August 29, 2016

Keeping my Kitchen Clean...

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScotchBriteSponges #CollectiveBias

     Let's just cut right to the chase on this Monday, shall we? I have many strengths and strong suits, however anything falling under the category of being neat, organized, or having a desire to clean has never been one of them. For as long as I can remember, I have always hated most chores, and weirdly I am usually the most content when my living space is disheveled! I was the kid who hated making their (small twin sized) bed, and as soon as I would clean off the desk in my room, it would become cluttered and unusable again with piles upon piles of stuff. Of course there are certain things that I do enjoy organizing and am quite nit-picky about. For example, I color code my closet and have detailed systems for organizing different types of jewelry. But as a generality, I tend to be a messier person.

     Being messy while growing up or living in a small dorm room is one thing, but once I moved into my first apartment this past May, I knew that I wanted to try and change my habits. A driving factor in this was by observing my new roommate, Ciera. Ciera and I have been friends since my freshman year at my former college, but it wasn't until we started living together this Spring that I realized how organized she is! Ciera is dedicated to her cleaning schedule, and to making her living space neat and orderly. She has a demanding full-time job, but that doesn't keep her from cleaning our kitchen, living room, and her side of the apartment regularly. Ciera's neatness has been a huge inspiration to me this summer, so I am determined to start being more clean!

     In the first part of the process from changing my messy ways to being organized, I decided to think and evaluate the chores that I already enjoy doing, am so-so about doing, and ones that I absolutely hate doing. When thinking about chores that I sort of enjoy, doing the dishes comes to mind. Growing up at home, helping with the dishes was one of my least favorite chores. But now that I have my own kitchen and cook and bake in it frequently, I have gotten used to doing them and almost look forward to it at the end of my time in the kitchen each day. I always feel like my apartment is cleaner and ready for company if the sink is clean and dish-free.

     As seen above, if I am home and not working on schoolwork, my blog, or sleeping, I can usually be found whipping up something in my kitchen! I absolutely adore cooking and baking, and I try and find at least one new recipe to make each week. (I am spotted here though in my natural element making a tried and true homemade favorite: chocolate chip cookies!)

  When it comes to doing the dishes after my baking or cooking adventures, I like for them to be cleaned as quickly and efficiently as possible. I've recently found Scotch-Brite™sponges and dish cleaning products, and am just thrilled at how much better they work versus other sponge brands or dish towels that I've tried before!

    The blue sponges are Non-Scratch sponges, and are designed for cleaning non-stick cookware. They worked excellently for cleaning the non-stick cookie sheet that you can see pictured above in this post. The green sponges are Heavy Duty, and are a great choice for removing anything that is fiercely stuck on your dish-ware or cookware.  And lastly, Scotch-Brite™also sells a variety of dishwand options for anyone who would prefer to use that over a traditional sponge.

     Using these products in my kitchen cleaning routine has helped me to finish my dishes in record time, and also has helped with cleaning other parts of my kitchen, such as my mixer, microwave and stove top. Definitely a win-win, and a step in the right direction towards my journey to start enjoying cleaning! 

    Scotch-Brite™ sponges can be found in the Kitchen Cleaning aisle of your local Target, and you can use this great offer to save 10% off a 9-pack of sponges from Target! 

     You can also check out more great cleaning tips here (this was definitely inspiring to me!). 

     How do y'all keep your kitchens (or homes) clean? 

     xoxo Miss ALK

August 26, 2016

Essential Fall Sweater.

     Growing up, fall was always my least favorite season. Summer is such a short, fleeting time in Maine, and almost as soon as it arrives, it's gone! Fall always came way too quickly to take away sweet summer, so I never used to look forward to it.

     Now that I have spent a full summer in the South, my views have changed. I can definitely say that I'm excited for fall this year. I have enjoyed my summer, and I've also tolerated the humidity and high heat down here better than I thought I would. But I'm also definitely starting to get ready for some cooler temperatures and fall activities! 

     Stocking up on certain fall essential pieces before the season starts can be great for your wardrobe. I love buying some solid colored sweaters every year that I know I'll be able to mix and match with different bottoms and accessories, and overall get lots of wear out of. I'm absolutely in love with this Banana Republic cashmere sweater. It is definitely more of an investment piece, but it is so soft and light, while still being warm! What a win-win. I also love any fall or winter style pieces that still incorporate bright color for the cooler months. While some darker toned fall fashion can be chic, wearing dark colors for months on end can start to depress me. This sweater comes in many colors, and I loved this cheery coral color! 

      This is my last weekend in Charlotte before I will be traveling for the next two weekends! I don't have anything too exciting going on... mostly just things that I need to take care of before I'll be out of town. :-) Do any of you have fun weekend plans?



      xoxo Miss ALK

    Banana Republic provided gifted product in exchange for this post. All opinions are honest and my own. Thank-you for supporting the brands that support Southern Belle in Training!

August 25, 2016

Back-to-School Binder Covers Tutorial with HP.

     This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BTSwithHP #CollectiveBias

     The back-to-school season means that it's time for most students to begin lots of shopping. While basic school supplies like pens and binders usually top high on the list, sometimes items that are a bit more investment-worthy are needed for the school year as well, such as a new laptop computer! These days, it is almost impossible for a middle, high school, or college student to be able to complete their homework without having a computer of their own, as so many assignments are either online or require online research to complete nowadays. In college, I even had to take several online classes throughout my four years, meaning that these classes never even met in a physical classroom!

     Since a laptop can be such a big purchase, I know that a lot of students who might be shopping for one will be looking for one that combines convenience and affordability. Luckily- HP has come to the rescue. Walmart stores are carrying a wide array of HP laptops, all at different price points, which are perfect for different students' needs. 

     I recently had the chance to test out one of the new HP laptops (sold at Walmart). The one that I received was an HP Notebook. It came equipped with the latest Intel processor, a crisp HD screen, and high performance backed by over 200 tests! In getting familiar with my new computer, I decided to use it to help with a small project that I'd been wanting to work on for school! As some of you know, I began attending broadcasting school just over a month ago, which is essentially "graduate school" for people in my chosen career path. The start of school came upon me a little earlier this summer than I was expecting, so I am still in the process of figuring out which school supplies to bring with me each week, and what is best helping me studying and homework needs. One thing that I do need is a big binder to help organize all of my class notes. I was using a plain one, but I wanted to try and make a decorated and personalized binder cover to add a little bit of color and pizzaz to my school supplies!

     There are a lot of tutorials online for how to make your own customized monogrammed binder covers, but I already have either my monogram or the letter A on a lot of things, so I wanted to do something a little bit different and add an encouraging bible verse to my binder cover. 

     The first thing that I did was use Microsoft Edge, the all-new web browser that came pre-installed in my HP laptop, to search with and find a pretty background for my binder cover. (Is anyone really that surprised that I went with a Lilly Pulitzer background?!) 

     Next I launched Microsoft Word, which is the program that I used to make the binder covers. You don't have to have Adobe programs or anything fancy to do something like this!

     I then copied and pasted the Lilly Pulitzer background image into the Word document, and resized it to fit the whole page. Then I went under "Insert" and found a shape that I wanted, and placed that over the picture. Lastly, I added a text box over the shape. The text box had a default white color around it, but I was easily able to deselect having any color around the box, so that the text was transparent over the shape. Lastly, I selected a font and typed what I wanted it to say, which was "Broadcasting School," and an encouraging bible verse! 


    I have previously owned an HP printer (which I absolutely LOVE), and it was very easy to link my new laptop to the printer using HP's ePrint service. 

     I am just loving how this binder cover came out! It is so much cuter than the plain binder that I was taking with me to school before. 

     You can find my HP Notebook and a wide selection of other laptop models at your local Walmart! 

    Are you currently in the market for a new computer for back-to-school (or for work if you're beyond your school years)? 

     xoxo Miss ALK