Friday, July 31, 2015

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Small Child!

Happy 16th Julia! At least, I think it was your birthday on Wednesday (it's written down in my calendar somehow). Sorry this is a few days late, I haven't been paying attention to what day it is due to work. I hope you treated yourself to a few scrumptious baked desserts and had a delightful and lovely day <3 Hopefully I'll see you again at school before I leave for college! Best of luck with junior year :)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Really Simple Upcycling Ideas

Upcycling (aka a fancy word for reusing things) has been a project on my list for a while now, and I've finally made some progress towards that goal as I embrace the "clean hippie" lifestyle (I say that lightly). Work has been quite tiring and the hours have been long as we are renovating the room (yet again) so I haven't blogged as much, sadly. This particular post has been sitting in my drafts for much too long; some of the pictures don't accurately reflect what my layout looks like anymore, but it needs to be published.

Upcycling glass candle jars»Candle Jars: The one I have is a Small Tumbler from Yankee Candle, and it's ideal for shorter items. These are good for makeup storage as they keep everything upright and visible. To reuse the jar, you must first dispose of the half an inch of wax left at the bottom, as well as the metal wick base. You're only supposed to burn the candles until half an inch of wax is left otherwise it could burn the jar and be dangerous. I know a lot of DIY tutorials recommend freezing the jar to get the extra wax out and leave rubbing alcohol in the jar for a few days to dissolve the glue holding down the wick, but in my opinion that's a bit wasteful. I use a different method to save the leftover wax as well. When there is half an inch of melted wax left, I quickly pour the melted wax into a baby food jar with a wick inside. The smaller circumference means that there is more height to burn the leftover wax. To get rid of any further wax in the jar, I use hot water to soak the jar so the wax melts and the glue at the base of the wick softens enough for me to pry off the metal wick base very easily. Finish off washing with soap and water, decorate accordingly if you please, and you're done!

Upcycling tea tins
»Tea Tins: I don't drink tea by my mom does, so she has a lot of these lying around. I use it for makeup brushes and similar items because I don't need to see the handles. Those can be hidden inside the metal tin while I use glass jars for items where I need to see the labels in the jar. Tea tins are fairly simple to reuse, as they only need to be rinsed out and dried. This one is more of an idea or a suggestion of an item for upcycling rather than a how-to.

»Chocolate/Biscuit Boxes: I think it's a universal truth that those metal boxes of Danish "Butter Cookies" are never filled with actual cookies, but more often than not, sewing supplies. Nevertheless, Belgian chocolate boxes and high end baked goods packaging make pretty good storage trays. They look quite nice, as they're decorated with gold trim and whatnot. It's probably not worth mentioning, but they're cute and keep everything together I guess.

Upcycling bead kits
»Bead Kits: I think I was six years old when I received this bead kit for Christmas. The sheer possibility of all the bead combinations was so overwhelming, I could barely even begin to use anything, therefore, it sat in the back of my closet for years virtually untouched. Recently, I had the idea to use it as a jewelry holder when I have enough jewelry to need more storage. Each tier is a box with segmented cubicles to keep everything separated, and the plastic lid makes it visible. I'm fine with the purple framework that holds the trays together, but a cute idea would be to paint it over with silver or gold paint, or perhaps stripes for a slightly fancier look.

Upcycling Ferrero Rocher Cases
»Ferrero Rocher Cases: These make a great small items holder or jewelry box as well. I'm currently using it to hold a few leftover chocolates, earrings, necklaces, and other small items. It looks decent but I can't get rid of the giant Ferrero Rocher logo on the lid, and the small gold sticker in the corner isn't easily removed either. The big ones aren't so easy to come by, so I use a smaller one to hold office supplies like erasers and paper clips on top of an upcycled tissue box (for general storage and extra desk space). The plastic segmenting inside can also be removed and used as a paint palette to hold individual colors.

»Mason Jars: I don't know if this counts because mason jars are used for storage anyway. I recently acquired an old one that my friend used to hold string, and I thought I'd make it into a pencil holder. It only fits a few pens so I'm using two separate containers to store all of them. I have too many at the moment, but in college it'll be more consolidated to only hold my most commonly used supplies, if I decide to keep it that long (gotta have that Pinterest aesthetic).

I have a few short posts lined up, scheduled to post, but I don't know when the next time I'll be able to write a new post is. The end of the summer will be busy, as I'm cleaning up at work, setting up for next year's middle school speech program, packing up and buying things for college, and beginning freshman year. I know I want to start a more regular posting schedule in college, with more diverse content and a more professional look across social media. I'm very excited but unsure about what the next few months will look like, so I don't want to overplan things (contrary to my nature). It'll be an adventure, and I'm going to see where life takes me. ◊

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Inside Out, Outside In

So it finally happened: I broke the per-two-day posting streak. It's rather unfortunately since it's near the end of the month, and I could have maintained it for an entire month, but I'll try again in the future. I've fixed it by posting a short #obsessed music update retroactively (I've had that song in mind for a while, and I would have posted it eventually) and a short reaction post. Work's been tiring, but that's not why the posts have been a bit on the edge of the per-two-days lately. I've been working on updating the themes of my Tumblr blogs up to thirteen hours a day, which is absolutely ridiculous now that I think of it; it completely messed up my sleep schedules and skincare routines, so my skin is a bit out of whack right now. It was such a slow process because the problem is that I don’t actually understand code – I just delete and replace values until it looks like what I want. The rate at which I was going could have been achieved by a monkey mashing a typewriter, but all eight blogs have themes that finally look like what I want and I am 99% satisfied with, even if the code is very, very messy. I just hid the error parts and I still don’t know whats wrong, but it's all good now, so I'd call that a success.

In addition to that, I'm in a very good mood right now because just finished a huge upcycling spree (a post on that later); I'm really embracing that "clean hippie" lifestyle as described by Diana.

 I watched Pixar's Inside Out at mall with Wei-Wei and picked up a few items of makeup and clothing. After this trip I literally have no cash left save a jar of change. Of course, it wasn't all spent on clothes, a lot of the time it's the tiny miscellaneous expenses like lunch out with friends that really add up. I like spending money but I hate not having money, so I swear I'm never going to buy anything ever again (an obvious lie but I'm frustrated that I don't have unlimited funds).

I've been meaning to do this post for ages, and it's probably about a month late by now (oh well). Somewhere in the crossed out text it mentions watching Inside Out and buying things. I also never got around to explaining the "beauty" goal this year, for many reasons, which is why I delayed writing this post for such a long time. I wanted adequate time to reflect and write down my thoughts, so here it finally is, after a quick clothing haul/review/thingy. I'm just going to use stock images from the website for some of these because I don't feel like "modeling" the pieces and they don't look good flat.

DeMasqe reopened so I bought three more plain v-neck tops, in blue, light grey, and dark grey. I already have a dark grey v-neck and a blue round neck, but these tops are super plain and versatile, so you can never have too many. I know when later on in the semester at college when I don't have the energy to coordinate outfits and all I want is to be able to grab a clean shirt and go, these will be my go to pieces. Already, I've begun to wear them as my "generic functioning human being" outfits. (3 for $10)

I also finally got a chambray top! They're still expensive, even at DeMasqe, but I think it was worth it. I went back with Diana a few days after I bought it and they were already sold out. It literally goes with everything, and it's so cute and warm. The sleeves also unbutton to become a long sleeve shirt, perfect for transitioning from day to night. ($20)

I went into Cotton On for the first time. They have so many cute (but expensive) clothes. There was stuff on sale, but the only thing that caught my eye was this giant cardigan thing (not on sale sadly). It's so soft! I'm wearing it a couple posts down in my birthday post if you want to see what it looks like on me (kind of, it's not very clear in the picture). The only downside is that I bought a size small instead of extra small, so it falls down my shoulders a lot, and the material is very holey, so it gets caught on things if you're not careful. I nearly fell over because the bottom got caught on a nail as I was rounding a corner, and the stretchy material didn't snap back until a few seconds later. I am a bit worried that it's going to wear out very quickly if it keeps snagging onto things. I can see myself wearing it lot in the fall as a quick, throw-on item to finish off an outfit, or to lounge around in. ($20)

I didn't buy these at the mall myself, they're a pair of black shorts from H&M that Diana bought for me when she went to the mall. They have a high waist and such a nice fit on Diana, but the leg holes are a bit too large for my thighs. Still, they make a nice staple item in any wardrobe. ($13)

And finally, a $1 grey knit circle scarf shaped like a mobius strip! I don't know if I'm ever going to wear it, so I might include it in a giveaway sometime in the future (I've started collecting little items that I can use for one of those, so maybe by this winter I'll finally do one).

Friday, July 17, 2015

#obsessed: i believe – Christina Perri

I may have been introduced to this song a long time ago by Wei-Wei, but I'm not quite sure if it was this one or another Christina Perri song; I recently rediscovered this song through the trailer for the new Pan movie (looks great, except Rooney Mara plays Tiger Lily, which is absolutely ridiculous). Only the last few lines are used in the trailer and they have been echoing in my head for days, so I finally looked it up. It's such a pure sounding song, both in the background chords and vocals.

Other than enjoying the beautiful music, I am particularly keen on meaningful lyrics.
"And I believe that the darkness reminds us where light can be
I know that your heart is still beating, beating, darling."
"'Cause I have been where you are before
And I have felt the pain of losing who you are
And I have died so many times, but I am still alive
I believe that tomorrow is stronger than yesterday
And I believe that your head is the only thing in your way
I wish that you could see your scars turn into beauty
I believe that today it's okay to be not okay."
To provide some context, a quick update. This summer has been off. It's nowhere near as exciting as I thought it would be, but there's still enough stuff to do that I can't relax. I've been okay for a while now, happy even, but the absence of a struggle becomes a struggle in itself. Happiness feels shallow and meaningless. The ridiculous thing about having had depression for such a long time is that it is familiar, comfortable. With depression, one's being is filled with a sense of emptiness, but what happens when there isn't even emptiness to fill you? Add to that the fact that my parents are threatening to kick me out, and an insidious, choking anxiety begins to grow as well. It doesn't help that this is making me paranoid about losing friends and overanalyzing every social interaction. I can't help but think that people are changing, and I'm stuck in a limbo. But I don't want to be depressed, I just want something. Essentially, this:
The start of college is also ticking closer and closer, and I am worried (needless to say I worry about everything, but this especially so). I worry about keeping in touch with my friends through the next few years, I worry about keeping them safe here and now, and I worry about my own future experiences. I've been a good child, I've made it through high school without ever touching a single drop of alcohol, without a single drug or cut, but see, there is no gold star for doing everything right. Instead, I've developed a paralyzing fear of breaking the rules, to the point where I get panic attacks whenever someone even mentions illegal activity, and this is not how it was supposed to be. It was supposed to be better this way, I was supposed to be better this way, but now all I feel is alienated from the rest of society. It has become a part of my character, and in this regard I cannot relate to my closest friends, and it terrifies me making the "right" decisions will be my greatest insecurity.

I'm torn between fighting the void and giving in to the void, and once again, indecision keeps me from moving forward with my life. I wish there was a process to reconcile between maintaining my squeaky clean personality and not being triggered by illicit substances, but I'm just not there yet. There's a lot of sitting and thinking and contemplating to be done, but adult life is catching up, and the flood of forms and fears is getting in the way. Someday I'll have this all figured out, but for now I can only try my best and hope that it's enough. Enough of what, I do not know, but whatever it is, I hope it is enough. ◊

BONUS (follow me on Tumblr):

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Thoughts About E.L.F.

e.l.f. has been my go-to makeup brand for a while now, and now that I pretty much have a full basic makeup set (all the makeup that I think I could need for now at least) I thought it might be a good time to share some reflections about my experience with their products. First and foremost, if you don't know already, e.l.f. is (or was) ridiculously cheap for their basic items, though their new products are more of a normal price. Despite the price, it's mostly good quality (there are very few products I've ever been dissatisfied with, one being the Essential Liquid Eyeliner [$1], which is no longer sold).

One of the best things about this company is their customer service. A while ago, I ordered the Studio Lip Exfoliator ($3), one on their best-selling products. I was very happy with it until about third time using it, when it suddenly broke at the base. I emailed their customer service and was happily shocked when they emailed back the next day, offering to send a replacement and a $5 gift card to apologize for the inconvenience.

In contrast to previous customer service experiences with companies like Revlon, which I never heard back from, or Neutrogena, which mailed me a voucher to redeem in-store for a new product, I am thoroughly impressed with how above and beyond e.l.f.'s customer service is to make their customers feel valued. When I had an issue with an order, the livechat workers resolved my problem in minutes.

I didn't know when the online gift card expired, and there were some products I had my eye on, so I decided to use it as soon as possible. Little did I know, there was a deal for no minimum free shipping on June 30, so my $5 order ended up costing 45¢ for tax. I felt kind of bad for not paying anything at all, but this encourages me to keep shopping with e.l.f. in the future. By Monday, July 6, I had received my replacement Lip Exfoliator, the $3 Eyebrow Kit in Medium, and the $2 Eyelid Primer in Sheer (no swatches because the pictures turned out grainy).

Friday, July 10, 2015

There Is Such A Thing As Too Many Donuts

Krispy Kreme was having a special sale today for their 78th birthday, in which they were selling a dozen regular glazed donuts for 78¢ after the purchase of any other dozen donuts. Naturally, Diana and I had to take advantage of a sale like this, so off we went. What we were going to do with two dozen donuts, we did not know, but the fact was that they must be bought. Diana needed to buy the fancy ones for her family, so I got the plain ones and traded two of them (she liked the plain ones).

I ate four of them on the car ride home.

I don't even remember eating them. I just remember counting up the damage and four were gone. I have pretty good impulse control for pretty much everything except food, so I can't even say I was that surprised, but four donuts in thirty(?) minutes is still pretty overkill. I ate the strawberry sprinkle when I got to her house, and the rest I forced myself to pack away and bring home. They were definitely delicious, but I can hear my arteries screaming, "No more, no more!" so I'm going to try to stay away from sweets for a while (probably not going to be successful, but it's the thought that counts, right?) ◊

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I am Adult

I am adult now. Incredible. I have real responsibilities and taxes. I am also very tired because of work, so I'm just going to keep this brief. I don't have much to say anyhow; adulthood has been thus uneventful.

My birthday was actually Tuesday, which meant I was at work most of the day. Mrs. B surprised me with an incredible cake, which we had for snack with the kids. They all sang Happy Birthday, all 42 kids and 22 volunteers, and it was the most incredible thing. I'm so grateful to have a job where I am inspired every day and to have such an amazing mentor.

Tumblr small child also gave me many gifts including a beautiful collage. My keychain is also well endowed now. The bracelet was too big so I'm using it as a water bottle decal for now until I can figure out how to wear it. Other miscellaneous items include a purple cat silly band and a card. Thank you child.

Later Diana took me to Yogurtland to celebrate, and I took artsy pictures of the froyo.

That's about it. I could have written a more in depth reaction type musings post, but honestly, I'm just tired and I wanted to document it somehow. Thank you to everyone for the birthday wishes, including expos small child (if you see this let me know if it's okay to use your name in posts). ◊

Friday, July 3, 2015

I'm Not Okay Right Now

I’ve lost it. Well technically I didn’t lose it, my little sister stole it from my room and lent it to her friend who promptly lost it – my beloved Hyperbole and a Half book. When I noticed it was missing I asked my sister about it and she said it was in her possession so I didn’t think much of it, assuming she meant to read it and would promptly give it back. It wasn’t until weeks later and a partial mental breakdown on my part that she finally admitted that she had given it to a friend and it was lost. Here’s why that matters.

First of all, I was deeply disappointed that she would take something without asking. Second of all, I was shocked that she would lend it to someone that I didn’t know without my permission. And third, this particular book is one of my most prized possessions. If this book and my laptop were both about to be thrown into a furnace and I could only choose one to save, I'd save the book. It was given to me by a friend for my birthday last year after a particularly difficult time mental health wise and it has a letter of support written inside it.

As a person with a summer birthday and parents who don’t approve of birthday parties, this was huge for me, the fact that someone would take the time to go out of their way to buy me a book, write a letter in it, and give it to me for my birthday. It was the one item other than the clothes on my back and a dead cell phone that I brought with me when I was 5150'd to a psychiatric hospital last July after an extremely bad panic attack caused by my mother throwing a suitcase at me. It’s been invaluable to calming me down when I have anxiety. It was one of the few things that could truly cheer me up a bit when I had depression. In short, I consider it essential to my mental health. And now it's gone, by no fault of my own.

Clearly, no one here has it, but here is my dilemma: if I don’t have this book, I'd be missing a key piece of my mental health support system. If I have a replacement copy that my sister's friend offered to buy, it will be tainted with the memory of this incident and there’s no way that it’d be of any help that way. The only ways I can think of this situation being resolved is if the book is found and returned to me (the likelihood of which is probably slim by now) or if the original friend buys another copy, writes a letter, and gives it to me for my birthday (obviously I couldn’t ask her to do that).

If you think I’m overreacting, you’re probably right. If your only response is, “So what it's a published book just get over it,” well I wish I could. I really wish this wouldn’t affect me at all and I could just forget about it but I can’t. Eventually, I will have no choice but to accept that it is gone and there is nothing I can do, but at the moment, I feel like I've had a piece of my soul ripped from me, or a pet stolen and killed. It feels like the moment when Wanda realizes Pietro is dead, and she can do nothing but scream her anger and sorrow and shock. As I'm going to be going to college for the first time this fall, I won’t have that support system of friends to keep me afloat on bad days. I was going to bring this book with me to college to help with anxiety, but now it's gone, I'm utterly distraught, and I can't do anything about it except to listen to loud music to distract myself and to rant about it online in hopes of catharsis from even a fraction of the pain. I'm not okay right now and I don't know what to do. ◊