Friday, December 25, 2015

An Ode to the Snow that Isn't: A Nail Look

Greetings Martians (greeting recommendation courtesy of my little sister),

I have a ritual of doing my nails every Friday morning. Considering the amount of housework I do (you're welcome everyone), no manicure has EVER actually lasted an entire week. But, I find Fridays to be the best day to do it because this gives me fresh nails for Friday prayer and whatever I am doing over the weekend.

This week, my manicure is inspired by the snow, or lack thereof. I'm used to going sledding during winter break with my sisters, but Wisconsin is incredibly snowless this season. The grass literally still thinks its summer outside. It is SO weird! So, this look is my ode to the snow that isn't. God willing, we'll get a glittering blanket of white in time for New Year's.

Get the Look:
I created this look by applying two coats of 'Already Famous' by Sephora OPI as the base color. I did the first coat on all of them, but for the second coat, I painted one nail at a time, pressing loose silver glitter on the bottom half of each nail while wet to create a "snowy" effect. To seal the loose glitter and add even more sparkle, I finished off by applying one coat of "Heavenly" by Revlon. Of course, you can replace these specific shades with whatever similar colors you have at home :)

Hope you enjoyed this nail look and have a great weekend!

xo Aneela

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

How to Have a Productive Day & Accomplish Goals

Do you feel a lack of focus or purpose in your daily activities? Do you have trouble finishing tasks throughout the day? Or maybe you just want to increase your efficiency?

Whatever your reasons for continuing to read this advice, it is important to first remember that we are humans, not robots. We all have days that are not as productive as we had hoped. Things happen that we do not have control over and sometimes we may be simply be un-inspired. It is also completely normal to go through times (especially in your early 20’s) when you haven’t quite figured it out yet. That’s what I am here to help with. 

It goes without saying that I haven’t figured it out yet either. For me, I believe it's a daily battle of what I want do vs. what I really need to do #thestruggleisreal. Moreover, that horrible pest called perfectionism does more harm than good. I’m still learning how to balance doing enough without giving up or overthinking because something isn't “good enough”. The information I am going to share with you here, are tips I have learned through trial and error. I am forever in the pursuit of having a better day, week, month, year, and ultimately life. I will try to share everything I have gathered as thoroughly as possible.

So, this advice is twofold. First, it is important to develop clear goals. That is the “having purpose and staying inspired” part of the equation. Secondly, one must create an implementable plan. Of course, nothing is going to just happen. You are not going to achieve your goals sitting in front of the Netflix simply because you wrote out your goals and plan. Stating the obvious? Perhaps. 

So, basically goal + plan + implementation of that plan = success. I should maybe have spent a little extra time making that equation sound more exciting, but this is what it boils down to. 

Priorities > To Do Lists: Long Term Planning
Don’t get me wrong, to do lists are a great tool. I like to use them for tasks like packing, preparing for an event, things that need to be done before going out of town, basically items that MUST ALL be completed in order for a specific short-term goal to be met. However, on a day-to-day basis I may have a wide array of tasks to complete that are not related to each other and that contribute to a larger long-term aspiration. This is where identifying priorities comes into the picture in order to ensure all necessary goals are met. There is a very easy way to do this. It will take some time on the back-end, but will hopefully save you more time and anxiety in the long run. 

Let’s break it down with a quick exercise…

Before you even think about planning for tomorrow, STOPPull out a sheet of paper and list out all the areas of your life. Break down your current lifestyle and future aspirations into separate categories.

I have included a hypothetical example of categories below. I probably could have combined manners into the religion category and added one for hobbies and work, but this is just a hypothetical I came up with. With these categories, less is definitely more. The more you can consolidate things into fewer categories, the easier it will be for you to manage the goals associated with them.

Now that you have your broad categories, in a notebook/planner/word doc (anything you can refer back to regularly), you want to use a page to list out your yearly goals for each category. For example, perhaps relating to education, you are trying to get into grad school. Obviously, this is not something that is going to happen overnight. It is going to take a carefully thought-out plan and DAILY implementation of that plan. Think back to that cheesy equation from earlier ;) So, your yearly plan could be as simple as "get into grad school". Moving on to monthly goals, start a new page and keeping with the education category, your monthly goals could be "finish 8 chapters of test prep, have three people edit personal statement, & meet with a professor to get letter of recommendation". These are specific measurable goals and will likely not be the same for every month in each category. Once you have established monthly goals, I personally would skip weekly and move on to daily. I tried doing weekly, but it got to be too much and felt unnecessary. For daily goals, simply figure out how much you need to accomplish per day to reach your monthly goals within 30 days. Again, do this for each category. 

And, finally! Let's move on to the first half of the post title, how to have a productive day!

Become a Sleep Legend
The ideal way to exist is to go to bed by 10 pm and wake up at 5 am EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Your body doesn't understand sleeping in on weekends or days off. It likes consistency. It is scientifically proven that this is the ideal sleep schedule. But, you don't have to take my word for it. Click here for a piece by the Daily Mail on why waking up at 5 am is the key to feeling happier. It may just convert a few of you to the dark side, pun intended ;)

Seize the Day
For daily progress, figure out how many productive hours you need to have each day in order to accomplish all of your tasks. Based on how many individual tasks you have for each category on your daily list, determine how much time you need to dedicate to each of those broad categories per day. Then, make that time to work for you.

For example, I have seven broad categories. I have them prioritized from most to least important and that is generally the order in which I get to work on them when I wake up in the morning. I aim for 12 productive hours each day. Studying could be allotted 6 hours, while cleaning could have only 2. Then, I break them into one hour intervals. I set the timer for one hour on my phone and get straight to work without distractions. Having the timer set makes me less likely to get distracted because I know this is the amount of time I have and I have to make it work hard for me. If I don't finish my tasks in the given 12 hours, I have to add more hour intervals, cutting into leisure hours. Sounds a bit grueling, but you can obviously take between hours. And, no one ever got anywhere worth going without putting in the effort. 

So, this is what I try maintain every day. Some day are better than others, but we are all just trying to make it, right? :)

Hopefully, there isn't anything I have forgotten to mention. If you have a method that works well for you, please share it below! I'm all ears! I hope at least one bit of information in this post helped you out. Now, get out there and conquer your goals! 

xo Aneela

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pantone Color(s) of the Year 2016

Last week while waiting at the dealership for an oil change, with eyes glazed over from the boring morning news segment on the television screen, I both hoped someone would change the channel and kicked myself for not bringing something to pass the time. 
Sometime between a story about an overweight cat and God knows what, the 2016 Pantone colors of the year were announced. This is the first time in Pantone's history that two colors have been chosen as "color of the year". Not that I am at all bothered about how many colors are chosen, but for curiosity's sake, I read a New York Times piece on how it is meant to be a political statement about movement toward gender equality and fluidity. If you're interested, you can read it here.

I thought it would be fun to create mood boards for both shades with shop-able items. Everything is linked below the boards, so click away to your heart's content. I had a blast making these. Totally took me back to all-nighters in the Adobe lab at college. Have a good one and stay inspired!

xo Aneela

Shop Items:

Accent Image Sources:
Pantone Rose Quartz Color Swatch // here
Peonies // here
NYE Party // here
Indian Formal Wear // James Thomas Long Photography

Shop Items:

Accent Image Sources:
Pantone Serenity Color Swatch // here
Architectural Shot // here
Flowers // here
Zuhair Murad Couture Gown // here

Monday, December 7, 2015

5 Skincare Products for Juicy Skin through Winter

Today, I'm going to take you back. Way back. To a dark, dark time...

Picture this.

The year is 1998. The Wisconsin winter is at its peak. The school bell has just rung signaling yet another 35 minute outdoor recess period. Kids are piling on every last piece of clothing they've brought from home to brave the weather outside.

Once outside, we realize we can't play any of our usual games because the courts are covered in snow and ice. The kickballs aren't bouncing on the poorly shoveled pavement and we are forbidden from touching the snow banks.

What kind of sick experiment is this anyway? Are they trying to see how long our tiny bodies can stand out here with nothing to do?

By the time my face starts to go numb, lips start chapping from the wind, and the skin between my fingers begins to re-crack (sorry for that mental image), I realize I still have to spend 30 more minutes out here. I'd rather be in math class...

Now, of course it wasn't all bad. Some days, would be less windy and on others, the administration would have mercy on us and give us an indoor recess instead. But to this day, the idea of dry lips and cracking/flaky winter skin takes me right back to those horrible snotty-nosed days out in the cold as a kid.

And as you've probably guessed by now, I will go to ANY LENGTH to not be reminded of those days and the state of my skin at the time.

So today, I'm going to share with you some of the products I use in the winter time to keep my skin full of moisture, balmy, and plump. I have been using some combination of these products every single day (even though it's not that cold out yet) and I have to say they keep any flakiness, dry patches, or cracking at bay.

Also, these are not random purchases. They are favorites that I replenish when I run out, so I stand behind every word I say about them.

Lou Ana 100% Pure Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is truly a godsend. It can be used as a gentle makeup remover, moisturizer for face and body, overnight hair treatment, pretty much anything. It's inexpensive too and lasts FOREVER. 

Queen Helene Olive Oil Masque: I knew right off the bat that this is a great product. I mean, if they're fancily spelling it 'masque' instead of 'mask', they must mean business! But all jokes aside, this product makes the skin so incredibly plump and bouncy. It's gentle enough to use daily because it's literally just a heavy duty moisturizer. It doesn't leave the skin with that post-facial tight feeling. I really don't like that feeling in the winter time. 

Sephora Facial Cleansing Brush: With all of these moisturizing products, it's vital to remove the flakiness and dead skin cells that the products are working on. I like to use this simple travel-friendly cleansing brush. Yeah, it's not the Clarisonic, but in my opinion, it gets the job done perfectly. I like to use it to remove the olive oil masque because that mask is so creamy that it requires some major effort to clean up! After I've used the masque and gently removed it with this brush, my skin feels as if it has never seen a better day.

Cetaphil Daily Advance Lotion: This is a good moisturizer in that it is moisturizing enough to keep the skin feeling comfortable all day, but not "grease-ball level" moisturizing. It doesn't have any added fragrances, so it's great for sensitive skin, Side note: I have extremely sensitive skin and all of these products are such that they don't make me puffy or red. And, it's pretty hard for me to find things that don't irritate my skin. So, these are definitely all holy grail. 

Loreal Paris Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Golden Balm: Phew, that was a mouthful. This is an eye cream that I use in the morning under my foundation and at night and it has changed the game! It is so rich that I can literally feel my skin drinking its moisture. I can't speak for everyone because I don't have hereditary dark circles or discoloration, but I do get dark circles when I am not sleeping enough and while traveling. Since I have started using this cream, my circles have completely disappeared. Maybe, they go away when they have enough moisture in them? I don't really know the science behind it, but I haven't owned a concealer in months and I don't plan on buying one again. Victory is mine! Cue the evil laugh...muahahahaha

What are your skincare essentials that get you through the winter? Share them below :)

xo Aneela