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September 1, 2014

Where has 2014 gone!?

Resolutions for 2014

1.      Strengthen myself educationally and career-wise
2.      Cook more – there’s mom’s collection of recipes to learn, plus so many recipe books that are just lying in the basement, collecting dust.
3.      Tap into my creative side more: painting, writing, dancing, photography, and whatever else I can get into.
4.      Learn a new skill – always, always, always!
5.      Go on a vacation. I’d originally wanted to go on 2-2, but for now I’ll settle for one vacation.
6.      Read more!
7.      Blog more (haha, what an inspiring start!)
8.      Cross off 1 item from my bucket list. I tend to avoid this as a resolution, but I think 2014 is the year to achieve something!

This year has positively flown, with no by your leave or excuse me. I swear it was May just yesterday, and here we are saying hello to September already. It doesn't make any sense. I didn't cook more (oops, #2), I didn't blog at all (sorry #7), and the only dent I've made in my creative exploration (#3) is stockpiling canvasses and paint as if it’s my job (I’m such a shopaholic!). I’d cross off a bucket list item (#8), if I could only find my bucket list (I swear I lose more stuff when I clean). I have done a fair amount of reading, exploring new authors and genres (#6, you can breathe). And I do still have 3 months to redeem myself, so maybe 2014 won’t be a complete wash. Four out of eight…is that a new record low for me?

This has been my first year as a non-student. Hello adulthood. I’m doing well at work (really well, thankfully). I've gotten a certification that makes my resume look a little prettier, and gives me useful skills that I apply to my work (#1 and #4, check and check).

I’d been working out pretty intensively in the first half of the year. That, coupled with a round or two of juicing helped me drop some weight and get healthier. Score for a non-resolution win! Side effect of working out: my back is busted again. Between doctors, meds, and physical therapy, I've been better, more functional for the past couple of years. But at the beginning of this summer I could feel my back reacting the same way that it had in 2012. Long story short, I was smart this time and went to a chiropractor right away. (More about that experience later…I promise!) Three months later, I’m doing much better, though still not optimal, and definitely not back to a state where I can be working out.

Which kinda sucks because we’re going to India in October (knocked #5 out of the park!). I’ll be going back after 10 years. Holy! I would have loved to be more in shape, but hey ho, this is my lot and I’m choosing to accept it instead of wishing and regretting. It’ll be a fairly long trip, with stops along a few places in northern India. I’m really looking forward to spending time with my Nana-Nani, meeting relatives I've never even heard of, and shopping. There’s an army celebration that we will be attending; it will be interesting to meet my contemporaries. Hello awkward times? Maybe it’ll be good times. *fingers crossed*

Despite the rushed feeling, there have been plenty of good times in 2014 - my "Jar o' Good Stuff" is so stuffed I've had to expand. I've been to three baby showers, which is exactly three more than I've ever been to. One ladies sangeet. One wedding reception. A few graduations. A birthday party that involved a belly dancer. A birthday party that involved a toddler. A random party that involved an uncle insistently serving everyone alcohol – now that was awkward! I made friends with kids who are now grownups, and observed grownups who have behaved worse than children. My social life has been entertaining (okay, more accurately, it’s my parents’ social life. In my defense, my friends are scattered around the world – Atlanta, Toronto, Chicago, San Diego, India, Croatia…just a tiny bit hard to get together with these peeps from Albany, NY). I’m getting involved in…what do adults call extracurricular activities? Whatever it’s called, I’m doing more of that. The balance is definitely tipped to the positive side in 2014.


I just have to get cracking on the rest of my resolutions now, so ta!

March 22, 2014

2013 in Reflection

2013 in Reflection

2013 whizzed by so fast, I'm still dizzy! Overall, it was a good year. I participated in two research conferences, interned in a PR position (so that's one off my career experience "bucket list"), got a job, and graduated from UAlbany. If there were things that didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped, well these highlights have completely overshadowed them.

Successes
1. Keep up with blogging - I catapulted to 20 blogs in 2012. I squeaked in 21 in 2013. Thank God I worded my resolution as "keep up" not "blog very frequently" or "blog on a consistent/regular basis".

2. Keep up with reading - I'm not entirely sure how many books I read, but since I graduated with a degree in English, it was a fair number. (Irish literature ... not really my thing, as it happens).

4. Get a job - check!

5. Learn a new skill - again. Yeah, there's been plenty of on-the-job training and I've certainly picked up skills there. Plus the research conferences and the internship - lots of small and medium-sized skill picked up along the way from all of that.

9. Get back in touch with Caitlin - done. Now to make the effort to stay in touch. Something I'm not too brilliant at all the time. (speaking of which, excuse me while I go wish someone a quick happy birthday)

12. Get healthier - Am I at optimal health? No! Am I healthier? Yes. Lost some more weight. Hitting the gym more often. Eating better - no crash diets though. Those don't work. At all.

Fail-whale
3. Do 4+ photo challenges - why do I bother? Unless you count half-assedly doing some Instagram challenge of the month series, no, this definitely did not happen.

6. Stop enabling Person X - This was just such an unhealthy way to think and go about things. Moving on!

7. Vacation with Mishal! - Because it's high time we hung out and were crazy together! I have the best times with this girl!

8. Move to Atlanta - All part of moving on with life. Whichever direction things go in, I think it's time I became more independent.

11. Do at least 1 crafty project - see. Now I'm being super honest. I'm not counting the spray-painting I did, because really, even a five year old can do that. *hangs head in shame*

WIP

10. Help Mom out more - baby steps. I'm just used to doing things my way in my own time. Gets awkward not being the person in charge when you're back home.

13. Make myself Priority #1 - over the course of the year I've learned to moderate this and work on the little things that add up to making myself #1. I'm going to (try to) put that into practice in 2014. *fingers crossed*

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Though the To-Do/Memory Board is roughly the same.
Jar, good stuff, 2013, memories, memory, life, happiness, happy, success, successes, jar o good stuff, good stuff
The Jar O' Good Stuff filled up quite a bit.

Maybe I can get crafty and put all of this in a scrap book. (Maybe!)

March 17, 2014

(Belated) Happy New Year! - 2014 Resolutions

This year is flying by even faster than the last. 2014 has been so cold, it's taken me a couple of months to thaw into things. It hasn't been quite the clean slate start that I like to have at the beginning of a year; the dust and faint marks of 2013 are still lingering in the air. I'm hoping the transition into Spring will blow out some of the stale remnants of 2013 and bring more focus to 2014.

My original list of resolutions disappeared on me. I think the piece of paper knew better and walked away in time for me to realize that 2014 isn't following any plans or intentions. January, February, and half of March have really given me a chance to reconsider, reevaluate, and revise my resolutions.

Hopefully this list is more comprehensive and realistic (in no order of priority):

1. Strengthen myself educationally and career-wise.
2. Cook more - there's Mom's collection of recipes to learn, plus so many recipe books that are just lying in the basement, collecting dust.
3. Tap into my creative side more: painting, writing, dancing, photography, and whatever else I can get into.
4. Learn a new skill - always, always, always!
5. Go on a vacation. I'd originally wanted to go on 2-3, but for now I'll settle for one vacation.
6. Read more!
7. Blog more (haha, what an inspiring start!)
8. Cross off 1 item from my bucket list. I tend to avoid this as a resolution, but I think 2014 is the year to achieve something!

2013's thirteen resolutions weren't 100% successful (2013 in Reflection), so hopefully eight is more realistic! 

December 2, 2013

Christmas Shopping with a Purpose - Top 5 Places to Turn to This Christmas

There's nothing better than piles of gifts under a Christmas tree. The rush of joy, the excitement, the happiness, are unbeatable. Except. They are. What's better than a pile of goodies? A pile of goodies that pay it forward!

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There are many ways to make a difference in our communities, especially around holiday season: volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to Toys for Tots, make a donation to your charity of choice.

You can also shop to change the world around you. Here are some places you can shop for both your Christmas list AND to help pay it forward. (And just in time for Cyber Monday!)

1. International Princess Project - a company that is "creating pathways to freedom for women escaping sex slavery" in India. Not only is IPP helping end human trafficking, it creates an opportunity for more than 150 women and girls to learn a trade (sewing beautiful "Punjammies") that help sustain a new hope and a new lifestyle. I'm all for shopping for "fashion that takes a stand against human trafficking" - the pajamas and shirts are truly beautiful and unique, and will be appreciated by any mom, sister, wife, girlfriend, daughter...

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With a sweet deal on #CyberMonday (40% off + free shipping on orders over $50),
they definitely have a spot on my Christmas shopping list.
~*~

2. Three Avocados - this one's for the coffee lovers (that's right, nothing to do with avocados). It's a non-profit that puts 100% of its net earnings to clean water in Uganda. Clean water is a global problem, especially in developing nations. There are many initiatives that are working toward providing sustainable clean water resources. The perk with buying directly through Three Avocados is, you're guaranteed that 100% of your money is going to be used to make a direct impact.

Having actually tried the coffee, I can confidently say it's delicious! A rich, warm coffee that makes you feel good for all sorts of reasons!

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Coffee for a Cause - packaged just right for Christmas! :)
Twitter: @ThreeAvocados
~*~

3. Blanket America - it isn't just about blankets. It's about all sorts of bedding, and towels, and window treatments. And helping. Most importantly, it's about the helping: "generating automatic donations" with every purchase, and helping the company's commitment to "ending extreme poverty." This "buy 1, give 1" model doesn't just help make a direct impact for the American community. It also contributes to disaster relief in Haiti and Blanket America's Choose Haiti mission.

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Beautiful bedding and blankets under your tree,
an end to poverty in the US and disaster relief in Haiti.
Twitter: @BlanketAmerica
~*~

4. Toms Shoes - a very straight-forward one for one company: every pair of shoe you buy means a free pair of shoes for children in need around the world. Toms has expanded to "providing prescription glasses, medical treatmetn and/or sight-saving surgery" for every eyewear purchased by you. Over 10 million pairs of shoes and 150,000 visions restored because of purchases made by us. Toms has a lot of other cute products as well - really, a little something for everyone! Every purchase leads to the delivery of provisions, healthcare, opportunities, education, and training for hundreds of thousands of people around the world.
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$10 off $50 purchases, free shipping through December 2, AND a holiday gift guide - Toms has you covered!
Twitter: @TOMS
~*~

5. Warby Parker - a pair of stylish glasses for you or someone on your list means funding and/or glasses to VisionSpring and other non-profit partners, training for low-income entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own glasses-selling business, affordable glasses for communities across the globe, and lives that are bettered from your purchase. Warby Parker takes the "buy 1, give 1" and takes it a step further: the company doesn't just provide a product to the customer and an individual from the developing global community, it creates a community of self-enabled individuals and a chain of success stories - that's over 500,000 lives touched to date.

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A sweet new pair for you can mean vision for the first time for someone who was struggling before.
Twitter: @WarbyParker

Of course, your shopping at these sites doesn't have to be limited to the holiday season. These make great gifts or shopping experiences year round. The satisfaction of having paid it forward just can't be beat!

(This is not an exhaustive list of companies that follow a one for one model or support shopping with a cause. Some other social good companies are listed in this shop with meaning article. I'm sure there are many other companies - google is your friend!)

December 1, 2013

Gifts for Guys (especially dads)

alcohol, handkerchief, custom, customize, gift, present, holiday, christmas, father's day, special, dad, father, daddy, boyfriend, husband, brother, dude, guy, shopping, what to getWe've all been there. Father's Day sneaks up on you, or you keep putting off buying Dad a birthday gift in search of the perfect thing. Men are ridiculously hard to shop for, since you can only buy them so many wallets, belts, colognes, and ties before the collection turns into a hoarding.

Here are a few ideas I've recently turned to with great success:

1) Monogrammed handkerchief - I lucked on a set of these and picked them up because my dad uses a handkerchief on a daily basis. He absolutely loved them, to the point where he didn't open the box for a few months because they were "too special" and nice. Thankfully, he's since used them on special occasions (or when the rest are in the laundry!)

2) A bottle (or case) of special alcohol - if he's a beer drinker, find him some local brew. If he's into wine, treat him to an extra special bottle - you can even pair this with a vine tasting at a local vineyard if possible, or a fancy meal (some restaurants allow you to bring in your own bottle - check before making a reservation). If it's any other alcohol and he's running low, show him you pay attention and get him a bottle that he'll appreciate for some time.

3) Tickets to a game/show/concert that he would enjoy. If he wants to take you along, but you're particularly into it - suck it up! You're doing something to make him happy, so consider all the times he's probably bit his tongue and gone along with what you want. It's only fair to return the favor.

4) A meal made from scratch - foodies love it when you make the extra effort, and everyone knows the way to a man's heart is through his stomach ;) If he's the one who's into cooking, find a local restaurant that does lessons in pizza making or whatever their thing is. Some places offer one-day classes in ethnic cuisines; if he's adventurous, that's an opportunity he would love.

5) A massage appointment - even if they don't admit it, most men like to be pampered once in a while. If it's been a stressful time, they'll really appreciate this...and probably get hooked!
 
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November 23, 2013

2013 Check In #3

I have been wanting to update this blog for the longest time - hell, I've got 3-4 hauls I've been wanting to post about among other posts that are already drafted, but life has just been busy! Clearly, blogging took a back seat, despite the best of intentions.

A whopping 3 months later, I've got enough work accomplished to justify a break. Mind's still a bit preoccupied with everything else, so I'll just do a run through of my resolutions and general check in.

1. Blogging, as previously mentioned, took a hit post August. Reasons to follow.

2. Per force I've kept up with the reading - 4 English courses in one semester is no joke. Lots of diverse reading - from 20th century Irish literature to short stories by fellow classmates in a writing workshop class.

3. Four or more photo challenges!? Who was I kidding! What I have done, instead, is started an Instagram account. This is a much easier way of making sure I'm doing some photography throughout the year. I've also half-assed my way through 3 photo months, and there's still December to come, so I'll consider this fait accompli. Note to self: don't set yourself up for more photo challenges in 2014!

4. Get a job. Well, wouldn't you know it - I ended up with TWO jobs this year. AND two internships (not all simultaneously, though it was a close thing). Hurray! First job was the freelance writing, which I had to forego because my schedule got insane (full time student in my last semester, an internship and a job with the state didn't leave much room for homework and sleep, let alone interviewing and writing up articles).

5. Learn a new skill - I am a recent "graduate" of Project Management training. I'm also learning SO MANY new things on the job with Business Analysis.

7. Vacation with Mishal didn't happen this year - but plans for next year have started! Legit plans! March is happening!!! I could really use the time off.

8. Move to Atlanta - now did I really think I'd be moving to Atlanta? Move somewhere, someday, yes. Move to Atlanta in 2013, not so much. Silly me!

9. Mission get back in touch with Caitlin is a success - now to actually meet her in person again. I've got a giant hug lined up :)

10. Help Mom out more - was derailed because the focus was to finish strong in undergrad. December 10th evening onward, I'll be helping more around the house with everything.

11. Do at least one crafty project. Well, I spray painted a couple of things and did rice rangoli. Other than that, I've just pinned many, many more ideas to pursue "some" day.

12. Get healthier. yes. Lost some weight in the process. Certainly not "done" with this goal though.

13. For some reason, luck #13 - make myself priority 1 - always take a bit of a beating. Slow steps.

Having gone through the list, I'm surprised and pleased at how much more I have accomplished than I gave myself credit for. It's been a hectic year, but well spent.

One more month to go (okay, one and a half). I intend to get more blog posts up, so keep an eye out :)


August 11, 2013

Crafty Projects: DIY Solutions

The bedroom needed some TLC this weekend, and since I was in the mood, I started rearranging furniture and reorganizing everything that caught my eye.

As I dug through my half-forgotten to-do bits of projects that were scattered around the room, I was "inspired" to finally sort through what was doable and what could be shelved indefinitely.

Can you guess what sort of crafty things I might be up to with these things? ;)

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Hopefully this will break me out of my work and school rut and get the creativity flowing again ;)

So, what are you guesses? Your ideas just might spark a new project :D

July 5, 2013

10+ Blog Post Ideas for the Busy Bee

Can you believe half a year has finished? Where did 2013 go!? And what happened to summer? Thankfully I'm usually indoors courtesy internship, so I've missed most of the shit weather. But would it kill the weather gods to give us a sunny day or two?

Since I can't seen to find the time to finish a blog post (I've got 7 in various draft stages), I'll just give you a list of posts you can expect in the second half of 2013. You can let me know what you're really looking forward to reading about or suggest other post ideas.

1. Internship experience and Johari Window
2. Recommend people from _____? (insert category)
3. Clothes haul
4. Respond to madame noir article (first verify)
5. List 10 writing prompts
6. The benefits of workshopping
7. My writing "process"
8. Review an ipsy product
9. Finish "writer/label" post
10. Finish/post $ store decorating post
11. Finish/post "handy resources" post
12. My beauty/skin care routine
13. Bubble bath post
14. $ store craft ideas
15. My dream shoe at a dream cost
16. This to that

I do love my lists ;)

June 20, 2013

My Summer Days 2013

My holidays somehow end up being busier than regular "working" semesters. Go figure.

I had just about one free week, and then all this started:

1) Two online classes - both four weeks long, both reading intensive. Past experience with summer classes did not prepare me for this!
2) Summer internship - Unpaid summer internship. My last internship was more work oriented, but it was a paid internship. Since this is for college credit, so far it's been more classes and more READING!
This is not the sort of reading I had planned on doing this summer. At least I get college credit at the end of it all (hopefully) ...?
3) Freelance writing job - (thank you craigslist.) I get to interview local business people and do write-ups. My first article just published ... SUPER excited to join a family history of published writing.
Life has a funny way of coming full circle. When I'd started majoring in English I'd been warned to avoid journalism because it was not lucrative or glamorous. Well, this isn't glamorous, but it's my only source of money for the time being.

There are other things that keep me busy. Searching for, applying for, and praying for another (unpaid!) internship for the fall. This will be a guaranteed 3 credits towards my major. All this unpaid business ... I'm consoling myself with a) I'll be learning new skills and exploring something new b) It'll be a good experience to put on the resume and c) The networking possibilities are fantastic. Somewhere between 8 hours of internship, 6 hours of class work, 6 hours of sleep, 2 hours of getting ready/eating/taking a breath, I'm squeezing in chores like sorting through years worth of memories and junk in order to clear up space in the house, contacting people for regular communications, showering, searching for a real paying job, reading for pleasure, blogging, establishing a professional net-presence, catching up on shows/youtube, learning new things, and spending quality time with the family. (If you do the math, the last litany of things is accomplished in a 2 hour window.)

lists, planning, plans, planner, list, to do, to-do, options, intentions, the pen is mightier than the sword
Plans Are For Amateurs

What I'd intended to do this summer:

1) Get through my mom's recipe diary - it's got well over 100 recipes and I wanted to make as many as possible.
2) Try a new recipe a week from the myriad of cookbooks we've collected over the years, but never actually used.
3) Read. Specifically, FREE read things that have been sitting on my to-read and to-re-read list for ages!
4) Take up a photo-project.
5) Digitize all the old print photos.
6) Clean and organize various parts of the house because they need an overhaul.
7) Write! I really wanted to get into the habit of writing on a daily basis, but I'm lucky if I catch a proper sleep on a daily basis.
8) Pick up a new skill/learn something new. This will happen by the way at the internship, but I'd been thinking of something a little less work-oriented.
9) Paint ... I'd finally gotten some surge of inspiration. Now I have a muse running lose in my head and no time to let her express herself on canvas.
10) Travel. This would have been a great time to do a family trip, but now even the weekends are booked with papers for these stupid classes.

What's that saying? We plan and God laughs...

June 11, 2013

Revlon Lip Butter Review - Loving it!

I blame MissBudgetBeauty (in the best of ways) for the following:

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revlon, lip butter, lipstick, makeup, beauty, lip color, moisturizing, sale


Also, I lucked out on a killer sale at CVS a couple of weeks back. Don't know why the Revlon Lip Butters were marked down by 75%, but I'm not one to question a good deal.

Yes, I'm late to the party. I haven't been a big lipstick person. I've always preferred lip glosses, but the latest trend of sticky lip glosses has had me searching for alternatives.

At $2.12 I said why the heck not to the Revlon Lip Butters. These had received good reviews from people I trust and I'd been wanting to try one out for some time. Well one became eight because I couldn't decide on a color. Oodles of swatches online, including a mega swatch here.

In current rotation are Peach Parfait and Sugar Plum. I stuck to my safe palette and am already regretting I didn't include something more daring like Lollipop.

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I like that it goes on smooth and starts off a bit sheer, playing up my natural color. 1-2 coats is almost like a stain, but they are buildable so you can get really good pigmentation. I've stayed away from lipsticks because they tend to be drying or wear off really fast, but I haven't had either of those problems with the Lip Butters. In fact, if anything, they have worked like a balm on my lips, leaving me softer even on days I don't use them.

The only negative I have for this is the tube design. The base to cap ratio is 10% to 90% and that makes getting the cap off a little tricky. After the first couple of times you get the hang of it and the cap pops off easy (and clicks back into place securely). But the design might have been better balanced at 25% to 75%. Anyway, it's a minor thing, considering the actual product is really good.

If $8 works for you, or you find Lip Butters on sale, I'd say definitely snag one (2, 3, 4...).

Thank you Mikhila!