Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Earth Hour Party

This Saturday, March 25th at 8:30-9:30pm in your local time is Earth Hour. It's essentially a set time where mass numbers of people power off. This means no lights, no technology, no electricity. (However, I think heat is okay!) The point of Earth hour is to increase awareness for global warming and spread the message about sustainability rather than actually saving energy. Although there is some controversy regarding global warming, I personally believe that regardless of whether or not it exists, we should still play our part in caring for the planet. Earth Hour doesn't have to be about sitting in the dark and I encourage you to throw a party to make it fun while also helping raise awareness.

Earth Hour Party - Sunny Rebecca

Mood Lighting

The lights are out. Now what? Spruce your party up with some mood lighting. Light some candles, add some aesthetically pleasing lanterns, put out those battery powered string lights, and use them to light up the party. Just because the lights are out for Earth Hour, doesn't mean that the party isn't lit. I think that the lighting and the ambiance makes the party just entirely different. Sure, lots of parties are dark, but this one is illuminated by candles, pretty golden lanterns, and more. The atmosphere of the candles just makes for a very calming, wind-down kind of party. 

Activities

All the time when I go to parties, we have this issue of cell phones. We're constantly distracted by them that it's often difficult to actually get through activities without people losing interest or putting the game on hold in order to check their updates on their phone. For Earth Hour, there are countless activities that you can do with your friends. Here are some ideas:

Painting

You don't have to be the next Van Gogh or Frieda Kahlo in order to have fun painting. Did you know that there are literally classes made for people that don't know how to paint to just drop by, paint a simple template (while drinking wine)? You can do the same at home. Look up some simple painting tips, set out a still-life or what not, and have all your guests try their hand at painting, no matter how much experience they have with it.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

I Swapped Clothes with a Friend for a Week

They say that you can't fully understand someone until you step into their shoes, but what about their clothes? Quite a few months ago, I decided to swap clothes with a friend for a week. My friends and I have a list of challenges to do, encouraging each other to step out of our comfort zones and try these challenges in order to rack up points. One of these tasks was swapping clothes with someone for a week. And I accepted the challenge.




I just wanted to put it out there that this occurred in August or September of 2016, but it never really occurred to me to write about it until now. Although I don't have outfit pictures for every day of the clothing swap, I wanted to focus on the process and what the experience was like, because at the end of the day, clothes are just clothes. For the challenge, we also decided that this was going to be a full-on clothing swap. That meant that we weren't just going halfway, switching a top with someone else, but we were going with the full look, including accessories, but excluding shoes.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Let's Hear It for the Girls

If you didn't know, it was International Women's Day a few days ago. The day is meant to celebrate and commemorate progress for women's rights and was started way back in 1909. Although the day has come and passed, that doesn't mean that we should stop talking about it. As an advocate for women's rights and a feminist, I think that we should take a moment and talk about this, to talk about the successes that Women's Rights has had, but also to remember that there's still a lot more work to be done. 


Isn't it just sad to think that we have been fighting for gender equality for as far back as the 1800s. The first gathering for women's rights was the famous Seneca Falls Convention, which took place in 1848. Except the thing is, the first for women's rights preceded that well-known event. Although we say that the Women's Rights Movement began in 1848, there is evidence that the strides towards gender equality date back to before then. American Women in early 1800s formed female associations which consisted of "charity schools and refuges for women in need."1 Furthermore, there was the female seminary movement, beginning in 18152 , in which leaders worked towards improving the quality of women's education. This struggle for gender equality is not a new concept. Women have been working towards it for over 200 years. That's about the same about of time that America has been a country, as it was founded in 1776. However, just because women's rights did not rise up until that moment, doesn't mean that it hasn't been around before. And likewise, just because the Women's Rights movement did not exist until the 1800s, doesn't mean that gender inequality did not exist. In fact, gender inequality dates back to more than 2,500 years ago during the Bronze Age in the example of China, according to a study by Queens College in New York City.3

image via
It's been over 200 years of progress. And yes, we have made plenty of strides towards equality. The right to vote in 1920 thanks to the 19th Amendment, the presence of women in work when in the past it was considered social taboo, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination, have all helped with women's progress. Except the thing is, the fight is not over. Noted in 2015, women working full time in the United States were typically paid about 80 percent of what men were paid. That means that women are paid 20 percent less than men.4 Despite the progress that we've made, whether with the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, or other efforts, it is still evident that women are at a disadvantage. Additionally, according to Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, the odds of advancement in careers for women is 15 percent lower than for men.5 
The inequality also exists beyond the pay gap, as women are affected by it in the social sphere. Sexism is real. From the day-to-day sexism that might be muttered under someone's breath, insinuated in the form of "slut-shaming", or a sexist joke that's supplemented with a falsely sincere "no offense", to more serious instances, such as sexual harassment, sexism present and constantly affects women.

But moving onto more positive notes, International Women's Day is about celebrating women's rights progress. We have made great strides within the past 200 years. In 1921, the American Birth Control League was founded by Margaret Sanger, the beginning of Planned Parenthood, while also allowing women that were sex-positive (a social taboo during the time period) to enjoy themselves without risking unwanted pregnancies. In 1925, Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming was inaugurated as the first woman governor in the United States, a stride in politics. The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, which was aimed towards improving the rights of women in the workplace. Likewise, the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawed sex-based discrimination. In 1993, the Supreme Court ruled that sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, when in the past, sexual harassment was not recognized. Just a few months ago, in January 2017, The Women's Marches in Washington were absolutely incredible. I was amazed to see not only the huge masses of people joining together in order to support women's rights, but also the variety of supporters, of all ages and genders.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What I've Been Watching On Netflix

I don't know about you, but I'm always looking for new content to watch. As an avid Netflix lover, I am guilty of binge-watching all of the content for a TV show all at once. However, once I finish it, I feel empty. What am I supposed to watch? I'm sure that you feel this same way at times, so I've compiled a list of things that I've been watching (or watched) on Netflix, both TV shows and movies, that I enjoyed. I hope that this guide helps you out, but if you're still eager to see more, check out my previous post on What I've Been Watching, here. 


Once Upon a Time

About: Once Upon a Time is based on fairy tales and Disney stories, but with a twist. Set in a little town called, Storybrooke, Maine, in modern-day life, the story follows protagonist, Emma Swan as she protects the town from curses and villains. Although the main characters are Snow White, the Evil Queen, Regina, Prince Charming, and Rumpelstiltskin, it still covers a plethora of tales that we know and love, from the story of the Wicked Witch of the West, to Frozen, to Peter Pan. With twist after twist of the stories that we know and love, Once Upon a Time brings new light to the characters that we already thought we understood.
Personal Opinion: I think that this concept is so cute. I love a good twist on a classic and Once Upon a Time is all that. Personally, I think that the show really picked up around the end of season 3, I had been watching it for a while, but I didn't get truly hooked until that time. 

Beauty and the Beast

About: Catherine (Cat) Chandler first witnessed her mother's murder and escaped from her mother's killers thanks to the help of someone, something that she called "a beast", saved her. She had never known what it was and for the most part dismissed it as shock. But nine years later, she is now a detective and comes across a case regarding an ex-soldier that was supposedly killed in service. However, through the case, she finds out that he is alive and is involved in that night, helping to save her. She soon learns his secrets about who he really is and why he has to hide while also uncovering more about her mother's murder.
Personal Opinion: I think that this modern day depiction of Beauty and the Beast is so fascinating. We always think of Beauty and the Beast as based on the infatuation of "bad boys", but in this show, the "beast", is not depicted very differently. It's full of action and suspense and let me tell you, I was on the edge of my seat. 

Quantico

About: The story phases in-between the past and the present, focusing on present day crisis of a terrorist attack on Grand Central Terminal. The prime suspect, Alex Parrish, is innocent of the crime. She has no idea who did it, but she knows that it was someone that attended the FBI academy at Quantico with her and had been planning to frame her since the moment that they arrived at the academy. Centering around her time at Quantico, the audience gets to see the drama between her and her fellow trainees, while trying to guess who could have framed her and seeing present-day Alex rush to try and stop the terrorist from striking again.
Personal Opinion: Quantico was recommended to me by a friend. She loves Priyanka Chopra and had previously been a fan of her Bollywood movies. When she recommended it to me, I was interested to check it out and I was not disappointed. The story had me totally hooked. Although I never guessed the terrorist correctly, it always had me on my feet, with twists and turns, both in the flashbacks and in the present-day story.


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

I love making and decorating cakes. I rarely have the free time and the occasion to do so, but I have recently had some time off and also a plan to go to a party. And what's a party without cake? I decided to try out a completely new recipe and after making this cake (and enjoying it), I think that I just might make it again. I made a chocolate cake, and then added a salted caramel mousse for filling, and then iced the whole thing with a whipped chocolate buttercream. Chocolate cakes can often be too rich or heavy, overpoweringly sweet with chocolate, which is why I decided to opt for the whipped buttercream, for a lighter taste, and a salted caramel mousse, offering another flavor, besides chocolate, while balancing out the sweetness with the salt. And honestly, I think that I made a pretty good call on it. The basic chocolate cake is transformed into a delicious mixture of flavors. Plus, the salted caramel filling makes the cake look gorgeous on the inside, with the chocolate cake layers and the filling alternating between lighter and darker colors. 



For this cake, since I wanted to customize it to be exactly what I wanted, instead of using just one recipe, I scoured the web for separate recipes and then combined them all into one to create this salted caramel chocolate cake recipe. The cake recipe is from food.com, the salted caramel filling recipe is from Leite's Culinaria, and the whipped chocolate buttercream is from Chef in Training. I modified the recipes a bit, for example, the serving size of the filling, in order to fit it to the portion of the cake and also to fit it to what I wanted for the cake. All of these recipes are fantastic, but I thought that the whipped chocolate buttercream really took the cake (pun intended) and it was a fantastic buttercream, not too sweet and had a great consistency.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Why Are We Afraid of Admitting That We're Not Okay?

If I had a quarter for every time I lied, claiming that I was "good" or "okay" when I really wasn't, I would actually be able to afford the clothes that I want. There are millions of times when I go throughout my day, and someone will ask me something mundane, like "How are you?" and my go-to answer is a lie. It's always just habit to jump to an easy answer, like "I'm good" or "I'm doing okay". It's the easy, stress-free answer on both sides of the conversation. I don't have to worry about my own issues in life and admit that I'm a mess inside, while you don't have to worry about pretending to care. However, there are moments, beyond the niceties, where maybe someone who is genuinely concerned about my well-being will ask me if I'm okay. Even though there are times when I wish someone would ask me that, I always lie and say that I'm okay when I'm not. So why is this? Why do I sit here, wishing that someone would care about my feelings, while in the moments that someone does, I push them away? Why can't I just admit that I'm not okay?


I think that the thing about feelings is that they're scary. They leave you feeling vulnerable, uneasy, anxious. Feelings are so incredibly powerful. They can overwhelm your mood, your thoughts, your lifestyle, and more. And in these moments where these feelings might be negative, but still powerful and overwhelming, it sometimes becomes too much. It feels like a loss of control, like your emotions are taking over. And that's scary. Yes, there are extremes, such as in the case of an anxiety attack, where you completely lose control, but to some extent, we feel little shocks of this loss of control over our emotions every day. Overwhelming stress, anger, sadness, fear. In these cases, for me, personally, it feels so scary to admit these feelings. To admit that maybe something isn't quite right. 

I don't know if it just feels like admitting them will make them real, but I hate feelings. I was talking about this recently with a friend and we were discussing how both of us very much avoid expressing our feelings and emotions. Granted, that doesn't make these emotions any less powerful internally, but both of us aren't good at admitting when things aren't okay. When things aren't okay, instead of maybe talking to a friend or something along those lines, I smile and I pretend that everything is perfect. It's something that I always do, I can't help it. I think that for the most part, this comes down to the kind of person that I am. I like to keep my problems and my insecurities private. I know that some people like talking to others about the problems in their lives, that they need someone to talk to, but for me, it's the opposite. I'm never one to admit that things are not okay. I internalize everything and then turn around and complain about how no one gets it. And it's wrong of me to do that. I know that. But even though I know that I have this habit of refusing to admit that I'm not okay, I still can't kick it. 
The thing is, we live in a world where everything seems to be perfect on the outside. You turn around and see your neighbor, your classmate, your co-worker, and it just seems like they have their life together. Maybe you envy their clothes, their job, their lifestyle, their car, their confidence. And when we admit that maybe something isn't quite right in our lives, it feels like that aura of perfection that we constantly strive for but will never reach is beginning to fade. It makes us envy all those things more. As we look at the lives of others, it makes us feel like if we admit that we're not okay, we put ourselves down, being less put together than anyone else. And although I think that it's sad and it's so wrong that we feel like this, fearing to admit our insecurities because it goes against conformity, I am guilty of this as well.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Style Spotlight: Coat Appreciation

Let's be real, it's cold. Although winter is coming to an end, I'm definitely still appreciation coats. After all, what would I do without them? I definitely would not have been able to get through the winter this far without them. For this style spotlight, I'm putting the spotlight on coats, because they always have my back. (pun intended.) I've focused on three coats, each very different in style and each different for the occasion. Each coat is ideal for a different weather situation and each coat has a very different look, since we're appreciating all styles and situations. 


The In-Between Coat

This is probably my most versatile coat. I just got this coat this season from J. Crew and I'm obsessed with it. I love the style of it, the color is so versatile and matches with every outfit, and I love the gold accents. The zipper and the buttons are all gold, which accessorizes the whole look. In addition, it's a long coat, it falls just about the knee. I love this, especially since I like to wear a lot of sweaters. Some of my sweaters are longer than my coats, which ends up looking a bit strange, but this coat is longer.
I actually got this coat from J. Crew Factory, but it's currently out of stock. However, the original store has one that's almost exactly like it (click here for it!), but it's a bit more pricey. It looks super similar, has the same cut, the same general design, but it has some different accents and I think it has some different color options. It runs right to size, so sizing up isn't necessary. I got the same size that I always get, going off of reviews that said that it fits true to size. I usually size up for coats to accommodate for any bulky sweaters that I might want to wear underneath, but for this, it wasn't necessary to do so. 

The ideal weather: Winter, probably around 25 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit
Find the coat: J. Crew


The Lightweight Coat

Lightweight coats are perfect for wearing in the fall and the winter, and I've been wearing this drawstring jacket from Tobi for the warmer days. Although it's a coat, I wear it all the time, even indoors, especially because I get cold all the time. In order to stay warm, even indoors, I wear this coat. It doesn't add much extra warmth, so it's not ideal for the winter, but it's ideal for indoor situations or when the seasons are changing and the weather hasn't gotten that cold yet. 
I think that having a lightweight coat is perfect and super versatile, especially since I'm always so cold during the fall and the spring, since it's too cold to wear a winter jacket but too cold to go without one. In the past, I would usually just not wear a jacket, but then I would be super cold. Having a lightweight jacket keeps me at the perfect temperature, nice and warm, but not overheating. 

The ideal weather: Fall, Spring, and Early Winter, probably around 45 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit
Find the coat: Tobi



The Heavy Duty Coat

 For you all that live in cold weather locations like I do, it's always important to have a super warm coat. Although the other two are more stylish, this one is reliable and versatile. It serves its function and keeps me warm, which is especially helpful for anyone that has to walk often in the winter, so if you're a student, it's so important to have a quality winter coat. 
This one that I'm wearing is no longer in stock, but it's from North Face. It's actually a ski jacket, which makes it incredibly warm, but I still wear it on a daily basis, considering that it's so cold where I live and I need to stay warm with the proper coat. I like how this one is belted, since I like having some kind of form and structure. Mine also has a ton of pockets, which I assume is probably because it's a ski jacket, but I really appreciate these pockets because then I don't have to worry about carrying a bag. 

The ideal weather: Winter, anything colder than 30 degrees
Find the coat: The North Face


Let's put the appreciation on our coats for always having our backs!

What are your favorite coats?