Monday, December 31, 2012

My 2012 Favorites

These posts are always my favorite. I get to do a mini-reflection and they serve as fun reminders of what has (or hasn't) changed over the years.

In no particular order, here are my top 10 favorites of 2012.

1. Georgetown University | Leaving Georgetown was bittersweet. While I was absolutely more than ready to venture into the new chapter of my life, I grew so much at Georgetown. There were certainly lots of not-so-fun parts, but on a whole, it was an amazing experience that I wouldn't give back for the world. Senior year was particularly difficult, but I really really enjoyed second semester. I was finally okay with not being on the rowing team. I made new friendships. I had wonderful professors and interesting classes. I think I liked that last semester more than all of the other semesters combined. It was a great way to end my four years, that is for sure.

Photo by Carissa Gallo for Kate Spade

2. New York City | Is it a coincidence that the city made it on the previous two years' lists as well? No. I have absolutely known I was going to move here after I graduated and to see it come true has been almost like a dream. I had been picturing it for so long that sometimes it's hard to remember that this is my real life!!! I was making trips up here nearly every weekend (a guy may or may not have been a driving force behind this one) and was so ready to just live here. Then there was a brief stint where I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that I did not want to live here (again, a guy may or may not have been a driving force behind this one). But I quickly snapped out of it after a month-long NYC hiatus and found myself applying to jobs in the city. The rest is history...

3. Levo League | It's hard to believe that I was introduced to the company only nine short months ago. It seems like Levo has been a part of my life for, well, a very long time. I can't even begin to describe how amazing the whole experience has been. Trust me when I say that it is a very interesting job for a "first job." Frankly, I cried every night on the way home thinking what had I gotten myself into!!! But, over time, things smoothed out. I figured out my own routine and really made it work. It was really important that I work for a company with a good mission and vision, and Levo League could not be more perfect.

4. IRL | One of the strangest things about being a blogger is that you build friendships online. It may start off with a tweet or two, but then before you know it you're friends. I met so many of these friends in person this year and it has been fantastic. They're just the same– if not better in real life. This is definitely not a conventional way of going about making friends, but it works. I value every single one of my online-turned-offline friendships a great deal. 

5. Colored Denim | Well, I had to throw in one of my favorite trends!!! I love love love colored denim. I started embracing this during 2011, but I took it to heart this year. I mean, it's awesome. Jeans.... in bright colors. You can't go wrong.

6. Mexico | This was so out of my family's comfort zone, but we survived the trip and had a blast. We ditched our cell phones and laptops for the entire week. Repelled, cave-dived, and zip-lined liked pros. We ate, drank, and was merry while soaking up (or hiding from, in my case) the sun! It was also my only "spring break trip" because it was the first year I didn't have to attend a crew training trip! Plus, it was great family bonding!!

7. Mumford & Sons | This hardly requires an explanation. I have only recently begun to enjoy music and "play favorites." But let me tell you... Mumford & Sons seriously speaks to me.

8. Pinterest | This was Pinterest's year. Yea, Instagram was pretty awesome too... but Pinterest nailed it. It's one of my blog's #1 traffic drivers and it's also one of my #1 time-suckers. (I would say 'time-wasters,' but learning how to make incredible recipes and decorating imaginary houses and shopping with invisible money is pretty much the coolest thing, ever. 

9. Photo booths | It all started with the infamous Instagram Photostrips. It got picked up by Martha Stewart, Apartment Therapy, and other pretty awesome sites. Plus, Elana and I have been hunting for photo booths everywhere we go in the city! They're such a fun way to capture memories. And unlike digital cameras, and Instagram for that matter, there are no re-dos! (And those funny, uncensored, captured-in-the-moment shots end up being the best!)

10. J U M P | I wasn't really sure how to title this one, but I think that "jump" sort of captures it. I took so many chances and did things that were way out of my comfort zone this year. Considering my general desire to remain in control of any and all situations I find myself in, I was really proud of myself for doing the things I did. One of which was to be casted on a reality television show. Thank goodness the show was ultimately not picked up by the network, but the experience was C-R-A-Z-Y. I mean, Crazy with a capital C. The whole "casting" process lasted around six months, with dozens of phone interviews, casting reels, and being grilled on super tough personal questions. I also packed my packed my bags and moved to New York City by myself. It was scary, but obviously worth it. I gave a little bit of my heart to someone and it didn't really end well. But it's not the outcome that is most important, it is what I learned about life and what I learned about myself that really was valuable. I wouldn't trade the experience because of everything I learned from it.

2012 is a year that I know I will look back and say was a defining one. I took risks, explored new opportunities, learned so much about myself, grew up in so many ways, and really had a lot of fun.

How was your year? What tops your list of favorites?


PS Click below to see my favorites from years past:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2 0 1 3

2012 was definitely the best year yet. So much happened. There was certainly a lot of uncertainty and a lot of movement (forwards, backwards, up, and down).

With 2013 knocking, I knew I wanted to ensure that the year would be even better. This is the first year in a really long time where I feel a little bit more settled. As I grew up, I always had 2012 dogeared in my head as "the year." Not necessarily as the best year or anything like that, but it was always the one I was looking towards. It would be the year I graduated college. I kind of envisioned the murky waters of the Real World as being some sort of scary (albeit exhilarating) adventure. Now that it's here and I've had some time to figure it out... I'm loving it. I also realize that I am in complete control of the path I take. No more required classes; no one is telling me what I can or can't do.

I don't want to waste it though. I don't want to look back at the "first year in NYC" and think about how I didn't really take life by the reigns.

Strangely, I've decided to both charge forward and slow down. Sounds impossible, but I think I can do it. The past couple of years, I've been establishing "goals" for the year. (I'm not entirely into "resolutions.")

This year, I've come up with an agenda on the things I want to work on and focus on. It should absolutely be noted here that I do all of these things all the time, not just during one specified period of time. But, I want to focus on those particular topics one at a time, in more depth. (So, I won't ignore my friends for the entire year except for May! But in May, I will focus a little bit more on them!) There is lots of overlap, but I think I will come out on the other side of the year with a better outlook on the aspects of my life that I enjoy the most.

When I started this project, I broke down all the different components of my life. I began by seeing where I was spending my time. I noted what frustrated me, what stressed me out, which things made me unhappy, and things I wish I were doing more of or differently. To keep in order with the year, I grouped the items into twelve buckets, one for each month.

As I go through the year, I'll do mini reflections to keep you posted on my progress. I want to be able to track what I've accomplished, how things change, and if this whole project was even a good idea to begin with!! I will likely be incorporating more posts on each particular bucket depending on what month we're in. So if you want to join the journey with me, you can either choose to do the same groups as me... or change everything... or swap out a few!

January | Work Life
I think one of the most difficult parts of 2012 was figuring out how to shift from being a student to being an employee. I'm still figuring out how to make sure I stop working to regroup. I absolutely have to kick off the month with this, as it's definitely the biggest obstacle I can see right now. I love my job and get to do the coolest things and work with the absolute most amazing people. At the same time, I can't let it drain me completely!!

February | Love
To start off, I want to work on loving myself more! I think the #CurlChallenge is a good start, and I'll continue to find ways to really embrace who I am. And, of course, February wouldn't be complete without some boys. So I don't talk about my personal relationships on here (except for that one time) ... but it's not because my love life is nonexistent! I'm a little envious of other bloggers who can so freely disclose their personal life. (Not out of pure jealousy, but more because they are so much braver than I am!) I'm going to try to muster a little bit of courage to share some things I've learned for this month and maybe even share a few *names have been changed* stories.

March | Writing
Writing is one of my big challenges. I'm not going to win any awards for my writing, but I find that writing in general is so powerful. In a selfish way, writing is cathartic. I write every day, most of which never gets read by anyone but myself! After I wrote The Freshman 50, I was seriously so freaked out by the notion that people were actually going to read it. I held off publishing for over a year... and I think that's why I'm struggling with my current project. The first time around I was kind of blind about what could happen, but now I know about critics and rejection and it's worrisome. 

April | Style
Well, this is going to either be a really frustrating or really fun month. I want to go through my closet and refine my style. I have so many clothes that still fit from high school and can't really part with... even though they don't fit me anymore. I want to get rid of the unworn, maybe invest in a piece or two, and come up with some new outfits and combinations. We'll see...

May | Friendships
Because I don't live in the state where I grew up and because I didn't go to an in-state university and because of blogging a little bit too, I have friends all over the world. It's the best feeling to know that I will have at least one friend anywhere I go in the world. Pretty awesome. I want to do special things with friends this month and reflect on old stories and also create new memories.

June | Exercise
Ugh, this might be the most challenging month for me. A couple of Junes ago, I tested out running but it made me absolutely i-n-s-a-n-e (as in, I was seriously hurting myself trying to run faster and longer every day). I want to try out some classes, stretch more, and try to find a routine that works for me.

July | Exploration
Ultimately, I want this month to be about travel. But, since I live in NYC.... I really want to explore new things about the city! Hopefully, I will give myself enough time to plan a fun trip (or two).. and really start saving for the trip!!!

August | Reflection
August to me, is like the New Year. Too many years of going back to school in this month will do that to someone I guess! This will also mark one year of living in the city and I want to make sure that it doesn't go unnoticed. It will be a good time to also look back to see how I'm doing with this project.... hopefully I make it this far!

September | Skills
I'm obsessed with learning new things. It was obviously much more forced when I went to school. But they were mostly things that I wasn't all that interested in! Now I've been turning to Youtube to learn anything I want. I will narrow down something that I've been putting off and really get it underway. Whether it's a new skill on the computer or simply just a fun hobby!

October | Organization
I do this pretty much on a daily basis, but it's always good to do a big debrief. A floor to ceiling organization cleanse! Finances, closets, drawers, photographs, computer files... you name it!

November | Reading
One of the things I've been putting off all of 2012 was reading Atlas Shrugged. That book is going to take commitment. Hopefully I'll have it read before this month, but either way... I want to revisit books that I've been "meaning to read."

December | Giving
A lot of my giving is in the form of monetary donations. Donating money to my favorite organizations does amazing things and is better than nothing, it's also the easiest. I want to make sure that I volunteer my time too.

What do you say? Are you with me?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Little Things

One thing is true... I am terrible at "interior design." I'm beyond envious of what all you talented girls (and guys) can do with a room. I absolutely cannot come up with a vision. I have zero patience. And I can't really make up my mind on a style. Sometimes I think a plain white apartment would be clean, simple, and oh-so-perfect. And other times I'm ready to deck the halls like there's no tomorrow. (I've even decided that it would be awesome to have everything be some shade of pink.) I know what I like, but I really don't have the time to figure it all out nor the money to make things happen.

So instead, I'm focusing on the little things. ONLY the little things. I have to talk myself out of "projects" every week it seems like. (Mostly because I'll end up eating Ramen every day and working on the project between 2 and 4 in the morning.) And I'm focusing on things that I absolutely love. Some things I like, some I really like... and then there are those things that I love. The difference is between really like and love is seriously not being able to walk away.

These drawer pulls were an absolute L-O-V-E.

I went with the fox drawer pulls and they completely change up the entire TV stand. Even though they're small, they certainly make me happy.

The details are just super cute!

Hi there little guy!!!

What "little thing" have you added in your room that made a big difference?


Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Eve Shoes

I've been loving glitter and definitely wanting to take the plunge, and I think it's time! With New Year's Eve literally right around the corner, I'm thinking a fun pair of shoes are in order. I'd really like to opt for a simple black dress... but a little bit of sparkle is kind of necessary.

(10) Ava Glitter Pumps | These are sweet and feminine. The glitter is a bit muted, so it's closer to having a pair of nude Mary-Janes with a little something extra!

(9) Lula Glitter Ballet Flats | Um, these are definitely perfect for storing in a handbag for after the party. It doesn't matter how high (or low) my heels are, my feet end up hurt, hurt, hurting by the end of the night. A fun pair of glitter flats would be great relief without sacrificing any NYE fun!

(8) Glitter Navajos | These are perfect for evenings at the beach. If you're spending the holiday somewhere tropical, a) consider me jealous and b) grab these flats! (Oh, and don't forget a fresh pedicure!)

(7) Trixie Flat | Want to opt for comfort without losing an ounce of fun? These flats are fabulous!! Very Alice!

(6) Kayden Pump | These are sparkly without breaking the bank too badly.... they're under $100! Ivanka Trump shoes are also super comfortable.

(5) Sharina Pump | With just a hint of a platform and a low heel, these have the appearance of being a high heel... but they're actually not that high!

(4) Krysta Pump | Well, I mean. Pink, glitter, bows, and Kate Spade. It does not get better than that.

(3) Claudia Pump | What a fun little pump and a tiny surprise of glitter on the heel. These shoes are super cute for any New Year's Eve party!!!

(2) Alpine Flat | Oh, these flats are calling me. I'm such a klutz and even the New York Times has even said that flats are the new "power shoe." Yep. Count me in.

(1) Morni Pump | These are glittery, but still a classic black. They're very Kate Spade, but just about half the price. And I think it's clear that I just simply cannot resist a good bow!

What are you wearing on New Year's? Which pair of shoes would you choose?


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Family Time

The whole time my family was here, I totally felt like I was in a different city. It's so easy to forget how cool New York City is when you wake up, go to work, go home, and go to sleep. Even the weekends are a challenge because my friends and I frequent the same restaurants because, well, they're our favorites!

It was so great to have my dad, mom, and sister here for the holidays. I haven't slept or eaten this much since I moved here. It was awesome. 

It was cold. And these Floridians could hardly handle it. Not one block went by without some mention of the cold or the wind.

See what I mean? LOTS of eating.

And sleeping.

And Newsies viewing.

And cappuccinos.

The coolest thing in the entire world.

And touristy stops along the way.

I hope your holiday celebrations were filled with lots of family time as well!


Ann Hamilton "The Event of a Thread"

I heard amazing things about Ann Hamilton's "The Event of a Thread." A few of my city friends had gone and the pictures on Instagram were mesmerizing. I was planning on making a trip down to the Park Avenue Armory to see it and having my family in town made it even better.

I tried explaining what it was to my parents and sister as best as I could, but even I didn't really understand what it was. I just knew it was going to be amazing.

And amazing it was. It is beautiful and inspiring and fun and simply incredible. If you're in New York City, you HAVE to go. The pictures don't do it justice.

(I got whacked in the head by this little swinger... and we matched.)

All four of us had fun, which isn't something we can say often. Definitely a trip highlight.

Here's a short video of the experience:


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Thank You Cards

While the holiday season isn't about gifts and presents, making your appreciation known definitely is. Thank you notes for gifts should be sent promptly!!!

With the year winding down, this is also a good idea to send notes to people who have positively impacted your year! Professors and teachers, family friends, coworkers, best friends.... maybe even a "stranger" or two (like the waiter at your favorite café who always upgrades your drink order).

Handwritten notes are obviously the best choice. I like to take photos of addresses on shipping boxes with my iPhone and that way I always have them with me. (I'm so not the kind of person to remember to update actual address books!) Nowadays finding addresses is pretty simple. And if you really can't hunt it down, sending a note to their place of work will do.

PS Check out this Office Hours with Jorie Schlonik on holiday cards, thank you notes, and other followup tips.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

merry christmas

i hope everyone has a wonderful day filled with family and fun.

having my entire family in nyc has been the best!!


Monday, December 24, 2012

YIKES! Last minute presents

I'm so not going to judge here, but did you forget a couple of people on your list? Maybe you weren't quite sure if you were doing a gift exchange? Or you just were too busy to shop at all?

It's totally fine.

You still have time!

Pandora Subscription | This is a gift that I have both given and received and it is THE best. I feel like most people suffer through those annoying ads and hit the monthly limit two weeks in. But, giving this gift is awesome. My favorite part is that it lasts all year long!

Starbucks E-Card | This is a little less personal, but it's perfect for little gift exchanges when you want to show appreciation. Pick the denomination and send it to the recipient's email inbox. Even better? Add a personal note with the person's favorite drink order (grande skinny vanilla soy latte one sweet n low extra hot in a vente cup)!

Nordstrom E-Card | The key with e-cards is to make an effort to show that you know the person well and you're not just doing a cop out gift. For example, add a note here that says, "A little bit closer to the Kate Spade sunnies that I know you've been eyeing!" You may not be able to afford the sunglasses, but this shows that you know your friend really wants them and you want to help them get closer to the goal!

J. Crew | This is great for friends that you know love the store, but you don't know sizes or whatever. Again, don't forget to add a personal note: "Pick out a sweater in your favorite color!" 

Virtual Book | Books make the best gifts. They're definitely my personal favorite. On Barnes & Noble, you can send nook books to friends! Send a personal favorite or a classic, directly to your friend!


Sunday, December 23, 2012



by Daniel Pink

This is a really interesting book! I brought home a stack of books from the Levo office to read over break, so I'm trying to wrap this one up. I may or may not have been quoting it last week and/or referencing specific pages. If you work with people (which, hello, I think we all do to a certain degree), I definitely recommend it.


Dunkin Donuts Hot Cocoa K-Cups

I have a Keurig and while I'm typically brewing coffee, I've been opting for Hot Cocoa. I definitely made a cup one night and then realized how desperately it was missing marshmallows. The next day, I picked up a big bag of mini marshmallows and my nights are just that much better.


Dove Style + Care Hairspray
This is what is helping me cope with the #CurlChallenge. I used to use spray gel, but I find that this hairspray is light enough where my hair doesn't get that gross crunch. It tames the frizz and holds the curls, but still lets my hair have it's natural feel.


There are only a couple of days where this playlist will work for me (until next year, of course), so I'm getting as much use out of it as possible. Not purposefully planned, but still useful, is the fact that it's 50 minutes long. I know that when I get to the first song again, it's probably a good time for a break!


My apartment is almost always freezing. I have to wear these little guys all the time. They're so thick (and perfect for bean boots too). I wear them pretty much as slippers!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

A little bit quieter

I'm going to be a little bit on the quieter side over the next few days. (I'll probably have plenty to Tweet about since I'll be with my family though!)

Things are winding down at work (at least a little bit), in preparation for the craziness of 2013!!! And I think it's now or never for resting up. I plan on getting some reading underway, some editorial planning done, and just generally tying up a few loose ends. I want to go into 2013 feeling refreshed and ready.

Basically, I've come up with a list of goals to prepare myself for my big 2013. (I'm planning on breaking down the process I'm implementing for that later!) For now, I really need to set things up and close a few chapters and, again, tie up the loose ends.

The past couple of months have been a little up and down crazy-town, so I'm looking forward to spending the next week or so simply regrouping and recharging. Blog posts might be a little bit light, but I'll try to check in with fun small posts to keep the ball rolling. (I find that slowing down is better than stopping... I need to maintain a bit of momentum!)

I hope that you enjoy your break as well... but I think it's totally acceptable to come back here for a couple of minutes to see what's new!


Friday, December 21, 2012

Everyone Needs a Leslie

I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing 90% of the time. Actually, make that 99%. And the 1% is more or less a fluke. There's a little bit of trial and error going on. And a lot a bit of "fake it 'til you make it." Apparently this is normal, but I seriously half-expect someone to pop out from behind a corner and say, "Gotcha! We know that you really don't know what you're doing!"

Does anyone else feel like that?

I am so happy that I work at Levo League for a million and a half reasons, one of which is most definitely Leslie. Leslie was the first Levo employees I met when I was introduced to the company back in March. She was so much fun then and absolutely made me fall in love with Levo instantly. (If you've ever watched Office Hours or met Leslie at a conference, you probably already know how amazing she is.)

We sit right across from each other in the office and I take mental notes of just about everything she does. Every day I learn so many things and I ask an equal number of questions. What's the best way to respond to this email? Do you think I should do this or that? Am I overreacting here or is my frustration valid? Am I going crazy or were 498 different things said in the past two minutes? Do you really think that I can do this?

When I'm working, I seriously always ask myself, "Hmmm what would Leslie do?" When I write emails, I try to write them in a way she would. I'm super awkward when people wander into the office and I'm trying (trying being the operative word) to greet people the Leslie does!

I really, really respect her and and her experience and her advice. She's a pro!

Leslie has seen at least one panic attack, a couple of exhaustion-driven emotional breakdowns, and countless "OMG! EEP! That's Ah-MAAAAZING!" moments.

Another great thing about having Leslie in the office is that we do share some of the same tendencies. We both tend to take on other people's stress, and we both are quite Type-A. I always notify her when she's taking on someone else's stress and she does the same for me. We're not great at stopping each other from being perfectionist-freaks, but we commiserate together at the very least. We also trade book suggestions– we both love books.

Bottom Line: Everyone needs a Leslie.

She may be older than you. She may be the same age as you. You may work with her or live with her. You two might talk over coffee or talk over Skype.

But you need one.

(Oh, and by the way.... You can have more than one "Leslie." I have a couple of people around the country, including my mom, that I would consider to be Leslies.)

Who is your Leslie? How did you meet her? How does she help you?


Thursday, December 20, 2012

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Winter Pajama Sets

My sister and I always get matching pajamas around this time of year. (Some years they match more than others because we're both particular and have very different styles.) My family is coming up to NYC for the holidays, so this year will probably be a little different on Christmas morning. Actually, I'm pretty curious as to how it will ultimately go down. Should be fun and interesting either way, and maybe a new tradition!

I went through and pulled some of my favorite pajama looks.

J. Crew has the cutest pajama sets in my opinion. They're definitely some of my favorite. I really like the long sleeved ones because the heat in my apartment is temperamental. It only decides to work sometimes. I also love how the pajamas are monogrammable if you order online!!

The nightshirts are amazing. I have a couple and wear them all the time. (For colder nights, a pair of leggings underneath does the trick!) 

Um, these might just be the winner. Amazing price, polka dots, and metallic gold.

What I really like about all these choices is that they can be worn throughout the year (weather permitting). A lot of "Christmas pajamas" really only work for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning! These can be worn while opening gifts and watching parades and eating breakfast on Christmas morning. But also any time throughout the year! Love!

What are your favorite pajamas right now?


© 2013 The College Prepster