my best advice for college students

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It’s so weird to think it’s already been four years since I graduated from college, the same amount of time I was in it. I could’ve done it all over again by now! 😂 Since it’s back-to-school month on the blog, I put together five pieces of advice I’d give to college freshmen or really college students of any year, I suppose, although it’s better to know these things when you begin than halfway through.

By the way, I dug deep in my Instagram feed for the four photos above that were taken on my college campus. It’s so funny looking at those photos, back when feeds were far less curated and were really just snapshots of the things you experienced day-to-day.

So, if you’re heading back to campus this fall, here are my tips:

live in the dorms //
Uncomfortable as it sometimes may be, there’s real value in sharing a small room with a stranger, dealing with a comically low pressure shower, and hearing packs of drunk students in the hallways and courtyards at night. I think it’s character building and a rite of passage that all college students should be required to do for at least two years. Plus, it’s a great way of transitioning from living at home to being totally independent. In the dorm, you’re ‘on your own’ but you don’t have responsibilities like paying bills and making repairs. It’s a really good stepping stone that will make you much more comfortable doing things like that in ‘the real world’ after school.

join a professional organization //
One of the very best things I did in college was join my school’s Enactus team which, because it was one of the top teams in the world, provided a lot of great resources. I started as the FInancial Officer and moved up to project lead and eventually Vice-President before I ended up leaving because my schedule was overloaded (see item four below). But my time on the team provided so much invaluable experience from learning to write grants and lead a team to traveling around the country giving presentations to top business executives. It even hooked me up with my favorite internship. I highly recommend joining groups on campus, particularly ones that are aligned with your professional goals because they’re a great resume builder, network grower, and also just a fun, productive thing to get involved with.

work at internships in different industries //
My goal going into college was to have three different internships, which I managed to do, and think it’s a good number. Each of my internships were in totally different fields. I did admin at the Fire Department (to get public sector experience), assisted the owner of a wedding planning company, and did a big summer internship in Customer Development at Unilever. Doing internships for companies of different sizes in different industries and cities is a really great way to figure out what you do and don’t like about certain work before making decisions as to what career path you want to take after graduation.

leave time for fun //
All this talk of productivity and career development aside, a big piece of advice is to make sure you’re allowing yourself the time to have fun. You can get really busy very easily in school but it’s important to take advantage of your time in college because - and I’m not trying to be depressing - it’s really the last time you’ll be able to be so carefree for awhile. After college, your lifestyle just naturally shifts and you don’t have as much free time or as many opportunities to make new friends. So, do all the things. Go on dates, drink milkshakes at 3:00 in the morning, go to events and games and whatever else comes your way. Those will be the most memorable parts of school, I promise.

make use of all the on-campus resources //
On the practical side of things, make sure you take advantage of all the great perks of being a college student. That means using your meal plan to its fullest, taking advantage of your school’s on-campus medical and mental health centers, and so on. I barely touched my meal plan for my first semester and once I started using it after that, I realized how dumb it was to skip out on. It’s paid for already, so you’re really wasting money by not using it! Also, when else will you be able to just scan a card and pick out whatever food you want or get counseling for free?

the five items you need in your makeup bag this fall

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It feels like forever since I’ve done a proper beauty post! That’s probably because I’ve moved on from trying all sorts of different things to settling into a pretty solid routine and thus, I don’t have a ton of new things to review in this realm. For the most part, I’m now using 100% clean beauty brands from skincare and makeup to bath and body.

I actually get a lot of satisfaction out of curating a streamlined beauty routine of really great, effective products even more than my days of trying new products every month. There’s something about curation that really becomes appealing when you begin to minimize. I see it in my wardrobe too. I get much more excited to buy one great new piece every few months than buying several less exciting things more often.

Here’s five products from clean brands that you should definitely add to your makeup bag for the upcoming fall season:

This has been my go-to product for just under a year now and one tiny pot has lasted me so long that I’m only now due for a new one. It’s super clean, formulated with coconut oil (which can be comedogenic but this has never broken me out) , castor seed oil, cocoa butter, and jojoba oil. Most days, this is all I use on my face, it’s that good.

Here’s a gorgeous lip product that adds color without stripping your lips of moisture, but instead adding it back with hydrating ingredients like castor seed oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, and other oils. The color I love particularly for fall is their nude pink, Nobody’s Baby. It looks beautiful on all shades of skin and has a warm, understated feel.

This is another product I’ve been using for about a year now and it’s so nice, plus it’s perfect for fall because it smells like pumpkin pie since it’s formulated with pumpkin and apricot seed powder. It’s one part mask, one part exfoliant, so you massage it into your face for 60 seconds and then leave it on your face for 10 minutes. The formula is full of fruit enzymes and vitamins for brightening, beta carotene for cell turnover, and the gently exfoliating apricot seed powder.

This new-to-me brand has the most beautiful packaging and ingredients in their Plum Beauty Oil, a multipurpose anti-aging and restorative formula. That is, if you can even call it a formula. The sole ingredient is plum seed oil, which contains omega fatty acids, polyphenols, and vitamins A and E. You can apply this directly to your skin, mix with a cream moisturizer, mix with your foundation, and even use it on the ends of your hair.

I love a multi-use product and this one from vegan, clean brand W3LL PEOPLE can be used on the cheeks, eyes, or lips. It’s formulated with aloe and antioxidants, so it’s working for your skin not against it when you wear it. In my eyes, that’s what all makeup should do.

the weekend list no. 68

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
— Edward Abbey
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It’s been a fairly eventful past two weeks with the summer winding down and hurricane season in full swing. We went further inland for a few days during Hurricane Dorian and were lucky to have great weather there, but things also weren’t bad at home. The power didn’t even go out which was a shocker! Our holiday away from the storm basically just included a lot of Italian food, reading, and work as usual during the day. After that, it was back to business as usual.

Last weekend was mum’s birthday, which we celebrated with even more Italian food from Prato in Winter Park. We had a tremendous Margherita pizza, arugula salad, then blackberry gelato and coffee cake with blueberry compote for dessert. Before dinner, we went into a new-to-me store around the corner called Piante, which had the most beautiful floral designs and pieces for the home.

This weekend, we’re going to see the new Victor Kossakovsky documentary Aquarela, which is described by Variety as “the most metal documentary about water you’ll ever see”, so I am definitely looking forward to that! After that, I’m hoping to spend part of Sunday with a friend, baking a tarte Normande while she makes homemade cider and kicking off autumn with some cozy movies.

Two weeks from now, we’re going to see a stage production of Pride + Prejudice that I’m really excited about and then, before you know it, it’ll be October and time for all things Halloween! In the meantime, here’s a great list of links for you this weekend:

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Such great reminders on career.

Jane’s guide to creating a secondhand capsule wardrobe for fall is spectacular.

Love these ideas for switching up your fall work routine.

I’m so inspired by these back-to-school outfits.

Five lessons learned from living in Paris.

Treat yourself to a French girl facial massage.

How to style your black booties for fall. I love #1 and #7.

Loved reading Coco Gauff’s feature on ITG.

Have you stocked up on Trader Joe’s fall products yet? I have my eye on the pumpkin ravioli.

I can’t get over this dress! And of course, the incredible work she’s doing.

Five ways to eat the apples you pick this fall.

I think I’m going to need to plan a trip to Bath. Because of this too.

Such gorgeous interior design work.

As an enormous fan of Audrey Hepburn and Charlotte Rampling, a resounding yes to this.

why we should all be lifelong learners + how to do it

This month’s theme on the blog is back-to-school and for the first few decades of our lives, that’s what we do every fall. But what happens after that? Unless you’re pursuing a Ph.D or two, you typically reach a point in your mid to late 20s when you’re out of school and are no longer in a traditional learning environment. But, I feel strongly that we should all commit ourselves to being lifelong learners and that education is one of the very most important facets of life.

If you look to history, so many of our iconic figures were autodidacts, from Ernest Hemingway and Le Corbusier to Leonardo DaVinci and Vincent van Gogh to Nikola Tesla and subsequently, Elon Musk. They were or are committed to a life of discovery and self-education, which I think we should all emulate. So, get out your notebooks and let’s do it.


It makes you more interesting.

You’ll be more independent.

It promotes a healthy brain.

You’ll be better at your job.

It connects us with others.


Read (a lot).
The truth is you really can’t learn a whole lot if you’re not reading. If there’s one thing you do in life by my recommendation, it’s to prioritize exercise and prioritize reading because the two together are a powerhouse. Elon Musk learned to build rockets from books, Bill Gates reads 50 books a year, and apparently, those who read only seven or more books a year are 122% more likely to be millionaires compared to those who only read one to three. So, set a goal! For the past few years, I’ve achieved reading 50 books a year and in 2019, I’m on track to read 70. It’s so much easier than you think. Start by committing to read 10 pages every morning and 10 pages before bed. You’ll probably end up reading more and hit 50 books before you know it.

Take courses online.
To pick up practical skills - everything from languages and design to programming and beyond - why not take an online course? There are so many great websites out there like Coursera, Skillshare, and Dataquest that can help you to learn new hard skills. On the more academic side, you can use Academic Earth to take courses from schools like Columbia, Yale, and MIT or even Harvard Extension School directly.

Pick up new hobbies.
Something I always say in jest when I see people obsess over little, meaningless problems is, “Get a hobby.” But in all seriousness, having hobbies outside of work is so impactful. Not only are you learning new things and developing new skills, but it’s keeping your mind in a good, productive place and makes you more interesting. This could be anything from playing a team sport or board games to baking or learning about wine.

Travel often.
Traveling is a great way to learn new things across the board, especially about cultures and geography but also politics and history. When you do travel, schedule some time to visit museums and historical sites to really expand your knowledge set. If you’re interested in a particular period of history, it can be fun to plan your travel around that too. For instance, I love World War II history and there are so many great places around the world you can visit to learn a ton about that era.

Develop a growth mindset.
This sort of falls both under “why” and “how” to become a lifelong learner. Developing a growth mindset is perhaps the most crucial part of success and it goes hand-in-hand with learning. If you haven’t heard the term, here’s the basics: People with a growth mindset believe that their abilities and intelligence evolve over time while people with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities and intelligence are fixed traits. For instance, a fixed mindset says, “I’m naturally bad at math and will never be good at it,” where a growth mindset says, “Math isn’t my greatest strength, it might even be a weakness, but with time and effort, I can get better.” Growth mindset and lifelong learning, in my eyes, are mutually exclusive.

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
— Benjamin Franklin

new books to read this fall + the handbags to carry them in


When I think about my vision of the perfect autumn day, it includes - among many other things - a walk through a beautiful garden or forest with a cup of hot tea and a cozy book to read outdoors on a crisp, sunny day. But of course, you’ve got to have something in which to carry all your books and there are so many gorgeous bags in the shops right now. My thinking is why not match the bag to the book?

When fall comes around, I like to break out my shearling bag (in the photo above) because it makes me feel cozy and an unintended side effect is that it matches so many of the fall book covers I have around. So without further ado, here’s eight books to read this fall and the bags to carry them in.

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout (October 15)
In the sequel to Strout’s massive hit Olive Kitteredge, titular character Olive struggles to understand herself and the people who populate her small Maine town, from a woman about to give birth to a nurse confessing a high school crush and more.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (September 24)
Cyril Conroy starts a real estate empire at the end of World War II which leads him to purchase The Dutch House, an estate near Philadelphia that sets in motion the undoing of his family. In this story, Ann Patchett weaves a dark fairytale spanning five generations.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (November 5)
From the author of The Night Circus - arguably one of the most autumnal novels there is - comes this story about a grad student in Vermont who discovers and becomes enthralled in a mysterious book and finds himself in a hidden underground library below the Earth and other magical worlds.

American Royals by Katharine McGee // (September 3)
This is a story set in a world where George Washington became the first monarch of the United States after the Revolutionary War rather than the first president. Now, his descendants are the US’s royal family and deal with all sorts of intriguing drama like you’d expect from any other good royal novel.

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox // (September 17)
I adored Hester Fox’s 2018 book The Witch of Willow Hall, which makes me excited for her follow up, The Widow of Pale Harbor. This story is set in Maine in 1846, where a man, after the death of his wife, takes a a job as a minister in the remote village of Pale Harbor. He soon faces unsettling things in the town that are attributed to a spinster maid who is accused of being a witch. There’s a connection to Edgar Allan Poe in this book which makes it a no-brainer fall read.

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson // (September 17)
In this story, a teenage pregnancy ties together families from different classes. It begins in 2001 with Melody living with her grandparents in a Brooklyn brownstone and tells the story of Melody, her parents, and her grandparents and how they all got to a particular moment in time.

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore // (September 3)
I’m beyond excited for Evie Dunmore’s debut novel, set in 19th century England. Annabelle Archer, daughter of a poor country vicar, is accepted to study at Oxford where she is to lead the charge for the suffragette movement. She set outs to recruit a duke to join her cause and manages to fall for him even though he stands for everything she hates. They become locked in a battle in which Annabelle discovers what it takes to topple the duke.

A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier // (September 17)
Set in 1932 after the war in which she lost her brother and fiancé, Violet is referred to as a “surplus woman”, part of a generation ‘doomed to spinsterhood’. But, she moves to an English town where she joins a society of broderers who embroider kneelers for the town’s famous cathedral to carry on a centuries old tradition. She finds community there, but must brace herself as another war is on the horizon.