Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Favorite Modest Formal Dresses for $200 Or Less

I just got home from seeing the new Cinderella movie. You could say I'm enchanted.

Enchanted by the adorable mice. Enchanted by Cinderella's undying courage and kindness. And I must admit I'm quite enchanted with all the beautiful dresses (except for the corset part. I rather enjoy being able to convert oxygen to carbon dioxide without experiencing horrific pain).

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Finding modest formals can be quite a challenge (sometimes I feel like I need a fairy godmother), but living our standards is so, so worth it. I love this quote from President Monson:

There's still one problemo though. Have you noticed that modest dresses can be over $500? Ain't no body got time money for that.

Don't you worry girl -- I've got your back. I've been cruising Pinterest and the interwebs in search of formals that will make you the belle of the ball without breaking the bank too badly. (How's that for alliteration? Did you see that, Mr. Grumpy English Teacher?)

Let's get right to it, shall we?

Janalee - Currently $199 
Skylar - Currently $199


Originally over $300, these gorgeous gowns are now on sale for just $199!

Isn't the cut of the Skylar dreamy? I must say that its tulle skirt has me wanting to watch every Audrey Hepburn movie ever made. (My Fair Lady, anyone?)

The color of the purple Janalee is also breathtaking! I love the subtle high-low cut (it lets you show off your shoes!) and the ruffles add just enough glam to bring back those Disney-princess ballgown memories without interfering with the dress' mermaid silhouette.

The Zoey Gown - Currently $145
The Channel Gown - Currently $110  

These dresses from Great Lengths Clothing are definitely stunners, and their prices cannot be beat. I love the flowiness of the pale blue one! It reminds me of Princess Buttercup from The Princess Bride. Aren't the bold colors of the Zoey gowns fabulous, too? That coral shade is so elegant (and pleated skirts are all the rage this year).

P807 - Currently $199
BR1146 - Currently $189
First off, with its gathered neck line and belted waistline, the flaming red BR1146 embodies sophistication without being too plain.

The ruched waist and delicate beading on P807 also has me swooning. I think it calls for a close-up.

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I'm loving all the gathers in the skirt, too! This dress also comes in two other colors that aren't pictured -- coral and olive green.

Alex Evenings Printed Cap Sleeve
Gown - Currently $156.75
Alex Evenings Sequined Lace Gown
Currently $169
Jkara Tie-Side Wrap Dress
Currently $103.25
Jessica Howard Floral Embellished
Lace-Bodice Gown Currently $160


Dillard's absolutely killed it in the prom department this year, and their prices are fantastic! Aren't those black and white's classy and chic? And I can't get over the elegance of the pastels, lace, and bows! 

Breathtaking Belle Dress in Ivory - Currently $119.99
Lasting Laurels Dress - Currently $46.99


ModCloth is my go-to source for vintage looking styles. Who says formals have to be long? I think that shorter dress would be perfect for almost any dance. Planning on attending a 1920's themed event? That sleek black dress is very Downton Abbey/Great Gatsby-esque, don't you think?

Nutcracker Dress Blue - Currently $106
Alice Dress Black - Currently $95


While we're on the topic of vintage-inspired fashion, let's talk about Shabby Apple for a second. In addition to their amazing selection of more casual Sunday dresses, they also carry dressy formals like the two cute choices above. How great are those 3/4 length sleeves on the Nutcracker Dress? And the lace scallops on the hem of the Alice are perfection.

     Nightmoves Ruffled Prom Gown - Currently $200                                      Mystique - Currently $200
Bonny Ruffled Neckline Modest Gown - Currently $120


I can't get over the amazing deals Raffinata has available! Right now these three beauties are $75-$150 off! They have lots more on their website, too . . . I just couldn't fit them all here. Isn't that bold purple strinking? I love the jeweled accent! The soft pink ruffles of the Mystique are so delicate and I absolutely love the collar on the Bonny!

Rose Modest Prom Dress - Currently $125
Katniss Red Modest Prom Dress - Currently $185
Bailey Sequin Modest Prom Dress - Currently $130
Alicia Sequin & Chiffon Modest Prom Dress - Currently $175

8. Virtuous Prom

If you're a little nervous about finding a good fit without trying your dress on before hand, this is the site for you. All dresses are custom made to your measurements! When I saw that, I figured their prices would be through the roof, but Virtuous Prom is surprisingly affordable. Another thing I'm loving is that you can choose your own color! (Hello sage green dress of my dreams that I can't find anywhere!)

And of course, don't be afraid to check Craigslist and thrift stores or see if someone has a dress you can borrow. Might as well let those elegant gowns be shown off more than once, right? (Plus, less money spent on a dress means more money to spend at Ben & Jerry's.)

Where's your favorite place to find modest formals?

Happy Shopping!

*Note: This post was not sponsored, nor am I being compensated for affiliate links of any sort. I'm just a girl who enjoys online window shopping and helping out her fellow sisters. :)

Saturday, March 28, 2015

General Women's Session Re-Cap, Spring 2015

Did you get to see the General Women's Session of General Conference tonight? It was awesome! The flowers were gorgeous, the music was spectacular, the videos were touching, and the talks were ah. maz. ing. (If you weren't able to catch it, you can watch it for free, here.)

The messages about family, standing up for our beliefs, finding personal revelation, and being compassionate were so timely. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

Full re-caps of all four talks are available on the Deseret New's website as well.

Can you believe General Conference is next weekend? I'd better go find my sticky bun recipe. (Or maybe I shouldn't . . . I'm not sure I could resist making them right now. <drools>)

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

5 Study Tips for That Class That Has You Crying

Do you remember seeing your class schedule for the first time at the start of the semester? My thoughts on my first day of Junior year went something like this:

First hour . . . Math. Ewww

Second hour . . . English. Not too bad.

Third hour . . . Seminary. <Commences happy dance.>

Fourth hour . . . College Prep Chemistry. Shut the front door! I know nothing of Chemistry and lack the prerequisite courses for this class! <Looks for cave to hide in, trembles in fear, and frantically runs to counselor's office to beg for a schedule change>.

As it turns out, my schedule could not be changed and I remained in the course for the entire school year. Guess what? I'm not even mad. Was the class easy? Goodness, no. But was it worth it? Absolutely. In fact, I've found my new love! I'm looking forward to going all the way to Chem 5 in my upcoming Neuroscience studies.

Even though I was absolutely terrified of CP Chem, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity it provided for me to challenge my mind and learn things I never imagined I could comprehend. While there were happy times (blowing things up and freezing s'mores with liquid nitrogen after the final, for example) there were also many nights that I spent staring at the ceiling and resisting the urge to punch my text book while crying over homework and praying that somehow osmosis would transfer much needed knowledge to my tired mind.

During this class and many others that have been hard for me <cough, cough . . .  Spanish, College English, Geometry, and Physics . . . clears throat> I have learned a few things that help me get through those frustrating assignments and actually enjoy (and get good grades in) courses that once had me wanting to rip out my hair. With that, I present:

But before we get to that, why even bother with classes that are hard? Can't we just stay in Kindergarten forever? (Come on, you know snack time was cool.)

Here's what President Monson has to say:
Isn't that amazing? With God's help you can do anything . . . but I'm getting ahead of myself. On with the study tips!

1. Believe in Yourself

You CAN do this.

You are a Child of God. He is the master mathematician, He speaks every language, He knows the entire course of world history, He's the ultimate scientist, and the list of his strengths could go on and on. As His child, you have inherited divine qualities from Him, including the ability to learn. Whatever the subject may be, remember what President Monson said and "don't take counsel from your fears". Have faith in your abilities and God's power and willingness to magnify them.

2. Seek Help (On Earth & In Heaven)

Let's face it: no matter how cool we think we are, no person is an expert on everything. You don't have to be either. (Even Einstein struggled with non-science subjects like language and history).

Don't be afraid to ask for help. Generally, your teachers teach because they are passionate about their course material and love helping students just like you. They also want you to pass their class. Contrary to popular belief, teachers don't sit at home hoping students perform poorly so they can use their favorite red pen and laugh evilly while entering F's into the grade book. (And trust me, I know. I live with a teacher. Hi, Mom!)

As cool as teachers are, they can't read your mind. Speak with them at lunch, during their prep/office hour, or after school and let them know you're struggling. (You can also shoot them an email if you're shy like me.) Ask questions, request additional material, or have them go through a homework problem with you -- just talk to them.

Another resource that helped me tremendously was finding some study buddies. Lots of people think study groups have to take a lot of time and commitment, but they can also be low-key. After a few weeks, I made some friends in the class and we added each other on Facebook and exchanged phone numbers. It was so awesome to know that help was just a quick text or instant message away. Plus, we kept each other motivated and accountable during tough assignments. Ask around. Chances are other kids are feeling the same was as you and would be happy to have someone to work with. (If nothing else, you can wallow in your misery and eat ice cream together.)

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In addition to teachers and friends, there's also another place you can turn for help and comfort: Heaven.

God cares about every aspect of our lives, not just the obvious church stuff. Don't believe me? Listen to Alma:

Notice that scripture didn't just mention praying for resistance to temptation and strength to be righteous. It also talked about praying for prosperity in temporal endeavors. Yes, I know most teens don't have flocks and herds today, but just as Heavenly Father cared for the success of the Nephites' pursuits, he cares for your success in school.

One of my favorite scriptures is 3 Nephi 32:9. It reads:

I have found that when I pray before I study for a class, I am able to understand concepts more quickly and fully. By inviting the Holy Ghost to help me, I am able to remember things I would have otherwise forgotten and even stay more focussed.

Remember that through the Savior's Grace, all of our weaknesses (even the comprehnsion Algebra and quantum physics) can be made strong (see Ether 12:27); but in order for that to work, we have to do our part, bringing us to #3.

3. Study All Year (Not Just During Finals Week)

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I'm ashamed to admit that I am one of those kids who has a history of waiting to study until the day before exams. (I should have listened to Gandalf.) This hobbit . . .  err habit is undesirable for a number of reasons:

1. Cramming is no fun. I can think of 3928 other ways I'd rather spend an evening that don't involve tears or thoughts of burning homework assignments.

2. Long term memories take time to solidify. Yes, you might be able to recall the information you desperately jammed into your head for a day or two, but you'll most likely forget it by the end of the week. Trust me when I say that you might think you'll never need that formula again, but courses build on each other and chances are next year you'll be wishing you had studied harder.

Do your future self a favor and learn not just regurgitate. Review your notes as often as possible. (I like to look over mine during those awkward five minute breaks between classes and after I finish my work). Re-read the text book, find YouTube videos related to the subject (just don't get side tracked by those cute kitties), or try making flashcards with paper or a cell phone app. Whatever method works for you, just remember that the key is to start studying long before the test date draws near.

4. Take a Break

It seems crazy, but sometimes the best thing you can do for your GPA (and your sanity) is rest. Studies show that taking brief breaks during study sessions actually help you stay sharp and focussed (see here and here). If you're feeling burnt out, try going for a quick run, getting a drink of water, watching an episode of your favorite show, or even taking a 15 minute cat nap. (You could even log onto Pinterest for a few minutes. I won't tell). ;)

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure this would help me out.
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5. Never Give Up

Sometimes, despite our greatest efforts, things don't go according to plan. I was heartbroken when I got a 51% on one of my first Chem exams with no re-dos allowed. My teacher encouraged me to keep trying, and by the end of the year I not only passed the class, but did so with the highest final test grade in my class period! Mind you, I'm not saying this will happen every time. There have been plenty of instances where I've accepted a C or a D proudly because I knew I had done my best. And that's okay. Just keep trying.

Remember how we talked about Einstein a few paragraphs ago? Guess what? He actually failed some of his classes and was denied admission to his dream high school (at that time you had to apply for secondary school kind of like we do for college). He didn't let his perceived failure get to his head. He kept persevering, was later admitted into the Federal Polytechnic School, and began to excel. Where would our understanding of physics, mathematics, and the universe be if young Albert had simply given up? (For more on Einstein's school experiences, see this article.)

It might take another study session or even another semester in the class, but don't stop just because there are a few bumps in the road.

You are smart.

You are capable.

You CAN pass that class.

And who knows? By the end of the year you might just love that course that had you crying. (If nothing else, you'll definitely have tears of joy that it's through, and I'm totally ok with those kind of tears.)

Happy Studying!

P.S. For tip #2, I borrowed some scriptures from a previous post I wrote about Finals Week. If you want to read more from me on this subject, check it out, here.

For more study helps, you can also read this article from the College of DuPage and this one from Standford University.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Music Monday: Favorite 5

Holy scheduling issues, Batman.

As I mentioned at the end of this post, I had marvelous bloggy plans for these last two weeks. Yes, ma'am, I sure did. Then, life happened. Read: My English teacher decided it would be fun to assign a lot of essays in a very short amount of time.

I am now very pleased to report that the whirlwind is over, and I am back. Hallelujah for spring break and the ending of midterms! (And also for ice cream grocery store runs, while we're on the subject of awesome happenings).

One thing I love about music is that no matter how crazy life gets, it can still be incorporated into even the busiest of schedules (even if all I can manage is a mini jam session during the car ride to school or a five minute longer-than-it-should-have-been YouTube break). 

With that in mind, here are 5 songs that I'm loving right now. Mind you, some of them aren't exactly hot off the press . . . err recording studio, but sometimes the oldies are the besties, right?

1. Heartbeat Song covered by Tiffany Alvord and Tanner Patrick

Since I wrote this post, it should be no secret that I'm a great admirer of Tiffany's work, and this new release is no exception. I love the acoustic vibe! (And the clean edits are great!) Also, can we just talk for a second about the cabin-esque room the music video is filmed in? It makes me want to camping so badly! Summer, please come (but not too quickly because I'm not ready for finals yet :P).

2. The Heart of Dixie by Danielle Bradbery 

I love the message of strength this song presents. No matter how hard life gets, we can always find hope and healing. And Danielle's voice is totally amazing. Also, butterflies. 

3. California by Mindy Gledhill

I have loved this song for a long time, but I recently found this live version and I am blown away! Mindy's recorded music is amazing, but I never realized how fabulous it was unedited, too! I think it's so fun to hear the authentic sound of artists without all the electronic photoshop-for-sound stuff (obviously I'm super knowledgable about the technical names for sound editing). Plus, this song makes me want to pack my bags and travel the world. A girl can dream, right?

4. Irreplaceable by Madilyn Paige

I don't follow The Voice super closely, but I'm all for cheering on another LDS girl. I really admire Madilyn's commitment to her standards and the message of this song is so beautiful.

5. 1989 Medley by the Gardiner Sisters

You knew some Taylor was coming, didn't you. #sorrynotsorry

I love this mash-up! Style has been stuck in my head all week, and I have to say it fits in great with All you Had To Do Was Stay and Out of the Woods. And the harmonies? Brilliant.

What songs have you been loving lately?

Blog to you soon,

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sweet Finds: Celestial Shine Magazine Review

I am a magazine junkie. Most 8-year olds have their bed covered in stuffed animals and baby dolls, right? Not this child. I read magazines from cover to cover and displayed them proudly throughout my messy room (you could say organization wasn't one of my strong suits).

I remember flipping through the glossy pages of Country Woman, National Geographic, and Family Fun from the time I could barely read. Something about the catchy titles, diverse fonts, and variety of graphics absolutely thrilled me. As I got older, I started enjoying some fashion oriented magazines as well. At least, I wanted to.

While many magazines aimed towards teens have great hair, makeup, and fashion ideas, they also tend to contain a slew of inappropriate content, sleezy photos, and objectifying material. (I just want a tutorial on applying blush, not articles that make my blush! You get my drift?) 

It turns out that Emily Punjack, a Mother, returned missionary, and BYU grad, shares many of the same frustrations I have with today's teenage media. So guess what she did? She created a magazine just for LDS Young Women called Celestial Shine.

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According to its website, the mission of the magazine is to ". . . encourage Young Women to be in the world but not of the world, to strengthen their testimonies in the Savior Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to provide fashion, beauty, makeup, and dating advice that is modest and aligns with the standards of the Church, and to remind all Young Women that they are daughters of God."

I'm happy to report that Celestial Shine lives true to that motto. Emily was kind enough to let me preview the magazine so I could share it with all of you, and I am absolutely blown away (in a good way, not as in a Carrie-Underwood's-song-about-tornados kind of way. Then I would be squished under a house and couldn't read the magazine anymore. That would be sad).

The magazine is available in both print and digital versions. This month, I got the digital version (which will help me avoid the bed-covered-in magazines situation of yesteryear). :P Here's a shot of what the online reader looks like:

This month's issue was all about Prom! It had tons of beautiful hair tutorials, a great collection of tips for finding a modest dress without breaking the bank, several amazing articles about living virtuously, and even an entire page of hilarious Mormon-inspired pick-up lines!

While the magazine is a very generous length (this month's was 87 pages), I loved it so much that I didn't want it to end!

One of my favorite things about Celestial Shine is that in addition to girly outside things like mascara and fishtail braids, it focuses on true, inner beauty by helping youth come unto Christ and learn of their amazing worth and potential. Says Sister Punjack:

"I love working with the Young Women and seeing their faces shine in the photo shoots, reading the amazing articles that they write, and seeing all of the talent that they possess such as drawing, painting, dancing, etc. We are all daughters of our Heavenly Father, and we are each so unique and beautiful. I want all of the girls to KNOW that without a doubt when they read this magazine!"

That message comes through loud and clear through every word of Celestial Shine. Did you every watch Reading Rainbow as a kid? Remember when the host, LaVar Burton used to say, ". . . but you don't have to take my word for it . . ."? I'm saying that to you right now!

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You can find out how amazing Celestial Shine is for yourself! Three digital issues from 2014 are available for you to read right, here. Just click that little blue/green link and you're golden. (Just don't blame me when you accidentally stay up until 2 a.m. reading them because they're so amazing. . . not that I have experience with that or anything . . .)

Also, if you want to subscribe (and you totally will), they are having an amazing Eater sale! Here are the deets from their Facebook page:
Because we love you so much, we're giving you an early Easter present...50% off a 1 year or a 6 month subscription to‪#‎CelestialShineMagazine‬ for the first 200 new subscribers... because we want everyone who wants a subscription to be able to get one! You don't even need a promo code! Just visit cshinemagazine.com/subscribe to order! That means you can get a 6 month subscription for only $10 or a 1 year subscription (10 issues) for only $18... that's like $1.80 per issue! 
So make like the Easter Bunny and hop on over to their website to add some wholesome entertainment and inspiration into your life!

Shine on, my friends.

Note: This post was sponsored by Celestial Shine, but all opinions (and lame puns) are my own.

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