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You may have noticed that my site looks totally different – don’t panic, it’s still me! I am thrilled to announce that Small Town Roots and Cowboy Boots will now be Seattle Stylista. Yay!

With all of these changes, my site will be in limbo for the next week or so. I need to smooth out all the wrinkles in my new design and revamp my whole brand image. Don’t worry, I will still be posting the same content – it will just look a bit different. Think of it as a much-needed facelift!

Thank you so much for your patience and loyalty. Please come back soon!

Lifestyle

How to Pay for College (oh and win $5,000)

Tips and tricks on how to pay for college like navigating student loans and applying for scholarships square

Tips and tricks on how to pay for college like navigating student loans and applying for scholarshipsIn less than a year, I will be faced with the incredibly daunting task of paying off my student loans and navigating post-grad finances. Read on for more tips and tricks from me plus information about how you can win $5,000 from College Ave Student Loans!

Without going too in-depth about my personal finances, I’ll just say that my family is lower-middle-class so we rely heavily on loans and scholarships to put my two sisters and I through college.

Thinking about student loans and debt is the last thing you want to do when you graduate. You are starting a new life with a new career in a new place – you don’t want this baggage dragging you down. Personally, I worked my booty off sometimes at three jobs at once. AND I followed the following guidelines. 

Food

When you’re on your own financially in college, buying food can sometimes be the last thing you want to do. For me, I wanted to spend my hard-earned money on clothes or doing fun things with my friends. The reality of college means spending the majority of your part-time paycheck on food, toiletries, and gas. Yippee!

To cut down on food costs, avoid eating out. If you live on campus, investing in a meal plan can be very cost-effective. Keep snacks in you room to avoid those late-night runs to McDonald’s or calling Domino’s at 2 a.m. when you have the drunchies. If you live in an apartment or house, try to cook for yourself as much as often. Cook in bulk and freeze food for eating later.

Another great trick to saving money is meal planning – bake a ton of chicken, make a big pot of rice, and steam some veggies every Sunday night and then store meal-sized portions in the fridge for grabbing throughout the week. This is a great way to avoid fast-food for those who are constantly on the run – like me.

If you have a vice or two, don’s stress too much. For example, I LOVE Starbucks, but I know I can’t afford to have it everyday. I allow myself to spend $20 or $30 (depending on how many hours I worked) on Starbucks a week. If you need to make a little allowance like that, setting a budget will help you feel frugal without feeling completely deprived. You should also allow yourself to go out to eat every once in a while too – once or twice a week was the limit I set for myself. Only you know your finances, so be sure to set limits that feel right to you.

Jobs

You would be surprised by how many jobs there are available for college students. If you live in a college town, local business survive off of hiring students. Your university will have tons of job opportunities as well – most have a public job board online. If they don’t have anything listed, email the heads of different departments to see if they have openings. On-campus jobs are usually really understanding of class schedules and giving lighter hours during finals and midterms.

There are a lot of brands that love hiring college “brand ambassadors” to promote their business on college campuses. Definitely look into that as well if you’re looking for something a little more flexible.

Scholarships

I wish going into college I had known more about hunting for scholarships outside of federal aid or strictly through my university. There are so many options out there that I had no idea about. I am a firm believer that during every high school student’s senior year, they should be required to take a class about scholarship hunting.

You can receive scholarships for ANYTHING – well, pretty much everything. Did you travel to Europe as a child? Did you work as a soccer referee? Did you have a relative that came over on the Mayflower? Seriously, you can capitalize on any little trait or experience that sets you apart from others. The hard part is FINDING those scholarships – it just takes a ton of time. I would recommend setting aside one hour a week your senior year of high school and freshman year of college that is dedicated solely to searching for scholarships.

Rule of thumb: If you never ask, you’ll never know.

Student Loans

Loans can be very confusing especially when you are a freshman. They still terrify and confuse me!

I went to an out-of-state private university in Orange, CA for two years so let’s just say when I did my exit loan counseling and discovered how much I had to pay off after just TWO years (we’re talking roughly $27,000 here people), I may or may not have cried. Even with a half scholarship I was drowning in debt. Thank goodness I transferred to an in-state public school for my last two years or I think I would have just left the country after graduation.

For those of you like me, you just took loans out through the FAFSA. But there are a lot of services out there besides Federal Aid that can help you manage loans. For example, College Ave Student Loans simplifies the student loan process so that you can truly customize your loan experience. They specialize in student loans and offering competitive rates, many repayment options, and a very customer-friendly process. They even have a mobile-friendly application where you can find out your credit decision in three minutes – like, WHAT!

College Ave makes everything so easy for students completely overwhelmed by the whole process – like me. They have an easy-to-use loan calculator and they even offer lower interest rates for students who make payments while they’re in school – you can make monthly payments as low as $25. Everything they do is oriented toward college students who need all the help they can get. When it seems like everyone and their mother is out to take all our money from us, College Ave steps in and offers a saving grace. I just wish I had known about them sooner.

WIN $5,000!

College Ave has teamed up with Chegg to give away $5,000 for one student who has awesome college goals. Runner-up gets $2,500 and third place gets $50 to Chegg! The contest rules are all listed here, but basically all you have to do is follow College Ave and Chegg on Instagram and share what your college goals are on Instagram by reposting their picture. Super easy to enter and a pretty sweet deal if you win! Good luck!

This post is brought to you by College Ave Student Loans and Her Campus Media.

Fashion Lifestyle

How to Dress for Different Types of Interviews

How to dress for different types of interviews from casual to corporate to classic

Tips on how to dress for different types of interviewsPreparing for an interview intimidates even the most qualified candidates. Researching the company, fine-tuning your resume and cover letter, and arriving on time are just a few of the many important things you have to remember.

What many people forget is that first impressions can make a world of a difference in an interview. A candidate can have the perfect resume and all of the experience in the world, but if they do not hold themselves with confidence and dress appropriately, they will be denied the job.

Don’t leave getting dressed as an afterthought. Your appearance says far more about you than you think. You want to show the employer that you put in effort to making yourself presentable and professional – that you care for yourself. This proves that you can care for job responsibilities.

Unfortunately, not all job interviews are created equal. Some jobs foster a more creative or casual environment whereas some are strictly pantsuit-only. Have no fear, I have created a guide to help you navigate exactly how to dress for different types of job interviews!

How to dress for a corporate interviewIMG_4328IMG_4332Don’t let the formal tone of a corporate interview trick you into think it’s difficult to dress for. This is the easiest one of them all, I promise! All you need is:

  • A matching blazer and slacks (preferably black, navy, or grey)
  • A simple blouse
  • Simple 2 inch, close-toed heels
  • A solid, neutral purse

You can add a pop of color in the blouse if you want, but don’t have any crazy prints. It’s really hard to mess up this look. However, there are a few guidelines you should follow when dressing for a corporate or formal interview:

  1. No flashy jewelry – keep it minimal and very simple
  2. Keep your hair pulled back – it needs to be in a bun, ponytail, or braid and out of your face
  3. No extra piercings – earlobes only
  4. Natural makeup – neutral tones, very light application
  5. No heels above 3″ – wear flats if you can’t stand kitten heels
  6. No cleavage – keep it covered
  7. Shoulders should be covered – if you HAVE to take your blazer off, be sure to be wearing a short-sleeve or long-sleeve blouse under
  8. No cotton or spandex
  9. No see-through material
  10. No bra straps showing

Shop the Look

How to dress for a classic interviewIMG_4356IMG_4358This is the most common type of interview. This is very, very similar to the corporate interview outfit, but you have more room to play around. Here’s what you need for a classic interview outfit:

  • Neutral slacks or knee-length skirt
  • Neutral blazer
  • Simple blouse
  • Heels under 3″ or flats
  • Simple purse

The key here is that all of these items can be colored! I like to have one statement piece that makes me stand out from the crowd at a typical interview. For this outfit, I added the colorful statement necklace. You could switch it up and add a colorful blouse, blazer, shoes, or bag. While you have a bit more flexibility here, stick to the following guidelines:

    1. Only one “flashy” accessory piece – chose a bracelet OR earrings OR a necklace OR a purse
    2. Keep your hair pulled away from your face – whether it’s with a headband or clips or what, you don’t want to be pushing your hair out of your face constantly during your interview
    3. No extra piercings – earlobes only
    4. Natural makeup – neutral tones, very light application
    5. No heels above 3″ – wear flats if you can’t stand kitten heels
    6. No cleavage – keep it covered
    7. Skirt must be no shorter than one inch above your knees
    8. Shoulders should be covered – if you take the blazer off, be sure to be wearing a short-sleeve or long-sleeve blouse
    9. No cotton or spandex
    10. No see-through material
    11. No bra straps showing

Shop the Look

How to dress for a creative interviewIMG_4377IMG_4393IMG_4381Interviews for creative positions or more casual interviews are fun because you can play around a bit more. However, keep in mind that you can never be over-dressed, so don’t get too carried away with this one.

This kind of outfit is the hardest to define, so here are some guidelines to follow:

  1. One trend piece will spice up your outfit (in this outfit, my trend piece is the jogger pants)
  2. Keep your hair polished, but you can style it pretty much however you want
  3. Limit to one statement accessory piece – one big necklace, one bright purse, one pair of big earrings, etc.
  4. Natural makeup with a pop – neutral tones, very light application, but feel free to do a bold lip or cat eyeliner
  5. No sneakers or sandals
  6. No cleavage – keep it covered
  7. Skirt/dress must be no shorter than the ends of your finger tips
  8. No bra straps showing
  9. No see-through material

Shop the Look

I hope this guide was helpful! What are your go-to interview outfits? I’d love to hear about them! Stay tuned for more business-casual posts coming up.
Lifestyle

Guide to Planning Low-Key Bridal Shower

How to plan a low key bridal shower square

As maid of honor for my sister’s wedding, I organized her bridal shower. My sister is the opposite of me – doesn’t like anything too flashy or crazy. She wanted a very low-key, relaxing, and sweet bridal shower. No silly games with toilet paper dresses or ridiculous sexual presents. With the help of my mom, we settled on a tea-party theme keeping in line with the simple, rustic decor of her wedding. Read on below to learn how we planned everything!

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Food and Drinks

The bridal shower started at 2 p.m., so it did not fall under any particular meal time. Since we went with the tea party theme, we decided on tea sandwiches, fresh fruit, cake, champagne, wine, tea, and coffee. It was all substantial enough that guests could enjoy a filling meal, but also elegant and light enough to fit the casual atmosphere perfectly.

If you are planning a low-key bridal shower, I would suggest small plates and light nibbles like we had. Scheduling a full-blown dinner or meal will make it feel much more structured and formal. Including a light alcoholic option adds a little spice to the afternoon without giving guests an excuse to get sloppy drunk or out-of-control.

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Games and Activities

As I mentioned before, my sister was not thrilled about the typical, cheesy bridal shower games. Since we had my grandma and a few other women who may take offense to the more raunchy games, we decided to eliminate any of those activities. Instead, we planned two games and two activities.

The first game we planned was “Forbidden Words.” A very common game for bridal showers, this game always creates lots of laughs and brings out the competitive side of guests. We gave everyone an over-sized plastic diamond ring and prohibited the use of the words “Ron” (my sister’s fiance), “Wedding,” and “Love.” If you got caught saying one of those words, you had to hand our ring over to the person that heard you. The person with the most rings at the end of the shower wins a prize. For our winners, we gave them cute light pink Essie nail polish.

The second game we planned was “Guess Their Age.” We printed out photos of my sister and her fiance from their younger years and hung them on a big frame. Guests had to guess how old they were in each photo. The person who guessed the most correct wins a nail polish as well.

The activities we planned were very casual ones guests could do at any time. We ordered beautiful advice cards from Etsy (the same store we ordered the invites through) so that guests could impart some wisdom to my sister. We also placed some popsicle sticks in a mason jar and provided sharpies so that everyone could share a date idea. Both of these were very casual but will be nice mementos for my sister.

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Decorations

Sticking to the simple, rustic theme of my sister’s wedding, we used burlap and lace for the main table. My sister’s wedding flowers are blue and white hydrangeas, so we used those as the flower centerpieces as well as baby’s breath and some simple greens. To tie in the blue, we had blue accents in the banner from Etsy and napkins from Molbaks. Everything was very simple, inexpensive, yet elegant.

We also used a few chalk boards – one out front and one for the advice cards. Chalk boards are fairly inexpensive and very trendy right now – they add a fun, customizable aspect to the event.

Finally, I scoured the sales racks at Value Village and World Market for inexpensive gold frames and found some great ones for very cheap. Framing little signs like we did adds a polished touch to the displays rather than leaving pieces of paper hanging awkwardly with instructions.

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Favors

If you are short on funds or time, don’t worry about producing a party favor for your guests. Nowadays, favors typically get thrown in the trash or forgotten about. This is definitely an expense you can spare.

However, my mom and I wanted to have a little something since it was such a small shower. We knew we wanted to give something practical that our guests could actually use. My little sister came up with the idea of putting washi tape on tea lights and packaging them up super cute. Not only was this incredibly inexpensive, they turned out beautiful and everybody loved them.

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I hope this guide to planning a low-key bridal shower was helpful for you. If you have any questions at all or want to share some advice of your own, please comment below! As always, thanks for reading!

Gude to planning a low key bridal shower

Lifestyle

8 Important Event-Planning Lessons

event planning 2

For those of you who don’t know, the past two months have been absolutely insane for me. I organized my sorority’s annual Mom’s Weekend brunch and auction, got a new job, and wrapped up the semester. That’s right – I am officially a senior! I am so sorry for being completely M.I.A., but hopefully I can make up for that this summer when I have more free time to blog.

I learned so much from my experience planning the brunch and auction for my sorority. I had never been to the event before, so I had no idea what it was even supposed to be like. On a very tight budget, I had to be very frugal and creative. One of the most stressful experiences of my life, it was also one of the most rewarding – we raised over $6,000! Anyways, I wanted to share the eight most valuable lessons I learned from this process with y’all in case you have an event coming up soon.

event planning (thin)

1. You can’t please everybody

There will always be somebody with something negative to say. No matter how much audience research you have conducted and how much time you have put in to accommodating everybody’s needs, there will always be somebody. It’s a sad fact, but it’s the way it goes with most things in life. Everything could be going 100% smoothly but somebody will find that one napkin out of place.

People will always find something to complain about unfortunately. It most likely will be something completely out of your control – maybe a vendor was rude to them or more expensive than then had hoped.

When this happens, you have to just smile, apologize, and help them the best you can. When you are in the swing of the event, there is usually not much you can do for them, so you just need to be kind and gracious.

2. There will always be surprises

No matter how much meticulous planning you invest, something unexpected will always happen. For example, I planned a Mom’s Weekend brunch for my sorority and requested RSVP’s to plan how much food to make. Only 200 RSVP’ed, yet over 300 people showed up on the actual day. There was no possible way I could have planned for this.

When these surprises threaten to throw a wrench in your plans, just remember that they are ultimately out of your control. All you can do is adapt – be flexible as much as possible.

3. Have a plan for more AND less people than expected

Leading off of my last point, you should always have a plan for what will happen if more or less people than expected attend the event. For example, have extra chairs or a standing room only section designated to accommodate more people. If significantly less people show up than anticipated, have a plan for the left-over food/materials/space/etc.

4. Plan for any weather

If your event is outside (especially here in the Pacific Northwest), definitely have a back-up plan for rain. Whether it is an indoor venue or tents, you need to prepare for the unexpected. Weather is a silly thing that is nearly impossible to accurately predict and has the potential to destroy an event.

5. Be flexible

I really cannot stress this point enough. With all of the points I noted above, the common trend in all of them is the necessity of flexibility. You can invest hundreds of hours planning an event, but the actual event can only happen once. Just like the weather – there is nothing you can do to predict exactly how the event will flow. You need to prepare yourself to quickly adapt to change.

You may have planned a particular aspect of the event that ends up simply not working. You will need to quickly let go of your disappointment and make a change to remedy it. It’s really difficult, trust me, but necessary.

6. Delegate, delegate, delegate

You may be superwoman, but you cannot plan an event all on your own.  You need to have a trustworthy and hard-working team supporting you. Having an extra set of eyes on a floor plan or invitation can make a world of a difference. Having extra hands to help you move tables and place decorations will save you from a lot of the set-up and take-down labor.

Personally, I am a control freak. I find it extremely difficult to trust anybody to do anything – to make sure it’s perfect, I’d rather just take some more time and do it myself. Unfortunately, the world does not always work that way. With event planning, you really have to relinquish some control and trust your team to do things. You cannot be everywhere at once as much as you may want to be.

7. Be gracious

When something goes wrong or some grouchy guest has a complaint, your response is crucial. You can either get offended, upset, panicked, and defensive, or you can smile and tackle the issue head-on. You cannot take things personally. Say “sorry” even if you’re not to blame. If you are rude to a guest, it will ruin the entire event for them. You must be gracious to everybody, despite your frustration or stress.

8. BREATHE

As far as most people know, your event is going perfectly. An issue that may seem very big to you could go completely unnoticed by attendees. If you behave calm, cool, collected, and confident (even if it’s all a lie), people will believe that you have everything under control.

At the end of the day, a broken plate or a long line or a longer-than-planned speech will not ruin your event. Trust in yourself in the hard work you put into planning this event. You did everything you possibly could to make it perfect. If things go wrong, that is just the way it goes. Be proud of your incredible creation!