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Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving Part II: The Dinner Part

My dad barbecued a turkey. Doesn't it look yummy? I can't wait to eat more for dinner tonight. He's been grilling turkeys for some time now... it's nice because then the house doesn't smell like turkey all day, so you can actually taste it when it's time to sit down to eat. 

Our pretty table. My mother brought all the decorations out, it's really lovely. I sat in the first seat on the left. Some of the food is out on the table, but not all of it. I made potatoes and apple pie. 

Me, my mother, and my friend Bram from Singapore all at the Thanksgiving table.

My mother is a miracle worker and managed to get through all the dishes. Bram and I crashed out after dinner for about an hour and a half... we weren't very useful at all!

This was the sunset off the back deck of the house. It's really beautiful here in New Jersey. There's more to New Jersey than the Jersey Shore! It's got beautiful forest... and my parents own a piece. 

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Natalie's Thanksgiving Adventure, Part I

My father is grilling the Thanksgiving turkey this year. This is the first turkey we've made in 3 years. He had to clear snow off the grill first. 

This is The Joy of Cooking.  It's the new version... from the 1970's.

Setting up to bake a pie. 

I made my friend peel apples. You can see his fingers over on the right. For whatever reason, whenever I bake with a boy, he peels apples. 

The filling!

So, there was a spoon in the oven. It is magnetic, and it apparently got stuck to the baking sheet. We didn't notice it until it was all melted. 

The spoon, after being fetched from the oven. We're going to hang it on our Christmas tree.

At least the pie came out! It looks pretty good, right?

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I'm home for Thanksgiving! My family recently moved to New Jersey, but this is the first time I'm living in the house itself. For reasons known as safety, I'm not going to post pictures of the rest of the house. But, I think it's cute that my parents put this up for me. 

My friend from Singapore came in today from Boston University as well. This is his first Thanksgiving in the US, and we're really excited to have him here. 

Tomorrow I'm going to be baking an apple pie. I'll blog that whole experience... perhaps during Thanksgiving, this will turn into a bit of a food blog. 

I've got some beauty posts lined up, but there's much more interesting things going on at the moment in all honesty. I'm home! I have a beautiful bedroom (that I will post about later)! There's six inches of snow on the ground  (and it's still coming down)! Thanksgiving is a lovely time to be with friends and family. 

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The lovely Steph Defined  (her Twitter) and I decided to team up and make an awesome holiday gift guide for 2014 just before Black Friday! Well, she contacted me with the idea, and... technicalities. The list here on my blog are all $20 or less.  You can go check out her blog here for the gift list over $20! The first five items are ones Steph picked out, and the last five are mine!

Steph's Five

My Five

Hope you enjoyed the list! Head over to Steph Defined for the $20-$100 gift guide. Happy shopping this season!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

The number of people that would very much like to part you with your money are astounding. I run into scams all the time, as a blogger and a model. So far,  I haven't fallen for any yet that I'm aware of.  It's important to keep your eyes open for potential scams. After all, I like my money being mine, and not in the hands of a dishonest organisation. 

Avoiding Scams as a Blogger:

1) Never give out your password for anything. 
2) Check the integrity of any website you link to.
3) Emails from outside your home country, unless you have a working relationship with a company/person outside of it, should be approached with caution.
4) Do not sign up for those "Promote Your Blog", "Instant SEO",  or  "Improve your Visibility" services. Those things are fishy. Some of them may work, but others WILL rip you off.
5) If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Avoiding Scams as a Model:

1) If you're a new freelancer,  no one is going to pay you $100 an hour. Run in the opposite direction. 
2) If there is no phone number on a website, it's probably a scam. 
3) If the language in an email is off or they refer to "your area", it's fishy. 
4) You should never pay for photo shoots as a new model. I have yet to pay a dime. If they want money, skip it. 
5) If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

Avoiding Scams in General:
1) Be careful with cheques, you don't want people to have your account number. 
2) Remember not to put your personal address on the Internet.
3) Don't have your personal websites (Facebook, etc.) linked with your blog/work stuff. Make another email address for your blogging/modelling/whatever. 
4) Trust your gut. 
5) If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. 
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Friday, November 21, 2014

For those of you that don't know, I'm a university student. Even better, I'm a first-year, which makes life complicated. Figuring this all out hasn't been easy, but I have figured out some rules for myself to stay balanced.

1) School will always come first.

I'm typing this out as fast as I can before I go to sleep... it's 1:30 in the morning. I've studied until my head hurts, and blogging is helping make me sleepy. Blogging now means work is done.

2) Blogging can be a break from studying.

Actually, I mostly blog when I don't want to do my homework. However, I only blog for 30 minutes before I go back to work. So, school might come first, but blogging keeps me sane.

3) I'd rather not post on the blog than get overly stressed.

If you're a long-term reader of this blog, you know I try to post 5 times a week. However, this hasn't been happening lately-- because I have 2 papers due in 3 weeks, plus an exam tomorrow that I've been studying for. Not posting sucks, but not doing well in uni or getting stressed out over the blog sucks worse.

So fellow bloggers, how do you stay balanced?
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sometimes, it can seem like bloggers have perfect lives. After all, wouldn't you want to spend your days writing about the latest products? Well, being a beauty blogger is a bit less lovely than that. Since I'm a beauty/lifestyle blogger, there are some points that cross over with lifestyle blogging. I'll make a similar post for modelling next week!

1. I don't wear makeup that often. I generally only wear it when going out, or if I have a photo shoot.

2. I test all the recipes for masks and stuff that I post here on the blog... but don't use them very often.

3. If my post isn't up in the early morning, I didn't have an idea for the day and had to post later.

4. I hate taking photographs for the blog. I am too much of a perfectionist to just take the photos and go.

5. I normally write my posts when putting off doing homework.

6. I have issues with tag posts, because I can never come up with enough people to tag.

7. I commit more beauty bad habits than I really should.

8. I don't clean my brushes enough.

9. I don't get new products that often.

10. Products I dislike are simply never mentioned on the blog. There are certainly products I've hated, but for now, I don't want to spread negativity.

Okay fellow bloggers, fess up! I think honesty is the best policy :D
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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Green tea is one of those super-foods everyone is (still) talking about, and I think that's lovely! Going on the theme of beauty foods that I posted about yesterday, green tea is one of my favourites. Not only is it yummy, green tea is apparently really good for you!

Things to do with Green Tea:

Honestly, part of the reason why green tea is so good for you is that it's a way to stay hydrated. I'm really bad about drinking plain water, but I can drink three cups of green tea in one sitting. I have no idea if that is actually good for me... but I'd like to believe it is.

Green tea does have antioxidants, which do wonderful things for the skin and body. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on these whatsoever. If you believe the things on the Internet about scary toxins, then apparently green tea flushes those out of your system. If you're like me and you just believe it's good for you, then great. I personally have found that drinking green tea daily keeps my skin brighter, and it cheers me up.

There are loads of interesting recipes for using green tea as a hair rinse. Green tea is apparently good at making one's scalp less oily. I have tried this a couple of times, and it does appear to work. Wild Turmeric gives you the instructions on how to make a lovely hair rinse with lemon. I think it's one of the easiest recipes out there.

 I, however, am too lazy  for that and simply microwave water and a tea bag in a mug until I get bored (or it boils). I then stick an ice cube in it, wait around for it to cool, then pour it over my head after washing my hair. I do think it makes my hair less oily-- but since I don't have terribly oily hair, I only use it occasionally.

Okay, I can't vouch for scientific beauty benefits from this mask. I've made it exactly twice, and both times it made made my skin soft and bright.

2 tea bags of green tea
1 blob of plain yogurt
1 squirt of honey

Mix those things together, then apply evenly to face. Wait around until you run out of patience (about 10-20 minutes, or the end of your TV show), then rinse off. I do know yogurt is good for the skin thanks to all my Indian friends that swear by it, and honey is supposedly good at keeping acne away. I think the green tea does something. Or at least I hope it does. It also makes for a funny coloured face mask, and if anything, you can use it to exfoliate the face before fully removing the mask.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

Eat beautiful! I personally see food as "beauty food" and "treat food". Beauty food is full of vitamins and minerals... it's good for your skin and body. "Treat food" is everything else. It's all about striking a balance. These are just a few of the things I keep in mind when I eat.

What do you do? Do you agree with my tips?

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Friday, November 14, 2014

I had such awesome plans for the blog this week. I have some beauty posts lined up that just need photographs and a last glance over before they are good to go. I had everything sorted out.

Then life happened. I was really excited to apply for a programme abroad next semester, and that didn't work out for a couple of reasons. I've been swamped with school work and should be either writing a paper or studying for the second half of my Chinese exam right now. I found out I've gained weight in college (no surprise, but it still sucks). Things just haven't really been going as smoothly as they could have, and as a result, I've had no motivation.

I'm going to try for a good post tomorrow.

The past few days, it just wasn't happening.

For the laughs, here's a picture of my at my fifteenth birthday party in full gothic lolita. Sometimes I just need to take a break, remember things have been crazier, and move on.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The beauty world is all about covering up your flaws. Have dark circles? Erase them. A little chubby? Drop it in two weeks. Have spots? Cure them by tomorrow morning. Dry hair? Make it bouncy and beautiful with these thousand products. There's a reason people get addicted to beauty-- we buy into the idea that products are the only thing that can solve our beauty problems. 

We're always told there is no such thing as perfection, but I disagree. I think there is such thing as perfection in a technical aspect-- there is a perfect arabesque in ballet, for example. There are moments captured on film and in photography of perfection in dance. When it comes to beauty, there are fleeting moments of technical perfection (often with the aid of photoshop). There are photographs in which there is nothing wrong with the subject. At least, that's my point of view.

When it comes to everyday life, though, we have to accept our flaws. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's difficult. There are flaws that we can fix with makeup, and there are flaws we can spin in a positive way. Others, though, we just have to wait for them to go away. Or live with them.

When I was younger, I really hated having chubby cheeks. I thought they made me look fat overall, and I tried to get rid of them. However, as I've gotten older my face has narrowed out. My chubby cheeks have turned into squishy cheeks that are apparently very fun to poke. I once had a (very drunk) friend tell me I had tofu-cheeks! I love my cheeks now because they are smooth and soft, and make me look a little bit younger.

Something that was harder for me to get over was the size of my eyes. Asians have this weird complex about their eyes... we always want them to be bigger. When I lived in Singapore, I was always aware of women who had eyelid surgery or other enhancements done. Though I considered them, I eventually decided that I didn't want any scalpels near my eyes. Nope!
Everyone can fix their dark under-eye circles with a good concealer though, so at least that was an easy fix.

Flaws suck. If it was up to us, I think we'd all chose to be our definition of perfect. Since we can't do that, the best we can do is fix what we can and deal with the rest. Honestly, that's not such a bad solution. Even though we might feel like everyone is staring at our flaws, they're not. I'll never forget when I had a massive pimple and my (now ex) boyfriend told me I looked impossibly beautiful. I didn't believe him at the time, but I wish I had. Though we might not feel beautiful, in someone's eyes, we are. And isn't that enough?

No makeup and bad selfie angle. It's okay though! Smile :D
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Monday, November 10, 2014

Let's be honest... we're not all saints when it comes to beauty and skincare. I'm definitely guilty of everything below. Starting out with a bit of a confession for this week...

I rub my eyes all the time, and it's not healthy. There are lots of germs on one's hands that really shouldn't get into the eyes. Rubbing your eyes irritates them and turns them red. And it ruins your makeup.  It's just not a good habit at all.

Unless you have really oily hair, you don't need to wash it everyday. I wash my hair about four times a week (give or take, it depends on dance and what I'm up to), but it's safe to say most people over-wash their hair. Don't strip your hair of natural oils!

Hydration is essential for healthy skin and hair. When you're dehydrated, your skin, nails and hair get dry. I don't drink enough water during the day, but I'm working on carrying a water bottle around!

Let's be honest, cleaning brushes is a pain. I tend to do it in bulk, and then I have to wait around for them to dry out. Since I use cheap-o brushes, my brushes tend to shed everywhere. Very annoying. 
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Friday, November 7, 2014

 Hi, I'm Natalie, and I'm addicted to lip products!  I apparently use these four products every single day, all the time. It was a bit funny to round them all up! I'll do individual reviews on them as well, but this is just an overview. 

My amazing Aunt Nancy sent me everything single one of these products. She's cool like that. 

This grapefruit lip balm hangs out in my backpack. It gets used a lot. 

Tatcha Camellia Lip Balm sits proudly on my desk. 

Green Tea Hurraw lip balm. LOVE. It's on my bedside table, but I throw it in my purse. 

I use this stuff at night. I need to research it more, but it's wonderfully rich!

Honestly, this post has made me stop and realise how much stuff I put on my lips everyday. I suppose I gave myself an intervention of sorts!
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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's the last part of the Sweet Electric Blog Interview! If you haven't read Part I or Part II, go check them out and come back! The last section of questions I asked Zoe were general/random questions. Zoe is a major inspiration and mentor to me... you should go check out her blog. 

1. What is one question you wished people asked you more often? Why?

Ooh,  thats a tough one! I guess with regards to blogging, it would be how has it changed you as a person? I think blogging as made me rediscover my passion for writing and made me slightly more confident. Blogging is an amazing hobby but you definitely develop a few skills and attributes along the way.

2. How would you describe yourself, and what you do, without using the word "blogger"?

I'm a freelance writer when I don't blog. Its actually blogging that gave me the courage to pursue it as a career and I do write beauty articles for clients so there is a bit of a crossover.

3. What is the most rewarding part of what you do?

I love blogging in general - creating content and knowing people read/comment is a great feeling. I love reading other blogs too though and I do feel proud when another blogger in the community achieves something amazing!

I hope you enjoyed this Sweet Electric Blog Interview! I'm actually advertising on her blog this month, which I think is pretty exciting. I've got a cute little sidebar on her blog.

If I do another blog interview, who should I try and interview?
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's been a while since I've experienced proper cold. It's not my fault-- I lived in Singapore for three years, and spent a week or two somewhere chilly every year. So, here's a list of things that have been affecting me beauty-wise, and what I've been doing about them!

1) My skin is super dry.

I honestly haven't had this problem in three years, save the one time it didn't rain for six weeks and the whole island turned brown. Anyways, my skin is noticeably tighter than usual and has this weird ashy look to it. What I've figured out is that a weekly exfoliation followed by tonnes and tonnes of lotion does the trick for a couple of days. Also, not scratching.

2) My hair is fluffy.

I think there's a more technical term for this, but my hair has changed moods completely. Instead of simply being frizzy, the top is dry, brittle and somewhat feather like. It's strange. I have been experimenting with coconut oil on my hair, but that's a whole other story (and blog post).

3) My nails aren't growing.

Something I really took for granted in Singapore is how fast my nails grew. I could break a nail, file it into an oval, and leave it alone for a week for all to be well. Now I'm not sure if my nails have grown in weeks! I started rubbing vitamin E oil into my cuticles though, and noticed some improvement.

4) My eyes are RED.

This one is so annoying. I noticed when I first moved back to the States that my eyes felt really dry, and it's just because there is so much less humidity. Now that it's cold, I have horribly red eyes, particularly in the evening. Looks like I'm going to have to get eye drops.

What cold weather beauty problems are you running into? Winter is coming, so it will only get worse from here... so any suggestions on what to do?
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Monday, November 3, 2014

WOOHOO! Ice cream! No, this isn't a beauty post. But I'm a beauty/life blogger, and ice cream is a huge part of college life. It's the fuel behind last minute papers and power reading.

I found out about Scoopsies through the Boston Bloggers Facebook group. Being a college student who LOVES ice cream, I was naturally interested in an ice-cream delivery service. It's a start-up company based here in Boston. The company delivers to Cambridge, Somerville, Allston, Brighton, Newton, Brookline, Watertown, Back Bay and Jamaica Plain.... but the important part is of course that it delivers to Boston University.

Chloe, who is the mastermind behind all the delicious ice cream, isn't planning on opening an ice cream shop. However, she started the 100 Scoopsies project (1 year to make 100 flavours). It was successful, and now it's an ice cream brand. I think it's cool that she gets inspired by basically any sort of food, and travelling really helps her come up with new flavours.

What's also cool about Scoopsies is that there are vegan options! I'm not vegan, but I like using vegan products and eating vegan food. The Vegan Turkish Coffee ice cream looks simply amazing-- and I love Turkish coffee!  Chloe also tries to use local ingredients, which is good for the environment.

The pictures are Chloe's... I've been eating it straight out of the pint, and it's darn good that way too. 

I requested a pink of Smoked Sea Salt Caramel, and it did not disappoint. The ice cream was wonderfully creamy without being overly heavy. The flavour was a bit of an acquired taste. My roommates were put off by the "smoked" aspect of the ice cream... which is precisely what I loved about it! Smoked Sea Salt Caramel has a wonderful depth to it.  It combines my three favourite things: caramel, salty foods, and smokey foods. YUMMY! I must confess I ate through half the pint in one sitting. It's that good!

So, do you want some delicious ice cream? Head over to the Scoopsies website and use the discount code NATILLIE for 15% off your order at checkout.

The pint of Smoked Sea Salt Caramel ice cream from Scoopsies was provided to me by the company. 
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