Raw & Rebellious: Turning Passion into Profit

Jewelry, the statement piece of any outfit. It’s a way to express yourself and sense of style. But do you ever wonder whose face is behind the beads? Last year, Sarah Smyth, a senior at Auburn University, realized her love for creating custom handmade jewelry and started her company Raw & Rebellious.

The Raw & Rebellious line of jewelry was established October 2016, but Smyth began making jewelry for the first time in June.

“My grandma and grandpa inspired me to create my line,” said Smyth. “They’re the ones who encouraged me to start trying to sell it after I made a few necklaces for myself.”

The name Raw & Rebellious is compelling and unique, resembling the aesthetic of each custom piece.

“I just felt that it described my line the most, was catchy, easily shortened (R&R) and described my style as well as the style I want to portray,” added Smyth.

There are many Instagram accounts dedicated to jewelry design, but Smyth tries to differentiate herself from other brands.

“It’s crazy how many girls my age are doing the same thing, so I try to make my jewelry as unique as possible,” said Smyth. “I don’t really follow any other jewelry accounts to keep it as original as I can and make things that I would wear myself.”

Smyth’s signature style is boho and edgy, so she creates necklaces that reflect her personality and stand out in a crowd.

“I love how my pieces look layered together,” she said. “Alone, they aren’t anything special, but throw three or four together and it seriously adds so much to any outfit.”

Business wise, Raw & Rebellious has flourished this past semester. Being a full-time student and owning a business has been challenging, but her hard work and diligence have paid off.

“I went from being in 5 boutiques to now being in between 15-18,” said Smyth. “It still is so crazy to me that so many people love and want to wear things that I make.”

Smyth describes what it feels like to see people back in her hometown wearing her jewelry.

“I’ve had girls come up to me when I’m out asking if I’m the ‘Raw & Rebellious girl’ which is pretty surreal,” she said.

Each week, Smyth makes hundreds of necklaces for individual customers and boutiques. The process is time-consuming, now that she mass produces each piece.

“I get up to 80 or so individual orders a week through my Instagram, and at least two or three boutique orders a week, so it can be very overwhelming,” added Smyth.

As a double major in rehabilitation and disability studies and Spanish, Raw & Rebellious is the opposite of anything she has ever done. “I love creating things that people enjoy and it’s been such an incredible learning experience for me,” said Smyth.

“I have some fun plans for the coming year that I think will infuse all my passions into one, and I can’t wait to show everyone what I have planned for the future.”

Be sure to follow @raw_rebellious on Instagram, for details on her latest styles and business inquiries!     

Lantana: A Pretty and Hardy Shrub

If you’re looking for a blooming powerhouse, lantana is your answer. This perennial deciduous plant, not only thrives with little moisture, but it does so with low effort. As spring is in full force, lantana is a beautiful plant to grow in your yard or garden. To understand the details and care for this plant, Neal Hargle, CountyExtension agent for Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests, discusses the different varieties and ways to maintain lantana.

Easy to Grow

“Lantana is one of the easier plants to grow,” said Hargle. “Plant in the spring after the last frost. Make sure the newly planted lantana gets plenty of water. Keep the soil moist.” There are about 150 species of lantana, with a full view of the sun being the best location for growth and survival. Lantana is a great choice of plant if you want to attract butterflies, or just need to add a bright splash of color to your garden. Lantana is covered with between two and three inches of clustered blossoms each summer. As the flowers grow in age, their blossoms change colors, which creates an ombré effect.

Pruning during the summer is an important part of maintaining lantana. “Cutting the tip growth will encourage new blooms,” said Hargle. “You can start the pruning back hard in the spring to get rid of old growth. Do not let the plant get too dry, because even though it is a good drought tolerant plant, drought can inhibit blooms.”

Even though lantana is a low maintenance plant, problems can arise if planted in the wrong location.

“Some of the problems could be sooty mold, root rot and powdery mildew if planted in too much shade,” said Hargle. “Insects such as caterpillars, lace bugs and mites cause issues as well.”

Lantana will grow best in shallow clay soils during the hot summer months. This plant is not native to Florida, but has become established there due to the warm temperatures and climate. They are salt-tolerant, which makes them abundant in beach communities. Along with gardens, many people choose to grow the plant in hanging pots, because their vine-like branches can spill over the side.

While beautiful to the human eye, lantana can be poisonous to animals. “It has a pungent aroma and taste that usually will deter animals,” claimed Hargle. “Lantana contains a toxin called lantadene. If an animal ingests too much of the foliage of this plant they can be diagnosed with lantana toxicosis. Signs of this could be sluggish, bloody diarrhea and loss of appetite.”

Overall, lantana is one of the most popular flowering shrubs and provides a colorful palette to any home garden or community near the coast.

Dishes by Delaney: Auburn’s Newest Cooking Connoisseur

Most college students stick to noodles or take out each night, but Delaney Burst, a junior at Auburn University, prefers a gourmet style meal plan.

Growing up in New Orleans, Burst has always had a passion for cooking and working in the kitchen.

“My parents are both incredible cooks, so they’ve had a huge influence on me,” said Burst. “I always cook with them and learn new things, but a lot of what I cook has been self-taught.”

Realizing her love for cooking during her sophomore year of college, Burst spends countless hours looking up recipes, ingredients and googling techniques. Since recently being diagnosed with Celiac disease, eating at restaurants and on campus has been challenging.

“Cooking at home is kind of part of my daily schedule requirements,” she said. “I try to plan my meals each week. I’ll normally pick out what I’m eating Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and then go to the store again later in the week for things I’ve thought about and wanted to make.”

Her favorite recipes to prepare are tacos and pasta.“I love that you can put pretty much anything you have in your fridge or freezer into them and they’ll still taste great,” said Burst. “Preparing healthy meals on a budget can be simple, with no hassle.”

Incorporating seasonal ingredients into your diet is a good way to make sure you’re always eating fresh.

As food Instagram pages began to grow in popularity, her friends encouraged her to make an account.

“Last fall it was getting a little cold and I started to crave chicken/sausage gumbo, which is a New Orleans favorite,” said Burst. “I spent about two hours on the phone with my dad getting instructions and a grocery list and started the creation. My roommates and friends were shocked that I was making such an intense dish in college, and suggested the idea to me.”

The Instagram account @dankdishesbyd features pictures and descriptions of every meal she prepares daily. Along with her growing social media page, Burst recently added a cooking show for the Auburn Plainsman to her schedule.

“For my cooking shows, I pick a recipe or a few together to cook on air,” she said. “I go to the grocery store and shop for all the ingredients and then I portion them out so it looks cleaner when it’s filmed.”

The shows are filmed weekly or once every two weeks, and air on Sunday nights. You can view the cooking series on the Auburn Plainsman YouTube Channel. Upon graduating next year, Burst hopes to attend culinary school.

“I’m a very social person, and love to share my recipes, so having my own cooking show would allow me to showcase both my personality and style,” said Burst. “I have applied for an internship at the Food Network this summer, so fingers crossed I get it, and that would be a great first step to achieving my goal.”

Her diligence and passion for creating exceptional dishes are already paving the way for a successful future. Be sure to follow her Instagram account @dankdishesbyd for some cooking inspiration, recipes and more!

Master Gardener Helpline Open for Business

The Alabama Master Gardener Program is an instructional program. It is designed to train volunteers in the subjects of horticulture, entomology, plant pathology and soils. The Master Gardener program was created to increase the availability of home horticultural information through qualified volunteers, and to improve community life with community projects.

To understand the depth of the program, Kerry Smith, an Alabama Extension Outreach Administrator, offers her insight and expertise on the Master Gardener Helpline. “The program is used to expand the outreach mission of Extension. It is an example of partnership between the land-grant universities, Auburn University, Alabama A&M and motivated volunteers interested in educating their communities,” said Smith.

Alabama Cooperative Extension System offices consistently receive calls concerning home grounds. Master Gardeners work in partnership with county and regional Extension agents to answer all requests. Master Gardener volunteer programs have been implemented all over the United States and in four Canadian provinces.

“The helpline has been in existence since 2006, as a statewide effort,” added Smith. “We’ve had more than 50,000 calls to the helpline statewide, and if we were to estimate separate county efforts prior to 2006, this number would probably double.”

To become a certified Master Gardener, Interns participate in a minimum of 50 hours of Extension training and 50 hours of initial volunteer service. Every volunteer contributes to the success of the program, by providing Extension outreach to the public. These Master Gardener volunteers are ACES partners, community educators, advisors and helpers. They offer the community reliable gardening information and educational opportunities. Volunteers help in the county office or they may provide an educational program for a civic group.

“Roughly 1,7oo volunteers reported hours last year,” said Smith. All volunteer service must be approved by the local Master Gardener Program Coordinator.

The Alabama Master Gardener Program is based on the idea of shared ownership. Extension staff and volunteers both share ideas, visions, dreams and responsibilities for the program. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with other Extension programs, federal agencies, state agencies, county agencies, local schools and organizations. All Master Gardeners represent Extension as educational resources for their communities. Their overall mission is to approve the quality of life where they volunteer.

Diamond Dolls: The Heart of Auburn Baseball

Spring semester is the time for fans to venture into Plainsman Park and enjoy the start of the 2017 Auburn Tigers baseball season.

Diamond dolls, a student organization, are the official hostesses of the baseball program. They are fan-based, working closely with Auburn Athletics Marketing during the games to carry out promotions and increase crowd interaction.

The interview process for Diamond Dolls consists of two rounds. The first round involves personality questions, to better get to know you. The second round is more baseball knowledge, and being able to understand the rules of the game. Some questions revolve specifically around the Auburn program. This season, 35 ladies were chosen to be a Diamond Doll, not including the six members of the executive committee.

The Diamond Doll organization has played an important part in senior Kaleigh Garner’s Auburn experience. “As a transfer student, Diamond Dolls has allowed me to meet a great group of girls, who share the same passion and love for baseball as I do,” she said. “I’ve been involved with Diamond Dolls for two seasons and love being able to interact with the fans and work hands-on with the baseball program.”

A typical game day involves either working the field or helping with pregame activities. “When we work the field, we rotate every two innings. We’ll either be in the home dugout, visitor’s dugout or in right and left field,” said Garner. “During the pregame we work as an usher, greeter, pass out programs or work in the baseball alumni room. We arrive at the field an hour and a half before the first pitch. Each game lasts about three hours unless there are extra innings.”

Philanthropy is another important part of this organization. Current Diamond Doll secretary and junior, Breanna Perkins, talks about supporting the Miracle League and fundraising. “The Miracle League is an organization that gives children with disabilities the opportunity to play baseball,” she said. “We volunteer at their games and fundraise for these events by hosting Benefit Nights.”

The baseball program is a close-knit community. “They truly care about the people that work the games,” said Perkins. “I met a teacher whose student was just diagnosed with Leukemia. The next day I was able to get him a signed poster by all the players, and I think that shows how they use their platform to do good.”

Diamond Dolls is a great way to get involved on campus. “Being a Diamond Doll, you have the opportunity to be intertwined within the baseball organization, all while bonding with girls that have the same interest as you,” said Perkins.

Gluten-Free Lifestyle: Is it Good for our Health?

Nowadays, you can’t go anywhere without hearing the words gluten-free. You may feel pressured to jump on this bandwagon diet that celebrities endorse.

Every grocery store, restaurant and many convenient stores offer a variety of gluten-free options to satisfy the growing popularity of this lifestyle. To understand what all the buzz is about, Dr. Onikia Brown, an Alabama Extension nutrition specialist, offers her insight and expertise on gluten-free living.

What is Gluten?

“Gluten refers to two proteins found in wheat, barley, rye and spelt: gliadin and glutenin. Gliadin is responsible for most of the negative health effects,” said Brown. “Gluten is found in many foods, not just those grains, because it helps to develop a chewy, satisfying texture.”

Most people tolerate gluten in their diet, but those who have Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy will not be able to digest it properly.

About 1 percent of the population has Celiac disease. People who have this disease have an autoimmune response to gluten proteins, where their immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine,” said Brown. Common symptoms include bloating, headache, joint pain and fatigue.

“Less is known about gluten sensitivity, which affects as many as 6 percent of the population,” said Brown.

Some experts believe gluten is not the cause of this condition, but rather FODMAPs. These are“short-chain carbohydrates found in many foods, including wheat, some fruits and vegetables, which can cause various digestive symptoms,” said Brown.

Foods to Eat and Avoid

Most everyone thinks that a gluten-free diet will help you lose weight. This is because foods that contain gluten have ingredients including added sugars, fats and preservatives. These ingredients are found in pizza, beer, desserts and snack foods, but there are also many high calorie gluten-free processed foods.

Brown said it is important to read and understand food labels to make informed decisions about food choices.

Gluten-free foods to include in your diet are fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, beans, lentils, peanuts, seeds, tree nuts and fresh fish. Avoid licorice, foods that contain modified starch, matzo, imitation fish, soy sauce, bouillon cubes and brown rice syrup.

The health of the gut bacteria directly impacts overall well-being,” said Brown.     

My Heartfelt Reflection

Wow, four years.

Looking back at my freshman self, I get pretty emotional. I keep envisioning this 18-year-old girl who was struggling for acceptance and trying to achieve this unrealistic idea of perfection. It was exhausting. I was naïve, lost and did whatever it took to fit in with everyone around me. There were some incredible times, where I laughed until I cried, and other days where I was crippled with the feelings of loneliness and rejection. Girls can be cruel, and sometimes you just have to follow your own path, and listen to your heart.

As I’m writing this, I can’t help but think back to Taylor Swift and one of her first songs “Fifteen.” I remember listening to it on my way to high school, the first day of freshman year. There was such fear not knowing what would happen when I got out of the car and walked through those doors. I had high expectations for that phase of my life, and again coming to Auburn in August of 2013. This song still resonates with me as I’m ending my college career, now that I’m able to reflect deeper on the meaning of those lyrics.

Like fifteen, when I turned nineteen I thought I was mature and ready to handle anything thrown my way. I fell in love too quickly and got wrapped up in a relationship that ultimately failed. To this day, I still struggle with the memories and backlash from that situation. If I could go back in time right now, I would tell myself to breathe and slow things down. When you’re nineteen and someone says they love you, you’re most definitely going to believe them. But there’s more to life, and when you’re finally about to turn twenty-two, God’s plan becomes much clearer.

At nineteen, love had no boundaries. I feel like most of us have experienced this kind of feeling once or twice before in our lives. We’ve all come across someone who, no matter how hard we try to deny it, has total control of our hearts. Then one day, that feeling may unexpectedly go away, and you’re consumed with deep sadness and confusion. The relationship becomes a memory and you can’t seem to pick up the pieces. We’ve all dealt with some form of darkness in our lives, and this was mine. It was the first time I lost control and felt like there was no way out.

But now, as I look back and think about these past four years, I don’t know if I would change anything. All the heartache and unbearable pain taught me a lot about the circle of life and that some things happen for a reason. These lessons molded me into the fun-loving, dedicated and confident woman I consider myself today. All the high points, beach trips, sorority functions and books full of photographs from over the years still bring me joy. Time flies by quickly, so don’t blink and soak up every moment of life’s precious sunshine.

We all make mistakes. We cry, we lie, we hurt. I’ve learned that forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. It’s realizing that our individual happiness is more important than any of our current or past burdens. One thing I know for sure is God only closes doors, to show us that he has something even more beautiful waiting for us around the corner. So keep pushing forward, because there’s nothing to regret.

Auburn, thank you for these memories and bittersweet goodbyes. It’s been one wild and adventurous ride.


Madison (the much wiser me)

Why Public Relations?

Transitioning into college life can be a big adjustment. Not only are you experiencing a new level of freedom, but there is an intense pressure to have your future planned the minute you step on campus for freshman orientation.

For me, I never had a passion for anything specific growing up. I always loved fashion, reading, writing and anything that allowed me to be creative, but I couldn’t quite decide which career path to follow once I got to college. Picking a major is a tough process, and at 18 years old, how does anyone know exactly who they want to be?

Many students apply to college as “undecided” and stay that way for several semesters. I changed my major three times, finally finding my niche in public relations by the end of my sophomore year. There’s nothing wrong with a little soul searching and taking some generic courses to determine your strengths and weaknesses.

Today, I want to explain why public relations means so much to me, and why it may be the perfect major for people who are lost in the pool of endless career possibilities.


People. They are the heart and soul of this field. Public relations wouldn’t exist without solid relationships built on the foundation of transparency and trust. I love being around new faces, working with others on projects and being in an atmosphere where every day is something new and exciting. Regardless of the company you work for or field you choose, learning how to communicate is one of the most important skills you can learn.

Broad. There are a variety of career paths you can take with a public relations degree. This includes publicity, agency work, social media manager, script writer, spokesperson and the list keeps on growing. As a public relations professional, you’re in charge of shaping the way the public views companies and organizations. Whether you prefer sports, entertainment, hospitality or food and beverage, there’s an opportunity to be exposed to many different industries and clientele. You’re not limited to one specific job in the PR world, so spread your wings and fly.

Intellectual. Okay, so a lot people think that public relations is just the easy way out, and doesn’t really challenge you academically. Those Debbie Downers couldn’t be more wrong. The curriculum is time consuming and tedious, with an emphasis on proper AP Style, word usage, grammar and spelling. You will take classes involving research, multimedia writing, case studies and work on forming campaigns for real clients. Each of these courses strengthen your writing ability and provide you with the tools necessary to land a dream job or internship, and excel in this fast-paced industry.

Creative. Let those artistic juices flow. Public relations revolves around storytelling and insight, which allows you to express yourself in many ways. There are product launches, advertising, events and creating and developing clever campaigns for companies. Creative thinking is at the core of PR and if you are able to craft ideas, you will always remain one step ahead of the competition.



Well, I hope this blog post has helped enlighten you on the different aspects of public relations and the positive impact it has had on my life, as I approach graduation. I know the process of picking a major may seem a little overwhelming, but just remember to follow your heart. If you do what makes you happy, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Here’s a video for tips to landing your dream PR internship. Take a look and see if this sparks your interest even more!

Spring Break 2017: Live in the Moment

Being a senior, with graduation only a few months away, I’m feeling as if life is escaping me at a rapid pace. College has been a journey of self-discovery, with many road blocks and prayers to figure out God’s plan and purpose for my life. The challenge of finding a job or choosing to further my education is overwhelming me with chaos and fear. I’m growing up, whether I would like to or not, so I must embrace this next phase of life, by rejoicing in the opportunities that lie ahead.

Even though adulthood comes with excitement and this lovely thing called independence, there are many cons involved with growing up. Some include, not being able to wear an XL t-shirt everyday, filing taxes and balancing a checkbook, not receiving that generous monthly allowance from your parents (dad is secretly jumping for joy), and not living next door to your bestie. All of these things make me wish I was still in elementary school and wearing Hannah Montana pajamas. The worst downside of the “real world” though, is not being given a much-needed hiatus to the madness. Yes, I’m totally referring to spring break.

So, instead of wiping away my *anxiety* tears for the future, I’m going to live in the moment and pretend like I’m still 16 with a fast metabolism this week. Spring break forever? You bet. I have put together goals, objectives, strategies and tactics to ensure that my last college spring break is the best one yet.

Goal: To make the most of my last road trip. 

Saturday morning, my best friend Paige and I are making our way to Seaside, FL for some much needed rest and relaxation at the beach. Girls just wanna have sun, right?

Objective 1: To try at least 3 new activities throughout the week. Traveling to the beach has been our favorite weekend vacation spot, whenever my friends and I need a breath of fresh air from school.

Strategy: Rent bikes in Seaside. This is a great way to exercise and burn off all those extra food calories that come with traveling. Who doesn’t love a cute baby blue bike with a basket?

Tactic 1: Research the best spots to ride our bikes so we can take pictures to post on Instagram.

Tactic 2: Ride up and down the coast, letting the sweet breeze blow through our hair.

Objective 2: To save money and spend 85% of our time at the beach or by the pool.

Strategy: Stay off social media during the day and budget ourselves.

Tactic 1: Enjoy each other’s company and treasure the time we have together before the final weeks of school consume our schedules.

Tactic 2: Buy snacks and lunch food ahead of time at Publix. There is no need to pay high prices for meals during the day, when we can pack a cooler full of water, fruits and sandwiches to bring to the beach.

Objective 3: To try at least 5 new restaurants along highway 30A.

Strategy: Create a list of food choices in the area.

Tactic 1: Research our restaurant picks on Yelp and Urbanspoon to see the ratings and which places people recommend.

Tactic 2: Take pictures of our meals, to document the experience and make mom jealous.

So, after all the planning and putting my goals into action, there’s no reason this beach trip won’t meet my expectations. This may be the most sentimental spring break of them all, but I’ll be sure to live in the moment and keep these memories close to my heart.

All The Single Ladies… On Valentine’s Day: The Complete SWOT Analysis

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Okay ladies, now let’s get in formation! Put your hands up for the most wonderful time of the year! Well, maybe cue a little sarcasm and dramatic eye roll… but I’m mostly referring to the chocolate. This may be the only day you’re constantly reminded just how L-O-N-E-L-Y you are, but I’m here to confess there’s some positives to being single and ready to mingle! Check out the complete SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis below!


NO dressing up.  Thank goodness, am I right? Instead of wearing a skin-tight dress and 6″ inch heels, you can put on baggy sweats. This outfit is much more suitable for the large cheese pizza you’ll be engulfing on the couch, while drooling over Matthew McConaughey in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. There is always strength in delicious food and comfy clothing.

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You save money.  Not having a significant other equals a happy bank account. You don’t have to worry about buying expensive cologne, basketball tickets or whatever it is your man can seriously live without. Trust me, you’re probably already too broke to be buying him a gift in the first place. Cha-Ching. Hear that? It’s the sound of your savings.



No gifts for you.  HA. Says who? Even though you may not be receiving any Godiva chocolate or flowers from your special someone, who says you can’t buy your own? Go ahead and love yourself, by purchasing the largest bag of chocolate you can find. Nope, I ain’t sorry. 

Image sourced via tumblr.com

You’re flying solo.  Okay, sometimes it’s hard to accept that you’re the only single friend of your friend group. Bummer. It’s just a harsh reality that most of your favorite gals will be occupied on February 14. Treat yourself to a nice spa day, or catch up on some work to pass the time. Or maybe indulge in some chocolate, to numb the pain?

* film Reese Witherspoon legally blonde this has been in my drafts so long omg ew


Galentine’s Day.  It’s time to forget about the entire male species, and celebrate this sappy holiday with all your single ladies! I’m thinking wine… plus more wine. Throw in some pizza with board games, and you have a party. There’s no pressure, so just enjoy each other’s company and do what your sweet little heart desires.

Feeling v conflicted emotions today. The net result of those first GIFS =

Candy is half off starting on the 15th.  I have just died and gone to chocolate heaven. Cupid, thank you for sharing the love. Being single isn’t so bad after all!



The “I promise you’ll meet someone” convo.  Let’s be real. Valentine’s Day can be super depressing without a lover. You’ll probably start crying your eyes out to your mom or friends, wanting to know why you don’t have a ring on your finger at age 22. Let’s not be so dramatic. *Eye roll*

Being the only single friend.  Hey, don’t cry! Being the only single gal in your circle of friends may feel like a threat, but everything happens for a reason. Enjoy all the time you have to yourself, and focus on being the best version of YOU. Mr. Right is just around the corner, promise! 

one direction niall horan little things love yourself listen to the leprechaun

Saskdraws love heart i love you hearts