My October Favorites: TV, Music, and More for a Festive Halloween

Hey, friends! I thought I’d switch up the pace of my blog this week in honor of the best month: October! With fall weather finally settling in and Halloween right around the corner, I figured it would be neat to talk about all the spooky s**t I’m obsessed with this season.

Last year, my October favorites blog post was my most well-received post, so I’m here to give the people what they want! Forewarning: Stranger Things, S2, did not make the cut for this list because A) it’s a given and you should definitely be watching and B) I won’t be binge-watching it til Halloween comes.

Whether you’re hosting the ghoulish get-together of the century or having a low-key, fright-night-in, here are a few things I’ve been indulging in that’ll make your Halloween night to die for:

FOOD PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD

The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread - Super soft, moist, rich pumpkin flavor, and loaded with chocolate chips! Easy, no mixer recipe that's the BEST!!

I usually stick to TV/film/music when I talk about October favorites, but this recipe is just too good not to include. Pumpkin flavored everything seems to the standard this time of year, but I don’t f**k with anything made with artificial pumpkin. Gross.

Baking is one of my passions year-round, but baking in the fall always feels the most rewarding. The flavor of real pumpkin purée mingling with, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, in a toasty oven, is like a hug for your nose.

Late last November, I found this recipe online for “The Best Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread” and it definitely lives up to the hype. I’ve made my fair share of pumpkin bread throughout the years, but this recipe combines those homey fall flavors with morsels of chocolate, which of course makes everything better.

The magic behind the moistness (I’m not sorry) of this pumpkin bread is the addition of sour cream — or Greek yogurt, if you prefer. The softness of the cake and the gooey-ness of the melted chocolate rightfully upholds this recipe’s title as ‘the best.’

Pro Tip: Bake the batter in mini muffin pans, instead of a bread pan, for perfect bite-sized treats that are easy to serve at a party and even easier to shamefully shove into your mouth while you binge watch horror films all night.

TELEVISION — ERASED (2016)

Between two jobs and a full-time academic workload, I haven’t had much time to get into new shows or movies this semester, but I did manage to come across a particularly noteworthy series.

If you’re one of those people who can’t watch a show with subtitles, you are egregiously f**ing up and missing out on a stellar series.

ERASED is a Japanese anime about Satoru Fujinuma, a 29-year-old, struggling manga artist with a strange, supernatural gift. In moments of oncoming tragedy, Satoru finds himself in periods of ‘revival,’ in which he is sent back several minutes before an incident occurs. He uses this rewind-in-time as a second chance to spot approaching danger and save lives.

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In the first few minutes, this anime seems to establish the themes of most, generic anime plots: awkward protagonist who lives alone and works a dead-end job, cute/potential high school love interest/friend/coworker pushes his buttons often, and the difficulties of paving your career path in the Japanese job market.

However, the first episode quickly escalates as Satoru experiences a period of ‘revival,’ saving an innocent passerby and establishing that very little is normal about our protagonist’s life.

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I don’t want to reveal too much about this series, but the plot quickly thickens with overtones of murder, mystery, and a long-time unsolved case of child abduction. This show is perfect for those who aren’t a fan of excessive gore and jump-scare horror, seeing as it fits the bill of more of the thriller/mystery genre.

Image result for erased anime mom gets murder

You can access ERASED on VRV.co, an online TV and film streaming service. It’s $10/month to sign up with VRV, but you can definitely take advantage of their 7-day free trial before you commit to it.

Pro Tip: Do NOT skip the opening theme before each episode of ERASED. In fact, I encourage you to pay close attention to it for full immersion, which will aid your uncovering of the mysteries presented in the series.

MUSIC — “TT” by TWICE

Image result for twice tt black dress

If heart-stopping, frightening things aren’t your jam, I’m disappointed, but not surprised. I try to work Halloween into small-talk this time of year and I’ve noticed that a lot of people aren’t as jazzed about the grim and eerie side of the season as I am.

If you’re one of those people, or if you just so happen to really love K-Pop, then you have to check out the music video for “TT” by TWICE.

I’m a pretty big K-pop buff but, seeing as I’m not a huge fan of girl groups, I hadn’t heard of TWICE before. A good friend of mine introduced me to them during the first week of October and I was hooked. Halloween? K-pop? Cute girls? Yes.

The premise of the video is just, weird? Like, it doesn’t make sense at all, but — as with all things K-pop — it’s extremely aesthetically pleasing.

Two little kids who seem to be trick-or-treating (?) walk into a creepy house and find a group of girls dressed in pastels and, several outfit changes later, are seen embodying an assortment of Halloween characters – all while they sing about some dude they’re crushing and crying, or ‘TT-ing,’ over (T_T).

Image result for twice tt puppet

After watching the video a few times, I noticed that the girls’ costumes might actually be a sly homage to certain Disney characters, including but not limited to a snow queen, a puppet, a tiny blonde fairy, and a mermaid.

I’m not gonna lie though, regardless of the cute Halloween theme of the music video, this song has been my October anthem for the catchy-ness of the song alone. It’s a total banger…that I may or may not have memorized the dance moves to.

Have a Happy (and safe) Halloween!

Image result for cute halloween gif

X,

Katerina

Feeling SAD: Battling Fall/Winter Seasonal Affective Disorder

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With week 8 of the Fall 2017 semester coming to a close, I feel simultaneously relieved and unnerved. We’re almost there! Yay! But also, holy s**t.

Regardless of whether you’re excited or terrified that the semester is half way over, a congratulations is most definitely in order.

Pass those midterms! The happy avocado believes in you! And so do I.

This week, I wanted to check in on my blog readers because, in addition to the stress that midterm season brings, this time of year is rather difficult for me because I get SAD.

And no, I don’t mean ‘sad’ like when you watch a movie and any slightly touching moment that happens transforms you into an inconsolable whirlwind of tears. No? Just me? Okay, cool.

Well, I’m talking about seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Those who suffer from SAD — which can either be a stand-alone or an additional sub-type of major depression — typically experience it around early fall, leading into and throughout the winter months. However, experiencing SAD in the spring/summer is totally possible, too.

Essentially, it’s a seasonal form of depression that pokes its head around the corner each year, around the same time of year. I take fall/winter SAD rather seriously because most people brush it off as ‘normal’ to feel down as the temperatures plummet, mislabeling the sensation a ‘winter blues.’

While it’s normal to feel down now and then, it’s important to understand that SAD is very much not that, just like depression =/= feeling sad. SAD is a form of depression characterized by persisting, prolonged periods of lethargy, oversleeping, not sleeping enough, hopelessness, overeating, not eating enough, etc. — much like major depression.

In my case, SAD takes shape as soon as I notice that sun is beginning to disappear before 6pm. Less sunlight means less serotonin, which can be a depression breeding ground. The simplest tasks start to feel more impossible than usual. My limbs become leaden, my drive is all but extinguished, my confidence is obliterated, and my thoughts are poisonous.

I’ve never been able to prevent SAD, and that’s the truly crummy part about some forms of depression — they don’t leave, you merely learn how to better handle them — but, in addition to the obvious solutions like therapy, medication, exercise, supplements, a balanced diet, and so on, I had an epiphany recently.

Amidst the relentless sea of responsibilities and obligations that consume us in the approaching winter months, how much of what we do is because we actually want to be doing it? And I’m talking, no strings attached.

This semester, I’m enrolled full-time and I’m working two part time jobs, one of which entails being a research assistant for a professor — i.e. reading scholarly articles all week, trying to understand them, and looking at Excel spreadsheets until my vision fails.

I took a hard look at my life and realized that the only ‘fun’ I’ve allowed myself is watching half of Food Network’s Chopped re-runs in between post-workout eating and showering. Everything else? Work. Stress. Deadlines.

So this week, I’m turning that question around on you. When was the last time you did something just for the hell of it? Have a heart to heart with yourself and reevaluate your schedule and your methods of self care. Our jobs, educations, and other responsibilities take priority, but our mental health should too.

X,

Katerina

 

 

 

Where Do I Belong: The Side Effects of Being a Social Chameleon

Hey, all! Just a quick, lil blurb from me.  For those who are new to my blogging segment, or to UIC Radio in general, my name is Katerina and I mainly blog about mental health.


I’ve been a social chameleon for most of my life and, until just recently, I was proud of this label.

Social chameleons are adaptive, agreeable, and they have a facilitated ability to make friends wherever they go.

In psychological terms, a social chameleon is a person who engages in excessive self-monitoring — which is defined as the proficiency in reading social cues and altering one’s actions and behavior to allow themselves to blend into a specific social situation.

As human beings, self-monitoring is a completely normal and necessary phenomenon in which to partake. We do so in order to manage our self-image, to show off our ‘best selves.’

But when self-monitoring is taken to the extreme, as is the case with social chameleons, the desire to fit in and be received positively by others can overcome and compromise one’s identity.

Continue reading “Where Do I Belong: The Side Effects of Being a Social Chameleon”

I Shared a Room with Nick Offerman for 2 Hours and My Will to Live Has Been Restored

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If you haven’t been able to tell by the copious references and GIFs strewn about my blog posts, I love Parks and Recreation. A lot.

So when I learned Nick Offerman, who plays Ron Swanson (a.k.a. my favorite character), would be headlining a comedy show at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee I did not hesitate. I expected an evening full of laughter while I fan-girled over Offerman’s precious, iconic giggle (which is in fact his real laugh).

nick offerman ticket

But I experienced much more.

Sadly, I was not allowed to take any photos during the show, but I would feel quite selfish if I kept all of Offerman’s sage wisdom to myself.

I really don’t have a smooth transition for this, so I’ll just go right out and say it: The big take away from his show was that we should all learn to go “full bush.”

Now, I know how this sounds and, I admit, he did talk about pubic hair for a bit, but it was only a third of the equation. Offerman explained to us that “going full bush” means: embracing your body and becoming less dependent on modern technology.

Offerman provided a better explanation about the ‘birds and the bees’ than my public high school health class—which in hindsight I now realize doesn’t mean much—and I wish I had heard these words as a sexually spouting, awkward middle schooler.

Do you remember being in like 5th-6th grade and receiving several extremely unhelpful pamphlets about your ‘changing body’ and (sorry, this one’s for the ladies) a care package of a singular pad, maybe a tampon, and a mini stick of deodorant? Well, I sure do because it was T R A U M A T I C. I went from being a little kid who didn’t even care about whether or not my clothes matched to a mini woman-in-training who went on 24/7 paranoia alert over having body hair where society was telling me not to have it and keeping my armpits fresh at all times.

Now, there is nothing  wrong with removing body hair—and smelling great is always a welcome plus—but the way women young girls are socialized to feel ashamed of their bodies, for something as natural and non-indicative of their worth as hair, is truly awful.

And Offerman agrees. His “full bush” message was one of unrelenting body positivity. He shared his belief that both men and women alike should embrace the natural state of their bodies and I all but died. One of my heroes, a MAN, was telling us all to love our bodies and for women, especially, to raise a big middle finger to society.

It was quite an uplifting ‘first’ for me, but Offerman is no stranger to feminism. He attended one the Women’s Marches that occurred across the nation, Pussyhat and all, in Park City, Utah.

nick offerman pussy hat
Image: Twitter

Bless you, Nick Offerman.

If this wasn’t encouraging enough, he also shared his concern for our obsession with social media and modern technology.

Now, whenever someone above the age of 30 tries to tell me that I spend too much time on social media, I typically roll my eyes so hard that they pop out of their sockets. Though he had the chance, Offerman didn’t lecture us, a theater full of college students, he outed us all.

Young and old, he believes we spend too much time on social media, Facebook specifically, watching videos and reading posts that, in the long run, have little value: a picture of your friend’s meal, yet another selfie captioned with an ‘inspirational’ quote, your aunt’s status update in which she inquires for the best crock pot recipe.

I’m seriously guilty of it all and, sometimes, I really hate myself for it. I spend so much time watching others rather than participating in my own life. I’m fairly certain it’s a sort of addiction at this point.

Offerman shared his solution, which is to try and make things, and fail often in the process. He led by example and brought out a ukulele that he had made himself, and I honestly thought I was about to experience cardiac arrest—Nick freaking Offerman, a feminist ally who plays ukulele.

He was like a schoolboy who made his first piece of macaroni art, beaming with pride over something he put great effort into crafting, but what made the moment truly noteworthy was that he also pointed out the instrument’s flaws. He had left a spacious gap between the top part of the neck and the first fret, and the frets themselves had been measured incorrectly or were mostly improvised.

“But it looks like a ukulele,” he told us, “and sounds like one too.” Despite its flaws, he was proud of his creation and encouraged that we take the time to make things, even if they are misshapen and imperfect.

“Take the time to make something, whether it be art, music, food, items, etc. regardless of the possibility to failure,” Offerman said. “We are mean to fail. It shows that we’re trying to contribute to our communities.”

X,

Katerina

The “Friend Zone” Isn’t Real, Maybe I Just Don’t Like You

friendzoned boy

NOTE: The friend zone is a social construct which originated from the inter-workings of instances of unrequited affection in heterosexual courtship. While it is in no way permissible for females to impose this dynamic on males, this piece emphasizes the roles of the friend zone phenomenon from the perspective of those who the social system oppresses pervasively, females.

A majority of the men in my past will tell you I placed them in the “friend zone.”

Two words, noun. One word, verb.

A man feels that he has been friendzoned” when a woman, whom he is sexually interested in, does not reciprocate sexual interest and sees him as “just a friend” despite all of the nice gestures he has done for her.

But the “friend zone” isn’t a place and you can’t actually get “friendzoned.”

Throughout our lives we categorize our relationships. We have our friends, our family, our co-workers, our colleagues, our neighbors, our significant others, and so on. These categories are complex and can be unpacked further and further into specific sub-categories.

In the broadest sense of categorization, there are two spheres of people in our lives: the people we have sex with and the people we don’t have sex with. Sex can only occur when there is consent.

The way the social dynamic of the “friend zone” operates is problematic because it strips women of their person-hood by placing the fault on them for their lack of consent.

When a man gets upset with a woman because she has placed him in the “friend zone,” he is upset that after all of his kind efforts, he is being denied access to her body. She has broken the social contract and has not kept up her part of the transaction.

I have been verbally threatened on many occasions for this very reason.

This is shameful, not only for the fact that no one is entitled ownership to a body that is not theirs, but because bodies are not something to be owned. Women have no obligation to lay with men because no such contract exists.

And yet, under this frame of thinking men develop a sense of entitlement which the internet likes to refer to as “nice guy syndrome.”

Nice guy syndrome (NGS) is a term designated to men who describe themselves as genuine “nice guys” and use kind gestures as thinly veiled disguises in order to emotionally satisfy women into a romantic relationship and/or sex.

A man with NGS, will hold open the door, pay for your meal, bring you a rose, buy you a “just-because” gift, among other nice gestures, with the expectation that there will be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

But women are not coin-operated machines. There is not a proper combination of nice, coercion-coins men can offer women who are sexually and/or emotionally disinterested that will convince them into dispensing their vaginas.

There is not a single damn thing that is sexy, romantic, or respectful about starting a relationship by having to coerce someone into giving you a chance because you’re such a “nice guy.”

Maybe I just don’t like you.

 

 

Deception: How Social Anxiety Disorder Ruins My Life

social anxiety disorder
Image retrieved from Thought Catalog

If you’ve been keeping up with my blog for a while, you would know that I met my number one hero, indie-folk singer, song-writer John Paul White, this past November.

This past weekend, I met another one of my heroes — but I almost let my mental illness talk me out of the opportunity of a lifetime. 


I sprawled out onto my bed after a hectic morning of errands, followed by a work out, and checked my watch.

11:30 a.m.

Really? My level of exhaustion made it seem as though it would be appropriate for the sun to be setting, but my watch was correct.

In order to make it to the event on time at 6 p.m., I had to shower (20 minutes), blow dry and style my hair (90 minutes – I know, I’m not a fan either), apply some makeup (15 minutes), and leave the house with enough time to get there, factoring in some added time due to the inevitability of traffic around the O’Hare airport area (50 minutes).

I had roughly 5 hours, that’s 300 minutes for those of you who also hate conversions, to complete 175 minutes of activity. That’s essentially double the amount of time I needed.

12:00 p.m.

I laid unmoved from my bed, my mind running in circles.

This event was a free POP Pilates session and meet and greet with one of my biggest inspirations, Cassey Ho. I’ve admired her since the early stages of her YouTube channel, Blogilates. This would be her first time visiting Chicago, perhaps even my only chance to meet her. I had been excited for this day for a whole month.

But then I thought about how I wasn’t the only one who would want to meet her.

Previous meet ups of this kind yielded immense volumes of fans — I’ve seen so on Cassey’s Instagram posts. How many people would be there? Any number higher than five would breed potential for an anxiety attack.

And I knew there would be more than five.

1:00 p.m.

My thoughts became extremely paralyzing.

What kind of loser goes to events alone? I mean, sure. I see people go to the movies or to a restaurant alone all the time, and I don’t think any less of them. I understand that just because they are alone now that doesn’t mean they don’t have friends.But what if all of the other attendees think I don’t have any friends?

What if they don’t understand? I told myself they wouldn’t understand, that they would judge me.

2:00 p.m.

I hopped in and out of the shower, then began styling my hair. I went through the motions, forcing myself to get ready with great reluctance. It’ll be fun, I thought to myself.

But my enthusiasm felt fake. It wafake. The brain of an openly-emotional person doesn’t respond well to fake emotions.

I started to worry that I had wasted too much time brooding in bed and that even if I had decided to go, I would be late. I felt my stomach twinge at the thought of walking into the room while everyone was in the middle of the workout session.

They would be on their yoga mats, smiling and sweating, moving in fluid unison to the beat of a catchy pop tune.

And then I would open the door and the music would cut abruptly. Everyone would turn to look at me: disgusted and thrown off-kilter — signified by the contorted, sour look on their faces.

They wouldn’t understand. They would judge me, hate me.


Despite all of this vindictive negativity my mind poisoned me to believe, I persisted. I made my way to the event, reminding myself that I am not my mental illnesses.

Literally NONE of the hypothetical scenarios in my head happened.

I arrived on time. Others had showed up alone. Everyone was kind. I high-fived, hugged, and connected with strangers. We took a group picture. I met Cassey and she was lovely.

cassey-and-me

I held on to a bit of anxiety throughout the entire night, as per usual, but I went.

And I had an unforgettable time.

Speaking from previous experience, I would have fallen into a massive depressive-low if I had allowed my social anxiety to keep me prisoner to my bed.

You are enough. Your singular presence is enough.

X,

Katerina

Valentine’s Day Doesn’t (Have to) Suck but the Way It’s Marketed Sure Does

An overwhelming amount of my friends are — as they have in previous years — boycotting Valentine’s Day. Their rejection ranges from refusing to acknowledge the Hallmark holiday completely to throwing full-on “Anti-Valentine’s Day” get-togethers.

And although I am an obnoxiously mushy and love-obsessed “surprise-your-friend-with-a-cookie-for-no-reason” kind of empath during the other 364 days of the year as well, I understand.

Valentine’s Day is exclusive in numerous ways. Basically, if you aren’t a female in a monogamous heterosexual relationship, this day isn’t marketed for your enjoyment. Heterosexual men are only thrown into the equation because they’re the ones expected to spoil their girlfriends/fiancées/wives on this stupid, American marketing ploy of a holiday.

But, if you haven’t noticed, every holiday is a stupid, American marketing ploy. Easter? Yes. Halloween? Yes. Christmas? Obviously. Labor Day Weekend? Sorry, but yes.

So what gives? Did I just make this post to bum everyone out? In a cornucopia of vegetables, is Valentine’s Day the unseasoned Brussels sprout of holidays?

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to suck, because much like everything else in this world, it’s what you make of it.

If you want to invite your friends over, sip wine, and brood over how this dumb day makes you feel down, then do it.

If you want to have a low-key night with yourself, watching Netflix and eating a heart-shaped pizza, then do it.

If you want to dress to the nines and go out on a fancy dinner-date with your significant other, then do it.

If you want to do absolutely nothing to recognize this holiday, then do it.

However, if you were looking for some form of advice to make February 14th a bit more bearable, I urge you to enlist the help of the curative powers of…

P L A T O N I C ~ L O V E

vday-message

It might be a bit of an oxymoron but platonic love is a real thing, a wonderful thing.

This Valentine’s Day, tell or show your friends, your parents, your grandparents, your pets, and who ever else you might care about, that you love them.

If love is too strong of a sentiment, tell them they’re special, that you admire them, or that you are thankful for the part they play in your life.

Make them feel special year-round, but love them a little extra on Valentine’s Day.

It couldn’t hurt.

X,

Katerina

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Her That Will Last Longer than a Dozen Roses

As a Leo, nothing melts my heart quite like a grand romantic gesture (especially if they are for me, duh) but most of us can’t afford to rent a flight of obedient doves to form our loved one’s name in the sky or a luxurious all-day spa experience complete with mimosas, mud baths and massages.

And while I’ve yet to discover an affordable alternative for those doves, there is a much less costly substitute for a spa certificate that will still leave your loved one feeling relaxed and pampered.

So whether you have a spouse, a significant other, a friend, a mother, or a sister to shop for—or if you just want to treat yo’ fabulous self this coming Valentine’s Day—you are in luck because I am the queen of pampering.

Read on for my top three favorite skin care mask products.

BONVIVANT  Botanical Mask Pack, $14

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Photo courtesy of https://us.memebox.com/ 

If you’re looking for quantity and quality look no further than this gift set of botanical sheet masks from Bonvivant offered on Memebox. I have tried countless different sheet masks in my day and Bonvivant has proven to be one my favorite go-to brands.

Unlike some sheet mask brands with heavy fragrances, Bonvivant’s masks have a very pleasant, natural-smelling scent which is perfect for those who are fragrance-sensitive. They’re also a favorite because of the wide variety of solutions they offer.

Masks like their Niacinamide + Lime and Collagen + Olive are perfect for giving dull skin a rejuvenated, brightening glow while their Madecassoside + Mugwort and Mint Tea Tree masks are perfect for tightening pores and relaxing sensitive or blemish-prone skin.

Also, check out this insane value! Fourteen sheet masks, for $14, to give as a gift on February 14th? They do say good things come in threes! In this set, they even throw in a bonus mask and a preciously cozy cat ear headband to keep stray hairs away from the face while masking.

LUSH – Cupcake Fresh Face Mask, $10

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Photo courtesy of https://lushusa.com/

In keeping with the theme of Valentine’s Day, this chocolate scented mask from LUSH would be a fantastic gift. It’s perfect for those with oil-prone or troubled skin because of its cooling and mattifying ingredients like cocoa, spearmint oil, and vanilla. Plus, it smells delicious enough to eat—but please don’t.

For super oily complexions I recommend applying a thin layer on the entire face, avoiding the eyes and mouth, but don’t be afraid to apply it as a spot-treatment. As someone with combination oily/dry skin, I use this mask for my T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin) and apply a more moisturizing mask on the rest of my face to make sure my skin gets the nourishment it needs, exactly where it needs it.

It’s also perfect for a loved one who is ethically conscious about using cruelty-free products because it is 100 percent vegan (Lush is a great brand for this purpose).

Tip: Make certain to keep this mask stored in the fridge (and let your loved one know too) to retain its fresh ingredient goodness. It has a short shelf life due to the amount of natural ingredients but allows for approximately four to ten uses!

ELIZAVECCA  Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask, $11

piggy-bubble-mask
Photo courtesy of https://us.memebox.com/

If you want a product that’s fun and functional look no further than this carbonated bubble clay mask from Elizavecca. Contrary to the other two masks, this product goes on smooth but is quick-acting and begins to foam and bubble after a few minutes of sitting on the skin, giving your face its own personal bubble bath.

Aside from the soothing sensations it gives the surface of the skin, this mask is one of my favorites because is triple acting: it cleanses, exfoliates away dead skin, and unclogs pores. It can even be used to take off makeup or, as usual, applied to a freshly washed face.

The mask’s main ingredients of charcoal powder, green tea, pomegranate extract, and collagen are pore-fect restorative nutrients for all skin types. Crowd pleaser!

Tip: Make sure to leave roughly 1 inch of space around the perimeter of sensitive areas, such as the eyes, to avoid irritation. As the mask begins to bubble from the carbonation, it will grow in size and move across the skin—a little goes a long way!

X,

Katerina

Chicago Donut Fest 2017: A.K.A. Easier to Wake up for Than My 8am Class

Friends, I have a confession. Y’know how sports are the utmost reverenced and widely accepted pinnacle of American culture? Well, I have never cared for these competitive sportsball games, of any kind.

But this year I’ve learned there is one competition I can get behind, one where everyone ends up a winner (ish).

Donut Fest is an annual celebration—held in Chicago, New York, and Cleveland—which invites the best local restaurants and bakeries to bring their doughnut A-game in hopes of receiving the most votes to earn the title of “Best Donut.”

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The most rewarding part about being a fan of this sport is its simplicity: you show up, you receive tickets, you give the tickets to the booths, you get donuts and coffee, and then, finally, you eat the donuts, release several satisfying moans and wonder why you haven’t been starting every morning prior to this very moment with donuts.

The worst part was definitely having to wake up at 6am on a Sunday, but it was a small price to pay to have been granted early access to donut heaven before the general public and earning the official title of “Donut V.I.P.” which, for the record, better be engraved onto my future tombstone.

This year’s Donut Fest featured 11 donut vendors including Chicago donut staples like Stan’s Donuts, Glazed and Infused, and Doughnut Vault and suburban underdog shops like B’s Sweet Bites (Des Plaines), DeEtta’s Bakery (Naperville), and Gurnee Donuts (Gurnee).

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Left to Right: S’mores (Beavers Donuts), Chocolate Sour Cream Old Fashion (DeEtta’s Bakery), Mango Sriracha (Glazed and Infused), Pretzel Style Donut (B’s Sweet Bites), Dark Chocolate Butter Finger (Stan’s Donuts), Cinnamon Sugar (Beavers Donuts), Cookies ‘n’ Cream (Doughnut Vault), Mint Chocolate Chip (Glazed and Infused), Vanilla Glazed with Sprinkles (Cochon Volant)

I wish I could say that I didn’t eat 80 percent of what is pictured above in one sitting—in addition to the donuts from 4 other vendors that I ate immediately because I sadly only have two hands—but I did. #Healthy #CleanLiving

However, as justification, it was for the greater good.  As a Donut V.I.P., it was my duty to assess the flavors of each donut and cast my vote for the most deserving candidate.

donutfest20175

I did my best to leave my predisposition for Glazed and Infused’s donuts far from my decision-making, and ended up casting my vote for Gurnee Donuts’ Buko Pandan, a young green coconut glazed donut inspired by a popular Filipino dessert.

The official judges awarded DeEtta’s Bakery of Naperville with a trophy for their Chocolate Sour Cream Old Fashion, while the crowd deemed Doughnut Vault’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream best in show.

Until next week!

X,

Katerina