Blog, Life, Style

Hosting a Tree-Trimming Party

It really is the most wonderful time of the year. There is so much joy in the air and love to go around. My favorite part about the holiday season is seeing all of the bright decorations and, of course, the holiday styles. Hosting a tree-trimming party is the best way to get the best of both things!

As a hostess or a guest, to me the most important part is the holiday party outfit. There are so many styles and looks to combine with the different colors and prints of the holiday season, so you really can’t go wrong! If you are hosting a party or attending a semi-formal or formal party, it’s best to go with a classy outfit. This dress from London Times is absolutely perfect for such an occasion. The silhouette is timeless, the length is just right, the neckline is classic and sexy (but not too revealing), and the bow detail is adorable and brings the whole dress to another level. I paired it with a simple pearl necklace and bracelet from Kiel James Patrick and some nude heels. If I had a pair of heels that were sparkly or had an embellishment on it, I would have worn that!

A tree-trimming party is the fastest way to get your decorations us while spending time with your family and friends. Before the party go ahead and string lights on the tree. For the party, set a basket of ornaments around the tree so your guests can add them to the tree gradually throughout the party. Also, prep a bowl of popcorn and cranberries so you and your guests can string them together for garland. Another great idea for a tree-trimming party is to have a cookie decorating table. Go ahead and bake different cookies before the party, then set out icing and sprinkles for your guests. Or ask guests to bring some cookies and serve those as desserts.

No party is complete without food, drinks, and music. For such a party, since people will be moving around a lot it may be best to have finger foods set out such as a cheese ball, deviled eggs, different dips, a charcuterie board, or pigs in a blanket. For drinks, I like to serve wassail (recipe below) or poinsettias (champagne and cranberry juice). Turn on the holiday music and you have yourself a fun holiday party and tradition to celebrate every year!

Wassail Punch

Ingredients:

2 qts apple cider

2 cups pineapple juice

2 cups orange juice

1/2 cup of brown sugar

15-20 cloves stuck in an orange

Orange slices

4 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp allspice

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a large Crockpot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil then let it simmer for about 3-4 hours. At this point I usually start tinkering with the recipe to get it to taste “just right” but adding more sugar, spices, or juice. Drink it as it is or serve with bourbon or vodka. Garnish with a cinnamon stick, cranberries, and orange slice. Enjoy!

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Kelly

Blog

College Prep: Managing Projects and Studying

Around mid- to late-semester is when projects and exams begin to pile on, and this can be very overwhelming and stressful to deal with. In this post I will talk about strategies that have been helpful for me to manage everything and not lose my head (completely). Even if you’re not in college, I think these tips can be helpful for anyone who has a lot on their plate.

1. Create a “Pipeline”

It wasn’t until I was nearly finished with my masters that one of my supervisors introduced the metaphor of thinking of your work in terms of a pipeline. Just having a mental representation of what stage my work was at, where things maybe “clogging” the pipeline, and how I could move things along in the pipeline was very helpful to me. So what I do is I make a list of things that I have on my plate. Let’s make up an example… Say you have:

  1. Exam in Class 1
  2. Exam in Class 2
  3. Paper in Class 3
  4. Paper in Class 4
  5. Presentation in Class 5

Whew, that’s a lot of stuff on your plate! Now, list when everything is due….

  1. Exam in Class 1 Due 11/23
  2. Exam in Class 2 Due 12/4
  3. Paper in Class 3 Due 11/30
  4. Paper in Class 4 Due 12/7
  5. Presentation in Class 5 Due 12/11

And then put those in order….

  1. Exam in Class 1 Due 11/23
  2. Paper in Class 3 Due 11/30
  3. Exam in Class 2 Due 12/4
  4. Paper in Class 4 Due 12/7
  5. Presentation in Class 5 Due 12/11

The key to managing your pipeline is to go ahead and start working on things gradually. The worst thing you can do is start on everything at once and “clog” your pipeline. So, go ahead and make an outline for that first exam. That’s your first step in your pipeline. Once you have that done, go ahead and make an outline for your paper that is due, and find the information that you will need for that. Then go back to your first exam and start studying on that. Once you feel like you’re in a good spot and have moved that down your pipeline a little bit, go ahead and start preparing for the 2nd exam. Do you understand what I doing here? It’s just gradually starting on things and moving them down the line so you aren’t focused on one thing and you are managing and preparing for future tasks.

2. Make a Weekly and Daily “To-Do” List

In most of my posts I talk about how planning and scheduling will help you to stay on top of your life. It always helps me to look at my planner and write down everything that needs to be accomplished that week and when. I also make a daily “to-do” list to help me keep on top of everything.

3. Schedule Breaks

For every hour that you work, be sure to schedule a 10-15 minute break to yourself to stretch, check your phone, call your mom, go on Pinterest, check your Instagram, or anything else to take things off of your mind. It is so important to take a break, but just be sure that you get back on task!

4. Schedule Meals and Eat Healthy

When you’re in the groove of studying or working, you sometimes lose track of time. Be sure that you schedule in time to eat. This will also serve as a time to take a break and relax your brain a little bit. But it is so important that during these high-stress times that you eat healthy meals. It’s so convenient and satisfying to just eat comfort food during this time, but you should fuel your body with good food to have a sharp mind. Bring healthy snacks to the library or keep some near your desk.

5. Get Some Rest

Along with scheduling your meals, make sure that you are getting good sleep. Be aware of how long you have been working and know when it is time to call it quits for the night. Staying up late and cramming is never a great idea. Set a time for yourself for when to stop studying or working and then get up the next day and continue. This will help you study your best and have quality work!

6. Avoid Distraction

I think this is probably the most important tip I have. Turn your phone on vibrate or silent and put it away! Try to avoid online shopping, Pinterest, or any other online habits you may have while trying to study. Find the best environment for you to do you work in (everyone is different!). I like to study and work alone from home with the TV or music on in the background, while others like to study and work together in groups in the library. Find what is best for you, but do not let things distract you! Like I said before, take a break in your schedule to allow time to be distracted by things, then get back to work!

I really hope you find these tips to be helpful and that you can use some of them. I am really interested to hear what some of you do to manage your time, projects, and studies. Good luck!

Cheers,

Kelly

Blog, Life, Travel

Weekend Trip: Philadelphia

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to present a poster at the Society for Research in Child Development Special Topics Meeting held in Philadelphia. Although I accidentally printed my poster with the wrong title (WHOOPS! and SOO embarrassed!), I still learned so much from the conference and made some great connections. We first visited Philly last year when we won tickets to the Army Navy game and did all of the tourist stuff then. This time, we were able to venture out and check out all of the cool local favorites.

Thursday night we grabbed a quick bite to eat at Cleaver’s. It’s a small bar that serves great cheesesteaks. Last time we were in Philly we overdid it on the cheesesteaks, so this time we told ourselves that we would only have one.

For lunch on Friday we went to Monk’s Cafe, a restaurant/bar that has been open for more than 20 years and prides itself on serving world-class beers. We did some reading and all signs pointed to Monk’s! We tried the Monk’s mussels which were divine. They were steamed in beer, garlic, and parsley. These were the basic recipe, and we hope to go back and try the others. Also, the fries were ridiculously delicious! My absolute favorite was the Gaffel Kolsch beer. If you are able to buy this anywhere I highly recommend it!

Friday night we went to see a string quartet and before we stopped at Mac Mart. This restaurant started off as a food truck and due to its popularity they decided to open a flagship store. Let me tell you all…this place was TOPS. The mac and cheese here is probably the best I have ever had and definitely will make you super happy! We got the “In the Buff” which was their classic mac topped with buffalo chicken chunks, potato chip panko crunch, and Pam Pam’s Buttermilk Ranch. If you have a chance and need a quick bite to eat, I HIGHLY recommend stopping here!

Saturday morning we ventured over to Drexel University’s campus to grab breakfast at Sabrina’s Cafe. Several people recommended going here on my Instagram and on Reddit, so we knew we had to check it out. We got the Stuffed Challah French Toast (hands down the BEST french toast I have ever had) and Eggscellent Mexi Special. We left there happy and full. We could have easily taken a nap after eating here, but we had a full day of exploring ahead of us.

My favorite thing we did was walk over to University of Pennsylvania’s campus. It was SO gorgeous! The buildings were so pretty and the campus was lovely! Afterwards we took a train to Chestnut Hill because there was a Witches and Wizards festival happening. It was so fun to see all of the kids and everyone dressed up in Harry Potter costumes. The neighborhood of Chestnut Hill was SO charming and I could totally see ourselves living there one day.

To cap off our day, we headed over near Fish Town to check out The Philadelphia Brewing Company and Tired Hands Brewing Company. Both of these places had great beer and a great atmosphere! I highly recommend checking out these local businesses!

We seriously cannot wait to head back to Philly to check out more neighborhoods and local shops. If you have any recommendations for our next trip, let me know!

Cheers!

Kelly

Blog

DIY Painted Cooler

Pinterest Cooler

I have made a post on how to make a painted cooler before (check it out here!) but I figured I should update the post and tutorial! In college, if you’re invited to a social it’s tradition to make your date a painted cooler. I made my husband a cooler in my first tutorial and he absolutely loved it! But you can paint a cooler for ANY occasion! In this tutorial I made cooler for my friend’s birthday. Also, I had help from our dog Sutton making this cooler (he’s in the background of all of the pics!)

Here are the pics of my husband’s cooler!

Here are a list of the materials that you will need, but I must say that the most important thing you will need is TIME. It takes a lot of prep and drying time if you want a great cooler that will last and stand against scratches.

Materials:

Cooler

Paint (acrylic)

Paint pens

Spackling

Sandpaper

Plastic paint primer

ModPodge or sealant

Newspaper with dark images or carbon paper

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The first thing you need to do is to peel off all of the stickers on your cooler. Next, sand the entire cooler down. It’s much easier if you have an electric sander, but you can definitely do it by hand. The purpose of sanding down the cooler is so that the paint will stick to it. There is a shiny coat on the cooler which makes it easy for the paint to scratch off. Trust me, this step is very essential!

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Once you have it sanded down, it will be quite dusty. So, take a damp rag and wipe down the surface of the cooler.

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Next, fill any logos or indentures with the spackling. Take a putty knife and fill them in and smooth it over. You will need to let it dry according to the package (I believe it’s 12-24 hours).

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After it has dried, sand the putty down by hand to make it smooth. It’s a good idea to wipe it down again with a rag.

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Now, using plastic primer, spray over the entire cooler. This will give you a clean canvas to work on. Also, this will help to make your work stick!

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Once the primer dries, it’s time to start painting! It’s a good idea to go ahead and figure out what you are going to put on your cooler. If there are some logos that you want to have JUST right print those out on the computer. I free-handed a lot of sides on this cooler, but it’s a good idea to sketch it out on paper and then transfer it to the cooler.

You can transfer your images or sketches by placing it on top of newspaper. It’s best to use carbon paper, but if you don’t feel like going to the store, newspaper is your next best bet. (It’s best to cut out a section of the paper that has a lot of black ink on it like a picture) I taped it to the cooler and then traced and pressed down on it with a pen.

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Once you have all of your ideas and logos down, time to paint away! It’s best to use paint pens for lettering and outlining! I’m quite impatient, so I use a hair dryer to help speed up the process!

Also, every time you finish painted a section or side, I would HIGHLY recommend lathering it with mod podge. This will help your work STAY and reduce the risk of it getting scratched!

Use every inch of the cooler that you can! Paint something creative on the corners and along the edges!

For this cooler I painted the handle in glitter gold. If you do this, make a base coat of regular gold with gold spray paint, THEN spray over with the glitter gold. Seal the glitter with a sealant or ModPodge

To finalize the cooler, coat the cooler in ModPodge or sealant to assure that your hard work doesnt scratch off!!

I’m so proud of the finished cooler!

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Blog

3 Looks & 1 Dress by London Times

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I am so excited to write this post! The awesome team at London Times reached out to me to do a partnership with them. I had to choose from several of their amazing dresses (it was so hard) and I chose the Parker Shift Dress. In this post I show you 3 different ways on how to style it!

Now this dress is so versatile and absolutely PERFECT for fall. I love the bell-sleeve details on it. It is also SUPER soft! I can’t express how soft this dress is! For the first look, I went with a casual-everyday look. I just simply paired the dress with some jewelry from KJP and some Frye boots.

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Dress: London Times | Necklace: KJP | Bracelet: KJP | Ring: KJP | Boots: Frye

For the next look, I styled the dress for a work/business look. This was pretty simple and I accomplished this by wearing some pointed-toe heels and wearing a belt around my waist. I absolutely love this look for the office and I have gotten so many compliments on the dress already!

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Dress: London Times | Necklace: KJP | Shoes: Jessica Simpson

For the last look, I styled the dress for a date night look. I wore a jean jacket over it and paired it with some ankle booties from Toms. My husband took these pics, and he kept complimenting how well the outfit looked for a date night. It’s cute, dressy, and comfortable!

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Dress: London Times | Necklace: KJP | Booties: TOMS

I absolutely love this dress and I love how versatile it is. Thank you again to the amazing team at London Times for considering me for this partnership!

Cheers!

Kelly

Blog

Happy Queen Bee Day!

Today is my best friend’s birthday so I decided to dedicate a blog post to her and our friendship. As most of you know by now, Hailey and I met through our dogs’ Instagram pages. We both had crazy GSP puppies and desperately needed a play date. Cotton and Bendel instantly fell in love with each other, and Hailey and I found out that we have more things in common than we’d like to admit. Thus began the start of our squad and our amazing friendship. I’m so happy Hailey and Bendel came into my life. We have been there for each other every step of every day and most importantly, we got through the puppy stage together! Without her I’m not sure what I would have done!

What really makes me proud to be Hailey’s friend is that she is the most caring, focused, and driven person who always goes above and beyond and exceeds expectations at pretty much everything. Hailey is such an amazing person and friend in so many ways. I truly value her being in my life, always having my back, and keeping me on track. Best of all, she shares a love for food (especially BBQ) and always makes sure that I eat. We literally talk all day every day and call each other whenever there is even the slightest inconvenience in our lives. We support each others’ shopping problem even when we know we shouldn’t be buying things. She also shares a love for all things preppy and macarons.

I am so blessed to have such an amazing best friend! And I wish nothing more than the happiest and most amazing birthday a girl could ever have for Hailey! Cheers to 24! Check out our pics below!

Cheers!

Kelly

Blog, College Prep

College Prep: Shopping & Eating Healthy

College students encounter many responsibilities, expectations, and challenges on a daily basis. All of this can make It quite difficult for college students to practice and maintain healthy choices. However, making conscious efforts to practice healthy habits will help to ward off the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen” and have an overall happy and healthy well-being.  In this post I will share basic tips for college students on how to practice shopping and eating healthy.

Shopping Healthy:

In college, your budget may be a bit small for grocery shopping. However, if you nourish your body with good foods, then you won’t have to spend as much money in the long run on junk foods which just make you even more hungry or sluggish. When you’re shopping, try to shop healthy. Make it easy for yourself to eat right by purchasing healthy food options. It’s okay to splurge on a few of your favorite unhealthy snacks but try to limit it to just one or a few.

If you haven’t seen the documentaries Fed Up and Food, Inc. I HIGHLY recommend checking those out. I think you can watch them on Netflix, but you may be able to find them for free online. The reason I suggest watching these is because they really go in-depth about consumer trends in the US and how they have had an effect on our health. The biggest takeaway from these is to become conscious of how much sugar is in your food. Sugar is pretty much a drug and it is hidden in so many foods. The way that sugar works is that it tricks your brain into thinking that it is full, but then a little while later you’re hungry again. So, just because on the package it says, “low fat” or “organic”, it still may not be good for you because it is loaded with sugar. So next time you’re shopping check out how much sugar is on the label—it will probably shock you! There are some cereals that have more sugar in one serving than a can of soda! Just being aware of what goes into your body and its effects can influence the way that we shop.

Eating Healthy:

When we are at home with our family, we are quite spoiled by the good food that is prepared. In college we don’t really have that luxury which makes it hard to resist eating out and eating unhealthily. Eating out is a budget buster AND a belly buster. Having a healthy diet can help to boost your immune system, maintain a healthy weight, and improve your overall health. So, here are a few tips for eating healthy:

  • Learn proper portion size: Remember that moderation is key for anything in your life. This is especially true for food. It is quite easy to mindlessly eat while studying or binge-watching Netflix. So, try to become more aware of and track how much you are eating. You can eat too much of even the healthiest of foods. Just keep in mind that moderation, variety, and balance are essential to staying healthy! Which leads me to my next tip…
  • Snacking: Snacking throughout the day can be a great way to monitor and keep your appetite in check throughout the day. It can always stop you from mindlessly eating or eating for comfort. I tend to eat several small meals throughout the day (essentially, I just graze and snack all day). It is important to not skip meals throughout the day so that you can keep your energy and attention.
  • Meal/snack prep: To make things even simpler for yourself, after you go shopping go ahead and portion out your snacks and meals. Fill snack-size Ziploc bags with carrots or nuts so that you can just grab them on the way out. Having things already prepared will make you more likely to eat your healthy choices and avoid eating out.
  • Make an eating schedule: This may sound tedious, but it can be quite helpful. Typically, my daily diet goes like this: Glass of water, breakfast, (sometimes a mid-morning snack), light lunch (usually a salad), a smoothie around mid-afternoon, dinner, then a glass of water. This isn’t to say that I strictly follow this every day, but it helps me to have a routine and keep track of what I have consumed.
  • Learn to cook: Equip yourself with simple, cheap, and healthy recipes that you can cook yourself. Learning how to cook can be quite fun but more importantly, it’s great for your health and budget. On Pinterest you can find tons of quick and simple healthy recipes that will help you to stay track.
  • Invest in a blender: I have mentioned before that every day I drink a smoothie. This usually takes the place of a snack, but it is packed with a lot of veggies, nuts, and fruits. Making a smoothie everyday can be quite fun, but it is also quite nutritious. I used to buy fresh fruit prep my smoothies ahead of time, but that became very time-consuming. Now, I just buy frozen fruit and mix it in with a banana, juice or milk, spinach, and chia seeds.

Staying on top of your eating habits is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It will help you to have more energy and focus on your schoolwork. It is totally okay to indulge every now and then by eating out with friends or snacking on ice cream. The most important thing is to just try and be more aware of what you are eating and how much. Being mindful will help you to make better decisions!

Cheers!

Kelly