2013: The Year in Review

2013-010As December marches on, it seems only appropriate that I do what I always do this time of year—reflect on the good, bad, and ugly, and evaluate my Bucket List 2013 successes. As I go through the list, remember that over the year, interests and priorities change. So while I may not have completed some items, it’s not necessarily bad. Doing something just for the sake of completing it isn’t half as gratifying as these lists are intended to be.

Though I don’t usually title them, 2013 was a year of love. When I returned from Europe January 5, I jumped head-first into a fulfilling and incredible relationship with AB. I introduced him to my mother (success), traveled with him and friends to Puerto Rico for Spring Break, watched him walk at graduation, and helped him move to New York (by help, I mean I provided emotional support. No heavy lifting or apartment hunting, sorry babe). He, in turn, put up with my waking up at 3 a.m. to go to my internship, supported me throughout my job search, and, well, put up with me. So there’s that. Then, for Thanksgiving, I actually traveled down to the D.C.-area and met the whole famn damily (and loved them). How’s that for commitment (me?!).

There was love in other corners of my world, as well. My relationship with my mother, as ever, grew stronger still. I talked more, and subsequently more openly with my dad and my older brother, and felt overwhelmed by their unconditional love and support. My relationship with Captain America was strengthened by trips to Walmart, where we bought awesome-ly horrible tie-dye cat shirts (and then found a couple wearing equally hideous matching three-cat-moon shirts and took a picture. Small world), and by impulsive road trips. And flung together by mutual feelings of abandonment and a shared love of caffeine, my friendship with Batman grew, too. Then, this fall, my baby brother moved to Boston, and for the first time I had family (the real kind—not my haphazardly created, but nonetheless wonderful, fake family) with me in my city. And speaking of “fake” families, I fell back in love with all things Kappa, thanks in no small part to my amazing dreamlittle and an endearingly crazed fellow blogger named Sugarwoman (guest post to come!). Other highlights…

There were hardships, too, when I acutely felt the pain from the Boston Marathon bombings, as I struggled to manage an unideal roommate situation, deal with various financial hardship and instability, figure out “real world” stuff, and do long-distance. I also still can’t figure out what I want to do with my life (Four-year-olds know what they want to be “when they grow up.” Come on, Mar).

I dyed my hair. A lot (To his credit, AB noticed 2/3 times). I finally acknowledged the harmful effects of tanning—on both my skin and my wallet—and cancelled my membership, I cut out preservatives (sorta), and tried to be gluten-free (cookies don’t count). I started lifting weights with AB and found that I loved spicing up my workout. I read more about health and nutrition, and then took a class in it (97%, woop woop!).

And I started to do adult things. Like get a full-size bed. Buy a car. Gradutate. Get a job. Find an apartment. Get my wisdom teeth out (ugh). And five years late, I actually started to care about my classes and invest time and energy into learning things just for the sake of learning them. (Pause for reaction).

Some years (Ahem, 2011, I’m looking at you), I’ve looked toward the new year with a sense of relief because at the very least, a new year means that no more bad things can happen in this year. But I’m admittedly a little sad to see 2013 go. There are few memories this year that I don’t look back on fondly. 2014 will pull the rug out from under me, but here’s hoping it’s in the best of spirits. With the support network I’ve garnered, particularly in the past year, I can’t imagine any potential hardships would be unbearable.

So in that spirit, let’s evaluate my 2013 Bucket List: Continue reading

The Mary Poppins Essentials

Beauty Essentials On TravelingYou know what I was thinking about last night? Mary Poppins (because I’m weird like that). I was thinking about her magical purse—side note: Hermione totally stole her purse from Poppins. Just saying—and how awesome it would be to fit everything in there. Since I moved further away from campus, I’ve turned into something of a bag lady. I carry around my Longchamp with the necessities (laptop, notebook, planner, kindle, water bottle, wallet), and then there are the slew of classy plastic grocery bags with my lunch, snacks, laptop charger, gym clothes, running shoes, interview clothes, whatever. Bag lady.

Anyway, while I was dwelling on the inexplicable awesomeness of a true carry-all bag, I was also painting my nails. During my work study. Because I’m that girl. And I’m not trying to brag but my top coat is the shiz. All my girlfriends borrow it and it makes my $2 bottle of off-brand nail polish look like a professional gel manicure. Just saying.

Bag. Top coat. In true Marian, scatter-brained, brain-barf fashion, I started crafting a list of what I consider my favorite essentials. It’s on this year’s bucket list to host a “favorite things” party. The rules are thus: buy enough of your favorite product (with some price limit) for all attendees. Say a little something about it, and hand it out. Thus, at the end of the party, everyone goes home with their own little goody bag of products their friends love and recommend. And also a belly full of wine and snacks.

Now, after the longest introduction ever, here are some top contenders for what I would pass out at the party.

Essie “good to go”:  I also really love Seche Vite, but both top coats are super glossy and dry fast. I’m not afraid to lay ’em on thick, because I figure a good top coat is like a suit of armor for my nails. A week later, they still look amazing and interview-ready. A decent top coat is a little more expensive, but not as expensive as the numerous manicures you won’t have to pay for now that you’re a pro. Just saying.

Pantyhose: I’m not loyal to any particular brand, but I still can’t for the life of me understand why women of my generation don’t wear hose. I get that legs are sexy, but, like… keep the sexy bare legs for summer picnics and nights out. Not work. At work, I want to look uniform and good, but not sexy. On a tangential side note, here’s why women in my generation should beg to wear hose: those control tops are like a skinny-making machine, plus if you tuck your shirt into the hose, it keeps it tucked into your skirt. Genius! Plus, it means avoiding uncomfortable leg-on-leg sweating/sticking. Get it together and buy a pair of $2 hose. Or come to my party and I will.

Ban’s “sweet simplicity”:  Okay, so I know deodorant (or what I call “Deo for the B-O”) isn’t all that sexy, but it is essential, so hear me out. I’ve been using this brand of deodorant since 7th grade. Back in the day, my hormones were evil and I was one of those awkward kids that wore a sweatshirt every day to hide my pitting. See? Not sexy. But inspired by my awkward, um, problem, I did some research and learned what chemical in deodorant is actually the antiperspirant. Aluminium zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly (say that five times fast). And Ban has the maximum amount allowed for OTC deos. Also it smells like a tropical paradise. Which is way better than body odor. So there. **Side note: Ban is TWO DOLLARS on Amazon?!?! Never buying in-store again.**

NYC liquid eyeliner:  While I’m really particular about some things—like deodorant and gum, for example—I’m not a big loyalist when it comes to beauty products. I’m a Birchbox user, and like to try a little bit of everything, switch up my look, whatever. But one thing that remains consistent is my use of liquid eyeliner, the unsung champion of the beauty world. Liquid eyeliner is, well, amazing, and when applied correctly gives a look more “pop” than neon pink lipstick. For real. And it doesn’t need to be expensive, either. NYC’s version has a super skinny brush for a precise line. For cheap (it’s actually cheaper at CVS).

Nivea Sun-Kissed Radiant Skin:  So apparently CVS hates me because they stopped selling this, and it is, without a doubt, the best lotion out there—and that’s not even taking into account the tanning aspect. As a native Californian, I treasure a “healthy-looking” (whatever that means) tan, but I can no longer justify tanning beds. This is cheaper and easier. And—wait for it—smells amazing. Tanning lotion that smells good. I’m not kidding. It even has a teensy bit of sheen to it. I stretch a bottle (and avoid any potential streaks) by mixing it with my other favorite lotion. **Side note: ALWAYS buy the fairest version of a lotion. The others pack on more orange, which is gross.**

Party invitation to come.

#21for21st: How I celebrated my 21st birthday!

IMG_3381(NOTE: I’m posting this prematurely, but it’s been quite time consuming. I will finish all 21 acts and add links and updates periodically—It’s an ongoing project!!)

I’m finally 21! After legally being able to purchase booze in Europe, it was a little frustrating to return to the good ole’ US of A. Sometimes a girl just wants some wine, yo.

On previous years, I’ve drafted up lists of (typically cheesy) “Things I’ve learned in my __ years,” but that seems silly for some reason. I have learned many things in the past 21 years: one of which is that I don’t like using cliches. It’s… cliche.

Plus, this birthday is no ordinary birthday. It’s the big 2-1. And don’t get me wrong, I definitely had myself a good time when the clock stuck midnight on the night of my birthday. I more or less shoved my ID in the face of the bouncer, happy as a skunk to be legal. FINALLY. But everyone does that…

Not everyone decides to spend their birthday summer doing charity. I mentioned my plan a little before, but here’s the gist: 21 acts for my 21 years. Sooo much better than 21-things-I’ve-learned-that-are-maybe-in-a-galaxy-far-far-away-somewhat-relavent. I was inspired by a blog post I found on Pinterest, and decided to do my own little version. As previously mentioned, my goal is to vary the methods (money, races, goods, volunteer time), and the recipients. So without further ado, ladies and gents:

The 21 Acts of Kindness/Charity for my 21st Birthday (in no particular order):

IMG_33721. Buy a Boston Strong shirt.

I started drafting ideas for this list shortly after the Boston Marathon bombings. After the Boston Strong concept popped up (about 3.2 nanoseconds after the first explosion), hundreds of companies and students and Etsy designers started distributing designs, with some or all of the proceeds going towards the One Fund Boston. But today, as I was walking home from the Women’s Lunch Place (see below!), I stopped in on a pop-up charity sale with the proceeds going to OFB (which—as a brief aside—has raised almost $50 million!!). I found the most perfect shirt, produced by Marathon Sports (the store where one of the bombs went off) with a little design on the back of the intersection.

Recipient: One Fund Boston, me (I mean, I got a super soft, cute, patriotic shirt of awesomeness).

photo (7)2. Volunteer at a Red Sox game.

I’m actually doing this twice—once on my own when the Red Sox play the San Diego Padres (whom  no one else cares about), and then again with my parents when my family comes to visit later this summer. It’s a great setup that I learned about through my sorority: they feed you, then you sell raffle tickets for the first 7 innings—the proceeds of which go to the Red Sox Foundation, and then you’re free to watch the rest of the game at no cost. Awesome, right?

Recipient: Red Sox Foundation, me (I mean, I get to see a game. For free).

UPDATE: My friend Pitu came with me last minute and we had so much fun! We got great seats, post-volunteering (I could almost touch the monster), and finished our night with yummy, yummy beers at Yard House!

IMG_33803. Volunteer with Captain America at The Women’s Lunch Place.

Hi, this is my “besfrenn,” who will henceforth be referred to as Captain America or CA. Since many of my friends decided to ditch town this weekend, I asked him to come up from New Jersey and play with me—and he happily obliged. Best person ever, right? I also asked him to come with me to volunteer at WLP on Newbury Street, a pet charity of mine. We were originally slated to run BINGO, but instead we raffled off prizes to the wonderful women, and then organized their “freebie” closet. I might even go in once a week or so to organize their closet! It was simple work but fun nonetheless, and I had fun with my besfrenn!

Recipient: The Women’s Lunch Place, me (I mean I got to hang out with CA). Continue reading

The Woofers Potato Farm …?

Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 11.12.57 AMMY BIRTHDAY

For my 21st birthday (finally!), I was inspired by this blog post, and am planning 21 Random(ish) Acts of Kindness to be completed during the week of my birthday. I’ll be collecting and donating clothes to benefit veterans, collecting and donating books to Massachusetts jails, volunteering to run BINGO at one of my favorite pet charities in Boston—The Women’s Lunch Place, running a 5K for hunger (more information to come!!)… I’m trying to vary both the act itself (donating funds vs. time vs. goods), as well as the recipients as much as possible. My hope is to make this an annual thing(!), challenging myself every year to come up with innovative and creative new ways to spread the love.

NJABINI APPAREL

Njabini Apparel is a Boston- and Providence-based company that sells chic accessories and housewares. The products are made by mothers in Njabini, Kenya, who don’t have any other means of income. The revenues go towards paying the mothers four times the national average, funding educational and micro-lending programs, and supporting additional “do-gooder” projects. Recently, Njabini Apparel announced a new project—The Potato Project. Njabini is a social enterprise that I’ve worked with before. I wrote an article about them for The Boston Globe, and have since kept in contact with co-founder Mike Behan about the company’s progress.

MY REQUEST

As part of my birthday festivities, I will be hosting a Njabini party (similar to a tupperware party, complete with homemade appetizers and a Njabini-tini!). However, I want to do even more. Njabini is trying to raise $35,000 in the next two months in order to fund a new program that would help potato farmers in the area. I want to help them raise those funds. I encourage individuals to donate on their own (and reap the prizes!), but I am also interested in pooling funds: If any one person or party donates $250, they can name one of the potato farms in Kenya. I think $250 is a very reasonable number. If each person I know can donate $10, we can easily make an incredible influence. Plus, it’s my intention to match donations as much as I can manage. I can think of no better name than the Woofers Potato Farm (though I am very receptive to suggestions, nonetheless!).

Please join me in celebrating my upcoming milestone! The 60-day fundraiser ends during the week of my birthday, so the timing is serendipitous. If you’re interested in participating, please contact me and we can coordinate the best way to transfer/pool funds.

WHY WOOFERS

For those, who don’t know the significance of “Woof” in my life, it was my father’s nickname, as well as a call to friends and family. It’s the Daniells’ version of “Aloha” and has survived multiple generations and continents—Let’s bring it to Africa!

 

2013 Bucket List

Annnnd piggy-backing on the last post… my 2013 Bucket List!

A primer for those who are new. My senior year of high school, I sat down with my friend over sparkling cider and we wrote 20-item long bucket lists for the year. Not life-long, someday-I-will-get-around-to-doing-all-this-ridiculous-shit lists, but an annual list of goals. Big goals, small goals, things I’d never done, things I’d done plenty and just wanted to ensure I did that year, as well. We fed off each other’s ideas and started the year looking forward to all the awesome stuff on our lists.

I loved the idea of goal setting instead of half-assed new year’s resolutions that were forgotten my the time February rolled around. So I kept up the tradition, and now it’s spread to others—my family and friends. By sharing the list with the world, I am held accountable. And at the end of the year, I fess up and share what I accomplished and what I didn’t. They vary in length and content (My 2012 list has links to past years at the bottom), but are all super awesome, if I do say so myself.

So, ladies and gents, without further ado, what I think is my final draft of my 2013 BUCKET LIST!! Continue reading

The Year in Review: Checking off my 2012 Bucket List

Another year has come and gone… And a better year than the one before, I’ll grant her that. In looking over the past 12 months, there are numerous highs that stand out. In 2012, I worked one of the best jobs I could have dreamed up, I rekindled relationships with friends I had abandoned when a boy came along, I learned to respect myself (and ongoing goal), and I spent some much-needed time at home. I ran 13.1 (ok, I ran 10 and walked 3.1, so shoot me) miles and traveled the world, I lived in freaking Paris (Paris?!) for four months, I blew way too much money in Prague, I drank way too much biere in Munich. I finally—finally—let myself have a break, and only took 2 1/2 classes. I read books, I caught up on about 5 seasons of “Gossip Girl” (I can hear you judging me), and lived. It’s been an incredible year.

Of course, as my friend Dickens says, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” And while 2012 doesn’t come near to being as terrible as The Great Flustercluck of 2011, there were some lows. But I survived the apocalypse, so at least I got that on in my tool belt, right? Suffice to say the highs outweighed the lows…

For those who don’t know about my annual bucket lists, I’ll explain later, but below is my 2012 list, what I completed and what I didn’t. 2013, here we come! This year’s bucket list to follow: Continue reading

Happy Birthday to Me (yet again)

My coworkers surprised me with an ice cream cake 🙂

This happens every year… I look back on where I was for my last birthday and feel like I’ve grown immensely, like I’m altogether a different person than I was 12 short months ago. This year is no different. As I round out my first 20 years, I celebrate surviving teen pregnancy, and I celebrate life. Because nothing is more thrilling than wondering what the next year will bring, and what I’ll be thinking about a year from now after having traipsed around Europe and The Middle East and (finally) having moved into my new apartment. I’m young, I know. And I always feel like my birthdays are catching up to me. I’ve felt 20 for the last six months, but I’m only just now turning that page.

Last year, I compiled a list of 19 things I had learned in my 19 years of life. And while they’re all still true (especially the bits about sexy underwear and neon toes), There’s more to add. So I decided to dream up another list of things I’ve learned, especially things I’ve learned in the last year. Things that maybe struck me or made a big impression on me. To say that the past year has been eventful is the understatement of the century, but I’ve grown from it all, too. And in the end, I suppose it’s what we learn that counts most. There are only seven this year–some silly, some serious–but all meaningful in their own ways.

Lesson #1: I’m a lot younger than I think I am. As I mentioned, every year I look back and marvel at how young I was one year before. And I know that my next birthday will be no different. I talk about being an old soul, and in many ways I am. But I’m still a child, too. And there’s some sort of freedom in knowing that and taking advantage of it.

Lesson #2: Simplicity is underrated. Last year, I went on my perfect-ten-fest, and this year, I’m on a similar simplicity-fest. I can’t even adequately communicate how cleansing it is to throw away boxes and boxes of crap. Clothes I don’t wear, books I don’t read… I don’t need any of it. I used to marvel at how guys could get by on so few clothes and products. But they’re onto something; the simplicity is fantastic. In packing and preparing for Paris, I’m bringing only a few of my favorite things, the things I truly couldn’t live without. And why shouldn’t I live like that all the time? Continue reading

2012 Bucket List!

So I have this tradition… In 2009, I celebrated the new year with my close friend Casey, and together we crafted “Bucket Lists” of things we hoped to accomplish that year. I loved it. New Year’s resolutions stuck me as half-assed attempts at changing oneself. It was almost negative: what is wrong about me that I ought to change (but don’t really want to).

But the lists were different. They were optimistic, and proactive. It was less about What can I improve about myself? and more What can I hold myself accountable for? What can I accomplish this year?

There are some big things—highlights include “Go to college” (2009), “Go to Europe” (2009, 2010), “Start a blog” (2010)—but I balance them out with smaller items that are still great experiences. It’s all about being realistic about what I can do that year. By putting a few big items on the list, I hold myself accountable.

And not everything gets crossed off. Throughout the year, my wants and goals change. But the point is to write it down. As I learned from my mother, unless I write it down, shit don’t get done.

Check out the full list.
Continue reading

The Year in Review

2011 started with my moving to Manhattan to work at Marie Claire.

As 2012 approaches, I reflect on the past 12 months. Sometimes, last Christmas seems likes a lifetime ago, and other times, I feel like so little time has passed. But it’s been a full year when I think about everything that has happened.

I moved to New York and worked for six months at Marie Claire. I explored the city and spent a week in the Bahamas. I moved back to Boston and lived off campus (my first big girl apartment!). I worked at LOFT and am in a great relationship. I also dyed my hair about a dozen different colors.

But then we had three deaths in the family, and a could friends as well. Only one was from old age. We’ve faced financial stress and law suits, and the general crappy-ness of some people. It’s been a challenging year, but we’ll grow from it all, as well.

Click for more to see what I crossed off from my 2011 Bucket List. Continue reading