10 Things I Do to Practice Mindfulness

10 Things I Do to Practice Mindfulness

Written by our guest author and fellow blogger, Ava Burford. One of the most genuine, caring, and downright hilarious people I’ve ever met, Ava recently started a blog that aims to bring a dose of positivity to its readers and inspire them during these troubling and uncertain times.

Please check out her blog entitled Guide to Illumination and follow her Instagram account @guidetoillumination to keep updated with new articles that she posts! We also wrote an article for her blog called 5 Things That Make Us Feel Like Boss Ass Bitches, so if you feel like you need a little pick-me-up in your life, head on over to her website to see what we do on the daily to feel like boss ass bitches.

I think we can all agree that each of our lives is not going in the direction that we had planned for it eight months ago. With the instability and uncertainty that lies ahead of us, it is incredibly important to practice mindfulness whenever we can.

What is mindfulness, you may ask? It’s a type of meditation where you solely focus on your present feelings and emotions without judgement. According to Mayo Clinic, practicing mindfulness has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure. All are vital components of our health that we need to look after. Now you may be asking how you can practice mindfulness– and don’t you worry. Below I have included ten different ways:

Walking- Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to walk out our stresses. Having the ability to be physically active and in a different environment gives us a chance to reset and come back in tune with our feelings.

Self Acceptance- I get it; this is a hard one. It is so easy to pick on ourselves and tear ourselves down. We need to learn to accept that as humans, we are not perfect and give ourselves a break now and then. Every day won’t be our best day creatively, strength-wise, or in any other facet, but we must learn to accept who we are and be damn proud of it. 

Internal Conversations– This follows along the lines of self-acceptance with not tearing ourselves down. The sooner we learn how to talk to ourselves like we talk to our loved ones, the sooner we establish and strengthen our internal support system. At the end of the day, you are talking to yourself more than anyone else so why produce negative energy when you can build yourself up? You are your biggest motivator. 

Journaling- Physically writing out your stresses gives your body the ability to release a portion of it into a tangible form. If you can do this for even five or fifteen minutes a day, it will greatly help you manage your stress and give you further practice in assessing your present emotions. 

Coloring- When I am extremely anxious, coloring books have immensely helped me. Being able to see yourself complete a project is so rewarding and it’s a healthy way to release built-up tension. Even if you just have five minutes, I find that this activity helps mentally give me a break for the allotted time I am doing it. 

Baking- For me, baking goes in tandem with coloring with the fact that they both are projects that you can complete within an hour and see the final product. Both leave you feeling accomplished. However, if I am having a particularly bad day and need a little pick-me-up, I gravitate towards baking because you get a tasty treat once you’re done. 

Focusing on breathing- If you find yourself swamped with work, sometimes altering your breathing is the only action you can take that aligns within your schedule. Spending just a few moments to take deep breaths will rejuvenate your body and leave you feeling more relaxed and prepared to take on the task at hand. It is critical to have steady breathing and one of the quickest, easiest ways to practice this meditation method. 

Talk it out- Having a conversation with your loved ones is another great way to release the tension you may be holding. If you have someone in your life that you know will support you unconditionally and without judgement, this is a wonderful way to assess your emotions. 

High-intensity training– I absolutely love doing high-intensity training when I am in a hard period of my life. Before working out, you may not feel like doing an intense training circuit, but I promise it will help alleviate what you’re holding onto internally. Being able to excessively sweat while having 100% of my attention on the workout before me, really helps put my mind at ease. In addition, with high-intensity workouts, you are constantly doing something different for short bursts of time. If you have trouble staying focused for long periods, this type of workout may really help you. 

Goal Setting for the day, week, or month- I truly do this activity every day. I can not compute how good it feels to cross off something from my list and see what else I have left. For me, I find this activity to be an incredible way to stay organized and centered. Goal setting keeps me on track and in line with what I want to accomplish within a set time frame, and I find by making lists, I always (or most of the time) complete everything on them within the time frame I gave myself. 

All of these methods to be more mindful are just suggestions! Try some out and find what works best for you. At the end of the day, this is your life. It is time to take the control back from outside worries and start living your life to the fullest potential.

We all have stressful durations that may seem like they will never end. Being mindful is an incredible way to rise within those periods and not let the world attempt to overwhelm you.

Fall 2020 Fashion Trends You Need in Your Wardrobe

Fall 2020 Fashion Trends You Need in Your Wardrobe

Written by my friend and fashion expert, Zoë-Maud Gagnon-Alic, who would love nothing more in life than to create educational PowerPoints on the many fashion dos and don’ts to be shared with the masses. Or, in this case, this blog’s two dedicated readers. Shoutout to my mom for being one of them.

Since the outdoors are pretty much closed, I have an unlimited amount of time to stalk style blogs and shop online. It’s a terrible hobby since I am also a Broke Bitch, but it is what it is (at least I have a passion?). I’ve done my best to put my research to good use in this summary of Fall 2020 fashion trends.   

I’ll start on a positive note with the trends that I love: 

Favorite color trend – FUCHSIA

Fuchsia is one of those colors that just makes you happy. It’s a richer color than neon pink and can easily be integrated into any day or night outfit.  This color trend is really cool because there’s so much to play around with!  Fuchsia pairs well with any neutral shade, but virtually any color as well.  However, if bright colors aren’t your thing, you can use this pink as an accent piece. You can also commit to it for an impactful look. Below are a few different ways you can style this trend.

Use it as a pop of color with neutral pieces: 

@kimberlyskinny

Go for a tonal pink LEWK: 

@sofie.fevang

Full send it in a bright color-blocked ‘fit:

@sofie.fevang

Favorite recurring trend – PUFFY SLEEVES

Puffy sleeves make you look like THAT bitch, period. Whether your style is girly or edgier, you can easily pull it off. Brands like For Love and Lemons have been integrating this trend in their pieces for a while now, but there are so many other options. Pair a puffy-sleeve t-shirt with jeans, and *boom* you just upgraded your basic jeans-and-t-shirt outfit– kind of like how a pokémon evolves (@nat’s obsession w Pokémon). Alternatively, pair a puffy-sleeve blouse with a mini skirt for a perfect put-together dinner look!  

You can try the trend in different materials, like this denim example:

@weworewhat, http://www.weworewhat.com

Or you can try a not-so-basic floral dress (yes, fall florals are a thing):

@annawinck

And finally, see what I mean about the upgraded t-shirt?

http://www.farfetch.com

Honorable Mention – SUITING

I won’t post photos or elaborate too much on this trend because I think it is prominent enough, but seriously get yourself a suit that goes well with other basic pieces in your wardrobe. There are different kinds of suiting for any style, and you can wear the blazer and trousers either together or separately. For example, oversized suiting is a great way to integrate more “formal” pieces into your everyday style by pairing it with a t-shirt or bra top and sneakers. Unpopular opinion: I’d rather wear trousers than jeans, they’re way more comfortable.

This trend is here to stay, so think about the silhouettes that suit you the best and see if there’s a blazer or trousers that capture your attention!   

Favorite theme-trend – PUNK

Fashion trends have always been informed by music, art and other cultural movements. Trends also have a way of recurring over time. The punk-inspired resurgence that we are starting to see not only relates visually to its historical roots but also contextually, as a style born from youth culture during a time of sociopolitical unrest. Tea. Some essential items from this style that you can mix and match with other elements include leather garments, plaid fabrics, and the corset.  

Quick note about leather: please buy vegan leather alternatives or vintage/thrifted pieces! We’re trying to save the planet here! 

This first look is a black leather jacket paired with straight leg trousers. Seriously, I’m nutting. 

@izzydilg

Or you can stand out in an easy to wear plaid day dress in the ever-trendy midi length (Side note: this black and green plaid make me hate the color combo a little less, thoughts?):

@ganni, http://www.ganni.com

PRO TIP: when buying plaid pieces, look at the seams and make sure the pattern matches up correctly. It will help you stay put together and looking EXPENSIVE! It’s also possible that nobody but me notices this, but that’s ok, we all have quirks.  

Here, Bella Hadid is wearing a reissued Vivienne Westwood corset. The corset is going to be big this Fall in many different styles and colors, but I decided to put it in the punk-inspired trends category. Westwood played a huge role in the punk revolution in fashion in the late 1970s. Her corset was an iconic piece, and her influence in British fashion changed the history of fashion forever.   

@vogue, http://www.vogue.com

Honorable Mention – COOL CUTOUTS 

I wanted to keep this list concise, but I also wanted to quickly mention the cool cutouts because they are probably the easiest Fall 2020 trend to pull off. Cutouts add visual interest to any plain outfit, and effortlessly take your look from simple to minimalist chic.  

If you’re a hoe for a turtleneck like me, try this cut-out open-back top: 

@melissa_thiebaut

See what I mean? This top is easy to wear, but also confuses you a bit:

@weworewhat, http://www.weworewhat.com

An example of tasteful cutouts in a trendy one-shoulder dress:

@becandbridge, https://www.becandbridge.com/

Now comes the fun part– trends to get rid of. Excuse me while I let my inner bitch out.  

LOGO MANIA 

The time to needlessly flex your designer logos has passed. It’s gone. It’s not coming back. If 2020 has given us anything, it has shown us that there are more significant issues in this world than proving to passers-by that you are wealthy. Take that small dick energy and leave it out of your Fall 2020 wardrobe. All jokes aside, the pandemic has had a huge impact on the luxury fashion industry. The culture of wearing logos just to create a certain image in the minds of others is no longer as accepted in the mainstream. That said, luxury fashion is not outdated. Instead of investing your money in a heavily branded piece, consider purchasing a timeless, finely crafted item at the same price point. 

I also want to emphasize that logo mania was a toxic practice that made people feel pressured to conform to a certain idea of style that is not sustainable or reasonable. There are so many interesting and high-quality garments that are WAY smarter buys than a $450 Gucci T-shirt.   

NEON

Biiiiiiiiiitchhhhh neon yellow and green is the bane of my existence. Satan handcrafted these colors in Jojo Siwa’s dreams– don’t @ me. However, neon pink and orange are fine, I guess. The thing with neon yellow and green is that they are fun colors, but they are a challenging trend to pull off.

A direct message to my white counterparts: we need to be careful about colors that wash us out. Yellow and yellow-heavy green can be overpowering on our complexions. If you’re tan, you are better equipped to pull off these colors, but you still need to consider your skin’s undertones before purchasing any attention-grabbing color. I think the neon trend is an excellent example to emphasize that when buying clothes, don’t work against your features or complexion to adopt a particular style that may be popular at the time. In truth, there are always so many trends to pull from, so explore those that enhance your natural beauty!

Glamping in a Poor Man’s Muskoka

Glamping in a Poor Man’s Muskoka

Or so we thought.

Mira and I are two of the least outdoors-oriented people you will ever meet.

From grades seven to twelve, our school forced us to drive four hours up north to Haliburton, Ontario, for a two-day camping trip, where this lack of wilderness knowledge was demonstrated. We would have mandatory bonding sessions on these trips and would have to participate in an endless stream of ice-breaker activities. According to Mira, this was an anxiety-inducing experience that had no benefit whatsoever.

Some of our most harrowing moments on these trips include having a moderate allergic reaction from getting so many mosquito bites, getting scars from falling off of mountain bikes, and sitting on a hornet’s nest– proceeding to get stung a total of seven times. Yes, these were all on the same trip.

Clearly, there is some greater force at work here that doesn’t want us anywhere near nature.

So, when we decided that we wanted to experience the outdoors again, we chose to do it on our terms. With dreams of a waterfront lodge nestled in Canada’s cottage country, we went on Airbnb and found what we thought would be the perfect weekend getaway spot.

Upon arriving at our Airbnb, our dreams were instantly crushed when we realized our cottage was in the middle of a forest– not near any body of water. Before we could set foot in the wilderness to attempt to find our cottage, we came face to face with a bright yellow bear warning sign. This sign made it clear that we were even more out of our element than we thought.

The fuel of our nightmares

Now paranoid that bears would attack us, our one kilometre-long walk to our cottage went by quickly. Or as quickly as possible, considering that I decided to bring a full-blown suitcase containing all of my necessities for the trip– including a bottle of Dom Pérignon and platform heels. Anyone with even a slight background in camping would know that wheels don’t roll well in the forest– resulting in me dragging my suitcase the entire way.

Halfway through our walk, we stumbled upon a very rustic washroom set-up, to say the least, with an outdoor sink and a toilet that reminded Mira of her third grade trip to the Pioneer Village. It also smelled like someone hadn’t cleaned the outhouse since Mira’s third grade trip to the Pioneer Village.

This discovery prompted us to either squat in the woods to pee or if we had time, drive to Tim Hortons and do our business there for the entire trip.

With four mosquito bites each, we finally arrived at our cottage, or as we called it, our “cabin in the woods.” Quickly unpacking, we changed into the least practical outfits for a wilderness retreat and drove to a waterfront restaurant named Dock of the Bay where for an hour or so, we were at peace, eating amazing food and drinking by the lake.

Us, smiling through the pain of a bathroom-free and mosquito filled trip

It became clear that the restaurant’s luxurious and mosquito-free environment was more like what we were expecting. After finishing dinner, we were sad to say goodbye to our lakefront dreams. However, this was quickly overshadowed by our fear of being attacked by bears on the walk back to our cabin. Evidently, we made it back alive.

Though we had expected minimal utilities to come with our Airbnb, we were surprised to find out that basic lighting was not one of them. Turning on the lights truly made no difference to the brightness of the room. So with nothing better to do, we popped our champagne and called it a night, eager to use the Tim Horton’s bathroom in the morning.

When we woke up, we were finally able to appreciate the beauty of the nature that surrounded us for a fleeting moment. As we sat on the porch, we admired the tall trees and greenery that made up the forest and began to enjoy our trip.

With our newly developed wilderness mindsets, we thought we would take a shot at starting a fire. This was clearly set-up to be a fool-proof task because we had a lighter, matches, fire starter, and a fire starter log at our disposal. That being said, neither of us was able to get it started and we both were unable to flick the lighter. As you can tell, we’re not stoners.

Eating our uncooked s’mores, we realized a storm was brewing and ran inside. With the thunderstorm causing a power outage, we had to get ready for bed in absolute darkness, without the assistance of the three pea-sized lights that lit up the room. Setting our alarms extra early with the hopes of getting out of there as soon as possible, we went to bed.

In the morning, dragging our luggage back a kilometre to the car, we accumulated the last of our many mosquito bites. With everything loaded in the trunk, we were finally greeted by the cold breeze of the car’s air conditioning– one of the trip’s highlights.

Advertised as a zen retreat, we truly left more emotionally drained than when we arrived and were happy to not have to worry about when we were going to pee next.

While we did leave with a greater appreciation for nature, this trip reinforced the fact that if we were stranded together in the wilderness, we simply wouldn’t be able to make it out alive– nothing new there. However, our greatest takeaway is the fact that Deep Woods Off bug spray is worthy of a Nobel prize. Seriously, that stuff was our saving grace this entire trip.

Mira and I will be sure to learn from these mistakes we made in anticipation of our next outdoor adventure and hope that you too, enjoyed reading about our mess of a trip.

Is there a clear moral to this story? Probably not. But I think writing about our experience is really just a roundabout way of us saying that if you have a cottage in Muskoka, don’t be selfish. Feel free to invite us. I promise we’ll be a good time.

Our Obsessions: Disposable Cameras

Our Obsessions: Disposable Cameras

Because like every other basic girl I think I’m ~quirky~ when I post disposable photos on Instagram.

Disclaimer: I can’t take credit for any of these photos because my insanely talented friend Qi Di Zheng took all of these (on the off chance that anybody actually reads these, check out her insta @qidizheng)

It’s no secret that disposable photos have come back into trend. Within the past two years, I’ve seen every VSCO girl switch from the C1 filter (don’t lie I know you used this at one point or another) to filters that give a vintage/ disposable look to them. Lucky for you, I interviewed the queen of the disposable, Qi Di Zheng, on everything under the sun related to disposable cameras.

What was the first disposable camera that you started using?

The first disposable I ever used was made by Fuji– a classic. I got a two-pack from Amazon the week before Gov Ball in 2017. I didn’t finish it until the very end of senior year, and I never got it developed. It’s still sitting in my room collecting dust. I believe the other one from the two pack was used for my freshman year at college and it really made me fall in love with vintage film.

What is the difference between a film camera and a disposable camera?

A disposable camera is essentially a film camera. A film camera is any camera that requires films rather than an SD cord, like most modern digital cameras. A disposable is a single-use film camera.

What made you want to switch to the film camera?

I switched from disposable cameras to a film camera because it was more cost efficient to invest in a single camera and constantly buy film than to constantly buy single use cameras. Also, disposables aren’t great for the environment.

Do you have any advice to ensure that your film/disposable photos don’t come out overexposed/ underexposed?

I personally think it’s always better to have it overexposed as opposed to underexposed. I usually set my camera to a standard 4.0 aperture and a 1/250 shutter speed since most of the pictures I take on an old fashion film camera are usually in the day time with adequate lighting. I like to carry around a more digitized film camera at night because it is more portable and there’s a flash built in. I personally love taking pictures with flash– it really adds to the “old-timey” look.

What do you use as inspiration for your photos?

Inspiration wise, I think I developed a certain taste in photos from my pre- teen years as an avid Tumblr user. I’ve noticed that I have very specific preferences in aesthetics and subject matter. I also follow film accounts on Instagram and I occasionally go on VSCO– whenever I remember that I have the app– to check out some cool pictures. I also think people forget– me included– that VSCO was originally used as a place to share professional photography. I also get inspiration from my friends. I really love taking pictures of them because I see these pictures as a time capsule that I can’t wait to look back on.

Do you have any advice for those looking to get into taking more film photos?

I think any advice I would give is to start off with disposables, it is less complicated and very easy to use. To this day, some of my favorite pictures are taken on disposables. I feel like the best film pictures are the ones that aren’t as posed and taken very nonchalantly.

Pro Tip: If you don’t want to spend money on disposable cameras and getting the photos developed, check out David Dobrik’s app David’s Disposable for a free alternative.

We Manifested Our Way Back Into America

We Manifested Our Way Back Into America

Conspiracy theory: Our makeshift vision boards caused the US government to change its mind, not universities pursuing lawsuits.

Growing up watching The Secret on repeat, the power of manifestation was undoubtedly ingrained into our heads. Our mothers would continuously emphasize the importance of goal setting and visualizing what you want in order to get it. (Shoutout Abhi for making me sit at the dining room table before the first day of school every year to manifest what I wanted for that year. Yes, I also thought that it was a load of bull).

Over the past five years, manifesting has been used by everyone from celebrities to business moguls to everyday people like us. So when the US government and SEVP modified temporary exemptions for non-immigrant students taking online courses for the fall 2020 semester (Translation: if we try to go back to the US for the fall semester, we’ll be deported), we were distressed, to say the least. In an attempt to be able to come back, Natalie even picked up a 2-credit in-person university choir class with the philosophy that people have gone through worse things to be able to go to America. You can take the girl out of the choir, but you can’t take the choir out of the girl, I guess.

Using our mothers’ philosophies, we decided that the only way we could get back into America this fall would be to make vision boards. Completely illogical conclusion, but we did it anyway. Purchasing magazines at our local Superstore, we cut out every image that reminded us of America. We then glued them onto glittery pink boards, creating the most patriotic collage known to man.

Mira’s vision board

Natalie’s vision board

Days later, at our wilderness retreat, we were pleased to find out that the US government had redacted this legislation. Therefore, as of right now, we’ll  be able to go back to the US in the fall. Unfortunately, you St. Catharines natives will now have to wait until Christmas to see us again.

However, the real question is: was it our shoddy vision boards that lead to this sudden change? We may never know, but we recommend that you try out this technique for yourself at home! In the meantime, keep an eye out for our next vision boarding session when we will manifest the end of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unpopular Opinion: Clifton Hill Is My Personal Hell

Unpopular Opinion: Clifton Hill Is My Personal Hell

Written by one of the most passionate people on this subject, our friend, Tofa Oloketuyi, who trembles in fear at the mere mention of the phrase “Clifton Hill.”

Like any other Southern Ontario native, I visit the Niagara region a couple of times a year to see my friends. As we drive down the same stretch of road for an hour, we always ask, “What should we do next?”. If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably suggest visiting the Falls.

I am not one to have strong negative views about things or places favoured by most, but for a natural wonder, Niagara Falls blows. The waterfall itself is beautiful and all, but my vendetta is against Clifton Hill, located adjacent to the waterfall. Clifton Hill is a strip similar to that of Las Vegas but is perfectly catered to 10-year-olds. Imagine a swarm of neon-lit street signs housing the cheesiest attractions, including mini-golf, wax museums, and outdated haunted houses. I can’t think of anything more terrifying.

There is something so irritating about walking down Clifton Hill that I’m not sure I can adequately convey how it feels with words alone. However, I do have many questions. The first being: why? Whose idea was it to create a corny strip in the heart of the Niagara gorge, and why does it work? They clearly knew what they were doing because, for some reason, it is always packed. Even in the middle of a global pandemic, people are risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones to walk down that street. I will never understand this. Pandemic or not, I have consistently shut down any plan to hang around that godforsaken place.

I understand the limited options for entertainment in Niagara, but if you are not accompanying children aged 4-12, why are you there? Additionally, I will always secretly judge couples walking down Clifton Hill hand in hand. I will admit to being a little stuck up, but I could not think of a more unromantic getaway.

If you’re thinking about visiting the Niagara Region with your significant other, I would recommend Niagara On the Lake. Much like the Falls, it gets old after a while, but at least there aren’t screaming children surrounding you.

Please enjoy the following picture we photoshopped of Tofa having a blast in Niagara Falls.

The Essentials For Every Girls Weekend

The Essentials For Every Girls Weekend

Yes, I did in fact go to a ski resort in the middle of July.

This past weekend, I packed up the five outfits that aren’t stuck in my dorm room at school (definitely not mad about it) and drove up north to Collingwood with four of my friends from high school. Before I start, if you are not from my hometown you’re probably wondering where on earth Collingwood is, and to be quite honest, I genuinely have no idea either. Still, I always hear people saying they are heading up north, so for this blog post, I have decided to also sound like a pretentious prick and say that I went “up north for the weekend.” In other words, if Collingwood is not up north please don’t come for me. I have no geographical awareness for any place that is past Toronto and am clearly just trying to flex on my peers.

Now would also be an excellent time to share the crucial information that Collingwood is in fact, a ski resort. Why did I pay money to go to a ski resort in the middle of the summer? Good question. But honestly, I’ll do anything to get me out of Niagara for the weekend.

I have only ever been to Collingwood once before on a family ski trip when I was younger and the only thing that I remember about it was the Beaver Tails (if you don’t know what a Beaver Tail is you are clearly not Canadian, so ignore this part). However, heading here in the middle of July, I honestly did not know what to expect from what is often referred to as “a Winter Wonderland” on Trip Advisor. Here are some tips and tricks to make every “girls weekend” a success no matter what gets thrown at you or where you are going.

  1. Make Jungle Juice

In other words, get drunk. For those of you who don’t know what Jungle Juice is, it’s basically just large quantities of hard alcohol mixed with fruit juice. There is no exact recipe for Jungle Juice, which is part of the fun of making it! Some of my favorite things to add to it include pink lemonade Svedka (yes, I only enjoy insanely flavored types of hard alcohol), Frozen Palm Bay, Lime White Claw, and a ton of Fruitopia concentrate. I promise you, this stuff goes down easier than water.

Pro tip: add slices of fruit, and gummies for extra sweetness

2. Have a “themed” dinner night

We decided that our theme for Saturday night’s dinner would be An Evening in Mexico, and you can bet that we went all out. We started in the kitchen, making chicken tacos and nachos. I recommend choosing something easy to prepare like this because you don’t want to spend your whole vacation cooking. We paired this with frozen margs (essentially Jose Cuervo’s Margarita Tequila, Minute Made Frozen Limeade, and ice blended.) Just make sure that when you’re ready to mix everything in the blender, the lid is on (can’t say that we were lucky enough to remember this.) Finally, enjoy! We played some authentic music (by authentic I am referring to the fact that I played Señorita by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello on repeat) and got dressed up.

3. Go with people that you enjoy spending time with

While this is probably the most obvious thing, I cannot stress how important this is. If you don’t enjoy the people that you are going with, you are essentially setting yourself and your trip up for failure. Save the drama and keep your guest list to your friends that you know you can have a good time with.

Picking Cherries in 40º Heat

Picking Cherries in 40º Heat

Truly a first-world problem.

This past Thursday afternoon, my mom and I decided to go cherry picking at 20 Valley Harvest Farms (https://20valleyharvest.com/) to get out of the house, and avoid paying ridiculous grocery store prices for cherries. The latter is a popular topic of discussion in my household.

Upon learning that they had just opened up their farm to the public the day before, we got up as early as possible to ensure there were lots of cherries left to pick. It just so happened that we decided to go on the hottest day of the year.

While profusely sweating as I tried to fill up our seven-litre basket, I realized that I have no agricultural skills whatsoever. I struggled to pick the stems off of the tree branches, resulting in many stemless cherries in our basket. So not only did we end up with a ridiculously large amount of cherries, but I was humbled throughout this experience, which is always great. Finally, after around twenty minutes of picking and slowly roasting in the sun, we filled up our basket.

This experience wasn’t my first time picking fruit, however. Last September in California, I went apple picking at one of the most insanely overpriced farms I’ve ever seen. Seriously, I think I paid $30 USD for a bag of apples. Not even going to try and look that up what that’s worth in CAD. However, fruit picking is such a fun activity and is an excellent option if you want to get out of the house during quarantine. Just make sure you research different farms ahead of time- especially during these times because there may be a specific protocol you have to follow, or they might only accept cash payment.

If fresh fruit isn’t your thing, one of the selling points of fruit picking is that it makes for some top tier Instagram content. The scenery is gorgeous, and people are so spread out that you can take amazing photos without strangers watching and silently judging you— definitely a bonus.

There are so many different types of fruit you can pick on your own in practically any season. For the Niagara region specifically, take a look at the graphic below, and you can begin planning your fruit-picking adventure!

Songs You Forgot Existed

Songs You Forgot Existed

I’ll say it louder for the people in the back: Listening to Kiss Me Thru the Phone by Soulja Boy doesn’t make you edgy. Literally everyone and their mother knows that song.

I know what you’re thinking. Did I make a brand new Spotify account for the sole purpose of creating a playlist to upload to this blog? Yes, I did. For a good reason.

I made my personal Spotify account when I had a minor obsession with the band 5 Seconds of Summer. I happened to be staying in the same city as the band members and thought that if I created a cool and edgy Spotify username and changed my Instagram handle to match it, they would notice me and I would get to meet them. Clearly, this never happened nor would it ever happen to anyone. Nonetheless, in an attempt to spare what little dignity I have, I created a new Spotify account for this blog to save me from eternal embarrassment from my old usernames.

After creating this new account, I decided to create a playlist of throwbacks. This playlist is filled with songs that are all bangers in their own way- some that are more sombre and others that will definitely hype you up. These aren’t your typical throwbacks, however. Whether from the 90s or 2010, each of these songs indefinitely slaps and is certainly under-appreciated in society today.

Before you listen, I’ll highlight some of the most meaningful throwbacks to me and some of the memories that go along with them.

Whatever You Like- T.I.

This song is the ultimate throwback. Coincidentally, it was also my most played song last year in 2019, with a whopping total of 92 plays. While this alarmed me at first, I now understand why I listened to it so much. I don’t think I can ever get sick of it. Truly. I think this warrants an intervention?

With You- Chris Brown

As I was moving out of my dorm after finishing my first year of university, I listened to the same six songs on repeat for days- With You and five other Akon songs. Not sure why this was such a phase, but it was. This song just reminds me of packing boxes and being one of the last two people left in my dorm. Honestly, this song really gets you in your feels.

I Don’t Mind- Usher ft. Juicy J

After seeing the Hustlers movie last year, I realized that I had been sleeping on Usher for so long. This man has given us banger after banger for decades. At one point, I literally hated this song but it goes hard and has a great message. Secure the bag in whatever way you can.

Mrs. Right- Mindless Behavior

I can’t be the only one who remembers seeing this probably a thousand times on the Family Channel (Disney Channel for you Americans). Not only does this song slap, but watching the music video back, I can see that they literally all dance so well. I’m impressed. One Direction WHO?

Eenie Meenie- Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston

In a time before Apple Music, back when each song on iTunes cost $1.29, my nine-year-old self decided to ball-out and spend my parent’s hard-earned money on this Justin Bieber classic. Let me say, there are no regrets there. This song screams 2010 pop with its simple melody sung by Justin Bieber’s high-pitched voice, and the music video is almost as good as the song, as well. The message is clear and relatable even to audiences today- sometimes shawty really do be an eenie meenie miney mo lover.

Gives You Hell- The All-American Rejects

Not sure how I became familiar with this song, but all I can remember is my childhood best friend and I screaming this at the top of our lungs at the ripe age of ten. Not even in the backyard. In my front yard. We would dress up and blast this song in the front yard of my house where my neighbours and all our peers could see us. It’s a damn good song though.

My Best Friend’s Girl- Diego Gomes

If you’re not familiar with the Canadian reality TV show The Next Star, you missed out on some quality television. Basically, a bunch of Canadian kids sing and compete to become the next music icon, so to speak. The top six contestants get makeovers, work with professionals to write and record their own songs, and create music videos. This song by the winner of season three of the show, Diego (a Justin Bieber knock-off), has a questionable message but is one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. I recommend you listen to the entire season three album because Insane (Thru with U) by Mimoza goes kind of hard, as well.

DIY “Guess Who?” featuring Everyone we went to High-School with: A Drinking Game

DIY “Guess Who?” featuring Everyone we went to High-School with: A Drinking Game

Because there’s literally nothing better to do quarantine than to relive your so-called glory days.

All the materials you’ll need

As we approach our second anniversary of graduating high-school, we can’t help but reflect on how different our lives are now. While we definitely would not want to go back, it can be fun to discuss our many shared memories. Normal people would reflect on their high-school experience by watching their grad video or looking at old photos. Instead, we decided to spend the afternoon printing out tiny pictures of our classmates and gluing them onto a DIY cardboard version of a childhood game.

Personalized “Guess-Who?” games are flooding the internet right now. While most people are using their photos to replace the actual photos on the game, neither of us has this game, nor do we want to invest in it. So, we decided to make a cheap tacky version that has no structural integrity whatsoever- super on-brand for us. We also wanted to share this process with you so you can recreate your version at home.

The actual game- just a heads up, our version looks like a kindergarten craft project in comparison

Materials we used:

  • A clothing gift box, or any two sheets of cardboard you might have
  • 30 blank flashcards
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • A pen
  • Pictures of 30 of the people you went to high school with (not creepy at all)

To start, you’re going to want to find pictures of roughly thirty of your high school peers. With these pictures, you will need to create a document with one large version of the image to put on a card and two small versions to put on the actual game. After you print these sheets out, cut out all of the pictures.

Next, cut your gift box in half and reinforce the sides using glue.

For the smaller pictures, you’re going to use on the boards, cut your flashcards into four different strips. Bend each strip in half and glue each person’s photo onto a separate strip. Glue the base of each of these strips onto the cardboard to create two game boards- one for each player.

Finally, to make the larger cards, cut your flashcards into thirds and glue on each large picture. Make sure you write the person’s name as well just in case the picture isn’t enough to identify them. It’s been a couple of years. People forget things.

The instructions are pretty self-explanatory- look at the pictures below, and we’re sure you’ll figure it out.

The big cards

Our DIY cheapskate version of the game

After tediously assembling your two game boards, you can start to play. If you don’t know the rules, here’s a PDF of the actual “Guess Who?” instructions. But if you need to look at these, you were genuinely robbed of your childhood: https://winning-moves.com/images/guesswho%20rules.pdf

However, playing this won’t be too nostalgic, because the most exciting part of our version is the types of questions you can ask. The whole point of our version is to not use basic questions like “Does this person have glasses?” or “Is this person a girl?” like you would in a real “Guess Who?” game. Essentially, the more controversial the question, the better.

Our game was literally made with a Mexx Kids giftbox, you should’ve seen it coming.

Here’s a few examples of questions you could ask:

  • Did you ever speak to this person in high school?
  • Has this person ever blocked you on any social media platform?
  • Would you say “Hi” to this person if you saw them today?
  • Did this person unfollow you on Instagram after graduation?
  • Did you ever have beef with this person?
  • Do you still have active beef with this person?

These are pretty general, but as you narrow down who your opponent has, feel free to get exponentially more specific.

Finally, the last set of rules arguably concern the most important part of the game: drinking.

  • If your opponent says “No” to any of your questions, you have to drink
  • If your opponent says “Yes” to any of your questions, they have to drink
  • If you guess the person’s name incorrectly, you have to take 3 drinks
  • The player that loses has to finish their drink

Was this a huge waste of time? Maybe. But at least it was fun. We guarantee if you create this game, make a quick stop at the LCBO, and gather up some of your high-school friends, you’re set for a very interesting evening. You’re welcome in advance.