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Things Making Me Happy in Quarantine

Let's close out the month by sharing something positive, shall we?! April, despite being spent entirely quarantined, was really not that bad. In fact, it was kind of nice at times... I have a lot to still be grateful for, and as I developed a routine for myself, I really began to realize that there are quite a few things that have been making me feel positive and content.

My Personal College Reflection

I have been putting off writing this post since quarantine began, which has been intentional. Honestly, it's mostly because it hasn't fully hit me yet that the second half of my senior spring semester isn't happening. The reality of this situation probably won't occur to me completely until I'm looking at this time retrospectively. I am holding out hope that our graduation ceremony being postponed (instead of canceled, which I'm so grateful for!) will help alleviate some of the sadness that has come along with missing out on the last weeks of senior year. So, that's been helpful as a little way to have something to look forward to among all of the uncertainty.

The last four years have been far from perfect, but I loved my college experience. I wouldn't change a thing, and today I am excited to finally address closing the college chapter of my life, far more abruptly than expected. 

Four years ago, I was completely committed to a different school and a different relationship. Two of the biggest things in my life four years ago are hardly relevant to me now. My priorities have completely changed, who I am is completely different. Somehow, everything worked itself out. I always say everything happens for a reason, and as cliche, as that sounds, it's so true. I am happier than I expected, with the end result being nothing that I ever expected. 

I didn’t want to go to Madison out of high school. I wouldn’t tour, I wouldn’t apply, I wouldn’t even talk about it as an option. I wanted to go to school on the east coast for my entire life. Sophomore year of high school, I realized that meant Lehigh... and only Lehigh. There was absolutely no changing my mind. As it turns out, transferring to Madison is the second-best decision I’ve made in my life, only second to starting this blog. It is something that I did for myself, with no one else to influence me, that I will never regret. I am incredibly grateful for the 3 years (more like 2.75, thanks Coronavirus) that I have had at Madison. But I am also grateful for that first year at Lehigh, too. Both schools taught me so much... and I am lucky I got to experience both.

I’ve said it before, but I don't regret that I went to Lehigh. For my entire life, I wanted to go to school out east, join a sorority, and have the life I had there. It wasn’t until I had that, that I realized it simply wasn't the right fit for me. That's it! There was no "one moment" when I knew I wanted to leave Lehigh. I always get asked why I transferred, or how I knew, and there wasn't a big event that happened. It simply wasn't right for me. Going there was the only way to figure that out, and I’m grateful that I got to have that experience. Without it, I never would have ended up here.

When I got accepted to Madison, I knew immediately that I was going to go. 
The rest is history.

The biggest difference between my freshman and sophomore years of college was simply that I felt like I was in the right place, at the right time, exactly where I was meant to be, at Wisconsin. I had kind of felt like an outsider at Lehigh because I wasn’t from the surrounding area, and on top of that, I had a less-than-perfect freshman roommate experience and didn't enjoy being in a long-distance relationship. Those were a few things that just drained me and made me unhappy with where I was.

At the beginning of my sophomore year of college I attempted to continue being a part of Alpha Phi (the sorority I had already been initiated into at Lehigh), but it was just different and I didn’t really like it, so I dropped. It seemed like a big deal at the time, but it really wasn't. There was like a two-week period of "what's going on," and then I moved on, and I haven't really thought about it since. I took fun classes, rekindled high school friendships, joined a few clubs, and had a ball sophomore year.

Junior year of college was hands down the most impactful year of my entire life. I’ve talked about it before and always kept it kind of vague, but it really was just one of the best years of my life. Foremost, it was a huge year of personal growth for me. I learned so much about myself, relationships, and what I want in my life. I moved in with my best friends, made huge strides with my mental health, had a little fling which turned out to be a disaster but taught me so much, and went on the best spring break trip ever to Mexico with my best friends.

Senior year has been short, but sweet. First semester was a blur. I don’t even know what we did. Lots of game days and freaking out that we were seniors probably sums it up. This semester? Even blurrier.

And just like that, it’s over.

I’m probably being dramatic, but college changed my life. I am not the person I was in high school, at Lehigh, or even when I first transferred. And that’s a good thing; growth is important. As a senior in high school, my priorities were the acceptance rate of my college and the size of clothes I wore.

Not every single day has been incredible at Madison, don’t get me wrong. There have been a LOT of tears, more mistakes than I’d like to admit, and many embarrassing moments. But that's life. There have also been a million memories, lessons, laughs, smiles, happy tears, and people who have changed, shaped, and bettered me. 

There have been more highs than there have been lows, and that's the best part. I am so grateful to have been here, and I’d take a shorter college experience over any other experience.

I really feel like college and all of its crazy experiences and adventures led me to figure out who I am, and who I want to be going forward, as cliche as that sounds. I’m easygoing, honest, friendly, open, and lighthearted. I’m excited, enthusiastic, fun, and down for anything, all the time. I have a positive outlook on my life... and I am really happy. 

I'm not trying to gas myself up; I just really didn't think of myself as having those qualities four years ago, and I'm proud that I do now. Four years ago, I was not those things. I was obsessive about everything I did. I was selfish and distant with most things I did. I was hesitant, scared, and unnecessarily apologetic. I think a big part of it is just growing up, but still... I think the college experience I had shaped so much of that.

I am grateful for my education and my college experience for everything it taught me, and for all of the ways it has shaped me. I am even more grateful for the people who were next to me all the way through. The last four years have meant so much to me. I really feel like I had the best experience that I could, and I am so grateful for that. As sad as it is that it ended early, I am so fortunate to have made the memories that I did along the way. I will cherish them forever.


College posts from the archives...
Announcing that I'm going to Lehigh

First semester Freshman Year when I realized I might transfer

What I wish I'd known on decision day

Falling in love with college Sophomore Year

The beginning of Junior Year

Junior Year reflection

One month into Senior Year

College Graduation Gift Ideas

It is absolutely insane to me to think that I am graduating from college next weekend. I haven't been in a classroom, seen my friends, or gone to a bar in what feels like forever. Like, is it just me, or has anyone else kind of forgotten we're actually students? Of course, I have the occasional homework and zoom class, but it's not the same...

However, it is really important (maybe I'm biased) to still acknowledge the achievements and graduation we would have had. A global pandemic doesn't mean we aren't still graduating, or have put in any less work over the last four-ish years. There is still so much to be celebrated, even if we can't actually wear a cap and gown to commemorate it!

I've rounded up a handful of things that I think would make fabulous graduation gifts if you have someone in your life graduating. These are particularly curated for college students but many would make great high school graduation or graduate school gifts as well!

7 Podcasts I Love

One of my favorite quarantine hacks has been listening to podcasts. Why? Hearing other peoples' voices does wonders to make me feel less alone while social distancing, and there are some podcasts that I would even go so far as to say it almost feels like I'm hanging out with friends when I listen! The added bonus of feeling like I'm educating myself or learning something new (even if it's just another person's view or opinion), makes me feel inspired, motivated, and enlightened!

I've been listening to a variety of podcasts lately, while cooking, walking, and relaxing. These are my favorites:

This Week's Top 10

Hellooooo, happy Friday, congrats on surviving another week of quarantine!! After last week's more meaningful roundup of ten links, this week is going to be pretty light.

1. After living alone for the first time in my life, albeit only for a week, I'm kind of obsessed??? It's so fun, and combine that with this incredibly chic studio apartment tour, I'm pretty convinced I would love to live alone (sans roommate, as I thought) in NYC next year.

2. I just ordered this book as my next read! In case you missed it, I shared the three books I've read so far in quarantine in yesterday's blog post.

Random note: the Nancy Myer's home interior inspiration blog post I wrote this week was one of my favesss! Also shared a Mother's Day gift guide in case you missed it!

3. Last week I blogged about four people inspiring me right now, one of whom is Athena Calderone! Her kitchen was featured in this post here... check it out if you want to see a seriously swoon-worthy space!

What I've Read in Quarantine

I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS!!! hhaha. I have read some books lately that have quickly qualified as some of my all-time favorites. I usually am pretty hard on critiquing books because I don't want to throw out 5/5 stars frivolously, but two of these... I had to. They were incredible.

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Mother's Day is coming up very quickly, and I think it's especially important to make our moms feel special right now! I know my mom has been doing a lot of extra cooking and cleaning around the house to stay busy during quarantine, as well as trying to stay active, entertained and cozy. I've rounded up a handful of gifts that I think would really brighten any mom's day next weekend!

Nancy Myers Interior Inspiration (Recreate it Under $200!)

all photos in this post via Coco's Tea Party

It feels like everyone on Instagram is talking about Nancy Meyers' movies, so yesterday morning, I decided to put on Home Again while I was doing some blogging. I am seriously not a movie person, but this was so cute. Can Reese Witherspoon do anything wrong?! I especially loved the interior design inspiration. The home is set in LA, and I absolutely loved the casual, coastal design, combined with fun pops of color! 

I was so inspired by the decor that I decided to round up a ton of pieces to recreate the look, and everything is under $200! The whole house is full of candles, fresh flowers, books, trays, rattan and wooden pieces, and pops of warm, bright colors.

This Week's Top 10: The Meaningful One

image via cass dimicco

I've been rounding up ten links for the week for a couple of years now, and admittedly, the value in this weekly series really varies... from materialistic shoppable roundups to lifestyle recaps, you never know what you are going to get! They rarely come with any introduction, but this week, we are switching it up!

Simple Quarantine Recipes I've Made

I'm in the middle of week two at my apartment in Madison. I decided to come back about a week and a half ago just for a change of pace and to get some things from my apartment, but now I'm kind of loving this test run of living alone and creating a routine for myself, by myself. One of my goals for 2020 was to take a little bit more charge of my own life and make more decisions for myself! Even though this is small, it's been kind of fun to make simple recipes for myself and get creative. Here are some things I've made during quarantine!

Four IG Accounts Inspiring Me Right Now

photo via Sakara

With everything going on right now, I've been trying to distract myself as much as possible and focus on the things and people who give me good, positive vibes only. I've done some Instagram purging lately and have been completely inspired by the following four women! I am very excited to share this little round-up today because everyone on this list is just brightening my quarantine with their content so much! If you enjoy this post, let me know, as I would love to share more inspiring people!!

Bar Cart Inspiration

photo via Mackenzie Horan

After sharing my Quarantine Cocktail Menu and some apartment inspiration, I have to talk a little bit about my own favorite drinks and, of course, share some bar cart decor. I have a lot of favorite drinks, and a very strong desire to have a cute bar cart in my apartment next year to enjoy them!

Quarantine Routine, Productivity Hacks + Online School

How are you doing? I'm heading into my fourth week of social distancing over here and I'm feeling a lot more comfortable than I initially was. I'm taking everything day by day, as I'm sure you are too. Over the last few weeks, I've developed a little quarantine routine that works for me. Not every day do I feel motivated, but having a general plan for the day helps me feel a little more structured and productive. Today I want to dive into how I'm spending my days, managing online school, and spending my time semi-productively.

This Week's Top 10

1. We've made it through another week of quarantine! This week's highlight was heading to Madison to quarantine in my apartment for the week. While I loved being at home with my mom for the first 14 days of quarantine, I needed to get a few things from my apartment at school, and I was just missing being in my apartment. Even though we can't go anywhere, it's just nice to be back at school and pretend that senior year isn't totally over.

2. Speaking of apartments, I am in love with Allie's apartment before-and-after. It's just so cute, creative, and pretty!!! After reading that post, I did a little digging and found this old post of hers on moving to NYC to be quite helpful... definitely bookmarking this for my own move in a few months!

3. On that note, if you missed it this week, I shared some inspiration for my future apartment in a new post on small space decor (my favorite posts to write!)

Favorite At-Home Workouts

I thought it would be fun to share a few at-home workouts that I've been loving lately! I surprisingly have a lot more schoolwork to do now that classes are online (not loving that), but still an ample amount of "free time," which I am doing my best not to spend entirely on Instagram or in my bed (can't say I'm doing that great of a job of that, but trying!).

Loungewear Under $50

First and foremost, I want to say thank you to everyone who shared a suggestion, idea, comment, or thought on my Instagram Story yesterday! It's no secret that I've been putting out more content since being quarantined, and it was so reassuring to hear that you've been loving it. I got so much inspiration from your ideas and suggestions, and I can't wait to share more things in the coming weeks and months!

Small Space Decor: My Future Apartment

never not inspired by Amy Stone's apartment tour

Welcome to another installment of my favorite series, Small Space Decor! Since being stuck at home, I've been thinking a lot about what my ideal quarantine space would look like. Fortunately, I can channel this inspiration into planning a bit for my future apartment! My start date isn't until September, so my fingers are crossed that I can still move to NYC as planned. I am feeling incredibly grateful to have secured a post-grad job, as I can't begin to imagine how stressful it must be for fellow college seniors who are in the middle of the job-hunting process. (if that is you, check out my interview tips blog post here!).

April Moodboard + Mindset

Even though I have no idea what day it is most of the time, I'm surprised we are already almost a week into April. This month I want to focus on gratitude.

This Week's Top 10

image via Pinterest -- what I wish my WFH set-up looked like

Omg, can I just say that the content this quarantine is getting me so excited?! I've been so motivated to blog, as it is the most productive way for me to procrastinate school. Is that a good thing? Unsure.. but if it's wrong, I don't want to be right.

This Week's Top 10 is so packed that I actually had to organize it into categories, LOL.
I hope you enjoy it!

1. EXCITING NEWS! So, we moved into this house the summer before my senior of high school. I love this house... it's close to downtown while still feeling like a cozy, quaint suburb. It's absolutely gorgeous around our neighborhood, and I get the best vibes. HOWEVER. There is one thing that has driven me crazy since the get-go, and it's our kitchen cabinets. I despise the cabinet pulls. They are black, and they are so ugly, and I think about it every single time I take a picture of something in my kitchen. WELL, this quarantine has found my mom and I redoing our cabinets and pulls!!! I am ecstatic. I cannot wait to share the transformation! It's a small upgrade, but I think it is going to make a huge difference.

2. On this topic, Studio McGee, one of my favorite interior design accounts to follow, recently released a collection at Target! There are some very cute things, all at great prices! I love the neutral theme. You can click to shop a few of my favorite pieces from the collection below:

3. Going vegan isn't something I think I will ever actually do, but the concept intrigues me. I think about it a lot. I support veganism and absolutely love the effects it seems to have on (most peoples') bodies and the environment. Jess's blog post on her recent transition to a vegan diet really has me wanting to try it.. maybe I could make the switch just a few days a week?

4. Man Repeller (yes, I'm obsessed) posted my favorite article.... of all time, possibly. WEIRD FOOD COMBINATION SNACKS!!! The article gave me some really good inspo for future snacking endeavors... My personal favorite snack combinations are Frito's dipped in sour cream, and grapes dipped in peanut butter. I'm sorry... I know it's weird... this is something I've been keeping to myself for a while, and I finally feel enough validation from this article to share.

5. I just discovered Scribd and thought I'd share! It's an app with magazines, books, and audiobooks, and they're offering a month free with no credit card required. How nice! I've never listened to an audiobook before, so I'm thinking I'll download the app and give it a try! I have heard great things about Jessica Simpon's memoir!

6. I watched episode 23 of 20/20 the other night because (1) my friend recommended it to me, and (2) after reading Verity, I've been strangely obsessed with morbidity. This particular episode (The Chameleon) is about a serial killer, and not only was this absolutely fascinating and horrifying, but it held my attention, which is very hard to do.

7. Taking a long walk and getting outside has made me feel much better about the amount of time I spend in my bed these days. I love listening to a podcast while I walk, so if you need a little motivation, let me recommend Gals on the Go, NPR Tiny Desk Concerts, My Favorite Murder, or The Morning Toast!

(addition: I just read this thread on Twitter... a professor wrote the things she's experienced with students since the transition to online classes. It is so sweet, thoughtful, and eye-opening. Worth a read)

S E L F - C A R E
8. I love painting my nails; it always makes me feel more put together. I posted about my favorite red nail polish on my Instagram Story the other day, and I was surprised how many of you actually cared what my favorite polish color is... haha. If you're in need of a bright, classic, gorgeous red, this (called "red-iance") is my all-time favorite!!
Also love this post by Krista on how to get the perfect at-home manicure!

9. I've been missing my Daily Stoic book so much since I left it at school. It is the best way to do a little self vibe-check every morning. It just really puts our lives into perspective, which is nice in times like these, where we need an extra reminder of what is in our control, and what is not.

10. Here's another reminder to encourage you to do a little personal writing during this time! If you need a quarantine activity, whether you're bored, need to get your thoughts out, or just want to feel a bit more productive, you can check out my writing prompts here.

Happy Friday, even though everyday kind of feels like the weekend anyway...

My Quarantine Cocktail Menu

I've been ~in the house bored~ lately and making random cocktails most nights for a quarantine cocktail hour. I shared one of them the other night and some of you asked me to share more cocktail recipes! In typical fashion, that got me way too excited and resulted in this "Quarantine Cocktail Menu." I had so much fun naming these drinks; I hope you enjoy them as much as I do! Yes, I think I'm really funny.

March Favorites

Was March not the weirdest month... ever? Or what? For me, the first two weeks were spent at school, then spring break, then all of a sudden, quarantine at home (which isn't ending any time soon). At the beginning of the month, Coronavirus seemed like such a distant worry. A month ago, none of my classes were canceled, graduation was still on my radar, and senior year was really fun. Suddenly, as if overnight, I found myself reading the news 100 times a day and unable to go back to school to even grab my books and binders for class. A month ago, who saw any of this coming?!