Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Club: August 2015

Hello My Fellow Clubbies!

I cannot believe August is over!!! August being over is basically the beginning of the end at this point. It means school has started, I'm a senior, and I'll be incredibly busy! I wanted to get so much more reading in this summer than I did, but now that it's over I feel like all my extra reading time that I didn't take advantage of is now completely wasted. Now this sounds like such a downer, but I am determined to make the rest of my months successful in terms of reading!! (Goal: read at least one book a month)

one//Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
This first one I read is just a really light, silly read. I totally enjoyed getting lost in the world of Swamplandia!  It was so fun to get lost and engrossed in this new world. It was an easy read and I'd recommend it when you need an easy book to pick up, that you can read when really busy this is the one you want!
two//Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
I am so happy I put this book on my list. Its one of those books you mean to get to but never get around to it, luckily I did. I thought it was going to be a slow read like Jane Austen, but I was wrong. It was a much faster read than Austen but remember it was written in the 1800s. I really enjoyed the stories and adventures of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. This book should definitely be on everyone's list!

What are you reading now?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

What To Do When A Hurricane Hits?

Good Morning Loves,

If you live in the USA, you will have seen in the news the Florida has a strong possibility of getting hit by Tropical Storm (TS) Erika. Even if the storm weakens before hitting Florida and does not make it to Category one hurricane we will still get a lot of rain and potential flooding. As someone who has lived through many hurricanes in Florida I can tell you how they can be scary but also very boring. It is very important to get prepared. As of uncertainty with where Erika is going to hit, which makes it a lot more difficult to get prepared.

As an intern for the Red Cross, I learned a lot about emergency preparedness and what it takes to help people in need. It is so incredibly important to help people that are in need, but it is even more important to be prepared so that you do not become a person that is in need. In order to not become that person you need to prepare a "Go-Bag" and have supplies to last.

You want to have:

  • enough food to last three days per person (non-perishable in case the power is lost)
  • batteries
  • hand held radio
  • water, enough to last three days per person (about three gallons a person)
  • blankets
  • toiletries (including painkillers)
  • enough prescription medication to last three days
  • flashlight
  • First Aid kit and gloves
  • chargers
  • entertainment that does not require technology
If you are interested in helping out in your area (especially in Florida right now) contact your local Red Cross, they always need more people to help. You could do things like sheltering and feeding or assessing damage for people's houses. It really is a great organization and it feels good to make a difference in people's lives.

Don't forget to prepare your house!
  • get shutters if you need
  • get tarps to cover a roof damage
  • get bins to collect water
  • get extra gas for your car or generator
  • make sure all your outdoor furniture is away
  • park your car in a location in which it will not flood or get damaged
  • unplug large electronics so they don't short circuit
  • prepare an evacuation plan if needed 
  • find a shelter nearby
  • make sure you have all your emergency numbers up to date
Hurricanes sound very scary, but in reality they are a lot more boring than scary. You will see that sitting in doors without power will get boring really fast! But do not discourage, it will go by quickly and all that is left is the clean up. This is especially tedious. Make sure to stay safe, stay out of flooded areas (you never know what is in the water), and be prepared.

Stay safe and dry!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Gifts for Someone Studying Abroad

Hello Loves,

This semester two of my best friends are studying abroad. It is absolutely horrible for me because I'm going to miss them so much! I decided to send them a little package before they left. I filled it with just a couple of things that I thought they'd like and find useful abroad. One of the girls that is going her birthday is within the first couple of days of getting abroad so I sent some surprise birthday stuff to my other friend so they can throw her a surprise party. I love parties so I hope they enjoy themselves.

Some key pieces of advice before getting presents before buying stuff remember that they are downsizing to go abroad. As much as you want to buy them knick knacks and fun things, they have very limited space to take everything they need so keep in mind that everything you get them has to be useful or it won't be used. Another quick piece of advice is to keep in mind where that person is going so you can buy weather & culturally appropriate.

Obviously this is a super important part of traveling. I personally find luggage to be a very personal thing to buy, but some people really like giving and receiving luggage as a gift. I think that it is really hard to know what luggage suits a person best, but keep in mind where that person might be going. If they are going to Europe maybe a suitcase or a multipurpose backpack would be better. If they are going somewhere more adventurous maybe a duffle bag or just a multipurpose backpack. Just keep that in mind when shopping. Stay useful!

Luggage Tag Personalized Travel Tag Custom Luggage Identification Tag Baggage ID Tag Vacation Suitcase Tag Kids Luggage Tag Carry On Bag Tag
These are really important and fabulous to have! They help identify luggage in the luggage claim and in case the bags get lost. There are so many cute ones out there!!

three//Travel Wallet or Passport Holder
For someone that is going abroad their passport is their most important document. Therefore getting passport holder or a wallet that can also hold their passport is really great because it allows for the traveler to have a safe place for their documents. There are some really great ones that range from $8 to $40 on Amazon.

four//Stack of Letters
I think this a super fun way of reminding your traveler that they are loved and that you hope they are having the most amazing time. It gives them just a little something fun to hold on to. It will also remind them from home. I made it more like a hunt and where they can't open them until each month has started. I really hope they like my little cards. Keep your notes positive and encouraging. Stay inspirational and motivational.

five//Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is incredibly important and sometimes getting caught up in the daily fun you can forget to drink water, sometimes the water is not healthy for consumption, or its just really expensive to buy water all the time. For that reason a water bottle would be incredibly useful for a student traveling abroad.

Reading material is necessary for travelers be it for pleasure or information on the road. Here are some ideas of types of reading for the traveler!

  • Travel guides: A good country or city-specific guide to where the traveler is going. Lonely Planet is known for its first-hand approach, up-to-date maps and great budget-traveler tips.
  • Culture guides: Travelers do not just visit a country, they enter a culture. Xenophobe's Guides highlight the unique character and behavior of a nature in a funny way while the Culture Shock! series provides full explanations of social and business customs through practical examples and helpful "Dos and Don'ts"
  • Novels/Literature: Learning about culture, history, geography, and language through literature is a wonderful way to explore a country. GoodReads offers its list of "Around the World in 80 Books" and Ann Morgan made a list of 196 titles from her "A Year of Reading the World"
  • Online News Subscriptions: Providing subscriptions to the Economist, Financial Times, The International New York Times, or other global information sources will allow them to stay informed about what's going on in the world.
While every person has smart phones with great cameras it is also nice to be able to turn to a real camera to capture the moment. Digital cameras offer much better image quality. There are views that are just too pretty for "point and shoot." While cameras can be on the expensive side a GoPro would be a lot of fun for the traveler instead of just a digital camera. 35mm Cannon or Nokia are great for additional features, better memory, and additional lens.

All students should be encouraged to keep a journal when abroad to record all their thoughts, impressions, adventures, emotions, and hesitations. It doesn't have to be anything fancy but definitely nicer than just a regular high school notebook. They can add pictures or other things to make it more sentimental. You can even write somethings in it or include some pictures to add a heartfelt touch. A small set of notebooks could also be handy to take around with them. Easy to take with them or store so they can take them out to jot down notes, peoples names, write a special memory, or tag a picture. There are so many different Journals out there. Cafe Press, Papyrus, Barnes and Noble, Etsy, Target, and Amazon have a wide selection. 

nine//First Aid Supplies
First aid supplies are important! They don't necessarily have to be all emergency first aid supplies. But band-aids are always a good thing to have because you never know when you need a band aid. Hairties are also a great thing to put in the kit because as girls they seem to always be missing. I put in the breathing barrier key chain in case of emergencies! Overall think of useful things that they would need while abroad. Stay useful.

ten//Neck Pillow & Sleep Mask
Sleep is essential! But it can be difficult to do in new environments and long plane rides and train or even long bus rides. You can pretty much buy a neck pillow in any airport these days. The Minnie Compact from Bucky is great because of the snap and go feature. Sleep masks can be really important to get a good nights rest in places where you might not necessarily get the darkness you need to get a good nights rest. Dream essentials has a wide variety of sleep masks for your traveler. I would also include socks because planes are cold and you can never go wrong with an extra pair of socks!

eleven//Hanging Toiletry Bag
Shared bathrooms and showers are pretty common in campuses abroad and staying in hotel rooms with many people might also lead to shared space. The nylon hanging toiletry bag with multiple pockets for maximum organization comes in many different sizes with a hang strap to fit over most hooks and towel bars. L.L. Bean has a nice assortment, as well as Lewis N. Clark for $20. REI Multitowel Lite has an extra gift and is lightweight as well as wrings out completely to fold up.

Despite the excitement of studying abroad the traveler will miss the comforts of home as well as friends and family. Instead of just promising to Skype every week give other gifts that will remind them of home. Letters as I mentioned above. You might want to include some pictures of great memories, either in a photo album or a lightweight frame. Small care packages of their favorite foods or snacks would also be a great thing to send (just be mindful of TSA and Customs regulations).

I'm so excited for them to come back and share all their stories and adventures with me. What they don't know is that I'll just be hiding in their luggage, so I'll be there the whole time hahaha

Safe Travels Y'All

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Coconut Oil {Hair Mask}

Hello Loves,

As my first installation of the coconut oil series, I decided to do the hair mask. This is one I've done countless of times on my sister's and my hair. It is super easy and incredibly conditioning for your scalp and roots. It's pretty easy too.

The first thing you have to do is melt a bit of coconut oil. Coconut oil is liquid at room temperature (which is why we keep it in the fridge) making it easy and quick to melt. I like to just barely melt it so that its a soft solid paste.

Then I part my hair or my sister's hair into four quadrants and slowly add the coconut oil to each quadrant. I do it like that in order to get the most oil to reach the scalp. You want the roots of your hair to be completely soaked through in order to get the most out of the coconut oil.

I put up the hair so that the tips can also soak in the coconut oil. While the treatment is supposed to be for your scalp, it also helps with your tips. The coconut oil will keep your hair shiny, strong, and protected. Keep the coconut oil in your hair for as long as possible (my sister can't stand the smell of coconut oil so she didn't last long) then wash your hair at least twice with shampoo. You want all the oil out of your hair.

My sister's hair was so soft and smooth afterward, we could not keep our fingers out of it! I really love this treatment. Its easy, quick, and has nearly immediate results.

What do you use coconut oil for?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Aerial Yoga Class

Hello Loves,

Funny story on how I ended up signed up for aerial yoga classes. My mom was shopping for my birthday present and as a total joke asked me if I was interested in aerial yoga classes. Unfortunately for her, I have been wanting to try aerial yoga for such a long time, so I said yes! Her and my sisters' faces were priceless!! My mom actually bought it for me! I got five classes of aerial yoga.

When I walked into class, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. The studio is absolutely beautiful, very cute and cozy! Perfect for yoga! There were about twelve aerial fabrics hanging from the roof. There was no orange one so I picked a blue one.

For me, hanging upside down was by far the scariest part. Once I was upside down it was okay, but it was the getting there that was hard! We had such cool positions, I wish I had more pictures.

I loved this one! It felt like I was flying!! Its kind of incredible to think that we were hanging by just a piece of fabric. I really enjoyed doing this pose, it was so fun to just hang like that. It was fun to also do downward dog with the fabric, I feel like I actually got more of a stretch with it. I was even able to do a handstand!!!

I will definitely be going again! Not just because I have five more classes but also because I loved the yoga class. It was such a good workout and stretch! I will be dragging some friends along with me next time (hopefully then I'll get more pictures!) The yogi that taught our class also teaches a candlelight class which sounds amazing! So I'll have to try that one.

Do you like yoga?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sunrise & Sunset

Hello Loves,

I love sunrises and sunsets! But its so hard to wake up, slow down, and watch the sunrise and sunset every day. As part of my 101 in 1001, I had to chance to slow down and watch the sunrise and set in one day. It is something else completely being able to watch the sun go up over the ocean. It makes for the most amazing swimming and beautiful colors.

It is totally worth waking up early! I think I would want to do it more often. Apparently people wake up that early usually just to exercise!!! Crazy right? I think it could be a good idea..... I'll let you know if I do it again.

We were standing there watching the sun rise and right next to the rising sun there was this giant cloud! We could hear the rain falling onto the water that is when we knew that the rain was going to hit us soon. Little did we know that it would make landfall within seconds. We went to breakfast afterwards, nothing a little coffee couldn't fix.

This is the sunset at my school. It was a horribly rainy day by my house, but it was beautiful at my school. It was great because school hasn't started yet so it is still pretty quiet on campus.

Where do you see the sun rise and set?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Sweet Home Alabama

Hello Loves!

This weekend my mom, sisters, and I took a road trip to Alabama! We were dropping my sister off at school and also moving her into her new house! We got to meet her roommates, see where she hangs out, and even check out the town around her school. I really liked her town, I had such a blast! Still cannot believe that school is already starting.

We left at 5:15am which means we got to see the most beautiful sunrise on the road. I also got to find all sorts of snap filters in my state!

Jump for joy we made it to Alabama!!! Only 7 more hours till Tuscaloosa!

This is our favorite peach stand. We stop here every time! Hands down the most amazing peaches, plums, and tomatoes!!

Thought these bees were too cool to not take a picture (don't worry the peaches we bought had no bees!)

My sister then took us around The University of Alabama. She showed us where she works, has class, and hangs out with her friends. We even got to see her old dorm again! It is such a beautiful campus, even though it is absolutely enormous!

Always gotta find my Chi Os! <3 p="">
Denny Chimes

For breakfast my sister took us to Northport Downtown. Its the old fashion part of Northport, which is absolutely beautiful. It is very quaint and artsy. We went to the most delicious, local breakfast spot. Naturally afterward we walked around! We stopped at a bakery for some fresh baked goodies.

Before heading to my sister's house we went to the River Walk. It is this beautiful forest right next to the river and there is a trail you can walk along. We didn't have time to walk along the entire trail but we did do a good portion of it. It is so beautiful and a definite must-do in Tuscaloosa!

My little sister being silly while we moved my sister in! It was about 93F the entire time we were there! But her house is beautiful.

Her bed is very comfortable! We had to test it out by taking a nap!

My sister's house looks more like a barn, but it really is beautiful! So is the neighborhood.

Last year, we didn't get to see as much of Tuscaloosa as we did this year. But just one year of living there my sister was able to show us some of her favorite places, take us to try some of the best food, and really explore the city of Tuscaloosa. It was such a fun time. If you are going to college, really take your years there as time to fully explore and find the cool, local spots your town has to offer! You never know what you may find.

Thanks for Traveling with me!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sorority Recruitment Advice

Hello Loves,

One-on-one conversations are the heart of recruitment. They let the sisters know who you are and let you know who the sisters are. Both sisters and PNMs can make some improvements to their conversation abilities to improve their ability to communication, not just for recruitment but also for life. Having great rush conversations is the key to make the best sorority matches.

one// REALLY Listen
Don't be thinking about what you're going to be saying or doing next while the PNM or sister is speaking. Don't be thinking about ways to make a cool impression or plotting your next move, instead really tune in to what the girl talking to you is saying. By being truly present only then can an authentic conversation take place. If you honestly hear what she is saying, you will respond genuinely and then an authentic connection can take place. Pay Attention! Truly listen with your heart and head at all times!

two// Show Empathy
Empathy is about understanding what the PNM/sister is talking about. During your talks make appropriate gestures or exclamations to let the other girl know that you are getting the point and empathize. Don't cut her off, think before you speak, ask follow up questions. Embrace what is being said and what emotions are being shared in each conversations. Connect with the emotions and you will increase the effectiveness of your communication.

three// Be Appropriately Brief
Recruitment conversations are just a few minutes long, especially in early rounds. Avoid droning on and on. A successful conversation should be energetic, to the point, and moving forward. Rounds are high energy while you don't have to match the energy you should not lag behind either. You speaking style should be nimble, sharp, and spirited. Practice the C's of good recruitment communication ~ be concrete, clear, coherent, charming, and courteous.

four//Tailor Your Message
Each PNM/sister is different. Some will understand your sense of humor, others won't. Some are bubbly and others are quiet. Be quick thinking and tailor your talking points to the type of person you are talking to. While the sisters will mostly be in charge of the conversations, you don't want to overwhelm a quieter sister with a large personality. Some conversations will be easier than other, but a skilled communicator will adjust to her audience and make it work! Remember to keep showcasing your personality even if it is toned down.

five// Tune Out Distractions
Rush rounds are filled to the max with distractions! So many girls, so many conversations, so much movement, so much noise! Focus on the person you are talking to and tune out the rest. Try not to dart your eyes around the room looking for another sister or PNM. Remember in order to be an attentive listener you need to tune out the distractions and listen to the person talking!

six//Ask Questions and Follow Up
Recruitment talks are not monologs or interviews. They are conversations with a natural back and forth. It doesn't matter what you are talking about, ask questions, show interest, move the conversations forward. Engage in the topic that's being discussed and follow up with additional comments. 

seven//Tell A Story
Stories are powerful. They make an impression. They showcase who you are. People can relate to stories. Your stories make you unique, make you memorable. Practice your storytelling before recruitment. Make sure you're sharing the positive highlights. Get used to speaking about your life in a humorous, lighthearted way ~ or a sensitive, sincere way. Don't read from a script, keep your stories personable and genuine. You will make a lasting impression like that.

eight//Have A Plan
PNMs and sisters should not sound rehearsed, but some pre-planning is necessary for success. Plan what you're going to talk about, what questions to ask, what you want to highlight, what you want to downplay, what your interests are, who you are as a person, or chapter, etc. Have your talking points firmly in your mind but leave room for improvisation. Be prepared to find at least one thing in common with every girl you speak with! Sisters should really have some interesting and uncommon go to questions in case they hit a bump on the road.

nine// Get Rid of Annoying Conversation Fillers
Work hard to eliminate words like "uh", "um", "like", and "you know" from your vocabulary. The first step to ridding yourself of these habits is to start counting how many time you say them when you speak. Once you catch yourself saying "like", for example, you will begin to notice it every time. Constantly repeating those words keeps you from sounding confident and mature!

ten// Watch Your Body Language
Body language says a lot about what you are thinking. The non-verbal cues that you send out send a message about what you are thinking and how you feel about the conversation. Check yourself. Always be aware of what your body is doing while your mouth is busy making small talk. Remain calm, open, and relaxed in your arms, legs, and overall posture. Sit straight, try not to fidget with things, and be positively expressive in your body language. 

I hope these tips help with rush and any other future endeavors
Good Luck!