Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Creative Ways to Spring Clean this Year

Now that spring is officially here it’s time to tackle something people tend to have a love/hate relationship with, spring cleaning. The thought of cleaning everything as the weather is finally nice enough to get outside can be a bummer, but once it is done, there is a certain feeling of peace that comes along with it. The trick I’ve discovered over the past couple of years when it comes to spring cleaning is to not try to attempt to tackle it all in a single day. There are times when I’ll get on a roll with cleaning and want to keep going which is awesome but knowing that I don’t have to magically make my house/life spotless in one fell swoop is reassuring. Not to add to your stress, but spring cleaning should go beyond just vacuuming your floors. In an attempt to make my own game-plan for spring cleaning, I came up with some out of the way things that could use a little bit of spring cleaning in my own life, and maybe yours as well! 

Cleaning my closet seems like the biggest no brainer when the weather starts to change. It is a bit ridiculous just how many clothes I have and with that comes switching my clothes out between seasons (get excited mom and dad, my winter stuff is heading your way to be hung in my closet at home!). It makes it so much easier only to have the pieces that are seasonally appropriate in my closet at one time and also forces me to take a look at everything I own to decide whether or not it is worth keeping. By the end of my seasonal closet cleanout, I typically have a very large donate/sell pile (probably my roommates and friends’ favorite part of the process too).

During your closet cleanout don’t forget to look through your shoes and bags too. I find that I often overlook these two categories leaving me with more of each than I need considering I tend to gravitate toward the same items while getting dressed. If you’re curious about how I organize my closet, I have a whole post about it here

Social Media
I feel like deep cleaning social media followings have been a trend as of late, and I’m all for it. With a personal Instagram account, one for my blog, and running our magazine account for work that’s a lot of different content to see which can be overwhelming and exhausting. On my personal and blog account, I plan to comb through a lot of the accounts I follow and eliminate the ones that I’m not all that interested by. My roommate recently taught me another social media cleaning tip regarding Facebook friends that I’ve been putting into practice. It sounds kind of bad but in reality, is an excellent way to unfriend those people that you may not know super well or care to keep up with on Facebook. She told me that whenever the birthday notification comes up on her Facebook account, she will look through people with upcoming birthdays and decide whether or not they are someone she keeps up with/needs to be Facebook friends with. While it may seem mean to unfriend them on their birthday (or close to it), I can almost guarantee you that they won’t notice. Over time, your newsfeed will be filled with more people’s post and photos that you actually want to see and a lot less clutter. 

While spring cleaning our entire house is a goal, our kitchen is my least favorite room to clean but one that needs to be clean to be functional. In addition to the typical counter wipe down and swiffering the floor, I’m going to make it a priority to clean out my area of our pantry, fridge, and freezer. Over time it’s easy to forget what may be in there since these are spaces that typically have a door you can close so that they aren’t constantly visible. It shouldn’t take too long but will definitely feel good once I’ve finished and maybe result in fewer groceries to shop for by reminding myself what I already have. 

I mentioned subscriptions in this budgeting post, but they are an easy thing to forget about. Whether you signed up for a certain subscription to watch something specific, have your groceries delivered, etc. if you’re not using the service (or membership) it’s time to get rid of it. The same can be said about emails. If you are sitting on your phone deleting emails without opening them go ahead and take the time to open them once, hit the unsubscribe button, and be done with them for once and for all. 

We all know I love a good schedule and routine, so it’s really not surprising that I like to take a look at how I’m spending my time as a component of my personal spring cleaning. Overall, I am pretty pleased with my weekday schedule and think that it works well for my lifestyle. But, if you’ve found yourself overwhelmed or not spending time the way you want to then sit down with your calendar and attempt to find a solution. Maybe that’s scheduling your workouts ahead of time or meeting a friend for a weekly coffee instead of an after-work drink if you’re feeling exhausted from late weekday nights. There are definitely solutions to be found! 

Everyone’s least favorite thing to look at, finances. If you don’t have a budget, this would be a great time to make one but if you have an established one maybe take a peek at how well you’re following it and if there are any changes that can be made to it to help you save more or spend more wisely. 

I’d love to know what you’re planning to spring cleaning this year! 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Step Into My Week

Happy Monday! I hope that your week is off to a great start. It’s a bit unreal to me that it is already the last week of March. While I’m definitely not a huge fan of January and February (cold and ready for spring) sometimes March feels like it drags on and is a bit of a tease of spring. This year it really hasn’t felt that way and has instead flown by. I’m attempting to really enjoy the routine of things and weekends in Birmingham because come mid-April through the end of August I feel like I’ll be in and out a lot. I wish I had done a better job of taking pictures this past week but I kind of failed on that front. 

As for this past week, it included a lot of routine. On Monday I had a long to-do list of resources to write, emails to send, and other follow up things to do. That afternoon I got to head out of the office to pick up the remaining pieces for an upcoming photoshoot which I always enjoy. It was especially great to have a little while away from my desk outside since the weather this past week was unbelievably nice. After work, I went to the Y and walked on the treadmill until my friend Macy arrived. It had been a while since we caught up so we decided that multitasking while working out would be the perfect solution. We ended up doing the workout below that Macy found and were both drenched in sweat at the end of it. 

Tuesday was similar with the addition of working on scheduling social media, packaging up items from shoots that needed to be shipped back, and writing and reading through upcoming features. I also had to take and pick up some items from a photo shoot taking place locally during the day. After work, I went home briefly to change before going to Nell’s apartment to meet her for a walk. Now that the time change has taken place, I can actually do things outside after work since it is still light out which I’ve been taking advantage of. We walked between 3 and 4 miles catching up since she had been on Spring Break the week before. After that, I went home and got clean, ate dinner, and worked on blog stuff before heading to bed.

Wednesday was probably my busiest day of this past week due to a quick turn around on the copy I am doing for an upcoming issue. I was able to knock it out, but it took most of the day. It felt so nice to have it finished in such a short amount of time since it typically takes me much longer to write a piece. After work, I went to the Y before going home to shower, eat dinner, and read before bed. 

On Thursday I packaged and sent out complimentary issues, worked on some of the final copy for our July/August issue, packaged up boxes, and got ahead on social posts. After work, I went to the Y for a bit before heading home to eat dinner before darting back out the door for bible study. Before work on Friday, I went to Starbucks and was able to make a to-do list for this week while also getting a lot done for upcoming issues. On Friday afternoon I ran errands, got a hair cut, cleaned our deck and deck furniture, and eventually showered to get ready for our friends who were coming over that night. We set up our projector to watch March Madness (my bracket is currently in the 93rd percentile, so hopefully it stays that way), had a fire going for s’mores, and got to enjoy hanging out on our deck thanks to the great weather. Everyone left by 11:40 so my roommate and I cleaned up before heading to bed around midnight.

Saturday morning was very laid back, and I ended up eating my breakfast on the deck while working on my computer. The trend for this weekend seemed to be to spend as much time as possible outside. My hair still smelled like a bonfire, so I showered and ate lunch before my roommate, and I met some friends at Good People Brewing for an event that was being hosted there. We sat in the sun, drank a beer, and enjoyed the live music they had playing all afternoon. Eventually, we went back to our house so my roommate could get ready to meet her mom for their evening plans and I could get ready to head to dinner with some of our friends. A group of us went to Freddy’s Wine Bar and split some appetizers before ending our night at Carrigan’s. I was asleep by 11:30 which felt like a major win. 

I got up on Sunday morning and sat outside with my coffee for a bit before getting ready to head to church. After church, I went and got groceries from Trader Joe’s and then went for a long run. I decided to try a new route and happened upon every steep hill there is in Birmingham. I ended my run and walked for a bit while talking on the phone to my parents. Once I got back to our house, I went ahead and prepped my food for the week and eventually ate dinner outside while watching the tail end of the Duke v. UCF game. Afterward, I showered, and my roommate and I started the Netflix series on the Disappearance of Madeleine McCann. After we watched an episode, I put my laundry away, packed my gym and work bag for the morning, and got in bed. 

I hope that y’all had a great week! 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Spring Bucket List

Happy first weekend of Spring! My friends and I are celebrating tonight with a deck party, and I’m excited to have an excuse to spend more time outside now that for the first time in what seems like forever, we had a full week of no rain in Birmingham. Hopefully, the weather is shaping up nicely for a spring-y weekend for you too! As I like to do at the beginning of each season, I’ve created a new Spring Bucket List for y’all. My roommate and I have been printing these and putting them on our fridge in an attempt to hold ourselves accountable. Fortunately, it’s easier to do that when for the most part these activities are enjoyable (spring cleaning is the only debatable one if you ask me).

*illustrations by Evelyn Henson

I hope that you and your friends will cross some of these to-do’s off soon and if you have any you think I should add definitely comment to let me know. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

March Q&A

One of my favorite ways to share more about myself with y’all is through Q&A style posts. I usually take to Instagram and have you ask me questions there which tends to lead to a wide array of things y’all want to know. I know that some of you prefer these in video form, but I haven’t felt particularly inclined to film as of late so hopefully reading through these instead of listening to them is equally as insightful. 

When you buy new clothes do you re-wear them often or do you do more of a one and done?
I re-wear things non-stop. My budget does not allow a one and done mentality, and since I gravitate toward more classic pieces, I find that I am constantly wearing things over and over. If you have followed along for a while, then you have definitely seen me repeat pieces and entire outfits when I share what I’ve been wearing in Step Into My Week posts (I’m about to get back into sharing those outfit ideas since a new season is here). There are a few sweaters that I feel like I should retire after how many times I’ve worn them (and my friends have worn them) this season. When it’s a piece like that that I know I’m going to use a ton, then I don’t feel bad investing in it a little bit more so that it does last. 

Favorite fast food order?
Depends on the place! Chick-fil-A is my favorite fast food location so let’s start with that. If it’s lunch or dinner at Chick-fil-A, usually I’ll order a 12 count nugget (just the nuggets) with Polynesian sauce. If I get a drink, it’s their lemonade. My friends think I am crazy, but I’m not a big potato person. Personally, I prefer my French fries to be as fried as possible, so mushy waffle fries don’t do it for me. If I am eating breakfast at Chick-fil-A, then I am getting a four-count chicken mini meal with a vanilla iced coffee. As for other fast food places I like to get a brown rice bowl at Chipotle (I’m counting it as fast food), the three pack Zax snack at Zaxbys, and the chicken roll-ups with hummus at Zoe’s. I can’t really think of any other fast food places that I eat at so hopefully that covers it. 

Dream vacation?
Right now I would love nothing more than laid back days on a beautiful beach with a book in my hand (and maybe a fruity cocktail in the other). I don’t have any specific destination for a trip of that nature in mind but could definitely pack quickly if someone wants to invite me to do something like this. I would love to go back to Paris and London at some point and think Greece and Italy are other places that I’d really enjoy exploring but I don’t have any plans for any of these trips in the foreseeable future. 

Would you go back to teaching?
Maybe. I’m not going to say no just because I don’t know what my feelings will be in the future, but for the time being, I am so happy that I decided to pursue passions outside of the classroom. I love my new job (at this point it’s not all that new though) and have been so much happier in this position than I was with teaching. I was telling a friend recently that I don’t think I’ve ever been healthier both mentally and physically than I am currently. I do think it would be cool to use my degree by tutoring or finding some way to work with kids in a non-school setting, but I’m not looking to add anything else to my plate currently. My work-life balance is pretty great right now (I never take work home with me which is unheard of in the field of education) so I’m going to stick to enjoying that. 

Do you have any more running goals after your half marathon?
Great question! I kind of addressed that in my post all about my half marathon experience but am happy to answer it here too. My main goal would be to keep up the endurance I worked to build while training for the half and continue to enjoy running. I would love to do another half marathon at some point, but with a busy spring and summer on the horizon, I probably wouldn’t do that until the fall. I would love to convince a friend to do it with me, but I know that training can be time-consuming, so we shall see if that works out. 

What is your typical blog schedule?
I’m guessing this means delegating time to work on posts etc. My goal with blogging is to have all of my blog text written and photos taken the weekend before they are set to go live. Since I work long hours Monday-Thursday (so worth it for a half day every Friday), I don’t typically have time (or daylight) to take photos or the energy to write posts when I get home from the work and gym. Sometimes I’ll spend Friday afternoons working on the posts, but most of the time I’ll go to a coffee shop on Saturday or Sunday for a few hours and try to knock some of it out. If I have a big shopping round up (like this swimsuit or dress post) I start searching for those pieces a week or two out so that I can create the graphics and link everything the week of since that takes less mental capacity and can easily be done while watching TV. Emails and social posting are something I struggle with a bit and don’t feel like I have a typical schedule with. Hopefully, I’ll develop one soon. 

Do you think if you didn’t have your blog it would have been more difficult to change careers?
I think in the profession I was interested in it was certainly helpful but more than anything I think that having a blog gave me the confidence I needed to know that I could be successful in something outside of my major. The consistency in which I’ve kept up Prep In Your Step and the following it has (slowly) gained was a reminder that teaching wasn’t the only thing I could be good at. 

Favorite nail polish color?
Essie Fiji is a year-round favorite for me! 

How do you manage your time so well?
Having a routine makes all the difference for me when it comes to managing my time. If I schedule out when I should be doing things and have a to-do list to follow, I am much more productive. 

Favorite places to shop for work clothes?
Tuckernuck is my favorite store and one that I find a few pieces at each year that I can add to my closet that I know I’ll wear both to work and in everyday life. I think Old Navy is a great affordable option as is H&M although you may have to do some digging there. Nordstrom is another go-to when it comes to basic pieces that I’ll wear on repeat that will last, and I love shopping J.Crew for classic items as well. 

How are you able to consistently wake up so early? 
At this point, it’s a habit which I know is not helpful. I do have a morning routine that I look forward to (some parts at least, doing my hair and putting on makeup just aren’t fun before 6 am) which helps. Being asleep by 10:30 each night is also really helpful (and probably a bit lame to some of y’all). 

What are the best spots in Birmingham?
I have got to explore more of Birmingham. I tried a bunch of new places in November and December, but with friends in school, I feel like we don’t necessarily explore as much as I’d like. I have included some of my favorites below but know that I still have not been to a number of Birmingham classics so I may not be the best person to ask.

Church Street Coffee in Crestline Village (you have to get a breakup cookie while you’re there) and Caveat in Homewood

Crestline Bagel, Big Bad Breakfast, and the Essential

Taco Mama, La Paz, Real and Rosemary, The Pizitz, Saw’s 

Bamboo, Gian Marco’s Wine Bar (probably my favorite restaurant in Birmingham), Chez Fon Fon

Cookie Fix, Big Spoon Creamery, Continental Bakery

Carrigan’s is probably my favorite bar, but the Atomic and Collin’s Bar are also fun. Moe’s is fun but can feel a bit like a college bar at times, so it depends on what you’re feeling.

I love downtown Homewood for wandering around. The Pant’s Store is another favorite for me. I feel like I do most of my shopping online so I’m not sure what other boutiques I’d consider my go-to’s. 

Should I get a master’s or find a better job or both?
I really wish I had an answer for this one, but it totally depends on your feed, whether or not you like what you’re doing now, etc. I’m not using my master’s degree at all (sometimes I forget I have one, oops) so if you’re not loving the field you’re in I would probably say pursuing a master’s in that field isn’t going to bring you added joy to your job just because your paycheck is larger. I in no way regret getting my master’s since it was easy to do while teaching and I already had some of the classes taken care of since I got it at the same place as where I did my undergraduate studies, but I don’t feel like my situation is all that normal. 

Dating? Are you dating anyone? Are you interested in dating?
Y’all are very curious about my dating life which is really funny to me. There were so many other more specific dating questions too but let’s stick to the basics. In short, no I am not dating anyone at the moment. I have been on dates since moving to Birmingham, but dating is never something that I’ve felt all that inclined to share about on the blog since it involves another person and I’m generally a very private person. If you read Step Into My Week posts often, I don’t think that it would be too hard to pick out the times where I talked about what I was up to when in reality it was a date, but I’m not going to be one to come out and say it in a blog post. I wouldn’t say I’m not interested in dating (my philosophy is to always say yes to a first date if someone asks and see where it goes from there), but more than anything since moving to Birmingham I’ve prioritized finding a group of friends. Fortunately, I’ve lucked out in that department and look forward to developing those friendships even further!

Phew, that’s it for today! Hopefully, you feel like you know me a bit better but if this left you with more questions for me then feel free to DM them my way on Instagram (@prepinyourstep).

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Spring Dresses for Wedding Guests, Easter, Formals, and More

 Remember how I told y’all on Monday that I’ve been trying not to pull the trigger on the cute items that I’ve found. Well, I found a solution which is sharing those cute items with you instead of buying them for myself. With weddings, formals, school dances, and Easter on the horizon for many of y’all (sadly weddings and Easter are the only events that I have on my radar) I thought it would be fun to share some of the spring dresses I’ve found online.

If you didn’t catch the post like this I did on swimwear recently be sure to find that here. To shop any of the dresses featured you can click directly on the item you’re interested in to be taken to where it can be purchased.  

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

My Favorite Affordable Online Boutique

Cute clothes are something I have a major weakness for and unfortunately lots of the ones I find that I really like have a price tag that isn’t quite as appealing. While I do my best to find more affordable pieces sometimes that takes some hunting. Boutiques can be a great place to start on that hunt, but so often I have to scroll through pieces I don’t love to discover one or two things I could actually see myself wearing. That was until I discovered Shop Minette.

Shop Minette was started by Erin during the time that she decided to stay at home with her baby girl. Like me, Erin loves to have something to do and finds it hard to sit back and do nothing which led her to fulfill her lifelong dream of owning her own boutique. Minette was named to honor her mother, possessing her mother's maiden name. Erin has such an eye for cute pieces and is drawn to clean, and classic looks that embody a simple yet chic style. 

Since I live in Birmingham and the owner Erin (who is so sweet and stylish) reached out to me, I got to venture into her office to check out the cute clothing she lists in person. When I told my roommate about how excited I was to do this and had her scroll through the shop’s Instagram her reaction was that everything was exactly my style. She couldn’t have been more accurate with that statement since I could easily see myself purchasing anything (and everything if we are being honest) on the site. Since the owner is taller than I am, I love how conscious she is about the lengths of the items she purchases for the boutique. I got to take some of the pieces home to try on and keep, and I’m so excited to share them with y’all. She has new pieces coming in all the time so if you happen across one of these items you love then be sure to scroll through the new arrivals as well since something will surely catch your eye. The best part about these pieces is that they are affordable for the quality they are. You’ll be seeing me in lots of clothes from this store in the coming months! 

I am sharing some items that aren't yet online so that I can give a size reference for you to be ready to shop once they are live. Now all I need is a place to wear all these cute things. 

Although this dress isn't online just yet, it was one of my favorite things I tried on. I am wearing a small but an extra small would probably have fit as well. This dress is fully lined making it perfect to wear as a cover up or dressed up for shopping and dinner. I paired it with these fun blue earrings ($28) and tan sandals in my normal size 8 ($28). The bag is one I've had that I shared a DIY for ages ago (here).


Y'all know I love anything blue and white with a peplum or drop waist hem. This dress ($68) combined those two loves perfectly and is fully lined. The sleeves are sheer which is a fun touch and the length is long enough for me to wear it to work or church. I found that the dress runs true to size, I'm wearing a small, and it looks adorable dressed up with wedges and the Raffia Fan Earrings ($18) also available on the site. 


The silhouette of this dress ($68) isn't like one I've seen before meaning that it's unlikely that you'll match a friend when you wear this out and about. I love that the pale pink color is pink enough to not feel like it washes me out and the slight gingham pattern makes this dress even cuter. The tie can be tied closer to your neck if you'd like or can even be left untied. Another win is that this dress is completely lined and is a decent length! I am wearing it in a small paired with the same Raffia Fan Earrings ($18) as above. 


The next two dresses aren't online just yet but I couldn't resist sharing them anyway. They scream summer to me and would be cute to bring along on a beach vacation while also being the perfect colors to wear on the Fourth of July. I am wearing both of these in an extra small given their flow nature but if you want a little more length then you may want to size up. 


Last, but not least, this red dress isn't online just yet but was too perfect not to go ahead and share. I found that the extra small fit me better in this fully lined midi dress. While it looks cute styled with sandals, I loved the way it looked with these Freshwater Pearl Drop Earrings ($42). Red isn't a color I typically gravitate to but with pockets and a drop waist hem it was an easy sell!

I'm planning to share another try on haul tonight on Instagram including these pieces and a few others so be sure you're following along there (@prepinyourstep) for more details about each of these pieces! 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Step Into My Week

I know that everyone complains about adjusting to this time change, but I am so glad to have a bit of extra daylight. I have found myself in such a good mood now that I have some time out of the office while the sun is still out. Now let’s hope that the sun will stick around for a bit since I am over all the rain we’ve had. 

As I’ve mentioned before, Mondays are often my most productive day. Last week we had a lot of different pieces routing through our team in addition to a staff meeting and general tasks on my to-do list. Before I knew it, it was 5:00 and time to leave. After work, I went to the Y to workout before coming home and quickly showering to watch the Bachelor with my roommate and some of the girls she works with. Pretty much nothing happened in the episode, so we spent most of the time chatting with one another while eating popcorn and cookies. Tuesday was similar other than my day getting off to a very early start with plans to meet a friend for coffee at 6:20. Word to the wise, don’t do that to yourself while you’re still adjusting to the time change. I had another meeting on this day which gave me lots to work on that afternoon since we finalized a few different upcoming photo shoots. After work, I went to the Y despite realizing I should have worked out outside instead because of the sunny weather and then went home, made myself dinner, and watched the Bachelor finale. 

I felt like most of the day on Wednesday was spent emailing back and forth with different businesses to get things squared away for the upcoming shoots we had had a meeting about the day prior. I was able to check some other things off of my to do list as well before going to the gym to workout. After showering and eating dinner, I got in bed early to read my book before falling asleep.

Thursday was a fun work day since a couple of co-workers, and I got to head out of the office to Mountain Brook Village for most of the morning. There was an Open House style event that brought in some creatives from out of town to the stores. We wandered around to meet these artists while looking inside some of the stores that I had yet to go into. We ended up eating lunch at Gilchrist in mountain Brook village before heading back to the office. I wasn’t there all that long before our CEO sent out an email around 4:00 telling everyone to head home early due to tornadoes in surrounding counties. I decided I’d rather be at the gym with other people than at my house alone if there were to be bad weather, so I was able to get my workout done and get home a little bit earlier than normal. The weather was supposed to get worse as the night progressed so the friends I was supposed to go to trivia with, and I collectively decided to bail on that. Instead, I spent the night at home having dinner and reading before bed. 

On Friday morning I got up, got ready, and spent about 30 minutes at Starbucks before work. I was incredibly productive there finishing one of my pieces for our July/August issue, working ahead on resources, and finalizing product shipments for an upcoming photo shoot. After work, I came home and ate lunch before deciding to go for a run since it was sunny and comfortable out.  I ran four miles (with the last two miles at a faster pace than normal) and passed lots of blooming trees and flowers during it. I sat on our back deck for at least 30 minutes if not longer when I got back before eventually showering. My roommate and I met for dinner at six at La Paz in Crestline Village before heading back to our house to watch a movie. 

Saturday morning, I decided I wanted to go to a True40 class. I got up around 8:15 and enjoyed a cup of coffee in bed before heading to the 9:30 class. After the workout, my roommate and I met at Caveat (a coffee shop in Homewood) to work on our respective to-do lists. I came home and had leftovers from dinner the night before as my lunch. I met my friend Allie to go for a walk and get coffee that afternoon. Once I got back to my house Rebecca and I watched the Office for a while before I met our friend Mary for dinner at Saw’s. Rebecca had dinner for a co-workers birthday otherwise she would have joined. Having one on one plans with friends is something that I haven’t been the best at lately (since I love hanging out with our big group of friends) but was reminded of how much more you connect with people in that kind of setting. I went for a drive afterward (really random but I love going for drives and haven’t done that since moving to Birmingham). Once I got home I put on my pajamas and watched part of Ellen DeGeneres’ Netflix special before falling asleep. 

On Sunday I got up around 8:20 (after sleeping for a solid 11 hours). I had coffee and worked on plans for my friend’s bachelorette party before heading to Target to get cleaning supplies for our porch cushions (thrilling, I know). I ate lunch at home and then got dressed to head on a run around the Birmingham Country Club area and Mountain Brook Village. I came home to grab my laptop and went to Church Street Coffee to work on blog text for the week. My roommate joined a bit later on; then it was off to attempt to clean the porch furniture. I went for a walk and caught up with my parents before showering and cooking meals to have for the week. 


Reading: Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford and I’ll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller.
These are the same books I’ve been reading so not much to update y’all on here. After starting I’ll Be There For You, I felt an intense desire to re-watch Friends so be prepared for that urge if you decide to read it. 

Watching: Instant Family
My roommate and I watched this on Friday night once we got back from an early dinner. We had both mentioned wanting to see it, so it was an easy pick for us which isn’t always the case (please tell us we aren’t the only people that sit through and indecisively scrolling through Netflix and Amazon Prime when it comes time to pick out what we want to watch. Instant Family was so cute. Definitely, a heartwarming watch that leaves you in a good mood afterward. We rented it off of Amazon for any of you looking for a place to watch it (although I’d guess it’s cheaper to rent from Redbox). 

Wanting: Vacation Clothes 
Any time I have a trip planned I like to shop around beforehand for cute clothes to wear. I am having to restrain myself from actually purchasing any of these items since I have plenty of clothes, but if I were feeling especially irresponsible, I’d be buying this top, this romper I’ve had my eyes on for a while, and this cute pajama dress.

Eating: Chicken & Veggies
I have been VERY lazy about meal planning lately, so my meals have been lackluster because of that. Baked chicken, broccoli, and sweet potatoes have been my go-to. I mix that up with salads at lunch but need to look through some recipes soon before I get too sick of these items as a meal. 

Planning: Sophia’s Bachelorette in Charleston
While a lot of this is already squared away, now I’m working through the smaller details. I can’t wait to share more about this after the fact (I’ve got to keep some of it a surprise). If you’ve ever been on a bachelorette or planned one and have any fun ideas or activities that y’all did, please let me know! 

Listening To: Bad On Paper Podcast
When it comes to listening to books vs. audiobooks, I find that I’m a bit of a binger. I go through phases of which I do, and right now I’ve moved away from listening to books and have instead been listening to audiobooks. I discovered the Bad On Paper podcast a few weeks ago and have been enjoying listening to it. 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Saturday Shopping vol. 8

The color scheme that accidentally occurred in today's Saturday Shopping post looks a bit like someone who is trying to choose an outfit for a gender reveal party. With beautiful blues and pinks everywhere this season and the combo being a favorite of mine it's unsurprising that I gravitated toward these items. While I obviously love everything featured, I may have to pull the trigger on these pom pom shorts that are on sale and come in multiple colors. They would be perfect to throw on with a vneck and head out the door! 

To purchase an item in the graphic, click directly on the image to be taken to where you can find it.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Affordable Spring Transition Outfit Finds

March can be such a tricky month when it comes to dressing for Spring without neglecting the temperature. Fortunately, in Alabama, it’s not as cold as many places, and I’m able to layer some of my favorite pieces from various seasons to create outfits that look springy without freezing when it’s still cool outside. I’ve put together three different outfits that feature relatively affordable pieces that could easily be paired with items that you may already own for a springy look. Some of the items featured are ones I've had in my closet that I've found similar pieces to and have linked underneath. 

Dressing for the day in Alabama can be tricky since it will be chilly in the morning and then a sold twenty degrees warmer by the time I walk outside in the afternoon. A light jacket in a springy shade makes it easier to shed layers throughout the day to match the temperature outside with ease. I still feel put together when I do take off this lilac layer thanks to the cute square neck and ruffle sleeves of this fully lined tank that I know I'll be wearing non stop well into summer. Paired with an old favorite pair of jeans (Old Navy's 24/7 Rockstar jean that feels more like leggings) and an under $20 pair of tan suede sandals getting dressed in the morning is a little less of a struggle. 


Lilac jacket // white ruffle tank // jeans // sandals // watch // bracelets (1 & 2)

By now y'all probably know how much I love blue and white as well as embroidery. The two combined in this top that I stumbled across on Amazon that keeps going in and out of stock in this color scheme (so keep checking back if you really want it). At $25 I was not expecting it to be as well made as it is. The only thing to make you wary of with this piece is that it's a one size fits all in terms of sizing. I am usually a 2 in tops and am about 5'7" and it works perfectly on me with a bit of room to spare in the body but not a lot of extra length in the arms. The cute grey tassel slides I paired with this outfit were a fun find from last year that are currently on sale! I find that they are the perfect in between shoe when it’s not quite warm enough for sandals. 


Blue and white embroidered top // jeans // tassel slides (also available here) // watch // bracelets (1 & 2)

I’m pretty positive this pink rain jacket was one of my favorite buys from last year. I was in desperate need of a new rain jacket (my old one no longer repelled the rain and had run its course after having it for six years) and the color options that this one provided made it the easiest sell. I was thrilled to see that J.Crew brought it back this year in other bright, springy shades. I have multiple friends who have since snatched it up and I know it will get just as much wear this year during any April showers. Unfortunately this white top was one I found locally so I don’t have an exact link but found a similar piece with an equally adorable off the shoulder silhouette. 



Pink rain jacket // white off the shoulder top (similar) // jeans // sandals // watch // bracelets (1 & 2)

I'd love to hear how you're planning to mix and match pieces as we enter into spring! 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Books I've Read This Year

I am not sure if turning 24 has anything to do with it or the fact that we’ve had more rain and cold weather lately than I can ever remember but I have definitely become more of a grandma when it comes to my behavior as of late. Early bedtimes are my favorite and this year more than ever time spent reading has become a priority. I know I am not alone in adding reading more to my list of goals for the year but so far, I’ve read far more books than I anticipated based on that resolution. The Libby app that allows me to rent audiobooks for free through my library card has definitely contributed to that as well. Thirteen books within two and a half months is certainly a record for me. I’ve shared both the ones I’ve read and listened to this year below along with a synopsis of the plot.

Books I’ve Physically Read:
Never in history has a young woman had so many options before her, yet never has she had less direction or guidance on what to do with them. A woman at the precipice of adulthood often finds herself with more questions than answers, with more disenchantment than direction. How is she supposed to “lean in” to a successful career while also building deeply meaningful relationships? How can she care for the community around her while simultaneously developing a global mindset and changing the world? How can she be all that she is destined to be without feeling paralyzed by the pressure of so many prospects?
Allison Trowbridge knows this dilemma well. She remembers stepping into her twenties and wishing for a mentor to guide her through this dizzying season of life. In Twenty-Two, she becomes the mentor she was looking for. Drawing from her own experience and from the wisdom of others, she offers advice and counsel in a series of personal letters to “Ashley,” a fictional college student looking for mentorship from someone one step ahead in life.
Over the course of twenty-two letters, Trowbridge addresses a wide range of practical issues and ties them to larger concerns such as identity, loss, social impact as a lifestyle, wisdom in the ordinary moments, and the profound way God’s work is realized in how we live every day. Subtly weaving in today’s pressing social concerns—from poverty in our neighborhoods to human trafficking across the globe—Twenty-Two will inspire a greater sense of mission and a passion to live more fully as young women embark on their own remarkable journeys.

When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives. 

In THE MYTH OF THE NICE GIRL, Fran Hauser deconstructs the negative perception of "niceness" that many women struggle with in the business world. If women are nice, they are seen as weak and ineffective, but if they are tough, they are labeled a bitch.

Hauser proves that women don’t have to sacrifice their values or hide their authentic personalities to be successful. Sharing a wealth of personal anecdotes and time-tested strategies, she shows women how to reclaim “nice” and sidestep regressive stereotypes about what a strong leader looks like. Her accessible advice and hard-won wisdom detail how to balance being empathetic with being decisive, how to rise above the double standards that can box you in, how to cultivate authentic confidence that projects throughout a room, and much more.

THE MYTH OF THE NICE GIRL is a refreshing dose of forward-looking feminism that will resonate with smart, professional women who know what they want and are looking for real advice to take their career to the next level without losing themselves in the process.

Everyone yearns to belong, to be part of the "in crowd," but how far are you willing to go to be accepted? In the case of bright, funny and socially ambitious Evelyn Beegan, the answer is much too far...
At 26, Evelyn is determined to carve her own path in life and free herself from the influence of her social-climbing mother, who propelled her through prep school and onto New York's glamorous Upper East Side. Evelyn has long felt like an outsider to her privileged peers, but when she gets a job at a social network aimed at the elite, she's forced to embrace them.

Recruiting new members for the site, Evelyn steps into a promised land of Adirondack camps, Newport cottages and Southampton clubs thick with socialites and Wall Streeters. Despite herself, Evelyn finds the lure of belonging intoxicating, and starts trying to pass as old money herself. When her father, a crusading class-action lawyer, is indicted for bribery, Evelyn must contend with her own family's downfall as she keeps up appearances in her new life, grasping with increasing desperation as the ground underneath her begins to give way.

 I’ll Be There for You is a deep dive into Friends history and lore, exploring all aspects of the show, from its unlikely origins to the societal conditions that amplified its success. Journalist and pop culture expert Kelsey Miller relives the show’s most powerful moments, sheds light on its sometimes dated and problematic elements, and examines the worldwide trends that Friendscatalyzed, from contemporary coffee culture to the wildly popular ’90s haircut The Rachel. Taking readers behind the scenes, Miller traces the cast’s rise to fame and untangles the complex relationship between the actors and their characters. Weaving in revelatory interviews and personal stories, she investigates the role of celebrity media, world-changing events and the dawning of the digital age—all of which influenced both the series and its viewers.

I’ll Be There for You is the definitive retrospective of Friends, not only for fans of the series, but for anyone who’s ever wondered what it is about this show—and television comedy—that resonates so powerfully.

Books I’ve Listened To:

 Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive—and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant—and it does.

After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street she is instantly drawn to the space—and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home’s previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror, as the girl before.

 It isn’t paranoia if it’s really happening . . . 
Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.
Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, mother, their teenaged son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.
What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.
Welcome to Greenwich, Connecticut, where the lawns and the women are perfectly manicured, the Tito’s and sodas are extra strong, and everyone has something to say about the infamous new neighbor.

Let’s be clear: Emily Charlton does not do the suburbs. After leaving Miranda Priestly, she’s been working in Hollywood as an image consultant to the stars, but recently, Emily’s lost a few clients. She’s hopeless with social media. The new guard is nipping at her heels. She needs a big opportunity, and she needs it now.

When Karolina Hartwell, a gorgeous former supermodel, is arrested for a DUI, her fall from grace is merciless. Her senator-husband leaves her, her Beltway friends disappear, and the tabloids pounce.

In Karolina, Emily finds her comeback opportunity. But she quickly learns Greenwich is a world apart and that this comeback needs a team approach.

So it is that Emily, the scorned Karolina, and their mutual friend Miriam, a powerful attorney turned stay-at-home suburban mom, band together to not only navigate the social land mines of suburban Greenwich but win back the hearts of the American public. Along the way, an indispensable ally emerges in one Miranda Priestly.

 When Sarah meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun. And it's mutual: It's as though Eddie has been waiting for her, too. Sarah has never been so certain of anything. So when Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him. But he doesn't call.

Sarah's friends tell her to forget about him, but she can't. She knows something's happened--there must be an explanation.

Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she's right. There is a reason for Eddie's disappearance, and it's the one thing they didn't share with each other: the truth.

 Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle—from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she's desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet—not to mention a possible new romance—the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away—until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Sophie Kinsella is celebrated for her vibrant, relatable characters and her great storytelling gifts. Now she returns with all of the wit, warmth, and wisdom that are the hallmarks of her bestsellers to spin this fresh, modern story about presenting the perfect life when the reality is far from the truth.

 It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years. 

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of  deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

 Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn't normally do. But there's something about Drew Nichols that's too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex's wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend...

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she's the mayor's chief of staff. Too bad they can't stop thinking about the other... 

They're just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century--or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want...

 Growing up, Josie and Meredith Garland shared a loving, if sometimes contentious, relationship. Josie was impulsive, spirited, and outgoing, Meredith hardworking, thoughtful, and reserved. When tragedy strikes, their delicate bond splinters.

Fifteen years later, Josie and Meredith are in their late thirties, following very different paths. Josie, a first grade teacher, is single—and this close to swearing off dating for good. What she wants more than the right guy, however, is to become a mother—a feeling that is heightened when her ex-boyfriend’s daughter is assigned to her class. Determined to have the future she’s always wanted, Josie decides to take matters into her own hands.

On the outside, Meredith is the model daughter with the perfect life. A successful attorney, she’s married to a wonderful man, and together they’re raising a beautiful four-year-old daughter. Yet lately Meredith feels dissatisfied and restless, secretly wondering if she chose the life that was expected of her rather than the one she truly desired. 

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms, and painful secrets from the past begin to surface, Josie and Meredith must not only confront the issues that divide them but also come to terms with their own choices. In their journey toward understanding and forgiveness, both sisters discover that they need each other more than they knew—and that in the search for true happiness, love always comes first.

Next Up: 
 In a heartbeat, everything changes…
Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son, Ben, when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry—until Ben vanishes.  
Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister. Inevitably, media attention focuses on Rachel too, and the public’s attitude toward her begins to shift from sympathy to suspicion.
As she desperately pieces together the threadbare clues, Rachel realizes that nothing is quite as she imagined it to be, not even her own judgment. And the greatest dangers may lie not in the anonymous strangers of every parent’s nightmares, but behind the familiar smiles of those she trusts the most.
Thirty-three-year-old Shea Rigsby has spent her entire life in Walker, Texas—a small college town that lives and dies by football, a passion she unabashedly shares. Raised alongside her best friend, Lucy, the daughter of Walker’s legendary head coach, Clive Carr, Shea was too devoted to her hometown team to leave. Instead she stayed in Walker for college, even taking a job in the university athletic department after graduation, where she has remained for more than a decade.
But when an unexpected tragedy strikes the tight-knit Walker community, Shea’s comfortable world is upended, and she begins to wonder if the life she’s chosen is really enough for her. As she finally gives up her safety net to set out on an unexpected path, Shea discovers unsettling truths about the people and things she has always trusted most—and is forced to confront her deepest desires, fears, and secrets.

*These are books that I haven’t yet finished reading/listening to but have started.
As for books I’ll physically read it will more than likely be one from this list. Let me know if there is any book you've been reading lately and loved! 

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