It is that time of year again, folks. Hot chocolate, snow, the scent of evergreen. I am SO EXCITED y’all you have no idea. Christmas is my favorite time of year, without a doubt. There’s something about being with your family, fireplaces and cozy blankets, and the feeling that for a few weeks, the whole world is at peace (even though I know that isn’t always the case).
Unfortunately, as a college student, there are some drawbacks when it comes to getting ready for Christmas. Mainly, I won’t be done with exams until December 15th. That means that there are roughly 22 days of Christmas decorating, activities, and fun that UNC students at least can’t fully partake in.
Here’s my guide for being as Christmas-y as possible while you’re stuck at school (featuring the dorm room of Yours Truly).
Mini Christmas trees are perhaps the best way to bring festivity into your living space. Mine has tiny ornaments, and golden star tinsel!
I’m a sucker for good wall art, and I actually made this one for my sister! It’s based on a video from my favorite YouTuber, Bethany Mota, and all I did was use Reindeer head outlines to guide where the gold paint went, and used red and burgundy nail polish for the noses. I’m obsessed with it.
(Here's a link to Bethany's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGVlvWgDPbk)
I think decorating is all in the details, so I have a few trinkets that I place around my room. I've got a green and red plaid blanket and a Christmas throw pillow for my bed, and a picture frame and little stocking to help fill the room with all-around ~merriment~
I love baking cookies, my favorite of which are sugar cookies with a Chai tea packet emptied into the dough. It adds a nice flavor, without being too overwhelming. Hot tea, hot chocolate, and reading always feel so cozy and lovely to me.
I'm a crafty person, and it's great because not only is it therapeutic, but you get a cool product out of it! Every year, I make at least one present for everyone in my immediate family. I love how personal it is.
A plethora of Christmas movies awaits you on Netflix and even your local library. I’ve always loved 'White Christmas', 'Eloise at Christmastime', and 'Elf'. You can also see if there are any Christmas events on campus, or if there's somewhere nearby to go ice skating!
I hope this helped you get into a holiday mood! Merry Christmas!
Last month, I travelled to New York City, and while this was my fourth trip, it was wildly different than any I had taken before.
This trip was with my Media and Journalism Experiential Marketing class, where I’ve been learning about the new wave of advertising that gives customers an experience instead of just a photo of a celebrity with a product. We’ve been discussing what makes someone want to buy a plain white tee for hundreds of dollars just to have the brand name, and what experiences make a customer fall in love with a brand.
We flew out of RDU on Thursday to land in LaGuardia and make our way to our hotel. We stayed in a fashion-themed hotel called the Gregory on 35th street! From there, we set out for Chelsea Market, and it was actually both sunnier and hotter in New York than it was in North Carolina that week. By the time we reached the market, all of us had shed our jackets.
Chelsea Market was filled with some wonderful surprises, from natural beauty products and pop art, to some cute mini donuts and a yummy apple and brie crêpe. Halloween décor was in full swing, with gory dummies and fake spider webs hanging everywhere.
When we headed back to our hotel, we took the High Line, which used to be old railroad tracks, but is now overgrown with wildflowers and other plants. The rest of our night consisted of a networking event with UNC alumni living in the city and a dinner. That night, and early into the next morning, I walked around Times Square with some friends and popped in the Disney store and Forever 21.
Friday began with a trip to ABC Carpet and Home to get an idea of the kinds of décor and store windows we liked, which will play into our project for the second half of the semester. We then drove to the MOMA for their ‘Is Fashion Modern’ exhibit; This showed different clothing and accessories and had histories, evolution, and design information on past and futuristic pieces.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was our visit to Spring Studios, a company that runs campaigns and creates advertisements for dozens of different brands, from Marc Jacobs to Michael Kors. My friend Alexandra interned there this past summer, and worked on a whole campaign! We talked with the Creative Executive and watched campaigns, discussed aspects of advertising, and walked around the beautiful rooftop.
We toured an old hotel that had this Edgar Allen Poe vibe, and the best Shirley Temple I’ve ever had, before finishing off Friday with another dinner and a comedy show!
On Saturday morning, we headed to the Cartier mansion on Fifth Avenue, which is a museum-like exhibit featuring old, famous pieces from the Cartier jewelry collection. The mansion used to be owned by the Vanderbilt family, but they sold it to Pierre Cartier for $100 and a pearl necklace! (Both of these would have different value at the time, but still.)
There were necklaces worn by Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly, and they even had jewelers on site making the pieces in front of us! From the building’s lush red velvet, jaguar motifs, and Hollywood royalty, we definitely took away a lot of ideas that will help our project.
We glimpsed some more window displays for further inspiration on our way to Bergdorf Goodman’s. Let me tell you, I understand how Blair Waldorf spends all day inside there. We actually got lost for a few minutes. My roommate for the weekend, Brooke, our friend Chrissy and I took pictures with the dresses we loved but couldn’t buy, and this earned us a serious stink-eye from an employee.
I finished my New York trip with the Cooper Hewitt design museum, a walk through Central Park, and hopping on the subway to go back to the hotel. We ended up getting to the airport about 20 minutes before our plane started boarding, but thankfully the security line was very short, and we made it back to UNC with no problems.
This whole experience really got me thinking. I have always had this deep-set belief that I have the ability to do something great with my life. I want to work in this huge industry (fashion), and my greatest dream is to become a published author.
But this trip, and seeing how many people’s lives revolve around nothing but fashion, kind of broke my heart. I asked myself, if none of what I want for my life happens, will I be ok with it? If I never make it out of North Carolina, if I never end up making all that money to pay off student loans and redo our family’s kitchen, if I never even publish one book, will I be okay? I think the answer is yes.
There is so much more to life than clothing, and models, and whose name is on which issue of Vogue. There is so much more meaning in life than having meltdowns over the fact that Condé Nast no longer has an internship program (apparently, this was a real thing).
There is a God who is the ultimate provider, joy-giver, and sustainer, and He is passionately fighting for you. Even when life sucks and hands you a situation you don’t think you would ever be able to handle, which has been me and my closest friends’ lives over the past few weeks, God is the peace, reassurance, and calm that you need.
It doesn’t mean that you will never have another struggle. It doesn’t mean that this awful time is God’s fault. All it means is that He is there, and He is faithful. And no matter how your life turns out, you can know that it will be okay.
When I was little, my favorite activity was time travel. I always longed to be transported by books and movies, to lose touch with reality for just long enough. All the way up through high school, when I needed an escape, all I had to do was crack the cover of a beloved novel and jump into another world.
If you have known me for more than a week, you’ll know that my favorite series of all time is C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. Leaving a world that didn’t satisfy for another one of wonder, beauty, and a Savior spoke to me in ways I didn’t even understand as a six-year-old.
My family moved from Raleigh, North Carolina to the Outer Banks when I was in sixth grade, and my sister and I were homeschooled until my sophomore year of high school. I didn’t really have many friends except for a few girls at church. Even entering my public school in 2013, I knew next to no one, and joined extracurricular theatre for a creative outlet and to make new friends.
Over the course of the next few years, I still seemed unable to shake the status of the new girl. I was left out, uninvited to Friendsgivings and New Year’s parties, and one night I remember crying myself to sleep because I felt so alone, which completely contrasts my usual, optimistic, joyful self.
Senior year, I was working on a Creative Writing project one night in my room, listening to a Bethany Dillon CD, when the last line of a song caught my attention. This line, “I’ve always known this wasn’t home”, was repeated over and over, and it didn’t take long for me to break down.
I realized that the reason I felt so alone, the ache I felt in my soul that this world at every turn is leaving me dissatisfied, is because I, as well as the rest of humanity, was created for another world. We were designed to spend eternity in Heaven with The Lord, and because of the fall, humanity separated itself from His Will. But the story doesn’t end there.
God loved us so much that He acted on our behalf to fix our mistake; He sent Jesus to leave the perfection of Heaven to come down to our broken earth to save us. He sacrificed everything so that when we stand before God one day, if we believe that Jesus covered our sin completely and took all our blame in exchange for His righteousness, all will be set right again and we’ll spend eternity with Our Father.
If you run towards Him, you do not have to ever worry about rejection. He’s been chasing after you your whole life, and His greatest desire is that you would stop running, turn around, and take His hand. He doesn’t pick and choose based on background, social hierarchies, or mistakes. Our culture has become one that thinks God is like Christians, who, because of our human nature, can be petty, rude, and holier than thou. We as a Church should be striving wholeheartedly to make sure we are living like Christ by loving everyone, in every way we can.
Narnia was the story that touched my life, the story that still gives me a greater understanding of salvation and the beautiful ideas that surround it. I write so that my stories may be that for another child. I dream that I can publish a series that impacts a new generation, and even if it is only loved by one little girl, who relates to a protagonist struggling to find her identity and her home, and that little girl comes to know Jesus, the past five years of writing and editing (as well as how many more are left) will be worth it.
“Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek...And since then, O Kings and Ladies, I have been wandering to find [Aslan] and my happiness is so great that it even weakens me like a wound. And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me Beloved, me who am but as a dog.” – Emeth, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle
I am a September baby, which may be the root of my love for fall. I love dark chocolate, popcorn, and I do actually like brussel sprouts. I'm the kind of person that listens to a Christmas song in September. (But only one. I don't want to ruin the ~magic~).