Sunday, December 14, 2014

Last Minute Christmas Shopping Guide

Hey everyone! Since we're ten days away from Christmas, I thought I would put together some tips for last minute Christmas shopping.

First thing's first, Amazon is your best friend for last minute shopping. If you know exactly what you need to buy but are worried that you won't have time to get it in-store, check out Amazon. Their shipping is so fast and you'll probably receive your order within a few days. Amazon is really good for books, tech stuff, and so much more. Tech gadgets are a particularly good idea because most people have a cell phone or a laptop nowadays, right? I bought my mom an iPad keyboard for her birthday and she loves it. Also, they're having their 12 Days of Deals sales right now, so I would suggest having a browse there for some inspiration!

If you have no idea what you need to buy, visit a store that can be a one-stop-shop. One-stop-shops are ideal for gift exchanges, for bosses & teachers, and for anyone whom you're not quite sure what to buy.

My first one-stop-shop is Chapters/Indigo (or whichever bookstore chain is near you). Even if whoever you're buying for isn't a reader, bookstores tend to have a variety of knick-knacks. The Indigo near my house has great options for homewear, fashion accessories, and stationery. Also, their sale section is always especially good. You can pick up a few cookbooks for your foodie friend, an activity book for someone creative, or toys for children. Indigo is also especially good online and you only have to spend $25 to qualify for free shipping - check out the "gift" section on their website for inspiration!

My next one-stop-shop is Sephora. I know you wouldn't necessarily think of Sephora as a one-stop shop, but given their wide range of makeup, skincare, and perfumes, you can really find something for everyone. This year, I bought my father, brother, and two of my cousins their Christmas gifts with one stop at Sephora. You'd be surprised, but Sephora has some really good options for men. I would discourage you from using Sephora's online shop as their website is quite buggy, the shipping isn't great, and you have to spend $75 minimum to get free shipping.

If you're really in a pinch, i.e. it's Christmas Eve and you need a last-minute gift, a giftcard is pretty much your only option. BUT chances are stores are closing early or are already closed, so what do you do? Well, here are some ideas for e-giftcards you can buy, print out, and hand out to your friends.

1) Origrami. If the person you're buying for is active on Instagram, you can get them a giftcard to Origrami which is a place to order prints of Instagrams pics. The prints are beautiful quality and they'll enjoy receiving it in the mail. Take a look at the different kinds of print packages they offer and make the amount of the giftcard match it, and don't worry about shipping fees because shipping is free. I think this is a perfect idea for a teenager or really anyone into photography & Instagram.

2) Spa. If you're stuck on a gift for a mom or an aunt, a spa giftcard is a great idea because it accommodates a wide ranges of prices, and many spas allow you to print certificates online nowadays. Usually you can input the amount on the giftcard yourself. You can go less-expensive and have the giftcard be worth a manicure or mani-pedi, or you can go all out and have it cover the cost of a massage.

3) Audible. One of the greatest things I discovered in 2014 were audiobooks. Audible has the fantastic option to purchase 3-12 months of audiobook credits, where your recipient can choose from over 150,000 titles. The only requirement is that they have a device to which they can download the Audible app. This is a great idea for anyone you know that loves to read, or anyone you know that hates traffic and has an aux cable in their car. Seriously, an audiobook is the best company when you're stuck in traffic. I reviewed three of the audiobooks I read this year HERE.

So that's it! Hopefully if you're doing some last minute Christmas shopping I was able to help you. Happy holidays!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holiday Nail Polish Picks

Hey everyone! Since I've managed to amass a large number of nail polishes, I figured it was only right to share my selections for the holiday season. I personally think dressing in holiday garb can be a little over the top, but painting your nails is a subtle way to show how festive you are!

My first choice is Essie "Shine of the Times" over top of OPI "Alpine Snow". Shine of the Times is an incredible sheer nail polish with flecks of shimmer that you can layer over top of just about anything to make it look awesome. I like it over a white nail polish like Alpine Snow because it actually reminds me of snow!

Next is OPI "Golden Eye" from their Skyfall collection a couple years back. This is the most gorgeous, finely-milled gold glitter that looks incredible on its own (3+ coats) or layered on top of something else. I like it over a plain white but it also looks great over a wine color.

Marc Jacobs "Gatsby" is the most luxurious polish I own, making it perfect for special occasions. It's a stunning metallic copper-rose gold shade that's opaque with one coat. A nice alternative to a solid red.

If however, solid reds are your thing, OPI "Short Stop" is a beautiful bright red that has become a staple in my collection. I think this shade of red is perfect year-round, but especially lovely for the holidays.

To add a bit of excitement to a classic red nail, try China Glaze "Ruby Pumps". It's a red-based polish with red shimmer running through it, and to me this polish just screams Christmas. In fact I think it's safe to say that I exclusively wear it around Christmas time.

Last but not least, OPI "Don't Mess With OPI" is a classic green color, perfect for holiday nail art. You know, I bought this polish on a whim thinking I would never really wear it, but I gravitate towards it more often than I thought. The formulation is great and the wear is so long.

Personally, I think dressing in holiday garb can be a little over the top, but painting your nails is a subtle way to show how festive you are!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Problem With Igloo Australia

I am quite invested in pop culture and current events, so I'm closely following what's going on in Ferguson (and all over the US), and I find it interesting to see where celebrities fit in to certain discussions relating to social justice issues.

Iggy Azalea has received a lot of backlash in light of the protests going on in the United States regarding police brutality in the black community. You may be thinking, what the heck does Iggy Azalea have to do with that? Well, the criticism she has been receiving is due to the fact that she is willing to dip her fingers (so to speak) in black culture when it suits her purpose - i.e. within the rap/hip hop scene, but when it comes to real and hard hitting issues surrounding blackness, she remains silent. She appropriates the aspects of black culture that further her career and denies any sort of responsibility that comes with the tough parts of being black. This is the epitome of white privilege: being able to pick and choose the stylish aspects of other cultures for your own benefit. I would also argue that her success is maybe due to the shock/difference in hearing a blonde white girl rap (but that's a different topic entirely).

Many people have called her out on her hypocrisy, her main opponent being Azealia Banks. See below.

To which Iggy responded:

Iggy and Azealia Banks have a longstanding feud, but that doesn't discredit Azealia's argument. Many people in the black community have voiced their issues with Iggy and other celebrities who appropriate black culture, but Iggy truly believes these criticisms only exist to fuel celeb feuds and petty Twitter trolls. She's misinterpreting these arguments against her as personal digs rather than larger racial issues.

I think the problem here is that Iggy, and other celebrities, receive so many personal attacks on the daily that actual, relevant criticisms get mixed in with stupidities. They can no longer discern between what is simply trolling and what is constructive critique. Her attitude is a product of her inflated ego and her thinking that she is somehow separate from the universe she is entangled in. She lives in her own Iggyverse, where she exists in a vacuum of self-absorption.

I imagine that part of forging a name for yourself and creating your own personal brand can be very self-involved. I'm sure everyone she surrounds herself with are "all Iggy all the time". I guess it's also somewhat of a prerequisite for all pop stars to have a certain degree of narcissism. But, that's no excuse. Even Macklemore, the king of piggybacking off the realities of others, showed up to protest and spread the good word.

I don't think it's ridiculous or misguided to hope that celebrities might use their platforms for good. A tweet about Eric Garner or Ferguson from Iggy Azalea would reach a whopping 3.38 million people... If that's not power, I don't know what is. But she just throws it away and pretends these issues aren't her problem. I've always been a firm believer that silence is ignorance. I don't think she's racist, but I do think she's ignorant.

Read more:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Wreck This Journal 2014 Update

I bought my Wreck This Journal in February and I thought I would share my progress up until now. Of course, I've been super busy with school and work so I scarcely have time to work on it, but I fully intend on working on it until the entire journal is filled up! 

At first, I was very careful with the journal and I was planning out each page, but as I progressed I realized that was contradictory to the purpose of the journal and I started to have fun with it. I work on my journal whenever I feel the need for some creativity, and whenever I feel like being productive. I think this is a great thing to add to your Christmas list, or to give as a gift.

There are many blank pages in the book that you're meant to fill up any way you want. On the left page I swatched all my nail polishes.

"Glue random objects"

Sunday, November 23, 2014 Worth the hype?

I gave in. I finally cashed in my Audible "one-month-free".

If you don't know,, a subsidiary of Amazon, is a subscription website (kinda like Netflix), where you have access to hundreds of thousands of audiobooks. Every month you pay $14.95 and you get 1 credit that you can use to purchase an audiobook, most of which cost at least $20 otherwise. If you're not keen on using Audible for a certain month, you can bank the credits and use them later on.

I was skeptical about using Audible for a multitude of reasons. First, every YouTuber and their mother seems to be sponsored by them. I was like, "What is this fail service that requires so much advertisement from YouTubers?" But then I realized, I think the company puts almost all of their advertising efforts into YouTube because I haven't seen commercials for it on TV or anything like that, which is pretty cool that they generate most of their business using YouTube primarily.

Another reason I was skeptical is because I wasn't sure about audiobooks in general. It felt like a lazy way to read a book, but then I thought, well I'm not reading any books at all... So it has to be a step up from that, right?

Overall I'm really pleased with my experience. To-date, I've listened to a total of three audiobooks. I think it's a great way to feed your brain on the drive to work/school (that's when I use it). I get so annoyed with stupid radio station banter and sometimes I get tired of listening to music, so it's perfect for me to have an audiobook on-hand. Also, if you get anxious driving alone it's like having someone there with you. It's also great for keeping your mind off mundane tasks like doing chores or exercising at the gym.

You can find "first month free" coupons for Audible all over the internet, so really, there's no reason not to try it.

The book I used my free month on is "Is everyone hanging out without me? (And other concerns)" by Mindy Kaling. I was drawn to this book because Mindy actually narrates it herself, and that's pretty special since she knows all the inflections and intonations to get the sarcasm just right. Also, I love love love the Mindy Project so I knew I was going to enjoy this book. The humor is very similar to the show, obviously, so if you like Mindy Kaling, this is great audiobook to start with.

But honestly, even if you're not on the Mindy train like I am, it's still a good read (/listen?). She's so relatable and witty that it doesn't even matter if you're unfamiliar with her career. She has a whole portion of the book dedicated to her time at The Office, a show I don't watch, and I still found that part enjoyable.

She guides us through her childhood, her teens, her time at college, and her career as a comedy writer. She talks about what it's like to be a female writer in a male-dominated industry, and growing up as a chubby girl (keeping it light and funny throughout, even though these issues can be heavy!). Overall this book remains my favorite audiobook of the three I've listened to so far.

And then I forgot to cancel my membership since I totally meant to take advantage of the free book and then quit. I was charged $14.95 with one credit to use, and it was about the time Lena Dunham's autobiography came out so I figured, why not. Lena Dunham also narrates this so I figured it would be in the same vain as Mindy's.

I ended up enjoying this book as well. Not as much as Mindy's, but still. Lena has a lot of interesting stories to share and it was cool to hear her reflect. She's been getting a lot of criticism over a certain portion of this book, and I think it's all bogus and should not deter you from reading/listening to it. I feel like people love picking on her and, yes, some of the criticism is well-deserved, but most of it is not.

Like Mindy, she talks about largely feminist issues, which is always interesting (to me at least). Lena isn't a perfect feminist (again, she is problematic in many ways), but she has fallen victim to certain injustices as a woman and speaks about them in a frank and honest way. In this sense, her candor is appreciated.

Are you sensing a pattern with my book choices? I responded really well to the feminist undertones in Mindy and Lena's books, and I guess I wanted something more substantial to chew on, so to speak. "Bad Feminist" by Roxane Gay was perfect for me. It's a collection of essays and it talks about her experiences with feminism and racism. If you're trying to keep your feminism intersectional, this is the book you need in your life. 

She discusses so many contemporary feminist issues (including Lena Dunham and her show "Girls"-- how fitting) and provides honest and well-founded insight. Her tone is both critical and sarcastic, which makes it enjoyable to listen to, and Bahni Turpin (the narrator) does an incredible job at capturing it. 

If you're looking for some brain food, this is precisely the book you need. Instead of listening to inane radio chat on your way to work, listen to Bad Feminist. It's educational and fun.

So that's it! To recap, Audible is worth the hype! Definitely give it a shot, and if you have any book suggestions similar to these, be sure to let me know because have no clue what to listen to next. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Marcelle Sale Haul: Fall 2014

Over the weekend I had a chance to go to the Marcelle and L'Oreal warehouse sales, and I have to say, Marcelle blows L'Oreal out of the water. Over the years, the L'Oreal sale has become more and more pathetic. The prices are going up each year, and in the end, you don't save as much money as you think. It's not a blowout warehouse sale so much as a small discount. The items L'Oreal offers at their sale are pretty terrible too. I don't like Maybelline mascaras, and they're still $4 anyway - chances are you can get that on sale at Pharmaprix. The blushes and eyeshadows they have are usually bad quality (low color payoff, barely pigmented). The only thing the L'Oreal sale is good for is Essie nail polish, and even at that, they still go for $4.50 each. You can buy Essie at TJ Maxx for $3.99.

So, needless to say, I won't be doing a L'Oreal sale haul because all I bought were 3 Essie polishes and some shampoo. Onto the better stuff: Marcelle. Marcelle is a Quebec-based makeup brand that I've truly grown fond of. It doesn't get as much love as the massive American brands, but the quality is great. They're also the makers of Annabelle products, and you can buy their makeup at most Quebec pharmacies.

The Marcelle sale discount prices are incredible. Every makeup item is $2.50. Nothing more. Skincare items are more expensive, which makes sense, but the makeup is cheap. On top of that, you don't need to have a ticket to be able to access this sale (whereas the L'Oreal sale is invitation-only).

The two items I beeline for at the Marcelle sale are the foundation and mascara. I used to adore their Hydra-C foundation, but then they discontinued it (which I'm still upset about!). Luckily, they had their New-Age foundation on sale at $2.50 and the shade range is exactly the same as the Hydra-C so I knew which color I had to get. As you can see, I bought a grand total of three of these foundations... Why, you ask? They cost $20 at the pharmacy. Yep. $20. That's a $17.50 discount.

I'm also obsessed with the Annabelle Big Show mascara, so I picked up two of them. The formulation is perfect. It's not too wet, and the brush is just the right size. It reminds me of a slightly smaller version of Benefit Bad Gal. I can use one tube for months and months because it retains its quality really well.

The next thing I wanted to pick up was a basic black kohl eyeliner, which they were selling individually for $2.50.. Until I realized they were selling sets of four for $2.50 that included black in them, so I picked up the set for blue eyes and the set for green eyes. I already own the set for brown eyes.

The last two items I picked up are the Annabelle Skin True foundation and a Marcelle velvety powder blush. The good thing about Annabelle foundation is that it's only $8 in-store, so the Marcelle sale is a good time to try out different shades. I like knowing that there's a cheap foundation out there that I can go to in case I ever run out, but it's definitely crucial to know your shade. As for the blush, I have this exact blush in the shade Blossom and I'm obsessed with it, so it was only natural that I picked up another.

I don't think I'll go to the L'Oreal sale next time. Marcelle all the way!