2017 Resolutions

It's that time of year again.  On the threshold of one year closing and another opening, we observe our past actions in order to form blueprints for our future selves to follow. Not everyone is a fan of making resolutions, but I've always thought that making them allowed me to engage my brain and gave me a new set of goals to aspire to.  In that light, I've rounded up a few resolutions that can be broadly applied to anyone's daily life in the hopes that you can reflect upon your hopes and desires for the new year;  perhaps they can even help you create your own.

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Personally, I'd like to focus on numbers three, six, and eleven during 2017.  Hopefully doing so will make my daily life run a bit more smoothly than it did this year.  So, are the creative cogs in your brain churning yet?  For even more resolution inspiration, peruse last year's resolution post.

Above all, remember this as we transition into a new year:  "You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream."

What are your hopes for 2017?


Happy Holidays

Hello, all!  Today I'm going to take a short and sweet opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous New Year, and Happy Holiday Season.  I hope that this time of year allows you to focus on what is truly important:  loved ones, unforgettable moments, a sense of community.  Embrace your traditions, and look forward to the dawning year with anticipation.

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Now, I think all that's left to say can be summed up in one of my favorite Christmas quotes: "'Maybe Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store.  Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.'"


A Brief Hiatus

Hello, lovely readers!  This post is going to be rather short and, as you might have guessed, will explain why I'm going to be taking a very brief break from publishing posts here on Prep For A Day.  This week I have my midterm exams;  as always, education is my top priority, so the majority of my time will be devoted to studying and (hopefully) making top scores on all of those exams.  Infinitely more exciting than finishing up the semester is the fact that I'll be embarking on a little vacation right after my last midterm:  this blogger is heading to Disney World!

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My family and I are taking a much-needed vacation to the happiest place on earth for the holidays, and while I plan on updating my social media as often as possible while there, it is unlikely that I will have the time needed to publish a full-blown post.  Never fear:  I'll keep in touch with you all while I'm away!

Until then, happy holidays!


Gift Guide: The Christmas Fanatic

I think we can all find a place within ourselves that loves the holidays, especially when we're in the midst of them.  Beyond having a typical fondness for Christmastime, however, there are a special few in the world who love this time of year more than anything.  They start listening to holiday music in July, they dream about white Christmases and ugly holiday party sweaters.  They are the die-hard Christmas fans, and fortunately, buying presents for them is as enjoyable and hassle-free as decking the halls.

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Michael BublĂ© Album -- "Fleece Navidad" Sweater -- Boxed Mug Set -- Phone Case
-- Christmas Cookie Shampoo -- Holiday Socks Set

Whether you give them a hilarious Christmas sweater or the classic Michael BublĂ© Christmas album (it's as good as everyone says it is), Christmas fanatics are bound to love any present given in the spirit of the holiday season.  When in doubt, pick something that's red and green.

Any other gifts for Christmas fanatics that you'd like to share?

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Being A Prep For A Week: 11/27/16 -- 12/2/16

Ah, it's finally December:  the month when we celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, and National Chocolate Day.  It's already starting to sound like a wonderful thirty-one days.
Getting back to the daily educational grind was a little difficult after Thanksgiving break, but thankfully most of my educators also felt a bit winded and adjusted their lessons plans accordingly.  In terms of the weather here, I'm also pretty ecstatic;  I've actually been able to wear a jacket every morning without feeling ridiculously hot or overdressed.  Only a few weeks left until midterms, and then I'll be off to a new semester!  How time flies!
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
This is, without a doubt, the best blogger gift guide I've seen--you'll understand when you reach the very end...
Looking for a gift for a technology-loving friend?  Try this pretty floral phone case or this unique laptop sleeve (also perfect for the travel-lover in your life).
How does one decide between tartan and tassels?  Actually, thanks to this scarf, you can have both.
This hot chocolate recipe proves that French cuisine has always been innately superior in the sweets department...
Speaking of France, Laudree's official macaron guide is a glowing example of the loveliness of a good French pastry (I got this for my mom last year, and she absolutely loves it)!

So, on that magical note, I have but one little thought to round out the week:  "Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.  Those who don't believe in magic will never find it."

How was your week?


November Faves

I don't know which fact is more terrifying:  I have two weeks left until midterms, or tomorrow is December 1.  Each of those realities is pretty frightening--but that's life, right?
November seemed to fly by, particularly because the first few weeks were absolute chaos (in many ways), and I put more energy than I'd care to admit into wishing Thanksgiving break to the present.  The break was lovely, but now it's back to reality for us all.  At least November was a good sport and ended on a better note than it started with.  Now, on to some of my favorite things from the past few weeks:
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1. Cozy Sweaters:  Nothing screams winter fashion like a good sweater.  I've probably written about the assets of sweaters at least five times this month, if that fact proves my previous point.  If you're in the market for a good sweater, I recommend popping into J. Crew (check out this chic turtleneck) and Old Navy (I know I'm excited to wear this stitched number).

2. Fuzzy Socks:  Sensing a pattern here?  Although the winter weather here hasn't exactly lived up to my expectations, I haven't let that stop me from dressing in the most comfortable lounge clothing ever invented.

3. Heartless by Marissa Meyer:  I've searched for this novel every time I've stepped into a bookstore for the past month (that's quite a few times, I might add), and after much exploration, I stumbled upon a copy.  If you love Once Upon a Time and unique interpretations of classic fairy tales, you'll like this read and love this author.

4. Velvet:  Velvet is one of my favorite fabrics, particularly during the winter.  There's something so glamorous and sophisticated about it, whether it's adorning a pair of ankle boots or a pretty top.

Let's be frank:  November was as chaotic as it always is, but I think that chaos taught us all a few lessons.  However, the most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner--and I believe that's enough to pull us through.

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

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Being A Prep For A Week: 11/20/16 -- 11/26/16

Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone!  I sincerely hope your day was filled with loved ones' visits, lots of laughter, and entirely too much food.  Now that that particular holiday is behind us, you all know what's coming:  the most wonderful time of the year! Although I believe that some of our society goes a bit overboard with Christmas preparations and marketing, I can't deny that it's also my favorite holiday.  Let's just say that the Christmas music station may be blasting in my house for the next several weeks...
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Somehow Abercrombie has mastered the art of creating lovely ugly Christmas sweaters: I love the vintage vibes on this one and the classic fairisle pattern on this one...
In the midst of preparing yesterday's post, I stumbled upon The Literary Gift Company, which has quickly become one of my favorite retailers--I mean, they sell literary-themed wrapping paper...
Just started watching this new documentary on Netflix;  if you love history, I definitely recommend giving it a watch!
The fact that Anthropologie sells a corgi ornament (!) makes me love the store that much more...
As someone who has always loved the Rockettes and The Nutcracker, I thought this video about the auditions for the Radio City Music Hall's Nutcracker program was very interesting...

Along with the knowledge of the holiday season's upcoming arrival, I'll leave you with one piece of advice:  "A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities."

How was your week?


Gift Guide: The Book Lover

I have been eagerly anticipating the day that I could finally start posting gift guides on the blog--and that day has arrived, my friends.  Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit quite like organizing these specialized gifting guides.  To start this series off, I wanted to compile a guide for a very unique bunch of people in the world:  the literary lovers.  We all know at least one of them, and many of us (myself included) categorize ourselves as part of the book lovers club.  While the obvious present for this group will always be a good book, it can be difficult to discover more creative gift options.  Never fear;  that's why I'm here (and on Black Friday, of all days)!

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-- Ankle Socks -- Pen

A classic book is wonderful, but we literary lovers will appreciate a gift card just as much. Also, most of us are prone to lounging around while reading a gripping novel, so fuzzy socks, comfy pillows, and unique mugs (for steaming hot drinks) are both thoughtful and useful gifts.  It's a win-win!

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

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Sweater Weather

Miracle of all miracles, the temperatures here in the South have actually dropped into the "cool" range.  Even more miraculous, it has ceased being 80 degrees outside at 8 AM:  a staunch improvement!
Sweaters have always been one of my favorite pieces of winter clothing because of their versatility.  It's very easy to make a sweater just as casual or as formal as you'd like depending on what you pair it with, and there really is no limit as to how many ways you can style one.  To celebrate this onset of winter weather, I've rounded up a few of my favorite sweaters to share with you.  Feel free to wrap up in a large blanket and drink a steaming mug of hot chocolate while browsing.
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Cable Knit Sweater -- Navy Fair Isle Sweater -- Striped Funnel Neck Sweater
-- Charcoal Mock Neck Sweater -- V-Neck Sweater -- Bow Tie Neck Sweater

Granted, the mere thought of patterned sweaters and turtlenecks would have made me cringe just a few years ago, but now that they've gained popularity, I find them pretty appealing.  Plus, what isn't to love about a cozy cable knit or a striped number?

What are some of your favorite sweater trends?

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Being A Prep For A Week: 11/6/16 -- 11/12/16

What a week.  Especially if you reside in America, you can agree with me on that one.
On a smaller scale, my part of the world was extremely busy.  On Monday I had a nerve wracking audition for Alabama's Allstate SATB choir (something I've been involved with for the past four years) which, surprisingly, went very well.  Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with miscellaneous quizzes and makeup work, and Thursday was the mother load:  a qualifying round for a state competition and an AP Statistics test that I continue to have nightmares about.  However, all of that hustling and hectic-ness has really paid off;  this is the first weekend in a long assortment of weekends that I haven't felt completely overwhelmed by homework or ongoing projects.  Plus, dare I say it:  it's beginning to feel a lot like the holiday season!  No time is better for new beginnings.
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Rosie has once again convinced me to take up traveling;  Boston has never looked so appealing...
Can we talk about how cute the J. Crew kids' holiday line is?  
Anthropologie has the most beautiful wall art:  this piece reminds of the sea, and this piece is lovely for any animal lovers out there...
If anyone is still fixated on pumpkin (I don't blame you), this is the video for you to watch!
Lastly, I'm excited to announce that my family is taking a Christmas trip to Disney this December--and everyone knows that no vacation is complete without good food...

Let's be honest:  this week was just as eye-opening as it was hectic.  It was simultaneously a beginning and an end to many things, on both smaller and larger scales. The only thing left for us to do is to march onward, to face this new beginning with courage and perseverance.  In light of that, I have but one piece of advice for you: "Believe in the sun, even when it's not shining.  Believe in love, even when you feel it not.  Believe in God, even when He is silent."

How was your week?


Being A Prep For (Several) Weeks

Ciao!  How are things going?  Long time, no see, right?  Definitely right.  Welcome back to my small corner of the Internet which, rather unfortunately, has been without an operator for the past few weeks.  I'm sure that readers of my last post have a substantial idea as to what contributed to my absence, but in case you missed it, I can sum it up rather quickly:  life decided to challenge me by seeing just how much I could fit into my daily schedule and still have ample room for breathing and sleeping.  Life doesn't always play fair, as I learned.
Fast forward to the present, and I can affirm that I'm very happy to be back blogging.  It really allows me to utilize a part of my brain that is neglected by my routine schoolwork. For now, I'm just hoping for the best!
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past weeks:
This post has thoroughly convinced me that Bavaria is the most beautiful destination in Europe...
The ten habits of super-achievers, according to Forbes--a good article to bookmark!
Let's take a moment to appreciate how stylish these modified rain boots are...
I finally jumped on the "adult coloring book" bandwagon;  surprisingly, I've really enjoyed working in this inspirational quotes book and this super unique book that focuses on famous pieces of artwork.
The best fall finds:  a plaid mini skirt (under $30!), a quilted pullover, and a pretty lace dress...
I've been utilizing my Pinterest board to get into the Halloween spirit, and I've got to admit that these "poison" toffee caramel apples look really cool!
Also, speaking of Halloween, here's one of my favorite Halloween-related posts that I've ever published!

To close out this post, I'm going to share a little reminder that has really helped me over the past few weeks:  "Sometimes we can learn and study and know, and sometimes we have to believe, trust, and hope."

How was your week?


Beaten By Burnout

Picture this:  a girl sits in the middle of her bedroom, various papers and binders lying in formation around her.  Each paper represents yet another task to be fulfilled, another check to be marked in a box.  The papers--or what they represent, rather--frighten the girl;  she hasn't the faintest idea where to begin with the massive piles of things around her and yet she realizes that she must begin in order to make them disappear.  The hour is late, her head aches, and her mind spins in a dozen directions when she says aloud, "Is all of this worth it?"
As you may have guessed, that girl is me, and the description you just read is a little scenario that has played out a few times too many over the past months.  I had been warned that burnout was a real danger, especially to high school and college students, but I hadn't ever considered that I would be experiencing it head-on.
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It's such a peculiar situation because I've already enjoyed this year infinitely more than I've enjoyed the other two years of high school I have under my belt.  Socially, things have improved astronomically.  I enjoy the classes I'm taking;  they are more challenging, but I prefer them to be that way.  For once I feel as though I'm involved in things that I truly wish to be involved in, and I even feel like I could earn my way to a leadership position in some of those things.  On paper everything sounds perfect, which is part of the reason why this burnout is so infuriating.

When you take a look at the fine print, the situation starts looking less favorable.  Junior year has a reputation as being the most challenging year of high school in the realm of academics.  I don't believe that the curriculum is what strictly earns that reputation;  it's having to balance a tougher course load with standardized testing, extracurricular involvement, college touring, and living, that gives junior year such a harrowing reputation.  My classes aren't overwhelmingly difficult;  however, I'm technically taking more than the maximum amount of classes that my school offers to its students per semester, and four of them are Advanced Placement courses.  I'm the only person in my entire grade who is taking AP Statistics, which is a fact intimidating in itself.  This year I plan to take and finalize my scores for nearly every standardized test that is available to high school students.  I'm also auditioning for a couple of choirs and competing in a health science competition that involve an extensive amount of independent preparation. Add all of that to blogging and other clubs and teams, and I've forged a pretty busy schedule.  Then there's the fact that I have to wake up around five every morning to have enough time to start working on one of my online classes at six-thirty;  that wouldn't be significant if not for the fact that I've ended up with a cluttered sleep schedule.  The list could go on and on perpetually.

For a while I've been feeling like an entirely different person--but not in a positive way. I feel constantly sluggish and easily defeated.  Even when I try to rest on the weekends, I stay fatigued;  it's as though the weight of everything I'm involved in has decided to drop upon my shoulders, and I can't figure out how to shake it off.  Worst and most frustrating of all, motivating myself to do anything productive has become much more of a struggle than it ever should be.  There's a small, whining voice in my head that keeps asking, "Why are you doing this?  What is all of this worth?"
To be completely honest, I don't have a clear, unwavering answer to those questions yet. My parents and I are working together to solve this slump, but I know that it's necessary for me to make major decisions about questions like that in order to really beat this burnout.  I'm confident in my ability to complete everything on my plate (and to complete it well);  although shoveling through it all will not be the most pleasant experience, adversity does build character.  Even more so, difficult times like this teach valuable lessons--experience has always been a notable teacher.

To finish off, I have no sure-fire way to cure burnout, nor do I have a charming anecdote that sums all of my claims and advice into a lovely paragraph.  I just have the reality of the past few months, but I hope that what I've conveyed through this post is enough to prove to you that you are not alone;  if you are experiencing or have experienced a similar frame of mind, please know that you have at least one fellow sympathizer in the world.  Until either one of us finds a solution for our problem, I have a suggestion for you:  stop worrying about your never ending to-do list, make yourself rest, and take extra time to do the things you truly love.  For now, take comfort in this small piece of wisdom (I know I have):
"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." -- C.S. Lewis


Being A Prep For A Week: 10/2/16 -- 10/8/16

Before we delve into this post, let's not ignore a few important topics.  First, it's October. For those of you living in colder parts of the world, that might mean that you've already pulled out thicker layers of clothing and winter boots;  for those of us in the South, this October has signaled a steady decline in the number of hours of daylight and an onslaught of rain caused by Hurricane Matthew (which I hope you're all well and safe from!).  I did spot a leaf on the ground the other day, so that's evidence of nature's remarkable progress.
Second, this is the first time I've published one of these posts in several weeks.  As you can probably guess, that unfortunate turn of events was caused by the utter insanity of the past few weeks of my life.  This past week in particular started off on a rather sour note, but it ended as wonderfully as could be expected.  It just goes to show you, doesn't it?  Thankfully, I'm currently facing a four-day fall break, so you can bet that I'll be using that free time to get back on track.
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
I've found it:  the perfect fashion blog.  Blogger Jenny Cipoletti runs a blog that is the perfect blend of lovely travel shots, everyday musings, and classic, feminine fashion.
If you love classics like Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, you will find this Instagram account thoroughly amusing...
This note that an autistic boy received from one of his teachers concerning his grades is absolutely heartwarming;  it'll put a smile on your face...
Lastly, Jackie, the new biographical film about Jackie Kennedy, just released its first trailer.  Needless to say, it looks like a film worth watching.

So amidst all of the conundrum and the calm in today's world, I've tried to remember just one thing:  "And behold, He is making all things new."

How was your week?


The Best Old Movies on Netflix

In a world that is constantly trying to outdo the inventions of today in order to create the new-and-improved future of tomorrow, it's very easy to forget about the past.  I love modern inventions and culture as much as anyone, but I feel that our society has really missed out on the beauty of old, vintage-era things, especially old movies.  There's something about a black and white (or a saturated Technicolor) screen and a glamorous tale combination that just can't be outdone.  If you haven't ever experienced the magic of watching a classic, fifties-esque film, you're missing out on part of a completely unique, unreal reality.  However, if you have indeed missed out on the old film craze, you're certainly in the right place to jump on the bandwagon.
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Breakfast at Tiffany's:  This movie is a given;  it practically started its own cult after its release.  Audrey Hepburn stars as the glamorous, charming Holly Golightly in a lighthearted romance you won't soon forget.

An Affair to Remember:  Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant have amazing chemistry in this film, and the overall plot is much sweeter than the title might suggest.  The last phrases of dialogue in the movie are enough to put a smile on anyone's face.

Desk Set:  This movie is your chance to experience the wondrous screen personality that is Katharine Hepburn.  The quick wit and dry humor of her character won't disappoint!

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing:  Speaking from personal experience, this film's story gradually grows upon you as the minutes roll by, and when you've finally fallen in love with the romance and intrigue, it's all replaced by tragic musical undertones and images of unopened letters.  It's one to watch if you're feeling in a particularly whimsical and nostalgic mood.

Do Not Disturb:  You've met both Hepburns, but you haven't seen anything until you've met Doris Day.  This film is a delightful comedy that's typical of the fifties era, combining romance, plotting females, and gorgeous outfits.

Three Coins in the Fountain:  If one romance per film just isn't sufficient for your tastes, I've found the perfect picture for you:  this one has three romances that all twine together, and each is as complex (and frustrating) as the last.  Also, if you're a fan of Roman Holiday and/or Italian scenery, you'll enjoy this film.

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison:  Deborah Kerr is virtually unrecognizable in her role as a nun in this film;  it isn't as well-known as some of the others on this list, but its examination of human relationships during hard times (World War II, to be exact) makes it a worthwhile watch.

The Seven Year Itch:  The quintessential image of Marilyn Monroe, white, v-neck dress billowing around her legs, comes directly from this movie.  Likewise, if you want to watch a quintessential Marilyn Monroe feature, this is the film for you.

Cleopatra:  This movie has often been referred to as one of Hollywood's biggest flops; however, don't allow that to keep you from watching the film.  The plot itself is a historical one, as old as time itself, and the cast--well, the cast is out of this world.

To Kill a Mockingbird:  As if the world needed another reason to fall in love with Gregory Peck, here's a film that encompasses one of his most brilliant roles.  His portrayal of Atticus Finch is both heartwarming and unforgettable, as is the rest of the film.

Feeling the urge to jump on the oldies bandwagon yet?  Jokes aside, old movies are some of the best remnants we have of the past:  the true, personable past that is so different from the past we glimpse in the pages of a textbook.  Now all that's left for you to do is sit back, relax, and let the films unfold.

What are some of your favorite old movies?


This Fall's Biggest Shoe Trends

Promptly raise your right hand if you are excited about fall (I can't really tally the count, but I'll just take the liberty of imagining a sea of raised hands)!  As Jordan Baker famously states in The Great Gatsby, "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall".  I think that crisp atmosphere, that anticipation hovering in the air, that knowledge of bright leaves and windy days and cooler temperatures to come, are what makes fall such a beloved time of year.  Of course, we can't forget fall clothing and, more specifically, fall shoes.  Whether you're eagerly embracing the modified cold by staking out boots of every style or you're clinging to summer temperatures by sticking to flats and sandals, fall is the perfect time to transition your footwear.  What better way to do that than to examine some of this season's biggest shoe trends?

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Lace-Up Flat -- Suede Ankle Boot -- Tan Leather Bootie -- Back Strap Rain Boot -- Navy Bean Boots -- Suede Lace-Up Heel

Laces, leather, and suede;  rain boots, short boots, and heels:  these are just a sampling of the shoe trends that are emerging for the autumn.  I personally cannot wait to start regularly wearing ankle boots and flats, and who doesn't love the thought of romping around in a well-structured rain boot or block heel?

Tune back in next week for a post all about autumnal inspiration, but for now, let's enjoy this in-between time of the seasons--it's always the best time of year!

What shoes are you looking forward to wearing this fall?

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Being A Prep For A Week: 9/18/16 -- 9/24/16

Let me get this little tidbit over with:  who else is extremely ecstatic about fall's arrival?  Because, as you might have guessed, I have once again come to the conclusion that fall is the best season, Halloween is one of the best holidays, and hot drinks are infinitely better than cold ones.  Anyone else feeling a similar revelation coming on?
Another hectic week flew by in my world;  it was a strange week, full of very high highs and pretty low lows (thank goodness the good outweighed the bad).  I think the major highlight was being able to intern at a local veterinary office for a couple of days;  if you ever get the chance to have an early glimpse into the field that you're thinking about entering, take it!  That experience has already impacted my thoughts about what I'm going to do "when I grow up," and it's pretty exciting!  The major low was feeling a bit sick and run-down for the later half of the week, but I feel better than ever now knowing that some exciting things are on the horizon!
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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Speaking of fall, this Pinterest board is chock-full with inspiration for decorating, baking, and anything fall-related...
J Crew took its newest fall arrivals to Amsterdam, and the resulting pictures are predictably amazing...
I love the stickers that are currently on my laptop, but some of them are really starting to fade.  I think I'm going to turn to Redbubble for a new collection--how pretty are this quote and this Vespa?
This coat is perfect for fall--it's so versatile, as well!
Lastly, I know I'm not the only one who's excited for the live-action version of Beauty and the Beast to be released--and these behind-the-scenes photos are making me even more excited!

Perhaps my week had a few insane moments (and perhaps yours did too), but whatever the course of our actions, we must always remember the outcome:  "Everything that has a beginning, has an ending.  Make your peace with that and all will be well."

How was your week?


The Liebster Award (Part Three)

I know what you might be thinking:  Tori, haven't you done this sort of thing a few times too many?  Didn't you just write a Q&A post a few weeks ago?  The answer is yes--and no.  The Liebster Award is a special sort of topic that started circulating a few years ago, and it's a way for bloggers to connect with other bloggers, as well as for blogging audiences to learn a bit more about the people behind the computer screens; naturally, when Leah from Cute and Classy nominated me for the award, I jumped at the chance to re-explore all of those opportunities.  So, once again, you're about to learn even more about the prep behind the blog--brace yourself.
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1. What is your go-to coffee order?
I'm a bit of an oddball in that coffee isn't my cup of tea--jokes aside, I've never been overly fond of caffeinated drinks.  On the rare chance that I am drinking coffee, I can guarantee that it will be overly sweetened and have a mound of whipped cream on top of it.

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I'd jump at the chance to live in the countryside of some European province;  I'm pretty partial to the English, Austrian, and Italian rural scenes at the moment.

3. What is your favorite kind of music?
My taste in music is unique, if I do say so myself.  I'll always have a special spot in my heart for show tunes and seventies ballads, but I'll listen to classical music or Taylor Swift jams any day.

4. What was your first job?
Since I turned sixteen only a few months ago, I haven't really had the opportunity or the time to have a legitimate job.  However, I did start this full-time occupation called "school" when I was six, and I've been at it ever since.  In fact, I still have over ten years left of it to complete;  I'm just happy that the vacation times are pretty long and lenient.

5. What color is on your nails right now?
It's a little something I like to call "All-Natural" and offers more evidence of my oddball-ness.  I haven't painted my nails since I was young, and I don't think I'll start painting them anytime soon--too much time and effort!

6. What motivates you?
Just glancing at a checklist is enough to motivate me to do something very concrete and very productive (like homework, writing a blog post, or studying);  I've found that being outside in nature and/ or around hardworking individuals, on the other hand, motivates me to dream big and to focus on more idealistic goals.

7. What is your ideal Friday night?
On a perfect Friday night, I'm relaxing with my family, watching as many old movies as possible, and gearing up for a weekend filled with productivity and checklists.

8. Who inspires you?
Audrey Hepburn (surprise, surprise), my parents and relatives, and successful individuals in general never fail to inspire me.  In my opinion, nothing is more inspiring than a person who has achieved miraculous things by working diligently and staying true to his or her passions.

9. What is your favorite meal to cook and/ or eat?
The range of things I can successfully cook is glaringly small, but I do love eating any type of steak or crab.  Also, I can't pass up any dessert (especially if it contains whipped cream).

10. Where are your favorite places to shop?
Old Navy is my definite favorite place for everyday clothing;  I also love shopping and browsing at stores like J. Crew, Anthropologie, and Target for more miscellaneous pieces.

Now that you've reached the end of that, I'd like to nominate you for a Liebster Award (you certainly deserve one).  You can answer the questions featured in this post, or you can travel over to the ones I mentioned in my Q&A&Q post, or you can create your own.  I can't wait to see your answers!


Being A Prep For A Week: 9/11/16 -- 9/17/16

Let's just say that this week was one for the record books--but not in a particularly good way.
My blogging and social media posting has lapsed a bit over the past week, and I do apologize.  The amount of homework, tests, and extracurricular activities I had to wade through was somewhat stifling and very stressful.  Looking on the bright side, I got to experience some pretty exciting things this week, such as my first chorus concert of the season and the start of clinical rotations for the health science internship I'm completing this year.  Little by little, things are improving, and for now I'll just be cautiously optimistic about the world's state of affairs.
Prep For A Day

Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
I think the sentiment on this graphic tee is very appropriate, considering everything...
Whether you're a student or someone in the workforce, Grammarly looks like a writer's best friend (and, best of all, it's free)...
Did you catch my collaboration with the lovely writers behind The Millenials?
Something about a perfect chair and a perfect wall print really puts one in a decoration mood, right?
If you really enjoy reading blogs, I suggest checking out the Undeniable Life blog (for which I am a proud writer);  we have some very diverse and interesting content on the site at the moment--it will definitely intrigue you!
A post featuring Audrey Hepburn and fall fashion:  I'm sold!

It may not have been the best week I've ever had, but as the saying goes:  "Give thanks in all circumstances."

How was your week?


Staying Classic In a Trendy World

Audrey Hepburn.  Grace Kelly.  Jackie O.  We associate those names with timelessness: these women and their very names evoke a sense of grace, poise, and elegance.  To put it quite frankly, even in a world that evolves and modernizes every day, their styles have never quite gone "out of style."  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all could harness that same confidence and self-assurance through our own clothing choices and personalities?
In fact, that process is easier than you might think.  It has become increasingly difficult for individuals--especially young women--to find styles that both reflect their identities and stay true to the fashions of the modern era.  Most of them aren't sure of the self they want the world to see, so they go along with the fashion trends that they see adorning models and celebrities--but those are called trends for a reason.  To find your own unique style, you have to break away from the trends and embrace what I have termed "the classic rules."
Prep For A Day

1. Only Wear What You Love:  Don't wear that shirt just because you've seen thirteen other girls wearing a similar style.  Don't try on that dress just because you know it's "in style," if you really don't like the dress.  Sticking to what you truly love wearing is the best way to keep your style comfortable and uniquely you.

2. Never Have too Much of a Good Thing:  Trends, I'm talking about you.  We've all seen the women who look as though they've tried to incorporate every single current style trend into one outfit.  While there isn't anything wrong with trying out the trends that you like, there is such a thing as being overly trendy--and that is the very opposite of being classic.

3. If You Have to Ask, Don't Wear It:  As far as modesty goes, just remember that if you feel the need to ask about the appropriateness of a clothing item or outfit, it probably is a bit on the inappropriate side.  The same goes for trying out new style combinations; if you have to ask yourself whether you really feel comfortable wearing something, chances are that you should change things up.

4. Embrace Individuality:  Most importantly, having a classic style ultimately means embracing your own unique tastes and combining them with trends (both old and new) you can envision yourself wearing.  Taking that course of action truly ensures that your fashion sense will never go out of style, as you--a dynamic character in the story of life--will never cease being "in style," being someone who both adapts with the times and remains true to her own values.

Thankfully, it is extremely possible to remain a "Hepburn in a Hilton world."  In fact, finding yourself and what you truly love is one of the easiest tasks of life, relatively speaking--and that's the first step to becoming a classic.

What are your thoughts on remaining classic versus embracing all modern trends?

P.S. This post was a collaboration with a wonderful group of writers from The Millenials, a platform for students from all parts of the world to gather and write about their thoughts and opinions.  It truly is an exceptional community, and I hope that you'll give them a visit.


How to Increase Your Productivity + My Desk Space

If I could remain in a completely productive state for the rest of my life, I would undoubtedly be the happiest type-A overachiever in the entire world--but unfortunately, it's rather impossible to be productive 24/7, especially when one considers nagging little activities like sleeping and eating (just kidding).  I've found that my productivity levels are highly influenced by several variables, and I'll wager a guess that the same can be said for you.  Thankfully, I've discovered some sure-fire ways to boost productivity levels pretty astronomically.  Of course, I wouldn't have a productive bone in my body without a functioning work area, which is why I'm sharing my small slice of productivity heaven with you as well.

Now, that being said, a good work space is rendered completely useless without a good work ethic.  Here are some of my favorite ways to become more productive on a daily basis:

1. Set Up a Schedule:  The best way to avoid the procrastination trap is to parcel out a specific amount of time for productivity in your schedule.  Want to get some things accomplished on Saturday morning from seven to eight?  Write it down, and get those things accomplished.

2. Have Water Readily Available:  I'm pretty horrible about drinking enough water during the day, and I've had to learn from experience that dehydration and productivity do not mix.  Making sure that you have a bottle of water near your work space is a key step in establishing productiveness.

3. Turn the Phone Off:  The vast majority of us are somewhat attached to our cellular devices, and while they can be extremely helpful at times, they are also an ultimate source of distraction.  To ensure that it doesn't divert your attention for too long, just turn your cell phone completely off until you've finished working.

4. Organize as You Work:  A cluttered work area can signal a cluttered mind;  as I've learned from experience, cluttered minds and productivity don't mix very well together, either.  Try to clean and organize your work space as you go along in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

5. Have Set Goals in Mind:  My best tip about being more productive is to have a definite list in mind of everything that you want to accomplish--even better, to write everything out on paper.  It's a great way to organize your thoughts and to keep track of what you've done.

Now that you have some inspiration about productivity and planning, here's a piece of advice:  "The best way to get things done is to simply begin."  So, what are you waiting for?

How do you stay productive?


Being A Prep For A Week: 8/28/16 -- 9/3/16

Two college fairs in a row.  One leadership event.  One hulking, terrifying AP Chemistry test.  One other (not quite as) terrifying AP Statistics test.  Two club meetings.  One packet of choral music.  One essay.  Two veterinary science textbooks. Add all of that in to the fact that it's officially September, and you have a wonderful overview of this past week's schedule in my chaotic little corner of the world.  They weren't kidding when they said that junior year was a tad bit stressful, were they?  I can assure you that I (along with everyone else) am looking forward to the three-day weekend that lies before us!
Prep For A Day

Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Maddie Ziegler's official clothing line just launched!  I remember watching her as a young dancer on Dance Moms, and now she's practically a full-fledged celebrity!
I'm thinking about finally leasing the Lightroom photo-editing software for my computer--but I've heard that the learning curve for the system can be pretty steep.  If you have any experience with and/ or tips about it, I'd love to hear them!
This post really has me missing the Hawaiian islands (although I'd hate to be stuck in that hurricane)...
If I ever considered having children, this is what I'd want my maternity shoot to look like...
J Crew's new arrivals have been especially lovely lately;  my personal favorites are this ruffled top (under sixty dollars), this navy wool cape, and this pair of lace-up heels...

So, in light of this glorious three-day weekend, I'll leave you with just one little thought: "Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be."

How was your week?


August Faves

The month of August has always exemplified one specific image to me:  a door closing, and another door opening.  It's both an end to something that most of us dearly love (I'm talking about you, summer) and the start of something that students and non-students alike have pretty mixed feelings about.  Usually the thought of August makes me a little anxious, and when it finally arrives it can be somewhat overwhelming--but this August seemed very different.  For the first time in a long time, I hit the ground running during those first few weeks of this month;  although I'm pretty tired and pretty busy, I couldn't feel happier.  This August was the best I've had in several years, so picking my favorites from this month was an absolute delight, to say the least.

Prep For A Day

1. My Agenda:  I can wholeheartedly say that I would be a disaster without my agenda. Each day has several blank lines allotted to it (even Saturday and Sunday!), which is a huge bonus for any busy student with a pretty involved daily schedule.  Practicality aside, this planner is about aesthetically pleasing as a planner can be--cue the blush pink and the gold accents, please!

2. The Great Gatsby:  If you're a junior or a senior in high school, you might be sick of this novel and its characters, but I'm actually starting to appreciate the story a little more now that I've had a chance to discuss it in my English class.  And if you haven't read this American classic, take this as the perfect opportunity to go pick it up (or at least watch Leonardo DiCaprio in his famous rendition of Jay Gatsby).

3. Vital Source Bookshelf App:  Because one of the classes I'm taking is online, and it also requires an e-textbook, I've had to think of creative ways to "carry" my class materials with me.  This app is a handy tool for accessing any types of scholastic books and journals that you may need in any of your classes, all from the screen of your phone or tablet.

4. Steve Madden "Donddi" Sandals:  Last but certainly not least, these classic sandals have quickly become a staple in my wardrobe.  They not only can be paired with anything but also come in several lovely colors.  Best of all, they're only sixty dollars! 

August:  it's the "Sunday of summer," the end to long summer days and nights.  But it's also the beginning to so much more--and I hope that you are just as excited as I am for what lies ahead!

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

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Being A Prep For A Week: 8/21/16 -- 8/27/16

I'm back, back, back again (and better than ever)!  Things on the blog have a been a bit slower recently, but as I transition into a new daily grind, my posting schedule will become less irregular.
In terms of my junior year, I think things are going pretty well--better than expected, even.  I've started putting my agenda to good use, and several exciting opportunities have already presented themselves.  During the upcoming week I'll begin to experience actual AP-level assessments and classwork in all of my classes, so fingers crossed that everything will go well!
Prep For A Day

Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
A post featuring some of the most wonderful tips for high school sophomores (or any students, really)...
I cannot stop jamming out to this song--it's an oldie, but it's a goodie.
I've found the most beautiful, wanderlust-fulfilling Instagram account ever--and to top it all off, food is included!
My parents just started the Keto Diet (and so have I, to a certain extent);  it's actually one of the most interesting diets out there.  I thought this article did a great job of explaining exactly how it works.
Did you catch my Q&A&Q post (featuring questions for you!) or my post about graphic tees?
Who else is excited to wear things like this as the seasons change?

As exciting things begin popping up in the world, it's important to remember one thing: "Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress.  Working hard for something we love is called passion."

How was your week?


A Miscellaneous Q&A&Q

As the lyrics of that famous musical ballad (bonus points if you know which one) propose, today I'm "getting to hope you like me" and my responses to a few miscellaneous questions.  Several days ago, I asked you to ask me questions on my Instagram in the hopes of answering any burning inquiries you may have had about me, myself, and I--but this post isn't just about me.  One of the best parts about the blogging world is being able to form instant connections with people of many different backgrounds and opinions--and I'd love to know about yours.  Keep reading to discover a set of questions that I have for you!
Prep For A Day

1. How do you grow your blog and Instagram?
Three words:  consistency is key.  If you want a viable chance of having a larger audience and following, you have to put in the extra time and effort to produce posts persistently.  You certainly don't have to post on your blog or social media daily, but try to avoid huge lapses between posts so your readers are more likely to feel engaged by your content.

2. How do you come up with blog topics?  Do you have certain posts reserved for the blog only and Instagram only, or do you like to integrate them together?
My inspiration for blog posts almost always comes from other bloggers or experiences in my own life;  once I have a vague idea of what I want to write about, I begin sorting my ideas into organized topics that I can feature on the blog.  As for the differences between my blog and Instagram posts, I try to have a visible connection between what I post on this website and what I share on social media, especially the photos I share on Instagram. However, I also try to keep my Instagram posts a bit more lighthearted and informal (they are just snapshots, after all) while I tend to save more serious topics for the blog.

3. What are you currently reading?
An even better question would be, "What am I not reading?"  Jokes aside, I have stacks of books that are just itching to be read--for now, I'm working on Sisi:  Empress On Her Own, Proof of Heaven, Miracles, Pet Sematary an AP Chemistry exam prep guide, a statistics textbook...

4. What are some destinations that you'd like to visit?
If I could go anywhere in Europe, I would consider my wanderlust fulfilled.  I'd love to explore all of Italy, England, and France, as well as parts of Ireland and Scotland, the Mykonos area of Greece, and parts of Austria and Hungary.  I've always thought that visiting Thailand would be an amazing experience as well.  Honestly, if you handed me a plane ticket to an international destination, I'd probably take it, simply to experience a new culture and learn about its history.

5. What is on your bucket list?
I haven't ever written out a hard copy of a bucket list, but here are few things that I've always dreamed about doing:
a. Visiting Audrey Hepburn's home in Switzerland
b. Singing at the Palais Garnier in France
c. Becoming fluent in at least three different languages
d. Visiting and studying at the first veterinary school ever founded
e. Owning a home that has an enormous library and a dedicated wall gallery in every room

6. What are some of your favorite quotes?
I featured several of my all-time favorites in a post from June;  however, I think it's pretty safe to say that I find new quotes that I love nearly every single day.  A few of my recent favorites are:  "Nothing can seem extraordinary until you have discovered the ordinary.";  "Falling in love with God is such a beautiful thing.";  and, "Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible."

7. What is your dream job?
Practically ever since I discovered what an animal was, I've wanted to become a veterinarian.  Even as I've grown older, I've never really felt myself drifting towards any other profession.  Ideally, I would be helping both humans and animals on a daily basis during my dream job--perhaps even making some groundbreaking discoveries about different zooneses or the links between animal and human diseases.

8. What is your favorite movie? 
Once again, it's pretty impossible for me to settle on just one movie (selecting a college should be a breeze), but a few of my favorite films are SabrinaPygmalion, Little Women (starring Katharine Hepburn), Jane Eyre (the 1983 and 2004 versions are the best), Anastasia (starring Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner), and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.  As you can see, I'm pretty predictable:  if it's a romantic movie and it was made before 1970, I'll love it.

Now it's your turn!  Here's your own Q&A for perusal (and I'd love to see your answers in the comments):
1. What is your favorite season and why?
2. Where do you envision yourself in ten years?
3. What are you extremely passionate about?

Thank you to everyone who submitted a question, and thank you, lovely reader, for allowing me to share a slice of my world with you.


Graphic Tees Galore

If someone had told my fourteen-year-old self that my future self would love wearing graphic tees, my former self would have laughed incredulously.  Needless to say, my perception on that article of clothing has changed quite a bit, especially since I've discovered the arts of typography, minimalism, and sarcasm.  In all seriousness, a graphic t-shirt is the ideal cross between an athletic tee and a nicer shirt, with a bit of fun and whimsy thrown in; it's practically perfect in every way.

Prep For A Day
"Lips & Lashes" Tee -- "Je Ne Sais Quoi" Tee -- "Talk the Talk" Tee -- "Seas the Day" Tee

Trust me when I say that there is a graphic tee out there for everyone.  Whether you peruse Nordstrom or Forever 21 or even Society6 (the mecca of graphic design), you'll find a graphic tee that's perfect for you and your style.  And if you need a jump-start, I've linked several tees down below--happy shopping!

Shop the post (and other favorites):

What is your opinion about graphic tees?


Being A Prep For A Week: 8/7/16 -- 8/13/16

Well, I can officially say that this past week was the "last first week" of my junior year of high school;  it isn't a huge milestone, but it's a checkpoint nonetheless.  Meanwhile, seniors everywhere are tackling the Common Application and college freshmen are tackling move-in day.  It's a bit intimidating to think that I'll be in their positions in several months or so--but I have to make it through junior year first, and that's simultaneously daunting and comforting.  However, I don't think I'll have any problem making it through another year because I'm already enjoying my classes immensely (and I actually know where all of them are located).  If this week is any indication, I think this year is going to be surprisingly good.
Prep For A Day

Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
An interesting read about the best hotel in the world (it's being added to my bucket list)...
I couldn't resist getting this infamous mug when I popped into my nearest Francesca's (and I may or may not have seriously considered getting this graphic tee)...
Who wants to make tiramisu cupcakes with me?
Shelby Revis's Tumblr page has become my absolute favorite place...
If you have never heard of the educational app Duolingo, take this as an opportunity to check it out via its Twitter page (which, I must admit, is rather impressive)!
Did you see my latest post about the ideal back to school outfit?  It's the first outfit post I've done in a very long time, but it certainly won't be the last!

So the world is quickly transitioning from the dog days of summer to the hustle and bustle of the school year, and as my AP Chemistry teacher says, "It's terrifying at first, but by the end of everything, you'll have learned so much more than you could've ever realized."

How was your week?


Outfit: Back to School

When the first day of school rolls around every year, I find myself back in an age-old conundrum:  deciding what to wear.  After ten years of asking myself the same monotonous outfit questions ("pants or skirt?", "sandals or flats?", "gray or not gray?"), I've finally pegged an outfit that fits nearly every climate, dress code, and style preference.  Best of all, it's a comfortable ensemble, and comfort is always a top priority on the first day back to class. What could be better than style paired with comfort?

Pineapple Tee (old, similar) -- Jeans -- Sandals -- Agenda

Picking out the ideal "first day outfit" isn't as daunting as you think, after all.  Like everything good in life, it's just a happy medium.

What are you wearing for your first day back to school?

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