Thursday, April 26, 2018

How To Maximize Your Space In College With PB Dorm

Now that I finally have graduated from college dorms and apartments, I have finally learned to make the most of a small space. I will be the first to admit that the size of my freshman dorm room was rather generous. Although, sophomore year while living on my sorority hall the space was half the size and we even shared a closet with our roommate. This was not the biggest deal since when you live with your sorority sisters it already feels like everyone’s closet is shared. So, despite the small space there were certainly some perks. Junior and senior year I lived in an on campus apartment with my friends and while it was great to have our own rooms, storage was constantly an issue. Under our beds was not pretty which made bed skirts that much more essentials. There were a number of other things that became essential when maximizing my small space. One thing in particular was finding certain organizers to utilize every inch.  I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with PB Teen again to share some of the organizers they make that I use in my space to maximize every inch.  

As many of you already living in dorms may know, every inch of those small rooms is valuable, and when used strategically can remain functional, organized, and even look cute. When I moved into the apartment I live in now, I realized that the storage I had been given on campus that included dressers and spacious desk drawers was going to be my own responsibility in this new space. As with anything, there are positive and negative did not come in this new space. Since I am still in graduate school, my space is still relatively small although it is roomier than what I had in the past. This led me to find clever ways to store all of my things. One often underutilized space is the back of your door. Since I have my own bathroom attached to my room, I am fortunate enough to be able to use both sides of that door as well as the door I enter in and out of. For those of you dealing with the same struggle in small spaces when you are trying to find storage, I am sharing three different solutions with you below.
Since I cannot contain my excitement when it comes to this Over the Door Jewelry and Mirror Organizer, I am going to start with it. I don’t know about you, but when I was in dorm rooms I always had communal style bathrooms down the hall from my room. When you live with up to 40 other girls, mirror space can become limited especially when you are all headed to the same sorority formal at one time. I quickly learned the value of having a mirror of my own. This mirror serves two purposes however, and perfectly stores and displays my growing collection of statement earrings and necklaces. I especially like how the hooks for necklaces are on the side of the mirror and spread out since that leaves them less likely to become tangled. If there are any necklaces in your collection that are particularly delicate, the hooks at the very bottom of the organizer are a great place for those. I've also started to store any sunglasses I am not currently wearing along the bottom hooks of the organizer. Doing this has made it so easy to grab any accessories I may want for the day while displaying them in a way that add interests to my space. 
Next up is a product I’ve been using since the first time I went to sleep away camp in 5th grade. Over time, I have upgraded to different versions of this same product, and I am particularly partial to the navy color of this Over the Door Shoe Rack. I would not consider shoes to be “my thing” like some girls claim although judging by my expanding collection others may disagree. Nothing would drive me crazier than having to search for a specific shoe’s pair in the morning. I know some people are ok with lining their shoes up across their closet floor or having a bucket to toss them in that would leave me frustrated when getting dressed and would not be an efficient use of the small space I have. Instead, organizing my shoes into the pockets of this shoe rack makes it easy for me to get ready without frustration and without taking up valuable closet floor space. With many of my pairs of sandals, I can fit both shoes in one pocket of the organizer. Since that takes up less space, I can also store awkward items such as belts or hair tools in the empty pockets at the bottom. A definite win-win.  
Lastly, I have a solution for any of you who have a tendency to be like a fungus when you study and prefer to spread out all over the place. For me, that means that the prime real estate on my desk is used for books, notes, and my laptop. This leaves little room for me to take notes on my desk. I learn best when I rewrite my information, so until my most recent discovery that led me to spread out on the floor. Not the most comfortable of study spots. PB Teen just came out with a Dry Erase Peel and Stick NuWallpaper that is perfect for notes. Depending on your living space, you can put this just about anywhere since it easily can be removed (perfect for those dorm walls you don’t want to be fined for damaging). In our apartment, we’ve started using this to write notes, lists, or even reminders to one another. It can be hard to keep up with your own schedule, let alone 2 other people’s so this is such an easy solution. How fun would it be to put this on the outside of the door in your dorm to have friends leave you notes as well?
If you're graduating or looking for the perfect gift to give a soon to be grad, organizational items like these would be the perfect practical gift. While I wish I had these items in college, I am so glad that they have served an equally useful purchase as I've continued to attempt to maximize the space I have.
Thank you to PB Dorm for collaborating with me on this post. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Prep In Your Step possible.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Novels with Nell - Thelonious Rising

The other day I did something a little bit dangerous...I allowed myself to get into the black hole of shopping for books on Amazon. Usually this consists of me searching for one book and instantly looking at all of the similar ones recommended. But, this time was especially dangerous because of the number of book recommendations from different genres that I added to my cart. Since I was looking at a bunch of different types of books, I was exposed to so many other recommendations on top of the ones I knew I wanted already. Come time for me to move from the apartment I am currently in to what is next I have no doubt that there will be at least one (if not more) box solely for my expanding book collection. 

Nell's recommendation hits close to home for the both of us since our hometowns are not far apart and we both have Katrina stories. Fortunately, our area was not hit as hard as New Orleans although there were areas that had their fair share of damage. Being somewhat familiar with New Orleans and knowing a lot about Katrina's aftermath would make this a particularly interesting book for me to add to my reading list! 

By: Judith Richards

August 29, 2005. Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast. I remember sitting with my family in the back hallway of our house, away from any windows, as rain pounded and winds howled outside. Wind carried some debris through part of the living room window not boarded up, which was thankfully the only damage our house suffered. When the storm was over, the main thing I remember was the stifling heat and humidity. Nothing new to me but without power, there is no reprieve. I am thankful to say that after about a week, roads were cleared, power came back on, school reopened, and life went on as usual. My hometown experienced flooding and damage but nothing like what happened in New Orleans.

Thelonious Rising is a captivating novel about Hurricane Katrina, with the story focusing on a boy named Thelonious. The reader gets an introduction to the characters in the story and the character and spirit of New Orleans. Then Katrina comes, stronger than many expected. The storm proves tragic for Thelonious but resilience of the city is mirrored in him. We’ve all seen images and footage of the devastation New Orleans faced after Katrina. However, Thelonious Rising allows you to get to know some of her (albeit fictional) residents, showcasing the power of storytelling in restoring the human element to a seemingly distant event.

“Over the hot tropical waters of West Africa a fitful breeze flung salt spray in the faces of fishermen. Storms are common in the Atlantic between June and November. Most weather disturbances falter and die, no sooner born than ended. Wind blowing from the east six miles high may collide with wind blowing from the opposite direction, creating a shear that will decapitate a storm and rip it apart before an eye can solidify. Warm waters fuel a hurricane, but cold ocean currents can destroy the system before it gains strength. For the moment, this particular disturbance has no name. Meteorologists say she is a tropical depression that should be watched, but five days east of Florida, with gale force winds, she is worthy of no more than a warning to seafaring ships. When winds reach hurricane force, they will dignify her with a name: Katrina. Nine-year-old Thelonious Monk DeCay lives in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward with his grandmother. His mother dead and his father missing, Monk is determined to find his father. With their harmonicas and bottle-cap taps, Monk and his best friend entertain the tourists in Jackson Square under the watchful eyes of eccentric historian Quinton Toussaint, who knows where to find Monk's father. Hurricane Katrina changes everything. Left homeless and alone after the storm, Monk befriends a deranged man and survives by sneaking across the rooftops and courtyards of the French Quarter, stealing food and supplies while hiding from both a murderer and the police. In the midst of the storm and its aftermath, a woman Monk has never met appears in New Orleans with answers to his questions about his long-lost father.”

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Spring Apartment Window Boxes

Florals for spring? Groundbreaking. I was so tempted to make that the title of this post, but based on anything I’ve ever heard about search engine optimization (SEO) I decided against it. After sharing on instagram that i was planting window boxes for my apartment I received some messages sharing what I did. I wish I would have taken pictures step by step during the process so that you could see it better but hindsight is 20/20. I also feel like I should make a disclaimer that this is the first time I’ve really gardened so I may not be the best person for tips granted so far my flowers have lasted a week so my fingers are crossed that they will continue to grow and survive. 

For Easter, my parents gave me some gardening supplies and money to buy window boxes since I had told them I thought it would be fun to spiff up our balcony with something living and colorful. I finally found the window boxes on QVC’s site. You can easily go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and find them in neutral colors but I was committed to them being white to match our railing. Of course I couldn’t just make it easy. The window boxes come in a set of 2 for under $30 (plus you can get $5 off your first purchase with the code FIVE4U) and are available in other colors than just white. What I really love about these that  I found was that they are specifically made to be placed on a railing which makes them easy to see from both sides instead of the ones that hang over. Since I didn't do the best job of balancing the weight with my flowers, currently mine are sitting in either corner of our balcony instead of on the rail since I would be devastated if they fell.

As for what is inside, my friends and I went to a local nursery, Roots, and gathered some pretty flowers and herbs to plant. If I had been smart I would have kept the name of everything but instead opted for herbs I'd use and flowers that would look pretty and fill the space. Since I did two window boxes I got 2 of everything so that they could be relatively symmetrical. If you don't care about that sort of thing then you'll definitely have room for a variety of plants in these boxes. We also ran to Home Depot to pick up soil for the boxes as well. In my Easter basket, my mom had included some fertilizing sticks that I placed in my boxes one I had put everything where I wanted it to be and covered it in soil. 

I probably should have looked into whether or not the flowers I chose need the same sort of things but with watering them every day and tending to any dying/broken pieces they've done well so far. After planting everything, we decided to get some colorful chairs so that we would actually use our balcony. Target had bright blue ones which we opted for and I've already spent so much more time outside enjoying the space now that we've freshened it up a bit. 

I couldn't end this post without at least mentioning my favorite floral dress as of late. I have this Dress by Elizabeth McKay in two different colors and adore it. The ruffled detail around the neck and peplum hem make it perfect to throw on for so many different activities. I've worn it to school, to dinners with friends, and even to a charity event and it has been perfect for each place. It's lightweight which is great for summer and it comes with two different belts to tie it in at the waist. The first is the same material as the dress and looks cute tied as a bow and the second is a tassel cord. If you've been on the hunt for cute Spring dresses I think your search is officially over! 

I hope that y'all are having a happy Tuesday! 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Step Into My Week

Last week felt like a long one. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten into a groove since Spring Break and am hoping that maybe this week will be the week. If I’m being honest, as I write this on Sunday afternoon I’m already feeling overwhelmed about the week ahead which is never a fun feeling. The end of my grad school semester is coming up which means that the due date of our research is approaching as is our final and that on top of teaching and blogging seems like a lot to juggle. I’m hoping that once the week gets started it feels less overwhelming but sometimes before a week has begun anxiety can be at an all-time high. It doesn’t help that this past week I haven’t been feeling the best. My throat has been sore since two Saturdays ago and I haven’t had a voice since Wednesday so my guess is that everything piling up is the real cause of my stress.

Our school had field day on Wednesday and picture day on Friday and it is starting to feel like the end of the school year may be approaching even though we still have six and a half weeks left. My guess is that with testing happening in May the days may feel long but the weeks will go by relatively quickly.

(I didn't include two days of my outfits since one was field day and the other was a casual day).

The weather has been pretty funky here with cool days at the beginning of the week and then 70s at the end. It’s my hope that the warm weather will stick around permanently this time. Unfortunately I think it is going to be rainy for the better part of this week but maybe that’ll encourage me to knock some assignments off of my to do list.

Other than school, my brother’s fiancé asked me to be in their wedding which is really exciting. The wedding won’t be until August of 2019 but it’s fun to go ahead and start getting excited for that. Thursday night we had our second kickball game of the season which was fun. We lost but definitely aren’t as seasoned as many of the other teams. Afterwards, we went to a burger place near the field and hung out together as a team. Our game this week isn’t until 9:30 (way after the time a teacher should be starting an activity on a school night if you ask me) so I’m going to have to rest up before that.

This weekend I tried to lay low for the most part since I wasn’t feeling my best. I took a nap on Friday afternoon and then went to dinner with a friend before getting some work done and going to bed early. Saturday morning, I took it easy before going to the pool with Ellison and two of our other friends. We had a birthday dinner that night at a pizza place and after eating our fair share of slices we all headed in. Sunday was overcast but I was able to get outside for a little bit before trying to be productive and set myself up for the week. I’m hoping that this week will be filled with lots of productivity since I am really excited for my plans next weekend and don’t want to have to worry about school while I’m out of town.


Reading: The Breakdown
Some friends and I went to the pool on Saturday and I decided to grab this book off of my shelf. I had ordered it when I ordered the Last Mrs. Parrish and it’s the same sort of genre. We ended up all talking instead of reading so I’m only about 15 pages in but am already intrigued. If you followed along with what I was reading the last few months, you probably remember me talking about Behind Closed Doors. This book is by that same author. I always have a number of books on my “to read” list but now it seems to be getting out of hand as the stack and my amazon cart grow. I just learned that Bob Goff, author of the amazing book LoveDoes, just came out with another book, Everybody Always, and I am dying to read that.

Watching: Uptown Girls
I wanted background noise while looking at my computer on Saturday but I didn’t want a TV show so this is what I put on. I feel like whenever I want to watch a movie I can never come up with something I want to watch. It had been a while since I had last seen it so it was fun to rewatch it. If y’all have any Netflix or Amazon Prime movies worth watching definitely let me know.

Loving: Nyquil
I have felt under the weather this past week and Nyquil has been my saving grace. I still don’t have my voice back fully but taking Nyquil before bed definitely has helped some with my cough and sore throat. I’m hoping that I am officially on the mend but if this doesn’t go away soon I’ll be off to urgent care for a second opinion.

Wearing: Espadrilles
As you probably noticed in my outfits from this past week, I have been living in espadrilles. The pair I have was purchased last year at Target and have held up so well. I have to say, Target’s shoe selection never fails me. I have seen a number of other places with equally as cute espadrilles that would be a great alternative to this pair (this one being my favorite)

I adore embroidery especially bright colors on a stark white background. I’ve had my eye on Mi Golondrinas beautiful pieces for a few years now but have never bit the bullet. I’m not sure if I ever will but I do love looking at their site and admiring the different color combinations of beautifully embroidered dresses and tops they have. I can’t help but think how perfect their pieces would be for summer.

Proud Of Myself For: Convincing My Friends to Come to the Queens Cup
Anxious About: Getting our Tailgate Together for the Queens Cup
These two definitely go together. Next Saturday, about 12 friends of my friends and I are all headed to the Queens Cup in Charlotte. I am so excited for us to go and enjoy our Saturday together doing something a little out of the ordinary. That being said, as the person convincing everyone to come I have been put in charge of the tailgate which has become a bigger ordeal than expected. When one of my guy friends kept asking about what type of food we are going to have I finally had to tell them that I hadn’t even picked out what I was going to wear so the food wasn’t yet on my mind. I’ve since thought it through more and think that it will slowly come together this week.

Posts From Last Week:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Affordable Vacation Ready Frocks

It seems like every Sunday a little after 2:00 the Sunday Scaries come in at full force. I know I’m not alone in this since oftentimes my roommates and I gather in the living room and turn on a show while doing work in order to combat them to the best of our ability. It doesn’t help that we have had one pretty Sunday in the past two months. Even better than hanging out together watching TV while still being productive would be having a vacation planned which would mean there isn’t a reason for the Sunday Scaries in the first place. A girl can dream, right?

Since we are teachers and know that reality is called Spring Break and Summer I really have no use in talking since that is more of a vacation than most people get in the adult world. Since I’ve been seeing so many cute spring and summer pieces, it’s hard not to imagine the bright colors in some sort of tropical oasis. I was recently introduced to the most perfect affordablevacation ready dresses that it was worth pretending that I had something fun planned.

As you’ll soon notice into Step Into My Week posts, I live in dresses once the temperatures warm up. The ability to choose one piece in the morning and call it a day is hard to beat and even with that mindset dresses have a way of making you look put together. When I do eventually have a vacation to pack for, I find it so much easier to pack when I can throw some easy dresses in my bag since they don’t take up much space and allow me more room while still being indecisive.

The bright colors and symmetry in this particular dress caused me to add it to my cart nearly instantly. I’ve always been a fan of a classic shift style and the lightweight yet fully lined material added to my obsession. London Times just came out with a whole line of vacation ready dresses perfect for Spring and Summer that all have price tags under $50. If shift dresses aren’t your style or you tend to gravitate towards more subtle colors, the collection features over one hundred different options perfect for a variety of occasions.

Throwing my Carson dress on with a pair of nude wedges and fun gold earrings made this springtime shift more dressed up although I can easily see myself grabbing a pair of jacks and throwing on some pearl earrings to dress it down as well. If you’re on the hunt for an affordable spring dress perfect for a getaway, be sure to shop the styles in London Times Vacation Shop before you jet set.


dress // wedges // earrings // watch // bracelets ( 1 & 2 ) // gold bracelet (similar)

Thank you, London Times, for collaborating with me on this post. As always, all thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Prep In Your Step possible. 

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