Gear Up for Back-to-School

I love, love, love the back-to-school season! While my days as a student are in the past, I enjoy checking out cute new school supplies and picking up a few things for my office along the way.

Of course, back-to-school shopping involves a whole lot more than crayons and composition books. Every summer, I enjoy researching and featuring fun new products in television segments. Here a few of the things I am showing this year. Television segments and this post are sponsored by the featured companies.

Amy Sewell

For students who want to replace a thin, lumpy dorm mattress, Mattress Firm has a great deal on this tulo liv “mattress in a box.” Through September 10, you can use your student ID or .edu email address to get this in twin, twin XL, full, or queen size for just $299.

The security features of Nokia’s 4.2 and 2.2 smartphones make them super-attractive for students. Both feature biometric face unlock and, since they are Android One devices, you also get regular security updates and new Google features. A dedicated Google Assistant button also makes it easy to keep track of hectic schedules.

For people with food allergies, MadeGood’s tasty snacks are ideal for lunch boxes or after-school treats. Since they are free of nuts, dairy, eggs, and other common allergans, they are “school-safe” in districts that restrict the types of snacks that can be brought into the classroom. This season, whenever you buy their (yummy!) Crispy Rice Squares, or their Chocolate Chip or Mixed Berry Granola Bars, you get a code for $10 off Mabel’s Labels - making it easy to keep track of water bottles, lunch packs, and more.

When everyone is back to work and back to school, getting dinner on the table at a reasonable hour is sometimes a bit chaotic. To solve this challenge, I am a huge fan of meal kits! You get pre-measured, pre-packaged ingredients delivered to your door - along with recipes - once a week, so all you have to do is open the package, follow the directions, and cook. No shopping, planning, or running to the grocery store involved. Scott and I have used both HelloFresh (pictured above) and EveryPlate. The recipes are amazing and they fit our not-so-traditional schedules. For those weeks when we will not be home in the evenings or might be travelling, we can just skip the week with no problem or cost! As a bonus, meal kits are a great way to try new dishes and recipes that we otherwise might not have tried.

As much as I love to cook, on some busy evenings, the choice is between heating up leftovers in the microwave or getting takeout. For those occasions, Scott and I have several of Omaha Steaks’ new frozen, single-serve meals in the freezer. With savory varieties such as Bourbon-Glazed Brisket with Ancient Grains and Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Bow-Tie Pasta, there is something for just about any taste. On evenings we both work late, whenever we’re ready for dinner, I just pop them in the microwave - and dinner is served in about five minutes!

Sneakers are at the top of many back-to-school lists, and SKECHERS always has super-fun shoes to suit any style. The wide range of light-up shoes is fabulous, but my personal favorites this year are the Twinkle Toes Mix ‘n Patch shoes that come with stick-on emojis you can rearrange to match your mood.

Happy shopping!

Getting Campus Ready for Fall

After living in Manhattan for 22 years, living and working in small spaces comes pretty naturally to me.

If we buy something new, something else needs to go. When space is limited, that adage applies to a new pair of shoes, new coffee mugs, and sometimes, even something as simple as a box of cereal!

Each summer, I work with Bed Bath & Beyond - which is sponsoring these TV segments and this post - to share tips for making the most of limited space in student housing. Along with our daily life in Manhattan, doing these segments helps keep my small-space decorating skills sharp.

Dorm rooms are tiny, so finding a way to use every bit of precious space is a priority. These extra-deep underbed storage drawers enable you all of the space underneath a twin bed. Hanging organizers for the closet, backs of doors, and even around the base of the bed keep clothing, supplies, toiletries, and snacks in their place.

Mattresses in campus housing may not be the most comfortable, but you can do a lot to make them feel like home. A mattress protector that completely encloses the mattress is a great first layer, especially for people with allergies. I’m a big fan of this thick foam mattress topper as well. Two inches of memory foam make it comfy - plus it has a layer of cooling gel that is especially nice for dorm rooms. The anti-microbial (read: anti-odor) properties also make them perfect for the dorm room setting.


To stay connected, wireless charging pads keep gadgets juiced up and ready to go. A cleverly-designed surge protector power strip with USB ports and rotating outlets allows you to use every outlet. For students who always need their phone close at hand, this shower tote even has a cell phone pocket!

To make it easy to get your stuff to college, Bed Bath & Beyond has a free Pack & Hold service that lets you shop at a store close to home, but pick up your order at the store close to college. I can personally attest to the genius of this, as I had so much stuff filling my parents’ van when I moved away to college that there was barely enough room for me to squeeze in. The service saves times and money, which often seem to be in short supply as the new school year begins.

Happy shopping!

Happy School Year!

Where we live in New York, school just got out for the summer a couple of weeks ago.

But in the rest of the country, most school districts are gearing up for the new year.  I love this time of year because I have so much fun checking out all of the new school supplies.  I always end up buying a lot of them for my work, because hey - you're never too old for a sequined notebook!

Here are a few of the ideas I am sharing on TV shows this season for Office Depot/OfficeMax, Jif and Smucker's, and Mattress Firm.  They are sponsoring these segments and this post.

How cute is this Unicorn Backpack Set?

These "reversible" sequined notebooks!  (Where were these when I was eight?)

I don't think you ever get too old for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (especially with an ice cold glass of milk).  While some people may prefer the peanut butter on its own, for many kids, it's better together with the jelly.  For something moms and kids can agree on, try Jif Creamy Natural Peanut Butter (only five simple ingredients!) with Smucker's Natural Strawberry Fruit Spread.  To mix things up a bit, you can also try more creative recipes beyond the traditional PB&J sandwich.  Yum!

After a long summer of staying up late and sleeping in, getting into a regular sleep routine for back-to-school can be a bit of a challenge.  Since educators and sleep experts agree that children who sleep better learn better, they often recommend easing into the new year by moving up bedtime by 10 or 15 minutes each night until you reach your goal bedtime.  Having a good mattress is also part of a healthy sleep routine, and Mattress Firm has a back-to-school special from July 25 through August 14 with deals for the entire family.

Happy New Year!



Photos from Office Depot, Smucker's, and Mattress Firm.

Getting Campus Ready

For many years after graduating from college, I moved into progressively smaller spaces.

My first apartment was a 1,200 two-bedroom shared with a roommate.  I then moved on to a series of 900-square-foot one-bedroom apartments, and then into a 600-square-foot studio.  

Then, I moved to New York City - the land of 200-square-foot studio apartments.

We now occupy 700+ square feet - which feels like a veritable mansion to me.  But those small space decorating skills honed in college certainly paid off long after I finished my degree.  I still keep in practice every year working with Bed Bath & Beyond, which sponsors a series of television segments - and this post - featuring ideas for decorating dorm rooms that are both stylish and functional.

Amy Sewell.jpg

Here are a few of the ideas I am sharing for them on TV segments this month:

You can find more items - and tons of ideas and inspiration for organizing tiny spaces - on Bed Bath & Beyond's college website.


Sunday Stories

This Sunday Stories feature has been on a bit of an unplanned summer hiatus.  Between being on the road for work most of the summer, and hitting the books for my own graduate classes each and every day, I've fallen a bit behind on this.

As summer vacation for most people winds down - and I have a week before fall media tours and classes begin again - Sunday Stories returns this week, and hopefully for many more Sundays to come.  Instead of focusing exclusively on stories from the last week, here are a few highlights from the last couple of months.

Alley outside Brattle Book Shop, West Street, Downtown Boston.

Alley outside Brattle Book Shop, West Street, Downtown Boston.

Do your reading habits change with the seasons?  I don't think mine depend so much on the season as much as what I need to focus on for work and school.

Books are also top of mind for colleges that distribute summer reading lists to their students.  Here are the most popular books that appeared on those lists this summer.

Did you take a summer vacation?  Scotland is high on the list of places Scott and I want to go.  If this post from Aspiring Kennedy doesn't make you want to drop everything and trek to the Isle of Skye this very minute, I don't know what will.

Srsly?  I don't know one person who will hire you if you do this.

Lemon desserts are my fave, and my mom's lemon bar recipe is one of my favorites.  But this one looks like it will become a new addition to my recipe collection.

If you blinked, you missed The Spotted Cheetah - a Cheetos pop-up restaurant.  Because we all need to eat more junk food, right?

Your guide to popular places to Instagram from in New York City.  You're welcome..

Apparently, I am not the only person who tries to figure out the floor plans of fictitious homes and offices on movies and TV shows.

Finally, you can definitely count me in the category of people who just love it when autumn rolls around.

Have a lovely week!