Thursday, August 30, 2012

Advice to New Grad Students

Grad school is harder than anything you've done before. People say this, and you'll think "how hard could it be? I was so good in undergrad. I never even had to do the reading, I just Knew Things!", and I'm telling you, it's not the same. It's very very different. You will cry in your office, or in the lounge, or in your advisor's office, or in your room, alone (or, more than likely, all of the above places). You won't understand things that you thought you KNEW. It'll be ok, I promise.

Grad school isn't very structured. You'll have to figure your own shit out, and it's going to take longer than you think it will. Everything will take more time than you think it will. Readings will be longer and more complicated. You will fuck up some minor step in your data analysis or cleaning and have to redo the whole thing, probably five times. You will be given enough rope to hang yourself with, and it will be easier than you think to get your priorities out of order and not be able to do everything you're supposed to do, because sometimes it seems like you have forever to do things. There is a reason you have so long--it takes a REALLY long time. You will eventually get things done, because that's just what happens, but you really don't want to be that one person in your cohort who is always the late one. Don't be that person.

Befriend your cohort. Seriously. You are probably far from home and people you know, and you are not going to be able to get through your program without making some good friends. Have 1-2 people who are your new besties, people who you are with more often than not (e.g. The Boy and Superman). Have a girlfriend or two to go shopping with, or to go to brunch with, or who will go see the new chick flick with you when the boys don't want to. Start a regular department happy hour once a week where you can go and laugh about how crazy your professors are. Go to the parties. Even if you have a significant other. Especially if you have a significant other, because, chances are, if you do, you will want to be a hermit and stay with them or Skype with them, and you'll burn out because you have no support system where you are. That being said, try to find a few friends outside your cohort (and even though I'm breaking my own rule), don't date someone in your cohort. You have to spend so much time with these people, sometimes it's nice to just get away from them.

If you don't like who you were before, now is a really good time to reinvent yourself. More than likely, you are far from all you know and love, and like (most) undergrad experiences, this gives you the chance to try new things and become someone you like better. Develop new habits, learn new (non-grad-school-related) things. Find new favorite places. Become friends with someone who you don't think you have anything in common with.

There is always something you COULD be doing and almost always something you SHOULD be doing. You'll need to just have to let that go sometimes, and just watch TV or bake or drink or blog or scrapbook or go on a date or just take a nap. It'll be ok. You can't let the guilt of relaxing ruin your relaxing.

Remember why you decided to come to grad school. Remember that you love what you're doing, because there will be a lot of days that you don't love it. Remember your bigger goals and the things you wanted before you wanted to go to grad school. Know when it's worth it to make a sacrifice and when it isn't. Enjoy learning. Enjoy teaching. Enjoy creating new knowledge. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

August Birchbox!

My August Birchbox came while I was in NY (after a few shipping delays--they said it shipped on like the 4th or the 6th, I didn't get it until 2 weeks later, which was much longer than the Glam Bag that shipped using the same method 2 days later and arrived about a week earlier)


Viva la Juicy La Fleur ($70)
 This stuff is supposed to be a softer, more floral version of Viva La Juicy, but seeing as how I've never smelled that, I can't attest. I like the scent right at first, but as Bestie said in her review, after a little while, it begins to smell like baby prostitute. I've worn it around The Boy, but he hasn't commented, which doesn't mean he doesn't like it, but doesn't mean he's very fond of it either. He normally comments if he thinks I smell good.
**1/2 out of 5 stars

Miss Jessie's Original Stretch Silkening Creme ($22)
This stuff is supposed to help loosen and relax tight curls. Unfortunately, my hair is only kinda wavy, so this does the exact opposite of what I would want curl cream to do. I didn't try it, I just gave it to my African-American roommate. I was pretty bummed, too, because when I was looking at the things that could be sent out this month, I really wanted basically any of the other Miss Jessie's products, as they would have been more my style.
No stars from me since I can't actually use it. 

Pixi Beauty Lip and Line ($18) 
This dual-ended lip liner and lipstick is great. I really like that it matches perfectly and that it's subtle--it gives my pale, pale face some color without screaming HEY! I'M WEARING LIPSTICK!!! It doesn't kiss off, it isn't drying or flaky, and it seems to last a while (although not all day like the promo seems to imply). They had some on clearance at Target the other day that I wanted to buy, but it was a very, very pale shade of pink that I didn't think would be very flattering.
**** out of 5 stars

Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream ($16)
Yet another "miracle" moisturizer/lotion... I used it on my feet, which are super dry/peeling from all o the walking that The Boy makes me do (my vacations consist of reading by the pool and sipping fruity drinks. His include walking for miles and miles). While it helped a little last night, they are rough and dry again in the morning--not exactly what I'd call a miracle, and not really worth $16--I'd rather just use my regular Jergen's lotion and save the $9. Plus, the tube was SUUUPER small. If you're going to send out lotions, you really need them to be at least 3 oz. It has been decided.
** 1/2 out of 5 stars

Shick Hydro 5 Razor ($10)
This is a "Birchbox Find"--something designed to make our lives simpler or better. It was a nice addition, because this is the razor I normally use, so it's always good to have a spare, especially since they're kinda pricey, and the razor paid for the box.
***** out of 5 stars

Overall, I have pretty mixed feelings about this box. I really love the razor and the lipstick, but the razor isn't really why I signed up for Birchbox, and it wasn't something new that I was getting to try. I wasn't crazy about the other 3 items... I'm hoping the next few boxes are more to my liking. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

August My Glam Bag!

My August Glam Bag came on the 13th and included 6 items + the requisite cosmetics bag.

Can I just say that I am drowning in cosmetics bags even more than I'm drowning in nail polish (which I also got from Glam Bag)? Clinique always gives me one when I get one of their "free gift with purchase" things, and now I'll be getting one every month from Glam Bag. I wish they would do more of the "clutch" type bags in the future like they've done when it's been a clubby-themed month. Although I've heard those were actually kinda crappy, so maybe not. Whatever, I can figure out uses for my 8 bajillion cosmetics bags. Maybe I'll use them to put presents in or make little "survival" kits for someone or something. I don't know.

Anyway, things I got in my bag:

Demeter "Clean Skin" Roll-On Perfume Oil: $10 for the .29 fl oz size (what we got), $39.50 for the 4 oz cologne spray. "Clean Skin is a blend of orange, lemon, white rose, bergamot peach and vanilla, making the perfect shower-fresh scent."
Umm... I'll give it a couple of days, but so far I'm not crazy about the smell. It seems a little old-ladyish to me. I might have liked the alternative better (Dragon Fruit). It also doesn't seem to last very long. I put it on 4 hours ago, and I can't even smell a hint of it now, with my wrist right up to my nose.
*out of 5

S.A.L.T.Y Cosmetics Glama-ZOID Eyeshadow: $3.95 for the sample (what we got), $14.97 for the large size (2.5g), which is a pretty dumb price hike from the 1.25g size for $4.50. You can get three of the small ones for less ($13.50) than one of the big ones... and you get 50% more product. Learn math, people.
"Glama-ZOID!, an iridescent violet pink satin has a sexy touch of light reflecting sparkle. This shadow is perfect for all skin tones and works as an amazing highlighter for brow bone and inner corners."
This stuff is good for a highlighter on nights when you'll be going out or if you need to be particularly sparkly for some reason, but it's definitely too glittery for every day use. It would have been a great addition to my fairy costume last Halloween, though.
***out of 5.

 Eclos Cellular Activator Facial Serum: $24.99 for 1.7 oz.
"This lightweight serum from Eclos helps wake up skin's self-renewal process to revitalize fatigued, stressed skin. Unique plant extracts help boost firmness and tone to smooth out fine lines and damage." 
So far, I've only used it a couple of times, but I kinda like it. It feels nice on my skin. As to whether or not it helps wrinkles, I couldn't tell you, since I've only got the one on my forehead that isn't so bad (but still makes me sad).
***1/2 out of 5

Eclos Moisture Therapy Regenerative Cream: $24.99 for 2.0 oz.
"This medium-weight moisturizer with restorative benefits helps smooth and brighten for a youthful finish."
I'm not super crazy about this stuff. It feels kinda weird and doesn't glide on that well. I wouldn't buy it, but it isn't horrible. I'll keep using it with the serum until they run out.
** out of 5.

You get free shipping on the Eclos website, but only if you order more than $25 worth of products... and their most expensive products are $24.99 each. That's pretty annoying, and kind of a scam. Increase your prices by a penny, or don't offer free shipping at that price. It's kind of a crappy thing to do to your customers. 

Circus by Andrea's Choice Nail Color in Spectacle Not yet available for sale, so no price info
"This month, I'm causing a color spectacle with the newest shades from my CIRCUS collection. Join me, your ringleader, and show the world your hottest nail looks with the newest shades of vegan, cruelty-free nail polish, Spectacle and Ringmaster, from the exclusive collection curated by me, myglam stylist, Andrea's Choice".
I do not like orange, and this is a particularly hideous shade. I know neons are in right now, but neon orange is always a bad sign. Neon orange means traffic delays and escaped cons. Neon orange means the terror alert is higher and the security line at the airport will be longer. Neon orange does not look good on me. Also, I DON'T NEED ANY MORE NAIL POLISH FOR SEVERAL MONTHS. I suppose I can try it on my toes, but it will probably get given to someone who likes orange. Or I will use it to paint something for Brother, whose favorite color is orange. I haven't tried it yet to see how it goes on/if it chips. I definitely would have preferred "Ringleader", which is a hot pink color. I love hot pink. And if my sample companies insist on sending nail polish, can I get some reds, please? I have the hardest time finding the perfect red. Or what about a really awesome base or top coat? Those are always hard to find and usually expensive, and always run out the fastest, because you use them every time you paint your nails.
No stars yet, as it is unsampled.

My Glam Lip Gloss There was no info about this in the bag or the website, and I'm assuming you can't buy it online because it's a Glam Bag exclusive.  
Pros: Smells/tastes good, the color isn't bad
Cons: Sticky, not super noticeable (meaning you have to put a lot on to notice anything other than the stickiness), the color is just ok.
***out of 5. Not my favorite gloss ever, but it will probably get worked into the rotation. I like it over my Clinique Mega Melon chubby stick.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sample Society!

My Sample Society Box and Allure Magazine came this week!

I was very excited, because my Sample Society box came at the same time as some stuff I had ordered from Sephora, so I had two packages show up on the same day. So nice.

The Sample Society Box included:

Deborah Lippmann Nail Lacquer, Private Dancer. I believe this is full size, and retails for $18! 
I haven't tried it yet, because I am drowning in nail polish from Julep (definitely skipping next month unless I have a free month), but I love purple, so hopefully it will turn out well. Since the box cost $15, the nail polish alone paid for the box (not that I would EVER pay $18 for nail polish, but you get the idea) 
No stars yet, since I haven't actually tried it

Elemental Herbology Moisture Milk Deluxe Sample, full size $78
I used it a couple of times, and it's nice, for moisturizer, but I wouldn't say it's any better than Clinique's Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel, which is what I currently use, and which is approximately 1/3 the price.
*** out of 5

Phyto Phytonectar Oil Deluxe Sample, full size $30
I've only used this once (it says use 1-2x weekly for 5 weeks), but I think it might have helped my terrible, terrible split ends a little bit. I'll keep using it and see what happens. Hopefully, it will help heal some of the damage I've done to my hair and help it to grow.
***1/2 out of 5

Jane Iredale Longest Lash Mascara, Black Ice Deluxe Sample, full size $33. 
I wasn't crazy about this mascara--it was pretty dry and it took about a million coats before I really noticed it. I wasn't allergic to it, so that's good, but I won't buy it, that's for sure.
** out of 5

Arcona Cranberry Toner Deluxe Sample, full size $32
I liked the smell, and it seemed to do a good job of getting the last of the dirt and makeup that washing my face had left behind (sidenote: I am always amazed and disgusted by all the crap left after washing my face. I try to do a good job and wash for a long time, but good lord, it's always really ridiculous). It did not, however, have that familiar tingly, oxidizing feeling that I like most toners to have because I feel like that is the stuff that kills the bacteria that causes breakouts. It was nice, but not great, and I won't be buying.
***1/2 out of 5

I haven't tried that Malin Goetzl bonus packet yet either.

I'll give this one another 2-3 months, but if I don't start seeing some things that are 4-5 stars, I'll cancel. There's no point in getting a bunch of samples of things that I wouldn't think about buying anyway, right? Plus, $15/month is a little steep for stuff I'm not crazy about.

***I paid for my own Sample Society Subscription and all opinions are my own

Monday, August 6, 2012

Baby Brother is all grown up

Brother's birthday is upon us, and I want to commemorate it the way I have the last several important birthdays that I have celebrated: with a list of reasons why this person is awesome. Without further ado:

1) His work ethic. He may be a little bit of a punk, but he manages to participate in several teams/extracurricular activities while holding down a job and making the honor roll (with several honors/AP classes), and is consistently one of the hardest working people at his job
2) He makes me laugh, whether it's with his God-awful impressions, his RIDICULOUS ego, or the way he taunts mom and dad, he pretty much never fails to force me to crack a smile.
3) He wants to be a special ed teacher because he wants to work with the happiest kids on campus.
4) He volunteers with younger kids who just worship him because he includes them and makes them feel important.
5) He's been working on being more communicative lately, and will call me on his way home from work just to chat.
6) When we were little, and he would get a treat, he would always ask for one for me, too.
7) He's a cute kid, and, as The Boy says, "could totally 'slay'" (the ladies) if he wanted to, but he doesn't--he treats them well and does all sorts of romantic things for the girl he is dating (well, the girls he's dated, as he's currently single) instead of being a skirt-chasing douche.
8) Sometimes, before I moved, just because he loves me, he used to bring me ice cream at work.
9) His passion. It's hard to get him into something, but once he is, he goes all out. 
10) He is as much of a big kid as I am--we like to watch Disney movies, eat junk food, and do silly things like play with sparklers and little kid toys, and we're completely unapologetic about it.
11) Terri Guillemets said that "After a girl is grown, her little brother - now her protector - seems like a big brother." Brother is super protective of me and likes to puff out his chest and look down his nose at the boys I bring around, which is really starting to actually become intimidating, because he's now 6-3 and can bench press me. 
12) They say that even if you don't speak often or you don't have a good relationship with your siblings (I do wish we spoke more, but I think we have a good relationship), it doesn't matter what is going on, you have a short hand and they just understand you in a way that almost no one else can--they know your history, and they speak your language. All I have to do is look at Brother and he knows exactly what I mean. It's a nice feeling.
13) I can't even count the number of times that people have told me what a great guy he is--it makes me proud to be his sister, because he gives us a good name. 
14) Arguably, of all of the people in my life, I've probably been bitchiest to him, but he still loves me anyway. 
15) We both have quick tempers (at least, or especially with each other), and we can have knock-down-drag-out fights, but we don't hold grudges with each other. The next day, we're back to laughing. 
16) NBD, NBD, NBD, kiipkiipkiipkiip, wooziewooziewoozie
17) He's really good at picking friends--people with integrity, loyalty, and maturity. His friends are really great people, which says a lot considering how truly awful most teenagers are. 
18) His integrity--he strives to live a Christ-like life, and he does a pretty good job. He doesn't drink or do drugs, he isn't mean, he serves, he's kind. I'm proud of him. 

Happy belated birthday, little Bro. I love you. Also, you really need to just tell me what you want for your birthday/graduation. 

July Look Bag and August Julep Box!

Although it's been cancelled, I still wanted to review the items from the July Look Bag, which I received a couple of weeks ago.

Full Size Korres Mango Butter Lipstick in Rose-- $18.00 (for full size) Apparently, some people got a full-sized lipstick in their bags--mine was not, but was still a good size. The color is ok--I like the pink tone, but the gold undertone is kinda meh.
.08 Ultraflesh Gold Standard Mascara. value = $7.88 (.27 oz. $26.00) I actually kinda like it, which is surprising because I am allergic to EVERYTHING. It makes my eyelashes look really long. but they seem a little too individualized (? I'm not sure if that's the right word, but they seem to look kind of like the eyelashes in Nightmare Before Christmas, but not that bad) I put it in my purse for quick touchups
1ml. Betsey Johnson Perfume. value = $1.53 (1oz. $45.00) - This is quite possibly the worst perfume dispenser device ever invented. I don't know why they didn't send us the little spray bottles or roll-ons like you get from Sephora and such.
.24 oz. Bremenn Research Labs Miracle Cream (for the face). value = $9.07 (1.3oz. $49.00) 
I didn't like it very much. It smelled kinda bad and didn't feel very nice. I didn't have any adverse reactions to it, but I definitely didn't think it was a "miracle". 
"An Upcoming Trend" - each month we take to the beauty trenches and see what's upcoming trends out Look Bag subscribers just have to try out.  they sent 2 small bottle of nail polish one in blue and one in purple. value = $1.00/ea. These are clearly Bon Bons, from when you were 7 and wanted to paint your nails. They go on cheap because they are cheap. That being said, if you have a 7 year old girl in your life, they're great. I do not.

Apparently, they're going to figure things out and re-launch soon, dunno if I'll re-subscribe. A lot will depend on how much I like this month's Glam Bag and Birch Box and Sample Society. 
Julep was OK this month. Like I said before, I only did it this month because I had a free one due to referrals--I think the service is way too expensive to just have. That being said, if you use the code COLOR2012, you should still be able to get your first month for a penny. It's worth trying, and if you normally spend a lot of money on nail polishes, then it's definitely good. I tried swatching, but the colors looked weird in the pictures, so none for you.

This month I did August Bombshell, which included: 
Kim, gunmetal grey metallic.
Harley, liquid silver metallic chrome.
Julep Acetone-Free Conditioning Nail Polish Remover, a professional pump-action bottle for easy, one-handed use.
I also added Melanie, pastel indigo metallic chrome as my free add-on because I'm new.  They sent Melanie separately because it was an add-on, which I didn't like, because I felt it was wasteful--they spent extra money on shipping (which is undoubtedly one of the reasons their subscription rates are so high), and they used extra packaging, which is bad for the environment. I can't imagine that they have SO MANY subscribers that it wouldn't be cheaper for them to package the add-ons with the regular boxes instead of sending 2 separate packages.
Because it was their 1-year anniversary, they included a free "tote" which was too small to be called a tote, in my opinion, but whatevs. 

So I loved the color of Kim, but it's streaky and tacky and kinda sucks to apply. 
Harly is pretty, but it's a lighter color than I really wanted and is very similar to something my mom found me on clearance for like $2. 
Melanie was ok also, but I regret it as an impulse buy a little bit, because it's just not a color I really wear. That being said, it's still pretty. 
The pump action bottle is pretty cool, which is mostly what I was excited about because I like the pumping action. That being said, I like Target brand remover better. I plan to just keep refilling my pump bottle with Target stuff. 

All-in-all, I would say these two subscription services are OK. I'm not in love with them, but I don't think they're awful either. 

**I paid for my own Look Bag and received the August Julep box for free because I referred two other people after having paid for my first box.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bucket Listing

I know that I have repeatedly sung the praises of The Boy, but he does a really good job at making memories now. It might have taken him a few months and a little bit of instruction, but he's really gotten good at it.

For the Fourth of July, we drove up to D.C., and it was incredible. We met up with my cousin who is going to school at Georgetown and spent the day at the National Museum(s) of Art, and got to see some pretty cool pieces (Da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh), and some pretty awful modern art that The Boy actually loved. After the museums, we got hotdogs (because it was the Fourth of July and I insisted. 'Mericuh), and then got lost trying to find his college roommate. We spent the most disgustingly hot and humid hour Of.My.Life. wandering back and forth across the National Mall trying to find the street we needed but, eventually, we did, and walked over to a bar and hung out with some of his friends. After that, we bought a couple cases of beer, which we took to a Congressional office building, where we had some ribs and the best potato salad Of.My.Life. And then.. We climbed on the roof and watched the fireworks over the Washington Memorial. It probably wasn't the best view ever (there was a little bit of roof in the way), it was definitely the most magical firework show I've ever seen.

For several years now, I've wanted to visit a lot of the major cities in the world during their big celebrations, because it combines my love of travel with my love of parties. Being in DC on the 4th was definitely on that list, and I'm super happy that I got to have such an amazing experience.

Other things on the bucket list:
-Carnival in Rio
-Oktoberfest in Germany
-Mardi Gras in New Orleans
-Holi in India
-Chinese New Year in China
-The Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque (not exactly on par with the rest of them, I know, but I <3 hot air balloons)
-Passover in Jeresalem
-Bastille Day in Paris
-The Olympics (anywhere). I'm still holding out hope that Brother will become a world-famous volleyball coach and end up coaching one of the teams, because that would be awesome.
-New Year's in Time's Square. I've heard that it's actually pretty hellish and they don't even let you pee for like 14 hours, but it's an experience, right? I'd also like to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade
-The Super Bowl. I don't really like football, and I'd miss all of the commercials, but it would still be pretty cool.
-The World Series and whatever they call the basketball finals. Samesies.

I'm sure there are several things that I'm missing, but that's the beauty of a bucket list, right? You can keep adding to it as you go on and experience new things. Any ideas?

Bestie Birthday

Bestie's birthday was last week, and because we both made terrible life choices (her following He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and me going to grad school), we've ended up on opposite coasts, so I didn't get to see her on her birthday. It was terribly sad. I did get to see my parents on her birthday, though, which was terribly happy.

Anyway, enough digressing. Here are 23 reasons why I love Bestie:
1) She always, always, always sticks up for the little guy.
2) She wants to save the world, and unlike a lot of people in our generation, I think she might actually do it. Or at least get the ball rolling on it.
3) Even though we fight about whether or not continuing to include people who have wronged you in your life is a necessary part of forgiving them (I don't think it is), she will always, always, always give you another chance.
4) (Man Voice) "I'm not wearing a skirt"
5) She always takes care of me when I'm drinking.
6) The rockin' birthday party she planned for me
7) She is way better at sending mail than I am (like, way better). And also, being crafty and making awesome pick-me-up/encouragement cards that magically appear in my mailbox when I've been having a really crappy week.
8) She's one of the hardest-working people I know.
9) She has great taste in books and is always willing to lend me some.
10) She is infinitely creative and is always looking for ways to make things more efficient or more beautiful or more... whatever. And she's pretty good at it.
11) She will let me snuggle her when we have sleepovers, even though she hates it.
12) She gives me food anxiety.
13) She's super brave. She signs up to do things like the AmeriCORPS VISTA program and going off to teach English to kids in Korea. I'm proud of her, even if it means that she's going to the other side of the world.
14) She pushes me to keep going. When we were in high school, we studied REALLY hard for the AP US History Exam, but when it came time to take the test, I got halfway through my 2nd or 3rd DBQ and just really wanted to quit. I sat there, staring at the wall, unable to will my hand to pick my pencil back up and continue working. She turned to me, asked me what the hell I thought I was doing, told me to get back to work, and I did. I passed the test, and even now, when I find myself wanting to quit, I hear her voice inside my head, asking me what the hell I think I'm doing, quitting.
15) Maybe I got haggis!
16) She is always up for an adventure, and pretty much anything, from a short hike to a quick jaunt over to Castle Megastore to pick up a bachelorette party present qualifies as an adventure when Bestie is around.
17) She encourages me to do fun and silly things, like auditioning for ANTM that one time. We decided that they wanted that season to be about ugly girls, because fo' reals, ya'll, not being conceited, we were way better looking than EVERYONE on that season.
18) I'll take two swirl ice cream cones, and do you have anything free?
19) She always does what needs to be done, even if there is no glory or thanks in the task, and she doesn't complain.
20) She's generous--always willing to share.
21) She's so passionate--she cares so much about so many things, and doesn't let slow progress discourage her.
22) Even though we don't talk or see each other as much as I would like, when we do, it's like no time has passed at all. She's always willing to listen to my rantings and will always try to make me feel better.
23) She's always trying to make herself better, by learning a new language, or taking some class online or trying new recipes--she is never satisfied with "good enough"--she strives for greatness.

I love you, Bestie! Happy birthday!