Wednesday, August 24, 2022

That time Taylor Swift inspired me to write an essay on cottagecore full of her songs

Exactly two years ago, we were in the grip of a deadly global pandemic, quarantined, and afraid. What got me through that was Taylor Swift and her album Folklore. Her surprise album made news because she used her time trapped indoors to be productive. That really inspired me to write my very first book, Not Invisible, because if Taylor can create something at a time when we were all threatened by destruction, then I can create, too. I felt my mortality acutely so I wanted to leave something behind and that's how I became an author (thanks, Taylor!)

I was also writing for the beauty website, Project Vanity, and being a Swiftie grateful for the creative inspiration, I wanted to write an article about Taylor's new album and new aesthetic and then do a totally Taylor thing - insert Easter eggs into my writing. She said she loved doing this because her writing is the most important thing to her and putting secret clues in her songs makes her fans pay more attention to her writing. So I wrote an article for PV and asked the PV community to look for Taylor's song titles. And they were so happy to find them all!


Here is the unedited article, with 25 song titles! The published version was edited for length and I took out sentences that felt forced so only 16 titles survived the edit. Since it's been 2 years, I decided to share with you the original article and tell me how many you find!

(CLICK "Read more" for the answers with the songs linked to their YouTube vids). 

* * * * * * *

Freckles, focaccia, and Taylor Swift’s Folklore: Have you jumped on the cottagecore aesthetic trend?

Taylor Swift very recently surprised everyone the world over with an indie album made while she was in quarantine. Not only was Folklore completely unannounced until 24 hours before it dropped, but Taylor also debuted a different sound and look. Gone was the dip-dyed blue hair of 2019. Even "that classic red lip thing that I like" - kaput. Instead, we have a bare-faced Taylor, with a mop of unruly blonde curls, clad in an old nightgown, a gingham shift, or a bulky cardigan.

Was Taylor introducing a new style and beauty trend? No. Her Folklore look is nothing new. She just brought it front and center. This aesthetic is called cottagecore and in the age of a global pandemic when everything has changed, it is everything we want.

What is cottagecore? Cottagecore is an online aesthetic that romanticizes the simple life. It’s all about escaping the urban jungle for a cottage in the woods. It’s being lit up by the warm light of a fireplace instead of the cold light of a laptop. It’s being free from the trappings of capitalism and living simply in a state of grace. It’s also been around for a few years, with a cult following on Tumblr and Instagram, but it erupted this year on TikTok when TikTokers stuck at home shared calming videos of baking bread, arranging flowers, and knitting sweaters.

It’s understandable why people are enchanted by cottagecore. Trapped indoors because of the pandemic, a peek at an uncomplicated life where your biggest concern is what herbs from your windowsill garden will go on the focaccia you’re about to put in your oven invokes feelings of being safe and sound. Since we know all too well that the world right now is confusing and terrifying, the cottagecore dream is having a moment.

If you’re unaware of this trend, check your Facebook feed again with eyes open. I see it everywhere on my social media platforms. The plantitas fussing over their plants. The work-from-home guys now baking sourdough bread. The women knitting ear-savers for the frontliners. The style influencers who used to travel the world now posting OOTDs from their gardens.

The cottagecore beauty trend

Of course, cottagecore has a beauty aspect, too. It’s not just Taylor giving off that natural vibe. For her “Daisies” music video, pop star Katy Perry is barefoot and pregnant in a white lace dress, with her black roots showing through her blonde locks. Singer, feminist, and activist Halsey is happy at home, posting selfies of her freckle-filled cheeks and wild curls. Star of Stranger Things and Enola Holmes Millie Bobby Brown basks in the daylight with her dogs, her hair loose or in braids, her flawless skin without a stitch of makeup.

What this means for us regular folk is a focus on skincare and haircare! A big reason why celebrities and influencers can get away with the cottagecore look is their skin and hair are gorgeous. They use the best pampering products because their career means they can never be invisible.

We don’t have to buy the same expensive stuff to stay beautiful, however. A regular skincare regimen of cleansing, toning, moisturizing, and protecting is forever and always the simplest and best beauty secret. Because we have a lot of time now, go a little extra in loving your skin and hair.  For example, weekends are dedicated to me! That's when I put sheet masks for dewy skin, I deep condition my hair, and do my own mani and pedi. Since quarantine started, I don’t remember the last time I used my blowdryer so my hair’s really been feeling soft and amazing.

While cottagecore is all about showing off bare skin, a makeup lover doesn’t have to despair. Tinted lip gloss is a big deal, so are natural brows and delicate lashes. If I must wear makeup for Zoom meetings, I like wearing CC cream with a glossy lippie and cream blush in dusky rose hues. I use brown eyeliner, brown mascara, and brown brow pencil because cottagecore colors are browns, beiges, and warm pinks. My freckles have faded (thanks, anti-aging creams!) and at my age, freckles mean sun damage but I can easily fake freckles by using brown liquid eyeliner.

Of course, we can all just jump on the cottagecore bandwagon as an escape from what has been a truly cruel summer (and beyond) of living with the novel coronavirus. But this trend has given me an epiphany. I hope cottagecore makes us all aspire for a way of life that is built on self-sufficiency and sustainability. We don’t literally have to live in a cottage in or out pf the woods. Growing our own food in our urban backyards, baking our own bread, even repurposing and making our own clothes - these are signs that we can begin again, but this time in a truly mindful and meaningful way.

* * * * * * *

How many did you find? 

CLICK "Read more" FOR THE TITLES!

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Can I afford a new car?

Did you know our car is as old as my eldest son? He's 12 this year and so we've had our Zoom-Zoom (that's what we named our little Mazda 2) for a dozen years! Since we live within 5 kilometers of everything we need, our mileage is pretty low. Even before the pandemic, my husband and I have been working from home and we only used the car on weekends, when the family needed to go out. And then the last 3 years happened when the whole world stayed home.  

So Zoom-Zoom runs perfectly well, is still shiny, and has new tires. It's still practically perfect!


And yet my husband says it's time to buy a new car. In this economy? With the skyrocketing gas prices? In a pandemic when we're all working and studying from home anyway? Yes. Because our boys will be teenagers soon and (1) they won't fit in our little car and (2) they're going to need a car for all the busy activities of teenage life.

Naturally, the car that we're buying next will be an electric car. I'd like to say we're woke (yes, let's save the planet) but the real reason is cost. The electricity used to charge an electric car is cheaper than the cost for gasoline. And, yes, let's save the planet!

Even Bloomberg says that 2022 is the year to buy an electric car. While an EV is still not the most popular kind of vehicle that drives down our roads, with the rising gas prices and climate change, if we must buy a car, the car to buy should be electric because that's the future. Plus, Bloomberg points out that "The average length of time drivers hold onto new vehicles is 6 years [it's not 12???]. So if you're buying a new vehicle in 2022, you should be thinking about the market for used cars in 2028 or later."



So my husband and I were looking at According to Tatler, these electric vehicles (EVs) are available here:

Nissan Leaf - Php 2.8 million
BYD E6 - Php 4.2 million
Porsche Taycan - Php 4.3 million
Lexus RX 450h - Php 5.4 million
Jaguar I-Pace - Php 7.6 million

Whew! 

Let me just say that when we bought Zoom-Zoom in 2010, we did not even breach the 1 million mark and were able to pay in cash. But with those prices mentioned above, how we can afford a new EV on top of all our current living expenses? The kids' tuition alone is daunting. And here we are thinking of adding a car loan to our expenditures!

Luckily I found an online tool that gives me an idea of how we can pay for a new car: https://www.carpaymentcalculator.net

The calculator works with just about any scenario, whether it's a new or used car, whether you trade in or not, etc. I like the site because the calculator makes everything instant. I can quickly see the amount I need to pay for monthly installments. For example, if I choose to get the Nissan Leaf, it will look like this:


Actually, I'm not sure about all those figures yet. I need to check with the bank on what the correct rates are. But let's just say those are the numbers and I can confidently say that I can't afford a new car this year hahahahaha

Good heavens. So thank you, Car Payment Calculator, for letting me know this sobering fact right now. 

Still, if ever we do buy a new car, it will definitely be electric!


*Photo by Eren Goldman on Unsplash

Saturday, July 02, 2022

7 kinds of kisses

I love when he hugs me from the back, with his arms around my waist, and he twists my head to kiss him. So hot.

Photo by Dainis Graveris

I love when he sniff-kisses my neck like a grandma and murmurs, "Mmm. You smell good." So sexy.

Photo by Kadarius Seegars

I love when his hands are in my hair. He rarely does this. He's a body hugger, not a head-grabber. But the few times he's done this, I was thrilled no end.
Photo by Dainis Graveris

I love hugs, too. I'm a huge hugger! The bigger, the tighter, the better. I like being swallowed up in his arms. I feel safe and loved. And I like to feel his heartbeat on my cheek and his kiss in my hair. It feels like home.
Photo by Becca Tapert

I love ambush kisses while we're working, cooking, doing chores. He doesn't because he doesn't like getting distracted when he's focused. So I always attack him with hugs and kisses while our kids look at us, mortified and laughing at their yucky parents. So funny!
Photo by Toa Heftiba

I love licks. He thinks we're about to kiss and then I quickly lick him and he yelps. He always protests. I like it when he protests and he says, "You're so kulit!" But I can see that no matter how kulit I get, he'll never get mad at me. It's my superpower. He never gets mad at me.
Photo by Mia Harvey

I love when we laugh while kissing. Even though teeth get involved. It's so fun. Laughing while kissing the one I love. Can anything be better?

I love kisses!