Archive | April, 2010

Weekend Links – 4.30.2010

30 Apr


Happy Friday Everyone! I hope you had a spectacular week, and to all of my fellow Panthers and everyone else who has been on their finals week grind, HAPPY END OF FINALS! (Or almost end, depending on who you are)

Here is some weekend reading to start your Friday afternoon off right:

◊ Have you ever wondered the relative scale of the many interesting characters in the Pixar universe? You haven’t? Well, it’s an interesting thing to look at anyway. View it here, courtesy of Gawker.

◊ Here is an interesting photographic journey through Shinjuku Station in Japan. It kind of reminds me of a small-scale Times Square to be honest. I am absolutely in love vibrant, colorful cities, so I would definitely want to visit.

◊ Speaking of colorful, here is a feature on “the most colorful tree on Earth” via an email from my boyfriend. Seriously though, this thing is amazing.

◊ I don’t know how relevant this is to anyone else but…Winston the Cat has a Twitter!! If you follow Winston’s cat antics on FourFour (here is a handy-dandy link if you want to view his awesome weirdness first hand)

◊ While this isn’t about fashion and photography, it is still extremely important: 50 Top Personal Finance Blogs for College Students. Being Young, Broke and Fabulous can only take you so far.

◊ Are you looking to experiment with color? I was – and still am. On the Style and Beauty Doctor, here’s a primer on how to use the color wheel to make dynamic color combinations in your wardrobe – and in other areas of your life as well.

◊ On Positively Present, a primer on how to make positive life choices. (Wow, that was a lot of p’s.)

◊ This is a great question that I think is worth giving a good amount of thought: Are you just breathing  a little and calling it a life? Or are you truly living?

On the ride down I replayed the classic “time/money/no object” game in my head. You know, the one where you ask: “If time and money were no object, what would I do today?”

◊ On the Flickr blog, they have a beautiful collection of cherry blossoms in bloom.

◊ I am an aspiring jetsetter – in fact, I am going to Tanzania in a couple of months ahhh! – but here is a primer if you are interested in planning an exhaustive world tour. This is definitely on my bucket list, so I’m reading this intently.

◊ Here’s another DIY project for you, courtesy of Design*Sponge! Here’s how to make those upside-down planters from things you may already have at home! Cute AND green!

◊ Grace Jones. The Interview. I plan to have a detailed post about this (next week, actually) but for now, sit back and bask. Just bask.

Have a fabulous weekend everybody!

Until next time,



ps – What are you up to this weekend? Let me know in the comments.


How To Survive Finals Week Part 2!

29 Apr

Surprise! Okay, not really. Because of the fact that I missed a bunch of posts last week, here’s an extra post! Hooray!

In my last finals week post, I addressed what you can do (outside of studying) to help you get through your finals relatively unscathed. But what about when you are studying? What then? Well read on:

How to Survive Finals Week: Part 2


Get some sleep. This is one of the most important things I can say, so it comes first. You can study hard into the night, but if you are running to that test on three hours of sleep, it might feel like you haven’t studied at all. One thing I’ve come to realize is that an extra half hour of sleep means more to my success than an extra half hour of studying – especially if my eyes are drooping and I can hardly pay attention to the words on the page. If you feel like your productivity has taken a nosedive, go to bed instead.

Plan, plan, plan! It might seem overwhelming when you have four or five finals – and this might not even include final papers – in the same week. The most effective thing to do is to make a plan of attack! Schedule your time effectively, and space out your study time – that way you aren’t forced to cram last-minute as you freak about all the vocabulary and equations you have to memorize. Start early and plan accordingly depending on when your exams are scheduled as well as how much prep time you think you’ll need.

Find a Productive Space. This usually means eliminating distractions in your study area. For me personally, it can be very difficult to study in my dorm room – it tends to get cluttered in high-stress times, plus it is full of distractions like my television and laptop.  If this sounds like you, relocate to the nearest library, lounge, coffee shop, etc. and get your study on in peace. Sometimes these places can get really crowded during peak study time (aka Finals Week), so come early and stake your claim on some prime studying real estate before everyone else does.

Study in a Group. Studying in a group can be quite productive – if you let it. When you’re studying with classmates, it gives you the chance to run questions by your peers that they could help you with – saves you the time of going to office hours. It also gives you the opportunity to hash out the concepts out loud, which is a really basic, effective way to test your own comprehension of the material.

Re-do your notes. This might seem crazy, but bear with me! This works well when your professor hands you a list of “terms to know” for your exam. If not, it shouldn’t be hard to make your own, depending on the material. One of the most effective study tactics I use is taking these lists and defining the terms in my own words, without the help of my notes. While something can make sense in the pages of your textbook, asking yourself to recall it without aid is a completely different story. It will quickly let you know what you do – and do not – have a grasp on. When you’re done, check your answers and put a star next to the terms you were unable to explain accurately. Then, give yourself a refresher.

Read over your work in the morning! This relates to papers. I cannot stress this enough. Have you ever had one of those moments where you’re plugging away at a paper until finally, the light bulb above your head illuminates? Suddenly, you’re typing ferociously, your late-night epiphany giving you the motivation to finish. While it certainly feels awesome, often times these four a.m. caffeine-fueled “epiphanies” aren’t as genius when your professor is trying to make sense of your words. Set aside some time to reread your work – out loud, so you can properly hear how it sounds – and make changes if necessary. If you can, schedule time with a peer editor; their job is to spot the nagging errors people tend to miss in their own work.

STUDY! Of course. None of these will work if you don’t actually sit down and get your work done. Know thyself, and whatever makes you most productive and efficient, do it! Dress the proper way. (I can’t work unless I’m wearing a proper pair of pants, for example. Weird, but true.) Play the right music. Pick the right study spot. And work! Don’t put it off until the last-minute, because you might spend some of that precious time agonizing about what little time you have left.

Good luck on finals, everybody!



Do you have any study tactics to add? Let me know in the comments.

How to Survive Finals Week!

28 Apr


I don’t know about you, but here at the University of Pittsburgh, we are in the midst of Finals Week (Also known as F***, I Never Actually Learned S*** Week). With all the papers and exams you have to look forward to (or are currently completing), here is a primer on how to make it through finals week alive!

Get some exercise! Take a break in the midst of your studies by going on a quick jog, doing some yoga or even release the tension with some kickboxing! Often times campuses offer exercise programs during finals as a means for stress relief, so make sure to check some out. If you want fitness ideas you can try yourself, look at Fit Sugar, which has a ton of free workout regimens and tips.

Drink Water This is nature’s all-natural, all-purpose Gatorade! It can keep you hydrated and refreshed – something you need when hitting the books. Also, it’s (obviously) sugar-free, so you don’t have to worry about the health concerns like there are in drinks like soda. Using a cute, reusable water bottle can do wonders in making you want to drink water.  I use a Vapur water bottle (in purple, of course). Are you not a big water drinker? Try adding a splash of lemon or lime. 

Get outdoors. It is spring, so chances are, the weather is pretty nice! Take a break outside and soak in the sunshine to get the valuable vitamin D boost your body needs. If you want to go the extra mile, why don’t you pack up your books and study outside?

Don’t forget fruits and vegetables! You’re going to need your health more now than ever while you pull those all-night study sessions. Keep your body ready by eating well. You don’t need to have a fancy salad necessarily – keep yourself prepared by having bite sized vegetables and fruits in your fridge so you’re always ready for a healthy snack.

Get yourself a hobby. Are you an avid chess player? Painter? Photographer? Dancer? Video gamer? Runner? Indulge yourself in your hobbies in between study sessions. They can do wonders for stress.

Pump yourself up! Take the time to re-affirm yourself. You’re brilliant and talented – so what’s stopping you from laying waste to these finals? Rather than reminding yourself how much ground you have left to cover and how completely screwed you are, make sure you remember that you have the ability to do great on your exams.

Get Lost in the Music. Listening to your favorite music and dancing can keep you happy. If you want to study harder, turn on instrumentals that allow you to have pleasant background noise without focusing on vocals, like Classical or Jazz. 

Put Out…that Cigarette. While I want to feel clever, that saying is actually from a t-shirt I got from the Panther Well program here at Pitt. While you think that cigarette is relieving stress, it’s actually doing the opposite. Studies have found that minutes after smoking stress level rises and creates greater depression. Want to learn more about why you may want to consider quitting? Check here.

Write out your thoughts. I don’t know about you, but for me, writing is a very therapeutic experience. When your thoughts are a messy jumble, sometimes it can help to get them on paper so they make a lot more sense. I have a notebook specifically reserved for my bad days – that way, I can write my dark thoughts and easily close the book on them – that way, once I have gotten them off of my chest, I don’t have to deal with them again if I don’t want to.

Clean Your Room! A long time ago, I heard the idea that the state of your room can often show the state of your mind. After giving it some thought, I realized, in a way, that it was true. You can tell when I am going through times of stress when you look at my room and see piles of clothes in my chair, an unmade bed and shoes all over the floor. Cleaning up your room can make thinking and working that much easier – and you won’t have the stress of looking for things! Plus, you’d be surprised how much cleaning you can do in a short amount of time.

Chill out. Sometimes, you just need a break. Turn off your computer, close your books, dim your lights, and take a few minutes to yourself. Maybe you’d prefer to meditate, maybe music will help you zone out, or maybe you need a nice, long shower with your favorite gel. Whatever it takes, give yourself time to breathe and relax.

I hope this helps! Good luck on finals everybody, and I’ll see you with my Weekend Links on Friday!


ps – What are your strategies for surviving Finals Week? Let me know in the comments.

Music Monday – Cibo Matto

26 Apr

Okay, let me start this with an explanation. I’m really sorry about not posting this past week – the evil entity known as finals overtook me. While it is currently my official Finals Week, I have gotten through the prep work and the end of the semester drudgery that typically happens during the week and I plan to post this entire week without incident.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming!

Cibo Matto, which means “Crazy Food” in Italian (and many of their songs, like Sci-Fi Wasabi, Birthday Cake and Know Your Chicken mention food explicitly), was a relatively little-known band formed by two Japanese women who settled in New York. Critics have described Cibo Matto as a combination of “Jazz, Hip-Hop, Brazilian music, African Drumming, Japanese Rock, Disco samples, and the cheap, under-funded, un-talented but, nevertheless, creative and genius of the spirit of the underbelly of the city.”

Cibo Matto was led by instrumentalist Yuka Honda and vocalist Miho Hatori, and were eventually joined by Sean Lennon (yes…John’s son), Timo Ellis and Duma Love.

Can I say that this is one of my favorite songs EVER? The soothing trance-like rhythm has always appealed to me in this song – in fact, it is the ringtone for my cellphone’s alarm. I prefer the soothing vocals of Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori to the annoying default alarm anyway; it makes me look forward to my wake-up call instead of dreading it. Plus I love the effect of the video – one side is moving backwards while the other moves forward, leading them to meet in the middle.

To be completely honest, that era in Cibo Matto’s discography is more “normal” (or as normal as they can manage). Here’s another great song by them, “Know Your Chicken”, which comes from their first album, Viva! La Woman:

A commenter on Youtube summarized the song thusly:

It’s a story about a guy buying a pair of baby chicks (one is magenta and one is blue). The blue one runs away, but he keeps the magenta one, which grows up, but always bites him. He gets a girlfriend, but his chicken disappears. His girlfriend cooks him dinner one night, and he wonders where she got the chicken to make it. Then later on he and his girlfriend have a pair of baby twins, and one is magenta and the other is blue.

Now if that isn’t delightfully cracktastic, I don’t know what is! I fully admit that Cibo Matto isn’t for everyone, and they are definitely an acquired taste. They tend to have a strange sound (especially on their first album) but I find that they have a unique, distinctive sound and lyrical style that you didn’t hear as much then. (Or now, even)

I’m not sure when I got into Cibo Matto, but I strongly believe it was hearing their song Birthday Cake for the first time on the Jet Set Radio Future soundtrack and being completely weirded out. A bit of warning, while Know Your Chicken is kind of weird, Birthday Cake is just…odd. It was grating the first time I listened and I had no idea what to do with it. It took a look of growing for me to get used to it, but it was over after that and I was a huge fan, although I will admit that it is a strange song and probably better listened to in context, as you play Jet Set Radio Future.

I would mention what their upcoming projects are, but unfortunately, Cibo Matto disbanded in 2001. According to Honda:

Cibo Matto broke up, because it was time. We felt the need to move to the next step. It was a healthy decision, though it was sad at the same time. Things just need to grow out of things sometimes.

All of the members have gone on to do solo material, although from time to time they have collaborated with one another. You can buy their two albums Viva! La Woman and Stereo ★ Type A (one of my favorite albums, highly recommended) on Amazon (or wherever else you buy music) or if you want, just purchase their Greatest Hits collection!

Until next time,



What are you listening to this Monday? Let me know in the comments.

Slowed Down Sunday – 4/18/2010

18 Apr

Happy Sunday everyone!! It’s time to share what I’m thankful for this week! This is going to be really short because I have two essays to finish, so here we go:

Cultural Festivities – The Brazilian festival on Friday, the Filipino festival yesterday, and Vietnamese and Eastern European festivities coming up later this week? Count me in! Plus, as a college student, nothing – and i mean nothing – beats free food.

Two More Weeks – Summer vacation is almost here! Thanks to Pitt’s criminally short winter break, our summers are gloriously early. Now all I have to do is get through a barrage of finals and packing (the worst part) and I’m all set!

♥PLAYOFFS!! – I am a pretty huge sports person and we are currently in playoff season for both the NBA and the NHL. The only thing missing is the NFL, but that will be coming back soon enough.

Miscellaneous: Swimsuit shopping; improving my sit-up score by twenty-five (!); dressing up for banquets; the library before it is swamped by the finals rush; my boyfriend when he’s barely awake; Vapur water bottles (Thanks to Nuri for pointing it out!) – they’re all sold out on their official site but they are available on Amazon; Santigold; water with fresh strawberries in it; magazine subscriptions; We Heart It (I’m xoxotara on there!); tofu pad thai

What are you thankful for this weekend? Post your lists here!



Weekend Links – 4/16/2010

16 Apr

Hello Kitty Chainsaw

source (a little NSFW)

Isn’t that picture awesome?? Anyway, Happy Friday everyone, even though it’s a little gray and rainy here in Pittsburgh. Here are some links to spice up your reading (or use up some time if you’re spending the evening on the job, like me)

◊Spring is upon us! On College Fashion, there is a helpful guide on how to spring clean your closet! Pro-tip: trade in your unused clothes at your local thrift store and use the credit to buy new ones. It is cost-effective, eco-friendly AND a way to get unique pieces.

◊Perfect for spring, here’s a rose-scented body lotion you can make yourself. I think I’ve found my first summer project…

◊As a broke college student, this is incredibly useful to me: The 10 Cheapest, Healthiest Foods Money Can Buy.

Coily Beauties on Diasporique. Natural hair is so lovely…

◊Excuse me for the cliché, but “GIRL POWER!” Four women astronauts orbited Earth. Get it, ladies.

◊This is just some foolishness I enjoy indulging…”Celebrity Body Parts on Twitter”. I won’t lie, I definitely follow Brandy’s lace-front wig.r/

It was bound to happen in this age of TMZ and social networking sites, fans (and haters) have taken to Twitter and created accounts that poke fun at celebrities as if their body parts, belongings and even careers were doing the trash-talking.

One thing is for sure, these celeb-related Twitter accounts are usually salacious, scathing and pretty funny. One example is the page dedicated to Whitney Houston’s crack pipe, where the piece of drug paraphernalia declares that it and Houston still see each other quite frequently. These crazy timelines have even blossomed into a niche community — like 50 Cent’s Arm, LeBronsHairLine or Aliciakeyszit — where the celeb-inspired pages have pseudo-beefs (e.g. Drake’s Knee versus Drake’s Hairline).


This is an interesting set of pictures. For all the sugar we ingest (well, not as much today with High Fructose Corn Syrup, but still), how much do we know about the people that produce it?

45 Astonishing Long Exposure Photos – and they’re absolutely beautiful.

◊Two words: Rainbow. Pancakes.

Amy Atlas Table Decorsource

◊Another amazing set of photos from the Flickr blog, featuring street performers.

◊I love Rachel Zoe’s style and the way she dresses her clients. Here’s her guide to shopping vintage, which, like thrifting, is a way to get new clothes while also recycling old ones!

◊On the Positivity Blog, “10 Habits That Make My Life Simpler”. While I wouldn’t be able to do these things (“Get rid of my RSS reader? Blasphemy!), he makes some interesting points.

◊Just what this link says, “Mermaids & Spring Mix” – A lovely that I catch on one of those obscure movie channels when it’s on, plus a nice set of music to set the tone for your springtime frolics!

◊Hmm – these Norwex Antibacterial Face Cloths look intriguing. M aybe I should look into them?

◊Is the Glacier National Park running out of glaciers?

Have a lovely weekend everybody!



What Can Be Learned from Josephine Baker

15 Apr

Josephine Baker

How do you start an article about the inimitable Josephine Baker? She is one of my true idols and a true inspiration – and I think she could inspire you, too. While it is nearly impossible to encapsulate her fabulous persona into a short blog post, here are some bits of inspiration from the life of La Baker.

  • Her achievements are vast: She is the first African-American to start in a major motion picture, the first to integrate an American concert hall and the first to become a world-famous entertainer. Not only that, but she is a noted contributor to the American Civil Rights Movement, as well as an assistant to the French Resistance during World War II. Talk about multi-faceted.
  • Baker was so popular with the French that even the Nazis were reluctant to cause her harm while they occupied France during World War II. In turn, she became an “honorable correspondent” for the French military, passing along secrets as she rubbed shoulders with the likes of Japanese officials and Italian bureaucrats. She sometimes smuggled secret messages written in invisible ink on her sheet music.
  • She protested in her own way against racism. She refused to play to segregated music halls, prompting integration for her sake. She also adopted twelve orphans (Angelina, eat your heart out!) from various countries around the world
Simply put, Josephine Baker means a lot to me. I first heard of her when reading the book Beautylicious by Jenyne M. Raines. After hearing extravagant stories about what a fascinating woman Ms. Baker was, I had to learn more about her myself. And learn I did.

As a young black woman, to me, she redefines what it is to be a black beauty in an early era where faces like mine were notably missing. She partially embodies one of my favorite eras of history, the Harlem Renaissance. Generations ahead of the curve, she learned to do what she wanted, when she wanted, and became an international icon in the process. The woman was fearless, fantastic. Who else would stroll down the Champs-Élysées, fabulous from the clothes on her back to the diamond collar that adorned the neck of her pet cheetah (yes, cheetah), Chiquita? Her influence and legacy continues to be seen in many of the other women I view as personal inspirations – from Eartha Kitt, to Diana Ross, to Beyonce Knowles.

One of the most amazing facets of Josephine Baker is just that – she is a unique, multi-faceted woman. Not only is she a style icon, but she was a groundbreaking performer, a civil rights pioneer and a dutiful global citizen.

ps – My deepest apologies for this late post.