Health & Fitness

The Start of My Fitness Journey

Hello everyone!  If you’ve kept up with my blog, you know that I recently graduated and am now moving into the fascinating world of adulthood.  With this transition, I decided it was extremely important for me to start treating my body better than I have been.

Over the past two years, I have gained about 45 pounds, which is crazy to think about!  More than that, however, I feel as though I have let myself go in a lot of ways health wise, which is what the true focus of this journey is going to be on.  Not only have I gained a lot of weight, I’ve been eating incredibly poorly and not giving my body the nutrients it needs, and my mental health has been in a constant state of highs and lows.

I want to be clear when I say this: I am not trying to shame myself or make anyone else feel bad about if they are larger or smaller than I am.  I have been wanting to focus on my health for a very long time, and this was the best way to hold myself accountable while encouraging others who may be considering trying to become healthier.

With that in mind, I have taken my measurements (weight and inches) so I can track my progress and see that I am making changes, even if I don’t feel like it some days.  Once again, numbers are only numbers, and it’s more important to me to be happy with myself in my body and not to be at a certain weight or inch.

Starting Measurements May 24 '18

The resolutions I am going to be working towards below are not meant to be goals, as they are too vague for that. Rather, they are promises I am making to myself as a way to promote healthy living in my life.

My Resolutions:

1. I resolve to cook for myself more often.

2. I resolve to make healthier choices in terms of eating.

3. I resolve to drink enough water to keep my body hydrated.

4. I resolve to make my body stronger through working out.

5. I resolve to love the way I look, even if it’s not my current ideal.

6. I resolve to not forget that my mental health is just as important as my physical health.

I plan to make these resolutions look really pretty and then print them out, so I can always see them and have them with me.  It’s a great way for me to remember that I made this promise to myself that I will be taking care of me!

I may end up creating goals based on my resolutions, just so I can be held a little more accountable.  I thrive with goals, so I really enjoy setting them and seeing how close I get or if I accomplish them.

Well, that’s going to be it for me today!  I’m proud of being comfortable enough to share this information, especially because as I’d mentioned, this is the largest I’ve ever been.  Please join me if you’re interested in shifting your health focus, or just cheer me on!

How do you take care of yourself?

The Start of My Fitness Journey

Books

5 BookTubers I Watch

In the spirit of combining my love of reading and watching YouTube videos, I wanted to share with you all my favorite BookTubers to watch!

BookTube is the affectionate name for the corner of YouTube that houses people who talk about books. This may include wrap-ups (similar to my own blog post!), reviews, hauls, TBRs, tags, and more!  Anything that has to do with reading and books is considered a part of BookTube.

The list today is the five BookTubers that I felt had either content that interested me or a great personality!  Each of them are a little bit different, so hopefully if you’re looking to get into BookTube, one of these five will catch your attention.

ChapterStackss

ChapterStackss

ChapterStackss does a lot of book reviews as well as lifestyle videos.  She reads mostly horror, mystery, and thriller type novels, which is pretty unique for BookTubers!

LittleBookOwl

Little Book Owl

LittleBookOwl does lots of vlogs, tags, and book reviews.  She seems to read a lot of YA, with a mix of popular new books as well.

MercysBookishMusings

MercysBookishMusings

MercysBookishMusings has a lot of currently reading and book reviews.  She reads a lot of adult fiction.  My personal favorite thing about her is her amazing accent!

PeruseProject

PeruseProject

PeruseProject is a channel that does a ton of different videos, including TBRs, wrap-ups, hauls, and lifestyle videos as well.  Most often, the books she reads are middle grade and young adult fantasy.

RinceyReads

Rincey Reads

RinceyReads is a channel that posts mostly reading wrap-ups and book reviews, and reads an even mix of adult fiction and nonfiction.

I haven’t jumped too far into BookTube yet, but I have found that these 5 ladies are really great at providing me with a mix of content that is interesting to watch and usually gives me good book recommendations!

Do you watch any videos about books on YouTube?

5 BookTubers

Beauty & Fashion

How To: Decorate Your Mortarboard (Grad Cap!)

If you’ve been following my blog, you would probably have seen that I graduated and shared my experience last week!

One thing that I wish I had before graduating was a guide on how to make my cap look amazing!  I asked a lot of questions that couldn’t really be answered by anyone around me, which is why I thought this would be a really helpful post to have. Even if you’re not in love with my cap, the steps and advice are all things I learned on my wild journey of making it!

This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you make a purchase through one of my links I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

First: find your inspiration. Pinterest is an amazing tool to utilize when it comes to finding a cute cap!  If you search grad caps you’ll see tons of pictures with all sorts of styles. I’d suggest doing this a month in advance to give yourself plenty of time to plan decorations.  The pictures below ended up being the inspiration for my cap!

Plan ahead. I know this seems obvious, but when you’re preparing to graduate it is so easy to push off planning your cap.  Think of what you need right away so you have time to buy everything roughly two weeks in advance.  If you can’t find all of your supplies, go to another store or possibly order off of Amazon!  There are tons of options if you’re quick enough.

Now that you have your pre-planning completed, it’s time to actually start making your cap!

Making the Cap:

Step 1: Lay down your base.

This is an optional step if your design calls for it!  The really cool thing is you don’t have to paint the base if you don’t want to, either.  I actually used scrapbook paper purchased from Walmart!  It was $5 for this pack.  I had wanted a solid light pink, but couldn’t find the right shade, which sucked, but this paper would be really cool to use for its original purpose so I wasn’t too upset.

I believe caps are 10″x10″, so you can’t use regular sized letter paper, unfortunately.  However, it’s super easy to cut the square out; just flip the paper onto the back side and trace the hat with any writing utensil before cutting it out.

The hole to cut for the tassel holder is a bit tricky, but if you’re putting something over the top of your paper, you can just poke through the center with scissors and cut a rough circle a little bigger than the nub.  As you can see, mine doesn’t look so pretty right now and that’s okay!

I would suggest using this spray adhesive, which worked amazingly! So well, in fact, that I couldn’t quite align the paper because it was completely stuck as soon as it touched, so be careful when lining it up!  Spray the cap, then spray the paper, and wait for about 15 seconds. The glue will be super tacky and create a permanent bond, so you won’t have to worry about it peeling off right away!

Step 1

Step 2: Get your parts ready.

The next step after getting your base ready is to have all of your other materials ready to go.  For me, this meant cutting out all the shapes that were going on the cap.  I cut the circles using various household objects and googled a reference photo to make sure my sun rays were accurate.  This could also be considered step 1 1/2, as these shapes for me really were still part of my base.

Before gluing anything, make sure your design fits and looks how you want it to!  I had to peel up the parts of the circle I glued down because I didn’t realize how I had wanted my cap to look until after; oops!

Step 3

If you’re adding shapes around the little nub, the easiest way for me was not to cut out a circle in the center like you did for the base layer, but to actually cut a slit in the object up to the very middle.  This made it super easy for me to just slide it right over the nub and not have to worry about it looking ugly.  You’ll just have to be sure to glue down the split. Pro tip: DO NOT use liquid glue!  Those wrinkles in the paper are from that.  Glue dots are what I went with later, since they leave no mark and are easy to reposition if you don’t like the location or need to adjust it.  If you are putting anything around the nub, make sure your tassel still fits into where it’s supposed to go!

Step 2

Step 3: Get pretty with it!

After you have your base items laid out exactly how you want, it’s time to make your cap look just like you envisioned!  As you can see, I added some self-adhesive gems and fabric flowers I bought from Walmart.  What you don’t see in this picture that you will see in the end are some large clear gemstones on either tip of the hat, again from Walmart! I think there’s a theme here…

The flowers and gemstones were not self-adhesive, so I had to use a different sort of glue. Because the spray adhesive is so intense, I wouldn’t suggest using it on top of the paper; it will cause that really weird wrinkling.  I also found that the glue dots did a terrible job at keeping hold of those pretty little flowers, so I ended up using mod podge.

You can either use a paint brush, a sponge/spatula thing (what I used), or whatever else you have handy. If you do any sort of crafting, mod podge is essential!  It held everything in place so nicely; I put it on the paper and stuck the flowers on where I had wanted them.  For the gems, I swiped it onto the back (not a super thick layer) and held them down for about 10 seconds.  You’ll know right away if they stick or not!

Step 5

Step 4: Adding your words.

This is definitely the scariest part, in my opinion!  Well, it was for me at least.  If you’re using stickers, which I wish I had, it’s a lot less terrifying; just use a ruler to make sure you have straight lines!

If you’re stenciling, heed my warning!  I chose to stencil my letters onto my cap because I couldn’t quite find stickers that I really loved that would go with it.  I decided that I would use a pretty stencil that I had found at Walmart because I liked the way the letters looked and I wanted it to be consistent.

The first thing I wanted to do was use gold paint; unfortunately, there was absolutely no pigment to the color and it just looked really faint.  I then tried to use a gold metallic sharpie; again, the color was really ugly.  I think my sharpie was just dry at that point, because it usually looks so much prettier. I ended up choosing the intense bronze shade from the metallic sharpie pack, which looked amazing on both papers.

This is where the warning comes into play: DO NOT use the sharpie with the stencil directly onto your cap! I cannot repeat this enough!  When I did this, the sharpie’s ink had actually gotten under the stencil and the plastic basically caused it to travel everywhere outside the lines!  The whole reason my cap looks better in the final picture is because I had to redo the yellow circle.

If you’re using stencils, use a mechanical pencil to trace the letters of the stencil out, and then fill the lines in with your sharpie, also connecting lines that the stencil left open.  This will give you that gorgeous handwriting appearance without also making it look like your sharpie bled everywhere. (:

Apply any of those last minute touches you want that will make you say wow!, and you’re good to go!  Remember that this is for you to see and love, so make it your own.

The biggest thing to do now is get excited; you’re graduating!

Finally, Step 5: Rock graduation day with your cute cap!!Final

IMG_6173[1]

What tips do you have for putting together an amazing cap?

Books

8 Ways to get Free or Cheap Books

Happy Monday, y’all!

Today I wanted to share with you 8 different ways that I get my books either for free or for really cheap.  If you’re a book lover, you know how hard it is to fund your love of books; they’re expensive!  Any easy way to get a book for less than full price is a win in my book.

Some of them may be more or less relevant to you, depending on how well you fit into the criteria, but I can almost guarantee that you’ll find yourself able to do at least one of these!

1. Netgalley

If you’ve never heard of Netgalley, don’t worry about it!  Netgalley is a website where publishers post early copies of their books to readers in order to receive feedback.  The books are all digital, and can be sent directly to your Kindle App on your phone or tablet!

I love this service, and it’s how I get a lot of my new books.  The requirement for Netgalley is that you have either a blog or GoodReads account that you connect to the website, and you review the books as you finish them.  They recommend reviewing 80% of the books you receive, but I would suggest reviewing all of them!

You aren’t guaranteed to get the books you request, but if your feedback ratio is good and your profile is filled out, you should still get quite a few!  There are also “read now” books that you can immediately download without having to request to read them, which is super cool!

If you’re interested in learning more about Netgalley or signing up, the link is here.

2. FirsttoRead.com

Another website that I’ve recently found is Firsttoread.com.  Similar to Netgalley, publishers put their digital books on this website early to receive reader feedback.  This website is a little bit different, however.

You don’t have to link any social media or be a book reviewer to get signed up with this site. However, you have to earn points by interacting with the website, which can then be redeemed for a guaranteed copy of the book (limited quantities available).  Otherwise, you can enter for a chance to win instead, which is a chance win.

If I’m being honest, I don’t love this website as much as Netgalley.  The book selection is much smaller, and you have to use a special app called Adobe Digital Editions in order to get the copies of these books.  If this is a website you’re interested in, the link to sign up is here.

3. Library

One that may seem pretty obvious is the local library!  Most towns should have one, and if there’s not one in yours, there should hopefully be one in a nearby location.  Libraries are an amazing resource if you’re someone who much prefers physical copies of books to the digital ones.

A library card should be free, or really cheap, so it is well worth the investment for tons of books. Plus, libraries are always getting new books, meaning that your selection should always be fresh!

4. Prime Reading

Something that I hadn’t known about for a long time was the existence of Prime Reading.  If you have Amazon Prime currently, you have access to a decent sized library of digital books.  While this isn’t technically free, it is a perk of a larger service that you pay for.  They range from incredibly popular fiction and nonfiction, to magazines, to lesser known new titles.  There is a huge range of novels, and I have a big list of books I want to read from it.

You are given a max of 10 titles to borrow at a time, which is kind of sad but also makes sense.  When you finish a book, you simply go to your Prime Reading location and select “return” to remove it from your app, and then you can get a new one!  I personally have a private list of books on Prime Reading I want to read but can’t take yet due to the limit.

5. Amazon Kindle Free Books

If you have a smart phone or tablet and are a book lover, chances are you have the Amazon Kindle app already installed!  But did you know that the Kindle store often has books that are completely free?  I got tons of my books starting out by simply going to the search bar in my app and searching “free” or “free books”.  This will bring up those books with a $0 price tag, something I know we all love to see!

They’re not always the most popular books, but some of them do sound interesting. Plus, any classic novel now in public domain is listed as free as well, meaning you can read all sorts of classics you might not have thought of before!

If you don’t have this app, it’s a free download either in the iTunes store of Google Store.

6. Thriftbooks.com

Another website!  I personally don’t use Thriftbooks, but my boyfriend swears by it!  It’s a website that has tons of books, including textbooks, for extremely cheap.  He’s gotten lots of books from there, and usually gets free shipping as well.  There’s usually a deal going on to get some sort of discount , so be sure to check this site out next time you’re looking to get a book!  The link is here if you want to give it a try!

7. Direct from Publishers

An option that may be a little less available to us common folks is receiving books directly from a publisher. You’ll find that most times the people who are getting these are larger YouTubers and bloggers.  If you have a blog or YouTube channel, it might be worth it to reach out to companies and see if they’d be willing to send you something!  If you’re an avid reader, it might be worth a shot as well, but no guarantees. (:

8. Secondhand (Garage sales, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Thrift shops, etc.)

I’ve gotten nearly all of my physical books in the past year from the local Goodwill.  They’re priced so affordably and always had a great range of titles to choose from!  My Goodwill charged $1.49 for paperback and $1.99 for hardcover.  I’m not sure if all stores price the same way, but hopefully any local thrift shop has cheap books for you to pick up!

My grandma is a huge advocate for garage sale books.  Usually, you can find them anywhere between a quarter and one dollar, which is a great deal.  The only issue with this is that you’re usually getting older or lesser known books, not necessarily new or popular ones.  If you’re fine with reading whatever you can find, garage sales are great options!  Local “for sale” groups on FaceBook may be another great option for you to ask about garage sales or books being given away for free or cheap!

I hope that these tools made it possible for you to discover a few new ways to get books!

Share this with a book lover in your life!

8 Ways to get Free or Cheap Books

Personal

Graduation Day

Well everyone, it’s official.  I graduated!  Last Friday I said goodbye to my school and have now moved on to bigger and better things, like moving and trying to find a job (good luck on that one).

I wanted to share how my big day went with you all, since I had such an amazing time!

What’s on my gown?

Gown

As you can see, I’m wearing two separate cords as well as a stole.  The solid purple cord is for students who graduate Cum Laude, or with a 3.60 GPA or higher.  The silver and purple cord is from the honorary I’m in, Student Ambassadors, which is basically a fancy name for campus tour guides.  Finally, I purchased my stole as a way to show pride for my sorority, one that I love and will miss greatly!

Onto My Day:

6:20am

I was up at 6:20.  That is so early; I even beat my alarm clock!  I will admit, looking back I don’t even know what I did, I just know that I was scrambling while I was doing it.

7:00am

My boyfriend and I made our final visit to Bloedow’s, which is a famous bakery in Minnesota because of their amazing doughnuts.

7:15am

My poor roommate had offered to do my hair, so I woke her up at 7:15 and we got to work curling it!  I have very long and thick hair, so I expected it to take quite a while; surprisingly, she got it done in half an hour!

7:45am

At this point I was freaking out, putting my makeup on quickly and then throwing my dress on after.  God bless my boyfriend, who helped keep me calm while I was having a mini anxiety attack about being ready on time.  I was in such a rush I didn’t even get to eat a doughnut; sad!

8:15am

8:15 was check in time, so we quickly drove to my school and I jumped out of his car while he went to find parking and then the rest of my family.  I went to get my name card and then found my friends, where we chatted until we were asked to line up.

8:45am

It was time to line up!  I separated from my pals and went to my spot in line, where I talked with my buddies there and had some final touch-ups provided by the adults helping organize us all.  Thank goodness, too, because my cords were not attached properly!

Somsen

9:00am

The procession started!  There were a ton of people in my graduation (about 300) so we had to walk around some of the buildings on campus before heading into the gym, where the actual graduation was.  Along the way there was a line of professors and staff on either side of us, applauding as we went.

Walking in

9:30am

After all of the introductions and speeches were given, it was finally time for us to begin receiving our diplomas!  My last name is near the beginning of the alphabet, so I was pretty early in the lineup and received mine right away!

Panhellenic Picture

10:30am

Graduation ended at about 10:30, and at that point I walked out of the gym and waited to meet up with my family.  Afterwards, we walked around, took a few pictures, and went inside so I could say goodbye to some of my favorite professors. I didn’t get pictures with many, but I assure you all, I had plenty to say to quite a few!

11:30am

After all the pictures were taken, we walked back to the car and headed to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.  Unfortunately, my boyfriend totally forgot where he parked so we had to wander a little before making it.  Then I got to enjoy a delicious meal, plus a tequila shot – bad choice on my part, but it tasted so good!

The rest of my day was spent packing my room and relaxing.  I was exhausted by the end, but it was well worth it!

Mortarboard

Health & Fitness

4 Quick, Healthy Snacks for On the Go

I’m not sure if any of you are like me, but I feel like I’m always so busy going places.  Even if I’m not actually leaving, I’m still busy enough to never have enough time to make full meals.  That is where these snacks come into play!

I often look into my fridge and pantry to see what I have, and keep finding these four items.  Every time I go to the grocery store, I always buy at least one of these.  In no particular order, here are my four favorite healthy snacks that can be taken on the go!

This post contains affiliate links.  This means that if you make a purchase through one of my links I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

1. String Cheese

I am a sucker for cheese.  It’s one of my favorite foods, and any variation of it will do.  However, when I’m in need of a quick snack, I find that string cheese is the easiest to move around with and keep fresh.

While sometimes cheese isn’t the healthiest, I usually get the low-fat mozzarella, which makes me feel even better while eating a stick (or two).  There are all sorts of varieties, so just go with what sounds best to you!

2. Fruit

This should go without saying: fruit is healthy and delicious!  You can’t go wrong with picking up your favorite fruit and munching on it quick or taking it with you.  My favorite for on the go is bananas, as they already have a protective layer and you don’t have to do anything but peel them when you’re ready!  Some other easy alternatives are apples and pears, but be weary that they can all bruise somewhat easily!

I also really enjoy raspberries, but they’re a little more difficult.  You’d have to wash them and then put them in a baggie, but if you’re a berry lover it’s worth it!   Other berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries work just as well, and you can even make a blend of them for some variety.

3. Bars

One of my favorite snacks lately has been Clif bars.  I am totally obsessed with their nut filled ones; Caramel Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Hazelnut Butter are my favorites.  Really, though, any Clif bar works well!  These are not necessarily the healthiest option on this list, however, they are one of the best bars that still taste great in my opinion.  If you’re interested in buying Clif bars, they’re easy to find in virtually any grocery store where you can find the rest of these snacks, too!

I find that granola bars in general are some of my favorite snacks.  They’re prepackaged so you don’t have to worry about bagging them, and I never feel disappointed when eating one!  There are so many different options too, you can pretty much choose whatever flavor sounds best at the time.

4. Nuts

Nuts are such a great healthy option! They are easy to bag, fill you up, have a large variety of flavors, and are packed with protein.  You can’t go wrong! Some options include peanuts and cashews.

My favorite nut is definitely almonds; they don’t taste as dry as other nuts and I enjoy getting the flavor coatings on them (even if that makes them less healthy…).  Plain almonds or lightly salted are still great if you’re trying to be especially good.

Those are my favorite healthy snack options!  While I’m sure there are other, better for you options out there, but sometimes when you’re in a rush the quickest ones are the best. (:

What do you enjoy snacking on?

4 Quick, healthy snacks for on the go

Beauty & Fashion

My 5 Favorite Summer Releases from Lilly Pulitzer

It’s hard to believe that summer is already almost here! Spring is my favorite season, and there just wasn’t enough of it for those of us in the Midwest.

While I’m disappointed in the lack of spring, I’m certainly not upset about the amazing new summer collection that Lilly Pulitzer just came out with!  I decided that in honor of loving all these bright new pieces, I would share my five favorites with you all!

Also, just as a side note, they came out with some new Fourth of July themed items as well, as they are so cute! Unfortunately this post only contains their original summer releases.

Wanderlust Packable Travel Tote in Bennet Blue Bay Dreamin ($138)

travel tote
The bright colors of this pattern draw me in, and they look absolutely perfect for a travel tote!  It would be great to use for a weekend getaway or as a beach bag.

4″ Adie Short in Pink Sunset ($64)

adie short
These shorts are such a gorgeous pink, and the length is comfortable for me!

Zaylee Top in Bennet Blue Bay Dreamin ($98)

zaylee-top.png
I LOVE the cut of this top!  Off the shoulder is so trendy, as well as the lace detail sleeve.

Del Lago Romper in Nauti Navy Boho Bateau ($128)

romper.jpg
This romper is so bright and colorful, and the pink tassel details are really cute and cozy looking!

5″ Buttercup Stretch Twill Short in Bennet Blue Bay Dreamin ($68)

twill shorts
The scallop details are so beautiful and fun, plus the bright colors make these a summer staple!

This season, my favorite pattern was definitely the Bennet Blue Bay Dreamin; the electric blue color coupled with various shades of pink really has made me fall in love with it.

There were so many other beautiful pieces in this collection; it truly was difficult to narrow it down to five, but I’m so happy with what I came up with!  Lilly Pulitzer’s iconic patterns and bright colors really are one of a kind.

I hope you have all been inspired to take a peek at what they have to offer!  No matter what, you won’t be disappointed.

What are your favorite pieces from this collection?

My 5 Favorite Summer Releases from Lilly Pulitzer