Frugality: Celebrating Quarantine Birthdays with Freebies

Remember in March when we circulated memes about those who had to celebrate their birthdays under social distancing and stay-at-home restrictions? Joke’s on us, we who thought we would escape from such circumstances. By now a third of the population has probably experienced celebrating quarantined.

Characteristics may include gatherings of less than ten, standing awkwardly six feet apart, something that gets in the way of the hugs and kisses more than masks do. Candles on a cake anti-climactically put out by a clapping of hands – as if a child saying “ta-da” after making a wish. Also, gifts running belated as shipping companies struggle to continue working in a safe environment despite an influx of online orders.

I myself had to celebrate a restricted birthday, although how happy was I when restaurants opened up for dine-in during that week? Back to normalcy we go – I was sure of it!

So when I asked my husband a month out what he wanted to do for his July birthday, I was quite surprised when he said he wanted to sign up for rewards programs and run around town picking up freebies.

I thought to myself, “Sounds lame.”

His birthday landed prior to a four day weekend which I happened to have off from work and I was imagining a trip somewhere (local, of course). Or at least a sort of beach activity or party. Perhaps a restaurant reservation with our closest friends?

Lo and behold, when it came to the week of his birthday, all of my would-be plans went straight out the window as California was called to partially shut down once again. Due to the rising numbers of COVID positive patients and upcoming holiday, all beaches were shut down, along with dine-in options at restaurants, movie theatres, and family entertainment options. Turns out, his request to get birthday freebies proved to be the only solidly COVID-proof idea.

I thought to myself, “My husband’s a genius.”

To be honest, it turned out pretty nice. It was a sunny Friday, and we started the morning with free bagels (to-go) and coffee, which we ate at home with my brother and roomie for a late morning breakfast. We all were recovering from hiking Mt. Baldy the day before, so it was one of those restful mornings wherein one rolls around in bed, drags feet across the floor, with nary an obligation to rush you towards the next to-do. You know those mornings that feel like you’re on vacation instead of just sitting at home? Speaking of vacation, I need one of those soon.

For lunch, we headed over to a shopping center that had Jersey Mike’s and The Habit. Jersey Mike’s was giving away whatever free sub you wanted plus a 22 oz. drink, which we took away lidless and straw-less to reduce plastic waste. It is, after all, Plastic-Free July.  The Habit was giving birthday celebrants a free burger. Both were wrapped in paper. In the shopping center, there was an outdoor seating area with tables perched ‘neath umbrellas. The tables were spaced out more than six feet apart, with no more than a pair of seats at each table. We plopped ourselves down on cool metal chairs and ate our wins with the first official signs of summer.

In the evening, we had a number of friends meet us at a local park to eat pizza as we sat in a circle on lawn chairs social distancing by household, with an imaginary bonfire in our midst. Excited Santa Anians were shooting fireworks a day early, as mosquitoes bit our legs in the setting sun. It was the first time since February that we’ve seen these faces and it was nice to hear familiar laughs dangling in the night sky. When dusk settled, we packed up our lawn chairs like a bunch of soccer moms and waved our cheerful goodbyes, grabbing left-over pizza boxes and stuffing them in reusable grocery bags.

What’s amazing about the freebies is that they can all be taken to-go and the majority of them last for the rest of the month.

On paper, all of this probably sounds lame. But I can tell you that it was actually extremely fun. I just might do the same next year for the month of June.

For COVID in particular, it was a fool-proof plan to celebrating. If you’ve got a birthday coming up in the next few months, why don’t you try it? Take out and delivery have stood the test of virus and according to a Harvard study, we need to all be prepared to social distance until the end of 2021.

In order to prep for the big day, you should check out a list of Birthday Freebies and sign up for their Rewards program. On your day of birth, each place will email you a coupon or offer with the requirements and the expiring dates.

Below are a few of Mike’s favorites:

  • Denny’s – Free Grand Slam on the birthday month
  • Chili’s – Free dessert for the birthday week
  • Red Robin – Free burger
  • Sprinkles – Free cupcake, redeemable until the month after your birthday
  • Auntie Annie’s – Free pretzel, redeemable until two months after your birthday
  • Wetzel’s Pretzel’s – Free pretzel for downloading the app, and another free pretzel on your birthday
  • Baja Fresh – Free Burrito (with purchase of beverage) , valid until the month after your birthday
  • The Habit – Free Charburger, valid for two weeks
  • Jersey Mike’s – Free Sub and 22 oz. drink
  • Baskin Robbins – Free ice cream scoop
  • Ben N Jerry – Free ice cream scoop
  • Buffalo Wild Wings – Free birthday wings valid until end of the month
  • BJs – Free Pizookie for signing up for rewards and also for your birthday
  • Breugger’s Bagels – Free bagel with cream cheese for signing up and also on your birthday
  • Einstein Bagels – Free bagel egg sandwich with purchase on your birthday
  • Nothing Bundt Cakes – Free Bundtlet valid for one week

It may not be much to celebrate, these free wins, but it sure is a silver lining. There are some things they still haven’t taken away.

How I Made $390.38 In June 2020 Blogging From Home

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

I started blogging right after graduating from dental school without ever thinking I’d earn money from it. At the time, I turned to this blog as a place to record my daily life. Ever since teenhood, I have kept some sort of journal or diary, which has evolved over time from paper to Xanga to Melodramatic, and now onto WordPress. For almost twenty years, I’ve processed information through writing, but never once did I think I would earn money from it.

It’s been three years since owning this site but I am happy to say that it is now getting a little bit of traction and has started to earn me a little income. If I wasn’t working as a dentist during the day, I could see how this could become a steady day job. Still, even with my day job, it had turned into a fun side-hustle for me. I decided to log my earnings for my own personal tracking but also to share publicly how much one can make blogging from home.

Now that remote work seems to be in the near future for many, I do think that blogging is a good option for people who wish to work from home. Likewise, it is an opportunity to be your own boss and have your own space. Since you are writing your own content, you have the flexibility to work whenever you want to, which I know can be a good or bad thing. Of course, you can always practice habits that will separate work from home. Lastly, this is a great hobby or job for creative people. You have autonomy over how to execute your ideas and thoughts, making this a very freeing experience for those who don’t quite fall neatly into a traditional work environment or big company hierarchy.

But first, how did I start to monetize the blog?

If you are new to blogging, you may not know that you can earn income from owning such a space. I certainly didn’t. But then I took this course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, and it changed my life.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is working with brands that you love in order to spread the word about their products and in return receiving commissions for any referred patrons. Sometimes these are physical products from almost any company you can think of. Other times, they are intellectual products such as courses or services that help improve other people’s lives. The best part is that you don’t have to “sell out” to do affiliate marketing. You don’t have to scheme or cheat people. For me, it’s really just promoting companies that I believe in. For example, the companies I choose to partner with are those that promote sustainably sourced products using fair trade and ethical factory conditions. I like to promote small name businesses trying to create social or environmental impact. I try to keep it to an exclusive few even though I’ve been approved for over 2,000 different companies (so far).

There are a few nuances to affiliate marketing and I didn’t know much about it prior to the course. But the course helped me to learn A LOT and it’s just another case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You could learn it all yourself, but it’s hard to without a guide to get you through the basics.

I highly recommend this course if you wish to monetize your blog but don’t know where to start.

Extra Income Report

Now, onto the numbers. In June 2020, I made $390.38 in extra income.

Of that, this is the breakdown:

  • $380 is from sponsored posts. I count the monetary value of products that I receive and review as “income”. I do not accept products for review without first learning about the company and product. As a minimalist, I also only look for products that we currently need. I am honest in all my product reviews and list both pros and cons because I want to be as helpful to the consumer and the company, both.
  • $10.38 is from affiliate links. This means that people clicked on a link I wrote about and I earned commission for referring a consumer.

I know it seems like not much, but as something I do for fun, I think it’s a nice little additional income. Over time, I hope to continue posting more income reports. Maybe it will help others looking for a side-hustle get a feel for whether blogging could become an alternative for them.

As always, my goal with this blog is to promote intentional living. Writing is a way to create a lifestyle that is in tune with what you want to do. Sure, it may not be the perfect job, but if working from home and having flexibility help allow you to live your dream life (one that includes traveling the world or becoming a stay-at-home parent), then I hope this space brings you that value.

If you are interested in starting a blog, I use WordPress. Feel free to sign up using my affiliate link.

If you already have a blog, I want to refer you to the course that helped me monetize mine. It’s a really great starting point. It’s called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Monthly Goals: July 2020

This post is sponsored by KINTO, a Japanese company that focuses on bringing tableware, drinkware, and interior items that bring its owners a sense of joy. Each of their items are heavily considered for the ease of integration into one’s lifestyle, without sacrificing the beauty of everyday things. 

A few days late, but better than never. In May, I shared how daily habits can help get goals achieved and in June I wrote about how creating time blocks can facilitate getting goals done.

For July, I wanted to do something a bit different and separate goals from habits. Habits are tiny daily steps we take to create a particular lifestyle. Hopefully the habits feed into your future goals but let’s not get the two confused as being the same thing.

This month’s goal formula has monthly goals, weekly goals, and daily habits listed separately. I consider monthly goals to be TRUE GOALS – one time events that occur after reaching a certain thresh-hold. In contrast, daily habits are tiny wins that we wish to accomplish so as to create a particular lifestyle. They are not true goals in that there is no end point. You do them daily, so it’s not like you drank 8 cups of water today therefore you’re done with that goal. Habits should be things that never leave you. You still want to do that again tomorrow in order to maintain a certain lifestyle. Lastly, weekly goals are somewhere in between. They’re goals that you can cross off and forget about for a few days, until a new week begins. They create a repeating habit over time. Below, you will see the difference between the three.

Monthly Goals:

  • Increase Instagram followers to 800 people, which may not seem like a lot but for a non-socialite such as myself seems like such a huge feat! If you like this content, perhaps you might enjoy a follow😉
  • Get a podcast recording in the books. It’s been a while since I’ve shared my story or put myself out there. After a few years of going down this loan repayment path, maybe some people can glean valuable info from my mistakes and my successes? I will try to see if there’s a space who would be interested in hearing the story thus far.
  • Finish online continuing education courses for dentistry and plan future live CE’s. Since we are spending a lot of time quarantining, I might as well use this time to knock out 25 of my 50 required continuing education credits. As a frugalist, I always do 25 of them online for FREE, which is the maximum allowed remote courses one can take.
  • Upgrade bathroom. We recently re-painted our bathroom in June. I wanted to upgrade the rest of it to make it feel like a brand new space without breaking the bank. I will be brainstorming a frugal way to upgrade a bathroom and will be sharing the project as we continue along.
  • Pantry declutter project. Every month I try to check the pantry for soon-to-be-expired items that I then integrate into meal planning. I like a minimalist fridge and pantry, getting rid of ingredients before buying more. We have very little pantry space in our small home, so it’s kind of a necessity, but also, a fun challenge for me.
  • Digital declutter project. For so long, I keep telling myself this will be the time I will digitally declutter. I have tons of files, photos, emails, subscriptions … I’d love to tackle this today!
  • Break $500 with the blog. I just recently started making money from the blog in the hundreds and my goal is to continually increase my blogger income. This month, I hope to break $500 in extra cash. One way I do this is by getting affiliate sponsored posts or by making affiliate links.
  • Explore 2 new places. It’s always good to have goals that nourish the soul. I love to explore and experience new things so this month, I wanted to explore two new places that we have never been before.
  • Bake 1 new recipe. I typically try to learn a new baker’s recipe every month using a variety of cookbooks or bloggers as inspiration.

Weekly Goals:

  • Stay offline one day a week. This means no blogging or social media for one entire day. This will be the day I spend with Mike, friends and family.
  • Deep clean house including bathroom, kitchen and floors.
  • Run 3x/wk. We have been pretty good about running a few days a week and I am proud of my abilities now (running up to five miles) so I want to keep this up. Hopefully it naturally turns into a habit so that I won’t have to keep making it a goal.

Habits:

  • Stretch/yoga10 mins every morning
  • Wake at sunrise
  • Use Headspace every morning
  • Skin care routine every morning
  • Wear TBC eyewear when using screens
  • Make bed every morning
  • Read 20 pages every day
  • No social media after 7pm
  • Drink 8 glasses of water
  • Turn on humidifier every evening
  • Wear a nightguard every night
  • Sleep at a decent hour every night
  • Write at least 30 minutes a day
  • Get outdoors 30 mins per day

I love to check off goals when I complete them. As for habits, I love to track. My favorite printable habit tracker download is by Unbound, which you can buy here.

I hope your month goes swell! See y’all in August.

Dental Series: Bite’s Got It Right

This post is sponsored by Bite, a company dedicated to creating an oral-hygiene routine that is completely zero waste. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

I heard of Bite about a year and a half ago, when I was first honing in on creating a zero-waste lifestyle. At the time I was starting to partner with companies such asPlaine Products and Bogobrush. I was intrigued to hear of a toothpaste company that was making a paste-less toothpaste. As the name implies, Bite sells toothpaste tabs that you simple chew. My first thought was, “Huh.”

What is Toothpaste?

Toothpaste (as we know it) was first invented by one of the nation’s most famous advertising executives in the early 1900’s who understood that for a product to sell, it had to be effective in creating a habit around said product. He was a very smart man who realized that it would be more successful to sell the feeling of fresh breath rather than the health benefits of brushing teeth. If he could get people to continually crave that minty fresh feeling, then he could get them to continually brush. If they create a habit of brushing their teeth, they will continually buy the product. The addition of a sudsy sensation convinced people that their mouths are actually clean when they use toothpaste.

What if I told you that the paste doesn’t do much to clean your mouth? Rather, it is the brushing techniques that one employs that really removes the plaque and debris from your teeth. It wasn’t until later that fluoride was added to toothpaste. However, fluoride also does not clean so much as strengthen the enamel. If it wasn’t for the fluoride, I would say that toothpaste has no benefit other than creating the mirage that you have a clean oral cavity.

DSC01539

Things to Know About Fluoride

There are a few facts that we need to get straight regarding fluoride.

  • It has been proven to strengthen enamel.
  • It has been proven to reduce caries (which causes cavities).
  • It has been proven to be especially effective in improving the oral health of low income communities when it’s added to their water systems.
  • When ingested in high quantities, it has been proven to be highly toxic. (Any parent of any child who has ever accidentally swallowed fluoride can attest to this. At the dental office, they vomit before they even get to the door).
  • Some people can get behind fluoride use, others cannot get past the toxic properties.

Knowing that final point, I think that it would be wrong of me as a dentist to promote only fluoride toothpaste. It is important to make the habit of oral hygiene inclusive to different populations with different belief systems. Therefore, we must have alternatives to fluoride. Enter nanohydroxyapatite.

Nanohydroxy-who?

Nanohydroxyapatite is a long name that describes a man-made calcium crystal. It is bio-mimetic, meaning it imitates a naturally occurring component of our bodies called hydroxyapatite. Hydroxyapatite makes up 60-70% of bone and 90% of enamel, the outer protective layer of teeth. Nano-hydroxyapatite are essentially very small crystals that replace missing sections of minerals that have dissolved out of enamel or bone, thereby fortifying both.

It is widely known that bone and enamel are made of calcium, but did you know that free calcium is not something your body can use? Nanohydroxyapatite, however, is readily bioavailable, without any additional processing required. There are multiple studies that repeatedly show the potential that nanohydroxyapatite has in improving both dental materials (when combined with glass ionomers it greatly increases the resistance strength against biting and chewing forces) and tooth minerals.

The most exciting thing is that it has been shown to be more effective than traditional fluoride treatments, remineralizing enamel surface in as little as 10 minutes. Gel that contains this crystal also reduces sensitivity after a session of teeth whitening. Even early lesions which signify the start of tooth decay can be treated with daily use of nanohydroxyapatite. Its ability to stimulate bone growth due to its direct effect on osteoblasts explains why nanoHA is widely used in oral surgery, periodontology and implantology. Lastly, it does not induce toxicity or inflammation within our bodies.

Why Bite’s Got It Right

DSC01542

Which brings me full circle to my original point. Bite’s got it right. Bite toothpaste recently launched a new summer flavor, Watermelon Hibiscus, that contains nanohydroxyapatite instead of fluoride. It also contains xylitol, which is a sugar substitute for sweeteners that I recommend to all my gum-lovers out there. The tabs come packaged in a glass bottle rather than a plastic tube, making it zero-waste. (They also have wooden toothbrushes that are vegan-free. cruelty-free, and extremely light – perfect for a biodegradable option when backpacking through the woods this summer.) Each bottle contains 62 tabs, which would last one month if you brush every morning after breakfast and every evening before bed.

Now, it doesn’t work like the toothpaste that you grew up with. When I first tried Bite, I did in fact think to myself, “Huh.” You take a tab and bite into it. My first thought was to swallow it like candy (perhaps it was the watermelon flavor that threw me off. I’m sure the mint flavor would be a bit different). For obvious reasons, you aren’t supposed to swallow it. Instead, you take a wet toothbrush and start brushing. The chewed up tabs dissolve, although you can’t expect the same sudsy sensation as traditional toothpaste. After brushing, you spit out the contents like you would with toothpaste. You may be surprised to find solid pieces of the tab still left, which is nothing to worry about. I have found that no matter how long I brush, not all of it dissolves. A trick is to chew it very well because the smaller pieces have an easier time breaking down once brushing.

DSC01546

I know this all sounds weird. A dentist not forcing fluoride treatment. A toothpaste company that’s zero-waste. Tooth brushing without suds and minty freshness. Unfortunately, the man who first invented toothpaste, his name was Claude C Hopkins by the way, has got one thing straight. Pepsodent, his invention, created the fresh feeling and suds which revolutionized America’s relationship with tooth brushing. Prior to the early 1900’s Americans did not brush their teeth. Afterwards, they don’t feel clean without mint’s tingly sensation. And all I’ve got to compete with that are boring facts.

But you know what? Bite may be on the verge of something here.

If we can dissociate Americans from that nostalgic, socially-learned feeling long enough for them to understand a few things (such as brushing technique reigns supreme), maybe we can turn away from decades of sodium laurel-sulfate use towards zero-waste planet-loving, non-toxic body-protecting products that are good for both the environment and our health. Isn’t that what we are moving towards these days?

All I’ve got to say is, try it. With an open mind. Understand why it is that you are so tied to traditional toothpaste. Who knows? You may like it.

This post was sponsored by Bite. The information regarding Claude C Hopkins was from “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. To learn more about nanohydroxyapatite, you may find Ann Stomatol’s literature review published in 2014 a good read. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Home: A Good Night’s Sleep with Leesa Mattress Topper

This post is sponsored by Leesa, a mattress company devoted to helping others get good sleep.

It seems as if immediately after the passing of my thirtieth trip around the sun, my body began to show signs of wear. It’s true what they say, although any twenty-nine year old will disagree. When you enter your thirties, you start to notice aches and pains in parts of your body that you didn’t even know had feelings. A crick in the neck becomes a resounding pop with a slight turn of the head, resulting in a moment of starry-eyed dizziness. A stressful day at work leads to a soreness in the jaw due to a severe teeth-grinding habit. A simple exercise leads to a sharp painful complaint from the heel of your foot every time you hyper-extend. But worst of all is the start of a new day, waking up to a slew of back and joint aches.

DSC01480

I am a dentist, so that doesn’t exactly help. Static postures similar to anyone who has ever had a desk job and scrunching to contort myself into tiny mouth spaces are both daily occurrences that feed the fire. Bad ergonomics on my end lead to a stiffness in the neck. Some days, I come home with such severe lower back pain that I can’t even sit down. Just recently, I spent an entire Saturday crying because my upper back was spasming between the shoulder blades so that getting up took great effort. I spent the afternoon on my back lying on our living room couch.

It was this particular afternoon that I said, “No more.” For many years, I had known that part of the problem compounding the situation was an ill-fitting mattress. We were twenty-seven and just moving in together when we went mattress shopping for our first space. I had just graduated from dental school and was currently living at my parent’s house. The queen sized mattress that my parent’s handed down to me was pawned off for free after learning that my previous rental space had a termite problem. My 6’3″ husband was ready to give up his double bed, where his feet would hang off unless he chose to slept diagonally across the entire mattress.  Personally, I was happy to sleep anywhere that we can call our own space.

Perhaps that is why, on the hot summer day that we traipsed around and visited three mattress stores, I was very passive about which mattress I wanted. My husband preferred hard mattresses (“the stiffer the better”), and I preferred softer ones. But when the sales person said that it doesn’t matter so much what type of mattress I got because I weighed so little, a comment I now begrudgingly look back on and find appalling, I gave way to whatever mattress my husband decided on. Which inevitably, was hard as a rock.

It has been almost four years since that fateful day but I did notice a worsening of symptoms on most mornings. The problem is that I am a side-sleeper and he is a back-sleeper. I am half his weight and therefore do not make any indentation in the mattress, whereas he sinks in. Imagine sleeping on a hardwood floor on your side, with your back collapsed and your hips and shoulder taking the brunt of the force. I’ve been complaining about it for what seems like forever. The symptoms were getting worse. Unless I want to be completely useless by my mid-thirties, I know that it was time to address it.

DSC01486

Leesa immediately came to the rescue! As a frugalist who did not want to pay for a brand new mattress in wasteful fashion (ours had originally cost $1,200 on sale and is barely three and a half years old), I thought perhaps the better solution would be to add a mattress topper on our existing mattress. Not only would it be more cost-effective, there would be no mattress lying unwanted by the trash bin in our alley way. I mean, it is, still, usable, albeit uncomfortable. The best part about choosing a mattress topper instead of a brand new mattress altogether is that there can be compromise. If the mattress topper is too unbearably soft for my husband, we can alternate between using it and not using it. Of course, I’m hoping we won’t have to for the next few years.

The Leesa mattress topper arrived on our doorstep in millennial fashion – that is, rolled up like a log in a fairly miniature, minimalist box. It does come in plastic, a minor drawback for any anti-plastic nerd, but a quick slice of it leads to an unfurling of the 2 -inch foam topper. It comes with a removable cover that protects it and is easy to wash cold and hang dry. Suffice to say that set-up was simple and flawless.

After a night’s rest, we noticed that we slept cooler than if we were sleeping atop our mattress directly. We also noted that it did not move around, despite not being tied down. Our Parachute sheets comfortably covered the topper so it was a good thing it wasn’t too thick. I like that it didn’t add much height to our existing bed since we like to sleep low to the floor. I woke up the next day after a peaceful sleep (without waking up once!) feeling rejuvenated. For the first time in a while, my back did not hurt.

DSC01473

We also paired the mattress topper with a pair of Leesa foam pillows. Prior to Leesa, we had these two king pillows that we found in the sale bin of a Bed, Bath and Beyond. You know, the ones that sit in the center of the aisle so that you have no choice but to practically run into them? They were $15 each. At the time, we were fatigued from all the purchases we were making for our first home together, so we figured it wasn’t a big deal. After sleeping on Leesa’s foam pillows, I realized that we were wrong.

As a person who is invested in preserving the ability to work in my profession, I now realize that proper ergonomic support during sleep is one of the best things I can do to prolong my career and maintain good health. I realize that choosing unsupportive pillows have aged me, even though I couldn’t see it at the time. The rusty joints and heavy limbs have been aggravated by my poor choice in bedding. I can tell because after a night’s sleep, I already feel the difference.

Equally as important as my own personal backstory is Leesa’s dedication to having a good backstory of their own. A company that seems to know I toss and turn at night over the environmental impact that the human species extols on this planet, Leesa is doing all the right things on that front.

For example, their mattresses are CertiPUR-US certified, free of the long list of chemicals that goes into the typical mattress, including flame retardant. You can easily smell this difference after opening a box. There was no chemical scent! And every mattress is made in the USA.

Leesa also helps me to rest easy knowing that I am supporting a company trying to make a social impact. They are working v. hard to help the homeless by donating one mattress for every ten they sell. So far, 37,000 beds have been donated. They have another initiative where a tree is planted for every mattress sold (called The One Earth Program). Their goal is to plant 1 million trees by 2025. This B Corporation really is trying to do good by all.

DSC01491

I know we are all spending extra time at home these days. Sometimes, that’s what it takes to realize what needs attention. For me, it was this mattress. If you are wanting to improve your health or simply upgrade your bedding situation, give Leesa a try. Their 4th of July sale is in full swing at the moment, which gives you up to $350 OFF mattresses plus a set of free organic sheets (up to $159 in value). They’ll throw in free contactless delivery, too! In case you worry that the mattress will be incompatible, it helps to know that there is a 100-night risk-free trial. Shall you love your new Leesa product like we do, there is a 10 year warranty.

This post was sponsored by Leesa. All thoughts are my own. As always, thank you for supporting brands that support this space. 

Curating Closets: Ethical Activewear with Girlfriend Collective

As you know from this post, I only use one outfit for my workout routines. When this post was written, I was doing yoga five times a week and wore the exact same top and bottom to every class. To simplify my life further, after class ended, I would wash my clothes in the shower and hang-dry them so that they’d be fresh and ready the next day.

The pants have been with me since my early twenties, a capri cut from Forever 21 when I was still penny-pinching dollars from my retail gig. It’s safe to say that I was due for a new pair of leggings. I honestly didn’t mind the old pair (there’s a sense of comfort in the way they sit perfectly molded on your hips) and it wasn’t like I was willing to drop a lot of money on a new one. But when my sister wanted to gift me something, I knew that ten years of exercise in the same pant meant that perhaps it was time for a new one.

I had researched the perfect, sustainable, ethical legging option and landed on Girlfriend Collective as my choice (although Organic Basics was a close second). Transparency was the company’s prerogative while making active wear with a high-end fit and feel.

DSC01444

Less waste is the goal. Their compressive leggings and bras are made from 25 and 11 recycled bottles respectively (“because plastic bottles look better on you than in the ocean”). The LITE leggings are 83% recycled fishing nets and waste. If you wish to purchase tees and tanks, you will be happy to hear that they are 100% cupro, a delicate fiber made from waste left behind by the cotton industry.

The yarn itself is made in a zero-waste, zero-emission facility in Japan, then constructed at a SA8000-certified factory in Hanoi. To be as transparent as possible, all their recycled fabric is Standard 100 as certified by Oeko-tex. As an eco-conscious brand, they use only 100% recycled and recyclable packaging. In fact, when my sister presented her gift to me, she brought it in its original packaging unwrapped, just the way I like it. The leggings were inside a reusable pouch that was placed in a large brown paper envelope embossed with “Girlfriend Collective” in gold print. “I know how you find wrapping paper wasteful, so here you go,” she said with a big old grin on her face. That, alone, was a great gift.

DSC01449

The verdict? Fantastic compressive leggings! I am 5’1″ and 97 pounds and purchased the black color with a 23″ inseam. It goes right to my ankle. (I love that they have three length options because that is the most difficult part about pants for shorties like myself).

The compression is strong enough that it keeps me warm on cooler days and 6am runs. I ran in it for the first time and three miles were a breeze. Since I’ve always worn capris, I was worried that the ankle length would be too warm for running but it was not. The material of the legging is on the thicker side, but I tend to run cold anyway.

The waistline goes pretty high (above my belly button) without any bunching. I am a huge fan of high-rise in general and did not notice the pants ride up at all. In fact, it stayed put throughout my entire run! Despite being a gangly stick figure, there was no extra material anywhere. Their size guide was fairly accurate, however, it leans towards the smaller side and if you are unsure, I would order a size up. Lastly, there’s a pocket on the back where I can keep a key if need be.

It’s a beautiful pant for both yoga and running. I think it’s also as good for everyday lounge wear. I can see myself wearing these pants out during the weekends paired with some AllBirds or Tevas, T-shirt tucked in or a sweater half-tucked. This would complete any coffee shop outfit, or any stay-at-home mandate. I would highly recommend.

DSC01462

To learn more about their sustainability, this page is worth checking out, and girlfriend, GC is worth getting behind.

Other alternative options I came across are listed below.

  • Prana– Mike and I bought Prana hiking pants when we got married in preparation for a honeymoon filled with hikes in New Zealand. To this day, more than three years later, we wear the exact same hiking pants on every trip we take. We’ve hiked Banff, Juneau, New Zealand, Germany, and so much more. I absolutely love those pants and it has seen us through some very tough treks. I’ve fallen on slippery jagged rocks or walked through prickly reeds without incident. Prana is a company extremely dedicated to creating sustainable clothing. From farm to factory to your closet, you can rest assured that they have thought of a way to reduce the impact of their clothing on the environment. Their social responsibility initiatives include using Fair-Trade certified materials, overseeing the supply chain, complying with the Fair Labor Association and creating a movement for Positive Change. Their eco-conscious acts include choosing organic cotton, recycled wool, responsible down, and bluesign-approved products. They are currently having a sale this weekend until the 22nd of June – up to 60% OFF.
  • Everlane– The thing I can give to Everlane is their dedication to transparency. They have made ethical clothing affordable and mainstream, which is something I can get behind. And they publish the costs into making each item of clothing – extra work most companies aren’t willing to do. My one gripe with Everlane is a sizing issue. I am 5 feet 1 inch and 96 pounds, and I find most of their sizing too small which goes to say that the brand doesn’t help with the body shaming culture that exists in the fashion industry. While I can appreciate that there are now sizes that fit me, I would be willing to forego that pleasure and wear over-sized tees if it means a person my size doesn’t feel the need to size up to a medium and a person closer to normal size doesn’t feel the pressures of a slim world.
  • Organic Basics – Organic Basics makes the most luxurious products. I have written about their Intimates collection previously, but am happy to include them here as a a source for ethically made active wear. Not only are their practices clean, their products are some of the most gorgeous things. Their active collection features SilverTECH which is a Polygiene fabric made from recycled plastics in GOTS and SA8000 certified factories. TheDebtist readers receive an additional 10% OFF using the discount code DEBTISTOBC. 
  • Outdoor Voices – This company has designed their products with longevity and circularity in mind. Their prioritization of raw materials (both in packaging and in fabrics) has greatly reduced their environmental impact. But their dedication does not stop there. Additional initiatives help to reduce their company’s impact, including running a stipend-based carless commuter program, incorporating sustainable design elements in new builds, such as recycled rubber flooring, launching partnerships with WWF, The Nature Conservancy, and CHOOOSE to generate funds for and drive education around sustainability, conservation and carbon offsetting, and eliminating single-use plastics from all community events. For all these reasons, I would recommend trying their active wear.
  • Patagonia – Patagonia has been at the forefront of sustainable active wear for many years. They sell everything from camping gear to winter sports clothing. Their products are easily accessible through REI.
  •  Groceries Apparel – Lastly, I just recently came across this brand and do not know much about it except that they boast tracing the source of a product from seed to factory. They only use 100% GMO-free, Pesticide & Herbicide-free, Recycled & Fair-traded Ingredients. Additionally, they are supporting family farms, localized manufacturing, living wages, and Monsanto-free post-consumer ingredients. I am curious to try their leggings, although they make non-active wear, too.

DSC01451

Small Space Living

Tip 13: Mason Jar and Ceramic Pitcher Vases

The one thing about living in a tiny home is that there is not much storage room. It isn’t such a problem when there’s not much to store, and for some people, therein lies the rub. I have friends who are affronted by the suggestion of living life without simple “essentials”. Case in point: vases. On the flip side, I have other friends who roll their eyes at such frivolity. Both sides get along just fine with each other and that’s the whole point. It doesn’t matter much which camp you sit in as long as whatever lifestyle you have matches your space. Well, rather, whatever space you have matches your lifestyle.

If I am being completely honest, I own one vase. It’s a tall, cylindrical, long-stemmed glass vase that was given to me by a friend from dental school years ago. I’ve tried to de-clutter it a handful of times, but to no avail. It holds no more than 6 tulips, and funny enough, I have never used it. I suppose this means de-cluttering it definitely requires a revisit…

Which, in my opinion, puts me in the latter camp. When flowers find themselves in our home, I am more likely to grab a mason jar or a ceramic pitcher that we bought during our honeymoon in New Zealand than that darn vase. I have an affinity for assigning twenty functions to household items, if possible, so both solutions actually make me appreciate the bouquet more. There’s something gleeful about re-purposing stuff. Maybe THAT’s why I never use my actual vase. It’s too singular in purpose thus making it unattractive.

DSC01430

Either way, look. It doesn’t matter whether you like a lot of stuff or a little stuff. It matters more that you love what you do have and use them often and well. It’s important that your things are beautiful in your eyes, even if it’s “just” a mason jar in other people’s eyes. To you, it could be a storage for bulk items, a container for a new candle, a get-together-party-favor holding your famous enchilada sauce, a jar holding homemade jam, a refreshing water glass (or lemonade or wine), or a vase. Maybe I’ve spent too long making do with what I’ve got. It sure as hell isn’t a bad way to live.

Nothing gives me more joy making something out of nothing – vases included.

DSC01433

Thank you to Sonia for the lovely flowers. 

If you happen to be a vase person, East Fork Pottery is releasing a new bud vase today at 12pm EST. Hand-thrown in their beautiful soapstone glaze, they are a perfect addition to a ‘minimalist’ home.

Curating Closet: Tevas

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

It  seems unbelievable to say, but summer is finally here. Days spent outdoors, exploring nature, laying out on beaches, barbecuing in backyards drinking lemonade – these are the things I imagine when I think of my favorite months of the year. Which then seems suitable that I talk briefly about a summer sandal option that allows for all of that and then some  in a sustainable, eco-friendly way.

Prior to today, my beach sandals were rubber-soled Birks that I bought in college at $25 a pair. They are scuffed, falling apart, and many many years old. But as I travel around the sun for the thirty first time, I was gifted with a new pair of sandals that are more suited to my personality and lifestyle. You heard that right. A new pair. As in, just one.

I’ve already said my fair share about curating closets and shoes but today I want to talk about why this pair checks off all the boxes on the list when it comes to summer sandals.

DSC01405

I like to have only one pair of jandals, as kiwis call them. It simplifies the act of dressing up. I prefer to have a sensible color, so I don’t have to worry about whether or not the outfit makes a good fit. I know exactly what I will choose to wear shall my feet volunteer themselves to a bit of sand or a plunge in water. However, the problem with water-proof options is that they are hard to come by made in sustainable ways.

Introducing The Original Universal Teva sandal. Teva has committed to using 100% recycled plastic for the straps that tie your feet oh-so-comfortably to the sole of this shoe. Over 9 million bottles are kept out of landfills, broken down into tiny plastic particles that the ocean never dost see,  and then transformed into yarn that is used to form the webbing for your feetsies. The initiative to use 100% recycled PEVA to make ALL straps for this sandal began just this year.

DSC01414

On top of that, they are working closely with their partners to reduce water usage since 2017, thus saving 380 million gallons of water. If you are interested in other sandal options, they are also offering vegan friendly sandals by partnering tanneries certified by Leather Tanning Group and supporting the Better Cotton Initiative. Lastly,  they are dedicated to using less packaging, and since 2017 have reduced their weight of packaging by nearly 4.6 million pounds. It was nice to actually unwrap a gift sans plastic.

DSC01400

As if this jargon isn’t satisfying enough, I must say that the sandals are extremely comfortable on the feet and stay put for other, more strenuous activities such as hiking, crossing streams, scrambling a few rocks… Honestly though, you’ll more likely find me wearing these guys to brunch paired with a plain black T-shirt dress or a white summer frock. In the Spring and Fall, I would likely pair these with my Levis jeans and a crewneck tee or cozy sweater. It’s as no fuss as it gets – a perfect, practical addition to any closet, curated or no.

DSC01409

DSC01407

Below, I list a few other sustainable sandal options, if you are searching:

+ Mohinders – For another beach friendly shoe, I would turn to Mohinders. These handmade slides are great for walking in the sand. I also love their clogs which are perfect for wearing around the house. Mohinders is a show company that works with 3rd and 4th generation shoe-making families, and the quality of their small batch shoes is undeniable.

+ Nisolo – Nisolo is undoubtedly my go-to shoe company. While most of their leather goods aren’t suited to bodies of water, I do stand behind their huaraches for other summery activities such as barbecues and picnics in the park. I own this white pair of huaraches and my sister-in-law owns the almond and my roommate owns the brandy. It’s a well-made, well-loved shoe. I also own the Isla Slide in a Brandy color that they no longer make, but this black version is a great alternative.

+ Bryr Clogs – For the dressier occasion, Bryr clogs provide great sandal options to pair with formal dresses for cocktail parties, baby showers, and weddings. I’ve got my eye on this pretty number, myself.