TV

Recommendation: One of the best thrillers on TV right now

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Have you watched How to Get Away With Murder? If you’re into thrillers, you absolutely can’t get away with not watching it.

The series follows lawyer Analise Keating, played by the gorgeous and talented Viola Davis, along with her associates and students, through legal cases and legal issues of a personal nature. The plot twists are frequent, leaving your heart pounding at the end of every episode. On top of that, the character development courses through the story, allowing glimpses into the lives of everyone in the show. Just when you think you’ve got a character nailed down, the writers pull the rug out from under you and you’re back to guessing.

Personally, I started the first season and watched it regularly via Netflix. I had to take a break after the season finale, simply because it was so intense. Once I dove into the second season, I devoured it quickly. It’s a show that fuels an intense desire to know what’s going on and who’s in on it all.

The show utilizes flashbacks very deviously, feeding the viewer only what they want to reveal. Later episodes will cast a light on what earlier flashbacks didn’t show, and the truth is slowly unraveled. Additionally, the focus of the show switches among the characters, and not always in the order you might prefer. The writers like to drop bombs about one character, and then slide into scenes with another. It’s maddening and addictive all at once.

If you’re into thrillers, especially ones with strong female leads, How to Get Away With Murder has to be at the top of your watch list. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and the third season is broadcasting on ABC.

Gaming

Marksmanship Hunter: Stepping Up My Game

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In the (many) years that I’ve been playing World of Warcraft (WoW), I’ve always been afraid of the higher level content–from raids, heroic dungeons, and even some achievements. I simply avoided group content unless someone I personally knew was playing with me, despite many great experiences with complete strangers.

For Legion, I’ve been focusing on my Hunter, instead of my usual Druid. I even changed race and gender to go back to my favorite combo (female Night Elf) so I’d feel more “in tune” with my character. To start, I favored my last specialization: Beast Mastery.

Beast Mastery was lot of fun in Draenor, and it’s super fun in Legion. Hati is a fantastic companion, and being able to change her form makes it all the more exciting to customize your presence as a Hunter. Plus, who doesn’t feel super badass with a huge, legendary gun? That plus two beasts on either side? You feel invincible!

That said, I wanted to try Survival. Ooh boy did I love it, even more than I imagined I would! The awesome spear, the close action, the piercing DPS. I thought I had found my ultimate match, and even planned on sticking with Survival over Beast Mastery.

However, as I read Icy Veins guides, I realized I wasn’t going to get my damage per second (DPS) as high as I wanted without changing specializations to my last choice–Marksmanship.

Why the hesitation? Why was it my last choice? Well, my perception was that it would be too slow, that I would get hit often, and that I wouldn’t be able to master the move rotation. All of those fears have vanished in the last few months as I’ve focused entirely on upping my DPS for Marksmanship. I’ve allocated some artifact points to try to keep up my Survival and Beast Mastery weapons (for options, if nothing else); but I’ve mainly been grinding hard for Marksmanship, something I never expected I’d do.

To clarify–it is definitely not slow, I don’t get hit often, and I have zero issues with the rotation. As with any specialization, there’s a period of adaptation and a little bit of struggle, but it’s easily become my most comfortable spec. I now know exactly how to take down my enemy as quickly as possible with minimal damage on myself.

With this newfound confidence in my Hunter abilities, I’ve dismissed previous anxieties about higher level content and simply pushed into it. I’ve been doing random Heroic Dungeons daily, Raids whenever it benefits me, and am going after achievements I didn’t think I’d ever accomplish. In my quest to have better DPS, I’ve broken through barriers I had up for myself. I’ve explored all three Hunter specs, discovered all Artifact knowledge available to me, and completely changed my perception of the game, the Hunter class in general, and my own personal capabilities. After years of playing, I finally feel like an actual, full-fledged WoW player. Raids? Whatever. You want to do a Mythic Dungeon? Sure, alright, I can take it on. Legendary Creature that the Wardens want me to hunt down? You got it.

For anyone who plays comfortably in a cozy spot of familiarity, I can’t recommend branching out enough. Try something new, whether it’s a class or specialization. See what you’re capable of!

The only downfall? My video game ego is getting so big, I think I might try For Honor. HA! We’ll see what happens . . .

Beauty

Travel: My must-have makeup palettes!

I have amassed quite the collection of makeup, so when I travel, I have to be very selective about my products. I don’t want to carry too much, but I don’t want to be without my faves either. After taking a week long trip and then a weekend trip within the span of less than a month, I found that two palettes were especially versatile.

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First, The Manizer Sisters from theBalm. I purchased this palette after receiving a sample of Mary-Lou Manizer in an Ipsy bag. I originally used the shade for highlighting my brows and as an inner corner eyeshadow, but once I had the palette, I began using the shade as an all-over highlighter.

That’s what’s so great about these shades–they work in multiple ways. You can use the whole palette for contouring, or for eyeshadow, or just blush and bronzer, etc. It may only have three shades, but I’ve found from using it almost daily that it’s a hard-working palette!

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Second, the StudioMakeup On-The-Go eyeshadow palette, which came in a Boxycharm box. On my first (longer) trip, I brought a different eyeshadow palette, and wished the entire time that I had this one. When I brought it on the weekend trip, it confirmed that it’s perfect for any event. I used the shadows for casual lunches, a wedding rehearsal dinner, the wedding itself, and the “hangover” event the next day!

I love brown/nude colors, so that may be why I love this one so much. The extra shimmery yellow shade in the upper corner is so perfect for brightening up eyes and making you look more awake than you are, while the darker brown and black are perfect for creating a smudged liner look that creates the illusion of bigger eyes. Overall, I love the shades in this palette and they have good staying power, so this will be a top choice for eyeshadow palettes when it comes to travel. Though I will say, I do own more eyeshadow palettes than any other type of makeup, so the race is always changing!

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Since all the traveling has died down, I’ve discovered other palettes and must-haves for travel, all of which will be reviewed in upcoming posts! 🙂 Thanks for reading!

Skincare

REVIEW: Paula’s Choice CLEAR Acne Skincare Regimen

My interest in Paula’s Choice skincare began with a sample size of their Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel, received in a monthly beauty box. Once I tried the gel after cleansing, I was immediately HOOKED. It contains glycolic acid, and it feels like giving your skin a do-over. It fixes everything from blemishes to discoloration and leaves your skin looking like you just received a spa facial.

Ipsy recently offered a discount on Paula’s Choice, so I excitedly zoomed on over to the website and ended up choosing an acne kit. Here’s where I made my mistake–I overestimated how bad my acne is (apparently not as bad as I thought) and chose the Extra Strength formula for the kit. (I would absolutely choose the Regular formula if I could do it again.)

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The kit itself comes with three products:

  • Pore Normalizing Cleanser
  • Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution
  • Daily Skin Clearing Treatment

The booklet included has instructions to use each product day and night. The cleanser is gentle and works perfectly with the recommended method (gentle but vigorous circular motions). The exfoliating solution is put on a cotton pad and then you stroke it over your face. Finally, the clearing treatment is carefully applied to problem areas.

I dedicated myself to using the products exactly as instructed. While the regimen did seem to clear up my acne a bit, it also completely dried out my skin. This was definitely unexpected, because I have oily skin and it’s darn near impossible to dry out this skin!

I immediately stopped when it affected my makeup application. My skin was so dry that I couldn’t use foundation (no matter how hydrating) because the foundation would make it obvious how flaky my skin was!

I bought an intensive cream from Pond’s to fix the dry skin (which I’ve never, ever had to even think about). Due to the iffy nature of the results and the over-drying of my skin, I wouldn’t recommend the Extra Strength formula. I’m still going back and forth mentally on whether I should try the Regular formula kit or just continue to use my own regimen.

Even with this experience, I do still love the AHA gel and I will try other Paula’s Choice products, but my advice would be to underestimate the severity of your acne if you’re trying the acne kit and to be very careful with the application of the clearing treatment–only put it on emerging skin issues.

If anyone has tried the Regular formula kit, please let me know–I’d love to know your experience!

 

Skincare

Face First: Let’s talk moisturizers

It seems like skincare trends are constantly changing. Simply look at the skincare articles in the same magazine over the course of six months–how many different cleansers, moisturizers, toners, and other serums and tonics are recommended? How do you know what’s “right” when the information is constantly changing? (I ask this completely rhetorically–I haven’t figured it out 100% either!)

After years of following an inconsistent routine, I’ve stopped taking those articles as gospel and instead, I’ve been picking and choosing what works for me. I have oily skin and acne, so I’m dealing with multiple issues. Today I wanted to share an aspect of my skincare routine: moisturizers!

An article I recently read discussed how up to 15 different moisturizers are common for a typical Korean skincare routine. 15! While I didn’t pick up a boatload of new moisturizers, I did decide to try layering different moisturizers and was pleasantly surprised by the results–brighter, softer skin daily. Here’s what I’ve been using:

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These are my daily moisturizers. I will admit that I don’t use all of them every single day. Let’s start with the absolute essentials!

  1. Ponds Clarant B3 Dark Spot Correcting Cream
    -I LOVE this cream. I originally bought this travel size pot because of my acne scars, and when consistently used (day and night), it truly does even out my skin tone and helps lighten the scars. It’s the first lotion I put on after cleansing and using toner. *Tip: Be sure to massage it into your skin gently in upwards movements, letting it be fully absorbed by the skin.*
  2. Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 15 for Combination/Oily Skin
    -This is the moisturizer I use daily, and is a fairly recent purchase. I had always read rave reviews about Olay moisturizers, and after several weeks of use, I’m very happy with this one. It’s gentle, has sunscreen, and softens my skin. I warm up a small amount between my hands and then gently massage it all over my face, ears, and neck.

The two above are the ones I use every day without fail. Here are others I layer on as needed:

  1. Osea Atmosphere Protection Cream
    -This cream arrived with my FitFabFun box, and is described as an “antioxidant-rich moisturizer” on the bottle, as well as an “ideal base for sunscreen and makeup.” If I use this cream, it’s usually because I’m putting on a full face of makeup. I use it after the Ponds cream but before the Olay moisturizer. This may or may not be the “proper” order, but it works for me! I use the same technique as my Olay moisturizer–warm it up between my hands/fingers and then gently massage into the skin.
  2. Olay Regenerist Luminous Broad Spectrum SPF 15 Moisturizer
    -This was the single moisturizer I was using before I started my new skincare routine. I never felt fully satisfied with it, but I don’t want it to go to waste, so if I’m putting on all my creams, I’ll add a layer of this for the extra SPF and moisturizing.
  3. IT Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream
    -This is a MIRACLE cream. Yes, this is the tiniest pot in the picture! It came as a deluxe sample in an order from IT Cosmetics (a brand I recommend to literally everyone and anyone), and it is the cream of all creams. With anti-aging and regenerative concentrates, it’s a day-and-night type of cream. It is simply the most luxurious cream I’ve ever used. I put this on last, as it leaves my skin in a silky state.

It’s not 15 moisturizers, but it’s more than I’m used to! However, I’ve noticed that taking the time to use each one has made my skin healthier than it used to be, even minimizing my acne and oily skin issues to a degree. It may be a combination of the moisturizers plus all the gentle massaging I’m doing with each one, but either way, I plan on layering and using multiple lotions and creams to protect and care for my skin from now on!

 

 

 

Health

Refresh and reset

My sister and niece recently visited, which was such a gift. I don’t think I’ve ever had undivided time with my sister since my niece was born! As I was (and still am) recovering from pneumonia, the majority of our time was spent talking and relaxing together.

One of the most helpful discussions we had was about the brain-gut microbiome, or the fact that a healthy gut = a healthier brain. Since this conversation, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it! I’ve been diving into research and medical journals, reading every word (even if I can’t fully comprehend it ha!) and taking it all in.

The conclusion I came to was that I needed to start taking steps to improve the foods I use to fuel my body. I’m a picky eater and that has been amplified lately, but I ultimately chose to start my path at a familiar place–green smoothies.

During my healthier eating periods in the past, I regularly consumed a greens-based smoothie in the morning. This one addition to my diet suddenly changed how I ate for the rest of the day, like an aftershock that positively touched every aspect of my life. Eating better meant I had more energy, the consumption of vegetables first thing in the morning meant I stayed fuller longer, and I overall just felt better.

And so today I made a green smoothie. Power greens mix (baby kale, spinach, arugula), ice, water, lower-calorie orange juice, a cup of diced mango, and some frozen pineapple.

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As soon as I took my first sip, I was reminded of how good it feels to fuel this way, to bring in fresh fruit and veggies, to give my body goodness.

I know there’s no miracle cure for anything, but I am going to start here with my beloved green smoothies, and let the aftershocks radiate through my day!