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.

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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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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Image Via

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

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).

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).

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...

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

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

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?

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...

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.

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...

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 appreciate modern inventions and culture as much as anyone, but I also 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.

THE BEST FALL SHOES

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

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...

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.

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.

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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)...

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."


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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.

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.

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!

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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!

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.

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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).

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!

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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.

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!

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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.

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.

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

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.

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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)...

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?

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 7/31/16 -- 8/6/2016

Welcome back to my little corner of the web, where it's t-minus four days until I start my junior year of high school.  Am I stressed out?  Somewhat.  Am I excited?  Also, somewhat.

Because I am one of my school's Ambassadors, I was actually at my campus for the past three days to assist with schedule pick-ups and freshman orientation, so I don't feel totally estranged from the building.  Everything has slowly fallen into place, and I hope to share more of my junior year experiences here on the blog--but let's not count our chickens before they hatch...

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
This blogger's office space is quite possibly one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen...
After weeks of deliberation, I finally found the perfect white sandal (sorry for the suspense, Mom)...

FOUR LOVELY TRAVEL BLOGGERS

Sometimes I come down with a mysterious affliction--it comes on suddenly, and it consumes everything I do for every waking moment.  Some call it the "travel bug";  I prefer the term "wanderlust."  I think that everyone, at some undefined point in his or her life, thinks about traveling to a completely new place and seeing completely new things, and I am no exception.

The only problem with daydreaming about traveling is just that:  it's a mere daydream, not a tangible reality.  Most of us can't just hop onto a plane and fly to Paris whenever we so desire (even if Paris is always a good idea) because it just isn't feasible.  So, how do we get rid of that meddlesome malady called wanderlust?  We live vicariously through others' adventures, of course!  And the best place to start is on the website of a seasoned travel blogger.

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JULY FAVES

It's hard to believe that when I start writing the next post in this series, I will have been in school for nearly a month.  Summer flew by--no, it practically hurtled by.  It's sad to see the bright colors of summer change to the faded hues of fall, but you know the old saying:  "A life that goes on changing goes on living."

I, for once in my life, am somewhat looking forward to the changes that this year should bring, but while summer is still lingering behind, I'll take the opportunity to share a few favorite things of mine from the month of July.

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1. Calligraphy:  It's no secret that I've always loved calligraphy, but until I purchased a calligraphy pen of my own, I only knew that I loved looking at it.  Now I'm absolutely positive that I love crafting the letters and learning about different fonts as well;  to make a long story short, if you want to pursue an activity that will allow you to embrace your creativity, give calligraphy a try (this book is a good place to start)!

2. My Clarisonic:  If you've never heard of these skincare facial brushes, you need to peruse them.  They are extremely helpful tools--my pores have never felt cleaner.  The brush heads can also be swapped out in order to cater to different skin types, which is a wonderful option for remedying acne and other skin problems.

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 7/24/16 -- 7/30/16

Can you believe that we're about to enter the last week of July?  As you may have noticed, school supply shopping is in session and the college application process has already begun for a lucky number of students.  I myself have been working on a lovely Spanish II class for several hours everyday (I don't think I'm ready to go on that trip to Spain yet) as well as re-reading The Great Gatsby.

As Jordan Baker famously says, "Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."  I suppose life does a similar one-eighty in the last week of July!

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
This post highlighted so many of the frustrations that I have with blogging--yet it also proved many of the reasons why I continue to pursue it, and why I love it enough to do so...
Seriously considering using this planner for the new year:  gingham, typography, and quotes?  It's a deal!

SCHOOL SUPPLIES INSPIRATION

It's that time of year...when the world's children start scrambling frantically in order to get themselves prepared for a new school year.  Honestly, preparing for junior year has metaphorically hit me like a truck, so that's why I haven't been very active on any blogging platforms lately.

Anyways, one thing I've always liked about going back to school is shopping for school supplies--there's something so very satisfying about crossing every item off of a list:  a literal representation of organization and preparedness. However, it isn't very fun if you can't find what you're looking for or if the only things you can find are, shall we say, not your style.  Of course, that's where I come in.

Backpacks
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Navy and Gold Backpack -- Purple Transit Backpack -- Mint and Gray Backpack
-- Navy and White Stripe Backpack

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 7/17/16 -- 7/23/16

Another week has passed by, meaning that summer is only a couple weeks short of ending, and my junior year is only beginning--and I still haven't finished that English essay (at least I plowed through the chemistry).

Now all that's left is school supply shopping, which is actually simultaneously one of my favorite and least favorite activities in the world.  I'm curious:  if you're still a school-goer, when are you going back (or are you back already)?  If the date's August 10, we'll have something in common!

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
If you're a high school student who's thinking about a career in any sort of science and/ or math field (and you really want your name to be visible to colleges), you should check out STEM Premier!
The ultimate American dream home, according to Pinterest--I must say, they nailed the kitchen...

TEN THINGS I'VE LEARNED FROM BLOGGING

When I started a blog almost two years ago, I had absolutely no inkling as to what I was getting myself into.  Blogging seemed pretty simple from my reader standpoint--but I couldn't have been more wrong. Now that I'm somewhat a seasoned blogger, I feel more confident about sharing some of the valuable lessons that have presented themselves throughout my experience with this website.

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1. Instant success rarely happens.
Not much time passed before I as an amateur blogger realized that I wasn't going to develop a steady audience overnight.  I wasn't going to gain one thousand Instagram followers in one month.  I wasn't going to become an online sensation in a matter of minutes--but really, does anyone?

2. Quality trumps quantity.
I have always admired bloggers who turn out new content several times a week, especially those who are full-time students like myself.  While it is feasible for them to post so frequently, I simply don't have the time to write that many multi-paragraph posts;  so, rather than trying to throw together several watered-down versions of what I'd truly like to publish, I've been learning to take the extra time to write a lesser amount of more meaningful articles.

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 7/10/16 -- 7/16/16

Another week has passed by!  Why is it that when I was younger, summer seemed to last an eternity, but now it seems like it lasts for only a few fleeting weeks?  Getting older really isn't all it's cracked up to be.

It was a pretty uneventful week, but I tried to squeeze in some shopping and family time in between the studying and the camera lessons.  Also, I'd been reading books galore in order to prepare for that whopping reading list I posted a few days ago.  A student's summer at its finest, am I right?

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Just purchased these espadrille wedges (under thirty dollars!) and I'm already in love with them...
I've found what may be the most relaxing, beautiful account on Instagram: @calligraphyvideos...

TWENTY SUMMER READS

Nothing could be better than curling up with a good book on a lazy summer day.  After all, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends."  There's only one problem: with so many books to choose from, how does one make a good choice?  Never fear; that's why I'm here.

I've rounded up twenty of the best summer reads, from every type of fiction to heartwarming memoirs to helpful guides.  All that's left for you to do is grab a chair and a pair of reading glasses--so read on!

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Outliers:  In what I consider to be one of the most fascinating books ever written, Malcolm Gladwell affably debunks the myths that surround the "outliers" in society:  the geniuses, the professional athletes, the billionaires.  From hockey players to technology superstars, this novel really has a topic for everyone.

When Breath Becomes Air:  The brilliant memoir of a neurosurgeon-turned-cancer-patient, this novel gives rise to many of the questions that linger on the surface of humanity:  How does one go on existing, even in the face of death?  What makes a life worth living?  The book is truly unforgettable.

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 7/3/16 -- 7/9/16

The first week of July is slowly fading into the past--sadly, that means summer vacation is coming to a close.  I've been especially reminded of this fact during the past week that was rife with chorus camps and class ring reveals.  However, I'm going to try to enjoy the weeks of summer that I have left while I still have them--wish me luck!

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Jenna Lyons's favorite pieces from the new J Crew collection--those off-the-shoulder pieces are calling my name...
A blog post that pretty accurately sums up fifteen of the most frustrating situations for bloggers everywhere...

THE BEST ATHLETIC SHOE BRANDS

The summer weather provides an easily missed opportunity for exercising and training; I say that the opportunity is "easily missed" because, based upon personal experience, the last thing that many of us want to do is go outside and do physical activities.  However, I've been somewhat forced to participate in physical activities recently, and it's amazing how much a few minutes' worth of exercising can improve your overall mood.

No physical activity is complete without the right equipment--that isn't limited to specialty pieces like treadmills or weights, either.  If you want to exercise, you need to find the right pair of shoes.

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1. New Balance:  Light, flexible, and stylish, the shoes made by New Balance are perfect for runners and sports players alike.  The newest women's shoe line incorporates lovely color combinations with super lightweight footwear (my pair seems lighter than clouds);  plus, this brand stresses the fact that its are products made here in America. What could be better than that?

2. Asics:  If you want a shoe that's fit for professional athletes, this is the brand for you to shop.  The name ASICS is actually derived from an acronym that translates to "a sound mind in a sound body" and was trademarked by the company's original founder.  These shoes are some of the most comfortable ones on the market, which explains why even Olympic athletes are training in them.

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 6/26/16 -- 7/2/16

Who can believe that Independence Day is only a couple of days away?  This summer really has flown by!

This week was another lovely (and somewhat productive) stream of days, capped off with a visit to my aunt, uncle, and a couple of their friends in Birmingham;  it was absolutely wonderful to see them again. As this weekend rolls around, I'm wishing for other parts of the world to experience a similarly hopeful stream of days (they need them infinitely more than I do).

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Calling all bloggers and businesses:  Instagram will be implementing new business profiles that allow followers to "directly connect" with account owners, among other things.  Who's thinking about getting one?
A dual profile of the hippest neighborhoods in Rome--now all I need is a passport and a plane ticket...

JUNE FAVES

As far as months go, June is one of my absolute favorites.  My birthday, Father's Day, and the first weeks of summer vacation wrapped into one month:  it's a surefire winner.

Although this past month didn't exactly pan out the way I was envisioning (nothing in life ever really does), it was still an experience worth remembering:  full of lessons, obstacles, happy days, and wonderful people and things.  Now I'm here to wrap up a handful of those wonderful things that I couldn't have lived without during the past thirty days--without further ado...

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1. My Camera:  Without a doubt, my Nikon D3300 has been one of the best gifts I've ever received.  I'm still very much a beginner photographer, but everyday I make just a bit more progress towards being fully confident with handling all of the various settings and controls.  I may even be able to switch over to "manual" mode before the end of the summer!

2. Chacos:  Never has a better casual outdoors shoe been manufactured.  Although these shoes aren't meant for everyone (or every occasion), they are wonderful for balmy summer days spent outside.

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 6/19/16 -- 6/25/16

If I had three words to describe this week, they would be as follows:  nerve-wracking, relieving, and exciting.  That's quite a bunch to fit into one week.

For anyone who remembers reading about my driver's ed fiascoes, I have an ending to complete the story:  I passed!  You have no idea how relieved I was when my instructor handed me that certificate. I've definitely learned a good deal about procrastination from that event.

Later in the week, I drove around a bit, worked on a few school assignments, and even went to work with my dad (meeting his coworkers--now that was exciting).  I topped everything off by seeing a movie with my family yesterday--nothing could have been a better ending to a pretty great week.

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Two of my favorite posts I've ever written were recently published on The Undeniable Life.  If you're a fan of Kate Middleton or classic books, you should give them a look!
These gorgeous photos of Santorini have convinced me to put Greece on my ultimate bucket list...

THE BENEFITS OF DOING NOTHING

The act of "doing nothing" has a pretty negative connotation in everyday conversations. It's pretty easy to see why: with all of the high-achievers and motivators being praised as model adults and the Netflix-obsessed "stereotypical" teens being subtly jabbed at by society, it's no wonder that many people cannot stand the idea of not doing anything for a set amount of time.

I'm definitely one of those type-A overachieving students who basically schedules out her days to the minute (as seen here), so I completely understand. However, I've started to realize something this summer: doing nothing is not always a bad idea.

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In my personal experience and through a bit of research, I've found a few practical reasons why setting aside downtime can actually be beneficial, so if you think it's high time for you to take a break, read on.

1. To Relieve Stress: This is perhaps one of the greatest aspects of downtime that I've experienced. For some reason unbeknownst to me, stepping back from a slew of tasks allows me to forget all of the stress that accompanied them. To sum it up: if you're feeling stressed, try to allow yourself some time to take a break from whatever is causing the stress.

2. To Give Your Brain a Break: According to researchers, doing nothing actually allows the brain to recuperate and, in a sense, recharge. Taking a break shifts the brain's focus off of a few time-consuming tasks to many miscellaneous ideas; this shift does wonders for your mind's overall health and energy levels.

TEN LESSONS FROM MY FATHER

I'm back, back, back again with a treasure trove of wisdom, courtesy of an important person in my life. You read about my mom's no-nonsense teachings, and in honor of Father's Day, you're about to experience my dad's side of the story.

My dad has this uncanny talent for making me laugh even when I'm terribly upset;  in fact, he has that effect on nearly everyone he meets.  He excels at making the people around him more at ease, and that's a skill that all of us could learn.  Read on to discover more of my dad's practical and comical advice.

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Lesson One:  It's okay (even when it doesn't seem like it).
Whenever I am extremely upset or frustrated about something, my dad is the first to say those three words:  "It is okay."  In the heat of the moment I tend to disagree with him, but looking back, he is always right about putting things into perspective.  Don't let yourself be completely pessimistic concerning the outcome of any situation, even if it looks bleak.

Lesson Two:  Take your time, and don't rush through things.
Honestly, if you have to do some sort of task, it is much better to give yourself the time to do it well rather than rush through it and face the consequences of a shabby job.

SIXTEEN QUOTES THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

It's not every day that a girl turns sixteen, but nonetheless June 15 was my sixteenth birthday.  To celebrate my ascension into this new phase of my teenage years (and the fact that I can finally sing "Sixteen Going On Seventeen" from The Sound of Music), I've rounded up a few of the words and sayings that have truly impacted me over the course of my short life.

They have challenged my ideas, fueled my passions, and even given me hope when I didn't think life had any to spare.  I have no doubt that the quotes can speak for themselves, so without further ado, let's begin.

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For dreaming and doing:
"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

"Dream no small dreams, for they have no power to move the hearts of men." -- Goethe

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 6/5/16 -- 6/11/16

I know I'm a day late on my weekly update post, but I was rather preoccupied with the ACT yesterday morning (and afternoon);  standardized tests and blogging just do not mix, unfortunately.

In my sphere of the universe, the days have been bright and productive, the hydrangeas have been blooming marvelously, and the corgis have been even more energetic than usual.  In short, it's been a lovely week, and I hope the following week is even lovelier on account of my birthday looming on the horizon!

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
This post sums of the beauty of the Italian coasts of Positano just incredibly!
A quirky pair of espadrilles is a perfect summer staple, right?

A HAPPY BALANCE

Contrary to popular belief, this post will not be discussing diets or various lifestyles--if it were, we'd all be in serious trouble.

Today I'm writing about a concept that I love, along with another concept that my fellow blogger, Gabby, loves.  The two are directly related and, if properly balanced, result in a happy and fulfilling life.  To cut to the point, today's topics are idealistic dreaming and happy living, ideals that most of us fantasize about and cherish. However, it's essential that we establish a healthy medium between the pair in order to really achieve happiness.

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Allow me to elaborate.  Last summer, I promptly decided that I would spend my days being completely productive:  studying up on various subjects, researching colleges, and improving my blog content.  I practically scheduled out every day to the minute, positive that all of that productivity would lead to tremendous things.  I had distinct goals in mind:  completely redesign the blog, gather together everything I could possibly need for college application time, be rather close to scoring perfectly on the ACT (among other things).

SUMMER INSPIRATION

Something about summertime gets all of the human population into a frenzy;  for example, in some European countries nearly everyone takes a month-long break from jobs and other responsibilities to embrace summer's sunshine.  I can't exactly blame them because I, along with several other bloggers, have been just as excited about the season's arrival.

We're all linking together summer-related posts in order to honor the sunny days ahead;  I opted for sharing a few of my favorite summer-related items (I'm already envisioning days spent by the pool).

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High-Neck Swimsuit -- Pineapple Float -- Playing Cards -- White Drop Earrings -- Lace-Up Espadrilles -- Swim Tunic

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 5/29/16 -- 6/4/16

I feel like a horrible blogger for saying this, but I feel obligated to say it nonetheless:  life has quickly overrun my plans for becoming a blogger extraordinaire, and it has done so in the form of two tiny words:  driver's education.

Everyday from the morning hours to the late afternoon, my head has been jammed with car facts, driving techniques, and boating details.  As soon as I've escaped that world of gory wreck documentaries and nightmarish simulators, I've headed home to hop behind the wheel and accumulate more driving experience.

Long story short, this blogger hasn't had any time to devote to blogging (or much of anything, if I'm being honest). To conclude, my blogging may continue to be a bit sporadic throughout the month of June, but I'm working on establishing a set schedule;  I won't abandon you without a word!

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
If I didn't already own a wonderful planner, I would probably be deciding which of Lilly Pulitzer's new agendas to purchase...
Are you thinking about studying abroad in the near future?  Check out this list of unique study abroad destinations (I'm definitely considering Budapest and Zagreb)!

BEING A PREP FOR A WEEK: 5/22/16 -- 5/28/16

To say I'm happy about being on summer vacation is a huge understatement.

This was one of those weeks where I refused to do anything productive, but for the first time, that course of action didn't cause a superfluous amount of stress to fall onto my shoulders.  Vastly decreasing one's productivity levels usually isn't a good idea, but when you're in dire need of some rest, I've found that it's quite relaxing.  Of course, now that my week of rest is over with, I've got to proceed back to the drawing board--stay tuned for (semi) groundbreaking ideas!

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
Use social media to grow your email list by using some of Melyssa's foolhardy tips!
Nine beautiful street facades from around the world...

SOPHOMORE LESSONS

After I completed my freshman year of high school, I decided to reflect upon some of the lessons I learned that year via blog post format.  Now that my sophomore year has come to an end, what better way to remember the past year than to continue on with that tradition?

I've heard mixed reviews about sophomore year from other sources, and now that I've been a sophomore, I think I understand why.  If you have yet to start your sophomore year, I have one important tidbit for you to digest:  this year is a year of change.

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1. Your "friend group" from freshman year may be subject to change.
With a new year comes a new class schedule, so it's likely that you may not be in many classes with the people who frequented your schedule freshman year.  Don't worry;  you will find other friends, and you might even reunite with friends from past years.

2. The homework load may begin to increase, so it would behoove you to really learn how to prioritize your schedule.
Personally, I had somewhat of a struggle with the average amount of homework I had to complete during sophomore year.  Even if this homework increase doesn't occur in your classes, it's never too early to learn how to schedule your assignments along with other events that fill up your afternoons.