SAD sucks, so here’s what to do about it

Fall means changing leaves, warm apple cider, and the beginnings of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Seasonal Depression isn’t just an excuse people make so they can go curl up in a fuzzy blanket and do nothing–it’s real, and it sucks. Less daylight, cold temps, and general dreariness makes for the perfect combination. But dealing with SAD doesn’t have to be totally sad.

These may not be total remedies, but maybe they’ll help you understand what’s going on and cope momentarily.

Sun Lamp

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Light boxes and lamps that mimic the suns rays may just improve your mood, says multiple medical sources. They help improve circadian rhythms and get rid of winter blahs. Of course, they’re no replacement for therapy, but for less than $40, they may be just enough to lift your spirits.

Good books

Looking at a screen for too long makes me crabby every day of the year, so taking a break and opting for a book might allow you to feel more whole. Hyperbole and a Half is a fun read, filled with comics of one girl’s struggles with daily life. Some pages really do hit home in terms of mental illness. The Little Book of Hygge talks all about Denmark’s pride and joy that is happy living. It’s filled with DIYs, recipes, and small life changes you can make to have a more warm, cozy, hygge life.

Essential Oil Diffuser

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Did you know smell is the sense most linked to memories? So I guess that could mean good or bad memories. But, smell is also linked to a highly emotional part of the brain, so an essential oil diffuser may be a relatively cheap and easy way to change your emotions. Essential oils like lavender and chamomile are known for being the most helpful for depression.

Take a walk

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Getting outside of where you currently are, be it your home, your car, your workplace, may be just what you need for your funk to momentarily subside. Take a five, ten, fifteen minute walk around your neighborhood, or even the parking lot, focusing on what you see, what you hear, and how you’re breathing. Too cold? Walk up and down a couple flights of stairs in your house, apartment, or work building, counting the steps. Once you reach 10, start again at 1.


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The idea of meditating turned me off at first because I only associated it with yogis who had white people dreds. But mediation can really be for everyone. The app Headspace makes it easy.  You get a free 10-session trial, and every session is just 10 minutes. It’s made for people on the go, and it’s narrated by a man with an Australian accent who assumes you’re sitting at your desk at work. So it’s accessible and doesn’t take much effort to buy into the whole idea. It’s nice to take 10 minutes to press reset on your current state.

Of course, none of these are replacements for professional help. Professional counseling and therapy are probably the best options for managing depression and/or mental health. If you or someone you know is in serious danger, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (U.S. only).



We gotta taco bout this! [where to get a good taco in the ‘burgh]

Pittsburgh is getting on people’s radar (yay!) for being named one of the country’s most livable cities year after year. Cost of living is relatively cheap, the city is relatively safe and clean, and there are more and more just fun things to do.

And, hello? What’s more fun than getting some tacos?

The Latinx population in Pittsburgh is only growing, and with it, a number of great authentic taco stops. Here are 5 places in (and slightly outside of) the city to get a great taco.

1. Las Palmas Carniceria

Las Palmas is my personal favorite. The Mexican grocery store is located in Brookline, just a 10 minute T-ride outside of the city. Right outside of the grocery store sits a couple of carts and a cooktop. Get your $2 tacos made-to-order, and choose from a variety of meats: carnitas, chorizo, and sometimes lengua (aka cow tongue). Their other store in Oakland is set up the same way. Two locations means no excuse not to check it out!

2. täkō

This restaurant downtown offers a pretty upscale taco experience. The Baja fish tacos are a favorite, as are the Korean tacos. The place gets four and a half stars on Yelp, but you pay $7 for a taco.

3. Edgar’s Taco Stand

If you’re like me, you knew there was a taco stand outside Reyna’s in the Strip District, but you never knew it was called Edgar’s. Well, now you know! It became so popular that they now have a food truck. Cheap, delicious street tacos, a Mexican Coke (aka made with sugar, not HFCS), and a walk around the Strip? Sounds like the perfect lunch break.

4.  Tres Rios

Venture over to the South Side and before you hit up the Milkshake Factory (because I know you will), head to Tres Rios, a hip Tex-Mex joint. There tacos sound like pretty standard, American Fare: “beef tacos,” “chicken tacos,” “fish tacos,” are all on the menu, but they also offer duck and pork belly tacos. And if you, dare I say, get something other than tacos *gasp* try the yucca fries.

5. Taco Diablo

In the South Hills of Pittsburgh, a new taco joint just opened on Beverly Road. Taco Diablo is basically a hallway that used to be part of the beloved Iovino Deli. Now it’s a taco truck minus the truck. Their small menu and fresh ingredients make for some unbelievably flavorful tacos. You don’t expect that in the WASP-y burbs, do you?

Check out the places above on this map. Note that Taco Diablo is so new, it’s not listed yet. But it’s right next-door to the IO Deli.

Get away: Reykjavik, Iceland

I live in Pittsburgh, and the thing that was all the talk over the summer was how our airport was going to be bringing WOW Airlines to Pittsburgh. The budget airline is known for cheap flights to major domestic and international cities, the most exciting one in my opinion being Reykjavik.

The bustling yet cozy capital of Iceland has experienced a boom in tourism in the past few years. The country has dedicated much of its resources to attracting tourists, and how they do so is with cheap airline tickets and free long stay overs.

So what’s the attraction? Reykjavik offers a Scandinavian feel, with colorful houses, cobblestone streets, and well-designed storefronts that draw in any passer-by. The rest of the country is sparsely populated but hosts some of the world’s most incredible waterfalls, hot springs, and glaciers.  Ever seen Journey to the Center of the Earth? That was shot in Iceland. Oh, and Icelanders speak Icelandic, but they all speak English, too. As my tour guide said, only a handful of people in the world speak Icelandic, so naturally, everyone learns English.

Essentially, the small island (where the country gets its name–it was just us dumb Americans who poorly translated “Ísland” to “Iceland”) has a unique combination of sights for every type of adventurer.

Here are 10 things to do in Iceland:

1. Visit Hallgrímskirkja, Iceland’s most famous church. Pay $10 to take the elevator to the top (so easy!) to get a great 360 view of Reykjavik and its colorful houses.



2. Get coffee and a pastry from Brauð & Co. It’s a hard spot to miss–colorful graffiti covers the exterior and the smell of fresh bread reels in every pedestrian.



3. Skip the Blue Lagoon and visit the “Secret hot spring” instead. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to some mystical elfin land.



4. Take a tour of Reykjavik. I highly recommend the tours offered by I Heart Reykjavik. The four Icelanders who run the blog also offer tours. Or, do a self-guided tour. Try and find ten murals on the side of buildings you can! It won’t take long.


5. Venture out into the countryside to the Þingvellir National Park. This is the spot where the world’s first parliament was held.



6. Not too far from the national park is the Geyser hot spring. This tourist attraction is famous for the “most reliable” geyser in the country. Watch the bubbling spring for five minutes and you’ll see it erupt.

Water Hot Spring Iceland Blue Geyser


7. If you’re really looking for an adventure, do a glacier tour. It’ll require some gear and a hefty amount of cash, but if you’re a thrill-seeker who loves the cold and exploring ice caves, it’ll be right up your alley.

vatnajökull glacier


8. Ice caves sound too much? Take a quick walk down to the shore in Reykjavik and see the Sun Voyager sculpture. It’s hard to miss. You can get a great view of the mountains, and at sunset, it’s an especially great photo op.



9. Iceland can be expensive, but reasonably-priced souvenirs are easy to come by at Flying Tiger. This target-dollar-section-meets-party-supply-store shop is Danish but has many European locations, and one is right in Reykjavik. It’s hard to resist the bright colors and Scandinavian modern packaging. Check out the candy section for an array of Icelandic treats, and black licorice in every shape you could imagine.



10. Ok, for those who have looked into visiting Iceland before, you’re probably surprised I haven’t mentioned the hot dogs yet. So yeah, get yourself an overpriced hot dog. Unless you’re a vegetarian. Cause these dogs are lamb dogs, topped with mayonnaise, dark mustard, and some sort of other kind of gravy thing. I’m still not entirely sure. They’re not to everyone’s liking, but they’re just about as Icelandic as you can get.


Check out these websites for more on Iceland and what do do there:

Visit Reykjavik 

I Heart Reykjavik Blog

Golden Circle Tour

Glacier Guides







5 Back to College Essentials (that aren’t really that essential but will make your life so much better, cooler, etc.)

Every other article on every other website at this point in time is about back to school. So you’ve seen the five subject notebook, command hook, acrylic makeup organizer list already. Here are 5 things that maybe aren’t shoved in your pile of stuff to take to school currently sitting sadly in the basement. Just me?

  1. Pillow Mist / Essential Oils


Nothing’s worse than a dingy dorm room. Even if that Febreeze disinfects, it smells like, well, Febreeze. A nice smelling pillow mist or essential oil makes a difference when it comes to feeling at home. I love the stress relief spray from Bath and Body Works–it’s eucalyptus spearmint and I spray it a couple-a times on my pillow before bed and suddenly I’m not in a damp basement dorm room. Geez why so much talk about basements? Oh, and plus, scent is the number one sense linked to memory–so now every time I smell this stuff I think of being calm and un-stressed before bed.


2. EL Wire

Everyone has string lights hanging above their bed. But do they have neon lights? This cactus neon light is all the rage at Urban Outfitters, but $100+ for it is a little steep. Make your own with EL wire! It’s about $12 on Amazon for 9ft, and glued on to sturdy wire, you can shape it into whatever you want. Or, skip the wire and hang it in a cool pattern using command hooks (or nails, if you’re allowed to do that) right on the wall. I’M ALL ABOUT THE TRENDS, PEOPLE.


3. Cleanser/Mask that feels like heaven

Once again, college can be far from luxurious. When you wake up at 11am on a Saturday morning feeling like you’ve been hit by a bus, or when you finally get back to your dorm room at midnight after finishing a paper by its 11:59pm deadline, you need a lil’ somethin-somethin to make you feel like a human again. For me, it’s a face mask by the brand Skyn. Got a sample in my Ipsy Glam Bag (#notasponsor) and I was hooked. It’s just fragrant enough to feel luxurious but not too overpowering. It’s not exfoliating, but it lathers up with a bit of water. And it reminds me of the fun I had in Iceland over the summer. So basically it’s great. I’m also a fan of Soap and Glory’s Vitamin C facial wash.


4. Eye Mask


I’ve gone as far as to tie a bandana around my head to get in that mid-day 20-minute power nap. It works, but Eye Masks are actually made for that purpose. And they’re only like $8 on Amazon. Luckily, none of my roommates have ever been up all night with the light on. But these are necessary for those nights, too.


5. Cooling Face Primer

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Most dorms are not air conditioned. And maybe the dorms are only really unbearably hot for three, four weeks out of the school year. But those weeks are HELL. Cooling face primers, like the Cooling Water by Milk Makeup, will make you feel a little less sweltering. This one is versatile, too, it’s not just to wake up your eyes, but putting it on pressure points, like by your ears or on your wrists, make a huge difference.



If I’ve learned one thing from visiting Reykjavik, Iceland, it’s that they have nailed the packaging/visual appeal.

Two stores in particular, neither a fashion house, I found to have an incredible eye for visual marketing.

First, Flying Tiger, a brand originally from Copenhagen.


The store capitalizes on color. The display shelves, walls, and checkout areas are completely white, so the products they sell stand out for being so colorful. The whimsical sketches on packets of seeds, candles organized by color, and display of rainbow kitchenware really catch the consumer’s eye. Even if you know you don’t need it, suddenly, you do.

The other store that nails visual merchandising is Hrim, an Icelandic homewares store.


The storefront is eclectic and Scandi, and inside is even more whimsical. The natural wood, stripes, bright colors, and geometric shapes combine to create a building that no passer-by will forget. The Smeg kitchenware, the rustic wooden cutting boards, the fun patterned salad bowls, and the macrame wall hangings are all sold in the same corner, though they all clearly give off different vibes. Together, the mix is visually appealing and balanced, and the consumer realizes that once again, they want one of everything.

THINKING LIKE A DESIGNER: Collection Inspiration

This activity, an “inspiration explosion,” got me thinking of the kind of things that inspire me. Here’s a collection I came up with:


As you can see, this collection of items includes different colors and materials but creates a unified vision. The artwork, pieces from Iceland and Switzerland, remind me of my travels and the whimsy that is necessary to go through life. The plants, one potted in a tin mug from Costa Rica, bring in a natural element that is life itself. The framed Martha Stewart tweet (I know, right), brings forth a quality that’s really important to me–not taking myself too seriously. These items, their colors, their eccentricities, create a vibe that I’d love to reflect in my own designs.


Though my social media sites don’t have huge followings, I do post for an intended audience. That audience mainly involves family and friends. Some sites, like VSCO and Tumblr, are a bit more free and not as curated. I think this is because these sites focus on the visual more than the social.

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My Instagram, at a glance. @elliedepastino

If I were to open an online or brick and mortar storefront, I would need to spend a lot of time thinking about my intended audience. I think for the most part, my audience would include friends and family at first, and then would expand to local people they knew. The audience would depend on where I was located. If I had a physical storefront, I would most likely have more of a local following. If it were online, my customers could come from anywhere.


For this course, the item I produced was a pair of coral tassel earrings.

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Below, you’ll see my production costs and calculations.

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All in all, I’ve learned that if I were to produce these handmade earrings on a large scale, the process would become easier and more challenging for various reasons. I would become more used to creating tassels, and the process of actually creating them would become easier. However, if my clientele grew, I would have to produce more, so that would lead to more stress that way.

This lesson allowed me to see how companies and individuals set price points and where they originate.

My latest style inspo:

Not only did no one tell me life was gonna be this way *clap clap clap clap,* but no one told me that the outfits that Monica Geller, Phoebe Buffay, and Rachel Green were going to be in again.

But alas, walk into an Urban Outfitters, Brandy Melville, or Reformation (do they even have brick-and-mortar stores? Idk, too expensive for me) and you’ll be bombarded with styles that make you feel like you’ve stepped into that kitchy NYC apartment that not even those six characters together could have realistically paid for with the jobs they had.

What I’m saying is that the Nineties are attacking fast fashion. I don’t know if I’m all about the velour tracksuits, but I do love a good high waist, cutoff jean. And yes, I’ll admit it, there are some full on ensembles that Rach, Mon, and Phoebes wore that I’d totally steal. Oh, and scroll to the bottom to see my favorite look of all.



Cooperative Straight Neck Gingham Dress, $59, Urban Outfitters. Rachel in her black and white gingham mini dress, probably miffed about something someone at Central Perk said about her poor waitressing skills.



Monica peers around a corner (probably judging someone) in her worn in high waisted jeans and red tank. Wedgie Fit Jeans in Kiss Off, $98, Levis. Tali Tank, $15, Brandy Melville.



Contemporary Maxi Skort Romper, $24.90, Forever 21. Phoebe sits on the arm of a couch in her zany maxi dress, probably laughing at a dumb joke that everyone stopped laughing at minutes ago. We love you, Phoebes.




To be honest, I have no idea what is going on in this picture, except for the fact that Phoebe has her hand on Rachel’s head. It’s a look, though. Lettuce edge top, $6.90, Forever 21. Smocked Drawstring Pants, $15.90, Forever 21.



Monica tells Chandler off about something. Probably. Oversized shirt, $35.90, Zara.




I mean really. She’s a style icon. Turns out you can buy the shirt here. But the yellow turtleneck may be harder to find. And the milkmaid braids…yeah good luck.

xo ellsworth