Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Lust List: 10 Etsy Picks for September 28th

This week's Lust List is also from Etsy, but I will be branching out either next week or the week after. I'm seriously considering buying a few of the things on this list, but that's a couple paychecks away at this point. So sweep them up before I can get to them!

top to bottom, left to right

Windsor Castle Clutch from FABbyCAB     $52
Queen's Guards Earrings from LondonDesign     $11.61
Heart Ring from Twinklebird     $76.39
Nude Leather Lion Bracelet from BoutiqueMinimaliste     $32
Hermes Brooch from pinkneondesign     $22.97
Relax Mirror Wall Decor from StudioLiscious     $22
Edinburgh Map Pillow from mybeardedpigeon     $52.63
Bracket Bookends from DesignAtelierArticle     $47.22
Paper Heart Garland from CoutureByAyca     $8-$28 (depending on length)
Walt Whitman Quote Print from perfectlaughter     $20

I'd love to know what purchases you're thinking of making and what types of Lust Lists you'd like to see next (Specific stores? Seasonal? Specific items of clothing/accessories? Home stuff?). So leave a message in the comments section, you will be rewarded with my undying affection.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Internet Friends

Today's post is about friendships made over the internet. So before I get started I want to make this clear. No, not everyone on the internet wants to do you hard, but those people do exist. So be careful and use your common sense. Don't give out personal information to people you've met online and exercise EXTREME caution when meeting them in real life. I have always chosen to meet in crowded places where any I unease I may display will be noticed by those around me (as opposed to many crowded places where other people are too busy with what they're doing to notice strange behavior of those around them). Also, despite being in my 20s, I always let me parents knows my exact plans for meeting up with someone new (and they generally make me check in periodically while doing this).

Safety warning aside, the internet is a great place to meet new people. I have been fortunate enough to make so many good friends online. I joined micro-blogging site tumblr in September 2009 and that website has been so good to me, in terms of friendships. Just over 4 years later, I have more than half a dozen close friends who I met through the site, and that many more who are on their way to become good friends of mine. One of the best parts? These friends live all over, from a few towns away to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Do you know what that means? They all bring a fresh perspective to life (and to my problems, when I need advice). Despite our shared interests (more on that soon), we lead very different lives. We grew up in different towns, in different families, among different friends. Their choices and beliefs are informed by vastly different experiences. Which means when they talk about their lives, I sometimes get my own beliefs shaken up. We all form our own assumptions based on our experiences, but they aren't always right. Conversation with other people helps us shed those prejudices. One of my friends was home-schooled in rural Wisconsin. He was responsible for making sure he learned what he needed to know. I will be honest, I am not nearly self-motivated enough to be responsible for every aspects of my own education. I have let too many reading assignments slip through the cracks. And that's with teachers and professors there to keep me on track. But Blaine did it. I have another friend who is from Ontario, Canada. That's less than 3 hours from where I went to college (SUNY University at Buffalo, FYI), but the Canadian and American education systems are different, especially after high school. She completed a shorter, more career oriented program than I did. And despite the fact that most Americans have been conditioned to believe that 4 year Bachelors programs are superior to programs like yours, we both ended up with similar jobs. But she found employment in less time than I did, and her job is much more involved than mine. And that taught me that the path I'd always assumed was best (and I assumed a 4 year degree was the best option for everyone), wasn't necessarily so.

In high school and college (and even after college, I will admit) it can be hard to find people around you who love the same things you love do, and with the same intensity that you love them. The internet is handy for this. It might as well be a giant magnet for people who are really, really interested in specific things. It's home to so many message boards and website specifically for people who want to talk extensively about a particular thing (or many things). Long on there it is, a group of people who love what you love and will gladly spend hours talking about it with you. Are you still devoted to a band whose members have gone their separate ways? There's an online home for people still mourning that loss. Are you so into a book or tv show that you want to expand on that universe via fan fiction? There are multiple websites out there filled with people who do the exact same thing. Is your bathroom overflowing with beauty products, so much so that you can barely see the counter? There are people on youtube who make a living talking about makeup and skincare and hair products. There is a place for everything you could possibly want to talk about.

Around 2004/2005 my favorite band, Something Corporate, broke up. I listened to other bands, including SoCo front-man Andrew McMahon's new project, Jack's Mannequin. But Something Corporate was still my favorite. So in December 2009, when Something Corporate announced they would be reuniting for a festival in California, I was overjoyed (they would go on to play 2 more festivals and do a month-long reunion tour). But I didn't really have anyone to share that excitement with. So I turned to tumblr and tracked down a bunch of people who were as excited as I was. We talked about out favorite songs, watched old interviews, and counted down the days until the first reunion show. It was so much fun. Eventually, some of us even attended reunion tour shows together. And the excitement died down, we kept talking. We shared new music, talked about school. It's been 3 and half years since then, and those people are some of my closest friends. They know things about me that I haven't shared with friends from college. My life is so much richer and easier to navigate because I have them.

me, at the Something Corporate reunion tour, with the band's drummer (Brian Ireland)

In short, there are amazing people talking about amazing things on the internet. They have so much to offer. You have so much to offer. Go find them

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Booklist: Fractured Fairy Tales & Story Retellings

I am a sucker for story retellings and fractured fairy tales. They're some of my favorite stories to read, and I've devoured them like mad over the years. I love seeing all the different takes on the same situations. Monty Python and the Holy Grail is one of my favorite movies, and I also enjoyed movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, all the Disney Princess movies and even Troy (although they took a lot of liberties with the story in that one). I decided that, since I feel so familiar with the theme, it would be a good place to start off for a booklist. I've included 7 of my top picks, as well as a series that I love. They cover Classical mythology, Arthurian legend, classic books and some of my favorite fairy tales. I hope you enjoy!

left to right, top to bottom

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (Greek Mythology/Trojan War/Patroclus)
Quicksilver by Stephanie Spinner (Greek Mythology/Hermes)
Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell (Arthurian Legend/The Lady of Shalott)
Ophelia by Lisa M. Klein (Hamlet)
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (Peter Pan)
East by Edith Pattou (East of the Sun and West of the Moon)
Swan Kingdom by Zoƫ Marriott (The Wild Swans)

left to right

The Once Upon a Time series of retellings is an amazing and comprehensive series consisting of 19 books covering nearly all the standard European fairy tales as well as Arabian Nights, The Ballad of Mulan, The Last of the Mohicans, The Magic Flute, and Anastasia. I've read all but one of them (it's currently on it's way to me from another library), and there's something for everyone.

In the process of putting this list together, I realized that I have read an even larger number of story retellings than I realized. I've always known that I've read a lot of them, but the list was even longer than I anticipated. In interest of keeping this blog post manageable, I didn't include them all. However, I did put together a list on goodreads of the 49 books of this type that I have read (and remembered enough to put on a list). This will be an even 50 once interlibrary loan delivers to me that Jack and the Beanstalk retelling.

Do you have any recommendations of fractured fairy tales that I should check out? Let me know in the comments! I hear Robin McKinley is fantastic, but I don't even know where to start. Also, what is your favorite fairy tale/folk tale?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Lust List: 10 Etsy Picks

I may or may not having an online shopping problem. My younger sister certainly likes to tell me I do. But I'm pretty sure, that if she saw the gorgeous items I've found online and not bought, she would admire my restraint. Etsy is one of my favorite places to browse, and I've certainly made more than a few purchases from their shops. Here are 10 items that have recently caught my eye:

top to bottom, left to right

Bee Specimen Ring from BoutiqueMinimaliste     $12

Fox Cub Brooch from IrenkaR     $32

Exercise Gives You Endorphins Tank from ActivateApparel     $29

Detox Bath Salts from Herbivore Botanicals     $18

Buttercup Lingerie Set from ohhhlulu     $79

Sea Urchin Ornaments from StarHomeStudio     $33

Swish Photo Locket from HeartworksByLori     $60

Ashum Ayn Hawa Silver Stackable Rings by gemagenta     $80.82

Burgundy Violet Velvet Leggings from DGstyle     $35

Monday, September 16, 2013

Book List: My 5 Most Anticipated Releases for September & October

I love books. Which is a good thing, because I intend to be a children's and young adult librarian. So I read a lot. I keep a series of wishlists on Amazon that are filled with nothing but books. Currently there are 172 books on those lists, 44 of which have yet to be released. There are some really promising books coming out between now and the end of October, and I'm especially excited for 5 of them.

Tomorrow, September 17th, is the release date for Maggie Stiefvater's latest novel, The Dream Thieves. It's her 8th young adult novel and the second in her 4 book Raven Cycle. I really loved the first book in the series, The Raven Boys. I've read all of Maggie's books, and it's my favorite so far. The series is based around a girl named Blue and four boys who attend a nearby private school. The book itself is moody, full of magic and mythology, and all of the characters are intriguing.

September 24th is the release date for Tamora Pierce's Battle Magic. It follows her characters Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy, all of whom have appeared in previous books set in her Emelan universe. This novel sees the three mages working to prepare for an impending war. I'll be honest with you, Tamora Pierce is, hands down,  my favorite author of all time. I have read all of her books and loved every last one of them. Her world building is fantastic and easy to picture, with rich details and a great multi-cultural element. She writes so many wonderful characters and her female characters are especially believable, with their own unique set of strengths and faults. I guarantee I will have this book in my hands on release day, and I'll probably devour it quickly. Tamora Pierce is that good.

Gayle Forman's Just One Day was one of my favorite books I read in 2013 (although it was released in 2012), so I'm very much excited for it's companion novel, Just One Year, which releases October 10th. The first books tells the story of Allyson, an American teenager visiting Europe before starting college. While in England, she meets Willem, a Dutch actor. The two spend a whirlwind day in Paris, but when Allyson wakes up the next day, Willem is gone. The book covers the year following that day, and how it effects Allyson as she starts college. I loved both of the main characters, and found the side characters (most of which Allyson meets at college) brought a lot to the story. The sequel follows the same timespan as its predecessor, only told from Willem's point of view. I'm definitely curious to see what he was up to during that time frame, and I'm especially interested in seeing the people in his life, who we only got hints about in the first novel.

There's another sequel on my list (what can I say, I love a good series), and it's Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund. It's the sequel to For Darkness Show the Stars (a favorite read of 2012), which was inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion, but set in a post-apocolyptic world. Across a Star Swept Sea is set in the same world as it's predecessor, and also at the same time, but in a different location that responded to the "Reduction" in a much different manner than the first book in the series. This book was inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, which I admittedly am not as familiar with as Jane Austen's work, but am looking forward to nonetheless. Also, Peterfreund released a short e-book prequel to this upcoming release and reading it last month has definitely whet my appetite and made me even more eager for this latest book

The final book on my list, Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow, is the only non-sequel book on my list. This comes out on October 29th. It takes place in a world where the dead are very much a threat to the safety of the living and are kept in check by women who magically knot cords and yarn to repel them. These women are called Binders. Otter, the book's protagonist, is the daughter of a very powerful Binder, and takes for granted that one day she will be one too. When her mother's power turns inward and becomes a danger to herself, Otter finds she must rise to the occasion and accept responsibility and a power she no longer wants. There's so much I find appealing about this book, but the two big things are mother-daughter relationships and the failure and danger of power. I'm definitely excited to check it out.

These are the books I'm most excited to check out for the rest of September and October, but there are still other releases that I'm anticipating. Let me know in the comments what books you're interested in reading soon!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Today's Birchbox Order

I was trying to think of something really interesting to use as an inaugural post, but I can't so I'll just kick things off with the Birchbox order I placed today. Just as an FYI, that does not mean that this blog will focus exclusively on beauty-related things, or even that those will be a majority of posts. It's going to be more all-encompassing.

As some of you may know, Birchbox is a beauty product sampling box. For $10 a month, they send you a few samples (usually 4-5 plus a lifestyle sample) of makeup, hair, and other beauty-related products. The items you're sent a chosen based on a survey you fill out on their site, which you can update at any time. There are many similar beauty sampling boxes, but I'm particularly fond of Birchbox. I think the price is reasonable, I'm usually very happy with the samples that I receive, and they have a great rewards system.

For every sample item you receive in your box, or every full-sized item you buy through their online shop, you are able to submit a review to their site. For every item you review, you receive 10 Birchbox points. This usually works out to about 50 points per box. You're also given 1 point for each dollar you spend in their shop. For every 100 points you accrue, they give you $10 in credit to their shop, which you can spend on whatever full-sized products they stock.

As of today, I had over 200 points sitting on my account, which translates to a $20 credit. So, I decided to pick up a few items:
I received the Curl Keeper from Curly Hair Solutions in my July Birchbox and I'm starting to run low. I think it really helps define my curls. When I go without this product, they end up looking much less like spirals and much more like a mess. And unlike a lot of curl-defining products, this doesn't leave my hair hair feeling stiff or crunchy. It also claims to help with frizz, but I find that I still need to use a separate product for that. Still, I have yet to find to find another product that enhances my curls the way this does. Plus it's only $10 for 100ml, and since the 30ml sample has lasted me 2 months, I consider this to be a steal.

The second product I decided to pick up is the purse size version of Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray. This product is a cult favorite. I've seen it appear in posts from countless beauty bloggers and vloggers, as well as in magazines and on websites as celebrities' favorites. It's supposed to be the best product for giving your hair volume and texture. As I mentioned before, I have fairly curly hair so I don't really feel the need for more volume extending outwards. But as far as volume from my scalp upwards, I definitely want bigger. Still, the full-size of this product (8.5 ounces) retails for nearly $40, and that's a lot to shell out for a product I'm not sure will agree with me. At $19.50 for 2.2 ounces, the purse size isn't exactly a steal, but I felt better about parting with that money.

That was really all I intended to buy, but my hands have been looking a bit rough lately so I decided that I could really use a nice hand cream. I'm a huge fan of Tocca's candles and perfumes, so now seemed like the perfect time to scoop up one of their hand creams. I have their perfume in Cleopatra and Florence (and I'm looking to expand that collection big time), but I wanted to add something new to my collection. I've smelled their Stella perfume before and, like nearly all of their scents, it's amazing. So I added their Crema de Mano Luxe in Stella to my cart. It sells for $20, which isn't that bad for a brand that I've had nothing but good experiences with.

Every month, Birchbox does a 24 hour Discovery Dash, in which they give a big discount on a few products for 24 hours. This month's products included the Coola Liplux SPF 30 lipbalm in Original, marked down to $6 from it's usual $12. This year, I've taken up running as a hobby, and when I'm going out for a run I like a lip balm with an SPF. Unfortunately, my go-to lipbalm doesn't have an and the Chapstick I have been using just doesn't cut it when it comes to staying on my lips through an entire run. I'm hoping that this product will offer me the SPF I need when I run and stay throughout the whole thing. I'll let you know if it delivers.

After subtracting the $20 in credit that I've earned and adding in tax, my Birchbox order came in at a total of $40.29. That doesn't put too much of a dent in my pocket, and I have high hopes for these four products. Does anyone else subscribe to Birchbox? Have you gotten any good samples lately? Have you tried out any good products in general? Let me know in the comments! And let me know if you have any suggestions for what I should post next.