July 31, 2014

Get college ready: a cheaper textbook buying alternative!

     This post is sponsored by CampusBookRentals.com. All thoughts and opinions are my own!


     I can't believe that I will be heading back to both Charlotte and my college in just three weeks! This is the first year that I will not be new to a school- during my freshman year obviously I was a new student, and last year I transfered colleges so I had to go through new student orientation again. It is a wonderful (and slightly weird) feeling to finally be a junior in college and feel like I know what to expect!

     But with the countdown to school coming quicker every day, this also means that soon my bank account will take a significant drop thanks to a college student's least favorite thing: textbooks. Textbooks mean the arrival of homework and tests, and are also just so gosh darn expensive! Buying them through the college bookstore is the absolute most costly and worst on your budget, so I try to find my books elsewhere, but as everyone knows, sometimes the internet can be a bit overwhelming and hard to navigate. There are tons and tons of college book rental or discount book sites, but not all of them are legitimate or have the greatest selection.




     Well, look no further then CampusBookRentals.com for all of your college textbook needs! There are so many perks to choosing to get your textbooks through CampusBookRentals.com that I decided it would be easier to list everything through bulleted points: ;-)


  • By renting a book through CampusBookRentals.com instead of buying it through your campus bookstore, you can save between 40-90% off depending on the textbook! And the best part is you don't have to worry about selling it back at the end of the semester and not making your money's worth since it is just a rental... it will be off your hands as soon as your rental period is done!
  • Speaking of rental periods- CampusBookRentals.com is very flexible with this as compared to other book renting sites! For all books they have several options as to when you can return the book, and the rental period is priced according to how long you will have it for.
  • You are allowed to highlight as much or as little as you want in your rental textbooks without any additional charges!! 
  • There is free shipping both when you purchase the textbooks and when you return them- CampusBookRentals.com covers that shipping as well! 
  • And possibly my favorite part about choosing to rent with CampusBookRentals.com is that they make a donation to charitable organization Operation Smile with every textbook purchase! Operation Smile is a charity that provides cleft and lip surgeries to needy children in low income countries. Children born with cleft lip problems can have troulbe with eating, breating, and other normal tasks, not to mention being rejected because of their physical condition. Operation Smile is able to provide children in need with surgeries to fix their cleft problems that they wouldn't normally be able to afford, and every purchase through CampusBookRentals.com helps to fund that noble cause!

     I would also like to make mention of how CampusBookRentals.com just launched a brand-new book renting program called RentBack, which allows students to rent textbooks that they already own to other students (allowing you to make lots of $$$!). Click here to watch a short video explaining more about the RentBack program!


     Fellow or former college students: do you choose to rent your textbooks or do you prefer to buy? The only textbooks of mine that I prefer to purchase are my French books (I am a French minor). French is a skill that I would like to probably keep refreshing after I graduate, and my textbooks will be a good way for me to do that! But with the exception of those, renting my books has saved me lots of money and effort, and is what I will continue to do for the books in my major, my other minor (sociology), and my last couple Gen Ed courses!


     xoxo Miss ALK



July 30, 2014

My thoughts on this season's Bachelorette finale.



     I have been a long-time fan of the Bachelor and the Bachelorette, and have been a fan since Brad Womack's second go-around as the Bachelor. It is the only reality television show that I keep up with. However, I want to say upfront that I don't exactly take the show seriously... I am a huge fan of Bachelorette spoiler blogger Reality Steve and since Ben's season I have been reading the spoilers ahead of time. Reality Steve's insider commentary on the show is absolutely hilarious and he points out so many of the ways in which this show is not "real" at all. But at the same time, I am still a girl with a romantic side who enjoys seeing the dates and travel destinations each season, and the fashion blogger in me loves seeing the girls' outfits or the Bachelorette's outfits, depending on what the season is! I do always route for the couple that gets together at the end to stay together as well. I was thrilled when both Ashley and JP and Sean and Catherine got married and loved watching both of their weddings on TV. Random Bachelorette fun fact: former Bachelorette Emily Maynard attends the same church that I do in Charlotte! She also met her husband there (they didn't meet on the show), and they actually spoke during a sermon this past February. :-)


    I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the finale of this past season with Andi as the Bachelorette. (As per usual, I read Reality Steve's spoilers that were posted a few months ago, and they were pretty much 100% accurate for every episode! I enjoy reading the spoilers because I feel that it actually makes me watch the show more closely and helps me to analyze certain contestants more then others earlier in the show.) But anyways, the point of this blog post isn't to talk about my love of Bachelor(ette) spoilers, I wanted to talk about my thoughts surrounding Nick, one of Andi's final two guys, and his very dramatic exit from the show.

    There have been a lot of heartbroken final two contestants in the seasons of the Bachelor and Bachelorette that I have watched, but I don't think that I have ever seen anyone as heartbroken on the show as Nick. To say that he was devastated that Andi didn't choose him would be the understatement of the century. Since the Bachelorette wraps up filming about three-ish months before the finale, usually  runner-up that appears at After The Final Rose and confronts their lead has at least come to terms with everything by that point, and oftentimes they report that they are already in a new relationship. Well, not the case for Nick.

      The After The Final Rose (ATFR) special showed footage of how Nick tried repeatedly to contact Andi after the Bachelorette filming ended, but she kept refusing to talk to him until ATFR. At the actual show last night their conversation exploded very quickly, and lead to Andi saying quite bluntly that she never loved him, in which he responded with a tough question: why did she sleep with him on their Fantasy Suite date if indeed she never actually loved him?


     Their was a lot of social media response to this remark from Nick, and many people thought that he was way out of bounds for saying that on national live TV, especially when the show mentioned he had tried to contact her prior to through both a letter format and in-person. But I on the other hand, say props to Nick for bringing that up! And here is why:

     Yes, it's true that many of the lead Bachelors and Bachelorettes do sleep with many of their contestants during the Fantasy Suite dates, not just the person that they intend to stay with after the show is done. Former contestant and Ben's season Bachelor winner Courtney Robertson even addressed this in her recent autobiography I Didn't Come Here to Make Friends (a really fun read for fans of the show by the way!). Morally I do not approve of that at all, but that's another rant altogether. Irregardless of my own Christian beliefs on premarital sex however, there have been Bachelors and Bachelorettes who have either had the same views as me or who have chosen to abstain from sleeping with their contestants in the Fantasy Suites for other reasons. Bachelorette Emily wanted to set a good example for her daugheter since she was a mom when she did the show, and she is now happily married to a Christian guy that she didn't meet on the show. Bachelor Sean was a Christian and born-again virgin who said from the start that he wouldn't use the Fantasy Suites for those purposes, and he is now happily married to Catherine, who he proposed to at the end of his season! While I'm sure that the culture of being on a show like the Bachelor(ette) can put pressure on the lead into using the Fantasy Suites for sexual reasons, past examples like this show that they don't always have to be about that (and good things can come from avoiding that!).

     I don't believe that either Nick or Andi are Christian so I wouldn't expect them to have Christian views on premarital sex. But I do believe that it is a valid thing for someone, Christian or non-Christian, to only want to sleep with someone who loves them. Clearly that is what Nick wanted. He seemed to understand that Andi couldn't say "I Love You" until the proposal time, so he had to sense her "I Love You" through her body language, actions and other words. And I will say that right up until when she ended things with him, Andi did seem pretty into him!! I don't fault him for misinterpreting that.

      Another reason that I say props to Nick for what he did in ATFR is because Andi had three opportunities to use her Fantasy Suites, and she only used two. She decided to send Chris, the fan-favorite farmer from Iowa, home before giving him the key to the suite because she wanted to be honest with him about how she didn't have the same feelings for him as he did for her. I applauded her for doing that, and I thought they had a very tasteful break-up as far as the show was concerned. Now why couldn't she have treated Nick with the same decency if she claimed in ATFR that she "knew she didn't love him"?

     I also want to say quickly that I wasn't a big Nick fan through the whole season!! If you're reading this post then you probably think that I was rooting for him the whole time. Being someone that reads spoilers I knew that she would end up with Josh all along, and I actually was a huge fan of Josh at the beginning! In the early weeks I thought he and Andi were absolutely adorable together, and I couldn't wait to see where things lead. Nick wasn't a favorite of mine for most of the show- but I will say I gained a lot of respect for him in Fantasy Suite date week and of course in the finale. The whole situation really struck a chord with me so much that I wanted to blog about it! (But his fashion choices during the whole season were still very, very questionable.)


     I also felt a personal connection to this situation a little bit because during my freshman year of college I almost dated a guy who reminded me a lot of Nick. When I told him that I didn't actually have feelings for him and thought we would be better either as friends or just to move on from each other, he did not react well and reacted kind of similarly to Nick on the show!! (Just to clear things up: the furthest physically that my thing ever got was me kissing him on the cheek so slightly different. ;-) ) We eventually met in person several months later before I transfered colleges to talk about what had happened in the fall when I "dumped" him, and the closure was good. I actually blogged about it last summer but looking back on the post it is WAY too wordy and kind of embarrassing so I don't think I am going to share the link. ;-)


     Anyways, I am happy for Andi and Josh! It is something else how they both lived in the same city and didn't meet until doing the show and travelling around the world together. I can't wait to see who the next Bachelor is- stay tuned to Reality Steve because he will most likely spoil it before it is released!


     xoxo Miss ALK

July 28, 2014

OOTD: Blue n' Bows.








Top: Delia's || Sweater: J. Crew Factory || Shorts: J. Crew Factory || Belt: Talbots || Sunglasses: Loft || Bow: c/o Fabric Bows For Days || Earrings: old || Bracelets: Charming Charlie, {local boutique}, Lilly Pulitzer, || Ring: Lia Sophia || Wallet: Kate Spade || Lips: Maybelline Baby Lips Dr. Rescue in Pink Me Up 


     Today's outfit post features a lot of my favorite color, and bold pops of my second favorite color! :-) I have been loving J. Crew Factory this summer, and that is where my shorts and cardigan are from. (In the pictures they almost look the same color, but the shorts are actually a little bit of a lighter blue, but they coordinate nicely together!) My shirt is one of my best bargain finds ever. A former Delia's location in a Charlotte mall was going out of business this past spring, so I decided to check out their closing sale. I found this collared shirt (with fun pops of neon pink) for only $3.50! This is the type of shirt that I probably would have paid full price for since there are endless ways to style it, so getting it for $3.50 was amazing! Below is a picture of another way that I styled it earlier in the summer. I wore it when some of my old high school friends went out to dinner at one of our favorite local Mexican restaurants. I decided to wear it with boyfriend jeans, wedges and a loose cardigan. Not pictured is a  statement necklace and false lashes to add a little extra glam.




     Anyways, back to today's post!! I am wearing a gorgeous Lilly Pulitzer hair bow that was sent to me by Katy who runs an Etsy shop called Fabric Bows For Days. In addition to making beautiful hair accessories she also sells key fobs, monogrammed frocket t-shirts and more! The Lilly bow that she sent me was in one of this year's summer prints, Jellies Be Jammin'. She also sent me a fun seersucker bow, and an adorable key fob! I love how easily the clasps on her bows open up, and that they didn't catch in my (thick and sometimes unruly) hair at all! Thank-you Katy for sending me such a lovely package from your shop! I would highly recommend Fabric Bows For Days, and luckily for all of you Katy has sent me a discount code to share with Southern Belle in Training readers! Use code MISSALK for 10% off on any order at Fabric Bows For Days!



     One last note about where today's OOTD pictures were taken... they were actually taken in a Park n' Ride off of a highway exit a few towns over from where I live (in the town that my dad works in!). I met him there a couple nights ago after he got out of work so that he could drive me to Qdoba for dinner and then to Target and a couple other places for some back-to-school errands, and when he pulled in to pick me up I realized how amazing the natural lighting was in the Park n' Ride! I had my camera with me in my bag so I took advatage of the situation and got blog pictures in! But the actual location wasn't the most glamorous... there was litter everywhere, signs telling people not to litter, and a terrible smell like someone had gone to the bathroom in the field behind the cars. I posted this picture on my Instagram to show everyone what a crazy blogger I am to chase the natural light irregardless of the whole picture scenery! ;-) 




     xoxo Miss ALK

July 25, 2014

How to be a Fashion Blogger on a College Student Budget.



Huge thank-you to my blogging bestie Gina from Gina Alyse for designing this adorable blog graphic for this post! Head over to her blog to tell her she did an amazing job! :-)


      This is a blog post that I have been wanting to write literally all summer, but am finally getting around to doing so! The post has been slowly forming in my head in the meantime. ;-) As many of you may have noticed, in the past six or so months my blog has made definite shift from being a Christian college lifestyle blog to a fashion blog, and this a shift that I'm very happy about, and was a long time coming! I still love to do lifestyle and faith posts a couple times a month, but I've really been enjoying diving more into fashion blogging.

 
     But it is no surprise that fashion blogging is a hobby that can very quickly add up to cost a lot of money. Between the clothes, shoes, accessories, a quality camera... the list goes on! When fashion bloggers portray their wardrobes on social media it can often seem as though they are very entitled and perhaps have an unlimited budget towards their fashion expenses. But I am here to tell you today that while that may be the case for a few select bloggers, that certainly is not the case at all for me, and I think that a lot of other fashion bloggers would agree with me! I am a college student who is on a strict budget, and while I do like to treat myself at times, I stick to that budget. I have still been able to build what I think is a pretty decent wardrobe for an incoming junior in college while sticking to my monetary limits, and I would like to share with all of you how I did that in a list of smart steps! These steps are written especially with college students in mind, but I think that anyone on a budget could take something from them.

    I will quickly say before I start the post that I have an almost full-time summer job, and this is my fourth summer of having one! I also babysit during the school year when I am in Charlotte for extra income. I try and save the majority of the money that I earn, and in the past year I have begun to tithe as well (perhaps I should write another post on that?).

    I start out with four rules regarding money, and then four tips for shopping and bargain hunting skills!


Photo credit to Meredith Sledge in March 2014- she made me feel like I was in a fashion magazine shoot here! :-)

     MONEY RULES


     1. (Especially for college students) Avoid credit cards! When I turned 18, I thought it would be fun to open up a credit card or two at some of my favorite stores, so I could get a bunch of rewards points and extra benefits and such. But my parents told me absolutely not. They said that credit is a huge responsibility, and the promise of "buy it now, pay for it later" can cause a lot of trouble, especially for someone who is still young. So I didn't open any of those, and goodness I am glad that I didn't! I have a debit card, and I also use lots of cash to pay for things. Some people say that it is good to start building up good credit for yourself while you are still in school. I don't think that building credit while you're in college is a bad thing, but I think that students should be upperclassmen before taking on the responsability of a credit card, and I think that it's best to use it for payments that occur every month at the same time (such as a Netflix account or cell phone bill), instead of random expenses that can add up or get you into trouble. For me personally, I will probably choose to get a real credit card (not the store type, I mean like a Mastercard or Visa) once I am graduated form college and have a steady big-girl job- for now I am fine with using cash or debit. Maybe during senior year, but I'll probably wait until I'm done! I personally feel that if there's a purchase I'm making that is too big to pay with on my debit card, then it is too big for me to be making it! (Fashion related or not!)
    
     2. Always have 1,000 in your bank account for emergencies. I have always believed this to be true, and it was reaffirmed for me after I read it on my blog friend Bailey's blog Becoming Bailey earlier this year. Bailey wrote that she learned how financial guru Dave Ramsey recommends to always keep 1,000 in your bank account in case of emergencies. This money is not supposed to be touched for frivolous expenses. I learned this past semester how important it is to have that extra money saved up after I had my first driving ticket (NOT for speeding- just to clear that up ;-) proud to say I've never had a speeding ticket!!), additional sorority expenses which I wasn't expecting, and some housing fees at my college. All of these things hit me during the month of April, and it was helpful to have money saved up! This summer during my job I quickly worked on building that money back up into my savings, plus much more- including money to spend on fashion and fun stuff! (If you are older then a college student and an adult with a real-world job that I would probably suggest having more on hand then just 1,000, but I think this number is a great range for a college student.)

     3. Sometimes it's best not to set a specific clothing budget. At the start of my last school year I tried to set aside a specific amount of shopping money each month so that I would stick to a firm budget. I found however that budgeting made me way more stressed out about money then I already was! Also when I had money specifically set aside each month for spending on my wardrobe it made me feel like I had to spend it, which also isn't good! You should never shop when you don't see something that you absolutely love and/or feel that you would use a lot. Instead of setting a clothing budget, I just keep really close tabs on my money. I am constantly using online banking to monitor my account, and I usually do this before everytime that I go shopping. (And not just for fashion stuff-  shopping for anything!)

     4. Know what payment method causes you to spend the least amount of money. For most people, it's cash. For me, it's actually my debit card. If I have cash in my wallet and I'm at the mall then I'm always feeling like I have to get rid of all of it!! If I'm using my debit card then I'm a lot more frugal about how many times I'll have it swiped, so I prefer to shop on debit. But if you know that you're a problem shopper with cards then make use of the ATM! Know your shopping habits!

     
     SHOPPING TIPS


     1. Always stop by the "trendy discount" stores at your mall. When in your local mall, my advice is to always stop by what I like to call the "trendy discount" stores! These would be Charlotte Russe, Body Central, Wet Seal and my personal favorite store and holy grail of good deals, Forever 21. These stores definitely aren't perfect, some of their merchandise isn't of the best quality and can be overpriced. But you can also find the BEST stuff for such cheap prices, oftentimes things that look just like items found in department stores but for a fraction of the prices! My faux-leather jacket is from Wet Seal and it was found on a clearance rack for under $10, my favorite romper is from a Body Central clearance rack and was bought for $5, and I can't even begin to tell you how many amazing things I've bought at Forever 21: everything from jeans to dresses to jewelry to hair accessories to pajamas to dressy tops to winter coats! These stores are always worth a look- even if you strike out once you might strike gold the next time you're in the mall!

     2. Raid clearance racks at department stores. This is where the good deals truly are found. Department stores like Macy's, Dillard's and Kohl's are notorious for marking up their full-priced merchandise quite high, but amazing deals are often found by those who take the time to really dig through the clearance racks! My best department store find was an adorable black dress that was originally $60 that I found on a Belk sale rack for $7.50 last year. Score!! (I still haven't featured it on my blog yet- that needs to change!) 

     3. If you love a designer, research how to get it cheaply. It's no secret that I love all things Lilly Pulitzer, and it's also no secret that Lilly Pulitzer items are not cheap! Want to know what else I'm not keeping a secret? I have never paid full price for a Lilly item (minus my agendas ;-) )!! I have put the time and efford into finding how to get Lilly items at lower prices. For example, I know that in SouthPark Mall in Charlotte that the Belk department store marks down their older Lilly merchandise more then the official Lilly Pulitzer store located in the same mall! I also know that Rue La La and 6 pm.com are great websites to find older and discounted Lilly items on sale, and that the Lilly signature in my hometown frequently marks stuff down at higher rates as well. My knowledge of where to find Lilly at lower prices has literally paid off and has allowed me to start building a little Lilly collection! Another example for me would be the fact that I usually shop at J. Crew Factory over J. Crew!

     4. It's okay to splurge on a big item once in awhile. Such was the case with my recent #NSale purchase of what was literally my dream pair of shoes (Tory Bur riding boots!), and also the Kate Spade wallet that I purchased this winter. I firmly believe that if you have the money up front (again, my no credit rule comes into play!), and have thought about and wanted said item for a very long time, and know that you will truly use it (the wallet matched all of my purses and the boots match literally every fall item in my closet) then go for it!! You deserve it after sticking to your budget! ;-) 


     I almost forgot to add too that a perk of being a fashion blogger is that I also sometimes get free stuff to review from the fabulous companies that I work with here on my blog!! So that is a another way to supplement my closet... but I suppose that could be another post altogether. :-)


      Now that I have shared my tips for being a fashion blogger on a budget, what are your thoughts? If you are also into fashion or fashion blogging, do you have any thoughts to share? Or even just thoughts on budgeting in college. 



     xoxo Miss ALK


     

July 24, 2014

July via Instagram.

     It's been at least a few weeks since I've done an Instagram update, so I figured it's time for another one! As per usual I have been Instagramming like crazy, so here are my favorite snapshots from the past few weeks!




     A very preppy outfit that I wore to work a couple weeks ago!! I love this monogram tumbler- I actually got it from my college, during the first week of school last year at an event in the cafeteria the school brought in a company that set up make-your-own monogram tumbler booths! This is mine, I use it all the time! (Skort: Lilly Pulitzer || Bracelets: Charming Charlie, Lilly Pulitzer || Shoes: Jack Rogers || Nail Polish: Orly || )




     My uncle and aunt from Long Island, NY (my dad's older brother and his wife) were in Maine a couple weeks ago, and one night we all went to dinner at a restaurant in the town next to mine that has gorgeous waterfront views. This was a quick #nofilter picture that I snapped for Instagram!





     Last week it was my fabulous blog photograher Shara's 20th birthday!! We celebrated by spending the day in New Hampshire. I think my favorite part of the day was the amazing pasta that we had for lunch at a great Italian restaurant that had just been remodeled! (My dress: Delia's)




     The day after Shara's birthday was my first double shift at my job! 13 hours of retail... whoo hoo! My sweet friend Katie (who blogs at Inkspot!) stopped by to surprise me with lavender iced tea and a macaroon from a local French bakery near the store that I work at- it was such a nice treat to help get me through my long day! I'm so thankful for sweet friends like that! :-)




     Most of Maine's beaches are very natural looking and scenic, and quite the opposite of most tourist-friendly beaches in other states. With the exception of Maine's famous Old Orchard Beach, or "OOB." It has a very lively pier, amusement park right on the ocean and of course tons and tons of slightly sketchy ocean front motels. I like to call it Maine's version of Myrtle Beach!! It is fun to head up to OOB once or twice a summer to get a different type of beach experience. My friend Tim and I had the best day at OOB last weekend! We ate tons of fried pier food, sat in our beach chairs all afternoon, and I even went for a little swim- all in all a perfect beach day! (And I got my selfie as seen here with the big ferris wheel. ;-) ) (Hat: Target || Bathing suit top: Target || Sunglasses: Loft || Earrings: Claire's )




     My beautiful early birthday present to myself from the #NSale arrived on Tuesday!!! My gorgeous Tory Burch Eloise boots fit perfectly, but I'm keeping them wrapped up in the box until this fall so they stay nice and protected. Honestly though- how beautiful is the box that they came in?! I think I'm almost as excited about that as I was what was in it haha!! I will definitely be saving the box as well. :-)


     Be sure to follow me on Instagram @miss_alk to keep up with my photo updates!


     Stay tuned tomorrow for my much awaited "How to be a Fashion Blogger on a College Student Budget" post!


     xoxo Miss ALK

July 21, 2014

OOTD: A very Vera color combo.








Top: Lands' End || Jeans: Delia's || Belt: Talbots || Shoes: Jack Rogers || Necklace: c/o Pink Bubbly Shop || Bracelets: c/o Jet Chic Arm Candy || Ring (Right hand): c/o A-List Greek Designs || Lips: Maybelline Baby Lips Dr. Rescue in Pink Me Up || Bible Cover: Vera Bradley (Print is Indigo Pop)


     With summer flying by the way that it is, I need to take every advantage that I can to still wear summer color combos, like this fun mix of neon yellow and aqua! I have never been a neon yellow fan until recently. Wearing that color honestly always made me feel like a tennis ball (although tennis is my favorite sport to play so maybe that isn't a bad thing?), but after I got this fun neon yellow bathing suit top my opinions have changed! The shirt that I'm wearing was purchased for me by my mom from the Lands' End end-of-summer sale, along with a cute lilac cardigan for school. Y'all know that I practically live in my cardigans so you will probably be seeing that on the blog soon! 

     I realized after taking these pictures that all of the jewelry shown is all things that I've received for free to review from various companies over the past year because of my blog! How cool is that?! Blogging has some serious perks. :-) I wear these bracelets from Jet Chic Arm Candy and my A-List Greek Designs "Love" ring all the time, and this necklace from Pink Bubbly is one of my favorite statement pieces- I just love the pretty colors! 

     This outfit is what I wore to church yesterday (Sunday), so I decided to include my bible case into the OOTD pictures. Since my bible is the most important book that I own it needs a fabulous case! I use the Vera Bradley "Good Book Cover." The one that I have is in a print from 2012 called Indigo Pop which is now retired. Sadly according to the Vera website the Good Book Cover style has been retired altogether from new prints, but they still have it available online in a couple older prints! I used to be Vera Bradley obsessed a couple years ago (see this old post!). I am not quite as into it anymore but I still love using the Vera things that I own, and I still would like to get a Vera Bradley duffle bag at some point.

     And my Jack Rogers are from a Vera Bradley fabric as well- Java Blue, which is my all-time favorite Vera print!  I got this pair of Jacks when Neiman Marcus's discount website, Last Call, did a big Jack Rogers promotion a couple months ago. I was able to find my exact pair online still so I linked them below- it looks like the Last Call website still has them in stock!




     xoxo Miss ALK

     

     

July 19, 2014

The 2014 Nordstrom #NSale, and how I got the boots of my dreams.

     So if you follow any fashion bloggers at all, then you would have to be living under a rock to not know that this week the annual Nordstrom #NSale began!! It officially began last week to Nordstrom credit card holders only, and opened to the public yesterday, July 18th, at midnight pacific time (3 am EST). The #NSale is a great time of year to stock up on goodies by lusted over designers, as many sought-after items are majorly marked down for a limited time!


    Here are my four most favorite picks from this year's sale. They are linked directly to the Nordstorm website, so be sure to click on them so see if they're still available!!



     So one of these things I ended up purchasing. If you read the title of this blog post then you can probably guess which item. ;-) Yes, I am the proud owner of those beautiful Tory Burch riding boots!!! It is my first Tory Burch purchase and I am so excited. These have been my dream pair of shoes to own since I was in high school. At full price Tory Burch riding boots cost $495, which is crazy and wayyyy out of my budget!! I never thought that I would ever be able to afford a pair, much less while I was in college. But still they were my dream boots, and I drooled over pictures of them on Pinterest and Instagram. I literally live in riding boots in the fall and early spring, and North Carolina especially has the perfect climate for riding boots since the state rarely gets snow. Once this year's Nordstrom sale was announced and I saw that the boots of my dreams were marked down about $200 less then the normal price I literally freaked out!! This could become a reality!

     I asked my parents if they would help contribute to the Tory fund for my birthday present this year... but they declined. My parents are very generous, but one thing they don't always get is my love of designer names. They said that they agreed that I needed a new good pair of riding boots for this season, and they would love to help me find a pair, but they weren't going to pay Tory Burch prices, even with the Nordstrom sale discount, which I understood. They did have a point. (And what I did end up picking out for my birthday gift from them is even more awesome!! The story behind that will come on my birthday! Hint: it's Lilly!)

     So I began to abandon my dream of getting my Tory boots once again, even with the #NSale discount. Plus I had heard that the boots had sold out before the sale even opened to the public. But then I found out that they were going to be restocked when the sale went public... in a slightly different style... that I liked even more.... and I knew that I would never forgive myself if I didn't get them. YES, this was a huge purchase, and yes it was probably out of my budget. But I was blessed to get a raise at work this past week, and I also have been getting more hours lately. I also went through my fall and winter clothes and realized that these boots will match literally everything that I own, so I know that I will get my money's worth and more!! So I officially made the decision to try and order them a little before midnight on July 17th, since the sale was going public on July 18th.

     But what I didn't know is that the sale went public at midnight PST, so I had to stay up until 3 am to wait for my boots! I was so tired!! It had been such a long week at work, and I had an opening shift at the store that day, and that night was my mom's birthday dinner, so I was beyond exhausted. I kept myself up by watching the peppiest make-up tutorial Youtube videos that I could find. And it worked! Although after the sale opened AND I had the boots in my shopping cart I had another wave of doubt... but half an hour later I still went through and got them. And have no regrets. ;-)


     I am planning to write a blog post soon called How To Be A Fashion Blogger On  College Student Budget, and I think that this boot buying experience definitely ties in. I want to stress that I do NOT usually splurge on things that are $300... in fact I don't think I think that's the most money I've ever spent on something that's not my school books! I don't think there is anything wrong with treating yourself to something big once in awhile... provided that you know you will get tons of use out of it and have really considered it (and can afford it). These boots will go with so much that I already own, I can afford them without opening a credit card (altthough I will be on a strict budget for while haha!), and I have loved and lusted over them for at least a few years so I know that I will really treasure them. That's how I know this was a smart purchase!


     One last note about the #NSale, my blogging friend Ashliegh from The Darling Daily blogged about it and said that if you sign up for this cool website called Ebates you can actually get some cash back for shopping at Nordstrom during the sale! I wish I had known that before I made my big purchase! Read her #NSale post here!


     xoxo Miss ALK

   

July 18, 2014

Book Review: Never Go Back

     My friends over at Icon Media recently sent me another book to review! (You can read the past book reviews that I've done for them here and here.) This book is a brand new title from author Henry Cloud, entitled Never Go Back.



     The book's description states boldy that change is in your reach and then goes on to say: How many times have we tried to make a change and failed? And then, when we become aware of something new that we need to change, we fall back on past patterns. But Dr. Cloud has had years of experience in helping people make life changes that bring concrete sucess. I felt as though this was a very accurate book description, and that Dr. Cloud's writings in Never Go Back seriously make the reader feel as though they have their own personal life coach guiding speaking to them through the book! Dr. Cloud is a very clear and straightforward writer which I liked- his many points are easy to understand and can be easily interpreted into your own life.

     My interpretation of what this book was about is that its main focus was on a list of 10 practical rules of things to stop doing in your life, and if you were to follow these rules then you could make life much easier for yourself. Each rule has a whole chapter of the book dedicated to it, and Dr. Cloud backs up each rule with Biblical scriptures (He is a Christian, but I think non-Christians could also enjoy this book). The things that Dr. Cloud says you should stop doing are:

  1. Return to what hasn't worked
  2. Do anything that requires you to be someone else
  3. Try to change another person
  4. Believe that you can please everyone
  5. Choose short-term comfort over long-term benefit
  6. Trust someone or something flawless
  7. Take your eyes off the big picture
  8. Neglect to do due diligence 
  9. Fail to ask why you are where you are
  10. Forget that your inner life produces your outer success

     Now, you may think that I have just spoiled the book for you since I have just listed out the 10 rules. But that couldn't be further from the truth! ;-) The commentary, real life examples, and scripture tie-ins that Dr. Cloud makes in each chapter are so important to really understanding each rule. I think that the book could be most useful to anyone in the workforce, but many of the principals in it I also found that I could be able to apply to my "career" as a college student, so I think that it could be of a huge benefit for students to read this book as well!


     I have really enjoyed Never Go Back by Dr. Henry Cloud. Thank-you again to Icon Media for sending it to me! 


     On a personal note- this week has been absolutely insane for me! I had my first double shift of the summer (and hopefully only double shift!) as well as several regular shifts at work, plus I had errands to do in the city on both of my afternoons off this week. So I have been going, going, going! But I have tomorrow (Saturday) off from work- the whole day, which is rare! :-) Since going back to work in mid-May I have only had one other Saturday off! I am planning to enjoy my day at the beach!


      xoxo Miss ALK

July 15, 2014

OOTD: Bright Orange Bow.

     This past weekend my aunt and uncle from Long Island, NY were visiting Maine! It was a wonderful opportunity to "play tourists" for the weekend, and one of the things that we did with them was go on a beautiful walk in a neighboring coastal town that overlooked the ocean, rocks and many beach homes. I knew this would be the perfect setting for blog pictures!









Dress: {Bought in a little boutique on my trip to England last winter!} || Shoes: Clarks
|| Jacket: Forever 21 ||
Sunglasses: Charming Charlie || Bow: Glitter (NC accessories store) || Bracelet: {local boutique} || Ring: {made by yours truly!} 




     This fun little sundress was one of my favorite souvenirs on my trip to England from last December! I also got the beautiful dress that I wore for Easter this past Spring (and a fun cocktail dress that I haven't worn yet!). I've been wearing this dress a lot for my summer job, as it's modest and work appropriate, yet still fun with it's adorable collar, bright color combo and pretty pattern! I also got a really good deal on it when I bought it- it was only 10 euros! I think that translates to approx. $15... not bad at all in my opinion! 

     So my mom got me these Clarks sandals a few weeks ago to add to my very small collection of work shoes. Since my summer job is in retail, I am on my feet for very long periods of time, so my normal summer shoes like Jack Rogers, wedges or other fun sandals hurt my feet too much. At first I planned for these sandals to only be work shoes, but they're growing on me a lot! They are SO comforable- like walking on air! I wore them outside of work when these pictures were taken for hanging out with my family, and I also wore them the day after for a fun day trip that I went on with my friend Shara. I would definitely recommend Clarks if you need some really supportive shoes or if you work in retail like I do! Their shoes might not be the most fashionable, but they aren't as ugly as I thought. ;-) They have grown on me a lot in the cuteness factor!! (I have another pair of Clarks for work as well but those are very old and beaten up and will NOT be making any appearances on the blog lol.)


     For this OOTD post I am linking up to the weekly Trend Spin Link-up that is hosted by the bloggers behind Walking In Memphis in High Heels and The Fashion Canvas! I have been getting e-mailed about these fun trend link-ups for weeks, and this is the first time that I have finally been able to get a post up in time to participate. This week's theme was "bows," and bows are one of my favorite hair accessories (or just favorite accessories in general!), so this was a great first week for me to join in! 




     Today is my first ever double shift at my job! I will be there for a whopping 13 hours!! I am thankful that I was able to get the past two days off so that I could enjoy some fun and R&R before the big shift. :-)




     xoxo Miss ALK

July 14, 2014

OOTD: Minty Maxi {Collab with The Mint Julep Boutique}

     Are you ready to see the pictures from what is possibly my favorite OOTD post ever? My sweet friend Shara took what are possibly the most amazing blog pictures that I have ever seen... I don't know how I'll ever top these. ;-) I've been sharing sneak peaks on my Instagram all weekend long, so I have been dying to finally share the whole blog post!












  All pictures credit to Shara Lynn Photography 


Dress: c/o The Mint Julep Boutique || Shoes: Target || Sunglasses: Charming Charlie || Earrings: Forever 21 || Bracelets: c/o Jet Chic Arm Candy || Rings: c/o A-List Greek Designs, bought on vacation :-) || Nails: Orly Nail Laquer in Gumdrop || Lips: Nyx Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Sponge Cake (OBSESSED with this!) 


     So this amazing maxi dress that I received to review from The Mint Julep Boutique is officially one of the best things that I have ever gotten from blogging!! I have been a long-time fan of The Mint- they seriously have the cutest clothes and accessories in their boutique. So when I was contacted about doing a collaboration post on my blog with them I literally squealed with excitement (I actually did when I first got an e-mail from them!). This dress is amazing. If the beautiful pictures that Shara took don't convince you enough... then I will tell you that it is super comforable to wear, and I love how it can be dressed up or down! I wore this dress two nights before these pictures were taken when my high school bestie Jules and I went to see the play Aresenic and Old Lace. That is our favorite old movie (it is a movie from the 1940s starring Cary Grant), and when I found out that it was playing at a nearby theatre I knew that we had to see it!! I wore my hair the same way for the theatre and added a jean jacket since I knew it might be air conditioned. 



     Anyways, back to the post at hand! ;-) I also think this dress would be the perfect thing to wear for a summer or late-spring wedding. Sadly I wasn't invited to any weddings this year, but if I get the chance to go to any next year then this might very well be what I'm wearing!! 


     Here's one last fun picture from my photoshoot for my Mint Julep Boutique dress... y'all know that I love my jumping pictures! 



     And speaking of jumping pictures, it is my fabulous photographer (and sweet friend!) Shara's birthday today! She is turning the big 2-0, which I will be hitting in just a couple months. Happy Birthday Shara! I am spending the day with her in New Hampshire and so excited to be doing so! And here is a throwback picture to when she visited me in NC in March and we went hiking in Western NC... and of course had to do a jumping picture (in which I ended up looking like Cousin It from the Addams Family- but hey the Birthday Girl looks great! ;-) ). 




    So sorry to keep bouncing around so much in this post!! There are just so many things in this post that make me happy, and I guess that's why I keep getting sidetracked. Anyways, back to one of those happiness factors: The Mint Julep Boutique. :-) Again: I LOVE the dress they sent me, and I know that is certainly not the last time I will be getting something from them!! If you visit their website by clicking here and sign up for their e-mail list, you can get a $10 off coupon sent to you! How awesome is that?! And be sure to check them out on social media: 

     Instagram: @shopthemint
     Twitter: @themintjulepbtq
     Pinterest: The Mint Julep Boutique
     Facebook: The Mint Julep Boutique
     Wanelo: The Mint Julep Boutique


     Happy Shopping!


     xoxo Miss ALK

July 12, 2014

Book Review: Embracing the Love God Wants You to Have

   



     Last month I was gifted a copy of the new book Embracing the Love God Wants You to Have by Taffi Dollar from publisher Harper Collins! I hadn't read anything by this author before, but I love Christian inspirational books, so I was excited to see what this book was like. 

      Embracing the Love God Wants You to Have is a devotional, but the reading sections in it are longer then some popular devotionals (such as Jesus Calling). The way the book is formatted is that after several reading sections there will be a journaling space with some writing prompts based off of the past few reading sections, and there are also a few goals and challenges to implement in your own life based on what you have read, as well as suggested prayers. I have read other devotional books set up in this format before, but what I liked best about this book is that in the introduction Dollar writes to specifically not rush through the book. "The important thing to remember as you read and work your way through this book is that we cannot put love on a timetable. God loves us." she writes. I love that! 


     In this book, Dollar explores the many components of what love means in a Christian sense. Each reading section begins with a bible verse, and then Dollar's writings in that section elaborate her thoughts and interpretions on the verse. She also uses lots of real life applications and examples. Some topics from the first section of the book include "God's Love in Unconditional," "God's Love Casts Out Fear," and "God Meets Us Where We Are." I have found each of the sections so far to be very relevant to my life, and all of the readings to be very encouraging! Dollar's writing style is very warm- it almost feels as though she is talking to me and sitting right across from me in a coffee shop instead of me reading her book! 

     Here is a passage from the introduction that really stuck out to me: "For many reasons, we've come to think that love is 'out there somewhere.' We've come to believe that love is something that we have to seek and find. We have to know what love is to experience it. In this book I will help you recognize God's love is alread present in your life." This quote really sums up the message of the book- and I think that Ms. Dollar does a fabulous job with her mission!


     I would recommend this book to anyone who is possibly undergoing a season of doubt in their faith, or just simply wants to explore the concept of God's love more in depth. Or honestly, it is a good and heartwarming read for anyone! 


     Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. -Psalms 91:14



     I hope that everyone is having a great start to their weekend! I have family from my dad's side that is visiting from New York this weekend so I will be hanging out with them when I'm not at work. :-) Be sure to stay tuned for what is possibly my favorite fashion post ever- coming to the blog on Monday! Here's a sneak peak! (Picture by my friend Shara of Shara Lynn Photography.)


      

     xoxo Miss ALK

July 11, 2014

Naked3 Palette Group Giveaway!

    I am so thrilled to be apart of a fabulous group giveaway with some other wonderful bloggers!! The giveaway was started by one of my favorite college lifestyle bloggers, Caroline of The Caro Diaries. The item up for grabs is a make-up staple that I have been lusting over for quite some time now: the Urban Decay Naked3 eyeshadow palette! And Carolina came up with the super fun idea to giveaway not only one Naked3 palette, but two! And both go to the same winner... so that means if you won then you could get to keep one palette, and you could give one to your make-up loving BFF! How fun is that?! (I am also super jealous of whoever the winner will be already!)



a Rafflecopter giveaway


    Best of luck to all of you! This giveaway will run until July 17th, 2014. (P.S. I would really appreciate it if one of your entries was to follow me on Blog Lovin'! ;-) )


     Happy Weekend! Expect a rare weekend blog post from me tomorrow!


     xoxo Miss ALK

July 10, 2014

OOTD: Beachin' It with Candyliciousss Swimwear!








Swimsuit: c/o Candyliciousss Swimwear  || Sunglasses: Deb Shops || Hat: Target 


     So I will start out by saying that I never thought that neon yellowish-green was my color... until I got my hands on this fun bathing suit from Candyliciousss Swimwear from Etsy! I love how the colors in this swimsuit really pop, and the one-shoulder aspect of it adds a fun and unexpected design twist. All in all it's a very unique and adorable swimsuit, and I'm so excited that it now has a home in my swimwear collection! 

     This bathing suit from Candyliciousss Swimwear was the first time that I had gotten a bathing suit from online in several years (possibly since elementary school from when my mom used to order them for me from catalogs!). I always thought that bathing suits were too tough of an item to size online, but this suit definitely restored my faith in ordering swimwear online! And here is the best part about Candyliciousss Swimwear: all of the bathing suits in the shop are $35 or under. That is such a bargain- in many stores you can't even get a bathing suit top for less than $35! And shop owner Jodie is offering an added 5% discount with code LIKEME, so be sure to take advantage of that! 


    I'm currently midway through another work week. I was grateful though to have an evening shift yesterday so I could spend the afternoon at the beach with my friend Katie (who blogs at Inkspot)! I haven't seen her since our fun day trip to Boston last month for #BloggersTakeBoston, so it was great to catch up, and what better place to do that then the beach?! 




     Stay tuned tomorrow for an awesome group giveaway that I'm thrilled to be apart of! You won't want to miss this! :-)


     xoxo Miss ALK