Did I Accomplish My 2017 Reading Goal?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

When I was in high school, I used to read somewhere around fifty-ish (I never counted and wasn't great at keeping track on Goodreads) books a year. I was constantly going to the library and picking out new titles to read, whether I was seeking out certain books or just grabbing things off of the shelf because of pretty covers and interesting summaries. And then I got to college and my reading dropped off to only three or four books a year if I was lucky. A lot of it came down to not having the free time, but I also definitely lacked the motivation too.

I wanted to rectify that, so my goal for this year was to start slowly getting back into the whole reading thing. I decided that one new book a month was a doable task. Twelve books for twelve months was a seemingly achievable goal for me, so I set out in January to see if I could get myself back into reading. Clearly, if you've been keeping up with my blog (especially over the summer), I've done it! Words can't describe how happy I am that this is one of the accomplishments on my 2017 to-do list that I could cross off as a success. As fun as it is completing any goal, I think this one was really for the better too. I'm always happier when I'm reading, so it was great to get back into a hobby that I once enjoyed so much.

Because I've already talked about a majority of these books on the blog already, I'm just going to list all of the books I read in 2017 down below. I'll also add the links to the blog posts where I talked about them if you want to read more in-depth about my thoughts. Also, just for funsies, I'll give them a rating out of five, just in case you're curious.

TGIF | My 2017 Favorites

Friday, December 29, 2017

Another year has come and gone and all I have to show for it is this 2017 round up of all of my favorite things from the year. Kidding, kidding. In lieu of sharing what I've loved this week, which has essentially been my Bumble onesie and that's about it, I figured that now would be as good as ever to share my favorites from the entire year considering come Monday, it's going to be 2018.

I also decided that what better way to delve into my favorites than to do it in video form? One thing I quickly learned is that it's very difficult to talk about many products and things without making a video six trillion hours long. So, naturally, let's talk about some bonus favorites in this post, just for fun.

It Hits Me When the Lights Go On | December Playlist

Thursday, December 28, 2017

But Francesca, didn't you already share a playlist in December? That is, technically, factual information. But that was a boring old Christmas playlist and this is a boring old Songs I've Been Loving This Month playlist. We all know I can't resist sharing off some of my favorite tunes for the month. I've been jamming out to these too many times to not give them some love on my blog. They must see the light of day outside of my car and my bedroom, even if I still have not yet mastered the art of talking intelligently about music.

I've gone on another SZA kick. I was on a kick with her music back in October, I believe, and then it reignited after she was on Saturday Night Live. I find her music oddly relaxing. I just sort of want to sway to it and her album Ctrl has been fantastic background music lately. Which might sound like an insult, but honestly, sometimes I find music distracting when I don't want it to be, so it's an impressive feat to create non-distracting music.

Kelly Clarkson also has a few spots on this playlist, mostly due to the fact that she was recently on the season finale of The Voice and performed her new single "Medicine" which reminded me of her other single "Love So Soft" which even further reminded me that she has a new album out that I need to listen to. I went down the Kelly Clarkson rabbit hole, which is not a bad rabbit hole to be down.

20 Favorite Blog Posts From 2017

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Up until the summer, I was blogging seven days a week, every single week. Even now, with five posts a week, a lot of content is posted on my blog every year and sometimes posts get lost in the mess of it all. So, to make your lives easier, I've decided to round up my absolute favorites from 2017. If you missed out on them, never fear, for you can catch up now. And if you've already read them, well, here's a chance to read them again! And also like, thanks for reading in the first place! You the real MVP.

My Favorite Instagrams of 2017 (And Some Stories Behind Them)

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

One truth behind this blog post is that this is my second time writing it. I wrote what I thought was a really nice, thoughtful, informative post...that somehow got overwritten and disappeared entirely before I could salvage it. Now, I admittedly feel a little dejected and am not sure that I'm going to be able to ~ recreate the magic ~ to its fullest potential. I suppose I can try.

If I'm being honest, I've had a rollercoaster ride with Instagram this year. I went from caring about it, to forgetting about it, to over-thinking everything I wanted to post, to posting whatever, to trying to carefully curate an all-white-background-theme, to accidentally creating an autumnal theme to try to break the all-white theme, to not caring about what I posted or when I posted all together, to starting to overthink the whole thing again.

Despite my constant conflicting feelings about the way I use Instagram (still love the app, even if the algorithm does piss me off beyond belief), I still post, and I'm still proud of some of the posts I've made over the course of 2017. I think, arguably, this was both the year that I took it the most "serious" while also somewhat being the year that I've really enjoyed most of what I've posted. And if I didn't enjoy it, well, it's now in my archive for the rest of forever (great feature, Insta. Thanks).

Let's be real here though, my Instagram is a bit...vague. I mean, in general, I feel like even if my life is technically on the internet, I'm still a fairly private person. Which is fine and dandy and I do prefer to err on the side of being more ~ mysterious ~ than not being able to take a tidbit of information back after I put it out into the world. However, part of me knows that I'm almost extra elusive because, well, it's just what I know how to be from years of keeping to myself. However, today we're going to delve a little bit deeper into some of my favorite Instagram posts of the year and some stories behind them. Because let's be real, the captions probably told you nothing.

TGIF | Weekly Favorites

Friday, December 22, 2017

Belif The True Cream Moisturizing Bomb
My favorite moisturizer is back in my skincare collection and to say that I'm excited might be an understatement. I switched back to drugstore moisturizers to cut back on money, but the holiday season is the time of year to embrace your spendy side, right? I had a $25 off of $50 coupon for Sephora and had to pick up a gift there, so it seemed only right to tack on my moisturizer to that purchase so I could say a little bit of money. I was missing it a lot, okay?!

All jokes aside, the Belif moisturizer is one of my favorites for a few reasons. One, the scent is so fresh and subtle that I don't feel like I'm being suffocated by the scent of whatever is going around my nose and mouth. Two, the consistency is a mixture of a gel and a cream. It's not too thick where it makes my skin feel heavy and gloopy, but it moisturizes more intensely than a gel moisturizer would do for my skin. Three, it lasts longer than you would think. The tub looking deceivingly small, but it has 1.68 oz that can last you quite a bit of time if you don't slather on layer after layer. A little goes a long way with this one.

Did I Get Into the Holiday Spirit?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The less complicated answer to the question in the title of this blog would be no, I didn't. If you missed the premise for this follow-up post, basically, I told myself that I wanted to be in the Christmas spirit this year. I've been lacking any sort of holly jolly feelings for quite a few years now, but I figured that my first Christmas season fully college free would yield better results than in the past. And, much to my chagrin, it didn't.

Christmas hasn't felt the same since around the end of high school. I couldn't pinpoint the exact moment where I wasn't really into the holiday spirit. I feel like I had a moment where I didn't want to skip underneath the huge decorations at the mall to the Christmas music blaring through the speakers. I have fond memories of doing that even as a teenager, and then it just..stopped, I guess.

Holiday Makeup Look | Gold Eyes and Red Lips

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What says Christmas more than gold on your eyelids and red on your lips? Sure, you could also swap in silver, but not all of us are blessed with the skin tone that looks good with silver eyeshadow. I'm all about gold, glitter, and a bold red lip around this time of year. To be frank, I'm here for it all year round, but it feels extra appropriate for the holiday season.

This makeup look is so easy that I could do it. Truly, I'm not a makeup guru. I just have a lot of it and my winged eyeliner always tends to make my makeup look better than it actually is. That's just the straight up truth. So, if you're not too comfortable with makeup or just want to try something new, I have not only this nice handy-dandy blog post about my favorite holiday makeup look, but there's also an extra video on my channel this week. Three cheers for extra content and visuals instead of me trying to explain myself poorly with my words!!!

Yet Another Teddy Bear Coat

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I fully intended on rambling about something in this post, but my mind kept popping up blank every time I sat down to write it. I mean, after last week's Being the Face Behind the Blog post, I'm pretty chill with keeping things a little on the light side for a couple of weeks. So, I'm stepping out into the snow in a bright pink sweater and yet another teddy bear coat because it was on $25 and I have zero self-control when it comes to H&M and things that are on super sale.

The snow was here in full force, but alas, it rained last night and now there are only spotty remnants of what could have been a white Christmas. Who knows if it will snow again before next week. Well, I'm sure the local weather team would be able to give me the answer, but I'm far too lazy to (a) look up the weather on my laptop and (b) my phone is across the room and I just got comfortable at my desk chair. It's a hard knock life being a fake lazy person, which would be a person who isn't actually lazy but is in a stage of their life where their motivation is so low that even walking across the room is a struggle. 

Too serious? Too serious. Moving on!

Seven Gift Ideas for My Fellow Last Minute Shoppers

Monday, December 18, 2017

I'm a terrible Christmas shopper. I spent so many years banking on the fact that I was a broke teenager, unable to financially afford giving gifts to friends and family members. But now I'm 22 and still kind of broke, but I can't get away with the same things that I did when I was 16. It's a hard knock life out there when you're not used to Christmas shopping and if you're anything like me, it's a week to Christmas and you still aren't even halfway finished with your shopping. You're in good company. Sit down, have a hot chocolate, and let's chat about all of the easy ways you can get your shopping done last minute without wanting to roll around in the snow for hours as a punishment for your procrastination.

Your options for last minute shopping can be somewhat limited for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that typically, you can't rely on buying from online and relying on shopping unless you have a handy-dandy Amazon Prime membership. This means that shopping in-store might be your only choice, which depending on where you live, can cut out a lot of viable options. This also poses the question: what the hell should I get this person? There's less time to think of a good, thoughtful gift for the person of choice. You have to rely on the tried and true gifts, the ones that could either be universally loved or easy to pass on as a regift. Sometimes blessing someone with something that they can regift comes in clutch.

TGIF | Weekly Favorites

Friday, December 15, 2017

Anastasia Chocolate Brow Powder Duo

I usually only use two of the darkest shades in my Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette when it comes to filling out my eyebrows. Even if I do have blonde hair (okay, so yes, it's dyed but it's always been dirty blonde!), my eyebrows have always been dark and seem to be getting considerably darker if that's even possible. Back when I bought my first tube of Anastasia's Tinted Brow Gel, I also picked up one of their eyebrow powder duos because I preferred (and still do) powder to pencils. For a while, I thought this shade didn't suit me and let it sit in the back of my drawer so I could continue to use my Naked Basics Palette. 

As it turns out, the color might not have been as terrible for me as I thought. The lighter shade in the duo is, unfortunately, but the darker brown is actually a really nice natural brow color that has been really great for days where I want to fill in my brows but don't want them to look as intense as usual. It's pigmented without being too pigmented like a regular eyeshadow. It's easier to build up the color naturally without any super harsh lines that can make your filled in eyebrows look unnatural.

Being the Face Behind the Blog

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Truth be told, taking these pictures outside was a struggle. If you've been a long time reader of this blog, why are you still here? Kidding, totally kidding, please don't leave. If you've survived this long, I'm assuming you're in for the long haul and can withstand my terrible humor for a bit longer. Anyways, yes, if you've been hanging around these parts for a while, you probably know that I've struggled with the fashion portion of my blog for a long time. 

I've had complications with my own personal style and defining it. Clothing phases have come and gone and quite frankly, I'm still trying to figure out what to do with my wardrobe every single day. Fashion has, of course, always had a part in this blog. I've reviewed collections, spent hours upon hours trying to round up the best trends for a new season, scoured websites for the perfect pieces for some sort of specific occasion. The missing link has always seemed to be my outfits. There was always a pretty overwhelmingly large absence of myself on the blog.

Maybe This Christmas | Festive Playlist

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

I don't know where I stand with Christmas music. However, in the great hellish year of 2017, there are dozens upon dozens of versions of some holiday tunes. While I love the good ole classics and cult favorites, sometimes I just want to kick back, relax, and listen to some lesser known versions of songs. Maybe it's in the inner obnoxious hipster in me that likes to surface from time to time and make me feel like a pretentious asshole. However, I still can't refuse a good pop tune here and there. I dare someone to tell me that Carly Rae Jepsen's version of "Last Christmas" isn't iconic. In fact, I dare someone to tell me that anything CRJ does isn't anything short of legendary.

A Realistic Winter Outfit

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In the middle of taking these photos on Sunday, the wind and snow started, a clear abrupt end to fall and the start of an early winter. As I'm writing this, it's snowing outside and adding to the thick layer of snow that's covering the ground. Gone are the crumpled brown leaves and tiny pockets of green grass left. Now I'm greeted with slick, icy snow and windchill that will freeze me to my bones.

Look, I'm all for dressing cute. I've been known to wear an impractical outfit or two. But the one aspect of mother nature that I don't mess with is snow. Friends on the Great Lakes, you know what I mean when I start complaining about lake effect snow. Raise your hand if you've ever been personally victimized by lake effect snow. It is unpredictable and the absolute worst. I don't play games with the winter in Buffalo. If I know it's going to snow, I'm going to make sure that I don't end up with frozen toes, ears, or hands.

A Gift Guide for Your Trendy Friends

Monday, December 11, 2017

We all have that friend that just likes trendy things. If you don't have that friend, you might be that friend. And if you are, trust me, there's nothing wrong with it. Embrace it! You just have current and very aesthetically pleasing taste and as far as I'm concerned, that's not a crime. Coming from one trendy gift lover to another, it's not a bad thing to be.

Trendy gifts can be anything: cute notebooks and agendas, succulents, something with a cute saying on it that usually involves coffee or espresso somehow, the newest beauty fad (I see you, Fenty and Glossier), overly hyped fragrances, and the book or magazines that you see in everyone's perfect flat lay photos on Instagram. Anything that you see in a store and tap your chin and wonder where you've seen that before...it was probably on someone's social media and it would probably be a good gift.

TGIF | Weekly Favorites

Friday, December 8, 2017

Forever21 Teddy Bear Coat

Not to be dramatic, but my life didn't start until the day I received this coat in the mail. I've been dying for a teddy bear coat in this style for a while, but I was very particular about the color that I wanted. I didn't want a cream or a tan, I wanted a sort of caramel brown shade with a little bit of ginger in it just to spice it up (I don't cook, was that a pun?). I searched high and low and the only one I found in the color that I wanted was $60000 from J.Crew and not in my size. Just kidding, it was really only like $200 or something but in my current financial state, anything over $60 might as well be $60000. I ended up finding this jacket on Poshmark, new with tags, and I can almost assume I did a little dance when it became officially mine.

I assumed that since it was Forever21, it was going to be thin and not all that great for cold weather but still ultimately a cute jacket. Boy, was I wrong. This jacket is actually warm? And thick? And shockingly well made? I'm still really shocked by the quality of this and for sure will bundle myself up this winter in this jacket. And yes, my family does call me Fozzie Bear every time they see me wear it. The Muppets are fashion icons, what can I say?

The Calm Before the (Snow) Storm

Thursday, December 7, 2017

I've never in my life lived somewhere that it didn't snow. I've also never lived somewhere that it doesn't snow a lot. I can also read a calendar (shockingly) and know that we're creeping closer to the end of December. It's technically not winter until the end of the month, but really, it might as well be winter as soon as Thanksgiving is over.

However, the pure horror that came over my face this morning to look at the weather app on my phone to see how next week was going to be was purely comical. You guys, we have some snow in the forecast. Now, Buffalo has already gotten snow so this isn't anything new in Western New York, but it hasn't hit my city yet and honestly...I'm not quite sure that I'm ready for it yet. I'm never ready though, am I? The cold weather sucks, but my biggest concern is driving in snow. I'm bad at it, guys. I'm not the best driver in general, so adding snow into the equation is...not a fun car ride, to say the least.

Five Beauty Mistakes We've All (Probably) Made

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I had to check to make sure that my last "beauty mistakes" post didn't start the way that I'm starting this post. Luckily, I wasn't feeling particularly obnoxious that day. But after watching at least five or six hours straight of David Dobrik's videos yesterday, it's pretty safe to say that I'm feeling a little obnoxious on this cold, windy Wednesday morning. So...one, two, three, four, everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days!

Alright, don't click away. Or do, if you really feel inclined and are horrified by my Hannah Montana references at the ripe age of 22. I did a post back in October about six makeup mistakes to avoid, like not cleaning your brushes regularly or blending out your eyeshadow or bronzer. Now we're coming back for some more beauty mistakes to avoid, namely inspired by my occasional habit of breaking the unspoken rules that I know exist but sometimes, just sometimes, am too lazy to follow myself. Like those situations where you know what you're doing is wrong and not good for you but you still do it anyways, like alternating Fireball and tequila shots because you hate your liver and decided that vomiting isn't that bad.


The Aviator Jacket

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Do you ever look at the price of something that you didn't previously know the price of an kind of want to, I don't know, faint and disappear into oblivion because you cannot believe such a thing could cost that insane amount of money? That's how I felt when I found out the price of the Acne Velocite Jacket. You know, the black leather one which monochromatic black shearling lining that your favorite blogger probably owns. Of course, I'm absolutely aware of the price tag of Acne clothing, but was a few seconds away from upchucking my dinner when my eyes glanced over the $2700 price tag.

This aviator jacket looks nothing like the Acne jacket, but there are plenty of similarly styled aviator jackets that have almost the exact same look as the Acne jacket at a legitimate fraction of the price, not just a couple of bucks. However, this post is making a case for all aviator jackets, whether they have a leather or fabric exterior, black or white lining, and any other variations that can happen in the day and age of an, arguably, over-saturation of clothing brands.

Gift Giving On a Budget (And Gifts Ideas Under $25)

Monday, December 4, 2017

I don't know about you, but my spare cash is very limited at the moment. It's one of those things where I technically have money saved (not an impressive amount, no need to ponder about the pathetic amount of savings I'm harboring), all of it is delegated towards whenever I move. So, the spending money portion of my bank account is...dismal. Sad. Almost non-existent. This is, understandably, a struggle during the time of year where gift-giving is normalized and almost expected.

It's not to say that I don't like to give gifts. I love giving gifts in the form of my presence...juuuuuust kidding. I do like giving people gifts, it makes me smile and it makes them smile and there's just a whole lot of love and happiness going on that it makes it all kinds of fun. But, alas, gift giving adds up and as the years go on, the list of people to buy presents for tends to increase. Then, you become stuck in a situation where you want to buy for a lot of people but don't know where to start because gifts cost money and, if you're like me, a decent disposable income might not be present.

Fear not, for over the years, I like to think that I have somehow learned to master the art of gift giving on a budget. Truly, it is not the price of the gift, but the meaning behind it. I do honestly believe in this and it's definitely something to take into account this season, especially if you're on the struggle bus when it comes to finances. Trust me, I feel you guys. I feel you.

I Want Your Midnights | November Playlist

Sunday, December 3, 2017

What? Seven posts in one week? I wanted to post my November playlist because they're some of my favorite posts to share because music is cool but I didn't want to bump a spot in my original posts I had scheduled so...we're getting bonus posts this weekend, hope y'all don't mind. And if you do I'm sorry and you can just forget today and yesterday's post happened. Actually, don't forget yesterday's post happened because it announced my YouTube channel so...

I digress, this month has, admittedly, been a lot of the same albums on repeat. I was still listening to a lot of Niall Horan's album Flicker, mostly because it's the CD that my mom constantly keeps on in her car, so every time we went somewhere this month, that CD was the only thing she would let me play. That's right. She's obsessed. She'll admit it, right mom? And then there was Walk the Moon and Taylor Swift's new albums that also dominated a lot of my listening. However, we have quite a few other songs in the mix that I was definitely into this past month.

I Started a YouTube Channel?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

That's right, y'all. My teenage dream of becoming a YouTuber has finally come true. Eat your heart out, Zoella.

All jokes aside, really, this has been something that's been on my mind for a very, very long time. There are old videos of me on my first Macbook of me trying to film a haul and very easily giving up because it just wasn't my time to be on camera. Then, when I thought my personality had developed enough to get to that comfort level, time was not my friend and there would have been no way I'd be able to swing it. Now, it's about five or six years later and there is a video of my face and my voice on the interwebs which is wild to me.

I know I don't upload on Saturdays anymore, but I think for my first few videos, I'm going to make a separate blog post about them just so y'all know what's going on. I actually have two videos filmed, edited, and set on private on YouTube ready to upload, so what I'm hoping for is a consistent Saturday upload for new videos. Then, potentially, if time still continues to be a friend to me, I might add an extra video in here and there as an addition to a blog post.

Really, a lot of stuff if up in the air with this, but as of right now I have two more videos ready to go and waiting in the wings. I'm still working out the whole camera in my face situation, but filming and editing this week has just been a lot of fun so I'm really excited to get the ball rolling on this finally. It's not quite vlogging, but I feel like this still qualifies as tacking off that "vlog at least once" point on my 2017 to do list. What do you think?

Anyways, there's not much more to say, I think the video speaks for itself! If you are so inclined, feel free to subscribe! I'm also always looking for new video ideas. I have a list at the moment, but a list of ideas is never long enough in my book.

TGIF | Weekly Favorites

Friday, December 1, 2017

This specific scent is unknown because the name is not on the bottom of the candle, but it's something that smells autumnal and also kind of burns your nose if you burn it in your bedroom with the doors closed so maybe keep that in mind if you want to burn these candles in a small, confined space. Your nose might hurt, but it also will probably be worth it so...
Glade candles

In my birthday post last week, I mentioned that candles were a luxury that I could not afford. I used to always have candles burning my senior year of high school because they smelled nice and I watched one too many Bath and Body Works hauls on YouTube (remember when those were a huge thing?). Then I moved into the dorms where I was too afraid to even have or use an illegal toaster, let alone have a candle burning. No one wants to be the jerk that accidentally sets off the fire alarm and has to evacuate your floor and the ones directly above and below you. And our fire alarms were even more sensitive than I am, so that just wasn't a risk I was willing to take. Then came my apartment and the lowest my bank account has ever been and there was just no time or finances for candles. .

I know, these aren't a Yankee candle or, god, those super bougie Diptyque candles that I want so bad just to say I have one. The Glade candles don't burn for very long if you're like me and like them burning for hours and hours. But if you need something to smell nice and fill a whole room quick, look no further. We used to use these occasionally at our apartment if we had people over or family visitors because it just gave us that extra assurance that our entire apartment didn't smell like a musty warehouse, or worse, the litterbox that we had to keep in the bathroom for Gigi (our cat, not Gigi Hadid)(that seemed like a really important clarification to make as if 1. Gigi Hadid would frequently be at our apartment enough to warrant this and 2. Would prefer to use a litterbox over any other viable bathroom option which preferably would just be the toilet but I suppose to each their own).
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