Save Money on Dorm & Home Decor

Thanks to Groupon for sponsoring today’s post!

Whether you’re getting ready for going back to campus or getting your home ready for fall, saving money feels good! One of my secrets is getting great deals on Groupon.

save money on dorm decorHere are my favorite Groupon Goods categories for major deals on home design. You can save money on dorm decor essentials too if you or someone you know is heading back to college soon.

  • Canvas prints. Displaying favorite photographs from my travels like the one in the photo above is one of my go-to ways to decorate walls. Groupon has deals as good as $5 for a 16 x 20 print! Even with $10 shipping that’s a better deal than you can find almost anywhere else.
  • Mattress toppers. Basic beds can be transformed with a high quality mattress topper, and these deals can save serious cash.
  • Cute area rugs. The rug in the photo above I purchased in college to brighten up my room. They can make a small space seem more homey, or give a new look to a room in your home.
  • Throw pillows. This is another fast, inexpensive way to bring a new look into a space. Check out the emoji pillows available now on Groupon for the texting millennial in your life!

Another trick is to check Groupon Coupons for deals like percentages off at websites I regularly shop at. How are you saving money on decor this fall?

Meet My Blogging Theta Sisters

As almost any blogger will tell you, one of the perks of blogging is meeting other creative individuals who love curating content as much as you. Some of the people I’ve met through blogging are my sorority sisters too from around the country. I’m introducing these Kappa Alpha Theta bloggers in today’s post!

Kappa Alpha Theta Bloggers

tulips-white-jeansThe Coastal Confidence

Aubrey Yandow is a University of San Diego graduate and the creator of The Coastal Confidence, a website & store that encompasses her New England rooted lifestyle. The meaning behind The Coastal Confidence brand stems from her bi-coastal experience and her passion to relate to and inspire young women to embrace their confidence and push themselves towards achieving success in their passion.

Perfect-fur-vest-outfit-for-fall-1080x1350Seattle Stylista

From outfit inspiration to heartfelt discussion on body image, Seattle Stylista is a life and style blog all about empowering women to live beautiful, authentic lives! Madeleine is a 2016 graduate of Washington State University.

sorority bloggersThe Scalloped Edge

Victoria is a junior at John Hopkins. “My blog’s mission is to encourage girls to present their best self, whether it be in fashion, academics, or just life in general! By focusing on personal development, organization, confidence and style, girls really have the ability to conquer the world. Of course, Greek life has helped me so much with this, and I love sharing my journey and tips and tricks that I learn along the way.”

May McNeilThe PDX Belle

May McNeil is a recent graduate of Randolph-Macon College. She says “The PDX Belle is a fashion & lifestyle blog designed to be a place for young women to hang out and feel inspired – to try on new clothes, hit the gym, save some money, or travel the world. I curate an upbeat, open-minded atmosphere that is influenced by an east-meets-west coast vibe –  and I don’t take myself too seriously.”

Texas Sweet TeaTexas Sweet Tea

“I’m Sarah and I go to the University of Alabama so you’ll see me mention that a lot. I mean how could I not when we have 16 national championships (roll tide)! Although I write posts on just about anything, I mainly post about fashion and lifestyle. I have quite a few posts about my own personal Greek life experience as well.”

For a wider selection of sorority bloggers from more affiliations, check them out here.

Kappa Alpha Theta bloggers

All photos are copyright of the bloggers and are used here with their permission.

Pick Your Own Berries Season

What to wear berry pickingSummer isn’t complete until I’ve gone blueberry picking at least once. Maybe it’s because I grew up near a pick-your-own berry farm, or more likely because there’s no other food in the world I like quite as much as blueberries. There’s also just something so rewarding about being involved in procuring the berries you eat and seeing the land where it’s grown.

The season varies every year for blueberry picking, because the crops are sensitive to moisture and temperature changes. I’ve been picking in the Pacific Northwest as early as June and in Wisconsin as late as August. Some years there hasn’t been a crop at all, which is disappointing to say the least!

The general rule for the Midwest is early summer strawberries, mid summer blueberries and late summer raspberries. So not to worry if you’ve missed strawberries and blueberries where you live, there might still be raspberries on the horizon.

Here’s what I’ve learned from years of faithful berry picking.

what to wear berry pickingWhat to wear berry picking

When choosing what to wear berry picking, consider clothing that you don’t mind getting stained. Blue and black clothes for blueberry picking work out well. Pants or shorts are ideal because picking berries can require crouching and sitting on the ground.

A hat to keep the bugs and sun off your face. Need hat inspiration? Here are three of my  favorites, at different price points:

What to bring:

Bug spray.

A cooler with a tray and/or container to transport your berries home in.

Cash, as some berry farms don’t take credit cards.

A small child or two. Berry picking is a fun activity for little ones, so give the kids in your life a chance to learn about farming, food production and nature if you can!

What to leave at home:

Your pets! Most farms don’t allow dogs.

Picking baskets and buckets. The farm will supply these, though you can bring your own if you prefer.

What to know:

Call ahead! Most berry farms are small family operations that will close if they get picked out or if there’s inclement weather. Before you drive way out into the country, confirm that the farm will be open when you get there.

Not all farms are pesticide free, so do your research ahead of time if you prefer organic produce.

what to wear berry pickingWhere to pick:

Find farms near you at pickyourown.org.

What berries are in season near you?

Madame Alexander Doll Convention

To celebrate the theme of “Shall We Dance,” my Irish dance group was invited to perform at the 2016 Madame Alexander Doll Convention in Minneapolis. You didn’t know there was a convention? Me either! There are people who love the classic Madame Alexander dolls so much that they come from all over the U.S to attend a convention. These people love dolls. A lot.

The Madame Alexander Doll Convention

This was a really fun event to observe and be part of, even just for the short duration of our dance show. We performed during the dinner hour, and the entertainment was a surprise to the attendees.

Every table had a centerpiece with a doll in an Irish dance costume spinning around. Not too surprisingly there were a lot of dolls in the place, period. Everyone there was incredibly nice and it was fun to see people following their interests and getting to know others with the same hobby.

After, the other dancers said, “this is right up your alley.” “You’re going to write an article about this, aren’t you?” They know me well.

So I decided to do a little research on these dolls.

Who is Madame Alexander?

On a quest to learn more, I unearthed some interesting tidbits from the Madame Alexander website. Some highlights:

  • Madame Beatrice Alexander was a real person who founded the company in 1923.
  • She was the child of Russian immigrants and was raised over her father’s doll hospital in Brooklyn. She often played with the dolls in the hospital and was inspired to start her own doll company at age 28.
  • Today, the product line has expanded to include more than just collectible dolls. There are larger dolls for toddlers and soft dolls for infants.
  • Madame Alexander is a master of disguise, known for her many costumes such as Cat Woman, the Wizard of Oz and yes, even Frozen.
  • You can join the doll club for $45 per year and attend events like the annual convention that I danced at with Mactir Academy of Irish Dance.

Madame Alexander Doll ConventionMy mom has one from her childhood, so I asked her to take it out so I could add photos of it to this post. She’s pictured above. And of course I need to share the paper doll version of Mme. Alex:

Madame Alexander Doll Convention

Are these dolls part of your life? If you have more information on her to share, I’d love to hear from you.

Uncommon Gifts

uncommon giftsToday I’m sharing one of my favorite gifts ever, which came from my uncle. It’s a make-your-own tea sampler that lets you mix and match different flavors of green tea and herbs to come up with flavors you love. It’s from the online shop Uncommon Goods, which is a great source for birthday gifts for people who are hard to shop for. And you can make a registry there too for wedding or baby shower gifts.

The products are made my craftsmen and small business owners. I like this because it means the goods are high quality and each purchase supports the artists. In addition to handmade products, there are also organic and recycled choices. I feel good supporting this company for all these reasons, plus the fact that it uses environmentally friendly practices in everything from the catalogs to its workplace.

I chose some gifts ideas from Uncommon Goods to highlight. There are so many great uncommon gifts that it is almost impossible to choose favorites!

1. Box of Flowers Soaps Made from pure ingredients and dried flowers, this is a fun twist on high quality soap.

2. Himalayan Salt Plank Perfect for someone who loves to grill, this beautiful block of salt seasons the food it’s served on while looking amazing.

3. Reclaimed Wine Barrel Serving Tray Upcycled oak wine barrel staves are transformed into this unique tray, giving it a unique and vintage look.

4. Trophy Head Wouldn’t this look great at the cabin? Celebrate nature without harming any animals!

5. State Cheese Slate Adorable and functional! Slate cheese boards can be written on with chalk to specify the which cheese is which.

6. Hand Embroidered Country Pillows This brings back memories from my own trip to Italy seven years ago. I bet it would be a great gift for anyone who has a favorite place to travel.

7. Envelope Wall Vase Add this to the list of things you didn’t know you needed until you found out that it existed.

8. Letters to My Future Self Did you make time capsules growing up? This is a time capsule to yourself! I picked this one because anything airmail always seems to make its way into my gift guides.

9. Banyan Leaf Table Lamp This one makes the list because of my childhood favorite book Tales Told Under the Banyan Tree. Also because of its recycled materials and organic dyes. Plus it just looks plain awesome.

10. Personalized Travel Map This is marketed as a wedding gift, and it would be a great one. But it could be used for a family or a single person’s travel’s too. Just think of the satisfaction of placing a pushpin when you finally make it to that dream destination. Personalized gifts like this are always a nice gesture and the site has a lot to choose from!

11. Upcycled Sari Duffel Bag I love upcycled goods so it’s no surprise to find this one on my list. This colorful bag is handmade by a Fair Trade Cooperative in India. It reminds me of that time I wore a sari.

12. Literary Scarf Made by Storiarts, an Oregon company I am newly obsessed with, these scarfs have excerpts from your favorite books! Watch for a post about my own Storiarts scarf soon.

Thanks to Uncommon Goods for sponsoring today’s post! They have so many fun and unusual gifts that I could never fit them into one post. Which one is your favorite?

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