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Highlights of 2016

2016 was quite the year. Graduating high school, chopping off my hair, taking a three week birthday vacation, exploring so many new cities, and starting college above all, were some of the best memories I created and events that will stick with me forever. I want to take a trip down memory lane today to note all of the things that made 2016 so special to me...


- I kicked off second semester senior year, which admittedly, I missed a lot more school days of than I thought... senioritis was real. I announced in January also that I'd be heading to Lehigh!

- As seniors at my high school, we have a two-week long service immersion experience where we do service in place of school, and my best friend and I were assigned to a nursing home for our experience. I wrote a reflection here.

- There was a crazy snowstorm in Rhode Island, so my dad's flight got cancelled and he drove 16 hours to make it to our last Father-Daughter dinner dance for my high school.


- Two of my best friends chopped off 11 inches of my hair for children with hair loss.

- Jack and one of my best friends and I went on a 4/5 hour hike up at Devil's Lake in the middle of snow and ice. It was a beautiful view and we are planning to go back on Wednesday!!!

- Our whole high school friend group made a hilarious indoor rec soccer team which was a total fail, but really fun to still go out and play.

- It was our last winter formal for high school!

- I got t-boned at an intersection two blocks from my house and totaled my car.... Not really a highlight but kind of noteworthy


- My family went down to St. Louis for a weekend to celebrate my grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary

- My mom and I took the best trip to New Orleans (recap one, recap two) for spring break, which quickly became one of my favorite cities because of the gorgeous, lush scenery, beautiful homes, and some of the best food I've ever had!


- My dad and I went to New York, Rhode Island, and visited Lehigh for an accepted students weekend! We also visited our Hamptons house, which is always fun. (recap one, recap two)

- On that same trip I met KJP, Sarah Vickers, and Jenna Sweeney while in Rhode Island.


- I went to my last prom at Jack's school and then we have White Dinner for my high school as our final dance.

- I went to Chicago with a few friends for the College Prepster's meet and greet at Vineyard Vines

- I graduated from high school! I still can't believe this one... I loved my high school and seriously wouldn't change those four years for anything. Ah, so nostalgic to leave 2016 and all of that behind! We also threw such a cute graduation party.


- Attended so many fun graduation parties

- Ran a half marathon (13.1 miles) one morning when I guess I was just really motivated on my run!


- I got Alabama Shakes tickets for graduation and got to see them live (they're my favorite band!) at Summerfest with my brother

- Went on an impromptu trip to Martha's Vineyard, which was my first time visiting the island!

- I went camping with some of my friends... total disaster, lol.


- Said goodbye to all of my friends before I ventured to New York, Rhode Island, and Maine for almost three weeks with my dad, brother, and boyfriend for my birthday. 

- On that trip, Jack and I climbed Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park, and while in New York, my dad took us to the top of the Freedom Tower

- We also spent my birthday on a sailboat ride over sunset. Definitely one of my best memories.

- I moved into my dorm and started my first semester at Lehigh!


- Lehigh. Lehigh. Lehigh.


- My dad came for parent's weekend!

- I came home for pacing break and had a fabulous weekend with Jack in Chicago and Milwaukee


- My best friend and I met up in NYC for a weekend to escape from school.

- My dad moved from Rhode Island to Dallas this summer and I visited his new home (and Texas!) for the first time for Thanksgiving


- I left school for a weekend to go to Long Island, Rhode Island, and Connecticut to celebrate my Grandma's 75th birthday

- I wrapped up all of my exams and my first semester at Lehigh, and much to my surprise, didn't fail any classes #snaps

- I came home and threw my annual cookie exchange party with my mom!

Here's to 2017! What are your plans for tonight?

Merry Christmas! {My Christmas Pajamas}

Merry Christmas to all!!! One of my favorite Christmas traditions is sitting around the tree unwrapping presents and wearing my most festive pajamas. My mom and I are definitely sweets-for-breakfast kind of people and I love enjoying cake, cookies and coffee in our holiday pajamas on Christmas morning. These pajamas are probably the cutest things I've ever seen, so I had to share.

This Week's Top 10

1. It's crazy to think that I've been home for almost a week! We are leaving for St. Louis in a few hours where we will be spending Christmas at my grandparent's house with my mom's side of the family. 

2. Jack and I had such a fun day yesterday in Chicago. I loved seeing the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo! So pretty during the holidays. We couldn't resist getting this shirt for both of us too #twinning

3. Another discovery: if you have a Barbour, the liner is essential during these colder months. It really makes all of the difference!!

4. While we were shopping, I mentally added this jacket to my life-long lust list. Someday...

5. ...and I got Jack these slippers for Christmas! So cozy. I hope he loves them!

7. My cookie exchange last weekend was so fun, and I've been shamelessly sampling the cookies all week long ('tis the season, am I right?)... My shoes were a big hit and they're now back in stock (!!!) and the whole recap can be found here

9. This velvet party dress is fabulous... comes in navy (on sale!) and wine!

10. Happy Christmas eve eve!!! Safe travels if you're headed anywhere and Merry Christmas to each of you! Happy Holidays if you don't celebrate, but nonetheless I wish you all a lovely holiday!


Cookie Exchange Party Recap + Outfit

So, if you've been reading the blog for a while you know that I fly alone pretty often.... and something almost always goes wrong. On Saturday night I was supposed to fly into Milwaukee and be home before 10 PM. My flight connected from school in Philly and the second flight from Philly to MKE was canceled. Freaking out, I called American Airlines and they were so helpful. They got me on a flight to Chicago where the weather was better, and although not ideal, I was able to stay with our family friends Saturday night and take the train home on Sunday to make it in time for my party. Long story short, it was 19 hours of planes, trains, and automobiles, but I made it home!

This Week's Top 10

1. We are officially in single-digit days to Christmas, people!!! I couldn't be happier. I will be home tomorrow, throwing my favorite party of the year on Sunday, and headed to St. Louis one week from today for Christmas with my mom's side of the family. 

2. Because Christmas is on a Sunday this year, today is the last day that most regular ground shipping will arrive in time for the holiday. If you have any last minute shopping to do, you can see my gift guides all HERE, or shop the whole holiday shop HERE!

3. This year was the first year I didn't ask for anything for Christmas, because the holidays this year to me are so much more about actually just being with my family and enjoying them than unwrapping gifts under the tree! Of course, I wouldn't mind doing a little of that too, so I'm curious... What's on your wishlist?

4. For the cookie exchange on Sunday, I ordered these shoes, which I can't even believe I scored! For under $40, these pretties are velvet and tied up in a bow! Love.

5. Today was a good week for the world of avocados. A new avocado toast recipe went up on the blog, and we now finally have an avocado emoji!!!

6. I have every single intention to go home tomorrow night and watch Eloise at Christmas. I'd love to make this spiced holiday latte to go along with it! #holidaythings

7. My dad is flying to Spain today and spending Christmas in Italy, and New Years in Paris. Ugh, I'm so jealous! A little salty too that I wasn't invited ;) Safe travels to anyone going on any fun trips this season!

8. So... more on this to come, but I'm moving out of my dorm when I get back from break! It just became official last night, but I'm really looking forward to it. Has anyone else does this before? Switched roommates or rooms at the semester? Any suggestions?

9. Aerie's new PJ mix and match tool is so much fun. I'm kind of addicted to playing around with it, and now I definitely need some new pajamas for winter break!

10. Any fun plans for the weekend?! When does everyone officially begin winter break? I'm just crossing my fingers my last exam tomorrow goes well and my flight home tomorrow night doesn't experience any delays!! We're expecting lots of snow!


New Avocado Toast Recipe: Parsley + Feta

In honor of the avocado emoji coming into existence a few days ago (finally!!!) and the fact that I nee a little study break right now, what better time to share a new avocado toast recipe?! I made this version when I was in Dallas for Thanksgiving on my last morning for my dad and I to split after we went on a run. I used a few random ingredients that we had in the fridge from our Thanksgiving dinner, including pumpkin seeds, parsley, and feta. 

I had avocado toast a couple of times while I was in New York, and I loved my version almost just as much as one of them! However, for lunch the other day, my friends and I ventured to this really cool spot about 20 minutes away from school for smoothie bowls and avo toast, and that version definitely blew me away. But, without further adieu, here is my recipe:

Smashed avocado
Feta cheese crumbles
Salt + Pepper
Pumpkin seeds on top
Red pepper flake

Ugh, so good. I'm sitting here studying for my finals (tomorrow and Saturday and then I'm home!) eating an apple cider donut, so I really don't have much to complain about, but I definitely can't wait to cook again when I'm home, as usual, as well as make some healthier choices. #finalsproblems

What's your favorite kind of avo toast?! Good luck on finals for anyone still going strong! I feel ya!!

FabFitFun + 2 Healthy Drinks to Try

Despite all of the gift guides out there, sometimes it can still be hard to find the perfect thing for someone who seems to have it all, or someone who is just super picky! So, when FabFitFun reached out about sending me a box of goodies, I was so excited to test it out! The service is pretty much a box that comes in the mail, which you can subscribe to and receive a few boxes per year, with full-size beauty, fitness, tech and lifestyle goodies. The boxes are seasonal and feature really cool brands. All of the products are full-sized too, which is so nice because no one wants to wind up with a bunch of mini things like usual! With the code "PREP", you can get $10 off a box.

Gift Guide for Guys: Dad, Boyfriend, & Brother

Okay, now this is gonna be good. How many times have you seen a gift guide for guys, but you read it and you're just like, "none of this is going to work for 'him'"? Because, same. When I think of the "guys" I have to shop for, I think of my Dad, brother, and boyfriend, and even occasionally I think of my grandpa (but admittedly, my mom takes care of that one). So, suffice it to say that one gift guide for all three of those guys just won't do!

Life Update: Finals Week + This Week's Top 10

Hi guys. If you follow me on twitter/snapchat, you might've seen that I went to Urgent Care yesterday. A little background, since senior year I've discovered that I have really poor circulation, meaning my feet fall asleep a lot and I get really uncomfortably cold very easily to the point where my lips and legs actually turn blue. So, Friday night, I went to dinner with my friends and I was so cold I couldn't stop shaking. I went back to my dorm and stood under the shower for like 45 minutes until I forced myself to get out and crawl into bed. By this point, I had such a horrible headache that I could only walk on my tiptoes because the pressure to put my feet down and take steps made my head pound. I crawled into my bed and fell asleep almost immediately. When I woke up about an hour later, I was so dizzy and my headache was still there. I also noticed that swallowing had become really painful and my ear ached. My neck was stiff and I felt like my head was going to explode.

Yesterday I couldn't really move or get out of bed until 2 PM, and I forced myself to get an Uber and go to Urgent care. I have tonsillitis and I'm on a Z Pack and Steroids now, which I'm actually really happy about because Z-Packs (pretty much a stronger antibiotic) work quickly and I have my hardest exam on Tuesday. 

I apologize for not posting Wednesday-Friday as I usually do. Finishing up my last week of classes and getting pretty sick on top of that was draining enough, and I struggled to find enough time to squeeze in everything I wanted to. I don't think it helped that I rarely go out, but I went out more than I usually do last week (I'm sure that also contributed to getting sick). However, I do still want to share this week's top 10 with you all... Read on!

1. The photo above was taken last week in Connecticut at the Daniel Packer Inne. I had lobster mac and cheese and loved every minute of the quaint and festively decorated restaurant on the harbor! Good food and time with my family celebrating my Grandma's 75th birthday was such a nice break from school before the last week of classes.

2. My annual cookie exchange is a week from today!!!! I can't wait! It's my favorite event of the year. (Read last year's recap HERE)

3. If you'll be attending any holiday parties as well, here are my top picks for festive and fabulous party shoes!

4. I can't stop pinning to my holiday board on Pinterest. Like, it's getting out of control and I'm obsessed with it.

5. I ordered these black jeans on Black Friday and I am so happy with them. Definitely my new favorite going-out pants, and the ideal style for ripped black jeans.

6. Gingerbread and peppermint at the holidays are two of of my favorite things. This recipe for healthier gingerbread cookies looks delicious, and last year I posted the easiest 3-ingredient peppermint bark/fudge recipe here.

7. This Marrakech Tavelguide is stunning. Seriously gave me some wanderlust!

8. I loved this super-festive holiday post on Gal Meet's Glam. Julia is one of my favorite bloggers; her style is incredible and her photos are always gorgeous.

9. Go see what's new in the holiday shop :)

10. My finals this week are Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday, and then I fly home Saturday night! I can't wait to be back at home with my mom and friends and then go to St Louis to see my family for Christmas.

Good luck to anyone else starting finals or continuing them this week! Study hard and best of luck!

Gift Guide: For Mom

If it's not obvious already, I love giving gifts. Admittedly, I'm pretty good at it too! Gift-giving is something I definitely pride myself on, because I always seem to find something for even the hardest people to shop for. In my own life, my mom is definitely one of those people. I have a really good grasp (usually) on what she likes, but she's the kind of person who will tell me over and over that she doesn't want anything, doesn't need anything, won't use x, y, or z. That's what makes things tricky!

Holiday Cards + Custom Gift Tags

One of the things that I love most about Christmastime is that there are so, so many ways to get in the holiday spirit. Whether you're baking cookies, listening to Christmas music or just wearing something red and sparkly, you can engage in Christmastime and be festive nonetheless! One fun way to get in the holiday spirit is also by sending festive snail mail. I love flipping through all of the Christmas cards we get in the mail every year, but since I'm not home yet to see all of them, I wanted to still get in the holiday spirit and send out some of my own!

How cute are these holiday greeting cards from Jen Davis Designs?! I'm so in love with them!

Jen also has the cutest prints and custom gift tags in her shop, both perfect for the holidays. I had the "Wisconsin" and "Fran" prints custom done, and the gift tags will be perfect to wrap all the goodies from my gift guides.

How cute?! 

This Week's Top 10: Holiday Party Shoes

I'm mixing it up a little for This Week's Top 10! I think maybe for the holidays I'll do something fun and exciting each Friday just to change up your typical links post. Thoughts on that? 

Today I'm sharing the top 10 holiday shoes I've discovered while I've been holiday shopping. There's sooooo much good stuff out there, you guys. Ugh, I could seriously make five gift guides a day if I had the time.... and a lot less schoolwork :)

Happy shopping and happy weekend! I'm in Rhode Island celebrating my grandma's birthday and I'm so happy to be back in one of my favorite places in New England.

My Thanksgiving Salad Recipe

You guys... How is it December first?! This year has flown by like crazy. I'm excited that in just about two and a half weeks I'll be all done with exams and en route home for a month of winter break, my annual cookie exchange with friends, and lots of relaxation. For now, it's another weekend away from school for me! I'm leaving this evening for Long Island where I'll be staying at my aunt's house tonight before we make our way to Rhode Island for the weekend to celebrate my Gramma's birthday. I'm so excited to see my aunts, my grandma, and a few of my cousins on my dad's side of the family this weekend because we missed them at our Thanksgiving and I'm spending Christmas with my mom.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, I made a delicious salad for our dinner that I really couldn't have enjoyed more! I am not always the biggest salad person, but this baby could've been a meal on it's own because I couldn't stop eating it! I shared the recipe on Snapchat (@ franacciardo) last Thursday as I was making it and it turned out so, so delicious. Like, I seriously want to make it all the time once I get home and I can cook again! I originally planned to follow a recipe, but when you get to Whole Foods the day before the holiday and they're all out of Brussels sprouts, ya just gotta improvise, ya know? 

Anyways, this salad is incredible easy, healthy, and delicious. Triple threat; win, win, win! I loved tossing together a bunch of random autumn ingredients and witnessing the magic happen. 

What you'll need...

1 large bunch of lacinato kale, chopped into bites
Butternut squash, cubed and cooked
Pumpkin seeds
Pomegranate seeds
Feta cheese crumbles
Dried cranberries

What to do...

I hoped up my kale into bite sized pieces and did the same with our squash. I only used about half the squash and that worked out to be enough, but I do love squash and wouldn't have minded using more!

Tip on cooking the squash: Once you've cut the squash into bites, toss in a pot with water and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce to a simmer and remove the squash once you feel that the bites are soft/tender/basically: cooked.

Toss all ingredients in a large bowl, using as much or as little of each as you'd like. Finally, drizzle on a little dressing and toss again. I really didn't use a ton of dressing because the cheese, pomegranate seeds, and squash all already have some moisture and I didn't want the garlic in the dressing to overpower any of the natural flavors.

Let me know if you try this salad or something similar, I'd love to hear your thoughts!