On May 3rd, 2019, I got engaged to my wonderful, kind, perpetually-smiling boyfriend of over 2 years. It was such a magical moment, and being a Youtuber, Robbie had filmed it all with 2 DSLR’s, 2 Go-Pros, and no less than 5 cellphones. The events that transpired were definitely surprising, but the ring he proposed with was certainly not. You see, two months prior to the proposal, we had decided that we should find a ring together, seeing as how I would wear it for the rest of my life.
Setting aside whether I would recommend picking out a ring with your soon-to-be fiance before the proposal until the end of this post, the search for the perfect engagement ring started months before he got down on one knee. We had entertained the idea of diamond-alternatives like moissanite and white sapphire at first. After all, we like to think of ourselves as practical millennials. But a few weeks into our 6-week trip to Beijing, China to visit my side of the family, it became clear that though we didn’t care about the material or the size of the stone, my relatives had a different idea. Apparently, the ring must check all the boxes on a family checklist that we knew nothing about:
In a moment of despair after visiting upwards of ten stores in a high-end mall in China and coming out empty handed, we turned to the internet. We typed in the numbers for the 4 C’s we needed into a search bar, and to our surprise, the first results that popped up were diamonds in our price range from Blue Nile, Brilliant Earth, and James Allen! We couldn’t believe it! That was our first introduction to strictly online retailers.
We were ecstatic, though cautious. I mean, buying an engagement ring off of the internet sounds super sketchy! We felt like we had no way of ensuring we’d get the diamond we’ve selected. What if we got it and I didn’t like it? What if it looks different on my hand than I’d imagined? What if the sizing wasn’t right?
That was when the countless hours of research came in. Being a total math-brain, I was determined to convert the confusing and subjective ideas of what makes a good engagement ring into cold, hard numbers. And that’s exactly what we did. In the end, we had a complete checklist with not only the 4 C’s, but also details about fluorescence, depth, certification, and more. Basically, we had made a passport for our dream diamond ring.
Armed with our “passport”, it really came down to finding an online retailer with the setting that I liked. After browsing endless solitaire settings (who knew there were so many ways to set a single stone!), the one from James Allen won out. From then on, it was easy. We simply typed all the numbers into the filter and picked the diamond we like the best. The 10x magnified pictures of the diamonds showed every detail and made the selection process easy. We got it set in a platinum setting because I’m a total klutz. And 20 minutes later, we had made one of the biggest purchases of our lives.
The ring came in 2 weeks later in an inconspicuous white shoebox, complete with a lifetime warranty, a 60-day free resizing, a GIA certificate, and an internal appraisal that was nearly 30% higher than our purchasing price. It was actually quite amazing! The band I ordered was about a size and a half too big, and we made the decision to get it sized on Diamond Jewelry Way next to our apartment instead of sending it back and waiting 3 weeks for it to return to me. We also decided to get an in-person appraisal that wasn’t from James Allen, and it scored even higher than the initial appraisal. Needless to say, we were ecstatic.
In the months after the purchase, Robbie and I had talked more about our “risky purchase” from the internet and dissected the reasons why we had such a good experience. We’ve concluded that shopping for engagement rings online could indeed be a great option if you’ve done your homework. And here’s why:
Now, I promised at the beginning of this (monstrously long) post that I would comment on whether I recommend buying the ring with your partner and waiting to plan the proposal. Like everything in life, it depends on the couple. For me, I loved having the peace of mind of knowing I’m 100% happy with the ring and that it’s insured and sized correctly. However, I’m a very nervous person who hates surprises. So for two months, tensions were high in and out of our apartment as I tried to find out details about the proposal, when it was going to happen, whether Robbie was going to lose the ring, etc. Robbie would be the first to tell you that his biggest mistake was telling me that he had started planning the proposal because it just kicked my anxiety into high gear. I’m sure he’d agree with me that if he could do it over again, he would have hidden the ring as soon as it was sized and insured, not told me when he started to plan it, and just generally not talked about it as much, even when I would ask him about it non-stop.
Despite my being a ball of nerves for 2 months, the proposal happened and it was as perfect as my ring. You can watch the video of it below. Now, wedding planning is in full swing and we are both very excited. And I’m sure through this process and well into our marriage, we’ll be doing the one thing I keep harping on in this post: doing our research.
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed professional in nutrition or medicine. This is my personal story and journey. Consult a doctor before making major nutritional changes.
I have a confession: I'm a serial dieter. I've been hopping from fad diet to fad diet ever since the 5th grade. I've tried juice cleanses and single food diets and being vegetarian and cutting out carbs and even the Hollywood Cookie Diet that one time (I did it for 2 days before I quit, but I did end up with lots of yummy cookie snacks). All of this effort to try to achieve my perfect weight, which according to my mom, is always 20 pounds lighter than my current weight. Well, none of it had ever worked, not because the diets were crazy (well, the cookie diet was a little crazy), but because I never found one that I could stick to for one simple reason: I LOVE food. So, the years went by and my weight kept going up. I was never conventionally fat, but I was perpetually flirting with the line between healthy and overweight.
Last Christmas, 2017, I resolved to lose some weight. 10 lbs, not too crazy. Sure, I'd had weight loss as a resolution for the past 10 years, but I figured I'd give it another try. A real try this time. You see, I'd just graduated from college, I had a gym membership, a gym buddy (the boyfriend), and maximum control of what I put into my body. Armed with my Fitbit Alta and the matching app, I was ready.
Now, I've tried counting calories before, but those diets ended quickly due to 1) my lack of knowledge on how many calories are in any given food item, and 2) pure and simple laziness. But this time, I had help. The Fitbit app supplied me with all the information I needed including calories out, calories in, and a calorie counter set to losing one pound each week. For 4 months, I followed the app to a T. However, the results weren't so great. I was essentially binging and purging, but instead of throwing up, I'd walk laps around my building or in the hallway, just to earn that bubble tea. But I was obsessed. My Fitbit controlled my life.
It wasn't until I was in a performance that strictly prohibited jewelry that I was forced to part with my Fitbit device. Without the knowledge of how many calories I was putting out, I had to set a consistent calories-in value. That was when I stumbled onto Kathryn Morgan's Youtube Channel. She's a real life ballerina who danced with the New York City Ballet as a principle dancer. In one of her videos, she said that she eats about 1500 calories a day. And I decided if that's enough for a ballerina, then it's enough for me.
When I started limiting my calories to around 1500 each day, something unexpected happened. Something good: slowly but surely, the numbers on the scale started going down. To my surprise, the months of looking up calories for every food item and carefully measuring out food portions allowed me to eyeball food and get pretty darn close to it's caloric content. I started to gravitate toward whole foods and less processed foods because they are naturally lower in calories than their heavily-processed equivalents. I can have cheat days as long as at the end of the week, the average calories in clocked in at around 1500. And, best of all, it doesn't feel like a chore. It's completely sustainable for me.
Now, 7 months after my New Years resolution, I've lost 10 pounds. I wanted to share this story with you because counting calories generally gets a bad rap for causing obsessive behaviors. Or else, it's seen as a way to go on a junk food starvation diet. But I'm here to tell you that it is doable, and if you do it right, you'll think twice about grabbing that cupcake when you are in need of something sweet and reach for a peach instead. You may decide to wrap up half of a big meal and have the leftovers for another meal. Calorie counting is a tool to make you aware of what you are putting in your body. So if you would like to change your eating habits, don't blow off this method. Just be aware of why you are doing it and how this tool will help you. And if you try it and it doesn't work for you, that's great, too! Go on and experiment with other healthy diets and find the most sustainable one for you. And hey, good luck on your nutrition journey!
Hi! Mommy finally came back from NYC this weekend! It's been the longest time. I was so happy when she came home with grandma I ran around her in circles to show how ecstatic I was that she's finally home! Mommy told me I should formally introduce myself to the world, and I've never really done that before (though I have appeared online before). Here I go:
When I was little, barely covered in fluff, I had to go around the streets looking for food. Then, a long time later, some nice people found me under a bridge where I was digging through some people food that smelled really odd and brought me back to a place with big lights and doors. There, they gave me some doggie food and lots of water. Then, one day, I woke up, and my belly was all sore. Soon after, I was moved to my own room.
The people kept talking about the SPCA while I was in my own room. There were different people there all the time, but I didn't like them very much. They wanted to pick me up and pet me, but I didn't like it. And then, one day, mommy came in and I took one sniff and realized that she is my human! I jumped into her arms and she cuddled me for an hour straight! Then she left and I was so sad I didn't want to eat anything. I thought she'd never come back! But the next day, she came back with grandma and grandpa, and I've been with her ever since.
I try to be a good girl. I potty trained myself and I never complained. When I was little, I'd defeat all of my squishy opponents and tear out their stuffings. But these days, I prefer to cuddle with them instead and only chew on mommy's underwear.
When I was one, mommy brought home a little black squishy thing. He had the biggest ears I've ever seen! I thought he was a toy, so I tried to bite him and tear out his stuffings, too. But then he looked at me and sniffed me! Well, I was so scared I jumped and ran around while that little thing chased me! It was really quite embarrassing. Eventually, I got it through my head that he's my little brother his name is Milo. But, oh gosh is he annoying. He is always following me and cuddling up to me. Can't a girl just get some peace and quiet once in a while?
When I was four, grandpa drove Milo and me from home where the weather is nice and we're close to the beach to a place where it's scalding for a long time and then freezing for a long time and then scalding again. I mean, what's that white stuff on the ground and what does it do besides make my paws all cold and numb?
Now I'm six and my favorite thing to do is help mommy with cooking. She always puts things on the ground for me to eat. Sometimes she throws things on the ground and then yell at me when I try to eat it and feed it to the trash can. I wish I were the trash can. He gets all the good stuff.
Some hobbies of mine: cuddling with mommy in bed (though she has recently moved our cuddling to the bath tub... But there's no water so I guess it's okay), eating Greenies (those things are so yummy), taking walks outside (preferably without Milo, but that doesn't happen often), and sitting behind mommy while she works at her desk. My biggest pet peeve is that mommy sometimes leaves me with grandpa without any warning for a long period of time, and I don't get to see her. My dream is for mommy to be home all the time and for Milo to disappear when I don't want him to be here and reappear when I get lonely. Also, I wish mommy would stop holding me while she practices. She used to squeeze me too tight but now she's gotten a little better, but it's still loud.
So that's a little bit about me. I'll probably be writing a couple more posts in the future. Nice talking to you! Have a good day and I wish you many Greenies in the future.
I did a thing this week! I moved to New York City with my boyfriend to pursue my dreams of being a successful musical theatre performer. It’s terrifying, I’m not going to lie. Now that I’m here, “living too far away” is no longer a valid reason to not go to auditions anymore. All that is left is my crippling fear of failure. *forced laugh turns into crying*
Now, I’ve moved many times (like… in the double digits times) in my 22 years of life. They’ve all been quite painful. But this time, I think I’ve finally figured the moving thing out, and I’m here to pass on my new-found knowledge. Here are 8 tips to make moving less painful for everyone involved.
This week, as I sat at my cluttered dining room table scrolling through Facebook on my phone, I came across this interesting Buzzfeed article, I Lived By The One-Minute Rule For An Entire Week! More out of boredom than interest, I tapped on it. Turns out the One-Minute rule is the rule that: "If it takes less than a minute, just do it right now." Huh. Sounds like something my mom would say. According to Natalie Brown, the writer of this particular post, she has made small changes throughout the week like putting things away right after she's used it and making her bed in a minute, as well as bigger changes like starting out to put away a few dishes but then decided to just wash them all instead because she's already kind of doing the chore (though that one was driven more by laziness...). She stated at the end of the article that she will continue to abide by the one-minute rule.
I clicked off of the article after reading it and looked up from my phone. On my table, there were 2 dishes from dinner, a bunch of books and papers, two open folders of rep and scenes, and a ton (and I mean, a TON!) of colored pens. It was a total mess. So thinking of what I'd just read, I thought, "Well, closing my folders and putting them back on the shelf takes less than a minutes, and I don't even have to get up." And then, once that was done, I thought, "Hmm. I could just scoop up these pens and put them in a jar." So I did that also. "Just stack the books and papers on your shelf so the table looks kind of clean." Done. "Now the dirty plates are bothering me. They're taking up the whole table." So I brought the plates over to the sink and plopped them down. And then, because I was already there, I put on some gloves and scrubbed them and put them in the dishwasher. And, because my gloves were already on, I decided to scrub the stove. In 10 minutes, I'd cleaned my whole kitchen and dining room.
"Well, that worked brilliantly, and now I'm in a cleaning mood!" I thought to myself. I walked around my apartment looking for other things to clean. By the end of the night, I'd done 2 loads of laundry and cleaned my bathroom. This trick is awesome!
No, granted, it's not really how this trick is supposed to work. It's really for those little annoying things that you could do now but usually leave it for later. The next three days, I actually used the trick how it was intended to be used. For the first time in my life, the bed was made every day, the bathroom sink was wiped down at the end of the night, and things I've used returned to their homes after their useful fieldtrips.
So, I'm here to tell you, try it. Just try it if you're like me and get annoyed by the never-ending mini chores. Just take one minute and put that pen back, or load your laundry, or throw out that take-out from 4 days ago. Future you will be so much more productive and happier because past you decided to take one minute to do what we all hate to do.
P.S. If you are a naturally neat person, and you don't need the one-minute rule to be productive and keep the house clean, well... we're not all amazing like you, but we're working on it.
Prefer listening to reading? No problem! Click the audio player above and get comfy!
2018 gave me the gift of a row of blown pixels on my laptop. On New Year's Day evening, I was watching iZombie and making paper flowers alone (like a normal person...). I looked up from my flowers, and there was a row of flickering pixels all along the bottom of my screen. I immediately tried to fix it with a pixel-fixer app, but that did nothing except hurt my eyes and give me a headache. So, it was off to Best Buy the next day, where a "geek" told me that it would cost upwards of $300 to fix. Well, I didn't have $300 sitting around to fix my one-year-old computer, so I called my accident insurance and was told that they only cover accidents. So basically, I would have been better off spilling a Coke on it. Frustrated, I looked back and found that I bought my laptop on January 2nd, 2017. Perfect! The manufacture's warranty still applied! I called Microsoft and, 3 hours and 2 call-backs later, my laptop was dropped off at FedEx to be traded in for a brand new one. All this to explain how I was without a laptop for 10 days. "Big deal!" you say. "It's just 10 days. How dependent are you on your laptop?" Very, is the answer it turns out. So, here are some things I learned from this experience.
1. Sometimes you need a bigger screen. Like most people, I have a super computer on hand at all times - I'm talking about my phone. While that's perfect for browsing Facebook and reading creepy pastas, it's harder to do actual business on it. For example, looking through Backstage.com is much more difficult on a phone than on a proper computer.
2. You can't multitask. I'm the kind of person who likes having noise on at all times. The silence freaks me out. (Also, white noise freaks me out because I start hearing voices in it. Must be those creepy pastas.) When I have a computer, I can have a show on in the background while I answer emails and/or surf the web. That's much more difficult to do with just a phone.
3. A real keyboard is 1000 times better than a tiny one. I have a Blackberry phone that runs on Android and I love it because of its physical keyboard. It's easy to use and more accurate in my experience than any digital keyboard out there. However, when I'm typing a blog post, I'd rather have a full-size keyboard. It's SO MUCH EASIER! Also, you won't get a thumb cramp, which is important (for health reasons?)
4. Everything you own is on the computer. My resume, headshots, dog pictures, important documents - all of them were on my laptop. I didn't realize how many documents I had on that thing! Not to mention all my sheet music, character analysis, calendar, you name it.
5. You need a computer to print things. I mean, I guess you can print things from your phone now because technology is so advanced, but I never got that far. I still plug in my printer to my laptop to print everything. So, because I'm behind on the tech game, I read sheet music off of my tiny phone screen for 10 days straight. That was fun...
6. It made me switch over to paper. I started putting everything I needed to do in my planner all the time. Because of this, I actually didn't need to look at the planner as much because the act of writing it down helped me remember it. I hope this habit will stick and I won't have to rely on reminders anymore. We'll see what happens.
7. The stigma is real (in my head). I feel like when you're on your computer, you're "working." But when you're on your phone, you're "messing around." Nobody actually talked to me about this, but it's just something I've noticed. I realized I apologized more for using my phone and had to justify it by explaining that I'm doing work. It made me realize the different main usages of these devices.
I have my computer back now, thankfully. This total first-world experience made me more aware of the benefit of putting pen to paper and, also, just how reliant on my laptop I was. To everyone I've ever said that "my life is on my phone," I take that back. My life is on my computer. But now, hopefully, less of it will be.
It has been a while since I made any new content, so I thought it's about time I made a video explaining why I was gone for so long. I hope you enjoy this video!
Recital Video recorded and edited by Robbie Frank of Reflections Film LLC.
Readings and Carols picture from Westminster Choir College Facebook Page.
Avenue Q Poster from Rhino Theatre in Pompton Lake, New Jersey.