Isolated Glow Up

Nothing in this post should be taken as medical advice. Please contact your doctor before making changes to diet or lifestyle.

Like a lot of people, I have been in my home due to the virus. There has been a lot of discussion about “glow up” during this time, which is an encouraging idea for bettering health during a time where it’s likely people would likely be depressed, anxious and over eating.

I have taken part in both sides of this. Early in the isolation, we definitely over ate and I gained weight and felt pretty bad about treating my body so badly. After a couple weeks of damaging our health, Ryan and I sat down and committed to holding each other accountable for our eating habits. Unfortunately during a bout of painful cramps and heavy bleeding I broke down and ate a fair amount of ice cream and Ryan has allowed himself cheat meals, something perhaps I should have also done to avoid eating a massive bowl of ice cream.

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I have lost ten pounds since we started taking care of ourselves again. Mostly due to cutting down sugar. I am very bad once something is in the house. If there is pop in the fridge I will always reach for it before water. My coffee and tea both get a heavy handful of sugar. So Ryan hid the pop from me and I have avoided tea and coffee since we started this diet. This has always been a reliable way for me to the control of my diet when I fall off the wagon, which happens more often than I would like to admit. Cutting out drinkable sugar is a massive change, not to mention kicking caffeine at the same time. The first three days can be difficult as my brain is pounding, screaming for caffeine and my mouth adjusts to the real food that doesn’t taste of salt and sugar.

My water consumption went from 8-10 oz a day to 16-24 oz of water a day. Some people would say that isn’t enough water, but for me, that’s all I can make myself drink unless I go for a very long walk. I also went back to an old favourite of mine. Chicken and Rice soup. With very low amounts of sugar, sodium and carbs it is a fairly good meal for weight loss for me. I try to eat fruit and vegetables every day for nutrients, but the majority of my consumed calories is in the form of soup. I chose to use way too much water in my soup to fill my stomach without adding more calories, which works very well at subduing my appetite.

My daily reading has also increased a fair amount. I normally get to sit and read for half an hour to an hour a day, but now I get to read up to two hours a day, which is really good for keeping my anxiety lower.

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I’ve also taken a lot more time to caring for my skin. It is recommended that people in isolation bathe daily, which has lead to a drastic increase in baths for me. I take my bath time to do my skin care, as a lot of my products need to sit on the skin for a little while to be effective. So I get to relax, chug some water, treat my skin to hydrating treatments and twice a week to exfoliation as well as twice a week microneedling. My skin is much clearer, less pigmented and my fine lines and dark circles have been improving.

Exercise. I wish I could say I’m doing well with this, but every time I go for a walk the bones in my feet get very angry and my left foot swells up for a couple days. I know that this is because my sneakers don’t fit the shape of my feet well. They are very cool rainbow nike sneakers that I received as a gift that are pretty darn good gym shoes, but unfortunately after about an hour of walking in them, my feet just don’t like them. I would love to get different shoes, but as the stores are closed, I can’t try on the sneakers which is very important to me. I can go for shorter walks, under 7000 steps per walk, which aren’t nearly as effective for weight loss.

As for exercising at home, in my apartment building I have two families with young children who live under me who complain immediately if I do any exercise in my home. This seems a little unfair as I don’t call and complain about their screaming children who jump around and shake my floor all day, but unless I want to be evicted, I can’t do much in my home.

So I believe this time, while unfortunate, has given me some time to focus on my own health, both mental and physical. I recognize I am lucky in a lot of ways during this time as my fiancé has worked under essential employment during this time. I realize I am lucky to have a partner I can talk to every day and family I can call. We have devised ways to play games online with all our friends together and I have definitely FaceTimed with friends to have a drink together. I believe we will come out of this time with a lot more appreciation for the people in our daily lives and the freedoms we often take for granted. I know this is a very optimistic view of the situation, but thinking about the dark side of it all makes me very anxious so I am trying to focus on silver linings.

Let me know what you’ve been doing during this time and leave suggestions for things to do in the comments!

A Tour Of My Desk

My desk, like many peoples, is my central command. It’s where most of my day is spent and for that reason it’s important that it’s a comfortable space for me. For the purposes of being honest, I did not clean up or tidy up before taking pictures, as that would feel disingenuous.

Eva Blakeman – My Desk Tour

From left to right I will go over my desk and talk about the things that are on it. First up is my trusty water bottle that follows me every minute of every day. I started doing this years ago to ensure I was drinking more water and not reaching for a pop or juice in the fridge. By always having it with me, I naturally reach for it. I do often use Mio to flavour my water as I am not a natural water craving person.

OPI avojuice hand lotion. This has been a staple hand cream in my home since I was a kid. My mother loved it and passed that love onto me. It smells great, has a light texture and it just makes me happy.

My pile of sticky notes. In the interest of honesty there were a lot more sticky notes stuck to the bottom of my computer, but I took them down for privacy reasons. The bottom of my computer and the wall beside my desk is always covered in sticky notes that vary from deadlines, ideas, projects and the odd quote. I do colour code them, pink being for this blog. Yellow is for podcasts (to listen to OVP click here). Green is for appointments and orange and blue are for everything else. I like my little system even though it often looks messy.

My stapler is hidden behind the sticky notes, but my calculator gets an incredible amount of use. Yes I know my computer has a calculator, but as I do my budgeting and everything else at my desk, it’s just faster to use a physical calculator.

My jar of pens. Once again, there is colour coding at work here. Black is for non specifics, purple is for the blog, red is for YouTube videos (you can check out my channel by clicking here). Blue is for work schedules. The colours don’t match the sticky notes, but I did bring in the pen system before the sticky note system.

Eva Blakeman – Desk Tour

Continuing from left to right. My sketchbook is always waiting for me to make weird doodles or sketch designs in. Lately I’ve been doing water colour paintings in it. Under the plant stand lives my lip balms and nail polishes. I do often put my polish on while typing as I don’t touch my nails to the keyboard as I type so they dry quickly and don’t smudge while I’m still be productive. Un top of the plant stand lives a Kalanchoe named Kal. I like having plants around but I limited myself to only one on my desk. Beside this is a stack of stencils I use in my bullet journals (which I may or may not have left fairly blank before taking pictures, once again for privacy reasons). In the there level paper shelf, there is no paper. It holds a lot of tabs, washi tape, almonds, pistachios, sticky notes, glass cleaning cloths and odd bits and pieces. The two bullet journals both serve different purposes. The one on top is my schedule for my personal life and content creation as well as where I log things like car maintenance and birthdays. The one underneath is where my budget and work schedule live. I will not be showing that one, but I do actually stack them like this to save space on my desk while still having access to them.

There it is. The unglamorous desk of a blogger. It’s not fancy, and as you can see by the laptop behind my computer, we share an office. Our desks are back to back so while we’re in the office we can see each other and communicate easily. I would show you the whole office, but at this moment it is too disorganized to do so. As the office has a closet without doors, it’s where we put pretty much everything that doesn’t have a home which has lead to piles of boxes, supplies, salt and suitcases. One day maybe I’ll give an office tour, which would be nice because we have so many neat things in here.

I hope you enjoyed it and perhaps you feel less bad about the state of your own office. Yes it’s important to be clean, but organization is a commitment my office and I have yet to make. I hope to see you in the comments!

Trying A Bunch Of Hot Sauces

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This past week Ryan and I decided to taste increasingly hot hot sauces together and it was a ride. Though I didn’t seem to get any ill effects from the challenge, Ryan has a bit of a harder time. It was fun nonetheless.


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No Joke hot sauce is not what I would call a hot sauce. It was packed full of flavours that were incredibly reminiscent of salsa. I would be excellent to add to a salsa to add more flavour without any heat.

Red Hot Sauce is a staple for a lot of people. For those who haven’t tried it, it has a very strong vinegar flavour that pairs well with pork and butter. Not a lot of heat as it sits at 450 SHU. I personally find the vinegar flavour effects me a lot more than the heat in this sauce.

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Siracha, also known as rooster sauce, has a wonderful spicy flavour with a smooth but bumpy texture. It pairs very well with mild cheeses and deli meats, making it a great addition to charcuterie boards. It comes in at 2200 SHU.

Dirty Dicks Hot Sauce may have a vulgar name, but it’s flavour is great. Perfect to add to your burger with its citrus and sweet flavours paired with good heat. Almost tasting of roasted pineapples it is just delicious. It comes in at 21000 SHU.

Son Of Zombie comes in at 24000 SHU and it comes packing with a strong, rich flavour. A honey garlic with a kick kind of taste that would go well with just about anything!


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Karma was a surprise to us. We ordered the sauces online and they sent it to us for free.It is marketed as a butternut squash flavour but I tasted more fruity sweetness that would pair very well with pork. It came in at 56000 SHU.

Bravado Black Garlic Carolina Reaper sauce tastes nothing like garlic, but did have a fairly strong barbecue sauce scent and flavour. It holds itself at 71000 SHU which is considered to be fairly high for the average person.

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Zombie Apocalypse had a great creamy texture and a really rounded out flavour with carrots and and orange really peaking through the habanero and buht joloka peppers. It sits at 100000 SHU and while it has some kick to it, I would recommend it on a chicken burger. The greasiness of the chicken would pair beautifully with this sauce.

Torchbearer Garlic Reaper Sauce has the best blend of garlic and Carolina reaper peppers. It was smooth, savoury and really had a good kick of heat. I can’t imagine the possibilities when pairing this with foods. It does come in at 116000 SHU so the heat might be a little high for the average consumer, but for hot sauce lovers, it is amazing.

Overall I love spicy foods and hot sauces because they make a simple meal into something incredible. Ryan may have suffered more than me during our look into hot sauces but I look forward to trying hotter sauces down the line.

My New Normal

Being holed up at home, my routine has become an incredibly important to me. A sense of routine and normalcy has been helping me stay calm and remain organized. I am the kind of person who needs goals and tasks to stay focused, so structuring a new routine for myself to stay focused has been important to my mental and physical health.

I have filled this post with pictures of my favourite places to hike as they make me feel calmer, I hope they do the same for you.

I wake up at 7:00 AM and on days when Ryan works (he has been deemed essential, which is a scary position these days) that means going directly to the kitchen to start the kettle for his “on the drive” tea or coffee. If he isn’t working that day, I skip this step and go directly to the washroom, wash my face, brush my teeth and brush out my hair before tossing it into a scrunchy bun.

Due to being concerned about weight gain during this time, (I gained about 10 pounds during the first month of being at home full time) I have been very careful to watch what I’m eating and when I am eating. I don’t eat until 10:00 AM so until then I drink between 16oz to 24oz of ice water. During this time I look at potential jobs, emails and messages. Not to mention taking advantage of the Pokemon Go gym that is within range of my apartment.

At 10:00 AM I make myself some Chicken and Rice soup. Not really a breakfast food, but I add extra water to it to make it more filling. I could eat soup every meal of the day, and at this point I almost do. Once I’ve eaten I look at my weekly to do list. Most days I pick a room to rip apart for some deep cleaning and do the laundry as needed. Once my daily cleaning is done I stand out on my balcony and get some fresh air and to see something other than my walls. I really think this time is important for me. Feeling the breeze on my face while overlooking the park that my building backs onto feels very human.

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In order to have a reasonable amount of exercise daily I’ve been doing barre workouts in my kitchen, following instructors on YouTube and doing my daily stretches. I would recommend trying it if you want your abs, glutes and legs to get a really good workout. Within a few minutes of the plies I am sweating and I love it. I can’t really do any of the jumping exercises as I live on the top floor of an apartment building and my down stairs neighbours complain that we walk too loudly, so I can’t imagine how insane it would drive them to have me jumping around.

With such a vast amount of time on my hands, I have been doing a lot more nail care, so most days I push my cuticles and moisturize them. I keep them painted to stop them from breaking and my nails are longer and healthier than I can remember them being.

Around 4:00 PM I have a small bowl of almonds and pistachios to keep my going until dinner. Around this time I often set up my equipment and film for my Youtube Channel. Once I’m done filming I spend some time editing the video and creating a thumbnail for it.

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By this time Ryan comes home, which means it’s time to relax. I have my second soup as he eats his dinner and we get comfortable on the couch to watch Supernatural together. It’s Ryans first time watching the show so it’s a lot of fun hearing his theories as to what he thinks is going to happen.

I was reading about mental health in isolation and it recommended daily bathing, so most evenings I take a bath. I often do a face mask and do my evening skin care routine while soaking in the water. It has been very relaxing for me and I feel it has been very helpful in keeping me more relaxed and my skin is certainly a lot happier now that it’s getting oil massages and hydration masks more often.

I do try to stay in contact with people daily to reduce my feelings of isolation during this time. I call family members and text friends to feel connection with other people.

I am very grateful to be in a position where I can afford to be under isolation. We have cut back a lot of our spending to ensure we would be okay. As I don’t leave the house, it means less fuel being purchased in our household and has eliminated opportunistic purchasing for me. No more coffee from Tim Hortons, eating at restaurants, picking up junk food or going to social outings. This has hugely affected our budgeting, allowing more money to go into savings and rainy day funds. Though isolation is uncomfortable, I am happy to stay at home to flatten the curve.

Vaping – Is It Better Than Smoking?

Let me start this off saying this is all purely opinion based, please do not take anything as medical advice as I am not a doctor. I do not advocate for tobacco or nicotine consumption, I am simply telling you my personal experience with the two methods of nicotine consumption.

I smoked for just shy of a decade. I smoked a pack a day or more for most of that time and I can tell you that decade has really damaged my body. I had the “smoker cough” for the last couple years of my time with cigarettes, I would sometimes cough up blood and I always had mucus stuck in my throat. All in all, the side effects were incredibly gross.

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The social side of smoking was often really fun though, I met a lot of people and had a lot of great conversations in smoke pits. The downside of smoking became more apparent as I hung out with non-smokers. I realized how much of an inconvenience my habit could be, especially when going on dates with Ryan when we started dating. We would be driving in my car and he couldn’t put his drink into the holder because my drink and ash tray took the two cup holders. When we were walking downtown I would want a cigarette and I would often not be done my cigarette as we were coming up to our destination, so he would wait in the Alberta cold winter for me to finish my smoke. I smoked in my home and more than once I burned holes into my pants. As we had more people in my home, I realized how much all of our non-smoker friends disliked the smell, but being in my home, they couldn’t really say anything about it. I started smoking on my balcony when people were over to make them more comfortable, which isolated me from my guests.

Now I realize I just threw a lot of negative points about cigarette smoking, and that’s because there isn’t a lot of benefits to it, and that’s coming from a smoker. Aside from the social aspect to smoking, there isn’t much good about it.

Onto vaping. When I switched to vaping, I started with Salt Nic, which I used with very low voltage and didn’t have the big cloud of vapour. I moved from 60ml to 3ml in a couple months and within a month or so my smoker cough and blood coughing stopped. I stopped having to make Ryan wait for me to go anywhere, I stopped burning holes in my pants but new issues came up. I have to wash my windows in my office at least once a week because the residue from the vapour is sticky and clouds up my windows quickly. From my smoking lungs to my vaping lungs, I get winded more quickly now and my lungs burn faster when I’m doing stairs or working out. It certainly isn’t a “cheaper” option. Replacing modules, batteries, coils and broken glass costs a fair amount. The cloud of vapour that comes from my mouth certainly fills a room quickly and if I’m absentmindedly using it, I’ll look up and realize I can’t clearly see the door across the room. The residue sticks to everything in my home, no surface is safe and my curtains feel disgusting within a couple weeks. Health-wise I haven’t felt a lot of side effects aside from a shortness of breath, but I have only been vaping for about a year and half. I originally thought I would be able to ween myself off of nicotine using a vape, but I have failed every time I have tried. I don’t personally believe vaping is a method of quitting smoking, I believe its a way of not taking smoke into your lungs to get nicotine.

I should say I used chewing tobacco for many years and chewed nicotine gum this summer, so I am pretty well versed in the immediate side effects of nicotine intake methods. Chewing tobacco obviously meant spitting often, which as you can imagine is not a socially acceptable thing to do. The gum hurt my teeth like you wouldn’t believe and gave me terrible heartburn.

So is vaping better than smoking? In my opinion, yes. I don’t smell like cigarettes, I don’t make Ryan wait for me, my car smells nice again. I don’t burn holes into my pants and I don’t wake up coughing to the point I throw up. Vaping has health risks, so I won’t ever say it’s a “safe way to smoke”, but in my experience, it has been an improvement in my quality of life.

100 Posts Later – Staying Home and Being Productive

About a year and a half ago I started this website to give myself a place to write for others, try to provide information and at times, humour for other people. Well my 100th post came out a couple days ago, making this my 101st. This one is a life update of sorts. Talking about projects we are working on and things we want to start after this whole worldwide issue has been resolved.

This time has been stressful for everyone, but instead of focusing on all the stress and fear, I want to talk about the good things that have been happening. I have an autoimmune disease, so I am a little more nervous about current events right now, so I haven’t left my home in weeks at this point. That may seem like something that would drive me nuts, but I like my home and I’ve spent years making it into a comfortable space I am happy in.

I got to start new plants. Just before the isolation recommendations went out, I picked up some pots and herb seeds. During these weeks I have watched my Thyme, Green Onions and parsley burst through the soil and grow like weeds. It has been a lovely experience as I haven’t grown herbs before nor have I gotten anything to grow from a seed so this is a double win.

Working on videos. About a month ago I went hard on filming videos for my YouTube channel, which resulted in a catalogue of videos to edit and upload. During these weeks inside, I have convinced Ryan to do a lot of videos with me as well so I’ve spent a lot of time recording and editing lately, which has kept me kinda busy.

Working on the podcast. For those of you who don’t know, Ryan has a podcast ( Optimist vs Pessimist) that we also pre-recorded for due to schedule changes, which happens to have been a very lucky thing. So editing those and getting them online has also been a good project to keep us busy. Because Optimist vs Pessimist is a nerdy podcast, I have had the opportunity to jump in a few times to chime in on Marvel and DC as well as hosting trivia for the boys. Though we can’t record any new episodes for a while due to the Optimist (Ryans friend Carlos) not being a resident in our home it shouldn’t be too long of a break due to all the recording we did a couple weeks ago.

Writing this blog. I love writing here as it gives me an outlet to share information and satisfy my desires to write. I’ve written 100 posts on this blog already, which is amazing to me. It doesn’t seem to me like I’ve written anywhere near that much, but here we are! I do wish I was a little more consistent with my writing, but lately I’ve just felt really drained and anxious, which makes it much harder to get content out of my brain and onto the blog.

Baking. I love baking and have since I was a little girl, and as much as it’s nice to have the free time to bake, I also have to stop myself from baking often. Because there is only two of us in this home and there is no good argument for eating bread, cake and cookies daily, I have to limit my time in the kitchen. Usually I take advantage of our weekly company to bake, providing treats for our guests and limiting our intake of calories, but without the ability to push my food into the stomachs of others, I just can’t convince myself it is reasonable to eat that much sugar.

Video Games. Ryan and I have spent a lot of time in the evenings playing video games together. By together I mean I play my game on the Switch as he plays the Soulsborne games on the PS4. Yesterday I convinced Ryan to stream himself playing Dark Souls 3, so if you are a fan of watching that kind of gameplay, click here to get to his Twitch channel (I am in the background as he plays, commenting and talking about previous Dark Souls and From Software games). Aside from streaming Dark Souls, we have been playing Jack Box games with our friends because we have the games on our PS4 and our friends can play on their phones in their own homes. To make the best of it, we live stream the game to Twitch for them to play with us and have an open Discord voice channel to talk to each other. It has been a great way to be social without endangering anyone.

All in all, we have been trying to make the best of a bad situation and doing our very best to follow the social distancing measures put in place. I don’t want to see this spread any further and if the best thing to do is to stay at home, then that is what I am going to do.

Let me know what you have been doing to keep yourself entertained during this time and please feel free to share advice for others.

Things To Do At Home

During this most unfortunate time, most people are smartly staying indoors to avoid coming into contact with and spreading the COVID 19 virus. It’s sad not to be able to go visit your grandparents, parents or friends during this time, but it is crucial that people don’t come into contact with others if it can be avoided to reduce the spread and ultimately, reduce casualties. That all being said, it is important to keep busy least boredom take over us all.

Twitch Streaming

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If you want to “hang out” with your friends. Set up a twitch stream of an interactive game like a chose your own adventure and as a team decide what steps to take. If I am not mistaken, games like Dungeons and Dragons could also be played remotely via video conference or Twitch with the Dungeon Master as the video host. In the case where individuals do not own the die, simulators can be used, or the master can roll for everyone.

Write

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It seems like a simple thing to do, but with most people being so incredibly busy in their lives, they often don’t sit down and write about how they are feeling, positive things in their lives or even a recipe book. Writing is a calming activity and if you have kids in the house and Paw Patrol is driving you insane, start writing about topics you enjoy to block out the endless noises that come from children shows. I find writing in my bullet journal to be very relaxing.

Bake

Once again, time is often the enemy of passion. A lot of people I know love to bake but often don’t have the time after work to throw together some treats. Practice your piping skills! Make some cookies! Try a new recipe you’ve never made before. Try your hand at making your own bread and enjoy the fruit of your labours.

Clean

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No time to do a super deep clean of your home like weeks stuck in it. This will help mentally in a way, as a clean home without clutter helps reduce stress and makes your home more comfortable to live in. Take this opportunity to steam clean your couches, mattresses and carpets. Wash all the bedding, scrub the walls and wash the inside of your refrigerator.

Practice Yoga

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Since going to the gym is a risk of exposure and spreading the virus, keeping your body moving and happy is important, not to mention the added side effect of yoga being relaxing in this time of extreme stress and anxiety. Youtube has a plethora of yoga instructional videos to follow, and bonus, kids can do it too. Don’t expect to become a yogi overnight, be patient with yourself and try to push yourself a little (not too much).

Call Your Family

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Visiting may pose a health concern, but a phone call is a safe way to stay up to date with their lives. I can bet your grandparents would be happy to hear from you. Though this time is difficult, through the magic of the internet and phones, staying in contact has never been easier.

Play Video Games

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PC, PS4, XBOX, Switch, what ever your pleasure. With such a broad collection of game play styles, there really is something for everyone. I am partial to turn based RPG games, such as the Final Fantasy series, Pokemon and Xenosaga. If you are looking for a challenge, I recommend any of the From Software games. Dark Souls, Bloodborne and Sekiro are all challenging games that may frustrate players, but with each boss win comes a huge sense of satisfaction. For multiplayer games, there is always Rocket League, Mario Party, Crash Team Racing and Call Of Duty.

Read

There are a lot of books on my shelves waiting to be read, and I have to imagine a lot of others have little stacks waiting for them too. Pick up a new book or re-read an old favourite. If you don’t feel like reading a story, study something new! openstax.org is a great resources for free textbooks to study from. Personally I’m reading up on basic chemistry and really enjoying dipping my toes back into the subject.

Bubble Baths and Face Masks

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Take the time to soak in a nice warm tub with a book and a face mask on and feel the stress in your neck and back start to soak away. If you don’t have any face masks in your home, you can make one. For a quick mask you can mix honey and a little cinnamon together. Leave this on for 10 – 20 minutes then rinse it off. Another quick and easy mask to make takes a teaspoon of honey, a half teaspoon of aloe vera and a half teaspoon of coconut oil. Rub it into the face until it feels tacky, let it sit a few minutes and rinse off.

Organize

After the long winter months, we tend to nestle into our homes. Now is a good time to start organizing your cupboards, putting away the throw blankets and going through your closets. An organized kitchen runs more smoothly and an organized closet means not searching for items you could have sworn were there.

Learn New Things

As I said before, there are free textbooks available online, but not everyone likes to sit an read dry material. Here is a list of great YouTube channels that entertain while they educate! If sciences aren’t your interest, there are countless beauty guru channels, baking channels, nail art channels as well as countless other topics to learn about in video format.

Get Nerdy

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On the topic of videos, there are a lot of comic book related videos on YouTube. Who doesn’t want to hear about every supervillain that has never died in cannon? There is always new Smash Ultimate videos coming out and there are endless channels that do in depth character reviews for both DC and Marvel characters.

Binge

Though it isn’t the most productive thing, binge watching a good TV show can certainly eat up a couple days. If you like anime I would recommend Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood as it has one of the most compelling storylines I’ve ever watched. Death Note and Hunter Hunter are also great choices.

Vlog

Share what’s going on in video form to keep family and friends informed or entertained. Share what you’ve been doing to keep yourself safe or busy. Share resources you’ve found with others and activities for kids. If you want you could share some jokes or just talk about what ever is on your mind.

Get Artistic

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Pick up your old paintbrush, pencils or stylus and make something great. Try a create a cartoon strip or a beautiful landscape, it’s up to you. Write a poem and share it or a song and record it. Throw on your headphones and dance around the house if you’re up for it.

Card and Board Games

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If you share a living space with others, organize some activities to keep you all entertained. Crazy 8s is always a favourite card game and board games can take hours that could be spent scrolling and turns them into hours of fun. If you have drinks available in your home, share a couple and make a night of it.

If you have advice or suggestions to add, please do so in the comments!

Eva Blakeman – Things To Do At Home

LGBTQ+ Groups And Resources In Edmonton

Pride Center Of Edmonton

If you want to get involved with volunteering, need resources or are looking for a safe place, the Pride Centre of Edmonton is a great place to be. With varied events and programs that include counselling, roundtables, book clubs and welcoming newcomers events this centre is dedicated to being a safe and open space.

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The Rainbow Pages

This LGBTQ+ website acts as a direct resource for youth. With information regarding transgender support, upcoming events, non-discriminatory churches and more. It is an excellent source to find LGBTQ+ information.

Edmonton Gaycities

This website is designed to guide adults to LGBTQ+ safe bars, restaurants, shops and more. A great resource for visitors and locals alike.

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Team Edmonton

Team Edmonton is a great resource for activities throughout the year. With a strong belief that every one should be able to take part in sports, games and artistic pursuits it strives to maintain a safe environment where everyone can have fun.

YESS

YESS is the Youth Empowerment and Support Services in Edmonton. They provide short term emergency shelter and security for youth as well as daytime programs that include medical care, counselling and organizing for long term care. They also help with legal advocacy and human services. They are always in need of adult volunteers who are non-discriminatory.

Youth Line

This website allows content via calls, text and online chat with peer support for LGBTQ+ youth. Though this resource is based out of Toronto, it is available to all. They are not counsellors, but they are trained to help with questioning gender identity and/or sexual orientation, coming out, mental health, relationships, social isolation and more.

Edmonton is not yet an entirely accepting or tolerant city, but more safe spaces exist each year. If you are looking for more groups or social activities that are inclusive, check the Facebook groups for the region and you will find a lot of people who want the same. No one wants to feel left out or be marginalized, which is why more and more resources and locations are loudly promoting themselves as safe spaces. I hope this list was helpful and if I can find more resources I will update this post.

Second Hand Has Never Been Better

Like many people, I don’t particularly like spending a lot of money, mostly because it’s hard to come by and easy to spend. Essentials cost more today than they ever had and since we can’t change the cost of fuel, food and rent, we can reduce the cost of clothing, books and other miscellaneous things. In an age where the internet exists, we don’t even need to leave the couch to go thrift shopping.

Value Village

This iconic company does inflate their prices, but does keep their prices low enough to create a savings margin for the customer. With their wide range of stock you can find a lot of great things there. I’ve bought many purses, shoes, shirts and kitchen wear there. I don’t think a single item has ever been more than $13.99 in my purchasing history, though no doubt there are items that likely do cost more.

ThreadUp

This online retailer deals in secondhand women’s and childrens clothing. With shirts and shoes going as low as $2.99 USD it really is a good place to save a few coins on essentials. Not all pieces on the site are so low in price, as designer wear can be quite expensive, but still sold at an incredible discount compared to its shop prices. The most expensive item I ever purchased from this site was a pair of Jeffrey Campbell Litas, which were in excellent condition and came in at $49.99 USD. Most often my items come in at under ten dollars. Don’t forget shipping costs when you are ordering. They tend to be fairly low but still worth remembering.

Thrift Books

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This site is exactly what you would think it is. An online secondhand bookstore. One must be careful to read the condition of the books before ordering though. Like eBay, “good” doesn’t mean a conventional good. “Good’ means it probably isn’t missing pages, but is very obviously damaged. That being said, I ordered an entire series of books and saved about thirty dollars in doing so. I really do think this is an excellent way to get your hands on books if you aren’t the library type.

Between these three locations you can get just about anything you need at a fraction of the price! Need a new pot? Value village! Pair of pants? ThredUp! Looking for the next novel to fall in love with? Thrift Books! I can’t even explain how much I love second hand. Not only is it more environmentally friendly to re-use, but you can save a lot of money by going secondhand.

An Open Letter To A Teenage Me

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Dear Eva,

The world is a hard place, and it doesn’t owe you anything. You can work hard, stay late, take initiative and still fail. You can diet and exercise and still fail. You can love and be loved and have it end. You can try as hard as you want, but failure is always an option. There is an upside though, life isn’t just filled with darkness, because you can get up, wipe yourself off and try again.

There are a lot of hard times coming your way, a lot of friendships you thought would last a lifetime are going to end very abruptly and it is going to be very difficult to build new friendships. You are thinking of going to college and I beg you, please do not bother putting yourself in debt for an arts diploma. If you are going to invest in your education, please invest it in something that has broad career possibilities attached. Your arts diploma has never gotten you anywhere, in fact you are still struggling under the weight of student debt because of your shortsightedness.

Let’s talk about attitude. You are prove to believing that you are capable of slipping yourself through any door, wether it be open or closed, and it may have worked well so far, but it won’t anymore. You have to prove yourself to get anything, and no one is going to give you what you want without a steep price. You are arrogant, self centred and rude, get over yourself, you are not better than anyone by a long shot. Humble yourself and learn to learn from others without feeling like you have to prove that you are clever. On that note, no one is ever going to think you’re the smartest person in the room, so get the idea that you are out of your head.

Gasoline is expensive, cars are expensive, rent is expensive, bills are expensive… save your money and don’t waste it on pizza, poutine and rum. Be smart with your bank account and set saving goals as soon as you can. You never know when a rainy day will hit and you will regret not being smarter with your money.

Lean into love. Love your body, love your family, love your friends. Learn to love mundane jobs, chores and errands. Being miserable about the necessities in life, you are establishing a miserable life. Treat yourself with small things when you feel down, it is an investment in your happiness. Call your mom every week or so, she worries about you.

Don’t invest time in people who mistreat you, habits that are destructive and places that won’t help build you. Learn the value of positive people and habits, as they will help you live a happier life.

I don’t know what else to say to you, but please be humble and accept help when it is offered. Offer help to others, spend time painting and please live a productive life.

Love, Eva