"As we go on, we remember, all the times we had together!"

Cue Vitamin C's one hit wonder... For those of you preparing to graduate, you may be going through a mix of emotions. From being sooo ready to get the heck out of college, to being excited for what the future holds, and scared of what the future holds, to wishing you didn't have to leave your friends or feeling overwhelmed with everything heading your way. All of these emotions are perfectly normal and to be honest, everyone goes through them.

Some of you may have that next step in your life figured out, while others aren't there yet. No matter which door you're opening, there are going to be a lot of "life firsts" ahead. While some may be known, there are others that you'll have to figure out along the way. When I graduated two years ago, I thought there would be some man standing at the end of my graduation walk, handing me a "Real World for Dummies" book. Unfortunately there is not a guidebook for surviving life after college, but there's always opportunities to hear from those who've been there.

Here are 10 of my "What I Wish I Knew" snip-its of advice. Some of these things I learned the hard way, others just took time to figure out. Some I didn't actually experience myself, but witnessed from those around me. Either way, they are all things that are beneficial of knowing prior to entering the Real World.
Unfortunately life's "real world" is nothing like MTV's hit show, so sorry!

Take advantage of your twenties and don't waste them reflecting on past mistakes or worrying about what the future holds. While this list may seem daunting, I wouldn't trade the past two years for anything.
I absolutely LOVE the real world and I know you will too.

Have specific questions about life after college? Send Kristyn an email and she'll be happy to help!

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Over the Weekend: Mint and Navy

Photos by Sarah B.

Ann Taylor Loft Cardigan / J.Crew Navy Blouse / Ann Taylor Loft Eyelet Skirt 
J. Crew Pave Link Bracelet / Ann Taylor Loft Bracelet / Ring (old)
Sole Society Wedges / Essie Nail Polish

This past weekend finally brought warmer temps and gorgeous sunny skies. The weekend was mostly spent outdoors, taking long strolls through Capitol Hill and around my neighborhood.

As I am sure y'all are aware, I am really on this "mint" kick lately. Whether that's in what I am wearing, eating, drinking or trinkets I find for the apartment. Mint is just a fresh look for spring and works well with almost any color combo. With this upcoming weekend bringing the Kentucky Derby and Virginia's Gold Cup, mint will play a large role in not only what people wear but in the refreshing juleps being consumed. 

Spring is the perfect time to enjoy anything mint. So this past weekend when it came time to pick out an outfit, I paired my favorite mint cardy with another spring staple, navy. The mornings were still cool, so this was the ideal "throughout the day transition" outfit. This ensemble is great for a morning brunch, wedding shower or spring afternoon event.

Shop My Look

How do you use mint in your life?

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Derby Day Essentials

Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., I had never been to a horse race. Yep, I never went to Steeplechase or Carolina Cup (shocking, I know). So when it came time to prepare for Virginia's Gold Cup last year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was the least prepared I've ever been in my life (which is saying something). I literally took my phone and clutch, with my ID, lip gloss and a little bit of cash. Naturally I had forgotten my sunglasses and the necessities for making it through a day long outdoor event. 

I left Gold Cup with a new found appreciation for indoor plumbing, sunscreen and eye protection. 

To better prepare myself and y'all, this year I put together a list of derby day essentials that'll make any horse race you attend pleasurable. 

What's In My Purse:
A Cheap Pair of Sunglasses
Cheap doesn't mean you cant look fashionable. These Loft Sunnies are only $20! 
A cheap pair of sunglasses means no worries if you leave them on the bus or lose them on the field.

Michael Kors Wristlet
To hold the essentials all in one place. Perfect for storing your phone, ID and credit cards.
Slips into almost any size bag or tote.

Wet Ones Hand Wipes 
You may think I'm being a "mom," but you'll thank me later. When you have to become one with nature and realize there aren't any indoor restrooms, these will come in handy! Use these or hand sanny.

No one is invisible to the sun. Make sure you lather up or suffer the farmer tan consequences tomorrow. 

Oil Wipes
For those who want to leave the shine to the sun.

Dress up your beer can too, with a Lilly drink hugger.

Chap Stick with Sunscreen
To protect your lips from getting burnt.

CoverGirl Concealer
To touch up make up that gets wiped away throughout the day.

With these derby day essentials, you're ready for any horse race extravaganza. 
Now all you need to figure out is what to wear and find the perfect hat!

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Over the Weekend, A Fun Girls Weekend

I may be a few days late for my Over the Weekend post, but there were so many fun things that happened, I couldn't not share. I thought it would be a fun mid-week treat to share with y'all what this past long weekend brought to DC... some special visitors! My mother and good friend Lindsey came all the way up from Tennessee!!!

Since I had the day off Friday for the holiday weekend, my mother, Lindsey and I hit the ground running for our girls weekend. We definitely didn't waste any time, as my mother had us up, dressed and ready for a day of sightseeing by 9:00 a.m.

First stop was my office, to show them where I spend most of my time. I then showed them around the Capitol, even getting the opportunity to visit the senate floor and Speaker's balcony. I was so excited to experience things that I haven't even done since moving to DC! 

After visiting the Hill, we headed to see the White House, Museum of American History and Chinatown. I tell you what, the First Ladies exhibit is something to see. If you haven't witnessed the actual gowns worn by some of America's most famous women, you MUST check it out. There are gowns worn in the 1800s, all the way up to our current First Lady, Michelle Obama's recent Inaugural gown. 

Friday night we ate at a place I have been DYING to eat at, Lincoln DC. It's a restaurant dedicated to our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. The floors are made entirely out of pennies, ceilings featured mason jar chandeliers, and the menu is made up of gourmet southern dishes. Lincoln DC definitely lived up to the hype and deserves a visit by anyone who graces DC's presence. 

Saturday was probably my most favorite day, shopping in Georgetown. We started the afternoon off by eating lunch at one of DC's most famous places, Martin's Tavern. Martin's is known for the "proposal booth," where JFK and Jackie O. got engaged. It's a quaint little booth, located by the windows and marked with a placard so as to make sure everyone knows what historical moment took place there.

Here are some photos of different goodies I picked up whilst in Georgetown (make sure you say it with a rather regal accent).

Rebecca Minkoff trunk show at Urban Chic in Georgetown
I knew there was a Rebecca Minkoff trunk show going on at Urban Chic. I have been longing to own the mint green large tote, which is perfect for work. When I arrived, there it was in the front row! It just so happened to be the last one from the weekend and I made it all MINE!! I absolutely love my new tote and haven't stopped staring at it. 

My Tory Burch flats finally arrived and now I am ready for the summer!
Aside from some shopping and eating, my mother helped my roommate and I freshen up our apartment for spring, by picking up a new rug and some accents. It really brightens up the room, don't ya think? Only in DC can you have an Americana inspired living area, ha!

We capped off the weekend with a fun Easter Sunday brunch at Farmers Fishers Bakers. Another place I had been itching to go to, and so glad that I did. They offer an all you can eat brunch buffet, that is sure to please any southern sweet tooth. 

All in all I had a wonderful time visiting with my mother and great friend, over the weekend. 
Hope y'all are having a great week, Happy Hump Day!! 

Giveaway ends this Friday at noon!!


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Comforts of home, MADE in the SOUTH

Since graduating from college and moving to a new city, I have found one of the hardest challenges is leaving the comforts of home. I spent 21 years of my life in good ole Tennessee, only to move to a city hundreds of miles away, which at times feels anything but southern.

To try and fill this void, I made sure my apartment had plenty of reminders of where I grew up. Anytime I can get back to Tennessee (which isn't very often) I try to pick up whatever items I can to bring back to DC. Since I don't make it home as much as I'd like, I have always wished there was an easier way to receive southern made items, while at the same time still support local businesses from the south.

That is when I discovered MADE SOUTH; a business that does just that. MADE SOUTH is a family owned business, founded by Christopher Thomas and his family

Christopher and his wife Kimberly came up with the idea for MADE SOUTH a little over a year ago. Christopher had a 9-5 job (which he loved), but longed for something with more freedom and a chance to own a family business. 

Christopher said, 
"It took me a year or so to come up with an idea that we felt combined what we're good at (connecting with people, telling stories) with what we're passionate about (the South, local business). The mission of MADE SOUTH really is to help people Discover & Support Southern Makers."

I just love a good "American Dream" story, and I feel Christopher and his family are just that. Not only are they trying to build their own business, but their main focus is also on helping others do the same. 

MADE SOUTH is a membership service, where customers can sign up to receive quarterly southern made surprise packages. Every three months, a new bundle is created and filled with three items that are unique and specifically MADE in the SOUTH. 

I spoke to Christopher, who is just as friendly as can be, and he explained that a lot of thought and time goes into selecting each item used. Each shipment is filled with small-batch, gourmet boutique variety items.

MADE SOUTH recently sent out their FIRST shipment to more than 200 customers. Each box was hand assembled by Christopher and his team (wife and three children) and stamped with the MADE SOUTH logo. The first shipment also included a button for the inaugural members, first edition Maker Notes and hand written thank yous for each customer, compliments of the Thomas children.

Items included in their first shipment were:

 Southern Firefly Candle Co. candle, hand poured in Brentwood, TN

5-card set of "Southern Sayings", hand pressed 
on a vintage letterpress in Edgefield, SC

PB&J Burst Truffles and Fudge Cookies 
from Blushing Berry in Nolensville, TN 

The thing I love about these selected items, are that they are all home made and hand made.
A lot of time and care goes into making each and every product.

What I absolutely admire about MADE SOUTH is that it is a family owned and operated business. It is a full fledged effort by each member of the family, from assembling the boxes to adding a special touch with the thank you notes. I sincerely know that MADE SOUTH will impress you the same way it did me. See for yourself by signing up for their next bundle, set to ship in June.

Love what you see above??
You can also win ALL of the items you've seen here, by entering the MADE SOUTH/First Impressions giveaway!! Thank you to Chris's generosity and southern hospitality, First Impressions readers can enter to win a bundle of items used in MADE SOUTH's inaugural shipment. Scroll down and enter through the Rafflecopter system.
You have one week to enter and multiple ways to win!

In the meantime head on over to MADE SOUTH's website to sign up for their next shipment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



The Perfect Easter Dresses

Growing up I remember Easter Sunday was ALL about the fashion, aside from the true meaning of the day of course. Our mothers got us all dolled up; outfitted in the perfect dress, shoes, hat and of course those frilly white socks. If we were lucky enough, our Easter baskets even matched our outfits (maybe lucky isn't the word to use).

While I for one am SOOO glad those days are over, I inevitably will put my daughters (way, WAYYY down the road) through the same fashion torture. For now, Easter Sunday is very much still about the dresses and accessories. Whether you are donning your "Sunday Best," in the name of the Lord or simply for an afternoon brunch, finding the perfect dress can be difficult. Who wants to spend all that money for a dress you'll wear once? So I have put together a slew of dresses that can be worn not only this coming Sunday, but for work, an upcoming horse race, wedding shower, etc.

Check out some of my favorite picks below (make sure you scroll through, there are 18 options), sure to make a great impression on Easter Sunday. I actually own three of these dresses and love them! The first Ann Taylor Loft pink one, is by far my most favorite.

Happy Shopping!

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Over the Weekend, Blossoms and Brunch

If you follow anyone who lives in Washington, D.C. or who is lucky enough to visit the district this week, then odds are you've been bombarded with countless photos of trees and blooms. This past weekend I was lucky enough to get to see the cherry blossoms for myself, by walking around the Capitol grounds and visiting the Tidal Basin.

As if you haven't seen them enough, here are some photos from my cherry blossom adventures Over the Weekend.

To cap off a great weekend, I met up with a fellow DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia area) blogger, Alissa who founded and created Feeling Good Style. We met for a yummy brunch at Zengo in Chinatown. It was great getting to know another blogger in the area, and it so happens that she is also a Steelers fan!! Definitely a plus! Now I have a friend to watch the games with this fall. 

It was a great weekend of sightseeing, enjoying the gorgeous spring scenery that DC has to offer and brunching with a new friend. I always enjoy getting together with other bloggers, to share ideas and advice, and of course have someone who doesn't judge me when I take countless pics of my food, ha!

What did you do Over the Weekend?

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A Southern Man's Grilled Cheese

One of my favorite comfort foods is a good 'ole fashioned grilled cheese. Growing up, my mother would make the perfect combination of bread, butter and American cheese that was sure to satisfy my cravings. Only in the south would a carb, mass amounts of melted butter and a somewhat healthy dairy, be considered a meal. 

In case you didn't know, there is an entire month and even its own day that is dedicated to this delectable goodness. There are hundreds of ways you can make a grilled cheese and the options for ingredients are endless. To celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day, which is today, I decided to come up with my own creation. The "Southern Man's" Grilled Cheese, is appropriately named from all the perfectly combined ingredients, sure to please any hungry southern man (or woman). 

Here is my take on a southern classic... 

What You'll Need:
Sourdough Bread
Medium Cheddar Cheese 
Hot Pepper Jack Cheese
Yellow Onion
olive oil

Now Follow Me: 
Cut up the yellow onion into long, thin slices and set aside
Warm up your skillet to high heat and prepare the bacon 
Cook bacon until done and set aside
Leave bacon grease in the pan
Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil 
Pour sliced onions into the skillet and caramelize (use salt/pepper to taste)

Melt half a stick of butter in the microwave
Use a butter brush to coat both sides of 3 slices of bread
Time to build! 

On the bottom piece of bread, lay a slice of cheddar and a slice of pepper jack
Add a layer of caramelized onions atop the cheese, then a slice or two of bacon
Add another piece of bread and repeat
Top the sandwich with your final piece of bread…
Making it a DOUBLE stack! 

Use a sandwich press or panini maker to heat the grilled cheese
Leave on press for about 3 - 4 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly

Remove grilled cheese from the press
The key is to cut the grilled cheese into triangular halves (not vertical)

Plate your grilled cheese and serve with a bowl of your favorite soup!
Bread, butter and bacon… what more can a southern man ask for?!

If cookin' ain't yo thang (in my best southern voice), than celebrate today's holiday by visiting a local hangout that serves grilled cheeses. If you're in the DC area, there's even a store dedicated solely to "make your own" grilled cheeses. Grilled Cheese DC, GCDC, opened yesterday and is located at 1730 Pennsylvania Ave, NW. Go check them out and feast on grilled cheeses till your heart's content!

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Happy Eatin' Y'all!!! 

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Which Season Is It?

Growing up in Tennessee, crazy and sporadic weather patterns were all the norm. In one week alone, we'd have torrential downpours, snow, high winds and above average temps. My friends and I would joke that Mother Nature loved all seasons too much to only have one at a time! If you grew up in Tennessee, or really anywhere in the South, you know what I am talking about.

After college I decided that enough was enough and moved to Washington, D.C. (well, it was more like I got a job and it was necessary to move). I fully expected that living in another city would offer an opportunity to experience "normal" weather for once. Boy was I wrong! DC could be Knoxville's twin, because since moving here things haven't been much different.

 This past winter alone, DC had multiple snow falls, extreme winds, below zero temps (yes!! with wind chills, we experienced -11 degrees!!)... all leading to more snow days than I got in my four years of college!! To make matters worse, intermixed were signs of hope that spring would come early. It was the craziest pattern that resulted in alternating from wearing a heavy trench one day, to shorts the next. 

While spring has technically arrived, the warmer weather seems to be lagging behind. We've had some wonderfully sunny days and not nearly as many wet, rainy ones. It's only a matter of time though till the "April Showers" arrive. To keep you warm on those cool mornings, but transition easily for rainy weather, I have put together some of my favorite spring essentials. These trenches and accessories are practical, yet fashionable for whatever sort of weather is thrown your way!

Happy Shopping friends!

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Spring Cleaning #SmallClosetProblems

Spring has officially arrived, even if the weather wishes to cooperate or not. The arrival of a new season brings a transition of our wardrobe, weekend activities and in our spaces. Whether you live in a suburban home or a high-rise city apartment, the time has come for some spring cleaning. 

There are different levels of spring cleaning dedication...

Serious Dedication: completely restructuring and organizing every room in your home and deep cleaning every crevice of space. The uber dedicated spring cleaner likely has spent the prior months, organizing ideas and must-dos on their Pinterest boards and likely is the type of person who doesn't really need to spring clean any ways. Let's be honest... it's already done.

Moderate Dedication: probably the attitude most of us HOPE to take; a little dusting here and there, brightening up the living room with fresh pillows, switching over your closet and finally getting round to organizing your bills and paperwork.

Average Dedication: this is the category most of us wish we didn't fall under but realistically do. You finally get around to changing your sheets, pulling your spring clothes to the front of your closet and spray some sort of spring scented Febreze around your place. Insto presto, apartment is "spring clean."

To increase my average level of dedication, I made sure that at the top of my "Spring Cleaning To-Do" list was switching over my closet from winter to spring. In all actuality, I had no choice. Living in a tiny apartment means an even smaller closet. I mean how unfair and absurd is it for a female to be given a closet that is smaller than my shower?! It is so unrealistic but something to deal with nonetheless.

Since my closet can barely (and I mean barely) hold one season's worth of clothes, I had no choice but to transition my space. Instead of spending three - four hours of my gorgeous Sunday afternoon sorting and hanging clothes, I came up with some tips and tricks to make the process much easier and faster.

Here are some Spring Cleaning basics for those who suffer from #smallclosetproblems.

- Know What You're Working With: does your spring wardrobe bring twice as many shoes, are you needing more hangers? Plan out items you need ahead of time, everything from a hanging shoe rack to Febreze for freshening up your clothes. Head on over to your local Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond to pick up the essentials.

**Tip: If you sign-up for Bed, Bath and Beyond rewards program, they send you several coupons each week via mail and email. Those 20% off and $5 off coupons combined, can save you a lot of money.

- Make Your Bed: your mother told you this all the time growing up, and yes it is necessary to making the closet transition easier. You need a large, clean space to lay all of your clothes.

- Take Everything Out of Your Closet: Yes, I said it. This may seem daunting, but I promise it'll make things quicker and easier in the end. Rather than trying to rearrange hangers, taking everything out provides you with a blank canvas. This is also the time to unpack your boxes of spring clothes.

- Start Sorting: I go through piece by piece and decide whether or not to KEEP, PACK or DONATE. Make separate piles in your floor or in the hall. I take everything I want to pack or donate off the hangers. Save them, because good hangers are hard to come by these days.

- Shelves then Racks: I start by loading up the shelves, because it's easier to get to them without a big bulk of hanging clothes in the way. Group similar items on each shelf. I did heavier spring sweaters, then jeans, shorts (organized by patterned, solid colors, then jean shorts) grouped by ones you'll wear the most at the top, and then skirts. The bottom two shelves are for bigger shoes and boots.

- Hang Your Clothes: this may just be my OCD talking, but I grouped similar items together. On the top shelf I did jackets, cardis, going out tops, work tops, then button downs. On the lower rack are all of my work dresses, work pants and skirts. If similar items are grouped together, it'll be easier to find what you're looking for later.
(Don't judge, I may or may not own 42 work dresses... but hey, they are good quality and will last several years. I, well my mother, never turns down a good department store sale).

- Hang Your Shoes: to save shelf space, utilize your closet doors. I have two hanging shoe racks, with more causal shoes and sandals on the left door and work/going out heels on the right.

- Use Every Inch: don't forget the front of your closet doors; they can be used too!! I reversed a closet hook, hanging it on the front of the right door. This space is perfect for hanging my spring trenches and coats. Otherwise it would be wasted space!

The more organized your closet and shoes, the easier it'll be to find what you're looking for on the mornings you're running late to work.


Congratulations, you're finished!! Now stand back and admire your nicely organized and colorful closet. Take a pic or two, cause odds are (if you're like me) it'll look nothing like this tomorrow, ha!

What tips do you have for making a small closet transition easier?

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Over the Weekend, Spring Has Sprung

Over the weekend we finally started to see some life out of Miss Spring, who has too long been overshadowed by the Winter Diva. The days of harsh blistery winds, heavy snowfalls, and that drudge (mixture of dirt, ice and snow) that lined the curbs and ruined your boots, is finally over!! We now welcome cool mornings, blooming trees and the smell of freshly planted flowers. 

Naturally, upon the arrival of spring, my weekend activities begin to change. Instead of spending my down time indoors, weekends will now be filled with afternoon strolls to Eastern Market, Nationals baseball games, nighttime rooftop hangouts and Sunday morning brunches. I am excited to be free from being cooped up indoors and finally being able to get out and about in the city that is geared toward outdoor activities. 

Although this past weekend brought slightly cool temps, I still got out of the apartment and enjoyed the gorgeous blue skies and sunny afternoons. Saturday my roommate and I went to Target (yes, I know that is indoors, but we did go for the purpose of getting spring items and Easter candy). To my surprise, I was able to leave my favorite store for under $100 (snaps to me). We got plenty of necessities for spring cleaning (stay tuned tomorrow for a new post on this), Easter candy for the boys and other fun items to freshen up the apartment. 

Sunday was a typical Capitol Hill morning, brunch with friends and an afternoon stroll through Eastern Market. I met some of my good friends at Sonoma on Penn Avenue, for a hearty breakfast to start off the day. We then walked to Eastern Market, for some fresh fruit and spring flowers.

**Side Note: If you live in DC and have never visited Eastern Market, I highly recommend it. On Saturdays and Sundays the market expands to the outdoors, with white tents all filled with fresh produce and handmade trinkets. On the weekends, farmers from all over the country drive up to sell their fresh produce. In the summers there isn't a meal I make that doesn't include some sort of fresh ingredient from an Eastern Market vendor. 

To finish off my already wonderful weekend, I decided to hit the spring cleaning ground running. My first project to tackle was the dreaded "closet switchover." Living in a high-rise building, apartments are small and with small spaces means tiny closets. I unfortunately do not have the room for anything more than a season's wardrobe. So it was time to dust off the spring clothes and pack up my winter wardrobe (thank goodness). 

For more on my closet changeover, check back tomorrow for tips and tricks that make the transition smooth and quick. To tide you over, here are some photos from Sunday morning's brunch, some of my Target goodies and a sneak peek at tomorrow's all new post!


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