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27 February 2021

  • POV: You Need TikTok Tortilla Hack Inspo
    Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

    Few things are more satisfying than eating something that is both delicious and handheld. No fuss, no muss, no extra silverware to wash. I think this is why we collectively gravitated toward that viral TikTok tortilla hack trend (credited to have started with this video in late December 2020). 

    The TikTok tortilla hack is simple: A different ingredient is placed in each quadrant of a flour tortilla with a slit cut down the middle of the tortilla, but only half way. (That’s the radius, for you math peeps.) Then the quadrants are folded one over the other into a delicious flat, crepe-like cone of yumminess!

    Sometimes they’re pan-fried, sometimes they’re deep-fried, and others are eaten without being cooked at all.

    Still confused? Here’s how it works:

    Illustration by Wenzdai Figueroa

    Whether you’ve already given this TikTok tortilla hack a try or not, I thought I’d give it a try with some of my favorite ingredients. So if you’re looking for inspiration, I’ve got you covered.

    Caprese salad tortilla

    I love the simple yet robust flavors of a Caprese salad. Creamy, briny mozzarella, bright, fresh tomatoes, fresh basil… what a combo! They’re also so perfect for this tortilla hack.

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: A layer of thinly sliced tomatoes sprinkled with salt
    • Quadrant 2: 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil
    • Quadrant 3: Slices of fresh mozzarella
    • Quadrant 4: Dollop of pesto

    This works best with a sun-dried tomato basil tortilla.

    To assemble: Fold starting with your tomato quadrant and ending with your pesto layer to make sure your Caprese salad stays nicely in place while eating!

    To cook: You don’t! Just fold, wrap, and eat as is.

    Chicken carbonara tortilla

    Do you get bored of leftovers quickly? It breaks my heart every time I look at last night’s dinner and feel “ugh” about it because I hate wasting food. So I’ve started repurposing old meals and making them new (to me) again. This chicken carbonara TikTok tortilla wrap is one of my favorite ways to do that.

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: 1/3 cup fettuccine Alfredo
    • Quadrant 2: Large chopped bacon strips
    • Quadrant 3: Slices of grilled chicken
    • Quadrant 4: Shredded provolone or mozzarella

    This works best with a plain flour tortilla.

    To assemble: Carefully fold the Alfredo section over the bacon, then fold that section over the chicken, and finish by folding it all over the shredded cheese so that the cheese glues the outer layer together when it melts.

    To cook: Toast your chicken carbonara wrap on both sides in a skillet with a bit of oil until golden brown.

    Lasagna tortilla

    Lasagna is a classic comfort food with layers of flat noodles, melty cheese, and hearty tomato sauce. But the prep work and process that goes into making a full lasagna means I don’t make it as often as I’d like. This version of the TikTok tortilla hack gives you all those yummy lasagna flavors and textures in a single-serve portion that’s much easier to assemble.

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: Dollop of ricotta cheese sprinkled with Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper flakes (optional)
    • Quadrant 2: Chopped raw spinach and basil
    • Quadrant 3: Tomato-based meat sauce (like Bolognese)
    • Quadrant 4: Shredded or fresh mozzarella

    This works best with a plain flour tortilla.

    To assemble: Fold the ricotta section over the spinach and basil first, then fold them over the meat sauce, and finish by folding it all over the mozzarella section.

    To cook: Brush melted butter on both sides of the folded wrap and bake with the open flap side down for 8 to 12 mins in a preheated 400°F (204°C) oven until golden brown.

    Crunchwrap tortilla 

    The TikTok tortilla hack was truly built to bring Taco Bell’s crunchwrap to life at home. If you haven’t had one before, it’s a flour tortilla layered with seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, a crispy tostada shell, lettuce, ripe tomatoes, and topped with sour cream. And that’s before it gets all wrapped up and grilled for a cheesy and filling meal. The TikTok tortilla hack version is just a whole lot simpler! You can use any kind of tortilla chips you want, but I’m partial to Flaming Hot Doritos.

    To prep: Cook your ground beef with taco seasoning in a skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through, draining any excess juices. Then thinly shred your lettuce, and dice your tomatoes.

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: Dollop of sour cream and crumbled tortilla chips
    • Quadrant 2: Lettuce and tomato
    • Quadrant 3: Layer of queso topped with taco meat
    • Quadrant 4: Mexican blend cheese

    This works best with a plain flour tortilla.

    To assemble: Fold clockwise starting with your sour cream and chips, and ending with your Mexican cheese blend, so that the cheese seals it all together.

    To cook: Toast your folded crunchwrap on a nonstick skillet at medium heat until nice and crunchy!

    Caramel apple crisp tortilla

    I love this because it uses simple pantry staple ingredients, and you don’t have to bake it (not my strong suit, lol). The juicy, tart Granny Smith apples pair nicely with the warm cinnamon and granola, and the sweet caramel really brings it all together. All the great flavors of a real apple crisp, only way, way easier to make!

    To prep: Thinly slice Granny Smith apples, and toss to coat with cinnamon and brown sugar. Cook the apple slices in a nonstick pan on medium heat until the sugar melts and the apple softens slightly. Set aside to cool.

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: Layer of caramel sauce
    • Quadrant 2: Warm apple slices
    • Quadrant 3: Layer of caramel sauce topped with granola
    • Quadrant 4: Warm apple slices drizzled with caramel

    This works best with a whole-wheat tortilla.

    To assemble: Fold starting with the first caramel layer and ending with the apples drizzled with caramel, that way you get a nice satisfying crunch of granola sandwiched in the middle!

    To cook: You can eat this without cooking, but if you really want to, you can toast it in a nonstick pan with a small amount of butter for a crispy tortilla crust!

    Cobb salad

    Your classic cobb salad combines some of my favorite ingredients: salty bacon and smooth hard-boiled egg, freshness crunchy lettuce and umami-rich diced tomato, not to mention creamy, fatty avocado, which honestly just makes everything better! So why not make it an equally delicious wrap, amirite?!

    Sure, a Cobb salad has more than four ingredients, but the TikTok tortilla hack is all about a winning combination, so some of the sections will get more than one ingredient.

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: Grilled chicken strips drizzled with your fave salad dressing
    • Quadrant 2: Chopped bacon and hard-boiled egg
    • Quadrant 3: Bed of shredded lettuce and diced tomato
    • Quadrant 4: Thinly sliced avocado and crumbled bleu cheese

    This works best with a spinach herb tortilla.

    To assemble: Fold clockwise, starting with the chicken and ending with the bleu cheese and avocado.

    To cook: Don’t!

    Cheesesteak wrap

    Thinly sliced steak, melty cheese, and sauteed mushrooms and/or peppers are a winning combo on a hoagie roll, but they’re also great sandwiched between layers of toasty tortilla. Depending on where you’re from, you might have different ingredients for a “classic” cheesesteak, so don’t worry about sticking too closely to my ingredients list. Get as creative as you like!

    To prep: Cook sliced onion until soft, 5 to 7 minutes (or much longer for fully caramelized onions). Remove and set aside. Sear steak in the same pan for about 2 minutes per side. You may need to work in batches, so the pan isn’t overcrowded. Remove steak, and in the same pan, cook sliced mushrooms and/or green peppers until soft.

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: Thinly sliced steak
    • Quadrant 2: Sautéed or caramelized onions
    • Quadrant 3: Peppers and/or mushrooms
    • Quadrant 4: Provolone cheese (sliced or shredded)

    This works best with a plain flour tortilla.

    To assemble: Fold starting with the sliced ribeye and ending with your provolone cheese.

    To cook: Panfry with a bit of oil in a nonstick skillet.

    Strawberry Nutella s’mores 

    Just because you don’t have a way of lighting a fire to toast marshmallows doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ooey-gooey-ness of s’mores indoors. The TikTok tortilla hack is the perfect, less messy way to enjoy this chocolatey marshmallowy treat, with the added tart sweetness and colorful pop of bright red strawberry!

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: Layer of Nutella and dark chocolate chips
    • Quadrant 2: Layer of sliced strawberries
    • Quadrant 3: Layer of marshmallow fluff sprinkled with graham cracker crumbs
    • Quadrant 4: Layer of Nutella

    This works best with a plain flour tortilla.

    To assemble: Start folding with the Nutella and chocolate chip section and end with the plain Nutella so that the hazelnut spread acts as a (delicious) glue to hold it all together.

    To cook: Melt a bit of butter in a pan on medium-high heat, and toast your s’mores wrap for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Definitely don’t skip the toasting here — it’s not a s’more if it’s not a little bit melty!

    Breakfast wrap tortilla

    This breakfast wrap has everything you want in a complete breakfast: scrambled eggs, hash browns, sausage, and cheese. Unlike breakfast wraps which can have a disappointingly uneven distribution of fillings, in this breakfast wrap you’ll get one of everything in every bite.

    To prep: Scramble 1 to 2 eggs, using your preferred method and seasonings. Set aside. Remove your favorite breakfast sausage from its casing and cook in a skillet over medium heat, using a spoon to break it up into bite-sized crumbles, until well-browned and cooked through. Cook hash browns according to package directions.

    how to fill it

    Microwave the tortilla for 10 seconds so it’s warm and bendy.

    Working clockwise from the slit in the tortilla:

    • Quadrant 1: Scrambled eggs (with dash of hot sauce, optional)
    • Quadrant 2: Hash browns
    • Quadrant 3: Sausage crumbles
    • Quadrant 4: American cheese

    This works best with a plain flour tortilla.

    To assemble: Fold starting with your scrambled egg quadrant and ending with the American cheese.

    To cook: You don’t need to panfry this one, but it’s best eaten while still warm!

    Mayra Mejia (she/her) is a queer Salvadoran-American freelance writer, body liberation advocate, and content creator. She is passionate about fostering a strong and inclusive body positive community and is the founder of PLUSH DMV, a Washington, D.C.-based fat positive community.

  • Paid to Be Pretty: The Trials and Tribulations of an Atlantic City Bottle Girl

    I worked the Atlantic City casinos all through college and into my 20s. I had all the jobs a cute college girl could get in the resort town: bottle girl, cocktail waitress, entertainment server — anything where the job description was “put on this little outfit, hold a tray, and smile.”

    The combined flexibility and security helped me get through college and beyond. And I wasn’t ashamed of the work. I found I was great at forcing a smile and putting on an ever-so bubbly persona. (Plus, the outfits were cute and made me feel proud of my body.) And while I knew I’d have to put up with some unwanted attention, I quickly learned grabby men weren’t the only thing I had to be worried about.

    Design by Dana Davenport; Photographs by Getty Images

    White women are as entitled as the rest

    Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of inappropriate men. I had my ass slapped more times than I could count. While dancing with some Spanish soccer players (one of my many duties as a bottle girl), I was bitten on the neck. One time when walking through the crowded club, someone pulled aside the bottom of my bodysuit to see if I was wearing underwear.

    But more often than not, white women were the ones inappropriately touching me. While doing bottle presentations (where I’d sit on the shoulders of a male coworker holding a bottle of Dom Perignon) they would reach up and grab at me. They were always commenting on my boobs or my ass, reaching to touch my braids or afro. The ease at which they performed these violations toward me, a Black woman, wasn’t lost on me. 

    Working at a nightclub means you’re selling an experience — an aesthetic. Everyone knows a bottle of Tito’s vodka costs around $25 at a store. Why pay $300 to $400 (plus tip AND a service fee) to drink it at a nightclub?

    For a slice of luxury. To be the star of the goddamn show. And with that high price comes a sense of entitlement. The more money someone spent, the more leeway they often received.

    The objectification came from the top down

    The messaging from management was far from subtle. Everyone knew why we were there.

    “You’re here to make sure the customer has a good time.”

    “Customer retention is paramount.”

    The servers and bartenders they hired needed to be beautiful, yes, but more importantly poised and upscale. Our contracts clearly outlined the required beauty standards — which hairstyles, piercings, nail length and colors were appropriate, the way our uniforms were to be worn, etc. But most notably, it laid out rules for our weight.

    We were hired “as is” and had to maintain the appearance we were hired at. Depending on our hire weight, we could only gain (or lose) a certain number of pounds. My allowance was 8.5 pounds. Once a year we received random weigh-ins, meant to keep us on our toes and in the gym. If you didn’t make weight, you entered a 90-day probation period, where, at the end of it, you could be let go. (It’s been 2 years since that job and I still cringe if the scale says over 130.)

    After a while, it felt normal. It felt like a fact of life. But other times, when girls were tipped off that their weigh-in was coming and started taking laxatives in order to make weight… it was clear that something was very wrong.

    The daily racism was grating

    On a roster of 30-something servers, there were only 2 or 3 Black girls. When you looked at all of the nightclubs across town, the same trend followed. None of the clubs wanted to be seen as a “Black” club, so there was an unspoken limit. When I asked why we didn’t play more hip-hop, which everyone likes, I was told “it attracts the wrong crowd.”

    As someone mixed raced, light-skinned, soft-voiced, who purposely went to her job interview with straightened hair, I knew the game I was playing at. Sometimes, you have to take white supremacy into perspective and cater to it. I had bills to pay, after all. I knew I received deference because my proximity to whiteness made me more palatable for visiting gamblers. 

    But once I got started, reality set in. “What are you?” was a question I grew to hate. Men were obsessed with finding out where I was “from.” They didn’t like it when I told them I was born in Queens. They didn’t like my sigh, or my eyeroll, or my refusal to answer the question. And they probably didn’t like it when I smacked their hands away from my afro.

    Girls I worked with would suddenly skip their spot in rotation if a Black couple sat down. When it came to serving nonwhite people, there was always a huff and an aversion. If they didn’t fit the mold, nobody wanted them.

    The racism wasn’t a surprise, but it was exhausting. I wasn’t quiet about my displeasure with these systems, and I often pointed out the microaggressions of customers and coworkers alike. When I slicked back my hair and put on a ponytail with kinky-straight braiding hair, a manager told me, an Afro-Latina, that I looked surprisingly “Spanish.” When I told him that I was, he sputtered. When a white coworker told me I could take her turn in rotation when a Black couple sat down, I asked, deadpan, “why, are you afraid of them?” More sputtering.

    Internalized misogyny was expressed in ageism 

    When it came to the girls, there was a well-known ranking system among the staff. The young-and-hot were always put at the top. You got bonus points if you were considered smart, or were going to college. Then, there were the older bottle servers. Many of them were mothers who only had to work a few nights a week to pay the bills. They got better shifts because of the amount of time they had worked for the company, yet were often judged for “letting themselves go,” and pitied for getting stuck in nightlife.

    The pity and the judgement left a bad taste in my mouth. Maybe because my mom had worked in nightlife her whole life. When I got the job, she was still a bartender. She was happy. She’d done all of this before — she was the reason I knew how to get the jobs I earned. To me, it wasn’t pitiful. It was simply reality. Not everyone can go to college. Sometimes you get pregnant. Sometimes you get caught up in the lifestyle. At least this gig had retirement benefits.

    We all knew our jobs were a little scandalous but many of the girls were caught in a puritanical shame-cycle. Sure, they were bottle servers, but they weren’t sluts. This was just their job. Some girls often talked about how they “wouldn’t open their legs” for just anyone. They judged me for my open relationship, telling me my relationship advice was moot because of it.

    They used this sense of superiority to make it feel like they weren’t doing anything wrong. Instead of seeing the escorts we served late-night as coconspirators of the hustle, the other servers would sit in the corner and roll their eyes at the audacity of their existence.

    I didn’t realize how miserable I was until I left

    I knew everyone else was miserable. Even if people were making good money, it was a dark place. But I didn’t realize it was affecting me. I was self-conscious about my body, even though I always made weight. I was comparing myself to the other girls, wondering who was the prettiest, or who made the most money. Even though I only worked 25 to 30 hours a week, my weekends never felt long enough. I was always tired.

    When I told one of my regulars that I was moving back to New York, he said, “good for you. You don’t belong here.” While it was a nice sentiment, I know it was a perpetuation of my value as a “smart” girl.

    I’m grateful for certain aspects of it: because I know how to bartend, because I have good experience in the industry, I’ll always have a backup plan. I’ll always be able to feed myself. Coming from a low-income background, in the ever uncertain industry of journalism, that’s a valuable skill.

    But, what nightlife really taught me was to see the world as it is. You learn to read people and to cater to them. You learn how to say no, nicely. You learn that all the flashy lights and magnums of champagne are really just a mess someone’s going to have to clean up later. Seeing all of that either breeds compassion or entitlement. I’m lucky to have cultivated the former option.

    Gabrielle Smith is a Brooklyn-based poet and writer. She writes about love/sex, mental illness, and intersectionality. You can keep up with her on Twitter and Instagram.

  • 25 Steps to a Zero-Waste Kitchen
    Bonnin Studio/Stocksy United

    Zero waste isn’t all or nothing. In fact, it’s a gradual process of learning — or, rather, unlearning — how to clean, meal-plan, shop for groceries, and stock your kitchen.

    We’ve rounded up 25 steps toward making your kitchen more sustainable. Pick one or two to get started, and you just might discover that adopting these low waste habits is easier than you think.

    Grocery shopping

    1. Plan ahead

    According to the USDA, Americans throw out 30 to 40 percent of the food supply annually. You can help eliminate waste by meal-planning and skipping spontaneous purchases at the market.

    Make a plan to cook what you buy throughout the week, prioritizing expiration dates and produce that may spoil. (Keeping the fridge clean and organized will prevent something from going bad while it’s buried.)

    2. Go for bulk

    Whenever possible, shop from bulk refill bins. You can fill reusable cloth bags and empty the contents into glass jars at home. (You can buy replacement lids and rings here.)

    You can often find staples like grains, beans, pasta, oatmeal, granola, nuts, and dried fruit in bulk, as well as spices, loose teas, and coffee beans. Some markets also offer peanut butter, olive oil, honey, agave, and more.

    3. Think twice about packaged food

    If you can’t shop in bulk, opt for foods that are minimally packaged. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the world produces some 300 million tons of plastic annually. Half of that is estimated to be single-use plastics.

    4. Just make it

    If you can’t buy an item in bulk or package-free, consider whether you can make it yourself. Rather than buy cookies packaged in cardboard or plastic, can you make your own? Make a large batch of cookie dough, roll it and wrap it in parchment paper, and use it for on-demand cookies.

    You can also make things like pancake mix pretty easily. Fill a container and keep it in the pantry for whenever you feel like a pancake breakfast. If you have a bread starter in your fridge, use it to make pizza dough.

    5. Meet the butcher

    Meat, chicken, and fish at the market often come prepackaged in plastic or foam. If your market has a butcher, buy meat from the counter, which will come wrapped in less packaging. You can toss the paper into a compost bin.

    You can also bring your own container. Just ask to have it weighed first, and the tare weight will be deducted from the price.

    6. Don’t bag it

    You can skip the plastic produce bags at the grocery store or farmers market too. Just toss the items in your cart and wash them when you get home. If you’re shopping at the farmers market, bring a reusable tote or basket.

    7. Do the prep work

    Taking the time to properly store and prep fruits and vegetables once you get home has two benefits. One, they last longer. And two, they’re easier to use, making it more likely that they won’t go to waste.

    Store vegetables in airtight reusable silicone bags or glass storage containers. Wash and (if necessary) cut berries and store them in an airtight container. Remember to keep onions, garlic, and potatoes in the pantry.

    8. Say no to the spork

    When ordering takeout, try to prioritize restaurants that use compostable takeout containers and paper bags (or, if you can, skip the bag altogether). Pass on the single-use napkins and utensils.

    9. Be your own milkman

    Buy milk, coffee creamer, and whipping cream in glass bottles. You’ll pay a deposit up front, usually anywhere from $1 to $2. The store will reimburse you when you return the bottle or credit it toward your next bottle.

    10. Join the club

    If you drink wine regularly, consider joining a wine club that reuses or refills wine bottles. For beer, breweries will often refill growlers. Many natural foods stores also offer kombucha refills.

    Kitchen supplies

    11. Go for the glass

    For food storage, choose glass over plastic. Glass lasts longer, and you can find secondhand jars and other containers to store soups, beans, and rice. Instead of plastic wrap, try reusable wax covers or fabric bowl covers. We also love these reusable bouquet totes.

    12. Get thrifty

    When you’re shopping for kitchen items, consider whether a gadget is necessary or whether you can do without it. Before buying new glassware, dishes, pots, or flatware, consider checking a thrift store, a flea market, an antique shop, Etsy, or eBay.

    Sanitize glass jars in your dishwasher or by boiling them in water for 10 minutes. You can buy new lids and rings for jars here.

    13. Meet the new brown bag

    For school or work lunches, use stainless steel containers, bamboo flatware, a stainless steel water bottle, and (for the grown-ups) a reusable coffee mug. Throw in a cloth napkin and a stainless steel straw too. Remind kids to bring home their scraps for composting if schools don’t offer it.

    14. Make compostable coffee

    Coffee pods often can’t be composted or recycled, so make coffee the old-fashioned way. A coffee press doesn’t require a filter. You can collect the coffee grounds in a container for your garden or put them into the compost bin. Loose tea can be composted too.


    15. Scrub, guilt-free

    It’s easy to make your own abrasive cleaner. Use plain baking soda — you can sprinkle it from an old salt shaker. You can also fill a 16-ounce mason jar with baking soda and add a few drops of essential oil. Just shake before use.

    16. Streamline your cleaners

    To make an all-purpose cleaner, simply combine vinegar and water (about 1/4 cup of vinegar for every cup of water) and, optionally, add a few drops of essential oil.

    Or you can pour a mixture of water and vinegar into a large jar filled with lavender or rosemary. Let it sit overnight, and then pour through cheesecloth into a bottle. (Vinegar is not recommended for use on natural stone. For these surfaces, a mild soap-and-water mixture will do.)

    Note: These solutions will clean surfaces, but they won’t disinfect.

    17. Just add water

    For dishes, we love Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds. It’s plant-based and biodegradable, and while a single bottle may not look like it can go very far, it’s concentrated and can be easily diluted for dozens of purposes. Here’s a dilution cheat sheet.

    18. Go natural

    Skip disposable sponges. Try wool sponges, which can be composted. Wood scrub brushes work well on pans and can be composted as well.

    19. Clean up better

    The EPA reports that in 2018, paper and cardboard accounted for the largest portion of municipal waste. Eliminating paper towels can help reduce that waste, so consider cloth towels.

    You can make rags out of old T-shirts. You can also buy towels secondhand at the thrift store. Place a bucket under your sink or in the laundry room for wet rags and wash them weekly.

    20. Make a swap

    Likewise, cloth napkins can often be reused a couple of times between washings. (Plus, we think they look much prettier on the table!) Toss them in with your bathroom towels once a week. You can find some of our favorites here, here, and here.

    21. Mop better

    Replace single-use mop pads with reusable microfiber mop pads. They’re incredibly durable and will last years.

    Compost, DIY, and reuse

    22. Don’t buy it, grow it

    Even with a minimal outdoor space, herbs are incredibly easy to grow. You can start them from seeds in a terra-cotta pot for a couple of dollars. If you grow more than you can use fresh, cut the excess for an herbal bouquet or dry, chop, and store them. We love this recipe for herb salt.

    23. Make spa water

    You can make flavored water at home with fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Fill a carafe halfway with sliced cucumber, citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit), and herbs like mint and basil. Fill with water and place in the fridge. Drink within 1 to 2 days.

    24. Keep food scraps

    Save vegetable scraps (think onion, celery, carrots) in a wide-mouth glass mason jar and freeze or refrigerate for later use in soup stocks.

    You can even regrow scallions. Make sure they’re about 3 inches long with the roots intact. Place them in a small cup of water near a window, and new shoots will sprout in a few days.

    25. DIY your compost

    When possible, compost any scraps you can’t use. If your city doesn’t offer food scrap composting, consider a worm bin. You can buy a premade worm bin or DIY one. These special composting worms will turn coffee grounds, eggshells, avocado skins, and stale bread into compost and compost tea (a liquid version of compost) for garden beds and houseplants.

    Chantal Lamers is the home editor at Greatist, covering everything from design to DIY to zero-waste topics. Find her tips on homesteading (and chicken wrangling) in the suburbs on Instagram.

  • Capture It at the Front Door: Why You Should Have an Entryway Organizer

    As a professional home organizer, I typically tackle the home entryway first. Sans functional system, it’s far too easy for this high traffic area to turn into complete mayhem. If all of the items that enter and exit your home on a daily basis don’t have a designated place to be stowed, you might find yourself confronting a jumbled pileup of hats, scarves, coats, umbrellas, bags, and papers by the door — who wants to deal with that?

    Here’s the good news: setting up an organized and functional entryway doesn’t take much effort and will make a major difference in your day.

    By creating a place for these items, they won’t end up strewn across your home, possibly in random places. This will help eliminate those stressful cleanup situations at the end of the day. What’s more, imagine being able to find everything you need within seconds, and coming home to a tidy, organized entryway. It can set the mood as you enter and leave the house.

    7 simple steps to organize your entry

    Before you organize your entry, there’s a few mindful clean-ups you might want to make. Think of these early steps as the foundation to the “don’t just dump that there” muscle memory we’re building.

    1. Do the relocate shuffle

    Step one is as simple as taking a good look at your entryway. Identify which items have lost their way and need to take a hike. Grab a bin or basket to gather up the items that need to be relocated (toys, coffee cups, credit cards) and take a few minutes to put them back where they belong.

    2. Clarify your entry goals

    Make sure you have clear and specific goals:

    • If you want to create a better first impression of your home, your entryway should be free of junk and clutter.
    • If there’s a lot of housemates or family members, you want to make sure there are clearly designated places for people to store their stuff.
    • Maybe you just want to find your keys.

    Whatever your goals are, keeping them close by will help anchor the hands-on work ahead.

    3. Cut the clutter

    Now that you’ve defined you goals for the space, it’s time to cut down the clutter. Editing the volume of stuff that you own and store in your entryway will make it easier to maintain it. So, gather up the goods, and make sure to keep a donation bag close at hand. Sort into “keep” and “donate” piles, keeping only the items you use, love, and wear.

    4. Organize by category

    Being able to see exactly what you own and want to store in your entryway will help clarify what systems you need to set up later. (Again, consider the items you’re commonly picking up or dropping off as you come and go. Is it convenient to store your dog leash and jacket by the front door?) If you’re staring at anything you don’t want to keep at your entryway, now’s the time to find another home for it.

    Next, sort the items that made it into categories. The most common items are coats, bags, hats, scarfs, umbrellas, dog leashes, kid or baby gear, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, mail and bills, etc.

    Keep in mind that — depending where you live — your climate may oblige you to rotate and relocate seasonal items. For example, you don’t need quick access to snow boots and winter jackets in the middle of July.

    5. Make a list, check it twice 

    Now that you’ve determined your categories, it’s time to write down all of the items that currently require a storage solution. By taking an inventory of exactly what you need to store, you can identify everything you must create a “home” for. So, maybe you need a shelf for shoes, hooks for jackets, and several baskets for sorting items such as masks, sunscreen, mail and so on. (The extent of your sorting may depend on how many people are in your household. Either way, you want a designated landing spot for every item you plan to keep in the entry.)

    If you’re aiming for a minimal entryway (or if you have limited space in your entry), rank the categories. If you want to pare down further, start by crossing the lowest priority items to keep at the entry. Remember to take into consideration what might simplify your routine as you come and go.

    6. Set up shop

    Next it’s time to create an assigned place near the front door for each item on your list. If you don’t have a mudroom or generous sized entry closet, you can still create a functional entry station.

    • Sturdy hooks. These work well for coats, dog leashes and bags. Make sure the hooks are mounted at arm’s reach for kid backpacks and jackets, so they can be responsible for their own things. 
    • Shoe storage. A storage credenza, free standing shelves, cubbies, or labeled bins or baskets will do the trick for shoes. (I encourage clients to store the majority of shoes in their bedroom closets.)
    • “Little things” bowl / basket. A pretty ceramic dish or shallow basket works well for tossing keys, cell phones, and loose change. 
    • Paper storage. For mail and magazine storage I love installing wall pockets, or simply placing a large, pretty basket on your entry table. 
    • For kids and pets. If you have kid or pet gear or seasonal items, you can use open bins or storage baskets to keep things tidy. It’s also super helpful to set up a labeled bin or wall pocket for each child’s homework and school forms. 

    Use what you have, and fill in any gaps by ordering what you need.

    7. The finishing touches 

    Your entry area is the first thing you see when you walk in the door after a busy day. It really pays off to create a pretty and functional space. Once you’ve organized and set up some simple systems, you can elevate your space with some easy details. Get creative and shop your own home: Hang a mirror or a favorite photo or piece of art. Add a potted plant or fresh flowers. A small rug or runner will create texture and warmth.

    Even though most of us aren’t leaving the house much right now, when life returns to “normal,” we’ll be extra glad we took the time to set our entryways up for success.

    Shira Gillis a home organizing expert and author with a less is more philosophy. Her book, MINIMALISTA, will be released fall of 2021.

  • The Stages of a Cold Sore, from Beginning to End

    Cold sores are red, fluid-filled blisters that usually appear near or around your mouth, usually at the worst possible time (think the morning before you’re about to give a big presentation at work or the moment before a date).

    They develop in specific stages that can help you spot them. These sores can be caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2) and can transmit to others easily, even when the sore isn’t yet visible. So it’s important to be aware when they’re developing.

    Though they typically occur around the lips, they can actually appear anywhere on the skin, with the next most common location being around and up the nose. Ouch.

    Cold sores usually resolve without leaving a scar within 5 to 15 days.

    If you regularly experience cold sores, then you can probably tell when one is getting ready to make its grand appearance.

    The 5 cold sore stages

    This is the life cycle of a cold sore:

    1. tingling
    2. blistering
    3. weeping
    4. crusting
    5. healing
    Lucas Ottone/Stocksy United

    How the 5 cold sore stages look and feel

    You may be an old hand with cold sores and spot a flare from miles away. However, if you’re new to them, you might not know it’s a cold sore at first. But it can still spread during the early stages.

    Stage 1: Tingling

    You might feel an unexplained tingling around your mouth, but otherwise, the area probably doesn’t look any different. Some people don’t experience this stage though.

    The cold sore is about to appear. This is a good time to attempt treatment — it can reduce the severity of the cold sore and shorten the duration of its stay (lol, bye). It can even prevent the cold sore from coming out altogether.

    Stage 2: Blistering

    Anywhere from a few hours to 2 days after the tingling, one or two fluid-filled blisters will appear on the skin’s surface. The skin under and around the blisters will be red. 

    Stage 3: Weeping

    After a few days, the cold sore will break open and will look red and shallow.

    🎼 While my cold sore gently weeps…🎤

    Stage 4: Crusting

    At this stage, the blister starts to dry out. It will look yellow or brown.

    Stage 5: Healing

    Aah, finally. 🙏

    During the healing stage, the crusted blister will scab over. It will slowly start to disappear as it flakes away.

    Pictures of the cold sore stages

    Our handy visual guide will help you understand the appearance of each stage.

    Cold sore stages

    Stage 1 of cold sore: Tingling

    Individuals can often feel a cold sore before it happens. These symptoms include itching, burning, tingling, and possibly pain.


    Stage 2 of cold sore: Blistering

    A few days after initial tingling sensation, a blister will often form.

    Photo: DermNet New Zealand

    Stage 3 of cold sore: Weeping

    After the blister forms, the cold sore will break open and have some fluid that leaks out.

    Photo: DermNet New Zealand

    Stage 4 of cold sore: Crusting

    A crust will form over the site of the cold sore and is often yellow or brown.

    Photo: DermNet New Zealand

    Stage 5 of cold sore: Healing

    Eventually the cold sore will heal and should not leave a scar.

    Getty Images

    What to expect: An in-depth look at the stages

    Here’s what to expect during a cold sore breakout — from beginning to end. 


    A cold sore begins before you can even see it. If you feel an unexplained tingling around your mouth, a cold sore might be coming out to play.

    This is usually one of the first signs that a cold store is developing. You might also feel a burning or itching.

    At this point, you can and should start treating your cold sore. While treating it right away will not prevent the sore from forming, it could reduce its severity and how long it lasts.

    Managing stage one

    At this phase, oral medication is the most effective remedy.

    If you experience cold sores a lot, talk to your doctor about taking daily medication to prevent or limit outbreaks. They would prescribe one of the following options:

    • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
    • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
    • Famciclovir (Famvir)

    If you only get cold sores once in a while, the preferred treatment is still oral medication. But you don’t need to take it daily between cold sores.

    Unless your doctor has suggested otherwise, applying a topical cream might provide extra benefits alongside oral meds. These include:

    • Doscosanol (Abreva), which is available over the counter
    • Acyclovir (Zovirax), by prescription only
    • Penciclovir (Denavir), by prescription only

    The first stage of a cold sore might be painful or uncomfortable. If so, you can try taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). You might also get relief from a cream like lidocaine or benzocaine.


    After about a day or 2 of the tingles, your cold sore will become visible in the blistering stage.

    At this point, one or more blisters full of clear fluid will appear on the skin’s surface. The skin around the blisters will be red. They can develop on or inside your mouth (and even in your throat — no thanks).

    Managing stage two

    It may be a good idea to start using a pain reliever, oral medication, or topical cream at this stage (if you weren’t already during stage one). You should also drink as much water as possible.

    Staying hydrated is important, especially when your mouth is sore. 

    Throughout every stage of cold sore symptoms, you might feel discomfort while eating. It’s best to avoid foods that will irritate the sore, such as: 

    • citrus
    • spicy foods
    • salty foods
    • hot liquids

    If you can see a cold sore, it’s more contagious

    A visible cold sore is highly contagious and can easily transmit HSV-1 to others.

    Be sure to wash your hands with warm, soapy water whenever you touch the affected area. It’s also important to avoid sharing food or drinks with anyone else during this time.

    HSV-1 can also transmit through kissing and oral sex. So limiting intimate contact is also a good idea during a breakout.


    The third stage comes a few days after the cold sore appears on your skin. It will break open and will look red and shallow.

    During this stage, HSV-1 is likely to pass from one person to the next. This is because the cold sore releases its fluid (yuck).

    Managing stage three

    If you haven’t started using a topical or oral pain reliever to help with symptoms, this is a good time to kick off your relief. You can also soothe pain and discomfort with a cold or warm compress.


    Once the weeping stage is over, your blister will begin to dry out. So begins the crusting stage.

    As the blister dries, it will look yellow or brown.

    Managing stage four

    For relief, you can use:

    • a cold compress
    • a warm compress
    • zinc oxide ointment

    Avoid temptation — don’t pick at cold sores

    It’s tempting to pick at the sores, but try not to.

    Picking can make them more severe or increase the risk of transmission. If bacteria enters the wound, picking cold sores can even create a bacterial skin infection.

    So it’s best to pick another hobby.


    The healing stage is the final stage. (And now, the act you’ve all been waiting for…)

    The crusted blister will begin to scab over as it heals. Since this can be uncomfortable, you can try to keep the scab soft by using emollients containing zinc oxide or aloe vera.

    As the scab flakes away, it will slowly clear up. People usually reach this stage around 5 to 15 days after noting symptoms.

    Cold sores generally don’t leave a scar behind. (Hooray!)

    How a cold sore develops 

    Cold sores develop because of the herpes simplex virus — either type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2).

    The sores that develop after either virus enters the body are very similar in appearance. Both can cause sores on the genitals or mouth. 

    The herpes virus is highly contagious and can spread even if the sores aren’t visible. You can spread herpes through close contact like kissing, oral sex, or sharing cosmetics or food.

    Herpes is also extremely common: up to 90 percent of adults have the virus, and as many as 50 percent of people develop the condition by the time they’re in kindergarten. Not everyone with herpes will experience cold sores.

    There is no cure for herpes. It might be dormant in your body for years before a cold sore ever appears on the skin. Once sores heal, the virus can go back to being dormant until a trigger reactivates it.


    After exposure to the herpes virus, you will generally get a cold sore after triggers cause the virus to flare up. These triggers can be different for everyone.

    Some examples include:

    Areas that cold sores develop

    Cold sores due to HSV-1 generally form on or in your mouth. They can also develop on your cheeks, nose, and eyes.

    When to see a doctor 

    It’s possible to treat the occasional cold sore at home. Over-the-counter medication can speed up the healing process and provide relief.

    If you get cold sores on a fairly regular basis, you may want to see your doctor for prescription medication. This can reduce how often they occur and make them less severe when they do.

    You should seek consultation if a cold sore:

    • spreads to your eye (this is an emergency and can cause vision loss)
    • develops alongside a fever
    • doesn’t clear up in a week or 2
    • causes crusted or oozing skin


    Cold sores are red, fluid-filled blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus.

    There are five stages to a cold sore: tingling, blistering, weeping, crusting, and healing.

    Cold sores are a result of the herpes virus, which can lay dormant in your body until a sore comes up on the skin. Different factors can trigger a cold sore, such as a weakened immune system, stress, and hormonal changes.

    Cold sores can develop on or inside the mouth, and less commonly on the cheeks, nose, and eyes.

    You should see a doctor if you regularly get cold sores. A doctor can also help if they travel to your eye, don’t go away after a week or 2, or become surrounded by crusty skin.