Style: 2017 Backpack Picks

Apparently now that I’m going to graduate school I need to do things like study and carry around textbooks. I was very disappointed when I saw that my econ textbook is the standard gigantic and expensive disaster that you think of when you hear someone mention college textbooks. I still have my backpack from undergrad but I’m not all that interested in using it. It’s a trusty old North Face that I bought in 2009, and on day one I packed a yogurt which, of course, burst and flooded the front pocket with fruity goo.

Here are some of the backpacks that I’m interested in purchasing.

  • North Face Jester in Black: I like the idea of getting another North Face because I know that it will hold up. This one is small, but big enough for a laptop and textbooks, and the $65 price point is great.
  • Herschel Little America in Windsor Wine and Tan: I love Herschel backpacks. They started to become a thing when I was still in undergrad and I was really interested in getting one, but didn’t see the point since I was graduating. I think that this one is super pretty, but I am a little bit concerned about the lack of zippers.

  • Rebecca Minkoff Julian Velvet in Pink: I probably won’t buy this because it’s out of my budget, but the color is perfect and I’m amongst the many humans who are obsessed with velvet right now. A girl can dream!
  • Herschel Dawson in Black: Another neat option from Herschel. I love black fabric and leather together as well as the big pockets. Why are these bags so cute??

  • Vera Bradley Iconic Campus Backpack in Grey: Vera Bradley is one of my favorite brands but I haven’t been a fan of their patterns in recent years. I like this bag because Vera Bradley uses quality materials, and the neutral color scheme really stands out. This backpack is in my top three for 2017.
  • JanSport Cool Student in Black and Tan: As an older student, I have fond memories of JanSport bags. I remember suddenly noticing that everyone I knew had a JanSport bag and excitedly getting one the next year. Looking at them now I feel a little silly, especially since the price point is comparably low, but they bring back memories and they’ve been around for years, so they must be a trustworthy brand.

Do you think you’ll purchase one of these bags? Do you have a go-to brand at back to school time? I am so excited to make this decision!


Summer Goals Update

Earlier this summer I made two posts with goals for the summer. The first was travel related and the second was related to personal goals. Since the end of July is coming up quick, I wanted to check-in on my goals to see what I have accomplished, what is still manageable, and what will probably need to be pushed back to next year.

For travel, my five goals were to go hiking at Devil’s Lake, get drunk in a cabin with friends, visit Door County, explore a new cave, and visit Canada. I have done 2/5, hiking at Devil’s Lake and getting drunk in a cabin with friends. Both were lovely experiences. I will not be able to go to Door County or Canada this summer, so I will save those for my 2018 summer bucket list. I will be traveling in August so will check with friends and family to see if anyone would like to check out a cave.

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As far as my personal goals, I wanted to break even on my net worth, lose 15 pounds, spend more time with friends, read a book, and prepare to do well in school. Since this section is a little bit longer, I’ll break each one down a bit more.

  1. Break even on net worth: I don’t think that I will be able to accomplish this goal. My networth was -4k at the beginning of summer and is now -3k. I’m a little bummed out, but I am glad I have made progress. I will keep working toward this goal in August and try to get as close as I can. However, I don’t have a job anymore so there is no way that I am going to be able to pay bills, pay for life, and pay off $3k in debt.
  2. Lose 15 pounds: I have not lost any weight but I have been maintaining which is a positive. I no longer have access to a gym and would like to find a way to work out in August. I actually feel pretty good physically so I am not super worried about losing weight at the moment.
  3. Spend more time with friends: I have spent a lot of time with wonderful people this summer. I have made more of an effort to be in touch with my closer friends, and have had lunches/coffee with people who I care about. I can’t spend all my time with everyone which is a bummer, but it’s been really nice to connect this summer.
  4. Read a book: I have read TWO books 😀 – I would like to finish the book that I am currently reading and find another good one or two to read while I am traveling.
  5. Prepare to do well in school: I have been medium on this. I’ve had a lot of anxiety about starting school but am starting to get it together. Mostly I need to get started on my summer math prep class so that I don’t fail stats this fall.

Lovely lovely. How are you doing on your summer goals?

Read Your Face Off Feature

A few weeks ago I joined a summer reading group called “Read Your Face Off.” It’s a really cool group organized by a woman here in Madison and a lot of my politically active friends are members. I was inspired to join because I’ve had trouble finishing books this year and joining has now helped me finish two.

I emailed the creator of the group last week to ask a question and she asked me if I wanted to be the featured reader. I typed up answers to a few questions and thought they would be fun to share here, too.



What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What are your reading goals for summer? Have you read any good books lately? Tell me all your thoughts 🙂

Book Review: The Assistants

“The problem is that nobody talks about what they make. It’s shame disguised as humility. Screw that. I’m a thirty-two-year-old assistant and I make $30,000 a year.”

Let’s be real, I initially requested The Assistants from Camille Perri because the cover is super cute. (See: Is There Some Reason Millennial Women Love This Color?) Upon further investigation, I pulled it out of my daunting to-read pile because it’s about an underemployed young woman with student loan debt. The majority of my young friends (myself included) are underemployed with student loan debt, so I was excited to see a literary take on these important issues.

I don’t have as much to say about the book but do have some thoughts on the themes. I didn’t particularly like any of the characters (except maybe Kevin?) or relate much to their individual situations, but I did like the style of writing. You know when you meet someone and you realize they’re cool and you like them, but that you won’t ever be more than acquaintances? That’s how I felt about this book.

The underemployment theme struck a nerve, especially since I am currently in an assistant position and making less money than during my first year out of college. While reading, I could understand the frustrations of the characters when they took care of tedious tasks like preparing drinks for meetings or collecting lunch orders. The feeling of being capable and willing but not in the position to do anything truly valuable is kind of the worst. Also feeling stuck. That is the actual worst.

The book itself wasn’t my favorite, but the topics and plot really got me thinking and I’m hoping that they do the same for those lucky members of society that aren’t affected by student loan debt. I’m also left to wonder – why hasn’t anyone created a non-profit to help with student loan debt? I mean we have scholarships for students, ten-year public service agreements, and awesome advocacy groups out there working to make the situation better for future students, but what do we offer our young adults who are straddled with a $1.2 trillion debt load TODAY?

All in all, The Assistants was an okay book. I will certainly recommend it to my friends who are in similar positions and to the grown-ups I know that are interested in learning about the millennial struggle. I would love to see Camille Perri hit the road and talk about student loan reform on college campuses so if anyone can make that happen here in Madison, hmu.

Has anyone else read this? What are your thoughts?

Book Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

So each generation set out to find more of its kind, and within just a few cycles of birth and death, the Club had spread not only through space, but also time, propagating itself forwards into the twentieth century and back into the Middle Ages, the death of each member spreading the word of what it was to the very extremes of the times in which they lived.

I have a problem where I’m addicted to books. I use Goodreads to help find new reads and order them in mass quantities from the library – they usually show up in clumps of ten, making me look a little crazy to my former coworkers. Sometimes when I pick up my large piles, I also accidentally browse and end up leaving with twice as many books as I had initially intended. This exact situation took place at the library last week – and I ended up finding “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North on the “Don’t miss this!” shelf.

I’m a total sucker for a good time travel plot, and the thought of living life and being reborn with your memories intact over and over again just absolutely titillates my imagination. Though I already had my reading plan mapped out for the next few weeks, I picked up “Harry August” (and several other books, smh) and immediately started reading it when I got home.

I wasn’t disappointed. The author does a fabulous job of telling us about Harry’s life 15 different times and she does so in a way that doesn’t become boring, and in a way that keeps you interested. Harry’s lifespan ranges from the 1920s to the 1990s, and the author never failed to make his course unique in each life. Since he lives through the same scenarios multiple times, Harry has opportunities to connect with the people and the world around him in ways that which we will never be able to do.

I’ll be real with you – I skimmed a few sections. I’m not particularly interested in war or 20th century technological development, but I really don’t think anyone could live through the same time period 15 times and not be bored with some bits. I don’t want to give away any of the plot, but I loved the recurring characters and the way that Harry dealt with the challenges that he faced.

All in all this was a fabulous read. I was initially a little sad to get off track with my reading plan, but I am so glad that I read this book. I had to go back and read the ending a second time because I really felt it, and I’ll be wondering forever how things went after life number 15.

“This thing you carry inside you, I don’t know what it is. I don’t know where you got it. But Harry, the past is the past. You are alive today. That is all that matters. You must remember, because it is who you are, but as it is who you are, you must never, ever regret. To regret your past is to regret your soul.”

Whats in my purse?

Earlier this week my delicious Khloe Kardashian salad leaked into my purse and I finally got around to cleaning it out today. While I was doing that, I got a notification from a friend’s blog that they had posted one of those “Whats in my purse?” posts. While I admit, they’re kind of boring, I’ve also never not looked to see what all my friends have in their purses when they make the posts.

So here we go!


Today I have two books, some makeup and nail products, my wallet, keys, tea, and.. socks!

The After Party by Anton DiSclafani: I finished reading this book about a 1950’s Texas socialite/housewive and her mysterious (shady) best friend just a few minutes ago. It was alright. It was interesting and a quick read, but not necessarily something that I really needed to read. I don’t not recommend it, but I don’t recommend it either.

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felica Day: This was the only book available when it was time to leave my house today. I really liked The Guild, and I love the title of this book, but I don’t really have too much of an interest in Felicia Day. We’ll see how it goes.

-Revlon nail polish, nail file, and clippers. Not something that I usually carry, but I wanted to paint my toes today. They’re a cute, bright, summery orange.

Biore Watery Essence Sunscreen: This is a find from the Asian Beauty subreddit. It’s a great, light sunscreen that shouldn’t cause your face to break out. It smells heavenly and I just transferred it to my bag today – that way I can put it on when I know I’ll be out in the sun.

Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream: This is another Asian Beauty find. It’s a light facial moisturizer made from snail essence. Yes, snail essence is snail slime. It’s fabulous.

-Next is my favorite hair brush, Vera Bradley wallet, and green tea. I also have Sugar lip gloss (one of my all-time faves), Carmex, Nars matte lip color, and a Neutrogena cover up pen. I very rarely use cover-up except in extreme emergencies, and this one has salicylic acid in it which makes me feel better.

So that’s it! Now tell me – what all do you have in your bag?