Backpack Shopping Guide

Since I began preschool, the piece of school supplies I have always been most excited about has been my backpack.  I feel like, next to clothes, it’s one of the best ways to express yourself at school.  While I haven’t chosen an exciting one with Hannah Montana or overwhelming floral patterns on it recently, nor have I purchased a new one every year like I used to back then, I still love my backpack and think that having the perfect one is an important component of walking into school confidently on the first day.  Today I’m sharing my third Back to School post this year; a backpack shopping guide!  Read the rest of my Back to School posts here!  This post features a few of my current favorite backpacks being sold online to help guarantee that you pick a trusty book bag that gives you that same boost of confidence and reassurance mine always gives me.  Each image of a backpack contains the link to the product’s online listing, so just click on one you like to shop!  You can also click on the underlined name of the brand to shop all of that brand’s backpacks.  Enjoy!

Jadelynn Brooke

Yes, I am an ambassador for Jadelynn Brooke and no, I’m not receiving any kind of compensation for mentioning their backpacks, I just love them!  Jadelynn Brooke backpacks come in a few adorable patterns (my favorite is pictured on the far left) and have all of the necessary functional features including a zip pocket and two side mesh pockets on the outside, two interior neoprene pockets (one sized for a 15 inch laptop and the other sized for a tablet), a water repellent exterior, a sturdy handle, and padded adjustable shoulder straps.  I actually have one of Jadelynn Brooke’s older backpacks and I love using it to travel, I can only imagine that the quality has improved since mine was released a year ago!  Plus, you can get yours 15% off with my code “FLHS” and you will receive a free Jadelynn Brooke water bottle, keychain, & some stickers with your purchase of a backpack!

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The North Face

My last two backpacks have been North Face Borealis and I love them.  My first one lasted three school years and a trip to Colorado, and even though it’s a little beat up now I still plan on using it for travel!  The first one pictured below is actually the one I got for this school year!  I love North Face backpacks because they’re built for hiking, so they’re super durable and have tons of pockets (including a padded, fleece-lined one that fits a 15 inch laptop) and zippered compartments to hold everything you could possibly need to take to school, plus the back area and shoulder straps are lined with memory foam!  Not to mention, there’s a plethora of color combinations and patterns!  A few of my favorite North Face Borealis backpacks for this school year are pictured (and linked) below.

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Madeline & Company

Madeline & Company was founded by Madeline, who at the time was just a rising senior in high school unable to find the perfect backpack that was both stylish and functional.  She started a small online business selling the backpacks she’d designed that were roomy enough to fit all of her books and super cute.  Now, two years later, she still has the business running with the help of her family and just released a second line of slimmer backpacks!  I don’t have one of these myself but I wish I did!  The classic design features an inspirational saying on the back of the backpack, navy and white stripe interior lining, an easy to clean faux leather base, a durable polyester exterior, a padded laptop sleeve, padded shoulder straps and back panel, interior zippered pocket, two exterior side pockets (perfect for water bottles), and an exterior zippered pocket.

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Patagonia

Just like North Face backpacks, Patagonia backpacks were originally created for hikers so they’re built to be spacious and durable, it’s just a plus that they happen to have some really cute colors!  My personal favorite styles from Patagonia are the Refugio Backpack 26L and the Chacabuco Backpack 28L, both of which include padded laptop sleeves, two water bottle pockets, “ultra soft” mesh back panels and shoulder straps, and multiple zipper compartments.  I’ve never had a Patagonia backpack but I have friends who’ve had them for years and love them.

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Thanks for reading!  Let me know what other Back to School posts you’d like to see in the coming weeks!

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Back to School Lookbook 2017

It’s crazy to think that I put together my first “Back to School Lookbook” post two years ago, yet here I am sharing another one today!  This one is always my favorite Back to School post to write each year, even though creating it usually requires me spending hours outside in the 80-90 (if not higher) degree heat taking pictures while wearing jeans.  If you’re interested in reading my last two “Back to School Lookbook” posts, you can find them here and here.  Now, enough with that sentimental blip, let’s get on with the post!

Showing off new clothing pieces is without a doubt one of my favorite parts of going back to school.  However, I often struggle with styling my new clothes in a way that I would deem “first week worthy.”  Hopefully the three looks in today’s post will help you find fun, creative ways to style the new pieces you’ve picked up this summer and rethink the way you style some of the basic closet staples you’ve been working with for years.  This is the second post in this year’s Back to School series, so be sure to check out my last Back to School themed post, “10 Things I Wish I Realized Before Sophomore Year of High School,” here if you haven’t already.  Okay okay, let’s look at these outfits already!

Comfortable and Casual

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This look is probably the most basic of the three I’m sharing today.  I styled a simple, soft striped tank with a tan cardigan, rolled up jeans, and a trendy pair of Nikes for a comfortable yet trendy look.  I accessorized with a few simple bracelets, my Kate Spade watch, Kendra Scott Danielle earrings, and a pearl necklace layered with a choker.  I adore this fun turquoise, rose gold, and white braided choker from Beach Bum Beads!  They’re an Instagram business, so you can check out their Instagram @beachbumbeads here and place an order with them through direct message.  This look would be super easy to recreate; layer a soft, comfy cardigan over a simple top with some jeans and sneakers (Converse, New Balances, Adidas Superstars, and Vans would all look great, just to name a few!).

top (similar) // cardigan (similar) // jeans // sneakers // choker (direct message the Instagram account linked to order and let them know I sent you!) // three pearl necklace // earrings // beaded bracelets (here and here) // MantraBand // Giving Key bangle // cross bracelet (similar) // watch (similar) // ring

A Light Sweater and A Denim Skirt

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If you read my “Trend Tracking” post on denim skirts (linked here), you already know that I love them.  I love this maroon one because it sticks to the trend but the color makes it a little more unique.  I wore it with a light v-neck sweater from H&M half tucked in along with my favorite pair of faux leather lace up sandals from Target.  I accessorized the look with some simple white and gold bracelets, a gold Kate Spade watch, thin gold hoop earrings, and a green beaded choker from Gia Designs.  I love this choker and definitely recommend checking Gia Designs out here for more nice looking yet inexpensive jewelry pieces.  Gia Designs is another Instagram business, so you can check out their Instagram @gia.designs here and place an order with them through direct message.  This look can be recreated with any denim skirt, a light sweater (you don’t want anything too thick yet, it’s still pretty hot out!), and a pair of lace up sandals.

sweater (no longer available in orange) // skirt // sandals // choker (custom order; direct message a picture of the choker from this post to @gia.designs on Instagram here to order it yourself!) // hoop earrings // beaded bracelets (here and here) // MantraBand // Giving Key bangle // cross bracelet (similar) // watch (similar) // ring

An Unbuttoned Button Down Over A Simple Dress

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Honestly I think this outfit has to be my favorite, it’s so simple and cute!  You could easily recreate this look yourself by throwing an unbuttoned flannel, oxford, or chambray button down (like the one I’m wearing) over a simple solid colored dress.  I’m wearing a plain black tank dress from Old Navy (that I must mention is so soft) with super flattering loose peplum-esque stitching a little above the waistline.  I paired that dress with an open chambray button down (also from Old Navy) and classic gold Jack Rogers sandals for an easy yet put together look.  I accessorized with a gold Kate Spade watch, some simple white and gold bracelets, Kendra Scott Danielle earrings, and a Kendra Scott Elisa pendant necklace layered with a fun turquoise bar necklace from Lexas Chic Boutique.  Lexas Chic Boutique has a ton of fun jewelry pieces, be sure to check them out here and use my code “FAITH15” for 15% off

dress (similar) // button down (similar) // sandals // turquoise bar necklace // pendant necklace // earrings // beaded bracelets (here and here) // MantraBand // Giving Key bangle // cross bracelet (similar) // watch (similar) // ring

Thanks for reading!  I hope this post has helped you gather some inspiration for your back to school looks!  Let me know in the comments which look of these three looks was your favorite!

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The chokers from Beach Bum Beads and Gia Designs as well as the necklace from Lexas Chic Boutique and the beaded bracelets from Sashka Co. featured in this post were sent to me in exchange for a feature in my blog.  However, all opinions are honest and my own.  I don’t feature products I don’t truly love!

10 Things I Wish I’d Realized Before Sophomore Year of High School

About a year ago, I shared my advice for high school freshmen (read the post here) and I got a ton of positive feedback on it.  You all also seemed to love my “Sixteen Things I’ve Learned by 16” post, so today I thought I’d share something that’s a bit of a combination of the two; “10 Things I Wish I’d Realized Before Sophomore Year of High School.”  If you ask me, sophomore year of high school is one of the most crucial when it comes to finding and accepting yourself.  You’ll start to see friendships unravel more so than freshman year and you’ll face a lot of tough decisions socially.  This is my first post in this year’s Back to School series and I’m honestly really excited to start this yearly series up again!  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly love the fact that summer’s ending, but back to school themed posts are so fun to write for y’all!  Find all of my Back to School posts from years past here.  I truly hope you get something out of this post and can use this knowledge this school year, whether you’re a high school sophomore or not.  Let’s get into the post!

1. If you truly love doing something, it’s worth fighting for.  No matter what other people think. – Maybe you have a blog that you’re passionate about, maybe you’re really into theatre, maybe you go to a ton of concerts because it’s where you feel the happiest.  Don’t let anyone take any of that away from you.  Just because someone else doesn’t like what you’re doing or expresses their disapproval of it doesn’t mean it’s bad for you.

2. You can’t always expect people to return the friendship you give them. – Sometimes it won’t matter how many things you invite someone to, how many hard things you’re there for them through, or how little you judge them when you feel like you completely had the right to, they might not return the favor.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let this hurt me and I wish I’d known to lessen my investments in certain friendships earlier.

3. It’s okay to miss a social event simply because you don’t want to go. – There will probably be Friday nights when you don’t feel like staying out late for the football game and that’s okay!  Your real friends won’t judge you for choosing to spend the night in hanging out with your family or just catching up on sleep.  Plus, there will be many, many social events in high school so you shouldn’t feel pressured to attend every single one if you don’t want to.

4. Own it.  Always. – Own your personality.  Own your appearance.  Own your hobbies.  Own your school work.  Take pride in everything you do and you’ll never have anything to be embarrassed of.

5. Ten years from now, most of your peers’ opinions of you won’t matter. – I’m not saying you should go wild because it doesn’t matter in the long run, you should keep in mind that you still have to live with the reputation you create for the next however many years.  However, you shouldn’t let the fact that a few of your peers think you’re “uptight” or “not cool enough” hurt your confidence.

6. If all you can talk about is grades and other people, you should get new friends. – Seriously, if you find yourself sitting at your lunch table and the only conversation you and your friends can hold is filled with complaints about grades and gossip of what so and so did over the weekend, you should start to get the idea that these aren’t good relationships.  Try to change the subject, but if it drifts back every time you might want to find some new friends because there should be far more positive and interesting things to talk about!

7. Wherever you are, be all there. – Think about it.  How much better of a friend would you be if you focused solely on listening, supporting, loving, and being there in the moment with your friends whenever you’re with them?  How much better would you be at chemistry if you only thought about chemistry as soon as you entered the classroom?  Be mindful of these things and start channeling your energy into whatever you’re there to do.

8. You get out whatever you put in. – This one feeds off of the last point a bit, but it’s such an important thing to remember.  Yes, there are people that can breeze through courses successfully without studying, but in most cases you’ll get the grade you work for.  This isn’t just true for grades either, it’s true in all aspects of life.  If you never hang out with a friend or aren’t there for them in times of need, you can’t expect them to have a clear schedule for you or to be there when you need them to be.  You can’t not read the Bible or go to church and expect to feel a remarkably close relationship with God.  It’s just not how life generally works.  I don’t know where I heard the quote “life doesn’t work unless you do,” but I’ve found that it’s so true.

9. At the end of the day, there’s going to be a God shaped hole.  You decide how you fill it. – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home feeling unsatisfied even though I got the grade, made the team, and hung out with so and so.  There’s always going to be this God shaped hole in our hearts, but we get to decide how we try to fill it.  You might stuff the space with extracurriculars, an AP course load, or a cute boyfriend, but nothing will fit quite right.  Only a close relationship with God will.

10. You need more than one best friend. – If your only best friend gets grounded for a month, who are you going to hang out with?  If you two get into a big fight, who will you talk to at school?  Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, make a few close gal pals that you know you can always count on individually.  I went through a bit of a dark time a while back because my closest friend was grounded for a couple months and I hardly had any plans the whole time.  Learn from me and don’t let that happen to you!

Thanks for reading!  I hope you’re able to take something away from this post!

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July Playlist 2017

Summer playlists are always my favorite.  I love listening to bright, happy songs in the summer time and there are a ton of upbeat songs on this month’s playlist!  I found a few of these songs through my favorite Spotify playlist, “Pop Chillout,” which I would definitely recommend listening to!  I recently saw Everything, Everything and I think I loved the soundtrack even more than I loved the movie.  I featured my favorite song from the soundtrack, “Let My Baby Stay,” in this month’s playlist, but you should give the rest of the soundtrack a listen too (find it on iTunes here)!  My absolute favorites from this playlist have to be “Green,” “Full Circle,” “Electric,” and “Circles.”  Let’s take a look at the rest of my July playlist!

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Tap on the name of a song below to listen to it on YouTube!

Green // Full Circle // Circles // Stay With You // Oceans Away // All My Life // Cleopatra // Sunshine // Showered // Complete // Let My Baby Stay // Be The One // Electric // Ritual // Bass Jam

(playlist background via Katy Smail)

Thanks for reading!  I hope you love all of these songs as much as I do!

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15 Ways to Fight Summer Boredom

Summertime is upon us, as I’m sure you’re well aware, and I couldn’t be happier.  With the arrival of summer I am always so happy to think about the possibilities.  Your summer might be packed with exciting travels or you might have a lot of fun plans with your friends in town.  However, if you don’t have a lot of plans, the sudden abundance of free time has the potential to quickly turn into boredom.  I absolutely hate feeling bored in the summer, so today I’m sharing fifteen summer boredom busters!  Let’s get started!

#1: Go to the pool.

Going to the pool is perhaps the most cliché, well known summer activity, but it can be a ton of fun!  Invite a friend and bring a deck of cards and some snacks to guarantee a few hours of classic summer fun.  Don’t forget to pack sunscreen!

#2: Take a little day trip.

If you have a beach, lake, or big city within a couple hours from you, grab a friend and hop in the car!  Charlotte and Asheville are fairly close to me and taking day trips to either of them is always super fun.  If you have a camera, be sure to bring it along, as well as some spending money for roadside snacks.

#3: Surprise a friend.

Imagine how cool it would be to return from a weeklong trip and find your best friend sitting in your driveway with a box of donuts.  Why not do this for yours?  You could use this same idea if you have a friend with a summer birthday or just want to surprise them for fun.

#4: Try a new sport.

Maybe one of your friends plays lacrosse, why not go to their house and play with them? I’m sure they’d be happy to give you some lessons on the basics.  It’s always fun to try something new and this is a great way to get some exercise with a friend!

#5: Try a DIY.

DIY videos are all over YouTube, so pick out one you like and try it yourself!  The DIY might be for room decor, clothing, or a gift.  What better time to give it a try than now?

#6: Read a book.

If you’re anything like me, you have practically no time during the school year for just-for fun reading.  Take advantage of your free time and read a book you’re interested in or have heard a lot about.  This summer I’m going to read Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, a book that I’ve seen all over Instagram over the past few years and am super excited to read.

#7: Get a summer job/internship.

If you’re old enough and have a lot of time on your hands this summer, you should apply for a summer job!  Think of a place near you that you visit frequently, have a passion for, or just enjoy being at.  See if they’re applying by checking their website or asking an employee next time you go.  Summer is also a great time to get an internship, these look great on college applications!  Think of a business near you that aligns with what you think you want to study in college and shoot them an email!

#8: Find a few blogs you like and read them consistently.

Not only do I love blogging, but I love reading blogs too.  You can find blogs about just about anything, including recipes, book reviews, fashion, exercise, school, short stories, music, politics, the list goes on.  Once you find a blogger you enjoy reading from you’ll look forward to every post, a lot like you look forward to a new episode of your favorite TV show or a new video from your favorite YouTuber.  A few of my favorite blogs are A Sunny State of Mind, Lonestar Southern, Kelly in the City, The College Prepster, The Road Les Traveled, and Live the Prep Life.

#9: Start a VSCO and become dedicated to it.

Okay, this one probably sounds silly considering the majority of girls have a VSCO, but this can also be so much fun!  Use your camera or iPhone and get a little artsy.  Make your VSCO something you’re really proud of as a “photographer.”  I’ve recently gotten super into VSCO and I love the way mine looks right now, check it out here!

#10: Go on a picnic.

Stop by the farmers’ market, pick up some fancy snacks, and go with a friend to a pretty outdoor area near you (this could be a mountaintop, middle of a field, park, or even your backyard!).  Be sure to bring a camera because picnics are so photogenic.

#11: Go camping in your backyard.

Set up a tent in your backyard, take a lot of blankets, flashlights, and snacks, and camp out with a friend or sibling!  Take it to another level and leave your phone inside to truly enjoy each other’s company.

#12: Tie-dye shirts.

Everyone knows how to tie-dye, plus it’s super cheap and tie-dye is super trendy right now!  Invite a bunch of friends over and tie-dye shirts together!  You don’t have to stop at tee shirts either, socks are also super tie-dye-able.

#13: Have a movie night with friends.

Rent a chick flick and have your gal pals over for a fun movie night!  Pop a ton of popcorn, make cookies, and bring out a ton of blankets for maximum fun.

#14: Go to a workout class.

I’m not really a huge workout person, but I love going to Zumba with my friends!  If you’re a member of a local gym (my family has a YMCA membership), you should try out a fun workout class this summer!  I highly recommend Zumba because I find it super fun (mainly because I’m terrible at dancing and it’s hilarious) but there are many other fun options like yoga and spin class that sound great too!

#15: Try new recipes.

I’m sure you’ve seen a ton of cool recipes you’d like to try on social media like Pinterest, Buzzfeed, and YouTube during the school year, but never had the time.  Now’s the time to try them out!  Master making those crazy snacks so you can easily make them for your friends and family during the school year.

That’s all for today, I hope these fun activities help cure your summer boredom!  Thanks for reading!

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June Playlist 2017

Today I’m sharing my first playlist since school has been out, and boy am I excited!  I love listening to music in the summer and I think I’ve found a ton of songs y’all will love.  While I was at Frontier Ranch (watch my video here), the band Sawyer played at club everyday.  I absolutely loved seeing them there and have since been listening to them nonstop.  “The Last Thing,” “Nashville,” and “Ten Feet Tall” are three of my favorite songs by Sawyer and they’re included in this playlist.  My absolute favorite songs this month have to be “Sixteen,” “You (Evan Berg Remix),” “Drew Barrymore,” and “All My Friends.”  Enjoy!

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Tap on the name of a song below to listen to it on YouTube!

Sixteen // You (Evan Berg Remix) // The Last Thing // Say It (Illenium Remix) // Phone Down (TELYKast X BKAYE Remix) // Drew Barrymore // All My Friends // Corners of the Earth // Love$ick // Nashville // Echoes // Ten Feet Tall // Divinity // Sleepless // Step Down (CRNKN Remix)

(playlist background via Kate Spade)

Thanks for reading!

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