holiday recommendations

Albums for the Signs

Guaranteed to become your favorites! Look at moon sign as well. ☾ 

Aries: Discovery - Daft Punk (especially recommend Crescendolls)

Taurus: Girls and Weather - The Rumble Strips (especially recommend Girls and Boys In Love)

Gemini: Taki 183 - Dye (especially recommend Fantasy)

Cancer: Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness (Self titled album - especially recommend Rainy Girl)

Leo: Tourist History - Two Door Cinema Club (especially recommend What You Know)

Virgo: Contra - Vampire Weekend (especially recommend Holiday)

Libra: What a Drag - Beach Weather (especially recommend Swoon)

Sagittarius: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles (especially recommend Within You Without You)

Scorpio: Awaken, My Love - Childish Gambino (especially recommend Redbone)

Capricorn: Wiped Out! - The Neighbourhood (especially recommend Ferrari)

Aquarius: Runway - SwuM (especially recommend Hydrate)

Pisces: Plastic Beach - Gorillaz (especially recommend Melancholy Hill)

Mexican woman (born and raised)

I’ve noticed a lack of full-on Mexican perspective in the profiles and I hope this helps, before going starting remember that my experiences do not reflect a global view of the life as a mexican, nor does invalidate the Mexican immigrants or mixed-race people who identify themselves with their Mexican heritage around the world.

Language

Spanish is the main official language, but there over 50 indigenous languages all over the country, among the most commons are: Nahuatl, Maya, Mixteco, Zapoteco, Tzozil etc. (really there an entire Wikipedia article on it look it up)

Home/Family life

Family is really important in México, quality time with your family is stressed over since early life, and chances are that at least half of your best childhood friends will be your cousins, someone straying away from the family permanently is severely looked down and criticized, only if it’s by choice mind you, family will be understanding if it’s for causes beyond your control (job transfers and opportunities) and Christmas and New Year is usually the time of the year where every relative from every corner of the country (and even from other countries) will come visiting you.

Family roles are still seen in a very traditional way, with the mother being in charge of the home, and the father working, however given that family abandonment is sadly very common; in all places and economic backgrounds not just poor families; this tends to place an even greater responsibility for the mother, and is not uncommon that a grandparent, uncle or even older cousin steps in as a paternal figure.

Families where the siblings never move from the parents’ house and all live in with their own families are still around, such families usually have the grandmother as the center of everything and be the one calling the shots on important decision, this is however a dying tendency (at least in the Bajío)

Dating and Friendships

Despite its conservative ideologies, parents are surprisingly permissive when it comes to the dating life of their children, sure there are some really strict parents around but they’re usually mocked even by other parents for being so prudish. An interesting contrast with American parents that I’ve seen, is that while the americans want to know who their kids are going out with, their parents, their school, etc. etc. Mexican parent rarely concern themselves with these details, as long as you get to the house at the promised hour and not smelling like alcohol or cigarettes, you’re good, it’s a given that if you’re taking someone into the house and to meet the family it’s because is a serious relationship or an incredibly good friend, and a way of telling your parents that you (and by extension them) are gonna keep seeing them.

Food

Two key things about food in Mexico: tortillas and chile, sweet bread is also a must, but only for breakfast. Even the the most posh, stuck-up (or fresas as we call them) people will occasionally indulge into the nearest taco (or larguitas) stand for lunch, or dinner. A usual meal around here consists of soup, some steak or guisado accompanied by juice or water, dessert is not really accustomed either, unless you’re eating out.

 Another thing is that fast food (pizza, burgers, fries, etc.) is not really popular around here, unless you’re from one of the big cities (DF, Querétaro, and Guadalajara) is usually seen as either something you only do for your kid’s birthday, or when you just don’t have the time for cooking because of a tight schedule.

Education

In Mexico compulsory education is divided by 6 years of elementary school (primaria), 3 of middle school (secundaria), and three of high school (preparatora or bachillerato). Afterwards college lasts usually 4-5 years. If you graduated on medical career (nurses, doctors, dentists, psychologists and psychiatrist) are required to have in between 6 months or a year of social services before getting matriculated.

I should say that Mexicans value education A LOT, over here claiming that “college is for losers” will get you a smack in the head (by your parents) and rolled eyes from everyone else; even from people who were born before such requirement for a job were a thing, that doesn’t mean that everyone goes to college, but is usually seen as the ideal path for your children, if you don’t want to go, that’s fine but then you’re gonna have to work, and you will be expected to settle down with a family as soon as you can financially support yourself instead.

Religion

As with the majority of Mexicans, even though I’m no longer practicing (I’m atheist) I was raised as Catholic, with moderated requirements, so I had to go to mass on Sunday (which always last the same 45 min. or 1 hr. tops) with formal wear, I prayed the “Padre Nuestro” and “Ave Maria” before going to bed (this usually only last ‘til puberty hits, they stop forcing you by then) thank God for the food after each meal, but the whole thing about not eating meat on Fridays is usually only on the Cuaresma, and it only applies to red meats, so most people eat fish and chicken during those days anyway. I had to do my confirmation, my first communion, and do confessions with the local church.

Holidays

These are 5 important Holidays in Mexico (in order of importance):

  • Independence Day (September 16th) – National off the school (and the job) day, there are parades all over the country and on the midnight of the 15th the President will give the Bell Ring to commemorate the Father Miguel Hidalgo and lots, lots of fireworks, usually the decorations and festive moods last all September month.
  • Day of the Dead (November 2nd) – Depending on the region, some places celebrate the 1st too as the “All Saints Day”, it’s also depending on the region the level to which is celebrated, in the Bajío we get an off-day, there are altars contests and Catrina parades, and we go the Cemetery to clean and adorn the graves of our families, but I know there are other places where they treat it like a regular day, leaving the visit for the most close weekend, and then there are some other places, where it’s such an important day, that everything is closed, stores, hotels, restaurants, to give off the ‘mourning’ more weight than the celebrating part, even the parades are done in silence.
  • Christmas’s Eve (December 24th) – No Santa here (kids know about it, but most don’t ask presents to him), it’s exclusively a religious and family day, it’s tradition to put a manger of the baby Jesus. Family dinner at midnight, ALL the family is gonna travel to their childhood homes with their kids and spouses, a longer Mass is also attended too at night, some more religious families also perform several prayers before said dinner, and attend to the morning mass of the 25th day in which usually everything is closed down (except in bigger cities)
  • The Wise Kings Day (January 6th ) – This is the day kids get their presents, the 5th is usually used for kids to hang their letters in the tree or in some places to a balloon into the air with the things they want, and wake super early and everything, that same night we get the “Rosca of Reyes”, which has several figurines of the baby Jesus in it, and anyone who gets one, has to make a meal (traditionally tamales but it can be anything) on the February 2nd for all the assistants, in schools is also done, and the expenses of are shared by the people who got the figurines as well.
  • The Mexican Revolution (November 20th) – Similar to the Independence day, except that is less prominent, and depending on which weekday falls is less likely to get it as an off-day from school (usually never for jobs, unless you work in a school) the parade for this day is different from the Independence day one, because this one is less militaristic and more sporty with schools having an athletic or dancing routine for it.
  • Mother’s Day (May 10th) – Usually not an off-day, but people tend to leave both school and jobs early that day to spend the day with their mother (or at least give them a call in case they can’t), it’s more…about the publicity and gifts than any other holiday

Beauty Standards

Mexican beauty standards vary according to the region, I grew up in the “Bajío” the mid-land of the country, where most of the population range from brown to white-passing of skin-color, and my family like many others in the area has sprinkled this range in the whole family, case in point, me and my siblings: my little sister is pale as they come and definitely white-passing (she has been told as much by our mexican-american cousins), my older brother is dark-skinned and really really hairy, I’m in the middle of them being light-browned:

  • Skin tone: Colorism is definitely a thing here, since birth you’ll hear how pretty and cute pale babies are, and how ‘funny’ darker babies are, this is something that never really goes away as one gets older people will just stop being polite about it seeing as negroandprieto (black) are common derogative words to describe a particularly dark brown person, sometimes even calling them chango (monkey) whereas the neutral term would be “moreno (a)“ 
  • Hair: You’re gonna have a hard time finding anyone who is doesn’t have brown or dark-hair, personally I can count with one hand the number of naturally blond people I’ve met in my 20-something years of life, I’ve met more red-heads than blonds honestly, I mentioned natural blond, because what you’re gonna get a lot are dyed blondies here, (and yes it does have to do with American-european beauty standards and prominence in the media) still, this is starting to change and it’s far more common with older women (over 35-40)
  • Body Types: Despite the stereotype of the voluptuous latina, Mexican women have a wide array of body types, from petite to XXL (bigger than this is rare though) The curvy but still not-really-overweight is preferred over skinny, especially if said skinny girl doesn’t have full bottom, hips and legs (which are seen as waay more appealing than big breasts), she will often be called out for having “patas de pollo” (chicken legs) or “huesuda” (boney) in case she’s not pale.
  • Make Up: There’s something you should know, 90% of Mexican women will always grab their make-up (especially the lipstick) when going out even for a mere errand, I was thought how to use make-up before learning about periods. The only schools that will not let you wear it are usually the religious ones and of course the elementary level.
  • Clothing: As of late, Mexico is a place where casual clothing is the norm, even for most jobs and schools dress-codes are really lax and even then rarely enforced (unless you really push your luck of course, no one is gonna go to work wearing yoga pants and sneakers), but there are still subtle hints and differences, you can often tell people’s family background, income and even occupation by the way they dress: people from poorer families tend to favor sports clothing and sneakers (they’re easy to move in, cheap and comfy), middle-class people will have jeans and dress shirts of all types, colors and styles, formal shoes, sandals, and boots, only wearing full formal attire if the job requires it, or on formal occasions, even then richer people favor  casual fashion styles, but they can be spotted because they are the ones wearing super tall high heels, jewelry brand clothing and purses etc.

Things I’d like to see less of

The spicy Latina, the illegal immigrant or the stereotypical poor Mexican family with little to no education, also the jornalero too.

Tropes/Stereotypes I’m tired of seeing.

Also I’m tired of seeing the Latinx community as a monolith, where the Mexicans, the Colombians, the Chileans, the Argentines, the Brazilians etc. etc. 

Things I’d like to see more of

Educated mexicans, hard-working mexicans, legal and born into America Mexicans, indigenous Mexicans.

Following the above, I’m not saying that we should erase the presence of the undocumented Mexicans, I want to see the follow up to that story, do people even understand the reason why Immigration is so common in Mexico? Do they know that more often than not, it’s only the father of the family that goes away and send money to their family in Mexico? So they can have a better life, a better education? Where is the following to that?

I’ve seen tons of depictions for the immigrants and their struggle for that better life, which feel more often than not, as a way for americans to have sob story about how “bad” our lives are and how we seek the better, richer ‘American dream’ in order to what? Feel sorry for us? But why don’t we see them having that result which is often reflected on their children? Did you know that Education is the most valued asset in Mexico? Did you know that most jornaleros won’t even risk bringing their kids with them, because they tell them to stay in school, to be better? (I always found that ridiculous, children labor exist and is a problem, but virtually no parent in gonna do that unless they are irresponsible or non-caring about them), where are the doctors? The lawyers, the engineers, the writers, the teachers. Why are we always singers or dancers, narcos or cops? We are not ‘entertainers’ at heart for you to have fun, nor dumb muscle for your gang problems.

Book Recommendations

I know this isn’t part of the POC Profile but if you want to have a better view of the Mexican way of thinking and our culture I highly suggest these titles:

  • The Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz
  • The Broken Spears by Miguel León-Portilla
  • Psychology of the Mexican by Rogelio Diaz-Guerrero
  • The Book of Lamentations by Rosario Castellanos
  • Mañana Forever?: Mexico and the Mexicans by Jorge Castañeda

anonymous asked:

do you have any ikon fic recs? :)

I only read iKON fanfics, so… 😂😂😂

Everything from my wifey @donghyuks-thighs . If I needed to choose my favorite it would be either Fault lines or Hiraeth (depending on my mood ><).
Idk if she’ll be mad if I name her stories but @iksarai likes to see the members suffer (she doesn’t have the word ‘fluff’ in her dictionary), but her stories are awesome!
Thanks to @hwan-tastic I discovered these masterpieces [x], [x] & [x] (she’s my double b/junhwan fanfic updater). 
@bobhwa ’s *insert the title of the bobhwan ff she will write in the future* is just great!!! 💕

8

You are not alone; you are right at home.

Happy birthday, Johanna!

anonymous asked:

ah im sorry i wanted to rec something you havent read yet :( i think its the least i can do since you always rec such wonderful fics. im also sad minfairy quit writing bc theyre my fav & their non au fics are the best.. speaking of, i was gonna ask for more non au fics but i literally asked 2 days ago but i'll try to find something you havent read yet and rec you :^) you don't have to answer this ask now btw! thanks again for being so sweet <3

adshdsh its okay anon you dont have to do that but thank you thats so sweet of you :))) yes im also sad that they quit their writing is one of my favs and sadjhdhs yes ofc i have been reading lots of vmin lately (by lots i mean LOTS LOTS) so you can count on me anytime tbh :) so okay bare with me:

6

merry pitchmas, @brittany-snodes! you are definitely my #gifspiration, so i’m glad i get to show my gratitude! here are a few songs i think we would find on the ipod of your (and my) favorite bella, & in case apple music isn’t your thing here is a spotify playlist that is fine-tuned to chloe beale’s taste :) happy holidays!

Booked for the Holidays: Book Lists with a Twist

‘Tis the season to give books - and these aren’t your grandmother’s book recommendations. Here’s a masterpost of our 2016 gift guides! 

(Note: we’ll be adding links as new lists go up every day - so if you’re seeing someone’s reblog of this and want to know if a particular list is up yet, click through to our original post!)

Don’t see what you need here? Click over to the Penguin Hotline to get personalized recommendations from real live PRH employees!

2

Kylux AU: The Good Witch’s Gift AU

After issues with securing a wedding licence, Ren’s ex-con of a father’s arrival, and the loss of the rings, Hux begins to wonder if the spirits just don’t want this wedding to happen.

10

Mikko Espresso & Boutique

Location:  403 Rue Main, Hudson

Metro Station: forget about the metro… this place is in Hudson!

Woah, I included a huge strip of photos for this post. But it’s worth it because this place was gorgeous.. and I didn’t drive 45 minutes to only take a few pictures. 

So I heard about Mikko through an Instagrammer who had been here once and loved it. I guess that’s a good enough reason to go all the way to Hudson for a coffee shop?

My mom woke up this morning and told me she didn’t have work and basically asked me if I wanted to cafe crawl with her. Anywhere.

Anywhere, mom? Fine by me! Since she was down to drive anywhere, I gave her the address of the furthest coffee shop on my list. And we commenced our adventure. 

The drive there was b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l in the winter. There was fresh snow everywhere and the trees were all covered in crystals. The snow hadn’t turned into slush yet and they were still holding on to the landscape, making the scenery a real winter wonderland. 

Finding the coffee shop, I realized it was a house. An actual house with 2 floors and everything. The door was so beautifully decorated. Walking in, the blue toned winter wonderland we had witness dissipated from our eyes and all we could feel was the warmth of the cafe. I was surprised by its little town cafe charm. 

The barista immediately greeted us in what I would think was the old living room of the house. They had a counter now though, of course. My mom started telling her that I was a cafe crawler and did the typical “I’m a proud mom” speech. It was a bit embarrassing, but it’s not like I’ll be seeing the people of Hudson any time soon. I let her talk about my not-so-famous blog and Instagram account. 

The cafe had 3 tables and a little bar. I have to admit - there wasn’t a lot of seating, but Hudson isn’t really big so I’m sure they don’t get that packed anyways. Luckily we found a table next to this young couple who were buying a little hat for their newborn baby.

Let me explain… Mikko isn’t only a coffee shop, but it’s also a boutique where you can buy cute decorations, kitchen items and other adorable little items. Their products were everywhere in the shop, and it added a unique personal touch to the entire place. I loved it. Their stuff wasn’t too expensive either (my mom bought a reindeer tea infused - she couldn’t resist). 

The mochas we ordered then came to our table. After snapping about a hundred pictures, I took the first sip. So good! It was rich and creamy and everything you want in a drink. I wish I had ordered one of their croissants too, but maybe I’ll get some next time when I’m in town. 

I’m very glad I got to experience a spontaneous cafe crawl outside of Montreal before the end of the holidays.. I recommend it to anyone who’s down for something a little bit different.

4

A comiXologist Recommends (her favorite comics of 2015)

Transformers: Holiday Special #1

IDW’s Transformers Holiday Special is out this week, just in time to take its place as once of my absolute favorite single issues of 2015. It’s made up of three short stories from IDW’s Transformers continuity, all of which had me laughing out loud on every page. I would recommend picking this issue up to anyone with even a passing childhood remembrance of Transformers, if only for the hilarious Christmas poem about a grinchy, scroogey Starscream.

Of course, because I’m a die-hard More Than Meets The Eye fan, the highlight for me is Silent Light, a cheeky side story which, in typical fashion for the series, gets in some quality jabs at your heart and a bunch of juicy character development in between 10 pages of hijinks. Kotteri’s art in this story, accompanied beautifully by Joanna Lafuente’s colors, is lively and bursting with personality in every line. After seeing all these characters (especially Whirl) come to life in this style, I’m really hoping Kotteri lends their wonderful work to the main series someday in the future. Finally, my favorite Former-Decepticon & His Dog duo Thundercracker and Buster star in their very own holiday film noir (it’s a new genre.)

It’s still balmy here in New York City, but when I read this comic I swear I heard sleigh bells ringing… or maybe that was Lightbright and Sparkstalker’s wedding bells?

EMILY FORSTER is a Digital Editor at ComiXology and a cartoonist. These days, robots kissing is all she can think about.

BECAUSE, YOU KNOW

Word Count: 2119

Warnings: Mild Language

Request: Hello :) Can I send in a request with Daryl ? Maybe where you both are dating but he didn’t say the words ‘I love you’ yet. So one day you join a run with some others but you end up getting shot accidentally. Then you’re carried back into the prison and as soon Daryl sees you being unconscious he Freaks out and thinks you’re dead. After you get operated, you survive but you’re out for a while. Daryl stays with you and after you wake up, he tells you that he loves you properly ? :) I hope it’s ok.

(( yes yes yes I absolutely love prison requests, it was probably my favorite time period. I made this one kind of long and to all of you who lost something tonight, I hope you’re handling okay. I love you guys and please please don’t harm yourselves over this election. ))

You’ve spent the last twenty minutes entangled in the linen sheets and staring up at the cold steel slab holding the top half of the bunk bed above you, neither you nor Daryl had found the time to cut it off and use it as an extension for the first bunk, so it was just there. You finally decided to get up and start the day. When you swung your feet over the edge of the bed and sat yourself up, you noticed the seemingly empty chair on the opposite side of the cell, meaning Daryl had already left. You ensured the blanket covered cell door was closed off to the outside, then changed into an old grey t-shirt and well fitting jeans. You slipped on and laced up your weathered leather boots and went out into the cell block to see what was on the list for you to do today. You, Glenn, and a few other had signed up to siphon gas from the cars on the side lot today, therefore that’s what you went to do. You navigated through the poorly lit halls of the prison until you made it out front, on your way to start the job. You greeted many other people, children, and friends whilst on your way to the parking lot, asking around if they knew where Daryl was.

“His bike’s still here, so he couldn’t have gone too far, I’m sure he’ll be back soon,” Rick responded when you questioned him. Still, without his motorcycle, it worried you that he was with no group. You thanked Rick, then continued on past a couple of cell blocks to find Glenn, Sasha and Bob waiting for you.

The four of you took 45 minutes to siphon 13 gallons of gas from the cop cars abandoned in the lot, then started making trips to the supply room to store them. On your way back to grab the last few gallons, you saw Glenn, Rick and Daryl arguing about something. You took a deep breath, ran your hand through your hair and walked over to see what was going on.

“Wait, guys, what’s going on?” You questioned, attempting to diffuse the situation.

“Daryl brought back a deer,” Rick started.

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Since her highness has already visited your blog, perhaps you should make a "what Azula would gain from zutara" post too lol

What Azula would gain from Zutara

Oh boy. I have to go into serious mode over this one, because while Azula would gain a LOT, it isn’t necessarily Mai’s fault that Azula would lose out so much with Mαiko.

Mai betrayed Azula to save Zuko’s life. It’s the noblest thing she ever did, and it was done at great risk to herself. But the side effect of that is: her relationship with Azula is broken, and always will be.

Katara fought Azula as an enemy. An enemy that Azula underestimated, but an enemy nonetheless. There was no treachery involved in her actions. Even Zuko fought Azula as an enemy during their Agni Kai; they were set up by their father to be rivals ever since they were children.

But with Mai, Azula’s “fear is the only reliable way” credo was shattered. It was not only a severe blow to her ego, but to her self-confidence. Azula, the people person who could read Long Feng’s whole history in his eyes, couldn’t see past Mai’s blasé façade to her actual feelings for Zuko. And worse, Mai left Azula after being as close to the princess as she would allow anyone to get, for years on end. What Mai did (and it was a good thing!) nevertheless caused Azula to spiral into paranoia and insanity.

Azula may heal in time, but there is absolutely no chance she and Mai will ever have a cordial relationship again. And that’s not Mai’s fault; it’s just a fact.

So if Mai were Fire Lady, Azula would have MAJOR problems—not only seeing her former screw-up of a brother take “her” rightful place on the throne, but seeing the woman who betrayed her for Zuko be rewarded with a position of power. Katara was an enemy, but enemies can make peace. Friends who stab each other in the back, even with the best of intentions? No.

Now leaving that aside, Azula definitely has a lot to gain from Zutara. She needs a mother figure in her life, and while Katara might hold a grudge, she would also see how unstable Azula is and try to help (without the gentleness that she would use on Aang, which would actually help Azula see that she is not being pitied). Katara has been shown to be able to heal people’s minds, and while it may not be a cure-all for Azula’s problems, she would be an amazing resource to have on hand in case Azula needed someone to calm her down. Katara, not having lived in fear of Azula, would be able to see the princess as a person; they could even spar together without dredging up old memories about competing as children, like with Zuko. Azula would definitely try headgames on Katara, but as the years go by, I can also see her trying to tease Katara in a less sinister fashion. Katara might even help Azula leave the hospital, one day. 

Above all, Katara has an immense amount of compassion–but she is also a force to be reckoned with. The perfect combination for dealing with a tormented firebender. 

And now, a holiday fic recommendation: An Avatar Christmas Carol by @emletish-fish

Summer Reads

Okay, so it has been WAY TOO LONG since I have posted on here, but if I’m honest I’ve been having a bit of a social media detox/re-focus, and I’ve been reading a lot of literary theory to get started on next years work, so I’m sorry if I haven’t replied to your questions, but I will get right on it! 

Now - I have had a few people ask me whether I can give any book recommendations for a summer holiday. I have a post which states a list of all my favourite books here:(http://acambridgestudent.tumblr.com/post/115749099264/hey-could-you-tell-me-a-list-of-your-favorite), but thought I’d create a more concise list.  So with that in mind, I’ve searched my shelves for 5 great reads that you can kick back and relax with.  

1. Orlando - Virginia Woolf 

To be completely honest, other than A Room Of One’s Own, I hadn’t really connected with Virginia Woolf’s writing (cue the faces of horror), but I cast my scepticism aside, thought I would give this a try, and well…I ended up falling in love. I couldn’t put it down, meaning any other responsibilities I had that day went out of the window at once (I actually cancelled on meeting a friend), and I spent my day immersed in Woolf’s novel. A great read! 

2. A Room With A View - E. M. Forster 

I’m afraid I don’t have a picture of this book as the copy I read was a library copy, but I thoroughly recommend it. I read this book soon after I decided to leave Architecture, so I was in great need of a book which was altogether light-hearted and enjoyable, and my new English supervisor at the time pointed me towards A Room With A View. I just remember reading this and feeling like a ray of sunshine had just penetrated my gloomy outlook on life at the time, and Forster’s take on Lucy’s travels made me chuckle slightly inside, and lifted a bit of a weight from my mind. So if you’re looking for a book that isn’t too dense to chill out with and refresh your mind, here it is. 

3. East of Eden - John Steinbeck  

Read this book. READ. THIS. BOOK. I have not met one person who has not loved this, so if you read one book on my list, please let it be this! Even thinking about this again has made me want to re-read myself. Although intimidating, resembling a mini-doorstop depending on the kind of novel you usually read, East of Eden is utterly mesmerising. Steinbeck’s writing is just beautiful. Read it. 

4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s - Truman Capote 

Did I like Holly Golightly? Not really no. Did part of me want to be her? Yes. Summer for me contains time to read books of frivolity, books which allow you to dream, books which perhaps fulfil those wishes that you’re never quite sure will happen. And personally, New York City has always been present in my dreams (if I don’t live there for a while when I’m older, I think I’m going to be fairly sad…), and reading fiction set there allows me to transport myself (actually while I’m here recommending books set in New York, please read Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell (!)). Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of those iconic books that I just couldn’t leave off this list. Many read this with the film in mind, but it is utterly, utterly different. However, it is brilliant, and strangely addictive. 

5. Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë

For those of us who find themselves in monsoon-like weather this summer, or even for those of us who love feeling a little wintry wherever they travel to (aka me), my final recommendation is one of my favourite books: Wuthering Heights. I will probably re-read this again over summer, on one of those rainy days where you want nothing but to sit at a window with a hot drink, listening to the rain and reading a book. Its universal fame alone should tell you that this book is worth a read, and although I can’t stand most of the characters within the novel, enjoying a book isn’t necessarily about that. Brontë’s way with words is pure genius, and her intoxicating writing will inevitably draw you into her narrative. I can’t tell you how much I love reading this book, so it had to have a place on my list for you! 

~

So there we have it - I hope you enjoy! 

-Sarah xoxo 

HIGH FIVE: LUXURIOUS MASKS

This holiday party season, decadence begins with perfectly prepped skin.

The invitation has glitter in the envelope. The champagne punch is golden and sparkly. Can your skin compete with all the brilliant merriment that comes with the season? These five extra-luxurious masks will make you look glowing in no time. JESSICA VELEZ

The Sweet Pot

While Fresh Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask helps tighten the look of your skin, the scent alone will tempt you to lick your lips when you’re wearing it. However, it’s not the same syrupy concoction found inside that plastic bear at the grocery store. A hive of specially bred buzzers, known as Buckfast bees, work to create a superior honey in order to deliver a melt-in-your skin mask.

The Power Clay

As ironic as it sounds, mud and clay are some of the best ingredients to deeply cleanse the skin. That doesn’t mean you should go reaching for the shovel. Instead, reach for Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask, which houses Hungarian mud and French clay inside its fancy glass jar. Slather on this creamy mixture (it has the aroma of a spa found in heaven) to aid in drawing out impurities.

The Gold Standard

For skin that’s dimmed over time, go for the gold. Seriously, it’s really an ingredient in the Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Mask Pure Luxury Lift & Firm Mask—and it gives you an incredibly youthful glow. (Pro tip: The metallic hue also makes for a festive pre-party selfie.) Look to this ultra-luxurious antiaging formula to pamper you during your daunting holiday social schedule, and you just might consider it this season’s most essential gilded accessory.

The Super Soaker

While you’re running around in the snow and wind (and trying not to slip in your party heels), do your complexion a favor and pick up a Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask—trust us, it quenches dry winter skin like no other. Made with whole plant green tea, rice bran oil, and red algae, this moisturizing powerhouse nurtures out-and-about skin during cold-weather months in a super-efficient, coconut-derived biocellulose mask format.

The Light Saver

Infused with the line’s signature skin-rejuvenating pitera ingredient, SK-II Facial Treatment Mask sends your radiance factor through the roof—and dehydrated skin out the door. This sheet mask is considered a holy grail product by celebrities and skincare devotees everywhere, and when it comes to hitting the holiday party circuit, we recommend stepping forth with your most opulent looks—beautiful skin included.

SHOP MASKS >

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE FOR YOUNG WRITERS (PART ONE)

Not sure what to get that young/budding/amateur writer in your life? Here are my top recommendations.

On Technique (Resources, Lessons, and Prompts)

The Describer’s Dictionary: A Treasury of Terms & Literary Quotations (Expanded Second Edition)

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The dictionary uses a unique reverse definition-to-term format that makes it easy to zero in on the term you’re seeking. Turn to the new section on sensory impressions, for example, to find vivid terms for “loud or jarring.”

And at the end of each section dozens of illustrative passages by notable fiction and nonfiction authors—including Donna Tartt, Michael Lewis, Zadie Smith, Khaled Hosseini, and Paul Theroux—bring the terminology to life.

Story Engineering

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Story Engineering starts with the criteria and the architecture of storytelling, the engineering and design of a story–and uses it as the basis for narrative.

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises that Transform Your Fiction

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The 3 A.M. Epiphany offers more than 200 intriguing writing exercises designed to help you think, write, and revise like never before - without having to wait for creative inspiration.

The Elements of Eloquence: Secrets of the Perfect Turn of Phrase

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From classic poetry to pop lyrics, from Charles Dickens to Dolly Parton, even from Jesus to James Bond, Mark Forsyth explains the secrets that make a phrase—such as “O Captain! My Captain!” or “To be or not to be”—memorable.

How to Write Short: Word Craft for Fast Times

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Clark covers how to write effective and powerful titles, headlines, essays, sales pitches, Tweets, letters, and even self-descriptions for online dating services. With examples from the long tradition of short-form writing in Western culture, HOW TO WRITE SHORT guides writers to crafting brilliant prose, even in 140 characters.

The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition

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This is The Elements of Style, the classic style manual, now in a fourth edition. A new Foreword by Roger Angell reminds readers that the advice of Strunk & White is as valuable today as when it was first offered.

On Inspiration (Memoir, Motivation, and Leading by Example)

Letters to a Young Poet

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These have been called the most famous and beloved letters of the 20th century. Rainer Maria Rilke himself said that much of his creative expression went into his correspondence, and here he touches upon subjects that will interest writers, artists, and thinkers.

Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

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Art & Fear explores the way art gets made, the reasons it often doesn’t get made, and the nature of the difficulties that cause so many artists to give up along the way.

This is a book written by artists, for artists -— it’s about what it feels like when artists sit down at their easel or keyboard, in their studio or performance space, trying to do the work they need to do.

The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery

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Beginning with the metaphor of the archer’s arrow that cannot travel in a direct line but must rise and fall before it hits its target, Lewis deftly weaves together theories on failure from hundreds of sources. Moving smoothly from Wynton Marsalis’ thoughts on jazz improvisation to Al Gore’s reflection on presidential loss, Lewis’ chapters profile those who have achieved mastery in their field by following the indirect path, often moving backwards, losing out, experimenting, and playing the amateur.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, 2nd Edition

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For more than twenty years Natalie Goldberg has been challenging and cheering on writers with her books and workshops. In her groundbreaking first book, she brings together Zen meditation and writing in a new way. Writing practice, as she calls it, is no different from other forms of Zen practice —"it is backed by two thousand years of studying the mind.“ 

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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Though aimed at writers, this book is full of sage advice and razor-edged honesty for the average joe. If you’re a writer–and I claim to be one–it’s more than a few anecdotes and good advice; it’s a lifeline in the thrashing seas of rough-draftdom, a foothold on the sands of jealousy and vain ambition. Anne makes it clear that writing must be pursued for something other than mere publication.

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

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At once a memoir, a meditation on the artistic process, and advice on craft, Still Writing is an intimate companion to living a creative life.

Make Good Art

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In May 2012, bestselling author Neil Gaiman delivered the commencement address at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, in which he shared his thoughts about creativity, bravery, and strength. He encouraged the fledgling painters, musicians, writers, and dreamers to break rules and think outside the box. Most of all, he encouraged them to make good art.

The bookMake Good Art, designed by renowned graphic artist Chip Kidd, contains the full text of Gaiman’s inspiring speech.

The Artist’s Way

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With the basic principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan lead you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.

Journaling Your Goals: Prompts, Motivation, and Advice to Help You Achieve Your Dreams

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Journaling Your Goals is a self-help book which introduces writing and journaling techniques for dreamers to help set, track, and follow through with personal goals and development. 

Week One: Here and Now 
-evaluate the current balance of your life 
-realize your values 
-start implementing small changes to make you more productive 
-learn how to track your productivity 

Week Two: Reflect: 
-look carefully at what you’ve accomplished 
-how your current behavior could bring you joy…or regret 
-how to overcome paralyzing doubt 
-how to combat fear 
-how to become a better you 

Week Three: Act On It: 
-associate hard work with good things 
-visualize your goals 
-automate your routines 
-use various techniques to "hack” your brain to respond positively to your efforts at productivity. 

Week Four: Moving Forward: 
-create your own manifesto 
-start a spiritual routine 
-celebrate your achievements 
-support yourself with self-care and healing techniques 

On Getting Work Done (Discipline, Habit, and Ritual)

Make It Mighty Ugly: Exercises & Advice for Getting Creative Even When It Ain’t Pretty

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The number one fear of all creative types—crafters, DIYers, makers, artists—is that failure lurks right around the corner. Crafty blogger and creativity guru Kim Piper Werker urges everyone to pick up their pen or paintbrush or scissors and make something mighty ugly: get that “failure” out of the way. This friendly book offers up a multi-pronged approach to overcoming creative fears through inspiring essays and anecdotes, interviews, exercises and prompts, and sage advice from all over the creative spectrum to help individuals slay their creative demons.

No Plot? No Problem! Revised and Expanded Edition: A Low-stress, High-velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days

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Chris Baty, founder of the wildly successful literary marathon known as National Novel Writing Month, has completely revised and expanded his definitive handbook for extreme noveling.

Write: 10 Days to Overcome Writer’s Block. Period.

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In this revolutionary book, psychologist and novelist Karen E. Peterson presents an easy, effective way to beat writer’s block in only ten days. Based on new brain research and sound psychological principles, this innovative program shows writers how to conquer writer’s block using a variety of exercises.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work

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Franz Kafka, frustrated with his living quarters and day job, wrote in a letter to Felice Bauer in 1912, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wriggle through by subtle maneuvers.”
 
Kafka is one of 161 inspired—and inspiring—minds, among them, novelists, poets, playwrights, painters, philosophers, scientists, and mathematicians, who describe how they subtly maneuver the many (self-inflicted) obstacles and (self-imposed) daily rituals to get done the work they love to do, 

Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

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Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life. It takes work to make a habit, but once that habit is set, we can harness the energy of habits to build happier, stronger, more productive lives.
 
So if habits are a key to change, then what we really need to know is: How do we change our habits?
 
Better than Before answers that question.

2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love

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Have you ever wanted to double your daily word counts? Do you feel like you’re crawling through your story, struggling for each paragraph? Would you like to get more words every day without increasing the time you spend writing or sacrificing quality? It’s not impossible, it’s not even that hard. This is the story of how, with a few simple changes, I boosted my daily writing from 2000 words to over 10k a day, and how you can, too.