Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: A Year in Review

2016 was a tumultuous year. But, I think I can still look back on it rather fondly.
This was the year of tackling items on my bucket list. I managed to strike off half a dozen goals.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Savings Accounts (& Growing Your Money)

I thought I'd make this little PSA-style post just prior to the holiday, since this is the time of year we're stretching our wallets rather thin.

We are spoiled. We live in an age of instant gratification which is why we're all constantly looking for shortcuts. I think shortcuts are when you're looking for an alternate route when you're stuck in traffic. However, when it comes to cash, I'm a major advocate of the savings account.

Okay, yes, savings accounts aren't what they were in their heyday. Everyone argues that the interest offered by banks are hardly worthwhile and won't even keep up with inflation. And I agree; my primary bank offers me 0.01% interest. That means that if I have $100 in my savings account, I will earn a penny; that's pretty pathetic. But guess what? The main reason for savings accounts is not all about shoving in a chunk of money and watching it grow purely from interest; if one could survive on interest rates alone, then we'd only have to work for a few years and then watch our bank accounts grow, right? Savings accounts should be a v. active place where you deposit chunks of money on a regular basis. It's about going back to that mindset you had as a child, when you saved money in your piggy bank.

Sure, investing is definitely valuable. But, because I'm v. conservative with my money and I'm not a risk taker, I'm not that keen on playing the stock market. The only real investment I've made is with my 401K and that isn't even that impressive; I put in 6%, simply because that's the maximum percentage that my company will match (they match half up to 6%) and that's enough for me. Yes, I care about retirement but I also care about having a sum of money available now. I could die before retirement and then the efforts of pumping cash into my 401K will be for nought. Plus, as made obvious by this blog, I love to travel so if my money is tied up in my retirement and investments, it would make it difficult for me to go on my three or four holidays per year.
So, I thought I would share some of my tips for managing money and how to "grow" your bank account, sans the risky shortcuts.

Monday, December 12, 2016

4 Beauty Essentials for Cold Weather Travel

Visiting Copenhagen and driving around Iceland was an amazing experience. We had a really great time but it was definitely a bit rough on my skin. The transition from autumn to winter is always the hardest because the cold outdoors, the aggressive heating indoors, and the blistery wind takes a toll on my face and hands. In the past few years, I've gotten more disciplined when it comes to taking care of my skin. Afterall, I'm thirty now and wrinkles are pounding at my door.

Because I enjoy traveling light, I wanted to really pare down my skincare routine; and this was especially important for my Iceland trip because we were staying at a different place every night and I didn't want to fiddle with too many containers of stuff.

Typically before bed, I wash my face with my Clarisonic and then use a mask. After the mask is rinsed off, I'll slap on softener, top it with serum, pat on my eye cream, massage in some face oil, put on a little night cream, and then top it with a lavender mist. In the mornings, I use a creamy face wash, swipe on some toner and face oil, pat on a little honey and gold-infused serum, smear on a little depuffing eye cream, and top it with an SPF moisturizer. But you know, I wasn't really keen on packing 10+ items in my toiletries bag, on top of the other necessities like toothpaste, shampoo, soap, etc.
So, I figured out what I really needed and loved and narrowed it down to just four products.

Monday, December 05, 2016

DIY Clay & Felt Christmas Ornaments

I know I'm a week late in saying this, but I hope everyone (in the States) enjoyed their Thanksgiving weekends. It was busy, but fulfilling, and I still feel the gratitude in my heart for a loving, supportive family. Aww, I'm so sentimental.

Last weekend, we dug our fake tree out of storage so we could switch gears from feelings of thankfulness and turkey burps to generosity and Christmas spirit. The tradition I've made for myself in the past couple of years was to save a handful of vacation days at work and take time off between Christmas and New Years to give myself a lovely little holiday break. During last year's break, my sister and I made a bunch of Christmas ornaments using clay and felt. We decided on 'food' as the theme and made these really cute bits and bobs.
I wanted to share them right away - because of how adorable they were - but I was really patient and basically waited an entire year to share these. This isn't really a tutorial, because we didn't use any patterns or special methods. We just used our imaginations and basic sculpting and sewing skills. But, I thought I would share in case you wanted to give it a go.

Friday, December 02, 2016

1 Week in Iceland: Day 7

Our final few hours in Iceland were the most relaxing ever. We decided to go to the Blue Lagoon on our last day so that we could decompress and soothe our muscles and get in a really zen headspace so that we'd be happy on the flight home, despite the fact we knew we all had to go to work the following day.
We munched on some of the complimentary cereal in the hotel for breakfast and drank some of the complimentary apple juice before packing up our car and getting on the road for the 45 minute drive to the lagoon.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

1 Week in Iceland: Day 6

On our final full day in Iceland, we let ourselves sleep in just a bit. Our first stop wasn't too far from our apartment so we had to wait for the sun to do its thing a bit more before we left. Most of this day was spent exploring Reykjavik, which to be frank, was sort of underwhelming. The rest of Iceland was just so amazing, it was kind of boring to be in a city. However, it was nice to walk around instead of relying on the car.
For breakfast, we took full advantage of our kitchen and made a hearty hash using the leftovers from our dinner the night before.
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