Treat yourself to homemade baked goods
Cakes, muffins and other sweet pastries and drinks you get at the bakery or supermarket all hit your sweet tooth just right. In my not so many years of baking, I've discovered that the time you put in will come with a reward. In my early days, I relied on boxed cake mix because it was quick, easy and did the job. Now, I’ve come to realize it all tastes better from scratch. I think my first homemade cake was chocolate and it was amazing. Even though it was my first try it worked out. The feeling that you hand-mixed the batter from scratch and incorporated it with your own tips is great because it truly felt like I put my blood, sweat and tears in it. Again no hate toward the boxed mix — it walked so that homemade baked goods could run.
When we look for a recipe, we tend to see the three main options and click the one with the highest rating. In reality, research makes the dream work.  When looking for recipes for whatever your craving, you should check several and see what you do and don't have available. Most recipes use most of the same ingredients, but use different ratios so how much flour or sugar you have on hand is important. 
Since we all have time on our hands, here are my recommendations for things to make during your probably uneventful quarantine: 
  1. Mug cakes can fill in for a quick and sweet treat made in less than five minutes. The cake consists of the main ingredients found in a regular cake, but in smaller amounts at the same ratios, except for baking soda and/or baking powder, which are lessened because it’s made in a microwave. Check out the recipes from Land O’Lakes, which is my favorite for when I feel extra enough to add some sprinkles, and AllRecipes, which is a trusted site used for most of my baking. The site also offers a video version to help guide you.

  1. Dalgona coffee, though I have not actually made it, has made its way into my family’s cups every now and then. If you use TikTok or any social media platform, you’ve seen this whipped coffee everywhere. The whipped mixture uses an equivalent ratio of 1:1:1 instant coffee to sugar to hot water, but this treat will give you a workout as you have to whip the mixture too. My recipes tend to come from TikTok, but here is one on a website instead of a 15-second video. The site also lists ways to modify the recipe and answers to frequently asked questions. You may see it as a reversed cappuccino. Before mixing the whipped coffee is quite bitter, and it’s extremely important to use instant coffee too. Though I don't drink coffee much there are many things you can whip, such as strawberry and chocolate powder in heavy cream. 

  1. Cookies, though they may look easy, all taste different. Cookies come in many varieties like the classic chocolate chip, double chocolate, and oatmeal raisin, which does not deserve the hate it gets. Most cookies start with the basics of making a dough. My go-to is an oatmeal-raisin recipe from a blog called Sally’s Baking Addiction. This is a stellar recipe that can be made in under an hour. She also provides a guide, and many reasons why they're just AMAZING. A close second is Bon Appétit’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie. We’ve all seen a BA video on YouTube, and we all want to eat and display something that looks so aesthetic. These crispy cookies hit just right when you're craving the OG cookie.

I give these recipes a great review and hope that these three sweets will fill your time during quarantine. Though you might not have kneaded it (haha get it “kneaded it” :) you can always fall back to these whether you're still in quarantine or not. 
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How to upgrade your home-crafting experience with resin
Being home around the clock means being bored out of your mind. There is nothing to do, and nothing seems to entertain you as much as it used to do. You’ve watched all the Snapchat stories and refreshed your Twitter timeline until there were no more new tweets. What to do now? Learn to make resin! 
Resin is a liquid compound that when mixed with a hardener will form into a solid. Once mixed, you can add alcohol dyes, glitter, dried flowers (my personal favorite) and pour the mixture into molds, where it ends up drying into a sturdy solid material. The process is sort of like baking — sorting out ingredients, making sure the ratios are on point (who wants a gooey cookie or a gooey resin project?) and waiting 24 hours to see the final result. Resin is used for cool arts and crafts, household items, furniture and more. But when it comes out gooey and deformed, it doesn’t look super pretty. 
Dealing with liquid resin isn’t the most pleasant experience. The resin and hardener give off a strong smell that can get to your head if the area isn’t well ventilated. The liquid is sticky and hard to get off your hands and the work environment you’re using. And, if you mess up the ratio of 1:1 of resin and hardener, or it's not properly mixed, it won’t harden. Trust me, I’ve been there. 
To complete a resin project, you must have: 
-- Resin (I use epoxy resin from ArtResin)
-- A paper cup or bowl
-- Measuring utensils, wooden or plastic to stir
-- Fillers (glitter, flowers, charms, whatever solids that you want in the final art piece) 
-- Gloves, because sticky hands aren’t it
-- Molds! You need to put the mixture in somewhere to harden
-- Tweezers or  toothpicks. You can use these to pick up the fillers and place them in the mixture. 
Once you have all of your materials, you can get started on your resin project! With your measuring utensils, pour a 1:1 ratio of hardener and resin into the paper cup. Then take your stirrer and slowly mix it. If you mix it too fast and aggressively it will get bubbles, but if you don’t mix it well enough then the resin will not cure. 
After mixing the resin mixture for five to 10 minutes, place it down on the table and grab your fillers. I usually use fine glitter and pressed flowers. Take the fine glitter and slowly mix it into the cup with the mixture. 
With the glitter resin mixture, get your mold and pour the resin into it. Then, take your larger fillers and with the tweezers, place them into the resin inside the mold. This is when I put my dried flowers in. 
Once you're done pouring your resin and adding the fillers, take your mold and place it in a leveled location that won’t collect too much dust. Wait 24 hours for it to cure and then tada! 
Resin is difficult to get the hang of, so don’t worry if it comes out deformed, bubbly, uncured or ugly looking the first time around. Practicing means that you’ll get better at it. Resin can be used for small crafts like charms and earrings, or bigger projects such as trinket dishes or filling in wood crafts. Taking time to learn a new hobby, or investing more time into the ones you usually practice gives us a sense of accomplishment. Happy crafting! 
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Marc Ignasio
My candlelight grows,
Urging me forth,
My weakening desires
with purpose,
with strength.

My candlelight flickers,
Yet stands tall
Against the approaching
They bow down
To the endless strength
That my candlelight

When clouds
Encase me
In their
Harsh grip,
My candlelight
shines through,
growing brighter
with each
Harsher moment,
I’m free.

My candlelight
I would fade,
Unrecognizably torn,
I disappear,
A wandering soul,
without a guide.

I need you here,
My candlelight.
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Free Write
Everyone's a Loser
Nobody likes losing. Whether it’s an 8-year-old playing in a game of town soccer or a professional basketball player in the NBA Finals, everyone can agree that nothing is worse than coming up short. In the long term, however, nothing is better. The fire that failure ignites burns brighter than that of any success or victory. We are motivated by the emotions that we associate with our past deficiencies and are determined to avoid them. Defeat is like getting a shot—temporarily painful, ultimately necessary. The lessons that I’ve learned from defeat have been better than those I’ve ever learned from any mentor or coach. In fact, almost all of my achievements have been the result of previous failures.
I’ve played sports for as long as I can remember. Since both of my parents are from Germany, it’s only natural that I started playing “Fußball” almost as soon as I could walk. Some of my earliest memories are from J.P. Youth Soccer, either stumbling around with the ball or waiting until practice was over so I could finally go to the candy store on the way home, a request which my dad rarely denied. 
As one of the better players on my town soccer team, I expected to be among the top of the BLS boys soccer team. Within the first 10 minutes of the junior varsity tryouts, however, I could sense that my chances of making the team were extremely slim. My 5’2” scrawny build and basic footwork simply couldn’t compare to the seemingly massive sophomores and juniors contesting my spot. Accordingly, I was hardly even held in consideration during the candidate selection, and barely secured a spot on the freshman team. I was crushed. My world was flipped upside down. But I took the indifferent words of coach Jason Miller and I used them as motivation. Now, 4 years later, a BLS JV soccer captain, I’m glad I failed. 
Aside from soccer, I was also an avid young tennis player. I attended the Brookline Tennis Camp every summer with my brother, where my love for the sport first blossomed. The first tournament I ever participated in went quite poorly for me. Not even placing in the top 3, I was given a medal for my participation rather than the much more attractive trophy. “I don’t want a stupid medal”, I said indignantly as we drove away from the courts. I couldn’t believe that I, the Roger Federer of 6-year-old tennis players, had been bested by random children. That medal, however, has been my motivation for the last 10 years, not for its intended purpose, but rather to serve to remind me of what arrogance and a lack of preparation brought me: nothing. Now, a BLS varsity tennis player and a proud member of the United States Tennis Association, I’m glad I failed. 
Although it definitely is important to lose, there’s no doubt that failure hurts. Because of this, we’ve tried to take away some of the pain by declaring everyone a winner and giving people an award just for taking part. These participation awards are more detrimental than beneficial; while they may lessen the blow of a loss, they take away from the lesson that comes with failure. Children need to learn that defeat is a part of life, that once they grow up, there won’t be anyone to give them a trophy for trying or even to pick them up if they fall. 
As gratifying as it is to win, it’s important to face the occasional defeat. If knowledge and experience are the goals, then the constant winner is also a loser.
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March 8
8th of March shines brightly—
my day of redemption,
of repentance,
baptized into joy and hope.
The epistle to the Romans
pumps purpose and promises
into me.
I wish to make them possible.
But 16
March 16
16th of March burns strongly—
possibilities crush,
bust and fall
and fall 
like 11th-of-September debris.
The gold of my tassel greys,
glitter and polished shoes fade,
dreams and destinies are delayed...
Senior year will never end the way
I want it to.
Within 8 days,
an infectious thief
snatches my breath
and steals my final stretch
of grade school.
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