Flat Lay Photography Prop Haul – My Current Instagram Feed Must Haves

Quarantine has positively challenged me to find ways to create content while stuck inside my house.

FIRST go here to see the giveaway I’m doing!!

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I’ve always had a fascination with flat lay photography and the way so many people on my instagram feed were able to style photos to be so stunning and well balanced. I’ve posted before some of my photography must-haves.

I also have a whole board over on my pinterest filled with all the links!

*note* I am in NO way an expert, I just find this kind of content fun to make, especially if you’ve been keeping up with my instagram 🙂

(all the links will be in the pinterest board above!)

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Related posts:

Instagram Aesthetic 101: how edit, plan my feed, etc.

Things you NEED to elevate your flat lay photography game!

Taking the next stop in photography.


Time for the haul!

– random bits & bobs –

I’ve had my eye on this rattan-like circle (normally used for setting the table) from Target for so so long. It took a while to finally get my hands on it because it was out of stock online for a while. Similarly, I got a pack of these four rattan-like coasters. I think both look really great on camera to add some texture!

A more random purchase was this glass measuring beaker. I thought it could be fun if I test out more recipes like the cold brew lemonade one I did here.

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– wooden trays –

Very recently, here in New Jersey, most stores have opened back up with a limited capacity. This meant that I could venture off to buy more home decor, not just from Target.

I bought the first one over at Home Sense and the second one from Home Goods. I didn’t plan at all to buy two wooden trays but both were so cute I couldn’t resist. I’m blaming all the stunning photos I see on my instagram feed with these aesthetic wooden trays.

I’m just imagining these now laid out on my bed with a nice cup of coffee, and maybe even a dairy free baked good. OOOOH!

I found a similar one on amazon as home goods/home sense doesn’t really sell online :/

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– bohemian mirrors –

I’ve had my eye on getting a cute boho mirror for photos, again, thanks instagram! Also that recent “tik tok trend” also blew up the whole idea of using mirrors for photos. Even just looking at these photos I quickly took gets me SO excited to play around with it, maybe a beach photoshoot? hmm we shall see. Stay tuned!

Big shoutout to my friend Mia who I was with shopping. I was debating hard core buying this mirror (it was only $20) and in the end she nudged me to just get it & I’m obsessed.

Here is a similar one I found on amazon.

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If you enjoyed this kind of content make sure to check out some of my similar posts here:

Instagram Aesthetic 101: how edit, plan my feed, etc., Things you NEED to elevate your flat lay photography game! & Taking the next stop in photography.

*disclaimer* some links are affiliate links

Lots of love,

foot

keep updated

with me on my journey

LIFE UPDATES! EXCITING FUTURE PLANS

I haven’t done a life update since this, where I went into a lot of detail with my future graduate school plans in Australia.

So if you haven’t read that, or haven’t been keeping up with me over on my instagram, then head here to get more of a back story on what I’m about to get into.

Gold star to those who have been keeping up with me and my life.

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Before we get into the exciting graduate school update,

What have I been up to the last month?

I live in New Jersey in the States and we have been one of the worst states with virus cases due to the close proximity to New York City. So I have been on lockdown since March 16th I think… super close to THREE MONTHS!

There have been some positives to all of this mess, I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with my cat, my parents and my brother (I go into this a lot more here). I’ve also gotten the time to really reflect on myself and my values and how I want to be a better friend to myself. Increasing my self awareness has really helped with that!

Has quarantine given you a lot of time to self reflect?

Besides family time & self reflection I really haven’t done a terrible amount. I have been working on this blog a lot over on pinterest and also trying to keep up with all my content over on my instagram. There’s been some baking here and there, ooo and some Chloe Ting workouts!!!! fun stuff!!

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Okay, now for the exciting part.


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My Masters Degree Plan

As I’m sure so many of you can relate, the virus has altered my future and left a lot of unknowns.

Last I spoke to you guys over here I mentioned that the original plan (as of early March 2020) was to move to Tasmania, Australia this coming July to start my two years masters program by research. Of course with the current state of the world and the endless border closures/travel restrictions, there is a slight hold on all of it.

soooo how is the virus altering plans exciting you might ask?

Well, it’s not. The exciting part is that with all of the extra time I’ve had, I’ve been able to finalize my research proposal and officially SUBMIT IT to the university in Australia. This research proposal was the FINAL step to submitting my application.

This application process was super weird to me where I technically got accepted to the university in Australia last year where I was told I qualified for this degree program. But once you qualify, the next step is teaming up with a professor to be your research supervisor. Once doing that, the student (that’s me!) comes up with the research plan from scratch! My proposed supervisor, of course, helped me but it was all on me to decide what specifically I wanted to research.

If you’re familiar with the scientific research world at all, it is very rare for a student who is fresh out of their undergraduate to get to specifically propose the research they want to carry out. Typically, especially with masters programs here in the States, the student will just tag along with an already existing project that the supervisor has already planned out.

So, for example, my back up plan was to work with a professor out at a university out in California and create a masters thesis with a data set that was already predetermined. It would have been a great opportunity, and a full ride scholarship, but at the end of the day it wasn’t what I was specifically interested in researching. In Australia, and I’m almost positive New Zealand too (correct me if I’m wrong), I was told we get to choose what we want to research and from there determine if it’s feasible.

So last year I was asked:

what do YOU want to research? what are YOU interested in?

& immediately I was so overwhelmed, yet so grateful. So grateful to feel trusted and capable of creating a two year full funded research project from scratch.

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Okay, okay, I’ve completed my application and I get to come up with my own project. What does that exactly entail?


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To sum it up:

My plan is to research the baseline thermal physiology of Australian fur seals using infrared thermography. We will be using infrared thermography (heat cameras) to see how heat is transferred around their bodies in their natural habitat.

At the moment, there is barely anything known on how Australian fur seals react to thermal stress. This becomes increasingly important with the growing need of answers due to climate change. In order to predict how our ecosystems will be altered in the future, we need to first understand how it is in their natural environment.

The hope is that Australia will open their border to international students by September (as the Australian economy really depends on us for their economy) and go from there. Of course nothing is certain, but I’m hopeful that I will be able to move to Tasmania by September the latest. This could work out as the Australian fur seal breeding season (so when I will be collecting data in the field) wouldn’t be till October anyway. Even if I can’t get into Australia by then, we have multiple backup plans (which really helps with my anxiety).

I hope that made sense.

I have a couple more mini life updates, but I didn’t want this post to be 2098092 paragraphs long as I could really talk forever.

Thanks so much if you read all that, I know it was a lot of words. I’m sorry to anyone who has had their future altered due to this pandemic mess. It’s a hard one.

foot

keep updated

with me on my journey

Things you NEED to elevate your flat lay photography game

I used to spend so much time scrolling through instagram being like “Wow, I want to do that. I want to be able to piece flat lays together!”. Like many things, it just got to a point where I was like ok now let’s try this out and see how it goes.

also, for reference:

flat lay is a picture taken from a birds eye view of a collection of items laid out on a flat surface. Usually there will be one item that is the main focus of the shot, all the other items in the flat lay are there to complement that piece.

thanks google
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I am in no way an expert, in fact, I’m a huge amateur. I guess delving into flat lay photography while being stuck at home has become another creative outlet for me. I go more into how I started getting into photograpy here.

First and foremost, I created a pinterest board containing my current flat lay must-haves! So check that out here. More recently I’ve realized how great of a tool pinterest is to link things in bulk.

Let’s break my list down!!!

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The equipment

The camera I’m using that I got maybe 3-4 years ago…. is the Nikon COOLPIX L830 16 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 34x Zoom NIKKOR Lens and Full 1080p HD Video (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer).

I also don’t really use any equipment other than my tripod (which I 10/10 recommend as it comes with the bluetooth remote & also an attachment to use for your Iphone). It’s super easy to use and it was super reasonable.

The backdrop

Although I’m very grateful to be living with my family during quarantine, there isn’t much space in the house to use to take photos… and as cringe as it is to say…. most of the house is too dark and doesn’t match my ideal aesthetic.

To fix that I bit the bullet and purchased a backdrop off etsy. I wasn’t too sure which one to go for but this one had great reviews and honestly it’s such great quality too. I really recommend this brand.

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The main props

Lately I’ve been using a couple main props that my flat lays focus around. As you can guess from my instagram, or from my past posts like Staying Organized in Quarantine, I love using coffee as the star of the show.

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Another favorite prop of mine is my Savor Life Planner which I’ve ranted about a bit in past posts. I not only love the function of it but how well they photograph. It also just reiterates how I thrive off productivity!

The filler props

These are just some examples of some of my favorite ones to use but head to my pinterest board to get the full list.

Okay, so

These macrame are everything. I always get so many questions about where I got them from and it makes me so happy because this artist is SO talented. I love not only functionally using these coasters at my desk, but also to add texture to my photos.

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Although I’d prefer to have real flowers and plants as props, Target just kills the game with all the fake flowers what can I say. They are super affordable.

The “brand” I guess from Target called Hearth & Hand has been coming out with so many cute basket kind of accessories and this one is my favorite as of now. A great addition to add dimension and texture into photos and also its just super cute.

What’s your opinion on flat lays?

What are your favorite photography props to use?

*disclaimer* some of these links are affiliate links, but not all. Thanks so much if you’ve read this far. I appreciate it so much.

Lots of love,

foot

A Glance into Honey and Roses Coffee Company

I recently sat down with Ella Jesmajian, co-founder of Honey & Roses Coffee Company, for a mini interview. As a customer of Honey & Roses, and a fellow coffee lover, I was really intrigued by the back story behind the business.

Furthermore, in a time like this, it’s reminded me how it’s extra important to shop small and shop sustainably!

Honey & Roses Coffee Co. is a coffee marketplace where you can find the highest quality coffee roasters from all around the United States. They also sell high quality, artisanal homeware along with other sustainable items, like there adorable travel cups!

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But beyond what they sell, they’ve created a community based off of coffee & travel: two of my favorite things!

So let’s learn about how Honey & Roses came to be, and maybe even where they’re going in the future.

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Tell me a little bit about the team behind Honey & Roses

At this time it’s myself and my partner Joe! We met a few years ago, as he is one of my closest friend’s husband. We are both big travelers and foodies and kept brainstorming businesses idea for fun. Somehow one day, while enjoying some Vietnamese noodles, Honey & Roses was born.  Joe’s the practical one and I’m not. I come up with the ideas and he executes them unlike anything I’ve ever seen. He brings me down to earth and vice versa and that has really been the key to our success. I think having a business partnership is similar to having a successful marriage. You have to communicate constantly, trust each other, complement each others differences and have fun!

I was born and raised in NY and Joe is from England. He had spent the last five years working in finance and I have been working in the restaurant industry. I think the polar opposite career paths have helped shape our business in more ways than one and that’s been really cool to watch unfold.

Ella Jesmajian, co-founder of Honey & Roses
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What were your goals when you first started? & was there anything specific you wanted to accomplish?

We just wanted to create a really high quality product and work with people who are passionate about their craft. I had always wanted to pursue design in someway or another. So our home line and reusable bottles were influenced heavily by my desire to create our own unique product. Joe and I really just wanted to create an online community. We want to offer more than just a bag of coffee in the mail. 

Which leads me into my next question of how do you pick the roasters to include in your marketplace?

It really depends. Many of our roasters were either coffee companies I had previously tried and loved. Or ones that were highly recommended to me. At this point, some roasters will reach out to us and that’s been a really gratifying shift to see. We would love to have roasters from all 50 states, so If a roaster is from a state we don’t currently carry, it heavily influences us in reaching out to try their coffee.

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All photos are taken from Honey & Roses

Let’s talk about the Honey and Roses Aesthetic: what was the main inspiration, because you clearly have an aesthetic (boho, beachy, etc.) How would you sum it up?

It’s such a blend. I would say it’s Moroccan, tropical, bohemian and contemporary. I have been heavily influenced by traveling and exploring the world. I love incorporating pieces of art and my travels in my home and office. And I think that translates to the business.

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I saw Honey and Roses did New York and San Francisco coffee festival last year, how was that?

It was awesome. We were just starting out and it was the first advertising and project we participated in. It was really gratifying to see something we were just creating come to life. You also get access to a very different customer base and it was amazing to see the real coffee drinkers, loving our newly founded brand and roasters coffee.

Would you do something like that again?

I think we would if it was safe. It was truly a blast and we learned a lot. I also have to give credit to Joe. I was in the hospital during the second festival and he handled it all on his own and never complained. It was really amazing to watch, even from a distance.

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There are a couple side projects I’ve seen stemming from Honey and Roses: Travel Blog (with recipes and other travel posts) and a go fund me page for COVID relief would you mind talking about them a bit?

We really wanted to create a community and blog from the beginning. We want to share more than just products with people and we felt like recipes would be a great place to start. We have created a few series, including coffee around the world. Highlighting a different coffee and breakfast recipe from a new country each week. This has been a really fun way to give people the experience of traveling, without leaving their homes. If you look at how Dalgona coffee spread across the globe in popularity, we hope to replicate that on a smaller scale and share fun new food and coffee recipes with our customers. 

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I mean I was on it (the blog) last night and I saw one that was a maple cold foam.. I was like omg I want to try that!

It’s truly amazing. It’s such a mix between sweet and savory and really compliments a more bitter and acidic cold brew perfectly.

you can check that recipe out here

Anything exciting coming ahead that you can hint to? I think you mentioned maybe expanding some of the homeware?

Yeah it’s just been quite difficult with everything going on in the world and we have been hit with several delays. We are planning on expanding our home collection and improving our coffee marketplace, but it will take time and funding. We have lots of projects and ideas in the works and will be launching a kickstarter campaign in the next couple of months.

Big thanks to Ella for sitting down with me, especially with everything going on right now in the world.

I hope you guys learned something ant that it even sparked your interest to go check these guys out!

You can find them here:

Website

Travel Blog

Instagram

Mini disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated or partnered with Honey and Roses Coffee Co in anyway, All photos belong to Honey and Roses.

If you liked this sort of content let me know down below or over on my instagram!

As always, thanks so much for your support.

Lots of love,

foot

Staying Organized in Quarantine: Why a Good Planner Makes All the Difference

One thing that has stayed a constant in my life the last 59 days of quarantine is how important structure is. Whether it’s just having a small to-do list or actually having blocks of time set aside for tasks. I just find that I feel more validated and put together if I have some sort of task to check off the list; I’m sure a lot of you can agree!!

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I’m not always in the “mood” to be organized and all that jazz. Not gonna lie, quarantine has been hard for me. That’s why this external source of validation (oops I go more into validation here) helps my day to day life.

If I could recommend one product to help you get not only your work or school life organized, but your mental and emotional self too is the Savor Life Planner. I’ve actually done a whole post on this planner already and how much it really applies to my daily life.

I’m big into planning, what a surprise!!

Love the style of mine? The style I am currently using is their Executive Planner in black. ***not a sponsored post but these are affiliate links***

Love that cute little cup? Check that out here it’s by Honey & Roses Coffee.

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Why having a planner can be beneficial to you

  1. Complete tasks faster: Think about it, all of your tasks are written in one common spot. You’re more likely to see them and think about what you have to get done. As a result you’ll slowly do each task one by one and all of a sudden you’re done! woo!!
  2. Set priorities: Visualizing your tasks also helps you prioritize tasks and see which ones are more important over others.
  3. Lower stress: All of your important information is in a common spot. You will spend less time worrying about if you forgot something because it’s all its all written down together.
  4. Increase self awareness: It’s no surprise that when you write things down it’s easier to organize your thoughts and piece things together. This planner has a section at the beginning of every week that I love called “Detox your brain”.

Delving more into self awareness for a bit, you will also learn more about your personal behavior and situational correlations (I love science). Being able to piece together how you’re emotions are in relation to your behavior can be super beneficial. Understanding why you’re acting a certain way can help you come to terms with it in the first place.

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It’s also important to remember to not rely on planning and take things more so with a grain of salt. I struggle with this a lot. I get attached to what I think “should have” happened.

Planning is super important, but you should only be dedicating a fraction of your day to setting things up and checking things out. If you are spending hours upon hours building structure and you are frustrated, please stop!

taken from planningmindfully.com

One of my few quarantine goals is to try and let go of things more easily. I have a habit of getting attached.

I hope this was at least a bit helpful! It was kind of a mini rant but honestly planning has really helped me find a purpose during these last couple months. Hope all of you and your loved ones are safe 🙂

If you’re on the look-out for more content head over to my instagram or check out some similar posts I’ve done:

The fear that no one will read your blog

How to find validation in yourself: part two

The Quarantine Tag: how I’ve been spending my quarantine

Thanks so much if you’ve read this far. I appreciate it so much.

Lots of love,

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5 things you NEED to make the best coffee at home

Let’s be real, making coffee at home can get intimidating. There’s so many different products and techniques to go about brewing at home. You could just go the simple route and use a keurig or another kind of machine that makes the coffee for you but where’s the fun in that?

I’m here to help make it simple.

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My method of choice is pour over. It’s as simple as it sounds: you pour hot water over coffee grinds and that’s it for the most part. Of course there are actual techniques to do the pour over method properly (like wetting the filter before hand, letting the grinds bloom, etc). If you’re interested in a detailed post about pour over techniques let me know!!

First and foremost you’re going to need to choose if you want to tackle whole beans or already pre-ground coffee. Pre-ground coffee does really decrease the flavors and quality of the coffee (in my opinion). I chose to purchase whole beans and ground them by the cup before each use.

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1.Coffee Scale

I use the Hario V60 Drip Coffee Scale.

HA! you can tell I don’t clean mine very often… oopsies.

A battery-powered, lightweight scale that precisely weighs out my preferred coffee bean to water ratio. It is a bit pricier but after the amount of people who recommended this to me I couldn’t help but want to test it out. I didn’t use one for the longest time (as you can also weigh out your beans and water by volume) but this has been a GAME CHANGER in increasing my precision.

I felt that doing pour over by volume instead of weight was really just me eyeballing how much water to use and crossing my fingers hoping it turned out okay. Furthermore, measuring coffee by volume didn’t make much sense to me (here comes my science background) because different roasts and beans of different origins have different densities. Anyway, do what makes you happy!!! This is just my methodology of choice.

2.Coffee Grinder

I use the manual burr coffee grinder by Zulay Kitchen. Although I have worked with them in the past over on my instagram, this is not affiliated in any way.

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The perfect, balanced cup of coffee starts with accurate tools so I can definitely recommend this grinder for you to try. It’s the perfect durable and budget friendly grinder (its only $14 right now). With the adjustable grind settings it’s helped each bean grind consistently so the flavor gets captured evenly throughout. It’s also super quiet so it helps when I’m up early in the morning for my first cup of the day.

In the past I used a different grinder without anyway to adjust the settings so I was kinda just spitballing it. As you can guess, that didn’t turn out the greatest for me as each grind was a different size and shape…… so let’s stick to a grinder with settings shall we!!!!

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3.Cleaning Brush

I use one by Bretani.

Don’t you just get frustrated when you can’t get the last of the coffee grounds out of your grinder?

This cheap $5 purchase has really helped me fix that issue. It’s super budget friendly and obviously aims to clean your grinder as well! Just a little tool to help you out along the way.

4.Pour Over Coffeemaker

I use the Chemex 6-cup glass pour over coffee maker.

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When I first started really caring about the quality of my coffee at home, I got a much cheaper pour over maker to start. But once the day came where my brother accidentally shattered it, I knew it was a sign to drop a bit more money to get the one that was better quality. My thought process in choosing a Chemex is that I always saw them for sale at my local coffee shops, so I guess that planted the seed.

Nonetheless, I have only good things to say about it. Chemex does sell smaller ones (like 3-cup) and also larger ones (like 8-cup). They are made of a super sturdy glass. I’ve had mine for months now and I never ran into any issues with scratches or cracks or anything. It’s just a great classic coffee maker.

5.Pour Over Filters

After trial & error, I can whole-heartedly recommend purchasing the paper filters made, in fact, for the Chemex.

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Unfortunately it seems they are sold out on amazon but I get mine at my local whole foods! These filters are super sturdy and I’ve never had them fall through or break in the middle of a pour (which has happened to me with other filters).

Also there is a much more sustainable route with reusable filters but I have yet to find one of those I like using. So any recommendations let me know in the comments!!

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There you have it! My 5 must haves to make the perfect cup of coffee at home (besides the coffee)!

*NOTE* the amazon links are affiliate links! So using them does support me and my coffee addiciton.

Let me know if you’d be interested in a detailed post of my favorite roasters and blends to enjoy at home! I did a mini one over on my instagram.

What are your essentials to have at home to make your morning cup?

Lots of love,

foot

How to find validation within yourself: part two

This is part two of this post about finding validation within yourself. The first post focused mostly on the first step I took on my journey for self validation: self-awareness. As you can guess, becoming aware of your thought processes and emotional reactions to things is the first step to grow beyond them.

Last night I found myself researching more into the mechanisms of why I could rely so heavily on external validation. So let’s call part two….

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Research: The Why

Why do I need other people’s approval to feel whole?

Why do I chase after acceptance & validation?

Why does it all define me so much?

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A lot of the articles I came across started with this need for external validation stems from your childhood/early years. I am no expert (as I study marine organisms for a living, not people) but I can totally see this being correct as our early years really shape our brain’s functions and thought processes.

When you are a small child whose whole existence and well-being depends on others, rejection actually equals existential death. And since we are constantly hurt, invalidated, and rejected in many overt and highly subtle ways as children, a lot of us grow up into wounded and self-less adults whose self-perception is skewed or blurry.

taken from psych central

Now I can’t really pin point this to coincide with my childhood but I do remember getting hurt very easily by rejection, or by being an outcast.

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A very personal life example: my work life

At first I didn’t think I ever wanted to get into this, but I feel this example genuinely encompasses how my need for approval has shaped parts of my personal life. Also, maybe some other people out there can relate to this.

I kind of mentioned the back story to this job I had earlier this year here, but I’ll give a quick run down. Basically, I had a job where I dug my self perception down a dark path. I fully let the opinions & possible thoughts of my coworkers control the thoughts and views I had of myself. Whatever opinion I thought they could’ve felt towards me, was what I felt I actually was. If I felt that they thought I was too loud that day, then I was too loud & I had to then adjust my personality to be more quiet. If I felt that they thought I was too opinionated towards something, then I would shut my mouth for the rest of that shift & the next couple shifts to come. I outcasted myself when instead I thought I was adjusting my personality to fit in.

One, they constantly need other people’s approval and validation to feel that they are a good person, to feel pleasant emotions, or to even feel alive. And two, they feel shame or guilt or anger or loneliness or anxiety or confusion or other painful emotions when someone disapproves of and invalidates them, which then often leads to dysfunctional behavior to manage all of it.

taken from psych central

Now let’s elaborate on that one thought “I was adjusting my personality to fit in.”

As a coping mechanism, some individuals become people-pleasers who are afraid to be their true selves or take care of themselves. 

taken from psych central
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By the end of my time with this company, I lost sight of what core values I believed in. I lost sight of who I knew I was. Since I knew I didn’t complete fit in with my coworkers, it ate away at me for months & spilled over into my life outside of work too; I was an anxious mess. In order to get through each shift I would have to read a list of mantras on my phone to remind myself to keep quiet, to not be too opinionated, & to not act too overbearing.

Because of my reliance on others’ approval, I let that shape who I actually was in those four walls. Of course it is no one’s fault but my own.

It usually starts out as a logical tactic. We gain others’ approval, make them happy for a moment, and feel pretty good about ourselves. It seems like the perfect path to take—and it’s one we can continue on for many years, believing it’s reducing our anxiety about disapproval in our daily lives. 

taken from psychology today

Up until this year, I didn’t realize that I was caught in a feedback loop leaning on others for their opinions and thoughts of me; I have been conditioned to aim for that validation. Each time I felt validated by my coworkers’ opinions and thoughts of me, my brain released dopamine of some sort. It felt good and rewarding so I kept going back to it and aimed for that specific feeling. I was comfortable with that feedback loop because that’s what I was used to; that was all I knew.

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But there will come a time when the constant seeking of approval—the very solution to our problems—will run its course. And that very behavior that brought us so many feelings of accomplishment will become the problem itself. 

taken from psychology today

Being able to pin point my need for external validation on my more recent life experiences, makes it feel so much more real. It becomes more apparent how vital it is that I come to terms with it all now. Only from there can I grow and reshape my thought processes surrounding approval and validation.

I’m still becoming more aware of the times in my daily life, or past life, that I’ve fallen into this feedback loop. Only now am I coming to terms with how much of this can shape my day-to-day life. I’m still figuring all this out.

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So thank you for taking the time to read this. It will not be the easiest for me to open up about this.

Join me on my journey by hitting that follow button. We’re in this together.

Lots of love,

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Top 3 things I look for when choosing a coffee shop

Quality coffee is important to me. Also, I don’t want to waste my money on bad, burnt, and watery coffee.

We all know that coffee can get expensive too so here are some of the things I really look at before choosing where to spend my money and give my time. I especially look for all of these things when traveling.

Before I get into it, I have posted a lot about my favorite places on my instagram.

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If I had to pick one thing I always always do and make of is this first thing.

  1. Their social media presence (especially instagram)!! I know theres the whole thing about not judging a book by its cover but seriously, think about it: if you go on a coffee shop’s instagram and you see they are being tagged in a lot of photos… what does that tell you? and most importantly, if you see lots of photos of latte art… what does that tell you?

It sure tells me that:

  1. Customers find their experience good enough to post about.
  2. Their baristas are well trained if they are able to get the perfect micro-foam with espresso-based beverages. If I see a lot of photos showcasing the barista’s talent & precision, I find that very appealing. I typically do not go for cafes where every coffee drink is hidden in whipped cream and syrup.

Once looking at a cafe’s aesthetic visually, I usually will then see if they have a website to look at a menu.

2. Their menu!! I know not every cafe has a menu posted, and not that it is a necessary thing either. But again, it helps me get a feel for how the shop views quality. If the menu is filled with lots of sugary syrups and other fillers to hide the quality of the coffee, I am most likely not interested. UNLESS it seems that they make their own syrups or use more natural sweeteners for their drinks.

This is a huge thing to get a feel of a cafe once you first walk into it too. What’s their menu like? What care do they put into creating their menu?

This last thing is more geared towards once you get to the cafe.

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3. The overall experience you get when walking in!! What is the vibe you’re getting? What kind of tools are behind the counter to ensure quality? If a barista is making coffee, what are they doing? what sounds do you hear when they are frothing milk for an espresso? does it sound like a dying cat, or does it sound like a smooth hum?

I think of these things once I enter a cafe. Even if they had a great social media and online presence, if I walk in and I see, feel or hear things that don’t give me a good feeling I will save my money and go somewhere else 🙂

I just wanted to mention that this post is inspired by one I saw last week. I really enjoyed reading it so here’s my take on the topic.

Do you guys look at a shop’s social media before going? Is that important to you?

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Thanks for reading. I’m hoping to post a lot more coffee guides like this one of cities and other places I’ve travelled around to.

Let me know what you think!

Lots of love,

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i tried that trending whipped coffee (but made it vegan/refined sugar free)

I tried this trend a little while ago but it was definitely something different! Basically if you haven’t seen this all over social media its Dalgona Coffee/Whipped Coffee. Theres only three ingredients and it originated in Korea I think.

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All you need is:

  • hot coffee (or I used hot coffee, my favorite coffee right now is Deovcion over in Brooklyn)
  • instant coffee (I used trader joe’s instant colombian coffee)
  • some sort of sweetener (I was planning on using coconut sugar but didn’t realize I was out so I used maple syrup for a more natural sweetener)

All of the recipes I’ve seen recommend equal parts of all three of those things (I did 1Tbsp each). All you do is throw it in a bowl and whip it, or if you’re lucky use an electric mixer! It took a while even with my electric mixer for the consistency to turn foamy and airy.

I used a liquid sweetener which does work but if I used normal cane sugar I easily would have gotten a thicker foam (but you do you). I was curious to see if I could take my own spin on what was going around.

I would say overall this was a successful experiment. You could easily adjust the recipe to fit your dietary preferences.

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Although, the real question is did I actually like it?

To answer it quickly: nope!

My main reasoning is the whip itself (which they say to pour it over some kind of milk and ice) is really potent. Me using hot coffee instead of hot water definitely contributed to it, but mainly it’s cause I never put sweetener in my coffee. I’m use to either black coffee or something like a flat white but I’d have it as is with just the milk and the espresso.

If sweeter, trendier coffee is your thing, then yeah try this out.

Or even if you’re super bored and looking for an easy DIY, then yeah try this out.

Let me know if you’ve tested out this trend and if you liked it below!

Lots of love,

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Moving to Tasmania for Grad School: why Tasmania?

I mentioned I was going to do this sort of explanation post here and this is inspired by my explanation of why I chose New Zealand to study abroad here.

Quick back story: I graduated from the University of Maine with a bachelors in Marine Science (concentration in marine biology if that matters) last May. The last (almost) year I’ve been living home saving up and waiting to head to graduate school to get my masters.

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Okay now that we’re caught up let’s get to why Tasmania out of all places.

The story starts back in October 2018, my fall semester of my senior year of college. About this time is when I knew for sure I wanted to go get my masters in marine research and I sort of had an idea on what kind of research. I sent out emails to maybe 30 different professors all around the world asking if they had any room in their labs for a masters student. Over the course of couple months, probably over 100 emails including circling back to different people, I heard back from a couple professors.

Along the lines of me wanting to move to NZ for a semester (here) , moving to another country or across the world was definitely in the question for me. When researching what professors to reach out to, I was the most interested in the poles (Arctic & Antarctic). I always had a fascination with the colder, more desolate places (hence, me vacationing to Alaska almost every summer with my family growing up). Those areas were almost always the least studied, and had the most questions to be answered. Furthermore with climate change and all that jazz, the poles are going to be the first regions to be severely affected.

I became determined to research in the regions that still had so many unknowns. I want to conduct my own research that will make a difference in the world (cheesy but true).

Okay, so now we know the cold areas are the way to go, but why Tasmania, Australia then?

Amidst searching for professors to contact, and going through insanely cool publications, I came across the University of Tasmania. For those who are unsure (it’s ok if you are), Tasmania is an island state of Australia. The University of Tasmania has research connections to Antarctica.

How much more cold and desolate could you get than Antarctica?

Many professors in their Marine and Antarctic research department have conducted their very own research in Antarctica, and also have contributed to many publications surrounding extremely interesting topics.

More specifically, the interesting topics they conducted research on was seals. I have grown an extreme love and fascination for seals. It grew especially when I had the insane opportunity to be a summer intern up in Alaska and take care of harbor seal pups and sea otter pups. It’s still insane to me that I got to do that as a freshman in college, a time when I was so naive.

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*these are New Zealand fur seals i saw in Kaikoura, NZ*

Anyway, go past me! wooo!! I came across a few professors at the University of Tasmania who did research on seals, sea lions, penguins, etc. all around Australia, NZ, Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic Islands.

Not only with seals, but will many many organisms, not much is known on how they are, or will, cope with climate change (the rising temperatures, increased storms, etc). Which creates an even bigger need for scientists to have some fun in some and figure it all out. Because if we don’t know, or can’t predict how organisms will cope to the change, we could very easily screw up every ecosystem in existence (dramatic but true).

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So long story short: I have been talking with a professor at the University of Tasmania since October 2018 about conducting my masters degree in Marine & Antarctic research alongside her. More recently we’ve determined that for accessibility purposes it would make the most sense to start researching Australian fur seals in my first year of my masters. Then, in my second year of research, depending on the results of the first round of data, maybe include other species too. It’s taken this long to figure out everything because….

  1. If I want to research seals in the Southern Hemisphere (specifically Australian fur seals), their breeding season, aka their most active time of the year, is in October
  2. It makes the most sense to start my degree at the beginning of semester & Aus/NZ semesters are not Spring/Fall they are semester’s 1 & 2. Semester 1 starts around Feb and semester 2 starts around July.
  3. I wanted enough time before the seal breeding season starts to prep my methodology and background
  4. I needed enough time after I graduated from my undergrad in May 2019 to get a student visa and move across the world
  5. I wanted enough time to breathe

*breathe*

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Hence, I will hopefully still be starting my Masters by Research in Tasmania at the start of their semester 2 this coming July. I am planning to research the baseline thermal physiology of Australian fur seals and maybe their heat flux. –> So how they handle temperature changes & heat, how they produce it, how they get rid of it and how they cope with it.

I think this is the most cohesive way I’ve ever explained all this so gold star for me! I hope this makes sense.

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