Make your bedroom a sanctuary-on a budget

Last night I was watching a television show called, “The Middle” in which the wife was expressing to her husband how she wanted to make their bedroom a sanctuary to escape from the rest of the chaos that surrounds their comedic family. This episode got me thinking, if anyone needs a bedroom sanctuary it’s a college student. It needs to be a place to escape the craziness of classes, meetings, and obligations. A normal bedroom is composed of 3 types of things: staples, necessities, and trinkets. While, the bedroom displays at IKEA can tempt you to purchase the entire room then and there, you can create your own unique “sanctuary” for much less than a mass-produced, cookie cutter room will cost you.

Staples (i.e. big furniture)

Bedroom staples for the average college include: a bed frame, mattress, desk, dresser, nightstand and bookcase. The total cost for these items from the popular IKEA malm collection is $648, not even including a mattress. Now pick up your jaw from the floor, because if you use the right tactics you can cut that price in half.

Antique dresser from the movie, "Beneath the Darkness."

Antique dresser from the movie, “Beneath the Darkness.”

1) Craigslist-Craigslist tends to get a bad rep, but most of the people selling furniture are people just like you. Take a friend with you to pick up an item and you’ll be fine. The secrets to wheeling and dealing on this site are to check regularly (people are constantly adding new items and they’ll be gone if you wait too long), send an email to everyone who is selling something you want (the majority of them won’t respond so better safe than sorry), and always make an offer before you agree to pay the posted price (people are usually willing to negotiate.) Sometimes you can even find super cool items! For example the dresser I have in my current bedroom was found on Craigslist and I later discovered that it was used in a movie set!

2) “Buy/Sell/Trade” or “Goods Exchange” Facebook pages– Many universities have Facebook pages that students have set up where anyone can post an item they would like to sell. During the summer months when leases are coming to an end, these pages become filled with every sort of furniture item imaginable-at rock bottom prices. Students often don’t want to deal with the hassle of moving furniture so this is a great alternative if you’re sketched out by Craigslist.

 

Necessities (i.e. sheets, bedding, desk chair, lamps)

Nicole Miller comforter from HomeGoods.

Nicole Miller comforter from HomeGoods.

1) HomeGoods– One thing you never want to purchase second-hand is bedding. HomeGoods has high-quality, trendy bedding for GREAT prices. White bedding is all the rage right now, and I was prepared to spend over $100 on a duvet cover at Target when I found at almost identical bedding set for $65 at HomeGoods. Plus the accent pillows are to die for. I’ve been searching for a tall leaning mirror forever, and I snagged one here for $35 as opposed to $100 everywhere else. FYI: Each store carries different items so you can’t shop online.

2) Kohl’s–  Do you know how much a good sheet set costs? I sure didn’t when I started buying items for my new apartment, and I was shocked when I found out how expensive they could be! But Kohl’s was my saving grace, because when they have a sale you can almost never beat their prices. Now, you can find quality sheets at both HomeGoods and Kohl’s but at Kohl’s I was able to snatch a sheet set for $32 when it was originally marked for $80. Can’t beat that.

3) Target– If you’re not looking for anything long-lasting, Target has a great selection of desk chairs and lamps that are ideal for a first apartment.

 

Trinkets (i.e. wall decor, frames, shelving decorations)

1) Goodwill– Thrifting is hip now right? You will find the most unique, one of a kind items at Goodwill. Especially if you’re looking to create a wall collage. The cost of buying new frames seems outrageous when you can by the same frames for $0.99 to $2.99 each at Goodwill. Plus sometimes you’ll stumble upon some treasure, like I have an original art piece framed in my room that I found for $1.99 at Goodwill. Obviously the artist didn’t make it big, but it beats a cliche black-and-white picture of the Eiffel tower.

IMG_2861

A little bit of southern charm.

2) Ross– These prices are even lower than HomeGoods and the selection is not bad at all. I had been wanting to get a wooden deer head to hang in my room, and everything I had found thus far was around $75. WAY out of my budget. Then at Ross I found the most adorable little deer head to set on my dresser for $16. It adds the look I was going for without breaking my budget. FYI: Just like HomeGoods, every store is different so you can’t shop online.

3) Antique shops– If you’re willing to spend a day, hunting for the perfect item then go antiquing! Antique shops have THE MOST original, conversation pieces you will hope to find. Not to mention, some of them are pieces of history. Antiquing is one of my favorite decoration techniques because you never know what you’ll find. I found a framed 1949 magazine cover featuring Elizabeth Taylor (I die.) at an antique shop called Dixie’s Den of Antiquities in a little Texas town and it’s the envy of all of my friends.

Best of luck creating your little sanctuary, make it an expression of yourself. Do you have any tips for decorating an apartment on a budget?

Advertisements

Get your daily dose of news.

Only 4 out of 10 young people read the news daily. A shockingly low statistic compared to the 62% of older Americans who do. You may not think events occurring halfway around the world are important, but your boss might. Young professionals start at the bottom of the totem pole, but if you are able to carry on a conversation about the crisis in Iraq you may just move up it a little faster.

Sometimes it can be hard to catch up on world events when you barely have time to manage what is going on in your own life. I have multiple news outlet apps downloaded on my phone, and honestly I only open them up when I am waiting in line at the grocery store when my Facebook and Twitter feeds won’t refresh. I was clueless about world events until I discovered the holy grail of news sources (for young people), it’s called theSkimm.

skimm-fb-logo-19c23b8c0af0ef529f99ac7f780dd074You sign up for theSkimm with your email address and every weekday morning you wake up to a concise summary of all the notable world events. This also includes big news in entertainment and sports. (Let me let you in on a little secret, I haven’t watched one game of the World Cup but I know enough to have a brief conversation with my supervisor after each match.) The email is short enough to read when you wake up, before you dive into work at your job, and even on the bus.

Caitlin Musselman of Tricom Associates gives 4 reasons why all young professionals should read the news:

  • Reading articles from different news sources will help you see different styles and perspectives
  • Reading the news will allow you to expand your horizons and learn more about current events
  • Reading newspapers allows you to form your own opinions on current events
  • Reading the nation’s top stories daily makes anyone in any industry better at what they do

Ramblings of a closet-feminist.

This post is unconventional for the style of this blog, but I feel it to be necessary.

Reese Witherspoon. Lauren Conrad. Laura Bush. What do all these women have in common? (Besides being beautiful, intelligent, and successful.) They are all considered feminists. *Gasp* Yes, I said the “f-word.” How dare I call these women such a derogatory term usually associated with “bra-burning, anti-shaving, aggressive” women. Well let me tell you, there is more than one face of feminism.

Let me preface the rest of this post by telling you a little bit more about myself. I grew up in a small (I mean very small) conservative southern town in northeast Texas. Based on the idea I had of feminism, I considered it an insult if someone called me a feminist. I refused to let myself be grouped together with this (incorrect) perception of vocal women of (what I understood to be) hippies that stood for things I strongly opposed. Then I came to college and over time my view changed. Much to my astonishment I discovered that you can’t look at someone and tell whether or not they’re a feminist. “Feminism” isn’t a hairstyle, choice of clothes, or anything you can see. It is the belief that women should be treated the same as men, especially at home and in the workplace.

The women I listed at this beginning of this post are 3 women I have always looked up too. They’re the epitome of classy, poised, and driven. Before coming to college I never would have called these women feminists, but guess what? They are. Chances are you are too and probably don’t know it yet. Let me explain.

 

Reese Witherspoon (before her unfortunate DUI incident) gave an amazing interview to Red magazine, and when asked if she considered herself to be a feminist she responded, “Absolutely, or course.” She reeled off some interesting statistics, “Even now, in America, a woman makes 87 cents to every dollar a man makes. If you’re a black woman, you make 75 cents. You’re a Latin woman, it’s 67 cents. And this is doing the same job. There is enormous inequality in pay and inequality in the workplace to this day.”

She also commented about how “ambitious” should not be a euphemism for “aggressive” when talking about a women and encouraged women to be proud of what they have done. “As women, we shrug and smile and say, “Oh… me?” because it makes it socially acceptable for us to be successful. ‘But there is a balance between being an arrogant jerk and being someone who is proud of their accomplishments. We need to let successful women show off and support them. Because men don’t spend any time putting themselves down. They don’t waste their breath. You have to be the best version of yourself and, if that means you have to be a bit self-promoting, then it’s okay. It really is. Because who’s going to believe in you more than yourself? Other than, maybe, your mother.” Smart girl.

Now to Lauren Conrad, if you haven’t heard, she put a skeevy radio host in his place when he asked her a loaded question in a recent interview hoping to get an embarrassing response from the young businesswoman. He asked, “What’s your favorite position?” and without batting an eye she said, “CEO.” Thank you Lauren for reminding us (as Katie Gonzalez of EliteDaily so eloquently put it) “It’s OK if you’d rather post up in the boardroom than lie flat on your back in the bedroom.”

And finally Laura Bush, a former First Lady. You may be thinking, “Okay, “First Lady” is just another term for “White House Homemaker” how can she be a feminist?” I’m sorry to blow your mind, but yes she is a feminist, and she’s pretty good at being one too. In 2012 she was awarded the Alice Paul Award, for her “commitment to education, health care and human rights.” The selection board applauded her for making an impact on women’s lives both at home and abroad. Further proof that even a philanthropic lifestyle for women who prefer to be homemakers are grounds for feminism. Also, I would just like to add that we are no longer living in the Victorian era. A woman’s place is not in the kitchen nor are women required to cater to a male’s every need. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Recent events in my life have prompted me to take a step back, stop fighting the term feminism, and instead embrace it. As a former Texas Capitol intern I was called “Sweetheart” and “Little Lady” regularly by representatives and male colleagues. Turns out this unacceptable treatment isn’t uncommon. At the time I was young and submissive, now I know it is okay to stand up for myself. So don’t be afraid to state your opinion because you’re a woman, don’t be afraid to be smarter than your male colleagues, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your goals. In the words of Elle Woods, “Speak up America. Speak up!”

Salt in the air. Sand in my hair.

College, when quick trips become the norm. Luckily, since I was young my parents have always had a knack for taking road trips on the whim. As a result I have an immense amount of experience perfecting everyone’s least favorite travel step….packing. In college I have travelled to multiple destinations in (usually) around 3 days, a.k.a a “quick trip.” With the summer months upon us I want to share what I pack on my weekend trips to the coast and some travel tips that will help you make the most of your time in the sun.

Must-pack:

May 2014 post-finals trip to South Padre Island

May 2014 post-finals trip to South Padre Island

  • 1-2 swimsuits – just make sure it makes you feel confident.
  • A Columbia Fishing shirt – Or killer cover-up
  • A Maxi Dress – Dress up you damp hair when you go to dinner.
  • A Cardigan – Midnight walks on the beach can be a little chilly.
  • 1 white tank top – white makes you look super tan.
  • 2 pairs of lightweight shorts – linen? cotton? whatever is equivalent to boxer shorts.
  • A pair of bohemian elephant pants – why not?
  • Cheap flip-flops – Hit up the Old Navy $1 flip-flop sale and stock up (rumor is June 28, 2014??)
  • A pair of neutral sandals – make sure they match everything.
  • A floppy hat – J. Crew does a great floppy hat, but on Etsy you can get one with your monogram for only $20
  • 1 beach towel – Obviously.
  • 1-2 books – Looking for a page turner?
  • earphones – Disclaimer: These will get sandy, leave your Beats at home.
  • Sunscreen – Don’t be “that girl.”
  • Aloe vera – If you happen to be “that girl.”
  • Cheap sunglasses – R.I.P. Ray-Bans from summer 2009
  • A cooler – Stay hydrated.
  • A resusible water bottle – plastic kills the sealife.
  • An oversize tote – that you don’t mind getting a little sandy

For those of you who are active in the water and on the sand (like me):

  • A soccer ball – You won’t look ridiclous playing by yourself,and you’ll tone your legs running on the uneven sand
  • A boogie board – I lasted for a total of 15 mins. before I had to go buy one from the nearest surf shop
  • A swimsuit that won’t fall off – it might look like a sports bra but it’s not going anywhere. Pricey but worth it.
  • Underwater disposable camera – SUCH a good investment.
  • A baseball cap – if you believe a floppy hat will fall off.
  • Croakies – Even if the sunglasses are cheap, losing them would still sting a little bit.

If you have room:

  • Beach chairs
  • Beach umbrella

On really hot summer days the sun can be almost too much to handle so sitting under an umbrella is a life saver, but sometimes the cost of renting a beach chair and an umbrella from the hotel or resort can be $25+. If you have the room, I suggest buying a cheap umbrella and chair before you hit the shore. I highly recommend Costco to pick up these items, they have a Tommy Bahama 7 ft. umbrella for $20 and you can a Tommy Bahama Backpack Cooler chair for $26. These are quality items that can keep you cool and last for numerous trips.

If you’re lucky enough to be at the beach, you’re lucky enough.

P.S. What happens in Cabo, stays in Cabo.

P.S.S. Never buy one of those trashy neon t-shirts they sell at EVERY beach store. #judging (Spring Break may be an exception)

Be a road trip hero.

Road trips in college: splitting the gas money, packing a backpack, staying in a cheap hotel, and taking an adventure. Except there’s one problem, who’s in charge of the music? Having the auxiliary chord plugged into your phone is a very high pressure situation. If you play something obscure everyone is going to judge you and if you even think about playing a musical soundtrack to pass the time, chances are someone will want to shoot you. Plus who has time to construct a sweet playlist? Personally my music library consists of country music and Top 40 hits, but country fans are hard to find and “Timber” can only play so many times. *Cue triumphant sound effect* Total Frat Move and Frat Music present “The 50 Greatest Blackout Sing-A-Longs” which, despite the name, is actually the ultimate road trip friendly playlist.

  1. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show
  2. Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
  3. Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
  4. Friends In Low Places – Garth Brooks
  5. Livin’ On A Prayer – Bon Jovi
  6. Piano Man – Billy Joel
  7. Take Me Home Tonight – Eddie Money
  8. Family Tradition – Hank Williams Jr.
  9. Dixieland Delight – Alabama
  10. Your Love – The Outfield
  11. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynard Skynard
  12. Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield
  13. The Road Goes On Forever – Robert Earl Keen
  14. Toes – Zac Brown Band
  15. If I Could Do It Again – Corey Smith
  16. Summer of ’69 – Bryan Adams
  17. Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
  18. Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band
  19. Free Bird – Lynard Skynard
  20. Rich Girl – Hall & Oates
  21. Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
  22. Callin’ Baton Rouge – Garth Brooks
  23. Afternoon Delight – Starland Vocal Band
  24. Free Fallin’ – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  25. Song Of The South – Alabama
  26. Fortunate Son – Creedance Clearwater Revival
  27. Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
  28. 5 O’Clock Somwhere – Alan Jackson
  29. Why Don’t We Get Drunk – Jimmy Buffett
  30. Pretty Good At Drinkin’ Beer – Billy Currington
  31. Mary Jane’s Last Dance – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  32. Take It Easy – The Eagles
  33. American Pie – Don McClean
  34. Pour Some Sugar On Me – Def Leppard
  35. Danger Zone – Kenny Loggins
  36. American Girl – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  37. Sorority Girls – Luke Bryan
  38. You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon
  39. Bama Breeze – Jimmy Buffett
  40. Casey Jones – The Grateful Dead
  41. More Than A Feeling – Boston
  42. F*** the Po Po – Corey Smith
  43. Just A Friend – Biz Markie
  44. Fishin’ In The Dark – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  45. Alcohol – Brad Paisley
  46. The Joker – The Steve Miller Band
  47. Boys From Oklahoma – Cross Canadian Ragweed
  48. Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
  49. Take My Drunk A** Home – Luke Bryan
  50. Santeria – Sublime

Now that you’ve got some hot new tunes loaded up on your phone, HAPPY ADVENTURIN’.

A How-To Guide to Surviving Hell Week.

Almost all college students have experienced those dreaded “hell weeks” when everything seems to hit at once. Suddenly everyone wants a meeting with you, all of your professors have decided to give you an exam, and sleeping and eating drop from your priority list. As a freshman I didn’t know how to tackle my first hell week. I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and scared to death but over the course of a few semesters I’ve adopted some necessary skills for survival.

1.Utilize your planner/agenda/Google Calender

Lilly Pulitzer planners are a popular trend among college women. (Source: www.pinkanchors.com)

Lilly Pulitzer planners are a popular trend among college women. (Source: http://www.pinkanchors.com)

Sunday morning during times like this is what I like to call “the calm before the storm.” I open my Google Calendar and schedule what needs to get done by the hour. Using this method gives me a timeline, it’s motivation to finish mytasks efficiently because I don’t want to get behind schedule.

Also we are only human so don’t feel like you have to get everything done. No one expects you to sacrifice your health to finish up a task that could be pushed back a week. I’ve adopted a method of sorting my tasks and obligations from Vett Vandiver author of the blog, The Real College Student of Atlanta. Vandiver categorizes what she has to do in 3 ways:

“Must do’s – non-negotiable priorities such as eating, sleeping, school assignments, studying, keeping in touch with family/friends, attending classes
Should do’s – important priorities such as attending social functions, appointments & meetings that can be reschedules
Could do’s – optional priorities such as attending non-mandatory social functions, social media, shopping”

In conclusion, however you choose to organize your time, whether it is through a google calendar or paper agenda, breaking down a busy week can make your workload appear less intimidating.

Out of sight, out of mind. Logging yourself out of social media will help you keep focus on the tasks at hand. (Source:http://i.perezhilton.com)

Actress Miley Cyrus is distracted by social media on the former Disney Channel show Hannah Montana. (That is my theory at least.) (Source:http://i.perezhilton.com)

2. Log yourself out of social media

During my most overloaded weeks I find myself on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter more often than normal because I want to escape reality for a little while. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole of pictures, posts, and tweets. Log yourself out, so if you subconsciously find yourself on the Facebook homepage you have to actively think about logging in before you can become engrossed in everyone else’s lives. If you have to check your social media daily limit your time online to thirty minutes to an hour.

3. Make time to sleep and eat!

Skip the junk food and reach for a healthy snack instead. (Source: www.interiors-designed.com)

Skip the junk food and reach for a healthy snack instead. (Source: http://www.interiors-designed.com)

I cannot stress how important sleeping and eating is during your busiest weeks. Skipping out on meals and rest can actually hinder your performance on an exam according to an article by medicalnewstoday.com. Also please remember that coffee is not a source of nutrition and excessive amounts of caffeine can actually make you feel more stressed out and anxious. If you do choose to indulge in a cup or cups of joe, then balance it out with water or tea.

Now don’t forget to eat either! I know when I dive into my work I sometimes forget about eating until my stomach growls and reminds me. So make sure to pack some snacks or study on campus with a place to grab a healthy meal nearby. Avoid eating greasy fast food if you can!

Finally, set a time for when you will go to bed. On my busiest weeks I try my best not to go to sleep after midnight because being tired will just slow me down when I try to get other things accomplished the next day.

Like the empowering musical number in Disney's Mulan suggests, be productive. (www.studentlife.ryerson.ca)

Like the empowering musical number in Disney’s Mulan suggests, be productive. (www.studentlife.ryerson.ca)

4. Plan ahead

When you see that your week is going to be busy, prepare for it. When I have downtime I usually turn off Netflix and clean my apartment or do laundry. I do the little things that I will be tempted to use as an excuse to break away from my schoolwork during my busy weeks. If nothing can distract me then I won’t be tempted to deviate from my study schedule.

Also make time to prepare meals on Sunday that can last you for the whole week. If you need ideas refer to my earlier blog post.

5. CELEBRATE THE FACT THAT YOU ARE STILL BREATHING!

When the week from hell is over, take a deep breathe, take a nap, and reward yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back, forget about calories and buy yourself a delicious cupcake because you deserve it!

I have this quote hanging on the wall in front of my bed, because it's the last thing I want to read before I go to sleep and the first thing I read when I wake up in the morning. (Source: http://thealiciading.tumblr.com/page/4)

I have this quote hanging on the wall in front of my bed, because it’s the last thing I want to read before I go to sleep and the first thing I want to read when I wake up in the morning. (Source: http://thealiciading.tumblr.com/page/4)

The Great Switheroo.

Monday through Thursday I work from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then have class starting at 12:30 until 3:30. This schedule means I have a tiny 30 minute time frame to get from my downtown workplace to a desk in an auditorium on campus. Occasionally it will get a little hectic when I hit nothing but red lights on the way back to my apartment, but for the most part this time crunch isn’t such a hassle because of my multiple bag strategy. I have different segments of my life split into it’s own bag, backpack, or tote. This may sound a little strange but, switching out my Kate Spade work shoulder bag for my North Face backpack on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (and my L.L. Bean tote on Tuesday and Thursday) saves me a few precious minutes of switching everything I need for class from one bag to the other. My roommates have asked why I don’t have only one large fashionable shoulder bag to tote to my internship, class and student organization meetings.  I justify my multiple handbag strategy with the following points:

1. Don’t carry Mary Poppin’s carpet bag

In the classic Walt Disney Movie "Mary Poppins" she has a magical carpet bag that holds everything from a lamp to a fern and much more. (Source: www.blogs.westword.com)

In the classic Walt Disney Movie “Mary Poppins” she has a magical carpet bag that holds everything from a lamp to a fern and much more. (Source: http://www.blogs.westword.com)

My senior year of high school I was standing in line at the local post office trying to sign a receipt to send a package. However they were out of pens so I reached into my purse to retrieve my own pen but instead pulled out a toothbrush. It was a turning point in my young life. That was the moment I knew I could not live out of just one bag anymore. Having separate bags keeps the clutter and junk build-up in your handbag to a minimum. Don’t be the girl who tries to sign her name with a toothbrush.

2. One bag can begin to weigh you down

Just a look inside my Tuesday and Thursday bag. (Source: www.tumblr.com)

Just a look inside my Tuesday and Thursday bag. (Source: http://www.tumblr.com)

Freshman year of college I quickly realized that packing everything I needed for the day into one bag was a terrible idea. By lunchtime I was usually staggering uphill fighting to keep from falling backwards due to the immense weight of my backpack. Packing all of my notebooks, textbooks, laptop, sweatshirt, and anything else I thought I MIGHT need into one bag left me looking like I was going to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and strikingly similar to a turtle. Not to mention according to a report by CNN.com, heavy backpacks can “cause chronic back pain.” I highly suggest only carrying to campus what you KNOW that you will use. Trust me, your body will thank you.

3. It’s an excuse to buy more cute bags

A few bags from the Espero collection.  (Source: www.chron.com)

Navy Classic Backpack (left) and Monterey Everyday Tote (right) from the Espero collection.
(Source: http://www.chron.com)

In the words of fashion designer Lauren Conrad, “I have two closets. One is my clothes closet and one is my shoe and purse closet.” Most young women wouldn’t be opposed to justifying a purchase of a new tote bag or backpack. Splitting your workload into multiple bags gives you an excuse to go buy a practical “Tuesday-Thursday tote” for class if you don’t need to carry as much as you do in your “Monday-Wednesday-Friday backpack.” A few bags that I have noticed popping up around The University of Texas at Austin campus are Esperos “Carry Hope” bags. Not only are they trendy, each Espero product sold helps provide children in a developing country access to education. However, if you’re not looking to drop a pretty penny on a practical designer tote, Target never fails to have great-looking products!

Long story short, having multiple bags pre-packed saves you time, energy and can prevent you from leaving something at home that you need for class or a meeting. It’s a practical strategy that can also save you from lugging around too much weight; leaving your shoulders and back tired and sore at the end of the day. It’s a trick that I live by because combing through receipts, bobby-pins and books trying to locate car keys is too much to handle.

If you’re looking to read more on organizing your work bag The Every Girl website has a fantastic feature that is a great serves as a great starting point in recognizing essential items and what you can leave home without.

Not your mother’s business casual.

During the fall of my freshman year I has a severe case of “overzealous college freshman-iety.” Before I even walked on campus in August I had an internship at the Texas State Capitol lined up. I was thankful a Texas state representative saw potential in someone with virtually no real professional experience. I was eager to start interning but upon looking into my new 3′ x 4′ closet I realized I had nothing to wear. So, on small budget I had to buy versatile staple items that I could re-wear both in and out of the office. My goal was simple: to look professional, but not look like my mother on her way to a 5 o’clock meeting. These are a few must-have clothing items that I have worn to the office, student organization meetings, dinner with my parents and girls night out. Nobody knows how to rock re-wears like a busy girl without a trust fund.

www.fanpop.com

1950s’ starlet Audrey Hepburn made ballets a staple in her wardrobe after filming the film “Funny Face” (Source: http://www.fanpop.com)

1) Black ballet flats

One thing I quickly learned during my first few days on the job is that interns are expected to walk great distances very quickly. I have never been a fan of heels and when I had to walk up and down stairs at the Capitol all day delivering memos, making copies, etc. it didn’t take me long before I grew to loathe my work pumps. As a result ballet flats have grown to be my best friend because they can be worn with casual clothes and formal wear alike. My one big splurge has been on a pair of black Tory Burch Reva flats. I was looking for a quality flat that would last me for a long time and the reviews for this shoe were beyond compare. However if you are not looking spend a pretty penny, black ballet flats can be found virtually anywhere. I wore Payless Eden Ballet Flats before I saved enough for my current pair.

www.laurenconrad.com

Former reality show star Lauren Conrad, models a red blazer from her “LC Lauren Conrad” fashion line; only available at Kohl’s. (Source: http://www.laurenconrad.com)

2) A Colored Blazer

“Color stimulates your eyes and your brain,” said Ruth Lande Shuman, founder and president of Publicolor, a nonprofit color-therapy organization in an Oprah.com article. “When you’re down, you tend to reach for neutrals like brown or beige, but that’s the very day you should wear a bright shade. It changes the way you feel and the way others respond to you.” So as you can see there is scientific evidence behind your mood and the colors you are wearing. I have always been a firm believer in a pop of color in every outfit, whether it is a blue pencil skirt, coral crop pants, or a turquoise bubble necklace. If done right a pop of color isn’t unprofessional, it is a way to exemplify youthfulness and show the world that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

www.tracynegoshian.com

This easy-to-wear jersey shift dress is from the Tracy Negoshian collection. The The perfect example of an ideal work to play dress. (www.tracynegoshian.com)

3) Patterned 3/4 sleeve shift dress

If you have been trying to justify a reason to buy that striped shift dress in the window of your favorite boutique, I might be able to help along your decision making. It is common office etiquette that if you wear a skirt or dress it should be no shorter than three inches above the knee. Tibi founder Amy Smilovic had to say in the March 2013 issue of Harper’s Bazaar: “As far as my staff [is] concerned, my rule is your skirt should cover the seat of your chair when you sit down.” I’ve observed that most shift dresses are usually in the “appropriate length” range, but when trying it on it’s always a safe bet to use the finger length test. To do the test stand up straight and put your arms to your sides. If your fingers go past your skirt, it’s a bit too short. If it’s longer, it’s just about right. Shift dresses are becoming increasingly popular because they are flattering on just about any size. I love shift dresses because not only are they extremely versatile but there really isn’t a more effortless outfit on the days I wake up late or don’t feel like assembling an outfit.

Unfortunately, us girls do not have the fashion liberty of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. We cannot wear a suit 24/7 and have it be considered an appropriate outfit for every occasion. If only it were this easy…

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS ©2009 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS
©2009 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

3 Clif bars and a coffee.

Last semester I learned the importance of eating healthy the hard way. I had established my own food pyramid consisting of, Clif bars, coffee, Red Bull, pizza Lunchables and Chipotle. I chose this dietary routine for one reason, it was convenient. Picking up dinner or lunch from the dorm market became my regular routine between classes and meetings on campus. Since the Clif bar I consumed while walking satisfied my hunger I didn’t see why I needed to change my habits, regardless of the fact that I usually felt terrible after eating it. It took my roommates confronting me about my diet and the toll it had taken on my attitude to snap me out of the unhealthy caffeine induced coma I had been living in for months. I immediately took to Pinterest to find healthy snacks and meals for girls on the go and here are a few of my favorites that I hope you can incorporate into your own daily routine.

BreakfastWake up on the right side of the bed!

Egg Muffins- These little bit size nuggets of joy have zero carbs and lots of protein! I usually make a cupcake pan full of these muffins on Sunday evening. Then once they’ve cooled I put two muffins into different Ziplock bags. This way in the morning I can pull out a serving size, throw it in my tote, and warm them up in the microwave at work. Plus one night of preparation equals a week worth of breakfast! Find the recipe here!

Overnight Oats- Here is another recipe you can prepare the night before to make your mornings go even more smoothly! Chilled overnight oatmeal can easily be transported from the kitchen to wherever you need to go! I have never been a big oatmeal fan but this is one of my new favorites. It’s creamy yogurt goodness mixed with oats  that can be customized with fruit toppings of your choice! (I’m partial to raspberries!) Find the recipe here!

LunchBrown bag it!

Pizza Panini-100 calorie thin, light laughing cow wedge, marinara sauce and loads of fresh spinach. Easy enough! If you have a George Foreman grill (a staple for any college apartment) than this panini is definitely for you. I’m a glorified pizza lover and this recipe was heaven sent. Find the recipe here!

Mason Jar Greek Salad- The saying is, “Give a woman a mason jar greek salad and she’ll eat happily for a day. Teach a woman to make a mason jar greek salad and she’ll eat even more happily for a week because she had a stress free morning.” So maybe that isn’t a real saying but it should be! I spent one Sunday evening preparing this adorable little jars to tote with me to my internship for the week and started an office trend! Find the recipe here!

Dinner– Fun Fact: I grew up calling it “supper” but quickly learned that in Austin, TX that isn’t the norm. 

Pizza Bagels- Earlier I addressed my love affair with pizza, well I am especially enamored with pizza in bagel form. This recipe is quick and easy, and I can almost guarantee that you will have leftovers for lunch the next day! Try replacing your usual fix of frozen boxed Bagel Bites with these heavenly morsels for guilt free mealtime. Find the recipe here!

Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas- To quote Spice Girls, “Spice up your life! People of the world!” with these enchiladas when you know you have a busy week ahead! Here’s another make-ahead meal that won’t disappoint. This recipe makes eight enchiladas, so you’ll have dinner for a fews days out of the week. When you just want to watch a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother after a long day on the go, make sure you have enchiladas waiting for you in the fridge. Find the recipe here!

I hope these recipes can make meals a little easier for you! Kick the habit of picking up whatever is easiest and start eating meals that are nutritious, filled with protein  and can help you perform to the best of your ability! Eating right will make a world of difference.

Do you have a favorite on the go recipe? Leave a comment and share it with me!