beginning of the semester and knew exactly what was coming around the corner.

^^ Around midnight, ha!

I slept a bit easier... and hit the ground running today.

One major thing that is helpful? Having a solid support system. A mom who will let you cry for twenty minutes just to get it off your chest. A boyfriend who doesn't think you're crazy for working until 2am. A best friend who hops on Skype when I need a good listening ear. Another best friend who sends supportive emails, just because. AND YOU TOO. Reading everyone's comments on my Instagram last night made me feel so good. Thank you!!! I love everyone in my tight little circle and am so appreciative of their and your support. (Plus, they are awesome and I get so much energy just hearing about each of their own lives, dreams, and goals!)

It's an exciting time and I want to be able to be excited about it. I also never want to wish away the opportunities because I am most certainly grateful.

xoxo

PS Just to add insult to injury, with a small dose of irony... I got bit by a spider last week. (Hah, I get it Universe. I bit off more than I can chew and a spider bites me....) I'll spare you and not show photos, but it's gross. I went to the doctor when it was clear that it was getting worse, not better and it turns out that I'm just having a terrible allergic reaction to it. Let's just say.... thank goodness it's cold enough for long sleeves. The medicine seems to be helping and I'm hoping it's 100% soon!
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Comfy Cozy

We have had a couple of days of legitimately chilly (or at the very least cooler) weather here in New York. While I've enjoyed breaking out some of my favorite fall clothing a bit early, I must admit that I'm a little glum about the changing of seasons. If we can't have an endless summer, I would settle for an endless fall. (Fall in the city is my favorite, despite the fact that it's the preface to winter.)

With the cooler weather underway, it makes me want to start my cozy-hibernation. I've been joking that from now until June, you will find me wrapped head-to-toe in cashmere just trying to keep warm! This Florida girl has very thin blood and I get chilled to the bone at the slightest of breezes. 

I thought I'd share my top four cozy things:


LEGGINGS | Whether you believe in leggings as pants or not, I think every girl should have a go-to pair. They're perfect for lounging with an oversized sweatshirt, layered under a tunic with riding boots, or paired under a dress to "fall" it up. My favorite pair is from LOFT and they're relatively well-priced. (I have a few pairs because I wear them that often!) J. Crew has a fan-favorite pair and Gap's are great as well.


SLIPPERS | I am all about the slippers. The floors in my apartment get so so so cold during the winter. If I'm inside, my slippers are on. I am the biggest fan of these UGG slippers because they're comfortable like slippers, but supportive like a shoe with a real sole. If I have to throw something out, I can wear them outside no problem. I'm tempted to get a pair of these this winter... and a bunch of my friends have these and they look oh-so-dreamy.


CASHMERE | Over the years, I've been investing in a handful of cashmere pieces every season. In my opinion, there's nothing more luxurious than wrapping yourself in an insanely soft, cashmere sweater. It's like a constant hug. One of my favorite sweaters is the J. Crew boyfriend v-neck sweater. It's a little unexpected because it's slouchy, but chic. Lilly Pulitzer has a killer cashmere wrap that I love to get cozy in. (For cashmere on a budget, try Halogen's sweater!)


CAMP SOCKS | I swear by camp socks. They are great for wearing with leggings in the house or with boots– especially Bean Boots! I also wear them with my rain boots when I need a little extra warmth and comfort. Getting a pair in every color wouldn't be the worst idea.

How do you stay comfy and cozy when the weather cools off?

xoxo
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette

Louisa from Living Lou is back with her incredible recipes! I know how to make a very limited number of things in the kitchen, and I'm missing a lot of the basics in my repertoire! I love that, while these recipes are "basic," they still teach great kitchen lessons (great for practicing!) and can be used with other recipes to create great meals. (This one is definitely the perfect start for me because there was one day that I overdid it on the balsamic and ended up with a totally ruined salad... whoops.)

*****



Now that schools are back in session I thought it would be fun to take my little cooking series here back to the basics and share some of my go-to simple recipes. When it comes to food, I’m a firm believer in taking a minimalistic approach. There is always time for experimenting with new flavors and ingredients, but I always come back to my simple favorites. Over the years, I’ve realized that it’s really the fundamentals that make you into a good cook. Once you learn and understand the fundamentals of flavors and textures, you can start to build on them and add your own little flair to your favorite recipes. As they say in one of my favorite movies “Fundamentals are the building blocks of fun.” (Bonus points if you knew that reference was the one and only Uptown Girls.) 

So everyone, here’s the deal, you need to make your own salad dressing. I cannot emphasize this enough. It’s so much healthier than store bought and it’s incredibly easy. Ridiculously easy. Now this is my favorite recipe for balsamic vinaigrette that I’ve been making for years. I used to bring a salad with this dressing every day for lunch during my senior year of high school. Now when it comes to making your own salad dressing, there are a couple of things you need to know. 

1. It’s a ratio
Don’t be scared off, I promise you, this isn’t math class, but the first thing to understand about making a salad dressing is that it’s all about balance. Typically in a vinaigrette your ratio should be 3:1. Three parts oil to one part acid (vinegar or lemon juice). Now if you like your dressing a little more on the tangy side you can play around with this (I usually do more of a 3:2), but as I said before taste as you go

2. What does “emulsify” mean? 
Emulsion is basically mixing two or more liquids together that typically would not blend together (think oil and water). It is through whisking the ingredients in this salad dressing together that you end up with a thicker dressing.


Basic Balsamic Vinaigrette (makes 1-2 servings)

Ingredients

2 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil 

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and honey. 

2. In a steady stream, slow pour in olive oil while whisking to. To emulsify and thicken the dressing, continue whisking for about 30 seconds. 

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xoxo
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