Best of 2015

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     Hi everyone! Somehow 2015 is already coming to a close, and a new year awaits. The concept of a New Year has always perplexed me- in one way, it's positive in its ability to encourage change and improvement, however, it's also deceptive because you can always alter your life. It doesn't actually matter if it's January 1st or July 2nd, which is often difficult for people to recognize (me included). Nonetheless, I decided to continue the "tradition" and do my "Best of" end of year post, where I basically compile random favorite things that I think of and organize them accordingly. What were some of your favorite things this year? Leave a comment below! Happy New Year!! xoxo Isabelle 

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First up is my favorite trip- if you didn't know, I spent 9 months living abroad in France from September to May, so I did my fair share of traveling during my time in Europe. The beginning of my 2015 involved a lot of traveling, but my voyage in Germany was most memorable. I went from Paris to Strasbourg, then to Munich and ended in Berlin with two of my friends, Heather and Olivia. Berlin specifically was my favorite aspect of the three part trip because of the famous East Side Gallery, with a mile of beautiful murals and messages dedicated to freedom. 

It is rare that a day goes by in which my best friend Allison and I don't talk about how Gigi Hadid is quite simply perfection. Both her and Kendall Jenner have dominated the modeling and social media worlds this year. There are plenty of celebrities to look up to, like Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato, however, Gigi is noteworthy because she is only 20 years old and has already done so much, like Teen Vogue covers and Vogue spreads. 

During the school year, I rarely have time to read for pleasure, like many students. Heck, I barely finish my AP Euro reading by the end of the day. On break, though, I do as much reading as I can while I have time at my leisure. While I was on Saint Lucia for the past week, I read 2 books- "Reconstructing Amelia" and "The Art of Crash Landing", which were both my mom's suggestions. These two books both have a common "mystery" type theme, where the end reveals that the plot was even more twisted than you thought. If you liked Gone Girl, you'll love these took books! 


I don't watch too many TV shows (beside marathons of 90210), but Finding Carter on MTV remains one of my favorites that I keep up with, even during the school year. The show revolves around Carter, who was abducted as a child, and follows her new life with her real family. As the seasons have progressed, the storyline has gotten even more complex and addictive. If you watched Twisted or The Lying Game on ABC Family, you would like this show for its action packed plot. 
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Christmas Love | Philly

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         Since my freshman year, the weekend trips off of my boarding school's campus have definitely improved. As it is my last year here, I have been trying to spend more time with my friends on these trips, whether we are on campus or roaming the streets of Philly. Last weekend, I ventured to Philly for a Christmas Market trip with some of my friends. We explored the plethora of stands along the perimeter of the famous Love Park, where I was succesful in some last minute Christmas gifts. Continuing on, there was a quaint ice rink adjacent to Penn Medicine and a massive, ornate tree surrounded by tourists and locals alike. Being consumed in homework at school, it rarely truly feels like Christmas, despite the Christmas caroling and gingerbread house making activities. But there's something about a city adorned in lights and scrumptious winter delights that makes the Christmas cheer more prevalent. 

Although I do appreciate cities at Christmas, I will be leaving for Saint Lucia tomorrow. When you read this, I will hopefully be relaxing on the beach avoiding all responsibilities. OooOoh yeah. What are your plans for Christmas if you celebrate? xoxo Isabelle 

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Rouge

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Wearing:// Top: Nordstrom, Pants: The Kooples (Paige Denim), Shoes: Minelli (Jeffrey Campbell), Bag: Juicy Couture 

The night before any break starts is one that involves packing, Netflix, "What are your break plans?" small talk, and little to no regard for the few classes we have the next day. Initially, the two weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas break seemed undeniably daunting- but somehow it is already the night before vacation and I couldn't be any happier. Tonight, the senior class will do its annual Christmas Caroling with some Chick-fil-A and Klondike bars to ring in some holiday spirit. In just a few days, I'll find my self basking in my sunburn on the beaches of Saint Lucia, de-stressing from the insanity that is senior year. After the Christmas cheer has subsided, we will all be welcoming the new year- 2016- the year in which I graduate!!! High school!! I will seriously never be able to get over being a senior. 

One of the best parts of the winter, in addition to candy cane concoctions and ugly Christmas sweaters, is being able to sport turtle necks to school. I used to be a firm turtle neck sweater, deeming them hideous and vowing to never wear one; according to this outfit, I have moved on from that phase. Now, I view them in a "ugly-cute" sort of light, and my collection of these bizarre sweaters seems to keep growing. I usually wear turtlenecks with leather pants or waxed jeans with booties to 'maintain' my European flare (not really, but this outfit combination just tends to happen). I also rediscovered this old mini-duffle bag from Juicy and love the statement the red makes against my rather neutral look. How do you wear turtlenecks? Happy Holidays!!! xoxo Isabelle 

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Christmas Wishlist Ideas | Outfit Sets

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It has been awhile since I last broke out the Polyvore sets, so I thought I would create this post, with three different outfits for Christmas. All of these items are a bit steep price wise, but you could easily find less expensive dupes for your favorite items at stores like Urban Outfitters and Nordstrom. Click on the image to see more information about the pieces included in each look. Leave a comment with which outfit is your favorite (1,2,3)! 

Xmas set 1
This first look is quite possibly my favorite- it reminds me of Shay Mitchell's character 'Emily' on Pretty Little Liars. Her character often wears athletic style clothing, but with a girly twist. Although I paired the sweater with medium-wash jeans, adding the leather jacket and backpack made the outfit a little dressier. As for the shoes, I have been wanting to get my hands on a pair of Adidas sneakers for the longest time, and the white pair goes with just about anything. You could wear this outfit just about anywhere- a party, hanging out with friends, shopping- and you'll look straight out of Vogue. 

xmas outfit 2


This second set is a subtle yet bold combination of different prints and colors. In the wintertime, it is easy to just wear all black and be content, but color needs to make an appearance from time to time. I have been wearing turtlenecks like the one above like none other, and I love how it provides a simple base for the hunter green suede jacket. To tie in the zipper theme, I added this high-waisted zip skirt, which could be paired with booties or some heels. To complete the color scheme, I threw in some tortoise shell sunnies and a burnt orange Balenciaga bag. I would wear this outfit for a coffee date, an art opening, or even a holiday party. 


xmas outfit 3

This last look is more business-like than the other two, while not being too "stiff". Business-attire can easily get bland with a blazer or slacks, but this outfit makes professional look classy. The texture of the skirt and the gold jewels on the booties add an interesting flair to this outfit, while the black trench coat will keep you warm and makes the set more streamlined. My favorite aspect of this outfit is the accessories, with the golden theme and the beautiful Celine bag. This outfit could be worn to work, a dinner-date, a holiday party, or just to walk around the city.

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Walking in the Wind

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Wearing:// Top: Madewell, Jacket: Barbour, Pants: Madewell, Boots: Minelli (Dolce Vita Boot)

I would be lying if I said that I was embarrassed that my past two post titles have been direct One Direction references. I didn't choose the 1D fan life, it chose me, okay? Anyway, this outfit is a rare instance in which I let "preppy Isabelle" come to the surface. J Crew and Made-well dressed Isabelle isn't so bad, I suppose. If you didn't know, I attend a boarding school with a business-like dress code which is pretty much this outfit, give or take a blazer and dress pants. In the late fall and winter, button down flannels are essential to my wardrobe, because they're so easy to throw on with a cozy sweater overtop. I recently purchased this very warm jacket as well, which quite possibly everyone at my school owns- I conformed to the trend, you could say. The hype is valid, though, because it really is a good jacket for anyone living on the East coast or somewhere that gets chilly. Even though it was borderline "hot" the other day, we all know just how cold it can get in New Jersey during the winter. 

As I write this post, I am avoiding all responsibility (not that I have many- it's break after all) and watching The Polar Express. Thanksgiving break ends tomorrow, with Winter break thankfully a shy 2 weeks away. This break was consumed by college apps, holiday celebrations, and heaps of aimless College Confidential scrolling sessions. Let's just say college is making me go insane...In order to not obsess over my potentially college-less future (exaggerating), I plan on soaking up the holidays, whether it's our schools Secret Santa exchange or scrumptious holiday cookies. Say yes to anything chocolate and gift-giving! xoxo Isabelle 

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Made in the A.M. | November Playlist

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[Images via: Tumblr, Isabelle Nazha Photo, Tumblr, Isabelle Nazha Photo]

If you weren't a One Direction fan, you would probably not see the connection between the title of this post and their newest album. I may or may not be a low key (HIGH KEY) fan of them, especially their new songs, which are of course included in this collection of songs. This month, I listened to a nice range of JB, One Direction, Drake, and Banks. Click here to listen to my playlist on Spotify! What have you been listening to? 

Here's a preview of my playlist...

ILYSB- LANY

Practice- Drake

The Feeling- Justin Bieber, Halsey 

Wolves- One Direction

Sad Boy- G-Eazy

Celeste- Ezra Vine

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Outlaws

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Wearing:// Dress: Nordstrom, Jacket: Aritzia, Shoes: Jeffrey Campbell *old*  (Vince Camuto Boot)

         Curling up with my dogs, homemade apple bread, and a marathon of 90210 ahead of me is what I call BLISS. I came home often during my sophomore year, but the last time I came home before this Thanksgiving break was Fall long weekend in October. Not seeing my friends and family so frequently just makes each homecoming all the better. I somehow survived my last exam week ever at my high school, and have been knocking out my college applications and tv episodes ever since. It has been as solid month since I last posted an outfit post, so I was a bit rusty with my "modeling", but it felt comforting to go out shooting with my mom again. I haven't been doing as much shopping- shocker, I know- with school occupying my time, but I did order this dress with a unique patten off of Nordstrom recently. I have been buying just about anything in this burgundy/maroon color, so expect to see sweaters and pants galore in this shade. 

Like a "normal person", I was just brainstorming Instagram bio options, and realized, "give me a leather jacket + i'll conquer the world" would be suitable for me. I wore my leather jacket pretty much every day while I lived in France (strongly considered just wearing it to bed tbh), and have been wearing it on the weekends when I don't have to rock a blazer to school. Everyone should find a piece in their wardrobe that gives them a world domination type feeling, and my leather jacket with bold red lips serve that purpose. 

Besides seeing friends and hangin' out with my dogs, I mostly look forward to Thanksgiving for the heaps of pie. I'm not sure that I blogged about it, but last year, I didn't really have a Thanksgiving. The nearby French high school put together a lovely look-alike American style dinner, but it just wasn't the same. My mom almost forgot that I wasn't even here last year until I reminded her, but nonetheless, I'm looking forward to drowning my plate in turkey, mashed potatoes, pie, stuffing, pie, and more pie. As usual, I wanted to say how thankful I am for everyone who reads my blog, whether you're a longtime reader or a newbie. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!xoxo Isabelle 
      
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#PrayforParis and #PrayfortheWorld

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I'm sure all of you are aware of the recent tragedies, not only in Paris, but also all over the world. I work on my school's newspaper, and was asked to write something up in response to the attacks in Paris. After studying and living abroad in France last year, I have a particular perspective because I was there when the Charlie Hebdo attacks occurred. I thought I would share what I wrote for the newspaper with you all- let me know your thoughts and stance on our world, which seems to be crumbling...xoxo Isabelle 

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[Place de la République in Rennes January 8th, 2015]

When you’ve lived in a suburban New Jersey town for all of your life, transitioning to a “concrete-jungle”, equipped with a metro and an extensive bus line can seem daunting. By January of my School Year Abroad in France, I felt that I had adapted well to the hustle-and-bustle of Rennes, but it wasn’t until the attacks on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo occurred on January 7th of this year that I realized what it really meant to a be an American living in a country that was under attack. Although I wasn’t in Paris the day of the attacks, I was living in Rennes, which is just two-hours outside of Paris, and I felt closer to current events more than ever before. Watching the news from your home in the United States is starkly different than watching the news knowing you are just two hours away from where innocent people are being killed. With a school trip to Paris approaching, students began receiving frantic messages from their parents, which resulted in a necessary school meeting. We were assured that we were going to be ok and that our trip was still on, and that there would be heightened security due to what had happened. Our trip went smoothly, but knowing we were staying just ten minutes away from the old Charlie Hebdo offices was chilling. Walking along the Seine with military personnel almost patrolling past us, I saw Paris in a different, sort-of guarded light.

It is difficult to compare two different acts of blatant inhumanity, however, I can sense a slight difference between the reactions regarding Charlie Hebdo and those of the Bataclan and the Stade de France. In January, Charlie Hebdo sparked a greater discussion regarding the liberty of expression, and the boundaries of the journalism medium- where do we draw the line for mockery of other races, religions, and ideals? Some of my French teachers advocated for complete and total free speech, while others felt there was a line between plaisanterie and outright cruelty. Either way, almost all of my classes debated this topic for weeks, and we contemplated the driving motive behind the deaths of these 12 writers. When I received a notification on my CNN app of the most recent attacks, I felt a pang of uneasiness for France and the world. That moment transported me back to my experience living in France, and I felt all the more downtrodden. Although I am not a French citizen by any means, I established many ties during my time there that make me feel connected. Knowing that my host mom’s granddaughter lives in Paris and several of my sleep-away camp friends definitely rendered the “#prayforparis” more meaningful for my SYA friends and me. In less than a year, France has experienced two instances of oppression which have only made this country a stronger, united front.

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Senior Year Update 2 // Rivalry Weekend + College Apps

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         Senior year has been undoubtedly been the busiest yet most exciting of my high school years. While my year abroad was evidently nine months of a travel wanderlust dream, this year has been both enjoyable and beyond stressful. With the early decision and early action deadline having just passed, everyone is in a sort of waiting game limbo until decisions come out. And while we wait for those decisions, we must keep up with actual school work and write OTHER supplements for regular decision. I guess the whole "senior year is a breeze!" thing only happens once we get into college. This past weekend was a nice distraction, with my school's annual rivalry weekend against The Lawrenceville School. It is always such a fun-filled weekend, with athletics, a pep rally, a bonfire, and general school spirit. However, we have exams next week, and exam week is the only thing standing between Thanksgiving break and me. Send your prayers for me during my last exam week, ever (!!) I've said this in a few posts on social media at this point, but I am so so sorry for not posting basically at all this school year. I honestly barely have time for my school work, let alone college apps, let alone blogging. But with Thanksgiving break starting November 20, you should look out for a slew of posts during that time. Thanks again for being so understanding. <3 How have you all been? Leave me a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP! xoxo Isabelle 

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Lakeside | October 2015 Playlist

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Just a collection of fall tunes to keep you company while you are wishing you were lakeside, but you're really surrounded by a pile of books. 

Spotify link: here 
Outlaws- Alessia Cara
I'm Into You- Chet Faker
Revival- Selena Gomez
Let it Go- James Bay
Sober- Selena Gomez
Legend- Drake
King- Years & Years
Last Nigh I Dreamt...- The Wombats
Gold- Chet Faker
Sober- Childish Gambino
Ocean- Andreas Moe
Satellite- Dave Matthews Band

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Revival

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Wearing:// Top: Zara (Kimichi Blue Shirt), Vest: Aritzia (Kenya Vest), Skirt: Urban Outfitters (sale!), Shoes: Minelli (Jeffrey Campbell Boot)

Every time I come home, I can't help but utter, "It feels good to be home", at least 20 times. After being cooped up in my dorm for the past month, not having come home once, returning to my pets, home cooked meals, and friends feels beyond perfect. When I got home on Saturday, I also couldn't wait to get back to blogging- sorry again for going MIA. My mom-ographer and I went to our usual park location and shot this outfit with the changing leaves as our backdrop. Although there have been some annoyingly summer-esque days lately, I've mostly been embracing fall clothing. On October 1st, my friends at school and I decided that it was acceptable to start wearing boots, so that was an exciting occasion. I sort of am liking this in between of warm and cold weather, because I can do layering with summer pieces and still have a fall look going for me. This vest adds a edgy flare to any outfit without the thickness of a leather jacket- all the goals!! 

I truly have missed sitting down and listening to some music while writing posts on the regular. I'm not sure how I managed everything my sophomore year- I guess my course load has increased since then and now I have the added pressure of college apps weighing me down. Hopefully I'll get into college at some point...hahahaha. If you didn't see, I started a new college advice series and just posted the first installment here.

 I hope you guys like this look! I'm loving the fall style this year. Hope you guys are all well. xoxo Isabelle 
P.S. This post title is referencing Selena Gomez's new album- go listen!

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Road to College: Researching Schools + My Favorite Tools // Part 1

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      Even just a month into the school year, it has become apparent to me that the college process is beyond grueling. Deadlines and percentage rates are always on your mind and, until you're into school, it's hard to think about anything else. That being said, I thought it would be interesting to take my readers (who are around my age) along through this struggle with me! What fun. I have some ideas for future parts of this series (like visiting, interviews, essays, etc.), but feel free to leave some suggestions in a comment. Let's do this seniors 2k16!!! 

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The best way to begin this road to college is to get researching. I cannot tell you guys how many late night hours I spent reading college guides or websites, losing sleep over reading facts and stats. While losing sleep researching colleges isn't ideal, it is important to really look into all sorts of schools to get a sense of what you'd like. Don't take your major too much into consideration at first- rather, consider what size school you would like, urban or rural campus, liberal arts or not, etc. Once you have the basic elements in order, you can begin curating an initially lengthy list, and eventually narrow it down (truth be told, I stil have a list of 15 schools...). This task may seem a bit daunting, but you'll truly know what you like once you do some visits. In the meantime, you can use the following tools to give you some insight; 

Fiske Guide to Colleges:  This college guide gives you an honest and clear cut image of any school in it. Fiske places each college in context and highlights the school's distinguishing features. For each entry, Fiske gives a list of "overlaps," competing colleges that share the same applicants, which is helpful information during the discovery phase of a college search. Fiske opens each college's entry with a summary paragraph that seeks to distill the unique essence of the college, often by differentiating it from its peer institutions. My college adviser suggested this book to me, and I would highly recommend it. 



Colleges.Niche.com: This website organizes aspects of each college into categories, from admissions to greek life to weather- the list goes on. The information posted is from actual students, whether they are a new freshman or a recent alumnus, giving you varied perspectives. Students tend to give honest and raw opinions that most pamphlets or brochures won't. If you're not looking to purchase an actual book but still want to do your research, this place is your go-to site. For an overview of a school, refer to the "Overall Experience" section to get a quick sense of how students view their school. 
College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step:  This book offers a very thorough collection of chapters laying out every facet of the college application process. This guide gives you tips like how to tackle the interview, what to do with each new draft of your essays, when your parents need to back off, and even what it means to find a college that's the "right fit". Each section includes a checklist, and answers potential questions you may have, whether they concern deciding early or regular decision, what to ask in an interview, or even what you should eat before a standardized test. In addition to the logistics, this book includes quotes from actual deans of admissions and how they view certain components of a prospective student's application. I would only recommend this book if you're up for some deep reading- if you like quick facts and easy reading, the Fiske guide has shorter summaries. 


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Senior Year + Fall Shenanigans

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  If you didn't know, a few weeks ago, I began my senior year of high school. Somehow, despite each year passing having felt like an eternity, we are finally entering our last year before college. The past few weeks have been beyond busy; our classes are moving at full force, college app deadlines are approaching, and my tennis matches have been frequent. After going abroad for a year, the "transition back" wasn't as difficult as I thought when it came to our community, but more so academically. When I was in France, my only AP course was French, which was really the whole point of being at SYA. However, this year, my schedule is full of required courses and difficult subjects like AP Euro, and it has been someone stressful managing all of my work. At this point, I just want to be into college already. That being said, the weekend is optimal time to try and de-stress, so I went apple picking with some of my friends this weekend since I had an away match all of yesterday. Our school actually has a decent selection of activities to participate in, and this outing seemed very fall-ish (fall fever is in FULL force). After picking up some random apples and sampling them, we tried some of the farm's delicious apple cider and apple pie- the only word for the pie is yum. I always enjoy going off campus, and this activity was a nice escape for my friends and me from the stress of school and college. 

 I'm not quite sure when my next post will be as I am cooped up at school until October 10th for parents weekend, and until then, I will be hitting the books and taking the SAT. That being said, follow me on my social media @lostbutntfound to see what's going on with me! xoxo Isabelle 

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