Friday, August 28, 2015

Food Friday #016 – Crepes-A-Go-Go

This is my first Food Friday post in quite a while, but I'm hoping to make this series a weekly thing since Berkeley is known for its unique eateries. Crepes-A-Go-Go has been one of my favorites every time I've visited Berkeley. It's a small place on the southside of campus, on Telegraph Ave. There is also one on Northside, but I have not yet visited it.

The shop sells both savory crepes and sweet crepes, as well as breakfast plates. I personally prefer the sweet crepes, especially for breakfast, but the savory crepes are great for lunch on the go. If you go to Berkeley, this is definitely a must-visit! ◊

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

First Day of Classes

Today was the first day of classes. There's not much to talk about, but it is a milestone in my life, so at least wanted to write down something. Wednesdays are actually my busiest days, with three two-hour classes, but not really. The first class is a 10AM discussion that is allotted two hours of time, but is actually only about an hour long, with the second hour available as office hours. This gives me enough time to go get lunch before my second class of the day, Classics R44. That one is also slightly shorter than the allotted two hours, which gives me a bigger break before my last class of the day, SOC3AC, a large sociology lecture.

All three of these classes are on the Northside, so I did a lot of walking back and forth today. However, Northside also has a Trader Joe's and Target, so I went in and bought a few groceries and supplies. I now have a nice set of pens to use to color code and whatnot (though I think Pilot pens, especially the 0.7 ones, are out of style now). A bus conveniently takes me back to Unit Two.

I wanted to go back to my room and record all my due dates in my planner and calendar, but a floormate was rounding up people to go to dinner, so I thought, why not? I met a few new people and had a decent time, before heading up to my room once again. There, a friend texted me asking if I wanted to hang out. Lately I've been worried about not having enough of a social life in college, so again, I went, and had a great time. Later, once the semester picks up, I'll have even less time to hang out with friends, so I'm trying to take advantage of what time I have right now. I already have 80 pages of reading due by Monday! I still have yet to fall into a tight knit squad, but there's still the rest of semester for that.

I know this update isn't as exciting, but I wanted to memorialize the first official day of college somehow. I've been doing pretty well, and that's all for now. ◊

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dorm Decor Tips and Tricks

Exciting things have been happening lately: I hit 100 followers on my main Tumblr account (after more than a year, but still exciting nonetheless), my desk picture hit 1,000 notes on my college sideblog, and subsequently that account also has almost 100 followers. This blogspot account also hit 10,000 pageviews! I want to do a follow forever for my main account and a perhaps a giveaway for my college sideblog. I'm not sure what I will be doing here yet, or if I should even do anything at all. Classes are about to start and things are going to be busy, so we'll see how it goes.

Anyhow, since that picture of my study area was so popular, I wanted to share some advice and hacks on dorm decor. I am currently residing in a triple mini-suite, which houses three people, has its own bathroom, and is much more spacious than most dorm rooms. Some of these tips might not work for other dorm rooms, but they're just ideas if you're looking for inspiration.

»Gooseneck Lamp
I highly recommend gooseneck lamps if you're still looking for a light source to take to college. They're are quite literally flexible in every direction. I have one that clamps on to a bookshelf between my desk and my bed, so I can use it to light both.

One of my favorite parts of my room design is this small set of curtains that I attached to the head of my bed. Their use is threefold. First, they block some of the light coming in from the window in the morning, as well as my roommate's lamp when she stays up late, so it helps me sleep. Secondly, they diffuse the light coming from the lamp when it's pointed at my bed, so it's not as harsh and instead is a soft, warm glow. Lastly, they provide cover, so people can't see in to my desk from my door. I value my privacy, so this was important to me, but if you're a more public person and you want people to know when you're in, this might not be the best choice for you.

As you may have noticed, this is the only image in this post right now. I'll take more tomorrow when I have better natural lighting.

»Scrapbook Paper
As this building is in California, an area prone to earthquakes, much of the building is concrete. Unfortunately, bare concrete is not the most attractive material for a wall. However, wallpaper can be considered a fire hazard, so for a neutral way to cover up small patches of visible concrete, I used double sided tape to attach two squares of scrapbook paper. It brightens up the place and it gives me a place to stick post-it notes.

»Brightly Colored Rug
If you have a large room, I would recommend bringing an area rug to brighten things up. Dorm floors are mostly clean, but they still look drab. A soft area rug is also nice in the morning when you wake up, and you want your feet to hit something soothing, rather than hard, scratchy floor. My room currently does not have one, so the center of the room is a dull, empty square, so I plan on buying one.

»Hanging Hooks
Dorm rooms are usually pretty small, so you have to be creative with your space. My main storage problem is bags, as I have brought what is probably too many bags. These hanging hooks were given to me by a teacher so I don't know where you can find them, but they're super simple to use and very convenient. All of my bags stay upright and structured, not crushed, and they don't take up much space either.

»Color Coordination
I find that I like studying more when I have a well composed work space. One simple way to do that is to plan ahead and coordinate your colors. My bathroom set is primarily sunny yellow. You can also add in a secondary color. As of right now, my desk is primarily teal/aqua/turquoise and secondarily pink. If you can't do that, neutral colors like black, white, and grey always work. My bed is primarily purple and secondarily white/grey. Also, my closet is primarily neutral with a few colored accent pieces just because it makes it so much easier to coordinate outfits in the morning.

Another short piece of advice is to bring double sided tape. Pins are great if you have soft corkboard walls, like the one I have beside my bed, but for other materials like concrete or cinderblock, pins don't work, so double sided tape will save the day. For larger things like whiteboards, command hooks work excellently (but make sure you follow all of the instructions on how to use them).

I would also recommend bringing more posters! Whether they broadcast your interests, or are simply for aesthetic, they easily cover up large spaces. If you don't have space, that's fine, as flat posters are easy to store.

I'll be posting a room tour vlog soon so you can see these things in action, and I'll make sure to upload more photos here once I have the chance. Hopefully this was useful to you in some way! ◊

Monday, August 24, 2015

MDIP – Welcome Week

The last few days have gone by in a blur. I know this is supposed to be a "My Day In Pictures" post, but I can no longer remember which event happened what day, so it's all going in one post.

The first event was Caltopia. Basically, student organizations and local businesses gather together to give people free things in order to advertise their business. I had my first Ben and Jerry's ice cream, and my food drawer is now fully stocked.

Next up is The Big Night. This is the first year Berkeley held this event, so to be honest, it was very poorly planned. The speeches were long and hard to understand in an echo-ey gym, and the performances were off to the side while the main floor was empty. However, the band was very good and did their best to entertain everyone.

I also went exploring around Berkeley for a bit. The food here is one of the main attractions, so of course we (referring to my roommates and suitemates) had to try a bit of everything. A Food Friday post will be going up soon; I'm hoping to feature one restaurant every week. We also tried the dining hall food. In my opinion, the flavors are decent, but the textures can be strange.

Lastly was New Student Convocation. The entire freshman class and the new transfers all trekked up to the Greek Theater for more speeches and a band performance again. Again, the speeches were pretty boring and you couldn't hear much from the top of the stadium, but it was cool to see everyone in one place.

That's about it for now, it's pretty late so I think I'm going to sleep. Hello to all the new readers of the blog! Most of you are probably here from Tumblr, and for the next few weeks I'll be posting a lot about Berkeley and college life. Hopefully you find it interesting and stick around; if there are certain things you'd like to see more of let me know in the comments! ◊

Saturday, August 22, 2015

MDIP – Moving in to COLLEGE!

I'm going to say, right off the bat, that I am about to explode with excitement. I can feel my legs quivering and I can't stop it. I'm the only person in the room right now because one roommate has to go back to her hotel, and the other is at Target buying a few last supplies. I have jumped around with joy and I'm only refraining from screaming because the window is open.

The morning was off to a rocky start, as my parents argued about which car to take and where to eat and all the other things parents argue about. I said goodbye to Larry (I will miss him dearly, but I will not miss having cat fur everywhere), and we were off, parents still arguing. Nevertheless, by lunchtime everything was smoothed out, and I was at In-N-Out eating what was perhaps my last In-N-Out burger in a long time (I can't believe they don't have an In-N-Out at Berkeley).

In-N-Out Cheeseburger

An hour of mild traffic later, we were here. And then began the unpacking. I thought I was overpacked, but it turns out, the room is humongous and I am woefully underpacked. Luckily, I have to go back to San Jose in a month for a doctor's appointment, so I can pick up some more jackets that I left behind.

I am so incredibly happy right now. This is everything I wanted and then some. Hopefully I don't screw up too badly too soon, because I am really enjoying this so far. The room is incredibly spacious, I nabbed the bottom bunk (though it's a bit shorter than I would have liked), and the desk area has really great natural lighting. I should head out to get some dinner now! ◊

Friday, August 21, 2015

#obsessed: Renegades – X Ambassadors

I don't remember when I first heard this song. A friend might have played it once, or a Google search suggests that it was used in a Ford commercial (though I don't watch TV, so that's unlikely). Anyhow, it does make a good commercial song, as it's been playing through my head for days.

It's a simple tune with simple lyrics, written for the purpose of accompanying the Ford commercial. Nevertheless, it inspires adventure and wanderlust (good choice for a car commercial then). I'm going to college tomorrow; this is the first song on the soundtrack of my next adventure. ◊

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Back to School Haul!

As mentioned in my last post, I went back to school shopping! I actually bought most of the essentials a while ago, or I'm just going to bring stuff I already have, so the only things left were: 1) shoes, and 2) accessories! My sister and mom both happen to have the same shoe size as me so my shoes get worn by everyone and wear out far too quickly. The only day-to-day wear shoes I had were a pair of off-white flats that were starting to look beat up. I also wanted a small backpack and some nice notebooks. I've decided that my bed will have a purple theme, my desk will have a turquoise/tea/aqua theme, and the bathroom will have a sunshine yellow theme. [Links are included when available, original price in strikethrough.]

First store was Ross. The main goal here was shoes, but as my feet are tiny, they did not have a huge selection. However, bags were abundant so I bought a small backpack.

»U.S. Polo Assn. Athletic Sneakers [$30 $20]: They're super lightweight and comfy; I'm not a hardcore runner or strenuous exerciser so these suit me quite nicely. They're also plain enough that I can get away with wearing them as normal shoes with sweats on a lazy day if need be.

Unionbay Navy Ditzy Daisy Backpack
»Unionbay Navy Ditzy Daisy Backpack [$40 $16]: The difference between this and a standard Jansport is that it is slightly smaller, there are no zippers, and there are two side pockets for water bottles. There is also a small zip pouch attached to the top of the inside. I don't know if this will be the backpack I use during college (I also have an oversized tote and my old Jansport), but I definitely will use it frequently.

Next store was TJ Maxx and HomeGoods. The two stores are connected at the location in the Almaden Plaza, but I don't know if that's how it is at other places. HomeGoods is probably my new favorite store now; they have so many interesting and pretty decorations. There were so many decorative boxes on those shelves; I wanted to buy everything, but I probably wouldn't have space to use them in a dorm. I ended up only buying notebooks but I am more than happy with that.

Purple "Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost" Softcover Notebook

»Purple "Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost" Softcover Notebook [$5]: I saw this on a shelf and I knew I had to get it for a Tolkien loving friend. The inside has a really pretty bluish teal thin chevron design and a white ribbon bookmark. I love the shade of purple, but I'm not a huge Tolkien fan, so I hope she likes it!

Carpe Diem Hardcover Notebook

»Carpe Diem Hardcover Notebook [$4]: This fits right in with the teal desk theme, and it matches a gold and teal pen I received from my college counselor at the end of senior year. The picture doesn't quite accurately depict the color, it's more greenish than sky-blue.

"Keep Calm and Organize" Notepad

»"Keep Calm and Organize" Notepad [$4]: I saw this on the shelf and instantly loved it so much; I had to have it. Now I, too, can be an artsy studyblr!

Grey Hardcover Notebook with Teal Accents

»Grey Hardcover Notebook with Teal Accents [$4]: I intended to buy this to give to a friend for their birthday (though I was very, very tempted to keep it for myself while I was in the store); when I got home, I remembered that I had already bought that friend a gift (see previous post) and I was able to keep it! It's a very elegant little notebook. The cover has an interesting texture, and the page edges are teal. There is a rubber band to keep it shut, and a teal ribbon for a bookmark. There is also a small envelope pocket in the back for storage of random notes.

I probably didn't need all these notebooks (I have so many unused ones already at home) but I justified it by convincing myself that it would have been cheaper than an equivalent number of Moleskine notebooks. Besides, notebooks don't spoil, so even if I don't use these this year, they're still usable in the future. You can never have too many notebooks. Likewise, you can never have too much nail polish. I had heard that TJ Maxx has discounted name brand nail polish, so I knew I had to check it out. They don't have a huge selection but I still found something that I like.

O.P.I. Nail Polish Two-Pack: Dawn Patrol and Make Reservations

»O.P.I. Nail Polish Two-Pack [$20 $6]: O.P.I. polishes usually retail for about $10 a pop, so I saved about $14 getting this set. On the left is Dawn Patrol, a dark uneven glitter and on the right is Make Reservations, a slightly shimmery hot pink. Both of them seem to be discontinued.

TJ Maxx didn't have a good selection of shoes in my size either, so finally we went to Target. It's amazing what the right pair of shoes can do for your confidence, and I was so happy with what I found here.

Merona Women's Terri Booties - Black Size 6

»Merona Women's Terri Booties - Black Size 6 [$35 $18]: These were originally $35 but they happened to be on sale for 20% off. I also had a $5 off coupon for shoes over $20 and then a $5 gift card, so in the end I spent about $18 for these and I love them so much. Wedge booties have been one of my top styles on Pinterest for a while now. They fit my feet perfectly and are quite well balanced.

Mossimo Supply Co. Women's Lenia Sneakers

»Mossimo Supply Co. Women's Lenia Sneakers [$20]: Plain grey sneakers are must because they go with every outfit and are comfortable all day. However, I'm regretting these a lot because Payless had a sale that was two pairs for $30, but I was too lazy to go return them. They're a good brand so I might as well keep them, but now they're on sale on the Target website too.

Lastly, I bought a small, black, lacy bralette. It only goes well with one tank top I have at the moment, but they're a lot cooler temperature-wise than most bras, so it's good under t-shirts in the summer too. It was more expensive than I had hoped at $17 but it was far less expensive than those at specialty stores. It's not exactly my size; I normally wear a 32B so I thought a 34A would fit but it's still slightly big. No picture because it looks like a shapeless scrap without wearing it, and I can't find it online. Finally, this is crossed this off my bucketlist!

Overall, I'd say it was a mildly successful shopping spree. I bought pretty much everything I wanted, but I didn't get the best deals on everything. You win some, you lose some. In total, with tax, I spent around $130, which is probably more than I'd normally spend, but not heartbreakingly expensive either.  ◊

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Presenting the Presentation of Presents

My last post was about ten days ago, so this is the longest I've gone without posting for a while now, but not without good cause. High school started again, and even though I don't go to Leland anymore, it still means more work, preparing both the middle school program and helping out with high school things. I also have so many things to do to prepare for college, getting ready to leave and whatnot, so I've been dead tired running around the last few days. Again, I've fallen into a cycle of sleeping late and taking naps frequently, which I hope to fix before going to college. However, one good thing has come out of all the college hassle – back to school shopping.

I. Love. Shopping. And back to school shopping is my favorite kind of shopping. My bank account does not love shopping, but since I just received my first paycheck, I figured I could afford to splurge a little. I didn't earn as much as I thought I had (because taxes) so to save money, it was off to the discount stores. However, in doing so, I have found my new favorite store – HomeGoods (connected to the TJ Maxx in the Almaden Plaza). I also went to Ross and Target, so a haul on those will be posted soon.

This is the start of the last week of summer for me (I move in on Saturday) so I wanted to do something special. The plan was to make pancakes, dress up nice, wrap presents, and write a few blog posts. It worked out for the most part, but my morning started off with a horrible stomachache as I got up and headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth. I don't know if it was something I ate or just cramps, but pretty soon I couldn't see or hear clearly because of the pain. My sight was staticky, like the old-timey black and white tv error screens, and all I could hear was white noise. I managed to stumble back into my room, and I think I either almost lost consciousness or did lose consciousness. My skin felt tingly and hot, so all I could do was manage to slide onto the coldish floor and lie there for a while. It felt like I didn't have enough blood in my body to circulate everywhere at once (I do have very low blood pressure), so I elevated my legs on a piece of nearby furniture, which helped a little. After that I think I fell asleep, and then I was perfectly fine again, if quite a bit shaken. It was the scariest thing I've handled by myself, I don't know what it was, and I really hope it doesn't happen again.

Despite that anomaly, I decided to proceed as planned. First up was pancakes. They're the one food that I can make perfectly, and this time was no different. I'm actually quite proud to say that I no longer need to precisely measure out the mix and the water to get a satisfactory consistency; I just eyeball it. And I don't burn them anymore! Since I was out of whipped cream and maple syrup, vanilla bean ice cream and honey made suitable replacements. I'm pleased to say that it tasted as good as it looks!

After going through what clothes I have left over to figure out which ones need to be washed before college and which ones were still wearable (everything was a mess on my bed because I'd packed up my hamper already), I moved on to the third thing: wrapping presents. A friend's birthday was last Friday, and I bought a fancy notebook that I thought another friend would really like. I didn't have wrapping paper so I improvised with tissue paper and I think it turned out pretty well. The box is actually just a plain shoebox. I don't know if you can tell, but I used whiteout to cover the brand of the shoe on the lid, and wrapped the bottom of it with tissue paper. White tissue paper on the inside also covers up the cardboard. I love wrapping up presents nicely because I feel like it shows the effort that went into the present more than the present itself. Plus, they look cute af.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

#obsessed: Ways to Go – GROUPLOVE

I found this song written in my notes on my phone. Wei-Wei had played it in her car when I tagged along with her catsitting adventure. I didn't remember it at all, but I thought I'd give it a chance; I was instantly dancing around my room. It was a little past midnight, and I probably looked like a fool jamming out by myself, but it was such a feeling of pure happiness. The world was still and I was alone. No one was there to judge me – it was just me and the music. It's the kind of song you stand out of car sunroofs for, and make silly indie music videos dancing out on the hills at sunset with your friends.

Summer is starting to wrap up nicely; I mailed off my forms, finished my summer reading, bought some new books, and checked out some more comics. I've even finished up most of my packing, though now I'm starting regret it because I still need some of the things I packed away (I guess I'm a little overeager). I love this song because it reminds me of that eagerness and excitement, like the first day of third grade, a new start as a big kid. I keep reminding myself that this isn't just the end of a phase of my life, it's the start of a new beginning, and I've still got a ways to go. ◊

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


It is somehow August already. Summer is coming to an end, and college is coming very, very soon. The nights are alternatively hot and cold, so my ceiling fan settings are never quite right. I was thinking about ceiling fans the other day, how I am lucky to have one. When I was much smaller, I'd visit friends' houses; they'd all have ceiling fans and it was something they took for granted, nothing special at all. Another day, I made lunch, and I was so entranced to realize that my quesadilla had chili and avocado. Avocado! It was so small a thing, yet so drastically different than what I was accustomed to. There was a time when I would not have believed that was possible for me. I can't pinpoint why I thought it would have been impossible, or perhaps it's unusual for any person, but it made me realize how I am oh-so-fortunate to live in the situation I am in, for the most part. As much as things could be better, they could also be far worse, so again, it's all a matter of perspective. Make the changes you can make, accept the things you can't.

It hasn't really felt like summer. Work takes up most of my days. It's the exact same thing I've been doing the past two years for free, but now I'm getting paid for it. It makes it feel like a really long weekend, rather than summer vacation. I wake up whenever I want to, I eat ice cream whenever I want to, and I sleep whenever I want to, and repeat it all the next day. Today I'm having a root beer float, in a last-ditch attempt to quickly catch up on all my missed childhood before I enter the "real world" as an adult. They are few and far between, as most root beers are sold in large packs or 2-liter bottles. I had forgotten how good they are.

I'm stretching myself thin, trying to live in the past, present, and future. I've downsized my social media platforms in preparation for college. I haven't logged on to my personal Facebook in days (and to be honest, I'm actually enjoying the time off, though I fear I will need it again for convenience in college). I combined several Tumblr sideblogs, such as my space blog and art ref blog, and I've absorbed my aesthetic blog and fashion blog into my main blog. I'm still not sure which blog I want to use as my main blog. My current main blog is now about 40% aesthetic, 40% trash posts, and 20% social justice/other, so it's the one I use the most. I want to keep it because it's a one word url, which are hard to come by. However, I did claim "realhayleyatwell" to use as my fandom blog url, which is the closest I will get to having a canon url (realhayleyatwell is the real Hayley Atwell's Instagram handle). The claryjsimmons account is reserved for original content, so I know I won't be using it very much, but it's also a candidate for main blog position, for obvious reasons. Anyhow, I'm thinking out loud and rambling. The point was to mention something about tinkering at the code for the themes. It does make me very happy when something turns out exactly as I want it, but the process is so frustrating, and therefore I know I do not want to be a compsci major. I wouldn't have the patience to make something entirely new, only readjustments. But that is enough to satisfy me; it is more than enough to improve with little steps.

I was mulling over why I chose a pseudonym for my online presence. It seems a bit conceited and strange to me, and I always feel awkward explaining how it works to a friend. "Yes, that is me, but not really. Am I changing my name? Well, probably not. Yea, I don't know." I guess it is in part due to the fact that I want to be a special snowflake. My real name is surprisingly common, and I was always annoyed at having to tack on numbers and special punctuation to make a username. This one is clean, fresh, new, and unspoiled. It is all mine, nobody else's, and especially not my parents'. It is a unitary identity, consistent over every social media platform (speaking of which, I made an Instagram). It gives me a sense of control and cohesiveness.

Yet somehow, this ideation is inconsistent with who I think I am. I am indecisive, and since I was much smaller, I've never been able to choose a single identity. I wanted to be a marine biologist, and an interior designer, and a business owner, and a teacher. I wanted to be American, and Chinese, and a very small part of me wanted to move to Canada and become Canadian. Is it possible to reconcile all of these things?

I applied as a political science major, and in a few semesters, if all goes according to plan, I will declare it and work towards a degree in it. Like many, I can't help but be plagued with doubts over if it is the right decision. Berkeley has neither a public policy major nor an education major, so I am worried that polisci isn't the major that is most aligned with my goals.

Then there's the issue of goals outside of education. Formal schooling is a common struggle that unites all students, and a while ago I started to analyze my friendships and I feared that I had nothing in common with the people I called my friends. Perhaps it is true that we are not alike, or had few shared interests. That's what keeps it interesting. But at the same time, I hope to meet people in college who share my likes and dislikes to the same degree that I do.

It is August, almost time for college, and I have not learned Morse code, become fluent in Spanish, achieved ambidexterity, read all the Tolkien books, gotten my license, dyed my hair, or bought an iPad yet. There is still time, but I think it's time I realized that I need to take things slow. I can't possibly do everything. I'm very much so an instant gratification type of person, but the problem with a fast paced life is that everything passes so quickly. It's time to dial down the speed and savor things. By the end of this post now, I've already forgotten how good an ice cream float is again. But then again, perhaps it is better to keep things moving. ◊