History Historical Badasses

Gertrude Stein, the queer feminist at the centre of the art movement

I first encountered Gertrude Stein through her avant-garde poetry in Tender Buttons, an evocative series of short poems that forced writing to its breaking point with sentences like: “Dirty is yellow. A sign of more is not mentioned.” I met her blindly, only through her words, yet I already fell for her eccentricity. I knew there was something wonderful behind the mind that put down on paper the bold tongue-in-cheek yet unbelievably serious statement, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”. I just had to explore her art further. So I began scouring old journals and artist profiles to learn more about her. 

Little did I know that the radical art Stein created could almost be rivaled by the art that she nurtured in the artists around her. I found multiple sources that called her the ‘mother’ of modernism, but after getting to know more about her, I am sure that she would scoff at such a title. After all, she left the United States in 1903 to flee the pressures of gender norms. She was also bored with medical school and seeking an outlet to express her eccentric point of view, she settled down in Paris, where she intended to pursue a life free from heteronormativity. She opened a salon in her home for the world’s creative mind, including some of the world-renowned names such as Picasso, Matisse, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. She was the voice of this ‘Lost Generation, the group of American expatriates flocking to Paris– and even coined the term.

The way I see it, she brought together these esteemed artists and in many ways, elevated them through her no-nonsense critique of their work. I had always internalized that a woman inspiring other artists (typically male artists) was a muse. That term is loaded, as there were often sexualized or romanticized elements typically tied to a muse. Instead, what I admired about Stein was that she was a mentor to the ‘greats’. I see her as a woman that had an undeniable presence in her time, respected by those around her. 

Nothing about her was conventional and she embraced her own strangeness, something that drew me to her further. Stein deserves the title of a trailblazer of the modernist period and of queer identity at the time. Stein’s essay Miss Furr and Miss Skeene were among the first story to be published about homosexual revelation, containing the first noted use of the word “gay” in published works to refer to same-sex relationships. She also hosted one of the first avant-garde exhibitions in the United States, funding it with the money she collected from her art dealerships. I have no doubt that every piece of art in the period has her fingerprint.

And she didn’t hesitate to acknowledge her accomplishments either. Stein didn’t believe that women must be modest, proudly proclaiming “I have been the creative literary mind of the century.” She never sold herself short, a habit I found myself doing as I presented my own poetry or other writing. I was still working with my own feelings of inferiority, belittling my stories as ‘just’ relevant to female-identifying communities. While she wrote about women and her partner, she didn’t restrict herself to writing women’s stories. I found it so refreshing to see her unabashed pride, as it reminded me to take hold of my own achievements and to be confident. No matter how unconventionally and ‘weirdly’ I experimented with my creativity, I learned that I could (and should) still demand to be taken seriously. 

Regardless of all this, I don’t think she should be idolized. I often like to give powerful women in difficult situations the benefit of the doubt, as do most of the historians and writers that grapple with creating a retrospective of Stein’s life. I witnessed a trend in the way that they wrote about her, that she was ensuring her safety as a Jew in Nazi-occupied France by making these questionable alliances with Nazi figures. As much as I respect her as a feminist and as the backbone of the Lost Generation of artists, I cannot excuse her political affiliations and ironic, confusing pro-Nazi expressions. 

At the end of it all, Stein didn’t strive to be accepted or allow herself to be molded by the society around her. She carved her own place into history and I believe it is important to commemorate it, lest she is lost in the shadows of her male counterparts. As a woman in the art world, looking at Stein as an example liberates me and allows me to embrace subversive expressions of creativity. 

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Let’s talk about the history of the Lock Bridge that Emily goes to in Paris

It’s Valentine’s day – lovebirds and palentines – follow along with our Vday series right here.

Since the Netflix original show Emily in Paris, everyone is dreaming of living out their Paris fantasies and planning their dream vacation. Eating chocolate crescents, day drinking on a workday, and wearing the best outfits as we roam the streets of France. But anyway, with all the love, romance, and dating going on throughout the show got me thinking about one particular romantic landmark in Paris, most commonly known as “the love lock bridge.” There is so much to talk about when it comes to the history and famous tradition of the love lock bridge in Paris. So let’s get to it!

The tradition that makes the love lock bridge famous and a destination for couples from all around the world is that couples come to the bridge, write their name on a padlock, lock the padlock on the bridge, and then throw the key into the river. The tradition is meant to symbolize eternal love and commitment.

A picture of the Pont des Art with the Eglise Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois and Samaritaine in the background.
[Image Description: A picture of the Pont des Art with the Eglise Saint-Germain l’Auxerrois and Samaritaine in the background. The bridge with locks of gold and an array of other colors.] Via Unsplash
Officially, the lock bridge in Paris is called the Ponts des Arts. The bridge was built over the River Seine. It is a bridge for pedestrians that links the central square of the Palais du Louvre to the Institut de France, which makes it a popular spot for visitors and photographers. There is a total of 37 bridges across the Seine River within Paris, and only five of them are pedestrian bridges.

The bridge was built under the regime of Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte ordered the construction of the bridge on 15th March 1801 and it was fully constructed by 1804. The building of the Ponts des art introduced a new building material to the era. The lock bridge in Paris is actually the first successfully built iron bridge in France and the third iron bridge built worldwide.

Unfortunately, throughout its history, the bridge has had its fair share of incidents and damage. In World War I and World War II, the lock bridge experienced damage from two aerial bombings. There were also a number of boats that collided with the bridge before it finally collapsed when a ship rammed into it in 1979. (Yikes!)

The most recent incident occurred in 2015 when the bridge railing collapsed due to the weight of its many love locks (ops!). In response, the bridge became closed to the public for repair and the government removed padlocks from the bridge. There are said to be over a million locks on the bridge today. That is definitely a lot of locks! (The cynic in me wonders how many of those couples stayed together after their Parisian trip.)

While the tradition is quite famous in the city of love, it actually did not originate in Paris, and there are several other places where people hang love locks around the world. This includes Australia, China, Italy, Serbia, and New York. The exact origin of the tradition seems to be unclear. However, there are a few theories.

One theory is that the love lock tradition came from a town in Serbia around the time of World War II. The story is that a young man and woman were in love and would meet in the middle of the night on a bridge in the town of Vrnjačka Banja. During the war, the man went away because he was in the military. When the man left, he fell in love with another woman. (Definitely not cool!) Tragically, the woman he left died from heartbreak. The tradition of placing a lock on the bridge began due to superstition. Women began putting locks on the bridge in hope that their love would be everlasting.

A picture of the bottom of a light post on the Ponte Milvio. Around the bottom of the light post is a silver chain with locks attached to it.
[Image Description: A picture of the bottom of a light post on the Ponte Milvio. Around the bottom of the light post is a silver chain with locks attached to it.] Via Wikimedia Commons
Subsequently, Italian writer Federico Moccia is believed to be responsible for influencing the current wave of the tradition. In 2006, he published a book called I Want You, which was developed into a film. The book featured a couple who put a padlock on a bridge in Rome to symbolize their love. This influenced Italian couples to place locks on the Ponte Milvio bridge as well. From this instance, lock bridges began to become a prevalent attraction across the globe. With Paris being the city of love, the love lock bridge became an extremely well-known landmark and one of the most famous love lock bridges.

Despite the history of this romantic tradition and the Pont des Art bridge, there are now numerous debates about whether this tradition should still be allowed. Placing locks on the bridge in Paris and on other love lock locations has caused damage to architectural structures. It has also caused damage to the surrounding environments. This debate has been especially prevalent since the collapse of the railing of the Pont des Art.

So before taking part in this tradition in Paris or any place else, I suggest being informed on whether or not you are allowed to do so. Fines are definitely not fun, and neither is destroying a centuries-old piece of architecture!

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History Forgotten History Lost in History Historical Badasses

Black women were at the core of the Harlem Renaissance

For stories of Black history and excellence, check out our Black History Month series. Celebrate with us by sharing your favorite articles on social media and uplifting the stories, lives, and work of Black people.

I first heard about the Harlem Renaissance when watching Black Nativity, a retelling of the Nativity story with Black characters.

The Harlem Renaissance was a twentieth-century African-American movement in art, culture, literature, politics, and music. Creativity and intellectual life flourished at this time for African-American communities following the Great Migration, where hundreds of families migrated from the South to the North for economic opportunities and to acquire cultural capital. Major players include Langston Hughes, Adelaide Hall and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

The name Langston was a frequent recurrence in the Black Nativity and I thought to myself, “who was this man?” After researching, I found out that Langston Hughes was an exceptional poet who contributed immensely to the Harlem Renaissance. However, as great as Langston’s poetry is, I began to think about the countless Black women who must have had an influence on the birth of this new African American identity.

It was not limited to only Black men or just Harlem. Despite being centered in Harlem, it was a diasporic movement with Black Francophone writers in Paris being influenced.

[Image description: Meta Warrick Fuller] Via Library of Congress
As mentioned above, the Harlem Renaissance has been known to be about the emergence of new forms of art and literature by African Americans living in Harlem, New York. After the First World War, artists such as Meta Warrick Fuller were influenced by African themes and this was reflected in her artwork. She was the first Black woman to receive a federal commission for her art. One of her most notable sculptures, ‘Ethiopia Awakening’ (1914) catalyzed the resurgence of numerous African themes in the Harlem Renaissance.

[Image description: Jessie Redmon Fauset] Via Library of Congress
Jessie Redmon Fauset has been described as the “midwife of the Harlem Renaissance” due to her position as the literary editor of The Crisis, an NAACP magazine. Her position as editor gave her the opportunities to promote literary work relating to social movements of the era. Fauset was ahead of her time as an editor! She discouraged writers to write about their struggles being Black in the early 20th century but rather encouraged them to speak about positivity, ensuring there was positive representation of Black identity in the magazine.

It’s interesting to see how even back then there was a collective understanding of what constitutes Black joy, Black identity, and why it must be preserved for future generations. It’s just bittersweet to see that up until today Black people are still writing about struggle given our experiences in the world. I wonder what Fauset anticipated for the future of Black writers. Would they be writing about joy and positivity?

Her influence during the era was unmatched, she bolstered the careers of figures we now know to be Langston Hughes and Nella Larson.

[Image description: Josephine Baker poses for a portrait in a beaded gown in 1970.] Via Getty Images
Remember Betty Boop? She was inspired by Josephine Baker. Dubbed the trendsetter and fashionista of the Renaissance, she served as inspiration for Black women and white women at the time with her outfits. Even across the Atlantic, she was causing a commotion. I mean, this is nothing new.

One of the most notable aspects of her career as a dancer is her refusal to perform for segregated audiences and this speaks volumes. By refusing to do so, she acknowledged her worth and respected herself enough by not doing so. I guess not everything is worth the bag. Her fashion influence left people copying left, right and center. Josephine was an influencer before her time.

After shining a light on three prominent women during the Harlem Renaissance, I’ll remember that there are so many stories out there and sometimes you just have to find them. 

[Image Description: An illustrated graphic featuring several Black women with the text saying Black History Month in capital letters] Via The Tempest
[Image Description: An illustrated graphic featuring several Black women with the text saying Black History Month in capital letters] Via The Tempest
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History History of Fashion Fashion

Fashion on Ration: the revolutionary fashion trends started by World War Two

Do you remember the affluent aesthetic of the Roaring twenties in the Great Gatsby? Do you remember the opulent sequined dresses, the fur pieces, ruffled skirts, and the overdose of glitter? Recall Daisy Buchanan with her iconic headpieces and her flapper-esque bob hair cut? Well, it was all one decade away from being irrevocably changed.

The age of the Second World War (1939-1945) marked a turning point in fashion consciousness around the world. Though it may be difficult to imagine today, wartime dictated all other aspects of life, including fashion. That is to say, if you were alive then, men would be enlisted in the army and women would be deployed as nurses or factory workers (yes, the gender roles were pretty rigid at the time). There was simply no escaping the all-encompassing nature of war. But how did this monumental moment in history manifest into new fashion collections?

Battle of the Fabrics

[Image Description: A couple at an amusement park in the early 1940s.] via FIT, NY, Pinterest
Ever wonder how women transitioned from frilly Victorian gowns to knee-length skirts? Well, fashion is a product of its time and socio-political values. While fabric coverage was gradually minimized since the 1920s, it was shortages during World War Two which cemented “revealing” clothing as the norm. 

All resources and raw materials around the world, in most countries, were concentrated at battlefields. In fact, most countries at war had introduced rationing. This means that if you wanted to go shopping in wartime Britain, you had to make do with the 33 coupons of clothing a year which were allocated to each person.

There was also a law in place which specified the amount of fabric that could be used to create a specific piece of clothing. That meant no extra pleats, drapes, or folds; all trends which we may take for granted today. Yet, fashion houses used the scarcity as an impetus to create simpler and leaner silhouettes. So it was actually World War Two that ushered fashion into a classical form, featuring pencil skirts, button-down dresses, and so on.  

Simplicity, Practicality, and Androgyny          

[Image Description: Women guards, placed on duty at the Naval Ordnance Plant, operated by the Hudson Motor Car Company in Detroit, Mich. At present the girls are unarmed, serving only as escorts for persons entering the plant, but are using weapons on the target range in preparation.] via The Atlantic
The war also saw the emergence of a new woman. Previously confined to their homes, women were now included in the workforce. The look of the wartime woman had to be cast in terms of simplicity and practicality. Utilitarian clothing was the need of the hour. And utility found itself in the form of pants, blazers, and jumpsuits. These forms also began to resemble what was then seen as a more masculine aesthetic. At a time where nationalist sentiments were on high, there was a more conscious effort to dress in a more gender-fluid manner. This is also where the shoulder pads and straight collars (which are all the rage today) came around! The roots for androgynous clothing were thus struck.


Parisian fashion and the Nazis

In the years leading up to the war, Paris had established itself as the fashion capital of the world. However, with the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940, many great fashion designers faced two choices: flee the city, or surrender to the Nazis. Names which are mammoth in the fashion industry today were mired in controversy then. Hugo Boss, for instance, was responsible for making the Nazi uniforms. Yes, you read that right. The fearful and emblematic uniform, which wreaked much havoc in the world was being produced in Boss factories. Coco Chanel, too, came under fire for her Nazi allegiances. Due to the highly controversial nature of the fashion scene in Paris, New York stepped us the fashion leader of the world. 

Christian Dior’s New Look: an anti-feminist move? 

[Image description: Exhibit of the statement ensembles from Dior’s 1947 collection, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.] via Google Arts and Culture
After the end of the war in 1945, Christian Dior wanted to reinstate Paris as the fashion capital once again. As Paris had reclaimed its sovereignty, Dior also decided women needed a new look.  His debut haute couture collection that was launched in February 1947 was instantly branded as the New Look. His collection boasted sloping shoulders, pinched waistlines, and A-line skirts. Fabric was used in excess, the hats were animated and the gowns featured full volume. The wartime aesthetic was instantly dismissed. It was a kind of rebellion against the restrictions of wartime. It was a collection that supposedly symbolized democracy.

But did it truly? Wartime restrictions had ironically brought about a certain kind of independence for women. They were no longer imprisoned by corsets and impractical voluminous gowns.  During the war, the gender binary was slowly loosening up. Social gender roles were becoming more fluid. In fact, the practicality and convenience of clothing which we enjoy today finds its roots during wartime fashion. Dior’s attempt to bring back an overtly feminine aesthetic under the guise of nostalgia for the pre-war years could be seen as a regressive move in fashion history. The excessive padding around the hips for an antebellum appeal could indeed be one of the grossest forms of cultural appropriation.

After all, this is what Coco Chanel had to say about his collection: “Dior doesn’t dress women, he upholsters them.” And rightly so, Dior’s collection just became another instance of men telling women what to wear. 

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Tech Now + Beyond

Will facial recognition software bring more harm than good?

As someone deeply concerned about their digital footprint, I take privacy issues and precautions very seriously, especially when it comes to facial recognition. However, too often when I attempt to urge those closest to me to join me, I get asked “Why does it matter?, “What could they possibly want with my info?” and “If it’s all online anyway, what can I do?”

I do not know what is more alarming, the indifference or the ignorance.

I do not know what is more alarming, the indifference or the ignorance because both are interrelated and very necessary when it comes to securing your digital identity. For the same population that marveled at Deepfake videos of Obama and caused a public panic over the FaceApp’s usage of its user’s faces, we appear to be seemingly complacent with the very real possibility of mass deployment of such technologies. And as we move closer to a world where biometric security is the norm, none are more worry-inducing than the issues surrounding facial recognition software.

See, there are two types of usages for this type of technology: commercial applications and governmental applications, and both are equally concerning. Many of us use Face ID to unlock our phones and are comfortable with doing so because we have given our consent voluntarily to do so. However, what about Yandex’s advanced reverse image search function? Where you can pull up all information on a person that exists anywhere on the web-based on an image uploaded, even from private accounts.

There are two types of usages for this type of technology.

On a wider scale, a case of commercial unregulated use going wrong was Clearview AI, which had used the open web, including social media, to put together a database of three billion online images, which was then a victim of a data breach earlier this year. This was particularly troubling because Clearview AI’s clientele included multiple law enforcement agencies that used its services to solve cases.

On the other end, governments around the world are either already implementing such systems or in the process of awarding contracts for these. In Australia, in an effort to tackle identity fraud, the federal government was creating a national network verification service of sorts that could be accessible to private companies along with governmental agencies.

Alicem in France has already been rolled out for some public services, while in the UK, the Metropolitan Police in London have already deployed live facial recognition on the streets in the city, albeit as stated for ‘specific instances’ only.

In India, the largest democracy in the world, implementation of a nationwide facial recognition system, one of the biggest in the world, has been underway for a while now, causing quite a bit of stir with regards to exactly where and how it will be used.

I’m not entirely innocent either.

And of course, China’s surveillance state has been the subject of many discussions, made even more visible by Xinjiang, home to the Uighur minority, wherein it was used as an active tool to track down and detain dissidents.

So, what does this all mean?

Trust me, I’m not entirely innocent either, I have my face plastered all over the web under my name. Primarily because, I don’t really mind that my face is out there associated with my name, that’s how it is on all my official documents anyways. I do, however, mind my face being used for invasive surveillance tactics that undermine essential right to privacy.

There are various very right and truthful concerns with using facial recognition platforms, such as:

  • Accuracy checks and inherent biases are a key issue, as seen with other AI applications, and could manifest to the detriment of the population, especially more so for people of color.
  • While there are reports of 10,000 criminals were arrested in China using the technology, it has also been found that the Metropolitan Police’s deployment of facial recognition in the UK, found an 81% inaccuracy rate in the system.
  • If law enforcement and governmental authorities mandate facial recognition technology, there also exists the possibility that false positives and misidentifications could potentially rig the system unfairly against more vulnerable sections of society.
  • Abusing the systems for unrestrained surveillance is another issue. Setting aside ‘tinfoil hat’ claims, the potential for restraints to free speech is something we would definitely have to discuss.
  • And as with any other data collection platform, storage is a clear issue as it can oftentimes be either inaccessible, obscure, or insecure. And with non-consensual data collection, there is an even greater risk as seen with Clearview’s data breach.

I am not naïve either, I understand that there may already be live deployment of facial recognition technology surveillance being used in the places I’ve visited without my consent. I also understand the pull of such advancements; it’s exciting to be at the threshold of something science fiction has been heralding for years and there are, of course, use-cases wherein you could use the very technology to anonymize someone, generate a generic-looking face by scanning many others and transpose it onto someone’s face to hide the identity of at-risk people. And I don’t believe in outright bans either as San Francisco did, instead, I think maybe stricter regulations are the key here.

It’s a balancing act, after all, of proportionally weighing the right to privacy and security in the name of public interest. But at the same time, you only have one face, and it’s not as easy as changing your password to change your face. So, if there has ever been a time to care about what exactly you put online and how exactly you navigate online, now would be the right time to at the very least, start giving a shit.

Shopping Nails Gift Guides Beauty Lookbook

25 gorgeous halal nail polishes people actually swear by

We’re so excited that halal nail polishes have finally hit the market.

These polishes also offer the chance for your nails to rest. They help restore growth and strength back to your nails, and many come enhanced with vitamin B5, vitamin C, and argan oil. Some polishes are not tested on animals and are even vegan-friendly.

Breathable nail polish is a must-have item for Muslims wanting to rock a slaying mani while performing wudu. There has been wide debate as to whether or not the breathable polishes are truly halal, but it has been noted by a few users that after some testing the formula appears water-permeable. Whether you believe it or not, it’s significant that brands are making an effort to accommodate people’s different religious beliefs with their products.

“If something is blocking [your nails], that is not acceptable,” says Habib Ghanim, director of ISWA Halal Certification Department and president of USA Halal Chamber of Commerce. “When wudu is performed, water has to touch every part of your body. If you have nail polish on that is non-porous, that is not considered halal.”

Although many brands are popping up offering halal cosmetics, the products are still relatively new and it can, therefore, be difficult to suss out all options on offer. This list showcases some glorious alternatives to your typical nail polishes, leaving your fingertips free for any and every color you could possibly imagine.


1. This glimmering gold nail polish perfect for the red carpet. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of 786 Cosmetics nail polish.] via
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of 786 Cosmetics nail polish.] via
What people are saying: “I transitioned to non-toxic nail polish recently and noticed a huge difference in the health of my nails (and allergies). Really cool. I used the polish for my french manicure tips and it works perfectly. No smell, dried fast, no streaking, consistent texture, and color. I would get again.”—T

Get it from Amazon for $12.95.


2. A pearly pink polish that’s a stimulating burst of color for your nails.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Inglot nail polish.] via Amazon
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Inglot nail polish.] via Amazon
What people are saying: “I’ve used it now for several weeks and my previously split and cracked nails are stronger than when I used regular nail polish. I’ll purchase more!” —Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $19.99.


3. Summer’s never over when this bright pink polish is on your nails. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Tuesday in Love nail polish.] via Tuesday in Love
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Tuesday in Love nail polish.] via Tuesday in Love
What people are saying: “I am so happy with this polish. I’ve been waiting to replace all my old polish with a great chemical-free, or ‘cleaner’ polish and here it is! The coverage is great, dries quickly, and has great durability.” —Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $15.98.


4. Keep your nails refreshed with some tangerine tones.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of MAYA nail polish.] via MAYA
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of MAYA nail polish.] via MAYA
What people are saying: “I stopped wearing nail polish because my nails had become so damaged, but I missed my pretty manicures. I tried a few “healthier” nail polishes but was so disappointed with the results that I almost gave up. SO glad I didn’t. This nail polish goes on so creamy and dries to a super hard finish that’s lasted for days! Plus, my nails are doing just fine. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that oxygen gets through. Whatever it is, love the results!!!”Fran

Get it from Amazon for $13.99.


Plus Size Clothing

5. Live it up a little with a pop of pale mauve polish.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Amari New York nail polish.] via Amari New York
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Amari New York nail polish.] via Amari New York
What people are saying: “Mashallah, the color is simply beautiful; and what makes it more unique is the ability for me to feel beautiful without compromising my faith. Furthermore, the seller gave me an extra polish (top coat) with my purchase.” —Isatta Feika

Get it from Etsy for $11.99.


6. Don’t wait for spring to be able to rock the season on your nails. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of VIVRE Cosmetics nail polish.] via VIVRE Cosmetics
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of VIVRE Cosmetics nail polish.] via VIVRE Cosmetics
What people are saying: “Really good nail polish! It feels nice and isn’t goopy, clumpy or stringy or anything like that. It feels light and healthy and at the same time true to color. I’m very happy with the results! ? it also dries pretty fast.” —Lizzy

Get it from Amazon for $12.99.


7. The perfect shade to pair with gold accessories, no matter what you’re up to.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of 786 Cosmetics nail polish.] via
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of 786 Cosmetics nail polish.] via
What people are saying: “The formula is smooth and goes on very easily. It dries quickly. It’s remained intact through a shower, multiple handwashings, and giving a toddler a bath. I absolutely love it!” —Ashley M. James

Get it from Amazon for $13.95.


8. Play up your evening out with this royal purple

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Karma nail polish.] via Etsy
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Karma nail polish.] via Etsy
What people are saying: “Love this nail polish. There are so many great colors to choose from and the ingredients are better than a lot of other nail polishes. It’s easy to apply and it’s long lasting. Thank you!” —Karen

Get it from Etsy for $9.99.


9. Channel some mermaid vibes with this shimmery aqua shade.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Orly nail polish.] via
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Orly nail polish.] via
What people are saying: “Loved the color and the polish stayed on for at least 5 days and then it only chipped slightly. I had heard some of Orly’s nail colors don’t even dry fully so I was skeptical about this but my experience was a positive one!!” — Edie Superstar

Get it from Amazon for $9.99.


10. Feeling like showing love for fall? This nail polish will help you out.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of ZOYA nail polish.] via ZOYA
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of ZOYA nail polish.] via ZOYA
What people are saying: “Tried it and it applies nicely, looks streaky at first but after a few seconds smooths out. Only needed to apply two coats and didn’t use a base or topcoat at all. I can be rough with nails as a nurse and cleaning at home. I definitely recommend, and can’t wait to paint my little girl’s nails too.” —Vanessa M

Get it from Amazon for $10.00.


11. A muted classic polish you can wear any day of the week.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Karma nail polish.] via Karma
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Karma nail polish.] via Karma
What people are saying: “Just received this little gem today and although I went for the other color first I am equally excited to try this beauty out as well! Christmas is coming up annnnd this would make amazing gifts….hint…hint ;)” —Stacy D

Get it from Etsy for $13.99.


12. Keep life grounded with a deep brick red nail polish from Orly.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Orly nail polish.] via
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Orly nail polish.] via
What people are saying: “Wow! This color is so beautiful. Love this brand and color. I’m a winter girl & this red is fabulous.” — Beauty Professional

Get it from Amazon for $8.95.


13. A deep chocolate color to give you dramatic, vamp-like nails that would make Elvira nod her head in approval.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Inglot nail polish.] via Amazon
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Inglot nail polish.] via Amazon
What people are saying: “Wanting a healthier nail polish, I’d heard about Halal polishes and thought I’d give it a try. I’ll never go back to regular polishes! This was nice and my nails were in great shape once I took the polish off.”—1husband2sons

Get it from Amazon for $19.99.


14. A black polish that’s as dark as your soul. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Amari New York nail polish.] via Amari New York
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Amari New York nail polish.] via Amari New York
What people are saying: “Fast and excellent service, came beautifully packaged. I am extremely satisfied. You have a permanent customer!!” —Umm Uwais

Get it from Etsy for $11.99.


15. A gentle-on-your-nails polish with a gorgeous color to boot. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Tuesday in Love nail polish.] via Tuesday in Love
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Tuesday in Love nail polish.] via Tuesday in Love
What people are saying: “I loved this! It lasted for so long on my toes and hands!”—Rowda

Get it from Amazon for $15.98.


16. Rock a softly nude polish for the perfect date night. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of 786 Cosmetics nail polish.] via 786 Cosmetics
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of 786 Cosmetics nail polish.] via 786 Cosmetics
What people are saying: “Love this natural light pink color and notice that water is able to go through enough during wudu.” —Aya B.

Get it from Amazon for $13.95.


17. This gorgeous purple polish that Queen Elizabeth would wear because it’s the color of royalty. Get it?

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Karma nail polish.] via Karma
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Karma nail polish.] via Karma
What people are saying: “Fast Shipping (as always) and LOVE this color. Thank you!”—Rumibella

Get it from Etsy for $13.99.


18. The perfect holographic aqua polish for you to layer on around the year. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of ZOYA nail polish.] via ZOYA
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of ZOYA nail polish.] via ZOYA
What people are saying: “My new favorite glitter polish! It’s very sheer with one coat but can be built up to opaque. It has a slightly matte finish which I do not like, I need my polishes to have a shiny glass finish. You can achieve the shiny glass finish by applying a topcoat over this polish however due to the texture it eats topcoat right up so you’ll need 2 to even be shiny but still slightly gritty and 3 gets you a shiny glass-like finish which makes the glitters and holo effect stand way out with this polish!”—Kara

Get it from Amazon for $10.00.


19. Bring it back to some classic bubblegum pink with this nail polish

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of VIVRE Cosmetics nail polish.] via VIVRE Cosmetics
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of VIVRE Cosmetics nail polish.] via VIVRE Cosmetics
What people are saying: “I love it. Absolutely amazing. It is smooth and dries quite fast. Highly recommend.”—Y C

Get it from Amazon for $13.99.


20. Swipe on some deep red nail polish to set off your edgy look. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Amari New York nail polish.] via Amari New York
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Amari New York nail polish.] via Amari New York
What people are saying: “Beautiful color, beautiful packaging, and fast delivery! Thank you, Amari!”—Liyali

Get it from Amazon for $11.99.


21. A metallic blush shade that’s perfect for any brunch outing.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of MAYA nail polish.] via MAYA
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of MAYA nail polish.] via MAYA
What people are saying: “Surprised by getting it so fast; by one coat covering nicely (although I recommend 2 coats); by how pretty the color (barely there is) and how it’s so similar to regular nail polish. I actually would not know the difference because it’s so smooth. I only gave it a 4 star because even the smell of regular nail polish is the same and it’s a bit pricey. Overall I really like it and hope to get more shades. It’s worth it! Now I can pray with nail polish and not feel guilty.” —Shania

Get it from Amazon for $16.08.


22. A simple yet striking maroon polish perfect for the season. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of 786 Cosmetics nail polish.] via 786 Cosmetics
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of 786 Cosmetics nail polish.] via 786 Cosmetics
What people are saying: “I love 786 polish! Wudu-friendly, goes on smooth, dries hard and lasts 10 days on my toes. It also lacks many of those disturbing ingredients used by other companies.” —ModestyMaven

Get it from Amazon for $13.95.


23. The lavender we didn’t know we needed. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Vivre nail polish.] via Amazon
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Vivre nail polish.] via Amazon
What people are saying: “It’s subtle but still colorful enough to make a pop. It’s one of those colors that goes well with light and dark clothing and I have gotten so many compliments! I was also worried that being a breathable polish meant that it would be super thin but even just one coat was thick enough to cover everything.” —Amazon Customer

Get it from Amazon for $12.99.


24. Glam it up without harming your nails – if that isn’t a win-win, I don’t know what is. 

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Etsy nail polish.] via Etsy
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Karma Hues nail polish.] via Etsy
What people are saying: “Oh! How can I LOVE a fingernail polish color this much??? But I do!!! It is just spot on let me tell you!! Not too dark, not too light, just AMAZING!!! Thank You!!!” —Suzzette McCoy

Get it from Etsy for $9.99.


25. A delectable rose shimmer Orly nail polish to make a big statement.

[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Orly nail polish.] via
[Image description: Swatch and bottle of Orly nail polish.] via
What people are saying: “I love this polish! The color is fabulous and the “breathable” formula is the first nail polish I’ve been able to use for extended periods.” — V.S. Herlocker

Get it from Amazon for $8.90.

Life Hacks Editor's Picks Money Now + Beyond

I learned the true value of money through financial struggles

Living at home during university had its perks.

However, I still had tuition fees which made finding a job was essential. I applied for everything that came my way, but it became clear that I didn’t have enough professional experience. So, I took up volunteering at a woman’s charity and developed skills in mentoring, counseling and administrative duties. 

As I hunted for work, money trickled out of my account. At first, it didn’t bother me, work would come eventually.

But as the summer of 2017 swung around and graduation came and went, I still had no job. Once September arrived, I could either spend my days applying for a job or get my Masters.

Starting my Masters, was daring – I had to take out a loan to pay the tuition fees and fund myself for textbooks.

My mental health began to suffer but I kept it to myself. I didn’t want sympathy or attention but it started to affect my assignments and I developed writer’s and reader’s block. I went through three months of doing nothing because I was falling out of love with education. In my mind, I was developing these toxic thoughts because I saw others who hated school, making money. And there was me – the girl who had loved education, now feeling like it had failed me.

Then my family made the decision to go to Paris.

I couldn’t spend £500 on a week-long holiday and I was devastated. My dream holiday was at arm’s reach – but I wouldn’t be able to go. I had to tell my family they would have to go without me and they were surprised but I had to be honest. I felt like a failure when they decided to pay for me and my mental health was impacted further. 

I began to cry myself to sleep most nights as money continued to stream out. I was having trouble sleeping and that caused more problems with my masters. My professor suspected something was wrong but I refused to tell her because I didn’t want her help or for her to feel sorry for me. I faked a smile at everyone’s good fortunes and cried looking at my bank statement. I was turning into a materialistic, jealous person who wanted everything that everyone else had and I hated it.

And then a change of fate came in June 2018 when I was offered my current job. After months and months of applications and rejections, I was finally going to start working full time.

And it also meant I would be earning money.

My mood changed. I was happier and everyone seemed to be happy for me. I refrained from spending any money until my first payslip came through and when I saw the money come into my account, I cried happy tears.

I paid my family back for the holiday and I had the time of my life in Paris. I began properly budgeting and financing my money because I still had loans to pay back but I also could pay for things myself (like insurance and a new laptop) and not have to worry about being a financial burden on others. My writer’s and reader’s block ended gradually and I was able to fly through my research paper, receiving top marks. My mental health improved greatly and I was able to finally enjoy my favorite things once again.

The effect of not being able to do everything you intended on, ruins you and everything you believed in is shattered before your eyes. I believe in education but during those dark months, I started to fall out of love of something I had advocated for. 

It turns out it was never education that I hated. It was the idea of not having money to do everything that made me happy and there are so many people who believe the same. It’s not the money that will make them happy – it’s what they can do with it.

When we are young, we don’t understand the concept of money. As time passes and the older we get, happiness falls upon our income.

Being able to actually live our lives and take care of ourselves and the people around us as well as having dreams and motivations is fulfilling all in its own because we have something to work for and all of that is only possible with money. This isn’t me saying let’s all turn into materialistic people who believe that money is everything – those people will never know struggle or understand the true value of money.

For others like me, the money will never be the reward. It’s the feeling of satisfaction and pride that you can dare to live and enjoy life for everything that it has to offer.

World News The World

Petition to put the first ethnic minority on British currency grows

The UK is currently looking for portraits of historical British icons for their currency redesign. The announcement from the Bank of England was made in late 2018 and has ignited campaigns for those deemed worthy of the spot.

Petition by political blog Guido Fawkes backed former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to be the face of the note, whereas, the physicist Stephen Hawking was also nominated.

Amongst these familiar figures are many unknown names and faces recommended for the honor is Noor Inayat Khan, the Muslim spy from India who spied for Britain during World War II. The petition to put the children’s book author turned spy on the banknote gained the support of feminist activist and journalist Caroline Criado-Perez and Sayeeda Warsi, first Muslim woman to serve in British Cabinet.

Despite the recent push to put Khan on the note, her story is relatively forgotten in history.

Descending from the legendary 18th century King of Mysore Tipu Sultan, Khan’s upbringing was one of pacifism. Gifted in poetry and music, she studied child psychology and music and wrote children’s books in Paris, France.

Her military career began when her family fled to the UK after France surrendered to the Nazis in the 1940s. Here, Khan made the decision to sign up for the Women’s Auxillary Air Force. Soon after, she joined the espionage organization, Special Operations Executive (SOE).

She would become the first female radio operator to infiltrate occupied France in 1943 under the code name ‘Madeline’. Khan proved her effectiveness and skill in her field, refusing to abandon the most dangerous position in France when SS soldiers began to crack down on French Resistance groups, which she spied for, too.

However, only three months into her operation, she was betrayed by a Frenchwoman who turned her to the Germans. Interrogations and torture proved futile for Khan, as she refused to give any information. Her silence earned her a “highly dangerous” classification and she was transferred to Germany.

In 1944, after 10 months of starvation and torture, she moved with four other women to the Dachau concentration camp, where they were executed. Her last words were ‘Liberte’.

Despite her courage and heroism, she has become a footnote in history. 

Khan received the George Cross and the Croix de Guerre from the UK and France posthumously after the war ended. In 2012, a bronze bust was dedicated to her in London, close to her former home. This was a step in acknowledging her contributions almost 70 years after her death.

Khan was one of three women to join the SOE and the only one who died during active service. Yet, she was sidelined, despite her sacrifice for Britain, a country that was suspicious and critical of her father’s close relations with Indian freedom fighters. 

To this day, her story is relatively unknown. The recent campaign to have her portrait on British currency has again highlighted her bravery. Yet, many people still do not know who she is. Learning and reading about her has made me appreciate her and her sacrifice so much more. I can only hope for the same for others. 

Khan deserves all the honor of any wartime hero. She is an example of the greatness Muslim women have and will always achieve. And in a country where nationalist and anti-Islamic sentiment is still rife, her story is an example of the importance of remembering Muslim women.

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“An Inconvenient Sequel” will bear the truth and horror of climate change

The other day I was sitting in a theater waiting for the feature movie to begin. A trailer for a horror projected onto the screen. But it wasn’t your average slasher or murderer-next-door film, it was a movie about the Earth’s climate.

The trailer was for “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” a documentary about the progress made to solve the climate change problem and Former Vice President Al Gore’s work in asking government leaders to support and invest in renewable energy.

Debuting in some theaters on July 28, the movie is a sequel to the 2006 film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which was directed by David Guggenheim and followed Gore on a series of lectures to raise awareness about the dangers of global warming. The film was the most talked-about documentary at Sundance.

The new trailer begins with someone who could perhaps be the environment’s greatest enemy:  President Donald Trump. He mocks the idea of global warming with the statement, “It’s supposed to be 70 degrees here; it’s freezing here. Speaking of global warming … we need some global warming.”

As the eerie music accompanied the dangerous rhetoric of our now-president and the laughs of his die-hard fans, I got chills— and not the good kind.

Clips of natural disasters flashed onto the screen, such as Hurricane Sandy flooding the 9/11 Memorial and the victims of its wrath.

A momentary glimpse of hope replaces the horror as footage of nearly all of the world’s officials agree to work toward no greenhouse emissions. But another clip of Trump sent my mood into a downward spiral, knowing that he has already succeeded in pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.

paris agreement, inconvenient sequel











The words “Fight like your world depends on it” took over the black screen. That’s when I realized that we really are in the fight for our lives.

As we ban together to make strides against climate change, we cannot let the current administration derail our progress. “An Inconvenient Sequel” reinforces the idea that humankind is capable of saving this planet—our only inhabitable one—so long as we all work in tandem.

We each play a role. Perhaps you cannot install solar panels on your roof but you can carpool or take public transit to work twice a week. Or, you could speak up when you hear climate change-denying rhetoric.

Nevertheless, your first step could be to watch “An Inconvenient Truth,” and its new continuation, “An Inconvenient Sequel.”


5 Environmentally-conscious habits you can adopt right now

Despite what some prominent politicians might say, climate change IS real and it IS a real problem. With the polar ice caps literally melting, every little thing we can do to help the environment will help. People sometimes have a defeatist attitude when it comes to change. It’s difficult looking at the world and thinking, “yes, I can change that.” It’s much easier to look at a big problem and say, “that’s out of my pay grade. I’ll never be able to enact change in that aspect of life. I’m just one person – what can I do?” And that’s the exact opposite of how you have to live.

We can change the world. And with regards to the environment and climate change, we have to if we want future generations to enjoy the planet that we have exploited.

Becoming more environmentally conscious isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Obviously you can go to the extreme and try to live Zero Waste. But for most people, that isn’t a feasible option. It works really well for people like Lauren Singer, who is a face for the Zero Waste movement and the CEO of The Simply Co, a simplified laundry detergent. But not everyone can adhere to a single-mason-jar-of-trash kind of lifestyle.

So how do we make the change to be more environmentally conscious in our own lives without completely changing our lives? Quite easily, actually. We just start small. Here are five different tips that you can use to make the switch to helping the environment every day. Remember – we can all affect change. And if we all do a little, it becomes a lot.

1. Refuse Straws (Where You Can)

I know this sounds really small. But I did say we’d be starting small. Plastic straws literally take thousands of years to biodegrade. And, you can’t recycle them. That straw you have in your Starbucks, or in your soda, or in your cocktail at the bar? That straw will be on the planet long after we’ve destroyed it.

Obviously I’m not telling you never use another straw ever again in your life. But where you can, like at restaurants where they serve you drinks in a glass, drink from the glass instead of using the straw. It’s a simple change.

If you want to go the extra mile, buy a couple reusable stainless-steel straws. They are an investment in never needing another straw again. You can buy them online between $8-16. Here is a pack of six for $15 from Sur la Table. With stainless-steel straws, you keep one in your bag for when you go out and then when the need arises for a straw, here you are with your own environment-saving option!

2. Bring Your Own (Grocery) Bags

This one is also simple. With more and more cities putting a tax onto plastic grocery bags, it only makes sense to bring your own. Plastic bags are also a leading cause in the deaths of marine life, because they are clogging the oceans and strangling or choking different marine animals. And if you’ve ever gone to the grocery store, they always end up giving you around three times the amount of bags you actually need when they double-bag your items.

And it isn’t just for groceries. A lot of clothing stores or any place that sells items will give you the items in a plastic bag. Even if you’re buying gum (true story – I stopped at a pharmacy and bought a pack of gum and they asked if I wanted a bag), they’ll offer.

So avoid that all together and bring your own bags. I personally am a fan of the tote bag, but I also own a cooler bag for when I buy frozen foods or things like produce that need to be kept cool. I’ve had my bags for years, and they definitely work for me.

Another way you can bring your own bags while doing another environmentally-conscious thing and re-purposing something old is turning old and unused t-shirts into produce or grocery bags. All you need is an old t-shirt and some scissors and you can a cool new bag to grab food with. Here is a tutorial on how to make one.  Use them the next time you go shopping!

3. Avoid Recycling Mistakes

Recycling really is a huge step forward. I know it seems like it is self-explanatory, but it really is good for the environment. But, we have to be smart about how – and what – we recycle. Sometimes we might be doing more harm than good in some cases.

The top mistakes to avoid include recycling paper coated with plastic, not realizing which kinds of plastics can and can’t be recycled, and not removing all of the food from the containers we are recycling.

With the plastic coated paper, think about items like a paper Starbucks cup. I have definitely been guilty of recycling those cups in the past. But the plastic coating makes them unable to be recycled. Unfortunately, they go right into the trash. But the iced drinks cups can be recycled! Or can they?

They can. The cups are made of plastic #5, which is easily recyclable. But other plastics aren’t. For instance, many plastic drink containers are recyclable, but the caps are not. Readily recyclable plastics are numbers 1, 2, 5, and 6, whereas 3, 4, and 7 are not recyclable. So check your container next time. Not all plastics are made equal.

The last big mistake that a lot of people make is not doing a thorough rinse of their containers before they put them into the bin. Really make sure that all the food is off, because if you send recyclables to the plant that have food on them, they might not get recycled. Or if they are recycled, they might lower the quality of the recycled material, which might be trashed, and then your effort would be a waste! Also, if you want to find different recycling centers near you, search on, and they can show you where to recycle everything from electronics to automotive parts.

4. Be Cognizant of Electricity

Carl Burton

How many electronic items do you have plugged in right now? How many are you using actively? Could you unplug something?

The answer is probably yes. In the past, when you turned off an appliance, it was actually off and drawing no more power. But today, even if something is off or in sleep mode, if it is plugged in, the odds are it is still drawing almost the same amount of power that it would be if it were on. This doesn’t hold true for everything – unplugging appliances like a dishwasher, washing machine, refrigerator doesn’t make much of a difference because they use about the same amount of energy regardless. But unplugging something like your computer can save you some money every year by not having it constantly drawing power.

Another electrical idea that you should be aware of is turning off the light when you leave a room. Leaving the lights on costs you a lot of money, and constantly running something like that contributes greatly to the carbon dioxide emissions. In the United States, 37 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions comes from electricity production. So remember – turn your lights off and unplug your chargers!


The best and easiest way to help the environment is to elect officials who care about the environment. Find politicians who care about climate change and support them in their endeavors. It doesn’t necessarily have to be their main focus as a politician. But knowing that they care and will vote to help heal the world and vote for better initiatives will do worlds of good.

The Tempest Radio Mixes Audio + Visual


After a long day at school or work, you’re exhausted, mentally drained and need to destress. You have a million things to do when you get home but don’t want to think about them as you’re driving home. Wouldn’t you much rather just take your mind off work load, listen to some good music, and sing your heart out?

This is the mix I listen to on my drive home.

It’s a mix of songs about the ups and downs in life, friendships, relationships, and everything in between. These songs are both emotional and uplifting-making them a great combination to listen to as you’re driving on the road. This mix will take you through the journey’s and lives of the artists and leads you to pause and reflect on your own life experiences. So here goes…

1. Castle on the Hill || Ed Sheeeran

Image Source

This single by Ed Sheeran takes you on a ride to his home town of Framlingham, England. It’s nostalgic and reminiscent of memories with old friends and journey’s with ex-lovers.

2. Love Me Now || John Legend

Image Source

This is the lead single from John Legend’s fifth studio album, Darkness and Light. According to Legend, the song is all about living and love to the fullest, despite life’s obstacles.

3. All Time Low || Jon Bellion

Image Source

If you had a bad day at work, then this is the song to listen to. It’s not the most uplifting, but it’s comforting in the sense that you’re not alone. It’s a pretty emotional song,  but it’s great to sing along to when you’re stuck in traffic.

4. Say You Won’t Let Go || James Arthur

Image Source

This single by James Arthur is from his album Back from the Edge. In the song, Arthur discusses the importance of patience and sacrifice in relationships.

5.  Paris || The Chainsmokers

Image Source

This single by The Chainsmokers is now doing better in the charts than their previous hit “Closer.” It has a softer touch and is perfect for a long drive home.

6. Shape of You || Ed Sheeran

Image Source

Sorry, but I had to put in another Ed Sheeran song. This song is too good not to include and it has been at the top of many charts recently,

7. Unsteady || X Ambassadors

Image Source

This is the kind of song that is perfect to sing along to when you’re along in the car. To be honest, I wouldn’t want other people listening to me singing my heart out to “Unsteady.”

8. Mercy || Shawn Mendes

Image Source

In this track, Shawn Mendes is asking his lover to be gentle with his heart. Though it has a somber touch, it’s perfect for the long drive home.


Because we love you, we compiled all your new favorite songs in one playlist. Enjoy!

[cue id=”45557″]

Food & Drinks Life

Learning how not to cook from my mother

“It’s actually a very simple dish you can prepare very quickly,” my mother says while she scoops out a cup of rice into a large pot and then pours half a cup of water over it. (Or was it the other way around?) Sniffling and tearing up through burning eyes, I dice the large onions that will serve as the base for the meal.

She takes the cutting board from me before I am finished dicing, and scrapes the diced onions into a saucepan hot with olive oil.

“You need onions for every meal. Onions and garlic. And cumin. And of course salt and pepper.”

I ask her, how much salt and pepper? And is it a teaspoon of cumin? What constitutes a “large” onion? How many cloves of garlic?

“Just a bit of salt and pepper. And enough cumin so that when you add it to the onion and garlic you can smell it distinctly,” she says while she’s already moved on to the next task, scooping out tomato paste into the saucepan.

“And then you add the tomato paste,” she says, banging the spoon against the saucepan as she tries to get every bit of tomato into the pan.

She moves on to adding water and chicken broth into the mixture.

“Chicken broth will give it a rich taste. But if you don’t want it to be too salty even it out with water.”

But what about the onion and garlic? How big are they supposed to be? And what size spoon did she use to scoop out the tomato paste? When am I supposed to add the tomato paste? Do I add the chicken broth or the water first? Do I cover the pan to let them boil?

She takes out a whole chicken to clean and trim the fat.

I mumble something about American households eating a disproportionate amount of meat compared to the rest of the world.

“What do you want me to feed your dad and brother then? Did you know, when I was single and living in Paris, I would have soup for dinner every day. I love soup. And it didn’t even need to have meat in it. That’s why I used to be so thin.”

I love hearing my mother talk about this time. While the onion-garlic-tomato-chicken broth mixture boiled, sometimes with a lid on top of the saucepan and sometimes without, I turn my attention away and ask my mother about being an international nursing student in 1970s Paris.

“You would walk with your bread basket to the local bakery,” she reminisced, smiling. “And pick up baguettes and cheese for breakfast.”

I remembered marveling at the blurry sepia photographs I stumbled upon of my mother wearing an elegant plaid coat and brown leather boots, looking over the Seine during a Parisian fall, smiling her full toothed smile that people say I’ve adopted from her.

“We lived in an international house so we would have dinners and people would make food from back home. My closest friends were these Kenyan nursing students,” she explains while she seasons the chicken, stuffing salt into the skin.

I watch her gloveless hands season the chicken rapidly and then place it in the oven. She washes a few large dishes and her hands before retiring to the living room couch while she waits for the chicken to bake.

“I was very fluent in French,” she names off some French words she used often legs outstretched on the sofa in her standard post-cooking exhaustion pose.

“Okay, so do you know how to make tomato pea stew with chicken now?”


Five years later, in my own home with my own kitchen with my own utensils and groceries that I bought,  I try to remember the steps in making tomato pea stew.

How many cloves of garlic? Is this onion too big? I don’t have any cumin – is that going to be a problem?

Eventually, I give up and end up going through my Pinterest dinner board for a recipe that I’ve made before: one pot chicken and potatoes.

1 large yellow onion (about 1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin

The recipe is precise. I have all the ingredients. It is quick. It is easy. I could be done in no time. The kitchen is quiet.

I call my mother.

“Mama, for tomato and pea stew, how much cumin should I add?”