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Get to Know Grace

Hello readers!! If you’re reading this, it means Alicia, Hannah and I have successfully launched LVNG Limitless [insert sigh of relief and audience applause here]. I am SO excited to finally be sharing this project with friends and family. The three of us have been working on this for the past month and honestly, it’s been hard to focus on anything else.

I’ve been blogging for the past four years, but I’ve never been able to be consistent with posts and have struggled to actually engage readers in my content [I’m just really bad at holding myself accountable]. When I [jokingly] texted Leesh and Han saying the three of us would be a blogging #DreamTeam [still true], I didn’t think they would actually take me seriously. BUT, both of them responded with the same enthusiasm that I had and when we began talking about turning the idea into a reality, their eagerness affirmed what I already knew: both of these gals are so passionate about everything they do and inspire me constantly, there’s no one else I’d rather launch this new project with.

A little about me:

  • I LOVE Disney
  • I’m 100% a #LocalMusic stan
  • I have a newfound love for health and wellness [shoutout to CHAARG for that one]
  • I’m obsessed with all things arts and culture [especially locally], travels, media and empowerment

I’m currently studying journalism at Ohio University and hope to write for a lifestyle magazine post-graduation. Although blogging and journalism have very distinct and different styles, I hope to bring my passion for writing and the lessons I’ve learned throughout my journalistic career to LVNG Limitless. I want this blog to be a place where people can share their thoughts on relevant topics across a variety of categories [side note: if you’re interested in writing with us, visit our Get Involved page ;-)].

I don’t know if people will even visit our page or take the time to read our content, but I sincerely hope they do. So much dedication has gone into the launch of this site for the past few weeks and we could not be more excited to share it with you. If you’ve subscribed via email, followed any of our social media or are deciding right in this moment that you’re uninterested and don’t have any interested in reading more [that’s a little sad, but we’ll get through it] I want to thank you. This started with a random text on a random day based off of a random idea. If just one person visits our site today, I’ll be happy. I can’t wait to start this endeavor and see where it leads. I really hope you’ll follow along!

x Grace x

Get to Know Alicia

Hi everyone and welcome to LVNG Limitless!! Grace, Hannah and I have worked so hard on this over the past month and we’re so excited to share our hard work and passion with you all. Since the day Grace texted Hannah and me to say that hypothetically we’d be a blogging *dream* team, we knew we had to create something and share it with everyone. I’ve had joint blogs and solo blogs in my past seven years of blogging but I’ve never been more excited to blog with anyone than I am with these two girls. They inspire me every day to do my best, try new things and to write, of course! I hope all of you are just as excited about this new chapter in our lives as we are.

I’m currently a junior at Ohio University, studying Spanish Education and Spanish Language. I realized a little too late in the game that I really don’t have a passion for teaching so, once I graduate, I’ll be pursuing something else [I haven’t decided what yet] in grad school. I’m not sure where I’ll be in five years, I’m not even sure I’ll be in one year, but I do know I won’t be settling for anything less than I deserve. I am determined to find my passion no matter how many twists and turns I take on my path to getting there.

Some things I ~LOVE~

  • Writing — obviously, since I’ve been blogging for the past 7 years
  • Traveling — I’ve been to Peru, I’m heading to Spain this summer and another country next Spring to complete my student teaching
  • Health and Wellness — Through my student org CHAARG, I’ve been on a continuous journey to be the best I can be physically, mentally and emotionally
  • Music — I’m a huge music fan, love going to any sort of concert and am always on the lookout for music recommendations. Check out some of my favorite music here!
  • Crafting — I’m  not the best at it, but there’s something so satisfying about successfully completing a DIY and having it look ~amazing~

I can’t wait to share all of my traveling endeavors, my passion for writing, all things health and wellness, arts and culture, empowerment and more on this blog! I hope you enjoy what I have to say. So, grab a cup of coffee [or tea, we don’t discriminate], take your shoes off and get ready to live limitless.

Much Love,

Alicia ❤

Budget-Friendly Skincare Routine

For me, skincare has always been more important and intriguing than makeup. Of course, in my “tween” days I would spend countless hours on Youtube watching my favorite beauty gurus do their makeup and I would recreate the looks [not very well, might I add] and show my mom or my friends. But that soon became boring, so I dove into the world of skincare instead. I would watch so many people’s routines and see how they varied based on their skin type, affordability and the climate around them. Soon after, I was able to tell my own skin type, what ingredients in products I should stay away from, and I began purchasing a multitude of products I thought would make my skin 10 times more beautiful and clear, but instead did the opposite. 

I was putting so many products on my face that just didn’t work together and overloaded my pores with, for lack of a better word, junk. Now that I’m well out of the phase of going to Ulta and buying every single skincare product targeted toward my type of skin [combination/dry], I can confidently say that less is more, especially when it comes to skincare. [Since I also purchase my own skincare products, it’s important that the products that I use are also budget-friendly.] 

My favorite affordable skincare brand is Mario Badescu, which is sold at Ulta and other stores like Urban Outfitters. What drew me into this brand was their facial spray that I use to set my makeup [setting makeup essentially prevents it from rubbing off on other surfaces, like your clothes, throughout the day]. The spray is made with ingredients like aloe and rosewater and feels so light and refreshing, it honestly just melts my makeup together. I also use this spray in the morning after I apply my toner, and even throughout the day if my face feels like it could use a pick-me-up. Another product I love from Mario Badescu is the drying lotion. It’s a great spot treatment for pimples and I’ve found that it makes any blemishes disappear overnight. This is a little more on the expensive side [about $17], but it lasts for a while and is well worth the price. 

Speaking of toner, my favorite toner is from Thayer’s and comes in a huge bottle for only $10. Toner is great for getting the dirt you didn’t know was on your skin, off of it. I’m always surprised by how much my toner can dig up from my skin, especially makeup build-up. I usually use my toner after my face wash [CeraVe— nothing special, just gets the job done and doesn’t irritate my skin or cause breakouts] both morning and night. The Thayer’s toner is a lot more gentle than other toners that I have used and doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils. You can also pick this product up at Ulta, and even a few drugstores. 

Doing a nice face mask is one of my favorite things in the world. It’s so relaxing and your skin feels renewed after [what could be better?]. The key to face masks is to find one that works for you and to stick with it and not use anything else. Consistency is key when it comes to skincare [I can’t stress this enough]! My favorite one is the Indian Healing Clay Mask that you can buy from many stores, including Amazon. This mask comes as a powder, and you can mix it with apple cider vinegar, water and even honey [I choose to do a combination of ACV and honey]. This mask can be kind of harsh, especially if you use it every single day [which you shouldn’t be]. I usually use this mask 1 to 2 times per week, depending on how bad my skin is. I’ve found that this mask brings my blackheads to the surface which keeps me from digging at my skin and constantly popping pimples. 

Although the products that I use work for me, it doesn’t mean they are going to work for everyone. Pay attention to the amount of oil your face produces, if you get dry anywhere, the amount of acne you have and where it’s appearing on your face, your diet, water intake, etc. because all of this affects your skin. These are just some of the products that I love and have used for a while that work for me! I think we can all agree that a solid, affordable skin-care routine is needed for any busy college student.

Finding Adventure Amidst the Unknown 

Moving eight hours away from home brings many changes, especially if you’re moving into the middle of the woods in Virginia. Now, I know what you’re all thinking — spending eight weeks at summer camp sounds incredible! Well, yes and no. While camp life has its perks, there’s a big difference between spending eight weeks outside at summer camp versus eight weeks in a hot kitchen at summer camp. This summer, I spent my time as a kitchen director for Kandle Dining Services at Camp Ottari [a Boy Scouts camp located on Blue Ridge Scout Reservation]. 

Before camp, I did what I usually do before going into a new situation — I set my expectations low, [and I mean really low]. Being disappointed is a difficult feeling. Going somewhere I knew nothing about without knowing anyone at camp, and truly not knowing what I was going to be doing in my job left a lot of uncertainty for the summer. The only thing I really knew for certain was that my days were going to be long and exhausting. Oh, and that I probably wouldn’t have phone reception. 

Turns out I was right; I rarely had reception at camp. When I did, it was so slow I might as well have not had it. I didn’t scroll through my Instagram feed for two months. Some people might have hated that and not have been able to survive without social media, but I loved the feeling of “dropping off the grid” right after graduation.

Before camp started, I told myself I was going to delete most social media apps off my phone. While I never actually did this, I still rarely went on those apps because of the lack of cell service. To do work on my laptop, I had to use a hotspot which wasn’t much “The toughest, yet best moments are the ones you realize you’re going to miss while you’re still experiencing them.”better. Unplugging was much nicer than I expected. I’ll be the first to admit I’m nearly addicted
to my phone, but while at camp, there were days I’d finish working and my screen time would be 15 minutes [and that was only from using my calculator!]. After averaging five hours of screen time prior to camp, seeing the time I spent “plugged in” to the Internet decrease made me feel so accomplished. 

Not relying on your phone is liberating. I wasn’t worried about what everyone was doing, where people were traveling or what Snapchat stories I was missing that day. I recommend everyone takes a break from their phones and social media if they get the chance. There’s a whole world out there right in front of us that we often miss because we’re buried in our screens. 

Camp reminded me of college quite a bit. I moved far away into a cabin [that did not remind me of college] with four people I knew nothing about. At the beginning of the summer, we were all just strangers with a common goal: work and gain experience in the kitchen. At the end of the summer, we were a family and saying goodbye was more difficult than expected. My staff and I spent basically every hour together. From getting in the kitchen some mornings as early as 5 a.m. to make 1,000 pancakes for campers to not getting out of the kitchen until 9 p.m. during our busiest weeks [with over 400 campers on-site!]. I was definitely right about working long hours and being exhausted, but never did I think about the joy this summer would bring.

Each week, I got closer to my staff and to the camp staff who did an amazing job of making camp feel like home to me — something I didn’t realize I needed so much. I won’t lie, the first few weeks were rough in the kitchen. My staff consisted of five girls and we cooked for 250 to 400 campers, depending on the week. As with any new job, there’s going to be an adjustment period for everyone. This summer was the first time Kandle was in the kitchens at Camp Ottari, so our staff had to learn together. Whether it was half of our ovens not working for three weeks or the fridge breaking halfway into the summer, there was always a new problem that needed fixing. While this definitely induced some stress, it taught me a completely different side of leadership and team management, an area I thought I was pretty good at. News flash —you’re never done learning or growing in a position. 

As the weeks progressed and my team and I found our flow, everything started to be more relaxed and fun. Between hanging out with camp staff after dinner, heading down to the waterfront to canoe, attending opening and closing campfires and ziplining through the camp, there was always something to do. Our day off every week consisted of less than 24 hours between Saturday breakfast and Sunday lunch, but Saturdays quickly became filled with adventures around Virginia with the kitchen staff. 

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Whether you’re going to camp for the summer or studying abroad, traveling alone or working the days away, these are my top tips to make the most of your time: 

  1. Put yourself out there! I know, scary right? Making friends while you’re in a new place can be a great way to get exposure to the new culture you’re in. 
  2. Ask for help. Chances are, you’re not going to be familiar with the new area you’re spending time in. The locals [and new friends you’ve made!] will have great tips for making the most out of the area, what places to see and how to spend your time efficiently. 
  3. Slow down and enjoy the moment. Working all day can be draining and there will probably be times when you can’t wait for that day to end, but there’s always room to find good in every moment. Eight weeks flew by in the blink of an eye. It’s the little things that got me through the rough days, the people I was surrounded with, and the memories I was making.
  4. Take plenty of pictures! This seems like a given, right? Especially with how popular social media is now. Looking back on the summer, I don’t have much to show for it, and I wish I had more pictures to show my friends to help explain my experiences. 

Camp is truly indescribable at times. I truly dreaded the thought of being surrounded by 400 Boy Scouts before heading to Virginia. This summer was filled with “had to be there” moments [my personal favorite], laughter, tears and, luckily for me and my kitchen staff, no food fights! 

 

How to Make Your House Feel Like Home [On a Budget]

This past month, I did something I didn’t think I would be doing for a LONG time: I picked up the keys to the first house I’ve ever signed a lease for [I mean, I’m not really THAT much of an adult yet, am I?]. Living in a college town, the choices for off-campus housing are slim to none [and incredibly expensive]. Our house is nice, but it still feels like any generic college housing; it lacks the “home” feel. Though this is just a temporary living situation, I’ve still found some ~simple~ ways to make my house feel like a home.

FOR THE BEDROOM

Photos
Personal photos are the easiest way to instantly spruce up your bedroom. If you’re like me and attend college outside of your hometown, having a visual reminder of all of your loved ones can be the most comforting feeling when homesickness hits [and trust me, it will]. How you choose to display these photos is up to you. I do have a couple of picture frames displayed on my bedside table, but I prefer to hang individual photos directly on the wall [if you’re leasing, be sure to use removable adhesive for this!]. White walls can feel cold and barren, but by filling the space with vibrant photos [I’m a sucker for a good gallery wall], the room already feels more personal.

Tapestry
Another easy way to add color to a boring wall is with a tapestry. I bought mine off Society6 and absolutely adore it [notice the Disney’s Tangled vibes?]. A tapestry is a simple way to cover a large amount of space with little effort. When choosing yours, think of scenes that bring you comfort. If you’re an outdoorsy person, look for a tapestry that holds the same vibe. If you prefer magical settings [like me], opt for something a little more ethereal. While I love Society6’s tapestries, they can get to be pretty expensive. Check out Amazon for some more affordable yet equally adorable tapestries!

String lights
Okay, I will advocate for this until my last breath: the lighting sets the mood of a room. If your room’s lighting is dull, you’re going to feel lethargic. If the lighting is harsh and looks like hospital lighting [like most dorm rooms], you’re going to have a hard time relaxing in your space. Personally, I prefer a combination of lamps and string lights. I want my room to be well-lit enough that I can still see, but not so much that I still feel like I’m sitting in a classroom. [This has also helped motivate me to get out of bed to study or do homework. If I can’t see my work, I can’t do it from my bed. If I don’t do it from my bed, I won’t be tempted to sleep. Life is all a mind game, people.]

FOR THE BATHROOM

Towels
Hand towels are already an essential for your bathroom, so you might as well choose ones that are #cute. Whether you prefer witty phrases or delicate designs, decorating your bathroom with a fun hand towel adds your own personal flare to the space. 

Soap dispenser
Again, soap is a bathroom necessity, so why not choose a fun soap dispenser? Sure, you could stick with the generic store-bought hand soap bottles OR you could buy that hand soap in bulk [saves money, too!] and splurge a little bit on a decorative dispenser. Any way you can add your own style [and use less plastic to be a ~sustainable~ queen] into your living space is a win.

FOR THE KITCHEN

Mugs
Mugs will forever be my ride or die kitchenware of choice. Need coffee? Mug. Want some soup? Mug. Need to buy someone a gift? Mug. There’s just no down side to a good mug. It also helps that there is an endless design of mugs out there so you can find ones that fit your personality exactly. [A lot of my mugs were gifted to me and also serve as a reminder of the person who gave it to me.]

Food storage
My college students on a budget can relate to the struggle of trying to save money by not eating out so often. One way to do this is to meal prep. In order to do so, you’ll need a good amount of containers of different sizes. It is definitely worth it to opt for a set of food storage containers that you like [or, as Marie Kondo says, ones that spark joy]. I prefer glass containers with rubber lids, but many people prefer plastic [reusable, of course]. 

FOR THE LIVING ROOM

Throw pillows
If you know anything about me, you know that I LOVE a good decorative pillow. Though your couch will already bring a lot of comfort to your living room space, adding a couple of throw pillows can bring an even more significant pop of color and personality.

Blankets
There’s nothing quite like cozying up on the couch on a rainy day with a fluffy blanket and a good movie marathon. Draping a few blankets over the back of the couch [or folding them in a decorative basket] provides easy access and allows you to, quite literally, wrap yourself in comfort at any given moment.

Share with us on Instagram your favorite ways to spruce up your house!

Shop Local: Support Farmer’s Markets

The best part about Saturday mornings in the summer are farmers markets! Central Ohio has so many amazing options for farmers markets. This summer, I have visited two that Columbus has to offer: the Worthington Farmers Market and the Dublin Market. The two markets are unique in their own ways, from the fresh baked goods they offer to the local art on display. They are both held on Saturday mornings from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and will continue to run until October.

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I have been going to the Worthington Farmers Market for a few summers and it has easily become something I look forward to every year. The market is set up on a strip of local shops and restaurants. One of my favorite traditions to do while there is enjoy the market and then stop somewhere for brunch [my go-to spots are  La Chatelaine and The Whitney House]. After brunch, I always make sure to pick up a Native Cold Pressed Juice to sip on while I browse the market’s various vendors. The market features a ton of vendors from all over that supply fresh produce, pastries, cheeses, plants and coffee. All of the produce I have gotten from the market have been of the highest quality. The fresh blackberries sold at Worthington are some of the best I’ve ever had, but my absolute favorite market find is the raspberry jalapeno jam [trust me, it’s life changing]. Before leaving, my family always makes sure to stop at The Fromagerie to pick up mouth-watering cheese puff pastries.  

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Though the Worthington Farmers Market has become a summer staple for me, this year I wanted to be sure to also check out a new market. A few weekends ago, I visited the Dublin Market for the first time and loved it. It’s a newer market and features a lot of different vendors compared to the Worthington Market. They have a few booths with handmade kitchenware like bamboo cutting boards and patterned serving bowls that will add a bit of personality to any kitchen. A few local boutiques also set up booths with one-of-a-kind pieces. One of my favorite booths had handmade jewelry that was nothing like I’d ever seen before. To top it off, I didn’t leave the market empty-handed. While pursuing the vendors, I couldn’t help but buy a bouquet of fresh flowers, a chocolate croissant and of course, a cold brew coffee [LVNG Limitless runs on cold brew, honestly]. It was a perfect Saturday morning spent in Dublin, Ohio enjoying all things local. 

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Farmers Markets are the best way to simultaneously support local businesses and vendors while also filling your home with high-quality produce, food and other home goods. Share your favorite local markets with us on Instagram

Discover: Charleston, South Carolina

Vacations have always been different for my family. Ever since I was a little girl, my dad coached a select summer baseball team. As a result, I have always done most of my traveling through baseball tournaments. A few of my favorite places have been Orlando, Florida, St. Louis, Chicago, Pittspurgh and Ontario, Canada. This year, I’m adding Charleston, South Carolina to that list after my brother had a baseball tournament there. My family made the 10-hour drive a few days before the tournament began so we could appreciate the scenic history and culture the city has to offer.

Exploring Charleston’s History

My family and I spent the first day downtown, admiring the historic buildings like Rainbow Row and shopping at The Historic City Market. One of the most popular items that were being sold at the market were hand-woven grass baskets. I loved the originality of the baskets and how they related to the city, so I was curious about buying one, but to my surprise, they ranged from $200 to $300! Later, I learned that the price is so high because of the amount of time and energy it takes to weave just one basket.

That afternoon, we drove to the Angel Tree. Pictures definitely don’t do this species of Oak justice! Over the years, the branches have looped and intertwined. Due to its age, the park has posted up some of the branches to help support the weight of the tree. 

Embracing South Carolina’s Marine Life

The second day we went on a kayaking tour! I love kayaking at our family cabin in Northern Minnesota, but let me tell ya, kayaking on a lake is a piece of cake compared to the currents in the ocean [my arms were noodles the next day]. We also saw so much marine life like crabs, pelicans and a family of dolphins. 

Finding a Balance

The next few days followed with baseball games and some really good food with the team. My family has always struggled with balancing these trips as a family vacation and tournament. In years past, I have been the only older sibling on the trip and have felt out of place. I don’t necessarily want to hang out with the parents, but I also don’t want to be around my brothers. This year was different. My family made a conscious effort to balance family time with baseball time and it made all the difference in making this trip a memorable one.

Six Chicago Artists to Add to your Playlist

Chicago is known for its great strides within the Jazz and Blues industry. In today’s Chicago music scene, many up and coming artists try to pay homage to this history through their music, while adding their own unique style it. After realizing that more music exists other than what is repeated on Top 40 radio stations, I began to explore deeper into the music that’s created right in my backyard [metaphorically speaking]. Here are my top bands and solo artists [as well as my song recs] from the Chicagoland area. [Bonus: listen to all of my top Chicago music picks here.] 

 

Manwolves

Manwolves has to take the cake for my absolute favorite Chicago band [and one of my favorite bands of all time]. The six-piece, which even features a trumpet, has a great mix of jazz and R&B with a sprinkle of pop in its sound. The trumpet, an essential jazz instrument, adds such an interesting flair to each song that Michael Werner plays. Werner and his bandmates,  Julian Freeman [drums], Henry Wolf [bass], Eli Cohen [guitar], Ari Garfin [keyboard] and Jamie McNear [vocals]. are from a suburb outside of Chicago and have known each other since high school [where they first played as Manwolves] and have been best friends ever since. Their genuine friendship is seen both on and off stage and is contagious within the crowd. Whenever I’m home, I make it a point to go to every Manwolves concert I can. [PS: pls play in Athens.]

Top songs:  “You,” “Fisherman’s Friend,” “These Days,” “Fear and Loathing”

 

Ric Wilson

If you ever need to feel empowered, listen to Ric Wilson.  His sound is an electric hip hop that exudes feel-good vibes. At every concert, he does a ‘soul train’ which allows anyone in the crowd to show off their dance moves. He is very much into singing / rapping about the issues the Black community in Chicago are facing, like police brutality and incarceration, while also singing about black empowerment. We love a woke and empowering man.

Top songs: “Powerful,” “Hang Loose,” “We Love Us”

 

The Slaps

The Slaps are what I would consider to be a traditional “indie” band [though, what does “indie” even mean anymore?]. While two of its members originate from Kentucky, the band found its drummer, Josh Resing, when they all attended DePaul University. While in school, Resing, Rand Kelly [vocals] and Ramsey Bell [guitar] created The Slaps, thus making it acceptable for them to grace my top Chicago music blog post. Though the band is quite small,  unique vocals and minimal instruments create a sound that boasts an upbeat energy [with the occasional slower songs and ballads scattered throughout its discography]. The Slaps are still a pretty small band [less than 5000 followers on Instagram] but with the help of their friends, Manwolves, they are slowly climbing up the ladder of Chicago music and who knows, maybe they’ll be selling out The Aragon and Ravinia, two of Chicago’s most iconic concert venues, before we know it. 

Top songs: “Song for a Friend,” “Houses” 

 

Tasha 

Tasha is a solo artist who mainly creates dream pop music. Her beautiful voice mixed with a chill, groovy type of music will calm anyone [the perfect finals week soundtrack]. While her music is amazing, her social media presence is just as important. Extremely passionate about Black female empowerment, she uses her music [much like Ric Wilson] to empower black women and talk about the hardships black women face in their day to day life. 

Top songs: “Something About this Girl,” “Lullaby,” “Kind of Love”

 

Kaina

Very similar to Tasha is another solo artist, Kaina. She exudes the same dreamy and chill pop vibe in all of her songs and definitely isn’t afraid to play around with a synthesizer. She mixes Latinx sounds with the classic Chicago Jazz and Blues sound to create a one-of-a-kind sound. As a first-generation Latina [her parents immigrated to the US but she was born in the US], Kaina sings about her cultural identity and her detachment from it since she didn’t grow up living around a good majority of her family. 

Top songs: “La Luna,” “A Song to Sing” [a collab with Manwolves and Ric Wilson], “Honey”

 

Burns Twins 

I discovered the Burns Twins in a different way than all the previous artists. I was playlists deep on Spotify when I’d finished yet another Spotify Discover playlist. The next song that started playing was “Day by Day” by the Burns Twins. I’d heard of them through the Chicago music scene and from collaborations with Kaina, however, I’d never listened to any of their own music. Burns Twins collabs with a variety of artists, playing to their strengths in the technical side of creating music [usually a pop / hip hop mix]. With the twins as the driving force and the vocals of a talented lyricist, it’s hard for a great song to not be created. 

Top songs:  “La Luna” [a collab with Kaina], “Day by Day”

Six Tips to Work Well Under Stress

For as long as I can remember, keeping myself busy has always been my preference. I would rather have a full plate to keep my mind occupied than a bunch of downtime. When it came time for college, I was honestly feeling excited for the opportunity to take on a new challenge, and again, keep myself busy. In essence, I believe that’s a good thing — my drive is what allowed me to graduate a year ahead of schedule and have the nerve to apply for law school. Lately, though, I can admit I spread myself too thin while trying to accomplish those goals.

My summer was swept away with summer classes, LSAT prep [Law School Admissions Test], a summer internship and a part-time job. I quickly realized I had hardly any time for myself, my friends and my family. While I originally felt upset realizing what I had done, I now look at it as a lesson not only to myself, but for anyone who also relates to the love of staying busy. Sometimes, it is inevitable to be incredibly busy; for me, it was the only way to achieve my goal of graduating early. I will never advocate for giving up, but instead, I thought I would share some helpful tips that I followed to keep myself in check!  

Set an alarm for anything you actually need to do 

For me, this meant setting an alarm to remember take birth control, do my laundry or make an important call. It may seem a bit extra, but when you’re constantly running around trying to catch up, a loud reminder is typically what it takes to get stuff done! 

Make a realistic to-do list

We all love making to-do lists, but joke about not being able to cross everything off. In my opinion, for school, there needs to be a line. I would set unrealistic goals for myself, and as a result, I didn’t sleep until 4 or 5 in the morning. I also believe that part of finishing a to-do list is the sense of accomplishment, or feeling like you’re doing enough! A major point of these tricks is to feel more empowered! 

Give yourself the appropriate dinner-time setting, and take a break while you eat.

One of the worst mistakes I made was coming straight home from work, grabbing something quick from the fridge and beginning to cram in my homework. We absolutely need time to decompress, and I believe it makes the most sense to be enjoying the food we eat. Instead of trying to multitask something as important as fueling your body, give yourself 20 minutes to enjoy dinner without shoving your face in a screen.

Keep a calendar with only your homework assignments on it

This summer I was taking four classes online, which left me basically on my own to learn. The best way for me to keep track of my assignments were to download printable calendars and only list my school assignments on them. Instead of listing the due dates of assignments, I would put them on my calendar one day earlier than they were due. Not only did I keep myself ahead of schedule, I also kept myself from becoming overwhelmed by looking at each commitment’s due dates individually. 

Don’t neglect your relationships

It is so important to maintain steady relationships with friends and family. At the beginning of my summer, I found myself canceling plans with everybody so that I could sit at home and do homework. Yes, homework is important, but as mentioned earlier, we need a break. Being happy alongside good company reduces stress, which ended up positively impacting my grades when I took my own advice. Having fun every once in awhile is important! 

Don’t be too hard on yourself 

Most importantly, cut yourself some slack. I remember getting a less than fabulous grade on an assignment this summer and hating myself for days over it. Because of that, I got less accomplished because I was so consumed with my mistakes. Instead, take a step back and breathe. Remind yourself that what you’re doing can be intense and you’re bound to make mistakes — we’re only human, after all. 

Influencer Spotlight: Melissa Tatti

Sustainability has become a hot topic in today’s culture due to the evident positive effects it has had on our environment. Young adults especially have started to take action in protecting and preserving our environment in various simple initiatives that already fit into our daily routines. Replacing single-use plastics with reusable ones, not consuming as many meat and dairy products [even going as far as being vegan or vegetarian] and even shopping for clothing and other material items at second-hand stores. Thrifting has become incredibly popular the past five or so years, and last summer I found myself watching various Youtube creators thrift their wardrobes and turn well-loved pieces into something fresh and trendy. 

Melissa Tatti, aka “ThreadsObsessed” on Youtube [as well as Instagram] is one of the only thrifting, fashion-based channels that I subscribe to and continually watch because she puts so much effort into what she is creating, from showing viewers when she initially thrifts the item, to transforming and styling an outfit. Melissa does “Thrift with Me” vlogs which allows viewers to see what kind of pieces she looks for in a thrift store, what older brands have a growing value in today’s fashion world, and she even puts looks together while she shops. 

Not only does Melissa thrift clothing items for herself, she also sells and transforms them on Depop, a popular [usually second-hand] retail app. Before checking out her Depop page, I didn’t expect much from it, I just thought it would be a place for her to post simple photos of what she was trying to sell from her thrifting journeys. However, Melissa beautifully and uniquely, transforms her thrifted clothing pieces into styled looks that no one else has. 

As she mentions and depicts on her Youtube channel, Melissa spends countless hours thrifting items from various thrift stores [in Canada, where she lives], transforming the pieces, and then photographing them for her Depop page. She also does all of this from her home, including packaging Depop orders. Melissa has a room dedicated to her booming Depop business and even a studio style set-up for photographing her pieces. Needless to say, Melissa is extremely hardworking and it’s inspiring to see the amount of success she’s achieved in such little time. 

Her own personal style, as showcased on her social media, has developed over the years, ranging from Nascar and Harley Davidson ‘90s style jackets, to Y2K baby blue eyeshadow and low-rise jeans type looks [the early 2000s are definitely back]. Regardless of her ever changing style, Melissa’s “girl boss” attitude remains the same, and it’s empowering to see a woman of her age as successful as she is, yet still eager to achieve more. Melissa is one of my favorite social media creators and her passion for fashion is contagious! 

10 Essential Items to Bring to College

As the first child in my family to go away to college, it’s safe to say I was absolutely clueless when it came to deciding what I needed to pack. Other than the obvious [bed sheets, clothes, etc.], I didn’t really know what other items would be essential and which I could live without. I definitely overpacked freshman year [I probably overpacked sophomore year too, but that’s just how I am, okay? I have a lot of stuff]. Fortunately, between all of us here at LVNG Limitless, we’ve had a LOT of time to learn from trial and error. Here are our top 10 essential items that made life so much easier when going away to school. [Find a ~complete~ college packing list from Alicia here.] —Grace

Planner

All throughout elementary school, I was given a year-long academic planner [along with other generic school supplies] from the school’s administration. By the time I went to high school, it was just natural for me to purchase a planner with the rest of my notebooks. It wasn’t until I got to college and realized that not everyone plans out every minute of every day [guilty] in a spiral-bound book. But trust me, you’re gonna want some way to keep track of your classes, papers, exams and any other meetings or events you have going on throughout the year. Recently, I’ve started utilizing Google calendar more, but there’s just something about having a pen and paper record of my responsibilities that makes me feel more organized. [Pro tip: Our fav planner brands are Passion Planner, Blue Sky and Vera Bradley.]

Headphones

It seems like an unimportant item, but when finals are coming up and the population on campus seems to double as everyone finally begins to attend class and camp out at the library, you’re really going to want a pair of headphones. We recommend investing in a high-quality pair [we recommend AirPods and wireless Powerbeats] to drown out any distractions while trying to be productive. [Bonus: having a pair of wireless headphones will also be incredibly convenient during your workouts.]

Multi-drawer cart

Let’s be honest, dorm living does not come with a lot of storage and it doesn’t cost much to provide some of your own [ask your roommate to split the cost to make it even cheaper!]. Home goods stores are the perfect go-to when looking for practical storage products. The most ideal is a rolling cart that contains multiple drawers. The drawers can be so convenient to store snacks and other miscellaneous items while the wheels make it easy to keep it out of the way.

Mattress topper

You know the stories of dorm mattresses having absolutely no comfort factor? Yeah, well, those stories are true and I guarantee that if you try to sleep on the mattress as is, you’re not going to be very well rested. Simple mattress toppers can be inexpensive, especially the ones made specifically for dorm beds [twin XL, in most cases, if you were wondering]. It doesn’t take anything too fancy, but even just some layer of cushion on top of the stiff springs and vinyl fabric will improve your sleep drastically.

French Press

Coffee is expensive. As a self-proclaimed coffee addict, I can tell you for a fact that spending $2.75 on an iced coffee everyday really does add up. So, for Christmas I asked for a french press coffee maker and finally made the switch during spring semester [I still buy coffee, of course, but significantly less]. The beauty of a french press is that you have the option to brew coffee regularly for a hot morning mug, or brew the grinds with cold water and let sit in the fridge overnight for a sweet glass of iced coffee. Bags of coffee grinds and coffee creamer are much cheaper than most individual coffee drinks and require purchase a lot less frequently. [Alternative: Keurig’s are also a convenient replacement to the dorm-forbidden coffee pot, but lack the option of cold brew – some brands even make biodegradable K cups for those of you worried about the waste that a Keurig produces.]

Powerstrip

You probably won’t have many outlets in your dorm room [or, if you do, they may all end up on your roommate’s side]. Specific powerstrips are allowed in the dorms and are a lifesaver when all you have to work with for the year is one single outlet. You’re going to need more things plugged in than you might realize [phone charger, laptop charger and a lamp, to name a few]. 

Printer
In true collegiate fashion, most universities charge a fee to use the library’s printers. Investing in a high-quality printer that will last even after you’ve graduated is the smartest move. Not only will you save on each page printed [we promise, at some point you’re going to have to write a long essay and it’s going to need to be printed and those 75 cents per-page can really add up], but you will also be able to print from the comfort of your own home. There’s nothing worse than realizing that final paper due first-thing tomorrow has yet to be printed and the nearest printer is nowhere near your way to class.

Command Strips

Check with your specific residence hall on this one, but most dorms require Command Strips when hanging picture frames, tapestries, etc. Though some newer dorms prefer you use nails, most will opt for the less-mess alternative. Command Strips will protect your walls from any holes or damages that you could be charged for at the end of the year. Command Hooks also offer one more place to store items like towels, jackets and bags.

Water bottle / reusable cups

We’re all about reducing our plastic use and reusable water bottles and cups are the easiest way to do so. Brands like Camelbak and Hydroflask are specifically designed to keep your water cold for long periods of time, so you’ll stay adequately hydrated during a long day of classes. Reusable cups and straws are also a good alternative when buying coffee or tea from cafes on campus [most coffee shops will even offer a discount if you bring your own cup!].

Drawer liners

Dorms are the perfect place for germs to manifest. Sharing such a small space with another person is bound to make cold and flu season unbearable [if your roommate gets sick, you may as well start counting down the days until you’re sick as well]. Though each dorm is cleaned after former residents move out, one place that is most commonly neglected are the inside of dresser drawers. Sticky temporary drawer liners not only provide a layer of protection from any lingering germs, but also add a flare to the drab school-issued furniture. 

~Still want more? Check out our girl Savannah’s college packing essentials!~

Discover: Chicago, Illinois

Living in the suburbs of Chicago my entire life has granted me many days trips to my absolute favorite city. With that being said, I have done so much in and around the city. It’s impossible to discover the entire city of Chicago in one week, let alone a day, but here are my top five must-sees for the perfect day in Chicago. 

Start the Day at Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea and Stan’s Donuts in Wicker Park 

Chicago is made up of a lot of little “villages.” Wicker Park happens to be one of my favorites. Head down to Milwaukee Avenue and enjoy a nice shot of espresso or iced coffee [or both] from Fairgrounds Coffee and Tea. They offer a wide variety of cold brews, espresso and matcha, as well as some sweet treats. Their nitro cold brew is ~amazing~ and Fairgrounds is definitely one of my favorite shops I’ve found. Once you have had your caffeine fix, walk around the corner to Stan’s Donuts and Coffee for a freshly baked donut [or two]. The owner of Stan’s is originally from California, but in 2014 he and Rich Labriola, owner of Chicago’s famous Labriola baking company, opened Stan’s Donuts and Coffee in the heart of downtown Chicago. They now have a plethora of shops in and around the city of Chicago and are always bustling with business [see the line that snakes out the door for proof]. Stan’s even has one or two vegan donut options [depending on the day] so they already receive an A+ in my book [education major pun intended]. While you’re there, don’t miss the opportunity to head down the street to take a photo with the iconic “Greetings from Chicago” sign. 

Check out a Museum at Chicago’s Museum Campus

One of the things that Chicago is known for are its museums. Boasting over 70 museums, there is certainly an exhibit for every kind of tourist. My personal favorite is the Art Institute. This museum is not situated on the museum campus, but just a few blocks away on Michigan Avenue. The Art Institute always has new art and exhibits for any art taste. From sculptures, the miniature room, modern art, textiles, ancient art and more, it’s easy to lose track of time and spend all day here. My tip for visiting museums on a time crunch: do some research the night before and make a list of what you want to see in the time you have so you aren’t running from one end of a museum to the next because you forgot to see the iconic Georgia O’Keefe painting, Sky Above Clouds IV [yes, I may or may not have done that].

Head over to The Chicago Diner for Lunch

Walking through museums can be exhausting and the last thing you want to do is spend an obscene amount of money on museum food. One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago [due to it being 100% vegetarian and having the ability to make every item on their menu vegan] is The Chicago Diner. A quaint restaurant in Boystown features the best milkshakes this city has to offer as well as breakfast all day long — what could be better? There isn’t one thing on the menu I would recommend more than another because every single item I have ever tried there is phenomenal. You might even score free parking [a rarity in Chicago] if you get there when there isn’t a traffic rush happening!

 Walk Around Lincoln Park and Enjoy the Best Cupcakes Ever Made

Just a quick drive or ‘L’ [the Chicago version of the Subway] ride away from The Chicago Diner is Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park is one of my favorite Chicago “villages” for so many reasons. From the lake view to the conservatory to walking the breathtaking DePaul campus [where I almost went to school, actually] there’s always a sight to see. Also, if you have room in your stomach after feasting at The Chicago Diner, sinking your teeth into some cupcakes from Swirlz Cupcake Shop is a must. Located just down the street from DePaul University, Swirlz offers cupcakes for people with most allergies [nut free, dairy free and gluten free]. Swirlz has 18 different vegan and gluten-free cupcakes that they rotate throughout the week as well as regular cupcakes as well. Check their website or give them a call to see if they have the cupcake you want today!

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End the Day with a Cubs game at Wrigley Field

Not everyone is a sports fan, I get that. However, in my opinion, a trip to Chicago is not complete without a baseball game at Wrigley Field. With its iconic ivy, tons of [overpriced] food options and almost every seat filled, Wrigley Field is exactly what a baseball park should be. Enjoy a hotdog [Chicago style of course] and a Malt cup [or a pretzel and cotton candy if you’re like me] and enjoy a great night of friends, food and America’s favorite pastime. 

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