2 Albums to Add to your Weekend Playlist

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For some reason, I’ve been in a new music slump lately. I haven’t been discovering a lot since I stopped listening to last.fm and suspended my google play account. Actually, I’ve been in a music slump all month. I haven’t created anything or found anything new… until now! I think maybe all that I needed was some fresh inspiration, and today I finally managed to stumble on some. Here are two albums you should add to your weekend playlist that might inspire you too!

Rae Morris – Unguarded

With a vocal style that sounds eerily like Ellie Goulding, merged with haunting piano backings makes it a soulful and catchy album. Released just this past November, I don’t know why she hasn’t been brought to my attention before.

Indiana – No Romeo

More traditionally “pop-y” than Rae’s, this is edgier, and reminiscent of Banks’ Goddess album. I can’t put my finger on what it is, but she feels fresh to my ears, which is a relief after listening to the same four chord progression played on the radio all day at work. I’ve already got Bound stuck in my head, and I think she’s going to be on regular playlist rotation for quite awhile now.

What do you think? Tell me in the comments!

What’s in my Tea Cupboard?

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I didn’t always have a love affair with tea. I hated it right up until college, when I started to need both the caffeine and a small, cheap way to relax. We got one of those specialty tea places downtown near where I used to hang out, and I got immediately hooked as soon as I realized there was more to tea than just Earl Grey and English Breakfast. I started trying teas that tasted like ice cream cake and lime gelato, and I fell hard. Now I have more than twenty types of teas in my cupboard- not counting all the single bags I’ve gotten from swaps and hotels- and I even worked at a tea shop for about five seconds this Christmas. Since I’m such an addict, I thought I’d give you guys a peek into what’s in my cupboard and how I like to store my teas.

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David’s Tea was my gateway drug into the world of tea. Shopping there is addictive, and I love going in to smell absolutely everything. My favorite kind of tea is rooibus because it has no caffiene and I don’t have to worry about oversteeping it. If you’ve only tried black or green before, I encourage you to branch out and give it a try! If you’re unsure about a tea before you buy it, especially if you shop online, check out its reviews on steepster.com. I don’t always agree with the reviews there, since everyone has different tastes, but majority rules is usually a good way to tell if a tea is an overall winner or a dud, and the community there is very helpful.

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I’ve learned a few practical things about tea lately- like how rooibus can be steeped indefinitely but black tea will get bitter within a minute if you leave it in too long. Iced teas require twice the amount of tea because the ice dilutes it. I always have to beware teas with hybiscus in it, since that’s what usually makes a fruity tea that deep red colour- and it’s too bitter and tangy for me if it’s used too much. Tea can be like fine wine in that there’s a lot to learn and so much to taste!

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Also, don’t believe any companies or brands when they try to hype the health benefits of tea too much. It’s true that tea does have some health benefits. I know that some good chai will settle my stomach, and I love licorice teas for my sore throats- but the fact is that most health benefits companies claim cannot be substantiated by science. When I worked at a certain tea place I’m reluctant to name (not one pictured here!), I was taught to tell customers that white teas were hydrating, and that oolong teas were great for losing weight, but all teas are hydrating because you’re drinking water and oolong teas are good for losing weight because an ingredient in them (caffeine) is shown to stimulate your metabolism- even though the caffiene in oolong tea is all but insignificant. There are a lot of claims being made that can’t be substantiated by medical studies currently- they may be true, but only some of tea’s health benefits have been proven. Be careful!

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The reigning queen of my tea cupboard right now is Alpine Punch by David’s. It’s not currently on sale (I think), but it smells like marzipan and almonds and tastes just as strong as it smells which is rare. It’s also amazing when blended with other teas. I have about 300 grams of it since I adore it so much (for reference, 30g of a tea will usually last me 4 months or so, depending on how often I drink it compared to other stuff in my collection).

As for teas you can actually try, I recommend Stash brand Chocolate Orange! It’s about $4 for a box of 20 bags, and it tastes like those chocolate oranges you get at Christmas. It’s like heaven. Protip: for double chocolateness, make the tea like you usually would and then mix in hot cocoa mix once you take the bag out. Trust me, it’s amazing.

Other favorites: David’s Tea Snickerdoodle, DT Jumpy Monkey, Twinings French Vanilla Chai and Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Fairy blend.

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What’s your favorite type of tea? Are you a fellow addict, too? Let me know in the comments!

My Post-Grad Job Search Update

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It’s been 9 months since I graduated- 7 months since the official ceremony. For those 9 months, I’ve been looking for a job.

I didn’t expect this. I’m the kind of girl who has a plan, who works hard, who follows through and gets things done. I was on the student council, I was the editor of a magazine, I was in mentorship groups and sometimes even managed to impress my professors. I took the law school admissions test and scored in the top 6%. I was unstoppable.

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5 Tricks to Get S#!t Done

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I hate to break it to you, but it’s halfway through January already. How’s that New Year’s resolution going for you? Are you still going strong, or is willpower beginning to fade?

The first week of commitment to something new is always a honeymoon period for me. It’s full of excitement and motivation, and I’m proud of every temptation I manage to resist. It gives me something to think about to get me through dull days at work, and something to look forward to doing later- like cooking a healthy meal, writing another post, or finishing a song I’ve been working on.

Then, I get to the swampy middle. It’s a dark place, full of alligators and mosquitos and undead voodoo priestesses. All of these dangers once seemed cool and exciting and I thought I was strong enough to handle them, but like a character in an adventure novel, I begin to long for the comforts of my mosquito-free couch and the safety of losing myself in a Netflix binge. My motivation wanes. The goal seems further away than it ever has. I’ve given up and gone back to my couch lots of times when I get to this point- but there have also been times I’ve slogged on and reaped the rewards. I highly recommend the latter, it’s worth the tiny bit of sanity you lose along the way. In case you’ve also found yourself in the swampy middle lately, here are some tips and tricks that work for me to get me past the ‘gators.

1. The 15 minute rule. You can sit around and wait for motivation and inspiration to do that thing you just don’t feel like doing right now. That is an option.  Unfortunately though, if I waited to do things only when I felt like it, there would be a lot of things that didn’t get done- and nothing would ever happen on time. I like to enforce the fifteen minute rule on days when I reaaaaaally don’t want to sit my butt in my chair and do something. Turn off all distractions, put your phone across the room, and set a timer for fifteen minutes and work on it. If you scrap everything you’ve done at the end of the fifteen minutes because it’s awful, then fine. If you don’t do anything else after that fifteen minutes, also fine. At least you did something- and, once you get started and are able to focus, you might even find you’re in the mood after all.

2. Find your best time. The last summer of college, I didn’t have that many obligations. I didn’t work every day, so I got to wake up when I felt like it, go to sleep when I felt like it, and work on my own projects when I felt like it. I found that between the hours of about 11:30 and 5:30, I’m not nearly as productive as I am earlier in the morning and after dinner hours.Learning this was absolutely invaluable though, because it meant I could scheduele dates with friends and time in the sun during my least productive hours for a break, and then make sure I had the rest of the day free when I knew I’d get more out of my time. I realized slogging through the afternoon when my brain decided to be uncooperative was not beneficial to everyone, because by the time I got to the evening, I was desperate for a break and got half as much done as I wanted to. Learn when you’re able to work best (even if that means waking up at 5am or staying up too late on a work night), and then make the best out of the hours you know you’re at your most creative.

 

 

3. Create a deadline. If there’s never a deadline for you to finish your goals, it’s easy to procrastinate and put things off indefinitely. If you set yourself an end date (or multiple end dates), you can hold yourself accountable and it makes it easier to know what you should be schedueling in, and when, in order to meet that deadline. It also helps to compete or work with a friend. If you know someone else is going to be counting on you to do your part, or if there’s a real and mostly immediate consequence for not achieving your goals, (like having to listen to your friend gloat about beating you), then you’re more likely to hold yourself to it.

4. Break it down. Sometimes, a goal can seem too daunting. For example, if your goal is to read 50 books in a year, that can seem like a lot. Even breaking it down to one book a week can seem like a lot when you have work and other obligations! A great way to reduce anxiety is to break a goal down into its simplest steps. You could break each book down to a certain number of pages a day, and then commit yourself to reading 15 pages at breakfast, or 30 pages on the bus ride home. Break it down to its most easily achievable minigoals, and it will feel a lot more easy to swallow- and you’ll feel good for achieving something, even if you don’t meet every mini goal along the way.

5. Find some support. Even if your family and friends are on board with your goals, it’s even better to be able to have a community around you who’s going through the same thing or trying to achieve something similar. If you can’t rope some friends into helping you achieve your goals, look online for message boards or twitter chats or subreddits (or create some of your own) to talk to people doing the same thing to help motivate you and keep you accountable. With the whole of the internet at your fingertips, there’s no excuse to go through it alone!

What are some tricks you use to help you stay productive? Let me know in the comments!

Tinder Dating Diaries: Awkward Moments Edition

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Dating guys I met on the shallowest app I’ve ever seen may not seem like an accident, but for me, it has sort of happened that way. Like a lot of people, I started using Tinder out of curiosity, and then continued using it just because it was entertaining. It’s a good way to kill some time in line at the grocery store, and get a quick ego boost while I’m at it (even though we all know most guys swipe right on everyone anyway…). While I suppose it’s not impossible to find your soulmate on Tinder, I never took it seriously. I’m not even all that interested in dating right now, much less blind dates which can be awkward or even scary with the wrong person.

Despite that though, I’ve so far managed to get three dates from Tinder without intending to, and I haven’t even gotten a little bit murdered like my mother would assume would happen. This is why my family can’t know I blog- who would I tell all my secrets to then, hmm? My cat is a terrible listener. It all starts with an innoccuous message that’s interesting enough to be worth responding to (most of them aren’t), and then some conversation for a few days that makes me think that we could get on- and then by the time the all-important ask comes around I’m too curious to say no. Some of the dates went well. Others… not so much.

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3 Things to Do to Pretend You’re a Grown-up



I don’t really claim to know anything about being an adult. I’m 22, and I vehemently do not want to grow up completely. Yes, I do my own dishes and pay bills, but I still have never had a relationship last more than six months, or had my own car, or had a serious talk with someone about my retirement fund. Still, I manage to fake it quite convincingly sometimes. Here are a few grown-up things to start doing to convince people around you that you’ve got it all together.

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1. Write thank you notes. 

When I was little, my mom used to make me write thank you notes after Christmas and birthdays. I was never too keen on the habit then. I was always grateful for my gifts, don’t get me wrong, but thank you notes always felt a little redundant. Now, though, I’m glad I learned early.

Thank you notes are the kind of thing that make you stand out. People love to feel appreciated, especially when it’s just the little things. Thank you notes tell people that you think about them, that their contribution of time or money or advice or stuff meant something to you- and people respond to people who make them feel appreciated. Go ahead, buy some cute stationary and see what happens.

How to Choose a Bottle of Wine

2. Find out what kind of wine you like.

It may not be your drink of choice, but sometime, somewhere someone’s going to ask you to pick something off the wine list and you’re going to want to know what you like. Whether it’s a fancy restaurant with your new boss, or trying to impress a boyfriend’s parents with a good wine selection when they invite you over to dinner, you’re going to be happy you know what to pick when the time comes even if you still exclusively order appletinis and shots at the bar. Even if you already drink wine, it’s good to know whether that $8 bottle is going to be a hidden gem or taste like mouthwash.

The best way to do it is go to a wine tasting with a friend- or host one yourself. You provide the snacks, everyone else brings a bottle, and you spend the night eating cheese and getting a bit tipsy. Here are some good infographics to get you started too!

3. Figure out the difference between cheap-but-good stuff, investment purchases, and doesn’t-fit-in-my-budget-but-I-“need”-it stuff. 

Unless you’re lucky enough to have an unlimited bank account (hint: you aren’t), you’re going to have to figure out the difference between three kinds of stuff. In high school, you probably bought a lot of $15 bras that wore out after two months and $20 perfumes that made you smell like a giant vanilla cupcake dipped in rubbing alcohol. You’ve probably come to realize since then that there’s a difference between cheap and good quality. Is everything expensive good quality? No. You learned that after buying that $30 mascara that flaked off and left you looking like an early-career Avril Lavigne. If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably also had those moments where you walk into a store and suddenly need a lot of things that you didn’t know you needed until you saw all the pretty colours lined up on a shiny shelf.

You know you’re an adult when you can pick out the difference between that $10 vintage bag that will last you a few years of wear and tear, the $10 bag at that shop in the mall that will fall apart the first time you wash it, and the $450 bag that is so cute but you don’t want to have to spend the next three months paying it off (plus interest) on your credit card. Learn what things you should spend a lot of money on (a good winter coat), and what things you are better off finding elsewhere for cheaper (designer jeans). Splurge wisely, my friends, and only on things that are truly worthy of your hard-earned cash.

What are the best things you started doing to fake adultness?

Music Listening Habits – A Year In Review

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When I tell people that I have an exact record of almost all the music I’ve listened to since my junior year of highschool, they’re usually pretty impressed. I’ve been using Last.fm religiously for years now, and while I haven’t been happy with the changes they’ve made post-Spotify-acquisition, I’m still addicted to their stats. I love being able to have daily/weekly/monthly/yearly/all-time counts of the artists and songs I listen to. Every now and then going through my library brings out forgotten gems that I haven’t listened to in years, or helps me discover similar artists. It also tracks every guilty pleasure I listen to, too (those occassional pick-me-up Britney plays sure do add up).

I thought that since it’s a new year and all, I’d go through last year’s stats and do a year in review of what I’ve discovered, listened to, and rejected!

Most played artist: The Cab 

This really surprised me, since Natalia Kills has ruled my charts ever since Zombie came out a few years ago, but I’ve been obsessed with their EP and their new album Symphony Soldiers. I don’t usually listen to a significant amount of rock, but they just hit the spot. Vegas Nights is still one of my go-to acapella dishwashing songs, and Temporary Bliss and Animal are just plain addictive. They win the highest rank by 22 plays at a whopping 248 plays this year.

Most played song: COBRA by Marie-Mai

This one also surprised me. It’s a catchy song, but by no means my favorite. It was definitely on repeat a lot on my gym playlist though, which is probably a big reason why it got here. Marie-Mai is a French Canadian artist that I don’t imagine many people outside of Canada have heard of, which is a real shame. She’s not anything special musically, but she delivers solid albums on a regular basis and one of her songs usually makes it on whatever playlist I’m making at the moment.

Top 8 Artists:

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Top 5 Songs:

1 Loved track
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Top Artists in December for the Past 5 Years:

2010 – Orianthi, Amy Pearson, and FM Static

2011 – Annie, Cassie Davis, and Lillix

2012 – Jessie J, My Favorite Highway, and Example

2013 – This Providence, The Classic Crime, and Dinah Washington

2014 – Banks, The Cab, and Tove Lo

I definitely cannot stomach all of the sickly sweet pop I used to listen to, and you can see how I’ve branched out over the years. I haven’t listened to half the artists in 2010-2012 in a long time. I think it shows how I’ve matured, and how my music taste has matured. There are more artists I respect musically in my library now than there were before. I feel like I’m able to appreciate different styles now that I’ve taken my own musicianship more seriously. I love seeing how much I’ve changed- or how little in some cases (My Favorite Highway is an enduring love).

Musicians I Can’t Believe I Just Heard This Year

Agnes Obel – I don’t usually like downbeat, relaxing, acoustic music. It’s not the kind of music I make or listen to. But Agnes… Agnes is different. She is simple and beautiful and yet interesting all at once. I listen to Tokka on repeat a lot still- it will never get old for me.

Tove Lo – She just appeared on the scene this year, and while I think Habits is definitely overplayed by now, I don’t think she’s overrated. Musically, she’s not the most talented I’ve ever heard, but some of her gritty lyrics just get me in a way that I haven’t been gotten before. I’m not sure if that’s me growing up or just her talent, but either way, she was one of my top five this year.

Karmin – Not usually the type I listen to, but there’s no denying that these kids have style. It’s a guilty pleasure. I’m not sure whether it was the intro to Gasoline that won me over, where it shows off the male half of the duo’s smooth as melted chocolate voice, or whether it was her honesty in the Acapella bridge where she sings falsetto and can’t hit the high notes. Either way, I don’t care what anyone thinks. They’re catchy and fun and I need some of that in my life.

Foxes – I played White Coats, Youth and Clarity on repeat so much that I’ve started to get a bit sick of them all, to be honest. Foxes rides the line between ‘basic pop’ and ‘interesting electronic’ to create chemistry without seeming dull or too obscure. Plus, her hooks are so much fun to belt out, it’s hard not to get addicted.

Broods – Some of their songs are absolutely haunting, and I think they’re a good embodiment of the kind of music that I didn’t start falling for until recently. They hit all the right notes for what they’re trying to achieve and I fell hard for Sleep Baby Sleep this year.

Adele – No, seriously. I didn’t start listening her until this year. Someone Like You made my breakup playlist, and I gotta admit, it’s hard not to sing along.

My musical new years resolution: listen to more of the good stuff, and less pure ear candy! What does your music library look like now compared to a year ago?

The Kind of Friend I Want to be in 2015

I’m a very goal-oriented girl, which means that when New Years rolls around, I’m all over that resolution bandwagon. Most years, I include a lot of the usual- lose that last 10 pounds, find the love of my life, read more, get organized, drink more water… But this year, I didn’t do any of that. There’s nothing wrong with using the new year as a motivator/convenient start date, but resolutions felt redundant to me this time around as I already have a clear idea of what I want and the person I want to be.

In the spirit of the season, though, I will let you guys in on a few things I want to do better in 2015. These ones aren’t all about me or making myself happier, though that is a part of it. It’s inspired by the fact that I’ve lost quite a few good friends this year. Graduating university was a big part of the reason for it- you know you’ll lose touch with most of your circle, or at least hardly ever see each other unless you’re lucky. I lost some through a breakup, and others through moving away. My social circle shrunk en masse this year. I’ll keep in touch with the good ones as much as I can, and of course I’ll create a new group of friends, but some of the ones I lost really inspired me to be a better person. This year, I want to honour the impact they had on me and try to steal a few of their best qualities so I can be that kind of friend to someone else.

The Compassionate One. We all know that being selfless is a double-edged sword. No one wants to end up forgetting about themselves because they’re so busy taking care of other people. The kind of compassion I saw in this friend removed all my fears about becoming that kind of person, though. They were constantly being truly thoughtful to the people around them.  They were really able to see life from another person’s perspective and relate to that- they were genuine, not just nice, and they made others feel appreciated and listened to. People responded to that. What I saw in return was a genuine desire to help from everyone from close friends to office secretaries. I always felt like people would do whatever they could to help him out because they felt like it would be appreciated. If I could be half that thoughtful to the people around me, my relationships with everyone would improve, and I think it would open doors for good things to happen.

The Passionate One. I only knew him for a couple of months and we don’t talk anymore, but I still think about him every now and then. He was getting his PhD in biochemical physics, and is probably one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. While I’m not much of a physics geek, the way he talked about his work was infectious. His whole face would light up when he talked about it, and the way he explained it made me excited too, even though I usually wouldn’t be that interested. It was obvious that he was incredibly passionate about what he did, and his enthusiasm was contagious. I love to talk about what I love, but my journey with my passions hasn’t been all sunflowers and unicorns and skipping down the yellow brick road. I don’t want the hard times I’ve had to taint the way I feel about those things, or to hurt the way I talk about them. If I could be half as contagious as he was when talking about those things, I’d be a happy girl.

The Silly One. I didn’t know her very well, but when I did get to know her just a little, I was shocked at how I wrote her off. Backstory: I went to an ivy league school, and took the kind of program that just begs for me to be surrounded by those girls. You know who I’m talking about. Trendy hair, drunk every weekend, a new boyfriend every week, huge collection of designer bags (and only designer), three starbucks runs a day… I would regularly hear girls complaining about their constant trips to Europe/Hawaii/insert vacation destination here, and how all they wanted to do was get a tan and shag the hotel staff. I didn’t think girls that shallow even existed outside of movies/California. Boy, was I wrong.

In the last year of my program though, the classes were small, and we all had to talk and try to get along just for the sake of making class bearable. I got to know some of those girls. Some of them thought I wasn’t worth their time, but others… well, they were alright. They were nice, and welcoming, and even if they were a bit silly and shallow and didn’t have many real world problems, I feel like I missed out on what could have been a fun friendship because I judged a girl by the way she talked. I feel embarrassed at being so wrong, and I don’t want to judge and miss out again.

 

I’m a good friend in my own right, and I have my own strengths. I want to be a better one next year, though, and these people I lost definitely inspire me. Who in your life inspires you to be a better person?