2 Year Blogiversary: What’s The Most Read Post On My Blog??

2-Year Blogging Anniversary

The day after Christmas usually isn’t as memorable as Christmas day itself, but for me December 26th marks the day that I started this here blog, and holy wow it’s been two years already!

Now I know how couples who celebrate being together for so long feel on their anniversaries. Well, kind of. If my blog were my boyfriend, I guess. Anyway, I’m glad to have made it to this milestone. I remember during the first couple of months of blogging, I didn’t pay too much attention to how frequently I posted, or whether or not I promoted those posts, or even whether or not a lot of people read those posts. I was just happy to have my own space for writing about what I felt like writing about. But when my sophomore year was finally over, I decided to get serious and set a goal to achieve 1,000 views one month, and wouldn’t ya know it, I did it. Then, my goal was to double that the next month and I ended up with not 2,000 views, but 4,000 page views! Fast forward about a year and a half and I’ve gotten over 80,000 monthly views, built somewhat decent followings on all my social media (Twitter needs a little work, but we’ll get there slowly but surely ūüėČ ) and got connected to so many other awesome bloggers.

That was a little bit about my blogging back story in case you were wondering. Obviously, it’s not all peaches and cream all the time. There were times when I was just too exhausted from school to really think through upcoming content. And it sometimes sucks when posts you work really hard on don’t get as much attention as you think they will. But keeping your chin up and working hard definitely pays off.

I’ve gotten to work with top brands like Neutrogena and Too Faced, been a VIP at College Fashion Week, attended a Red Carpet Premiere, and so much more. Plus, blogging has helped me garner important skills that made me a more competitive applicant when I applied to my first internship and my beauty and fashion internship.

Last year for my one-year blogiversary post, I wrote about 10 Things I Learned From One Year Of Blogging (check it out if you haven’t seen it yet!), so this year I want to do something a bit different and go through the top 5 posts I’ve written in 2017. This also works really well because New Year’s day is next week, so yay for perfect timing! I’m also going to clue you in on my favorite post I’ve ever written, and we’re gonna take a look back at my first ever blog post. So now that this super long intro is finally over, let’s get to it!

Top 5 posts…

5. 13 Tips For Getting A’s In Your Classes

From the day I wrote this post, it’s been doing consistently well. I think I definitely revealed a couple of ~surprising~ bits of information for doing really well in class, so if you’re interested, take a look.

4. 20 Ways To Be Healthier In College

I’m kind of surprised this one has as many views as it does, but I did put a lot of work into it. I always give tips based on my own experiences and what I observe could work for people, but it was more so on this one because I remember advising myself to do these exact things at the time and I decided to turn it into a post!

3. 9 School Supplies You Actually Need For College

I wrote this one because I was SO SICK of stores and back to school catalogues trying to convince students and parents that they actually knew what you actually needed for class, when in reality people were buying a ton of crap that they’d end up NOT using.

2. 13 Things Not Allowed In Your Dorm Room And What To Bring Instead

Soooooo I actually wrote this one in 2016, but it’s STILL the SECOND MOST READ POST on my blog!! I really love this one so so much because it’s certainly true that A LOT of students bring items they shouldn’t bring into their dorm rooms. I’m not here to rat you out or scold you or anything, but there are actual consequences if you get caught with those items. So, I listed some of them in this post and I provided substitutes that work just as well in their place.

And, my most read post is…

1. 17 Tips To Make College Move-In Day Much Easier

This post ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS gets read every single day! Even when it’s NOT move-in day season for students! That last part kind of baffles me but I guess people want to keep the knowledge in their back pockets? Oh well. Anyway, this is another one that I wrote back in 2016 that has still stayed strong over the last year and a half. Crazy, right? If you’re wondering what the most-read post is that I did in 2017, it’s The 8 Best Free Apps For College Students!

My favorite post of all time…

Is probably my post on How I Landed An Editorial Beauty & Fashion Internship In NYC. I love when people write things about how they landed that dream position, or how they got to where they are now, so I really enjoyed writing this post. I also really love writing anything related to career and internships in general, and my friends always ask me to take a look at their cover letters and help them re-vamp their resumes! So if you ever have any career or internship questions, feel free to shoot me an email (heyimjasmin@gmail.com).

My first ever blog post…

Was 5 TV Shows To Cozy Up To This Winter. At the time, I was really feeling all the shows I was watching on Netflix and was inspired to create this post. If you’ve stuck around long enough to remember that post, wow, thank you lots for hanging out with me for two years!!

So yep, that’s my post in honor of my blog’s second birthday! Don’t forget to take my reader feedback survey to be entered into my giveaway to win a NYX Lip Vault! As a special New Year’s treat, I’m extending the deadline to Sunday, January 7 and the winner will be emailed on January 8. Good luck!

Here’s to more fun events, more awesome brand collaborations, more cool ideas, and more awesome readers like you (I say as I raise my imaginary glass of champagne). Cheers, y’all!

Thanks for sticking around, friends!

9 Things To Do This June If You Suck At Thinking Of Things To Do

Alas, May is coming to an end, but that means June is just beginning! Time for some fun in the sun, hangouts with friends (now that school’s out) and binge-watching Netflix. Well, not too much of Netflix, though. In the past I haven’t gotten out much and I haven’t done too many things with my summer, but this time I intend to make great use of my three months of no school and I’m taking it one month at a time. If you’re determined to¬†not¬†go all couch potato on society this summer, then take a look at my bucket list for some inspiration for fun things to do this June.

  1. Try a wild milkshake from BlackTap. If you haven’t heard about the craze over the most insane,¬†over-the-top¬†milkshakes at BlackTap…clearly, you’re not one with insane, over-the-top milkshakes…BUT they’re really cool-looking. There’s something so intriguing and almost¬†magical¬†about stacking cookies and cotton candy on top of milkshakes. A few months ago, my friend and I wanted to go to BlackTap, but we were running out of time and we had heard that it takes¬†hours¬†to get in because the lines are so long (because the milkshakes are so amazing!) So I’m determined to finally go and give those milkshakes a try. If I had to pick one flavor off the top of my head to try right now, it’d probably be the coffee flavored one because (thanks to the two Starbucks conveniently located right on my campus) I’ve come to enjoy sweetened, creamed(?) coffee drinks. But I’ll probably go with the most insane flavor they have!
  2. Join a Twitter Party. Twitter parties are usually great for talking and networking with other like-minded individuals. Some Twitter parties are used for promoting certain products while others have a specific topic of discussion, and participants use hashtags in order to partake in the conversation. I’d love to get in on a Twitter party because I see it as an opportunity to talk to other bloggers who might be able to give me a few pointers, plus I also really want to make some blogger buddies! There may not be chips and dip, and you won’t find anyone in some corner somewhere playing spin the bottle, but it’s still a great way to exercise your Twitter account in a new way.
  3. Go out with friends. My friends and I each went our separate ways after graduating from high school, and we haven’t seen each other in many, many months. One of our friends has a dance recital in June and it’ll be a chance for all of us to hang out while supporting our friend. Maybe your friend doesn’t have a dance recital coming up, but seeing some shows or movies with friends or just hanging ¬†out is a great way to spend time away from your computer screen.
  4. Create and enjoy healthy food from Pinterest. Healthy meals always seem to be popping up on Pinterest, and I don’t know about you, but every time I see an egg-filled avocado with toast, I actually feel motivated to eat it (this coming from the girl who took a spoonful of avocado to the tastebuds and promptly shuddered and spit it out). My plan is definitely to surf Pinterest to find some #foodgoals and then actually create and eat them. This is a great way for you to kickstart a new lifestyle, or become interested in foods you never thought you’d be interested in. Who knows, maybe there’s even a culinary genius inside you, and maybe you’ll put your own creations on Pinterest!
  5. Have a professional looking photoshoot. It’s really important to have professional looking headshots, or just clean, well-staged photos of you looking your best. Seriously, you never know when you might need to quickly upload a new profile picture for a new job or LinkedIn, so better safe than sorry. I’d love to have this type of photoshoot with some of my friends, so that way we’ll each have a plethora of nice shots to choose from. These pictures would work great as LinkedIn profile pictures, business card images, email signatures, and more. Definitely use part of your summer to clean a few things up professionally, even if they’re as small as changing your profile picture from a wild Friday night to interview-ready.
  6. Make chocolate at Voila Chocolat. I’ve been baking since middle school, and have worked with chocolate on many occasions. I’ve used chocolate for molding, tempering, garnishing, and simply just baking chips into warm, chewy cookies, but I still want to learn more. I’ve wanted to come to Voila Chocolat since Valentine’s Day, but couldn’t because of the weather, so here’s my chance to do so! Voila Chocolat actually offers educational classes where you can learn things — like the¬†science¬†of chocolate — so I’m really excited for that. There are definitely other classes out there that allow you to have fun while learning how to create culinary masterpieces. Learning new things is always a productive use of your time, so don’t hesitate to through some fun (and good eats) in there!
  7. Eat at all the cafes on 5th Avenue. Well, maybe not¬†all¬†of them, but I definitely would like to discover new eats on 5th avenue this June. I actually got started on that journey and on Friday I went to a sandwich shop called Potbelly, and the sandwiches there were pretty good so I can’t wait to see what other eateries I’ll discover in that area. I’m hoping to find a burger place next, or maybe even a shop that specializes in really healthy food. You don’t have to go straight to 5th avenue — pick your favorite neighborhood, or a neighborhood you’ve always wanted to explore, and gradually eat at a new restaurant or cafe every time you’re there. This maintains the element of surprise because you don’t necessarily have to plan a trip to a cafe, and who knows what you’ll discover next time!
  8. Go to blogger events. I’m still in the process of scoping out some cool events geared toward bloggers/college writers/girls-who-dream-of-the-magazine-industry, but so far I’ve found a few (that aren’t in June) that I will be attending. Attending events that are targeted toward your career goals is a great way for you to network and put your name out there, and at the very least meet people who may actually play a huge role in your future. You never know, right? There are conferences for people of many different trades and professions, so make sure you put yourself out there and take a look at some of them. Some events are literally as easy as ‘Like’ the event’s Facebook page for head-counting purposes, and show up!
  9. Go bowling.¬†I love bowling, and I’m fairly good at it, but I haven’t gone bowling with friends in probably over a year! This is on my bucket list because it’s an activity that I’ve always enjoyed doing, so it’d be nice to go back to the basics to cover old, familiar ground. If all else fails, you definitely can’t go wrong with partaking in an old activity that you know and love well, whether it’s hiking, fishing, swimming, or others!¬†

I hope my list has inspired you to create your own June bucket list, or to at least give yourself the chance to go out and explore and have some fun.

What’s on¬†your¬†June bucket list?¬†

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How To Avoid Overspending On A Shopping Spree

I love shopping. I love buying new outfits for class, for work, and even for cafes because I’m constantly inspired by my favorite tv show characters, and my celebrity role models, not to mention the fact that my tastes have changed quite a bit since freshman year of high school. As a college student whose fashion desires may not always suit her budget, I’ve learned how to still buy the things I want while watching my wallet (or my parents’ wallets!) Here are some things I’ve picked up that help me spend cautiously.

  1. Leave your cards at home; bring cash instead.¬†Isn’t it weird how you don’t feel as bad when you’re swiping a card compared to if you were gingerly pulling bills from your purse one-by-one? Sometimes, that guilt is a good red light going off in your head that tells you to really stop and consider your purchase. You’re less likely to overspend if your method of payment is cash. Only use a credit card if it’s an absolute emergency, or if the purchase is extremely important. Try to avoid making small, frivolous purchases with a credit card, because if you accrue too much interest you may not be able to pay it off. ¬†
  2. Have a plan in place: what exactly are you looking for?¬†I like going shopping with an image already in mind of what I need. Let me re-phrase that: I literally have the picture of what I want in my mind, from the printed pattern to the lace detail. But other times I just write out a list on paper, or I type it on my phone. Maybe this summer you’re looking for crop tops, maxi skirts, and a new pair of sunglasses. Write it down so you don’t forget what you came to the mall for (but if you do forget, that’s understandable — the mall can easily cloud our judgment with all the beautiful things being sold). Knowing exactly what I went shopping for also ensures that I don’t leave with too much unnecessary stuff and none of what I initially went for.¬†
  3. Stop and think: do I really need this? This is one question that I ask myself if I’m not too sure if I should make the purchase, and I don’t want to spend unnecessarily. Do I really need that hat? Well, it looks cute but I’m not much of a hat person. Another question you might want to consider is: how often will I wear this? It looks good with that mannequin’s outfit, but what other outfits will I wear it with? If you can’t figure out at least a handful of times when you’ll wear the item, then you probably shouldn’t buy it.¬†Will I actually wear it?¬†I have some clothes that still have the tags on them. Needless to say, I probably shouldn’t have made those purchases all those years ago — could’ve saved a nice chunk of change. Sometimes we make purchases in the heat of the moment and then forget all about them. These questions aren’t to dissuade you from buying anything ever again, but rather they’re for helping you reflect on the usefulness of your purchase.¬†
  4. Will you be comfortable in this?¬†One of the easiest ways to save money when shopping is to simply not spend money on things that won’t make you comfortable. We can often overlook a minor discomfort for a short amount of time, but if a piece of clothing makes you so uncomfortable that you can’t do the tasks you need to do, then it’s not worth the money. This is especially important when buying shoes, because who wants to wear a pair of shoes they can’t walk properly in? Comfort is one of the simplest treasures in life — don’t spend it away.¬†
  5. Check out the sale racks.¬†Sometimes I find some really good things on sale, then I get really happy because I got them for such a low price which means I saved money. Stores like Charlotte Russe also have a section for ‘last chance’ items — items that unless you snatch them up now at their very, very low price, you’ll never see in stores ever again. Ever. Take a look at that section for something you might like, too. Discounts are a girl’s best friend, after all.¬†
  6. Look for the best deals on accessories.¬†I love, love,¬†love¬†jewelry so much! Over the years I’ve accumulated a very large collection of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings, but my tastes have changed and I’ve given away a lot of stuff that I don’t put to use anymore that someone else could. When I shop for accessories, I don’t want to spend $10 on just one pair of tiny studs. Forver21 is a good place for finding modest jewelry at a good price. I like shopping at this store called Six for pretty phone cases and bracelets and rings for reasonable prices. Also, don’t grab those 2 for $10 deals if you can’t find a second set that you genuinely like. You’re only wasting money, so you’re better off paying less money for the one pair.¬†
  7. Be conscious of price tags.¬†You don’t have to be the price tag police, but make sure you’re aware of the general costs of the things you’re buying. Knowing your limit and knowing where you stand on that limit can help you avoid spending more money than you intended to. Another thing I like doing is setting a budget that’s a little less than the total amount of money I have on me. For example, If I have $200, I might set a budget of $125, so that no matter what, I still don’t spend all of my money.¬†
  8. Can you purchase this item later for a lower price? When you let go of that love for instant gratification, shopping without overspending becomes a lot easier. If you can buy an item in a couple of weeks or a couple of months for significantly cheaper, you should definitely wait. This may not happen often, but sometimes waiting can be the difference between spending at the original price of $300 and spending $200 (which actually happened to me a few months ago, so it was a good thing I waited so long!) Simply waiting is also a good way to spend less money when shopping. Some stores even let you sign up to be among the first notified of when the item goes on sale.  
  9. Look out for online coupons.¬†I never used to concern myself with looking for coupons online, or downloading coupon apps, or anything like that, but after seeing my friends and some family members save a nice chunk of change by finding and being that customer who sits at the cash register waiting for their coupon to go through, I now believe that one should take pride in the lavish use of coupons. For some reason, I actual find the coupon hunt exhilarating because it’s such a rush of excitement when you find a kick-ass deal!¬†

The next time you see the inside of a mall, I hope you’ll think of these tips for saving money like a pro! What tips do you have for saving money on a shopping spree? Let me know in the comments!

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The Ultimate Somewhat Mini Concert Checklist

With all the lights, people screaming song lyrics into your ear, and let’s not forget the thought of being under the same roof as one of your favorite artists (or under the same sky if you’re outdoors), concerts can be really fun experiences. Maybe just a tad bit intimidating if you’re a first-timer who doesn’t know what they’re doing, but nevertheless the fun. If you do have some concert jitters and aren’t sure what to bring, what to wear, or where to go (but hopefully you know where your venue is come concert time) then I have some helpful hints and tips for you in this amazing (if I do say so myself) concert checklist. I myself am a rather organized person who disdains confusing, or uncomfortable situations (then again, who doesn’t?) so don’t worry, this list is 100 percent Jasmin-approved! Without further ado, here are some things you should make sure you do in preparation for your concert experience!

Before anything at all…

So before you sing along to every song at the top of your lungs, and even before you pose for Instagram pictures at the concert, there are a few things you need to make sure you’ve completely nailed.

Know how to get to your venue.¬†It’s awesome that you’re going to see Ellie Goulding perform in Somethingtown, but if you have no clue how to get to Somethingtown and day of the concert you¬†still¬†have no clue how to get to Somethingtown, umm…you’re in some pretty deep crap. Transportation is time and time is money.¬†Having to use public transportation to get to your venue may take more time than driving there, which means you’ll have to plan ahead more. You wouldn’t want to end up not being able to see your concert because you couldn’t be on time, now would you? You might feel like throwing caution to the wind and being a little spontaneous, but don’t underestimate the power of a well thought out plan.

Know how to return from your venue.¬†Especially if you’re using public transportation! Personally, I’m a rather awkward public transportation user — I have to quadruple check that I’m standing on the correct platform before boarding a train — so to me, knowing every detail of your transportation plan (including how to not get lost) ¬†is the difference between making it home in time to tell your smiling parents every detail of your experience, and making it home to a stern talk about being more responsible when traveling so you¬†don’t¬†come sauntering through the front door at three in the morning because you took the wrong train twice. I like knowing at least two options for making my trips, so if one is no longer doable I have a backup plan.

Make sure you have a fully charged phone.¬†Not 60 percent battery, and definitely not 40 percent battery! You may also want to be concerned even at 80 percent. Phones are for more than just Snapchatting amazing moments for your Story that will make all your friends wish they were at a concert too. If you need to make a call to someone — a parent, a friend, a relative,¬†the police¬†— you shouldn’t have to worry about how soon your phone will die on you. Save yourself the worries and¬†charge your phone.¬†You¬†know¬†you’ll likely be waiting in line for ages, and you¬†know¬†the concert isn’t going to be a super quick thing, so be prepared!

Charge your portable charger as a backup.¬†By now you should know just how much I love backup plans! If you really want to get to the next level of prepared, you’ll bring a portable. But if you want to be the king or queen preparedness, you’ll remember to actually charge the charger before throwing it into your bag. I have a portable charger and I cannot tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to actually charge it just for everyday use, so I end up bringing my whole phone charger to class with me. A portable charger is useless if you don’t charge it for at least three hours in advanced.

Stay hydrated.¬†Especially if the concert you’re attending is outdoors under the hot July sun. Carrying water bottles to a concert is tedious, and at some venues they might not allow you to go in with outside beverages of any kind. At the same time, not many people would want to pay for a bottle of water from the venue, and even fewer people would want to leave their place in line to buy something to drink. You definitely don’t want to end up passing out in the middle of the concert, so make sure you hydrate beforehand throughout the day.

Make sure you¬†have¬†tickets!¬†Your concert tickets are one of, if not the most, important items for you to have at the ready for your concert experience. I’ll even forgive you if you opt to pack your concert tickets instead of the portable charger. How else would you get into the concert? That was a rhetorical question by the way. In any case, make sure you are holding your tickets or printed confirmation of paid tickets in the palm of your hands before you even think about stepping out the door. TickPick is a great place to buy tickets. The interface is rather simple, so first-time ticket purchasers need not be intimidated! Users can select tickets to concerts from a multitude of artists including Shawn Mendes, Ellie Goulding, and many more!

For figuring out your¬†wardrobe…

They say getting there is half the fun, but I think picking outfits is half the fun (getting there is more like a quarter of the fun). So amid all the shopping, try-ons and whatnot, what should you remember?

Wear¬†comfortable shoes.¬†And try to avoid having to pack comfortable shoes, because then you’ll have to either carry an extra bag or use a bag that’s bigger than you might like. You know that at some point you’ll end up with blisters and/or sore feet and the pain isn’t always worth it. Plus if you’ll be standing most of the time you might want to treat your feet like they’re royalty.

Try on as many outfits as you can.¬†Can we be blamed for wanting to look as fabulous as we can? I think not! Sometimes, the first outfit you try on at the mall or in your closet isn’t going to be your ultimate choice for concert wear. I’m usually happy with an outfit at first and then I decide that I’d much rather wear something else, but then I go back to the first idea, but not before coming up with a completely different idea. Our accessories need to be dazzling in those selfies; our outfits need to be on point for Instagram — there’s nothing wrong with wanting to show off an even more fabulous version of yourself for a concert! But there are still a few points that go along with finding your perfect concert outfit…

Don’t think you’ll be able to overlook a minor discomfort.¬†If from the beginning you feel that your shorts are just a little too short for your personal liking, chances are you’re going to feel like you have to pull on them all throughout your concert experience. And who wants to miss an opportunity to take an epic pic of the artist performing because they were too busy being uncomfortable in the outfit they chose? You may think it’s no big deal because you see other people wearing a certain thing¬†all the time, so you can power through it. Remember that everyone is different and what one person might be comfortable wearing wouldn’t necessarily bring another person as much comfort. There’s definitely a difference between going outside your comfort zone and doing something you already know¬†will drive you bonkers.¬†This being said, this is an important point on this checklist because you never want to forget such comfort at home!

Wear something that won’t make you freeze half to death.¬†So recently my school had our annual “Brookfest”¬†concert, and these past few weeks in Long Island have done very little to prove that spring was actually upon us. I saw so many girls walking across campus to the concert in tube tops while shivering profusely. Again this also has to do with your personal level of comfort, all factors considered (remember that it’ll probably get really hot if your venue is indoors). But you can totally check this off your list once you’ve fully considered your comfort.

Channel your creativity.¬†An amazing thing about concerts is that it’s full of creativity — no matter where you attend one, who’s performing, or even who your fellow concert goers are. You can bet your boho accessories that people will take this as an opportunity to add their own personal touches to their concert experience to make it a true concert dream. Feathers, intricate jewelry, crochet, lace — you name it! Plus, it doesn’t stop there. I got to handpick¬†my¬†dream Coachella lineup, a.k.a.¬†Faux-Chella, thanks to the awesome team at TickPick. TickPick was able to highlight a number of dream music festivals by teaming up with a number of music lovers out there. Below you’ll find a super cute graphic they created for me based on my personal picks for my dream festival. And if you haven’t already noticed, the name Faux-Chella is¬†super¬†adorable!

Macarons and Mascara _ TickPick

So do you have all these things in the bag? 

Don’t worry, we’re almost done! So now that we’ve covered a couple of points with regard to dress and essentials for a great concert experience, all we have to do is make sure you’ve got a couple of things in the bag (aside from tickets and a fully charged phone).

Do you even¬†have¬†a bag?¬†Like a little pocketbook for carrying around cash, ID, your phone, and the like? Some may find it useful to carry just a small drawstring backpack or a small crossbody. The choice is completely yours, but I don’t think you’ll find yourself able to fit everything you need into just your pants pockets.

Cash.¬†You’re probably going to buy merch before the concert (because the experience wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t bring back a t-shirt). Make sure you’ve got enough cash to fulfill your concert merch dreams.

A small pack of tissues.¬†Hello, allergy season. You might want to make sure you have even just a few tissues to wipe your nose with if you’ve got some annoying sniffles come concert time. Plus, if you’re chilling at your concert and someone accidentally spills soda on sandals, tissues might be a good way to clean up the situation (side note: making up hypotheticals is another one of my talents).

Sunglasses.¬†I wouldn’t be caught dead outside without sunglasses on me. If you’re going to an outdoor music festival, sunglasses are a must! They not only shield your eyes from the hot yet sometimes annoying sun, but can also add to your outfit and make you look even cooler.

ID.¬†Even if it isn’t required that you bring ID, or if the venue doesn’t typically check for ID, you should probably have some form of identification on you at all times anyway. But if there will be ID checks, guess what you might want to consider bringing!

Friends who want to have a good time!¬†Okay, you can’t fit your friends inside your crossbody, but you should still bring them along, too. Everything’s better with friends (except when eating cake because who’s trying to share cake?) So grab some buddies to make memories with!

If you made it this far in my blog post, congratulations because I know I’ve said (typed?) a mouthful. I hope you enjoy your next (or first) concert experience!

What are some of your concert experiences? 

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Note: All thoughts and opinions discussed are completely my own. Thank you to TickPick for the beautiful Faux-chella concert graphic!

 

 

How To Get Motivated To Get In Shape

You’re probably hearing a bunch of lifestyle platforms, magazines and the like tell you to get ready to get in shape because ‘bikini season is approaching.’ Well, I’m not going to tell you that, and that’s because I don’t really believe in working hard toward a body that society deems as ‘appropriate for bikinis.’ Now, I’m not bashing anyone or any entity that uses the term, ‘bikini body,’ so don’t get me wrong. I’m here to talk to you about¬†my¬†personal meaning of ‘getting in shape,’ which is working toward the goal of achieving your personally desired standard of health and fitness — no matter what that looks like.

So now that we’ve established that, let’s get back into the how-to part of things…Finding motivation — to do anything — can sometimes be pretty difficult. But we must have good reasons for wanting something, right? No one is immune — believe me. There have been many times when I’d say to myself, “Okay, starting today I’m going to make the effort to cut out certain foods from my diet in order to eat better.” And yet, I sometimes find myself barely lifting a finger to get started. If you keep finding yourself at a loss for motivation when it comes to getting yourself into shape, take a look at some great ways to raise those motivation levels.

For going to the gym…

workout

  1. Buy cute new workout outfits.¬†Yes, you can still break a sweat while looking super cute. About two weeks ago during my spring break, I went to the mall and¬†bought a bunch of cute workout outfits. I noticed a really cute pastel theme going on in the active wear section of Forever21 and was immediately drawn in. I bought pastel colored sports bras and muscle tops, the text on which matched the colors of my bras! I couldn’t wait to wear them to the gym — I was even genuinely pissed off that the Monday our classes resumed there was snow and I couldn’t make it there. You’ll have so much fun pairing your adorable purchases, and you’ll have even more fun working out in them!¬†
  2. Come up with a blood-pumping playlist.¬†Come up with a playlist to set the tone for your workout. Go through some bouncy songs for a warm up, power ballads when you’re really picking up the pace and at the peak of your workout, and some lighter but catchy songs for a cool down. One song I always get excited to play during my workout is ‘Exes and Ohs’ by Elle King. Her genre is normally light rock, which is awesome because it just goes to show that you can grab great workout music from any genre, really. Take a look at my workout playlist if you’re looking for some inspiration. They really make you look forward to sweating!¬†
  3. Grab a buddy.¬†If you normally think of working out as your one-way ticket to an exhausting, sweaty, painful hell, well…at least you’ll suffer with a buddy! Friends make things more tolerable (I know this all too well walking outside during those Long Island winters — at least I’m walking with someone I can complain to about it). Knowing that you’ve already committed to this plan with someone else will make you less likely to back out at the last possible minute, so you’ll have¬†to go (and you won’t regret it!)¬†¬†Plus, when you’re with someone, you’re way more likely to be comfortable trying out new machines.¬†
  4. Put it on your to-do list for the day.¬†If your friends are too lazy to go to the gym with you and you¬†haven’t yet convinced them to go, then your to-do list can be one of your closest friends. This is sort of the same idea as going with a buddy; once you add a workout to your schedule, you feel committed to it — like it’s set in stone and you need to fulfill this task otherwise you can’t sleep at night. Okay, maybe you’ll still sleep just fine, but let’s pretend that you won’t so you’ll feel even more committed to getting in a workout. Plus, incorporating workout time into your schedule can become a habit. On days that I don’t have my Zumba or boxing class, I have a relatively packed schedule during the day, so I choose to workout at the gym during the early morning hours. I can go back to my room and shower and change afterward, so I’m refreshed and ready to start the day.¬†
  5. Start off small.¬†You don’t have to run five miles on the treadmill your first day, and you don’t have to bench 175 either. Starting off small doesn’t make you look pathetic or weak, and it can actually be a good thing. When you start off small, the only way you can go is up; you can only improve from there and once you start seeing that you can progress, you’ll be excited to keep going. This is a great way to get you motivated to attain your workout goals.¬†
  6. Use it as an opportunity to catch up on Netflix shows while you work out.¬†When you’re running on the treadmill or using the elliptical, you can kill two birds with one stone by squeezing in an episode of your favorite Netflix guilty pleasure. I’ll be the first to admit that mine is currently “Grey’s Anatomy.” Plus most tv show episodes are about 40 minutes long so that guarantees that you’ll be working out for at least 40 minutes when you go to the gym. Bring your phone, ipad, or whatever device you normally watch your shows on (except your actual tv. Somehow I don’t see that working too well).¬†
  7. Join a fitness class.¬†Fitness classes are commitments in disguise, which is a really good thing! Once you sign up, you’ll feel like you have to go, because making awkward eye contact with the instructor of the class you skipped is pretty awkward! If you go to college and have a gym or rec center on your campus, then you definitely have to take advantage of that — you’re paying for it with your tuition money… I’m currently in a Zumba Toning class and boxing class (see my how-to on surviving boxing class), and there are a few others that I’m super excited to try out too, like POUND. These classes feature a group setting, so you’re definitely not alone. You’ll have so much fun if you really get into it, and you’ll make sure you make time for a class or two!¬†
  8. Make an incentive/reward for yourself after working out.¬†I like treating myself to a green smoothie from Red Mango or a Mango Black Tea Lemonade from Starbucks after a workout. They’re refreshing ways to indulge in something I really like. You can treat yourself to something yummy after you workout because you earned it!¬†
  9. Think about how relaxed you’ll feel after letting off that steam.¬†Especially after you hop in a nice, hot shower! This is one of the simplest, yet most satisfying feelings. Great for stressed college students, parents and teenagers! This is also a great feeling you can look forward to, so that’s even more of an incentive for you to start hitting the gym. Ah, I can feel it now…
  10. Think about how soundly you’ll sleep that night!¬†I mean, who doesn’t love sleep, right?¬†

For eating healthy…

 

  1. Instead of thinking about what you can’t have, think about what you can have.¬†You know how you’ll read a bunch of those healthy eating guides and most of them tell you to stay completely away from certain foods if it’s the last thing you do? It can feel a bit discouraging hearing all that, because it’s really hard to part with some of your all time favorites, even if you know they aren’t necessarily good for you (shout out to my beloved chocolate mousse tuxedo cake!) So I started reminding myself of what I¬†can¬†have. I actually write those foods down on post-it notes and leave them stuck to my desk, so every time I’m craving something yummy, I can run by my list.¬†
  2. Search for scrumptious looking alternatives.¬†This ties into my last point. One time, I went to a nutritionist and she kept telling me about all these snack alternatives that I could have, such as celery and things like that. Now, I’m personally not much of a veggie person (except for spinach — I LOVE that stuff) so this wasn’t exactly the type of conversation that got me super excited to buy all the vegetables in the grocery store. So to combat this, I searched the internet for more appealing ways to incorporate certain healthy foods into my diet. This may sound petty, but sometimes aesthetics can really encourage you to add something to your diet. Often times, that’s just how the human brain works.¬†
  3. Take a trip to a grocery store you’ve never been to before.¬†Okay, so confession time: I’ve never been to Trader Joe’s. Yup, that’s right. I usually just get my food from Target. I’m really excited to finally take my first trip to Trader Joe’s because I have a very strong feeling that it will be different from what I’m used to but it will be a really good and impactful change. The grocery stores I’m used to don’t normally have a wide variety of options for vegans, glute-free, or other dietary paths, so I will certainly be exposed to new items. This can really motivate you to not only buy what’s there, but actually start¬†eating¬†that food too! I definitely can’t wait — it makes me happy just thinking about all the new changes!¬†
  4. Try a 30-day eating challenge.¬†Who doesn’t love a good challenge? This is a great way to motivate yourself to pick a dietary lifestyle that’s different from what you’re used to. Because you feel almost ‘bound’ to that challenge, you’re less likely to stray from its guidelines. Plus, there are ample online resources for you to use if you aren’t sure what to eat. One challenge I’m interested in trying out is the 22-day vegan challenge. Personally, I have always been interested in a vegan lifestyle. It’s easy to just look at what vegans eat, but I’d like to try it out for myself. Another great thing about these eating challenges is that it gives you a time limit. It’s easy for anyone to say that they ate gluten free for one week, but one week isn’t enough to see any changes (especially not if you’re eating gluten free. It takes months for gluten to be completely gone from your system). Of course, just under a month isn’t normally enough either, but it’s a much better start. From there, you can decide if this is something you’d like to make permanent.¬†
  5. Now try that challenge with a friend!¬†I think we’ve covered the power of friendship in great detail already. It’s great to grab your suite mate,¬†roommate, housemate, or apartment mate for a healthy eating challenge. You can even take turns cooking dinner, which is super fun!¬†
  6. Watch YouTube tutorials on making healthy meals.¬†I’m not sure why, but watching those meal prep videos not only makes my mouth water, but it also makes me want to create those meals myself. If healthy food videos on YouTube have the same head-over-heels effect on you, then maybe it’s a sign to try them out!¬†
  7. Scroll through Instagram to look at pretty pictures of healthy food.¬†Oh man, Instagram is the same thing, only more effective because there are far more pictures of enticing healthy meals. I started seeing these photos of avocados with eggs half-baked in the middles and I am OBSESSED with looking at these pictures. They look so delicious! I don’t really like eating bare avocados, but this really makes me want to buy an avocado, split it down the middle, take out the center and bake an egg inside it. Without a doubt, this is packed with protein and good fats. I might actually use this as a recurring breakfast option if I try it and like it.¬†

If you’re looking to get started on your road to getting in shape, I hope at least one of these points gave you enough motivation. Don’t forget that another way to get motivated is by remembering¬†why¬†you’re doing this in the first place — for your family, for your personal health, for your confidence — these are also fantastic and some of the most powerful sources of motivation for getting in shape. Good luck y’all!

What motivates you to get in shape? 

Tasty Tuesday: How To Skip Dessert Without Actually Skipping Dessert

Ah, dessert, my favorite meal of the day, and you know what they say about skipping meals! On a college campus where so many sweets and treats exist amidst so many students who choose to make the push toward a healthier dietary lifestyle, it can be a bit difficult to walk past a row of chocolate brownies and¬†not¬†even¬†think¬†about making that purchase. FYI, I have actually done a double take when walking by sweet treats in the dining halls! I usually walk away either bitterly content that I powered through the urge to buy that chocolate bar, or regrettably happy that I now have a chocolate chip cookie to look forward to. It’s a bittersweet feeling either way.

But no matter what reason you have for wanting to start walking the path to a healthier lifestyle, despite what you’ve been told, you don’t need to cut yourself out from your happy world of tiny satisfactions. That’s right, you can still have your dessert! So if you think that getting healthy means skipping out on your favorite meal of the day…think again! Here are some foods that are just as satisfying as your go-to chocolate cupcake.

Mango Black Tea Lemonade from Starbucks.

Well, the frappuccinos there are basically dessert! C’mon, a venti cup full of chocolatey goodness, topped with whipped cream and the topped¬†again¬†with chocolate syrup¬†isn’t¬†dessert? Yeah, okay. Believe me, I have tried to cut Starbucks out of my ‘new and improved’ lifestyle and it just doesn’t work for me. Sorry, not sorry. But instead of having a frappuccino everyday, I have taken to ordering their teas and other shaken drinks. I have gone from really cool Cool Lime Refreshers to the super pretty Strawberry Refresher, to Peach Green Tea and now, my new favorite, Mango Black Tea Lemonade. ¬†Even with the lemonade added, these drinks aren’t nearly as sugary as frappuccinos are. These drinks are refreshing and definitely enough to keep your tastebuds content.

Coconut flavored yogurt.

I just love coconut flavored anything, but if you aren’t a fan, then try yogurt in a flavor that you are a fan of. I love eating coconut flavored yogurt as a “substitute” for dessert because I it makes me feel like I’m dipping my spoon into a coconut cream pie! Depending on the brand you choose, there isn’t a lot of added sugar — I mean if there was then you might as well have just bought that coconut cream pie — so this ensures that you aren’t pushing yourself too far off the healthy eating wagon. I love having dessert a little early (say 10a.m.) by enjoying a cup of coconut flavored yogurt.

Fiber One brownies.

These brownies are great for dessert because they come in pre-portioned packets, so you don’t have to cut anything yourself. And yes,¬†I know that trick where you cut huge brownie slices so that one slice is basically the size of two brownies. Brownie crimes aside, these brownies come in reasonably sized portions and contain under 10g of sugar each. Plus, they’re brownies.¬†I know they aren’t the same as your world famous chocolate chunk fudge brownies, but on the bright side, at least you won’t have to do the dishes after these!

‘Original’ frozen yogurt from Red Mango.

You gotta love Red Mango’s awesome flavors of frozen yogurt. From Nutella to Birthday Cake, to Spicy Aztec Chocolate, you’re happy so long as your sweet tooth is happy. But the Original flavor can actually make your sweet tooth happier than you think (probably not your dentist though). I like getting a small sized cup of Original flavored frozen yogurt because it’s sweet and just a bit tart (great combo). This is a great substitute for ice cream, of course. I, admittedly, like adding toppings, so I usually add granola bits. Feel free to sprinkle on almonds, strawberry slices, cereal bits, or anything else you think would pair interestingly with this flavor.

Bananas!

You can never go wrong with bananas! Since I dorm in college and I don’t want to pay 95 cents for every piece of fruit I buy from the dining halls, here’s what I do: When I go grocery shopping every two weeks, I pick a bunch of bananas that I think are very green and unripened. This is so that I can have them in my room longer without them spoiling. Once they’re ripe I have a banana a day. I love ripening them to the point where there are quite a few brown speckles on the peel. I find that they’re really sweet at this point. And the best part is, it’s all natural sugar!¬†I usually peel a banana when I’m really craving a piece of chocolate or some other super sweet thing I know I shouldn’t have.

Frozen fruit bars.

Outshine is a great brand that produces these frozen fruit bars. They’re really good,¬†and the company claims to use real fruit. See, fruit can be dessert! Frozen fruit bars are a great alternative to ice cream bars. Outshine has so many flavors to choose from: creamy coconut; grape; lemon; lime; mango — you name it! The only thing just as fun as consuming the product will be picking your next flavor!

So the next time you really, really,¬†really¬†want to indulge in a nice, big slice of decadent chocolate cake or a king sized chocolate bar, spoil yourself with one of these yummy substitutes! How’d you like this #tastytuesday¬†post?

How do you skip dessert, but not really? 

How To Avoid Burning Yourself Out

Meetings, office projects, fundraisers…oh my! With the hustle and bustle of a busy lifestyle, it can be pretty easy to one day wake up with zero motivation and actually¬†feel tired of¬†the obligations you’re currently tied to. As an ambitious college sophomore, I am currently the Editor in Chief of my school’s branch of Odyssey,¬†I’m a contributing author at Her Campus Stony Brook, I occasionally write and submit articles to other platforms such as Thought Catalog, I’m an undergraduate college Fellow, a blogger seeking to grow her site into a business, a Camp Kesem marketing team member, oh and I’m also a full-time student. And for next semester I want to be an ambassador for this cool organization, an Associate Justice for my school’s undergraduate student government and I would absolutely¬†love¬†a part-time on campus job! Am I scaring you yet? Are you raising your eyebrow in surprise and shaking your head at the computer screen? It’s cool, it happens.¬†

We all just want to do what it takes to get where we want to be, or to enhance our skills and create more enriched versions of ourselves. So if you’re a natural born go-getter (like me!) you want to take on¬†as many responsibilities as you can, which is often a one-way ticket to burning yourself out! It can happen to anyone at any time, which really sucks because you know it’s not like you to feel that way but in the moment you feel helpless and like you just can’t do anything anymore. Sometimes these times are very short-lived and you’re back to kicking ass and handling your work like a pro. If you want to avoid falling into these black holes of lost energy and motivation, here are some things you can do.¬†

  1. Venture out of your comfort zone.¬†If you just can’t resist the opportunity to add more things to your to-do list (or to build up your to-do list) try adding activities that challenge you. Hear me out. Doing something you’ve never done before can be really refreshing, so you aren’t always stuck doing the same thing over and over again. This adds a little zest to your life and¬†provides you with a better opportunity to acquire new skills and credentials. Great for making those resumes look prettier!¬†
  2. Be a little selfish.¬†It’s okay to be selfish sometimes! Actually, putting yourself first is very healthy. You’re a human being first, not the night editor of a magazine, not the president of the student government, not even a student! So if you’re deciding between kickstarting your gym routine and planning fundraisers for your club, I implore you to not feel bad for choosing the first one. Yeah, that doesn’t mean you let your obligations go to shit while you enjoy yourself, but do make sure you’re squeezing in some you time here and there.¬†
  3. Surround yourself with people.¬†Sometimes, if¬†I feel myself slipping into a mood — you know, the one where you growl at everyone and everything that so much as breathes in your direction — even if I just really want to jump in bed and watch Grey’s Anatomy alone while I terrorize a family sized bag of Doritos, I tell myself that interacting with even just one person will make me feel better. And you know what? It does. It can be your roommate, your sibling, your parents, friends, a teacher or advisor you look up to; seeing the face of something other than your phone screen can really lift your spirits, so you won’t feel as crappy about whatever got you feeling crappy! This is important because sometimes, you burn yourself out as a result of feeling down from a combination of things. Stop those bad moods in their tracks!¬†
  4. Keep your calendar close.¬†Sorry to say this, but staying organized will help¬†keep you from that state of feeling like everything is eating at you. Knowing what your obligations are and when exactly you have to carry them out will keep you from feeling confused about your duties and prevent mix ups that you’d rather not have. But, hey, organization can be fun! Buy a planner with really cool print on the cover so you’ll always look at something pretty when you take it out of your bag. Color code your weekly schedule so you’re looking at a sea of colors instead of the land of all that is monochromatic. So if you haven’t yet been trained in the art of organization, now’s a good time to take up the discipline!¬†
  5. Do the little things that make you happy.¬†I know you just love finding out little tidbits about me so it’s confession time: I look forward to playing music while I brush my teeth in the morning. Every morning. Even if I’m really tired and just did not want to get out of that bed for anything, remembering that I can have a mini dance party in the bathroom always lifts my spirits. If you don’t have the time to allocate for doing something gigantically fun like going to Six Flags or hanging out in the city, you can definitely find the time to make everyday moments more enjoyable. Treating yourself to a milkshake with your lunch every Wednesday will give you a reason to look forward to Wednesdays, for example. There are honestly too many ways you can enjoy the little things in life.¬†
  6. Get enough sleep.¬†Yeah, yeah, yeah, easier said than done, right? Actually, it’s a little more achievable than you think it is. After what I just told you about my obligations, would you believe that I still get at least eight hours of sleep every single night? No? Well guess what, I do. I go to bed early (because I suck at doing work at night and I suck even more at staying up late) and I wake up early so I can get dressed and do work and tend to obligations. This works really well for me, so I’m never sleep deprived so I can stay as sharp as a tack (or my eyeliner wings) and put myself in a more desirable mental state to carry out my duties. If you cannot sleep early for the life of you, then make sure you’re at least waking up late — but not at the expense of class or something.¬†

Feeling more confident in your ability to handle life like a pro? I sure hope so! Just small adjustments can make the biggest differences! You’ll never be bored with your schedule, you’ll stay healthy and you’ll still have fun while doing it all!

How do you avoid burn outs? 

My Spring Break Beauty Wishlist

I look forward to any type of week-long (or longer) break from school because it gives me a chance to think about myself, which can be pretty hard to do when you’re juggling classes, exams, work, internship hunting and the drawn out process of getting your shit together. So when I’m being understandably selfish, I like to think about beauty products I have and ones that have really been on my mind. My Spring Break has officially started, and since I’m not going anywhere special, I’ll definitely make use of this time to explore new products. I know you’re just dying to see what super cool beauty products I’m dying to purchase, so without further ado this is my Spring Break beauty wishlist:

Too Faced Peanut Butter and Jelly Eyeshadow Palette Р$36 

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I think this palette is super cool! I love that the concept for this palette was inspired by something as simple as peanut butter and jelly. I love the bright purple jelly shade on the palette and even the warmer shade of purple. The browns for the peanut butter are super warm and remind me of an almost sun-kissed look. The great thing about this palette is that even if I don’t feel like strutting around campus with purple eyeshadow, I can always create a beachy glow using the browns. Seriously, I can actually feel the heat just staring at this palette! I think it’s pretty affordable at $36, especially considering it’s a limited edition palette.

Urban Decay Gwen Stefani Lipstick in ‘Firebird’ – $18

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I’ve always been in love with berry colored lipsticks. I think they go beautifully with my medium-tan skin, however it’s usually a hassle for me to find one that I’m head-over-heels for. Usually the ‘berry’ lip colors I get are either way too sheer to show up on my lips or they aren’t the shade I thought they’d be. After looking at endless swatches of this shade online, I finally decided that this will be my ultimate berry lip color. It’s creamy and rich and very affordable! I was actually considering taking a trip to Manhattan to the Bite Beauty Lab where you can get your own color consultation and have your very own unique shade of lipstick made right in front of you (whoa) but in my opinion, the lipstick is fairly expensive. At $45 for one lipstick, I definitely feel a little stingy about spending, so a cheaper alternative that can give me the look I want is the way I choose to go.

Coastal Scents Creative Me #1 Palette Р$14.95 

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I love super bright, fun, colorful eyeshadow looks! I definitely want to start experimenting with my eyeshadow more by trying out funky, electrifying looks and I think this palette will be the best way for me to do this. It’s relatively cheap for a non-drugstore palette with this many shades, and the color combinations are definitely interesting. As the weather warms up, eyeshadow that reminds you of a tropical island will definitely be super cool!

Coastal Scents Classic Stippling Small Р$4.95 

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I have pretty much always been in need of a stippling brush — I could just never ever find an appropriately priced one. Seriously, I have gone to numerous stores in search of an affordable stippling brush for when I apply my foundation, but could never find one so I’ve always had to settle for just the the flat brushes, which don’t get the job done as well. I prefer to stipple my foundation into my skin because I have a couple of scars from breakouts and the stippling motion almost ‘fills’ them in, in comparison to a rubbing or blending motion. But I think this will be the brush for me! I have never seen Coastal Scents being sold at any stores, so I suppose I’ll have to order it online. But if anyone knows of a place in New York (the city part, not the upstate part) where I could purchase Coastal Scents products, do let me know!

African Black Soap Р$12.95 

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My family is Caribbean, so I’m already fully aware of the wonders of natural beauty products. We know of so many natural remedies and soaps and scrubs from Caribbean islands and African cultures, so this really isn’t the first time I’m hearing about African Black Soap. I actually am currently using an African Black Soap facial wash and mask from a brand called Shea Moisture. But what draws me to this specific product is the fact that it very clearly contains the ingredients in a more pure form. There are no added acids, fragrances, or anything like that, which could take away from effectiveness of the product. I am definitely very acne prone and would love to try a more natural product. This product is also from Coastal Scents.

What products are on your Spring beauty wishlist? 

5 Simple (And Healthier) Food Swaps You Need To Make Right Now

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a major health maniac, but I am conscious of what I put in my body. In recent years, anyone looking to change up their diet has stumbled across articles around the idea that foods we thought were as healthy as they come actually aren’t. Yeah, well, who has the time and money to dump their entire pantry in favor of these “new” foods? Certainly not a college student who has never had a paying job!

If you’re like me and don’t want to re-vamp your¬†entire¬†diet, here are some simple food swaps I have made over the last few months that actually have made a difference in the quality of my life and diet.

  1. Have spinach instead of lettuce in salads.¬†It’s not much of a secret that dark, leafy greens are better for you than their lighter colored, but still pretty and nutritious cousins. One time, I went to see my college nutritionist and she suggested romaine lettuce over iceberg lettuce. This is because iceberg is full of water and therefore not as nutrient-rich as romaine lettuce. This being said, imagine how nutrient-rich spinach is! Spinach doesn’t have any sort of weird taste or flavor, so you probably wouldn’t even notice it. Sure, it’s not as crisp as lettuce, but that’s OK! I even have green smoothies that contain pineapple, mint, water and spinach!¬†
  2. Instead of frappuccinos from Starbucks, have the refreshers.¬†I love a double chocolate chip frappe as much as the next guy or gal, but I probably don’t have to tell you how much sugar is in those (but for the record, most frappuccinos have around 54g of sugar in them, a.k.a. more than twice the daily allowance). I haven’t had a frappuccino for a few months now. Instead, I buy strawberry refreshers or the peach green tea lemonade, which each contain¬†under 15g of sugar. They’re both very refreshing and extremely satisfying. They’re great post-workout treats and you don’t even have to feel guilty for having them if you’re on a diet! I also love how the strawberry refreshers have pieces of strawberry floating around! #aesthetic. I¬†wrote an entire blog post on how to be healthy at Starbucks, so be sure to check that out if you just can’t get enough of the coffee superstar!¬†¬†
  3. Trade chocolate bars for bananas and grapes.¬†OK, I’m not shy about admitting that I had a chocolate problem some time ago. OK, like four weeks ago. Anyway, stay away from the chocolate — it’s all unnecessary sugar that can contribute to sugar highs that end in you crashing, and a sick feeling in the bottom of your tummy. Yikes! If you’ve got the munchies and just need to chew on something, try bananas and grapes. They have been my rescue foods as of late and they provide essential and nutritious sugars for your body. Fruit are a healthy take on mindless snacking, so you don’t wake up feeling guilty as hell in the morning after a snackful Grey’s Anatomy binge.¬†
  4. Insert whole grains anywhere you can.¬†Instead of a regular sandwich wrap, ask for whole wheat. Replace an everything bagel or even a plain bagel with a whole wheat bagel (I promise they taste really good, too!) Whole grains are full of fiber, which makes you poop! Well, you already knew that, but I still wanted to say it for the sake of not giving a shit (pun may or may not be intended) because it’s my blog! Anyway, as we all know, pooping is one of the easiest ways our body gets rid of toxins — toxins that certainly won’t contribute to a better lifestyle! Whole grains are full of fiber, and likewise, there are some snack foods and cereals now that contain a healthy dose of fiber. Beware though: sometimes companies make an unfortunate trade off. They pack all this good fiber into a food, but then there are crazy amounts of sugar, too! If you will get your fiber from sources like cereal and granola bars, be wary of this!¬†
  5. Go for grilled chicken instead of breaded.¬†Breaded chicken comes with some unnecessary baggage, like extra skin and fat. Grilled chicken tastes great in wraps, sandwiches and salads! Sure, that fried chicken is so crispy and juicy, but unfortunately frequent eating of it won’t positively impact anything — except fried chicken cravings! If you’re a college student and are finding it particularly difficult to make healthy swaps like this one, you can check out my Tips For Healthy Living that I wrote for Her Campus!¬†

Of course, enjoying the not-so-good-for-you foods sparingly is completely fine. What kind of less-than-amateur nutrition expert would I be if I didn’t tell you that, anyway? Will I still have chocolate once in a while? Absolutely — I had a chocolate brownie from Starbucks just yesterday while typing the first half of this post! But, of course, once you make these changes and stick to them, they become second nature. I kid you not, last week I went to buy my usual salad (spinach, turkey pieces, cheddar cheese, croutons, caesar dressing) from the campus dining hall and they didn’t have spinach, but I really wanted a salad so I got lettuce instead and, let me tell you, the lettuce just tasted gross to me. I wasn’t really satisfied with my salad, but that’s what you get for swapping the two! Hope you enjoyed this Tasty Tuesday post!

What swaps do you make for a healthier lifestyle? 

The Confused College Student’s Guide to Good Note-taking (Part 2)

So now you know which method of note-taking will survive the abyss that is your lecture hall of knowledge. Congratulations. But if you’re not yet sure how to select the fittest method of in-class note-taking for each of your classes, be sure to check out my previous post. As I was saying, so now you know that annotating lecture slides is your go-to note-taking method for that chemistry class, or typing your notes on your laptop is the best way to keep up during a history lecture. Now we have to take things one step further to ensure that you’re grabbing all the important info (a.k.a. stuff that will be on your exams) you need.

You rarely (if at all) get anywhere in life by cutting corners — looking for the easy way out, trying to skip the hard stuff. But when taking notes in class, sometimes you might want to trim the fat off of some edges. I’m pretty much talking about finding ways to make your note-taking easier, which includes learning how to write quickly and efficiently to ensure that you record only what’s important — that unnecessary fat can really weigh you down! So here’s how you can ensure you’re only writing down the necessary information:

Throw capitalization to the wind.¬†You know how it’s just the law of basic grammar to capitalize the names of people, important places, states, etc.? Sometimes when I’m typing my notes I do this instinctively, but sometimes my fingers fumble on the keys when trying to hold the shift key and press a letter. This may sound stupid to you but it does happen and it does waste some time. Your notes are only for you — you aren’t submitting them for an essay contest! You don’t need to get caught up¬†with capitalizing names of people, cities and the like.¬†

What comma?¬†Punctuation marks such as commas and semi colons are¬†not crucial when it comes to note-taking. You’ll still understand your sentence without a semi colon, so doing away with this kind of punctuation doesn’t take anything away from your lecture notes.¬†

Use ur abbreviations! Put your texting skills to good use in the classroom! Okay, actually, some people write out full sentences when they text, contrary to what many think, but that’s a story for another time.¬†You’ve probably heard this ad nauseum at any school you’ve ever been to, but truthfully, abbreviating really does save you a lot of time when writing. Sometimes I instinctively write out full words when I could have used an abbreviation that would save me less time so I could focus on writing down other important points.¬†

Arrows are more than adorable boho print.¬†I like incorporating simple arrows (like this one –>) into my notes to show cause and effect relationships. It’s way easier than writing, “and this lead to the downfall of…”¬†#timesaver.¬†

Focus on points that demonstrate change.¬†Demonstrating change over time, especially if you’re in a history class or other liberal arts class, is very important for exams and essays. I have a Professor who likes to give a lot of biographical information, which is cool and all (I totally want to know where George Washington got the majority of his teeth from) but I’m not going to write an essay about that! Looking for points that demonstrate change is a good filter to use when trying to figure out what to write down.¬†

List equations in the margin.¬†If you’re in a math class or chemistry class or some other class I find horrid (because I hate math) then you’ll be working with a ton of equations. Making a list in the margin of your paper specifically for equations will help you single them all out so you don’t have to keep writing them down every time the professor presents a problem with them. This saves time like you will not believe!¬†

These few points are rather simple, but super useful! They’re great ways to effectively cut corners without taking away from your learning experience, and I’ve definitely found them to be extremely useful! Do you have any other methods for ‘trimming the fat’ from your lecture notes? Let me know in the comments!

 

The Confused College Student’s Guide To Good Note-taking

Note-taking is essentially a¬†hated part of college life. So would you believe that many college students – freshmen, sophomores, juniors, even some¬†seniors¬†– still have no clue how to take down proper notes for classes? In my last four semesters of college, I have practiced and witnessed many different methods of note-taking, because I’ve had many different professors with many different styles of lecturing. What’s more is that not¬†every single one¬†of my classes has been a large lecture hall with 500 students, so that contributes even more to my professor’s style of lecturing, and thus my method of note-taking.

Really, it’s kind of like a ‘survival of the fittest’ sort of thing – only the better adapted methods will survive (and help¬†you¬†survive!)¬†I’ll walk you through the methods I hail as ‘the best’ for taking good notes, because I believe in helping out my fellow college-goers. You can totally thank me by telling everyone you know about my blog! (Just kidding…but not really).

For the lecture hall with 300+ people: 

This was one of the first classes I experienced when I first started college. It was a general chemistry class and the lecture hall was huge, though admittedly not the largest lecture hall I would have a class in. It may be easy enough to succumb to our beloved high school habits by whipping out the looseleaf and pencil (which is exactly what my first instinct told me to do) but here’s why this might not be the most efficient way to take notes:

  • The professor will likely move very quickly.¬†He or she has, like, 50 powerpoint slides of material to teach to¬†hundreds¬†of students in one sitting, and usually within about an hour to an hour and a half. So don’t be surprised if your professor doesn’t do you the courtesy of spending even close to five minutes on every slide.
  • Your handwriting may become a little…unrecognizable as handwriting.¬†At some point during the scramble to write down every single thing written on the slides, your notes might actually start to look like a bunch of squiggly lines on a piece of paper. Unless you are fluent in the reading and writing of the squiggly language, this won’t be very helpful during your¬†cram¬†study session.
  • You might lose stray pieces of paper.¬†Sometimes even the most organized people have a bit of trouble keeping their heads on their shoulders, and things might get misplaced. Wouldn’t it suck to have an entire page of biochemistry notes go missing right before a midterm?

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Solution:

  • Type your notes on a laptop.¬†Most people can type faster than they can write, so the fact that your professor spends exactly two minutes per lecture slide won’t be as big of a deal, and you won’t have to break as much of a sweat to get important details down. Plus, there are no stray pieces of looseleaf paper that can get lost, and you will always be able to understand the font you use in Pages or Microsoft Word.
  • Pro Laptop Tip: Type your notes in Google Drive.¬†This semester, I realized that typing my notes in Google Drive is easier than typing them in Pages or Microsoft Word. You will have your Google Drive documents anywhere there’s a computer, and everything you do in Drive saves automatically, so you don’t have to worry about losing 11 pages of unsaved notes because your laptop shut down mid-sentence. Plus, some universities give you an unlimited amount of free storage space. I also found that using Google Drive to take my notes allowed me to keep everything really organized because I can see all my folders laid out right in front of me.

For the professor whose lecture slides are mostly images and diagrams: 

You have to pay particular attention to these classes. The lecture slides may only have images of people or objects or whatever, but the professor may be saying a mouthful while on that one slide. Don’t let the simplicity of the powerpoint fool you! These kinds of classes don’t really allow you to skip on taking notes and just look at the slides on the class webpage later – you won’t know what the hell the pictures mean later! I actually have a professor like this right now, and I prefer to actually¬†know¬†what his lecture slides mean at the end of the day. I mean, don’t expect to study¬†a picture of Samuel Adams’s face and know all about his role in America’s journalistic history. Still not picking up what I’m putting down? Here’s how this kind of class can really screw you over:

  • You have nothing concrete to study.¬†You literally¬†cannot¬†rely on images and charts to do well on your exams for this class. Your professor probably wants you to¬†think¬†that you can but, believe me, it’s not going to happen. You still need to take notes for this class because, like I said, when you go to your class webpage later because your professor considerately posts the useless image-heavy lecture slides, you’ll have extremely little to no¬†recollection of what was even discussed in class.
  • This style of lecturing requires you to have a sharp ear.¬†I suck at auditory learning. Even if I’m trying to pay really keen attention to what I hear, I still won’t be able to retain as much information as an auditory learner can. If there’s very little to no text on the lecture slide, you can bet your Starbucks iced vanilla latte that pretty much all of the crucial points are coming from the professor’s mouth.
  • The images should be¬†supplements for what you write down.¬†I’m somewhat of a visual learner myself – somewhat – but even so, I still only like to use images as supplements for written notes. I will definitely draw accompanying diagrams because I know they will help me better understand the material, so you can’t completely discount images in lecture notes. So if you can’t discount them and you can’t rely solely on them, what the hell do you do!?

Solution:

  • Print out and annotate your lecture notes.¬†This is my favorite method of note-taking for¬†any¬†class! If your professor posts lecture slides before class, printing them out beforehand and annotating on the sides is an efficient way for you to focus on what the professor is saying (the important stuff) rather than getting caught in the crossfire of diagrams, talking and all that confusing nonsense. Plus, your attention can only be divided in so many ways. With this method you can focus on the professor speaking and still be able to refer back to the images later on!

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For the¬†class that’s basically like high school:¬†

This is the class where the professor handwrites everything on a chalkboard and you sit there and either type it all on your laptop or jot it down in your notebook. I call this the ‘like high school’ class because these classes – even if you go to a college with 20,000+ students like I do – are usually smaller with about 30 or so students in them – just like the good old high school days! I’ve had a few of these classes now and in the past. My Italian class from freshman year was like this and the law class I’m currently taking is like this, too. Many college math classes are like this, though some may have that large lecture hall component.

Even so, you can’t really go wrong if the professor lectures like this because now you have the ability to match the professor’s writing speed rather than lagging behind and cursing under your breath. You can’t really go wrong with this kind of class. The only caveat I have to offer is…don’t get used to this.¬†Not all of your classes are or will be so forgiving when it comes to note-taking!

Hopefully I have brought you a little closer to note-taking success. Remember that this is only part one of my¬†Confused College Student’s¬†note-taking series! Stay tuned for part two, and let me know in the comments what kind of college lectures you’re taking and how you take notes for those classes!

 

 

 

 

5 Bad Habits I Got Into This Semester

Ugh.¬†Bad habits – they’re so easy to start, but so difficult to break. Nobody’s perfect, and I’ve definitely had my share of crappy habits this early in the spring semester. The good news is that I caught them pretty early, so I have the rest of the semester to fix myself up a bit. You might find that you got yourself into these habits too, or maybe you’ve had these habits for a while and are looking to break them.¬†Don’t worry, I have your back (so I’m basically the human version of a Golden Retriever). I also have some tips on how to break these bad habits! So without putting you in too much suspense (this isn’t¬†Pretty Little Liars) here are the bad habits I managed to get myself into this semester:

Leaving a mountain of clothes anywhere I feel like.¬†We’ve all been there before: after a long day, we just want to come home, take off the clothing that bore the blood, sweat and tears of the day, get comfy and go to sleep. I return to my dorm pretty late at night on most days – even the days when I don’t have my 10pm class, so after running around, attending meetings, interviewing people and being a student, I succumb to laziness and just throw my clothes on the chair at my desk. So basically, I have zero regard for what can still be re-worn that week and what needs to be tossed in the laundry bag. I have been making comments all week about how much clothing is taking up space on my chair. What’s worse is when I need to actually¬†use¬†the chair (as more than just a place to put clothes) I just grab the gigantic pile and dump it on my bed instead. This, without a doubt, contributes to the clutter in your room and, I don’t know about you but this drives me¬†insane¬†(though, clearly not insane enough that I address is as it happens). I have officially gotten tired of not being able to find clothes when I need it, and just having a cotton mountain be the first thing I see when I open the door.

Solution: Putting a shirt on a hanger, it turns out, isn’t super difficult at all. Even if you don’t have time to completely ‘re-organize’ your closet at night, just folding up whatever you take off and creating a¬†neat¬†pile somewhere other than your bed is helpful. Also, I will start putting dirty clothes to wash as I take them off because throwing a shirt in a laundry bag isn’t that hard either.

Not washing my face at night.¬†You’re probably thinking that this is so gross and wishing that I didn’t just share this with you, but I pride myself on being 100 percent transparent with you. =) So yes, I’m not proud of not washing my face at night (I assure you I wash it in the morning, though) but I’m addressing it as a bad habit. This stems from the same idea in my previous point: laziness as the result of exhaustion. At night, I sometimes feel so sleepy that I don’t want to wash my face or do anything that could potentially alleviate my tiredness other than sleep. So I pretty much just wipe off my makeup with makeup remover wipes, sometimes pat some toner onto my face and go to bed. That’s it. Clearly I have no shits to give when I’m tired as hell. I certainly wished I had stopped being so lazy months ago, because my quest to improve my skin has definitely faltered because of that. That should be motivating me to take care of my face day and night, but instead, I temporarily saw it as an ‘unnecessary’ process. Bad idea!

Solution: If, for whatever reason, you adopted this bad habit like I did, here’s a super simple solution: instead of washing your face right before you’re ready to go to bed, wash your face about an hour and a half before your intended bedtime. Often times, washing your face wakes you right up and you may not be able to fall asleep after doing this. Having a clean face means that you can guiltlessly fall asleep anytime while surfing Instagram or Yik Yak!

Eating chocolate literally every other night.¬†There was a point in time not very long ago (literally last week) when I’d eat chocolate or any chocolate-related edible more or less every other night. Sometimes, I just had a long day and wanted to treat myself – because I am a firm believer in treating yo’self – other times, I just thought of that Kit-Kat bar as dessert after dinner of a vegetarian rice bowl. I also had fun with mixing things up a bit; on Monday, I might have a Kit-Kat bar; if Wednesday was particularly crappy, I bought a generous slice of chocolate mousse cake from my school’s mini bakery; and on a Thursday afternoon I might feel particularly adventurous and hit up the Red Mango on campus for spicy Aztec chocolate flavored froyo. I don’t need to be a nutritionist to know that consumption of this much chocolate is definitely¬†not¬†doing¬†me any favors in the long run; it certainly gave me a sense of instant gratification, but honestly, that’s probably the worst type of gratification. I do not deny that chocolate is incredibly delicious in every way, shape and form, but moderation is definitely key.

Solution:¬†I am actually doing very well with a little experiment I created for myself. It’s a bit of a surprise that I’ll be posting about in a few weeks, so you’ll know all the details of this in a few short weeks! In the meantime, I still have a solution! If you’re as tempted by everything that is good and chocolatey like I am, start by cleaning your kitchen, pantry, or room of everything that contains chocolate (no, not by¬†eating¬†it all!) Give¬†them¬†to your roommate, your siblings, or even just keep them hidden from sight. Next, find healthy substitutes for the Snickers bar you like so much. I began using grapes as a substitute for when I have chocolate as a snack. If you love having a scrumptious chocolate-glazed donut for breakfast with your coffee, try substituting the chocolate donut with maybe a plain old-fashioned donut (which contains less sugar) or even something completely different like my new favorite, the spinach foldover from Starbucks!

Convincing myself that curly fries go with everything.¬†I fell into the habit of eating curly fries with almost everything – grilled cheese sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs – you name it, I will put curly fries on it (yes, even ice cream because why not). Curly fries are like the next best pick-me-up in my opinion (after my beloved chocolate) but they are rather greasy and not something that should be consumed every single night – especially not if you’re trying to get toned abs and arms! Yet, I am super guilty of opening my life up to curly fries. For others, it may not be curly fries specifically – you might have this habit with pizza or take out, or some other unforgiving food item.

Solution:¬†Try to challenge yourself to try a new food item everyday. This is especially cool if you live on a campus with many different dining halls or if you live in an area with a bunch of shops or food stores. If you usually cook and don’t eat out, challenge yourself to try a new recipe every few days. Mixing it up can ensure that you don’t form any new bad habits with other foods that aren’t necessarily good for you. This will broaden your palette and encourage you to be a little adventurous with your tastebuds!

Leaving my dirty dishes there to rot for, like, a week.¬†Okay, I have a busy schedule, so sometimes when I cook for myself in the kitchen, I’ll leave my dirty dishes just sitting in my room for more than just a few days – forks, spoons and all. There are very obvious reasons why you should never do this, including the fact that anyone who comes into your room may be slightly appalled by this. Sometimes, it’s not a time thing, though – I just don’t¬†feel¬†like doing the dishes at that time.

Solution:¬†I know this resonates with most college students who dorm and like to cook in the kitchen, so – from one college kid to another – I have a solution for us all! If you don’t do your dishes because you don’t feel like it, try making scrubbing the crumbs off your plate a little more enjoyable by playing some music while you do your tasks. Music definitely makes everything more fun, and you can always look forward to getting in your daily jam sesh in the company of syrup-covered plates and crumb-speckled bowls. Another way to liven things up a bit is by doing the dishes with friends or roommates. This is an…interesting…way for you to spend quality time with your friends or get to know new roommates. If your issue is that you don’t have time to clean the dishes after dirtying them up, then try allocating time in your schedule specifically for cleaning up after yourself. Yes, your dirt is important too! Setting as part of your schedule gives you more of an obligation to the task, and we all know that scheduling things is basically like setting it in stone, so you pretty much¬†have¬†to do it. Keep in mind that this bad habit may not necessarily be washing the dishes specifically for you; it may be vacuuming your house/apartment, cleaning up your room, etc., but the ideas behind the solutions are the same.

Hopefully reading this blog post didn’t keep you back from anything like, say, doing the dishes! But if they did, at least you procrastinated productively while learning a little bit about what my life has been like for a few weeks (don’t you just love learning new things about people?) Tell me something about yourself –

What bad habits did you get into and how will you fix them? 

 

 

Tasty Tuesday: Nutella Pancakes

So for Galentine’s Day, my roommate and I decided to make some brunch. We were thinking scrambled eggs and Nutella pancakes (because everything is better with Nutella). I’ll let you in on a little secret about myself: I don’t like pancakes. Syrup is even worse, in my opinion. Yeah, yeah, yeah; how anyone could hate what was basically childhood on a Saturday morning is blasphemous, right? My friends have been giving me the whole lecture for the last, like, decade.

So what propelled me to make pancakes if I don’t even like them? Like I said, Nutella is a powerful substance. So, this was super simple to do – even in a college dorm! I say this because, if you’ve ever tried baking or cooking any edible thing in a college dorm (with a communal kitchen in the basement), you know that it’s not always the¬†easiest¬†thing to do. If there are a ton of people congregated in the kitchen, finding space is difficult. Plus, where in your dorm room do you have the space to store all of your ingredients? You certainly can’t make a five-star meal out of a college dorm room, but pancakes of any kind are more than doable!

To make these lovely Nutella pancakes, all I needed were three ingredients: 

  • Pancake mix of your choosing
  • Nutella
  • Water

Yup, that was all! I forgot what brand of pancake mix we used, but I was surprised to hear that the beautiful buttermilk pancake mix only required water. I was honestly expecting eggs or milk or something, but, nope – just water. My roommate isn’t here right now for me to ask her what brand she picked up but I’ll ask her later and post an update.

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In any case, neither of us had made pancakes in a¬†very¬†long time – like not for¬†decades.¬†So the pancakes were a little…un-pancake-like at first, but no worries, we fixed them! I mixed all three ingredients together, but added extra water because it was difficult to spread the mix around the pan for a more circular shape.

The pancakes smelled and tasted great, and, because I hate syrup with a passion, I drizzled the tops of my pancakes with even more Nutella!

These pancakes are super easy to make and so impressive for breakfast! Like I said, they require so little that you don’t need a chef’s kitchen to make them. They don’t even need to be Nutella, they can be chocolate chip, blueberry, red velvet – the choices are endless!

What’s¬†kind of pancakes do¬†you¬†like?¬†

Tasty Tuesday: My Homemade Red Velvet Cupcakes For Valentine’s Day

Fun fact: I used to have a baking blog. That’s right, about two years ago, I had an adorable little blog full of all the treats and goodies that I’ve baked over the years (from scratch!) You can take a look at that old blog of mine here if you’re curious. Anyway, I’ll be incorporating some of my baking skills into this blog at any chance I can get, so you’ll definitely see some cool treats floating around here once in a while! To do this, I’m starting a new beat called Tasty Tuesday, where I showcase food/dessert that I either made myself or think is really worth talking about!

This Tasty Tuesday, I’m all about my homemade red velvet cupcakes. Red velvet is definitely a classic that I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of – and if you know¬†anything¬†at all about me, you’d know that I hate sticking to classics and love changing it up and keeping things fresh (and just a little bit weird!) But these cupcakes are definitely a crowd-pleaser, plus Valentine’s Day is coming up and I wanted to do something remotely festive.

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People have always asked me how I make my red velvet cupcakes and cakes. In truth, there are many variations on the classic red velvet cake recipe – some versions even use beet juice! Here’s my very own recipe that works for me:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 stick of margarine (softened)
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 3/4 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup of buttermilk
  • ALOT of red food coloring!

Instructions: 

Step 1:¬†Dump your softened margarine into a bowl along with your sugar and begin creaming the two together. I creamed them by hand, which takes just a tad bit of arm strength (and dedication) but you can use an electric mixer if you don’t plan on living in the kitchen for the night.¬†

Step 2:¬†Add your eggs and vanilla once you’ve creamed the butter and sugar. I also added a crap ton of red food coloring (3-4 tablespoons) at this point and I just hand mixed every part of this recipe because I clearly love wasting time.¬†

Step 3:¬†In a separate bowl, combine your flour, baking powder and unsweetened cocoa powder. I used the Hershey’s brand cocoa powder in this recipe, but you can use whatever brand you love (I’m not the cocoa powder dictator!)¬†

Step 4:¬†This my favorite part because we’re going to bring it all together! Sift your dry¬†mixture into your wet mixture and start incorporating everything gently. You might notice that the batter becomes difficult to mix. We’re not making bread, so add your milk for a smoother and more liquid consistency.¬†

Step 5:¬†Have a cupcake baking pan ready to go with cupcake liners¬†and begin spooning your batter into the cups. Oh – you’re going to want to heat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit for this (this recipe works best if you use a heated oven). Bake the cupcakes for about 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with very little to no crumbs.¬†

That’s it! No beet juice, no red hair dye and no blood. These cupcakes are perfect for bae, great for your parents (my mom loved them) and awesome for your palentine! On a side note, yes, I just said ‘palentine’, you can read all about that in my latest article for Odyssey.

So I decorated my cupcakes with homemade cream cheese frosting and tinted some of that frosting pink. I just used an angled spatula to apply a generous amount of frosting over the tops of the cupcakes (nothing too fancy, this time) and with a small piping tip, I piped some words like ‘love’ and ‘pizza’ – which should always be together in the same sentence!

I hope you liked this week’s Tasty Tuesday!¬†Do¬†you like Tasty Tuesday? Comments? Suggestions? Let me know in the comments!

What are you having on #TastyTuesday? 

 

 

10 Lessons I Learned Two Weeks Into The Spring Semester

This weekend concluded my first two weeks back for the spring semester of college, and let me tell you, I’ve already learned quite a lot and¬†not¬†just from my lectures! I’m always writing about lessons you can learn from your experiences, as you might have read in my post about things I learned during the fall semester. I wasn’t really expecting to do a pot on lessons learned¬†this¬†early in the semester, but a few things worth mentioning definitely came up – for good or bad!

  1. There is no shame in dropping a class.¬†There’s this one class in particular that I’m currently enrolled in that I thought would be a cool elective for my minor, but it turns out that, due to the set up of the class and the teaching style of the professor, getting a good grade will be extremely difficult for me – even if i strain every brain cell I have to my name. I really should have dropped the class before the deadline because dropping a class after the deadline has passed would result in a ‘W’ on your transcript. Now I’m left with a miserable class for the rest of the semester that I need to somehow find a way to pull things together in. I mean, I could have walked without any collateral damage since there was no required textbook for the class and I’ve only dedicated my time to a couple of lectures. But I guess it was either my stupidity or my personal pigheadedness talking, convincing me to power through it. FYI, there are¬†very¬†few times when you¬†shouldn’t¬†listen to your gut telling you to ‘power through’ something and¬†this¬†is one of those times!¬†
  2. ‘Only’ taking 12 credits isn’t such a bad idea.¬†If I had dropped the previously mentioned class I would have been taking a total of 12 credits this semester – just enough to be a full-time student. I admit that this is where my pride got the best of me (and totally kicked my ass, too). I guess there was just something about settling for the minimum that I’ve never liked (if you haven’t already guessed, I grew up as that irritating little overachiever). But if taking 12 credits meant that I wouldn’t be swamped with work and filling every minute of my schedule with a new task or meeting¬†then I should have just swallowed my pride. And to think that I had wanted to take 22 credits, keep my job as an editor, plan a TED Talk, stay on the emergency response team¬†and¬†keep writing for a magazine!¬†
  3. Don’t be so quick to buy or rent a textbook.¬†Last semester,¬†I began the wonderful act of renting my textbooks instead of buying them, because who doesn’t love saving money? This semester, I kind of went all rent-crazy and automatically sought after cheap rents…until my friend – who is in like half of my classes – told me that he just borrowed the required textbooks from our school library – free of charge. You can’t even begin to imagine how many times I kicked myself for not thinking of that! Even though I was able to rent my textbooks for relatively cheap, I still spent a total of 100 dollars for all of my classes when I could have spent extremely little to nothing if I had attempted to borrow the books from the library. Well, now I know the importance of being more frugal and a¬†little¬†stingier with my money!¬†
  4. Actually, don’t be so quick to obtain textbooks in any way.¬†For this one journalism class, I rented, not one but¬†two, textbooks only to find that even though they were ‘required’ texts, we didn’t need to have them because the professor doesn’t plan on using them much at all. I heard this with my own ears. The professor actually encouraged us to refer to the¬†PDF version of the online textbook¬†(which is free) for times when she will actually use the text. That’s another reason why I’m learning to not jump the gun when it comes to textbook gathering. It may be a bit of work but I think hunting for PDFs and borrowed texts will be much easier on your wallet!¬†
  5. Your closet should contain at least one fancy party dress.¬†A few days ago, I got a Facebook invite to this on-campus Masquerade Ball and I was pretty excited to go. The only thing I had that was even remotely close to how you should dress for a black tie kind of event was a short, fitted black dress with white polka dots. I paired this with tan boots and a red handbag and headed to the dance with my friends. It didn’t take long for me to feel like my wardrobe choice wasn’t my best call that night, but it was what I had. You’re probably wondering, ‘what girl doesn’t even have an LBD in her closet?’ Well, now I know the importance of a nice LBD, and I will certainly begin my search for one ASAP. College events that require formal dress don’t happen often, but they aren’t nonexistent.¬†
  6. Stay a million miles away from sick people.¬†I am literally coughing and sneezing my brains out as I type this. My cold medicine has been my BFF for the last few days and I’ve given up on homework assignments and readings because I literally (and I absolutely mean this)¬†cannot.¬†Stay the hell away from people who don’t have the decency to cover their coughs when in close proximity to other individuals. Yeah, I know that getting sick is a natural thing and it happens to everyone, but if someone clearly doesn’t make even the slightest move to protect others from catching whatever they have, then you better make damn sure that you protect¬†yourself¬†from whatever they have. I just experienced firsthand how much of a struggle it is when you have 450 pages of text to read, articles to write and edit and a quiz to study for while you have snot dripping down your chin and your lungs in your throat. Life is much easier if you can avoid the common cold.¬†
  7. Submitting crappy work will make your life harder.¬†So for that class I mentioned before, I had a lab assignment due this weekend and I really tried to use the resources to the best of my ability. I even sought extra help and resources but to no great avail. Even though I knew parts of my assignment were done crappily, I had a headache and my cold just wasn’t cooperating with me, so I submitted the lab the way it was. Not too long ago, I received a message from my professor telling me that I should resubmit the assignment. Yep, I deserved that. I had felt as though I had no choice because I was in terrible shape and was pressed for time, but even coming back to the assignment later when I’d (hopefully) feel better would have been a better option. Haste makes waste, so do things right the first time around and you won’t have to bear the consequences.¬†
  8. Even when you can sleep in, don’t.¬†Sleep is such a wonderful, precious thing, but it can really eat up your time! On some days, I start class in the afternoon and I always make a list of everything I’m going to do before the start of my class, but I take my dear sweet time to wake up and get dressed in the morning, which always throws my schedule off. In the end I always angrily roll my eyes as I storm out of the room to start my day because I know that I should have been out the door at least an hour ago. If you got your eight hours for the night, it’s high time you get out of bed and tackle the day. Believe me, I always fall victim to a nice, toasty bed in the dead of winter, but when you have things to do, you want as few delays as possible.¬†
  9. Laziness is no excuse to stop taking care of yourself.¬†This is going to sound really bad, and I definitely do know better, but sometimes I’m too lazy to go through my entire facial care routine before going to bed so I just take off my makeup and hit the hay. That’s it. Without a doubt, this has delayed my skin’s progress and never fails to make my face feel crappy every time I put my cheek to my pillow. There is absolutely no excuse for not taking care of yourself, at least no valid excuse.¬†
  10. You don’t have to be top dog in every little thing on campus.¬†I like to be part of every little thing because I enjoy getting involved and meeting new people and making friends. I feel like I have a lot I can¬†contribute to whatever organization I lay my creative little hands on, so naturally I’m a go-getter. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that I seeking to conquer basically everything on campus is a good idea! Being careful of biting off more than you can chew is something I’ve always warned others of and have always tried to warn myself of. For the most part, the responsibilities I held last semester just carried over into this semester, so things were already set for me. I really only took on one new task (planning the TED Talk) and everything else (aside from my schedule) stayed the same for me. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t half-dying with everything right now. Knowing when to step back and be content with what’s already on your plate can really conserve your energy (and sanity). There’s nothing wrong with not wanting added stress!¬†

You can probably say that these are lessons well-learned, because I certainly won’t be making the same mistakes twice! I’m currently working on ways I can combat whatever mishaps I can because doing nothing is way worse than trying and failing. Please let me know what you think and also what your new semester experiences have been like by leaving a comment below! ¬†