Friday, July 31, 2020

A Colorful End of Summer Table For DoSayGive

Do y’all ever see something and think, “I wish I thought of that?” I know I can’t be alone when I see or hear a good idea and wish it were my own. That’s how I felt when someone from Lee of Do Say Give's team reached out to me about helping with their teen etiquette course. With summer camps canceled and kids looking for activities, I instantly had one of those moments where I wish I had come up with the concept. I certainly wouldn’t have executed it quite as flawlessly as Lee and her team but was beyond flattered when they asked if I would create a video all about correctly setting the table. 


Teenage me would’ve looked at that email with an eye roll since setting the table used to feel like such a chore. Now, especially given my job, it’s one of my favorite ways to express creativity while helping people feel welcome and comfortable when we are gathered together. For work, there are usually specific parameters I need to follow for the tablescapes I create that are run in the issues of our magazine, but for this one, the goal was to make it fun for the girls signed up for the course. 


It didn’t take long for me to look online at some of my favorite sites to find pieces that felt fun to use in the video. Pomegranate has been a long time favorite of mine (you can see one of their tablecloths I used at a Derby here), and I knew the bright colors would feel summery and fresh. I was immediately drawn to their Emma print with its block design and mix of pinks, greens, and blues. Since I knew I was going to be using plain white plates, I got the matching napkin set as well to place on top of the plate. To fill a bit more space, woven placemats and flower napkin rings seemed good for summer without feeling fussy. I got those from Freshly Set, a new tabletop rental site that is essentially Rent the Runway for any dinner party you’re hosting. I’m excited to share another tablescape that I partnered with them on in a couple of weeks because this is another one of those concepts I wish I had come up with myself. Lastly, I “accessorized” the table with flowers in mason jars covered with Lucy Grymes vase wraps on top of Shop Surcie coasters with colorful acrylic tumblers from there on our buffet area. 


While the video will remain exclusive for the girls that signed up, I’m excited to share some of the photos I took of the completed table. I’ve included links to the items shown for y’all in case you’re feeling inspired to dress up your table in the near future. Since I know most of us aren’t hosting big events, going slightly fancier with your plates and napkins for dinner one night would be a fun way to switch up any monotony in your routine! 




If you're not already following along with Lee go ahead and check out her site here. Do Say Give encompasses exactly what the name implies and is a wonderful resource no matter your age! And if you're looking to shop anything featured the links can be found below. Happy Friday! 

my dress: Crosby by Mollie Burch (last year but currently on sale on their site)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

What I Purchased From J.Crew's 72% Off Sale

Maybe two posts today will make up for a lack of posts yesterday, but if not, J.Crew’s incredible sale will. If you missed my first post from today, it can be found here and is highlighting all the cute pieces that are a part of Tuckernuck’s sale, and while those are great, the discounts for J.Crew’s sale are even more significant. I shopped the sale last night and was so excited to get a few pieces I’ve had my eyes on for more than 70% off. I’ve included what I purchased directly below, but for all my favorites, you can scroll through this post to see them! Between the time I shopped last night and this morning, I noticed more sizes and styles became included, but I wouldn’t be surprised if things started to sell out soon. Use the code SALETIME to get the discount and remember to sign in to your account (or create one) in order to get free shipping! 

Tuckernuck Sale on Sale

I do my best not to oversaturate my blog with solely shopping posts, but today there are two really great sales that I am personally shopping that I’m breaking the rules for. The first of those is the Tuckernuck sale in which all sale pieces are 25% off with the code FLASH25. Y’all know I love Tuckernuck and wear their pieces often, and I was surprised to see so many favorites from spring and summer included at such great prices. I’ve put together some of my favorites below for y’all to see just how cute the options are. Instead of being able to shop by clicking directly on the items in the image below, scroll under the picture to find everything I’m loving! 
Also, be sure to stay on the lookout for my favorites from J.Crew’s massive 72% off sale in a separate post going live today. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Dorm Room Design Ideas

Designing my dorm room was something that I was overly excited about when I went away to college. Now, years later, I still love the thought of getting to design a space from scratch. That makes a lot of sense given my job, but since I’m pretty settled with where I am in Birmingham, I no longer have the opportunity to search out new pieces to update my room year after year since I really like the way it looks. I used this as my excuse to put together a few different color schemes of products that could be used in dorm rooms or other bedrooms for any of you that may be on the hunt for something new. 

The beauty of filling a dorm room is that there’s usually not too much space to have to fill. Focusing on your bed and bedding is an excellent place to start since that space is entirely your own and you want it to be comfortable, and you may not need to consult with your roommate on what you want it to look like (although I’m a big fan of coordinating bedding for roommates since it does help the space to look more intentionally designed). Y’all knew there would be no way for me to put together something like this without including a blue colorway, but for those of you who may not be as big of a blue fan as me, I also put together a cute pink and neutral option. Even if you’ve already figured out what you’re going to use for the most part, maybe this will help you to fill in any gaps that may be missing. And if you haven’t already seen it, definitely take a look at my dorm room essentials post from a few weeks back! 

To shop the pieces shown in each of these inspiration boards, you’ll want to scroll beneath the image to find links to the individual pieces! 

You can shop for many of the pieces shown above by clicking on the items in the photos below! 

Monday, July 27, 2020

Step Into My Week 7.27

I couldn't start today's post without first informing y'all of the Lake Pajama sale that just started. I mentioned it on Instagram last night but didn't want anyone interested in shopping it to miss the sale! I have my fair share of Lake Pajamas, and they are some of the softest pajamas I own. I wear a small in the styles I have, and I included links to some of my favorite items included in the sale at the bottom of this post!

I started my Monday with a workout at True40 even though I wasn’t super excited to go when my alarm went off in the morning. Then the workday began with a few photo meetings, lots of emails sent, and some prep work for the coming weeks. I had to go into the office in the afternoon to transform one of our kitchens into a video-ready studio while also getting ready for my own shoots. Once I had done that, there were a few errands for work that needed to be done, so I tried to get those done before it started to storm. Somehow, I finished that and went to the grocery store before the bottom dropped out. The rest of my night was pretty uneventful, given that I showered and ate dinner.

I know people always joke about Christmas in July, but at work, that’s very much so a reality. We’ve had a Christmas tree set up in one of our studios since May, and there will be a heyday if anyone takes it down anytime soon. I had two different Christmas cover shoots on Tuesday, so I fall into the freak out category if the tree disappeared since I needed it for what I was working on. We got off to a slow start since the humidity outside wasn’t meshing well with the recipes we featured, but somehow we finished before 4:00 with praise of the finished product by everyone involved! I unpacked my cart and started preparing for the shoot I had the next day before heading home. I relaxed for a little while before going to a friend’s house to make pasta for dinner and watch an episode of The 100. Naturally, I fell asleep while watching it and now need to rewatch the second half to know what actually happened before continuing with the series, oops. That was a tell-tale sign that it was time to go home and call it a day.

Wednesday, I had a photoshoot that included individual shots for a couple of our different food titles. I got to work early to make sure I had everything I needed for when the shoot began at 9:00. The shoot wrapped by noon, which was really impressive and gave me plenty of time to work on my expense report in the afternoon, which definitely isn’t my favorite task. After heading home, I worked on blog posts and graphics for a while before making dinner and having bible study in our living room. The couple of friends that came over for that left around 9:00, and I read for a bit before going to sleep. 

I didn’t have a shoot scheduled for Thursday, so I took advantage of that by going to a True40 class in the morning before work. When I got home, I showered and did some laundry before sitting down in the living room to work with the Today show on in the background. I made lunch at home and then spent the afternoon working at the office. I left around 3:30 and went on a very hot walk with Nell in the afternoon. Toward the end of our walk, we happened upon an outdoor couch that someone was getting rid of that matches the rest of the deck furniture at my house and started scheming a way to get it home. We didn’t want to leave it there for fear that someone would steal our treasure but remembered that one of our friends recently got a truck and called him to see if he would help. Fortunately, he agreed and was there five minutes later after the neighbor across the street got a good laugh at Nell, and I sitting on the couch in the road. We put it out back, and I feel like I’m going to need to make new friends just to fill up all the seating we now have on the deck! We rewarded ourselves with Sonic slushies before she went back home to study, and I showered and got ready for dinner. A friend and I went to Abhi for sushi in Mountain Brook Village and hung out for a little while after that before I went home and fell asleep before 10:00.

Friday morning, I slept until around 6:20 and drank coffee in bed while reading. Mornings like this are my favorite, especially on weeks that feel busier. Since Taylor Swift released a new album this day, I listened to it repeatedly for most of the morning. I got to work a little before 8:00 to make sure I had everything I needed on my cart for the shoot I had scheduled only to discover after setting up for the first shot that it got canceled. I don’t think I’ve ever had a shoot get canceled day of so that was different but gave me some much-needed time at my desk to organize my thoughts and calendar for what is sure to be a busy August. Summer months are always busy in the magazine world since that’s usually when we are styling photos for Christmas, but Covid has made that a bit of a challenge. Writing out all of my shoots from August has me a little overwhelmed, but hopefully, by knowing what’s to come, I can work ahead so that it’s not too crazy. I stayed at the office until around lunchtime when I headed home. I ate and worked on blog content for this week so that at least some of that would be finished ahead of time! I also got on a cleaning kick and decided to wash my shower curtain, bath mats, etc., which felt very productive. In the afternoon, I went to a friend's house to try to come up with an activity to do, but we never really came up with anything and went to get Mexican food for dinner with friends before just hanging out.

I woke up around 7:30 on Saturday and had a slow morning working from bed. I eventually showered and moved to the living room to watch The Bold Type and work on my computer for a while. I eventually made lunch and didn't do much for the rest of the afternoon. That night Nell came over, and we made brownies before picking up pizza and finally watching Hamilton. For those who haven't seen it and don't necessarily know the music, I would definitely recommend turning on the subtitles. Nell left around 10:00, and I was asleep pretty soon after.

Sunday had the perfect mix of doing nothing and having an activity. I talked to my brother on the phone in the morning before heading to a friend's house to watch soccer for a little while. After that, we went to Carrigan's Beer Garden for a little while to grab lunch. Then I left and went to the grocery store, hung out at Nell's apartment, and talked on the phone with my parents. The rest of the night was spent cooking some food for the week, reading, and going to bed early.

I hope that y'all also had a nice week and weekend! As I mentioned above, you can shop my favorites from the Lake Pajama summer sale below.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Sunday Styling vol. 7

I know I say that I want all of the items featured in these Sunday Styling posts week after week but the dress in outfit 1 and the entirety of outfits 3 and 4 are making that especially true in today's installment of the series. By now you probably know that you can shop the pieces shown for each of these outfits below the image! 

Outfit #1:

Outfit #2:

Outfit #3:

Outfit #4:

Outfit #5:

You can also shop majority of the items by scrolling through them below! 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Saturday Shopping vol. 52

After re-reading some of my past Saturday Shopping posts I realize that in addition to whatever cute clothing pieces I've found over the week, I also have a tendency to give y'all a weather update. So, on the off chance you read these posts to find out about Birmingham's weather on a given Saturday it's supposed to be overcast and eventually rainy today. You never know with summer weather though, so I guess we will just have to wait and see.

But now for what you actually clicked on this post for...lots of cute summery finds! You can click directly on the items you're interested in to be taken to where they can be shopped. Enjoy!

Friday, July 24, 2020

How To Prepare For The 2020 Nordstrom Anniversary Sale If You're Choosing To Shop

The second half of summer undoubtedly means scorching temperatures and feeling silly thinking about fall clothing while shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. If you read any other blogs/follow bloggers on Instagram, it’s likely that you’re already hearing a murmur about the sale and with good reason since it really is that good. In year’s past, the sale would be in full swing already, but due to Covid-19, it has been delayed until August. I appreciate that given that it’s tough to get excited about jeans and sweaters in the heat of the summer, and while I know it’s optimistic to think it’ll be any cooler in August, at least fall will be a little bit closer.

I do my best not to oversaturate my blog with sale posts throughout the year, but given that this is a sale I’ve been shopping for years, you’ll be seeing some coverage both on here and on Instagram as it’s happening. I realize that a lot has changed for many people this year and in no way want you to feel any pressure from me to shop if that’s not something you’re interested in. Because of that, I try to be intentional with what I am posting and will certainly have non-sale related posts live as usual to break up more shopping heavy content. 

Another way in which the sale is being run differently this year is that now everyone can shop all of the pieces that will be offered today (starting at 9:30 am EST) instead of waiting for the sale to actually begin. If you have a Nordstrom account, you’re able to save the items you’re interested in to a wish list, which will make things easier when you are able to finally shop. The sale will open to cardholders on Thursday, August 13th. It’s not too late to sign up to be a cardmember to shop Early Access here. Then, the sale opens to everyone on Wednesday, August 19th, and runs until Sunday, August 30th. 

Why is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale a big deal?
Unlike most sales, this sale allows you to shop brand new pieces for the upcoming season at a discounted price before you’d actually wear them. Nordstrom puts brand-name products that are new for fall and on-trend on sale for you to shop ahead of the season, talk about nice! The savings for this sale are significant, and since Nordstrom offers a variety of price points, you can expect affordable and splurge-worthy sale finds! On top of all of that, Nordstrom is known to have amazing customer service, free shipping and returns, and perks for cardholders. It’s too easy not to love shopping this sale! It’s important to note that this year Nordstrom announced that there would be less inventory due to Covid-19, so I have a feeling they will be bringing back many of the most-loved items from previous year’s sales.

Why do bloggers talk so much about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? 
It is no secret to most of y’all that a lot of bloggers have monetized their blogs and are able to make a commission from links used based on the sale. Talk about the best job ever! The posts you’ll be seeing from bloggers have had hours and hours poured into them from shopping the site to creating the image and the content surrounding it. It makes sense that money is being made since, even though it is enjoyable work, it is still work nonetheless. I am included in that population of bloggers but want to make something really clear with y’ all. By sharing all of my picks from the sale with y’all as well as my favorite items in different categories of the sale, I am in no way trying to convince you that you need a new pair of riding boots or a coat (aka material things) to be happy. I think we all get that that is not my intention. I work really hard to make sure that I mix up my more materialistic/shopping style post with posts that provide you with advice in different situations to genuinely help you out. I wouldn’t be raving about the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale if it wasn’t something that I actually shopped and looked forward to every year. For many bloggers that have chosen to do this as their living, the affiliate commission is one of the ways they support themselves. So, whether you choose to shop from my links (thanks if you do!) or theirs, you’re supporting them without having to put in any additional effort as you shop. 

When does the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale start?
Early Access for this year’s sale will begin on Thursday, August 13th at 9:30 am EST. You must be a Nordstrom Rewards cardholder to shop Early Access. If you don’t have a card yet, then keep reading below for information on how to sign up. 

Public Access for the sale begins Wednesday, August 19th at 9:30 am EST. Those of you shopping Public Access will still be able to see all of what will be on sale today just like everyone else but will only be able to use the wishlist feature instead of actually adding inventory to your cart.

The sale runs for everyone until Sunday, August 30th.

What is the best way to shop the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale early?
To access Early Access of the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, you’ll need to sign up for a Nordstrom credit card. The sooner you do this, the better since as the sale approaches, it may be trickier for you to be approved and get your card in time to shop. On top of getting to access the sale early, you’ll be able to earn money towards future purchases by using it on Nordstrom and its affiliates’ sites. You’ll get 3 points for every dollar spent to be applied toward gift cards, AND you can use your Double Points Day during the sale, which will have you earning rewards quickly.

My Nordstrom card is the only store credit card I have since I shop there often and love the perks offered. As I’m sure you don’t need me telling you, spend within your means and pay off your balance asap. It can be tempting to want to stock up on so many of the great pieces offered during the sale, but it’s not worth it if you’re going to be accumulating credit card debt because of it! 

How can I make shopping the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale easier? 
Since there are so many pages of sale items during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, it can get overwhelming relatively quickly. Spend some time before the sale evaluating your fall wardrobe and thinking about where there might be holes or items you may need to replace. By going into the sale with a game plan, you’ll likely purchase fewer items you don’t need. On top of that, I’ll be sharing posts with you to help make your shopping experience easier, which leads me to my next point…

What can you expect on Prep In Your Step during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale? 
I recently sat down to plan out how I can be most helpful during the Anniversary Sale and have come up with content and posts that I think y’all will enjoy. I plan to share my favorites from this year’s sale, the pieces I already own and love, what I am going to purchase, and plenty of outfit ideas in my Sunday Styling post series. If you have anything else you’re interested in me sharing, I would LOVE to know as that will help me to do a better job as a resource for you! 

What pieces can I expect to go on sale? 
This year that isn’t even a question you have to ask since today everyone can view what is on sale and the price here. 

You can check out the posts I did last year covering the sale below to get a feel for all the things that will be going on sale that I gravitate toward and what type of content to expect this year! 

I hope you’ll plan to check back here and on my Instagram throughout the duration of the sale for inspiration when it comes to what you may want to buy. Not to toot my own horn, but I am pretty darn good at shopping and am happy to share my finds with y’all! I hope you’re having a happy Friday.

From my first scroll through of the products, here are some of the things that caught my eye! You can 100% bet I'll be ordering these and given how much I wear my Barbour I am very interested in this new-to-me style

Thursday, July 23, 2020

July 2020 Q&A

Somehow I forgot to work on a Questions and Answers post for y’all in June, but I’m glad to be back answering y’alls questions this month! These posts are great for me personally since it gives me a chance to see what you’re interested in knowing based on the questions you ask me on Instagram. They tend to be all over the place, which is kind of refreshing, so I hope you enjoy reading through what is asked and my answers as well! 

Productive things to do at home and get organized and clean! 
With the school year approaching, one productive thing I like to do this time of year is to organize my desk. Especially since I’ve been working from home a good bit, it has become a catch-all of sorts and could use a bit of organization. Whether that’s recycling papers I don’t need or properly filing them, I think that’s where I’d start. Otherwise, cleaning and organizing my drawers and closet always makes me feel productive! 

Love life status? You’ve been talking about a “friend” quite a bit!
Whoever asked this has clearly been a long-time reader and knows that when I use the word “friend” without giving a name, it’s usually a good guess to assume I’m referring to a guy and, more often than not, a guy I have gone on dates with. So, great sleuthing, and I’ll admit that this time is no different. To be slightly more transparent, I’ve been dating someone since mid-March (aka right before quarantine started). If you’ve read Step Into My Week posts, then you may have already seen him there, but just because I’m answering this question now doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly start sharing a ton more now. I’ve always been a private person (funny that I have a blog when that is the case) and intend to continue to keep parts of my personal life more private, so “friend” may continue to remain code for him, that’s to be determined.

If you were turning 21 now, what are some gifts you would want?
Thinking back to my 21st birthday, I remember telling my parents I wanted something that I could have forever. Looking back, 21 is kind of a funny birthday to insist on wanting something long-lasting, but they made it happen. I received a beautiful vase from one of my favorite artists, Caroline Boykin, that I love displaying in my room and have ever since receiving it. Jewelry is another great gift you can have forever. At 21, I didn’t yet have my Michele Watch, and I think that would be an incredible 21st birthday gift. I wear mine daily and never would have considered myself to be a watch person until I received it. 

I think a trip would also be a fun experiential gift. Now that I’ve gotten older, schedules have gotten busier, and my family is spread apart I wish I would have insisted on some sort of family trip. That would be a gift that would keep giving to other family members, but I also know it may be hard to actually execute. 

Chic and/or personalized phone cases? Mine is currently falling apart?
I LOVE  mine from  The Daily Edited. It’s protective and durable, and the customization options are seemingly endless. I’m the type of person who usually only has one phone case from the time I get a phone to the time I upgrade it years later, so I don’t mind spending a little bit more upfront.  This shop has some more affordable personalized options, but I can’t speak to the durability of them since I haven’t actually used one.

How do you stay motivated to work out?
It took some time after our shelter in place was lifted for me to feel comfortable going back to my workout studio (which is at half client capacity with more time to clean between class times) and it also took a lot of hyping myself up to get motivated to get back to working out. Now, even when I don’t want to go, I know how much better and more productive I feel when I have worked out. Cute workout clothes and a workout you really love make a difference too! 

What advice do you have for someone just starting out in blogging?
Create your blog on WordPress. I know that’s probably not the advice you’re looking for, but I’m still dragging my feet when it comes to switching from the platform I use, Blogger, to WordPress. I know I’d be able to customize my site more to my liking and utilize features that could potentially help my website grow, but I know it will be a process to finally switch things over. 

Other than that, just start and remain true to yourself. I have a blog post with other  advice for new bloggers here

Favorite midwestern place to visit? Kinda random, just curious. I’m from the Midwest. 
I haven’t actually been to the Midwest, so I don’t have an answer to this, but I would love to visit someday. 

Favorite nail polish colors?
Essie is my go-to when it comes to nail polish, and their gel line is particularly great. It’s long-lasting and applies very smoothly! The colors I’ve been rotating through this summer are:  Lace Me Up,  Make The Cut, and  Perfect Posture. Make sure to use the  gel top coat too! 

Which online stores’ websites do you browse the most?
Given the fact that I’ve been trying to keep up with my Saturday Shopping series, I am constantly online browsing for cute products to include. It feels like I never put together one of those posts without items from H&M, Nordstrom, Tuckernuck, and lately, Stories. Personally, I love to look at Zara and Mango’s sites for pieces to potentially add to my own closet. 

What are some fun activities you’ve been up to?
It feels like this summer has been filled with far fewer activities (and with good reason), but I have been trying my best to add in a few fun things lately! I would say playing tennis and going on walks have been some of my favorite outdoor activities, and in addition to that, my friends and I have been trying some cocktail recipes, and I’ve been playing lots of  board/card games

Do you still love blogging?
I do! There are some times when it feels like a chore since it isn’t my full-time job, and I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to get posts up, but I do really enjoy it and appreciate having a place to store my thoughts and express my creativity. 

What do you miss most about life before COVID?
Going to restaurants and hanging out with lots of friends without having to overthink things! I also miss typical things I look forward to each season. It was a bummer not having activities like Thursday night baseball games and trips to weddings to look forward to. Hopefully, we can get all this under control soon, but for now, I’m doing my best to find the positives (like working from home in pajamas with unlimited access to coffee and doing a better job of appreciating the little things). 

Favorite TV shows you’ve been watching?
In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been catching up on the newest seasons of The Bold Type. Aside from that, I’ve been watching The 100 with said “friend” above, and we both agree it’s a show we both enjoy. There’s a lot that happens in each episode, so it isn’t a show to multitask during but is an interesting mix of science and survival, which I realize sounds like a bad way to explain it. 

Do you have a team that helps you?
Nope, I pretty much do everything solo. I do have a couple of friends who I feel comfortable asking for help on photos I need to be in (definitely one of the most uncomfortable parts of blogging in my opinion), but other than that, it’s a one-woman show! 

What sustainable clothing brands/items do you love?
Many sites are working towards making their clothing more sustainable, so I don’t have a list of those running, but I do have an item that definitely makes the cut as my favorite sustainable discovery. Enter  the makeup eraser. It’s like makeup wipes but is a cloth that can be washed over and over again and only needs to be dampened to remove your makeup! 

Who are your favorite Peloton instructors & classes?
Ally Love is my all-time favorite, and her Sundays with Love classes never fail me. I also really like Cody Rigsby! Since gyms have been closed and I haven’t been at my parent’s house where our Peloton is, I haven’t taken a class in forever, and I really miss it. 

Where did you get inspiration for decorating your apartment/house? 
I tend to just go off of what I like, which isn’t super helpful. I still LOVE looking at Pinterest for inspiration, too, and follow a lot of interior designers/decorators on Instagram as well. 

Before I bore y’all anymore, I’m going to wrap this post up. If you think of anything else, you’d like to know, then be sure to follow along on Instagram so that you can ask it the next time I request questions for a Q&A style post. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

My Quarantine To-Do List (That Still Hasn't Gotten Done)

I know I can’t be the only one who had made an ambitious to-do list when quarantine and working from home began. The thing is, mine really wasn’t that ambitious but instead was filled with small tasks (that probably wouldn’t take that long to do) that I had been putting off for a while. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that learning to work from home when routine and structure felt long gone was enough of a task that getting to some of these “projects” felt more taxing than I wanted them to be. 

Fast forward to now when we are no longer in quarantine per se but are still spending a little bit more time at home (and now splitting my time between home and the office), and I suddenly feel the urge to check these things off my list. It definitely seems counterintuitive to be motivated to want to work through my to-do list items now when I am back to being a bit busier, but I told myself to take advantage of this urge and actually get things done. So, I’m sharing my list with y’all here to hold myself accountable and maybe encourage you to finally get around to that task you’ve been putting off as well. I’m kicking myself for not doing some of these things sooner, given that I’ve probably spent longer thinking about the task than the time it took to actually get it done. 

Move Photos from Phone to Computer

Delete Photos from Phone

Print Photos & Reorganize Bulletin Board

Work On Two DIY Blog Posts

Buy New Running Shoes

Work Ahead on Blog Posts and Photos

What is something on your list that still hasn't gotten done? 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Dorm Room Essentials

With the uncertainty of what is going on in the United States with the virus, I’ve continued to put off sharing this post in case colleges choose to go virtual for the semester. From what I can tell so far, it seems like many are planning to be on campus, which causes a sigh of relief as I think about my time in college and how different it would have been to start the experience at home. Those of you who are reading this and are incoming freshman I feel for you and after an odd end to your senior year think more than anyone y’all deserve to be on campus for the most normal start of college that you can get. 

Personally, I remember the summer before going to college as one filled with anticipation. 1. Anticipation to find out if I had made the right choice on where to go to school, 2. anticipation to find out who my friends would be, and 3. anticipation of how well I would be able to make a dorm room feel like home. As with most things, everything worked out as it was supposed to, and I would now tell my 18-year-old self 1. You made the right choice, 2. your friends will be even better than you imagined, and 3. With the right supplies, you will make your dorm room feel like a welcoming retreat on campus.

Part of the excitement that comes along with going away to college for the first time is coupled with the idea of freedom and as exciting as that is, colleges seem to like to give you some of that freedom by way of a shoebox-sized dorm room that you share with a roommate. I know many people wouldn’t say this, but I’d gladly re-live in my freshman year dorm again with my roommate. Nell and I made our room distinctive of our personalities but also comfortable and practical. I have her to thank for the sound machine that made the list of what I consider to be dorm room essentials. So while most of you probably stocked up on what you would need and want for your dorm room as you graduated, I wanted to make sure to share my list of essentials for those that may still have some shopping to do. 

See where I lived here:

Nell, I blame and thank you for this one. When moving into our freshman dorm, Nell brought along this sound machine, and I quickly became hooked. When living on a busy hall where not everyone values sleep as much as you might, a sound machine that provides a bit of white noise and peace is amazing. Even though Nell and I no longer live together, a piece of our time together still is given that I have owned my own sound machine ever since.

Hear me out on this one...Is a fancy detergent really necessary? No, but little luxuries like the smell of the diva scent glamorous wash detergent gave me a taste of home even when I was 8 hours away. I never thought I’d take pride in a detergent being my signature scent, but my little figured out I was her big because the t-shirts I gave her “smelled like me.” Now when my friends hug me or walk into my room after I’ve done laundry, they always say I smell like me, which means I smell like this detergent. A secret of making this detergent last longer is to put a cap full in with a regular, unscented detergent. That way, you get the scent from the pricier detergent but the cleanliness from a more affordable option.

As a huge fan of natural light, I’ve realized that occasionally it comes at a price. Somehow, I ended up with windows that offer great natural light but also have artificial street lights nearby that gave my room a glow even at night. I have gotten to the point where I like total darkness when I sleep, making blackout curtains a responsible choice. The ones I’ve included are from PB Teen and are a bit more expensive (but are the *best* and *cutest* blackout curtains I’ve had), so here is a more affordable option as well.

This is a bit of a cheat since I never had these in my dorm room; however, I so wish I had! In my apartment, these were the perfect way to organize some bathroom products in the tiny space that I had, meaning it could do the same thing in your dorm room! These shelves have been a cute way to display perfumes and products I reach for often without cluttering my counter space. Plus, they are available on Amazon Prime, a major win in my book.

This may not be essential for everyone, but if you’re looking to make your dorm room a bit homier, a headboard is a perfect solution! I made both of the headboards I used in college and got one from Not Just Dorms for my first post-grad apartment and am still using it in the house I’m in now. There is something about a headboard that makes a room look more complete. You’ll quickly find that your bed will serve many purposes in your dorm, from sleeping to a study spot and even additional seating when friends come to hang out. A headboard is a great way to make your bed more inviting in all of those situations.

If you’re not a coffee lover yet, college has the potential to make you one. While I do have friends that deny themselves of this simple energizing pleasure and can resist a daily cup of coffee, for those of you like me who can’t, a Keurig in your room will be a game-changer. I’ve been using the same Keurig since my junior year, and it has undergone making more than one cup of coffee for my roommates and me for years. Although you may have a meal plan where you can grab a cup of coffee in your dining hall on the way to class, there are times you will be in a hurry or want/need a late-night cup making it convenient to have your own coffee maker in your dorm. It may just be the best roommate you ever have!

The best space-saving piece of furniture I had in my dorm rooms was a desk hutch. With textbooks, notebooks, and pens and pencils alike, your desk can get crowded quickly. Instead of spreading out your stuff atop of your desk, spread up. My desk hutch was super easy to build and under $50 (which is a steal compared to many others that were available when I was on the hunt). Available in a few different colors, it’s easy to match your decor and furniture while giving you a little bit of extra room.

Removable wall hangers may seem like a no brainer but stock up ahead of time because you won’t want to pause your dorm decorating to run out to try to find these (which can be tricky in a college town). All four years in college, we were unable to hang things any other way than using non-damaging, removable wall hangers, and I found that ones that had velcro on both sides ensured that what I was hanging stayed up and that I didn’t damage the wall come time to move out.

Closet space wasn’t overly abundant in college. From storing costumes for different functions to your suitcase for trips home, making the most of the space was important. Before I left for college my freshman year, I switched all the hangers in my closet to skinny huggable hangers. These hangers gave me the ability to fit more pieces of clothing horizontally in my closet and even had the ability to cascade downward. I can’t imagine how tight my closet would have felt had I chosen to use plastic ones.

My freshman and sophomore dorms had community-style bathrooms meaning that nearly 40 girls were using the same space to brush their teeth, wash their faces, and shower. As someone who doesn’t love getting ready with other people, I couldn’t foresee myself putting on makeup while making small talk in our hall bathroom. Instead, I purchased a small makeup mirror that sat on my desk to allow that space to double as a vanity. If you’re anything like me and plan to get ready in the comfort of your own space, this is a must-have!

So I may be pushing it with the term “essential” at this point by including a personalized pillow; however, touches like this made my room feel so much more like home. Whether you go for something monogrammed or something patterned in your favorite color, these touches of your personality will provide a sense of comfort.

Dorm beds are NOT comfy. A mattress topper should high on your list of items to buy for your dorm room. In college, I always had a down feather topper, but now that I’ve switched to a Tempurpedic topper, I wish I had had one of those in college too, and I NEVER would’ve expected myself to like it. Your bed will be just as much of a couch as a bed in a cramped dorm room, so consider investing, given that it’s serving dual purposes.

Along with a dorm room, you’ll also likely be getting a roommate. Whether or not you know them in advance, there are going to be times that one of you will be staying up later than the other. A bedside table lamp will make the lighting a bit less intense for when you may need light while your roommate is trying to sleep and is a courteous way to allow both of you to use the room simultaneously for different purposes. The same goes for in the morning if you are waking up earlier than your roommate and need to turn on a light while getting ready.

I don’t know if I’ve ever taken quite as many pictures in a period of life as I did during my freshman year. Everything feels so new, so it makes sense to document these changes with photos. While it’s fun to share them on social media and have them to scroll through on your phone, there’s something about printing out pictures for your space that feels homey. Don’t forget to add some of your friends and family back at home too. I love this bulletin board that I currently use from PB Teen (more affordable option here), but a simple board from target is an easy solution for covering bland dorm walls as well. I covered my Target bulletin board with fabric that matched my room for my junior and senior year, making my space look even more cohesive.

Remember how I mentioned that dorms can have community-style bathrooms? Well, this is when a robe or shower wrap comes in especially handy. I ran into plenty of people on our hall as I was headed to the shower (don’t forget shower shoes!), and it was a bit less awkward since I wasn’t fumbling with a towel to try to cover up.

In dorm rooms, I wasn’t really the type to walk around barefoot. Something about knowing lots of other people have treaded through my space made the thought pretty unappealing. Keeping slippers in my room made it easy to keep my feet off the floor and stay comfy while wandering around.

I know I’ve already mentioned this, but the likelihood of you doing work from your bed is high. At least feel somewhat studious by having a hard surface to set your book on while highlighting or a way to prop up your paper as you work through it. I love this acrylic monogrammed one since it still looks stylish on top of being practical.

One of my secrets to non-wrinkled clothes freshman year of college was ironing them with my hair straightener. While that works, a steamer does a better job. I know it’s not going to be something you use a ton, but when you need it, you’ll be glad to have it. Plus, it’s easier to store than an iron AND an ironing board.

Maybe I should have listed this first (especially given the times), but Clorox wipes are necessary to have on hand from the minute you walk into your dorm room. Although the room has likely already been cleaned, it doesn’t hurt to wipe everything down before settling in. Once the move-in process is over, you’ll be glad to have these on hand for spills or quick clean up sessions as needed. While it doesn’t hurt to keep other cleaning supplies on hand, if you’re anything like me in the dorms, you’ll find that these become your go-to.

You can shop the items listed in the graphic below by clicking directly on the item you’re interested in to be taken to where it can be purchased. What would you recommend for dorm rooms for anyone that may be college-bound?

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