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Friday, September 19, 2014

A Day In The Life

A question I get a lot right now is, "So, what are you up to?" What these people (family, friends, curious people I meet randomly, people making small talk, basically everyone) are really asking is, "So, since you're not working, what is that you do all day?"

What I Do All Day - Kate the (Almost) Great

Sometime between 7:00 and 7:30 - Wake up, check phone, snuggle cat, make my way out of bed.

Until 9:00 - 2 cups of coffee, smoothie, Pinterest, reading blogs, commenting on blogs, etc. while watching the news

9:00 - First stages of getting ready for the day, yoga, meditation, take Piper (our King Charles cavalier spaniel) for a walk

Starting sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 - Study for the GRE. 5-6 days a week, I study for either the general GRE or the GRE subject test in literature. I alternate which test I study for and what part of the test I study. This is my September schedule:

GRE study calendar

So on Monday, I studied poetry. Tuesday it was arithmetic (is it embarrassing that I struggled with that?), Wednesday was literary history, Thursday was algebra (I was much better at that), and today it's literary criticism. I spend at least 2 hours every day studying.

Sometime by 12:30 - Lunch

Afternoon - Finish getting ready (aka finishing my outfit and makeup) and then work. What this entails is different every day. It can mean what feels like a million emails, or writing posts and making images and scheduling promotions. Other days, it's editing (have anything you need to be edited - college paper, college admissions essay, short biography, whatever?). Some days it's writing. Sometimes it's working on my writing website relaunch. Usually, it's a combination of all of the above.

The afternoon is also when I tend to have different things scheduled. I'm volunteering at least one afternoon a week and I have different kinds of appointments. 3 afternoons this week, I had different appointments or commitments that took 2-4 hours.

I work right up to dinner every afternoon.

Sometime between 6:00 and 8:00 - Dinner

After dinner - Finishing any work that needs to be done that night and can't wait until the next day. This is usually when I do video editing or any other fun and creative (or last-minute) things. Writing my to-do list for the next day. Watching TV or Netflix and plenty of social media.

10:00 - Get ready for bed, which includes bed-time yoga and meditation. I'm in bed (and hopefully asleep) by 11!

Hope that this explains a little more what I'm up to. I know sometimes I tweet or post things about being busy and working a lot, and I'm sure that some of you are just like, "Really? Aren't you not doing anything right now?" While I'm not working a full-time (or even really part-time) job, I'm still doing stuff.

Two more things! 

One - Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win $20 to Target! $20 may not be a whole lot, but we all know the experience of going in for a couple things and coming out with an extra $20 or more in the cart than we planned to spend. 

Two - I also want to introduce you to the awesome Caitlyn of ChemGradBoom


Hey there! My name is Caitlyn and I'm the girl behind ChemGradBoom. I am currently working on my masters and am planning my next adventure over to Scotland! While in Scotland I will be working on my PhD but most importantly I will be hanging out in castles, traveling, and visiting all 30 breweries there! So even if you're not a college student I blog about it all: traveling, embarrassing moments in life, everything nerdy and life of a 24 year old who doesn't know what's next in life!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

10 Things I Missed About New England

I've been up in Boston for almost a month and a half now, and there are so many things that make me go, "I missed that!" While I did make frequent trips up to New England for the 5 years I lived in Nashville, it's not quite the same thing.

new england

1. The weather - I don't do heat. I. Don't. Do. It. True story - I used to get heat rash. When it was in the high 80s. July was my 6th summer in Nashville and I still couldn't handle it.

2. The leaves - There's good foliage in Nashville for like half a second and it's at the end of October. Some are starting to change here and it's great because there will be awesome leaves for like two months. So psyched.

3. Fenway - The Mother Church. Even though I haven't been to a game since I got back (and probably won't go again until next year), I get to drive and walk by it on a regular basis and I get such a happy thrill every time I do because LOOK. FENWAY. *heart eye emoji*

4. Pats Games - They're actually on TV up here. I would be able to watch probably one third of the entire season down south. And only if they were playing someone that had a big demographic in the area or were one of the big nationally-televised games that week. You know how sometimes at the end of a game the announcers will talk about the next one but they're like, "And depending on where you are it will be one of these three games. Check your local listings."? Yeah. I regularly lost the football-watching lottery with that one.

5. The history - There are many parts of the south that have history dating back to the early 19th century. But up here in New England, it dates way beyond that. I went through a T station last week that was the seat of the Massachusetts General Court until 1798. The Declaration of Independence was read there in 1776. How awesome is that?

6. The sea - This is going to sound to corny and cheesy and you're going to roll your eyes at me but my soul is fed by the sea. Is that weird? Don't care. What I'm trying to say (in very stuffy/poetic language) is that I have this amazing feeling that I just can't explain when I am near the ocean. And when you can't go to the ocean for months at a time, that makes me feel very suffocated.

7. The clothes - This kind of relates to the weather, and isn't really related to last-week's rant about preppy clothes. Remember how I said that I don't do heat? Well that means that I never completely figured out how to dress for the heat. As in, dress so that a) I'm comfortable and b) I still look pulled together. Layers? Now that's my jam.

8. SEAFOOD - I kept this separate from #6 because this has nothing to do with my poetic soul connection to the ocean. I never completely trusted seafood from Nashville. I feel much better knowing that the food I'm eating today was caught yesterday by someone locally. And obviously there are plenty of times where there's no way that I can eat fish caught locally recently. But I grew up outside of Portland, Maine. You could be sitting in a restaurant in Portland, order fish for dinner, and look out the window and see the boat that caught your fish.

9. The language - Okay. So, there are some difference between how people from New England and the south sound. These are small differences. See, I talk on the faster side. These things make it a little more difficult for other people to understand what I'm saying. In New England, that is not a regular occurrence. In Nashville, it was.

10. My family and friends - Obviously this had to be on the list! The vast majority of my family and friends from high school are within a couple hours drive of me in right now in any direction. And I'm even lucky enough to have some friends I made while in school in Nashville be up here in Boston with me for at least the next year or more. And that's pretty great.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Decorating a Small Space

So since I moved back to Boston, I'm living at my parents' house because I can't work right now (hence, you know, the move back to Boston). And I'm not living in my childhood bedroom - because that is in Maine and someone else is living in there now. My parents moved to Boston the summer before my senior year of college, and majorly downsized since my little sister was going to college that fall. So my bedroom is small, I share it with my sister when she is here, and it doesn't have pretty much any personalization.

Well, let's make that didn't.

I took these built-in shelves next to my bed and filled them with things to make me feel more at home. And I definitely succeeded.

how to decorate a small space on a budget | Kate the (Almost) Great

Decorating On A Budget | Kate the (Almost) Great
My sister and me, receiving my Vanderbilt diploma, and a picture of me and one of my best friends. Plus, of course, Vanderbilt pennants, Red Sox pennant, and an Irish flag.

Decorating Bookshelves | Kate the (Almost) Great

Cats on Bookshelves | Kate the (Almost) Great

Dear Coffee I Love You | Kate the (Almost) Great

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CS Lewis Inspirational Quote | Kate the (Almost) Great

Hardships Often Prepare Ordinary People For An Extraordinary Destiny | Kate the (Almost) Great

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I did receive this print in exchange for a review. That is the only compensation I received for including it. For more information, read my disclosure policy on my About page.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Is Exercise Good For Arthritis? (Plus a Giveaway!)

When you have a chronic health condition, finding a balance to maintain your health without pushing yourself over the edge can be tricky. This is especially so if you have a condition that could potentially get worse by physical activity, but still needs you to do some. Today I'll be talking about how I have managed to find that balance. If you don't have a chronic health condition like arthritis, reading this may help you understand the lives of those who do (PS - read What To Say To Someone With Arthritis)

My personal experience comes from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. I am not a doctor or medical professional and I can't talk about what is best for any condition. I can, however, talk about what my medical team has told me. So take my advice with that in mind - I can't give you the official medical advice, but I can talk about what my 13+ years of experience and 20+ doctors have told me.

is exercise good for arthritis kate the almost great

Motion is Lotion

"Motion is lotion" is the idea that moving your joints on a regular basis will keep them moving. You may have heard in the Celebrex commercials that, "A body at rest stays at rest. A body in motion stays in motion," which is based on Newton's first law of motion. This is true. If you have arthritis, think of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. His joints get stuck and need to be oiled up. That what our joints are turning into thanks to our immune systems. We need to keep them from getting that way, and medications can only do so much. So you need to apply motion to them.

But, of course, this is where it gets tricky. Moving can be extremely painful. If you're asking, "Is exercise good for arthritis?" you should understand that the answer is yes and no. Too little won't do enough. Too much could set you over the edge.

Exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia: Minimum Amount for Me

I do 20-30 minutes of yoga every day and I walk every day. The distance I walk varies based on how I'm feeling, but on the worst days I walk 4 city blocks. The yoga also varies based on how I'm feeling. On the worst days, I do 10 minutes of light, relaxing yoga. 

I do want to say something extra about yoga. If you have never done it before (either yoga as a whole or different poses than you have done before), do not try it based off of pictures on the Internet. Incorrectly doing yoga can injure you! There are a lot of tutorials on YouTube (I really like Erin Motz) and there is even an app for iPhones called Yoga Studio. These will describe what to do (and when to do it) while you are doing the pose, and they will also explain what not to do so that you don't injure yourself. I really suggest going to actual yoga classes, but I know that can be expensive or unavailable based on where you life, so YouTube and apps that describe how to do the poses are your best bet.

Exercise for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibromyalgia: Maximum Amount for Me  

The maximum amount of exercise for my arthritis is dependent on the big question of if I do or do not have special plans that day. For example, last week I went with a friend to Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. I took an Uber there, but then we walked up and down the market and around the stores around it. When I left, I walked to the nearby T station to take the train home, and then walked from the T station to my house. That is the maximum amount of exercise/walking that I've done in a LONG time. 

If I didn't have that plan, I would have walked farther than that than I normally do (probably around 8 city blocks). I base the maximum amount of exercise around a) how I'm feeling that day b) if I have anything out of the ordinary that I need to do that day and c) what I have to do the next day. Which leads me to ...

exercising with fibromyalgia kate the almost great

How to Recognize When to Stop

This is extremely tricky, and I'm just now starting to listen to the warning signs and stop doing too much before I go past my limits. By the time I get there, there's no going back - I'm in massive amounts of pain and very little with help. Here's my checklist to see if I should stop:

1. Do any parts of me feel sore/aching? Where on the pain scale is that?

2. How much have I done so far? How long have I been going?

3. Is there anything later today (or tomorrow) that I absolutely have to or want to do?

4. How's my brain? Is it starting to get "foggy" or am I having trouble concentrating?

How to Say "No"

Probably the biggest thing that I had difficulty with is learning when and how to say, "No, I can't do that," to my friends or family when I knew that I needed to. I didn't want to turn down doing something. I didn't want to admit that I couldn't or shouldn't do something. But a crucial part of living with and managing chronic illness is mastering the "No." Even if you think that you might be able to do something, you need to ask yourself if you should do it. This is a skill that I've been trying to hone for a long time. Here are a couple of ways that you can say no:


No, sorry, I can't go.

I've already done too much today.

I have plans. With Netflix and ice packs and heating pads and NSAIDS.

Sorry, my [insert body part bothering you here] isn't doing great today.

How about I do [insert easier-for-you task here] instead?

I can't today. But tomorrow I'll do that plus [some other task you can do].

How about [alternate date] instead?

Target Giveaway

And now - a Target giveaway! I've teamed up with some of my awesome sponsors to bring you a $20 giveaway to Target. (Want to join in the next one?) This runs from 9/15/14 12:00 AM - 9/19/14 11:59 PM, and once I email the winner, the winner has 48 hours to accept the prize or I will choose someone else. Good luck!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fall Fashion Inspiration

It's the end of the second week of September and cooler temperatures are (happily) upon us. This will be my first time in 6 years (SIX!) with a proper fall, and I'm so happy about it. So let's take a look at my autumn fashion inspiration today!

Essentially What I Packed for the Fall

fall fashion packing checklist

My Fall Fashion Inspiration

Burgundy and Navy

navy and cranberry

Denim/Chambray Shirt And, Well, Everything

how to wear a denim shirt


how to wear plaid

Stripes, Statement Necklace, Classic, with a Hint of Prep

cranberry pants
As we all know, that's my style in a nutshell: classic prep. Check me out on Pinterest for more fashion inspiration! Oh, and if you want to get more about my thought process on my packing for fall, watch this video.

What's your fashion inspiration for fall?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

My Style Is My Own

The other day, I read this great post from The "Florkens" about the struggle with originality these days, and I really agreed with it. I especially agreed with Kate when she talked about feeling like it's totally fine if you like some mainstream or cultural favorites (like infinity scarves or PSL) as long as you generally like it and you're not just "on trend." Of course, if you like to follow trends and stay up to date with them, that's fine, too. But my style has always been mine, and not based on trends.

preppy style kate the almost great

Here's the thing: I have had the same sense of style my entire life, although it has certainly become more polished in recent years. (Let's not talk about the mid-2000s, okay? Obnoxiously preppy and not in a good way). Yup, that's right - I am and always have been into preppy clothes. So I get really, really annoyed with people who think that I dress the way I do just because it's trendy. Do you need proof that this is my original style? Well, you asked.

preppy children kate the almost great
First day of kindergarten
Argyle sweater vest & collared shirt

Now, I may not be wearing argyle sweater vests any more, but I still dress with a preppy tone. I don't buy my clothing from J. Crew, Lilly Pulitzer, and Vineyard Vines because it's trendy, but because I like their clothes. Plus, I buy plenty of items from stores like Anthropologie, Target, H&M, Forever 21, and Old Navy. Like what you like - that's your business. But don't assume that I dress the way I do because that's what so many people are doing. I worked at Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store in high school and I popped my collar from 7th-12th grade. New England prep is in my blood.

Need more proof? Take a look at this outfit.

american apparel blank shirt kate the almost great

I'm wearing basic pixie pants from J.Crew, a simple shirt from American Apparel, and a gold monogram initial necklace. Because that's how I am. (If you want a gold custom pendant like mine, here's a good option - Monogram Necklace 18k Gold Plated Personalized Initial Name Necklace (18 Inches)). It may not be obnoxiously in-your-face preppy, but that's because I prefer for a more understated version now. In this outfit, the preppy item is the monogram necklace.

And a note on the monogram - I've been monogramming things since I was a baby. I have monogram sheets and a monogram jewelry box that I was given before my 3rd birthday. You can definitely bet that I wasn't thinking about things like that in the early 90s. I can't be positive, but I'm pretty sure that when I was 2, I didn't think, "You know, in 20 years, monograms are going to be really trendy. I should keep these things for then!"

cheap american apparel t shirts great

Anyway. Rant over.

I'm so obsessed with this American Apparel tee! It's so incredibly comfortable and goes with everything. It also comes in a bunch of colors. As you can see, I'm wearing a tank under it because I chose a color that is kind of see-through. If you got a different color, you wouldn't have that problem.

I got this blank American Apparel shirt from ApparelnBags. You can get embroidery and screen printing and order in bulk. I love their shirts, and I have a fair number of sorority event shirts that are American Apparel. I may have graduated over a year ago, but I still wear those shirts all the time because they're so comfortable.

ApparelnBags carries over 100 brands, so you can be sure to find something - shirts, shorts, sweats, workout gear, outerwear, bags, or accessories - that fits your needs. They also sell in bulk, so the price per item decreases the more you buy. If you have an event that you want to get clothing items, etc. for, I would definitely check them out.

*Disclaimer - I did receive this shirt in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.*

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Vlogs and Guest Post!

Oh hey there. Just popping in to point out that I have my "hermitting" vlogs up on my YouTube channel! (PS - subscribe for new videos every Wednesday.)

Hermitting: Part 1

Hermitting: Part 2
A creepy Starbucks experience and my process of packing for 3 weeks

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