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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years is the perfect time to make changes to your life. It's not exactly a fresh start, but it's a good opportunity to see yourself in a new light. Here are my three New Years resolutions for 2015. You'll note there are no blogging-specific ones... that's for good reason. While I love blogging and it's become a huge part of my life, I don't want to ever force myself to do it. Therefore, I'm going to try to keep myself healthy this year and good blogging will come from that.

1. Going largely vegetarian!

I'll be the first person to confess I'm not big on the animal-rights movement, so this resolution has nothing to do with that. I've always been interested in being vegetarian, but I've never had the willpower to do it. So, I'm going to try to do 2/3 meals a day vegetarian, and work my way up to only eating meat on the weekends! In university, I often find myself eating vegetarian purely because the meat options are gross, so hopefully this won't be too difficult.

2. Staying fit!

I've been dancing a lot less since going to university, so it's a lot easier to sit around and get fat. I'm currently signed up for hip-hop, but since I really hate that sort of music I will probably be dropping it and trying to find other classes. However the dance situation works out, I'm going to start going to the gym twice a week as a minimum. The American diet is very high in fats, sugars and starches... and the portion sizes are enormous! In Singapore I never really worried about my weight, but in America I think everyone has to keep an eye out on it.

My friends in Turkey in their natural states. 

3. Working with people

I think I've mentioned it before on the blog, but I've been dating this guy for nearly three years. We've had our ups and downs like every other couple, but something we've recently decided we need to do is work together. In order to make any relationship work, working together rather than against each other is very important. So, I'm going to try to be a better listener and consider other people's points of view. There's a stereotype that International Relations (and Political Science) students are unyielding and insufferable. Outside of the classroom, I'd like to avoid this as much as possible.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I might be posting this a little prematurely, but that's all right!
2014 was a really exciting year for me. I went to Turkey. I went to prom for a third year in a row (with a different guy every year, yikes). I graduated from high school. I moved halfway around the world. I started this blog. I started university. I started modelling. I've met new people and made amazing friends.

Here's a photo recap of my year that I would like to believe is better than the one Facebook made for me.

Dancing in Troy.

My friends, in Turkey, with Turkish ice cream in hand. 

Prom 2014

I guess my friends didn't like me very much. 

Graduation with the dancers. Did you know wearing white is traditional? I didn't. 

Then I started university. This photo sums it up better than a pretty campus picture. 

Okay, so it wasn't as exciting as I thought it was going to be. I had an amazing year anyways, and I hope you all did too!

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Monday, December 29, 2014

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems like every other advert I've seen this season has been about detoxing.  I could buy detox tea, detox bath salts, detox soap... the list goes on. Now, I thought the fad died out over the summer, but clearly I am wrong. Detoxing remains a popular at-home remedy for basically everything. Right now, people want to lose their holiday weight... or at least they will after New Years. The New Year represents another chance for people to clean up their acts... so some people start detoxing. Sorry, I don't buy it.

The thing everyone seems to be afraid of these days is toxins. What the heck toxins are, I don't know. Ask one person, and it's the manufacturing chemicals used in daily life. Ask another, toxins are metals in our water and soil that we consume. Ask someone else, and it's fats and mysterious chemicals in meats. Whatever they are, everyone is afraid of toxins.

Until someone tells me what exactly we're all supposed to be fearing, I don't buy it. We have to accept that modern life comes with its drawbacks, and chemical exposure is one of them. Everything, including our own bodies, are made of chemicals. I'm sure this horse has been beaten plenty of times, but radon is organic. There are definitely things to fear that can make us sick, but throwing the net wide with "toxins" seems a bit silly to me.

The thing about detoxing is even though there's nothing solidly scientific about it, people are into it. A quick Google search will yield various recipes and options for detoxing-- anything from bathing in sea salt to cutting out fruit is apparently going to detox you. I love epson salt baths, and was pleasantly surprised that my winter ritual is considered a good way to detox. I don't think detoxing in little cases like these hurt, but I'm not going out of my way to detox.

What blows my mind is how judgemental people get about detoxing. Nothing is going to work for everybody, but there's no reason to judge them on it. Detoxing, like dieting, is not a religion. There's no way to know it works for sure, and anecdotes DO NOT prove anything. The judgement surrounding detoxing makes for a really toxic atmosphere at times. I don't know if we can truly get rid of the "environmental toxins" that surround us... but we can work to change the toxic social and emotional environments around us. Joining the detoxing bandwagon seems too, well, toxic for me.

Instead of working on detoxing my body of whatever "toxins" might be lurking about, I'm going to work on reducing the emotional toxicity of my environment. Cutting negative people out of my life, reducing stress, and focusing on positivity are much more definite ways to "detox"!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

I already did a 2014 Holiday Gift Guide on the blog, but I realised yesterday that I never mentioned what I would like in my stocking. While the under $20 items on my end of the gift guide could probably work as well, I thought this would be fun. The list gets a little more.. um, interesting as it goes.  

I don't even know what the Lush Butterbear smells like, it's just so cute. Therefore it should be in my stocking.

Oh poor baby, I think the  Lush Melting Snowman is simply adorable. Apparently using it will make the skin smell like Christmas. But mostly I want him because he's darling. 

Speaking of marzipan, I love it very much. However I haven't eaten any in three years since I was living in Singapore. Thankfully Bergen Marzipan is on Amazon so this could show up in my stocking for me to eat in a single sitting. Don't mess with my love of marzipan. 

While we're on the topic of things vaguely related to fruit, I might as well mention this awesome strawberry set from the Body Shop that includes my favourite strawberry body butter. 

All these products are great, aren't they? They're quite realistic and not terribly expensive. I'm such an easy person to buy presents for, I know. Or at least that's what I hope you think. Below are the two things I really want for Christmas. Take it with a grain of salt!

Another great Christmas "present" would be some conditional offers to the schools I applied to via UCAS. Doesn't that sound wonderful? I know the applications haven't even processed yet, but I think an acceptance letter should be in my stocking. Santa, make it happen. 

An acceptance letter or conditional offer or whatever would be awesome! It would really make my day. Only one other thing would make me even happier....

...At the end of the day, the best stocking stuffer to give a college student is cash. Just fill the entire stocking full, it's okay if some sticks out at the top. Living as a college student is a weird mix between expensive and cheap. Therefore, while all the stuff I listed above would be fine and dandy, a giant stocking full of money would make any student, or person for that matter, very happy. 

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I love the Christmas season, but I am the first to admit I do not like Christmas music. Well, that's not fair. I don't like the same old Christmas music that loops in department stores non-stop until I want to tear my hair out. Seriously, "Santa Baby" is the most annoying Christmas song out there.
 Tearing one's hair out is not very good for beauty! Thankfully, there are cool musicians doing great  things with Christmas music. Here are three of my favourite songs of this season.

I'm not religious, but this is one of my favourite Christmas songs anyways this year. It's the first time I've really heard Mary being portrayed as a mother... and I think that's beautiful. The video is beautiful and Pentatonix is great as always.

I grew up with Mannheim Steamrollers, so of course I like this song! This is a neat update of the "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy". 99% of Nutcracker music makes me twitch-- as a ballet dancer, I've danced to almost all of it at some point. However, I think this song is really cool.

If you haven't seen this video yet, you're missing out because it's really, really cute. The song is nice and all, but the video makes it really cute. Also, Idina Menzel is amazing.

What do you think of these Christmas songs? I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets tired of the cold classics pretty quickly! What is your favourite Christmas song, and what's one that drives you nuts?
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Woohoo! The first round of Christmas baking is complete. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but I love baking. I'm pretty good at it too-- when I was about 12 I learned how to make a lemon cake for my mom's birthday and have been baking ever since. I love making cupcakes because decorating them is so much fun.

I'm going to be giving these away to my new neighbours! After all, what better way to break the ice than with a beautiful Christmas-y cupcake? I know cookies are more standard, but these are just too fun to pass up.

Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season!

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Monday, December 22, 2014

So I know I ought to vlog more, but it's all good now! Here's a pre-Christmas vlog of our beautiful Christmas tree and general decorations. I had fun filming this. I think my parents were very amused that I was talking to myself with a camera in hand. Actually, I know they were, because they were laughing with/at me during filming. All in good fun of course.

Since I know my aunt reads this blog and actually watches my vlogs, I'll give her a shout-out here:

 Hi Aunt Nancy! Mom says thanks for that winged horse ornament you got her and Dad like a million years ago. We miss you, come visit New Jersey.

For my blogger friends who talked me into vlogging from the start:

See? I did another one! These things are time-consuming to make and edit. Much respect to people who do this all the time.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

It wouldn't be fair to do Crystal Maiden makeup without doing her older sister's as well! Lina is a fiery hero from Dota 2. She's a burst-damage hero who likes it hot. 

Lina has distinct white markings on her face that I initially did not know how to interpret into everyday style makeup. I ended up using this new Liquid Illuminator I picked up from NYX to highlight the areas of my face where Lina has markings. This brings light to my face. Her markings are on her chin, cheekbones and above her eyebrows-- places you would highlight anyways. 

Lina appears to be wearing a smokey eye-- there's little colour above the crease of her eyelids. She's the sexy one of the two sisters, so going dark and smokey on her makes sense. Go for an eyeshadow that's got some sparkle to it-- my base colour for the smokey eye was called Snakebite from the Naked 2 palette.  For lips, adding shimmer over bare lips concentrates the shine in the folds. This gives a slightly magical touch to the lips without being overpowering. 

Until next week in the Nerd Makeup series.... 
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

One of my favourite things to do while traveling is shopping-- I'm the first to admit it! When I was living in Singapore, I made a point of buying ethnic clothes from the different places I went. As a result, I have beautiful sarongs from Bali, a traditional outfit from Myanmar, an ao dai from Vietnam,  a sari from Sri Lanka... etc. I'll talk about those later on the blog because they are back home in New Jersey.

Me in my ao dai. Copyright William McDaniel 

Since I'm ethnically Chinese, I decided to only bring my qipao to college. For whatever reason, I thought there would be an occasion to wear it.  Wearing Chinese traditional clothing can be tricky because it has become so fetishised by the West.  However, a modest cut and a modern print make the qipao quite fashionable if I say so myself.

Wearing ethnic outfits can be difficult. Many ethnic clothes have been reduced to costume pieces, or only worn on special occasions.  It looks silly to wear super-natural makeup with such outfits, and in these cases it would be a shame to look too "Western". Here's what I decided to do. 

I tried to blend the concepts of Eastern and Western beauty together. I've got a distinct black eyeliner on my top lid, but did not blend the colour down. I also have slightly paler skin than usual (the high neckline helps hid any lazy blending) and ever-so-slightly pink cheeks. In the picture on the left, I have a fuchsia sparkly lip colour on for an updated, modern look. Since the rest of my face is so traditional, and the qipao is dark blue, this contrast works. On the right (sitting in the Boston Opera House) I'm wearing a semi-gloss lipstick that doesn't come off too easily. It's a more practical choice when one is eating and drinking. 

Essentially, makeup for ethnic outfits ought to strike a balance between updated and traditional. You don't want to look like something out of a history book, but you don't want to go too crazy either! 

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Since I'm a freshman in college now, I thought it would be fun to write high school freshman Natalie a letter. She was an interesting person... to say the least. Also, there are some funny photos of freshman year Natalie that might as well see the light of day again. 

          Ikonas Photography                                                       Hannah Weinronk Photography

Dear Freshman-in-High-School Natalie,

Congratulations for not throwing up on the first day of high school. You don't throw up on the first day of college, either, which ought to reassure you that everything will work out okay.

I wish you had learned how to study, because freshman-in-college Natalie is writing you this letter instead of working on a paper or Anthropology.  It happens. Anyways, I wish I had a chance to talk to you. Hopefully it would get you to stop wearing that awful eyeshadow-eyeliner-contouring thing that you keep doing. As much as I like gothic rock now, dressing like that really wasn't necessary. At least now I get to laugh about your pictures.

I really wish you hadn't hacked away at your bangs one day. It looked really stupid for months, and Im still trying to grow them out. Thanks. You're also very pretty, not fat, blah blah blah. I wish you had gotten over yourself sooner, because as soon as you did, you got so much more confidence! Boys were not into you because you had no confidence and tried way too hard to be different.

You don't know it yet, but you're going to move to Singapore before Sophomore year of high school. It's going to be a crazy three years that changes your point of view on everything. You're going to learn more about dance than you thought you would. You're going to travel Asia and eat delicious things. You're going to meet amazing people. Some of your best friends are going to be made in Singapore. You're going to lose your friends back in the US because you're too different now.

Yes, you get a boyfriend. Your relationship is going to be an adventure that lasts far longer than you ever expected it to, and you're going to learn that love works in various ways. You're going to have ups and downs, and learn a lot about yourself from him. You're going to find out relationships take work and love isn't always enough. There's trust, hope and patience in a relationship.  There's going to be a point where you decide to go to college to follow him. It sounds crazy now because you think you're so independent and strong, but life works in funny ways. Then you're going to apply to transfer in to England, because you haven't gotten your fill of international student life yet.

Freshman-in-High-School Natalie, you're a pretty cool person. I think you would probably bother me now, but that's natural. You don't know what lies ahead of you, and that's okay because even now I have no idea. You'll get out of that little town eventually. Give it time, and everything will be okay.

I don't know why you thought this looks cool. It doesn't. Sorry, me-from-the-past. 

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Friday, December 12, 2014

For those of you who don't know, I'm a little bit of a nerd. I'm a fan of Dota2 (though I'm not very good at it). One of my favourite characters in it is a character called Crystal Maiden. She's a master of ice, which is perfect for winter.

I've created two versions of this look. The first is a more day-to-day wearable look inspired by the Crystal Maiden.  It's pretty cute for a wintery date!

The  highlights of this look are pink lips, pink cheeks, and blue/silvery eyes. For whatever reason the eyes did not capture well in photograph. There's blue under the corner of my eyes and on the outer edges. Silver is concentrated on my inner corners. The eyes are covered in a light layer of white glitter.

The second look is a more literal interpretation of Crystal Maiden's look.

Okay, so I'm no makeup master. However, I think this look would be nice for a cosplay or dramatic holiday party! I created a blue colour gradient starting with navy and finishing with a super light blue near the brow. This creates more depth than a simple ice blue colour wash. I kept the pink lips and pink cheeks, but removed some of the lip colour. 

Since I'm not a blonde-haired blue-eyed girl, it's hard to pull off the super-pale Crystal Maiden look. Therefore, I added more colour to her without warming up the look too much-- which is why I used pink lips instead of red. 

What do you think? Should I try more nerd-inspired makeup? I think this is going to be my Friday series until I run out of characters!

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

For many people, December exists as Christmas time. For the rest of the blogging community, it's Blogmas. However for college students, December means final exams. I'm currently putting off finishing a paper by blogging, but this is a lot more fun. Here are some ideas for how to get into the holiday spirit despite being weighed down by exams... that are how much of my grade?!

1. Listen to your favourite Christmas songs!

I always feel like a total weirdo around Christmas time because this is my absolute favourite Christmas song.  I grew up with Mannheim Steamroller around Christmas time, which is apparently unusual. Anyways, "Pat-A-Pan" is the greatest Christmas song ever. The video that goes with it is super sad, and I didn't understand it until very recently. Now I find it a bit amusing that I loved it so much, as I'm an International Relations student and the video has to do with World War I.

2. Drink something from Starbucks, because they've got Christmas-y cups.

A slightly artsy-fartsy editing on your Starbucks cup is a must to conceal ugly dorm carpeting

I'm not sponsored by Starbucks in any way, shape or form. However, I think their red cups for Christmas are so cute. Also, the coffee is a necessity while studying.

3. Decorate your dorm (creatively)!

My roommates might kill me for posting this on my blog, but since they never said it wasn't okay, I think it's fair game. Last night instead of doing much of anything, we put up a Christmas tree of sorts. I drew the snowflakes and the garland. It's beautiful, I know.

4. Online shop!

Christmas is about the spirit of giving, right? Yeah, well when you're in college living off instant $0.69 noodles, getting things is pretty great. I've been poking around   MarcJacobsBeauty       recently and some of their stuff looks simply amazing! The Tonite Lights Glitter Dust (pictured below) looks so pretty. Also, I would probably die of happiness if someone got me the In the Rouge Gift Set. Just saying.

Interested? Discover Luxury Reinvented.

5. Take festive selfies and put them on your blog.

Put on festive makeup and take cute pictures! After all, you don't really have to study, do you? If you don't have a blog, post them to other forms of social media like your Twitter. Or just save them on your phone.  Add lots of cute effects you like from PicMonkey. Whatever floats your boat, right?

Hope you're in the spirit now! What do you do to get in the spirit when you're not really feeling it?

*I am affiliated with MarcJacobsBeauty*
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I'm officially a college student. I'm well on my way to pulling my first all-nighter, which is brilliant because I've got a terrible cold that is making me miserable.  Honestly I'm a bit worried it's turned into something nastier.

I'm currently sitting in the little hallway in my dorm between the two bedrooms. I don't know if it's worth taking a two hour nap before class, because I'm terrified I won't wake up. This is why you do not leave papers to the last minute. This is why you write things well ahead of time, no matter how much homework you think you have two weekends before its due.

I had a dance show yesterday and today. I was in an improv piece, which was really different from everything I've done before. Normally I've got a set routine of steps to do and places to stand. This show was wonderful because I was free to listen to the music and dance from my heart.

Sorry this was such a boring blog post. Until finals are over this blog is probably going to be a bit dead. School comes first, after all!

At least it snowed today :D
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Friday, December 5, 2014

 My eighteenth birthday was tea time at the Fullerton Hotel!

Something that has taken me a long time to figure out is that girlfriends are incredibly important. They are the ones who laugh when you laugh, cry when you cry, and are always up for something fun to do. The best girlfriends will always be supportive and listen to whatever is going on.

It's important to remember that a guy can't be everything for you. He's not going to get his nails done at the salon with you after six hours of hunting for the perfect dress. He's not going to kick you in the butt when you're being unrealistic, and he's not going to give you the same tough love that a girlfriend will.

I met my best friend in Singapore when I first moved there. It was funny how fast we clicked... it just seemed like we had known each other for a long time. She introduced me to her friends, and some of them turned out to be great friends. Despite going to different colleges, we all keep in touch. With girlfriends, you can be really silly sometimes. We're plotting to have kids around the same time, and agreed that we'd love each other as in-laws!

Girlfriends are some of the most important people in your life. Yes, there are some girls that turn out to not be good friends, but there are always people like that. Sometimes it takes time to build strong friendships, but it's worth it. I wish I had realised this sooner in Middle School and High School. Girlfriends are awesome!

Silly dance buddies!

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When on earth did this happen? How did Thanksgiving manage to go by that quickly? Why am I back at university preparing for my first round of college finals?

Oh, right. It's December.

I wish I could say I had an amazing line up of posts for this month that are gloriously festive, but that would be a lie. I've got two papers to write and three exams to study for! In sixteen days I'll be on the train back to New Jersey. Between now and then, though....

Enough of me complaining about how crazy things are. In beauty updates, I got a new shampoo and conditioner that I will talk about on this blog after I use it a couple more times. I love it, but it's got yucky chemicals in it (like everything else). You can't always win, right?

Also, I had a really bad allergic reaction when I was in New Jersey, and that's made me pretty disheartened about beauty. How could I post about how to look pretty when I was covered in hives? Well, I'll get back in the saddle and get going on this blog.

It's December, so....  CHRISTMAS IS COMING!
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