COLLEGE LIFE.

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How to Decorate Your Apartment: Wall Decor

With my move to New York City just a month and a half away, I have been searching the internet for apartment decor. With these searches, I am finding more than I can possibly fit into my little shoe-box sized apartment, so I want to share the wealth through a series of posts on my blog with great deals and styles to furnish your college or post grad apartment! Today’s post will be highlighting wall decor.

Poster from Modern Map Art

Where to Shop for Posters

Posters are one of my favorite forms of wall decor because they can show your personality and bring pops of color to dull, rental-unit white walls. I tend to find posters and prints from many different stores and am always rummage through the clearance racks to see if there are any fun finds.

Modern Map Art: This online shop is an amazing place to find quality prints that will highlight your hometown, favorite ski slope, or somewhere else meaningful. I love these because they are conversation starters. Every time someone sees my Stratton Mountain one, as pictured above, they ask me about it. Talking about my favorite ski slopes and all my great memories there is an added bonus to seeing the trail map everyday. In addition to personalizing your map by location, you can also pick any size to custom fit it to your space.

Disclaimer: Modern Map Art gifted me this print to review. All options are still my own though, as always! 

TJMaxx: Everyone knows I love TJMaxx. Great deals and great designs fill their aisles and you never know what you will find! A lot of my wall art comes from their clearance end caps.

Target: Another great store for affordable wall art, Target always has something quirky and fun!

TJMaxx Set of 4 Kelly Wall Mirrors

Source: TJMaxx Set of 4 Kelly Wall Mirrors

Where to Shop for Mirrors

Mirrors are wall art that is completely necessary for small spaces. Finding cool mirrors that can add some depth to a room is a great way to make your space seem larger. I love the sets of 3 or 4 small mirrors that can be placed above the side of a bed. I think they add a fun pop and often look fancier than they actually are.

TJMaxx: Consistently stocked with mirror sets for under $15, this is definitely my favorite place to shop for mirrors! HomeGoods also always has good options.

Where to Shop for Frames

Frames mean you can make your own wall art! Recently, when I travel, I have been trying to take lots of good photos of the landscapes and architecture to print out and frame for my own gallery wall.

Dollar Tree: Frames don’t come cheaper than one dollar! Dollar Tree has many options and can be upgraded with a little paint and some bedazzling.

At Home: Recently, I discovered the world of At Home. They have easily 3 aisles of cute and basic frames at great prices.

Source: Target Oh Joy! Dotty String Lights

Source: Target Oh Joy! Dotty String Lights

Where to Shop for String Lights

Another great decoration for small spaces is string lights. They brighten up the room and give a happy, romantic illusion. While I love the plain white string lights, recently I have been looking at some more fun options that can double as wall decor and lighting.

Target: Target is pretty much my one stop shop. Their string lights come in many shapes, colors, and styles.

Amazon: We all know the wonders of Amazon. If you’re willing to spend time digging throguh the search results you can find some amazing deals!

MY GOAL

As always on Sophistication and Sparkles, my goal is to help you get the most out of life during your college years and early twenties. That includes deocrating your new apartments on a budget without sacrificing style! I hope that this post gave you an idea of how you can find better deals.

~ALANA ROBIN

How to Make Money Off Your Closet

Spring cleaning might be over, but if you’re like me, graduating from college and moving to a new city, it is only beginning. As someone with a tendency to hoard things, I have trouble letting go to that hot pink Kate Spade handbag that I haven’t worn since Freshmen year. Not anymore! I have found a few amazing ways to make money off the items in my closet.

Now I have some free space, extra cash, and a lot less to move to my soon-to-be tiny New York City apartment.

Where to Sell Designer Items: Poshmark

The Poshmark app is incredibly easy to use and perfect to sell any items that were originally $50 or more.

Shoppers can make offers on your items, comment questions, and even bundle for discounts. My favorite part of this interaction is also that you can make counteroffers and see what your earnings would be every step of the way.

If an item sells for under $15, they keep $2.95. If you sell for over $15, they keep 20%. I have found this to be fair and honestly less than most consignment shops where you have the hassle of going in person and not being able to market your goods.

I have made five sales so far and could not be happier. When an item sells, you are emailed a shipping label. You print it and mail the item. It is literally that easy!

Check out my Poshmark Closet!

Where to Sell Fast Fashion: Plato’s Closet

I love Forever 21 and H&M as much as the next girl, but do not have the patience to try to resell a $15 item on Poshmark. The amount you would make is not worth the hassle, in my opinion, so I love Plato’s Closet! You can bring in literal trashbags full of clothing items and they choose what they want.

In my experience, they offer $2-$8 depending on the item and condition of it. While they can be somewhat picky about wear, I find that these rates are great to get rid of those items that you just do not wear frequently.

MY GOAL

As always on Sophistication and Sparkles, my goal is to help you get the most out of life during your college years and early twenties. That includes making money back on items that are sitting around clogging up your closet! I hope that this post gave you an idea of how you can sell some of your items and turn your closet into your bank!

~ALANA ROBIN

Create a Healthy Lifestyle in 21 Days

I’ve heard it said that it takes 21 days to create a habit. So after continuously hearing my vegetarian friends talk about how they had to make sure they ate enough protein in a day, I decided I should start thinking about what I eat each day and put a little more effort into living a healthy lifestyle.

I have always thought about making a healthy choice when eating or picking between two options, but I never actively thought about the variety of foods I was putting into my body in a 24 hour period. With only a limited amount of time standing between me and “adulthood” (aka college graduation), I decided it was time to make a change for the better.

Why You Should Track Your Food for 21 Days

Each meal, I opened the “MyFitnessPal” app to log the ingredients within my meal. After I log them, I view the nutrients in each item. While its good to sometimes see the calorie count, seeing the nutrients is far more important and calories can be misleading.

At the end of the first day, I looked to see where I was at. My carbohydrate, cholesterol, and sodium intakes were above the suggested goal. The following day, my cholesterol, fat, and vitamin A & C intakes were above the suggested goal. That confirmed my belief that I had no idea what I was eating, so I decided to start looking at the nutrients in food before eating it and make active decisions about what to eat.

What a Typical Day of Eating Now Looks Like For Me

Breakfast

  • Light and Fit Greek Yogurt: High in Protein!
  • Coffee with 1 TBSP of Creamer: Creamers not great for you, so moderation is key. I used to just dump in a lot…now I make an effort to not have more than I need.

Or

  • Half a Bagel with 1 TBSP of Peanut Butter: for days when it will be awhile until lunch, I eat this for a more filling breakfast!

Lunch

  • Soup or a Sandwich: I eat lunch on campus, so now I try to go easy on a sauce (pesto, not pesto mayo) and choose a lighter multigrain bread option instead of a sub roll. Small choices make a difference in your overall health!

Dinner

  • Stir Fry: 1 Cup of Brown Rice, 3 Oz. Tofu, 1 Cup of Brussel Sprouts, canned corn, canned black beans with soy or teriyaki sauce. I mix up which veggies I use and sometimes use chicken breast or quinoa, but this is a great meal! The rice makes it filling with a bit of a carbohydrate, but the other ingredients are wonderful for protein and various vitamins.

Snacks

I try to eat only two or three of the following snacks each day:

  • Skinny Popcorn
  • Peanut Butter and a Banana
  • Oreos (just one or two!)
  • Annies Cheddar Bunnies
  • GoMacro Bars

Cheat Foods That Aren’t Cheats

La Croix: I like soda and juice. Its a fact. But the chemicals in soda and the sugars in juice mean one cup of OJ is all I can really let myself have each day. La Croix is perfect for when I’m craving a fruity or bubbly beverage because it is all natural and sugar free.

Chocolate Rice Cakes: These are great when you need your chocolate fix because they are a bit filling and super delicious with chocolatey goodness.

Pick the Right Snacks to Bring to Campus

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One struggle to a balanced diet for me is that I am consistently reaching for snacks on campus that aren’t as good for me as I thought. Recently, GoMacro reached out to me and offered me some of their bars to sample. It is safe to say, I am extremely impressed. Their goal is to not sacrifice taste for nutrition, which I am all about! Especially since I have been working on improving my own overall nutrition.

My favorite flavor is the Sunny Uplift. Like the name says, it is the perfect pick me up during days when I have classes for 5 hours and need something to hold me over until my late lunch. Their bars are vegan, gluten free, soy free, organic, and all around delicious. I would highly recommend the protein bars if you find that your diet could use some extra nutrients!

Shop their whole collection, or check out the new line of vegan bars!

The Key to Success

This post is not about minimizing the number of calories you eat to lose weight fast. This post is about watching what you eat to make healthier, but still realistic, decisions in what you eat each day. For me, tracking my food has helped me to find out whats actually in the foods I am eating and where I can get my nutrients from, like the GoMacro bars. In addition, it has helped me to eliminate “bored snacking” aka when I take a study break and mindlessly eat whatever is on my shelf.

~Alana Robin

Goals for 2017 Success!

After a few weeks at home de-stressing from a long semester, I was thrilled to ring in 2017 last night! Now that the year has started it is time to set some goals for 2017. For the past couple of years, I have been setting goals to accomplish in 2017 instead of resolutions. I find goals easier to accomplish! Unlike resolutions, you can break a goal, so there’s no giving up. Some of my goals I am 99% sure I will accomplish, but others are harder.

Milestone Goals for 2017

  • Graduate from College
  • Move to New York City
  • Start my Career

Travel Goals for 2017

  • Go to at least 3 states I have never been
  • Travel Europe and try new foods along the way

Fitness Goals for 2017

  • Run a 5K without stopping to walk
  • Run a 10K (let’s be real- I will have to stop and walk a bit)
  • Complete a Sprint Triathlon (Swim 0.5 mi, Bike 12.4 mi, Run 3.1 mi)
  • Go to the gym/run everyday for 1 month

Foodie Goals for 2017

  • Develop 3 creative (and filling!) salad recipes for the blog
  • Go one month without Pizza (I love pizza. This will be very difficult.)
  • Try one new restaurant every week for a month
  • Go two weeks without eating out (I know I won’t be able to do a month)

Financial Goals for 2017

  • Save 3 months worth of expenses in an emergency fund
  • Don’t buy anything but food for one month (gotta curb that shopping obsession)
  • Keep track of my budgets each month

I encourage you all to set some goals for yourself and check them off this year. They are a great way to stay motivated and be the best you!

Throughout the year, I will be coming back to this post to give updates and will also be posting about some of my accomplishments as full posts! Stay tuned and let me know what your major goals are in the comments.

~Alana Robin