PRODUCT REVIEW: Black Milk Clothing // Game of Thrones, Lannister Shooter

Ever since I discovered Black Milk Clothing a couple years ago, I’ve been dying to get some of their clothes. Black Milk is an Australian-based clothing brand that specializes in leggings, dresses, tops, and swimsuits. They often feature crazy designs and patterns, typically with a general theme with each release. Along side original designs, they have collections from famous entertainment, such as the movies Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, to the video game Mass Effect and the beloved comic book character Batman.

For a long time though, I just couldn’t get myself to make the plunge but I was dying every time I went to the website. Then they introduced their Game of Thrones collection and I knew I had to finally do it.

What immediately caught my eye was the Lannister Shooter, a jersey for one of the most infamous families on the show (I would try to explain the show but that’s a little too complicated for this blog post). The design jumped out at me the instant I saw it, and my comfort level doesn’t reach for enough for me to order the nylon type spandex dresses and shirts, so I figured an athletic type jersey was the perfect choice for me. Unfortunately I stalled in my purchase when it first came out, and in traditional Black Milk fashion (pardon the pun), they were out of stock in my size. Devastated, I decided that it was not meant to be.

Regardless though, I put my email down to be notified when the jersey was to be restocked and hoped for the best. It turns out that the best meant that it would be restocked just after my 20th birthday. It was while I was in Italy that I sent in the panicked order, terrified that somehow ordering through my phone would mess it up. And then I waited for the package from Australia. Then just ten days later, my mom woke up from a nap with a black package in hand. Winter may be coming, but my order had arrived.

bmlannisterjersey01I instantly fell in love. The shooter looked the exact same in person as it did on the website. The quality of the manufacturing is amazing and I couldn’t believe the overall quality of the product, which is good because Black Milk is unfortunately pretty expensive. However, it didn’t take long for me to appreciate that this product is well worth the cost.

I ordered a medium, which is slightly large on me. While I’m sure I could technically fit into a small, I felt that a medium was best for this particular style.

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The jersey is incredibly lightweight as well, even with it’s main color being black. Along with the package came a couple other things. One in particular I loved – a letter from Black Milk’s creator. It was both a funny letter and briefly informative, giving me a heads up on the washing (stick with cold water if possible) and that if in doubt when it comes to matching it with other colors, “you really can’t go wrong with black.” Along with all of this, I finally got to see Black Milk’s social media at it’s best. From everything I’ve heard, they are fantastic as a company when it comes to dealing with social media and interacting with their customers (affectionately called Sharkies). With my jersey came the hashtag #bmlannistershooter for when I upload photos to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With it were the links to all of the sites that Black Milk is a part of and where to find them. As well as the letter, I received a Black Milk sticker and a business card, as well as the official announcement about their new American location!

Overall, I’m so excited about making this purchase. It’s everything I was dreaming it would be and more, and I know that I’ll definitely make sure to have a piggy bank dedicated to my next purchase from them.

 

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Struggling with Post-Europe Depression

It’s now been three full days since we returned from our two-week long trip to Italy. And while at the time I was excited to come home, now that I’m here I’ve fallen into my usual post-Europe depression.

I’ve been lucky enough to go to Europe a handful of times the past two years (and it will continue into a month-long trip in January), and I’ve loved every trip. The hard part is coming home and readjusting to everyday life again.

I took a grand total of 2600 photos in the two weeks, a number that has yet to surprise anyone that knows me at all. And it’s the process of going through them that has made me the most down. I get bogged down with “wow remember how beautiful these flowers were?” and “that was the best pasta dish of the whole trip” and “I had forgotten how surreal the Tuscany area was.” Soon I find myself just going through the photos rather than actually weeding through them. Soon it all just seems like a wonderful dream.

I kept a journal the entire trip (I’m actually still an entry or two behind so I’m still wrapping it up) in order to help myself remember the details. The different couples we met and ate with. The strangers that we connected with and separated, never learning their name but knowing their story. It’s filled with plane ticket stubs and museum passes, business cards and brochures. A recounting of the wine tasting we went to and stories about our Italian driver who plays in a cover band for Green Day. The little things that didn’t make the camera but will always remain an essential element to our Italian fairytale.

When you spend two weeks without a car, relying on only trains and buses, it’s rough to come back to the grid system of suburbia. Sitting in traffic in a car weighs you down even more than it used to. Walking everywhere, restaurants, museums, grocery stores, etc., seems so easy and active and then you find yourself sitting at home debating that fifteen minute drive to Target to pick up two things. Having simple meals (I’m ruined for American Italian food now) and stopping for a gelato to eat on the square seemed like the perfect relationship with food, and combined with the walking led to a personal five pound weight loss. Going from feeling content there to feeling stuffed here seems like chaos as my stomach mourns for fresh pasta and bread.

It was truly a different world over there. I’m so honored that my parents included me on their 25th anniversary trip because it was truly the trip of a lifetime. From hiking the Italian coast line in Cinque Terra to watching the sunset over the river in Florence, it was one of the best Europe trips I’ve been on. But now I’ve come home to work and prepping for my junior year of college and I find myself dreaming of escaping back to Italy. And I know that in time the feelings will fade and talking about it will be with excitement and not longing. But for now Italy will be on my mind as I continue the narrowing down process of the photos I took, and get ready to share them with family and friends.

Ciao Italia, until next time.

MAKEUP REVIEW: Almay Shadow Stick

Ever since I began to wear makeup, I started to have an obsession with it. I loved the ability to transform with it, as well as just do just simple enhancements. While it may have started out as a shield to hide behind, I’ve now grown confident enough that I wear makeup purely for fun and to experiment with.

My typical look tends to be over-dramatic cat eye, but lately I’ve been branching out and trying to find other looks. Recently I had a bunch of coupons for makeup products, and took the opportunity to try out different brands. One of those products was Almay’s “Shadow Stick” – a type of eye shadow product it appeared. I thought it would be a fun idea to try a makeup review of the product and see how that goes!

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The one I bought is specific for brown eyes, which I always appreciate since it feels that brown is the constantly overlooked color. The brown side is a highlight, while the green is the base/main color. The instructional video that Almay posted described it as “build-able color,” which is a great way to put it. First on, the green is very light in color and needs to be layered on. I didn’t have a problem with the extra times it took to get a solid build up, probably because I was picturing that it would work as a good hint of color to add. The highlight is very difficult to see but I suppose that’s the point.

Both colors went on very smoothly and I didn’t feel like I was having to drag it across or irritate my eyelid at all, which was an initial concern.

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These photos are just of the Almay shadow stick by itself. All I have on otherwise is a bit of primer underneath (which is what I do for all of my looks). I would never wear the look by itself as it’s a little bare for me, and a strange color to leave alone. I was pleased with how easy it was to apply. So from there, I applied some of my trusty other makeup products to the look to see how well it blended with or how well it would make its way into my every day looks.

IMG_3117 IMG_3118While less of a “typical” look for me, I thought the green worked really well with a neutral smokey brown addition to it. I instantly liked the product much more once the look was finished. It muted the glittery extra-greenness of the initial shadow and made it much more wearable, while still being fun and different. It’s not too lime green or even forest green and I have to agree that it does work well with my brown eyes.

Overall I was impressed! I don’t know how many more I would actually buy of the shadow sticks (more out of lack of need for more makeup), but I definitely like the product. It was easy to apply, easy to build up, and works well as a finished look. I don’t advise wearing it by itself, but together with other products it looks good. This was my first Almay product and probably won’t be my last!

PS: It says that it’s hypoallergenic which for a lot of people could be really good! That’s not something that applies to me but can be very important for people to look for!

 

 

Personal Update : I am my own phoenix

It feels like a lifetime since I actually posted something other than just photographs or essays on here (most likely because it has been), and I figured it was time for an update.

I’m on the final countdown to the end of my sophomore year, which is crazy to think about. Wasn’t I just posting about my freshman year finishing? It’s absolutely terrifying how quickly college is going by and I find myself scrambling to figure out if I’m truly a responsible adult or just a child pretending to know what’s going on.

My classes have been amazing this semester. I’m only taking three: Cinema Aesthetics, Digital Art, and Corporate Publishing (a graphic design class). The best part about this semester hasn’t just been that I’m only taking three classes, but that these classes represent everything I want to do when I’m out of college. They’ve all connected with each other in different ways and I’ve been able to take skills from each one to the next. Thanks to these classes, I’m finally building up confidence that I’m not actually crazy and that I really could make a career out of my passions.

I recently had a conversation with one of my best friends about how scary the future is. What if I’m actually bad at what I choose to do? What if it actually doesn’t make me happy? What do I do then?

We live in a world where we are expected to have our life figured out when we graduate, and that’s a very scary realization, especially when you’re looking outside the norm of a typical nine to five type of job. What if what I love isn’t enough?

Amongst the anxiety of the future looming overhead, I’ve managed to have a great 2014 so far. I’ve made a lot of new friends and had many new experiences, all helping me grow and celebrate the life I’ve been blessed enough to have. I’ve been able to push myself in my interests and see what I’m able to create, proving myself to my peers, professors, and even myself.

But the biggest news of 2014 falls under the golf part of my life. The other week we were competing down in Jacksonville, FL. Surrounded by friends and family, we found ourselves in 3rd place after the first and second day. We were in a similar spot last year, and I’m sure close friends and families remember the tear-jerk/disaster of an ending. And of course, our final day brought winds up to 35mph. All morning we would catch ourselves changing “if we win” to “when we win.” It was all I could do to keep my nerves in check as I went up to the first tee, the memory of my quadruple-bogey all too clear from the previous year. Yet somehow I found myself on the course that day, calmer than I have ever been. Wind gusts brought me back to high school tournaments in Twin Falls and Pocatello, where you hit and pray and let the wind do its thing. There wasn’t a green I felt I couldn’t read and I found myself dropping putt after putt, burning edge after edge. Walking from the tee box on one whole, bag swung over my shoulder and the wind pushing into my face with the hot sun burning down, I felt the realization. We could do this. I only saw my coach twice that day (both times I drained a 12+ foot birdie putt), and I chose to not ask how my team was doing. I didn’t want to know. I didn’t add up my own score as much as I normally do. Four birdies later, I was even going into the last hole. And in true Kathryn fashion, I bogeyed it with a three putt. Heaven forbid I make this sport easy on myself.

I received nervous thumbs up and smiles from my teammates as I walked to the scorer’s tent. Somehow after everything, it looked like we might have pushed our way to the top. But it wasn’t until I heard the screams that we knew we had done it. I ran up the hill from the scoring table to my teammates and our families. My teammate Emily had been in the group behind me, and after watching me three-putt, my coach had turned to her and said, “Just put it in.” Like a good athlete, she listened to her coach and put it in from the fairway for an eagle.

From then on it was like the smiles couldn’t be erased. All of the wins in high school, the heartbreak from Florida last year, none of it could have prepared me for what it felt like to win a college tournament. Once we were all in and the deal was sealed, we couldn’t stop screaming, laughing, almost crying with joy. Even now I get goosebumps just thinking about it. To top it off they had an amazing burrito buffet in the clubhouse so it’s hard to get any better than that. We spent at least an hour taking photos afterwards, even running onto the 18th green to take a team photo.

It had been four years since the Elon women’s golf team had won a tournament.

With that now behind us, the trophy brought home, and the team championship flag hanging in my room, we move onto the rest of the season. The next three weekends are going to be filled with tournaments as we make that final stretch. Just two more tournaments and then we’ll be on our way to conference. And sadly, once these next three weekends are done, we’ll only have four weeks left of school and I’ll be an upperclassman.

2014 has taken on a life of its own, far surpassing 2013, a year I will gladly leave behind. So here’s to pushing through the struggles and finishing strong. If last year was a personal death, then this year is the rise from the ashes. I am my own phoenix.

G R A V I T Y : FILM CRITIQUE

It’s hard to believe that a movie with only two characters and virtually no location change could be one of the top movies to come out of 2013. Yet Alfonso Cuarón’s newest film Gravity has managed to do just that.

I initially went into Gravity skeptically. Yes the trailer did look cool and all but what on Earth (no pun intended) was the plot? What was going to happen? My friends convinced me to see it, but I insisted to them that I wanted to see it in 3D if we went. I was positive this was the type of movie to see in 3D. While it didn’t do anything too dramatic with the extra dimension (most movies don’t anymore), it was still absolutely worth it.

I am a huge Sandra Bullock fan and as per usual, I was extremely impressed with her performance. She’s incredibly believable as Dr. Ryan Stone and it’s hard to imagine any other actress in that role. I read somewhere that Robert Downey Jr. was considered for Bullock’s male counterpart, but I’m really glad that they decided to go with George Clooney. I would have never pictured the two acting together but they blended extremely well and balanced each other out.

What sells the movie is the cinematography. Emmanuel Lubezki helped create a realistic atmosphere that catapulted the audience into the movie. Rather than an idea of space, the audience is introduced to the real atmosphere of space. One of the most breathtaking scenes was the rising of the sun over Earth, causing the characters and the audience to stare in awe. It’s hard to believe that almost everything in the film was CG (computer generated) as it looked so realistic.

A beauty of the film also lay in the music and sound of it. I was lucky enough to be seated with a great audience; no one made a peep throughout the whole film. At times, there was only silence, no sound at all. It was almost unnerving to experience. Here on Earth, we are used to the constant sound of people and life going on around us. Even when no one is talking in a classroom, there is the buzz of the lights and the rustle of paper. In space though, there is no sound. Watching the explosions and scenes happen with no sound was mind-blowing and strange. I think this accuracy of space is one of the winning decisions that were made. While there are some inaccuracies, they don’t detract or really even add to the story line. But this concept of silence, accompanied only by the radio and Bullock’s character’s own narration, is something entirely different than what people expect.

I absolutely recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see it. If you’re afraid of space or any of that, then maybe the movie isn’t for you. But if you want to see a dramatic, sci-fi thriller, then I give this movie two thumbs up. It’s a beautifully crafted adventure that takes you out of this world and into the one of the most unknown frontiers that we’re still exploring today.

SOLIPSIST: An Experimental Film || Review

Director Andrew Thomas Huang’s experimental film, “SOLIPSIST” is a short film that is filled with awe-inspiring special effects, high contrast between bright colors and darkness, and makes you think hard about the creation that you just watched.

It’s no surprise that this film was a winner at Slamdance 2012 (a festival for independent filmmakers) and received the Special Jury Prize for Experimental Short. The film is a strange combination of inanimate objects interacting visually with silent people, a colorful depiction of what appears to be the idea of separation and coming together. While there isn’t a story arc, I still found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, jaw dropped, waiting to see where this visual piece would take me next.

There are three main sections, each showing a different concept. The first features to women, back to back. In synchrony, the move forwards and back, all the while slowly getting encased in strangely animated objects. I felt anxiety as the scene carried on, struggling to comprehend what was going on. While there was no dialogue at all in the scene, I was still immersed in trying to understand it.

In the second arc, there are strange creations that appear to be floating and interacting. They continue the theme of what seems like separation and joining again, and thanks to later added nondiagetic sound effects to create the idea that these creature things are in fact like small animals. This type of personifying helps create an invisible story line that draws your interest in. The scene appears to something resembling an aquatic setting in an interpretive and confusing way.

The final story arc concludes the previous two in a literal explosion of special effects and color. This part takes the idea of separation and the collapse of… well the collapse of what I’m not totally sure. But the special effects are mind boggling in this scene as everything that has been created so far is suddenly destroyed. The sound effects used in this final scene are almost space galactic like, giving an otherworldly feeling to the scene. Along with that, the two men in the scene are accompanied by animalistic growling sounds as well, taking away their identity of being human as well.

While at first it seems like there is no story, by the end there is some sort of thread connecting the scenes. However there is still no answer to what it all means. Is it really about separation? Is there a story to the idea of what it means to be human?

Each scene creates a sense of confusion and disjointedness, evolving into chaos at times as well. It’s a puzzle in itself, figuring out what it means or what it could mean. I would recommend this short film, but with caution. While I loved it and was mesmerize by the creative style of the film, it’s not quite the film for everyone. But if you’re interested in an explosive, artistic film, I absolutely recommend clicking the link and buckling your seatbelt for watching this mind-bending story.

Film Critique: Descendants (Animated Short Film)

“The most beautiful things are often the most dangerous.”

Descendants is a short animated film written by Heiko van der Scherm, a vibrant visualization that took a total of three years to make. The world created is hauntingly beautiful and accompanied by dramatic, goose-bump inducing music. It is the story of two plants, a wish, and the inherent evil and goodness that can exist in nature.

There was something unusual about the design used when creating these plants with human faces, an even further step than most movies and short films make involving the world beneath our feet. Even though we are not seeing an actor’s face, the close-up shots used still convey deep emotions, something that is important when your main characters are plants. The character design is unique; I don’t feel like I have seen these characters before and that they are their own entity. They are also fully developed, something I wouldn’t have expected from a 15-minute film. Their emotions and actions are extremely realistic and it’s easy to forget that they are simply animated characters.

The short film has similar camera movements of that of a feature length movie, helping give an authenticity to the film. The viewer enters the world with a long, sweeping fluid master shot before beginning the journey. There are close-ups to the characters and a smooth tilt shot helps transition a scene from day to night. These different angles help immerse the viewer into a ground-level world. Due to the nature of the film, where the majority of the plot is driven by the two characters talking, the animation and editing was extremely important to keep it interesting. The music of the film helped generate the mood as well, helping pull the story along and accompany the scenes, adding a

The color palette of the film reminds me of movies such as Lord of the Rings and Snow White and the Huntsman – strong, vivid colors that are like an enhanced version of the world we live in now. Similarly, it reminds me of the animated movie, How to Train Your Dragon. On that movie, the film crew hired a director of photography, even though it was animated, in order to ensure that there was a realistic feel to the film’s styling and coloring and avoiding the cartoon-like bright colors of most animated movies. While I don’t know the process of making the film Descendants, I feel like there might have been a similar process to help create such an authentic and real world.

I would absolutely recommend this film to anyone who was interested. The story line is original and intriguing, unexpectedly drawing the viewer in. It’s a beautiful piece of animation. But most of all this, it’s a powerful film that has more to it than just animation and short film. There are deeper meanings within the story and complex relationships. I at one point had to stop the film to catch my breath and take everything in. I’ve never been so mesmerized by an animated film, or even movie, as much as I was with this one. It is truly art.