2015, here we go! (And getting a little bit personal.)


Hello, everyone. I know it's practically February, but it's been a while (nearly two months) since I last wrote in here, which is unlike me. Finals season was pretty hectic, and my 3-week break was nearly as hectic. But I'm back at school and this semester promises to be no less hectic than the last, so I'm not making any grandiose promises just yet about updates and such.

But how are you doing? How has 2015 been treating you so far? Good, I hope.

(End one-ended conversation.)

I finish my graduate program at the end of 2015, so things will be changing a lot ... as usual. Since I started this blog on January 1, 2011, my life has been pretty unstable. I've had bouts of wanderlust and have seriously questioned my life's path. I went from working in the television industry in New York City to studying Mandarin Chinese in Taipei. During that trip, I hit up some places I'd long wanted to see and fell in love with Australia. I moved back to New York, considered moving to Sydney for a minute, then moved briefly to south Florida -- which I did not discuss here at all. And now I'm in graduate school in the Midwest! ("Winter" is a lifestyle here, and I don't think it's a lifestyle I will ever truly embrace.)

Where I go when my program ends is completely up in the air and I am open (as usual?). I still have dreams of moving to California, so this might be my chance. It's funny, looking back, that I feel in many ways in the same place as I was when I graduated from college nearly a decade ago. I longed to moved to California then and tried for a little bit to do it, but ultimately ended up back in New York City. In spite of my serious case of wanderlust, this longing has never really left me, so I guess it's "meant to be" that I give it a go at some point. (Although, if I could get a job and afford London, that would be another serious consideration. Thank goodness it's not an option.)

Some goals for 2015:

Post to Instagram more often.
I neglected my Instagram account for most of 2014, and I realized this during the holiday season. If I can find things to take pictures of during my dull days shuffling back-and-forth between my school building, home, and my internship, I will.

Read 30 minutes a day.
This is ambitious, because even when I didn't have 4 graduate classes to read for and an internship, I didn't read 30 minutes a day. My conservative goal is to read 10 books this year and I think I can reach that goal, but ideally, I'd like to read to more than 10.

Eat at most two pieces of candy a day.
This seems silly, but when I was in my teens (and eating like a one-person sugar and junk food factory), I thought in my early twenties, I'd magically have the drive to start eating healthily. Now that I'm nearly 30, I think it's time to start taking small steps towards actually living more healthily. Plus, the ever-wise Lorelai Gilmore once said, "It's expensive to slowly rot your insides, isn't it?"

Be more social.
Self-explanatory.

Explore more.
I have never lived in the Midwest. The only time I'd ever been to the Midwest prior to moving here was visiting Chicago in the dead of winter 2007. I've gotten to know some of the locals through my internship here and driven through a number of towns, but otherwise, I have not seen much. I'd like to do more of that, especially once winter thaws.

And of course, I'd like to post more here. I haven't had much time to really listen to new music or cook much else besides pasta and fried rice (my soul is dying, can you hear it?), so my Music Mondays and recipe shares have been negligible. I'll find something to write, though, even if it is short and sweet.

Happy 2015 -- make it a great one!

What your favorite songs say about you ... #MusicMonday

Mariah Carey Music Box Music monday favorite songs
I was making a playlist of songs I enjoy singing at karaoke the other day, which got me thinking: what do our favorite songs say about us? I did a quick Google search on the topic and stumbled upon an NPR blorticle that (along with Spotify) posited that our answer to six music-related questions can do a lot to say something about us.

The six questions are:

What was the first song you ever bought?
Mine was an album, "Music Box" by Mariah Carey, and it was a cassette tape.

What song always gets you dancing?
I always say "Love At First Sight" by Kylie Minogue, so I'm going to go with "All Around The World" by Lisa Stansfield this time. (Other songs, from the early '00s: "All For You," Janet Jackson; "Butterfly," Crazy Town)


What song takes you back to your childhood?
"Without You," Mariah Carey. I was apparently a morose child.



What is your perfect love song?
Of the six questions, this one is the toughest for me to answer. My idea of a good love song is one that ends tragically, which is probably not everyone else's idea of a "perfect" love song. I also like nostalgic "first love" types of love songs. But my official answer is "Songbird" by Fleetwood Mac.

"Chasing Cars" danced into my mind for some reason, though I'm not really a Snow Patrol fan nor do I even really love that song. I suppose that'd fall under the category of "first love" songs. Other"first love" songs: "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry is fun; "Dancing Away With My Heart," Lady Antebellum; "Magic," Colbie Caillat; "Fallin' For You," Colbie Caillat.


What song would you want at your funeral?
An upbeat Backstreet Boys song, most likely. Or Eva Cassidy's version of "Fields of Gold." Or BSB's "Welcome To My Heart," which could double as a wedding song. Morbid.


Time for an encore. One last song that makes you, you.
"Long Way" by Antje Duvekot ... this has been one of my standbys for nearly a decade now. It's quiet, detailed, about nature and travel, long-winded, curious, confused.

Also: "Slow Pony Home," The Weepies; "Prelude To A Kiss," Alicia Keys; "Use Somebody," Kings of Leon (I guess?)

What about you? Do you think these six questions give much insight into who you are? I don't really think so ... the only telling questions for me are the perfect love song and funeral song. A song that makes you you will likely change as you grow and is merely a reflection of how you view yourself in the moment, however long that moment may last.

Photo: Amazon.com

DIY: Homemade Natural "Winter"-Flavored Lip Scrubs

diy homemade natural lip scrubs sugar honey essential oils organic

Below, I share 3 winter or "holiday"-flavored lip scrubs utilizing peppermint, rosemary, and orange essential oils, though you can substitute the real thing or orange juice in place of the essential oils. I also share a basic lip scrub recipe for those who wish to experiment with their own mixture of essential oils or spices. If you choose to use essential oils, be sure to add one drop at a time and test it on your skin to ensure that it isn't too strong or caustic. The skin on your lips is especially sensitive, so bear that in mind when adding essential oils to your recipe.

White sugar tends to be a little more exfoliating than brown sugar, but either can be used in the scrubs. Similarly, any edible cooking oil would do in the recipes below -- I recommend olive, avocado, and coconut oils.

Lastly, since these are all natural recipes, refrigerate leftovers and use them up within two weeks, preferably one week. Happy scrubbing!

Basic Sugar Lip Scrub Recipe

Ingredients
1 part white or brown sugar
1 part olive or avocado oil

or

Ingredients
2 parts white or brown sugar
1 part honey

Cinnamon Sugar Lip Scrub Recipe

Ingredients
1 part white or brown sugar
1 part oil
1/2 to 1 part ground cinnamon

Rosemary Mint Lip Scrub Recipe

Ingredients
1 part white or brown sugar
1 part oil
1-2 drops of peppermint essential oil (portion depends on your batch size)
1-2 drops of rosemary essential oil (portion depends on your batch size) or dried/fresh rosemary

Orange Clove & Honey Lip Scrub Recipe

Ingredients
1 part white or brown sugar
1/2 part honey
1-2 drops orange essential oil (or 1-2 drops of orange juice)
a pinch of ground cloves

Or, you can watch my video with step-by-step instructions: