Adorable Summer One Piece Swimsuits!

blog post 7-7-20 - Cute one piece swimsuits

Row 1: black and white gingham | green scalloped | black and ivory

Row 2: blue and white flutter | blue tie | red, white, and blue stripes

Summer is upon us, and it is officially swimsuit season. Here in New England, after an unusually cold Spring, it is finally warm enough to go swimming.

I like one piece swimsuits for a couple of reasons:

  1. They can be more generous in fitting different body types. As a busty person, one pieces in my experience have been far more accommodating than bikinis.
  2. They protect more of your body from the sun.
  3. They’re more comfortable.
  4. I don’t have to worry about how my stomach and back look because one pieces have got you covered!

One pieces are great, and frankly under appreciated!

Just keep swimming!

Sincerely,

Marie

 

 

My Affordable Skincare Routine for Clear Skin

 

How I Got Clear Skin_ My Skincare Routine (1)I used to be really bad at keeping up with my skincare routine. Simplifying my skincare routine made it so much so much less tiresome than it used to be! Let’s be real, I’m a bit lazy and if it’s too troublesome, I won’t do it.

Also, all of the products I use can be found at your local drugstore. I don’t use anything that costs more than $15. The most expensive part of my skincare is the retinol cream which is $75 without insurance, but with my plan it’s only about $5. You can also find other nonprescription retinol creams. Here is a link to a list of some of the best ones: from Allure, from Good Housekeeping.

This is a super simple regimen that I really like and has worked for me.

blog post 7-4-2020 skincare routine

Morning Routine

Step One

Rinse my face with warm water. I use my hands to work the cleaner into a nice lather.Then I wash my face with the CeraVe Forming Facial Cleaner ($15 for 16oz!). Occasionally, I use these silicone face scrubbers when my face feels extra gunky. You definitely shouldn’t use these everyday. This is a really nice cleanser that’s gentle.

Step Two

I use my toner, Dickinson’s Witch Hazel with Rose Water ($6 for 16oz!). This is such a classic and for good reason – it works well and is cheap! My mom has been using this stuff since she was my age!

Step Three

My last step is a moisturizer-sunscreen combination. You should look for a facial sunscreen with at least 30 SPF to actually protect your skin from the sun. Pro tip: look for products listed as Noncomedogenic. This means the product generally won’t clog your pores and most of the time are oil free. I am using the Garnier SkinActive 30 SPF moisturizer ($13). It has Vitamin C which lightens dark spots and clears acne scars. It came highly recommended on Good Housekeeping. Did you know you have to throw sunscreen every 3 years because it expires? I legit just found this out yesterday.

Night Routine No. 1

This is my night routine if I’m using my retinol cream which is most nights.

Step One

If I’m wearing makeup, before cleansing, I use Pond’s Cold Cream ($5) as a makeup remover then wipe it off with a warm washcloth (I use the directions on the back of the bottle). I use the same cleanser the exact same way. If you have sensitive skin, it’s better to use the same cleanser in the morning and night because that way you are introducing less chemicals to your skin.

Step Two

Right after cleansing, I apply retinol cream (for acne). This was prescribed by my doctor. It can strip your skin, so you have to be diligent about applying sunscreen and moisturizer. You should also limit your use of salicylic acid, a common ingredient in acne prevention products. The combination of salicylic acid and retinol will in most likelihoods dry your skin alll the way out. 

Step Three

About 20 to 30 minutes after applying the retinol cream, I use the CeraVe night moisturizer ($12). It is so nice and lightweight. It’s like a cloud kissing your skin! I can’t say enough good stuff about it! I LOVE it!

Step Four

Lastly, I put something on my lips. I use either Vaseline Lip Therapy ($4), Petroleum Jelly ($3), or the Neutrogena Lip Balm ($11). Sweet, simple, and effective.

Night Routine No. 2

This my routine if I’m not using my retinol cream.

Step One

Cleanse with CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser.

Step Two

Exfoliate with CVS Forming Grapefruit Scrub ($7). This product contain salalyic acid which is great for acne prevention, but using the combination of salalyic acid and retinol cream every day would be far too stripping and harsh. I only use this scrub one or twice a week. Additionally, this CVS scrub has plastic microbeads in it which are terrible for the environment and far too harsh to use on your face every day. I didn’t want to waste this product, so I use it infrequently. I know I just said a lot about how bad this product is, but it’s actually smells so nice and feels good when using it, so that’s why I haven’t completely eliminated it from my routine.

Step Three

Tone with Witch Hazel.

Step Four 

Depending on how I’m feeling I’ll either use Pond’s Dry Skin Cream ($5) or CeraVe Night Moisturizer. I tend to use the Pond’s Dry Skin Cream most often in the winter when my skin is hella dry.

Step Five

Apply lip balm.

Total Cost for entire routine: $86 (but that’s including 3 different lip balms which is totally unnecessary). $68 minus the lip balms.

That’s it folks! My skincare routine is super simple. It only take me about 3-5 minutes. It’s quick, affordable, and does the job well. I highly recommend these products to anyone and everyone.

Sincerely,

Marie

 

Book Review: The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

Amazon.com: The Pomodoro Technique: The Acclaimed Time-Management System  That Has Transformed How We Work eBook: Cirillo, Francesco: Kindle Store

The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Francesco Cirillo reminds me of a really strict teacher. He has a very particular, inflexible way of doing things and expects everyone to follow. In essence, my way or the highway.

I never really liked teachers like that, so I wasn’t crazy about this book. But, I do like the Pomodoro Technique as a method for time management. FYI: One Pomodoro is equal to 25 minutes of work and a 2-3 minute break afterwards.

I didn’t like that Cirillo had so many strict rules. For example,

A Pomodoro is indivisible. If a Pomodoro is interrupted by someone or something, that Pomodoro should be considered void, as if it had never been set; then you should make a fresh start with a new Pomodoro.

If I desperately need to get a drink of water or use the bathroom quickly, I think I should be able to do so quickly then resume my Pomodoro when I get back to my desk. On the other hand, I also recognize that a Pomodoro is supposed to be deep work with deep focus, and if you interrupt said focus – then the whole thing is moot. However, Cirillo dictates that you should make note of how many Pomodoros it takes to complete a task, but if you’re constantly voiding Pomodoros then that direction doesn’t really work anymore.

With all that being said, I do think some of the rules in the book are useful. For example, the “If it takes more than five to seven Pomodoros, break it down” rule is quite helpful. An application of this is writing an essay for example. Chances are writing a proper 5 page essay will take you longer than 2 hours. For me, it tends to take a cumulative 4 hours. This definitely exceeds the 5-7 Pomodoros. Cirillo would advise you to break writing an essay into subtasks

      1. find sources
      2. make notecards
      3. make an outline
      4. write body paragraphs
      5. write introduction and conclusion

Another tip I liked was about dealing with distractions. Cirillo suggested that when a thought pops into your mind or someone asks you to do something in the middle of your Pomodoro, you should write down that task if it isn’t urgent and decide when your Pomodoro is complete how and when you’ll approach that task. If the task is urgent, then deal with it immediately.

Overall, I feel like the advice given in this book is pretty rudimentary. It’s just feels like common sense. Here’s what you need to know:

  • A Pomodoro is a 25 minute time block followed by a 2-5 minute break.

  • After 4 Pomodoros, you take an extended break for 10-25 minutes.

  • 4 Pomodoros is called a cycle.

Pomodoro Technique - Tumblr
I think this sums up the system pretty well. 

Lastly, the book tackles how to use Pomodoro Technique in a workplace environment. This is the part of the book I felt the most skeptical about. First, some background: I don’t think of the Pomodoro Technique everyone needs to use. I think it’s the most helpful for people who procrastinate or need to find a way to think about and manage their time. Pomodoros are great for that. If you don’t fall into one of those broad categories, then I think the Pomodoro Technique won’t really make your life materially much better. In groups, I think it’s impossible and unnecessary to implement the Pomodoro system. In the book, Cirillo suggests in groups of 2, people in that group should work on the exact same Pomodoro – starting and ending at the same time. If you’re ever had the unique displeasure of working on a group project, you can recognize just how terrible this idea is.

The Final Verdict

Please don’t waste your money on this book it is truly not worth it. Everything said that is worthwhile in this book is summarized here. If you must read this book, rent it from your library. It certainly isn’t worth the $18 Barnes and Noble is charging for it.

Good luck managing your time! (Lord knows I need it.)

Sincerely,
Marie

In Shower Self Care

The world has been on a self-care craze lately.  Bath bombs, rose water, and masks are like the new silly bandz. Rightfully so, the world is super stressful nowadays which is only compounded by the constant connection we all have with one another through the internet. Theoretically, I was all for self-care. Online, I praised my friends for making time for the self and treating themselves. However, I didn’t do the same: I ate plenty (and still do) junk food, slacked off my skincare, and generally did not make myself a priority. I used to think girls spending time on themselves is a waste and that their time could be spent better by doing literally anything else. Now, I’m still not one for makeup, but a little material self-care is definitely something I’m trying to do more.

A couple of nights ago, my mom and I got into an argument. Instead of it dissolving into a screaming match as it so often does, I excused myself and took a shower. Standing in the shower, I realized I should use this time to pamper myself. Here’s a quick list of the products I used plus some products I wish I owned. 

self cae

rose water | face mask| body brush | shampoo & conditioner | face scrub | exfoliation set  | body wash 


Exfoliation Set (similar)

 This includes a pumice, exfoliation gloves, and facial sponges. (Mine has a pumice, a exfoliation glove, and a body brush).

Facial Scrub: St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Scrub

This scrub just feels really nice. I’m a big fan. Also, it’s smell is clean and relaxing without being overpowering.

Rose Water: PearlEssence Rose Water (with Witch Hazel)

I love this stuff! I use it basically every day. Toner is such a great thing to hand on-hand. It’s just refreshing, and makes your face feel clean. 

Body Wash: Dove Deep Moisture Body Wash

This is a great body wash. I also really like the bar soap version (what I currently use). Bar soap is also far better for the environment than the plastic bottles that traditional body wash comes in. 

Shampoo & Conditioner: Pantene Pro-V

I don’t really think this shampoo and conditioner is really anything special. However, it gets the job done and well. It’s not too harsh and smells good. I wouldn’t call it super moisturizing, but it definitely doesn’t feel like it’s stripping my hair of its oils. 


I took out a small set of bathing supplies I had bought at TJ Maxx for $3. I exfoliated my skin, did a face scrub, and washed my hair – all in the shower! After my self-care shower, I felt so much better and was able to resolve the conflict with my mom right after. Now, I barely remember what we were arguing about in the first place!

Seriously, self-care is so important. Caring for yourself is the first step to caring for other people. I encourage you, to take an extra ten minutes to do a face scrub or exfoliate in the shower. It’s so nice to feel fresh and new after a long day.

Take a shower! You’ll feel better afterwards!

Sincerely,

Marie

Preparing for Summer: What I’m Buying

Summer is upon us! Can I get an amen?!? After surviving this brutally cold New England winter with a saddening lack of snow, we are finally on the other side!

As with any cause for celebration, I decided to celebrate via a little online shopping. Not really, I just had worn out or lost my usual summer essentials. Nonetheless, I went shopping! Kind of.

Untitled design

shorts | curl cream | dress | sandals | pearlsfoot mask | shirt | sneakers | socks

Demin shorts

A couple of week ago, I was OBSESSED with the Agolde Parker Vintage Cutoff Shorts. Amanda John from Strawberry Chic and so many other bloggers were RAVING about these shorts! The only catch is that they $132! I was so torn, but ultimately I couldn’t justify spending that much on shorts when I don’t even spend that much on a full pair of jeans! But I love these target shorts that I got, and they’re only $18. (So of course, I bought 2!) They’re comfortable, feel like real denim, and have the slightest bit of give. They are totally comparable to my Levi’s 501 jean shorts that I also love.

Curl Cream

This is my holy grail hair product. I use this straight out of the shower as a defining curl cream. I love this cream so much! I cannot say enough good things about it! I wouldn’t, however, use this cream as your primary moisturizer, but it’s great as a curl definer/styler.

Dress

I asked for this dress from Christmas and got it! Thanks Nana if you’re reading this! This dress is so cute, light, and airy. I think this dress is just adorable. It isn’t lined, so make sure you wear neutral colored underwear underneath!

Sandals

My Birkenstocks!!! I actually bought these at the end of last summer, but these shoes are the backbone of my summer wardrobe. I LIVE in these shoes. In fact, as I’m writing this blog post, I’m wearing my Birkenstocks. I’ve also had the Arizona (the classic two strap, Jesus sandal) birks before, and I loved those too. I feel like this style is more flattering, but I love and highly recommend both!

Pearls

I wear these every day. All the seasons. If fact, I’m known on my local speech and debate circuit for my pearls.

Foot mask

I haven’t actually tried these yet, but I’m excited! I’ve been wearing my birks so much that my feet are drying out. (Gross. I know!) I’m hoping these masks will help remedy the problem.

Sneakers

Again, this was a gift I received for Christmas, but I LOVE these shoes. They’re the perfect outing shoe. When I was still in school, I wore these nearly every day! They’re comfortable, well-made, and stylish! And they’re $35! You really can’t get a better shoe for even double the price.

Socks

I bought these socks to go with the sneakers mentioned above. Nothing ruins an outfit like wearing ugly socks with cute sneakers. I prefer to keep my socks out of sight. These are perfectly satisfactory socks. The best part about them is their price. At Old Navy, for example, they’ll charge you $8 for 3 pairs of socks. These socks cost $16 for 12 pairs of socks! I have found that these socks are just as good quality as the ones from Old Navy. Definitely check these out!

Wishing you a summer filled with sunshine and smiles!

Sincerely,

Marie

Quarantine Essentials: Clothing Edition

Since I don’t have go to school, I’ve been wearing a lot of the same things. Also, I’ve been spending a lot of time at my desk, so comfort is pretty important for me. Let’s be real: comfort is always really important to me. I thought I’d share with you all what I’ve been reaching for most often. 

 

Blog Post 4-11-20 Quarantine essentials clothing edition

fleece | shorts | jeans | leggings | shirt | hair ties | socks

Columbia Fleece Jacket

I’ve had this fleece for years maybe for 4 years. Honestly, I’ve had it for so long, so it just an integral piece of my wardrobe. I generally prefer pullover hoodies. But when I’m sitting at my desk, it’s such a pain to pull my sweatshirt over my head – so thank you zippers!

Nike Tempo Running Shorts

I got my first pair of these in 2016 just in time for summer. Since then, I have worn these shorts year-around. I wear them in the winter when I go to sleep, when I work out, when I lounge around the house, all the time everywhere! Everyone should own a pair of these shorts!

Here’s a photo of me wearing these shorts!

Lucky Brand Jeans

So… what had happened was – I bought these jeans from Marshalls this fall when I supposed to be shopping for pants to wear to the State Democratic Convention. Don’t worry: I didn’t wear jeans to the state convention. Anyway, I think these are the same jeans I have. Also, these jeans are currently on sale for $29!

7/8 Leggings

Fun fact: I bought these and then lost the package. And then I found it like 6 months later. But when I found them, I really liked them! Right now, Amazon is engaging in some price gauging – the leggings are about $3 more than what I bought them for.

Sonoma V-Neck T-Shirt

I have this shirt in two colors, and I love it! I’ve worn it straight for an undisclosed, embarrassingly long period of time. Overall, I just really like this shirt!

Socks

I love socks! I hate having crusty feet, (Gross! I know!) and I found that wearing socks helps prevent that. Socks for the win! Note: I don’t actually have these socks, but they look pretty similar to the ones I got from Costco last fall. Also, they have about 550 5-star reviews, so I think they’re probably fine.

Happy Lounging!

Sincerely,

Marie

Quarantine Essentials: Snack Edition

Spending loads more time at home, has some benefits: more time exercise, spending extended periods of time with your family (it’s debatable to whether that’s a benefit or not), and much more time to spend snacking.

I have embraced this additional snacking time. Here’s what I’ve been snacking on!

Blog Post 4-11-20 Quarantine essentials home edition terra chips | unsalted almonds | strawberry jam | parm crisps | goldfish

Terra Chips

My friend, Alexa, introduced me to Terra Chips this year in our biology class. We often had bio right before lunch, so it was basically snack time. One time she shared her Terra Chips with me, and I’ve loved them ever since. Controversial opinion: I think the parsnip and sweet potato chips are better than the blue ones.

Almonds

Almonds are such a good study snack. They are great for long lasting energy and are a source of protein and healthy fat. I like to pour a small bowl of goldfish and almonds when studying.

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves

I love this stuff! I will never buy any other strawberry jam for as long as I will. One of my favorite snacks is toast with butter and strawberry jam. Also, one of my go-to meals is a PB+J, so this is an essential in my household. My dad exclusively eats this jam.

Honeycrisp Apples

Unfortunately, these are out of season, but when I get some, I eat so many of these. They are great by themselves or with peanut butter.

Parm Crisps

I actually discovered this in April when they showed up in my family’s Instacart order. These are fantastic! I tend to eat them straight out the bag, but you could also use them to top salads and soups.  The only ingredient in this chips is parmesan which goes to use that this isn’t a highly processed snack (like goldfish), so this is really the best you can get from chips.

Dark Cherries

Dark cherries and a lack of school are the two single best things about summer. I used to live in Seattle, and although the cherries shipped to New England can’t possibly compare to those of Washington, the ones here are pretty good too.

Raspberries

These were my childhood favorite snacks, and they are still my favorite. I love raspberries so much! Sometimes when I’m feel particularly indulgent (which is basically all the time) I add a dollop of Nutella on top of my raspberries.

Happy Snacking!

Sincerely,

Marie

Book Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadatte by Maria Semple

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 stars/5 stars)

I LOVED THIS BOOK! The book is mostly a collection of letters plus some narration of the days leading up to and after Bernadette Fox disappears. The parts of the book that are Bernadette’s letters are straight up, laugh-out-loud, downright HILARIOUS. These were some of my favorite parts of the book

Sometimes these cars have Idaho plates. And I think, What the hell is a car from Idaho doing here? Then I remember, That’s right, we neighbor Idaho. I’ve moved to a state that neighbors Idaho. And any life that might still be left in me kind of goes poof.

My daughter did an art project called a “step book,” which started with the universe, then opened up to the solar system, then the Earth, then the United States, then Washington State, then Seattle—and I honestly thought, What does Washington State have to do with her? And I remember, that’s right, we live here. Poof.

It’s funny because Bernadette hates living in Seattle, but I actually lived in Seattle and loved it! But then again, I was like 3, so… Anyways, her rants are just the best. I really loved her comments on seasickness.

Do you get seasick? People who don’t get seasick have no idea what it’s like. It’s not just nausea. It’s nausea plus losing the will to live.

This bit is so accurate! I get terrible motion sickness. Once I took a cruise from the Boston Harbor (which smells DISGUSTING in case you were wondering) to Bermuda. The first 2-3 days on the cruise, we travelled from Boston to Bermuda against the current. Those might have been the worst 3 days of my life! I was so sick and practically bedridden!  There wasn’t enough Dramamine in the world to help me.  I mean, totally not a real problem, but it felt pretty dire to me.

Seriously, though, this novel is an absolutely delightful read! There were some really interesting twists and turns: some of which I anticipated and some that I did not (which makes all the more fun!)

This book also jumps back in time to show more about how Bernadette Fox came to be where she is currently, and I have to say – she’s got a damn good backstory.

Also, I found out that Where’d You Go, Bernadette was turned into a movie! Here’s the link to the trailer! I’ll definitely watch the movie next!

Sincerely,

Marie

Book Review: The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

The Female Persuasion

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Rating: ★★★★☆

I really enjoyed this book! It was a fun read – I just genuinely enjoyed this book. I’d recommend it. It didn’t blow by socks off like Circe by Madeline Miller, and I don’t think it’ll stick with me as much as Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld has.

A couple of things I really enjoyed about this book:

  1. It features a number of different narrators. The book revolves around the protagonist, Greer, who idolizes the second wave feminist (think Gloria Steinem), Faith Frank. I’m not a supperr huge fan of switching narrators especially when I feel it gets in the way of the plot progressing, but Wolitzer is masterful in (mostly) further through narration changes rather than in spite of narration changes.
  2. The story jumps around in time. I love to see how certain situations unfold in the book with the additional knowledge of how the past has shaped the events of the present. For example, it is revealed that one of Faith’s dear friends had an illegal abortion that nearly killed her. This near death experience of her best friend serves as the impetus for Faith’s transformation into the feminist firebrand she is presented as in the book.
  3. There is some serious characterization happening! For Faith especially, her story often jumps back in time to present her as a more whole and well rounded character. Wolitzer’s characterization of Faith is just phenomenal. It reminds me a lot of the characterization of Marilyn in Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You in that both authors rely heavily on flashbacks to the past to develop the characters.
  4. An imperfect protagonist. Greer at times is deeply unlikeable, but her insights are interesting and her flaws show her humanity. Although she often got on my nerves, I still felt myself rooting for her to succeed.
  5. Third person narration – when describing the setting, the author often used third person narration. This was one of my favorite parts of the book. Here are some gems:

Faith, who approved of Greer. The approval was as soft as velvet, and the desire for that approval was, also like velvet, a little vulgar.

Having power meant that the world was like a pasture with the gate left open, and that there was nothing stopping you, and you could run and run.

The audience was well-dressed; it was a sea of soft pastel and the occasional basic black, because even though this was California, New York roots ran deep.

Everyone here knew that shriek, which signaled the happiness of women spending time together.

Her résumé was peppered with acronyms, the names of NGOs with which she’d consulted. All those capital letters, when looked at on one sheet of paper, had the effect of a firewall, or a code that could only be broken by someone much smarter than you.

Final Impressions

This book didn’t feel like pure fluff like summer beach reads such as those by Madeline Wickham/Sophie Kinsela. This book falls neatly into the middle: a book that feels “literary” in that it has something to say but also is approachable. I liked that. Ultimately, I’d recommend this book to a friend – that’s all that really matters.

Sincerely,

Marie