A Small Fall Haul

a small fall hail

The chillier temperatures, changing leaves, and cloudy skies can only mean one thing: it’s fall! I apologize for my absence last month. In the midst of starting my second year of college, moving into a new apartment, and starting a new job, I have been taking some time to figure myself out. But I’m back today to share a few fall-inspired items I purchased recently!

ModCloth Harvest Fest Coat in Vermillion

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Product listing here. And if you are a college student I recommend taking advantage of the 10% Modcloth Student Discount!

This coat was more expensive than I would have liked, but I am so glad I purchased it. Complete with a warm, reddish-orange color, cute toggles, big pockets, and a faux fur-trimmed hood, this is the perfect fall coat. And to seal the deal, it’s non-wool! The proportions are perfect: the sleeves are long enough to cover my half of my hands, and the medium length of the coat is extremely flattering. My only complaint is that the faux fur trim flops over my eyes when I put the hood up, and it cannot be removed. But overall, I could not adore this coat more and can’t wait to wear it all season!

Bath and Body Works Leaves Candle

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Product listing here.

I have heard many people rave about this candle, and after browsing the Bath and Body Works website and reading loads of positive reviews, I decided to give it a try. I love this candle’s pretty leaf-patterned bronze lid, and it has a lovely scent to match. Even when it’s not lit, this candle fills the room with a festive combination of autumn wreaths, cider, spices, and berries. I imagine this scent will be perfect for Thanksgiving time.

Bath and Body Works Pumpkin Pie Candle

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Product listing here.

Candles were 2 for $24 at Bath and Body Works, so naturally, I had to purchase a second one…And of course, what would a fall haul be without a pumpkin scented candle? I picked this one because I thought the picture on the jar was adorable, and who doesn’t want their home to smell like a scrumptious pumpkin pie is in the oven? I love this candle’s a warm, sweet, vanilla scent. My only complaint is that I wish the pumpkin and spice undertones were a bit stronger.

Bath and Body Works Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Foaming Hand Soap

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Product listing here.

Since fall is the season of pumpkin-flavored everything, I have to complete my fall haul with one last pumpkin scented item: hand soap! This scent is described as “warm pumpkin, fresh cinnamon stick, & sweet sugarcane,” but to be honest, I don’t think it smells like pumpkin at all. To me, it smells sweet and slightly fruity with a hint of spice, but the soap does the job!

That is my short and sweet fall haul! I hope you are enjoying the autumn season. If you have picked up some fall-inspired goodies lately, I would love to see your hauls too! ūüôā

Best,

Leila

10 Tips to Shop Smarter

10 tips to shop smarter

I love shopping as much as the next girl, but I will be the first to admit that nothing good comes out of a mindless shopping spree. There are a ton of cute clothes out there, but a jumble of adorable pieces does not make for a functional closet. Below are 10 tips to help you get the most out of your shopping trips.

1. Decide What You Need

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Just browsing can be fun, but if you want to make it a productive shopping trip, it is best to go with a plan. Figure out what you need.  Is your closet missing sweaters or a coat for the upcoming fall season? A top to match the skirt you picked up last time? Shopping with a purpose will help make your shopping trip a productive one.

2. Go Pre-Shopping

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Pinterest is a great place to see what’s trending and get style inspiration

Before heading out,¬† browse the online stores to give yourself an idea of what to look out for. For even more outfit inspiration, visit fashion sources such as Teen Vogue (still useful even if you’re not a teen!) and Pinterest. Getting up to date on the season’s upcoming trends is a great way to give your shopping trip direction and inspiration.

3. Budget Your Trip

Before going shopping, check your bank account and decide upon a rough budget for the trip. This will encourage you to make more thoughtful purchases instead of buying first cute item you find. Also, don’t forget to check for any good sales going on, and whether you have any coupons to use.

4. Shop Alone

Going shopping with friends is a lot of fun, but if you want to get the most out of your shopping trip, it is best to go solo. When shopping with others, you may tend to take less time to think through your purchases, view fewer options, or buy what everyone else is buying. Shopping at your own pace allows you the freedom to accomplish what you need to.

5. Leave Your Options Open

If you come across something you are thinking about purchasing, don’t be afraid to leave it and come back later. This gives you the opportunity to think through whether the purchase is truly necessary and allows for the possibility of finding something else you like better.

6. Staple Pieces vs. Statement Pieces

The bright daisy print dress is a statement piece and the nude sweater and brown belt are staple pieces.

Statement pieces, such as stunning patterned dresses and floral blouses, are most tempting when browsing a store. But staple pieces, such as basic tees, tanks, and cardigans, will get the most wear. Staple pieces can be worn together, but statement pieces typically need to be paired with neutral-toned staples. Maintaining a balance of staple pieces and statement pieces is the key to avoiding having a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear.

7. Try It On

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And sometimes a dressing room mirror selfie is completely necessary!

For the life of me, I don’t understand why people buy clothes without trying them on first! Sometimes a piece that looks really cute on the mannequin turns out to be disappointingly lackluster after trying it on. In the fitting room, move around, check out the back, lift your arms/legs, and really get a feel for whether you could live in the piece. Don’t be afraid to try on multiple sizes!

8. Ask Yourself…

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While examining a piece in the dressing room, ask yourself a series of questions: Am I prepared to care for it as recommended on the label? How often will I wear this? How would I style this piece with the clothes I already have? Would I feel comfortable wearing this all day? Do I have something like this already? Answering these questions will help you choose the pieces that will contribute most to your closet

9. Know What You’re Buying

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This is the only reason why an animal should be in your closet!

Every time we make a purchase, we are voting with our dollars. It is important to know what we’re voting for. I avoid purchasing animal materials such as leather, fur, wool, and down because I cannot truly know how these animals were treated. Even animals at “humane” facilities are often subjected to cruel treatment and are ultimately slaughtered. I also try to inform myself about a company’s treatment of their workers to avoid supporting companies that do not treat them fairly.

10. Hang On To Receipts

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The fridge is a great place to keep new receipts!

In case you change your mind about a piece or notice any defects, keep the receipts in a safe place until you are completely sure that you love your new finds. This takes a lot of the hassle out of making returns.

Those are my 10 tips for shopping smarter. I hope these tips help you make wiser purchases during your next shopping trip!

Best,

Leila

Emerging from your Old Skin

 take a chance

Sometimes, nature teaches you life lessons. Today, I found a cicada’s empty shell in my back yard. Since the outer skeleton does not grow with the insect, from time to time, it crawls out of its old skin and grows a new, stronger, and bigger one. The cicada emerges weak and vulnerable. But without looking back, it leaves its old shell behind and aspires to become something more. I started thinking about the empty skin and realized that it serves as a great metaphor for life.

Right now, I am on the precipice of adulthood. In a couple of weeks, I will be starting my sophomore year of college and moving into my first apartment. Finding a job and saving up for a car are at the front of my mind, as well as declaring my major and pursuing a career after graduation. Choosing your path in life is scary. It means letting go of the past and venturing into the dangerous and unknown future, even though it may not turn out the way you want it to.

But at times like these, I think we all could channel the courage of a cicada. We can’t remain complacent and comfortable in our old¬† skin. We must aspire to grow and move forward, even if it means taking a risk and leaving familiarity behind. That moment when you first emerge from your old skin, unsure of whether you will ever find your new beautiful armor, must be tough. But like the cicada, we need to have faith in who we are meant to be and keep flying.

Best,

Leila

How I Cleared My Skin

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Since I was 11 or 12, I have been struggling with acne. Even after going vegan over a year ago, my skin was still uncooperative as ever. But this summer, I have been taking measures to clear my skin and am finally seeing results. So in case you are also struggling with skin that has a mind of its own, below are the things I do to help clear my skin.

1. Keep my hair off my face. When you have what feels like a mountain range on your face, it can be tempting to hide it behind a curtain of hair. But after consistently pulling my hair back in a ponytail or half-up half-down do to keep my hair off of my cheeks and forehead, my breakouts began to calm down.

2. Change my pillowcase. I aim to change my pillowcase every other day (1 side of the pillow per night), and it has been making a world of difference! My acne heals much better overnight when I sleep on a clean pillowcase.

3. Sleep well. Going to bed early maximizes the healing sleep your body needs to repair itself. I tend to get into the habit of staying up late and waking up late, but I have found that my skin fares much better if I go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, even if I get the same amount of sleep.

4. Don’t touch it! I am always tempted to touch or pick at acne, especially when I am stressed or nervous. Messing with pimples only makes them worse. They heal much slower, can leave scars, and can spread to nearby skin. Keeping your hands off your face makes a big difference in lowering healing time and preventing future breakouts.

5. Go bare faced. My solution to breakouts has always been to slather on a bit of concealer and head on my way. However, even the lightest coverage makeup still does more harm than good for my skin. It can feel embarrassing to leave your imperfections out in the open, but after not wearing face makeup regularly for over two months, I found that the benefits far outweigh those first few weeks of insecurity.

6. Remove my makeup. But if you do wear makeup, make sure you remove it completely. I still have clogged pores near my eyes from not removing my eye makeup thoroughly. To prevent this, I go over my eyes and face with a makeup wipe after washing it to be sure I have cleaned away every last bit of makeup.

7. Avoid trying new products. A month ago, I tried out a new concealer and almost instantly got the hugest breakout. So if you are trying to clear your skin, it is best to avoid risking aggravating it with new products. But if you must try something new, go for something more natural or something that is formulated for sensitive skin.

8. Patience. When taking steps to clear your skin, it is important to stick with it even if you do not see results right away. Healing acne takes time. With persistence, your skin will improve.

My Skincare Routine

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I have very sensitive skin, so I find that less is more when trying to clear my acne. I wash my face every evening with Yes To Tomatoes face wash, which is very natural and gentle yet formulated to fight acne. Then, I moisturize dry patches using C.O. Bigelow Rosebud Salve. In the morning, I wash my face with only water and then moisturize.

Final Tip

Remember that having acne doesn’t make you less of a person. Don’t let it get you down or stop you from doing what you love. Make efforts to be the best you you can be, but also don’t fret over every imperfection. My skin still isn’t perfect, and I don’t expect it to ever be. We all just have to learn to love and nurture our skin as it is. ‚̧

skin you're in

Best,

Leila

What I Learned during my First Year Vegan

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Two days ago, I celebrated my 1 year vegan anniversary. It is a cliche, but it is hard to believe that a whole year has gone by already. However, reflecting upon where I started makes me realize how far I have come. So below are a few things I learned during my first year as a vegan.

You can’t be perfect.

During my first week vegan, I remember accidentally eating sauce that contained oyster extract. I felt so discouraged and upset with myself for letting it slip under the radar. Now I know that obsessing over the small stuff will simply burn you out. Your best is always the best you can do.

You can’t change the world all at once.

It is sad, and seems defeated to say, but because there is such a huge wall between consumers and where their food comes from, ignorance is something we must learn to live with it. There is not much you can do to stop a stranger at the grocery store from buying that jug of milk, and you would lose your mind if you got upset every time you saw someone eating meat. Simply put, you can’t change everyone. Striking a balance between understanding the cruel reality while at the same time working to make the world a better place is key to maintaining your strength to keep fighting.

Don’t be annoying.

I must confess that I went through a stage where I was an annoying vegan. I felt that if I didn’t speak up whenever I saw someone consuming animal products, I would be letting the animals down. But looking back, I was doing more harm than good. Criticizing your friends’ meal choices won’t make them want to go vegan. Who would respond favorably to someone who constantly picks on them?¬† By showing the world we are accepting and understanding, we can make being vegan much more inviting.

Living with non-vegan friends and family can be challenging.

Friends and family are the most difficult people to change. Talking to them about veganism can be awkward, and friends and family are more likely to take arguments and disagreements personally. For the sake of peace among comrades, I choose to simply avoid confrontation and tolerate their choices to consume animal products. In fact, not being judgmental makes friends and family more likely to show interest in talking to you about veganism.

Keep an open mind.

As a vegan with strongly-held ethical beliefs, it is easy to go into every conversation with my mind already made up. But I find it does more harm than good to come off as someone who is unwilling to listen and consider opposing viewpoints. How can we expect others to consider our message if we won’t consider theirs? Ask questions and listen to others, even if they disagree with you. You will find common ground if you listen to their side.

Stay positive!

Let’s be real: confronting some of the most twisted, terrible, and cruel sides of humanity can be a burden sometimes. But it is always important to stay positive. Being vegan is a joy. Our attitude and outlook on the world should reflect that. Smile. Be lighthearted. Watch happy animal videos. Take a time out to de-stress. Making the world a more positive place begins with you.

Here’s to the start of the second year of my vegan journey! I can’t wait to see where this year takes me.

Best,

Leila

Ghost Fishing: Merciless Killers Haunting Our Oceans

IMG_20150521_191135480_HDRThis is Nemo. Nemo nearly died today, but luckily I was in the right place at the right time and was able to save him.

This evening, I was enjoying a peaceful moment by a pond, when I noticed him struggling near the shore. Upon taking a closer look, I saw he was caught in plastic netting. I transferred him to a bowl, where I was able to closely examine him. A loop in the net was squeezing his body so tightly, it was digging into his flesh. Working carefully, I cut the loop trapping him. Finally free, he excitedly circled the bowl. I then waded into the pond and released him.

Nemo was a victim of ghost fishing. He survived, but thousands of other marine animals are not so lucky. Ghost fishing occurs when fishing gear, such as nets, are abandoned in a body of water and continue to capture animals. Ghost nets indiscriminately trap, maim, starve, and suffocate hapless animals such as fish, turtles, cetaceans, birds, and crustaceans. Trapped fish can act as bait for larger animals, who also become ensnared in the netting.

A sea turtle tangled in a fishing net.

A sea turtle tangled in a fishing net.

Ghost fishing has become a serious problem with the advent of nets made of non-biodegradable materials, such as nylon. Abandoned nets account for a significant 10% of oceanic litter. It is estimated that 640,000 tons of ghost netting are haunting our oceans right now, trapping and killing hundreds of animals each day. Worst of all, non-biodegradable nets remain active for up to 600 years. And even when those nets break apart, they continue to harm the marine animals that ingest the bits of plastic.

Please do not fish. It has been verified time and time again that fish feel pain just as intensely as other animals. (To learn more, see my post Marine Animals Deserve Protection) The fear and pain they experience when a hook pierces their lip and drags them up to the surface, where they suffocate, is incredible. Catch and release is also cruel, even if the hook is removed from the fish’s mouth, as their injuries and psychological shock often kill them. There is no reason to subject innocent animals to this cruelty for the sake of our entertainment and tastes. Please choose compassionate vegan alternatives to fish.

And if you are walking near a body of water and notice abandoned fishing gear, please do not leave it to continue harming wildlife. Collect it and safely dispose of it in a recycling or trash bin onshore. When disposing of soda can holders, be sure to cut open the rings so wildlife cannot become caught.

Freeing a fish caught in an abandoned net has helped me to realize the danger of the seemingly inactive pieces of waste in our environment. From now on I will be careful to leave no trash behind when outdoors and pick up the litter I come across before it can harm wildlife. And I hope you will too.

Best,

Leila

April Favorites

It has been a long time since I published a favorites of the month post. I have been enjoying a few things this month that I think are worth sharing, so let’s get into them:

Beauty

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow

IMG_1848With the warmer spring weather this month, I have been using my Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Eyeshadow in Playa del Pink. It is a very nice metallic rose gold shadow that wears well as a base or on its own. Wearing it underneath shimmery champagne shadows gives an intense and radiant look. Best of all, this shadow is super light, natural, and cruelty-free!

Yes To Tomatoes Acne Cleanser & Yes To Cucumbers Body wash

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I have also been loving Yes To products this month. Their tomato acne cleanser is very nice and has been helping clear my skin. I switched from their scrub to the gel because I learned that the beads found in exfoliating products are too small to be removed by water filtration and often end up in local bodies of water. When aquatic animals as fish and turtles ingest the pellets, they may accumulate in their stomachs, causing them to die of malnourishment. I also found that the harshness of the exfoliating beads irritated my skin, so using a clean washcloth to exfoliate is kinder to both the animals and your skin.

I also love the cucumber body wash. It is gentle for sensitive skin and smells super refreshing. It is a great cruelty-free and natural dupe for Dove’s Cucumber Green Tea body wash.

Fashion 

I purchased a few items at winter clearance sales that have become staples this month.

First, I have been loving these strappy heeled booties. They are very versatile and comfortable. I also love the texture of them. They are some of the nicest vegan leather shoes I have come across.

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Second, I have been enjoying incorporating this crescent moon pendant necklace into my outfits. If you wear a lot of black like I do, a silver pendant like this one adds an eye catching touch of detail and texture.

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Third, I have been wearing this black kimono style top often this month. I love the delicate crochet sleeves and long fringe detail at the bottom. It is light and comfortable and adds a bohemian vibe to any outfit. I pair it with high waisted shorts and black maxi-skirts.

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Food

I have been eating strawberries like crazy this month. I like snacking on a bowl of them for dessert or between meals. They are also great chopped up in a bowl with bananas.

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Those are all of my favorites for this month! I would love to know what you have enjoyed during April. Hope you have a lovely May!

Best,

Leila