The only way to describe 2017 for me would be fast. I feel like everything in my life both personally and professionally just moved so freaking fast I blinked and the year was over. This time last year is when I started blogging and I am super excited to take The Louisville Belle to the next level in 2018. Many of you know I just graduated from college a few weeks and #adulting has hit me HARD! Insurance, taxes, and personal budgets are things I definitely was not taught in college but hey, fake it till you make it, right?
As a gradation gift, one of my best friends, Jenna, got me a sign that says “find joy in the journey” and I think that is going to be my motto for 2018. I LOVE quotes, my entire room and now office is starting to get filled with quote canvases and little messages as daily reminders to myself. I even change up my phone screen sometimes with a motivational quote at the beginning of the week if I need a little extra push.
Often times in life, we get so caught up in going from point A to point B, we forget the why behind it. The start of a new year means a completely fresh start. If you haven’t made your “new years resolutions” yet, don’t worry you still have time! Even though this is the start of a new year, each week or even day can be a fresh start if you want! If something isn’t making you happy in life, cut it out! You don’t have to wait until January 1st of 2019 to start over again!
As I enter one of the most transitional times of my life, I want to take time to enjoy the journey! Cheers to 2018, to finding joy in the little things in life, and to stopping and smelling the rosés, or better yet, drinking them!
21 Things I’ve Learned In 21 Years
Well, we are officially one week into October, which means my birthday month is officially over! I love birthdays and this one was a special celebration for me, naturally, I turned 21! Over the past twenty-one years, I have learned a lot about myself that made me stop and reflect. Below are 21 things I’ve learned:
- Surround yourself with people who will lift you higher and tell the haters to “Go on and get” as one of my friend’s dads likes to say! Be yourself. Fearlessly!
- Call your grandparents and ask them about their day. You’ll never regret it.
- Don’t take your friends for granted, let them know they are appreciated.
- Always send thank you notes.
- Spend your money when you have it. You can’t take it with you, so enjoy life and spend money on things that contribute to your happiness.
- Experiment with your hair. If you hate it, it will grow back. Trust me!
- Embrace Change. This can be a hard one for me. Change, even if it is unexpected and not what you wanted, usually works out in the end.
- Buy the shoes. Always. I’ll say no more.
- Find a creative outlet. This is different for everyone, but having the opportunity to express yourself, in an alternative way, promotes inner growth. My blog has made all of the difference in my life.
- Make time for yourself.
- Throw the to-do-list away for a day and be spontaneous once in a while!
- See a movie with your parents.
- Remember that it’s okay to cry.
- Take road tips with your friends. The best memories are made on the road.
- Wear your retainers (I’m learning the hard way!)
- You don’t have to have everything figured out at any point in time. It’s okay to hate where your life is going, but like I said above in 7, things usually work out in the end. Just hold on.
- Take risks. Do something that scares you.
- Remember that no everyone walks the same path.
- Be grateful. It expands our hearts to love.
- Have 30 second dance parties when you’re stressed out. Even if you have absolutely no rhythm at all, it helps!
- Have fun. If something isn’t making you happy, cut it out of your life.
I can’t wait to see how this list changes and develops over the next 21 years of my life! Cheers and happy Saturday!!
Stop and Smell The Roses
Have you ever had a moment in the middle of the day or first thing in the morning where you wanted to press a “restart” button for a do-over? Or maybe even a “pause” button so you could figure out what to do? Have you ever felt the need to stop in the middle of the crazy hectic thing we call life to appreciate the world around you? I will be the first to admit that I am horrible at this. I am always running from point A to point B, going to meetings, replying to emails, trying to plan and set everything up perfectly.
This blog post is a note to self and to anyone who feels like they need to slow down, decompresses, and just stop to take life in.
- De-clutter your life from things that aren’t important.
- Creatively express yourself in a way that complements your attributes! (I started blogging as away to express myself in a positive way when I was going through a hard time in my life. It is amazing how channeling your negative energy into something positive can truly make you smile.)
- Stop judging. Easier said than done, but the moment you drop that judgment wall with yourself and those in your life you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders.
- Laughter is the best medicine.Don’t take life too seriously. Give yourself permission to laugh and smile.
- Set realistic fitness goals and stick to them. As Elle Woods said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.”
- Have a close friend or two where you can share your joys and sorrows. Quality over quantity is definitely something I have learned over the years when it comes to friendships.
And last but not least,
- Stop and smell the roses. The old saying that helps put life in perspective. Stop, take a minute to enjoy the little things that God created. It helps order life.
Photographer: R. Marie Photography
Summer 2017 Playlist
Today is the first day of summer and no summer is complete without road trips, pool time, and family vacations. When I’m thinking about past summers or upcoming travel, I know I have to associate those memories with a “summer song” or a “summer playlist”.
When I was younger, I use to burn CDs and give them to my friends when they first started driving. Now instead of giving out CDs, I make a Spotify playlists. (And really, if I started burning CD’s would people even know what to do with them?!) This summer I have 17 of my favorite summer 2017 jams that I am sharing with my friends.
I recently joined Spotify a few months ago and it has seriously been life changing when it comes to music streaming. They have great deals for students and family plans that are totally affordable. Right now Spotify is offering 3 months of Premium membership for only $0.99 a month. Yep! 99¢! With Spotify Premium, you can download songs and full playlist right to your device, skip songs you don’t like, and you don’t have to deal with those annoying advertisements.
As the saying goes, “You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching, love like you’ll never be hurt, sing like there’s nobody listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” Because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good sing along playlist full of summer memories with your besties!
Click HERE to listen to my summer playlist now!
My Sorority Experience
What are your thoughts about the Greek Life? I know, there are tons of movies, news articles, and press about fraternities and sororities, but what do you think about them? If you are thinking about going through sorority recruitment, if you think you know everything there is to know about sororities or if you hate everything about sororities this blog post is for all of you!
These questions and feelings are not unfamiliar for me. I, too, have been there. I have asked myself a hundred times, “What in the world have I gotten myself into with these late night functions and fundraisers?” If you are a skeptic like I was, let me be the first to tell you that sororities are so much more than glitter and big houses. Sororities are filled with women who will pick you up after a heart break and drive you to get cheeseburgers at 2AM. They are the women that will stand next to you on your wedding day.
A few of my friends in high school talked about sorority recruitment and how excited they were to “rush.” I knew nothing about sororities, sorority recruitment, or Greek life in general, but decided to give it a shot. Just like some of you reading this post, it was truly an overwhelming feeling. The idea of walking from house to house while a bunch of girls sing and chant songs on a hot August days was extremely uncomfortable.
You know what? None of that stuff matters. The songs, the houses, the outfits, the hair, none of it matters. What matters are the connections you make inside those very houses. Never in a million years did I think I would fit “the mold” of a sorority girl. Now, I’m the President of Delta Zeta at the University of Louisville and will be living with 15 other girls in a huge pink house in next August.
Joining Delta Zeta or any sorority is joining something so much bigger than yourself. Yes, there are a lot of requirements such as service hours and GPA minimums that have to be met but all of these “requirements” will only push you to your full potential. Over your college years, you will get “little sisters” and organize events, and raise money for great causes and most importantly, learn so much about yourself.
Sure you might join for the social aspect and to make friends, which is perfectly okay. But, I have learned over the last few years, the reason I stayed in my sorority is for a total different reason. Delta Zeta has given me a sisterhood that I never thought possible. I am forever indebted to this organization that has made me a stronger person, better leader, and has changed my college experience for the better! The best is yet to come, just wait.
Registration is now open if you are interested in signing up for sorority recruitment at the University of Louisville! Click here to sign up now: http://bit.ly/2poE2qZ !
Photos: R. Marie Photography
Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and no matter if you’re madly in love, single as a Pringle, or somewhere in between, it’s a day to express love and kindness. I know some people absolutely hate the idea of Valentine’s Day, but it doesn’t have to be seen as a daunting day. This day can be used for so many good reasons and they don’t have to be romantic! Reach out to an old friend, make a new friend, or simply gift yourself with something! No, I don’t mean send yourself flowers at work and pretend they’re from someone else, but treat yourself to something special that day, because after all, you deserve it!!
Whether you’re spending the evening with the love of your life, best friends, or family, Valentine’s Day is happening so we might as well make the most of it right? I have put together a little gift guide of things to give to all of the people you love in your life, not just your significant other because truly everyone deserves to be celebrated.
MOMS: My mom is my biggest cheerleader and my constant motivator. She is great at gift giving too, which makes it hard for me sometimes to surprise her. Every year on Valentine’s Day she gets me something small that is red or pink and this whole gift giving post came from her creative and fun gifts. Small and simple gifts to show your mom you appreciate her would be: festive Valentine’s Day décor such as the heart pillow, “a thankful heart” sign or heart candles pictured below. Every time your mom looks at the décor, she will be reminded of your love.
DADS: Dad’s are the tricky ones. The most important gift to give your dad on Valentine’s Day is quality time. Let him know you want to take him to lunch soon or write him a heart felt card that lets him know how much you love him. Or maybe you haven’t talked to your dad in a few weeks, or months, or maybe even years, use this day to reach out to him. A simple “ I am thinking about you” call or text can go miles with dads, trust me.
Another great physical gift for dads could be a year subscription to Spotify. Spotify is a service that allows users to stream music, podcasts, and even videos straight to any device. You can view playlists of people you follow and create your own personalized playlists as well. For your dad, or any music lover in your life, Spotify is the gift of the year!
BROTHERS AND SISTERS: Most people don’t think about showing their siblings some extra love on Valentine’s Day, but you can! A quick and easy gift to get your brother or sister is a Yeti cup or Corkcicle bottle. The Yeti cups are manlier and the Corkcicle’s come in a variety of colors. Both brands are great for keeping drinks cold or hot for long periods of time and both come in a variety of styles and sizes. To purchase a Yeti, click here: http://bit.ly/2l1Pn1L and to purchase a Corkcicle, click here: http://bit.ly/1vhVKMy!
BEST GIRL FRIEND: A simple gift to give your best girl friend on Valentine’s Day is fun earrings that are red or pink or really any fun jewelry. The ones pictures below are from a local boutique but to purchase similar tassel earrings, chick here: http://bit.ly/2kbF8sy or http://bit.ly/2kbGB2b.
BEST GUY FRIEND: Chocolates. Unless he is allergic, or from Mars, chocolate is the way to go! Even a small bag of Dove chocolates with a card can show the guy friend in your life that you care about him without sending any mixed signals.
BOYFRIEND: A creative gift to get your man this year for Valentine’s Day is a nice piece of clothing or accessory he can wear to a special occasion coming up. This can be a small as the festive red tie pictured below or as extravagant as a new watch.
GIRLFRIEND: Flowers, flowers, and flowers. Even if she says she doesn’t want anything at all, buying her a bouquet of her favorite flower will go miles and she will love it! I know red roses are traditional, but think outside the box this year and try to figure out what flower she loves the most! (Major Hint: Check her Pinterest page!)
ON A BUDGET: You’re on a budget and can’t afford Valentine’s gifts for everyone that you want to show love, too? Like I mentioned before, gifts don’t have to be extravagant! It’s about showing love and kindness. If you’ve got someone special, but don’t want to break the bank, check out my friends on Instagram @howwewalmart. They have found some super cute affordable gifts for everyone in your life.
R. Marie Photography
Roommate Tips and My Great Roomies
When I first started college, I lived with my high school best friend. We lived in a dorm together our freshman year and then in an apartment together our sophomore year. She is 100% my person and a treasure in my life, so living with her was easy and drama free! As junior year approached, she wanted to live in a four-bed room apartment to make her rent cheaper. I decided to stay in our original apartment, which meant I was going to need a new roommate, ASAP. I was so nervous about living with someone other than Jenna, my high school best friend, because sometimes change is hard for me (& everyone if we are being honest). This situation confirmed my belief that God truly works in crazy ways and He knows what and who we need in our lives…far sooner than we ever do. This year, God put Katie, my new roommate into my life and I cannot thank Him enough for that. Katie is one of my sorority sisters that I have gotten to know solely through the opportunity and blessing of living together. She comes from a huge family (one of eight kids) and has lived with all different kinds of people and personalities before. She has been one of my greatest gifts this past year, and living with her has also been a breeze. We do have our differences at times, but that’s just part of life! Ultimately, not everyone is going to have perfect roommates likes I have, so I compiled a list of ten helpful roommate tips everyone should follow in order to be a good roommate.
- Let your roommate know if you are going to have people over. There is nothing worse than coming home from a long day and walking into a bunch of people in your living room.
- Let your roommate know if the dishes are clean or dirty. Usually I would just text Katie or Jenna to let them know if the dishes were clean or dirty but you could also put a cute little sign or note out letting them know.
- Do the dishes. If you cook or use any dishes, go ahead and load the dishwasher. It is just respectful.
- Communication is key! If something is bothering you or you have a problem with something your roommate is doing, tell them! Most of the time if your roommate is doing something that bothers you, they don’t even know it.
- Divide the fridge. If you divide the fridge into sections no one is ever confused on whose food is what, and it avoids a lot of problems from before they even arise.
- Refill the water filter. I have a Brita in my apartment and nothing is worse than going to fill up your water bottle in the morning and the whole thing is empty. **hint hint Katie!**
- Respect your roommate’s stuff. If you want to borrow a dress or jewelry or anything really ASK FIRST before going in and trying things on.
- Lock the door when you leave.
- Exchange emergency contact information. You never know when you will need it.
- Keep an open mind. Not everyone was raised the same, so be open to change.
A Few of My Favorite Things
When I love a product or an item, I tend to get completely OBSESSED! Below are five of my favorite things that I use or wear almost every week. There are links next to each of the products so you can purchase them online as well!
- Lululemon Leggings- If you have never purchased a pair of Lululemon leggings or any of their workout apparel in general, do it. These leggings are a life-changing article of clothing. My favorite part of their athletic apparel is that the quality and comfort are not compromised by the style. When I am working out, I am never worried about tugging and pulling my pants up or anything like that. They have tons of styles to choose from, but my favorite style of leggings from Lululemon are any “hi-rise” style pants. I love to indoor cycle and this style always make me feel “covered and secure” just like they describe it to be! Here is a link to purchase any of their leggings online: http://bit.ly/2imHOzj
- Kendra Scott Jewelry- I just discovered Kendra Scott jewelry about two or three years ago and absolutely fell in love with it. They have everything from necklaces to earrings to classy to sassy and everything in between. I love rose gold so I have a matching “Elisa Pendant Necklace” shown in this photo with the matching “Tessa Stud Earrings” in the “rose gold drusy” color. I also have the matching “Elton Bracelet” too! You can seriously not go wrong with any of their products. They even have a “design your own” section on their website where you can customize almost any of their jewelry pieces. A mom and a daughter who love jewelry and wanted to start their own business started the Kendra Scott brand. I love this about the brand, too, because one day my mom and I want to open our own boutique. Here is a link to their website: http://bit.ly/1gliwON
- Capri Blue Candle- I have a little bit of a candle obsession, but my absolute favorite candle in the world is the Capri Blue Candle in the “Volcano” scent. These candles are hand poured in Mississippi and are great quality. It is hard to describe the scent, but anytime I am stressed or need time to focus, I light one of these candles in my room and it instantly increases my mood and focus. I even call this candle my “stress candle.” They can be found in a lot of stores, however I typically get mine in Athropologie because they come in many different colors and sizes. Here is a link to purchase online: http://bit.ly/2fQfa7t
- PureBoost X adidas Running Shoe- First let me start off by saying all of the adidas shoes I have owned that have the “boost” technology are absolutely amazing and have been my favorite shoes until I got the adidas PureBoost X. This is a women’s specific running shoe that is extremely lightweight, comfortable, supportive, and my all time favorite shoe. The shoe is snug, but I love it because it feels like I am wearing a sock ultimately and nothing else because it is so light. They are available in many different colors or you can even customize your own. Here is the link to purchase these shoes online: http://bit.ly/2iNZhje
- Lemons- I try to drink half my body weight in ounces in water everyday or at least close to it. I wouldn’t be able to do that without lemons. I love love love lemons and the way they taste in water! I had to include this on my favorite things list because I use them every single day! I challenge you to add more lemons to your water this week and see how much more refreshed you feel.
2017: Ready, Set, Go!
New year automatically equals new me…right? Well not exactly. Just because the calendar went back to the beginning and a new year has officially started doesn’t mean you need to completely change the person you are or forget about the last twelve months. I am sure in 2016 there were some hard times. I know for me personally, I sometimes wish I could just erase a few months when I was faced with unexpected challenges. Those challenges, however, and unforeseen hard times are what make us strong and unique individuals. So, what I am taking away from 2016 is that I don’t want to change the bad times or erase them, I just want to improve in 2017. Sure, there are going to be days when the 7AM alarm goes off and you hit snooze one too many times. I am sure you are going to cheat on your workout plan a few times too or maybe eat Qdoba for seven straight meals, okay maybe that’s just me…but my point is you don’t have to wait for a completely new year to press the refresh button. Each day is a new day and a new chance to better yourself. So do it, every single day.
I personally have mixed feelings about new years resolutions. Like I said, we don’t need to wait for a new year to better ourselves. So, instead of making a new years resolution list, I have written down a few goals and intentions that I have for the upcoming year.
- Make my bed every morning. I am such a neat freak to begin with, so I am not quite sure why I wait until the middle of the day to make my bed. This year my goal is to make it every morning when I wake up to start my day.
- Talk to my grandparents once a week. I am so lucky to have all of my grandparents except for one alive, and I need to make more time for them. Even if it is just a five minute phone call, my goal for this year is to reach out to my grandparents more.
- Enjoy life to the fullest. There have been too many times in the past where I am doing things in order to make others happy, but this year I am truly going to focus on my happiness before anything else. That has lead me to the start my blog to kick off 2017. I have wanted to start a blog for many years now, but I was always encouraged to focus my time on things that will help me get a job or better my career in sports. This blog is for me, though, so thank you again for reading. I am so excited to share my thoughts and experiences with you over the next year. I am already looking forward to my 2018 posts when I can sit back and relish in all the successes from the hard work I put into 2017.
The day is finally upon us; I am shocked and blessed to be officially launching my blog, The Louisville Belle. If you are reading this, first of all, thank you. Thank you for taking time out of this crazy and hectic thing we call life to check out my blog. Let me start by introducing myself, my name is Allison Cook, and I am a twenty-year-old college student born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. My love for this city is so grand that I decided to stay here for college and attend the University of Louisville where I will be graduating in December of 2017. With that being said, I felt like this was the most opportune time to begin my blog which will focus primarily on food, fashion, and fitness…but who knows where it will take me, because I am always open to new and exciting ideas! Below are 10 simple facts about myself that I thought would give my readers a little more insight on the quirks and qualities that embody being, Allison Cook. Seriously, thanks again from the bottom of my heart for reading! My first five posts are online now with many more to come in the near future.
Why did I want to start blogging? I have always had a passion for clothes, photography, social media, and writing so I figured why not try something new to start off the New Year that incorporates all of my passions. Starting a blog is something I have thought about doing for two or three years now but I am finally at a place in my life where I want to take that leap of faith!
Another main reason I wanted to start blogging is to help all my tall sistas out there find clothes. I am 5’11’’ and sometimes finding clothes that fit the way they should is a struggle so I wanted to provide a platform where other taller women could find clothes that fit them too!
Job? I have an amazing internship with the University of Louisville Athletic Department and adidas. I work specifically for the marketing department.
Siblings? I have a younger brother named Alex who is a Division II basketball player for Bellarmine University here in Louisville.
Favorite Food? Chocolate covered strawberries are my number one favorite food but a close second would be strawberry / blueberry acai bowls or crepes.
Favorite Movies? 27 Dresses, Silver Linings Playbook, and How to Lose a Guy In 10 Days.
Favorite place? St. Thomas US Virgin Island.
Guilty Pleasure? Reality Television.
I love to __________. Sleep In, Travel, Indoor Cycle, and Take Photos.
I hate __________. Driving, Doing The Dishes, Mice, and Porta Potties.