2014 Is Upon Us! (An Unintentional Partie Deux)

Happy new year to all and especially to the wonderful people who take the time to read my blog!

Your kind words and compliments mean more to me than you know and motivate me to keep writing. My blog is just over half a year old, and it’s been an amazing journey seeing my writing evolve and the wide variety of topics that I am able to share my knowledge about. It is still a work in progress, and I am still somewhat shy about sharing my writing on social media vehicles, but who knows what the new year will bring?

I was putting together a list of New Years Resolutions today and thought that as a follow-up to my last post, it would be interesting to share what I have written for this year.

In the past, I traditionally wrote 10 specific resolutions that I want to accomplish. And even though I did just that with some friends last night, the ones I have drawn up after reflecting a lot on the past year are (mostly) unspecific to an exact part of my life, but rather encompass + apply to many different aspects of my life. This year, I am aiming not to just achieve one specific thing, but to change the way I think, the way I do things, and even the way I live to better my life as a whole. Having a few life lessons to live by has helped me tremendously and will continue to do so this coming year.

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Fingers crossed that my handwriting is actually legible. Even though I love to write, I am not artsy in the least.

Have an amazing new year, everyone! Today is the first day of the year of dreams.

(My friend Negar’s motto for 2014 which I think really says it all.)

Good luck and I am looking forward to what’s to come! It’s going to be an exciting year.

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What Are You Thankful For?

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As Thanksgiving weekend races by much too quickly, and my midterms loom near on the other side, I still choose to carve out some time to sit and reflect on what the meaning of Thanksgiving is, and what I am thankful for.

Thanksgiving originated from old English traditions dating back to the Protestant Reformation, and was traditionally celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest, and of the past year. Here in Canada, we celebrate Thanksgiving in mid-October, whereas the United States observes the holiday on the fourth Thursday of November (and then follows it up with Black Friday- why delay Christmas shopping and rampant consumerism any longer, eh?)

Although now in urban cities we do not hold an actual “harvest festival”, giving thanks for the past year is definitely still applicable to us. In a way, we reap what we sow, and we should be grateful for what we’ve been blessed with. Life moves very quickly, and if you don’t stop and take a look around once in a while, you may take the little things for granted and only notice in the wake of its absence.

This year, I am thankful for:

  • My family and friends, first and foremost. Thank you for supporting me, thank you for being my rock when life gets really tough. This year has been just that. Thank you for putting up with me, for knowing me so well, for blessing me with your presence, laughter, and warm hearts. Thank you for looking out for my best interests, listening to me, giving me advice and help when I need it, and being a part of my life.
  • Community. Of all sorts and sizes.
  • A roof over my head, and all my basic needs met.
  • An education and various jobs in which I am able to continuously learn and grow, and challenge myself to be the best that I can be. The fact that I am complaining about midterms means that I have the opportunity to pursue higher education, and that’s not something that should be taken for granted.
  • Music. For being able to listen, and play it myself. At this rate, I will likely suffer hearing loss at an old age, but I start and end my day with my headphones in.
  • Random acts of kindness. Even the smallest things can touch your heart and make a big impact.
  • John Green.
  • All the personal development I’ve gone through this past year. Those who have both helped me, and hurt me, thank you for helping me grow in character.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! May you spend it in the company of those you love. Or study simultaneously, if you’re also in my shoes. Wear loose-fitting pants, indulge in that turkey, and take a moment to give thanks for the blessings in your life.

Beauty Essentials for School!

Now that school is back in full swing, I thought that I’d make a blog post about my beauty essentials for school specifically. It’s a stressful time for all of us students, and these products just help make things easier and brighten up my day. Most of these have been well-loved and trusted by me for years, so keep reading!

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1. First off: the most basic essential. Clear lip balm. Now I love my Burts Bees and have for years, but I picked up this Maybelline Baby Lips about a month ago because I wanted a lip balm with SPF, and I LOVE it! It’s so moisturizing and emollient, sits well on the lips, and smells like sugar and citrus fruits. Even if you’re going without makeup for the day, keeping your lips moisturized is important. Plus, it’s got SPF 20!

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2. Continuing with the lippies, this is my all-time favourite lip colour. And that’s saying something cause I am a lipstick hoarder. This is the Revlon Just Kissable Balm Stain in Honey. I received this as a gift last year, and I’ve loved it to death ever since. I even got quite a few of my friends hooked on this! It’s such a wearable, everyday MLBB (my lips but better) shade that is universally flattering on many skin tones, it has incredible staying power (it actually stains your lips without drying it out!), and it’s affordable. What’s not to love?

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3. Believe it or not, groomed eyebrows can make a big difference in your appearance, and especially in photos! Your brows frame your face and your eyes, and taking that extra minute to touch them up will make you look instantly more polished and put together. This is especially important if you’re going through company recruiting or networking sessions (commerce kids, you know what I’m talking about. It’s not just the suit that counts). My favourite brow wax is the ELF Eyebrow Kit. It comes with a little dual-ended brush for on-the-go touchups, but I prefer to use an angled eyeliner brush to apply this. It stays all day and best of all, it’s only $3! Definitely worth a try.

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4. This is probably my favourite thing out of all these products. The Boscia Super-Cool De-Puffing Eye Balm has been a lifesaver for a sleep-deprived student like me. Getting out of bed when you’ve barely slept is hard enough, but you can help ease the pain with this eye balm. Just swipe it on your undereye area (read: eye bags) and you will instantly feel this AMAZING COOLING, REFRESHING SENSATION. I don’t even know how to accurately describe it. It’s absolutely amazing and helps to really wake up your tired eyes, and the sensation lasts for about an hour for me. I’ve tried many undereye rollers but they all fall short compared to this. It’s a steep price at $36, but it’s worth it, and one tube will last you for ages! You will thank me during those inevitable zombie mornings this semester.

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5. I’ve stated in a previous post that I don’t really like concealers cause they tend to crease on me, especially in the undereye area. However, this Benefit Stay Don’t Stray Eye Primer also doubles as an undereye concealer & brightener.

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It’s a sheer formula as you can see (I didn’t blend the swatch out at all), but it absolutely will not crease, and helps to brighten up those dark undereye circles from staying up all night studying. This is the only thing that has worked for me for years, and it never fails. So if you have problems with creasing, give this a try!

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6. Let’s say you’re running late but you still need to look nice and polished for something. The L’Oreal Magic Souffle Cream Blush in Plume is the perfect on-the-go blush to stash into your makeup bag. This matte pink shade will complement any makeup look, from a bare face to a smokey eye, and is so easy to use: Just lightly press your finger against the blush, dot it a few times on your cheeks, and blend with your finger. No fussing with brushes or powder fallout. Just a natural, healthy flush that brightens up your complexion!

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7. I’m really picky about hand creams, mostly because I don’t like lotions in general. They leave behind a sticky film and I am one to constantly wash my hands to feel clean. However, over the past year I’ve noticed that during the wintertime, my hands get really dry. This has never happened in the past, so I tried a bunch of hand creams until I finally came upon this one. The L’Occitane Dry Skin Hand Cream is my HG, and this little tube has lasted me for ages! It’s so emollient and deeply moisturizes, but absorbs quickly into my skin and doesn’t leave any residue. A staple in my makeup bag!

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8. Okay. This is the one thing I can’t leave my house without. I have supremely oily skin, especially in the nose area, and have to blot twice a day usually. Shiny isn’t a good look on me. I’ve tried so many different types of oil sheets but I just keep coming back to this one. The Clean & Clear Oil-Absorbing Sheets does the job like no other. These especially come in handy when you have P.E. Class in high school, or you have to make an unexpected sprint for the bus or from class to class.

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They’re not actually papers, which is what most of them out in the market are, but blue films that actually soak up all the oil. Yeah I’m going to stop cause it’s kind of gross, that’s as much detail as I’ll go into. If you have oily skin, try these! They are a total lifesaver. I always have them around with me.

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9. I don’t know about you guys, but when I stress out over school, I simultaneously break out, and it sucks (my skin tends to be so nice during summer!). This is my favourite non-prescription acne treatment. The Clean & Clear Popped Pimple Drying Paste has really high reviews all over the Internet, and for good reason. You apply this before you go to bed, and when you wake up in the morning, your acne will be dried up and diminished, less inflamed, and just less prominent.

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It works especially well if you have a tendency of popping pimples. This will help minimize any scarring left behind and heal it quickly. I never pop pimples, but sometimes you can do so by accident (ie: scrubbing at your face too roughly with a washcloth). This is for bedtime use only, as it dries to a bright white colour (like the swatch above) and I don’t think anyone wants to walk around outside with this on their face.

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10. I am not usually big on perfumes, but I will always have a rollerball or atomizer stashed in my bag for emergencies (ie: P.E. class in high school, crashing at a friend’s place and not being able to shower, etc). I received the Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue EDT as a birthday gift from my friend, and I love the fresh, clean scent of this perfume! It’s very wearable for everyday and not overpowering.

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I was pleasantly surprised when I took off the cap and saw that it was a spray bottle, and not a rollerball! Rollerballs are a cost efficient way of trying new perfumes, but can be kind of gross (sweat can dilute the true scent of the perfume). Sprays are more hygienic and easier to use. This scent is sophisticated, understated, and clean, all of which I love. It won’t overpower the senses of the person sitting next to me, so it’s wearable for school as well.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post! I have wanted to post for quite some time, but have been ridiculously busy and each blog post takes a lot of time to create. If you swear by any products for the school year/wintertime, I would love to know! More beauty-related posts will be coming up soon, so stay tuned, and have a great school year!

My Love Affair With Coffee

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There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have a coffee. I can give up a lot of things in the pursuit of health. I even gave up Starbucks (and I was the biggest addict around for years), but I can’t give up coffee. In fact, I have one on my desk right beside me as we speak.

When I was younger, my parents and peers always talked about coffee as if it was this terrible thing, and I supposed their words weren’t entirely untrue. I am now well past the *growing stage* in a human’s development, and I am still shorter than both my parents. You can thank coffee for that. I started drinking it right at the peak of my growth spurt- at age 14- and effectively stunted my growth.

14 years old, or ninth grade, was when I started staying up very late, and so I compensated for it by drinking massive amounts of caffeine. Genetically speaking, I could have grown at least another 2-3 inches, but I stupidly undermined myself without even realizing it. So if I could go back in time, I would stop myself from drinking coffee until senior year, because girls typically stop growing or slow down at that age.

For years, I was a caffeine fiend. I’d have 2-3 coffees a day when it was crunch time (or even when it wasn’t). I’d drop tons of money feeding my Starbucks addiction with pumpkin spice lattes or caramel macchiatos (while simultaneously setting myself up for diabetes, probably- I had no idea how much sugar was in those drinks). I soon became dependent on caffeine to stay awake/alert past regular school hours (ie: tutoring after school), and even when I got enough sleep, I still felt the need to grab a coffee. This continued on for a long time, from the time I started drinking coffee and into university.

In the Fall of my second year in university, I knew that I had to improve my health because my diet was terrible, I did little exercise, and I always felt tired and sluggish. So my cutting out of Starbucks and excess caffeine came with my promise to live a more healthy life. I’ll save the extra details for another time, but I had to slowly wean off of it because I was so used to having 2+ caffeinated drinks a day (ie: a latte in the morning, a small coffee in the afternoon).

Eventually, I cut out all drinks that were not coffee, plain tea, or water (which meant no more lattes). I got my intake down to one morning coffee a day, and it’s stayed that way ever since. Because while I do want to live a healthy and balanced life, life is too short for me to not enjoy the things I love most in moderation. A coffee a day never hurt anyone, and for those that didn’t know, coffee actually provides health benefits when taken in moderation. Coffee itself has almost zero calories- it’s just the cream and sugar that makes it ‘bad’.

  • Coffee may be good for your liver –  regular coffee consumption may reduce a person’s risk of certain liver disorders, lowering the risk of liver cancer by 40% and cirrhosis by as much as 80%.
  • Coffee can help you burn fat and and boost your metabolism – this is the reason why caffeine is usually the primary ingredient in most over-the-counter diet supplements. While drinking coffee will not make you lose weight, it can help raise the metabolic rate and boost your athletic performance.
  • Coffee is an all-around performance booster – both physically and mentally. Best of all, it’s legal.
  • Coffee can lower your risk of diabetes – research has found that having 3-4 cups of coffee a day is correlated with a 25% lower risk in type II diabetes.
  • Coffee is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s – as you age, coffee can slow down “the onset of neurodegenerative disease,” and can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 60%, and Parkinson’s of 32-60%.

So despite these health benefits, too much of a good thing can be harmful, especially if you are just starting to drink coffee and haven’t yet developed a tolerance for caffeine- even one cup can have you up half the night. Do enjoy this wondrous beverage, but enjoy in moderation, and adjust according to your body’s needs.

(Information taken from here and here.)