• Valentine's Day Dos and Don'ts

    Don’t let being single get you down.
    Do treat yourself to something special or get together with friends or family.
    Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love, not about having a date.

    Don’t be too festive.
    Do keep it simple.
    Not everything needs to be heart-shaped or red. I once worked with a girl who thought it’d be a good idea to make her boyfriend homemade mac and cheese for Valentine’s Day dinner. Feeling it wasn’t festive enough, she added red dye to the cheese sauce. The resulting color was reminiscent of vomit. Her boyfriend was so repulsed, he refused to eat it.  

    Don’t break up with your significant other.
    Do remain friendly and wait a day or two out of courtesy.
    While honesty is the best policy, breaking up with someone on Valentine’s Day is kind of a heartless move. Unless you’re dealing with extenuating circumstances, you can realistically endure at least one more day together, right?

    Don’t attempt to prepare an elaborate meal.
    Do make something you’re familiar with or perform a dry run first.
    I learned this the hard way during my first Valentine’s day with my boyfriend. I attempted to make steak au poivre for the first time in an unfamiliar kitchen with faulty ventilation. The whole thing resulted in a smoke-filled house, tears, and oil burns on my wrist. By some miraculous twist of fate, the steak came out perfectly. Still, don’t risk it!

    Don’t get overwhelmed with material things.
    Do give gifts from the heart.
    Whether giving or receiving gifts, think outside the heart-shaped box. Gifts that have thought behind them always mean more.

  • Six Lessons Women My Age Can Learn From Frozen

    We celebrated my grandmother’s birthday last night, and in addition to enjoying a Mounds-inspired cake (which I’ll share the recipe for later this week), we all sat down to watch Frozen with her. While this was her first time seeing the movie, this was my third time. In my third viewing, I realized how many of the lessons of Frozen can be applied to life in your twenties. So, I wrote them all out, and even arranged them into a handy acrostic. So, for your reading pleasure, here are six lessons women my age can learn from Frozen.

    Fear will keep you from realizing the beauty of your gifts
    This is probably the biggest theme of Frozen. One of the reasons this movie has been so popular is because this is a message to which everyone can relate. When we’re young, we rarely let fear hinder us. But somewhere along the way, that changes, and we worry about what others will think of us. We stop letting others see our true selves because we’re afraid of being vulnerable.

    This is a message that I find especially useful at this stage in my life. I’m at an age where fear is at every corner. I’ve graduated, and it’s now my responsibility to find a job that will allow me to support myself. As a professional writing major, this is especially difficult. But I have to trust in my talents and not let the fear of failure keep me from achieving my goals. With the job market being what it is, I know that many women my age are in similar situations. As disheartening as it may be, you’ve got to press on and believe in your gifts. 

    Rushing into marriage is not a good idea
    When I was a child, the heroine of Disney princess movies often got married at the ripe age of sixteen and often to someone she barely knew. This stuck in my head as a child, so I thought, “I’ll find true love and be married when I’m sixteen.” But as I got older, I realized just how laughable that idea really was. In Frozen, Anna meets Hans and is engaged to him later that day. When Elsa later points out the obvious, “You can’t marry a man you just met,” she says what’s been on everyone’s minds for years when it comes to Disney princesses.

    After the death of her parents and her isolation from Elsa, Anna is desperate for love. The duet she sings with Hans (“Love Is an Open Door”) really illustrates the way she thinks of love—as an escape. She wants a way out of her current situation, and she knows that marrying a prince would be just the way to do that. Love and marriage really is an open door, but it shouldn’t be a fire escape. Anna sings, “Say goodbye to the pain of the past. We don’t have to feel it anymore,” which really shows her naive view of love. You can’t (and shouldn’t) try to pin all your future happiness on one person. First of all, it’s unfair to expect your significant other to always make you happy. We’re human. We’re not perfect. You’re going to make mistakes, and so are they, but that’s how you grow as a couple. Secondly, you need to have your own life before you decide to share it with another person. Anna, having barely been outside the castle walls, doesn’t know what she wants out of life yet. So many women my age are in a rush to get married because they have this expectation that that’s what they’re “supposed” to do. The Supremes say it best: you can’t hurry love. 

    Other people are affected by your actions
    When Elsa runs away to the mountains, she lets her icy powers loose and inadvertently causes an eternal winter in Arendelle. It’s not until Anna tells her this later that she realizes that her letting go has consequences. By the end of the movie, she’s unashamedly using her powers, yet she’s doing so in a controlled, beneficial way.

    Being in your twenties is very freeing. You’re an adult. You’re free to make your own decisions. But with this freedom comes responsibility, specifically responsibility for your actions. Now, more than ever, you have to realize that the decisions you make affect others. As an adult, you carry more clout than you did when you were young. So while there may be a range of actions to choose from, it’s important to consider which one will help rather than hurt those around you. 

    Zeal is great, but don’t let it blind you
    It’s great to be passionate about something, but you can’t let it get in the way of your better judgment. This is evident in the characters of Hans and the Duke of Weselton, and even, to a certain extent, in Anna. Whatever your future goals may be, at a certain point you have to ask yourself how far you would go to achieve that. If you’re willing to cast aside your morals, friends, or family just to achieve a certain goal, you may want to reevaluate why you’re pursuing that goal in the first place.

    Everyone takes a different path on their life’s journey
    It’s important to remember that not one person’s journey in life is the same as another’s. So while it may be easy to insult a person’s life choices or offer what you think is a better option, know that you can never fully understand what it’s like to be in their situation, no matter what you do. Some glide through life untouched while others grapple with countless problems daily. As Anna learned, you can’t talk your way past a problem. Sometimes people need to learn things for themselves and pull themselves out of the muck. The best thing you can do is offer a helping hand and stand by in case they need it.

    Never forget to show kindness
    There’s a line in the song “Fixer Upper,” that says, “People make bad choices if they’re mad, or scared, or stressed, but throw a little love their way, and you’ll bring out their best.” It’s easy to respond in anger or indignation when someone’s wronged you, but in the long run it’s better for you to respond positively. This is one thing I learned to be true while working at Dunkin Donuts. When a customer was rude, I could have easily returned their rudeness, but that’s just sending more negativity out into the world. Showing kindness isn’t hard, but getting past your own feelings to do so is. It’s an important lesson to nail down in your twenties, because there will be plenty of opportunities to apply this later in life.