Social Media

Finding Joy in Tumblr

Social media can be vicious and a lot to wade through. Between political posts on Facebook, animal face filters on Snapchat, and arguments with strangers on Twitter, it’s hard to find a break. Personally, my social media refuge is Tumblr.

I (re)started over on Tumblr over a year ago, with a fresh blog that I swore would only contain images and quotes that truly made me happy or inspired, or that sparked something in me. I highly recommend setting similar “boundaries” for your own blog. Not necessarily hard and fast rules, but at least a theme. (And if you find yourself with a multitude of themes you want to dive into, there’s always the option to add blogs to your main account,)

What makes Tumblr a haven for me? First of all, it’s easy to choose blogs to follow (and unfollow as needed) without the drama of “how many followers do I have.” Yes, there are certain sects of the site that are heavy on this topic, but you don’t have to be. Even I follow some of these people, but it’s easy to scroll past their networking posts.

The second reason I love Tumblr is because of the lack of hate. I am by no means saying it doesn’t exist, but if you choose the right blogs, you can avoid negativity. I’d say that 98% of the text/asks posts I see on Tumblr are positive, generally quotes or notes of encouragement. So far, the only hate I’ve seen are on fitness blogs, but the bloggers themselves are great at staying positive and letting insults roll off their back.

Third, it’s incredibly relaxing to scroll through and find images to reblog. I love being on the couch with my tablet or laptop, looking at pictures, videos, and text posts. It can be thought-provoking, or it can be inspiring, or happiness inducing. Again, you have the ability to choose what you want to see on your dashboard. While this is true for all social media, it feels especially true on Tumblr. (Ex. on Twitter, I follow people whose tweets I enjoy, but sometimes certain topics they’re passionate about just make me mad. On Tumblr, people tend to blog in themes, making it less likely I’ll stumble into rage.)

Finally, my all time favorite part of Tumblr is the visual representation of the self you create. It’s like constantly adding art to a museum of images you love, and then letting the world visit that museum. As the curator, the visitors get a glimpse of what inspires you, what speaks to you, but even then, it’s just a layer. You know why that picture of the girl lying in bed called your name; your anonymous museum visitors can’t get to that layer of you.

Ultimately, that’s the beauty of Tumblr for me–the creativity and personal discovery that becomes possible. It can be so much more than a roll of pictures and quotes, videos and gifs.

Recently, I opened up my older Tumblr (from a few years ago) in archive mode, and just started scrolling. The aesthetic wasn’t entirely different, but there were distinct changes in what I reblogged and even the frequency. The dominant color was pink, whereas the dominant color in my current Tumblr is probably closest to white/cream. It was fascinating to see which pictures I had chosen to add to my Tumblr, what represented how I was feeling or what I wanted in life. It was only three years ago, but it felt like I was looking at the blog of a person I no longer knew. I’ve grown since then, and my tastes have changed. Yet those archive posts are like a snapshot of that young woman, and I can go back and rediscover her at any time.

Like any platform, Tumblr has its pros and cons. With the right tweaks, however, it can be a creative sanctuary and a comforting place to paint a picture of yourself.

Gaming

Sims 4: A Writing Tool

Writing has been a passion of mine for many years. In those years, I’ve discovered ways of finding inspiration for stories and characters, even when writer’s block is very much present. Right now, one of the easiest ways for me to dig up story ideas is to play Sims 4.

First of all, in any given household, you can have up to 8 characters. I’m generally concerned with the interactions of only 2-3 characters at a time, so household management isn’t an issue. (I will admit to having one Sim in the household who is wholly responsible for cooking, cleaning, repairing, and gardening–it makes things so much easier.)

Second, Sims have so many customizations, from their appearances to personality. I tend to have an imagined appearance in my head, and that doesn’t always easily transfer to the Create-a-Sim environment, but it’s good enough. Sometimes, it even prompts a change or new attribute in the character that hadn’t occurred to me previously.

Third, there are so many places to have characters interact. If they live in the same house, there can be conversations over meals, working out together, or hanging out in the hot tub. If they go to a karaoke bar, they can flirt over drinks, or show off their singing skills. Even the bubble blower has inspired me to have characters interact at a hookah bar parking lot. It’s not a 1-to-1 translation, but sometimes these unique details in the game can spark an idea.

At times, I will purposely create new characters that have already been established in my mind or my writing. From there, I add new elements that I’m mulling over, or simply watch things play out naturally. Other times, I’ll play any family and let those events feed into inspiration for a story I haven’t brought to the game. It’s flexible, and it all depends on what I’m focusing on.

Some other Sims 4 players have gone so far as to take screenshots and create stories around them–an idea I love. I don’t take part in this type of storytelling, but it shows that I am definitely not the only one finding stories in the simulation.

You may be wondering–if the Sims can’t actually speak English, how do I create dialogue? Full honesty: dialogue is easiest for me to write. The game itself does help, though, with the thought bubbles above the Sims, as well as the conversation options. If it’s two bro-type characters, I’m going to bring up sports and fitness techniques. If it’s two characters I want to be together, there’s probably flirting and exchanging numbers. With those general ideas available, I can create the spoken (or unspoken) words between the characters.

Another helpful aspect is watching well-established characters go about their lives. A few times now I’ve assumed my written scene was perfect, but once I witnessed an interaction or scene in Sims, I felt the need to change things. Sometimes the game gives you huge ideas, and sometimes it helps you make tiny tweaks.

Sims 4 can be an overflowing source of inspiration for all writers. Start with the basics, your characters and the overarching story, and create from there. Whether you use it for writing, editing, brainstorming, or just wreaking havoc on characters you don’t like, use it as a tool and watch the words you write come alive.

Skincare

REVIEW: The Makeup Eraser

makeupreaser

Last year, I received a mini version of the Makeup Eraser in my Ipsy bag. It was a small pink oval, with slightly different fabrics on each side, and I couldn’t fathom why this was included in my beauty bag. How could a cloth make a difference in taking off my makeup? I’m already buying micellar water, face washes, cotton pads, and the whole gamut of options. So I ignored it, put it with the rest of the samples, and moved on.

Flash forward to a month ago when I received a full-size Makeup Eraser as a gift. At this point, I had to at least try it. So after a long day of work, errands, and appointments, I ran the Eraser under warm water and began gently rubbing my face.

Guess what?

The makeup . . . came right off.

I couldn’t believe it. Even my eye makeup came off without a hitch! All the mascara, all the eyeliner, all the eyeshadow, every last bit of concealer and foundation–it all disappeared with the Makeup Eraser.

I flipped to the other side of the cloth (tag side) and began to rub gently in small circular motions. To my utter shock, my skin was perfectly exfoliated afterwards.

I know it seems unbelievable. A cloth and warm water being able to clear your face of makeup and improve your skin? Nah, doesn’t seem right. Yet every time I use my Makeup Eraser, it’s a confirmation that it works amazingly. It genuinely helps with my acne because it cleanses so well and the exfoliating side is soft but effective.

On top of all that, it’s reusable, and all you have to do is wash it. I generally wash my towels and my Makeup Eraser together once a week, and due to the overall size of the Eraser, I get 3 uses out of the cloth. I tend to use the “ends” of the Eraser first, and then the middle. Once I’ve used it 3 times, I just have to toss it in the wash and bam, I’m ready to take off my makeup again!

I no longer buy cleansing cloths, or any fancy water or face washes to take off my makeup. In fact, I’ve been switching off using my Eraser and using other products just so I can use up everything! Once it’s all gone, I’ll be happily using my Makeup Eraser.

One caution: don’t just buy any “makeup eraser.” I’ve read reviews on how similar knockoffs don’t work nearly as well and people have been disappointed by the entire idea. I don’t want anyone to have a bad experience with a fake! I highly recommend paying $20 for the real deal on Amazon or Sephora–I promise it’s worth it. In fact, I plan on buying additional Erasers to have on hand and for travel. $20 for a cloth seems outrageous until you try it.

I sincerely wish I had tried the mini Makeup Eraser sooner. This cloth is a game changer and a life saver! It makes a great gift for yourself (yes, YOU!) or friends who wear makeup, whether it’s a full face or just the basics. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

Gaming

Legion Flying: Now What?

Yesterday, I finally nabbed the “Broken Isles Pathfinder: Part 2” achievement in World of Warcraft. This was no easy feat, as this has been my primary gameplay goal for literally weeks. After struggling in Suramar for longer than I’m willing to admit, I was thrilled to finally have true mobility in the Broken Isles. No more strategically traveling to flight points based solely on what’s nearby! Freedom to take on any quest! Easily farming Legionfall Supplies!

That said, now that I have flying, I need to make sure to have a focus for every play session. I’m still thoroughly enjoying the higher-level content (minus the Thwarting the Twins challenge), but I also have professions I’d like to expand and, as always, gold to make.

Here are some major tasks I’ll be rotating through:

  • Mythic dungeons – with an emphasis on running my own keys
  • Farming Nethershards for higher level gear (iLevel goal = 900, currently 888)
  • Weekly raids (especially those with Class Hall rewards)
  • Herb farming for Herbalism/Inscription
  • Fishing in Broken Isles to max out my Fishing skill, and to farm food materials
  • Building a solid pet battle team, with 1 max level of each type
  • Classic dungeons & the accompanying achievements

I’ll be starting with herb farming today, because I want to stockpile Inscription supplies so I can put up glyphs and Vantus Runes on the Auction House every week. I’m not sure if I’ll change my focus daily or just do what I feel like on any given session, but having specific goals narrows the chance of running around the game aimlessly.

My biggest challenge will be Mythic dungeons. I currently run them randomly with friends, and I’ve only run a key of my own once–and failed miserably. I’m confident I can avoid depleting my keys with solid groups, so I’ll be reading up on strategy guides, watching runs on YouTube, and running more Mythics in general.

As noted above, my current iLevel is 888, but my goal is 900. Farming Nethershards in the Broken Shore is the easiest way to get the gear, but I lose interest in grinding World Quests for both emissaries and Nethershards rather quickly, so I don’t want to binge too hard on this task. I’ve accepted I’m not going to be the best DPS, or even the best Hunter, but I feel the 900 iLevel will definitely make me feel more confident when applying to Mythic or questing groups.

Essentially, I’m switching one major goal for multiple smaller ones now that I have flying, and I’m excited to see how much progress I can make. I hope everyone else is enjoying the freedom as much as I am!

flying.jpg

Skincare

Face First Update: New skincare routine!

After months of using multiple moisturizers (see previous post here), I decided to dial it back and use less. My ultimate hope was that by reducing the layers of lotion on my face, that perhaps my chronic adult acne would clear up or at least improve.

This was also influenced by a sample size of H20+ Oasis Ultra Hydrating Cream in my Ipsy bag. I fell in love fast, because a little bit went a long way, it felt weightless on my skin, and it left my skin super soft and moisturized. I rarely buy full size products based off of samples from my monthly beauty subscriptions, but H20+ was an exception!

By reducing the number of moisturizers, adding a vitamin C serum to my routine, and finding an acne face wash that actually works for me (yay Clearasil Rapid Action!), I’ve definitely improved the look and feel of my skin, and the acne has improved–to a noticeable degree.

Here’s my current regimen:

morning routine 4-12-17 with text

Morning
-Wash and massage face with Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Daily Face Wash (if I’m experiencing acne) OR H20+ Elements Keep it Fresh Face Cleanser (if my skin is fairly clear)
-Massage in vitamin C serum (was using this and I’m now using this, but it’s all personal preference!)
-Moisturize with H20+ Oasis Ultra Hydrating Cream all over face and down neck
-Moisturize with Pond’s Dry Skin Cream on neck, lightly on cheeks and forehead
-Moisturize/protect with Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture with Sunscreen (Broad Spectrum SPF 35)

night routine 4-12-17 with text

Night
-Remove makeup as needed with Makeup EraserMakeup Eraser (review upcoming!) or micellar water and cotton pads
-Wash and massage face with Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Daily Face Wash (if I’m experiencing acne) OR H20+ Elements Keep it Fresh Face Cleanser (if my skin is fairly clear)
-Massage in Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel
-Gently massage in Garnier SkinActive Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream

My skin is reacting so well to consistent product use and a regular routine. I’m also very happy with H20+, and I’ll be trying out more of their products. I highly recommend the Oasis Ultra Hydrating Cream–it’s well worth every dollar, and because a small amount goes a long way, it will last you a good amount of time.

Happy cleansing and moisturizing!

Comics

Recommendation: Saga, an utterly compelling comic series

Have you ever had something–a movie, an author, a TV series, or similar–repeatedly mentioned in passing, over a period of time? And despite its repeat presence in conversations or videos or internet browsing, you don’t bother to look it up? I experienced this situation with the comic series Saga, and now that I’m completely wrapped up in it, I wish I had looked it up sooner.

Saga follows Alana and Marko, lovers from opposite sides of a giant war taking place on multiple planets. As they journey through space with their daughter Hazel, they meet unique creatures and characters, and find themselves in situations of distress, desire, and duplicity.

It’s a vague summary, but I don’t want to give away any more than that. What I will say is that it’s a wonderfully written and illustrated series. Written by Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples, the graphics plus the story keeps you captivated as you feverishly turn every page. Each monthly issue introduces a concept that is equal parts shocking and compelling, and you’re constantly put on the edge of your seat.

According to Image Comics, the publisher of Saga, the series is “heavily influenced by Star Wars, and based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent.” (Source) This is very apparent in the story, which takes place in an entirely imagined universe, both beautiful and terrifying simultaneously. Alana and Marko as characters not only grow and evolve, but Mr. Vaughan peels back the layers of their personalities through flashbacks, drug trips, and confrontations, giving the reader an intimate view into these characters’ true cores.

Some of the most tender moments in the series are narrated by Hazel, offering an innocent perspective on what can occasionally be very horrific events. She seems to reach through the page directly to the reader, until your heart feels intricately linked to this small family.

When I first looked up Saga, I ordered the first Volume (available online here or here). As soon as it arrived, I began to read it . . . and completely devoured it, very quickly. Suddenly, I was ordering all of the available volumes. Once I had raced through those, I went to my local comic book shop and set up a box for the monthly issues.

Of course, not everyone has the same reaction to the same things, but I do recommend Saga for anyone who likes comics, enjoys stories in space, or wants to have their imagination stretched. It’s for adults, i.e. there are drugs, sex, and violence. However, it’s never gratutious and it always supports the story in full. (Which is not to say the drug trips or sex scenes aren’t completely and totally fun.)

I think my favorite quote comes from Entertainment Weekly, which called Saga “[the] kind of comic you get when truly talented superstar creators are given the freedom to produce their dream book.” (Source) It’s high praise that is very much well deserved.

Check out Saga, and see if it captures you the way it has for so many other readers!

Magazines

Essential vs. Wishlist – The pricetag war

This past week, while perusing the April 2017 issue of InSTYLE magazine, I flipped to the “my style” page, which generally features a stylish person with ties to the fashion world in one way or another. The page mashes up pictures of their favorite items, pieces, and destinations, giving you an extremely condensed lookbook for their style.

April’s featured person noted, “A key piece in my wardrobe is Cartier’s Tank watch.” I looked to the corresponding numbered picture (3) and saw the plain square watch from Cartier (a high-end brand), with the lofty pricetag of $4,600. Woof, I thought. That’s a lot of cash for a watch.

Unbothered, I pushed on.

“Sandals from Aurora James’s line, Brother Vellies, are high on my wish list.” My eyes traveled to the matching number (5) and the sandals, with a price of $584. I immediately stopped in utter shock.

It was the words “wish list” that confounded me. The $4,600 watch was “a key piece” but the $584 sandals were on the “wish list”? Logically, it didn’t compute for me. I couldn’t look at these two very different numbers and associate “essential” with thousands of dollars, but “maybe” with the comparatively low $584.

I initially tweeted about it, stating that perhaps the person had saved for a long time to obtain that “key piece.” Yet even that bothered me, and I’ll admit it’s most likely a “just me” issue. I personally can’t imagine spending that much on a watch, but I have my own emotional struggles with money and spending it. I can accept that!

I quickly came to the conclusion that I was in the wrong economic class to be flipping through InSTYLE, much less receiving a monthly subscription. (Note: I receive it for free, I did not pay to subscribe. It was part of a deal from ShoeDazzle, which has now become customary–make a purchase, get a free magazine subscription.)

With all that said, I was disappointed to be looking at these very different numbers and feelings. I couldn’t relate to this person, their style, or their priorities. Not to say that’s the intention of the page–surely, they mean it to be inspirational or just something pretty to look at–but it’s still a bit stinging to realize you are definitely not the intended audience, and for economic reasons.

Unfortunately, I feel this way frequently and not just with InSTYLE. Even in a fitness magazine, it’s confusing for me to see $180 exercise leggings lumped in with a $30 water bottle, or any combination of high-low prices. In my head, I try to imagine the person spending money on both items, and I reach a dead end where it just won’t compute, it’s illogical, and I can’t figure it out. Who is the audience? Where is the person who buys both items and what in the world does their life look like? Is it a dual income household? How old are they? How long have they worked? How high up in their career are they? The list of questions drags on, and I can never answer any of them because it just does not make sense.

Even with unanswered questions about marketing, potential audiences, and bothersome pricetags, I continue to look through all kinds of magazines and do my best to ignore the rollercoaster of varying price tags for products. As someone said to me, “It’s like window shopping.” Indeed it is–you just have to choose to admire and move on.