Wednesday, May 13, 2015

6 things i've learned during my freshman year in college

My introduction to college wasn't the most normal--I started as a dual-enrolled student at my local community college during my sophomore year of high school. I took one or two classes per semester, and thought little of it. It was just another course that was helping me get my high school graduation requirements, and just so happened to gain me some college credits, too. By the time I graduated last summer, I had twenty credits going towards my college degree.

I walked in on my first day of fall semester, and despite knowing the same community college for three years of my life, and going to plenty of classes in plenty of buildings, I was horrified. I don't know if it just hit me that I was really in college, or if I was just scared of making "adult" decisions and driving myself to school everyday. I'm still not entirely sure, but I do know that I've never been more afraid walking into my school's technology building than I was that first day of fall semester.

Luckily, after finishing fall semester and spring semester, I'm feeling a little more confident about college and moving forward as a whole. I'll graduate from community college after one more semester and then face the challenge of adapting to transfer, but for now, here are six things that I've learned during my "freshman" year of college.

1. Everyone is just as nervous about their classes as you are.  It took me about a week in five classes to realize that everyone was as nervous about the new semester as I was. For me, it's always been intimidating to walk into a classroom full of faces I didn't know, with a teacher whose policies, teaching, and grading style I wasn't sure of. However, everyone is just as nervous about the class, the assignments, and interacting with each other as you are. And, trust me, everyone thinks that they look so nervous, that even if you are scared half to death, it's pretty likely no one notices anyway.

2.  Utilize your teacher's resources and help. I'll admit to be guilty of not doing this, but I've gotten better with this during my spring semester. I'm not one for asking for help, but if you're going to ask anyone, ask your instructors for help. They have knowledge about the subject and topic that you don't have, and in most instances, are more than happy to help you. When I went into my Technical and Business Writing class, I had no idea what I was doing, but in asking for help in-class and privately, it really helped me to improve my writing and understanding of each topic. Approaching a teacher after class is a little intimidating, especially if they seem really knowledgeable about their subject, but I promise they'll help you grow, whether it be in your field, in your class, or even just on an assignment. Besides, if you grow relationships with your teachers, they might be willing to write your recommendations down the line, too.

3. Go to the library. I'm not crazy about my school's library for actually finding books and research information on the shelves, but I love the ability to find a nice quiet place to work on assignments between class periods. It's also really helpful in accessing your school's databases for bigger term papers that you might have due. I've gotten some of my best work done in the library because I've been able to spread out my books and truly focus on what I needed to do.

4. Don't put more on your plate than you can handle. Another thing I'm guilty of. During my fall semester, I was enrolled in five classes, while this spring semester, I was enrolled in four. Although I had more classes to do last semester, this semester has had a lot more work and a lot more pressure. During high school, I did a lot of extracurricular activities, but beginning this year, I had to cut down on a lot of it. Don't try to do too much at once, because you will burn out eventually. If I had tried to keep doing my theater work, spending time with family, doing school work, going to class, and attempting to do hobbies outside of class, I would probably have had a mental break. There's been some tears on my part, but I know that choosing to do fewer credits and fewer outside activities has been beneficial in helping me stay on track. Besides, there's always the summer for getting back to something you didn't have time for during the school year.

5. Choose what classes you want to take. Obviously, there are some courses that you have to take. But, if there's that one ceramics class you really want to take because you've heard great things about the professor, or you just love taking digital photography and would love to have more experience, do it. As a lower level student, you have a lot of prerequisites to take, and a lot of general education requirements, but still take at least one class per semester that you actually want to take. It's a good reprieve when your other classes that don't interest you as much get harder, particularly near midterms, but it also shows you what other studies you might want to pursue later down the line, whether as a double major, a minor, or just a certificate.

6. Do your best. I'm always hard on myself about everything, not just school work. I like things to be perfect, in order, and to happen exactly how I want them. It doesn't always happen. But when I do write a kick-ass English paper, it's for sure that I feel a little smug three days (weeks) afterwards. Even if I can't do perfectly with something, being a full-time student in college has shown me how to do my best. I'm not good at public speaking, but it was something I had to do this semester. After hard work, and trying my hardest, I was able to pull it out and do a speech that I was proud of. It wasn't the speech that a comfortable, out-going person would have done, and my knees might have almost collapsed, but I did my best in trying to accomplish a good presentation. Don't freak yourself out about what you think you can't do, just do your best to do what you know you can do.

Overall, college has forced me to put myself out there a little more than I might be comfortable with, but I think I'm a better person because of it. I've learned to just say hi to the person sitting next to me in class, take the harder route for a paper just because it's more interesting, and that I really love driving to school everyday (I didn't expect that one my first day...) So, as I start my last semester at community college, I'm hoping to still stick with what I've learned, and maybe gain some more knowledge along the way, too.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

palm beachin'

If you ever saw me around campus, you would know that unless it’s less than forty degrees, it’s pretty likely that I’m wearing my Jack Rogers. I love the colors, I love the classic styling, and I love the simplicity and ease of slipping on a sandal that looks like I put effort into what I was wearing—even if I ran out of the house and forgot to brush my hair, or had lipstick on my teeth. I initially discovered Jacks in seeing Jackie Kennedy in them, and, as Jack Rogers has said that they were the source for Jackie's sandals during the early 1960s. If Jackie thought they were a staple, they were clearly good.

I bought my favorite pair of Jacks last summer and took to breaking them in. Little did I know, this would require multiple blisters and raw toes. I finally broke them in after about a month. It practically killed me. When you initially buy Jacks, the straps are a little bit tight but stretch with a couple of wears and the soles are stiff, but they eventually ease up. But, more than any of the other discomfort, the dreaded stitched toe strap and rondelle was and is my enemy. Even after a year, my green and white Jacks that I’ve worn to just about everything still rub my foot just a little bit if I wear them for too long. I spent almost a month finally wearing down the toe strap to where it was comfortable, and now, while still pretty comfortable, if it’s too warm, I’m most likely to end up a little uncomfortable with the rubbing and sticking.

Palm Beach Sandals in Gunmetal/Silver
Jack Rogers in Green/White
Now, enter Palm Beach Sandals. After doing a little bit of research into Jacks, I happened upon the Palm Beach Sandals website. In reading their history, their sandals were the true sandals worn by (and created for) Jackie Kennedy during the early 60s right in Palm Beach, Florida. They looked the same... but they also looked different. The soles were thicker, and the entire shoe was made of leather. I was hesitant to try them as I felt like I might be "betraying" my Jacks, but I purchased a pair of the Classic Palm Beach Sandals in the gunmetal/silver combination to try them out. I was expecting a horrible break-in period, a lot of blister bandages, and maybe a couple of tears along the way after my experience with Jacks. However, I slipped them on and wore them for a day of class. As soon as I got out of the car and walked a few feet towards the building housing my English class, I was stunned—no rubbing. Even after the day ended… Nothing. Nothing hurt. Nothing rubbed. Nothing stuck. A little bit of discomfort from the leather straps were stretching, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle, and it passed as the day went on. It was like walking on little leather pillows.

With new Jacks, even a few steps in and you can feel the break-in period beginning. Palm Beach Sandals are made by hand in Florida, featuring a wrapped leather toe strap and foot strap, and complete leather in all parts of the shoes (even the soles). All in all, pretty much the perfect summer shoe (or, all year shoe, if you’re me). Jack Rogers are made in Mexico, the top strap is leather with manmade materials making up the rest of the shoe, and as mentioned, a folded and stitched toe strap that isn't the most comfortable.

Don't get me wrong--I love my Jacks. I'll probably still have my green ones even after I eventually wear through the soles. So, while I won’t necessarily be tossing my Jacks away any time soon, especially since there might be some blood, sweat, and tears soaked into the straps, I certainly think I’ll be sticking with Palm Beach Sandals from now on. Especially since I just ordered the navy and white pair…

*Disclosure note: I purchased the product(s) with my own money and was not compensated in any way to provide a review, positive or negative. Any and all thoughts on products are my own--promise.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

may kate spade new arrivals

As per the blog name, I love me some Kate Spade. I love the prints, the classic styles, and the whimsical nature of the pieces in each collection. And, even for a Northern girl, the flamingos in the May collection really made it for me. I might just have to go for the flamingo print makeup bags... I just got the email about their new arrivals and wanted to share a few of my favorites. Shop the whole collection here or shop my favorites below.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

spring forward

After my wonderful experience with Nars “Ratin Jot” nail lacquer last month {reviewed here}, and an unquenched thirst for majorly in-your-face lipstick, I remembered one of my most lusted after lipsticks: Nars Funny Face.  Semi matte and extremely bright, this fuschia lipstick is now one of the first ones that I reach for when making up my face each day. The formula isn’t the most moisturizing, but I don’t find it to be too drying, either. With exfoliated lips, this lipstick smoothed on in about two light-handed coats achieves the perfect bold lip to capture the attention of anyone and everyone that passes you by.

In addition to a hot pink mouth, my floral scarf and chartreuse driving mocs are yet another attempt to encourage balmy, sunny weather from the cold, snowy days that we’ve had just about every week. Bring on the flowers, sunshine, and blue skies. At this point, I’d even welcome my atrocious spring allergies with open arms. I think that it's obvious that I'm tired of shoveling snow.

Both scarf and moccasins are from Isaac Mizrahi’s line for the home shopping television network, QVC. If there’s snow on the ground and I can’t do anything else productive other than sit on the sofa in my pajamas, at least I’m spending my inside time effectively by buying cute shoes and accessories... I’d say that’s pretty productive (even if I do the same thing even when there isn’t snow... oops).  

The yellow driving mocs are quite comfortable, not to mention stylish.  I’ve long been a fan of wearing moccasins, but these just feel a tad bit more grown up than the usual fringed counterparts. Listed as chartreuse on the website, I’d say these would be better described as a true mustard color. Perfect for pairing with crops and a light jacket when spring comes. The peony blossom scarf  in Begonia Pink, on the other hand is nice and soft—perfect for tucking into a jacket for a nice splash of floral right next to your face. Dreamy. Although both pieces are distinctly “spring”, that hasn’t stopped me from stepping out with my floral scarf bundled around my neck as I wander around in my winter coat. 

Even with the piles of snow as far as the eye can see, I can’t help but feel smug. A little snow never stopped anybody, and it certainly won’t stop me from being the brightest and springiest girl in the neighborhood, that’s for sure. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

young, wild, and free (runs)

I’ve never been very athletic. Actually, that’s a complete understatement. Not once did I get the “important” Presidential Fitness award; I always managed to get the “you-participated-here’s-an-award!” award.  I generally found myself tripping over my feet and chosen last for most athletic expeditions in my elementary and middle school days.

Fast forward a few years and here I am, walking four miles a day and generally following a pretty healthy lifestyle. My younger self probably would have just scoffed at the idea of me doing exercise, but when you have so many fun colors to choose in athletic shoes, the concept of exercise quickly gets a lot more interesting. Hey, if the shoe fits, right?

First off, the shoe of choice: the Nike Free Run 5.0+ in Volt. I’ve seen plenty of people rave about these babies and I can certainly see why. Completely and utterly obnoxious (but super adorable) in color? Check. Comfier than walking on a pillow? Double check. I had previously only worn the Free Advantage trainers and a few random pairs of Adidas runners in the past, but these new Nike babies are my absolute favorites to wear. They certainly put a happy smile on my face as soon as I look down at my feet, but then again, they glow so much that I don’t even have to look.

A few other necessities for me include Nike hair ties--they don't kink--in hot pink and bright blue, the MapMyWalk app that calculates time, mileage, and pace for all of your walking endeavors, and my favorite of the bunch, KT Tape a.k.a. "savior of all aches and woes". My favorite applications include those for runner's knee and peroneal tendonitis, but the possibilities are endless. With strategic placement and stretching of the cotton tape, muscles are raised under the skin and provided with immediate relief. Always nice when one has bad joints from long years of dancing... Needless to say, I've come to rely on my Kinesio taping quite a bit.

If that's not enough incentive for getting outside and exercising (and looking cute, cough cough), I don't know what is. Besides, you never know... Being outside in your cute kicks and sassy hair ties might even get the attention of that cute neighborhood boy. Ah, the joys of exercise.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

clarisonic mia 2

{ksny x darcel 'gia' - similar here , clarisonic mia 2 in 'key lime'}

Earlier this year, my face was an absolute, miserable mess. Nothing was working quite right, and my skin wasn't liking any product that I tried. Everything just left my features red and irritated, and my attitude didn't fare much better. I was doomed to ultimate disappointment, constantly trying facial products in an attempt to find the right one. The right one ended up being three. I found my "holy grail" concoction through plain Ivory bar soap, a discontinued (boo) Korres face wash, and a cheap bottle of witch hazel. Who knew it could be so simple? Things were instantly starting to look a lot brighter. A few months down the line, along came the pièce de résistance to my face-washing routine: the Clarisonic Mia 2. 

I had seen its face-washing claims before: takes off all makeup, gets things clean where your hands can't, evens out your skin's texture, etc. To me, it was just an electric toothbrush for your face, and an expensive little toothbrush could never do anything for your face. Then I tried it. How wrong I was. Used once a week for my sensitive face, the Clarisonic's magic powers work wonders at sloughing off dead skin and bringing back the glowy complexion I strive for. A little drop of face wash and a quick scrub, and a squeaky clean, makeup free face emerges. With two speeds, compact size for easy storage, and cheerful neon color, how can you go wrong? Your face will definitely thank you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

you can't take me anywhere

You can't take me anywhere...

I rarely move away from the same products, but I have been exploring the depths of the beauty counters (and the occasional TJ Maxx trip) to satisfy some beauty discovery urges.

{click product names for links}

tarte colored clay CC primer in "Fair" - The one step product for the beginnings of a flawless base, or, if you're lucky, primer and base all in one. I've used this product for a few days now after finding it as a new product at the tarte counter of my local Ulta. With a creamy, matte texture, this product covers excess redness and dullness from the winter weather. Albeit it has to be blended out considerably for my pale skin, but the end result? Totally worth it. {full review coming soon}

Revlon Colorburst Balm Stain in "Romantic" - After searching for the perfect red lip without too much pigmentation, I stumbled across this balm stain from Revlon at the drugstore. The scent is reminiscent of candy canes and menthol, but it's far from being offensive. More importantly, the color output, like most other Revlon lip products, is stunning. With a light hand, this stick can be a sheer, candy apple red, but if applied a little more liberally, can be the perfect red lipstick to appear pulled together--even if that's far from reality. The staying power is also incredible. When applied, it takes on a glossy sheen, but as it wears off, the red pigments stay behind, leaving you with slightly stained lips that don't require any reapplications unless you choose.

Thakoon for Nars Nail Polish in "Ratin Jot" - I found this little gem from the Thakoon and Nars collaboration from Summer 2012 at my TJ Maxx for about half of its $19 retail price. Nars describes this color as "orchid", and I'd have to agree. The perfect magenta shade when you're busy wishing for warm breezes and sunny skies, and the staying power is more than worthy. On my chip-happy fingernails, this polish stayed for about four to five days with just a little tip wear.

tarte Amazonian clay 12-hour blush in "Blissful" - A constant favorite for me, this tarte blusher isn't a shade I haven't seen too many people review, but it's my absolute favorite from the Amazonian clay 12-hour blush range. Although very peachy in the pan, this color is perfect for all times of the year, even when the complexion is a little lackluster from being constantly whipped with cold wind. The initial swish is a little sheer, but this color builds up to the perfect flushed glow for both day and night.

Although not necessarily the perfect day to day beauty application, these products have definitely seen some love from me from the last year and into this year. Just make sure to keep me away from the beauty counters... I'm always bound to find something I don't need.