Spring 2016 Beauty Favorites | BEDA Day 25

Despite my love of makeup and hair, I feel like I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. I haven’t bought a lot of new products in the past few months and my look has been pretty much the same every day. I’ve been trying to remedy that this month by trying out some products that have been hiding in my makeup case and grabbing a few new things from Sephora and the drugstore. As we’re nearing the end of BEDA (and I’m running out of ideas for #content), here are a few of my favorite products from the past few weeks.

Goody Spin Pins

Image via Goody

These little spiral guys* have changed my life, and that’s not an overstatement. I have pretty thick hair, so it takes a fair amount of pins to get it into a neat bun. I was a little skeptical when I heard that these pins do the work of 10 bobby pins, but I decided to give them a try. While it still takes me two pins to secure my bun, my style doesn’t budge once the pins are in. For someone who spends a fair amount of time picking bobby pins out of her head, these pins are total game changers. I’m in love.

Urban Decay Primer Potion

Image via Ulta

I recently ran out of my beloved, but sadly not cruelty free, MAC Paint Pot and needed something to keep my eyelids from looking sad veiny. I tried another similar product, and while it covered my lids nicely, it totally sucked as an eyeshadow primer. My lids were a creasy mess after a few hours. I managed to dig a sample of Urban Decay’s Primer Potion out of my makeup case, and I’m not sure why I abandoned this product in the first place. It covers my veins enough that I feel comfortable wearing it on its own, and works wonders under a powder shadow. I welcome you back with open arms, old friend.

Pacifica Eyeshadow

Image via Ipsy

When it comes to eyeshadow, I’m more of a palette girl. Single shadows tend to get lost at the bottom of my makeup bag, never to be seen again. A few months ago, I decided to dig out a sample of Pacifica’s eyeshadow I received in an Ipsy bag, and I’ve used it almost every day since. This particular shadow is a great champagne color that gives my eyes a little shimmer without looking too overdone. The best part is that Pacifica’s products are all natural, cruelty free, and relatively inexpensive. I’m definitely a fan.*

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

Image via Beauty.com

Putting on a thick night cream before bed is one of my favorite parts of the day. The First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream* has kept my skin nice and soft through the harsh winter months and now through the seasonal transition. My skin also feels like it has more elasticity, which is something I worry about as I start to actively age. It’s all downhill after 21, kids.

Lush Ambrosia Shaving Cream

Image via Lush

Do you know how hard it is to find a cruelty free shaving cream that actually works?! The struggle was pretty real until I discovered this beauty from Lush. While it’s more designed for faces, this product is really good at preventing razor burn, particularly for those of us with sensitive skin. I also much prefer the control of a bottle to Lush’s tub packaging. I always end up running out quicker with the latter.

It’s been a pretty solid few months for me beauty-wise. What have you been loving this spring? Let me know in the comments!

I Tried Buzzfeed’s Meal Prep Plan So You Don’t Have To | BEDA Day 24

Meal Prep Sunday should seem like a total dream to a lazy girl like myself. You get all your cooking for the week out of the way on one afternoon and spend minimal time in the kitchen after work. It’s easy and helps you stay on a healthy diet. Despite all this, I couldn’t quite get behind the meal prep craze until recently. I never have quite enough time on Sundays to do all the necessary cooking, and doing a big shop every week can add up. After a week of one too many Seamless orders, though, I decided to give it a try.

I’d been eyeing this meal prep plan from Buzzfeed for a while. It uses lots of my favorite foods and each dish looks great on its own. A few weeks ago, I took the plunge and set aside a few hours to get everything together.

I made a few changes to the plan to fit my personal preferences. I don’t eat a lot of pork, so I swapped that out for a pound or so of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I’m not a huge fan of tomatoes or corn, so those were out. My local grocery store was also out of zucchini, so I skipped that as well.

My first step when I got home was to get the chickens going in the crock-pot. I consider myself a bit of a crock-pot master, so this was easy enough. About halfway through the chicken’s cook time, I started in on the veggies. The carrots I bought were not nearly as thick as those pictured in the article, but I figured I’d give them a try anyway. I doused the carrots and peppers in oil and seasonings and popped them in the oven on a baking tray.

As this was my first foray into roasting, I wasn’t totally sure I was doing the right thing. As it turns out, I wasn’t. I put the vegetables on a flat baking sheet rather than one meant for roasting, and they burnt to a crisp. Some of the peppers were salvageable, but the carrots were a complete disaster. Rookie mistake, Dow.

While the vegetables were roasting burning, I threw a few cups of rice into a pot. It ended up being WAY more rice than I could possibly need on my own, so I froze half of it. Hopefully it’ll actually be edible down the road. I steamed some broccoli as well to get some greens good to go.

The chicken came out tender and delicious, as it usually does after a few hours of slow cooking. Again, I probably made way more than I actually needed and threw most of it in a large tupperware in the refrigerator.

I ate my first meal, the rice bowl, that night. It wasn’t quite as bland as I thought it would be, as everything was fresh from the oven/stove/crock-pot. A little shredded cheese would’ve added something to it, but I forgot to pick that up at the grocery store. It fueled me up for a night of drinks and comedy with some coworkers and I only ordered one snack at the bar.

The next night I went with fried rice, which is pretty much a staple of my cooking repertoire. The rice took a minute or two to declump from sitting in the refrigerator, but after improvising with some of the chicken, it turned out pretty well. I saved a bit for lunch, but forgot to bring it with me in the morning. Such is life.

After an evening gym session on Tuesday, I wasn’t really in the mood to prep anything for dinner. I ended up leaving everything in the refrigerator and heated up a frozen pizza instead. I went with fried rice again on Wednesday night, as I needed to cook something fast before running some errands. Things were starting to smell kind of iffy by Thursday, so I dumped the extra chicken and rice and ended up making some pasta instead.

So, did Meal Prep Sunday work out for me? Yes and no. I got a few easy dishes out of it, but after a few days, nothing in the plan looked particularly appetizing. I also ended up cooking way more food than I actually needed, and it kind of pained me to throw it out after a few days. On the bright side, I learned from my roasting failure and had a few days of excellent chicken.

I would probably try another meal prep plan before embarking on this one again. Something with less meat and more ingredients I will actually eat. My friend Amanda has made a bunch of videos about meal prep and cooking that have given me some great ideas. As for the Buzzfeed plan, it’s going to take a little time before I try it again.

On Being “Petite” | BEDA Day 23

I am what the fashion industry classifies as “petite.” I am 5’1” (on a good day), have small proportions, and can still fit into kids shoes. Almost everything I buy has to be from a petite section or tailored until I can actually wear it without looking ridiculous. I’m privileged in that I can go to a store like H&M and actually find clothes in my size, but they rarely look right on my body.

This all makes shopping extremely difficult. And expensive.

The petite sections of most department stores are pretty terrible. They’re full of bland pantsuits that even Hillary would pass on and basic blouses and pants that are fine, but not particularly trendy or fun. There’s something to be said for sticking with well-made basics that fit, but I want to have the choice to branch out and try new things. I shouldn’t be shut out of having fun with my personal style just because I’m short.

If I decide to venture out of the petite section, I eventually end up paying extra for tailoring. It’s usually worth it, but that’s an extra $20+ I wouldn’t have to pay for a garment were I a few inches taller. I may just be stubborn, but I’m on a budget, yo! I’d like to only pay for my new pair of jeans once.

And what about the ladies who are curvy AND petite? A lot of petite lines seem to cater to tiny, waifish figures (much like the rest of the fashion industry), effectively shutting out anyone who is short and above a size 12. That just doesn’t seem fair.

I like to think things are getting better for us short girls. Trendier brands like LOFT, Anthropologie, Topshop, and more offer pieces in petite sizes, even dedicating (small) sections of their stores to us. There’s even more selection online on sites like ASOS. I’ve also managed to find a few petite fashion bloggers, like Alterations Needed and The View From 5 Ft. 2, to get more style inspiration.

Despite all this, I never feel like I’ll get this whole “shopping” thing right. I have a tendency to walk into a store, try on a bunch of stuff, and leave with nothing. This is great for my wallet, but not great for my closet. The petite struggle is real, y’all. I think I’ll just stick with the juniors section for a few more years. They seem to get me.

Friday Link Round-Up | BEDA Day 22

Happy Friday (and Earth Day), y’all! We’re nearing the home stretch of BEDA and boy, am I tired. This could also just be burn out from waking up early every day this week (who am I?), but I’m dragging this morning. I’m looking forward to a weekend of shows (including American Psycho), a quick jaunt back home, and some time to get my life back together. I’ll also be blasting “Purple Rain” all weekend in honor of his purpleness, Prince, who left us too soon yesterday.

In case you’re looking for some weekend reads, check out some of these gems of the interwebs:

“How Prince Taught Me About Sexuality” by Nichole Perkins – Buzzfeed

“I’m a Traveler on a Budget – Not a Budget Traveler” by Rosie Spinks – The Billfold

“How Every NYC TV Character Would Vote in the New York State Primary” – Vulture

“10 Hotel Lobbies to Work From in LA, San Francisco, NYC and Chicago” by Amber Gibson – The Points Guy

“In Its First Season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Greatest Legacy Is (Finally) Bringing the Asian Bro to Television” by Jada Yuan – Vulture

A Culinary Tour of DC and Arlington | BEDA Day 21

DC Food-4

Last weekend, I joined some of my favorite ladies in the world for a weekend of adventures in Washington, DC and the surrounding area. We were there to celebrate Leslie’s birthday and finally hang out like real adults, outside of a conference setting. It was an amazing three days filled with great talks, near-perfect weather, and lots of food. Seriously, by some happy accident most of the weekend revolved around eating and drinking.

U Street Mural 2

After checking into our AirBnB in Arlington, we made our way down to U Street to check out the scene. The U Street Corridor has been experiencing something of a renaissance in the last few decades, and is now home to lots of cool shops, bars, and clubs. While wandering the neighborhood, we found this gorgeous mural and had to do a bit of a photoshoot.

U Street Mural 1

If you find a mural in a city alley and don’t take an OOTD photo, where you really ever there?

u street mural 3

The lovely Allyson

The Saloon DC 1

At the suggestion of Amanda, we stopped into The Saloon, a no-frills bar and restaurant on the main drag. The Saloon is all about social interaction – you won’t find any TVs here and cell phones are highly discouraged. Their beer selection is top notch, though. I fell in love with a fruity wheat beer called Ruby Red that I will probably never be able to find again. I guess it’s better to have loved and lost, than to not have tasted Ruby Red at all.

The Saloon DC 1DC Metro

Remember when I said this was our first time hanging out outside of a conference? Well, we managed to find one anyway. After a breakfast of beignets at Bayou Bakery, we took the Metro down to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to check out the USA Science & Engineering Festival. While the exhibitors geared their booths more towards kids, it was cool too see all the innovation coming out of the participating organizations. Seeing so many kids, particularly girls, get excited about STEM and STEAM work was particularly heart-warming.

ragtime arlington bloody mary bar

We all managed to sleep in on Sunday and met up for brunch at Ragtime, a casual spot with Cajun flair. Ragtime is particularly well known for their Sunday brunch menu, featuring waffle and Bloody Mary bars, live music, and plenty of other goodies. As a Leslie Knope-in-training, I went straight for the waffle bar, piling on all the fruit and syrup my heart desired. Between that and several cups of coffee, I was highly content.
ragtime arlington live music ragtime arlington bar

All in all, it was a really great weekend. We may have laid pretty low, but it was so nice to have a few days to recharge and catch up with great friends that I don’t get to see that often. Sometimes just having a few beers in someone’s apartment is better than seeing everything a city has to offer. Plus, look at the sunset from our AirBnB. Why would I want to miss that?

arlington sunset

DC, thanks for a great few days. I’ll be back before you know it.

Three Cheap Things to Do in Philadelphia | BEDA Day 20

Philadelphia is kind of the middle child of the mid-Atlantic region. Quite literally. Philly is located in the middle of two of the most influential and populous cities in the country, New York City and Washington, DC. We’re sometimes overlooked when bands schedule their nationwide tours and we’ve only been featured in a handful of travel shows. Did you all forget where the Declaration of Independence was signed? Sheesh!

Philadelphia is so much more than a historic site or a stop between New York and DC. It’s a cultural hotspot with tons of museums, theaters, and music venues, and has a great energy for a young traveler to latch onto. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Philadelphia that won’t break the bank.

 

Philadelphia is home to a treasure trove of art museums and galleries. The most famous of these (thank you, Rocky) is the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The PMA houses a huge variety of art, from ancient works to more contemporary pieces. Admission to the museum includes access to the Rodin Museum, the largest collection of Rodin’s work outside of Paris, and the Perelman Building. Three museums for the price of one isn’t a bad deal in my book. If you’re on a budget, the PMA offers Pay-What-You-Wish admission on Wednesday nights after 5 PM and every first Sunday of the month.

On the quirkier side of Philly’s art scene are the Philadelphia Magic Gardens. Created by Isaiah Zagar, the Magic Gardens are a series of outdoor mosaic murals made out of tiles, bottles, bicycle wheels, mirrors and other recycled objects that cover a half block of South Street. For a small fee you can stay in the gardens for as long as you want, exploring their quirks and taking in Zagar’s art. PMG also hosts events throughout the year that showcase Philadelphia’s local talent. After you finish up at the Magic Gardens, continue down South Street and check out the funky boutiques, bars, and venues located there.

Philadelphia’s theatre scene has grown exponentially in the last few years, and the city has become a hub for world-class theatre. You can find listings of all of the shows currently running in Philadelphia on theatrephiladelphia.org. Many theatre companies offer student rush tickets or discounts for patrons in their 20s. If you’re visiting Philly in September, make sure to catch some of the shows at the FringeArts Festival. FringeArts features cutting edge performances from up-and-coming companies and is one of the best places to scope out new talent.

As you can tell, the City of Brotherly Love has a lot to offer a young traveler. It’s a necessary stop on any trip to the East Coast and a must for lovers of the visual and performing arts. For more information on Philadelphia travel, check out visitphilly.com.

Photo Credit: Michael Righi. 

You’d Better Vote | BEDA Day 19

The New York Presidential Primaries are today, and I’m incredibly excited to hit the polls. Nothing makes me feel more adult than participating in the democratic system. I’ve voted in both presidential elections and local school board elections, and I always try to read up on the candidates ahead of time to make an informed choice. Of course, this makes me a bit of an outsider among my generation. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who just don’t plan or aren’t paying attention to the election at all.

First of all, kudos to you if you’ve actually been able to avoid all coverage of this year’s circus of an election. And second of all, that’s bananas. You’d better vote.

I’m not going to get too political or tell you who to vote for. That’s not my beat. I’m not really one to push people towards any particular candidate (especially since I have mixed feelings about all of this year’s options).

A representative democracy doesn’t work if its constituents don’t participate. You want things to change? Show up at the polls. Call your representative. Rally for a cause. Sure, things are broken, but we can still make our voices heard. We in the United States are so privileged to have a say in our government, even if the people we choose to lead it don’t always do what we want. Why wouldn’t you take advantage of that?

I encourage you all to take a little time, read up on the candidates, and show up at your polling place. And if you’re not registered yet, get on that. Even if your state’s primary has passed, there’s still plenty of time to register for November’s general election.

You’re not allowed to complain about the winner if you didn’t vote. Get out there.

Photo Credit: Theresa Thompson

Outfit: Spring is for Polka Dots | BEDA Day 18

modcloth outfit-2

Dress: Modcloth* | Belt: Modcloth (old) | Jacket: LOFT | Shoes: Aerosoles*

Folks, spring is here at last. I’ve worn dresses without tights for the last two days and I haven’t frozen to death. This is a true accomplishment. I’m really enjoying this brief moment of actually being comfortable outside. I have just a few weeks before I start sweating for 4 months, and I plan on taking full advantage of them.

These shots were taken on the balcony of the AirBnB I stayed in this weekend in Washington, DC. I love a good balcony, I love some exposed brick, and I LOVE this outfit. This dress is super fun and comfy and I plan on wearing it all the time this summer. This jacket is also a wonderful replacement for my beloved Topshop denim jacket that recently sprouted a hole in the elbow. We’re going to be inseparable until it gets too hot to warrant a jacket again.

modcloth outfit

This dress is one of my favorite new finds from Modcloth. If you haven’t shopped Modcloth’s huge array of vintage-inspired threads yet, you can now get 20% off your first order of $100. Not a bad deal if you ask me. Check out their amazing selection of spring styles here*.

How to Survive Convention Season | BEDA Day 17

Summer is an exciting time to be a nerd. We have more time to catch up on the movies, video games, and books we’ve been neglecting all year. Summer also brings something many nerds like myself look forward to all year long: Convention Season.

San Diego Comic Con, GeekyCon, Vidcon, Anime Expo, PAX Prime, Dragon*Con…a nerd can rack up some serious frequent flier miles in the short summer months. Attending lots of conventions in a short period of time is awesome, but how do you avoid feeling totally burnt out by Labor Day? As a (somewhat) seasoned con attendee I’m here to share some of my tips and tricks for avoiding TCSE – Total Con Season Exhaustion.

First off, pace yourself. Try not to attend two conventions back-to-back if you can avoid it. Give yourself at least two weeks between conventions to recover and ready yourself for the next round. At each con, don’t run from one panel to the next. Take plenty of breaks just to sit down and get away from the crowds for a few minutes. Go to Starbucks and get a cup of coffee or go take a power nap in your hotel room. If you schedule your breaks well you won’t miss anything important.

On a similar note, SLEEP. Sure, you want to party in your friend’s hotel room all night, but you probably won’t have any fun at the con if you’re a zombie the next day (unless you’re cosplaying as that chick from iZombie). No amount of coffee can measure up to a good night’s sleep. Try to get at least 5 hours of sleep in a bed. Your back and your brain will thank you for it.

Pack accordingly! You will probably be on your feet for most of the day at any given convention, so comfy shoes and clothes are necessary. If you’re cosplaying, keep an extra pair of shoes in your bag in case your platforms give out on you or your ankles need a break. Also, bring plenty of snacks that will hold up well in your bag. This will save you money (food on the floor can get pricey) and will keep you from trying to eat the person in front of you in line Walking Dead-style.

Know where you’re going. Read up on the host city ahead of time and find out where the nearby hospitals, pharmacies, restaurants, police stations, etc. are located. If you don’t have a car, figure out how you’re going to get to and from the convention before you even get on the plane. Program the number of a local cab company and the convention center’s security department into your phone. You never know what’s going to happen while you’re away, so it’s best to be as prepared as possible.

Finally, set a budget for the whole summer and for each specific convention. Between registration, hotels, flights, and all the awesome stuff sold on the floor, cons can get pretty pricey. Figure out how much money you plan on spending ahead of time and keep track of how much you spend when you’re there. This way you’ll get what you want out of the convention without having to hitchhike home.

What are some convention season tips you’ve picked up over the years? Let me know in the comments. Have a safe and fun convention season, and I’ll see you this year at Vidcon!

studying college freshmen tips advice

Five Unconventional Tips for College Freshmen | BEDA Day 16

Congratulations! You got into college! You’re probably looking for some advice for your freshman year, right? I’ll save you some time and tell you that a lot of these posts will offer the same advice: set ground rules with your roommate, introduce yourself to new people, consider joining Greek life, pack light, etc. While this is all great advice, I’ve come up with some of my own tips for college freshmen and first-timers over the years. As a recent grad, I consider myself an semi-expert in the field. Emphasis on the “semi.”

1. You DO need to bring your giant teddy bear.

Most articles providing college tips will advise you to pack light, as dorm rooms are pretty tiny. While this is a good idea, it’s important to bring along some of the comforts of home. It’s nice to come back to your thousand-year-old teddy bear and pictures of your friends after a rough exam. Pack things that will make you feel comfortable in your new space, however large and embarrassing they may be. 

2. The weirder the club, the better.

Your school will probably hold an activities fair within the first few days of the semester. Here you can get to know some of the organizations on campus and sign up for their mailing lists. Activities fairs may sound lame, but they’re definitely worth attending, if anything for the (almost guaranteed) free food. Get on the mailing lists of the weird clubs, like the paranormal investigations group or the lightsaber dueling team. You’re bound to meet interesting people here, and even if you don’t join the club you’ll leave the first meeting with a few new Facebook friends.

3. STUDY.

This seems obvious, but so many students write academics off freshmen year. DON’T DO THAT. The grades you get this year do affect your GPA and lay the groundwork for the rest of your academic career. If you build up a solid cumulative GPA this year, you’ll have something to fall back on when have to take harder courses as an upperclassman. Bio 101 may be grueling, but it’s worth it to show up. You may actually learn something.

4. Don’t force a friendship with your roommate.

Unless you’re going to the same college as your best friend from high school or you found the perfect roommate online, it’s likely that the person sleeping in the bed next to you will be a complete stranger chosen at random by university housing. Maybe you’ll have a few things in common, but you probably won’t be best friends forever. This is okay. Focus on living (somewhat) harmoniously with this person rather than forcing them to be your friend. Give your roommate some space and, above all, COMMUNICATE.

5. Be genuine.

College is a time to start fresh and leave your high school self behind – or at least that’s what I’ve been told. Some people see this as an opportunity to craft a new persona far from who they actually are. When meeting new people, be yourself, and be genuine. You don’t have to come up with new stories to make yourself sound cool to the people you meet your first year of school. Cliche as it sounds, the right people will think you’re awesome just the way you are.

Do you have any unconventional tips for freshman? Let me know in the comments! Best of luck next year, future freshbabies!