Mayvorites 2014

 MAY FAVORITES

This is my very first ‘favorites’ post. Part of me thinks it is kind of narcissistic to assume that you give a flying turd what I liked most this month but I really enjoy this kind of post and since you decided to read this, maybe you do too.

While I was compiling this list I was thinking about the things I either discovered this month or the things that I have really been using or enjoying for the past four weeks. And what is the true test of how much you like a product? How about the desire to truck an item 2,000 miles across the country? With the exception of a few, these products made the journey with me, from Georgia to the California coast.

1. Out the Door Top Coat

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Holy smokes, am I glad I bought this! After complaining on FB that I was in danger of ruining my freshly painted nails, several friends recommended that I try Seche Vite. Whilst in my local Sally’s Beauty Supply, a very helpful sales associate suggested that I try Seche’s competitor, which you see here. Granted, I have no experience with SV to compare but I love this topcoat! I still give my nails a solid 3 or 4 minutes to completely set after using this top coat. However, that’s just me being precious with my paint job; after using Out the Door they are dry (and shiny!) in one or two minutes, without any tackiness.

2. NYX Retractable, Waterproof Eye Liner in Lime Green

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For a long time, I was eager to recreate this look from Pinterest:

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All I was missing was a green eyeliner that would work on my lower waterline. I found a great product in NYX. What really rocks about this liner is how perfectly it sets. While writing this I have a swatch on my hand that will not budge not matter how much I rub it, however “waterproof” is a very generous way to describe it. Considering I paid less than $5 for this liner, I am really impressed with the quality and I find myself reaching for it often.

If you are interested, here is my attempt to recreate the Pinterest look (please ignore my Bushman eyebrows, I’m holding off on brow maintenance so I can create a fresh shape):
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3. Denman Grooming Brush

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This brush was, more or less, an impulse buy. I knew that I wanted a paddle brush and I always try to go for boars bristle to help distribute my hair’s natural oils but I had no idea how invaluable this brush would become to me. I use it every single day. It’s nice to have a brush that isn’t a round brush to smooth out my hair. The two types of bristles are great for smoothing out my hair and (once again) distributing natural oils. I don’t notice any fizziness generated by the brush *WIN* even after I use dry shampoo.

4. Olay Regenerating Serum

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I have used this product every day since I purchased it. I think it has really made a difference in the appearance of my skin. After washing my face I use 3 or 4 pumps (which is probably too much, but I DON’T CARE!) to cover my face and neck. The purpose of a serum like this is to allow your skin to better absorb moisturizer. The serum molecules are smaller so your skin can drink them right up. Following winter, my poor face was so dehydrated and this product has made a huge difference in getting rehydrated. Plus, it’s never too soon to start preventing wrinkles.

5. Bare Minerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Get Ready

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A few months back, I received a sample size of this lipstick, either in an Ipsy bag or Birch box, I don’t remember, and I have a major heart on for it. Normally I’m a lipstain/balmstain kind of gal but I have really been getting into normal tube lipsticks. This one is a great rosy shade. It isn’t in-your-face pigmented but it is not sheer either and it is oh-so-creamy. If this lipstick isn’t in my apron at work it is definitely in my purse because it is complimentary to most eye looks and it adds just the right amount of color if I’m having a lazy, minimal makeup kind of day

6. Orbit Tropical Remix Gum

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A girl I work with introduced me to this gum and it is so flavorful and juicy! I can’t get enough, that’s why I buy it in three packs at Target.

7. Revlon Define False Lashes

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Here we have another impulse purchase. I was drawn to the minimalist packaging when I spotted them in Rite Aid. Since I love lashes, it wasn’t hard to convince myself to adopt them and give them a loving home. Unlike other eyelash pets, these are not too furry, they just add a little drama. Okay enough with the animal analogy… but for serious, the band is really thin so it disappears into your lash line and I didn’t have to cut them down to fit my eyes–what more could I ask for?

8. Bath and Body Works candle in American Boardwalk scent

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Great balls of fire, this candle is like a narcotic! It is soooooo good! If you were lucky enough to smell B&BW’s Pumpkin Pecan Waffle last fall then you have an idea of how amazing this candle smells. Bath and body claims that the scent is salty sweet cream, caramel popcorn and taffy apples. I don’t know about all of that, but I do know that this scent is a delight! FYI, I checked the website and all they have left are the wallflowers….

9. Random.org

Maybe this is an odd favorite to have but this website/app really came in handy when I was studying for finals at the beginning of the month. The gist is this: you enter in the number parameters, for example, 1 through 100, and then the program generates a true random number for you based on the parameters you set. How did this help me study? I would give each topic, subtopic, and term on my study guide a number and then I would use random.org to generate a number. Without looking at my notes, I would try to remember what I needed to know on that topic. This helped because, whenever I would simply go down my study guide in chronological order, it wasn’t as difficult to remember. Whereas reviewing randomly didn’t allow me to use context clues. Mostly I utilized this system to study for my American History final.

10. SoniasTravels Youtube Channel

I have been a subscriber to this Youtube channel for a few months and every Thursday I look forward to a new vid. Sonia has great information and tips for packing and traveling. Travel and ‘what’s in my suitcase’ videos are some of my favorite kinds and I just love Sonia’s personality! Her tips were especially useful to me since I only had like a day to pack before I left for Cali. You can find her videos here.

Not that you asked but…
  • I didn’t eat barbeque on Memorial Day but I did spend the day with my favorite veteran, my grandma, and I did get a little sunburnt on my back.
  • Yesterday, I met a homeless man named Larry. He gave me a CD.
  • Nothing feels as good as chucking the Nikes that gave me a big ‘ole blister on my heel straight into the garbage bin!
  • Jason Derulo’s song, Talk Dirty to Me, is stuck in my head. Happily. 😎
  • I had In-N-Out Burger for lunch, are you jelly?

I hope you had a great Memorial Day, what did you do?

If you enjoyed this post, please let me know in the comments below!

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The Less, the More: Minimalism and Adding Value

I did something scandalous today.

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I threw out all of my unmatched socks.

Okay, maybe that action does not strike you as dramatic but it was an important step for me. For a long time I had a special designated spot, a box in the corner of my room, where I stored all of my socks that lost their mates. I kept expecting for those missing socks to return from Narnia or the Matrix or where-ever and validate my ridiculous choice to hold on to so much worthlessness.Image

Maybe I held onto them because I genuinely expected those missing articles to turn-up (unlikely). Or perhaps I kept them in some misguided effort to “be green” because, maybe, someday, possibly, they could serve a purpose (even less likely). Any which way, someday has yet to come and those socks have got to go.

Does that sound at all familiar?

This post is a long time coming, I think. For months I have been almost obsessed with reading blogs and watching Ted Talks and YouTube videos by Minimalists. After following my dear friend Nitasha’s blog posts about her experience with a minimalist fashion challenge, I am feeling motivated to share my interest with you (you can read about Nitasha’s experience here).

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So what exactly is minimalism? The best way I can describe it is not with my own words. According to Colin Wright, self-described author, blogger, entrepreneur, and traveler,

What Minimalism is really all about is reassessment of your priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff – the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities – that don’t bring value to your life.

Minimalism means different things to different people, in different measures. Some minimalists enjoy living with as few possessions as possible (I’m talking, 50 to 100 worldly possessions) to facilitate a nomadic lifestyle. Others focus on eliminating distractions so that they can focus on what is most important to them. What Colin Wright so aptly describes is that the most important thing about minimalism is finding true value.

What value is there in a closet full of clothes that you never wear? What value is there in having an attic or storage unit filled with crap that you never see, let alone utilize? What value is there in having 1,000 Facebook friends you don’t know or don’t like versus 75 people you enjoy sharing with and love?

What I, at this very moment, realized is that my primary goal in embracing minimalism is to free myself of guilt. Guilt over not wanting to keep a gift that a loved one gave me. Guilt over not wearing a piece of clothing or  jewelry that reminds me of an experience or person. Guilt over the money I spent buying things I don’t need and don’t use.

What I have found is that when I eliminate these items from my life, the guilt disappears. I can keep my memories and keep my gratitude without burdening myself with stuff that I have literally carried through my life for no reason.

My other goal is to get rid of excess to open myself up to new experiences and opportunities. A smaller wardrobe filled with only the pieces that I love and actually use means smaller laundry piles. I don’t feel guilty for having spent too much money on a trendy item I will never wear again. I no longer have an over-packed closet that I just can’t seem to keep organized. By reducing my desire to consume I save money and time that I can better use to add true value to my life.

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Don’t get me wrong, I have miles to go. I mentioned in a previous blog that I recently reevaluated and purged movies and CDs. Since then I have gotten rid of books, even more clothing, and jewelry. My next plan of attack is to sell my vinyl record collection and my record player. I really appreciated these things when I first bought them but it has been years (literally!) since I have listened to them.

To me, my foray into minimalism is not about punishing or depriving myself. To me this is about freedom, freeing myself from my additction to consumerism.

My biggest challenge has been parting with the things that I spent good money on. I does hurt to know that some of things I am parting with were a waste of money. More guilt. I console myself that, according to the economic principle of Opportunity Cost, money spent in the past should not be a factor for decisions I make today. What matters are the choices I make going forward.

I know that I could utilize Craigslist or eBay to make money off of some of the things I am getting rid of but, to me, the value of making a little bit of money is not worth the effort. However, I have been selling some of my clothes through another party, the wonderful Embellish Plus Boutique, a local plus-size consignment store. Also, I did trade Movie Stop my unwanted DVDs in exchange for a $50 credit.

I have also found tremendous value in giving. I took a large box of books to the local court house and jail because I know that the people who will find the most value in them are the inmates who are doing their time inside.

All of this is to say that I encourage you to evaluate your surroundings and find a way to maximize the value of what you own. I don’t judge my fellow fashionistas who revel in a fabulous closet or collectors who delight in their hobbies, whatever makes you happy. I only wish to share that minimalism is making me happy and if you, like me, long for a decluttered, organized, and simplified existence, then I encourage you to experiment with minimalism. It feels really good and the risk is….

minimal.

I would really and truly love to hear your thoughts.

What is something that you have eliminated from your life that has added value to your existence?

Or maybe you have added value through acquiring something?

Comment below and let me know!

Not that you asked but:

  • Death Proof is playing on IFC (Independent Film Channel), what a great movie!
  • I having been going ham on Target brand string cheese
  • Having today off of school to celebrate MLK Day is awesome!
  • On February 15th, minimalist author/bloggers Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are bringing their lecture tour to Atlanta. To reserve seats or look up your city, check out their website www.theminimalists.com

10 Tips to Dominate in College : ‘Cuz As are Beautiful!

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It is time to get into gear for a new semester. Classes start back for me on Monday. I’m really excited for the classes I’m taking this semester (Spanish, Sociology, History, Women’s Studies).

Getting good grades is really important to me now but this has not always been the case.

Anyone who knew me in high school (and middle school, for that matter) knows that I was a terrible student. I was a truant. I did not like school; I could not see the value. So I didn’t go. Somehow I made it out with my diploma (I can really thank my mom for that, without her encouragement I would have dropped out).

But now that has all changed. Maybe because I’m older and wiser. Maybe because of the financial burden of getting a higher education. Maybe because I really do want to be educated and I’m not restrained by the demands of a school board and required curriculum anymore.

Anyway, I want to share with you my strategies for scholastic success.

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1. Sit in the front row (or the second row if you are unbearably uncomfortable in the very front). Seating is the first choice you will make in each new class. Choose the front. By sitting in the front you will not be as likely to be distracted. Not only will you be able to see and hear better, you will be surrounding yourself with students who won’t distract you and who are focused on being engaged.

Students who sit in the back are more likely to talk and text on their cell phones. Who do you think will be more likely to catch you up if you miss something?

2. During the first week, exchange contact info with two students in each class. I like to do this on the first day. After class ends, as everyone is gathering their things to leave, I turn to someone who looks reliable and ask if they would like to trade e-mail addresses. The key is to pay attention to your fellow students during that first class. I figure if someone is engaged while we are just going over the syllabus, that person will be engaged when it’s time to take notes.

I think this is so important. Not only is this a good first step towards making a new friend but this person might save your butt when you lose your class notes or if an emergency prevents you from attending an important class. This leads me to my next tip:

3. Attend every class you possibly can. Reading through a power point or reading someone else’s disjointed notes cannot take the place of class time. Duh, right? Professors get paid for a reason. Professors are not as forgiving towards students with poor attendance. So go, build a relationship with your instructor and get the information you need directly from the horse’s mouth.

This should be common sense but students get complacent when the weather is poor or they don’t feel well (read: hung-over). Here’s what I say to that: get over it!

There is one scenario, however, when I feel that it is acceptable to miss a class (outside of a legitimate illness or emergencies). That is when you know, without a doubt, that you will not be missing out on important information AND that you will spend that time studying for another class. The key here is balancing a class you’re doing well in with a class you are struggling with.

4. Keep you cell phone in your pocket or purse. Not only are phones a distraction but it is supremely rude to be texting while your professor is teaching. Most instructors have a no-cell-phone policy so don’t be a douche. Put your cell on silent and don’t look at it.

5. Repetition and studying efficiently. When comes down to the brass tacks of studying they key is to repeat, repeat, repeat. This is how the brain works. This is why we remember for the jingles from commercials: repetition. Even just glancing at something makes you more likely to remember.

 What I like to do is briefly review my notes after every class. When it comes time to study for exams I have already prepared at least twice (the first time in class, the second time when I reviewed).

 Be efficient. Studying for too long will fry your brain and you won’t retain as much information. After 45 minutes take a break, watch a YouTube video, listen to music, have a snack. But after 15 minutes have passed, get back to it.

 My other tip is to go through your notes in reverse, starting with the most recent. The things you have most recently learned have not had as much time to soak into your brain. Go over these first and work your way backwards.

 6. Form a study group. This is a good time to utilize the contact information you gathered during the first week. Reach out to your class mates and set up a time to meet. Try to keep your group to a maximum of three or four people. First of all, some people will always flake so don’t waste your time coordinating with too many people. Second, trying to get five or six people to focus on one thing will be inefficient (unless you break up into smaller groups).

 PS. Don’t invite the class clown, he or she will just provide distractions and your group won’t get anything accomplished.

 7. Research papers and semester projects. The key here is to do as much as you can, early. I know, I know, just thinking about big projects makes me want to take a big nap but you will thank yourself later if you prepare early.

When it comes to research papers, I create a folder in computer documents to store PDFs whose titles apply to the research topic. I don’t necessarily read these PDFs but I go ahead and save them so that when it comes to time to really dig in I’m not hunting for information. I also create a bookmarks folder on my web browser to save websites that will help me.

Do as much research as you can so that you will have plenty of information to write about and then pare it down to a specific topic.

8. Partner with your professor. Ask questions, send an email, and let them know by sitting in the front row and being engaged that you are putting in effort to do well in their class. Most professors want their students to do well and learn but they won’t be lenient or be as willing to make exceptions for students who never show and who don’t put in any work.

 When taking notes, underline or highlight whatever your prof. stresses. You can bet that the definitions or information that they took the time to embolden will be on the test.

 If you cannot understand an exam question, approach your instructor and explain why you are confused. They can point you in the right direction. I have even had professors who will confirm or deny if an exam answer is correct before I turn it in.

 Professors are people too. They will be more likely to do things for the people they have relationships with (no funny business, lol).

9. Use every resource. Of course, there’s Google and even Wikipedia to supplement your notes and textbooks but I like to use my school’s library webpage. You can access it from home by logging in with your student ID. You can conduct a general search, go through the databases by subject or select a particular database to search in.

 You can of course use this method to gather research for papers.

 A few that have been very helpful to me are JSTOR and Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

 There’s also YouTube! Everybody loves movies. They can make a subject more interesting and they can be a great tool for learning. I have watched great vids on history, lectures from Berkley and Harvard professors, and Ted Talks by the some of the very people that I was learning about.

 There are also websites dedicated to students. I like Studyblue (a digital flashcard website), Dropbox (2 GBs of free cloud storage), and Khan Academy (free online classroom with a variety of subjects), to name a few.

10. Learn, excel, enjoy. Get excited. Be in the moment.

I repeated this mantra to myself over and over again during my first semester back in to school. I wrote it at the top of my notes, on my hand. It really helped to constantly remind myself of my primary goals for being in school.

These are some of the best practices I have found for doing well in college. There are no shortcuts to As, just less rocky paths.

So here’s to another semester! Good Luck 😉

Do you have any tips or tricks to getting As? Leave a comment. I really would like to know!

Not that you asked but…

  • We’ve had record low temperatures in Metro-Atlanta this week, and yet it is time for “spring” semester
  • I just received the gorgeous candle I ordered from Neiman Marcus. It’s called Crane Flower by Valuspa and I’m in love with it!
  • Braveheart is on TV so I’m practicing my Scottish accent—poorly, I might add.
  • I have successfully gone through all of my DVDs and sold about half of them to Movie Stop. I did the same with my CD collection but CD Warehouse only bought three of them….I guess I should try to sell the rest but maybe I should just give them to Goodwill.