Thursday, June 22, 2017

Summer Planning With Lauren James

It is no secret that I love a good planner. To-do lists, scheduling, and having everything together in one place is oh so satisfying to me. My friends will tell you that they didn't know it was possible for one person to have so many planners. I am guilty of wanting to try them all and think I am well on my way to be classified as a planner expert. 


This month I've been trying out a new one that I am excited to share with y'all from Lauren James. Meet the Timeless Planner. You may remember this brand from this post and this one and if you remember how much I loved those tops you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that the brand came out with their own line of paper goods. While the spiraling and size may look familiar to some other planners on the market there were a number of features that this planner had to offer that I had not seen before in my other ones. Before I get into those details I do want to specify a couple of things. This is a planner that I will more than likely use for blogging and social media brainstorming however, for the sake of this post I went ahead and filled out what this week looked like for me since I wanted to show y'all how it could be arranged for academic purposes although I left the month section arranged for blog post topics. 



Features I Really Liked:

The Meal Planner - Now that I am cooking myself every meal (talk about an adjustment) I am loving the meal planner aspect of this planner. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph it but it takes up about half of a page and allows you space to write down what you plan to have for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even a snack each day. Filling this out at the beginning of the week before or after grocery shopping encourages adding a bit of variety to your meals and makes meal prepping easy! 

The Water Tracker - This was a feature that  I didn't expect to love as much as I do. With eight water drops drawn on each day that you can check off or color in you will definitely feel encouraged to get your full 8 cups. 

The Monthly Goals Section - I love setting goals. It kind of goes hand in hand with making to do lists I think. Having a section each month to set any goals you may have is really encouraging and helps to keep them at the forefront of your plans (quite literally). 

The Workout Section - While this is a small area to write down your workout for the day I feel like it is really useful. I feel kind of guilty when I don't have a workout written down for a couple of days so putting it in my planner holds me accountable. If you have super detailed workouts it is unlikely that you'll be able to fit all that you want to do in that box but it is perfect for me to write the time of my barre class in! 

That The Planner Lasts A Full Year No Matter When You Start It - This is really handy. Sometimes it can be such a bummer to get so excited about a planner and then have to wait to start using it. June was my first full month to test it out which isn't a month that planners typically start so this feature was extra helpful for me. 




Features that Took Some Getting Used To: 

Not Having The Dates Written On The Monthly & Weekly Sections - This was a little strange to me at first but completely makes sense given the Timeless features of the planner. On the monthly calendar I had to refer to my phone so I could write the dates into each box. I didn't write the dates on the weekly section since I figured I could refer to the monthly overview. This will take some getting used to but doesn't take long to add in yourself. 

Not Having A Time Slots On Each Day - A number of the other planners I have include time slots from 5:00 to 9:00 each day so this planner having a blank box was almost intimidating at first. I found myself still writing down what I needed to do chronologically in the box and even included times. I think this would be better used as a daily to do list with one or two major things you may have going on written down. 

All in all I really like Lauren James' Timeless Planner. There are three different covers to choose from  and the customizable aspects of this planner allow you to personalize it for your own planning needs which is really cool. I'd love to hear what you think and hope your Thursday is off to a great start.

This post was created in partnership with Lauren James. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Prep In Your Step possible.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Your Guide to Fairhope, Alabama

Happy official first day of summer! With that reality I am bringing you a post I've been excited for for a while. I've been working on it for the past month or so and am ecstatic to have it finally going live. I've never really specified where exactly my hometown is despite being attached to all it has to offer. After sharing my Greenville guide last summer I knew that I needed to do something similar for my hometown. So, drumroll please...here is your complete guide to FAIRHOPE, ALABAMA! 

If you've never heard of Fairhope then I would recommend flipping through Coastal Living or Southern Living next time you're waiting in line at the grocery store. It is a picture-esque small town nestled on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay and I am so glad to have it as my "home base." So now it's my turn to share all of my favorites with y'all. Warning: after reading this post you may find yourself packing up and planning your trip. You can thank me later! 



I've set up this post up by sharing some of my go-to locations around town, a little about them, and what makes these places worth a stop. From where to stay to keeping up with your fitness after eating your way through town I hope this makes your experience (or even imaginary vacation) in Fairhope that much more fun! 


Places To Stay:

The Grand Hotel - While the Grand Hotel is technically in Point Clear it's a beautiful resort right on the bay. With old live oaks and a beautiful garden it's the epitome of southern charm. Don't miss their Sunday brunch or a dip in the pool (where I grew up going as a child) while you're there! 

Little Point Clear - This is a newer event space with the prettiest rooms to rent. It seems more bed and breakfast-y but much, much more modern! Everything about the building is so inviting with a beachy twist. 

The Hampton Inn Downtown - This is probably the most conveniently located of places to stay during your visit. In the heart of downtown Fairhope you'll be a short walk to all the great restaurants and shops and will only be a few blocks from the Fairhope Pier as well. 







Activities:

Visit the Fairhope Pier - Located pretty close to downtown, this is the perfect place to watch the sun set over the bay or go for a walk. With beaches and a grassy area as well as the long pier I'm not sure it could be a trip to Fairhope without a stop here. 

Wander Around Downtown Fairhope - This will be a no brainer once you continue reading about my favorite shops and restaurants! While downtown is pretty small there is a lot to offer! 

Go On A Bike Ride - The Fairhope Store, located downtown, rents out bikes so you won't even need to worry about bringing your own to bike on the bluffs! With a view of the bay and hopefully a decent breeze this is a great way to take in the sites while staying active. 


Coffee:

The Coffee Loft - The Coffee Loft is my number one pick for Coffee in Fairhope. It's a European style coffee house and is definitely more bohemian than a lot of what Fairhope has to offer but it is so delicious! My go-to is their iced coffee or a #41 with mocha instead of heath which is a frozen blend of coffee. 

Refuge - Another great coffee stop downtown, this is a small coffee shop near the public library. The shop is relatively small but the coffee packs a punch and is delicious. 

Latte Da - Located within a book store, Page and Palette, this is the perfect place to grab some coffee while picking out a new book or meeting a local author.


Breakfast:

Warehouse Bakery - Oh my goodness, Warehouse Bakery has pretty much any breakfast you could want and a bakery case that will have you drooling. My go-to is their breakfast sandwich (on a croissant because it is a bakery after all) with egg, cheese, ham, and avocado. I think I'm going to have to experiment making this on my own! 

Soul Bowlz - If you're looking for a healthier breakfast Soul Bowl has colorful acai bowls and smoothies. 

Sweet Olive - Located within Windmill Market this is a quick place to grab something to go or eat outside before exploring the produce and groceries inside the market. 




Lunch:

Master Joe's - Delicious sushi and hibachi, Master joe's is where Nell picks to go when we are in Fairhope. It is so good although it can get pretty busy but is worth the wait. 

Panini Pete's - If you're as big of a fan of Diner's, Drive Ins, and Dives as my parents (I swear they have a standing date with Guy every Friday night...) then you may have heard of Panini Pete's before. This delicious spot has wonderful paninis, burgers, and home made chips and fries!

Bay Breeze Cafe - With a number of good sandwich spots in Fairhope this happens to be my favorite. I like to get half of a wrap (TBG) and half of a caesar salad and love that they give the option to get a bit of both! 



Dinner:

Camellia Grille - Admittedly, I've never actually been to Camellia Grille it is a crowd favorite if you're looking for a nicer restaurant. 

Pinzones - Pinzones is hard to miss downtown as it tends from one side of a block to another. This Italian restaurant has a cool ambiance with seating in different rooms and even outdoors! 

Sunset Grille - Sunset Grille definitely has the best view of any of the restaurants mentioned. Nestled in a marina with a toast to the sunset each night definitely get a seafood dish of some sort while you're here! I love their fish and chips especially since the chip portion involves sweet potatoes. 

McShary's - This is more of an Irish bar but their menu is pretty delicious as well. Often times they have live music outside and I love their buffalo chicken wrap!







Shopping:

The Fairhope Store - I just know y'all are going to fall in love with Fairhope that you won't be able to leave without a souvenir of some sort. The Fairhope store has the best t-shirts, tumblers, and sweatshirts to serve as a memento of your trip. 

Living Well - Living Well embodies its name. The prettiest store for home decor, furnishing, and gifts  everything in the shop looks as if it came directly from your wish list on pinterest. The owner of the shop lives in my neighborhood and I've babysat for her girls for years so it has been so fun to see this idea become a reality. 

CK Collection - Definitely on the pricy side of shops I like venturing in to CK Collection for a bit of inspiration. If you have an event to dress for this is the place to go with a wonderful shoe and cocktail dress selection. 

Sway - Sway has trendier pieces at a more reasonable price. I've found so many cute tops and dresses worth trying on there and the extensive jewelry selection they have ensures that you'll find the perfect accessories too. 

Sadie's - Sadie's is sort of similar to Sway with some slightly more expensive pieces. If you're in the market for a good pair of jeans this is a good go-to. I also love how they organize a lot of their pieces by color since that's what I do in my own closet. 

7 South - This is a newer store located right next to Sadie's. They have pieces perfect for taking your workout attire to errand attire and all of their pieces look so incredibly soft. From leggings to comfy shorts and tops this is the perfect stop for your athleisure attire. 

Shoefly - Shoefly is a shoe store with lots of great brands and a helpful staff. Between my mother and myself we have a lot of Shoefly shoes. The store also has some unique local jewelry and art hanging around so be sure to stop in! 



Snacks:

Mr. Gene's Beans - You really can't leave Fairhope without stopping at Mr. Gene's Beans for a Fairhope Float. This is the perfect place to get your ice cream fix after realizing just how hot and humid Fairhope can be! 

Frios - Frios is located within Windmill Market and sells a number of delicious flavored popsicles. I've never had a flavor that I disliked and they even give you a holder so that your popsicle doesn't melt all over you. 

Fairhope Chocolate Shoppe - Tucked into Fairhope's French Quarter the Fairhope Chocolate Shoppe is the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth. With a number of unique combinations as well as more traditional ones this melt in your mouth chocolate would be the perfect afternoon treat. If you decide to take some with you from the shop be sure to keep it cool otherwise you may end up with some chocolate syrup. 

Andres - Andres has a little bit of everything. It is a wine and cheese store with a restaurant and an incredible bakery case. My personal favorite is their brownies with caramel on top! 





Fitness:

Soul Shine Yoga - While I've never tried this out I have a number of friends who love this yoga studio. The outside area of it is cool and inviting and it is a short walk to Soul Bowlz and Windmill Market if you need something to eat after! 

Pro Cycle and Tri - If my dad isn't at home or at his office I can pretty much guarantee he is at Pro Cycle and Tri with the owners, Katie and Joseph. Hanging out at this bike shop may as well be his part time job. while Pro Cycle and Tri has a number of triathlon and mountain bikes they also have plenty of cruiser bikes (more my speed) and biking accessories. You won't be able to miss their bright blue wall and don't be alarmed by the shop dog, Mr. Frank. He is probably only barking because he is afraid of bikes.

Running Wild - You'll notice that Fairhope is a pretty active community so if you're hoping to partake and go for a walk or run but need some new gear Running Wild can help you with that. With apparel perfect for beating the heat you'll be set to go and they do a wonderful job of recommending athletic shoes for your specific needs.

And to make your life easier, I've put all of my suggestions in one image for you. If you happen to be heading to my sweet little hometown then be sure to print this (or screenshot it) so that you can make the most of your experience! 


So there you have it, some of the many reasons I love my hometown! If you are considering a trip to Fairhope and have any questions don't hesitate to ask as I'd love to be the one to offer you that southern hospitality that you're sure to find on your trip! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Gearing Up For Grad School With PB Teen {What's In My Backpack + Lunchbox}

In all honesty, after graduating college I didn't know when would be the next time that I would actually use a backpack to carry my school supplies. This past semester when I only had class in January and all of my friends started carrying their tote bags to class I stayed true to my backpack since it is so much more comfortable to carry. Hands free means you can carry two coffees, right? Then when our student teaching schools were on spring break and we were back on campus for class of our own I was excited to finally carry my backpack again and socialize in the library (I'm a closeted nerd...). 

Now, fast forward to grad school again. While opting to take a tote bag to class may make it so that someone doesn't ask me if I'm a freshman looking for orientation, I am glad to still have a chance to wear my backpack. I know every school is different when it comes to what most students carry and I would definitely claim Furman as a backpack school. While tote bags for all your stuff aren't extinct I'd like to think we are all looking out for our backs and are also not masters when it comes to figuring out how to fit all of the stuff we need in one single tote. 



North face seemed to be everyone's go to in college but when given the opportunity to pick out a new backpack from PB Teen I knew I wanted something that was slightly less sporty and was versatile enough to use as an outfit accessory especially when traveling. I opted for the Northfield Mint Stripe Backpack as I was immediately drawn to the color and relaxed style. The light brown trim almost adds a beach vibe and the number of pockets both on the inside and the outside are practical and not overwhelming like some brands. When I got it in the mail I knew I hit the grad school backpack jackpot. 



One feature that I didn't even realize it had when I initially picked it out was the laptop sleeve. I've had the same laptop for about five years and with one new hard drive later I'd like it to last as long as possible. Having a cushioned place to put it when I'm packing up is reassuring. In front of that sleeve is another pocket that I've been utilizing for my charger. With class from 9:00-4:00 it's unlikely that my computer would make it through on one try and I'm not willing to test that so every morning I loosely wrap my charger up (don't wrap it too tight since that's how my last 2 have broken) and place it in that pocket for later use. As for the front pocket, I tend to keep that empty unless I decide to bring a water bottle and a coffee cup and then that's where a snack goes. The interior front pockets are perfect for my keys, chapstick, pens and pencils, and sticky notes. Often those kinds of things can end up at the bottom of your backpack only to resurface on the occasional clean out you may do so having specific pockets for them helps me to make sure that I'm keeping the bottom clean. 




The two large cup holders on the side of the backpack make it easy for me to be hands free when walking to class given that I have a place for my coffee cup and water bottle. Since I do sit in class for so long it would be a real bummer to forget those things and placing them in the pockets helps me to not forget them in the car in the morning. These cup holders are also taller than some other ones which keeps your drink cup secure and in place! 

As for the rest of the contents of my bag I pack the essentials. My Day Designer is a no brainer since that's how I organize my assignments, my notebook for my classes, and as a lover of files, a good file folder or two to hold the checklist I've made of all of my assignments. Depending on the class, I'll also bring a binder and am sure to have a pencil pouch with highlighters and the like to take notes and annotate my readings. I rarely go anywhere without a snack so you can bet despite bringing a lunch box I like to keep a snack of some sort in the bag. And aside from that there's usually a children's book or two since I am an education major after all. 



Despite the eye rolls your friends may send in your direction, you are never too old for a cute lunchbox. While sometimes I'm lazy and opt for a lulu lemon tote that doesn't do the best job at keeping my food organized and cold. It is however nice to have in case I revert to my elementary school tendencies and accidentally forget to bring home my lunch box. But in reality, this Classic Lunch Bag in Pool Gingham has become my go-to. The structured style and zipper compartments leave room for me to bring silverware (if I remember) and are spacious enough to carry even the largest of my leftovers. While no two days may be identical when it comes to packing my lunch *they do say variety is the spice of life) I have become a lover of leftovers and a big fan of wraps. I'd be lying if I said that I really enjoy packing my lunch but having a place to put everything neatly and be able to quickly grab as I head out the door is handy. 



While I unfortunately don't have photos of all of these lunch box ideas in action I figured it could be helpful to share some of my favorite things to pack in case you're looking for some inspiration. 

Leftovers: Today, I am taking some chicken and sweet potatoes that I made last night as my lunch. When I am cooking I like to make sure I make enough to get at least two meals from it. I also included a small side salad (aka kale and dressing) to have as well. 

The favorites include making bowls with ground chicken/turkey, quinoa/brown rice, black beans, cheese, salsa, and avocados. This is a great leftover item to have as well since it packs a lot of flavor in a single dish.

Wraps: My go-to while student teaching was always a wrap. I start by taking a whole wheat tortilla and spreading my favorite hummus (Roots Roasted Red Pepper) on it. Then, I put down some spinach leaves and a few slices of turkey. I finish it off with a little bit of chopped avocado and am sure to pack some hummus and nut thins with me as a side. 

Salads: Salads are another easy one for those moments when I don't have a lot of time to make something and don't have leftovers on hand. My favorite lettuces are kale, spinach, or arugula so I usually have one of those with some chicken. I buy Trader Joe's fully cooked frozen chicken strips for this very purpose. I'll heat up what looks like a reasonable amount in the microwave in the morning and place it on top of the lettuce before tucking it into my lunch. I like to keep the dressing on the side until it's time to eat and usually will bring some parmesan crisps to serve as croutons.


I am always looking for good lunchbox ideas so if you have any suggestions I am all ears! As for the other items inside of my lunchbox, you can usually find some Pirate Booty, almonds, and a granola bar (and if I'm lucky the silverware I seem to always forget).

Items Shown:

backpack (c/o) // lunchbox (c/o) // shirt // shorts // watch (c/o) // bracelets ( 1 & 2 )

This post was created in partnership with PB Teen. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Prep In Your Step possible.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Step Into My Week

Happy Monday y'all! I am trying to take that attitude since I am halfway done with my first session of grad school! I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't counting down the days for this session to wrap up although I suspect it will still feel like a long road ahead. The work has been constant and a lot of our assignments feel kind of like busy work and I'm coming to realize that I really don't want to be a preschool teacher (although I do like kindergarten and first graders so at least it isn't a total waste). For those of you who don't know, my undergraduate degree is in Elementary Education from Furman and I am currently getting my masters in Early Childhood Education from there as well. The program lasts a little over a year so I'll be officially done with school come August 2018! 

mug // pajamas 

On Monday's and Friday's instead of having class we have field work where I am in a two year old classroom and a four year old classroom. Most of the assignments I have for classes are projects where we have to plan out detailed lessons, implement them, and then write a reflection and answer questions based on our readings. This morning as I write this post (since instead of blogging I did homework all weekend) I only have 3 more times to go to the school I am at which is a bit of a relief. I go for 6 hours at a time and am so busy while I'm there that I'd almost rather sit through class.


While I wish I had some really fun updates for y'all school has been consuming most of my time. I made it a point to make it to a number of barre 3 classes this week which has been a good way to relieve some stress and get back in shape (I worked out maybe once while I was home in May, oops...). I have been super sore from that but I think my body is finally getting used to it so hopefully I can keep up that routine this week as well. I've also decided that once a week I am going to go to the 6am class (which I did this past week) so that I am able to have my entire afternoon free.


My apartment didn't make as much progress this week as I would have liked. I am still waiting for my headboard which I think will finally start to make it feel a little bit more complete. I was so excited because on Friday my nightstand came in but unfortunately it is damaged so I am going to have to deal with the hassle that is figuring out how to get it back in its box and returned (talk about frustrating). I really love the way it looks so it's a little annoying that I can't start filling the drawers and organizing items on the top. I did however, organize my earrings on my dresser and loved the way this $11 earring holder made them all look so decorative and ready to wear! 



I'll be sharing more on these cute pieces soon but wanted to make sure y'all knew just how cute so many of the new arrivals at H&M are! So much blue and white, ruffles, and bows! I linked a bunch of my favorites on instagram with this photo. 

tank (also in white) // skort // top

Lastly, I finally decided that despite it being a short trip I definitely want to go home and go to the beach for the fourth of July. Originally we were supposed to be finished with class on the 28th or 29th but my teacher so kindly scheduled our final to be on the 30th. My next session of classes starts on the 5th so it will be a quick turn around but hopefully it will be worth the trip! 


In case you missed last week's posts here is what went live:


Also, if anyone wants to take the random spurts of rain we've been getting in Greenville then be my guest! Yesterday my roommate and I were shooting some pictures for a post this week and it suddenly started pouring on us and the same thing happened when I was at dinner with a friend on Friday! So bizarre! 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wedding & Party Ready With Anna Cate Collection

When I was finally going through and organizing my closet the other day I realized just how much I love dresses. It seemed like I kept coming across more and more of them and by the end of my organization process I realized just how many I actually have. While that's fine and dandy I noticed a trend with my dresses, they were pretty much all casual dresses or teacher dresses that I wear during the school year. While I have a few nice dresses from sorority formals and other similar events I felt like a lot of those have been worn on repeat and weren't as fit for spring and summer as I wished they were. 

Instagram is just about the best marketing ever considering that is my go-to way of finding cool new brands to share with you. And instagram is exactly how I discovered the brand Anna Cate Collection. After scrolling through their feed and looking on their site I couldn't get over how cute their pieces were. Then some of my favorite boutiques started to carry the brand and it was like social media was mocking me and my new found obsession. Conveniently enough Anna Cate Collection was in contact with me about sharing their clothes with me to try out and I can confidently say the brand is even better in person.

Since I came to realize my lack of more cocktail party worthy dresses I opted for their Jacqueline Dress in the Garden Proper Print. This print is definitely bold enough to make a statement but not too bold to drown out the other adorable details of this dress. I'm usually not one for cut outs on dresses (I had a strict no cut outs and no sequins rule when it came to my prom dresses) but this dress was an exception considering that was part of the reasons I was drawn to it to begin with. The cutouts are tasteful and balanced by a more traditional neckline and straps but the fun doesn't end there. The hem of this dress was equally as fun with its layered look and varied length. This is a sure fire example of details making a difference! While I know this dress will look perfect with nude heels for more formal occasions I loved the way it looked with my favorite nude wedges and every day jewelry. Another perk of Anna Cate Collection is the fact that I knew that no matter where I wear this it is sure to make a statement without being overwhelming or the same thing everyone else has on! This is one of those dresses that I know I'll be excited to reach for for a variety of different occasions. As for sizing I would definitely recommend getting your typical dress size (size down if you're between two sizes) as that makes the cutouts that much more perfect. If you're not convinced yet then good luck scrolling through these pictures and not wishing you had an occasion to wear this ensemble stat! 









dress (c/o) // wedges // watch (c/o) // bracelets ( 1 & 2 ) // rose gold bracelet

If you haven't checked out Anna Cate Collection yet I can't recommend their quality and designs enough and I can not wait to see the pieces they will be releasing in the coming months! 

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