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    20 Warm-Weather Hobbies You Can Start Today

    I don’t want to jinx it and scare away warm Chicago temps but summer is almost upon us which means that it’s the perfect time to finally adopt that summer hobby you’ve always wanted to try. 
    If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about adulthood, it’s that finding a hobby is more difficult than meets the eye. It can take a bit of trial and a whole lot of error to find what exactly lights your fire, but once you do, life just gets so much better. Whether you’re in it to fill a void, get away from your tech screens, work your creative muscles, or experience new ventures, we’ve got you covered. These 20 summer hobbies are here to help you have your most fulfilling season yet:

    1. Take up photography
    Remember that one time when you bought that one DSLR camera and swore you’d use it, then refrained from bringing it anywhere because it’s just too chunky for casual use? Fair enough, but hear us out: Summer is the perfect time to pick photography back up and to learn how to use your fancy camera beyond “auto” mode. Whether you’re documenting your favorite summer sights or learning how to get the perfect golden hour pics, there is no better time to learn the groundwork of photography than when you can comfortably be in natural, outside light without freezing your ass off.
    DSLR or not, learning the basics of photography can make any pictures (yes, even the ones you take with your iPhone) exponentially better. Watching YouTube videos to learn about photography basics (aperture, exposure, shutter speed, and ISO),  tips/tricks, and mistakes to avoid can help you understand the camera you already have or inspire you to invest in one. Read This If You Want To Take Great Photographs by Henry Carroll has great reviews on Amazon and is another great place to start.

    2. Develop your green thumb
    Maybe you’re already a trusty plant mom or maybe you’re like me who can’t get within 10 feet of a plant without it passing away. Regardless of your previous skill level, gardening can be a nice, rewarding hobby to take up in the summertime. Starting a garden can be an intimidating task but thankfully, there are plenty of resources out there to help you get your green thumb on. Whether you prefer to read about how to plan, sow, plant, and maintain your garden or watch a YouTube series on how to get started, there are plenty of ways to learn and to get going and growing.

    3. Take a hike
    Grab your hiking boots, ladies, we’re trailblazing this summer. If you’ve been hiking before, you know that it’s one of the best ways to reconnect with yourself and the world around you. Hit up a local trail in your area or road trip to a place with great heights and terrain—the world is truly your playground! Get lost in thought, get those endorphins pumping, soak up some vitamin D, and let the good times roll. If you’re a beginner, invest in some good hiking gear, stay hydrated, bring a good SPF, and check out these hiking tips to ensure that you have a safe and fun experience.

    4. Make your own jewelry
    Arts and crafts have always been at the tip-top of popular summer hobbies but have you tried making your own jewelry yet? Capture your own design aesthetic in wearable pieces that you can make from the comfort of your own home. Make them for yourself, gift them to a friend, sell them on Etsy… the possibilities are endless. There are some awesome kits, books, and Youtube videos (essential techniques, supplies to purchase, and of course, hacks) that will make getting started a whole lot easier.

    5. Repurpose old fabrics
    Here at TEG, we’re all about spring cleaning, bingeing our closets when they’re busting at the seams, and donating or selling pieces that either don’t fit, aren’t our style, or remind us of darker days. But one thing we haven’t quite explored? Upcycling our fabrics into cool new pieces that you just can’t buy on any online shop or any storefront.
    Grab your scissors and your sewing kits (sewing machines, if you’re fancy) and prepare to transform your dusty old pieces into something fresh, trendy, and wearable. If you’re not into sewing (yet), start with these 11 no-sew upcycle clothing projects and then move on to some more advanced techniques when you’re ready to completely transform an item you’d otherwise get rid of. Whether you want to flip thrifted pieces, try out a new trend, or completely transform your wardrobe, upcycling your old clothes is a fun way to enter a creative flow, express yourself, and be a bit kinder to the environment. That’s what we like to call a win-win situation and we’re here for it.

    6. Explore new places in your town
    If there’s one thing that we took for granted pre-pandemic, it was appreciating the beauty, the nooks, and the crannies of our own hometowns. As small businesses, farmers’ markets, and attractions begin to reopen with masking and social distancing restrictions, it’s once again becoming safe to rediscover the beauty of your own city. Challenge yourself to visit one to two new places a week to safely broaden your horizons and to appreciate all that your city has to offer.

    7. Hit the tennis court
    Channel your inner Serena Williams because tennis is a phenomenal way to get outside, get your heart rate up, and get your sweat on. Do I personally know one thing about tennis other than the mandatory grunt that comes with serving? No. But do I enjoy the satisfying “plunk” that occasionally occurs when a tennis ball bounces perfectly off of the center of my racket? You bet. If you want to get official, you can hit up some YouTube tutorials like this one so that you can get a match going with a friend.

    8. Read in the sunshine
    Name a better feeling than curling up with a book while basking in the sunlight. We’ll wait. The slow moments of summer serve as the perfect opportunity to finally tackle that ever-growing “to-read list.” And whether you’re looking for books that keep you on the edge of your seat, give you a sense of wanderlust, give you all of the Bridgerton vibes, or inspire you to be better, we’ve got some page-turning recommendations for you. 

    9. Dabble in mixology
    If whipping up classic, daring, or snazzy cocktails has been a feat on your to-try list, we’re declaring that this summer is the one that you make it happen. Try taking a virtual mixology class from the comfort of your backyard, check out a cocktail recipe book (that doubles as a coffee table book, of course), invest in some cocktail accessories, and toast to trying new things.

    10. Practice journaling
    Journaling is a great way to get in touch with your inner-self, explore new ideas, and express what is weighing on your heart. Whether you view journaling as a way to record a stream of thoughts or as an outlet to discover your purpose (like with these awesome journaling prompts), getting started can be a therapeutic addition to your “me time” that you can take just about anywhere (early, sunny morning on the Chicago lakefront, anyone?).

    11. Hit a hole in one
    OK, maybe a hole in one is a little ambitious for those of us who may have never hit the links before but golfing is a summer hobby that you can stick with for (pretty much) ever. There are so many components to golf that you can spend time mastering (putting, chipping, driving, driving the golf cart while looking cute in golf attire, etc.). While investing in a set of clubs can be a bit expensive, a good set can last you forever and can be a great social activity to partake in once the world opens back up. 

    12. Switch up your form of transportation
    Yesterday, I saw this video of a gal effortlessly gliding on and off of a longboard, barefoot, and looking cool as hell. It seemed so liberating and the vibes were absolutely immaculate. I briefly thought to myself, “I want to do that!” before coming back to reality and remembering my super average athletic abilities and impressive lack of balance. Though I’ll likely never zippity-do-da on a longboard like the aforementioned graceful woman, there’s something about biking, rollerblading, and scootering that reminds me of summer nights in my hometown as a kid and leaves me nostalgic AF. And who knows, maybe you’ll spot me gliding on a longboard down Michigan Avenue one of these days.

    13. Update old furniture (or start from scratch):
    There’s a big learning curve when it comes to tackling anything handy—especially if you’re like me—but after watching stunning home improvement projects on TikTok for a few hours, I suddenly feel like I am Joanna Gaines herself and start looking at my old furniture thinking, “oh, I for sure can sand and stain that!” Entering the world of home improvement is no joke but the payoff is wildly great. Not only will you feel a sense of “holy shit, I did that” accomplishment, but it can also result in some really great pieces that save you a ton of money in the long run. 

    14. Brew some beer
    Nothing screams “it’s summer” quite like cracking a cold beer but, as with all things, food and drink tend to taste better when you put time into making it yourself. I’ll admit, until our Editor in Chief mentioned that her husband dabbled in beer making last summer, I hadn’t even considered the possibility of brewing my own. I am picturing myself in a garage, singing the wrong words to country music, brewing some beer, and enjoying the fruits of my labor and I declare—this could the most unexpected summer hobby yet.

    15. Foster an animal
    If you’ve fostered an animal before, you know that fostering is one of the most rewarding and mutually beneficial relationships in the game. Not only may it result in cuddles, kisses, and overall cuteness overload, but it’ll help prepare the animal for future adoption and free up room in the shelter, allowing the shelter to take new animals in. It’s a great way to experience puppy or kitty love without long-term commitment and is a great way to help out a furry friend in need (and your community). Reach out to shelters in your area to find fostering opportunities near you and thank me later! More

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    I Online Dated the Entire Pandemic—Here’s What It Was Like

    A mere week or so before quarantine began, I finally felt ready to start dating again. An abusive relationship, a negative self-image, stress, life changes—it all kept me single for a while. But just before the pandemic, I downloaded all the apps, took some good selfies, updated my profiles… and then I had to figure out dating during the pandemic.
    Fast-forward a year, and I’ve spent the entire COVID-19 pandemic online dating (spoiler alert: to no avail). When I was stuck at home watching every Netflix show that existed or trying to learn a new hobby, my phone was near, picking up all my little matches across the city. I’ve had quite the go of dating throughout the past year—here’s a peek into my process and what I’m taking away now that I’m vaccinated:

    The Apps I Use
    I’m bisexual and use way too many dating apps. I use Bumble for meeting men, Hinge for men and women, and Tinder and Her for women. I feel like I get the best results this way. But of course, I have favorites: Bumble is the easiest interface and has been the most helpful throughout the pandemic because they have options to put what your comfort level is around COVID dating, and I find it helpful to be able to see the person’s political affiliation. If that’s not important to you, then it doesn’t matter, but it helps me weed out people that I simply know that I won’t mesh with romantically. I want to love Her, but I simply never meet anyone, and I have this horrible fear that every single person I speak to is a catfish because I’ve met an odd number of catfishes on there in the year I’ve used it.

    Spring 2020
    The first couple months of the pandemic, I had apps on my phone but I didn’t put too much stake into it. I’d swipe if I got really bored watching TV, but I couldn’t imagine meeting someone and having to talk to them for an unsure amount of time before we’d be able to safely meet. I remember telling my mom that I was worried my dating life would get put on hold for a few months (lmao) because I couldn’t see a “reason” in online dating while I was stuck at home. For everyone, this time period was so isolating and confusing, and those emotions aren’t conducive as a foundation to build a relationship on.

    Summer 2020
    But then, once outdoor dining opened up, I started seeing my friends again, and being outside in the real world didn’t feel like a death sentence to myself and everyone I know. I started using apps a little bit more, but meeting was really difficult. One aspect of COVID dating has been constantly having to worry that this new person you’re bringing into your life has the same thoughts around COVID that you do. It’s one thing to worry my partner won’t like the same music taste as me or prefers to stay in instead of going out, but with COVID, I’m worried I could be bringing someone into my life who could get myself, or worse, one of my close friends or family members sick. And that’s a risk I haven’t been willing to take for almost anyone this pandemic. So, this involves a lot of weeding out.
    First, you have the COVID deniers. My friend saw a guy whose literal bio was “COVID is a hoax,” which actually is probably helping people to make sure to swipe left real quick. I’m horrified of meeting someone who doesn’t take wearing a mask seriously or is going on wild vacations or simply just has very different views and boundaries around COVID from how I do. This worry has caused me to not meet up with tons of people on apps in the last year because I can’t risk hurting someone just so I can have one hot date.
    But there are also the people who *only* want to talk about COVID. Their opener and every message after is about how their sister got COVID and gave it to all of her friends and might give it to three sets of grandparents and how you think we’ll never go back to living normal lives ever again. It’s bleak sh*t. I am already worrying about 3897237 things at all times, including COVID—I don’t need it to take over my messages too.

    Fall 2020
    After months of swiping, I actually met someone. But because of COVID, I was hesitant to do anything in person. Turns out, this guy explained that he was regularly tested for COVID through his job, and after a 10-day quarantine, we hung out. I was uncomfortable and nervous the first hour or so; I was already preparing to quarantine again so I didn’t accidentally get someone else sick. That all said, when it went well, I planned our second (and third) date immediately to “limit the exposure.”
    It was a whirlwind of a romance, but ultimately ended in him making up this elaborate lie that he had a secret job in the government and had to move that very night. All this to say, I felt pretty defeated after that for a couple of months. I finally meet someone in the pandemic, and it was all so fleeting. Dating in the pandemic feels like a constant push and pull: you put in tons of effort and get excited about a match, all for it to end and you’re alone again. Pre-pandemic, rebounds were a little easier; I had a whole office full of friends to see every day and I made regular visits to see my family. The loneliness of the pandemic really got to me in those moments when I realized the simple act of meeting one person gave me so much serotonin (and then how easy it was to all go away).

    Spring 2021
    There’s been a bit of a light at the end of the tunnel recently, though. As soon as people I know started getting vaccinated, it felt like maybe there was hope for in-person dating soon. This made me, and I’m sure other people, get a little more into their apps. Instead of closing it and not swiping again for days every single week, I’m using the apps more consistently, and I’m getting more matches too.

    How I’m Using Apps Going Forward
    I was lucky to get vaccinated recently. Although this doesn’t make the entire pandemic go away, there is finally some hope that, eventually, we’ll get to meet up in person and maybe even take our masks off! For so much of the last year, there were a lot of communal feelings about what was going on. At some points, it was all hope and excitement that things could get better soon (i.e., in the beginning when every week it felt like maybe we’d be going back to work in a few weeks), but other times it felt extremely bleak and sad (such as when I officially started saying that I didn’t know if I’d ever go back into work). And in a time of hopelessness, I think dating felt that way too.
    I can’t lie and say that I’m not pumped for the first person I meet out in the world again. It’s so much easier to tell context and interest and connection in person, and not having to wait hours for someone to respond sounds like heaven. But I also know that online dating is the way of the times and the future, and people will likely still populate apps like crazy, even once the pandemic is over. More

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    8 Virtual Interview Tips to Help You Land the Job, According to the Experts

    Job interviews have always been nerve-wracking, but virtual interviews feel like a different challenge altogether. You’re worried about technical glitches; it’s tougher to make small talk and develop good rapport; you struggle to pick up on nonverbal cues. It’s no wonder that a 2017 study found that eight in 10 job seekers said video interviews are just as stressful or even more stressful than in-person interviews.Virtual interviews certainly aren’t without their challenges and hiccups. Fortunately, we’re here to help. We connected with a few human resources professionals to get their best virtual interview tips that will help you ace that interview—and get one step closer to landing the job.

    1. Remember that all of the traditional interview advice still applies
    Virtual interviews are a different format, but the nuts and bolts are still largely the same. That’s why nearly all of the experts mentioned that all of the typical interview best practices should still be a high priority.
    From researching the company and thoroughly reading the job description to practicing your answers to common questions and sending a “thank you” note, remember to start with the basics.

    2. Read the instructions carefully
    It can feel like every single company uses something different for their virtual interviews. Some use Zoom. Others use Google Meet. You get the idea.
    That’s why Jade Hugh, Senior Talent Advisor at Bloom, recommended that you review the interview instructions carefully so you know exactly where you need to be, if there’s certain software you need to have installed, and if there’s a password or something else required.

    3. Check your technology
    Technology hurdles can sidetrack your interview (not to mention cause you a lot of added stress), so it’s wise to double-check all of your equipment before signing on for the interview.
    Is your camera working? What about your microphone? Can you access the interview platform? Is your Wi-Fi connection stable?
    “This gives you the chance to contact the interviewer early, just in case you notice an issue,” said Kimone Napier, HR Strategist.

    4. Find a quiet, distraction-free space
    Doing your interview from your kitchen table while your toddler tosses things out of your cupboards or your roommate makes an omelet isn’t ideal. Instead, find a quiet space where you can focus on the conversation.
    If there’s no such thing as a quiet spot in your home (hey, we get it), Napier said an application like Krisp can help you cancel out unwanted background noise.
    When it comes to distractions, environmental ones aren’t the only ones you need to be aware of. You should eliminate your self-imposed ones too. “Close your other windows and browsers,” said Agnes Tseng, People and Culture Advisor at Bloom. “We can tell when you’re getting distracted by something else.”
    Hunt echoes that sentiment and also warns interviewees to turn off their phones. That will avoid any pings or buzzes that rip your attention away from the conversation.

    “Close your other windows and browsers. We can tell when you’re getting distracted by something else.”

    5. Up your production value
    You’re not producing a feature film, but that doesn’t mean you want your visual aesthetic to be completely haphazard.
    For starters, be mindful of what your interviewer will see in your background (yep, it’s time to move those piles of laundry). Tempted to use one of those video features to blur your background? A smarter strategy is to use that space to your advantage.
    “A huge part of any interview is getting to know you in and outside of work, so give them a sneak peek into who you are,” said Suzi Archer, Head of People and Talent at MyCleverGroup. “This is a great opportunity to create talking points by having your favorite books on display, any certificates or achievements you’d like to highlight, your favorite music, or family photos.”
    Decent lighting is another important thing you need to consider. “Illuminate your face as much as you possibly can so that your interviewer is able to see your facial expressions,” said Tseng.

    6. Dress for success
    Even if you’re meeting virtually, dressing in a way that’s polished and professional can help you out. Yep, this applies to your bottom half too—commit to the full outfit, rather than a blazer on top and pajama pants on the bottom.
    Why? Not only does it send the message that you’re taking the interview seriously, but it can also impact your mood and even performance.
    Don’t believe us? One study gave intellectual tests to two groups: one wearing casual clothing and one wearing formal clothing. The formal group actually performed better on the tests and tasks. So, take the time to polish yourself up before that chat—it could make a surprisingly big difference in the quality of your interview.

    7. Remember eye contact
    The lack of nonverbal cues is one of the biggest hangups about virtual interviews, but the good news is that eye contact is something that you can replicate on video calls.
    “It can be quite distracting seeing yourself on screen, but do your best to make eye contact with the person asking the questions and mind your body language,” said Archer. One helpful tip is to put googly eyes right by your webcam. It might look a little silly, but it’ll give you something to focus on (other than your own reflection).

    “It can be quite distracting seeing yourself on screen, but do your best to make eye contact.”

    8. Be authentic
    Nerves run high in an interview, and it’s tempting to feel like you need to be flawless in order to land the job, but that’s not the case. You’re far better off being honest and authentic.
    Archer said that starts with setting expectations upfront. “It’s now expected that people working and interviewing from home will likely be balancing a variety of home distractions,” she explained, mentioning the now-viral BBC interview featuring a rogue toddler. “I have a 5-month-old baby and I’m often on the other side of the interview screen. I’ll always start by saying, ‘I’m not expecting any disruptions, but I do have a baby at home, so please bear with me if she causes any interruptions.’”
    If something does happen during your interview? Instead of letting panic wash over you, just be honest about what’s happening. “Have a new puppy? Did the doorbell ring? Be open and have a good laugh about it. At the end of the day, we are all human and understand the nuances of working from home,” said Hugh.

    Not being able to do an interview in-person comes with some challenges, but it’s not all bad news. “Virtual interviews do have their benefits,” said Archer. “You’re on your turf, you don’t have to worry about how much travel time you need to allow, where to park, and how to navigate the office once you arrive.”
    “In my opinion, the pros of virtual interviews outweigh the cons,” added Napier, noting that other benefits include saving time and reducing bias.
    So, rather than wishing your interview were being handled differently, focus on making the most of the opportunity in front of you. If nothing else, it’s a chance to prove that you’re an adaptable candidate who can excel regardless of what the world throws your way. More

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    The Best At-Home Valentine’s Day Plans

    No matter if you’re newly dating, recently single, have been in an LTR relationship for a decade, or if the longest relationship you’ve ever had is with your work wife, Valentine’s Day is historically stressful. Pricey menus, overbooked restaurants, or the shame of being single? No, thank you. And don’t get me started on that awkward phase when you just started seeing each other and aren’t sure if you’re at the buying-presents level or if you should keep it casual (for reference, I started dating my boyfriend around Valentine’s Day years ago. He got me a nice bracelet, and I got him a joke golf ball holder that looked like a pile of poop).It’s true: Valentine’s Day can kind of suck. But not this year! We’ve dealt with a hellish 10+ months and a crazy increase in stress, so we all deserve a little extra love on February 14. No matter what your relationship status says on Facebook, here are the best at-home plans to make your Valentine’s Day stress-free, enjoyable, and special. Overpriced restaurant menus and depressing nights alone need not apply.

    Order a hosting box to upgrade your night in
    If you’re looking to make your night special but don’t have the time (or energy) to figure out how, why not order everything you need straight to your door? Pass the Salt elevates your night in by delivering a box based on your needs and your night. Complete with seasonal cocktail fixings, tablescape accents, conversation-starters to help you reconnect, a playlist to set the mood, and an on-theme movie night rec in case your date night turns into movie night (it always does, right?). The best part? Pass the Salt works with small artisan brands and family-run companies, so not only will your date night in be filled with unique accents and interesting pieces that no one else has, but you’ll feel good about what you buy. Your significant other will be so impressed! 

     
    Have a picnic
    Because what’s more worthy of a romantic holiday than a picnic? If it’s warm where you live, enjoy the weather by spreading a picnic blanket in the backyard or nearby park, and enjoy dinner (and a bottle of wine) sitting under the stars. And if you live by a beach, lake, or forest? Even better. If it’s too cold outside, DIY your own picnic by lying a blanket on the floor in the living room. Make it extra cozy with a lit fire or candles, and enjoy a romantic evening that will feel more special than your average night in. If you’re long-distance, mail your partner candles, order pizza on Postmates (for both of you), and send over a Zoom link so you can have the same experience together from miles away.
     
    Relive one of your favorite trips
    After almost a year of staying at home, Valentine’s Day might feel like just another milestone cooped up at home. The answer? Bring vacation to you. If you had a magnifique trip to France a couple of years ago, look through pictures, play French music, and cook some croque monsieurs. If you were planning on taking a beach trip this year that got canceled, make some piña coladas and put on a sundress. You can also recreate the trip you’ve always wanted to take together: make sushi if you’ve both been dreaming of visiting Japan, or set up a DIY poker table to transport yourselves to Las Vegas. And if you’re in different locations this year, reminiscing about experiences and reliving happy memories will make your Facetime date feel more special. 
     
    Recreate your favorite restaurant or hotel at home
    Do you miss fancy date nights out? Get takeout from your favorite date-night restaurant (bonus points for supporting local businesses), or mix it up by ordering a few different kinds of food for a buffet of all your favorites (eggplant parmesan and spicy tuna rolls? Yes, please!). Light candles and get out a nice table cloth to create a romantic atmosphere. Make it extra special by dressing up in nice clothes or even just spritzing on your nice perfume. You’ll feel like you’re at a fancy restaurant, but without the expensive prices and sometimes weird food (who likes escargot, like really?). Oh, and if you miss romantic sleepovers at hotels, change your sheets, hang up fancy robes in the closet, and leave all distractions outside of the bedroom. 

    Create your own spa experience
    Breakups are never easy, especially when the month of love comes along to remind you. The fix? Put all your energy and love into self-care with an at-home spa experience. First, set the atmosphere. Dim the lights, light candles, diffuse essential oils, turn on relaxing music, and put on a cozy robe. Stock up on all the luxurious products you love, whether it’s a CBD bath bomb or a high-quality hair mask, and get ready for a full day of pampering. Take a bath, indulge in dry brushing or exfoliating, give yourself a facial massage for relaxation and de-puffing, and finish off with a manicure or pedicure in your favorite color. End the night with a glass of champagne or a cup of tea.

    Have breakfast in bed
    Sure, breakfast in bed is typically for mornings, but why not make it a nighttime thing? Breakfast for dinner is always fun (scrambled eggs, anyone?), and eating it in bed (with a mimosa or two) will feel like you’re at a luxurious hotel or on vacation. Trust me, you’ll be thrilled you don’t have to go out for date night when you’re relaxing in pajamas, eating pancakes, and bingeing Sex and the City for five hours straight (without anyone telling you to change the channel). 

    Do all your favorite traditions for yourself
    If you love typically love Valentine’s Day, carry on with all the same traditions. But this year, dedicate the traditions to the most worthy relationship: the one you have with yourself. Buy yourself your favorite flowers, indulge in a fancy box of chocolates, or treat yo’ self to that splurge item you’ve been wanting. Write yourself a love letter, cook your favorite meal, and light some candles for some romantic NSFW time (thank god you don’t need two people to orgasm, am I right?). While it may sound cheesy and feel silly, spending the money, time, and energy on yourself that you would normally spend on someone else will remind you that self-love is truly the best kind.

    DIY a wine and paint night
    Wine and painting classes are all the rage these days, so why not recreate them from the comfort of your own home? Order some cheap canvases and paint supplies online, look up a Youtube video for step-by-step painting, and pour a couple of glasses of wine for your friends. You’ll have a lot of fun, get your creativity on, and maybe even come away with new portraits to hang up in your homes (or you’ll laugh at how bad they turned out, but either way, it will be a great time). 

    Host a tasting
    Since you can’t take a girl’s trip to Napa Valley this year, bring Napa Valley to you. Host a simple wine tasting by sampling a few local wines (#supportlocalbusinesses), or get more detailed with cheese or chocolate pairings. Don’t forget an Insta-worthy cheese board, which is always a crowd-pleaser. And if you want to step up your game, create cards for the titles or origins of each wine, the different notes in each sample, and what foods they pair well with (so bougie). If beer or whiskey is more your friend group’s style, sample a few different types for a DIY flight. Pair with pretzels and beer cheese or takeout from your favorite brewery. This is your important reminder that a box of chocolates pairs well with just about any alcohol. 

    Bring the sports bar to you
    If your group of friends is more the “screw Valentine’s Day” type, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun on February 14. Forget the fancy foods and elegant wine; opt for something a little more casual and enjoyable by turning your home into your favorite local sports bar (every friend group has one). Turn on a pre-recorded game, ESPN Sports Center, or any past-season highlights to set the scene. Grab some beers and make (or order) all of your favorite bar appetizers like wings, pizza, or onion rings. If the night breaks out into a game of good old-fashioned beer pong, we’d call you genius. Loungewear attire required. 

    Have a party for one
    Because you don’t need to have company over to have a dinner party, plan a special night in for just you. Hang up string lights, make some mini appetizers, pop the nice champagne, turn on jazz music, and dress up in your favorite dinner-party attire. Why should you dress up your home (and your OOTD) just for other people? After all, celebrating yourself is the best possible occasion to bring out the nice silverware. Oh, and if your idea of a “party” looks more like beer kegs and loud music, why not throw one at home for yourself? A beer keg might be excessive (no judgment, either way), but pour yourself a cold beer, turn on the playlist that makes you want to dance, and snack on your favorite party food. Rager for one, please!

    Movie marathon
    For a special night at home, don’t settle for the same Netflix show you watch every night (Bridgerton can wait until tomorrow). Switch it up by planning a special movie marathon. Watch as many movies as you can get through of your favorite franchise like Harry Potter or Star Wars, or pick a genre you love (’80s teen movies or historical dramas are both classic choices). Get all your favorite movie snacks, put your phone away, and snuggle up in your coziest sweats for a movie marathon. The best part about being solo with no one else to disturb you is that you can fantasize about Mr. Darcy, John Cusack, or Gal Gadot all night long (whatever tickles your fancy). 
     
    Create a self-love night
    Not to sound like a broken record, but the most worthy kind of love is self-love, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not. Spend February 14 getting to know yourself, wooing yourself, caring for yourself, and prioritizing yourself. Plan out a schedule in advance of all the things you want to do to practice self-love. For example, revisit a childhood hobby, make a playlist of all your favorite songs, create a vision board, make a list of what you love most about yourself, cook an indulgent meal you love, and watch your favorite movie. For some more reflective self-love, try journaling prompts dedicated to getting to know yourself better, or squeeze in as many activities as you can from our Self-Love Challenge. 

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    30 At-Home Workouts You Can Do on Your Lunch Break

    No matter how many times that I attempt to make a conscious effort to slow down and enjoy my food, my hanger always prevails as I continually find myself inhaling my meals. The one benefit to this fatal flaw of mine is that I have the *unique* ability to use my lunch break to accomplish more than just curbing my hunger with my favorite Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken Bowl. Instead of sleepily scrolling TikTok as I digest, I use the remaining minutes of my lunch to move my body, even if it’s just for a few moments.For a long, long time, it was ingrained in my brain that my workouts “weren’t effective” unless I spent over an hour doing intense cardio or lifting heavy weights at a gym. After the past year of adapting to our new normal, I’ve found that keeping things short, simple, and consistent is more effective for me than pressuring myself to hit the gym multiple days a week for hours on end. More times than not, I don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to make my previous methods even the least bit successful.
    Incorporating movement into my WFH routine has been an absolute game-changer for me and helps me to get my mind right before I tackle the second half of my workday. Whether you find yourself with an extra 10, 20, or 30 minutes in your day, these quick, yet effective workouts are the perfect way to step away from the screen and get your blood pumping:

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    The Everygirl’s 28-Day Self-Love Challenge

    Ah, February: the month of red roses, limitless rom-coms, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Maybe you’re a hopeless romantic and look forward to February 14 all year, or maybe Valentine’s Day typically feels sad, lonely, or disappointing. But celebrating love wouldn’t be complete if the #1 priority wasn’t how you love yourself.No matter what your relationship status says on Facebook, the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Yes, that might have been a cliché your mom told you growing up or what you read in The Care and Keeping Of You when you were 11 years old, but it’s also a powerful truth. How you feel about and talk to yourself determines the success of other relationships, and is a key component of physical health and mental health. How you love yourself literally impacts every aspect of your life, and therefore, learning to love yourself is the most important skill you could master. 
    Since February is the month of love, we’ve put together a challenge focusing on the most worthy kind of relationship: the one you have with yourself. For every day in February, you’ll be challenged to try journaling prompts and activities focusing on getting to know yourself, wooing yourself, caring for yourself, and prioritizing yourself. Follow the challenge, and you’ll have a whole new perspective on self-love by March 1. 
     

    1: Make a list of five things that always make you happy and put it on your mirror, desk, or fridge where you’ll see it often
    2: Buy yourself flowers
    3. Revisit a childhood hobby
    4. Go for a walk on your lunch break
    5. Make a playlist of all your favorite songs
    6. Unplug for three hours
    7: Journal prompt: Get to know yourself. Take some time to think about what you believe in, value, and like. Make a list of your strengths (particularly the ones that have gone unnoticed).

    Source: @lolaomonaija

    8: Say “no” if you want to say no
    9: Eat the rainbow by trying a variety of fruits and vegetables
    10: Splurge on the item you’ve been wanting
    11: Take yourself on a date or set the table with candles and a fancy table cloth
    13: Watch your favorite movie
    14: Journal prompt: look at a picture of yourself as a baby or young child. How would you talk differently to yourself if you were talking to her? What do you want to tell her?

    Source: @sassyredlipstick

    15. Identify your love language and then do one thing to show yourself love in that language
    16. Make a promise to yourself and then keep it (work out before work, make a smoothie for breakfast, take a real lunch break, cut off work at 5 p.m., etc.)
    17. Unfollow or mute every account that doesn’t make you feel inspired, encouraged, or good about yourself
    18. Sit in child’s pose for a minute whenever you’re stressed
    19. Dress up in your favorite outfit and put on your favorite lipstick
    20. Take some time to “play:” turn on music and dance or do something creative like coloring
    21: Journal prompt: write down past mistakes you’re still holding onto. Reflect on how you’ve changed since those past mistakes or embarrassing moments. Realize how even the worst moments have made you stronger, kinder, and better, and then forgive yourself. 

    Source: @kayla_seah

    22: Say “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry”
    23: Sneak leafy greens into sauces, dips, and dressings
    24: Write a list of the things you love most about yourself
    25: Start an inspirational book
    26: Treat yourself to a new vibrator or download an app like Coral (because sexual wellness is self-care)

    28: Journal prompt: How can you become more “you?” We love ourselves when our actions align with who we really are. Make a list of your qualities, likes, traits, strengths, and passions. Then, write down how you can become or more of each thing. Also, get rid of the activities or traits that don’t feel true to you, and fill up the empty space with more you-ness. Every work goal, wellness intention, and daily schedule should support becoming more of who you really are. More

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    9 Sexy Must-Haves for a Cozy Night In with Your Significant Other

    For some couples (I call them the “unicorn couples”), staying at home together 24/7 with nothing to do means doing the nasty more than you did when you were first dating. But for most couples, staying at home means a lack of motivation, an abundance of takeout, and a disregard for basic hygiene. In other words, your sex drive (and overall intimacy in the relationship) has been on the lower side these days.But with chilly temperatures outside and a stay-at-home order still in effect, you’ve got nowhere to go. It’s the perfect time to reignite that spark with a little cozy night at home. Whether you’re newly dating or have been together for decades, consider this the comprehensive checklist of everything you need for the romantic night you deserve (BTW, the same rules apply if you’re indulging in a night of self-love too). Get in the mood, light a candle (more on that below), and have a romantic night in, thanks to these spark-igniting must-haves.

    1. The right scent
    Candles not only set a romantic ambiance thanks to dim lighting and flickering fire (there’s a reason the sex scenes in every rom-com include candles), but sensuality is about awakening each of the senses, and that includes smell. While some scents might be arousing based on a personal memory (like rose from the perfume you wore on your wedding night or vanilla from a lotion you used on your first trip away together), other scents might act as aphrodisiacs. Look for candles with spicy notes like cinnamon and sandalwood, luxurious scents like vanilla and ylang-ylang, or relaxing scents like lavender and sage. 

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    2. Bath (or shower) essentials
    Getting “in the mood” is not just about the 10-30 minutes leading up to sex; it’s about building the anticipation throughout the entire day. Set yourself up for feeling your best by indulging in some self-care in the bath or shower. Try dry brushing, exfoliating with bath salts or body scrubs, and massaging in an oil. Oh, and don’t forget to check yourself out in the mirror (confidence is the #1 best sex hack!). Plus, a relaxing bath or steamy shower can be part of the romantic night if you want to bring your significant other with you. After all, sex is self-care. 

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    3. Luxurious beauty products
    Speaking of confidence, how much pleasure you feel is not determined by how you look to your partner, but it can be determined by how you feel about yourself (your partner is going to think you’re smokin’, no matter what). Invest in products that make you feel good, whether it’s a full face of makeup, a brightening facial treatment, a spritz of perfume, or a texture spray to DIY bedhead. After all, beauty is not about what we think we have to do to look good; it’s about indulging in ourselves (because we’re worth it) and remembering how attractive we are (from the inside out). Get your glow on with the beauty products that make you feel your very best.

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    4. Music to set the mood
    It’s no surprise that music dictates the mood. How else would we know to feel hopeful and excited if the rom-com didn’t include Why Can’t I by Liz Phair, and would we even burst into tears if My Heart Will Go On didn’t play at the end of Titanic? Would Jaws be so scary without the daunting theme song, or would the rose ceremonies on The Bachelorette feel as dramatic without the suspenseful soundtrack? Music tells us how to feel, and that goes for getting in the mood too. Make a playlist of the songs that make you feel confident, sexy, and romantic, or turn on our “Get Sexy” playlist, filled with all the songs 13-year-old you were scandalized by (in the best way). 

    5. Lube
    At The Everygirl, we are big advocates for the fact that everyone (yes, everyone) should at least try lube. Our editor, Beth, even went so far as to say, “Personal lubricant is not a choice in my book; it is a necessary tool for sexual pleasure and health. Lube is the best sex toy you could ever add to the bedroom.” If that’s not convincing enough, I don’t know what is. Pick a lube that will not only increase pleasure, but will be good for your vagina, thanks to non-toxic ingredients, nourishing formulas, and treatment-like benefits. 

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    6. Something pretty to wear
    Disclaimer: if you feel your very best in your birthday suit, you go, girl. Feel free to skip this point and go on with your bad self. However, if wearing some pretty lingerie or wrapping yourself in a silky robe gets you in the mood, you deserve to treat yourself to something indulgent and luxe. If full-on lingerie isn’t your thing, even a pair of new underwear or a pajama set that makes you feel sexy can completely revamp your sex life (yes, really). After all, remember that your pleasure directly correlates to your confidence, and if a lacy bra helps you feel like the badass you are, it’s well worth any price tag.

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    7. An activity
    You may not think you need another activity than the activity, but experimenting with conversation-starters like a couple’s journal or question cards could not only break you out of your routine but could also help you learn new things about your partner and even inspire you to try new things (yes, even if you’ve been together ~forever~). Especially if communication in the bedroom is not your strong suit or if you’re still figuring out what you like and don’t like, prompted questions can be a fun, relaxing way to open up communication. 

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    8. Vibrator or sex toy
    If you feel stuck in a sex rut or have trouble orgasming with your partner (AKA 75 percent of women), the answer might be incorporating a vibrator or sex toy. Experimenting and trying new things is always important, but it’s also a good idea to have a go-to vibrator or sex toy that you both enjoy using (and that you also enjoy using alone). If you haven’t found a favorite or are interested in exploring, we have many helpful guides on vibrators and sex toys for partners (hint: there are lots of options). Bottom line: talk it out together, explore some options, and figure out what you would both like. 

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    9. Luxurious bedding
    Sex is better on vacation, right? Sure, maybe it’s thanks to the stress-free attitude, exciting new experiences, and the lack of kids/long to-do lists/daily chores you would normally have at home, but I also wouldn’t discount hotel bedding. Whether crisp pillows and clean sheets are turn-ons to you or not, upgrading your bedding can switch up your environment, and just a small change can make sex feel new. Some couples even switch out their bedding just for special occasions (a cozy night in counts as special), but you can also try a few simple upgrades like satin pillowcases, a linen duvet cover, or fur throw pillows.

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    8 Indoor Hobbies to Get You Through the Winter

    The likelihood of me leaving the house for anything other than essentials (like work and obtaining groceries) decreases exponentially with the temperature outside. Below freezing? Yeah, probably staying indoors. 10 degrees with a wind chill? Screw the groceries, see you next April.For the days (or, let’s face it, months) when the weather is less-than-ideal, it’s easy for our productivity—and general satisfaction with life—to come to a screeching halt as we hole up with blankets, junk food, and a long, long Netflix queue.
    Don’t get me wrong: I love a good Netflix queue. But it’s difficult enough for busy people to maintain affirming, fulfilling hobbies as it is. Add a snowstorm into the mix, and suddenly an entire season is reduced to a placeholder (especially after the holidays end) for all the stuff we’ll probably start up again once the world thaws.
    If you don’t want to spend all winter feeling frozen in time, here’s a list of fun, fulfilling hobbies you can start within the comfort (and warmth!) of your own home.

    1. Experiment in the kitchen

    When it comes to cooking, there are two kinds of people: Those who cook to live and those who live to cook. Try venturing into the second category by trying new dishes, recipes, and methods. Experiment with new cuisines or flavor profiles and get creative.

    Where to start

    If cooking anything beyond the basics feels totally out of your wheelhouse, try investing in a good cookbook first. As new recipes and new flavor combinations work for you, you’ll need to use cookbooks less and less to whip up something great.

    2. Stay balanced with yoga

    Even if you’re more of a HIIT or treadmill kind of girl, think of yoga as an exercise for stress relief, rather than just physical. Certain yoga poses can help anxiety or lessen the effects of sitting at a desk all day. Try adding a yoga practice into your daily routine to deepen your breath, stay connected to your body, and make it to summer with as little stress as possible. 

    Where to start

    If setting time aside for yoga seems difficult to fit into your schedule, incorporate some flows and poses into your daily routine. For example, try an energizing flow first thing in the morning to wake you up, a wind-down flow before bed, or sit in Child’s Pose whenever you start feeling stressed. 

    3. Learn a new language

    Why not spend all winter learning a new language, then try out your newfound skills on your spring or summer vacation? This hobby will keep your mind stimulated and, if you keep it up, give your resume a major boost.

    Where to start

    Download a language app (like DuoLingo) to your phone. Pick a language and start learning! It really is that simple.

    4. Sharpen your writing skills.

    While natural ability will always play a part in most talents, writing is first and foremost a learned skill. If you’ve ever wished you were a better writer, you’re in luck, because you totally can be. You just need practice.

    Where to start

    If you feel like you have a lot of learning to do, check out writing courses on Skillshare. If your goal is to get creative juices flowing, then write for the sake of writing. Make a plan for how often you want to write, then find a list of writing prompts you like (here’s one) and get started! You can complete the prompt with as little or as much written word as you want. If you want something more interactive, sign up for Daily Page. Every day you’ll receive a new prompt, and you have until the end of the day to complete it. Once finished, you have the choice to share your writing publicly or keep it private.

    5. Unwind with knitting

    Knitting makes the perfect hobby for a number of reasons. For one, once you’ve got the basics down, you can do it while also doing other things (like watching TV or listening to a great podcast or audiobook). This hobby actually makes a night in with Netflix productive, because you’ll end up with sweaters and scarves and hats at the end. Win-win in our book.

    Where to start

    You’ll need a pair of knitting needles, yarn, a crochet hook for picking up dropped stitches, and a yarn needle for joining pieces of knitting together. Then, you’ll want to pick a pattern to start. If you’re a total beginner, take a look at these classes to help you get started.

    6. Reconnect with your inner kid.

    Remember when you were young and a night playing board games or doing puzzles was considered a night well spent? We sure do. As adults, why can’t spending time with friends and family (with some good old-fashioned entertainment) be a hobby? You’ll bond with loved ones, stimulate the brain, and pass the time with some lighthearted (or ultra-competitive, if you’re into that) fun.

    Where to start

    First, pick your board games (duh). Then, on a night you’d otherwise spend curled up watching TV, opt to play the games with your significant other, roommates, or friends. If you’re feeling extra fancy, make board game nights (complete with wine and cheese) a weekly gathering among your group of friends. If puzzles are more your jam, here’s a list of the best selling puzzles on Amazon. If you don’t have kids or pets that will make a mess of it, leave your puzzle out on the coffee table to revisit throughout the day.

    7. Start a new workout plan

    I know, I know. You just rolled your eyes at the suggestion that a workout plan could actually be considered a “hobby.” But workouts don’t have to be forced, painful, or boring. In fact, your workout plan in 2021 should look like finding a workout that feels like a hobby, whether it’s a relaxing yoga flow after a long day or an energizing dance class that reminds you of a GNO (remember clubs?). 

    Where to start

    Obé Fitness offers every possible class you could think of to stream live or on-demand at home, and the live classes turn your living room into a trendy studio or a boutique gym, thanks to fun music, live-streamed classes, and upbeat instructors. Obé Fitness offers classes for everything from cardio, to sculpt, to yoga, and have several 10-day programs custom-made by your favorites (like The Yoga Deep Dive or, ahem, The Everygirl Program, just to name a few). 
    Use promo code “TEG50” to get 50% off your first month of Obé Fitness.

    8. Start an indoor herb garden

    That’s right: gardening doesn’t have to be an outdoor activity reserved for summertime. Keeping a few different herbs indoors not only adds a refreshing feel to your home (and makes for pretty decor!), but it also means more flavorful, healthy meals for a fraction of the price of store-bought herbs. The best part? It’s so easy to start and keep up an indoor herb garden, you don’t even need a green thumb to do it. 

    Where to start

    First, decide which herbs would be best to grow and where you’ll keep them. Parsley, cilantro, or basil, are good herbs to start with indoors because they require less sunlight and give obvious signs if they need more or  less water (AKA they’re pretty foolproof). If you get a lot of sunlight through your apartment and are lucky enough to get year-round sunshine, put plants right by the window to get 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. And if you really want to get legit or aren’t sure if you’ll get enough sunlight from the slit they call a window in your studio apartment (guilty), try an indoor Smart Garden.  More