April 2015 – A Little Leopard
April 2015 – A Little Leopard

April 2015 – A Little Leopard

Hear me out on this: Pinterest doesn’t always have to be a spiraling time-suck. I mean, it can (look at all the pretty pictures!), but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I’m here to argue that you can actually use Pinterest to be more efficient, not less. Harder, better, faster, stronger, if you will.

So, here are five ways to use Pinterest for productivity, and excuse some of those hours “wasted” on the site.

1. Plan your outfits – This one is first because it might be my favorite. Pinterest is a seemingly endless source of sartorial inspiration. Create a board of outfits you’d like to recreate, and try to include ones with pieces similar to things you already own. I’m a huge fan of secret boards for stuff like this: I have my public “wear” board for inspiration, and a secret “outfit planning” board with weather-appropriate outfit options that I can recreate for the week. Because who doesn’t love a good Sunday night Pin-sesh?

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2. Plan your meals – I try to make it a rule to only pin recipes I might actually cook and eat, similar to pinning outfits that feature stuff already in my closet. Before you head to the grocery store, pin a few recipes and use those to start your shopping list. Bonus: if the source of the recipe has “rich pins” enabled, you may not even need to leave Pinterest for the directions!

3. Get in shape – Be your own gym and curate a collection of home workouts and fitness tips on Pinterest. I can’t help you with the motivation to actually do them consistently (in fact if anyone has tips there, I’d greatly appreciate them), but I can certainly help you get started with some choice fitness pins.

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4. Prioritize purchases – Another great way to use secret boards! Sure, I’ve got a public “wishes + wants” board, but that’s more for generous-feeling friends and relatives. I also have a secret board called “things to buy” with things I’d like to purchase myself at some point, whether it’s for my apartment, closet, or something else. Seeing all these wishes in one spot helps me budget and figure out what I really want/need first, instead of running out and spending money on whatever shiny things happen to catch my eye at the moment.

5. Plan a trip, or create a local bucket list – Going on vacation with some friends? Create a collaborative board so you can all plan together! Map-boards are also great for this, whether you’re exploring locally (like my “hometown love” board – please don’t judge the fact that it’s currently mostly bars and coffeeshops…) or internationally.

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Do you use Pinterest to help organize your life? What are some of your favorite productivity hacks?

Happy Monday! I know the weekend flew by for me, but even if you’re in the same boat you can still be refreshed and ready to tackle the week. So brew your coffee and let’s get to it:

mantra / this awesome painting by tumblr user Agony in Eight Colors. Show Monday (+ the rest of your week) who’s boss.

wear / any + everything from Madewell’s spring collection, but especially this tee + midi combo. Now if only the weather would cooperate … still a little chilly in Chicago for an outfit like this.

listen / i’ve had a couple new awesome songs + albums on repeat on Spotify lately, including singles from Florence + the Machine (“What Kind of Man” and “Ship to Wreck” are both genius) and new albums from Passion Pit and The Decemberists. More of what I’m listening to lately is available in this massive “Mood of the Moment” playlist.

recharge / These iced coffee recipes from Refinery29 sound like perfect pick-me-ups. I want to try pretty much all of them…just (probably) not all in the same day…

Take that, Monday! How do you prep + get motivated for the work week ahead?

It appears that since my last Insta-update, I’ve done a lot of eating out, from the new Miss Ricky’s diner in Virgin Hotels Chicago to my first Sprinkles ATM visit of the year. That, or I’m taking more food pictures generally. Here’s a peek at a few other things I’ve been up to this month, according to my Instagram:

You know what they say: April showers bring May flowers. I’ve been wanting Hunter boots for a very long time, and scored these beauties for a pretty good price at Akira – so now I almost sort of want it to rain so I can wear them more often! I’ve also been wearing these little Target flats frequently; can’t find them on the site right now but an equally cute Sam & Libby pair is available instead! Seriously, Target’s shoe game is on point right now. It’s a little ridiculous.

Hey look, it’s the Target shoes in action! I got my hair cut at a new salon this month (which reminds me, I need to schedule my next appointment) and loved everything from the location to the decor to, yes, the coffee. Oh, and my hair, too, I guess. Read more about it here!

Sometimes my friend Nicky convinces me to exercise. This is the photo proof.

My friend Stephanie recently moved to Wicker Park, giving me an excuse to get out that way more. I’m a little bit obsessed with Wicker Park/Bucktown, and it’s tied with Logan Square for my favorite Chicago neighborhood. We tried the super-new Scone City, which serves proper English-style scones (none of that dry American crap) in amazing flavors like brie, thyme and honey. They serve a mean iced redeye, too.

Finally, I’ve been re-reading Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl and it’s easily one of my favorite books. I know Lena can be a pretty divisive/controversial figure but I’m not really clear on why. I’m a fan. I find her work incredibly relatable. I may not have been raised by artists in Soho, but I totally get her POV. Her essays inspire me to go out there and make something…I just have to be brave enough to write it down.

Also, I styled this shot up with some macarons (#guiltypleasure), and Instagram seemed to really like that.

Happy Friday, everyone!

photo: Death to the Stock Photo with edits by me

In an ideal world, I would wake up at 6:00 a.m. every morning after getting a full eight hours of sleep, drink lots of green juice and exercise daily…all while kicking butt at my job, having a fabulous social life and somehow staying super-stylish and on top of my finances at the same time.

Clearly, we don’t live in an ideal world.

I have learned that having it all is a myth and work-life “balance” is a term very much open to interpretation. I’m still figuring out what that means to me, and there is a lot of trial-and-error involved. So, yeah, I am by no means an expert. I bought a yoga mat and I have used it approximately once. I make sure to pack a lunch for work 99% of the time, but buy a little too much Starbucks during the week. I budget for clothing but tend to overspend, cutting into my grocery budget (oh hi, ramen diet). But I’m in my twenties and according to the world, I’m not necessarily supposed to have it all figured out right now, so that’s okay.

As much as I like to joke about what a “hot mess of a human being” I am, it’s not like I’m falling apart by any means. And while I don’t always follow them all the time, there are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to help with this balancing act known as post-graduate life:

Prioritize – You can cry about how there aren’t enough hours in the day until the cows come home, but that’s not going to magically put more hours into the day. (That’s some tough Midwestern love for ya right there.) That’s why prioritizing is key, and priorities will differ person to person and even week to week. This week, spending time with family might be a priority while other weeks it’s work. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing makes decision-making easier, and you don’t have to feel guilty about or justify those decisions, either.

Sleep – I know I just said that priorities are up to the individual, but everyone should make sleep a priority as often as possible. Being well rested will make you more alert and able to take on everything else that comes your way. I know very well that it’s easier said than done, but consistently getting 7-8 hours a night will improve pretty much everything else in your life, as far as I can tell.

Take a break – Doing a million things at once? Feel like your to-do list is a mile long? Take a break – even for five minutes. Walk around the office. Walk outside. Scroll through Instagram. Get a coffee. Whatever it takes to restart your engines…but that’s the key second part of this tip. Restart your engines! Don’t let the break turn into hours of procrastination. Reset and refocus.

Enjoy the little things – Texting an old friend. Nice weather. Seeing a dog on your walk home. Sometimes, we’re moving entirely too fast to see this stuff. Slow down, notice, breathe and appreciate. Yeah, it’s a little hippie-dippie, but that’s because it’s true!

Forgive yourself – So maybe you only got four hours of sleep. Maybe you did end up procrastinating, and staying late at work because of it. You are not failure or a hot mess of a human being. You’re just human. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on – because this great balancing act called life will go on, and it will all be okay in the end.

This post was written as part of The B Bar’s monthly linkup series – to read other bloggers’ thoughts on balance, check out the links below:

The B Bar // 26 and Not Counting // Rae Loves // Sarah Hartley // Carrie Loves // Soak and Simmer // The Not Quite Adult // White Cabana // PreppyPanache // LiskaMonet // Alyssa J Freitas // Rossetto // With Love From Ellie // Cake & Lilies // Feathers and Stripes // Leigh Clair // White Oak Creative // Life Modifier // Perfect Enough for Us // Random Little Faves // Jacque Of All Trades // Business Betties // Girl for Granted // Alicia Tenise // The Yuppie Flies // It’s Droolworthy // Something Good Blog // Elana Lyn // Forth Chicago // Emilie Lima Burke // Manifest Yourself // Fit for a Bride Blog // A Little Leopard // Coral and Cognacs // Little Wild Heart // It’s Julien // Boys and Bombshell // Meg Biram // Victoria McGinley

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I’m a huge fan of the #shelfie trend on Instagram, but it does prove that there is a definite art to shelf-styling. Bookshelves are one of those dual-purpose items: necessary for storage purposes, but also a great opportunity to add some color and personality to your home. An organized, visually appealing shelf is also so much more calming and space-anchoring than a messy catchall. I should know – one of my bookshelves is a bit of a hot mess at the moment, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to hide my cables/modem/blu-ray player.

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So, how do you achieve a perfectly-styled shelf worthy of your Instagram feed? The tips and tricks below will get you started:

  • Invest in pretty baskets and bins to contain and conceal clutter. I own and love these Kate Spade boxes (in neon), and use them to stash things like charging cords and my nail polish collection.
  • Shelves aren’t just for books. Create visual interest with a collection of mementos, books, jewelry, and even shoes – whatever strikes your fancy!
  • Avoid clutter by displaying single objects among styled groupings, like a favorite framed photo or piece of artwork. It will guide the eye, break up the space and create impact.
  • Greenery – real or faux! – is a great way to add interest and dimension to your shelves. Succulents and peonies are two trendy options.
  • Think about basic design principles like color, balance and scale. Repeating colors or monochrome will help unify the shelves, and consider things like horizontal and vertical elements. Not all books have to be stacked neatly in a row – try turning some on their sides to switch things up!
  • In shelves, as in fashion, don’t be afraid to layer. Favorite mementos or postcards can be propped up in front of larger items, and art can be a great way to hide less-attractive objects from view that still need storing.
  • Finally, as with nearly everything in decor (and life!), do what makes you happy! It’s all about curating and displaying items that make you smile and make your space feel like home.

Shop some of my favorite #shelfie-worthy picks below, from books to frames and beyond: