thrift store haul

hey, everyone!

i’ve been really into thrift shopping for the past few years. a lot of my books are from second-hand shops, as well as my homecoming dress from two years ago. & a broken cat clock with incredibly creepy eyes (his name is heath), & some of my favorite clothes.

i always have a good time at thrift stores, especially when i have a friend to search through all the racks & bins with me. also, it’s good for the environment, because buying second-hand helps reduce waste. so basically, thrifting is a win-win-win: fun, easy on your wallet, & good for the planet.

anyway, i went thrift shopping last month & came back with a few great finds that i wanted to show you all!

flora & fauna t-shirt – i saw this shirt while christmas shopping with my mom, & while we both loved it, it was a little too expensive for us. so we were super surprised to find the exact same shirt at the thrift store a month later, because how lucky is that? it’s extremely oversized on me, so i cropped it & sewed the sleeves so they’re rolled up all the time.


fall out boy centuries t-shirt – i was a huge fan of fall out boy in middle school, & while i don’t listen to them quite as much anymore, i thought this was too good of a find to leave at the store. i like the colors & the nostalgia of it.


varsity sweater – i got this solely because it reminded me of the movie grease. i love the fashion in that musical so much, every time i watch it i wish that people still dressed that way. so that’s the main reason behind this buy, but my last name starts with h, so the letter works too.


peony sundress – i have a huge problem with buying sundresses & then never wearing them, & i know this, but it doesn’t stop me from getting more of them whenever i can. & it’s not that i decide i don’t like the dresses once i’ve purchased them or anything. it’s just that i have to wear a uniform at the camp i work at, so i can’t really dress how i want to (i.e. sundresses) during the summer. hopefully i can find a time to wear this, though.


skeleton dress – so this might not have been the most practical purchase, but seriously, how could i have passed this up? it’s not really an everyday kind of dress, but you can bet that i’ll be wearing it around halloween & every time i have to do a presentation in my anatomy class. also, i think the style of this dress is completely adorable; it looks like something you could wear to a tea party (if it didn’t have bones all over it, of course).


b&w gingham dress – this dress is also not extraordinarily practical, but i adore it, so whatever. it’s got schoolgirl/40’s vibes, in my opinion. i would love to wear this dress with red lipstick, but i’m probably too insecure to actually do that in public.

which of these finds is your favorite? do you like thrifting?

xo apollo

diy lip balm recipe

hello everyone!

i have a slight obsession with lip balm. i probably have around fifty right now. i’ve dreamt about eos at least two times this year already. but good lip balms can be a little pricey (i really paid $7 for one from sephora), especially when you buy them as often as i do, so i’ve been learning how to make my own. it’s a pretty quick process, & i think all the ingredients are natural, except for maybe the flavoring & coloring, but those are optional.

so here’s the recipe! let me know in the comments if you try it out. :)


– beeswax
– shea butter
– almond oil
– baking extracts (for flavor)
– lipstick (for color)

– small glass jar
– stirring stick
– pot
– pipette
– lip balm tubes


the first step is to measure out equal parts shea butter, beeswax, & almond oil & put them all in a small glass jar. the recipe calls for one tablespoon of each, but i’m pretty sure i used half of that because i only wanted two tubes of lip balm.


fill your pot with water & put the jar with ingredients inside. it doesn’t really matter how much water you use as long as it doesn’t go over the rim over the jar. put the pot on the stove over medium heat.


once the mixture has melted, add lip stick shavings for color & stir them in until they’re fully integrated. the balm generally cools to be a lighter color, so keep that in mind.


then add your extract! you’ve really just got to experiment to see how much flavoring to add. i had to use quite a bit of peach extract because it’s not as strong as some flavors, like peppermint, which you only need a few drops of. but there’s really no right or wrong amount, it just depends on how flavorful you want your lip balm to be.


once you’ve got your coloring & flavoring blended in, use your pipette to suck up the mixture & deposit it in a lip balm tube. fill it all the way to the top because it’s going to condense as it cools.


put it in the fridge for an hour or two or until it’s cooled all the way through. & then you’re done! the whole process (minus cooling time) takes about twenty minutes, tops, & you get smooth & shiny lip balm as a result.

i’ve given five different flavors to my best friend over the years (raspberry, peppermint, tangerine, vanilla, & peach), & she says that likes them more than store bought lip balm. she even used up the whole tube of raspberry in less than a year, so that should say something about how good this recipe is.

what’s your favorite lip balm flavor? do you prefer lip stick, balm, or gloss?

xo apollo

2019 reading recap


i know it’s a little bit late for a 2019 recap type of post, but it’s still (barely) january so i think it’s ok. & there were a few books i read last year that i just love to death & would regret not telling you guys about. i usually include stats with my reading recaps, like genres/ratings, but i did a really awful job tracking those things this time around. so this is just some quick reviews & my thoughts on the best & worst books i read in 2019.


crush – this is easily my favorite poetry collection, if not one of my favorite books ever. one time i described richard siken’s poetry as a fever dream that lingers in the back of your mind, & i still stand by that. i use lines from this book as instagram captions, i got a gift last summer of a soccer ball covered in his quotes, i want these poems tattooed on my body someday, etc. i really don’t know how else to explain how much i love crush, but it’s gorgeous & unforgettable.

thirteen doorways, wolves behind them all – i don’t usually read historical fiction, because i feel like they usually focus more on portraying past events correctly than on developing interesting characters. but this book got five stars from me. it’s got orphanages, ghosts, tender romances, & more wonderful things that i’ve forgotten about because i read it too quickly. it made me think a lot about God & dreams and fate. also, the diction is so achingly beautiful. 10/10 would recommend.

a list of cages – i have a lot of feelings about this book!! the main characters are two boys, adam & julian, who both have disabilities (ADHD & dyslexia, respectively) & share such a sweet bond. julian gets abused by his uncle throughout the course of the story, & the descriptions of what julian had to suffer through were incredibly hard to read about. it made me cry & i felt like i was going to be sick at some points. despite that, it’s still an important, touching story that i would recommend to anyone who thinks they can deal with reading about the graphic abuse.

a thousand naked strangers – i don’t think i’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but i want to be a paramedic, maybe for the coast guard or a medevac service.  i read this memoir in order to learn more about EMS. i loved it because of the intense, exciting calls, the way the author’s job impacted him as a person, & because it’s a peek into the life i want. so this is more of an “i liked it because it’s personal” kind of book, not “everyone will think this is amazing & should read it right now!!” type, because EMS probably isn’t something that everyone will find captivating.

honorable mentions


so i have one big thing about each of these books that really frustrated me, & here they are:

love & gelato – i thought the mc was kind of rude to all the other characters she interacted with, so it was hard for me to care much about what happened to her. & the entire story occurred over the course of just a few days, which means that it contains sickeningly high amounts of insta-love.

when dimple met rishi – rishi’s pursuit of dimple was sort of creepy in my opinion, because he knew she wasn’t interested in the arranged marriage but kept trying to woo her anyway. & as for dimple herself, she was honestly a huge jerk. she threw a drink on rishi the first time they met, was always mentioning how much better she was than other girls (just because she didn’t wear makeup & she liked STEM), was rude to everyone for no reason, & was overall just an unlikable character. & since i didn’t care about either of the mcs, i didn’t care about the story, either.

the upside of unrequited – none of the characters in this book were good people?? (except for molly’s moms, of course. absolute sweethearts.) i just thought that all of them were irritating & they didn’t look out for or seem to care about each other, even the twins & best friends. all the platonic bonds in this book were ignored in the pursuit of romantic ones.

dumplin’ – for a book that’s supposed to be about body positivity, willowdean sure does seem to hate the way she looks. she’s always self-conscious about her size when she’s with her love interest or best friend, which a) isn’t a good sigh in any relationship, romantic or not, & b) undermines the message of the story, which is essentially that all bodies are good bodies. i thought the movie was a lot better, which isn’t something i say very often.

so those are the highs & lows of my 2019 reading challenge! let me know in the comments what the best or worst books you read last year were. & if you’ve read any of the books i mentioned in this post, tell me how you felt about them.

xo apollo

underwater | poem

emerald isle

i wrote this poem last year in my english class, for an assignment about describing the culture of a specific area at the time of an important historical event. i chose chicago, 1919, during the race riots. it’s very different from the poetry that i usually write; those are typically about my own experiences, while this one is based on research & the life of eugene williams. even though it was a little bit out of my comfort zone, i enjoyed working on this because i think experimenting with different kinds of prose helps me grow as a writer.

so with the backstory out of the way, here’s the poem!

my mama said she feels like her head is being held underwater.
she’d just lost her job preparing italian beef sandwiches in a diner downtown.
the day she was fired, my mama slumped over the kitchen table
with a cloth dripping cold water pressed against her flushed cheek,
which sported a shameful red handprint.
a white customer had spotted her dark, plastic-gloved hands in the kitchen,
slicing rolls, tucking in meat, folding sandwiches shut.
she told me that the white woman who had pitched a fit
had been sipping a milkshake through plum-painted lips.
that pursed pout spoke venomous words into the ear of mama’s boss,
who told mama that white folks felt the hair stand up on the back of their necks
whenever people like us were in their spaces.
he kicked her out of the shop with a slap to the face,
telling her to search for a job in the black part of chicago.

wise men believe that nothing is black and white.
there is only gray, an area where both sides can be right.
the gray tells us that mama deserved to keep her job because she’s a hard worker,
but it also says that the white woman’s discomfort was valid.
in my mind, the world is divided into black and white.
white cops, white stockyards, white neighborhoods.
black prisoners, black schools, black slums.

my mama shooed me out of the house one day in july.
she was looking for a new job sewing glitzy flapper dresses in a sweltering factory.
my friend eugene and i spent the afternoon together,
cooling off in the cerulean water of lake michigan.
we buried our callused feet in the warm sand of the beach.
eugene and i joined some sweet girls from the ghetto, splashing in the water on the make.
summer was perfect that day, in the heat with our new dolls, not a care in the world.
i figured my mama had gotten the job and everything would be back to normal.
when the sun was hanging low in the sky, eugene and i
kissed our girls on the cheek and set off to our black neighborhood.

we took a shortcut through the beach on 29th street, wading through the surf.
the people lounging on the sand were made paler
by the zinc oxide streaked on their bare, outstretched limbs.
eugene and i trudged along the shore, our feet covered by gentle waves.
he hummed the song i’m forever blowing bubbles to himself.
a white man yelled at us in a throaty voice that rattled through my skull like thunder.
dark dots showered down from the sky — gnats? polluted rain?
they struck my naked chest, shaking arms, horrified face.
dull pain rose up in my skin wherever they hit.
stones sailed from the heavens and pelted eugene and i as we began to run.
howling white boys raced along beside us, pebbles flying from their hands.
“get out,” they hollered, “this is our beach!”

i saw the shadow before it happened: dark and eager, searching for its target;
a lion chasing its prey across the savanna.
the rock, as big as my fist, smashed into the back of eugene’s head.
he stumbled, his feet slipping in the shifting sand.
then he pitched over and landed facedown in the surf with a thud that stopped my heart.
the splash from his fall sprayed the back of my legs as i fled.
over my shoulder, i urged eugene to pick himself up and get the hell out of there.
eugene stayed in the water, still as a statue, letting the waves lap up over him.
the hunting white boys halted their pursuit to gather around his quiet body,
crowing and and circling like buzzards.
“he’ll drown,” i screamed at them, scratchily,
as though i was speaking through a mouthful of sand.
they hurled stones and slurs whenever i tried to get close.
eventually, my wailing drew the attention of a scowling white cop.
the hunters scattered; the man whose voice shook the earth approached.
calmly, as though the world was not collapsing in on itself,
he explained how two “suspicious-looking boys” had violated the segregation of the beaches.
“the bigger, more criminal one,” he told the officer, while gesturing at eugene’s limp form,
“fainted in the water for unknown reasons.”
i crouched in the lake beside my best friend, praying for him to lift his head.
salty tears rolled off my chin and puddled in the dip of his back.
anger seethed under my skin, burning and all-consuming.

if there is only gray, the policeman would have arrested the white boys
for murdering eugene as he strolled innocently along a beach.
if there is only gray, someone would have listened when i accused the thunderous man
of shouting at us and setting the crime into motion.
those girls from the ghetto, who kissed eugene and me in the lake,
had watched us go, their expressions dizzy and light, then shocked and drained.
they saw the commotion and the rocks in the air.
if there is only gray, folks would have believed those honey-voiced girls
when they took our side and called the white killers sick.

when i got home, mama was at the scuffed kitchen table again.
she must’ve gotten the job: a new striped dress hung on the nail in the wall.
worn and faded, it was the uniform workers wore in the clothing factory.
with her tired mouth, she asked how my day had been, and how was eugene?
“mama,” i told her, “eugene feels like his head is being held underwater, too.”

xo apollo

goals for 2019 | results

hey everyone, happy 2020!

i stayed up late on new year’s listening to spotify’s top pop songs of the decade playlist, & that made me feel kinda nostalgic. most of the songs that i knew were from old just dance games.

but anyway, it made me think about how most of my childhood took place during the 2010’s, & by the end of this decade i’ll be an adult & i’ll probably have finished college & i’ll have moved out. all of that is kind of terrifying to me, in an exciting way. if i keep thinking about this stuff, i might end up having a crisis, so let’s just get into the goals that i wanted to accomplish in 2019.

(key: ✅ means i reached my goal, ❌ means i failed, and 🔵 means i partially did it.)


read one page of les misérables a day 🔵

i was actually doing a super good job with my reading until august, when marching band started & i had absolutely no time. well, i did have a tiny bit of free time, but i spent it sleeping because band camp is such a workout. & i know that’ll sound crazy to anyone who hasn’t experienced it, but you try marching on your toes with a heavy drum strapped to your chest for hours & hours in a parking lot during the hottest month of the year. all you will want to do once you get home is shower & go to bed, not struggle through a really confusing & sort of boring french book.

that being said, i am not completely giving up on les mis! i love the musical & i want to finish this book because it’s a classic, & i have hope that it’ll be interesting once i get through all the setup for the revolution. i made it to page 228; that’s 16% of the book! it’s a start!

join drumline

i played bass in my school’s drumline, & it was really good but also incredibly chaotic. i missed a week of band camp, our bass captain moved so the drill & music had to be rewritten, i got a concussion & forgot the music for our ballad, the new bass captain got injured a ridiculous amount of times & had to play on the sidelines for most of the season, etc. so it was kinda hectic, but i realized that i absolutely love bass & all my drumline friends.

i know that i’m biased, but i would say that our show was pretty amazing, especially factoring in my band’s size (we’ve got maybe forty people on a good day?). it was called darkness all around & was about a girl who realizes over the course of the show that demons have gotten into her head/home. i can’t seem to find a video of it anywhere online, but it was based on tarpon springs’ 2010 show.

get a summer job

this is not news to anyone, but i worked at a boy scout summer camp & had the time of my life (click here & here to read about it). i was on the handicraft staff & the area director is my favorite person ever, plus he goes to college in my town so i’ve seen him a few times since the summer camp season ended. anyway, i’m definitely going to be staffing again next year, & volunteering at the winter & spring break camps.


earn ten merit badges

i actually ended up getting twenty-three . . . so, check? i earned three while at AHG camp (those were dance, engineering, & robotics), three with my troop, & all the rest were just ones i worked on by myself. i had to get another sash at the beginning of the year because i ran out of room on my first one. whoops? that’s a crazy number of badges, but a lot of them overlapped with school (thank you science & social studies classes). although there were a few that took a lot of work, like camping, outdoor cooking, & outdoor skills, all of which took me years to finish but ended up being my favorites anyway.

go vegetarian

december marked one year of me being a vegetarian! i think i’ve eaten more peanut butter & jelly sandwiches in the past year than is really healthy. it hasn’t been that difficult for me because i didn’t particularly like meat in the first place, but i have missed BBQ & chinese-style chicken.

continue to explore cooking 🔵

i didn’t really do much cooking this year, which i am honestly so sad about. i got this amazing vegetarian cookbook for my birthday & only ended up making a few recipes from it. between soccer & summer camp & marching band, i didn’t have enough time at home to actually prepare the recipes that i wanted to. hopefully that’ll change in 2020, but my schedule is supposed to be just as busy as it was last year, so i don’t really know.

read 50 books

i actually overachieved on this one & read 61 books in 2019! my favorite was definitely crush by richard siken, which is a poetry collection & one of my top books of all time. i’m currently working on another post about some more of my favorite reads of the year, so look out for that sometime this month (hopefully).

here are my goals for 2020:

– read 60 books
– finish painting my mural
– get better at driving
– write more poetry
– spend more time with friends
– go running more often
– volunteer with a cub scout troop

i’ve got a few more goals, like playing varsity soccer, visiting the great dismal swamp, & being my marching band’s drum captain, but those aren’t really up to me. so i’ll just have to wait & see about those, but i’ll be working on the other ones.

what goals do you have for 2020?

xo apollo

letter from last summer | pt. two

| the cast |

jordan: eccentric handicraft director; the kindest, most helpful person at camp; doesn’t believe that birds are real.

kaitlyn: assistant trailblazers director; struggling with being in love with the wrong person; my camp mom for the past two years.

michael: handicraft instructor; wears a cowboy hat; has the exact same laugh as me.

mary: health officer; looks just like me; always has popsicles hidden in her freezer.

you: CIT; has the loveliest brown eyes; awful at goodbyes.


week four

i came home from the fourth week of camp & wrote in my journal, i knew this week would be the worst & it absolutely has been.

the thing about camp is that when one person gets sick, the whole staff has it by the end of the week. & when one bad thing happens, it is sure to be followed by something else tragic & infinitely worse.

the first bad thing: jordan got bronchitis & had to go to the hospital. the second bad thing: as assistant director, i was put in charge of handicraft while he was gone. i had to go to meetings & deal with fuming scout masters who wouldn’t listen to me because i am a girl & 5’2″, & then there was that incident with the applesauce. the third bad thing: the other staffers kept asking if you were coming back, & kaitlyn pointed out a young scout that looked just like you. after that, i wore the red bolo you gave me every evening for the rest of the summer. it was my one reminder of you that didn’t hurt.

the really tragic, infinitely worse thing: i got sick in the middle of the week & the awful thing happened while the health officer was checking on me in my cabin. i was in a sports bra, hair stuck to my skin from the fever, with mary kneeling beside my bunk. someone else needed her right then & it was my fault that she couldn’t be there to stop it. it’s been five months already, but sometimes the guilt still knocks me over like a sucker punch.

they told us that it was sensitive information, that no one else needed to know about it. i still haven’t told my mother. but there was an ambulance that everyone thought was for me. there was a sweet little boy who didn’t understand what he’d seen. when i cried about it later, it was because of that boy. there’s this pit in my stomach when i think about him growing up & realizing what he had witnessed.

i was here with you & i was happy

week five

i came home from the fifth week of camp & wrote, i am so very confused.

because that’s what the week was all about, right? being confused. rumors & conversations with hidden meanings & little hearts doodled on bare legs.

the teal car parked in front of the health lodge. lighters left as gifts. engraved tomahawks. a sword tattoo. nine years apart. these were things i paid attention to in the middle of july when i was lonely.

he said, you’re trouble, but just for me. he said, you look like an angel on the outside, but you’re definitely not on the inside. he said, i think you’re going to get me fired.

we went on walks together at night, wandering through the bike trails without a flashlight. he called me angel.

that week was the one year anniversary of the worst day of my life. i’d been dreading it all summer, & even though i knew it was coming, i still cried at the campfire. i put my head between my knees & sobbed in front of everyone, because oh god, when is it going to stop hurting? when will i stop remembering how it felt when the world ended? i couldn’t breathe. i can’t forget.

it’s been a year & everyone still hates me, i told kaitlyn while we watched the flames dance. i don’t understand why they let me go home. i didn’t understand a year ago, & i didn’t understand then, & i don’t think i ever will.

kaitlyn & mary made me stay in the health lodge that evening. i kept ending up there with wounds of the heart, not something that could be fixed with an alcohol wipe & a band-aid.

week six

i came home from the sixth week of camp & wrote in my journal, i learned how to shotgun a drink. it made me pass out.

my last week was filled with art & anxiety. i remember sitting in the handicraft pavilion at one in the morning, painting in my pajamas. that white van shuddered up the gravel road, coming to stop when the driver saw the lights were on. hey, angel, he said when he got out & came to sit on one of my acrylic-covered benches. he told me that his head was messed up.

you’re the cutest person at camp, he said. i would date you if you were eighteen.

nine years, i thought, & i was afraid.

i wished that i wasn’t wearing my ex’s shirt. i wished that i had just showered & gone to bed instead of deciding to paint. i wished that i would stop finding myself in situations like this. everything felt like déjà vu that summer.

i think i almost cried from relief when jordan showed up with his friends. then someone cut their finger on a pocket knife, & there was blood all over the concrete floor, & the taste of it filled my mouth again. when i cried then, it was because of the bad memories from last summer, by the lake with michael. how it’s always my fault when someone goes to the hospital; how the year-old bloodstains still haven’t washed out of my yellow shirt.

but there was one last good thing in store for me, & i have never been closer to singing praises than the day i saw you again. you still had all your gear with you when you showed up at my pavilion out of the blue, which made me think that you hiked straight from your car to me. straight from my memories to being by my side again.

it was friday evening. we were getting ready for the last closing campfire of the season. your return made the end of summer more sweet than bitter.

we ate a whole apple pie together in the health lodge. we laid in the grass during the campfire, listening to the drums. we shared your hammock later & i told you everything that i hadn’t been able to explain over the phone, & it took until morning.

you are awful at goodbyes & i am terrible at letting go. i think we were made for each other.

here are the songs that hold my memories of the past two summers:

august love // grayscale
shut up and dance // WALK THE MOON
i know // motherfolk
always summer // yellowcard
mamma mia // ABBA
ocean avenue // yellowcard
letter from last summer // charlie burg
summertime // my chemical romance
there’s a place // the all-american rejects
the longest time // billy joel
summer nights // grease the musical
our last summer // mamma mia! the musical

xo apollo