DIY: Croissant French Toast

A local favorite breakfast location is the wonderful Metro Diner. We love Metro, I mean seriously. Their food is amazing. It has even been featured on Diner’s, Drive Ins, and Dives. Naturally, it’s not always convenient to make the trip to Metro for breakfast, but when we do, it sure is tasty.

To hold me over until I can get the real thing, I decided to whip up my own version of my favorite Metro dish: the Croissant French Toast. I simply used eggstirs and a croissant from my local grocery store.

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I took one croissant and sliced it in half, then dipped that into a bowl of the eggstirs. Typical method of french toast making. I greased a medium sized pan, plopped the eggstir-soaked french toast on and cooked it as normal.

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IMG_4203Boom! We have Croissant French Toast. Since the croissant was already buttered, I didn’t need to butter it additionally. Let me just say, this stuff was delicious.

IMG_4206Super easy and fast. If you’re in the mood for a guilty pleasure breakfast or even breakfast for dinner, give it a try! It was no Metro, but still delicious.

 

 

 

Music Mondays: Rainy Day Playlist

If there is one thing certain about Florida in the summer… it is the rain. Yeah, you thought I was going to speak about the heat or perpetual sunshine, but that would be a lie. If you live in Florida you know that every summer day around 3pm, a torrential downpour ensues.

Here are a few music selections to hold you over on these rainy days, especially if you are stuck on a drive around this time of day.

 

  1.  Drown- Front Porch Step

Front Porch Step is the perfect rainy day band. Just play any of their songs and you will feel nostalgic, which is like the poster feeling of a rainy day.

  1. Raining In Paris- The Maine

Okay, I couldn’t resist. The song title literally has the word “raining” in it. The fact remains, though, that John O’Callaghan’s voice has a slow rasp that fills in perfectly between rain droplets.

  1. Wide Awake- Man Overboard

This song is especially great on rainy car rides. Just trust me, give it a try. It was hard to pick between this or Atlas for the perfect rainy day song but come on, gang vocals just screams rainy days.

  1. Interlude: Moving On- Paramore

This short (1:10) ukulele accompanied song is the greatest rainy day anthem. For recent graduates like myself, this tune resonates well. If you are trying to get your shit together on a rainy day, as I often do, this song is the perfect “start your life” one.

  1. Over You (feat. A Great Big World)- Ingrid Michaelson

This song is pretty much the definition of heart-wrenching, even if you’re not getting over someone. Ingrid Michaelson and A Great Big World’s vocals mashed together tug on the heart strings just a bit too much, but it is perfect for a rainy, melancholy day.

  1. A Part of Me (feat. Laura Whiteside)- Neck Deep

This song just hits right in the rainy day feels. It is from the album Rain in July which is super cliché, yet again, but I couldn’t resist. The rough vocals in paring with Laura Whiteside’s soft voice makes for a beautiful rainy day anthem.

  1. Tee Shirt- Birdy

This indie tune is from The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack, which in itself lends for some strong emotions. Additionally though, it is a quiet love song that is fit for any rainy day inside.

  1. Ribs- Lorde

Ribs is my any weather song, but on rainy days it serves as an undeniably angsty rainy day jam. Even if it’s not raining, go give this song a listen. It shows Lorde as an artist, not just a pop tune.

  1. Land Locked Blues- Bright Eyes

Go figure, we can’t get through a rainy day playlist without including Bright Eyes. Land Locked Blues is my particular favorite for this weather. I mean, really any Bright Eyes song will suffice, this is just my personal favorite.

10. Degausser- Brand New

Brand New is equally one of those bands that fits perfectly on a rainy day. Degausser is more upbeat than most of the songs on this playlist but it really embodies the feelings you usually have on rainy days.

So there it is. 10 songs that should last you the duration of that 2-3 o’clock shower that inevitably always comes through.

Comment your favorite rainy day songs below!

The Fault in Our Stars: Book to Movie Review

tfios posterPhoto by: ibtimes

 

On June 6th, The Fault in Our Stars was released in theaters with Shailene Woodley playing Hazel Grace Lancaster and Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters. Initially, I had planned to review this movie as I had others in the past, but this deserved a special post due to the fact that I am such a huge fan and have far too much original bias.

Let me forewarn you: This is a book to movie review, so if you have not read the book and plan to do so, you may want to stop reading now. Also, I included very large spoilers in this review. You have been warned.

The story is based off of the novel by the spectacular John Green, as if you didn’t already know. Let’s be real: this book is freaking huge. When I read it upon its release in 2012, I knew it was something special. I was already a huge Green fan due to the immense love I have for his first novel Looking for Alaska. It is safe to say, when I heard that there was going to be a TFiOS movie, I panicked.

My panic slowly subsided as production and filming began. Josh Boone was coined the director and I felt sheer bliss. Boone wrote and directed Stuck in Love which is on my mental All Time Favorite Movies list. Next, the casting began and I was panicked once again. The acting from Shailene Woodley in Descendants was phenomenal, I admit, but something in the back of my brain could not stop putting her in that Secret Life of the American Teenager box. Dear Shailene Woodley, I was fucking wrong.

The movie started out just as the book had: a quick glimpse into Hazel’s boring, cancer-filled, ANTM watching life. With one-liners like “I’m the Keith Richards of cancer kids” spilling out, I was sold. Shailene Woodley was Hazel Grace. The movie added a sense of innocence that made me feel alive. In the first ten minutes, I had teary eyes simply due to the fact that the characters I held so closely were coming to life.

While I was in a state of joy watching the film, I couldn’t help but pick apart at the missing details. I don’t want to linger on those, though, because the movie was, overall, a beautiful adaptation of one of my favorite books. The Amsterdam scenes were flawless and the meeting with Van Houten was practically word for word. The Anne Frank House kiss was everything I had dreamed it would be.

By far, two of my favorite scenes in the movie that I felt not only did the book justice, but in some ways topped the novel was the sex scene in Amsterdam and the egging of Monica’s car. The egging scene in the book was, while hilarious, fairly rushed and didn’t give me the feeling of being alive like the movie egging scene did. Augustus’ statement about “four eyes, five legs, and two sets of working lungs” felt so Augustian that I felt the joy and love for the character that I did upon my first read of the book. The sex scene felt so intimate and real. As far as movie sex scenes go, this one was one of the most honest and splendidly awkward I had ever experienced.

Laura Dern, who played Hazel’s mother, was simply impeccable. I cannot relay how much I enjoyed the character of Hazel’s mother and how well Laura Dern portrayed her. Another standout character, and personal favorite actor of mine, was Nat Wolff who brought Isaac to life. Isaac’s wit fell from Wolff’s mouth as if the character was made for him.

As this is a book to movie review, I have to mention the facets of the novel that I felt needed to be included in the movie in some way. First, let me preface this by saying that I understand a movie can only be so long and that things must be omitted. I fully understand and acknowledge this. That being said, why didn’t they sell the swing set?! I was waiting for the “vaguely pedophilic” line and the way Augustus cheered Hazel up by proposing such an outlandish act. It was such a monumental scene that I was disappointed that it was omitted.

The movie did such justice in allowing for the quotes that readers loved to be included in the dialogue, but one of the most influential and significant quotes, “My thoughts are stars I can’t fathom into constellations”, was removed from the otherwise fully read letter at the end of the film. This quote, I believe should have made its way into the film. The omission of “I do, Augustus. I do” bothered me for a while after the film ended but once I began to think about it, I feel that “okay” was a perfect ending for those who had only experienced the film. (Although I still love this line and its connotations of Hazel and Augustus being together in the afterlife.)

Possibly the most disappointment I felt was in Augustus’ death. In his death in the book we had weeks of gradual and painful loss. Augustus turned into Gus and became bitter in his demise. This honest account of death was moving to me and the movie did not show the slow and painful side of death that we often feel. Though the post-Amsterdam scenes were all some of the most important and most moving, I wished for more, simply. Again, I realize that time limits this and that is something I am okay to live with.

As a movie from one of my favorite books, I can easily say that The Fault in Our Stars surpassed my expectations. The soundtrack of the film was a perfect testament for Hazel and Augustus’s love. The acting from Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort both felt so honest to the characters in the book. In reading other reviews, I noticed a lack of mention to Elgort’s performance as Augustus. Personally, Elgort portrayed the arrogant, charming, goofy boy just as I had imagined him in my head. Also, can we mention how perfectly accurate the crooked smile was during the first scene at Funky Bones? I am so grateful to both Woodley and Elgort for bringing my characters to life and portraying them with such grace and accuracy.

The movie felt so well done that I cannot wait to see it again, and maybe not be as picky this time. The Fault in Our Stars was a beautiful little infinity for me to enjoy… I cannot tell you have thankful I am for that.

 

Book to Movie Adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars: 8/10

The True Importance of Sex Education

On May 24th, Rollingout.com posted the list of the Top 25 cities with HIV and AIDS rates. Coming in at number three, Jacksonville FL, my hometown. In fact, 6 of the geographical locations on the list of 25 cities were located in Florida. It is not shocking news that the Deep South leads in the number of cases of HIV and AIDS. This has been public knowledge for quite some time and people have been reporting on it for years. The real question is, why aren’t these numbers going down?

In my 7th grade Biology class we were required to have a two-week class on Sex Education. Immature and naïve, we all giggled thinking that we would see a teacher put a condom on a banana. In reality, we had two weeks of fear. We were shown images of genital warts, told that sex was not to be had until marriage, and that AIDS leads to death which is caused by sex. Over and over again we were slammed with the concept of Abstinence with a capital A because that was the only choice. I guess the public school system decided that if we were all virgins until we were married, no one would get HIV.

I have two words for you, Florida Department of Education: Ha. Ha.

While I personally wasn’t sexually active in 7th grade (dear god, I cannot imagine), I had classmates who did the deed as early as the 8th grade. Sex was on our minds. We live in a culture where sex is everywhere. Have you seen that ridiculous burger commercial where the over-sexualized woman in a bikini eats a burger while washing a car? I’m not actually sure about the car washing part but that is how it feels: dirty and sexual. Children are exposed to this culture in the media every day and they are not stupid.

Let’s put it this way: if we are hitting puberty anywhere from ages 9-16, we are thinking about sex and that is biology (although my 7th grade teacher refused to admit so). So it is improbable that we will think that abstinence is the best thing for us at this age or really any of the following years.

In my sophomore year of high school, it was no better. My teacher, with his slow, thick, southern accent (this just adds to the hilarious image), went full on Mean Girls on us and told us that we would die if we had sex. If we had sex, we would literally die. An EDUCATOR told a group of 16 year olds that they would die from sex. At this point, a quarter of the room had already had sex and could attest that they, in fact, did not die and those of us who had not knew that this was laughable. And laugh we did. He told us that if his son had sex or brought a girl home pregnant, it would be the end. Not once did my teacher tell us that there were ways to prevent such pregnancies and ways to have SAFE SEX.

SAFE SEX?!

Yes, it’s true, educators of Florida. Safe sex is what you have when you are being responsible. The fact remains: teens have sex. This novel concept of teaching kids to NOT have sex until they are married is bogus. We all know it. Just like you did at 17, we all felt the same urges and we all were just as confident that it was the right choice.

How about instead of teaching our children that sex is the work of the devil, we teach kids how to do what they are going to do as safely as possible. How about we teach the future generation of America that sex is not something you play around with, but once you do, you must use protection.

According to Florida State Statute 1003.46 Health Education; Instruction in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome,

(1) Each district school board may provide instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome education as a specific area of health education. Such instruction may include, but is not limited to, the known modes of transmission, signs and symptoms, risk factors associated with acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and means used to control the spread of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. The instruction shall be appropriate for the grade and age of the student and shall reflect current theory, knowledge, and practice regarding acquired immune deficiency syndrome and its prevention.

(2) Throughout instruction in acquired immune deficiency syndrome, sexually transmitted diseases, or health education, when such instruction and course material contains instruction in human sexuality, a school shall:

(a) Teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school-age students while teaching the benefits of monogamous heterosexual marriage.

(b) Emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity is a certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, including acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and other associated health problems.

(c) Teach that each student has the power to control personal behavior and encourage students to base actions on reasoning, self-esteem, and respect for others.

  (d) Provide instruction and material that is appropriate for the grade and age of the student.”

I want to highlight a point that this statute is making: Abstinence.

(May I also point out that they specifically aim to teach that a monogamous heterosexual marriage is the only way to be safe? That’s another story for another day though.)

People are dying and suffering from HIV and AIDS. We cannot let the idea of “abstinence is the way” be what our children are raised on. Adolescents should understand the benefits of birth control, understand how to be safe, and understand that sex will not kill you. Adults and educators alike shake their heads at another teen pregnancy and blame someone other than themselves. How often did these pregnant girls think that “pulling out” was enough or that they would “be alright just this once”? The concept of abstinence is harming the people with 1,728 cases in just Duval County in the year 2012, this is something we cannot afford to avoid talking about.

 

 

 


For More Information/Sources:

To view a map of The United States by the CDC, color coated with affected areas: http://gis.cdc.gov/GRASP/NCHHSTPAtlas/main.html

For more information on HIV/AIDS: http://www.cdc.gov/

Jacksonville Based News Article: http://www.news4jax.com/news/jacksonville-ranked-third-in-nation-in-hivaids-rates/26216982

Rollingout.com’s List: http://rollingout.com/health/top-25-cities-high-hivaids-rate/

Florida DEO’s Sex Education Information: http://www.fldoe.org/bii/cshp/Education/HIV_STD/policies.asp

Article in The Nation addressing this issue: http://www.thenation.com/blog/177506/deep-south-latest-epicenter-hiv-epidemic#

University of Michigan information on puberty: http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/puberty.htm

 

Warped Tour 101?

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Photo Credit: Invisible Children

 

It’s that time of year again… the sun is out and today is the first day of the 2014 Vans Warped Tour.

I have been attending Warped since the 2012 tour and since then I’ve picked up some tips that every “Warped Tour Virgin” should know. While I haven’t been attending the festival for years like some others, I have two years of experience to offer. I know that I was a bit nervous my first year because the atmosphere is a bit intimidating and you often here horror stories that can be unsettling. Fear not, I have compiled a list of things you will need to bring, do when you get there, and the bands I plan to see this summer.

WHAT TO BRING


  1. Water and Snacks. Water is the most important thing to bring or purchase at Warped Tour. Personally, I don’t recommend purchasing it from the vendors because they can run up to $4.00 per bottle. In the hot summer sun (especially if you are in Florida like I am) water is absolutely dire. I always bring two-three bottles in my bag that I can refill. The best thing about Warped Tour is the free water refills they offer. If you are smart, bring a couple bottles because you will inevitably lose one or more in the pit and then you will be forced to buy one. Another mistake people tend to make is not eating in the heat. If your body doesn’t have water and nutrients then you will pass out. Bring an apple or some other lightweight snacks for throughout the day.

  2. Drawstring bag or Backpack. Most people, myself included, bring simple drawstring bags but a large number of people also opt for backpacks. In short, you need something to carry your supplies and money. Just make sure the bag is comfortable to you. Lots of people have trouble with the drawstring bags because they dig into their shoulders. While I never personally have this problem, it is best to test your bag out with all your supplies in it and then account for the fact that you will be jumping and sweating for 9+ hours.
  3. Money. The amount of money you bring strictly depends on what you want to buy the day of. I would highly suggest buy the list of set times. Its $2-3 at the most and that way you will have every bands time at your finger tips. I will get into this more later. If you are interested in buying merch, that’s roughly $20.00 per shirt and about $50.00 for sweatshirts (prices vary by band but you can check their website to gauge it). You should always bring an extra $20.00 for emergency water and food. Personally, I plan every year to eat dinner at the venue and spend money on their food. Nothing like a good meal can pick you up when you’re feeling sick.
  4. Sanitation. Here is where we get to the nitty-gritty of the day. The bathrooms are disgusting. If your venue has a real bathroom in addition to port-a-potty’s, use the real bathrooms early in the day and port-a-potty’s as the day progresses. TRUST ME. The real bathrooms are what most people want so they get more disgusting than the portable ones by the end of the day. Pro-tip: if you’re not peeing, you’re not drinking enough water. You should be going to the bathroom throughout the day and staying hydrated. As far as the bathrooms go, you will need toilet paper and odds are there will be a lack of it. Bring a small plastic bag with toilet paper in it so that you don’t have any trouble. I also recommend bringing wet wipes or hand sanitizer for the day. You get super dirty and will want to clean your hands before meals.
  5. Sun Protection. How did I get to number 5 without mentioning sunscreen?! You NEED sunscreen. Nobody likes skin cancer. Seriously though, being out in the sun all day is harmful to your skin and you need to protect yourself. SPF 50 is my recommendation (although I am pretty fair, this is a time that you don’t want to mess around with “getting a tan”). BLOCK UP. Especially if you have tattoos, this is probably the most important part of your day. You also might consider wearing a hat or sunglasses for the day as well.
  6. Ticket. Duh. Bring your ticket to get into the show. Do not try to depend on buying it there. Never buy it from anyone other than an official Vans Warped Tour worker. There are always people trying to sell fake tickets. Don’t fall into their trap.
  7. Sharpie. If you want your favorite band to sign something, don’t expect them to be carrying a marker around. Come prepared. Also this is useful for jotting down set times.
  8. Clothing. No, don’t bring extra clothing. This is more of a what to wear. The clothing you should bring on your body should be minimal. Yep, it’s hot at Warped. By the end of the day, you will not care how cute you looked or anything of the like. You will want to be comfy. Dress in light-weight clothing and leave the jewelry at home. You don’t want to accidentally rip out an earring (or belly ring, yep I’ve seen it happen) in the pit. And for the love of all things good in the world, WEAR TENNIS SHOES. Your feet will bleed if you wear flip-flops.

WHAT TO EXPECT/DO


  • When you get to the venue, bring canned goods, an old cell phone, or $5 cash to donate. By doing this, you will receive a skip the line wrist band and you will get in the venue before everyone else
  • Once you’re in the gates, buy a sheet that lists the set times. I know most people discourage this but it is only $2.00. Warped Tour has a giant inflatable with all the bands and their set times and most people just take a picture of this but if your phone dies (which is likely) you won’t have access to the set times and you will have to walk back and forth to the inflatable. I usually star the bands I want to see on my set sheet and then I have my full day planned out.
  • Don’t neglect the booths. Bands will have signings that are posted at these booths and lots of the non-profits have free stuff and also a lot of cool information.
  • Follow the bands you want to see on Twitter and follow the Vans Warped Tour twitter (@vanswarpedtour). They will post signing times, secret acoustic shows, set changes, and other important information.
  • Locate the area with shade: you will need it. Come 2 o’clock when you feel like you just might faint, this area will be your friend. Most venues have a shaded or cool area and if not, there are always the mist tents. If you feel sick and need to see Medic, there is a tent for that as well.

TIPS AND TRICK TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR DAY


  • See bands you don’t know! If you have heard of a band but never got the chance to check them out, go do so. Warped Tour is a great place to find new music to listen to and simply enjoy a good show.
  • Once you see when each band is playing, odds are that if two of your favorite bands are on different stages, you will have to sacrifice one to see the other. My tip, if there is even ten minutes of one band playing when the other is not, run over and see it. The more bands you see, the better a time you will have. Don’t miss out on seeing another band because you are worried about where you will be standing when seeing the next band.
  • That leads in to my next tip, at Warped people are all trying to see different and new bands. A lot of the time, people will simply hang out by main stage so they can catch another band. If you have a band that you are dying to see and want to be in the crowd for, say excuse me and move to the center. Don’t push or freak out. Everyone at Warped understands that you want to be closer. If you have never been to a concert where this is normal, prepare to be in for a surprise. It is actually quite awesome.
  • Eat food, drink water, and make sure you’re peeing. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you feel faint, take a minute and sit down. Warped Tour is HOT. Neglecting these things will only make your day less than stellar.
  • Mosh pits will happen. If you are afraid of a pit, don’t go in it. It is really that simple. Mosh pits generally happen towards the center of the crowd and can be avoided. Known your strength. If you have never been in a pit, give it a try! Crowd surf if you want to. Don’t limit yourself because you are afraid.
  • In the same respect, help people out. If someone looks faint, ask if they need help. If someone needs help up, grab their hand. And my god, boys, leave girls’ body parts alone as they crowd surf.
  • Warped Tour is arguably the best concert of the summer. Make it fun. See as many bands as possible and don’t hold back.

MY BAND LIST


 Here is the list of bands I will try to fit in at Warped Tour

  • Breathe Carolina (they always provide a good time)
  • Less Than Jake
  • Mayday Parade
  • Neck Deep
  • Parkway Drive
  • Real Friends
  • State Champs
  • The Maine
  • The Ready Set (7th grade me is wiggin’ out)
  • The Story So Far
  • The Summer Set
  • We The Kings
  • 3OH!3
  • Bayside
  • Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!
  • Cute Is What We Aim For
  • Four Year Strong
  • Front Porch Step
  • Light Years
  • We Are The In Crowd
  • Yellowcard

Have an awesome summer at the Vans Warped Tour and enjoy the music!

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation

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First things first, we need to get the whole skin tone situation down before we go any further into this… I am fair. I mean, really fair. I jokingly state that I have two shades: my summer shade, “white AF”, and my winter shade, “is that a ghost or a girl?”. Needless to say, finding a foundation that works and looks amazing on such fair skin isn’t an easy task. Generally speaking, pale people tend to have pink undertones with the occasional yellow-toned girl. I find myself to be neutral and can’t use anything that comes off unnaturally yellow or pink.

I have found my holy grail. Yep, I said it. While I haven’t tried every foundation in the world, this one kicks some serious ass. The Tarte Amazonian Clay foundations had so much hype surrounding them that I knew I needed to give it a try and see if I felt as attached to this product as the seemingly rest of the free world did. I picked up the shade “Fair Sand”, which is described as fair skin with yellow undertones. Personally, this foundation blends flawlessly into my skin and doesn’t come across as “too yellow”. The girl in Ulta wanted to shade match me before I made the purchase and she agreed, this foundation was made for my lifelessly pale skin.

Beware: photo of me fresh-faced is now going to be inserted.

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As you can see, my skin is generally clear from acne, although I do suffer from time-of-the-month-mountain-on-face syndrome and I always get small pimples after I get my brows waxed (does this happen to anyone else?).  My biggest concerns are some discoloration around my chin, awful dark circles, and redness.

I have been using my Real Techniques Blending Sponge to apply the product and it seems to do the trick. I put the foundation in small dots around my face and then just stipple it out. After one very thin coat this is what my face looked like:

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When I say thin coat, this is probably a pea-sized amount of product on my face. I don’t believe I have found a foundation that compares in dark circle coverage. This foundation is a perfect match for my skin tone as well. The look, even without primer, is flawless.

The finish is very natural, due to the Amazonian Clay, and leaves my face feeling as if I am not wearing foundation at all.

Website Claims:

“Achieve flawless skin that looks healthy and natural. This supremely blendable, buildable and full coverage formula delivers up to 12 hours of satin-matte coverage with a weightless texture. Reduce the appearance of pores, discolorations and imperfections and ensure a perfectly flawless complexion every time with this best seller.”

Final Opinion:

Okay, I couldn’t save my final opinion for the end. If you are reading this far you know that I love this foundation. The color match is flawless and with the multiple shades they offer, I think anyone would be able to find a match. The coverage is full and flawless. The claim I was worried about was the 12-Hour because I purchased this foundation specifically for my outside graduation in Florida. If you have ever been to Florida in June, you know the humidity is no joke. I wore this and felt that it stayed put throughout the sweat and lasted all evening. I prefer a satin to matte finish anyway, so this foundation was perfect for me. There are also 1.7 fl oz in this foundation which is almost unheard of. I mean seriously, that is a lot of product. As the cheap skate I am, this helped me pull the metaphorical trigger and splurge.

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In this ridiculously close shot of my face you can tell that the spots around my chin are almost completely gone and my pores are less visible. I like my freckles to still be prominent on my face because I feel like they make me feel natural and like myself so this coverage is perfect for me.

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Here is my completed face with some basic every day makeup on (all hail the concealer gods). I love this foundation and would recommend that if you have been thinking about it, as I had for months, go purchase it!

Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation. SPF 15. $38.00 USD.

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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After reading Eleanor and Park (you can check out my review of it here), I knew I had to read every single one of Rainbow Rowell’s books. My next conquest: Fangirl.

Fangirl is a story about two twins, Cather and Wren, who move away to college and leave their particularly scatter-brained father as they start their journey in the big, bad world of college. Cather, the protagonist and overall beautifully written character, is denying these changes at once and does all she can to avoid the college experience. By this, I don’t mean simply avoiding frat parties or making minimal friends (although this happens as well), but this brand of avoidance is more like eating protein bars because she is too afraid to ask where the Dining Hall is type of thing. Wren, eccentric, daring, and ultimately careless, chooses to do what the girls have never experienced before: live apart from Cath.

This story, though, is more than a tale of a girl who learns to blossom in her college years and step out of her encumbering awkwardness. While Cath is undeniably reserved, she releases her inner thoughts and passions in the form of fanfiction. Cath writes Simon Snow (which is a story inside of a story that revolves around two boys, arch nemeses, in a world of danger and magic. Think Harry Potter, but with vampires) fanfiction and she is damn good at it. In the book, Rowell includes snippets of the actual Simon Snow books as well as portions of Cath’s fanfiction. Personally, I enjoyed Cath’s bits of writing more than the Simon Snow excerpts.

The school year begins and the only class Cath particularly looks forward to attending is her Advanced Fiction Writing course, which she placed into based on her skills. As she finds out how to be Cath-without-Wren she also learns what it means to be a writer of something other than fanfiction. The struggle Cath finds in writing something that doesn’t involve Simon and Baz (the stars of her wildly popular fanfic and the Simon Snow novels) is something I believe every young writer struggles with.

The story is filled with love, first experiences, and heartbreak (both of the familial and romantic variety). Rowell, once again, writes a story that is timeless. Cath’s words and emotions feel as though I were the one telling this familiar story and living Cath’s life. As everything and everyone around Cath changes, especially her partner in crime/twin sister/best friend Wren, she finds that she is more herself than she ever knew.

Fangirl exceeded all expectations. If you enjoyed Eleanor and Park, get ready to fall in love with Fangirl. At times that were not exceptionally sad, I was crying ugly tears simply because of the way I related to Cath and her emotions. Rowell creates characters that resonate and become a part of you. Through her tales of friend making, love embracing, and story writing, Rowell (through Cath) describes the teenage condition with legitimate honesty. Not too often do you find a story of a girl who writes fanfiction, and not too often do you find a story about a boy who embraces the different in a girl (yes, people, this is also a hopelessly beautiful love story).

I recommend Fangirl as highly as I recommend Eleanor and Park. This honest and heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale is one that is now a permanent favorite of mine.

 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: 10/10

Movie Review: Neighbors

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Rating: R

96 mins. Comedy. May 9, 2014.

 

Initially, I was pretty excited to see Neighbors. I am, admittedly, a huge fan of Seth Rogen, although I was unsure about how Zac Efron’s role would play out and if he would be the downfall of the movie…boy was I wrong. In this comedy, Mac Radner (Rogen) and his wife Kelly (Rose Byrne) move into a comfortable home in the suburbs to start their new family. The movie starts with their conflict to be more than a boring married couple. The couple decides that instead of settling into adulthood, they would simply incorporate their new, parental life in with their old, party lifestyle. This scene alone with the couple fighting to stay awake once they decided to take their infant to the club was simply hilarious. Rogen and Byrne had phenomenal chemistry. For once, a film actually showed young parents acting like young parents.

As the movie progresses, a fraternity, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco’s characters Teddy and Pete, respectively, moves in next door to the Radner’s. Wanting to seem like they were “the cool neighbors”, the couple decided to approach the frat house and tell them casually (or not so casually) to keep the noise level down at times. The frat says they will oblige, but come the first night a wild ragger is already taking place. Mac and Kelly decide to go over and tell the frat to keep the noise down, but they end up partying with them.

The climax of the film takes place when the Radner’s decide that they can no longer have the frat living next door and they attempt to move them out. For me, the best character in the whole film was Kelly, the mother and wife. Rose Byrne was simply hilarious as she portrayed a young woman who actually acted like a young woman would. A reference is made to how their life is “not a Kevin James film” with her being the nagging wife and Mac being the reckless husband. This, to me, was one of the greatest debunking of a classic film stereotypes ever.

Possibly the most enjoyable aspect of this movies was that it actually contained a relatable plot. Often in comedies it is hard to find what “the point” of the hilarity actually was. In Neighbors, this is quite the opposite. Neighbors contains outrageous farce, sex, and absurdity, but also allows for some thought on the awkward times in life. Efron’s character is bridging the gap between college and “the real world”, while Rogen and Byrne are experiencing what is really like to venture into adulthood.

While Neighbors was one of the best comedies I had seen in a while, it fell short in some aspects for me. It is a hard movie to pinpoint its faults, but I left wanting just a bit more. Maybe a bit more outrageous tactics from the gang? For those who have seen it: come on, how epic was the takedown of Teddy and Pete? I’m not sure what I would have wanted to see more of, but I do know that I left only feeling satisfied, not utterly wowed (maybe with the exception of Rose Byrne’s character…have I raved about it enough?). I am quite picky when it comes to comedies, but as for Neighbors, I would recommend it and I would probably see it again…on DVD.

 

Neighbors: 7/10.

 

Currently Reading…

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Hello world,

Last night I downloaded “#GIRLBOSS” by Sophia Amoruso. The book is Sophia’s journey from living in poverty to being the CEO of a multi-million dollar business known as Nasty Gal. Nasty Gal is one of my favorite online shopping stores but I became interested in reading it when I saw the sketches from the book that were posted on the Nasty Gal Instagram and hash tagged #GIRLBOSS. The book includes some of Sophia’s tips on success and how to be a “Girl Boss”. I’m only on page 26 but so far I am really enjoying it. I will be posting a review once I’m finished, but for now I want to hear what you think of the book if you’ve read it! Comment below and let me know.

Memories and New Beginnings

Hello World,

Graduation day is quickly approaching (and by quickly approaching, I mean I graduate on May 30th *insert nervous laugh here*) I guess it didn’t really set in that I was graduating, my friends were leaving, and that nothing would be the same until I received my senior yearbook. I’ve spent the first three years of my high school career working on The Talon staff and this past year, I was the editor. With my last book in my hands, I can’t help but to feel a bit nostalgic of the times I had while in high school. The fact that I will never work on a yearbook again is something I am not sure I’m ready to embrace yet. With all of these changes, though, I am so ridiculously excited for the new beginnings that are sure to come with them. Anyway, just thought I would share some photos of the book! If you can’t tell from the cover, we went with a game board theme this year. I’m ecstatic with how this one turned out.

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