Saturday, January 30, 2016

Monthly Favourites- January 2016

I have been so good about keeping track of my favourites this month. I received a little notebook for Christmas, and it is my official “favourites” notebook. This month has been pretty relaxing. I had one exam earlier in the month, and then I spent the rest of the month just hanging out. I took the free time as an opportunity to organize my life before school starts again and get some blogging ready to go (as you can see by my actual posting on time). It’s all been a part of my New Year’s goal that I spoke of in my last monthly favourites. I’ll probably write something about that at some point in February. I do think my favourites here are an accurate representation of what I’ve been up to.

1.       Room

This movie is based off of my favourite book, so I was so excited when I heard it was going to be in theatres. I went to see this movie last week, and there were only seven people in the theatre. It’s a hipster-type film, and I’m also pretty sure the other two couples in there were amateur movie critics. The only thing I can say is that I hope they liked it as much as I did. It is emotional wrenching, and I know I wasn’t the only one to shed tears. I was afraid the movie was going to lose the perspective that made me love the book, and I am thrilled to say it didn’t. I found out that the author, Emma Donoghue, wrote the screenplay as well, so that’s probably why it was so amazing. This is now my favourite film, and person I went to see it with said it was the best film he’s ever seen.

2.       T.G.I. Friday’s Jack Daniels Sauce
I went to T.G.I’s for the first time on a date at the end of December, and we specifically ordered off the Jack Daniel’s menu. Out of curiosity, we looked up the recipe for the sauce online, and found a great copycat recipe. Last week, we made it and had some awesome meals with it. It goes really well with chicken fingers, burgers, and meatballs. It would also go great with wings or ribs, but that’s a bit beyond my skill as a student chef. We absolutely loved this sauce, and I would definitely make it again.

3.       Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Top Coat
This has been on my favourites list last April, and I have been loving it again. My old bottle was getting to the point where it was all stringy and looked streaky on my nails. I was so upset because I realized how great it really was once again. I think it keeps my nails intact for much longer, and it doesn’t dull the shine on nail polish. That “Insta-Dri” thing is a true promise too. I don’t have the most patience in the world, and I’m not good at being lady-like with my nails when they’re drying, so this top coat has been a miracle for me. I simply had to buy another bottle because I actually missed having my good top coat.

4.       Amazon

I have never discovered the glory of online shopping until this month really. I decided to order all of my books for next term from Amazon to save some money. It was so easy, and it has been great since then. I ordered a case for my Surface and my top coat from #3. I know I’ll be doing more online shopping once I get back to Canada. It’s a great way to save money.

5.       Hotel Chocolat

[via Instagram]

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a severe peanut/nut allergy. It is always difficult to find good desserts that are safe for me to eat. Over Christmas, I received a few boxes of chocolate that I couldn’t eat. Once we got home, my boyfriend and I looked up chocolate places that are good with allergies. Hotel Chocolat has been amazing. Due to liability, they have the “may contain traces of peanuts/nuts,” but they also have on their website that they clean the moulds and surfaces before making chocolates without nuts. We also talked to the girl who was working there, and she said she had been to the factory and seen proof that they actually do that. She also said they have so many regulations for health that I felt so safe eating there. So we bought a few different kinds and OH MY GOD I have been in pure heaven. I’ve never had fancy chocolate before, and this is perfect.

So there was my month! In February, classes start again. Other than that, I don’t have anything else planned. We shall see what the month brings! How was your January?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Secret to Relationships

Disclaimer: I am not an expert by any means. I’ve been in a relationship (for the first time) for two and a half months. But the one good thing about being single for so long is that I have gained knowledge from seeing others go through their issues. I also have the most amazing role models as parents who will be married for 23 years this May. Perhaps this opinion of mine has come from being single for so long and being surrounded by friends in happy relationships. Nevertheless, I believe the secret to the most successful relationships is to have your own life outside of the relationship. I know there is some kind of sociological theory that supports my theory. I remember my professor saying last year that everyone is looking for someone to complete them, when, in reality, you should be looking for something who is a part of you.


The truth is, YOU are in a relationship. Without you, there’s no relationship at all. I will stand firm in the belief that you cannot change for the person you are with. Of course, things are going to change. Maybe you’ll start watching sports or drinking beer or getting into nerdy things (true story). None of these little habits should be changing who you are as a person. Don’t lose who you are just because you’re in a relationship. In December 2014 edition of Glamour magazine, Lisa Kudrow says “I think people get in trouble [when they assume they’re] supposed to be one unit, in sync about everything. [Marriage] is like being on a team. Each teammate is different, but you have the same goal” (p. 86). To continue with this metaphor, each teammate has different skills and strengths. If they’re expected to play the way the others do, then the team as a whole will be a lot less successful. I find it sad when I see a friend in a relationship start to become more like their partner then themselves.

 What’s my solution? You do you. Make sure you have a life outside of your relationship. Don’t stop hanging out with your friends. If you have a Friday night habit of knitting or painting your nails or watching a movie, don’t stop. Stay in tune with yourself. If you’re not married, you have no reason to base your life off of your partner. You have the rest of your life to do that. Get to know who you are as a person. Do what makes you happy. Learn new things to cultivate your character. Bring those strengths to your relationship. If you’re looking for a relationship, Reese Witherspoon says you should “find someone who’s taking care of their side of street – their own happiness – for themselves” (Glamour, November 2014, p. 97). It is so important for both parties involved to do this. If you have your own life, this is what will get you through difficult moments. This is what will keep you strong. This is also what you will be bringing to your relationship.
What do you think is the secret to relationships?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

In The Words of Women

With all the New Year inspirational kicks pretty much over (which comes with already failed resolutions), I want to put a little positivity and inspiration out there brought to you by some wonderful women of the world. Every year, Glamour magazine prints an issue dedicated to women. There is an awards night to celebrate the achievements and pride we have in the female leaders of our generation. Let’s face it, most of the entertainment business is dominated by men. But this celebration is full of the most uplifting women. Rarely do women in real life or media choose to celebrate each other. I’ve pulled some quotes that I found particularly inspirational to me, and I’ll explain why I find it so uplifting.

1.       I don’t think anyone should underestimate the power of their own voice…You are the women we’ve been waiting for.” –Barbra Streisand (Glamour, January 2014, p. 14)

I feel like everyone has heard some version of the first part of this quote. It is significantly more difficult for women to gain the confidence to speak out against injustices against them. There is certainly something to be said about working in a group. But, every movement needs to be started by ONE person. And that woman may as well be you. If you have an idea, go for it! If you want to create a revolution, go for it! You are what we need.

2.       “Let the world know you are you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, you will forget the pose – and then where are you?” –Katie Couric quoting Fanny Brice (Glamour, January 2014, p. 15)

I find that women more than men have to put on an act. They think they need to change the way they are in order to be taken seriously or to be noticed. The thing about putting on an act is that you’re constantly putting pressure on yourself. And, as this quote points out, you become nothing but the act itself; you lose sight of who you are. Be yourself. The right people will notice you for the right reasons. If you need to put on an act, the people you’re trying to impress aren’t worth it.


3.       “Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.” –Malala Yousafszai quoting Kahlil Gibran (Glamour, January 14, p. 15)

I have already talked about my experience with beauty on the blog, and I think Malala wraps up my overall personal experience perfectly. I specifically believe that my own beauty comes from the way I shine for others by making them feel good. In general, I believe that the most important beauty does come from within, as cheesy as that is, and that is what others appreciate the most.

4.       “When God created man and woman, he was thinking, Who shall I give the power to, to give birth to the next human being? And God chose women. And this is big evidence that women are powerful. Women are strong. Women can do anything. Come out and struggle for your rights; nothing can happen without your voice.” –Malala Yousafszai (Glamour, December 2013, p. 250)

This is similar to #1, and I love it just as much. Malala stands as a symbol of one voice that stood out and started to make changes. She now urges others to do the same. I can’t think of a more powerful representation of what can happen when women stand up for their rights. We are powerful as women - as God chose it. We, for the most part, have a major biological purpose, and that stands to prove our strength and power.

5.       “Life’s a party, dress like it!” –Lilly Pulizter (Glamour, December 2013, p. 87)

This isn’t quite inspirational like the others, but I love the positive outlook Lilly Pulizter puts on life. Her clothes are so fun and vibrant, and it’s an outward reflection of this quote. For me, this quote shows how our inner thoughts can easily be shown to others. Whatever way we chose to represent ourselves says a lot about who we are as a person. It’s just like when you chose to wear nice clothes to a job interview because it shows your professionalism. I like the idea of your clothes being a canvas for your personality.

6.       “We are women, hear us roar!” –Fergie (Glamour, December 2013, 58)

Enough said.

7.       “Nothing worth having is easy.” –Jenna Lyons (Glamour, December 2013, p. 55)

I’ve mentioned a lot about women taking control and power. We’ve been in a fight for decades, and it doesn’t seem to be ending. It’s not easy. It never has been. But that doesn’t mean we give up. It means we fight harder to get to where we deserve in the world. In the end, it will all be worth it.

I hope I was able to inspire someone today. Which women do you look up to?


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Book Review- Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

            It has been a while since I’ve last posted a book review. To be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve actually read a book other than for school. With all the newness of being in Leeds, I simply – and unfortunately – let reading slip. I finished this book in the summer, but I’ve kept the notes. I did read another since then, but it’s not suitable for review. I plan to be a lot better about reading this year. It’s a huge part of who I am, and I’m sad that I’ve lost a bit of that. This is my formal acknowledgement of that which comes with the promise to be better to myself.

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum is classified as historical fiction which is my favourite category. It is set up with two separate stories of mother Anna and her struggles in WWII and her daughter Trudy who is completing a project about German women in WWII. In the story of Anna, we see right from the beginning how brainwashing is a part of a war society. However, although ignorant of the situation around her, Anna is completely against her father’s brutal actions and recognizes the danger in helping a Jewish man. Later, we see her become a literal object to a German officer and feel for her when her body starts to betray itself because of the actions done to her. Anna becomes increasingly brave as she fights for survival for her daughter’s sake. The relationship formed between the officer and Anna is utterly upsetting, and she must struggle with her morals in order to keep her daughter safe. She is forced to resort to a fantasy world just to stay sane. Later in life, we see the deep impact that her struggles left in her life, and see the guilt Anna feels in American just for being a German woman. Anna is a character that has struggled her entire life and her suffering never seems to end.
In Trudy’s story, she goes around interviewing Germans for her project. I was waiting from the beginning to see when the tides would turn negative for her. She studies history and teaches history, but she has managed to disengage herself from the war. At some point, her morals must come to a wall when she realizes what people have done in order to survive. As she connects to her roots, her interviews become more focused and driven. I see Trudy’s search for understanding about her past and recognize the emotional decline when she starts to take the project more personally than she should. The biggest interest for me lies in Trudy’s relationship with her mother. There is a constant gruffness and tension between mother and daughter, and I fully expected a breakthrough to occur at some point. Her mother does get caught paying interest to the project and a well-awaited altercation comes about. The alignment of the stories shows how lives are connected and where the tension really comes from.
              What I disliked about the novel was the lack of quotations when people spoke. I sometimes found it difficult to follow long conversations and had to look back to remind myself of who was saying what. There were certain plot point that I found to be predictable or cheesy. There was no translation offered for the German words which I found frustrating. Yes, I could have easily looked it up, but I don’t wish for reading to require research when entire sentences are in a different language. I am not a big fan of the character of Trudy. I found her reaction to emotional events to be irrational. She also engages in a relationship that I found to be unnecessary to the novel. What I did like was the way the novel moves along. It starts off well and continues with a good pace. It is an easy read with quick chapters. I like how it tells a different side of WWII. I typically don’t like the duo-story narration, but it worked so well in this novel because Blum does an excellent job at connecting the stories and little details. The narration feels natural making it easy to read. It builds up mystery which is an aspect of a novel I deeply appreciate.
              The themes of mother/daughter relationships and desperation strongly carry throughout the novel. The best theme was the theme of the past. I found myself questioning where or not it was proper to bury the past or confront it. There is a constant haunting of the past that drew me in. We see how the past has been engraved in generations. I could see how the title of the novel become a key element through exploration of the past. Due to the strong themes and ease of reading, I give this book 4/5. I liked it a lot more than I thought at the beginning, and I would strongly suggest it to anyone who wants a different side of a WWII narration.
-Daniella Poloni

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Importance of Closure

I feel like closure is one of the most relatable forces in the world. I say force because it’s one of those things that tends to weigh on your mind and can eat at you until you drive yourself crazy. Closure is more important than people make it out to be. I have never been broken up with, but I understand how crucial it is to get closure when a relationship ends whether it’s romantic or as simple as a friendship. Ending a relationship with someone is incredibly cruel if they don’t give you a reason.  I’ve been there. I’ve been in the situation where I’m lying in bed going in circles so many times figuring out what I did wrong. Let me share a story with you.

The first guy that I liked that actually liked me back was six years ago. A.C. and I really connected when we met and spent an hour and a half talking behind a couch. It didn’t end up working out (young love, go figure), but we became best friends and talked about everything. He was a good friend to me for a while. And, as all good stories go, we changed. I woke up one day and realized we weren’t friends anymore. For some reason beyond my reach, we weren’t on good terms. I watched myself get replaced by a girl completely opposite to me. I distinctly remember her telling me just how close they were. I had lost not only my best friend but someone special to me. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what happened between us. I did what anyone would do – I changed his name in my phone to “YOU’RE OVER IT” and deleted him off of all social media. The thing is, “out of sight out of mind” works only if you’re not in the same social group. I would see him every so often and spent weeks after wracking my brain about our situation. It made me miserable.

Three years ago, I made the decision to figure it out. I knew I was going to see him again and that we were probably going to be in each other’s lives for a long time. I reached out and I asked him what had happened. We had a frank conversation about everything. I explained what I needed to, and he explained what he needed to. And that’s it. I got the closure I needed. Since then, we have been good acquaintances. We’ll catch up when we see each other and hug goodbye, but there is no longer a tension of the relationship that was.

I understand that not all situations will play out this way. Sometimes, closure is just impossible to get. If that’s the case for you, then what you can take from this is that best breakups are the ones that happen cleanly. That includes the ones you break off. When I had my friendship breakup in the summer, I gave that friend the exact reason why I couldn’t be friends with them anyone so they wouldn’t go through what I did. I was in a situation a year ago where a guy let me down so well that there was no confusion as to why it happened. Closure is importance to people’s well-being. Some people are easier to let go than others, but it is important to remember that all the people from your past are a part of you, but they do not define you.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Monthly Favourites- December 2015

Happy New Year! I know people are typically coming out with their reflections and resolutions at this time, and as soppy as I am as a person, I just don't believe in that stuff. That whole "1 of 365 pages" post that has been floating around makes me feel like I'm at the beginning of an essay that I haven't prepared for. So I'm going to continue on with what I would normally do- a favourites post.

1. Parker Pen

The only thing I wanted for Christmas this year was a pen. I was blessed (yes, blessed) with a Parker pen. I am a complete nerd when it comes to things like this, and this pen is the best pen I have ever written with. It makes my writing look better, and it glides across the page with ease. I have used it only to write in my journal, but I can't wait to write a full letter or postcard. I am certainly nerding out over it.

2. Paperchase

I love stationary. I collect stationary. Therefore, stationary stores are my weakness. I first found a Paperchase store when I was in Bath, and I was delighted to find one in Leeds as well. I may have a problem. I've been there a few times in the past month. To give you an idea of how bad my problem is, I went in there to get a Thank You card and came out with two news sets of paper. To further my point, I also spent some time on the "sale" section of the website when I went to retrieve the link. As someone wise said to me, there are worse things to be addicted to.

3. Fudge
[via Instagram]

I have missed out on baking with my mom this year. I was in a meet the parents situation over the holidays, and I brought homemade fudge as a way to win them all over. My mom sent me the recipe for Carnation 5 Minute Fudge to make in my flat. It's an easy recipe, and everyone loved it! I had some ingredients leftover, so I made some for New Year's Eve, and I have plenty left to snack on.

4. New Year's Intentions

I know this wasn't meant to be about reflections, but bear with me for a minute. I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. I know there's arguments about the fact that you can change anytime of the year, and that is entirely true. But I like the idea of starting off a new year with intentions rather than resolutions. I find that resolutions tend to set me up for failure. So instead of "I want to work out" I say "I intend to be healthier." I find that setting general intentions allow me to be flexible throughout the year. So "healthier" can mean anything from cutting down the snacking to taking the long walk home from school.

5. World Juniors
I am slightly disheartened to add this to my list now seeing as Canada was just knocked out of the quarter-finals. However, the World Juniors have been one of the highlights of my holiday season for a few years now. I always used to watch it with my dad, but I've been managing to watch in Leeds with a partner all too willing to partake in any kind of sports spectacle. It's extra special to me knowing I can share in this passion from across the world as well.

December was a good month. I ended the year in the best possible way, and I'm excited to see what is coming up next!

Do you have any monthly favourites or favourites from your year?