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The Sangfroid’s Quick & Dirty Gift Guide

December 14, 2010

Are you a twenty-something college-ish modern American living roughly paycheck to paycheck because who needs a 401k anyway? Fear not, my years of being a poor college student with a slightly creative side has helped me survive the holidays time and time again. Compiled below is a handy-dandy list of do-it-yourself creations, low-cost but full of instant-gratification gifts, and even some stuff that’s just plain free. With only 10(!!!) days until Christmas, everything here is ideal for last minute gifts too!

1. Food
#1 because it’s so obvious but so often forgotten. Plates of cookies or brownies for your office mates, a home-cooked 3-course meal with cosmos for your Sex and the City group of friends, and personalized giftbaskets of yummy treats for all the so-and-so’s. If you’re really feeling festive, red and green jell-o shots for your other poor college roommates are always welcome.
Peppermint Bark
Pasta, pasta, pasta
Jell-o shots

2. Giftcards That Don’t Suck
As The Hating Expert so blatantly put it, giftcards say, “I like you exactly this amount of money’s worth”. Seriously, how lame does a Target giftcard look? The trick to giving a giftcard that doesn’t suck is to make it personable. If your friend is a craft hound, get them a gift certificate to an Etsy shop they love. Bookworms, a Kindle e-book voucher or a simple Barnes and Noble card. Combining gift cards too with memberships is good too, should the store offer it.
Victoria’s Secret (for the lingerie lover)
Think Geek (for your nerdy dad)

3. Wall Art by You
Those with “no artistic ability”, don’t skip over this! Though the first thing that comes to mind with homemade wall art is generally an elaborate painting, its not the only option. Collages (made from magazines, photos, or mixed mediums), pop art made from objects, and even plain photos you took are all wall art.
Collage tutorial

4. Free Services
I’m not talking about “IOU one steamy night of hot tub sex” coupons (though I suppose…), but genuine services that your friend has to deal with all year. Babysitting, dog walking, simple car repairs (I still can’t change my own oil), massages, and yard or house work are all unexpected but much appreciated gifts. It seems cheap (because it is) but in economically tough times, it can be a load-off to know that for the next 3 months, you won’t have to pay for a babysitter.

5. Magazine Subscriptions
I’m one of those dummies who pays $5 every month for a copy of a magazine I could easily subscribe to all year for $10. If you have a friend who does this, please slap them upside the head and get them a subscription.

6. Stocking/Basket Stuffers
A lot of times when Christmas shopping online, I run across approx. 1,000 cute and clever things in those “under $10!” sections, but know they are all super lame by themselves. Combine those items into a stuffed stocking or decorated basket for a neat mish-mosh (is that a word?) of trinkets.
Forever21 Stuffers
Think Geek Stuffers
Etsy Stuffers

7. Crocheted, Stitched, or Knitted Items
Though it may require a bit of work if you’re a beginner, fancy needle work is ultimately not very hard, and allows a lot of creative freedom. My friend is crocheting a pair of dog booties for her dog so she can go outside without freezing her paws off, and even my poor knitting skills have managed a few scarves. Even just stitching quotes or simple pictures into pillows isn’t very hard, but it does show you took the time to truly put something unique together.
Knitting Tutorial
Crocheting Tutorial
Stitching Tutorial


8. Booze
Because really, that’s usually when you have the best times with your friends.


9. Any Of These Crafts
Seriously, I think I’ve utilized at least 1 or 2 things off this list ever year. Everything is relatively easy to make, personalize, and create in a short amount of time (or long if you want to dedicate more to it).

10. Time
“Oh Tegan, shut up, that is such a lame gift”. No, you shut up. Time is an awesome gift. We have limited amounts, yet we often choose to spend it on crappy things like jobs and getting enough sleep. Spend a night, a day, a weekend with a person and actually do things. Explore a new restaurant (or visit a favourite), play in a park, people watch, just do something together and make that person the focus. Stop worrying about work the next day, or if there’s something you should be getting done at home. Creating memories is a lot better than another sweater vest in a package.

Other Tidbits:

For those with a large group of mutual friends, organize a holiday event with gift exchanging or gift games like Secret Santa or White Elephant. Just spending a bit of time celebrating the holidays with people is more fulfilling than sending a package through the mail and not seeing the person until February.


Are We Done Blaming the Victim Yet?

November 8, 2010

We’re in 2010. We all know (no matter how much some may deny it) that individuals are responsible for their own actions, that both men and women are fully capable of controlling their sexual urges, and that victims of harmful actions are not responsible.

At least, I thought we all knew that. Apparently not.

After Google Writer Noirin Shirley blogged about being sexually assaulted by Twitter Engineer Florian Leibert, she was met with an onslaught of typical slut-shaming comments. Scrolling through Gawker’s coverage of it, I was met with “well she was wearing a short skirt and was really inebriated, so she needs to take responsibility” and “she just wants attention, that’s why she blogged about it. She deserved it”.

In the words of Amy Poehler and Seth Meyer, REALLY!?!

Really, a woman deserved to be sexually assaulted because she chose to drink a beer? A woman is just asking to be molested if she wears anything less than a full body potato bag? It’s OKAY to jam your hand down someone’s pants just because you want to!?

Shirley herself put it best in her blog,

I’m tired of the fear. I’m tired of people who think I should wear something different. I’m tired of people who think I should avoid having a beer in case my vigilance lapses for a moment[…]It is not my job to avoid getting assaulted. It is everyone else’s job to avoid assaulting me.

Maybe he did go after that particular girl because of her clothes or drinking or what have you, but it doesn’t make it her fault because she wore those clothes or drank alcohol or flirted or maybe God forbid made eye contact with a man. Always, always regardless of outside circumstances, the conscience decision to assault or harass someone is ultimately left to the harasser, not the victim. It is never okay to put your hands on someone’s body without their permission, bottom line.

It’s 2010, are we done blaming the victim yet?

Friday Quote – Feminism

November 5, 2010

I am really, really sick of hearing women who are studying for degrees, who voted in the General Election 6 months ago, who have their own bank accounts, who weren’t married off as soon as they hit puberty, who are on the pill and who enjoy making their own choices about their careers, bodies and futures, claiming that they “disagree with feminism”.

Via Sarah Graham

Stop Street Harassment

November 3, 2010

I stumbled onto Stop Street Harassment a bit ago, a website that chronicles not only essays about the affects of street harassment, but also horror stories of every day encounters.

The website defines street harassment as “… inappropriate, rude, scary, and insulting speech and behavior from men directed at unknown women… in public places, simply because they are female.” This includes cat-calling, whistling, sexual comments or gestures, assault, and leering.

Let’s look at some horror stories:

Then because I didn’t say anything he screamed out, “Did you hear me?” Then he screamed, “I could just Fuck your ASS all night long.” He was screaming things to me all the way down the street until I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he was still saying stuff.  He looked like a normal, good-looking nice guy, but he was so disgusting with his words.  It really did shake me up.” Excerpt from here.

“He got up and proceeded to lean in and maul me with his face and hands. My fighting instincts kicked in and I stood up, pushing him away. “Get the fuck away from me!” I screamed. “Don’t fucking touch me!” “What the fuck,” he slurred. “I was trying to apologize.” “Oh, that’s how you apologize? By invading someone’s space? That’s acceptable behavior to you?” I was shouting at this point, and I really didn’t care. “Well, whatever, it was a joke,” he said, coming in again to touch me.” Excerpt from here.

“I was very shaken after this. He almost got hit by a CAR, but he kept going! We were only 13 at the time. Sure, we looked older than our age, but even if we were older, that is just not appropriate at all. It did not feel good at all. We didn’t laugh. We weren’t flattered. All of a sudden, it wasn’t funny anymore. We felt threatened and uncomfortable.” Excerpt from here.

“Whatever,” you may say. “Women appreciate the attention/are asking for it/should know its harmless and all in good fun!”

  • NO ONE appreciates being dehumanized by being reduced to body parts or uses from vulgar words and gestures for another’s pure enjoyment. Saying “I wanna tap that booty!” is NOT the same level of “flattery” as saying “You an intelligent person”.
  • Whether you are 13 or 103, in sweats and a hoodie or a little black dress, walking alone at night or a with your family during the day, no one is ever asking to be harassed and should never be blamed for someone else’s wrong actions.
  • Street harassment is far from harmless. It is the reason I can’t walk my dog after sun down. It is the reason young girls feel like they have to both cover up their “shameful” bodies, but also keep them appealing to men. It is the reason millions of women feel uncomfortable, unsafe, threatened, and disgusted when simply walking to get their morning coffee.
  • Street harassment can lead to sexual assault. If someone does not have respect for your personal space, privacy, and dignity, what’s to say they’ll have respect if you say “no” or “stop”?

I know some of you may think its funny, or harmless, or a “boys will be boys” thing to yell lewd words at people or play grab-ass on the train, but its not. It’s fucking stupid and disrespectful, bottom line.

Check out Stop Street Harassment for more stories, resources for self-defense, and ways to deter and defend against street harassment.


The Free Drink Dilemma

October 20, 2010


It happens to all of us. We’re out with our friends, or alone, and a guy comes up to you and says, “Hi my name is so-and-so, could I buy you a drink?”

Sometimes they are polite enough to make conversation, or even ask for your name, before offering you free liquor like you’re a 19-year-old college student. But usually they interrupt your conversation, single you out, and ask if they can buy you a drink (in some of the worse cases, they have already bought the drink).

Now before you jump down to the comments section to angrily write about how you’re doing it to be polite, or its a good way to spark a conversation, or some other excuse – please read on.

The Free Drink is a bad idea on all sides, from all angles.

Basically, we can all agree that giving someone a free drink means that person is wanting to connect with the other person on some level (sexually, in conversation, etc). This is a problem for all parties involved:

  • Ideally, women could accept a drink from a man, chat, and then move on if she so decides to without feeling pressured or obligated to sleep with him, give him her number, etc.

Unfortunately that is not usually how it goes. I cannot count the number of times myself or my friends have accepted a free drink, made polite conversation, and then were made to feel uncomfortable and awkward when the guy would not leave/began pressuring her for her number/asking if she would come to another place with him.

  • Ideally, women could reject a free drink without being called a bitch/frigid man-hater.

A real damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t  situation. See where the problems arise? It’s not just for us ladies, either.

  • Ideally, a man would never feel obligated to buy someone a drink just to engage them in conversation.

Yes! There are women out there who believe that a man is not worth talking to unless he brings her a free drink. Yes! That is completely fucked up. No, men, you should absolutely never be “obligated” to buy anyone anything for the sake of simple conversation.

  • Ideally, men would not be led to believe that a woman accepting a free drink is an obligation to ANYTHING.

Look, I get the argument that if you don’t want to talk to a guy/go home with him, you should not accept his free drink.

Actually no, I don’t get it at all.

When you take that free rap music demo on the street, you aren’t obligated to listen to it, or call the guy up and say he was awesome, or have tea with him.

When you’re short on change and the woman in front of you at Starbucks covers that $1.50 you aren’t obligated to sleep with her or give her your number.

So why is a drink offered to a person any different?

Because society has made it that way. By accepting “Well that’s just what a free drink means and you know that” as an appropriate reason for why women get harassed for not sleeping with Douchey McFreeAlcohol you are simply reinforcing it and making it okay.

Men, stop expecting anything because you gave a girl a free drink and she said “okay”. Don’t bitch about ladies not giving you a chance if your first interaction with them is offering them booze. Don’t feel that a drink is the only way you can talk to a stranger,

Ladies, stop accepting the drink if you don’t want to. Stop feeling obligated to anything when accepting the drink other than expressing your thanks. And please, stop being offended when a guy doesn’t buy you a drink.

And everyone – stop making a free drink a dilemma.

Eating Lunch in the Library

October 14, 2010

During my senior year of high school, I ate my lunch in the library.

“But Dr. Sangfroid, I thought you were the most prettiest and most popular girl in school!”

Oh, I’m flattered! But no. I was a weird little troll in high school who was part of video game club and the president of Speech & Debate.

The point is, by the time I was 17/18, I simply had learned that eating lunch in the library was awesome.

The years before, eating with actual people in the sunshine, was nice and all, but when it comes down to it you really can’t beat lunch in the library.

I’d come in with my bottle of water, peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and plastic baggie of wheat thin crackers, and settle into a corner. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a friend, sometimes with my little Freshman brother. I’d have a delicious half hour to do homework or read a book or draw or sleep or whatever I pleased. One solid half hour to myself that wasn’t spent gossiping, or taking notes, or working the cash register at Target.

I learned some very important things during those lunch times:

  • When there is no one around to listen to you, you can listen to yourself. Instead of gossiping or talking about class or complaining, I let myself stroll through the aisles of the books and have conversations with myself (in my head of course, usually). I let myself realize what kind of literature, and from that ideals and topics, I truly love.
  • You meet the most interesting people when you’re alone. Without the distraction of another person, it’s much easier to notice the traits of others. Alone people talk to other alone people.
  • The social constructs of high school can truly be damaging. Not to say it always is, but really, we all have been or we know the people who start drama, or are involved in it frequently in high school. By removing myself from the time and place it mostly manifests, I managed to make my senior year relatively drama free.
  • Time alone is inspiration and motivation. Its easy to skip an assignment or procrastinate on a project when you’re surrounded by people and distractions. Being alone in a library with a sandwich really is a no-excuses allowed motivator.

Ultimately, it was one the highlights of my time in high school.

Just wanted to share that with you all.

21 Lessons in 21 Years

October 4, 2010

Recently Yes and Yes celebrated her birthday with 31 lessons. Check out her wisdom, and 21 more lessons from myself.

1. Move On, Move Up
Relationships end, friendships break, jobs are lost and opportunities are missed. Move on, and more importantly, move up to bigger and better things.

2. Read Everything
Stop skimming over that article your friend posted on FB or the intriguing news story on your Twitter feed. Take the 2, 5, or even 10 minutes to read a few things a day – whether its the news, a blog, or a short story. You’ll have more to talk about, think about, and maybe even a bit of inspiration.

3. Sleep On It
And not just important decisions! Sometimes feelings of stress, depression, and frustration can be combated with a simple good night’s rest. This means a GOOD night’s rest – not a night of drinking wine until you pass out on the couch during a Sex and the City marathon (though sometimes we all need that too).

4. Keep A Pair of Heels and a Nice Outfit in Your Car
Because seriously, you never know.

5. Do Lunch.
Stop staying at home and only seeing your friends when you go to a party, or dinner, or a movie. Take the hour (or two) to sit with your friend, eat delicious food, and actually talk and listen about life. We get so distracted with only talking through emails or texts that we sometimes forget the value of actually looking at a person and communicating with them.

6. Indulge Yourself When You Need It
Don’t wait until your breaking point to indulge yourself. Watch some trashy reality TV, eat a pizza, whatever, and then get back to life.

7. Sometimes a Month is a Lot, Other Times Its Nothing
Time is worth what you make it worth.

8. Challenge Yourself
Your parents/teachers/friends can only push you so far. If you don’t motivate yourself, you aren’t ever going to find your limits, much less break them.

9. Have Some Damn Goals
Don’t watch the days roll by and figure that your life calling will fall into your lap. Take the time to set your goals and aspirations. You don’t want to find yourself still waiting for life to come to you 5, 10 years down the road.

10.  Be ProActive About Those Damn Goals
Setting goals is a nice step – but hardly enough. Don’t just hope that you’ll become CEO of Kraft as you eat a third bowl of Mac n Cheese. Work, work, work.

11. Learn to Laugh At Yourself
Laughing at yourself doesn’t mean you don’t have respect for yourself, it means you have enough respect and confidence to know that jokes are just jokes.

12. Some People Are Just Jerks
It’s not your job to change them, or show them that they’re jerks. Don’t waste your time.

13. Your Views of What’s Right & Wrong Will Change
And that’s okay. Don’t restrict yourself to certain morals and ideals just because that’s the way it’s always been – if something now seems right to you, then it probably is.

14. You can’t control a lot in life, but what you can control is totally worth it.
Eat what you please, wear what you like, see the people you love, ignore those you don’t.

15. Have a Savings Account (and actual money in it)
And don’t withdraw from it until you absolutely have to. Being broke blows, don’t set yourself up for it.

16. If Something Is Wrong, Say So
To your friends, your doctor, your senator, your news station, your grandmother. Apathy won’t get you anywhere, ever.

17. Write Shit Down
Your memory is not as good as you think it is.

18. Learn How To Change a Tire
It isn’t that hard, I promise.

19. People Remember What You Say More Than You Realize
Whether its positive or negative, choose your words carefully. They’re the most powerful weapon you have (unless you have a cross bow).

20. Throw/Attend a Theme Party
Don’t be the lazy person who didn’t get into it, either. If you think you look like a fool, then you’re doing it right.

21. Bring Chapstick Everywhere
Seriously, people.

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