9 Things To Do At Home Alone For Introverts (Or Quarantined Extroverts).

9 Things To Do At Home Alone For Introverts (Or Quarantined Extroverts).

I had started working on this post pre-quarantine, but put it on the backburner. Now, more than ever, it seems relevant though, so here we go! A list of fun, solo activities you can do while quarantined at home (besides making terrible music videos, of course).

I am definitely an introvert. I really feel for my extrovert friends right now. People who don’t know me well will challenge me on this “you’re always out!”you go to so many events!!!” “you’re definitely NOT shy!” YES but that is for work. At the end of the day, being an introvert or extrovert is all about how you recharge your batteries and what gives you energy vs. what leaves you feeling depleted. If you get your energy from being around other people, you are an extrovert (AGAIN my heart goes out to you right now, I’m an introvert and I’m going crazy!). If you recharge by being alone, you are an introvert. And of course no one is fully both… I’m probably an ambivert (a mix) or an “extroverted introvert.”

Regardless, today I wanted to share some cozy things that you can do at home alone. Hopefully, this post is helpful for everyone!!!! I joke that I’ve been preparing for quarantine my whole life as I love being home alone indoors BUT that’s making light of the situation. I think regardless of our personality types, we are ALL struggling.

Things to Do At Home Alone For Introverts

Get lost in a good book.

I mean obviously, this is my number one. When you read a book, it’s the perfect little escape from everything going on in the world. I mentioned in yesterday’s reading list that I’ve had a harder time reading have a list of the best beach reads which is PERFECT  for this time. Other good books I’d recommend (fun, light, distracting reads) are If I Never Met You, Big Summer, and Matchmaking for Beginners.

Do a puzzle.

I am going to order a puzzle this weekend (let me know if you have any good recs!!) as I always loved doing them as a kid! My best friend just bought a Jonathan Adler puzzle which is such a chic take on the idea. They have a lips one and a rainbow one. The “Vertigo” one is great too. I also love the idea of finding a puzzle version of your favorite artist’s work: here are a few of my favs: Frank Stella, Andy Warhol’s Flowers or Soup Can, or this Mondrian one!

Try a painting kit!

Painting is an amazing way to get in touch with your creative side. My mom got me a few kits from Let’s Make Art and I am planning to finally do one this weekend. (I keep getting intimidated and thinking I will be terrible at it!)

Binge watch an entire season of TV.

I know I know, rotting your brain and such BUT sometimes you just need to sit and binge some good TV! I posted a roundup of favorite shows on my blog last week. My recs are pretty solid but honestly, YOUR recs are even better – the comments section of the post is packed with great recs! My parents asked for recommendations and I have put them onto Damages and White Collar. 

Make a candle!

Siblings is a cool new company that makes candle-making kit! Unfortunately I do not have a microwave so I haven’t tried a kit myself but I think this is SO cool. (During normal times my mom and I kept trying to sign up for candle making classes at Candlefish in Charleston but they’re always full when I’m home! For another way to do it (no microwave needed!) try Cupcakes & Cashmere’s tutorial!

Try a fun craft project or DIY.

If you are a long time reader, this blog was originally a lot about fashion DIY projects! I haven’t done one in a while, but I have a great DIY gallery here on the site with TONS of craft projects you can try at home. Blast your favorite music and get crafty! In all honesty, some of my projects are pretty bad (dated!!!) BUT I think these tassel earrings would be really fun to make right now, same with this bag charm.

In my opinion, no one does DIY’s better than Erica. She is incredibly talented and her DIY gallery is PACKED with amazing ideas!

Take a bath!

There’s nothing better than a bath. It’s simple but something I look forward to every night! If you need a little inspiration, this post has my favorite DIY baths, here are my favorite baths (that post is two years old and still holds up), and of course I love goop’s baths too (my favorite right now is Nurse! – it’s great on my allergies)

Make a vision board

I haven’t done this but have been thinking of doing it! We have plenty of time after all… here’s a good post on how to get started!

Bake cookies

I have been spending time baking a lot. It’s so soothing! My go-to has been Alison Roman’s tiny salty chocolate cookies (they are HEAVEN and remind me of the edge of a brownie), but my sister made the Levain chocolate chip cookies (the BEST cookies ever; if you know you know!!!) and I think that’s going to be the next thing I try! If you live alone, I recommend freezing the dough and baking a few at a time to minimize waste!

What are your favorite solo at home activities!? I’d love to hear in the comments.

A Few Good Sales, 4.2.20.

A Few Good Sales 4.2.20

Just in case you’re in need of a bit of retail therapy, I’ve added a weekly bonus Thursday afternoon post with the best sales from around the web. I’ll only ever feature products + brands I have and truly love.

In the spirit of transparency, this post is (besides being helpful, I hope!) a way for me to earn a bit of extra affiliate income as sponsored posts get moved and cancelled, and also support some of my favorite small businesses who could use a little extra love right now. And if you don’t want to/can’t shop right now, I get it! Step away… and maybe check out this week’s distraction or this morning’s book list. XOXO

A Few Good Sales 4.2.20

Small business LOVE!

Ariel Gordon is offering 25% off sitewide with code TOGETHER until April 5th.

Loeffler Randall’s 30% off sale is still going strong! Obviously these are my fav sandals – I have them in gold and leopard and can’t recommend them enough. Sizing is TTS for me but I have narrow feet. If you have wider feet go up a half a size. The sale is final sale but I spoke to the brand and they said they will honor exchanges if you need a different size!

Hunt Slonem is offering my readers a special 10% off with code GRACEHOP!

Now would be the perfect time to invest in a NIGHT Pillow. I love mine SO MUCH; it really makes a difference in my sleep quality. You can take 20% off sitewide at NIGHT with our podcast code, BOP20!

Tanya Taylor is doing a closet clean-out sale and the prices are really, really good. PS – for each purchase on TanyaTaylor.com, they will donate the funds to create 5 more non-medical grade masks to be donated to NYC hospitals to help reduce the strain on N95 masks needed by doctors!

A Few Other Great Sales!

Le Creuset is running their “Factory to Table Sale” and there are some really amazing deals, with pieces up to half off! If you’ve been saving for a dutch oven (and lord knows, mine is getting put to work this month!!!) now is the time to splurge.

Athleta rarely ever has sales but is offering 30% off sitewide through 4/6!

Need Supply Co. is running friends and family through April 4th, with 25% off sitewide! I will be honest this store is not on my usual radar BUT they carry Susanne Kaufmann which is one of my most favorite beauty brands. Her products are incredible but very expensive so now would be the time to try them out. The At Home Spa Box would be incredible (or a great gift for someone special) and her bath oils are among my holy grail favorites. This giant bath oil is incredible (again it is expensive but the size is enormous and it will last you for months – they also make a smaller size).

J.Crew seems to have a new sale every day! Right now they’re running an extra 40% off with code SPRING. I finally ordered the leopard sweatshirt now that it’s only $29. I also ordered this ultra pretty crochet sweater. Love the buttons at the shoulder.

At Summersalt, they are offering 25% off select items, and for every order $125+ $15 will be donated to No Kid Hungry. This leopard suit is one of my favs and is included in the sale, as is my fav yellow striped set (top + bottom!)

Everything I Read in March 2020.

Everything I Read in March 2020These are definitely strange times and for the first week or two of the pandemic I wasn’t really able to focus on reading.

Everything I Read in March 2020

For that super distracted/agitated period of time, listening to Jessica Simpson’s audiobook was really helpful! I joke that “Jess” and I are now on a first name basis. I am now back in a better groove with reading but only reading the lightest of books. The Authenticity Project was really cute (so good and warm and fuzzy) and I absolutely LOVED If I Never Met You! You MUST read that one, it’s def my favorite book from the month, it is so cute and well-written. Now is, in my opinion, the time to really lean into light romances and all of the British chick lit.

TELL ME WHAT YOU ARE READING! I’m always looking for great recommendations… I love reading your comments!

IF YOU’RE NEW HERE AND ARE LOOKING FOR A BOOK, DON’T FORGET THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS CHECK OUT MY BOOK CLUB PAGE.

Every month I update it with everything I read – it includes every.single.book I’ve read in the past few years. The best part is that you can filter + search by genre (memoir, light read, historical fiction, thriller, etc!) to find exactly what you’re looking for. I always add whatever it is that I’m currently reading in real-time to my Amazon Shop. If you’re feeling like you need even more book recs, check out last month’s list and everything I read in 2019!

The Two Lives of Lydia BirdEverything I Read in March 2020, by Josie Silver.

This was really, really sad. I was warned that it was sad, but I still was just SO excited for it, because I loved Josie Silver’s other book, One Day in December SO MUCH. On Lydia Bird’s birthday, her fiance dies in a horrible car crash. Her whole world is completely flipped upside down. (This happens right a the beginning; before we’ve gotten to know said fiance, but STILL – you’re just emotionally wrecked from the first few pages!

She begins taking sleeping pills at night to sleep but when she takes a pill she’s mysteriously transported to an alternate life where Freddie (fiance) is still alive. As time goes on (the book goes on for about a year and a half or so after his death), she finds it harder and harder to exist between the two worlds, especially as she tries to be a good friend, sister, etc. I don’t want to say what happens, but it was worth the sadness. Not as good as One Day in December, but still a good read. (I won’t say fun read; it made me cry to hard for that!!!)

  • Overall Score: B

The TwinEverything I Read in March 2020, by Natasha Preston.

I will preface this by saying that this book is a YA thriller which isn’t always my favorite. I guess it depends. Something by E.L. Lockhart is always a fav but more recently, Good Girl’s Guide to Murder was a letdown. This book left me saying “what fresh hell did I just read!?” I always wished for a twin sister growing up and love books/movies where one twin ends up being the evil/bad one, which is why I pulled this out of my ARC pile. Oof. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t terrible and kept me entertained, but not great.

Ivy and Iris are twin sisters. When their parents divorced, they were split up. But then their mother passes away, so Iris moves in with Ivy and her dad. The sisters (devastated by the loss of their mother) struggle at first but then we see that something is not right between them. Is Iris trying to steal Ivy’s life? We watch her systematically become best friends with Ivy’s best friends, slowly trying to claim everything that is Ivy’s. Or is Ivy just paranoid and jealous? You’ll have to read the book to find out. It was fun but also kind of a mess of a book.

  • Overall Score: C+

I’ll Give You The SunEverything I Read in March 2020, by Jandy Nelson.

This was our March book club pick for the podcast! It’s a magically written, sweet and heartwarming YA book: the story of two twins, Noah and Jude, via alternating timelines. Noah tells the story of their younger years when they are 13, and Jude tells the later years when they are 16. In between the alternating timelines, we just know that something tragic has happened that impacted both twins in profound ways. When they’re 13, they are so close that they claim to share a soul. Just three years later, they’re distant…not nearly as close, not even friends.

I will be honest, it took me a bit to get into the book because of the writing style – it’s very flowery and creatively written. Noah’s character, in particular has a different style of writing/expressing his thoughts. But once I got into it, I loved it! It’s a wonderful, breathtaking look at love, loss, what life as a twin looks like, and also a bit of ethics and right vs. wrong. Highly recommend reading this one, it’s a nice little escape from the world!

  • Overall Score: A-

* For more conversation about this book, listen to the podcast episode HERE!

The Authenticity ProjectThe Authenticity Project, by Clare Pooley.

I really enjoyed this book, but I was very much let down by the ending. I just want to preface my review with that, as Becca warned me and I didn’t listen. I’m still really glad I read it though, as I’ve been struggling with reading and this book felt like comfort food! The book revolves around a vivid cast of characters, all connected by a notebook called The Authenticity Project.

Julian (an 80ish year old artist) started it, writing about his loneliness and how nobody actually knows their neighbors. He left it in Monica’s cafe, and she wrote in it… leaving it in a bar where it was found by Hazard, a struggling addict. And so goes this pattern as a wonderfully endearing cast of characters emerging. They find each other through the notebook and develop some sweet relationships. I loved the themes here (no one’s life is perfect, we all feel lonely, we’re all connected!) and found myself falling in love with each of the characters. I loved the book but not the ending! Still, a worthwhile read for sure!

  • Overall Score: B+

Open Book, by Jessica SimpsonOpen Book, by Jessica Simpson

Okay (as I mentioned in Monday’s post) this book is SUCH a departure from my usual type of read (I generally could not care less about celebrities/celeb culture) but I listened to this as an audiobook (with Jessica narrating) and enjoyed it IMMENSELY. What drew me in was when Kate Kennedy talked about it in her stories, talking about how much celebrity “tea” there was and oh MY was there tea! I did watch Newlyweds back in the day so that was part of it, and I’ve also related to Jessica on and off throughout her life (I think she’s someone people underestimate, and I’ve had a lot of people think I’m stupid because I can be spacey; there’s a difference).

She talked about all of her relationships in an extremely unfiltered way (the John Mayer parts were my favorite!) Highly recommend, and if you are quarantined in NYC and taking daily walks to stay sane, Jessica makes for the perfect walking partner!!!

  • Overall Score: A-

If I Never Met You, by Mhairi McFarlaneIf I Never Met You, by Mhairi McFarlane

Mhairi McFarlane is one of Becca’s favorite authors but I’d never read anything by her until this one! And oh my, it is so cute. If you’ve ever gone through a crushing break up I think you will appreciate this one. It has everything: endearing characters you can deeply relate to, a soul-crushing breakup, great girlfriends, a mini makeover, a bit of revenge, and a little bit of that Hating Game style office romance.

Laurie finds herself left reeling after her boyfriend of EIGHTEEN YEARS breaks up with her, leaving her for another woman who gets pregnant pretty much immediately after the breakup. Her (very handsome but total playboy) coworker Jamie hatches a plan where they will pretend to date to a) help Jamie be taken more seriously at work and b) help create some jealousy to distract from the humiliation and grief on Laurie’s side. The only problem? Laurie finds herself falling for him. I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to give anything away. I LOVED this book and think you will too. Now I’m committing to read more of Mhairi’s books!!!

  • Overall Score: A

Upcoming Releases

Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner (Out 5/5)Big Summer, by Jennifer Weiner (Out 5/5)

I LOVED THIS BOOK! I had received two ARCs and gave one to my mom… mine was sitting in my TBR pile and my mom and I were talking and she was like, “Oh didn’t you just love Big Summer” and I hadn’t read it yet so I paused on another book and picked it up and just devoured it!!!! There are some fun parallels to my own life (the main character is an influencer + it’s set partially in New York and Cape Cod, where I grew up).

It’s the story of two (very different) girlfriends fixing their friendship. Daphne is a plus size influencer who grew up in New York in a working class family and had a scholarship for everything. She’s making ends meet nannying and running her Instagram. Meanwhile, her former best friend Drue is one of those people who has just had everything come easy to her: she’s rich, pretty, and newly engaged. She’s also a bit of a mean girl. The two reunite for her wedding and you think you’re getting a cute girlfriends redemption friendship story but then there’s a big mystery. I loved it!

  • Overall Score: A

He Started It, by Samantha Downing. (out 7/28)He Started It, by Samantha Downing. (out 7/28)

A trio of adult siblings (and their spouses) embark upon a cross country road trip mandated by their grandfather in order to spread his ashes and collect their hefty inheritance. OK we will start with the good here. The twist in this thriller got me and I was very surprised (there were a lot of twists, actually). This book has a lot. An unreliable narrator, family drama, and (one of my favorite elements) two mysteries occuring in alternate timelines.

But… I just didn’t find this book all that enjoyable. I wanted to love it – I loved the author’s first book, My Lovely Wife! And I think it was because I generally don’t love a road trip plot line (the same people and dialogues in the same space – a car – for an extended period of time) …it wears on you! I don’t know. This was a slog for me. There were holes in the plot and while it did get better around page 170 or so, I didn’t love it. I came so close to DNF’ing but needed to know what happened so continued to slog through.

  • Overall Score: C+

If I Never Met You

Recipe: My Grandmother’s Meatballs.

My Grandmother's Meatball recipe

The photo above looks a little gross, which is why (amongst many other reasons) I am not a food blogger!!! That being said, while I am a terrible food photographer/stylist, this is a GREAT recipe and one I frequently turn to when I am sad or things aren’t great. And so please don’t judge the gross photo, but make these meatballs. You will LOVE them, I promise.

It’s good comfort food – partially because it reminds me of my childhood (my mom would make these for us growing up; my favorite way to eat them was over egg noodles) and partially because they are just really good!

My Grandmother’s Meatball Recipe!

Ingredients:

For the Meatballs:

  • 3/4 lb. ground beef
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 small onion, minced
    • (If you hate chopping onions you  could use one of these little food processors if you have one – I don’t have a lot of counter space but this little guy is great for chopping onions etc)!)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk OR light cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the Sauce:

  • 4 cups beef broth (my mom likes the Pacific brand)
  • 4 tablespoons flour

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a cookie sheet (you may need two, depending on the size!)
  • Mix everything together! I take off any rings or jewelry and just mix it up with my hands.
  • Roll into 1 teaspoon size balls and brown in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

To make the sauce….

Whisk the flour into the beef broth over medium heat until it thickens. Divide the mixture in half. Freeze half of the sauce (about 1.5 cups) to use another time. Put the meatballs in the remainder of the sauce, don’t cover, and simmer on low. (If you cover them, they’ll get mushy!)

Serving ideas!

Growing up we’d always have the meatballs and sauce over egg noodles or rice. This is a very reassuring, good comfort meal!  At home I’ll often snack on these cold… I like to dip them in ranch dressing (I know that sounds weird but it’s so good!) A yummy snack is to cut up some veggies, take 3 or 4 meatballs, and eat them with dip/d dressing.

Also, I’ve had allergies last week and was very stuffed up. I have found that heating four or 5 meatballs in a cup of vegetable broth is quite delicious… it certainly isn’t fancy but it’s comforting and an easy “soup” to make.

ENJOY my grandmother’s meatball recipe! xoxo

Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum Review.

Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum review

Created in partnership with Olay.

I’m really excited to team up with Olay on another post; this time about their Wrinkle Correction Serum with Vitamin B3 + Peptides. In case you missed it, this past Fall I worked with them on a post about their Retinol24 collection; which I love and still use – I’m on my second bottle of the retinol serum and use it 1-2x a week. I love working with Olay… I know a lot of the products I feature here can be very pricey but Olay makes products that are both high-tech AND accessible. I’m always so impressed by their level of innovation and science-backed products.

As background: I started using this serum on February 24th; when I first received the package (and shot the first round of social media posts!). I’ve had just over a month to play with the product.

Today I am going to share my review BUT I want to talk a little bit about something important, first. According to a recent study, 40% of women say beauty advertisements impart an unrealistic expectation, making it unclear what is actually achievable.

To help put an end that, Olay is making a promise for zero skin retouching across all advertising materials, including sponsored content from influencers. I love that they are doing this, and while I don’t ever retouch my photos (Carter just brightens them up in Lightroom), these photos are not retouched.

Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum Review

The Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum with Vitamin B3 + Peptides is an ultra-concentrated anti-aging serum to penetrate your skin’s surface and treat wrinkles at the source. It uses niacinamide (also known as Vitamin B3 – a powerful anti-aging ingredient) to rejuvenate, and dual peptides to replenish collagen.

Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum review

Let’s start with the basics as I know skincare can be a little confusing! Serums are the (in my opinion) most important, but least understood skincare product. They’re not quite a liquid, but not quite a solid. So…

Wait: What is a serum!?

As I mentioned above, serums are in between a liquid and a solid. More viscous than a moisturizer or oil, but not watery, either. Serums are packed with active ingredients, and that liquidy format is designed to deliver these ingredients deep into your skin’s surface

Olay just launched three powerful new serums (all free from parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, and synthetic dyes) which can help with all sorts of skin issues from dryness to dullness to droopiness!

How do serums fit into your skincare routine?

Serum goes after cleansing/toning, after essence if you choose to use it, before moisturizer. A helpful trick to remember is that you apply your skin care products from thinnest to thickest. As serums are packed with your active ingredients. you want it to be closest to your skin!

After cleansing, use the dropper to apply several drops of serum. Follow with moisturizer to seal in your treatment!

Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum review

My take… and some of the science behind this!

As always, a little background on my own skin (this feels redundant, but I think it’s important to share just in case you are new!!!) I am 38 years old. My skin is pretty dry and my biggest concerns right now are dehydration, texture, a bit of dullness + (always!) fine lines around my eyes. And of course, preventing aging as best I can. I have never tried Botox or done fillers; but I have a pretty aggressive skincare lineup. I do retinol 1-2x a week, I love a glycolic peel, and I am a total mask junkie.

I started testing this on February 24th and finished my review on March 25th. During the testing process, this was the only serum I used at night. I would wash my face, apply several drops of this serum, let it sink in, and top off with moisturizer and sometimes face oil.

Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum review

Let’s talk Ingredients!

What is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is also known as Vitamin B3. It’s a water-soluble vitamin that works with your skin to help minimize enlarged pores, tighten + firm the skin, improve uneven skin tone, soften lines and wrinkles, diminish dullness, and strengthen the skin’s barrier. It’s been called the fountain of youth!

What are peptides, and what do they do?

Peptides are one of the most talked about ingredients in anti-aging skincare. They are short chains of amino acids that building blocks of proteins such as collagen, elastin and keratin. They’re responsible for skin’s texture and strength. Without them, skin can lose firmness and be more prone to wrinkles.

Peptides are pretty amazing as they are little messengers. When you apply them directly to your skin, they trigger skin cells to build more collagen. This helps with firmness and wrinkles; helping to give skin that youthful, plumped up look we are all chasing.

My final thoughts!

This serum is up there with some of the more expensive serums I’ve tested. I was really impressed. It felt like a luxury skincare product – something that would cost at least double or triple the price.

The thing I noticed most is that my skin was much smoother, with a lifted look; especially at my jaw. (I will add that it definitely helps to do a little facial massage with the serum if you have time – I like to really work it into the areas that I want to look more lifted, using upward strokes!)

I like that (as with the Retinol collection), the product has no fragrance. The formula itself is incredibly gentle and would be great for sensitive types too. I experienced zero redness and irritation.

Olay Retinol24 serum

I also want to talk about integrating this in with the Retinol24 serum. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss retinol while testing this! I think that these two serums combined (NOT on the same night though) make for the perfect combination.

My recommendation would be to use this every night except 1-2 nights where you’ll do retinol instead. Don’t use both on the same night – one serum at a time!!!!

B3+ Peptides

Photography by Carter Fish.