2017 recap + 2018 goals

Posted on January 03, 2018 under Life

Chihuly exhibition at the ROM, Hank, The Big Apple

2017 was a very rough year from a big picture perspective, for reasons that require no explanation. On a personal level, though, it was a lot better for me than 2016. Nobody I know died this year, which is a lot better than 2016’s total of four deaths. Therefore, I have nothing to complain about. This year also marked some achievements for me: I got my driver’s license, I moved to another country, and I started grad school, which has been a goal since I was 19. I had a bit of performance anxiety since I had been out of school for a year and a half before starting my Master’s, but I’m happy to report that I killed my first semester.

So, let’s take a look at how I did with my 2017 goals.

Lemon cheesecake with raspberry topping (made by me!), posing in front of a bakery in Kentucky, fika at Karelia Kitchen in Toronto
  • Blog at least five times a month: I told myself that if I missed a single month I’d fail the goal, which means I definitely failed. However, I’m okay with this – I posted more than five times in June, July, and August, and overall I posted pretty consistently. I fell off the wagon a bit at the end of the year because I got busy with school. At the end of the day, blogging is a hobby, so I’m not going to stress too much about it. And hey, I have a semester of straight As to show for letting blogging fall by the wayside…
  • Read 50 books: This was a stretch goal and I totally made it, reading a total of 51 books in 2017. (I do wish I’d read one more for an average of one a week, but oh well.) I have very strong time management skills, so I managed to read 45 books before I started grad school, which made it much easier to finish this goal in the last bit of the year.
    This was my most prolific year as a reader since 2012!
  • The Royal Cinema, a flower in my backyard, Cassius and Wally enjoying the sunshine
  • Be tidier: I’m still not a neat freak by any means, but I do think that I am slowly improving upon my natural messiness. I was worried that living by myself for the first time in my life would encourage me to be completely slobby since I didn’t have to think about anyone else, but I’ve been maintaining my flat quite well! I have actually become a person who can’t go to bed until everything is passably tidy, which will come as a shock to anybody who knows me in real life.
  • Declutter: This was kind of a freebie since I didn’t have much choice but to get rid of a lot of stuff before I moved. I did, however, manage to considerably declutter my clothes, makeup, books, and other possessions.
  • Mural on Queen St. West, walking Jet, officiating my friends’ wedding in July
  • Be mindful about new purchases: I made some impulse buys that didn’t entirely work out, but mindful consumption is a process, not an end goal. I think I’m moving in the right direction.

So… looks like I actually did a really good job with my goals this year, which is shocking. Either I set the bar low or I actually rose to the occasion. I’ll leave you to decide.

Me and my friend Katie, view from the Lachine Canal in Montreal, learning to drive

And my goals for 2018…

  • Finish my MA with an A average. I come from a university known for grade deflation, where a TA once said “Great job, Clementine!” as she handed me back an assignment I got 7/10 on, so I almost feel cocky setting this goal. However, I got all As this semester so I think this is doable. By the way – in the UK MA programmes are one year long, so I have one more semester of classes and then I’ll write my dissertation over the summer. I’ll have my degree by this time next year!
  • Complete all my readings and screenings before messing around on the internet. I always have a more productive day overall if I complete my routine schoolwork prior to checking social media. Last semester I did well keeping up with readings and screenings, but this semester I want to form a stronger habit that truly prioritizes school.
  • Neighbours’ plants, hanging out in the hammock with Jet, a building in Glasgow
  • Get fitter. Ugh, I know, I’m being that person this year. I always neatly avoid setting this goal for myself, but I think it’s finally time, guys. I’ve always been a walker (and currently walk about 5km round trip each day), but I think I should step up my game. I’m not out here to run a marathon or anything, but I’d like to raise my level of fitness just for my daily life.
  • Read 30 books. Adjusted the reading goal downwards again because grad school = very little desire to read for fun. 30 might actually be pushing it, but I might as well challenge myself a little. I just picked up four books today with a Chapters gift card,
    so that will help me start the year right!
  • Trixie Mattel performing in October, being a tourist in Lewes, pretty steps in Glasgow
  • Keep to my beauty budget, consume mindfully, and enjoy using what I have. Self-explanatory! I’ve been doing pretty well with mindful consumption over the past few years since I really started to think about it, and I want to do even better this year!

Nothing special here, really, and no blogging goals. I’ll keep posting as regularly as my schedule and interest allows, but I don’t want to hold myself to a posting schedule and feel guilty when I inevitably fail to meet it.

Happy 2018, everyone! I hope this year is a little kinder to the world…

Scenes from Prague, Christmas tree

Packing Light for Prague

Posted on November 25, 2017 under Life

My last few trips I did not bother to pack light makeup-wise, either because I didn’t have to or because I felt I needed options. This weekend, however, I’m going to Prague for purely touristy reasons, and I thought this would be the perfect time to exercise some restraint. As with all my European weekend trips, I pack entirely in one small school-sized backpack, so I really need to streamline my makeup to make room. I thought I would share my very minimal makeup bag today.

I can easily fill a liquids bag with skincare, but I know that when I’m walking around all day and sleeping in a hostel dorm room at night my desire to keep up with a complex skincare routine is zero. So my liquids bag – which is from Muji, by the way – reflects a back-to-basics approach.

The skincare steps I cannot do without are cleansing and moisturizing. The Caudalie Vino Perfect Serum from this year’s Sephora birthday gift will help boost the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra moisturizer to keep my skin nice and hydrated. I’ve never had issues with dry undereyes until the past month or so, so I decided to bring the Biotherm Homme Eye Depuffer (which, by the way, is a nice gel eye cream even if you’re not a man). I got a sample of the Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor which I’ve been saving for travel, since obviously my poor dead hair requires a lot of moisture. I don’t have any travel-sized shampoo right now, so I’ll have to pick one up at the airport.

The IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream is such an easy, fuss-free foundation that it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing which base product to pack. The packaging is also incredibly travel-friendly. For concealer, Maybelline Master Conceal works under the eyes and on blemishes.

I can’t be without Milani Eyeshadow Primer, and Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner is a staple for me as well. The Lancôme Hypnôse Drama mascara mini is convenient for travel, and I like the mascara as well. (Lancôme mascaras are so hit and miss to me, but this one is a hit.) Finally, a fresh tube of Essence Lash and Brow Mascara to keep my brow hairs in place.

And then the rest of my makeup easily fits in one small bag, which is a point of pride when I am prone to overpacking.

For the cheeks, Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Mood Exposure goes with everything and is a perennial travel staple for me. This is the most beautiful flattering blush colour in the world despite how “meh” it appears in the pan. I’m not sure if I’ll bother with highlighter, but I figured I’d give myself the option. Glossier Haloscope in Quartz is easy to apply without brushes and it gives a very natural effect, so I thought it would be perfect for travel.

Urban Decay Naked Basics is probably the most boring travel palette choice in the world, but it’s small, practically indestructible, and foolproof. I decided to add an eyebrow pencil into my repertoire mainly for travel purposes, so I don’t have to mess around with a brush and pomade when I’m on the go. The Annabelle Skinny Brow Liner in Universal Taupe is one of many ABH Brow Wiz dupes, and it works for me.

Forgive me for being extra and packing two lip balms. Overnight, my lips need the heavy-duty power of Nuxe Rêve de Miel, but during the day I prefer something a little lighter like Vaseline Lip Therapy. In an uncharacteristic move, I am committing to a single lip liner – Rimmel Exaggerate Lip Liner in Enchantment – and a single lipstick – YSL Rouge Volupté in #17. I love moisturizing lip products when I’m travelling, and the soft berry shade of #17 makes it a perfect candidate for this trip. I usually like to pair the Rouge Voluptés with a liner underneath to increase the staying power a bit, so I’ll likely just wear this combination together each day.

I tend to really overpack brushes, but this time I cut it down to the essentials: Magic Collection Oval Brush, ColourPop Blush Brush, ColourPop Blending Brush, ELF Crease Brush, ELF Eyeshadow C Brush, ELF Eye Contour Brush, ELF Small Smudge Brush, Elf Spoolie. Wow, I do really like ELF brushes, don’t I?

(By the way, I definitely washed that foundation brush after I took this picture!)

In case you were wondering about cleansing, I did buy a pack of makeup wipes from Superdrug. I hardly ever use wipes, but I just think washing my face with an actual cleanser while travelling is more hassle than it’s worth. My skin is pretty resilient, so I think it’ll survive. I love using actives on my skin, but I know that I can get away with just makeup wipes and moisturizer for three nights. It’ll make my life easier!

Anyway, I’m off this evening with my nice light makeup bag. I’ve wanted to go Prague for years, so I’m really excited that I could finally make it happen.

September + October 2017 Behind the Scenes

Posted on November 04, 2017 under Life

Well, this one is big! A lot has changed since my last Behind the Scenes post, so let’s get into it.

Moved to Scotland

I arrived here the morning of September 6, so it’s been just about two months. Luckily the transition was pretty easy since I spent the third year of my undergrad in Glasgow. I live pretty close to where I was before, and I shop at the same Tesco and Superdrug. The biggest adjustment has been leaving all my friends and family behind. After I graduated I moved back home to Toronto and got to spend a year and a half seeing my friends and family all the time, and now I’m back to being separated from them. Luckily, FaceTime exists – I talk to my parents every week and my friends almost as often.

Started grad school

I’m about halfway through my first semester of grad school now. I really missed being in school and this is the goal I’ve worked towards for four years now! This semester I’m taking two classes: a core course which runs all year, and Advanced Topics in Film Studies. Next semester I’ll be taking Advanced Topics in Television Studies and a class on festivals alongside the core course. I’m really looking forward to that because I’m way more interested in TV than film, and the course is co-taught by one of the professors I had when I studied abroad who I loved. There are three different streams in my department, two practical and then the academic programme that I’m in, and it’s cool to mingle with the students who are making films and training for careers within the film industry instead of academia.

I thought transitioning back to school might be difficult, but it wasn’t – I feel so comfortable in an academic setting. It was a bit strange to go from working 40 hours a week on someone else’s schedule to being in charge of my own time minus my ~10 hours a week on campus. But the workload has been manageable and I’m not struggling with the content. Around half of the people in my programme studied something other than film in their undergrad, and I can see that sometimes they’re lost – so I’m grateful to my film/cultural studies background for giving me a leg up here!

I wouldn’t say the classes, assignments, or reading are significantly more difficult than what I was doing in the last year of my undergrad. My biggest struggle has been the pace of my core course – each week is taught by a different professor on a single topic, and the next week we move on to a totally different topic. It’s so different from the in-depth courses I took in fourth year. If there’s a topic I’m interested in and want to explore in an essay, I can’t rely primarily on the content presented in class – that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and there’s a lot more independent research to do on my own time. It obviously makes sense that grad school would be more research-based, but that’s been the biggest transition for me.

Cut my hair

I mean, I literally cut my own hair. I’ve done it a few times before, and it always turns out far less terribly than you might think. I keep oscillating between wanting to maintain a short cut and grow it out to its eighteen-year-old glory:

However, my hair is far too damaged to be past my shoulders. I’m also attempting to stay strong now that I’m eight months bleach-free, and growing out the blonde paradoxically means cutting my hair to get rid of it. Anyway, it was time for a cut – the ends were fried and it was becoming shapeless. I’m sure it’s a total hack job if you look closely, but I’ve been living my life this way for the past three weeks and it’s been fine. I do really like it at this length, but now that my hair is back on the road to health I’m yearning for the ability to have it long again. (And I REALLY miss doing high ponytails!)

Went to a drag show

A classic Clem move is getting really into a TV show in the first few weeks of a semester. Past obsessions have included The OC and Scandal. This time, mainly inspired by the lack of selection on UK Netflix, it was RuPaul’s Drag Race. All my friends love the show so it was only a matter of time before I copied them. I will not tell you how quickly I watched all nine seasons plus the two All Stars seasons, but it was fast. And then I went to see some of the most popular RPDR queens (Sharon Needles, Alaska, Courtney Act, Willam, Jinkx Monsoon, and Trixie Mattel) when they came to town for a Halloween show. (Aquaria, Sharon’s drag daughter who is rumoured to be on season 10, was also there.) The show was the day after Trixie was officially announced as an All Stars 3 cast member, so when she came onstage the energy was incredible. She was very smiley and happy and the other queens were really supportive of her. Sharon Needles spent a long time complimenting her and calling her a genius, and later Trixie mentioned that in her season 7 promo she said that Sharon was her favourite RPDR queen, so everything came full circle. Jinkx also blew me away – I really liked her on season 5, but she fully won me over live. She was so funny and energetic, and she unexpectedly sang “Life On Mars?”, which, if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you will know is one of my favourite songs of all time.

I was about four rows back and had a really good view of the stage, so here are some of my pictures:

Alaska, Willam, and Courtney Act, aka the AAA Girls; Courtney Act dressed as Britney Spears; Alaska dressed as Peter Pan

Trixie Mattel; Trixie performing with Courtney; Jinkx Monsoon in a very “Life On Mars?”-esque colour scheme.

Trixie; Trixie performing with Sharon Needles (two winners?!); Sharon

Sharon is my favourite of these six queens but I barely got any good pictures of her because she would not stay still. She was the last queen onstage (since she’s the Queen of Halloween she was saved until the end!), and she came out of a coffin.

All in all, a great experience, and one that I’d totally repeat and recommend. I have a ticket for Trixie’s solo show in January, so that will be fun!

Went to southern England

Over the summer I stayed up until 5am to buy tickets to see Harry Styles in London, and the show was this past weekend. I stayed with Aisling in Brighton. I’ve been to Brighton twice before and the weather was terrible both times, so I was very excited that last weekend it was sunny and clear. On Sunday Aisling and I went to the adorable town of Lewes, where I had my first ever cream tea. (By the way, I tried both the Devonian and Cornish methods and I am 100% Team Devon. It’s a lot harder to spread clotted cream on top of jam than vice versa!)

On Monday I spent eight hours outside in the cold lining up to see Harry in London, which was inevitable. I’m an unashamed adult One Direction fan, and now that the band is unofficially dead Harry is the only one whose career I’m following closely. (He’s always been my absolute favourite.) He bought Pizza Hut and hot chocolate for the hundreds of fans who waited in line for him, which just makes me love him more. Sadly the GA audience was awful and basically treated a small show like a One Direction concert in a stadium, so the show itself wasn’t the best experience for me. But Harry was great and I’m excited to see him again in April.

November promises to be pretty busy what with the end of the semester (only three weeks left!), and in December I’ll be in Canada, so we’ll see what I have to report in my next update.