Giving Yourself A Fresh Start

I’m baaaccckkkkkk! College life has been extra crazy these last two weeks, and I’ve barely been able to adjust. Homework and sorority recruitment (I’ll have a post alllll about my experience soon!) has made me incredibly stressed and neglecting things that are super important to me (like blogging), which is why I thought this would be the perfect post for this week!

Take a Nap

This seems like the last thing to do when you have a million things going on, but a 20 minute nap when you’re exhausted makes a huge difference! It helps your brain rest from all of the stress and reboot itself to be more alert and focused. I am a firm believer that naps can be just what you need when you’re stressed.

Go Workout

This is also something people will think is counterproductive; however, working out can help you get your mind off of everything your going through AND gives you endorphins! Just put on your favorite playlist, or in my case podcast, and forget your crazy life for at least 20 minutes You’ll feel more awake, productive, and empowered to conquer your to-do list.

Talk to Your Bestie

Talking things out always helps me alleviate stress. Because college life is stressing me out every day, I always call my mom and my sister. They’re the two people in my life that are willing to listen to my struggles and help guide me through them. Try to find people like this in your everyday life. (Stay tuned for a post about finding YOUR people in life!) Bottled up emotions eventually explode, so get rid of some pressure by venting to me you love and trust. It will always make you feel better!

Pinterest Things That Inspire You

When you’re in a rut, you aren’t inspired. Inspiration is the foundation that fuels the passion in all of us. Pinterest is my go to for pretty much everything! What outfit should I wear? Pinterest. What Halloween costume should I wear this year? Pinterest. What healthy meals can I take for lunch? Pinterest. Where can I find images that inspire and make me feel something? You guessed it, Pinterest. Scrolling through images that remind you have happiness instantly boosts your mood. Happy and inspired=productive girl boss that gets stuff done.

I have a board dedicated to images that inspire me. Check it out here!

Give Yourself Grace

When our lives become stressful, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure, and overwhelming yourself only causes you to stress more. I really struggled with this, but allowing yourself to mess up is so important. I didn’t get a post up for the last TWO weeks. Grace to that. All you can do when you fall is pick yourself back up and try again. Responding negatively to yourself doesn’t help. Learn to give yourself grace.

Life gets stressful fast, and if you aren’t prepared, you can find yourself falling and not knowing how to get up. I hope this post gives you a few ideas for coping with stress.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite stress-free activity is!

As always,

Stay positive.

Fall Morning Routine

Productivity is something I am constantly trying to achieve. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so I am always trying to be as efficient and happy as possible. Routines are an important part of my day, especially my morning routine; however, during the Fall, I try to enjoy the changing world around me a bit more. We don’t necessarily need to slow down (between school, work, and other commitments- how could we?).  A crisp, autumn morning can be such a great start to your day, but only if you know how to get the most out of it!

This post contains affiliate links and ads. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase or click an ad, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thank you for your support.

Set Your Alarm

It is impossible to enjoy a Fall morning if you sleep through it! This may sound perfect to some, but actually waking up and getting out of bed will give you a much better start to your day. Fight the urge to hit snooze; just get up. I use an alarm clock app that slowly wakes you up, and I highly recommend finding one that fits best for you! If you have a balcony or porch to watch the sunrise, that’s the best way to go! It is not necessary, but it adds that extra touch.

Brew Something

There is nothing like drinking a warm cup of coffee watching the sunrise on a Fall morning. Coffee is not for everyone, so green tea or some kind of herbal tea is also a great option. Coffee is my go-to! I drink Green Mountain Coffee Breakfast Blend and my collagen peptides! It is so relaxing just to sit and enjoy a cup of your favorite hot beverage on a cool morning! I always use my Keurig coffee brewer; I’m obsessed.

Find Your Own Meditation

Actually meditating can be so relaxing, but there are so many other ways to relax and reboot; just find your own. My favorite activity to do in the mornings is blog! Not very original, but it calms me and gives my day a fresh start. You can do anything from reading to yoga to watching the news! Just pick something to do for 15-30 minutes that calms you and brings happiness into your life.

Plan Your Breakfast

Life is so much sweeter when you aren’t running around like a crazy person every morning. Whether it’s meal prep or just simply thinking out your breakfast, it won’t be your last thought and you will be less likely to skip it! Everyone says, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and they’re right!

Enjoying a fall morning is all about having plenty of time for yourself. If a relaxed morning routine isn’t something you can do every morning, that’s okay. Try it out just once. You may find it to give you a fresh start to your day!

This is my second post under my Fall series; go check out my Fall Favorites! I will be posting more Fall posts as 2017 continues.

What’s your favorite thing about a fall morning? Let me know in the comments!

Stay positive.

6 Things You Should Know Before You Start A Blog

It has officially been a month since Set Free with LB launched! Starting a blog was something I always wanted to do, but I never had the courage to take the first step and get started. Now, I’m one month in, and I couldn’t be more excited about the future of this site!

Blogging is something I can definitely see myself doing for the next few years, and even though I enjoy it so much, there are a few things you have to do to get a blog up and running that I never thought about! Here are a few things you should know and consider before starting your own blog!

Photography is Important

This past Christmas,  I received a really nice camera from my boyfriend, Dallas! I knew that I wanted to start a blog soon and that photography was necessary; however, it’s far more important than I realized! A successful blog HAS to have pictures. Personally, I find it easier to take my own instead of getting them from a free site. Starting a blog has really made me work on my photography skills, and I am nowhere near a photographer! I do find the process of planning and editing my pictures to be one of my favorite parts of a blog post. Buying a brand new camera is not necessary for a blog, but if you’re looking for something to step up your game a bit, I love my entry level DSLR! Here’s a link to it on Amazon!

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

Before I started my blog, I had NO idea what SEO stood for! I’d seen bloggers talk about it in posts but had no clue where to begin. Turns out, SEO is extremely important for a successful blog. It determines where your blog shows up in google search results! I still don’t know as much as I’d like to, so my goal for September is learn more about SEO!

Traffic Takes Time

Especially if you’re a new blogger, good, steady traffic doesn’t come the minute you post your blog into the universe. Posting it on social media, telling your friends and family, and participating in Facebook groups are some great ways to get traffic! It may be a little scary to put your thoughts out for the world to see, but if you love writing and blogging, it’s worth it!

Many Ways to Monetize

If you’re looking to monetize your site, there are so many different options! I see so many bloggers make money from affiliate sales, ad sales, and sponsored posts! I persnonally use Google Adsense and Shareaholic for my ad revenue, and Amazon Affiliates and Shareasale for my affiliate marketing. It really depends on where you find the right fit for your blog. In most cases, traffic = money. Be aware that you may not make that much during your first few months of blogging! Honestly, just do what you love and the money will follow.

Blog Planning is Key

This is something I don’t do very well! I know I could be so much more efficient if I planned my blogs out and prewrote them in advance. My goal for September is to pick a day and write two blog posts. Planning and prewriting posts can save so much stress and time. Organization is very important, and planning ahead will help you keep your blog organized!

Pinterest Can Help

Since starting my blog, I’ve discovered that Pinterest is a great resource for bloggers! It’s a great way to get organic traffic to your site. I would recommend setting up a separate business account to get access to their analytics. Check out mine here!

There are quite a few things I didn’t know when I started my blog, and honestly, there are a ton of things I still don’t know! Blogging is something that grows and allows you to grow with it!

One month down, hopefully many more to go!

Stay positive.

Fall Favorites

Summer is winding down, and Fall is just around the corner! Fall is not my favorite season, but it is still a wonderful time of the year. Where I am from, leaves begin to change and fall from trees, temperatures drop, and flip flops are put away until next year! Fall is so photogenic and peaceful. This post will contain my Fall favorites! From comfy sweaters to the best candle scents, here are a few things that are a must-have this Fall!

This post contains affiliate links. If you order something from this list, I will receive a small compensation at no extra cost to you! I appreciate your support.

Candles

When I think of Fall, I think of pumpkin spice, warm vanilla, and fireside. These are also three of my most favorite candle scents! Candles always help me unwind and relax, and pumpkin spice is the most iconic Fall scent. My favorite candle brand, Woodwick, even crackles as it burns!

Sweaters

Sweaters are definitely a Fall essential. From going to work or class to lounging around at home, a sweater is super comfy! Chunky knit sweaters are so cute! I love this one from Charlotte Russe ; however, I couldn’t find it to link it in this post. Here’s a similar one from Amazon. Charlotte Russe, Forever 21, Francesca’s, and Old Navy are where I always find my favorite oversized sweaters.

Blankets

I love blankets all year, but unlike me, most people don’t like to use blankets in the Summer! As the nights get colder, blankets can provide warmth and comfort (If you can’t tell, I’m all about being comfy). Everyone’s taste is different, so here’s a set of 2 extra fluffy blankets and initial throw. Curling up with a blanket while binge watching Netflix is the best way to relax!

Fall is such a great time of the year; everyone has their favorites, and these are just some of mine!

Comment some of your Fall favorites down below, and let me know what you’d like to see me post next!

Stay positive.

5 Podcasts for College Women

A few months ago, I was looking for ways to grow my knowledge of current events and ways to better myself. I was so excited to discover the perfect solution: podcasts! Until a few months ago, I thought podcasts were just that app you always deleted from your phone to have more storage; however, I now realize they are a great tool for people to learn and grow.

There are so many different types of podcasts, and they all vary in length. My favorite categories are health, business, and news! Every college woman should introduce herself to podcasts because college is the perfect time to grow and formulate your own opinions!

You can listen to podcasts anywhere. I typically listen while I commute, clean, work out, shower, and pretty much any other time I want to be listening to something. Here are a few podcasts that would be perfect for college women.

The Goal Digger Podcast – Marketing, Social Media, Creative Entrepreneurship, Small Business Strategy and Branding

This is one of the newer podcasts I’ve started listening to, but I can already tell it’s going to be one of my favorites! Jenna Kutcher hosts this business podcast for girl bosses. After I listen, I always feel motivated to tackle my next project, whatever it may be!

Here’s a link to a list of her episodes!

Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing

I realize this title sounds very lame, BUT every college woman could use tips for her writing! These episodes are about 10-15 minutes, so you only have to geek out for a few minutes. It really is an insightful podcast I recommend to everyone, not only writers!

Find her latest episodes here!

The Chalene Show | Motivation | Leadership | Confidence | Family | Fitness and Life coaching with Chalene Johnson

I love The Chalene Show! Chalene Johnson hosts this health and lifestyle based podcast. She discusses everything from how GMOs harm our health to how to develop happy habits. She is very motivational and encouraging, and you can tell she knows her stuff.

Here’s the link to her most recent podcast.

Pantsuit Politics

A good political podcast is extremely hard to find. It seems that they all include arguments about today’s recent news; however, Pantsuit Politics is the exact opposite. Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers host this political podcast with plenty of nuance. They don’t shout or insult each other; they discuss current events with a nuanced perspective from both sides of the political spectrum.

Find their latest episodes here!

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey

I have to say: this is my favorite podcast! Jamie Ivey hosts this interview based podcast every Wednesday. They talk about overcoming struggles, overflowing happiness, and everything in between. I love Jamie’s positivity and optimism, and all of the great books she recommends!

Download her latest episode here.

It was so hard to narrow down my favorite podcast list; however, these are the best ones for college women! They are all helpful, encouraging, and give you the opportunity to expand your knowledge.

Let me know your favorite podcasts in the comment section, and feel free to tell me what you want to see next!

Stay positive.

Apartment Basics On a Budget

I’m starting college in a few weeks, and it’s time to start decorating my first apartment! As we all know, college is not cheap. Shopping for décor is fun, but we must get the basics covered first! Saving on the essentials will give you more to spend on tons of cute décor. This post will focus on bed and bath products I believe are important to purchase when moving in to a new apartment!

For the longest time, Amazon.com and Target have been my go to for just about everything. Throughout this post, there will be affiliate links, which means that if you purchase one of these items, I will receive commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own, and I appreciate your support!

Most products referenced come in so many different styles and colors, but for this post, I am going to be referencing what I chose for my apartment. Yes, I realize it will be a lot of grey and white, but plain colors are just what I’m into right now!

Bedroom

I love a sleek grey and white bedroom! My style is very clean and simple, so I’ve chosen a plain white down comforter and grey patterned sheets!

Picking out the perfect throw pillows was the hardest decision I’ve had to make, but I am obsessed with this extra fluffy pillow paired with this grey one.

If there is one thing I suggest splurging on, it’s a good mattress cover. Because I will be sleeping on a used mattress, I HAD to pick one that was bed-bug proof! This one by Linenspa will fit my bed, is only $27.99, and lets me sleep happily staying away from bed bugs.

Target has the cutest home section. They have definitely stepped it up these past few years! This is where I got my super cute laundry basket and essential hangers.

Total: $106.17

All of these bedroom basics are only $106.17! Most comforter and sheet sets cost that much!

Bathroom

Strangely, the bathroom is my favorite thing to decorate! Sticking with the grey and white theme, I’ve chosen a grey shower curtain and bath mat.

My bathroom is mostly white, so they grey will add a touch of color. For something other than grey and white, I’ve added this tan wicker waste basket to give it that Joanna Gaines (I wish) feel!

White towels just sound like a bad idea, so I chose….grey! I was actually given some for Christmas this past year, so that’s one thing I could check off my list. Amazon has a ton of towels on their site, but these seem like a great affordable option. You get a set of 8 towels in various sizes for $23.79!

Total: $66.56

There you go! All of your bathroom basics for $66.56!

This list give you a great foundation for a few essentials you’ll need to start living in your new apartment! For more décor, I suggest visiting Amazon.com or Target! They have such cute stuff at great prices.

The overall total for these basic needs is only $172.73. Proof that you can get all of these apartment essentials for under $200!

I plan on posting a full apartment décor post after I move in, so stay tuned for that! Please feel free to contact me with what posts you’d like to see next, and tell me in the comments where you love to shop for great items with low prices!

Stay positive.

 

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Weekend Getaway: Chicago

 

This Christmas, my parents surprised my sister and I with the best present I have ever been given: tickets to see the Tony award-winning musical Hamilton showing in Chicago! This July, we flew to the beautiful Windy City for a long weekend. I had been to Chicago once before, about 11 years ago. Needless to say, I didn’t remember much of it, but it did not disappoint.

The City

I had some reservations about Chicago before I arrived, simply because I had heard of it having a dangerous crime rate; however, I never experienced anything that made me feel unsafe. Chicago is a BEAUTIFUL city! I was obsessed with all of the tree-lined streets and people walking their dogs. The architecture was so pretty. I quickly realized that this city is often displayed negatively when, in fact, it is a great place to spend a long weekend!

SkyDeck Chicago

SkyDeck Chicago is the place that has the glass floor you can walk out 103 stories high! I thought I would be able to handle it no problem, but I got extremely nervous when I finally got out there. It is definitely something you must do once in your life, no matter how scary! The wait line wasn’t terrible, and they have interactive displays to look out throughout the line!

The Bean

The Bean in Millenium Park is so cool! It literally is a giant bean right in the middle of a park. It is something you must see if you’re ever in Chicago!

The Magnificent Mile

The best place to shop! The Magnificent Mile has all of your favorite retail stores and great restaurants around. The whole area is perfect for a first time visitor!

 

The Food

Oh-em-gee. Chicago is full of so many amazing restaurants and cafes. Being the foodie I am, I made a list of all of the restaurants we had to visit during our stay.

Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co.

Have you ever heard of the Pizza Pot Pie? If not, look it up right now! I wish I would’ve taken a picture of this dish. The Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder Co. was by far the best place we visited. We started off with a salad appetizer, and finished off with the amazing Pizza Pot Pie. I preferred mine with meat and no mushrooms, but it’s very customizable to fit anyone’s taste! The doors open at 4, and I suggest getting there much earlier to get in line! We arrived at 4:04pm and had a 45 minute wait! It was definitely worth it.

Margie’s Candies

This is the hidden gem of Chicago. It’s a little farther out than everything else downtown (a 20 minute Uber ride) but so worth it. This is one place we ate dinner at in the early afternoon, that dinner being a 6 scoop ice cream sundae! Margie’s is a small shop, but they offer a great old-time charm. The ice cream itself was delicious; it was even better with the hot fudge and strawberries we added on top! I highly suggest visiting this awesome establishment.

Hamilton

By far the best part of the trip, seeing Hamilton was a dream come true. I have been a huge fan of the show since the soundtrack was released in 2016. The stage was so beautiful and the actors didn’t disappoint! I hope that the show eventually goes on tour so everyone can have exposure to this great experience!

 

Chicago was a great place to visit on a long weekend. Our schedule was packed, and we got in as much of the city as possible. If you’re looking for your next weekend getaway, I highly suggest visiting the Windy City!

If you like this post, share it with your friends, family members, or on Pinterest!

Thank you for reading and let me know what your Chicago experience was like in the comments below!

 

Why You Should Visit Orange Beach, AL

Summer is the best time to take a vacation and relax from all of the stresses caused by every day life. A beach is the perfect place to unwind and forget most of your responsibilities. I recently took a trip to Orange Beach in southern Alabama and  now feel compelled to inform you on why it is where you should spend your next vacation! This wasn’t my first time in OBA (an acronym most people use for Orange Beach). In fact, I’ll go about three times this summer, so I want to share what keeps my family and I coming back!

The Beach

Okay, this is obvious, but the beaches in lower Alabama are absolutely beautiful. The sand is soft, and crab hunting is perfect at night! Orange Beach also has a new campaign, “Leave Only Footprints.” They take pride in keeping their beaches clean, which is something I support.


The Family-Friendly Vibe

Some beaches along the Gulf can get pretty rowdy during the summer months, but Orange Beach is a family oriented community. There are countless mini golf, go cart tracks, and arcades! A massive theme park is being built about 15 minutes away and should be finished by the end of this summer. You’ll get the beach and a fun park in one awesome vacation!

The Food

I’ve been to some amazing restaurants in Orange Beach. If you’re looking for a steak, the best one I’ve ever eaten is the Butterboy at the Shipp’s Harbour Grill! You must go to Lulu’s once, especially if you have kids, and Doc’s is a local favorite! There is something for everyone!

 

Butterboy at Shipp’s Harbour Grill

The Shopping

Shopping is a great way to relax, and Orange Beach offers many options1The Wharf in Orange Beach has many boutique shops to choose from with brands ranging from Salt Life to Lauren James. Even better, there is a Tanger Outlet mall in Foley, AL, 20 minutes from OBA! Tanger is a huge outdoor mall with stores from TJ Maxx to Michael Kors. You’ll definitely get a great shopping experience!

I hope I have helped you choose your next vacation destination. Orange Beach definitely won’t disappoint.

Let me know where you will be vacationing this summer in the comments.

Stay positive.

Beach Bag Essentials

Summer is here, and if you’re like me, the beach is the best place to go. I always love to see what people put in their beach bag, so I thought I’d share what I put in mine! My iPhone and Apple Watch are a given, but this list consists of some out-of-the box recommendations.

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product from this page, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I appreciate your support!

Sunglasses

Not very unique, I know, but they are essential enough to be mentioned! I always take a cute but inexpensive pair to the beach in case they get damaged or lost. I’m obsessed with these from Francesca’s!

Ziploc Bags

My best beach secret! I always put my phone in a Ziploc baggy to protect it from sand/water. The touch screen works through the bag; you don’t even have to take it out!

Pocket Charger

I always take my portable charger for my phone. I never have to worry about not being able to reach someone or playing music. Let’s be honest; the worst thing at the beach is no music! Here’s the one I have on Amazon.

Baseball Hat

My face burns so easily, so I always use a baseball hat for extra coverage! My go to hat this summer is pale pink with a pineapple on the front from Zumiez!

Monogrammed Cup/Beach Cup Holder

I love a cup that will keep my drinks cold all day long, and the one my sister got me is perfect! Avoid a sandy drink and put it in a cup holder that fits right in the sand is the best way to stay hydrated on the beach!

The cup was a gift, but here’s a similar one on Amazon! I love these awesome cup holders!

A Good Read

I always try to read a good book on the beach! This time, I’m reading Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy by Emily Ley. It’s a great reminder to unwind and enjoy myself more often than I do.

I hope I’ve given you some interesting ideas! Comment down below and tell me what’s in your bag as well as what beach is your favorite!

Stay positive.

 

Adopt, Don’t Shop

Dallas and I adopted our first fur baby!

I have been wanting to adopt a dog for YEARS. Why not do it right before I leave for college?! I knew having a dog in my new apartment would help me adjust to my new home.

I knew I wanted to adopt. I wanted a small dog that was housetrained and good with kids. I also knew that by adopting, I was saving a life. Here’s a few things I’ve realized since adopting Maddux, and why adoption is so important.

Our first time meeting Maddux

Adoption Is Cheaper

Puppies can cost hundreds of dollars, not to mention the vet costs for shots and getting your pet fixed. Most adoption agencies have already gotten that technical stuff covered, and my rescue actually microchips each animal. Now, if Maddux were to get lost, I could track him down much easier. Adoption prices obviously vary, but I paid Russell Rescue, the agency I went through, $150 for Maddux. He is a small Yorkie and is loved sooooo much.

Puppies=Overrated

Of course, all puppies are adorable, but adult dogs need some love, too! Maddux is approximately six years old, house trained, and already knows tricks. I don’t have to worry about him chewing anything up; he’s got a good understanding of when to play and when to chill out. He’s not too hyper, making him the best cuddle buddy. Adult dogs catch on to new environments better, so you don’t have to struggle with extensive training!

Adoption Saves Lives

Each year, approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized in shelters across America. Adopting an innocent animal saves its life. Maddux has a home. He is fed and loved; most importantly, he won’t ever have to worry about being put down because no one cared enough to adopt him. You may have many friends, but your dog only has one. To him, you have changed his life-and you get the satisfaction of doing a good deed for a great pup.

If you’re considering getting a pet, I highly recommend adoption. It’s such a satisfying feeling knowing you have saved a life. Help a sweet animal live and give him or her a forever home.

Let me know if you’ve adopted a pet! Or feel free to ask me about the adoption process!

Stay positive.

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