A Year in Review

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2013 began with me returning back to Baltimore to finish my last semester of college. It began with me losing a friend. It began with me celebrating a marriage between two friends the very next day. Then my football team won the Super Bowl. I turned 22, spending most of the night drunkenly sticking up for loved ones who didn’t deserve to be treated like that. And I found out I was going to be an aunt. And I graduated from college. And I felt aimless.

I went on my first cruise. I drank champagne on our balcony while the people on shore waved & wished us a bon voyage, just like in the movies. I kissed a seal & drank pina coladas on the beach.  And then we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and drank way too many butter beers.

I worked. I discovered what I was good at, & I found out what I really sucked at. I built something from the ground up, & I felt accomplished. And in the mix, football season started. We were reunited with our purple, plastic, best-in-the-stadium seats.

I visited my family. I hung out with my baby sister, who is growing up way too fast. I spent time with my mom, who I can tell I’m turning into. We drove to Oklahoma. I gossiped and laughed all night with my pregnant sister. A few days later, I met my niece.

I put myself out there. I strengthened relationships. I (tried) mending broken ones. I reconnected with people I never thought I’d see again. I actually made plans with people without my boyfriend. And I was stood up. And it was embarrassing.

This year was all over the place. Was it a good year? Yes. Was it a bad year? Also, yes. I’m satisfied with the year but can’t wait to start a new one.

Here’s to 2014!

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Lipstick Adventures

About a month ago, I started having inexplicable stomach pains.  I knew I wasn’t accidentally eating gluten, and I was scared that I was starting to have reactions to other foods. After panicking for a few days, it finally hit me. My cosmetics, including lipsticks, probably aren’t gluten free.

Lo and behold, they weren’t. I was glutening myself with lipstick! I found myself suddenly lipstickless (and shampooless and conditionerless and etc. etc. etc.) and on the market for some new, gluten free ways to color my lips.

After some very brief research, I found some pretty nasty things about lip products. They’re packed with carcinogenic chemicals. Their ingredients aren’t inspected by the FDA. They have weird animal-by-products. And we eat about 8 pounds of this stuff in our lifetime.

I decided that I wouldn’t cheap out on new lipstick and try to find a natural brand that does not contain gluten. That’s what led me to BITE Beauty. Not only do their lip colors have natural, food grade ingredients, but they actually work. The colors don’t feather, and they’re long lasting. Score! The only downside is the price ($24 for .13 oz of product). But yesterday I went into Sephora, and I found something really awesome– limited edition lipstick sets!

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These two sets are such good deals. The one I’ll review today, the Best BITE Set (pictured right), contains 4 mini pigment pencil tubes in very different colors so you can find out what colors and shades look good on your lips without having to spend the big bucks. It also comes with a tin case with a mirror inside.

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DSC_0062The names of the four colors are Quince (magenta red), Madeira (nude), Rhubarb (dusty rose), and Cranberry (not-quite true red).

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Here’s a close up of the skin swatches in Cranberry, Madeira, Quince and Rhubarb from top to bottom.

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This set would be a great stocking stuffer for any lipstick wearer. They are all beautiful colors, and I’m excited to play with them some more! Oh, and if you know a lipstick wearer who is Celiac, please tell them to check their lipstick ingredients!

A Summer Recap

Summer has come and gone, and my online presence has been nonexistent. Oops. Luckily, I’ve been gone because I was having too much fun. Really. This summer was the best I’ve had in quite a while. Here’s my attempt at a quick, orderless recap.

1. My college graduation ceremony. I had dreamed of this day for so long, and it came! And it was perfect! The ceremony was like a scene straight out of the Harry Potter movies. Very traditional. It was a cloudy, windy, rainy day. All of us grads walked down Van Meter while the church bells rang. Then came the music– bag pipes! Most little girls dream of their wedding ceremony, but this has always been my dream. I’m the first one in my family to graduate from college, and I’m very proud of it. Speaking of family– mine came all the way from Oklahoma and Colorado, and I was finally able to show them around my parts of Maryland where I have lived for the past four years. We also took a day trip to DC while they were here and walked around the Smithsonian. My only complaint is that I wish they could have stayed longer.

2. I’m going to be an aunt! I’m going to have a niece to spoil!

3. Trips! Trips everywhere! NYC (so many gluten free food options, Nintendo World, etc.), Providence, Worcester, Orlando and ~the Bahamas~. The boyfriend and I went on a Disney cruise to Nassau and Castaway Cay, their private island. I’m not sure that I’ve ever had so much fun.  We started the cruise by receiving our bon voyages on our nice, roomy deck while sipping on champagne. Then, we explored the ship!  We were on the Disney Dream, which of course means we rode the AquaDuck. All the activities on board were great. We always had something to do. They had multiple bars for every kind of drinker; our personal favorite was Skyline. They even had a cigar bar! The adult pool area was a nice place to hang out, and it was nice to walk through the pool water to get a daiquiri! The live shows were so much fun, and the gluten free food was to die for (I had two souffles!). We had a lot of fun at both of the ports. At Nassau, we went to Atlantis to hang out with a sea lion! Her name was Cassie, and she was a real sweetie! I was literally holding back tears of joy and excitement about being able to actually touch such a cool animal. We decided to just go with the flow on Castaway Cay. We went to the Adults Only beach and relaxed for a bit. I read Treasure Island and drank piña colada after piña colada. After a few drinks, we went in the water and saw a huuuge barracuda! After that, we decided to get some snorkeling gear. And good thing we did because we were able to see a sting ray and another barracuda. After the cruise, we spent two full days in Orlando and explored Universal. I had been dying to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so we went! And it was not a disappointment. I think I spent more money there than on the entire cruise.

4. I have a temporary job selling designer items online. As far as temp jobs go, it’s a good one to have!

5. I’m a brunette again.

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A College Graduate?

On Thursday, May 16, 4:35 PM, I finished. I crawled walked out of that Chinese final feeling like a crumpled million dollar bill that had been soaking in bear bile for the past two weeks. It was fantastically awful. I was completely burnt out. I took one look at that Chinese test and knew that my ability to think was fading quick. It was like I was looking at Chinese for the first time in my life. I know I failed it, but I couldn’t get myself to care– I was done. With college. Forever. (Until grad school.)

My final final’s week was by far the worst. At the beginning I developed the most unfortunate stomach pain that came in unpredictable waves. I figured it was just the celiac cramps paying me a quick, miserable visit, but between paper week and test week C had to take me to the ED where I spent 12 hours being poked and pricked just to be told, “Hey, dummy, you’re totes healthy.” Not cool.

It still hasn’t hit me that the only thing left to do is pay a library fine  walk down that stage, shake the president’s hand, and grab that  $200,000 piece of paper that I’ve worked so hard for. Now, excuse me while I go dedicate the next several months to something I actually care about– catching all 649 Pokemon before X&Y comes out.

Photo on 2013-04-15 at 23.35 #3

Lola says hi.

A Wedding, a Retirement, and a Funeral

This is how I spent my first week of 2013 and my first few days back in Baltimore. Two friends were married the morning after another friend died. I watched my lovely boyfriend hand the bride & groom their wedding rings. Then I watched my boyfriend carry his friend to his eternal resting place. And between the two, we were at Ray Lewis’s last game at M&T Bank Stadium.

This week was full of really high ups and extremely low downs. But I learned a lot. For instance, I don’t want people to wear black to my funeral, and I would rather everyone laugh and smile about past memories of me than mourn the fact that there will be no future ones.

RIP DPS JR.

My Sensible New Year’s Resolutions

I used to work in food service and preparation. It’s unbelievable how many salads I made/sold/served at the beginning of the year. Tons. And within three weeks– none. At all. That’s because people make unrealistic resolutions. I’m guilty of doing that.

This year I wanted to make fun resolutions that are really specific. I think that’s the key to making and successfully keeping a resolution– be specific! (The only resolution I’ve ever kept is completely cutting soda out of my diet in order to lose weight. It worked.) So here are my resolutions for 2013:

1. Learn how to make the perfect macarons (naturally gluten free!)
2. Learn how to make the perfect creme brulee (also naturally gluten free!)
3. Decorate and personalize our beautiful apartment
4. Blog at least once a week
5. Use my cameras more

Below is my first batch of less-than-perfect macarons with a gingerbread shell and orange dark chocolate ganache filling.

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Happy resolution making!