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?

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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 ūüôā

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.

Top 5 things I want to do for myself this summer

I recently posted a list of the top five things I want to do this summer, but while I was putting it together I kept thinking of things I wanted to do for myself. I do a fairly good job of taking care of myself and my goals, but it never hurts to outline them and put some extra work into holding myself accountable.

1. Break even on my net worth: Between my student loans, car loan, travel habits, and regular monthly bills, I have not been able to break even on my net worth for years. I am currently sitting at a net worth around -$4,000, which is a big improvement over this time last year (-$12,000). While I’m proud of the work that I’ve put in to lowering my debt and saving for the future, I want to start grad school on a positive note financially. You know, before plunging tens of thousands of dollars into debt again.

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2. Lose 15 pounds: When will it not be a goal to lose 15 pounds? This goal is important to me because I love being active and fit and want to continue on a positive path toward good health.

3. Spend more time with friends: I am very lucky to have so many wonderful friends, both near and far. Unfortunately, I rarely spend time with them. It is way too easy to hang out with the people I see on a daily basis and not put any effort in to spending time with the majority of the people I care about. I would like to spend time with at least one friend each week who is not a part of my normal day-to-day routine.

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Recent extremely enjoyable friend time.

4. Read a book: I am the absolute worst. I love reading, I request dozens of books from the library, and I have only finished a few so far this year. It’s unacceptable. I need to pick up a book and read it from start to finish.

5. Prepare for doing well in school: I want to be successful in grad school, so I need to do everything I can this summer to start off on a good foot. I would like to attend all of the grad school events that are scheduled this summer, buy some super adorable school supplies, figure out bus routes and class locations, and make sure that I do suuuppperrr well in my summer stats class.

What are some of the things that you would like to do this summer? How possible do you think they are, and what do you need to get you there?

OH I almost forgot – I have a goal of taking my dogs on a walk/to the dog park once a week. I don’t currently live with them but they are so happy when we go out together. I need to make sure this is a thing all summer long.

Review: Tony Moly I’m Real Broccoli Sheet Mask (Vitality)

During a recent trip to New York City, I googled Korean Beauty shops and found out that there was a Tony Moly in Chinatown. I was super excited because I’ve never been to a KBeauty shop for a single brand. I bought a bunch of stuff but the highlight of the shop was being able to pick and choose sheet masks instead of being required to buy a huge pre-determined pack.¬†One of the ones that I was most interested in trying was the I’m Real Broccoli Mask Sheet – Vitality. Not necessarily because of any specific benefits, mostly because of the broccoli. When is the last time you put broccoli on your face?

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I was very excited to open the mask up because until now, I’ve only used floral masks or masks with snail/bee essence. I had no idea what to expect. Would it smell like broccoli?¬†I hoped not, but I prepared myself in case it did.

Fortunately it did not smell like broccoli or any other green veggies. It had a nice smell, similar to other Tony Moly masks. It’s a bit hard to describe the scent but it’s not too different from your generic pleasant sheet mask chemical smell.

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The mask itself was the same quality as the other Tony Moly masks I’ve used. Slightly flimsy and see through, but not flimsy enough that it tore apart while opening.¬†These masks fit my face really well (except for my inner eye/nose bridge area) so they’re one of my personal faves.

I kept the mask on for about a half hour and enjoyed the results. There wasn’t so much liquid left that I felt like it was a waste, but there was still some essence left to pat in.¬†All in all, the mask itself was not groundbreaking but I felt like I got my money’s worth.

Here is a list of ingredients from Ulta, in case you’re curious:¬†Water, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, PEG/PPG-17/6 Copolymer, Panthenol, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil Chlorphenesin, Xanthan Gum, Phenoxyethanol, Phenoxyethanol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Brassica Oleracea Italica (Broccoli) Extract, Carbomer, 1-2Hexanediol, Propanediol, Tromethanmine, Brassica Oleracea Capitata (Cabbage) Leaf Extract, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Capryly Glycol, Illicium Verum (Anise) Fruit Extract, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Fragrance, Ascorbic Acid

In general, I recommend purchasing these masks. Of the masks I’ve tried they’re probably the best value – you definitely get your bang for your buck.

Have you tried any of the Tony Moly sheet masks? I would love to hear your thoughts and which masks you recommend from the I’m Real collection.

Click here to read about my nightly sheetmasking routine or click here to read about the best sheet masks to use if you want to scare your partner.

Best Sheet Masks to Scare Your Partner

A friend recently let me know that she was looking at my blog for sheet mask recommendations. I asked her which benefits she was looking for in a sheet mask, and she responded, “I just want something that will scare my boyfriend.” As someone who also enjoys scaring her boyfriend, I instantly had a few suggestions.

#1 For those of you who have never used a sheet mask, you are guaranteed to scare your partner¬†the first time you put one on, especially if you don’t forewarn them. That means you can use any sheet mask, even one of the basics. I am a big fan of the first sheet mask I ever used, the Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack. This mask uses snail and bee venom and is incredibly moisturizing. There are no acne triggers, and you can usually get a box of ten for a good price on Amazon.

#2 If you’re looking for a mask that is both cute and terrifying at the same time, I recommend the panda Character Mask by The Face Shop. This mask works well and is meant to be adorable, but definitely has a creepy factor. I put this on expecting to find myself completely adorable but really just felt like the Joker.

#3 For those of you who have boyfriends who have already seen you in masks, or for those of you who really want to scare the pants off your boyfriend the first time they see you in a mask, I recommend the zombie Pure Smile Special Effects Makeup Art Mask. (If you make an account here to order this product, ask me for a referral. We both benefit.) This mask was gifted to me by a lovely friend. I unfortunately decided to give it to my boyfriend and did not get to experience the joy of terrorizing him with it, but I loved watching him put it on. My boyfriend has a giant beard most of the time so it looked like his skin was literally falling off. It was lovely.

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Are you terrorized?

Have you used a mask that has terrified yourself or a loved one? I’d love to see pictures or have you send your recommendations!

I finally purchased jenrazzle.com!

Good news! I finally decided to purchase my own domain and am now the proud owner of jenrazzle.com!! I decided to purchase this domain for a number of reasons, but mainly because it’s a firm commitment toward continuing to grow my blog.

Why Jenrazzle? Because it’s been my username since I started using the internet and brings up lovely memories of Jenrazzle + Kandazzle. Since my name is so common, it’s really nice to have a unique username that allows me to find myself on the internet.. and doesn’t cause me any struggle¬†whenever I need¬†to try to remember a log in. If you do a google of jenrazzle¬†you’re going to find links to all of my things. Fortunately, I learned at an early age that everything is saved on the internet, so nothing too embarrassing is linked to a search of jenrazzle. Let me know if you find anything good. Maybe don’t go through my reddit history. I promise not to go through yours.

Why blogging? Why not. I have a lot of time to kill, I like things, I like sharing my opinions, and I love getting feedback/recommendations based on my current interests. Blogging is a great way to do¬†all of the above. It’s also a great¬†side-hustle and registering a domain is a key step in monetizing a blog. While I don’t plan to make a ton of money, it would be nice if blogging became¬†a habit that could support itself.

So what did I spend? I did very little research and ended up buying the wordpress.com premium package which includes a domain name for $99/year. I have no idea whether or not it will be worth it, but I now have a goal of making $99 through my blog in 2017.

Registering my domain/creating a premium account did give me the option of enabling “wordads.” I don’t know what this is, but I chose to enable it to see what kind of profit it will generate. If you happen to notice it and think it’s annoying, please let me know so that I can reconsider.

Mostly this has been on my mind, but I did not put a lot of thought into it. If anything, I spent $99 that I won’t get back and crossed something off my bucket list.

Have you ever thought about starting a blog or registering your own domain? Have you already done so successfully? Please pass along any words of wisdom on this topic or feel free to ask any questions that you might have.

In the meantime, feel free to check out the homepage of my blog in order to get a list of my general interests.

 

 

Product Review: HiSmile Day 1

Man, it really sucks when you see a picture of you and a friend and your eyes are drawn to the fact that their teeth are noticeably whiter than yours. I have never been able to whiten my teeth. I remember buying Crest white strips for the first time as a teenager, and leaving them on even though it felt like I was chewing on tinfoil. I wasn’t brave enough to continue to regimen, so my teeth never got whiter, but every few years I would try them out again with the same results.

I haven’t heard much about HiSmile but a couple of weeks ago I was talking to a friend who mentioned that they were good for sensitive teeth. Later that night Kylie Jenner posted on SnapChat that the product was 50% off, so I decided to buy a kit.

The package showed up in the mail yesterday. It took about two (maybe three) weeks to get here. I think it came from Australia? Not 100% sure because I had someone else do the ordering for me, but it says AirMail. I was super amused to see that I am apparently a company called “What Up Jenn” in 2017.

The kit comes with three pens full of gel, a mouth piece, and a UV light. It also comes with a “how it works” note that explains how to use the product and a tool that allows you to measure the shade of your teeth before starting use.

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I think my teeth are about a seven. This isn’t the best light, but the photo is unedited.

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After measuring my tooth color, I pieced together the product and put it in my mouth. I pushed the button, and voila! It wasn’t terribly difficult to figure out, and the product wasn’t strange to use. I waited the full ten minutes and could see a bit of a shade difference immediately after, though not anything significant. I could definitely see the calciums in my teeth that had whitened up.

While it wasn’t pain free, the pain was only on the top of my two upper front teeth and was gone before bedtime. I am a little nervous about that and I’m hoping it doesn’t get worse as the week goes on.

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Selfie! I was simultaneously wearing a charcoal nose strip which was terrible and not at all worth reviewing.

Please let me know if you have any questions! I’m not sure if there are any referral bonuses for this product, but if you decide to buy let me know so I can look. It’s always nice for us all if we can get discounts!

Answer: What is sheet masking?

Last summer, a friend of mine introduced me to Asian beauty. She did so by linking me to the Asian beauty subreddit and it quickly became my new obsession. Since I had been having a difficult time with my skin, I decided to take a look at the products that were available.

I’m always interested in trying something cute and new, and Asian beauty products are certainly that. I began to research products that were specifically designed to help with acne, or products that would at least not make my sensitive skin any worse than it already was.

The first thing that I did was build a basic routine. Asian beauty experts recommend waiting at least two weeks between introducing new products, so I would order a new product every two weeks on payday. The products generally range from $10-25 so it was nice to break up the spending and take advantage of Amazon Prime shipping.

One of the first products that I ordered was a set of sheet masks. If you are someone who has wondered why I post photos of myself on Snapchat or Instagram with white sheets over my face, this is the reason. Sheet masks are thin paper masks that are soaked in an “essence” that works to specifically improve one or more¬†aspects of your skin. Some of the common skin concerns are acne, moisturizing, aging, and whitening (which really means brightening.)

My first purchase was a ten pack of the Benton Snail Bee High Content Sheet Masks. I was excited to try the masks, although I was a little worried that the mask would react with a bee allergy that I’m not 100% sure I still have. I ordered the masks and when they arrived, I thought about patch testing but decided to just throw one on my face¬†because.. You only live once, right?

Fortunately, there was no reaction and I really loved the mask. While I will admit that¬†I’ve never had noticeable effects from the use of a single mask, I always enjoy the relaxation time that comes after applying a fresh mask. I especially enjoyed my family’s reaction to seeing me in a mask the first time, but I was a little bit heartbroken¬†when my dogs weren’t at all spooked my new look.

All-in-all, sheet masks are a fun adventure. It is important to find masks that work with your skin concerns, and the Asian beauty subreddit (plus the internet!) can help you find the products that are right for you.