Style: 2017 Backpack Picks

Apparently now that I’m going to graduate school I need to do things like study and carry around textbooks. I was very disappointed when I saw that my econ textbook is the standard gigantic and expensive disaster that you think of when you hear someone mention college textbooks. I still have my backpack from undergrad but I’m not all that interested in using it. It’s a trusty old North Face that I bought in 2009, and on day one I packed a yogurt which, of course, burst and flooded the front pocket with fruity goo.

Here are some of the backpacks that I’m interested in purchasing.

  • North Face Jester in Black: I like the idea of getting another North Face because I know that it will hold up. This one is small, but big enough for a laptop and textbooks, and the $65 price point is great.
  • Herschel Little America in Windsor Wine and Tan: I love Herschel backpacks. They started to become a thing when I was still in undergrad and I was really interested in getting one, but didn’t see the point since I was graduating. I think that this one is super pretty, but I am a little bit concerned about the lack of zippers.

  • Rebecca Minkoff Julian Velvet in Pink: I probably won’t buy this because it’s out of my budget, but the color is perfect and I’m amongst the many humans who are obsessed with velvet right now. A girl can dream!
  • Herschel Dawson in Black: Another neat option from Herschel. I love black fabric and leather together as well as the big pockets. Why are these bags so cute??

  • Vera Bradley Iconic Campus Backpack in Grey: Vera Bradley is one of my favorite brands but I haven’t been a fan of their patterns in recent years. I like this bag because Vera Bradley uses quality materials, and the neutral color scheme really stands out. This backpack is in my top three for 2017.
  • JanSport Cool Student in Black and Tan: As an older student, I have fond memories of JanSport bags. I remember suddenly noticing that everyone I knew had a JanSport bag and excitedly getting one the next year. Looking at them now I feel a little silly, especially since the price point is comparably low, but they bring back memories and they’ve been around for years, so they must be a trustworthy brand.

Do you think you’ll purchase one of these bags? Do you have a go-to brand at back to school time? I am so excited to make this decision!

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Roubidoux Spring Path Missouri Ozarks

Adventure Travel: Missouri Ozarks Roubidoux Spring

Prior to the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse, I met my family at a hotel in St Robert, Missouri. We found a really nice hotel for only $50 a night, perfect for a quick stay. We arrived around 6pm and wanted to explore the area a little bit. Since St Robert is in the Missouri Ozarks, I googled trails in the area to see what our options were. I saw that Roubidoux Spring was less than a ten minute drive away, so we decided to check it out.

We arrived to find a nice sized stream. It had rained a bunch in recent days so that water levels were high. The water was brown with random bursts of blue/green that were beautiful. We read the signs and found out that the stream was part of the path of the Trail of Tears, and that it is a prominent location for trout fishing.

Roubidoux Spring

Roubidoux Spring Missouri Ozarks

The path from the parking area to the spring was short. I was a little disappointed because I wanted to walk more after being in the car all day, but the path itself was beautiful. In the following picture you can clearly see how blue/green the water was. I had a weird realization that the water, trees, and current reminded me about a place that I had dreamed about.

Roubidoux Spring Path Missouri Ozarks

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Above is a picture of the spring when we first arrived. We touched the water and were surprised by how cold it is. It maintains a temperature below 60 degrees in the summer. Since it was so hot in Missouri (90-100 degrees and SO HUMID every day) we decided to head back to the hotel and grab our swim suits. The picture below is an accurate representation of the color of the spring when we returned.

Roubidoux Spring Missouri Ozarks

Getting in the water was a bit difficult because of how cold it was, but we had a really great time.

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We met a nice little kid (you can see him at the end of the video) who told us that although the signs suggested otherwise, it was “completely safe” to jump in. Jumping into the water was an incredible experience because the force of the spring pushed you right back up to the top and out of the way.

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In the above photo you can see the mist rising up from the water, since it was about 30 degrees cooler than the air.

We had an amazing experience at Roubidoux Springs and I can’t wait to return to the Missouri Ozarks.

Travel: Ledges State Park, Iowa

I was in the mood to do some hiking last week while I was in Iowa and one of my friends suggested we take a trip to Ledges State Park. I grew up close to Ledges, and even went to girl scout camp about a minute away, but had never been to the park before. I didn’t know what to expect but we had a great experience.

The first thing we saw was a swampy area.

Ledges State Park Swamp

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I personally love areas like this, as long as they don’t smell. Fortunately, this one was all good. AND there was a lovely surprise! If you look closely at the picture, you can see dozens of tiny cricket frogs sticking out of the algae.

Swamp with frogs

The following is another section of the same pond. If you look to the left of the big branch, you can see little froggie heads sticking up.

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Next we walked to the “secret lake” – not really sure how a giant green swamp is a secret, but it was lovely. Here is a pic of my friend Mikey, the wonderful guy who took me to Ledges.

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Now, the secret lake ended up being one of the best experiences of my entire life. The entire shore was covered in bull frogs and cricket frogs, so every time we moved a dozen would hop into the water.

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You can see some of the frogs in the photo above if you look closely. There aren’t as many close to the camera, but if you look further out you can see just how many were on the shore.

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This next one really worried me. Wasn’t sure if it was a monstrosity or a normal development. Apparently it’s a polliwog. I thought that was a Pokemon, but my friend explained that she is actually a scientist and its a mix between tadpole and frog.

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I never wanted to leave that area, but apparently since we were at Ledges State Park we were required to see the actual ledges.

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Here is Mike being an ~expert~ hiker. He even has a backpack with a water pouch!

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Here is me. I’m a normal hiker. I put lipstick on before hitting the trails.

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The view of the Des Moines river was quite lovely.

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This next ledge was a little terrifying. Normally I would have been a daredevil and tried to hop onto it, but apparently some guy died doing that this summer and I wasn’t super interested in following in his footsteps.

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I loved the park and had a great experience, especially the jumping frogs. What is the coolest thing that you’ve seen at a state park?

Product Review: Activated Charcoal Konjac Sponge

Getting packages in the mail is the highlight of my life. I love getting things because I often forget what I’ve ordered by the time it arrives, so it’s exciting to find out what’s inside. This time I received a konjac sponge to try out for my blog – I enjoy using konjac sponges and wanted to try one out with activated charcoal.

Amazon shipment

The konjac sponge arrived wrapped as they usually do. It was completely solid and I was a bit taken aback when I opened it because it has a strong unpleasant scent. I am very sensitive to smell though so I’m not sure that it would bother anyone else.

New Conjac Sponge

I was happy to see that this sponge included the string for hanging and that the sponge itself was larger than most I have tried. It’s not gigantic, but it is slightly bigger than most.

Charcoal Conjac Sponge

Next I took it to the bathroom to get it wet. The sponge softened quickly after running it under the tab. The smell did not linger – I took a huge whiff and there was nothing unpleasant.

Wet Conjac Sponge

After using it on my face I can safely report that this is a great purchase. I recently moved so most of my things are in random locations and hard to find. I haven’t been able to exfoliate my skin chemically for a while, and I will keep this hanging in the shower so that I can do so physically each morning. The sponge is nice and soft so it does not irritate your skin when you use it, and it leaves your skin feeling clean and fresh.

Have you ever used a konjac sponge before? Are you interested in trying one out but have questions? Let me know and I’ll try to answer as best I can 🙂

Pool floats I’m dying to own

I’m not sure about you guys, but I didn’t notice pool floats become a thing. But I’m super happy that they are. Summer is 2/3 of the way over (cringe) but it’s not too late to buy a pool float. You could even stock up for next year.

These are the floats that I would buy if a) I had extra spending money b) I had consistent pool access.

1. The New Classic
Tried and true, these pool floats are amazing. A couple of weeks ago we went up to my friend’s cabin and had a great time floating around in these. The best part? They have cupholders.

2. Deceptively Delicious Donut Float

I never knew badly I wanted to float around on a donut until I had the opportunity to float around on a donut. This is something that everyone needs to have on hand if they’re planning to spend time in the water.

3. A Pizza Paradise

Speaking of tasty, I don’t think anything has ever looked as delicious as my boyfriend floating around on a giant piece of pizza. Nom nom!

4. Glorious Beautiful Peacock

If you’re not afraid of being upstaged by a beautiful plastic water float, you need this peacock raft. It is probably the most beautiful thing that you will ever sit on.

5. Don’t forget about your pupper!

If you’re lucky enough to have a doggo that will put up with bullshit, you absolutely need to purchase them a pool float. There is nothing better than lounging in the water with your best friend. Just don’t forget that their claws are sharp!

Last but not least.. Invest in an air pump. Seriously. I tried to blow up one of the donut floats and nearly died. I took breaks and kept coming back to it, only to find it completed deflated. Buy an air pump. Trust me.

What cute summer pool float are you dying to add to your collection of very important must have objects?

Review: Tony Moly Super Peeling Liquid Shiny Foot

One of my favorite Asian beauty products is the Tony Moly Super Peeling Liquid Shiny Foot. This product helps remove all of the dead skin from your feet and is absolutely disgusting but also complete magic. I have done a foot peel twice and have been very happy with the results both times. If you’re someone who has stubborn dead skin during the winter, I highly recommend trying this product out.

Tony Moly Super Peeling Liquid

The product comes packed neatly in a nice square box, about the size of a DVD case.

Tony Moly Super Peeling Liquid Contents

Inside you’ll find two packets of “super peeling liquid,” a sample-sized packet of the Tony Moly Shiny Foot foot cream, and two plastic booties.

Tony Moly Foot Peel Process

In order to use the product, you slip the booties on your feet and then pour in the peeling liquid. After you pour it in, you can tie the booties tight around your ankles to prevent any of the product from leaking.

Tony Moly Foot Peel Wraps

The liquid feels very cold when you pour it over your feet. Though it’s cold, the liquid does not hurt or tingle. It’s important that you keep the booties on for at least 30 minutes so that the liquid can soak into your skin. The booties fit my feet perfectly, and I am a US size 9. Because they have ties, the booties will be able to adjust to fit different sized feet.

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Here is a picture of my heel before using the product.

Tony Moly Foot Peel

Here is a picture of my heel after my skin started peeling. This process does not hurt – though it does hurt if you pick/peel any skin that is not ready to come off. The areas that are white tend to be ready to go and the areas that are more skin colored are not quite ready to be removed. It’s always a fun surprise when you look down and suddenly big chunks of your skin are falling off.

It takes about a week for the skin to start peeling, and the length of time that it peels is unique to each person. If you have an event or know that you will be showing off your feet, I would give yourself at least two weeks from start to finish so that you do not terrify anyone.

All-in-all, I really enjoy this Tony Moly product. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to try out a foot peel or a unique product. I am keeping a couple of them on hand so that I can take care of my feet whenever a disaster strikes. Since I can’t keep my feet smooth on my own, it’s nice to know that at least there is a product out there that will turn the situation around.

Review: Mediheal AirGuard Foilab Sheet Mask

I was very excited to try out this sheet mask – not only is it super cool and unique, but it is the first asian beauty item that I have received for free in order to try out and review on my blog. I entered a contest on Mishe Beauty to try out several different products and was really excited when the company emailed to let me know that I had been selected to try out the Mediheal AirGuard Foilab Sheet Mask.

The product arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. I was very under the weather so I wasn’t able to review it right away, and I finally got the chance to do so today.

Mediheal Airguard Foilab Mask Silver Waterful

Right away I was really excited because I have never tried a foil mask before. I have seen a few pictures of them on the internet and had my fingers crossed that I would be able to try this one out. I was excited to see that it was “waterful” which means hydrating, because it is the middle of summer and I have been spending a lot of time in the sun. My skin needs all the hydrating it can  get.

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When I took the mask out of the packet I was surprised to see that it was in two pieces. I have been wanting to try a split mask for a while, but thought that I would need to cut one of my own in order to do so. Masks tend to fit my face pretty well so I haven’t needed to do it, but they never fit my boyfriend or my friends.

I was also very confused about how to put it on my face. I wasn’t sure if I needed to peel anything off, so I fumbled around with it for a while before I finally realized what to do.

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I had a lot of fun putting this on. I was not able to get off the couch so I did it blind and adjusted using my phone. I did think it was a bit of a strange fit and had a hard time straightening it out to try to make it look nice.

Sheet Mask Cute Girls

I enjoyed the fact that even looking super goofy I looked adorable.

silver sheet mask

I had a hard time looking cute in this mask, maybe because my hair was wet, but I did have a lot of fun trying it on and taking pictures. It’s very fancy and cute! I texted my boyfriend and he called me a beautiful robot.

I didn’t care much for the serum. It had the standard chemically smell that a lot of masks have and it started to sting my face after a few minutes. I was worried that I might have an allergic reaction, so I probably need to check out the ingredient list and see if there is anything in it that might have caused that reaction. My skin was fine when I took the mask off, but it was not the most enjoyable sheet mask experience I have had.

The mask does contain “70% Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate.” I hadn’t heard of this before but a quick google suggests that it is a fermented fungus and is very common in asian skincare products. Apparently it is very good at moisturizing and locking that moisture in.

One of the coolest things about it is that the silver side felt dry, but when I took it off my skin was very moist from the serum. The material kept the moisture in so that it would absorb rather than evaporate.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed trying out this mask. The main draw is how cute and unique it is, but the mask itself was pretty nice. If you’d like to try it out feel free to check out the Mishe Beauty website. You can also apply for any of their ongoing campaigns and maybe receive a product to try yourself.

Do you think you’ll try one of these masks out? Do you have any other questions? I still want to try the gold version, it’s so beautiful!

My Favorite Blogs

Before I started blogging I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the blogging community. I had a photoblog back in the 2000s where I posted dozens of pictures of what I was doing every day, and I’ve started various small blogs for specific purposes, but nothing all-encompassing or long lasting. I also have not spent a lot of time visiting websites on the internet outside of social media / reddit / personal finances the last couple of years.

Now that I have this blog and can appreciate the amount of dedication it takes to have a blog and post in it regularly, I’ve been making sure to peruse my friends blogs on a regular basis. Here are a few that I visit + some comments on what I like about them.

#1 SkinnedCartree – My friend Corinne runs a UK Lifestyle blog. She makes a TON of money blogging and does such a great job with social media engagement. She is truly an inspiration. I love her blog because she combines practical information with product reviews and other goodies. She posts daily and I always love stopping by to see what she’s been up to.

Favorite Post: Postcode Pride – Corinne recently posted about the absolutely beautiful city of Bath in the UK. I recently visited in April and was just in love. It should be on everyone’s bucket list.

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Corinne and I loving each other at the Louvre in 2008

#2 Champagne Taste – Sarah recently started a fashion/lifestyle blog and I am so excited about it. I know nothing about fashion other than the fact that I really love everything Khloe Kardashian wears and I can’t afford any of it. Life is really hard. Sarah’s blog is full of tips on how to find quality items at decent prices. I’m looking forward to utilizing these tips when I have an income again after grad school!

Favorite Post: Why You Need It: the Louis Vuitton Speedy Bag – I actually really need this bag now. Thanks a lot, Sarah! This was one of her first posts and it was very persuasive, she’s definitely going to do great things with her blog.

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This is the only picture of me and Sarah that isn’t terribly embarrassing.

#3 Inspo & Co – I have never really talked to Katrina about her blog so she might be surprised by this mention, but I absolutely love it. Everything that Katrina does is so beautiful and I find her work very inspiring. From body positivity to vibrant and colorful photos, her blog is a visual treat. Side note, Katrina used to pick up books from the library I worked at and I’ve always thought we should be better friends because everything she checked out was something I loved.

Favorite Post: L. Feminine Hygiene Products are the Bomb – I like this post because we need more real talk about tampons. I’m currently using Lola but it’s a bit of a pricey service, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking this product out. I had no idea there was something so neat and affordable at Target. This is why we need bloggers!

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Katrina and I don’t have a lot of pics together.. But we’re both in this one!

If you have a blog that you want me to check out, let me know! I’d love to learn more about your interests!

Read Your Face Off Feature

A few weeks ago I joined a summer reading group called “Read Your Face Off.” It’s a really cool group organized by a woman here in Madison and a lot of my politically active friends are members. I was inspired to join because I’ve had trouble finishing books this year and joining has now helped me finish two.

I emailed the creator of the group last week to ask a question and she asked me if I wanted to be the featured reader. I typed up answers to a few questions and thought they would be fun to share here, too.

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What do you think? Agree? Disagree? What are your reading goals for summer? Have you read any good books lately? Tell me all your thoughts 🙂

My Favorite Podcasts: Summer 2017

One of the first posts I made when I started my blog last year was My Favorite Podcasts: Summer 2016. At the time I had been listening to podcasts for just a few months and found them really helpful when trying to complete mountains of data entry at work. I’ve now been listening to podcasts for over a year and they help me get through a lot more than data entry; I listen to podcasts during long car rides, while mowing the lawn, sorting laundry, and anything else mundane that allows my brain to be mostly somewhere else.

I am not including the podcasts that were listed on my previous post because my opinion of them is still the same, they are amazing.

3. Modern Love: I really like this podcast because it explores unconventional relationships. Each episode features a celebrity guest reading a story that was written for the Modern Love column in the New York Times. One of the reasons that I like this podcast is that I never know what to expect, the stories reflect our relationships in that they are all varied and intricate. I’m rarely bored when I listen to this podcast and I especially like when they contact the author for follow-up.

Favorite Episode: A Child of Two Worlds. In this story, a mom had to make a tough choice about giving birth. The mother had to decide whether or not to give birth in a third world country without a lot of pre-natal resources or any options for emergency assistance should anything go wrong. It was neat to hear about the care offered to the expecting mom and made me wonder what I would do in a similar situation.

2. Radiolab Presents: More Perfect:  This would be my all time favorite podcast if there were more episodes. I absolutely loved listening to this. The podcast takes prominent Supreme Court cases and explains how they have impacted our judicial system and every day lives. While it sounds nerdy and probably is a little bit, it’s fascinating to hear the intricacies behind cases that have affected our lives in ways we don’t even realize.

Favorite Episode: Object Anyway. This episode bummed me out. It discusses Batson v. Kentucky, the case that led to the creation of the Batson Rule. The Batson Rule is a court rule that doesn’t allow attorneys to remove jurors based on race. This sounds wonderful but they explain in the podcast that all the attorneys have to do is give another excuse as to why they don’t want that person to be on the panel. The world is frustrating.

1. Criminal: I started listening to this podcast last month and have made it through 40 episodes. This podcast is actually perfection. There has only been one episode that I have found boring and every other episode has been engaging. It’s another podcast where I never know what to expect and find myself super interested in something I never knew was a thing. I have to admit – I thought the first episode was boring and it stopped me from listening to more right away. If you don’t like it, skip it and keep going. It’s worth it!

Favorite Episode: No Place Like Home. This episode talks about a man who went to prison and found out that the prison was also home to the last remaining leper colony in the US. Many of the people who lived there were dropped off as children and left there for years and years. It’s really sad to think about how we have treated anyone who is at all “different” in the US and was a very eye opening episode.

There you go! My top three podcasts right now.

What are you listening to? I’m always looking for new suggestions.