How I Got A 4.0 My 1st Semester of College

Second semester is right around the corner, and that means more late nights with friends, more dining hall dates, and more… classes. Although they are the worst part of college, classes are also the most important (my mother would be so proud to hear me say that). So here are a few things I did last semester  that got me that coveted 4.0! Note: everyone studies and learns differently, these are just a few of the things that worked for me!


Make a friend in every class. Whether this means coordinating with your BFF to take a class together or talking with the new girl sitting next to you, it is really helpful to know someone in all your classes! Make sure to get a few people’s phone numbers and emails. This gives you someone to study with, ask questions, or get the lecture notes from if you ever miss class. Plus class is just a little more enjoyable if you have someone to laugh at the teacher with.

Clear your schedule the day before a test. I know you think you won’t procrastinate & you will be studying weeks before a big exam… but let’s not kid ourselves. College is crazy busy and even if you do prepare ahead of time, most of your studying and reviewing will be done the night before. Make sure not to plan any big events the night before, no matter how “prepared” you feel.

Stay organized.  Write down all of your homework, due dates, and exams in your planner and commit to keeping it updated all semester. Sit down and write down all the major dates the day you get your syllabus. Also add in any sports events, sorority functions, or club meetings so you can see which days are busy and when you will have the most time to study. That way nothing sneaks up on you and you can plan your busy weeks. Here are a few more planner organization tips!

Study with a friend. Memorizing facts and equations is one thing, but actually applying them is another. After you have studied for a while, find a friend in your class and take turns quizzing each other, asking questions, and explaining concepts. Even when you aren’t the one being tested, you’ll learn as you help your friend!

Go to class AND pay attention. Going to class is only half the battle. Once you are there, put your phone away, close any distracting sites down on your computer, and actually pay attention! It’s pointless to show up if you’re only going to watch BuzzFeed videos all class. Here are some tips I found on how to get the most out of a lecture.

Use your resources. Take advantage of any free tutoring, workshops, practice tests, and professor office hours. In high school, I always thought I was “too good” for tutoring, but I have come to realize that is NOT true. Whether you have one specific question or don’t understand an entire concept, don’t be afraid to ask questions and use any tools your school provides.

Bonus Links:
15 tips to succeeding academically
Helpful resource list for 25+ subjects

What is your best studying advice? Good luck this semester- make it the best one yet!


Tips for Walking 10,000 Steps Every Day!


Now that I have made it a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps every day (which I track using a Jawbone Up, pictures above), I realize how lazy I can be! If I don’t have anything specific planned for the day, it can be extremely challenging to reach my goal. I usually find myself walking laps around my house at 11:00 every night in order to get 1,000 more steps before midnight.

Because of this, I have been on the look out for little things I can do to get some extra steps in! All of these are tiny habits I have picked up in order to keep my legs moving a little bit more in my journey to 10,000. Even if you aren’t counting your steps, these are good habits to make to stay a tiny bit more active.

  1. Park far away || Whenever I’m not in a rush (which, let’s be honest, is not very often), I have made an effort to pass up that front row parking spot and opt for a space a bit farther away. The difference may seem small, but getting in the habit can add just a few more steps to your day.
  2. Take the long way || Kind of like parking farther away, I have found myself taking the long way to class in order to sneak in a few extra steps. Every moment counts!
  3. Skip the elevator || Okay, so this may not be too realistic if you work on the 15th floor of an office building, but switching from the elevator to the stairs can definitely add some quick cardio to your day!
  4. Split up trips || Do you ever load up your arms with grocery bags to avoid having to make multiple trips back to the car? Stop it! Split up tour trips to keep yourself moving a little bit longer.
  5. Pace while brushing || Make it a habit to walk around your bathroom or bedroom while brushing your teeth every morning or night. You’ll be surprised just how many steps you can reach in a minute!

While individually these things may seem insignificant, doing each of these every day can add a good amount of pep to your step! As I have been learning in my fitness journey, sometimes it is the small things that add up to big changes.

6 Social Media Sites to Increase Blog Traffic

social media

As a blogger, it’s important to me to try and get as many people as possible reading my site. This can seem difficult, but there are easy and efficient ways to use those ever so addicting social media sites to increase blog traffic! Here is how I use my favorite websites to increase visibility of my blog.

Pinterest: I get a sizable amount of views from Pinterest. I found a great post on Helene in Between all about using Pinterest to drive traffic to your blog! I always pin any graphic I make for my blog (like these from my Grad Gift Guide) or any pictures that go with the themes of my boards on Pinterest. All DIY, design, fashion, beauty or recipe posts should be put on Pinterest, people love to pin those! The more repins it gets, the farther the reach of your blog can go. Just make sure the picture link back to the original post on your blog.
Tumblr: Personally, I had a Tumblr long before I started seriously blogging on Joyfully Abby. This gave me a follower audience I could advertise this site to when I first started! Post a link to all of your new blog posts on Tumblr to reach a wider audience. Even if you use your Tumblr as a personal site that does not relate to your business, it is a great way to put your blog out there to different people and reach a larger audience.Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 6.28.26 PM
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: These 3 basic social media sites are vital for creating a larger audience for your blog. Creating an account will keep your readers connected at all times. Posting a link to each of your blog posts on different sites will encourage more readers, and more consistent readers as well! Post other statuses/tweets/pictures that relate to the topic you blog about, so that they appeal to your followers!
Bloglovin’: Repeat readers are the most important. It’s better to build up a loyal reader base than have random people occasionally looking at random posts. Bloglivin’ helps build that loyal readership. I’ve done a previous post about Bloglivin’, and it explains the basics. To start, claim your blog by clicking on “Your blog” in the drop down menu, and then pressing “Claim blog” on the left.

Bloglovin' Screenshot

Your followers will be notified every time you write a new post, and it automatically shows up on their dashboard. This encourages every post to be viewed and read! Plus, it is a great way to organize all the blogs you want to read daily. Popular post and blogs may be featured, driving even more traffic to your site.

Hopefully, this guide will help you get your blog out there to as many people as possible! Don’t forget to be patient. Building a successful blog and large readership takes time and commitment, so keep going! Also, make sure to follow me on all the sites to keep updated with everything Joyfully Abby!

Pinterest // Tumblr // Twitter // Instagram // Bloglovin

Fun Fonts

Want to know a secret? I’m a typography geek. Being on the yearbook staff at my school (Co Editor-in-Chief holla) introduced me into the beautiful world of pretty letters and I have never looked back. My Pinterest boards are filled with cool fonts and typography. This lettering obsession has led me to hate the extremely limited font choices on Microsoft Word. Each “cute and creative” font they think up is worse than the previous.

Thankfully, I found a website with fonts galore. Easy to download and free to use, this website is a lifesaver. But that isn’t even the best part. Each font on Kevin and Amanda’s Fonts for Peas is a girl’s handwriting submitted to the website! There are literally hundreds of adorable handwriting fonts to choose from. They have every type of handwriting you can imagine. How cute is that?

You can either choose a few and download your favorites, or download them all with a click of a button! She even shows you how to put them all into Microsoft Word! Oh, and did I mention they are all free?

Plus, you could even get your handwriting turned into a font here! Isn’t it every girl’s dream to type in her own handwriting? So, say goodbye to drab, boring computer fonts and hello to adorable, beautiful handwriting on your computer! And while I wouldn’t suggest using one of these to type up a paper in, they are perfect for adding a little fun to graphics or blog posts. I’ve made a quick list of a few of my favorites:


Which font is your favorite?

Internet Inspiration: Six Must-Follow Blogs

Every morning, before I am even fully awake, I make myself a cup of coffee and read all my favorite blogs. It is the first thing I do every day, and I love it! It gives me inspiration for the day, updates me on the lives of my favorite people, and helps gets my mind going in the morning. I have a few favorite blogs to read every day, and in the spirit of getting to know your neighbor, I thought I would share them with all of you!

Zoella || Zoe is probably the sweetest beauty blogger out there! She is known for her YouTube videos (which I highly recommend) but her blog is sort of a hidden gem. She is the one that inspired me to start a blog in the first place!

The College Prepster || If I could trade lives with anyone, it would probably be Carly. Honestly, no one does blogging quite like her. She always knows what is going on in the fashion world, she gives great organization tips, and I’m pretty sure she will someday been the Queen of New York City.

Simply Taralynn || Taralynn is such an inspiration! Her blog is full of great workout tips, healthy meal recipes, and fun stories about her life.

The Pazzesco Life || Cooper runs such a great lifestyle blog! If you are looking for fun posts about fun adventures from a fun girl, this blog is for you! It has a little bit of everything.

Design Darling || Mackenzie runs one of my all time favorite blogs. From travel tips to outfit posts and great gift guides, her blog pretty much covers it all! She also runs the most adorable boutique known to man. Not to mention she inspired me to start a 101 in 1001 list!

Southern Curls & Pearls || Caitlin must have the most amazing closet in the world, because she is my favorite fashion blogger! All of her outfit posts are gorgeous (just like her) and she has such a great sense of style!

I read most of the blogs I follow on Bloglovin, a really great platform that keeps all of your favorite blogs organized and easily accessible. You can follow me here! What are your favorite blogs you follow?



picture source: June Letters

The start of a new year is always a funny time for me, and I feel like a lot of people can relate. We spend days preparing for and counting down to one second, one exact moment. The clock strikes midnight, screams are heard and kisses are exchanged (for everyone but me)… but then what? What’s next? No one ever seems to plan out the next few minutes, let alone hours or days or weeks, following the big ball drop.

To be honest, I don’t like NYE. Okay, to be completely honest, I hate it. It’s my least favorite holiday of the year. Do most people have “least favorite holidays”? I don’t know. But I do. I always feel so much pressure to make plans and find a party to ring in the new year at. Nothing ever goes as planned. Year after year, I end up home alone with my 2 cats while everyone else is out having the night of their life. But this isn’t a pity post. This is a post filled with excitement and joy and hope for amazing things to happen in 2015.

I have so many crazy things in store for me this year. I’ll be graduating high school (!!!) and starting college (wherever that may be). I have officially been hired as a videographer at the summer camp I grew up at (that is a story for another post. Dream. Come. True.) and I have a senior trip to plan. I dream of 2015 being filled with adventure and whimsy (to quote my now favorite author Bob Goff). I want each day to hold new opportunities of  happiness and joy.

Slowly but surely, I’ve come to understand that each year is only as good as you make it. There is no “I was good in 2014, so I’m sure I’ll be rewarded in 2015”. I need to get off my ass and go make this year great. I found a list of goals for 2015 online (source), and they are perfect. I’m hoping I can keep these in mind all year and make 2015 a year to remember. Sorry in advance for the language, it’s kind of vulgar. I didn’t write it.



1. Sleep earlier, rise earlier – get off your phone, set a time, create a habit.

2. Read more – and not just shitty fanfics. Read them too. But read. Read classics, read newspapers, read magazines, read fictional books, read joke books. Just read.

3. Stay away from people who do not deserve you – you are worth a lot more. Fuck their shitty opinions.

4. Eat well – and I don’t mean diet. I mean, eat well. Eat healthy, indulge every once in a while, but don’t go overboard. Eat for your health and not for society.

5. Create a plan that will be enjoyable for exercise and just do it – no fucking around this year

6. Study well – an hour every single day. Just one hour of uninterrupted, that’s all it will take. Apprendre et travail dans Francais – Je ne sais pas si ce est juste, pardon a mon francais suiveurs

7. Pamper yourself- give yourself one hour. One hour a week to unwind. To week to wash your hair, leave in your conditioner, soak your skin, have a face mask, shave your legs, light some candles, drink some tea, put on nice smelling lotion and comfy pajamas, put on some nice music and sleep well.

8. Put in an effort – doing your hair nicely, putting on that clean change of clothes and a simple coat of mascara has a lot of power to make you feel a hell of a lot better

9. Learn new VOCAB – because why the fuck not? Write down your new words that you learn while reading, use them in conversations; expand your vocab, because when you are sitting in the exam room, you’ll be glad you have.

10. Plan an outing once a week – have something to look forward to, to be excited for. Experience new things.

11. Set small goals – 3 small things to do every day, and don’t sleep till you have them done. 3×365 knowledgeable achievements will be worth it – trust me

12. Meet new people – don’t be so quick to judge.

13. Love yourself – I’m still trying to figure this one out, but I’m beginning to feel like I am worth it.

14. Art – practice makes perfect. Work, and when you can’t work, learn. Discover artists and their pieces, their inspirations, their style. Document it. There is always something to do to improve, whether it be through practice or research.

15. Stick to these goddamn goals. 2015 will be the shit if I make it.


So, yeah. I have big dreams for 2015 and I can’t wait to get started. Let me know if you like the things on this list, of any goals you have for this year! Happy 2015, I hope your year is filled with adventures and laughter and good times with great friends.


Summer Activities in Austin

austin-skyline_500 Living is Austin, Texas is a blessing. If you ever come and visit, I guarantee you’ll fall in love. It ranges from the hustle and bustle of the city to the famous Texas countryside all in one city. With rolling hills and trees everywhere, the scenery is beautiful. Downtown, the odd shops and even odder people live up to our catchphrase “Keep Austin Weird”. There is always something to do here, especially in the summer. If you live nearby or find yourself in this great city in the next few months, here are a few things you HAVE to do!

  1. Blues on the Green: Known as the “live music capitol of the world”, Austin has great concerts all over town every night. From small band at local bars to international stars on a world tour, artists almost always make it a point to stop in Austin. But, if concerts aren’t in your budget, make sure to make your way to Zilker Park downtown for Blues on the Green. This free concert series is held every other Wednesday night a 8 for anyone who wants to come. Bring a blanket to sit on and some drinks to sip as you listen to great live bands perform with all your friends.
  2. Lady Bird Lake: On days when the Texas heat is beating down on you (aka every day), taking a kayak or stand up paddle board out on Lady Bird Lake is the perfect way to cool down. Rent your boat by the hour and spend some time exploring the lake with your friends. I always make sure to jump in when it gets too hot, and sometimes even tip over my friends boats!
  3. Barton Springs: If boating isn’t your thing, another great way to cool down is swimming at Barton Springs. This natural pool is freezing cold, so it takes some guts to jump in, but after you get used to it you’ll have a blast! It’s giant and has a huge diving board so you can show off your tricks to everyone there.
  4. Zilker Park: Pack a picnic and bring a football and head over to Zilker park! This is a great place to spend a day with friends. Get a group together for a game of pickup soccer, or bring a volleyball and use one of their sand volleyball courts for a tournament. But make sure to bring lots of water and sunscreen, it gets hot!
  5. Food Trailers: Austin is famous for their food trailers. Serving out of converted campers and even school busses, these chefs know what they’re doing. From donuts to burgers to sandwiches and cheesecake, you can find anything you want to eat. My personal favorites include Gourdoughs (donuts), Short Bus (sandwiches), and Sno Beach (snow cones).
  6. South Congress: If you are looking for shopping and good food, South Congress is the place for you. With quirky shops, boutiques, and a thrift store, there is all types of shopping. SoCo is even home to the original Kendra Scott store (swoon). The restaurants are amazing as well. Stop by Hopdoddy for the best burger in town, or Homeslice for pizza that will make your mouth water.
  7. Segway Tours: Rent a segway and ride downtown in style! A tour guide will take you all over town showing you historical landmarks and telling you interesting stories about all kinds of things. And yes, you’ll get to segway up to the capitol building and take some pretty sweet pictures.

Have you ever visited Austin? Right now we are hosting the X Games, are any of y’all in town for that? Let me know what you did!

Book Recs from a Book Worm

On sunny days, nothing beats laying by the pool, lemonade in hand, reading a good book. Over the summer, when I’m not drowning in school work, I fly through my reading list. My favorite thing to do at the beach is lay out in the sand reading a good novel. Due to my insane reading habits (one summer I was at the beach and I read 7 books in 7 days… Oops) I’ve read a fair share of books. From mysteries to romances, sitting in the sun and diving into a great novel. Here’s a list of my favorite books in a variety of genres! books

  1. Before I Fall // Lauren Oliver // young adult: If you’re looking for a book that will get you thinking, this is the one for you. With a creative concept, romance, and a bit of mystery, you won’t want to put this book down. It follows a girl Samantha who keeps reliving the same day over and over again, and must figure out why and how to break the cycle.
  2. Every Day // David Levithan // romance: Again, this is one of the most creative book concepts I’ve ever read. The main character wakes up every morning in a different body, and when they fall in love with someone, they must figure out what to do. The author perfectly mixes romance with intrigue in one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read.
  3. The Fault In Our Stars // John Green // young adult: If you’ve never heard of this book, you must live under a rock. John Green (my all time favorite author) somehow weaves his great sense of humor into such a serious and sad book. You will laugh out loud, and you will cry. Warning: it is about a girl with cancer, so if that hits home for you, this may not be the best book for you to read. The movie comes out June 6, so make sure to read the book before you see the movie!
  4. The Vincent Brothers // Abbi Glines // romance: If you’re looking for a quick and easy read this is a great book to pick up! It’s the typical teen-romance novel, great for a light read on the beach or on a plane to keep you entertained (I picked it up in an airport).
  5. Walking Disaster // Jamie McGuire // romance: I read this book in 48 hours, it is that addicting. A well written romance, the book follows the intense and crazy relationship of college kids Abby and Travis. This book is from Travis’s point of view, and her other book Beautiful Disaster is from Abby’s! I actually read Beautiful before Walking, but it can be read in either order.
  6. The Host // Stephanie Meyer // science fiction: I know what you’re thinking, and yes, Stephanie Meyer did write Twilight. But this book is 100 times better, and has no vampires. There are a sort of alien species, but Meyer does a great job of keeping them realistic and not distracting. This thrilling book is filled with twists and turns. The writing is great and I loved visualizing the setting and their world. And of course, a great romantic plot drives the book. PS don’t judge this book by its movie because it was terrible.
  7. What Do You Want To Do Before You Die? // The Buried Life // young adult: Do you remember that TV show on MTV called The Buried Life? No? Go watch it on Netflix right now. 4 guys travel around, crossing things off their list of thing they want to do before they die. For every thing they cross of their list, they help a stranger cross something off theirs. It’s so good and inspirational. Well, they wrote a book about it to. It talks about their journey, but most of it is thing off of people’s list. It is really cool to look at. Mine is special to me because I got the book signed. AH.
  8. Gone Girl // Gillian Flynn // thriller: This is sort of a bonus book, because I haven’t finished reading it yet. It is about a man who comes home to find out his wife is gone, and he has to find out how to get her back. It keeps me on edge, and is written really neat because one chapter is from his perspective in the present, and the next is an old diary entry of the wife telling background about their story.

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any other suggestions for me to read? Let me know!

How to Have a Perfect Prom

Prom is notorious for being extremely lame at our school. Usually no one dances or has any fun. But on Saturday, I went and my friends and I had a great time! I realized that if you go into it thinking it is going to be lame, you’re not going to have fun. So I decided to put together a guide on how to have the best prom ever!

7 Tips for a Perfect Prom

  1. Start planning early: Planning is the most stressful part. Make any reservations you need (limo, party bus, dinner, hair and makeup) as early as possible so you aren’t scrambling to find a place to go last minute. Buy your dress as soon as you can so you have plenty of time to get it altered if necessary. This way  you don;t have to worry about any of it closer to the big night!
  2. Get a group together: Things are always more fun with friends, so get a big group and go together! Take pictures, eat dinner, and even rent a fun party bus to drive you around. Going with fun people guarantees that y’all will have a great night. Plus, if you can’t find a date going with friends is the perfect thing to do.
  3. Put together an emergency kit: Accidents happen, so make sure you come prepared. Bring a small clutch filled with lipstick, breath mints, bobby pins, safety pins, and tide to-go so that you are ready for any sticky situation you might run into.
  4. Dance the night away: Once you get to prom, make the most of it! Get all your friends together and show off your craziest dance moves. Make a dance circle and have people go in the middle to dance for the group. Even if no one else is on the dance floor, this will encourage them to join! Prom is only as fun as you make it, so dance like no one is watching and have the time of your life.
  5. Bring flats: With all that dancing, your feet are going to get sore. So bring in a pair of small flat shoes to put on when your feet start to hurt. No one will notice, and this way the bottom of your feet won’t be pitch black like mine were from dancing barefoot all night.
  6. Plan an awesome after party: Even if the actual dance isn’t the best, having a great after party can save the night. Go to someone’s lake house or ranch with all your friends. Rent a bouncy house, set up a photo booth, and stalk the place with great snacks to ensure a fun night from start to finish.
  7. Don’t stress: This is the most important of all. Things may not go as planned, but that’s okay! Go with the flow and make the best of every situation. This night is supposed to be great, so just go and have fun!

Your prom may not be like the movies, but it may be even better! As I was leaving on Saturday, my friend from Scotland remarked “Well that was nothing like the American movies make it out to be, but I loved every minute of it!” So go have the time of your lives at prom with all your best friends, and make memories to last a lifetime. Here are a few pictures from mine (I’m in light blue)!

prom njh_6754 prom njh_6842 prom njh_6870 DSC_0355

© Norma Harais photography

What to Watch on YouTube

Alright guys, I have a confession. My guilty pleasure is (mostly British) YouTube. No, I’m not talking about occasionally watching a few videos, I mean emotionally investing in these people and watching every video they have ever made. My taste ranges from sit-down chatty videos, to challenge collabs, to beauty gurus. Here are a few of my favorite YouTubers I watch!

Zoe Sugg: zoella230890
Zoe is by far my all time favorite YouTuber. You may think of her as a beauty guru, but she does it all! She makes hilarious collabs with her brother Joe and boyfriend Alfie, makes cute DIY videos, and chatty vlogs. She is obviously gorgeous, but just by watching her videos you can tell she’s super sweet, genuine, and a ton of fun! Plus, she has an amazing blog that encouraged me to start this blog!

Troye Sivan: TroyeSivan18
This guy never fails to make me laugh. His videos are quality, but his personality is what truly makes them amazing. He is also an extremely talented singer, so I always look forward to those videos as well. Not to mention he is South African (but lives in Australia) so he has an awesome accent!

Bethany Mota: Macbarbie07
Beth is the queen of DIY. She posts amazing and creative how-to vids, as well as clothing hauls and makeup videos! She always has great content and the best ideas and outfits. I wish I had her closet!

Kate: katexone
So all my other favorites have been big YouTubers, but this last one is a hidden gem. Kate makes vlogs where she talks to the camera every week. She is funny and super nice, and I love every video she makes! She is super relatable (we are extremely similar) and I would definitely suggest going and checking her out because her videos are great!

Who are your favorite people to watch on YouTube? Let me know in the comments so I can go check them out!