Resolutions for 2014

Here's a page in my journal about my goals for this year. I think it's important to have one theme, typically a virtue one works toward (honesty, courage, stability, health, etc.) as well as subgoals that help guide your more general goals.

I think I get my mannish hand-writing from my father hahaha!

Happy New Year everyone! Be sure to wear circles and other round patterns to attract financial luck for the New Year and pay off all your debts. In many Asian cultures, there is a belief that your behavior on New Year's Day will be paid back to you ten-fold through the whole year. It's important to be good and rack up good karma especially on New Year's Day for this reason :) Pay off your debts now so you don't spend the year in debt. Clean the house now so your life isn't a mess in 2014. You get the picture.

Bye, 2013!
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Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it.  Merry Bathtub to all.

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Weekend Links 12.20.13

Cinderella 1997 with Brandy, Whitney Houston, Victor Garber, Whoopi, Bernadette Peters, and Paolo Montalban in FULL in case you're feeling nostalgic. FYI I saw Bernadette Peters in person during the summer and I swear, the woman doesn't age. >>>

Plenty of feminist discussion surrounding the new Beyonce album, and the queen herself. This is probably my favorite perspective on it I've read. It's basically, we will defend her against white feminists who deem her sexuality and perspective too far from their centered vision of what a woman should be, but we can't get too blinded by our sisterhood to her that we turn off our critical gaze and refuse to acknowledge the problematic aspects within her work. >>>

If you don't think that this 50 year old former Olympic hopeful who fell victim to an eating disorder who then recovered and now trains for the 2014 Olympics again isn't inspiring as hell, get out. >>>

This non-profit is built off the idea of giving women in developing economies employment, education, and mentorship so that they can save toward a new business venture while paying for their children's education and clean water. Basically, it's awesome. Consider buying their products or donating to them this holiday season. >>>

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Switching up my Oral Health Routine: Colgate Optic White and Oral B Clinical Pro Flex Review

I have a long and harrowing history with my teeth. One that involved my absolutely hating brushing my teeth as a kid, and developed into a decade-long affair with some serious orthodontia. And when i say serious, I mean serious. I had a lot of issues ranging from consistent, intense, terrible grinding (continues to this day) induced by my anxious personality, to cavity issues caused by weakened teeth, to an overbite which mandated a headgear (yeah I was one of those kids), to crooked teeth which took years of braces to straighten out.

Nowadays, I get complimented on my smile and even my teeth themselves. I try to do the best I can to prevent their decline. But, to be honest, I drink way more coffee and soda than I should, and my favorite sodas are highly acidic! It's going to stain my teeth!

I recently switched to Colgate Optic White toothpaste and I'm really happy with the switch. The flavor isn't too harsh (a real turn off for me) and I am totally enjoying the whitening agent.

Before I made the switch, I looked into whitening options. I had thought about teeth-whitening for a while, partially because my soda habit is pretty serious, and also because I figured it was a good idea to start now and work on whitening over time than attempting to undergo a dramatic, expensive whitening procedure later when hustling to look good for graduation or even wedding photos (a lot of my friends have expressed to me a fear that they're teeth would be a stark contrast to the white of a wedding dress!). My mother used whitening strips and to be honest, I didn't think it fit in with my lifestyle. I tried them once and found them uncomfortable. I thought about whitening toothpastes but I didn't really know what was in them and thought that bleaching was probably a bad idea.

I learned that Colgate Optic White uses hydrogen peroxide, which is used in some teeth whitening procedures, and isn't terribly harsh. Optic White is safe for every day use and gets best results in about 4 weeks, and after that it sort of plateaus and is more about maintaining the white that you now have. It's about the strongest whitening you can get from an everyday toothpaste.

I thought it would be a good idea to switch since I really like my smile, and this seemed like the easiest way to make it as white as possible. I've noticed that my teeth are whiter after a few weeks of use, and the best part is that I didn't have to change my routine! Do you know how great it is to have your teeth whitened without having to worry about an appointment or setting aside a block of time in your day to stick a yucky piece of plastic in your mouth? It's AWESOME!

I also swapped out my toothbrush for the new Oral B Pro Health Clinical Pro Flex. I'd recently attended a chat in which I was informed that in order to stay healthy, you're actually supposed to swap out your toothbrush every 3-6 months. Somehow I missed this memo? I'd been using an electric toothbrush for years and I had swapped the head maybe a grand total of 3 times. (TMI? Maybe.) I took a long hard look at my electric toothbrush: it was sad and battered like a salty sailor who'd seen too many storms-- and the bacterial field day that was every sinus infection I've had the past few years (hint, I had more than 5. Maybe my overuse of that Sonicare was part of it).

I'd really liked the Oral B Pro Health ones in the past, but the new Pro Health Clinical Pro Flex looked like some serious business. Fortunately, I happened to be with my friend whose sister is a dental hygienist, and her sister was called in. Apparently the Clinical Pro Flex were amazing in clinical trials. I am extremely satisfied with the level of clean I get from this toothbrush!

So maybe it's not a terribly exciting post, but I'm excited to head into this new year with whiter teeth. One of my New Year's Resolutions is to kick my soda habit, unless it's needed for caffeine reasons when studying, so I'm hoping to really brighten up in the teeth department once I stop habitually staining. 2014: Clean Slate, Clean Mouth. Um, well maybe I'll aim higher than that, but it's a good start, you know?

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Gift Guide for the Organized

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6

We all have at least one friend whose dorm room or apartment look like something out of a magazine or pinterest board. Like Santa, she makes tons of lists, checks them twice, and accomplishes an almost magical amount of work without even making it look hard. Here are some gifts for the girl who has it all together, and maybe even for the girl who's trying to be that girl.

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Weekend Links 12.12.13

NPR's 100 favorite songs of 2013 including CHVRCHES, Ariana Grande, Beck, David Bowie, Daft Punk and more >>>

There's no such thing as a "universal female experience" that women of all races, classes, nationalities, and sexual orientations share-- but the myth that there is this essential universal female experience stands strong, and it hurts women to base our politics off of it >>>

Melvfitness shows you exactly how she faked an amazing before/after photo, just to show you that you can look great or you can look terrible because real bodies have great moments and sloppier moments, good staging and bad staging >>>

Who counts as a woman of color? Asian women, as well as women from many other backgrounds outside of Black women, often find themselves either lumped in with whites, excluded by the POC label, or erased all together >>>

Shrinking Women by Lily Myers >>>

“I have devoted 30 years of research to how creative people live and work, to make more understandable the mysterious process by which they come up with new ideas and new things. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, it’s complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated. They contain contradictory extremes; instead of being an individual, each of them is a multitude.” >>>

24 Rules for Being a Gentleman in the Modern Age >>>
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I gave myself a new haircut! I'd been considering thick bangs for a long time, and I finally did it.



I actually haven't had bangs since I was like 8. I kind of vacillate between loving it and feeling like I gave myself an early nineties haircut and I don't know how to style. I mostly love it. I'm kind of proud that it came out as well as it did!

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My 6 Favorite Study Tools

It's Finals Week. That means studying like hell. Paper writing. Note taking. Flashcard... flashing? Here are my favorite study tools for the most miserable time of the academic year.

1 - SelfControl. This free app for Mac blocks you from any sites you place on your blacklist for a set amount of time. You will not be able to access the sites even if you try restarting your computer or deleting the app! This is an awesome tool if you have to be on the computer and internet (say, to write a paper) but can't resist the temptation of social media.

2 - Colored Pens. Color helps me organize my notes better because it allows for visual indications of categories or differences. I currently use Papermate InkJoy pens and I really like them. I am also a big fan of Staedtler fine-liners. They're great for diagramming but also for creating categories and associations by writing different things in different colors.

3 - 5x8" Lined Post-Its. These are SUCH great post-its for studying. Typically I summarize each page or each pair of adjacent pages on these post-its, or I write key questions to quiz myself on the content of each page. If I need more detailed info, I remove the post-it

4 - Flashcards [+]. This is the best flashcard app out there. You want the capability, Flashcards [+] has it. Editing styles, colors, and fonts of the writing on the cards, adding pictures and drawings, using bullets, importing from quizlet, allowing you to share with friends, allowing you to quiz yourself with matching, spelling quizzes, true or false, and even measuring your accuracy. It's great since you always have your phone on you. No more fumbling with hundreds of index cards, killing trees, losing them, leaving them at home, etc. It's free, with a $5 upgrade to allow you to have more than 100 items in a deck. It's worth it since that's about the same cost as two packs of index cards!

5 - Planner. If you don't have an agenda / weekly planner of some sort, you need to get on that. I'm a fan of the greenroom weekly planners that you can find at Target for $8 (and the price drops significantly into late January and February). Using your planner to figure out your exam schedule and your study schedule can put you on track to using your time wisely.

6 - Highlighters. Highlighting is an important part of the process. Highlight assignments. Highlight notes. Highlight rubrics. Highlight study guides. Highlight textbooks. It's classic and essential. I like to highlight textbooks and assignments. It's also great if you're writing a paper and are highlighting specific quotes or passages. I like Sharpie Accent highlighters.

What are your favorite study tools?
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Weekend Links

How a pair of old ladies are changing prison inmates lives by teaching them to knit >>>

I really enjoyed this piece Joe Jonas did detailing his life as a Jonas Brother and all the craziness that fame got him and his family into. He's my favorite of the 3 and I love how honest he was about everything from family to sex and drugs >>>

Why Love Actually is actually a terribly unromantic film (and everyone needs to know because I was extremely angry I wasted 2 hours of my life watching that drivel because everyone insisted it was so great) >>>

For Doctor Who fans: A great article on how Moffat is RUINING the show, specifically, his absolute inability to give meaning and significance to death. I long for the day when he's canned and Who can return to its former glory >>>

One woman's crusade against "the most hated man on the internet" aka the King of Revenge Porn. She deserves all the awards >>>

A great piece on Elle about why Carrie Bradshaw is full of shit >>>

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Black Friday Haul 2013

I shopped for 12 hours, folks. 6:30pm Thanksgiving Day until 6:30am today. I... I don't know how I am awake right now. If my words stop making sense, cut me a little slack-- I'm running on VERY little sleep but working through it to get this haul out to you guys! I was so excited to finally buy the things I so desperately needed! It's so hard for me to buy things after like, July, because I keep thinking to myself "but it will be cheaper in November..."

First, the outlet mall. Everything opened earlier this year, so I didn't get to nap. My parents were really tired and my father is getting over a cold/flu so we didn't get to stay as long as I'd have liked. Next year, they said, we'd bring two cars so they could leave earlier without holding me back from my precious precious sales.

Nine West

 Remember how I said I have a hard time buying stuff before Black Friday? Well, I daily wear black flats since they're the most practical option for a girl who likes to roll out of bed without having to think a ton about her shoes and lives on a bumpy, cobblestoney, ancient campus. About three months ago, I started wearing through my shoes. This isn't an uncommon thing since I have kind of an odd gait and daily use at W&M causes me to wear through a pair per year. I needed new shoes about 2 months ago when the hole wore through the sole, but I couldn't bring myself to spend money on an affordable but lower quality pair than what I knew I could get at a similar price on Friday.

Total Retail Value: $70
I paid: $30
Savings: 57%

Kate Spade

I don't know if you've heard, but this is basically my mothership. I LOVE Kate Spade. I bought myself a new purse, which is a little clutch for parties, but also has a shoulder strap/chain so it can be a crossbody. I regret nothing, it's absolutely adorable. I also snagged a pink wallet to give as a graduation gift. I'm splitting that with a friend.

Total Retail Value: $405
I paid: $160
Savings: 60%

Old Navy

I just really needed new jeans. Mine were getting really old and worn since I only have a few I rotate through. I always get them at Old Navy. They aren't the highest quality, but one of their cuts fits me really well, and on Black Friday, I can get them for as cheap as $15!

Total Retail Value: $60
I paid: $30
Savings: 50%


 I needed sweaters so badly! I get cold easily and sweaters are in short supply. I really love the sweet fox on the navy sweater, and I love the thick knit and buttons on the warm honey one.

Total Retail Value: $95
I paid: $47.50
Savings: 50%

J Crew 

I bought these two necklaces. Totally gorgeous. One is for me, the other is a gift for someone. I absolutely love necklaces. If I could only have one type of jewelry ever, it'd be necklaces. 

Total Retail Value: $77
I paid: $38.50
Savings: 50%

OKAY! So at the outlet, I got a ton of great goodies. I could have done another 3 hours there, but my parents are aging (sorry, mom, I said it) so I called it quits after  J Crew. Here's the overall breakdown of the Outlets.

Total Retail Value: $707
I paid: $306
Savings: 57%



I got stuff for me, as well as secret santa goodies and gifts. DVDs, snacks, craft supplies as shown above, as well as some underwear, which although nothing scandalous, I figured I wouldn't photograph for my blog. It seemed like it'd be crossing a line somehow.

Total Retail Value: $85
I paid: $63
Savings: 27%

Ulta / Sephora / Icing

I just decided to combine all the makeup purchases at once. I got bamboo brushes and brush cleaner at The Icing at my sister's recommendation-- they're apparently really good brushes for the price! Bamboo is also naturally antibacterial and extremely sustainable, so I always spring for bamboo products when possible. I got bronzer and blush at Ulta and the makeup sets at Sephora.

Total Retail Value: $81
I paid: $50
Savings: 38%

Hot Topic

Hot Topic had a great sale with $10 T-shirts and buy one get one free on everything else. I bought a few gifts, but I'm not gonna lie-- most of it is for myself.

Total Retail Value: $102
I paid: $50
Savings: 51%

So for my Black Friday total, as of 10am this Black Friday Morning, here are my totals.

Total Retail Value: $975
I paid: $469
Savings: 52%

How was your Black Friday?
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Black Friday Prep: The Outfit

Only a fool goes into battle without armor. Your outfit on Black Friday can make or break you. You thought you could go 5 hours standing in lines and busting heads in your cutest suede heeled booties? This is not a TJ Maxx #TheGifter Commercial where you stroll in to low prices in your chicest outfit. This is real life. This is Black Friday. It's survival of the fittest, friends, and the "fit" we're referring to isn't the tailoring of your blazer.

The stand alone retailer
These are for indoor shopping locations like indoor malls and stand-alone stores like Target.

These are for indoor shopping locations like indoor malls and stand-alone stores like Target. It's going to be a bit chilly, so you're going to want a hoodie . I recommend going for a zip-down option in case you need to try stuff on. Underneath, you should wear a camisole -- this makes it easy for you to try on tops and dresses, without having to choose between waiting forever for a dressing room or flashing the store. Next, you should have some substantial leggings . Thick enough to be pants-like enough to avoid having your panties show through (hey, this might be a battlefield, but ain't no reason to embarrass yourself like that), but thin enough to allow you to try on jeans and skirts over it like a champ, once again forgoing the dressing room. If you're really worried about butt-coverage, go for a long hoodie or tie your hoodie around your waist Next, make sure you got your bad-ass pancake socks . Because what's a night of intense shopping without a little whimsy? Lastly, make sure you got comfy, supportive shoes like sneakers .

The outdoor shopping mall

I often spend my Black Friday at an outdoor shopping mall. For those of you braving the chill of an outdoor mall, you'll have to dress for both a cold night/morning and the warm interiors of bustling stores. You're also going to want to do the cami  + hoodie combo for the same reasons above but add a coat to it for warmth. Sure, it adds weight to your ensemble, but when waiting in line to get into a store, you're going to want that added insulation to your core and arms. Depending on weather that night, you may also want to add a scarf , gloves to your ensemble. It's totally your call depending on weather that night. I usually opt for the better safe than sorry school of thought-- whatever you don't need you can dump back in the car on one of your unloading trips to the car or just stow away in your purse. Next, have some thin leggings for warmth and skinny jeans . Some people prefer sweats, but I often find it hard to shop with sweats on since I can't tell what tops really look like on me without skinny jeans. The leggings help in case you try on skirts or dresses outside dressing rooms. It's a little added insurance that you won't flash anyone even if someone jostles you. Next, be sure to wear some good, supportive socks and either sneakers or boots depending on how cold it is out.

Hopefully you've been following along my Black Friday series. If not, check out step one: The 3 Essential Shopping Lists, and step 2: The Game Plan before getting your outfit together.

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Timeline for Internship Hunting

Timing, they say, is everything. Being in the right place at the right time can make your career, so my philosophy is to   the right place, get there early, and wait around until the right time. Preparation is key—since a lot of people aren’t thinking year-round about getting ready to land a summer job, I’ve devised a chronological guide for securing a summer internship.

Read more at Wicked Smart
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Black Friday Prep - The Game Plan

This is it. This is the game plan. If you haven't made those three essential lists, stop and do that now. Without it you won't be able to make a good plan.

Consider that places you want to go.
Look at the things on the list and try to think about the stores you need to hit and their geographical proximity. Write them on a piece of paper, clustered roughly by geographic location (you don't have to be a cartographer). Hopefully you'll notice a few hot spots with many of the stores you want to hit. Personally, I usually put the Outlet mall at the top of my list because it will have most of the stores I plan to hit, all in one location, plus the prices are even lower than at a regular mall. There's also a shopping center near my area with both a Target and a Walmart, so that's another important spot for me. Prioritize these stores-- there's only so much shopping you can do in one night, and with turkey, gravy, and the stress of politely answering your judgy relatives' questions slowing you down, you need to be realistic to optimize the night.

Look-up the hours and sales.
Some places will open at 4am on Friday, others will open at 6pm on Thanksgiving, and there will be different "power hours" and "doorbuster deals" for different stores. Look at your hotspots map, and then write out your top priority times to be at each. Now you can figure out a timeline for yourself. Accept the fact that you might not be able to hit each and every power hour. Consider travel time and shopping time. 30 minutes from one store to the next within a single shopping mall is feasible, but it certainly isn't if you have to drive to another location. Be sure to account for parking time. It is at least 5 times what you expect it to be if you're going to a popular location like a mall or a Best Buy.

Case the locations.
You should know the insides of most of your stores. No wandering around and getting trampled for you! Know there the sweaters are. Know where to find the jeans, the DVDs, whatever you have on your list. Take stock of where the sale items are usually displayed, where the changing rooms are, and the flow of the check-out lines. This information will save you time and hassle. If they (heaven forbid) run out of the item you're looking for, you won't spend hours looking for it.

This is when you go into a store, try everything on, make note of it, and walk out with nothing, only to buy it when the prices plunge. Many stores will get new merchandise for Black Friday, but this is a good idea if you're not totally sure how sizes run. Old Navy, for example, is always on my list of stores to hit, and I always buy jeans from them. I try on the jeans ahead of time and take note of the cut and size so that I don't have to wait in line for a changing room on Black Friday.

There it is. Now you have your game plan!

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Black Friday Prep - The 3 Shopping Lists

I'm a serious Black Friday shopper. None of this getting trampled at Best Buy nonsense. I go in with plans. I have strategies. My family and I are so serious about it, we build our Thanksgiving schedule around it. Right now it's just stage one of my planning for this year's Black Friday-- and accompanying Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. The most important part of the early stages is the lists. There are three essential lists that all other shopping plans are made off of:

The Holiday/Christmas Shopping List
This is pretty straight forward. I write out a list of people I plan on giving gifts to. I usually tier it out based on rough budget ideas. I am going to spend more on my sister than I would a distant cousin, for example. It may sound awful to place your friends and acquaintances on tiers, but in general it really helps me budget things out better and set realistic expectations for how much money I plan to spend on someone before I step into a store. Don't think of it as a hierarchy, and instead picture it as circles, with the most distant circle being your Christmas Card list.

Things I Need List
This is a specific listing of the stuff I need to get. I usually put numbers of either how much of something I need (ex. 3 new pairs of jeans) or a max budget ($30 of scarves). Having this list helps me make sure I lock down all the essentials for the coming year!

The Price is Right List
This third list I make usually comes after I've got the first two down. This list is made of wants that I'd consider buying if the price got low enough. Usually this is large purchases or fun things-- example: a new camera, a nice dress, a cashmere sweater. For the Price is Right wishlist, I always have a $ figure in mind for the max I'd pay for the item. It's also important to know what it is you're shopping for. For example, if you're looking at a TV, be sure on the specs you want- size, brand, type of display. No point in paying for something that's not exactly what you wanted. It's also good to have an idea of where you're planning on hunting for said item. For a camera, I'd search Amazon on Cyber Monday. For a sweater, I'd search the outlets (I always go on Black Friday) and see if there were any nice ones at J. Crew or Banana Republic.

Part one of your Black Friday planning is now complete!

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Halloweekend To Do List

Happy Halloweekend! Here are 10 things you should do this weekend:
  1. Hit a few parties. Midweek Halloween means that the party continues through early November!
  2. Snag that heavily discounted candy. Pumpkins on the packaging don't make the goodies any less tasty after October 31st. Remember that too much of a good thing is a bad thing-- but a bad thing at 75% off is negligible, right? 
  3. Write your Christmas shopping list. Better sooner than later. Same with your christmas card list!
  4. Get serious about honing your resume. Internship applications typically start going up in the winter!
  5. Applying for college? I hope your essays are nearing their final stages!
  6. Do your homework! 
  7. Call home and figure out what the Thanksgiving situation looks like.
  8. Bust out your sweaters.
  9. Put away the Halloween decor.
  10. Figure out your final exam schedule.

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Halloween Poetry

Whatever you decide to wear this Halloween, do it for you-- not for your friends, not for boys, not for girls, not for societal approval. It's your choice. And if anyone tells you otherwise, you can go ahead and show them that you can be a monster.

Happy Halloween.
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Coffee and Cupcakes - Our Ritual

My friends and I have a relaxation/bonding ritual. Every so often, we do Coffee and Cupcakes. We had just escaped the valley of death known as midterms hell week, and escaped to the oasis that is a four-day weekend. Coffee and Cupcakes is actually coffee and cupcakes and magazines and deep chats.

First order of business was to hit the cupcake shop, Extraordinary Cupcakes.

This cupcakery has a strong following among William and Mary students. Not only is it delicious, but it's within walking distance from campus. Sometimes, we decide to stay a little closer to where we live and cut the cupcakes out of our ritual and opt for coffee at our local Bookstore. After a harrowing week of papers and exams, though, we knew we deserved cupcakes.

Look at that peacock with his come-hither eyes in front of the ferris wheel of cupcakes. Yes, it rotates. I think he's there to hypnotize people.

My favorite is the Red Velvet. That's the cupcake they really nailed! I'm not a fan of super sweet cupcakes, so the cream cheese frosting really makes it. They have a lot of other great flavors, too.

My best friend Jasmin is one of my favorite people to take pictures of!

We actually don't get coffee from the cupcake place. There is a Books-A-Million the next shopping center over with a Joe Muggs coffee inside.

We take our cupcakes, order coffees, and grab some magazines. It's usually wedding magazines, not that any of us are dating anyone currently. It's just the most interesting thing that also doesn't make us feel like we're wanting. Fashion magazines kind of make us feel like we need more stuff. Fitness magazines make us feel really guilty-- you can't look through those things while eating a massive cupcake and downing a flavored coffee drink.

Sorry, thighs. This was not a battle you could win.
The fact that wedding stuff is far off means we can talk about it without feeling any kind of pressure. It's also a really good starting point for funny stories because it combines topics of family, friends, relationships, and our general hopes for the future. We're all from very different backgrounds so the discussions are really great. We happened to get on the topic of tattoos-- turns out there are a lot of great family tattoo stories in my circle. Who knew? As of yet, none of us have tattoos, but several of us are at varying degrees of consideration.

This is our ritual. It's probably some of the best, non-sleep-deprived bonding we do. Do you have a relaxing ritual with your friends? Spa days? Manicures? Brunch? Sound off in a the comments!

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