Posted in Undoubtedly

Oh 2015: A Reflection

new-years-day-1062608_960_720As I look back on this year, I am grateful. Despite some bumps along the way, this year brought so much good in my life.

Instead of my usual, rambly post going over the year, I have decided to switch things up this year and take @bravenewlady‘s lead to post three things that I am especially proud of this year, among the many other things I did:

  1. I said yes. In 2015, I made many major life decisions. I said yes to continuing my studies and pursuing a PhD. To that end, I said yes to the University of Louisville, a place I still feel was an excellent choice and enjoy. I also said yes to the man I love and got engaged. I also said yes to becoming more active and while I didn’t lose a bunch of pounds, I have been healthier this year than I have been in the past.
  2. I got an article accepted for publication. In February, I submitted an article titled “Yoü and I: Identity and the Performance of Self in Lady Gaga and Beyoncè” to the Journal of Popular Culture, and in August, it was accepted. I’m excited to see my work printed in the journal in 2016 and hopefully sending off another.
  3.  I read a lot of books. While I have always read many books each year, this year I set a goal of reading 50 books that I will complete at the end of today. This time last year, I committed to taking part in the PopSugar 2015 Reading Challenge. While I didn’t fill out all of the categories to meet this challenge (many of the books I read for school didn’t quite fit categories here), I did complete books that filled the following 29 categories (the book that I read for each category are listed below):
    A book with more than 500 pages – Mechanization Takes Command – Siegfried Gideon
    A book that became a movie – The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
    A book published this year – Why Not Me? – Mindy Kaling
    A funny book – Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography – Neil Patrick Harris
    A book by a female author – What the River Carries: Encounters with the Mississippi, Missouri, and Platte – Lisa Knopp
    A mystery or thriller – The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
    A book of short stories – One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories – B.J. Novak
    A book set in a different country – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson
    A nonfiction book – The Essay: Theory and Pedagogy for an Active Form – Paul Heilker
    A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet – Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler
    A book a friend recommended – The Wallcreeper – Nell Zink
    A book based on a true story – Yes Please – Amy Poehler
    A book based entirely on its cover – Make Lemonade – Virginia Euwer Wolff
    A memoir – Food: A Love Story – Jim Gaffigan
    A book you can finish in a day – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon
    A book with antonyms in the title – Then is Now: Sampling from the Past for Today’s Graphics – Cheryl Dangel Cullen
    A book with bad reviews – Junior – Macaulay Culkin
    A book from your childhood – Are You There God? It’s me Margaret – Judy Blume
    A book with a love triangle – Faking It – Elisa Lorello
    A book set in high school – Will Grayson, Will Grayson – John Green/David Leviathan
    A book with a color in the title – The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros
    A graphic novel – Bound by Law – Keith Aoki
    A book by an author you’ve never read before – On the Edge – Allison van Diepen
    A book you own but have never read – An Ideal Husband – Oscar Wilde
    A book that takes place in your hometown – A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints – Dito Montiel
    A book set during Christmas – The Chimes – Charles Dickens
    A play – The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
    A book based on or turned into a TV show – (loosely) Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari
    A book you started but never finished – Fifty Shades of Grey – E.L. James

    In 2016, I hope to read 55 books and will be participating in PopSugar’s 2016 Reading Challenge as well as the Goodreads Around the Year in 52 books challenge simultaneously. I will continue to update my progress on my Goodreads page.

2015 has been a good year. I am eager to see what 2016 will bring and hope to continue moving forward through many goals. Here’s to 2016!

Posted in Undoubtedly

Oven-roasted Aloo Gobi: A Recipe

Aloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower) is one of my favorite Indian food staples. I was raised eating this in the way that so many American children grow up eating macaroni and cheese. In short, it’s a comfort food. So with the semester quickly approaching, I wanted to go ahead and prepare some meals to have available after long days of research, class, and writing.

I’ve been wanting to try an oven-roasted version of this recipe for a little while now since the last few times I’ve made aloo gobi on a stovetop didn’t go as well as planned — long story short, I need bigger pots for the portions I’m cooking.

I read a few different versions of this recipe online and realized that it’s very similar to cooking it on a stovetop except you toss everything in all at once. I also decided not to add real onions or ginger in this version, but I may in the future. Onion and ginger powder are my friends too.

aloo gobi

Ingredients:
2 Russet Potatoes
1 Head of Cauliflower
1 tablespoon Oil (I used vegetable oil in this case, but olive or peanut oil works too)
1 teaspoon Salt (can be adjusted according to your tastes)
½ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (I used a little more, because I love a spicy kick)
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds or Ground Cumin (I used seeds in this case, but either works fine)
1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala or Curry Powder of your choice (I used a McCormick brand Hot Madras Curry Powder I picked up at my local Kroger)
Fresh Cilantro for garnishing/final touches

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time 20-25 minutes
Makes 2-4 servings

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Peel and chop up potatoes into bite-sized pieces as well as chopping up the cauliflower head into florets.
3. Mix all of the dry spices into a bowl with a tablespoon or so of oil to create a sort of marinade – toss this with the potatoes and cauliflower into a baking dish. I would recommend washing your hands for this step and tossing the vegetables by hand to get them as evenly coated as possible.
4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until you can easily cut through a piece of potato and cauliflower.
5. Let cool and sprinkle fresh cilantro on top to taste – bon appétit!

Leave a comment below and let me know what you thought of my version of oven-roasted Aloo Gobi!

Posted in Undoubtedly

Reflecting on 2014 & 2015 Resolutions

2015Every year, I try to post some kind of “look back” post, and this year is no different.

2014 has been about growth in so many ways. I grew as a student, and began my journey as a teacher. I also met almost all of my 2014 resolutions: I lost and maintained a loss of 10 pounds, got into a conference (three), got published, and saw many more 6 a.m.s and few 2 a.m.s. The resolution I didn’t succeed in was trying to blog more, but as you loyal readers know, I rarely stick with that one…

As with any year, a few moments were tough. I spent the longest time without seeing my S.O. this year, which presented itself to be more challenging than I could have ever expected. I also struggled with the stresses of teaching, graduate school, and applications for doctoral programs all at once.

But 2014, overall, was a lovely year. I made several new friends who I am lucky to have in my life. My relationships with existing friends also grew stronger, which is so much more than I can ever hope for each year. Finally, I feel closer to my parents and brother than I ever have in my life. I love my family.

To those who helped make this year enjoyable — thank you.

For 2015, I want to make these resolutions:

  • I want to lose and maintain a loss of 10 more pounds. I feel the healthiest I’ve ever been this year, and I hope to continue to be healthier in 2015.
  • I won’t commit to blogging more this year, but I do want to commit to reading and writing more. Whether this writing be in a private journal or on a blog, I want to do more of it. I’d also like to read for pleasure more this year. I feel like I did not do that nearly enough in the last year. To help with this, I am going to participate in a few reading challenges beginning first with the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. Check out future blog posts for more on these challenges.
  • I’d like to recommit to my happiness. I feel like I had several very down days in 2014 in which I really wasn’t happy and/or having trouble seeing the good things in my life. To assist with this resolution, I’m going to start with the #100happydays challenge through my Instagram account. Follow me on Instagram to see my progress and/or join the challenge with me!
  • Finally, I am going to try to take more time for myself to relax this year. I often feel that I have trouble not working on something and think it’s bad if I am taking time for myself. However, this thought process is unfair. It’s okay to take time for yourself, and this is something I will try to tell myself more often this year (within reason of course!)

These are my resolutions — what are your goals for 2015? How was your 2014? Leave a comment below; I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions (and/or book recommendations! ;))

Posted in Undoubtedly

#MODAVOXBOX Review

I received a #ModaVoxBox from Influenster complimentary to try. Inside I got the following products:

modavoxbox

 

  • Puffs Softback Tissues
  • Rimmel London Scandal Eyes Rockin’ Curves Mascara
  • Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lipstick
  • Rimmel London Moisture Renew Lip Liner
  • Jergens Ultra Healing Moisturizer
  • Resource Water Bottle
  • Clairol Hair Food
  • Swiss Miss Simply Cocoa Packet

This hefty box was exciting to receive, and I loved that each product is something that I can easily incorporate in my daily life. Watch my unboxing/first impressions video here:

Overall, I thought each product was effective. Particularly, I’m a huge fan of the Rimmel Moisture Renew Lip Liner because it is versatile, actually does add moisture to my lips, and goes with any color lipstick/gloss/stain. The other two Rimmel products (mascara and lipstick) were nice, but nothing special compared to existing mascaras/lipsticks. I would recommend them as a cost-efficient set of products though. The Rimmel London line is definitely a great drugstore priced line.

Next, after trying the Jergens moisturizer for more than a week, I definitely began to see positive results in terms of my skin being soft, but I don’t think this particular moisturizer will replace my existing arsenal of moisturizers. (PS, I’m currently in love with the Camille Beckman Platinume Gold Hand Therapy Lotion).

The Resource water was refreshing (#refreshwithresource), but I was upset that I couldn’t order a case in my location. I drank the whole bottle in one day at school (loved the large size) and enjoyed the taste. The Hair Food conditioner, after weeks of use, definitely has made my hair feel softer and healthier, but I don’t think I’ll be changing permanently. I will, however, gladly use the complimentary coupon Influenster sent me to get another Hair Food product for a reduced price. It’s effective, but unless the pricing ends up being substantially more ideal for my budget, I’m not sure if I’ll make the permanent switch.

Finally, the Puffs Tissues and Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate were excellent, but that was expected. I’ve always been a huge fan of both brands, but I love the minor/green-friendly changes they’ve made. The Swiss Miss tasted less heavy, and I appreciated it was was only 5 ingredients, while the Puffs Tissues come in a nice soft pack that I’m not worried about squishing on my desk next to numerous books that often accompany that space.

All in all, I liked this box, and appreciate getting the chance to try all of these great products.

Posted in Undoubtedly

If I actually became a Clown

free clown color-vector-jfBuzzfeed recently posted “What should you write today?,” a set of prompts that you can select at random to write about. I happened to choose this one: “Write about what would happen if you unwaveringly followed your first childhood dream” and decided to blog about it here. I hope to use this resource more in the future to write about some fun topics!

I’m interpreting this prompt in terms of my career choices. My first childhood dream career was to be a clown — no joke. When i was in about the second grade, I was considered “the funniest girl” in my class alongside a boy named Nicholas who was the “funniest boy.” These titles were arbitrary, but we took them in pride.

Being funny came easily to me, and I figured it would be an enjoyable life career, so I remember trying to think of people who did it as a career. At the time, I didn’t know comedians were a thing or that there were other ways to use my humor, so I went for what felt like the obvious career choice: becoming a clown.

I had watched clowns on television, and I loved that they brought laughter to people. What a great gift to give with your job! If I unwaveringly followed this childhood dream, I definitely wouldn’t be in graduate school today. I would have attended some clown college, I’m sure, and learned the ins and outs of painting my face brightly and riding a unicycle — at least that’s what I imagine would happen.

I wouldn’t be so concerned with dressing professionally or taking care of my hair, since a wig would cover it up regularly anyway. I would attend dozens of birthday parties and probably be a rounder person in shape (all that cake has to go somewhere!).

If I actually became a clown, I probably would use the trombone as part of my comedy act. Trombones can be hilarious instruments and kids love the sound of funny glisses right?

Clowning surely has its disadvantages too. No job is perfect right? I’m sure there would be lots of risks of injury in some of the things I might do. I’m also sure that I would have to deal with lots of crying children who just didn’t find clowns enjoyable.

So why didn’t I follow my early dream and become a clown? I eventually began to find them rather spooky (probably because of some Goosebumps book or Are You Afraid of the Dark? episode, and I couldn’t handle how fearful people were of clowns in that regard. “I don’t want to scare people,” I thought.

But I do still enjoy making people laugh when I can and “clowning around” with my friends. Just don’t expect to see me in face paint and a wig anytime soon.

Posted in Undoubtedly

Ruffian Nail Polish Rapture Collection Review

10487353_765162363506076_6194371984430164664_nDisclaimer: I am part of the Birchblogger group on Birchbox.com and occasionally receive opportunities to win products to test out — sometimes I win. This is my review of a product I recently won from Birchbox.com. Despite the product being given to me for free to try out, my review is 100 percent honest and is in no way shaped by or represent the organization from which the products stem.

***

Almost a month ago, I received a set of three Ruffian brand polishes from the Rapture Collection as well as pack of 10 Ruffian brand nail polish remover wipes from Birchbox.com. In a past Birchbox, I had received a Ruffian polish and was far from impressed. At the time, I thought the formula was too thick and streaky. Since then, my opinion of Ruffian has only changed slightly.

10556347_766877183334594_6277276904080730562_nThe polishes I received were from the Rapture Collection and included a silvery shade (Relic), a rose-gold shade (Rosary), and a lavender shade (Ambrosia). First off, I have and continue to love the Ruffian packaging and color choices. These three polishes were a great selection of colors that can be worn easily on both my hands and feet. However, the formula for the polishes can be very thick and build up messily if you aren’t careful with how you apply it, or happen to apply polish a little heavy-handedly, which I sometimes do from one finger to the next.

1939588_765546280134351_232667995357564195_nThe positive of this polish is that it literally only takes one coat to get a very opaque color on your nails — you just have to be careful how heavily you apply that one coat. This polish also upholds pretty well against chippage for a few days without a top coat. With a top coat, it’ll last almost a week without looking too rough.

Of the colors I received, it was difficult for me to choose a favorite color. The Relic shade is a classic color that works with almost anything I wear, while the Rosary and Ambrosia colors are gorgeous and trendy as well. I would love to see a blue shade of sorts in this collection.

Overall, I didn’t hate these polishes, I just wish the formula wasn’t so streaky and clumpy at times. I realize I am not an expert nail artist at all, nor do I claim to be, but for the average person, this polish can be very heavy and messy if not applied with the right touch.

If I were to rate this polish, I’d give it an A+ for color choice, B for formula, and an A for packaging.

However, there is something great to be said for the nail polish remover wipes. As a person who has tried a large variety of nail polish remover products, I must say I am very impressed by these wipes. Not only was one wipe enough to successfully clean all 10 of my nails, but it also got each of my toes, which I often find rare for a wipe to do well.

Next, the formula also conditioned my nails and the wipes were acetone free. I am pretty sure I will end up buying a full size of the wipes once I run out simply, because they are incredibly effective. A+ product.

Posted in Undoubtedly

Spring Fling Voxbox via Influenster — Review

Recently I received a Spring Fling Voxbox from Influenster filled with products for me to try. Watch the unboxing below to see my first impressions of the items I got.

The products I received were:
1. Kiss Everlasting French
2. Nivea Skin Firming Hydration Body Lotion
3. Playtex Sport Tampons
4. Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara
5. Labor Day peach pie-scented air freshner

Of these products, I’m most excited to try the Kiss Everlasting French nails since I have never used a product like them and love to do fun things with my nails. The lotion is the product I’ve used the most so far, and I really appreciate that it isn’t greasy and does provide a lot of moisture to the skin. The tampons are completely useless to me since I don’t use that particular product, so I am currently looking to give them away to someone who does. The mascara is one I need a little time to try to determine if I truly love it, because in my opinion, it takes more than one use to determine how you feel about most products. Finally, the Labor Day peach pie-scented air freshner doesn’t smell like much of anything to me, but it’s a cute decoration hanging in my apartment currently.

That’s my brief review of all of the products I received in this voxbox — tune in to my YouTube channel and/or follow me on Instagram for more reviews on this and future voxboxes. If you are interested in this 100 percent free service, feel free to leave a message below, and I can send you an invitation to join or provide more information beyond what is mentioned in this post and in the video above!