Natural Nail Rituals with Bare Hands

I have always loved simplicity and a humble aesthetic. Even when it comes to fashion and beauty, I lean towards function and comfort. It has to look good too, but we can all find beauty in the mundane, everyday things. I have a penchant for the unappreciated as you may well know. So it’s only natural that my interest was piqued when I came across the brand Bare Hands, founded by Suzanne Shade who hopes to create an alternative to routine manis and pedis. Finally, I found a person glorifying the beauty of our nails’ most natural state.

We are not taught to love natural nails.

When I was young and going to dental school, there was a cardinal rule that applied only to women: Nails must not be painted with chemical color lest someone has an allergic reaction to any ingredient. I remember the rule feeling constrictive as a twenty-something year old female. Friends my age were just making their first paychecks, and taking care of themselves through manicures and pedicures. Attending social gatherings where girls were dolled up, sipping cocktails with their glossy nails made me feel what Anna Delvey would only describe as ‘poor‘.

I was embarrassed by my naked nails. They looked grungy after working with putty, plaster, and stone all week. My nails were dull, ragged, and downright ugly. I caught myself occasionally hiding them in my pockets or under the table. When Friday came around, I reserved an hour in the evening to paint them, only to remove the color by Sunday night. There was no way I could afford a mani/pedi, which runs at around $50 with tip. Beauty, it turns out, can also be expensive.

But the definition of beauty is changing.

Historically the idea of beauty has been elevated to unnatural levels. For some women, that also makes it unattainable. Just like makeup hides our natural facial features, polish hides our natural nails. We are always told to hide. Or reach for better. We are never enough.

The problem with covering ourselves in paint and powder is that we create a facade that’s a difficult standard to maintain. It complicates things. It keeps us from doing real work. More importantly, it keeps us from being ourselves.

I am grateful to see a shift in that thinking.

Simplicity is beautiful.

There is beauty in simplicity. We see that today, as more people turn towards minimalism, slow living, and intentional lifestyle choices. It started with the popularization of a natural looking brow. Then followed the revered diastema, a gap between the front two teeth. Makeup became more neutral as fashion styles veered towards chromophobia. Today, the rich aesthetic encompasses those along the greige spectrum of browns and greens. Think of stone-colored Porsches and neutral Yeezies. And we see this aesthetic translating to the nail industry.

Enter the era of natural nails.

Bare Hands is a brand revamping what the nail industry would consider beautiful. Gone are the days of bright colored polish, long fake nails, and glittery coats. If it isn’t neutral, it just isn’t posh. At least, that is the current consensus. But what of unpolished nails altogether? Suzanne has created a natural, healthy, and sustainable method for nail care.

As a dentist, baker, and dog-walker, having painted nails is problematic most of the time. And while I love getting fancy with my collection of curated J. Hannah polishes, I go without polish for more than half of the month for the sake of simplicity. Painted nails chip on oft used hands. Moreover, no one wants synthetic oils in their mouths or their dough. For many us who work in kitchens, studios, farms, and medical offices, painted nails are just not a sustainable option.

Additionally, maintenance is a pain. The amount of time it takes to put on and take off polish is significant if you add on dry-time. If you paint your nails weekly, this could be one and a half hours per week spent on upkeep. And it is expensive. Some women have reported spending $200 a month or more on nail care alone!

Suzanne created an alternative.

Suzanne is a woman after my own heart. She has always loved the look of natural nails. And as a frugalist, she could not fathom spending a fortune to keep up with the Joneses’ social standards. Her penchant for bare nails stems from her studies in art school. After learning that certain oil-based paints are not healthy for fine art use, she started to question why it was accepted for nail color.

So began her quest to get to the root cause of why women feel the need to paint their nails. Part of it is social, yes. Seeing others at that heightened level of beauty is a factor. However, she also discovered that most women simply did not like the appearance of their nails. And none of them had methods to care for it in a natural way.

Take me for example. Every week, I am baking sourdough, working on a farm, doing dentistry, and picking up dog poop. My hands take a beating. My nails are shot. It’s easier to cover up all that wear and tear. Polish is my pretend way of making my nails pretty. But after discovering the Dry Gloss Manicure from Bare Hands, I no longer have to hide.

The Dry Gloss Manicure by Bare Hands

The Dry Gloss Manicure kit is very simple and easy to use. A tutorial on their website taught me how to use it within minutes. The routine includes caring for your cuticles, buffing your nails to reveal a natural shine, and moisturizing with a citrine oil. You can soften the cuticles using sugar and coconut oil, ingredients already in your kitchen pantry. The kit provides a unique buffing tool and a citrine oil pen packaged in a beautiful leather case, shipped without plastic in a cardboard box.

I have actually made a habit of using the dry gloss manicure each night while I am watching TV or listening to a podcast. It has made a huge difference. I admire my nails often nowadays. I open my palm and try to catch a glint of natural light. On top of that, I am obsessed with the citrine oil, that I just might buy a bottle of it by itself from the site. It smells amazing and really moisturizes the dry skin around my nails!

Join the Movement

I think it’s time we embrace natural nails. Doing so will not only save us time and money, it will also save us from the related stresses. Namely, we no longer have to keep up with the Joneses, limit our movements and tasks, and hold ourselves to an impossible standard. We can embrace ourselves, do more of what we love, and feel confident in our skin.

Deep, deep gratitude to Suzanne for allowing me to try the Dry Gloss Manicure kit. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own. If you wish to try the manicure yourself, feel free to use my code DEBTIST15 to receive 15% off all products. This is a one-time use code per person, and any links provided in this post are tied to my audience, although I earn no money from them. There is also a newly released Natural Pedicure Set which has a verbena balm for your heels. I can only imagine it being as lovely as the citrine oil. These two are great small gestures for the hard-working girlfriends in your life, but if you wish, there is a Mani Pedi Pairing that makes a grand gift. It also saves you $6 by buying the combo.

Spring Cleaning: 100+ Things to Declutter

Spring is in full swing in the Golden State. Gloomy rainy days intermittently sprinkle their way between days that mimic summer weather, coaxing us poolside a few months earlier than expected. I guess that means it’s time to spring clean. Thanks to our ultimate cleaning list, we don’t need to spend time cleaning our home any more than we already do. Rather, Spring cleaning takes on a larger focus. Now is a great time to cleanse not just our homes, but our bodies, minds, and souls that which does not serve us. This may seem like a large task, but we can take it a step at a time. I have found that the best and easiest place to start is in our physical space. Let’s start Spring cleaning with 100 things to declutter.

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Decluterring changed my life. I became a minimalist after getting rid of the stuff that did not add value to my life. Today, I live a life of gratitude for the few things I own. I spend less time worrying about my things. I have to do less cleaning around the house. And I spend less money, avoiding adding more clutter to my home.

All of these things (saving money, saving time, and worrying less) improved my life significantly. I would consider decluttering as one of the highest forms of self-care. It’s a practice in evaluating life to the fullest, in the hopes of improving it and taking it one step closer to the life I want it to be.

Things I Have Learned During My Decluttering Journey

The art of decluttering is a personal act.

Not everything I declutter needs be decluttered by you. Do not have guilt for wanting to hold on to something that I don’t value. Do not use others as your measuring stick. The goal is to go through the mindful process of being honest with yourself and asking yourself what these items do for your life. Do they give you joy? Add stress? Make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Support your lifestyle and goals? Do what feels right!

Decluttering one category at a time is essential.

In order to have a clear idea as to what does not belong, you need to assess each category fully. You should not jump from room to room and declutter a little bit in each one. As I wrote in the post How to Get Things Done, we need to focus on the ONE thing in order to get great results. In the case of decluttering, focus on each section of this post and you will be more effective at the job!

This is a sequential process for a reason.

Some things are easier to let go of than others. Start with the closet. These items are easier to let go of because it is the area in most homes where we have excess. The closet also contains items that are typically easy to replace, and therefore easier to let go. And usually, people aren’t that attached to their clothes, unless your a fashionista! I would reserve the most difficult categories (such as paper, digital clutter and memorabilia) for last. They will be the hardest, as they can contain personal information that requires a bit of decluttering resolve.

Decluttering is a practice.

Decluttering is surprisingly not easy. Many people feel anguish, guilt, and overwhelm. It’s totally normal and okay to feel that way. I did, too! Decluttering is a practice. If you start to feel these things, stop. Revisit another day. I would recommend taking all of April to finish this decluttering list. It doesn’t have to be done in one day. And just let go of what feels right to you.

You can always declutter again on your birthday as a sign of rebirth. Or before the holidays, in order to prepare yourself for a busy season. Or in the New Year, to start new habits. There will be plenty of other opportunities, and it takes time to build what I call the decluttering muscle! You are doing great just by starting today.

Without further ado, here are more than 100 things you can declutter this Spring, plus a few tips.

100+ Things to Declutter

The Closet

  1. Clothes that still have tags on them. There is a reason those paper tags are still hanging loosely from the labels. You will likely never wear them if you haven’t already. I don’t know about you, but when I get an article of clothing that I am excited about, I rip off the tags and wear it right away. And I wear it every week! Wouldn’t it be nice to feel that much joy and excitement about everything in your closet?
  2. Clothes that don’t fit. Stop saying you will wear it when you lose ‘X’ pounds. Embrace where you are right now and love your body as it is. By holding yourself against a possible future self, you are hurting the present you. How do you expect to get to a goal in the future when you are not supporting the present?
  3. Clothes that you are keeping just because they were a gift. Let go of the guilt you feel. It isn’t worth hanging onto the clothes. Your true friends and family will understand. To be completely honest, it actually helps them choose more intentional gifts for you in the future that you can actually cherish.
  4. Clothes that you have only worn once. Most likely, there is a reason. Whether it is because it doesn’t fit, isn’t your style, or bothers you in some way, take it as your intuitive self telling you to let it go.
  5. Clothes that don’t go with your style or lifestyle. I like to live with a capsule wardrobe that supports what I do throughout the day. You can read How A Capsule Wardrobe For Work Saves Me Money AND Time. You can also see my current capsule wardrobe here.
  6. Clothes that are at the end of their life cycle. I know you love that T-shirt or sweater with a hole on it, but honestly, you can’t wear that outside of the home and does wearing worn down clothing make you feel good? Probably not. You can thank it for its service, and then let it go.
  7. Clothes that are occasion specific. Think graduation robes, bridesmaid dresses, wedding gown and Halloween costumes. Maybe these held some significance at some point, but the memory doesn’t lie in the hanging on to things.
  8. Excess coats. How many people have multiple coats but only wear a handful? How many sweaters do you have? I usually grab for the same puffer jacket and rain slicker. I rotate through a few sweaters when I stay indoors or need to layer. And I keep one fancy wool coat that I absolutely love and is easy to throw on during those cold winter mornings. That’s it!
  9. Multiple swimsuits. I only have one and it is a classic, black one-piece from Summersalt. My advice for curating swimsuits right this way. It has been two years of using my swimsuit almost every other week, and it’s stretching a bit on the sides. I have my eyes on this new release from Vuori, and I am thinking of bravely adding a pop of color in my life.
  10. Multiple sunglasses. I only own this pair from Warby Parker, and it fits every bill.
  11. Excess hangars. After you’ve decluttered the clothes, you should have a bunch of excess hangars.
  12. Socks and underwear with holes in them.
  13. Shoes that are uncomfortable. Our feet do a whole lot of work. They need to have ample support and love from us, and the best way to do that is to wear comfortable shoes.
  14. Shoes that are worn. They have supported you for long enough, and they need to move on too.
  15. Accessories that you never use or only used once.
  16. Accessories that are unnecessary. For example, scarves?
  17. Repeat accessories. How many scrunchies/hats/beanies do you have? Perhaps pick a one or two favorites.
  18. Tarnished jewelry. This goes into a similar category as holey T-shirts. They served their purpose, but these things don’t make you feel good, whether you are aware of it or not.
  19. Broken jewelry and accessories. You will never fix them like you say you will.
  20. Jewelry you never wear. Sometimes we hang onto things because they are pretty, even when they are not useful. Try to remember that even pretty things hold mental space, and that clutter can have negative effects on your body.
  21. Out of style or costume jewelry. I try to avoid trends, for the sole reason that they go out of style. I pay a pretty penny to buy less things that are iconic and last me many years. The jewelry brand J. Hannah is making waves with millennials who wish to buy high-quality, simple, versatile and timeless jewelry at significantly lower price points. It is where I buy my jewelry. My daily jewelry set includes these hoop earrings, this locket necklace, and a discontinued pearl demi ring which has replaced my wedding ring. All are in silver for simplicity and because it is my everyday set, I never even have to think about what jewelry to wear that day.
  22. Multiple purses. I like to keep one main purse with me. This versatile OG2 purse from Lo and Sons functions as my work purse, travel purse, and gym bag. I do hang on to tinier versions such as a mini pouch and a belt bag from Lululemon when I go on errands or simple adventures. A simple trick I use is to put my essentials in a mini pouch that fits in my OG2 purse. Whenever I want to go with less, I just grab the pouch itself without having to repack a single thing.
  23. Worn out hair ties and bobby pins.

Bathroom Products

  1. Make up you never used.
  2. Makeup that doesn’t really go with your style.
  3. Make up that is unnecessary. (I don’t use foundation, eyeshadow, lipstick, blush, highlighters, fake eyelashes, etc…). In my honest opinion, this Everyday Set is the only make-up a gal needs. If you are like me, however, and dislike ingesting lip color, I would personally opt for the Sunday Edit and call it a day. I prefer to use lip balm only on my lips, and carry around a more au naturel look than most.
  4. Old and expired make up. The shelf-life of these things are not as long as most people think.
  5. Nail polish that’s dried up.
  6. Nail polish colors you never use.
  7. Deodorant that’s dried up.
  8. Doubles of certain bath products. Do you horde shampoo bottles? Toothpaste? Lotions from Bed Bath and Beyond?
  9. Extras of bath essentials. Get in the habit of buying only one at a time to decrease clutter. People are always surprised when we tell them we buy toilet paper rolls individually wrapped.
  10. Travel sized toiletries that you collected from your travels.
  11. Old sunscreen.
  12. Expired medicine. I am constantly checking supplement and pain medicine bottles and making sure they are up to date.

Kitchen Items

  1. Kitchen tools that only serve one purpose and can be replaced by another tool. You really only need a set of iconic kitchen tools, like this one from Material Kitchen.
  2. Multiple sets of knives. You only need a set of basic knives. This trio knife set from Material Kitchen is my favorite for minimalists.
  3. Multiple cutlery or tableware sets. One set is all you need. I prefer to go with white tableware and silver cutlery, both dishwasher safe to simplify my life.
  4. Extra mis-matched mugs. I love coffee vessels! But I usually only drink from one or two pieces each season. My advice is to find a mug that you LOVE and make it an everyday mug. You will cherish the routine of drinking coffee more and imbue significance in that one mug when you tie the ritual to an item.
  5. Seasonal tableware. My parents keep Christmas plates to pull out only once a year. I find it to be a shame because their plate set is so beautiful, but hardly used. It must have cost a fortune back in the day too, because it includes a place setting for 12 people!
  6. Repeat items (two wine openers is one too many). People’s homes are riddled with doubles of things, for the just-in-case. Just get rid of doubles and your life will be simpler!
  7. Gadgets that are finnicky, difficult to maintain, or promise ease of use but instead, clutter the space. My mom has an electric juicer, but I opt for a handheld lemon squeezer and that’s it.
  8. Expired foods in the pantry or fridge. Declutter (and deep clean) the fridge every two weeks.
  9. One-time use ingredients and spices that you’ll never use again. The trick is to avoid those complicated recipes that ask for incredibly unique ingredients that you never use!
  10. Organizational tools that, in reality, add clutter (for example, bins and pantry organizers). Recognize them for what they are – just more stuff.
  11. Paper towels and one-time use napkins. Opt for dish rags, bar mops and linen napkins.
  12. Old rags or hand towels. Thin out your collection.
  13. Placemats. I got rid of a set of 12 placemats and replaced it for one oatmeal-colored linen tablecloth. Less to store and clean.
  14. A plethora of serveware. I like multi-functional things and use cutting boards as cheese boards. I don’t have multiple trays, place mats, or serveware. Typically, when we host, I place the bake pan, pot, or roasting tray directly on a few potholders and call it a day. I will admit, I have a few cake stands, which double as appetizer stands when I can help it.
  15. Excess sauce packets and free napkins from your to-go orders.
  16. Excess pots and pans.
  17. Tupperware with missing lids. I have actually been guilty of this one!
  18. Multiple water bottles and travel mugs. I have one water bottle and one travel tumbler, both from an amazing Japanese company called Kinto.
  19. Broken Appliances.
  20. Fridge magnets.
  21. Chip bag clips.
  22. Junk drawers. The name says it all.

Textiles

  1. Spare bedding. I only keep one for each bed.
  2. Excess throw blankets and decorative pillows. Having too many can create the feeling of clutter. A recommendation I have is to keep neutral colors in the same hue. It’s less exhausting to look at than patterns and plenty of color.
  3. Spare towels. Keep only enough for a few guests that you can host. Keep only one set for your family.
  4. Seasonal textiles, such as sheets, pillows, tablecloths and blankets that can only be used during the holidays or special occasions. Opt for a neutral design that fits all occasions and the every day.
  5. Single use table cloths and napkins.

Home Decor

  1. Seasonal home decor that you only use a part of the year.
  2. Figurines or vases that you no longer like.
  3. Picture frames that aren’t really being used.
  4. Artwork that may be cluttering the walls.
  5. Throw pillows that get in the way or are stored in closets.
  6. Multiple candles or old candles. Alternatively, gifted candles with scents you don’t like and would never use.
  7. Collectibles. My mom really loves her collectibles and I would never force anyone to part with something that means a lot to them. But if you once collected beanie babies as a child and they are sitting in a dusty box in the garage, at least ask yourself the question, “Do I really love these as I once did?”

Travel Items

  1. Additional suitcases. We were gifted matching large check-in bags for our honeymoon and we have only used them once – during our honeymoon! It has been more than five years, and as minimalists, we usually need nothing more than an overhead bag, even when we travel for weeks at a time internationally. See my minimalist travel packing tips in this post!
  2. Neck pillows. Toss ’em.
  3. Multiple backpacks. We each have one that we use for everything.

Office

  1. Books that you’ve already read.
  2. That box of 100 pens or 100 pencils that you bought in bulk to ‘save money’. Change your mindset to ‘Save Space’.
  3. Old pens or stationary.
  4. Unused craft items.
  5. Old batteries.
  6. CDs and DVDs.
  7. Organizational items like bins, manila folders, paper trays, etc.
  8. Office supplies that you hardly use, like stapler, hole puncher, and paper clips. We don’t even have a printer at home.
  9. Excess pads of paper, box of envelopes, or empty notebooks. I like to stick to one notebook at a time. When I finish it, I go back through and decide which information is still needed and I either save that on my laptop or transfer it to my new notebook. Usually, it fills maybe one page.
  10. Gift cards and coupons. I have a habit of using gift cards right away. That might sound silly but I just don’t like to hold onto them. So I spend them once I receive them and let them go. If I have nothing I wish to buy at the time, I use them to buy someone else a present.

Miscellaneous/Garage

  1. Wrapping paper saved for Christmas or birthdays. I like to choose brown paper or something simple that fits every occasion. I tie with jute string and decorate with leaves or flowers from the park outside. You can also check out how I wrapped presents one Christmas using the art of Furoshiki.
  2. Cords with no purpose.
  3. Musical instruments or music devices that you never use.
  4. Old toys.
  5. Rusty plant pots.
  6. Unused paints.
  7. Outside equipment.
  8. Unused or broken tools.
  9. Pet items. Yes, even our pet is minimalist! He has one food and water bowl that’s big enough to fit one serving of food. He has one carrier, one bed from Tuft and Paw, and a litter box with litter mat. And a handful of toys. No pet clothes and certainly no fancy cat tree. Get rid of the half-chewed up toys. And definitely declutter any extra accessories.
  10. Board games that your family never plays. We have a huge collection of boardgames, but if I am being honest, there are a few we never reach for. Perhaps regift it to a friend who also loves boardgames, or to a school in need.
  11. Puzzles with missing pieces or ones that you are never going to use again.
  12. Video games and systems that you don’t use anymore. Try re-selling them online, as my husband has always had success in that.
  13. Freebies and giveaways. You probably only took those items home because they were free. But are they really? Remember that everything takes up mental space and cost you energy.
  14. Loose change. I don’t even carry around cash anymore. Everything can be done online.

Paper Clutter

  1. Old letters you hang on to.
  2. Birthday cards or holiday cards from years prior.
  3. Receipts that you really don’t need.
  4. Bank statements or other records which you can get online.
  5. Notebooks and notes from the past.
  6. Class notes from college days. How many times do you really look at them?
  7. Mail. Open them once you receive them, and then throw them out. Secret – 90% of mail is junk. A tactic I use to really keep mail to a minimum is to unsubscribe to everything. It initially takes work as you need to contact businesses and ask them to take you off their mailing lists, but it is SO worth it.
  8. Magazines that you’ve already read or don’t plan on reading. In line with my previous note, I would get rid of magazine subscriptions altogether.
  9. Photographs that don’t hold meaning for you.

Digital Clutter

  1. Email. I have had the same email since I was in elementary school. One day, frustrated by all the junk and clutter in my digital space, I just hit ‘Delete All’. I never missed a single email and I haven’t turned back since.
  2. Photos on your phone, cameras, desktop, or USB drives. It takes a decent amount of emotional distancing from material goods to be able to let go of memorabilia. This is not for the soft-hearted decluterrer. Be advised, proceed with caution. Me? I am totally fine with clearing my life of photos, and do so regularly. I keep a few, but never more than one USB drive.
  3. Documents. Depending on your line of work, do you really need all your documents? I am a writer and I don’t keep many. I write, I publish, and I delete.
  4. Receipts. As we progress into the digital age, there are very few receipts you need to keep. Most likely, if you have a digital version of it, you can find it somewhere.

Because I started decluttering, I am able to live a more frugal and intentional life. One that allows me to pay back my student loan debt of $575,000! I am able to live in a smaller home and pay less for housing. I love all the things I own. They are beautiful and functional. I look at my items as comrades who help me get through this thing we call life. There is a relationship with my things, for which I have gratitude.

I hope that this year’s Spring cleaning brings you something more than a clean home. A new outlook, perhaps. Or extra breathing room. Either way, share your thoughts and ideas around this post below!

Photo by Mathieu Perrier on Unsplash

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

Zero-Waste Produce Storage Tips

Going from being a regular consumer to a zero-waste lifestyle can seem daunting at times. In reality, adopting a zero-waste lifestyle is simple and easy. After experiencing it myself, I realize now that it helps to have a place to start. Looking back on it, I wish I had a guideline back then that told me exactly how to go zero-waste. Especially when it came to the kitchen! That’s why I want to share with you guys my zero-waste produce storage tips today.

In order to avoid waste in the kitchen, we make most of our items from scratch. Meaning, we need to buy a lot of produce in order to have sauces, dips, and snacks readily available. However, I have learned through trial-and-error that produce needs to be stored in certain ways in order to stay fresh. Reusable storage bags like those made by W&P are the perfect solution to storing produce, especially veggies.

I, myself, own W&P’s porter bag starter pack in Cream, and I love it. It comes in other fun colors so that you can coordinate food items in the kitchen if you wish. The bags are heavy, durable, and sturdy. The starter pack comes in different sizes and shapes, making it ideal for different types of foods. And the zip-lock feature works really well. It seals out air as needed, and is easy to open and close.

I also love that these bags are dish-washer safe. I think that ease of use is the number one barrier to entry to a zero-waste lifestyle. It’s so easy to flip these bags inside out and wash them in my dish-washer.

I use these bags to corral my veggies together. It keeps my fridge organized and clean. The front of the bag is see-through, allowing me to know the contents of the bag at first glance.

Today, I will share with you a few zero-waste produce storage tips featuring the W&P starter pack.

Zero-Waste Produce Storage Tips

Lettuce

I remove the leaves from the stem of the lettuce head and rinse each one thoroughly in cold water. Instead of using a knife to do this, tear each leaf off the head. This will avoid a reaction with the knife that could turn leaves brown. After a good rinse, I dry each leaf with a kitchen towel. You can also use a salad spinner if you have one. Then I place them in a W&P bag, sometimes with a dish towel in it to absorb more moisture, and half-seal the bag closed. For lettuce, never seal the bag all the way. This will keep for 5 days.

Spinach and Arugula

Similar to lettuce, I rinse each leaf thoroughly, spread on towels or spin until very dry, then pack loosely in a plastic bag with a layer of towels to absorb moisture. Arugula will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about a week.

Kale

Wrap the dry kale bunch in a paper towel and store in a half-sealed bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator. If kept dry, kale will stay fresh for up to 6 days.

Chard

Wrap unwashed chard in a paper towel and store in a half-sealed bag in the refrigerator crisper for up to 7 days.

Radicchio

Wrap the whole, unwashed head of radicchio in a dampened paper towel and store in a half-sealed bag in a refrigerator crisper for up to 4 days. Wilted leaves can sometimes be revived by soaking in cold water.

Radishes and Turnips

Snip off leaves about ¼ inch from the top of the radish, clean off any soil with a vegetable brush. Wrap in a cloth or paper towel, and store in an unsealed bag or container in the refrigerator crisper for up to 2 weeks.

Alliums

Garlic, shallots and red onions will keep in the kitchen for two to three months in a basket or open bowl in a cool location; sweet (yellow) onions will keep for one to two months. Make sure they receive good air circulation to prevent rot. Store spring alliums, green onions, and leeks in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator for 10 to 14 days. Don’t store any alliums in the same container as potatoes.

Parsley, Cilantro and Herbs

Snip off ends of the stems, place in a jar with 1 to 2 inches of water, and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. I like to throw a W&P bag over the leaves, as it helps keep them fresh.

Celery

Wrap a whole, uncut celery in aluminum foil in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to four weeks. Don’t wash or cut until ready to use. To store cut celery stalks, place in a container and submerge with water with a lid for up to two weeks. Replenish the water every couple of days. To store cutting celery, place in a jar with clean water and store in a cool place for up to a week. Celeriac will last several weeks in the fridge, and can also be chopped up and frozen to preserve.

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

This post was sponsored by W&P, who kindly gifted us their porter bag starter pack so that we may continue to live a sustainable lifestyle. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

10 Things I Do Daily That Make Me 1% Better

I can always tell when there are clouds in the sky even before the sun rises over the mountains behind my home. On those days, the sky appears bubblegum pink during pre-dawn hours. When the sky is clear, it remains jet black until it isn’t. An early sign for birds like me of another crisp California day in store.

It has been a week now since I’ve adopted the habit of waking up when my cat mews for food. That’s 6:15am to be exact. I don’t do it out of joy, let me tell you. Just this past Sunday, I was quite sore about it. I wanted to sleep in, cuddled next to my husband in the warmth of the sheets because it was the weekend. I remembered the slow mornings of 2020 and 2021, where we had nothing to do and my habits were “Sleep 10 hours each night” or “Wake up when you feel like it”. Sitting at the dining table, I was feeling quite sorry for a moment there, wondering why it is that I kept making myself do this.

But at the end of a writing session, I felt 100% better. I always do. It is the same feeling you get when you work out, and you hate yourself for it as you’re getting ready. But afterwards, you get that good-sore, the one that reminds you of the progress that was achieved, and it really does boost you. That is why I am forcing myself to get out of bed. It makes me 1% better.

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If I could make any club in the world, it would be called: 1% Better Every Day Club. I am a firm believer in tiny changes having a great impact. I am also a firm believer in making the most out of every day. Now more than ever, I am reminded that each day is a gift. For the past four years, I have been living under the mantra of making myself 1% better every day.

What does 1% Better Look Like?

It doesn’t always have to be about progress or achievement. In 2018 I decluttered a lot of my stuff. In 2020, I quit a lot of my work. Last year, 1% better involved doing nothing, sleeping in, and relaxing as much as I can. I decided for 2022 that 1% better meant making the most out of life. Every body has their own goals, needs, and wants. I would recommend starting with jotting down what 1% better would look like. Feel free to use these list of questions to get your brainstorm going!

How to Be 1% Better Every Day?

After figuring out what 1% better would look like, I would begin by writing down things you can do to become the person you want to be. Let’s say you want to be in better physical shape. A few examples of 1% better include working out a certain number of days a week, getting in nature to absorb more vitamin D, taking supplements that your diet is missing out on, practicing better posture at work, eating less sugar and more fruits and vegetables, avoiding alcohol, and staying hydrated by drinking a lot of water.

Once you have a list of action items, I would start incorporating them into your daily schedule. Make them habits. Repetition is key. Hold yourself accountable by keeping a habit tracker. I use my Unbound Planner to track all my habits. You can just as easily track your habits on an Excel sheet. It doesn’t have to be expensive!

Lastly, set yourself up for success with rewards and motivations. For example, I had to get an outfit that made me feel and look good in order to establish my work out routine. And every morning when I get up to feed the cat, flipping that lever on the Balmuda kettle is the first thing I do. A mindful cup of pour over coffee is my motivation to stay awake! There should be no guilt attached to rewards and motivations. It is completely okay to make them part of the process, as long as you truly deserve it!

10 Things I Do Daily That Make Me 1% Better

There are many things I do daily to make myself 1% better. Here are my top ten!

+ Wake up early to write. Motivation: A mindful cup of pour-over coffee in a favorite mug (mine is made by RexDesign). I use the Balmuda kettle and a Hario V60. I have found over the years that writing goes on the back-burner whenever life got busy. Yet writing is really important to me. It is my outlet for both stress and creativity. It keeps me nourished the same way a good diet does. Therefore, I needed to make the space for it. Unfortunately, writing requires uninterrupted flow, which is difficult to do when my husband is awake.

Since the pandemic, he has been working remotely, which has positive and negative sides to it. One of the downsides is that I don’t have a designated space like I used to. Gone are the days of having the house to myself a few days a week. So I decided to carve that time in when he is still fast asleep. If I give to myself first thing in the morning, I am more open to sharing my time with him when he wakes up for breakfast.

+ Gratitude Journal. Each morning, I gratitude journal. I write 3 things I am thankful for. By instilling a sense of gratitude, I am reinforced to give to others as well. Plus, it’s a healthy reminder that life is never as bad as it seems. Gratitude journaling helps me think positively, and by doing so, allows me to have a positive impact.

+ Get exercise. Motivation: A favorite outfit, being outdoors, and a membership to classes. Before my thirties, I never got any exercise. My parents did not emphasize the importance of working out to their two daughters. Looking back on it, I think my personality would have been really good at sports. I started exercising in my thirties when I began experiencing back pain. Caused by a mix of my dental career, bad posture, and poor ab strength, I realized that I needed to start. I don’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life.

+ Plan ahead. Motivation: A planner that works for me. Planning ahead helps me organize my thoughts and prioritize my actions. Dedicating time to do this really helps me schedule important tasks as well as moments of rest. The latter is arguably the priority.

+ Stay hydrated. Motivation: An Ikea carafe that’s easy to have around, while fun to pour from. Occasionally, slices of fruit livens the cup. I have a daily habit of drinking a cup of water the minute I rise. That’s right! Even before coffee. I also have water with me at all times. I am constantly refilling my Kinto bottle at work, so much so that my co-workers call me a camel.

+ Read books and Listen to Podcasts. Motivation: Relaxation time and idea generation. I try to dedicate 30 minutes each day to take in information. That could involve reading or listening to podcasts. I have always loved reading (fiction in my youth, non-fiction as of late), and learning new things. I do this because I never want to stop learning something new.

+ Reflect on how I can improve tomorrow. Motivation: The hope of progress. In the evenings, I reflect on how I can improve tomorrow. Reflection is key! It is easy to go off course if one never stops to look back. I ask myself when I was at my best and when I felt unrest. Based on those answers, I find ways to make tomorrow better.

+ Get enough sleep. Motivation: I can wake up early the next morning to write. I am a monster without sleep. I can’t function. And I am a real grouch. Aside from that, I also understand that good sleep helps our bodies in so many ways. Everyone has a different definition of ‘enough sleep’. My ideal number of hours is nine, which means in order to wake up with the cat, I have to sleep shortly after dinner. Sometimes, I’ll take a cat nap if I need to catch up on hours.

+ Dedicate my life to experiments. Motivation: Sharing with others what I discover. I love to experiment and try new things. I change up my environment, my style of writing, my hobbies… heck, even my routines! Not only are new experiences exciting for me, they also help me to grow. They teach me who I am and who I want to become. Experimentation fills my life with joy.

+ Declutter. Motivation: More space – for thought, for action, for laying out on our Nordic rug. My husband once told me that he thinks I have an unhealthy relationship with decluttering. I disagree. Constant evaluation is necessary work. I get rid of things so that better ones can take their place. If I did not do that, I would have never experienced all that I have. It is arguable my number one tool for becoming 1% better every day.

I hope this post serves as inspiration for you to be the person you want to be tomorrow. Curious as to what you do to become 1% better?

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

Self-Reflection Questions to Guide the New Year

Every year, I spend a day on self-reflection (or rather, a few days) before planning for the year ahead. Asking self-reflection questions is an important step because it tells me where I’m at, which ultimately guides where I want to go. When self-reflecting, I use my Unbound Planner to start this practice, but my brainstorming bubbles over to its own thing after only a few minutes.

The main questions I ask myself starts with the word “Why”. Why do I think this goal is important? Why do I place value on this idea? Or why do I feel this way about certain things? And so on. Of course, there are a multitude of questions to ask oneself. But after every answer, I always go back to ‘Why’.

I decided to round up a few self-reflection questions worth pondering over this morning. Even if you’ve already opened your planner and started preparing for the New Year, these are still good to think about. Sometimes, after asking myself these questions, I find that I planned for things that aren’t aligned with my true goals. This is because we may do things because other people expect us to do them or because we think other people would want us to do them. But in reality, we ourselves don’t want to.

A good example of this is last year’s goal of running 6 miles under one hour. I never got around to accomplishing it. I realize that I wanted to do it because it would be ‘an achievement’. But achievements are only important to the people around us. Achievements are status symbols. Achievements do nothing for our well-being, except add a psyche boost when other people recognize them.

I do not actually love running, and when I do go for a run, I like doing it because I am out in nature and nature relaxes me. The parts I like most about running are the wind in my hair, the sun warming my skin, the sound of birds, and the smell of grass; not the time it took for me or the number of miles.

Realizing that my motivation for running was all wrong, I now know that my goal should be changed. Instead of ‘Run 6 miles in under an hour’, my new goal is to ‘Get outdoors more often by running, hiking, or taking a walk a few times a week.’ That goal is more aligned with who I am as a person, which means I am more likely to do it!

2022 could be the year of balance. It could be the year you embrace your genuine self. But it needs to start with understanding who you are. I hope you enjoy going through these questions. I recommend writing down the answers like I did! My newly acquired Surface Pro Pen has been a godsend for brainstorming! I scribble down all my ideas, erase them, cross them out, circle them, etc. I absolutely love the Surface Pen and aim to use it to help me with my goal of going digital and reducing paper clutter. Without further ado, here are the questions!

Self-Reflection Questions To Guide the New Year

  • If someone close to you was to give a speech about you, what would they say? What don’t they say that you wish they would?
  • What are your core values? Do you feel they are well integrated in your daily life? What changes can you make to better build a life around your values?
  • What are you most proud of in the year before? It could be a favorite memory or a big accomplishment.
  • What do you love to do? What brings you peace? Joy? How can you make more time for these things?
  • What drains your energy? What makes you feel anxious or worried? How can you address these things?
  • What are your talents and strengths? How can you share these with others?
  • What do you struggle with? Why?
  • What challenges or distractions hold you back? How can you move past them?
  • What does being successful mean to you?
  • How do you want to grow this year?
  • What motivates you to take action?
  • What are you feeling called toward or inspired by?
  • Name one positive habit you want to establish this year.
  • Name one skill you want to master this year.
  • What is one fear you want to overcome in the new year? Why do you fear this thing?
  • What is one dream you want to act on in the new year? Why do you have this dream?
  • What are your most important relationships? How can you nurture them better?
  • What does your typical week look like? What is your ideal week?
  • How do you experience energy levels during the day? How can you structure your day so that your body best supports you? I suggest reading this blog post from Canyon Coffee.
  • Are there daily routines (morning and evening) that help establish a sense of peace, productivity, and well-being?
  • What are you most grateful for?
  • Name one change you can make that will have the biggest impact?
  • What is one question I want to answer this year?
  • When am I at my best?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t forget to ask yourself ‘Why’ when answering these self-reflection questions. You may realize something about yourself that you never knew before. These little discoveries can better align your life to your truth. And once you’ve gotten a bit of insight, go ahead and start planning! I made a list of favorite planners in this post here. I hope you have a wonderful year!

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

How to Recover From the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and you may already feel a bit of burnout creeping in. Every day I am asking my patients what their plans are, and “nothing” seems to be the favorite answer. We may already be burned out from the rest of the year. Every day I am asking myself what my soul needs in the new year to flourish. Others may be asking themselves what they need just to get by. Whatever the case may be, don’t forgo making plans to recover after the holiday season. The tendency may be to jump head first into 2022. Perhaps it’s better to pause, take a break, and breathe? Here are a few of my favorite ideas to recover from the holidays.

Take time off of work.

You might feel like working full-speed in order to pay for the holiday spending is what you need to do. But I love taking time off of work to recover, even for just a day. I am lucky enough to not work a 9-5 job five days a week and to have flexible schedules. However, if I did work a traditional schedule, I would certainly request time off after my busier days. This time off isn’t for completing tasks, organizing the home, or socializing. This is a chance to reset, evaluate, and prepare. Activities that are perfect for this include getting out in nature, meditating, taking a yoga class, going to a coffee shop to write, or even getting away.

Take a vacation.

Sometimes, a separation of schedule isn’t enough to take the mind off a to-do list. For me, it also usually requires a separation of space. Taking a vacation or going away from home is a great way to recover from the holidays. My choice stay is GetAway! Stationed nationally in nature, these tiny cabins are the perfect way to disconnect from the world and reconnect with the earth or whatever grounds you. I would even recommend going without your significant other. It’ll do wonders. You can read my review of the GetAway experience here. Make your first booking with my referral link and receive $25 OFF your first stay (minimum two nights required).

Declutter the Home

We accumulate a lot of things over the holidays. I look at the things we received as gifts and consider what they are replacing in our space. We try not to keep two of anything so that’s an easy way to declutter. I also try to really consider the function of things. I get rid of a lot of stuff at the end of the year. Part of that is my natural response to the frenzy that is the holiday season. I declutter to alleviate myself of the overwhelm. But the other part of it is this: I am preparing my space for an intentional life.

Clean and Organize

I don’t know about everyone else but my house tends to look as scattered as my brain after the holidays. I usually need a day to reorganize and clean. Some of the things I do is clear out the fridge and store the leftovers, which are plenty. I put the gifts away and remove the decor, which are few. I clean the kitchen, wash sheets and towels, and sweep the floors. Throughout the year, I use this cleaning list that I wrote. It is saved on my Iphone under ‘Notes’ with checkmarks next to each task. I do a weekly cleaning time block each weekend and address the tasks little by little. It’s a simple way for me to get things done.

Give back to yourself.

In the name of giving to others over the holidays, we tend to forget about ourselves. There are many self-care strategies that you can implement to give back to yourself again. This includes getting into an exercise routine, laying off the sweets, lessening the alcohol and coffee, and being openly grateful.

I know that this list is short and sweet, but these are my favorite ways to recover from the holidays. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, nor does it have to be expensive. Just make sure you are doing something for yourself to recover. The holidays is a stressful time for everyone. Don’t feel bad if you need to tell loved ones you need a break, or more space, or less time with them. We need to say no, in order to say a bigger “YES!”. That’s a good mantra to have in 2022.

Top 5 Planners for A Productive 2022

It’s that time of year again! Time to start scouring the web for the best 2022 planner. If you are an avid planner like myself, you probably get joy from looking for the most productive planner possible. I live and die by a physical day planner. I always have. Without one, I am pretty much useless. I owe all of my successes to maintaining a well organized and structured life. For some reason, the digital planners don’t do it for me. I like the tactical aspect of writing stuff down. Of course, the definition of success can differ from person to person. Regardless of what success looks like to you, there will be a planner out there to help create your ideal lifestyle. Without further ado, here are my top 2022 planner!

Mal Paper

Mal Paper is a 90-day planner focused around goal setting. It works really well for list-lovers such as myself. The daily pages have no scheduler, but rather, has a list of tasks to check off. I have difficulty boxing out my time because my mind tends to jump from one task to another. As bad as it sounds, I do have a tendency to multi-task. This is why lists are usually what I live off of. This planner is quite simple and uncomplicated. It is great for entrepreneurs who have multiple projects going on at the same time. The introductory pages give great advice on how to break down goals into smaller goals, which are then used to create tasks that ultimately get the job done. You can read more about my review of this planner here.

Monk Manual

This is the right planner for living an intentional life. Just like the first planner, this is a 90-day planner. I can attest to it being the most calm, yet productive, 90 days of your life. This planner combines being with doing. When being and doing are not in balance, we feel over-whelmed and stressed. Every day, the planner helps you focus on the top three priorities. It has a gratitude section, a timeline, and a place to write down what you look forward to. My favorite part is the area to list ways in which I can give. Living my life around giving really improved my life. There is also space for daily reflection. Each week, I can reminisce on the meaningful moments, as well as prepare for ways to improve in the future. Lastly, the monthly section not only focuses on accomplishments, but also relationships and a check-in with yourself. You can read more about my experience with Monk Manual here.

Unbound 2022 Planner

In my most humble opinion, this is my #1 choice for a 2022 planner! This planner worked really well for me. It is perfect for very detail-oriented people who are juggling multiple things and need to be very organized. Some people might find this planner over-whelming, but it fit my lifestyle like a glove. This planner helped me make the most out of 2021. In fact, I would say that I have had the most productive year of my life thanks to this planner. There are so many great things to say. It’s ideal for project planning, goal making, creating timelines, meal prepping, gratitude journaling and habit tracking. This really is the ultimate productivity planner! You can read more about my review of Unbound Planner here.

Smitten on Paper

Smitten on Paper is my go-to source for notepads and weekly agendas. I have had the honor of trying this weekly agenda which is an open-dated planner. The habit tracker is perfect for someone who is motivated by rewards. The weekly schedule has a water tracker, an open space for scheduling, a task list area, and a box for prioritizing tasks. If you are more of a notepad person, I would recommend this daily notepad or this bigger version. You can read all my thoughts here.

Sugar Paper 2022 Planner

I used Sugar Paper’s spiral planners back in dental school. It helped me stay task-organized, but without all the complicated stuff. I think it’s great for students who are focused on school, or for a person who is using their planner for their personal day-to-day life. This means there is no space for project planning or for creating long-term-timelines. Entrepreneurs will most likely want a more structured scheduler. And this is definitely not for micro-managers. However, it is a good planner for big-picture, task-oriented folk. I love that this planner has a dedicated space for goal making each month. The goals focus on personal, health, finance and work/school. This means there’s opportunity for self-improvement. The weekly spread is task-oriented and in to-do list form. There is room for notes, don’t forget reminders, and daily sections. I loved using this planner throughout the entire school year!

If you already have a planner but want to save this for the next year, Pin this post on Pinterest!

Photo by Covene on Unsplash

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

How to Deal with Paper Clutter

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

There is a really quick way to deal with paper clutter. That is, to get rid of it. As in, ALL of it.

Paper clutter used to be my biggest problem, next to books and clothes, although not necessarily in that order. But I’ve devised a system for dealing with paper clutter and it’s quite simple, really. Get rid of paper as soon as you can. Keep it out of your home. Digitize it and then begone. Keep a filing system for only a handful, and declutter it twice a year. Paper can become really agonizing and stacks up quite quickly without us realizing it. Have you ever tried to shred ‘important documents’ before? If you have, then you’ll know.

I recommend the following:

Don’t take home flyers.

You know, the one they hand out at events or stick to your windshield? Or worse, the business cards one may pass along to you. I know it’s hard to do, but practice saying ‘no thank you’. For those sneakily slipped beneath my windshield wipers, I find a public trash can right away.

Unsubscribe to mail.

Mail can get a bit unruly. The trick is to limit the mailman’s load. Unsubscribe to all magazines, flyers, companies, etc. Even the non-paid subscriptions are a hassle. I’ve found that these companies somehow regain access to my address and weasel their way into my mail box. I just keep calling and telling them to put an end to it. Do you really need to look at more of the things they want you to buy?

Go Paperless.

Almost every company has a paperless option by now. When possible, we choose paperless. The reason being, these companies are usually the ones that send account information home. Bank accounts, electric bills, and mortgage updates – all paperless for us! The reward is two-fold; less chances of someone else getting access to your information, and less mail to sort through and shred.

Open mail right away, sort and discard.

The most common thing people do when they get the mail is put in a basket ‘for later’. Man, what an eyesore! We don’t even keep a basket. Mail that gets brought in is looked at and discarded ASAP. Those that have tasks associated with them (making a payment or appointment) are completed as soon as possible which kills two birds with one stone – it gets the job done and it clears the table of hideous mail. Voila!

Digitize, whenever possible.

This, I had a problem with for a long time. I was quite fond of paper, even though this post wouldn’t hint at it otherwise. My class notes I kept after college. Letters from friends in middle school were tucked away in a drawer. I have essays that I wrote once, diary entries meant just for me. All of that is now gone. I realized that the more I threw away, the easier it was to let go. For those I couldn’t bear to part with, I scanned and digitized. Since scanning takes work, I decided it would behoove me to be very selective, but also, to vow never again to collect as much paper as I did. Call it a lazy person’s curse, but I hardly wish to keep paper things anymore.

Keep the most important pages in a filing cabinet.

There are a few papers that you can’t digitize, then throw away. My degree, for example. My license. My naturalization papers and my passport. These we keep in a filing cabinet. My motto is: Out of sight, out of mind. This one is my favorite minimalist option, although CB2 has a number of options, too. Pro tip: Declutter twice a year to prevent stock piling. Perhaps what you once thought was necessary no longer feels that way after de-cluttering.

Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash