Monday, March 31, 2014

Holi Celebration in Ann Arbor

Yesterday, the Hindu Students Council and Indian Students Association hosted a Holi celebration on the Diag, and it was literally the most fun I've had in a long time! Holi, which was on March 17 this year, is the Hindu festival of colors and love, and it also marks the beginning of spring. While there is much more to the religious celebrations, Holi entails chasing people with paint powder (think Color Run-style), running around, and just having fun! Everybody wins--you want to put powder on other people but you want to come out just as colorful, yourself!

c/o Luciole Press Blog

I went with my roommate Josie and two of her friends on a whim. I had a lot of homework to do, but I thought, this is what I'll remember, throwing paint around with my friends on a beautiful day--not homework!

Before entering the tarped area (the only place where we were allowed to throw paint), everyone received a Ziploc bag filled with paint powder, but I saw a lot of people with non-Ziploc bags of paint. Upon further investigation, these paint bags had come straight from India! Those who had them either had family in India who sent them or they brought them back from India themselves. Either way, I thought it was really cool to be donning "true" Holi paint!

People of all races, religions, and ethnicities were there, and it was truly a celebration of diversity on this campus. We threw paint around, danced to Bollywood music, chased strangers, and had an exceptional time. We only got about 10-15 minutes in the tarped area before it was the next group's turn, but I'm just thankful I got to have this amazing cultural experience. Many of the people there had celebrated Holi before, either in India, with family in the U.S., or at Michigan, yet they were all so excited to share this custom with everyone else. Everyone was just so loving, accepting, and friendly! I've been wanting to go to India for quite some time now, and now I want to go even more!

The aftermath.

Have any of you ever celebrated Holi?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

French Goodies I Miss

By now, you should all know that I spent my summer interning in France and that I'm a French major. Well in one of my French classes, we do a Skype exchange with an English class in Bordeaux, and we sent each other boxes of goodies from our respective countries!

My partner, Yann, is actually from Réunion, which an island off of Madagascar that is a French overseas department. That still means he has French citizenship, though, and he's lived in Bordeaux for a few years now. He asked me what I wanted, and I had two requests, both of which he fulfilled...

...Orangina-flavored Haribo gummies and a French magazine!

Sure, they sell Orangina and they sell Haribo gummies in the U.S., but they definitely don't sell this amazing hybrid! They're my absolute favorite!

Obviously, this has gotten me thinking about France, and how much I miss certain foods and experiences. So I'm going to take a walk down memory lane and tell you about some of these amazing things!

1. Crème de marrons (chestnut cream)
This is a sugary chestnut spread, emphasis on sugary. It has no chocolate, but if you like Nutella, you'd love this! Spread some on a tranche de baguette (piece of baguette) or gaufre (waffle), use it as a beignet filling, the options are endless. Basically, treat it like you'd treat Nutella.

c/o Lucky Mum

2. Les librairies (French bookstores)
Sure, we still have the looming Barnes and Noble, but American bookstores have nothing on French bookstores. As the French have not (yet) moved onto the Kindle and other electronic forms of reading, bookstores are still a thriving business. I loved browsing the local bookstores for novels to read, such as L'été 76 and Dans les forêts de Sibérie, but the best were the anciens livres, or old-book stores. There are shops completely dedicated to these historical treasures, but they come with a steep price--for example, such an old edition of Les Misérables costs over 1000 euros, or over $1300! These stores also sell old maps, prints (of which I bought many), etc. For the most part, though, the shopkeepers are delighted to talk about their books, even if you're not interested in buying any.

There are stores with books like these all over France.
c/o Camille Sourget

3. Le reblochon (reblochon cheese)
It really is a shame that unpasteurized cheese is illegal in the United States, because it's the best French cheese in my opinion. It's creamy and soft (a little firmer than brie), and it goes great with baguette or with jam. A kid in my French class actually received reblochon in our box of goodies but, of course, it went stale during its trans-Atlantic transport. So when we opened the box in class, we were greeted by that, um, pungent scent. Hey, at least it makes a funny story!

c/o AgroCôtéFerme

4. Les boulangeries (bread-and-pastry shops)
There are stores that devoted to baguettes, brioches, croissants, pains au chocolat, éclairs, tartes, and just about every other French bread and pastry known to man on almost every corner. Please remind me why this isn't a thing in the U.S.?!

c/o Inspire & Charm

5. Le petit déjeuner français (French breakfast)
Toasted baguette, whipped butter, fruit preservatives, un pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant), orange juice, and café au lait. Need I say more?

This was my actual breakfast on my last day in France. Another one can't come soon enough!

I know a lot of you have been abroad. What's something you miss (and from where)?

A très bientôt, la France!

Influenster Uni VoxBox

After spending months on Influenster, I finally qualified for a VoxBox! Influenster is basically a site where you can write reviews about products, and if you're active enough on social media, you can qualify for free boxes to review (called VoxBoxes). I received the Uni VoxBox, which is targeted to college girls. Here's what was inside:

The box!

The first thing that caught my eye were these imPRESS press-on nails by Broadway Nails. The flower pattern isn't totally my style, but I'll definitely still try them. Hey, they could be really cute!

This foundation was the reason why the box took so long to receive--the color was customized to your skin! I tried the foundation today and really liked it. However, I've never used foundation--only BB or CC cream--so I accidentally used too much and got it all over my eyebrows, eyelashes, etc...oops! Once I cleaned up, it looked really good, and I learned my lesson that less is more.

I'm going to be honest, I reallllly don't like plain black tea, so trying this didn't even sound appealing. I actually passed this along to my dad, who's a tea aficionado, for him to keep at work. Hopefully he enjoys it!

This wouldn't be a Uni VoxBox without school supplies! Pilot is my favorite pen brand, and their Acroball PureWhite pens are inspired by Pantone colors. I want this in every color now!

Now for my absolute favorite item in the box: NYC lipstick in Fuchsia Forever. I tried it on, and it is an exact dupe for Mac's Candy Yum Yum--and costs a fraction of the price! I've had my eye on that color but didn't feel like shelling out $15. Once I run out of this, I know I can replace it for a mere $1.50 or so. I LOVE IT!

Finally, Playtex Sport tampons. I'm not going to get into more detail, but I gave these away. Still, a very useful item for college girls!

Overall, this was a solid box for my first VoxBox, and it valued at around $25. I hope to qualify for many more in the future! My favorite items were the lipstick and foundation, and least favorite were the tea drops and tampons (items I won't use). Still, it's always great to try new products--I'd never heard of NYC (which stands for New York Color), had never used Rimmel, and didn't know about Pilot's new pen line!

Full disclosure: I received these products compliments of Influenster to review, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How To Snag Airfare For Under $100 (Seriously)

Who here loves to travel but has trouble affording it? (I'm looking at you, my fellow college students!) That's definitely the case with me, but I manage to travel by paying under $100 out of pocket for domestic round trips--sometimes, I've gotten away with paying nothing.

If you, too, want to learn how to fly for virtually nothing, check out my guest post on Whispering Sweet Nothings! Special thanks to Shane for letting me share my tips with her readers.

Where would you travel if you could fly anywhere in the world for free?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Love in a Box Blogger Swap (March 2014)

This month, I decided to join the Love in a Box swap hosted by Megan of Lush to Blush and Kimberly of Kimberly's Chronicle. Basically, you get randomly paired up with another blogger with whom to exchange a cute box of gifts, and it's a great way to meet new people and get new goodies at the same time! I got paired up with Brooke of You're In Brookelynn (clever name, right?), who runs a fashion and lifestyle blog. If you like jewelry, floral prints, and pastel colors with a twist, her blog is for you. Check it out!

Now onto the box she sent me... BTW, Brooke really hit the nail on the head with this one.

The first thing I noticed was the card. Even before I opened up the gifts, I knew it was going to be an amazing box--come on, she fit the card to my favorite things! I'm actually planning on framing it as a print (I'm dead serious)!

Of course, next I had to see what the bulky thing was...a candle! I LOVE candles. Like me, the pink stripes are super preppy, and the candle smells great to boot.

This bracelet was the second thing I opened. I love that the pink leather and gems make it girly, but the chain links add an edge. I can't wait to wear it!

WASHI TAPE. I have been wanting washi tape for soooo long, but have never really needed it--you know how it goes. Now I have the perfect excuse to get to crafting and finally try it out!

I told Brooke I love makeup and beauty products, so I was happily surprised to find all of this! There are three eyeshadows, a dual red-orange/gold lipstick, black eyeliner (which I'm already wearing--I've been needing one!), favorite...scented nail polish. I've been seeing everyone post about Revlon's new scented-polish line for quite some time now, so I nearly shrieked when I saw that Brooke gave me a bottle! I just painted my nails with it, and it really does smell like apricots after it dries!

Last but not least, candy. Gummies are my favorite kind of candy, so I was very giddy to see that I got Swedish Fish and Haribo bears!

And just look how cute everything looks together!

Thank you so much, Brooke! You can see what I sent her here. And if you're a blogger and want to sign up for future swaps, click here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

POPSUGAR Must Have Unveiling (March 2014)

March 2014

I've been super curious about the POPSUGAR Must Have box, but the $40/month price is way too steep for me. However, once I learned that I'd receive $10 off of my first box (I may have also felt a bit extra indulgent that day), I knew I had to try it!

While there is only one POPSUGAR Must Have box each month (i.e., everyone receives the same box), I'm going to do a product review and reveal at the request of some of my lovely blogger friends. Here we go! (And keep in mind that I only paid $30 for all of this.)

Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps ($2 value)

The first thing that caught my eye was this package of snap pea crisps. I normally don't like peas (or vegetables, for that matter), but these are DELICIOUS! They're crunchy and (not too) salty, and the only ingredients are green peas, corn oil, rice, salt, calcium carbonate, and vitamin C. I need to buy these again.

Jurlique Herbal Recovery Advanced Serum ($27 value)

Surprisingly, I'm really excited about this serum. Even though I'm only 21, I've been thinking about buying an anti-aging cream--it's never too early to start, right? Plus, I've only heard amazing things about Jurlique. I only just started using the serum, but hopefully it'll do its job! Jurlique also included a 15% off coupon for its website.

ActiveForever Fusion Exercise Ball ($9.95 value)

This 7.5" exercise ball arrives flat, but it comes with a straw to ease the process of inflation. I've never done too much with exercise balls, and I honestly doubt I'll use it while I'm still in school (oops), but it's definitely something I can keep and use in the future.

Dogeared Lucky Horseshoe necklace ($30 value)

The idea behind this necklace, which is a gold-plated horseshoe charm on a silk string, is that you make a wish when putting it on, and supposedly that wish comes true when the necklace falls off. As I don't like the feeling of wet string (and don't want to ruin/lose it!), I'm wearing it as a normal necklace. It's beautifully delicate and goes with just about everything. Also, the box included a 20% coupon to Dogeared. I don't need anything, but it's tempting!

BaubleBar Elephant Ring Tree ($12 value)

How adorable is this little guy? I've actually been eyeing BaubleBar's silver ring trees, but never bought one. I was so happy to receive this in my box! It houses my rings perfectly and makes a really cute display. Like Jurlique and Dogeared, BaubleBar included a coupon (20% off). I know that'll come in handy the next time I need a gift!

Brokedown Blue Ikat Scarf ($72 value)

Although Brokedown is now selling the scarf on its website, the design was made for the POPSUGAR Must Have box. And look how beautiful! It's lightweight and colorful, and the colors and pattern stand out but aren't too busy. Basically, it's perfect. I have nothing else to say about it.

Total box value: $152.95

Was it worth the $30? Um...yes! I got all of these items for less than 80%(!) off!

If you're dying to get your hands on one of these now (and why wouldn't you?), you can become a Must Have subscriber here. And if you order before March 25, use code MARCH10 to get $10 off your first box, too! (And if you miss out on that and still are interested, email me--I'll find the code du jour for you ;)).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Kate Spade Giveaway!

Raise your hand if you love Kate Spade. I'm guessing that's everybody, right? It must be your lucky day! A few of us bloggers teamed up to offer you the opportunity to win a Kate Spade $100 gift card along with a couple of other goodies! (Special thanks to Allison of allisonleighann for organizing it!)

Here are my top Kate Spade picks from the new Capri collection:

Clockwise from top left: Thalia Top ($228), Keds for Kate Spade New York Pointer Sneakers ($75),

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

$100 to Kate Spade
Bow Decal
Half Glitter/Half Pink Canvas

a Rafflecopter giveaway 
What would you buy if you won?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Birchbox Unveiling (March 2014)

March 2014

I was so excited when my Birchbox arrived yesterday! I knew it would have a spring theme, but was really good and didn't look at my box spoilers beforehand. This made opening it even more exciting!

Here are the products I received.

Air Repair Rescue Balm: full size costs $12; sample value is $2.00(?)

I had a horrible dry, flaky patch on my nose for the past few days (thank you, winter weather), which persisted despite my constant usage of lotion. But I put a tiny drop of this balm on the spot, and an hour later it had no only absorbed into my skin (without feeling greasy) but it completely got rid of the dry patch. I also went to bed last night with a tiny bit all over my face and lips, and my skin woke up feeling soft and amazing. This is a miracle balm, I'm telling you! I'm definitely buying it when my sample runs out (or maybe when I get my next paycheck next week)!

COOLA Tinted Matte SPF 30 for Face: full size costs $36; sample value is $3.60

I'm headed to Texas next week and can only take a carry-on...meaning only carry-on-sized products. This is going to be perfect for those long days outdoors when I'll want to keep my makeup intact and protect my face from sunburn.

Curly Hair Solutions Curl Keeper: full size costs $10; sample value is $3.00

I don't have curly hair, so I'm not sure what this product will do for me. Nevertheless, I'll try it--maybe it'll make my hair look even silkier than when I use my argan oil! If I don't like it, I'll pass it along to my roommate, who has very curly hair. I just wish the packaging were resealable--but that's what Ziploc bags are for.

Vasanti Cosmetics BrightenUp! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator: full size costs $34; sample value is $5.67

I just used this on my face, and it made it feel really soft! It was more of a soapy consistency than an exfoliating one, which was nice--it still did the job, but was super gentle. However, other than the papaya enzymes in it, it doesn't seem to be anything special. I'll use up the sample, but I wouldn't spend $34 on it.

Mighty Leaf Tea tea pouches in Chamomile Citrus, Green Tea Tropical, and Organic Earl Grey: full size costs $9.95; sample value is $1.99

I just love getting tea samples from Birchbox! (I received teas from Ahmad Tea in my January box.) Other than the earl grey, the flavors are extremely different from any other tea I've seen. I can't wait to steep them!

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cherry Tango chocolate square: full size costs $4.25; sample value is $0.33

I may not have amazing self-control with sweets, but I'm definitely saving this for when I need a quick pick-me-up. I love cherries, almonds, and chocolate, individually and together, so I'm expecting to love this! My one qualm is that it's dark chocolate (I definitely need a more sophisticated palate), so I'm hoping that it has a powerful cherry/almond flavor.

Total value: $16.59

I was a bit disappointed when I opened my box this month, but I got over that after about five minutes. I love everything I got, but I think the Air Repair is definitely going to remain my favorite product, despite it's teeny size!

Do you subscribe to Birchbox? Let me know what you got in yours--I love seeing everything!