Keys to College Success – From a Straight-A Student

college, success, study, university, straight As

College is hard! Figuring out how to study and when to study is one of the biggest challenges you will face. I survived, and you can too! Whether you are an incoming freshman or struggling with senior-itus, or your goal is the perfect GPA or just better than last semester, I’m here to help! These 5 things got me through college and they can help you too!

1. Buy a planner

For some people this is a hard habit to get into. Not for me, I freaking love planners. They’re cute, they’re organizational, they make me feel like I have my crap together, even when I really don’t.
The trick to planners is set them up at the beginning and then it won’t be work to keep up with them. You’re first two days of classes you probably won’t have anything major to do, so take a break from the dorm organizing and parties and take a few minutes to write out all the assignments in your syllabi in your planner. Then in either () or a different color pen, indicate what chapters need to be read by certain dates.
JUST DO IT. Please don’t skip this step. Putting assignments in a planner allows you to visually see how much time you have until assignments and major exams arrive and allow you to prioritize your time. Without a planner you run the risk of forgetting about assignments altogether and getting a 0, having a friend remind you at the last minute about an assignment that you now have to rush on and therefore get a bad grade,  or you forget you have multiple assignments in multiple classes around the same time/date and run out of time for all of them.
Don’t get overwhelmed by all the fancy, gorgeous planners on Pinterest. I simply used a typical academic planner and wrote in the assignments in no fancy way other than to use different colors on occasion.

2. Go to class

If you are an incoming freshman, this sounds stupid. But there will come a time when you realize you don’t have to go. No one is looking over your shoulder. A nap sounds so nice. That professor is so boring. I’ll just learn the material on my own. All of these things pile on and we last minute decide to skip. I’m not going to lie, I’ve missed some classes in my day. But my attendance was always between 80-100%.

Listening to professors and taking notes is probably the easiest way to study. Having read and heard the material means you’ve now absorbed the material in two different ways making you that much more likely to recall the info on the exam. Also, some professors test off lectures rather than book materials. Missing class could mean missing future test answers, changed exam dates, clarification on assignments, and a whole slew of things that lead you down the path of slipping grades.

3. Read the books

I’m not joking. I know you think nobody reads their college textbooks. Nobody. But here I am to tell you that some very few people read their books. I’m also here to tell you that some very few people get through college with straight As. It may be a coincidence that sometimes those are the same people, but I think not.
I’m not telling you to read every textbook cover to cover. But if you have tests or assignments over certain chapters, make sure to read them in entirety.
Yes, this will take a lot of time. It may seem like you’re doing so much more work than your counterparts, but you will also reap more reward. It will also save you time and energy when it comes to study time and working on assignments. Having already read the chapter allows you to write papers more freely with the knowledge in your head. It also saves you time by familiarizing yourself with where to find certain things in the chapter rather than playing the ever so common search-and-find in the textbook.
If you’ve gone to class (point 2) and read your book, you’ll be surprised to find how prepared you are without cramming, all-nighters and stressful pre-exam studying.

4. Make study guides for exams

Most professors will give you hints as to what to expect on an exam. They might even tell you some of the questions. Have a certain OneNote or Word document open on the side when you take notes, where you collect all of their helpful hints and points.
If you’re teacher does a review day or hands out a study guide then that’s even better. They may give you a study guide with questions, if so, take the time to answer all questions just as if it was an assignment.
If they simply do a review and tell you general topics to expect on the exam, write them down. Then go to your textbook or lecture notes and copy the most valuable information over into your document.
Once you have built your study guide, make your questions or topic headings one color and the answers a different color and print it off. Then read through it once a day until the day before the test. Then the day before read it a few more times. And right before the test, read it through as many times as possible before the professor starts the exam.
I cannot tell you how prepared I felt for exams this way.
Bonus tip: If you use Amazon Kindle for your textbooks then you can copy and paste sections of your textbook directly into your study guide!

5. Find Balance

After everything I just said you might think that’s impossible. I said read your textbooks, go to class, write in a planner AND do extra work to make study guides?? How can you find balance with that? But I’m here to tell you, you can. And you need to. You still need a social life in college. You also need time for healthy activities (working out, playing sand volleyball, going for walks) and sleep. If you don’t take care of yourself physically, then your mind won’t be able to function as well as it should. You need this.

Social life:

To key to success in a social / study balance is finding friends who are just as driven as you are. The ones that want to get into med school or a graduate program, or at least want to do well. Create study dates. Go and try out all the local coffee shops to study in. Bribe yourselves, if you do homework for three hours Saturday morning in the library then you can go get dressed up and go into the city for dinner or to a party. You don’t have to work hard alone. Just find friends with goals other than being known as the “life of the party”. Don’t miss out on college to be successful. I’m here to tell you, you can do both. Just make sure to use your planner so you’re prepared.
Just be creative to make it work. I dated a piano performance major in college (and married him shortly after). He had to spend hours playing piano every week. During hectic weeks if I didn’t join him in the practice room then I didn’t see him at all. He would play piano and I would sit in a corner with textbooks and laptop strewn out working while he played. That was a very typical night for us. But at the end, I got to spend time with my boyfriend, got some free classical background music, and got stuff done.

Health Life:

If you’re body doesn’t feel good, you won’t be motivated to do anything. Take care of yourself. Eat well. And workout, even if that just means walks. I tried to make time to go to the gym everyday. I would use it as a way to break up long days of homework or study sessions. Rather than sit for 4 straight hours on a paper, I would do 2, go to the gym for 1 and come back for the last two. I always seemed to come back with renewed focus and motivation.

Also for me, the gym sometimes helped me clarify my thoughts on whatever I was working on, getting me out of the haze of books and screens and giving me a new perspective. Sometimes just thinking clearly while working out cut down on the time that I would have had to spend thinking of what to write in my papers.
Some people master the reading books and studying while working out. That never worked for me. Bouncing on machines was never conducive to me reading and I just liked to move too much. I found just working out and letting my mind wander worked best. Sometimes I would think about my workout, my sport, my friends, and sometimes I would think about my assignments.

If you find yourself in a rut, staring at a screen for a long period of time, go for a walk! Fresh air and a change in scenery can help refocus yourself.

Conclusion:

You might think I am ridiculous now, but I did and so can you! I hope this helped! For more tips and tricks and future posts, sign up for email newsletters below!

 

 

5 Legitimate Ways to Earn Money Online

money, work from home, avon, makeup, surveys, online, earn, direct sales, home

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, read our Disclosures page.

Just so you know – I HAVE TRIED ALL OF THESE. I’m only sharing things I know you can be successful at!

Who doesn’t like the idea of making money from home? Haven’t we all researched how to make money on the side with just our computer? I know I have.

Maybe it’s just for fun, maybe it’s to cover a bill here or there, or maybe you want to completely replace your full-time income. Whatever you’re hoping for, I want to share with you only money-making ventures that I have tried.

I will caution you, you can make money with all of these different methods, but all of these require some type of time and effort. I’ve noticed for me the more time and effort put into each of these, the more the reward. It’s easy to give up when things don’t go your way immediately, but I encourage you to look at people who are successful in each of these. They did not become successful overnight. Sometimes it takes a long time and hard work to build the customer base needed for success.

1. Direct Sales Marketing

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Direct Sales Marketing sometimes receives a bad reputation, simply because you probably see a lot of this clogging up your Facebook feed. It seems that someone is always trying to sell you something. There are, however, some classy ways of selling through Direct Sales Marketing.

Direct Sales Marketing is actually my favorite thing I have tried. I, personally, sell Avon and LOVE IT. I sell it because I love the product and use it myself.

Avon is one company that allows you to completely sell products online. Your investment for your starter kit can be as little as $25. Then Avon gives you your own website through which your customers can buy products and you receive the commission. A lot of people in the past had a bad experience with Avon because they invested so much into brochures and samples with little profit, but now depending on how you choose to run your business, you can simply share the free online brochure. No brochures or samples = no cost to you. Simply share your website link and allow everyone to go through it to buy your products. Learn more – Read Selling Avon – The Facts.

Interested in this opportunity? I’m always willing to answer questions if you email me at jjlaurensloves@gmail.com . Or ready to sign up? Click here and put your reference code as JJLAUREN . That reference code allows you to become part of my team so that I can help you and guide you along the way.

2. Blogging

Do you have something special you are good at and would like to share with others? DIYs? Fashion? Make-up?

There are so many ways to make money through blogging. You can do ads, affiliate marketing or promote your own products. Blogging is definitely one of the ones I warned you about earlier, as far as you get out what you put in. It takes time and effort to become successful at blogging. Very few become an overnight success, but I do believe that if you work hard you can make it.

My site is self-hosted through Bluehost and use their free WordPress Install to run my site. Being self-hosted allows me to own my own site name and run my site as I see fit. Some of the free sites do not allow you to use ads or affiliates and therefore constrain your money making ability. They also sometimes put obnoxious words in your domain name such as “.blog” or “.wordpress”. Self-hosting through Bluehost can be as cheap as $3.95 a month. Check it out through my link here.

3. Etsy

Are you crafty? Do you make DIYs that other people will want to buy? Do you make cute printable items on your computer? Then Etsy might be the place for you. Etsy is an online marketplace of all things handmade.

My journey with Etsy started with beaded bracelets. They are a hobby for me to make. Read why I have my Etsy shop here. I treat my Etsy shop like a hobby, and just make a few bucks here and there. For some people though, Etsy can be way more than a side hobby, it can be a full time job!

Etsy has a very low cost of $0.20 a listing. But they also take a 3.5% of any sales made.

Ready to start your own Etsy shop. Click here to receive 40 free listings through my link.

4. Surveys

You would have to put a lot more effort into surveys than I do to make a full-time income. They are good for a $5 gift card here or there, if you want a little extra in your pocket.

My favorite is the Swagbucks app. This app constantly has surveys for me, and there are other ways of earning money on this app too, such as watching movie trailers and trying products. I’ve already earned more than a $5 gift cards worth and I spend very, very little time on the app. Want to try it out? Click here and receive 150 free Swagbucks (equal to $1.50) just for signing up.

Another app I’ve used is Surveys on the Go. It has not been quite as profitable for me, but the surveys are sometimes shorter than Swagbucks; however, there are not always surveys available, whereas Swagbucks almost always has some way to earn a little.

5. Affiliate Marketing

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Affiliate marketing is really popular right now. Many people do it in conjunction with blogging, but it can be done solely through social media outlets (Instagram, Pinterest, etc.). Affiliate marketing is basically promoting products for other companies. This can be done through link sharing or through relationships you form with companies.

I, personally, use Amazon Associates and Target Affiliates and promote their products on my blog. Why? Because I actually own and use their products! Promoting things you believe in goes a lot further than just trying to sell people products. These two programs are known accept newbies. Other programs may require you to have an established audience before acceptance. Amazon and Target allow me to view clicks and purchases and keep up to date on how I am doing.

There is no cost to sign up with either of these programs. Depending on how you choose to advertise products you may or may not buy the product beforehand.

Home Decor Spring / Summer 2017

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This post contains affiliate links for more information, please visit our Disclosures page.

What’s New?!

The verdict is in! There are some new and exciting colors in for Spring 2017. The blue color family is taking over! And some greens are splashing in as well.

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The Base!

My husband and I keep our home extremely monotoned with a touch of modern. Some people might ask why all the grey, white and black? You want to know why? So that we can change colors with the seasons! I love having the “it” color in my home! But at the same time, I’m not willing to buy all new furniture or paint walls with every passing trend. Instead, we redid an entire room for just $200 in accessories.

If you follow us on Facebook or sign up for email newsletters, we’ll keep you posted on home decor changes with the season!

How we did Spring / Summer 2017

For the spring of 2017, we picked ourselves up and went to Target. It was not that hard of a sell, we love shopping at Target. (See Related: 5 Ways To Save Money at Target). Target allows us to buy a lot for a little amount of money, so we really can change out the decor every season!

Overall, we went with a bright, ocean themed color scheme, but we left out any cheesy ocean decor, and focused mainly on the colors.

For the walls:

It’s important to have a splash of color at every height. Especially higher on the walls. If you have  a basic color wall, you will end up looking like you’re in a prison, when you don’t have color. If you only have color on furniture or the floor, your eyes will be pulled downward in the room. Your guests might miss how tall and beautiful your ceiling is. Wouldn’t that be a shame?!

Agate Framed High Gloss Canvas – Target

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We chose this piece of artwork from Target. It incorporated a variety of shades of blue that gave us flexibility in matching. It also had grey tones to tie our couch and walls into the whole picture.

For the furniture:

For me, pillows and blankets are the cheapest and easiest way to tie in a color scheme. In most rooms, couches, love seats, and chairs take up a majority of the room. If you strategically place pillows and blankets on it, then you have pretty much covered your whole room in your colors!

Suede Blue Room Essentials Toss Pillows – Target

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Pillow Tip!

Aside from varying your colors, try varying your sizes and patterns! This will keep the eye entertained! The last thing we want is a boring room! But, be careful not to go too crazy on patterns. Try choosing one pattern to go with multiple sizes of solids, to avoid clashing or busy eye pictures.

White and Blue Striped Lumbar Pillow – Target

We chose these pillows from Target! These lovely, long patterned pillows that nailed our blue color we wanted, but also brought in some greens to help us tie in our green decor.

Micromink Blanket Solid Room Essentials – Target

We chose two different sizes of solid blue pillows from Target. We were also able to snag the matching blue blanket on sale!

For the accents:

Accents are what put your home apart from the rest. They are the little pieces that make you unique. Think about it! More people will comment on your pictures and trinkets than on your furniture. They’ll say, “I love this!” or “Where did you get that?” Why? Because while most carpet, paint, or furniture is some variance of the same thing, your decor is much more custom-tail0red to you.

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We chose this large vase from Kirklands. It immediately drew our eye because the color was so perfect! The ombre touch incorporated both the bright blue we had chosen and the soft white of our trim and pillows.

Artificial Grass in Rectangular Ceramic Pot – Target

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We also chose this interesting tall grass piece from Target. It brought a hint of something different into the room, while still staying in our ocean colored theme.

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Tell us what you think! Comment below on your favorite pieces or how you decorated your rooms for the Spring / Summer of 2017!

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates on our always changing house!

 

One Year Reading Challenge

reading, read, love, hobby, hobbies, challenge, one year challenge, knowledge, growth, goals, resolutions

“I used to love to read”

I’ve said it. My friends have said. You’ve probably said it at one point. Somewhere between school, work, and adulting we’ve all lost the time and energy to read. This year, I’m challenging you and myself to read. Not a lot! But enough to re-engage in this wonderful pastime and also improve ourselves.

Benefits of Reading

Reading has many benefits. Mental stimulation and memory improvement are among many of the well known benefits of reading. Reading is also a stress reducer. Not to mention it can be a completely free past-time. Many libraries now allow you to check out books straight to your IPad or phone, eliminating the trip to the actual library.

Set a Goal Number

Mine is 6. I’ve chose six books for the entire year. That’s only one book every 2 months! That definitely seems obtainable.

 

Set Apart Some Time

Reading takes time. And effort. That’s why so many more people watch movies based on books rather than read the book themselves. With my goal of only 1 book every 2 months, I should be able to obtain my goal by setting aside about 1-2 hours a week. Seems easy enough. I know it will get harder along the way, but I also know that if I start the first few months out strong while motivation is high, the last few months will be easier.

The Challenge

So the challenge for this year is to read from at least six different genres. You can set a goal number of how many books, but I encourage you to read at least one in every category. These categories were chosen, to improve, educate, and entertain the self all in one year.

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The 6 Book Genres Included

1. Self-Improvement Book

A lot of people cringe at this. They equate self-improvement to cheesy, pseudo-psychology, self-help books. That does not have to be your choice. It can be! But it doesn’t have to be! Think more along the lines of a book on organization, time management, clean eating, working out, finances, budgeting, or parenting. Something that will help you grow as a person!

 2. Non-Fiction Book in Your Career Field

This is for EVERYONE! And I mean EVERYONE! I know some of you just tried to scroll past this, thinking it doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you are still in  school. Or maybe you are working retail or as a barista with no plans to stay in your current career field. Then choose this book wisely as a book in the career field of your dreams. This may very well be the most important thing you do all year. Think of it as educating yourself to put your best foot forward in the future.  No one knows everything there is to know about their current career field, there’s no telling what you could learn in one simple book. There are books out there on every topic. I guarantee it. If you aren’t interested in an information book in your career field, then look for a memoir, biography, or autobiography from someone who has been in that field. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll learn something from them.

3. Non-Fiction Book on an Interest of Yours

This is a fun one. If you have a side hustle this is perfect for you. But everyone has a hobby. And who wouldn’t love to know more or be better at their hobbies? You might choose an informational book about planes, working out, history or electronics. Or you might want an instructional book on woodworking, fashion or basket weaving (hey I’ve seen it!).

4. Fiction or Nonfiction Book Written Prior to 1950

This is where the fun begins. I love fiction. So I could not just spend an entire year reading nonfiction books. So read a classic! Pick up one of those books you were supposed to read in high school but didn’t. There are so many gems in older books that I believe we do a disservice to ourselves if we only read from our generation.

5. Fiction or Nonfiction Book Written Post-1950

Read that book you want to read!! And if you haven’t read Harry Potter, start there! Pick out a bestseller from the New York Times Bestseller list. Or go to your local bookstore and look at the titles they are promoting now! You can pick any fun genre. This category is designed to make you fall in love with reading again. It’s designed to make the rest of the reading easier to do because you’ve rediscovered your childhood love of fantasy, mystery, or romance.

6. Book on Christianity / Religion

I recognize that not everyone reading this is going to share my religion. If you don’t then pick something in your own spiritual interests. But for those of you that are Christians, this may be the most inspirational or life-changing categories for you. This might be a Christian living book, a historical study book or a Commentary on a book of the Bible. No matter what you choose, I guarantee you’ll learn something that will affect your life eternally!

 

Want to join me in this challenge? Comment below what books you plan on reading this year!

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How To Make Goals You’ll Actually Keep

goals, resolutions, new you, self-improvement

 

This post may contain affiliate links. For more information click on our Disclosures tab.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got a lot of things you want to accomplish in life. Goals for work, my house, and my health. So I set a lot of goals. I love setting goals. Writing them down, thinking about how great life will be when I accomplish them. BUT, I’m not actually very good at following through on them. In fact I can be very bad at it. Being a perfectionist doesn’t help at all. Instead, I end up putting a lot of pressure on myself and stressing myself out!

So today I’m going to talk about 5 Don’ts of setting goals and then how to set goals you’ll actually keep.

Don’t

1. Try to accomplish too many things at once.

When it comes to goals, this is my biggest downfall. With so much to accomplish in life, it may be tempting to try and choose a goal in every category of your life: learn a language, read x number of books, workout every day, master a clean eating home cooked diet, grow wealth, get that promotion, keep a clean house… It’s super easy to overwhelm yourself. My first attempt at a habit tracker about sent me nuts. The entire page was a long list of things I wanted to get done every day. I barely made it five days before I was exhausted and gave up.

Instead:

Choose one to two things each month to focus on. If you do those one to two things every day for a month, they will become a habit. Once it’s a habit after weeks of focus, you can somewhat put that one thing on autopilot, and move your attention onto a new goal.


2. Set goals that will eat up all your time.

This is another pitfall of mine. As a very ambitious person, I choose to go big in a lot of areas of my life. And I know I can achieve it. But at what cost? I could put that picture of the newest body-sculpting supermodel up on my wall and decide I want to look like her by the end of the year. And I could probably very well achieve it. If I slaved at the gym for three hours every day…

One of the fastest ways to reach goal burnout is to choose mega time consuming goals. I’m not saying don’t go for it, if it’s your dream. By all means, we’ve seen transformation stories of people who jumped in with both feet and came out shining stars. But if you’re like me, and your goal can be met by just being healthy and losing those stubborn last 10 pounds, then chose a more moderate, achievable goal. Going to the gym for 1 hour, 5 times a week is both healthy and will allow you to enjoy other past times as well.


3. Live with an all or nothing mentality about goals.

This is by far the hardest thing for us perfectionists. We set that goal. Let’s say that goal is to not drink soda for a month. You make it 3 days. Great! You make it a week straight. Awesome! But then you get to that friend’s birthday party. It’s been a hard week. They’ve got soda all around. You need the caffeine to get you through everything you have to do after this. You do it. You have that soda. It’s amazing. Then you feel bad about it. You lost your streak. You gave up on your goal. It’s over. So the next day you have a soda at dinner because what the heck? By the week after, there’s nothing left of the original goal but that habit tracker paper you printed off the Internet with those first seven days ticked off and now it’s buried on your desk somewhere to be thrown away in a couple of months. Sound familiar??

Instead:

Lose that all or nothing mentality about goals. So you slip up. Fine. Get over it! And get back with it the next day. Or hour. So what you drank that soda? That’s 260 calories that you weren’t intending on drinking. So what? But if you suddenly gave up and had a soda every day for the rest of the month (3 weeks), before restarting your goal the next month, that’s 5,460 calories. If you got back on your goal bandwagon the next day you could have done 5,460 calories less that month. Same thing with going to the gym. If you are busy and can’t make it Wednesday, don’t give up on Thursday and Friday! That’s two workouts that are valuable even if Wednesday wasn’t.


4. Double Up Your Lost Time. 

Don’t put pressure on yourself to double up when you miss something. This gets back into time consuming goals. If you wanted to study a language for 30 minutes a day. However, you miss a day, and decide to do an hour the next day, fine. But what happens when the next day is busy, and the next? Then you keep stacking up time against yourself with the feeling that you need to do it all. You suddenly have two to three hours to make up. Eventually you’ll give up just to make the pressure go away. Instead just count that day as a loss, and start again tomorrow with its own thirty minutes. If you have extra time, Great! If not, let it go. Just keep moving on toward your goals with each new day.


5. Feel like you can only start at a specific time (New Years, the first of the month, Sunday’s)

Admit it. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. We wait for a specific time to start. We think “I’ll have that ice cream now, but on Sunday, I’ll start dieting.” And then that becomes Monday, because Monday is a good day to start too. But not Tuesday. Oh no, I can’t start a new workout plan on Tuesday. It’ll have to wait until Sunday again.

Instead:

Jump in with both feet. When you decide to go for something do it. If you’re on your lunch break planning the goals you’ll start Sunday, throw it away and start today! Go to the gym on your way home on a Thursday if that’s what it is! The best day to start to change is today! No time like the present!

How To Make You’ll Actually Keep With Smart Goals:

The best way to set goals you’ll actually keep is the SMART acronym. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound.
I’ll walk you through it. I’ll use health as an example since it’s one of the most common New Year’s resolutions.

First, choose a SPECIFIC goal.

Be healthier may be a good general goal. But it’s not specific. What EXACTLY do you want? Say, for example, I want to lose weight. That’s more specific.

Second, make it MEASURABLE.

Easy. That means attach a number to it. So now say, I want lose 50 pounds this year. It’s measurable, you’ll know exactly when you reach your goal.

Third, make sure it’s ATTAINABLE.

Choose a number you can see yourself doing. This goes back to what I said earlier about making sure you don’t choose goals that will eat up all of your time to achieve. Sure you can lose 200 pounds in a year. But are you prepared to give up your social life too? You might get a month in and realize, you’re not. Choose a more attainable goal. Once you make it, you can always set a new goal!

Fourth, choose a RELEVANT goal.

This goes back to what I said earlier about choosing too many goals. I have a lot of goals that would be nice. They would improve my life, but they’re not a necessity. Some goals, like finances or health may be more pressing. Choose the one that’s always on your mind. If you stress about money, make this year, the year of financial peace. Get your finances in order. Or, if you dread the mirror, tackle that weightless goal this year. De-stress that part of your life. Then next year, choose the next most important thing to you.

Lastly, put a TIME limit on it.

If there’s no deadline, you’ll procrastinate it. For me, the shorter the deadline, the more likely I am to achieve it. Going back to our weight loss example. 50 pounds in 1 year is a great goal. 1 year is a good time limit. By December 31st, I want to weigh … BUT, making it shorter is even better. For example, I could choose that I want to lose 5 pounds by February 1st. It’s closer, more urgent and I’m more likely to get it done. If 50 pounds in a year was my resolution, I’d make it a goal to lose 5 pounds every month for 10 months, then I would maintain the goal weight for 2 more months (November and December, besides holiday months are tricky)! The more time bound you make your goal, the more focused you will become.

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Want a stylish way to keep track of your goals this year?

Click on any of these adorable planners to head on over to Target.com and pick up one out. I personally have the black and white striped one and love it! Remember, you can order online and pick up in store to avoid the hassle!

5 Ways To Save Money at Target


The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. For more information click on the Disclosures link at the top of the page.

Let’s admit it. We all L O V E Target. Half of my clothes is from there. 90% of my home décor. 100% of our kitchen supplies. And 95% of our Christmas decorations. There’s really no need for anything else. I drag my husband up and down every aisle, pointing out every item I like. I love Target. BUT, I’m not going to argue with saving a few bucks, so here I am going to tell you how.

 

A Target Red Card

  • This is the easiest way to save money at Target. No research necessary. You automatically save 5% every time you use the card. You can get a debit card or a credit card. Since my husband and I are pretty anti-credit card, we opted for the debit card option. All we had to do was sign up and then every time we use our card we save 5% and the exact amount is auto-debited from our checking account. No maintenance required. We’ve saved over $100 this year alone on non-food items alone. Click here to sign up and be ready to save when you hit the stores this holiday season.

The Cartwheel App

  • The Cartwheel App is an easy way to get extra savings. Simply download the app and add the coupons you want to your profile. I check the app about once a week for their largely discounted items. Or, if I have an item in mind before going to Target, I simply search the Cartwheel App to see if there are extra savings available. Get the Cartwheel App for Apple or for Android here.

Printable Coupons

  • Target.com has an entire page dedicated to printable coupons. This includes groceries! Give it a gander before you go.

 

The Weekly Ad

  • Target.com also publishes their weekly ads. You can even choose your local store to ensure that you are getting all the deals available for you.  If you want them even more conveniently, sign up to have them e-mailed directly to you!

 

My Discounts Page

  • On my Discounts Page, I often feature and link to the best deals at Target at the moment. On this page you’ll also find deals at other stores and products that I’ve recently fallen in love with.

 

Want To Guarantee You Get What You Want From Target?

Nothing is more frustrating than saving up for an item, and getting to the store and they don’t have it. I once went to 3 Target stores to find a specific pair of ankle boots in size 11. Now I realize how silly that was. You can shop online and pick it up in the store that very day for free. Target lets you know if that item in that size is available at your local Target stores immediately. My parents recently did this to ensure they were getting the exact Christmas tree they wanted during the mad Christmas rush. Click here for free in-store pickup.

Don’t want to leave home at all?

You can order online and ship it to your home! Click here for free shipping on any order of $25 or more.

Choosing Your Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue

wedding pin, wedding jewelry, wedding, accessories, marriage

“Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”

something old, new, borrowed, blue, english rhyme, wedding day jewelry, accessories

This wedding tradition originated as an English ritual to bring good luck and prosperity to the bride. Now it is a timeless practice that both makes brides blush and stress.

Some girls gather ideas and trinkets to wear on their wedding day from the time they could walk. Others, like myself, did not start thinking about it until a month before the wedding. This brought on a huge amount of stress. Friends tried to console me. They told me that this tradition was not a necessity, not everyone does it. But I wanted to. I wanted to follow this piece of tradition. So in the last month before the big day, I accumulated a wonderful foursome of jewelry that was incredibly special to me.

Something Old
something old, bracelet, necklace, wedding day, wedding, marriage, english tradition
PhotoCred: KatieFaithPhoto.com

For my something old, I chose a necklace of my dearly departed grandmother’s. My grandfather gave me the chain at my Confirmation in middle school. I had displayed it in my childhood room all those years. Because my wedding dress had a super high neckline, I opted to wear it around my wrist instead. The best part was telling my grandfather I would be wearing it and getting a hug and smile from him the day before.

My advice to you would be to choose your something old to be meaningful to you. Of course you could just buy something vintage or antique shop for a cool trinket, but choosing a family heirloom or a gift from someone departed can bring a lot of warmth and familiarity on a day of new beginnings.

Something New
something new, wedding day, wedding rhyme, earrings, accessories, marriage
PhotoCred: KatieFaithPhoto.com

Many people get something new as a gift from the groom or bride’s family. I was fortunate enough to have the same. My mother bought me small diamond earrings for my wedding. She meant them to be beautiful pieces in my cartilage piercings (where I typically wear them now), but for that day they were too precious of a gift to hide. I wore them in my second piercing so that the world could see them.

If perhaps you do not have the luxury of someone giving you something as your something new, then grab your girls and go shopping. It does not have to be something expensive. It can be something fun that you make memories choosing together. Besides most brides are already wearing something new without trying like the dress, shoes and hairpieces.

Something Borrowed
something borrowed, wedding day, wedding rhyme, bracelet, grandmother's jewelry, accessories
PhotoCred: KatieFaithPhoto.com

Since my something old had belonged to my maternal grandmother, I thought it only fitting to have something to show my love of my paternal grandmother as well. I called my grandmother and she brought a beautiful bracelet 900 miles to my wedding. While of course the greatest joy was having her there, I loved wearing this piece as well.

My best advice is to ask someone special for your something borrowed. This may mean grandparents, parents, childhood bestfriends, future sister-in-laws, or your friends’ mothers who were always there for you too. Everyone has someone special to them, even if they are not going to make it your special day.

Something Blue
something blue, wedding day, wedding jewelry, wedding accessories, tradition, earrings
PhotoCred: KatieFaithPhoto.com

Something blue is definitely the most creative of the bunch. There are so many options out there. I’m pretty sure Etsy makes a killing on something blue merchandise during wedding season. Some brides hide their something blue, while others wear it proudly. I chose to hide mine with these two delicate blue stones in my cartilage piercing. They were discreetly hidden by my hairdo but I thought they were a cute and simple. They perfectly rounded out the saying, making all four pieces jewelry.

My only advice is have fun with this one. You can do so much with something blue. Blue shoes are always adorable. Also, monogrammed blue stitching on the inside of your dress is a cute touch. Choose something that fits your personality and will make you smile at the memory for years to come.

 

wedding pin, wedding jewelry, wedding, accessories, marriage

Finding the Perfect Gifts for Book Lovers

book lovers, gifts, bookworms, book worm, nancy drew,

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Christmas is coming up fast. There’s so much to do and so many people to buy irresistible gifts for. But what do you buy for those book lovers in your family? Walking into a book store can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re not sure exactly what kind of book your loved one would like. Better than just grabbing a random book off the shelves (or worse one of those calendars they always sell at bookstores), let me help direct you in a few directions for the bookworms in your life.

1. Book Decor

Book Lovers are not ashamed of being book lovers. We love our books and we proudly display them. But even we like to spice up our bookshelves and nightstands with decor. I personally own this folded version of Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility that says Love. It’s in my front room of my apartment. I absolutely love it and it is one of the most commented on pieces I have.

2. Fan Merchandise

For your hardcore fans, get them pieces that are reminiscent of their favorite books and series. These can be found all over the internet. Be sure in your search to check out Etsy. They always have an amazing collection of original merchandise aimed at diehard book lovers.

Hogwarts, harry potter, sweater, easy, fan art
Howarth Alumni Sweater by WhiteWolfeDesign on Etsy
easy, LOTR, gandalf, fan art
Lord of the Rings Car Sticker by MetroBionic on Etsy
lord of the rings, lots, speak friend and enter, the hobbit, fan merchandise
Lord of the Rings Sign from AllyBoosCreations on Etsy
3. The Missing Piece in Their Series

When I was a little girl, I started collecting the original Nancy Drew books. I’m not talking about the yellow ones, I’m talking the old white ones. Searching for them gave me something to do while parents antique shopped. Plus, I could get the books for sometimes as cheap as $1-$4 dollars. Now, as an adult, even though my parents no longer drag me antique shopping with them, my dad keeps a list of Nancy Drew books on his phone that I’m still missing and he finds them and hoards them until Christmas. I can count on a new one every year and I still love it.

Most book lovers have holes in their favorite series. They may have borrowed one of the books from a friend, school, or the library. Or they are in the middle of a series and have not yet collected all the rest of the books yet. Either way, they are sure to love having the complete series in their own possession. So find out what they are missing and get it for them!

book lovers, gifts, bookworms, books, nancy drew, caroline keene

4. A Kindle or Kindle Books

Do I even have to explain this one? We are talking unlimited access to books anywhere you go. There are a variety of Kindles with a variety of abilities that are sure to fit your taste. If a Kindle isn’t their style, get them a tablet or iPad and they can download the Kindle App (that’s what I do!). If they already have one, get them a gift card to Amazon so they can pick out their own books! They’ll love it! Even in college, I got some of my textbooks on Kindle. They have almost everything!

5. Special Editions

If all else fails, you can buy them a special edition of what they already have. Not everyone will like this, but hardcore fans will. I recently saw a beautifully illustrated version of the Harry Potter books. Every page was gorgeous. The drawings drew you into the story in a vibrant new way. Despite already owning all of these books, I was still tempted to buy this special version and read it all over again!

JJLaurensLoves is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to JJLaurensLoves.com (amazon.com, or endless.com, MYHABIT.com, SmallParts.com, or AmazonWireless.com).

October Fashion 2016 – For the Warm and the Cool Fall

plaid, navy, vest, fashion, style, fall, fall fashion

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My Five Outfits For October:

I don’t know about you, but where I live, October can mean anything weather-wise and therefore fashion-wise. It may be 90s or it may be low 50s. Even worse, it might be both. Going to the mall, you can see both full winter outfits and booty shorts! No one is quite sure how to dress
for both the season and the weather.

To compensate for this, I plan ahead with both long-sleeve and short-sleeve fashion outfits on the fly. All come with boots and fall colors, naturally.

Outfit One: The Cozy Comfy Dresssweater dress, grey, fashion, style

This grey sweater dress is appropriate in all weather, as long as it’s still October. It looks like a bulky sweater, but it’s actually light weight. Wear with or without a jacket! All short-sleeve sweater dresses are a must-have for a mid-western fall.

Sweater Dress: Macys®

Outfit Two: The Basic Plaidgreen, plaid, ankle boots, light wash skinny jeans

Let’s face it, plaid is the comf
iest and cutest thing on the market in casual fashion wear right now. Pair it with light wash jeans and any kind of boots and you’re read for anything a day throws your way.

Plaid Shirt: Charlotte Russe®; Light Wash Skinny Jeans: Macys®; Ankle Boots: Target®

light chambray, fashion, white jeans, ankle boots, light pink scarf, styleOutfit Three: The Light Chambray

People are telling us that it’s okay to wear white year round, so let’s stop holding back! White and chambray look amazing together. Pair it with a cozy light pink scarf and you’re on your way.

Light Chambray Shirt and White Skinny Jeans: Macys®; Ankle Boots: Target®

Outfit Four: The Long ShawlsFall 2016 fashion, style, white, tan, shawl, leggings, steve madden boots

This is one of my basic it’s-still-hot-outside-but-it’s-fall outfits.
Leggings, a long white shirt, and a tan and white over-shawl. It fall fashion, but it’s not stifling.

White Long Top: Maurices®; Shawl: Versona®; Black Leggings: Lady’s Foot Locker®; Boots: Steve Madden®

workout gear, pink, purple, asic tennis shoes, pink shoesOutfit Five: The Getting Cooler Workout Wear

Bright colors aren’t a summer fashion thing, they’re a gym fashion thing! Don’t be afraid to wear those eye catching pieces at the gym or out running, just because it’s cooler. Simply add some sleeves to the mix and keep going!

Yoga Pants and Jacket: JCP®; Pink Tennis Shoes: Asics®

Framed Embroidery DIY – An Easy Way to Add Both Love and Style to Your Home

DIY, frame, embroidery, cross stitch, framing embroidery, framing cross stitch

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Cross stitch and embroidery to me have always represented home. They say, “someone worked hard for this little piece of comfort.” Whether it’s in the form of a piece of art on the wall, a pillow, or an entire quilt, hand-stitched items bring comfort.

Not everyone feels this way. To some cross stitch or embroidery reminds them of old things, but it no longer has to. Now there are so many styles available to choose from.

My favorites are the ones that resemble chalkboard signs. Liall you need is love and a good cup of coffee, cross stitch, diy, home decor, coffee mugs,ke this one:

 

Step One: Pick a Design You Like!

This is the obvious one. Embroidery and cross stitch can take a lot of work. It’s a matter of pride! So choose something you are going to be happy showing off! I got this design at my local craft store for under $10 dollars. It came in a kit with everything included (thread, needle, all of it!), even instructions for first timers! If you are a more regular crafter, head to Etsy and pick out one of their many funny and fantastic printable designs sold there!

Step Two: Do the Work!

Embroidery and Cross Stitch are works of patience. This one I’m showing you currently only took me one weekend of almost constantly working while watching Disney movies. But keep in mind thats rare. I have some Thomas Kinkade cross stitches that have taken me years to complete. So pick a design for your patience and time commitment level and get to work!

Step Three: Mount It!

This is a difficult part. I had to go running to my mom for help with this one.

Previously, we have stitched down the cross stitch onto a board, but for the sake of making this quick and easy, we took a different route with this one. We simply used a heavy duty packing tape to secure the embroidery. Keep in mind, going the fast route with tape does not make for the prettiest backing, but no one should see the back!

  1. Find a thin piece of board that will fit inside the frame of your choice. Coffee cross stitch, embroidery(Sometimes, frames will even come with a thin piece of cardboard in them.)
  2. Have someone help you line up the cross stitch exactly where you want it on the front and hold it still.
  3. Pull the top and bottom taunt on the backside and tape it down to the board.
  4. Fold the sides over the back and tape them down as well. Make sure to get your corners nice and flat with nothing overlapping the front of your piece. This is an important step, because you don’t want the front of your work to look sloppy. Also, if your corners are not flat enough, your piece may not fit in the frame!
Step Four: Frame It!

Buy a frame for it! It doesn’t have to be expensive! The frame on my cost about $2 dollars. Keeping my entire new piece of decor to under $15!

Step Five: Spicy It Up With More Modern Decor!

Since this embroidery is about coffee, I added some stylish mugs we had around the house. I also placed it near my Keurig, to almost try and make a coffee bar feel in a tiny space. Try it yourself! Pick other pieces to compliment your work and bring it into the twenty-first century!

 

Don’t want to do the work, but like the design? Get a printable or chalk sign here:

 

JJLaurensLoves is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to JJLaurensLoves.com (amazon.com, or endless.com, MYHABIT.com, SmallParts.com, or AmazonWireless.com).