About Kelsey

Hi, I’m Kelsey! I’m a serious foodie, bride-to-be, crazy cat lady (and proud of it!), and avid Jeopardy! watcher. Things that make me happy are great books, women’s magazines, home & personal style, the color robin’s egg blue, and a hot, summer day spent outside.

I’m also a freelance writer who offers a fresh, offbeat voice on a variety of topics, including lifestyle, popular culture, and sociological issues.

Coming from a Sociology background, I bring insightful and critical thinking to my writing while using my unique personality and biting sense of humor to engage my audience.

When I’m not writing, I’m most likely hanging out with my fiancé, Eric, and the cats, cooking, shopping, or reading (or shopping for things to read). My latest obsessions: Beyoncé (of course); The Secret Teachings of All Ages, by Manly P. Hall; raspberry sorbet; and chambray shirts.

Want me to write for you?

I’d love to hear from you! I’m interested in writing about a variety of lifestyle topics, including food & cooking, style, home, relationships, and productivity and motivation as well as social issues, and current events. Please send me an e-mail at kelsey.sunstrum@gmail.com. Talk to you soon!

How Social Media Affects Our Self-Perception

(This was originally posted on PsychCentral.)

Not long ago, a friend of mine deleted her Instagram account. I couldn’t understand why one would ever do such a thing, so I asked and her response caught me off-guard.

She deleted her Instagram because she felt herself becoming depressed by it. The pressure of taking the right picture, with the right filter, wearing the right outfit, at the right place, with the right people was too much pressure.

We are conditioned to project only our best, albeit unrealistic, selves on our social media profiles as a modern way of virtually keeping up with the Joneses.

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A Word on Self-Licensing

After months of quitting my years-long, gross habit of biting my nails, I recently fell off the wagon. I was going through a lot of stress though, I’d tell myself, so I deserved a bit of relief. This is self-licensing.

Self-licensing, also called ‘moral licensing,’ is a justification individuals use to rationalize their desire to engage in hedonic overconsumption.

Hedonic overconsumption is the act of overindulging in something because it feels good. Common examples are overeating, overspending, or binge drinking.

According to research done on decision-making, when presented with a choice, individuals will choose the option that is the most appealing and the easiest to justify. Driving home after an intense 1.5 hour workout at the gym, you pass your favorite fast food restaurant. A few thoughts run through your head. You could pick something up at the drive-thru, or you could keep driving and make yourself something to eat there. If you hadn’t just worked out, the likelihood that you’d end up stopping at the restaurant could be lower. Since you just engaged in a healthy activity, you justify you deserve a treat as a reward.

Another way of self-licensing is to allow yourself not to do something. Perhaps you had a difficult work week so you let yourself ignore household chores for the weekend. Maybe your boyfriend broke up with you so you let yourself not go to work on a Monday. In this situation, we believe that we deserve a reward for going through a trying situation.

Self-licensing may also be to blame for your tendency to lose momentum in projects or tasks. When we feel we’ve worked hard or accomplished some goals, we let ourselves rest or take a break. Unfortunately, these breaks can easily become extended breaks which makes a return to work difficult.

Stop Self-Licensing Today

Everyone engages in self-licensing and on a relatively regular basis. Still, this is no reason to allow yourself to make this a habit. If you find you’re not as productive as usual or engaging in more downtime, ask yourself if you’re the victim of self-licensing. If so, follow the following pieces of advice to stop this pesky tendency:

  • When you find yourself engaging in self-licensing or overconsumption, force yourself to examine your thoughts and reasoning behind your behavior. Be honest with yourself. Are your reasons truly justifiable? If so, go ahead with your actions. Otherwise, think again, or come back to it later.
  • Stop yourself from looking at your decisions as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Consider whether your actions brought your closer or farther from your desired goals.
  • Don’t try to quit cold turkey. Focus on maintaining, not escalating, a behavior. You’ll find you have better control with this method and your habit will not worsen.

How do you self-license? How do you get yourself to stop?

Top 14 Free Newsstand Magazine Subscriptions for the iPad

As someone who’s always been obsessed with magazines, I was beyond excited when I Eric got an iPad for Christmas and I discovered Newsstand has free magazine subscriptions.

Until I found out that only about 1% (this figure may not be entirely accurate) are completely free. The other 99% are free asterisk. Meaning, free for the first issue then only pay $0.99 - $5.00 for each subsequent issue!

No.

For everyone else too poor or cheap to purchase magazine subscriptions, I give you my guide to the top 14 free magazine subscriptions offered through Newsstand. Enjoy!

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  1. Hobbycraft: Let’s Get Making
    Magazine for all things crafts. Includes holiday, baking, decorating, and kid-friendly craft ideas, instructions, and tips & tricks. This is a great resource for anyone hands-on, or anyone with children. 
  2. WebMD Magazine
    The popular medical website also releases a free magazine every two months. Not only does it contain useful information on every aspects of health (physical, mental, nutrition, relationships, and more), WebMD Magazines features exclusive interviews with celebrities, such as this issue’s cover girl, Connie Britton, and interactive options in every issue. For my fellow pet lovers, this magazine has a section for your furry friends, too!
  3. Harrods Magazine
    While this app is free, the fact that it allows you to purchase items in-app may be dangerous for your wallet. Regardless, this is a convenient perk of the magazine. Harrods Magazine gives you the lowdown on the latest in fashion news, trends, how-to’s, and style icons. The best part of Harrods is no doubt the Interactive Make-Up and Style Studios that allow you to test out the hottest trends without the commitment! 
  4. Dash Recipes
    Free food magazine subscriptions? Uh, yes please. I only found out about Dash Recipes in doing research for this post and I already am a huge fan. The recipes are delicious, and generally uncomplicated enough to cook on a weeknight, yet creative. Not to mention, the photography is stunning. This subscription does offer in-app subscriptions, such as a mouthwatering grilling guide.
  5. Escapism Magazine
    Another magazine only recently discovered, and one I am so glad I did. Escapism Magazine is for travelers and wannabe travelers who want to see the less traditional highlights of international cultures. The magazine offers guides, reviews, and photography that will take your breath away. 
  6. A Garden Life
    Beautiful gardening magazine that even non-gardeners will enjoy. The magazine promotes community, responsibility, and sustainability in all things gardening, nutrition, life, arts, and more. It’s the interactive perks that really make this app one-of-a-kind though. Check it out!
  7. Gadchick
    Geeky girls, listen up! Gadchick is a woman’s magazine for gadget lovers. Containing technology news and reviews aimed at women, Gadchick does not dumb down its content or play into gender stereotypes.
  8. Everyday Food
    Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine only recently was removed from print and released exclusively through the iTunes store. Before this change, I looked forward to its delivery every two months. The pictures are mouth-watering, the recipes relevant, tasty, and simple, with practical, handy food and cooking advice.
  9. The Costco Connection
    Touted as the most widely circulated magazine in the United States, The Costco Connection showcases Costco products whilst sharing with readers tips and information on various lifestyle topics. It also boasts regular columns with experts like Suze Orman, Wally Amos, and Rhonda Abrams.
  10. Fitness First
    Whether you’re currently leading an active lifestyle or just looking to make healthier decisions, Fitness First has something for you. News and information on nutrition, exercise (including training guides!), and more to help you lead a healthy life. If you still want more, download their app for content not offered in the magazine. 
  11. Lowe’s Creative Ideas
    The home hardware store put together a useful publication detailing projects and activities in and around your home for making life easier and simpler. Included are instructions, how-to videos, product links,and other helpful resources.
  12. AUX Magazine
    Winner in the best app category of multiple contests, AUX Magazine is the go-to subscription for music aficionados. News, reviews, and interviews can be found in this edgy release.
  13. Psychic Daily
    A little cheesy? Maybe, but a little cheese never hurt anyone. Satisfy your curiosity while exploring the new age world in this magazine that includes predictions, monthly news, and articles by celebrity psychics.
  14. Cineworld
    You probably will recognize this title from your many trips to the movie theatre. Cineworld is the movie-lover’s quick guide to the going-on’s in Hollywood including reviews and interviews on the latest movies and with the brightest stars. Not to be missed is their new quiz each issue.

Am I missing any of your free favorites?

Kelsey Weds - What’s in a Name?

(This article was originally posted on the lifestyle blog, Kelsey Says.)

The other day, one of my oldest friends, who is also getting married, told me she recently practiced her new signature, with her new last name.

After years of doodling in school notebooks my name paired with the last name of the my latest infatuation, you would think that I would be dying to scribble my new name, complete with little hearts surrounding it.

The thing is, I won’t have a new name.

I have been Kelsey Sunstrum my entire life. Even in my younger years when I replaced my last name with that of my boy du jour, I knew I would never change my name.

I’ve never been able to understand how women readily, and some eagerly, accept the change of name. Not to say this is wrong; I can see the romanticism of taking your partner’s name, for sure. My first question though has always been, “Why can’t he change his name?”

(I don’t consider women who take their husband’s last name as any less independent, or any less of a feminist, by the way.)

Changing your name also seems comical to me. If I asked my friends and family to start calling me Victoria instead of Kelsey, they would think I’m crazy. It would also probably be relatively uncomfortable for them to use this name, having known me as Kelsey for 25 years.

That’s because you put more meaning and value in your name than you would think.

People make sense of the world by assigning labels to objects and people. For example, when we walk into a living room, we expect to see couches, a coffee table, most likely a TV, maybe some bookshelves, and more. These all have labels, and grouped together, they form what we commonly label a ‘living room.’ Labels make it easy for us to recognize understand everyday scenarios.

Now, imagine you were visiting your friend’s new place for the first time. She leads you into a room with a toilet, sink, shower, and towels. She tells you this is her living room.

Wait. No, it’s not.

We just established a living room has couches, a coffee table, etc. A living room isn’t the place for a toilet or a sink. The juxtaposition of the two doesn’t make sense and is actually a pretty amusing thought.

And so, whenever I think about taking Eric’s last name, I chuckle to myself. I know who Kelsey Sunstrum is. I have no idea who the hell Kelsey [insert long, Italian last name that no one can pronounce] is.