Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gimme Some Bloglovin'

You may have noticed a link at the bottom of my posts recently that says, "follow my blog with bloglovin" (and I have a button with the same words on my sidebar). So, I thought I'd fill you in on the blog-reading tool, Bloglovin'

Bloglovin' is a website and app that manages the blogs you follow. Basically, you "follow" blogs you like which creates a feed of blog posts. An update of new blog posts in your feed is emailed periodically. You can also save stories that you want to come back to later. 

Secondly, it's a fun way to find new blogs! Bloglovin' has a section of their website devoted to exploring new blogs where you can search for blogs by topic. Plus they send suggestions based on other blogs you follow in your digest emails. 

Basically, Bloglovin' helps you manage the blogs you already love and find new ones! 

Had you heard of Bloglovin' before? Are you already a Bloglovin' user? What do you like about it? 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Spring Cleaning - The Products (aka Friday Favs!)

Great to see you again, Friday! 

Even though the weather here has sort of gone back to winter, it's time for... 
Friday Favs - Spring Cleaning Edition! 

Today, in my last spring-cleaning-themed post, I've decided to share some of the cleaning products that I use regularly. For me, cleaning is all about simple and easy! As products run out I'm trying to purchase things that are more natural and environmentally friendly. 

  • Method: All-Purpose Cleaner
    • I'm a fan of method products overall so it's no surprise that I like this all-purpose cleaner. I use it on basically everything: stove, surfaces, microwave, sinks, etc. Just spray and wipe with a paper towel or cloth. Bonus it smells so good (aka not like most cleaners).  Also, the on bottle instructions read, "to use: spray. wipe. admire." - so cute! 
  • Swiffer: Sweeper and Cloths
    • I still remember the lemony scent of the Pledge that my parents used for dusting while I was a kid, but nostalgia hasn't effected by dusting product choices. Swiffer Sweeper Cloths are great for quickly dusting. After sweeping, I use the Swiffer Wet Cloths on floors. 
  • Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day: Room Freshener
    • This isn't exactly a cleaning product, but you get the idea. When living in an apartment in can be hard to control smells in the building. Examples: someone cooks bacon, someone orders take-out, or someone smokes (even though it's against the rules). This spray helps for sure! Plus, a little goes a long way!
  • Scotch Brite: Soap Scum Eraser
    • I'm all about easy when it comes to cleaning and this product is perfect for the shower/tub and sink! One side is an eraser and the other is a foam sponge. It removes water spots and soap scum with just a bit of water. 
(This is not a sponsored post. Opinions are my own.)

Check out the other posts in my spring cleaning series: The PlaylistThe PlanThe Purge

What's your cleaning product MO? 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Cleaning - The Purge

I'd like to share some very personal pictures with you all today. 
It's not something I show to everybody. 
I trust that you will not be judgmental or critical. 
I hope you'll appreciate my honesty.  


Here goes nothing! 

My closets. 
(What did you think I was going to show you? Also, how lucky am I that my 1930's apartment has so much closet space!)

Linen Closet -- Pantry -- Coat Closet

Bedroom Closet -- Bathroom Cupboard

My spring cleaning list (yeah, I'm still working on it - priority moved to grad school last week when a final took me a lot longer than I'd expected) requires me EMPTY each closet, clean inside and go through everything before refilling. Confession: I love this sort of task, but it is taking a while. During the process, I thought of a few tips to share:

1. For The Sort: Create a "sorting center". 
     Before you empty a closet, have these five stations ready to go: Keep, Consign, Donate, Move, and Trash. I've seen others use fewer categories, but here's my logic. Keep and Trash are pretty self-explanatory. I like to separate consign and donate, because I know that some items won't be accepted by consignment stores. The "Move" category is for items that actually belong somewhere else or to someone else.

[Tip: Go to the consignment shop BEFORE taking items to donate. I usually end up donating anything that the consignment shop won't take]

2. Sort Part Two: Like Items
During the sorting process, I found some random things that were not with like items. Use this time as a chance to put similar things together. 

3. Refilling: Be open minded!
     Don't be afraid to try new ways of arranging what was in the closet. Hopefully the closet will be less full so you have new options to explore! Plus, you might find something that distracts you (like a box of sorority notes and mementos) between the empty and refill and then you totally forget where everything was before anyway!

[Tip: This is also a great time to reconsider the use storage contains and switch uses if needed!]

4. Use it!
     Samples: I found all sorts of samples in my bathroom cupboard. Many of them have been in there for a while and they were just adding clutter. Anyway, this week I'm using them all up.

     Pantry Items: Plan meals to get rid of pantry items that are almost gone. I'm leaving mine out of the pantry so I think about using them up.

Check out the other posts in my spring cleaning series:
The Plan
The Playlist

I want to hear from you! Do you follow any of these closet cleaning/organizing tips already? What is your best closet organization tip?

Friday, March 20, 2015


Happy First Day of Spring!

I had planned to write a spring cleaning themed Friday Fav's post today, but got distracted by the final I must turn in on Monday along with all the great basketball games today/yesterday and changed my mind. (Seriously, I love March Madness (even though Valpo lost today). So many amazingly-close games!) 

Instead, I will share a few of the pictures that I took in my garden today after clearing away some leaves. 

I love the first signs of spring! 

Flowers bursting through the soil. 
Birds chirping.
Slightly warmer breezes. 

I planted these tulips in the fall so I was most excited to see them!



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Spring Cleaning - The Plan

Spring Cleaning Continues! 

Being a type-A/planner/list addict, I decided that having a checklist would give my cleaning frenzy some focus. Of course, I turned to Pinterest to find one! 

After a bit of deliberation, I chose the list found in this post from Little Ms Robinson. I thought it was comprehensive and appreciated how it broke each room into small tasks. I love checking boxes so the more chances I get to do so the happier I am! Also, I like that she includes a section about computer clean-up too! 

(This week I'm focusing on spring cleaning. Check out my first post about my Spring Cleaning Playlist.)

I want to hear from you! Is spring cleaning on your to do list this week? What's your spring cleaning plan? 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring Cleaning - The Playlist

I've lived in my apartment for a little over 2 years and embarrassingly I've probably never seriously deep cleaned it. (I clean just not super thoroughly) With myself in the midst of a job search and a frequent lack of focus in the afternoon, I've decided to devote the afternoons of this week to spring cleaning! (And you'll notice that theme in my posts this week)

(Well, I sort of started last week with some serious laptop refreshing. Seriously, I hate free antivirus software.) 

I decided that one of the most important features of spring cleaning was a solid playlist. And I've probably spent more time on that than I will on the actually cleaning...

Music can totally change your mood. Don't you agree? It can take you from grumpy to joyous in 3ish minutes. Crazy!

So, here's the playlist. "Fresh start" was in my mind as I was picking songs. It is a mix of feel-good uplifting and moody.

I want to hear from you! Do you have a musical ritual when it comes to cleaning?  

Friday, March 13, 2015

Friday Favs - Make-Up Edition

It's Friday the 13th! Do you know that means? Black Cats and Broken Mirrors? Just kidding! Friday Favs! 

Today I'm sharing items from my make-up bag! 

I'm a 5 (well maybe 7) minute face girl and keep my make-up routine pretty simple (see what I did there - makeup? pretty simple?), but I do have some serious favorites. Here they are! 

      Love this eye shadow palette! It's versatile and the shades brighten my eyes. The shadows wear well too. Bonus: Pacifica is 100% vegan and cruelty free and I got this palette at my friend's cute shop, Everfield, which features cruelty free, organic, vegan, and natural products. 

     My brows have a few bare spots, but eyebrow pencils freak me out so I was so glad when I found this product. Inside there are two shades of powder, a tinted wax, tweezers and a brush. I listened closely to the women at the salon, but this product pretty easy to use and long wearing. It is a splurge in terms of budget, but mine has lasted a long time! 

     Mary Kay lipstick is one of my can't live without items. It is creamy and long wearing. It doesn't get clumpy or bleed onto my face. Plus it doesn't try out my lips and it comes in all sorts of great shades. 

     My most favorite mascara! It makes my lashes full and long and doesn't flake off during the day. It makes sense that it's one of Mary Kay's best sellers because this mascara is awesome! 

    This is a fantastic lip gloss. It gives great color and is perfect alone or over a lipstick. This lipgloss is not sticky at all. 

So there you have it! My make-up bag favorites! 

(This is not a sponsored post.)

Are any of these items in your make-up bag? What are your favorite make-up items? 

Monday, March 9, 2015

AmeriCorps Week

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March 9th to 13th is AmeriCorps Week. The goal of AmeriCorps Week is to recognize the commitment of AmeriCorps members and alums by highlighting the impact AmeriCorps has everyday. My first two jobs out of college were in AmeriCorps totaling about a year and a half of service. 
As a proud AmeriCorps alum, I figured I should celebrate. What better a way than to make a list!

Why I'm Thankful for My AmeriCorps Service:

  • I got to serve my community through two local nonprofits 
  • I learned how two organizations were structured and started to meet local nonprofit leaders, volunteers, and Board members
  • Each role helped me to develop my creativity and resourcefulness (AmeriCorps is a grant-based program so funds are not abundant) 
  • I was able to experience new things like a Board meeting and assisting with a grant proposal and presentation
  • After my service ended, I received scholarship funds that helped offset the cost of grad school
  • I learned to manage on a (super) small budget and discovered how to apply for food assistance
  • I met other awesome AmeriCorps members and attended some training sessions with them as well as the Iowa Nonprofit Summit
  • I celebrated a few Days of Service each year by planning/participating in service projects
  • My service confirmed that I'm more motivated by feeling like I'm making a difference than a salary

AmeriCorps Fast Facts:

  • 900,000: Number of individuals who have served as AmeriCorps members since 1994.
  • 1.2 Billion: Total number of hours served by AmeriCorps members.
  • $2.8 Billion: Total amount of Segal AmeriCorps Education Awards earned by AmeriCorps members.
  • 4 Million: Number of community volunteers managed or mobilized by AmeriCorps members in 2014.
  • $625 million: Amount of resources from private, philanthropic, and other sources leveraged by AmeriCorps programs each year.
  • 25,000: Number of sites that AmeriCorps members serve at each year.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Friday Favs - New Favorite Tech Thing

Serious Confession: Every single time I think of/hear the words "favorite thing" (who am I kidding? Just "favorite" does it too.), at least five words from The Sound of Music's Favorite Things pop into my head. 
Maria aka Julie Andrews doesn't mention my new favorite thing, but I'm sure if there was wi-fi and iPhone's in Maria's time, she'd agree with me. 

My new favorite thing is... Listening to Podcasts

Honestly, until last Sunday I didn't even know how to even go about listening to one. Now, they are my new favorite gym companion. And I've spent a ridiculous amount of time browsing titles to find things I might want to listen all that I've seen are free!

Confession # 2: So far, I've only listened to Serial, but it is so good and makes time on the treadmill move along pretty quickly. 

I created a page with all of my Friday Fav posts. Check it out!

Am I the last person to have heard of Podcasts? Which are your favorite to listen to? 

Monday, March 2, 2015


I am no longer amused by winter. I lost my tolerance for it at the start of January.

However, a few nights ago I was reminded that it can still be beautiful. As I prepared for bed and turned off the lights in my apartment, I noticed it was brighter than usual. 

Small flurries were floating in the air and they were reflecting and magnifying the beams of brightness from the street light on the corner. 

My apartment was filled with light. It was beautiful and peaceful. The glow was warm.

There was a glimmer of beauty and brightness in the dark and cold winter. Hope for a warm spring sun in the midst of winter darkness.

(Don't worry. I haven't changed my mind about winter - I'm still ready for it to be over.)

One more exciting thing: One of my tweets about Downton Abbey last night was featured on Storify

Last thing: I updated my Stitch Fix post sharing what item I kept from my February box!