DECEMBER FAVES

Never has a year flown by like 2015 has.  This year had its ups and downs, definitely, but it's a year I'll remember for a long time.  Without further ado--and since December 2015 is slowly ticking down--here are my monthly favorites from a not-so-white December.

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1. Fair Isle Sweaters:  I was never a big sweater person until this year rolled around (ironically, this year has been too warm to wear them yet).  Before we went to Williamsburg, my mom surprised me with a lovely gray fair isle, and the rest is history. These iconic sweaters make me think of my favorite winter icons:  J Crew, nights by a fireplace, and reindeer.  What could be better?

2. Stationery:  2015 has become the year of the stationery to me.  I've always loved writing supplies, but I never dreamed that I'd be asking for writing supplies for Christmas!  Anthropologie has quickly become my go-to shop for the whimsical journals and calligraphy-covered stationery that we all know and love.

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS

The end of 2015 is looming, and we all know what that means:  time to start making resolutions.
Making a resolution is a great way to reflect on the past year and get ready for the new year, all at the same time.  However, it's not as rewarding if you can't think of a resolution to focus on (a situation that happens to yours truly frequently).

I've rounded up a list of some very commonplace resolutions that anyone could decide to choose and personalize to their own lifestyle, in the hopes of solving that problem.  And if this list makes you think of a very personal resolution to pursue, that's even better!

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From basic lifestyle changes to travel to spiritual and family matters, there's a resolution out there for everyone.  Now comes the harder part:  keeping the resolution...

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

Especially around the holidays, society seems more warmhearted and kind.  Suddenly people decide to walk down the street with smiles on their faces because it's December. They open doors, they become attached to the ideas of gratitude and good will. Wouldn't it be lovely if people acted like that year-round?

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Every holiday has a common foundation:  community.  Togetherness.  That's why no one really enjoys spending Christmas by himself.  Everyone wants to be included, especially around the holidays.  That's why exclusion is such a terrible thing.

If you've ever experienced exclusion, you understand.  If you've ever felt like the odd man out, or if you've been ignored by people you know, you've been excluded.  The saddest fact of all is that you probably didn't do anything to deserve exclusion.  It just happened.  I don't elaborate on this to inspire dislike for the people you know;  I elaborate because I understand what it's like to be left out.

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 12/20/15 -- 12/26/15

December 26 is always a little melancholy for me.  Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday, so acknowledging that I'll have to wait another year for it to roll around again is a little disheartening.   That being said, my Christmas was wonderful.  My mom loved the Laudree recipe book she received, and Dad can't wait to wear his new shirt.  As for me, I can't wait to hop over to Target, Old Navy, and Amazon to put a dent in some gift cards.

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
The book that I cannot wait to purchase...
Lovely December wedding inspiration.

SECRET SANTA

My favorite day of the year has arrived, and I couldn't be happier.  Sharing Christmas with my family members, four-legged siblings, and even some Internet friends has been a blessing in itself.

I was invited to participate in a bloggers' Secret Santa--an invitation I quickly accepted. Assuming the role of Secret Santa was a blast, and opening up my own gift on Christmas morning was lovely. My Secret Santa, Abigail, was an absolute angel, and she even picked up on my love of calligraphy.  I am so grateful to her for such thoughtful gifts.

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HOLIDAY CHRISTMAS COOKIES

I don't know what your favorite part of the holiday season is, but one of mine is the baking.  In fact, I'm not sure whether I love the preparation or the actual eating more, as both are very relaxing activities that I look forward to every single year.

My mom and I have been making specialty Christmas cookies ever since I can remember, and these peppermint cookies are some of my absolute favorites.  Since they can be made from a store bought cookie dough mix, they're an extremely easy bake that yields delicious results.


BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 12/13/15 -- 12/19/15

And just like that, exam week was finally over!

The reason for my long absence is easily summed up:  school.  Exams, chapter tests, ACT practice tests (and even the real deal).  Thankfully winter break has arrived, which means that I am allowed to devote a huge portion of time to all things blog-related.  Look to see exciting changes around here...

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
An Instagram account sure to make calligraphy lovers giddy
Vogue's unofficial history of the ugly Christmas sweater (featuring lovely runway views)...

WEEKEND IN PIGEON FORGE

It's not often that I get to go on extended trips during the holidays, so a weekend in Tennessee was an exciting prospect.  My mom and I got the opportunity to spend a weekend in Pigeon Forge, and we had a lovely time all by ourselves.  It's a very tourist-y city, but it has such a cheerful and bustling atmosphere--even more so during the holidays.

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While maneuvering along all of those windy mountain roads, it was hard not to notice the beautiful scenery everywhere.  If you love nature, I'd definitely suggest taking one of the scenic roads through the national park.  There are some gorgeous photo opportunities.

GIFT GUIDE: THE ANIMAL LOVER

Another week, another gift guide!  Before we dive into the world of animal gifts, I'd like to announce that I'll be embarking on a road trip of sorts this weekend (follow along on Instagram), amounting to the absence of an updates post for this week.

Updates aside, this gift guide is one of my absolute favorites.  I think there's a bit of an animal lover inside all of us--what girl doesn't at least love animal prints?  For the more passionate animal and pet lovers, it's easy to customize a gift with an animal of choice, or even with a photograph of a specific beloved animal.  It's something that they'll be bound to love almost as much as their own furry friends!

Gifts For Animal Lovers

The Etsy Gift Guide

My favorite month of the year is here, which means that my favorite holiday is only a few short weeks away.  In other words, it's time to get shopping.
If you're looking for very personal and heartwarming gifts, Etsy is a lovely place to start looking. There's something for everyone on this database of online boutiques, and prices are always wonderful.  I've rounded up my favorite Etsy shops to showcase some of their best products--products that would be perfect gifts!

1. For the Writer
Lilly Pulitzer Journal
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The Miss Petunia Mary shop specializes in beautiful custom journals that any word lover would be proud to own.  From her custom map travel journals to her charming Lilly Pulitzer printed journals and ornaments, you'll be able to find a lovely gift for anyone this holiday season.

2. For the Monogram Addict
Short Sleeve Monogrammed Comfort Colors Reindeer Antler Holiday Shirt
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With over 150 different options to choose from, The Initialed Life shop is a monogram lover's heaven.  Who doesn't love a personalized touch, especially when it's Christmas-themed?

3. For the World Traveler
Paris Photograph -- Laduree Macarons -- Travel Photography -- 8 X 10 Inch Print
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Not only does Ashley of History In High Heels have a wonderful blog, but she also runs a successful Etsy print shop.  She's made several of her own photos from her world travels into lovely wall prints perfect for any person with a case of wanderlust.

4. For the Avid Book Reader
Alice in Wonderland Altered Book Art Quote on Vintage Book Page Why is a Raven
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We all have friends who've read books so many times that they've all but memorized them;  a shop that combines famous book quotes and book pages into pieces of art is one that book lovers are going to love almost as much as reading.

What are your favorite Etsy shops?

Love,

Being A Prep For A Week: 11/22/15 -- 11/28/15

I've never been more thankful for a three day break.
My week was pretty exciting academically because I became the first sophomore to ever be inducted into my school's math honors society (perks of having my last name). Going Black Friday shopping was just as relaxing as ever--I've found that window shopping on Google Chrome is never quite as crowded.
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
The best Black Friday deals from Kate Spade and Anthropologie
My ideal coffee table book:  The Dogist
A beautifully designed website by Jess from Bows and Sequins (I'm envious)
A list of the best education quotes for your perusal

And since Thanksgiving's over, you know what everyone's saying:  "It's the most wonderful time of the year!"

How was your week?

Love,

Gift Guide: The Quote Lover

Being "the blogger who has a quote for every situation,"  I'm thrilled that social media has driven the general consumer to appreciate witty sayings and phrases--especially those that are plastered on everyday items.  It's harder to shop for quote lovers, but never fear, I've searched the Internet for the wittiest gifts around (and some are under ten dollars)!

Shop the post (and other witty gifts):

What other gifts do you think are perfect for quote lovers?

Love,

Easy Cranberry Relish

Happy Thanksgiving!  To celebrate this much-needed holiday, I'm going to share one of the simplest (and most delicious) Thanksgiving recipes ever created.  It's always promptly devoured by my family, and this relish is one leftover that you won't dread eating.
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Ingredients
Food processor with a chop blade
2 medium oranges
4 cups of fresh cranberries 
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of pecans, halved or chopped

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1.  Remove the orange portion of the peels of both oranges with a pairing knife and put the peels in the food processor.
2.  Peel the white part off of the oranges and discard.
3.  Use the knife to cut the remaining orange slices out of the fruit and put these in the food processor.

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4.  Put the cranberries and pecans in the food processor.
5.  Pour the sugar over the top.
6.  Turn the food processor on low and let it process for a couple of minutes until everything is coarsely chopped and mixed together uniformly.
7.  Pour the relish into a large container and cover.  Let it chill in the refrigerator for several hours. Make sure to stir it before serving.

This tasty side also freezes well, but if prepared well, you won't have enough left to save!  It's zesty and sweet, and it happens to be my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner (besides the pie)!

How was your Thanksgiving?

Love,

Being A Prep For A Week: 11/15/15 -- 11/21/15

November's flying by, and I must admit, it's a little disconcerting.
I've been a horrible blogger lately, only because my schedule has been extremely bogged down (think "missing three days of honors classes in the span of a week" bogged down).  With holidays coming up, I'm hoping that will change.  
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
In light of the Paris tragedies, a beautiful perspective on the matter from a favorite blogger of mine
Gorgeous calligraphy menus that would be perfect for Thanksgiving
Old Navy's new "Pop Preppy" Collection--look out for the plaid!
A quick anecdote about the creation of the Kate Spade desk set

In a world that's lacking bravery, I think we should all remember that we "can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."

How was your week?

Love,

Dog Show Days

An annual tradition in my household is having an outing to the dog show.  We're all self-proclaimed dog lovers, so stepping inside an arena that's full of the creatures is like waltzing into paradise.  To me, the dog show is also a symbol that fall has decided to make its presence known--and that winter isn't far behind.  First and foremost, I just look forward to being surrounded by welsh corgis.
Since I knew we were going to be walking on a dirt floor in a chilly environment, I opted for a simple long-sleeve and my most durable pair of rain boots.  I should've reconsidered my split-second decision to wear black leggings (dog fur and black don't cooperate), but for the sake of comfort, it was worth it.














How was your weekend?
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Love,

Photo Editing Secrets

Exposure, contrast, warmth, definition.  What do these words have in common?  They all deal with that special art that's becoming very prevalent in the age of technology: photography.
Whether you want to pursue photography as a profession, take photos for a blog or website, or just like taking pictures of things, it's important to know some basic photo editing skills because--sadly--most pictures are not perfect quality when you initially take them.  I'm no photography master, but I've picked up a few easy tips from blogging.  No matter what photo editing system you use, remember to ask yourself four quick questions as you're editing:
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Light Or Dark?
The single most important factor of photo editing is the exposure, or bright light, that you'd like to add to your photo.  Keep in mind that a bit of exposure is almost always a necessity for photos to achieve that nice, professional look.  Decide whether you want to crank it up for a sun-drenched snap or leave it lower to allow for more color contrast.

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Warm Or Cool?
After you've tuned the exposure in your picture, fixing the temperature will be much easier.  If the photo's color scheme consists of a myriad of bright hues, a warmer temperature will probably look best;  if the colors are soft neutrals and blues, chances are that a cooler temperature is the right choice.

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Fade Or Sharpen?
Although these tools can add the finishing touches to any picture, be wary of over-using them. Gradually sharpening a snap can make it look much higher quality, and fading a picture gives it that trendy theme that Instagram and Tumblr are dying for.

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Over-edited Or Under-edited?
Once you've edited your picture to your satisfaction, step back and look at the finished product.  Does it look too edited?  Are the colors distorted and oddly tinted?  If so, turn down the exposure and temperature for a quick fix.  On the other hand, does the picture look too plain and shadowy?  Adding more exposure and getting rid of some contrast will help.

If a picture can speak one thousand words, think how many a wonderfully edited picture can express!

What are your photo editing secrets?

Love,

Being A Prep For A Week: 11/1/15 -- 11/7/15

Is anyone else puzzled about how time suddenly picked up its pace and moved us to November?  I understand completely.
Over in my spectrum of the world, there was an abundance of Fiber One Bars being eaten and tests being taken, along with blog posts being written.  And, in case you didn't see on Instagram, Toby and I channeled our inner Halloween spirits.
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
@kenthecorgi has only fueled my obsession with corgis--I'm thinking Toby needs one of these Instagram accounts...
Festive holiday photos from Pink Peonies (get ready to be inspired)
An ugly Christmas sweater that I'm dying to wear

With Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving right around the corner, I couldn't resist sharing this quote:  "As we express our gratitude...we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

How was your week?

Love,

Patagonia Weather

The weather's getting crisp, leaves are falling, boots are stomping, and jackets are being pulled out of closets.  There's always been something appealing about breaking out my jackets in the mornings and being able to see my breath in the frosty air (well, until February rolls around, and then I'm quite ready for spring to come again).
I received my first Patagonia pullover as a Christmas gift last year, and I was so happy to have jumped on the bandwagon.  Patagonias are pretty pricey, but the quality of the jackets and pullovers makes up for it.  I'm almost positive that I wore my pullover at least fifty times last winter--that's saying something!

Patagonia+'Synchilla'+Snap+Tee+available+at+#Nordstrom:

If you want something that can easily be slipped on or off, I'd recommend checking out the pullovers (so many different colors!) and vests;  if you want a cold weather jacket, look into the fleece jackets, which are much warmer than you'd expect them to be.
What do you think of the Patagonia line?

Love,

October Faves

October has been such a lovely month.  Late October is the prime time for foliage colors in the South--and boy, have the leaves been gorgeous.  The weather is finally starting to cool down, I finally broke out my scarves and sweaters, and Halloween is finally here! However, I can't say that I'm glad that October is finally leaving...
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1. Bomber Jackets:  I may have found the perfect dressy jacket.  It's functional without being overly heavy, and the color is perfect for winter days.  Plus, this jacket option is a petite girl's best friend.

2. Blanket Scarves:  Oh, the blanket scarves.  I've seen several variations of the classic trend this month, but my favorite has been this white and black checked scarf.  Its small pattern and lack of busy colors makes it easier to pair with a multitude of items.

3. Bell Sleeves:  There is nothing more feminine than a bell sleeve.  Pair it with a blush color and a spot of lace, and you've created a beautiful top.  I'm eager to see how to incorporate this trend into winter outfits.

4. Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee:  On the non-fashion side of things, I finally got the chance to read Harper Lee's infamous second novel.  I started reading with less-than high expectations because of all of the flack it has received, but I should have never judged it that way.  This book is phenomenal;  the language is crafted and colloquial at the same time, and Scout is such an interesting character.  The ending is a little depressing, but don't let that keep you from reading it!

I'm so glad that I live in a world where there are Octobers.

Any faves from this month that you'd like to share?

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Love,

Dealing With Failure

Everyone knows that life isn't fair.  It's a fact.
One of the not-so-lovely things that makes life unfair is failure;  specifically, the form that comes when we don't have immediate success in some facet of our lives.
Not being able to accomplish something, especially something that took a chunk of time and energy, is frustrating, to say the least.  No matter how much of a downer failure is, you can't let it keep you down for long.

1. Don't Jump to Conclusions:  Our first reaction to failure is usually a mixture of sadness and anger.  Don't let your mouth run away with you, and don't begin bashing yourself.  You can't let one failure define you and the others around you.

2. Don't Over-analyze:  This can make the failure swell to astronomical sizes in your head.  Thinking about what could have or should have happened won't help you at all. Even though it seems impossible, try not to dwell on the incident.

3. Treat Yourself:  Whether it's with ice cream or a movie night, give yourself the time to recuperate.  Food can usually make everything better.

4. Look at the Big Picture:  After the initial feelings of frustration have worn off, try to consider the big picture.  Will this failure affect your entire life as a whole?  Would success have really been the right thing for you?  Chances are, there's something ten times better around the corner.

5. Try Again:  What's the good thing about failure?  It isn't permanent, which means that you have the perfect opportunity to shoot for something even better.

You know what they say:  "Failure is a much more faithful teacher than immediate success."

How do you deal with failure?

Love,

Being A Prep For A Week: 10/18/15 -- 10/24/15

I'd usually be happy that the week is coming to an end, but this week was quite lovely.
Besides missing school on Monday to participate in a leadership conference, I had a completely normal school routine--which can be rather nice.
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Sneak a peek at the whimsical Gal Meets Glam X BaubleBar collaboration
The College Prepster's review of the Gal Meets Glam collaboration (what a wonderful friendship)
Sneak a longer peek at the new Kate Spade Home Decor Line
A memoir to my lovely idol:  Audrey At Home

Sticking with this week's lovely theme, I can only end by saying, "Happy girls are the prettiest."

How was your week?

Love,

Halloween Movies For The Faint At Heart

I know that Halloween is supposed to be centered around scaring people, but what about those who would rather enjoy the less frightening side of the holiday?  What happened to the the pumpkin carving and the candy eating?
For those of you who (like yours truly) cannot stand scary movies, do not fear;  your Halloween experience will not be ruined.  There are some hidden movie gems that are--albeit cheesy--perfect for a cool October night.

Mad Monster Party
Mad Monster Party? -- Baron Von Frankenstein (voice of Boris Karloff) has decided to retire as the head of the Worldwide Organization of Monsters. But first, he must inform the other monsters about his plans. How to deliver the news? How else - through a MAD MONSTER PARTY!:
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This has always been a must-watch movie in my household.  It's like a mix between a Tim Burton film and a Dr. Seuss novel.  Odd, entertaining, and not the least bit scary, it's definitely a movie that you won't forget.

The Nightmare Before Christmas
"The Nightmare Before Christmas" > 1993 > Directed by: Henry Selick > Children's Family / Fantasy / Musical /  Musical Family / Animated Musical / Children's Fantasy / Creature Film / Animation:
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One of the more well-known movies in this list, The Nightmare Before Christmas is an all-around enjoyable movie.  Plus, it never fails to put me in the holiday spirit!

The Addams Family

The Addams Family (1991)
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You haven't lived until you've watched the antics of this hilarious family.  If Wednesday Addams doesn't make you laugh, I don't know who will.

Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters (1984)
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If you really want a good laugh, rent Ghostbusters.  Trust me on this.

Tower of Terror
Tower of Terror (1997)
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Tying in with the iconic Disney ride, this movie makes for an interesting watch.  Plus, what's better than a nineties movie?

Never fear:  not all Halloween movies feature demonic presences and murderers.

What are you watching this Halloween?

Love,

Being A Prep For A Week: 10/11/15 -- 10/17/15

Hello, thirty degree weather!  What took you so long?
This was a very irregular week for me because I was off Monday and Tuesday, and then on Wednesday I got up bright and early to take the PSAT.  Plus, the auditions for the Alabama Allstate Show Choir were yesterday;  that was an experience that definitely deserved a pint of ice cream.

Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
An Italian travel guide that divides the country into seasons (wisteria in spring sounds lovely!)
Buzzfeed's roundup of the best ways to transform chocolate chip cookies
A former Miss America's tips on public speaking--and conquering any anxiety surrounding it

Lastly, the quote for this week is a friendly reminder: "Act without expectation."

How was your week?

Love,

Outfit: Searching For Fall

As much as I would love to break out my sweaters and boots, the weather in Alabama is a bit of an obstacle.  The temperatures are as high as ever, and the fashion is very chaotic. Half of the population is sporting pullovers and booties, while the other half is still clinging to Birkenstocks and shorts.  It definitely makes for an interesting sight!
Even though I can't pull out my sweaters, I've been trying to incorporate fall-esque pieces into my wardrobe, like my favorite version of the blanket scarf and a solid pair of ankle boots.  Perhaps the weather will decide to cooperate...

I'm still on a never-ending search for autumn--but if I've learned anything, it's that everything has its own time.

How are you preparing for fall?

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Love,

Being A Prep For A Week: 10/4/15 -- 10/10/15

And cue fall break, please!
I'm currently on a long-awaited four day weekend, so I couldn't be happier.  All that free time to work on blog posts and PSAT tests and dog tricks...
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Reese Witherspoon's charmingly Southern clothing line (even the pencils are darling)
A quiz that Gone With The Wind fans (such as yours truly) will be mad about
The next blog envy of mine:  Paris In Four Months

To finish up this week, here's one of my favorite Roald Dahl quotes:  "If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sun beams and you will always look lovely."

How was your week?

Love,

The World Of A Perfectionist

There's one in every crowd, in every school, in every town, and possibly in every home. Perfectionists are everywhere.  No matter how many advertisements that read "Embrace Imperfection" are broadcasted, perfectionists keep on looking for perfection.  I know, because I am one.
Being a perfectionist is definitely a double-edged sword.  On one hand, it usually results in a wonderful work ethic and a meticulous eye for detail.  On the other hand, this attention to detail often leads to over-scrutinizing, which usually leads to stress.  When a perfectionist spots imperfection (and it's very likely that this will happen), it's like a personal blow.
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If you've ever been upset over a test score that was three points lower than you wanted it to be, chances are that you have a bit of the perfectionist streak within you.  Do uneven lines and asymmetry bother you?  How about cluttered spaces?  If you're a blogger, does that one un-centered picture on your sidebar vex you to no end?
Honestly, I think the majority of people are perfectionists in one way or another--and there isn't anything wrong with that scenario.  However, it's important to accept and embrace the fact that achieving perfection is impossible.  Neglecting to acknowledge that fact will result in a large amount of undue stress and worry for you (take it from someone who knows).
My mother has always told me one piece of advice regarding my perfectionism:  "You cannot berate yourself for making one mistake.  You cannot criticize yourself for not being PERFECT.   There was only one perfect human being that walked this Earth;  the rest of us have to accept our mistakes, and keep moving on."
Instead of reaching for perfection, try for your best.  In the end, doing your best is all that really matters.

Are you a fellow perfectionist?

Love,

Being A Prep For A Week: 9/27/15 -- 10/3/15

I have only two statements that I'd like to declare about my week:  1) it was finally chilly outside and I might actually be able to wear a scarf next week, and 2) I'm so happy that this week is nearly over.
Let's just say that in my corner of the world, this week might go down as one of the not-so-happiest in the record books.
Speaking of scarves, I've been on the hunt for some good transitioning pieces.  I think I might have stumbled across the perfect scarf for petite girls and long haired girls alike (if you fall into one of these categories, you understand my pain).
Factory wool plaid scarf
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I'm anticipating that varsity sweaters will become a huge fall trend, which I'm very excited about. I love the slight v-neck on this Old Navy sweater.
Women's Varsity V-Neck Sweaters | Old Navy:
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On the blogging side of things, I cannot get enough of Ashley's Santorini photos (which is quite ironic, considering I've been so excited about fall).  Santorini is definitely on my bucket list--especially that sunset!

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Lastly, because we all need to be reminded of this every now and then:
myrelationshipwithlove:

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.”
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How was your week?

Love,
Old NavyOld Navy