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Sunday, February 12, 2017

TOP 5 BOOKS ON MY TBR LIST & GIVEAWAY CHALLENGE


Salutations People of Earth:

       Before I get to my books that I need to read ASAP list, I want to talk about a little giveaway challenge I am hosting on this here blog. You see, you guys seem to enjoy guessing the little literary quotes I throw out here and there, and I very much enjoy handing out Duchess Points to the people who guess those quotes correctly. I mean, it means that you are actively reading my blog, participating in it, enjoying my words, and for that, I really just want to give back to you. Therefore. I am hosting a giveaway challenge!

-- From this post on, I will be throwing out a literary reference somewhere in every post. Your job is to find it, and be the first to guess the literary reference down in the comments below. Don't worry, you will know when I'm referencing something because I will mention "10 Duchess Points to whoever guesses..." next to the quote.
-- Each quote, as you can see, will be worth 10 Duchess Points.
-- The first person who guesses the reference down in the comments will be linked to and mentioned in the next post, so you know how many Duchess Points you have.
-- The first person to reach 30 Duchess Points wins the Giveaway!

THE REWARD:
 You can choose a category from Books, Shoes, Clothing, Makeup, or RANDOM SHTUFF, from there, I will sending you a surprise something from the category you chose for $20 and under. Because I am a college student. And this thang is just for fun. And because my thrifting tendencies are killer. If I do say so myself.

JUST ONE RULE TO ENTER THO:
-- You must be following me on either my twitter, Instagram, or Bloglovin'. Because yah.

AND NOW, ONWARD--TO THE REST OF THE POST: 
Right, so disclaimer-- these are books that I've been wanting to read for a very long time, but have never had time to. They have been recommended by people whose judgement I trust (when they aren't drunk or temporarily insane), and whose summaries make my heart pound with the excitement of it all. All these books have a very sophisticated or quirky feel to them-- they are not your typical YA read, which is a post for a later time. Therefore, if you are looking for unique, quirky, or vocabulary-rich books, please, read on, you have come to the right post. 

I. THE NAME OF THE WIND--PATRICK ROTHFUSS

The following is taken from the Patrick Rothfuss website. I will not be adding my own summaries, as I have not read these books yet. I will however, add a sentence or two of commentary:

My name is Kvothe, pronounced nearly the same as "quothe." Names are important as they tell you a great deal about a person. I've had more names than anyone has a right to. The Adem call me Maedre. Which, depending on how it's spoken, can mean The Flame, The Thunder, or The Broken Tree."The Flame" is obvious if you've ever seen me. I have red hair, bright. If I had been born a couple of hundred years ago I would probably have been burned as a demon. I keep it short but it's unruly. When left to its own devices, it sticks up and makes me look as if I have been set afire.
My first mentor called me E'lir because I was clever and I knew it. My first real lover called me Dulator because she liked the sound of it. I have been called Shadicar, Lightfinger, and Six-String. I have been called Kvothe the Bloodless, Kvothe the Arcane, and Kvothe Kingkiller. I have earned those names. Bought and paid for them. I have, of course, been called many other things. Most of them uncouth, although very few were unearned. 
So begins the tale of Kvothe—from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. But The Name of the Wind is so much more—for the story it tells reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend.

I have not wanted to read a fantasy series this bad since I was 15. The writing is like poetry, the world is achingly crafted in beauty, and the plot seems so vivid, so out there, so unique-- and, there are THREE OF THEM. THANG G-D. My friend K, from The Geek Post, recommended it ;). 


II. THE HOUSEKEEPER AND THE PROFESSOR-- YOKO OGAWA 

The following summary is taken from Goodreads: 
He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem--ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory.  She is an astute young Housekeeper, with a ten-year-old son, who is hired to care for him.  And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor’s mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities--like the Housekeeper’s shoe size--and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.  The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.

Me: Translated from the Japanese, this book seems so delicate in its attitude to the fragility of relationships. Something so precious, as a budding piece of love, just seems ever that much more beautiful and complex when it's only yours for 80 minutes. May Cho, from The Mayden, actually mentioned this book in one of her posts, and I've been wanting to read it ever since. It just seems too beautiful not to devour. 


III. THE HUNDRED YEAR OLD MAN WHO CLIMBED OUT OF THE WINDOW AND DISAPPEARED-- JONAS JONASSON 

The following is taken from Goodreads:
It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, we learn something of Allan’s earlier life in which – remarkably – he helped to make the atom bomb, became friends with American presidents, Russian tyrants, and Chinese leaders, and was a participant behind the scenes in many key events of the twentieth century. Already a huge bestseller across Europe, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared is a fun and feel-good book for all ages.

Me: Another translated beauty, this time from Swedish, this is one of those books which you will probably pass multiple times in your local books store, something which you will continuously pick up, and then put down again, until you finally take the plunge and decide to read it-- and ultimately fall in love. That is, that is my expectation from this outrageously quirky sounding novel. Courtesy of my friend K, once again. She always recommends the most unique novels. 


IV. BILGEWATER-- JANE GARDAM

Taken from Goodreads:
Marigold Green calls herself 'hideous, quaint and barmy'. Other people calle her Bilgewater, a corruption of Bill's daughter. Growing up in a boys' school where her father is housemaster, she is convinced of her own plainness and peculiarity. Groomed by the wise and loving Paula, upstaged by bad, beautiful Grace and ripe for seduction by entirely the wrong sort of boy, she suffers extravagantly and comically in her pilgrimage through the turbulent, twilight world of alarming adolescence. 

Me: I stumbled upon this little treasure in the modern classics section of Barnes and Noble. Originally published in 1970, in Britain, this book takes on a James Joyce-ian air as it dips and trills through the craziness of adolescence. I actually have, in fact, borrowed this book from the library--and from what I've read so far, the book sounds like a teenage poet who is slightly high on marijuana. Which is exactly my kind of book. Me mucho excited.  


V. BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS--DAI SIJIE

Taken from Goodreads:
“Picture if you will, a boy of nineteen still slumbering in the limbo of adolescence, having heard nothing but revolutionary blather about patriotism, Communism, and ideology, and propaganda all his life, falling headlong into a story of awakening desire, passion, impulsive action, love, of all the subjects that had, until then, been hidden from me”
In this enchanting tale about the magic of reading and the wonder of romantic awakening, two hapless city boys are exiled to a remote mountain village for reeducation during China's infamous Cultural Revolution. There they meet the daughter of the local tailor and discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation. As they flirt with the seamstress and secretly devour these banned works, they find transit from their grim surroundings to worlds they never imagined.

Me: There are two things that I especially love in a book-- the mention of banned books, and a peek into another culture. I actually just discovered this book 5 minutes ago, as I was scrolling through Goodreads, trying to find a replacement for the French book I originally had on the list. The French book has been on my TBR list for too long, and I just simply lost interest. The idea behind hidden knowledge, subtly tasted behind closed doors and from prying eyes, simply makes my heart flutter. It's the reason why I enjoyed Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 so much, or even Markus Zusak's The Book Thief. Banned books always have something to say. Also, Chinese Cultural Revolution. I'm intrigued.  

  And that is all folks, for this here post. Also, here is my literary reference to describe what I am feeling right now: 
I HATE DATING. WITH THE FIRE OF A THOUSAND SUNS. Ten Duchess Points to whoever knows that reference. 

So, 'till nest Sunday Folks, 
love, 
Cynical Duchess


What's on your TBR list? 
Leave a comment below! 




Sunday, February 5, 2017

FROM DAY TO NIGHT IN FOREST GREEN & AND A TALK ON CULTURAL APPROPRIATION

DISCLAIMER: IN THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS, I AM WEARING NUDE TIGHTS. 
       
       Right.
So I'm sitting here listening to Japanese rock music, and I'm wondering two things:

1) why do these bands always feel the need to sing half their songs in English? I mean, Japanese is a perfectly good language. Why dilute it with the boring English language? I'm telling you, English has pervaded every culture like like a leech. Like a streak of accidental white paint. Like an annoying stain on your favorite dress. And it won't. Come. Out. I don't know, what do you guys think? Can someone please explain this phenomena to me?

2) And two, what in the world am I supposed to say about my clothes? Yes, I am aware that this is a fashion post, but how much am I supposed to wax poetic over the fuzziness of my sweater, and the corduroy-ness of my skirt before all your faces start to dive headfirst into your respective keyboards? (Because you've fallen asleep--if you didn't catch my reference). 

I will say this however--this is a day-to-night outfit--I therefore created it as inspiration for you for those lazy days when you need to go to multiple places, but you really don't feel like completely switching outfits. Thus, I've kept the same top and jewelry, and just switched the shoes, socks, and skirt. And I added a hat. But that takes two seconds. Oh, whatever, more on that when we get to the night bit. 

ONWARD: 
DAY



       Instead I want to talk about cultural appropriation. Now I am a great advocate for learning about other cultures. I have music from all over the world on my iPod--in fact, I'm planning a post on my top 5 global musicians-- and I love cooking food from different countries. But when does interest and enthusiasm cross the line into a fetish? I am going to use Korean pop culture as an example, simply because that is the country I am interested in at the moment (before that it was Ireland--don't worry, still obsessed with Ireland--and its seductively fluffy grass), and also because that is the country that currently seems to be the most culturally appropriated. 

       Now there is a term in Korean pop culture known as 'Koreaboo', or the Japanese equivalent--  'Weeaboo'. This refers to someone, usually 100% always a foreigner, who is so obsessed with Korean culture, that they practically attempt to become Korean--even though they are faaaaaar from it. How they go about attempting this, I know not. They start using Korean words in their day to day language, like--
Ahem, like this: 

Koreaboo: "OPPA! Can you come here and tell me if my aegyo sal looks normal?"
Koreaboo's Boyfriend: " Kate, I don't know how many times I've told you-- can you stop calling me that? I don't even know what that is--what even is an Oppa???"
Koreaboo: "Oh, Oppa, you are so cute!! As if you don't know what Oppa means". 
Koreaboo's Unfortunate Boyfriend: Kate! No! I really don't know! Just tell me what it means!"
Koreaboo: "Oh, fine-- it's the Korean term for Older Brother--isn't it cute?? But shouldn't you already know that? Aren't you Asian?"
Koreaboo's Extremely Unfortunate Boyfriend: "Kate?"
Koreaboo: "Hmm?"
Koreaboo's Extremely Fed Up Boyfriend: "I'M FLIPPING CHINESE". 
Koreaboo: "Oppa! Huh? Wha--? Where are you going--OPPA!"


Sweater-- Forever XII
Skirt-- Topshop
Nude Tights-- Melas
Socks-- H&M
Shoes-- Sophie17 


       Okay, Maybe I am exaggerating just a tad, but you get the gist. Said Koreaboo will probably have a hidden stash of imported makeup from Korea hidden in their sock drawer, and they probably know Korean culture better than a Korean. Also, they probably only like to date Koreans. I am just saying, if you find your self nodding your head to any of this, if that guy is your boyfriend, if you just had this argument yesterday-- then I'd like you to step away from the laptop for one minute, don't worry-- I'll still be here-- and I want you to take two deep breaths. Then I want you to put your head between your knees, and face the honest reality. What you have is not a mere cultural interest-- it is a cultural fetish.   

NIGHT


       Right-- I'm interrupting myself for a moment just to comment on the fashion aspect of things. This is my interpretation of the same outfit, except for evening. I actually love this outfit so much that I've recreated it multiple times. Like that is my favorite hat EVER. I love the different muted hues to this outfit-- the darkened greens, grays and blacks that just make my hair and lips stand out. (In my humble opinion). Also, I love the subtle tones of punk that I sneaked into the outfit--through the subtle choker and lace booties. Because you can never go wrong with a bit of punk. Write that down and hang it up on your fridge. It's good free wisdom.  


       Anyway-- oh my gosh I just love those sparkly tights so much. Sorry. Anyway-- Now don't get me wrong-- if you are interested in Korean, or Japanese, or Russian culture-- then by all means, wonderful! In my opinion, it is very healthy to learn about, and even get involved with other cultures. However, when that fascination starts to be all you think about-- or when you begin to think that a particular culture is superior to other cultures, you have to start asking yourself whether you are not just fetishizing that culture. 


       The reason why this line of thinking is particularly harmful, is because it takes a diverse country filled with so many different people, and outlooks-- and dumps them all into one romanticized idea of what their country should be, based off of their entertainment! I mean, what can you get about a culture from Kdramas and Kpop anyway? If I were to make assumptions on Korea based off of their entertainment, then I would assume that (G-d forbid) all the guys there are emotionally unavailable jerks, and everyone walks around in pink hair. Pretty much sounds like Korea, right? NO. Lets use the Korean word for it: ANI! A BIG FAT ANI! Here it is in German: NEIN! Hebrew: LO! Again in English: ABSOLUTELY NOT!     


       Well, that's pretty much all I have to say. No culture is better or worse than any other. Except for maybe really scary dictatorships. Those are pretty bad. Thus, in conclusion-- by all means, appreciate the great qualities found in various cultures, but don't romanticize them to death that you essentially stereotype them, just the opposite way. Because that is also called being racist. And that is my 
shpiel <---- Yiddish. 

       
       And now I'mma say once again, that I uberly love this outfit. With the fire of a thousand suns. (10 Duchess points to whoever knows that reference). I just love the little quirks that you can put into an outfit that make it your own. Honestly, I just love how every outfit starts off with a basic shirt/skirt or shirt/pants, and the little accessories we add simply make all the difference. 


Sweater-- Forever XII
Skirt-- White House Black Market
Shoes-- Fergalicious By Fergie
Tights-- Target
Socks-- Forever XII
Choker-- Forever XII
Hat-- (Small shop in Jerusalem--brand called Se7en). 

And that is all for today children. If you'll excuse me, I'd like to go watch my Kdrama now. ;) 

10 Duchess points go to Leta from The Nerdy Me for guessing last week's literary quote-- 
"T" as in "Troll"-- from Harry Potter!

I think I should host a giveaway like this. Yah! Okay: How about, the first person to reach 100 Duchess points wins some thing from me. Ok, I now need to work on this. More info to come soon! 

love,
Cynical Duchess

PS-- Major thanks to CB for the gorgeous pics! 

Have you ever felt stereotyped, or culturally appropriated? I know I have. 
Leave a comment below! 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

THE BEST OF JANUARY*

This post was sponsored and inspired by *StyleWe.
        Guys---
I am uberly sorry that I didn't have a post last week. Like really really really really. If you follow me on twitter you will have noticed that I took the SAT's last Sunday. That means I got up at 6:30, went to a strange high school to take a 4 hour test, then went back home and literally did my college work until 4:00 AM in the morning. Like no joke. Which means that I didn't really have time during the week to prepare this post.
 Thus, I hope thou shalt accept my most humble apologies. (Please read in a nasal British accent).

     ANYWAYS,
For this post, I wanted to attempt to recapture some of my best lived moments this month. I don't know why I've never tried this type of post before, as I love reading these types of posts on other people's blogs. Whatever, I'm trying it now. Even so, since this is an experimental post, please bear with me as I play around with this format. I've been playing around with different styles of posts recently, looking to see what works and what doesn't. Honestly, your feedback is very helpful-- what do you guys like to read about? Do you like my snapshots of New York? My Top Five series? Fashions posts? More short stories? It would be a great help to me if you left me your cheeky little opinion down in the comments below. Like Legit.
Right, I have nothing more to say except,
ONWARD:

CAFE OF THE MONTH
Brooklyn Artisan Bakehouse


        Right, so I have been complaining for ages that Brooklyn, (which is where I live), really doesn't know how to do quirky restaurants. I mean Manhattan is another story--Manhattan knows how to do those quirky restaurants. But when it comes to Brooklyn, I honestly give them a "T". For troll. (Whoever knows that reference gets 10 Duchess points).
       But then my friend told me about Brooklyn Artisan Bakehouse. Now let me tell you why I am sold on this Brooklyn piece of quirkiness: first of all, the place has such an urban feel to it, with naked bulbs dangling from the ceiling, cloth sacks of flour sitting urbanely on the shelves, and even a sink made from half of a wine barrel hanging out nonchalantly in the corner. The chairs are all mismatched, adding to the uniqueness of the place, and the food presentation is simply beautiful. I mean, I have been to places where they basically place your slop in front of you with a "here." and then expect you to tip them handsomely later. Like right dude, because I can totally see how you enjoyed serving me sooooo much. Yet this place really pays attention to the beauty of the food.
I ordered the house salad, with a side of tuna, expecting the common fare of mixed vegetables I could easily make at home, when instead, I got this:


       This tuna was so gorgeously pink, so freshly raw and gently grilled, so lovingly herbed and spiced, that I felt like I was eating fruit. It was astounding how delicious that tuna was. Furthermore, there were a few veggies in there that I had never even seen before, and therefore can't give you the name of--which made me so happy. Because I really can't stand ripoff restaurants that give you a bowl of romaine lettuce and call it a salad. And then they expect you to tip them handsomely. Whilst they serve you, WITH THE MOST DISGUSTING EYE ROLL YOU HAVE EVER SEEN IN YOUR LIFE. LIKE GET A GIRLFRIEND DUDE. OR A REAL JOB. I'm sorry, am I digressing? Anyways, my whole experience here was beautiful-- from the food, to the decor, to the service, and even the reasonable pricing. Good going Brooklyn. Also, I should mention that this is a pescatarian restaurant, meaning they serve fish and dairy products, but no meat. It is also kosher. Just sayin'.  


This is what my friend got, if you are curious. 



BOOK OF THE MONTH
The Art of Hearing Heart Beats-- Jan-Philipp Sendker


       While I haven't had the chance to read as much as I would have wanted to these past few months, I did read one book in January which truly turned out to be quite a unique reading experience for me. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is set in both New York, and Burma--narrated by a mysterious Burmese man to a young, contemporary Burmese-American girl named Julie. The story begins four years after Julie's father' disappearance. Long given up as a suicide case, Julie suddenly discovers a letter her father had written years ago to a girl named MiMi, in Burma. And suddenly, a wave of questions begin to envelop Julie, both about her father's mysterious past, and his sudden disappearance. She decides to travel to Burma, hoping to connect to her father's history and roots, and perhaps to uncover some of his many buried secrets. What she finds is a story about a man she never realized her father to be-- a boy who grew up blind and learned to see through the rest of his senses, until he could recognize people's heartbeats--and a love so great that it transcended sight, time and distance. 

       This book truly struck a cord with me, as it depicts a love that transcends the maudlin barriers of physicality. I feel as if so many of us berate ourselves for not being 'good' or 'perfect' enough to deserve love. We may scrutinize our bodies, and twist the extra fat around our middles, blaming ourselves for not being 'pretty enough' or 'skinny enough' for that great love. I'm sure so many of us look at our familial situations, and think that we would never measure up to that stable, prosperous person in our dreams. Or maybe we think to ourselves that we are simply too weird, too out there, too different for anyone to understand us. But it is stories like these that show us how wrong this line of thinking truly is. Love isn't only about physicality. Love isn't only about how you look, or how you dress, or where you come from. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is about a blind boy who falls in love with a girl who cannot walk--and together, they learn to be each others' sight and legs. A book like this simply infused me with renewed strength and hope that some day, I will find that crazy person who understands me and my quirks-- who appreciates my blog, and my love for different cultures, and Shakespeare, and the hidden secrets of life. Among other stuff. 

BRAND OF THE MONTH
StyleWe*

       Ok, now I am actually, absolutely, in love with this site. StyleWe brings together designers that you may not have heard of, such as YIYIQI, Bo Carter, KK2 and Poscilla--among others. Furthermore, the clothing designs are so unique, and so beautiful, that each piece looks like it has its own story to tell. If I could, I would literally buy my entire wardrobe for this site--and I am not kidding--their unique clothing is so up my alley. However, the one downside to StyleWe, is that it can be a bit expensive at times. However, they do have flash sales where you can get the site's items at a $35-$75 range. I say, just save up a bit and treat yourself to something from StyleWe, just as a gift to yourself, because I am telling you-- you will not find clothing like this any where else. 



I also find that StyleWe's coats are extremely reasonably priced--going from $85 and up. I would actually prefer to get my coats from here as opposed to other places, because any good coat, in whatever store you look in, will cost somewhere between $100-$200 dollars, and StyleWe coats have that added advantage of their exceptional designs. Something that makes them not only coats, but works of art. 



Also, I should note that StyleWe has clothing for all seasons of the year on their site. Their "Fashion Kimono" line is exceptionally adorable, providing tons of various prints and designs for the upcoming spring weather. I don't know. StyleWe's items are really one of a kind. JUST CHECK OUT THE SITE. OKAY?   

Vell, zat iz all for today, little dumplings. I sincerely hope you enjoyed these tidbits of my month. Please do let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to see! Also, don't forget to check out StyleWe's INSTAGRAM <-- right here, and YOUTUBE CHANNEL <-- right there.     

What was the best of your January? 
Leave a comment below! 

'till next Sunday,
Love,
Cynical Duchess

PS-- 15 Duchess Points go to Lindsey Ginge of lindseyginge.com for guessing last week's literary quote. Lol. Just felt I had to add that in. 





  

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A GUIDE TO A GEEK'S NIGHT IN


Hello Hello, Montgomery Montgomery! 

-- Whoever knows that reference gets 15 Duchess points. So we all know I'm a geek. I listen to classical music, I like watching Kdramas, the last time I purposely wore something in style was never-- you get the point. Also, none of you ever met me during my Harry Potter/Doctor Who/Downton Abbey fixations. To say I was obsessed is an understatement. Also, I must mention--my cell phone cover is a section from Alice in Wonderland-- words, illustrations and all--with a TARDIS grafted onto it. Yup. The thing is, none of these interests are really conducive to a healthy extroverted lifestyle. Don't get me wrong-- I have an excellent sense of adventure, and I have many friends. In fact, I do quite love to go to a nice party or two (ones where they don't do anything illicit, that is). However, if you ask me what my ideal night would be, it would definitely be spent with one or two of my friends, in our PJ's, watching some ridiculously obscure film. S-- I'm looking at you. When you come back from studying abroad in Who Knows Where, we need to finish Monty Python. We only got up to the Knights who say Nee! 

       And then I heard about Luma's campaign. What is Luma, you ask? 'Tis an ingenious device which delivers fast surround Wifi to every room in your house, all on its own. It even recognizes when an object may block the internet signal, and automatically works around it so you still get fast Wifi. It even enables fast Wifi when every internet device is being used at the same time. I think the best bit about Luma however, is the little button you can press which automatically shuts off the internet, so that when you are having a get together with your family or friends, and the constant iPhoning is getting a li'l bit obnoxious, you can simply press the button, and Poof! No more Wifi for anyone. Thing is, Luma is holding a campaign about the Ultimate Winter's Night In. I decided to take that idea for a spin and turn it into the Ultimate Geek's Night In. And so, through extensive and unprofessional research, I have thus compiled the ultimate guide for the perfect Geeky Night In. Thou Art Very Welcome.   

 I. THE PAJAMAS


For any Geek's night in to function semi normally, one requires a set of pajamas. But not just any set of pajamas--oh no-- these need to be your geekiest, your craziest, your most embarrassing set of literary-fandom esque-gamer crazy-Disney lover pajamas. You see, when getting into the geeky spirit, you really need to do it with gusto, otherwise it doesn't work. Half the fun is embalming yourself with as much geeky absurdity as possible before settling down to perform the geeky activities of the night. My favorite geeky pajama set happens to be quite subtle. I am quite a literature lover, so my set has quite a lot of literary references. I customized this shirt for free at a Gap pop up store. The Quote is "We are all mad here" from one of my favorite books, Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carol. It's also a pretty awesome quote. It's also quite true. My favorite pants, which unfortunately I can't show you, are a pair of simply grey ones which I took the liberty of writing all of my favorite literary quotes all over in black sharpie. I have Carpe Diem, references from T.S Eliot's The Wasteland, Auden's The Unknown Citizen, I have Dylan Thomas on there-- a bunch of rockstars. The reason why I can't show them to you however, is because I accidentally left them in LA. I know. Tragic. I also have this purple cat-ear infinity scarf that one of my best friends knitted for me a few years back. It just makes anything look more funky. It's also very warm, and very cozy-- which is perfect for a geeky winter night in. 

II. THE SNACKS


No Geek's night in is complete without an array of classically nerdy snacks. Because I am a bit of a health freak, which if you follow me on Instagram you will have noticed, any snack in my geek's night in would have quite a healthy spin to it. Some of my favorite fake junk foods include dark chocolate drizzled popcorn, which you can either buy in places like Trader Joe's, or simply make on your own. Something like chocolate drizzled popcorn is great for a movie night when you want something sweet to snack on, but not something too heavy in the junk food department. Another  great healthy sweet snack would be cacao and cinnamon date energy balls, which are extremely easy to make if you have a food processor or blender. If you do not own a food processor or blender, which I don't, yet, then just buy a bunch of Lara bars. And of course, please don't forget your choice of hot chocolate and/or teas. A geek's night in has not even started before you've had a sip of substitute booze. I also tend to keep a wine bottle on the table filled with water. Because I'm cool like that.

III. THE GEEKY ACTIVITIES



So this category varies from person to person. There are so many variations of geek, and so many concentrations of interest, that a geek get together can look very different according to where your interests lie. My best friend S, for one, loves Lord of The Rings, so for her, an ultimate get together would probably consist of an LOTR marathon, with perhaps a few games of Magic thrown into the mix. I once spent a night at her house making a raw chocolate-avocado cake while listening to The Hobbit on audio tape. While I have another friend, SB, who absolutely loves Japanese manga and anime. A geek night at her house would look completely different. Therefore, because of these discrepancies, I am splitting this category into 3 subcategories: 

IIIa. THE GAMER NIGHT

Now a geek night at a gamer's place must consist of at least three people, and either a long and complicated game that could go on for hours, such as Dungeons and Dragons, or, a vast array of various games to be played throughout the night. For a good classic game of Dungeons and Dragons, which honestly, deserves its own category for its sheer awesomeness, the more people you can stuff into your house, the better. Also, make sure these people are at least semi creative and somewhat intelligent. (This is a game where you have to make most of it up as you go along). Lastly, if you plan on simply getting together with friends to play a couple of board games or cards, plan on having at least three people stay over, and plan on having a lot of games at hand. Because I'm an English freak, I of course recommend Apples to Apples, Taboo, Bananagrams, Balderdash, and even Chess or Checkers. Gosh, even a good classic game of Truth or Dare is excellent to play on such a night! 

IIIb. THE BOOK CLUB

There have certainly been times when I have gone over to a friend's house simply to read a book next to her on her bed. I have one friend, K, whom whenever I go over to her house, we always end up somehow on her bed, devouring her bookshelf. I really don't know why. There is simply just something about that companionship you accomplish when you lay side by side together, breathing in the paper, the words, and the silence. Also, it's really funny when the person next to you snorts out of no where, because she just read something funny in her book, but really she just looks ridiculous. It gets even funnier when you end up doing it. 

IIIc. THE MOVIE MARATHON


This is probably the most classic of geek nights. That night when you get to gather with a friend or two, get a bowl of popcorn, and simply binge watch your hearts out. You don't need anything else for this night, just a good working laptop, and one or two great movies or TV shows. My personal favorites would be a Harry Potter marathon (with scarf and wand), a musical & Disney binge-- (I'm feeling Newsies and Mulan right now, yaaaas), an intellectual night, featuring the likes of Forest Gump or anything Robin Williams-- Or of course, the TV night. JUST BRING ON THE BBC BABY. OR THE KDRAMAS. BRING THEM BOTH ON.


Ok, so this post has gotten way too long, once again, but I really hope you enjoyed my guide to a geek's night in. Please do tell me down in the comments if you would like to see more Geek guides, because I really do have a slew of them up in my brain. I would also like to thank Luma for inspiring this post with their product and campaign. 

What do you do on a night in with friends?
leave a comment below!

Love, 
Cynical Duchess.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

IT'S ONLY FOR A WEEK! I PROMISE!


Hi guys-- I'm so sorry I don't have a post for this week. Instead I have:


  • 2 journal posts to write on different versions of Hansel and Gretel
  • 3 discussion board posts-- on Hansel and Gretel
  • an annotated bibliography to start
  • SAT practice 
  • work
I have post written up already for next week. I just honestly don't want to post something in the middle of the week and throw off my schedule. Thus, I am taking a hiatus until this upcoming sunday. Meanwhile, you can however enjoy my LAST POST HERE. 

Also, in case you are board, here are some random photos from my phone to take your mind off things. Enjoy:








Sunday, January 1, 2017

MY TEN RESOLUTIONS FOR 2017



              Good morning Children! It is 10:30 AM. I just woke up. And yes, I am hungover. NOT because I  binge drank alcohol last night, but simply because I succumbed to another one of my Kdrama binge watches last night. Which is basically about the same thing. Except one involves alcohol while the other involves subtitled Korean awesomeness. Really, same thing.

          Well, in other news, G-d has given us a brand new legal year. WE HAVEN'T MESSED IT UP YET! (And you see, over here is where I typed up all of my political grievances, but since I don't want to start a fiery debate from Tartarus down in the comments below, I subsequently erased all said political grievances). Let's pretend we all agree politically, just for today. Any way, I wanted, just for today, to try one of those resolution posts. I have always scoffed at New Year's resolutions as I never thought people could actually keep up with them. However, it is also very healthy to set goals for oneself, and even if one could not meet all of his/her goals for the year, it still is quite an excellent thing to even try. AND THUS, I present to you my 10 resolutions for 2017. Lets see if I can even keep a fraction of them.

HEALTH & BODY

1.  I SHALT RESOLVE TO WASH AND MOISTURIZE MY FACE TWICE A DAY. RELIGIOUSLY.  
I admit: I'm not the greatest at this all the time. If I'm really tired, and I come home late, I have been known to simply stumble into my bed with out taking off the guck still stuck to my face. Beauty gurus please don't kill me. But honestly, it shows on my face. I have broken out more often in the last three months due to my lack of skin care, and it really bites man. I like my clear skin! And thus, I resolve to take good care of the only face G-d gave me. 

2. I SHALT RESOLVE TO BUY AN ACTUAL BLENDER. 
I used to have breakfast smoothies every single morning. It kept me full, it kept me energized, and again, it did wonders for my skin. But then I moved to New York. And for some odd reason, I decided that buying food and toilet paper was more important than buying a blender. No, actually I can see my logic. Never mind. THING IS THO, I REALLY MISS MY BABY! I really miss those frozen banana wonder creations that I made every morning, the fact that I basically ate ice cream for breakfast every day, but in reality, I was actually drinking liquidized spinach. It was great. I'ma go get me one of those this month. See if I don't! 

3. I SHALT RESOLVE TO EXERCISE EVERY OTHER NIGHT. 
 Back when I lived in LA, I had the greatest schedule for exercising. I'm not going to bore you with the boring details of my schedule, but it allowed me to practice Pilates every other day. And it was fantastic. And then I moved to New York and started working everyday from 7:50, and coming home at 5:20. I literally am bombed every night, and cannot possibly think of exercising. And that is how my beautiful Pilates regiment slipped away into nothingness. Therefore, I must retrain my body to get used to exercising at night, as right now, it only likes exercising in the morning. SO LISTEN UP BODY: YA BETTER GET USED TO IT YOU LAZY CHUNK OF MUSCLE!

4. I SHALT RESOLVE TO START GOING TO BED AT 11:45 PM. 
I know that is actually late, but I've been going to bed at Midnight too many nights to count already, and its really taking a toll on my body. There is nothing more to say. I simply need to start going to bed 15 minutes earlier. How I'm going to do that? I know not. But I shall keep you updated. 


ON CULTURING MYSELF

5. I SHALT RESOLVE TO TRAVEL TO ONE FAR OFF COUNTY THIS SUMMER. 
Actually, I really want to visit Seoul, South Korea this summer. And no, not because I want to stalk the Kpop stars. Come on people! I'm from LA! I know how these things work! But really, because the culture over there looks like something really awesome to experience. The fashion is fantastic, the language is awesome, and even though I can't eat most of the food, as I don't eat sea food, and I have a lot of other dietary restrictions, I can still look at the food, and get inspiration for my cooking at home. Plus, the skin care over there looks like the mother of Awesome. I need to get me some of that Etude House. Honestly, I love experiencing different cultures, it really is so fascinating to see how other people live-- because people simply fascinate me. And I also just really want to visit Hongdae. (University town in Seoul). 

6. I SHALT RESOLVE TO STUDY AND BE FAMILIAR WITH THE BASICS OF THE KOREAN LANGUAGE BY THE END OF THIS YEAR. 
Maybe I'm spoiled, but up until now, I have only ever travelled to countries where I was familiar with the language. I like the fact that I can get around a country and actually converse with the locals. Not only does that give you a wider experience of that country's day to day culture, but it will simply be easier for you to get around, and connect with the country you are visiting. Also, it will make it harder for people to rip you off as a tourist, because you will actually be able to read receipts and see how much people charge you. But I hear you people, ya'll are saying yes Batsheva, but learning a bloomin' language is easier said than done. Yah I get you, but that is why this is on my own personal resolution list. This is something that I have taken upon my self. If you ask me how I intend to pull this off, I actually use the site http://www.howtostudykorean.com. It's absolutely excellent. The guy actually taught himself Korean, and then created this website to share the method he used. Also, its completely free, G-d bless him. Right now I can recognize simple Korean consonants and vowels, and if I try hard, I can put together simple syllables, like "han" or "so". Yah.  


BLOGGING SHTUFF  

7. I SHALT RESOLVE TO TRY FOR OVER 30,000 PAGEVIEWS THIS YEAR. 
I recently hit over 1,000 page views this past December, which is a huge deal for me. Furthermore, I also experienced my first sponsored posts and ads this past month. While I know that there are many seasoned bloggers out there who have been dealing with sponsors and ads for a while, working with sponsors personally finally had me realize that nothing is out of my reach. I started this blog out of nothing. Just an empty page with a handful of hopeful words. But over time it has grown to include some wonderful readers, some amazing friends, and even a chance to be paid for my writing. Getting sponsored on your own blog, even if it is just babysitting money for now, is about the biggest compliment a writer can receive; and it is also a proof that absolutely nothing is out of our reach, if we believe in ourselves enough. 

8. I SHALT RESLOVE TO FIND AND GO TO AT LEAST ONE BLOGGERS' EVENT. 
I have no idea where to find one. If any if y'all know where I can find one, please do let me know. 

9. I SHALT RESOLVE TO AWAKEN MY PINTEREST. 
'Twas sleeping until now, because Cynical Duchess was too busy paying attention to her Instagram and Twitter to give little Pinterest any attention. But this needs to change. Sometime. 


THE BIGGIE

10. I SHALT RESOLVE TO KEEP MY ROOM AT A LEVEL OF CLEANLINESS WHERE THE FLOOR WILL ACTUALLY BE VISIBLE. 
 'Nuff said. 


What are your resolutions for 2017? 
Leave a comment below! 

Love,
Cynical Duchess
PS-- Thanks RH for the pics! 


Sunday, December 25, 2016

5 QUICK UNIQUE GIFT IDEAS FOR THE REALLY LAST MINUTE*

Pic taken from Pinterest. Post sponsored and inspired by *Apparel Candy.

       I realize that I am publishing this post on the second night of Chanukah, christmas day, and the day before kwanzaa begins. Yes, I am aware. There is however a reason for this. You see, I can sometimes be one of those people-- you know the type-- the type that waits until the very last minute to get a gift-- the type that wraps up the present an hour before the party begins--yah, that type. And while there are many gift guides out there for the DIY friendly, those disgustingly annoying people who come skipping into your house with some cutesy, Pinterest-looking object that seems like it's worth $50, but upon further inquiry, is revealed to be something said annoying DIY person simply cobbled together out of cotton balls and twine-- I hate those people-- there aren't that many gift guides for the lazy, can't be bothered, degenerates of the world. *Ahem* me. 

       Let me put out a disclaimer here however-- just because something is done at the spur of the moment, does not necessarily mean that there was no thought or love put into it. Sometimes, the best ideas happen to be the most impulsive ones; and while it is always better to plan things in advance, and indeed, time and effort do usually have a better payoff, sometimes, one really does not have time to craft or buy presents until the literal last minute. Which is when my gift guide comes in handy. I feel so smug right now. Well then here you go-- 5 quick, easy and cheap gift ideas for the degenerates who waited until the 2nd night of Chanukah, christmas day, and the day before kwanzaa. Onward:

I. WRITE THEM A POEM/SONG
Taken from Pinterest
        I know not everyone is musically inclined. And I also know that writing isn't everyone's thing. But if it is something that you like to do, writing a funny or heartfelt poem or song to someone you love, or at least like--can actually garner a very positive outcome. I know that one of my friends wrote a beautiful song for me once, she even set it to piano, and when she sang it for me, I can honestly say that it was one of the most heartfelt gifts I had ever received. Therefore, if you find yourself with a few moments to spare today, simply sit down, and pour out the words onto that paper. Set it to a jingle if you like, or perhaps try to make up your own tune. You don't even need to make it a song-- create a free verse poem for all I care! But in any case, since you have found yourself in the predicament where it is the actual holiday right now as we speak, and you still have no present, writing a creative poem or song for that person you appreciate (hopefully), is definitely a quick, cheap and heartfelt gift. Then after the person oohs and aahs over your poem and starts looking around for your actual gift, you can then tell him/her that the real thing is, er, coming in the mail. (That will give you a bit of time. Also, please see number 5 on this list). 

II. PHOTO IN A MASON JAR 

Taken from Pinterest
This one is too simple to function. I guess this actually comes under ones of those annoying DIY projects that looks like you spent $50, when in reality, you spent almost nothing. Here's what you do-- you take a mason jar, if you don't have one, well, why? Well then I guess you can refer to #1. OH WHATEVER. Take the mason jar, and insert a photo of you and the person you want to give this mason jar to. I mean, you don't have to put a picture of you and that person, you could, in fact, put a picture of a cactus inside, I mean do what you want. But making things personal is preferable. Then, go into your mother's pantry, and locate the oil. If you have no oil--WELL THEN WHAT KIND OF HUMAN ARE YOU?  Then please refer to #1. Fill up the mason jar and picture, with the oil that you have in your pantry, perhaps put a sprig of lavender as well, just like the picture shows--and screw up the lid. (That part is very important). You now have an awesome $50 looking present which you made in 5 minutes, and cost you almost nothing. You're welcome. 

III. I O U FAVOR CARDS

Taken from Pinterest

Don't you dare tell me that you wouldn't want to receive a packet of these. I mean, imagine if your roommate or sibling handed an envelope to you on the holidays. And inside the envelope was a voucher for a ten minute massage, a take-out-the-trash gift certificate, and an I'll organize your room ONCE coupon. Don't tell me that won't make your year. I mean, it would make my life. As for the packaging-- since this is a gift where it is REALLY the thought that counts, you can make it as cutesy or as degenerate as you want it to be. If you have more time, create and print some cute vouchers online. A good website to do this would be Canva.com. It is basically graphic design for clueless people, mostly free, where you can design whatever flyer/poster/twitter header you want. Or you can just grab some construction paper and sharpies and go crazy. Whatever it is, this gift will take you ten minutes to prepare MAX. And it's basically free. Except you are basically enslaving yourself to your roommate and/or sibling. Moving on.   


IV. JAR OF CANDY
Taken from Pinterest

This one will literally take you 5 minutes. Find a jar, find some candy, and fill 'er up. If you don't have candy or chocolates in your house-- do not fear-- Walgreens is open today! So go on over to the nearest drugstore near you and buy as much candy or chocolate as your heart desires. Then while you are at it, maybe pick up a cute container or mason jar, perhaps a nice hang tag or card, and you have the loveliest present that didn't take you like, 2 seconds to prepare, noooooo. Who would ever say such a thing like that?


V.  APPARELCANDY.COM* 


        This is probably one of the smartest ideas on here. Now mind you-- this is for lazy people who don't want to have to shop around a gazillion stores for a gazillion different gifts. This is Apparel Candy. It is a wholesale clothing website that specializes in fashion by the bulk. If you have a lot of family members, or a lot of high school friends that you haven't seen in a while, and you know that you want to get them a gift, but college is killing you, and the hunt for extremely cute and extremely cheap and extremely different items just aint gonna cut it for this year--then Apparel Candy is your answer. The website offers extremely affordable clothing and accessory options, which you can then buy in packs.  For example, this awesome navy blue sweater shown above comes in a pack of 6.  Six of these sweaters comes out to $60 total. As a Holiday gift, you have just spent $60 for 6 presents-- that comes out to $10 per person. And I think that's pretty awesome. Furthermore, it also saves you the time and energy that you would otherwise normally spend on going from shop to shop trying to find presents FOR EVERYBODY. Like this, with one click, you have finished with 6 people. 

Also, Apparel Candy happens to have a killer collection of sunglasses, so lets review those quickly:




To view these 'shades on the website, click HERE.

And that is all Lovelies!
I hope you enjoyed this post inspired by the spirit of The Last Minute. Thank you so much to Apparel Candy for inspiring this post with their website.
'till next Sunday,
Cynical Duchess

Have you ever given an extremely last minute gift?
Leave a comment below! 









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