#projectuseitup: quarantine empties #4

Empties from the last quarter of 2020. What I used, what I recommend, what I’d buy again.

the supplements…
  • Vitafusion Melatonin gummies – the only form of melatonin that helps me sleep and doesn’t give me nightmares. I’ve been using these for a few years and continue to repurchase.
  • NatureMade Magnesium Citrate – Citrate is supposed to be the most readily absorbable form according to research I did a while back… this one relaxes my muscles when they’re tight without making me too tired or weak. Will repurchase.
  • MyKind Organic Elderberry Gummies – I started taking elderberry after having a bad flu in 2016. It’s gotten me through many a cold season, and I’ve been taking it semi-regularly since last March. It tastes good and also helps with my allergies, so might as well. (there’s plenty of research on elderberry if you search on PubMed)
  • Rainbow Light Women’s Multivitamin – I switch between individual and multis based on whatever weirdness is going on in my body and/or dietary changes (ie-B12 when I’m leaning into the plant-based meals). I’ve noticed changes in my hormonal issues while taking this one. (Recommended dose is 4 caplets, but I only take 2 to supplement what I get through diet).
face and body
  • Function of Beauty custom conditioner – FINALLY an empty! I was a little to extra when I customized this blend. It was WAY too rich for my hair but not moisturizing enough. It became the most expensive shave cream I’ve ever used.
  • CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion travel size – My skin was a little dry this summer and I happened to have this in my stash. Not my favorite, but it did the trick.
  • LaVanilla Healthy Deodorant – I love how these make my pits feel but it’s not always the most effective for stink control during the summer months.
  • ACURE Brightening Facial Scrub and Seriously Soothing Cleansing Cream – frequent repurchases and two of my favorite face products, but I’ve switched these out for the Ethique plastic-free cleanser bar.
  • Sappho mascara – not an empty, but it’s more than a year old at this point and it started to smell weird… trash. It looks nice but transfers terribly!
  • Schmidt’s Wondermint toothpaste – I think I found this at Marshall’s in the pre-quarantimes… Anyhow, it was in my stash and I quite enjoyed it.
  • Trader Joe’s Hyaluronic Acid – not the best I’ve tried, but it’s HA so it did the job.
  • Bliss makeup melt cleanser – This stuff smells AWFUL! Like petroleum or something. I bought it to see if it worked as a dupe for the Glossier milky jelly, which I do actually really enjoy. It is NOT. I’m so glad it was a mini because I’m not sure I could’ve committed to the full size.
  • Evan Healy Rose Geranium Toning Face Mist – A lovely mist. This is my second time receiving it in the Whole Foods annual beauty bag and it’s just as nice as the first time. Leaves my face refreshed, but gets used up pretty quickly.
more face and body, plus miscellany
  • Brandless Body Scrub – this company is now defunct… their scrub was decent though.
  • Overtone Coloring Conditioner in Pink for Brown sample (not pictured: green for brown, red for brown): I LOVED the pink for brown! The sample size is enough for one application on my hair (long, straight, fine textured) and adds a vibrant tone to my sun-bleached ends with a subtler color on my roots. The green didn’t really work for me, but the pinks and reds are going to be repeats going forward! It takes a few weeks to wash out of my hair and gives my grays a pastel color.
  • Ethique ginger snap face scrub: not an empty but an intro! As I mentioned, I made the switch to ethique for face wash… The scrub is a little harsh, but the cleansing bar feels lush.
  • Adagio tea sample – birthday wish freebie tin. A sweet surprise.
  • Stabilo point 88 mini fineliner – these are some of my favorite pens, I have lots of colors to get through…
  • cheeky mouthguard – Disappointing product rather than an empty… I tried cheeky to replace my last mouth guard but the whole experience was a disaster. I ordered it last February, it took more than a month and no shipment (this was before lockdown). When it did arrive, it was poorly packaged, had no instructions, and was missing the supplies to ship it back. I almost asked for a refund but decided to send it after waiting so long. when I received it, the impression barely fit my teeth and was missing half my molars. I was so tired by then that I didn’t even bother to reach out to customer service again and called it a loss. I was holding on to them, trying to make them work, but it’s hopeless.

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social distance diaries: days 296-302

in which too much happens

Day 296, Monday

Back to work. I was convinced that the semester started today, so imagine my surprise when I realized it won’t start until next week. I guess that’s a good thing since I have the biopsy scheduled for Wednesday. Really hoping it leads to a diagnosis (and REALLY hoping it’s not a bad one).

Day 297, Tuesday

Started my morning at the crack of dawn to prep for a quick grocery trip. The biopsy shouldn’t require much recovery if all goes well, but I wanted to take care of all the house stuff in advance, just in case. It’s nice and chilly this morning (what the local news calls “comfortable” weather). I wore a blazer and leggings to go shopping because why ever not at this point?

I didn’t get much sleep. I continue to wonder if the pain in my arm is caused by the lesion or the muscle strain that refuses to heal… Sadly, I’m used to living in pain. I can’t even tell which pain I’m feeling anymore. I hate it. Part of me wonders if the lesion is the reason I’ve always had a hard time doing push-ups or downward dog (I get shoulder pain if I hold too long or do too many). I always figured I have weak arms. Maybe not.

In preparation for the biopsy, I watched a video and almost wish I hadn’t. I’m glad that I’m prepared but I’m not sure I was ready for the visual of a big ass needle being hammered into the patient’s arm.

I am on week 5 of an 8 week workout plan, but I think I may be going on hiatus for a few days…

Day 298, Wednesday

Biopsy went as planned and our democracy was under attack. I was awake for all of it (on both counts).

Day 299, Thursday

I should’ve taken the day off, could barely move my arm, though it’s more swollen than painful. Feels like I got punched in the arm, which I guess is more or less what happened.

Day 300, Friday

Wow, just 65 more days until this log becomes a year. A bit more mobility today, but still unable to lift my arm or lift anything, really.

Day 301, Saturday

Starting to return to normal mobility, but occasional twinges of pain if I reach too quickly or lift my arm without thinking. I planned to return to editing this weekend, but my arm hurts if I reach for the laptop for a sustained period of time.

Released another of my mom’s rescued creatures; this time, a young Muscovy duck.

Day 302, Sunday

Went to check on the young duck an he seems to be doing ok, but he seems to have a limp. At least he’s in a safer place than the parking lot he came from.

Follow-up appointment is scheduled for tomorrow morning. Hoping for a good outcome.

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off the shelf: what I read – December 2020

Still Reading

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo – I’m so glad I ordered this book from my local indie. It’s a feminist powerhouse in the most subtle of ways.

Finished

A Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai – I am stumped as to whether this is straight erotica or kinky romance but it is DIRTY. And I say that without judgement, I really enjoyed it, but if you’re coming to this after Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series, just know that her earlier books are 10000% spicier than the love scenes in her current series. Lots of personal angst, lots of mommy/daddy issues, lots of kink.

The Beast of Blackmoor by Milla Vane (novella) – This is a prequel novella to the A Gathering of Dragons series. More along the lines of A Heart of Blood and Ashes in terms of consent play and violence, so TW if that doesn’t work for you (also, TW for mention of sexual violence). Leans into BDSM. Complex character-development and just as much world-building as the novel-length titles in this series.

A Touch of Stone and Snow by Milla Vane – I loved this sequel! I enjoyed the first book in this series, but generally disliked the hero, so that made it a little hard to finish. No such qualms here! Excellent Dark Fantasy Romance with heaps of world-building.

The Devil in her Bed by Kerrigan Byrne (via NetGalley) – I expected historical, what I never expected late Victorian, dark romantic suspense! This is a ride from the start–it’s not every romance that opens with murder. Conflict from the outset, and it’s easy enough to follow the occasional callback to earlier books in the series even if you haven’t read them. Secret societies! Ritualistic orgies! Women in pants and secret identities!
I thought I read Kerrigan Byrne before but after a quick search through my book lists, I realized this was my first. Won’t be my last.

Audiobooks

N/A

DNF

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren – I need to stop trying to read CL’s books – I just can’t get on with them… I got about 20 pages in and knew this was going to be a slog I didn’t feel like slogging through. I didn’t connect with any of the characters and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t aged down to YA (the main character is 26 but reads like 16).

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social distance diaries: days 289-295

in which I relax and look back

Day 289, Monday – Day 295, Sunday

Second and last week of vacation before returning to my WFH desk life. I took the time to indulge in good food, sweet treats, and time with my partner. There were walks, solo Just Dance marathons, a return to my Animal Crossing island, and a few socially distant explorations.

I started using my new bullet journal and felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I finished draft 3 of my current manuscript. Next step: recruit betas and review the notes I scattered throughout the draft for future fixes (the future is now!).

It was a struggle to revise draft 2; it coincided with the start of my WFH life and the terrible anxiety and depression that marked those early months. Still, I pushed through and finished draft 3 a month ahead of schedule.

In total, I spent 214.62 hours editing and revising (including a major development edit and a thorough revision), spread across 10 months beginning in March. Draft 1 was completed January 2020. In February, I reviewed the draft and prepared my notes for revision. Now, I’m enjoying that brief sense of relief before I dive back into the manuscript. My goal is to query BYCMB this year and plot a rewrite of Anuna (COI), which I stopped querying at the end of 2019 (but that’s a longer story and may become a self-publishing adventure).

I hope you too had an indulgent and satisfying end to what may be the worst year in many of our lifetimes. 2016 was one of my worst years for many reasons, but 2020 is a close second.

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video: week in the life vlog – 12.21 – 12.26

Because I really needed another creative outlet, I’m trying my hand at weekly vlogging… ordinary days at home, kitties, and more.

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social distance diaries: days 282-288

in which we have the best holiday possible

Day 282, Monday

Went to the doctor. Still don’t know what the growth is, but it’s not a liquid cyst, so I’m going in for a CT guided biopsy. Sigh. She’s still fairly positive it’s not aggressive, but I’m starting to consider the very likely possibility that this will be a surgery rather than a watch-and-wait situation.

Because it’s not going to be a regular Christmas, I popped a fresh mask on and went to visit my mom and gran so I could hand them their presents. I sat by the door and recorded them from a distance. There is a very real chance that this will be the last Christmas my grandmother is lucid enough to sit up in a chair and chatter along, even if she no longer has control of her vocabulary.
It’s been a melancholy year.

Day 283, Tuesday

In light of the fact that my dad is also dealing with a cancer diagnosis, I masked up again and sat outside his building to give him his present. There’s a dog park in his building and some long, shady benches, which make it easy to spend some time with him at a safe distance, though I’ve been loathe to take the risk in the last few months (not that the people who live with him have been taking similar precautions, I’m always worried for him).

Day 284, Wednesday

Today was for me. I’m nearly done with the current draft and might be finished by the end of the month at this pace, so I focused on writing for much of the morning despite a lingering pressure headache that refuses to go away.

I’ve been recording my days for a week in the life vlog, so that’s been a fun side project. I also uploaded a new Study with me/Write with me video that I recorded last week.

Day 285, Thursday

Happy Christmas Eve! Noche Buena to mi gente. Normally, this would be a night for family gatherings and dinner with my loved ones, but this year I’ll be doing takeout with the boy in a well ventilated space. I’ve been buying takeout at least a few times a month to support local businesses and give myself a break from cooking and cleaning. My diet has been more varied and experimental than ever, which I enjoy, but the cleaning is the worst.

Day 286, Friday

Happy Christmas! It was a different sort of Christmas for us all, but a lovely day overall in my experience. The boy rigged a screen up in his yard so we could watch WW84 while keeping our distance and I baked a cake for both of us to share.

We recorded a special episode of the podcast all about our cozy favorites that aired as this year’s Christmas special. You can find it at The Bluestocking Circle.

Day 287, Saturday

Back to writing. Lots of cleaning (I purchased the WORST cat litter ever and it keeps getting on EVERYTHING. I’ve had to vacuum every day this week).

Day 288, Sunday

Another day of writing and taking care of stuff around the house. Edited a collection of clips for a week in the life vlog that will be going up soon. Follow me on YouTube for updates.

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social distance diaries: days 275-281

in which I stop full stop.

Day 275, Monday

I made the critical error of scheduling back to back zoom meetings and overwhelming my introverted self. It was nice to catch up but a little too much smiling at a screen for one day. This also came on the heels of having to engage a part of my brain that has been largely dormant for the last few years–tallying ratios and FTEs and accreditation-related justifications for a position. All part of the admin side of my job that I haven’t had to perform on a regular basis in my current position because that’s why we have an assistant dean, rather than as assistant director (which I was once). I sometimes forget that I used to do that sort of work. Writing policy and reports and the like.

Day 276, Tuesday

I accepted the fact that I’m tired and burned out. I’m taking a break from writing so I can refresh before my writing retreat next week (where I retreat from work, not home…), as a results, I turned to decluttering to fill my day between work projects.

Day 277, Wednesday

A long day of meetings. I’m still worn out from Monday’s meetings, but I’m so glad I meal-prepped. I was sitting in the dark by the time my last meeting ended.

Day 278, Thursday

Sat through my last meeting of the year! Vacation starts next week and my Friday is all cleared.

Day 279, Friday

Wrapped up a few projects and set my away message. I’ll have to check mail and approve timesheets, but I’m done for the year. All I want for the next year is an end to the pandemic. I likely won’t be returning to the office until I get a vaccine.

Caught up on podcast notes… Our latest mini ended up being more of a half-episode. You can hear me rambling about the 2020 Emma adaptation @bluesoxcircle.

Day 280, Saturday

Woke up with a hormonal migraine that made it hard to focus on anything but laying as still as possible. It’s partly fueled by the weather, so I get moments of respite before the pain starts up again.

Cookie Cat is getting better about being a house cat. I managed to sit him on my lap for a few minutes. It was the highlight of my week.

in which my love is tolerated…

Day 281, Sunday

Still struggling with a migraine. Spent the morning cleaning up what I was too tired to tidy last night and wandering around the house with a TENS machine attached to my back to try to ease the tension.

Treated myself to a latte and donut from Starbucks. I ordered a flat white, but it was definitely more of a latte consistency… the donut was perfect.

After much dithering, I set up my bullet journal for 2021. It’s simple and clean and I STILL can’t get the spacing right even after doing math and using a ruler.

My follow-up with the orthopedic oncologist is on Monday. Hoping for good news.

leuchtterm 1917 and happy planner stickers.

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social distance diaries: days 268-274

a day late because Sunday was a DAY

Day 268, Monday

Back to work so I recorded a “study with me” work from home video :). It’s chatty in the middle, because this was entirely unplanned, but I might make some no talking videos in future.

Day 269, Tuesday

Because I was inspired by yesterday’s video, I recorded a “day in the life” vlog. I briefly considered trying Vlogmas this year, but I really didn’t need another daily project while editing and working…

Day 270, Wednesday

MRI done and, since I was in the area, I popped into my local(ish) Asian market to treat myself to all kinds of stuff (only two of which I was actually there for)… It’s like a Target run, but tastier.

Since, I was on a roll… I recorded a haul 🙂

Day 271, Thursday

Woke up at 2am in a panic because something was obviously burning in the area and the smell of smoke filled my bedroom. Searched all over and woke up my BF just so I could be sure it wasn’t the office downstairs that was on fire.
It was not.
But, yikes, was that scary. My heart goes out to all the folks on the West Coast who lived through the recent fire season. It’s terrifying! Of course, the smell and interrupted sleep triggered a migraine and I was still experiencing side effects from the MRI. Not a fun day. Ended up needing to call it quits when my dizziness made it impossible to work.

Day 272, Friday

Back to the lab to drop off my mom’s specimen (see vlog for first lab visit). We will speak of it no more.

I was craving Argentinian croissants (media lunas) and fries, so I indulged in both (separately, of course). Unlike a French croissant, Argentinian croissants have a sweet glaze and what I suspect might be cream (perhaps cheese?) in the dough.

Day 273, Saturday

In an unexpected turn of events, I slept in until nearly 9am, something I haven’t done in ages. Somehow, the cats’ meowing wasn’t enough to drag me out of bed. I suspect I needed it after so many days of migraine.

Did some writing and started the de-cluterring project that I’ve been putting off for months. First to go: all the bras that don’t fit the way they should. I am OVER uncomfortable bras.

Day 274, Sunday

No extra sleep today. I woke up in the middle of a weird nightmare and was too rattled to get back to sleep. Early start to my writing session and a bit more decluttering. I might document some of it, but so far I’ve cleared out paper clutter, an old toaster, and some perfumes that I’m giving to my mom to rehome. My old vacuum will be going with them and the bras I culled yesterday.

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