Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Back To School/Work Clothing Finds

Growing up, back to school shopping didn’t mean a big back to school clothing venture since I was lucky enough to have uniforms. Yep, you read that right, I felt lucky and loved my uniform. It made life so much easier in the morning knowing that I didn’t have to think twice about what I put on and instead reached for my plaid uniform skirt, button-down, and bucks. Quite honestly, the hardest decision that had to be made was whether or not I wanted to wear my hair up or down and if I would wear short or tall socks. We even had practice uniforms for soccer (not cross country though) so even packing my bag for that was EASY. Heading off to college was the first time I had the freedom to wear whatever I wanted each day, and while that felt nice for a while, it made me appreciate growing up with a uniform that much more. 


My love of uniforms aside, I know that this time of year is when a lot of you may be hoping to update your wardrobes with versatile pieces that are school or work appropriate. I decided to put together a collection of cute pieces that would be great to have on hand as you adjust to early mornings while getting back into a routine. It’s safe to say that muted tones and animal prints are going to be popular this year since so many of the new arrivals I found could fit into those categories. I did my best to include more affordable pieces (most items are under $100) although some of the pieces come at a higher price tag since they are classics that are sure to be worn frequently. To shop the pieces d tones shown click directly on the item you’re interested in to be taken to where it can be shopped.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

August Q&A

Happy Tuesday! I’m still trying to wrap my head around how quickly August is progressing and couldn’t let it move any further along without posting my monthly Q&A. As usual, I took to Instagram to have y’ all ask me questions to be answered in this post, and you didn’t disappoint. There were a lot of creative questions this round that hopefully y’ all enjoy reading my answers to! 



Q: Aside from meal prep, what do you do on a Sunday to get ready for the week?
I love this question so much that Thursday’s blog post is actually semi based around it. I like to use my Sunday’s to make sure I’m completely ready for the week ahead, which definitely means meal prepping lunches and dinners for the week. In addition to that, I try to get all of my laundry done and put away, do a general clean up of my room, pack my gym and work bags, and get in bed a little bit earlier than normal. 

Q: What’s your favorite skincare/beauty products of the moment?
If I had to choose one favorite product of the summer, it would undoubtedly be Coola’s Sunless Tan Serum. I wasn’t fully convinced it was working until multiple people told me that my face looked glowy and tan after I hadn’t been in the sun for a while. Now, whenever I am looking for a little extra color on my face without skipping the SPF, this is what I use. 

Q: What jacket/shawl do you wear inside the office? 
Our office is always FREEZING so I’m glad that this seems to be something other people deal with as well. My go-to summer jacket has been this white jean jacket, but I don’t always have it with me in the office. Most of the people I work with have blankets at their desk, and we all wrap up in them when it’s especially cold. I know it’s not chic or professional, but it’s cozy, and no one seems to mind. I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions on this though! 

Q: How do you keep yourself so well disciplined between blogging/gym/balanced diet? 
I feel lucky to be pretty good at time management. It took time to develop the skill but since I always had to work hard to get grades, liked the opportunity to be involved with clubs and sports, and took up blogging at a young(ish) age I had to learn how to balance it all. What has worked most effectively for me is using my planner to visually block off the time I have for different things. I typically have it written into the time slots of my day when I will be at work, when I’ll be working out after work, and then the time I’ll have at the end of the day to do other tasks. Knowing what my week is going to look at in advance helps to motivate me to get ahead on the weekend so that social activities don’t have to suffer and neither does my work.

When it comes to working out and eating relatively well, that also is something I find to be easier to do when I plan ahead. I try to cook all of my meals for the week on Sunday and stick to relatively healthy recipes. I know that I’ll probably be too lazy at night to cook something else so I, in turn, reach for the healthy meal I already made once I get home from the gym. My take is everything (well most things) in moderation so if I want to eat something unhealthy or skip a workout then that’s fine too.

Q: How do you organize/schedule blog posts?
I’m old school and will always gravitate toward a paper planner or calendar. I’ve gotten into the habit of printing out monthly calendars and filling them in with my post ideas for about a month out. While not all of those will be posted, it’s nice to have a game plan so that when I do have time to sit down and write I’m not at a loss for ideas. I write out all of my posts in word (the ideal would be to be working at least a week ahead, but that doesn’t always happen) and then schedule them into the platform. I also try to work ahead on the photos I need so that I don’t have to worry about that the night before and instead am set with photos for the blog and social in advance.

Q: What’s your hidden talent?
I always joke that if I ever had to do something that involved a stage talent, I wouldn’t be able to do it because I don’t have one. I’m not musically inclined in the slightest, and while I was good at soccer in high school I’m a bit rusty now, and that’s not something that could be done on a stage. If I had to come up with a hidden talent, I’d say making guacamole which is really lame and wouldn’t be entertaining to others unless they got to eat it. I’ll keep brainstorming on this for y’ all though. 

Q: What has been your favorite blog collaboration?
This is a tough one. I only accept collaborations that I’m really excited about and see a good fit for so I feel like any of them could be the answer. A few that I was particularly excited for and enjoyed working on include: PB Teen, Michele Watches, Walmart, Barbour (and this one), and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. 

Q: What’s your favorite mascara? 
I love L’oreal’s Lash Paradise mascara and haven’t tried anything else since my friend Ellison (whose mascara always looks amazing) introduced me to it over a year ago. 

Q: What are your best productivity tips for school?
Is it nerdy to say that sometimes I miss being a student? When it comes to being productive, I think the best things you can do is to find a place where you know you work well and go there to get your assignments done. Put your phone far away (or on do not disturb) and go at a time when you know you’re focused. Setting yourself up to be productive is essential when you’re hoping to actually get things done, and while I know there are more fun things to be doing than work, eliminating distractions will help you to finish things more efficiently. 

Q: Any dating updates? Do you use dating apps? 
It never fails for me to get multiple questions on this topic for monthly Q&As. I think I addressed it back in this post, but while I do share a lot of my life with y’ all there are some aspects that I don’t feel the need to dive into quite as often. Dating is one of those topics since it involves another person. I’ve mentioned it before, but if you consistently read Step Into My Week posts it probably isn’t too tricky to pick up on when I’ve gone on dates (hint: dinner with a friend when the friend isn’t specified by name is a good tip-off…) I’m not encouraging you to read between the lines in an attempt to make something out of nothing, but I’m also not trying to keep y’ all entirely out of the loop. In general, I am a very private person. Even my parents and friends have to essentially pry information about dates out of me. I have a select few friends who get the full run down and even then, they have to ask questions to get answers, so I promise it’s not just y’ all! 

This summer has been a lot of fun, and I feel like I’ve met some great new people, which is awesome. I’m not saying that I am necessarily going to date any of them, but I have been on some dates. I take a long time to make a decision and am not interested in rushing into something. Right now, I’m more focused on friends and having a good time, so if something happens great and if something doesn’t, that’s also great. I feel lucky to be surrounded by such awesome groups of friends and have been having a blast, especially this summer, so I’m happy to say dating or not I’m very happy with where I’m at. To address the dating app part of the question, no, I am not on any dating apps and haven’t been. I would prefer to meet someone more organically but am not really seeking it out, so I don’t feel the need to be on them, but that’s personal preference. All in all, I am very content with where I’m at!  

Q: Do you find it is easier to work out in the morning or after work?
I find it easier to work out after work only because I get to work at 7:00 and having time to get in a good workout, shower and get ready, and make it to work on time is nearly impossible. I do love that on Friday mornings I don’t have to be at work until 8:00 so I can get in an earlier workout then. I wish I could always get in a workout before work but think that going straight from the office to the gym is a great way to decompress and unwind after being at the office! 

Q: What are your favorite places to shop for cute work, affordable clothes?
I’m all about finding deals on cute clothing, especially those items that are worn to work. I have found the best place to find pieces that fit this bill are Old Navy, H&M, Target, Amazon (specifically this brand), Mango, Tuckernuck (can be a bit pricier but has good sales), and Nordstrom.

Q: Any tips for styling to make an outfit cute but still professional for work?
I’m lucky given that my office’s dress code is pretty casual. I’ve never had to invest in an overly professional wardrobe for a business setting and am not sure if I ever will. There are some days where I dress up more than others and a lot of times I am opting for basic pieces with a fun accessory such as earrings or a silk scarf. I think shoes are another great way to mix things up and love this leopard pair! 

Q: Do you miss teaching?
Nope. 

Q: How do you like your Dapper Desk planner? Would you still recommend it? 
I really like it! It looks more professional than my Day Designer and still has many of the same features. I think I’ll have a hard time choosing between another Dapper Desk or going back to a Day Designer come January but will definitely keep y’ all updated. 

If you ever want to be included in the next month’s version of this Q&A, then be sure to follow along with me on Instagram and stay on the lookout for my question request in my stories. 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Step Into My Week 8.19

Thank goodness this past week went by much quicker than the last. I don’t know if everyone feels that way, but that’s how it felt for me. My to-do list for the past week was started on Wednesday, so maybe having a lot on my plate helped it to go by faster. I have a feeling I’ll continue to have a lengthy list as we continue to work on Christmas related content in the office and I prepare to plan ahead for a little bit of time off at the end of this month. 


I got to work on Monday anticipating a day that felt a little bit all over the place. I had time to do my normal post-weekend tasks first thing in the morning before a long meeting of product organizing and selecting for a shoot the following day. By the time we finished working on that, I had to take the products to our stylist, walk her through what we had decided, and unpack the last couple of items. I had lunch and then it was back to working on a piece I was writing before another meeting at 2:30. From there I had to go pick up a product from a store nearby for the shoot and made it back with about an hour to spare that afternoon. At that point, there were emails that needed to be responded to and copy to route. After work, I went to the Y to work out before coming home to shower, eat dinner, and watch tv. I honestly can’t remember if I did anything else that night so I’m guessing I just went to sleep. 


Tuesday was a shoot day, so I had a little bit of time in the office before needing to head to our location for the photoshoot. I had a meeting in the office at 10:00, so I ended up having to go back and forth for that. The shoot wrapped around 3:00, which gave me some time at my desk to work on things before a meeting with Lewis Barbecue in the office that afternoon. They brought a ton of the food they offer in their restaurants for our teams to try, and everyone was intrigued as soon as we smelled it on our way to the meeting. With a few minutes to spare after that, I went ahead and made my to-do list for the next day since I knew I’d be able to spend the whole day at my desk (a rare treat lately). From the office, I went to the Y to work out only to discover that I was a dummy and left my tennis shoes at home. This was a major inconvenience (I say that knowing that if that’s the worst thing that happened today, then I’m doing pretty well) given that I didn’t want to go home to get them and then drive back to the gym. Instead, keeping with the dummy trend, I decided to go for a run outside. Mind you we have had heat index warnings all week, and the temperature out was 95 degrees but felt like 104 according to the Weather Channel. Somehow, I managed to survive four miles of that brutality probably due to the heat somehow killing brain cells and made it back to my house a hot and sweaty mess. By the time I had cooled down and showered, I was finally hungry for something other than water and a popsicle and made dinner. I did some blog work before getting in bed to read. 


 
  
On Wednesday, I finally submitted another story I was working on, which felt like a relief. On top of that, I pulled lots of photos for social posts, worked on product requests, scheduled social media posts, and worked on putting together some complimentary copies for upcoming issues. While that doesn’t seem like a ton, it somehow took up most of my workday. I had learned my lesson from the day before and fortunately remembered my tennis shoes at the gym and was able to work out in the presence of air conditioning, which felt heavenly after the heat the day before. After work, I went home, showered, made dinner, and joined my roommate to watch Friends. We both got in bed early that night where I finished working on a few behind the scenes blog tasks before turning my light out. 


I had another day at my desk on Thursday and felt productive but not quite as much so as the previous days. I had to work on a binder in the morning and create resources for it, which took some time but felt good to get done. I continued to work on product outreach, photo editing, and product returns in the afternoon. After work, I went home to change for a walk with my roommate to Taco Mama in Crestline to meet one of our Furman friends for dinner. We somehow got an amazing deal on our meal and sat catching up for a while. Our friend drove us home, and somehow on that drive, we convinced him to mount the TV that has been sitting on our floor for a year. It took a quick Walmart trip for washers, but he made it look easy, and we were genuinely speechless since we’ve wanted to get it hung up for so long. Once we get the cords organized and a piece to put underneath it, I feel like our living room will be complete and I can share it with y’all! He left around 9:15 and while we would’ve liked to enjoy the new set up both opted to shower and go to bed instead. 


Friday morning, I slept in about an hour later than normal before getting ready for work and heading to Starbucks on my way. I was able to organize some of my posts for the coming month and respond to some very overdue emails before arriving at the office at 8:00. I worked on some copy and other tasks that I hadn’t gotten to earlier in the week and went ahead and started my to-do list for the next week. I left work at noon and headed home to eat lunch and package up some returns I had before deciding to go to the pool to read for a bit. Two hours and half a book later I went back home to shower, read some more, and get ready to meet a group of friends at Freddy’s Wine Bar that evening. It is restaurant week in Birmingham, which means a lot of places have had really good deals on food and drinks. We ended up splitting a few bottles of wine, a charcuterie board, and getting a few other small bites to enjoy while hanging out together. One of our friends had a wedding to attend the following night and convinced us to go hang out with the people he knew in town for that at the bar at the Grand Bohemian in Mountain Brook. After staying there for about an hour, a smaller group of us decided to venture to the Lakeshore area to go to Moe’s, a popular bar there. They had a band playing, which made it more fun than usual. A few of us went to another bar called Tin Roof in the area for a little bit before opting to call it a night and head home. 


Saturday morning, I slept in and had a lazy morning before showering and working on blog work for some approaching deadlines I have. After eating lunch at home and sitting at my desk for a while I went to Target to pick up some supplies for an upcoming post and then went over to my friend Macy’s house to watch SVU and have a cup of coffee with she and her roommates and her friend (I feel like I get to say our friend now though after getting to spend so much time with her this summer), Maggie. We made a game plan for the evening since we were all going to a concert together later that night. I went home to get some other stuff done before it was time to get ready and meet up with them at Carrigan’s downtown. We ordered dinner and a few drinks and were able to sit outside before eventually heading to Avondale Brewing for the Dirty Guv’nahs concert. I was surprised by how many people I knew there and the number of people there in general. We worked our way to the mid-front to watch the show, which was incredible despite how hot it was standing outside. We came back to my house briefly before meeting up with some of our guy friends at Moe’s afterward. I couldn’t tell you the last time I went to Moe’s three times in one month let alone three times in total in the span of the past two weekends. We stayed there for about an hour before calling it a night and heading home. 


 


 



I must’ve been tired given that I slept in later than I have in a while on Sunday before getting ready and heading to church. After church, I went to Trader Joe’s and Publix to stock up on groceries for the week. I had lunch at home and put some chicken in the crockpot for salads this week and headed to Starbucks to work on blog posts. I stayed there until around 3:30 and then went home to work on blog photos while hoping the weather would cool off to go for a walk and catch up with friends on the phone. After getting back from my walk, I showered and cooked food to have for the week. I put away my laundry and continued to be productive while my roommate and I watched TV before going to bed. 

This past week, specifically the weekend, was one of those times where I felt reminded of just how much of the “right” decision moving to Birmingham and doing something aside from teaching was. It’s always nice to feel reassured about big decisions on occasion, and I’m definitely feeling very content as of late. 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Tips For Your First Day Of A New Job

This time of year tends to come with lots of new beginnings. If you’re heading back to school, that means new classes, potentially a new living space, and more. But, for those of you that aren’t in school, it may also mean a new job and all that is to learn there. I’m feeling extra thankful this year that I’m not in the midst of a move and a job hunt and am instead getting to feel relatively settled in all that I’m doing. However, last year at this time I was preparing to start the job I currently have and thought it could be helpful to share some of my tips for that first day for any of you that may be in that position. 


Come Prepared
Maybe this is my love of new office supplies talking but packing your bag with a planner, notebook, pens, and anything else you may think you need will hopefully have you enter your new office with a bit more confidence. Since all jobs are different, it would be worth checking whether or not you need to bring your own computer or if your office supplies you with one and other logistics of the sort that hopefully, the HR manager has mentioned. Beyond the material items, come prepared on your first day to make a good impression. Put on an outfit you feel confident in (when you’re not sure of the dress code it’s better to overdress!) and arrive a few minutes early. 

Pack Your Lunch
As a planner, I was dead set on packing my lunch the night before I began my first day of work. I had packed a meal I was excited for, and it wasn’t until my hour-long lunch break came around that I realized I left it at home. Talk about a bummer. That day for lunch, I had to figure out what was actually close to our office and ended up eating McDonald’s in my car alone. It’s a funny story now but felt very anti-social at the time. Company culture is going to vary from place to place but packing a lunch will have you prepared whether your co-workers are more likely to eat at the office during their break or head somewhere nearby. It’s an equal split where I work whether people stay or head home during their hour lunch break, but I’ve found that I was able to make friends at my office because I choose to pack my lunch and stay put. Whenever we have a new hire I try to make it a point to tell them that I usually eat lunch outside at 12:30 if they don’t have other plans and would like to join so that they don’t have to eat alone on their first day! 

Take Notes & Ask Questions 
Remember that notebook I mentioned? It’s sure to come in handy now. You’ll likely be trained for your role during your first couple of weeks and if it was anything like that time was for me you’ll discover there is a lot to learn. I’m an avid note tacker any way but especially when someone is explaining something to me one on one about how to be successful in my position. Since the person training you is probably pretty familiar with the information they are sharing (why else would they be training you) don’t be afraid to ask questions about things you may not understand! 

Make Your Space Feel Welcoming & Like Your Own
It took me until about a month in to finally bring in some items to make my cube look a little less sterile. When you spend so much time in a place, you may as well make it feel welcoming with your personal touch. I could use a few more items to spruce up my space but have found that pictures and bulletin boards covered in cute fabric have made it seem happier! 

Introduce Yourself To Co-Workers
On my first day, I was taken on a tour of our office, where I was briefly introduced to everyone who happened to be at their desk. Talk about overwhelming. Thankfully I had LinkedIn stalked the other members of my team, but aside from them, I didn’t remember many names. I was so grateful to discover that people’s nameplates had pictures so I knew I could depend on those as time went on but really appreciated the people that made it a point to re-introduce themselves during the first few weeks knowing that there was no way someone could remember everyone on that first day. In turn, I try to do the same for new hires with hopes that they will feel more comfortable having a familiar face around and a name to go with it! 

What other advice do y’ all have for people on their first day of work? I’d love to hear your ideas! 

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