Top 8 On-Campus Resources You Should Be Using

There are so many valuable resources on every college campus, and often, they’re not well-publicized. Here’s a few that I found at my college along that way that helped me a lot.

I have three siblings, and between the four of us, we’ve attended five different colleges. Many of these resources were available at all of them. No matter the size of your campus, it’s worth Googling or asking around to see if you have anything similar that you could use.

On-campus gym

I didn’t start using the gym until third year—but I was paying for it the whole time! Our campus gym was included in our tuition. My sisters’ school does not include gym passes in tuition, but you can get them for much cheaper than any regular gym—compared to some gyms in the area, my sister saved about 75%! If you have an on-campus gym, make sure you’re taking advantage of it!

Staying healthy in college is a must. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours and hours at the gym every day, but make an effort to keep active. Many on-campus gyms offer classes from kickboxing to lifting to yoga to spin, as well as tons of equipment and dedicated areas for almost any activity.

Mental health resources

Like physical health, mental health is so important. Please take care of yourself. There are tons of not-well-known resources on campus: my college had counselling with licensed doctors, peer-to-peer counselling, roundtables and safe spaces, as well as a 24/7 crisis line. There were also plenty of awareness and de-stressing events, including a full week dedicated to mental health awareness, free midnight breakfasts at exam-time, and daily therapy dog sessions. Please take advantage of these resources as much as possible!

Health insurance plan

On the theme of health in all its forms, if your college offers a health plan, ensure that you read through the details to see what’s covered and use it. This can help with everything from regular checkups to reproductive health to mental health counselling to massages.

New grad job openings don’t always offer health insurance. Your university might have been able to negotiate a better deal than you can find on your own. This might be the cheapest/best insurance you’ll have for a while, so make sure you take advantage of what’s covered.

Development lectures and workshops

My university had a Student Development centre, which offered weekly lectures on topics ranging from time management to budgeting to self-care. They were free and offered valuable learning points that helped me in multiple areas of my life. Do some research to see if your university offers any lectures or workshops that may be valuable to you.

Academic help

I can’t stress this enough. There are plenty of free/cheap resources for academic help, including your professors’ office hours, tutoring from TAs or peer tutors, and pre-exam course reviews put on by faculty councils. Actively seek out and participate in these events (before you need them!)

Financial aid

Don’t just apply for scholarships. Go into the financial aid office and talk to someone about your options.

Your financial aid office can give you tips and tricks to help navigate the millions upon millions of dollars available in financial assistance in various forms. They know this system and want to help.

I didn’t think I was eligible for more financial assistance, but when I went into the office, the counsellor encouraged me to fill out a 20-minute application for an additional air program. The program was highly confusing on the website, but the counsellor walked me through it. I got an additional $4,500 from that 30-minute appointment. 

Career centre

Take advantage of lectures, workshops, and advisors here. They can help with deciding on a career path, looking for jobs, resume writing, preparing for interviews, negotiating a job offer, and more!

Cheap entertainment

Colleges are breeding grounds for art and fun events. Lectures, conferences, theatre and film, galleries, poetry, and more are waiting for you every single day. It’s often hard to keep track of all of these, especially at a large college, so look to see if there is a good events calendar or Facebook group where you can keep track of upcoming events that might interest you.

What campus resources have helped you the most? What resources do you wish your college offered? Join the discussion in the comments below!

How to Set Goals (And Actually Achieve Them!)

Hi friends! If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know how far I’ve fallen in love with goal setting. A few years ago, I was inspired by this post from Dani at Dani Dearest on the importance of working towards goals, and started using her method to set goals for myself. I’ve since adapted and customized to make my own routine for both setting and achieving my goals, which is the one I’ll be sharing with you today.

I cannot rave on enough about how instrumental goal-setting has been in helping me grow as a person in all areas of my life. I am so much more balanced and reflective than I was four years ago, and I credit defining goals and actively pursuing them to much of that change.

With that in mind, here’s my personal method! As always, adapt to fit your liking 🙂

All about that balance

If there’s one tip that I recommend above all others, it’s this. Diversify your goals. Identify categories of your life where you’d like to grow; mine generally include academics, clubs/volunteering, physical and mental health, relationships with friends and family, blogging, and other hobbies.

I’m a big believer in work-life (or school-life) balance, and setting goals in all areas helps me focus on all the important areas of my life at once. I highly, highly recommend striving for at least a few different categories to facilitate growth as a person all-around.

I generally set about 10 goals per semester, because that’s what works for me. Play around with numbers to find what works for you, but keep in mind that the less goals you aim for, the slower you might achieve overall progress, but the more goals you set, the harder it will be to achieve all of them.

Be SMART about it

SMART goals are probably one of the biggest buzzwords of the past year or two, and for good reason. SMART goals are defined as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

That basically means: know exactly what you want, why you want it, and how you’ll know when you get there. A good example of a SMART goal might be “run 5k in under 30min by September 1st”. This goal makes sense if you’re a beginner runner (or a non-runner!) trying to step up your endurance. You’ll know that you’ve made progress when you can run for half an hour continuously. Maybe your ultimate dream is to one day run a marathon, so getting from nothing to being able to do a 5k is definitely relevant to getting to that marathon goal eventually. It’s measurable because you know exactly what separates success and not success: did you have to stop to walk or could you run for the whole time? And there’s a time limit on it too, which gives you that deadline motivator. Be sure, here, to give yourself a reasonable amount of time to reach your goal. You can’t go from not running at all to running a 5K in a week. But you can do that in two months, or three, or even four. On the other hand, don’t give yourself too much time, because if you’re like me, you’ll procrastinate. 🙂

Make a plan

Wanting to run a marathon is all well and good, but you’ll never do the training if you don’t have some sort of plan. Same goes for any goal; without a plan, your goal is just a bullet point on a piece of paper. Do your research, consult anyone you need to, and map out your progress. Check off days or checkpoints or mini goals as you go. Adjust timelines and plans as required. Be flexible, but dedicated in achieving your goals in a fairly short amount of time.

Remind yourself daily

Make a handwritten list of your goals as defined above, and put it in a highly visible place so you’ll be forced to see the list every day. This is a great reminder to actually get your shit done. I like posting a list on the wall above my desk so I see it in the morning and night when I’m doing homework.

I also really like making a tiny list on a post-it note and using that as my bookmark for my planner. This serves as a constant reminder to check your week’s schedule and see if you’re missing any opportunity to pursue those goals. For example, if my goal is to run that 5K but I haven’t pencilled myself in a run this week, you can bet your booties that I’m going to notice that when I run my schedule against my post-it goals list bookmark. Then I can plan to run on one or three days of the week. I’ve recently started using an app called Today to track some habits as well (it’s free!).

Shout it from the rooftops

Goals are more often attained when we tell other people about them. I like telling a friend about one or two of my goals for the semester (notice I said one or two—this fits into a casual conversation a little better than all ten goals, for me) as a bit of an accountability measure. If you tell enough friends two different goals each, you’re bound to have someone ask you about your progress at some point.

Grab a friend

Everything is so much more fun with friends. Buddying up with a friend is super easy to do for certain goals. My roommate and I often go to our favourite gym class together, which makes it so much more likely that I’ll actually go. For one, I feel worse skipping out when I know she’s expecting me to be there. Second, starting a new gym class is significantly easier when you have someone else who’s just as clueless as you are.

For some things (*cough* studying), friends are more distracting than helpful. But that doesn’t mean you have to do the activity itself with friends. It’s easy enough just to commit to meeting up with a friend to head to the library on Saturday mornings together, then going your separate ways to study alone (read: more productively). Or, you could even just ask each other about readings, assignments, or tests to keep each other on track.

Be creative, and don’t hesitate to throw out past/common rules in favour of making new/your own ones. These are just a few of the tips that have worked for me, but you should adapt them to your own life!

What goals are you going to rock this semester/year? Join the discussion in the comments below!

How to Prepare for a New Semester

Hi lovelies! Winter break is winding down, which means it’s time for a new semester! Luckily, I’ve had a bit of extra time over the past few days to start prepping for the upcoming term, and now I get to share my routine with you!

Start your syllabi collection

Now’s that time where most of your syllabi are probably posted online already. First order of business: collect all of them. Save them to your desktop. If you have binders (or whatever you use during the term) nearby, I recommend printing all your courses’ syllabi and sticking them in the very front of your binders.

Having copies of syllabi serves multiple purposes:

  • You can take a look again at the marking breakdown. The syllabus is essentially an overview of the entire course, including what you’ll be learning and exactly how things will be marked. If you read it now you’ll know what you should focus your time on for maximum grades.
  • Exam, readings, and assignment due dates. This helps you stay ahead of the curve for less last-minute panicking (more on this below).
  • You’ll always have a handy list of resources for extra help readily available to you (psst: not all of the best resources will be listed. See this post on the top underutilized resources in university!)

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Now is a good time to ensure you’re on track for all of your course requirements. Pull out your course plan, take a look at your program requirements, and ensure you’re on track. Don’t wait until after the midterm to find out that you really needed a prerequisite course, or that two of your classes are anti-requisites so one doesn’t count, or that one of your classes isn’t accepted by your top grad school admissions office.

Book an appointment with your program’s academic counsellor (before it gets busy!) if anything seems out of whack. You should do this anyway once per semester even if everything seems okay—your academic counsellor should be able to confirm that you’re on track.

Make an assignment calendar

This is something that I’ve found to be super helpful in the past year or two. Though it’s great to have all your syllabi in binders, I also love having one big list of everything I need to do and when. You can use a planner for this, or this method from Organized Charm this method from Kirsten at Organized Charm is great too. Having that one central list is amazingly helpful for those “I know I have something due this week, but I can’t remember what it is” days.

To do this, go through all your syllabi and write down every assignment and its due date for the whole semester. Then stick these in your planner’s calendar or make a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet with a list of all classes’ assignments sorted by due date. Print it off, then stick it in a place where you’ll see it every day so you’ll know ahead of time when things are due.

Obviously I put hand-in assignments on this calendar, but I also put readings as well. This is incredibly helpful for me to keep track of readings and make me keep up to date on them.

Replenish your supplies

If you’re craving a trip to Indigo (or Barnes & Noble, for my neighbours in the States), now’s the time. I sometimes ask for Indigo gift cards for Christmas solely so I can buy a new planner before the new school year, but if I end up with any leftover credit, some fancy pens are always a fun way to spruce up your pencil case!

If your highlighters have all run dry from finals, go buy some more right now. Get yourself prepared and add a little bit of #studyspo, something special to make January as fun and inspiring and ~academic~ as September was!

Reassess your goals and set new ones

I love goal-setting—so much so that I’ve posted a guide to setting goals and actually achieving them! Goal setting and reflection has been one of the best habits that I’ve adopted in the past few years, and I thank Dani from Dani Dearest for the idea. I generally set myself a set of 10-12 goals per semester. It’s important to balance those goals between different aspects of your life: my categories include academics, extracurriculars, health, friends/family, personal projects (including blogging, photography, writing, and other hobbies), and planning for my career. It’s also super important to be realistic and have a plan that actually makes sense, but more on that in the goal-setting guide.

And let’s be honest: there will be semesters that you don’t always achieve all of your goals. That’s okay! Take a few moments to reflect on why you weren’t able to meet those goals. Either the goal itself or the plan to get there might need tweaking, so figure out a new goal/plan and carry it forward to the upcoming semester.

Put a Post-It note mini-list of your semester goals as your bookmark for your planner. This way, they’re a constant reminder to work towards achieving them.

Reassess your time commitments

Confession: I sometimes bite off more than I can chew at Clubs Week in September. And then I try to volunteer and blog and improve my grades and make new friends on top of that. Some years, I end up having to skip a few meetings/coffee dates/study sessions here and there, and it sucks. I try to use the new semester to reassess what’s most important to me and what, if anything, I really need to cut.

If there’s a club that you haven’t been able to participate fully in, consider dropping it for the semester (or, if you’re on the executive team, consider giving up your position, sharing it with someone else, or even just asking for help with some of the work). I know that’s terrifying for the part of us that wants to pump up that resume. But doing three things well is better than doing five things just okay.

All of these steps have been awesome in keeping me organized, inspired, and focused throughout the whole semester. It’s a great way to get excited for the upcoming term, and I’ve found the routine to be most helpful before classes begin when you have significantly more free time.

Best of luck for the new semester!

Tell me your best way to prep for the new term below!

The Ultimate Finals Study Guide

Ultimate Finals Study Guide Pinterest 1-16-16
Hi lovelies! Finals season is here, which means I finally get to share some of the best tips for acing finals that I’ve come across.

I strongly believe that the best thing you can do is prepare. As such, most of this guide is based on knowing yourself—your strengths, weaknesses, learning styles, and potential distractions—so you can take proactive steps to maximize your strengths and avoid falling into traps.

First things first:

FIGURE OUT WHAT WILL BE TESTED

There’s a reason that every college organization blog will tell you to keep your syllabus handy: sometimes, your prof will tell you what’s testable and what’s not. Oftentimes the syllabus will tell you if the final is cumulative or not, or if there are lectures or chapters that are not testable.

To get more detailed information, consider going to your professor’s office hours. While it’s often intimidating (what do you even talk to your prof about??), going in and chatting about the class, your prof’s research, or the upcoming exam will likely net you a few subtle exam hints. Hearing what’s testable from the prof herself is also so much more reliable than rumours you get from a friend of a friend of a friend over Facebook. Just be sure to book only your fair share of office hours, since your classmates will likely be desperate for help, too.

One of the questions that I hear a lot in class is “Are the readings on the exam?” And while this differs for every class and every professor, sometimes, it’s not explicitly stated. Since I was in science for freshman and sophomore year, most of my classes’ textbooks were really just another way of saying the same thing as in class, which meant that the only time I cracked open a science textbook was if I didn’t understand something said in class.

My roommate has political science readings that are radically different than lecture material, so he actually has to do them. Like I’ve said, it depends wholly on your professor and course—if you’re unsure, ask! Sometimes, readings take more time than they’re worth, so make sure you know if they’ll benefit you in case you’re running short on study time.

CONSOLIDATE

After you know what you need to study, gather everything! Make sure you have all the notes you need, including from classes you missed (or may have dozed off in…I’m looking at you, 8AM calculus). Ask friends, but there are two cautions here: 1) make sure the friend you ask actually makes good notes, and 2) don’t let this become a habit. Note-sharing (and sharing of other resources like study sheets and such) goes both ways. Don’t be the person who’s always asking for notes, because people will realize and eventually, their goodwill might run out.

I love rewriting my notes into one big course note. Sure, it ends up being fifty pages long, but it’s so nice to have everything in one place, all formatted and organized the same way.

If you’re super short on time, or even just want some notes to compare with your own, use OneClass. If you upload your own notes, you get credits that can be used to download other notes for whatever class you like (specific to each school and course). The best way to maximize value on OneClass is to look for comprehensive, consolidated notes, which again cover the entire course in one document. They cost more in credits, but they’re so much more worth it. Again, please don’t let yourself rely solely on OneClass as a note resource! It should be a supplement or a contingency, but not your primary source of notes!

After you’ve got your notes all together, it’s time to understand yourself a little bit.

PLANNING AHEAD

Planning ahead will allow you to take care of yourself properly, avoid getting distracted, and avoid burnout/loss of motivation.

Every article will tell you to get rid of distractions, but there are a lot of distractions that you might not recognize in advance. The obvious distraction is the internet. Leave your phone at home. Bring a watch instead. Use the SelfControl plugin, or leave your computer at home, or disable internet access. Whatever you have to do, do it.

Study alone, or with people who will actually focus and call you out on it if you’ve been on Pinterest for more than ten minutes. Find a few different places you can be productive in, and alternate those for a balance between a change of scenery and a consistent psychological association with studying. To be honest, I hate studying in libraries. Everyone is always so anxious when finals come around; people start sleeping between bookshelves or having breakdowns from stress. I get second-hand anxiety in the library. It freaks me out even more and saps my mental energy. I’m more of a casual coffee shop studier.

Some of the less-obvious distractions are hunger and health, which kind of go hand in hand anyway. Go grocery shopping before you get really busy with studying. Buy a bunch of things that will last for a fairly long time but are actually healthy. Prepare meals (freezer meals are a godsend) and snacks in advance. One of my friends constantly has a bag of veggie straws going. She pre-portions them into little snack-size bags so they’re quick and convenient, but it also makes sure she doesn’t eat the whole bag in one sitting. Genius.

You’d be surprised how much money you can spend on takeout during exams, and how gross you feel afterwards. I have to prep snacks and meals ahead for exam season, otherwise I can’t do my best work because I’m either starving from not eating at all, or greasy from fast food. When we get busy, we tend to neglect our health, and then we can’t work effectively. Prep ahead and save yourself from that vicious cycle!

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF

It’s easy to think that cramming and pulling an all-nighter will land you a better grade. Here’s the thing: often, sleep will serve you better than cramming. If you don’t sleep, you’ll just be exhausted trying to write that sucker tomorrow morning. In first year, a girl I knew tried to pull an all-nighter and actually ended up falling asleep and missing her exam! Go to bed at a reasonable time, otherwise you might not remember any of the material—or worse.

Work in short chunks of time; for example, work for an hour, then take a 10 minute break. Go outside and take a walk. Daydream a little bit about the holidays. Reward yourself for completing decent amounts of work: paint your nails, spend 5-10 minutes on Instagram, watch a Ted Talk, or have a mini dance party. De-stress with rewards that aren’t food, because that’s how exam pudge happens. Taking breaks helps your stress levels and avoids burnout. Planning small rewards helps you get over the “I don’t feel like it” mentality.

Another tip for getting started it to plan out your time. Make a study schedule with realistic goals, like what time you’re going to wake up and how much you can get done. The easiest way to prioritize is to set two or three main goals each day, like “Finish Chapters 1, 2, and 3”. Make them realistic, but not so small that you don’t actually get anything done. When you actually go through your day, you can write what you actually did and at what times beside it. This lets you see where your time is actually going, so you can see if you need to get rid of one more distraction or allocate your time better.

STUDY EFFECTIVELY

Again, figure out what will be tested. If your test is likely to be straight memorization, try rewriting notes over and over and using mnemonics. If your exam will likely be about implications, make diagrams, connections, and ask what would happen if you changed something. This works well for chemistry, history, or cell biology.

Understand your learning style and adapt. Do you learn best by drawing diagrams and colour-coding? Do that! Are you an auditory learner? My roommate, who is in health science/anatomy, has a 4.0GPA. She knows she’s an auditory learner, so she studies by reading out loud, and trying to explain her notes and memorize out loud. Genius. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, act things out. Remember the bone song from Hannah Montana? Use it! Point to your femur or whatever. You do you!

Talk to other people. Discuss things. If you can explain things and discuss with others, you’ll remember it so much better. It helps if you do this all the way throughout the semester—just talking about the material covered in class that day can help spark your memory later.

Going through and rereading notes periodically throughout the semester (I like every weekend) will help you be able to study less come finals season, too!

Using these tips, you should be all set for exam day!

Comment below to tell me your best exam studying tips!
With love,
Holly

Skin-Saving Drugstore Faves: St. Ives Scrubs!

Hi lovelies!

Today I want to share with you a few little products I absolutely love. St. Ives scrubs are amazing overall for soft, smooth, hydrated skin, but I have three favourite products in particular:

From left to right: 1.) St Ives Oatmeal and Shea Butter Hydrating Body Wash, 2.) St Ives Even & Bright Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange Scrub, and 3.) St Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub.

1.) First and foremost, the Oatmeal & Shea Butter body wash is sooo smooth and, well, buttery! It moisturizes beautifully and leaves a gentle, subtle, fresh shea scent. It’s not overpowering at all. I love this body wash because it’s gentle on my skin, very well-priced (I can sometimes even find it at the dollar store for $3 or so), and isn’t heavy, so it lets my skin actually breathe. 🙂

2.) The Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange scrub works wonders for my blackheads. It’s very gentle, so I use this every other day or so to gently exfoliate my face. It evens my skin wonderfully and wakes me up in the morning because it smells so great! One precaution, though: I often get some into my hairline and in my eyelashes/eyebrows, which is sometimes hard to rinse off completely, and when it dries it looks like white specs in my eyelashes which is super weird looking! So I use this in the shower so I can rinse it off more thoroughly.

I have tried many of the other facial scrubs (including the famous apricot one and the green tea scrub) and while I find that they all work well, the pink lemon & mandarin orange is my favourite because of how it evens my skin tone, is gentle, and the energizing scent!

3.) The Apricot scrub’s directions actually say to use it on your face, but I find it’s too rough for that. I use it on the rest of my body, especially my arms and legs. I have these weird little bumps on the outside of my upper arms, and my arms and legs tend to get very dry, and this scrub has worked wonders. It almost feels like a mini massage! I have also used this for blackheads on my back and it’s helped a little bit there as well. I also use the scrub wherever I shave, because exfoliating beforehand allows for a smoother, longer lasting shave! This is the best body scrub I’ve tried. Also: the 300mL tub is significantly cheaper per volume than the 150mL tube thing, and they’re exactly the same product. I think it was $1 more for double the volume (the 150mL was $5, and this was $6 if I can recall correctly).

All in all, I absolutely love these St Ives scrubs. They make my skin soft, smooth, and moisturized. My arms and legs look so smooth and healthy thanks to the oatmeal body wash and apricot scrub, and my face is so even and my blackheads are reduced thanks to the pink lemon and mandarin scrub.

Have you tried these scrubs before? Let me know what you think!

Love always,
Holly

Semester Goals: Fall 2015

Hi lovelies!

Last year I basically had an existential crisis because I was in a major that I hated and could not see myself having a career in. I had a long-time friendship become very one-sided and emotionally manipulative. My grades suffered, my mood suffered, and suddenly I hated everything and just wanted to quit and hide under a blanket for all of eternity.

This summer, I realized that by allowing all of that drama/nonsense to continue, I was hurting myself, and by association, I was negatively affecting my friends and family. At some point, it hit me that trying to always push through, ignore my own feelings, and take the high road wasn’t sustainable. Eventually, I would burn out and break down. Why was I doing things that didn’t make me happy?

My philosophy is this: If it’s not adding value to your life, then why are you doing it?

Since then, I’ve been on a constant journey towards self-improvement. I switched majors into something I actually enjoy. I’ve distanced myself from people around whom I feel guilty or sad more often than happy or grateful. I’ve pinpointed ways to improve in every aspect of my life, and I’m actively making a plan to get there.

One of those ways is goal setting, an endeavor that, admittedly, hasn’t worked well for me in the past.

I used to set yearly goals, like New Year’s Resolutions, and I’d write them into my phone’s notes and rarely look at them throughout the year. I never actually stuck to them. I’d accomplish the easy ones that I’d probably do anyway, but I’d never even start to work on the more challenging goals, which kinds of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?

This summer I stumbled across a post from Dani at Dani Dearest in which she hadoutlined her goals for the semester—”15 goals for 15 weeks”. She mentioned how much more likely we are to accomplish goals if we share them with others. It’s a system of accountability, and it works.

I truly believe that the key to accomplishing your goals are making them challenging, but manageable and measureable. This is why you’ll see numbers in most of my goals. It provides me with an actual benchmark against which I can measure progress. I’ve started small as a way to encourage myself to continue setting goals next semester as well.

So, here are my goals for the semester:

  • Work out at least once a week: working out is entirely new to me since I’ve always played soccer and/or waterpolo year round, which usually provided me with enough exercise. But university is different. I have yet to discover what works best for me (home workouts vs the gym vs gym classes), so this goal is super ambiguous and small for now.
  • Create a budget and stick to it: Again, a newer concept for me, but I’m really trying to manage my money better to start out on the right foot after I graduate.
  • Get at least a 75% in all my courses: My grades suffered a lot last year, and there was a huge disparity in my grades between classes. I’d like to make sure I’m putting the appropriate amount of work into ALL of my courses.
  • Get a 80% average overall: I just really want to get back onto the Dean’s Honour List. Losing that was a huge blow for someone who has been on the honour roll every year since kindergarten 😛
  • Run 5km in under 30min: I used to play soccer, so I could do this with no trouble. Now? Not so much.
  • Reach 1000 pageviews on Hope and Mascara: I’m incredibly excited to grow this blog!
  • Use my planner consistently: Because working on these goals, school, blogging, exercise, volunteering, clubs, and social commitments is a lot to remember!
  • Join 2 clubs that I actually enjoy and GO TO THE MEETINGS: In line with my motto above, I’m a firm believer that you’ll only go to club meetings if you actually enjoy the club. As such, I’m straying away from the pre-med, pre-law, pre-etc, investment club type things that I don’t really enjoy, and instead focusing on my hobbies.
  • Find a volunteer position: I’d really like to find a continuous volunteer position, rather than just events every so often, which are harder for me to schedule other commitments around.
  • Keep up with schoolwork: Again, something that really screwed me over last year, and I’d like to work on improving at.
  • Write at least 10 times on Hope and Mascara: Part of my action plan to grow this blog!

So those are my goals for now. I will update with progress later on in the semester!

What are your goals for the semester or year? Have you tried goal-setting before, and how has it worked out for you? Comment below!

With love,

Holly


Monday Makeup Haul—Neutrals and Cult Favourites!! :)

Hi all!

I’ve really been wanting to try out some new makeup products lately, especially some of the cult favourites. Soooo I finally treated myself to my first actual Sephora purchase ever (what?? Crazy, I know), and scooped up the Naked 2 Basics palette, Benefit They’re Real trial size mascara and the companion Push-Up Liner, both in black.

I also finally found the Real Techniques brush starter kit at Walmart! I’ve been searching for these for literally ever! 🙂

Additionally, I took a gander at Rexall because I read somewhere that they sell nyx products. I fell in love so hard with nyx when our local Target opened, but then Target pulled out of Canada and I panicked and hoarded as much nyx as I could during the closing sale but didn’t do proper research to know what faves I really should have picked up. So then I kept seeing “Top nyx products” pins on pinterest and felt so much FOMO. It was bad. Needless to say, I got really excited when I found the nyx aisle in Rexall. I bought the new dark circle concealer/corrector, the skinny black liner, and the jumbo lip pencil in Pecan, which is basically nude on me. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

ALSO The Body Shop went nuts and had one of their crazy sales again (woohoo!), so I was able to pick up their mineral powder foundation for $3. All they had were three tins of the one shade left. I took a gamble on it and GUESS WHAT KIDS, THAT’S MY SHADE. I basically died from sheer happiness.

Takeaway: I’m fairly easy to please.

Here’s a fun little instagram pic I arranged, because we all love those and I wanted to feel like one of those cool famous beauty bloggers:

Feelin’ fancy.

Anyway, down to the first impressions:

Real Techniques buffer brush: it’s super soft, even more so than my Sonia ones that I occasionally rave about to friends. The other brushes in the kit are the same in that sense. I often see these brushes in celebrity beauty bloggers’ instagrams or vlogs so I’m really looking forward to using these. I tried this with my Body Shop mineral powder foundation today and it looked almost airbrushed!! I’m super excited to try the rest of the brushes!

nyx Jumbo Lip Pencil in #719 Pecan: This lip pencil is so soft and buttery! I love the colour (it’s basically my nude lip colour to be honest). I love it with bold brows and minimal eye makeup. Very excited to use this in looks, coming soon 🙂

nyx Dark Circle Concealer/Correcter: This concealer is super orangey, which is supposed to cancel out the blue shadows under your eyes. I’ve tried it twice now and it’s done a bit for my ever-present hereditary dark circles, but it didn’t conceal them entirely. I think I might need a more yellow shade instead!

nyx Skinny Black Liner: This isn’t the most colour-intense liner I’ve seen, but it’s definitely smooth and easy to apply. I do like the skinny liner because it makes for a natural, barely-there, or buildable line. It’s perfect for tightlining. I’m looking forward to testing its staying power!

The Body Shop Mineral Powder Foundation: This isn’t really a first impression since I’ve been using this almost every day for about a year and a half, but hey: this is my absolute favourite sheer powder. It provides sheer, even coverage that smooths over blemishes. Combined with the Real Techniques brush, it looks almost airbrushed!! I love it!! The first time I bought it, it was on sale for $5, and I fell in love right away (I actually think this product might have been the kickstart to my love affair with the brand itself!). One tin has lasted me a year and a half now and I still have a bit left.

Urban Decay Naked 2 Basics eyeshadow palette: six soft, buttery, colour-rich, matte neutral shades? Count me in. I’ve been longing for this palette for a while!! I’m not as into the shimmer shades that come with the full size palette, and the price tag is a little large ($62 here!) so the basics with just the mattes for $34 was perfect for me. I love the colours and I’m very excited to try the looks I’ve been pinning for so long!

Benefit They’re Real trial-size mascara, black: The wand looks similar to the Flower by Drew Barrymore 3-in-1 mascara wand when it’s straight, which I love and use every day. Since buying this about a week ago, I’ve used it every day, and it’s honestly my new favourite! My lashes stay soft, curled, and not clumpy at all!

Benefit They’re Real Push-Up Liner, black: This was suchhhh an impulse buy (I honestly probably have like twelve different black liners already), but I did want to try it out. So far it seems smooth, intense, and it doesn’t seem to move around, which is definitely a plus!

All in all: I feel very good about this neutral-themed haul and can’t wait to show you some looks created with these products. Stay tuned!

With love,
Holly

Sonia Kashuk Brushes Review: My New Favourite!

Hi everyone!

So my sisters bought me this set of double-ended brushes from Sonia Kashuk for my birthday a while ago, and I’ve been recommending them to friends ever since. I figured it’s probably time I told the rest of the world too! 🙂

The set I have is called the Sonia Kashuk Double Duty Brush Set, which is currently retailing at $23.79 on the Target US website. They look like this (pic taken from the website as well):

The first brush has a blush end (top) and a stippling brush (bottom). The second one has a foundation end on top and a concealer end on the bottom. The third brush has an eyeshadow crease end at the top, and the bottom end is an eyeshadow blending brush. The fourth brush has an eyebrow comb on top and an angled liner brush on the bottom end. The set also includes a case.

I actually love these brushes. They are so soft! They apply everything so smoothly and they hold makeup fairly well so doing your makeup isn’t messy. I also just love the look of them—they look so classy and expensive to me!!

My favourites are definitely the stippling brush, concealer end, and angled liner brush. I use the stippling brush every day to apply my favourite mineral foundation (The Body Shop). While I was fairly happy before using my e.l.f. all-over face brush for this, the Sonia Kashuk brush just blends everything so flawlessly. You literally can’t even tell that I’m wearing makeup when I use the SK brush.

The concealer brush is another fave because it holds product so well. You only really need a tiny bit because the brush controls it really well. It makes it really easy to blend and pat concealer well for a flawless finish!

The angled liner brush is amazing for when you want a softer eyeliner look. I often get this brush a little damp (not wet!) and then stick it in some black eyeshadow and draw a line that way. It’s softer than pencil or liquid liner and significantly easier to blend, but you can get a really precise line using this brush too!

The only bad thing I have to say about them is that I don’t know how to store them properly. Because they are double ended, they don’t work with the rest of my brushes, which I store standing up in a glass jar on my dresser (so pretty!). I can’t do that with these because I don’t want to ruin the ends, so I just have them in a drawer, which sucks because they’re so classy looking and I’d love to showcase them on my dresser. 🙁

All in all, I love these brushes so so so much. They’re amazing for everything from application to precise lines to blending. They truly give a flawless finish and they will really upgrade your makeup game!

Also: shoutout to my sisters for their awesome find and introducing me to this brand! I love having sisters that love makeup as much as I do! <3

With love,
Holly

Tip: How to Find the Best Cheap Brushes!

Hi all,

Today’s tip focuses on brushes! Brushes are essential to proper makeup application, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune at Sephora (even though I wish I could!). It’s very possible—and quite easy—to find quality brushes for super low prices!

I do like my e.l.f. brushes. They’re fairly decent quality and ridiculously cheap. I can usually find some at the dollar store (I find that Dollarama always has them for $1-3), and they also have craft/paint brushes, which have always worked fairly well for me.

I freaking love Target because they carry a wide variety of e.l.f. products, which are so hard to find in Canada, and I’m sketchy about ordering online because I find that e.l.f. is so iffy…usually it’s awesome, but sometimes the pigment sucks or it’s broken, so I like being able to see the product before I buy it. Target is slightly more expensive than the dollar store (e.l.f. brushes are $4 each here), yes, but there’s a lot more variety for sure.

Forever21 can actually be quite good for makeup tools. I picked up a 5 pack of brushes a while ago for $4.80, and they’re pretty nice!! Mine are a lot stiffer than the ones I have from e.l.f. though, so I generally like to use the Forever21 ones for application and the e.l.f. ones for blending. Love love love it.

So to recap:
1. Dollar stores for craft brushes and potentially e.l.f. stuff
2. Target for e.l.f. brushes
3. Forever21, H&M, and the likes

Shoot me an email or comment below to tell us where you find cheap, good quality brushes!

With love,
Holly

DIY: How to Make Bioré Pore Strips More Effective

I love love love the idea of pore strips, and ripping all the gunk out from my nose. When I first bought a pack of Bioré pore strips, I eagerly followed the instructions on the package and kept touching my nose and feeling the strip harden. I was so so so excited. I waited the full fifteen minutes (which was not easy!), and then ran to the mirror to peel it off and…

I could see a total of maybe three blackheads on the strip, and another three billion still on my nose.

K. Thanks, Bioré.

I was not impressed.

As with all products, I tried to not form an opinion on a single use, so I tried again, and again, and again. I went through almost the entire package in a week. Still nothing. What the heck?

With one strip left in the package, I found myself on a Pinterest witchhunt for anything that could make these dang strips live up to their reputation…..and I found it. Woohoo!

As it turns out, a quick baking soda soak (called a disincrustant solution) before you use the pore strip loosens all the grossness from your pores, so the strip adhesive can grab it and stick better. I originally found this method on YouTube via MichelleReneeBeauty.

I’ll give you the SparkNotes though: get about half a cup of very warm water (in between warm and hot…be careful, don’t use water that is hot enough to burn you!) in a small bowl and add some baking soda. Keep adding baking soda until it just stops dissolving when you stir it. That’s usually about half a tablespoon for me. Stir until it’s as dissolved as possible, then stick a cotton round pad in the solution. Squeeze excess solution out of the pad so that it’s still wet but not dripping. Stick it on your nose and leave it there for ten minutes or so. Resoak the cotton pad if it dries out.

After the ten minutes are up, take the pad off of your nose. Wet your nose with some more of the solution, then use the pore strip as directed.

If your face is like mine, the pore strip will be like a little forest when you take it off…so gross, but so satisfying! Once, my boyfriend found me in my room with a pore strip on, and I begged him to let me try one on his nose (his was worse than mine! Gotta love teenage acne that doesn’t go away). Now he’s hooked too.

I have heard that steaming your face before using a pore strip works as well, but I have not tried it myself. Additionally, the slower you take the strip off, the better—if you take it off too quickly, the glue adhesive stuff can stick to your face, not the strip, so no blackheads come out. 🙁

As always, please be careful with any new procedure, and ask a professional first. Best of luck!

With love,
Holly