books · culture · international · life curation · travel

Becoming Bilingual – 5 Free Language Resources That Aren’t YT, Duolingo or Podcasts

As an aspiring polyglot, I’m always reviewing language tools and resources that can help me fast track my mastery. Naturally, I dove first into Duolingo, YouTube and various podcasts. But, there are limitations with those resources, and sometimes you just want to try something different.

If you’ve been trying to learn a language but you want to go beyond YouTube videos, podcasts and Duolingo, then this is the post for you! I’ve located five other language learning resources that can help fast track your language learning, give you some much needed variety, and are all completely FREE! I discuss these options in a YouTube video (the link to the video below).

  • Amazon Kindle ebooks – This gives you a great source of free ebooks in various languages, as well as some free instruction books, too. To find them, search for books in a particular language, then filter by price (lowest to highest). Filtering by price shows the lowest priced books first, so you can quickly identify free publications.
  • MIT OpenCourseware – If you’re interested in college-level language instruction, this site is excellent. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) archives resources from courses taught during prior semesters. The courses include syllabi, worksheets, exercises, and links to other great resources. To find these courses, look under the Global Studies and Languages department.
  • Foreign Service Institute (FSI) Free online course material – This page speaks for itself: it’s the material developed by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) to instruct diplomats before assigning them to foreign posts. These classes are developed to quickly acquire mastery at the highest levels of language. The link has lots of languages available, especially some that are somewhat rarer and harder to study online.
  • Alison & FutureLearn – Both Alison and FutureLearn offer language classes that are paced and offer certificates of completion at the end of the course (the documentation of completion has a cost). This also gives you the advantage of participating in group discussion and other ways of interacting with other learners.
  • Internet Archive – There is a host of free archived materials on this website, including movies, music, books and newspapers. Find the kind of material you want and filter it by the language that interests you.

Here’s my video, discussing the ways to use these resources:

Those are the five free resources I can recommend for language learning, outside of the most popular recs. Do you have any language resources that work for you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

health · international · life curation · travel

Fibro Friday – Travel-Sized Flare Kits

Happy Fibro Friday, friends! We made it through another week, and I’m excited that I get to share with you some tips that served me well when I traveled several weeks ago.

Because I was traveling for a few weeks out of the country, I had to be mindful that my normal conveniences *may* not be available. The reality of traveling anywhere is that, if you have chronic illness, it’s imperative to have things you need, in case your symptoms flare up.

I was fortunate that I didn’t have any flares while traveling (yay!) though I did feel ill upon returning to the States. To my credit, I prepared well and that probably created enough energetic “relief” that I was avoid a flare due to stress. Part of my preparation included packing a travel-sized flare kit.

I mentioned my self-care kit a while ago, and I added things to the kit to make it suitable for treating my emotional as well as my physical health. I took an abbreviated version of this kit with me on the road. The contents of my travel kit were as follows:

  • ginger mints and ginger tea
  • journal and pen
  • resistance band and stress ball
  • pain relievers
  • dream water
  • room spray
  • aromatherapeutic oil

I discuss the kit a bit more in this video:

Have you ever prepared a mini flare kit when traveling? What items do you recommend that I add? I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

beauty · life curation · style

Perfume Review – CLEAN Warm Cotton vs CLEAN Fresh Laundry

It’s a perfume review, my friends! As a huge fan of CLEAN perfumes, I had several bottles lying around that I hadn’t reviewed yet. So, I decided two review two at once!

In this review, I compared CLEAN Warm Cotton with CLEAN Fresh Laundry. I decided to compare these two because the names of these scents sound like they’d share some common traits (cotton, laundry, you get it). I figured that it would be fun to see what they share, and on which notes they diverge. There are some similarities but also some stark differences that I noted.

First, let’s start off with the notes. Warm Cotton opens up with bright citrus and lemon verbena, blooms into a combination of sea notes, orange blossom and fruit essence, then dries down to the scents of musk, fern and amber. On the other hand, Fresh Laundry hits you with notes of grass, Brazilian orange and Mexican lime, before blossoming into the essence of jasmine and rose otto, then finishing with the fragrance of musk, heliotrope and woody notes.

The shared notes of citrus on top and musk at the base means that these two fragrances are channeling the same brightness as the opener, and a fresh but earthy base. The difference shows up most with the mid notes and the differing base notes: Warm Cotton relies on the essence of brisk ocean notes and zesty orange blossom and fruits in the middle, while Fresh Laundry leans heavily on classic “soapy” notes, with jasmine and rose, as its middle. Finally, the base notes of fern and amber give the warmth to Warm Cotton, while heliotrope and woody notes add a powdery touch with some heft to Fresh Laundry.

Here’s the video where I discuss these scents a bit more:

Again, the notes are as follows:

Warm Cotton – Top notes: Citrus and Lemon verbena Mid notes: Sea notes, Orange blossom, Fruits (floral cotton) Base notes: Musk, Fern, Amber

Fresh Laundry – Top notes: Grass, Brazilian orange, Mexican lime Mid notes: Jasmine, Rose otto Base notes: Musk, Heliotrope, Woody notes

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Have you tried either of these, or any of the other fragrances from CLEAN? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

books · business · writing

Writers Wednesdays – July Writing Accomplishments

As i reflect back on the month of July, I feel so much pride. I made PROGRESS with my writing, and my books are inching closer to completion. I love it!

I did some more editing to my main work-in-progress (WIP), and set a launch date of November 1st. I’m really excited, since that book has been my passion project – the one I’ve been most protective of – for months now. As the release date draws closer, I will share more details and, of course, there will be some sort of giveaway to celebrate the launch!

Now, I’ve promised, multiple times, not to start any new works. I was determined to focus on completing projects before starting new ones. I’m so proud that I kept my word to myself: I didn’t start any new works. However, I did, on a whim, compile several WIPs that were loosely related as far as subject matter goes. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had enough material and structure to create the book I’d always envisioned that I would write! Now I’m fleshing out my ideas and doing some additional research on a few things. This is so exciting, and it’s using so much content that I’ve already written!

Those are my writing updates for July. If you’re a fellow writer, what are you working on in August? I’d love to hear about it!

culture · international · life curation · style · travel

My Time in Portugal, Part 1

Admittedly, this probably be more pictures than words, but I had so much fun on my travels that I had to capture as much as I could via my camera!

I started the first leg of my journey in Lisbon, Portugal. A beautiful city with all of the charm of old Europe but an abundance of modern amenities, I found myself spellbound by the city “built on 7 hills”. I’d long held a fantasy of tooling around in Lisbon . . . And I got to live my dream.

While it was uncharacteristically cool in Lisbon during my time there, I still loved what I saw and experienced there. I can see why so many American expats have chosen Portugal as their forever homes.

While in Portugal, I went to Rock in Rio Lisboa 2022 (an incredible music festival), as well as the towns of Sintra, Cascais, and Estoril. I will share more about those experiences in future blog posts. But for today, here are some of my pictures from my time in Lisbon proper. Enjoy!

beauty · international · style · travel

Where My Travel Wardrobe Went Wrong . . .

Happy Monday, friends! Tomorrow, I’ll start discussing the highlights of my trip, beginning with my first stop (Lisbon, Portugal, and the surrounding towns). But today, we talk travel fashion.

When I prepared for my trip, I began by adopting a capsule wardrobe approach. I knew I wanted to function with one piece of luggage, and one wardrobe that had everything I needed to mix and match my ensembles. By the time I packed for my trip, I had the following wardrobe list:

If you want to see the ensembles in motion, here’s the video I posted, showing some of the outfit combinations and accessories:

Now, I’m overall pleased with the items I selected. But, looking back a bit, I realized there were a few things that could have created a better capsule wardrobe:

  • Instead of my taupe flats, I really needed flat shoes with better grips on the soles. I had to walk very carefully when we toured, because my flats were slick on the bottom and I could have used the extra grip for touring on those well-worn stone surfaces.
  • Denim shorts would have been a fantastic addition to this wardrobe, especially if they were tapered and knee-length.
  • Another button-down top would have given me a little extra polish: it would have been even better if it was a sleeveless button-down so I could stay cool while I tooled around.
  • Because Lisbon was unseasonably cool, I needed more long-sleeved tops. Having few long-sleeved options was a problem for me.
  • Also, a jacket or cardigan would have been great and given me some additional wardrobe options.
  • I really wish I’d thrown one other color into the mix, aside from yellow, white and royal/navy blue.
  • As a Kibbe Soft Classic (SC), I would have benefited from a few pieces that had a bit more structure and symmetry. Less structured items = more comfort, easier maintenance, but opting for structured pieces would have ensured that I felt more like myself as I toured, and more put together.

I am glad that I had a capsule wardrobe that worked for my travels but, like anything else, there was room for improvement. I’ll do it even better next time!

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This post contains affiliate links.

health

Fibro Friday – Addressing My Wrist Pain

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Fibro Friday post, though I’ve been posting fibro videos over on my YouTube. Last month, I started physical therapy for my wrist pain that I’ve suffered from since 2018(!). I recall when I first had pain in my wrist, which was so intense that I went to the emergency room. The pain made it impossible to write more than a page in my journal at a time. Being unable to write with the same fervor that I used to was a heartbreaking experience and, while I wanted to get relief for the pain, I had far more pressing issues to address (like my other fibro issues). So I shelved the wrist treatment until recently.

So I started physical therapy. I posted this video on June 10th, and I’ve done some therapy sessions after filming this video. In fact, I’ve completed my series of sessions, and now I get to do the work on my own to continue rehabilitating my wrist. So I’ve seen even more progress since I filmed originally. Here’s the video discussing my physical therapy:

Now that I’ve completed physical therapy, I have a much better understanding of what my wrist needs to be its healthiest and strongest. I need exercises that both relieve stress as well as strengthen the muscles. The strengthening is the key point for me: the pain kept me from moving my wrist in a normal way, and due to this, I lost a lot of my original strength. Restoring my wrist strength is crucial to my healing journey. That, along with exercises to help with the flexibility and grip function, will help me to get back to my former glory.

I’m looking forward to giving you all updates in the months to come, as I progress in my healing journey. I’m excited to see how things go!

Anyhoo, that’s it for today. I hope you all have a great weekend. Talk to you all soon!

art · beauty · culture · hollywood glamour · luxury

Opulence . . . Because We Deserve It

Here are a few images of the most opulent things I’ve seen in the past week. Just thought I’d share these divine Faberge eggs that I saw at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The eggs are exquisite works of art that capture the idealized beauty and fragility of the Russian monarchy. I love that these objects represent the intersection of history, art, and culture. Cheers to opulence and abundance!

books · writing

Writers Wednesdays – The Books I Planned To Read On Vacation (& What I *Actually* Read)

Initially, I planned to take a couple of hardcover and paperback books with me on vacation. However, my space was at a premium, and I wasn’t able to take any physical books with me. Fortunately, I have the Kindle app on my phone, so I had a way to access a library (my digital library, that is).

Now, I did a whole YouTube video with my hardcover and paperback books that were *supposed* to go on vacay with me. Here’s that video:

The books I discussed in the video were The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, Caring Economics edited by Tania Singer and Matthieu Ricard, and By The Pricking Of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie.

In actuality, the books I read while I was gone were Longevity by Maria L. Ellis, MBA and Take Back Your Life by Tami Stackelhouse. These were both digital books (ebooks) downloaded into my Kindle app before I left home, that I read while I lounged poolside in Spain (bliss!).

I’m glad that I chose to read some of my ebooks while I was away, since I tend to prefer paperback and hardcover while I’m at home. Being able to read anywhere I have my phone or laptop was a blessing, and these two books were instrumental in me defining several things I could do right now to uplevel my health (which is why I’ll be reviewing both of them in the weeks to come).

That’s all for my travel reading list! What do you all like to read while traveling or even during your staycations? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

*This post contains affiliate links.

beauty · style

I Finally Reviewed My Favorite Exfoliating Product on YouTube

I’ve praised Dr. Dennis Gross’s Alpha Beta Ultra Gentle Peel Pads on this blog before. On my quest for glass skin (you all remember that, right?) I stumbled (head-first, naturally) upon this product. I’ve been using it since 2017(!) and I haven’t been disappointed at all.

After hearing me discuss the peel pads in multiple posts (like this one and this one), I figured it was high time that I did a video discussing the product, because, why not? I’ve posted pictures of my skin after the glass skin experiment, but this video is my most recent update/review, where you can see my skin as I discuss how well these peel pads have worked for me.

The great thing about this product is the gentleness of the peel pads: I tried other exfoliating brands but none have been as good on my skin as this one. I appreciate a good “bargain” as much as the next person, but this is one of those items I’m always sure to splurge on a few times during the year. The other products I’ve tried just don’t come close to the gentle effectiveness of this one. I’m a forever fan!

Do you have a favorite exfoliating product? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

*this post contains affiliate links.