Happy Halloween!

It’s here! It’s here! Not only is it Halloween, but it’s also the last day of Blogtober, and I managed to post every day this month. Woohoo!

So how am I going to celebrate? With a glass of wine, watching a marathon of Treehouse of Horror episodes, and passing out Pirate’s Booty popcorn to neighborhood kids. I wasn’t going to bother dressing up for Halloween, until I came across this at Target:

tiger halloween 2 tiger halloween 3

tiger halloween


If it looks like I am wearing pajamas, that is because I AM. This beautiful, cozy onesie was on sale at Target, and how could I say no?!

But let’s bee honest: you know who really steals the show this Halloween? Khaleesi:

halloween khaleesi

She’s not a fan of the hoodie antennae since they don’t fit her massive ears, but she loves running around in this bee suit.

halloween khaleesi 2

I mean, sure, she ripped into a package of RayBans I had shipped (no damage; no worries) but how can you be mad at this sweet little bumble bee?

So have yourselves a Happy Halloween, folks! And remember, Bee Safe!


Helene in Between Blogtober

The Facts of (My) Life

You want the facts? I sure hope so, because I’m about to pass them out like Halloween candy for day 30 of Blogtober:

red sweater 2


I was born on March 26, 1981

I am 5 foot 4 inches tall

I have a mom, (no dad; he died when I was young) and a brother who I love. My brother’s girlfriend is also pretty rad.

I’m not married, but C and I are practically hitched.

I earned a B.A. in English in 2004 and then an M.A. in English in 2008.

I teach at the same university that I attended.

I have a 7 month old German Shepherd named Khaleesi, and two crazy black kitties named Rex and Lula.

I drive a black Mini Cooper, and C drives a Tesla. I often volunteer to be the DD so that I can drive the Tesla.

I could eat pizza every day and never tire of it.

I’ve never broken a bone nor been stung by a bee.

Much of my paycheck is spent at Target.

My hair is naturally light to medium brown but I have been highlighting it since I was a teenager.

I hate loud noises.

I am team Android (as opposed to Apple, not as in androids versus humans)

I currently train a few days a week in Krav Maga. So don’t mess with me.

I waited tables through college and grad school, and I attribute a lot of who I am to lessons I learned there.

I have a 310 phone number, and I doubt I’ll ever give it up.

I cannot function without coffee.

I also cannot think up more facts, so do me a favor and drop me a question in the comments. I promise I will answer!


Helene in Between Blogtober

My Most Embarrassing Moment

Once upon a time, I embarrassed myself.  As in, this morning. And the day before, and the day before that. You see, I embarrass myself pretty much on a daily basis, and I have learned to just embrace it.

However, if you’re asking about my most  embarrassing moment (and you are, Blogtober), I would have to say that it goes back to the fall of my senior year of high school.

Who would think this could cause so much humiliation...

Who would think this could cause so much humiliation…

You see, we had a bunch of cats because I love animals too much and when my cat had kittens that weren’t later adopted, I couldn’t bear to turn them over to the shelter. So we had too many cats, and one male came of age before we could get him fixed. As you may know, male cats mark their territory with a most foul spray. Like, that shit REEKS.

Well, this cat decided that my backpack was his territory. And I didn’t notice that it was his territory as I rushed out the door to meet my ride to school. In fact, I didn’t notice it until I got to school when everyone else also noticed it because as I said, that shit REEKS.

At my high school, we also didn’t have lockers–something about fear of kids stashing drugs and guns or something. So I had no place to stash said stinky bag. I tried to leave it in the corner of my first period teacher’s room, but she found me an hour later and told me that she knew a cat had sprayed my bag and that I definitely could not leave that bag in her classroom.

So I had to be that stinky girl, carrying around that bag all day. Of course everyone talked about it, and of course I was then the gross crazy cat lady.


Don’t feel too sad for me though. I’m living better than about 75% of my former classmates (per anecdotal Facebook evidence, of course). I still love kitties, and I totally embrace the “cat lady” insult– we have 2 cats and I adore them. So suck it, high school and all of your embarrassing and awkward moments.

The Daily Tay Blogtober14

What I Don’t Believe In

Today’s Blogtober prompt is What Are Your Superstitions?

So here’s what: This girl, right here, is not superstitious about anything. Sorry. But there is not a damn thing that I can’t chalk up to logic or probability or science, and I kind of like those things.

I’m going to take it a step further:

I also do not believe in Karma.


What?! I know, I know. Karma is one of those lovely thoughts that help people sleep at night, and it’s all about balance and justice and yeah yeah. I just don’t believe that there is some cosmic force doling out justice, and if there is, it really sucks at its job. There are some people in this world who were dealt a really shitty hand , and that is never going to change. And there are some really awful people who will never truly know suffering.

Karma is one of those ides that makes people feel better when someone else wrongs them, like, oh but don’t worry, karma will come back to get him. But what happens when something shitty happens to you? Do you get a flat tire and think, Oh, that must be my karma for taking that parking space that someone else wanted.  No. When a family member gets cancer, do you shrug and think, well, he must have done something really shitty. Of course not! Because when people believe in Karma, they only believe that it serves to avenge those who they think deserve it or to reward them for a good deed. It never affects YOU badly; you’re only the victim of someone else who now deserves bad karma.

People embrace Karma in the same way they do superstitions– it gives them a sense of control in an uncontrollable world. No amount of salt over your shoulder or knocking on wood is going to change any of it, so just embrace the wild ride. Be a decent person not because there will be some Karmic reward for it, but just because it’s the decent thing to do.

Well that’s my two sense on things. But what about you? Are you superstitious about anything, and if so, why?


Helene in Between Blogtober

A Letter to My Younger Self

A Letter to my Younger Self

Same picture as my" letter to myself in 10 years post," because laziness.

Same picture as my” letter to myself in 10 years post,” because laziness.

 Dear self,

Quit caring about whether people like you. There are people who don’t, and that is okay. There will always be people who don’t like you, and you will probably not even know about them, and you know what?

It’s okay.

In all of that time that you worry about trying to impress others, you could actually be doing shit. Like, important shit. Plus, there are people who do genuinely like you; pay attention to them instead.

Focus on your education, because that is some important shit. But don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out. No one really does. Okay, maybe some people do, but don’t trust them. Life is all about figuring it out as you go and learning from your mistakes. Own up to your mistakes, and don’t trust people who don’t.

Be humble. Be patient. Be grateful. When life gets rough, just remember that it does indeed get better.

Wear sunscreen. Save your money.

But most importantly, enjoy every minute of it.


You in 2014.


Helene in Between Blogtober

Who Would Play Me in a Movie

Who Would Play You in a Movie?

 This question has always made me a little uncomfortable, because I feel like it sets people up to sound vain. No matter what actor a person says, we all know that everyone else is going to be judging just a little bit, thinking, really? You think you kinda look like her?

Okay, maybe I’m just the judgey one.

So I am picking someone who I look nothing like.


I think that Emma Stone has the sense of humor and snarkiness to be me in a movie. I think that she could make some of those awkward moments at least seem tolerable and maybe endearing so that you’d want to still watch the movie.

Also, she’s a self-confessed Spice Girls fan, so she’s obviously qualified.


Helene in Between Blogtober


My Favorite Book

Okay, I am going to be that person. Today’s question is “What is your favorite book?” and I am going to be that pretentious asshole who says:


Look what Marilyn is reading!

Look what Marilyn is reading!

 Sorry, but it’s the truth. I wrote my M.A. thesis on it, and I happen to actually really like it. Yes it is difficult to understand and in some ways pretty inaccessible, but when you study it and decode some references and figure out what is happening, it’s actually a very, very rewarding book.

In my experience, it contains a lot of very complex ideas on compassion, empathy, love and forgiveness. It’s about making an ordinary day extraordinary.

But I am not going to try to sell you on it anymore because I realize that declaring Ulysses as my favorite book is probably the most cliched, obnoxious hipster thing to do in the minds of most people, and I am okay with that.  Even I think it is a little bit obnoxious, but it just is what it is.


The Beauty Product I Cannot Live Without

Today’s Blogtober prompt is What beauty product can you not live without? That’s a tough one, because I am a bit of a product junkie. I can’t get out of the shower without slathering on moisturizer or leave-in conditioner in my hair, and my drawers are over flowing with skin care products.

But if I had to choose just one, as in it’s the zombie apocalypse and I have to make do, it would be…

Vaseline. I’ve posted about this before, back when I first started blogging and no one but my mom read this. I like the way I put it then:


I friggin’ love Vaseline. I keep tubs of it all around, especially in my night stand. If you’re already thinking about teenage masturbation jokes, save it; my boyfriend has beaten you to that one a hundred times over.


Seriously though, there is a lot of magic going on in that gooey tub. Here are some of my favorite things you can do with it:

  • Got dry skin? Vaseline has an app for that. Rub it in to your cuticles to avoid hangnails. Rub it into your elbows to avoid elephant skin. Rub it anywhere you have recently shaved– this also helps prevent ingrown hairs!
  • Extend your pedicure by coating your feet in it, then slipping on some socks for at least 30 minutes. The more often you do it, the less you’ll need that callus remover that they always charge you $5 for.
  • Dab a q-tip into it and use it as a make-up eraser
  • Apply it underneath eye shadow or on the apples of your cheeks for a glowy, dewy look
  • Use it as a nightly eye cream. Legend has it that it helps your lashes grow longer. I can’t confirm this, but I can confirm that it works just as well for me as expensive eye creams and keeping the area around my eyes soft.
  • Rub some on older shoes or a handbag to make them look brand new
  • You can use it on the ends of your hair to hide split ends, or in place of hair wax/goop/product to create a choppy or piece-y look if you’re going for that
  • It makes one of the best lip balms, especially when your lips are already chapped. Or rub some on, then scrub your lips with a toothbrush to exfoliate.
  • I recently learned that if you apply it to the skin before applying perfume, it makes the perfume last longer (!)
  • Puff up from eating too much salt and can’t get a ring off? Vaseline will help that bad boy slip right off.
Those are mostly beauty-related, but you can also do things like keep your jack-o-lantern from rotting so quickly, for getting gum off the bottom of a table, and keeping your car battery from corroding. 
Not gonna, lie, I learned those last three from googling it. But seriously, Vaseline is one of my favorite things for good reason. 
And in case I got the Flaming Lips song stuck in your head, here you go:
So there you go. Go out and get yourself a tub of Vaseline, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the next Blogtember post.
Helene in Between Blogtober

How I Edit My Photographs

Today’s Blogtober prompt is What is your favorite Instagram/picture editing to use?

 I don’t use any kind of editing tool, so I don’t know how to– Yeah right! If you read my “biggest secret” post, you’d know that I use Pic Monkey to edit out fine lines, fill in my eyebrows, airbrush my skin, you get the idea.

I’ll give you a good example of what I do with Pic Monkey. Let’s use the photo over there to your right, the one that is above the description of the blog. Here is what it looked like before any editing:

first draft


It’s not bad per se, but the lighting wasn’t so good, and you can see crows feet around my eyes when I smile.

Here’s the more polished, edited version:

tiaraChanging the exposure made me look washed out and pale, so I also added some “blush” to the photo.

As you can see, I don’t do anything drastic. No adding in a thigh gap or cutting off half of my chin or anything like that. My photography skills are pretty much non-existent, and so most of what I use Pic Monkey for is cropping, changing the exposure, and things like that. Occasionally though, my light eyebrows disappear in photos, or I look more wrinkled than (I hope!) I do in person.

Pic Monkey is also great for creating graphics like the one from yesterday’s post. It’s perfect for the technologically unsavvy person like me who tried to learn Photoshop but said “Nope” after just a few minutes of trying to figure out what everything meant.

So spill it: what editing tools do you use?


Helene in Between Blogtober


My Pet Peeves

Oddly enough, I’ve been looking forward to this Blogtober post, maybe because I have so many pet peeves. There is something therapeutic about a good venting session about what bothers me, so here goes:

Don't Be This Person

  • When people try to text and walk in crowded places. Almost every day on campus I will have a student walk right in to me, or just barely miss because he/she was looking down at a phone.
  • Perfectly- abled people who take the elevator up one floor. Walk up the stairs, lazy ass! (Too be sure, wearing stilettos or carrying something heavy are an exception to this.)
  • Replacing numbers for letters. I will seriously NOT give an establishment my business if their name or advertisements use cutesy spellings or using numbers for words.
  • Having to repeat myself, especially while teaching, especially if I just explained something.
  • When people post mundane, meaningless things on Facebook, like “going to a doctor appointment!” or “making dinner then going to bed early!”
  • When people try to merge lanes on the freeway but are going significantly slower than people in the desired lane. No, I will not slow down and cause an accident for you to get over. Speed up to the same pace of the lane you want to be in!
  • When people smoke anywhere near me. Sorry not sorry. You need to quit. This is coming from someone who DID quit smoking years ago. It wasn’t that hard.
  • When people “Reply All” when there is no reason to include ALL of those other people in the conversation.
  • When people can’t control their kids or their dogs. If a kid is running around a store obnoxiously or a dog continues to jump on me, I am definitely judging that parent.
  • When people don’t know how to use an apostrophe correctly. IT IS NOT HARD.
Helene in Between Blogtober
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