Saturday, December 31, 2016

What Did I Accomplish In 2016?

This is the cake from my graduation party, but I think it also works nicely as an overall congrats for getting through 2016.
If you're new around here, you might not know about my yearly to do lists. For the past four years or so, instead of creating blanket New Year's resolutions, I make a to do list about forty points long to accomplish throughout the year. As you can see below, some are as simple as learning how to cook something (which I clearly didn't do, oops) or to more long term goals like drinking more water. I set out each year to try to accomplish as many of these goals as possible, usually with the underlying goal of sticking to them. 2016 was the year of making lifestyle and personal changes, regarding how I treat others and how I treat myself. I'm pretty proud of the progress I've made this year and I'm excited to see what my 2017 list looks like!

1. Compliment somebody everyday
2. Get new makeup organizers I just can't find ones big enough to store my collection. Perhaps when I downsize...if I ever do that
3. Go to New York City for spring break
4. Graduate in December
5. Get another 4.0 I got a 3.94 and I'm trying really hard not to be bitter about that single A-
6. Read one new book each month
7. Wear everything in your closet at least once. Donate anything that you don't wear. - I've cleaned out my closet about six or seven times this year!
8. Go to one new spot in Cleveland every month - Failed. I'm not nearly adventurous enough.
9. Keep the frivolous purchases to a minimum. Start saving your money! - To an extent...
10. Apply for an internship
11. Learn how to actually cook a meal!!!
12. No more drinking coffee at night - This one is the one I wanted to do the most and I can happily say that I haven't had coffee at night since...I don't even know when. November?
13. Stay hydrated!
14. Start sleeping more - Again, to an extent
15. Get your body moving! Start exercising again!
16. Buy yourself your first legal drink
17. Be even more organized.
18. Attempt NaNoWriMo (preferably complete it)
19. Invest in a pair of staple black heels
20. See a Cleveland Cavaliers game - I went to two games and the championship parade!
21. Go on a road trip - hello, Cape Cod and Boston!
22. Focus on skincare! It's time to demolish that acne once and for all.
24. Think more about that fashion program, if you want. No pressure. -  I made the executive decision that I was definitely done with school for now. Well, after this fall semester.
27. Focus more on friendships.
28. Give out lots of hugs to those deserving of them.
29. Pet lots of puppies.
30. Survive the first year of One Direction's hiatus
31. Make a bomb a$$ Halloween costume (yes, even better than the last minute Pumpkin Spice Latte)
32. Finish the gallery wall you set out to create and only have two prints for
33. Remember that time you said you wouldn't drink coffee at night? SERIOUSLY DON'T DO IT.
34. Get better at remembering to respond to text messages. Stop disappearing!!! You are not a magician!!
35. Remember, just because you're finished with Spanish academically, doesn't mean you should stop caring about it. Continue to practice!!!
36. Improve this blog.
37. Go to the beach at least once so you can solidly your hatred for it
38. Start going to the pier again! It's your favorite spot in Cleveland and one day very soon you will not be able to visit anymore!
39. Be kinder
40. Be positive.

Friday, December 30, 2016

16 Favorite Blog Posts from 2016

I made a post like this last year where I talked about my favorite posts from the previous year. As I post daily content on here, it's hard to narrow down between 365+ posts, but there are some just standout more to me than others. Perhaps they were more meaningful, perhaps they mentioned my ride or die Elle Woods. Whatever the reasoning was, I narrowed down my favorite posts from 2016, just incase you missed them!
  1. My College Timeline
  2. 21 Things I've Learned In 21 Years
  3. Social Media's Effects on the Fashion Industry
  4. Diversity in Fashion: Stats
  5. #InternationalWomensDay
  6. Seven Things That Elle Woods Taught Me
  7. Festival FOMO
  8. Getting a "Bikini Body"
  9. Glossier Generation G Lipsticks
  10. If I Was a Vlogger...
  11. 1000th Post
  12. Positivitea Cup Thirteen: Facing Beauty Standard Fears
  13. The Importance of #GirlPower
  14. Fall Skincare Routine (Featuring Clarisonic Mia 2)
  15. I Don't Know 2.0
  16. Dragging Blog Posts From 2009

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Things I Loved In 2016

In true Thursday fashion, it's time to talk about the things I've been loving...with a twist. Just imagine that I'm wearing an stage costume similar to what Taylor Swift wore during her comeback performance of "Shake It Off" at the MTV VMAs in 2014 (which, I have seen in person at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and it's glorious), spinning around in circles whilst doing jazz hands. Instead of talking about what I've loved over the past week, which in reality has just been lounging around in bed and wearing pajamas all day, I'll be talking about what I've been loving over the course of the entire year. Yowza.

1. Hamilton

I first listened to the Hamilton OBCR over the summer after hearing just about one thousand different amazing things about it. I didn't realize that it was on Spotify, so I think it was sometime at the beginning of June when I first listened. I put it on during my drive from Cleveland to Buffalo and let me tell you...I cried. Like three times. And then when I listened to it all the way through again on the way back to Cleveland, I cried at the same exact parts. From then on, everything was Hamilton and nothing hurt.

2. Niall Horan

2016 was the first full year of One Direction's hiatus and it's been wild. I rave about Harry Styles all of the time on this blog, but I think it's time for some Irish loving. Earlier in the fall, Niall released his first solo single "This Town" and single-handedly destroyed my emotions. But every before then, Niall seemed to have the biggest glo-up of all time and I'm here for it. How much more endearing could a fake blonde with an Irish accent be? I'm looking forward to 2017 for many reasons, but knowing that there's more music to come from this adorable ray of sunshine is at the top of the list.

3. Batiste dry shampoo

2016 was the year of me not wanting to wash my hair. I started playing around with that every other day nonsense and now I'm hooked. The only thing that saves my hair on its second day is dry shampoo, more specifically the ones from Batiste. I've used plenty of dry shampoo and this is the only brand that consistently works well. Plus, it comes in so many different scents and all of them are incredible.

4. Gilmore Girls

This show will forever be a yearly favorite. Despite my disappointment in the revival, I still enjoyed rematching the show twice this year and I will cherish it forever in my heart. Oy with the poodles.

5. Atonement

This is one of the only books that I've read this year and it destroyed me emotionally. We can pretend that this book ruined all other books for me, which is why I read so few of them this year. That's my story and I'm sticking with it. I talked more about it in this post back in May, if you're interested!

6. Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara

I've tried plenty of mascaras over the years and no matter which ones I use in the interim, I always somehow go back to the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. I don't know why I even bother buying any others. Nothing ever compares to the thick, volumized lashes this mascara gives me. It can border onto clumpy if you're not careful applying it, but if you have a little patience, your lashes will never have looked better.

7. Lorac Pink Taupe

I still love myself some bold lip choices, but this was the year I wasn't afraid to start wearing more nude and neutral colors. I still refuse to buy new natural colors, though, so I've been wearing Pink Taupe from Lorac since I got it last year around the holidays because it's the perfect nude color for me. Plus, the formula smells amazing and never feels drying. What more could you want from a matte lip color?

8. Burberry Brit perfume

If I had a dollar for every time I talked about this perfume on my blog, I might be able to buy myself a new perfume. What can I say, it smells divine!

9. Zara everything

If I had to shop exclusively at Zara, I think I might be okay. I just think they have really fun, interesting and unique tops (along with really great basics!) at really great prices. I've been having fun expanding my wardrobe and comfort zone with some of their more standout but still neutral pieces, like the black ruffle sleeve sweater I featured in yesterday's post!

10. Macbook Air

I finally got a new computer after the people at Apple had told me for the past year to do just that. I ended up getting a 13 inch Macbook Air as an early graduation present at the beginning of the semester so I could actually bring my laptop places with me. I still use my ancient Macbook Pro as a desktop computer, especially since it's my computer that has Photoshop on it, but it's nice to have a laptop I can actually take to campus and work with me without weighing me down (or being insanely loud).

11. DNCE

My teenage heart came alive again this year when DNCE exploded all over the place. It's nice to have Joe Jonas back in my life, especially 2016 Joe Jonas in all of his ripped body glory.

12. Little Mix

Little Mix is the source of all of my #GirlPower and has been for the past few years. What would I do without these girls in my life? They're not even formally in my life, yet it feels like they're my best gal pals. I love them and their music and their friendship more than I could put into words. In case they're reading this: can I be your fifth member? Stunt double? I'll do anything.

13. Clarisonic Mia 2

I have a whole in-depth post about this, but I'm fully convinced that the Clarisonic is the reason why my skin isn't horrendous at the moment. I've tried to focus on my skincare this year, so having the opportunity to work with  Clarisonic on a post was an incredible experience.

14. Short(er) hair

I keep cutting my hair shorter and shorter. Though it has grown out quite a bit since the last time I chopped my locks, I love that I'm becoming more confident with shorter hair. I used to be afraid of not having mermaid hair anymore because it was my security blanket. So like, good job, Self, for realizing that hair isn't everything.

15. This Is Us

This could easily apply to both the NBC television show or One Direction's concert movie, both of which I've watched multiple times this year (and I've cried during both of them). But really, the show This Is Us is just incredibly heartwarming and makes me constantly cry and I'm completely okay with it. Those kind of TV shows just really get me. I loved family based television programming!!!!

16. Sleek highlighter palette

What better way to round off this 2016 favorites post than with a shoutout to my former roommate (is there any way to word this without it sounding like we kicked her out for something horrible...) for picking me up some wonderful beauty bits when she was in Europe over the summer. One of those was the Sleek Solstice highlighting palette, which changed my glow game. It's the only thing I bring with me when I come home because I have four amazing options for highlighters that will make my cheeks brighter than my future. I don't know what I will do when I run out of these powders, but it's not something that I want to think about.

What did you love in 2016?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Recent Outfits, Part Four

I call this outfit When Extended, This Turtleneck Is Almost As Long As the Sweater Itself also known as I Spent All Day Hiding In Said Turtleneck (And I Don't Regret it For a Second).

Sweater: Vince
Jeans: Joe's Jeans
Shoes: Zara

I call this outfit I Saw a Bunch of Fashion Bloggers Wear a Slinky Tank Top Over a Turtleneck, So I Tried Out a Tank Top Layered Over a Turtleneck also known as This Look Got a Few Weird Looks, But At Least People Thought I Was a Cool Fashion Student.

Sweater: Athleta
Tank top: Forever21
Jeans: American Eagle
Boots: Nine West

I call this look This Was Probably the First Time I Brushed My Hair In Weeks, So I Decided That a Nice Tweed Skirt Was Necessary also known as IT HAS POCKETS!!!!!

Sweater: Target
Skirt: Nanette Lepore (from Cleveland Consignment Shoppe)
Boots: Stuart Weitzman

I call this look I Still Don't Think I'm Cool Enough to Wear Sneakers, but I Tried Regardless also known as I Bought This Sweatshirt Because it Has Bows, But I Kept it Because I Don't Have to Wear a Bra.

Sweatshirt: Zara
Jeans: Joe's Jeans
Shoes: Bon-Ton

I call this look Ruffle Sleeved Sweaters Sound Good In Retrospect, Until It's Thirty Degrees and You Can't Wear a Jacket When You Walk to Campus also known as But at Least it's Cute Tho. 

Sweater: Zara
Jeans: American Eagle
Boots: Nine West

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Is New Year's Day An Arbitrary Date?

As a new year approaches, talk of resolutions resurfaces once again. I'm not entirely sure that a New Year's resolution really needs a definition or an introduction. They're just common knowledge in our society, an annual facet. They're our preemptive goals before a year starts, our "I wish I was ___" statements, the changes we want to see in ourselves. We make goals for our self-improvement, a promise to ourselves that we see a shift in some behavior during that year. New Year's Day has become what some may call and arbitrary date in our behavior shift, but is it really that arbitrary?

I remember writing really angsty Facebook statuses and tweets when I was a teenager about how stupid it was to create these resolutions on a "completely arbitrary" date year after year when none of them would get accomplished. What kind of pessimistic mindset is that? As I've grown older and have tried to grow out of that defeatist mentality, I've looked at New Year's Day as less of a date chosen at random and more as the start of a clean slate. I suppose it all has to do with perspective. I can't change somebody's perspective on a day of the year, but who knows.

What is wrong with people using the start of a New Year as a chance to start fresh or to make changes that they want to make in their life? Why be so bitter about a day that somebody looks forward to and treats with hope? If people want to use a new year as an opportunity to change, why would you try to stop them? Sure, the steps to make a change can be started at any point in the year. But why would you take away someone's chance at a symbolic fresh start with a new calendar year just because you think it's an arbitrary concept?

I think that if people are inspired to make changes, whether they're on a small or large scale, then we should support those changes. No matter if it's on the first of a new year or if it's on a random Wednesday afternoon in March. Regardless of the time or place setting, they should be treated with respect.

So, if you hear talk about New Year's resolutions going around, embrace the symbolic start to a new year. Because the start of a new year is like a landmark, a new year year full of new chances to succeed. Regardless of your thoughts on the subject of resolutions, at least take the chance to respect those around you because the start of a new year might be the only thing motivating them. Don't take that away from them.

Monday, December 26, 2016

New Year's Eve Outfit Ideas

If you've looked at a calendar recently, you might have seen that we're coming to the end of 2016. Is anyone else praising hallelujah? I am. With the end of a year comes New Year's Eve celebrations with people donned in sequins and sparkle. While I prefer to spend my New Year's Eves in a pair of sweatpants and a sweatshirt with my hair tied in a bun, I'm sure there are others who actually like to ring in the new year in style. If I were to ever consider going out to celebrate a new year, these are two options I might give a try!

Zara tank | Steve Madden booties

What's your go to NYE outfit?

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

And now it's actually Christmas Day! I hope everyone who celebrated had a wonderful day with whoever they celebrate with! Happy holidays! We'll be back to our regular scheduled programming tomorrow.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve to all of my readers who celebrate (or Happy Hanukkah as well!). I hope you have a wonderful evening with your friends, families, co-workers, whoever you celebrate the holidays with. Wishing you all of the best!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Things I'm Loving: Christmas Edition

As I haven't really been using or listening to anything new lately, I figured I'd switch it up on this lovely Thursday and talk about the things that I love about the holiday season. I haven't been feeling holly jolly the past few years, but there's still aspects of this time of year that I adore. But I won't spoil them in this small introduction. That's what the bold part of my list is for!

1. Peppermint flavor

Sure, you can consume peppermint all year round, but nothing tastes better than peppermint in this winter time, especially as a dessert. Besides maybe peppermint tea after a stomachache. I digress, peppermint flavored drinks and dessert are an absolute treat around this time of year.

2. Chestnut Praline lattes

Speaking of sweet, chestnut praline lattes are just one of my favorite seasonal drinks ever (I consumed far more this season than PSLs, which is a really sad thought). They taste even better with an extra shot of espresso so they're not as sickeningly sweet as a Starbucks drink can get with all of that syrup.

3. Bright, poppy red lipstick

I'm a fan of red lipstick all year round, but we all know that sort of glossy, semi-matte red shade that comes around during the holiday season. My favorites for this year are YSL 1 - Le Rouge and Urban Decay F-Bomb!

4. String lights

I prefer white string lights on trees, but heck, I can even deal with the technicolor lights that the seasons brings about!

5. Christmas tunes

When I'm in the mood, Christmas music is all I want to listen to. And by Christmas tunes, I almost exclusively mean "All I Want For Christmas Is You" and "Last Christmas."

6. Glittery baubles

Glittery anything, tbh. Enough said.

7. Looking at snow 

Just looking at it. I don't want to walk in it, I don't want to drive in it. I don't even want to touch it. I just want to watch it peacefully from a a picture. Or from a window. Really, from anywhere where I don't have to come in contact with it.

What are some of your favorite things about this time of year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

My College Timeline

In case you missed it in the six thousand times I've mentioned this on my blog, I graduated from college this past Sunday. Done. Finito. Finished. It's a wonderful feeling, truly, just knowing that I don't have to sit through a class or take an exam ever again. College was a whirlwind, honestly. I don't remember half of it, not for illegal reasons, but because so much happened in such a short period of time and I'm not entirely sure how I was supposed to properly log all of it.

Based on my Instagram timeline, it looks like I went to a lot of Indians games, sat by myself at the pier a lot, drank a lot of coffee, and bought too many clothes. When I gather my thoughts about college, I'll make a post about all of the things I learned in college. But for now, I just want to reflect on my college experience through pictures...some more embarrassing than others.

I will admit, college was a slow burn experience for me. I didn't enjoy my freshmen year. I didn't really enjoy my sophomore year until the end either. It took me until my junior year to figure things out and find a solid friend group and come out of my shell. Better late than never, right?

This was my dorm on move in day in August of 2013. I was still in my somewhat preppy stage, with lots of Lilly, kelly green, and navy blue. I lived in a quad with three other people. I had a roommate who I wasn't wonderful friends with, a suite mate who was my best friend for the year and a half she was there, and another suite mate who was never there and went home every weekend. It wasn't my favorite living situation, but I was very excited that we had a huge room at least.

I had been to Colossal Cupcakes once with my mother when I went to Cleveland for orientation, but this was my first stop into what has become my favorite sweet spot in Cleveland. The cupcakes, as the name says, are huge. They're delicious. The shop is entirely pink. Could it get any better? You can always rely on a cupcake from Colossal to cheer you up.

This is a huge #TBT for multiple reasons. First, throwback to my 18th birthday when my mom, aunt, their friend and my uncle came to Cleveland to celebrate my birthday with me because I couldn't come. Second, throwback to when I used to make picture collages for Instagram. Third, throwback to my long hair. Damn.

A video posted by francesca gariano (@francescapauline) on

This next one had to be posted in this format because the music is the best part that goes along with it. We got a mini Christmas tree for our dorm freshmen year and this was my proudest moment as a college student. Sure, we had to search some weird things on school computers and sneakily print these out, but it was well worth it.

My mom and I spent a long weekend in Chicago with her friend in February of my freshmen year. This was from the top of the Sears/Willis Tower (I don't know what they like to call it anymore). I'm afraid of heights, but this was too gorgeous to pass up.

This was the time that my suite mates and I went to get french fries and milkshakes in our old prom dresses. Why, you  might ask? I wish I knew.

It took me over six months of living in downtown Cleveland to find out that this fountain exists.

Skipping to November of sophomore year to when I spontaneously saw Andrew McMahon at the House of Blues after my Spanish class got canceled and my classmate mentioned it and we were like...let's just go. So we did. And it was glorious, no surprise.

Not even a week later, I went on my first solo endeavor to New York City. I'd gone plenty of times before with family, but I took a bus by myself and met my uncle at the stop with my suitcase and tote. I stayed with my cousin in Queens and popped around the city by myself for about a week. I was blogging every day at this point, so this whole trip has been documented on this blog. It was just a really fun week that made me feel so independent and Grown Up™.

I'm including this because the cringy double mirror pick is hilarious and also because I remember this day so vividly! It was after winter break and I hadn't heard from the job that I wanted, so I embarked on a little hike to the store and introduced myself in person to the owner, who is now my boss. It was freezing and there was a lot of snow, but I wanted to make an impression and I think I did!

Another flashfoward from January 2015 to August 2015 because honestly, nothing but working happened between those times. I moved into my first apartment with three of my friends at the time (two of which are still in my life, thankfully)(don't let this go to your head, Olivia).

After the first week of classes, I saw One Direction for the second time (and hopefully not the last) with my friend Madi. It was glorious and scorching hot and just an all around good time. Who doesn't love some boyband action?

This is a fairly random picture to include, but that sweater is a Rag and Bone cardigan that I bought my second day of work at the consignment shoppe. I think two highlight points of my time in Cleveland are my two jobs and getting this one kind of changed everything for me in Ohio. So, this picture was taken at the end of my first week of working at the shop and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to work there.

I think the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever had to do was interview Mark from Kodaline. I didn't have to. I chose to and it was so much fun, but lord, was I nervous. I wrote a review on the show for a student newspaper on campus and got to see one of my favorite bands live. All in all, incredible night.

I had the pleasure of attending a fashion show in the fall of my junior year as well. I went partially for fun, partially because I needed something to do a school project on and this was the perfect event. The collection was gorgeous and it was put on by Valerie Mayen, who was on Project Runway and has the line Yellow Cakeshop in Cleveland.

Flash forward to spring break of junior year when I embarked on yet another week long trip to New York City. This time, I stayed in Chelsea and bopped around with my two friends Natasha and Bex (HEY GIRLS) and just had a lovely time and ate way too much. I also got my first Charlotte Tilbury products, which was also pretty huge.

I recently turned 21, which was fun. Here is me with my blood orange (IT'S F**KING RED) margarita, having a grand ole time.

And then I graduated!

It wasn't the moments I instagrammed that were standout moments to me. I didn't Instagram move nights with my roommates, running around downtown enjoying having the city as my campus. I didn't Instagram the best nights (I did Snapchat them though...thank God for that 24 hour story limit). I didn't document the best days at work or the weekly trips to Target. But that's the beauty of it, isn't it? I'll have those forever stored in my noggin for safe-keeping.

CSU, it was a fun three and a half years, but I look forward to enjoying my last six months in Ohio without schoolwork weighing me down.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Art of Re-Gifting

Don't lie, we've all done it. I can and will fully admit to waiting until after the holidays to give my friends presents just to see what miscellaneous items I picked up over the holidays (or what my mom received...I'm taking you down with me, mom). In my defense, I also had no source of income and wasn't really in the mood to drop a lot of money on people. And, in retrospect, probably for the best that I didn't go above and beyond every time. The people I did that for probably didn't deserve it.

I digress, re-gifting is a thing and I think it's about time we stop denying it. Sometimes you just have to suck it up and admit that sometimes you just don't have the time or energy to go out and shop for more people. Because, let's be real, some people are impossible to shop for. I'm sorry that you HAVE ZERO INTERESTS, here's a scarf! Stay warm!

The key to re-gifting is to making sure that there's no way that the original gift giver will ever see that you have given their gift to someone else. Seriously. Avoid this. The chances of the original gift giver giving you a gift that was perfect for re-gifting is very, very slim and probably wasn't a thing. So, to avoid hurt feelings...DO NOT LET THE ORIGINAL GIFT GIVER SEE SAID GIFT. This takes strategic planning and you must be careful. Re-gifting is infinitely easier when the two groups are separate, so if there's separate friend groups or your family isn't friends with your friends. Really, it's all about keeping those two aspects of your life apart, not to be shady, but to conserve money during the holiday season.

The best re-gifting gifts are the following: wine, gift cards to places like Starbucks and Chipotle, candles, lotion, body spray, chocolates, scarves, gloves, beauty sets, small pouches/clutches, and that random teapot that you will never use in a thousand years because coffee is your bloodline and if you wanted tea you would just boil some water in a kettle and pour it over a tea bag in an individual mug instead of putting it in a separate teapot.

The worst re-gifting gifts are the following: anything with glitter (I love glitter but apparently people are not as thrilled with it as I am), food that isn't chocolate, gift cards to Office Max or the random pizzeria from around the corner that might actually be the front for a drug business, a homemade knitted infinity scarf that resembles a noose more than a scarf, hand sanitizer, anything with a monogram or name engraved on it, a Fitbit (unless they, for some reason, really really wanted a Fitbit and you didn't), and a pair of flip-flops in the dead of winter.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Last Minute Gift Ideas

Let's alternatively title this post: "Oops! I Forgot Again!" We all have those people that we forget exist in our lives. Not to diminish their importance in our life at all (or maybe so...), but the holidays are just a busy time of year. It could be finals time, it could be rushing around getting things prepared for celebration, or maybe you're just one busy human being all of the time and this time of year is no different. The rush of the season combined with just our pure, unadulterated occasional forgetfulness can lead to a lot of last minute SH!T moments. Or even worse: the people in your life who just might not like anything.

I had this problem in high school where I just didn't know what to get certain people because they didn't a "thing." This wasn't there problem, of course (or I guess it was but who's keeping track), but it did cause quick an issue when it came to buying presents. I would wander around stores and constantly wonder if something was an item they would like or enjoy or even remotely use. That's where the safe gift come in. There are certain presents that you just can't go wrong with. And even if you do, then they just become the perfect re-gifting presents for them, so really, regardless of whether they like it or not, I'm sure they'll find some use for it.

So, if you're struggling to find a present for someone or are on a last minute hunt for gifts, fear not, for there are always presents that you can rely on.

1. Wine

Obviously, this is for a 21-year-old and should be purchased by a 21-year-old, but wine makes the best gift. If you know what they like, grab 'em their favorite bottle. Or, just get the prettiest one and they'll either drink it or bring it to a holiday party and either way you save them a trip to the liquor store.

2. Body spray

Just hit up your local Bath and Body Works, Body Shop, or Victoria's Secret and just get a scent. Once again, you're toying with fate: either they'll love smelling like a Candy Cane Gumdrop Forest or they'll pop them right back into their bag, rip off the name tag and carry it along to the next party they go to.

3. Candles

Everybody loves candles, even if they don't know it yet. There are plenty of safe scents (AKA anything that doesn't have a sentence long name) and cute options to choose from in every price range. Walmart has great smelling candles, same with Target and Bath and Body Works. Then there are the really pretty tins at Anthropologie, or you could even splurge for a Diptyque candle if you're feeling quite bougie.

4. Gift cards

Yeah, I said it. Someone had to say it. Look, coming from someone who loves gift cards: just suck it up and get a gift card. Nobody wants an ugly sweater from their favorite store because you don't know their style. Just get them the gift voucher and get over it. Same goes for Chipotle, Starbucks, Target, wherever they frequent on a regular basis. Get a cute card, write a nice message, and all will be well in the world. If you want to get really fancy, tape the gift card to the bottle of wine you get them if you really like them.

5. Scarves

I don't know when scarves started to become a great universal present, but I'm not going to question it, because it's true. If you live some place where it gets even remotely cold, a scarf is a must. Get an infinity scarf, a blanket scarf, a decorative silk/satin (let's be real here) scarf that can be tied around a bag handle or their neck like a tie. Really, the possibilities are endless.

6. Chocolate

If worse comes to worse, go to a local chocolatier and get a box of nice chocolates for them. People love can and sugar, right? Right?

What's your go to gift for those last minute presents?

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Class of 2016

Happy graduation day to me! I am now the proud recipient of a B.A. in journalism and I couldn't be more ecstatic! To anyone who has been reading from the start: thanks for sticking around. I started this blog as a lonely, confused freshmen in college who just wanted to find her place. Now, I continue forward as a college graduate, still trying to find her place, but with a little more direction this time.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Dream Closet, Vol. 24

I'm having a moment with ruffles, clearly. If something has ruffles or bell sleeves or some kind of voluminous element to it, I want it. I want it quick and I want it now. It's just such a fun, interesting touch to a simple sweater or sweatshirt! Sure, the ruffles make it nearly impossible to wear a coat in the winter, but those are the sacrifices that we have to make sometimes, right? It's all in the name of fashion, or whatever.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Treats

Now that I'm not living at home, there's truly only two times a year that I bake: Thanksgiving and Christmas. The rest of the year, I'm sworn to a life of laziness, a life of not wanting to dish out the money for ingredients. It's not even a life of boxed mixes. I'm just too darn lazy to make anything. Luckily, it's time to tis the season of holiday baking and fill our stomachs with all of the gingerbread and peppermint we can handle.

Who knows what recipe I'll decide to give a try this year. All I know is that I'm going to be neck deep in a my holiday Pinterest board by the end of next week and I'm going to embrace it fully. These are some of the preliminary ideas for Francesca's Bi-Annual Bake-off (With Herself and Only Herself).

1. Peppermint Beltway Cookies
2. Soft Baked Gingersnap Cookies
3. Peppermint Mocha Cookies
4. Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Bites
5. Candy Cane Kiss Cookies
6. Buckeyes (Peanut Butter Balls)
7. Red Velvet Cream Cheese Thumbprints
8. Peppermint Fudge
9. Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies
10. Peppermint Bark Brownie Cookies
11. Loaded M&M Oreo Cookie Holiday Bar
12. Andes Mint Cookies
13. Cinnamon Bun Cookies
14. Oreo Cream Cheese Cookies
15. Pumpkin Crumb Cake Muffins

What are you baking for the holidays this year?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Things I'm Loving

1. NARS All Day Luminous Foundation

It takes a lot for me to substitute out a holy grail product. As you may or may not know, I've used the Covergirl Outlast Stay Fabulous foundation religiously since my freshmen year of college. That's over three years of consistent every day wear. It took me ages to find a foundation that I loved and I really dedicated myself to it and stuck with it. The fact that I even looked at a new foundation, let alone used it daily is a huge deal, in my opinion. I've been curious about NARS foundations for a while and I figured it was time to give their face products a try after being obsessed with their lip and cheek products (the eyeshadows I've used are great too) for ages.

I bought my foundation in the shade Mont Blanc (Light 2). To find my perfect shade without getting matched in the store (because I'm lazy), I used the Foundation Matrix from Temptalia to cross match with both my MAC shade (NC20) and the color of my Urban Decay Naked Skin Concealer. I'm using Fair Neutral right now, but I've used Light Warm in the past too. Also, for color matching purposes if you have a similar skin tone (aka fair AF), I've used NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard and Cannelle in the past.

Color aside, I do like the foundation. I do! I'm glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and got a new foundation. It's oil-free and it feels incredibly lightweight. Still, it covers the redness in my face incredibly well and with much less product than I needed with my Covergirl foundation, though they are two totally different consistencies. The NARS foundation is very liquidy, but it's also inanely pigmented. It leaves a really natural finish and doesn't completely mattify your face and cling to every little dry patch.

My one and only gripe is that it wears off in certain areas, typically around the chin and nose. Now, this could easily just be me and my skin or my setting powders. It doesn't happen every time and generally it takes many, many hours of wearing it to show off any sort of separating. So for long, grueling days where you need to consistently look good? Maybe bring something for touch-ups.

Do I still love the foundation? Of course! I think the initial semi-dewy and not completely matte finish is incredible (especially with Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette to set it). It just gets tricky as the day goes on, but that's nothing a good primer and touch up can't fix!

2. "Just Hold On" by Steve Aoki and Louis Tomlinson

You may or may not have heard the really tragic news about Louis Tomlinson's mom. Last week, she passed away from a very aggressive form of leukemia. Whether the song was previously written in her honor or not, it released a couple of days later when Louis performed the song on The X-Factor alongside Steve Aoki as it was his mom's dream for him. I'll be honest, I've only briefly heard of Steve Aoki before this song and I'm not exactly the biggest fan of EDM, but I think the song is fun and has an amazing message. I've really been enjoying listening to it in the car and having mini dance party sessions. I think they've done a great job and I'm really, really excited to see what else Louis releases, especially since he did a lot of the writing for One Direction songs in the past.

If you're interested, you can stream the song on Spotify or purchase on iTunes.

3. Vlogmas

No, I'm not participating in Vlogmas, unless that includes binge watching everyone's Vlogmas series. I used to hate watching vlogs, but now they're the only thing I want to watch. Seriously, I'll sit down and watch three of Zoe Sugg's vlogs in a row (all around 20-30 minutes...that's a whole episode!) and want more. It's like watching reality TV without all of the drama. It's honest to god just reality TV in its truest form, not how we know it today. I find them very relatable and I just enjoy the more toned down style. My favorites this season have definitely been Zoe Sugg, Jack Maynard, Lydia Elise Millen and Tamara Kalinic. I watch Caitlin Bea's from time to time, as well as Vlogmas videos from Lily Pebbles and Tanya Burr.

4. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

I cannot show a picture of this because mine is so gross already and cake in foundation and concealer, but you're not missing much. It's just an orange, dome shaped sponge with a pointed tip and one flat side. I mainly only use this for my undereye and regular concealer. I prefer applying my foundation with a brush, but I've been using throw away complexion wedge sponges for my concealer lately and I just figured it was time to replace them with an actual makeup sponge. I can't compare this to the Beauty Blender as I've never used it, but I think for $7, you can't go wrong with this to just try out a makeup sponge.

What have you been loving lately?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

How I Spent My First Day of Freedom

Did I nearly forget to write a post today or was it my plan all along to post later in the day detailing my first day of freedom? The world may never know. Even though that sentence truly just revealed the answer, regardless of its attempt at ambiguity.

Big news: I took my last exam ever today as an undergraduate. This was my last ever "assignment" of college, meaning that as of about 8:40 this morning, I was finished with college forever. Granted, I graduate on Sunday, but still. No more assignments. No more notes. No more studying. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I'm a free b!tch, baby! Since I had nearly the entire day of doing absolutely nothing, I decided to log my whole day as a free almost college graduate. This post shall become proof as to why I should not be allowed to have any time off whatsoever.

9:00 a.m.: Post Instagram of Cleveland State's Rhodes Tower. Add caption in all caps about how excited you are that you finished college. Post similar messages all across social media outlets just so nobody missed the fact that you FINISHED EARLY. Bragging? For sure.

9:20 to 10:45 a.m.: After a hearty breakfast of carbs on more carbs (bagels and hash browns, because I can) and coffee, lay down for over an hour. Watch Youtube videos. Veg. Lounge. Do what you haven't been able to do all semester. Occasionally shift body to ensure blood flow.

11:00 a.m.: Watch last night's finale of The Voice with roommate. Drool over Brendan Fletcher every time he's on screen. Fast forward through irrelevant performances. Yell at the TV when the winner is revealed because IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN BILLY.

12:30 p.m. (approximately): Get so hyper that you decided that you need to jump over the back of your chair in the living room. Wait for roommates to record it for Snapchat. Realize that it wasn't nearly as hard as you thought, leading to a really, really lame snap.

1:00 p.m. and onwards: Lay down. Get up for food. Write some e-mails for work. Lay down. Get more food and water. Dance a little. Take on and off Ugg moccasins a dozen times. Break a hair tie redoing your bun one thousand times.

8:30 p.m.: Make tea. Realize you spent your whole day doing nothing. Also realize that it's probably been your best day all semester. Smile.

And here we are at almost nine at night and I don't know if I've ever had a more relaxing day. It truly feels amazing to be finished with college. I've learned so much and I cannot wait to talk about my college experience over the course of the next few weeks and even months, especially about how it feels to be out of college when I'm still living in a collegiate atmosphere. I think it'll be interesting. But I for one am excited! Mostly for all of the sleep I'll hopefully get!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Outfits

First I gave you gift guides and now here's a holiday attire guide. If I wasn't neck deep in finals, I might have tried to do something a little more professional. Maybe even *gasp* try an outfit post of my own, but alas, my schedule is nonexistent so here's a collage.

(On the reals though, that is a goal for 2017 so NOBODY LET ME FORGET)

You can wear a frilly dress, a tulle skirt with a funny little sweater, or just a plain sweater with some trousers. You could wear leggings and a tee shirt. You could even wear your pajamas if you desire. I think there are two ultimate goals: to look cute and upstage your entire family and prove that you aren't a trash college student with zero drive to look nice or be as comfortable as possible, no questions asked. I respect both sides.

Look one: Zara dress and Topshop tights
Look three: H&M sweater and Topshop pants
Booties: Steve Madden

Monday, December 12, 2016

Last Finals Week Ever

This is one of the most fulfilling and exciting blog titles I think I've ever had the privilege and pleasure of writing out. Unfortunately, they're being written in the midst of trying to study (but let's be real, cram) before my exam this morning. No amount of preparation will ever make me feel ready for an exam and I cannot wait until I never have to feel this again, at least not in this situation. I have an inkling this will arise time and time again, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I must traverse over the path that is surviving my last finals week ever.

I've made lists on how to study, on what to do to prepare for finals week, how to write a good final paper. And I think with my last semester of college, I've thrown caution to the wind and pretty much ripped all of those beliefs to shreds. I've been running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to get things done. Except this chicken is tired and doesn't want to get anything done, so it's taken a chill pill and has decided to remain stagnant until the last possible second before the "chill" wears off and I'm back to square one of PANICKING.

Really, not a great life choice on my part. Make better decisions than me. I feel like that's the point of this blog, to take my mistakes and correct them so you're not sleeping negative hours during the week and drinking coffee like it's water. Perhaps adopt the everyday eyeliner policy, or perhaps don't because becoming reliant on winged eyeliner is a really time consuming and expensive habit. So yeah, don't mimic by lack of study skills or dependency on eyeliner.

Am I rambling in this blog post to avoid the reality of studying and preparing myself for my first last final? Oh yeah, one hundred percent. I'm an avoider. I avoid conflict, people, things, expectations, requirements, whatever I can avoid, I'll do it. Do I need somebody else to shove me face first into what I need to do? Nah, I think that's something I'll need to learn how to manage on my own.

So, this is my attempt to shove myself head first into finishing studying and taking that exam this morning. And, hopefully, nailing it so I don't cry myself to sleep after grades are posted. Because that is a thing that would most certainly happen, partially because I'm too hard on myself and partially because it's been a LONG THREE AND A HALF YEARS AND I'M TIRED. So tired, in fact, that I've hijacked today's holiday post and made it all about me. I guess that's things that I can do as the sole operator of said blog.

And with this ramble, I shall end it with a note of good luck to anyone else starting exams today. Or maybe you finished them last week and if that's the case, I hope you're sleeping and enjoying life post fall 2016 semester. I'm jealous.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Good Reads

1. Shuffle Off to Buffalo Let us just take a moment to love and appreciate this incredible buffalo check coat. Not a massive fan of red, but for you @ jacket, I would. 

2. Two Ways to Style a Black and Gold Jacket I definitely agree with Jessica that black and gold make for the ultimate holiday look. Plus a red lip? Absolute perfection. 

3. Baby, It's Cold Outside! Beauty Tips for Cold Weather As someone who's body just generally doesn't react well to the cold–cracking knuckles, dry skin on my face, moisture drained from my hair–this post came at the perfect time. 

4. Red for the Holidays In l-o-v-e with this one shouldered ruffle top. 

5. I Refuse to Feel Bad About My Phone  I saw a comment that summed up my feelings entirely: "I  refuse to feel bad about something that objectively makes my life easier and better." Amen to that!

6. Chanel Métier d’Art is a Beautiful Escape Tweed will never die in the world of Chanel. 

7. Thigh High Introverts I think the second ultimate dream shoe–behind the Gucci shearling Princetown slippers–are the Stuart Weitzman over-the-knees boots. But which? Lowland? Midland? Highland? So many choices!

8. The Baby I Lost, the Person I’m Finding If you would like to cry with me...

9. New Fendi Bag Holy handbag...I think I'm in love. 

What have you been reading lately?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Holiday Gift Guide: Home, Stationery, and Other Things

I now conclude my mini gift guide series with what some might call as homeware and stationery, but what I call the random knick knacks that make great gifts in a pinch because you literally have zero clue as to what someone would want for a gift and these seem cute? These are the gifts that you can give to literally anyone (tailor the color choices, if necessary) and it's be practical, yet super cute, and something that they probably wouldn't buy themselves or even if they did, you can't have enough of them. For example: you can't have enough mugs. You just can't. Even if you have them stacked on an entire shelf in your cupboards, it's still not enough mugs.

Friday, December 9, 2016

First Impressions: Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipsticks

I've talked about both shades somewhat extensively in Things I'm Loving posts over the course of the past couple of months, but I wanted to sit down and do one final review on the Smashbox Always On liquid lipsticks. I love these suckers so much and I thought that they warranted their own post on the blog sheerly because they've become my favorite liquid lipsticks. I think as liquid lipsticks become increasingly more popular and brands start to come out with their own takes, the products get better, for the most part. I've tried plenty of liquid lipstick brands as much as I will rave about the Kat Von D Everlasting liquid lipsticks, I think that these Smashbox ones have to take the cake.

First thing, I love the applicator. They come to a pointed tip, which makes it really easy to get in all of the nooks and crannies, especially on the outer edges of your lips and the cupid's bow area. Obviously, the manner in which a liquid lipstick applies is very important, especially since they're so long-lasting and aren't exactly the most simple of products to remove.

As for the formula, it's one of the creamiest liquid lipstick formulas that I've personally used, but it dries completely matte and doesn't shift or slide. The shades I have don't crackle in lines in my lips nor do they crumble off after a few hours of wear. The only time that I find that these wear is when I'm eating something messier and even then, the only wear is directly on the center of my lips. They don't feather or transfer onto my face where they shouldn't. I haven't even had any issue with them getting onto my teeth!

I can get a good days wear out of these lipsticks with a couple of reapplications, depending on what I've been eating and what I'm doing. I barely have to reapply it at work, which makes it an automatic bonus. Having to worry about fixing up a lip color during the day can always be such a pain, especially on days where it's busy and there's just not downtime to stare at myself in a mirror while I painstakingly try to fix my makeup.

I'm not overly familiar with the shade range, but I think if there was a color that I don't already have, I would pick it up in a heartbeat. I think these are really, really great liquid lipsticks and at $24, it's a bit more expensive than the Kat Von D, Tarte and Anastasia liquid lipsticks ($20), but it's about on par with the Stila and I'm sure cheaper than more high end brands at Sephora and Ulta. Overall, the price isn't too bad, especially for a product that does what it boasts.

What's your favorite liquid lipstick brand? 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Things I'm Loving

1. The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb

I mentioned this and the Ole Henriksen scrub in my winter skincare routine, but didn't go into as much detail about it as it deserved. It's easily become my favorite part in my skincare routine (aside from my Clarisonic...I love that thing so much). It feels so good. It just makes my skin feel so smooth and alive and puts the life back in my face after a day of wearing makeup and being out in the cold. I haven't had any gross flaky dry patches on my face since I started my new and improved skincare routine and I really attribute it to this amazing moisturizer. Once again, shoutout to Hannah from High Street Sea Breeze for steering me in the right direction.

2. Ole Henriksen Walnut Complexion Scrub

Yet another newer skincare product for me. I've struggled with finding the perfect exfoliator. Either they're too rough for my face and seem to rip my skin apart or are far too gentle to remove any of the dry skin that I need them to. Lo and behold, the miracle facial scrub exists and it smells delicious. It's just gritty enough to remove those dry patches around my mouth and skin and on my cheeks and it cleanses at the same time. It leaves my skin feeling smooth, not rough and red. Plus seriously, it smells so sweet and delicious.

3. Lorac Mulberry and NYX Transylvania

This is one of my favorite lip combinations during the winter time. I find that it takes too many layers of NYX Transylvania to make it as opaque as I want it to, so I just layer it over the Lorac lip crayon in Mulberry for that really dark, dramatic vampy look. I now really, really want to try out MAC's Nightmoth lip pencil! I think that would be a really good addition to my makeup collection.

4. Elizabeth and James Nirvana Bourbon

I have zero clue how to describe scents besides the the typical "it smells good" factor. But seriously, this one smells good. All of the Elizabeth and James Nirvana scents have a somewhat similar smell, a little bit musky. I've had miniature rollerballs of the White and Black scents and currently have a mini of the Rose scent, but I think the Bourbon scent is my all time favorite, which is why I picked up a full-sized rollerball. I find it hard to commit to scents with full bottles, but for me, you know it's real when I decide to get a rollerball of it instead of living off those teeny, tiny samples you get with your Sephora orders.

5. Zara Ribbed Frill Sweater

I literally have this shirt in every color available. I am just obsessed with the bell sleeves and the silhouette of this top. It just adds some flair to a simple outfit. Without the bell sleeves, it would just be a plain ribbed sweater with jeans. With the sleeves just makes me feel all witchy. I wore the all black one with a black skater skirt and black pointed toe booties and let me tell you...I felt like casting a spell on someone. Plus, they're only like twenty bucks. I even got the grey one on sale for $14. Crazy stuff!

What have you been loving lately?