Saturday, January 31, 2015

January Reflection



HAPPY LAST DAY OF JANUARY! We did it, guys! We made it through the first month of 2015 rather painlessly, no? It has been a very cold month, that is for sure. I'm not sure how many of you live where there's four seasons, but for those of you in the Midwest/Northeast—how are you doing? Are you sick of windchill too?

I spent the first half of this month at home still, enjoying my winter break to its fullest extent (AKA lots of time spent with family and working, with the occasional joyous presence of a friend sprinkled somewhere in that mix). Moving back in for spring semester went relatively flawlessly, though I was without a Keurig for an entire week, which equated to no coffee for six days. That was really tough, I'm not even going to lie. However, I survived and came out a stronger person...and promptly got my own Keuring that I love with my whole heart.

Currently, I'm taking five classes and out of those five I absolutely detest four of them. Unfortunately, one is absolutely required for my major, one is an elective for my major with a very misleading title and course description (but the lesser of a few evils), and two are the easiest courses for gen-ed requirements. Good news is that I love my Spanish class and professor, which makes my Latin American Society and Culture class that much more interesting and bearable. Praying that fall semester brings better classes!

The only two things I've been able to cross of my 2015 to-do list this month was going to the Albright Knox Art Museum (though this means I still have to go to the Cleveland Art Museum now...) and learn how to cook something other than rice pilaf. Although...I'm not entirely sure if grilling chicken on a George Foreman grill and cooking asparagus on the stove counts. We'll go with it for now, but this doesn't mean I've thrown in the towel for cooking! I am determined to be able to nourish myself with some home cooked meals.

This month, I've been loving Scandal, my new fashion blog, my Aerie blanket scarf, and my new J. Crew City Coat. As for music, here's a list of my favorite songs from January (and the best places to listen to them:

I get to go home again in February, so I'm definitely looking forward to that. My brother, the lucky little guy he is, gets to go to Italy and leaves the weekend I'm home, so I get to take him to the airport! Might have to try to shove myself into his suitcase, though knowing him, he'll probably pack it to the brim with shoes.

How was January for you? What are you looking forward to in February?

Pros & Cons of Life Without A Roommate

As you may or may not know, I have been roommate less for the past three weeks. My roommate transferred and her side of our room never got replaced. I was pretty indifferent about the idea of not having a roommate the moment she told me that she was not returning for this semester, so I didn't really know what to expect the first few days living without her. She left Cleveland every weekend anyways, so I was used to not seeing her for a few days at a time, but it's a lot different when their side is completely cleared of all of their belongings, when there's only your towels hanging on the racks in the bathroom and your side of the sink littered with soaps and facial cleansers.

I digress, there are definitely some upsides to not having a roommate, as well as some downfalls. I figured that I would detail best and worst parts about not having a roommate through a pros and cons list, a-la-Ted Mosby, incase anybody was unsure if they wanted to have single rooms when they dorm or prefer a studio or one bedroom to having roommates down the line.



PROS:

1. Ultimate Privacy

It's a free for all, really. You don't have to worry about changing or wanting private moments if you aren't having the greatest day. There's a lot less of a need to express or suppress your emotions (which could be either a good or bad thing, I suppose).

2. Extra space

Though you're technically supposed to keep their side of the room vacated, it's nice to be able to spread your things over little by little. As of right now, the closet is filled with my suitemate's hangers, the second desk is now home to my record player and records, and I use the extra space to workout. My little window-side nook has now become a lot roomier.

3. Total focus on schoolwork. 

There's nothing wrong with going off on tangents with your roommate and chatting until the wee hours of the morning. You shouldn't feel bad about bonding or making friendships in college, but sometimes, especially if the person you live with is a good friend you can talk to for hours and hours, you start to lose track of time and put your work aside. Not having a roommate eliminates distractions and really makes you have to focus on the work you're assigned.

4. Loud shower singing. 

I personally am unashamed about belting out tunes in the shower (I even take requests sometimes), but for those much shier than I, not having anybody to witness your vocal prowess (or lacktherof) is a blessing in disguise.

CONS: 

1. Nobody to talk to. 

While having somebody there all of the time could serve as a distraction, coming home after a long day of classes kind of sucks when there's nobody there to rant to or detail your day to. You can always text or call somebody, but there's nothing like sitting on each other's sides and talking about your day and classes or life in general and all of its fun (and not so fun) amenities.

2. Time goes by slow. 

For the most part, days drag on when there's nobody there to distract or entertain you. It's not even a good kind of slow where you can get everything done, either. It's like...the kind of slow that makes you want to go to sleep at 9PM because you're exhausted from doing nothing.

3. No one to motivate you to get out of the room. 

When there's somebody to do something with at your immediate need, it's easy to say "hey, let's go to the caf" or "hey, let's go to Target in an hour." No plans have to be made, no preparation or planning via text message.

Do you prefer to live alone or have roommates?

Friday, January 30, 2015

Celebrating Parenthood's Ending (Featuring Family Texts)

I had every intention of having today's post be a pros and cons of not having a roommate post...but last night was Parenthood's series finale and I cried so much at the end that it emotionally exhausted me and I couldn't get myself to write anything of great use. Never fear, I'll be posting TWO things tomorrow (that's right, two for the price of one) to make up for my scholarly (#LULZ) absence today. 


But kind of in honor of the series finale last night, today's post is going to be all about the funny, ridiculous, and completely bizarre things that my parents and brother have texted me over recently. My mom said she was excited to read this post today...I'm sure she's not as excited now. 

Starting with last night, after asking my mother what funny story I should tell in a blog post...


The next text was from November when I sent my mother a picture of my crafty luggage tag. She clearly doesn't approve of my shopping habit. 


We have a nice election day themed one coming up. I sent my mom about five to ten (approximately) pictures of Harry Styles and this was her only response. 


Next one is a game changer. This is a photo that my dad sent at about 9 o'clock at night on a random Monday in October. 


Cash is my parent's favorite child. 


I really wanted my mom to see Maleficent with me and she refused until she has this realization.

Parents just don't understand caps lock..or the meaning of hashtags...

And last but not least, we have a Halloween text from my father. Can you tell I'm his daughter?


What's the funniest thing that you've gotten in a text from your parents or family recently?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Things I'm Loving

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1. Scandal

My friend Bobby has been telling me to watch Scandal for as long as I can remember. In fact, he used to frequently log into my Netflix to make sure it was still on my list and in the first few slots so I would have to stare it in the face every time I went on to watch something. It's not that I had anything against the show or that I thought it was going to be bad. I'd only heard good things, but such good things that I knew I would get hooked and I didn't have time for that! With Parenthood ending on Thursday, it left my TV schedule wide open (which I don't like). I was complaining about this to my suitemate who told me to just watch Scandal on Thursdays with her.

I blew through seasons one and two this past weekend, but I have to hold off on season three Friday sadly. If I have any questions, my suitemate said she'd fill me in during commercial breaks because I'm going to start watching live this Thursday. GUYS, THIS SHOW IS EVERYTHING YOU COULD HAVE EVER WANTED FROM IT AND MORE. I laughed, I cried, I screamed (a lot). I did a lot of pacing and rhetorical questioning to anybody who would listen. This show takes your gut feeling, twists it around, and makes you so unbelievably wrong. If don't watch this show, WATCH IT. If you do watch this show, WATCH IT AGAIN. If you want me to stop talking about Scandal...I can't make any promises.


2. Layering

So one really cool thing about living on the lake (seriously, it takes like 25 minutes to walk to the water and that's a leisurely pace) is that it's really windy frequently. The really cool thing about living on the lake in the winter time is that not only is it windy all the time, but the wind is also ridiculously cold. I don't spend a whole lot of time outside this time of year, but it's implausible to not go outside in a jacket and boots, as well as a few layers underneath. By the time you get into the buildings, you just want to shed the coat and extra warmth in order to be comfortable. Enter: layers. You can roll up your sleeves, take off a vest or cardigan, or even remove a scarf if necessary. It's a good technique to either seal in the heat or make it easier to alleviate some of it.

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3. Spring 2015 Couture

My mouth has had a constant stream of saliva drooling from the corner for a few days now as the spring 2015 couture collections in Paris have been making their debuts. From billowing skirts at Dior, Chanel, and Giambattista Valli to racy cut-outs at Atelier Versace, lace overlays at Valentino, feathery fringe and sunset watercolors at Elie Saab...the list goes on and on. To check out my favorites, from full collections to details to backstage, check out my fashion tumblr here (and for the spring 2015 couture tag here)

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4. Fifth Harmony

I am so late onto this bandwagon and I am almost ashamed of it. Here's a group of really cool and supportive girls who make some pretty great pop music and I'm off to the side bashing them for being too girly or whatever. STUPID FRANCESCA, STUPID. Alas, I have seen the light and the group for the shining stars they truly are. Seriously, they're adorable and the fact that they're younger than me makes me so sad. I'd still have no shame in hanging out with them. They seem super cool! Give their new songs "Worth It" (new dance jam, no joke) and "Sledgehammer." I guarantee they'll get you moving.



5. "Love Me Harder" (Acoustic) by Ariana Grande and the Weeknd

I don't know where I stand with Ariana Grande, but I do know that this acoustic version of her song "Love Me Harder" (featuring The Weeknd) is killer. It didn't hit me until her AMAs performance that this song was pure gold and when I saw this acoustic version, I knew I was in for a great time.

What have you been loving lately?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Staying Healthy In College

College can be overwhelming at times. In fact, it might seem overwhelming more times than not, which can take a toll on your health (both mental, physical, and emotional). While it is very important to keep yourself in check and healthy in every aspect, today's post is going to cover the physical aspect of staying healthy.

For some, this might be a struggle (especially when binge-watching Netflix and snacking all the way through sounds way more inviting than a stair-stepper) and others it might be a piece of cake. There are a few simple things that you can change to your every day routine that could lead to a healthier college lifestyle!



1. Drink a lot of water

At any given time, I have three reusable water bottles in my fridge (I need cold water!) waiting in the wings. I drink anywhere between three to five reusable bottles a day and rarely drink anything else (aside from tea and coffee in the morning). Water has so many health benefits that drinking as much as you can helps. If you don't like drinking just water, put some fruit or vegetables in it (lemons and cucumbers are great infusers) or get Crystal Light packages to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. Carry a bottle with you, put it into tumblers with straws (sometimes I'm more apt to drink water if it's through a straw). Just try to make a conscious effort to drink more water throughout your days.

2. Eat fruit and vegetables every day

Take advantage of that meal plan (if you have one) and grab some apples from the dining hall to bring back into your room. Hit up the salad bar on campus or bring fruit with you on the go. Even just a side of vegetables with your lunch or dinner is going to help you in the long run. Slowly but surely adding these foods into your daily diet will fill you up with nutritious goodness and just make you feel better later on that day.

3. Put snacks in bowls

Raise your hand if you cannot resist eating almost an entire bag of goldfish in one sitting. It's hard to control yourself when you're snacking, especially if you're distracted by television or homework and don't even notice what you're doing. Portion your snacks into bowls (I use cups because my bowls are massive and would yield either too much of the snack or make it seem like there wasn't enough in there) and leave the bags and packages out of sight so you are not tempted to eat more.

4. Walk everywhere 

It's very rare for me to take public transportation downtown. Unless the windchill is out of control, I'm walking anywhere that it is safe to. I've walked miles upon miles in nice weather just because I know it's good for me and if you have a nice shuffle happening on my phone (or good company), it's time well spent!

4b. Take the stairs

Elevators take forever, they're normally crowded, and unless it's a ridiculously high floor (or you've got luggage or a heavy load) there's really no need to take it. Take those couple flights of stairs to class. It's the little things that add up!

5. Blogilates/Tone It Up/Pinterest

I hate gyms (for the most part). I get self-conscious, I don't know how to use machines, and I can't even use the machines I want to because of knee problems. However, I do genuinely enjoy working out. In order to get the physical activity that I want to during the week, I resort to exercise and routines that I can do while I'm in my room. Sometimes I make up my own routines based on moves I've seen on Pinterest, in fitness routine videos, or gifs on Tumblr. If I'm not feeling creative or want to extend my workout time, I rely on the Blogilates or Tone It Up YouTube channels for regimented routines that keep you active and motivated.

6. Use campus gyms

As a full-time student at my university, we get a free membership to our rec center on campus, which includes all of the classes that are offered. In my dorm there is also a small fitness center in the basement with the study room and laundry area. Depending on which atmosphere you prefer (rec center is more competitive but motivational and fitness center is private and lets you work out at your comfort level), it's worth it to take advantage of the options that you're given on campus. Check out the facilities and try to get friends to join you to make it a group effort!

Above all, it's really about feeling comfortable with yourself and being at your level of healthy. You don't have to do any of these things, or you can do them all! As long as you feel okay and happy, that's all that really matters.

What's your favorite way to stay healthy in college? 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Finding Time For Yourself In College

I am the type of person who not matter what needs time to unwind, time to myself to just think or do something that isn't required of me. I like to read and write, so it's very important for me to find time to do that both during my week. Between school, this blog, trying to be social (guess where this falls on my hierarchy of importance?), and all of the other random variables that pop  up every once in a while, there isn't a whole heck of a lot of time left to do the things that I love (not to say that I don't love school or this blog, because I do!).

In order to fit in the reading and writing and binge watching of television shows and YouTube videos, I do a few things to free up that "me time" that I so desperately need to keep myself sane.



1. Wake up early or go to bed late. 

This is probably the easiest, yet worst way to make time for myself. I've been known to get up an hour earlier to fit in some writing or music listening. More likely, I'll force myself awake for an extra hour or two (I've stretched it to four, not exactly something I've proud of, but it's happened) to read or write or do whatever I need to satisfy my need for free time.

2. Bring it with you. 

If reading is what you like to do during your free time, bring your book of the moment or magazine or newspaper with you. I never leave the house/dorm without a book in my bag, no matter where I'm going because you never know. If you like to write, bring a notebook and pen everywhere. I've been known to write in the margins of my notebooks, on folded sheets of loose leaf, on separate notebooks that I disguise as note-taking. I write during breaks between classes, in the Notes section on my phone...utilizing every free minute that you get during your schedule is a great way to take away small bits of free time.

3. Work extra hard to make time. 

If you do two hours of great, diligent work, think of how much time you're free up. Rather than turning two hours of hard work into four hours of work with nonsensical lollyjaggling will only hurt you in the long run. Just get it done without a lot of procrastination and enjoy the time you would have spent working doing other things. Maybe it's more work, maybe it's a run, maybe it's absolutely nothing. Whatever you need to do to unwind and keep yourself happy, right?

4. Take a weekend off.

This is something that I myself have been completely afraid to do, but I did it for the first time this past weekend and it felt fantastic. Contrary to popular belief, your work can wait until Sunday afternoon and night. Gone are the days of feeling like every single day needs to revolve around schoolwork. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that there is anything wrong with being focused in school or wanting to get ahead of your work. But there is no shame in taking one weekend off to start TV series or read a book or to just not have to worry about papers and quizzes and assigned reading. Enjoy yourself and your life away from work, even if it is just for a day or two.

4b. Take advantage of long weekends and breaks. 

There are far and few between breaks in college as compared to high school, so when one comes around...enjoy it to its fullest! Get ahead of your work so you're not lugging textbooks home or letting them weigh you down when you should be relaxing and clearing your head from school. Long weekends were practically instated to keep everybody sane. They are the perfect time for you to do things for yourself!

What's your favorite thing to do in your free time? 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Clueless Cook: Grilled Chicken & Asparagus

Hi there! Welcome to my new blog series, Clueless Cook, in which I, Francesca, try to cook food that isn't 99 cent Rice-A-Roni (or it might be, who knows). Clueless Cook will detail all of the trials and tribulations I face while trying to make extremely simple recipes. My dad is a chef and my mom can make really great pancakes from a box. Guess where my (extremely limited) skills come from?

Today's meal was a dinner I made for myself last Friday. I can guarantee that it was not difficult because I—well—because I could make it without any trouble at all! It's just marinated grilled chicken, asparagus, and some mashed potatoes (there was a an unpictured salad as well, but those are pretty self-explanatory).



WHAT YOU NEED: 

+ Chicken breast
+ Italian dressing
+ George Foreman Grill
+ Asparagus
+ Salt
+ Pepper
+ Olive oil
+ Skillet
+ Microwaveable mashed potatoes (YEP, I WENT THERE)

CHICKEN PREP: 

1. Make sure your hands and chicken are clean. Dice off any leftover fat pieces and put them to the side. Poke holes in the chicken with the tip of your knife.

2. Marinate chicken in the Italian dressing (raspberry vinaigrette, BBQ sauce, or oil with salt and pepper are three other viable options) the night before or the morning you plan on cooking it.

3. When you are ready to cook the chicken, plug in your George Foreman grill and make sure that it is clean from previous uses/dust/etc.

4. Place your slices of chicken on the grill and press down the lid, leaving the chicken cooking for six minutes (no longer than seven). I usually flip mine halfway through so that both sides get evenly cooked and doesn't look deceivingly finished when it's not.




ASPARAGUS PREP:

1. Put your asparagus and some water into a skillet. Cover your skillet to that the asparagus can blanch for about three to five minutes.

2. Add a very minimal amount (about a tablespoon) of olive oil into the drained skillet. Add your seasoning and cook until it loses its firmness.


Microwave your mashed potatoes for as long as you see fit and put everything on your plate. If you're REALLY feeling crafty and Gordon Ramsay-esque, go on and make your own homemade mashed potatoes. I couldn't tell you how to do so, but I'm sure Pinterest have more than enough potato recipes to go around.

These "recipes" are never going to be anything special or spectacular. These are real and simple meals that I, a very clueless cook indeed, can make on my own. If you're like me and can barely manage to not screw up pasta with butter, I hope you find this series helpful. If you can cook...I hate you and I am so beyond envious of your skills. I'm kidding. I love you, come help me as I navigate my way through a kitchen for the rest of my life.

What's your favorite thing to make? If you can't cook (like me!), what would be the first thing you'd make if you could?

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Good Reads

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1. How To Make Effective New Year's Resolutions This was SUCH a cool post giving some psychological insight on why we find it hard to keep our New Year's Resolutions. It even gives you tips to create and fulfill your resolutions for the year!

2. Comedian Iliza Shlesinger Totally Gets You Iliza Shlesinger's standup and first Netflix special are GOLDEN, so I can only imagine what her new Netflix special will entail. Hint: there's a hilarious Pinterest bit!

3. What Your Coffee Order Says About Your Style Something about these coffee posts just makes me giggle. I don't know what it is about them!

4. Skate Date Sarah Vickers kills menswear, that's for sure. This mens varsity sweater is so great, right down to the navy + yellow combination.

5. Everyday Makeup Look I'm always interested in seeing what other people use as their everyday makeup, if they even choose to wear it all every day.

6. When Don't Turtlenecks Work? This is a trick question because THEY ALWAYS WORK. I've been a huge proponent of turtlenecks as of late and I cannot imagine my life without them.

7. The Easiest Way To Clean Out Your Closet I desperately need to do this sometime soon. Somebody hold me to this!

8. Colorblock Poncho Wool Cape Still need to get myself a proper cape...wish I could afford the Burberry one!

9. Life To Too Short I whole heartedly agree with the fact that life is too short to pretend to not like Taylor Swift. At this point, I strongly believe it is impossible to not. In conclusion, life is too short to let anything or anybody get in the way of your happiness.

10. Gold Coast Sonya posted some great photos (and has some gorgeous footage) of her recent trip to Australia!

11. 25 Things You Can Accomplish In 5 Minutes or Less I am the type of person who likes to feel like she's getting a lot of things done, even if they are minuscule tasks like taking out the trash or cleaning my makeup brushes. This list of things that I can do in less than five minutes is going to make me feel like the most satisfied girl on the block!

What have you been reading lately?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

TV Shows I Want To Watch In 2015

I have friends that literally laugh at me when I tell them that I'll add whatever show they're recommending to my list because they know I'll never get to it. I'm generally not a flaky person. If I'm going to be somewhere or do something, I'll make sure of it, but when it comes down to watching TV shows I just can't commit! Part of my problem is that my only medium to watch Netflix right now is via my computer and my favorite thing to do while I'm watching TV is to surf the internet or write. Hand writing is a pain in the butt (my thoughts come faster than I can write!) and mobile versions of apps are kind of annoying (for the most part). This means that when I'm going to binge watch Netflix, I need to fully commit, which I can't! However, I'm hoping things will change in 2015 and I can finally get around to knocking out some shows on my list. Hell, if I can watch all 5 seasons of Friday Night Lights in less than a month (I realize this isn't that impressive, but for me it was), then I think I can watch these five shows in a year.

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1. Scandal

I am told to watch this show on what seems like a daily basis, whether it's through my friends, through people on the internet, or my subconscious (mostly for Olivia Pope's clothing, if anything). My only gripe with this show is that I am 100% convinced it is why Parenthood is in its last season. I'm terrified to start this show because I've heard of how addictive it is and I don't want to fully commit if I don't have all of the time in the world. That being said, I told my suitemate I would at least get through season one before it starts back up again on Thursday so we can bond...I will keep you posted...

2. Saved By The Bell

Throwback Thursday, am I right? I don't know why I have such the strange desire to watch what seems like would be the worst show ever (making it the best show ever?). My guess is that it is my strong attraction to Mario Lopez and Mark-Paul Gosselaar and affinity for off the shoulders tops. Regardless, I'm determined to watch all six seasons of this. Wish me luck...

3. Mad Men

Oh Mad Men...our love affair only lasted a short six episodes before I got bored. Er, bored is the wrong word. It just wasn't the right time for me to be watching it! It was over the summer, I got busy with work...but I did like it! Not enough time to commit to a show with an actual plot and seemingly deep characters. I will power through this show, for the love of Jon Hamm and Kiernan Shipka.

4. Gossip Girl

MARK MY WORDS, 2015 WILL BE THE YEAR I FINALLY FINISH GOSSIP GIRL. Friends, hold me to this. I must know what happens (okay, I seriously know two big parts of the ending...) to everybody. I literally hate every character on this show except Eric and Dorata, yet I cannot stop watching. Also, I will never like Chuck Bass no matter how many times people tell me that my mind will change. DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE CHARM, REMEMBER WHAT HE TRIED TO DO TO JENNY IN SEASON ONE, GIRLS. *deep breath*

What shows do you want to watch and haven't gotten around to yet?

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Art of Layering

Is it just me or is it f***ing freezing this winter? The windchill has been absolutely insane, but then you get inside and you're begging to rip off your sweater because you fear you might overheat or melt like the snowman in that really sad children's book/short film. Enter: layers, also known as the greatest way to dress at any age, but especially in college, land of walking inside and outside and back inside again. Even if you are walking through your campus's tunnels or interlink systems, even buildings and classrooms fluctuate in temperature. Our Student Center atrium gets SO HOT when it's sunny out, no matter what time of year, because it has huge glass windows that catch the heat.

Outfit goals for winter times should ideally involve some layers (both of these outfits would have a coat over it!) to keep the heat in or let the heat out if you must remove a layer. I've worn both of these, in different variations, over the past year and they're worked out pretty well for me so far.


Sweater: Target
Top: J. Crew
Jeans: American Eagle
Socks: Target
Boots: Bandolino

I wore this shirt + sweater combination on Christmas this past year, but opted to wear a skirt rather than the black jeans. This is a pretty simple layering technique (as mine usually are!), but having the option to roll up your sleeves or wear the chambray shirt as a standalone piece is a great option. 


Vest: J. Crew
Sweater: Gap
Shirt: J. Crew
Jeans: American Eagle
Boots: UGGs

I've kind of worn this outfit two different ways. I wore the same plaid shirt and sweater last week to classes and I've also worn just the plaid shirt with the vest back in October when a friend came to visit. Layering button-ups, sweaters, and vests is a super collegiate and popular thing to do for a reason! It keeps you looking cute, while being practical and warm at the same time.

What's your favorite layering technique during the winter?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Things I'm Loving

Bear with me, this post has a lot of videos!



1. Taylor Swift & The Grammy Effect

If there's three things I love the most in this world, it's Taylor Swift, her song "All Too Well," and The Grammy Awards. When she performed this song last year, I was on the floor writhing in pain and drowning in tears. My roommates weren't quite sure what to do with me, as they always were. So when I saw this commercial for the first time, I nearly lost it AGAIN. Reliving my favorite moment in music history, aside from Simon Cowell randomly putting together One Direction? YES PLEASE. Genius commercial, Grammys.



2. Having my own Keurig

After a week without coffee, I finally have a Keurig to call my own. It's beautiful, it doesn't have a name yet, but I love it all the same. I also have 50+ K-Cups right now and five different flavors of coffee creamer...and don't even get me started on my wall of tea...I am KILLING it right now.


3. UGGs

For my birthday, I got a new pair of UGGs. These aren't just any old UGGs though, these are some proper winter boots that water doesn't soak through and look somewhat okay in outfits (as seen above). These are the warmest boots my feet have ever encountered and I don't remember life before them, just like I don't remember life before we got my dog.



4. "Elastic Heart" by Sia

Sia has been getting a lot of attention for her new single, between the "controversial" video featuring Maddie Ziegler and Shia LeBeouf and her SNL performance on Saturday. Let's just get one thing straight here: Sia is a pop hit MASTER. Whether she's writing songs for other people (here are 15 songs you didn't know were written by Sia) or killer tunes for herself (see: "Breathe Me" and "Chandelier (Piano Version)"), she's doing it all right. I interpretive dance my heart out to this song and it is straight up beautiful(ly tragic, I  cannot dance).



5. Kevin Hart's SNL monologue

Speaking of SNL...this monologue had me on the floor in tears, but for a much different reason than last year's "All Too Well" Grammy performance from Taylor Swift. My mom and I thought this was so hilarious that we showed my aunt (twice) and my brother. A total of four times watching it and it was still just as hilarious. A raccoon (singular) problem? Sounds dangerous.



6. Drunk Reviews: Perfume Samples

Rachel Whitehurst is my favorite Youtuber/human being and her drunk reviews are always a good time. This one in particular was fantastic, as she gets drunk off of white wine and smells perfume samples. Her descriptions are nothing short but hilarious.



7. Blogilates "Summertime Sadness" cardio ballet routine

This is an older video, I know. I used to do this routine in my dorm last year and completely forgot about it (and Blogilates in general...sorry Cassey!). But I stumbled upon her 30 days abs challenge, which sparked my memory about this pop-ballet routine. Again, I cannot dance, but this is four simple steps that I do in the privacy of my own room. It's a full body workout and really gets your blood flowing.



8. My new fashion tumblr & main tumblr URL

Over the long weekend, I decided to make a tumblr strictly for fashion (mostly runway and editorial), separate from my normal tumblr. Speaking of...I changed my URL! I had been using my old one for YEARS and it was about time to match it to my blog. So, these are my tumblrs as followed:




What have you been loving lately?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What You Should Do During Class

This blog is alternatively titled Things That I Don't Do During Class and Should. Yesterday's post was all about online class management, so I figured I'd juxtapose that and go in to talk about in person classroom etiquette and things that you should try your hardest to do during class.



1. Ask questions, especially if you don't understand.

When teachers and professors say that there is no such thing as a stupid question, they're not lying. They are there to teach you and assist you in the learning process. If you don't understand their first, or even second explanation, you shouldn't feel scared or ashamed to ask for clarification! That's their job. If asking a question or ten gets you the grade that you want and the answers that you need, then be fearless and ask away! Or if you're a little nervous about asking in front of your classmates, jot down quick reference points about your problem(s) and either speak to your professor after class about your concerns or shoot them an e-mail if talking directly to them doesn't fit into your time parameters or still makes you uncomfortable.

2. Participate and raise your hand

I absolutely dread seeing that participation is 10-20% of your grade (depending on professors and classes). It is my biggest nightmare because I know that I'll be lucky if I get even 1% of those points. I hate raising my hand during class. I most likely know the answer or can contribute my input into a discussion, but I don't want to/can't. Take my word for it though, participating in class discussions pays off. In a few classes, I got brave enough to actively and consistently participate and got stopped in the hallway to commend my participation. In one of my classes, I was actually asked not to raise my hand after the first half of class.

Professors love it. They don't even care if you make a mistake or two or ten. They like to know that you're paying attention and care about the class enough to utilize your knowledge. And I can, for a fact, tell you that nobody else in your class cares that you make a mistake if you happen to do so. In fact, they're probably relieved so that when they answer a question, they won't have to be the fist person who was wrong.

3. Meet or introduce yourself to the professor

This is geared more toward small lectures, not your 300 person lecture hall. Take the time to at least introduce yourself to your professor, whether it is after class or during their office hours. Let them know that you're excited to take their class and can't wait to see how the semester plays out. This puts a name on a roster to a face, puts you on their radar, and is just a nice gesture in general.

4. Don't keep to yourself, make friends

This is easier said than done, I know. I should be taking my own advice on this one! Nothing is worse than not having somebody to sit next to during class to chat with during breaks or before it starts. Partner work becomes a nightmare because you're stuck with randos for the whole semester. And if you don't have a friend in your class, who will you study with? Whose notes will you borrow when you miss/skip class? College becomes all that much better when you at least have an acquaintance in your class. You don't have to be best friends with the girl who sits next to you in math, but at least be friendly with her so you have somebody to chat it out with. Also, don't be shy when you recognize people who are in multiple classes with you.

Last year, my friend and I were in 3 classes in a row together, as well as in the same small group for our first class together. It would have been really silly of us to never bring it up at some point. For about three and a half hours we were in each other's presence, usually only a few rows apart! Seize the day and introduce yourself! What's the worst that will happen?

5. Don't text/tweet/go on Pinterest the entire time

THIS IS MY PET PEEVE. I am guilty of the occasional pinning spree during a math class or texting my friends back during the lull of the lecture. This is not what I'm talking about when I say don't use social media during class. I cannot count the amount of times that I've seen people on their phones the entire duration of class. No notebook, no pen, no textbook in sight. Just their heads down staring at their phone screen. What is the point of even going to class, honestly? You're retaining zero information, you're not paying attention...you are wasting everybody's time, including your own. Phones and laptops can be a nice distraction when there's a serious lull in the lecture or discussion, but don't be that person who can't even tell you one thing that happened during class because they were playing Trivia Crack the entire time. That doesn't count as learning.

What's your best advice for in-class etiquette? 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How To Handle Online Courses

If given a choice between physically being present in a class or taking it online in the safety of your own home and comfort of your pajamas, which would you choose? I'm sure it's not surprising the amount of people who would choose the online courses. It might be for convenience purposes or because you work full-time and need to fit classes in on your own time. Perhaps you have anxiety. There are a multitude of reasons to choose to take classes online rather than in person.

The thing to know about online classes is that they are (obviously) not a normal lecture. It really takes a lot of tweaking to your normal work ethic to get used to the pace and timing of online courses. I took my first class online last semester and am taking my second, third, and fourth this semester. Based on last semester and how I'm going to handle the online load this semester, here are some tips and tricks on handling and managing a online class (or two!)



1. WRITE DOWN YOUR DUE DATES

This is the most important thing you could do when taking online classes. Write down days discussion board posts need to be completed, deadlines for quizzes, papers, and other assignments that may be given throughout the semester. Color coordinate your online classes on a calendar or in your agenda with a different color so you don't get confused and mix up dates.

2. Print out syllabi and supplementary information

I hate referencing syllabi online, so I print out every single one to have it physically with me whenever I need to double check a due date, what chapter we're working on, rubrics, etc. Some of my classes have extra information in folders, like the format of a certain series of assignments, paper topics, and standards for discussion board etiquette. Those are important and nice to have on hand as well so you don't have to scroll through pages of extra material.

3. Force yourself to focus

It's going to be so easy, like it is doing any homework, to reward yourself for ten minutes of work. With an online class, you can't do that as often as you would with an in-person lecture. You need to sort of force yourself and tell yourself that you need to get this done because there is going to be no review or reinforcement during class the next day. You will not get work done if you spend the entire week putting it off or lollygaggling while you're doing it.

4. Actually DO the reading

Online quizzes may always seem open book, so reading the book seems silly, right? Not reading the text will come back around and bite you in the butt, one way or another. There's no lectures or notes to fall back on when you don't know something. Your main source of information is going to come from your textbook or supplementary readings. Not doing them is a total disservice to yourself and could affect your success in the class.

5. Get yourself on a schedule

Since you essentially get to work on these assignments on your own schedule, I recommend picking a day and time period to work on it so it feels like an actual class rather than an online class. I do my online class coursework early afternoon on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I don't have class. This gives me the weekend free from those three classes and keeps me on a schedule. I like my life to be regimented so having certain days dedicated to my online classes makes it easy to stay on track and keep my life in order.

6. Don't be afraid to e-mail your professor with questions or meet them in person

This goes for both in person and online classes. Never be afraid to e-mail your professor with questions if you don't understand an assignment or don't get a part of the chapter or unit. That's why they're there! Even setting up a meeting with a professor you have online works. Some may even be available during Skype. Just because there's nobody physically lecturing you in your presence doesn't mean you don't have somebody available to answer your questions about the course.

Have you taken online courses before? Do you like them better than in-person lectures?

Monday, January 19, 2015

January of the #YearOfHappy

Allisonleighann and October June created a monthly blog series cutely and appropriately titled #YearOfHappy. Every month there is a new prompt and inspiration for those who are part of the journey to peruse and write about. For the first prompt and month of this "challenge" is as such:

Write a love letter to yourself. Write all the reasons you're awesome, write down your hopes and dreams for the year ahead, any resolutions, heck, write what you had for  lunch. Share why you're grateful for 2014 and what you want to achieve in 2015. Share whatever you want - it's your letter.
With that little background out of the way, let's make our way into a love letter to myself (which, if we're being honest, is my favorite type of love letter. Nothing wrong with loving yourself!)

* * * * * 

Hi! Hello! Hola! Heya!

First things first, welcome to January 2015. Nice job, you've made it with most of your hair still in tact (though you did cut a great deal of it off. Good for you though!) and a continuing penchant for all of the things you loved the year before. Much to your bank account's chagrin, your shopping habit it still out of control, but it makes you happy, so you do you, girl. 

Second, killer job on the confidence thing this past year. It only took you 19 or so years to realize that you're a pretty cool gal and aren't the female reincarnation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame (and even if you were, who cares?)

2014 was a learning experience, that's for sure. Friendships were tested, homesickness became a new type of illness that wasn't easily fixed with a couple of Benadryl or ibuprofen, and your Starbucks habit became an expensive one. And let's not forget 1989 releasing. Boy was that a life-saver or what? 

There is a never ending list of things to achieve in 2015; things to do, things to buy, places to see, and a lot of bit of growing up to do. You want to (and will) get an apartment, hopefully one constantly filled with laughter, chatter, music, and the silence that will surely have to follow, if only for the purpose of a good night of sleep. Speaking of...sleep more, you nocturnal zombie! Dark circles are not becoming on you and you'll feel infinitely better if you try to get more than four hours a night.

Overall, just be happy. Be proud. Be who you want to be, not who others want you to be. Be the type of person who can change the world. But never be the person who wears shorts, sleeveless shirts, or sandals in the dead of the Polar Vortex. Please.

xoxo, 

Gossip Girl

HAHAHAHA LOLJK OMG I GOT YOU SO GOOD

Sincerely, 

Francesca Pauline

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Good Reads + My New Fashion Tumblr

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1. GSD // Carly A. Heitlinger of College Prepster Carly is an organizational GODDESS.

2. 12-Year-Old Sends Letter to All 32 NFL Teams, and Only The Panthers Respond Tell me this is not the cutest thing you've heard all week.

3. 13 (Almost) Unbelieving Facts You Never Knew About Anna Wintour Shockingly, not one of them mentions how absolutely terrified I am of her.

4. Getting Active In Old Navy Old Navy has been continuously stepping up their game for the past couple of years. Definitely interested in this athletic gear.

5. Weekday Wardrobe I've been really digging the faux fur collars on winter jackets lately.

6. Wardrobe Rehab: Best Closet Additions of 2014 Mine were my black high-neck tank dress from Old Navy, Free People sunglasses, white tulle skirt from eShakti, Kate Spade glasses ring, and green winter coat from J. Crew

7. Courting Another day, another outfit that Sarah Vickers completely owns head to toe.

8. Tuckernut Resort I'm not a huge summer person (GASP, I KNOW) but this is just making me miss the warmth and sunshine.

9. What To Wear When You'd Rather Hibernate While normally my hibernating wardrobe would include a crew neck, leggings, and the blanket that I'm hiding under in the safety of my room, this looks about right for when I can't avoid the outside. And look how freaking adorable that faux fur hat it!

10. Stylish Ways to Wear a Winter Beanie I didn't truly appreciate beanies until I learned that I hated washing my hair every day.

11. Recent Reads & Reviews: Yes Please, 50 Shades, Not That Kind of Girl I have Lena Dunham's book in my possession, want to read Amy's book very bad, and read Bossypants a couple of summers ago!

12. "Want To Sit Together?" I am one of those girls who doesn't like to do certain things alone. I can go get coffee alone or sit at the water alone, but I refuse to get dinner alone or go to certain events alone. Definitely something I'm trying to work on!

13. Winter Blues I don't know how Alex does it, but she layers blue on blue on blue and KILLS it. So jealous!

14. Splurge / Spend / Save: 10 Winter Essentials For Every Budget I always splurge on the wrong things, admittedly.

15. The Blanket Scarf I have very strong feelings about blanket scarves. By strong feelings I mean I love them so passionately that even Rose and Jack are jealous (I've never seen Titanic. Aly, did this reference make sense?)

16. How To: Fake It 'Til You Make It This is my motto for literally everything. Ask anybody, in any situation I will always reply to a "how to" question with fake it 'til you make it. Bold lipstick? Fake it 'til you make it. Weird length of a skirt? Fake it 'til you make it.

What have you been reading lately? 

P.S. I made a new tumblr just for fashion related things. You can follow it here if you're interested! 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Spring Semester, Week One: Overview & Outfits of the Week

I did it! I made it through the first week of spring semester 2015 with only crying once! And it wasn't even school related! I'm actually writing this post from the comfort of my bedroom at home, as it is an extra long weekend (No Tuesday classes, holla!) and I still have some of my belongings to bring back to school. Luckily, all of my clothes are back in Cleveland and all I have to bring are DVDs, books, magazines, a pair of boots, and some groceries. It's going to be so nice having real food. For dinner last night, I had cucumbers and broccoli from the dining hall. It was the saddest sight you will ever see.

This semester, I have two classes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, leaving my Tuesdays and Thursdays free. Er, well, semi-free. That's when I, conceivably, should be doing the work for my online classes. Speaking of...these classes are going to be the end of me this semester. They're so dry, not in my field of study (#TypicalGenEds), and did I mention dry? They're the Sahara Desert of online courses offered at CSU. I'll make it work! It could always be worse...I could be in that upper-level history class I was accidentally stuck in that one day fall semester of my freshmen year. That was terrifying...I digress, not my favorite semester workload wise, but I have to take them at some point!

What really made this week horrible was the lack of coffee. After a little miscommunication, my room ended up Keurig-less and the one I (read: my mom) order arrived on Wednesday. Let's just say my school isn't exactly the best at handing out delivery slips (which you need to pick up your package), so I have not had coffee all week and tea has just not been cutting it. So many K-Cups lying around...but no Keurig to put them in. Such a tease.

Overall, I'm just really pumped to be back in Cleveland in my dorm. As much as I want a place of my own, I've grown accustomed to my little nook in 505. I'm sure I'll be excited to leave it come May (not excited to pack though...I can tell you that already), but for now, I'm going to enjoy my half-occupied room. Yep, that's right, no roommate as of now! That means NO PANTS OR HEADPHONES ALL THE TIME. Kidding. It's far too cold for no pants right now. Such a shame.

The best part of this week? Getting to get dressed for a purpose again and have that purpose not be work! Here are three of my outfits from the past week, featuring functional and not dirty mirrors!



Shirt: J. Crew
Sweater: Gap
Jeans: American Eagle
Boots: Bandolino


Sweater: Francesca's
Jeans: American Eagle
Boots: Bandolino


Tunic & Leggings: Wandering Wardrobe
Boots: Bandolino

If your spring semester started this past week, how has it been going so far?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Why Goals Are Important & How To Choose Them



Come January every year, I usually choose not to make New Years Resolutions. It's not because I'm morally opposed that I judge anybody who does harshly (if anything, more power to you!). To me, a resolution is a decision to do or not do something, whether it is to work out or to stop eating junk food or to read one book a month. A goal is an aim or desired result that you work toward. I suppose those could sound the same to some, put for me, accomplishing a goal is a lot more rewarding than not breaking a resolution.

For the past three or four years, I've created "To Do Lists" or lists of goals, whether big or small, to accomplish throughout the duration of the year. Instead of telling myself in January that I'm going to get fit, I'll put "incorporate yoga into a weekly routine." Boom, goal set!

My annual goals usually revolve around finances, academics, and personal issues. It's really just a slight change in words that transforms a resolution into a goal. For finances, a resolution would be to save more money in general. As a goal, I would make it save money for apartment in summer. There's a "due date" for this one that I want to work to accomplish. Get good grades is an easy resolution to make, studying four to five hours every other day is not.

But Francesca, how do I even go about picking my goals or resolutions?

Well, Y/N, that's a great question! I pick my goals one in three ways: noticing a change that I want to make in my personality/lifestyle (become more confident, save money, get As, etc), spit of the moment "I want to do this!" and looking at what I didn't accomplish from old lists (or from other people's lists on Pinterest). I suppose that is technically three and a half or four ways, but I think you get the jist.

Sometimes goals just come to you. I saw somebody's recipe book on Pinterest and I thought that was a great idea, so I added it to my list. Was there any reason why I needed to put watch Gossip Girl or Gilmore Girls on my list? I was going to do them anyways...but it really is a nice feeling to cross something off of your to-do list. Even that little extra boost of energy and confidence from finishing something you set out to accomplish is worth every second you put into making that list.

Whether you choose to live life through resolutions or goals or even neither, I hope that you have a great time doing it. Remember, don't sweat it if you have to break a resolution or don't accomplish a goal. It's not the end of the world and you can always try it again in the future or pick it back up again when you recover.

What's one of your resolutions or goals for 2015?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Things I'm Loving




1. Being back in Cleveland

I moved back into the dorms on Sunday and as stressful as school is, it's nice being back in the city. I also cleared off my window seat so I can actually, ya know, sit and not have to crouch into a little ball. Can't wait for the weather to get nicer and start exploring downtown again.



2. American Eagle Blanket Scarf

I bought this scarf around Thanksgiving and have been wearing it as much as one could in a week (like, approximately two or three times a week). It's so soft, so comfortable and so easy to throw on to add that extra OOMPH to an outfit. I especially like that it's so versatile that you can wear it has a shawl/cape sort of deal by folding it into a big triangle and draped over your shoulders (as shown here).



3. Philosophy Purity Cleanser

I still love my Lush cleanser, but as that one runs low (and currently resides in my bathroom at home), I figured I'd try out my new Philosophy facial cleanser this week, which was a great life choice. It has a faint minty scent, but nothing too over-powering, and it really gets my excess makeup off when I'm washing my face at night. My skin hasn't reacted poorly to it yet either, which is definitely a good sign.

4. Spiced Apple Toddy Wallflower

I picked up a two-pack of these wallflowers (on sale!!!) on a whim after hearing people rave about the candle scent. I was not disappointed when I put this in my dorm on Sunday. It's bringing me back to the holidays and I love it.


5. "Love Me Like You Do" by Ellie Goulding

I cannot believe this song is for the 50 Shades soundtrack because it is far too good for that franchise. This is my favorite kind of pop music, the kind that makes you want to scream out your open car windows, even in the dead of winter. The type that you sing/cry/sob in the shower even though you have no idea who you're singing about (Harry Styles, probably). Ellie Goulding consistently makes great music and this song was not disappointing in the slightest. Give it a listen (or 20, trust me, you're not going to want to take this off of repeat).

6. Italian Sweet Cream Creamer

This creamer single-handedly made my brother start drinking coffee. My aunt gave this my family over winter break and I kid you not, none of us could drink our coffee black or with any other flavored creamer when this was in the house. Bye-bye French Vanilla, hellllllo Italian Sweet Cream!



7. Epic Mother-Son Wedding Dance

Dear future husband, please do this. I've already joked that my first dance with my father is going to be a Rihanna song, probably. But how fun would this be?

What have you been loving lately?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

@cashgariano

Once upon a time in in 2012, my family got its first dog, a rat terrier that we named [Johnny] Cash. He is arguably the cutest dog ever (doesn't everybody say this about their own dog?) and does the darndest things sometimes. Sometime last year, I wanted to have all of my adorable pictures of him somewhere other than taking space up on my phone. I also, like a grandparent, wanted to show off my adorable little puppy. What better way to store photos and show off your dog than creating them an Instagram account? And what better way than to actually pretend it's the dog posting the pictures? Alas, that is how my puppy got its own Instagram and how I hit rock bottom.

Since I'm missing my dog (even though I'll see him on Friday...ssshhh) and I think that everybody should be exposed to his handsomeness, I've decided to round up some of my favorite posts of his.





A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
A photo posted by Cash (@cashgariano) on
In conclusion, I am a crazy dog lady.

Do you have a super photogenic pet? What's their name?