November 30, 2014

Final exam study tips {college & grad school}

It's final exam season, ugh I know. But I have learned to appreciate this time of the semester because it means the end is near! I'm sharing a few tips that I practice for midterms & final exams that really help me feel prepared before tests and have my final projects completed ahead of the due date. I hope these help you have a happy and successful final exam week!

1. Divide and plan | Finals require a plan of action to handle calmly. Before I start studying or working on anything, I write down all of the finals I have and all of the assignments I have due during finals week. This semester I had the following written down:

Multivariate Statistical Coding Analysis Take-Home Final
Comparison Essay
Research Paper Proposal
Final Research Paper
Final Policy Memo 

Having a written list really helps keep me organized and also helps me prioritize my assignments. Trying to take on everything at the same time is very hectic and has proven unsuccessful for me in the past. So now, I stick to getting finals studying and assignments done using a system.

2. Get the assignments done first | When I have a ton of studying to do, the last thing I want to think about is doing assignments for another class. That's why I finish my assignments that are due before I start seriously studying. Of course you can do some light studying during the weeks/days leading up to your final, but I spend the majority of that time knocking out any assignments I have to do. This helps me really focus on the study material and decreases my stress levels since I have fewer things on my to-do list. After finishing my assignments, my list looked like this:

Multivariate Statistical Coding Analysis Take-Home Final

3. Take breaks | Taking short breaks is a great way to reward yourself for getting work done/learning information and it helps keep your brain from getting exhausted too quickly. If I'm studying at my place, I take breaks by watching an episode of a TV show, checking social media, painting my nails, having a snack, or doing some yoga.

4. Mix solo studying and group studying | I personally prefer studying and working alone, but that gets old really quickly during finals week. So, I like to alternate studying/working on my own for a few hours with working with others. Group/partner studying is good if you have the social self control to be around others when there's work to be done. But, I appreciate sitting at a table with a friend while doing work - it makes me happier, it makes me feel more obligated to study and it's nice to know someone is in the same boat.

5. Eat healthy snacks and drink water | I prepare healthy snacks and meals during finals week so that I can easily pack and eat them. Some of my favorite healthy snacks include bananas, blueberries, and yogurt. I also always keep a bottle of water with me.

6. Set alarms | I use alarms on my iPhone to set limits on my work (so I know when to take breaks), and to remind me of things I may forget otherwise because of the craziness of finals week. I also set limits on how late I will stay up during the week, and use alarms to tell me when it's time to wind down for the night and get some rest.

7. Make/use practice tests Before your exam, do a practice version of the exam to prepare! I sometimes make my own exam with possible questions or have a friend quiz me over the test information. All of these get your mind prepared for an exam and calm your nerves.

8. Be confident | Once you've done all you can to do well on your final exams, just believe that you're prepared and  try your very best when it comes time to take the test!

And remember to celebrate once your finals are over - here are a few suggestions of how to celebrate!

November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day outfit

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm spending the day with my family in South Carolina, but I wanted to share my Thanksgiving Day look with you. I hope you have a happy and safe holiday. We all have so much to be thankful for.

Padded Parka = H&M, Sweater & Tank Top = Forever21Jeans = H&MBoots = Kohl's

November 23, 2014


It's been way too long since I've shared a check-in/update with me on here. This past week has been the most hectic, school-wise, and other life commitments have required my time as well. So please forgive the lack of blog posts, but I'm back! Here are a few things that I've been up to recently...

This semester I've been taking 5 classes while working at my graduate assistantship + an internship. Yes, it's been busy...and that's how I like it. My internship ended a few weeks ago, and it was a great experience that I'm so grateful to have had. My classes are going well, and I'm hoping to achieve one of my birthday goals of having a 4.0 semester. So that means I'll be spending these last few weeks organizing, studying, and praying!

Speaking of graduate assistantship involves planning three conferences for college students across the state, and one of those conferences was earlier this month. It went so well, and was so much fun! It's always great to see your hard work come to life, and see other people enjoy themselves as well. Check out the group selfie I took with some of the students above :)

Holiday Parties (already!)
I finally went to Sweetwater Brewery in Atlanta when my friend Alexandria invited me to be her +1 at her job's holiday party. It's such an awesome venue, and the food was delicious. We also had a hilarious Uber ride home...which always makes for an interesting night, right?

One of my friends from high school recently moved back to Georgia with her husband and adorable baby. I finally got to babysit him, and it was so much fun. He is such a sweet baby and didn't cry one time, lucky me!

While my Atlanta Falcons team isn't having their best season, my Georgia Tech football team has been beyond impressive! I went to the last regular home game, and we beat Clemson! Now, Georgia Tech has been named as the ACC Coastal Division Champions and we're headed to the ACC Championship against Florida State University for the ACC title, so exciting!

Birthday Celebrations
I've celebrated several friends' birthdays this month, and most importantly I celebrated my dad's birthday last week! I helped prepare dinner (above) for him, and we invited friends and family over for dinner and just to hang. It was such a fun day, and I'm so happy I got to spend another birthday with my sweet dad. FYI, our meal included: asparagus, yellow squash, fried catfish, mango chicken, green beans, cabbage, macaroni & cheese, baked fish, sweet potato pie, and apple pie. It was amazing, and a great variety for a large group of people.

VKV Communications LLC
November has been the best month so far for my communications company, and that is so exciting but also a little frightening. I cannot say no to work projects because they are so much fun, and because I plan to spend 2015 really focusing on expanding my business. Besides photo sessions, I've been working on multiple logo designs, branding projects, and websites. The photo sessions I've done this month have been tremendously fun, and nothing feels better than hearing how much clients love their photos!  

So as you can see, November has been a busy, but beautiful month for me thus far! I hope it's been a great month for you too and that you enjoy Thanksgiving next week! I'll be spending time with my family, and enjoying some time off from work and school :)

What have you been up to recently?

November 17, 2014

NYE 2014 dresses {Tobi}

Last year, I did a series of posts sharing New Year's Eve outfit ideas for women and men and they were very popular. So I'm going to share some of my favorite NYE outfit options again this year. I stumbled upon the online store, Tobi, that has tons of affordable clothing options. I found a few of my favorite NYE dress options, all under $100!

Here are a few of my favorite Tobi dresses:

Sparkler Sequin Dress | $60 (also comes in gold and navy)

Which one is your favorite?

November 13, 2014

Health and fitness update

Eggplant tacos with cucumber, spinach, tomatoes, onions

It's been a while since I've shared my healthy meals on the blog, so here goes! I'm still eating clean or healthy for at least two meals a day. And since I hit my target weight and BMI last month, I've just been focusing on maintaining my weight and doing some sort of fitness every single day. It's great when eating healthy no longer becomes a chore and becomes incorporated into your regular life. When I remembered, I snapped some photos of some of my recent healthy meals:

Black beans + veggie crumbles | I love mixing beans with veggie crumbles because this mix goes great in tacos, salads, as meatballs, or in a sandwich

Black Bean & Veggie Crumble Tacos with Spinach and Yogurt Sauce + Brussels Sprouts

Steamed asparagus and brussels sprouts | I love topping steamed veggies with lemon juice

Herb Crusted Salmon topped with tomatoes + Asparagus 

Sautéed Coleslaw + Spinach, Onion, Apple Slices | this is a quick and tasty dish that's perfect to eat on-the-go or as a late night snack

Mushroom Salmon + Asparagus | I ordered this dish at Ra Sushi, an Asian restaurant in Atlanta. Very delicious and I will definitely be recreating this dish soon!

Salmon Burger + Sweet Potato Fries + Onion Rings | OK, not an actual healthy meal. I love this Grub Burger salmon burger so much, and was craving the sides.  And I wanted to share one of my non-healthy meals. I have a few of these throughout the week, and I have still lost weight. I just make sure to have more healthy meals than non-healthy meals and to workout twice as hard after one of these meals. 

Sautéed Spaghetti Squash + Cole Slaw + Onions with Lemon Juice and Green Salsa | I had these ingredients on hand and mixing them turned out great! If you love a spicy, but savory dish, you will love this.

Veggie Burger Tacos (I cooked frozen veggie burgers then tore them into pieces) with Tomatoes, Spinach, Green Peppers, and Yogurt Sauce | I was starving this day, and these three veggie tacos made the perfect post-workout dinner. 

I appreciate the emails and social media messages sharing how my clean eating posts have helped you on your journey to living a healthier lifestyle! I'm so much happier practicing healthier habits, and I hope that you'll feel great about eating healthier and being physically fit too. It's a challenge to begin with, but it's so worth it!

What healthy meals/snacks have you had recently?

November 08, 2014

New Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams in {Decatur}

On Thursday, my friend Norquata and I attended the grand opening of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams' newest Atlanta scoop shop in Decatur Square! I'm so happy we got the invite to this opening event because I am such a fan of Jeni's ice cream. I'm a regular visitor of the Westside Provisions location, and I'm happy they have added a new location for the ice cream-lovers of Decatur. I tried two flavors I had never had before - the Sweet Potato and Torched Marshmallow + Wildberry Lavender (above).  And Norquata ordered the Cranberry Parfait Buttermilk + Lemon Buttermilk Tart. We both LOVED our ice creams. Checkout some photos I snapped during the grand opening:

I finally got to witness a waffle cone being made -- they make the waffles on an waffle-maker right there at the counter! And then mold them into cones.

Oh, and did I mention we met THE Jeni of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams?! She was super sweet and was on site, greeting visitors of the new location.

Thank you, Jeni's for inviting me to this special occasion!

November 06, 2014

Applying to grad school {tips}

To say this semester has been busy is an understatement.  It seems like I have multiple assignments due in multiple classes all throughout the week, but I am grateful that I'm really enjoying my classes this semester. I've run into a few undergrad friends while on campus who have mentioned wanting to apply to grad school when they graduate. This is also a popular topic from readers who email me so I thought I would post a few tips regarding the grad school application process. 

Here are five tips for getting started on the grad school application process, based on my experience. I am so happy that I chose to attend grad school

1. Have a career goal(s) 
I think it's so important to have a career goal or goals before you select a grad program or decide to attend grad school. Otherwise, you may waste your time and money. I made a list of possible careers and then did some research to find out what types of masters degrees could lead to those careers.

2. Study for the appropriate graduate exam & sign up for it
Once you know your career goals, you should also know what type of graduate degree you are seeking. I am earning my Masters of Science in Public Policy, but some people go to grad school for their MBA (Masters of Business Administration), MPA (Masters of Public Administration), LL.M. (Masters of Law), and more. So figure out what degree you are seeking before you sign up for the general graduate exam (GRE). I took the GRE and did well after several months of serious studying.

3. Find potential schools/programs and look for professors/faculty who inspire you
 After I signed up for the GRE and started studying, I began looking for possible grad schools and programs that would help me achieve my career goals. Georgia Tech was immediately my first choice because I had such an enjoyable undergrad experience, but I still did research on other Public Policy/Political Science/Public Administration programs across the nation. I made a list of schools that I could apply to based on rankings, specialities, location, tuition costs, program length, and the faculty members' interest. Georgia Tech ultimately offered a great program that had professors and faculty that did research in the area of policy I am interested in, and I appreciated the familiarity of the campus along with the ability to start my program in January.

4. Look at financial aid options/graduate teaching positions
After having to pay for some of my undergrad college, I wanted to have a graduate experience that was paid for by someone else. And lots of people encouraged me to only attend grad school if I could get it paid for, great advice! My program offers teaching assistant positions and research assistant positions, and this is common at many graduate programs. I asked the program advisor about the likelihood of obtaining a position before applying and I'm so glad I did.

5. Apply!
When you have decided on a program(s) to apply to, check out their application and application process even if you're not ready to apply yet. Completing my application took me a couple of months. The hardest part is writing your personal statement and preparing for your interview (if your program requires this). Definitely give yourself enough time to complete the application (your graduate exam score is part of this) before the deadline. I had several friends who had completed a masters program read over my personal statement and provide feedback. I probably edited that paper 25 times before I was satisfied with it (and it was under the character limit).

See my posts on similar topics:

November 03, 2014

November Calf Raise Challenge {fitness}

I went to my college's homecoming this weekend and had so much fun, but I am very exhausted from all of the events! I'll definitely share a few photos from the weekend on here soon. 

Since November has officially started (insane), that means a new fitness challenge for the month. I love doing these and they seem to be popular among my readers interested in health and fitness. Finding and actually doing fitness challenges is a great way to stick to working out and enjoy it. This month, I'm focusing on sculpting my calf muscles. Little known secret, I do 10 calf raises twice, every day when I get out of bed and before heading to bed. They help keep my leg muscles strong and stretched. So I think it will be great to increase my calf workouts during the month using this plan I found on Pinterest. 

Great calf muscles make your legs look toned while wearing heels or flats. These may be easy, but you will definitely feel the burn!


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