Valentine’s Gift Guide for Him

My husband and I really don’t go crazy with Valentine’s Day. Honestly, our favorite day is the day after Valentine’s Day because we go to the stores and get all of the candy and chocolate on sale! Nonetheless, we still try to do a little something for each other for Valentine’s Day. For whatever reason, I always get so nervous and overwhelmed shopping for my husband because I want to get him the perfect gift. If you’re anything like me, hopefully this gift guide will be helpful or give you some ideas of your own!

1. Neck Ties

It may seem like a no-brainer, but neck ties are always a great gift for your guy! Mike has to wear suits quite a bit and he loves to dress up, so I always like to find fun but classic ties for him to wear. I love these ties from Kiel James Patrick! They’re made from silk and are sure to make your gentleman stand out!

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2. Tie Case

A tie case is the perfect gift to pair with a neck tie. I think it’s a great gift because it will give your guy a place to neatly keep his tie while traveling. Brooks Brothers has several options for tie cases!

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3. Toiletry Bag

I suppose I always have traveling on my mind. A great gift for any guy (traveling or not) is a good toiletry bag to keep all of his colognes, moisturizers, hair products, etc. Mark and Graham have a great selection of toiletry bags and travel pouches. Also, you can get them monogrammed!


4. Tie Clip

Another tie-related gift is a tie clip. There are actually some pretty unique and creative tie clips that will make your man stand out (and will always make him think of you!). You can find a ton of these on Etsy!

5. Watch

A great go-to for a gift for guys is a watch. I really love the styles from MVMT. They have a lot of classic styles, but they also have a bunch of modern styles as well! Be sure to use the code THECLASSYACADEMIC for 15% off of your purchase!

I hope that you find this helpful! Happy Valentine’s Day!




Road Trip to Lincoln, Nebraska

Last week my husband and I took a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska to visit his family who moved there recently. I thought it would be fun to write about our very first experience in the Midwest and our very LONG, 18 and a half-hour journey it took to get there and back…

First, we made the unfortunate decision to drive the 18.5 hours from Tallahassee, FL to Lincoln, NE. Flights were so expensive last minute and we (mistakenly) thought that driving there wouldn’t be so bad. We got off to a slow start because we had to run a few errands and drop the dogs off at boarding before we could even begin our trip. Once we were on the road, we couldn’t even make it an hour on the road before we had to stop. We went through the charming, small town of Whigham, GA and found a little café, aptly named the Whigham Café. Everyone was so friendly, and the food was great for lunch. Mike is still talking about how good the fried okra was and I, admittedly, can’t stop thinking about how I want some more of their fried pickles.

With food in our bellies, we were SURE to be on our way with no more excuses. Our drive up through nearly the entire state of Alabama and across Mississippi was very long and uneventful. We thought that Memphis would be a good place to stop for the night, so we made it our goal to get there in time for the National Championship game. We wanted to go to a neat BBQ place or bar to hang out in to watch the game, but we got in too late and ended up watching the game in the hotel room. Sorry we missed you Memphis, but we hope to be back soon.

The next day, we got up very early and began to drive the remaining 10 and a half hours from Memphis to Lincoln. We left Memphis with only a cup of coffee from the hotel lobby but made it all the way through the Ozarks in Arkansas, which by the way is very pretty, before we stopped for breakfast at the Ozark Café in West Plains, Missouri. This place was your typical hometown café. In fact, we were there the Rotary Club was having their monthly breakfast meeting. The coffee was hot, the food was good, and everyone was SO nice. At the time we didn’t know it, but we had officially had our first interaction with people in the Midwest. One of the best things I think we could say about the Midwest is that everyone (at least everyone we encountered) was so friendly and nice.

Our next goal was to make it to Kansas City, because several people on Instagram recommended that we should stop at Jack Stack BBQ. I’m so glad that we stopped in because it was absolutely delicious. The BBQ was absolute tops and I couldn’t get enough of the cornbread. Mike ended up getting what he considers to be the most Midwestern dish you could think of—cheese corn, or as the menu called it, “Cheesy Corn Bake”. If you haven’t had or seen this before, I’m sure you’re thinking the same thing we did, that this was going to be something with corn on the cob and cheese. Instead, what was brought to us was a bowl of cheese sauce with some corn. Our waitress and the table next to us swore by it and it actually ended up tasting pretty good. Mike is still cracking up at the thought of cheese corn. Afterwards, we got back on the road and finally made it to Lincoln that late evening.

Before I get into our experience in Lincoln, I should mention that we packed like fools for this trip. Mike and I are both from the Southeast, where cold to us is anything below 60. In fact, when we left, it was a glorious 70-something degrees. We quickly realized that we were underprepared for what I consider the most frigid cold I have ever been in. I’m so happy that we stopped at L.L. Bean in Kansas City to get some warm clothes. While in Lincoln, we wanted to check out the campus at University of Nebraska, the bars, and local restaurants. Our first stop was to visit the university and walk around. Did I mention that we packed like fools? After about 10 minutes of braving the cold and freezing our fingers off, we decided to get back in the truck and find a warm bar. Maybe we were being dramatic about the cold, because people on campus were wearing t-shirts, shorts, and sandals even though it was 30-ish degree weather. So began our bar-hopping. We started off downtown but realized that those bars are for undergrads and didn’t open until the afternoon. Our bartenders made a great list of bars that we needed to check out. If you are ever in Lincoln, I would recommend these places, too, so I’m going to highlight our favorites.

Lead Belly in the Hay Market District: We ended up going here several times while we were in Lincoln because we liked everything about it. It has a great vibe, great selection of drinks, and super nice people working there. They serve the best cider I have ever had called Curveball Cider from James Arthur Vineyards. Also, they have the best bloody Mary I have ever had. They make their tomato mix in-house and its absolutely delicious (I may have had several). The food here is great, too. They are best known for their Raspberry Beret, but I must say I really loved their Mac and Cheese.

Runza: Several people on Instagram recommended this place to us. Runza is a fast food restaurant in the area that serves local favorites. Our bartender at Lead Belly said that in schools in Nebraska, kids are commonly served chili and cinnamon rolls for lunch. These two together doesn’t sound like they would be, but I had to give it a try…and boy was I surprised. Also, you should try the beef and cabbage roll if you ever have the chance!

Le Cupcake: I am always searching for the best macarons while I travel. This place popped up and they didn’t have the best macarons, but they made up for it with their amazing cupcakes. I believe this shop was featured on that show Cupcake Wars. If you have a chance, stop by for a very tasty dessert!

The Oven: The entire time we were there, everyone kept recommending to us The Oven, an Indian restaurant. With our expectations high and our bellies ready for some food, we checked it out the last night we were in town. Unfortunately, the poor service we had really took away from our experience. The service was very slow, the food came out somewhat cold, and our server was very inattentive. Aside from that, the flavor of all the food was definitely there. I believe if it had been served hot and if the service was better, everything would have been great! I definitely want to give it another shot.

Blue: Excellent quality sushi!

Engine House: Great breakfast!

Jack’s Bar and Grill: Great dive bar!

Starlight Lounge: Best martinis I have ever had!

The Mill: Excellent place to grab a cup of coffee

Jake’s Cigars & Spirits

The Watering Hole

Our last night in town a huge snow storm came through. The next day we played in the snow and took pictures before we started our 18 and a half hour drive back. The snow was so lovely and a perfect end to our trip. Driving in the snow wasn’t the most fun, but we still enjoyed seeing it. Thanks for reading about our experience driving to Lincoln!





New Year, New Beginnings

I was thinking of writing a post that reflects on 2018, but honestly It went by so fast and was such a blur. 2018 was the first year of my blog and I have had such a blast with The Classy Academic. 2019 is here now and I must say that the excitement of things to come this year has made me not want to rehash 2018. That’s not to say that the things that happened this past year weren’t important, but more-so 2019 will mark several major milestones in my life.

In 2019, I will finally graduate with my Ph.D., will be turning 30 years old, and will have my first “big girl” job. Besides the getting older part, I will finally be able to say that I have accomplished the goals that I have been working so hard at attaining all of these years. I have so much to look forward to and be thankful for in 2019 and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for the new year.

At the new year we always want to have our New Year’s resolutions. For me, I just want to be more in the moment and appreciate life’s opportunities more than I do already. I want to be more patient with myself, others, and life in general. I want to better demonstrate kindness to others, especially to those who have been my cheerleaders all of these years and show them how much their support has meant to me. Above all, I want to practice praying with my husband more and give thanks for our opportunities, our health, our safety, and pray to continue to have faith that everything happens for a reason.

I really appreciate all of the support over this past year with The Classy Academic and I can’t wait to share more with you in 2019!



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


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!



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!



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!




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.



Paint (acrylic)

Paint pens



Plastic paint primer

ModPodge or sealant

Newspaper with dark images or carbon paper


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!


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


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).


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.


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!


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.


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!