Valentine’s Day alternative: Galentine’s Day

Who said Valentine’s Day is only for couples?

Thanks to “Parks and Recreation” character Leslie Knope, Valentine’s Day does not look so unappealing anymore. She gifted women with a new option: Galentine’s Day. Round up the gang and “treat yo’ self” this Monday, Feb. 13.

Because Galentine’s Day is Monday, there are limited options for college students with class the next day. Here are some tips to celebrate the day in an easy way:

Hosting a Galentine’s Party:

A party may seem like an impossible option for those who live in a compact dorm room, but Galentine’s parties are doable. All you will need is a study room or recreational room. You can invite your whole floor; the more the merrier.

This party will be a slumber party without slumber. Of course, no party would be without a perfect playlist. And though many songs are about love, there are plenty about female empowerment to get the party going.

Pexels Music

  1. “Independent Woman” by Destiny Child
  2. “Wannabe” by Spice Girls
  3. “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift
  4. “(What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You) Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson
  5. “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stafani
  6. “Formation” by Beyoncé
  7. “Run the World” by Beyoncé
  8. “No Scrubs” by TLC

After setting the playlist for the party, focus on activities. Being a student typically means keeping a low budget. There are plenty of options to chose from in the kitchen to make this the perfect party.

You can turn this Galentine’s party into a spa night with a few ingredients from the kitchen: nail polish and a few bowls.

With first exams coming up, stress increases rapidly. These do-it-yourself face masks can help relieve the stress from that dreaded 8 a.m. class:

Brown Sugar Scrub Mask

  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil

Banana Face Mask

  • ½ a banana
  • 1 teaspoon of honey

The Avocado Mask

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon plain organic yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon of honey

The Delicious ‘Mud’ Mask

  • 2-3 Tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. buttermilk
  • ¼-1/2 of a banana mashed
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice

Of course, a celebration of bestie love would not be complete without binge-watching amazing films.

Pexels Popcorn

  1. “13 going on 30”

Yes, the film is a romantic-comedy, but it is more than just a simple rom-com. This film reflects on the typical high school needs to be “cool” and date the most popular guy with great hair. But none of that matters in the future. All that matters are the friends who stick around, know the quirky side of you and will dance with you to “Thriller” like Matt Flamhaff (Mark Ruffalo).

2. “[500] Days of Summer”

This is another romantic-comedy with a dramatic and bittersweet twist. Not to worry, it is no love story (as it states in the first five minutes of the film). Gender roles are reversed as Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the heartbroken Tom and Zooey Deschanel plays the romantic interest – a nice change from the usual love-struck woman leading role. This film shows that break-ups happen, but the next girl/guy might be a winner.

3. “Mulan”

Disney movies are beloved by many though a majority of Disney princess films are always empowering. Whether it be getting saved from the clutches of her evil step mother in “Cinderella” or being saved from a cursed slumber in “Sleeping Beauty,” these films show women as needing to be saved. Disney is changing that motif in recent films like with “Brave” and “Frozen.” But “Mulan” shows love is the last thing on her mind; no one needs to save her from battle.

4. “Legally Blonde”

This film may start out like a love story, but it is all about female empowerment.  Elle (Reese Witherspoon) enrolls at Harvard to get her boyfriend back, but that ambition becomes irrelevant when she proves she is more than the stereotypical blonde.

Happy Galentine’s Day!

 

Featured Image: Pexels

Edited by Lexie Little

Ask An Editor: Valentine’s Day Dilemma

Q: I don’t know what to get my girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. Got any tips?

A: Shopping for significant others can be tricky. Here are a few options to (hopefully) win her heart:

1. Just ask
Asking is the easiest way to find out what she wants. You may feel awkward by being so direct, but she will probably appreciate that you really want to buy something she would love.

2. Stick with the obvious
If you have been together for a while, you probably know her favorite stores and restaurants. Gift cards to these places are great, especially for college students. If her favorite band is coming to town, try to score some tickets. Favorite lotion? There’s a Bath & Body Works coupon for that.

3. Listen and observe
When you are with her, be attentive to what she says and does. If she mentions she lost her makeup blender, go to a cosmetics store and pick one up. She will be excited about the sponge, but more excited you listened. If she looks at something in a store for more than three seconds and touches it, there’s a good chance she wants it. She will be impressed you noticed. Oh, stalk Pinterest too.

4. Pick some flowers
Flowers are simple and classic. Buy a dozen of her favorites. If you don’t know her favorite flower, pick some that are her favorite color. And when in complete doubt, you can almost never go wrong with roses.

5. Do something unexpected
Okay, don’t go crazy and rent a yacht or something (unless you have the means to do so), but doing something unexpected can be really neat. Go outside the norm. Handwrite a letter. Write her a song. Put together a photo collage for her wall. Paint or build something for her. Use your strengths and wit to do something cool – something she will cherish.

I hope you find the perfect gift.

– TNJN Editor

 

Have a question you’d like answered? Email your question to asktnjn@aol.com and an editor will respond promptly.

Opinion: Romance your sweetheart with the perfect playlist for V-Day

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Ladies and gentlemen–couples and single-for-lifers, the day of love is almost upon us. What could be more important than an assortment of beautiful flowers and a romantic dinner? Well, I’ll tell you– it’s the right music to make you feel that love is in the air.

Feb. 14 symbolizes the power of love, as well as the many forms love can take. So, in honor of the many forms of love, I have compiled a 19-song playlist that represents Valentine’s Day in the most appropriate way. Feel free to share it with that special guy or gal of your choosing.

Featured Image courtesy of creativecommons.org

Edited by Jessica Carr

Opinion: Top 5 date ideas for a Valentine’s Day at the theatre

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Valentine’s Day will soon be upon us, so that means it’s time to start making those plans for a romantic date night. While dinner and a movie is always a classic choice, it can never hurt to try something new. This year, check out one of these theatre events in and around the Knoxville area:

  1. Valentine’s Day Weekend with Erick Baker– When Erick Baker graduated from UT in 2011 with a public relations degree, he never thought he’d make his living as a singer-songwriter. However, a gig opening for John Legend in 2007 changed his path. His soulful lyrics and tender voice will create the perfect romantic mood for you and your significant other. Baker will be returning to his Tennessee roots at the Bijou Theatre for two shows on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. Visit the Bijou’s official website for ticket information and more about Baker. Tickets are $25.
  2. “The Last Five Years”– “The Last Five Years” is a play that chronicles five years in the life of a couple, Cathy and Jamie, as they experience the ups and downs of their relationship. This two-person show is told in reverse chronological order, starting at the end of their marriage and ending a few days after the two meet for the first time. While this may have the potential to be sad, the show is romantic, poignant and relatable. “The Last Five Years” opens Feb. 12 at 8 p.m. at Theatre Knoxville Downtown and will run every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Feb. 28 at various times. For more information about the show and to purchase tickets for $15, visit Theatre Knoxville’s Downtown website.
  3. “Saturday Night Fever”- Audiences are probably familiar with the iconic 1977 film “Saturday Night Fever” starring John Travolta, but now they have a chance to see it like they’ve never seen it before: as a live musical at the Tennessee Theatre. The story focuses on Tony Manero, a young man who’s stuck in his life. However, his weekends at the local discotheque seem to make all of his troubles disappear. Fun choreography, Bee Gees hits and an all-around nostalgic vibe will have you and your significant other dancing in your seats. “Saturday Night Fever” opens at the Tennessee Theatre on Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. and will have two additional shows on Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more information and ticket prices, visit the Tennessee Theatre’s website.
  4. “Cantus: The Four Loves” – Cantus, one of the nation’s only full-time vocal ensembles will be performing a new show just in time for Valentine’s Day. “The Four Loves” celebrates the Greek idea that there are four types of love: spiritual, romantic, familial and friendship. Cantus is known for its innovative concerts, so couples can expect a unique viewing experience. They will be performing at the Clayton Center for the Arts in Maryville, Tenn. for one night only on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. For ticket prices and more, visit Clayton Center for the Arts’ official website.
  5. “Titus Andronicus”– William Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” isn’t exactly romantic. In fact, it’s tragic play about revenge and violence. However, according to the Clarence Brown Theatre, this play is rarely performed. This unique experience would make for a great date night that is sure to shock both you and your date. “Titus Andronicus” opens on for previews on Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m., but officially opens on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. The show runs though Feb. 28 at various times. For more information about show times and tickets, visit the Clarence Brown Theatre’s website.

Featured image by bottled_void via their Flickr account obtained using creativecommons.org

Opinion: 5 Pinterest treats to make your Valentine’s Day sweet

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Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and we all know what that means… HEART SHAPED EVERYTHING! Everything is better when it’s in a special holiday themed shape, especially food. Whether you’re single and ready to snack yourself to death on a pink and red smorgasbord with your best pals, or you need to make some special treats for that special someone, the internet is full of thousands of different Valentine’s Day themed foods to make your holiday worthwhile. I’ve scoured the recipe wonderland, aka Pinterest, to find five of the best V-Day treats that would make Cupid himself want to come to your house for dinner.

  1. Cupid Floats
These Cupid Floats are simple and sweet. //Alley Loope
These Cupid Floats are simple and sweet. //Alley Loope

This was perhaps the cutest and easiest Pinterest recipe I’ve found to date. All you need is a couple of cute mugs, two ingredients, and bam! You’ve got yourself the perfect Valentine’s Day drink.

What you’ll need:

  • Cherry soda (I used Cherry 7-Up)
  • Vanilla ice cream (two scoops per float)
  • A mug/cup to put it in

Just put two scoops of vanilla ice cream in each mug, pour in some cherry soda and that’s all there is to it. You can even spice them up by grabbing some pieces of red licorice and cutting off the ends to make homemade straws and adding some whipped cream on top. It’s simple, quick, easy and totally delicious.

Original recipe can be found here.

 

  1. Mini Heart Pizzas
These adorable heart-shaped pizzas will make the perfect Valentine's Day dinner. //Photo by Alley Loope
These adorable heart-shaped pizzas will make the perfect Valentine’s Day dinner. //Photo by Alley Loope

Literally the cutest Valentine’s dinner you could possibly have, and they’re so incredibly easy to make!

You will need:

  • Pizza dough (or a pre-made pizza crust)
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Pizza sauce
  • Any other additional toppings you may want to use
  • A heart-shaped cookie cutter

First off, roll out your pizza dough with a rolling pin, or open up your pre-made pizza crust. Next, use your heart cookie cutter to cut as many mini pizzas out as you can fit.

Lay those out on your pan, then spread as much pizza sauce as you want on each of them. Next comes my personal favorite: the cheese. Sprinkle as much mozzarella cheese as your heart desires (ha heart, get it?), which in my case is practically an entire bag. Then, load your pizzas up with whatever other toppings you want to use. Next, just pop them in the oven at 425 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, and voila! You’ve got yourself a tiny and totally tasty Valentine’s dinner.

Original recipe can be found here.

 

  1. Chocolate Covered Strawberry Hearts
Turn your chocolate-covered strawberries into festive hearts. //Photo by Alley Loope
Turn your chocolate-covered strawberries into festive hearts. //Photo by Alley Loope

These are so cute and totally perfect for Valentine’s because who doesn’t love chocolate covered strawberries? Also, strawberries are fruit, and fruit is healthy, so you can actually call this a healthy snack… right?

What you’ll need:

  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate (white, milk, dark, any kind just as long as it will melt)
  • Toothpicks
  • Wax paper

Start off by washing your strawberries, and then pat them down with a paper towel to remove all of the excess water. Then, pull off the stems and use a knife to cut each strawberry in half. Now, this is where it got kind of tricky for me. Put the two halves of the strawberry together to form a heart shape, and then stick a tooth pick through them to hold the shape as shown in the picture below.

Hopefully your hearts will look much neater than mine. I was forced to buy strawberries from the Walmart on campus, which we all know does not rank so highly on the quality produce scale.

Next, break up your chocolate and stick it in a microwave safe bowl. I always use Almond Bark for my chocolate-melting purposes, but really any kind of chocolate will do. Stick that in the microwave for about a minute, then pull it out and stir it around to make sure it’s all melted. You might need to stick it in for 30 or so more seconds.

Now lay your toothpick-ed strawberries out on a sheet of wax paper to prevent them from sticking once they’re covered in chocolate. Carefully spoon some chocolate over the strawberry hearts, and then gently spread it out as neatly as you can. I found using a butter knife worked really well for this part. Let the chocolate harden just a little bit, and then pull your toothpick out. Wait until your chocolate is fully dry, then your precious strawberry hearts are ready to serve!

Original recipe can be found here.

 

  1. Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
The final product is picture-worthy. //Photo by Alley Loope
The final product is picture-worthy. //Photo by Alley Loope

These are by far my favorite (and most impressive if I do say so myself) Pinterest creations I have ever attempted to bake. They’re so amazing that I even had to arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing picture formation with their own props just so you could see how incredible they are, and realize how much you need these in your life every day, not just on Valentine’s Day.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 box of red velvet cake mix
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of boiling water
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 9X13 baking pan
  • Mixer

To get started, preheat your oven to 350, and then grease your pan. Next, grab a bowl and fill it with the cake mix. IMPORTANT: ignore whatever directions are on the box of cake mix. Just poor the actual mix in the bowl. I came very close to making this mistake, and I know it’s stressful to ignore the directions, but just trust me… and trust Pinterest. Add in one egg, your melted butter and the boiling water, and then beat all of that together until it’s all mixed up. Your batter is going to look completely strange and be super sticky and annoying, but hey, it still tastes good if you want to lick the spoon. Pour the batter into your pan and spread it out nice and even.

Now, for the topping, put the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat it all together until it’s smooth and creamy. Take a spoonful of topping at a time, and drop it on top of the batter in the pan. Try to spread out where you put your drops, but don’t spread it all over the brownies just yet. Place your pan in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Now this is where the real fun starts. Pull the brownies out of the oven, and run a butter knife through the batter to swirl the cream cheese in with the red velvet until your pan looks like this:

Your brownies should look like this. //Photo by Alley Loope
Your brownies should look like this. //Photo by Alley Loope

Then pop them back in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until you see the topping starting to brown, and then let them cool completely before you cut them. These are best if you stick them in the fridge for a while before you eat them. Before that, be sure to take a few Insta pics to show off your new baking skills, because these brownies are prettier than I am and are sure to get you a lot of likes.

Original recipe can be found here.

 

  1. Red Velvet Oreo Hearts
These Oreo hearts are Oreo balls with a holiday twist. //Photo by Alley Loope
These Oreo hearts are Oreo balls with a holiday twist. //Photo by Alley Loope

These are basically a Valentine’s version of the ever-so-classic Oreo balls, which are definitely a holiday fan favorite. They’re super cute, and almost everyone already knows how to make them.

What you’ll need:

  • Red Velvet Oreos (you can use regular Oreos too but these are festive and so SO tasty)
  • 8 ounces of cream cheese
  • White chocolate (I always use Almond Bark)
  • Wax paper
  • Small heart-shaped cookie cutter

Start by crushing up all of your Oreos. The easiest way to do this would be in a blender or a food processor, but for us poor college students who don’t own either one of those, it’s also pretty easy to put them in a bag and crush them up with your hands, or, if you’re feeling super wild, step on them. This could actually be a fun bonding experience for you and your valentine, just hanging out stepping on Oreos, or if you’re just super bitter about V-Day, you can even beat them with a rolling pin to take out your frustrations. It’s like baking and therapy all in one.

After you’ve thoroughly crushed up your pack of Oreos, mix them together with your cream cheese. Then, use a rolling pin (or a long skinny water bottle in my case), and roll the mixture out flat like dough. Stick that in the freezer for about half an hour. Then, use your cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes and stick them in the fridge to harden.

Next, break up your white chocolate and put it in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave it for about a minute, stir it all up to make sure it’s melted, then pull your Oreo hearts out of the fridge.

Dunk each heart in the melted chocolate until it’s covered, and then lay them out on the wax paper so the chocolate can harden. I chose to hold each heart by the corner and leave that part undipped so I would have a little red accent on each one (plus it was really hard to cover the whole heart in chocolate nicely if I didn’t hold them like that, but we’ll go with the aesthetic excuse okay). Stick them in the fridge for a while, and then you’ve got yourself some cute Oreo hearts that everyone will love, or you can just eat all of them yourself, which I totally support.

Original recipe can be found here.

That’s all for now folks! I hope these tasty treats can help brighten up your Valentine’s Day, and the many days that follow it, because obviously everyone knows getting to eat the leftovers is the best part. Happy baking and happy V-Day!

XOXO

Photos by Alley Loope

Edited by Taylor Owens