Browsing Category travel

YouTube Manicures and Other Budget Beauty Savings

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am the ultimate girly girl. I used to get manicures every week, pedicures every 2 weeks, eyebrow threading every 3 weeks. I would buy countless amounts of beauty products, eager to try to latest skin cream or hair conditioner. For a girl that’s planning on going to Thailand in 8 months, I’ve had to significantly cut down on all of my favorite beauty regimens. For the first few weeks, it was utter chaos. My nails were a hot mess, and my eyebrows had grown into an unruly bush. My expensive organic conditioner had run out, and my MAC mascara was dry.

What’s a girl to do when she wants to look her best, but is trying to save money for a huge trip? Well, my first step was to search on youtube for manicure tutorials to teach myself how to do it myself. I taught myself how to do regular manicures, french manicures, and I’ve even dabbled into some designs! I thought I’d never be able to do my nails myself, but I actually prefer it now. If my nails chip, I can fix it. If I want to repaint them everyday of the week, I can. And it’s all free! The same process has worked for me shaping my own eyebrows. After I one day completely misshaped my eyebrows myself, I vowed to  ALWAYS get them done professionally (threading has saved my life on many occasions). But an amazing video has taught me the many wonders of shaping your eyebrows yourself. And again, it’s ALL free! By doing my nails, toes and eyebrows myself, I can save at LEAST $150 a month. I wish I’d starting doing it all myself sooner!

As far as beauty products go, I’ve found some awesome alternatives to my pricey skin, hair, and makeup products.

Best Ever!

If you haven’t tried Maybelline’s Falsies Mascara, you’ve truly been missing out. The wand make your lashes clump free and long with TONS of volume. I’ve actually had people ask me if I have fake eyelashes on. Falsies runs about $7.50, MAC runs for about $11 and Dior Show is a whopping $24. I’ll stick with the falsies.

For my conditioner, I have fallen in LOVE with Trader Joes Nourish Spa Conditioner. As you know by now, my hair is outrageously curly, and it takes a REALLY good conditioner to not make my hair look like a fro. It’s cruelty free, enriched with organic botanicals, and it doesn’t contain any harmful laurel/laurel sulfates, which is DEATH for curly hair. At a mere $4 at my local Trader Joe’s, it’s a steal.

Cetaphil Antibacterial Gentle Cleansing Bar may not work for everyone, but I was recently diagnosed with adult onset acne, and this soap has been a godsend. It’s basically cleared up my acne, and it works really well for after workouts when you’re super sweaty. It’s super gentle  and doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry and gross. One bar is $3.99 and lasts FOREVER.

I’ve also switched out a lot of my expensive makeup products for drugstore brands. Almay’s eyeliner lasts all day and goes on super smooth, Maybelline’s Dream Mousse concealer has great texture and coverage, and L’Oreal’s HiP eyeshadows are super affordable and offer amazing pigment.

All of the changes I’ve made to my beauty routines and products have saved me countless dollars that I’ve added to the savings account for my trip. It’s refreshing to know that I don’t have to completely sacrifice beauty for Thailand, just make a few changes.

And remember, for you guys who might be reading, you might not use makeup, but you can definitely give yourself manicures and groom your own eyebrows! Just don’t use the polish! 🙂

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Janet Jackson! Janet Jackson! … Or the Story of How I Became a Greek Celebrity

When I studied abroad in London my junior year of college, I had the awesome opportunity to take a 10 day cruise through the Greek islands. Starting in Athens, we traveled to Mykonos, Patmos, Kusadasi, Turkey and Santorini, Greece.

My friend and I decided to go to Athens a few days earlier than the rest of our classmates to check out the sites. After wading our way through the crowds of Athens, we reached the Parthenon. The weather was absolutely amazing, the skies clear and blue. While I was taking some pictures of the sights, two young women came up me to and asked if I could take a picture. I happily obliged and went to take the camera from one of the women. To my surprise, she instead motioned for me to get in the picture with her and her friend, while someone else took the picture of all 3 of us. The two girls then smiled and waved bye while they graciously thanked me. I thought this was a little weird, but I just shrugged it off and thought maybe they just like my awesome hamburger shirt I was wearing that day.

Except for the fact this seemed to happen numerous times throughout my time in Greece and Turkey. In that same day, I was approached by 4 more groups of people, all wanting to take pictures with me. By this point, I was thinking that I had to resemble some sort of Greek celebrity or some European pop star. Just as I was leaving the Parthenon, I heard a girl shout “SISTER! SISTER! SISTER!”. I turned around and saw a very pretty girl with long cornrow braids waving at me, followed by a group of students around my age. They all ran up to me, giving me hugs and snapping pictures. After a few minutes of chaos, I decided to finally document this phenomenon on my own camera, and my friend snapped this picture of all of us.

Degrassi, The Greek Years.

While I was on the boat I told one of the tour guides about my experience in Greece and asked if I looked like some pop star or celebrity. He laughed, and then told me that Greek people tend to find black women very fascinating and beautiful, and it’s rare for Greek people to see black women. I was shocked and awed at the same time! How interesting for people to want to take pictures with me just because of the color of my skin! It’s something I’d certainly never experienced before.

But it didn’t stop in Greece. While I was in Turkey, I went shopping at the Kusadasi market (which is HUGE and amazing, BTW). I bought an awesome leather jacket, and proceeded to wear it immediately. Paired with my sunglasses, I walked around the market looking at all the awesome wares, from knock off Dolce and Gabbana and Rolex watches, to beautiful scarves and dresses. Picking up a scarf, I heard a man yell “JANET JACKSON, JANET JACKSON!”. I turned around and saw a man waving to me, followed by about 10 other people running towards me, all yelling “Janet! Janet!”. Laughing, I tried to tell the people I wasn’t Janet Jackson at ALL, but they didn’t care, and kept snapping pictures.

The few days spent in Greece and Turkey not only made me feel like a celebrity, but taught me how important it is to go and travel. Until that point, I hadn’t even realized there were parts of the world where people might not see black people that often. That trip completely opened my eyes to the fact there are many more parts of the world I need to explore. I came back from my trip abroad a completely different person, and I plan on doing the same on my trip to Thailand.

Do any of you have any awesome travel stories you’d like to share? Comment!

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Thank Goodess for My Quarterlife Crisis

Otherwise I would’ve never made the decision to go to Thailand for 2/3 months starting in August.

Why Thailand? Well, there’s a few things I’ve taken into consideration:
1. It’s cheap.
2. Beaches
3. The food?! Helloooo!
4. Johnny’s going to be able to take Muay Thai boxing classes (!!!!)
5. I haven’t been to Asia
6. Because I want to

I’ve felt this huge void in my life for the past year now. This huge empty space that is longing to create, to experience, to explore and feel alive. Somehow, in this past year of getting a great job in my “dream career”, I’ve managed to become a zombie. Get out of bed. Shower. Makeup. Breakfast. Drive. Sit. 8 hours later. Home. Dinner. Sleep. What the hell kind of life is that? Definitely not the life I imagined myself having. According to most people, I’ve reached the point in my life I should be making important career choices, settling down with Johnny and picking out houses, and planning on children.

Nope.

Instead I’m going to Thailand. (and maybe Bali! eeeeeee!)

The other day I finally saw Eat, Pray, Love. I balled my eyes out. Cried and cried until I felt like I couldn’t anymore. I know I’m probably one of the few people who loved the movie, but to me, I needed to see someone break free and live. I’ve read about it in numerous books and blogs7, but something about seeing the visuals in a movie really spoke to me. It was right then and there I decided I was going to go to Thailand. Something about this decision just feels so right, so perfect for me. There’s no other time than now, right? I don’t have children, I don’t have a mortgage or a car. I just need a few months to learn, explore, grow, LIVE. And it’s not like I will be gone forever.

My quarterlife crisis has taught me many things. First, happiness just IS. You don’t need anything or anyone to make you happy. That magazine that tells you that you need that new eye cream to feel better about yourself? Bullshit. That commercial that says if you drive this certain type of car to be happy? Shenanigans. You are perfect just the way you are, with or without the new Gucci bag or the Lexus. It’s also taught me to treat my body with respect. There is no need to be skinny, but I know what I do put in my body is just as important as my mental health. It’s taught me to not keep secrets, to let friends know how I feel, to not feel guilty or ashamed. But most importantly, my quarterlife crisis has taught me to feel alive again.

Now let’s start trip planning!

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What am I doing?

My wanderlust has reached an all-time high. I did something somewhat irrational, but completely made sense to me at the time.

Searching through eslcafe.com, I found a posting for a teaching job in Thailand through Footprints Recruiting. NO CERTIFICATION NEEDED, COLLEGE DEGREE ONLY, the post read. I stared at the link for some time before I decided to just do it. I really didn’t except anything to come out of it, but a few days later I got a call from their office to schedule a phone interview. I was excited, panicked, nervous. I wasn’t expecting to get a call AT ALL. It was something I had done spur of the moment, with barely any consideration of what could actually happen.

A few days later,  I had the interview. It went pretty smoothly. Questions like, “What’s a difficult situation you had to encounter while oversees?”, “What is an example of a teaching situation you have been in?”, etc. Pretty easy and straight forward stuff. Finally, it was my turn to ask questions. “When would I need to leave?”

The response was something I was not expecting to hear: “As soon as possible.” My heart starting pounding in my chest. Why was I reacting this way? Wasn’t this what I wanted to do? To get away and start my brand and business and travel the world?

The rest of the interview went smoothly. But I just could not get the weird feeling out of my head that I had somehow made a bad decision. What would I do if I miraculously did get the job? I still had a lease, my dog, my family and Johnny. I don’t have much money saved…*sigh*.

Good thing for my mental health, I did not get the job. But I still cannot shake this feeling that I need to get out and go away. Just maybe not at this very second of my life. But soon, my dears, very soon.

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