By: Miranda Babbit

 

Oh, Valentine’s Day. You swoop into our lives once a year and leave behind a trail of half-eaten chocolates and half-met expectations. The pressure hugging Valentine’s Day is kind of like an anaconda, isn’t it? We see it coming, our palms sweating in anticipation, we fix a look of nonchalance on our faces, but with each casual breath, the grip is tightened. Where’s our friendly little cupid now? Take that arrow and shoot this anaconda down!

Doesn’t look like he’s coming.

But fear not, sweet sweet lovers of McMaster University. Three words will release you from the pressure of this looming creature: coffee shop dates. Your wallet is emerging from a stress-coma, and your tummy is preparing itself for a line of freshly baked pastries. No need to worry about opera tickets or dinners that will leave you homeless, sellers of your caffeinated friend are here to save the day.

 

1) Mulberry Coffee House- 193 James Street North

On the corner of Mulberry and James Street, distressed brick walls protect one of the most beautiful gems as far as coffee shops go. It feels as if you’ve walked into an old home that has been made into a makeshift coffee house to feed the steady stream of artists and musicians meandering through its doors. The first time I ventured in, the cashier was wearing a candy-striper dress and the barista whipping up my cappuccino was whistling the cheeriest tune. Then I looked at the walls and all this crazy art is staring back at me. I had some serious eye contact with an intricately made cardboard lion mask. The selling point for a potential date here is the general volume of the place. Paired with the bumping music and lively, artsy conversations going on, no one will be able to creepily listen in on your romantic whispers. Who eavesdrops nowadays anyway? (Not me...) All in all this coffee shop receives three out of three shots of espresso for its lively energy- and an extra shot of vanilla syrup for the whistling barista.

 

2) Johnny’s Coffee- 129 Locke Street South

Locke Street is one of the most charming streets in Hamilton. Home to some damn delicious bagels and out-of-this-world burgers, it’s only fitting it has an equally admired coffee shop. Johnny’s Coffee is as quaint as coffee shops can get. It seats roughly 15 people, which adds to its cozy air.

Now although you’re very close to the tables next to you, somehow there is no judgment from the seats next to you. No eavesdroppers allowed. Damn. A little birdy told me that one of the baristas was recruited from Starbucks for his cappuccino mastery. I can believe it. If you’re going out with an intellectual, please note the chess table in the back, and even if he or she doesn’t play, you can impress your date with a hypothetical knack for logic. Maybe guide their hand with the piece as if you’re teaching them how to play golf (so much unnecessary physical contact). Personally, I recommend the almond croissant, which can conveniently be split down the middle. Or, you could be particularly naughty and feed each other (although nearby customers may vomit at the high dose of PDA in the region).

 

3) My Dog Joe- 1020 King Street West

Ah, My Dog Joe. How could I leave out our closest friend in the heart of Westdale? For those of you who haven’t made your way in, be prepared to meet your new home away from home. As soon as you’re greeted by the scent of freshly baked cookies warming your chilly bodies, you’ll know what I mean. You may eye the goodies tempting you from behind the glass, but don’t worry, it’s unlikely your date will be jealous unless you start giggling with the cookies.

There’s also always a collection of intriguing local art on the walls, which is nice to stare at when the conversation dulls (that won’t happen to you though, don’t worry). Back to the cookies and baked goods – they will mystify you. You and your date may or may not start daydreaming about the things you would do if you could be alone in a room with just you and the muffin collection. Their famous drink is the White Chocolate Raspberry Mocha. So many delicious adjectives in one drink.

 

If you stick to one of these spots, the magic of Valentine’s Day certainly won’t be sacrificed. Now get out there and enjoy the chance to be obnoxious with PDA, we’re only giving you this one day.

By: Miranda Babbitt

 

If you have ever organized a night dedicated to girlish giggles and (not-so) scandalous secrets, otherwise known as a sleepover, you already know that the pajamas you’ll throw on are no longer a matter of comfort. As much as we would like our friends to believe that we wake up with bouncing curls in our hair, perfected eyebrows, and shimmering eyelids, that illusion will shatter when you emerge from the bathroom in a three year old summer camp t-shirt and a pair of sweats that look more like shrunken bell-bottoms everyday. So what realistic options do you have? Are you doomed to a broken social life after a single sleepover? No, no, no. Don’t think like that. Consider your options:

 

  1. Silk, baby-blue lingerie with fuzzy faux-fur slippers.

Oh, you vixen, you! There are two perks to this choice. One, you’re a real-life dream come true to all the men who still believe that sleepovers consist of pillow fights in nighties, rather than three sobbing girls reciting lines from The Notebook. Two, you may be able to convince your friends that the reason you’re nonchalantly wearing lingerie to a sleepover is quite simply because of the endless number of occasions in your life that call for such attire. I mean, look outside: your suitors are lined up around the block.

  1. A classic, cow-print onesie.

Any other print will do, really. The beauty of onesies is that they don’t sacrifice comfort at all. In fact, they kind of define comfort. You’re covered head to toe in a blanket and can technically call it clothes. Praise the onesie.

I should warn you though. Onesies do not bode well in the heat. What, it’s still hilarious? No. Resist. Nothing is more painful than facing the sweaty reality that the stench intruding the room is thanks to your piggy onesie.

  1.  Matching sets!

Ah, the matching pajama sets. It’s what your mother forced you to wear until you got your first concert t-shirt, and subsequently rebelled against her fascist wardrobe demands to sleep in the much preferred Avril Lavigne shirt instead. I just hope you didn’t make the mistake of wearing a tie over your t-shirt too (Avril-swag failed me miserably).

Despite the bad rep matching sets had when you were younger, let’s get over our angst and admit it – that shit was comfortable. It’s usually some ridiculously soft material, while covered in a rather cheerful or humorous print. My personal favourite is covered in cupcakes and as nauseating as I may look to the average sleepover attendee, nothing can penetrate my bubble of happiness.

  1. Your birthday suit!

If all else fails, you can go nude. Minimalist, understated, elegant. Also you will really freak out your guests and might get your spot on the couch back.

By: Miranda Babbitt

 

In dark, forgotten corners of the city, often teeming with crime and deceit, lay hidden avenues bustling with long-lost surprises. Thrift stores.

Now if you have ever considered venturing into this dangerous pocket of society, be prepared. The trip there will likely test your ingenuity, courage and possibly your agility as you overcome the winding bus routes and horrors of public transit. Ideally, you will have at least five different weapons on you, including, ideally, a bow and arrow. The bow and arrow will catch your opponents by surprise and your “street cred” will inevitably skyrocket.

Once you enter your thrift store of choice, do not make eye contact with the employees. You will only be met with judgment. Who cares about your shallow desire to have a “distressed flannel shirt” or “unintentionally but intentionally ripped 90’s mom jeans?”

Not them. You are stealing clothes from the needy and all you care about is replicating the latest tumblr selfie you saw. You also must haggle for everything. The more you haggle, the more respect you’ll receive. Oh, its only $2? Even better. Maybe you can get it for free and hit up that Starbucks on the way home.

After making it through the first three paragraphs, have you managed to weed out the lies about the so-called “reality” of thrift store shopping? Please say yes. I’m depending on you here. I need to restore some of my faith in humanity. My buddy ol’ pal, Google, has enlightened me on the popular misconceptions people have about thrift stores. There appear to be two kinds of people: those who appreciate a good thrifting find, and those who will greet you with a look of pained pity. To them, finding out my sweater was thrifted is akin to saying, “I am wearing the sweater of the homeless alcoholic who roams the local McDonalds.”

Dollars and Sense

Now just in case some of these hilariously awful myths have become a reality for you, I am here to set you straight on the path of thrifty goodness. For those who have been dipping their head in and out of the current fashion trends as of late, thrift store pieces can often be on par with the designer goodies we’re all lusting after anyway. Some people find a lot of pride in saying “Oh this? It’s thrifted,” maybe accompanied by a casual toss of the hair, or an oh-so-humble laugh. Thrifting is not considered an embarrassment. In a way, it’s a considerably noble triumph if you managed to snag an Isabel Marant cardigan for the price of a pair of socks.

Charity Begins At Home(town Thriftstores)

Secondly, the idea that you’re stealing the clothes of someone in more need than you is ludicrous. Thrift stores do not operate in the same way as soup kitchens. Unlike soup kitchens that can only afford to offer so much, thrift stores channel their profits to various charities. The more money these stores bring in, the better off these charities will be. Though this is not to say you should bear ignorance to those who are more in need than you. If a young woman is eying the almost illegally cheap jacket in your hands, while balancing two babies in her arms with a sparse bag of groceries behind her, then back away from the article immediately. You’re a thrifty person, not a piglet stealing every good deal in the city.

Poppin’ Tags

Thirdly, (and oh-my-goodness-who-came-up-with-this): haggling is not necessarily encouraged. Sometimes in order to get the best bang for your buck, haggling can be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience, but not to the point where you’re arguing over a $5 sweater with a line of pissed-off hipsters behind you. Trust me, they will ironically mock you until you cry. Preserve your dignity, and haggle very sparingly.

 

Tips to make the most of your second-hand sojourn

  1. Bring a friend. As convinced as you are that those authentic shoulder pads make you look edgy rather than legitimately violent… you’re wrong. Only a friend will break that to you.
  2. Wash before wearing. Believe it or not, thrift stores are a business, not an intentional breeding ground for disease. The employees do in fact wash the clothes. That said, there is no pain in having a little safety-first attitude and wash them before you wear ‘em. Unidentified rashes are never in style. Amiright ladies?
  3. Get over the classic thrift store stench. As shocking as it may be, all humans don’t come pre-made with a manufactured Febreze smell. When we wear things, they smell like us. But now imagine that you, your best friend, that fellow you stare at in Wednesday’s lecture, your uncle once removed, and Kim Jong-Un all combine to create a unique smell. Putting aside any weird imagery that may have formed just now, it’s very possible that the combined smell would be more… strange… then pleasing. The thrift store stench should be a guarantee to you that there has been no robotic apocalypse and that humans still wear clothes.
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