Monday, June 27

Philosophy Review

I was introduced to Philosophy when I was obsessed with soaps and bath gels. I am fairly thrifty person... and I can't believe that there was a time in my life that I would consider spending $16 on bath gels. Bath gels with no special moisturizing, exfoliating, or skincare properties. (I say this, but I recently wandered back into a Lush and wanted to spend about $20 on a very small bottle of body wash.)

I spontaneously purchased these items, so I figured, why not write what I feel about them? 

Fresh Cream Body Polishing Scrub - This makes me remember why I thought about buying obscenely expensive body washes -- the scent. The lotion smells super incredibly sweet and creamy. It worked well as a moisturizer, but the selling point was the scent! 

Purity Facial Cleanser - This stuff is great. I can definitely see why it is a holy grail for so many. It is gentle enough to use around the eye area, removes my makeup effectively and doesn't make my face feel dry. 

Monday, June 20

My Top Four Dream Travel Destinations

As I was growing up, I always felt like such a traveler. My family visited China every summer, so I felt incredibly exotic. I could speak another language and I've been somewhere that took a 10 hour plane ride. But as I grew older, I realized I hadn't really traveled at all. Sure, I've been across an ocean and to another continent, but it was only that one country. And only one city. 

While my peers not only traveled but lived all across the world, I quickly fell behind on my traveling. Truth is, I don't have the guts to rough it. Nor do I want to. I'd love to do luxury travel, but I barely have the money to travel at all. Anyways, here's a list of places that I'd love to visit: 

1. New Zealand & Australia 

Hobbits, scenery, culture and animals! To me, this is such an exotic part of the world. I don't even really know what I'd do here, but I know, for sure that there's tons of things to see. I'd love to try the cuisine, visit the cities and the desert!

2. Russia 

I've always wanted to visit Russia. It's an unusual mix of European and Asian. I've always loved Russian history and would love to go see all the landmarks that I learned about in school. The Russian culture is so rich. 

3. Italy 

I've been to Italy once but there are so many cities that we left out of my trip. I'd love to visit and explore Rome, Venice and the Vatican.

4. Greece

Recently, I've seen some bloggers and vloggers hit up Greece. The scenery looks so picturesque! You already know that I'm a huge fan of culture and history, so Greece is an obvious choice for me! Between Athens and Santorini, there's so much learning and relaxing to do. 

Where do you want to go on your next vacation?

Monday, May 23

How to Find a Job Post Graduation

Too often, students do well in school and forget why they are there in the first place--to find a job. Graduation dawns all too fast and these students are left in limbo, often moving back home since they don't have anything prepared. In order to graduate with a job, keep these tips in mind. 

 1. Know what you want to do.  I know. I know. This is no easy charge. But starting your job search in your last year of university is far, far too late. You should be looking at internships the moment you enter college. Granted, these internships may not be able to support you, but try to make whatever position you take during school relate to your field. I know it's great to enjoy a summer off, but a summer off between when you graduate and when you start working is MUCH more relaxing. 

 2. Actually apply for jobs. I've also heard of students who have graduated complain that they don't get many callbacks, even though they've been applying for jobs all week. How many did they apply for? 5. At a certain point, you should really just be churning these applications out! A better goal is 15... per day. Remember, we not only want one job, but options to pick between. 

 3. Get a Plan B - that doesn't involve more school. There are a lot of people who pursue more school because they are good at it. It's great to do something that you love, but I think we need to keep a payday at the end of the tunnel in mind. It's not that jobs in academia aren't available, but whenever I've seen it, it's been rare. Don't go to get more school because that's what you've always done. Sometimes, we may need to take a position that's not ideal... to wait for something more appropriate to come along. If anything, you may discover a new passion or realize that your original idea is exactly the path you're meant to be on.e 

 After doing all this... you still may not get an offer. Everyone's situation is different. Not everyone wants to settle for the first job they find. Some people need to move to find gainful employment. Others are underemployed. I've seen it too, where bright, intelligent and hardworking students can't find jobs for reasons unexplained. Rest assured. Keep trying; it's not just you.

Monday, April 25

On Traveling Alone

Recently, I listed to a podcast that that focused on women travelling alone. Specifically, it discussed female travelers throughout history, the stigma of a woman travelling alone and the unique challenges that women face abroad. While discussing these topics, the hosts shared their own journeys of self discovery when travelling alone... 

That's when I realized how rare it was to travel alone. I had not given much thought to my trip to Scotland, but after listening to them, I feel proud that I was able to go to a different country and navigate from one city to another... that I was able to find my friend's houses without getting lost. I did go to an English speaking country and I did meet up with friends while I was there but I am going to take this moment to be proud of my accomplishments.

If you ever have the opportunity to walk along modern marvels or contemplate in a foreign place, I highly recommend you do it!

To where did you last travel alone? 

Monday, April 11

Overdue Reading Update - Book Reviews

It's time again for an update on what I've been reading! I don't read as much nowadays, but I feel like I demand a high quality from what I do read. My highly recommend read from the past few months is the Scarlet Pimpernel! 

via tumblr

The Sherlockian 
by Graham Moore 

 It might be a little strange, but the majority of books I read now are Sherlock Holmes related. In my latest venture was the Sherlockian by Graham Moore. It's definitely a weird book that employs a strategy of dual story telling. One arch focuses on Arthur Conanc Doyle solving the murder of a young woman in the 1800s. The second arch is set in the present day and focuses on a murder that happens at a Holmes Convention. While the book didn't have amazing writing, it was definitely a page turner. I thought I didn't like the book at first, but when I finished, I hoped there would have been a sequel. Read this if you're into fast-paced mysteries. 

The Scarlet Pimpernel 
by Baroness Emma Orczy 

This book was recommended to me by an individual who knew that I loved reading mysteries. But just because I enjoy mysteries doesn't necessary mean I enjoy every mystery... Nevertheless, I started the book and for the first few months I had it, I got through 3 or 4 pages in the preface. Then, one weekend, when I had time, I picked it up and finished it in a day. This is one of those books that I would recommend to anyone and everyone in a heartbeat. The romance and mystery in this book was right up my alley. I grew a little annoyed with the main character, but soon, I loved everyone in the book. I really want this to be turned into a movie with Chris Pratt as the male lead. If you like Austen style romance, Les Miserables, or mysteries, read this immediately. 

Good Omens
by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

This is a very popular book, but I just wasn't feeling it. There are sections of this book that are incredibly quotable and funny, but strung together as a story, it just didn't interest me. I loved the last book I read by Neil Gaiman, so, I'm scared to think that it might be Terry Pratchett I don't enjoy. This book is about an angel, a demon and the 11 year old Anti-Christ who cancels Armageddon. 

What else have you read lately? I would love to hear your recommdations. 

Monday, March 28

OVERHYPED?! - Revlon Lip Butter in Sorbet Review

This series is about those products that you've heard so much about. But, if for some reason, you've wondered if they're overhyped, there's this review for you. Right now we're probably all looking for the next bright spring lipstick, something nice and moisturizing and in a pretty coral or pink color. Well, then your search will probably take you to the Revlon Lip Butters, which came out a few seasons ago. Here's my review... are they OVERHYPED?! Find out below:

The texture? Definitely creamy. But what about all the other qualities?

Despite being creamy and moisturizing, if you have dry lips, you'll still have to exfoliate them well before applying this lipstick. As you can see above, the color is sheer. But worry not as it is also quickly buildable. The lipstick slides over your lips leaving a subtle glossy effect behind. Despite the bright shade of this lipstick, it's actually a relatively natural color on the lips. It only settles a bit into my fine lines. The lipstick doesn't moisturize my lips any, but at the same time, it doesn't dry my lips out either. 

The transferability is low on this lipstick, which I'm SO thankful for after other products have left my coffee cups with gross red smudges. While it doesn't transfer, it's also not incredibly long lasting. One would have reapply every few hours. The lipstick wears off pretty evenly, another trait I'm a huge fan of. Overall, I'd say while this is a good lipstick... it's still overhyped. 

Monday, March 21

Summer 2014 - Scotland Recap 3

Continuing on a previous post series, my last post about Scotland-- 2 years ago at this point! I had a fantastic time, so be sure to catch my first and second post in the series here!

Saturday, July 21 - Exploring the Highlands at Blair Atholl

On Saturday, we had a "Highlands" day. I had wanted to go to Loch Ness (for Nessie related reasons) but the trip there was prohibitively long. We ended up choosing a different location that was a lot closer. After a yummy breakfast of chocolate croissants, pancakes and Haggis, we set off. 

Blair Atholl was about 2 hours north by train and breathtakingly gorgeous. It reminded me of Austria. First on our list in Blair Atholl was to find some food. 

The Mill was recommended as the place to go and how right Yelp was! The Mill felt in all honesty like a Hobbit Hole. It was small, dark and warm. Most of the furniture was wood and it was very welcoming. We ordered paninis with chutney (yum). My friend got a scone with butter as a side. I have never loved scones because since I usually think they are dry, but I grew to love them in Scotland. Lastly, we split a chocolate cake with the most extraordinary ganache, made up of extremely simple ingredients. 

From there, we took a detour, got lost and then went to visit the Blair Atholl Castle. 

Castles in Scotland are all so different. There's what you may steroeotypically think of as a castle, then there's Blair Atholl, which to me, looks Mediterranean. While pictures were not allowed inside the castle, it was a mixture of old oil paintings, 19th century dining rooms, huge displays of artillery on the walls, and antlers. Probably hundreds of pairs or antlers on the wall. 

I've visited a French castles and German castles, this Scottish one was humble by comparison. What I did like about it was the mixture of ancient history dating back to the 1700s... and photos from just a few years ago. I learned that the Duke who owned the castle was actually living in South Africa. As an American, the idea of aristocrats seems like an ancient and foreign idea--so it was refreshing to see that system in a modern context. 
We walked around the castle for a few hours, and of course, there was that 2 hour train ride. By the time we got back, it was already 8:30. However, the skies were deceivingly light and instead of heading home we decided to have some Italian in St. Andrews. After a long day of walking, the food was amazing and well appreciated. Slightly gratuitous pasta porn:

Sunday, July 21 - First Day in Edinburgh

All the walking made us pretty tired but when I got up on Sunday I had to pack all my bags and head back towards Edinburgh. I had become acquainted with the trains on Saturday, so Sunday's trip wasn't special to me. We had breakfast first thing in the morning, or course. This was a full Scottish breakfast. Beans, eggs, toast, haggis, sausage and that European bacon!

I enjoyed travelling via rail along the coastal high way to McTaggert's Cafe. Or rather, the city of Aberdour. But what I really remember was the cafe. After the flour mill on the day before, I had expected McTaggert's to be like that bar from Lord of the Rings, but it was surprisingly modern. 

But back to Edinburgh. After setting our stuff down in the train station, we went to the Chocolate Tree. This specialty chocolate restaurant sounded amazing, but I didn't realize how far it was. By the time we walked across the city, I had no idea where I was and I was incredibly grumpy. At the same time, I loved the walking tour of the city I got. The architechture was breathtaking. The family homes looked aged and refined, and yet comfortable enough for modern living. Their windowsills were decorated with beds of flowers and gorgeous curtains. We passed by a park where people were playing golf or having a picnic. 

The Chocolate Tree was delicious. We had hot chocolate with a scoop of chocolate ice cream in it. I probably would never order this at home, but there's just something about being on vacation. No rules. 

We ended the day by walking around Grass Market. I really wish that there was a place near me like Grass Market. It's an long street, filled with bars, pubs and restaurants. But there is still a decently open walking area in the middle. Right over it lies the Edinburgh Castle, which I guess is really why I don't see anything like that day to day. Nothing in the US is quite that old. We even ended up passing by the Elephant House, where die hard fans will know as the birthplace of Harry Potter. 

Monday, June 23rd - Last Day in Scotland

My last day was spent entirely in Edinburgh. I think I was most excited for this trip. St. Andrews was a University town, Anstruther was a quiet fishing village, and Edinburgh was a city. And I loved the city. I'm glad that this trip helped me discover that I'm a city girl, through and though. First order of business was to climb Arthur's Seat. I don't think I ever really learned what Arthur's Seat was, but it was always visible in the background as a flat mountain of sorts. Some kind of stronghold for the city perhaps? Either way, I was promised gorgeous views at the top so I started. My friend was tricky. A forty minute hike turned into an hour and a half, but the experience was honestly awesome. I am not a fan of hiking, but if I lived in Edinburgh, I'd be hiking that thing every weekend. 

After we came down the mountain, it was time for lunch. I had yelped a place adjacent to Arthur's Seat and we went there for something lovely and simple. Sugarhouse Sandwiches had delightful...sandwiches! 

Then, on the way to get back into the city center, we passed by two fudge shops and purchased a good deal of fudge... because we need that much fudge to carry. 

I was really tired the rest of the day but we trekked across the city anyways to the Edinburgh castle where I attempted to receive a free ticket by pretending to be a member of a Chinese tour group. We walked by Camera Obscura, an illusion museum of sorts, but didn't go in. I got a few pictures of Edinburgh as we walked across it. 

The last part of our day was spent people watching. I wanted to make sure that my bus would actually take me where I wanted to go, so we tried to verify the bus stop... while doing so, we were distracted by some bagpipers in front of a hotel. Now, I know that bagpipes are a very Scottish thing but holy crap, if they're playing close to you, they are LOUD.

From the city, I flew to the airport and started on a long trek home. Overall, I look back on this trip super fondly. I got to spend a week exploring a few cities in a brand new country with a very good friend.