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Create a “dopamine zone” for hits of joy right inside your home
Create a space for items that make you happy — and visit it often
By Abbie Kopf
October 12, 2023
The national mood can optimistically be characterized as Not Fantastic. Perhaps this is why interior design trends have increasingly embraced go-big, feel-good maximalism, with bright colors and unabashed personality taking the place of grey and beige from ceiling to floor.
Integrating bits of joy is sometimes called dopamine design — and the best part about it is that it’s easy and cheap, with a little intention. Designate areas in your home as your “dopamine zones” – or spaces that you look at often that are dedicated to showcasing the design that gives your mood a boost.
Step one: Make a list of items that make you happy on sight
Dopamine design is all about what brings you feelings of delight. Though this can take any shape or form, try to think through items that immediately give you a rush of satisfaction just by looking at them. Don’t worry if the items themselves aren’t design-ready — an eclectic, personal mix will only add to the charm of your dopamine zone. You can integrate any category that speaks to you, like:
- Memories: Pictures with loved ones, concert tickets, mementos from trips, gifts from friends
- Identity: Art of your favorite movies, pictures of people that you admire, books that you love, framed quotes, pottery you’ve made
- Fun: Cute trinkets or prints, oddball items (like that frog ashtray you found at the thrift store)
- Mood: Candles, essential oils, plants, record player/records or Bluetooth speaker, aroma diffuser, tarot cards, candy bowl
Step Two: Display them creatively
Once you’ve collected your feel-good pile, display them throughout your home on surfaces, storage spaces and décor. Here are a few of our favorite ways to display the things that bring a smile to our face.
Floating Display Shelf
For lighter items like pictures and small plants, consider an affordable, sturdy hanging shelf. You can easily snag one between $25- $50 — just make sure your displayed items fall below the maximum weight listed in the product description. Hang the shelf at eye level in your living room or bedroom. If you hang somewhere like the kitchen or the bathroom, just make sure that your shelves won’t get splash-back from showers, sinks, etc.
Standing or built-in bookshelves are ideal for heavier items, like weighty frames, hard-cover books, ceramics, sculptures and large decorative items. Though bookshelves of yore were often straightforward, rectangular boxes, you can find a wide range of shelves that can accommodate your personality, like this adorable cactus. When arranging the shelf, make sure to include items of various sizes, shapes and weights to create a good visual balance.
Bar carts aren’t just for bottles and drinkware. In fact, these rolling storage spaces are often ideal for placing mementos that will add even more joy than your next cocktail. Have a great photo from girls’ night out? Want to feature your favorite print? Need a place for your grandma’s vintage plates? Think of the bar cart as your own personal Cheers, the place where you go when you need a shot of happiness, in alcohol form or otherwise.
Okay, this one is controversial. Though some are vehemently anti-gallery-wall, the design has endured for years and is still an excellent way to showcase what you love. While traditional paintings and pictures are the natural choice, you can also include tickets, programs, drawings, menus or other outside-the-box keepsakes from the best moments in your life. Opt for a package with various sizes and customizable mattes, or collect frames as you go at your favorite secondhand shops.
Windowsills and balconies
Even when you can’t get outside to enjoy nature, you can get a dose of the outdoors through your window or on your balcony. Though the most natural items to store here are your (light-loving) plants, you can also keep anything here that helps you get some perspective. This is the perfect place for an aroma diffuser that smells like the season, fruit bowls or even blankets and pillows to create a cozy nook. (Just don’t store mirrors, electronics or other items that react to sunlight.) Consider these spaces a connection between your sanctuary and the world outside.
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Explore these haunted Phoenix sites on your next date night
7 historic haunted places that will bring you closer together
Phoenix as we know it today, with its modern skyscrapers, sprawling swaths of planned communities, acres of industrial complexes and perpetually sunny skies, may not immediately conjure images of spooky specters and mythical monsters. But the state’s capital has a rich history filled with Wild West outlaws, pesky poltergeists and tragic tales of murder and misfortune.
While the Halloween season sees the appearance of plenty of bone-chilling theme attractions that require expensive tickets for only a few minutes of fabricated fear, the Valley of the Sun also offers plenty of supernatural settings and paranormal hotspots that are guaranteed to induce hair-raising thrills and chills. Here are some of the best spots in Greater Phoenix for frightful fun with your favorite, erm, boo.
1. Central Phoenix
Based on appearances alone, if any building in Phoenix is guaranteed to harbor ghostly apparitions, it is the historic Rosson House, with its gingerbread trim, ornamental ironwork and golden witch’s hat turret. Built in 1895, the opulent Queen Anne Victorian-style mansion reportedly has been haunted since 1981, when the museum’s caretaker was fatally shot on the grounds. Visitors and staff have reported seeing unusual shadows and hearing phantom footsteps, experiencing doors locking and unlocking on their own, and feeling heat from an unused fireplace.
Communicate with the caretaker — or others in the spiritual realm — during a Séances & Spiritualists Tour. The inherently spooky attempts to contact the dead were a popular pastime during the Victorian era. For a more modern celebration, Halloween at Rosson House promises a fun-filled evening full of candy and costumes that’s perfect for a first date or a family outing.
For the ultimate frightful feast, head to the restaurant the Food Network named the most haunted in the state. Just don’t be surprised to find an extra guest at your table.
Part of an actual stockyard and slaughterhouse in the early 1900s, The Stockyards originally was built to feed the workers. In 1947, the steakhouse officially opened and quickly gained a reputation for serving delicious Western-inspired cuisine — and for spooky encounters. Helen Tovrea, wife of the first owner is said to still haunt the property. Some guests have seen a woman in red reflected in the bar mirror. Others tell stories of disembodied voices, footsteps, and dishes and paintings that move on their own. If you go, sit near the mural that showcases a woman in a red dress, said to be Tovrea, and perhaps she will join you for a drink.
For more spine-tingling entertainment, head to one of the most haunted buildings in downtown Phoenix. Built in 1929, the Orpheum Theatre is no stranger to ghostly guests and supernatural shenanigans. Four spirits, including ones of original owner Harry Nace and a purring panther-sized feline, are said to haunt the former Vaudeville venue. The most famous is a little girl named Maddie. She has been known to bop audience members on the head, shush them during performances and even photobomb unsuspecting selfie-takers. Enjoy a first-class performance or classic movie or join in on a haunted tour and learn more about the true phantoms of this opera house.
San Carlos Hotel
As the curtains close on your night of eerie adventures, check in to the San Carlos Hotel. This historic boutique property was a frequent go-to for the elite of Hollywood’s Golden Age, including Clark Gable, Mae West and Marilyn Monroe. But some guests never checked out.
The spirit of a young woman named Leone Jensen who jumped off the roof just weeks after the hotel opened in 1928 is said to still roam the rooms. Her final accommodation, Room 720, is particularly popular with ghost hunters. Hotel guests report visions of a woman in white standing near their bed, lights turning on and off on their own, and laughing and crying children in the hallways. Sleep well.
Casey Moore’s Oyster House
Located in the early 1900s former home of William and Mary Moeur, this Irish eatery known for its seafood and beer selection is a longtime favorite of Arizona State University students and Tempe locals alike — and of its original owners. The spectral shapes of the Moeurs have been seen floating up the stairs and dancing on the second floor long after the restaurant has closed.
Other spirits aren’t as content. In the 1940s, the property is believed to have been a bordello, and one young woman named Sarah, who is said to have been strangled by a jealous lover, remains onsite, haunting the restaurant as a poltergeist. Diners have noted hearing disembodied whispers, forks flying off tables, and pictures falling off walls. Will the ghosts you meet be delightful or disruptive? Down some brews and find out.
Four Peaks Brewing Co.
Your terror tour of Tempe continues with a haunted brewery tour at Four Peaks Brewing Co. Housed in a former creamery that dates to the late 1800s, the brewery is known as much for its ghosts as it is for its namesake craft beer.
Since it first opened in 1997, the brewpub has been the site of strange and mysterious happenings. From ghostly apparitions to weird noises and missing equipment, the presence of unknown supernatural forces is undeniable. Nightly ghost tours share the history of the property, from early workers whose spirits have never left, to a nearby tragic train crash in 1898 that still echoes throughout its walls.
3. Paradise Valley
Alonzo “Lon” Megargee was one of the Valley’s most renowned cowboy artists. His former home, an adobe one-room studio on 6 acres that he lovingly built by hand, is now the centerpiece of the historic Hermosa Inn, one of the Valley’s most luxurious resorts. With its picturesque setting, nestled in the shadows of Piestewa Peak in the exclusive Paradise Valley neighborhood, it’s easy to see why Lon never wanted to leave. And it appears that he didn’t. He loved his home so much that he is said to have moved right back in after his death in 1960.
The artist’s ghost is blamed for myriad mysterious events at the resort, primarily in its signature restaurant Lon’s, which is housed in the Megargee’s former abode. Diners and staff have reported sightings in the bar and foyer of a lanky spirit wearing a cowboy hat that’s often blamed for glasses and bottles sliding off the bar, pots and pans falling off shelves, and toilets flushing by themselves. Everyday activities in the life of a cowboy, perhaps?
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The insiders’ guide to Phoenix Pride 2023
Festival organizers share what you need to know about the event
Don your rainbow gear and dancing shoes and get ready to feel the pulse of the LGBTQ+ community at the Phoenix Pride Parade and Festival on Oct. 21-22.
Founded in 1981, Phoenix Pride is expected to attract about 55,000 people throughout the weekend to band together “United Against Hate,” as this year’s theme states.
“It is one of the most positive, welcoming, energizing atmospheres I’ve ever been a part of,” said Jeremy M. Helfgot, spokesperson for Phoenix Pride. “We see a wonderful mix of all ages; all demographics. And really the core of the whole thing is celebration. It’s everyone just being positive and having a good time.”
What to expect at Pride
The Phoenix Pride website has the full lineup of events and activities and a map, with the festival running from noon to 9 p.m. both days and the parade starts at 10 a.m. Sunday morning.
Attend the Festival on Oct. 21
The family-friendly festival takes over the bulk of Steele Indian School Park spread across 60 acres with seven stages and over 150 performances ranging from local folk and acoustic performers to high-energy drag headliners. Tickets start at $34.
The grounds also feature 300 exhibitors, food and drink vendors, community stages, KidSpace, an all-day Dance Pavilion and the Fiesta Caliente Latin Stage, which Helfgot said has become a huge centerpiece of the festival in recent years. Headliners include Ashanti, Donna De Lory, Niki Harris, Paulina Rubio, Ultra Naté and ZEE MACHINE.
The VIP Experience will feature a lakeside air-conditioned tent with a two-level bar, a bistro, special bathrooms, entertainment by Ru Paul Drag Race All-Stars and more.
See the Parade on Oct. 22
Another big element of Pride is the free parade, which starts at 10 a.m. at Third Street and Thomas Road and travels north, ending at Third Street and Indian School Road. More than 2,000 individuals walk and ride the route as 15,000 spectators cheer them on.
Safety and security are paramount throughout the weekend, Helfgot said, although they’re integrated seamlessly so it doesn’t feel intrusive.
“We are constantly looking at and revising security plans per the information we receive in partnership with public safety,” he stated. “I feel our events are very safe, very much secure, and people can feel comfortable coming.”
Pro tips for enjoying Pride
Streets are closed on both sides along the parade route on Sunday, so Helfgot urges people to have a parking plan and a backup. He also urges everyone to use light rail, bus or rideshare.
The earlier you arrive, the better your chances of finding a spot in a lot or garage. If you’re willing to drive around and walk a mile or so, you might find free street parking in nearby neighborhoods. The festival is just north of the end of the parade route.
The announcer stages for the parade are at Third Street and Osborn, so Helfgot advises staking a claim nearby if you want to hear the chatter.
Take plenty of water to the parade or take cash to buy it from vendors who cruise the sidewalks selling cold bottles for $1 as well as rainbow garb and other goods. Credit cards are generally accepted at the festival.
Pets on a leash are welcome at the parade but not at the festival. Check the website for the list of prohibited items at the festival.
Once the parade winds down, bars and restaurants from the Melrose District to Roosevelt Row and beyond see a surge in business. LGBTQ+ classics like Stacy’s@Melrose and Boycott Bar are particularly popular, but many other places—like Hula’s Modern Tiki and Morning Squeeze, to name a couple—roll out the welcome mat with Pride-themed cocktails to keep the good vibes flowing.
Festival after-parties are prevalent, too, from the official one on Saturday at Walter Where?House to a smattering of bars around town.
A deeper connection for the community
No matter how you celebrate Pride, it’s key to remember the underlying purpose. The event is a touchstone for many in the LGBTQ+ community who look forward to it all year so they can express their true selves.
And unlike neighborhoods like West Hollywood in Los Angeles or the Castro in San Francisco, Phoenix’s LGBTQ+ community isn’t concentrated in one area, so this is a way for them and their allies to connect in one central location.
“It’s hopeful, it’s reassuring, it exudes some sense of optimism that people really can come together and maybe one day we will get past all of the bias and hatred that exists,” Helfgot said.
More than four decades after Pride’s founding, Helfgot noted, “There’s still a lot of work to do as we work to eradicate hate and intolerance and work toward equality for all people. Equality and equity for everyone is the end goal.
When: Noon-9 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 21-22
Where: Steele Indian School Park, Indian School Road and Central Avenue, Phoenix
Cost: $34 and up
When: 10 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 22
Where: From Third Street and Thomas Road to Third Street and Indian School Road, Phoenix
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