my new glasses | eyebuydirect.com


Since the start of my blogging journey, and even some time before then, I would constantly find myself wondering "What camera are they using to take this pictures? The quality is insane!". I would even sometimes reach out to some of the bloggers I would come across and vocalize my question to them... Most of the time I got no response - whether that be because they were too "popular" of a blogger or they were simply just one of those people who hated sharing any sort of information pertaining to their content for whatever reason. 

Sure, the first conclusion I came to was reasonable, maybe some just didn't have the time. But, for the most part, I felt it was always the latter of the two. I never understood that sort of mentality to be completely honest, hell I still don't know! What's so difficult about answering such a harmless question? 

I've always been more of a simple girl when it comes to the layout of my pictures, sticking to the basics and just focusing on the one product itself. The flat lays are gorgeous and I envy all of you with the creativity and patience to figure out such an eye-catching display, but let's be real - if I attempted that, I would no longer have a camera to even take pictures. My camera would be lying in a heap of broken pieces after me throwing it at a wall as a result of frustration. 

My "Blogging Picture Kit" (that's really not even a kit because it's literally only 2-3 things) consists of my camera, which the model and brand will be discussed in a second, my backdrop - if we can even call it that, and sometimes my tripod. Before we proceed, this is a mess of a situation and is very much on the frugal side of the spectrum. But hey, it works! 



THE CAMERA 


The camera I use is the Canon Rebel T5. It's an entry level camera, but it works fantastic! I got this as a 21st birthday present to myself, had I not been so impatient and waited to save $200 more I would've definitely went for the T5i. The T5 is great, especially if you have a good lens on it, but the swivel screen that the T5i has is something I would've liked to have. 


This is the 18-55mm lens. It's a kit lens that comes with the T5. I rarely ever use it just because I don't like the quality it gives me. I'm sure if I took the time to find out the correct settings for it, it would work swell! 


This baby right here is the 50mm. Unlike the 18-55mm lens, this is sold separately. It's actually a relatively cheap lens compared to others and it's one I would recommend investing in! The picture quality it gives off is so amazing. I know there are definitely better lenses out there, but for my current budget this gives me the payoff I want and I'm so satisfied. You can check out the photography tab on the top of my blog to get an idea of how this lens takes pictures.


THE BACK DROP 


This handy little "backdrop" is actual just a simple, little poster board you would use for a school project. You can pick up one from your local dollar tree for just 50 cents. It's light and flexible making it very practical. My last one lasted a while, only getting dirty and bent due to my lack of care for it. I'd kind of just throw it anywhere after I was done with it, but there's always an option and getting a few coins to pick up a new one! 


Here's a sample of how the backdrop looks. The lens is standing up and the poster board gives an all around coverage and the bend in it is no where to be seen. 

HOW I EDIT


I only use two apps to edit, both are free and on your iphone. VSCO Cam and PicsArt. VSCO is used for the filter and the picture adjustments in general. I use PicsArt to correct any discoloration or say my nails are chipped in a picture, I'll use the clone tool on PicsArt to fill it in for a more kept look. 




The 3 pictures above show the settings I use 99% of the time. If i use a filter, it's always either A6 or HB2 and the sharpness is always upped to +2. The other settings - exposure, contrast and temperate are never the same, it all depends on the picture. Aside from those three settings just mentioned, I typically stray away from messing with the other ones. 

There you have it! That's the camera I use, how I get a white background and the filters I use. You definitely don't need a dslr by any means, if you have an iphone, it'd work just as fine! 

what i use to shoot & edit


easy diy denim chokers


yesstyle beauty box


green door

the female take over

beautycon los angeles


Just a fair warning, if you didn't already catch if from the very obvious caption, we're going to be discussing periods. Aka there will be words like blood, vagina, and flow being said. If you aren't into that, now is your time to escape. 


NOTE: IGNORE THE LINT ON THE CUPS, THEY WERE ROLLING AROUND AS I WAS ATTEMPTING TO TAKE THE PHOTOS AND EVERYTHING SEEMED TO WANT TO ADHERE TO THE MATERIAL.  IT WAS PROPERLY CLEANED BEFORE I STARTED TO USE IT.



Since starting my period at 13, I don't think I've ever been excited for my cycle to start. I've always dreaded it - you feel gross, it's a mess and it's just a complete nuisance overall. 

I can't believe this is being said, but that all changed this past week. At the start of the month, a girl I followed on Twitter actually suggested transitioning over from tampons to menstrual cups. I had heard of the cups before, but I had never done any research about it at all. With my curiosity being sparked, I went to Twitter and searched "menstrual cup" and doing the same on Google as well. The amount of hype, positivity and success stories surrounding this item was insane. It had been made out to be this magical, life changing product. And of course me being me, I HAD to try one out. 


I'm using the LENA Cup in small. LENA offers two different sizes - a small one and a big one. When I received them in the mail, I was so hype. You guys don't understand how much I had wanted to just use it then and there. Waiting for my cycle to arrive this month consisted of me on Google or youtube searching up the best folding methods, tips for first time users and just educating myself on it in general. In the videos and threads on websites I read, everyone made sure to point out that it'll take a couple cycles for you to learn to correctly insert it and things likes that. I won't lie, I was pretty confident going into because I felt with all the research I had done, I had prepared myself enough and learned from everyone else's mistakes. Boy, was I wrong. 


A day before my actual period came, I decided to do what is called a "dry run". Basically, just trying out the cup before your cycle started. The first couple attempts I made were horrifying. I was in so much pain and I had clearly underestimated how much you actually would have to practice to get it right. I kept trying different folds, sometimes it would pop open whilst I was attempting to insert it because I'd lie grip - I literally felt like I was giving birth (I've never given birth, I'm just being dramatic.). The pain that I felt nearly put me off of continuing to try and figure it out. After having out myself through enough trauma for the night, I had decided I'd wait until my period actually started to give it one more shot. 


When it finally started, I was pretty nervous and obviously that's tends to tighten your muscles up down there making it difficult to work with. Once I got myself to relax as best as I could, I put some water on the cup to lubricate it, folded it in half and held it in place until it was inserted. Surprisingly, this time around it went in with no problems at all. There was a bit of discomfort, but no where near what I had been feeling the previous day. The only thing I have to say about it is you can feel that it's there, but that's only because it's a foreign feeling and all you're thinking about is how you have this little silicone cup suctioned up inside your vagina. Overtime that'll go away, after about the 3rd insertion, it wasn't something that was bothering me anymore. 


The process of taking it out is definitely a lot more hard to get the hang of than it is inserting it. Basically what you do is tug on the stem lightly and bear down as if you were having a bowel movement so you're pushing the cup down enough to be able to feel the base. 


The base has ridges on it making it easier to keep a grip. Once you've got a good hold on the base, you're going to want to squeeze it to let some air in through the little holes at the top thus leading to it releasing the suction. 


This is where the tough part comes in, you're going to want to try your best to fold it in way that won't spill the blood, but also comfortable enough for you to remove it without tugging harshly against your walls. Unfortunately for me, it's taking some time to get that part down, but as time goes on and I get some more practice I'll be totally fine and the whole process will be done in the snap of a finger. To insert I use the C-fold, as shown below, to take it out I use the punch-down fold. Both these folds plus others can be found on the LENA cup website along with photos and instructions. 


Just a side note, the cup does come with a cute little pouch to store it in, in between your cycles! 





HOW EACH DAY WENT

DAY 1: After learning to finally insert it properly, it was smooth sailing. Though I was aware it was there, I felt like a new woman! No leaks at all. 

DAY 2: This day was a little rough. The thing with menstrual cups is, it's hard to gauge how heavy your flow is. With tampons, you're like okay I'll need x many for this day, but it's so much different with the cup. This day was filled with lots of leaks.

DAY 3: Still leaks. Finally realized it wasn't because I was inserting it wrong, the reasoning behind it was because I needed the bigger sized cup. I was too scared to use the larger cup because I was just finally getting use to the smaller one, so I decided to just empty it more frequently throughout the day. 

DAY 4: Flow was finally slowing down and didn't experience any leaks. I was faced with another problem though - usually on the last two days my flow will lighten up, be medium and then completely lighten up. During the light times, I was contemplating taking it out and just using my tampons because I had this irrational fear about it hurting me again as it did when I did the first dry run. Obviously, there's a lot less lubrication up there compared to the first 2 days so it's just something I'll have to get comfortable with doing. 

DAY 5: AKA this morning. When I woke up and took the cup out there was barley a drop in it so I decided I would take that out and just use the tampons I had left over so they wouldn't go to waste (or that's the lie I'm going with to feel less annoyed with myself). 

Overall, I love the LENA Cup and the idea of menstrual cups as a whole. It's definitely a big thing that'll take some time to get use to, especially if you aren't very familiar with your body. But that's also one of its perks, it helps you become educated and forces you to learn and explore parts of yourself you probably wouldn't normally. During my next cycle I will definitely be keeping it in all 5 days - with the knowledge and new found confidence with it, it'll get a lot easier. 

TIPS 

You will get frustrated, but whatever you do don't give up. If you're causing yourself discomfort, stop immediately and try again another day. 

Lubricate the cup. You don't need anything some ail, water will work just fine. Trust me - it'll help a lot! 

Once you've successfully inserted it 2 times, the  rest are a breeze! It becomes a habit. 

Get the right size. You don't want one that's too small for you, but you don't want one that's too big either. Don't go off of what I have or what your friend has, everyone is different. You can contact LENA directly and they can assist you in ordering the correct size. 

I would suggest wearing a liner for your first couple of cycles, just until you're sure you've fully got the hang of it.

There are tons of different folding techniques - all of which can be found on Google. I personally use the traditional C fold, but again like I've said, everyone is different and every fold won't be comfortable for everyone. 

Cutting the stem. This is completely up to you and want you are comfortable with. I personally am going to keep the stem as is just because I feel a lot safer knowing I have that sort of anchor there to help me with removing it. Some people cut completely off and some just cut a little, it's so let up to you. 


Do any of you use menstrual cups or ever thought of switching over to using one? 

periods & menstrual cups

little girl blue


my eyebrow routine



happy 2nd birthday, the ugly girls club!

red lips & silk tops


the hammer museum


luminess air: the airbrushing kit


bts of my first photoshoot


change is good, change is needed



Dear Andrew, 

April 19th, what a special day indeed. 

It's crazy to think someone of only 24 years could posses all the accomplishments, goals and qualities that you do. (It's even crazier to think I'm writing this letter to you - the young teenage me that use to always fight her older brother is cringing inside). 

Growing up we never had the best relationship, we'd fight and argue like it was our job and we could never spend more than a few minutes around each other with out wanting to gouge each others eyes out. But with the bad times, good times were always close behind. 

Remember that time we raced at the park to see who was the fasted? Obviously I was. I won and all you did was go on and on about how you'd win in a short distance race "let's do short distance and see who wins then!" - still would've been me, let's be honest. Or what about the time you conned me into holding a paper up whilst we took turns jabbing that pencil into it? OH WAIT. We didn't take turns, did we? You got to have all the fun and I was left with that huge pencil jabbed into my leg! Oh! Or what about the time I was trying to make mom her Mother's Day present in 5th grade and ended up slicing my thumb open and having to be rushed to the hospital while you held the towel around my hand in the back seat? Definitely wasn't good in the moment, but it's hilarious to look back on. 

You work your butt off to be someone I can look up to, and trust me, you have and  continue to accomplish that flawlessly. The support you show and give me on a daily basis is the only thing that keeps me going most days. In the moments when I'm so close to giving up, you're the one and only thing that pops into my mind. You're constantly inspiring and pushing me to become a better me, without even knowing it most of the time. 

Thank you for always telling your friends about my blog and sharing all the sweet things they say about it with me. (If any of Andrew's friends are reading this now, thank you!! All the nice things you say make me smile.) 

Thank you for always letting me tag along with you and Alyna for the day and making me feel included. You know hanging out with my own friends and going out is really hard for me due to my anxiety, so it's nice to be able to feel safe and enjoy myself every so often with you two. 

Thank you for always making me laugh and being there to help me gang up on mom and everyone else. 

Thank you for being there to comfort me when I'm terrified and crying in the mist of a panic attack. 

Thank you for coming with me to my very first blogger event and being willing to pretend that you didn't know me and ask for a picture so I could feel special. (LMAO)

Most of all, thank you for never making me feel less than. Despite that one problem we had when I was 15, you've never made me feel bad for being who and how I am. I know it's not easy to be in such close proximity with someone who has struggles like me. Whether it be me stopping us from doing things, getting all the attention put on me or whatever the case may be, thank you for taking the time to understand I never do anything intentionally. 

Everything you've done and are doing now never go unnoticed. I'm so proud of you and who you are. I know stress can get the best of you at times while you're trying to juggle all that you do, but I'm so glad you've found someone special to stick by you through it all and help bring some happiness and light into your life in those low moments.  

I hope you have an amazing day today! I wish we could be spending it together, but I'm glad we got to celebrate with all the cousins + your friends past Saturday.

Happy 24th birthday, Andrew!

Love, 

Your annoying little sister. 

open letter to my brother on his 24th birthday


For the past 7/8 years all I've ever wanted was to be able to go out and fully enjoy myself "just one more time". Be able to hang out with my friends and cousins, jump up with no hesitation at the ding of a "let's go ___" text or just go on an impromptu adventure and explore this beautiful city I'm lucky enough to call home. Though, this had been something I had dreamt of since this all started at the age of 13, I never knew it'd actually become my reality again. My wish had finally come true - to an extent. 

Don't get me wrong, I still have that strong hold of anxiety over me and it still very much interferes with my day to day life. I don't go out as much as your typical almost 21 year old would, but for me, I'm doing pretty good. If you've read my previous mental health related posts, you're familiar with just how intense everything was/is. 

I've done every one of the things I've listed above and it was just as amazing as I had always wished it would've been. I've gone adventuring around DTLA more times than I've thought I ever would and the beauty just keeps getting better every visit. I've gone to museums and ignited this love/passion for the art that I never knew was inside me. I babysit my nephew almost everyday of the week and it acts almost as a self therapy as I'm constantly fighting against my emetophobia and agoraphobia to keep him busy and as comfortable as possible. 

But as I'm laying here in bed feeling both mentally and physically drained, I'm wondering if this was all worth it? Was this right here what I'm experiencing now what I had been fighting for (and still am) all these years? It's one of those things where I feel it'll always be a lose lose situation for me. Don't do anything and let it all consume me once again or do things, have fun in the moment but deal with the extreme exhaustion afterward? Both come with a side of depression, but it's something I've sadly become use to. 

I feel disappointment in myself for not only thinking it, but for even typing it now for you all to see - but sometimes I do yearn for the past to come back. For me to just give up on my trying and always be stuck in bed again unable to do a thing. I know it's not uncommon for people to have these thoughts or feel that way, but it doesn't make it any less sick. Right along side those negative feelings though, my drive to become the best me is still there and pushing harder. I've come this far and I'm not going to give up because I deserve all the happiness in the world. 

I'm not even sure what the purpose of this post was honestly... To rant? Hope someone reading this relates and assures me I'm not just insane? Or maybe help that one person who tried to google "getting burnt out trying to fight anxiety" and didn't get the answer they were looking for (aka me) - this probably didn't help, but hey, at least you know you're not by yourself in this.

I love you guys tons. Thank you for always checking up on me whether it be through a tweet, email or on instagram. Hope you guys are all doing fantastic, having tons of fun and causing a little trouble along the way! 

P.S. Someone's a bit aggy, went on a little rant on Twitter didn't I? Gotta love being emotional ha!!!!! 

                                                             

Yours, 
KRISTINA X 

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mental health diaries #9


Last year, thrifting was something I enjoyed but found it heightened my anxiety tremendously. As time has gone on, I've grown to create it more into something that's a coping mechanism rather than a trigger. I find myself inside a thrift store practically every week, sometimes even multiple times a week. 

I've created posts on here and sometimes on my other social media sites like Twitter and Instagram to showcase my finds. Everytime I do the responses are always along the lines of: "omg how'd you get that for so cheap?!" "I wish the thrift stores around me were as cool as yours!" "That stuff is so cute, I can never find anything like that at mine!" and so on. So here I am today, making this post for you to share some important thrifting tips I've accumulated to always make your trips good ones. 


PATIENCE IS KEY 

I'd say the biggest issue when it comes to thrifting is the patience factor. A lot of people see these hauls of things other people find and they go into a store thinking they could just walk in and all the treasures will be up front waiting for them. Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. 

9 times out of 10 the cute finds you see were found after someone sifted through rows and rows of racks or dug through piles of clothing. Sometimes you will get lucky and find an item without having to do too much work, but it's definitely not an always thing. 



BE PREPARED 

If you're planning a trip to a thrift store, making sure you're fully prepared is key to a successful trip. 

Dress comfortably - throw on some leggings, loose tee and some shoes you won't mind standing in for long periods of time. Make sure your clothing is easy/quick to get on and off (or tight enough if you want to try on over your clothes for sanitary reasons) to make the dressing room process smoother. 

Make sure to eat beforehand or bring snacks/water with you to munch on while there. Some stores are specific on what's let in or not so keep that in mind before going. Doing anything on an empty stomach is the worst, but combined with some of the frustrations thrifting can bring - your time spent will not be fun. An hour planned trip can turn into a 3 hour one real quick! 


DON'T BE DISCOURAGED 

Like I mentioned above, you're going to have to do some digging to find the best of the best. You're going to come across a lot of garments you aren't fond of and its going to bring that energetic/excited mood you once held down and you'll probably end up just wanting to leave after 10 minutes. 

Thrift stores are filled with tons and tons of clothing. It's vintage and sometimes that specific style isn't something you're into, but I promise if you skip through what you don't like rather than letting it discourage you, you'll soon find little pieces here and there that you do take a liking to. 


OVERTHINKING - STOP IT! 

This is one of the most important tips you need to remember. DON'T OVERTHINK AN ITEM. The amount of times I've picked out an item that my mom thought was hideous in store, came home and tried it on and her whole outlook on it changed can't be counted on two hands. 

A lot of the times stuff will look hideous on the hanger, but look amazing on. I feel like that's something that happens in all stores, not just thrift shops. Always keep an open mind. If you find yourself drawn to something, grab it and throw it in your basket! What's the harm in just trying it on? 

Being able to see a piece of clothing in your hand and envision a whole outfit around it helps tremendously as well. Let your imagination run wild, don't limit yourself because of others opinions/inputs. 


HAVE FUN 

To end off this short list of tips, the most important thing to remember is to have fun. Thrifting is suppose to be an exciting experience filled with adrenaline and thrill over finding a nice treasure. Take it easy and don't stress out! Some trips you'll come out with bags full of things and others you'll be leaving empty handed - both are completely fine. There is always next time! 

KRISTINA X 

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5 tips to step your thrifting game up


Every since I've started embracing the curls, I've been into trying out new products to see which agree with my hair most. I recently got the opportunity to try out some stuff from a company called HASK. HASK is a collection of hair care products featuring exotic oils from around the world.

Upon receiving the package I was completely impressed, the presentation of it all was way more than expected and to make it even better this is a cruelty free company. 



I received the Mint Almond Oil collection; shampoo, conditioner and root thickening spray. It claims to increase your hairs body and texture all while reviving and strengthening your hair.  

The reason I do reviews like this is to help suggest products or give my opinion on why you should think of giving them a pass. The goal is to be your test dummy and ultimately hopefully help you guys save money. 

I tried the shampoo and conditioner out today and... I wasn't impressed at all. I was pretty disappointed actually, like I mentioned earlier I had very high hopes for these products. The first issue I had with it was the scent. I guess I'm just not a minty kind of hair person? I prefer more tropical smelling things. I think if the mint smell was more subtle, I couldn't be dealt with it, but it was so strong to the point where it gave me a bit of a headache. 


When I washed my hair with the shampoo, it felt very stripped. I kind of just passed it off because I'm not a big fan of shampoo in the first place and I thought maybe once I used the conditioner, my hair would get soft again like it usually did. Boy, was I wrong. 

LETTING CONDITONER SIT

After applying the conditioner and letting it sit for a few minutes like I would during my normal routine, I rinsed it and the state of my hair was atrocious. It felt so stringy, knotted and like it was about to be cut off to be the bristles of a broom. You guys, I have never felt my hair that bad. It was so knotted I was scared that if I continued to brush it out I would lose so much hair. I ran to my mom freaking out asking, "What should do, what should I do?! My hair is so tangled!". Initially I had planned to use the shampoo, conditioner, the spray and then post some pictures of later on in the day to show how my curls ended up/lasted throughout the day. Due to how my hair reacted I couldn't get myself to leave it and continue onto the spray. I ran to the bath and washed my hair with my regular hair wash. I'm now currently typing this out with a Cantu deep conditioning mask (it's AMAZING!) on hoping to bring some moisture and softness back to my hair. 

Keep in mind that I do have curly hair and can only speak on this specific product alone so the outcome may be different on another hair type, but this is what I experienced and I'm not too happy about it. I'm not entirely sure if they have specific sets that cater to different hair textures/types, but they do have some other options besides the mint one. For example there is a coconut one and an argan oil one that may have worked better for me, but who knows? 

Would I recommend this product? No, especially if you have curly hair like myself. Maybe give it a go if you have straight or wavy hair? It's really up to you to decide after reading what I experienced. Being completely honest I would be willing to try out the coconut one, but I really don't think I'd go out and buy it for myself. 


KRISTINA X 

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Disclaimer: All opinions disclosed are completely my own. This product was sent to me for review. 

hask mint almond oil hair products review



It's only been about 7 years (HA!) but I've finally managed to find a concoction of products that work well with my skin. From previous experiences, I've realized I have pretty sensitive skin. Anytime I'd try a new facial product it'd end up in a pretty bad, confidence-crushing state. I'd break out like crazy basically. 

THE PRODUCTS 

This group of products I've gathered together consists of 3 things: Belif Aqua Bomb, Pur~Lisse Blue Lotus Eye Serum and Up & Up (Target brand) Exfoliating Cleansing Wipes. I've been using the aqua bomb and eye serum since the end of January, only recently adding in the exfoliating wipes last month. 

 RETAIL PRICE: $38 for 50ml / $22 for 25 ml

 RETAIL PRICE: $65 
It is a big price tag, so skip it if it's too much and stick with just the other two products! 


RETAIL PRICE: $3.59

THE ROUTINE 

Before I get into this part I just want to make it clear that I'm not a dermatologist, some of you may cringe at what I do or whatever, but this is what I've been doing and has been working for me. It's pretty simple! 

Starting at night whether I've worn make up that day or not, I'll use one of the wipes to clean up my entire face and once I've finished I'll let give it a minute to dry. 

I use to use Dark Angels to clean my face, but I honestly just got too lazy (And it expired recently. Why do they expire so quick?! I still have practically a full jar!) when it came to washing off my makeup. Wipes are always a win. You're already in bed and don't want to get up and go to the bathroom to wash your face? No worries, got my makeup wipes right next to my bed. 

After my face has dried, I apply the Belif Aqua Bomb to my face abiding only my under eyes. The reason I avoid my under eyes is simply because I'm going to add the eye serum next. You could probably add the Belif product to your entire face and just put the serum on afterward with no issue, but it's just a habit I've grown. That's pretty much all I do. All of my skin care happens at night and sometimes the next day before I apply makeup, I'll put some of the Aqua Bomb on but that's really only if I remember to. 

Ever since I've started using these products, especially after adding in the exfoliating wipes I've noticed my skin in the best shape it's ever been in.  My skin is problematic so breakouts are going to happen, but they are usually only hormonal. This month I only got two, a teeny one on my cheekbone and one in the middle of my eyebrows (ugh it's one of those annoying shiny ones) but I'll take that over the multiple I would've had months ago any day! 

Have you guys tried any of these products? 

KRISTINA X 

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my 2016 acne prone skin care routine

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