Monday, June 19, 2017

Another Year, Another Lilly Agenda

Kaixo everyone,

Y'all, it's that time of the year again. It's time to choose my agenda for next year, and lo and behold, I cannot choose which to buy. No news. I have had a Lilly Pulitzer agenda since 2014. My first Lilly agenda was probably my favorite grad school purchase. Grad school can be gloomy with all the challenges, work and long hours, and having a splash of color in your backpack is definitely a little lifeline. In fact, whenever I was bored in class (oops!), I used to organize my planner (guilty as charged). I crowded it with stickers mainly, lol.

My agenda is definitely an important part of grad school, and choosing which one to use for the entire school year is essential. While I think Kate Spade agendas are really professional and have beautiful covers, they are a little gloomy for me. Maybe it's a sign I'm not ready to grow up yet? Possibly.

In spite of my current relationship with Lilly Pulitzer, I still consider myself loyal to Lilly planners. I've had the Peelin' Out for 2014-2015, Wild Confetti for 2015-2016 and Southern Charm for 2016-2017, and I've loved these planners with all my heart.

As you can see, they are all quite different, but they have some things in common: All three have busy prints, flowers (and they are not Tusk in the Sun because for heaven's sake Lilly, not everyone likes that print!). They are all large agendas, and I feel this size is the most practical for me. It fits my backpack nicely and gives me enough space for everything I write in it, which is quite a handful.

For this year's prints, I loved the Beach and Bae print. It has sailboats and it reminds me of my Ali dress in Out to Sea. Unfortunately, this print is only found in the Jumbo version, and it's too much for me, considering that aside from French and Catalan, I'm not taking classes this year. Thus, my favorite options are the following:

Gypsea, 30$
Sparkling Sands, 30$
They are both busy prints, no elephants, but only Gypsea has flowers. However, Sparkling Sands has more colors. I am SO TORN. I found Kate's review of the large agendas at Lonestar Southern really funny and helpful, but I felt I could relate to almost all the aspects she outlined for each agenda! I am definitely going to need to see some IRL pictures of these two to make my final decision. Your help is also appreciated! Which one do you like best? If you have chosen one, which did you choose?


- Ane

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Like it, like it, love it, love it, PHI MU till I die!

Kaixo everyone,

Today's post is something I have been wanting to write about for a long time, and I am so excited to share it with you now! A little bit of background on myself. I went to college at the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria, Spain, where I majored in English Philology. I also did my junior year abroad in Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. For grad school, I moved to Illinois, and I've been at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for four years now.

My experience in Vitoria was alright, I made great friends and really liked my program, but I did not enjoy the city and went back home every weekend. Colorado was absolutely amazing. I enjoyed the place, the school, and the whole "American college" atmosphere. When I moved to Illinois, I expected something similar. Going to a Big 10 school is the "American college" idea on steroids. However, it is not the same to go to an American college to study abroad as going for grad school. As an international exchange student, you are the focus, professors consider your differences and you are traveling and enjoying life. As a grad student, you are no different than others, you need to work, and work HARD.

Both in Vitoria and Colorado, my social life was booming. I don't just mean I went to the bars constantly. I knew multiple people from different backgrounds and I got to hang out with different people all the time. Being in such a small graduate program in Illinois, my social circle is very reduced, and I am always with the same people. I have made lifelong friends here, but I often long for hanging out with different people and having friends outside of school.

So... I joined Phi Mu.

Wait... what? At 25? 3 years after graduating? How? Why? Let's start with Phi Mu itself. Phi Mu Fraternity (the full real name) was founded on March 4th, 1852 at Wesleyan College in Macon, GA, by the badass trio: Mary, Mary and Martha. It is the second oldest fraternal organization for women after ADPi, which was founded at Wesleyan just a few months before Phi Mu.

Now for how it happened. If you do not know, the University of Illinois, with 91 fraternities and sororities, has one of the largest greek schools in the nation. The demand is very high, and after leaving campus on 2011, Phi Mu was back in Fall 2016 to U of I. As per usual, the fraternities and sororities colonizing have a tent where they hand out fliers, goodies, and most importantly, inform potential new members about joining the organization. When I saw the bright pink tent of Phi Mu, I was like... what in tarnation? As a curious yet incredibly awkward girl that I am, I walked past many times and didn't stop to say hi. I know, I'm SUPER AWK. However, one day I saw they had donuts, and on my way back from Starbucks to my office, I asked what it was about.

The ladies that were by the tent, Keke and Alex, were super nice and helpful. They explained the process, how they were looking for a strong new member class to re-establish the chapter, etc. I let them know that I was a graduate student, yet they still invited me to get the goodies they were gonna have in the following days, and gave me information, including the e-mail of the Director of Extension.

So when I got back to my office, I thought about it, and I e-mailed her. I was aware that some sororities carry out the Alumnae Initiation process, whereby women that are not in college become alumnae sisters of the sorority, and I asked her about it. She put me in contact with Coley, who was in charge of extension on campus, and after meeting with her and discussing how it would work, the process started. After getting a recommendation and an invitation for membership, I was initiated November 12th, 2017, two days after my birthday. And let me tell you, it was the best birthday gift of all. You can see from the pics below that I was happy as a clam (dress from Rent The Runway)!

Dress from Lilly Pulitzer (old)
With Phi Mu, I've gotten to meet incredible women. It seems like such a cliché to say it, but it really is true. As an alumna, I do not get to hang out with sisters as much as collegiate members, but whenever the Chapter Consultants have invited me to chapter, or I have gone to philanthropic events or initiation, I have left with a sense of pride, determination and happiness.

As the Delta Beta chapter (the UIUC chapter) has just been re-established, there is a lot of work to do. Each chapter has a chapter adviser, but this one, apart from her, has different advisers for different areas. I am currently the Academic Excellence Adviser, and I work with the Academic Excellence Chair (shout out to Katie!) to help members reach their goals academically and professionally. Headquarters also placed two different chapter consultants for the fall and spring semesters. I started as an adviser in the spring semester, so I got to know the spring semester CCs, Maura and Allie, better.
With Katie (Dress: Lilly Pulitzer (old) // Earrings: Kendra Scott // Wedges: Steve Madden
With Maura and Allie

Working with the three of them, and the rest of advisers and chapter members has absolutely rocked my world. People still ask me if I'm in a sorority doing all the partying and all that. While sororities do have that social aspect, I do not do that. I probably would have if there were sororities at home or in Colorado, but joining as an alumna has been one of the greatest decisions. Some people think alumnae initiation is rare and sometimes they confuse it with collegiate membership. It is rare, but it is different, and it definitely does happen!

Some people have also asked me if I party with the girls (who are some years younger than me), or if I will live at the house. The answer is no. I provide guidance, help, or anything they may need that they think I can help with. I have gotten to know individuals and all their potential, and I have been able to see them succeed academically, professionally and as a chapter altogether. In exchange, I get a sisterhood of over 185,000 sisters in the US and beyond. Living by the same values and the same creed really do create this unexplainable bond, and I sure as hell will smile at anyone wearing my letters, strike a conversation with them or give them a hug. With so many women and so many differences, it is still amazing that Phi Mu bonds us.

If you are a college-aged girl or a grad student, I really, really encourage you to find your niche. Be it a sorority, club or volunteering organization, find a group of people who will empower you, help you thrive, lead you to find your passions, and also important, who will help you unwind and create new relationships with people. Phi Mu has helped me with all this, and I cannot wait to see how the following years will go.

- Ane

Sunday, June 4, 2017

All About Gingham

Kaixo everyone,

I don't know if it's me, that I have way too much free time now, that I browse online stores constantly,  or that my eyesight is just going squary, but I see gingham EVERYWHERE. I've always loved gingham. It's a really easy pattern to wear, reminds me of my childhood, and it's just downright adorable and preppy. I love that it's back because you can have both classic and more contemporary pieces. I have seen it on new cuts, accessories I would never think of, and everywhere in Zara (and if it's in Zara, it's a done deal). I rounded up the following gingham lovelies for your (and my) consumption, including a couple of pieces that I own:

Clockwise from top left:
Zara Top with Contrasted Embroidery: I bought this top right after I got home, and even though I thought it would be ill-fitting, it has become one of my favorite tops. The embroidery is gorgeous, and it can be perfect with a bright colored cardigan for summer or a navy cardigan for the office.
ASOS Midi Skirt with Tied Waist: I have a secret to confess *cue dramatic music*. I do not wear anything yellow, ever. I've always associated that color with bananas, and I do not think wearing the same color as a banana looks good on me, at all. People with darker skin usually look amazing in yellow, but not me. However, the yellow in gingham is usually softer, easier on my nuclear white pale skin. Also, not showing my butt when I sit while wearing a skirt #tallpeopleprobs is a huge bonus.
Draper James Cotton Sundress: This dress is the kind of dress you look at with longing when you see it at the storefront while your mom takes you to a cheaper store (and moms are always right, do go to the cheaper store). However, if dreaming is allowed, this is what I'd wear while doing Alice in Wonderland shenanigans. Also, Carly from The College Prepster is #goals with it.

Boohoo Cold Shoulder Bow Top: Okay everyone, have a look at the description of this top. Cold Shoulder. Bow. The people at Boohoo are incredibly smart. They have combined two of the most prominent trends, the cold shoulder trend and the one at hand in this post, and my weakness in all garments: Bows. Payday where you at?
ASOS Smock Dress: Another confession *cue super dramatic music*: I do not wear red either (except for one occasion a year, I may blog about it when it comes up). It is a very bold color for me. I do believe it looks good, but not as good as blue, pink or green. In any case, should I choose to wear red with gingham, this fun dress would be my top 1 pick.
J. Crew Bow Hair Tie: Pardon my French, but hair ties are the absolute s**t, especially if they are cute like this one. They can double as both a hair tie or a bracelet, they are comfortable, easy to put on and remove, and if you have long hair, a must-have all day, everyday.
Superga 2750 Calico Sneaker: Introducing: the Italian darling sneaker Superga gets a gingham makeover. I have still not bit the bullet with these shoes due to my everlasting loyalty to my white Chucks, but if I were to, these would be great to start with.
J. Crew Shirt: I have this shirt, and let me tell you, it's amazing! Lightweight, casual and put-together at the same time (you thought that was not possible, right? Well ha! J. Crew does it again!), this shirt combines my love for pink, gingham, casual, and preppy into one perfect cottony bundle.
GaiaTM for J. Crew Pom Pom Bag: This is the most fun piece of this roundup, hands down! Pom poms, whether you like it or not, are very in style. You'd have to live under a rock not to know this. I've mentioned this before, but poking and crushing pom poms in your hand is the greatest stress relief. Give it a gingham touch and boom! Love at first sight.
River Island Cross Body Bag: If I had to make a list of in what order I'd buy the pieces of this round-up (and without considering the shirts that I already own), this would be my number one pick. My favorite gingham combos are white and blue and white and pink. I can imagine dressing my future babies in them. This bag color blocks both of them, and the effect is sleek and elegant like a young London aristocrat wreaking havoc in Chelsea, yet charming and traditional like the gingham of your childhood. River Island for the win.

This round-up is probably the one I've done on the blog that I like most, but I swear to God I could've kept adding and adding dresses, shirts, and swimwear to this list. That is why I hope you give me more gingham recommendations. Sound off below!


- Ane