professional: face

One of the biggest differences between a professional and an unprofessional look, that I’ve noticed, is make up and hair. It doesn’t have to be fancy or bold — but those people who daily perform a bit of maintenance and touching-up on the face always seem, at the very least, a bit more pulled together. As such, a personal challenge was to take the extra time in the morning to tend to my face and hair and figure out how long and how challenging it would be to do so on a daily basis.

Daily Morning Preparations

I love sleep. Which makes it all the more challenging to get up an extra ten minutes early to do make up, and another ten minutes to do my hair. Because really, I could just roll out of bed and get that extra twenty minutes if I don’t mind looking a little red in the face with some bed-head.


This was an easy fix, honestly: I just chopped it all off. No shit. As a present to myself for graduating, I went to DASS hair salon and got a hair cut from a little Asian woman with broken English. My hair is now super short, and super easy to style. I just wash it in the morning, then towel it off, and pull the fronts of my hair forward so they all vaguely fall in the same line. It ends up looking like a 20s bob if I do it right. Sometimes, if I’m feeling particularly energetic, I blow dry it forward, which takes a grand total of about 2 minutes. It’s fantastic, and it looks great, and it’s super easy.

Make up

For about a year now, I have been trying to “figure out” make up. It stems from dancing, where everyone always looks so fantastic, and I wanted to join the club. So I started working on it. However, I really only knew how to do make up for a night of dancing — no foundation or anything, because it’d all sweat off in seconds anyways; dark lipstick for those nights of dancing in my sexy pencil skirts; lots of mascara. Et cetera.

Working at BR, though, I’ve had to figure out some more “professional” make up. And here’s what I’ve learned, with the most important one at the top!

  • the best all-day foundation combination (for me) is tinted moisturizer as a base layer, with a dusting of bare essentials over top. It completely eliminates all redness and blotchiness, giving my face an even and natural look which I’ve never been able to achieve before. Better yet, it lasts all day! (Unless my nose is runny, at which point my nose will turn red by lunch time.)
  • lighter-colored lipsticks are awesome. Especially the pinks, which are just bright and happy. Find a shade which works for you!
  • mascara should be lighter, but still be present, because it makes my eyes so large…
  • eye shadow color does not need to coordinate with what I’m wearing.

And if you want to sleep in, these are the basic things you need every day for a vaguely professional look (that I’ve figured so far):

  • foundation of some sort (to manage the blotchy, “I just got up” look)
  • eye liner
  • mascara
  • chapstick (gives a glossy look to your lips without having to put on lipstick).

I mean, that last bit doesn’t look completely professional. But it doesn’t look like I just got out of bed.


Start Date: 17 December 2010
End Date: 23 December 2010

Personal Success Rating: 8/10. I rocked this challenge. BUT, like the last challenge, I should have realized what I was doing and done it intentionally, and I wish I’d had pictures.


professional: wardrobe

In general, college students don’t exactly concern themselves with personal presentation. T-shirts and jeans is the most common wardrobe combination, but pajamas are not uncommon. Hoodies and slippers are a must. Makeup is optional, especially before 11am (or even before 8pm, when you’re preparing to go out with friends). So while I was never sported my pajamas outside of the bedroom, I also never wore heels to class unless I wanted to, and I never put on makeup unless I had a reason to.

One of my most personal concerns about moving to the professional world is how to appear professional. Inherent in this concern are two separate issues: my wardrobe, and my morning preparations for personal presentation.

This post is all about the wardrobe, which is definitely the most…expensive aspect of a professional wardrobe.


A Professional Wardrobe

It is, to say the least, challenging to try to define what a professional wardrobe requires. A few button-down oxfords, a few pencil skirts, some slacks.  While I own one oxford, four pencil skirts, and three pairs of slacks…that gets incredibly boring after a week. And either it smells, or I have to do laundry for that one oxford every single night.

Upon looking through my wardrobe, I found I do have a bit more I can wear: some blouses, especially, help boost the number of tops I can wear. But most of my clothes are either too dressy (which I wear out to dances) or too casual (the “College Student” wardrobe issue). And I couldn’t wear a pencil skirt every day, no matter how much I love them. Thus, despite my lack of “fashion sense,” I was incredibly excited to start my new job at Banana Republic.

At BR, I had to work seven days in a row. At first, I was intimidated, because…well, what was I going to wear? As the week went on, however, I managed. Granted, I also bought a whole bunch of clothes in the middle of the week (part one of a graduation present to myself), but I still would have managed otherwise. Here’s what I’ve learned.


Camisoles. Sweaters. Vests. And most important: Cardigans. Any slightly less-than-professional shirt can be made classy with a simple color-coordinating cardigan. Vests also take a less-professional shirt (say, a simple monotone scoop neck) and immediately dress it up.


“Statement” pieces. Belts. And my favorite: Scarves. “Statement” pieces are any large piece of jewelry which looks vaguely fashionable. Belts, when not used to hold up your pants, should be draped across your waist or fastened right under your boobs and automatically dress up any simple shirt. And scarves — every color, every pattern, every texture: not for the sake of warmth, but the sake of fashion. Wear them.

If you ever want some examples on how to look professional…just go into Banana Republic (or a similar store) and look at the mannequins. Professional examples, every time. And you can even buy an exact replica of their current outfit! (Ah, the joys of consumerism and mass production…)


Looking back, I realized this had been a personal seven-day-challenge. As such, it’s complete! And entirely on accident. Sadly, I have no pictures — first because I had no phone, and second because I hadn’t thought about completing the challenge as I was doing it. But if I get a chance, I will post a picture of what I wear the next few days I work there so you can see how professional I’ve become!

Start Date: 17 December 2010
End Date: 23 December 2010

Personal Success Rating: 8/10. I should have realized what I was doing, and I should have had pictures! But in the end, the challenge was successful! And that’s what matters in the long run.

Tomorrow, I shall post about the daily preparations!

happy holidays!

One of the best things about my family is how much I enjoy going home just to hang out with them. Which was pretty much why I looked forward to Christmas so much.

It wasn’t the most eventful Christmas, as far as my family goes — but then again, we always have a pretty laid back family gathering. We watch a bunch of movies, and we eat a lot of food, and we laugh a lot. That last bit being my favorite part. The most hilarious gift this year, in fact, was a coffee mug with a thermometer which could be plugged into the car to reheat your coffee…and man, did we laugh over that.

I finally gave my mom the hugely long project I’ve been working on. There will be pictures of it as soon as I’m actually finished (there’s just some finishing work to be done, but it’s getting close!). During the process of making it, I actually took a lot of progressive pictures of my work…but sadly, they were all lost with my phone. :( I might have some in the recesses of my email, but only a couple, and that’s really honestly sad. Probably the saddest thing about losing my phone, in fact.

In other news, though, I HAVE A NEW PHONE. Finally. I was getting frustrated with not talking to my parents!

The next couple of posts will be about challenges I accidentally (?) completed over the last couple weeks.

baking love!

On Wednesday, I spent my last day working in the Music and Media Library at Emory University. I have to admit — the Library jobs I’ve had the last four years have been the best of my experience thus far in life. And though I’m sure that there are plenty of great jobs out there, I am not sure I will ever find people as consistently pleasant to work with (see more specific special thanks below).

I won’t lie — as happy as I am to graduate, I am sad to leave the library. As such, I baked a thank-you present for my supervisors: just a little warm love in the spirit of Christmas, right? And as a challenge, I feel I would do a disservice if I didn’t include the results! So here you go! Recipes courtesy of Kate Deal, who got them from Whole Foods and Martha Stewart, respectively.

Most of my ingredients were from Whole Foods, which significantly saved on the cost of spices, etc. If anyone’s curious about what I spent, check here. The total I spent, though, was just about $25.

And before we get started, a few things I’ve learned:

  • Make sure you have everything on the list before leaving the grocery store
  • Mixing by hand sucks. End of story.
  • Chopping Macademia nuts is easier when you crush them with the bottom of a glass first
  • Butter the pans really well.

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Maple Butterscotch Macademia Nut Blondies

1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1.5 sticks
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons maple extract
1.5 cups butterscotch chips
3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 350

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined. Mix in the maple extract. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until combined. Fold in the butterscotch chips and toasted macadamias.

Scoop the batter into a 9″ baking pan coated with nonstick spray – use an off-set spaulta to spread it evenly in the pan. Bake until golden and a toothpick placed near the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting.


White Chocolate Walnut Gingerbread Blondies

Makes about 3 dozen


10 oz. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1.25 cups light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup molasses
2.75 cups flour
1.25 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1.25 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1.25 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
10 ounces coarsely chopped white chocolate
1.5 cups coarsely chopped, lightly toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.  Spray a rimmed half-sheet pan (17X12 inches) with nonstick cooking spray.  Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the parchment.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 5 minutes.  Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat in the vanilla and molasses until combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just combined.  Mix in the white chocolate and walnuts.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until set and the edges are golden, 22-25 minutes.*  Let the bars cool completely in a pan on a wire rack.  Cut into squares or your desired shape.

*This recipe technically calls for it to be spread on a larger baking pan than a brownie pan, which is what I used; however, the thicker blondies come out really nice — just cook them a bit longer, keeping an eye on them for when it changes from gooey on the inside to just moist.


A special thanks to Tara and Colin, who were my bosses at my two respective jobs. Additionally, I had the pleasure to work with Jess, Joyce, Alfredo, Fran, Sara, Patrick, James, Lloyd, and at least twenty other people who were generally pleasant. And that’s only the full-time Library employees — with Grad Students and Undergrads, I also worked with Melissa for the entire time I was there, and then Nancy, Gary, Cyd, Matt, Andy, Animesh, Richard, Natalie…well, you get the idea. I LOVE YOU ALL.

Afternotes on the Challenge Parts:

This challenge was pretty straightforward! I’d never baked before, but it honestly wasn’t too challenging with a little help from Shelby and some good, easy recipe suggestions from Kate! I had to borrow a baking pan from a friend, and I really should have borrowed a mixer…but otherwise, it was easy to do on my own!

Completion date: 17 December 2010 (I took the blondies to the Library this morning!)

Personal Success Rating: 8/10 — partially due to completing the challenge late (though I honestly had some good excuses), and partially due to my slight inability to think ahead for mixers, not leaving molasses behind, and general chaos. BUT THE RESULTS TASTED SO GOOD!!!

the mapping project of doom

No shit. Of doom.

This project was started about mid to early September. We were to gather information about a project of our choice and create an informative map using GIS — really fun, and relatively straightforward. I chose a project having to do with sustainability initiatives in Newton County — I mapped organic and non-organic farms, and then I mapped farms which had the potential to be used in mixed-use development, which is a more sustainable community development practice.

The project was due December 10th. On December 9th, finally having obtained all the relevant information (you have no idea how hard it is to get a list of non-organic farms), I had compiled the relevant information and created two beautiful little maps.

I left my flash drive behind, and it was either lost or stolen. I received an extension until Tuesday the 14th — “Good Luck,” Dr. Page said.

So I worked my ass off. I was volunteering for a huge event on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but I skipped some things and went to the library to put in the time necessary. At some point, I mostly finished the maps and started writing the 8 – 10 page paper that was associated with the project. On Tuesday, I spend 2 hours writing the paper in the morning, then 3 hours writing the paper and analyzing how I could make the map better. At 2pm, I was almost finished — in fact, I was just writing the reference section. I copied and pasted a url, and stretched with my foot and the foot pushed against the computer…

…And somehow, the word document became corrupted. The last two lines of the document changed entirely into Japanese characters and random symbols. I immediately hit undo to fix it — and the rest of the document changed into Japanese symbols, bottom to top, right before my eyes.

Worst. Moment. Ever.

I walked down to the professor and told him what happened. He had a whole lot of sympathy, but I still had to turn the project in, end of story. I actually asked what would happen if I just didn’t turn the paper in — and though I wouldn’t fail, he said, he sincerely disapproved. And I have more respect for myself than that, honestly.

I received another extension: I had 24 hours to write the paper.

For the next three hours, I did nothing on my paper. I was at work in the Music and Media Library, and though we weren’t busy, I was so upset that I couldn’t even bring myself to open a word document. Then my schedule went like this:

Music and Media Library Work: 2:30 – 5pm
Banana Republic Job Training: 6pm – 10pm
Banana Republic First Day of Work: 8am – 10am, to learn the cash registers
Music and Media Last Day Ever: 12pm – 6pm
Banana Republic First Day of Work, Ctd: 7pm – 10pm

As you can see, I had very little time to work on my essay. But I refused to lose any more sleep over the essay, so when I was home from job training, I just went to sleep. The next day, I spent my time in the Music and Media, on my last day of work as a student, writing my paper. It took about 5 hours, and I saved it on a minimum of 3 different computers spread across the library.

Of course, when I went to turn it in, ECIT (where Dr. Page’s office is) had just closed for the day — it was 5:03, and holiday hours had just started, so they were no longer open until 7pm. I talked to a friend who works in the Library, and she agreed to turn in my paper for me this morning. And now, I’m done.

So pardon my French, but: fuck that project. It is over. And I will never have to look at it again.


So if you’re curious what happened to my plans to bake food for my fellow employees as a thank you, it clearly hasn’t happened yet. But it’s still in the works — in fact, I plan on going supply shopping this afternoon with my roommate!

swing and soul: “i’m the queen of france!”

As soon as I heard that Swing and Soul was back on for 2010, I signed up for a pass. Well, not literally — but I did immediately talk to Michelle about volunteering, because I knew I wanted to go. Since I’ve started dancing, S&S II was easily my favorite event…ever. Maybe it was because I’d just started getting the hang of dancing after a little over a year, or maybe that I had new and awesome friends coming to visit me, who I’d just met at SFLX…but it was easily the highlight of my dancing experience up to that point.

I would like to note that at S&S II, I made some significant friends for the first time — most notably: Rachel, a fellow follow in Atlanta, and Beth, who has quickly become one of my favorite people in the world. I also met people like Jeremiah and Kerry, and I solidified my super-huge-dance-crush on Chris (who, despite the fact that I’ve only seen him at two events ever, and that was over two years ago, remains one of my favorite people in the world to dance with). This series of new friends is only significant in that it is the point at which I started seeing the Swing Scene as a community rather than as this “super-cool-awesome-thing-where-all-I-want-to-do-is-dance-please-god-dance-with-me”!!!

I have to say — S&S III had the same feeling. It was one huge party, where all we did was hang out, eat good food, and sometimes dance. This year, the party was smaller by about fifty people, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the energy — I’ve been to lots of events where the energy is high, but it really did seem particularly high at S&S. Every time I looked up, the floor was full, and people were having a blast.

I think some people might disagree with this, but never get the impression of a “show-off” vibe at S&S. Sure, Peter Strom likes to get in the middle of a jam circle and shake his white boy moves…but he’s not doing it because he wants people to admire him or to talk about how fantastic he is or win crazy competitions. He’s getting in the middle because he’s having a blast, and the crowd is giving him this crazy amount of energy. And if you were in the middle of that circle, he would give you the exact same energy that you gave him. The showing off that happens at S&S is the result of the jamming and partying, rather than the cause.

One of the unique things about S&S, I think, is how interactive it is during the evening social dancing. Half of the classes taught a small routine or skill of some sort…and as a result, during the evening dance, those who took the class were allowed to show off what they learned. Particularly notable routines would be the Dance Diva routine and Peter & Manu’s Magical Mystery Ride routine (if I find a video for it, I’ll post). Another great class was Walk the Walk, resulting in a whole bunch of girls doing the Victoria Secret Lingerie walk down the middle of the floor — hilarious.

In reality, my time could have been equally well spent doing a couple other things this weekend — for example, I could have spent more time on this mapping project that is due on Tuesday. On the other hand, it was fantastic to catch up with people (example, KARA, whom I love and miss and do not see often enough!!). Also, working with the kitchen volunteer staff was easy and enjoyable, and I’d readily do that again despite the time-intensive nature of the work.

If asked, I really wouldn’t be able to put a finger on exactly why S&S fell short of my expectations, though it is probably significantly influenced by the idealized expectations from S&S II; as such, I’m not going to say more than that. Bottom line: the music was groovy, the dancing was fantastic, the energy was high, the food was great, and the people were awesome. My experience as a volunteer was smooth and enjoyable, and the event was comparatively well-organized. And man…it was a party.

In the end, I’d recommend it as an addition to anyone’s dance calendar.

baking a thank you

In this blog, I have been focusing on Seven Day Challenges, which often force me to start what could be a good habit (drinking water or taking my lunch to school) or, more straightforward, allow me to accomplish a more involved goal (christmas cards for friends). However, I realize there are some goals which cannot necessarily fit into this structure — as is the case with this newest challenge!

The Background:

As of this semester, I have worked in the Library for three and a half years: I started in the Music and Media Library with my supervisor Colin, and then worked at the Circulation Desk with Tara. I have spent time working seven different positions in the Library — and actually, I have only not worked in two departments that hire undergrad students.

Though these various jobs are not necessarily anything incredibly challenging, I have done an excellent job; I say so with confidence because I know, without a doubt, that my supervisors love me. I could give examples, but suffice to say that I am good at my job, and I am really proud of the work I do there.

And, most important of all, I love the people I work with. Without fail, they are pleasant people — they always smile at me when I come in, and they always wish me a good day when I leave. We gossip about my love life and school life and job life in-between refilling printer paper and checking out material to patrons. And we laugh all the time, because honestly — why not? Over the last few years, I have developed a serious bond with my fellow Library employees which is so much more fulfilling than the majority of the bonds I made with fellow Emory students in my time here.

My goal is to find time before my last day of work to bake them a thank-you. Because honestly, I love them all, and I’m not sure I’ll ever find another job with such a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere (see this post if you want to see the opposite). And really, Tara and Colin have been the most fantastic supervisors a human being could ask for.

As somewhat nerdy as it sounds, in twenty years, I know I will see the Library as one of my most favorite experiences at Emory — not for the studying I did, but for the great people I met and the fantastic job I held. I just want to say…well, “I love you, too.”

The Challenge:

For this challenge, I’ve emailed Kate Deal (one of my favorite bakers) and asked her for a couple straight-forward recipes for a beginner baker — because honestly, this thank-you deserves to come from more than just a box.

This challenge could be very hard, mostly due to the fact that I don’t bake. Thus, I am slightly worried about the resulting taste? I have Kate’s number, though, so I will call her if I have any challenges. Also, I need to find bakeware, because I clearly don’t have any (hello, Maurissa, and your fantastic kitchen…).

Anyways, it’s going to be an adventure!! As such, I promise to give out Kate’s recipe (if she gives her permission), take pictures, and let you all know how it goes!

Goal Date: 15 December 2010 (Last day of work)