Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Exciting Announcement: Check Out My Pottery Barn Dorm Catalogue Feature

So, I've been keeping a secret from y'all and now is officially the time to let the cat out of the bag. Blogging has led me to some really amazing opportunities but so far this is the highlight! Back in May I was contacted by a member Pbteen's social media marketing team asking if I was interested in being featured in their dorm catalogue to be released this summer. I distinctly remember that I was in the library studying for my Environmental Science final and it took all I had not too squeal when opening my email during that study break. Thank goodness in the email I was reassured that no this email was not an accident or typo because otherwise I would have sat in utter disbelief. I immediately responded to the email with an absolute YES and hurried outside to call my mom and dad and tell them the exciting news. 

I remember as a child sitting at our kitchen island whenever the newest pottery barn kids (or as I got older, teen) catalogue came in the mail, flagging pages of all the products I would love to redesign my room with. Although it was always imaginative it's probably a good thing my parents never allowed that to happen since once I was finished nearly every page was dog-eared with at least one item circled per page. 

It took all of my willpower to not spill this excitement on social media before it was released although I did hint at it a few times. Well, Sunday I saw the feature in person for the first time! For whatever reason the catalogue never came in the mail to my house so my mom and I ventured to the Pottery Barn store near us and were determined to get our hands on the catalogue for ourselves. The ladies in the store were probably so confused as to why we took about 5 copies a piece. I was super grateful that so many of y'all sent me pictures of the feature but there is just something about having it in person that makes it that much more real. 

They had asked me to put in my "expert advice" in regards to a dorm photo they styled and 3 other bloggers were featured as "experts" in the catalogue as well. The dorm room I focused on was filled to the brim with greek letters, preppy prints, and all things navy. What could be a more perfect design for me? While I don't think y'all want me to quote myself word for word (that would be a bit conceded) from the catalogue if you're interested in my commentary check out page 15 of the newest PB dorm catalogue. 

 Let me know if you've seen it, I would love to hear what you thought! And thanks for sticking around and reading Prep In Your Step. If it weren't for y'alls constant support this opportunity wouldn't have presented itself to me! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Day In My Life - Summer Edition

Y'all really seem to love when I do more personal posts on the blog and I love that it is a way for y'all to get to know me a bit better. I have done a "Day In My Life" post once before back at the beginning of this past school year and y'all seemed to like that so I thought it could be fun sharing a summer version. While a lot of people crave the care free ability to have no schedule in the summer I've always done so much better with a bit of routine. While there is a lot of flexibility in my summer schedule each day tends to progress in the same manner.

photograph via

This summer I am working as a nanny for a family in my area who have three kids. Y'all I wish I had a video camera following me around daily because the conversations I have with them are hysterical and I know y'all would be so entertained. They have been so much fun and will surely have me laughing all summer long not to mention that this is the perfect summer job for me since it still provides me with plenty of time to blog and create fun content for y'all! Definitely a best of both worlds since I am able to hang out with kiddos I adore and blog all summer long. 

As for my schedule with them it tends to vary and our activities are always changing. When nannying I am driving to and from swim lessons, dinosaur camp, tennis lessons, the pool, the library, the park, and their house depending on what we want to do on specific days so I didn't go hour by hour when I am with them since there is no typical day (one of the reasons it's so fun to work with kids). 

illustrations via my favorite print artist!

Are y'all like me with a love of routine or do y'all like to keep your summer schedule free?
I'd love to know! Happy Monday!

Friday, June 26, 2015

London Favorites : What to do in London

I know, I know y'all are probably tired of hearing me gush about my trip to Paris and London to kick off the summer. Well, sadly for me (and maybe fortunately for you) those posts are winding down. London was the last place we went while on our trip and sadly we only spent 4 days there. Even more sadly, each morning from 8:30 until 12:00 we were stuck in starbucks listening to each persons 20 minute project presentation. In retrospect this was poor planning on the teachers part (this was the first year this specific trip was done so now they know) as we didn't end up with much time to see and explore London. I left London disappointed that I hadn't seen any sights or monuments but that of course gives me the perfect excuse to go back.

Keep in mind the limited time and tight schedule which limited our explorations to classically british sights. With that being said I was able to do some fun things with the limited free time I had and because of that I have a few recommendations for y'all. If you are planning a trip to London any time soon please plan your trip so that you can see plenty of touristy attractions and sprinkle in my recommendations for a more well balanced trip.


- Sketch Tea Room - It is said that this is the most instagrammed tea room in London. I had seen Sketch as a recommendation from another blog and another girl on the trip also saw that it was a fun and girly tea room to visit while in London so we knew we had to make a trip. With multiple different rooms that are all themed we were lucky enough to reserve our spot in the precious pink gallery that made all of us feel like more mature versions of Eloise. While it is a bit pricey the tea was yummy as were all the tea sandwiches and sweets brought out on the cutest black and white china. I was tempted to sneak the tea pot out of the restaurant because it was just that cute! Also, while you're there you must take a trip to their bathroom which I know seems bizarre but the toilets are in little white pods that look like eggs.

-Ffionas - One of the best brunches I have ever had. This restaurant is absolutely adorable with even better service. Ffiona herself took our order and sat with us to chat a bit while we devoured our delicious meals. Super reasonably priced entrees (I got the French toast, amazing), sides for about a pound, and an array of freshly squeezed juices and coffees to complete your meal. I will recommend this to everyone heading to London as I am already ready to go back just to sit in this restaurant and enjoy its blue and white decor. There aren't too many tables so if you don't want to wait then call to make a reservation. 

 - Fish & Chip Shop - Fish and chips are a staple in London and this was a great place to enjoy them. I ordered the fish as they traditionally cooked it and my chips as truffle chips. Both were perfectly battered and fried and I was sure to save room for dessert. I ordered a toffee chocolate pudding dish that had brownies and ice cream in it, so good! 

- Gelupo - Supposedly the best gelato in London (as claimed by one of our teachers) and I would have to agree. I had a chocolate hazelnut and cinnamon combination that left my tastebuds spinning. They had so many unique flavors to choose from and we all left wanting more.

- Granger & Co - Ok, so I didn't actually go to this restaurant but I've heard so many people rave about it that I just had to include it! 


- Liberty London - A must see department store in London. Bright and fun floral prints on just about everything in this old Tudor styled building. I left with tons of great gifts for my friends and family (and myself). They also carry loads of other brands with rooms filled with everything from fabric to makeup and home decor to shoes and clothes. 

- Scribbler - The cutest stationery stores in London. These are scattered all over the city and I wanted to find an excuse to buy every single one of these cards! 


- High Society - A hysterical broadway type show focusing on family dynamics and marriage with plenty of music mixed in. We were all laughing throughout the entire performance with its wit and sets! The stage is so unique as it is in the center with seats all around. Definitely go see this show! 

- Notting Hill - My love for color isn't news to most of y'all and the doors and houses in this area had me gushing with their rainbow like exteriors. I was about ready to move into almost all of these houses and I couldn't help but think that Annie and Hallie were about to pop out of some of them (parent trap anyone?).

What were your favorite places to go in London?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Paris Favorites : What to do in Paris

So as I am sure most of y'all know, I was fortunate enough to get to spend two weeks in Paris at the beginning of this summer. What a treat it was! I had an incredible time and am already wishing I were back. All of those fabulous adjectives you've heard to describe Paris are 110% true and the city is an absolute must see if you're planning any sort of European excursion.

Being able to spend two weeks in any place is such an awesome experience and allowed me to really discover and get a feel for Paris. While I am never ready to leave when it is time to check your bags and hop on a plane I left Paris feeling confident in how to navigate it and content that I was able to see and experience so many amazing sites.  For my own memories and reference to anyone who may be fortunate to be heading to the City of Lights some time soon (please pack me away in your carry on) I have decided to put together a city guide of my favorite places I visited in Paris. While I wish I could say that I am an expert and could confidently plan out your future vacation since I've seen so much of the city I know that there are still hidden gems and areas that I was not able to visit on this trip that are just as noteworthy! That just gives me an excuse to go back, right?


Of course I have to start with what is most important, right? French cuisine is taken very seriously and so meals were always something to get excited about! Between endless crepes, macarons, ham and cheese (would you like that via quiche, sandwich, or crepe) going hungry wasn't exactly an option. Here are some of my food favorites including restaurants and places for sweet treats. Unfortunately I never did a really fancy 3 course Parisian meal but when I go back you know that will be at the top of my list! 

sweet treats 


- Angelina's - You absolutely must get their hot chocolate while in Paris. Their original location has the most beautiful decor and is worth the visit although you can find other smaller Angelina's set up at Versailles and other locations around the city. They also have delicious macarons and other pastries that are as pretty to look at as they are to eat.

-Berthillon - Arguably the best ice cream in Paris. Their flavors are very rich and distinct and be sure to grab plenty of napkins in you get a cone as we ended up with ice cream all over our faces. Yes, it is that good. I tried the traditional chocolate and salted caramel both of which I would recommend. 

-Cafe Pouchkine - Think gold dusted pastries that melt in your mouth and that is what Cafe Pouchkine has for you to indulge in. We just happened upon it and grabbed a few macarons (so delicious) and their chocolate caramel truffles and made it a point to go back for more.

- Laduree - What could be more French? Although the line can seem long (it moves fast I promise) visiting their stores throughout the city are a treat in and of themselves! With beautiful pastel decor and the biggest variety of flavors for macarons you can't go wrong with a trip to Laduree. Also, the Champs Elysee location has a bar that serves macaron cocktails which looked like such a fun experience although we didn't try them out.

real meals 
-Le Caveau de L'Isle - Great Prix Fix (price set) meal option! I had Onion soup and Salmon with Green Beans!

- Le Petite Prince Cafe - Another great Prix Fix dinner choice in a neat area. The restaurant is in an alley near other pretty restaurants and gave us the chance to explore another arrondissement.

-Welcome Cafe - Along the Rue de Rivoli and right down the street from Angelina this was the perfect sophisticated lunch spot to fill up to buffer our bodies from all the sugar we were preparing to consume. I had a delicious French (in Paris they obviously leave out the French in the name) Onion Soup and Chicken dish while visiting.

-Esmeralda - Ok, so this cafe isn't necessarily all that much tastier than other cafes you see scattered about the city but with an incredible location (right behind Notre Dame) and the cutest decor it was a winner in my book!



- Louis Vuitton Museum - Nope this isn't what you think! This is an incredible impressionist and modern art museum (with only 2 LVs to be seen). I loved exploring this museum, viewing recognizable art (think The Scream painting among others), and getting the chance to wander the surrounding area which contains the most amazing park!

- Picasso Museum - So much less crowded than other museums of its kind with art work spread out in the spacious building. I love that it was easy to maneuver and I find Picasso's work fascinating!

- Musee d'Orsay - Incredible architecture as this museum used to be an old train station (think Grand Central Station-esque). I most enjoyed my time on the fifth floor (impressionist with Monet's water lilies) and the 2nd floor. It is a pretty good museum so if you are aiming to see it all then be sure to carve out a big chunk of time. Also, we got the audio tours here which was kind of a waste since most pieces didn't offer an audio explanation. 


-the gardens at Versailles - I would almost skip the insanely crowded house and go straight to the Gardens. So much to see due to the monstrosity of its size with many fun activities (wooden boats, trains, zoo, and restaurants) scattered about. Be sure to go on a pretty day to fully take it in and put on comfortable walking shoes so that you're able to explore without blisters.

-Monet's house and gardens in Giverny - One of my favorite things I did on the trip although this is a train ride outside of Paris. Monet's gardens are magnificent and the surrounding area (Giverny) gives the French countryside village feel without having to travel too far. If you're going to see the gardens try to get there as early as possible since there will be fewer tourists in the background of your bound to be breathtaking photos.

-jardin des Tuileries - I spent a very brief time strolling through but loved the serene feel this park gave while still in the middle of the city. Grab a sandwich and pastry to make your own picnic as a break from wandering through. 



-Eiffel Tower - You're in Paris, you must see this! We went up to the top as the sun was setting and it was such a cool way to take in the city. Be sure to watch it sparkle at night for 5 minutes at the first of every hour from 10:00 on.

-Notre Dame- One of the highlights of my trip was climbing to the top for the views of the city. With such a rich history and located in a wonderful area I found myself back by Notre Dame quite frequently.

-Seine River Cruise- Not exactly a monument but a fabulous way to get a new perspective on the city and monuments you've already been able to enjoy. Most depart from docks near the Eiffel Tour! 

In the Fashion capital of the world you couldn't expect me to leave before getting plenty of shopping in, right? Even if you're just browsing the store fronts are fabulous and will make you wish that you came with a bigger budget.


-E.Dehillerin - Julia Child's favorite cooking store. If you love to cook and bake like me this warehouse style shop is worth a walk through even if it is to just lust over their beautiful copper pots. I purchased one while there and it is already receiving plenty of use!


-Shakespeare and Company - Arguably the best bookstore in the world gaining its fame from inspiring so many timeless authors. I was reading A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway while in Paris and this was Hemingway's favorite. Knowing the history before following the crowds in makes the experience more special.

high end

-Galeries Lafayett - Five floors of French fashion that is worth just mindlessly wandering through. The architecture in this building is so unique and is a great place to go if you're looking for something from a variety of different designers.
-Champs Elysee - Contrary to popular belief, the Champs Elysee doesn't really have that much high in shopping but the streets that peel off of it do so that is why I am categorizing it in this way. From Chanel to Hermes and Cartier to Louis Vuitton prepare to pick your jaw up off of the ground at the site of these goods and their price tags! 

smaller boutiques

-the Marais area - This area of the city has an excellent selection of smaller Parisian boutiques!

-any stationery store - As a lover of pretty paper goods I could not pass up popping in 

I am honestly shocked that I got through writing this post without spontaneously booking a flight to go back. So are you already planing a trip? If you've already been what would you add to your favorites list?

Other Parisian posts:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fourth of July Outfit Inspiration

The Fourth of July definitely falls pretty high on my list of favorite holidays! I honestly don't think I have ever been at my house for the holiday which may be one of the reasons I find it so fun. The past 5 or so years I have been celebrating the holiday at camp and before that we always go to my grandparents beach house to celebrate with our family. From fireworks to good food and plenty of time on the water I am excited to be able to celebrate the holiday with my family this summer although I will miss the temporary tattoo, face paint, and snow cones that a Fourth of July at camp has to offer.

Since I won't be spending the day corralling campers and decking out to theme in silly clothes and accessories I put together some outfit ideas that are patriotic but still practical. Mixing and matching red, white, and blue pieces ensures that you can still wear the individual pieces of clothing more than once but I couldn't help but include some other pieces that just scream Fourth of July. Since you still have about two weeks until the holiday there is plenty of time for all of these pieces to arrive at your door step pre firework celebrations! 

popsicle tank (my personal favorite) // american flag jacks // red & white sail to sable
nautical flag dress // red scalloped flats // tassel bracelet (comes in more colors for $10) // espadrilles 

As childish as it may look I am loving that white popsicle tank and would love to throw that on with some red or navy flowy shorts for my Fourth of July outfit (although it would look precious with that navy scalloped skort). Even if you already have the perfect pieces for the occasion adding some new fun accessories would be the perfect way to spruce up your ensemble. 

Which would you want to wear for the Fourth?

Shop the pieces above as well as some other red, white, and blue favorites below by clicking directly on the image! 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Best Macarons In Paris

While in Paris I am pretty sure my daily sugar intake  exceeded ones recommended weekly intake. We are talking three desserts a day with absolutely no guilt due to how much we walked (over 125 miles over the course of the trip). Being the macaron enthusiast that I am I was absolutely thrilled to be in a city that had macarons as accessible as sweet tea is in the south. 

Last summer my big (in my sorority), Caroline, spent a month in Paris and during her time sought to find the best macarons in Paris. I absolutely adored this idea so I decided to take on this task for myself. With many recommendations from her of places to try macarons and Paris must sees in general my tastebuds were quite eager to get started! If you are headed to Paris anytime soon I highly encourage you to take this on as your own task seeing as it is an extremely tasty one! 

When taste testing macarons to compare for this post (and my own enjoyment) I compared vanilla macaroons to remain consistent and because that is my favorite flavor. Somehow the vanilla ones tend to be so crisp and tasty that I couldn't help to have an excuse to order more than one every chance I got!

- prettiest store you definitely must pop in while in Paris to get their hot chocolate and try their macarons
- lots of flavor choices all lined up with the prettiest displays
- these macaroons were a bit larger than the traditional size and were less crunchy with a semi chewier consistency
- the flavors were really delicious and they had the best caramel macaron I've ever had!
- these were a bit more expensive, I believe 4 macarons ran you about 7 euro
- I chose 2 vanilla, a caramel, and a chocolate

- very inexpensive, a box of 12 (prepackaged) was 8 euro
- not so much of an experience as there are Paul's all over the city and the store is pretty generic
- good flavor and a tradition size
- the flavors that came in the box supplied 2 of each: lemon, coffee, vanilla, strawberry, pistachio, and chocolate

- the store front is always absolutely adorable
- it cost about 15 euro for 8 macarons (which is cheaper than in the US)
- they offer loads of fruity flavors and a few exclusively Parisian options
- a must try since they are a classic
- flavors are delicious but expect a line when you visit their store (especially on the Champs Elysee) although it moves very quickly
- they have the prettiest and most keepsake packaging
 - I believe the macarons I selected were coffee, toffee, chocolate (x2), vanilla (x2), pistachio, salted caramel

Cafe Pouchkine:
- all of the sweets in this store had a shimmery quality to it which makes your eyes sparkle and your stomach urges you to buy one of everything
- a bit more expensive at about 2 euro per macaroni
- slightly larger in size than standard size macarons
- their vanilla was absolutely delicious with a very distinct and strong vanilla bean flavor with the tiniest taste of salt followed by pure and sweet vanilla
- while there you must also get their chocolate caramel truffle, and while you're there send some back to me they are melt in your mouth good

So the verdict…

The best vanilla macaron I had came from… Cafe Pouchkine!

Other notable places that I've been told have delicious macarons that I unfortunately didn't make it to:
- Pierre Herme
- Gateaux Thoumieux
- Carrette 
- Le Bon Marche

While I am no expert in macaroni taste testing I had so much fun writing down what I thought about each of the places I went to and it gave me an excellent excuse to stop into all sorts of macaroni shops (although now looking back I wish I would have gone to more)!  

Also as an extra surprise here is a video I uploaded of what I purchased in Paris and London!

Enjoy and happy Saturday!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Enjoy Your Summer With A Clear Head Using the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card

Tracking Pixel

Planning and packing for a trip is no easy feat but fortunately I have partnered with Kaiku and Visa Clear Prepaid to help make that planning as easy as possible. I figured this out the hard way as I finished up the school year and had just six days to prepare for a three-week trip out of the country. I was so focused on what to pack and ensuring that I had plenty of room in my suitcase to bring back presents and prizes that some of the smaller details that come with traveling were almost overlooked. Whether you are gathering your passport, setting up an international phone plan, exchanging currency at the bank, or notifying your credit card company of your travels these little details can take up a decent bit of time.

I am definitely a planner. I knew about the trip I was on months in advance and was on the edge of my seat waiting for the itinerary. While all of my preparation tasks were completed on time there were lots of decisions to be made in six short days regarding three weeks out of the country. One of the most important included how to pay for items abroad and manage expenses. Fortunately, using the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card-part of the Visa Clear Prepaid program - to budget and pay for your summer outing makes it easy to manage your money, so the only thing you have to think about while you're out is having fun (and let's face it there is lots of fun to be had in Paris and London).

Since many credit cards have transaction fees associated with them in foreign countries I made sure to get plenty of Euros and Pounds ahead of time and load my Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card as another means of payment to bring along. I brought my credit and debit card and was sure to keep them in an RFID case but one of the most comforting parts of having my Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card was that if my card was lost or stolen while I was out having fun I didn't have to worry because my funds were protected by Visa's Zero Liability Policy. 

In case you didn't know, Visa's Zero Liability Policy covers U.S.-issued cards and does not apply to certain commercial card transactions, or any transactions not processed by Visa. You must notify your financial  institution immediately of any unauthorized use. For specific restrictions, limitations and other details, please consult your issuer.

Setting up the card was not difficult at all and I loved that with the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card I could select cards design and that once it came in the mail I was able to take my card to load it for my trip. I found using this card to be especially helpful when I wanted to purchase larger items and with a one-time activation fee I didn't need to fret about my card racking up strange international fees. Getting ready for my trip, I loved that my card allowed me to withdraw money without a fee at any AllPoint ATM or take out cash with purchases at grocery and convenience stores to ensure that I had enough money to spot my part of the bill. (Before you travel, make sure to research any international fees tied to your prepaid card so you’re prepared.) Another great thing is that you can download the Kaiku® mobile app and take a photograph of a check to deposit money onto your card!

If you are planning any sort of trip this summer or even want to discover an easier way to budget the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card made traveling and paying abroad easy. This would be an awesome option for anyone planning to study abroad for a semester as well since you would have access to an easy-to-understand method of budgeting your monthly expenses.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Visa Clear Prepaid program and the Kaiku® Visa® Prepaid Card. Thank you for supporting companies that help to make Prep In Your Step possible.

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