Happy 1-Month Birthday, Skylights!

Friday, April 17, 2015

I totally took the week off there. And the shit blogger award goes to... Does it make it better if I say that I have content lined up for the rest of the month? :)

The truth is I've been so very busy with Skylights for the past month. And I'm just so very proud of the content we have up over there! So before I launch back into regular blogging after my little hiatus, I figured I'd highlight a few of my favorite Skylights articles from the first issue in honor of the magazine turn one month. (It's the little things, people!)

1. WE CONTEMPLATED WHOSE CITY OASIS IS BETTER.
Of course, I'd vote NYC but then again, I'm partial to the city :) This is the 5th entry in NYC v. LA, a series about highlighting and comparing them. Analogies of our cities, if you will. For example, Washington Square Park is to NYC as _________ is to LA. You'll find the answer to that in this post!

2. TRAVELING ABROAD ALONE TAUGHT ME ONE OF THE BEST LESSONS OF MY LIFE.
Having drafted and redrafted this post nearly half-a-dozen times, I'm actually quite proud of it! You know when you write something - a blog post, an article, a scene in a novel, whatever - and it teaches you something in the process? Well, this post did that for me.

3. LA BLOOMED BEFORE MAE'S VERY EYES.
When you grow up in a city is so easy to take it for granted, to become disconnected to the very place you call home. But if there's one thing you should always remember, it's that there's always a way back home.

4. MAE THOUGHT SHE KILLED SOMEONE.
It was terrifying for her, of course, as can be expected. She'd spent a great portion of her life in love, assuming they' be together forever. And then time passed, things go hazy and she was nowhere to be found.

5. BUSY BRAINS CHILLED OUT.
As someone who thinks entirely too much and frequently can't get her hands to catch up with her head, I really appreciated this post.

6. I GOT HIGH ON CONNECTION.
Another article I was excited about, people seemed to really connect with this article when it was published a few weeks ago, which is fitting considering the subject matter. And because of how it was received, it's become a favorite.

7. NYC WAS THE STAR OF THE SHOW (OR MOVIE!)
The city isn't just glitz and glamour, but there's nothing wrong with a little stardom! I compiled a list of television and movie sets to visit in NYC.

8. WE BRAVED SOME OF THE BUSIEST AREAS OF OUR CITIES AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE.
Times Square is to NYC as _______ is to LA? Analogies, analogies all around!

My plans for the weekend include cleaning, pre-writing about a dozen blog posts and commenting on a zillion other blogs. Got any exciting plans? No matter, have a good one!

April's Monthly Goals

Friday, April 10, 2015

I probably should have done this post a week ago, but alas, I had no idea I even wanted to do such a post until like two days ago, when I saw it on other blogs (one being The Drea Daily). Eeep! Still, it's only a week in and it's always a good time to set new goals. Right? Right.



+ Lose some real weight - I know, I know. Fitness is about the way you feel, the confidence in wearing your clothes, the health of your body. And I'm not diminishing any of that. But truly, I need to lose some el beessss. Point, blank, period.

+ Read Notes from Underground by Dostoevsky - It's pretty heavy stuff, but I've been wanting to pick it up again for a while now. I read portions of it years ago for a presentation in law school, but as those were more stressful times, I want to read it in its entirety now. It's dense but it really isn't that long. And if I can read upteen books about shadowhunters, assassins and mal-adjusted teenagers, I can find time to read this.

+ Complete a few projects - One of my biggest bad habits as a kid was being a dreamer not a doer. I'd think up all these bright ideas and embark on new things and then somewhere in the middle I'd lose steam. As I've grown older, this has changed, but recently, I feel like I'm five again, getting all excited about my shiny new toy at the store and then forgetting where I've stashed it.

+ Finish the first draft of my novel - Considering that April is Camp NaNoWriMo and I'm suppose to be participating in Camp NaNo, this should be a given, but it's 10 days in and I have yet to write a single word, so... clearly, it needs to be said. My original deadline for D1 was the new year, which clearly has been pushed back multiple times. But if I have any chance of meeting my own self-imposed "done" date, I need to be through D2 by the end of June :\  

+Comment on blogs - I'm sure you've noticed, but for the past month or so, I've been complete shit at commenting on other people's blogs. Everyday I set out with the goal in mind and then I get stuck doing other things and I'm falling asleep vowing to do it tomorrow. I still love you all, I swear!

Got any goals for the month? Feeling inspired to set a few goals of your own? Join me in linking up with Drea!

Reveal Radiant Skin

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I don't think I have the words to describe how excited the weather in the city has been making me recently. For the past few days, it's been relatively sunny and pretty damn warm (50s and 60s is basically tropical weather for us eastcoasters who've been living under a layer of ice for months). I've shed my snuggly winter coat in favor of a light jacket and I couldn't be more thankful.

Another thing it's about time to shed now that spring is here? Your skin. Gross. That sounded a lot better in my head. But it's true - that winter skin has got to go! About two months ago, Deb and I shared our tips for protecting your winter skin. Now, we're sharing a few of our favorite products to cleanse and exfoliate said skin.

(1) Philosophy Purity One Step Cleanser
It was a March favorite for a reason! No doubt about it - Purity is a 'Holy Grail' product for me. I'll buy it over and over again without fail. It's smooth and cleans without being sudsy and drying, and it's a makeup remover, cleanser and toner all in one. One step and a little moisturizer and I'm done! In fact, the cleanser is so hydrating I can get away with skipping moisturizer. I kid you not! Plus, I get 8 fl. oz. for $24 and it works perfectly with my Clarisonic Mia.

(2) Nude Perfect Cleansing Oil
Nearly six years ago, someone at I knew at Sephora gave me a sample of this and I've been hooked ever since. Not only do I love the scent (I believe there's rosewater in it!) and the feel of the oil on my face, but this oil can be used to remove makeup and cleanse at the same time. It's only the price tag at nearly $40 for 3.4 fl. oz. that keeps me from repurchasing constantly, but I spring for the set (it comes with a pretty good wash and cleanser) every 18 months or so, just to have it at the ready.  

(3) Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub
Considered an "acne wash", this product is sort of a crossover between a face cleanser and an exfoliator. Personally, as it is a bit to harsh for me for everyday, I use it as an exfoliator. Every couple of days, I apply it between gently cleansing and toning. This scrub smells amazing and really seems to brighten my complexion.

(4) Shea Moisture Lavender & Wild Orchid Scrub
It's not only the skin on your face that needs exfoliating. Your body's also been put through the ringer due to the cold weather. Like a python (do python's shed? Or it is another kind of snake? Or all snakes in general? Clearly, this girl wasn't about that science life), it's time to reveal that bright, new skin! This Shea Moisture scrub is a newer favorite. I picked it up sometime last fall after I ran out of Lush's Ocean Salt, and realized that it was almost as good as Ocean Salt, and umm a fraction of the price :)

(5) St. Ives Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange Body Wash
People seriously sleep on St. Ives products! St. Ives is always a hit for me, and the price range of their products makes it a steal every time. The citrus scent of this body wash wakes me right up in the morning and evens out my skin tone over time. Of course, there are different scents if you're not into smelling like an orange tree, two of which I've tried and liked, apricot and shea butter.

(6) Soap & Glory Sugar Crush Body Wash
Now that spring is here, I've brought this baby back out. It's a favorite for sure! It smells like sweet lime and its silky texture feels so luxurious on the skin. Its scent doesn't really fit in the colder months, but once it gets warm, it's one of the very few washes in rotation. More expensive than drugstore for sure, but less than many of the other high-end brands, and completely worth it.

What are your favorite cleansers and exfoliators? I could use a recommendation for a good drugstore face cleanser. Oh & make sure you check out Deb's post - no doubt she's got a few for the wishlist!

To Fill Up & Live | Love Lucy

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Before I jump into March's book review, I wanted to thank you all for all the support you've shown Skylights Magazine over the past two weeks! It's been a whirlwind and I'm so grateful. I've written a post over there about learning how to edit as a writer, if you're interested :)

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Title: Love, Lucy

Author: April Lindner

Publication: 2015

I feel bad for this book. Not because I didn't enjoy it because I did. However, because of the subject matter of this novel, it gets compared to and falls a little short of other novels that I love. Love Lucy is a novel about travel and romance and a bit of self-discovery. In that vein, it gets placed in my mental library beside one of my favorites, Anna and the French Kiss, as well as a recent read, My Life Next Door. As I've mentioned already in a full review, Anna and the French Kiss is a story about travel, first loves and self discovery, while My Life Next Door (thoughts coming later this month) is a story of family and summer romances. Both were phenomenal. And however unfairly, Love Lucy just can't hold a candle to either of those novels.

That's not to say that I didn't enjoy it because I absolutely did! Linder's writing style was solid and she did a wonderful job of making the reader long for foreign places. I felt like I was 16 again (the age I traveled to Italy) awestruck by all of the Italian scenery. When I visited I really adored both Florence, which is like a European NYC, and Rome, so seeing those places again was a bit nostalgic. And I really loved the mention of the classic Roman Holiday - great movie! I also really liked the message of this novel for our main character Lucy. About following your heart both on a personal and professional level. The pressures of society and family especially can be heavy to bare so it was good to see a character struggling with some of those things and figuring them out. It made the novel interesting, although I have to admit that some parts got a little repetitive and I may have skimmed through quite a few chapters (Eep!).
For me, where Love Lucy falls short of the two novels mentioned earlier is in the love department. Although I liked the characters individually, Lucy and her Italian beau Jesse just didn't seem to have much chemistry beyond the typical "whirlwind foreign romance" variety of most travel books. Don't get me wrong, they serve a purpose in each other lives in this book. But it's a purpose that could be furthered by a friendship just as much as a relationship. That ache of loving someone? I just didn't feel it. And because of that, as one of those readers that loves shipping her characters, I couldn't really connect with the progression of the storyline.

All in all, Love Lucy was a fun read. If you're looking for a novel about travel and how it changes you, this is a decent option. Is it worth an impulsive purchase on your Kindle and a speedy read through? Probably so. Will it change you? Probably not.

__________________________

April's book is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.


Winner of multiple awards, including the Prince Award, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a heart-warming novel about the classic tale of how polar opposites attract, about that friendship that can change the course of your life. Having heard so very much about the brilliance of this novel, I have been looking forward to reading it for over a year, so I'm very excited to jump into it this month! This would be a great month to join us! Review will be on May 5th.

Did you read Love Lucy with us this month? Got any thoughts? Or maybe some recommendations for travel, romance books? Let me know!

March Favorites

Friday, April 3, 2015

Long, long ago, I decided against writing friday favorites posts every week because it felt like cheating. But honestly, I miss babbling about the things I really love. So I thought, "let's take a page from YouTube and do monthly favorites." Why, yes. Wonderful idea, inner goddess (LOL at that 50 Shades shout-out. Bleh).

Beauty Product: Philosophy Purity Facial Cleanser


I have to admit that I'd been neglecting my skin for a while. Or at least I wasn't treating it well. I'd run out of my Purity cleanser and thought "I don't need to repurchase it. I'll just use that cheap-o one/sample right over here." Lies! My skin just wasn't feeling the same, and by mid-month I needed to get to Sephora. Hey, holy grail products are holy grail for a reason, right?

Moment: Exploring TSQ


Well, you guys already know about Skylights, as I've mentioned it to no end this past month. I'd say the launching of that was definitely my favorite moment of the month. Specifically, exploring Times Square at night for an NYC v. LA post. I forget how spectacular that area can be because I spend so much time trying to avoid the crowds up there, so it was nice to reconnect again.

Book & Movie: Perks of Being A Wallflower


If you saw any of my posts this month, you knew this was coming! I'd normally have a favorite book and a favorite movie, but both the Perks novel and the movie adaptation were so phenomenal it takes over both categories. Sorry, not sorry. It's amazing!
Ps: book review should be coming soon.

Song: Elastic Heart by Sia


If it were a record, I would've broken it two weeks ago. Seriously, I play it constantly and sing it at random intervals throughout the day. Anything Sia makes is pretty much an insta-love for me, but I really love the message of the song. It's kinda sad, but also so empowering! It's also inspiration for a scene in a novel I'm not suppose to be writing because I haven't finished Omission yet. Whoops!

Treat: Milk Chocolate Covered Raisins

This is not my picture of the milk chocolate covered raisins, for if it were, it would be a photo of an empty carton. They are long gone, having purchased them almost a week ago, and tasty things do not last very long in this apartment. Kinda not-so-bad-for-you treat like these have been my go-to recently. It makes me feel better about #beastmode not being a soaring success. 


Celebrity: Shaliene Woodley


Maybe it's because I just saw Insurgent a few days ago (which was a good movie, totally different than the book as expected, but still pretty good) or because she's been all over the media for movie promotion, but anything with her name attached to it immediately gets my attention. Like J Law, I just love how she stays out of the limelight as much as possible and doesn't "do" social media. I think it makes me want to know more about her. Plus, she has a deep, husky voice that I wish was mine and gorgeous expressive eyes that I also wish were mine.

Laugh: Subaru Legacy Commercial



Every single time I see this commercial I cry from laughter, partly because it's funny but mostly because it's so damn cute! When he yells back "I'm five!", the tears are real, guys.


Now off to visit all of your blogs and see what you've been talking about recently. With everything happening recently, I've been kinda crap at that. Eeeep!

Meeting Cory Matthews

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Last time I did a 'storytime' post I got some pretty awesome feedback, and because, I mean - who doesn't like awesome feedback?, I'm bringing it back. 


Freshman year on a huge campus in the northeast. As can be expected, the university's frat row is crawling with students, or rather predators, prey and the perpetually drunk girl down the hall, who on this one night blends in with her fellow18-year olds. (She's also the one exclaiming "See, it's fun!" to her companions as if this absolves her from ridicule during the week. No, Suzi, you'll still be the only drunk err, 'fun' one come Monday afternoon.) Touring the frats is pretty much the norm for any underage kid looking to go out in this college town, and my friends and I are no exception.

I don't really remember where I meet him. This boy who looks like Cory Matthews. But that is the very first thing I think when I meet him. "OMG, he looks like Cory!" I whisper-scream to my friend shortly after meeting him, receiving a very 'so what' look in response. I should probably mention now that Cory Matthews was my first ever crush at the ripe old age of 5. Sah-woon. So when a handful of friends insist that this Cory Matthews look-a-like 'definitely likes me', I'm not exactly upset, to say the least. He is really cute, in that adorable, bashful kind of way, and at least 6ft 2'. And despite looking like Cory, he wears a backwards cap and lets his jean hang off his hips in that attractive way guys do. Let's call said boy *Tommy.

Cory Tommy and I spend a lot of time together, just not actually alone together. As most freshman do, we travel in a pack of about 10 to 20 every time we go out, but Tommy and I would always separate from the group, standing a distance away from everyone but not so far that it's uncomfortable. I've always gotten along really well with guys, so I don't think much of it. I mean, I hang out quite frequently with one of the other guys trading CDs to copy onto our iPods, and another friend chases me down the hallway with a can of Nair. I'm no stranger to guy friends. It isn't until one night when we wander into some truly random frat with a dance floor that I realize "yeah I think this guy's into me." He isn't much of a dancer (has rhythm but not quite sure how to use it. Not that I'm a big dancer either. I can hold a beat/note, but that's about it), but he keeps pulling me out onto the dance floor so he has an excuse to touch my waist, my hips. He also compliments my cowboy boots and denim skirt (it was a Western themed night!) by saying "you sure do pull that off, don't you?" and staring down at me through his eyelashes. We babble back towards campus slightly buzzed and holding hands when we think no one is looking.

A few weeks later, we find The Mudhouse, a fraternity house just off the 'main row' where one of the brothers really likes to stare at my boobs - so much that I'm almost never on the list but always let in, and said brother always hands me a Bud Light can to replace the shitty Nattie Light on tap for everyone else.  And then, one totally normal night at The Mudhouse, something totally not normal happens.

The Mudhouse is having some really weird invite-only shindig where party-goers go from room to room for samples. Each room has it's own theme or station. Tommy is hanging out with some guys and is going to meet my small group a little later. Frat bro who likes to stare at my rack (but never touches! Come on!) begins showing me around the stations but eventually leaves me somewhere. I end up in the "Purple Haze" themed room, rocking out, throwing back heaven knows how many mind-eraser shots, and dancing with some guy that I never really learned the name of. Classy, I know. Eventually, I think I see a tall, curly-haired boy standing just outside the door frame, but when I look back he's gone. I go in search of Cory and find him sitting outside on a porch swing drinking a beer surrounded by a few friends. Plopping down on the seat next to him, I curl into his shoulder and he wraps his free hand around me. We sit like that for a while as he talks to his friends and squeezes my arm intermittently.

All I can think is "what is this?" Yeah, I knew he kinda liked me. He's said a few borderline things, dipping his toe into the waters of 'not-friendship' and then stepping back. He's held my hand in secret, dances with me occasionally and has infiltrated my little group of friends for the sake of me (so says little group of friends.) He seems to be almost claiming me in this moment, but he hasn't actually made a move. Like a real move on me. And in my clouded, mind-erased head, none of the aforementioned gestures mean a thing. In fact, there could only be one possible reason for all of this.

"Are you gay?," I blurt out as we walk back alone.

He stops walking just ahead of me and turns around hesitantly like he's not sure who he'll see. His brow furrows and a light flush takes over his face, and for a moment, I think "Shit! He is. I've embarrassed him." But then I realize that he's not embarrassed. He's pissed. Before I know it, he's stormed off ahead of me just within earshot. I think to call him back but I don't. We walk back to campus like this, him turning often to be sure I'm still following, me searching through my foggy head for what to do next. As we get closer to my dorm, he slows until I'm by his side. I look up at him expectantly. Expectant of what, I don't know. After what feels like 5 minutes, he pulls me into him and fits his mouth to mine. We dated for almost a year after that.   
..............

Actually, he kept walking right past my dorm and never spoke to me again.

April Fool's! :) Although I do still think about him sometimes. Tommy, where you at? FaceBook friend me again!

*Name has been changed for the sake of anonymity and because, well, I'm not sure I remember his name :) Damn you, mind-eraser!

Insert Monday's Post Here

Monday, March 30, 2015

Confession: I don't have anything to say here at TKD :( But that's only because I used all creative energy on today's Skylights article. So instead of whipping something random up, I'll just redirect you guys over there!

The Contact High of Connection

www.skylightsmagazine.com

I'm actually really, really proud of this piece. I struggled and tussled with it for weeks and finally the words started clicking into place. Fitting, really :)

So if you get a chance, go ahead and check the article out! And I'll see you here on Wednesday. Hope your week was all kinds of wonderful!

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