10 things you most definitely need to bring to college

Monday, August 21, 2017
I can't believe it but Tuesday of this week is the first day of school for students at UNC. That means two years since my last FDOC – blegh. That makes me feel elderly. But I always loved the first day of school, really the first week of school, since I was a little girl.

My list might be a little bit late... but I have a few recommendations for you, if you still have time to run to Target before your school year really gets going.

1. A throw blanket. I honestly cannot tell you how awful the temperature situation will be in your dorm room. I lived in a suite-style and shared one bathroom and one air conditioning/heat unit with three other girls, and one of those girls wanted to keep it cold, the other wanted to keep it very warm, and the other girl and I were moderately normal. When it is absolutely freezing inside and/or outside, having a fuzzy throw blanket is a lifesaver. I might even recommend a heated blanket if you live somewhere with cold winters.

2. An air freshener, candle warmer or diffuser. Your dorm room is going to smell funky. And when your next door neighbors get Indian takeout, it is going to smell funkier. And when someone burns popcorn down the hall, you're going to want to drop out of school. You can't burn candles, so I recommend having a candle warmer or a diffuser (or both!) to kill the smell. A diffuser would be an extra bonus, of course, because essential oils have so many benefits.

3. Picture frames – empty ones! You definitely want to have pictures of your friends, family and pets to surround you in your new home. But bring a few empty frames to fill with pictures of experiences you have once college gets started or with prints and inspirational quotes to get you pumped for your final exams.

4. An air mattress. You can get a twin-size air mattress on Amazon for not too much, and if you expect to have friends visit you during the school year, I definitely recommend buying an air mattress. I remember sharing my twin bed with a friend and even though I am down for snuggling any time, it's always nice to have your own space.

5. An iron or clothing steamer. I stored a ton of clothes in drawers or in containers under my bed because I brought way too much to school my first year. So I highly recommend having an iron or a clothing steamer on hand in case you need to wear a dress to an event and it's been balled up in the bottom of a plastic container for a month.

6. One or two sets of dress clothes – a suit, a dress and blazer, etc. Yes. I cannot emphasize this enough. You're definitely going to have dresses and other outfits for parties and fun events, but you definitely want some clothes to wear to potential internship or job interviews or other professional events. Even as a first-year, you want to be thinking about internships and jobs!

7. A planner. Obviously, I am a huge proponent of planners in general, but I can't think of a more crucial reason to have a planner than for college. Seriously. Google Calendar is nice and all, and it will get you far in life, but when your professor bans laptops (and they all do!) and then tells you about an assignment that you absolutely cannot forget, you do not want to be betting on your memory that you remember to put it in your phone's calendar later.

8. Your own printer. I decided to get a small printer for something like $25 once I got to college and it was the best. idea. ever. Most schools give their students printer money or free printing, and there are printing stations across campus, sometimes even in dorms. But when you have five minutes to get out of your dorm and run to class before you fail, you definitely want to be able to print while you brush your teeth, and not have to make a pitstop on the way.

9. Rainboots, a rain jacket and an umbrella. Oh and a waterproof backpack. All four are necessary. I started college with just an umbrella. I was an idiot. Honestly, I never realized how much it rains in the world until I went to college and had to walk everywhere. Buy a quality pair of rain boots because they will be your main choice of footwear at least 50% of the time, a raincoat with a hood that isn't too thick (because it will rain when it is 102 degrees outside, too, and you can layer in the winter) and an umbrella that won't break on the first use (or cut your finger open before you have to go into a meeting for the student newspaper, so you end up bleeding all over the keyboard. OK. Not a common college experience.)

10. A coffee pot or electric tea kettle. Buy a little Keurig in a cute color or an electric kettle. I'm not embarrassed to say that I used my Keurig to boil water to make Ramen noodles. Hot water is essential, even if you don't drink that much coffee. 1) You'll start drinking coffee or tea once you get to college and 2) Ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese cups are essential.


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That's my list of college essentials! Of course, you need things like sheets, pillows, a lamp, a shower caddy, towels, shower shoes, etc. but I hope you haven't made it all the way to the day before FDOC without some of those things. 

If you're starting college this month or in the near future, good luck! I didn't appreciate college at all my first two years, but now that I've been out of college for two years, I really do miss a lot of the things that I got to experience there. Even more so now that I'm living in my college town again! 

What did I miss? 

recipe: try this super easy (and delicious!) sausage ranch quiche

Wednesday, August 16, 2017
Happy Wednesday! Today, I'm trying out this recipe that I stumbled upon on Pinterest.

I did not create this recipe but always want to highlight really delicious, easy and affordable recipes for y'all. Remember also that I do not use ingredients in recipes that I wouldn't commonly use – so, for this recipe, I use milk instead of heavy cream (and the recipe said this was OK). I also hate salt and pepper so you won't find those in my recipe attempts, either.

Also, the best thing about this recipe: If you don't want ranch, leave it out. If you'd rather use ham and cheddar, do that. The basic structure is the same, but the fillings are up to you. You can fill it with spinach and mushrooms or any other vegetable – really, whatever you want.


• 1 (9-inch) frozen deep dish pie crust
• 8-oz sausage
• 1/2 cup Ranch dressing
• 1/2 cup shredded cheese
• 3 eggs
• 1 cup milk


1. Preheat the oven to 350º.

2. Cook and drain the sausage.

3. Mix the Ranch dressing with the cooked, drained sausage. Crumble the mixture on the bottom of the pie crust and top with shredded cheese.

4. Whisk 3 eggs and milk together in a mixing bowl. Pour on top of the sausage and cheese.

5. Bake in the oven for one hour, then let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Hey, how do I know when a quiche is done? Well, I Googled that for you. Quickly move your quiche from side to side without burning your hand on the pan; if the middle doesn't move or quiver, it's done. You can also insert a knife into the center of the quiche; if it comes out clean, it's done. And then you can check it with a meat thermometer; it should be hotter than 165º but under 185º. 


I'll be honest, I threw away my receipt by accident, so I am guessing a little, with help from my Harris Teeter flyer. I didn't buy store brand anything but I am using store brand guestimates. Bear with me.

• 1 frozen deep dish pie crust – $2 (bought in a pack of two for $3.99)
• 8 oz. breakfast sausage - (I use Smithfield's because it's local and usually on sale, while Jimmy Dean is not.) – $2 (I bought a 16 oz. package, and I think it was around $4.)
• Ranch dressing –  $0.75
• Shredded cheese –  $0.75
• 3 eggs - $0.30
• 1 cup milk - $0.20

Servings (for us): 4

We each ate a fourth of the quiche for dinner, and then I ate it for lunch the next two days. It microwaved fabulously! If you serve it with a side, which we did not, you could probably double the serving count.

Cost per serving: $1.50

on my radar: here's what I'm loving and recommending this week

Friday, August 11, 2017
It's been a totally wacky week in the Ladisic-James-Theo household. Patrick has been running like crazy all over, and as soon as he stops running, I start. I'm heading to Oak Island for the weekend to help my mom with her Lularoe one-year anniversary celebration – yay! – and see my stepdad, who had a pretty rough week. Then once I get back, I'll dive into launching one of our newsrooms on Monday morning. At least it's just a short drive away this time, not a six-hour flight, but still. It's going to be a busy week!

Here's what I am loving and recommending this week.

I do use affiliate marketing in this post, but only to feature items and products that I really love! If you click on a link and/or make a purchase, I'll make a little money on my end – but really, is that so bad?

1. Every single home decor item Target sells. Seriously. I don't know what Target does to read into my mind and know exactly what I want to buy for our apartment, but somehow, they know. I love gold, brushed metal and marble, and my favorite colors are navy, grey and white – Target speaks to my soul.

2. Jon and Dany. If you've been watching Game of Thrones, you knew the episode was coming where Jon and Dany met. But were you waiting for them to fall madly in love? That is coming, I promise you. Yeah, yeah, yeah, they're related. But honestly, I'm pretty sure everyone on Game of Thrones is related. I'm not here to judge when the two most beautiful people on television are going to fall in love before our eyes.

3. Our new key + leash hanger from Etsy seller MemorEase. Isn't this the cutest?! We've pretty much always put our keys in a basket or a bowl or just on top of a table or shelf, but I wanted a hanger to make it a little easier for us to keep Theo's leash untangled and so I didn't lose my keys every 3 seconds. I am LOVING this! I just hung it up yesterday and it's been fabulous.

4. I consider myself the QUEEN of snack food on any day, and I especially love these Lay's Poppables. My favorite are the cheddar but the sea salt are pretty darn good, too. They taste like potato chips but are extra crispy and delicious. Don't judge me but Theo also enjoys them.

5. I've started making my own cold brew coffee at home. I use this cold brew coffee maker that I snagged on Amazon for under $25 (steal!). I'm still figuring out exactly how to master it so it's not too strong (my first batch was a little strong for my taste, so I had to temper it with extra milk and sugar) but it makes 2-4 cups of iced coffee (depending on the size of my caffeine craving that day, and my cup) and I just have to leave it in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. It's perfect!


What are you loving this week?

the 3 things I will splurge on (and 5 things I won't!)

Thursday, August 10, 2017
I work really hard on keeping myself to a budget – and it's not easy, because I get pulled in by J. Crew Factory's 40 percent off clearance sales like a moth to a light – and I got to thinking in the car back from Theo's vet appointment on Tuesday, "What are the things in my life that I consider worth splurging on, and what will I not splurge on?"



Hands down, Theo is worth all of my money in the world. I don't even want to think about how much money we've spent on this little guy since we got him, but it is beyond worth it. He is my precious child! The vet and I were going over the pricing for little man getting fixed this month, and every time she said, "This is optional but recommended" or "This is optional but makes them a little more comfortable" or "This is optional but some people like the extra reassurance" I said, "Yes. Please. All of the above." I will do whatever I can to make sure my little guy is happy and healthy.


I love buying gifts. Always have, always will, and I am known for going above and beyond for my loved ones. Patrick and I tried to limit each other to four gifts this past Christmas; I'm pretty sure I bought upwards of ten and tried to pass six of them off as stocking stuffers. It was a very large stocking. ;) I enjoy buying things for myself, sure, but honestly, there is nothing better in the world than buying a gift for someone.


From high school through college, I always got my hair cut at Great Clips – on the rarest of rare occasions that I got my hair cut at all. Now that I'm grown and ever since the first time I got it cut and colored by a real stylist at a real salon last fall, I am totally spoiled. I won't spend hundreds and hundreds on my hair every couple of weeks – I go every six to eight weeks for a cut or trim and Balayage color – but I will finally treat it the way I want it to look. I also have finally started buying quality shampoo that isn't full of chemicals and icky stuff that cause buildup in my hair. It's not cheap, but my hair loves me for it.



I love clothes. I mean, I really LOVE clothes, and I love having dozens of things to choose from in my closet. Let me assure you, I shop plenty. But I shop sales almost exclusively and worship outlet and factory stores. I use Shein and Amazon for my fast fashion trend pieces, and I ask for staple wardrobe necessities as gifts. I am sure that a time will come (or at least, that would be nice) where I can splurge on clothes from time to time, but right now, it's not worth it and I have no interest in it.


OK, yes, I did say I will spend anything necessary for Theo's health and happiness. Except for dog toys. Theo can and will destroy anything, so you won't see me buy new toys from Petco or Petsmart or a designer pet store (even though I do love those) for this vicious sabertoothed floof. Especially when you can snag amazing deals on dog toys at TJ Maxx, Marshalls or HomeGoods. (HomeGoods has THE BEST pet aisle.) My favorite toy brands are GoDog and Kong – I can get a toy that would be $12+ in a pet store for half that or less. 


I have very few brand allegiances – at least, not until I get burned. I almost always buy store brand or whatever brand is on sale in almost every occasion. Like I said, we got burned by store brand bottled water once, so we buy whatever name brand is cheapest or has the best sale, and there are a few other items where I won't buy a store brand anymore. But for the most part, I am super thrifty in the grocery store. Mom is helping me buy really nice spices from Penzey's, but that's about as much as I'll splurge on right now. And again, that's a gift!


I know, I know, I know. I am an avid reader, and I most certainly do purchase books – and often! But if I bought every book I read in a month, I'd be spending anywhere from $100 to $200 a month just on books. No thank you. I also preorder books that I'm excited about on Amazon, so I can get the best deal. (Sorry, local bookstores. I'm sorry. I love you!) I am a little wary of used books but I do always attend the Chapel Hill Library's quarterly big book sale to stock up on light reads that I can donate after I finish them. 


I love notebooks and pens more than anyone else in this world, but I refuse to buy a Leuchtterm 1917 notebook for my bullet journals – or any other high-priced office supply. Moleskine cahiers – an affordable, soft-cover version of Moleskine notebooks – are far more up my alley. If I can find a good sale, a coupon code or have a gift card, I might treat myself – that's how I got my Staedtler fineliners, for example. I go through office supplies so quickly – and have a pretty big stock of stuff already that I need to use up – that it's just not worth spending big bucks on anything. I used to always spend upwards of $50 on a planner every year, but I've almost entirely switched to a combo of Google Calendar, Trello and my bullet journal – and two of the three of those are totally free!


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What are you willing to splurge on? And what do you save on?

how I'm changing my mornings to boost my productivity (+ a free routine printable!)

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Ever since I started my job last August (woah, LAST AUGUST?!) I have been trying to master my morning routine and be as productive as possible in the mornings. Let's be clear: It has not gone well. When I lived at home with my parents in the fall, it was a lot easier to wake up at a reasonable time, but I would get distracted with Lularoe or Daisy or talking to my mom instead of getting started on my day.

Now that Patrick is waking up and going into his office for work, I actually have something helping me get out of bed, too. I like to start my day with Patrick whenever I can, especially if he's going to be gone for a while, and I usually get his lunch ready and help him get his stuff together when I can.

What I want to avoid is what happened on Tuesday – I woke up late for Theo's vet appointment at 9 a.m., ran out of the house with Theo after showering super fast and throwing on clothes and didn't eat anything or drink any water before I got to the vet. My body reacts to dehydration and low blood sugar pretty dramatically – I am prone to fainting. I had a spell in the vet's office while the vet was doing Theo's bloodwork; thankfully, I had my sugar pills and got a cool, wet paper towel to put on my face until I started to feel like myself again. But if I was waking up on time and establishing a real morning routine, I would've eaten breakfast already and that would not have happened.

Here's what I want to integrate into my morning routine, so I am all warmed up mentally and ready to start my workday by 9:30 a.m.


• Pick out my clothes for the day, if I have somewhere I need to be or a call where people will see me
• Pack Patrick's lunch and make sure there is something in the kitchen for breakfast and lunch for me
• Clean up Theo's toys, the kitchen, the dining room table, the living room, etc.
• Plug in my computer, iPad and phone
• Put away any clean laundry
• Block out time commitments, meetings and other events in my bullet journal


• Wake up at 8 a.m.
• Shower, brush my teeth and get dressed before 9:30 a.m.
• Open the blinds and make the bed
• Eat a protein-packed breakfast, not just a granola bar
• Start promoting my blog – posting in Facebook groups, scheduling my Facebook posts and Pins, shooting Instagram photos
• Read for 15 minutes while I eat breakfast


Want to download a printable to help you establish your morning routine? Follow this link!

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recipe: the best pasta salad ever (and it will only take you 20 minutes!)

Tuesday, August 08, 2017
I have taken it upon myself to make lunch for Patrick to take to work and for me to eat at home every day, so we can save that precious eating out money for dinner dates that we're looking forward to, instead of hurried trips to Panera or McAlister's just because we have no edible food in the house. Because I'm always juggling so many things – my full-time job, selling Lularoe with my mom, this blog and my accompanying Instagram, just to name a few – I am really into the idea of meal-prepping on Sundays and having everything figured out for me for the rest of the week.

Because Patrick and I are superbly picky, a lot of meal prep recipes that are super popular on Pinterest and other apps take themselves out of the running. I also don't like things that have lots of ingredients, especially ingredients that I won't use often, or spices, because my spice collection is kind of sad and I'm working on building that up with quality spices, instead of buying cheap versions here and there when we can. And then, the big recipe killer – at this moment in time, I do not have a crockpot!

So, that leaves us hungry and eating sad lunches at our respective desks. Well. Until I found this amazing pasta salad recipe on Buzzfeed's Tasty app. (Which is amazing, by the way.)

I mixed the recipe up a little bit – here's my take to make an entire vat of pasta salad.

Note: I made a half-version of this recipe the first time and it was enough for four lunches. I doubled it to get a little bit more out of it, because Patrick loved it. 


• 1 lb bowtie pasta (you could probably use shells, penne, etc. but I like farfalle for this. it's fun!)
• 2 red bell peppers, diced
• 2 cups of shredded mozarella cheese
• 1 cup of diced turkey, ham or chicken (your preference)
• 1/2 cup of Italian dressing

1. Boil your pasta. This what takes a while.

2. While your pasta is boiling, dice your red bell peppers and turkey/chicken/ham into small, bite-sized pieces. Since I've started keeping red bell peppers in the fridge for snacking, I go ahead and slice up all of the red bell peppers at this time. I dice two for the pasta salad and put the rest in the fridge in strips. Meal prepping!

Again, I really do just use lunch meat from the deli section. It's pretty affordable if you snag it on sale.

3. Strain your pasta and let your pasta cool. I dump the pasta into a mixing bowl and set it aside until it cools. This is when I run off to play with Theo or prepare another meal for the week ahead. Or maybe I just eat Red Vines and watch TV.

4. Mix the pasta, diced meat, peppers, mozzarella cheese and Italian dressing together. You'll need a fairly large mixing bowl if you're into vats of pasta salad like me.

There you have it! My guess is this will be enough for eight lunches, so four days for us. The recipe is easily divided, doubled, etc., and honestly, I dump in extra dressing or red bell peppers or mozzarella cheese whenever I feel like it. 

While I'm at it, I want to point out that this recipe is super affordable, too! (And I didn't use any store brand items, surprisingly enough, so you could make it for even less if you did!) Here's the cost breakdown:

1 lb pasta - $1.68
Red bell peppers - $2.50
1 8 oz bag of mozzarella cheese - $3.75
1/4 lb of turkey - $2.59
1/2 cup of Italian dressing (1/4 of a bottle of Olive Garden Italian dressing) - $0.75

Total = $11.27 

That breaks down to $1.41 per lunch!


What is your go-to lunch recipe? Do you have another easy 5 ingredients or less lunch idea for us?


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status update: here are a few sneak peeks into my home decorating project

Monday, August 07, 2017
I've been trying to make the most of my spare time and focus on unpacking, organizing and decorating our new apartment in Durham! Patrick and I both have never lived anywhere other than our parents' homes for more than nine months at a time, so it's a luxury to sign a 13-month lease and know that for at least 12 of those months, we will be right here in Durham. And hopefully for longer than that!

I use affiliate links in this post – but only for products or items that I love and really do recommend to you! If you click on these links and/or make a purchase, I might make a little money on my end.


I might be most proud of my work in the bedroom. We got the bedroom set from Haverty's (we got the upholstered queen bed, not storage; two nightstands; the dresser; and the gentleman's chest) and already had the navy comforter, which is a Nautica brand from Bed, Bath and Beyond. (Here it is on Amazon.) Then I ordered these shams for a steal and these throw pillow covers.

My sweet friend Emily from college is super talented and handlettered these prints for me. (If you want her to design custom prints for you, you can check out her Instagram!) I printed all of my prints out on my Shutterfly app, which might be the easiest thing in the universe to do (and I usually put off printing photos!) and framed them in cheap but cute white IKEA frames. Yes, those are Game of Thrones references. I'm the Mother of Pomeranian-German Shepherd-Husky mixes.

Still in progress: nightstand lamps, floor-length mirror

living room

I don't have a picture of our full setup yet because there are random boxes and papers all over the place, but I am definitely loving our couch from Haverty's! I spend way too much time curled up on the end of it (the end of the sectional is a cuddler and there's plenty of room for me, my laptop and, of course, my lapdog). We ended up buying two of these grey throws, but before the end of August, I would not be surprised if we had three. (Because one little floof likes to steal one for himself!)

We're going to hang our diplomas up in the living room too – along with Theo's puppy school diploma! – but have to get some hanging supplies first. I'd rather our diplomas not be as crooked as the prints in the bedroom. 

Still in progress: end tables and lamps! 

home office/guest room

I cannot tell you how excited I am about our home office/guest room! This is the room where we're stashing boxes and bags that are not yet unpacked, but I have enough room to make it to my desk, and there's enough space around it so that you don't see the big piles of boxes in my pictures. Hehe. I am so madly in love with my ghost chair and white faux fur pelt, and my white desk fits in the room perfectly. (Note: I would not buy this white desk if you're looking for a long-lasting piece that won't require painting or DIY-ing. I plan on spraypainting the legs gold and covering the top with marble contact paper in the future, because the paint that's already on the desk isn't flawless.)

And of course I have my 4x4 IKEA bookshelf! I can't find an Amazon equivalent but I recommend picking it up at an IKEA store if possible.

Still in progress: Air mattress for guests (We have a twin, but want a full or queen sized air mattress instead)


Still in progress: All of my kitchen stuff, sans a few dishes and pots and pans, are still in my storage unit. SOON!

dining room

I haven't taken pictures, but the dining room is mostly good to go, minus some trash and clutter that I've been pushing under or on top of the table. We got a high-top table from IKEA and two barstools, so that the table is high up enough that Theo can't torture us or grab food off of our plates. He's still torturing us, so we're half there.

Still in progress: This is where Pat is going to hang most of his sports stuff, and that is still in Asheville.

master closet

I can't wait to take pictures of how I've organized my closet! The closet has tons of shelves, which is just great, and it is absolutely enormous. Stay tuned!


OK, friends – I CANNOT decide what my favorite room of the house is! I am thinking I'm leaning towards our guest room – I can't get over that ghost chair + faux fur pelt combination. What is your favorite room in your house?

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