The Ultimate College Care Package

This post is sponsored by BabbleBoxx.com on behalf of Single Edition Media.

I’ve gotten used to long distance relationships by now. Freshman year of college I was in Illinois, my boyfriend was in Iowa, my best friend was in Texas, and a brother-like friend was in Ohio. Fast forward and I was living in New York away from everyone I knew for half a year and I’ve got this long distance thing down pat.

I’ve mastered the handwritten letter (with beautifully decorated envelopes to boot!), and I can express myself over Facebook message like a champ.

With everyone moving back to school now, I’m brushing up on my long distance game with care packages and notes to remind my people how much I love them. If you want to make a care package for your college gal, I teamed up with Babblebox to give you a few suggestions! They sent me a few gift ideas, and I wrote a few notes you can include in your package.

A little overview…

COLLEGE CARE PACKAGE

The FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini 70

Instant cameras are making a comeback in a big way. They are cute, convenient, and offer instant gratification in the form of a physical picture.

IMG_9862

The FUJIFILM INSTAX Mini 70 retails at $139.95 and is the perfect size for your best gal pal to throw it in her backpack when she’s on the go. It’s easy and fun to use and I can guarantee that whoever you gift this to will love you forever.

The care package note: “Breaks my heart that you’re making memories without me (only 3 months until the dynamic duo is reunited!) but while you’re off having crazy adventures now you have no excuse not to send pics. Snap lots and send them my way!”

GreenPan Mini Ceramic Non-Stick Square Egg Pan

I am the mom of my friend group. I’m the one making people text me when they’re home safe and asking if they’ve eaten any veggies today. I worry and I care and I want everyone to be warm and well fed and safe at all times. Like I said, mom.

IMG_9864

As the mom I usually provide the snacks and do any and all cooking. With them being across the country it’s time I pass the baton (or in this case, frying pan) on and let them cook for themselves.

This cutie is personal sized meaning less scrubbing for you and it has a stay-cool non-slip handle with a silicon grip – I’m not letting my best buds get burnt! The GreenPan Mini Ceramic Non-Stick Square Egg Pan is great because it’s little enough for tiny college apartment kitchens and it’s the perfect size for a midnight pancake.

GreenPan is the bomb dot com and is offering all of you a 20% off discount and free shipping with the promo code: SCHOOL20! It’s good from 8/14/2016- 9/4/2016! Woot woot!

The care package note: “Tough love, my friend: It’s time for you to learn to cook and I fully expect a 5 course meal from you when you come to visit me. 

Or at least a grilled cheese.

Miss you, love you!”

Zebra Pen Assortment

My heart burst when I saw this assortment of pens. Could they be any more perfect?

IMG_9865

Pens are a practical gift for college students, but with vibrant colors and designs Zebra makes the pens fun.

These pens will have your friend passing taking notes in style, and just add a sweet and exciting touch to your care package. Plus, now they have no excuse not to write you now!

The care package note: “Noah wrote Allie 365 letters so I don’t think one good, ol’ fashioned letter is too much to ask. I know I’ll be writing you!”

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Flip Balms

Fun things like lip balms are great additions to care packages because they are practical enough that you know your bud is going to use them, but because care products are often an afterthought these Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Flip Balms are something that they might not think to buy themselves.

IMG_9895

You know I love that the ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced, and I especially love that you can get these earth friendly babies for just $3.50 each.

The watermelon is my favorite because it somehow smells like my childhood (#nostalgia), but the coconut and mango and amazing, too!

The care package note: “Just know that I’m blowing you kisses and counting down the days until the dream team is reunited!”

Simply Sensitive Summer’s Eve® Cleansing Cloths

True friendship has no boundaries, so if your girl needs Simply Sensitive Summer’s Eve® Cleansing Cloths you best bet that you’ve got her back. Again, these might not be something your friend thinks of buying herself, but she’ll be glad to have when she’s going straight from the gym to a long day of classes.

IMG_9881

The gentle formula won’t irritate sensitive skin, and these are my secret weapon for cleaning my diva cup in public bathrooms!

The care package note: “Girl, we’re there.” 

Of course no care package is complete without:

Silly momentos, handmade presents, and a few personal notes from the heart. Long distance friendship are trying and challenging, but I truly believe they bring you closer in the long run!

IMG_9885

 

Follow:

How Starting a Blog Can Change Your Life

Anyone who spends any amount of time with me in real life knows I’m the world’s biggest proponent for starting a blog. No matter who you are, where your passions lie, and what your goals are: blogging can benefit you in a million different ways.

First off, starting a blog is easy. Trust me – I started mine on a serious whim in the middle of the night with no trouble at all. So if you’re trying to say, “but it’s too complicated….” then you’re really overestimating most of us bloggers. I’m flattered when people seem to equate blogging to rocket science, but it really isn’t.

Now onto the life changing stuff.

blogging

Blogging has changed my life for the better. It’s put me on a new career path, helps me make a living, and has introduced me to some of the most incredible, big-hearted people I know.

But enough about me, I want to talk about you and more specifically why you should start a blog.

You can make money

First and foremost, let’s get this out of the way: blogging is a great way to make money. While I tend to average around $2000 a month after expenses, there are some bloggers who are making upwards of $30,000 every single month.

If blogging for money is your main motivation you might end up a little disappointed, though, because it takes at least a few months to build up any real income.

Your blog is a living resume

Sure, you can keep the generic resume that every other candidate is turning in when you apply for a job, or you can link them to your blog that you are regularly updating with killer content.

Being a blogger shows that you’re dedicated, a talented writer, self-motivated, and the list goes on.

Even if your blog has nothing to do with the position that you’re ultimately applying for, being able to run and maintain a blog says a lot about you as a potential employee.

Blogging opens doors for you

Through blogging I’ve done some really cool things. Think walking in a fashion show in Chicago, moving to New York City, getting invited to New York Fashion Week, and even meeting one of my best friends.

When you have a blog it’s easy to find you. You never know who might stumble on your site when scrolling through Pinterest or Googling something. If the right person finds you, you never know what can happen.

Blogging gives you something to fall back on

Personally, I hope to make blogging my full time job in the next few years, but if you are going down a more traditional path, the money you make from blogging can allow you to be pickier on your job hunt, and less stressed about layoffs and downsizing.

Furthermore, if you are unhappy with your work environment now, if you have a profitable blog you might have more flexibility to leave and live off your blog income while you look for a new job.

That security blanket might end up being a blessing for you when you least expect it.

Blogging allows you to be creative

I love this one – I am in complete control of what I write about on my blogs. There is nobody telling me how to write or what to write about. Even when I do sponsored posts, I have creative freedom.

This outlet is a great way to connect with people and get my feelings out in the world.

As a blogger you feel an indescribable connection with your readers – I’ve talked to y’all about things I wasn’t ready to share with my real-life people, and you’ve helped me get through some rough times.

Blogging keeps you sharp

I’ve learned more than I could ever imagine through blogging. SEO, HTML, marketing, social media, the list goes on.

You learn a lot by being a blogger and it’s a good way to keep on learning and challenging yourself.

Blogging keeps you interesting

Along the same lines, blogging makes you interesting. Whenever I see anyone I knew in high school, or only vaguely know (aka I haven’t already talked their ears off about blogging) that is the first thing they ask.

Once people know you blog, especially if they know you make money, they are going to have a ton of questions. This means less awkward small talk and more talking about the things you’re good at.

Tell me about your blog in the comments!

Follow:

Troubled Skin Care Routine

For those of you who don’t know – I moved back to Illinois from New York about 3 weeks ago. I lived in New York for half a year, and while it was a great experience, it turns out that the big city doesn’t mix too well with this Midwestern girl.

The fast pace, fragrant streets, and general grime stressed me and my skin out. Growing up I was #blessed with pretty docile skin. Redness here and a hormonal pimple there, but never anything too severe.

Well, that all changed when I moved to New York. Between clogged pores covering my nose and angry red spots on my chin and forehead the grimy air definitely impacted my skin in a not-so-glamorous way.

I spent more money than I’d like to admit on facemasks, spot treatments, and toners thinking that I’d stumble upon that one holy grail item that would make my problem skin a thing of the past.

Long story short: I didn’t.

Well, not until after I moved back to good ‘ol Illinois. Originally I thought that moving home would solve all of my skin woes, but as it turns out when you move from a dirty and grimy environment back to clean air; your skin does this charming thing called purging.

The week I came home my skin was worse than ever.

So when I got the opportunity to try the 4 Day Sensitive Skin Regime by nügg Beauty I jumped at the chance. And I was amazed by how much I loved it.

IMG_9802

The treatment comes in four individual (recyclable!) pots so you limit the air that is introduced that can cause oxidation and render facemasks ineffective. The nügg Beauty masks also contain over 90% natural or naturally derived ingredients and aren’t tested on animals which is something I certainly feel great about.

There are different regimes depending on your skin type, and pre-NYC Morgan would have instantly gravitated towards the dry skin regime, but the new me jumped at the chance to try their 4 Day Sensitive Skin Regime that has a combination of deep cleansing and soothing face masks.

Now, you’re all probably wondering about the results and I’m nothing short of giddy to show you. Like I said, in New York I tried a lot of products that just didn’t work so I was a bit jaded and pessimistic so when the nügg Beauty masks worked? I was floored.

IMG_9816b IMG_9820

After just the first day you can see that my redness had decreased significantly, and maybe it’s just me, but I feel like my spots shrunk, too. My skin was already a bit better than it had been when I got home to begin with, but the 4 Day Sensitive Skin Regime gave me the final boost I needed to get back on the path of clear skin.

By the end of the four-day cycle I saw real results: my skin was noticeably clearer, and has stayed noticeably clearer.  There is a bit of scarring because I can’t keep my hands off my face, but I’ve had no new spots since the regime.IMG_9822

Additionally, I’ve always had an annoying dry patch of skin in between my eyebrows, and even one week later I’m flake free.

The regimes are really affordable so I’m stocking up on both the Sensitive Skin and the Dry Skin regimes to keep up with my results. And if you want to try the masks out for yourself use the code MORGAN10 to get 10% off through 9/30.

nügg Beauty also let me try out their Intense Lip Boosting Mask and no lie – this product makes me feel like a Kardashian in the best way possible. Lip masks are a new concept to me, but I don’t know why they haven’t blown up, everywhere.

IMG_9807

I’ve always felt neutral about my lips. Didn’t love them, didn’t hate them. They were just on my face and I didn’t think much about them.

The lip mask, though, softens and plumps them to the point where I find myself pouting uncharacteristically in selfies just to show off my improved pucker. I like to put the mask on before bed so it has plenty of time to work its magic, and my lips stay nice all day.

Don’t forget that you can try out the nügg Beauty products for yourself with a 10% discount using MORGAN10, and be sure to let me know what you try

IMG_9806

Follow:

Big Sister Advice: Menstrual Cups & What You Need to Know

Periods. Periods. Periods.

There. Now that the initial awkwardness is out of the way and everything is out in the air I want to talk to you all about something that’s actually really important. But oftentimes taboo (let’s break that taboo, yeah?).

And if you hadn’t already guessed, I’ll be acting as your internet big sister and talking about periods. Or more specifically, feminine hygiene products.

The taboo that comes with periods means that a lot of girls don’t know their options. Until a year ago I’d only ever known about pads, tampons, and panty liners and for almost 10 years I cycled through boxes upon boxes of hygiene products, and I don’t even want to begin to think about how much waste was created and how much money was wasted.

Now? I use the Diva Cup. Silly name, awesome product.

divacup

If you haven’t heard of menstrual cups, they are reusable silicone cups that you use in place of tampons.

If your instinct was to cringe – don’t worry. That was my first reaction, too. When I first heard of menstrual cups the words “dirty,” “unhygienic,” and “gross” were quick to come to mind.

In actuality, though, menstrual cups are none of those things. They are:

  • Convenient – you only have to empty them once every 12 hours or so. On my worst days I’d change a super tampon seven or eight times during a single day – that’s once every three hours!
    • For full disclosure – on heavy days you probably can’t get away with waiting 12 hours – usually I can last around eight.
  • Cost efficient – most menstrual cups are around $20 and will last you over a year if you take care of them. Assuming you keep yours for a year and a half before replacing, it will cost you a little over a dollar per period where tampons will cost you around $7 per period.
  • Eco-friendly – this is why I made the switch in the first place. Eventually I realized just how wasteful pads and tampons were and I felt guilty about producing all of that waste and researched my options. Throwing away one cup every year and a half sure beats throwing away dozens of pads and tampons every month.
  • Healthier than traditional options – unless you pay through the nose for unbleached, organic, special feminine hygiene products tampons are actually pretty bad for you. Doused in chemicals, not under FDA regulation, and they upset the pH balance of your vagina. Menstrual cups keep you balanced and healthy!

Obviously I’m a big fan of menstrual cups. Like I said, though, I definitely had my fears in the beginning so I thought I could address some of the things that caused me to hesitate before taking the plunge:

  • They are messy – Actually, there is very little mess involved. Sure, the first month or two might hold a learning curve for you, but after that you should be good! After that learning curve has passed you won’t get any period on your hand when you remove the cup, you’ll be leak free, and you’ll confidently kiss pads and tampons goodbye!
  • They are gross – I think people think this because they are reusable, but trust me when I say that they are so easy to clean. For the most part you dump everything in the toilet, and after that it’s easy to rinse anything left on off.  I also wash mine more thoroughly at night in the shower and then a deep clean between cycles.
  • They are hard to use – Like I said before, there is a bit of a learning curve, but nothing that you can’t handle. Once you get it down you can empty your cup, clean it, and reinsert it in a minute and a half tops.
  • They are uncomfortable – Like a tampon, you can’t actually feel the Diva Cup if it’s inserted correctly.

Common questions about menstrual cups:

  • Can you swim with a menstrual cup? Yes ma’am!
  • Can it hold up during sports? Yep!
  • What if I need to change it in a public restroom? If you don’t have access to a sink you can wipe it out with toilet paper, or I like to use Summer’s Eve wet wipes! BUT! because you’re good for 12 hours you should usually be able to time it around when you’ll be home.
  • Can I use it when I’m not on my period? They don’t recommend using it every day, but personally I used mine two or three days before my period is set to begin and rinse it every 12 hours. So even if it sneaks up early on me I’m prepared!
  • Do I need to wear a pantyliner with it? Until you’re a pro, I’d recommend it. I no longer need that extra security, but your first month or two you might have leaks.
  • It’s leaking! What do I do? If you can’t get a good seal, your insertion strategy might need some work. I recommend after you’ve inserted it to twist it around for 2 full cycles. This helps create the seal.
  • Does it hurt to insert? It shouldn’t – there are a lot of different folding methods. I started by using the “C-Fold” and that was uncomfortable so now I use the “Punch-Down Fold.”

Hang in there? Good! I know this is unlike what I usually write about here, but it’s important. I’ve been trying to be more environmentally conscious and also more health conscious and feminine hygiene was was one of the first places I made a change and I thought other people should know about their options.

If you have any questions at all leave them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer!

Follow:

Dealing with Change in Your Early Twenties

I’ve been through a lot of changes in the last year: battling depression, leaving school, moving to New York City, working at a tech start-up, moving back to the midwest, and now adjusting to working remotely and balancing blogging in the midst of all of it.

I look at how stressful the last year has been but I also realize that this time of change is just a part of growing up and everyone my age has either experienced that stress or will be very soon.

I’m by no means an expert at handling stress (I’m known to hole up in my room and listen to Hilary Duff’s Metamorphosis album on a loop to hid from any and all stressors) but I have gotten pretty good at handling change.

I’ve learned a lot, and while I still have a lot to learn I’m sure, I wanted to share my top five tips for dealing with change in your early twenties:

Focus on quality

The quality of the people you spend time with, the things you own, and the effort you put into the things you do.

When I was younger I was so focused on having as many friends as possible (including ones that didn’t treat me well), trendy clothes that would inevitably tatter after two washes, and hobbies that were quirky or unique that people would think were interesting.

Minimizing and downsizing will help show you what’s important and what to hold on to even in times of change. Whether your change is coming in the form of a new career careers, zip code, or relationship – focusing on quality will bring take you far.

In both of my moves I’ve especially had to focus on the quality of the material things I own. I wore right through a pair of shoes walking to and from work everyday, and my carry-on hardly survived the trips.

Rather than replacing it with another cheap fast-fashion bag, I’ve picked out a beautiful backpack from Backpacks.com. The site just launched (hooray!) and has backpacks for whatever transition you may be going through – whether you’ve just quit your job and are planning on backpacking the Himilayas or you made it to your freshman year and forgot your backpack (don’t worry, been there done that) you can find your perfect pack on Backpacks.com.

DSC_0540DSC_0131

If you’re wondering, my pack is their High Sierra Avondale Backpack in Hydro.

Be prepared for the worst

Not in a pessimistic sense, but I think part of growing up is realizing that life might not go the way you want it to just because you want it to.

Hope for the best, and even expect the best but also realize that things can go the exact opposite of planned.

Now, you might be thinking:

“Great advice and all, but what does this actually mean?

Well, have a plan B. Always.

 

For example: When I left school I didn’t have a plan – that wasn’t smart. Luckily, opportunity sort of fell into my lap, but if it hadn’t I was riding on my blog carrying me to success.

Now if I had to do it over again I would have honed in on my skills and began building a copywriting portfolio and dipping my toe into freelancing just so I had something to fall back on. 

But this advice applies to any change. Moving across the country? Create an emergency kit in case your car breaks down. Traveling to Africa? Plan for the potential of missing a flight in an area where you don’t speak the language.

I’ve gotten into the mindset of thinking, “What might go wrong and what can I do if it does.” Thinking these things through means I’m rarely caught completely off guard.

DSC_0230

My backpack has all of the necessities and things that I probably (hopefully!) won’t need. Anything from bobby pins to pepper spray, you best bet I’ve got it.

Network (even if you don’t want to)

I’m an introvert and often times communication exhausts me. I find myself dreading texting back even my best friend, or wanting to cancel plans five minutes before I’m supposed to leave.

It’s not that I don’t like the person I’m talking to or going to see (in fact, I love them!) but I have leftover social anxiety that creeps in from time to time that makes networking and making friends hard.

But when it comes down to it – your network is going to end up being so valuable to you if things don’t go as planned.

Again, this tip might  be a bit more catered to those whose big change involves a change in location, but it’s still applicable to anyone.

If you’re moving it’s important to establish connections right away. Speaking to my last tip, if things go wrong it’s nice to know that you have people you can count on, at least to some degree.

When I moved to New York I had my first experience with true street harassment the day after my mom left and I was very shaken and upset and really just in need of a hug.

Unfortunately, I had only been in the city for a short amount of time and hadn’t made any friends I could turn to yet.

That experience opened my eyes though and made me realize that I needed to find my people, and I needed to do it quickly.

While I never had as scary of an experience as that first one, once I found people I could talk about it with and who would help me shake it off, I suddenly felt a lot less alone.

So no matter how introverted and shy you might be, put on your brave pants and a smile, and reach out to establish a net of people who know and care about you.

DSC_0092

Ignoring all of the rules of stranger danger most of the people I met I found on Instagram! I looked through hashtags like #NYCBlogger and #NYCIntern and found some really incredible people!

Don’t worry too much

I think one thing that hurts young adults more than anything is stressing out over the future and thinking that they need to have everything figured out right this second. 

The truth is – we have plenty of time to make mistakes, learn from them, and grow as people. Most mistakes we make right now will be long forgotten in a few years.

If you spend your time worrying over whether you made the right decision or if you should have opted for something else instead then you’re losing valuable time that could be spent doing anything else in the world other than worrying.

You are young and you’re going to screw up. Once you realize that it becomes a lot less intimidating.

DSC_0305

Keep moving forward

When the going gets tough, it’s easy to want to run back into your comfort zone and never leave. But you made whichever change you pursued for a reason, and you owe it to yourself to see it through.

That scary experience I mentioned earlier? That was almost enough to get me to book a one way ticket home and forget about New York altogether. But I pushed through. I gave the city five and a half more months to win me over before deciding that I wasn’t cut out for the city and then I went home.

Not because I was afraid, or because I changed my mind; but because I felt like the city had given me all it had to offer and I needed to pursue new adventures from a home base that wasn’t costing me an arm and a leg.

Change is scary, and it’s never going to be as easy as staying the path; but more often than not it’s worth it. Whether it’s because it was a change for the better, or you were able to learn from it – change is a good thing.

DSC_0016

Before I go…

Thanks to Backpacks.com for sponsoring this post and being so incredible overall! If you’re in the need for a backpack you can count on that’s just as cute as it is functional check them out! And as always, thank you so much for supporting the brands that make Mostly Morgan possible. You are rockstars.

Follow:
Photography is all Desiree Sandlin! Thank you for always taking the best pics!