Oh My Goals: September

I really should start writing these posts in advance, but darn it, my week has been busy. Plus, it’s Labor Day weekend. I deserve a break, right? At least that’s how I’ve rationalized yet another late post. Okay, here goes….


This is the second month of my Oh My Goals series. If you remember, I’m terrible at sticking to goals, so I’ve committed to posting them online for everyone to read in hopes that I’ll feel a sense of accountability.

So let’s review August’s goals:

  • Stay on budget—It was a little hard to stick with this one realistically, because, due to a system switch-over, I was delayed in starting work. I did start my budget binder, though, and started to log some things in it, so that’s progress.
  • I designed a beautiful dorm room. Seriously. Go look at it. It’ll almost make you wish you were me.
  • Call my parents frequently—I did keep up with this one, and I’ve actually seen them a few times since I started back in school. A bonus was getting to see my dogs, even if it was for less than 24 hours.
  • Update my planner weekly—This one has sort of morphed into an “update it when I find out about new things” type of deal. I filled in everything that my syllabi had to offer, but when it comes to work hours, appointments, and other personal things, I write them in when I learn of them.
  • Maintain a steady flow of blog posts—Welp. Look how far that one got. But seriously, I do have my blog posts for the next several weeks planned out. I’d show you a picture, but I only do spoiler alerts for TV shows, movies, and the ends of books.
  • Prioritize self-care—I did buy the $4 cup of Starbucks coffee (or several. It’s become my morning motivation on weekends). And I did binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy (I’m now a few episodes into season 10–and I started August at the beginning of season 9). I didn’t get a manicure, but I’m not entirely sure I want to spend the money on that. See: my budgeting issue.
  • Get a gym membership—This one is actually out of my hands, because there’s been a delay in the gym membership process at school. I’ll be able to sign up soon hopefully!
  • Just be present—I’ve gotten slightly better at this, but definitely not as good as I want to be. This is a repeat goal for the month of September.

That brings us to September.

  • Build a budget—Now that I can guesstimate what my paychecks will look like, I can actually build a budget. Any extra money will be saved, and portions of my paycheck will be, as well. However, I’m relying on my paycheck money and gift money as my personal expenses/extracurricular funds. That’s what will be budgeted for. Here’s to hoping I don’t spend $300 on a purse like I did last year (even though it was totally worth it).
  • Put myself first—I put myself first financially all the time, but emotionally? Eh, I’ve got a lot to work on in that area. I’m looking for ways to do that, ways to explore who I am and what I am all about. Any tips?
  • Eat feel-good foods—My roommate is a super chef of healthy foods, so we’ve been cooking for the past week or two. You should be jealous that I get to live with her, but if you’re lucky, I might post some recipes inspired by her cooking talents….
  • Put a dent in the book I’m going to review—Hint: look here! Enough said on that one.
  • Write at least one good story, even if it’s really, really short—My creativity has been slacking for the past year. I’m majoring in Creative Writing, for heaven’s sake; shouldn’t I be able to turn something out? (If I’m being honest, my inability to write is because of a whole other issue, but that’s a topic for another post.)

What are your goals for September?


Mosey on back next Monday to see how I set up my Erin Condren Life Planner!

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This post is not sponsored by or affiliated with Erin Condren.

 

Putting in My Two Weeks (of Classes)

Here’s a recipe for an overachieving college student:

  • 7 classes
  • 1 job
  • 1 volunteer job
  • 1 internship (that feels more like a break than a job because I love it)
  • 1 social life (at a school that hosts a million and one campus activities)
  • 1 unreleased manuscript to review

You can arrange those ingredients in whichever order you choose; they’ll all add up to being a really big cake that probably has some uncooked-batter spots in it.

My first two weeks of classes consisted of reading at least 200 pages total (and that’s being generous), writing a short story with only monosyllabic words (which is the hardest thing to write ever), performing my first-ever science lab, painting my nails a few times because I can’t stand chipping, singing and cooking with one of my roommates, having a deep conversation with one of my favorite people (and making kale chips with said person), and discovering I really like a cookie made by my dining hall (shout out to the cranberry-oat cookie!).

I also stressed a lot and had fluctuating levels of consuming every food that was in sight or forcing myself to eat because I didn’t want to. I had points where I ate things that weren’t great for my body. (I mean, I ate chicken nuggets for brunch yesterday. It’s totally the best idea to start your day with fried foods.) And I hate points where I ate really healthy (thanks to my roommate, who might actually be my culinary savior).

Oh, and there was Grey’s Anatomy. Boy, was there Grey’s Anatomy.

Considering I don’t remember the first two weeks of my freshman year very well, likely due to my brain just blocking it out, I can’t really compare this year to last. I can say, though, that I’ve taken on a lot more than I had in the Fall of 2014. I’m definitely going to be busier, and there may be a few late posts here and there because I’ve stayed up until two in the morning to finish a paper or because I’ve stayed out all night to set up, attend, and break down an event. But if there are late posts, it probably means I’m having a good time, and that’s good.

And when I say “probably,” I mean there could be little mental breaks of, “Oh god, so many things are happening at once. Send out the SOS.” But no matter. I’ll deal with those as they come.

See you back here next Monday!

Easy as Pie Syllabi

planner-zoomed-out

Did anyone else feel like the first week of classes felt like an entire semester crammed into five days? I’m so glad I was able to spend the weekend with friends, because if I hadn’t been able to, I just might have gone stir crazy. But with the first week of classes came my favorite time of any semester: syllabi planning.

key

Typically, the first meeting of any class will be mostly a discussion of the syllabus, possibly with some work thrown in there if time permits. This year, I’m using my Erin Condren Life Planner to organize everything, along with a combination of Sharpie pens and Staedtler pens. I broke everything out into colors and assigned each class its own pen. I keep the key on my page marker (as seen above) so that it’s always on the current week in case I need to refer to it. (Shout out to my internship at Deep South Magazine! Click here to read what I’ve written.)

syllabus-first-page

I always try to print syllabi before classes meet so that I can read through them, highlight important dates or details, and make any necessary notes. While in class, if the professor stresses something that’s in the syllabus, I highlight or underline it, and if the professor says something that’s not included in the syllabus but sounds like it could affect my success in the class, I’ll jot a quick note down.

I learned quickly that memorizing a professor’s email address, office hours, and office number is one of the best things I could do as a student. I love office hours because I can sit with the professor and talk one-on-one about issues I’m having in class, with an assignment, or with a deadline. Plus, for the sample syllabus I have pictured, the professor’s office is so fun. She has three bookshelves, stocked up with books on the craft of writing. It’s basically my dream office.

syllabus-schedule

The best part of any syllabus is the semester schedule, and if your professor doesn’t provide one, you might want to ask him or her to see if there’s one available. The above schedule lists what will be discussed in class on any given day and what will be assigned as homework for the next class. (By the way, if no one has told you yet, homework is still important in college. It may not be mandatory, but it’s a good idea to do it anyway so you have a better understanding of the material.) These are the dates and the correlating information that I use when assembling my weekly layouts.

planner-full

At the end of each day or during long breaks between classes, I sat at my desk, fanned out the syllabi received that day, and got to work filling in my planner. This picture is from this week (because the first week’s spread ended up looking so unphotogenic), so you can see a breakdown of my assignments, discussion points, etc. It’s organized somewhat differently for each class. For example, my Creative Writing class (pink) has homework due Wednesday listed under Monday. My Anthropology class (burgundy), on the other hand, has that day’s discussion points and readings listed (see Tuesday and Thursday). The way you structure your week will depend on each syllabus and how you think your brain will process the information best. I also have two other sections per day dedicated to personal errands and work. Those won’t look so desolate once school events pick up and I get my work schedule sorted out.

One of, if not my biggest, coping mechanism is to organize everything. I have my planner, I have sticky notes adhered to the base of my iMac, and I have running checklists for each day. Taking these steps keeps everything in order in my mind so that I actually follow through on things I’ve committed to, and a huge part of this process is marking information found in syllabi in my planner. Otherwise, I’d probably find myself neck-deep in deadlines and missed readings, and I already have a fear of drowning; let’s not add drowning in schoolwork to that.

Your takeaways:

  1. Color-coding is your best friend
  2. Print syllabi in advance if possible; if not, transcribe the information ASAP after you receive your syllabi
  3. Memorize your professor’s email, office hours, and office number (but don’t stalk him or her—that’s a given)
  4. Highlight and take notes on syllabi before and while the professors speak about them in your classes
  5. Organize your planner (or however you choose to keep all of this information together) in the way that’s best for you—do you need to list all the things due on a particular day, or do you need to write in what’s due for the next class?

Good luck, my friends. Now that the first week’s over, the fun is just beginning.

In the meantime, I’m curious to know: how do you structure your coursework?


I’ll see you right back here next Monday morning!

 

#dormgoals

desk

Dorm life is hardcore, and I don’t even live under normal dorm conditions. Most people have to share cramped, cell block-type room with a roommate that either wanders around naked or parties at odd hours of the night. I have suite-style living (praise) with three amazing roommates (double praise). This means I have an entire (tiny) room for myself to let the design-crazy part of my brain explode. So without further adieu, let’s take a tour of my redesigned room.

First stop: the desk. Let’s take a moment to appreciate the organization that is my desk right now, because with seven classes, an internship, a job, a volunteered job, and a book to review, it’s probably going to be a mess 2.5 seconds into the semester. But for now, it’s impeccable.

From left to right:

  • A printer
  • My budget binder
  • A stack of eighteen books, all neatly arranged, bottom to top, according to decreasing height
  • A framed print that I recycled from last year’s room
  • My iMac (and sunglasses, because I didn’t know where to put them for this shot)
  • My Erin Condren Life Planner and Swarovski pen
  • A tiny pink elephant
  • My Wacom tablet’s pen
  • A makeup mirror
  • My To-Do list notebook and a collection of two sticky note pads (and I have at least ten other sticky note pads in my desk drawer—it’s a casual addiction)

bookspillow

I went into my freshman year with a clear room layout in my head, and it was super functional for the room I had. At the end of the year, though, I saw a friend’s layout and loved how it looked, so naturally, I stole the idea. I’ve created an “infinity desk,” which is basically the small dresser and desk provided, pushed so that they’re flush against each other to create the illusion of a long desk. It makes the whole room open up and allows for more room for desktop storage of things like my printer, books, computer, and makeup (which has to be near natural light for application).

makeupThis leads to my makeup, which is housed in a series of acrylic organizers. My makeup brushes, pens, and face lotions are stored in miniature white, yellow, and pink buckets respectively, with a gold rock filler.

 

bed

 

 

The bed: The bedspread is from a Martha Stewart collection sold at Macy’s. And guess what? I got it on sale for 50% off. My original color scheme was going to be lavender and yellow, but when I saw this set (that came with two free pillows, by the way!), I fell in love. And when the saleslady told me she’d give it to me at the sale price, I was about ready to marry the thing.

 

nightstandThe nightstand: I bought this cute side table to match my room off of Craigslist. The lady was the sweetest and thankfully not some creepy person looking to make a quick buck. The base of my yellow lamp broke in transit, so the white lamp is temporary until a new base arrives. The decorative dish it’s perched on is a beautiful piece that my mom lent to me because it matched my room perfectly. To the right of that you’ll see my pink keys dish that reads, “Love your life.” And, of course, I have my little yellow taxicab on display.

 

closet  closet-shoes

The closet: To make that tower of storage bins on the left of the closet, I stacked two storage bins with two drawers each. I have other articles of clothing in a smaller bin atop the tower. My hangers had to match, of course, so I have a variety: standard wooden with white polka dots, white felt,  pink felt, and black (for black pieces). My high heels and boots are stored on a small bookcase from Big Lots, and my dirty laundry is tossed into a flexible pink tub.

door-shoes

The rest of my shoes are stored in an over-the-door hanger.

jewelryMy accessories hang from two teal hook racks that I picked up from my local Bed Bath & Beyond ($20 for the pair of them!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

rug

I ordered this 4×6 rug from Target and am so pleasantly surprised by how soft and comfortable it is. And let’s be real: it totally makes the room look more like a put-together bedroom than a sketchy motel room. And a special shout out to my slippers for taking field trips around campus because I was too lazy to put on real shoes.

 

 

 

 

KeurigAnd then there’s my beloved coffee and tea station. This pink Keurig was a birthday gift from my grandmother last year and has seen me through late-night Spanish study sessions and early morning drives home. The mug is one of my favorites from DFTBA.

 

 

 

 

 

window In one of my windowsills, I have two decorative vases with silk flowers that match my color scheme, a pink distressed vase, and a cup-turned-vase glass piece from Marshalls!

 

 

 

PD-wall2My original plan for this was to do an entire wall of dots, but I ended up liking just the three rows. I was worried that the dots would visually conflict with the pattern on the bedspread, so I kept it the way you see it here. I’m also probably more disappointed than you are that my iPhone couldn’t get a good picture of the wall. Once I get my camera back on its feet, I’ll update this post with a better photo!

whiteboard

At any given time, my brain could be jumping from thoughts about a paper, to concerns about a friend, to what I need from the grocery store, to what questions my professor will ask in class the next day, so I decided to suck it up and get a whiteboard. Right now, I’ve listed the packages I’m expecting, two things I need to pick up, and my class schedule.

semester-calendarThe two gridded sheets you see on the left make up a semester-at-a-glance calendar that’s color-coded according to class (more on that in an upcoming post). I’m hoping that’ll help me keep track of study scheduling and assignments so I never have to face the “Help, I have three papers and a take-home quiz due tomorrow” dilemma.

Last year was really my trial run in trying to figure out what I wanted out of my dorm room. Putting all of this together this year, despite minor moving issues, was the perfect start to my sophomore year. I brain-dumped my design idea into this room and it turned out almost exactly as I pictured it. I’m playing on brighter colors, decor, and lots of organizational tools to pull off this cohesive look and homey feel. I wanted to create a space that made me feel comfortable and relaxed without compromising style or aesthetic appeal. At an honors college, you know I need a place to come home to after I’ve drained the life out of my brain from an exam. And as much as I can’t wait to see new dorm photos from people all over the world, I think mine might be the best. But admittedly, I’m biased.

Only the best of luck to everyone starting a new school year. May you not procrastinate, may you get lots of sleep, and may you get straight A’s (or pretty close).

In the meantime, tell me: what’s your design style? If you live in a dorm, how do you make it your own?


Don’t forget to join me next Monday morning for a new post!

This post is not sponsored by or affiliated with any of the following companies or businesses:

  • Erin Condren
  • Swarovski
  • Wacom
  • Martha Stewart
  • Macy’s
  • Craigslist
  • Bed Bath & Beyond
  • Target
  • Keurig
  • DFTBA
  • Marshalls

Things not pictured:

  • Under the bed storage—get some basic crates from somewhere like Target and voila! You’ve got functional storage for under your bed. You can also invest in a three-drawer plastic storage bin (that comes with wheels) to stick under there.
  • My refrigerator and microwave
  • My Sunday bin—more on that in an upcoming post
  • My six-drawer necessities storage—for things like makeup, nail care supplies, hair supplies, medicines, etc. Each bin has its own life purpose.

Oh My Goals: August

What’s better for someone who has to force herself to achieve basic goals like eating breakfast and putting real people clothes on than committing to the world with Internet permanence that she will actually set and follow through with monthly goals?

Here goes nothing: August 2015.

  • Stay on budget—One of these days I’ll be able to go to Bloomingdale’s and buy a rackful of clothes without guilt. Today is not that day. Nor is tomorrow. And, if we’re being real, not a single one of the next 1,095 days is that day. I bought a binder (that matches my dorm room because if it’s going to be out on my desk, it’s going to be color coordinated) and I’m going to fill it with budget planning materials to track expenses, savings, and income. The subgoal here is to save as much money as possible while not compromising my lifestyle (which, at the moment, does not rest heavily upon a pedestal of Ramen noodles and sky-high textbook receipts).
  • Can you guess where I’ll be doing this? One hint: you’ll find out next Monday….

patterned dot wall by taylor made #polkadots #gold #home

  • Call my parents frequently—I joked that, during my freshman year, I’d only call my parents on Sundays. If you read my love letter, though, you know I talked to them more often than planned. This year is going to be significantly more hectic, but since my parents helped to keep me sane last year, I figure it’s probably a good idea to keep them around this year.
  • Update my planner weekly—As much as I’m in love with organization and scheduling my life down to the minute, it’s so difficult for me to actually keep up with a planner. But with so much going on in the Fall semester (more on that in an upcoming post!), it’s basically stay organized or die (of exhaustion). Sundays will be my planning days, and in a near-future post, you’ll see what I’m doing on the other six days of the week.
  • Maintain a steady flow of blog posts—The past few weeks have been nuts, and it’s no coincidence that the level of craziness positively correlates with the fact that I’m moving back to school this week. I’m hoping that by planning my blog posts in advance, it’ll be easier to maintain consistency. That means that exams or no exams, work or no work, you’ll be seeing a new post every Monday morning (and maybe even more, depending on how all the cookies crumble).
  • Prioritize self-care—I’m going to be running on a super tight schedule that barely allows for visits home (and if I do visit, it’ll be for doctor appointments), much less have copious amounts of free time. I’m really excited about all of the things coming up, which helps to soften the blow, but I also know that if I don’t factor in time for myself to just be, I’m probably going to combust. My goal is to get a monthly manicure, buy myself the occasional $4 cup of Starbucks coffee, and binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy. All in moderation.
  • Get a gym membership—Part of my self-care routine is going to involve trips to the gym. I’ve already informed two of my friends that they have to get memberships, too, and go with me. Everyone needs a little accountability, right? Because I am not about to gain the freshman fifteen in my sophomore year.
  • And finally, just be present—This is probably going to be the hardest for me, because I’m constantly doing something. Whether I’m checking social media, communicating with authors, talking with friends and/or family, or doing one of the other million things on my ever-growing To-Do list, I’m always doing something. And sometimes that “something” isn’t always what’s going on around me in the moment. And I have to get better about that, because I know that I miss things, no matter how small, even if I’m only sending out an email that took thirty seconds to write.

Tell me in the comments below: what are your goals for this month? Let’s take on August together, one grueling  step at a time.


Head right back over here next Monday for the big, grand, super spectacular…mystery post! I know what it’s about, but do you? It has something to do with a certain little yellow taxicab….

Photo credit to: Taylor Made Creates

 

Pretty As a Picture: J Rosa Photography

You would not believe the weekend I had. Let’s just say there was a ridiculous mix-up with my dorm storage unit delivery that caused me to have an impromptu sleepover up by my school. I finally got home late Monday night, so this post was actually written on Tuesday. Back to a normal schedule next week, I promise!


IMG_1657

As a general rule, I’m like a well-to-do museum: I don’t allow photographs. When I go on vacations, I don’t let people take pictures of me. I carefully craft my selfies so that the light and the camera hit me at the perfect angle. And I don’t do candids. Like ever.  Ironic, considering that I studied photography for two years in high school.

So it was a big leap for me when I said yes to my friend, Jennifer, who asked me to do a rebranding photo shoot.

I hadn’t seen Jenn since high school graduation, so it was so great to catch up with her. We talked about college, my internship, her new real estate license, and how she’s rebranding her photography business. As her “About Me” page says, she’s developing her photographic style. Her portfolio ranges from portraiture, maternity and baby photos, events, and still life shots—and it’s still growing. You can view it here.

What’s great about her process is that she has a portable studio, which means that, for an added fee, you can have your photo shoot come to you! And, if you’re not quite comfortable with that, she offers sessions in her home or, without the studio equipment, sessions at a location of your choice, like a park, the beach, or a wedding. I packed up my clothes, shoes, and makeup and made my way over to her (beautiful) house.

My session was a few hours long and saw me changing into three dresses. I applied a full face of makeup (because I can barely leave the house without it, much less allow photos to be taken of me with a bare face), got all dolled up, and awkwardly (on my part) posed in front of two lights, a black background, a camera, and a very patient Jenn. She helped position me to get the best pictures, and even managed to get a few shots of me fully smiling.

IMG_1658

I never smile with teeth, but she caught me laughing, probably about how I couldn’t hold a pose without almost toppling into one of the lights—a very me thing to do.

I love that these photos look like how I see myself when I look in the mirror, and they’re just too cute to not have somewhere on this blog, so I’ll probably add them to my “About” page, too.

She also got some more glamorous shots, like this one:

IMG_3094 (1)Fun fact: I’m wearing a dress that’s probably ten or eleven years old that I used to pretend to win those Oscars in. It’s still too long.

And even though I’m painfully uncomfortable with having pictures taken of me, it was still really fun to be on the other end of the lens. It also helped that I had someone I trusted to Photoshop any imperfections. (Let’s have a moment of silence for the wonder and blessing that is Adobe Photoshop.)

For price and packaging information, or if you’re interested in working with Jennifer, go ahead and send her an email or contact her through Facebook!


I so appreciate the patience with this week’s post. I debated whether or not to post about what happened, but I doubt anyone wants to read my rant about storage unit mix-ups and having what’s basically an overnight essentials kit in my everyday purse. (Seriously, I had a brand new toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Who has that in their purse?)

Tell me in the comments below: what’s the weirdest thing in your purse that would keep you sane during an impromptu sleepover?

See you right back here next Monday morning!


This post is not affiliated with or sponsored by J Rosa Photography, Jennifer Rosa Photography, or Jennifer Rosa. It is not a paid advertisement or endorsement.

Identity Theft: What to Do When Your Identity Isn’t Yours Anymore

identity-crisis

And I’m not talking about when some hacker in a moldy basement swipes your credit card information, assumes your name, and purchases a deluxe spa treatment aboard a cruise to the Bahamas. I’m talking about a different kind of stomach-drops-to-your-knees moment: when what you’ve identified as for so long, what once made your heart tingle with the thrill of passion, abandons you.

When I was a child, I didn’t want to be a writer; instead, I wanted to be a teacher. So it comes as no surprise that my identity as a writer didn’t form until sixth or seventh grade. For whatever reason, I read about Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight (mortifying, I know), and her quite literally dream-inspired, best-selling series. Some small part of what I read must have spoken to an untapped part of me, because my first major foray into writing began shortly thereafter with a 50-page story. What’s important about this singular experience is not that it is still unfinished to this day, but that creativity moved me so deeply that I actually wrote that much, or even wrote at all.

I was known throughout high school as The Girl Who Can Write. I was Editor in Chief of both my yearbook and school paper; I scored well above average on the writing portion of the SAT; I was the point person to look over essays and suggest edits. I was The Girl Who Can Write.

Until I wasn’t.

If you’ve read about my freshman year experience, you know that the first year of college swiped away the one thing about myself that mattered to me: my writing. What I identified as for so long was stripped away with my confidence in my ability. I didn’t know what to do, and I won’t pretend that I knew what to do when it was happening.

But I do know now that probably the only thing to do, the only thing I could do, is to keep moving forward. Keep going in whatever way you can. Keep going, even if that means finally disconnecting from what once served you and no longer does. By no means am I saying that this is a simple process, and by no means will I accept anyone’s criticism that this is the easy way out. Maybe it’s childish denial, or maybe it’s fear, but I refuse to believe that I’m just copping out of doing something I felt so passionate about for years.

Despite my identity just disappearing, writing is still my thing. I fall in love with words every day: how they’re basic multi- or monosyllabic sounds that, when strung together to form a cohesive thought, can incite a love story or a war. I am not abandoning writing, and because I believe it’s not fair to say that it’s abandoned me entirely, I’m not giving up on it. Rather, I’m giving up on feeling the self-inflicted pressure to commit to writing simply because it’s something I used to be good at and something I thought would be my lifelong career.

Because sometimes what’s best for you is moving on from what used to be best for you, and sometimes what’s best for you is maintaining the love but letting yourself just be in your moments of doubt and fear. It’s in this space that you’ll find yourself and a brand new (or refurbished) passion.


Tell me in the comments below if you’ve ever felt like this. How did you “keep going?”

I apologize for all the confusion around this week’s post. I made a mistake in the scheduling and it all spiraled from there.

Join me next week for a post about my photo shoot with J. Rosa Photography!

 

The Chopping Board: Strawberry Summer Salad

I eat in such awfully small portions that trying to find small, light, and filling recipes has become an Olympic sport. It has to have a little bit of protein, a little bit of veggies, a little bit of (good) fats, and a few other tasty ingredients that double as health and wellness boosters.

I had some leftover kale from my breakfast smoothies and two cartons of strawberries I had to use up before they spoiled, so I created this concoction (because, if we’re being honest, most of my cooked meals are just experiments to see what feels right for me).

IMG_2987

Because I just chopped up and threw all of this into a mixing bowl without thinking, I don’t have exact measurements. I should probably really work on that, but I can provide a list of ingredients for now:

Chopped (and massaged–more on that below!) kale

Sliced strawberries

Quinoa

Pomegranate seeds

Sliced dragonfruit

Roughly chopped walnuts

A dressing of your choice – I mixed one up using EVOO, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, cracked pepper, and sugar to taste, but a raspberry vinaigrette would be perfect for this salad

If you read that list, I know you’re asking yourself, “What’s the deal with the massaged kale?” It’s a handy little tip I learned from this video, and it changed. My. Life. Kale has never been my favorite green because of its texture and bitter, peppery taste, but if you massage it, the leaves soften and a little sweetness emerges, making it so much more palatable.

I made this for dinner one night, had a decent sized bowl of it, and was full for the rest of the night, which almost never happens to me. It was light enough for me to finish the whole thing without feeling weighed down, but filling enough to keep me satisfied for hours. It’s perfect for entertaining if your guests are into kale (or if you’re comfortable sneaking it onto their plates without telling them that the “lettuce” is kale), or for a night in for yourself that you don’t want to spend with Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese (even though I wouldn’t blame you if you indulged).


Like this post and want to see more like it? Tell me in the comments below!

Be sure to check back next week; I’ll be talking about what it means when your identity isn’t yours anymore (and no, I’m not talking about identity theft).

I’ve also updated my Erin Condren Life Planner Review, so head over there to see what happened with Customer Service!

 

Can I get a YAY-men? Let’s Talk About Yaysayers

Have you ever watched, read, or heard something that gave you chills, that burrowed its way right into your heart and nestled itself there for a while? Before you read this post, watch the short video below.

For years, I’ve struggled with my creative works. I never wanted to share my stories or poems for fear of harsh criticism. The strangest thing is that I was never concerned about cruel words from strangers; I was terrified of critique from my family and friends. Pretty backward, right?

Like Hannah Hart, I have a hard time with negativity, especially when it’s directed toward something I’m really excited about. And we’re not talking constructive criticism here, which is a useful and important part of the creative process. Over the years, I’ve had several friends who, when I shared with them a seedling of an idea I had, shot any ounce of creativity down swiftly and sharply. And of course, as soon as I heard their disparaging words, I internalized them and beat the idea down until it was nothing but a speck of dust on my shelf of Old Dreams.

Thankfully, the universe has a funny way of detoxifying your life, so I don’t have many of those people around me anymore. I’ve since stocked up on beautiful, supportive friends. Despite the damage that’s been done, set in near stone by those who have squashed my confidence in my ideas, I don’t want to harp about the naysayers. I’m learning to focus on the YAYsayers.

You know you’ve found your YAYsayers if:

  • You can bounce nearly every idea you have off of them without fear of judgment
  • They feel comfortable providing honest feedback (and you feel comfortable receiving it!)
  • They support you in everything you do and help you to build whatever you’re working on in whatever way they can
  • You feel completely at ease with them in almost every situation

You know you need to do a cleanse of the non-juice sort if:

  • You feel drained every time you interact with someone
  • You feel guilty or ashamed of yourself because of them
  • They shut you down at every corner when you try to talk to them about anything, much less your creative ventures
  • They make you feel inferior to them

This “detox” doesn’t necessarily mean cutting someone out of your life entirely (unless you feel so inclined to, because sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed). It just means that it’s time to scale back and reevaluate your relationship with this person. Is it worth feeling badly about yourself all the time? Is it worth abandoning what makes you feel alive? Are you missing out on creating the Next Big Thing because of this person?

I can’t tell you how many times particular people in my life have openly laughed in my face when I shared an idea with them. They rolled their eyes, chuckled, and dismissed me as if I were incapable of doing anything of merit, much less anything of merit they thought they could produce. These exchanges were hurtful, and though I’m sure not all of them were carried out with malicious intent, they still left their marks.

When I watched Hannah’s video, I realized that this is a pretty common thing for people. Of course I wasn’t naive enough to believe that sunshine and sparkles and positivity would follow me everywhere I went. I’d just never given much thought to the very real fact that there are people in this world out for blood, out for your success. I think of letting people in almost in a security checkpoint kind of way. They have to get their luggage out and then make it through the airport doors. They have to check their baggage to be sure it’s not too heavy and then make it through security. And finally, after waiting amidst hundreds of other passengers, they can board the plane, on the way to their final destination. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from TSA, it’s this: don’t let the sketchy people trying to sneak things through past security.

What resonated with me about this video was the notion that one of the best things you can do for yourself is to carefully choose with whom you associate. Accepting that it’s okay to be selective when it comes to your personal bubble and who passes through it is challenging, especially when you have everyone and their mothers shouting at you to keep people in your life out of loyalty. Ask yourself this: is the person in question showing his or her “loyalty” to you by criticizing your every move and thought? Is that what love and acceptance looks like? If your answer is no, think on the relationship.

Yaysayers are the best kind of people. They’re those radiant, never-want-to-stop-talking-to-them, could-talk-about-peeling-wallpaper-and-still-be-interesting people. They’re the last people you want to leave after a long party. And you never tire of their kind words and loving, supportive natures.  They feel like your favorite sweater and a cup of hot coffee on a cold winter’s day (or after a day that may as well have fallen in the winter season because of its stinging icicles jabbing at you on all sides). They’re a pan of your grandma’s fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Now, doesn’t a snuggly sweater, a mug of coffee, and a plate of cookies sound divine? Yay-men to that.

Review of: the 2015-2016 Erin Condren Life Planner

After a three-year-strong dedication to my beloved Lilly Pulitzer, my planning needs have changed. During the Fall of my freshman year, I was taking five classes; during the Spring semester, only four. Because of the fairly small amount of classes, I didn’t need as much room to keep track of my life, so the horizontal, lined layout of the weekly view in my Lilly was perfect.

Fall of 2015 is going to be a little different, though. I’ll have seven classes, a job, and a blog schedule to balance, not to mention any activities on campus I’ll want to participate in. I need a planner with a weekly layout that had separate sections to which I could dedicate the three main spheres of my life: school, personal (and activities), and blog.

Enter the 2015-2016 Erin Condren Life Planner.

Cover

EC offers several cover options. You can choose a ready-to-ship planner; you can personalize one of Erin’s designs (like I did); or you can design your own cover! After you’ve chosen your cover, you’ll decide between two weekly layouts: horizontal or vertical.

Blank-July

The planner pages themselves are not customizable aside from your choice of horizontal or vertical weekly layouts. Not to worry, though: the color schemes, although muted, agree with each other, and each month has an inspirational quote at its opening, just before the month-at-a-glance calendar.

When you open your Life Planner, you’ll see the cover page with space for you to write your contact information should you misplace the planner. I promise there are two lines there; I just didn’t include them in the photo because I’m not sure I’m too cool with blasting my cell number and email address all over the Internet. Sorry, y’all.

Cover-Page

The next two pages are a spread with a quote set against a grid paper background. I’m a fan of typography, so I like the fonts and the design here. And on the next spread you’ll see the year-at-a-glance calendar that spans from July of 2015 to December of 2016, which is especially useful for planning vacations months in advance.

Opening-Quote YAAG

Goals-pageThe two pages that follow offer a blank slate for you. No, the pages themselves are not blank. However, between them they feature twelve blank rectangles, each with a colorful banner of free space. This spread can be used for monthly goal-setting, social media tracking, blog statistics, or even an at-a-glance vacation spread. It’s really up to you to decide what you’ll do with this space. Because I haven’t started my school year yet, it’s hard for me to commit to what I’ll use this space for, but I’m sure I’ll find a purpose for it.

 

Each month is sectioned off with its own tab, but we’ll look at July in this post. The month starts with a nice quote (and even though I typically feel squeamish and uncomfortable about inspirational quotes, I can get on board with this idea).

Tabs  July-Quote

July-MAAGYour month-at-a-glance spread follows the quote. It’s a pretty basic calendar, but one of my favorite things about these spreads is the goals sidebar. This will come in handy when I pick back up with school and will have to really schedule in exercise and personal time.

 

 

 

First-Week-of-JulyThe game changer for me, though, was the vertical layout. With three unlabeled boxes per day, there’s plenty of space to pencil in my schedule. Because each column isn’t pre-assigned like the previous Life Planners were (where there was a Morning, Afternoon, and Night box for each day), you can choose what you’d like each box to be used for. In July, I have my Internship, Personal, and Blog boxes set up. When I go back to school in August, I’ll most likely have a School box, a Personal (to including cleaning and errands) box, and a Blog box. You’ll also notice that there is a series of four lines below each day for you to use for notes or as an extension of the last box (for the inevitable run-over). For now, I keep track of my water intake in these spaces.

I’ll be making another post in the future that will further detail planner necessities and organization, but right now you can see that I’m color-coding, where purple is for my internship, red is for personal things, and orange is for blog-related tasks.

There’s a sweet little Thankful Thought box in the top left corner of each weekly spread. It’s a small notion, but as I say, gratitude is so important for a happy life.

Thankful-Thought

Toward the end of the planner you’ll see a hefty notes section. There are two spreads of lined paper, two spreads of graph paper, and two spreads of adorable printed paper. After this, you’ll see the year of 2017, followed by another cute quote to close out 2016.

StickersIn the very last few pages, you’ll see several sheets of stickers. Erin includes an entire sheet dedicated to birthday stickers, and then another sheet with more stickers: game, day off, hair appointment, dentist appointment, sale, doctor appointment, concert, mani/pedi, party, and vacation (plus two blank sticker sheets). I must say that I wish these stickers could have been customizable; the only reason being that I will not be using the concert, game, sale, party, and mani/pedi stickers often, if at all. I wish there were more doctor appointment stickers, but considering the amount of work put into constructing just one planner, never mind several thousand, I can understand why the stickers that come with the planner aren’t customizable. However, Erin offers other stickers, both ready-made and customizable. You also have the option of checking Etsy stores for Life Planner stickers, or searching online for free printables.  If I don’t purchase supplementary stickers, I’ll just use the two blank sticker sheets that follow the labeled ones.

To wrap the book up, you have a Keep It Together double-sided pocket and a pouch in the very back (that holds several free goodies like samples and cards). The last thing that comes with the planner can be found in the Keep It Together pocket: the perpetual calendar and contacts book. You can use this book to keep up with birthdays, holidays, and other recurring events, and it can be easily stowed in a handbag in the case that you forget your planner at home, don’t have the dates stored in your phone’s calendar, and need to know when your second cousin’s husband’s birthday is. Another idea is to use the perpetual calendar to keep track of daily gratitude thoughts.


For a quick and dirty distillation of the above in-depth review, let’s take a look at the Pros and Cons:

Pros

  • Pretty packaging that includes tons of freebies
  • Personalized and customizable covers
  • Simple, yet pretty design
  • Lots of personalization by way of you choosing what to do with the blank boxes throughout the book
  • Two types of layouts
  • Cute quotes to start off your months right
  • Gratitude and note-taking opportunities
  • Double-sided pocket and storage pouch
  • Stickers!

Cons

  • Many people have reported chipping coils, especially in the special foil colors (and mine, though it’s the standard silver, does show some chipping though the book hasn’t even been worn in yet)
  • I’ve found that I have to be careful with my front and back covers because they can snap off very easily – not sure if this is due to a cutting error or if this is just how the covers are
  • The pens I bought through the Erin Condren site that are specially designed for use in these planners are already drying out after having been used just a few times, even without being left uncapped or exposed to air
  • The lamination on my cover does show some air bubbles, and while I’m not extremely bothered by this, you may want to look into this issue if you’re interested in purchasing a Life Planner but would be bothered by the air bubbles
  • In the weekly view of November 2015 in my planner (I’m noting that this happened with my planner, because, to my knowledge, Erin Condren has not made it a standard thing for pages to appear upside down) the dates between 11/5 and 11/11 are upside down

November

Overall, I think this is a nice planner. It’s aesthetically pleasing and well-organized. However, I will be contacting customer service to resolve my issues and will post an update in this post when I receive a response. My past interaction with their customer service was nothing but pleasant and positive, something for which I’m really grateful.

Update #1: Customer Service has gotten back to me regarding the issue with my pens. They’ve kindly offered to send me a replacement set or to give me a $15 store credit. I am sending a response email and will update when I hear back from that.

Update #2: In response to my email regarding the other issues with my planner, EC Customer Service has offered to replace my “full LifePlanner.” They offered an alternative: “a further $15 store credit” (making my store credit to total $30). I chose the obvious option: the replacement planner. Now I’m wondering what a replacement of my “full LifePlanner” is. Will it include new covers or just the inner pages of the planner? (The covers are detachable, so either option is a possibility.)

Update #3: I received my “full LifePlanner” replacement (which is a completely reprinted Life Planner, covers and all) about a week ago. I flipped through each page to be sure that none were upside down or marred by serious ink spots, and all of them checked out. There’s still slight bubbling in the lamination of the cover (and tabs), and the coil is still rough, but this replacement is in much better condition than my original planner. I’m definitely satisfied with their Customer Service, or at least with the two representatives I worked with, because they worked to resolve my issue quickly and fairly. I will be using this planner for this year, but I’ve already begun to look at other options for my next planner (like this one).

If you’re interested in purchasing a planner that will give you tons of space to write and pencil in your tasks and errands, definitely look into the Erin Condren Life Planner. Be sure to click here to create an account and receive $10 off your first purchase!

Join me next Monday for a surprise post! (And by surprise, I mean, “I’m not entirely sure what I’m writing about because this week has been crazy busy, so let me consult my future-post list and guru gods and get back to you.”)

In the meantime, tell me: Do you use a planner? If so, which one do you like and why?


This post is not affiliated with or sponsored by Erin Condren or Lilly Pulitzer.