My 10 Favorite Things about the University of Pittsburgh

After two years at Franciscan, as much as I loved it, I decided to transfer. There were lots of reasons, but a few of the main ones were to study magazine journalism, to live in a place where I could find internship opportunities, and to experience a big school (I went to a small private high school, and craved the “real” college experience a little bit). I went through the transfer application process while I was studying abroad and my family was waiting to hear if they’d be moving back to America from Qatar, where we’d been for seven years by that time. Needless to say, it was a bit of a crazy time to add one more major life decision into the mix, and after being accepted to my dream school, the University of Texas, as well my back-up, the University of Pittsburgh, I decided to go to Pitt because I couldn’t figure out how I would get all my stuff from Ohio to Texas. My sister was about to start there as a freshman, so of course, that was a big bonus as well! Honestly, my year at Pitt was one of the most challenging of my life–it wasn’t a great fit for me, I had the hardest time finding community, I lived in a horrible apartment, and I was terribly homesick. I knew I made the right decision transferring again after a year, but I’m thankful that over time, the hard parts of my year in Pittsburgh have faded away, while the good memories have stayed clearer. Here are 10 of my favorites!

1. Living and going to class in such a busy, bustling place. I loved that you couldn’t even distinguish Pitt buildings from regular city buildings–it really was in the middle of everything!
2. The Cathedral of Learning, the most iconic landmark at Pitt. Going to class there felt like going into Hogwarts, and the Christmas decorations were magical.
pitt13. Being able to see the river and the skyline from football games at Heinz Field.
4. Singing “Sweet Caroline” after the third quarter of football games. The song will never be the same!
pitt35. Getting into all of the amazing museums in Pittsburgh for free as a student–the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, the Andy Warhol Museum, The Mattress Factory…the list goes on!
6. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was, hands down, my favorite place in Pittsburgh. I loved wandering through the aisles of books between classes or sitting outside on the benches when it was nice out.
pitt27. Exploring all the different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. I credit my Pittsburgh Magazine internship to helping me learn about all of them quickly so that I could then take advantage of everything they had to offer. They’re all so unique! My favorites were Shadyside and Bloomfield.
8. Walnut Street in Shadyside. I lived just a few blocks away from this well-known shopping street, and stopped by almost once a week, just to wander around.
pitt49. Pitt Ballet Club. It seems like any time in my life when I’ve felt out of place, I’ve ended up back in a ballet studio, and my year at Pitt was no exception. I loved getting to dance again for the first time since high school and the girls I met through ballet were the sweetest!
10. The view of the Pittsburgh skyline after going through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. It’s amazing. Anyone who has lived in Pittsburgh can probably relate to telling out-of-town visitors, “Wait for it….wait for it…” going through the tunnel in anticipation of the sudden view of the city all lit up!

I LOVED reading about what y’all loved about college in my last post, and I’d be so interested to know, did anything about your college experience not go as originally planned? That was definitely Pitt for me, but rather than a year “wasted,” I think it’s one of the times in my life that helped teach me to trust in God’s plan. Also, it’s where I started Something Pretty! :)

My 10 Favorite Things about Franciscan University

With back to school season in full swing, I’ve found myself reminiscing a lot about college lately. My college experience ended up completely differently than I had originally anticipated, and while explaining it in short-form makes me a little self-conscious sometimes (three schools and five years sounds so flakey!), it’s sweet to now see how God used each place and experience to teach me something. You can read the long story of how I ended up at three different schools here.

In 2008, I graduated from high school and headed to Franciscan University, a tiny Catholic school in Steubenville, Ohio. It was perched on a hill in a little industrial town, and the first time I stepped on campus was the summer before I started my freshman year. I was SO sure that the Lord was calling me there, it didn’t even matter that I had never seen it. My two years there were all about formation for me–growing in my faith, acclimating to life back in America after five years abroad, and finding my independence as a college student. Even though my career goals ultimately led me elsewhere, I know that my years at Franciscan changed my life forever, and I’m eternally thankful for that! I thought it would be fun to share my favorite things about being a student at each school I went to, starting today with Franciscan.


1. People are so, so nice. It’s incredibly easy to make friends, and since you see the same people constantly on such a small campus, there’s always a way to connect with someone else.
2. Franciscan is home to some of the best Catholic theology professors in the world, and being a student there means having the opportunity to learn from their brilliant minds and faiths.
fus53. The opportunity to receive the sacraments frequently and easily. The chapel is packed for 6:30 AM daily Mass every single day of the week–it was inspiring to be surrounded by people who all take their faith so seriously.
4. The way the brick buildings glow during the golden hour, especially during the fall.
fus25. Chicken tender wraps in The Pub–the best on-campus escape from the cafeteria when I was there!
6. Households! Franciscan’s version of sororities/fraternities, all of which were spiritually focused, was one of my favorite parts of student life there. My household sisters are still some of my dearest friends and our retreats, rosaries, Masses, and living on my household wing in the dorm make up some of my favorite Franciscan memories.
fus47. My favorite class I EVER took in college was Human Embryology at Franciscan, which I took to fulfill a basic science credit. I love the fact that such a random class for an English student became my favorite, and I know I wasn’t alone–at the end of the last class of the semester, everyone stood up and applauded the professor. Learning about life before birth in so much depth was fascinating, challenging, and inspiring.
8. Seeing priests and nuns everywhere–they’re truly part of the community, and were always an encouraging presence.
fus39. AUSTRIA. The fact that I got to live in that gorgeous place pictured below and spend weekends galavanting around Europe with friends still takes my breath away a little bit. My semester in Austria was incredibly challenging, but it also inspired me beyond my wildest dreams. And, I met Dave there, which brings me to…
10. While I didn’t know it at the time, it’s where God led me to my husband :)
fus6What did you love about where you went to college?


My Fall Capsule Wardrobe

Friends! Thank you so much for all of your encouragement about my fall capsule wardrobe–I’m super grateful for your comments and advice, and it made me all the more excited to share my experience! If you missed it, you can read about what a capsule wardrobe is, why I’m doing one this fall, and how I brainstormed the pieces to include here. And without further ado, here they are!

fall capsule wardrobe topsfall capsule wardrobe 2
fall capsule wardrobe shoesTops: Drapey white tank (similar) | White lace-edged tank | Gray v-neck | Navy v-neck | Drapey 3/4 sleeve top | Boatneck shirt | Printed silk blouse | Gold dot blouse | Light blue oxford (similar) | White oxford | Navy striped shirt (similar) | Gray striped shirt (similar) | Navy gingham shirt | Pink gingham shirt | Navy tunic | Camel sweater | Chambray shirtBottoms: Skinny jeans | Cropped jeans | Olive pants (similar) | Black pants | Gray skirt (similar) | Navy skirt (similar) | Navy shortsDresses: Printed shirtdress | White dress (similar) | Little black dress (similar) | Outerwear: Field jacket | Classic trench (similar) | Gray cardigan (similar) | Beige cardigan (similar) | Shoes: Black bow flats (similar) | Plaid smoking slippers | Studded blush flats (similar) | Gray smoking slippers | Black ankle-strap heels | Wedge desert boots | White Jack Rogers | Cheetah print flats

I am really happy with the pieces I ended up choosing, and even though there isn’t a ton of variety, I’m hoping it’ll still work well, since the “doubles” (striped shirts, white tanks, etc.) are all current staples in my wardrobe that I have no problem wearing all the time. One of my biggest goals for this challenge is to get creative with accessories and layering, so I think having some similar items will encourage me to do that as well!

As I mentioned in my last post, I ended up purchasing two new things: they were the printed silk blouse and the plaid smoking slippers. I decided to buy both because they’re unique pieces that I think will really make some of my upcoming outfits. My hope is that having just a few new pieces to mix and match will trick me into thinking I have more new things than I actually do–we’ll see how it goes :)

Full disclosure, I do want to note that I’m going into this with a few intentional exceptions: work events where I have to wear a certain thing (like our issue launch party), or dress in a way that’s not quite the same as my normal attire (like at Bridal Market). I’m going to try not to buy anything new for those events, so I don’t want to limit myself to my capsule items in order to be dressed appropriately.

Phew! All that said, I’m starting on Tuesday after Labor Day (gotta squeeze in a few more days decked out in Lilly Pulitzer at the beach ;)) and I’m looking forward to it! I’m still trying to decide how best to share my experience, so y’all let me know if there’s anything in particular you want to see. Yay!

P.S. I made my capsule wardrobe inspiration board on Pinterest public, if you want to take a peek! Making it was very helpful in determining the colors and pieces I wanted to include.

September Goals

Summer has felt nice and slow, but then all of a sudden, it was my sister’s birthday yesterday (happy birthday, Dana!!), and now, it’s September! I’m sad that summer is coming to a close–it’s definitely my favorite–but I’ve realized that I’m really excited to experience a new season with a husband. Summer started pretty much as soon as we got back from our honeymoon, and being married has made these last few months feel even more special. I’ve heard a lot of people say that they feel exactly the same after getting married, but that has not been the case for us at all, and I love it. I got so excited yesterday chatting with Dave about making our favorite chilis and soups, pulling out our coziest blankets, and going for runs in crisp weather, and I can’t wait to see what our first married fall is like!

september goals
August Goals

1. Finish writing wedding thank you notes. Finally!!
2. Train for and run the Run for Life 5K (and hopefully beat my time from last year). YES! I beat my time last year by four minutes and felt great.
3. Host our first guests in our apartment. – Our friends weren’t able to make it, so I’m bumping this goal to September for when Dave’s parents stay with us for a night.
4. Unplug for vacation with Dave’s family in the Adirondacks. Yes, and it was heavenly. Read about it here.

September Goals

1. Host Dave’s parents well in our apartment.
2. Serve my first couple well at their wedding ceremony! I joined the wedding committee at church (the same church where Dave and I were married) and I’m really excited/a little bit nervous to help at my first wedding this month.
3. Successfully complete my first month of my fall capsule wardrobe.
4. Stay under our food budget. Travel/a little bit of laziness led to too much money spent at restaurants in August, and I really want to do better this month.
5. Start a new fall tradition with Dave. (Do you have any favorites we should consider? I’d love to hear!)

10 Things I Learned In My First Year of Running

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve tried to become a runner. There was the time in elementary school when my dad took my sister and I out for jogs in an attempt to improve our mile times in gym class. Then there was the time in high school when I tried out for the cross country team…and had to push myself in order to finish second to last. Maybe it was the engagement ring on my finger, or maybe it was just growing up a little and deciding it was now or never, but around last summer, I decided to do it, once and for all. It’s been just over a year since running has become a consistent part of my life, and while it has been hard, it’s also become one of the things I’m most proud of. I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned this year, and if you’re new to running or discouraged by it, I really hope you find this encouraging! And if you’re an experienced runner, I would LOVE to hear some of the things you’ve learned along the way, too. I have a long way to go!


1. You WILL get better. On that first run, I couldn’t go a mile without stopping to walk. I was convinced that that would never change, but sure enough, it did. I’ve gotten so much stronger and faster over the last year, and I’m really proud of how different I feel when I run now.

2. Tracking your runs is helpful on many levels. I recently started using the Map My Run app, but I also like writing down each run’s mileage in a plain old notebook. It shows my progress, it’s motivating if my mileage is down from the previous month, and it gives me a way to compete with myself a little.

3. The right gear makes a big difference. A month into winter, I was ridiculously bored of running on the treadmill, but I simply had nothing to wear that was appropriate for running outside. A proper jacket, some compression leggings, and a thick headband later, running on cold days quickly became my favorite–plus, it’s fun to look really legit in all that gear :)

4. Running on a treadmill feels different than running on the road. For me personally, I have to raise the incline quite a bit to make similar progress on a treadmill as I do on the road. I used to only run on treadmills because I felt more vulnerable if I was on the road for the world to see, but now, I know I get the most out of my runs outside, and only run on the treadmill in bad weather.

5. In a similar vein, new routes can feel totally different too. The loop Dave and I usually run is somewhat hilly, so we love occasionally driving a little ways to one of the many trails throughout the Triangle. Not only are they a change of scenery, they’re also sometimes easier!

6. If you don’t fuel yourself well, you won’t run well. My worst runs have been 1. when I’m dehydrated, 2. when my stomach is empty, or 3. when my stomach is full. Planning ahead to time my meals/snacks right is essential for me! If I’m going to run after work, I’ll eat a Clif bar about half an hour before I leave the office. If I’m running in the morning or doing a race, I like to have half a banana and a slice of Ezekiel bread toast with peanut butter an hour before I start.

7. Sometimes, it’s the weather’s fault. This is a recent revelation–I feel like it has taken me so much longer to get into a groove post-wedding, but then in New York a few weeks ago, I went for my first really good run in months. The difference? It was 70 degrees and there was no humidity!

8. A running buddy, an awesome playlist, or new workout clothes are some of the best motivations. No explanation needed :)

9. There’s no shame in running and walking. My dad is the best runner I’ve ever known and my biggest inspiration, and ever since he started decades ago, he’s been doing running-walking intervals. In his most recent marathon, he did five minutes running-one minute walking intervals, and finished in the top 10%! #LifeGoals

10. I really enjoy it. Not every minute of every run, but overall, yes, I can honestly say I do like running. That’s something I never thought I would say, and it feels good!