8.29.2015

Lessons I've Learned Post Grad



I've been out of undergrad going on three years this upcoming May and I just can't keep thinking about how fast times seems to be flying. It seems like just yesterday I was accepting my bid for my sorority, working in my first internship, and attending my first college party. One day I woke up and I was two and a half years past post-grad and on the brink of my second semester of graduate school. Whoa.

What have I learned in my two-ish (almost three) years post-graduation? A LOT. Here are some of the lessons I've learned (unfortunately) the hard way.

  1. Work hard. This one seems like a no-brainer but really, work hard. It will pay off.  Maybe not tomorrow and maybe not next week -- but down the road, it will pay off. 
  2. Make time for you. This is your time to find out what you really enjoy doing. Knitting, reading and drinking red wine is one of my favorite pastimes and I don't make nearly enough time for that. Which is why I try to devote one night a week for "me-time". 
  3. Find a job you enjoy. This might not be your first job post-grad, second or even third. It's okay to try different fields and try different jobs out. Hopefully you find a career path that is perfect for you. 
  4. Get in a morning routine -- and stick with it. This one takes some time. In my first post-grad job, I had such high expectations. I thought I was going to wake up every morning and go to the gym, make breakfast and watch the news before work. Oh boy, how wrong I was. It took months, if not a solid year, to get into a routine post-grad. Another important tip: wake up at the same time everyday, even the weekends. It helps with your internal clock and makes waking up early a little bit easier.
  5. Get involved. Networking is SO important. Aside from getting your degree, I think networking and making business connections is numero uno. Join alumni groups, trade associations and local young professional groups. 
  6. Travel. Although I haven't been able to travel as much as I wish I could, I try to take a trip once a quarter (in the finance world, I've been taught to think in quarters). My work doesn't have as lenient a time off policy as I would like, but I make do. Especially now that most of my friends have either moved, stayed in town or moved back home -- it's time to travel and couch surf, before you're too old and your back hurts from sleeping on the couch, floor or air mattress. 
  7. You find out who your REAL friends are. One year post-grad you probably still have the majority of your friends from college but once you hit two years post-grad, it starts getting real. You either make time to keep your friendships healthy or you end up being Facebook friends who "like" (and maybe comment) on major life events.
  8. It's okay to take your time. Don't feel the pressure to get married, have children and buy a house. Everyone has their own path and sometimes, it might take longer to get there than others. It's important to remember, it's okay. I am so excited for all my friends who are getting married and starting their families, but I know that it's not in my plans right now and I'm okay with it. 
  9. Keep your end goal in mind. This is the hardest for me to come to grips with and remember. We've become so accustomed to having instantaneous gratification and instant results, it's sometimes hard to see your long term goals. I have it written down in my planner and I get to see it everyday. It really helps to keep me on track and focused on the end goal. 
  10. Not to sound cliche but remember to have fun. Someone once told me "this is both the oldest you've ever been and the youngest you ever will be again". This has stuck in my mind for years. Go for happy hour with your girlfriends, go on the date that cute guy asked you on or even join the book club you've been yearning for, because really -- what do you have to lose?  



8.10.2015

DIY: Closet Nook Desk


It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks around these parts. From moving to weddings to work to business travel and grad school, there just doesn't seem to be enough days in the week and hours in the day.

Although I love my new apartment, there was one thing that I was missing, a designated desk space. While I typically don't use a desk, there's something that feels right about sitting down at a desk and getting to work (my bed and couch just wasn't cutting it anymore). But what I was lacking in my new apartment was room for a desk. What's a girl to do? Create a desk space, that's what!

Luckily, I have a walk-in closet that I am able to fit all my clothes in but I have a little extra closet in my bedroom. I thought to myself "I bet I could turn this into a desk" and then the weekend adventure began.

I bribed my brother to help me with some pizza and we got to work. It was actually a lot simpler than I thought and I had a lot of things needed already.

First: // I started with going to my local JoAnn's and purchased 4 large wooden crates and 2 cans of spray paint (boy was I wrong on my estimate on how much spray paint I would need!). Next stop? Home Depot.  I then went on over to the Home Depot and got a piece of plywood cut to the dimensions I needed for the desk top. Tip:// Make sure to measure it about one inch smaller than the inside of your closet, it makes it easier to fit it inside (and won't scratch the walls).


(Pictured above: Hung curtains (left) and my brother spray painting the crates and plywood (right).

Second: // Spray paint, everything! (I ended up having to run to Wal-mart to purchase extra cans of spray paint, 3 more to be exact!) Once everything is dry and the color you want, it's time to get assembling!

Third: // Assembly. This part is the easiest! Simply arrange your crates stacked on top of each other (two on each side) and place your board on top! Wahlah! You have created your desk! Depending on if you have enough storage in your desk area you can turn your creates facing outwards or inwards to add extra storage beneath your desk.



(Pictured above: Assembling the desk and figuring out what I should do with the crates, I ended up having the top crates "open" to allow for extra storage.) 

Tips:// To add some romance and charm to my desk area, I added a curtain. This also helps to "hide" my desk area when I'm done with work. Mentally it helps to separate work from sleep. To have electricity in my desk area, I ran an extension cord and hid it behind the crates. I left a little space between the back wall and the plywood, so cords could easily slide behind, keeping the desk space clutter free.

The finished project? Here it is! 



I am SO trilled on how it turned out. I love it and I love the elements I was able to incorporate to make it a working desk space.



(Pictured above: Some desk accents that I think really ties it all together!)

Materials List: //

  • 4 wooden crates 
  • Spray paint in your desired color (I would say 5 cans)
  • a piece of plywood, cut to your desk dimensions 
  • Chair
  • Desk accessories

Have you turned your closet into a desk? Have any questions? Feel free to let me know!

5.07.2015

Daycation: Everyone needs one


Daycation: [v] an adventure; most daycations take place in 
amusement parks or sometimes the beach.

A little over a month ago (it took way too long to post this post, sorry Katie!) I took a much needed daycation. I needed to get away from the everyday grind and escape from it all. My friend Myranda and I decided to take a little road trip and visit our good friend, Katie, on Gasparilla Island.

What is Gasparilla Island, you ask? It's this quaint, super friendly island. Gasparilla Island is a barrier island assessable only by boat or bridge (tip: make sure to bring cash for the toll). If you're looking for a quiet, relaxing, laid-back, "old-Florida" vibe, look no further. Perfect for a day trip or perhaps a weekend get-a-way, Gasparilla Island is your sanctuary.

I love places that have history and Gasparilla Island has plenty! According to old folklore Gasparilla Island gets its name from the story of an old pirate, Jose Gaspar, who used this island to hide his treasure. Although it's never been found, perhaps it's buried under some of the old Cypress trees that line the streets of the island.

Katie was the perfect tour guide, patiently waiting as we "ooohed" and "ahhhed" over all the precious and loving details of not only the island itself but the stunning Gasparilla Inn & Club. The Gasparilla Inn & Club is the most beautiful hotel I have seen to-date.

I mean really? How is that not the most picturesque hotel you've ever seen?!

After our tour Katie took us to a local restaurant, South Beach Bar & Grille, where we had a delicious lunch and even better drinks. After a scrumptious lunch, we hit the beach! While us Floridians think the Gulf water is a little too cold (compared to our Northern tourists), we still went in. 

A daycation was just what the doctor ordered and guess what? He ordered it again! I can't wait to go back there this weekend. Sun, fun, best friends and a cold beer (or two). Does it get much better? 

Have you ever had a daycation?

(More pictures after the break!)

4.23.2015

Happy World Book Day; Book Review: Paper Towns


Happy World Book Day! I love reading and want to celebrate by sharing another book review with you! Paper Towns by John Green. Read on to find out what I thought about it. 



Are you looking for an easy beach read? Look no further than John Green’s Paper Towns. 

The synopsis via the publisher:
"Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues—and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew..."
My thoughts?

This was a good read; the dialogue between all the characters is great. I laughed at many parts in this book. John Green was able to paint a perfect picture of the personalities of the characters and the complexities around each character.

This story is very young-adult (YA) but can easily be translated into life situations. The main characters are getting ready to graduate high school but I graduated college not too long ago – I was able to relate to all their feelings they had about leaving, wanting adventure and the future.

My Rating:

On a scale of 1 to 5 (one being the worst and 5 being the best), I would rate it a 4. It was a quick read and the characters were relatable. I, however, didn’t really care for the character, Margo Roth Spiegelman too much.


Have you read Paper Towns? What did you think? Let me know your thoughts! 

P.S. Are you on Good Reads? Let's connect, I would love book recommendations! 

4.15.2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins



This book for me was a little bit hard to get into. I loved Gone Girl and based on my Goodreads recommendations and numerous friends recommendations, I bought it.

A quick synopsis via the publisher:
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. 
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?”  
My thoughts?

For me, it was a little hard to follow, since it switches between the three main characters quite often. It was hard for me at first, to really connect with the main characters (each and every one of them truly are horrible human beings). But this weekend I was quite determined to finally finish it. Once I sat down and really committed to it, I couldn’t put it down!

It was a quick read (about 300 pages) and I would recommend it to anyone that likes a good psychological thriller. There are definitely some twists and turns and some “NO WAY” moments BUT I was a little disappointed. I was told this was going to be the next Gone Girl and to me, there was no comparison. It was well written and the pace was a little quicker than Gone Girl. 


My Rating

On a scale of 1-5 (one being the worst and 5 being the best) I would rate it a 4. It was a quick moving, edge of your seat, psychological thriller. I bet it will be made into a movie too since that seems to be the trend. Go ahead, read it on the train, I dare you.

Have you read it? What did you think? 

4.07.2015

{Easy} Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

I was looking for an easy dessert to bring to my Aunt Myrtle's Easter dinner. Everything I was planning on making was either chocolate (which I am not a fan of) or elaborate and time consuming. While I was at the farmer's market on Saturday I saw fresh, local strawberries and knew what I was going to make, a strawberry shortcake trifle.

This trifle is easy to make and is perfect for a dinner party, Memorial Day BBQ, bridal shower and anywhere in between.

{Easy} Strawberry Shortcake Trifle



Ingredients

One container angel food cake or pound cake
3 containers fresh strawberries, cut
1 container blueberries (if you want)
1 box instant vanilla pudding
Fresh whipped cream

All the ingredients for a delicious dessert! 

Instructions:

  1. Prepare angel food cake according to package directions. To speed up the process, just buy a store made angel food cake.
  2. Mix vanilla instant pudding according to package directions. Once the pudding has firmed up, add fresh strawberries and blueberries. Don't add all the strawberries, you'll need some for garnish. Tip: The pudding should be a little runny -- it's fine!
  3. Make fresh whipped cream. Simply combine 2 tablespoons of sugar and one cup heavy whipping cream in a mixer and combine until stiff peaks form. 
  4. Assemble your trifle (directions below).
  5. Enjoy!
Assembly:
To create your first layer, put pieces of angel food cake in the bottom of your dish and squish it down to create a flat surface. Spread half the pudding mixture onto the layer of angel food cake and top with whipped cream. Repeat the layers in the same order; cake, pudding and whipped cream.


That's it! You're done! Simple, right? Garnish with additional strawberries on top for an instantly elegant dessert. Your friends will think you spent hours preparing your trifle. I recommend making this a few hours before you plan on eating it and be sure to refrigerate it.

4.03.2015

21 Day Fix -- Week One

So my roommate and I bit the bullet and bought the 21 Day Fix from Autumn Calabrese. We have less than 180 days until my best friend's wedding and less than 115 days until her bachlorette party (eeeeek). It's time for us to get our rears in gear.

She got engaged a little over a month and a half ago and the Monday after her engagement we started hitting the gym three times a week and eating healthier BUT we weren't seeing the results we wanted.

I've seen all my friends posting on Facebook about "1 red, 1 green...blah, blah, blah" but I honestly kept scrolling and would ignore them. I didn't think little colored boxes would work. I guess all the pictures and statuses worked because I finally decided to look up the reviews. Let me tell you, I was skeptical but I wanted to try it for myself. Enter the 21 Day Fix. 


3.29.2015

Week{end} Recap

This weekend was honestly one for the books. It was such a fun packed weekend filled with laugher, friends, memories and ice cream (who doesn't love ice cream?). I'll be posting a longer post later this week with all the gorgeous pictures I captured from my impromptu day-cation to Boca Grande, FL.

This weekend was a weekend filled with heart-to-hearts with some of my best friends and it made me fall in love with Florida again. It was perfect weather and I spent as much time outside as possible. I know my time is short here in Fort Myers and I'll have to move on eventually (perhaps once I have my Master's) but for now, I've decided I'm going to embrace and enjoy Florida for as long as I have left. 

On Saturday I had lunch with one of my dearest friends, Jasmine, and we caught up over mimosas and sangria! We then proceeded on an adventure to the bookstore where we bought some books off my reading list.










Lincoln enjoying his bone purchased at the Farmers' Market :) 
Now on to my weekly recap:

3.22.2015

Week{end} Recap

This week was filled with friends, laughter and good times.

#TBT Key West, FL // I am planning my good friend's bachlorette party and we're going to...the Keys! The Keys are one of my most favorite vacation destinations. It is laid-back, fun, easy-going and most importantly, relaxing! More details to come later!

Happy Anniversary // My parents would have celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this past Monday (March 16th).
"If there ever comes a day when we can't be together, keep me in your heart and I'll stay there forever. "   Winnie the Pooh 

Grad School, I see you! // Grad school starts in two weeks! Eeeek! I can't believe how quick the time is flying by! This weekend (in between errands) was spent organizing my life and planning my life away. 
Have a good week, lovelies!
Stephanie

3.20.2015

Reading List


I'm a self-proclaimed "book-worm".  I’ve compiled a list of 40 books I want to read. This list is fluid and will probably change. I’ll add more, take some off or never get to read some of them. As I read them I will post a review of the book and let you know my thoughts!


  1. Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  2. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  3. The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
  4. Paper Towns – John Green
  5. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
  6. Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer
  7. The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
  8. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  9. Where’d You Go Bernadette – Maria Semple
  10. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
  11. The Opposite of Loneliness – Marina Keegan
  12. Girls in White Dresses – Jennifer Close
  13. The Marriage Plot  -- Jeffrey Eugenides
  14. Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
  15. The Beautiful and Damned – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  16. Adulting – Kelly Williams Brown
  17. The Vacationers – Emma Straub
  18. The Time Traveler’s Wife -- Audrey Niffenegger
  19. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austin
  20. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  21. The Scarlett Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
  22. How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  23. Dark Places – Gillian Flynn
  24. Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl – Susan McCorkindale
  25. The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
  26. Outlander – Diana Galbadon
  27. Reconstructing Amelia – Kimberly McCreight
  28. Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah
  29. The Cove – Ron Rash
  30. Horns – Joe Hill
  31. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
  32. If I Stay – Gayle Forman
  33. The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
  34. The Orphan Master’s Son – Adam Johnson
  35. The Maze Runner – James Dashner
  36. The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty
  37. Defending Jacob – William Landay
  38. Columbine – Dave Cullen
  39. Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver
  40. Anna and the French Kiss – Stephanie Perkins

Any books you’re itching to read or think I’m missing? Let me know in the comments! 

3.15.2015

Week{end} Recap

This weekend was a quiet one. As I'm gearing up to go back to school, I can't help but think how much busier I will become over the next few months. I welcome the change with open arms but I know I will miss reading books for fun. I was able to go to the Farmers' Market on Saturday (my favorite thing to do on Saturday's) and let me tell you, Florida has skipped spring and headed straight for Summer. Here are two of my favorite pictures I captured (and #nofilter too!)

Gorgeous Sunflowers and only $1 a stem! 

THE most delicious watermelon...ever!
Now on to my Weekend {recap}:


3.11.2015

Warby Parker; at home try-on program

Growing up I had to get glasses when I was in 9th grade. When you're a freshman in high school, that's the last thing you want, to be "different". My dad wouldn't let me get contacts, so I was stuck with these hideous glasses (think old lady, purple, rimless glasses).

A year later we got a puppy named Hank (boy, was he trouble) and in the middle of the night he snuck in my room and decided my glasses would make a good chew toy (told you he was trouble). I was able to get a new pair of glasses that lasted me 4 years-- until I was a freshman in college, when I decided it was finally time to get contacts.

You might be wondering why I'm rambling, I have a point, I promise! Two years ago I decided it's time to upgrade my frames and got these cute, hipster frames, loved them! I don't know why I waited so long. My first "real" job out of college was working in marketing at a eye doctor's office and I fell in love with new glasses every day. However, one brand kept sticking out in my mind and it was Warby Parker.

*photo via Warby Parker
I love, love, love, Warby Parker. I love their colors, styles, and the prices. But I really love that you can order their at Home Try-On Program. I mean, I just don't have time to drive the three hours to the closest brick and mortar. However, I do have time to browse online and do some online shopping.

It's absolutely FREE to order your Try-On Program. (They charge one dollar to make sure your card is valid, in case, well you don't send them back. But rest assured, the charge disappears once your credit card has been verified.)

You're able to select 5 different frames (and sunnies), in all different colors/shades, and add to your online cart. Bingo, we're in business. Even better? For every pair of glasses, they donate a pair.  Find out more here.

Your Try-On Program arrives a few days later in your mail box. They literally ship you their glasses to try on. It was the best package I've gotten all year and also a great way for everyone to try on their glasses if they don't have a brick and mortar shop close enough (and a good marketing strategy!)

Which ones did I order for my Try-On Program? Well, I'll be happy to show you!

3.08.2015

Week{end} Recap

I can't believe how quick this week flew by! I feel like I just posted my week{end} recap yesterday! This weekend was spent catching up on household chores, Maid of Honor wedding prep, Farmer's Market Saturdaze and of course enjoying many cups of coffee!

Now onto some things that made this week memorable:

International Women's Day // As a Kappa Delta, International Women's Day is near and dear to my heart.  So glad to see the rest of the world is celebrating with us. Go Confidently.
"When you invest in women and girls, you invest in everyone." - Melinda Gates
*Photo credit
Salvation Army and #thedress // The salvation army came out with a brilliant advertising campaign playing off the #thedress debacle. "Why is it so hard to see black and blue?" Genius...pure marketing genius.
*photo credit
50 Shades of Grey // This weekend I was finally able to get some of my girlfriends together and go see 50 Shades. I read the books and let me tell you, the movie was awkward. In fairness, I think a lot of things are awkward though. I thought it was good, not great but not terrible...so, so. Have you seen it yet? P.S. I thought Christian Grey was so cute. Did you know Jamie Dornan (Christian Grey) is Irish and has the accent to boot? Swoon.
*photo credit

Hope you had a great weekend! 

With love,
Stephanie

3.02.2015

My week in pictures

Instagram is one of my favorite social media sites and I've been loving my Instagram feed lately. Here are some of the latest peeks into my life, also feel free to follow me while you're at it! Some photos haven't made it to Insta' but I wanted to share with you!

Here are some of my favorite moments from the past couple weeks: