Category: Life + Style

Not Your Mom’s Thanksgiving

By cwiesendanger on November 9th 2020

Everything about 2020 is different, and the holidays will be no exception. Gatherings will be smaller, you may be spending more time outside, and masks will be the hottest holiday accessory of the year. But we’re determined to keep things festive and fun, and why not take it as an opportunity to start some new Turkey Day traditions while you’re at it? Here are our tips for hosting a non-traditional Thanksgiving.

THE FOOD

Maybe this year, you’re celebrating with your roommates, or a few friends or family members in your “bubble.” Keep it low key and stick to an easy Thanksgiving menu, or use this opportunity to try out something totally new:

  • •There’s never been a better year to order takeout from your favorite neighborhood restaurant (hooray for supporting local). Use your fanciest dishes and make sure to leave a good tip!
  • •If you are in the mood to cook, let’s talk turkey – tbh, is it really anyone’s favorite part of the meal? (don’t @ us)…There are plenty of turkey alternatives that can be just as delicious and festive – try chicken, steak, lamb, lasagna, stuffed mushrooms, cauliflower steak, or hey, if you’re in the mood for hamburgers, go for it. Thanksgiving knows no bounds in 2020.
  • •It’s also a perfect year to test the waters with something totally new (hello, boozy cranberry sauce;trash can turkey or sriracha turkey;fried mashed potato balls;apple pie salsa;everything bagel stuffing). We’re calling it – This is the year of unique Thanksgiving dishes, so let your creativity fly.

THE SETTING

We love a big packed cozy dinner table as much as anyone else, but this year has other plans for us, and that’s OK. We’re all about the joy of switching it up, and a non-traditional Thanksgiving calls for a non-traditional setting:

  • •Pack the car and have a Thanksgiving campout. Does it get any cozier than sharing what you’re thankful for around a campfire and under the stars? We don’t think so. Campfire roasted turkey, here we come (or if you’re ok ditching the turkey, this camp kitchen pesto halibut recipe never fails). Keep the rest of the setup easy with our tried-and-true camp hacks.
  • •Host a driveway distanced BYO dinner. Supply the drinks and let everyone bring their own picnic. It’s a real win-win when everyone gets to eat exactly what they want.
  • •If you are set on keeping it traditional, the backyard is where it’s at. Twinkly lights and outdoor heating will set the mood, and if you live somewhere extra cold, make sure your dress code calls for warm, casual, comfortable, and soft (might we suggest the Flatlander fleece collection?). And if you’ve never dined in an igloo before, here’s your chance (yep). If it’s snowing and you’re in the mood to take things up a notch, here’s your guide to building one. Whatever route you take, al fresco is the name of the game when it comes to hosting Thanksgiving 2020.

THE PEOPLE

You may not get to spend the holidays this year with your whole usual crew, but this year we’re giving thanks for technology (and our pets).

  • •Host a virtual pre-dinner cocktail hour or set up a computer at the table so you and the family can all enjoy your meals virtually together. For more interaction, plan a virtual scavenger hunt, trivia night, or cookie decorating contest.
  • •Make a collaborative holiday playlist that the whole family can contribute to, near and far.
  • •Take it old school and write good old fashioned letters and cards to those you’re missing this year. Everyone loves snail mail – so send ‘em a note as to why you’re thankful for them and what you’re looking most forward to about being together IRL next year.

So while Thanksgiving dinner is looking a little different, we’re seeing it as an opportunity to get creative, switch up the dinner menu, and spend a little extra time being thankful, even if it’s from afar. And who knows – maybe some of these alternative Thanksgiving traditions will stick for years to come. Bon appétit!

Host Your Own (Socially Distant) Oktoberfest

By cwiesendanger on September 21st 2020

Ahh, fall. Leaves, pumpkin spice, your favorite flannels on repeat, and Oktoberfest. Since large gatherings are not 2020’s friend, you probably won’t be attending any big Oktoberfest celebrations this year. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grab a couple of family members or your roommates and host a safe and socially distant gathering to celebrate the season.

Location, location, location.

Park, backyard, front yard, you name it. Just make sure you have fresh air and plenty of space for distancing.

Start with the beer.

While Oktoberfest originated in 1810 as a celebration of marriage of the Crown price of Bavaria and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen (try saying that five times fast), the celebration progressed into an annual festival with large beer halls by the late 20th century, and it’s safe to say it’s been a beer-drinking shindig ever since. Luckily for you, around August, Oktoberfest-themed beers start popping up on grocery and liquor store shelves everywhere. The most 2020-friendly way to serve beer is by the bottle, in a big cooler for guests to grab on their own time. For an extra precaution, make it BYOO (opener).

You’ll want some bites with that.

You’re going to want a little substance to go with all that beer. Try these homemade pretzel twists on skewers. It’s a pandemic-friendly twist (see what we did there?) on a classic soft pretzel – ready for each guest to grab and go. Skewers work well for sausages too….And if you really want to go the extra mile, try individual cups of German Potato Salad (no judgment if you buy this premade either). And when we say individual cups, we certainly don’t mean plastic. Try mason jars or anything you have lying around your house – the good news is you’re keeping it small, so no need to stress on too many dishes. Just make sure you remember the hand sanitizer.

Dress the part.

We love a reason to dress up, and are also all about keeping it eco-friendly, so if you don’t have lederhosen or a dirndl lying around (what? You don’t?), here’s the easiest way to DIY it: Khaki shorts, a checkered shirt and suspenders for the guys; a ruffled or off the shoulder white blouse, high-waisted skirt, and an apron for the ladies. Don’t forget your mask.

Keep it small.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we all know that this is not the year for big parties. So keep it responsible, and save the festivities for your closest family, roommates, or quarantine pod. There are lots of pros to doing it this way: less cleanup, more time for good conversations, and more beer for you. And you can think of it as a practice run for when you do get to throw a big Oktoberfest party next time around. Prost!

9 Podcasts to Listen To

By dweb247 on September 14th 2020

Something that continues to bring us together – WFH be damned! – is swapping Netflix recs, must-read books, new album reviews, and of course, podcasts. Since September 30th is National Podcast Day, here’s our list of the best podcasts to listen to this fall… or you know, forever.

Song Exploder

Music lovers, rejoice! Song Exploder is a podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made. Produced and edited by host Hrishikesh Hirway, this podcast is a love letter to music. Each episode is a deep dive into the creative process that went into crafting a great song, straight from the artists themselves. Episode 150, Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way is a classic, but you really can’t go wrong.

The NYT Daily

20 minute episodes that dig into one topic that’s dominating the headlines. Produced by The New York Times and told by journalists and subject matter experts (and excellent host, Michael Barbaro whom we’d love to get a slice of pizza with). Knowledge is power, so stay in the know. New episodes Monday – Friday, ready by 6am EST.

Outside/In

Stuck inside or just yearning for wide open spaces, this podcast focuses on the natural word and how we use it. With solid reporting and long-form storytelling, host Sam Evans-Brown draws you in from the first words (he’s a former environmental reporter). You don’t have to be a whitewater kayaker, an obsessive composter, or a conservation biologist to love Outside/In.

You Must Remember This

Miss heading to the movies? Listen to this podcast about the first century of Hollywood filmmaking. It’s a fascinating take on the glamor, glitz, and grit that built the silver screen scene over the decades.

1619

This short podcast series is a must listen for all. This 2019 audio series from The New York Times was produced for the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. The 6-episode series, hosted Nikole Hannah-Jones, examines the long shadow of that first salve cargo that landed in Virginia in 1619 – and examines how historical oppression and systemic racism has affected the Black experience in America since.

Gastropod

If you love food, history, and science, you’ll love Gastropod. Recommended by Helena – our resident Podcast Queen – she loves Gastropod for its “cool food facts.” Ever wonder about the underbelly of the lobster industry? Or the real origins of pizza? Or what the most dangerous fruit in America is? (It’s the watermelon, FYI). Grab a snack and take a listen – “Dinner plate invasion” is Helena’s fave.

Code Switch

Named after the phenomenon of mixing languages and dialects depending on the context, the Code Switch podcast cranks out informative episodes about race, ethnicity, culture, and how they play out in our lives and communities. New episodes are updated weekly and hosted by Gene Demby and Shereen Marisol Maraji. It’s a great way to listen to various perspectives on current events.

Pre-Loved Podcast

We love anything about the circular economy. This podcast is a weekly interview about rad vintage style with guests you’ll want to go thrifting with. Hosted by Emily Stochl, episodes cover style, running a fashion business, sustainability, slow fashion, the stories behind incredible vintage pieces, and why second-hand is the best hand.

Bear Brook

We couldn’t write a podcast recommendation list without a binge-worthy true crime podcast. This one comes from New Hampshire Public Radio and it’s a decades-long mystery that follows the twists and turns of a serial killer. It’s a cold case that calls into question human nature and criminal justice system. Someone call Olivia Benson!

Girls’ Night in 2020

By dweb247 on September 14th 2020

From Black Lives Matter to COVID pandemic to hurricanes and heatwaves, 2020 has us rethinking everything – birthday parties, office culture, grocery shopping, book clubs – and the latest change up is Girls’ Night. September 22 is National Girls’ Night (who knew?), so here’s our take on girls’ night – 2020 style.

Virtual Book Club

Diversity of thought is part of what makes humans (and women!) such a unique species. And when it comes to books, there’s no shortage of different perspectivse. So bring together your book worms and pick books that purposefully offer a different perspective. Read books by women from other countries, or books by women with different upbringings and backgrounds. If books are too much of a commitment, round-table a recent article that you all read. You’ll be surprised – even in conversation with your closest friends – just how much you didn’t know.

Socially Distant Happy Hours

If you’re in town – BYOB, bundle up, and get back to the days of picnicking. Parks, beaches, backyards, bonfires, campsites… there’s no limit (other than the general 6 foot distance).

Recipe Exchange

Part of what makes us unique are the traditions we get passed down from generation to generation, so share that with your friends. Host a Zoom cooking night each month where someone else is a “host” – they’ll walk everyone through a recipe that takes 30 mins or less to prepare. Everyone is in their own kitchen, with their own ingredients following along. Now’s your chance to let your inner Samin Nosrat shine! (Bonus: when you’re at home, no need for a DD).

Yes, It’s Okay to Talk Politics

Dialogue is where progress happens. If you are passionate about a cause or a candidate, gather your girlfriends and give them a rundown on why this is important to you. Let them know succinctly (in 5 mins or less) why you are passionate about a particular cause, then give them the floor to ask questions and offer counter opinions. Pro-tip when it comes to talking about politics and policy: Let people know how the issue personally affects YOU or your community. Be realistic – you can’t be passionate about everything, so don’t come out hearts a ‘blazing for every issue and every candidate. Stick to the things you are truly passionate about, 1 or 2 issues max (schedule another Girl’s night if there are more). It will be easier for others to see your perspective if you can keep it focused, keep your cool, and be open to hearing others. Dialogue, FTW!

Phone Banking & Letter Writing

Let’s say you and your friends support the same candidate or cause; you can skip the discussion and go right to grassroots campaigning. Give your girls’ night an activism twist and organize a letter writing night or an afternoon of phone banking (yes, wine is a fine accompaniment to both). It might feel awkward at first (and definitely uncommon for a girls’ night) but helping a cause will make you feel like a million bucks.

Food or Toy Drive

With shorter days and the holidays just around the corner, it’s a perfect time to start planning a food or toy drive with your friends. Spend your next girls night talking about logistics and get a goal and a plan together for how you can pool your resources and make a positive impact on your community. Pro Tip: Have your friends reach out to their co-workers to multiply the impact!

Plan a Girl’s Trip for 2021

2020 was the year of canceled plans. So get a girls’ trip on the calendar for next year. It can be the trip of your dreams (sailing around Greece, anyone?), a 3-day backpacking trip in your local mountains, or just a staycation at your place (or whomever has a dishwasher). Either way, when it’s safe to hug and laugh and lounge and play in close proximity again, grab the chance and soak it all in.

How to Host an Outdoor Movie Night

By dweb247 on July 21st 2020

Light the citronella candles, pop the corn, and use the cooler as a footstool – it’s an old-fashioned outdoor movie night! And since staying in is the new going out, this is the perfect summer to whip up the backyard (or side yard or front porch or driveway) cinema that you’ve always dreamed of. Here’s our tips for how to host a (socially distant) outdoor movie night for any budget.

Step 1. Pick a spot

If you have a plain white wall that’s flat, you’re in business and skip to step #3. If not, find a spot where you can set some chairs up – you’ll want to be at least 8 feet away (depending on where your projector is). Next, consider if you are hanging a screen or if you are using a screen on a stand. That will determine if you need any hardware to make your screen.

Step 2. Make a screen

There are a ton of ways to make a screen depending on your budget, time, and desire to use power tools. But the one thing that all screens need – regardless of means or mode – is to be pulled taut. There are a few ways you can do this:

  • Get an old, white sheet or shower curtain and use some heavy-duty double side tape (a LOT of it) to pull and stick the edges of your fabric to the surface. This method is temporary and only works with lightweight fabric, but it’s just about as thrifty as they come!
  • If you’re using something more heavy duty like a white canvas or drop cloth, cut a small hole in the top left and right corners and hook onto some nails or S-hooks. To pull it taut, fold the bottom of the fabric in and sew a small pocket with open hole on either end. Run a wood dowel or curtain rod through the tube pocket to weigh down the screen.
  • If you’re up for a trip to the hardware store, you can build a 100” frame for under $50 and a few hours of DIY. You’ll need a few 1 x 4 plywood beams, a handful of nails, a staple gun, and white blackout cloth. Think of it as a giant painter’s canvas. Here’s a good YouTube tutorial we’ve used before.

Step 3. Hook up an A/V system

Like the screen set up, there are about a zillion ways that you can hook up an A/V system depending on your budget, desired lumens, and whether or not you NEED to watch Jurassic Park in surround sound. You can buy projectors from anywhere up to $5,000 or a $50 mini projector that hooks up to your cell phone.

Do your research and figure out which one is right for your budget and needs. If you’re just testing the waters, ask around and see if anyone has one you can borrow for the night. If you do buy one, we recommend shopping local. And even if it’s a big chain store, shopping at the local branch keeps jobs in your community and your carbon footprint lower!

Also, don’t forget about the sound! Some projectors have a built-in speaker, but we suggest plugging in an amp or a speaker to get the full effect! Who wants to listen to listen to American Graffiti out of a rinky-dink speaker? Not us.

Step 4. Pop the corn

Seriously, what’s the point of a movie night with no popcorn? Save the microwave stuff for the winter and pop the kernels over some high heat. Toss it with all the yums.

  • Plain old butter and salt
  • Sugar, salt, oil of choice (aka DIY Kettle Corn)
  • Brewer’s yeast and coconut oil
  • Olive oil, dried herbs and garlic salt

Step 5. Invite some friends

Or keep it just your family – up to you. Invite friends and neighbors (assuming you have 6 feet of space to spare between friends) and tell them to BYO blankets and chairs. Extra air fives if they add something to the cooler.

Step 6. Pick a Movie

The reason for the season. A few of our summer favorites…

The Goonies – The classic

Coming to America – For the grown-up movie night

Step into Liquid – When you’re dreaming of waves

Searching for Sugar Man – Good tunes, great story

Dirty Dancing – Gives “family vacation” a whole new meaning

Dazed and Confused – We get older, this movie stays the same age

Sister Act – Gospel music meets the mob. Make it a double feature with Sister Act II

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Don’t forget your heels