For no reason whatsoever I took myself to the Russian Tea Room. It wasn’t my birthday, I didn’t have a date, I wasn’t meeting friends. I just wanted to see what it was like. This was the middle of the night some day last week, probably prompted by an instagram photo. Idk. It was just impossible to resist, so I made a reservation for high tea. I mean, I like tea.
I got a text reminder about my reservation so I looked up the menu to prep and realized that while I like tea and sandwiches, I couldn’t imagine sitting there by myself pouring tea and eating sandwiches. So I had the business lunch, then proceeded to add a cocktail and tea. That’s my problem. Once I’m at a place, I’ll just get whatever I want because I hate to tell myself no. Also, I’ve never had a Moscow mule and I was really curious. Now I know. And I ate borscht that I hadn’t made myself.
In case you’re wondering, I wore a plain black skirt, V-neck Gap cotton tshirt, and august silk cardigan with Nike skate shoes (they look like vans, but since everyone has vans…) clean but not showing off. There’s me, just a plain Jane eating lunch in a restaurant as lushly beautiful as a boudoir. Btw, that chandelier is all red Christmas ornaments and it is stunning.
I still procrastinate and sometimes I give up on things but I’m trying to push past that into a state of immediacy. Before the troubles I would say soon, or I’ll get to it, or maybe next week. Now I’m trying to grab at things and effect change in my life by doing instead of waiting. I had lunch at the Russian Tea Room because…why not?
I did not eat fast food for all of April. No McDonalds breakfast, no dropping in at Burger King or Wendy’s or Starbucks. I had to cook at home. I did eat out a few times, Walgreens sushi, a moment at Mexicue and a farro filled burrito from Dos Toros. But nothing from the usual suspects. I’ve lost six, possibly seven, pounds (the scale flickers) but that’s not the reason. I felt depressed and sluggish, and I was spending money reflexively on food that was not elevating me. I can’t keep spending money on food that made me feel like a bottom feeder.
So here’s a photo dump of food that I ate this month. From salads to burritos to a lot of salmon and back to salad. I backslid, and I ate cookies.
I forgot to blog yesterday and I was going to leave it until next week, but then I would be letting myself down by being inconsistent. So here’s an easy post. A bunch of food. I’ve been cooking up a storm, trying new things, trying to be healthy. I’m also keeping to a once a week shopping schedule that helps me budget my food dollar more effectively. I’m not COVID rich anymore so I have to be careful.
I’ve been trying to lose weight (and succeeding! I’m ten pounds lighter now and still working on it) so salads are big go to. They’re also a good midnight snack if have some pre-chopped veggies and salad in the fridge. If I fall off and eat something crazy, I run back to salad.
I basically go to the grocery store looking for adventure. Today I’m marinating lamb chops, last week I was cooking artichokes. I saw lemongrass at the store so I made a Thai influenced chicken stew. I finally perfected my chicken liver technique. I make amazing fried rice, and I found out that gnocchi tossed with asparagus and Parmesan is delicious. Burnt the corn? Toss it with more corn and serve it anyway. You’d be surprised.
Last week I made two loaves of bread from an old cookbook. Then I made farmers cheese because I was scared of the milk going sour. I’m wild now. I might do anything. Pickles and sausage are no longer off limits.
I went out to eat once I started back working. Not all the time, I just need a treat now and then. I dropped by Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken for a hot honey tender sandwich and Milk for cereal milk soft serve. I had to have a grilled chicken bowl from Dig Inn, stir fry from Sakura and I couldn’t miss out on the spicy chicken nugs from McD’s. I didn’t know they were a limited item and got stuck with regular nugs when I went to re-up. I got them anyway, tossed them in chili garlic sauce and seasoning and had them for dinner. I can’t be stopped.
New York is slowly opening up and I’ve been working kind of regularly for the past month. Not full time hours, far from that, but keeping my toe in the water while I try and build up my online businesses. Sales picked up while people were locked in the house with an extra $600 a week from unemployment (I mean, who wasn’t shopping?) but that extra benefit is gone and we’re all back on a budget again. Possibly with nicer clothing and a red wine habit to kick, but back on a budget So let’s talk about that right now.
Buy staples and stock up for winter: I’m sure you have toilet paper, but now that people have relaxed a bit, stock up on flour, yeast, dried or canned milk, beans, dried salted fish (it can be delicious), canned goods (I love canned potatoes) dried fruit, etc. If you know how and have room , make some preserves and pickles, and cook ahead and freeze it. You may not need it… but then again, you just might.
Save: hopefully you put away some money ever week while it was pouring in. I get that you may have kids and bills, but a piece should have been put away every week. If you didn’t save then, well try to scrape your pennies together now because winter is coming and all your grasshopper friends will have is an empty fridge and a lot of liquor bottles to share (if they even have a place to stay anymore).
Cook at home: you’re not rich anymore and there are too many cooking websites for you to keep pretending that you’re too good to even try to learn how to feed yourself. There are even meal kits (but really, you should just make a list of foods you like and then google recipes on how to prepare them).
Wear the clothes you have: yesterday I was out in Manhattan for work and suddenly realized how nice everyone looked. Months of online shopping got people looking right for the summer. If you don’t have a ton of money coming in then you need to stop shopping. Cut it out. Learn to sew up holes (sashiko mending looks cool and makes garments last longer), turn stuff inside out or upside down. Go thrifting, a lot of places are open and practically giving their inventory away.
Double up: if you and your friends are realizing that you can’t keep paying individual rents and mortgages then pick a place and move in together. Create a food budget and chore schedule, decide on which bills to split. Go home to your parents and help out. Don’t be ashamed, just get on with it.
Start a business: tbh, you should have been started a side hustle but if you just hung out and ate lobster (I did, too, so no judgement and I also developed a crab leg addiction to kick) then try to make something out of the discarded shells. Maybe you can recycle the wine and liquor bottles you have around the house. Sell some of the clothes you can’t fit anymore. Give lessons! I paid $150 for some guy to come help me learn to ride a bike and I’m waiting for swimming classes to open up. I took a zoom dance class (never again, I felt like she was looking around my apartment and it freaked me out). If you have knowledge, charge other people to learn it from you. I invested money in crafting supplies and spend hours making soap, paper and cement soap dishes. This is in addition to selling new, used, vintage and upcycled items on various retail platforms. Make a list of things that you think you’d be happy doing, google about how to do those things and then do them. Try. Then try again. Then try some more.
It’s been a crazy year, and since we’re about to have another election, the crazy is only going to get ratcheted up (at least on twitter where it’s a trash fire free for all) just remember that no matter who wins you still have bills to pay, kids to raise, food to forage for. Regardless of what your political preference (I am and have always been a republican) you are going to be on the hook for credit card debt and utilitities no matter how much you protested and marched and instagrammed for justice. Wake up right now. Winter is coming and you need to get it together. Stop bullshitting yourself.
When all of this started back in late February/early March, I was on a diet. I had actually lost six pounds by the time quarantine and social distancing started for real. I wasn’t eating as much and always had somewhere to be or some errand to run, and sitting down to meals wasn’t a priority.
Now all I do is sit down to meals.
I’m not even going to lie and say I just eat healthy or that dieting is still going on. I try to be mindful, but some days I break down and order a burger. Last week I couldn’t take any more and ordered a pizza. I also went to McDonald’s after a post office run. I order ice cream online… a habit that could get very expensive if I don’t watch it. Today I went to the store with a grocery list, exceeded my budget, then came home and ordered snacks from Target.
It’s… I can’t even condemn myself. I am in the house on my own, my freelance jobs have been scrubbed for April and May and while I try to stay positive I have moments where eating something just makes me feel better. Even though my new nickname for myself is Fatniss Everdeen. How can I complain about getting fat when people are dropping dead outside.
Literally outside, though. I live around the corner from a hospital. I don’t even walk past it, I go in a whole other direction just in case.
I was going to do a cooking thing, like a recipe with steps and stuff, but… I’m pretty sure you guys know you’re food situation better than I do and there are cooking tutorials all over the internet. I’m just gonna leave these food pics and if they inspire you to do something, that’s cool.
I hope things are going well for you and that you’re taking care of yourself. I hope you’re having some good moments and making the best out of this whole thing. I don’t know you, but I’m rooting for you.
Going on 30 days of self quarantine and social distancing and the deliveries I get in the mail are a lifeline to a world where a stroll through the aisles of Target or The Container Store was something to take for granted. I know that I could get on the train and go right now, but…why take chances. Right? So for the past four weeks I’ve been shopping to fill in the holes and entertain myself. And support the economy and small business, too.
I was up late one night and ordered two things: a jar of this delicious smelling coppertone glow body highlighter, $25 from Agrestal Beauty and a wig from Hairbird. The highlighter was exactly what I ordered and the wig… It dosn’t look like what I ordered. I’m not gonna lie, I would not have ordered this style. But it was cheap and I had fun wearing it on my birthday. If you like living dangerously you can try ordering from them.
Herbs and Jewelry:
Staying inside seems ideal at first and then becomes a low key freakout that can blossom into a breakdown if you’re not careful. So herbal teas and cbd can be lifesavers. I ordered four sample packets from August Uncommon, and a raspberry leaf and chasteberry tisane from Herb n Sol that promotes women’s health. I made my second order from Ruby’s Happy Farm for hemp pre-rolls. I’m still stressed, but knowing that I can smoke or sip a hot cup of delicious tea makes me feel like I have control.
These delectable chocolate macaroons floated up on my insta tl and I was instantly purchasing. Michelle’s Maccs combines velvety dark,milk or light chocolate with a perfect coconut filling that has a crisp snap and crunch in every bite. You can order individual flavors, or build a cusomized dozen, $28. I devoured the entire dozen within hours, even though I promised myself that I’d try to make them last. The dark chocolate covered salted caramel maccs, $10 for four, are INSANE with red wine. This is the only chocolate snack I crave right now.
It took 20 days, but eventually I gave in to my finer instincts and ordered wine from local liquorteria D.Vino. This is my first box of wine, which I found out actually contains four bottles. I am not sure why I never invested in one of these. The funny thing about this place is that they are very close to a train station and bus stop that I was using to get to and from work. They are across the street from a supermarket and up the block from a McDonald’s (big macs are AMAZING with pinot noir, I swear to you) so every so often I would buy a bottle of wine from them before hopping on the bus home.
I found out about Jeni’s ice cream from a product roundup in Bon Apetit magazine, but it took a quarantine to remind me to try them. It was the middle of the night, I wanted ice cream and their website is a clean, well lit place for treats. You have to buy at least four pints for a delivery, which I thought was going to last for awhile. I gave away one pint, but that was before I tasted anything and I will never do that again.
I just ordered more and it is all for me. I can’t wait to see that big orange box. It’s pricey at $12 a pint, but my sanity and comfort is worth it. The salty caramel will make you cry a little. The brown butter almond brittle is worth doing extra workouts for. If you’re scared to gain weight then just go to the website and look at the pictures.
Hope you’re holding up! What’s getting you through quarantine? Do you have a standing order from a local restaurant or are you hunkered down with a cabinet stuffed with cookies or hot chocolate? Support small and local business! Don’t forget the cardio!
Not so much a party as a solitary day doing nothing but caring for myself. On my birthday. With no outside demands to be met or people to bother me. This should be a regular occurrence in my life, but in reality I sporadically remember that I have to do a mask or something, when I should be scheduling this time as a permanent standing appointment in self care. I’d be a better person if I did.
Woke up swaddled in the silky sheets that I bought from Bed, Bath and Beyond (clearance), had a shot of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice flavored with ginger and honey, then went out to do my 5 laps. I got to wear my new mask from Lee Rickie, $15. I saw these on Fashion Bomb Daily maybe two weeks ago? Had to wait for them to make more and then it came the day before my birthday. I’m guessing that masks are going to be pretty common after this quarantine, might as well get a designer one and help a small business stay afloat.
As soon as I got back from my 1 mile run (baby steps…I hate jogging), I ran a bath and started my day of beautaaaayyyy. I love sheet masks and beauty treatments in pouches. You can snatch them up in handfuls and open one up any time you need a little pampering. The theme for today was Holler and Glow, one of the reasons I miss browsing the aisles at Target. I can’t say enough about these incredibly softening purrrfect hand (and foot) masks, $3.99.
I didn’t have anywhere to be and the water was nice and hot, so I just hung out reading a huge book about Cecil Beaton and doing nothing. The Zoya nail polish in Edyta, $10, was a blogger perk. I just love this color against my skin. And I finally got my cuticles under control, which is a massive improvement.
So once I got out of the tub, I messed with all the makeup that I’ve had sitting in the bathroom since I went on multiple Sephora binges last summer. From foundation to false eyelashes, with a hit of grey contact lenses. I actually used up all my lipsticks and have been wearing lip balm lately, so I had to improvise a lip color. I used a Sephora lip pencil, $6, added a layer of Levres rose petal lip gloss from Goldenbrownskin, $5 or 2 for $6, and then finished with a light sweep of Pat McGrath LUST gloss in Bronze Temptation, $28. Topped the whole thing off with a new curly afro wig and tiara.
After all that I was too exhausted to try and dress up. Stuck with my comfy sundress and a comfy hooded Cyrus sweater that I bought at Nordstrom this winter. That sweater cost me like $50 and I’ve worn it a thousand times since I got it in December. Fashion math, it’s basically free.
Now that I was all made up, it was time for the big birthday meal, all found in the freezer. I had a frozen mushroom and asparagus risotto kit, seasoned tilapia filet, and fresh spinach that I froze a few weeks ago. I broiled the tilapia with butter on low until it was cooked through and crispy, then squeezed a lemon wedge over it. Ate it with a big glass of lemon water . Once I had eaten the last bit it was time for my present.
Yes. I waited until after dinner. It was the big excitement of the day so I wanted to savor it.
I’m just starting to rebuild my thing with my family, and I don’t have close friends or a boyfriend, so I wasn’t expecting any presents from anyone. I bought myself something pretty, wrapped it with homemade wrapping paper and ribbon and let it sit for a week until the amazing day finally arrived. I had seen ads for Metier Essentials on Instagram, and the Amour necklace, $62, really spoke to me.
I used to be very talkative and fun, but now I’m guarded and I really don’t express much emotion. I guess I’m trying to remind myself to be a little softer and more open. If you’re wondering about the wrapping, it’s just brown paper and I stamped it all over with a rubber heart stamp then put a few glitter heart stickers on it.
Even though I gave it to myself, love is love. I don’t have a clue what the future holds or if I’ll even have a life that’s loud with friendships and family. But I have a heart now. So there’s hope.
Did you celebrate a birthday this week? How did it feel? Were you sad or just happy to be alive and have a place to stay quarantined? Were you scared to try and imagine the future?
It has been a wild week, to be sure. I think we all know what I mean. EVERYTHING is different.
And maybe that needed to happen.
So the corona virus has rolled across the world and in addition to the possibility of sickness and death, you have the choice of going broke if things don’t get back to normal. I started a Roth IRA 7 years ago and it’s only in the last few years that I could make regular contributions. I’m watching that progress melt away second by second, which is both frightening and exciting. I never had money to lose before, so I’m kind of winning. I also read a book called Depression Era Economics by Paul Krugman and it’s keeping me calm to know that if you just wait, the market will regenerate itself. If people are selling and selling, someone is sitting around waiting for the prices to drop low enough and then it will be buy, buy, buy.
If things work out ok. Which they will.
Here in New York it’s like this:
Normally, you can’t shoot a train platform without a few people messing up your photo, but not so much now. It is not as much of a problem getting a seat on the train, and nobody pushes right up next to you. Part of that is that people are biking or uber pooling, and the other part is that businesses are slowly shutting down, so there’s not as much reason to go out. I just got told that the rest of my gigs for March are cancelled since department store shopping is considered nonessential. You can get restaurant delivery or shop online, though.
One thing that fell by the wayside was my styling class at Fashion Institute of Technology. I had signed up for a visual merchandising class where I would learn to build sets and style photoshoots (yeah, I was a photographer and did branch out into styling but that was ages ago). I really wanted to brush up my skills, work on updating my portfolio, maybe style on the side, and definitely try to get more visual merchandising jobs. But corona happened.
It threw the school into a tizzy about a month in. My class was very hands on, and all about group projects and suddenly they were like, all classes are online. I thought about it and decided not to continue because worrying about my economic survival is not good for my creative process. Guess what? Can’t get a refund. You either take the online class or die. So the photo above and one lecture just cost me $600.
At least I can write it off on my taxes.
I just got a Target Red Card, so just in time I had a large amount of money for emergency food shopping. I also shopped at Jacks and Dollar Tree. I got yogurt, fresh berries and fruit and as late as Thursday night Target was still stocked up. The Key Food near my place was completely out of toilet paper, but I got a few rolls at Dollar Tree. I usually stock up, because a grownup should know when they’re almost out, but I was down to my last five rolls and I started reading about how people were stockpiling. I also have napkins and paper towels, but still.
When I finally got to settle in and self quarantine, I roasted some pork belly chunks (super cheap) and had them with rice (put the rest in the fridge for another meal) and a spoonful of black beans from the massive can I bought. I live alone, so my food will last for awhile, but I’m already telling myself not to get crazy and overeat. The first uncertain days had me binge eating, but now, since I don’t know how long this will last, I’m sticking to four meals and rationed healthy snacking. I found some empty plastic bottles that I’d been saving for no reason, so I filled those with water and they’re in the freezer.
I had a gig at Home Depot merchandising for Carhartt, and I bought myself a money plant and a new succulent baby. It’s wild, but I’ve been collecting crystals and buying candles and oils and sage, and setting intentions for the last few months so now my apartment is a nicer place to be. I have a salt lamp going and stocked upon the little bulbs that make it glow. I got the cutest little clock. It’s been months since I could just sit in here and relax, and now I have things in here that are conducive to relaxation. I can see that progress that I’ve made and it’s calming me down. I feel really grateful that I have a place to live at a time like this.
I’m also going to have time to thoroughly clean this place and really get into the feng shui method that I started with and then ran out of energy to complete. I got Feng Shui for Dummies to start with, and now I can look at creating a floor plan and budget for remedies.
And I’ve been talking to my family. I started a group chat with my brothers. We don’t talk all day, but having this conversation on my phone to look at and engage with is amazing after years of estrangement. Talking to my mom is really precious now. All it took was the threat of human extinction to make me see that.
Last but not least, the pins I designed came in and I’m a little excited! Things got backed up because of the virus, so I don’t have them listed anywhere yet and I need to stay in the house so I can’t really be worried about selling them. BUT! It’s exciting to have made something from scratch like this. I really love this image, though. I think I want to make more things out of it, including tshirts. My online stores are closed right now while I figure out what I want to do, but this image will be a big thing in the coming months.
How are you holding up? Are you remembering to wash your hands and not touch your face? Are you making sure to stay in contact with people? Have you made plans for the what ifs of the situation? Did you get some toilet paper?
I got fired from my retail job at the end of May (just before finally coming off of probation and becoming a union member, so… it was either a major loss or just dodging a bullet). Luckily I had taken that Visual Merchandising class at F.I.T, so I decided to just start looking for those types of jobs instead of immediately settling for another no win position. I would go on Indeed every day, and send out resumes. The first thing I got was an internship at a fashion showroom.
Good place to start.
The first week was super sweaty and I kept forgetting that where the bathroom was (practically right in front of me ) and kept going to the bathroom at Port Authority at lunch. No, I can’t explain why I’m like this. My duties included updating excel sheets of sales leads, separating excel sheets by sales person and territory, and cold calling/emailing businesses in the territories to set up road visits or showroom appointments. I picked up lunches, steamed clothing and dropped off packages. I merchandised racks (from lightest to darkest. Try this in your closet, it looks so organized). I learned how to do social media cross referential searches for new clients. I found out about Joor, a site that helps you make linesheets for merchandise.
While I was technically working for free, interns got a $15 daily lunch budget, and I finally gave Sweetgreen a try. And Dig Inn. And my job was near legendary discount store Jack’s where they are selling Epic provisions for dirt cheap. And when I got home I started just making salads, like this easy steak salad (sear the steak while putting your greens and veggies in a cute bowl, make a vinaigrette, assemble).
Once I had to work with another intern to clear out a storage closet. We sorted through boxes of leftover merch from past clients, sorted through mannequin parts, re-merchandised racks of backstocked garments, organized shelves and closets, and took a field trip to the Goodwill in Tribeca to donate clothing and the suitcases that we brought them there in. This is how I ended up going to Milk Bar. Those were the two sweatiest, most miserable days of my summer… but there were benefits from it; my boss gave us a ton of free stuff.
I made sure to dress up a little, and worked in my own upcycled items into my wardrobe. LOVE this Old Navy jersey jumpsuit with attached belt ($45). It’s a lifesaver on mornings when you spent too much time adjusting your wig and makeup.
The internship was supposed to last three months, but I stayed a month.I learned a lot and I also put on 5 pounds from sitting so much. I ended up getting a job, and also a visual merchandising job offer. I would have stayed longer, but they got a little Devil Wears Prada on me and I was getting annoyed. I would still recommend doing an internship, because it helps prepare you for the career you want and it helps give you fresh experience and new references if you’re trying to change career titles.
I used to work at Whole Foods (cashier, pto, 401K, doubletime on holidays if you were wondering). When I left I swore I would never shop there again. I was lying to myself.
I was desperate for hen of the woods mushrooms today. I tried a few stores, but found nothing. I gave in and went to the Whole 365 on Flatbush and found this Amazon Seared Salmon meal kit. There are no mushrooms, but I’ve been thinking about fennel lately, and I’m always up for salmon. I figured that $20 was about what I’d spend on ingredients, and I do know how to cook, so it was a win-win. I was on my way to the register with my first meal kit.
I actually opened this on the bus because I had to see if these people really put a lemon in the box. For some reason this caused me to laugh uncontrollably. I was also a little surprised by all the plastic, especially for the teeny tiny diced onion bits. They were in a really big bag for the amount of onion included. The salmon filets were glorious. Generous size, and obviously fresh. Once I’d finished picking over how they had packaged everything, I was ready to cook. You need a saucepan and a good skillet. They actually tell you what you need on the box? But if you have nothing else, you will really need those two pots to do your business in.
Hm. I could have put that differently.
The instructions are pretty complete. Just follow them. I was skeptical about this nonsense… but it really works.
You start with the risotto. I have never used clam juice for anything, but this tasted incredible. I didn’t have olive oil on hand (too busy, my cupboards are bare) but I had some butter in the freezer and used that. The end result is creamy and flavorful. I’d be willing to eat this alone, or maybe with a little ham thrown in. It took the exact amount of time stated in the recipe.
Start the salmon when they tell you to. Follow directions. You will be handsomely rewarded. I heated that skillet up hot before cooking in it. Then I stole a little piece to eat because it looked and smelled delicious. I’ve been leery of cooking with fennel, but it was fine. Now I’d be ok with buying a whole bulb to experiment with.
You can actually get the meal in the package photo with minimal stress. You do actually get two meals, so one person can cook dinner and have a full meal for the freezer or to take to work. I decided to celebrate my cooking triumph with a bottle of red (yes, you saw this on my wine list post). I have some cooking skills, but I wouldn’t have done this on my own. It would have seemed like too much work. For about $19, I got a great meal, food to take to work, and a fun blog post.
Worth the money.
Have you ever tried a meal kit? Were you skeptical or did you just dive right in? Did you ever think of making a meal kit for one person? Could be just what you need!