What You Need to Know to CRUSH the SAT

What You Need To Know To Crush The SAT.png

Hello! This is the first in a series of posts about making the SAT your b*tch! This point is about

  1. general test prep tips
  2. tips for test day
  3. helpful online resources
  4. best test prep book

ONE // General Test Prep Tips

  • Take practice tests routinely and often. The more exposure you get to the test, the better. If you can’t dedicate 4 consecutive hours of your day to taking a practice exam, try taking just the math sections one day and the English sections another day.
  • Make a master list of all the questions you’ve gotten wrong so that you can review them later and identify weak spots.

TWO // Tips for Test Day

  • When testing, make sure you bring at least a 32 oz water bottle and high quality snacks.
  • Pack your bag the night before. Make sure you include: your test ID, student (school) ID, at least 5 sharpened pencils, pencil sharpener, and eraser.
  • Make sure your calculator is on the College Board (yuck!) list of approved calculators.
  • Make sure you have your printed admissions ticket and valid school ID (it must be from the current school year or the year before if you’re taking the test before December of the new school year).
  • Pick out your clothes the night before. I like to wear comfortable but still nice clothes. what i swore to the SAT.png

sweatshirt | sneakers | pearls | shirt | glasses | socks | jeans

This is literally what I wore to take the SAT. Nothing special. I wore that were clothes that I had owned for YEARS. I have to say, I love the jeans I wore – they are real jeans, but they have a super comfy elastic waistband. I LOVE THEM. You’ll thank me later. Also, this shirt I got from GAP is the comfiest shirt I own. It’s the perfect combination of thick but not heavy and still maintaining a nice stretch. This shirt is literally perfect – you should buy it in every color!

THREE // Helpful Websites for SAT Prep

Erik the Read

I highly recommend this website. Super informative and helpful! I really can’t say enough good things about him. He teaches a lot of strategies that you’d typically only learn from expensive test prep companies. Also, there are plenty of worksheets on his website that you can access for free!

Khan Academy

Everyone knows and loves Khan Academy. For SAT Prep, Khan Academy is great for two kinds of people. One, people who need a lot of help to learn the actual content on that is assessed on the SAT. Two, people who already learned the content in school and just need to be able to do it faster and with greater accuracy. If you fall out of these two categories, Khan Academy isn’t going to cover the bulk of your needs. Also, Khan Academy doesn’t teach test strategies.

Prep Scholars

This is a really cool website that is all about how to succeed on standardized tests in high school, college, and grad school. Honestly, I didn’t use their website too much to study for the SAT, but I found it really helpful for the AP Chem exam. They do put together really useful study timelines and study guides that I think are pretty helpful.

FOUR // The Best Test Prep Books

Princeton Review Premium Prep

If I could recommend only one book to buy, it would be this one. I’d recommend buying this book because I didn’t need new test taking strategies since I had a private tutor and attended an SAT prep course. However, I still think the test taking strategies are super helpful and worth it! Also, it comes with 8 full-length practice tests. This book also reviews the format and mechanics of the test. You can access the official SAT practice tests on Khan Academy anyway.

Official College Board SAT Practice Test Book

This is just a really big book with 8 full-length SAT exams in it. You can access these EXACT same exams on Khan Academy too, so keep that in mind too. This book does walk you through each section of the test and its format. It also gives practice questions for each section of the test.

Princeton Review Extra Practice Tests 

This book has 10 full length practice tests. I really appreciate that each problem comes with a detailed explanation. I don’t think this one includes the test taking strategies like the other Princeton Review book mentioned above.

Good luck!

Sincerely,

Marie

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The Skincare Tip that Changed the Game

The skincare tip that Changed the game

I’m new to this whole skincare game. I learned a lot of new things for example:

  1. You can’t use salicylic acid and retinol together.
  2. You shouldn’t use cleansers with microbeads

Anyway, this has been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve been reading a lot to learn more. One tip totally changed the way I thought about washing my face.

You can wash your face twice in a row!

OK, hear me out. I have combination, acne prone skin. Gross, I know! I have super oily spots – hello T-zone! and super dry spots – around my chin and lips. It’s an interesting combination.

When I finished washing my face, I felt like my face wasn’t clean enough. I felt like my face was still oily and gunky. I felt inclined to use a harsher cleanser – something with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. But after doing some internet digging, I learned you can totally wash your face twice with a gentle cleanser like the one I use.

If after cleansing my face for the first time, I still feel dirty – then I just wash my face again. This was such a game changer for me, but I realized I didn’t need all of these fancy face brush for washing my face or harsh cleansers. I just needed to wash my face once more than usual.

After washing my face (once or twice – never more than that), I apply toner and moisturizer. Make sure you don’t end up cleaning your skin for longer than 45 seconds to 1:30 minutes.

This is so much better for my sensitive skin because I’m using far less harsh chemical and not introducing any new chemicals.

I’ll be sure to keep you all updated as I struggle through developing my skincare routine.

Sincerely,

Marie

 

Currently Coveting No. 3

blog post 7.11.2020 currently coveting no.3

shirt | sandals | watch | hair clips | earrings | necklace | skirt

In this edition of currently coveting, I have selected a cute and classic summer outfit. I love a classic silhouette. As a busty person, I am always trying to avoid looking like a refrigerator, so I try to stick with v-neck tops or belted bottoms/dresses to give the illusion of having a defined waist (something I don’t have).

Banana Republic Cropped Tank

I think this shirt is super cute. I like the ruffle detailing on the straps. I also appreciate that the shirt is cropped because it’s so much better than constantly tucking in full-length shirts. Also, in the summer, I tend to wear high-waisted skirts and shorts.

J. Crew Strappy Sandals

I love strappy sandals. I wear them all the time. They’re the perfect companion for any summer dress or skirt. They’re super practical.

Daniel Wellington Watch

I wear a watch every day. I think it may be a control thing, but I just love being able to tell the time without taking out my phone. When I forget to wear my watch, I realize just how often I check the time. (Spoiler – it’s a lot). Honestly, I’ve never tried a Daniel Wellington watch, but I’ve heard good things. I think you can also change the watchband which I appreciate. Another comparable brand is Skagen watches.

Pearl Hair clips

I don’t own these hair clips, but I think they are just so cute. I’m a big fan. Other people must be too – they have over 1,000 positive reviews on Amazon.

Love Knot Earrings

I wear my pearl earrings borderline religiously. I think these would be a nice alternative that is still classic and chic. Plus they’re on sale for $87!

Pearl Necklace

I am a fan of pearls, and I think this is a fun and youthful take on a classic. It’s also on sale $140 down from $400! That’s a steal!

Eyelet Skirt

This skirt is so fun and flirty! I love that it has a ruffle which is such a fun way to add some personality to an article of clothing.

Sincerely,

Marie

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

Current Coveting No. 2

blog post 6.27.2020 currently coveting no.2

shirt | sandals | headband | earrings | shorts | bracelets | belt | nail polish

Shirt

First, let’s talk about this shirt! It’s $16! And I found it on Amazon, of all places! While, I”m not thrilled by the prospect of giving Jeff Bezos more money, it’s hard to beat the convenience of Amazon.

I love Kate from Lonestar Southern! She’s always raving about Mi Golondrina, but let’s be real – most of us don’t have Mi Golondrina money. This way you can achieve the look for *substantially* less.

Bracelets

This is a Victoria Emerson bracelet. These “bracelets” are actually one big bracelet. I love to stack bracelets. I though this was a fun way to do that! Also, chunky bracelets are a great way to get out of picking out other accessories. For me, the less decisions, the better.

Hoops

I actually saw Dorothy from Prep in Your Step wear these earrings! I think they are such a simple and classic taste on hoop earrings. Most of the time, I’m not super big on big earrings, but I think I would try these!

Nail Polish

I actually had this nail polish during February Break when I was touring colleges. I got my nails done at this nail shop next door to my hotel. This color, titled “Getting Nadi on My Honeymoon” (I’m NOT even making this up). Anyways, it’s a great alternative to my favorite nail polish color Essie’s “muchi muchi”.

Urgh! I miss going to the nail salon so much. I rarely go because it’s so expensive, but gosh I miss it so much! I think I’m going to dedicate this summer to learning how to paint my nails. For me, my non-dominant hand looks fine…  but my dominant hand looks like it attend the school of hard knocks.

Anyways, what are y’all doing this summer? Any big plans?

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