Thursday, July 24, 2014

What's in my bag: Summer edition

My bag is a Longchamp Le Pliage in Bilberry. I bought it at the beginning of the summer, in a Medium, but I kind of wish I'd bought the large. I'm prone to overpacking my handbag, and this one doesn't tolerate my mess. Maybe that's a good thing. I don't know. 

So I've got my iPhone, obviously, with a case I got super on sale at Old Navy. The color behind the lace print is interchangeable. Love it! 

Next are the everyday essentials -- tissues, pens, lipstick [Clinique], chapstick [EOS], a pencil (I never use pencils, but this one I got for free from the farmers' market. It's handmade.) sunscreen [L'Oreal], gum, headphones (clipped together with a hair clip), and a little notebook in case I need to write something down (= writer = I always do). 

I take a water bottle with me EVERYWHERE, and I raved about this one on my What's in my Gym Bag post last week. Nalgene water bottles are the best. End of story.

Sunglasses are another must, and mine are Aviator Ray Bans that my uncle got for me last summer. The strap is Lilly Pulitzer's Lobstah Roll print -- perfect for summer. 

My wallet [old, from Target] is pretty basic, but it's functional. I've had it for almost a year now, but I'm waiting on Kate Spade outlet shopping at the beach to buy a new one. #ICANTWAIT

Last, but not least, my two smaller bags: the first is my pencil case: a wristlet from Sloane Ranger. The second is my own little mini-emergency kit that I fashioned from a Harrods makeup bag (don't even get me started on how much I love Harrods). It has: lipstick, facial powder (and a brush), an extra pen, napkins, tampons, tylenol, deodorant, hand sanitizer, a standard grocery shopping list (I always seem to forget mine), and some extra paperclips. 

I know, I know, I'm kind of a packrat when it comes to my handbag. Most of the time it has even more in it -- the novel I'm reading, a moleskine notebook, my planner... I could go on. 

What's in your bag? Anything important I've left out? Talk to me in the comments! :) 


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lou + Grey Obsession

Lou & Grey, if you haven't heard, are the cutest little LOFT brand that's been all over the blog circuit recently. I happened upon their line the last time I was at LOFT, and I've been in love ever since. Here are a few pieces I adore. (Yes, they're all stripes, I'm aware. I just really like stripes.) Enjoy!

ONE // Striped Hi-Lo Tee

This is the piece that Carly wore in her Lou & Grey post. It looks soooo soft, and the striped tee is so in right now. Love it. 

This is both super cozy AND wearable to work, which makes it 100% worth the purchase. I need it in my closet. Now. 

THREE // Stripe Maxi Skirt

Maxi skirts have been a fashion staple for me this summer - they're just dressy enough to work for my job, and yet still incredibly comfortable and resilient to the gross summer heat. Bonus: maxi skirts are the perfect piece to transition into a fall wardrobe. Need I say more?

Have you checked out the line? Any favorites? Let me know in the comments! :) 


*This isn't a sponsored post -- all opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I Visted My Best Friend This Weekend

My best friend just moved to Richmond, VA, and since I had the weekend off, I decided to go visit her. Richmond is such a cute city (although, I will admit, the traffic is horrendous) and I got to do a lot of fun things, just in the six-ish hours I was there. 

I started my morning at this coffee shop called The Daily Grind, which is actually a chain (who knew?) but it was cute, nonetheless. I love window tables, and reading next to them. It makes me feel like a bona-fide English Major. 

Here's Jenna and I -- we've been friends since eighth grade. She's the best.
We were visiting Need Supply Co., which sells Warby Parker... I'm slightly obsessed. I so wish I wore glasses, but alas, 20/20. *Sigh*
P.S. We got our makeup done at the Nordstrom in Short Pump mall... Nordstrom Anniversary Sale + Free Makeovers = HEAVEN. 

We also went into this adorable used bookstore on Cary Street, and they had a cat in their display window. Life goals: that bookstore. But seriously, I loved it. I spent less than $20 on four books. The best. 

They had a little display for "A Blind Date with a Book." How cute is that? 

Needless to say, I had a perfect day, and I will definitely be visiting again ASAP. 

Have you guys been to Richmond? What's your favorite city? Chat with me in the comments!


Recipes I'm Loving This Week

Bloggers, readers, friends -- happy Tuesday! Today is my day off, which has been absolutely wonderful so far, and I thought I'd share some recipes I've been using lately, so here goes!

ONE // Penne with Tomatoes, Eggplant, and Mozzarella

Confession: I'd never had eggplant before I made this dish, so I was super skeptical. Maybe you're in the same boat as I was, and you're thinking, ew, eggplant, that weird purple thing? Yes. It's not as weird as it sounds, I promise -- in fact, it almost tastes like zucchini. Definitely recommend this, it's good stuff. Just a tip: the recipe doesn't say anything about actually peeling the eggplant before slicing it, but you need to do that. (Oops.)

TWO // Garlic Mushroom Quinoa

I made this recipe last week, and I have to say, it is 100% just as tasty as it is gorgeous! I'm a quinoa convert (pronounced KEEN-WAH... it took me forever to learn that) as of last summer, and I love that it's so adaptable to just about any kind of dinner! Salads, chicken, even as a pudding... you name it, quinoa can probably be cooked with it. YUM. 

THREE // Moistest Chocolate Mug Cake

If the word moist sketches you out as much as it does me, I'm sorry, but this recipe is so good that I had to post it, even with the uncomfortable keyword. It's SUPER easy (as mug cakes should be) and tastes absolutely wonderful. It honestly tastes just like a real cake, and isn't as calorie-heavy either (hello, guilt-free sugar rush). I used PB&Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams PB instead of Nutella... I was in heaven. I might have to make this again, talking about it so much is making me crave it. One thing about the recipe, though: I had to leave mine in the microwave a little bit longer than the recipe suggested. Probably 90-100 seconds total, so not too bad. Try. This. Now. 

Do you guys have any recipes you're addicted to? Any thoughts about the ones I've posted? Let me know in the comments!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

On Being an Anomaly

"I don't understand you," my best friend said, eyeing my outfit on the bus. We were on our way to the local Famers' Market, and I'd dressed for the occasion -- my old Ray Bans with their Lilly Pulitzer sunglass strap, Nike running shorts, and a man tank, with my feather statement necklace that I wear all the time. "You're preppy... but you also dress like a hipster sometimes... and you wear workout clothes on a daily basis. You're just an anomaly." 

"I don't think there's anything wrong with that," I replied. And it's true -- I spent a lot (and I mean, a lot) of time my freshman and sophomore years worrying about how people perceived me. College isn't like high school -- no one actually ever tells you they have a problem with your style -- but all the same, there's still this lingering pressure to conform to one societal group or another. And, being girls, the way that one conforms to a social group is by dressing the part. There are the sorority girls, with their Lilly and their oversized spirit jerseys, the gym rats, who only ever wear Norts and running shoes, or the hipsters, who thrift shop like it's their job... with your occasional authentic country girl or alternative chick or history buff thrown in every once in a while. These are the primary styles of people (or, at least, clothing) at my school. 

I tried fitting in one category or another, rotating around my wardrobe depending on the season or my current mood, but I found that no one style -- or lifestyle -- fit me exclusively. I had this moment of clarity at the beginning of this summer where I was standing in J. Crew, ooh-ing and aah-ing over an outfit I loved, and I had the thought, I'll never attract the type of guy I want to date if I start dressing like a prep... and that was about the moment my common sense kicked in: I was trying to dress/look/act a certain way just to get people to like me. It really bothered me that that's the way my college tends to see people, and I decided I didn't want to be a part of that.

So now, if I want to buy a cute dress at J. Crew or Nordstrom (and I have the money in my bank account), I'll buy it. If I want to wear my 'old man' sweater that I found at Goodwill for $3 or a vintage dress I bought at a thrift store, I'll wear it. If I want to listen to vinyl and read the latest issue of The New Yorker while looking through the Lilly Pulitzer fall styles, I'll do it. There is so much simplicity that comes from deciding to be exactly who you want, without letting yourself be bothered by those who would want to place everyone into neat, organized categories. Life isn't that way -- it's messy and people are complex and sometimes jocks write poetry or sorority girls skateboard. It's okay. 

We're all anomalies in one way or the other, and if I want to be a preppy writer, so help me, that's exactly what I'm going to be. 

Are you an anomaly, too? How so? Talk to me in the comments! ;) 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's in my gym bag

This summer, I've been trying to hit the gym as much as possible (be on the lookout for a post about that in the near future), but I would be lost without my trusty gym bag

The bag I use is simple enough -- it's pretty much just functional at this point. However, I really like this one at The Pink Monogram if you're looking for something with a girly touch. 

I always make sure to pack my headphones (JVC, here) and notebook (Moleskine Volant, similar here) -- the notebook is super important, because it helps me track my cardio and particularly my strength training workouts. It's sometimes really motivating just to look back and see where I've started, to know how far I've come since then. 

And, of course, the water bottle. This is a staple, not just for the gym, but for my everyday life. In college it's super important to carry a water bottle, since you can be out most of the day for classes and library time, and hydration is kinda sorta essential for maintaining good health. Anyway. This Nalgene has held up super well for being carried around with me every single day, and the multi-drink nozzles are the best. Check it out. 

Hair ties, bobby pins, deodorant. I'll admit I don't always have these items with me, but I do take them whenever I remember to. You never know when a hair tie will break, and you don't want to be left with your hair down at the gym. Trust me. The worst. 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST (and, coincidentally, not pictured): KEYS. Mine also happen to have my gym membership card (aka my student ID) on them, so that's super important. Don't lock yourself out of your house, apartment, or dorm, ladies.


So, how was my roundup? Anything I left out? Suggestions? Questions? Concerns? Talk to me in the comments section. :) 

Love you all! 


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What I'm Reading: July

I don't know if this rings true for any of you, but it is absolutely impossible for me to stick to reading one book at a time. I'm always finding new titles to get excited about, so I'm always working on three (or five, or twelve) different books. Here are the headliners of what I'm reading this month -- check them out! 

ONE // Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Jonathan Safran Foer
JSF, in case you haven't read anything of his, has one of the best (and most natural-sounding) writing voices of all time. He's a new-ish favorite of mine, and this book is phenomenal. It reads really quickly, and he uses a lot of experimental techniques in the book. It's impossible not to love him. This is a truth universally acknowledged. 

TWO // Light in August, William Faulkner
You'll probably be hearing a lot about Faulkner from me in the next few months -- I'm taking a seminar that's exclusively focused on his work. To prep myself for all that southern diction, I'm reading his Light in August. Though it's a bit slow (and yes, at times, hard to read), I really appreciate his repetitive, cyclical style and the complexity with which he writes about the south. Definitely a good fit if you like literature about the south, or 19th c. lit in general. 

THREE // The Architecture of Happiness, Alain de Botton
(500) Days of Summer is my all-time favorite movie, so when I was browsing through the aisles at my work (and yes, in case you were wondering, I am one of those English majors who works at a bookstore) and came across the book that Tom Hansen bought for Summer Finn when he was trying to win her back (sorry, spoilers) -- cue sad Regina Spektor music. Anyway, it's just as good as cute little JGL promised it would be. #TomHansenIsMySpiritAnimal.

Monday, July 14, 2014

How to Feel Pretty

Oh. My gosh. Have you guys heard of Anna Akana? I found out about her from a blog Carly posted earlier this week, and I'm already obsessed. She's a YouTuber (and an actress) and her videos are just SO inspiring and happy and wonderful. Here's one. 

If you guys have any other YouTubers you love, let me know -- this might be a new thing for me. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life in Order: My Desk

Although I so, so wish that I was a minimalist, I never have been and never will be. It's just not who I am. That doesn't mean that I can't keep all my [sometimes unnecessary] junk in order. 

Case and point: my desk. It may look a little messy, sure, but it's an honest portrayal. This is how my desk always looks -- well, on all the good days, at least. I'm a writer, what can I say? I need my materials all out where I can see them. (P.S. I'm kind of obsessed with these kinds of posts, so I figured I'd give back and try one myself.)

Let's break this down from left to right. 

ONE // Calendars

My dry erase calendar (old, similar here) and Lilly Pulitzer planner (last year's) are essential life staples. I would probably be lost without them. The same things pretty much go in both -- I only really use the monthly sections in my Lilly planner right now, since I got a new Moleskine planner for the coming school year (more on that in this post), but it helps to be able to flip back and forth, especially as I'm trying to pin down my beach plans for August (!!!!!). 

TWO // Laptop (Wallpaper)

Pretty self-explanatory -- your typical, everyday 13" Macbook Pro. As for my wallpaper, it's a custom monogram I made for free on the Mark and Graham website. Go DIY it, it's easy and super cute! A good, minimalist wallpaper is hard to find. 


THREE // Organizers

Okay, I know, that's a pretty generous title for an upcycled coffee mug and a file box, but they really do serve their purpose. The coffee mug (old, probably thrift store) holds all of my pens, pencils, and highlighters -- necessary -- and the file holder (Marshall's, a few years ago) holds, well, everything else. There's a flash drive, a ton of bookmarks, my stapler, a flashlight, an old New Yorker I've been meaning to read, and a bunch of printed stories I've been assigned for my fiction writing classes. I know, I know, not exactly the model for Good Housekeeping, but this is about as organized as my desk gets. Writers give their desks a lot more love than your typical college student, and that shows up in the wear (and, erm, mess) of it all. 

FOUR // The Nook Color + Notebooks

First, my Nook Color, which is fun... but most of the time, I prefer real books. My notebooks (and the planner is under there, too) are all Moleskine, and  I wouldn't have it any other way. They're good for everything - from top to bottom, there's my church notebook, my writing notebook, and my 18-month planner. I love love love them all. Definitely worth the splurge.

FIVE // Writers List

In case you were wondering about that random piece of paper on my map (which is of NYC... #dreams), it's a list of recommended writers that my major advisor put together for all the writers in my class. She said we should all try to read as many of them as we can over the summer, so we can speak a common language about each other's writing styles. I may be super nerdy, but I absolutely love that. 
If you have any questions about the writers on this list, or want my personal recommendations (or have anything at all to say), leave a comment in the box below! :)


Friday, July 4, 2014

Stars & Stripes & Sales

The Fourth of July is finally here! This is my first time celebrating the fourth in a city that isn't my hometown (and on my own) so I'm pretty psyched! Nostalgic, yes, and I miss my family, but it's sometimes really nice to do something on your own. I already have my outfit and accessories all planned out -- thanks to some killer sales going on right now!

Right now you get an additional 40% off the ALREADY On-Sale items at J. Crew. If you needed an excuse to splurge, this is it. I picked up a light blue stripe boatneck (similar here), and I'm already in love with it. 

Kate Spade's Independence Day sale is another great one -- you get to take 25% off the lowest marked price on ALL sale items! Dream come true. 

These are just a few of the great sales going on right now -- check them out for yourself, and if you find any other great ones, let me know in the comments box below! Happy Fourth, loves: have fun, be safe, and dress cute! 


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Sort Out Your Life (Over Coffee)

Despite the fact that it’s summer, and this English major isn’t taking ANY summer classes, I’m still incredibly busy. Whether I’m working at my campus bookstore, working out at my gym, running errands, or simply taking the time to write (which I should do a lot more of), it feels like I’m always running. So, since I had the day off today, I decided to take a few minutes [read: hours] and attempt to sort out my life — with the help of a Venti Iced Mocha, of course.
If you, like me, are struggling to keep up with your to-do lists, here are a few things that have helped me to knock out all that bothersome busy work in a timely manner.

ZZZs, please!
I know that this should be common sense, but let’s face it — it just isn’t anymore. Your body needs eight hours to function properly, and anything less than that on a daily basis can lead to numerous health problems, as well as decreased concentration and a generally lower energy level.

My favorites are here and here, but really anything with a weekly format and room to write out all your obligations will work. Try color-coding — it always helps me to remember what I have coming up, and it makes your tasks look more appealing!

Lists, Lists, Lists
Always, always, always be making lists — grocery shopping, to-dos, even just things that make you happy! I find that it keeps me sane to have everything out there on paper, and you just might, too!
These are just a few of the things that help me to keep on keeping on, and they’re pretty basic, but I hope they help!
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