Back to school: The ultimate list of dorm essentials + the one item not to forget on move-in day!

Back to school shopping used to be one of my favorite parts of a new school year, as I’m sure it was for many people. A particularly fun year was before my freshman year of college. The items on your back-to-school shopping list were more than just clothes, notebooks and new pens, but also bedding, kitchen items, and even some furniture. While this list seems exciting, it can also be overwhelming with the amount of choices in stores like Target, Walmart, and Bed Bath and Beyond.

As a college student who lived in 4 separate forms of housing, as well as a 2 year NYC apartment veteran, I have learned through trial and error what the best products are and where to buy them.

My advice here is to not be to concerned about matching everything your roommate has, as that seems unnecessary to me. You should pick what you want it to look like and maybe it can compliment your roommate’s vision.

My other tip is that not everything needs to be totally instagram-worthy. Definitely get cute items if you like them, but I don’t think spending outrageous amounts of money on dorm items is the best choice, as they can tend to get ruined or just worn out after a few years! I personally splurged on my bedding and kept everything else simple.

Without further ado, here are my dorm essential picks!

Bedding Essentials

Cute and functional duvet and shams

Lilly Pulitzer for PB Teen Duvet and Shams in Orchid Border and Elephant Bazaar

My bedding that I used all 4 years of college was from the Lilly Pulitzer for Garnet Hill Collection, which I loved! Unfortunately, that’s no longer available, but Pottery Barn came out with a new collection last year which has a whole bunch of awesome bedding and furniture. My sister actually has the Elephant Bazaar in her dorm currently, and we have the Orchid Border with the Bolster Pom Pom Pillows in the twin bedroom in my house on Martha’s Vineyard!

A duvet insert

Naturally, a duvet means you need a duvet insert. I had a microfiber one as opposed to down, because its less expensive, but also just in case of spills or who knows what. Down is not the easiest to dry or clean.

A comfy mattress topper

This is the same mattress topper that I had, which seems expensive but I knew I would have a twin XL bed for at least 3 years. It was also SO comfortable, I had the best bed and my friends would even come over to sit on my bed!

The ultimate mattress protector

The same exact mattress protector I had, which protects from everything you could possibly think of. I truly don’t think another one is worth the money!

Neutral sheets and pillowcases

I kept it very simple with a jersey cotton sheet set! The set won’t break the bank, are easy to throw in the wash, and are super comfortable. I still have these type of sheets at my apartment!

A body pillow

My roommate and I both had our beds against the walls, which obviously meant each of us had a cement block wall next to our beds. We both had body pillows to help us from not touching the often cold, cinder block wall. I had a fun, furry one which made my bed extra cozy and Morgan had a monogrammed body pillow!

A cozy blanket

My boyfriend and I are all about the cozy blankets! He got me this one from Walmart before I moved into my new apartment, and it was the perfect gift to match my bedding! In college, I had a similar white one that I folded at the end of my bed.

Headboard pillow

I didn’t have a headboard at first in my dorm, until I found a piece that goes on like a headboard that someone left in the hall after de-bunking their bed. I got lucky there, but I wished I had a cushier head board instead of the ugly brown wooden one. This pillow headboard would have covered the ugly brown one, I wish I knew about these sooner! Here is another pillow headboard from BB&B!

Bath and Laundry

Towels and washcloths

Having a few extra clean towels is always a good idea, so I’ve linked these towels from Target, which are plain but useful. I picked up these ones as hand towels for my current apartment when we moved in because there is a Target right near us! Here are some options from Walmart and Bed Bath and Beyond as well.

A simple shower caddy

Nothing screams college dorm more than a shower caddy, right? I had this exact same one from Bed Bath and Beyond my freshman year, and you really don’t need anything fancier than this. They now even have phone pockets?! This has me cracking up, but I guess it is smart just in case someone accidentally locks you out of the room when you are in the shower! Here are some other shower caddy options from Amazon, Target and Walmart. I have recommended all mesh versions, because you don’t want to have something else to clean, and these don’t retain water, so theres no mold involved!

A sturdy hamper

I got a hamper on a HomeGoods run with my mom before college, and I still have it to this day! While it held up pretty well, it has really started to breakdown recently. I love it so much I just keep it to put my dirty jeans in. I replaced that with a hamper that has separate sections for whites, darks, and colors, which I’m a big fan of since I am a laundry sorting stickler. However, in a dorm you probably want something a little smaller, so here are some options from Bed Bath and Beyond, Amazon, Target and Walmart.

Storage and other items

Bedside table

This cart from Target is cute for using as surface space, as well as storage. It’s always great to have spaces to put things so they are not in the way in such a small space! Sterilite drawers also are great for extra storage and some surface space near your bed.

Extra drawers

If you are anything like me, you’ll probably need more than the 3 drawers that the school gives you in your dorm furniture. I got some easily movable Sterilite plastic drawers  that I actually packed some of my clothes in for the move. It made it easy to move limited items but it was pretty heavy! Here are Target and BB&B options as well.

Lamp

Absolutely necessary in my opinion! The lighting in dorms is typically very institutional. In other words, it’s not very good. I loved doing work in bed, so a lamp was great to either turn on with the lights off or just for some extra lighting! I still have this classic, plain Target lamp. Similar options from Bed Bath and Beyond, as well as Walmart.

Over-the-door hooks

These will come in handy on both the door too the room, as well as on the closet doors! I found the more hooks, the better. Here are options from Target (with a basket on top!), Walmart and BB&B (also has a towel bar — perfect!).

Under bed bins

Bins under your bed are a great way to store extra clothes, as well as baskets for snacks, cleaning supplies, or bags!

Trunk

I just think that a trunk is a quintessential going off to college item! I had a green trunk that my mom bought for me years ago from Bed Bath and Beyond, and I brought it to college with me. My sister ended up getting one too, just because its so cute! It also doubles as storage, so although it took up a lot of room in my little dorm room, I made space! While they are on the expensive side, I have linked a few different options from Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Pottery Barn, and Amazon.

Decorations

Fairy lights

Soft fairy lights add another nice form of lighting, as well as decoration to a dorm room or apartment. These photo clip lights are also perfect for polaroids! *buys for apartment*

Cork boards & letter boards

As you can see from my freshman year dorm photos, cork boards were the move (I had these tile ones). Letter boards came into the game later, and they are so cute!

Frames

Cute frames can also make your dorm feel more home-y, whether they are for family/friend photos or even fun prints (like my favorites from Evelyn Henson!). Frames from Target, Walmart and Amazon linked here! My wall frames pictured here are the ones linked from Amazon, which were inexpensive and look great on a white wall.

Acrylic organizers

Perfect to keep on that institutional desk that you can’t get rid of! I loved having these to just hold my little things and get them out of the way, all in one place. They look put together and they can be for more than just makeup/beauty items. I just picked up a new one from Target, and had this one in college, plus here is another one of my favorites!

Essential Oil Diffuser

This is the perfect item to help you destress when you are in your dorm room. You can get relaxing essential oils and mix them together to create great scents! Also great because you can’t have candles in dorm rooms. (I did and I always forgot to hide them and would have to get my room inspected lol) Linked from BB&B, Walmart, Target and Amazon!

Hanging aids

Command hooks, strips and Scotch mounting putty and mounting tape are king in a temporary space. The best way to hang up photos, lights and hooks are command brand! That way when you leave the room you wont get charged for damages. These command clips are also great for hanging lights on the wall!

The one item not to forget for move-in day

A great pair of scissors

Honestly, my friend’s mom got me this exact pair of Scotch scissors right before I moved in and thank god she did! These were being used throughout the entire move in and I kept them in my desk drawers, so they were easily accessible. They got a ton of use, and I feel like they are a very forgotten tool, especially on move-in day when you need them the most! DON’T FORGET THESE!

 

My favorite Glossier products

I have never been much of a makeup girl (other than mascara), but last year I stepped into the Glossier show room for the first time with my friend, Elizabeth, and I was instantly drawn to all their products. I don’t know if it was the monochromatic packaging or the fun product names, but I felt compelled to buy some makeup for the first time in a long while.

The show room allows you to sample and try their products, which are all laid out on white pedestals. Since the line isn’t huge, they have everything very spread out and organized in a type A fashion. My first visit, I purchased 2 lidstar cream eyeshadows and 3 balm dot com skin salves. I since have been back several times and made a few other purchases, such as the lash slick, solid perfume, and more.

Here are some of my Glossier favorites so far:

Lash Slick

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The lash slick is a great mascara for length. They don’t really make my lashes volumized, but they do a great job of lengthening and not clumping together. While I usually prefer a black-brown mascara, lash slick is all black. It still looks great and does the job while not being too much. I personally think it’s great for both day and night, aka perfect for a day-to-night look from work!

Lidstar

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I have purchased lidstar a few times because I love them so much! I have slip, fawn, and moon, and I bought another duo and gave slip to my sister for her birthday. I love how subtle they are, while still being fun. They are all fairly neutral, and layer perfectly. I sometimes layer all three, and I like to use moon as almost a highlighter for the brow bones and corner of eyes. Can’t recommend enough to those who like more of a minimalist look.

Boy Brow

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Okay, so I tried boy brow several times. It doesn’t work for me because my eyebrows are decently colored and I don’t want them too thick, but they are great for people with unruly or extremely light brows!

Balm Dot Com

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I LOVE balm dot com, which my friend Elizabeth introduced to me. It was actually the first Glossier product I heard about! My first purchase at Glossier was actually a balm dot com trio. I use the tinted versions on my lips, and the other versions on my hands and elbows as well!

Soothing Face Mist

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This mist has the best scent. The rosewater is so relaxing and it just makes you feel cool and refreshed. Good for sensitive skin as well.

Super Pure Serum

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The Super Pure Serum is supposed to help skin keep in balance. While I’m new to this product, I do think it is helpful to incorporate into your everyday routine. Zinc is great for the skin, which is an element of this serum. They also have a few other serums that I would like to try, and they are offering a trio of the serums for a great discount!

 

Let me know if there are any Glossier products you would like me to try, or you would like to hear more about.

Happy shopping, xx

Graduation Cap Decorating & Inspiration

It’s grad season! With college graduations in full swing and high school commencements rapidly approaching for many people, I figured I would share some graduation cap decorating tips and inspiration for those looking for a little décor.

In high school, I did not have a cap and gown like most other schools. Girls wore white dresses with our school charm bracelet and the boys, khaki pants with a navy blue blazer, along with the school lapel pin. So for college graduation, I was looking forward to decorating my graduation cap!

Most of my friends had caps in high school, so they went all out decorating them back in the day. They didn’t really want to make the effort to decorate and get materials during senior week. I knew I wanted to keep it pretty simple, and I saw a few other people decorating caps, so I said “why not!”

I headed to Michael’s to pick up some supplies and I was so happy what I came out with. I got some simple gold and pearl letters to put my initials, and then some pearl stickers to add to the edges of my cap. I initially had thought about painting something on my cap, but then I realized that senior week was very busy and I didn’t have the time to think of an idea, paint it, let it dry, etc.

This idea ended up being quick, easy, and simple, which I loved! I even still have my cap on display at home near my diploma, since the pearls looked great with my black cap and red tassel. This idea would look great on any color cap, and is SO, SO easy to do if you are in a time crunch.

Happy Graduation, xx

 

Florida Bound: What I’m Bringing!

This Wednesday, I’m heading down to Florida to spend a week with my family! My sister is on her spring break and my parents rented a house down in Naples, so this was the perfect opportunity for a getaway from NYC.

I usually have all my summer clothes at my parents house in Rhode Island, as well as all of our suitcases and travel gear. When I go home, I usually just use a duffle bag to carry my clothes and other necessities, so I felt like this was the perfect time to invest in my own suitcase. I had been thinking about splurging on an away suitcase, which is all the rage these days. I ended up finding a larger, and far less expensive Calpak suitcase at TJ Maxx. Along with my Dagne Dover carryall, these will be all the luggage I’m using for this trip!

There is so much to do to prepare, such as packing, laundry, nails, sugaring, etc. So for this trip I decided to use my free spray tan at Sugared + Bronzed when I go for my sugaring appointment!

In terms of clothing, I’ll be bringing some classics, as well as some athletic wear. I love to spend my days doing some form of exercise, along with beach, pool, shopping, eating, you name it. I have to be prepared for anything!

Bathing Suits

I got this suit from Shein last summer and it is cute and simple. I would recommend sizing up if you aren’t a stick, because although the small fit fine, I feel like I could have taken the medium and been fine. The reviews are very important on Shein, so definitely read them carefully.

I also got this fun bikini from Shein last summer, which is a little cheeky, but not too much! I felt like the small in this suit was better since the straps are not adjustable.

Bottoms

Last year in Florida, I got these jean shorts from Principle Denim and they are the best! Not too short, but short enough and a great color. They are currently 50% off, so I might have to buy them in white as well.

Lilly luxletic leggings, because workout Lilly is amazing! They also have a whole new golf line, which is super cute and easier to move around in.

Always a go-to, I have a few pairs of these lululemon speed up shorts which are great to throw on for a quick walk in the morning.

Lilly’s Palazzo Pants have also been a long time favorite of mine! If you are short, you’ll most likely have to get them hemmed, even with wedges on, these pants are still to long on me!

Tops

Madewell’s T-shirts are classics that are easy to pair with blue/white denim, as well as more beachy attire.

I love to pair my favorite Lilly Palazzo pants with this Scalloped Cami from J.Crew Factory. The pink goes with so many Lilly bottoms!

I got an Outdoor Voices set, and the leggings are okay, but the Tri-tone Slashback Crop is my new favorite workout top!

Dresses/Rompers

Aerie makes cute and comfy rompers, and while mine is from a few years ago, this one is cute and the same style.

The Mila Shift Dress from Lilly is another classic which I always bring along in my suitcase because it’s perfect for dressing up or down for dinner or a fancier event.

Vineyard Vines really surprised me with a cute, soft material romper last summer. Here’s their more updated look.

Shoes

True life. Soludos Palma Platform Sandals are my favorite summer shoes. I have them in both colors and they are super wearable and very comfy! I hate heels more than anything, but I love the way they look, so I ordered these. The more flat wedge makes them the perfect shoe for literally all day wear.

Still on the Soludos train… these Ciao Bella Smoking Slippers are another one of my favorites that will make the trip with me!

Jack Rogers Platinum Hamptons Sandals are another shoe I wear regularly in the summer and on vacation. The platinum sandals are my favs because they aren’t quite silver, but they aren’t quite gold. Matches with everything!

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Skin Laundry after 4 treatments

I’m back with my review of Skin Laundry! As I wrote previously, I started going to Skin Laundry for their laser and light facial. The first appointment is free, which is great because the treatments are usually $75!

I just had my 4th week getting a laser and light facial, which I have really been enjoying. I felt as if the first 2 weeks I did see an improvement in my skin. I came out of the facial glowing, and my skin looking great. I had a few small breakouts that subsided quickly following my treatments, but nothing huge or noticeable.

This past Thursday, they used a stronger laser because I had done well with the last two treatments. I thought my skin didn’t look as good afterwards, but it looked great the next day. This week I used the highest level laser, and my skin adjusted to it well!

I’m continuing my laser and light facials twice a month after this last treatment — they have a membership which gives you a slight discount, and I feel like this could really help my skin over time.

Stay tuned!

 

 

The best cold fix recipe: “Health Tea”

Last week I went out to a vendor lunch for work at Westville Hudson. There are a few Westville locations in NYC (one very close to my apartment!), and I had never actually been. I knew they had seasonal vegetables, and other random things like french fries and hot dogs. However, I didn’t realize that the restaurant was a perfect mix of healthy and indulgent! I loved that they have so many different seasonal veggies options, as well as packed salads and sandwiches.

In addition to the smoky mac and cheese, my favorite item was a drink special called “Health Tea.” I made sure I took a picture of all the ingredients so I could re-create this recipe at home!

Recipe:

A few sprigs of mint, to taste

A few sage leaves, to taste

2 orange slices

2 lemon slices

A large piece of fresh ginger

1 Cinnamon stick, or a dash of ground cinnamon

Hot water

Honey, to taste

I made this at home this morning in my ban.do to-go coffee mug, and my trusty Chef’s Choice electric kettle. I added the mint, sage, ginger, orange slices, lemon slices and cinnamon. I then poured hot water over the other ingredients to steep. I then added some honey to sweeten it up a bit!

I’ve been refilling my mug all morning with more hot water, I love this alternative to lemon water or tea! A great way to switch it up.

 

 

Quick Super Bowl appetizer: The best buffalo chicken dip recipe

I was born on Super Bowl Sunday 24 years ago! As a Super Bowl baby, I am always amped up for the day (especially when the Patriots are playing).

As a self-proclaimed foodie, I love all the fun recipes that come with the day, as many of them are foods you would never eat otherwise. Many of them are ridiculous, over-the-top foods that also require a lot of prep and cook time. This buffalo chicken dip is a quick, simple recipe that is equal parts easy and delicious!

Truth be told, I usually slightly follow Frank’s Red Hot Recipe for temperature and measurements, but I tend to add my own flair too it.

The Recipe:

2 cups of shredded, cooked chicken. I use the meat of 1 rotisserie chicken, I usually cut the breasts with a knife and measure it out to 2 cups.

8 oz of cream cheese. I usually use low fat cream cheese, and I let it soften up a bit first.

1/2 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce. This is KEY. The regular hot sauce also works, however I love to use the buffalo wing sauce from Frank’s, it’s the best.

1/2 cup ranch dressing. I repeat, ranch, not bleu cheese.

1/2 cup of your preferred shredded cheese. Frank’s calls for bleu cheese crumbles, but I personally prefer shredded cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. I mix 1/2 cup in with the cream cheese, buffalo sauce, ranch, chicken mixture, as well as some for melting on top.

Scallions (for garnish).

Pre-heat oven to 350° F, place mixture in a shallow baking dish of choice. Bake for 20 mins. Serve with pretzel/pita/tortilla, bread, veggies, or really whatever you prefer!

Frank’s recipe recommends to mix up the dip after it is warmed, however I think it is best with the meaty cheese top and fresh scallion garnish!

Happy Super Bowl and GO PATS!!