Yesterday, April 23rd, marked the day that I have been alive for 20 years. Two decades of growing, learning, and experiencing life. It's been slightly difficult coming to terms with the fact that I am well on my way to adulthood, but I am making do. In the meantime, I am reflecting on what I've learned these past 20 years. I'd like to share them with you.
1. It's okay to not fit in with the crowd. Acting like everybody else may seem like the most important way to be at certain points in your life, but it will get you nowhere. I've found that I was extra successful and enjoyed my life much more when I realized that the best way to live is through individuality.
2. Don't apologize so much. Every time someone bumps into me or I show up early to an event, I apologize. But it's not my fault. Apologize for the things that really matter, like hurting someone's feelings or lashing out.
3. Fight for what's right. Don't sit back and let others do the talking. If you believe strongly in an issue, stand up for it. Odds are, the issue needs to be talked about.
4. It's okay to spend time alone. It's actually gratifying. It gives you time to yourself, whether you need to clear your head or just get away from socializing. Plus, it gives you a sense of independence and maturity that you won't find in a group setting.
5. Call your family. It's usually nice to hear the voice of a loved one - whether it's mom, dad, sister, brother, cousin, aunt - whatever. Ask them how their day was. Let them know that you're here for them, and they will do the same.
6. Don't let others push you around. I was once told that I was a pushover, and, after going home and googling it, it has since completely changed my approach. While it's nice to say yes to things, you can't allow people to walk all over you. Stand up for yourself.
7. Hard work usually pays off. I am not always the most motivated person, but I've noticed a pretty strong positive correlation between the times I work my butt off and my success rate. If you want something, it's up to you to go get it. Believe in yourself.
8. It's okay to have an off day. Sometimes procrastinating for a couple hours with a TV show, movie, or silly internet video can stop you from having a mental breakdown. This may seem to directly contradict #7, but it's really about a happy medium between working hard and hardly working.
9. Feeling healthy is important, but it's equally as important to eat some chocolate every once in a while (or every week). I try to play the 70-30 (ahem, 60-40) game with eating: go healthy most of the time, indulge myself with the leftover time. If I don't allow myself to have a slice of cake (or two) or a handful of Doritos (or the whole bag), I will be ridiculously unhappy. And that's just not fair.
10. You usually find something you're looking for when you're not actually looking. I walked into college freshman year thinking it would be overwhelming to date, but I ended up finding the greatest relationship. It happens in small doses, too, like looking for a prom dress or a good restaurant to eat at. Just remove the pressure, and things will work naturally.
11. Materialism is only negative when it's excessive and you lose sight of what's really important. Obviously, I run a beauty blog. Even more obviously, makeup costs quite a bit of money. But I love it. So I buy it. I'm very aware that materialistic items will never replace my real love for my family and friends. So, buy what you want, but remember that it will never comfort you when you're hurting.
12. Sometimes removing yourself from a situation is necessary. Even if it hurts. Saying goodbye to a toxic relationship (romantic or platonic), moving away to pursue your dream, or letting go of an unrealistic, lost dream can be liberating. It may be painful, and it probably will be, but it will make you stronger in the long run.
13. Spend money on experiences. Go to a concert, book a plane ticket, or visit a museum. Paying for an unforgettable experience will sit with you much longer than spending your paycheck on a new pair of shoes or a purse.
14. Appreciate the little things. As cliche as it might be, it's one of the most important things I've learned. You will most likely remember the first kiss, the big move, or the 21st birthday, but will you remember that one cute text? Or an adorable puppy trotting down the sidewalk? Think about those small things that bring you an unexpected ounce of joy.
15. Read - whatever it is, whether it's Ulysses or the back of a cereal box. This was always one of my Grandpa's sentiments, and I carry it with me. You learn through reading, regardless of what it is. And, because it's my birthday, get ready for that self-promo. If you want some reading suggestions, check out my favorites.
16. Having patience is an important virtue, but it's also necessary to know when you've been waiting too long. I pride myself on being able to wait. But sometimes I'm too good at it, and then I lose an opportunity to someone that's more of a go-getter. Make sure to seize opportunities - don't let them pass you by because you were waiting patiently - but don't get impatient over minuscule details.
17. Be honest with your loved ones. Don't get caught up over little things that have no importance. Tell someone you love them and don't shy away from letting people know how you feel. You never know when you won't have the opportunity anymore.
18. Be someone that you want to be. I truly believe that we can create ourselves. Create a person that you admire.
19. The past is the past. Things change, people change, the world changes. Most of the time, you can't go back. And it's not worth it to search for something you've long lost. Feel nostalgic, but understand that you have moved on.
20. Give love. It's free. Enough said.
Finally, enjoy a picture of me just a few days before turning five. A fashion icon from the start.
What is one of the best lessons you've received?
It's almost May, therefore I am almost broke. The money from my summer job is slowly dwindling, but I still want to update my makeup wardrobe now that spring is upon us. Therefore I am implementing a tried and true technique: shopping my stash.
I've recently reduced the excess amount of makeup products I own, however, there are still some that are hidden under all the piles of concealer and stacks of palettes that I haven't used in some time. I think it's a really fun way to find new inspiration and revamp your makeup look for a special occasion, change in season, or when you're just feeling bored. For some inspiration, here are the products I found from digging in my stash.
Cloud Paint release, I've been all for liquid and cream blushes. I unfortunately don't have many, but I found this gem buried underneath all my cream products and was very excited to start using it again. The shade is a perfect taupe-mauve, which matches with essentially any makeup look. I love using it to give a little warmth to my cheeks when I've got a bold lip or smoky eye, but it also gives a gorgeous, natural glow to a bare face. Pair with: Benefit highlighters mentioned below.
here), but I have stopped using it over the past year or so in favor of some Tarte palettes (which I still love). Nevertheless, this palette is stunning. It has 16 fantastic shades, eight matte and eight shimmers. I've worn nearly every shade in a way that I enjoyed - both natural and dramatic. Once again, these shades last for hours and hours on end without budging. They are definitely one of my top three eyeshadow formulas.
Lastly, another Benefit mini: a beautiful highlighter. This one gives a more dramatic, bright glow than the first one, something I find much better for an evening look. It doesn't have any shimmer in it, so I actually really like layering this with a powder highlighter, something like the Becca Moonstone highlighter.
Shop my stash:
Have you ever shopped your stash?
When I was in high school I made it my mission to read as many classic books as possible. Some of them were read for class, but I was actually one of those dorks who was excited to crack open a new story. It's no surprise that I ended up majoring in English Literature!
The category of classic novels is obviously a hugely expansive one. There are plenty that I haven't read and are still on my list - a list that I will spend my entire life completing - but these are just a few that I felt lived up to my inflated expectations. Unfortunately, most of these picks are written by white men, so if you're on the lookout for some more ~diverse~ suggestions, feel free to check out the Five Feminist Reads that I discussed recently.
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott FitzgeraldThe movies do not do this story justice. Not only is Fitzgerald's writing fantastic, but the story itself is a page-turner. I was so curious as to what would happen as the plot moved along that I managed to read this book in just a few days. I was in tears by the end. Gatsby has now managed to become one of my favorite novels, and I have since read it four or five times.
There are so many intelligent, relevant quotes littered throughout Fitzgerald's masterpiece. I love how some of them are important, making you stop to think, while others are simply aesthetically pleasing, such as, “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” Gatsby holds some of the most beautiful writing I've ever read. Like always, the book is better than the movie.
I first read this book freshman year of high school, when I was only 14. It was the first classic I had ever picked up, and I was extremely nervous that the level would be too high or I wouldn't understand the meaning. This novel showed the complete opposite, however. I immediately fell in love with the characters' innocence and charm, especially through reading Scout's narrative. The coming-of-age element also makes Mockingbird a very relatable read for any age.
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Additionally, To Kill a Mockingbird provides plenty of moral lessons that are important to follow. Yet, the book doesn't shove them in your face. They are woven throughout the plot perfectly, finding just the right amount of obvious and implicit. This story will always be one of my favorites.
Liking this novel was one of the most surprising moments of my literary history. I figured, just because it was an older novel, that it would be dry and boring. However, the story is exciting, interesting, and still relevant today. It can be quite confusing at times, so in this case, it might actually be helpful to read some articles about the plotline. There are doppelgangers, mistaken identities, and plenty of characters. But, if you make it through to the end, it's ridiculously rewarding.
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
You may also finally understand where the concept of “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” had its origin. The very first page of this novel is slightly intimidating, but I love going back to it and rereading the very telling first paragraph, as well as the sentimental last quote. Another great pick for beautiful writing, A Tale of Two Cities is not to miss.
I don't quite know why, but I've always loved reading Hemingway's writing. He had an interesting way with words. This story is my favorite of his; it perfectly captures the disillusionment of the 1920s post-war era. If you've ever wanted to trot around Paris, Rome, or Venice, stopping at cafes and drinking wine, this novel will seriously heighten that desire. I love how there is a veneer of calm, collected manners on the outside of the characters as they sit and sip on drinks hour after hour, but underneath the exterior, there is pain and a whole lot of back story.
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
I completely love the ending of The Sun Also Rises. I had to do some research on the symbolism, but after thinking about the plot and analyzing it a bit, I realized how perfectly Hemingway capped it all off. There's also something about the title of the work that intrigues me. I can't peg exactly what it is, but it has some sort of allure to it. I would highly recommend picking up this novel.
The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. SalingerLastly, Salinger's best work is one that I completely connected with while reading it in high school. I think everyone could relate to Holden, the protagonist, in some way. His wishy-washy tendencies and inability to follow a straight path are perfect characteristics to read about when you are going through a major change in your life, thinking about the crumminess of the world, or just feeling nostalgic.
Every time I look at this book, I am reminded of how fantastic the voice is. Salinger wrote Holden in such a true-to-life way, that reading the narrative feels like I'm chatting with a friend, or even hearing myself think. It's almost comforting, knowing that other people feel the same way you do. Catcher is also another easier read - I flew through it in about a week.
Classics may be daunting, but they are incredibly rewarding to finish. Start reading one today.
What are your favorite classics?
Just over a year and a half ago I enrolled in the University of Wisconsin - Madison and began making Madison, Wisconsin my temporary home. Through my nearly four semesters on campus, I have discovered so many amazing things about the city. Although I'm still faithful to Chicago, Madison is the perfect city to have a love affair with. The countless restaurants, shops, and scenery that line the streets make me smile every time I walk around. It also helps that the weather is warming up and I can finally remove my knee-length coat and clunky boots.
Madison in the summer is a sight for sore eyes. The streets are lined with people, restaurants are booming, and grassy areas are peaceful retreats for studying, picnicking, and napping. It always baffles me how a little sunshine and a temperature above 50° can make me remember how much I love a place, but it also never ceases to amaze me. Madison is the perfect city to visit when the sun starts to shine, and I recommend you do not miss these five fun activities.
Madison is the state capital, therefore there is a big, beautiful building that you've probably seen pictures of when searching through guides to the city. While it may seem like a touristy activity, it's actually really fun to check out. The outside of the building may be great, but the inside has gorgeous architecture and a great view. If you stand in the very center of the Capitol and look up, you'll see a stunningly designed ceiling that lets some of the outdoor light in. If you want an even better view, trek up to the observation deck for 360° views of Madison.
Memorial Union Terrace
While it may seem like a haven for students, the Union terrace is a perfect place for anyone to relax, grab a cold drink (or an ice cream scoop), and enjoy views of the lake. That is, if the weather is right. Wisconsin winters can be pretty harsh, but late spring, summer, and early fall are fantastic times to experience the beauty of the isthmus. Madison is sandwiched right between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, and the Union terrace will give you breathtaking views of Mendota, while the Monona terrace will show you, you guessed it, Lake Monona. I'm partial to the Union terrace because if you catch it in season, you can situate yourself on an iconic sunburst chair. The absolute best (and busiest) time to go is right as the sun is setting.
Dane County Farmer's Market
This may not be a site to see, but it is certainly an activity you don't want to miss. Beginning mid-April and continuing through the late fall, the farmer's market will be your go-to Saturday morning activity. Head up to Capitol Square with an empty stomach and a full wallet for samples of cheese curds, cheese popcorn, and my personal favorite, hot & spicy cheese bread. After all, it is the dairy state. I even like to make a game out of trying to get a sample from every cheese vendor. Besides stuffing your face with cheddar and colby jack, pick out some in-season fruits and veggies, grab a gooey cinnamon roll, or try out a new flavor of homemade jam. Whatever your taste, the farmer's market will have something for you. But be sure to save some room for all the delicious restaurants Madison has to offer - there are enough for a completely separate article.
Madison houses many museums, and the majority of them are actually free. If you're an art lover, visit either the Chazen or the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The former houses mostly traditional art, while MMoCA is all about the modern pieces (there's also a delicious restaurant on the top floor!). If history is your thing, check out the Wisconsin Veterans Museum or the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Both share the stories of Wisconsin's development and are perfect for learning more about the state. Lastly, if you need to please children (or, let's be real, anyone with a youthful heart), head to the Children's Museum. There are interactive exhibits and a rooftop play area, which can basically be interesting for all ages.
Lastly, don't miss out on some of Madison's beautiful theaters. The Overture Center is a wonderful place to see shows without the overwhelmingness of a larger city's theater scene. In addition, the Orpheum is a concert venue that was originally built in 1926 for vaudeville and movies. The original style of decor is still noticeable, and staring up at the ornate, golden ceiling is one of my favorite parts about seeing a show there. Madison also has a handful of tiny, hidden venues, like the Majestic Theater and High Noon Saloon, where you can see a small band or singer without the pressure of a large crowd.
Have you ever visited Madison, WI?
April 6, 2017 • Beauty, Fashion, Inspire, Role Models
When I was little, about seven or eight, I wanted to have straight blonde hair. Note: I have dark, nearly black hair that curls at the slightest touch of water. I would narrow my eyes and shoot back defensively when peers claimed that I had black hair.
“No, it's just very dark brown,” I said, furrowing my brow. To eleven-year-old me, this distinction between black and dark brown was very important. Having dark brown hair meant that, someday, I might achieve the light hair I had always wanted. But black hair meant there was no escape. I was stuck with the darkest of the dark, and would never be able to have my dream hair.
I have, after years of complaining, since accepted my dark, nearly black locks, but the wishing has turned elsewhere. A completely flat stomach. Freckles on my cheeks. A smaller chest. These are just a few of the traits I've yearned for, but there are countless others. There is always something.
I realized not too long ago that many of the celebrities and models I saw as a child echoed the traits that I wished I had. It really came as no surprise to me. The looks and sizes of models, actresses, and singers - women that were in the spotlight - did not reflect what I saw when I looked into the mirror. My role models, therefore, consisted of women that were beautiful in their own way, but no one that made me feel like I could be beautiful too. I saw blonde, thin women represented, therefore it was what I expected I should look like. It wasn't until I matured a little that I began noticing strong, beautiful women that looked like me.
Natalie Portman is a successful woman that's just a bit taller than five feet. Emma Watson's fashion sense reminded me that being fashionable and being smart could have an overlap. America Ferrara's ‘curvy’ figure helped me realize that attractiveness is not all about being as skinny as possible. Mila Kunis’ dark hair showed me that being brunette is beautiful. I haven't yet found my curly haired icon, but I'm still searching.
I wish I had seen and recognized these role models at a younger age. But more than that, I wish there were more for me to choose from. If I didn't spend so much time thinking my short yet curvy frame was so out of the ordinary, I might have been able to realize at an earlier age that I was, and am, beautiful.
Hollywood has made a lot of progress recently in representing a wider array of more realistic, diverse celebrities. Many magazines, fashion labels, and ad campaigns have also been making an effort to include more models of color and plus-sized (or, as we call it, normal sized) women. While it is nice to see some change, there is still a long way to go and many other problems that must be faced. Even with a move towards more representation, there is still perpetuation of “classic” beauty.
One problem for representation that I've found is the way society obsesses over trends and fads. Whatever style phenomenon is currently happening may not appeal to everyone, and even more, may not work with everyone's body types. I was endlessly frustrated a few years ago (and still a little bit now) when pastel, mermaid-colored hair was all the rage (peek at my attempt at purple ombre hair for a throwback). I had mostly overcome my disdain for my dark hair, however, this trend once again made me wish that I had light, easily dyeable hair. On that note, I've always wanted to try a fun, trendy haircut - like the currently popular shag cut - but am never really able to succeed because of my hair texture.
Additionally, bralettes and light, gauzy shirts seem to be an incredibly popular craze right now, and I just can't follow the crowd. My body size and shape doesn't work with that type of style. I often find it difficult to see people wearing gorgeous, lacy bralettes under a sheer shirt, and know that I can't really pull it off. I know that there are plenty of other styles that I look good in, but when it's not something currently considered trendy, I feel less fashionable.
I won't lie, there are many past and current trends that I love, especially if they work well for me. I'm all about the cold shoulder tops that everyone's wearing right now, and I support anyone that can pull off any of these fads. I do, however, wish it didn't feel so necessary to stay on top of these trends. If I feel like I can't pull it off, I don't want to feel like I'm unfashionable. And I see nearly every model looking fantastic in each trend, which naturally makes me want to try it.
I know it's also easy to argue that I should simply ignore what other people do and wear. Comparison is, after all, the thief of joy. But it's hard. It's hard to scroll through social media and see the most popular trends as something that don't work for you. Or to see models sporting makeup colors that don't suit your skin tone. All that can make you want to throw your hair up into a bun, toss on a sweatshirt, and head out the door without a further thought.
However, if we all saw role models in the spotlight that reminded us that we are beautiful because of our differences, we all might be a little more confident.
I want celebrities and models with big thighs, short torsos, and muscular arms. I want to see that everyone gets their own style role model. Everyone needs someone to look up to that's successful and looks like them. It makes our dreams seem more achievable. It's not that we need someone else to show us that we are beautiful, but it sure helps to see our looks, our shapes, ourselves represented.
We should accept and appreciate everyone's unique, individual beauty. Yet, it is equally as important to find role models that look like you. Beauty may only be skin-deep, but it can certainly help give a little confidence boost. Therefore, young girls should be able to see successful women that look like them showcased in the spotlight. Let's have more realistic role models represented. Maybe then I'll be able to find my perfect curly-haired icon.
Who are some of your style role models?
I've had this palette for a few months now, but I wanted to review it fully because it is just amazing. The Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow Palette has quickly become my favorite cheek product. I didn't want to use anything else for the entire month of March, so it's safe to say this palette is a must-have for anyone that enjoys bronzer, contouring, and highlighter.
Firstly, this Charlotte Tilbury palette absolutely crushes the packaging game. Whipping out the golden product not only looks luxurious, but it also makes you feel like it's worth a million bucks. The interior packaging is also beautiful - I love how the words ‘sculpt’ and ‘highlight’ are a part of the product itself. The diagonal lines also create a stunning visual effect.
Aside from the beautiful packaging, the product is perfect. It only comes in two different shade options, which I will admit is slightly limiting. However, I find the lighter option works well with my skin tone. Contour/bronzer shades can often be too dark, orange, or harsh - but Charlotte Tilbury knows just how to create the best color. It looks great as a contour shade (used in the hollows of the cheeks to create a more chisled look) or as bronzer all over the face (on the temples, nose, cheeks, and chin).
Moving on to the more important part: the highlighter. I cannot get enough of this twinkly, sparkly shade. I mentioned it my Five Products, Five Minutes: Spring Edition tutorial, and it was also featured in my February Favorites. With spring knocking at the door, we could all use a little extra glow to complement our pastel clothes and floral prints. This highlighter is the best shade to try. It's a light, champagne color with just the right amount of sparkle. If you dab a tiny bit on the tops of your cheekbones it creates a gorgeous, subtle shine - but you can also load up your brush for a glorious sheen.
The final puzzle piece that makes this Charlotte Tilbury palette successful is the lasting power. I apply a standard amount to my face in the mornings and it is miraculously still there when I reevaluate my makeup towards the end of the day. That part is pretty important to me, considering makeup tends to slide off my face when I'm not looking.
This Charlotte Tilbury palette has been a dream come true over the past few months. I would highly recommend splurging on it if you have the means and enjoy a good highlight. It also makes a fantastic gift for a close friend or partner. It may be pricy, but that high price tag seems to be worth it in my opinion.
Have you tried this palette?