Friday, October 20, 2017

3 Ways to Style Flat Mules for Fall

     Now that it's gotten cooler in Williamsburg, I've finally broken out of my outfit rut that consisted of Nike shorts and t-shirts-- my boyfriend actually commented on the fact I was wearing "real" clothes yesterday, haha. In the past few days since it's cooled down, my mule flats have become a standby; the slip-on shoes look polished and fall-like but are cooler than boots, which makes them perfect for Williamsburg's mild temperatures.

     I bought my mule flats back in August after seeing tons of bloggers wearing them on Instagram. Mules are definitely trendy this year, and I was so excited to stumble across a trend that was within my comfort zone; mules are a little bit edgy, but the loafer-style pairs are still decidedly preppy. Over fall break, I wore my mules for a day in NYC and was shocked by how comfortable they were despite walking so much (over 8 miles, according to my iPhone health app!). Now that I'm completely sold on how practical but fashion-forward flat mules are, I'm sharing three different fall looks including flat mules.


Look #1: Mules + Leggings + An Oversized/Tunic Sweater Sweater 

     This outfit is extremely cozy but still polished enough for class and meetings. Choose a sweater in a neutral color like black, camel, or cream, and stick to black leggings for a more classic look. I just got a new pair of Aerie's Chill Legging, and I'm already in love; the material is thick and warm (no see-through leggings here!), and the hem of the "short" version hits at just the right spot on my ankle.

Land's End Cowl Neck Tunic Sweater // Aerie Chill Leggings 

Look #2: Mules + Jeans + A Cabled Crewneck Sweater
     Cabled crewneck sweaters and dark wash jeans are standard preppy staples, but they can get a little stale after a while; swapping out your Sperry's or classic loafers with flat mules can make the look more on-trend without taking you too far out of your comfort zone.

L.L. Bean Mixed-Cable Sweater // Old Navy Jeans

Look #3: Mules + Skirt + A Solid Tshirt or Sweater
      This school uniform-esque outfit gets its edge from replacing sweet ballet flats with mules. I personally love a good plaid skirt, but choosing a skirt in a solid color would make the look even more formal and classic.

J. Crew Plaid Skirt // J. Crew Sweater

     Which of these looks is your favorite?
   
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

NJ and NY: Fall Break 2017 Recap

     Since I had previously planned to visit my uncle in Arkansas for fall break but the trip fell through, coming home for fall break was especially exciting this year. My parents visited me at school last weekend, though, so I decided to split my time between relaxing at home and going on a mini getaway with friends from school. Between coming home and visiting the Jersey shore and Manhattan, I had a great time!

     One of the major perks of not having Friday classes is that I can always start my breaks early; I drove home last Thursday once classes and a major advising session for business students wrapped up. I got home pretty late but enjoyed sleeping in my own bed and waking up late on Friday morning. I spent a relaxing morning and afternoon unpacking, blogging, and just relaxing.


     In the late afternoon, I drove up to central New Jersey to meet up with my friends from college-- my friend Jen lives there and generously offered to host some of us for fall break. We hung out watching TV and then topped off a dinner of some famous New Jersey pizza with a bonfire outside since the weather was finally fall-like.

     The next day we had a yummy diner brunch before heading to the mall to do a little shopping. I only ended up spending money at Sephora; I picked up Nars Creamy Concealer to try based on a recommendation from my friend Caroline who came on the trip, plus a Ciate lipstain (Caroline helped me pick out the color!).

   


     After shopping, we drove to Asbury Park, New Jersey, where Jen's family has a beach condo. We explored the beach boardwalk but most of the shops were closed. Oddly enough, there were a ton of brides and grooms taking wedding pictures along the boardwalk, though! For dinner, we cooked up homemade Chipotle bowls AKA glorified rice and beans. Later we ventured out to see the beach at night; the boardwalk was all lit up and the bars seemed pretty popular, but unfortunately no one on the trip was 21.

   




Hoboken
     On Sunday, we woke up at a leisurely time and then headed to Hoboken to meet up with one of Jen's friends from her summer internship for brunch. We had huge bagel sandwiches before taking the PATH train over to Manhattan. We mostly wandered around SoHo and the NYU campus, popping into stores and Eataly, too. Caroline also has a photography business and brought her camera into the city so she could snap some professional pictures for us, and we were so grateful for them-- they turned out amazing! If you're ever looking for a photographer in Williamsburg and/or Northern Virginia, you should definitely look into her website!





Caroline Polly Photography

Caroline Polly Photography
      For dinner, we tried by Chloe, an NYC vegan chain, because one of our friends on the trip was vegan. We grabbed our food to-go and ate it in Washington Square Park; the food was surprisingly delicious, just not very filling. After our dinner, we headed back to Hoboken and walked along the waterfront-- the views of the city were amazing. When we got back to Asbury Park, we spent the rest of the night watching Jersey Shore in honor of the trip's location.
     
Caroline Polly Photography
     On Monday, I went back home and spent the day relaxing and doing work, and then drove back to Williamsburg on Tuesday. All in all, I had a great fall break and was so glad to split my time between being home and exploring NJ and NYC with my friends. Unfortunately, now it's back to reality at school; this week is homecoming, but I also have a lot of work and exams coming up.

Thanks for reading,
Alex
Monday, October 16, 2017

How to Prepare for the Week Ahead: 5 Tips for Taking Advantage of Sundays

   

     The average week at college is ultra-hectic-- classes, meetings, practices, and social events are all constantly vying for our attention. One way I've been trying to battle stress and chaos this semester is by planning, planning, planning before the week officially gets started. Taking advantage of your Sunday in college can make all the difference when it comes to productivity and balancing your commitments and health.

      A lot of students go to bed Saturday night intending to be productive the next day but then losing steam the next morning. Don't get me wrong, sleeping in on Sunday can be a great treat, but you've gotta get yourself up and moving if you want to stay in control of your to-do list for the week. So how exactly can you take back your Sunday in order to conquer your college week? Here are some of my tips for fully utilizing your Sundays.


  1. Don't sleep in too long // Of course, being well-rested is critical to your success in college. However, if you stay in bed too long, it's going to be that much harder to get up and be productive later on in the day. My goal is usually to wake up by 9:30 AM on Sunday, even if that means setting an alarm on the weekend. Depending on your sleep habits, your goal wake-up time might be a little earlier or later, but you should absolutely be getting up before noon if you want to be productive! 
  2. Clean your room // I've always been a strong proponent of the idea that de-cluttering your space de-clutters your mind. Start fresh on Sunday by cleaning up your dorm room or apartment: take out any trash, wipe down surfaces with Clorox wipes, do your laundry, etc. You might be pleasantly surprised by how motivated you feel once your room is clean and in order.
  3. Review your calendar // Look at what you have going on in the coming week in terms of exams, meetings, and homework. Assess what has to get down and when, and create deadlines for yourself to make sure that everything will get taken care of on-time. Consider double-checking your class syllabus for due dates; nothing is worse than realizing you have a major assignment due the next day that you had forgotten about!
  4. Accomplish at least one task for the week // Sunday sets the tone for the rest of the week, so it's critical to try and cross one thing off your to-do list to start off on the right foot. Try tackling a medium-commitment task to get something major off your plate before the week even starts without stressing yourself out too much on your day off; just think of how confident you'll feel headed into Monday with your to-do list already partially managed. 
  5. Take some "you" time // It is the weekend, after all, so make sure you carve out some personal time on Sunday to de-stress before the stress of classes. Head to the gym, get your nails done, watch a movie-- the possibilities are endless!
     The best way you can manage your schedule is to plan ahead, and Sunday presents the perfect opportunity to do that, each and every weekend. Following these minor adjustments to your Sunday schedule can really help you capitalize on that weekend time without over-expending your energy before the week even starts. Let me know which of these tips you find the most helpful!

Thanks for reading,
Alex
Friday, October 13, 2017

Cozy for Fall featuring Woolly Threads

    Disclaimer: this post is in no way sponsored by Woolly Threads and fully reflects my own opinions!

     I don't publish outfit posts often, but that's mostly just because I don't usually have the time or resources to take pictures for them. At school, I'm usually running between classes, meetings, and the library and don't want to pester my friends to pictures for me. Now that I'm home for fall break, though, I have a minute to slow down and write a fun post with plenty of pictures.

     The hot, extremely humid weather in Williamsburg has had me in a major fashion rut recently. Seriously, what am I supposed to wear when it's mid October but it's still over 80 degrees? The past week has been a series of variations on the classic Nike shorts + t-shirt combo; sure, it's comfy, but fashion really can impact our attitude, and as a result I've been feeling pretty blah.

     Back in New Jersey, I woke up today to an overcast sky and temperatures in the mid-50's. Although it's a little blah, I can't help but feel like it's finally the first day of fall for me! I'm headed up to north Jersey tonight to meet up for friends, so I knew I'd be spending most of my day at home just relaxing and running errands with my mom; comfortable and cozy was the order of the day.



     My Woolly Threads sweatshirt is the centerpiece of this outfit. I'll be honest, I was really skeptical of Woolly Threads when I first saw them. The neckline looked a bit odd, the nubby fabric is a bit unusual, and the high price tag (most Woolies are around $65) was discouraging. I would've never ordered a Woolly Threads on my own, but when my sorority chapter decided to place a group order for chapter-branded sweatshirts, I knew I had to give the brand a shot.

     I wasn't disappointed! My Woolly has become a staple in my fall and winter wardrobe. These sweatshirts run oversized, which makes them perfect for throwing on over leggings like I did today. Despite running big, Woolly Threads still look very polished for class when paired with dark-wash jeans and riding boots. Woolly Threads come in a variety of collegiate and sorority-branded styles, but more plain designs are even more versatile; personally, I'm loving this striped Woolly Threads sweater on the brand's website. Although a little bit pricey, Woolly Threads are definitely worth the investment when you consider how much wear and warmth they offer, plus the fact that they're made here in the US.



     My Bean Boots are my go-to footwear for damp, chilly days. Throwing on a pair of J. Crew Camp Socks adds a cozy touch to the outdoorsy, preppy staple. Comfortable and practical, duck boots are a winter essential that you should consider buying if you don't have a pair yet; be sure to check out my guide to duck boots to decide which brand/style will work best for you!

     Even though it's a lazy day for me, I never get dressed without popping on my pearl studs. Whether your pearls were $7 from Target or $700 from Tiffany's, pearl studs can add a touch of prep to any outfit.

      Do you have a Woolly Threads sweatshirt? What's your go-to cozy fall outfit? Let me know in the comments below! I'm looking forward to a lot more cozy outfits this weekend while I hang out with friends over fall break.



Thanks for reading and enjoy your weekend,
Alex
   
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fall Bucket List 2017

     There's just something about fall that lends itself to creating a bucket list. Maybe it's the slew of photogenic activities that the season brings, or maybe it's the way the crisp air catalyzes creativity and a desire to spend time around loved ones. Whatever it is, social media has been chock full of bucket lists lately, and I'm excited to share my (very basic) list on the blog today. I'll admit that I wrote this list back in August, when a 90 degree day had me daydreaming about crunchy leaves and cozy scarves. 

     In the past, though, I've never really been much of a bucket list person. To me, they seemed to be a little silly; why create pressure to do certain activities within a rigid time frame amid your busy life? I realize now that my perspective took the idea of a bucket list a little too literally-- they aren't really do-or-die! 

    Now, I realize that bucket lists can be a fun tool to help you stay more present. It can be so easy to let our crazy lives carry us along like a tide without noticing what's going on around us. This fall, I'm trying to use my bucket list as a subtle reminder to enjoy the nuances of the season; we only get to experience so many autumns in our lifetime, and I want to enjoy them! Here's my bucket list and my progress so far.

     
   
     What I've already checked off my list:

  • Drinking a pumpkin latte // Okay, I had a Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Machiatto back during the first weekend of September when I was dealing with the craziness of sorority recruitment. Since then, I've had probably at least a half a dozen pumpkin lattes. Grabbing a pumpkin spice latte from the business school Starbucks before my Marketing class is always a great pick-me-up. On the flip side, I wouldn't recommend Manhattan Bagel's rendition of the classic; I tried it when I ran in for breakfast and drank about half of it because it tasted bland yet burnt. 
  • Watching a scary movie // This was a special item on my bucket list because at the time I wrote it, I hadn't seen a scary movie before! I felt like watching a scary movie would be a sort of fall right-of-passage, especially since people were always surprised when I told them I hadn't seen one before. My boyfriend managed to convince me and another one of friends to go see IT with him last month, and it was definitely scary! I had guessed I wouldn't do well with scary movies because I'm easily startled, and I was right; the jump scares got me every time.
  • Buy a pumpkin // Another item that I checked off my list with ease! The pumpkin and mum display outside Trader Joe's called my name as soon as I saw it in late September. Now I've got two little pumpkins and a mum sitting on my desk shelf, brightening up my dorm room.
What's left on my list:
  • Go for a hike in Shenandoah // Since I consider myself to be from Virginia despite being a military brat, Shenandoah National Park holds a special place in my heart. I spent four falls in a row exploring the beautiful mountains with my family and with a special friend who's since passed away; I have countless happy memories there and a few bittersweet ones too. I haven't been to Shenandoah since my family moved to New Jersey, and I'm missing it lots this fall. I thought a day trip from Williamsburg might be feasible, but unfortunately I don't think a trip to the mountains is going to work out for me this fall.
  • Make mulled apple cider // There's nothing like the smell of cider mulling on the stove top and then curling up with a steaming mug on the couch. I'll definitely be researching some mulling recipes to try out for Thanksgiving!
  • Go apple picking // This is an activity I've never done and I'm not sure I'll have time to fit it in this fall. For now, I guess I'll just settle for drooling over everyone's social media pictures of apple orchards.
  • Knit a scarf // I started knitting a cabled scarf back in August, and I'm about halfway done. I need to bring my knitting back with me from fall break so I can finish it up before it gets chilly. 
  • Make pumpkin bread // I've been cooking more at school this semester, but I have yet to tackle baking. My first goal is to bake up a big batch of pumpkin bread-- with chocolate chips, of course!
  • Go to a football game // I'm not a football fan at all, but going to a football game is quintessentially fall-like. I'm saving up my sports fan energy for William & Mary's homecoming game against James Madison next weekend.
  • Eat kettle corn // This will be easy enough to check off, but I can't wait to get my hands on some salty-sweet kettle corn!
  • Go to the farmer's market // Williamsburg hosts a Saturday farmers market every weekend from April to October, so I'm running out of time to stop by! Hopefully I'll find a Saturday morning to spend petting dogs and perusing produce and baked goods with friends. 
What's on your fall bucket list? I'd love to hear about it in the comments, and make sure to keep up with my bucket list on progress on Instagram using the link in the upper right hand corner of the page!

Thanks for reading,
Alex

UPDATE: I'll be traveling home for fall break on Friday, so I'll be taking a day off from posting! Stay tuned for a post on Monday :)
Monday, October 9, 2017

Why You Should Be Using a Diffuser in Your Dorm Room

     

     I briefly mentioned my love of diffusing essential oils in my Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2017 post, and today I'm excited to expand upon that love and share it with you all. I came to using essential oils through yoga, and they've truly improved my quality of life; I use my diffuser on the daily at home, and so far I've been using it just as much in my dorm room this semester (usually before bedtime).

     Essential oils are very versatile when it comes to use for home, beauty, and health, but the easiest way to reap their benefits is to use them in a diffuser. Using a diffuser is a great idea for college students and young professionals because they can clean the air in your dorm room or apartment, bolster your immune system, and help you de-stress.

     Benefits of diffusing essential oils into the air include...

  • Purifying the air by neutralizing airborne odor, bacteria, and viruses
  • Reducing stress by creating a spa-like environment, especially when you use oils that are scientifically proven to reduce stress, such as lavender
  • Helping you feel energized or focused when you wake up or need to study
  • Increasing humidity in the air, which keeps your airways moist and wards off sickness
  • Providing a dorm-friendly alternative to candles or incense-- plus it's safe to leave them plugged in and running while you're not home!

Where can I find a diffuser?
      Some essential oil brands sell diffusers that cost over $50, but these simply aren't necessary. You can find plenty of great diffusers on Amazon for $20 or less, and many diffusers that cost just a little bit more also come with a few starter essential oils. Other good places to look include Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Target, both online and in-store. 

What brand of essential oils should I buy?
     There are a few big players in the essential oil market that claim to be the "best", and the price tag for their products matches their ego. While these brands may provide a higher quality product, you generally don't need to buy such a high grade of essential oils unless you're going to be using them internally (i.e. putting them in food/drinks/capsules for consumption). A few of my favorite brands are...
  • doTERRA // One of the aforementioned big expensive brands, but I really enjoy splurging on a doTERRA oil every now and then because I can really smell a difference in their oils. Order off Amazon for the best prices and free shipping, or utilize a brand representative if you know someone who sells these oils.
  • Aura Cacia // Regarded as one of the best budget brands, Aura Cacia offers tons of different oils, all at great products. Aura Cacia is sold in Whole Foods stores, their brand website, and Amazon, so they're always easy to get ahold of. 
  • Mountain Rose Herbs // Although I've never used oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, I've heard great things about them. They're a great mid-range option as far as price goes. 
Which oils should I buy first?
     It can be intimidating when you start out buying oils, so here's a few affordable, versatile options to get your collection started
  • Lavender for stress/relaxation
  • Lemon for energizing/boosting your immune system
  • Peppermint for energizing/focusing on your work
Finally, I wanted to share a few of my favorite blends to put in my diffuser in my dorm room! These are just a few ideas; you can also buy pre-blended oils based on the effect you want to get from using a diffuser.
  • Sleepy time // 3 drops lavender + 2 drops bergamot + 1 drop cedarwood
  • Weekend morning // 3 drops sweet orange + 2 drops lavender
  • Citrus blend // 4 drops lemon + 3 drops orange + 2 drops bergamot
  • Relax & focus // 3 drops lavender + 2 drops peppermint
  • Room refresh // 3 drops lavender + 2 drops lemon + 1 drop tea tree (optional
     Below, I'm including my Aromatherapy board on Pinterest so you can access more blend ideas and tips on things like how to clean your diffuser!

Thanks for reading,
Alex




     
Friday, October 6, 2017

Duck Boot Buying Guide: L.L. Bean and Beyond

     
     With fall on our doorstep, duck boots are popping up across social media platforms and college campuses. Duck boots have a cult following, and rightly so; these ugly-cute shoes are the perfect answer to cold, wet fall and winter days. While a variety of shoe brands have entered the duck boot market, no brand is quite as loved as L.L. Bean and their original Bean boots.
     If you've got your heart set on picking up a pair of L.L. Bean boots this year, I've got good news for you-- they're still in stock! However, they're notorious for selling out fast and you can bet that they'll be on backorder by the end of October. Today, I'm weighing in on the debate between the 8' and 6' Bean boots as well as sharing some other brands of duck boots that might be worth a look.

L.L. Bean Boots // The Classic
     These duck boots are considered the "original" and many people will argue that this is the only brand of boots worth buying. At $129 for the 8" version and $119 for the 6" version, these boots are well-priced, especially when you consider the value of L.L. Bean's lifetime warranty on it's products; under $150 for a pair of boots you can wear for the rest of your life is a pretty incredible deal!
      Now that you're sold on the price, which length style do you get? The length refers to how long the leather column around your ankle/calf is. The 6" style is more popular, but I personally prefer the 8" length; the 6" boots look like they've been chopped off! When making your own decision though, consider the weather where you'll be wearing them; if you don't get a lot of snow where you live, or it doesn't get very cold, you probably don't need the 8" boots!
     What about sizing? People get really stressed about figuring out the sizing because the boots run large, but believe me, L.L. Bean's sizing guide online is accurate. Here's what they suggest:


"With light or midweight socks: Whole sizes, order one size down. Half sizes, order one and a half sizes down.
Example: 9 or 9½, order a size 8.
With heavyweight socks: Whole sizes, order your normal size. Half sizes, order the next whole size down.
Example: 9 or 9½, order a size 9."
     I normally wear a 7.5 in shoes, so based on the fact that I wanted to wear them with midweight to heavyweight socks, I got a size 7 and they fit perfectly when I pair with them thick socks (like J. Crew's Camp Socks). If you're really worried about hitting the sizing right, head to your nearest physical L.L. Bean store and try them on, but you better head in soon!
     Even if you get the sizing wrong or decide you'd prefer a different length boot, L.L. Bean's fabulous return policy means that making an exchange will be a snap. You can also get lined Bean boots, but I find them to be warm enough without splurging on the extra lining options.

Alternative Brands 
      Lately, lots of preppy footwear brands have been dabbling in the duck boot market, and the results have been quite varied. For the prep who's not committed to being a purist, one of these options might be a better fashion fit than the traditional Bean boots.
      Sperry Duck Boots // Sperry offers a wide variety of duck boots, including lots of different upper boot styles; standouts include the quilted and plaid boots. At $119, these duck boots are identical in price to the 6" L.L. Bean Boot. Try Sperry duck boots if you want something a little more unique than standard Bean boots but still value a traditional look. 

The quilted Sperry duck boot adds a little urban flair to this country classic
     Jack Rogers Chloe Boots // I'll be honest, I was horrified when I saw that Jack Rogers was coming out with its own take on the duck boot, and my opinion hasn't changed. Although a few of the color combinations are cute and classic (the coral with tan uppers are tolerable), other combinations include a glitter upper with baby-pink rubber bottoms-- yikes. At $118, these are priced the same as Sperry's duck boots and L.L. Bean boots, but fair warning, Jack Rogers duck boots aren't even fully waterproof; they suggest "treating the leather with a weather spray before braving the elements". Buy with caution. 
Yikes...
     Sorel Duck Boots // Sorel is well-known for making weatherproof boots, and the $145 price tag on their boots reflects their brand reputation. While you can bet that these duck boots will keep your feet dry and toasty, the styling is decidedly more rugged than other brands. 
Definitely more on the outdoorsy side of things

     
Bass Duck Boots // G.H. Bass & Co. is another Maine-centric brand, so it's unsurprising that they offer their own take on duck boots that looks suspiciously similar to L.L. Bean's version. Also only offered in whole sizes, Bass's duck boots plain and practical styling at $130 a pair, but something about them just feels a bit knockoff-ish. 
Like L.L Bean's version but just a little off
     So there you have it, a definitive guide to buying duck boots! If you're buying new boots this year, let me know what you decide on, and if you already have a pair, I'd love to hear what you like/dislike about the brand you picked!
Thanks for reading and happy fall, 
Alex