New Video: PhD Hair, Make-Up Tips and Tricks: a How To Survive Finals Parody

I hope you enjoy my first stab at comedy...parodying all of those younger gurus who do the "How to Survive Finals Week" videos. :) No meanness intended, this is just supposed to be a bit of fun.

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New York--Days 3 & 4

The past few days in NYC have been a whirlwind of seeing shows, hanging out with old friends and eating, eating and EATING. As I'm writing this (Thursday), we are having a chill day in the apartment my dear friend from grad school (grad school Round 1, I should say) so kindly lent us for the week. We just ordered food (Luke was overwhelmed by all the choices they can just bring to your door here) and are watching the USA vs Germany match in Spanish as she doesn't get ESPN. Football is the same in any language, anyway, right?

On Tuesday, Luke and I caught up with a friend I went to NYU with before heading over to the Longacre Theater to see Of Mice and Men. Even though I am a true theater lover, it has been far too long since I've graced the Great White Way with the presence of my bum in a seat. It was pretty good, although I was very excited to find out that O'Neill from Orange is the New Black was in it (speaking of which, I have now gotten Luke into it!). Despite Leighton Meester, James Franco and Chris O'Dowd, I think both Luke and my favorite part of the play was Candy's dog. She is played by a 14-year-old rescue named Violet.
Of Mice and Men marquee
Violet (who plays Candy's Dog in Of Mice and Men) chilling with her understudy. Credit: NY Daily News
Wednesday had us meeting an old friend for lunch, before rushing over to see Alan Cumming in Cabaret. Cabaret likely wouldn't be the first play Luke would choose to see and since I have seen it about 5043343 times already, it might not be the first play I would see in NYC for a few days. However, I have a soft spot for Roundabout Theatre Company (I was their Education Intern in 2007--where I had an amazing experience) and ever since Alan Cumming played the role of the Emcee in the 1990s, I have wanted to see him perform it. And of course, Alan did not disappoint. He was FABULOUS. And by fabulous, I mean off the charts, standing ovation, best performance as the Emcee I have literally ever seen even after seeing the show about 43243243243432 times. If you are going to NYC, I highly, highly recommend it. If you (or anyone in your party) is under 35, you can also get $25 tickets via HipTix (this also applies to RTC's other shows) and it is definitely worth checking on.

I have to say, however, that Michelle Williams was not the right person for the role of Sally Bowles in this revival. I have really enjoyed her film roles (especially in My Week with Marilyn), but she was clearly uncomfortable in her role (I'm not sure if she has theatrical experience). Really, someone else should have been cast, but Alan's performance overrode it.

After the show, Luke and I sat in a cafe where I ate a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cupcake (or half of it) before we went out to dinner and then had some more drinks with some more old friends. Luke has been quite the sport about being paraded around and introduced to everyone. And although I despise Times Square (I used to walk through there every day for work), Luke and I did go a couple of times and managed to do a little bit of shopping in the massive Forever 21 (suck it Kristen Lee and your 27 Things You Must Say Goodbye to at 27 article--I still got a really professional looking dress there).
You can't get this in England!

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Summer-y Outfit of the Day

The theme of these photos is clearly "stand as awkwardly as possible."
Cue bitchy resting face....

Dress: New Look*
Flower Headband: New Look

*Denotes Affiliate Link
Some of the doggies got in on the action. :)

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Open Season on Women's Repoductive Organs?

The other day, I hopped in a taxi and had a conversation a little bit like this:

Taxi Driver: Do you have kids?
Me: No
Taxi Driver: You should probably have them before its too late, being an old mom isn't great. It's nice when the daughter looks like the mom's little sister.
Me: Um, okay. I'm still doing a PhD and would like to finish my education first.
Taxi Driver: You have loads of time, just don't wait too long. 

Granted, I don't actually LOOK my age, so I'm sure if he knew my real age, he would tell me to hurry up and have kids right this moment. 
Babies are lovely....just not yet, thank you!
If this were an isolated incident, I probably wouldn't think twice about it. I remember going to a wedding a couple years ago in which a woman turned to me and said, "My advice is to have kids in your 20s." I hadn't asked for her advice on my uterus or family planning. At the time, I was also single, so the added pressure of having kids before my 20s were up made me feel the increased panic.

Red pill guys (mostly found on Reddit), will say that once a woman reaches 30, she begins to panic about her biological clock and it is annoying. Well, perhaps it wouldn't be such an issue if we weren't being told left, right and center how to manage on our ovaries.

I've always known I would be an older mom. Everyone in my family looks remarkably young for their ages and I'm already shocking people with my own age, just like all of the women proudly did before me. I'm not sure if it is related, but women in my family have also had children quite late as well. Most of my closer relatives gave birth in their 30s, my grandmother in her late 30s and my mother and great-aunt in their 40s. Although I know all of that about eggs depleting after age 35 (although there is some debate about whether or not that is true), 35 seems like the right age for me to start having children...and it shouldn't be up for debate or discussion with a taxi driver or even a close friend.

There are so many reasons why people don't want to, or even worse, can't have bringing it up likely isn't helpful. As women, we are all aware of our desire, or non-desire to have kids. We are all aware of our own situations, financial, education, partner status, etc. and it all affects when, or if, we choose to reproduce. The subject of kids or no kids can also be painful for some women, so it seems wildly insensitive to just bring it up with some chick you're driving around in a taxi.

Recently, a friend of mine posted on Facebook that she often gets told off for having a large family (four kids), another girl agreeing with her.  Now, I know mega families like the Duggar clan do invoke some pretty strong opinions, but four kids? Really guys? And also, even if the Duggars do make your blood boil, I think it would be pretty rude to say so to their faces. They've already made their choice, what--are they going to go put the kids back?

When people make these comments to women about their reproductive health, I often wonder what they think the outcome will be. Should I have gone out and bagged a random and ditched my PhD just so I could have kids in my 20s?  Should I be abandoning my life goals so I can bask in the glow of looking like my future daughter's older sister? Should my friends with "too many kids" return them like bananas at a grocery store? Should the woman who has miscarried or cannot have kids feel guilty for not being able to reproduce? Should the woman who doesn't want children all of the sudden be inspired to have a brood of her own?

We think society has come so far, but it hasn't. I am appreciating all of the conversation coming out of current events in relation to gender, but it is continuing to highlight that we still aren't there yet.

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We're Giving Away a $75 Etsy Giftcard! Join in :)

This giveaway is hosted by Ruffled Paper blog, which you should all check out, and cohosted by these lovelies:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Short on Cash? Win $110 (Approx £65) via Paypal!

It looks like I may have gone a little giveaway crazy this summer....But that is wonderful news for you!

This giveaway ends June 27 (this Friday) so you've got a bit of time to enter before it closes.

Giveaway Rules:
+ Giveaway will be live from May 27 – June 27
+ Must be 18+ or have parental consent to participate in giveaway
+ One winner will be chosen and verified on June 28
+ Winner will be notified via email and given 48 hours to respond
+ If no response, a new winner will be chosen
+ Giveaway is open internationally

Enter here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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New York Days 1 & 2

Luke and I are currently on vacation in New York City before my fellowship and the pair of us having been having a blast catching up with friends and playing tourist. 

The first day, after a small bout of a stomach flu the night before (on my end), we went to a Yankees Baseball Game (Luke's first was pretty amusing to watch him at the "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" sing-a-long...apparently that's not a song sung in England!). I'm not normally a huge baseball fan, but we had a really good time at the game.

After our time in Yankee Stadium, we headed to the East Village where we saw the US draw with Portugal. It was still a blast!
Luke and his American beer
On Day 2, we took a trip to see Lady Liberty herself, Ellis Island and I caught up with some old friends who I taught English in Hungary with in the West Village. But that was not without Luke's first trip to IHOP....which blew his mind. All of this cheap food and American size portions!

And now...Lady Liberty!

A bad picture of me Luke took. :p
Ellis Island Registration Room

Ellis Island

Luggage Room

Luke in the Registry Room

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New Video Mondays! Night Time Skincare Routine

This video's technical qualities are not fabulous, so I do apologize for that. It is difficult to bring my light into the bathroom, so I've done the best I can. Again, apologies. I hope you forgive me and know most videos are much higher quality than this one!

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...and we're off!

I'm off to the United States and Poland from June 21-July 24. I will be available for email, twitter, etc., but it may be sparse. Don't worry, I have pre-written posts to sustain you in my absence and I will try to answer all emails and tweets in a timely fashion. I have at least 4 (more likely 5 though!) pre-written posts per week coming at you. Videos on my YouTube have been pre-filmed and will still be up every Monday.

I hope to come back with some travelogues and a lot more content for you. I am going to Poland as part of a fellowship to study the Holocaust, so a lot of what I'm doing there won't really be appropriate to post in blogs and videos. However, I do hope to make a few videos whilst I'm there (particularly on my free days when I'm exploring Poland and doing non-academic activities and when Luke and I are in New York City)....and expect some blog posts reflecting on my time away. It may get heavy...just warning ya.

Lots of Love!


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Baby powder on your eyelashes?

There is a beauty myth that floats about saying that if you put baby powder on eyelashes wet with mascara, it will give you instantly fuller, longer lashes. Always up for a new adventure, I decided to try it out.

They way you're supposed to go about it is to swipe on some mascara (using my tried and true Falsies Volume Express by Maybelline), dip a Q-tip in baby powder, place in on top of the wet mascara and then redo the mascara on that side.

The first time I tried it, virtually nothing stuck to the mascara. I'm kind of wondering if it wasn't wet enough? I gave it another coat and, with a Q-tip, really tried to get the baby powder on good before swapping another coat of mascara.

Here are the results.
Left eye baby powder, right eye regular mascara

Left eye baby powder, right side mascara

To be honest, I don't see much of a difference. In fact, the baby powder seemed to clump the mascara more. I looked on Huda Beauty and although the blogger there claims it works, to me her eyelashes also look really clumped. Either I'm doing it wrong or it's just a myth.

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Two Life Altering Travel Tips

I'm writing this a few days before I depart on my adventure, in which I will live out of a suitcase for a month. I was going to do a whole blog post or video on packing, but then I realized how terrible I am at it and decided me giving tips on it was laughable. Basically, my idea of packing = pack everything you ever think you may remotely need in any given situation, then estimate the weight. If you think it is too heavy, weed out clothing and shoes for less likely scenarios that may occur during your trip. Like, if you're going to Alaska in February, you can probably pull out that bikini and beach towel, which I'm sure I would have already packed. 
1. Pack your toiletries and make up in a clear plastic bag
 You can get these from most drug stores. If you overpack, like I do, this is a handy way to see what is in every bag before you even open it and mess up the Tetris like formation you had going on inside of it. You can also tell where things are pretty easily, which is a plus.
Picture by Guru Make Up Emporium, of which I am NOT affiliated
2. Always bring a change of clothes in your carry on.
I once got stuck at an airport in Paris overnight. The airline checked me in to a terrible smelling Ibis. I was unprepared and had to wear the shirt the airline provided in its care bag, which is suited to an obese man. So now I always pack a change of clothes with me....and something that actually matches. Also, pack some mini deodorant and dry shampoo so you don't feel gross and smell worse. This will also last you a few days if your luggage gets lost. And even if you don't want to do any of this, at least bring along an extra pair (or two) of underwear in your bag. You never know what's going to happen. Be prepared. 
That is all, my fellow Odysseuses! Two jaw dropping travel tips by yours truly.

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SensatioNAIL Update

Way back in January, before I started taking this blog as seriously, I invested in a SensatioNail kit since I am so opposed to chipped nails. It's pretty much against my religion. Now that I've been using the product for a good six months, I feel like I have a better grasp on it.

Firstly, I have to say I'm pretty happy with the results, although you have to use the sticky primer stuff, otherwise the manicure or pedicure will rub off within a couple of days. 

As a disclaimer, I do have to say I haven't necessarily been taking it off properly, as after a couple of weeks the primer seems to give way on my finger nails and I'm able to simply pull it off with an orange stick. However, this is not necessarily the case with your toes. The polish will last a month to six weeks on your toes, but excessive use, I've found, can cause damage to your toenails. Yesterday, I pulled my pedicure off after dancing class and literally took half of one of my toenails with it. Because of this, I'm letting them breathe for a while, even though they do look disgusting..I've found that they leave a bit of a residue on your toenails especially...which makes you have old lady toes. Ick. Not cute.

Fingers in Bitter Sweet

"The Claw" in Bitter Sweet (I'm not a great manicurist, I'm AWARE)

Way better picture of the kit

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12 Blogging and YouTubing Tips and Children of the Most High Giveaway Ends Today

Learning to promote your new blog and/or YouTube without coming across as the most annoying person on earth is pretty difficult. I certainly haven't mastered the art myself and am still taking things as they come. I'm by no means an expert and am definitely guilty of some of the sins I'm listing here. Also included are a few tips I've learned along the way.

Number One, or pre-number one, is to have good content. That goes without saying though, so I'm going to give you this list assuming your content is already something people want to read. This doesn't mean you need to be the next Emily Dickinson or Cosmopolitan Magazine, but you need your content to be decently well-written (or pretty photographs, if that's your thing) and not cluttered with ads. I know we all want to make as much money as possible through blogging, but clicking on a site and seeing ad ad ad ad ad ad ad makes me want to click away immediately. Generating traffic is more important than income in the short term, as income will come through more traffic.

1. Don't say you've subscribed to someone or watch their videos/read their blog if you don't mean it. Seriously, that is my number one pet peeve. Sure, finding like-sized bloggers and YouTubers is a great way to expand your audience, but you need to be willing to read and watch what they are doing if you expect them to do the same for you. Recently I had someone tell me they loved my YouTube video, subscribed to my channel and wanted me to sub back to theirs. Only later did I find out that this person hadn't even subscribed to me. Creating a blog or a YouTube is about creating a community, not about everyone's eyes on you.

2. Take it seriously. If you want to be a blogger or YouTuber casually, then this step isn't necessary for you. But if you intend to use it as a career or a stepping stone to a career, taking it seriously is a must. Set it as a priority and plan your posts and videos well in advance.

3. Set up a small advertising budget. It doesn't need to be huge, but a small one is necessary. Advertise with bloggers who have a bigger following than you do to attract more views. Passionfruit ads is a great way to discover bloggers to partner with. The two women who have helped me most are Sprinkle of Glitter (whom you may know from the Gleam Team YouTube phenomena) and The Freckled Fox. The latter, Emily, is extremely personable and friendly and really great to work with. I credit her for helping me get a lot of my YouTube subscribers, which was the encouragement I really needed when I was a little bit afraid of vlogging. I'm going to be advertising with them all summer (and with Emily through to September), and I think they are fabulous, and affordable, sites for discoverablility (is that a word?). That is, if your niche is similar to theirs. Also, Angie from My So Called Chaos is a great lady to work with as well. Her blog isn't as high traffic as the two mentioned above, but she does work hard for you and will deliver some good quality traffic--i.e. readers actually interested in what you have to say.

4. Host giveaways and/or participate in group giveaways. Although it may create what some people call "dead" or "inactive" subs, it also gives people a chance to discover you. You may get a bunch of inactive followers, but you will most certainly get some people that are genuinely interested in your blog or YouTube.

5. Get involved in online communities about your topic. Don't just post about your blog or YouTube, but truly get involved in the community. 

6. Advertise on Reddit, but do it strategically. Don't post on forums that explicitly say links to blogs or YouTubes are not allowed. Remember that if you do post on Reddit, self-promotion is often looked down upon so you may deal with some "haters" or "backlash." But as long as you're following the rules, you'll get some increased traffic.

7. Be consistent. Upload new content often. If you're going to be away, YouTube and Blogger make it very easy to schedule content so that it goes up whenever you want it to.

8. Be sure to thank people for their support and do it genuinely. They are the reason your blog or YouTube channel is growing!

9. Write about what you truly love. If you aren't, it will show and blogging and YouTubing will start to feel like work.

10. Be patient. Very rarely do blogs and/or channels take off overnight.

11. Have fun! If you aren't enjoying what you're doing, then it becomes work and work is lame.

12. Set goals, both for the long term and short term. Do you want your blog to attract 500,000 visitors a month and 700,000 YouTube subscribers? Cool, that can be a long term goal...but focus on attainable milestones along the way like 100 YouTube subscribers within the week or month (depending on how fast your channel is growing).

Next order of business...
Anna Scanlon's newest novel, Children of the Most High (Book One), was released today!! You can check it out here. In honor, Anna, the author and owner of Anna in Wonderland, is hosting a giveaway!

This giveaway is generously supported by several blogs. Please take the time to check them all out:
Lulabel Loves
Mrs. Laura Beth
Luke Orchard/Lifestootall
This Rosie Life
My So-Called Chaos
Chaotic Goddess Swaps
Lipstick and Lullabies
Anna in Wonderland 
Three Boy Circus 
She is Fierce

Sixteen-year-old Rebecca Graber has lived in the safety of her close-knit conservative Amish community her entire life. She has been dating Zeke Stolzfus, the Bishop's son, since her first singing and anticipates the day when the two will marry. Rebecca's life changes overnight when Zeke, the boy she loves and trusts, forcibly takes her virginity. Taught to "turn the other cheek" like Jesus would have done, Rebecca's religion requires her to forgive Zeke and put the rape in the past. Family relationships and community ties are put to the test in the wake of Rebecca's trauma. Feeling abandoned by her religion's minimization of the assault, she embarks on a journey where she discovers the answers in the most unlikely of places. This powerful novel examines what forgiveness truly means. 

About the Prize: 
One first prize winner will receive:
a paperback copy of Children of the Most High  

Two Second Prize Winners will receive:
An eBook copy of Children of the Most High 

How to Enter/Rules:  
Please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter Giveaway 


This giveaway will run from June 6 to June 30 at 11:59PM EST.
Prize winners have 72 hours to claim their prize before an alternate winner is chosen.

 If you win an eCopy, please do not alternatively ask for a paperback copy. This is not possible. If you cannot read an eCopy for some reason, or cannot give it away to a friend/family member, please do not enter the contest

Winner has 72 hours to claim prize before a new winner is chosen. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

What tips and suggestions do you have?

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