Sunday, 25 February 2018

Winter Favourites

I posted a low-effort story on Instagram the other night mentioning that I was finally through a wildly busy and stressful month. And oh baby, has it ever. Now that it's done, of course, I feel comfortable enough to let loose all of the emotions I've had about the things that were happening and the pressure I felt, so I'm going to hermit up this weekend and process those feelings. And I'm also going to talk about some of the things that have made me happy during this time, beauty and not.

NCBI Account

Getting in my little health sciences librarian plugs where I can, friends. But honestly, this account has saved my ass multiple times. I primarily use it for my searching in PubMed, but you can use it for other resources in NCBI holdings. I have my account set to save my search history for the last six months, which you can imagine is very lengthy in my case, but even if you aren't such a prolific searcher, this can be useful if you want to refer to old searches.

But it does other things for the average person who might be interested in biomedical research. You can set up search alerts, save citations, modify how your search results appear when you run one (for example, I modified my settings to have 100 results per page, highlight the search terms in each result in pink, automatically show the abstracts and the subject headings), and lots of other nifty stuff. Thank you, NCBI account. You make my life so much easier.

Matt & Nat Percio Diaper Bag in Carbon

No, I'm not having a baby, and I would have a much better way of announcing that should it ever come to pass than talking about a diaper bag on my blog. But I did buy a diaper bag - the exact colour that I bought is no longer available but the bag is still on their site. I have been looking for a work bag for what seems like forever. I have a list of needs:
  • must be large enough to carry my laptop, notebook, planner, lunch, waterbottle, Kindle, contents of my purse, and the 2-3 books that I have out of my library at any given point and are probably overdue
  • must have pockets for all of the above things
  • must be a tote or crossbody bag. I'm not going to wear a backpack to work or when I'm travelling to other sites for meetings when I still look like a teenager if I'm not careful
  • must be a neutral colour. I'm trying to be professional here, dammit
This was very difficult to find. All totes are essentially black holes of doom. In a fit of frustration, I wandered over to Matt & Nat because I have a few other pieces and like them, and started looking through their bags. I don't know what compelled me to click on diaper bags, but I did, and I found it! It had a ton of pockets, a laptop sleeve, came with handles and a crossbody strap if I wanted to use it, and the change pad was removable (it now lives on the top shelf of my coat closet). It was also on sale. I waited for a few weeks to make sure this was it, and then I bit the bullet and ordered it. And the Percio is exactly what I wanted. It doesn't look like a diaper bag, so no one will know. It has all of the pockets needed. I can carry my life/mobile office in it when I go to other sites. 

I texted my best friend to demand to know why she had never told me about the greatness that is a diaper bag (she has a ten month old). She didn't have an answer. Probably the mothers in your life neglected to tell you. So I'll do it for them: there are tons of diaper bags out there that don't look like diaper bags and have all the compartments your heart desires. 

Electric Blanket

I ordered this off Amazon in November after listening to a coworker talk about hers and how awesome it was. I love my apartment, but for all of its charm, it has a few faults: the light switches for every room are bizarrely all in the main room, so I have to leave my bedroom to turn off the light, for example; there are only two closets and they are not very big; and it's the attic of an old farmhouse, so it's a little drafty sometimes and electric heat ain't cheap. Enter the electric blanket. I don't like to crank the heat and close the door to the room I use as a living room because it gets stuffy and I still feel cold. With my electric blanket, I keep the heat at a reasonable level and can be warm with my blanket. It's amazing. Best $40 I have ever spent, seriously. 

Cadbury Creme Egg Cookies

Okay, these actually aren't as good as real Creme Eggs, but they exist and that makes me happy. I love Creme Eggs. They are disgustingly sweet, but they are delicious, and I firmly support this time of year when you can find them more readily. If I could still digest ice cream, I would be over in McDonald's demanding another Creme Egg McFlurry which is both the grossest and greatest thing I have ever eaten. There were Creme Egg snack cakes 5-6 years ago and I ate those too, for all that they weren't that good. They used to sell Creme Egg Twisted chocolate bars at The Bargain Shop in my university town and I was obsessed. Then they were discontinued. Suffice it to say, you can get me to buy anything Creme Egg. I'll probably love it no matter how bad it is.

Coral Leaning Pink Lipsticks

This has been a 6 month+ obsession that's not going away. I want bright corals, leaning heavily in the pink territory. I want all of them. I think that coral pink is one of my most flattering colours - most of them light up my face and while coral pink is a colour that I would normally restrict to wearing in the spring and summer, I've been craving it this winter. I think it's because this has been an especially stormy, gloomy, wild winter so far. The weather has been yo-yoing like mad, and it really does run you down after a while. A bright lipstick is a much needed dash of colour in the winter, when everything is turned a uniform white (which can be cozy but also depressing). 

A post shared by Alison (@collectiondevelopment) on

My newest acquisitions in this colour family, Fenty Matte-moiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Candy Venom and Chanel Rouge Allure Ink Matte Liquid Lipstick in Sediusant, are the ones that I've been wearing the most (obviously - they're new, shiny, and I want to test them out), but all of them have been getting time in the lipstick rotation. 


I'm not a big hot beverage person. I don't drink coffee at all, I drink hot chocolate only once in a while, and while tea is my main hot beverage, I don't drink it every day. However, in the winter, I find myself having a few more cups in the week. It's cold and I need to warm up. Or I need some caffeine - in the winter, I drive to work when it's dark, I come home when the sun is setting, and I need a kick to keep going. Since I don't drink caffeinated beverages regularly, I don't need much to wake up. The days are starting to get noticeably longer again, so I'll probably taper off my tea drinking, but in the dead of winter, I very much appreciate the stash of tea that I keep at work. I've been drinking a lot of Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea lately, and switching to whatever random herbal or flavoured teas I have kicking around in the afternoon of two tea days.

I'm still a big iced tea person, though I've been trying to cut back and drink more water. It's not water's fault that it's so boring yet so much better for you. 

Spring is coming but I still have a good 2-3 months of winter to slog through, so until then, you'll find me with all of these things in this list. 


  1. Love Matt and Nat bags! I've had a crossbody since the spring and a backpack since the summer. I use them both heavily (and the backpack totes my laptop to and from campus every day) and they look 100% like new. Oh, and I have a wallet and cardholder from them too. My local Winners and Marshall's have their bags and wallets constantly, which is amazing.

    I'm a huge proponent of staying hydrated, but I definitely can't kick my tea habit during the winter. I usually drink about 2-3 litres of it a day... I go for peppermint and camomile, though, so no caffeine. During the summer I'm all about water, but I get cold super easily and chugging 750mL of water in the winter makes me shiver the whole day.

    I hope the rest of your winter isn't too harsh! This is always the point where I'm so sick of winter and convince myself that the one day of good weather means early spring... hahaha no. Although it's definitely coming pretty soon here - but once the clocks go forward I'll be reasonably content regardless of the temperature.

    1. I've come across a few Matt and Nat bags at my Winners but wish they'd have more and more variety!

      The days are starting to get longer again which helps with winter blahs.


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