Less than 5 Ingredient Holiday Treats

Who doesn’t love a good cookie?

Crazy people. Or boring people.

Who prefers the idea of baking cookies, to actually baking the cookies?

Most people.

Well friends, I like baking cookies but only if they’re quick and easy, and as long as I have most (preferably all) of the ingredients already in my cabinets. The past couple of years I’ve baked cookies for friends/family/work and each time I get the, “Woah you actually BAKED these cookies?” to which I respond with a, “Yeah but they’re super easy. Like genuinely easy, not Ina Garten easy.” Being the nice person I am, I also breakdown the recipes for everyone as proof that the cookies really are that easy.

So to spread some yummy cookie cheer, I’ll share my minimal ingredient secrets with you all!

Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup of peanut butter
    • 1 cup of sugar
      • Regular white sugar for a smoother cookie, but if you like a crumblier cookie with a heartier texture use sugar in the raw – I personally prefer sugar in the raw’s cookie texture! Tastes grittier because the sugar doesn’t fully dissolve in the baking process.
    • 1 egg
  • Instructions:
    • Preheat oven to 350° F
    • Mix peanut butter, sugar, and egg together until completely combined
    • Use a small spoon to scoop out cookies onto baking sheet
      • I always roll them but other recipes say you can do a simple drop too, no roll
    • Pop cookies in the oven for just under 10 minutes
      • If you use sugar in the raw they take a bit longer to cook, right at that 10 minute mark, but if you use regular white sugar those things are done in like 6-8 mins depending on cookie size
      • It’s also best to take these guys out when they look like they need five more minutes. Once you take them out to cool, they’ll continue to cook on that scorching sheet anyway, and you don’t want a burnt bottom
  • Notes:
    • Turn these into “Peanut Butter Blossoms” by adding Hershey’s Kisses on top of the cookies immediately upon removal from the oven. You can use any of the Hershey’s Kisses – I personally prefer the dark chocolate Kisses!

Cool Whip Cookies

Click the photo for a more in-depth look at this recipe!

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 box of cake mix (literally any kind, red velvet keeps it festive though!)
    • 1 8oz container of cool whip (can be the low fat or reg)
    • 1 egg
    • Confectioner’s sugar (only a plate/bowl full will be needed)
  • Instructions:
    • Preheat oven to 350° F
    • Mix together the cake mix, egg, and cool whip until completely combined
    • Form mix into small balls and roll into the confectioner’s sugar until coated
      • The mixture is super gooey, so it’s easier to spoon a drop into the sugar and use the sugar as a barrier between your hands and the gooey mess
    • Bake for 10-12 mins
      • If these guys look like the need five more minutes, let them have their five more minutes. They do all of their cooking in the oven and won’t get much farther once taken out (unlike those peanut butter cookies)
  • Notes:
    • These cookies are soft and a tad gooey, but if they taste super gooey and can’t even easily be picked up without sagging… then they’re not cooked all the way.
    • These are also a bit of a blank canvas cookie and taste great with walnuts or pecans added – whatever you picture vibing with the cake box you’ve chosen! Walnuts and chocolate cake mix cookies go well together from my experience 🙂

Oreo Cookie Balls (no-bake)

Don’t want to bake? Click the photo to go to an Etsy page that sells those EXACT cookie balls 😉

  • Ingredients:
    • Pack of oreos (38 cookies)
    • 8 oz of cream cheese (room temp)
    • 1-2 cups of melting chocolate (either two cups of reg milk chocolate, or one cup white and one cup milk depending on preference/decor!)
  • Instructions:
    • Place Oreo’s into gallon ziploc bag and smash those suckers up. Get out all of your pent up anger from 2020, just take it all out on those Oreo’s
    • Mix together the now cookie crumbs and the cream cheese
    • Melt the chocolate in the microwave (or stove if you’re fancy)
    • Roll the cookie mixture into balls and dip into the chocolate using a fork, then place onto baking sheet to dry
      • The decorating/chocolate coating is easier to manage if you form the mix all into balls and place them in the freeze for 10-15 mins to harden and then coat in chocolate. But honestly it’s not super necessary, if you’re as impatient as me then don’t worry about it. But if you like to do things a bit more… “by the book” place them in the freezer for a bit.
      • The chocolate coating bit is where you can get fancy, dipping half the ball into the milk chocolate, half into the white, or drizzle…etc.
    • Once you’re done coating in chocolate, pop in the fridge for about an hour and they’re good to go!
  • Notes:
    • Other things you can do to make these more fun is coat in crushed candy cane pieces, sprinkles, nuts, etc – literally anything that you think could vibe with Oreo’s… go for it – they’re your cookies!

Sugar Cookies

Don’t want to bake? Click the photo to go to an Etsy page that sells those EXACT cookies 😉

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup of butter (softened)
    • 2/3 cup of sugar
    • 2 cups of flour
  • Instructions:
    • Preheat oven to 325° F
    • Mix together sugar and butter until completely combined
    • Add in flour
    • Mix all ingredients until perfectly combined – get your hands in there!
    • Option to roll out dough and use cookie cutters for fun shapes, or you can simply roll into balls and flatten into a round cookie
    • Add a sprinkle of sugar onto the top of the cookie for a lil sweet pizazz
    • Pop in oven for 14 – 16 mins or until golden brown
  • Notes:
    • These are fun to, of course, coat in icing or sprinkles, but honestly sometimes sugar cookies are best just as they are – simple and sweet.

Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Don’t want to bake? Click the photo to go to an Etsy page that sells those EXACT pretzels 😉

  • Ingredients:
    • Pretzel sticks or regular pretzels
    • 16 oz of melting chocolate (dark, milk, white – whatever your preference)
    • Toppings of choice (sprinkles, candy cane pieces, nuts, M&Ms, etc.)
  • Instructions:
    • Prep a baking sheet with wax paper
    • Melt chocolate by filling a tall cup, mason jar, etc (something tall that the pretzel stick can be mostly dunked into) with the melting chocolate
      • If you doing smaller regular pretzels instead of rods, use a bowl instead of cup!
    • Heat cup in microwave in 10 sec intervals, stirring and heating until completely melted
    • Dip pretzels into the chocolate, lay out on the wax paper and then add your topping
  • Notes:
    • This can get real messy, real fast – but that’s okay. There are sinks in the kitchen for a reason 🙂
    • It’s also super preference based. Go with whatever your taste is, honestly if you don’t want toppings then don’t put toppings. Simple chocolate covered pretzels are nice too 🙂

. . .

Baking cookies shouldn’t be stressful, if anything it should be a way to put stressful things out of sight and out of mind for a little while. So if you’re someone who likes cookies, but doesn’t care for the whole extravaganza that some cookie recipes call for… try some of the above recipes. If you’re having a small get together or want to make some cookie boxes for friends and family, the above options make such a nice spread that everyone will think you went ham and did the whole grand cookie extravaganza – and it’s not a crime to let them think you made some intricate cookies 😉

. . .

Playlist Fiend: Diet Soda Society

More often than not, I’ll find a song that I love so much, right off the bat, that I need more of that kind of song. Spotify generally does an OK job of “song radios” where it’s like, “Oh, you like this song? Got it. The next several songs will be that vibe. Pinky Swear.” Then the next few songs are that vibe… then it flips and the algorithm glitches or something, and suddenly instead of some smooth R&B, I’m listening to a T-Swift song that someone sub-categorized as R&B.

There’s nothing wrong with T-Swift, I’m a shameless fan – but if I’m in the mood for some Giveon… don’t give me T-Swift. Just don’t. That ain’t the vibe.

Another con to the Spotify “song radios” is that they operate off of Wi-Fi/data. Which can be incredibly inconvenient if you’re not in the comforts of your home Wi-Fi. This con is pretty massive con for me.

So due to my Spotify trust issues and necessity for convenience, whenever I’m struck with a new-to-me song, I instantly deep dive and create my own playlist that echoes the vibes of that song. Another pro to me doing this is not only stumbling upon even more new-to-me songs, but also having the power to put some of my fave bops on there as well. In creating these playlists, it’s actually this insane scouring of Spotify that takes place…

  1. Whichever artist’s song started this manic-playlist-creation, I dive into their Spotify first.
  2. I tear apart their other songs from various albums to see if there are any similar to that one song I now love (usually there is only 1-2 additional songs that maintain the vibe, shockingly enough).
  3. Then I continue down the profile and go through the pre-made playlists that already feature their music, and from those I pluck music by various artists that fit the vibe just right.
  4. Last step is when I scroll down to the “fans also like” section and tear those artists apart… picking jams that fit best.

It’s a whole process to be honest, I can be in the zone for as little as thirty minutes or 2-3 hours, depending on how deep the rabbit hole is and how familiar I already am with the genre. This whole playlist process is almost therapeutic to me, it gives me a weird creative outlet to just dive into with results that keep me satisfied for ages.

The latest song that sent me down the rabbit hole, was Diet Soda Society by The Maine off of their album, American Candy. It came out in 2015, but I’m only just discovering it, five years later, courtesy of my roommate, Zoe!

Zoe and I have been friends for ages, but it was only upon moving in together this fall that we found out that we both have a comical obsession with Diet Coke. Together, we’ve began splitting 12 packs of DC, and finding out very quickly that Whole Foods brand DC is NO BUENO!! It tastes… smoky?

But anyway – back to the whole point of this article…

The other day Zoe had sent me this song (“because DC“), which I quickly became obsessed with. By quickly, I mean, the song hadn’t even finished before I was like, “PLAYLIST MUST BE MADE SO I CAN LIVE IN THIS ANGSTY VIBE FOREVER.

So, checkout my latest playlist: Diet Soda Society and let’s vibe together.

It’s OK To Be SAD

SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly known as Seasonal Depression.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — it begins and ends at about the same times every year. For most people, symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often do people experience SAD in the warmer months, but it still happens!

Fall and Winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy

Spring and Summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety

The Mayo Clinic also firmly encourages, “Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own.”

It’s always startling to me how controversial therapy is. Over the years I’ve heard so many people say, “No, therapy is not for me. Tried it once and nope.” or the quip of, “I don’t need therapy” or even therapy being labeled as liberal poppycock is another quip that has the eyes rolling to the back of my head.

I have a very firm belief that anyone who hates therapy simply hasn’t had a good therapist. It’s so important to find the right therapist for you, therapist shopping is a thing! A sucky tiresome thing, I’ve learned in my adult life, but necessary.

The concept of therapy has never been taboo for me, it’s always been a common party of life and conversation – talking about going to see a therapist is as casual as talking about a trip to the mall, or a more accurate comparison is saying you’re going to the doctor for just a checkup to make sure all the parts are running the way they should.

I’ve been seeing a therapist since I was seven or eight years old. My mom had started seeing Suzie shortly after my parents divorced, but my sister and I weren’t brought in for a family session until a few years into my mom’s therapy journey. After one visit with Suzie, we began yearly visits until sometime in high school when it became abundantly clear I wasn’t doing ok and needed more frequent visits. Essentially, I have a habit of bottling up emotions and carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I hate sharing or opening up, because I feel my problems are mine alone to bear, I don’t want to put them on anyone else.

But talking with Suzie became a such an outlet, and I will say – it was an incredible bonus that she was regularly seeing my mom, my sister, and even some other family members. This meant I never had to do a lot of the background family deep dive you usually do with a therapist – she already knew the deep rooted family problems and how they trickled into my psyche. Every visit with her was always this much needed cathartic release of emotion I had kept tightly sealed… she’s a blessing, honestly.

As I got older, moved away for school and what not, I still would hit a point about once a year where I’d be like, “DRIVING UP TO ANDERSON BECAUSE I NEED SUZIE!”

It took probably the second year of me only coming to see her in the dead of winter where she’s like, “Emily, I’m pretty sure you have seasonal depression.”

I was quick to respond, “No, no – I’m sad year round remember?

But she explained it, that yes overall I struggled with mental health, but my lowest points where I seem to be unable to take it anymore happen the same time every year – nearly without fail.

I still had a hard time agreeing with her, mainly because winter is my favorite time of the year, I love Christmas, I adore the snow (I swear I can smell it coming several hours before it actually snows), and I just love the coziness… there’s no way my favorite season would betray me so much. I couldn’t accept it.

But, she was right – it wasn’t really up to me to dispute the facts.

She also let me know that Indiana has some of the highest seasonal depression rates in the country, ranking number 3 overall!

Indiana 3rd in Google searches for seasonal depression | News Sun |  kpcnews.com
Source: KPCNews

Above is an image detailing states with the most google searches for seasonal depression – I think this graphic is most interesting because it shows how many people are wondering, “Do I have seasonal depression?” and looking into it; scouring WEB MD to see if their never-ending feeling of meh is normal. As you can imagine, seasonal depression, like clinical depression, often goes undiagnosed.

The ultimate “cause” of seasonal depression is unknown, but the Mayo Clinic says it could be:

  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, treatments for seasonal depression fall into four main categories that may be used alone or in combination:

  • Light therapy
  • Psychotherapy (this is talk therapy aimed to help develop coping mechanisms)
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Vitamin D

Light therapy may be the one to catch your eye (it certainly caught mine) and honestly it’s something that I had always been told about and it’s my mom and my aunt’s favorite form. The quick way to get some light therapy in high dosage is simply going tanning, which I know, I know, it’s not good for your skin. But I can tell you right now, when I excessively tanned throughout college, it always seemed to be the boost I needed that day.

That being said – there are non-harmful, safe for your skin, forms of light therapy available! Very Well Mind has compiled a list of the best light therapy lamps of 2020 – check those out and maybe invest, or ask for one for Christmas 😉

Over the years, the way that I’ve tried coping with SAD is to jam pack the winter months with activities. At work it’s the busiest time which helps, I try to make it where I get to see as many family and friends as possible, and then at the tail end of winter (that nasty February bit) is when it’s the absolute worst for me – so I always try to plan a trip abroad during that time. I find that for me the depression creeps in when I have idle hands and a dwelling mind, so I work hard to eliminate as many occasions as possible where the depression could take its hold.

Some days the depression still wins, making it hard for me to even leave my bed; but sometimes I do the winning and have great days – and that’s just the way it is. It’s a balancing act to get all those chemicals in your brain steady 🙂

. . .

Ultimately, Seasonal Depression is real and not something to be taken lightly. It’s serious, don’t ignore it or brush it off – and don’t brush off your friends and family when they tell you they suffer from it. SAD can lead to serious issues like school or work problems, social withdrawal, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts or behavior, anxiety, eating disorders, and more.

Seasonal Depression is a real mental health issue, treat it like you would clinical depression, manic bipolar, bulimia, or literally any other mental health issue. Just because you don’t suffer the effects everyday, year round, does not invalidate the severity or the impact it has, or could have, on your life.

. . .

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger due to depression, contact 911. If you or someone you know is in need of support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454 or text “HELLO” to 741741 the Crisis Text Line.

The One Where She Went Skiing

Newsflash – Indiana is flat AF. Straight roads go on for miles and miles, the most exciting a road can get is if you hit a pothole that sends you flying.

Indiana is so flat you can watch your dog run away for two weeks.

Indiana is so flat

Okay, ok – done.

Indiana is flat, but something weird happens the farther south you go. The Earth begins to rise and these mounds of dirt begin to emerge. One of the more hilly towns of Indiana is that of Paoli – home of Paoli Peaks. Paoli Peaks is a ski resort in Orange County and built on a natural hill at a 900 ft. elevation with a vertical drop of 300 ft. For well traveled skiers, this may seem like a bunny hill of a feat, but for those who’d like to ski somewhere between Louisville and Indianapolis… I’d say Paoli is the Aspen of Indiana. If you want to get real fancy on this ski-escapade, you’d stay in the West Baden Springs Hotel and drink in that wealth before hopping over to the slopes – that hotel and its entire grounds are seriously impressive and sets the tone for a lush experience.

January 2014 is when I got my first taste of Paoli, and my one and only go at skiing – and my God, was that something to behold.

If I told you I excelled immediately and was a natural born skier, my pants would burst into flames because that would be one of the biggest lies of the century. The amount of times I fell, and cursed the children who were expertly skiing past me as I lie staring at the sky were insurmountable. The number of times I threatened the lives of others, both on purpose and accident, were shocking. But the amount of times I fell and got up either by myself, or with a helping hand… were impressive.

Clearly I learned some existential things during my time skiing in the Aspen of Indiana:

You can’t just waltz in somewhere and think you’ll be perfect right off the bat. Sometimes it happens, but a lot of the time… to be really good at something, it takes time. Not just several hours either, but days, weeks, months, years to be really good at something.

So don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect at something new. In fact, go in with the mindset of “I might suck now, but I’ll get better.”

I can’t emphasize enough how enraged I was, each time I fell to the snowy ground and saw these children just expertly skiing past me. It was unfair, I was older and supposed to inherently be better – it’s how it works.

But it’s actually not, is it?

Those children have been skiing as long as they could walk, maybe. But also the way young minds absorb new things is completely unparalleled to an older/adult brain.

In all walks of life, it is highly likely you will come across a younger person who simply knows more, or does something better, than you. Don’t be bitter about it, be better and maybe even ask them for help. Don’t let pride and ego stop you from being better.

I’m really, really terrible at asking for help. I’m an incredibly determined person and fairly confident in the fact that I can do anything. There’s not much I can’t do on my own, and I quite like it this way.

But do you know how much quicker something can get done if you invest in an extra hand? It took me a couple hours into skiing to just finally ask anyone and everyone for help on that slope. And it’s so crazy – the more people I asked, the more friends I made, and the more enjoyable the day went on to be.

It’s so important to try new things, but sometimes trying a bunch of new things all at once is too much. It sends your body into a bit of shock and can ruin the vibe pretty quick.

By the time I got the skiing “down”, down as in not falling every few minutes, I was quickly convinced by a friend to try snowboarding. I should’ve drawn the line and said, “No, thanks – I still want to focus on skiing and get this solidified before the days done.”

But no, I of course agreed and created this new obstacle for myself. Within moments of trying to snowboard, my body, well my mind really, was just like “Girl, you’re maxed out for the day. You’re done. Also, you now hate everyone.”

Setting goals is just as important as setting limits. Respect yourself enough to do both, and communicate your boundaries to those around you.

It really is as simple as that – don’t let one mistake keep you from trying again.

Epic fails = epic character building.

. . .

Emily at Paoli Peaks in 2014

My First Car, Mumford

To date, one of the most pinnacle moments in my life is the moment I got my license. When I turned 16, I got my learners permit, and six months later on the dot I walked out of the DMV with my license in hand, ready to hit the road. One could easily say that getting your license is important to everyone, but you don’t understand – my having a license, being in control of my own transportation… this was big.

Being raised by a single mother who works full time, meant that I was often shuffled around relying not on just one or two people to transfer me where I needed, but multiple family members would help, along with numerous family friends throughout the years. It takes a village to raise a child after all, and it takes a village and a half to get one across town to various sporting games, social festivities, and other extra curriculars.

But having to rely on multiple people to get me where I needed never bothered me, why should it? All of these people cared about me so much they willingly hauled my butt around Madison County.

The main reason I was eager to get my own car? Driving myself to school in the mornings.

No, no – I never had to take the bus, but my sister and I fought like cats and dogs every single morning. Not just screaming matches, but nearly every morning there would be a WWE match taking place in the kitchen. Mainly these resulted from a toxic mix of night owls being forced from their dens before 8AM and my incessant need to be on time, or early rather, to school.

I was the kid who would scream throughout the house, “It’s 7:15! WE NEED TO LEAVE!” then the following minute would pass and I’d release an exasperated growl while pacing in the kitchen, “7:16, PEOPLE, I REPEAT IT IS NOW 7:16! WE NEED TO LEAVE!!”

Now what’s hysterical, is anyone who knows me today knows I struggle to be on time. But what can I say, as I age priorities change!

But anyway, the minute I had my license I had all the control I could possible need at the time – I could leave whenever I wanted.

. . .

The story of how I got my first car, is quite standard (maybe?!) I worked a comically dramatic summer for my dad in Kentucky. It was a particularly dry and hot summer with the temperatures hitting over 100 degrees each day, and my daily duties were a mix of helping my step-mom with some admin stuff, cleaning around the houses that were in construction, shuttling my siblings between various sports. As you can imagine, there were also several dramatic instances of me “quitting” because it was too hot to function. I earned a hundred or so dollars here and there, enough for gas and to funnel $25 a week over to my papa. He had offered me his 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible for $500 plus the condition that I kept a job while I had the car.

So by the end of the summer of 2012, I had sent my papa the $500, road tripped to his house in Pennsylvania to pick it up, and secured a job at the glorious Waffle House in Anderson, Indiana.

A 16 year old with a convertible and unlimited access to Waffle House hashbrowns? I was livin’ the Hoosier Dream!

I got attached to my Sebring fast. It was an older car, that had a decent amount of miles on it, 100k or so, but it was well maintained and ran great. This might sound crazy, but it always seemed to run the best whenever I played any Mumford and Sons song, so naming it Mumford was a no brainer there.

Good ole’ Mumford got me through my senior year of high school and only a few weeks shy of getting me all through college. I ran him bone dry, his life ending at somewhere between 326-346k miles, but to be fair towards the end he ran me (and my parent’s bank accounts) dry too.

Notable Mumford Moments:

There was a point in time when my driver side door just decided not to open. The lock would jam and that was that. It lasted a few months before it decided to work like a normal door again, but those several months were a freaky mix of me either awkwardly climbing through the window or stealthily sliding in through the passenger side. This also happened in the winter months, so having the top down to easily hop in wasn’t a thing…

Speaking of the weird lock thing, it also somehow triggered the door into never fully shutting all of the way? And during those few months when the door was mysteriously locked forever, my car alarm would randomly decide to go off throughout the night. My neighbors loved me 😉

This may or may not be news to you, but convertibles are the ultimate getaway car. Mumford helped carry out the greatest heist of all time – the stealing of a massive shark from some poor boy’s graduation party. (don’t worry the hostage was returned safe and sound later that evening..)

Soft top convertibles are glitz and glam, until that thing happens. Soft top owners, you know what it is… the rear glass separates from the top *face palm* I found the glass had separated in the worst way possible – after it had snowed A LOT, then the snow melted… and caked the inside of my car in mildew. The rest of my car’s life was a one of a duct taped exterior and a ‘heavy duty febreeze before driving’ interior. This smell only enhanced that summer when my AC didn’t work… LOL

Ironically, this photo is from a few weeks before the car’s passing, just after I found a local place that replaced the glass for around $100, but if you look close you can still see the duct tape battle scars :’)

. . .

This car, Mumford, he held all of the peak memories from my teenage years. Mumford played such a vital part of my friend group, he was the friend you could always count on to provide a good time. When you grow up in the Crossroads of America, all you and your friends can really do when bored is just hop in a car and fly down some back roads screaming the lyrics to your favorite songs – which made a convertible with a brand new stereo (courtesy of a Papa who loves to rock n’ roll) the perfect car for a bunch of teens to feel wild and free.

It doesn’t matter how new your car is, it doesn’t matter how fancy or sleek it is, it doesn’t even really matter if the car is a bit quirky – not when you’re 16. When you’re 16, all you need is a fast car with damn good stereo.

. . .

Share your first car stories in the comments below!

Emily’s car Mumford: 1997 Chrysler Sebring Convertible

Playlist Fiend: Eclectic Christmas Vibes

~Hi, hello, I’m back with an eclectic playlist to fit the seasonal vibes~

My absolute favorite holiday in the entire world is just around the corner folks, it’s nearly Christmas! COVID may have squashed my Thanksgiving family time, but I’m not letting Miss Rona f with Christmas. I’ve rented a car and will be journeying to my mom’s in PA and then heading down south to KY to see dad and rest of the fam, so obvi with two six hour drives… a hefty Christmas playlist is more than necessary.

I can’t let the road dull my holiday cheer.

My playlist has notable classics along with some covers, and also original Christmas songs by various artists. Below are just a few of the songs that made the list:

Winter Wonderland covered by The Judds

Growing up, The Judds Christmas CD was always brought out. Every wintry drive with my mom and sister, one of these songs was nearly always in the background. This song just happens to be my favorite from that CD 😉

Little Drummer Boy covered by Lauren Daigle

This song in general, has always been one of my favorites, perhaps due to it being so different to the usual bravado typically chorused in Christmas music. Lauren Daigle’s cover captures the gentle mysterious vibes that I love so much~

We Three Kings covered by Alexander Jean, Casey Abrams

Okay, We Three Kings is fr fr my actual favorite Christmas song. It’s my number one, again because it has that mysterious vibe unique to Christmas music, and this cover is #sick.

Winter Song by Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareillis

Ugh this song just gives allllll the feels. Ingrid & Sara are queens – simple as that ❤

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Judy Garland

When writing this article and choosing five tracks to highlight, I hadn’t planned to list any classics because everyone should know OF COURSE the classics are on this playlist. Not some of them, but like… all of them are on there I promise. But then I decided I needed to highlight this song, because if I could choose one song, and one song only, to listen to all season… it would be this one, without a doubt ❤

. . .

Okay guys, those are only a few songs that barely scratch the surface of my playlist! See the full playlist here and get into the Christmas spirit me…

How My Mom Prepared Me for the Covid Era

Standing in line at CVS, I glance down to ensure I’m perfectly placed on the red dot – maintaining adequate social distance from the person in front of me. I don’t know them, I don’t know their story, most importantly I don’t know when they last sanitized their hands.

After they’ve received their bag with the receipt inside, I patiently wait for the cashier to sanitize the surface before calling me forward. I drop down my items, which are an array of nail polish and a cute first aid kit – super handy to slip into my purse – and I watch as each item is scanned and tossed in a bag. Once all of the items are accounted for, the cashier asks for a phone number – which I quickly recite by heart.

Nicole?” they ask.

I pause for a moment before it sets in, if there’s ever been any week in my entire life where I can confidently say I am my mother.. it is certainly this one. I smile, not that it can be seen beneath my thick mask, and respond, “Yep, that’s me.

. . .

Recently I was in California for work, and this is where I got to put my Covid Officer certification to use. I was onsite to primarily enforce proper sanitization and go the extra mile to ensure we were doing all we could onsite to prevent the spread.

It was almost startling how natural it felt to me to enforce all of those little preventative actions. You know, the ones that are seemingly hard for most of the population? The cough in your elbow or shoulder, wash your hands, stay away from buffets or shared food in general, always have hand sanitizer on you… wipe down high contact surfaces repeatedly…

But these small things, I’ve realized, are just the tip of the iceberg on the little hacks my moderately-germophobic mother raised my sister and I on. I’ve now had two productions I’ve been a Covid Officer on, and each time I asked the person in charge, “How high do you want me to turn up the volume, because I can turn it up real high or be more moderate…” but what I was really asking is “How much of my mother do you want to see come out?

Some of my favorite mom highlights and rules growing up:

MOM RULE ONE:

DON’T SHARE DRINKS OR FOOD

MOM RULE TWO:

DON’T TOUCH HIGH CONTACT SURFACES WITH YOUR BAREHANDS UNLESS GIVEN NO OTHER CHOICE…

MOM RULE THREE:

KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN ALWAYS

Honestly, what is most hysterical about my mom being such a germaphobe and coming off very… high strung up above, is that growing up she still maintained ‘cool mom’ status. My fave mom quote ever is, “What I cannot see, I cannot prevent…” and not to mention my mom always helped me throw the most fun and memorable parties growing up.

So this is to say – you can be fun, cool, and have all the party vibes in the world… but still practice being sanitized, being aware of how germs and sickness can so easily spread, and do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

. . .

The 5 by 5 Rule & Selective Energy

I tend to live life in the gray. Meaning, I’ve never fully felt like an extrovert, nor an introvert, I’m not full blown OCD about things, but I am Type A – it’s my way, or the highway (most of the time) but I guess that’s the Taurus in me. Yet, I do firmly say it’s only my way most of the time, because I actually strive to find compromises with people so everyone can be happy… but one thing I incessantly struggle with?

I usually get worked up over the tiniest of things.

This reverts back to the whole Type A thing, when I have a certain way of doing things, and I communicate this “amazingly perfect” way to others – I assume they will hop on board and think, “Oh yes, wise Emily, your way is spectacular I wish I had always known this manner of doing this task! I will now and forever do it this way!” But the crazy thing is, most people don’t automatically hop on my bus. They can see in the moment how great, efficient, and fluid my way is… but it’s not their vibe. They have their own preferred way and *deep breath* I have to accept that.

Something someone had told me years ago was the 5 by 5 rule:

“If it’s not going to matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes upset by it.

And honestly, up until like three days ago, this rule always bugged the crap out of me. It would make me want to yank my hair out and scream, “I CAN’T THINK ABOUT FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, MAYBE I WILL STILL BE BITTER THAT THE WRONG FONT WAS USED FOR THAT THING. DON’T TELL ME TO REDIRECT MY ENERGY!”

But this is the thing, little “errors” like spacings, or fonts, or filters, or scheduling genuinely could get me worked up. Like, I have explicitly laid out this yellow brick road for you Dorothy, why are you rollin’ down that red path?!

But you know what? If Dorothy wants to drift and do her own thing, that’s her business.

This whole crazy covid life we live has really put the 5 by 5 Rule in perspective. I can tell you right now that any of the stressing I did in 2015 has no business in my 2020 mind, and I can only assume that 2025 will have its own problems and its own blessings (trying to stay positive here).

The world is already so messy right now, don’t let the mess take over your head. Especially with the current happenings, the scary unknowns, don’t waste your time stressing on small things – focus on the big picture, the stuff that matters, and when the little things start to get under your skin, put the 5 by 5 Rule as the background vibe in your mind and turn your immediate focus to a tangible beauty for a few minutes.

A tangible beauty being something like absorbing the sunshine (even just sitting in front of your window), a quick laydown in your comfy bed, a slow walk around the neighborhood… find a tangible beauty in life to replace the current irritations attempting to dig roots into your skin.

Don’t feed the beast – it’s so, so easy to feed it. But imagine what feeding the beast could do, with each angry bone you toss it, the thing grows and grows, and what does that do to your inner child? Have you ever seen a child excited for the company of a terrifyingly rude and ruthless beast? One that could scream at them for the littlest of things?

Nope? Didn’t think so.

Don’t misunderstand, the big thing I’m not saying is “Don’t stress – ever!” Stress is inevitable, being totally carefree is hard and anyone who seems carefree all the time… or says they’re carefree all the time… is probably full of BS. But what they’re doing right (maybe) is not sweating the small stuff, they only stress about the things worth stressing about.

Ultimately, when you catch yourself getting worked up and overwhelmed, think about the 5 by 5 Rule, yes – but mostly choose where your energy goes.

Sometimes it’s as simple as firmly saying to yourself, “I’m not going to give into this stress. I’m not going to give into this situation. This is not my vibe, this is not worth my precious time and energy.

. . .

UK Adventures: Beast from the East

Buckle your seatbelts everyone, I’m about to take you for a wild ride.

End of February going into March 2018, I made the ultra-fun decision to go visit one of my friends, Linus, in his home country ~ England. It would be my first time going there ever, and I hadn’t seen Linus since we’d studied abroad together in 2016, so this trip was revved up to be an ordeal. An amazing ordeal.

I did my research and the cheapest way, and really the most fun way, to get to Linus was to first fly to Paris and meet one of our mutual friends there, then together her and I would fly to London that same day, and then… you know what, I’m actually a psycho planner so below is what had been planned:

See my full excel here if you’re looking for planning inspo… LOL I AM NOT ASHAMED

As you can see, we get to do a fun trip hitting various cities. Our two days in London (really only one proper day) we went to Warner Brothers Studios and did the FULL Harry Potter shebang. It was bliss, I would easily pay the 40-50 bucks to go again, and again, and again. It was magic and everything I hoped it would be and more…

PRO TIP: You have to book your tickets for WB Studios in advance. Like as soon as possible, because depending on the time of year, they can be all booked up for several weeks out!

After our super fun Harry Potter escapade, we hopped in train up north to the main event: the visit with the lovely Linus in his humble abode located in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I’ll be real, the only Newcastle I had ever heard of was the one in Indiana, so I didn’t know what to expect when signing up to visit this town. But I’ll be quick to say Newcastle is a pretty major city that perfectly maintains the English quaintness I was craving. We had loads of fun seeing the town, great shopping, fun nights out. We went to this great bar called The Alchemist and the cocktails were so extravagant and hands on, I felt like a witch brewing potions – and lemme tell ya, the potions were working!

At this point you’re probably thinking, “This trip seems so nice! Way to be dramatic, Emily. So much for a wild ride…”

Well here we go… if you scroll back up to my lovely calendar, you’ll see that we had an unassuming day trip planned from Newcastle to Edinburgh. It made sense to do, it was a two hour journey via train, we could easily leave Newcastle early morning and leave Edinburgh late evening. Not to mention, the train tickets were stupid cheap. It was a great setup.

PRO TIP: Check the weather before you travel anywhere – near or far!

Our journey begins like most, tickets are bought, including surprise tickets for an unsuspecting Linus & his roommate as gratitude for letting us crash at theirs during our visit. We’re all buzzing with excitement to journey up to Edinburgh. I can’t wait to catch sight of the castle, more Harry Potter vibes, and of course catch some Scottish accents.

We’re nearly halfway through our train ride when we notice a light snow flurry begin to pick up intensity, and it’s not long before our train makes an unplanned stop. We’re at a standstill for nearly an hour, and it’s unknown when we will start moving. Linus’ roommate’s mother begins texting her frantically, “You guys are crazy to go to Edinburgh! Didn’t you check the weather?! You should turn around and come back…”

Upon the relay of the mother’s message, I speak quickly and firmly for us all, “No, this snow is nothing. We’re fine!”

Oh, those are the famous last words, aren’t they?

The snow certainly was nothing compared to the harsh winters experienced in Indiana, this weather would barely get us a 2-hr Delay from school! But what I had not taken into account is that the UK is not equipped for this kind of icy weather. It didn’t come often enough for it to be a problem, so when it did the country would just simply hold tight at home and wait out what they call a Beast from the East.

The ‘Beast from the East’ is a phrase used to describe cold and wintry conditions in the UK as a result of easterly winds from the near continent.

When pressure is high over Scandinavia, the UK tends to experience a polar continental air mass. 

When this happens in winter, cold air is drawn in from the Eurasian landmass, bringing the cold and wintry conditions that give rise to the ‘Beast from the East’ moniker.

Met office UK

So, basically it’s a crazy polar vortex that can be blamed on Scandinavia, ultimately. This is when the Beast from the East becomes a focal point of the story.

As we finally make it into a snowy Edinburgh, I’m awestruck. This is where some of my favorite film, TV, and literature is set – this is the backdrop of all of my daydreams – I’m in heaven. We wander around, snapping photos and trying not to slip in the quickly piling snow. Then we get to the castle…

Instantly I feel transported back in time – I can almost see the historical figures walking around. is this real life? Am I really here?

We continue, or mainly I continue, to snap photos and relish in the atmosphere before we soon declare it time to explore elsewhere – maybe grab a bite to eat before the train back, maybe finally try some Scotch because when in Rome… 😉

We don’t make it very far from the castle, when suddenly the wind picks up and snowflakes fall in thicker form. What had first felt like a gentle breeze with wisps of snow, now suddenly becomes a rioting force whiting out the landscape. We make a dash into the nearest pub to escape the beast, and quickly get cozy at the bar while we wait for a table to become available.

As we’re waiting, the chatty bartender quickly learns our story. Pouring scotch into a glass, she tells us very seriously, “Everything is closing down, I’ve never experienced anything like this. Even the castle is closed down, and it’s not been closed down in some 50 years! I’ll be surprised if the train will take you to Newcastle tonight…”

We nervously laugh in response and brush her off like idiots.

An hour or so later we’re stuffed to the brim with bangers & mash, scotch, and beer. Once the bill is paid, we begin to make our way through the now full blown blizzard towards the train station.

Well, reader, have you guessed what’s happened yet? Have you?

After a lengthy walk with many near-falls, we make it to the train station. We’re immediately met with a flustered conductor who tells us that all trains have been cancelled and that we should check back in the morning. He then points us to their office where they get us booked up in a complimentary hotel for the night and even equip us with meal vouchers for the inconvenience.

Im Fine GIF - Im Fine Friends GIFs

At this point, all we can do is exasperatedly sigh and get on with life. It’s just one night… I quickly google the hotel to find that it’s actually a 5-Star hotel anyway, so it’s totally fine. And it’s only one day of being the same clothes, luckily I always carry contact solution and spare contacts, so it’s fine. Seriously, I’m fine.

Chrissy Teigan GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

The next morning, Linus’ roommate checks with the train station and they tell her we need to check back later – nothing’s moving as of now. But they also quickly add that they are doing tickets on a first come first serve basis and in person only – so we need to be physically coming down to the station periodically to check the status...

Each morning and afternoon we dutifully check in at the station to see if there’s anything leaving Edinburgh, but always we get the same answer, “Nothin’ yet.”

Days quickly turn into weeks, weeks turn into months…

Just kidding 😉

We ended up being stranded in Edinburgh for four days in total. The trainline, Virgin, put us up in incredibly nice hotels each night and also provided us with breakfast and dinner vouchers each day. They were “perfectly splendid” and we lucked out with their hospitality.

Unfortunately though, due to the weather, everything in Edinburgh was closed down – all of the shops and museums and the castle – truly the only things open were the pubs. So we weren’t that put out, just drunk and stuck in the same clothing everyday LOL!

One of the highlights was when Linus and I stumbled upon this secret little pub off the beaten path, it was so cozy and felt so unapologetically Scottish – it was truly a highlight of the stranding. We were even encouraged to take off our shoes to dry them by the fire – it felt surreal and as if everything was a purposeful vacation in that moment.

So now we’ve hit a super fun part, and I’m curious if you’ve done the math and caught what’s about to go down next!

Not only had my return flight to Paris been missed, but by the time we made it back to Newcastle, so had my return flight back to the US 🙂

PRO TIP: Book all of your travel (flights and hotel) with a CREDIT CARD! Most credit cards have some of the best travel protection imaginable and will refund you for nearly everything – as long as it’s a valid excuse like sickness or weather, etc.

Nope GIFs | Tenor

But did ya homegurl use a credit card to book her travels? Or at the very least get traveler protection?

I was able to rebook my flight to Paris just fine since the UK was so greatly affected by the winter weather, but France was completely unaffected… so I was out a good chunk of change for my flight back to the US.

Needless to say, major lessons were learned, incredibly unique experiences were had… yet out of everything, there’s only one thing I would change. That’s right, after all that chaos I only have one thing to change.

My attitude.

Due to everything constantly changing, being completely out of control of the situation, additional vacation days being used that I had originally allotted for other things throughout the year… it was all eating at me and a lot of the time I struggled to properly enjoy what was put in front of me: an extended, nearly free, vacation with friends I don’t get to see very often. I wish that I embraced it all a bit more openly and accepted that the situation was out of my control, and just lived in the freaking moment. Clearly, there were definitely times I was able to get outside of my own head and enjoy myself, but can you just imagine what more experiences could’ve been added to the list if I just let go?

PRO TIP: Let go & live in the moment.

New York Apartment Moments

I moved to New York City almost immediately after I graduated college in 2017. The stars aligned and aligned, and continued to align and I’m still here, with the same company, jivin’ on.

One thing I’m frequently asked, by friends, family, and strangers alike is, “How much longer are you staying in New York?

When I first moved to New York, this question always made sense for people to ask me. My internship had an end date, I have no family here, costs are outrageous for housing, I moved here knowing only one person and that person I honestly only knew from a few shared classes in college. There was nothing grounding me here, I knew that and that’s why it was such a valid question for people to ask me.

Then, the internship abruptly ended 2 months in – because I got promoted 😉

So things only then started to become a bit grounding for me – my job became a real adulty job, friendships began rapidly growing, and almost excessively I began meeting more people… the city was morphing into my home. Yet as the years go by, I still get asked, “How much longer, Emily?”

Recently it clicked that the reason I’m asked so much, besides the point of people simply wanting me closer to them, is that maybe I’m not speaking enough about how much this place is my home.

When my mamaw passed away my freshman year of high school, she had cancer and it was incredibly touch and go a lot of the time. It hit a point where my dad ultimately told me, “No news is good news.” Which, in some weird way, I think this phrase held so much reassurance to me that I carried it on through to my adulthood. I treat everything with a “no news is good news” attitude – even in the very way I conduct my conversations with others. If I’m not talking about an aspect of my life, I assume everyone must realize that’s because those parts are good, or maybe even great! But what I’ve failed to understand is that this means when I’m talking in detail about anything… maybe I dwell a bit more on the bad or negative things happening – which then in turn paints a more negative picture of my life to others.

So of course it makes sense that people are asking me, “How much longer are you staying in New York, Emily?” because they’ve really only been hearing a quick quip of “Oh yeah, it’s great but…” and then I dive more in depth about mouse horror stories, or the terrible roommates, not to mention they regularly hear me say, “Send the package to my office because things get stolen from my apartment!

Today, I’ve decided to switch my narrative and share with you all some little magical things about each place I’ve lived in NYC, to spread some positivity around 🙂

. . .

HARLEM: MAY 27, 2017 – AUG 1, 2017

This was the apartment that welcomed me with open arms into the city. Albeit, itty-bitty tiny arms, but welcoming arms nonetheless. I paid $750 per month to live here incl. utlities (3 bedroom but I never saw one one of the roommates)

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: I lived with a bartender who would come home with her friends at 5AM and proceed to throw crazy parties each morning. There was no AC, and the dead of summer in NYC was so unbearable, every night I would take a cold shower and then take a washcloth to put behind my neck to keep me cool throughout the night. Living here was also the brokest I’d ever been in my life. It was rough, and not only all of that, my bedroom was so terribly small that I could lay on the floor and have my fingers touch one side and my toes touch the other (and I’m somewhere between 5’4″ – 5’5″!)

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: Almost every night, just before falling asleep, I would get to relax to the sound of a neighbor playing jazz music from their window, sometimes opera music, but mainly classic jazz. It was one of those grounding “I’m in NYC, I’m here…” moments, it felt like a scene from a movie – to fall asleep to that music on a twin-size mattress on the floor of a Manhattan apartment. There was also this Halal place at the end of my block and they had the best lamb over rice I’ve ever had… period. And the commute to work from this apartment was one of the most stable commutes I’ve experienced.

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CHINATOWN: AUG 1, 2017 – OCT 27, 2018

This place felt like a step up from my first apartment because the room had a queen size bed OFF THE GROUND, was generally larger, and also it was downtown right around where I loved going out the most. I also only paid $750 a month to live here incl. utilities (5 bedroom).

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: I lived in a five bedroom apt but a couple of the rooms generally had more than one occupant. Most of the occupants did not speak English. And we also had several furry roommates that did not pay rent – AKA MICE. WE HAD ALL THE MICE. It was a terror, one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. Link here to my personal blog to read more of those deets. I also lived above a grocery store which was under the Buddhist temple, which was under the Chinese Mafia gambling ring location (if you’ve seen Marvelous Mrs. Maisel it was identical to what Joel stumbled upon when opening his club..) – then after climbing all those stairs you’d find yourself at my apartment. We also had a stove top but not an oven – and I didn’t catch this until after I moved in…

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: Some of the craziest party nights of my life took place while I lived here and my roommates put up with my drunken loudness silently and without complaint. Even though communication was hard at times, it was somehow a friendly almost family like atmosphere you could tangibly feel. One roomie had an adorable Yorkie named Cofi and it was so fun to get greeted by her each day. Living in Chinatown itself made it feel even more real that I was in New York – or more like out of the country even. Just walking around the area, I get that same buzz in my soul that I get when traveling to a new city. Then the smell hits me and I’m ready to bounce, but you get the idea 😉 UGH AND LASTLY THE FOOD WAS PHENOM!!!!!!! So phenom…

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SPANISH HARLEM: OCT 27, 2018 – JULY 31, 2020

If I said Chinatown felt like a step up, man oh man, just hold your horses for this place. It was newly renovated with exposed brick in every room, only one flight of stairs to climb, WASHER AND DRYER IN UNIT!! It was a dream. I paid $1,207 a month plus utilities to live here (2 bedroom)

WHAT I’VE SHARED WITH OTHERS: Roaches, roaches, roaches. The renovations throughout the building rattled the roaches and our apartment was coated in the beasts. My roommate and I had severely different cleanliness standards. There was a loud motorcycle gang that would rumble through the neighborhood at all hours, right by our windows. Lastly, our super and management company were the worst…

THINGS I’VE NEVER SHARED: You could buy the prettiest freshest flowers and herbs from nearly any corner of any block whether its a bodega or a genuine flower shop – Spanish Harlem was stocked. And everything was fairly priced too. Speaking of Bodegas, there was a bodega on the corner of our block with the absolute best burgers and fries ever. Best enjoyed at the end of a night out. And the guys who worked there, along with those who also shopped there from the neighborhood, were the absolute friendliest people who could always bring a smile to my worn out face. I’ve also embarrassingly had a card declined there and they let me just have my order on the house without even a second thought. On another note, people would often park right outside our windows and blare music. To which I had a love/hate relationship with, but reflecting back it was mostly love. On Sundays it was typically soulful gospel music, and every other day the genre was fair game. I also often found myself Shazaming their music and adding it to my own playlists to jam to later. And lastly, every morning on my walk to the train, I always exchanged a nice “good morning” with a traffic cop – it was small thing, but it was still a burst of kindness I could count on each morning.

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Most currently, I’ve found myself out of Manhattan and living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This place… I’ve only said good things about this place. I feel blessed to have evolved up to this point – great roommates I actually enjoy hanging out with, a BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL APARTMENT WITH ALL THE AMENITIES… the cover photo for this article is the view from my building’s rooftop…

It’s a dream.

To reflect back on the whole, “no news is good news” thing – I shouldn’t have carried this past the situation with my mamaw. No news is good news is best for situational uses only. It’s so important to share the good things with those who care about you, because if you only share the bad, they’re going to worry and assume that’s all there is. Bad.

So share your good news, share your great moments, share the small nice moments – don’t assume everyone knows you’re experiencing good things. As my nana always says, “Do you know what happens when you assume? You make an ASS out of U and ME!

Playlist Fiend: Witchy Vibes

~Your serial playlist maker is back with some tunes for this Halloween season~

Whenever October rolls around I always crave a good spooky playlist, and I always find myself unsatisfied with the results out there. The typical Halloween songs are either like Monster Mash and Witch Doctor, or some Marylin Manson and Thriller – there is nothing wrong with any of those vibes, none whatsoever, but it’s just not what will work to make me feel spooky from the inside out.

Spooky isn’t even quite the right word. It’s not spooky that I want to feel, but witchy and ominous. I want the music to make me feel mysterious and powerful and like I can whip magic as quick as Hermione.

Last year, Zoe & I went to Salem and I created this insane playlist for the road trip… I went a little overboard with some of the music and it got chaotic and I lost the plot of the playlist tbh. This year, I dialed it all back just a little bit and became a bit more focused with a new Witchy Vibes playlist. Below are a few of the gems that made the list!

Uninvited by Alanis Morrissette

This track made both this year’s playlist and last years. Alanis went hard in this one, every time I hear it I instantly get chills…

Master Hunter by Laura Marling

Laura has several songs that could work for this playlist (and several of them are on there!) but this is the one that gets the notable mention because the edgy witchy vibes ARE PROMINENT!!!

Jesus for the Jugular by The Veils

The first time I ever heard this song was at House of Yes and this track backed an acrobatic intensely emotional performance… it was riveting. This song is harsh, passionate, and ominously magnificent.

If I Had A Heart by Fever Ray

It’s got chanting… it feels dark… this could be the anthem of any power hungry unsatisfied witch, without a doubt. I feel like I need to brew a potion while listening to this, or I should be hexing someone!

La Llorona by Angela Aguilar

In Hispanic American folklore, La Llorona is a legend about a woman who drowned her children and mourns their deaths for eternity, roaming Latin American areas as a ghost or apparition… google images of her portrayed in film and various series are #terrifying.

Coconut by Harry Nilsson

Okay, okay this song is random, I know. But also if you know, you know and you understand this song of course is on this list. Practical Magic is a movie you need to go watch RIGHT NOW and then maybe you’ll just understand…everything.

. . .

Okay guys, those are only a few songs that barely scratch the surface of my playlist! See the full shebang here and get into the witchy spirit me…

What is Home?

I’ve never really stayed in one house for a long time. It partially comes with the territory of coming from a divorced family, not only the loads of back and forth between Mom’s and Dad’s, but also when one parent moves, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other parent won’t move in the same time frame. By that I mean, separately parents may not move a lot, but when you combine it for the kids… it stacks up.

Looking to my mom, who coincidentally has moved a lot, with her I grew up in seven different houses, and with my dad I grew up in three different houses. Then when they were married, there is one house in my active memory. So we’re looking at eleven different houses I lived in from the time I was born until I graduated college. Speaking of college, you could even increase the places I’ve lived since I lived in the dorms throughout that time, and then my senior year a friend and I got an apartment off campus. I also did a semester in France which was a whole other type of living situation!

After reflecting on my adolescence, and now looking towards my adulthood – almost the minute I graduated college, I shipped up to NYC for an internship that turned permanent. Upon first moving to the city, I lived in a small sublet in Harlem and my room was literally the size of a twin size mattress. Two months later, my sublet was up and I moved to Chinatown for a little over a year and that was an experience! After that downtown escapade, I booked it back uptown to Spanish Harlem for a little over a year.

All sounds complicated and all over the place, right? Am I done yet? Am I getting to the whole purpose of this overshare yet?

Thanks to Miss Rona, things only get more complicated.

My lease was up in Spanish Harlem July 31st and the friend I planned to live with, Zoe, couldn’t move until October. So we were faced with two options:

  1. We find a place for August 1st and sublet until Zoe can move in.
  2. I go home – I’m working from home anyway, so why not spend some time at home, save some money, and move back to the city in the fall?

Two was the obvious option, but the not so obvious is the thing I had to ask myself – “Where is home?”

My nomadic mom is currently posted up in Pittsburgh, which isn’t too far from my uncle and papa along with many other family members. My dad is where he’s always been, in Kentucky, along with many family members. But then I have my nana and aunt and nearly all of my friends who are tucked away in Indiana.

So, again, where is home? Where do I go?

I essentially did what I always do, and that was split up my time and touch ground everywhere. Which definitely isn’t COVID Kosher, but I was essentially homeless, so sue me.

I did some time with all of my family and some friends – sprinkling my sass and two-cents along the way, lending an ear to those who needed it, and offering support when the situation called for it. It was nice to be “home” for a little while. But honestly, I couldn’t help but be hyper-focused on the term, “home“… what is it? Where is it? Do I have one, do I have many, or do I not have one at all?

My mom always says, “Home is where your mom is.”

But I don’t think home is that simple, or maybe it is.

I think home is a feeling. It’s something that comes natural, but it’s also something that can be manifested. For instance, both my grandparents houses always feel like home, the Catholic church I grew up in feels like home… but everywhere I’ve ever had my own room I’ve seamlessly created a notable “cozy-homey vibe” that gets riddled with compliments on how comfy it is.

It’s as if I’ve always understood that with a few adjustments, you can make anywhere feel like home. I have some things I always do, nearly as a reflex, whenever I settle in somewhere in order to make that place more comfortable – to make it mine.

1. Your bed is a sanctuary, treat it as such.

Make sure you have a bedspread that you like to look at, and honestly – the more pillows the better. Even if you only use one pillow to sleep – during the day have your bed coated in pillows. Those decorative sacks of fluff and feathers are so inviting, there’s no such thing as too much, I promise.

Once you like your bed – make it every single day. There was a time not too long ago where I didn’t make my bed everyday; I found I didn’t have time, what’s it matter, etc… I was full of excuses. But what was funny were the days that I didn’t make my bed in the mornings, I would almost instantly make it the minute I got home – because there’s nothing better than slipping into a freshly made bed.

Just respect yourself enough to make your bed in the mornings – respect the evening version of you who just spent a hard day at work and deserves a freshly made bed.

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2. You look at each wall more than you think, hang things that bring you joy and peace.

Think of every wall in your space as a mood board.

Fill each wall with pieces of art, photos, or shelves of knickknacks that evoke positive emotions. This is where you can put plants, real or fake, to encourage growth in your space and to feel grounded and connected with the earth. Fill your walls with whatever brings you peace and happiness.

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3. If it smells great, you’ll feel great.

I adore candles. I love them not only for the smell, but I enjoy even the simple flame. The sense of warmth I feel when I see the lit candle and then the scents that beginning coating the room, it brings so much instant peace. I love fall scents the most, like vanilla and hazelnut, but sometimes these scents don’t translate well in the summer. I found that my safe-ground is finding earthy candles that smell of amber and oud.

Go find your scent – be it floral, fruity, earthy, or fresh… find it and do what you gotta do to maintain that smell in your room. Be it candles, incense, oil diffusers, or wax warmers – just give your room a scent that you associate with comfort.

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I’ll be honest, sometimes doing all of the above isn’t enough. You can go the whole nine yards on your space and still feel like a fish in the wrong bowl. Like you’re a pretty fish in a decked out aquarium, but you kind of miss your old bowl for some reason.

AKA -> homesickness.

All I’ve gotta say to that is to think long and hard on what you’re homesick for, what’s missing. Would you be happier back where you were? Or do you find you’re actually missing specific moments and feelings expressed in the old space?

I find that most of the time, my homesickness is for a time and not a place.

Once I realized this, it clicked that going home won’t fix anything, it won’t fix my homesickness. The only type of “going back” that will erase my homesickness is “going back in time” but that’s not possible, obviously. This type of homesickness can really only be healed by some intense self-reflection, maybe even some therapy, in order to dig up what the real root of the problem is and to truly understand what you’re missing. In realizing this, in understanding what it is exactly that you’re homesick for, you can then move forward and adjust what you must in order to find that mental balance and manifest your “home vibe”.

Ultimately, it’s important to understand that you are deserving of feeling at home wherever you’re living.