Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Thoughts: The Holiday Season and Giving Back

Blogmas Day Five!

Today I was watching Louise's (from Sprinkle of Glitter) latest Vlogmas vlog, in which she talked about giving back, and how the holiday season is the perfect time. With my last couple of posts being about gift ideas for loved ones, her thoughts got me thinking about the importance of giving back as well. I'm not saying that it's horrible to only give presents to those we love, if that's all you can afford to do, then that's perfectly okay! But if you happen to be fortunate enough to have the time or money to help out, then by all means go ahead. I actually went into a store today, and the fire department was standing outside doing a toy and canned food drive. My family usually donates a couple of cans of food, but this year I really want to do more and try to help a lot more people. With it being the holiday season, giving back is all the more important to help other people have the warm fuzzies associated with Christmas and other holidays. So many people aren't fortunate enough to even have a warm place to be at night, let alone receive presents on Christmas morning. Don't get me wrong, giving back is extremely important all year long, but this time of year really helps people realize that there are others who are in desperate need of help from people who can afford to lend a hand.
Being at college has also opened my eyes to the horrible realities some people face; homelessness, going without food for a couple of days, becoming unemployed, or worse. It's easy to forget how some people live in the world when you aren't surrounded by it everyday. Living is very, very hard in some parts of the world - sometimes it can only be called surviving. This time of year is the time for you to be grateful of what you have and not what you don't have. What I mean is, don't be grateful that your life isn't like the lives of the less fortune, rather be happy with the things that you do have, and try and help others out when you can. I heard a wonderful talk about this, and how the speaker hated it when people were grateful for the wrong things - that they have a home that unlike homeless people, or that their health isn't like that of the ill. Try and always be thankful for the things in your life as they are. Life becomes so much easier when you are able to be thankful for everything you have, and even for the little things in life. And on that same point, trying to help out in little ways, but often, can add up to a lot over time! An act of any kind of kindness goes a long way.
Giving back and helping out has always been something that I've been passionate about, so it's something I could drone on and on about! I just think the world would be a much better place if more people tried to help out, even in the smallest of ways. I know that I could definitely try and help and give back more myself! This is just the perfect time of year to try and help out a little bit more than you usually would, because it helps spread holiday cheer :) This time of year is definitely my favorite for that reason, and all of the warm fuzzy feelings of being with those you love, and being able to give them a gift that shows just how much you care for them. I hope all of you have a great holiday season this year!

What are some of the ways you give back?

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a great day! :)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Gift Ideas For Friends

Blogmas Day Four!

As a continuation of my post yesterday (Gift Ideas For Family), today I'll be sharing with you guys some gift ideas I have for friends! 

For Your Best Friend
Okay, so while these bracelets might be a little bit cheesy, I actually think they're really cute and simple!

(One says "best friends" and the other says "till the end." Find them here!)
I think they're a very classy version of those silly matching bracelets you would get as a kid for your you and your best friends to wear everywhere. These are a great present, too, if you and your best friend go to different schools that are farther away.

For Your Jewelry-Loving Friends

I don't know if it's just my friends who love watches, but they're always a solid go-to for my friends who love jewelry!

These drop necklaces have also gotten really popular, and I think they can really add a lot to a simple outfit, so this would also be a great gift, too!

For Your Beauty-Loving Friends

Sephora has great gift sets for not a lot of money (both of these are around $20!), so those are great options for friends who are really into beauty items.

For Your Book-Loving Friends
Honestly, as an avid reader, I would love to receive my friend's favorite books as gifts. I think that's a really cool thing to give someone, because it allows you both to get to know each other more, and for the other person to read a great book!

You can also never go wrong with a journal!

Well, these are the gift ideas I have for friends, and hopefully it helped! It's definitely helped me to actually sit down and think about what I would get for my friends, because I still need to go shopping...

What are some gifts you usually get your friends?

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day! :)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gift Ideas For Family

Blogmas Day Three, for me! :)

If you're anything like me, you probably haven't started shopping for Christmas presents yet... However, I have actually started thinking about gift ideas for family members, so I decided to compile a list for you guys!

For Mom

I think I will be getting a little spa package for my mom, as she overworks herself and never leaves time to pamper herself, and instead spoils everyone else. I know my mom will really appreciate it, and it will give her some much needed down time!
If you want to make a DIY gift for your mom (my mom absolutely loves handmade things), you could crochet her a scarf - I did this last year, and my mom really loved receiving something I had worked a while on - or make her a tray like this one:

It's a picture frame made into a little serving tray, and I think it's so cute! My mom would love something like this, especially with pictures, and it doesn't look too difficult to make!

For Dad
I don't know if it's just my dad, but he loves getting sweaters from my mom and I (mostly because he never buys clothes for himself, and doesn't have a clue when it comes to fashion), so usually I get him one a lot like this:

I think sweaters are a really good present to get dad's since a lot of them don't do their own shopping, and it reassures you that they won't be wearing that shirt they got back in the 80's everyday.
For a more DIY gift, I would suggest making them a Sharpie mug, or painting one at a place where they put it in the oven for you and it looks really nice after (is this just an American thing?). I have done both in the past for my dad since he's an avid coffee drinker, and dad's appreciate handmade things, too!

For Brother
My brother loves watches for some reason (even though he didn't learn how to read an analog clock until he was about twelve years old), and he most likely needs a new one, so I'm probably going to get him one similar to this:

He's pretty rough and tumble, so I like to get him watches that will last for a while, and are resistant to scratches. I think I'm also going to get him footie pajamas this year as well, because he loves being comfy and thinks they are hilarious!

For Sister
I don't actually have a sister, but I have a neighbor who is like a sister to me, and I love getting her pretty necklaces, bracelets, earrings, or any other jewelry because she loves accessories! 

Both of these are really pretty and classic, which I'm sure your sister would love for Christmas! A cute frame with a picture of the two of you is always a good option as well, or a DIY painted canvas with one of her favorite quotes!

Writing this post has made me even more anxious to get Christmas shopping done for a least my family, so that's probably what I will be doing this weekend! 

What gifts are you getting for your family?

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful day! :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My First "Grown-Up" Bag

I've had the same purse since seventh grade (we're going on six years here!) because it's convenient and goes with most anything, however it is starting to show its age, and it is a very casual bag that probably wouldn't be the best to bring to things like job interviews. Now that I'm in college, and am technically an adult (what?!), I figured it would be a good idea to get a new bag that is a little more "grown-up" looking!
I was looking at some sales over Black Friday to see if I could get a good deal anywhere, and Ted Baker was having a really good sale on bags, so I decided to order one! I worked this past summer, and will be getting another job soon, so I had some money saved up that I was willing to spend a little bit of.

 As soon as I got the package in the mail, I pulled out my camera and took pictures as I unpacked it. You could say I was just a little bit excited.

 My first look at it in person! It's called the Petra, and is considered a small tote bag.

 Here's a better picture of it out of the box - I am in love! I thought it would be a bit bigger in person, but I actually really like the size because it'll keep me from hoarding around things I don't need in my purse!

A closer look at the bow!

I'm really glad that I ordered this, and relieved that it finally made it to my house! I ordered it on Black Friday (November 28th), and it just now made it here today! It was definitely worth the wait, though. I'm not sure if I'll just be using this bag for special occasions, or to places where I know I won't have to set it down anywhere, or if I'll use it for everyday purposes. We shall see!

What kind of bags do you like?

Thank you so much for reading (and happy Blogmas Day 2!), and I hope you have a wonderful day! :)

Monday, December 8, 2014

How I Survived My First Finals Week

I just turned a ten page paper in, and I have never felt more free in my life.
For the past couple of weeks, final exams and this impending paper have been hanging over my head, and to finally be done is one of the best feelings! I took a couple of college classes last year (my senior year of high school), so I have had a "finals week," but they were through my high school, and we were eased into it by having our teacher's help us through every step. 
Basically, this was me this year:

I figured I had already had a couple of college finals, so it really wouldn't be too bad, but boy was I wrong!
Now, being in college, my professors gave me a study guide, and essentially just wished us good luck. Dead week was something that I was definitely not prepared for, but at least I had my friends who had never gone through it either. In order to make it out of dead week - and finals - with my mind intact, I did a couple of things that really helped!

Get Sleep Whenever You Can
Sleep can be hard to come by during dead week and finals week - so get it whenever you can! I took a couple of study-break-naps so my mind could be fresh for another couple of hours of studying. When your grades are on the line, it's a lot easier to stay awake and study, even when it means you'll get a lot less sleep. This is the case especially when you have multiple finals!

Study With Friends - Even When You Aren't Studying the Same Subject
Even if you and your friends aren't studying for the same class, it can be beneficial to study together, because you force each other to stay on track. This is also very helpful because you don't feel so bored and trapped in one place, and when you all want to take a short study break, you can just talk and hang out for a couple of minutes!

Eat Small (Healthy) Snacks Frequently
They say an empty stomach means an empty brain, and it's very true! When you're hungry, all you can focus on is how much you want to eat, and it's harder to retain information. Make sure the snacks are healthy, though, in order to give your body the most nutrients possible - nuts, fruits, or vegetables are good options (edamame, carrots, and apples are my personal favorite!).

Take a Couple of Study Breaks Per Hour of Studying
It's a good idea to take short study breaks throughout multiple hours of studying. In order to keep your mind from getting absolutely fried, allow yourself a couple of minutes to focus on something other than what you are studying. I find that this helps me come back and focus on the material I'm studying, so I don't get bored with it and I can refocus after each break with a fresh mind.

Coffee is Your New Best Friend
I drank a lot of coffee throughout both dead week and finals week in order to wake me up after a particularly long night. I love drinking coffee in general, though, so it was a nice excuse to have even more during these weeks!

Celebrate When You're Done!
It will be one of the biggest reliefs of your term once you are done with finals - so go celebrate! Get some frozen yogurt with some friends, or simply have some well-earned down time and watch a movie or read a book. Usually after finals, you get some sort of break (yay, Christmas break right now!) so enjoy the time off, because you deserve it for studying so hard!

This will be me tonight since I'm officially done with finals and turning in papers!

How do you study for big tests?

Also, just a side note: I think now that I am on Christmas break, and have a lot of free time for a month, I will be starting Blogmas! I know I'm about a week late, but better late than never, right? I'm super excited to be able to devote all of my time to my blog this month, and hopefully you guys enjoy my December posts! :) So, technically, this is Blogmas Day 1!

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a great day! :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ten Things I'm Thankful For

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought this week I would write a post about what I am thankful for.

Too often, people get caught up in the happening of their lives, and don't have the time to give thanks to all of the wonderful parts of their lives. I often fall vicim to this as well because my life has been insanely busy with just starting college, and trying to figure out how to manage all of my time. I think it's extremely important, though, to step back and be thankful for all of the good in our lives - it not only puts things into perspective, but I find that it also helps life seem a little easier. Suddenly all of the hard parts of life are easier, because you see life isn't all bad after all. 

Ten Things I'm Thankful For
1. My family
2. My friends
3. My animals
3. Being able to go to college
4. Having a home to go home to during the holidays
5. All of my favorite books
6. Coffee (I am a college student after all...)
7. Having a mom who taught me how to cook for myself
8. Living in a place where people can practice any religion they choose
9. The holiday season
10. Harry Potter, because why not?

Even if you don't celebrate Thanksgiving, this time of year is a great time to step back and reflect on all of the good things in your life. Everyone has something, and honestly it gives you the warm-fuzzies that are so often associated with the holiday season (and who doesn't want warm-fuzzies?!).

What are you grateful for?

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a great day! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Book Review: City of Heavenly Fire

Ahhhh book reviews, how I have missed you. It has been so difficult in college to find reading time, let alone time to write a review on one. However, I have slowly been reading City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, and I finally finished it the other day!

Just a quick side not, this is the last book in the Mortal Instruments series, so I will try to not spoil anything! If you haven't read this series, I highly recommend that you do! It has been a really great series, and I'm really glad I decided to steal borrow the first book from my brother.
The whole premise of this book is good versus evil, as with the whole series, and it again follows the lives of Clary Fray and her friends. As this is the last book in the series, it ties up all of the loose ends from the whole series, and also has an epilogue which allows readers to see how the characters are doing a couple of months after all of the falling action.
Overall, I was really pleased with this book. I loved the ending, and also how all of the villains ended up. I felt like Clare did a great job at connecting all of the story lines in this book, and it was also so great to see that she incorporated some events and people from the "prologue" series she did to this one. Honestly, that was probably my favorite series from her, so it was so nice being able to meet those characters again in some way.
Cassandra Clare is a great writer, and this book was written in a way that I never got bored. It was hard to put down when it was time to go to class (I like to get some reading in while I eat breakfast and drink my coffee in the morning), and it was so easy to pick back up when it had been a couple of days in between reading it. She flawlessly introduced new characters into this series, and it actually turns out that she will be doing a new series with these characters. While I think that's pushing it a little with this world and set of series, I of course will be reading the new series. I know that as soon as I get my hands on it, I will be really glad Clare is continuing on with a different series based off of the new characters in this book. She introduced the issues that the characters will face in the new series very well, and I already have predictions of what will happen in it.
I'm so sad to see this series end, but I'm also very pleased with how it ended up. I am very satisfied with the ending, which is always a great feeling after  you have loved a set of characters so much. I'm really looking forward to reading more of Cassandra Clare's work, and I'm very excited for her new series! I believe it will be coming out early next year, so I definitely recommend reading her previous series - the Infernal Devices, and this one, the Mortal Instruments - before her new one comes out.

What books have you been loving lately?

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a great day! :)