Saturday, February 28, 2015

Thinking Food

I went to bed around 3am last night (this morning?) the result of a combination of Netflix and trying to recover from nasal congestion through extreme hydration (which also means extreme frequency of trips to the bathroom). Luckily it's the weekend so I still got plenty of sleep and woke up at around 9am. There are so many things to do today, so many things going on, so naturally the first thing I do is make pancakes.

I was going for crépes, but the batter turned out a little too thick, so pancakes it was. I topped them off with Nutella, bananas, and honey, and though the flavor of the Nutella and honey clashed a bit, they were oh-so-good. I'm like that character Nate the Great from the little detective series that I used to read in elementary school. He always needs pancakes when he needs to think, and for me it's a bit opposite. I tend to think a lot while I'm making pancakes. It's relaxing, like yoga or meditation, and I'm really good at making pancakes, so it helps to do something I know I can succeed at.

Back to the thinking bit and the things going on, right now is Squals weekend. I should be way freaked out, or way productive trying to put some finishing touches on my posters or practicing delivery, but for some reason I'm just completely nonchalant about it, like I don't care. But I do, and I know I do, because I've been waiting for this since forever. My freshman and sophomore years, I had meager success with my expos. There were so many older, more experienced students, and I felt like I just couldn't compete. I was kind of miserable, to be honest, but there wasn't much I could do except keep my nose on the grindstone and keep working.

Junior year, all the legendary seniors graduated. I was an upperclassman now, and it was my time to shine. It would finally be "The Year of Carol," but it was not meant to be. The depression hit, and all of a sudden, all my energy went towards fighting to stay alive. I didn't do expos for the entire year, and though my friends were supportive, I didn't know what to do.

Senior year then, would be my year. However, first semester still ended up riddled with social worker visits and other problems, and on top of everything, college apps. I wrote a tentative rough draft and sent it in to my coach for edits, but he didn't get back to me until second semester. That cost me quite a bit of time, but I still managed to finish the rest of the speech in four days before the tournament. Since then, I've broken at every tournament that I've gone to, but the half a year advance that everyone else had on me really took its toll. I may have broken at every tournament, but I have yet to break to finals.

That brings me to Squals. I feel pressure internally, but also a bit of pressure externally to succeed here. It's what I want, and I know I have the potential for it, but there's also that little bit of doubt that says maybe I can't do it. But I've made peace with it, and I've promised myself that I'll be okay either way. I make it to State, I've made my goal. I don't make it, it was just not meant to be.

There's something in my perfectionistic nature that behaves kind of counterintuitively. If I feel like I'm going to be unable to do something to perfection or otherwise fail at it, I'd just rather not do it at all. I'm worried that this is happening right now, because if I subconsciously think that I'm going to fail or I'm not going to qual, then that means I'm distracted by something I really can't control. Somehow I need to convince myself to have total self confidence and lift myself out of this rut so I can actually do things, which will then motivate me to keep working towards that goal. Being optimistic and seeing things as okay either way is not an option. Sure, it's comforting to soothe my self doubt, but it's not going to serve my purpose right now. And that's sufficiently motivating for now, so I'm gonna go. ◊

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trouble Trouble

I think it's been a while since I've ranted on here, and to be honest, I'd prefer if it'd stay that way, but trouble is always bound to pop up one way or another. There are high points in life and low points in life, and I've been riding a high wave for most of February, so to be honest, I'm not even really surprised that I've been thrown off. But it's still annoying.

I know it's probably easier to write and easier to follow a chronological model, but I feel like doing a stream of consciousness type thing, so let's see how well this works out (it's probably not going to work out). First, this morning. I woke up at 6:00am feeling pretty good, despite my room being a mess and I being absolutely not ready for school. Why am I not ready for school? Because I've been sick. Since Thursday. Of Break. Some weird throat virus gave me blisters on the back of my throat, so I had a really hard time eating or drinking anything, so I'm also severely dehydrated (luckily not starving, because I'm sick and don't have much appetite). So yea, I spent about half of my break sick. I don't know how I got sick, or why I got sick, it was all very sudden. And because there was a speech tournament the weekend before (I posted on Berkeley about two posts down) half of my things were still misplaced, including my earbuds, so I spent all of break without them, and let me tell you, that was one of the most frustrating things ever.

Being sick on Thursday, I probably could have gone to the doctor's to get it looked at, but through my own internet sleuthing skills, I figured that it was most likely a clinically diagnosed throat virus, which meant that it didn't have a cure, and would probably wear off for good in three days to a week, with proper care. So I cancelled my Friday coaching in hopes of getting enough rest so I can go to the satellite tournament on Sunday. Thursday finishes, Friday comes and goes, Saturday comes and goes, and uh-oh, I still sound like a strangulated seagull. So I call Mrs. Brasher and drop the tournament. There was no way I could go and do well in that condition. Unfortunately, this was the last chance to get a wildcard, and if I had been otherwise healthy, there is a good chance I would have earned mine there. That would have given me an excuse to finish my State Script a little later, because I've been so stressed out about tournaments every weekend and homework and college stuff that I thought that would have been okay. So now that plan was screwed too. I'm still too sick to go to school on Monday, so I stay home. But Mrs. Brasher still wanted me to go the state qualifying tournament, so I still have to turn mine in. I work on it on Monday, and on Tuesday I go to school at lunch to turn it in. Mrs. Brasher has to drive it all the way up to Mitty to have the league chair sign it. In all the rush and confusion I forget that it's her birthday. I get home and realize this, and I feel horrible because because of me, she has to go out of her way and spend time driving to Mitty to get something turned in that I should have done a month ago. Now I feel horrible emotionally too, but I have to remember not to make it about me, and now I really feel like a whiny brat.

As a result of feeling like a whiny brat, I decide to wallow in self pity instead of doing anything productive. My room is a mountain of clothes and miscellaneous things, and even though I've done nothing when I was sick other than lie around groaning of my own misfortune, my room is somehow a mess. Rather than clean it up, I did do something productive (filling out the FAFSA) and then I went to sleep.

Which brings me back to this morning. The morning schedule is built around my little sister's school schedule, which doesn't start until 8:15am I believe, so she wakes up at 7:20am and doesn't fret about getting to school until 7:50am, which means I am completely late, because my school starts at 7:55am. As an almost-adult, I try to be responsible and wake up early, but it's hard, and yea I know that in the real world you have to get to work on time even if you're a little sick but cut me some slack because apparently I'm not 18 yet it's not the real world, so I still have a couple of months to whine about things. So yea, I wake up at 6:00am, somehow snooze until 7:20 as well because I'm tired and grumpy, and get to school late because I don't know where all my clothes and things are. I'm still not quite sure what's in my backpack right now, because I just grabbed my best approximation of what I needed and headed out.

So I'm already late, and I'm trying my best to get to school on time, but that puts strain on my lungs and I'm coughing my head off. I obviously can't go to class in this condition, so I try Mrs. Rap's room to see if she has tissues and a place where I can decompress for about five minutes, but she has prep and isn't in. Then I go check the office to see if I can talk to Ms. Gutierrez for a bit because she always helps me calm down, but then I find out that she doesn't work there anymore? The other office aids ask me what I'm looking for, and I don't know, so I just ask if the library is open, but obviously I sound sick, so they send me to the health office (good move office people). In the health office, at least I get a quiet place to sit down, and the nurse reminds me to drink water and gives me tissues and Vaseline because my nose is chapped. She's not necessarily warm and friendly, but I do appreciate her a great deal. Afterwards, she sends me back to class with a health pass, which means, yay, I won't be marked tardy. Mrs. Paulazzo is also super nice and accommodating, so she let's me hang out in the library while everyone else takes the test, because I'm obviously not ready for the test, being sick and all and having not studied. So I go to the library and the librarian is super scary and asks me, "And why are you here," but she's actually nice after I explain it she just has a scary voice but I still can't get over that.

I sit in the library for a bit trying to get my head straight and I look up all the homework I missed and everything is good. Then I go to the bathroom and that's when the final straw hit. Ahhh Mother Nature Monthly. That does it for me, and I do the best I can to clean up, and then go back to the library to sit down fuming because I didn't bring supplies, and that's when I really wanted to talk to someone to decompress, but I don't even like dealing with my problems so why should anyone else? So I start typing, and now I'm here in Mrs. Rap's room for tutorial to do nothing but absolutely rant my heart out and let me tell you it does feel good.

In conclusion, here are all the things I've faced in the last two weeks that have absolutely pissed me off: lost my earbuds, tournaments, got sick, missed a tournament, missed Mrs. Brasher's birthday, still sick, got my period, is severely dehydrated (have I mentioned that I've been getting nosebleeds?) and yea, I think that's about everything. This is by far the longest rant I've done, and at the start of it, I thought it'd be pretty brief. I was looking for an image to represent my emotions right now, but not even Grumpy Cat will do it. Grumpy Cat is pissed off at the world. I am pain and rage and annoyance and fury. That felt good to say. There is the "rage face" meme but honestly that one is so ugly. Here's an angry Norwegian Forest Cat for you. And yes, that is the "That's right twas I who set the house ablaze" cat. Isn't it wonderful?

I'm probably going to regret this when I look back on it a couple months from now, but you know what, it was quite satisfying at the time. If there's no one to talk to, just rant to a computer. No one gets hurt, I get to vent, and it's all good. ◊

Friday, February 20, 2015

LUSH, The Body Shop, and More: Skincare & Gift Haul

I am sick.


It's really not more than a sore throat, and I'm keeping it warm enough in my room so I don't have the chills, but I need to do everything I can to prevent it from turning into the flu or something else before the tournament on Sunday. With enough painkillers, I can swallow water without feeling like I'm trying to eat razors, but still, being sick is generally not fun. I have so many things to do, like speech and debate, FAFSA, and regular homework, but instead all I've really been able to do is watch Fresh Off the Boat (surprisingly okay) and blog.

I want to work on a new header image, but that takes way too much thought, so instead, I'm just going to do a simple LUSH review type thing because I bought a bunch of LUSH stuff for teacher gifts and and some tea tree oil products from The Body Shop for myself. I was actually supposed to be prom dress shopping with Wei-Wei, but everywhere we looked, the dresses were so expensive, and I only had a $60 budget to work with. I might just end up borrowing a dress, but in the meantime, I decided to focus on skincare. I learned the hard way that skin is no simple matter, and that you have to have a different regimen for each season. I'm annoyed that it's so complicated, but good skin is worth the time and effort or else I feel self conscious about my bad skin. The store employees were all very helpful, and I've tried some of the products already and I like the way they've turned out, so here goes.

First up, LUSH. Apparently, they're right in the middle of a redesign effort, so I couldn't get any of their little black bags for each product, but the cashier was quite nice and offered to wrap up each product individually, and went the extra mile when I told her they were gifts and included a "how to use" sticker on each of them. Unfortunately, that means I can't show pictures of each product, but they have them on the website anyway, so there's not much point. I did want to photograph them, however, because it's hard to get a sense of how large each one is without actually physically seeing them. Here I have:

I also got two samples of the face masks, Catastrophe Cosmetic (which I'm wearing right now as I type) and Mask of Magnaminty (which is actually listed on their website under "Cleanser"). I've never tried an actual face mask before, so going in I didn't really know what to expect. The mask felt a lot drier than I had imagined (I had expected something more like a thick lotion) and it was pretty flaky once I put it on my face. It also left some residue after I rinsed it off, but that's not too big of an issue, I'll just have to rinse it off more next time. I like that it helped even out my skin tone and my face feels a lot softer now. I wish I had had it earlier when I had really bad acne, but now the CeraVe face wash seems to be working well, so my skin is a lot clearer. I still have enough left over in the sample to try it a second time. I might add some more water to it to thin it out a bit, because I'm guessing that it dried out on the trip home from the mall. Catastrophe Cosmetic is a fresh face mask, so it needs to be kept refrigerated and used within a few weeks otherwise it will expire, but Mask of Magnaminty is self-preserving, which means that it's perfectly fine to keep it out. By the way, the samples are free, so if you've always wanted to try a face mask but didn't want to invest in something that you're unsure about, try asking for a sample first.

The Body Shop also gives samples (I didn't know until the cashier gave me a free tea tree oil sample without me even asking) so here I have a 1mL sample of tea tree oil, which is supposedly good for fighting acne. It smells a bit like a cross between peppermint and heavily watered down bleach. I also bought the Skin Clearing Lotion. The employee said that everything in that line is "mattefying" which is good for acne prone skin, so I'm eager to see how this one works out.

Last but not least, I bought the Smile – pink lemonade punch candle from Bath & Body Works. I usually don't buy candles from B&BW because they're so expensive, but they were on sale for $12 and came with a nice box. The only review it has on the website gives it a 1 star because it's not heavily scented, but I think that's good for a gift, as I don't know what scents the principal, who wrote my counselor letter of rec, likes. I do know however, that both of her daughters really like the color pink, so I hope they enjoy it.

And that's it for now. I wish I had all the money in the world for more skincare and scented products because they're so nice, but I don't, so this'll have to do. Eventually when I get a job I'll be able to do more of these, but as a broke high school student, I'll enjoy what I can. ◊

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My Last Berkeley Tournament

If you've noticed that I have been (somewhat) regularly updating my blog recently, it's only because I've had a set of posts scheduled to publish without my needing to write them day by day. In reality, I've been insanely busy going to tournament after tournament. The first weekend of February was the Stanford Invitational, in which I semifinaled in Expos, and just this weekend was the Berkeley Invitational, in which I also semifinaled in Expos. It was kind of sad, because as a senior, this is the last time I'm ever going to be competing in these tournaments, but luckily, Berkeley isn't all just work, it's also known for it's incredible food, which I am going to share here. I was too stressed on the first day to remember taking pictures, but I did get some from my fellow exposer friends (specifically Hannah, hi!) and I tried to remember as much as possible to take pictures on the rest of the days. For the Berkeley specific eateries, I rated them on a scale of 1 to 10, a "1" being "would not eat there ever again," to "10" being a "must-have." Enjoy!


Lunch: Top Dog (6/10)
I remember going to the Berkeley Tournament my freshman year and not having any friends to hang out with because a lot of them were scared to go to travel tournaments. I ended up having to travel with an adult chaperone the whole time, which actually wasn't that bad because she took me to all the good places for food between the hotel and the campus. The first place we went to was Top Dog which, as the name suggests, is a mouthwateringly delicious place for hot dogs. However, it was a lot smaller than I remembered it to be (probably because I've grown, thankfully), and the food wasn't as amazing as I had thought, but maybe it was because I was in such a rush.

For some reason, it was also crazily hot all weekend, despite the previous weekend being torrential rain. We went and got Jamba Juice to cool down, and it was such a nice relief.

Dinner: Smart Alec's (9.5/10)
Smart Alec's is a burger place at the corner of Telegraph and Durant, and it was just as good, if not better, than what I had remembered. I got a regular beef burger and regular fries, and they were all cooked to perfection, especially the fries, which were just the right size and combination of soft insides and crunchy outsides. A medium fries is enough for three people after a burger each, so I had quite a bit left over afterwards, but they got cold too quickly to eat later.

Afterwards, we went to get Yogurtland for dessert. I wasn't too hungry, so the three samples I tried were actually plenty enough!


Brunch: Savory Crépes from Crépes-A-Go-Go (8/10)
I woke up late on Sunday because I thought there'd be a wake-up call or knock, but there wasn't so all four of us in the hotel room were scrambling to get ready. By the time we were finished, it was too late for breakfast, so the exposers all went together to Crépes-A-Go-Go. A Berkeley tournament experience is not complete without a taste of their heavenly crépes. They come in two kinds, savory and sweet. Since it was almost lunchtime, I went with the savory option, getting a spinach, egg, cheese, and ham crépe. It was the size of my face, and so filling, I hard time finishing it. Ashlyn got a sweet crépe, which is just as good, and I had one of those on Monday as well. Here are our happy faces with our crépes, and the crépes themselves as well.

Dinner(ish): King Pin Donuts (4/10)
I wasn't too hungry for dinner after the third prelims round, and I didn't want to get a huge bowl of ramen like Hannah and Ashlyn, so I got a sugar donut (as usual) to have sugar (and more importantly energy) for quarters round. King Pin donuts luckily was open, but it was meh in quality, but that might only because it was so late in the day and the donuts weren't as fresh anymore. They still were really large and fluffy.


Breakfast: Sweet Crépes from Crépes-A-Go-Go (9/10)
Finally it was time for the breakfast crépes. By this time I had known that I'd broken into semi's, but there was some initial panic with the coaches over when the semi's round was, as expos had broken directly into quarterfinals the night before. Luckily, the semifinal round didn't start until later, so I had time to go with my roommates for breakfast at Crépes-A-Go-Go again. I went all out, with a Nutella, strawberries, bananas and whipped cream crépe. I thought I had taken a picture of it but I guess not. It was so scrumptious though, and I would not mind having to eat that every week.

Lunch: Blondie's Pizza (7/10)
I had heard about Blondie's the first time I had gone to Berkeley, but had never actually tried it. As we were waiting for finals breaks, the exposers headed out there for lunch. Pizza is the speech and debater's staple food, but most tournament pizza is usually kind of stale and cold. Luckily, since this was a proper restaurant type deal, the pizza was fresh and hot. You can order a whole pizza, or one that's just by the slice, but either way, they come right out of the oven. I got a Hawaiian pizza, which I always get no matter where I am (yea, I know, kind of lame, but it makes the decision process a lot easier). I liked the garlic bread-esque crust, and it was a decent meal that wasn't too greasy and just filling enough.

After finding out finals breaks (I did not break into finals), we headed out for consolation ice cream sandwiches from C.R.E.A.M. This ice cream sandwich store isn't exclusive to Berkeley, but the exposers had made a pact that the Berkeley tournament experience wouldn't be complete without it. I got the mint chocolate chip in macadamia white chocolate chip cookie, and Ashlyn and Hannah had both gotten green tea ice cream in red velvet and macadamia white chocolate chip respectively. I knew that C.R.E.A.M. was popular for a reason, but was so much better than I had ever expected. Two warm cookies smushed on both sides of a cold, fresh, scoop of ice cream was an experience beyond description. You'll have to try it yourself to see what I mean. I would have liked it if the cookie was a little softer and chewier, as it kind of fell apart as I ate it, but that's just how the cookie crumbles.

Surprisingly, for all this food, I spent a total of less than $40 the whole three day weekend. The food itself wasn't too expensive, but I can see how easy it would be to get carried away living in Berkeley all the time. I'd literally spend my time planning out meals so I could try every single option in every single restaurant, and even then, I'd still probably miss something. ◊

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Nail Polish Notice

If you didn't already know, nail polishes expire! I found out the hard way when I went to paint my nails Sapphire Siren by Maybelline, and instead of a nice smooth color, found an icky gunky mess. It wasn't that great of a nail polish to begin with, but after some research, I found out that it had probably passed its expiration date. I tried reviving it by adding some clear top coat to thin it out, but no success yet.

After a little research, I discovered that most nail polishes have a small symbol on the bottle that shows how many months it will last. Here are some examples (click to zoom in):

I haven't found one on my Essie bottles yet, which may be a good thing I hope, if it means it doesn't expire. For the rest of them, I'll need to use them fast, or else they're way beyond hope. ◊

Thursday, February 12, 2015

#obsessed: Elastic Heart – Sia

I've been #obsessed with this song for a while, which isn't surprising because I love Sia's voice. Aside from that, I also love the beat and the lyrics. Again, Maddie Ziegler represents Sia in the music video's interpretive dance, and again, the video has stirred up quite some controversy. Many in the comments are accusing the video of being pedophilic, which I disagree with. Society is so used to the sickest, weirdest interpretation of things, that the first thing that comes to mind in this video is pedophilia. True, there is an adult male and an underage female dressed in beige leotards, but there is absolutely nothing sexual going on at all. To jump to the conclusion of pedophilia is more of a reflection on the ignorance (honestly, have you even watched what's going on in the video?) and the perversion of the accuser. To me, the video clearly portrays a dysfunctional father/daughter relationship, in which both of them are trapped by something or suffer from a mental illness. Every movement represents an emotion or reaction, such as frustration or desperation, and the end result is that the daughter is able to escape the thing, while the father cannot. It's a very raw, powerful video with meaning that I cannot do justice to explain, and it's a shame that the artistic value of it is diminished by the people who fail to see beyond a perceived sexual perversion. That's just my take. ◊

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mini Hair and Face Haul

With thirty inches of hair, I will shamelessly stockpile hair stuff, especially if it's on sale. That said, I have absolutely no regrets buying all this shampoo and conditioner. I don't know why I feel the need to post on this, but it still counts as a mini haul. Amusingly, the total comes out to be exactly $25, with tax. Little things like that make me happy, not just because it's a nice even number, but because I'm still poor with no income, so yay for cheap things.

For "hauls" I might just do a "first impressions" reaction because I don't have enough time to really try out everything, but in this case, I did try out all of the products.

»Herbal Essences Shampoo and Conditioner
Most "moisturizing" shampoos and conditioners make my hair greasy, but I generally like the Herbal Essences brand because it's good quality, smells nice, and leaves my hair feeling very silky and soft. I used to use the "Pin Straight" shampoo and conditioner all the time before they discontinued it. This one is nothing special, but for the price of $3 each, it's not too bad.

»CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
I've been looking for a gentle, effective face cleaner for a while, and scoured the internet for one that met my criteria without breaking the bank. I found this gallery of some of the best rated face washes, but most were too expensive. However, I am an adamant advocate of quality over quantity, so I will allow myself to splurge (somewhat) on skincare. This one cost over $15, more than double all four of the hair things, but it just may be worth it because my face feels so good right now.

»Herbal Escapes Kiwi Lime Squeeze Clarifying Shampoo and Conditioner
I've actually bought this one multiple times before, but I've never seen it so cheap. It's usually a dollar which is cheap enough, but wow, 2 for $1.50 is pretty nice. Usually, I would be hesitant to recommend something that is so low priced because unfortunately that sometimes correlates with low quality, but for some reason, this shampoo and conditioner works super well for me. I have oily hair so this set is good for clarifying. It doesn't work for everyone because it is so drying, so some people absolutely hate it. If you have oily hair, I recommend giving it a shot, because if you don't like it, it's only about $2 total. ◊

Friday, February 6, 2015

More Blog Changes?

I'm still not sure how satisfied I am with the design of this blog. I like it, but it just seems to be missing something that keeps it from being a "proper" blog. I know most professional blogs have a white background, but that just doesn't work well with my fonts. I also kind of want to change the blog title, but I don't know which way I want it.

As much as I enjoy working with HTML/CSS and picking out customizations, it would be so nice to have a professional design and tweak it for me, but those services are so expensive. It takes a lot of time to get these things done, and speech and debate is still crazy busy. This summer I'm definitely going to spend a lot of time working on this blog design. ◊

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

DIY Avocado Face Mask

I have really badly clogged pores that I've been trying endlessly to find a fix for. They're not your average whitehead acne, they're more like hard waxy plugs in the pores under my skin. I've seen them described on online forums but no one knows what they are. I hate them so much because they keep irritating my skin until the plug is removed, which is sometimes quite painful, and you're technically not supposed to do that. I admit that part of the cause might be my own fault, because in trying to keep my skin clean I overscrub and dry my skin out instead.

Consequently, I've been trying to moisturize more, but I don't like the idea of putting synthetic chemicals on my face, due to a bad experience with a lotion in middle school. Plus, I hate spending money on anything that may or may not work. I've also tried using plain olive oil, but I absolutely cannot stand the feel of lingering grease on my face. I saw this face mask used in a Youtube video, so I thought I might try to make my own, as DIY is right up my alley. It's straightforward and easy to make, which I like, and it strikes a happy medium between non-chemical and non-greasy. Here is the recipe:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Mash up avocado in a small bowl. Combine other ingredients one at a time in order listed. Mix well after adding each ingredient. To use, simply spread mixture on hand and massage into face. Leave on for 10-20 mins and rinse off with warm water.

This recipe makes way more than one use, so I chose to transfer it into a jam jar and store it in the refrigerator for future use, rather than throwing it out. It's a bit runny and honestly does not look very glamorous, but it seems to be working as expected. It's not a miracle cure, and it's certainly going to take some time before I see any results, but I'm feeling good about it so far. ◊

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday Hike (With Dogs!)

I can't believe we've already made it through 1/12 of the year. It truly shocked me when I looked at my iPod and the little calendar icon had a "1" on it. Where has all the time gone?

To start off the month, Wei-Wei and I went hiking up in Quicksilver. She brought her two dogs, Angel and Basilgroot, and off we went, under the hot sun (even in the middle of winter) and along the parched trail. My thighs killed me almost immediately, but I'm glad I got the exercise. It made me realize that I really miss swimming, but I simply don't have enough time for it.

I also tested out the camera I got for Christmas. It's pretty good, but there's not a lot of interesting stuff to photograph. I also tried to vlog. At one point I strapped the camera to my backpack straps like a GoPro and it actually worked. Unfortunately, the dogs were pulling on the leash so the footage ended up being really shaky. I might upload some of it in the future when I have more time to edit and everything.

February's mini monthly focus: balance. As a pretty high strung perfectionist, I often go through the highest of highs and lowest lows very quickly. You might say that I'm easily overwhelmed, to the point where I am set off by the tiniest of things. This month, I want to be more aware of my emotional state so I don't trigger an anxiety attack just by sheer overreaction. Balance is key, not only for physical health, but also mental and emotional health, so I'm going to try to work on that. ◊