What College Taught Me

what college taught me, college, UCSB, freshmen year, college lessons

On March 20th, I graduated from UC Santa Barbara (a quarter early!) with a double-major in history and cultural anthropology. Although I don't technically walk in my graduation ceremony until June, I wanted to share some insights college taught me. Like any college graduate, I have been collecting these thoughts throughout my senior year. Having been separated from the daily bike-to-and-from-lecture grind for a month now, I feel like I can finally piece together the puzzle that was my unforgettable experience as a Gaucho at UCSB. So, here goes:

Determine your go-to coffee order.
College is jam-packed with all-nighters. Determining your favorite caffeine jolt order is clutch. Trust me.

Cultivate the habit of being grateful.
Learn how to be grateful. When I started college, I didn't truly "get" how fortunate I was to attend UCSB. Gradually, I became grateful for the amazing opportunities I had, like being able to afford college, making new friends, being exposed to noteworthy professors, participating in archaeology excavations, leading in student organizations, attending UCSB exclusive concerts, etc. College, and its four years of memory making, is a privilege not a right.

Learn to love yourself [first].      
You can't build lasting relationships in college if you don't start by learning to love yourself. Away from your back-home family and friends, college is the chance to figure out how to enjoy your own company, honestly evaluate your passions, and really find yourself. [Insert cheesy Mumford & Sons lyric: where you invest your love, you invest your life]. 

You do not (and never will) know everything.
It is OK not to have the information from your biology midterm forever ingrained in your memory, just like it is OK to admit when you don't know the right answer. Just because college is a place of higher learning doesn't mean you will ever know everything there is to learn there. Take that pressure off and learn to retain what interests you most.

Search for the good in each day.
All of us have a choice to be happy. During college, I started challenging myself to find three positives in every day. They included having a great cup of coffee, running along the beach at sunset, buying myself some flowers (which every girl should always do!), correctly answering a question in class, carving out enough time to catch up on favorite T.V. shows, etc. After four years of this exercise, all of my family and friends have commented on how much happier I am!

Take advantage of your school's available resources.
While at UCSB, I took advantage of the university's Career Services Center for resume critiques, an awesome psychiatrist when I hit a rough patch, free ocean kayaking trips, brain-stimulating E.G.G. chair, on-campus art museum, scrumptious waffle bar, traveling lecture series, wide variety of student organizations, free book giveaways, etc. In college, follow your school's social media platforms and webpage to get in-the-know of resources available to the student body. Your tuition covers these costs, so take advantage.

Become a leader.
In high school, I was never really a leader. College changed that. It wasn't until I became involved with Relay for Life that my passion for fighting cancer went hand-in-hand with my budding role as a leader. Find something you love and lead other like-minded individuals in achieving group goals.

Constantly dare yourself to try new things.    
Don't settle. Continuously expose yourself to different people and activities, because college is all about making an eclectic batch of memories in four short years. In college, I participated in an sailing pirate battle royale, took (and taught) ballroom dancing classes, went to the Channel Islands and Virginia for archaeology excavations, fundraised for cancer, led beach clean-ups, learned how to surf, got lost on many a hangover hike with best buds, camped and drove a RZR and quad in Glamis, modeled (hah!) for ModCloth, created and presented an original research project in front of undergraduate peers and faculty, went whale watching, competed in a Hershey marketing case competition, and so much more. Never let yourself get so stuck in your routine that you forget to make the most of college.

Ask for help.
Be honest with yourself when you need help. If that is tutoring, a shoulder to cry on, whatever it may be, know it is OK to not be perfect 100% of the time. Part of the human condition is imperfection. Embrace it.

Wanderlust locally.
Get your surrounding community wired. After living in Santa Barbara for four years, I can take you to the best lobster tacos in town, show you how to climb to the top of the Santa Barbara court building for some killer downtown views, tell you which boat is the best for dolphin watching at sunset, give you directions to a 100+ year old stagecoach tavern in the mountains selling mouthwatering tri-tip, bring you to an oceanside drive-in theater, and top it all off with a trip to McConnell's Ice Cream. You did college right if you can act as a tour guide for such similar local hotspots.

Do not be afraid of evolving.
College changed me. It transformed me from a somewhat shy, overly idealistic, and rather conservative girl into a woman I can proudly hold my head high in being. Yes, the unknown is pee-your-pants scary, but sometimes it can be for the most unexpectedly awesome ways.

Follow the "good vibes only" rule.
Surround yourself with people that radiate "good vibes only." Life is too short to let yourself be caught up in other individuals' negativity.

Realize everyone has a unique story to tell.
Everyone has a story that will make you laugh, cry, break your heart, and want to give them a big 'ol bear hug. Everyone. Understand that about people, and let that translate in your getting to know (and empathizing) with new friends.

Pick your battles wisely.
Pick and choose your battles. Battles can be spats with a roommate, challenging a grade on a paper, questioning leadership in a student organization, choosing a too-challenging course schedule, whatever. You are the acting general in your life's army. Determine which battles are worth losing your cool over and which require sucking it up and moving on. Not everything has to be an episode of Gossip Girl.

Always double-check your work.
You should always double (even triple) check anything you submit with your name on it. That's your name. Make sure your work reflects something you can be proud of. Otherwise, what's the point?

Understand when to make and lose friends.   
Your friendships will completely change from freshman to senior year. The best part about college is you are not committed to one set clique of friends. You have the power to put yourself out there and mix things up. Your tuition is way too high for you to subject yourself to a lousy group of friends when there are thousands of other friend fish in the student body sea. Besides, if someone wants to be a part of your life, they will find a way to make it happen. Don't force halfhearted friendships.

Call home.
Call home more often than not. Your family loves you lots, and family always comes first. Don't get so caught up in your own life that you forget you started out in your parents' first.

You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce.
If Beyonce can do it, you can do it. Wake up an hour earlier to get things done, and try to avoid procrastinating on important assignments. Doing so will make a world of difference in your stress levels.

Find a mentor(s).
You can never surround yourself with enough individuals who are older and wiser than yourself. Find a mentor who is kind, leads by example, you connect with, and whose career/life trajectory is something you (more or less) aspire to similarly achieve. Mentors can be older students, professors, school faculty, coaches, etc. Your mentor should have your back when dishing out advice,  sharing in a quality conversation, and writing you a stand-out letter of recommendation.

Make your passion your post-grad paycheck.
Know your passions and find creative ways to pursue them in your post-grad life whether they be through volunteer work, hobbies, or employment. You will perform a thousand times better at a job you are passionate about than something you are just doing to get by. Ask for what makes you happy.


Women of Worth: My Lucky FABB Conference Takeaway

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A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of being invited to attend Lucky Magazine's annual FABB conference in Beverley Hills, California. I spent the day being introduced to new brands (The Brave Collection was my favorite!), making new friends, and listening to some amazing women of worth in their respective fashion and tech industries. Among these women were Eva Chen, Sophia Amoruso, Nicole Richie, Hilary Pererson, and Stephanie Mark.

Eva Chen (@EvaChen212) is the Editor-in-Chief at Lucky Magazine. Eva presented at last year's Lucky FABB conference, and now works for Lucky running the whole thing! Pretty cool. What I loved about Eva was her killer sense of confidence, ability to laugh at herself, and her awesomely offbeat sense of personal style (Nikes plus A-line skirts, anyone?). She truly embodied her own statement that, "Today's fashion icons are those people we find relatable." Eva was incredibly relatable and inspirational regarding her self-made rise to fashion famedom. Her motto? "Life isn't about coasting."Amen.

Sophia Amoruso (@Sophia_Amoruso) is the Founder and CEO at Nasty Gal. I shop at Nasty Gal, so I was especially excited to hear Sophia's story. Sophia shared how Nasty Gal was born when her 22 year-old self was hospitalized with a hernia. Once she got it fixed, Sophia hit the ground running with Nasty Gal to pay for her hospital bills! Admittedly, her parents were a little put-off by her dream of opening an online vintage-inspired store. But Sophia stressed, "If you don't upset your parents at some point, you aren't doing it right."If you have ever wondered about the naming of Nasty Gal, it is to break the brand from your typical online shopping herd. According to Sophia, Nasty Gal is a, "very visual brand" which deserved an equally visual name. I really loved Sophia's advice to the budding entrepreneurs in the room, which was:
  • Stay focused. Use deadlines.
  • Respond to your feedback.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses. Exploit those strengths and accept help with your faults.
  • Be honest with yourself. 
  • There is always an opportunity to do things better.
And did I mention Sophia's favorite Twitter accounts to follow are @SnoopDogg and Wow Facts of Life? Too awesome.

Nicole Richie (@nicolerichie) is the Creative Director at House of Harlow 1960. I'm not going to lie. I seriously girl crushed on a lot of what Nicole had to say. First off, she walked on stage with lavender hair, because her young daughter requested it (aka best mom ever). Secondly, Nicole shared how she gardens at her house with a vintage Chanel fanny pack which, upon audience laughter, she joked, "Hey! Fanny packs are dope!" There really isn't a better beginning to a conversation than that! Ultimately, I really aligned with what Nicole had to say about personal choice. Regarding fashion, she noted, "Fashion should always be evolving. It's about about playing dress up. It's about your point of view right now." Personal style choices transitioned into choices on attitude. According to Nicole, "Happiness, ultimately, is a choice. Live your dream. Take that journey and choose to be grateful for it." Nicole stressed finding new, creative ways to express yourself daily (fashion being the easiest first step) and being 100% authentically you both internally and externally. Like Nicole, I wholeheartedly believe it takes courage to be happy and true to yourself in a world that stresses standardization.

Hilary Pererson (@hillyjane) is the Head of Business Development at Lyst, a fashion shopping site tailor-made to individual users' needs. In her work, Hilary perfectly marries fashion and technology. It is Hilary's belief that, "There is more to gain than lose in taking risks with technology." In other words, embrace it! She further advised the audience to, "keep your users surprised, interested, and delighted," in whatever projects undertaken. I particularly liked this soundbite because those three characteristics are what keep any individual coming back to their favorite stores, friendships, websites, hobbies, etc. Hilary really nailed the importance of capturing captivation.

Stephanie Mark is the Director and CoFounder of The Coveteur, a website dedicated to creating exclusive, luxury content. Stephanie's words of wisdom were all about storytelling. She shared, "The core of your business is to know who is coming to your site and why. Know your own story." Stephanie got more in-depth in saying, "Everyone on social media channels is very engaged. There are always conversations happening. As a business, it's important to capitalize on that engagement." Not only is it critical to know your own story, but to constantly share and build upon it through social media. Be confident and consistent in your voice. Throughout life, we all undergo moments of growth which add unique chapters to our personal stories (and subsequently) our voices. Stephanie definitely shared some relevant, sage advice.

The stories shared by the speakers at Lucky FABB 2014 were laugh-out-loud funny, inspiring, and driven. These women really validated my personal pursuit of a career in technology and self-worth. If you are involved in the blogging world, I highly recommend you attend Lucky's 2015 conference and expose yourself to a new wave of phenomenal female voices.


Prepping for a Blog Conference

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My blog was invited to attend Lucky Magazine's Fashion and Beauty Blog (FABB) Conference held in Beverly Hills! Lucky FABB brings together some of the world's most influential bloggers, writers, editors, designers, and tech stars. Past conferences have included Diane von Furstenberg, Lauren Conrad, Zac Posen, Joan Rivers, Drew Barrymore, Eva Mendes, and countless other giants in the fashion, beauty, and technology spheres. Below is the official invitation for the event.

In preparation for Lucky FABB, I attended an event hosted by Wendy's and Blow Me Away in Beverly Hills. The purpose of the event was to market Wendy's new salad collection by way of a "new you" through a hair do blowout. While getting my blowout, I had the Asian Cashew Salad which was surprisingly delicious! Below is my before (left) and after (right) picture. So, do I look as good as a  salad (har har)?
Lucky Fabb, Wendy's, photoshoot, makeover

Tomorrow is the "big day"for the Lucky blog-o-sphere as it were. Today's warm-up event got me thinking about how to prepare for a blog conference. 

Step one, is to put your best foot forward. Whether that means getting a fancy shmancy blowout or just showing up with a smile (I prefer the latter), is up to you. Just remember to be yourself and have fun with it!

bag, pack, blog conference, Lucky, lucky fabb

Step two is to arrive at your blog conference ready for battle. Tomorrow, I will be packing:
  • Business Cards for new networking opportunities.
  • Lip stain to be camera ready for the ridiculous amount of photos that are sure to be taken.
  • Heel liners for all the walking.
  • Altoids for fresh breath.
  • Ray Bans sunglasses because they are a California must.
  • My pen and notebook for (you guessed it!) notetaking.
  • Eos hand lotion for shaking hands with new friends.
  • Kleenex because the Girl Scout in me says you should always come prepared.
  • iPhone and phone charger for collecting numbers, uploading photos, sharing my blog, Googling brands, etc.
  • A copy of Lucky Magazine to quickly reference the latest and greatest behind the faces that are hosting Lucky FABB.
Happy blog conferencing!


Winos-in-Training: Whole Foods Market Santa Barbara Edition

Whole Foods Market, Santa Barbara, WFM

Last night, my friend (Brittney) and I had the pleasure of attending the One Wine Spring Release Party at Whole Foods Market in Santa Barbara, CA. Since both of us are 22 years-old (ok ok I will be next week!), we are still wine-snobs-in-training. For instance, Brittney knows she likes rosé wines, and I am a sucker for whites. Yup, that's about all we've got. So, this event was a great opportunity to get wined and dined and discover new, local favorites grown in the Santa Barbara area. 

The One Wine Spring Release Party was a collaboration between Whole Foods Market and local winemakers who shared the fruits of their labor (pun intended) through the One Wine label custom blended wines. The One Wine label started in 2011 as a partnership with two wineries in Southern California, and has since blossomed into a mutually beneficial, creative partnership between Whole Foods Market and over ten of SoCal's best winemakers. 

Participating One Wine wineries included Ampelos Cellars, Au Bon Climat Winery, Clendenen Family Winery, Fallbrook Winery, Happy Canyon Vineyards, Hearst Ranch Winery, Hitching Post Winery, Margerum Wineries, and South Coast Winery. 

Although all of the wines were fantastic, our favorite of the night was the One Wine Ampelos Rosé. The wine held hints of wild strawberry and watermelon, which made it our frontrunner choice for wine parties this summer!

If you're interested in upping your wine game, or learning more about the One Wine collection at Whole Foods Market, be sure to check out Santa Barbara Whole Foods Market's Facebook and Twitter!

The event was located in Whole Foods Market Santa Barbara's "Buzz Hive." In other words, Whole Foods Market's in-store bar! Crowded, but pretty cool.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for Whole Foods Market Santa Barbara

Chocolate Chip Pretzels

chocolate chip, pretzels, chocolate chip pretzels


For the dough:
⅓ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup well-chopped chocolate or miniature chocolate chips (dark chocolate was my chip of choice!)
For the glaze:
1 large egg
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon water
Coarse or pearl sugar, for finishing

To make the brioche, whisk the milk and yeast together in a small dish until the yeast has dissolved. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs and yeast mixture, mixing until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 10 minutes. Add the butter, a third at a time, mixing well between each addition. Swap to the dough hook and let the mixer knead the dough on low speed until it's silky and smooth, about 5 minutes. Add the chocolate and continue mixing until it's spread evenly throughout the dough.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm spot for about 2 hours, until almost doubled. If you'd like, you can rest the dough in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before proceeding. Just make sure to bring it back to room temperature and let it rise before moving on.
To make the pretzels, line two baking sheets with parchment or a nonstick baking mat and heat oven to 350º. Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll each ball into an 18-inch long rope about ½-inch thick. This dough is very buttery and you likely won't need a floured surface. However, if you notice your dough sticking to your work area, simply dust it with a little flour. Now, watch this YouTube video about braiding pretzels (and do it!). Repeat with the remaining dough. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, water and salt. Transfer the pretzels to the prepared baking sheets and brush with glaze. Let them rest for about 15 minutes. They'll rise slightly during this time.
To finish, brush the pretzels once more with the glaze. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake for about 12 minutes, until puffed and lightly bronzed. Cool slightly (yeah right) on a cooling rack before serving.

How did your chocolate chip pretzels turn out? Comment below!

Inspired by Cook Like a Champion