APRIL 2019.

I mentioned at the end of last month how I expected April to be slow, and I’ll admit, it was! Most of our weekends felt long, which is up there as one of the best feelings ever, along with sleeping with new sheets, which we also happened to buy this month! Anyway, I’m grateful for the nights of being able to cook a meal, watch tv and curl into bed before 9:30, and for weekends where we had no alarms set and no where to be.

In May, I’m looking forward to riding the creative wave that I’m on. (Gotta take those bursts of inspiration when they come.) I’m also looking forward to a little getaway to Portland, Maine. It’s been since March that I’ve travelled, and while I’ve loved the homebody moments, I am itching to explore! Only a couple more weeks, and I’m not wishing any of it by. Until next month…


APRIL FAVORITES

Fashion | I’m really into the idea of blazers as a jacket in spring, and this cotton linen version from Everlane is the perfect mix of oversized, yet still flattering. I am also itching to wear this denim jumpsuit, come on summer weather!

Food | One Friday night, we stayed in and created a shrimp piccata dish, over pasta and with spinach. I have to say, it was one of my best! Otherwise, we indulged in a feast over at Pabu in Downtown Crossing. Sushi, wagu beef, sake and desserts — it’s one of those meals that you happen to have every once in a while. Everything was delicious!

Book | It’s hard to choose this month. I read three books in April and all of them were good, just not The Silent Patient good, you know what I mean? If you’re looking for an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller, I suggest No Exit. If you’re interested in the Gone Girl-esque psycho thriller, I’d say The Last Mrs. Parrish.

Link | This article on rules for life. . . Please read this. And take it to heart. Life is too short, and my takeaways from this is: to be nice, to order that extra dish at a restaurant, and to always make extra dinner rolls (obviously).

Media | While I wasn’t totally in love with new music this month per se, Beyonce’s Homecoming debuted, and man, that show got me. Beyonce fan or not… you are, right?!… she just kills it. Singing, dancing and just pure entertainment and girl power. A highly recommend from me!


MAY AGENDA

Have a movie night watching Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile when it airs this Friday

Take a long weekend up to Portland, Maine

Cook this recipe for Garlic Basil Chicken with Tomato Butter for Sunday Dinner

Go up to Lake Winnipesaukee for the first time this season

Read at least two books, including The Great Alone and The Woman in the Window

A NOTE ON MINIMALISM, PART TWO.

I posted here that recently my minimalist journey has started to look a little differently than it had when I first started over a year and a half ago. Then, I wanted to be a minimal as possible – not shopping or indulging, no spending or acquiring anything tangible. It worked for a while. The initial ‘shock to the system’ and declutter was extremely beneficial. It felt like a weight was lifted, in my apartment, in my thoughts and in my bank account.

But as the weeks passed, things started to change. I didn’t notice it at first, but looking back retrospectively, I began to get harder and harder on myself. I’m a type-A Virgo… once I commit to something, this is usually how I handle it… And just like that, something that started as a positive change in my life, began to make me feel bad! I had moments of guilt when I did buy something for myself (which I even still would consider thoroughly as opposed to impulsively buying) and even felt moments of deprivation. (“XYZ is something I think I could really use/need, but I can’t buy things!”) It all became a little tiresome and pretty draining. It felt like the exact opposite of how living minimally is supposed to make you feel.

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The past two months have been a little different. I’m allowing myself grace. With this, among other things. (Remember my type-A personality, Virgo-born tendencies.) I’m hard on myself for everything. Achieving my version of perfection is really the only way I feel satisfied. But I’m no longer allowing something that is supposed to provide freedom and genuine happiness to have the opposite effect on me. So what is the solution? I think it’s shaping up to look like a deeper dive into conscious consumption and intentional living, and what that looks like for me.

And I’m starting with this:

If I have thought consciously about a purchase (kept it on my wish list and have considered it over time), I have the means to afford it, and use those means to support local, ethical and/or women-owned businesses that I believe in, then I am allowing those things to come into my life and, as Marie Kondo would say, spark joy. It’s what feels right, what makes me feel good and happy. And that’s what this whole minimalism thing is about anyway.

 

What does minimalism look like for you?

CATCHING SOME ZZZ's.

Generally speaking, it’s been a strange experience to come into what I can only describe as my ‘true’ adult years… (Isn’t it funny when you think you’re all grown up at age 21..23..25?!) I feel like one of the biggest things I’ve learned in my late 20’s is how to be introspective, and to give myself the time and resources that I need to really feel happy. I don’t know, sometimes it’s easy to think that your struggles, whatever they may be, are just something you have to live with… and as a ‘true’ adult, I have come to terms with the falsity of that.

One of the things I have struggled with for years is sleep… I’m the person that would go to bed at 9:00 to get a “good night’s rest” because I knew I’d be up from 2 or 3am through the morning; my mind reeling with lists and to-do’s, hypothetical scenarios and anxieties. It’s something that I’ve accepted to be true for a very long time. But recently, as it became more effective on my daytime mood and energy levels, I decided to invest in myself, to make changes to foster positive habits that have very truly changed my day-to-day life. Here’s what I’ve invested in to experience better sleep:

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I stocked up on the most comfortable sleepwear I could find. I use the term sleepwear lightly: I usually like to sleep in cotton (not athletic) sports bras – too much fabric, like wearing an oversized tee shirt, is just too much for me. When I came across ARQ tops, I knew that they would be the most comfortable thing my money could buy, so I ordered multiples.... They have proven to be the most amazing – made of organic stretch cotton, so soft, non-restricting and perfect in their simplicity. I adore the wide strap version.

I took steps to block out sound and light. I’m naturally a light sleeper to begin with, so falling asleep/ tossing in the middle of the night has always been super disruptive for me because any little sound or light had the power to keep me awake. So, I started using this heavy duty sleep mask. The true darkness that comes with a sleep mask has helped me in getting the deep sleep that we all need, and (bonus) it’s one of the cutest sleep looks… just ask my boyfriend. :)

I created my perfect nighttime routine. I now swear by the power of the nighttime routine… if I happen to miss it one night, I notice my sleep being completely out of wack. Everyone’s routine to relax and get prepared for sleep may be different, but here’s what works for me: About 45 minutes before heading into bed, I have a cup of decaffeinated tea with Beam CBD oil. This stuff has been a GAME CHANGER. I was skeptical before I tried it, but I am so glad that I did. Even more than helping me sleep soundly, I notice that if I do wake up in the middle of the night, it is so much easier to fall right back asleep, instead of laying awake with a million thoughts in my head. On an ideal night, I get into bed about 30 minutes before I actually want to sleep and read until my eyes are naturally closing, whether that be in two minutes or 20. Letting my body feel tired naturally has been a new and welcome change on my body. After that, I slip on my mask and it’s a wrap.

If you have any sleep tips and tricks, let me know in the comments!

A NOTE ON SUSTAINABILITY.

While I have loved seeing today’s culture leaning towards more sustainable practices, making it easier and more mainstream to think sustainably, I also have been weary over the opportunity for businesses to capitalize on this shift in the market. I will be the first to admit that I did invest in some cotton grocery bags and other reusable swaps, but I also truly believe that the best way to be more sustainable is to buy and consume less overall. In my experience, it simply comes down to small changes in habit and mindset. Here are five changes I’ve made in my everyday life to be more sustainable.

One

Think ahead and plan smarter. Living more sustainably is rooted in some planning and a little extra effort. How many times have you forgotten your reusable grocery bags at home, or bought a plastic water bottle because you didn’t have a reusable one on you? Guilty. For me, this has meant planning a grocery list before leaving the house in order to bring the right bags, and keeping a utensil set at work, where I eat out of the house. I also reach for full fruits that I have to take the time to cut myself, as opposed to the precut, packaged alternatives. I’ve noticed that often, waste (single-use plastic) is a byproduct of accessibility and easiness. But as a result, I have learned that what is easy is not always right. Putting in a little extra effort makes a big difference.

Two

Educate yourself. Similar to ‘green washing’, there’s nothing stopping a brand, company or individual from claiming that they are sustainable. While this can depend on your personal views and preferences as to what is deemed an adequate ‘amount’ of sustainability, I still think it’s important to at least read into a business’s sustainable practices before blindly accepting them as true. In addition to researching companies that I am a customer of, I also enjoy getting inspired by others living sustainably, through blog posts on all types of sustainable living topics and YouTube videos in order to learn new practices or to simply be motivated by leaders in the community.

Three

Get creative with what you have. Consumer culture has trained us to believe that we need particular things for particular uses: vases for flowers, jars for our pantry, pitchers for drinks. I’ve enjoyed breaking that habit, and getting creative with using the things that I have in different ways. Large bouquet of flowers? Throw them into a glass pitcher. Empty jar in your kitchen? Ditch the lid and use it as a cocktail glass, pencil holder or catchall for mementos. Practicing resourcefulness has been monumental in my sustainable living journey.

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Four

Buy Less. If you start to adapt the ‘get creative with what you have’ mentality, it will be even easier to simply buy less. Not to mention, this is the number one way to live more sustainably. It can be harder said than done, which is why I’ve taken small steps to minimize the temptation. I have unsubscribed from retailer emails that put sales and new merchandise at the forefront of my inbox. I also don’t shop in stores often, but rather browse online and keep a wishlist of items that I love. If I still love and want the item in a few weeks, only then might I make a purchase.

Five

Transition Your Mindset & Be Happy With What You Have. Again, sometimes easier said than done, especially when a lot of us enjoy treating ourselves with material items, or feel excited when we buy new things. By practicing gratitude every day and allowing myself to recognize happiness when I feel it, I have slowly disassociated things with happiness. I’ll admit that this was a slower process for me, but by getting into the daily practice of gratitude, I am creating habits that are not only more sustainable, but also good for the soul.

How do you try to be more sustainable in your everyday life? I’d love to know in the comments below.

This post was originally written for JessAnnKirby.com.

SHOPPING WITH INTENTION.

If you’ve followed me for a while, some of my most loved sustainable brands may not be much of a surprise... But when I had the opportunity to share my favorites on a platform as big as Jess Kirby’s, it was pretty exciting. If one person is inclined to shop from a sustainable brand because of that post, it would be successful in my book! Check out the post for some more information about my absolute favorites, and click through all of my go-to sustainable brands below.

SUSTAINABILITY AROUND THE HOLIDAYS.

It’s already time to prepare for the holidays — can you believe it?! While decorating the house, gift giving and eating lots of food are some of the best ways to get into the spirit, they also can be super wasteful too. Lots of excess and waste accumulates this time of year, so here are some of my easy tips to be a little more sustainable this holiday season:

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Decorate with perishables | I’ll be honest, some decorations you just can’t replace. For me, that’s the ornaments on our tree and our stockings. But other than that, one of my favorite ways to decorate is with natural elements that can be found right outside! Ferns, twigs and pinecones can be foraged and used for a charming and zero waste alternative to fake greenery. Plus, once the season’s over, compost them or toss them back out in the yard… no need for bulky storage! 

Wrap with care | While glittery and printed paper may be tempting, I’ve had a lot of fun being more creative with wrapping gifts during the holidays. There are plenty of supplies already at my fingertips that don’t require a wasteful purchase! Newspapers, brown paper bags, magazine pages, old linen clothes and other items are perfect for upcycling. Decorate your wrapped package with twigs or a stem of pine or rosemary and you have a wrapped gift with no extra waste! Plus, your gifts will certainly be the most unique under the tree!

Gift more thoughtfully | One of my favorite things to gift, especially when I have a lot of people to give to, is something homemade. A gift that requires your time definitely means a lot more than something that only requires your money! Create soy candles with essential oils and mason jars, or bake cookies and other treats. One of my personal favorites is to make infused olive oil for cooking. My favorite is garlic and rosemary, but this recipe for roasted garlic infused oil sounds delicious too. Divide into anything from old salad dressing jars to empty wine bottles and there you have it! Outside of the time element that comes with making a gift, you can also control the ingredients in and process of creating your product, meaning no toxic ingredients or excessive plastic waste. Win/win for you and the gift recipient! If you aren’t a DIYer, look into finding gifts at vintage shops. How much more thoughtful and cool is it to gift a vintage denim jacket, belt or decanter?!


Be responsible with food waste | While considering composting is my first recommendation when it comes to food waste all year round, sometimes you may not have the means or resources to do so, especially while traveling. My suggestion is to see how unwanted food can go to use: sure, taking leftovers to eat (for days) post holiday is a must, but what about unopened or perfectly good unused items? Donate them! Beef bones and/or veggies scraps going into the trash? Save and freeze them until you can make a big pot of homemade stock.  Often times we throw away food out of habit, when we could really be getting so much more out of what we have! Think proactively before tossing and see how much more you can do with extra food this season.

What tips and tricks do you have for being more sustainable during the holidays?

This post was originally written for Jess Ann Kirby.

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