The end of my senior year definitely didn’t go as planned. While I wasn’t able to finish out my undergraduate career at the University of Oklahoma on campus with my friends and peers, I knew I at least wanted some photos to commemorate my 4 years as an undergraduate. Since social distancing procedures were already in place by mid-March, I was unable to hire a photographer for a senior portrait shoot.
Luckily, my time blogging has given me loads of experience with iPhone photography, self-timers, and tripods! I got ready and loaded up all my gear early one morning and headed to campus. I love how they turned out, although trying to wrangle all the props with the addition of a cap/gown/stole/hood on my own was a hassle. (Also, do you realize how hard it is to take a cap-throwing picture on your own with a 10-second self timer? REALLY hard.)
I’m proud of my work on these pictures, and over the past 4 years as well. I can’t wait to experience virtual commencement and graduation with my family this weekend!
We’re a little over a month into quarantine, and it would be easy to say I’m not going crazy being stuck inside. However, I have been trying to make good use of my time, and keep a balance between work and relaxation. This was a tough balance to find at first- working from home is not my forte- but the longer I’ve gone on, the easier it’s become. Here’s how I’ve been spending my days since shelter-in-place went into effect.
1. Got an internship
More on this in an upcoming post, but I was incredibly lucky to score a social media internship position with Tart-a-licious French Desserts during this quarantine experience! Since I have extra free time now that I’m not going to physical classes or commuting to campus, an internship seemed like the perfect way to fill my time. Can’t wait to share more about my experience soon!
2. Updated my resume
With new industry experience comes a new resume. I’m particularly anal about mine (not surprising when you own a resume design business) and reformatting mine to fit my new experiences was a lot of fun. I can’t wait to use it to start lobbying for a summer internship position!
3. Found new resume clients
I’m not the only one needing a new resume right now! To help those affected by COVID-19, I’m currently offering a discount of $30/document to all new resume clients. Hopefully this is able to help those seeking employment in a troubled job market. (Interested? Email me at email@example.com)
4. Designed for Redbubble
Recently, I realized I need to start capitalizing on my graphic design skills and upload more of my work to Redbubble. If you have anything you want to see, let me know!
5. Started rewatching Gossip Girl
This one shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. I’ve been binging Gossip Girl since my sophomore year of high school (7 whole years, which is kinda crazy) and I just got back into it recently. Since I’ve seen the whole series all the way through more than 10 times, it’s the perfect show to have on in the background if I’m doing other things. Currently on season 4!
6. Played animal crossing
Wild World, not New Horizons. For some reason I just can’t give the Nintendo DS version up- I’ve had it since 5th grade and still love socializing with my villagers and taking care of my town when I have some down time. It’s a great way to decompress, as well!
7. Stayed focused on my goals
COVID-19 may have stopped normal life, but school goes on. I’m gearing up to finish my semester and graduate in a few weeks, albeit without a ceremony. However, I’m excited to officially have my bachelor’s degree and officially be a master’s student! After I finish writing this post I’m going to start working on my 2-year plan. I’m excited to see where life takes me over the next year and the year after my master’s graduation, and I want to be prepared!
I feel like the world has completely changed since my last post. COVID-19 has drastically altered my life and my future, as well as the lives of billions of people worldwide. Two weeks ago, this was not even a possibility in my mind. One week ago, I was trying to come to terms with the fact that I would likely never walk the stage for my undergraduate graduation. And now, within the past few days, I’ve had to adjust to the idea that I will never go to an in-person undergraduate course again, never participate in my sorority’s senior ceremonies, and never get to feel recognized and appreciated at my marching band’s end-of-year banquet.
All that to say, my life and the foreseeable future has changed beyond comprehension in the past three days alone. Currently, my university is on spring break, meaning I have been experiencing the latest developments away from home (my friends and I planned a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico.)
Disclaimer: The COVID-19 situation has been changing and developing so rapidly that by the time we left (traveling by car)many of the most recent restrictions and warnings had not yet surfaced. While it is not ideal to be traveling anywhere at this point in time, we have done our best to stay socially distant and take all necessary precautions to help preserve our health and the health of those around us. This post is meant to share how COVID-19 affected our trip and the adjustments we made to still have fun while remaining socially distant.
We left Norman and headed to Santa Fe at the very beginning of our spring break, feeling restless due to all the unknowns we knew were sure to come. Equipped with the disposable gloves Taylor’s dad gave us to protect us at gas pumps, we were on our way. The Norman to Santa Fe drive is about 8 hours long, so we stopped for a lunch break in Amarillo and made a side trip to Cadillac Ranch before heading back on our way.
After arriving at our Airbnb (although not planned, this option made us feel much more secure than if we had been staying in a traditional hotel) we needed food. Partially in anticipation of the possibility of more limitations to come, and partially because we were trying to play it frugal, we stopped by Trader Joe’s to grocery shop for the week. I had expected it to be a lot crazier than it was- maybe it’s because TJ’s customer service is immaculate or maybe it’s because Santa Fe wasn’t losing their minds yet, but we were able to find most of the food options we wanted to make. With both a lactose intolerant friend and a vegan friend (and me just being picky), it can make grocery shopping with limited options difficult. Luckily, we didn’t experience that here.
Day 2 was our first full day in Santa Fe. At this point, many places were still open, although it was clear that the town was a little less full of tourists than usual. Armed with hand sanitizer and a desire to keep 6 feet of space between us and those around us, we chose to visit some of the less interactive sites: Loretto Chapel and Cross of the Martyrs.
On our 3rd full day (and first weekday of the trip) we decided to head to Old Town Santa Fe and see what was open. We were able to go into some stores (staying cognizant of what we were touching and what other window shoppers may have touched) and even got to eat lunch at The Shed, a restaurant we had been eyeing. Under orders from the governor, all New Mexican restaurants were operating at half capacity starting that morning, but even reduced occupancy didn’t keep us waiting very long. After a successful afternoon of browsing, social distancing, and margarita drinking, we headed back to the Airbnb with full stomachs, slightly lighter wallets and some cute photos (shout-out to my phone tripod for allowing us to take some cute pictures on our own, without the assistance from strangers!)
By that evening, we were starting to realize that hiking was going to be our best bet in terms of socially-distant physical activity. We chose a hike on the edge of town and timed it so we would get a fantastic sunset view of the city- but still have enough time to get down before darkness fully came.
Remember when I said we were about to turn into big hiking girls? Our 4th day proved that. We made the hour drive to Bandelier National Monument and spent the afternoon hiking different trails. This was a really fun day because we packed lunch and got to spend a few hours on our own, surrounded by nature. We even saw deer on our last hike of the day, which was amazing. The views here simply cannot be contested.
By day 5, restrictions and regulations were really starting to hit Santa Fe and we knew most of our activities would be completely solo from now on. Our activities Wednesday mainly consisted of painting denim jackets (we had picked up paint earlier in the week) and completing a puzzle we bought at Goodwill. It was beginning to look like Airbnb activities or hiking would be our new go-to, although none of us were that upset. It was rainy and we didn’t really want to venture out, anyways, so we happily spent our 5th day peacefully self-isolating in our Airbnb.
After a whole day inside on Wednesday, we knew we had to get creative on Thursday. Given that we had nothing but time, we chose to make the 3-hour round-trip to the Rio Grande Gorge and drive through Taos on our way back. I wish there had been things open in Taos for us to see and do, as it looked like a really cute town, but due to recent developments most shops and restaurants were closed. (We settled for just driving through, instead.)
Thursday evening was bittersweet for us, as we had originally had tickets to a concert that night. Because of the new restrictions put in place, our concert was cancelled (not that we would have continued to go, even if Grouplove said “the show must go on!”) Luckily, we will be refunded what we paid for our tickets, so not all is lost.
Today is our last full day here. Although a lot of our plans had to be altered or cancelled (the concert, Meow Wolf, and visiting local museums, just to name a few,) we have still managed to keep a positive outlook and make the most of our trip while staying aware of the changing climate around us. Today we have planned to do a photoshoot in our Airbnb, learn some TikTok dances, and continue composing the musical we started planning- all fun things we can do from the comfort of our (temporary) home.
While this trip definitely threw some curveballs our way, we were able to make the most of it while keeping our health and the health of others a priority. Getting the email that you won’t be returning to campus for undergraduate courses is hard, but it’s much easier to cope with when you’re surrounded by friends. I’m looking forward to getting back to Norman on Saturday and beginning my self-quarantine: while we took every possible precaution on this trip, you can never be too careful, and I want to ensure I am not a carrier before spending time with my friends or going back home to my family.
If there’s anything you want me to discuss or make a post about during my self-quarantine period, please let me know. I’m sure I’ll have an abundance of time. Stay safe, everyone!
It’s March now, which means that spring break is right around the corner. Last year, some of my girlfriends and I took a trip down to St. Augustine, Florida, where we spent a glorious 6 days relaxing on the beach, indulging in great food, and exploring the city.
When it came time to pack last year, I was kind of at a loss. What’s important? What isn’t? And as a chronic overpacker, I stuffed my carry-on-sized suitcase to the brim and hoped for the best.
While I’m not heading back to the sun and the surf this spring break (although stay tuned to see where I will be headed), I wanted to share my tips and tricks on what you need and what you don’t for the ultimate spring break beach vacation.
I’ll be detailing my top 10 items below, and attaching a full packing checklist at the bottom full of everything you’ll need. Let’s dive right in!
If you’re on a beach vacation, this should be a no-brainer. You can probably get away with just one bathing suit if you won’t be swimming every day, but if you will be, pack multiple: because believe me, putting back on a damp or sandy swimsuit is no fun.
Going out to dinner, walking around town, or even just hanging around the beach house- a flowy sundress is a must! They’re super versatile and can be used for several different outings.
3. Light jacket
Hopefully your trip is sunny and warm, but if mother nature doesn’t favor you and you’re struggling to soak in those rays a light jacket will be your best friend. Beach weather can change on a dime and a light jacket will make sure you don’t get too cold.
The ocean glare can be super bright, so always pack sunglasses to protect your eyes while you’re lounging in the sand. You really only need one pair, but they don’t take up a lot of space, so you can pack multiple if you would like!
5. Multi-purpose sandals
If you’re traveling with a big group or flying with a carry-on, luggage space is limited. Luckily, most beach clothing doesn’t take up a lot of room, but picking pairs of shoes that are super versatile can really help maximize your luggage space. Sandals that you can wear out to grab lunch or to a bar later in the night serve double duty and help you have more space in your luggage for other things!
Depending on the area you’re in, you might be privy to restaurants or bars right on the beach. Packing a cover-up ensures you’ll be able to go in and grab a drink or bite to eat during your beach day!
Probably no explanation necessary, right? Pack a couple pairs of shorts and you’ll be ready for anything you have planned, from a beach day to lunch downtown.
8. Multi-purpose tops
Much like with sandals, packing tops that can go from day to night will really save you space in your luggage. Flowy tank tops and bandeaus are your best bet!
Down by the ocean can get pretty windy, so prepare to hold your hair back with scrunchies or bandanas! Anything that helps keep your hair out of your face will be essential.
If you’re in a beach town with things to do other than hang out in the sand, you’ll want a cute and comfy pair of sneakers to walk around in! I wore mine out to a local farmer’s market and coffee shop.
And that’s my top 10! Here’s a full list of everything you’ll need:
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments, and have a great time on your vacation!
P.S. Heading to St. Augustine or somewhere similar? Check out my recap posts from spring break 2019 to see what we did on our trip!
New Year’s Eve is fast approaching, and for most of us over 21, that means a champagne toast is on the way as well! But bottles of bubbly can be expensive- and if you’re the host of your New Year’s Eve soirée, even just a couple of bottles for your guests can easily take a toll on your wallet.
Luckily, they don’t have to! Between myself and my (very cooperative) family members, we taste-tested and judged 3 budget-friendly bottles: all from Walmart, and all under $10. (Did you hear that? I think it was your credit card breathing a huge sigh of relief.) I also made sure they were all of the extra dry variety, just for consistency.
All 3 champagnes were judged appearance, their “bubbly factor”, their taste, and the overall rating (in case you have one category you’re partial to). Each champagne got very high and very low scores in each categories, but I have averaged all the votes so it’s easy to tell the results. If you’re interested in the voting breakdown, you can find the individual ratings here.
So, without any further ado, let’s get right into the reviews!
A good portion of the room preferred Cook’s over the other brands. However, it tended to be the parents in the room compared to the Gen-Zs. It received the second highest average score overall. It scored the highest in terms of appearance and how bubbly it was, but scored the lowest for taste.
No one preferred Barefoot over the other brands, which surprised me because the bottle said it was “most awarded,” and it was also the most expensive (if only by $1.) For being such an iconic brand in terms of cheap wine, I thought it would do better. It scored the lowest in almost every category, but it’s average score never dipped below 5, so it’s still decent.
André was very polarizing. It had a lot of very high votes and very low votes, but still managed to come out on top for taste and overall. This was also the brand preferred by the Gen-Zs in the room.
While all the bottles were tasty, my personal favorite was André! At $4.98, you just can’t beat the price. If you need affordable champagne for your NYE party (or really any other occasion that calls for it), this is certainly my recommendation!
If you ever want to have your own champagne taste-test, this is the card I handed out to everyone!
Do you have any favorite bottles of affordable champagne? Please don’t hesitate to let me know- I’m always open to trying a new brand!
Since health and fitness have recently become large priorities in my life, I knew that I would need to find a fitness studio for my summer in Austin. After some extensive research, I found Todd Pilates and Barre, and bought their “Unlimited Monthly” plan without even taking a class.
This was a risky move on my part, but it paid off. The classes quickly became my favorite part of my week, and when I was at full-health, I strived to be in the studio 4-5 times a week.
Here’s my top 5 reasons for why you should try out Todd Pilates and Barre, too!
1. It’s a serious full-body workout
They claim to be a full-body workout, and they mean it. Both pilates and barre were working muscles I didn’t even know I had- after my first pilates class, I couldn’t walk normally for 48 hours because I was so sore. My body quickly adjusted to the new paces I was putting it through, and I came to love the feeling of pushing my body to the limit. I am undoubtedly much stronger at the end of these three months. Before, I could barely do 2 pushups- now I can do the full 16 in Todd’s class!
2. PIlates classes with todd
Pilates classes with THE Todd of Todd Pilates is reason enough to give it a try. He loves to keep the class high-energy, and always picks an entertaining playlist to accompany the pilates moves. We regularly use all the props (which you don’t have to buy- you can use the ones in the prop room for free!) and every time I leave, I feel like the workout I’m getting is super diverse. Also, it’s just fun to see what hair color Todd is going to have next- he switches it up often!
3. uncensored hip-hop barre with holly
Holly’s daytime barre classes are great, too, but “Uncensored Barre” at 8:15 on Mondays were my favorite nights of the week. She uses this time to play more explicit tracks, similar to what you would hear if you were out at the club. Holly really encourages having fun and dancing- it is a barre class after all! She’s also really receptive to playlist requests. It made my whole week when I heard “No Hands” by Waka Flocka Flame on the track list!
Bonus: Barre really does give you a dancer’s body. I don’t have long legs naturally, but they look much longer after I lengthened and leaned out the muscles!
4. it’s completely inclusive
I see the whole range of ages and fitness levels every time I come to class. In my Tuesday/Thursday morning classes, I was regularly the youngest participant, but there were more young people in classes like Uncensored Barre and on the weekend. The instructors regularly demonstrate alternative moves for people with movement restrictions. This is super helpful, because it allows everyone to keep up and get a good workout!
5. They foster self-love
I don’t know what it is about barre and pilates, but they really make you focus inward (mentally and physically) if you want to get the most out of your classes. I regularly snagged a spot by the mirror, so a lot of my time was actually spent starting at myself. I loved watching my body move and seeing new muscles appear as I stared at myself in the mirror during workouts! Being able to watch your body get stronger and leaner really fosters an intense feeling of self-love, helped along by the relentlessly supportive instructors and staff. Getting feedback or being told that I did great that day brightened my whole week!
I’m so sad to be done at Todd Pilates and Barre for the time being. If I ever end up in Austin in the future, I can guarantee I’ll be back. I’ll miss ya, TPB! Thanks for a killer summer.
Happy August 1! If you’re like me, then you know that it’s also the first official day for the new Lilly Pulitzer academic agendas, which run August – July!
Since school is right around the corner, I wanted to spend some time talking about how I stay organized using my agenda. As a full-time student/part-time blogger, my time is really important to me. Because of my meticulous agenda skills, I’m able to make the most of it!
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s talk about what agenda I choose to use. For the past 4 years, I’ve been a Lilly Pulitzer agenda girl, and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Color coding is essential for me. With one glance, I can see everything on my list for the day, and where my priorities should be. I like to divide my colors up by class during the academic year. This is my color-coding system for fall 2019:
I’ve used the Paper Mate® Inkjoy ballpoint pens since I got to college, and those from the original pack are still going strong despite their heavy use. I don’t use black or brown in my agenda (the design is too bright for bland colors) and I don’t use orange. On principle.
Stickers are the fun part! Beyond getting to make my space colorful with ballpoint pens, I also use bright stickers. I use stickers mainly on the monthly spread pages, since they’re able to give me a quick run-down of my most important events for the upcoming month.
I also try to make them related to the activity I’m scheduling- footballs for football games, music notes for band-related events, roses for sorority events, and little cameras for things I had to do as historian. For other important events without a specific set of stickers, I usually used stars!
It used to be hard for me to easily distinguish between things that were on my schedule and things just on my to-do list. Now, I use triangles to designate things with a certain time (ex. “Brunch w/ Lexi @ Neighborhood Jam @ 10:30”) vs things I just have to do that day (ex. “Go grocery shopping”). Here’s an example week from September of last year that shows these symbols in action! (Bonus incentive to use symbols: checking them off is so satisfying!)
Write it down. Write everything down. I don’t care if you think you’re going to remember something- write it down anyways.
Make sure your agenda has your name, phone number, and email inside! I’ve never lost mine- knock on wood– but if I did, I would want someone to be able to contact me and get it returned ASAP.
Use a paper clip at the top of your current week so you can easily flip what to what day it is. No more scrambling to find the correct day when your professor is giving out the homework instructions!
Is there anything I didn’t cover? I would love to answer any of your unanswered, burning questions- leave a comment down below or shoot me an email!
Some of my college friends came down to Austin this weekend to visit me, and I knew there was a lot of pressure to come up with the perfect itinerary. They only had a little less than 48 hours here, so making good use of our time was crucial. Our dinner stop, the first item on the itinerary, had to be super great to set the tone for the rest of the trip.
After some deliberation, I decided we would go to The Oasis on Lake Travis. This multi-tiered restaurant is nestled high in the hills of Austin, overlooking Lake Travis. The altitude and western-facing disposition lends itself perfectly to beautiful sunset photos as you eat dinner on one of its many outdoor patios. My friends hadn’t looked up our destination before we headed out, so they were pretty shocked by the grandeur of it all as we pulled up.
We were seated immediately, since we were willing to sit outside despite the heat. I got a classic frozen margarita, perfect for keeping me cool on the hot summer evening!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a notorious picky eater. When menus are somewhat limited, sometimes I have to get creative with my ordering. I chose fajitas, with just the fillings. My waitress was nice enough to put all the ingredients in separately to save me some money! (They ended up being less like fajitas and more like DIY soft tacos. No complaints, though. Everything was super good, especially the cheese!)
By the time we finished eating, we were able to wander around the different levels and take in the breathtaking sunset. Golden hour came in clutch for our mandatory “horns down” photo. Boomer!
As we left the Oasis, we drove back down the mountain just as the sunset was hitting its peak. Since it is pretty secluded, we were able to put our hazards on and slow down for a second to soak in the view one last time. Just as we were about to round the corner and put Lake Travis out of sight, the sun sank down behind the horizon entirely and the sky went dark. We truly timed our drive perfectly!
Overall, this is a perfect tourist destination for people visiting Austin! It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s worth it. Being able to spend time with my friends with the bonus of an incredible view made it the perfect start to our girls’ weekend!
This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Memories in Dallas! Museum of Memories is a quirky, nostalgic, Instagram-lover’s heaven. It’s completely inspired by scenes of the 90s and 00s, and has the playlist to match. I went with my friend Jaya and had such a fun time exploring the different rooms and being reminded of my childhood. I’m excited to share my favorite photos with y’all!
Jaya and I both loved the monochromatic dollhouse rooms. Jaya was partial to the kitchen (“I just love kitchens!” -Jaya) and we spent a good bit of time here. I loved the turquoise living room, complete with a corded telephone. They also had an all-turquoise Connect Four and chess set!
Next up, the cloud room. I had seen this one floating around Insta and was excited to see it for myself. It’s actually a lot harder to pose with clouds than you might think! They’re fluffy and glowing, so deciding the best way to photograph one was a bit of a challenge. I love the one of me hugging one! Truly a childhood dream, fulfilled. (On the way home, I couldn’t resist pointing at the clouds in the sky and remarking “we took pictures with those.” Jaya was only partially amused.)
My favorite room was the diary-inspired room! I had several diaries throughout my youth, so this was particularly nostalgic for me. I especially loved the Mean Girls reference with “That’s so fetch!” written on the pencil, although the pencil itself screamed “Clueless” to me as well.
The birthday room was also super cute! I loved the four-tier cake, complete with a plethora of birthday candles. To get some candid laughter, Jaya made sure to reference a joke from our high school days. No fake laughter required to get a super cute shot!
Since MoM is 90s/00s themed, they couldn’t have enough Mean Girls references! The monochromatic “you can’t sit with us” mural was the perfect excuse for Jaya and I to whip out our best RBF. (Are we intimidating yet?)
I’m a sucker for good Insta content, so this outing was the perfect afternoon adventure! If you’re in the Dallas area, I highly recommend giving this place a visit before it leaves at the end of the summer. All the artwork is hand-painted and is just as stunning in person! Make sure you go online to their website and buy your tickets in advance.
If you end up going, I would love to see your shots! Tag me or hashtag #selfiesandootds so I can see your take on the fun themes.
I’ve never had the chance to go to Australia, but I got to taste a little bit of it this weekend at The Aussie Grind in Frisco! My dad and I are always looking for new quirky breakfast spots to try, so when we found out about a new Australian-style brunch place that had just opened near our house, we knew we needed to check it out.
My dad and I both like coffee, so we decided to try a flat white– a style of coffee that originated in Australia. Since The Aussie Grind is authentically Australian (the owners moved to Texas from Australia in 2018), we knew that this was the perfect place to put flat white coffee to the test.
Verdict: it was so tasty! The presentation was beautiful and it tasted good, too. Since I’m used to sweet coffee, I made it about halfway through before adding sugar packets in. (Oops!)
I soon found out that Australian food is similar to American food, but with a twist. Being who I am, I decided to get the Avo Smash– a proclaimed “staple” on their menu. I thought it was super interesting that they served the avocado toast on sourdough bread. I’m used to eating my avocado toast on plain white bread, so the sourdough definitely elevated it a bit. I might have to get some sourdough at Trader Joe’s once I get back to Austin and try to make Avo Smashat home! Also, I’m not sure what they did to those scrambled eggs, but they were amazing– seriously some of the best eggs I’ve ever had.
By the time we left, I was riding a super strong caffeine/sugar high from that flat white coffee. The Aussie Grind has tons of other interesting options on their menu, so I want to come back next time I’m in town and see what else they have to offer! I tried my dad’s Breakfast Gnocchi, and that was top-tier as well. The Hotcakes intrigue me, but might be best saved for a day when dessert-for-breakfast sounds appealing (it’s pancakes served with cotton candy and vanilla ice cream!)
If you’re in the Frisco area looking for a fresh take on American brunch food, I highly recommend The Aussie Grind. They’re only open for breakfast and lunch, though, so plan to go early!