Tuesday, March 29, 2016

2016 Reading Challenges Update #1

I mentioned at the end of 2015 that I was going to use the PopSugar reading challenge to guide some of my reading decisions this year. Since then, I've also taken on a GoodReads reading goal and I'm now aiming to complete 20 books in 2016 - something that will definitely be a challenge but also something that I definitely think I can accomplish. I thought I'd share with you all some periodic updates on how these challenges are going to keep myself accountable! Here's how I've done so far this year:

GoodReads Yearly Reading Goal: 4/20
PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge: 4/40

"Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert

PopSugar Category: A self-improvement book
Hard copy, 5/5

This is definitely my favorite book that I've read so far this year. It's a non-fiction book that talks about the creative process, inspiration, and really gives a unique perspective into living a creative life. I flagged so many pages in this book and I felt so motivated while reading this to do something creative. I really hope that there are more books related to this topic somewhere out there because I would love to read them!

"Party Girl" by Rachel Hollis
PopSugar Category: A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
Kindle eBook, 3.5/5

I chose this title when I was trying to fulfill the PopSugar category. I went more of the Event Planner route over the HigherEd professional route and this was really the only novel that I could find (everything else was a how-to book of planning events). I really didn't have high hopes for this book but it actually wasn't that bad. The story was your typical small-town-girl-attempts-to-make-it-in-a-big-city stories so the plot line was often predictable and some lines were extremely cheesy and cringe-worthy, but it's a fun, lighthearted read so I didn't hate it!

"Binge" by Tyler Oakley
PopSugar: A book written by a celebrity
Audiobook, 4/5

I'm a big fan of Tyler Oakley's podcasts and videos (as I am with many YouTubers) and when he came out with his book I knew it would be the perfect thing to listen to on audioook. The author's personality shines right through his writing and of course even more so through his reading of the book itself. I bought this to listen to while passing the time on my long runs, but it also carried over into my commutes and it had me giggling the whole way through! I definitely enjoyed this fun and goofy title.

"Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K.Rowling
PopSugar Category Category: A book garunteed to bring you joy
Hard copy, 5/5

I found this book while I was house/cat sitting for my friends and read it all in an hour. For those of you unfamiliar, this is a book of fables from the Wizarding World and it is so creative and unique. I half forgot just how elaborate the world that J.K. Rowling created is but this book is a definite reminder to how much has gone into this franchise. I am so pumped for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it releases at the end of 2016, and I would love to see an adaptation to this book as well!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Winter 2015/2016 Favorites!

It's springtime! Hooray! That means I get to share with you all what my favorite things of the winter are! I love shooting these kinds of videos, and in the past I've written out a little paragraph about each product over here on the blog in addition to sharing the video, but this month I figured it would be *much* easier to just share my favorites video with you and let you hit play! I've also included links to the products you'll be able to check out for yourself right underneath the video as well. I hope you all enjoy!

Items discussed in the video:

BOOK: "Big Magic" by Elizabeth Gilbert

ACCESSORY: Sunglasses from Florida


FOOD: Montreal Bagels (St. Viateur)

BODY: Midnight Pomegranate Body Spray from BBW

HAIR: Pantene Pro-V Serious Repair Detangler

TECH: GorillaPod

HOME/OFFICE: Dumbledore FunkoPop 
Journal & Glue Dot Runner

INTERNET: SimCity Let's Play Videos (BDoubleO100
Flight Attendant Vlogs (Jenny Ernst & Shiba Style)

MEMORIES: Florida Trip + Montreal Trip

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring Style Dreams

Spring is finally here everyone! (Even though we just got a snowstorm yesterday.... #NewEngland) I'm excited to finally wear springy clothes, shed a few layers of coats, and finally not have to wear heavy socks and clunky boots everywhere (anyone who knows me at all knows that I prefer to be barefoot, but if I have to wear shoes I'm a sockless-with-slip-ons kinda gal). Something that I believe I've only done once before on this blog, I thought I'd put together a style dream board for spring. Because, why not? Enjoy!

Maxi Dresses - I've only just recently (i.e. last spring/summer) gotten on board the maxi dress train and I honestly don't understand why i didn't hop on sooner. Maxi dresses are comfortable AF - it's basically like you're wearing a form-fitting blanket around under the disguise of it being formal or dressy. Now that the ground is drying up, it's officially safe to start wearing maxis around once again and I am super pumped! I'm hoping to grow my collection a bit over the warmer months this year.

Slouchy Cardigans - Although it may be warming up in New England, we're still at a time of the year where the temperature is doing whatever it wants and is basically confusing everyone at all times. Is it hot? Is it cold? WHO KNOWS. All I know is having a solid collection of slouchy comfy cardigans is always a good idea and, in my opinion, are still a perfect wardrobe accessory in the springtime.

Boyfriend Jeans - If you can't tell, the over all theme to this post/my life is comfort. Jeans are no exception to this rule, and the fashion industry caters to people like me with the boyfriend style of jeans. Loose and comfy yet still feminine - I'm a big fan. Pair these with cute sneakers and a fun tee, it's the perfect combo for a spring day out and about town, or for lounging around the house.

Round, Horn-Rimmed Sunglasses - This style of sunglasses is my new favorite. I just picked up a similar pair while I was in Florida and while I'm usually pretty picky about the sunglasses I wear, I really like the way this style looks on me! I'll probably be rocking my pair all spring and summer long.

Bright Yellow Handbag - With the reemergence of the sun comes the reemergence of my love for NEON. I recently moved into my Flouro Pink Filofax Original in celebration and I now have my sights set on a bright yellow handbag to take on the go. I particularly like the one pictured above, the Merona Mini Satchel Handbag in Peace Green (though we all know this is neon yellow) from Target. I have a feeling that I'll be popping into my local Target sometime in the near future to make this gem mine!

Sperry Original Boat Shoes - As I said in my intro, I'm really a no-socks-slip-ons kind of gal when it comes to footwear. The easier the better, and nothing is easier than a comfy pair of boat shoes. Sadly, one of the Sperry Originals that my mom so kindly bought for me last year went M.I.A. toward the end of last summer and I have zero idea where it went (I think it fell out of my trunk when I was moving laundry in and out and it was never found again). So sad! I loved these shoes to death so I need to invest in a new pair. They're seriously the perfect pairing to almost any outfit and absolutely fantastic for spring.

Woven Flats - This style of shoe is making a serious comeback and the cross between sandal and ballet flat makes it a great pick for spring. I can totally see myself living in a pair of these throughout the entire spring and summer months, and even stretching it into fall! Though I have a feeling a pair of shoes like this is going to give me a seriously funky tan line on my feet!

What styles are you eyeing for spring?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Few of my Favorite Links {#20}

This is the 20th installation of my favorite links posts which is crazy! I really have been enjoying throwing these lists together as posts to share with you all. As I look back at my older favorite links posts it gives me an insight of what I was into at that point in time. I hope you all enjoy them as well!

In the last few favorite links posts, I've been giving a bit of a life update at the beginning to let you all know what I've been up to if you don't watch my weekly vlogs, but I've recently posted two entries about my travels to Fort Lauderdale and to Montréal and those are really the big things that have happened in my life recently so I figured instead of repeating myself here, you can go check those entires out instead! As for now, I'm going to hop right into the links I've been loving lately!

Everything You Should Know Before Trying to Cut Down on Sugar

I'll be the first to admit that my sugar addiction is out of control. I've had the biggest sweet tooth my entire life, and I know it's a huge problem as an adult. I've been trying to cut down on my sugar intake here and there (though admittedly, stopping by Dunkies every morning does not help!) but it is tough. Sugar intake IS an addiction, and I was delighted to stumble upon this article which provides insight on how to prepare to reduce the sugar you add to your diet. If you're like me and have a sugar addiction, I would highly recommend reading this quick article to better understand on how you can cut back in a safe/sane way.

Mac Miller Unloads on Donald Trump

This is awesome. Mac Miller, a multi-platinum rap artist who is particularly famous for a song he wrote a few years ago called Donald Trump, basically unleashes hell on Donald Trump and it. is. incredible. He uses his privilege as a white man to say what basically all of us are thinking. There's really no words to describe how amazing not only his speech is, but the pure joy that Miller gets from ripping Trump to shreds is written all over his face. I love it and could literally spend all day just replaying this video.

These pieces of art are equal parts beautiful and awesome. I have no idea how you make stained glass, let along manipulate to pattern to make amazing replicas of video game characters and items, so needless to say I'm thoroughly impressed. The best part - all of the ones displayed on this post are Nintendo-themed which, in my humble opinion, is the best gaming company ever. Of course, my favorite ones were the Pokémon stained glass pieces, but I can definitely appreciate all of the other designs as well!

Elephants That Think They're Lap Dogs

I think there's really no reason for me to explain why I love this so much. My friend Cullen put this on my wall with the comment "Is this your dream come true?" ...Uhmmmm OBVIOUSLY. I basically cried tears of joy and jealousy watching this video. So cayuuuttteee. Someone get me to a baby elephant sanctuary pronto so I can live there forever, please and thank you!

Lap elephants!
Posted by The Huffington Post on Thursday, March 10, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

#ACPeh: ACPA 2016 Convention in Montréal Recap!

Hi Y'all! I know I haven't posted in over a week - sorry about that! All of this travel has got my posting schedule thrown off a bit and I've been trying to get on top of all of my other life-stuff before getting back into the groove of posting 2 blog entries and 2 videos each week. But I'm back and feeling a bit caught up on everything, so it's time for a bit of a recap!

A week an a half ago my friends Erin, Cullen and I road tripped up to Montréal! Erin and I were attending the ACPA 2016 Convention and Cullen tagged along as his job has an office in the area that he could work from. The adventure commenced early Saturday morning. We stopped at a local restaurant to get breakfast sandwiches and coffee and we were northbound! My friend/fellow Laser Andrew who is a second year grad at UVM met up with us in Burlington for lunch and showed us around the world famous (or should I say famous in the world of Student Activities/Student Unions) Davis Center!

About an hour and forty-five minutes more of driving we arrived in Montréal and immediately started exploring! Erin and I checked in at the conference center and then we made our way to Montréal En Lumiere (one of my Montréal Bucket List items) which was this awesome free festival of lights in the middle of the city! We spent most of the night there eating delicious Beligian waffles and poutine (another item off the list!), practicing our French (which was mainly me teaching them how to speak French XD), and listening to live music. We attempted to find a bar to stop in for a drink on the way back but after an hour of searching around could NOT for the life of us find somewhere that wasn't super upscale, so we just settled for the hotel bar so we could at least get out of the cold!

We stumbled upon the Montréal Olympic House on our way to the festival!

Grumpy cats.

Our new BFF.

Sunday we had some time to kill in the morning, so we checked out Marché Jean-Talon (Another item from the list! Crushed the bucket list pretty hard within the first 24 hours!) for brunch. We got crepes, maple snow on a stick (one of my fave Canadian treats) and walked around for a bit learning how to say different foods in French. After our little stroll we headed up Mount Royal (the mountain Montréal is named after) to catch a breathtaking view of the city! We finished up the afternoon with some lunch at this neat vegetarian Mexican restaurant and I got the nachos which were INCREDIBLE but also a big enough serving for about 4 other people.

If you opened the drawer at the table you were sitting at you would find tons of notes from past patrons. Such a cool idea - I was in love with it! Of course, we had to leave a note of our own.

After a quick break at the hotel it was time to head over to the convention center for Convention kick-off! We started out pretty low-key by attending a few receptions and the opening ceremony. We definitely needed to take the first night of convention easy as we had a long, long convention chock-full of learning and networking ahead of us.

The opening ceremony incorporated a Native ritual and spoke to the Native Canadian history. 
This was really cool to experience as Native history often gets overlooked in the United States.

The first full day of convention was packed with educational sessions starting right from 8:30PM and running until 4PM. I went to a few very interesting sessions on social media, one of which spoke to what to expect if you or a student of yours goes viral on the internet and what implications that would have on the profession (how would we support our students in that situation?). I had a bit of a life curve-ball thrown at me in the afternoon which made the day a bit weird in general, but I was happy to have my good friend and colleague Erin there to give me support. We spent the evening going out for dumplings in Chinatown (our hotel was right down the street from it) and crashing various receptions (such as the Friend of Ohio State reception, pictured below) to meet new people. We woundup at the LGBTA Soirée later in the evening and danced the night away!

Full-day #2 was more of the same - tons of educational sessions, receptions, and meeting new people from all over the field. My *favorite* component of the conference was on this day - the #HigherEdLive Contested Issues in Student Affairs debates. This was one of the highlighted sessions where pairs of HigherEd professionals debated over hot topics in the field such as "Is having a Master's degree in Higher Education really the best preparation for a career in Student Affairs?", "Is coddling good for students?", and "Is it better to move up in your institution or move out to another institution?". I hope that they continue this session as a tradition at ACPA because these are the things I love seeing discussed in our field! 

We ended the last evening by attending the traditional PechaKuchas put on by several professionals as well as the LGBTA Cabaret, another ACPA tradition. I left these events at the end of the evening feeling more connected to this association than I've really ever felt to another other professional association that I've tried out thus far. I've heard a lot of my colleagues talking about "finding your professional home" but I never really understood that until I attended this year's convention and I have to be honest - it feels really great. I'm hoping to become more involved in ACPA in some way, shape, or form over the next year to see where it takes me.

"We are part of an association that put who we are as PEOPLE ahead of who we are as professionals."

We squeezed one last educational session in on the last morning before scooping up some Montréal bagels (which A. another item off the list and B. OMG ARE MY NEW FAVORITE FOOD OF ALL TIME AJGHLJGHLAJFHKJAS) and heading home to the States. Needless to say, I really enjoyed my time in Canada and would love to visit again soon. I'm looking forward to getting more involved with ACPA as a professional and hope to be a part of the 2017 Convention in Columbus, Ohio!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Montréal Bucket List

As mentioned in my previous post, I'm heading up to the Great White North tomorrow for ACPA 2016! We will have some free time this weekend to check the city out, and as I haven't been up to Montréal since I was in middle school (and we were really there for my sister's softball tournament anyway), I'm totally up for some tourist-ing while I'm there! Here's a quick list of what I hope to accomplish while I'm in Canada over the next couple of days!

Get welcomed by a talking beaver.

This is one of my favorite classic YouTube videos and I wish this was a thing that actually happened in Canada (though it totally seems like it could happen, right?). Such a friendly little beaver! Though I know, unfortunately, I won't be able to check this off the list, I wanted to include this on the list for laughs I highly encourage you to click play for a smile! (Make sure that your volume is turned on!) And don't worry - he does get rescued from the highway without injury!

Eat poutine.

This is kind of a no-brainer. I mean, did you even go to Canada if you don't eat Poutine? You can get this Canadian delicacy literally anywhere in country it seems, so I'm looking forward to getting a nice heaping plate of warm fries and gravy!

Visit Montréal en Lumière.

This is a cool winter night time festival that I stumbled upon while searching for things to do in my free time and it just so happens we'll be arriving in Montréal on the very last night! This will be a cool little re-acquaintance to the city packed with lights, shops, rides, entertainment, and (one of my favorite Canadian treats) maple syrup taffy! YUM.
Test out a Montréal-style bagel.

I didn't even realize this was a thing until Erin and Cullen pointed it out to me. Apparently in Montréal, bagels are prepared much differently than the New York style bagel that we north easterners are used to. Bagels are probably my favorite food, so of course I'm down for eating one of these bad boys every morning that I'm up there!

Get a Tim Horton's every day.

Speaking of breakfast, I totally need to get a Tim Horton's coffee every day while I'm in Montréal. I remember when I was in middle school and my family was in Montréal for my sister's softball tournaments, it was a morning ritual for all of the adults to grab some Tim Horton's before early games. Now that I'm a coffee drinker (#adultlife) I need to know what the hype is all about! I know Canadians love their Tim Horton's the way I love my Dunks, so I'm all in!

Take a stroll through Marché Jean-Talon.

Last, but not least, is the Marché Jean-Talon. I'm a big fan of large markets like this so I would love to check it out for some fresh fruits to bring back to the hotel room. Markets are also an awesome way to connect with the culture of the city a bit more which is what traveling is all about! I'm definitely hoping that we can squeeze this into our free time while we're up north!

Do you have any suggestions of things I can do while in Montréal?
Leave them in the comments!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Professional Convention Survival Kit

Happy Convention Season, everyone! Several huge conventions and conferences have already come and gone both nationally and in my region (NACA, NODA, and NGLA, to name a few!) and we're knocking on the door of our field's biggest conventions of the year - the ACPA National Convention in Montréal, and the NASPA National Convention in Indianapolis! I'm lucky enough to be able to attend ACPA with a colleague and friend of mine from MHC and I'm super excited! This will be my first professional convention as an #SApro and I couldn't be more thrilled to network with colleagues from all around the world!

As I gear up for my time in Canada I'm reflecting back on my first time at a professional conference and thinking about all the things I wish I knew before. I've compiled a little survival kit for all of you first time conference-goers so hopefully you can feel comfortable, prepared, and you can totally focus on networking and learning during your time at your convention! I wrote this with mainly Student Affairs conventions in mind, but this can very easily translate to professional conventions of other fields, so please feel free to incorporate whatever makes sense into your professional convention survival kit!

1. Water Bottle
This is super-duper important. When you're at a conference, you might be walking around way more than you realize and probably drinking more coffee than you realize to make it through these long days. Make sure you always have a bottle of water in your bag to sip on throughout the day. I recommend the 17.5 oz. S'well bottle - I've had mine for over a year and I love it. It will keep your water nice and cold for 24 hours which is perfect for being in the convention center without access to a refrigerator throughout the day.

2. Comfy-yet-Professional Shoes
As I mentioned in my last post, you're walking a lot during a professional convention and those heels that might look sharp on the morning of Day 1 will likely make your poor feet beg for mercy by lunch time! If you opt for heels, I would recommend sticking a professional pair of flats in your bag to change into if you want to give your feet a break in the middle of the day. You'll be comfy and still look super profesh.

3. Pocket-Pack of Tissues
The last thing you want mid-educational-session is a runny nose and no option of what to do about it. A pocket-pack of tissues is a perfect solution - it's tiny, fits right in your bag or pocket, and can potentially be a life saver when you can't get to a bathroom or back to your hotel room for a while. Keep one of these on hand for some peace of mind!

4. Gum or Mints
When you're at a conference, you're talking and networking with lots of people throughout the entire event and that even includes directly after you had that bowl of pasta with extra garlic bread during your lunch break. Pack some gum or mints with you in your bag or pockets for when your mouth is feeling a little gross and you can't get back to your hotel room to brush your teeth.

5. Lip Balm
Convention centers can be on the dryer side and depending on what region of the country you're traveling to, the wind or sun can be a bit more intense making chapped lips a big possibility. Combine that with the amount of talking you'll likely be doing (be it through presenting, networking, or some good old fashioned socializing), it can be a pretty uncomfortable time to have cracked, dry lips. Pack a good moisturizing lip balm (mine's the classic original Chapstick moisturizer with SPF 12) to keep your lips feeling good!

6. Excedrin/Tylenol/Advil etc. & Any Medication Needs
Headaches are pretty common for me and with all of the walking, talking, long hours, and caffeine that a convention entails, they seem to be triggered even easier. Always having an emergency supply of pain relief in my bag is key for conference-going (and for life) so I can feel like myself throughout each day. Also remember to take along any other medication needs you might have and are able to bring with you comfortably so you don't have to miss a session you've been eyeing by running back to your room!

7. Business Cards
As I've said several times before in this post, networking is a big part of conferences! Having some business cards handy is always way easier than scrambling for a pen and paper to write down your information for someone. My institution has provided me with business cards, but if you don't have university-issued cards, it is relatively cheap to print your own. I used Moo as a grad student and you can make some really cool cards! Remember to keep your information simple and to the point, including your name, title, institution, and a means of contacting you.

8. Something to Write With & Something to Write On
Conventions are also a great place to learn! Educational sessions are probably my favorite parts about conventions and I take a *ton* of notes when learning from my colleagues. Having a way to write down things you want to remember to bring back to campus with you is always handy! I like to carry a small notebook & a pen (I'm planning on using my FoxyDori and my favorite Pilot G2 pens!) but sometimes I opt for my iPad and the Microsoft OneNote app instead.

9. Your Convention's Electronic Program
Many conventions are adopting an electronic program which I'm a huge fan of! These apps allow you to add any session you want to attend to a schedule and it pings you when it's close to time to that session which is so helpful when you get distracted with everything that goes on at a convention. I've used guidebook and a specialized NACA electronic program, and for ACPA '16 the convention program is on an app called CrowdCompass. If you utilize a smartphone or a tablet during your time at a convention, I highly recommend using one of these apps in favor of toting around the giant convention guidebook!

10. Portable Power Bank + Phone Charger
These things are a total life saver when you're in the convention center all day! It's likely that you'll be constantly checking your electronic program, tweeting along at educational sessions, and texting your colleagues to set up lunch plans. Usually a portable power bank will hold at least one full charge worth of power for your phone, so having one charged up and ready to go will help you out when you don't have time to search high and low for an outlet!

I hope this little survival kit helps you get through your convention of choice this season!
Let me know what your convention survival essential is in the comments!