I Wore a Different Lipstick Everyday For a Month and Learned a Lot

Back in November I had a few friends make fun of my slight lipstick addiction. I mean I personally don’t think the 50+ lipsticks I own is a problem, but what do I know? Anyways. One of them joked about me making a post every day for a month with a different lipstick, and because my makeup-loving and slightly stubborn heart said “challenge accepted” I knew I had to do it, So because of one comment someone made, suddenly all my friends had to put up with a month of selfies on Instagram. I have to admit though, that I didn’t finish. I only managed to post selfies 28 out of the 31 days of December (let’s blame the no man’s land zone of time between Christmas and New Years), but I still feel like that’s pretty good.

It was nice to wear different colours than I usually wear. I tend to stick to reds and nudes because I love them so much, and I neglect the other colours in my drawer of lipsticks. This forced me to go out of my norm and finally wear the orangey, purple, and pale pink lipsticks I was too afraid to wear before. Not to mention brown. I had a brown lipstick I bought for a cosplay that I had never worn and through this challenge I learned that brown lipstick is a really good look on me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a huge fan of my reds, but I’ll definitely branch out to other colours more often now.

I didn’t start it as a social experiment, but it definitely became one. I noticed that the days I got the most likes were the days I wore the most makeup (usually with a red or a dark lip). I mean, this does make sense to me. I know I pull off a red lip pretty well, and some of the makeup I did over the holidays was some of the best I’ve done. I’m not shy about my makeup skills, I know I’m good at it. However, I also noticed that the pictures that got the most comments were the ones where I wasn’t wearing makeup at all. Some days I was just too lazy to put on a full face of makeup if I was working from home or not leaving my apartment. I would usually make a self deprecating comment about not wearing makeup, because self deprecating humour is sort of my thing. That’s when I’d get the most comments, telling me that I’m beautiful without makeup, and validating me for not wearing it. The thing is, the comments were very sweet, but I don’t need validation. I know I “don’t need” makeup. That’s not why I wear it. I just really love makeup. I find doing it to be really fun. I love experimenting with colours. I feel naked without lipstick. I’m not wearing it because I think I need it to look pretty, or for anyone else; I’m wearing it because I like to. That being said, I will always accept compliments on my makeup skills.

Now what did I get out of this other than the satisfaction that I did it? I mean, I did get some free lipstick out of it so I can’t complain about that. Even more importantly,I gained confidence. A new thing I’m working on this year is taking praise and admitting when I’m good at things. It wasn’t until last year I started calling myself a writer instead of just saying “I write in my spare time”. A couple of nights ago I called myself a seamstress for the first time, so that’s another step. But those are things I get paid for sometimes, I have proof I’m good at them (even if sometimes I don’t think I am). I mean, I guess I know I’m good at makeup, but despite my confidence earlier in this post, I’m not actually very good at accepting compliments when someone tells me I am. I think this challenge helped me get over that a bit. I mean, I didn’t do a full face of makeup for it everyday but when I did, it was nice that people noticed. I think I’m finally understanding that this is something I’m good at. I’m even doing makeup for two weddings this year!

Follow my personal account @alicenricard on Instagram to see my lipstick challenge pictures. If you can’t be bribed with makeup selfies, can I bribe you with the amount of cat pics I post?

List of Lipsticks used:

2018: A Summary

What can I say about 2018 that hasn’t already been said? I think I’m just going to quote Greg from Crazy Ex Girlfriend (which I highly recommend if you haven’t see it).

I wasn’t sure if I was actually going to write a year end blog post this year but after sending a list of things I accomplished to my friend Andrea, I decided if any year deserves for me to brag about my accomplishments, it’s this year.

I saw this tweet by a YA author I love, and yes, that about sums it up. It was a year of learning. I learned so hard.

So let’s sum up 2018:


The Good:

I made not one but two ball gowns this year. I got to live out my fantasy of being a princess. The first one I had help on, but the second one I made all by myself in a week. This was definitely a huge accomplishment for me considering I only started sewing last year. I also made wizard robes for two friends of mine who wore them for their Harry Potter themed engagement shoot, so that was pretty freaking cool.

I also stopped working at coffee shops this year, and am now working full time as a communications coordinator for a non-profit.

This year at FanExpo I had a table where I had 75 of my cup cozy designs. I’m not great at designing stuff myself so it was certainly a challenge. I’m not proud of all of them but I’m proud of myself for trying, and also a lot of them turned out really great. Probably the highlight was getting to sell a Matt the Radar Technician cozy to someone who has cosplayed him. Since FanExpo I’ve also increased sales on my Etsy store which makes me happy. Every time someone leaves me great feedback it fills my heart with joy and makes the whole thing worth it.

I know I already wrote an entire blog post about this, but I would just like to state again that I WROTE A NOVEL. Sorry, don’t mind me while I brag a bit more because writing is really hard. So for those of you who don’t already know (which I’d be amazed if anyone didn’t know at this point) I wrote 50k words in three weeks for National Novel Writing Month. I finished the entire first draft of a novel I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. It’s a complete mess, but that’s what editing is for.


The Bad:

Okay, I’m going to make this brief because I don’t want to go into too many details about the utter mess that was this year. This year was a very personal challenge for me. There was a hospital scare with my Grandmother, there’s been some injuries and other personal issues,  and I had a long term relationship end. I hate the phrase “everything happens for a reason” because I think it’s bullshirt. Sometimes bad shirt just happens. It’s how you deal with it that counts. And honestly I probably could have dealt with most of it better, but I’m human and I’m trying.


The Ugly:

I’ve already talked about this is my last blog post as well, but it’s an important topic I think deserves repeating. I had quite the battle with depression this year. It started back in March and I was always able to come up with some excuse for why I wasn’t happy. Stress, the stuff I mentioned in the previous section, more stress. There was always an excuse. Until I ran out of excuses. Once I had a moment to catch my breath after preparing for FanExpo I fell into a depressive episode so bad I didn’t really leave my house. For three weeks. It wasn’t until I had a complete sobbing meltdown one night on a friend of mine in her car after a perfectly fun night that I realized I needed help and had to do something.

Distraction had been how I’d been dealing get with depression. Over the summer I read a lot of books and watched a completely ridiculous number of tv shows. And it made me feel good while I was doing it, but it didn’t last.

So I don’t ignore it anymore—I embrace it. I take antidepressants, I journal, I jog, I meditate, I allow myself to feel things (even if my poor friends probably wished I would feel less). I give myself challenges. I did NaNo even during a depressive episode. I’m learning to knit. I’m not hiding this part of myself anymore. I talk about it openly, because it’s nothing to be ashamed of. And I’ve had amazing friends who have supported me and let me cry on them/rant about my feelings.


Bring on 2019!

Since 2018 was a challenge, to say the least, a couple friends have told me that 2019 is going to be my year. So bring it! I’m ready.

The Struggle of NaNoWriMo

Back in May I attended the Creative Ink Festival for readers and writers, run by a friend of mine (I even wrote a post about it here). After listening to writers all weekend, I felt inspired to actually try doing NaNoWriMo again. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) is something that happens every November. You sign up on the website and the goal is to write 50,000 words in a month. For those of you who don’t feel like doing the math, that’s 1667 words a day. It’s a slightly insane challenge but I’m stubborn and decided to go for it.

Now fast forward to October when I was supposed to be preparing for NaNo. I knew what story I wanted to write–I was finally going to write the novel I’ve been dreaming about writing since I was eighteen–but I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to do it. The first part of October was spent preparing for FanExpo and the last two weeks was supposed to be full of story planning so I would be ready for November. However, sometimes all the planning in the world can’t prepare you for the shirt life throws at you, and I wasn’t prepared for the challenge even scarier and more daunting than NaNo: depression. Depression is something I’ve struggled with for years, but I wasn’t expecting the depressive episode so bad I didn’t leave my house for three weeks.

To say I was afraid I wouldn’t succeed at NaNo was an understatement. I could barely function, let alone write a novel. However, my friend Andrea, who was also doing NaNo wasn’t going to let me give up without a fight. So instead of spending the end of October planning a novel, I spent it trying to pick myself back up again and mentally prepare myself for a challenge. Thanks to some antidepressants, a good self-care routine, and some great friends I was feeling good enough to start NaNo.

For weeks all I did was write. Luckily I had prepared food ahead of time so I didn’t have to spend any valuable writing time cooking. I tried getting up at 5am in the morning to write but it just wasn’t working for me. I’m way more productive in the evening. However, I continued getting up early so I could go for a run before work. It helped clear my head and gave me a good reason to get out of bed and start my day.

Writing was a challenge some days. You have no clue how many times the words “Writing is hard” was sent between Andrea and I. There were days that my characters would fight me and not do anything I wanted them to. There were also days depression would kick my ash and I wouldn’t want to write anything. However, giving my main character depression and having her struggle to do things as much as I was struggling to write was very cathartic.

I ended up finishing NaNo in 22 days, and I’ve never been more proud of myself for anything. My novel is a mess right now but I got a first draft done and that’s what matters. After all, I can clean it up with more drafts. Andrea and I have said “that’s a problem for future Alicen/Andrea” about things in our stories. The important thing is that i challenged myself and then I shocked myself by succeeding. I would have been happy to have just written 20,000 words in a month, but the fact that I wrote 50k in three weeks, surpassed all my expectations of myself. I often have trouble believing that I’m actually a writer, but maybe this will convince me.

Creative Ink 2018: or how I found my passion again

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer since I was a strange five-year-old writing stories way too mature for my age. I’ve gone through many different genres and mediums of writing over the years, but I always knew that I just wanted to write.

Then I went to film school for screenwriting and after an intense year of doing nothing but writing, I kind of just stopped. I mean, I still write of course. I do write blog posts for a living as well as running this blog and writing fanfiction from time to time, but I stopped seeing myself as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I loved film school, but after a year of hearing how hard the industry is and burning myself out, I needed a break.

So when Sandra told me about the Creative Ink Festival years after I graduated from film school, I felt like a fraud going. It’s a writing festival and I felt like I wasn’t a writer. I couldn’t deny it sounded really cool though so I let my friends talk me into it. I can wholeheartedly say I regret nothing. Not only did I feel completely at home there, I felt a passion for writing again that I haven’t felt in a long time.

The weekend started with a master class with C.C. Humphreys, where he taught us the secret of writing. What is it, you ask? The secret is “writing is writing”, but shh don’t tell anyone. It was so lovely to start of a great festival with such an information-packed class.

The rest of the weekend was filled with so many great panels. I learned about everything from writing routines and how to finish what you started to things like finding your writer’s voice and podcasting. I got so many pages of notes I can’t wait to go through again and apply to my writing.

I’ve never seen a more encouraging and inclusive group of writers than I did at the festival. All the panels were postive and informational and left me feeling like I wanted to go write all the things!

Between listening to all the panelists, speaking to other writers, and spending time around the guests of honour (C.C. Humphreys and Kevin Hearne), I’ve found my passion for writing again and I’m ready to take on this so-called writer’s block!

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets a Shoe to the Face

It’s been over a week since we got back from Emerald City Comic Con and I’m not even sure if I’ve processed it all yet. To say I was nervous and stressed out over the whole thing would be an understatement. I had been freaking out for weeks beforehand, not only that I wouldn’t finish my cosplays in time, but also that the large crowd of people would make me panicky. I’ve been to conventions before but this was the biggest one yet. Not only was I fine, but I had the best time I’ve ever had at a convention.

I’ve already talked about three of my cosplays in my previous blog post, and they all ended up turning out really great even if I was worried about wig styling, but now I’m excited to be able to talk about the dress I wore on the Saturday. This dress was really a dream come true. It was loosely based on the idea of a Princess Leia/Cinderella mashup but we generally just called it Disney Princess Leia for anyone that asked.

I’m not really sure how I decided to do this but sometime last year I was on Pinterest and saw a bunch of Leia artwork and one was Leia drawn in Disney Princess style and I knew it was something I had to do. So I recruited Julia as my only slightly reluctant accomplice and started in on what was going to be my biggest project to date. I took a pattern I already owned (for another ballgown I swear I will make one day) and altered it to fit my vision. We ended up adding more panels of fabric to the skirt as the original pattern wasn’t meant to go over the hoop skirt I was planning on wearing underneath it. Sleeves were added at one point and some things that were a part of my original vision were let go. This dress took months out of my life and probably gave me some grey hair while I was at it, but I can’t even begin to explain how worth it, it all was.

It was a childhood dream come true to walk around in a gown and very sparkly heels all day. Julia was dressed as my Prince Charming Han Solo (her idea guys, I swear!) and we were stopped so many times for pictures. Hell we even did a mini photo shoot on the stairs in our hotel. I had a lot of Cinderella feelings okay. I say this every time I cosplay at a con but there’s something really magical about having tiny children come up to you and get really excited about your costume. I had so many little girls ask me to take a picture with them. Normally, I’m terrible with kids but as soon as I’m in costume I weirdly seem to be able to handle them. I even met Jennifer Morrison while wearing the dress and she said I looked gorgeous. Yeah, I’m really surprised I could say words after that.

All in all it was an amazing con and an amazing experience. But I’m sure you have one more question. What the hell is the title of this post talking about? Well, after a whole day of wearing my sparkly heels, I was very excited to kick them off and I accidentally kicked too high and hit our friend Katherine in the face. Yup, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have one klutzy moment.

And now I start preparing for the next con.

The Wait is Over: The Journey to ECCC

I’ve been planning for Emerald City Comic Con for months. Ever since I ended up not being able to go last year, I wanted to make sure that this year’s was amazing. So I’ve worked my ass off on planning my cosplays to make sure that they’re awesome.

So Thursday I’ve got Rose Tyler, which was a fairly last minute addition when David Tennant and Billie Piper were announced and we decided to go for an extra day. I’m decently happy with it, even if I feel like a Barbie doll with long blonde hair, wearing that much pink. The eyeliner has been fun, though. Hello teenage years, how I didn’t miss you but your eyeliner was fun.

Friday’s cosplay is one I’ve been trying to do for the past year: Hoth Leia. I tried to do it last year at ECCC and wasn’t able to because I got sick and ended up having to stay home. Then I tried again for FanExpo Vancouver last year and had a wig malfunction last minute. I’m not going to lie, I’m not happy with how the costume has turned out but my friends and girlfriend have been trying to convince me that it’s fine and I should just wear it anyways. I guess I’m just disappointed because Empire Strikes Back has been my favourite movie since I was a little girl and I really want to do this costume justice.

I am dying to talk about Saturday’s cosplay but I’m keeping it a secret until the convention (except to all my poor friends who must be beyond sick of hearing about it). Don’t worry, I’ll talk all about it in the second part of this blog post that I’ll publish after ECCC is done. All I’ll say now is that five-year-old Alicen would screech with joy if she knew twenty-three-year-old Alicen was going to end up making this costume.

Lastly, Sunday’s cosplay is another one I’m super excited for (in theory): Punk Leia. I saw some amazing Punk Leia art on Pinterest ages ago and have wanted to do a cosplay inspired by it ever since. However, it didn’t actually become a part of my ECCC plans until a couple months ago. Before that I had even more ambitious plans, that I’m really glad I talked myself out of. Anyways, I don’t know how I feel about this costume right now. I’m having some wig issues because I am completely useless when it comes to hair (and I won’t even have anyone with me that is useful with hair). At this point I’m basically going to wing it and hope to hell it works.

Stay tuned for both pictures from Emerald City Comic Con and the blog post I’m going to be writing afterwards.

This is Fine: or my life is a meme

Back when I was still working at Starbucks a coworker and I used to reference this meme all the time.All we’d have to say is “this is fine” and we’d both burst out giggling because we knew that meant things were anything but and what else could we do.

I haven’t worked at that job in eight months but I still reference it frequently. You’re probably all asking, “Why are you rambling on about this Alicen?” Well, because I’m stressed as hell and if I can’t laugh about stupid memes I’m just going to curl into a ball and not move for the next two months and that isn’t going to help anybody.

Why am I stressed? Oh man, there’s a whole list. Emerald City Comic Con prep, making wizard robes for friends, and my neck being out are just a couple examples but you know what? It doesn’t matter why I’m stressed. Life is freaking hard people and we could complain all day about it but I’ve decided to laugh over stupid memes instead.

So what memes get you guys through stressful times? Feel free to share them with me.

Coffee Shop Cynic and the Quest for Romance: or how Alicen almost chopped off her finger

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and honestly, Valentine’s Day is often something that slips my mind because A. usually I’m single and B. It’s in the middle of February which is my crazy cosplay deadline month. Last year my partner and I went all out but this year we’ve decided to just watch movies at home instead. That still didn’t stop me from trying to do something romantic. Yeah… that went well.

It started a couple weeks ago when I was looking at the Hot Topic website for jewelry for the secret cosplay I’ve hinted at before. Couldn’t find what I was looking for but I did find these adorable rings that would be perfect. It’s a ring set and they only come in one size: one ring is a man’s size and the other a woman’s. Well that got me on a whole rant about heteronormativity, but that’s a rant for another day.

I was mad that the Hot Topic ones only come in those sizes so I searched the internet for similar rings, unsuccessfully. Anything I found was either going to take too long to get here, was too expensive, or had the same sizing problem. I was about to give up until my friend, Vanessa, gave me a shred of hope.

I ranted to Vanessa about it and she suggested that I still get the rings because I can get spacers to make the big one smaller. One call to Hot Topic to get the rings set aside, and one amazon order of ring spacers later, and I’m all set.

The next day I go to pick up the rings, barely looking at them, while rushing to get out of Hot Topic before I A. spend too much money and B. have Star Wars mansplained to me again by the guy who works there.

I get the rings home and notice that the size 7 one is pretty small. That’s the one I’m going to be wearing and I have pretty big knuckles. I know once I get rings on past my knuckles they’re usually fine. So I get it over my knuckle and it’s way too tight.

No panic. I go grab the soap and attempt to get it off. Nothing. Grabbed the lotion. Nothing. Now I’m starting to get a little concerned so I text Andrea while I also google “how to get a stuck ring off”.

I found this article and started following the advice on it. Tried oil–nothing. Tried icing and elevating the finger and ring for ten minutes. Didn’t work. I was running out of options. I started joking with Andrea about just chopping off my finger but she wouldn’t let me. So instead I tried the last suggestion on the list that I could do myself. I slid dental floss under the ring and wrapped the end closest to the top of my finger around my knuckle to compress it while I slid the ring off. Or at least I slid the ring off in theory. It didn’t work… cue me hysterically laughing.

I was pretty tempted to just grab my biggest knife but I’m the only one who thinks that was a good idea so I grabbed my coat and started heading to the mall instead.

Once I got to Brentwood the first jewelers I saw was Michael Hill. I walked in there hoping they could help me and was sorely disappointed. The one woman didn’t even look up at me, she just kept asking me if I’d tried soap or lotion. The other woman started freaking out saying, “Oh my god, it’s so swollen! I don’t want to hurt you! I can’t even look at it!” I knew no one there was going to be any use to me so I kept wandering the mall.

There’s two more jewelry stores in Brentwood so I looked in both and walked into Rodan. The store was full of suave men who were more than willing to help me. I calmly explained the situation while one of the gentlemen cut off the ring. Okay, that’s a lie. I totally sounded hysterical while I was ranting the entire story at him. He just kept calmly trying to cut off the ring. At one point I remember saying, “And I just wanted the rings for cosplay!” and he just calmly replied, “I don’t know what that means, ma’am,” and kept sawing away at the ring. I’m sure he’s been telling his friends about the weird woman who he had to cut a ring off of who wouldn’t shut up about heteronormativity and cosplay. Anyways, because the ring was cheap, he couldn’t put it back together and resize it but he did file down the cut edges for me and reshape it slightly so I can wear it.

I barely lasted two days before telling Julia this story. Forget surprising her for Valentine’s Day, this story was too ridiculous to not share. However, it doesn’t end there. Not long after I told Julia the story we were doing a trial run of said secret cosplays and I grabbed our gloves so we could put them on. It took me a moment but I looked down at our hands and started hysterically laughing. The rings were for nothing because we’re wearing gloves! Sigh. At least it makes a good story. Also, I’m stubborn as hell and we’re totally wearing the rings over the gloves.

Welcome to 2018 (I say a month late)

Life is crazy, we all know that. I’m sure I don’t have to explain how busy I’ve been because most of us are in the same boat. So, that’s my lame explanation for why this post is a month late. Besides, I’m choosing to believe that 2018 starts in February. January is just the free trial month.

I stopped using the term “new years resolutions” years ago. I always found it just led to me setting myself up for failure. So now I just set myself goals. I know, it’s not all that different, but it just seems like less pressure. I have three categories of goals this year: personal, professional/cosplay, and writing.

I’m not going to get too into my personal goals this year because they’re well, personal, but there are a couple I will mention:

  • spend less time caring what people think
  • get A1C down (average blood sugars — I’m diabetic)
  • don’t let the little things get to me as much

My professional goals this year are mainly to do with my own business, as well as my cosplay.

  • get my business LinkedIn and pinterest up and running
  • post more
  • blog more
  • design a new cup cozy every month
  • finish my dream cosplay (which you’ll see in March)

Lastly, my writing goals… I moved to Vancouver to be a writer and it’s something I barely do anymore. I mean, clearly, I still do considering I write this blog, and also I write for a blog for a living, but still.

  • write in the prompt journal I got for Christmas daily
  • write more in general, even if it is fanfiction
  • start writing a musical

Now, I expect you all to hold me accountable for this. I’ll make sure to keep you all updated on how I’m doing on these goals, so you can all keep me honest. Let’s crush this year!

“Someone has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, fly boy.”: How Princess Leia taught me how to be a feminist

As most people who know me know, I’ve always been a gigantic nerd. I was watching nerdy stuff with my mom pretty young. We didn’t always get along (read: we fought a lot) but my favourite memories with her all involve her showing me movies and TV shows she loved.

One of those movies was Star Wars. I remember once when I was little, Mom called me over and told me to find something called “Star Wars” on the shelf of doom (my nickname for the shelves of VHS tapes of movies and tv shows my parents had recorded over the years). Needless to say I loved it. I can’t remember too much from the first time I ever saw A New Hope (past me being mesmerized by it and wanting a pet Wookiee) but I do remember staring wide eyed when a bad-ass princess saved herself and sassed back at the male leads. I was so fortunate to grow up knowing there were female characters like Leia that I could look up to. To steal a phrase from my friend Andrea, she was the “self rescuing princess” I needed for a role model. Let’s just say, I wore Leia buns for a while…

She taught me that it’s okay to stand up for yourself. It’s okay to be snarky and sassy and abrasive. I suddenly didn’t have to choose between wanting to be a princess and wanting to be a hero: like Leia, I could be both.

Fast forward 19 years or so and I haven’t changed a bit (except now I wear full Leia cosplay instead of just Leia buns). Two years ago I went to go see The Force Awakens by myself (three times, but who’s counting?). I remember my reactions to that a lot more clearly (as I narrated to my girlfriend the other night when we were rewatching it) but one thing didn’t change. Just like with Leia, my eyes grew wide when Rey came on my screen. When I figured out she was the protagonist of the film I could have cried of happiness (Okay, okay, I totally did cry, but don’t tell anyone).I was so happy that a whole new generation of little girls can grow up with Rey like I did with Leia. I love seeing them cosplay her at conventions. I love seeing both little girls and boys get excited when they see her. It’s amazing and warms my Hoth-like heart.

I can’t wait to see The Last Jedi in a couple days and remember just why I love this franchise so much. It’s going to be so bittersweet now that Carrie is gone I’m prepared to cry, but I’m also prepared to grin like a fool. My girls are going to be on screen again and I don’t know if I can handle it!