Monday, October 13, 2014

Products I DO NOT Recommend

Hey all! Way way way back when, I wrote a blog post about products I regret buying, and it got a ton of positive feedback, so I thought I would write up something similar. I only have five products to share, which, in the grand scheme of things, doesn't seem so bad. Nevertheless, here they are:

First up is the Garnier Fructis "Hi-Rise Lift", which is a volumizing spray for your hair. The idea is that you spray it onto your roots, rub it in a little, and the effect is supposed to be as if you backcombed/teased your hair. My issue is with the spray nozzle - it doesn't spray evenly! It comes out in a single stream of product, and you end up getting way too much in one spot on your head and it gets sticky.

Next is the Macadamia Rejuvenating Shampoo. This stuff SUCKS. It's overpriced, and doesn't do a thing. It doesn't clean your hair at all, no matter how much you use. My hair felt really matted and fluffy afterwards, instead of smooth and clean like I was hoping. I don't even like the scent. Overall, terrible product.

The Yes to Tomatoes Clear Skin Clay Facial Mask was a huge disappointment. I'm always drawn to the "Yes To" brand - they have really nice packaging and I like that their products are organized by skin type. I don't know how, but this mask left my skin feeling really oily. Also, it's hard to spread because the clay is so thick.

Soap & Glory "Clean On Me" is a raved about shower gel, but I couldn't find myself liking it. I felt like it left my skin dry and itchy, and the scent isn't great either. I'm not sure it really did a good job cleansing. Thankfully I only had this travel-sized version.

Finally, the Elizabeth Arden Refining Toner Lotion. I like using a toner before putting makeup on, just to prep my skin a little, but this one was not good at all. It left a gross film on my face after I applied it and I almost felt the need to wash my face afterwards. Bleh!

Luckily I got most of these products on-sale, but the fact that they actually retail for more than what I paid is unfortunate. Let me know what you think of these products if you've ever used them!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

My 2014 Fall TV Lineup

Sometimes I feel like there's nothing good to watch on TV, but this fall (for some reason) I have at least one show to watch every single weekday! That literally has never happened to me before, so I thought I'd share what I'm watching with you guys.

You'll notice I watch a lot of reality TV. I don't know why, but recently I've become really fascinated with competition-based reality shows. I'm taking a lot of media classes this semester and a lot of what I learn can be applied to these shows, so maybe that's why! If reality TV isn't your cup of tea, I'm not sure how interesting this will be for you haha.

The Voice: I used to lovelovelove watching The Voice, and then I got bored of it, but this season I decided to start watching it again. This girl whose covers I used to watch on YouTube is on this season - her name is Brittany Butler and she's on Team Pharrell, and she's so good! She's definitely my favorite of the season. The Voice is hands down the best singing show there is on TV. I love the anticipatory element of the chair turns, and the tension in the battle rounds (and the steal!).

How To Get Away With Murder: This. freakin'. show. is. so. good. It's Shonda Rhimes' new show about a murder law professor who takes her students on her cases with her and they have to help her find evidence and whatnot. It's so interesting and the show has so many different layers to it. It's only 3 episodes in so you can definitely find the episodes online and get caught up! It had me hooked right from the pilot episode.

The Amazing Race: I honestly just like watching The Amazing Race because I like seeing different parts of the world, and I like to imagine how well I'd do in the competitions. I don't watch it religiously or anything (it plays on Fridays after all), but it is fun to watch and sometimes the competition gets intense.

The Mindy Project: If you're going to indulge in one guilty pleasure sitcom this season, make it The Mindy Project. It's clever and hilarious, and I'm all for supporting women-driven television. Don't get me wrong, Mindy Lahiri is a definitely not a role model character, but the jokes are just so on-point. Mindy Kaling is one of my idols.

Survivor: I think I'm only watching this season of Survivor because last season was SO INTENSE and amazing, but so far it's been pretty "meh". I'm hoping it gets more interesting eventually. I'm not really a fan of the casting this season (how many pretty white blondes do we need?) but I'm still holding on...!

What are you watching this fall?

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Bedroom Decor Inspiration: Etsy

I have some fantastic news to report... My room re-decoration is FINALLY underway! I've been blogging about re-decorating my room for months, so this is kind of a big deal. I repainted my room and got new blackout shades, and slowly but surely I'm working on decoration. I've been getting inspiration off Etsy and Pinterest, so I thought I would share some of my finds. I'm not necessarily purchasing all of these things, but I like to keep track of what I'm drawn to so I can develop my tastes!

I have plans to make a mix-and-match gallery wall, and I want to include both photographs and mixed media prints. For some reason I was drawn to this one. It reminded me of some sort of chic adult version of "Up" and I loved the effect of it overlayed onto the newsprint. I've already ordered it - can't wait to see it in person!

I came across this sweet little bowl and I thought, instead of using it for berries, I could use it to place my keys and small jewelry items.

With a $1349 price tag, this branch chandelier is a smidge out of my price range (!), but I thought it was so cool. If I could afford this I swear I would buy it.

Is the mason jar fad over? Am I late on this? Well anyway, I love these. This shop sells hand-painted mason jars and the results are beautiful. I figured I could DIY something like this myself, but I have a feeling they could never turn out as lovely.

I came across this clock and thought, YES. I love the colors and texture. You can actually get these custom-made, and you can pick out the color of the hands and the frame.

How awesome are these ombre curtains? The blue color wouldn't match my room, but in an orange color they would look really great.

These glass bottles are stunning. I love the effect of the wood paired with the glass & copper hardware. So beautiful.

I am soo obsessed with terrariums and this dodecahedron one is perfect. Unfortunately it's out of my price range right now ($126.61) but I love it nonetheless.

Last but not least, I'm really liking this metallic lotus. It would look amazing on any blank wall and especially in my room in particular.

I'm honestly so happy Etsy exists because I think these pieces are so unique! I look forward to eventually purchasing a few more items :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Big Brother All Stars 2 Dream Cast

Finally, Big Brother season 16 has come to its anticlimactic end. In light of this terribly boring season, CBS needs to pump out All Stars 2 for BB17. It's time.

This season I was very hopeful for a cast of newbies, and although there were some great personalities in there, the lack of strategic gameplay took away from the season. It seems like the only remedy to this would be to bring in the vets. I decided to make a little "dream" All Stars cast. I kept the candidates to recent seasons only and left out houseguests who have been on more than one season.

  • Kathy BB12
  • Ian BB14
  • Derrick BB16
  • Russel BB11
  • Elissa BB15
  • Ronnie BB11
  • Dominic BB13
  • Shelly BB13
  • Nicole BB16
  • Cassi BB13
  • Natalie BB11
  • Jessie BB15
  • Hayden BB12
  • Donny BB16
  • Kalia BB13
  • Zach BB16

I think this is a good mix of beloved and hated houseguests. I'm really not okay with letting vile houseguests return, which is why I omitted Andy and Amanda and Aaryn and Frankie and others that do not deserve another chance to be on TV in my opinion (no matter how well they played or how much drama they caused). 

In hindsight I would probably switch out Hayden Moss for Lane or Enzo, because having 3 male winners in a season might be a bit excessive. I just really wanted to have the Brigade represented in one way or another because I felt like the Brigade was a 15x better Bomb Squad. 

I specifically wanted to bring back Cassi and Dom from BB13 because I thought they left way too early and they had so much potential and were essentially just victims of Rachel's drama. 

Honestly it was really difficult to make this list because the best Big Brother houseguests have already played this game twice or more before. So, if I were to make my true All Stars cast, it would go like this...

  • Dan BB10/14
  • Will BB2/7
  • Derrick BB16
  • Zach BB16
  • Donny BB16
  • Hayden BB12
  • Ian BB14
  • Frank BB14
  • Dani BB8/13
  • Rachel BB11/13
  • Janelle BB6/7/14
  • Elissa BB15
  • Jordan BB11/13
  • Kalia BB13
  • Britney BB12/14
  • Nicole BB16

This list includes 7 past winners so I think it's safe to say that it would be a freakin' showdown. I also put in some personal favorites like Kalia and Elissa. Let me know who you think should be asked back for All Stars (repeats or non-repeats) :)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Essential Tools for At-Home Manicures

Hey everyone! I thought I would bring it back to beauty for today's post and address why I don't get manicures. It's not that I don't like getting them, it's just that I do a pretty good job on my own! Also, I have way too many nail polishes in my collection to justify spending money on nails haha. Here are my must-have items for at-home manicures for those who feel a little guilty getting their nails done all the time.

1) A good base coat depending on your needs. For base coats, I need something with an adhesive property to it so that the nail polish will stick & last longer. Others might need strengthening base coats or ridge fillers. My base coat of choice is Orly Bonder - it has a rubberized finish that really fuses your nail color to the nail. On days where my nails are feeling a little brittle, I'll put on OPI Nail Envy before the Orly base coat. Nail Envy is a hardener that I've found works really well. I've been using it for years.

2) A good top coat. A lot of people have touted Seche Vite as the be-all end-all top coat, but I have my issues with it. For one, I feel like it gets gloopy about half-way through the bottle, and then you need to purchase their polish thinner in order to get the consistency back to normal! I think that's ridiculous. I think the Essie Fast Drying top coat works just as well, and it really is "fast-drying". It doesn't get gloopy quite as quickly as Seche Vite.

3) Color! The draw in doing your nails at home is to have a good array of different shades and colors to choose from, like you would at the salon. It makes changing your manicure every couple days fun & something to look forward to. I'm not saying you need to have a fully stocked rack like mine.... But it helps ;)

4) A straight-edge nail clipper. Having a straight-edge nail clipper changed my life. You know how most clippers come with a curved blade? Well, they sell ones with a straight blade. Of course it depends on how you like to shape your nails (if you prefer a round shape then this is no use to you). If you like straight nails then this is amazing to have. If you're new to at-home manicures I would suggest starting with a square nail because it's the easiest to maintain and (in my opinion) the cleanest shape.

5) A cuticle pusher or clipper. I think a cuticle pusher and/or clipper is essential. Not everyone likes removing their cuticles with a clipper, but at least invest in a pusher. I don't even take care of my cuticles every time I do my nails, but every once in a while it's important to push them down. It makes for a much cleaner manicure.

6) A multi-sided nail file. This multi-sided nail file is great. It serves so many different purposes. I use the extra-coarse side to file down my nails after cutting them, and the file nail edge to dull down the sharp finish of a freshly cut nail. If you have nail ridges there's a handy "smooth ridges" side to help you out.

7) Hand cream/cuticle balm. It's important to keep your cuticles healthy by using a hand cream or cuticle balm on them every so often, especially if you tend to pick your cuticles (bad habit!) or if you have dry hands in general. It'll make your manicure look so much better.

As a final point, it's important to practice! As with anything in life, doing your nails well requires repetition. If you do them often enough, you'll become good at painting nails even with your non-dominant hand.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Handling University Without Friends

Summer's over, which means the new school year and the imminent winter months are approaching fast. That thought alone is enough to make anyone miserable. For me, the main reason why I don't look forward to school anymore is because I don't have friends to share it with. My friends and I all embarked on separate paths going into university, so school days can get quite long.

My first tip on making the school year more bearable is to find a good spot that you're comfortable in, and that you can go to during your breaks. I personally don't like secluding myself in the library because I find it a bit depressing, so I pick the atrium in my building because it gets plenty of sunlight. People cycle in and out so there's some commotion, but it never really gets too noisy. If it does, I have my trusty noise-cancelling headphones with me anyway. Sometimes I sit at a table in the atrium for hours on-end because my train schedule unfortunately does not always coincide with my school schedule, so I usually arrive early and have time to kill.

During down-times, I make sure I have plenty to do. First and foremost, I get school work done. If you're in university chances are you have plenty of class reading. Staying on top of your readings will make you more at-ease when it comes time to prep for tests and essays, and you'll be able to keep up better in class. If you have a lot of time, taking notes on readings is a good idea because it helps you digest the information better. Personally, I need near-quiet to stay focused on readings so this is when noise-cancelling headphones really come in handy.

If by chance you don't have noise-cancelling earphones, I recommend downloading some ambient music that won't distract you from your studies, but will drown out the people around you. I use an app called Songza and type "studying" into the search bar, and the first option that comes up is "Studying (no lyrics)" and "Reading". From there, you can choose from 6 different playlist options.

The easiest and most common time-killer during long breaks is browsing social media, but after you've scrolled through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr feed, you'll need to find something else to do. I like to save social media for my train journeys to and from school because I can access it on my phone anyway. Personally, I prefer to be productive during my breaks.

What I mean by that is I like to be producing material, be it by typing up class notes, or even writing a blog post. After typing up a lengthy document I always tend to feel more accomplished. Getting organized is also a way to be productive: making to-do lists, writing due dates into your calendar, or putting together a reading schedule.

That said, I have to admit that as the semester goes on I tend to feel more lethargic. On those lazy days I equip myself with a tea or a latte, put on an audiobook, podcast, or even some music, and just relax. If you spend the majority of your school days without much social contact like I do, having an audiobook or podcast to listen to is amazing because it's like having someone tell you stories for potentially hours on-end. It's also really handy if you take public transportation trips that are more than say 20 minutes long.

That concludes my tips on handling university alone, but I should probably throw this in: make friends if you can! I can't deny that making friends is a good idea, but if you end up spending most of your time alone, try your best to make the most of it. :)