May 2nd, 2020

Words by Saoirse Brecht · Artwork by Alia Wilhelm

I was on my couch, working my way through the fourth season of a Netflix baking show, when it hit me: I was going to bake


During this quarantine, taking up new hobbies and practicing self-care have been two huge trends. I’ve seen Instagram gurus use the time granted by stay-at-home orders to work out, cook gourmet meals, redo their homes, make vision boards, meditate, and read stacks of classical literature all before sundown. Bearing witness to these acts of productivity made me feel like I was most definitely not doing enough. On top of that, I found that I was bored and needed a way to relax. I was on my couch, working my way through the fourth season of a Netflix baking show, when it hit me: I was going to bake. 


I had made cupcakes from a store-bought mix once or twice before, but that was as far as my baking experience went. I opened up Pinterest to look for a recipe - wasn’t this the place where people with talent posted their DIYs? - and immediately found one for banana bread. I grabbed the remote, turned off Netflix, and marched to the kitchen to get started, whisking up the ingredients with, what seemed to me, the speed of a contestant on the baking show I’d been watching. My Netflix bingeing was finally being put to good use. 


Once I had put my bread in the oven, I contemplated what to do next. Should I get my mat out and practise some yoga? Or, better yet, organize my spices by color? I was putting away my banana bread ingredients when I suddenly realized that I had everything I needed for the perfect DIY face mask right in front of me. Here are the recipes to try them both yourself. These are common kitchen ingredients that I’m hoping you’ll have already:


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (121 degrees Celsius) 

2. Grease a 9 inch by 12 inch loaf pan

3. In a bowl combine the brown sugar, vegetable oil, milk, and eggs. Mix until combined, then add the bananas 

3. In another bowl, combine the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients all at once. Stir until combined

5. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes

6. Cover with foil halfway through to avoid over-browning the loaf


While your banana bread is in the oven, try this two-ingredient face mask. All you’ll need is some honey and a little bit of uncooked oatmeal. Apparently, oats are anti-inflammatory, which make for a great exfoliant even on sensitive skin. They also contain saponins, which are a natural cleansing agent, or so Wikipedia says. This will remove dirt and oil clogging pores. And then comes the honey; I’ve heard through the grapevine that Cleopatra was a fan of using honey in her face masks, and I don’t know about you, but I trust her beauty advice. Honey is naturally antibacterial and antiseptic, which helps to prevent and fight acne. It has antioxidant properties that naturally nourish skin, perfect for achieving that “glow,” which is so vital now that we’re all indoors without no one to see but our parents. Here’s the (very short) ingredient list:


Grind or blend the oats for a finer, gentler exfoliation. Apply to your face and let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then wash it off with a warm washcloth and BAM! 

Saoirse Brecht is a 19-year-old artist, photographer, and writer. Her work uses a queer feminist lens to offer a real, intimate perspective. Her online zine is @projectlola on Instagram. 

Alia Wilhelm is a Nearness co-founder. She works as a multimedia artist and director's assistant in London. You can follow her @aliiiiia and check out her work at www.aliawilhelm.com