A small life update

Posted on April 03, 2018 under Life

When we moved into 2018, I took a step back from my Behind the Scenes posts. There was no particular reason for this decision; I just didn’t really feel like writing them. Luckily I can follow whatever whims I want because this is my blog that I write for fun. However, today I thought I’d do a little check-in since it’s been some time since I last shared what I’ve been up to and since I’m about to be up to a whole lot more.

I finished my classes a little under two weeks ago, although it was pretty anticlimactic since lecturers had been on strike for four weeks in February and March. By the time the strike was over, it was already the last week of the semester! The strike was a bit of a bummer – it took up a huge chunk of my semester, and that’s time that I didn’t have access to my brilliant professors. And that’s not to mention the fact that I’m paying international tuition to be here. But I totally support lecturers’ right to strike considering their pensions are being cut dramatically in a climate of increasing tenuousness of academic jobs. I know that they don’t exactly want to be striking, either.

Anyway, I’m all done with my classes, but I still have a lot to do. I’ve finished a 4000 word research proposal and a 3000 word essay, and I still have a 4000 word literature review and a 2000 word dissertation proposal that I have yet to start. Technically none of that is due until April 20, but I’m going to be away starting next Wednesday (more on that in a moment!), so I need to crank out those 6000 words in the next week. I mean, I could work on the road, but I’d really rather just enjoy my travels without deadlines hanging over my head. I’m a fast writer and have excellent time management skills, so I know it’ll be fine – but I’ll feel a lot better when it’s actually done. Although when that’s all over, it’ll be time to write my dissertation. I’m feeling pretty confident about that, luckily. I started reading widely back in February, so I know I’m prepared in terms of having a good body of academic literature to draw from. I love writing essays as long as the topic interests me, so it’ll be really cool to get to dive into a topic I’ve picked in a lot of depth.

In the last month or so I have been really working on my fitness. I’ve actually come to look forward to working out first thing in the morning, so, uh… that’s unlike me. I’ve cut back on my junk food, but I’m never going to be all about clean eating. I like cheese, I like dessert, I like chips, I like fried things. That doesn’t mean I have to eat those things every day, but I am going to eat them some days. Probably more than one day a week, even. But I’m living a healthier life these days! I’ve already noticed a difference in my core strength, which was probably my worst area going into this. In case you were wondering, I’ve mostly been doing Blogilates – I find her workouts push me while remaining manageable, and they’re really great to do at home without equipment.

Next week I’m going to be headed to Brighton to visit with my good pal Aisling. We’re seeing Arcade Fire and Harry Styles in London (uh, separately, although I would not be mad if they played a show together and made my life easier). Then on the weekend we’ll be celebrating Aisling’s thirtieth birthday. I’m really excited because I love London and Brighton (and Arcade Fire and Harry Styles and Aisling), and I don’t know when I’ll have a chance to go back!

The day after I get back from Brighton, my parents are arriving from Toronto. We’re going to drive around Scotland and then do a tour of Ireland as a family. Me and my mom have both been to Ireland, but my dad never has. We’ve been trying to convince him to go for years now because Ireland is basically everything my dad likes distilled into one country. My dad will be flying back to Toronto after we’re done in Ireland, but my mom and I will be moving on to Denmark and the Faroe Islands. I’ve been to Copenhagen, in 2015, but my mom has never been to Denmark at all before. I know she’ll love Copenhagen as much as I did! And I cannot wait to see more of Denmark and to go to the Faroe Islands. It’s a busy itinerary, and I’ll be on the road for about a month total. I love travelling so I know I’ll have the best time… but I will no doubt be exhausted by the end of it.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to share posts about my travels on here – when I studied abroad in 2014/2015 I kept a travel blog for my friends and family, and it’s a lot of work to compile those posts. So we’ll leave that up in the air. I have prepared some posts in advance so that this blog doesn’t have to die while I’m on the road for five weeks. I may or may not add in some more spontaneous, in-the-moment content, but at the very least I have about a post a week ready to go.

When I’m done with my travels I’ll be heading back to Toronto for the summer. I was initially planning on staying in Glasgow for an entire year, but there are several reasons why it makes more sense for me to be in Canada. (Number one – the exchange rate is shit right now.) Luckily my professors have been really understanding and have given me permission to write my dissertation from afar. I’m half and half on this, really. Obviously it would be really cool to get to live abroad in a city that I love for a few more months, but I won’t be sad to get to see my friends, family, and cats a little bit sooner. Plus, it will be great to live with somebody else again because then I don’t have to be the person to deal with spiders. (I have a soul-crushing fear of spiders. Like, I know it’s irrational but I can’t help it.)

And that is what’s going on with me! Send me good flight vibes, because I have a lot of them coming up in the next little while and I don’t want any trouble.

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.