college tips :: living on campus vs commuting

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So almost everyone has started classes now, but since my main focus on HTPC is college, I'm going to continue with my B2S series in a way. Instead of it being named 'Back to School 2015,' it'll be 'College Tips'! You can always review my B2S posts here, though.


My freshman year I lived in the dorms on campus. I liked it and do miss it now, but it wasn't all sunshine and gumdrops. But neither is commuting / living off campus! In this post I'm going to highlight what I've found to be the pros and cons of both living situations. 

monthly goals + end of the month review :: september 2015

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I work best with small ideas. 'Clean the counters,' 'do 30 minutes of homework,' 'take the trash out.' The idea of sitting down and thinking of every single thing that needs to be done frightens and overwhelms me to the point where I do nothing. So instead of freaking out over my list of 500 things, I'm going to try setting monthly goals of 5ish things. Some personal, some blog related. 

back to school 2015 :: 10 things I've learned from college

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Can you believe that in ~2 weeks, I'll be a junior? I can't. Freshman year was amazing and went by so fast, sophomore year was okay and went by... shockingly slow. I'm hoping this year will be the best yet!

photo backdrops that won't make your wallet sad! :: DIY days

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Whether you have no backdrops and are just taking pictures wherever you can or if you're tired of using the same backdrop over and over again, this post is for you!

back to school 2015 :: roommate + suitemate do's and don'ts

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I was lucky (and thankful) to have been in a dorm without a community bathroom, but that meant my roommate and I had to share a bathroom with two other girls. And whoever they brought over. Which included half of campus, apparently. But just because I had a bad experience, it doesn't mean you will! And, with these handy tips, you can avoid becoming a bad experience. :-)

back to school 2015 :: the best and worst professors I've had & a review

When I was in high school, every "college" movie I watched seemed to make the professors out to be horrible (Legally Blonde, anyone?) or extremely strict. My high school was always very relaxed, so the idea that I'd have to suffer for four years scared me. Thankfully I've been lucky to have a lot of amazing professors so far. Granted, I've only been in school for four semesters, but that's long enough for people to make lasting impressions. 

back to school 2015 :: balancing college and a job (full or part time)


College is hard. Work can be hard. Balancing them both?
When you've neve done it before, it can seem impossible.
I didn't get a job until the second semester of my freshmen year for a few reason.
     - I still had money from graduation presents and work over the summer
     - I had a meal plan and an awesome family that helped by giving me food to eat in my dorm
     - I was new. I didn't know the area, the state, or any people. I didn't have a car and had never used public transportation before, so I was scared.
I had work study, so I could have worked on campus, but I don't think I would have been able to balance being a first-semester freshman and working. So I waited. And when I did get a job, I started out with about 24 hours a week and worked my way up to 40+ hours when I knew I could handle it. So how did I do it?

back to school 2015 :: book bag reviews + what's in my bag!


So for the month of August I'll be participating in a Back To School linkup with and many other fantastic bloggers! I hope you're all ready to get your back to school hype on because I have been for like... three months now.

For me, classes start in a little over 5 weeks. Every year before this I was dreading school starting, but I'm really anxious for this semester. Maybe I've spent too much time in the studyspo tags on tumblr? Whatever caused my change of heart, I'm perfectly content with it. And so today's post will be two book bag reviews and a 'what's in my bag' / school supplies haul, because I don't plan on keeping all of this stuff in my bag.

*this post is picture heavy!*

10 things I forgot to bring to college :: plus a free printable packing list!

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1). A small tool kit. If something from your dorm room breaks, you're going to probably just have maintenance fix it. But if something you brought into your room breaks, they're going to just stare at you if you ask them to fix it. 
        My roommate and I had a fan running basically 24/7 because they had the heat on until April, and the courtyard in front of our window was always full of geese. So the fan blades got dirty. Really dirty. And I didn't have a screwdriver to take the front off so I could clean it, which really sucked. And another time I was helping my roommate fix her laptop and we had to take the battery out to replace it. The problem was the battery was behind a cover, fixed in place with 6 tiny screws. 

2). Batteries. For your remote (if you bring a tv- which I don't really recommend), your computer mouse, or whatever. You'll probably need a new battery at the worst possible time. 

3). Extension cords and surge protectors. Some dorms don't allow one or both of these items, so check your hall's rules before bringing one. My hall did allow it thankfully, because there was a total of 3 outlets in the entire room. One was used for our printer and fan, the other two were for our mini fridges and laptops.

4). A long charging cable for my phone. Not only were there very few outlets, but they were also close to the floor. I'm about 5'6" and the top of my bed reached my chest, so my tiny cable was no match against that bed. 

5). A very small purse or wristlet. When I was going to the dining hall, I didn't want to carry my giant purses when all I needed was my ID, keys, and money. You probably also won't want to carry a purse to class every day, but you also don't want your keys and ID laying loose in your bookbag.

6). A rug. Halfway through the year, my roommate ended up buying a rug. The cold tile floors were ugly, scratched, and, despite numerous cleanings, always looked dirty. The rug made the room feel more like a part of a house instead of part of a dorm.

7). Toilet brush. This is obviously not needed if you have a community bathroom (my condolences), but if you have a private or semi-private bathroom, you're going to want to keep it clean. Especially if, like me, you have two suitemates who don't know what it means to clean a shared space. Sorry. Passive-aggressive blogging over.

8). Rain stuff. Now, I didn't personally forget any of this, but so many people did. Before I left for school I spent $40 (knocked down from $200, of course) on a really nice raincoat. I brought two umbrellas and made sure I had shoes I didn't mind getting wet. If anything, bring an umbrella. Don't let rain be the reason you skip class, because you're paying a lot of money to be there.

9). Warm clothes. Please don't be me and not bring a winter jacket. Maybe I was naive because I had never experienced Michigan winters before. Or maybe it was that in high school the farthest distance I had to go was from the parking lot to the entrance. Whatever it was, I regret the choice to not bring a coat. I ended up having to get one halfway through the semester because my pullovers couldn't handle it.

10). And finally... the knowledge that it's okay to be scared. I moved to a city over 80 miles away in another state. My planned roommate (that I had met and become friends with) had to switch colleges last minute and I didn't meet my new roommate until a week after I moved in. I didn't have a car, a job, or any sense of familiarity. And for a while I was too proud to admit I was scared because gosh dangit, I had been dreaming about going to college since I was in the 3rd grade. When my friends and I played house, I'd be the lawyer/fashion designer who was also still going to school. Did it make sense? Heck no. Did it make me look forward to college? Heck yes. 
        I went home a total of 4 times my freshmen year and 3 of those were mandatory, 'campus and dorms are closed, ged'outta here' visits. The first time was mid September because honestly? I was afraid to be alone. Most of my HS friends stayed back home and I felt left out and forgotten.
        It took me until the end of my first semester to admit to myself I had been scared. EMU (my lovely school) is a suitecase school. Nearly all the students are from the area, so they go home each weekend. So I'd sit in my room and be alone, afraid to go out but also too scared to stay in with my thoughts. When I admitted I was scared, I felt better. I stopped being afraid to go get lunch on campus - by myself. I started doing things for me and by myself and it wasn't awkward or weird. 

The most important thing to takeaway from this is that you're going to forget things, but you're also going to find so much more. You're going to learn about yourself and others. You're going to find new hobbies and favorite foods and whether or not college (that college or any college) is right for you. And it's okay if the answer is 'no, it's not.' You're there to learn and if that means learning that you'd be happier doing x, y, or z, don't be afraid to follow that.

As promised, here is the free packing checklist. I probably forgot things, of course, but that's why I left some blank lines! Feel free to print this out, just don't claim it as your own or redistribute - in print or online. 



two apps to keep you focused!

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two apps to keep you focused : time doctor and habitrpg

trade your reviews for discounted products II :: allstar reviewers •

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In the short time I've had this blog, I think I've made it abundantly clear that I love free (or very, very cheap) things. My very first blog post was about Amazon Review Trader, a place to get free or deeply discounted items in exchange for an honest review on Amazon. Since then I've tried similar sites. I've had some hits and misses - mostly misses - but I finally found a great one and I'm so excited to share it with you guys!

ten time saving beauty tips!

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( photo from Leigh Kendell on unsplash, editing by Jen Chagnon )

Ten Time Saving Makeup Tips
aka “I overslept and have to leave in 20 minutes” tips!

friday favorites :: everything edition

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Friday favorites for july 10th, 2015

This past week has been hectic. Potential roommate meet-ups, so. many. job applications filled out, huge rushes at work from people coming home from the holiday weekend, and so on. This week hasn't provided much sleep, but it has given me opportunities to be productive! I collected some of my favorite books, smelly-things (the good kind, don't worry), and youtube channels to share with you all this week. Some are long time faves, some are recent. :-)


june 2015 favorites


June has been a great month and it makes me sad that 2015 is going by so quickly. Soon I'll be starting my junior year of college, I'll be writing for a new blog (but keeping this one, of course), and who knows what else. Anyways, enough about all that. Let's get on with my favorite products from June!

two essential oils to help your hair :: amzreviewtrader

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Tea Tree Oil (mine is from Apothecary Extracts*) has shown to be effective with things like dandruff and acne, and is often found in low concentrations in some cosmetics! TTO can be used by most adults (it's not recommended for children!) when diluted.

friday favorites :: hair edition

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This Friday's favorites is going to be focused on hair products. I won't be including shampoo + conditioner, because I don't have any of the bottles to photograph!

finding your balance :: surviving college, work, + life.

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{ photo by davide ragusa }

You're a college freshman. You've just moved into your dorm, you have no idea how to get to your first class, where you can use your meal plan at, or how to talk to anyone you see. That's okay. 
You've already been through all of that. You're working 40+ hours a week, taking 19 credit hours, and wondering how you're going to pay rent or buy next semester's books. And because of that, you feel scared or alone or too stressed out. That's okay. 
You're not even in college - you can't imagine finding the time or money to attend - but you're still stressed between this bill and that late fee and this emergency. You don't know what to do. And that's okay too. 

Let's talk through it.

youphoria yoga mat :: amazon review

{ photo from }

I talked about amzreviewtrader previously (see the post here) and since then I have gotten a few more items and have more arriving by next week. I'm going to be reviewing some of the items I've bought because I think it lends credibility to the site, which is something all sites should have!

Most of the items I bought I chose "no rush shipping" so I could get a free $1 credit for them, but I chose two day shipping for this yoga mat because of how excited I was to get it! The color options are black, green, blue, and pink and the original price is $35. I was able to buy it for $3.99, which is a good price for a yoga mat of any quality, honestly. 

friday favorites :: makeup edition

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just call me jane dough :: simple focaccia rolls

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I know, my joke was a little... dry. Wheat can I say, I love bad jokes!
All joking aside, this is one recipe you knead to know. That was the last one, promise.

25 before 25 :: a bucket list.

{ }

New months mean new beginnings.
That's not cliche at all, right? You know what else isn't cliche? Bucket lists.

25 before 25:
» Go to an outdoor concert
» Explore Ypsi and Ann Arbor more. 
» Go canoeing again.
» Make homemade bread.
» Read 50 books in 1 year (in 2013 the highest I made it was 47 books in a year)
» See Twenty One Pilots live.
» Go hiking and don't feel bad for stopping to take pictures. We live in a digital
    age and that's okay. 
» Have an emergency fund. Just open a savings account.
   Even if it's only $10 per paycheck, save something.
» Go to Ikea.
» Take the time to revisit places, because buildings and people won't be
   the same forever.
» Don't settle for experiencing half of what the world has to offer because
   you're afraid.
» Take a yoga class. Or a zumba class. Or something where you can have fun
    with others.
» Buy a car.
» Get something published.
» Get a book, go to the student center, and spend the afternoon reading.
    Bring a snack or enjoy an overpriced frappe from Starbucks.
» Identify your fears.
» Find a hobby that makes you happy to do. Don't do it because everyone's
   talking about it on Pinterest or you think it'll make you look cool. Just do it
   for you.
» Keep a journal.
» Grow a windowsill garden. 
» Step out of your comfort zone and do something you never thought you could do.
» Make it a habit to disconnect and enjoy life without cellphones and tablets.
» Go out to lunch more --- alone. 
» Following a similar idea, go to the movies alone. You can have fun on your own.
   Plus, it's cheaper when you don't have a plus one. 
» Learn how to make your favorite dishes from your favorite restaurants. They won't
   taste the same, but you'll appreciate it more because you invested time in it.
» and finally... Get my degree. :-) 

trade your reviews for discounted products!

Do you want discounted products in exchange for Amazon reviews? Heck yeah you do!

Despite this intro sounding like a bad scam email, the website I'm about to talk about is actually real and trustworthy! is a place where companies put their products up at discounted prices and all they ask in return is for the reviewer (that's us!) to give them an honest review.

How do I know it works? I've used it, of course. It is best to use it in conjunction with Amazon Prime so you can score free shipping, though.

So what have I gotten so far? A few great items.
  • Foxbrim Dead Sea Mud Mask for 1.00
  • Foxbrim 'Youthful Radiance' Eye Cream for 1.00
  • 'Curve' headphones by Sentey for 1.99
  • Hair Growth Vitamins (5000 MCG Biotin) for .10 cents 

                           Singing up is 100% free (don't trust those sites that make you pay.
                             You should never have to pay to have access to a site like this!)
                             and really simple. Just go to to get started.

Thanks for reading!