Friday, February 21, 2014

Surviving MIDTERMS: How To Take Studying to the Next Level


MIDTERMS are just around the corner for most people, and in another 12 weeks or so FINALS will be here and then the semester is OVER!! It’s like sets of waves coming into the shore; there’s usually a couple small ones followed by a big one, over and over again. For now, we can look forward to several stressful weeks coming up, followed by another couple stressful weeks in May before we’re granted our freedom to enjoy summer- BBQ’s, baseball (Go Giants!), beach trips, bare feet, and….badminton. (OKAY, maybe not the last one, but halfway through that I realized they were all things that started with B, and I ran out of good ones. Oh well.) Until then, we can look forward to weekends spent in social Siberia, drowning in homework and projects, studying like crazy and working our butts off.

Ever since Elementary school we’ve been lectured about the “right ways to study” and take tests. Most of us have been in school longer than we haven’t been in school. For people like me, you’ve been in school a loooong time. At twenty five years old, I’ve been in school for 18 of those years!! Can you believe that! (and with Grad school a requirement for my major/profession, It’s going to be many MANY more!) But one thing’s for sure; most of us have to study for tests at some point. We may think that because we’re practically professional at being a student by this point, we know exactly how to study. But the truth of the matter is that most of are missing some of the best resources and information that could help us take our studying to the next level.

In Psychology, because our emphasis is on the brain, we look into these concepts; knowledge, learning, memory, sleep- all things that are contributing factors to being a successful student. I have to say, if some of these ideas were presented to me in junior high or high school, I would’ve been a better student then! Or even at the beginning of my college career! Of course I find these sort of things truly fascinating, but outside of the pure enjoyment that it brings me to learn and research about these topics, they’re actually quite useful things to know.


The Best Studying Tips:

1. Sleep. Yes we’ve heard it all before, that sleep is essential to learning because being tired impacts you’re ability to focus. How many times have we been told throughout our schooling years to “get a good night’s sleep” the night before the test? And that somehow 8 hours was the magic number? Well, it’s true that sleeping is essential to learning, studying, and testing well, but it impacts more than just our ability to focus. And there isn’t a standard number (like 8 hours), in fact, everyone has their own “sleep number”. For some, 6 hours might be all they need, for other people like me, it’s more like 8 ½ to 9 hours. But what sleep really effects is our memory. Michael J. Breus, PhD. says that “sleeping helps to strengthen our ability to learn new things, and to convert new learning into longer-term memories.” But even more interesting is that when you study matters. In a study done with 207 students, researchers found that those students who studied right before they went to sleep retained the information for longer periods of time. “ These results indicate that sleep is most helpful to memory when it happens soon after learning new things. Sleep seems to have a stabilizing effect on newly learned information, rooting it into memories that last and clearing the way for new information to be processed.” So if you want to make sure those new concepts are going to stick, review
(cramming the night before does NOT count as review!) them right before you go to bed instead of checking Facebook or watching TV. (Studies also show that you shouldn’t use technology such as TV’s, phones, or computers within an hour of going to sleep because it stimulates the neurons in your brain and impedes with your sleep cycles.)
 
This is my actual day tomorrow...Of course I color-code things...duh. ;)

 2. Plan in out. I have to make a study schedule. Not only does it help me to actually do it, it helps me to be less distracted because there’s already a plan. Even if it’s a small session, have planned out. Not just in your mind, on paper, where you can see it.

3. Vary your study environments. Studies show that changing your locations while studying different materials will help you to remember them. Benedict Carey says, in article published by the New York Times, “Instead of sticking to one study location, simply alternating the room where a person studies improves retention.” So move from the desk in your bedroom to the kitchen table, or the outside lounge chair or the library! Such a simple adjustment can really make the difference.

4. Take small breaks. This would be a good time to implement the above tip. Get up, move around, grab something to drink or a snack, stretch, play with your pup for a few minutes, whatever you want, just occasionally step away. If you’re anything like me, your weekdays are pretty packed so most of your studying gets done on the weekends, which means you're usually studying for several classes over a three day marathon. The only way that’s going to work (or you’re going to survive!) is to take frequent breaks. I take mini breaks (5 minute intervals when I change subjects) but I also schedule half hour or hour breaks in the middle of the long hauls... it's decompressing time. A half hour is perfect for an episode of New Girl, which will totally make you happy and laugh and refresh you before you start again!

5. Don’t stick with the same subject for too long. Aim for an hour or two at the most on the same subject, then switch to a new one. Not only will it keep you from becoming bored and distracted, but it helps with memory retention as well!

6. Don’t drink too much caffeine. The last thing you want is to be antsy when you have a whole day of studying planned out. Switch to decaf coffee or herbal tea, a Diet Coke instead of a Redbull, or heaven forbid, a water. You’ll be grateful in 6 hours when you’re still plugging away without feeling like your leg’s going to fall off from its incessant shaking.

7. Listen to (the right) music. No the TV should not be on in the background. That probably seems obvious, but the type of music matters too. When you’re studying, you shouldn’t be listening to music with words because it’s distracting for your brain. You might feel like you’re just fine, but studies show that you’ll do much better at understanding and retaining what you’ve learned if you listen to classical music. We’ve all heard the “listen to Beethoven” lecture before, and for many students, that’s a turn off altogether. But it doesn’t have to be that way! I have a go-to study mix on Spotify and another on my iPod, which has everything from Beethoven to movie scores that I like. In fact, MOST of my study mixes are scores from my favorite films or T.V. shows, such as Pride & Prejudice, The Young Victoria, Downton Abbey, and Pirates of the Caribbean. It can be fun too! Just make sure there’s no words!

8. Flash Cards really do work. This is an oldie but goodie. You’ve heard the term “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” before right? (The grammar in that phrase makes me cringe, but it’s the truth.) Making flash cards still proves to be effective. But take it to the next level- start reciting them out loud. Recitation is active learning which engages your brain in a whole new way! In fact, Abraham Lincoln famously used to use this tool when memorizing his speeches. If it’s good enough for the Father of the Emancipation, it’s good enough for us! Plus, this is one Study tool that works great WITH A FRIEND!

9. Explain what you’ve just learned out loud in your own words. I still do this, because it’s been so effective for me in the past. Pretend like you’re teaching the subject to a class and explain what you’ve just read aloud. I used to do this with my mom, now I bore my friends with it on my lunch break at work. But either way, when we put something into our own words, we move the information from the short term memory into long to memory part of our brains.

10. Reward yourself! Studying can be stressful, so you’ve got to have some incentives to keep you going. Whether it’s a movie at the end of a full Saturday study session (my choice of reward!), going out with your friends when you’re done, an episode of Revenge or perhaps a delicious brownie, give yourself a little treat! (I always try to bake the day before a big study session so that I’m prepared!)   


Good Luck friends!! At least we'll get a breather soon, just keep swimming! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to Feel Pretty...Because You ARE!!


 Do you ever have days when you feel completely horrible about yourself? Probably more than we like to admit it, at least for me anyways. The truth is that with the way the world is today, it can be horribly difficult to feel good about yourself. We are constantly surrounded by different types of media, all of which displays a very specific type of women- airbrushed and altered to be perfectly flawless and presented as "real". This isn't the case for just women, men are affronted by it too, with shirtless models featuring spray on washboard abs and computer generated cheekbones. But women seem to really get brunt of it. From perfect skin to perfect (and allbeit impossible) proportions, women are expected to live up to such high standards, it's no wonder we, as a collective whole, have such deep self esteem issues.

It can be hard to take sometimes, even with the new "self esteem" campaigns going around like Dove's "Real Beauty" (#GirlsUnstoppable) or NOW Foundation's "Love Your Body". Last year, New York City's mayor started the "NYC Girl's Project-Self Esteem" campaign with a $330,000 budget aimed at helping teen girls feel good about themselves.

NYC Girl's Project-Self Esteem
Celebrities have joined the force and are using their star power to speak out against the harmful portrayals of the media that affect all women, not just teens. Take for instance, Jennifer Lawrence. She's no the first actress to speak out about it, she's just the one currently (and rather famously) speaking LOUD about it. Plus, she's young, which makes her more relatable to all the tween, teen, young adult and 20-somethings out there. 


I won't say too much about her because I've previously blogged about my JLaw love.  But even as much as she talks about it or as much as Beyonce or Gwen Stefani sing about it, at the end of the day it can still be really difficult to feel good about yourself, even as much as your best friends try to help you do it. This is a deeply personal mission of mine. I wish I could make all girls love themselves and see their true beauty and see how really awesome they are. I know I've also blogged about this before, so I'll stay clear of that tangent for the time being. 

 But sometimes, it's downright HARD to feel pretty!! I don't care if you're Charlize Theron or Kate Hudson or whoever, sometimes you just feel awful about yourself and you need someone to say, "Hey, you're beautiful!" (If that could be Ryan Gosling, I'm not gonna lie, I won't be upset about it. At all.) But truth be told, sometimes there's no one else but you and you have to be able to fight back yourself! I was thinking about that this weekend as I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep. I was having one of those moments (or days) and I started thinking about the things I do in those times to make myself feel good. I know people have said to remind yourself of all your good qualities and your uniqueness and the things that make you awesome, but that can be really difficult in certain moments! Am I right?!  

So I started thinking about all the other little things I do or my friends do, and I thought I'd share in case you're ever feeling the same way.


1. Use perfume. I swear, I'm an addict. But I can't help it, wearing nice perfume makes me feel pretty. And it shouldn't be something you ever feel bad for treating yourself to. This is actually what got me thinking about this post. Before I went to bed, I spritzed a little D&G and got under the covers and felt really pretty. Just for me. Just because I needed to. It doesn't matter if you're going to bed or actually out to school/work, it doesn't have to be reserved for dates, it can just be for you.  

2. Buy a new nail polish (and use it). One of my go-to "retail therapy" things when I don't have extra money to spend is nail polish. It makes you feel good and it doesn't cost a lot. Painting my nails always makes me feel put together, and in turn, pretty. Plus, it's a personal statement of who you are. Working in a business atmosphere, it can get tricky to put your personality into clothes and still stay "businessy". 


3. Give yourself a blowout or curl your hair, even if you're not going out. When my hair is freshly done, I feel like a Parisian fashionista! It may sound stupid but it's true. :)

4. Compliment someone else! It will always make you feel better, even if you don't know them! Making someone else feel good about themselves will make you feel good about yourself, that's just fact. And if you're all alone? Text your bff and tell them how beautiful and amazing they are, just because. It will make all the difference in the world!

5. Have a go-to power mix, like the one here.  Listening to fun, girl-power music will make you feel good! Sing loud and proud! "Look at your watch now, you're still a super hot female!" 


6.  Take a trip to the MAC counter. I'm obsessed with makeup, this is not a surprise! My favorite thing in the world is eye shadow, and I have tons and tons of it. For some girls (like my sister), it's lipstick. But for me, it's eyeshadow. It makes me happy and it makes me feel good! That's not to say that you can't or shouldn't feel pretty in your own skin, because you should. But this is different for me. I love the act of putting on makeup, it's an artistic expression of who I am. And it makes me feel confident! So go ahead, buy a new lipstick or eye shadow or whatever you like that plays up you're favorite feature! No, you don't NEED it to be beautiful, but if it makes you happy... it can't be that baaaaad! (Hopefully you heard Sheryl Crow singing in your head just now!) ;) You deserve it! 



7. Slip into a gorgeous pair of high heels. They may not be the best things for you, but there's no mistaking the confidence a pair of heels can do for a girl. Marilyn Monroe once said "give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world". I believe that. Sure, you'd probably get there a whole lot faster in flats or a good ol' pair of Chucks, but does anything make you feel more beautiful than a pair of Steve Madden stilettos? I think not. 

I Hope you're all already feeling beautiful, because you are. KNOW THAT. And know that I'm hear to help you believe it! So laquer up those nails, throw on some red-hot lips and a little spirtz of your signuature scent and take on the world! You know you can. ;)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Makeup Madness: Eye Love Makeup!



I love makeup. I have a vanity desk in my room with a drawer full of it. Lipsticks, eyeliners, face creams, and eye shadows galore. I have books on “makeup secrets” and the first thing I flip to in my monthly Instyle is the Beauty section. I love looking at pictures of celebrities' makeup as well as following several “beauty blogs”. I love going to the MAC counter and talking about makeup with the girls (and guys) in black and stealing their secrets, finding inspiration in a brand new line or dreaming about the day I buy that Dior eye shadow pallet I’ve been coveting for years now. I love makeup, I love the action of doing makeup, whether it’s my own or someone else’s, I just love it. 

I’m not saying that I’m a professional, but I’m pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. I’m self taught, but you know what, so are a lot of makeup artists, not that I'd call myself a "markup artist", but I've read lot, practiced a lot, and have done all the homework. So take my advice or don’t, it doesn’t really matter to me. Just know that I’ve spent hundreds of dollars trying just about every product under the sun and this knowledge could save you a lot of money and disappointment

The makeup world can sometimes be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. Don’t worry dear friend, I happen to have a magic compass, not unlike the one Jack Sparrow uses in the Pirates franchise. (That may have been a weird reference unless you know me and know that Johnny Depp is not just my favorite actor, he’s everything I want out of life. Just kidding. Kind of.)   

I have had several friends ask me why I haven't put anything up about makeup, so I thought I'd oblige, seeing as though I absolutely LOVE to talk shop. But because of that love, I'm going to have to do this in several sections, starting with my favorite... the eyes! 

Note: Clicking on the name of the product will bring up the website for it if you'd like to purchase! ;)



Eye Makeup Essentials




Eyeshadow Primer:  Too Faced Shadow Insurance, $20

First things first; I cannot stress the importance of shadow primer. Unless you like your makeup to crease and run and never stay put, continue avoiding this step. If you're interested in flawless makeup for hours upon hours upon hours... this will be your most favorite investment! I use Too Faced Shadow Insurance because it is simply the BEST. I use just a little pea-size amount- putting it onto my pinky finger and tapping some off with my other pinky so they are even, and then applying it all over to each lid. After it's mostly rubbed in, I run it over my eye brow because I have to fill them in at the end and it helps that stay too! To give you an idea, I have been inside the craziest, sweatiest innards of a mosh pit and have come out with perfect eye makeup. Not.Even.Joking. Even if you use drugstore eyeshadow, this will make it last 10x longer!

Definer #15
Tapered #7



  










Brushes: Smashbox Definer Brush #15 & Tapered Shadow Brush #7, $24 each

This may seem like a lot now, but I've had mine FOR YEARS and they are still perfect! The best time to get them is during their promotions for Christmas at Ulta when they sale them in a pack of 4 brushes. But they are absolutely worth the best investment. They are to makeup brushes as the signature red heels of Louboutins are to shoes. 

Eyeshadow Pallet: Too Faced Natural Eye, $36

 I LOVE eyeshadow. It's my addiction. If I had to pick one pallet to have the rest of my life, it would be this one. It may not 'look like a lot' for $36, but because of the high pigmentation, you don't have to use a lot, so it lasts a long time! Silk Teddy is one of my favorite base colors, it's beautiful, shimery but not glittery, which I like. The top three are matte for those days you want to look more natural and the shimmer in the others are fantastic. Nude Beach is more on the glittery side than the others. Honey Pot, Push Up and Erotica are my favorites. What's nice is that they are SUPER blendable, and they mix/match easily, so you don't even have to worry about which ones to use! Also, Too Faced pallets are great for beginners because they come with three cards (Day, Classic, Fashion) to show you how you can use the colors and where to put them! I have almost all their pallets because they are simply amazing.













Eye Liner:  MAC Powerpoint in Stubborn Brown $16 & MAC Penultimate Rapidblack liquid liner, $19.50

Stubborn Brown is my go-to brown eyeliner. I use it just about everyday. I can wear it alone and smudged or paired with brown shadows (pallet above), and it stays put. It's not a kohl, so it won't move once it's set. It's divine! Rapidblack is the only liquid I will use because it's an easy application, it's jet black, and it won't budge, especially with you primer! It creates such a beautiful clean line, perfect for a cat eye and red lips or as a subtle definition. 
***Insider trick: Rapidblack is best used if it's held on it's side and slid across your lid, don't use the tip or you'll end up ruining it's form. 


Individual Eye Shadows: Stila Kitten, $18

My most favorite base in the world. This is shimmer without the glitter. Using the Tapered #7 (above) I apply this from lash line all the way onto the brow bone. It's great when you're brows need some maintenance but you don't have the time- the shimmer reflects the light, making unwanted brow hairs less visible. If I'm doing a smokey eye, sometimes I'll keep this only on the inside half of my eye so that it doesn't lighten the pigment of the dark shade that I'm using. This can also be used as a highlighter; dabbing a small amount around the tearduct will open and brighten your eyes, whether paired with a smokey eye or not. I love this with or without another color. It looks great with any eyeliner, liquid or pencil (smudged or precision line).  


Individual Eye shadows:  MAC Pro Longwear Make Your Mark, $21  

My everyday go-to brown, which pairs perfectly with the MAC Stubborn Brown eyeliner. It can be light for slight definition, or in the case I normally use it, dark for a bold but modern take on a classic smokey-eye. Using brown instead of black/charcoal is fresh and less harsh, while still providing the depth of a smokey eye. I use the #15 brush (above) and work this into my crease bringing it just slightly above it and arcing it out to follow the shape of my eye. Dabbing more color on, I work downward to my lash line, but only on the outside of my lid. Visually, find the midpoint of your pupil and consider your lid in two parts. I blend the color from the crease to the lashline of the outside half. You'll have a little color on the inside because of your crease, but that's exactly what you want! Now Just follow it up with some brown eyeliner and you're good to go!
Mascara:  CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher, $6

We can't all afford Dior's Diorshow Mascara on the regular (at over $20 a bottle!) but CoverGirl makes the BEST affordable mascara, hands down. The whole Lash Blast line is amazing, I usually just shift to the different types/colors depending on what's on sale at Target. The last three times I've bought the green bottle, the Clump Buster and it's fantastic! The original (orange) is hard to beat and I also like the lengthening one (yellow) for it's thinner brush. Still, you don't need anything other than good ol' CoverGirl to look fab!






Beautiful Brows: Benefit Brow Zings, $30

Filling in my brows is a must! It's important to have great brows because they frame your face, plus they'll make that eye makeup you worked hard on stand out! I don't like the look of a pencil, so I use this. Start with the slanted brush and trace your brows with the wax first (darker one) and then use the round brush with the powder to fill it in. I love how compact it is, the small brushes are great, plus the baby tweezers make touch ups easy and convenient. I recently discovered that E.L.F. (Target) has one that's the same idea for $3, but it doesn't stay as long. Still, it'll work if $30 isn't in your budget. You just better have a great brow brush because the one that comes with it is crap. I use Smashbox Angle Brow Brush #12. 

 
Makeup Remover: Neutrogena, Eye Makeup Remover $5

 Last but not least, this is the very best drugstore eye makeup remover; it's affordable, it's not greasy and it doesn't pull out my lashes. I've bought this for years and will continue to buy it as long as it's on the shelves. When a save a little money here and there, than you don't feel as bad dropping doe at the MAC counter, ya see?

 That was long and it was only the staples of eye makeup...wait until I get into color pallets! ;)
  Xoxo!

Monday, February 10, 2014

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse...I mean...Valentine's Day.


Well, it's February and you know what that means.... for basically an entire month you will be assaulted with hearts and love and all things warm and fuzzy and ooey-gooey. Many are rejoicing in the opportunity to have an extra special date night with their extra special sweetheart. Unless of course you're part of the unmarried/significant-otherless/ non-relationship club, in which case, welcome to Hell. 

The next couple weeks are going to be awful. I will not make promises I can't keep or provide you with false hope...it's not going to be pretty, or easy for that matter. Whether you're single by choice or by chance, the first couple weeks in February are going to be like a scene from The Walking Dead when all the zombies are trying to break through the fence of the compound and the surviving humans are doing their best to reinforce the walls and hide inside for safety. 

Much like a zombie apocalypse, Valentine's Day is going to be hard to survive, unless of course you have the necessary skills. I am well versed in the art of surviving this wretched day, so consider me your Rick Grimes in this situation. 


Generously, I have provided you with a few rules to follow to ensure you're still alive February 15th.

 RULE #1: DON'T GO OUTSIDE.

Seriously it's dangerous out there. Lovebirds flood the streets en masse, like bats out of Hell. They're attracted to darkness and will be eagerly searching out their next meal. So STAY INSIDE, keep the lights low and wait for the sunrise.

RULE #2: BE PREPARED. 

Don't make the rookie mistake of not getting take-out on the way home or grocery shopping the night before. You need sustenance and mass amounts of chocolate and Diet Coke, so stock up! You don't know how long you're gonna be hiding out; once the sun sets, you're gonna be stuck inside for hours. 

RULE #3: KEEP YOUR NUMBERS SMALL.

You can't save everybody. Your best chance at survival is to keep your numbers small and limited to people you trust. And beware: I don't care if they were your best friend the day before, once they've caught the virus, they are no longer themselves. One night a year they turn into lovesick undead and terrorize the streets with their happiness. It's an ugly sight. It's best to be cautious and follow the rules above with just a couple of your closest uninfected friends.

RULE #4: DON'T WATCH CHICK FLICKS

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you engage in watching anything romantic; no dramas, no romantic comedies, and for the love of everything, don't you dare put in anything Jane Austen or any season of Downton Abbey. (Nothing attracts the lovesick more than a Jane Austen adaption!) If you want to survive the night, stick to the Horror genre. The gorier the better. They're attracted to love, they can smell it a mile away, so keep it out of your safe-house and off your TV!

RULE #5: WEAPONS- HAVE THEM.

I've survived a lot of Valentine's Days before, so listen to my advice very carefully. Your best weapon and armor against the infected is animosity and hostility. For one night only, allow yourself these negative feelings. Repugnance, resentment, detestation- all of these are excellent weapons against the viral infection. Think of them as your kryptonite; not only do they repel the airborne pathogens but they keep the lovesick ones from picking up on your scent and keep you basically undetected. 

Good luck my uninfected friends, I wish you the best on this day of reckoning. PLEASE remember the survival guide above and be safe. The worst thing you can do is underestimate the situation. Keep your wits about you and make sure all your doors and windows are locked. You'll thank me when you're alive to party on St. Patty's. 

 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

*Snow Day*




Let's get one thing straight... I'm from California, born and raised in the sunshine state, where we drive faster and play harder than in any other state. It's no secret that we all think we're the best and that we live in the best state in the US, but it's also no secret that those things are correct. ;) I'm from Nor Cal... Sacramento (the capital guys...no, it's not L.A.!) to be exact. It's a pretty great place to be. I know So Cal usually gets all the press, but where I'm from, it's the perfect centralized location. We're two hours away from the beach or the snow, depending on the direction you want to go. (Okay, I wasn't even trying to rhyme, but I did, so I'm keeping it. Perhaps it's the Redbull I'm drinking right now...)  It's a pretty spectacular place to be. 

So spectacular that artists from every genre have written songs about it. So spectacular that in a survey done in the UK, when ask to identify the states in America, one of the only states that every person could identify was California (the others were New York, Texas, and Florida). We're the Saturday-Day-Trip type of people, whether that's to the Bay (San Francisco to you foreigners) for clam chowder at The Wharf and a Giants game or Wine Country (Napa) for some taste testing or to Reno, Nevada for a little gambling, your Saturday destination is only 2 lovely hours away. So whether you surf or snow board, we've got everything your heart could possibly desire. Except (for most of California anyways), what we don't have are snow days.

Snow days are something of the mythical sort for us, like unicorns or leprechauns. I've always dreamed of having a 'snow day', and actually I still do. When I was younger, the closest thing we'd get to a "snow day" would be if the power went out at school long enough, they'd have to send us home. But that just about never happened. The power always came back on right about the time we would've been sent home, shattering our dreams. 

Even as an adult I still long for snow days, even though we don't snow here. They're just so magical. It looks like the most fantastic gift nature could possibly give you; for one day you're forced to stay inside and can't go to work or school or wherever you have to be. Now more than ever, we pack our lives full to the brim, whether you're working full time, have a family, going to school, or any combination of those, we're busy busy busy! I work full time and go to school full time at night and I can't tell you how many times (if not daily!) that I wish for a snow day. I think we exhaust ourselves with everything we pack into our lives and almost need to be forced into a day off. We work ourselves to the bone day in and day out. Not that having a good work ethic is a bad thing but we also need to take care of ourselves too! And if you're anything like me, 'yourself' is the first thing you put on the back burner. 

But not on a snow day. No, on a snow day you get to stay inside, change back into your pj's, and reconnect with yourself. It's not fair that we miss out on snow days, just because we don't actually snow, right!? So I've decided that we should make our own every once in a while. Obviously not when you have a massive exam or project due at work, but any other day. You can't look for the *perfect* day because you'll never find it, there will always be something that has to be done, so as long as it's not major, just take the day off. You deserve it!

Best things to do on your Snow Day:      


1. Go back to sleep, duh!! I think this is the most obvious. I know you, you've been needing an extra boost in the morning right? Redbulls are my poison of choice. Take the morning and catch up on your z's! No alarm clock either! Just let your body wake up when it's ready!

2. It's now mid morning (for some some of you, noon. You know who you are!) and even though you just slept in, you're still slightly drowsy. No rush! Curl up on the couch with your pup and check in with your Netflix que. You've been dying to catch up on The Walking Dead (eh, eh!) or Downton Abbey or Scandal, so now's the perfect time!! You're in no rush today!


3. Make some tea and spend some time reading that book you've been trying to finish for months now! Or start a new one! Escape into the fantasy of whatever world you long to be in. 



4. Put on some music and draw or write or play solitaire, whatever it is that grounds you but you never seem to have time to do anymore.



5. You know those goodies you saw on Pinterest but never have the time to make them?? You've had the ingredients for weeks now, so make them! and EAT them!! Diets don't count on Snow Days.


6. Need a mid-day energy boost or some stress relief? Whip out your yoga mat and center your chi! Today is about YOU. 



7. Bubble Bath!! Remember when you used to have the time to relax in a piping hot tub of suds? Yeah, it's been a long time for me too! Draw up a bath with some lavender bath salts and your favorite scented candles and put on some classic music and feel your pent up stress melt away. 


8. Remember how much you used to love doing your nails every week? Except you started running out of time and smudging the paint (everywhere!) before it was dry and would have to just take it off anyways. So spend some time on an at home mani/pedi, you have plenty of episodes of New Girl to watch On Demand until your nails are dry! 


9.  Spend an hour YouTubing your favorite music videos from your childhood (Backstreet Boys, whats up!), because when we were kids there actually WAS still music on MTV, for the most part anyways. Or perhaps those cat videos you love so much or whatever pleases your little heart. Just take the time to walk down memory lane and enjoy the simple things of the past! 

10. Get caught up on the adventures of Brown Eyed Girl. ;)  I'm not above shameful self promotion guys, come on! 

Whatever or whenever  it may be, make sure to get a snow day in every once in a while! You're a hard worker and you deserve it!  
    

Thursday, February 6, 2014

I Hate Valentines Day


 I hate Valentine's day. I basically always have. At the risk of sounding like a bitter old hag, I didn't even like it as a child, except, of course, that it was a party at school with tons of chocolate and goodies and the obviously amazing part where you didn't have to do any school work all day long.  

Even as I got into my teenage years, it didn't make sense to me. I mean, I get it, but I didn't get why is was such a big deal. When I was in middle school, I got my first "boyfriend". I use that word fully knowing that you will understand why it's in quotation marks and understanding that yes, we did use those labels at that age. My first "boyfriend" and I got together a short time before Valentine's Day but I can't remember when...I am 25 years old now, so it's basically ancient history. Anyways, I definitely felt the pressure to live up to "expectations" because Valentine's Day was (of course) on a school day. My mom took me to the store to pick out something to give to him and I was immediately assaulted with the plethora of red, pink and white colored chocolates, flowers,  stuffed animals,  feathered boas...you name it it, it was Valentine's-ified and basically attacking you like rabid dogs as you walked down the isle. It was terrifying. So traumatic I don't even remember what I bought for him, but I do remember that he gave me a little white gorilla wearing a red bow tie that had tiny white hearts on it. All I remember is feeling so much pressure that whole day, because it was supposed to be special. Instead it was full of anxiety and filled to the brim with awkward.

And high school it wasn't any better. I actually developed quite a disdain for the "holiday". Even though I am outgoing and bubbly and an extremely social person, that doesn't really translate over to my relationships. To say that I'm uncomfortable with publicly showing romantic affection is an understatement. It makes me anxious and nauseous and all together panicky.  Out of the public, I'm fine, but in public, I can only handle very minimal. So every Valentine's Day at high school was torture. Every couple was wrapped in raptures and the PDA was at full throttle. Seriously, try walking through the quad when every couple is stopped kissing each other- it's like trying to avoid land mines; with every step you take forward, you have to take another one back and two to the side just to get out alive.

After high school my feelings didn't really change. 


In 2010 the movie Valentine's Day was released, though I'm not sure if anyone remembers it. It was rather forgettable to be honest, even though it had an ensemble cast with as many A listers as they could fit in. While I don’t recall all the story lines, Jennifer Gardner was dating McDreamy…I mean Patrick Dempsey (who was actually cheating on his wife with her), Ashton Kutcher was Jen’s brother who ran a florist shop…Umm…Oh! Julia Roberts was flying back from somewhere in her military uniform, sitting next to Bradley Cooper (hot! Who turns out to be gay…saddest day ever for this fictional world!), and Jessica Biel is some sort of business women who doesn’t have relationships and hates Valentine’s Day. The best part of the movie is that she throws an “I Hate Valentine’s Day” party every year, complete with a heart-shaped piñata that people get to whack the crap out of. At the end of the movie, Jen finds out she’s “the other women”, breaks it off with McDreamy, comes to Jessica’s party and proceeds to annihilate the pink heart-shaped piñata with impressive force. It’s the BEST scene in the movie. Mostly because I think we’ve all been there…someone tramples on your heart and all you want to do is beat the crap out of something because everyone else is celebrating love and you’re left celebrating the fact that you’re alone.



The thing about Valentine's Day is that you can't be alone because then you're a 'bitter old hag' or a 'cat lady' and you run the risk of having a full on meltdown... There's just too much pressure to not be single, it's maddening. Even worse, you may not feel all that upset about being alone (hey, you've got you, and you're pretty amazing!) but everyone else looks at you like you're either a leaper or some pitiful creature, like a homeless chihuahua left out in the cold and rain with patches of missing fur that nobody wants. (Okay, that was the saddest analogy I've ever thought of...but it's true so I guess it has to stay. Just for the record, I'D WANT THAT DOG, BECAUSE MY SOLE MISSION IN LIFE IS TO SAVE ALL THE UNWANTED ANIMALS FROM A LOVELESS LIFE. Okay, sorry...back on track.) 


It's just really irritating, even though I know we shouldn't care what people think about us, the truth of the matter is, it's human nature! It's not easy to overcome! (Though I'm trying desperately to make it happen!) 

I'm not gonna lie...I've been here before...


 And if you don't have a boyfriend and you go out with your girlfriends, you're affronted by couples giving each other googly eyes everywhere you go. Not to mention the hour and a half waiting time just to eat...ANYWHERE. A couple of my friends and I started a tradition of watching horror movies on Valentine's day. Instead of going out and facing a crowd of the likes of the The Walking Dead, we'd get dressed up but stay inside, cook dinner together and watch a horror movie...the goriest one we could find.  


The thing I hate about Valentines Day, outside the expectations and PDA, is that it feels forced. I don't want nice things to be done for me because it's an obligation, because some executives from Hallmark and Hershey's teamed up to create a SUPER "holiday" to increase sales revenue after the post-Christmas dip. I want a bouquet of flowers or a box of See's Bordeaux chocolates or a surprise candlelight dinner just because he thought about me and just because he wanted to. I guess Valentine's Day just takes the spontaneity out of romance...and isn't that what makes things romantic? Isn't that the fun?! Sure, Valentine's Day is a "celebration of you as a couple" but so is your anniversary, and so should every day you're together!  Why save it for February 14th? Why not celebrate your relationship every possible chance you get? I'm not saying hearts and tarts everyday, but the sentiment, the thoughts should always be there. And sure, chocolate would be nice too...who am I kidding. But to me, it just feels like the expectation of romance sucks all the romance out of romance, ya know?


Exactly. This is the only good thing that comes from Valentine's Day- clearance chocolate. And laughing at the suckers that paid full price for it the day before. ;)


Monday, February 3, 2014

Playing Cupid... Celebrity Matchmaking


Welcome February! For those that know me well, you will have heard the deeply sarcastic tone in which the greeting was said. While I love the winter months, February has come to be thought of as one of my least favorite months, specifically for the fact of Valentine's Day and that there are only 28 days in the pay period. I'm sure you'll come to know of my loathing for the "holiday" at some point, so for now we'll skip it. Two great things happen in February though, just to give credit where credit is due. It's my Grandpa & my sister's birthday month! Besides that and the usual rain we see, I don't really like February one bit. HOWEVER, I thought to kick off the month of love, I'd engage in a little game of "playing cupid".   

I'm not gonna lie, sometimes, I have a hard time remembering that actors that play characters aren't actually their characters...seriously, don't try to tell me that if you saw Ross, er, I mean David Schwimmer, you wouldn't say, "Look! It's Ross!", because I won't believe you. Sometimes, it's just hard to differentiate between the character and the people that play them, like for instance Sarah Jessica Parker. When I look at her, I obviously know who she is, but I only see Carrie Bradshaw, they are one-in-the-same for me. 

Well, sometimes that happens for movie couples too. And sometimes, you just feel like the world isn't quite right because they are not together in real life. I swear, sometimes I think I just know better than they do, if I could only play matchmaker! Just kidding, just kidding. I'm sure there are reasons why they aren't really together, but you just wish they were, because it seems like they'd be a match made in celebrity heaven. [Unless of course we're talking about Kate & Leo, because WE ALL KNOW THAT THEY'RE MEANT TO BE!!!]

This got me thinking about the top "fake" couples I wish were together in real life, because, by golly, it just MAKES SENSE!! If THEY can't be happy together, how could it possibly turn out for the rest of us! (Okay Jane Austen, I learned my lesson from Emma, but this is just hypothetical!)

1. Leonardo DiCaprio & Kate Winslet (OBVIOUSLY!)


I know I'm not the only one here. I know everyone and their mom are just waiting for the day that these best friends accept that they are IN LOVE with each other and have cute little Kates & Leos. I mean, DOES TRUE LOVE GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS?? How are we normal people supposed to have a shot at it if THEY can't even make it work!! This seriously makes me so sad....like, so incredibly sad. I mean, SHE NEVER LET GO! She didn't! Jack and Rose deserve their chance at a happily ever after, dang it!! 



Sorry, was that too much!? Oh well, you get it. They've played on-screen couples several times and have been best friends since basically forever. I mean, they're best friends, but don't you think it's time they just gave up the charade already?! I can't think of anything that would make the entire world happier than this coming to fruition. 

2. Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon Levitt



While their on-screen couple Tom & Summer were definitely not the right fit, is there anyone out there that thinks that Zooey & Joe wouldn't make the cutest couple ever?! Oh, you don't believe me?? Well, how about this:


They've really been BFF's for ages! He was even in one of her music videos! But I think we're all ready to have a front row seat at the cute indie wedding you know they'd have. I mean, Come on!! WATCH THE VIDEO!!   

3.  Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams


Okay, no one that saw the Notebook would disagree with me. They were amazing as our beloved Noah & Allie, but that doesn't just stop on screen! Did anyone else feel like a little part of them died the day they found out they had broken up in real life!? (Be honest!) 


Tragic. Absolutely Tragic.

4. Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds 
 

Sandy is America's sweetheart. She's everyone's BFF and after the horrible incident with her ex-husband Jesse James, we were all feeling a bit protective of her. I don't think anyone could've let Sandy go with anyone less than Ryan Reynolds, he's just the nicest guy! Staring in The Proposal together, they seemed like the most perfect fit, and in some cases that's true because they became best friends and still are. Except that Ryan is now married(!!!) to someone OTHER THAN SANDY. Heart breaking. 



Though they were never together, I think the whole world wish they would. Not just because they would be the most hilarious partners in crime (can you imagine the dinner parties they'd throw!), but because they are two of the most likable people, ever. Besides, everyone wants a happily-ever-after for Sandy, and that's just a fact. 

 Exhibit A.

5. Jennifer Lawrence & Bradley Cooper



 Seriously though. How amazing would this be!? Age differences aside (come on, it's only a number!) they're both funny, down to earth, beautiful and totally awesome. After two movies together (Silver Linings Playbook & American Hustle) I think the world is ready for more! The chemistry is outstanding and really, what's better than two of our favorite people together!?


Answer: Nothing.


Well, this was actually kind of sad, which is definitely more my speed on Valentine's Day. ;)


If only I could play celebrity matchmaker. I think I'd really be really good at it. Obviously. Until then, we'll keep wishing for them to find their love for each other, or at least hope that they play opposite one another in MANY more movies.