Truffle hot sauce, Masterclasses, Shiseido for men… this blog post really has it all! This week my friends are giving you the low-down on all of the things they are loving right now, which includes some intriguing recommendations to say the least. If you have been following along, you will definitely consider purchasing some Supergoop! products by now or investing in Hulu or Netflix subscription to watch all of the latest movies and shows my friends are loving. Today, we have three friends, who I met during my study abroad program, giving up their latest finds. They could not be more different, yet more the same in so many ways. Take it away guys and gal!
James: Apples, oranges, blueberries or nuts because they’re healthy!
Ola: Truff Hot Sauce – technically not a snack but it’s a condiment that I’ve been putting on everything from eggs to veggies and I would highly recommend if you want to spice up your life.
Jeremie:Greek yogurt topped with seeds, oats, and fruit is the best snack I’ve found to satisfy and sugar cravings.
James: Shiseido face wash– really makes my face feel clean. My aunt sent it to me in a care package when in college and I’ve been using it since.
Ola: Supergoop Glowscreen – I recently got this sunscreen because I’ve heard so many great things about the brand and founder. It’s moisturizing and makes the skin so radiant.
James: PIMCO t-shirt, it’s from a friend and it’s soft and versatile. My friends and I give each other t-shirts from where we work and one of my best friends works at PIMCO. The shirt is blue and very soft, it’s also large so I can lounge in it.
Ola: Soludos sneakers – I got a pair of these embroidered sneakers last summer and they are so cute and unique and super comfortable too!
Jeremie: I’ve been wearing smart trousers from H&M lately. They’re comfortable in spring weather and easy to dress up or down, depending on your shoes and top.
Show or Movie
James: Movie is Limitless with Bradley Cooper. I like movies that involve smart people, I also like the idea of being able to unlock the rest of your brain.
Ola: Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist – I feel like I might be the only person who watches this but it’s a show where the main character hears her friends’ and family members’ innermost feelings and thoughts through song. As a former musical theater nerd, I really enjoy the performances and random singing and dancing.
Jeremie: I’ve been loving MasterClasses, especially Sara Blakely’s and Chris Voss’s. Anytime you hear someone speak about one specific craft that he/she mastered, it’s a great mix of entertainment and education.
Hobby or Activity
James: Anything with friends: poker, drinking, the beach, you name it!
Yes, it’s our first all-male edition of friend favorites, where I asked my guy friends what items they are using, snacks they are eating, what they are wearing, and so much more. Whether it be my girl friends or my guy friends, I feel like there is always something to learn. Who knew that I needed some kale chips and a Dyson hair dryer stat!? One of the many reasons I love asking my friends for recommendations is because they all have such diverse perspectives and viewpoints. I walk away learning so much and feeling motivated to give something new a try! Here are the latest friend recommendations- get your wallets ready!
Ivan:Crispy kale chips 12/10, perfect balance between healthy, and crispy that you get from wanting to munch on something.
It’s only the second part of the series and I feel as though there is so much for me to try that my friends have recommended! I love taking recommendations for so many reasons, the main one being that it bonds you closer to your friends. When you try something that someone else is passionate about, you are able to connect with them on that experience. A funny show they mention? The best way to spark some laughs in referencing the punchline during a conversation. A yummy dessert recommendation? An insight into your friend’s palette. A soft sweater they always talk about? The perfect birthday gift when the time comes. And when the time comes for these three friends of mine, I know just what to get them!
Farah: Chocolate chewy bar. They are light, delicious and reminds me of the great memories I had durning my middle school and high school days in Tunis when we would go to the commecery to buy them.
Thomas: Pink Lady Apple. I have a bad addiction to sugar and find it sometimes satisfies my craving for something sweet and sugary.
Pam: Baked hot Cheetos. They are sooo good and addicting. I also think they taste better than the regular hot Cheetos.
Pam: La Roche-posay Lipikar Lotion AP+. I was using a toner that irritated my skin. It caused a really bad reaction and ended up drying out my skin MAJORLY. This has single handedly saved my skin. Also using it all over my body for soft and hydrated skin.
Favorite Clothing Item
Farah: AG black skinny jeans legging. By far, one of the most comfortable pair of jeans that I have ever purchased. A little pricey, but the quality is worth it & I still have my first pair of AG jeans since I bought it 5 years ago!
Thomas: My current favorite clothing item has to be my HENRE swim shorts. Launching this summer, along with swim briefs I based the HENRE collection on the inspirational mid-century modern architecture of Palm Springs.
Farah: Definitely Grey’s Anatomy. And not because I’m a doctor! I first started watching this show in early 2000’s since my days in Tunis & it’s just been an ongoing thing for me, one of those shows that feels like home & Meredith is like part of the family.
Thomas: Schitts Creek is my absolute go to. The show is so beautifully written and produced. I feel like I’ve learned and grown a lot as a person from watching the show. There is a line in the show where the character Alexis Rose says to her brother “nobody’s thinking about you as much as you’re thinking about you” and the saying really hit a nerve and changed the way I viewed life in general.
Pam: Grace and Frankie. They are such a hilarious duo. Love their different personalities and how they balance each other. This is really a show that is hard to stop once you start.
Hobby or Activity
Farah: Driving around in my car with my friends, the windows down with my favorite playlist on!
Thomas: I love a long bike ride with my headphones in listening to Dua Lipa and my snapping photos of my surroundings on my camera.
Pam: Long walks. Not a big fan of cardio but I can go on hours long walks. Something about and evening stroll to close out your day or a mid-day walk to clear your mind. Also, I feel like this is all I can do these days…
Is this another friend finds series I see!? Yes, you would be correct! This time, instead of asking my friends about their favorite beauty products, we are here to talk about all kinds of favorites- snacks, tv shows, clothing, you name it! I always feel like I can count on my friends for their recommendations when it comes to almost anything. And, if there ever was a time to get recommendations it would be now! With some extra time on our hands due to the pandemic, it’s a great time to explore and try new things. The first round of friend recommendations are coming from Divya, Upasana, and Celeste, who are here to bring you some excellent suggestions on food, beauty, clothing, media, and the hobbies that they are enjoying. Take it away my ladies!
Upasana: Caramel Popcorn! It’s one of those snacks that satisfy a craving but it’s also SO sweet that I end up eating less of it than I’d eat if I ate something salty!
Celeste:Smartfood popcorn! This snack takes me back to elementary school packed lunches and reminds me of my childhood.
Divya:The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. I know it’s supposed to be a sleeping mask, but the hydration and feel has made it an all purpose, all day lip balm/lip moisturizer that I love.
Upasana:Cloud paint by Glossier. Working from home I don’t wear much makeup anymore, but something that makes me feel instantly bright and pretty in the morning is just dabbing on some cream blush on my cheeks and a little as a lip tint too! I use the haze and storm colors!
Divya: Definitely my oversized white shirt. It’s so hot in Nigeria that sometimes I just want to comfortable and I can dress the shirt up/down which makes it perfect for every occasion without having to try too hard.
Upasana: I’m absolutely obsessed with these comfy lounge like pants that are also great to wear out for a brunch with friends or a day at a cafe just relaxing and reading!
Celeste: Midi silk skirts. These skirts make me feel so elegant and the length is comfortable for any occasion.
Show or Movie
Divya: I recently binge watched The Spy which was so incredibly good. Definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Middle Eastern Politics or honestly a must watch just for Sacha Baron Cohen.
Upasana: I’d have to say this is the hardest question ever! I finished watch HBO’s Succession and I was absolutely hooked throughout! It’s masterful and nuanced cinematography with characters that aren’t deeply likeable, but are VERY real and that’s a testament to how phenomenal the actors are! Another show that’s my all time favorite that I always go back to, and currently have been watching is Gilmore Girls! It’s just a feel good, heartwarming show but has some very valuable life lessons and important messages!
Celeste:Daria. This show is so funny and relatable to being a teenager.
Hobby or Activity
Divya: Tennis! I recently started learning the sport and it’s so fun. For me it’s a great way to be outside doing something active while learning a new skill.
Upasana: I’m really getting into candle making and I’d been watching my mom excel at making really creative, deliciously scented candles, so I thought I’d give it a try and it’s a really calming, centering activity with a great finished product that I can use day to day!
Celeste: Sewing and quilting. I love getting inspiration and coming up with ideas. It is an amazing feeling using my hands to make those ideas come to life.
Just three years ago, Max would not have called himself an athlete. Having avoided playing on sports teams and exercising in gyms throughout his life, one would never expect Max to have transformed into an athlete, and not just an athlete, a pretty advanced one, you might say.
It was some time during 2018 that Max became interested in riding a Peloton bike that his family had purchased to be able to engage in low-impact exercise. Max had the idea of incorporating more exercise into his daily routine for health reasons and thought that cycling could be his way of achieving a level of fitness. Max also views cycling as one of those exercises that you can pick up so easily because all you need is a bike to get started and your athletic abilities don’t have to be advanced to begin.
Starting out, Max felt challenged by the cycling classes’ level of difficulty.
“When you first begin cycling you are not super encouraged because you feel slow, your output is low, but the harder you push yourself and the longer you stay at it, the easier it gets.”
Max admits that it took him about 6 months of regularly riding his Peloton in order to feel that he was really making progress and transitioning into harder classes. What helped Max continue to stay motivated throughout the process was self motivation, in achieving something that he set out to do for himself.
“No one is going to care if you get on the bike and ride or don’t. If you don’t have the internal desire to believe in yourself and having the conviction that it’s something that you want to do, it’s probably not right for you.”
When Max first started, he was taking 45-minute classes at a regular level with instructor Robin Arzon, who became his favorite instructor. As time progressed, however, Max began experimenting in taking 20-minute classes, 1-hour classes, “Climb” classes, and even HIIT rides.
Max loves his Peloton, not only for how well the bike works and the spin classes the company’s platform provides, but also because of all the other classes the monthly subscription provides. Peloton has its standard spin classes, but also instructions for floor workouts, outdoor running and walking guidance, and even strength classes. It’s like paying for personal training or a gym membership that you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home.
Max credits the up beat music,- Peloton even has an exclusive collab with Beyonce– the Peloton community, and the acute instruction to motivating him to always getting back on the bike. Max mentions that, when you are riding a Peloton, you don’t feel like you are exercising alone, with someone instructing you and encouraging you along the way. Peloton also makes it easy to compete against yourself and others with the leaderboard, which provides a way to see your continued progress. Along with the leaderboard, Max feels encouraged by the challenges that Peloton presents, such as achieving daily exercise for one month. Max would suggest participating in one of these challenges to help motivate yourself and avoid discouragement.
What cemented Max’s newfound athleticism was a challenge that he accepted that was sponsored by Babson College’s Alumni Network for the month of January of 2021. The challenge was to have the highest combined output, total distance, or consecutive days biked. Max won all three categories, cycling a total of 704.82 miles. Max wanted to challenge himself during COVID, setting a goal that he could commit to for the month. Some of the challenges in competing include the amount of time taken to ride daily, Max often riding two to three times a day, in addition to the added mental fatigue that riding daily entails, where no matter what mindset you are in, you have to get on the bike and ride. Despite the challenges, Max mentions that it felt nice to see all of his hard work pay off, knowing that mentally he could achieve something that he hadn’t done before.
On transitioning from being home schooled to attending Amherst University and more.
Are you in college? Going to college? Taking a gap year? Whatever it may be, you can never receive too much advice on how to maximize your time in college! When thinking about the college experience, I knew that I had to recruit my good friend Meredith King to give her take on all things higher education: what classes to take, picking a major, taking a gap year, being a student athlete- this lady does it all! College is all about exploring, trying new things, and embarking on new adventures. Arming you with all the info you need to make your journey a successful one, here is Meredith!
Meredith! Tell us a little bit about you!
Hi everyone! I’m a senior at Amherst College, double majoring in Music and French as well as doing prerequisites to go into accelerated nursing programs post-grad. I’m currently writing a historical musicology thesis looking at the transformation of French prostitute novels into operatic forms. I’m on the Amherst swim team, but I also spend a lot of time singing both in a Christian acapella group called Terras Irradient and in the Amherst College Chorus Society. One of my favorite things to do is spend whole afternoons or evenings sitting in the dining hall with friends from the Amherst Christian Fellowship playing word games or talking about life.
What should students consider when thinking about taking a gap year?
I think it’s only worth taking a gap year if you have a concrete reason or goal for the year. A gap year can be a chance to do something exciting and different that otherwise you wouldn’t have the time to pursue, but unless you have a somewhat solid plan, it’s easy to waste a gap year and feel like you wasted time.
Being someone who is interested in so many different things, how did you go about choosing a major?
I had an unusual path to choosing my major. I knew that I wanted to be a French major coming into college, I studied the language throughout high school and I wanted to continue through college. Amherst doesn’t have minors, so the languages often have few course requirements for their majors. I expected to have a double major in a STEM field since I’m pursuing a pre-nursing track, but I took a music theory class the second half of my freshman year, since I knew I was interested in music. I realized not only that I loved music but also that I loved having a balanced course schedule: one french class, one music class, and two nursing pre-req classes (STEM courses generally). It allowed me to really fully use my brain: when I couldn’t think in French any more I could turn to more concrete STEM coursework, and when I needed something more creative I could turn to music courses. Obviously my path is a slightly unique one: I’ve known what I want to do for a career (Nurse Practitioner), and so I had the freedom to do whatever I wished with my non nursing courses, which is definitely a fortunate position to be in. I’m grateful that I’ve gotten to learn how to think in so many different ways, and I think that’s something you can pursue no matter what career path you’re taking.
What are things students should consider before deciding to join a college sports team?
I think a common misconception is that if you join a college sports team your academics will suffer. While you definitely will be committing a significant portion of time to your sport, you’ll be forced to manage your time well, and you’ll be more efficient in your academic work. Once you join a sports team (or a club with high time commitments), it can be easy to make that your entire social life. I definitely encourage branching out and finding friends with varied interests and backgrounds from you — you’ll learn a lot about yourself and about others.
How do you go about deciding what classes to take?
For me, I really like to have a balance between STEM and non-STEM classes, that way if I’m sick of doing an online problem set I can switch and do some reading for a humanities class. Having all STEM or all reading can definitely be exhausting on the brain and make for a big slog, whereas having different types of work allows you to take a “break” from one type of work by doing work for a different class. For me, my majors and my nursing-prerequisites took up just about all of my classes, but I made sure to arrange them as evenly split across the semesters to keep that balance, but I also made sure that within the confines of what classes I needed to take, I took every chance to take classes in subjects that actually interested me. There are many French and Music classes I could take each semester, so I got to choose unique ones that actively interested me. One semester I decided that there were two music classes that I absolutely wanted to take, and so I only took one pre-req that semester to allow myself the chance to pursue courses I loved.
How do you balance your time in college between homework, studying, teams, organizations, class, and fun?
Honestly, the best thing I’ve done for time management in college is start each week with my Monday and Tuesday assignments done, and spend the week getting work done as soon as possible after it’s assigned. This means that no matter how crazy my days end up, if things pop up unexpectedly, I have a buffer and am never cramming to get my work done in the last seconds before a due-date. Having a buffer also means that you can go get boba with your friends on a whim, and you don’t have to decline because you’ve procrastinated your work to the last second. And sleep!!!! The more rested you are, the more focused you’ll be, and the quicker you’ll get your work done.
What is some general advice you would give to previously homeschooled students in terms of entering college and the formal in-person classroom?
I was fortunate in that I had taken synchronous online classes with real (albeit virtual) professors and classmates, so I remarkably didn’t find the transition too shocking. I do think that the most helpful advice I have for transitioning to college (for “normal” schooled people as well) is attending office hours. Having a personal relationship with your professor, one that you start at the beginning of the semester, will only help you academically. Especially during the transition to college, it can be hard to tell what a professor is expecting for an assignment, or what they’re expecting you to know or not know for a test. Spend time in their office, ask casual questions, don’t be afraid to look silly, it will show them that you care, and it will help you learn the material the way they want you to.
What is the best class that you have taken in college and why?
My absolute favorite class that I took was a music seminar titled “Vienna.” We were a class of 12: half Music majors and half German majors. We spent the first half of the semester studying various things about Vienna as a city and music in Vienna, and over spring break we took an 8 day trip to Vienna as a whole class (including our two professors!) It was a very special experience to get to study something in the classroom, and then get to really experience it, and feel the weight and valuable nature of the knowledge we acquired. And of course it was an incredible opportunity to really bond with those classmates, most of whom I barely knew before the trip. It was a very diverse group of students who I probably wouldn’t have been close with otherwise, so I’m very grateful for that experience. The second half of the semester revolved around us presenting research projects, and it was my first time writing a 20 page research paper, which was a huge help for me when deciding to write an honors thesis.
What did you wish you knew before entering college and what advice would you give to a student entering college very soon?
I think that I was very fortunate to have my gap year: it allowed me to come into college with a pretty clear sense of what I valued and who I was, and the ways that I wanted to grow. While I met a lot of people, and I’ve continued to meet interesting people throughout college, I was fortunate to find friends my freshman year that I am still very close to, in part because I think I was able to shrug off the pressure of trying to “fit in” or needing to get to know everyone just to ensure that I’d have some friends. Of course, I was also very lucky to happen across those people my first few days, and while we clicked quickly it was a couple months before we were what I would call “close friends.” So I suppose my advice is: don’t stress about making friends, don’t just hang with a group out of fear, if you talk to someone and genuinely like them, make an effort to connect with them more deeply. And don’t stress if you don’t have close friends quickly — deep friendships take effort and come with time.
Anything else you might want to add?
Everyone should take Intro to Psychology and Developmental Psychology! Intro Psych is so helpful and important for better understanding how people think and work, and watching my baby nephew become an almost two-year-old I’m so grateful for my Dev Psych knowledge.
Because I have an older brother I always benefitted from having friends who are older than me. Having these friends, I have had the opportunity to pick their brains about everything- what classes to take, how to get an internship, friend advice- you name it! My friend Upasana Roy is one of those friends who I can always count on for advice. She is open, honest, and always willing to provide a different perspective. When I went through my job search, Upasana was there to motivate and support me. Having been a college graduate for some time now, I knew that I had to get her take on the highs, the lows, and everything in between when it comes to coping with life after college. For me and many others, life after Babson has been challenging at times but also filled with hope, excitement, and adventure. For Upasana, a bit of the same.
The biggest difference between going to college and working post-graduation for Upasana has been how you approach every day. In college, you study for tests and exams, hoping to ace your courses. If you don’t, you just try harder next time. You’re being tested on your competence and your discipline, as well as your willingness to be a team player and learn. After college, every day at work and in life can feel like a test and you really have to strive to do your best because your efforts are reflected in tangible results. Suddenly you’re faced with “adulting”, a term that’s said in humor, but is in fact so real! You’re paying bills, trying to understand your 401K and Roth IRA and navigate finding your own place, figuring out plans moving forward.
Upasana also notes that you have to consider aspects of your life that you haven’t necessarily had to concern yourself with before, like managing your finances and planning your social calendar. Upasana’s advice for you is to invest a little bit of money with each paycheck and recommends looking into Robinhood, an investment app that takes $0 in trade fees, and Public, another platform for beginner investors. In terms of your social life, after college, a big part of acclimating to a lesser degree of socialization is realizing that loneliness is a bigger part of life after college than anyone recognizes. It’s easy to take for granted how much of a bustling social life you had as a college student. It is important to foster an uber supportive set of friends to hold you up in hard times and laugh during the good times! Postgrad depression is a real problem and it is important to make a point of socializing. Be open and honest about your feelings- you are switching lives practically after all. Upasana also uses Bumble BFF, where she says you can meet some really cool people and have good conversations as well as networking events and gatherings with people that have similar interests, such as plant societies, book clubs, dance classes, or gyms! It’s important to stay friends with people and keep in touch, even if they are in different parts across the globe. Make it a point to schedule some time together. Distance shouldn’t mean anything if your friendships are real. Virtual friendships are something to be proud of!
Imposter syndrome is another aspect of post-grad life that can be unexpected for many. Women are especially known for underplaying and doubting their achievements in a workplace setting- yes, this has actually been scientifically proven. Upasana notes that college feels more like a meritocracy, where you achieve good grades when you work hard and perform well. However, in a workplace, you might be at the table with big decision-makers and leaders, but feel underqualified or underskilled in some way. Regardless, they genuinely want to know what you have to say and you bring a perspective that is unique and fresh to how things are going to work. Speak up, Upasana says, you got hired for a reason.
But, how do you “let go” of the past, when it can be really difficult, especially for those who felt like their best self in college? *major feels*
Upasana mentions that she struggled with this a great deal. She had it ingrained in her brain that college was the best 4 years of her life, a thought process that wasn’t doing her any favors! Upasana’s best friend Divya, once said to her that “that’s no way to think! You should always think that the best years of your life are yet to come! You need to move forward and move on!” Upasana needed that snap back to reality and soon was able to let go of the negativity and perpetual feeling of “loss” that came with leaving that life behind.
“You haven’t changed, you at your very core are the same. You are the same person, but you might be just a bit older or in a different location” Upasana wisely states.
The trouble with graduating is that stages of your life are no longer prescribed. Next year you will not become a Senior, now you have to write your own story, while also remembering that your plans won’t always work out and things will change. It’s about changing your level of expectation to solve this problem, Upasana mentions. Always have a plan B. When Upasana lost her dad 1 year out of college, she felt really lost. One of her best friends and confidants was gone and she had a continual “what do I do now?” feeling. No matter how hard things get, Upasana learned that you will survive and having people around you to support and lift you up is extremely important! It can be family, friends, anyone you trust, have a strong support system, and close the loop by being kind to others in return.
feat. Upansana and I (center)
Now that we have covered the challenges, let’s talk about the joys of post-grad life!
Upasana’s favorite aspects of young adulthood include the ability to control her own finances and saving money on travel and fun purchases. She also has learned to enjoy the little things more, like having dinner out with her mom or having a long phone conversation with her grandma. Upasana says that she lives slower and lighter now than ever before. Upasana has a greater sense that she is able to plan for things to come and that the world is really her oyster. She also gets a lot of enjoyment in seeing her friends transforming and evolving alongside her.
Looking towards the future, Upasana is most excited about the uncertainty of life! She is eager to go to grad school, see where her romantic and friend relationships lead her and is motivated to get more healthy this year. More than that, however, Upasana is taking more time to reflect on what she wants for her life and the impact that she wants to leave on the world.
“We live in such interesting times and I feel so positive about our generation,” she mentions. As long as Upasana is leading the way, I feel pretty positive about us too.
Finding inspiration in the past, present, and future.
The works of Tanya Garg can be described as many things- fanciful, delicate, whimsy, colorful, energetic, inspiring- the list goes on. Tanya creates genuine art pieces that are full of beautiful perspective, not only in the form of paintings, but also in the form of clay mushrooms and beadwork. Tanya finds inspiration wherever she has been, goes, or is going, whether it be the past, present, or future. Her works are intimate and incredibly detailed- pieces that I knew needed an audience like the blog! Scroll, read, and immerse yourself in the works of Tanya and how she finds artistic inspiration.
Tanya! Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi! My name is Tanya Garg, I am 26 years old, and an Aries. I went to school for painting and currently I live in India. I have a LOT of hobbies- including (but not limited to) cooking, traveling, dancing, playing with my nephews, online shopping, hoarding things, organizing, making crafts, cycling, gossiping with my friends, watching niche documentaries…the list goes on.
What has your journey as an artist been like and how has your art changed overtime?
When I was in school, the only things I made were photorealistic portraits with pencil. The only reason I went to art school was because I thought that was the only thing that I was good at, and I loved the idea of being an “artist.” I really can’t explain why I picked painting, because prior to college, I had never really painted. The first semester I was really awful at it—I knew what I wanted the painting to look like but I could never figure out how to do it. The only parts I liked about the class was going to museums, or galleries. Up until then, my perception of art was still very academic, and I only looked at the great masters of European art for inspiration. I started going to gallery openings on the first Thursday of every month because of the free wine, but it really opened up my eyes to different artists, art styles, mediums, and most of all to the fact that you could have multidisciplinary approaches to express yourself as an artist.
I sometimes cringe when describing myself as an artist, partly because I have a horrible case of imposter syndrome, and partly because I feel the formal education I received was quite academic and Euro-centric, and made me blind to the innumerable art forms that existed outside of the “art world,” or in some cases were not considered art at all.
The biggest struggle for me when creating work before was transcending my personal preconceived notions of what a painting should look like—what is the right way to paint a vase or getting the perspective right. It took some time to realize that the right way for me to express myself is not painting it the right way, but instead painting it the way that is most ideal to me. What objects can I put in, what colours can I paint, and what materials can I use to make this painting one that I enjoy the most.
What mediums do you primarily work with?
Again, I started painting with oil, because in my head that was the “proper” way to paint. I really appreciate oil painting. My favourite brand is Gamblin Colors, because I feel like they are innovative, and not stuck in the past, and they focus on developing contemporary solutions to oil painting, however, I recently switched to acrylics. I love the Golden Acrylic mediums, but now I try to just use whatever I can find.
Apart from painting, I hoard many things. I love making crafts, even though that is a bad word in the “Art World,” but I think that is just because historically women made crafts and the Art men were too insecure to give them the respect they deserve. Only now, people are waking up to all the genius women that were creating masterpieces. Obviously, I am not creating magnificent masterpieces (yet), but I like using materials from my childhood—play dough, papier mâché, beads. I have shelves filled with crap like that. I love collecting tchotchkes, and it is also one of my favourite words. I collect handmade toys, embroidery books, buttons, basically anything that looks pretty.
I also make iPad drawings because I’m bad at keeping a sketchbook. I use Adobe Sketch because I find Procreate too complicated. I only use one kind of brush but it’s so nice because I can work with different layers to have endless possibilities of the finished product.
What does your artistic process look like? What do you use as inspiration for your work and how do you find inspiration?
I don’t have one singular process. Sometimes I paint from photos, sometimes I make it up, sometimes I scroll through houses on Airbnb, sometimes I take inspiration from a book. I like having the tv on in the background when I paint, especially food shows. I am very inspired by my house and garden. I am a big consumer and a major maximalist, I love household objects, I love old things, I love antiques and really quirky objects, so I like to place them in my paintings.
Memory is a big one, since I am a very nostalgic person. Not only for the past, but also in a way trying to preserve memories for the future, and in some ways, I feel as our possessions are the only witness to time changing.
In contrast, I do have a profound love for nature, and woodsy things- flowers, mushrooms, butterflies etc. I love painting on a cloudy day, in diffused light. My studio overlooks the kitchen garden, and it makes me feel like I’m painting somewhere in the countryside.
I don’t really draw out the composition with a pencil before painting. I always tint my canvas an outrageous colour and use another outrageous colour to paint out the general picture of where things will go. Throughout my painting life, people have been telling me to paint bigger, which I always resisted, but now I have started painting on the wall, and it has been really fun, and liberating to just put silly colours on the wall. My nephew got in trouble for colouring the wall once, so he keeps yelling at me, “Bua, you better not be drawing on the wall.”
What are some of your favorite pieces of art?
Some of the works that stand out are “This is not a Fountain,” by Subodh Gupta, “Non-Stop Conversation,” by Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy, where she covers a last remaining traditional building in a light pink quilt. Let’s see… I love everything Nathalie Lete does because I feel like she is the true definition of an artist- she is constantly making. I find conceptual artist Sophie Calle really funny- one of her works “Take Care of Yourself” was created when she received a break up email from her boyfriend at the time, and got it analyzed by 107 women in different occupations. Another time she went undercover and worked at a hotel for three weeks, and photographed all the guest’s belongings. I like her work because it focuses on the intimate lives and people and the possessions they own. I also really like her because she’s a little bit like a detective and I really wanted to be one when I was a kid.
If you could have dinner with anyone past or present who would it be and what would you eat?
Salma Hayek because she is so kind, generous, confident, cultured, hot, funny, and rich and we would eat whatever Salma wants because she has good taste and likes eating healthy. She also doesn’t like to diet or exercise so I think she’s the best.
What do you find the most challenging when working on a piece of art?
I take forever to finish a painting because it’s the least enjoyable part.
What do you enjoy the most about the creative process and creating your art?
Having an idea for a piece…starting it. The second I finish, I take a photo and post it on Instagram, because I love the validation. But also, because I want to be prolific in whatever I make and so I love posting regularly because it motivates me to make work in abundance. I feel that the more I make, the more I discover and that inspires more confidence and happiness in creating works.
What is your ultimate dream in terms of collaborators, exhibitions, museums for your pieces to be in?
I worked at a gallery briefly and I really enjoyed being there, but I didn’t love the art world. So many of my friends, and also my mom, majored in fashion so I am always in awe of what they make. I really want to learn how to sew and embroider and those are mediums that I want to explore in my work. I don’t know about collaborations, because I don’t work that well with other people, but I like working with my mom.
As for showing at galleries, I don’t love the idea of my paintings hanging on a white wall in a row. I imagine them in an environment, and that’s why installation art is so fascinating to me. I despise pretentiousness in art, and sometimes galleries can feel very cold and inaccessible. I make things that are familiar and comforting, so by displaying them on a cold white wall seems very lazy on my part.
I don’t like to take my art seriously, because then it wouldn’t be fun. I would like to work on a bigger scale and make works and objects that vibe with all kinds of people, even those outside the art world.
I feel like I have a lot of learning to do, but I think the ultimate dream would be to always be making and exploring. I don’t like limits and I like to imagine and make generously.
There are many joys during the holidays, one of the biggest joys for me is gift giving. I think one of the reasons that I am so passionate about giving gifts is hunting for that personal item, one that couldn’t be mistaken as being a gift for someone else. Anyone can pick out a pair of socks or a black turtleneck for someone and pass if off as making an effort, but those are items that everyone can benefit from. My happiness rests in finding those niche items, whether it be a candle with a signature scent, a set of chocolate truffles in their favorite flavor, or a cozy knitted blanket. It’s the small things in life that bring joy. That I am sure of.
So I got this for every member of my family this year — I’m talking every one of them. I read an article that phones carry such horrible germs that to top 2020 off, I need to make sure my third hand (my phone) is not going to kill me. I put my phone in this bad boy every night and comes out nice and clean — even smells like all the cells have been slaughtered in my sleep. The best part – it keeps me off my phone when im in bed! So I’m Sleeping better. Who knew?!
It’s like giving someone fool-proof makeup and convenience wrapped in a Christmas present! The sets are customizable, and the products are so multipurpose- the makeup brush actually has 4 different tips just in one brush. The product design is also really well done, and looks super cute! For a world filled with last minute zoom calls, it’s the perfect gift to give 💫✨
Stay tuned for next week for more friends and more gifts!
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What can I say, I love my friends! So, I brought them back on board for a mini series on the gifts that they love all for under $100! Giving gifts to my friends is always the best. Seeing that huge smile on their face when they finally unwrap that picture frame with the two of us in it or the cookbook with their favorite recipes just gives me the warm and fuzzies inside. There are not many moments in a friendship that you get to express how much that person means to you. Gift giving is one of those moments, however, where you can take the time to say “I was listening” or “I know you” in a unique way. With that being said, some people need some inspiration to find the perfect gift, which is where I have outsourced some help. Here are a few ideas…
This body butter is absolutely divine. It smells like an incredible nutty, and sweet pistachio biscotti, and lasts for hours. It’s rich and creamy formula, lathers into your skin, and is my go to body butter to rub on after a nice steamy shower. Pistache skincare is based in California, and its formula is non-GMO, paraben and sulphate free, has no artificial color or fragrance, and its packaging is printed with 100% wind energy.
When it comes to giving gifts, you can never go wrong with a Consumer Reports top rated item, like this kitchen air fryer. Air frying is all the new craze this season, so if you have to buy a gift for a foodie, this might be the ticket. Also, contrary to popular belief, you can do more than just make french fries in it, it’s so versatile you can air fry practically anything!
Stay tuned for next week for more friends and more gifts!
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