Saturday, August 30, 2014

Letters From A College Freshman: Dorm Room Tour

Hello lovely human beings of the internet, I am alive and well. I've been living in North Dakota for a week now, and it's feeling like a second home. I live here now and it's starting to feel real. I'm getting a routine down and I've found my little group. I'm making friends very quickly and finding my niche. I love my room, and it's become my place, as I've strived to make it reflect me and my style and all that I love. Now that I'm all settled and have my schedule down, I will do my best to get back into my blogging routine, and I'm eager to write all my college posts! I thought I'd start by doing a tour of my new room! 

My bedding is all from Target because I love Target and they have everything for pretty decent prices. 

Blanket in Mint Ash
Jersey Sheets in Heather Ebony
  Decorative Pillow in Teal 
I couldn't find the bigger pillow or the pillowcase online, but I also got those at Target here in Bismarck, and I got the pillowcase in gray. My mother said it looks like a fuzzy elephant and it really does.

Three of my four walls are white brick, and very little sticks to them, but my mother put ribbon in two strips and then I attached photos with double stick tape. I have others on my windowsill and the window seat. My room is surrounded with photos, but I like it that way. 

All the furniture in my dorm hall is brand spankin' new, as the hall itself is newly remodeled. My desk is my second favorite thing after my bed because it is huge. I can work comfortably, even with three or four books open, along with my laptop and planner. There are two spacious drawers, and two deep shelves so they hold all my school supplies and books, which makes it easier to stay organized. My mom picked out this little desk organizer which is actually a planter...but we like to multi-purpose. I like this lamp because it is flexible and not too big, but it gives a low light which makes the room cozier. 

I got a set of four cork boards and stuck them to the wall with adhesive squares. I love these because they're easy to pin things up in a rush and they add a nice contrast to the wall. My mom picked these little pins up too, and I keep them in a little bin on top my desk so they're convenient. 

I had my heart set on a floor mirror, and it just so happened that Target has these for like $5 so they're perfect for a dorm. I had it on the wall but the adhesives wouldn't hold it, so until I pick up some command strips, I have it pushed up against the wall, but it works either way.  

Although I've barely cracked these open, I know they will be worn out before too long. My work load hasn't been terrible yet, but knock on wood, because it's only the first week of 8 AM class got cancelled every day this week because the teacher was in Washington D.C. so it was pretty darn nice to be able to sleep in a bit. 

The top of my dresser houses my kitchen wares and my makeup mirror, and it's a nice big space like my desk, so if I need to use it for something other than a dresser top I easily could. The furniture is really multi-purpose and spacious which is really nice and convenient. I got my mug, water jar, kettle and flatware were all on sale and they all go with my color theme as well!

The bathrooms look like hotel bathrooms, and they are always super clean, which makes if feel more homey and less college-y, which I like and which makes this huge adjustment a little easier. 

I find myself representing my California pride on my door, and my neighbors know that my door is always open so they can come in at any time. 

My closet door was a little bland and naked until I printed these off and stuck them and  I feel like they showcase a little of my personality and passions and add some pi-zazz to an otherwise boring area. 

The showers are amazing, and they have two shower curtains, one separating the actual shower from the little space to hang your towel and robe, and the other is a curtain separating the whole shower space from the door. The tile is brand new and everything is immaculate, so I'm a happy camper. 

The halls are clean, though the renovation is still going on a bit so the brick floors are definitely dusty, but overall it gives a very comfortable and homey look and I love the brick and the tiles. 

I am loving dorm life so far, and I've already made so many wonderful friends. I miss home, especially after I got news of the Napa Earthquake, but I am embracing this new stage of my life with open arms and I am very eager to see what my future brings me. 

I promise I will get back into my blogging schedule now that I have a routine down and I have settled in for the most part. Leave a comment if you have questions about dorm life or anything else, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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Friday, August 22, 2014

High-Five For Friday!

Well it has been a whirl-wind of a week, and as you are reading this, I am most likely on a plane with my mother flying halfway across the country to my new home. I made so many memories this week, shed a bucketful of tears and even more laughs, but I made it through, and I know Christmas will be here before I know it. Now before I get emotional again, let's get onto this week's favorites! 

As you probably know by now, I have naturally curly hair, and sometimes it is hard to take care of (O.K. a lot of the time...) I really liked wearing my hair straight this week because it was easier to maintain and I just thought I'd try something new. I have been trying to grow out my hair for over a year now so I avoided any heat for a long time, but I figured if I'm overdue for a haircut anyway, why not fry it and see how it looks. So I did. This product seemed to help my hair stay smooth and made it easier to blow out and then straighten. I'm not sure where my mother picked it up (Target or CVS most likely) but I might have to pick up a bottle when we do all my shopping in Bismarck today, because this stuff really works! (I just sounded like that anti-acne know the one I'm talking about?)

I've been wanting this book for so long and I've seen it everywhere, from Urban Outfitters to Amazon to Francesca's, but I never justified buying it until now. It's amazing how the closer and closer I've gotten to leaving, the more money I've started spending on things that I could probably do without. Anyway, this book is the bomb diggity because it has 712 (imagine that!) writing prompts and scenarios to get the creative writing juices flowing. I love how I can either go in order, start to finish, or I can randomly open it up and start writing. I think it is an amazing tool for any blogger, reader or just someone who likes to write in general. I got this one at the local bookshop for about $17, but I think it's totally worth it and I can't wait to fill it up with my thoughts!

I purchased this bracelet for my cousin last week before a family party, as my "parting gift" to her, and earlier this week, she bought me a matching one. I'm in love with everything about this bracelet, and the story behind it. It's just perfect, that's all I can say. You can find it online here.

Where do I begin with these babies? My bestie bought a bag for me last week and (I'm embarrassed to admit) it was gone in four days... don't judge me, you don't understand! They are to die for. I've never even seen them in stores or heard of the brand before now, but I became addicted way too fast. After going to dinner with my cousin on Tuesday night, we searched Whole Foods and then World Market before finding a whole shelfful. I picked up two bags (Hazelnut and Chocolate) but I also highly recommend the Dark Chocolate ones (which got me started on my love affair with Loacker, JSYK) 

I finally got them!! My mom handed me her credit card on Wednesday morning and told me I could go to the outlets and buy me some Sperrys. Ugh I am in love. I've wanted these for so long and the wait made it so much sweeter and I can't wait to wear them on the first day of school on Tuesday. I got these

So there's my Friday round-up; it's been quite the week, and so endeth my summer. It has had it's ups and downs, but I survived! And now I am off to a fresh start with a whole new life ahead of me. I will make mistakes, I will shed more tears, I will live and learn, but I know I will thrive because I have the greatest people I could ever imagine on my side, a blog and classes to keep me busy and more support and love than I could ever wish for. 

What were your favorites this week? 

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What I've Learned Since High School

I woke up early this morning to throw on some clothes and run a brush through my hair so I could take some pictures with my siblings on their first day of school. It seems like yesterday that I was in uniform, a backpack full of brand new school supplies slung over my shoulder, and the pressures, anxieties and excitement of a new year looming over me. As cliché as it sounds, I really do feel old now, and I admit that as my mom pulled out of the driveway with kids in tow, I got a little teary eyed because that stage of my life is over, never to be repeated. 

I didn't have the easiest time in high school; I was all over the place, for one, and I was never a straight A student. I was homeschooled until 9th grade, when I "attended" an online school. I made friends and still keep in contact with a couple of them, but I struggled to stay focused and motivated, and looking back now, it really wasn't healthy for me to be sitting in front of the computer for eight hours a day. I got my first F in Logic (that doesn't mean anything, right?) and basically became a social wacko because my only physical contact was that of my family. So that was cool. Sophomore Year I did a mix of a homeschool curriculum and took two classes at the local public school (I pretty much taught myself with my mom's supervision) That didn't go too well either because I was bored and my teachers were awful. Combined with the culture shock of public school and the lack of motivation, I was left with anything but a wholesome education. Junior Year I took the plunge and enrolled full-time in a public Charter School. If I could describe it in one word (my opinion now, at least, back then I thought it was the best ever and I had finally found myself...#smh) it would be pure hell. The adults in charge didn't want to be referred to as teachers because they believed in an education where the students would teach themselves and work on projects on basically whatever they wanted. I got involved with the wrong crowd, received like one credit (yes, one) and became a person I was not proud of. 

I know what you're thinking, jeez, is there a happy ending to this horror story? Well, there is actually! A little over two years ago, my parents moved our family back to Northern California  and my siblings and I were enrolled in a K-12 Catholic School with a liberal arts emphasis and teachers who cared more about our education and well-being and less about their paycheck. I repeated my Junior Year, made friends for life, participated in Drama and acted in two performances, attended two amazing Proms, went on numerous field trips, suffered a heartbreak, and graduated with Honors, along with my fourteen classmates. It was the best experience of my life, even though there were days when I dreaded getting up, and there was more drama in a classroom of twenty than there ever was in a public school of 500. My teachers truly loved us and ignited within us a spark that will never burn out. They taught us the importance of our faith and how our actions affect others even if we don't think they do. 

I was blessed to attend a school where all four of my younger siblings were on the same campus. I have so many wonderful memories of seeing my baby brother playing on the playground and helping the 2nd grade teacher organize her classroom. I remember buying Starbucks every single day because Seniors were cool and could leave campus at lunch. I remember rides to Chipotle in my friend's red Mustang, four of us squished in, rain or shine, literally running back to homeroom before the bell rang, trying to beat the principle before the not-so-adored Economics class. I smile as I look back on playing the role of the gypsy queen in the original Snow White, and the Red Queen in Alice In Wonderland and yes, I remember not learning my lines until the week of the performance and getting stage fright so badly that we basically made up the scene as we went along on opening night. I remember dancing till my feet ached on Prom Night and how it was one of the happiest nights of my life. I remember walking up the stage on my graduation day, receiving the diploma I had finally earned, and meeting one of my best friends later that day. (As unexpected as it was, she's one of the best things that ever happened to me and I would never go back) 

Though it's only been three months, I've learned many things since graduating; some good and some bad, but everything is a lesson. 

  1. No matter how hard you beg, some things won't change and you just have to accept it
  2. The most unexpected friendships are the ones that can lift you the highest
  3. Though cheaper, buying college textbooks on Amazon can be risky because the fine print reads "most likely delivered September 20" and class starts on August 26
  4. The amount of coffee consumed does not decrease just because you don't have to get up at 5:30 every morning 
  5. Goodbyes don't get easier the older you get
  6. It will hurt for a long time, but faking it can hold you over, so can buying new underwear and binge-watching Netflix
  7. Also, Netflix solves everything (or at least helps)
  8. You never realize how many pairs of jeans and how few shirts you have until you start packing up your wardrobe into one suitcase
  9. Remember when $100 seemed like a ton of money? In the real world, it doesn't go far
  10. Times will be hard and things will come and go, but family is forever and adopted family makes it worth the pain in the end
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Letters From A College Freshman: Moving Week Update

Hello everybody! I am alive and well, though my blogging hasn't exactly been up to parr lately. I've been busy with packing and family parties and spending these last few days with friends before I finally leave on Friday morning, so I didn't plan on blogging every day anyway. Still, it's been a while, so I just wanted to let you know that I haven't given up on my blog or my readers, just taking a little blog-cation. I suspect I won't be blogging everyday once I get to North Dakota until I am moved in and settled, but I will do my best. I will also work on some posts to have lined up to publish on those days when I'm not able to write. 

All in all, life is O.K. I'm starting to feel the feels (you know what movie I'm referencing here) as Friday gets closer, but I'm also excited to go and start my new life in my new home. I ordered all my books, picked my meal plan, sent in (most of) my forms and filled a big garbage bag with Goodwill items this afternoon. I really don't have that many clothes, which makes packing a bit easier, but also a tad more stressful because I realize everything I need to buy once in Bismarck, and also, even without a huge wardrobe, I can't manage to fit everything in a single suitcase and backpack. Feelin' the feels and stressing big time! 

I still don't know who my roommate is- apparently a bunch of girls whom the Housing Department had paired up decided they weren't attending the school after all, so now Housing has to go and rematch everyone. I should know (hopefully) before I leave, but if not, well, we'll all be surprised! I do know the hall in which I will be living, Boniface West, and I have my new address. The hall is brand new and completely renovated, so everything from the mattresses to the shower hardware is new (which excites me just a little more because I happen to like new things) I'm sure I will be posting some pictures once I'm settled, so look forward to that! 

I also have my classes, which are Philosophy, Introduction To Bible, Spanish, Principles Of Management (basically a fancy name for a Business class) and Freshman Seminar. I have "met" quite a few of my classmates via Facebook, and my counselors who have helped me have been fantastic. 

I'm not sure what else there is to update. I didn't intend on making this a pre-college post, but I guess I have a lot going on and the bulk of it is college related! I have some posts I am working on that I will be scheduling if all goes well, so look forward to that, and in the meantime, wish me luck on my final days here in California! 
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Visiting the CIA

No, I'm not referring to the Central Intelligence Agency, I'm talking about the Culinary Institute of America. We have one right here in the Napa Valley, and earlier this week I was privileged enough to accompany the same photographer (who I shot with last week) on a visit. We also stopped by the Charles Krug Winery on the way back into Napa. I've never actually been inside a winery before, and it was an awesome (for lack of a better word) experience. 

The "chilling" room. 

I couldn't believe how many wine barrels there were.

And these gorgeous lights that were lining the original ceilings. 

Lovely gardens and blue sky. 

The actual winery itself is a work of art. 

The Culinary Institute of America, in all of its glory.

A collection of antique bottle openers, in all shapes and styles imaginable. 

The Café, which unfortunately we didn't have time to sample, but it's on my list of things to do.

Fresh produce from the winery across the highway.

A rustic but beautiful centerpiece in the Café.

Spotless silverware.

Incredible truffles.

The main wine bar.

And every single cookbook you could ever imagine, but this became a personal favorite. 

I hope I can go back to the CIA and try some of their delicious food. When I was younger, it was my dream to become a chef and attend the Institute. Those dreams have changed a bit, but I still love everything related to food and this place was unbelievable. 

Have you visited any of the CIA locations?
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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Musings of a Foodie: Smashed Sandwiches

Sandwiches are some of my favorite things to eat. Any time of day, and pretty much any kind...sandwiches are one of those universal foods that result in instant comfort and deliciousness. The Italians have the panini, the French take pride in their croque-monsieur, and Mexico even has their version, the torta. Sandwiches can be as simple as plopping some jam or marmalade on a slab of Wonder Bread, or as elaborate as this bad boy. 

When my mother came home from the store and announced she was making "big sandwiches" for dinner, my mouth immediately started to water and my mood was lifted just a speck. I've been reading a lot of food posts (in case you couldn't tell) so I had to shoot some images of the process. 

Now, onto the recipes. 

Mixed Herb Pesto

1 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
1 bunch basil
1 bunch sage
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup green onion
Juice from 1 lemon
3 cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients in a food processor. 

Caprese Sandwich

1 loaf French or Sourdough (or any other kind of bread you like)
3 tomatoes
Enough sliced mozzerella to cover the loaf
Sprinkling of Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Mixed Herb Pesto (or as much as you like) 
Salt & Pepper

Spread and stack as you wish.

Twisted Cuban Sandwich

1 loaf French or Sourdough (or any other kind of bread you like)
Sliced ham
Sliced roast beef
Sliced swiss cheese
Sliced dill pickles
2 tomatoes
1/2 Mixed Herb Pesto (or as much as you like) 
Salt & Pepper

Spread and stack as you wish. 

Are you a sandwich lover as well? What are some of your favorite sandwich recipes? Would you be interested in trying any of these?
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