Was the Haul Worth It? An Investigative Series into Fast Fashion, Part One

By: Sofia Marquez

Have you ever heard of Shein, Romwe, or Aliexpress? Chances are you’ve seen a video or two of teenagers emptying out large boxes full of bags with a big Shein label on them. You may hear that one really annoying computer-like voiceover saying “$700 Shein Haul” or “I bought 60 items for only $250!”. 

Well, those are {insert brand name here} hauls. 

Sometimes, you’re paid to post a try-on video about your clothes, or you are just flexing how you are able to buy a new shirt every time a *micro trend* pops up. But was it worth it? Let’s take a look at the true cost of your clothing haul. What other problems are packed tightly in those Shein bags?

Micro Trends
The trend cycle, where every 20 years fashion repeats itself, or when a runway designer brings something new to their “spring collection”, which then filters down to department store versions. That was how it used to be. But now, with social media platforms and brands pumping out new designs every day, you can get the new trend affordably and quickly. \

According to Nssmag.com, “The Chinese multinational has conquered the very young western clientele thanks to a very careful marketing strategy and the possibility of offering models very similar to those that become trendy on social networks as soon as they become popular.”  This shows how instead of taking months for average stores to have clothing similar to what you see your favorite celebrities wearing, you can get the dress or pants the next day. 

In the past couple of decades, trends last a few years, maybe at a minimum a year or two. But now, the average trends last at most a season or two, but most likely, those boots you just bought will only be trendy for a month or two more.                

Goodonyou.com magazine writes “Faster production, exploitative manufacturing processes, and plastic clothing are needed to keep up with the demand that micro trends create.” TikTok influencers, who are wealthy people, are able to buy new clothes regularly. They will start a new fad every week, and because of their large following, people will want to buy those things. But, because there are so many influencers who are influencing so many people, this leads to our next problem…Stay tuned to hear about overconsumption!

The Origins of Superstitions

By: Karlee Montgomery

Friday the 13th has a bad reputation. Most people say it’s the day for the abnormal and most hated man: The Devil. In reality, it’s really not all that. Most people don’t even know the real back story, so let’s simplify a few things that people fear just because they’re different.

 Not all witches are mean and evil; most are just really misunderstood. Back in the old days, if people thought you were a witch you’d get burned alive, or many other harsh things they thought were completely normal. Other times they made people do harsh and very brutal tests and challenges to see if they were witches. If they didn’t pass, they were beaten and brutally killed. 

I know how most people think that black cats are the pets of witches and “the cat from hell”, and most people believed if you crossed paths with a black cat it was a sign and you were cursed until death. But in reality, it’s also good luck too! 

Last but not least, the devil himself, the man people hate for being different but most people don’t know. He used to be an angel but he got in trouble and became a fallen angel. Most things people find scary and evil have a much deeper backstory than you would think.

Stressful Expectations: A Poem

By: Isobel Gaedtke

The expectations in the air
Linger
An ongoing heat that is pushed around
The movement of students is stiff

The teachers are stern
Students learn
But the expectations rise
Like the temperature in the summer

It chokes me and astounds me
The heat is caught in my throat
And the teachers´ voices bounce
In my head
Building up in clumps

The classes are hard
But the curriculum is harder
I breathe through the fog
And struggle to relax
To work

But the teachers push and push
And the kids shove and shove
All of them pushing me to the ground
I am crushed in the movement
As the words and numbers
Stomp on my chest

I try to breathe
To struggle
To learn

But it comes back
As I try to relax
Closing in on me as I scramble
To trap my thoughts
But I´m trapped
And lost

The History of Hot Chocolate

By: Gracie Hanlon

Since it is winter time, it is perfect weather for staying inside and warming up with one of the most popular winter drinks: Hot chocolate. This is the history of how people created the famous drink we know today. 

Hot chocolate goes way back, dating all the way back to 2,500-3,000 years ago, created in Mexico by Aztec and Mayan people. The “cocoa” was very important to their culture, they called it “xocolatl”. This explains why Mexican hot chocolate is one of my personal favorites. 

The original Mexican hot cocoa consisted of: Cocoa seeds, cornmeal, chili peppers, and what sets it apart from American hot chocolate is that they used water! It is still that way today, normally in the US your hot cocoa drink will be made from hot steamy milk but Mexican hot chocolate is the opposite. 

The original drink was served cold. (I guess this is because Mexico does not get that cold throughout the year) The drink was described as “cold and spicy” and was consumed by all classes of people. Everyone loved hot chocolate, well I guess not hot chocolate but the drink was popular. 

But hot chocolate soon evolved into something different. It began to spread across the world in the early 1500’s. An explorer brought the cocoa to Europe. It was beloved by the Spanish, but only the upper class. They were the ones to make it warm and get rid of chili peppers. The drink was now more of a dessert, it was sweetened but it wasn’t until the 1700’s that their drink spread across Europe. 

Once it hit London, the trend was everywhere. The English loved to drink it as a sweet treat for after dinner. They started chocolate houses where they sold it and they were very popular at the time. Chocolate houses had a similar concept to coffee houses. Chocolate was also expensive, so the English really dedicated time and money into the delicious drink. It was also consumed when sick. 

Now, we can microwave hot chocolate and enjoy a cup in as little as a few minutes. But the question is when did it come to be that way: When did hot chocolate become instant? 

Hot chocolate at the time was for when you got sick, it was even being sold in English pharmacies, but it was soon rebranded by different businesses and the drink was even more popular. 

In the Netherlands, in 1828, Coenraad Johannes van Houten invented a powder producing machine which helped with the process of making hot chocolate. This important discovery led to chocolate bars. So without the first spicy hot chocolate, we wouldn’t have any of our favorite chocolate bars today. The machine created a chocolate powder which made it easier to stir into milk or water so that was where the instant idea began. 

Tracing the very first business or brand is difficult, but Cadbury decided to sell Hans Sloane’s recipe, which was created as a remedy. It was the first brand of hot chocolate. With many others following, like Swiss Miss, possibly the most famous brand of hot chocolate, was launched to stores in 1961, and remains popular today. 

All in all, hot chocolate is a classic winter drink that has been around for a lot longer than most would think. I hope that you learned something about your favorite winter drink and let me know which you prefer hot chocolate or eggnog because I say hot chocolate, all the way!

Three Legends from Around the World

By: Sarah Thomas

1. The Legend of the Bow & Arrow War: Centuries ago, a group of native Alaskans, known as the Yupik, hosted an innocent game of darts. Little did they know that this little competition would begin a colossal war. During the games, one boy accidentally shot his competitor with a dart. The dart hit the other boy’s eyes. Although the first boy claimed it was an accident, the victim’s family accused this boy’s family. In fact, the injured boy’s father knocked out both of the eyes of the boy who shot the dart. Then, a relative of the now blind boy retaliated on the victim’s family. Legend says that as the families’ conflict escalated, multiple wars broke out across Alaska, spreading as far as some parts of Northwestern Canada. This is the 350-year-old legendary massacre. 

The Legend of the Bow & Arrow War originated in Quinhagak, Alaska. 

2. The Legend of El Dorado: In the 16th century, Spanish explorers traveled to the Andes Mountains, knowing about El Dorado. Who was El Dorado? What was his significance? For starters, El Dorado refers to the chief of the ancient Muisca tribe. El Dorado wasn’t even his name; it was a nickname given by the explorers. El Dorado means “gilded one”. The Spanish explorers journeyed all the way to the Andes Mountains in search of treasure, which they believed they would find in Lake Gultiva. During the time of the Muisca tribe, a new chief had risen to power. At the new chief’s induction ceremony, the people of the Muisca tribe covered their new chief in gold. Afterward, they would dump all sorts of treasures into Lake Gultiva to support their new chief. They ended up doing this almost every day. Legend says that the chief would take a bath in the lake every day to cover himself in gold. While the Spanish explorers never got to meet El Dorado, they were able to find some gold. But the valuable treasures thrown into Lake Gultiva were never to be found. 

The Legend of El Dorado originated in present-day Sesquile, Colombia

3. The Legend of the Shipwrecked Sailor: One day, a nameless sailor from the Middle Kingdom of Egypt miraculously survived a shipwreck, somewhere between the years 2040 and 1782 B.C. He was the only survivor out of 120 men on that ship. The sailor was lost at sea for a very long time, until one day, he stumbled upon an island. It was Island of the Soul. Not wanting to be stranded in the middle of the ocean, he quickly hastened to the island. When he reached the island, he met a serpent called the Lord of Punt. The Lord of Punt was very chatty, yet very wise. Soon, the sailor and the Lord of Punt were very good friends. Legend says that the Lord of Punt promised the sailor that in 4 months, a ship would come to save him. After four months, the ship arrived, just as the snake had promised. Legend says that the snake gave the unnamed sailor spices, incense, and other gifts. The presents were for the king. The snake requested the sailor to give the king presents and “make me a good name in your town.” This meant that the snake wanted to earn the king’s praise and to be known all over town. What happens after this is unknown. Maybe he sunk at sea in the rescue ship. Maybe he made it to the town and told the king about the loyal friend. Or maybe he forgot about the helpful snake over time. 

The Legend of the Shipwrecked Sailor originated in Egypt. 

Sorrow: A Poem

By: Isobel Gaedtke

It was a foggy morning
In Champaign
And through the fog
Emerged a glimpse
Of sorrow

Children walked the streets
Unsure of what it was
Sorrow was new
And sad
And scary

Sorrow walked up
To a child
Sorrow poked the child
In the back

The child collapsed and cried
Children swarmed
Tried to get away
But sorrow filled their hearts
Sorrow stabbed their backs

A girl stood on a rainy day
In the dark
She looked sorrow in the face
And said
¨No¨

Sorrow tried harder
But the girl was persistent
¨No¨ she said
Over and over and over
¨You won’t ruin me¨

Sorrow swept away
And disappeared from sight
The city worshiped the girl
But she was modest

One day a small boy asked
¨What is your secret?¨
The girl looked surprised
For she had grown
And was no longer a little girl
She bent down and whispered
In the child’s ear
¨Spirit¨

Where in the World is Ms. Lopez?!

By: Sloane Lindsay

Did you know that Ms. Lopez, the eighth grade Team Imagination math teacher, has traveled to over thirty countries? Yep, she goes all around the world to amazing places such as Iceland, Jordan, and Indonesia, which are her favorites so far!

Ms. Lopez has eaten some delightful food on her travels. She had a delectable fish soup in Iceland that she still dreams about today. She recalls, “I’ve never had anything like it and would never order it normally, but I loved it.” Fish is a very important part of Iceland because it’s a very typical food source, along with lamb and yogurt, and makes up about forty percent of their exports. Ms. Lopez also really enjoyed all of the food in the Middle Eastern country Jordan, especially the spices. Last but not least, her favorite part of Indonesian cuisine was a type of chili oil. “I love spicy food, so to be able to add as much as I wanted on everything was ideal.”

Of course we can’t forget about the astounding views. From Portugal to Hawaii, you can find both natural and human-made scenes that are sure to awe you. Ms. Lopez saw basalt columns and a volcano in Iceland, as well as the beautiful cliffs and ocean in Croatia. The famous Jordanian archaeological site and one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Petra, amazed her when she learned how its creation dated back to around 300 B.C.E. and was only just rediscovered in the nineteenth century C.E. She also visited Mount Batur, a hiking trail and active volcano.

Ms. Lopez was surprised that she didn’t get homesick, despite staying away from home for nearly two months last summer. “I felt like I was so busy and just continuously learning and exploring new things, so there never really was time to feel homesick,” she explains. Since she often travels by herself, meeting new people is one of the most interesting parts for her, because, “I love hearing their stories about how they got to be where they are and why they enjoy traveling.” She has kept in touch with many people, and even meets up with some of them in other countries. She plans to meet some friends in Greece next summer!

Traveling is even more enjoyable when you have family to share the experiences with. Ms. Lopez and her brother, whom she was never that close with until they became adults, loved getting to travel with each other. “These adventures brought us so much closer together and are memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” she shares.

Ms. Lopez has been to many places and is an inspiration to anyone wanting to travel. Her next stops are Scotland, the UK, and France. Perhaps she’ll see the Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, or try a beignet or fish and chips!

Failure: A Poem

By: Isobel Gaedtke

Tears fall from the face of a child
She looks to her computer
To find a bad score
On the MAP test

She cries and cries
The pain of the failure seeps into her heart
It takes her soul and leads her to a dark place
She calls
Alone

She calls into the darkness
But her voice jumps back to her
She stares at the shadow in her mind
And lays in the cold darkness

She curls into herself and flees to the cold
She cries and cries
As the shadow takes hold

The drip of her tears lands on her lap
And spreads through her body
Taking everything in its path

Her body is darkness and her mind is shadow
She screams in rage and cries of fear
And all the while
She cannot hear
A sound

Apple Recipes for the Holiday Season

By: Sarah Thomas

In this article, I will be sharing three recipes that use apples. These recipes will be perfect for this season, especially because apples are a main part of fall and Thansgiving. I hope that this article will inspire you to create some delicious recipes! 

Apple Crisps: Apple crisps are a great way to use up some fresh apples. This classic apple recipes is also very simple and doesn’t need a lot of ingredients.
Time: 55 minutes / Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • ⅔ cup of rolled oats
  • ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup of dark brown sugar
  • ⅓ cup of toasted, chopped pecans
  • A pinch of fine salt
  • 6 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
  • 4 medium sized baking apples
  • Unsweetend whipped cream(optional)

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter six 6 ounce ramekins.
  2. Whisk the oats, flour, brown sugar, pecans, and salt together in a medium bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the butter is in even, pea-size pieces.
  3.  Peal, core, and coarsely chop the apples and divide them the evenly among the ramekins. Sprinkle the mixture from the bowl(the topping) over the apples in each ramekin. 
  4. Transfer the ramekins to a baking sheet. Cook until the tops of the apples are golden and bubbling along the side(30 minutes). 
  5. Preheat a broiler. Put the crisps about 4 inches from the broiler and cook until they are golden brown,(30 seconds). 
  6. Let the crisps cool for for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm with whipped cream if you like, and enjoy!

Apple Meringue Cupcakes: These delicious cupcakes are packed with apples and easy enough for anyone to make.
Time: 2 hours (including cooling times) / Makes: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcakes

  • 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon of fine salt
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • 1 large, crisp, sweet apple, chopped, cored, and peeled

Meringue Frosting:

  • 8 large egg whites
  • 1 ⅓ cups of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice & 1 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest
  • A pinch of cream of tartar
  • A pinch of fine salt 

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl. Set the bowl aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl using the electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy(about 3 minutes). Beat in the eggs one at a time. Next, beat in the the vanilla until smooth. 
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low and then beat in half of the flour mixture until just combined. Add the sour cream, mixing to combine, and then the rest of the mixture. Beat it until it is well combined, but be careful to not overmix. Stir in the chopped apples. 
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling them until they are almost halfway full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcakes comes out clean and the tops spring back when pressed gently(about 20 minutes). 
  6. Cool the cupcakes in the tin on a rack for 10 minutes then remove them from the tin and cool completely. Transfer the cooled cupcakes to a baking sheet.

Frosting:

  1. Prehat the boiler on low
  2. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, lemon juice and zest, cream of tartar and salt in a heat-safe bowl. Set the bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and beat, using an electric mixer at medium-high speed, until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak, about 7 minutes.
  3. Use a spoon, offset spatula, or piping bag to dollop, spread, or pipe the meringue on the top of each cupcake. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks and/or valleys in the frosting anyway you want.
  4. Divide the cupcakes into batches and put them in the broiler and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until meringue is browned in spots. Avoid burning. 
  5. Enjoy!

 

Caramel Apple Soft Pretzels: This recipe uses both soft pretzels and caramel apples to make a salty and sweet combo.
Time: 2 hours / Makes: 6 pretzels

Ingredients:

Pretzels

  • 1 cup of whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2 ¼ of active dry yeast (one ¼ package)
  • 3 tablespoons of packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour 
  •  Tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup of baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons of coarse salt

Caramel Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup of packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • A pinch of kosher salt

Steps:

  1. For the pretzels: Pour the warm milk into a medium bowl and sprinkle the yeast over. Let the yeast bloom until softened and foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the brown sugar, vanilla and 1 cup of the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Stir in the softened butter until incorporated, then add the remaining 1 1/4 cups flour, chopped apple, cinnamon and kosher salt to make a sticky dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a lightly buttered large bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Punch the dough down to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. (If the dough seems tight, cover it and let rest until it relaxes.) Divide the dough into 6 pieces
  6. Working with one piece at a time, roll and stretch the dough with the palms of your hands into a 24-inch-long rope. Lift the ends of the rope to make a U shape, then cross one end over the other twice to make a double twist in the middle. Fold down the ends and attach them to the bottom of the U, creating a pretzel shape. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  7. Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups hot water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, let some of the excess water drip off, then arrange on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Bake until the pretzels are puffed and deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  8. For the caramel glaze: Melt the butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until completely melted and smooth. Whisk in the heavy cream until combined, then transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and salt until smooth (it should be thick enough to drizzle over the pretzels but not so thin that it drips away). Immediately transfer to a small piping bag or resealable bag, snip the corner and drizzle over the cooled pretzels. Let the glaze set, about 10 minutes.

The History of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

By: Gracie Hanlon

Every Thanksgiving, I watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade held by Macy’s, a huge store chain, which each year, throws a huge festival on the streets of New York! In this article, I will be sharing some of the history and traditions behind the parade, because impressively it has gone for many years, (three hours long each time) and it is one of the most famous parades in the world! 

Okay, so the parade first began in 1924. Almost 100 years ago!! During the time of the first parade Macy’s Department Store took up a whole block of New York and to boost business they decided to hold a celebration just before Christmas, for holiday advertising. 

So on November 27th 1924, the parade began at 9:00 am on 145th street! 

The original entertainers included bands, Macy’s employees, animals from the Central Park Zoo and of course Santa at the very end, as the grand finale. And because the parade ended up being so successful, they soon began to plan one for the next year. But they eventually stopped using live animals for the parade and instead opted for balloons! 

And these balloons were created by a very talented man: Anthony Fredrick Sarg. He was born in 1880 and started designing puppets and balloons professionally in 1917. When Macy’s found out about him, they immediately asked him to design balloons for the parade. And the first balloon to be featured was Felix the Cat in 1928, followed by many other early creations such as a dragon, a dachshund dog, Mickey Mouse, Wizard of Oz characters, and a hippo. One thing that made this so special was, back then, huge balloons and big elaborate celebrations were most likely not as common. Now we have TV and the internet, so we can pretty much tune into anything or look up anything we want, back in the 1920s and 30’s the parade hadn’t even been broadcasted on television. It wasn’t often kids saw these incredible parades so on Thanksgiving morning, this was very exciting! 

Fun fact: The balloons were designed to fly for days and so they were marked with an address so that whoever found it, could ship it back to Macy’s and win a free gift! 

After this, they really had the parade figured out, and it went on, year after year. It still happens today! The only years the parade was canceled or held differently was for three years during World War 2 and even in 2020, the year COVID began, they still held it, safely of course, it was closed to the public but people could enjoy it from home, on their TV screens. 

In America, there are many other annual Thanksgiving parades such as ones in Chicago, Detroit, Houston, and Philadelphia but Macy’s has surpassed all the others in popularity and attention. It is the largest in America. 

The finale of the parade was once featured in the 1947 film, Miracle of 34th Street and in 1948, for the first time it was broadcasted on TV. The most popular balloons include: Mickey Mouse, Garfield, Smokey Bear, Spider-Man and Big Bird and each of those balloons were recreated several times and shown in multiple different parades. Out of these five, Smokey Bear was featured the most, appearing in 17 parades but there are many others. And they’ve only continued to get more attention from the media and Macy’s is definitely a huge place for Black Friday shoppers as well. 

The parade will be held this year on Thanksgiving, Thursday November 24th and you can look forward to some musical performances and of course new balloons. You can also find a countdown on Macy’s website. As I’m writing this it is 7 days, 12 hours, 50 minutes, and 1 second away! 

Macy’s Thanksgiving parade is magical, exciting and a Thanksgiving staple for many people! Millions come or enjoy it from home. So not only does this parade give Macy’s new shoppers and holiday attention, it’s an exciting way to celebrate Thanksgiving and watch some incredible music, balloons, and other performances where many creative and talented people contribute their time! So if you’re looking for a Thanksgiving and/or early Christmas celebration, this parade is definitely for you!