Gift Guide: Gender-Neutral Valentine’s Day Gifts Under $35

Clouds marked the end of a sunny January. Yesterday, the winds blew incessantly, knocking over plants on our balcony, as if to say, “Here I am. February!” Just around the corner, Cupid is readying the arrows, perhaps hoping the wind carries some of them home this year. I like to imagine the arrows are for everyone, and come at no cost. I imagine it’s what the world needs right now. In hopes of making Saint Valentine proud, here’s a gender-neutral valentine’s day gift guide, for cheap.

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I admit that celebrating holidays has increasingly become a thing for me these past two years. Perhaps it was the pandemic that turned me around. I feel the need to give recognition to the little traditions we still keep. Sometimes, it’s all we have to connect the before to the after; a single stray line, thin as hair, which I cling onto like a rope holding me above the waves.

This year, I was hoping to do a bit of traveling for Valentine’s Day. We spent an evening sprawled out on a wool rug, searching for the perfect getaway. Alas, we just couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. Travel costs have sky-rocketed, and the industry certainly has not missed this commercially-driven holiday. We came to the conclusion that spending $500 a night for a hotel, or $150 a person for a pre-fixe meal just wasn’t in line with our financial goals, or our personalities. In true fashion, disappointment was replaced with a challenge: To come up with an equally satisfying, frugal Valentine’s Day celebration weekend.

Quickly, we traded in gift-giving for ideas. We swore to cross off every activity from our wish list. Visions of Lego pieces gifted on a Christmas morn and strewn on the dining table that we still have not received flitted in front of my eyes. Talk of Saturday picnics on the green as we listen to free music in the neighborhood made me smile. We have yet to study the starry sky in our new mountainous area. “We’ve got a hammock for that!” Or trek the trails where the coyotes roam. One by one, we made our plan and promises.

In light of that, I did include a few activity ideas with each gift. A little freebie that I hope sparks appreciation for the person that you’ve probably spent the most time with these past few years. After all this time, I still have a soft spot for the simple things.

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Holiday Gift Guide for Her

Last week, I posted a holiday gift guide for him. Today, I am posting one for her, with the caveat that the ‘her’ I am envisioning is a person similar to me. This may lead to disappointment, especially if you are looking to astound with diamond rings and glittery gowns, or if you are looking for the latest clothing or shoe recommendations. However, I have hope that there is something useful here for the modern femme in your life; that leading lady, boss chic, super heroine, extremely active go-getter, et cetera.

Other Gift Guides for Her

Holiday Gift Guide for Her

  • I have been dying for this digital notepad for years. The Remarkable 2.0 looks amazing. I love to write but my minimalist tendencies has gotten me to throw away countless notepads over the past few years. This notepad looks super sleek and seems to have a good paper-feel to it. I heard great things about the pen and the accuracy when translating from notepad to other devices. The slim profile looks quite modern and I can see myself writing more each day with this notepad around. It is on sale right now, for that really special someone. $300.
  • As much as I have been dying to get the Remarkable 2.0, I have made the conscious decision to buy a Surface Pro Pen to go with my Surface Pro instead. I have owned a Surface Pro for more than five years and really love it! It is a great option for minimalists who primarily use their computer for basic blogging and web-surfing. Buying a Surface Pro Pen was more cost-efficient, even though the feel is just not the same. I found I haven’t been reaching for it as much as a pen and paper, because the pen writing on the Surface pad still feels too digital. But the pen did provide me that happy medium between keeping notebooks around and buying the Remarkable 2.0. $99
  • No matter what, I keep a physical daily planner with me 100% of the time. It’s the only paper source I can’t shake. This daily planner by Unbound is the best planner I have ever used! If you have a gal who loves to plan, gift her this planner for 2022. She will love it! If you want another option, I wrote a list of Top 5 Planners here. $52
  • All of my friends have recently gotten into smart watches. This Fit Bit Inspire 2 with the white band looks so chic and does the job in a minimal way. A watch like this can really help someone hit their wellness and fitness goals. All my gal pals are stoked about their Fit Bit watches. $70
  • Alternatively, give the gift of relaxation and flexibility with this Manduka yoga strap. It takes up small real estate in the home but gets the job done. $16
  • This bag is just right for the shy vocalist in your life. Some people want to spread a message without having to get behind a speaker or mic. And why not get them the matching sock, too? $18-28
  • Give the gift of a strong boy brow. This brow stick from Glossier is my favorite make-up item in my minimalist arsenal. It was game-changer, and the perfect anti-dote to when I’m feeling glum. $16
  • Ocean lovers and cat lovers will equally love this phone case from Pela, plus other beige cases this way. $54
  • This is the perfect knife set for a gal who loves to cook. It’s minimalist, modern, and just stunning! The wood display comes in a few colors, but the trio would look just as nice on a steel magnetic plate. I am always on the lookout for simple solutions and these three are really all you need in your knife block. $125
  • And for the non-cooks, this Beast Blender is revolutionizing mornings for women everywhere. Make a healthy smoothie, throw in some collagen powder and protein, and top off with a to-go lid. (W+P Design has a few cute insulated bottles that I’ve been curious to try.) My friend got this blender and has all good things to say. Her husband is also using it on the daily now. This is the perfect no-fuss solution for those who love to sleep in a little extra, or leave home a little early. And it cleans up well! $185
  • Rather, you could just gift her the most amazing collagen ever! I love Thrive Market’s collagen. I can really feel and see the effects. I have also tried the Vital Proteins Collagen and I must say that Thrive Market’s is wayyy better. I throw this into my smoothie bowls and bone broth to keep my skin, hair and nails looking happy and healthy. $25

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Holiday Gift Guide for Him

I am definitely a gift giver and there’s nothing I like more than shopping for someone else. This is especially true for my husband. I never have trouble finding gifts and I enjoy imagining what a guy would want to receive. Of course, it usually ends up being things that I want, too! Convenient, huh? Haha. Luckily, my significant other is extremely easy-going. I know that we are coming upon the holidays soon, so here is a last-minute holiday gift guide for him! Some of these items are actually on Mike’s wishlist this year. Then again, about half are things I would like for myself, as well. I also tried to include frugal alternatives to the more wildly expensive stuff. Since when did things cost so much?

Alternatively, a more simple holiday:

Holiday Gift Guide for Him

  • A water carbonator that’s easy on the eyes. Mike never drinks enough water. But water carbonators can make drinking water a real joy, rather than a chore. Help your guy create the habit of staying hydrated by sprucing up his drink. Moreover, this carbonator from Aarke is so pretty to look at, it totally solves the issue of putting it away every time versus keeping it out. Technically, this makes it a gift for me, too! Haha. There are seven colors to choose from. I personally love this beautiful ‘Sand’ color! Yuppie water, here he comes. $249
  • Of course, sometimes it’s the little things that makes all the difference. I fortified my water-drinking habit by buying one of these Ikea pitchers with a lid. I have it on my desk with a glass every day, and refill as needed. It makes water within arms reach and constantly accessible, without breaking the piggy bank. Plus, it is such a joy to pour from, and the lid keeps all the dust bunnies out! $4
  • This toaster seriously deserves all the hype. We have owned this Balmuda toaster for many months now and we use it almost daily. My husband cannot get enough bread, and Balmuda has revolutionized the way toasters reheat our gluten-full foods. We’ve been dishing out some perfect toasts and life couldn’t be any better. Just like the Aarke, it comes in multiple colors, which allows you to match your appliances (again, a pro for me!). $300
  • If you don’t want to drop $300 on the Balmuda, this beautiful toaster by Hay Design runs at a cheaper price point. It’s for toast and sliced bread only, but sometimes, that’s all your kitchen needs! $95
  • My guy is a coffee guy. Therefore, coffee gear is always being upgraded at our house. We have owned the Fellow Stagg stovetop kettle for years, but decided to upgrade to the Balmuda Electric Kettle when we upgraded our toaster and I haven’t gone back since! This kettle is petite and beautiful to hold in my tiny hands. The weight is ergonomically balanced and I don’t experience severe forward tipping like I do with the Fellow Kettle. Additionally, the indicator light at the end of the handle has a moody orange glow to it, which really makes my gloomy mornings. And it heats up way quicker than the stovetop kettles! We have this in white and use it almost daily. We are now Balmuda people, what can I say? $150
  • When Mike heard I was publishing a ‘Gift Guide for Him’ post, he told me that I needed to add Miir mugs to the list. He got a free 12 oz. camp mug from his company and uses it every day for his coffee. That surprised me because the internal is metal and ideally you want a glass vessel for coffee. But he swears by it and loves that it keeps his drink warm. So I guess there you have it! From the coffee lover, himself. $25
  • Mike and my brother have both gotten into training for marathons recently. They’ve also both gotten a watch to help improve their running. Mike got this Coros Pace 2 Watch and has been loving it! The watch is extremely light-weight and minimalist. My brother purchased a more intense Garmin watch that includes GPS tracking since he goes on multi-day hikes in national parks as well. Both have enjoyed not carrying their cell phones around when they are out in nature. Mike loves that the Coros Pace 2 has no music capabilities, which allows him to think on his long runs. I haven’t seen him enjoy a product this much in a long time. $200
  • If your guy is more like me and has no intention of running a marathon, but wants to get into shape, this Fit Bit Inspire 2 has really been inspiring me these days. And they’re going for only $65 a pop!
  • One of Mike’s best guy friends defines air-frying as cooking. I swear, everything he makes for dinner requires an air-fryer. If yours is the same, maybe getting a nice one this year would be a good idea. The best part – this one is dishwasher safe! Simplifying life in 2022, yeah? $90
  • What guy doesn’t love pizza? This Ooni pizza oven is a year-round gift, perfect for pizzas in the park, as well as cozy winter pizza parties! This has a minimal profile that would fit inside a tiny home. It is portable and having one in your friend group can be quite useful. Pool party, anyone? I would prefer one of these on our balcony over a grill. That would be a dream! $400
  • If you can’t quite stomach buying an entire oven, I’ve personally got my eyes set on this pizza stone by Emile Henry. It will work just as well in a kitchen oven! $55
  • My husband is really into the crypto-world. He had asked for, and received, a Nano Ledger last year. Now that crypto is becoming more relevant, perhaps this epic drive would be a great gift. Store coins off the web in this hard wallet. The security is well worth it at only $60.
  • This Theragun Mini is perfect for guys who like to go to the gym. Muscle relaxation is just as important as exercise! $199
  • Mikey himself opted for a cheaper alternative on his wishlist, which is a foam roller. This Lululemon roller has gotten a lot of attention for it’s dual capabilities. It is also available in a mini version, designed for people on the move! I would definitely carry this roller to the gym, yoga class, or dental office! Plus, it’s got this great marble print, making it approved to be left out in an inconspicuous corner of the living room. $58 for the regular, $38 for the mini.
  • Here is another gift on Mikey’s wishlist this year: a cocktail smoker top/smoke stack. A perfect gift for your personal mixologist, or the next Manhattan lover. $60

I really hope you found this holiday gift guide for him useful. As always, feel free to share what you got your significant other! Crowd-sourcing is the absolute best.

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10 Minimalist Humidifiers for Winter 2021

In this space, I talk a lot about skin care routines and hydration. If you’ve been here long enough, you would know that both qualify as forms of intentional living and self-care in my book. However, as the winter season approaches, we must consider the air quality in our homes, too. I have written before about improving air quality with Molekule’s Air Purifier, but I have yet to address humidifiers. Well, today’s the day I reveal 10 minimalist humidifiers for this winter!

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Why Get A Humidifier?

In general, I have trouble justifying the need for home appliances. My upbringing has always been of the minimalist variety, in a bear-it, tough-skin kind of way. The AC was never on. The heater was an even worse contraption. Put on a sweater and socks if you must. Dry noses and cracked lips meant I wasn’t drinking enough water. And sniffly noses were a sure-fire sign that we weren’t taking care of our health. But never was it the environment’s fault.

Perhaps as I’ve aged, I’ve become a bit weak. I find myself less resistant to summer’s heat. I find my hair starting to fray in the Fall. Regardless, I have also become more aware and knowledgeable. I know that air humidity plays a big role in the health and well-being of our skin as well as our airways. I know that we have the means to create the correct environment that allows us to thrive. And I’ve become more accepting of appliances.

The turn of Fall and our recent move to the mountainside has really had a negative effect on my skin. I decided to round-up minimalist humidifiers that would work with any home. Since I would want my humidifier to run all season long, I am requiring that the humidifier be esthetically pleasing and not an eye-sore. In my case, this requires that it also be white. Call me a Scandinavian-styled-snob, but the white color will allow my appliance to blend into my space. Even my Balmuda toaster and kettle are white! This list includes a fairly wide range of prices, and shapes. Never did I realize before how many shape options we had to choose from. Alas, there’s got to be one for you here somewhere.

Ten Options for A Minimalist Humidifier

  • FridaBaby – I’ve personally used the FridaBaby humidifier years ago and it worked fairly well for small spaces. I wasn’t completely in love with the shape but it was quiet! It also has a nightlight function which would work well in a kid’s or baby’s room. Mothers seem to love this and you can find it in major stores such as Target, BuyBuyBaby, and Pottery Barn Kids.
  • Stadler – This is one of the more expensive options but it is also the most practical looking. I love the square shape and stand. I can see this positioned on the floor next to my desk or living room couch. This one in particular has received many positive reviews. I heard that it sees less build-up compared to other humidifiers! To avoid build-up, I use only distilled water, but for those who just don’t have it on hand, this is a great option.
  • Vava – This is a very affordable option. Online, reviewers say that this one is silent. My favorite feature of the Vava is that you fill it with water from the top. Most humidifiers require you to fill a giant tub, and then somehow invert it onto a platform without spilling any water. Well-known secret: I always spill water. It isn’t the biggest deal, but I love the ease of this one! Plus, I love that it looks as clean as a modern speaker or Molekule Air Purifier.
  • InnoGear – This humidifier is a great option for the frugal, as it is the cheapest on this list. It isn’t very big, but I can see it sitting on a work desk. It will certainly add to your work-from-home space. I can also see this on a nightstand next to the bed. It’s small size makes it ideal for portable use. What a perfect little travel companion!
  • Roolen – Roolen is an eco-friendly operating system that automatically adjusts output based on the current environment. It senses what the air humidity is and maintains the air at the ideal 40-60% range. Roolen is a smart humidifier, and if you’re a techy one, this might be the answer for you. It does lie on the pricier side of the spectrum.
  • Objecto – I added this Objecto humidifier for it’s unique shape. Although it isn’t necessarily my style, a lot of home decor stores really favor this one. Its glossy appearance makes it look more like a work of art than a humidifier.
  • Crane – Crane was the humidifier with the most reviews. It seems everyone chooses Crane. It is nice to look at, but the orange decal really bothers me. I just want something less … obviously branded? If that doesn’t bother you, then this may be a decent option as many people have purchased and liked it.
  • Canopy – I like to look for options that speak to millennials and the younger generation. Canopy really fits the bill for college students. It has a cute look to it, and a fairly large tank. My favorite part is the dish-washer feature of its components. I mean, who knows what lies in a dorm room? Who has the time to clean a humidifier? The solution: Live free of mold by dishwashing this beauty once a week. Just a great invention!

Of course, this wouldn’t be a complete round-up without opening the door for your recommendations. If you have a humidifier you absolutely enjoy, please leave it in the comments below!

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Gift Guide: Housewarming

In my opinion, the perfect housewarming gifts come in the form of consumables. My preferred list include a bottle of red wine or bubbly for celebrating, a bundle of palo santo for clearing the air, or a few boxes of to-go food for the movers and the newly moved. I have also baked pastries, brought candles, and gifted bath soaps and lotions. Something simple goes a long way. Suffice it to say, I bring housewarming gifts meant to be used and discarded, for fear of cluttering someone else’s new abode. I avoid burdening others with gifts that they may eventually outgrow, or worse yet, dislike from the get-go. So, I play it safe, sticking to my guns with the whole consumables thing.

But what of my own home? Well, that’s a different story. In line with the literal meaning of the word ‘housewarming’, I look for pieces that would add warmth to my space. I like tiny touches or useful gadgets that make the living-in more pleasurable. This is all aligned with my belief that things should be both functional and beautiful. I use new things to create the intentional life I envision for me and my family.

With the recent move into our new townhome, I have been sourcing a few brands that I think would really add a nice touch to our space. Below are a few items I have my eyes on.

Housewarming Gift Guide

For additional gift guides, right this way.

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Gift Guide: Father’s Day

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Last year, the blog’s most popular gift guide was the one for Father’s Day. Y’allll I can relate!! My old man himself has been notoriously difficult to shop for, because he always says he doesn’t need anything. Dads are like that, I guess. Truth of the matter is, it’s not that my pa doesn’t need anything. It’s more so that he doesn’t feel deserving of luxurious gifts and frivolous items. Practical to the tee.

But fathers are equally deserving of a day of rest, an afternoon of enjoyment, a bit of luxury and celebration. I feel like I’ve exhausted all my good ideas in last year’s list, but I will try again this year for the sake of all humble fathers around the world. This is for you. Happy Father’s Day!

Gift Guide: Celebrating Frugal Minimalists

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As a frugal minimalist, there are two things I want to normalize when it comes to receiving gifts: Gifts under $25 and consumable items. I know it sounds silly, but for many years, I have struggled with the privilege of receiving gifts from loved ones that I (in all honesty) give away or throw in the trash (if I can’t return them, of course). I have expressed multiple times that I would prefer not to receive anything during holiday celebrations because of the wasteful saga that follows each one. Alas, I have found myself born into a gift-giving family, who, after many years of reproachful, miserable, and difficult conversations, has finally started to hear my wishes. Gift giving is my love language (believe it or not) but I want to receive gifts that I love or need. My actions may come across as ungrateful but nothing pains me more than receiving a gift that does not belong in my life. That’s why I always have to get rid of them right away – because they remind me of thoughtlessness and they hurt my feelings.

For gift-givers who ascribe to the idea that affection is proportional to a price tag, please hear me, a person who LOVES gifts, but believes that this is not true. I am a frugal minimalist. I would love gifts that fit both of those categories. I think the best way to show love to a similar friend or family member that you may have is to follow two simple rules.

  1. Keep the price tag under $25. I remember the gifts I received in my childhood for my birthday. They were always under $25, and they were all perfectly generous gifts! Since when did gifts start costing $50-$100? Did we all decide to participate in a game of one-upping each other and that’s how the baseline for gifts escalated? Did our gifts increase with our age, or our salary? Do gifts increase our status? Because surely it depreciates our wealth, let alone devoid our meaningfulness at being a loving friend or family member. If your friend is a frugalist, they will likely be stressing about the amount of dollars you spent on them. If they’re like me, they would be considering all the better buys your money could have been used for. We need to normalize the idea that $25 is generous, still. We have to change our mindsets about that, or go broke trying to impress the people in our ever-growing networks.
  2. Buy consumable gifts. I like gifts that are meant to be used and will no longer be around a year later. I stress about clutter around me and constantly clear my surroundings. Don’t bother buying decor items or things that have no use for your minimal friend. Gift something that will live out the course of their life and then be gone. The world changes so fast these days, so do you really think a person will like the same thing a few years from now? I change my mind all the time, so I certainly don’t.

Chances are, your own frugal minimalist has been trying to communicate these things to you for years. They may feel frustrated, stressed, or guilty at receiving lavish gifts from their friends and family. Worse, they may feel pressured to return the favor, even though it goes against their values. I think it’s time to normalize less expensive, consumable stuffs. In order to help others celebrate their own frugal minimalist, I am publishing a gift guide that will be helpful to all others like me.

Gift Guide: Moms On The Go

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When I look at moms these days, I wonder how in the world god-send super humans came to be. Although I am not one such being, I imagine a modern day mama to be extremely well-organized, balancing society’s expectations of being a nourishing provider to their families, a hard worker who may or may not contribute financially (but should be getting paid none-the-less), a fit athlete concerned about well-being and overall health, a never-ending source of emotional support, and on top of that, a model socialite, well-informed and light-hearted – a person who never loses her cool, has time to see her friends, and holds everyone’s schedules, down to the second, together.

Of course, this is exactly the kind of perfect imagery that would be strong enough to break any warrior. I personally do not agree that the standard we hold for mothers require my writing a run-on sentence. Yet, still, I see mamas be this exact lionheart day in and day out. Which begs the question of what mamas really need to support their crusade. Sure, I would love to give all mama’s a few days of rest throughout the week, although I am sure some would be satisfied enough with a few moment’s of sleep. But what of it afterwards? They go back to being the champions of our families, and I can’t help but think that the best gifts to give would be those that support their daily activity. Because super mamas, they don’t stop. Mine didn’t, even after we’ve all left the nest. And neither did my father’s. There’s something about them that always keep them on the go. They are heroes deserving of our protection and support, and because of that, I’ve wrangled together a list of special items that my very own modern mama would use.

If you liked this and would like more ideas, you may also want to check out last year’s suggestions centered around giving mothers the rest they need.