Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of 2014 on Life of Lovely

With 2014 drawing to a close and 2015 quickly approaching we'd like to share a few of the most popular posts from the past year here on Life of Lovely.




From ideas on how to succeed in college, to books, cupcakes, and more, we enjoyed talking about all of these things here at Life of Lovely. Thanks to our readers who keep coming back to support us.

Here are the posts that you loved the most this year.




































Hope that your 2015 starts off well!

Follow us on Bloglovin, Twitter, and Pinterest to make sure that you don't miss any new posts this year.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Cheer + Penguin Love

The days keep moving closer and closer to Christmas. I still can't believe it's December, but we are almost halfway through the month now.

Christmas advertising for stores can sometimes be annoying this time of the year, but when it is done well, Christmas advertisements are very good. My roommate has introduced me to a British department store called John Lewis. Apparently, it always has a good advertisement around Christmas time, and I think that you'll enjoy this one featuring Monty the Penguin.


Not entirely sure how effective this advertisement is because it mostly just makes me want a penguin, and that is not going to happen.

Hope that you're enjoying the holidays!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

10 Free Classic Books for Kindle



You can never have too many books to read. As much as I love paper books, I also like e-books. Did you know that you don't have to have a kindle to read e-books from amazon? You can download a free Kindle Reading App to read those books. You can also download free classic books to read.

Here are a few great classics that I've found on amazon.(Although I've linked to the free versions check the price before downloading just to be sure.)

Add a few of these to your reading list!

Les Misérables 

Dracula

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes

Little Women

Frankenstein

Pride and Prejudice

The Scarlet Letter

The Odyssey

Wuthering Heights

Treasure Island
 
Happy reading!

Do you read e-books? What are some of your favorite classics?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide 2014


Christmas is coming up soon. While the holiday is about much more than presents, it is a great feeling to know that you've gotten the perfect gift to give someone. It's not always easy to think of good gifts though. Here are a few recommendations for the different friends that you have. Just in case you're wondering, yes, I do want absolutely every single one of these.

For the one who loves all things girly: Taylor Swift's new album 1989

For the traveler:  Luckies of London Scratch Map - Deluxe Edition

For the one obsessed with The Princess Bride: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

For the one who needs to relax and a break:  Pocket Posh Coloring Book: Pretty Designs for Fun & Relaxation

For the one who loves to send letters: Happy Mail Box

What suggestions do you have for gifts?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Books to Read After The Hunger Games


Have you seen Mockingjay: Part 1 yet? This movie is the latest one adapted from the best-selling Hunger Games trilogy. I read the first book in the series because Jennifer made me which turned out to be a good thing. There is still one more movie left to come out in theaters, but if you have been reading ahead of the movies, you are most likely in search of new reading material. Here are my suggestions for what to read next if you like The Hunger Games.

  • Divergent - This book is the most obvious recommendation because it is a YA dystopia with a strong female protagonist. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, chances are that you will like this one as well. I've only read the first two books, so I cannot comment on how well the series ends. I do know that I'm currently hooked. Just a warning, there are several violent scenes in this series. Be aware of that as you decide whether or not to read this one.
  • Uglies - This book is another YA dystopia. However, it came out several years earlier. At first the society in the book appears to have created a utopia, but, of course, the reader soon finds out that everything is not as perfect as it seems. Each book in the four book series focuses on a different aspect of the society, and for the most part, the plot follows the story of one central girl. 
  • The Selection - YA dystopia again. This one asks what would happen if the US became a monarchy? The prince chooses a princess from the people in a bachelor-style televised production. The main character didn't want to become part of those selected to participate, but once she is there, she does not want to leave. The concepts and characters in this book make it a must-read. I've only finished the first two books, but I am looking forward to getting my hands on the next one. 
  • The Giver - Most people have probably heard of The Giver. Not only has it recently been made into a movie, but it's a common read in high school English classes. The world in the story seems to be a utopia. The main character Jonah is chosen for the role of the Giver's apprentice when he turns twelve. There he begins to receive memories that the rest of the society has chosen to keep apart. This book has less physical action that the other ones I have mentioned, but it will probably make you think the most.
  • 1984 - This is a classic dystopia novel. Chances are that you've heard references from the book many times even if you've never actually read it. Orwell imagines where society might be headed in the future, and what he imagines is not a place that anyone would like to live in. 
  • The Road- This book explores what happens to a father and son as they wander around a post-apocalyptic America. It has very dark tones, but I think that it is an important book to read. 
  • Harry Potter - Yes, I know that you've heard of this one before, and you're probably questioning why it's on this list because everyone's already read it. That is not true though. I know plenty of people who are only now reading it for the first time. Those who are drawn to The Hunger Games for a complex plot, a wide cast of characters, and a fully developed alternate world will like Harry Potter.
  • A Wrinkle in Time - This is another older book. Two siblings and a friend go searching for the siblings' father across different planets. While the book isn't quite as flashy as The Hunger Games, it is a widely loved book for a reason. The main characters are all deeply relate-able, and the story is remarkably complex yet clear at the same time. Even though it's labeled as children's literature, it is truly a book for everyone.

How many of these books have you read? Would you suggest them to others?

Monday, December 1, 2014

9 Ways to Make a Friend Smile




For all of you with sisters, roommates, best friends, and other important girls in your lives, here are some simple ways that you can show that you care.

1. Send her a letter in the mail.

2. Bring her flowers.

3. Show up at an event to support her.

4. Bake her a surprise treat. Like these cupakes.

5. Leave positive post-it note messages somewhere she will see them.

6. Lend her a favorite book that you've just finished reading.

7. Make plans for lunch together.

8. Invite her over to have a cup of tea.

9. Text her just to say hello.

This post was inspired during the weekend when I felt a little down only to check my mailbox and find not one, but two letters addressed to me. Instant happiness.

What are your favorite methods for showing your friends that you care about them? What makes you feel loved?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Field Notes: November 2014



A few of our favorite things from November. 

If you've been feeling overwhelmed by the pressure of trying to do everything perfectly all the time, check out Hannah Breacher's post You Can't Be All the Things.

From Tirzah Magazine here's why you should make a Not-To-Do List rather than a To-Do List. 

Also, you can now get devotionals from Tirzah in your inbox each morning. Such a great way to begin your day.

I've mentioned before that I love journaling, and here's 25 ways to fill a journal page.

These Dulce de Leche Thumprint cookies are already making me crave Christmas cookies. And, they're topped with sea salt!

The Thanksgiving holiday period has just ended. Check out our Christmas pinterest board for ideas for the upcoming season.

It's no secret that I love books. One of my favorite places for recommendations is a feature on The Simply Luxurious Life called This and That. It's a collection of recommendations usually for things to read, watch, and buy.

Our most popular post on Life of Lovely this month has been Things to Do in Paris.

We'll leave you with this post of important bunny gifs.

Hope that you had a great November!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Book Review: The Best Yes



Chances are that a lot of you like being busy, you like helping people, and you like having many things going on at once in your life. It's so tempting to want to be the girl who can pull off a million different things perfectly at the same time.

And it would be great if we were actually capable of doing these things. After all, so many of the things that we want to do are good, but I am sure that you know that the more you try to do at once, the less anything gets done.

In order to be effective, you have to say no to some things. But, how do you know which areas need a no and which need a yes?

Before I left for France, some friends of mine gifted me with a book by Lysa Terkeurst called The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands.

Lysa Terkeurst shares practical strategies and personal stories that help you discover the Best Yes answers in your life. The advice that she offers makes sense, but I wouldn't have thought of it by myself. Of course, throughout the book is the theme that we need to rely on God to show us the best decision. However, it is so hard to always know what relying on God looks like, and it's too easy to think that we can just rely on ourselves instead. It takes effort and intention to trust God, but the more that we do it, the more likely we are to continue to do it.

If you find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed by busyness, or if you feel as if you don't know what path to choose amidst the millions of choices that you make every day, The Best Yes is a must read.

Have you read The Best Yes? What books have you been reading lately?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fantastic Violin Cover of T-Swift's Shake It Off + Blog Schedule Updates

You would have had to have been hiding under a rock not to have heard that Taylor Swift has a new album out, 1989. Like quite a lot of people, I am a huge Taylor Swift fan. I haven't bought the album yet, but I like all of the songs that I've heard so far from it.

You know what else I like?

Covers of songs with violins.

So, imagine how excited I was to see this string cover of Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" by Chargaux. Now in addition to being a Taylor Swift fan, I'm also a Charly and Margeaux fan. Once you've listened to their cover, you'll be a fan, too.



Now for the blog updates.

We're planning to post more often here. The schedule that we're aiming for is something inspirational on Mondays, something book related on Tuesdays, and DIY, recipe, or lifestyle related on Thursdays. Possibly there will be other additions throughout the week, but we're hoping to stick with this set-up for a while.

Now you know what day to check for your favorite topics.

Thanks for stopping by today.

You can follow us on Bloglovin, Twitter, and Pinterest to make sure that you don't miss any new posts.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Things to Do in Paris

If you could only pick one city in the world to visit, what would it be? The city of your dreams? Would it be Paris?

While I hope that you're able to travel to many places in your life, if you only ever went to Paris, you would still have an amazing adventure. Paris is a unique place. I've been lucky enough to visit Paris several times, and I'm in the process of planning another trip.

If you're planning to travel to Paris, I have a few recommendation about places that you should visit while you're there. Of course, there are so many different things to do in Paris, but these are a few of my favorites.

Places to Visit in Paris
Musée D'Orsay - Sometimes when you walk into an art museum, you know that you're supposed to appreciate the painting that you see, but unless you know about art, you aren't exactly sure why. That is not the case at the Musée D'Orsay. First of all, the Museum is in an old train station and the building itself is beautiful. Second, the Museum has artists you are likely to know. Degas, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh. Most of the paintings are easy for the casual visitor to enjoy. This museum is my favorite one that I have been to so far in Paris.






Musée Rodin - Another great art museum in Paris. In addition to the art itself, this museum has a beautiful garden. You will see Rodin's famous The Thinker. There are also plenty of other statues scattered among rosebushes and other flowers. If you are in Paris during the warmer months, you must spend time in the garden.



Palais Garnier (Opera House) - If you have seen The Phantom of the Opera, you may recognize this place. Yes, the book is set in this Opera House. The inside of the Opera House is absolutely stunning.



Sacré Couer - Head up to this Basilique in Montmarte for one of the best views of Paris. On the way up be sure to stop by the artists' stalls and take a look at the paintings. There are also a few good places to stop for crêpes in Montmarte, so I'd advise that as well.

Louvre - You knew that this one would be on the list. Chances are that you do want to see the Mona Lisa. There is lots of art to see in this museum. You could spend days in there, and not see everything. That being said, if you're pressed for time or if you want to avoid crowds and art isn't your thing anyway, you might want to chose a different art museum.



Notre Dame - While you could just view Notre Dame from the outside, it's worth taking the time to walk through the inside as well.



Eiffel Tower - It's up to you to decide whether you want to spend the time and money to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower (I personally would, but it's ok if you don't). However, you should explore the area in front of the tower. Bring a picnic for a meal and enjoy the view. Also, the Eiffel Tower sparkles on the hour at night until midnight. You need to see this.

Other Things to Do


Eat a crêpe. This must be done. I'd advise nutella and banana.

Walk down the Champs-Élysées. This where many famous shops are. You'll want to window shop. Stop by Laduree for a macaroon or two if the line isn't too long.

Spend a day at Versailles. Where Marie Antoinette lived. The palace is stunning. It's outside of Paris, so visiting it will involve a day trip.

Walk along the Seine. Either bank of the river is good for walking and people watching.

Shop at Galleries Lafayette. You don't actually have to buy anything at this huge department store, but you should take a look around. It reminds me of Macy's in New York or Harrod's in London.


Also, while in Paris, I stayed at a lovely apartment that I booked through airbnb. It was my first experience using airbnb, and I highly recommend using the service. I'm happy to share this code with you to get $25 dollars off your first booking with airbnb.


There are so many more great places in Paris, but that's my list of current favorites. Do you have any suggestions or questions?  

If you found this list helpful, we'd love it if you'd or

Linked up with Travel Tuesday on A Compass Rose

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Leave the Comparisions Behind

Today's post is going to be a little different from normal. Usually I stick to topics like recipes, how-tos, and books. Partly because those are areas that I absolutely love, and I would be doing those things even if I didn't have a blog to share those interests with you. But partly, I always stick to those areas because they feel safe. I feel as if I know how to write about those topics, and I don't know if I can write about other areas.

Still, today I am going to try. Because a wonderful group of women called #fireworkpeople has a blog tour going on right now. This group is made up of women who have big dreams and who encourage each other. That's something I want to be a part of, so for that reason I'm participating in the blog tour today.

So, even though writing this feels a bit odd for me and I'm going to have to think for a while before hitting the publish button on this post, here it goes.




You know how there are people on facebook or your social media outlet of choice whose posts always seem exciting and who make you just a little bit (or maybe a lot) envious?

I think that at the moment, I might be one of those people.

Right now, I'm living in France and teaching English in two elementary schools in a small French town. The town has a beautiful river going through the center of it, and all of the houses have red roofs made of clay tiles. Each Tuesday morning, my town has a small open-air market with vegetables, fruits, and cheese. If you were to draw a picture of the ideal small French town that couldn't possibly be real, it would look a lot like the one that I teach in.


Basically, I'm currently living the dream of quite a lot of Francophiles (minus the ones who want to be living in Paris).

But.

There's always a but, isn't there.

But, the thing is that I still compare myself to other people.

I am doing exactly what I want to do at this point in my life. I want to be in France. I want to teach English. I want to work with elementary students.

Before I left, I spent some time talking with a friend, and I realized that almost all of my friends are currently working on getting their master's. By the time that I get back, most of them will be either finished or halfway through. And I won't.

Sitting at the table talking, even though I knew that I was about to leave to do exactly what I wanted to do more than anything else, I still felt left behind everyone else.

I felt as if what I had chosen to do wasn't good enough compared to what they were doing.

Which is just absurd.

If we compare ourselves to everyone else, we will never be satisfied with what we have.

It's so easy to forget that life is not a list of tasks to complete and then check off. And even if it were, we wouldn't all have the same tasks on our lists.

Chances are that while you feel down because you are comparing yourself to someone else, another person is looking at you and feeling envious as well. No one comes out well in this cycle.

We should always celebrate the accomplishments and triumphs of our friends, but we shouldn't let that little bit of envy creep in to mar the celebration. Not only does that create resentment in the friendship, but it also keeps us from recognizing the good in our own lives.

Leave the comparisions behind.

Live your own life. Whatever that looks like for you.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Halloween Treats and Tricks



Since I'm in France right now, there isn't much Halloween going on right now. Although there may be small celebrations happening throughout the month of October, it isn't a custom here. Today during my English classes, I taught the children a little bit about celebrating Halloween in the United States. They seemed to enjoy the idea. Some of them even tried to convince their teacher that they should celebrate Halloween at the school. I think that those children really just wanted to go around asking for candy. Which I completely understand.

Although I will not be decorating or baking for Halloween this year, I have found some awesome ideas on other blogs that I'd love to share with you today.

Cranberry Pumpkin Cookies with Burnt Butter Icing- Cranberries make everything better, and the burnt butter icing sounds absolutely delicious.

Candy Dipped Pretzel Rods - Pretzel rods are a good combination of sweet plus salty. They work for any occasion with just a few color changes. A jar full of orange and black pretzel rods would be perfect for a Halloween event.

Witch Hat Cookies - These witch hat cookies involve icing, oreos, and hershey's kisses. They seem super simple to make, but still seem impressive to serve.

Halloween Mummy Cupcakes - It isn't a party with cupcakes. Why not mummy cupcakes?

Halloween Cake Pops - My cake pops never look this good. Obviously, the only solution is to practice and eat all the ones that don't turn out right.

Glittered Pumpkin Centerpiece - Carving a pumpkin is fun, but putting glitter on a pumpkin seems like just as much fun.

DIY Halloween Trick or Treat Bags - With a free printable. If I were throwing a Halloween party, I would send everyone home with these bags filled with a little bit of candy.

Cobweb Halloween Wreath - You know that cobweb stuff that people use to decorate their fireplaces and front porches like a spider's web. Turns out that you can make a spooky wreath with it as well. That stuff sticks to anything, so the process seems easy.


Do you have any awesome Halloween inspired ideas? Share them in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Field Notes: September 2014


A few of the things that we've been loving in September.

In my free time lately, I've been watching a lot of TED talks. This one is one of my favorites. A rich life with less stuff.

Here's a great post from Kory Woodard about what she wished she knew before finishing college.

Broken, Made Beautiful. This wonderful site called One Day Lighter has lots of inspiring posts like this one.



We love clothes, but we also know that it's important to know how our actions and choices impact others. Shopping With Ethics: A 5 Step Guide to Ethical Fashion has some advice on how to do that.

Some of you may remember that I've mentioned Tirzah Magazine before for its inspiring, faith based articles. I'm so excited to get to share with you an article I wrote there called Growing Roots in Christ.

I've recently discovered a charming blog called 34 Magnolia Street. While there are lots of great posts, this one about hospitality as a lifestyle is one of my favorites.

Cupcakes are one of our favorite things. So, I can't wait to try this recipe for maple buttercream frosting

Jennifer is currently loving this blog - Southern Curls and Pearls.

I finished watching all four of the BBC episodes of Shakespeare Retold. My favorite was Much Ado About Nothing, of course. I also really liked A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. I had forgotten that basically everybody dies in MacBeth and that one was a little too dark for me. Overall, I enjoyed the adaptations.

Finally, I'll leave you with an adorable bunny.

Enjoy!

Did you see August's field notes?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Guest Post on Escape and Inspire

I'm just stopping by today to tell you that you need to head over to Escape and Inspire. Jenny was nice enough to let me share 21 Journal Prompts with her readers. 

Take your time to enjoy all of the posts on Escape and Inspire. You won't be disappointed.

Some of my particular favorites are How Journaling Can Make You a Better Writer and 5 Easy Ways to Be More Productive.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

International Travel Advice

Advice for International Travelers


Some of you may know that I'll be in France teaching English for the current school year. I've made the trip across the Atlantic to France several times now. As much as I love traveling, going overseas always leaves me exhausted. Still, I have picked up a few tips that can make the journey just a little bit easier, and I'm happy to share those with you today.

- First, as you are preparing for your trip, make a packing list. Before you even begin to pack, write down everything that you plan to take. You can add to the list over several days as you think of things. As you pack, check each item off the list. This will help you to make sure that you do not forget anything. If you start packing several days in advance, you'll know exactly what's in your bags already, and you won't end up packing multiples of the same item.

- After you have packed everything, go back through your list. Do you absolutely need every single thing that you have? Try to take at least a few items out. The fewer things that you have to carry, the easier your trip will be.

- Bring several snacks to eat while you travel. My journey from home to my apartment in France ended up taking almost 24 hours. While I did eat meals in the airport, I did not buy any snacks there. Instead, I ate the carrots and granola bars that I had packed. Trying to go through shops and standing in line while carrying a backpack and a bag is not fun at all, so I tried to keep the number of times that I had to do that to a minimum.

- Bring an empty water bottle. You can fill it up with water at a fountain once you go through security. It's much cheaper than buying water in the airport. Plus, you will want water to drink while you are on the plane.

- Wear layers. It is usually cold on planes, but walking through the airport from one gate to another can get pretty warm. Try wearing a nice shirt that you can layer a sweater over, so that you're not too cold or too hot during your trip. Also, a scarf that is wide enough to double as a small blanket is a good idea, too.

Do you have any tips of your own for travelers?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Coca Cola Cupcakes with Ganache Icing


After heading to Atlanta to get my visa, I'd been thinking about making coca cola cake. Of course, since I love cupcakes, I decided to modify a recipe to make cupcakes instead. You can't necessarily tell that these cupcakes have coca cola in them, but you can tell that there's something different about them.


Based on this coca cola cake recipe by Linton Hopkins.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 oz. butter
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 TBS cocoa powder
1/2 cup Coca Cola
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a saucepan combine the butter, oil, and Coca Cola. Allow the mixture to boil for about a minute. Then, remove it from the heat.
3. Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl.
4. Add the Coca Cola mixture to the contents of the mixing bowl. Stir.
5. Add baking soda, sour cream, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Stir.
6. Add eggs, and mix until well combined.
7. Transfer the batter into the cupcake pan. Fill each liner about half full.
8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool before icing cupcakes.


Ganache Icing

Ingredients
3 TBS melted butter
2 1/2 TBS cocoa poweder
3 TBS Coca Cola
1 - 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Start with 1 cup of powdered sugar. Add more if necessary. The icing should be soft, but not runny. Ice the cupcakes once they have cooled.

Enjoy your cupcakes!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: An Everlasting Meal


 


When I first picked up Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal, I was not sure what to expect. It has a foreword by Alice Waters which is obviously a strong endorsement, but flipping through the pages, I found little that looks like a traditional cookbook.

However, this is exactly what the book is--a cookbook, meaning that it is a book that actually teaches the reader how to cook rather than just giving recipes to be followed.

Here are the reasons why I enjoyed An Everlasting Meal.

- This cookbook is meant to be read rather than simply flipped through.

- Adler's cooking philosophy is that nothing in the kitchen should be wasted.

- Every chapter stresses that ingredients used in each meal should build part of the next meal.

- You are encouraged to understand the cooking process and make it your own.

- The sections present the basics of cooking in a way that shows how they all relate to each other.


If I were to sum the book up into one statement, it would be - no fuss, just delicious meals.

If you were only going to buy one cookbook, this would be the one that I would suggest. An Everlasting Meal is highly practical for everyday cooks, but at the same time, the writing style elevates the book to something more than ordinary.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Fall

Fall is one of my favorite times of year because of all the cozy, fun, and delicious things the cooler weather inspires us to take part in. Here are a few of my favorite things about fall and some fun ideas to help you make the most of this beautiful season.


Plaid Shirt

1. Plaid
It's time to don your favorite plaid shirts. The plaid look is effortlessly cute with a side braid like the one in this tutorial How to: Reverse Side Braid by the beautiful Luxy Hair ladies.



Coffee Cup

2. Warm Drinks
My favorite hot drink during the fall is Starbuck's Pumpkin Spice Latte. The rich, sweet pumpkin flavor is the perfect way to make any day more festive. If you want to brew up your own creation, try Celestial Seasoning's India Spice Chai Tea. This tea has the perfect balance of spiciness and warmth from black pepper and cinnamon. It also has the best iced chai recipe I've found on its box. I love to drink it to warm up on chilly mornings or drink it while I settle down with a book at night (decaf of course!).


3. Cozy Scents
Familiar scents have the power to bring us back to our favorite moments in life. I've become obsessed with candle warmer fragrances because they heat up so fast, and I don't have to commit to a scent with a big candle. Some of my favorite scents this fall are Better Homes and Gardens' Comfy and Cozy scents that are inspired by flannel and fleece. Fleece and flannel are the fall version of summer's clean linen fragrance. Some other more traditional scents that bring back joyful memories of campfires and family gatherings are Gooey Marshmallow S'mores, and A Thankful Harvest.



Candied Apples

4. Sweet Treats
One of the best things about fall are the tasty goodies! One thing I look forward to are the yummy veggies like Acorn Squash. Now, I know that vegetables are not what usually first on the list of tasty treats, but good roasted acorn squash is delightful! Yes, I just called a vegetable delightful. Sunny Anderson makes this treat super simple with her Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash recipe. Another one of my fall favorites is a thing called Spoonfudge. You're probably asking yourself what is a spoonfudge? It's only the most delicious homemade fudge that you've eaten in your life packaged into cute little jars with an adorable spoon . This fudge hails from the colorful Sebastopol, Mississippi. (Now you're probably asking yourself what is a Sebastopol? I am too y'all.) My personal favorite is the Salted Caramel flavor, but the Pumpkin Cheesecake is perfect for fall. It's like regular fudge but so much creamier and more fun to eat. Luckily for the world, Spoonfudge will ship its delicious fudge to you.


Fall Landscape

5. Go Outside!
The real magic of fall can only be enjoy outside! So go outside and take a walk, admire the leaves, have a picnic, go to a bonfire, play in the leaves, breathe in the crisp air, sit on a bench and drink coffee, read a book, and find local fall festivals. Enjoy the last few weeks of beautiful weather before it gets too nippy outside.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Drug store Beauty Favorite: Pantene Pro-V Color Preserve Cleansing Conditioner

Drug Store Beauty Favorite: Pantene Pro-V Color Preserve Cleansing Conditioner


















We all look for ways to cut down on the time it takes to get ready in the morning. For me, using a cleansing conditioner is one sneaky way I cut my shampooing and conditioning time in half. If you haven't heard of cleansing conditioners before, they're basically what the name suggests: a conditioner that cleanses. They're usually sulfate-free and gently clean the hair without stripping it and condition it at the same time. Because cleansing conditioners are shampoo-free, you really have to massage them into the hair. The benefits of time-saving and less distressed hair is enough to make up for the lack of lather for me.

The first cleansing conditioner I tried and loved was L'Oreal Paris EverCurl Hydracharge Cleansing Conditioner. However, the price and the smell were not for me. So after some research, I decided to try Pantene's Color Preserve because is a product with great reviews, is also for curly coarse hair, and is very reasonably priced. After trying it for myself I was sold. It works just as well as more expensive cleansing conditioners. My favorite part though is the invigorating minty and citrusy smell. It's not overpowering, but it definitely wakes me up in the morning! If the spa like smell doesn't energize you, then just massage the conditioner in well and let it sit a few minutes, and you'll start to feel a slight tingle from the conditioner. Not only does this cleansing conditioner help me save time in the mornings, it also helps me get past the initial early morning slump.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

10 Ways to Take Care of Your Health in College



For our final post in our series of tips for students heading off to college, we have some advice for how to make sure that you stay healthy in college. You probably already know most of these, but with so many new people to meet and so many new things going on during the first few weeks, it's easy to forget and to develop bad habits that will eventually take their toll.

1. If your school has a gym, take advantage of it. Some schools have really nice gyms!

2. Some healthy snacks you can keep in a dorm room are popcorn, peanut butter and crackers, fruit, dried fruit, yogurt, granola bars, cereal and milk, and water.

3. Pick one junk food to have in your room during finals week. Since you will be stressed, you will want to eat a lot of junk food, but having too much will only make you more stressed.

4. Keep a grocery list. When you shop with a list, you will be less tempted to buy food that you do not  need. Plus, you will actually come back from the store with the things that you went there to get.

5. Invite a friend to go to an exercise class with you. If the class is absolutely horrible, you can laugh about it later. If the class is wonderful, you now have an exercise buddy and something fun to look forward to next time.

6. Do not buy fountain drinks when you go out to eat. Get water instead. You will save money, and you will not have to worry about all the extra calories.

7. If you really want a soft drink, get a can. It will limit the amount that you drink. One 12 oz. soft drink does much less damage than larger amounts.

8. If you were a high school athletic, understand that your body will go through some changes because it is no longer being used in the same way (i.e. you aren't practicing 10 hours a week.) Stay active, but know that you will most likely not stay at the same level you were at before.

9. Pick a healthy way to deal with stress. Draw, go on a run, dance around your room, pick a friend to talk with, clean your room (yes, cleaning works for some people). Decide how you will handle stress before you get stressed.

10. Finally, know that counseling services are available. If you need them, go to them.


Make sure to read 20 More Tips for College and 30 Study Tips for Success in College.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Field Notes: August 2014



Did you miss July's Field Notes

A few of the things we loved this month.

There's an entire pinterest board dedicated to smores. Why didn't I think to do that?

A few extremely helpful note taking tips. Even though I am no longer in school, I still take plenty of notes. It's a habit.

This one absolutely blew me away. Hannah Breacher wrote a post for all the girls who want to change the world.

Another one for the girls. If you have not heard Marie Miller's song 6'2, you are missing out.

For a healthy dinner try roasting vegetables.

We love cake (no surprise). Like this red velvet poke cake.

You know what is cute? A bunny! Their ears, their noses, just everything about them in general.

We finished watching all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls. So wish that there were more.

Also, I read Divergent and Insurgent. I was concerned that it would just be a Hunger Games copycat, but this series is interesting. There is more violence than I would like though. Still, I will be reading the third one when whatever person who has kept it overdue from the library for entirely too long decides to return it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Drug Store Beauty Favorite: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

Drug Store Beauty Favorite: CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser



I have super sensitive but oily skin, so I'm always on the lookout for a facial cleanser that is gentle, doesn't strip my skin, and will work with my clarisonic. Most cleansers either make my skin feel tight after I use them or make my face turn red. I was really pleased with CeraVe's Foaming Facial Cleanser for Normal to Oily Skin though. It reminded me of Cetaphil but my skin felt less dry after this cleanser which means less oil later in the day. It is a little pricey if you buy it from a drugstore. I paid about 15 dollars at Walgreens, but you can actually get it from Amazon for 10 dollars. That's definitely what I'll be doing next time. I'd recommend this cleanser to anyone with sensitive, oily, and blemish prone skin. There's a reason this foaming facial cleanser is a bestseller on Amazon.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

20 More Tips for College



Last week we shared 30 Study Tips for Success in College. This week we wanted to share some more tips that we have for those who are just starting college. We are discussing advice for your social life, what to wear, and living in a dorm room.

Social Life

1. Make an effort to meet people when you first get to college. Yes, things might be awkward at first, but things are awkward for everyone. Just talk to people, and you can all be awkward together. You will eventually find those special people who will become your friends.

2. You don't have to drink and party if you don't want to. Not everyone does. Trust us, our school was ranked the #2 party school in the U.S. during part of the time we were there, and it was never an issue.

3. Having a bunch of girls over to watch 27 Dresses and eats lots of ice cream totally counts as being social.

4. Check out the organizations on campus. Getting involved in activities is a great way to meet people.

5. But, make sure you don't overload yourself with activities. It is ok to say no to some things. In fact, you will have to say no to some things.

6. Read your school's newspaper to find out about events that are going on.

7. Athletic events are worth checking out with friends. Try to attend some of the sporting events that don't get as much attention. You might be surprised by how much fun you have sitting on a blanket cheering for your school to win some sport you've never watched before.

8. Make a point of finding a support system like a campus ministry, church, or other group.

9. Some of the friends you make freshmen year won't be your friends later in college because you will all be growing so quickly into different people. But some of your freshmen friends will stay your best friends throughout college and later in life. It all evens out.

10.Don't worry if it takes time to make really close friends. Keep trying. Those people are worth it, and you will find them.

Wardrobe

11. Do not buy many new clothes before you start your first semester at college. Once you're there, you will be able to see what people wear at your school, and you will have time to decide what clothes you want to buy.

12. In regards to the advice above, please remember that you do not have to look like everyone else. No one pays nearly as much attention to fitting in as they did in high school which is a good thing.

13. Your shoes must be comfortable. Chances are you will be walking around a lot from class to class. So, regardless of how cute a pair of shoes might be, if they are not comfortable enough to last through an entire day  of running around campus, you should not wear them.

14. No pajamas. Ever. If you know that you will not wake up in time to change out of what you slept in, then sleep in sweatpants or yoga pants. Those options are not incredibly put together, but they are more acceptable than pajamas.

15. Keep a small trashbag inside your backpack. If it suddenly starts to pour down raining, wrap the bag around the books that are inside your backpack before heading out into the rain. You do not want your (very expensive) books to get wet.

Dorm Living

16. There are going to be lots of people living near you, and everyone has a different sleep schedule. Regardless of whether you are a night owl or an early bird, ear plugs and a sleep mask might help you sleep better. A fan helps block out noise, too.

17. Talk to your roommates before small issues become problems. Communication is the only way that living in a tiny room together will work. Remember that you are sharing, so sometimes you will have to make compromises.

18. At Christmas break bring home the things from your room that you've realized you do not really need at college. Your space is small so do not keep it packed with things that you never use. Also, it helps to keep a list of things that you want to bring back with you when you go home at Christmas.

 19. Spend 5 minutes cleaning up your room before you go to bed. Just 5. It's not much, but it will keep your tiny dorm room from becoming an overwhelming mess.

20. Before you buy dorm room decorations, think about how long you will probably stay in the dorms, If everyone at your college moves out of the dorms after freshman year, you will want to spend less on items that can only be used in a dorm (i.e. xl twin bedding, mini-fridge, etc). If the opposite is true, then feel free to spend a bit more to buy items that will last during the four years you will be in a dorm.

If you missed the previous post, here's 30 Study Tips for Success in College

Also, take a look at 10 Ways to Take Care of Your Health in College.

Do you have any more advice for students going to college this fall? Share it in the comments.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Good Grades: 30 Study Tips for Success in College


With the summer coming to an end, we're thinking about back-to-school time here at Life of Lovely. Last week Jennifer shared her list of Back to College Essentials. We had originally planned to share some advice for recent high school graduates going off to college for their first semester, but we ended up with way more than we had thought. We're going to split it up into two posts starting off with advice on how to get good grades. Jennifer has a medical background with lots of science and health and a bit of nutrition, and I have a liberal arts background concentrating on languages, literature, and international studies, so we hope that there's something here for all majors.


1. Go to class. (Obvious, but a surprising number of people skip class, and then panic later when they realize they are going to fail the course.)

2. Talk to your professors if you are struggling. Professors have office hours for a reason. So, make an appointment to speak with them about points that you do not understand during class. Do not wait until after the test.

3. One of Jennifer's professors assigned a book called the The A Game: Nine Steps to Better Grades for class. If you want to make A's, read it and follow it.

4. Take advantage of tutoring services like the writing center and supplemental instruction especially for extremely difficult classes.

5. Find a study group. Studying with other people can help you understand the material.

6. On the other hand, if group studying is more distracting than helpful, study alone. You don't have to go to a group study session just because everyone else in your class goes.

7. Try out studying in different places. Can you study well in your dorm room, in the library, in a coffee shop, or another place around campus? Figure out where you study best.

8. Get a planner. Use it.

9. Google chrome has an app called Stayfocused that kicks you off social media. Set a time limit for yourself if you know that you will waste hours on social media when you should be using your time in better ways.

10. If your professor assigns reading to be read before class, actually read the assignment. The material will make more sense when you go over it in class. Plus, you will remember the material better when test time comes.

11. Pulling all-nighters is usually not effective.

12. Study every day. It doesn't have to be a lot every day, but a few minutes looking over materials means that you will be less stressed before a test. Look over your notes the night after class.

13. Set goals for each study session so that you know you have accomplished something when you finish.

14. Do not wait until the last minute to write a paper. If you get stuck every time you try to start typing, then write an outline or some ideas on paper first (you should probably start out by doing this anyway). Start early and let your ideas have the time they need to develop.

15. The best way to learn material is to teach it to someone else. Since you probably don't have a willing audience for this, here's an alternative that works incredibly well. You can write on mirrors with expo markers, so use your mirror as a board, and pretend that you are teaching a class. It is perfectly ok to say things in your head instead of aloud if you feel silly. Your roommate(s) will most likely appreciate it if you use the teaching method while they're not in the room.

16. Schedule your studying time for longer than you think it will take. Because it will always take longer than you think it will take.

17. For literature classes, take notes while you read. These notes should include basics like plot, setting, characters, and theme as well as points you found particularly interesting. If you can't think of anything, then pick something and ask yourself why it's in the passage. You want to have something to talk about during literature discussion.

18. Faculty advisers are really helpful, but make sure that you keep up with what you need to take on your own too. Have a list of the required classes for your major. Mark off the classes as you take them, and have a general plan of how you will fulfill all the requirements.

19. Keep extra scantrons and blue books in your backpack. You do not want to forget to get one before the test.

20. Other things to keep in your backpack are highlighters, an umbrella, extra pencils, and post-it notes.

21. Also, while we're talking about it, keep a water bottle and a small snack in your backpack.

22. Computers can be helpful for taking notes in class. However, if you know that you will spend all class period on pinterest (or your preferred social media site), then forget the laptop in class and stick to paper.

23. Sit in the front during class. If you are not comfortable sitting directly in the front, sit a few rows back. Just don't get lost at the back of the classroom.

24. It's easier to start off with a high GPA than to try to raise it later.

25. You might want to try hand writing your notes in class and then, typing them up later. You'll get to review the material a second time, and your notes will be in a format that's easier to study. (Neither of us did this, but it worked well for some of my friends.)

26. You can try studying the way you did in high school, but if it doesn't work, then you need to try something else.

27. Stay off your phone during class. No matter whether the class is boring or not, it's just rude.

28. Ask for advice from people who have taken the course before. They may be able to tell you what to expect to work the hardest on and what strategies worked for them.

29. Over prepare for the first big grade in each class. You'd much rather spend too much time studying at first, than be forced to make an almost perfect grade later to bring up your first grade. Plus, you'll be a whole lot more stressed during finals weeks than during midterms.

30. Remember that you are capable of doing well. Good luck!



Want some more tips for college? Check out our collection of posts about college.

Or take a look at Jennifer's list of Back to College Essentials.




Do you have advice of your own for success in college? Share them with us and our other readers in the comments.


-  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to College Essentials



This summer I started my first semester of graduate school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. It took three years of hard work to get into the occupational therapy program here. Along the way I've picked up on a few things that I hope will make your college experience a little easier whether you're a freshman or someone starting graduate school.

1. A Big Backpack
It's always frustrating when you're trying to pack up your backpack and all your books don't fit. If you're like me, trying to lug the loose book around campus probably means you'll end up leaving it somewhere. Finally, my first year of grad school, I've found a backpack that can actually accommodate more than one book and binder. I love this backpack! It has two huge main compartments and a couple of little ones for knick-knacks. It's also really durable and comes in fun colors. My pick is the red tape. I managed to snag mine for 50 dollars from Amazon which seems reasonable for the three years I plan to use it.
Our pick: Jansport Big Student Backpack

2.  A Tablet and Keyboard
I am very low-tech, but because I have a dinosaur phone that doesn't connect to the internet I finally had to breakdown and get a tablet. It has been one of the best purchases I've made for college. A few of the scholastic things I like to use my tablet for is taking notes, checking email, studying flashcards, and playing study tunes.

There are probably better tablets for school use, but I have a Samsung Galaxy and I have no complaints. Definitely find a tech savvy friend or drop by a BestBuy to talk to someone about what you want in a tablet to figure out which type of tablet you need before you buy one. To help me take notes, I also bought a mini-keyboard. It wasn't the best quality. I often mistype things using it, but it's good for rough notes. Plus I always get compliments on how cute the pink case is!
Our picks: Samsung Galaxy Tab 4Pink Leather Case with Keyboard

3. A Happy Coffee Cup or Water Bottle
I guess I might be a little high maintenance, but everyday I like to fix myself a morning coffee or tea and a bottle of water to bring with me to school. Little stuff like having a cute mug or water bottle makes me happy. Plus, you can save a ton of money fixing your own drinks at home instead of buying them from a coffee shop or vending machine. I try to use minimal plastic products because being a former nutrition major and current aspiring occupational therapist has made me a little paranoid about plastics. So instead, I try to buy mostly ceramic or glass bottles like these.

4. Comfy Cute Shoes
Chances are you're going to be doing a ton of walking to get to and from classes and the parking lot. If you're like me, you want shoes that look cute but aren't going give you blisters or slow you down. My solution is Keds. If you need some inspiration about how to wear them, just google "Taylor Swift Keds."
Our pick: Keds Women's Champion Dot Fashion Sneaker

5. A Fun Planner
Unless you have a fabulous memory, you're never going to remember everything. So you might as well get a cute and fun planner to help you out. I know for me I feel a lot less panicked when I have all my assignments and obligations written out in my planner. There's a reason that about half of the girls at the University of Mississippi have a Lilly Pulitzer planner. They're so bright, colorful, and fun. And as a bonus they come with stickers which lets you relive your childhood of putting Lisa Frank stickers on all your school stuff! If Lilly is too mainstream for you, there are plenty of other unique planners out there. Just make sure you get a planner that has pages for both the months and individual days of the month.
Our pick: Lilly Pulitzer 2014-2015 Agenda 

Looking for more college advice? Check out 30 Study Tips for Success in College.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Drug Store Beauty Favorite: Garnier Fructis Moroccan Oil

Drug Store Beauty Favorite: Garnier Fructis Moroccan Oil


Whenever I go to the drugstore, I'm always torn between trying something fun and new or sticking with something I know works. It seems like drugstore products can be very hit or miss. Lately, I've been pretty lucky with my finds, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.

My newest favorite is Garnier Fructis' Sleek and Shine Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment. I love how light this oil is. It really does absorb into my hair without looking oily. I also like how soft and shiny my hair looked after a couple uses. Plus with the price I don't feel like I have to be stingy with it. I've started using it on my dry hair before bed and also smoothing it into my ends while my hair is wet before I style it. I'd definitely recommend this to anyone but especially for girls with curly hair. It can be so hard for curly girls to get soft shiny hair, but this product really does help! My only complaint is that I wish it came in a spray bottle so that when I wear my hair curly I could spray it in without disturbing my wet curls. Overall though I was pleasantly surprised by this Moroccan Oil Treatment and can't wait to try other Moroccan Oil products.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Field Notes: July 2014



Inspired by a Hannah Brencher post, we want these field notes to be a place where we can share our favorite awesome posts, music, videos, ideas, sites, and general miscellany that we've come across during the month.

Always thought that crowns braids were too difficult for me to try, but I can actually do this crown braid bun. Yay for youtube hair tutorials!

While we're on youtube...I thought I was over these videos, but then I saw the #HappyMS version of Pharrell's "Happy."

I've made this baked macaroni and cheese so many times this summer.

Finally watched Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe. Light-hearted, classic movie.

For a newer movie, try The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. You'll immediately be inspired to go out and do something incredible as soon as it finishes.

Have you heard of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls? It's definitely a movement worth getting behind.

Here's a thoughtful article about How to Encourage Without Comparing.

Learning a new language is fun, but it's hard to remember to practice consistently. I've been using duolingo to brush up on French.
 
My laptop's desktop is now pretty and function thanks to this desktop organizer. For those who always have to be organized.

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