At Free People, we love LOVE, especially the friendship kind. As Valentine’s Day approaches, we wanted to share some of the biggest love-ships that have blossomed between us.
ARINA, AMANDA, STEPHANIE, MADDIE,
PATRY, IRYNA & ABBIE
“Maybe it’s the lucky number seven, or maybe all our differences are what draw us to each other – our ages range from early 20s to mid 30s. But even after spending every day of the week together, we eagerly schedule beach weekend getaways, happy hours that lead to dance parties, early Saturday morning workouts and get-togethers at one of our homes. We found each other in Building 25. A “hello” in the hallway turned into a conversation in the kitchen, which turned into a year-long text thread full of baby photos and inside jokes. We hold each other up during the hard times and gather together in celebration of the happy times. When I’m asked what I love most about my job, they are the six first things I mention!”
For Valentine’s Day, these seven would go all in for the Stone Cold Fox Tent. Perfect for the next beach weekend!!
SAM & JENNA
“I was working at the Free People store in Soho and Jenna was inParamus (our first store!). We knew of each other through a social media circuit of friendly store girls. I remember seeing her during a shopping trip in Paramus and was like “omg, she’s so cool, there’s @smiithjenna” but never would have introduced myself – ha. When Facebook started making friend recommendations, we were matched (creepy) and became friends there. It was all very loose, we didn’t chat much beyond comments/occasional messages. It wasn’t until she messaged me in early 2018 when she was interested in working at Home Office that we really started to talk and spent out first bits of time together – and from there we, unsurprisingly, really hit it off!”
For Valentine’s Day Sam would gift Jenna the Take Care Cardi because “I have it and she loves it!”
“Our love affair began in Melbourne, Australia in 2013, where we worked together (but on opposite sides of the buying industry) creating one amazing collection! We quickly bonded over our love of fashion, yoga, brunching, flat whites and espresso martinis… We then went on to working side by side for another Melbourne retailer before both making the move to the USA. We’re so glad we have each other through the country/culture and weather changes!!”
“Dom and I have known each other for almost five years. We met back in 2014 at another coworker’s art exhibition. Both fairly new to URBN, we struck up a friendship at work and and outside the office. Our positions at Free People had us working closely together for years. We’re lucky to remain friends until now! She has such an easygoing personality — I consider her the yin to my yang. :)”
Heather’s story: “We have known each other for 3 years but it’s felt like all our lives. I had just moved here from San Francisco and didn’t know many people. She gave me an office tour on my first day and she reminded me so much of my friends back home. I remember thinking, “I’m going to make her my friend.” Kim and I quickly bonded and became instant pals.”
Kim’s: “We have known each other for 3 years and met here @ Free People! I loved Heather’s style and energy (not to mention I really wanted to get to know her dog, Doug). She is sweet, caring, and really values her friendships. She is also extremely talented and an inspiration to me both inside and outside of work. She’s a lifer!”
“We met through a mutual love of buffalo chicken wings and horror films. As a bunch of transplants to Philly, we quickly became best friends and roommates, spending almost too much time together for two years now.”
Kelsey: “For Valentine’s Day, since Katie bought her first big girl house and I’m so superstitious, I’m gifting her the Yarnbomb Lucy Yarn Horseshoe for her front door!”
Alston: ” Kelsey is always down for a face mask party. For Valentine’s Day I am going to get her a new mask for her collection.”
“We have been friends for 7 years 4 months 30 days 3 hours and 6 minutes (but who’s counting?). We met the first day of college, and have lived together ever since! We were brought together by our silly humor and love for junk food. When we aren’t at work we love to go thrifting, eat at our favorite places, and watch reality TV. Our superpower is living together, working right next to each other, and never ever getting sick of each other.”
“Katelyn and I met last summer when she started on the graphic design team with me. We immediately hit it off at work (realizing we were both complete and utter weirdos) and shortly after I started kidnapping her every day after work to come over and hang out with me (no literally…I wouldn’t let her go home.) Fast forward over a year later and she’s now BFFs with my doormen, she has her own set of pajamas at my apt, we speak to each other 95% of the time in Vine references, we own the same matching necklaces (I copied her to be fair) and she’s one of the best friends I’ve ever had <3 “
Callie: “For V-Day I would gift Katelyn the Beachcomber Slide Bracelet. She gave it to me for Christmas this year and since we already have matching necklaces, why not just add to the collection!”
Katelyn: “I would get Callie the Kocostar Slice Sheet Mask (in Lemon!) because we love trying new beauty products and having cozy movie nights in. I would also get the Skin Gym Crystal Facial Roller because we were recently on a flight together and she borrowed mine & loved it!!”
SHARE YOUR OWN BFF STORY HERE!
All you need to do is write a short and sweet story about your friendship:
How long ago did you meet? What brought you together? What do you love most about your BFF?
Include a photo of you and your BFF/s (preferably horizontal in format, and minimum pixel width of 800), and choose an item from our site that you’d love to gift each other for Valentine’s Day. Send your write-up and pictures to email@example.com and write “BFF Story” in the subject line! Deadline is February 1st. Open to residents of the US only.
FIVE OF YOU WILL BE SELECTED AND FEATURED IN THE NEXT FP BFF STORIES POST AND WIN A FREE PEOPLE GIFT CARD !
What does this week’s lunar eclipse mean for you? Follow @astrotherapist on Twitter and email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a reading over phone or Skype. Available in-person in NYC!
January 20–February 18
The week starts off with a Mars-Saturn dustup that can make you your own worst enemy when it comes to standing up for what you think. Private doubts and fears can undercut your assertiveness, and even if you’re the one getting in your way, you might feel irritable. That’s bound to come across in conversations, so take your emotional temperature before you wind up in a testy debate. Thankfully, Mars vibes with Jupiter in your humanity zone late in the week, bringing tons of luck to networking and other group communication and activities. Whether you want to make new friends or rally the troops, take the lead and your initiative should pay off. Venus is also vibing with Jupiter this week, which bodes well for your social life! You could travel with your crew, enjoy an epic GNO or meet a wide variety of people when you go out. “The more the merrier” is definitely your motto now. And you won’t be a quiet bystander after Mercury arrives in Aquarius, giving you the gift of gab! Not only can you express your POV well, but you could also make a few personal decisions in the next couple of weeks.
February 19–March 20
You can’t expect others to cosign when you act in your own best interests early in the week. Take-charge Mars in your worth house has a standoff with stalwart Saturn in your people sector, so if you push, you’ll only hit a brick wall — especially where money, possessions and other resources are concerned. Your instinct now is to do what’s necessary to secure what you need, but if you need the stamp of approval from a group, you better make sure you’ve covered all your bases. Late in the week, Mars schmoozes Jupiter in your ambition angle, and that’s when you’re more likely to hit pay dirt. Lobby for a promotion and raise or put your talents to excellent use and watch the praise roll in. With the right strategic move, you can make major headway in your career during this transit. And since Venus is also sidling up to Jupiter, you may have a chance to charm the socks off a bigwig or make a positive impression on a bigger stage than you’re used to. After Mercury ducks into your retreat corner, you’ll be keeping your own counsel for a couple of weeks and might want alone time to do some thinking.
March 21–April 19
A spat between Mars in Aries and Saturn in your authority angle at the beginning of the week reminds you that you can’t fight city hall, so don’t try to buck the system. Do your best to play by the rules. Then translate any pushback from higher-ups (like a boss or parent) into parameters that guide your actions instead of feeling shot down and throwing in the towel. Lucky for you, your ruling planet clicks with Jupiter in your exploration corner later in the week, and this time you won’t hit a roadblock; in fact, you’ll hit the fast lane. It’s like whatever you do, the universe is egging you on to go for it. This is the perfect chance to take a smart risk that will allow you to learn and grow. Your initiative and optimism is going to carry you into your future, with the wind at your back. Venus is also in cahoots with Jupiter, pointing to a romantic getaway or fun trip—or an extra gratifying encounter with something or someone new! Your comfort zone is not your happy place now, so stay miles away from it and sample totally unfamiliar pleasures for maximum enjoyment.
April 20–May 20
A Mars-Saturn showdown early in the week can cause you to run up against the limits of what you know. You may have slipped into an old behavior pattern without realizing it and are about to be made aware of what you’re doing wrong. You’re not getting much credit for what you’re doing while Mars is tucked away at the end of your chart—and now it may suddenly feel like the game is rigged against you. A few days later, Mars syncs with Jupiter, though, playing up the benefits of partnering with someone else in order to increase your odds of success. A person you trust might lend their wisdom and cheer you on or pitch in to further your efforts. If you’re flying solo, facing your fears or confronting another psychological challenge will teach you something about yourself and fortify your inner reserves. And both private emotional processing and physical intimacy can be a revelation. Your ruling planet’s get-together with Jupiter doubles down on those themes of powerful closeness and self-acceptance. You’re brave enough to let someone get up close and personal and to embrace your own imperfections. Plus you could have a stroke of luck securing financial support!
May 21–June 20
Teamwork could be a challenge as the week gets underway and doer Mars in your network zone squares off with stingy Saturn. You might be motivated to collaborate but run into trouble when someone refuses to hold up their end of the bargain. Try not to put too much emphasis on what you’re not getting and who’s not delivering. Maybe one person hasn’t gotten the memo that you’re all equal players. This might be your cue to slow your roll and be more selective about whom you partner with. Later in the week when Mars gets into a much better flow with Jupiter, the floodgates open and people will act like helpers, not haters. Keep trying to work together — because there’s power in numbers! Networking could pay off in the form of a useful contact or savvy mentor, and you’re bound to learn something from your cohorts if you stick with being a team player. And if you spot an opportunity to help others out, jump right in. Your ruling planet’s arrival in your expansion corner means you’ll soon be looking at life through a wide-angle lens. Curiosity combines with wanderlust, opening up fresh possibilities to explore.
June 21–July 22
Your ambition is in overdrive, thanks to Mars blazing a trail through your achievement angle, but when he reaches a stalemate with Saturn in your interpersonal house at the start of the week, someone could put up a stop sign. Resist the urge to keep going full speed ahead, and take negative feedback under advisement. A killjoy could be a blessing in disguise, since constructive criticism will sharpen your strategy. And it could be that you need to toggle between chasing goals and meeting personal obligations for a day. Later in the week, Mars meshes with Jupiter in your efficiency corner, suggesting that your willingness to work hard and serve a useful purpose will help you rise in the ranks. So keep approaching goals with a positive attitude and be open to helping out colleagues — or welcoming their assistance. Venus and Jupiter have their own rendezvous in your efficiency corner, so you won’t have any trouble getting along with coworkers and could have plenty of fun accomplishing tasks and doing something healthy like working out. Plus you might do a big favor for someone — or flirt boldly with a person in your everyday world, like an officemate.
July 23–August 22
On the heels of the lunar eclipse in Leo, Mars and Saturn get into a skirmish that could stop you in your tracks. You’re all ready to take a leap of faith, and then the taskmaster planet steps in to say, “Not so fast!” That might not be such a bad thing, since doing your homework will, at the very least, ensure you’re taking calculated risks. None of this leap-and-the-net-will-appear sunniness where Saturn is concerned! First prepare for this adventure — or venture. And if you’re defending your beliefs and principles or fighting for a cause, have plenty of facts on hand that will back you up. Mars plays nice with Jupiter later in the week, sending a totally different message. Now you’re free to follow your heart and do what makes you happy. If the spirit moves you, be a passionate activist, pursue your creative vision or hook up with someone who’s a real change of pace for you. A Venus-Jupiter encounter reinforces this message and may put an even more romantic or artistic spin on it. With the planet of largesse weighing in, you have permission to enjoy more of what puts a smile on your face!
August 23–September 22
As the week begins, Mars is locked in a standoff with Saturn, which could set up a push-pull in a close relationship. Maybe one person is ready to dive deep into intimacy, while the other wants to wait and see. Or one part of you is ultra focused on a passion project, emotional issue or love interest, and another part isn’t sure about putting all your eggs in one basket like that. Should you go all in or keep something in reserve? This might be a good time to remind yourself that you’re your own worst critic. You have so much to contribute, and whatever test you’re facing will empower you to understand yourself better and get out of your own way. Venus and Mars are both harmonizing with Jupiter at the base of your chart, which should mute your worries and spark an upswing in confidence. You’ll be able to get the support you need and will have the courage to get closer to someone — or to confront something within yourself and get more comfortable in your own skin. You also might host a big bash or overindulge in simple pleasures like sweets and binge-watching.
September 23–October 22
Private insecurity, domestic duties or family obligations can get in the way of partnership early in the week when Mars runs into trouble with Saturn. And unfortunately, it’s quite possible that emotional baggage and old patterns will make it hard to fight fair. Resist the tendency to get defensive. Try to delineate the part you play in an interpersonal dynamic so you can take back whatever you’re projecting onto others and own it. It helps if you can stop having to think of yourself as nice for a minute and accept that we’re all a potpourri of qualities. Venus and Mars have conferences scheduled with Jupiter after you get over Monday’s hurdle, so a positive attitude, an open mind and honest communication are sure to save the week. If you’re in the middle of a conflict, you’ll find you can patch things up pretty easily when you’re coming from a place of respect and seeking mutual understanding. Plus you’ll have no problem seeing the good in people, lightening the tone, letting beauty brighten your mood and showing others you care. You’re likely to cross paths with plenty of new faces, and a pleasant encounter might turn out to be a significant meet-cute!
October 23–November 21
Work smarter, not harder early in the week when Mars in your efficiency corner bumps into Saturn, causing you to find fault with what you’re doing. It makes sense to refine your approach, but don’t get stuck in analysis paralysis. The point is to keep going on a more focused track, not to talk yourself out of actions altogether. You can combine Uranian ingenuity and Saturnian know-how to cross lots off your list now. The danger is that you’ll fly off on a tangent or bring things to a screeching halt — so find the middle ground. Try not to take critical jabs at people or stress yourself out (exercise is an amazing de-stressor!) Venus and Mars are both making music with Jupiter in your worth zone, implying that keeping your nose to the grindstone can do wonders for your finances and your self-esteem. Make great use of your full stash of talents and skills, and you can’t go wrong. If you get carried away coveting stuff, the urge to splurge won’t be easy to rein in, thanks to too-much-is-never-enough Jupiter. So check the return policy if money’s tight — or have fun curating a wish list instead of filling a cart.
November 22–December 21
You’re fired up to chase after what you want while Mars treks through your fulfillment house, but his run-in with Saturn at the start of the week indicates practical concerns can compel you to pull back on the throttle. You may not have the funds (or other resources) to do exactly as you please and will need to adapt to whatever reality you’re faced with. Or perhaps you’re not feeling confident enough to follow through on a risk you were poised to take. Don’t put too much on the line when the moment doesn’t feel right. Venus mingles with Jupiter in Sagittarius the next day, sending your charisma and luck soaring. Your worst problem might be narrowing down your options when you’re effortlessly drawing in whatever — and whomever — you desire. You’re not about to prejudge a potential pleasure now! Mars melds with your ruling planet late in the week, clearing any obstacles in your path and revving you up to take a chance that will lead to growth. Follow your heart and make a bold romantic or creative move. If it makes you happy and excited, this is about the best dice roll you can get, so go for it!
December 22–January 19
As the week begins, you could have trouble getting out of your own way, due to a fight between Mars in your foundation angle and Saturn in Capricorn. If you’re feeling prickly, getting out of a bad mood will be no small feat. That’s because your motivations are mostly unconscious and your ruling planet isn’t big on sifting through emotions. Chances are you’re slipping into an old pattern — and fear, pessimism or a related symptom is making it worse. Don’t let a family member push your buttons. Set boundaries and spend your energy pulling yourself together, however that looks for you. You might, for instance, get busy cleaning the house and organizing your to-do list. A Venus-Jupiter rendezvous occurs soon after (phew!), increasing your inner sense of wellbeing. You’d benefit from unplugging and chilling solo or with someone you can truly unwind with. Mars links with Jupiter a few days later, making it infinitely easier for you to move past whatever’s been bothering you. You might join forces with a relative or roomie on a domestic project or humanitarian endeavor. Bonus: Your parents and people you live with will be a lot more supportive now, so let others do for you!
Follow @astrotherapist on Twitter and email email@example.com to schedule a reading over phone, FaceTime or Skype. Available in-person in NYC! $125 for 60 minutes, $150 for 90 minutes.
When you have cancer, what matters isn’t strength or courage so much as resilience. Keep going. Stay alive.
The first post in a series about life’s obstacles and the strength to overcome them. From first-time FP contributor and major inspiration, Deanna Pai.
The first time I was diagnosed with cancer, it felt like a camera flash had gone off in my otherwise dimly-lit world. Before I knew it, a surgeon had removed the tumor from my liver, and I was sent on my way to navigate the aftereffects — constant scans, a huge scar, and the realization that I, a 23-year-old assistant at a magazine, had had cancer — alone.
The second time I was diagnosed with cancer, I was terrified. It was my worst fear realized: Because there’s no real prognosis for the very rare liver cancer I’d had, no one knew whether or not it would return. And it did. It was like my liver couldn’t pull itself together. I didn’t want chemo. (I got it.) I didn’t want to lose my hair. (I did.) I didn’t want to be in my own body. (Too bad.)
The third time I was diagnosed with cancer, which somehow managed to rise from the dead after several months of remission, I replied, “Okay, then” to my doctor on the phone, cried a little, and went back to watching Cheers reruns on Netflix. Really, nothing equips you for handling a cancer diagnosis quite like receiving one every year for three years straight. If my doctor told me that I had cancer again, I’d just sip my coffee and shrug.
When people find out you have cancer, they try to encourage you with dumb platitudes. “Stay strong” was a common one. “You’re so brave” was another. (The only thing I really wanted to hear was, “You’re cured and also won the lottery.”) And while these are trite, I think there’s a grain of truth to them. What people are trying to offer isn’t really strength or courage so much as resilience. Like, keep going. Stay alive.
I was not born resilient. (Ask anyone who saw me after my high school boyfriend dumped me the day after prom). And I didn’t just become resilient after my first appointment with my oncologist. You don’t learn how to pick yourself up when there’s nothing to steamroll you in the first place. Even my initial diagnosis didn’t change me that much: My boss still scared me; my boyfriend and I fought; and I still got shaky when I had to slide into an MRI machine for check-ups.
The second time around was harder, since chemotherapy comes with so many demands on the body. I had to freeze my eggs (as the drugs affect fertility), a process that involved me, a crybaby needle-phobe, giving myself shots in the thigh. My hair came out in clumps in the shower. My hearing became so sensitive that I had to leave my office’s holiday party early, because the chatter hurt.
I was forced to figure out how to wake up in the morning and face all of these things that I did not want to do. What else was I going to do? That question followed me everywhere, and I knew the answer: Nothing. I had no other options. I had to get out of my warm, cozy bed while it was still dark outside to go to chemo. I had to answer work emails while getting a third blood transfusion. I had to put the needle in my own damn leg.
The last time I had cancer (knock on wood) I had no choice but to get a liver transplant. “Maybe it’ll give me superpowers, like a comic-book mutant,” I joked with my donor and oldest cousin, Nick. And it came true, in a way. Once I had my new liver — okay, half of Nick’s — and was declared cancer-free, I felt different, almost in awe of myself. I can do anything now. I am so much more capable than I thought.
It’s been two and a half years since then. I’m not some calm, swaggering hero without weakness. Please, I could probably use quality time with a good therapist. But I know myself so well. I know how to put myself back together if I need to. And I know that I can handle anything that comes my way. (Were I to have a personal mantra, it would be, “If it’s not cancer, I don’t care.”) And sure, while I’d swap this for a healthy, pristine body with my own liver in a heartbeat — obviously — I can still recognize a silver lining when I see it. And that makes all the difference.
Learning how to MAKE pickles is the best kind of pickle you can get yourself into… our recipe for crisp, good-for-you pickles here!
Yesterday we shared with you some of the amazing benefits of fermentation. And as promised, we’re continuing the conversation with one of two fermented food recipes. Today we’re talking PICKLES.
Before beginning any batch, keep in mind that cleanliness throughout the fermentation process is very important. Hot water and mild soap is sufficient for cleaning your jars and measuring tools, but ensure that they are rinsed completely. Soap residue can inhibit the growth of the beneficial bacteria that you are trying to manifest. (This process is different then “canning” when you are pasteurizing and killing all of the beneficial bacteria that naturally occurs on vegetables. In that process it is important to completely sterilize jars.)
An equally important consideration when making your own fermented foods? HAVE FUN! Your only assurance should be utilizing the correct ratio of salt in your ferment. Feel free to experiment with different vegetable and spice combinations as you grow more comfortable. Our friend and local chef Greg Glowatz generally ferments at a percentage of 2.5% Celtic sea salt. Using a digital kitchen scale with a kg setting (he finds it much easier to make the calculations in grams and kilos than in pounds and ounces), simply weigh your prepped vegetables in grams (minus the weight of your jar) and then multiply that by .025 to find how many grams of salt you should add to your mix.
Half gallon glass fermentation jars are my preferred vessel for making pickles — they are the perfect height to create both attractive and functional cucumber arrangements. NOTE: Easy for snacking! You will also need
Glass fermentation weights.
You will need a large mixing bowl to soak the cucumbers in icy cold water.
You will also need a knife and cutting board to quarter the cucumbers into spears (or your preferred shape). A digital scale that weighs up to 5 kg is needed to calculate the proper salt content to the recipe/formula.
You may want to use some measuring spoons to add your spices, at least to start.
Organic pickling cucumbers (Kirby Cucumbers are my preference)
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp white peppercorns
3 or 4 juniper berries
5 bay leaves if fresh
7 garlic cloves
First soak cucumbers for 30 minutes in ice cold water to revive their crispiness. Next, cut all of the cucumbers in spears. Here’s where you’ll need your digital scale. Place the empty half gallon fermentation jar on the scale set to kilograms/grams. Once the weight registers, press 0. This will take the weight of the jar out of your equation. Next, fill the jar with your ingredients.
Lay the jar on its side when adding the cucumber spears and other ingredients, as it makes allows the vertical packing nice and snug. Add spices a few at a time with cucumbers to insure even dispersal. To calculate the amount of Celtic sea salt you’ll need, place the filled jar back on the scale (with the weight of the jar subtracted from the equation). Next, pour in enough filtered water to cover the cucumbers. This will give you the total weight of all your ingredients, including the water. Take this number (which in Greg’s case was 1700 grams) and multiply by .025, which will give you your desired salinity of 2.5%. In this case, the salt needed was 42.5 grams, but this number will be dependent on the size of your jar and weight of your ingredients.
Finally, add the salt, a few cabbage leaves and a glass weight on top. This will keep the pickles safely below your brine and out of oxygen’s way. Top tightly with lid and gently turn jar several times to dissolve salt evenly. Then, loosen lid and place jar on a plate in a dark corner of your kitchen. Leave at room temperature for 3-5 days depending on how sour you like your pickles (the sourer you like, the later they should sit). Continue to mature the pickles in your refrigerator after the 3-5 day fermentation. Greg finds they are tastiest after a week in the fridge, if your willpower is that strong!
Stay tuned next week when we bring you Greg’s unique and delicious recipe for sauerkraut!