The Things I’ve Done

Well, that title sounds a lot more ominous than it was intended to. Rest assured, this isn’t going to be a confession to all the bodies hidden beneath my floorboards (as if I would tell you about those).

Instead, I’d like to share with you just some of the awesome things I’ve done since deciding to take control of my life about a fortnight ago. They’re all just little things, but to borrow a phrase from the young protege of my blog’s namesake, you mustn’t let a little thing like little stop you. I’m hoping that it’ll serve as a reminder to me of all the little things I can accomplish, and as a reminder of how happy these little things can make me. If any of you are feeling low, I’d recommend any of them.

In the last fortnight, I have:

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  • Learned how to make shortcrust pastry and used my mad skillz to bake a truly glorious apple pie.

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  • Dressed up real fancy and gone on a super romantic date with the boy.

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  • Accidentally drunk a whole bottle of prosecco in a single sitting.
  • Made a writing portfolio.
  • Made macaroons.
  • Gotten over 400 hits in one day, on a blog I thought no one would read.
  • Made my own stationery, and used it to send a letter to a friend in America.

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  • Watched a rainbow disappear and reappear from my window.

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  • Worked hard on a special somebody’s 18th birthday present (can’t tell you, it’s going to be a surprise).
  • Taken a beginner’s course in HTML and built a very beautiful website.
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Beautiful.

HTML is seriously fun. Typing code makes me feel like such a badass. Now, to learn how make stuff not look like that ^^.

I’ve decided that it’s probably time to stop letting depression kick my ass and at least make some attempts at kicking it back. I am from Paisley after all, I’d be letting the side down if I didn’t at least pan its windaes in. Maybe next I’ll learn a language. Or write an anthology of poetry. Or learn to swing dance. Or get a new job. Viva la Resistance!

Wooden Spoons Are For Scones, Not For Scotland

It’s finally happened: a Scotland six nations game that didn’t make me want to shrivel up and die! Let’s take that wooden spoon and make some victory scones. And then hope to god that someone else ends up with it.

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For victory scones, you will need:

350g self-raising flour
90g butter
3 tbsp sugar
180ml milk
1 egg
Big pinch of salt

  1. Preheat your oven to 220C. Stick a baking tray in the middle shelf to heat up. Put your butter, salt and flour in a large mixing bowl, and rub the mixture together with your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Don’t squash it, treat it gently, as though you’re touching Johnnie Beattie’s beautiful face.
  2. Warm up your milk in the microwave. Make a little well in the middle of your mixing bowl and pour the milk in. Stir until your mixture is much smoother than Scotland’s road to the prestigious second-from-bottom position.
  3. Dust a surface and your hands with flour and tip out your dough. If you have any lingering resentment about the English battering us at Murrayfield, now is the time to get it out. Smooth the dough between your hands and flatten it out to however thick you want your scones to be.photo
  4. Time to cut out your scones. If you are an actual functioning human being, you might own a round cutter, I just use a small tumbler. Cut out four, then roll your dough back into a ball, flatten it out and cut out another two. Feel free to make amusing shapes/voodoo dolls of Owen Farrell with the leftovers.
  5. Beat your egg. Again, it may be helpful to think of Owen Farrell while you do this. Brush the tops of your scones with egg, place them on your hot baking tray and put them in the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Make a cup of tea. Chuckle gently at the glory of winning by 1 point with about 2 seconds to go.
  7. After 10 minutes, check on your scones. If they are as golden as Ritchie Gray’s hair, they’re ready.

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I like mine with butter, but if you want to be super-fancy, crack out the jam and clotted cream. Feel free to add a big handful of cheese to your mixture if you aren’t in a relationship with a fromage hating philistine. Or, if you are a philistine yourself, why not add sultanas, raisins or other ruined fruit?

Serve with an enormous cup of tea and the tears of your enemies.

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Us Students Are In For A Shock

I’m not the first person to write about this, and I certainly won’t be the last. But having read yet another Guardian article about us ungrateful youngsters trying to get on the job ladder with our useless degrees and entitlement, I’m angry enough to pick up my figurative pen anyway.

Warning: This post is about to get sweary.

The short version of the message I want to send to anyone who has ever written an article, blog post or smug anonymous comment about the younger generation’s inflated entitlement when it comes to employment is this:

Shut the fuck up.

The longer version, which will be coming to a very similar conclusion, is this:

As kids, my generation were raised with working at McDonald’s being the ultimate threat. You have to study for your exams, or you’ll end up working at McDonald’s. Stick in at school, or you’ll end up working at McDonald’s. Go to university and get yourself a degree, or you’ll end up working at McDonald’s. We were motivated by the picture of failure presented to us: working at McDonald’s meant you hadn’t worked hard enough. You were a failure. It was something to be ashamed of. If my generation feel entitled to not have to work behind the counter in McDonald’s once they’ve gotten their degree, it’s because that’s what we’ve had shoved down our fucking throats since we were barely old enough to write our own names.

Most of the graduates I know aren’t waltzing out of uni and expecting to land a six figure salary and a corner office within five years. Most don’t even care whether they get a job related to their degree. All they want is a steady paycheck coming in, preferably one that reflects the fact that they’ve been working their asses off for the past four years, and have sacrificed four years worth of pay on the promise that it’ll be worth it in the end. But instead, we’re offered long hours at minimum wage, or the chance to make coffee and sort mail in a basement somewhere, paid only in “experience”, and told that we should be grateful for it.

Everybody seems to have one answer to any complaints made by young people trying to find work, and it’s one I’ve seen crop up in the comments of every single article about graduate employment/unemployment since forever. Why don’t you just start your own business? That’s what all the young people should be doing. That’s what the generation before us did, if the internet is to be believed. Everybody shunned that horrible book learnin’ and started their own businesses using nothing but the money they’d saved from returning glass bottles to the corner shop. Pulled themselves up by their bootstraps! Never took nothing from nobody! It’s just that these kids today have no work ethic. Expect everything handed to them. No idea what the real world is like.

Because of course, moving to a completely new city, living on your own, scraping by on a couple of hundred pounds per month, cooking your own food, going from being top of your class to being surrounded by people infinitely smarter than you, studying really hard, spending nights sobbing in the library because you still don’t understand Iran’s political system, writing a 10,000 word dissertation, researching, taking part in debates, learning to stand up for yourself, learning to speak in public, making friends, feeling lonely, feeling scared and seeing hard work pay off teaches you absolutely nothing about the world and the value of work.

Like, seriously? Are you high? Did you just watch an episode of Skins and assume that that was what university was like?

Why are the only two options for graduates to work shitty minimum wage jobs, or create a completely awesome business that we will be entirely responsible for? If you think that graduates are smart enough to found and sustain a business (which a lot of them are, myself not included), then surely we’re smart enough to work in your offices, banks and businesses. I’m sorry that my degree in International Politics didn’t give me the necessary skills to start a knit your own fucking organic vegetables business, but does that really mean that I have to be mouth-frothingly grateful for the chance to pour coffee or flip burgers?

After that little shoutout to my undeniable Humanities qualification, let’s mention the elephant in the room: the useless degree (engineers, you can skip this paragraph, you guys are pretty much cushty when it comes to getting recognised for your degree). This is another thing that graduates have hurled at them literally all the time. You studied a degree in English Literature, what did you think was going to happen?

When did we decide that engineering was the only useful skill? Don’t get me wrong, I am totally pro having roads and buildings and scientific advancement, but is that all that there is? My boyfriend is pretty much a genius when it comes to engineering, and frequently does sums that make me feel dizzy just looking at them. He also forgets to use verbs in sentences sometimes. He baulks at having to read 20 pages of a textbook, while I grapple with a damn reading list that is that length. My degree taught me how to do my own research, analyse evidence, spot patterns, produce reports, find the important part of a book, form solid arguments and debunk shaky arguments. I pretty much killed myself for four years trying to wrap my head around ideas so complicated that, to most people, they’re as inaccessible as nuclear physics. Seriously, ask people about the Middle East and watch the fear on their faces. And yet, not only am I supposed to be grateful for literally any job offer that comes my way, I also have to deal with that little lip curl that comes when I reveal the subject of my degree.

Side note: If you have ever made fun of a Humanities student for their degree, fuck you. It’s not funny and it’s not banter. You are belittling something that someone has worked stupidly hard for, and you should be ashamed. Getting a degree is hard enough without people telling you that the 14 hour library stint you just pulled is worthless and laughable. When you’re feeling stressed or low because of the amount of work you have to do, a comment like that can be enough to make you not want to get out of bed in the morning. Please, sciencey folks, you are better than this. Get off our degrees.

Now listen carefully to this, because it’s very important, and for some reason, seems to be quite a revolutionary concept.

There is no such thing as a useless degree. Every single degree provides its students with extremely valuable transferrable skills like the ones I listed above. And as for the “useless” degrees, if you are prepared to look at someone who dedicated four years of their lives to studying and learning about a subject for no reason other than because it interests them and they love it, and write that off as a character flaw rather than an amazing strength, I genuinely question your intelligence.

Graduates are entitled. Because university isn’t a wacky, taxpayer-funded, four-year holiday. As somebody who has spent the last year in the “real world”, having dealt with unemployment, employment, depression, responsibility and paying taxes, being a grown up is a whole lot easier than being a student sometimes. I don’t think I’m special or unique or *insert Millenial adjective here* because I have a degree, but I do think it shows that I’m smart, passionate, hardworking and able to think long-term. I went to university and worked my little socks off, rather than earn four years’ worth of wages. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I’d like to see a return on that investment. We don’t want to start at the top of the ladder, but please, for the love of god, just let us get on.

Love Actually Is All Around

Well folks, in the time honoured tradition of Valentine’s Day, this is gonna be a soppy one.

I mean sure, Valentine’s Day is generally bollocks, and the whole idea of forced, plasticy romance makes me sad, but as a big romantic at heart, I can definitely get on board with a day dedicated solely to celebrating the people we love.

So this post is to serve as a great, big, mushy I LOVE YOU to the people who have stuck by me for some inexplicable reason, despite my frequent bouts of insanity and dimness.

The Boy

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This guy. He is excellent. He has pretty much saved my whole entire life this year, and continues to tell me that I’m wonderful and beautiful, even when I haven’t brushed my hair in five days, or am openly being a dick to him. If I could send one message back to my 16 year old self, it would probably be: don’t sweat it, you totally end up with an awesome, sexy Irishman who kisses like a champ, carries you to bed when you fall asleep on the sofa and makes the greatest shepherd’s pie known to man. Well done on being magnificent, Niall.

The Girl

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This is the love of my life. Since our eyes met across an empty Halls of Residence corridor four years ago, she has mopped up buckets of tears, made literally hundreds of cups of tea and ran away to Bruges with me, six weeks before our respective dissertations were due. I won’t say she kept me sane…it’d probably be more accurate to say she’s kept me nice and insane. She is ace.

The Partner In Crime

sophie

The whole fam are getting a shoutout in a minute (spoilers!), but this little one deserves a spot of her own. Like, I can’t even…my words aren’t good enough. Sophie, you are the absolute bomb and I love you so, so much. Kid, you’ll move mountains.

The Family

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I don’t think there’s a photo that has everyone in it, but this is pretty close. My family are literally everything. Every good quality I have is down to them. I know everyone thinks that their family are the greatest, but mine actually are. Totally mental, but undeniably the most wonderful, loving group of people a girl could ask to be thrown in with.

To every single one of these people: you are my soulmates. I love you with all my heart, unconditionally and forever. Happy Valentine’s Day folks, I hope your soulmates are as epic as mine.

Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’

For the past nine months, I’ve had to take a train to and from work every day. At first, there was a sort of fun novelty to it, not to mention all the things I pretended I could do with that time.

Two hours a day? I could take an audio language course! Or write a book! Or read all the books I’ve always wanted to!

Of course, eventually I realised that the only thing to do on a commute is to sit and steep in your hatred for everyone around you.

Me on an average day's commute.

Me on an average day’s commute.

But. Every so often, I’ll encounter a person on my commute that makes it totally worth it. Today was one of these rare occasions.

It didn’t look like it was going to be a great day, with three trains being delayed because of the bad weather. With three rush hour trains worth of commuters packed onto one train, and it looking likely that I’d be standing all the way to Glasgow, I was feeling pretty grumpy.

And then, at Linlithgow station, salvation arrived in the form of a three year old little girl, her six year old sister and their world weary grandparents.

There were too many gems to count, but here are just a few of my favourites.

3yo: I’ve got a great joke! What kind of hot dog has no tail? No…wait…what kind of dog has no tail?

3yo: What do you call a sheep with no legs? *pause* I can’t remember.

3yo: What do you call a clock with eight legs? Wait…have I told the clocktopus joke already? No? Okay, what do you call a clock with eight legs?

3yo: Can I hold my ticket? Granny. Granny. Granny. Can I hold my ticket?
Papa: How about having a sweetie instead?
*sweeties are handed out*
3yo: Papa, can I have another sweetie?
Granny: No, you’re not getting another one.
*pause*
3yo: Granny, can I hold my ticket?

6yo: We’re not fighting, we’re just playing a nice game. *launches herself at her sister, sending her flying into the aisle*

6yo: Granny, can I have another sweetie?
Granny: No.
6yo: But I only had one.
Granny: Everybody only had one.
6yo: Papa didn’t.
*Papa looks shifty*

Thank you, you tiny little heroes, for brightening up a very rubbish train journey.

Unhelpful Thoughts

So, as we’ve covered already, I haven’t been feeling too braw. I gave the British method of combatting everything with a stiff upper lip and steadfast denial a go, but when that failed to make me feel even a little bit better, I decided that maybe I should go get some help. So, for the past three weeks, I’ve been taking part in an online course designed to help you identify and combat unhelpful thoughts and behaviours.

As it turns out, I have quite a lot of those.

So, in the interest of science and mental health, here is a list of unhelpful thoughts that I have pretty much every single day.

  • “If my life was a horror movie, this is totally where I’d be murdered.”
  • “Is that man looking at me weird because he can hear my thoughts and is appalled by my weirdness?” *Screams inside head and watches for a reaction*
  • “Is my rabbit really fulfilled?”

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  • “Can I put peanut butter on that?”
  • “I wonder if I should quit my job and go audition for Frozen on Broadway.”
  • “Maybe I should go blonde.”
  • “Maybe I should cut my hair short.”

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  • “Maybe I should get a tattoo.”
  • “I like my new Facebook cover photo, but does it really say enough about who I am as a person?”
  • “Imagine there was an axe-murderer behind this door/in my wardrobe/behind the shower curtain/standing at my window/under my bed.”
  • “I’d probably make a pretty awesome spy.”
  • “Why does Phil make Hercules bulk up when he’s already super strong?”

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  • “Maybe I should take a nap.”
  • “It’s been a while since I encountered an enormous, terrifying spider. That’ll probably happen soon.”
  • “Maybe if I buy new stationery, my life will improve.”
  • “Maybe if I buy a blazer, I’ll become the type sophisticated girl who wears blazers.”
  • “I am so funny. I wonder if anyone would pay me just for being this hilarious.”
  • “Maybe Pinterest has the answer.”
  • “This situation will be better if I paint my nails again.”

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With all this junk floating around my brain, it’s no wonder I’m not functioning properly. Although the junk isn’t really a recent thing. Maybe I’ve always been a little bit crazy.

In all seriousness, the course I’m taking has been super-helpful so far and it’s free, so if anyone else is feeling low, check it out here.

Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside!

Today, I decided to sack off the whole city living thing and go hang out with my grandad in Troon.

I carefully chose an “I-am-a-fine-upstanding-citizen” outfit and hopped a train to the seaside.

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This is me pretending to be a responsible young lady, who has her shit together and wears blouses like it aint no thang. I say “thang” now. Deal with it.

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I wore my awesome froggy earrings in honour of mine and my grandad’s mutual amphibian obsession.

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Blustery train ride.

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Blustery beach.

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Outside is overrated.

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Great Storybook Role Models For Little Girls

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Dolly Dowsie. Reposting today in honour of National Libraries Day.

When I was a little girl, I could usually be found curled up in a corner with my nose in a book. I could disappear for hours on end, only emerging once yet another story had been devoured. The courageous, feisty heroines within their pages were my best friends, and from a very young age, they taught me what kind of girl I wanted to grow up to be. Long gone are the days where girls in storybooks are passive damsels in distress. Now, girls can turn to books for aspirational, strong female role models. I’d like to share with you a few of my favourite childhood books and the characters in them that helped make me the woman I am today.

1. Matilda, from Matilda by Roald Dahl

As a slightly strange, extremely bookish girl, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Matilda. Matilda tells the story of a little girl who uses her intelligence and special powers to outsmart her bullying headmistress and apathetic parents. She is wildly imaginative and a little bit mischievous. Although she plays tricks on the grown-ups in her life, she is very fair, and only punishes people who really, truly deserve it. Those who treat her well, such as her friend Lavender and her teacher Miss Honey, are met with respect, love and loyalty from. As with most Roald Dahl characters, Matilda encourages children to see learning as an amazing journey that should continue outside school. Once I had begrudgingly accepted that I didn’t have telekinetic powers, I focused on attaining Matilda’s second and even more important weapon, her brilliant mind. Matilda shows little girls that reading voraciously and learning just for the love of it can be just as powerful as having a magical superpower.

2. Charlotte, from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte is a spider living in the dark corner of a farmer’s barn. She befriends Wilbur, a young pig who is horrified to learn that he might some day end up on the farmer’s breakfast plate. With the help of the other farm animals, Charlotte hatches a plan to save Wilbur from this terrible fate. Charlotte is intelligent and well spoken – it’s thanks to her that I can greet someone with “salutations”, or aspire to create my “magnum opus”. She is kind to all the animals in the barn, despite their apprehension towards her because she is a spider. She is firm, but gentle towards the naïve Wilbur, and never lets him give up hope. She often puts the needs of her friends before her own. Charlotte taught me that it doesn’t matter how people perceive you, as long as you have a kind heart and a quick wit, you will always be loved.

3. Henrietta Hickathrift, from The Stray by Dick King Smith

This one isn’t a very well known book, but it is one of my absolute favourites. I first read it as a little girl, and now, as I pass it on to my littlest sister, I’m finding that it hasn’t lost a single bit of its charm. Henrietta is an old woman who decides to run away from her nursing home and go to the seaside. She is plucky and compassionate, earning the admiration and friendship of everyone she meets. Although she hits a few speed bumps along the way, the book eventually sees Henrietta’s kindness and generosity returned on her tenfold. She faces her fears with great panache, inspiring me to live life to the full, and taught me that no dream was too big or too small.

4. Sophie, from the series Sophie by Dick King Smith

Sophie is a stubborn but loveable four-year-old girl, who detests frilly dresses and dreams of becoming a lady farmer. The series follows her between the ages of four and eight, passing milestones such as beginning school, starring in the class play, taking riding lessons and informing the farmer’s son next door that they’re going to get married some day. She is steadfast and loyal, and a great lover of all animals. She is incredibly proud of her impressive vocabulary, and frequently uses very long, complicated words, albeit with a few endearing mistakes. Most of all though, Sophie works conscientiously to achieve her goals. She puts her heart and soul into everything she does, which frequently causes accidental chaos, but usually also ends in success. She taught me not to sit around and wait for things to happen to me. With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, I could achieve anything.

5. Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

I know, I know, this one’s a big cliché, but I just couldn’t exclude Hermione. I have a special soft spot for her because we were almost the same age when the first book came out, and with each passing year, we grew up together. The Harry Potter series could more accurately be titled “Harry Potter gets confused, Hermione fixes everything”. She is intelligent, meticulous and motivated, leaving the boys in the dust both in and out of the classroom. She isn’t afraid to be herself, despite taking pretty much constant stick for being clever. As she matures throughout the series, she becomes increasingly considerate and understanding, acting as mother, teacher and friend to a great number. In the final couple of books, she has her heart repeatedly broken, but instead of sulking, simply continues to rid the wizarding world of evil until the object of her affections realises what a colossal mistake he has made and comes back. Hermione is beautiful, but this is completely outshone by a stunning personality, a keen intellect and a willingness to do anything that is necessary to protect her friends. She is a true leading lady: so, so much more than just a pretty face.

5 Things That Got Me Through This Week

Man, February sucks, doesn’t it? Can anyone remember the last time it wasn’t raining/blowing a gale? I literally got blown into the road this week. In the rain. While it was dark. Worst.

But despite the rain and the cold and the overall feeling of crappiness, here I am, having survived a whole week of February. Here’s what got me through.

Having the greatest family in the history of the world.

Sorry that my family are better than yours.

Sorry that my family are better than yours.

My family are a group of bonafide complete nutters, the calibre of which I am an excellent example. They’re also probably the most wonderful collection of people who have ever lived. My mum, my dad, Sophie, Kiera, my granny, Sophie, the very un-wicked stepparents, my vast collection of aunts and uncles, Sophie, I will never be able to express how much I owe to you guys. Seriously, you are the cheese to my macaroni, the custard in my doughnut, the icing on my cake (I really like food, ok?).

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This video of a dog on a tricycle

This one comes courtesy of my favourite account on Instagram. If you like dogs, awesome photographs and things that are generally excellent, do yourself a favour and click here. I cannot stop watching this video, and it has gotten no less funny since the first time.

Scotland legalising gay marriage – or as it will now be known, “marriage”

Image: Larry Lamont and Jerry Slater take part in a symbolic same-sex marriage outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

It’s pretty tough to feel gloomy when your country takes a big epic step towards equal rights for all. A most excellent job, Scotland! And let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see these two dapper gents organise a wedding?

Creme Eggs coming back

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This Tuesday, I was having a particularly crappy day. I hate Tuesdays almost as much as I hate February, so it was never going to be great. And then the boy comes through the door with a three pack of Creme Eggs. I could have kissed him.

*Spoilers* I did.

Reading every beauty article this woman has ever written

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This is Alle. She writes for XoVain. I love her. She is lovely, and Australian, and really outstanding at applying eye makeup. She also has a great dog, which she shows off over on Instagram. Reading beauty articles and Insta-stalking someone may not seem like the most productive use of time, but whatevs, it totally makes me feel better. It’s like meditation, but it also makes me awesome at applying lipstick.

Forget the January blues, they’re so last month! Now, to get through the next three weeks.