Thursday, January 31, 2019

How I Organize My Planner 2019

One post that I try to do each January for y’all is my planner organization post. I made it just in the nick of time by sharing this on the last day of the month, but better late than never in my opinion! This year’s post may be the least exciting one yet (really selling you on this post, I know) because it’s the first time I’ve shared the contents of my planner with y’all without being a student which means that I don’t have nearly as much written down. For me that’s great, but I think part of the reason in the past why you may have found it interesting to read this post was due to my planner being a colorful well-organized compilation of my life. Now there just isn’t as much to write down since I’m only working instead of balancing that with school and extracurriculars. Hopefully, you’ll still find this interesting and gain some insight organization along the way.

It probably comes as no surprise that I am a bit of a planner snob. I have no issue dishing out upwards of $60 for a heavy-duty planner that I know I’ll use daily. For those of you who save money and use a digital planner instead, I commend you but cannot relate to organizing in a way that doesn’t put pen to paper. Even more embarrassing than spending $60 on a planner is the fact that I save my old planners to look back on. Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed or trying to remember something specific, I’ll open up one of my many planners from college and just re-read parts of it. If I could juggle everything I did in college, then chances are I can handle whatever is being thrown my way currently.

This year I did something especially bold, I switched from my tried and true Day Designer (which I still absolutely adore and may go back to next year) to Emily Ley’s Dapper Desk Planner. You may be thinking why I felt the need to switch when I love my Day Designers (and the way they all look organized on my bookshelf) so much. Well, the only qualm I had with my Day Designer was that it was bound with a sturdy gold ring. While I never had issues with pages getting stuck or having that get stuck on things it made it a little bit bulky to carry around. The Dapper Desk is leather bound (and naturally I chose the pink leather) and doesn’t have a ring and is slightly smaller with all of my other favorite features, so it seemed like a natural switch. While this planner is equally as thick as the Day Designer, it doesn’t feel quite as hard to maneuver in and out of a tote bag from desk to desk.

Academic v. Yearly:

I use the yearly calendar (starts in January) as opposed to an academic calendar (usually starts in July or August) and did for most of college as well despite still being a student. There is just something about starting the year with a blank calendar that I love. Now that I’m not in school or working on an academic calendar I am glad that I have the yearly version even though it was a bit odd not having an entire school year in one planner back in college.


In the same way that I can be a bit of a planner snob, I am also a pen snob. Since I don’t like the way my handwriting looks in pencil (anyone else?), I stick to solely using pens in my planner. Le Pens and Flair Pens are my go-to with Flair Pens being what I’ve been using lately since I have so many of them leftover from my teaching days. I like the colors of them and that they write smoothly without smudging, but I would say that both brands fit that criterion.

Hopefully, none of you planner obsessed people freaked out when I said that I only use pens since I have a system when it comes to tentative plans. Since I now have a job where vacation days aren’t assigned to you, I use post-it notes on the monthly overview of my planner to represent vacation days I plan to take but haven’t yet requested or been approved. Once they are approved, I remove the post-it notes and write down my plans in pen to make the monthly spread look a bit more cohesive.

Color Coding:

I used to use upwards of six to seven different colors to denote different activities in my planner. Now that I am not juggling nearly as much I’m down to a mere two colors in my planner, black and pink. If I were to want to add more color, I could write down blog things in here in another color and workouts in yet another one but since I don’t do that, two colors it is. I use black to write down anything related to work and pink to write down various social activities like meals with friends, birthdays, weddings, etc. It makes my monthly overviews a bit less exciting since there aren’t as many colors, but it works well to help me mentally separate work and play.

Monthly Overview:

Speaking of the monthly overview, I tend to use this for big picture things. Since I work for a magazine, this is where I write down big photo shoots, binder weeks, when the issue ships, when an issue is on newsstands, and sometimes due dates for copy for the issues. This helps me keep the monthly spread from looking cluttered since there is a page for each day in the planner.

In addition to that, I write down fun activities on the monthly overview as well. Whether it’s a Superbowl party, meal plans, weddings, or vacations I’m taking I like including more of these on the monthly overview. I think that I like this because it encourages me to make social plans with friends in advance so that I have something to look forward to. I wouldn’t necessarily write down reoccurring plans on the monthly overview, but as with anything organization wise, it’s best to do what works for you.

Daily Overview:

One requirement I have when it comes to choosing a planner is that it has a page for each day. I have very much so become accustomed to using planners that include hourly time slots and to-do lists on a page for me to use. The Day Designer has this as does my Dapper Desk planner from Emily Ley.


The hourly part of the daily overview always starts the same with me writing down what time work starts and ends. Any meetings I may have are written down in between which helps me to really visualize what my day may look like. Usually, there isn’t too much written down since I don’t have meetings daily (and I don’t write in what time I take my lunch) but writing them down when I do helps me to make sure that I don’t miss anything.

To-do list:

My friends love to make fun of the fact that I write down the simplest activities that you expect to do daily on my to-do list. While I know it may seem silly to write down showering on your to-do list, I do it because it’s something I plan to accomplish during the day. I like to sort of line up my to-do list with the hourly timelines on the page. For example, I put workout further down so that it lines up with 6:00 since that’s when I’m usually arriving at the gym to start my workout. This helps me to separate my work to-do list and personal to-do list while also time blocking in a sense.


This is one section that I don’t always use, but I do like having the option of having blank space to write in. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down what workout I plan to do each day in this section and will sometimes write down blog post ideas or people/brands I need to email. I’ve also written down grocery lists or the meals I plan to make too so you never really know what you’re going to find from me here.

I hope that this helped inspire you to get organized for the rest of the year. If you want to read more about how I’ve organized in the past, you can find those posts below.

My other planner organization posts:

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas for Guys

I mentioned this on Instagram the other day, but January seems to be lasting forever. I’m ready for a new month and am excited that despite not having any work holidays off, there is Valentine’s Day to look forward to. I’m a big fan of a theme and my friends, and I have been talking about the Galentine’s day party we plan to have since the middle of January. Hopefully, some of you have fun Valentine’s Day plans to look forward to as well although sometimes those come along with the tricky task of coming up with a gift. Boys can be hard to shop for, but after making gift guides for them for various holidays (and consulting my guy friends), I feel confident that whether you’re shopping for your boyfriend, fiancé, or husband that there is something within your budget that they may appreciate in this year’s guide. For more guy’s gifts definitely check out the gift guide I did at Christmas for guys and don’t hesitate to send your guy a link to my Valentine’s Day gift guide for girls if you think they need a little help.

As usual, you can shop these items by clicking directly on the item in the image below to be taken to where it can be purchased. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here patting myself on the back for getting both of my Valentine’s Day gift guides up before February even begins. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Shopbop Sale Shopping

I had a different post originally scheduled today but that was before a friend started texting me with some of the cute items she'd seen in Shopbop's sale. Since I know that these pieces are completely capable of speaking for themselves, I'll let the clothes do the talking. At the top of my list for these items though would have to be these cute booties. I love the color, heel height, and structure. I'm shocked that all sizes are currently in stock although I know that won't be the case for long. 

If you see a piece you like be sure to click on the item in the graphic to be taken to where it can be purchased, and don't forget to check out the rest of the sale here

Monday, January 28, 2019

Step Into My Week

Since my last Step Into My Week post went live on Tuesday of last week, I have a little bit less to share, but hopefully, you find this entertaining nonetheless. We are supposed to be getting some cold weather this week which I’m excited for (fingers crossed for a snow day), and I hope all of you are bracing the cold as best as you can as well. 

On Tuesday it was back to work after a long relaxing weekend. I didn’t have a ton to do at work and was able to work ahead on various smaller tasks which felt good. After work, I went to the Y and Nell ended up coming over to my house for dinner which was fun. Wednesday was a lot of the same at work although upcoming social posts kept me busy for most of the day. I worked out afterward, and my roommate finally got back in town after having been gone from the long weekend and a bit of time after. She hadn’t seen last week’s episode of the bachelor, so we watched that as I ate dinner. I also signed up for the Seaside Half Marathon which is in March. I had mentioned to my dad that it would be a fun mini vacation to go to 30A for me to run the half and shockingly he and my mom were completely on board. It’s always nice to have a vacation of sorts to look forward to, and I’m glad I’ll be able to check that off of my 2019 goals list so early! If you’re looking for what is said to be a fun half marathon in a great vacation town, there are still spots left to sign up, but according to the site they are filling up quickly. 

Thursday at work I got ahead with a bit of writing and resource pulling while also making a lot of progress with social media scheduling. After work, I went to the Y and then came home to have dinner and do laundry. Unfortunately, the drum of our washer is out of place, so it sounded like there was a group of drummers hanging out in our laundry room which was less than ideal. Luckily someone is coming by to repair that today. Once my laundry was in the dryer, I went to bed and read. 

Friday was a lot of the same at work although afterward, I went on a six-mile run. If you follow along with me on Instagram, you may have seen my stories about how my leggings ripped about a mile and a half in. I asked y’all if you had had any luck tacking damaged leggings to Lululemon to have them repaired or replaced and y’all delivered on that feedback. Since a few people wanted to know the verdict I’ve included those responses below. I’m hoping to take mine to the store this week and will be sure to report back! After my run, I ate a late lunch and went and got my hair trimmed. I came home and showered and hung out for a bit before realizing how boring my night was going to be since all my friends were either studying or out of town. In search of an activity, I wandered around Target for about an hour without buying anything before coming back home to eat dinner and watch a movie before going to sleep. 

Saturday morning I woke up and had a slow start sipping my coffee in bed. Once I was motivated to get ready for the day I decided on a whim to clean our house since my big and her friend were staying with us that night. It felt good to get everything dusted and vacuumed and looking good. They arrived around lunch time, and we all went to Real and Rosemary for lunch with another one of our friends and her baby. I went ahead and tackled my grocery shopping after that and was just about to hang out before the evening’s plans when my friend Macy invited me to join her at a new brewery downtown called The District. It was fun (especially since there were so many dogs) and will be a place I’ll have to go back to. After that, I met some friend’s at Nell’s apartment to head to dinner at a restaurant called Nori. It ended up being really good and was located close to where I work which is good to know. We went back to Nell’s apartment afterward where I was volunteered to be a practice standardized patient to help our friends in PA school prepare for a test they have this week. 

On Sunday morning I got up and started my sheets before grabbing breakfast with my big at Continental Bakery in English Village. Afterward, I came home and put food in the crockpot before preparing for my long run. I ran into my friend Macy on the run, and we decided that once we both finished our workouts, we would celebrate with a late lunch. We ended up going to Big Bad Breakfast in Homewood, and it hit the spot. We all ended up getting mimosas and the most delicious avocado toast, and I am already excited to head back there to try other items on the menu soon. When I got home, I finished up meal prepping and then showered before resting on my bed for a bit. I finished up my day by talking on the phone to my parents, eating dinner, and watching the Fyre Festival documentary on Netflix. Holy cow was it fascinating. If you haven’t watched it and are looking for something to see definitely give it a try. I got in bed around 9:00 and read for a bit before finally going to sleep. 

Since I didn’t include the Lately section in last week’s post, I thought I’d bring it back this week! I’m trying to force myself to be better about taking photos this week since I feel like lately, I haven’t had many photos to share with you in these posts. 


Watching: The Fyre Festival Documentary
I don’t know how I didn’t hear anything about this as it was all going down, but I didn’t know what this was about until I was a good bit into the documentary. I had seen a bunch of people talking about both the Netflix and Hulu documentaries and am glad to have a better understanding of the insanity of it all now. The point made at the end of the Netflix documentary hit home talking about how so much of social media is the glorified moments while the reality is vastly different. The Fyre Festival is an extreme example of this obviously, but it did seem nice that there was an applicable takeaway from the documentary. 

Wearing: The Same Clothes Over and Over
I get so sick of my closet in January. I feel like all of the outfits I wear to work are exactly the same, and it feels kind of funny to share them with y’all (granted many people request them) since they don’t seem creative. Hopefully, I’ll be able to mix it up a little bit more soon. 

Wanting: Air Pods
I’ve realized that when Apple releases new products, I am definitely hesitant in the beginning. I often feel like the products aren’t necessities (which they aren’t) but over time get a better understanding of the convenience they bring. While I’m still not totally on board with Apple watches air pods are something that I’ve come to see a benefit from. I’m totally fine with having headphones connected to my phone but think it could be nice when working out to have Air Pods. I don’t know if they would work for me or not (I have a small head and therefore small ears) and since they are expensive, I don’t think I’ll be biting the bullet right now. 

Loving: Hazelnut Coffee Creamer
I am impressed by anyone who drinks black coffee but don’t want to partake. I love the sweetness that flavored creamer adds to my coffee and have been on a huge hazelnut kick. 

Reading: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Twenty-Two

I hope that y'all had a nice week and weekend! 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

How To Make Friends In A New Place

I could have sworn I posted a post of this nature in the fall, but after looking back through posts realized I never did. I am so glad that I realized this because I feel like it may be helpful for many of you. Whether you graduated in December and are trying to figure out life in a new city, graduated in May and are finally adjusted to where you live but are still looking for friends to explore with, or have been out of school for a while but are always on the hunt for new friends it’s my hope that these tips help you out. 

I seriously think I hit the friend jackpot here in Birmingham. When Nell and I were driving back to Birmingham from being at home, I told her how worried I was that I’ll have no friends when she and our other friends finish PA school since I’m sure some will move away. They still have a while before they graduate but boy have they made Birmingham fun and feel like home. I didn’t expect to have such good friends so quickly and leaving the established friend group I had in Greenville was one of the hardest parts about moving. Because I was worried about not having friends, I think I was a lot more intentional in how I tried to make new ones. I have always been more of a quality over quantity person, and even with a growing group, I am confident that they fit the bill for quality too. 

Below are a few of my tips for making friends in a new city. I’m always open to hearing more ways of making new friends so if you have any great ideas definitely let me know in the comments! 

Be Inclusive + Use Your Network
This is embarrassing, but before I even got to Birmingham, I wrote down a list of people I knew that lived there. At the top of that list was one of my good friend’s, Macy, who I knew would be a nice taste of home in a new place. Conveniently enough, Macy also seems to know everyone, and I had no doubt that she would be a great person to help introduce me to new friends. Another no-brainer when it came to that list was Nell since she had moved to Birmingham a few weeks before me to start PA school. With two close friends and a roommate that I knew well I felt confident that I had a good jumping off point. But aside from them, my list included people I went to high school with and didn’t keep up with, co-counselors from camp, sorority sisters from Furman, and even people that I knew of because of another friend. By seeing how far my network reached it was a bit less scary moving to a new place. The trick is to actually use that network and be inclusive of those people from different groups/periods of your life. The best way we did that is by hosting activities…

Host Activities
I still laugh that my roommate’s mom thinks that I am super social and am the reason Rebecca has friends. While I was social in college, I definitely wasn’t quite as outgoing as I’ve become since moving to Birmingham. With a great house (especially our back deck) it became easy for Rebecca and I to invite people over in an attempt to expand our circles. We hosted a house warming party and sent out invitations through Facebook since it seemed like a good way to invite the people we knew that lived here. We told those people to invite their friends, and over time our football watching parties got bigger. Hosting events or even organizing activities for friends has been the best way of meeting new people for me so far. I love that our house has become a go-to place for people to hang out and feel open to inviting more friends to and I’m ready for the spring and summer when we can use our deck again since it seems to be the perfect place for getting big groups together. 

Be Consistent
This may sound odd, and it’s definitely a tip I need to work on more but hear me out. Consistency applies to reaching out/being intentional with friends you’ve already met and making friends through activities or places you go to consistently. As for consistently reaching out, I would recommend continuing to invite someone to something even if they don’t always say yes. If it is clear they don’t want to hang out with you then obviously don’t do this but if they have reasons why they haven’t been able to come in the past don’t let that stand in the way of having them join you and your group in the future. For a little bit at the beginning of my time in Birmingham, I felt like I couldn’t leave on a weekend because I didn’t want to miss out on group activities and not be invited to the next. This was silly since at this age we’ve all started to understand that people are busy and schedules can fill up. 

On the other hand, consistently going to the same place or sticking to a routine causes you to become more familiar with other people that may also be “regulars.” Personally, two consistent routines I’ve established include going to the Y to workout after work each day and going to Starbucks on Friday mornings before work to write blog posts. While neither of these outings are ones in which I am overly social, I have started to pick up on who else has these routines. The next step would be for me to introduce myself or make small talk. I know that sounds weird (especially at the gym), but it doesn’t have to be. Acknowledging that you are often in the same vicinity as another person could potentially leave to friendship (even if it is just in that setting) so why not! 

Say Yes
If you were to google “how to make friends in a new city” I am sure that saying yes to invitations to hang out would be at the top of any list and rightfully so. While there are times after work that I am tired and don’t really want to do anything aside from put on my pajamas and get in bed, saying yes to invites from friends strengthens the established friendships and allows me to meet other potential friends. It can be scary to say yes to an invite to a party especially if you have to show up alone, but chances are you’ll be glad you went and socialized. 

Recently, my friends and I were trying to figure out what to do one Friday night, and one friend had reached out to someone she went to college with to see what that friend group was up to. Even though the rest of us didn’t know this person or the friend group, we figured we might as well give it a try. It ended up being a fun night, and we were all glad that we had said yes to it even though at the time we weren’t really sure what to expect. Now, it’s another group of people we can invite to hang out and continue to expand our circle. 

Join A Group
People always joke about joining a kickball league as a way to make friends, but in Greenville, it was absolutely perfect for that. A big group of people I went to Furman with decided to make a team and join the league and we had a blast. When I got to Birmingham, I really wanted to join a team but was a little hesitant since I hadn’t heard of anyone doing one. Now, I’ve heard a number of good things about the social sports leagues that Birmingham has and am tempted to see if I can get a group together to do this (or at least one friend so that. I don’t have to join a random team entirely on my own). 

Aside from social sports leagues (because let’s be real, the kickball part was fun but hanging out before or after was equally as enjoyable) joining a bible study or group that interests you would be another great way to make friends based on a common interest.

While it may seem like a lot of effort to make friends in a new place, it ends up being more effortless than you think especially since so many other people (especially at my age) are looking for friends too! Hopefully, these tips help you to make new friends and serve as a slight reminder of how to be a good friend. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas (For Girls)

You know what I thought I would never say after this past holiday season? That I miss gift guides. Prior to Christmas it feels like curating gift guides may never end, and I am never quite able to create all the ones I have in mind. Now, about a month out, I had so much fun creating this one for y’all. I know that there is still a good bit of time before Valentine’s Day, but it’s my hope that this will help you get ahead on any shopping you may want to do for the event (and it’ll give you enough time to send this link over to the people who may be shopping for you). So to any guys looking at this for their girlfriend, fiancé, wife, etc. you now have plenty of choices for what to get your girl in addition to the flowers you were already banking on.

While it’s clear that a red and pink color scheme sparked a lot of inspiration, I did my best to include items of a variety of price points. It there’s something you’re interested in you can click directly on the item in the graphic to be taken to where it can be purchased. 

For anyone who may be shopping for me I’d love this ridiculous looking pillow in preparation for summer cross-country travels.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Step Into My Week

Happy Tuesday. Since I had yesterday off of work, I treated it as a vacation both from my 9-5 (but really 7:30-5:30) and the blog. So today I’ll be updating you on what I’ve been up to over the past week since I usually do that on Monday. A little secret for y’all, I have to flip through my planner in order to write these posts every week because most of the time I can’t remember what all I’ve been up to! 

Work this week was relatively calm since we are finishing up assignments for our May/June issue and haven’t yet been given our pieces for July/August and the special issue that will be released between those two issues. We did have a staff meeting on Monday where our team celebrated my birthday (so sweet). The rest of the day was spent finishing up writing a piece for May/June and working on scheduling social posts. On Mondays, you can also typically find me responding to emails and social comments that I may have missed over the weekend as well. After work, I went to the Y and worked out before heading home to shower and get in bed early.

Tuesday was similar with me trying to get ahead on social posts and web pieces. I submitted the draft of an article and don’t know how else I spent my time that day. I went to the Y after work and ran and did some arm work. I’ve realized that I tend to stay longer at the Y on Tuesday and Wednesday since my roommate leads bible studies those nights and I know I’ll be going home to a quiet house. Wednesday was pretty similar to the previous two days although I had some other tasks to work on before calling it a day. I ran into my friend Macy at the Y, and we caught up while running next to one another. It is funny how something as little as running into a friend at the gym can be a fun change in your everyday routine. After that, I went home and showered, had dinner, and then got in bed. 

On Thursday, I sent out complimentary copies to those people that helped us to complete our March/April issue and finalized the shipping of products for a shoot we have next week. We also got our March/April issue back from the printer which was exciting since that is the first issue where I have a story long enough for a byline. I continued to get ahead on social posts that afternoon and went to the Y yet again after work. I had just finished changing when I got a text from my roommate that she accidentally locked herself out which was a nice excuse to head home earlier than usual. I let her in and decided to skip my workout and instead enjoy dinner while watching tv. 

On Friday morning I got up at 4:30 to go to a workout class at True40. Usually, I don’t feel like I have time to work out before work but since I don’t go in until eight on Friday’s I made it work. After the workout, I came home and showered and quickly got ready to head to the office. After finishing at noon, I came home to eat lunch and pack to head out of town for the long weekend. Had my roommate and all of our friends not decided to go out of town for the weekend I probably would have stayed put but heading home for the weekend became an easy choice when Nell and I figured out we could ride home together. She had class until around 2:30, so I picked her up from her car, and we were on our way. The drive seemed super short (probably because we didn’t stop talking the whole time) and we made good time. Once I got home, I had dinner with my parents before putting on pajamas to watch Secretariat with them. Unsurprisingly, I fell asleep. 

On Saturday I slept in a little bit before getting ready and going to a fabric store with my mom. She was showing me how she had organized all the Christmas ornaments in the attic when I spotted my headboard from Junior and Senior year of college. Since it wasn’t getting used, we decided to recover it to make the guest bedroom in our house in Birmingham look slightly more complete (I say slightly because there is only so much you can do with an air mattress). I forgot to get a picture of the completed project and room but will try to make a point of doing that to share with y’all soon. After finding fabric, we met my dad for lunch at Cactus Cantina in downtown Fairhope. We ran some errands afterward and then came home. I took a nap that afternoon (a common occurrence when I am at home). We laid low in the afternoon and ate dinner before watching Crazy Rich Asians. 

On Sunday I got up hoping to go for a long run by the bay. It was much too cold, so instead, I made a cup of coffee and stayed in my pajamas and cooked with my mom. My dad and I ran a few errands after that, and my mom and I finally completed the headboard before we all ate lunch at home. I took another long nap that afternoon and caught up on the phone with my brother. We didn’t really do much of anything Sunday night. 

On Monday I woke up and loaded my car before eating breakfast with my family and saying my goodbyes to Scout. Nell and I met up at 9:30 to head back to Birmingham. We stopped at Chick-fil-A for lunch and went grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s on our way in. I dropped her off at her car and immediately started a crockpot meal when I got home. Once I had unloaded my car, I changed and went on a very cold 8-mile run. By the end of it, my fingers and nose were frozen, and I was so ready for a hot shower. I put on the least flattering outfit ever (baggy sweatpants and a sweatshirt) after that and unpacked my bag and then made some muffins to go with the soup I had started. Once both were ready, I made a plate and hunkered down on the couch to watch the Bachelor before getting in bed around 9:30.

I don’t have anything too exciting planned this week but will be sure to update y’all next Monday! I hope that y’all had a great week and weekend as well! 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Saturday Shopping vol. 2 (a day late)

It's Sunday, I know. But with it being a long weekend I thought maybe, just maybe, y'all could cut me some slack with a Saturday Shopping post going live on Sunday. I think once you see some of the cute, cozy pieces included you'll find that to be ok. As much as I want to be sharing all of the cute spring pieces being released that's just not fair when we are in the middle of a cold front. I plan to hold out a bit longer when it comes to spring pieces and instead happily embrace the cute winter pieces still out there. 

Shop the pieces in the graphic by clicking directly on them! 

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Tuckernuck Sale on Sale

Good morning! I had every intention of posting this post yesterday but completely miscalculated how long it would take me to narrow down all the cute items included in the Tuckernuck sale. That works in your favor since that means it's a sale worth shopping. I wish I could say I'd be joining you in purchasing some cute pieces but like last year am doing a no-spend January (other than the necessities of course).  So, do a little bit of shopping for yourself and me since everything on sale is an additional 20% off with the code TREAT20.

If you see something you love, don't hesitate to snag it especially those items from brands that rarely go on sale like Barbour! As always, you can click directly on the image to be taken to where to purchase it. Happy Saturday, and happy shopping! 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Most Helpful Gift To Give During Engagement Season

Does anyone else feel like that the holiday season was FILLED with engagements? I’ve always known this time of year to be “cuffing season,” but this year especially it seemed out of control.  Maybe it’s the age I’m at, but there were days between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day where I would get on Instagram and see multiple engagements. 

I’m in three weddings this summer and am already a little overwhelmed with all of the details. From planning the bachelorette party for my best friend Sophia to attempting to calm down my parents as they prepare for my brother’s rehearsal dinner, I can only begin to imagine all of the details that have to go into planning a wedding. As my parents were attempting (for at least the fourth time) to remind my brother that he does not know everything about weddings after attending one my dad offered to write me a check right then and there if I would elope. Ha! 

When it came time to pick out presents for friends for the holidays, I had an easy decision for those friends preparing to get married thanks to Artisan Books sending me their new Modern Wedding book to check out. And better yet, they are partnering with me for a giveaway for one of y’all to win as well! 

While I thought about giving a friend my copy of the book, after looking at the beautiful pictures and reading through the detailed advice inside I decided to save it to someday use for my own wedding (sorry mom and dad but not thinking your dreams of me eloping are going to be a reality especially after looking through it). 

I do feel like I have gotten to see some of the decision processes especially for Sophia’s wedding since I am Maid of Honor, but I don’t know how people thought through all of the details that go into your big day without a resource like this book. How do you make it look cohesive? When are you supposed to officially send invitations? My list of questions would go on and on. 

Fortunately, Modern Wedding covers all of it. According to the book, “the secret to planning a deeply personal and meaningful wedding has nothing to do with budget. It’s about creating a celebration that reflects a couple’s core values. Translating those values is the work of Modern Wedding, an information-filled guide with hundreds of creative ideas and beautiful, inspiring photographs for readers to look at and say, “This feels like us.”

The book unpacks every element of a wedding—stationery, attire, seating plans, flowers and tablescapes, food and drink, gifts—with examples that will appeal to couples who care about how things are made but are not overly influenced by trends. The emphasis is on natural surroundings, seasonal flowers and food, modern dresses, minimalist ceremony structures, and naked cakes. Photographs of real weddings—“case studies” like a destination fete in Tuscany, a house party in Brooklyn, and a New Agey revel in Kauai—show how all the pieces can come together into a unique and expressive whole. Extensive practical information and resources give readers access to all the help they need for their own unique celebration.”

Since the book was released in December, it seems up to date and accurate when it comes to helping to walk you through various aspects of your ceremony and reception. And better yet, for any of you looking to send a newly engaged friend an engagement gift, the book is available on Amazon Prime (which is exactly how I’ve been shipping this off to friends). And while you’re on the site prepare to get lost in the beautiful preview images. They barely do the book justice compared to all of the ideas inside. And since wedding planning and the big day are supposed to be fun, Artisan Books and I have teamed up to give one Prep In Your Step follower a copy of Modern Wedding and a registry favorite (which the book includes a list of) Le Creuset Cake Stand. Now you can have your cake and eat it too. Be sure to head to my Instagram tonight for all the details on how to enter (it’s super easy, I promise). The giveaway is open to US addresses only, and the prizing and samples have been generously provided by Artisan Books. 

Now keep your fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe this book will help motivate Sophia to choose our bridesmaid dresses ;) and if you have any suggestions of good places to shop for those let us know! 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Six Routines To Establish In The New Year

Now that we are halfway through the first month of the new year motivation to accomplish all the goals that have been set can start to slack. Hopefully, this isn’t the case for any of y’all! Somethings I try to pay attention to at the start of each year are the routines I establish. After being away for the holidays and out of routine I do my best to be intentional when re-establishing them as the new year kicks off. Gretchen Rubin, the author of a book I love called The Happiness Project, claims that one of her secrets of adulthood is that “what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.” I’d definitely agree with that, but that could be me further feeding my love and need for routine. 

The first time my mom came to visit me in Birmingham was when I realized that cleaning an entire house takes a LONG time. My mom can be a bit of a neat freak and hadn’t seen my house since we shoved all of the boxes I packed into the living room so naturally, I wanted to make a good first impression. I spent hours dusting, swiffering, vacuuming, and wiping down every visible surface before she arrived. Her four-hour drive was finished before I had finished cleaning the house (and it wasn’t even dirty, to begin with). That’s when I realized that cleaning needs to be done in spurts over time and not all at once. Since that visit, I try to alternate vacuuming and swiffering each week, so it seems more manageable. Things like wiping down the kitchen counters, cleaning my bathroom counter, etc. happen weekly for me but breaking up these tasks so that you’re not spending an entire day doing a deep clean too exhausted to enjoy the progress you’ve made it important. 

Laundry is another thing I attempt to have a routine for. I tend to like to do my clothing laundry on Friday afternoons so that I can wash towels or sheets on Saturday or Sunday. Having a habit of this makes it so that I don’t really have to think back about when the last time I did this was, and it ensures that I 'm starting my week fresh. 

Other smaller cleaning routines worth establishing include unpacking your bags and car each day so that those spaces feel orderly. I also recommend having a certain place for everything since I tend to make more of a mess when I don’t have somewhere to go with something. For example, I am never in a frantic rush to find my keys when I’m running late because I have a dish for them on my desk where they always go. While cleaning isn’t a fun routine to establish, breaking it up and doing little things each day or week will make it feel less like a chore and more like an easy task to check off your to-do list. 

What would a post about routines be if I didn’t include something about having a morning and night time routine? The other day a friend who I taught with asked me what it was like to be able to sleep in before work and not wake up at the crack of dawn. I had to laugh for a minute because now that I have the option to sleep a little bit later due to when work starts I choose not to (granted the difference is all of 30 minutes between the time school would begin, and the time my workday begins). I have learned that I like getting up earlier so that I can start my day without feeling rushed. One of my guilty pleasures is getting back in bed after doing my hair and makeup to drink my coffee, read, and eat oatmeal. I could definitely sleep in later instead of doing this, but I’ve found that by giving myself time in the morning I can better create a routine I love. I’ve learned exactly what time I should get back out of bed to get dressed and make my bed and make my lunch to leave at 7:00 and the consistency of that better helps me to start my day on the right foot. 

As a girl who loves her planner a little too much at times, one thing I love to do on Monday mornings is write down what workouts I want to do during the week. This helps me to break up what I am doing when I go to the gym while knowing when I can expect to do them during the week (although if something fun comes up on a weekend, you can bet that I’ll probably skip the gym and do that instead). If you’re someone who doesn’t go to a gym and goes to a studio or takes classes, getting in the habit of scheduling all of your workouts for the week at once and writing them down makes them seem like more of a priority. For me personally, I go to the gym after work since I know that if I go home first, I won’t want to leave my house. 

Since I work out at night, I also shower at night which is why I consider my nighttime routine to start as soon as I get home from the gym. Typically I’ll shower before I do anything else (I only wash my hair every other night but at least wash my body and rinse off nightly). Once I’m comfy in my pajamas, I’ll unpack my gym bag and re-pack it for the next day and then do the same with my lunch bag. Then I typically make my dinner (read below to see more of what that entails) and sit on the couch watching a show and/or working on my laptop before heading to my room to read a bit later. I try to make it my goal to have my phone on my nightstand around 10:00 (if you’re a friend and text me after that on a weeknight you probably won’t get a response till 6:00 the next morning) and have my lights out at 10:15. Sleep used to be my last priority, and now it falls high on the list! 

Grocery Shopping/Cooking 
One of the hardest parts about graduating college was no longer having a meal plan with access to a variety of different foods for “free” whenever I was hungry (yes I know that meal plans are paid for, but the food felt free since you had a certain number of swipes). I found that when I would grocery shop and cook on the same day, it would take the fun out of trying new recipes and learning to feed myself. I remember calling my mom after making my own meals for a couple of months and apologizing that I ever complained about having something for dinner that we had had the previous week. Now I cook two recipes and rotate them for lunches/dinner for an entire week basically surviving off of leftovers. 

I try to do my grocery shopping on Friday or Saturday so that on Sunday it doesn’t feel like as much of a chore to cook for the week. What I’ve found that works best for me is making two very different recipes and eating them all week. This gives me enough variety to not get too bored with eating the same thing over and over again but also makes it so that I don’t have to cook on weeknights when I get home and instead just heat things up. 

One of the most surprising things about my new job (I guess I should stop calling it new since I’ve been here four months) is that the day to day can be so different. Each morning when I get to the office, I make a to-do list of things I want to accomplish, and after reading the Skimm and the Morning Brew, I start tackling the ones that take the most focus first since I know other things are bound to come up throughout the day. The office is also quietest in the morning and I’m most caffeinated (and therefore focused) making it a good time for me to get things done. I like to take my lunch at the same time most days and save my smallest tasks to be done (such as responding to social media comments) during the last 30 minutes of my day when my energy is fading. Even if you don’t know what your day to day at work may look like, chunking things like this to create a routine can be incredibly helpful.

I tend to do my best work when I am consistent with my routine but lately, have found myself craving opportunities to ditch the routine on occasion to make it, so I better appreciate it when I come back to it. Life can feel awfully boring if your schedule is constantly the same where all you do is go to work, go to the gym, come home, and sleep. While mine often looks this way even adding in the smallest change like grabbing dinner or drinks with friends on a weeknight can help to make it so that a routine feels more like a luxury than a bore (Starbucks Fridays are one of my favorite ways to mix up my morning routine). Since so many of my friends are still in school, we don’t always do things on weeknights so instead sometimes my roommate, and I will plan to watch a new episode of a show together and attempt to make fun plans with our friends on the weekends to mix things up more. 

I’d love to hear what routines y’all find to be important to establish in your everyday life! 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Step Into My Week

Happy Monday! While waking up this morning was hard, it felt good to tackle a full week last week, and I’m hoping that mentality will transfer over to this week as well. Although the weather has gotten colder, we have definitely seen the sun more which has me in a much better mood than when it was constantly gloomy (although I know those days will be back at some point this winter). 

Last week started incredibly productive despite things not being quite as busy at the office. I think we were hustling so much before Christmas that we left ourselves in really great shape but not as much to do once we came back from vacation. On Monday I was able to tackle some smaller tasks that weren’t crucial but felt nice to get ahead on. I wrote one of my pieces for May/June (yep, we work THAT far in advance) which also felt nice to cross off the list. After work, I met my roommate and some of our friends at Moe’s to watch the Alabama game. This was the first time we were all back together after having been at home for the holidays, so it was especially helpful to be able to catch up. Since the game wasn’t exactly working in our favor, we left at half time. I finished watching the game in my bed bummed at the result but glad I wasn’t still out at a bar with a bunch of sulking fans feeding off of one another (and without having to go to bed even later).

Tuesday was similar at work as I did tasks that weren’t crucial but nice to have done and I even created a new resource for our team to use as we plan for future issues which felt like an accomplishment. After work, I wound up at the gym only to realize that I had forgotten to pack my running shoes. I decided not to worry about going home, getting them, and coming back and instead showered and watched TV before bed instead. On Wednesday we got the binder for one of our spring issues, and I was able to finish up the resources for that which kept me busy for most of the morning. In the afternoon I interviewed a woman for another one of my May/June assignments which was fun. After work, I went to the gym and ran for a while before coming home. 

On Thursday I had my 90 day review with my editor (my 90th day was in the second week of December, but we were so swamped that this was the first time we were able to get together and do it). It went really well which was encouraging and it also gave me the opportunity to share more about the different aspects of what I do that I love with her. Afterward, we picked products for one of the features I write in each issue, and I started to get in contact with brands about featuring these items. I spent the afternoon transcribing the interview I had done on Wednesday and outlining what I want that piece to look like before going to the gym after work. Once I got home and showered, my roommate, and I watched Monday’s episode of the Bachelor. I tend to only get into the show in a social setting (aka all my friends getting together and watching it and me wanting something social to do), but I think my roommate and I may make a point of watching it together.

Friday morning started at Starbucks before getting to the office a little earlier than typical for a Friday. I was able to do a decent bit of writing before getting off at noon. After work, I went to get my car’s oil changed, went home and ate lunch, and hung out until I picked Nell up to go workout. We went to True40 in downtown Birmingham which was a great way to end the week. Afterward, we met up with our friends at La Paz in Crestline before heading home to get ready for the evening’s plans. I went over to Nell and her roommate’s apartment before heading to one of her roommate’s mutual friend’s houses before going out. It ended up being fun and hopefully we will continue to do things like that to expand our friend group more this semester. We went to Moe’s from the house and continued to talk to some of the people we had met before heading to bed. 

*This is from the one other time I've been to True40 where they had someone taking photos for Birmingham magazine there. Somehow ended up in that feature even though I'm a poser and have only been twice, oops.

Saturday morning I slept in a little bit and had a slow morning watching Netflix’s show, You. I ended up finishing it this weekend and am not positive what I thought of it. I went to Trader Joe’s to get groceries and then made one of the meals I plan to eat this week when I got home. I also made Elisabeth and Butter’s new brownie recipe which turned out pretty good. After showering and eating dinner at home, my roommate and I went over to Nell’s apartment to do face masks, eat brownies, and watch About Time with her and her roommates. I’ll save you all the fear from the terrifying photo we took in those sheet masks. You’re welcome. After the movie, I headed home and went to bed. 

Sunday morning I went to church at 8:30. Afterward, I came home, did some laundry, and started my second crockpot meal for the week. I went for a run after that which ended up being a lot longer than I was anticipating. I was planning to run five miles and ended up feeling really great and went eight instead. My knees would disagree about feeling great today, but it felt nice to have accomplished so much before 1:30. I made soup for lunch (since it was surprisingly cold out this weekend) and then took a hot shower. I attempted to take a nap in the afternoon but never felt like I fully fell asleep. Later on, I called my parents to catch up, put my laundry away, and read a lot before bed. 


As you may have seen, one of my goals for 2019 is to read more. I’m off to a really strong start and am currently reading two different books. I talked about Twenty Two in last week’s Lately section of my Step Into My Week post and have started to just read that in the morning. It’s definitely on the more inspirational side of things and is a good way to start my day. I found myself wanting more of a story when I was reading at night, so I decided to open one of the books my dad found me for Christmas called Let’s Pretend That Never Happened. While it’s a memoir and not the full-on story I was thinking I wanted for night time reading, it is absolutely hysterical. I find myself laughing audibly as I’m reading it. I don’t think it’s something everyone would like, but it definitely aligns with my sense of humor and has me getting in a bed a little bit earlier so that I have more time to read before turning the light out. 

Listening To: Spotify’s Songs to Sing in the Shower
Do y’all ever get in major music ruts? I feel like I’m in the midst of one right now. Aside from my workout playlist and podcasts, nothing seems to actually fit the bill for what I want to listen to. And for fear that those two things will become the same way I limit myself to when I let myself listen to them. Spotify’s Songs to Sing in the Shower is as close to content as I got with music last week although I still found myself skipping a bunch of songs. I did start adding some of the ones I liked to my good mood playlist, so hopefully, that will be a new go-to once more songs are added. 

Wanting: This Sweater
Grey. Knit. Bows on the sleeve. SOLD!

I feel like this section is just going to be me rotating toward raving about different Christmas presents I’m obsessed with so hopefully you don’t mind. I’m completely obsessed with the neck pillow my parents got me for Christmas and love heating it up (it smells like lavender when you do) and using it to release tension on my neck and shoulders at night. I also used it as a heating pad for my knees after my run on Sunday and was glad it could be used for multiple purposes. This may become a new go-to gift I give! 

Cooking: Chicken Noodle Soup and Healthy Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken
I am having trouble finding the exact recipes I used but will link them when I do! 

Last Week’s Posts You May Have Missed:

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