Five Pinterest Recipes I Loved in 2020

Like many other people, being in quarantine for most of 2020 meant I was able to spend much more time cooking, baking, and overall cultivating my culinary skills. I’m certainly not a chef by any means, and I’m still a picky eater, but these are the five recipes I enjoyed the most this past year that I’m looking forward to making again. I hope you enjoy these recipes just as much and find some inspiration!

One Skillet Sun Dried Tomato & Gnocchi | Eat Yourself Skinny

I actually have to give full credit to my mom for finding this recipe. From the beginning of 2020 to pretty much right up until I moved in May, my mom and I made this recipe constantly. For those of you who don’t know, Gnocchi is a delicious potato-derived pasta commonly used in Italian dishes. It has a chewy, doughy, soft texture, and the taste is neutral enough that you can mix it into a variety of dishes. As you can probably guess, I prepare this recipe without the chicken, but it’s just as delicious and filling that way. It’s a perfect comfort meal for a cold winter evening, and it can be made in less than thirty minutes. 

Easy Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad | Baker by Nature

This is actually the most recent Pinterest recipe I made, and I love it for its simplicity, its bold yet simple flavors, and the minimal amount of time it takes to prepare this dish. Really, the hardest part of it is just boiling the tortellini, and that’s clearly not really labor intensive. I’ve been bringing this to work for lunch the past few days, and I have to say, I’m still not tired of it! It’s like the classy, more evolved older sister of a basic caprese salad. 

‘Chickpea of the Sea’ Tuna Salad Sandwich | The Simple Veganista

Back before I was a vegetarian, I used to love tuna and considered tuna fish sandwiches to be one of my favorite lunches. Luckily, chickpeas have come to the rescue in this recipe and allowed me to enjoy a very similar version of my childhood favorite! Nori sheets are optional to give the salad an especially fishy taste, but personally, I think it tastes just as fine without. Even Nathaniel, a tuna eater, liked it, which he himself admitted he wasn’t expecting to. 

This Thing

I admittedly don’t know what one would call this sandwich and I couldn’t find a name or a website for the original inventor, but regardless, it’s delicious. It’s filling. It’s greasy. It’s extra. And although it was fairly messy to make, it was worth every paper towel and dirty pan. Truly, I think a decadent egg sandwich is the vegetarian’s dream, and this particular one really knocked my expectations out of the park. Like I said, I can’t find an OG recipe, but here is a pictorial!

Copycat Starbucks Pumpkin Pound Cake | The Baking ChocolaTess

In the deepest depths of quarantine, like many other Americans, I found myself getting extremely invested in baking bread. Particularly since I work at Starbucks, I was very eager to see how this pumpkin bread would hold up to the test. As a novice baker, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious this came out! It was thick and delectable without being too heavy, and I think it had the perfect amount of pumpkin (although Nathaniel said he didn’t think it had enough.) All in all, an absolute classic recipe. 

I have to say, considering I don’t really have much of a background in cooking, I’m really happy with the different recipes and varieties of food I have tried in 2020 (even if it’s mostly pasta.) I think all of these dishes are delicious, but I especially recommend the sun dried tomato gnocchi pasta. Be sure to let us know if you try any of these recipes and what you think below!

PERSISTENCE of Memory

I believe memory exists not only to remind us of where we’ve been or where we’ve come from, but to guide us and help us heal. It interests me that the older I get, the less I can remember from my formative years, however, what I do becomes the most important. 

Memory comes back to me in photographic flashbacks: the good always remains but fades with time, the traumatic resurface slower, but intense and vivid all at once. I was born in 1998, old enough for my first “real” memory to be of 9/11, although I truly can’t say I knew what was happening. Then, a month later my younger brother was born. 

The next is disoriented screaming, flashing lights through my bedroom window, muffled sounds of gunshots down the block as I was upstairs in bed. The SWAT team was guarding off my street and knocking on our door. Nearly 20 years later, I can finally understand that this was due to a Vietnam Veteran who lived on the corner, and whose PTSD had triggered him to shoot.  

My earliest happy memories date around the same time frame. Sometime in 2000, probably about 2, almost 3 years old, holding a lilac ball playing catch outside with my father. I remember sitting at the small farm-animal-themed table in our old vile yellow kitchen with the forest green floor tiles as I colored in a coloring book. 

I remember painting purple stars on the walls with my father when I graduated out of my crib and into my new “big girl” room upstairs.  I remember coloring over the puke-yellow walls in Crayola crayons before my parents decided to tear our kitchen down for demolition. 

Vividly I can picture myself in elementary school art class, the tables new and unscratched, the crisp room smelling of fresh cobalt blue paint on the walls. We would gather around our teacher, Ms. Halpern, who would drop a pin and ensure we all heard it grace the floor before she spoke. I was always quiet, more interested in which artist we would learn about as opposed to the anxiety-provoking multiplication test that awaited in the class upon our return. 

I remember recreating Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in oil pastel, the soft waxy feel as it molded to my hands and created rainbows under my fingernails and the earthy aroma of red clay on my hands as we created pottery. I only cared about what day it was for the sole purpose of whether or not it was time for the weekly art class – it was my escape. I can’t remember most of what I retained from grade school other than forming a keen interest in the arts.

This seems to be a common theme: those who excel and form interests in the arts foster them at a young age. I started playing the violin and joined the chorus in the third grade, although colors and forms stated their permanence in my life. I developed a fixation on transferring images from my mind into a physical form, my notes covered in drawings and doodles. This was and still is my way of creating a sense of our world.  

Throughout middle and high school I continued to find shelter in the art rooms. I created during my time of struggle. I won’t speak much about my depressive manic and self-destructive states as an early teen, but visually creating has always been one of my only methods of accurately channeling and representing my emotions. 

It was around this time I began to spend my summers in Manhattan, taking pre-college courses at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Art galleries and museums were now at my disposal on a level much higher than my suburban home town on Long Island. These galleries and museums became a sanctuary for me.

Years later and I’ve devoted myself to structure my life around the arts. My passion for the visual arts has followed persistently throughout my entire academic experience, my lifestyle, and is now reflected in my professional career. 

I’ve been an artist for as long as my memory allows. What can I say? Creating comes naturally. It keeps me grounded, consistently allowing me to portray my emotions and relay my memories in a universal language for each to resonate and reconcile as their own.  

As a visual artist and writer, I seek to educate and inspire others. I have an intimate understanding of how hard it is to spread our stories to the world. While it may be pain-staking, it is vital to recognize the importance of passing down our stories. We are not drastically different from one another once we allow ourselves to open up.

Whether this is conducted through visual imagery or words, it is how we relate and learn about ourselves, our relationships, our friends, our partners and lovers, and the generations both preceding and succeeding our own. 

Businesses and empires may be bound to fail, but there is permanence in the arts and culture. As Dali would say, there always has been, and always will be, a “persistence of memory.”

This Sh*t Sucks… Or does it?

Have you ever wondered what defines good or bad art? 

Yeah… me too. As a painter and illustrator, this happens on a near-daily basis. To be honest, it’s a whirlwind. 

The foundations of my career as a visual artist was based upon realism. Pulling inspiration from other illustrators and painters who focused on hyper-realism, pondering how it was even possible to reproduce on such a level. I vividly picture 14-year-old me on my bedroom floor spending countless hours hauling over my works, meticulously honing in on every little detail while I attempted to create each piece to be as close to the reference photo as possible.

I can’t tell you where this fixation in society derived from – or maybe it was just my ADHD and anxiety telling me everything I had to do needed to be perfect, but at least I know I wasn’t alone. Nearly all of my other artist friends and I, at this time, were starting their artistic career in the phases of drawing eyes in the corner of notebooks and working on perfecting a portrait of the lead singer in our favorite alt band. But up until I started studying art in college and gained greater exposure to the art world, I swore by the rule that for my art to be considered “good” it needed to be grounded in hyper-realism. 

Of course, there’s a reason the basis of teaching visual arts is grounded in figure drawing, still lives, and copying master studies. Similar to any other craft, artists are expected to learn the roots of the trade before bridging out to develop our own style. You need to build the foundation of a house before you can decorate the exterior. (Unless you’re an outsider artist, but that’s a topic for a different time.)

A few of the most valuable words one of my painting professors ever shared with me was, “The photo is for reference, a photo is not a painting and your painting should not look exactly like it. Your goal is to be able to part with it – if you keep comparing your work to a photo you will never be satisfied.”  

All in all, your art, nor anyone else’s, does not need to look like you can reach out and grab it for it to be good. Some of my most successful, and most loved, creations are those based upon spontaneously throwing paint on canvas out of frustration and seeing what I could make from it. And if you know me, it was probably a mushroom or had something to do with hands or eyes. 

So, if you’ve made it this far and are still wondering then what defines good art? What makes bad art? I hate to break it to you, but the answer is nothing. Yep. That’s it – nothing at all. 

Well, on a technical level, yes there are standards an artist might want to meet. Proportions, perspectives, and light sources are vital aspects of any creation.  Although, if the work is meant to be conceptual then this truly does not matter.  

Art is relative, and it is entirely subjective. Therefore, art in itself can neither be good nor bad alone. For art to be considered “good” or “bad” it is wholly dependent upon the viewer, the creator, or the critic. While some love Pollock’s poured paintings, others believe he was just a drunk who got lucky. 

On a side note – this is exactly why as an artist, regardless of whatever your craft may be, you need to place value on and believe in yourself. There will always be a negative critic, and PSA people – there is nothing wrong with having a different taste! 

There are many things in life besides taste in art alone that we cannot change, but that does not mean your work is bad. To ignore the critic would be even worse. Sometimes they’re the ones who we need to listen to the most. An artist’s work cannot grow without the push for change. While a critic’s words might be sharp and sting, they are often what fuels us the most. 

What’s in a name?

Reflections on the Artist “Stigma” – from a recent art school grad.   

So you went to art school? Yes, well not before I can blurt out that I double majored and have a degree in P.R. as well. Let’s address the underlying shame that no one seems to talk about, the kind that comes hand in hand with being an artist. The kind of shame, and that horrendous stigma, embedded in spending thousands of dollars for a PDF (thanks COVID) in any form of art. 

“Oh that’s nice, so what are you going to do with that?” 

Ahh, the question every art student absolutely adores. 

Ask me that again, please I beg of you. No really, it’s not like I haven’t rehearsed this in my head several hundred times before coming to this function. 

Now that I’ve graduated college, I’ve made it into the “It’s not practical. How are you going to pay your bills? What about insurance?” phase. (Thanks for the support, mom.)

Growing up on Long Island, came with the blessings and curses of every small, suburban, upper-middle-class neighborhood. Or what I can only assume, before college, I hadn’t lived anywhere else. It’s the trivial stuff like bumping into everyone and their mother at the local bagel shop in the morning, knowing exactly who cut you off by the sound of their obnoxious car horn, and the public school system that “supports” the arts yet funds everything but that. Pushing for STEM, and ingraining the standard into our young minds that success shall only come to those who will become scientists, engineers, doctors, or work in the business world. 

Why is it that people are so impressed by my talent but so unwilling to support it? The stigma of going to art school and being an artist made me embarrassed to embrace my choice of major and lifestyle for way too long. 

Four years later and amidst a pandemic has granted me a lot of time to reflect. 

So, here’s what I got:

  • The definition of success is different for everyone. 
    • For some success is monetary. Diritivive from the amount of money they make. 
    • While art is much more than just a commodity, in the era of Amazon and manufactured crafts, people seem to have forgotten how much fine art can be worth. In this age, unfortunately, a significant amount of artists undersell their work in order to gain more exposure. Here’s my shameless reminder to support small businesses. Your local artists and businesses will appreciate you much more than the Bezos empire ever will. 
    • For others, success might be grounded from stability and practicality. A reliable check and dependable insurance for some reason are not guaranteed to most artists in the world, and especially not in America. Can’t tell you I don’t know where the starving artist phrase originated from.
    • Lastly, happiness. The great debate – money or passion. Money doesn’t impress everyone. If you’re going to devote most of the hours of your life working – why would you sacrifice your happiness for money? That’s just me, anyways. If you’re truly passionate and devoted to what you love, there will always be a way to pursue it. 
  • Defunding leads to disinterest. 
    • The system here is comparative to the Uroboros, the ancient symbol originating in Egyptian Iconography, of a serpent biting off its own tail in an infinite continuous circular motion. My middle and high school art classes and teachers played a significant role in my development as an artist. Without this exposure, I would have never known pursuing art would be where my future career would lie. As arts defunding increases and programs are removed from education curriculums, the less aware future generations are. Which, you guessed it, leads to more defunding – and the toxic endless cycle continues. 
  • Jealousy and envy, of talent and freedom
    • Do I need to elaborate? This one is pretty self-explanatory. 
  • Straight up ignorance 
    • “Oh, but art is fun and easy!” “You get to make pretty pictures all day!” Hmmm yeah sure, how about you say that again after spending countless nights awake slaving over the several hand-stapled canvases nearly as tall as you for the mid-year critique for something just not to be “working” in the eyes of your professor. Or the countless gallery and exhibition rejections, with little to no reason why besides the “it’s just not my taste” from curators.
    • Critiques and critics can be harsh and blunt, and no it’s not just like getting an individual test grade. All your peers are present as you get ripped to shreds. 
    • The tools for our craft are anything but cheap. I walked into Blick (an art supply store for all you non-artist readers) the other day, and walked out 65 dollars lighter from only purchasing two small paintbrushes, two 37ml tubes of oil paint, and one relatively small canvas that happened to be 40% off.
    • Not to mention the physical exhaustion, sore arms, callused fingers, and the toxic chemical highs that can come along for the ride too.  
  • You are not just an artist. 
    • Your work does not just sell itself. With taking on the title of an artist, you also take on the responsibilities of becoming your own marketer, publicist, social media specialist. 
    • Being an artist is more than just a title, it’s a whole lifestyle. 

And lastly, 

  • When it comes to creating art there is no right answer.  There isn’t a textbook model to follow. While there are inspirations and references, the ever-evolving style artist spends years developing is purely our own.
    • Art allows the freedom of authentic and raw self-expression. Us artists pour our hearts and soul into our work. Creations often stem from our utmost vulnerable states. And we really just are throwing it out there for the world to see, hoping others resonate as well.   

Hey, I get it, pursuing an arts-related career might not be for everyone. Trust me, I dreaded every moment of chemistry. Luckily for nearly every other professional, society does not work against them. On top of all the stigmas, judgment, and pressure to succeed – to be an artist it’s anything but easy. The lifestyle might not be for you, but there’s absolutely no reason not to support and encourage those who are brave enough to face the world as artists.

Graduating into this pandemic has given me a lot of time to embrace my artistic side and remind myself the world would not thrive without the arts and humanities. Art gives a voice to the voiceless – platforms to the powerless. History would cease to exist otherwise. So to all you creators who’ve read this far, keep pushing, keep creating. At least we already know we’ll be worth more when we’re dead anyway.

21 Life lessons

I turned 21 today, and while there is still a pandemic and no way for me to really celebrate with my friends, I decided to share with you all 21 life lessons that I’ve learned throughout my life. I am doing this because with life being so bleak lately, sometimes a little optimism is what just one person needs to see. These are things that I was taught by loved ones as well as people I’ve never met. 

  • You never have to do today again.

This resonates with me the most because of my struggles with anxiety and depression. Some days are worse than others, but ultimately I learned that saying ‘you never have to do today again’ helps me feel better. There will always be tough days, but you never have to handle that same day ever again.

  • Do no harm but take no shit.
  • Being alive in today’s world is one of the bravest things you’ve done.
  • Do or do not, there is no try.

#livelaughloveStarWars

  • Turn your guilt into action.
  • Don’t sell yourself short.
  • Tell others when they hurt you. You can learn a lot about a person from the way they react.
  • Loving yourself is hard. But it is worth every second of struggle to see the result. 
  • You are not a bother. You are not a burden.

This can be the most difficult journey. I’m still working on changing my mindset to match this idea.

  • The way you perceive yourself is often different from how others see you.
  • Do what you think is right.
  • Never be afraid to be the real you.
  • Be selfless but don’t be afraid to be selfish. Do what you need to do.
  • Sit outside in the sun.
  • You are your own fairy tale.

As quoted from Amanda Lovelace’s book of poetry Break Those Glass Slippers.

  • Be unapologetically passionate.
  • It’s okay to have bad days.
  • The only person that can bring true happiness is yourself.
  • The best things in life are priceless.
  • It doesn’t matter where you started, but where you end up.
  • Surround yourself with people who love you.

How I Care for my Curly Hair (2C Curls)

My hair and I have been on quite a journey together. When I was little, my hair was pin-straight, and it slowly just got curlier and curlier the older I got. I have gone through years of hating my hair, trying to straighten it as much as possible. I  even wore wigs. Now, I can happily say that I love my hair and my bouncy, soft curls. Though my hair has been through a lot of bleaching, I feel like it’s still in pretty decent condition, and my curls have held up well. Today I’m going to walk you through how I take care of it on a daily basis, what products I use, and what I don’t recommend if you want to protect your hair. I also want to point out that my hair type is 2C, which equals a loose, barrel-shaped curl. If you have a tighter curl or a different hair pattern/texture, you may need to do something completely different to take care of your curls, so just keep that in mind! Also, I am not a hair care expert or a stylist- this is just what works for me personally.

Easy Hairstyles for Girls with Curly Hair | BeBEAUTIFUL
Artist: Unknown

Like many curly girls, it took me years to figure out that you are NOT supposed to brush your curly hair! Doing so can make it extremely frizzy and ‘pyramid shaped’, as I call it. I always used to worry that if I didn’t brush my hair, it would get tangled and look dirty, but the reality is, my hair actually feels much cleaner and manageable now that I rarely brush it. In fact, the only section of my hair I really brush is my bangs. As long as I wash my hair regularly and use products that are designed to smooth-out my hair and keep it tangle-free, I never have to worry about frizz or knots. 

About twice a week, I will use my purple shampoo and a leave-in conditioner in the shower. The brand of purple shampoo I use is by eva-nyc. So far, I’ve been really impressed by this brand. I love that the shampoo is not only cruelty-free, but affordable and it also smells absolutely amazing. Most importantly, it makes my hair feel soft and manageable. The leave-in conditioner I use is by AG hair, and it is yet another high-quality, amazing-smelling product that I always look forward to using. My hair tends to lack moisture if I don’t take care of it adequately, so these two products together keep my hair feeling extremely hydrated and salon-smooth. 

I have never been a big fan of blow-drying my hair, which has been really beneficial for both my curl pattern and my overall hair health. I’m actually not sure why towel drying works so well, but from a personal standpoint, I absolutely believe my curls look so much prettier and fuller when I wrap my hair in a towel and let the heat soak up the moisture for a few minutes. After I towel off my hair, I just let it air dry for the rest of the day. The products I use on my hair help it to dry much quicker, so I’m going to be talking about those next. 

If I don’t use my leave-in conditioner that day, I will always ALWAYS use the Aveda damage repair treatment in my hair and the Drybar Prep Rally spray. I talk about these products a lot, because I think they’re high-quality and I genuinely think my hair has never looked better. I apply them back-to-back when my hair is still wet, and after that, my hair routine is essentially done! I let my hair air-dry with the products in, and after a couple of hours, my hair is almost completely dry and curly, and it feels so amazing and soft.

Anyway, that’s my very adamant hair care routine for protecting my loose barrel curls. Like I said, I’ve had a pretty rocky hair journey, but I’m really happy with the way it looks now and the quality that I have been able to uphold despite lots of bleaching. I know not everyone is going to be able to go out and buy a bunch of new products for their hair, so whatever your circumstances are, I would say just do the best you can with the resources you have! Remember, you are beautiful no matter what.

Trends on a Budget: Building Looks Through Thrifting

Spring is here, which means it’s time for warmer weather, nature walks (from a social distance, of course,) and pastel-toned, floral outfits. Even though I’m not spending any money on things like clothes right now, I still love scrolling through online shops and seeing what trends are on the rise. I especially love browsing ThredUp, which is the world’s largest online thrift store, in order to put together potential outfits and search for rare fashion finds. Secondhand shopping is both extremely beneficial for the environment and cost effective for your wallet. Additionally, with the current health circumstances, online shopping is the perfect way to add to your wardrobe! Today I’m going to walk you through five potential spring outfits I pieced together using ThredUp, explain why they work, and let you in on how much you can save on clothes by thrift shopping. I’d also like to disclaim by saying I am not sponsored or paid by ThredUp: this is genuinely just an app and a service I love. I’m so excited to share it with all of you. 

Side note: I didn’t include links to any of these items, because they are all thrifted goods (meaning there’s only one of everything) and most of these items will be sold within days. If you see something you really like on ThredUp, you better throw it in your cart ASAP before it gets sold!


Look 1: Country + Boho

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Of all the digital outfits I’ve put together on ThredUp, this is definitely one of my favorites. I absolutely adore floral prints, and this sweet v-neck dress is absolutely gorgeous and so vintage! One of my favorite things about spring is having the ability to layer up or layer down outfits, which is why I decided to pair this dress with a jacket. It’s not quite warm enough for flip flops and sandals, so I paired the outfit with some brown booties instead. This outfit because is modern and fresh, but also has an old-fashioned charm, particularly in the shape of the dress and the print. 

Dress: $60 $21.99

Ankle Boots: $189 $48.99

Denim Jacket: $119 $28.99

Shoulder Bag: $398 $91.99

Savings: $574


Look 2: Springy + Fresh

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This outfit could be ideal for a warmer spring day, as the hem is a little bit shorter and the sandals are open-toed. I absolutely love the mixing of prints, especially when there’s color involved, and that’s exactly what this dress celebrates to me. It’s very put-together and dressy, but also casual enough for everyday wear. In my opinion, these colors would also look great on every skin tone, particularly that mustard yellow jacket. If you check out the Pantone Spring/Summer 2020 NYFW colors, you’ll see that several of them appear in this outfit as well.

Dress: $60 $18.99

Jacket: $35 $16.99

Wedges: $89 $20.99

Wallet: $45 $17.99

Savings: $154


Look 3: Classy + Casual

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Okay, I know fedoras aren’t exactly the most celebrated fashion staple, but I think this one looks absolutely adorable when paired with a striped short and some classic corduroys. Horizontal stripes are a great way to make your figure appear slimmer, if that’s something you’re looking for in a garment, and the classic red flats offer a cute pop of color. This outfit is also extremely affordable- you can buy all four of these items for under $60. Just another reason to consider the benefits of thrifting and what it can do for your wallet!

Pullover Sweater: $36 $11.99

Cords: $70 $7.99

Flats: $48 $22.99

Fedora: $24 $13.99

Savings: $121


Look 4: Cute + Formal

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Hopefully, none of us are going out to any parties or events in the midst of a global pandemic, but nonetheless, this is generally just a gorgeous formal outfit that can be easily dressed up or down. First of all, I’m absolutely in love with those heels. I strongly feel that nude pumps or wedges can pair nicely with any outfit or color. The wide belt, similarly to horizontal stripes, can also mimic a slimming illusion in the waste area. I think the print is lovely, the outfit is cohesive, and the asymmetrical shape really adds a sense of interest and uniqueness. 

Dress: $24 $16.99

Wedges: $119 $43.99

Belt: $36 $10.99

Shoulder Bag: $60 $29.99

Savings: $137


Look 5: Punky + Funky

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Lastly but certainly not least, I wanted to put together something a bit edgier and youthful. I really like the way a graphic tee pairs with shorts, and this style of shorts is actually very on-trend right now. Bermuda shorts are also really trendy, so you could alternatively pair a graphic tee with a pair of those as well! Because the top and the leather shorts already have so much going on, I decided to keep the rest of the look simple and just pair it with a simple gold bracelet. It looks effortless and chic, while still giving off some edgy high-fashion energy. I would totally wear this outfit, hands down. 

T Shirt: $13 $10.99

Leather Shorts: $895 $106.99

Heels: $398 $68.99

Bracelet: $25 $11.99

Savings: $1,132


I hope you found this article interesting and informative! I’m not a professional stylist or a fashion guru of any sort, but like I said, I’m really interested in clothing and following trends throughout the year. If you’re looking for new, cheap, sustainable additions to your wardrobe, I highly recommend checking out ThredUp. I promise you won’t be disappointed! Stay safe, everybody.

Keepin’ Busy: Date Ideas for Self-Quarantined Couples

So, it’s pretty indisputable that things suck right now. Several of us are finding ourselves trapped indoors without hobbies, tasks, and most crucially: socialization. I consider myself lucky to be introverted and happily a homebody, yet it’s rough being away from my friends and extended loved ones.

Even though many of us are limited in the things we can do, that doesn’t mean you and your loved ones can’t keep things exciting and fresh (and let’s be realistic, there’s only so much sex you can have together in quarantine before you need some more activities.) These indoors date ideas are coming from my perspective of being in a relationship, but they would be perfect for friend-dates as well. Just remember to keep your social circle small, and don’t let weird people cough on you.


Pot some plants together.

three green assorted plants in white ceramic pots
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Potting plants is an inexpensive, interactive, and educational activity that you can do right from the comfort of your own home! Especially when you’re stuck at home in quarantine, having the responsibility of keeping a plant alive can be a great motivator to keep you going and give you something to look forward to. I recently just potted some basil, which I have grown before in the past, and I’m eagerly looking forward to watching it sprout and flourish every day. It’s easy, it’s wholesome, and it’s a great activity to do in the comfort of your house.


Take a nature walk.

flock of birds
Photo by Efdal YILDIZ on Pexels.com

If you’re really starting to feel the cabin fever hit, consider going for a nature walk together to get some fresh air and get your feet moving. Obviously, stay away from areas that are populated or full of people, because the point is that we want to stay distanced, but a little nature walk outside is actually recommended by professionals to keep your spirits up during these hard times. I’m lucky to live in New England, where there are tons of woodsy places to visit without people around. Depending on where you live, figure out what works best for your circumstances and lockdown regulations. 


Take a bubble bath. Preferably, a bath full of hand sanitizer, but that’s probably not possible in these trying times.

bathroom bathtub ceramic chrome
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Just kidding, please don’t waste hand sanitizer. But for real- bubble baths during these trying times is exactly what most of us need right now. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on some music, chill out in the bath, and try to think about something besides coronavirus for awhile. If there was ever a time for pampering and self-love, it’s now. 


Read books in bed together.

photo of a book on white textile
Photo by Dina Nasyrova on Pexels.com

As the poster child for introversion, reading books in bed is one of my favorite things to do, especially with someone next to me. It’s a sweet, tranquil way to bond and be near each other, but it doesn’t require any conversation (incredible, right?). Currently, I’m rotating between Memoirs of a Geisha, Slaughterhouse Five, and Disappearing Earth to pass the time. Napping together also falls into this category. 


Have a wine-tasting/cocktail-making shindig. 

close up photo of wine glasses
Photo by Татьяна Танатова on Pexels.com

No, you shouldn’t be going out to any liquor stores right now, but the good news is you can still buy booze online! Regardless of if you’re with your family, your partner, or even just by yourself, consider hosting your very own wine-tasting/cocktail-making party at home. Come up with some new alcoholic concoctions that you’d never thought about trying before. For bonus points, consider watching something cheesy like America’s Next Top Model or The Bachelor to complete the suburban mom aesthetic. 


Watch Jeopardy! and other feel-good shows. 

photo of cup near flat screen television
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

This weekend, I learned that my boyfriend is an actual certifiable Jeopardy! legend. Dear God, we probably watched about six hours of that show total over the course of 2 and a half days. That’s probably not everybody’s cup of tea, but for us, trivia shows actually proved to be a great way to pass the time and share some laughs. If Jeopardy! And Family Feud aren’t your thing, switch it up with a binge-worthy show you can both get behind. For fans of thrillers, I highly recommend watching The Keepers or Bates Motel for some thought-provoking discussions together. If you like baking shows, I cannot recommend Sugar Rush and Food Network enough.


Teach each other a new skill or hobby.

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Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Lately, my very small circle and I have shared a lot of hobbies and skills amongst each other, including knitting, puzzles, and cooking. Most of us have endless time right now, so why not pick up a new skill or talent to keep yourselves occupied? If you want to spend 3-5 being fully immersed and frustrated in a new task, I highly suggest trying to learn how to knit. It’s the perfect combination of mental pain and fascination. Another idea is to sign up for an online class together, so that you can both learn a new skill at the same time!


Bake something together.

person holding dough on her hands
Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

Keeping with the trend of being extremely wholesome, baking something with your loved one is always a great way to spend quality time together and create something awesome with your hands. I’ve been really into baking muffins right now, but I’m also interested in getting into baking bread. It sort of goes back to the learn-a-new-skill thing; if you’re not very good at baking or cooking, use this time to learn some new, wonderful dishes with your partner.


Last but not least, have a luxurious spa night at home. 

lavender and massage oils
Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

I guess this kind of relates to the bubble bath idea, but why not take it up a notch and have a full-out spa night? You can make face masks, give each other massages, listen to royalty-free spa music, paint your nails, etc, etc. I personally have about a thousand hair and skin products sitting in my bathroom at the moment, so I’m trying to take this self-quarantine time to catch up on self love and beauty. Also, take this opportunity to catch up on rest! Beauty sleep has never been more important. More than anything else, remember to take care of yourself and the vulnerable people around you. If we all practice adequate social distancing and self-quarantining, I think this will all be over sooner than we think. Even moreso, spending more time together indoors while still branching out could be a great bonding experience for you both, and bring you closer than ever.

Reviewing Trends in 2020

I’ve never been much of a trendsetter myself, but I do love social commentary and analyzing the culture around me. Especially since I’ve been engaging in several of these trends myself, I wanted to summarize my thoughts on them (and maybe even predict which ones I think will die out by summertime). Let’s get into it!


Snakeskin Nails

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Photo: ImogenFoxyLocks on Instagram

I feel like every season, a new nail art technique or pattern papers my entire Instagram feed. Right now, snakeskin nails are taking center stage, particularly in neutral or brown-toned shades. I do appreciate the creativity of this nail pattern, there are drawbacks. 1) I could never see myself doing this, and 2) I feel like this trend will die out by spring. The warmer months are usually all about pastels and bright-toned colors, these brown-toned nails are much better suited for fall and winter. 


Clean Skincare

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Photo: Business Insider

This is one of my favorite trends of the past six months, and that’s because I’ve jumped on the bandwagon myself. It’s a common trend among Millennials (and younger generations) to choose cruelty-free, vegan products over more traditional, “mature” brands, such as MAC and Clinique. Personally, I’m so proud to be a part of this clean, health-conscious, cruelty-free wave. In 2020, you’ll notice everyone – influencers, friends, and everyone in between – sporting their favorite clean makeup brands. Some of the most popular brands at the moment include Juice Beauty, Glossier, and one of my personal favorites, Burt’s Bees. 


CBD Everything

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Photo: Leafly.com

If you’ve noticed a sudden surge in CBD products amongst young people, you’re not alone. Obviously, CBD and THC have been around forever, but there has been an undeniable shift in popularity since US laws have begun to see these products in a more lax, forgiving light. Some of the most popular CBD products you’ll see on the market are tinctures, oils, lotions, and even tasty snacks, and they’re usually marketed to offer relaxation and tranquility. I’m personally a huge fan of CBD products, and several of my close friends are as well. Of course, always remember to make sure CBD is a safe, healthy alternative for you before diving into it!


E-Girl Blush

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Photo: Dazed.com

Personally, I am absolutely OBSESSED with the new E-Girl trends sweeping the world. I was first inspired by hip hop artist Doja Cat, and then, once my queen Jenna Marbles started wearing tons of pink blush, I decided to try it as well. Packing on tons of blush has quickly become a staple in Japanese fashion and E-Girl culture. I love the youthful flush it gives the face. Honestly, I hope this trend doesn’t fade out any time soon, because I think it’s adorable and it looks stunning on all different skin tones.


Warm Reds

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Photo: Good Housekeeping

Similarly to the rosy blush theme, warm-toned reds overall are very in right now (particularly for hair color). Warm-toned hair ranges from strawberry blonde to her dark, moodier sister, red velvet, and it’s been sweeping the red carpet thus far. I love warm-toned anything, and I think this trend in particular is absolutely gorgeous. Particularly on darker skin tones, reds and maroons are an absolutely gorgeous pairing. Warm hair combined with a warm blush? It’s a match made in heaven, folks. 


Blue Makeup

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Photo: stickybab.y on Instagram

On the opposite end of the spectrum, blue makeup has been popping up quite a bit on my social media as well. Blue can be a tricky color to wear, especially for folks who already have blue eyes. One of my personal favorite makeup icons at the moment is Havana (@stickybab.y), who draws her blue inspiration from the animated film Coraline. I personally think this trend is so fresh, so electric, and so perfect for spring. Needless to say, you may see me sporting some blue eyeliner in 2020. 


Tons of highlight

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Photo: Elle.com

Lastly (but certainly not least), packing on tons of highlight has been a huge makeup trend in 2019 and 2020. In general, I feel like shimmery, glittery makeup is really on-point right now. If you watch Vogue’s YouTube channel, you probably remember Grimes doing her makeup and literally packing loose glitter into her hairline (imagine trying to get that out in the shower!). Anyway, I think that the glowing highlighter trend is definitely here to stay, especially since so many brands are incorporating highlighter palettes into their 2020 collections. It’s a stunning pop of color, and it adds so much dimension to the face.

Source: https://www.whowhatwear.com/beauty-trends-2020/slide25

Tips for Having a Low-Waste Wedding

Even though I am very single and nowhere near close to planning my future wedding, it’s still something I enjoy daydreaming about and reflecting upon. Especially since I became more interested in the low-waste movement and the vegetarian community, I’ve wanted to compile a list of ideas I’ve crafted for my own personal ceremony and reception. I hope you find this article helpful, and possibly even gather a bit of inspiration for your own wedding!

By the way, I like to use the phrase “low waste” instead of “zero waste” because I think it’s impossible to be completely, 100% zero waste in all aspects of your life. “Low waste” is a much more appropriate term to me, because it acknowledges that slow-living and low-waste lifestyles are never going to be completely perfect. Nonetheless, any effort towards sustaining the environment, small or large, is a feat that should be celebrated.  


BUY A SECONDHAND DRESS

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Photo by Terje Sollie on Pexels.com

This is actually something I wanted to do before I even got interested in low-waste because I think vintage wedding dresses are absolutely gorgeous. Considering that fashion is one of the most wasteful (and environmentally harmful) industries in the world, it was a no-brainer for me to decide I want to buy my wedding dress second hand. Not only is that more cost-effective, it also means less waste is being thrown into the environment. One of my favorite places to browse vintage wedding dresses is Etsy, but there are also physical vintage shops where you can find wedding dresses as well. In fact, I live fairly close to a warehouse full of vintage clothes, and I know from personal experience that there are TONS of gorgeous 1950s-1960s wedding dresses there. 

Image result for samantha van wie wedding


USE DIGITAL/RECYCLED PAPER INVITATIONS

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Photo by Dmitry Zvolskiy on Pexels.com

Sending out invitations is one of the most crucial parts of putting together your wedding, but it doesn’t have to be wasteful. One way to go paper-free is to simply send your invitations digitally, using either a graphic designer or designing them yourself using a program (such as Canva, which is free!). Alternatively, if you’re not a graphic designer and you don’t feel comfortable sending out a digital invitation, consider the possibility of sending your invitations on recycled paper. Not only does doing so benefit the environment and reduce waste, it is also very cost-effective for your wallet to opt for recycled paper instead!


ASK YOUR FLORIST ABOUT ZERO-WASTE OPTIONS

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Photo by Secret Garden on Pexels.com

You don’t need to spend an exorbitant amount of money to have a beautiful flower arrangement for your wedding. Depending on your personal resources, you may want to consider making your own arrangements instead of going to a florist. Or, if you’d rather go to a professional for your flowers, ask if there is any way you can approach the task in a more low-waste way. For example, since many professional arrangements come with foam in them, perhaps you can ask your florist to skip the foam and plastic to cut back on waste. It would also be ideal to order flowers from a local shop, as this will boost your local economy and result in less gas emissions.


UTILIZE LOW-WASTE FAVORS

adult birthday birthday gift box
Photo by Porapak Apichodilok on Pexels.com

This tip is one of my personal favorites on the list, and it’s also possibly the easiest. When you are planning favors guests, bridesmaids, etc., consider giving gifts that promote a low-waste lifestyle. Reusable straws, cups, and bags are all thoughtful, affordable ways to show your appreciation while still sustaining the environment. Even more, these are gifts that will last years (or even a lifetime), if they are taken care of accordingly. If you’re looking for a place to get started, Etsy has tons of customizable options for cups, water bottles, bags, etc. Additionally, little plants or succulents can be a wonderful and adorable gift to give away as a wedding favor! I’ll leave links to some of my favorite shops below.


INCORPORARE MINIMAL(IST) DECOR

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Photo by rovenimages.com on Pexels.com

For the ultimate low-waste, minimalist wedding, make sure you pay close attention to your theme and decorations, and how you can theoretically cut back on unneeded clutter and waste. For example, why not make your own simple, minimalist flower arrangements for the table and use things you already have your house instead of going out of your way to buy more stuff? After all, you’re probably going to discard all of those decorations anyway after your big day. Another idea would be to have your guests take the flowers/vases home with them, as a memory of the wedding (and that leaves you with less cleanup, too). Not only is this going to be better for the planet, but it will also save you money on your wedding in general.


HAVE A VEGETARIAN MENU

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Photo by Sebastian Coman Photography on Pexels.com

Because I am already a vegetarian, this tip was already a no-brainer for me. However, even if you’re normally a carnivore, you may still want to explore the benefits of having a vegetarian menu for your guests. The meat industry is shockingly wasteful and contributes to issues such as water degradation, acid rain, coral reef degeneration, and 18% of ALL human greenhouse gas emissions. Yikes! Even if it’s just a small step, like only serving plant-based dishes at your wedding, you are still taking a positive step in the direction of protecting the earth and her animals. I’ll leave some links to my favorite vegetarian dishes below that I believe would be perfect for a wedding.


DONATE YOUR LEFTOVER FOOD

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Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Depending on how many guests you invite, it’s entirely possible that you will have a ton of leftover food. See how much of it you can divvy up to your guests so you don’t have to toss it out; or, if you’re feeling really fancy, find out if there’s a local business, homeless shelter or organization that you can donate your leftover food to. Not only does it cut back on waste for you, but it also has the potential to brighten up somebody else’s day with some free food!


FINALLY, SUPPORT SUSTAINABLE BRANDS

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you’re getting married, it’s probably very likely that you’re going to sign up for a gift registry. My advice would be to put as much research into the gifts/products you want as possible, to ensure that you are supporting brands with the most ethical, earth-friendly missions. For example, if you’re looking for new bedding, plates, or towels, see if your store offers an organic/fair-trade brand for that item. Of course, it’s not possible to find a low-waste option for everything, but it’s at least worth a try.


That’s going to be it for today! I hope you found this list helpful and informative. Regardless of how you choose to execute your wedding, the most important thing is that you’re marrying the love of your life. Everything else will follow in suit.

My favorite Etsy shops for wedding ideas:

Vintage Wedding Dresses

Customizable Water Bottles

Reusable Metal Straws

Monogram Bridesmaid Bags


Vegetarian Recipes for Weddings:

Vegan Stuffed Shells

Vegan Italian Wedding Soup

Grilled Ratatouille Kebabs

Butternut Squash Risotto 

Blackberry Wine Hand Pies