My Minimal Work From Home Desk

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Small Space Living: Tip #16: Choose a Minimal Work-From-Home Desk

Creating my ideal from-home workspace has been a long and arduous process. My intentional habits tend to get in the way of progress as I am quite particular in the function, overall look, and general meaning behind each item I introduce into our home. Couple that with my tendency to talk my way out of purchasing things, and it becomes easy to see how I get in the way of myself. It’s all migraine-inducing, but I finally feel like we are getting somewhere.

To say that we haven’t quite come to grips with our final WFH environments after a year-and-a-half into this WFH state does sound laughable. To be honest, I’ve been making do with the kitchen table, eventually upgrading to a tiny $50 Ikea Micke desk. My husband was holding meetings and conferences in our bedroom, and yes, it has been odd having no doors in our home to create any sort of privacy. In order to talk to someone during Mike’s workday, I have been stepping onto our balcony and shutting myself out, imposing my conversation on our neighbors, while the streets around us impose their city noise. We ended up getting Herman Miller chairs sometime earlier this year, and by doing so, cluttered our bedrooms and living rooms respectively. However, with the advent of our roommate moving out at the end of August, we reclaimed the downstairs space which we are now turning into Mike’s permanent WFH area, after the company’s recent extension of remote work.

Meanwhile, I’ve moved from my dark nook in the living room to the bedroom, where Mike used to be. And with this new location comes a bright, shiny new desk. Well, shiny to me, but in reality, it’s quite humbly muted. I upgraded to the ever iconic Work Desk (affiliate link) from the Swedish company, String Furniture, and I must say that I am beyond excited about this improvement.

Famous for the modular system that they created in the 1950’s, the work desk is made up of rails and a large, hanging platform. I chose beige for the rails paired with a classic white desk. Positioned right next to three window panes that look out to the downtown streets below, the rails allow plenty of light to pass into our home and my workspace, where many plants reside. I made sure to position myself right beside the windows, so that I may look out and daydream, as that is part of a writer’s job.

The entire desk took three months to ship from Sweden but came packaged in two thin boxes, lighter than the desk from Ikea. I could lift both boxes easily. Essentially, the desk is founded on the two light-weight side rails mounted to the wall by four nails. The desk sits on four pins hooked onto the rails. The height of the desk can be changed so that it can work for a child as well as an adult. The back bar for the desk holds the platform down, locking it into place.

This simple design and easily shipped product is the reason why they won the national competition in Sweden in 1949, and why they have been classified as Applied Art under the Copyright Act in 2009. So yes, the desk is a piece of artwork itself. This is something I have been trying to do in my home – that is, adding art in the form of furniture and design, rather than the traditional painting, print, or sculpture art. In essence, this is a way for me to add beauty AND function using fewer pieces, thus maintaining minimalism in the home. Let the furniture do the decorating.

String Furniture hasn’t just made a desk, by the way. This modular system was originally designed to produce a shelf (affiliate link), which once decorated the UN headquarters in NYC in the ’50’s and which became the best-selling Scandinavian furniture in Germany in the ’60’s. The shelf has turned into a system that can also be a nightstand, media console, desk, dining table, and kitchen cabinetry.

In true fashion, I’ve ordered the most minimal combination. The rails are floor panels that only reach halfway up, contrary to the original desk design that used panels that reach higher to place shelving above. I have the desk without the drawer as well, just the platform on which to work. Eventually, I would like to put a small filing cabinet in the 12-inch space between the desk and the wall, and I’ve got my eyes set on this one by Branch furniture. I want a filing cabinet that triples as a drawer, a paper organizer, and a side table as well.

Having the desk situated by the windows is useful as the sill doubles for a place to stack my planners and notebooks within arm’s reach. I also charge my phone on the sill at night, further away from my bed, which is a habit I’ve adopted a few years back to create distance between my phone and I. Meanwhile, my desk mates consist of plants which surround me on either side, adding a bit of life and fresh air to this space. Most of the plants I own are gifted, some from The Sill (affiliate link), a company that ships plants directly to your door, pottery et al.

I’ve also loved my Herman Miller chair but I recently saw this modern, ergonomic option by Noho Co (affiliate link)., and have been contemplating switching out my wheels for a more grounded sitting situation. The going is slow in my space but I am so happy with the current state and what I’ve put together so far.

My daily coffee mug is from Hasami Official and the water glass is Pokal from Ikea. The linen coaster is from Fog Linen.

I also wanted to share with you the contenders I had for desk options, in case you don’t love the String desk but are also hoping for your own minimal desk upgrade.

My favorite, runner-up desk options.
  1. Copenhagen 90 Desk by Hay (affiliate link)
  2. Rail Desk by Menu Space
  3. Shelf Library System by Frama
  4. George Console by Skagerak (affiliate link)

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

Combating Tired Eyes with True Botanicals Eye Cream

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

We returned from our Iceland adventure almost two weeks now (eek! Where does the time go?). I am only barely able to say that our sleep cycles have regressed to their normal states. For a while there I felt like our rythm will remain out of sync forever, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I keep telling folks how my brain and body seemed to be moving at a slower pace than those around me, and my days seemed to last much longer than when I first left. Perhaps it has something to do with the 24/7 sunlight commonly experienced in the northern hemisphere. If that is the case, I fear what life would feel like in 24/7 darkness.

Regardless, I’ve had my fair share of sleep these last two weeks. At first, I found myself naturally waking up at 5:30 in the morning and falling asleep at 9 pm. This sleep pattern was much preferred to my now ‘normalized’ schedule, since it gave me a few hours of “me-time” each day before the actual beginning. Unfortunately, it did not last long. I threw myself into work, playing catch-up as well as adding a few dog-sitting duties and family events that eventually had me feeling the manic American pace once again. “Can we please go back to Iceland?” I keep begging my husband.

One thing that has been on my side, however, is True Botanical’s Resurrection Radiance Eye Cream! They gifted me a sample of the stuff and it arrived a few days before I trotted off to Iceland. I was so happy to find it sitting in my bathroom drawer, ready for me and my recovery. I didn’t really know what to expect, having never used eye cream before. I have always had dark circles under my eyes, for which I blame my late nights during my endless college career. This brightening eye cream has been amazing at reducing the darkness around my eyes, immediately making me look younger than the 25-year-old fallacy I’ve been living. What surprised me, though, was the reduction in fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes. I have always been a smiler (no surprise there!), as well as extremely facially expressive. There is no shortage of dynamic crow’s feet mischievously appearing every time I laugh. After using this eye cream for only two weeks, I’ve noticed a tightness in my skin that’s as new as my love for Iceland. I am really happy with the results from this eye cream so far!

So what exactly is in this eye cream that lends it magical properties? True Botanicals is a company that prides themselves in using natural ingredients and avoiding all the synthetics that one typically finds in the beauty industry. This eye cream contains no silicones, waxes, or shimmers that would fake results. It’s the real deal. Instead, its main component is a moisture retentive bioactive compound from the Resurrection Plant, known for its resilience to harsh environments. This compound plumps up our eyes and adds moisture to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Meanwhile, tree bark extract reduces the darkness around our eyes. Otherwise known as Terminalia Arijuna, this extract is Ecocert and COSMOS certified. It also won The Best Active Ingredient Gold Award in 2019. There is also coffee and licorice (which depuffs the eye area and adds brightness) as well as tumeric (which calms the skin for a smoother look).

I find myself using this eye cream each morning and each night. It takes very little to discover results – smaller than a pea size amount. I can see this tiny jar lasting many months. I have never really noticed before how important it is to hydrate the eye area. It’s a section of my face that I typically avoid, mostly because of my fear of getting beauty goop in my eyes. For those who were wondering, my skin is generally dry and extremely sensitive to harsh chemicals. That’s why I trust True Botanicals products. This Olivia-Wilde-sponsored company uses only the best natural ingredients to support my skin. They have never steered me wrong.

Far from being frilly, I still have room in my life to fall in love with T.B. Their RENEW facial cleanser coupled with their Pure Radiance Oil is a great, minimalist daily skin routine that checks all the boxes without buying an overwhelming amount of products. And it comes at a discounted price when purchased as a set. My mom swears by the Vitamin C Booster, and she adds that to her moisturizer each day. I also love carrying around their Nutrient Mist in my purse. It is a god-send when I travel, as airplanes somehow manage to cause dry skin and oily outbreaks at the same time. I gift Nutrient Mist to all my girlfriends, and during holiday season, it is my number one recommended stocking stuffer! Lastly, the Pure Radiance Sugar Exfoliating Body Scrub is a luxurious gift to oneself. I loved using it over the winter season as it made each shower feel like a spa day.

Shall you choose to try them out for yourself, please do note that TheDebtist will receive commission for purchases made via my links in this post. With that said, I really do appreciate the support you lend to the companies that support my blog. It is a curated list of people, doing good work, True Botanicals included!

Travel Packing Tips from a Minimalist

Minimalism is the practice of surrounding oneself with less stuff in order to decrease what otherwise would be distractions from a life well-lived. I have found this lifestyle especially useful when traveling. In this post, I would like to share with you my favorite travel packing tips.

How Minimalism Makes Travel More Enjoyable

When I travel, I want to be focused on learning about different cultures, immersing myself in history or nature, connecting myself to others, or simply collecting experiences and memories. I don’t want to be physically burdened by the weight of the things I carry. I wish not to be mentally exhausted from keeping track of my belongings when I move from place to place, which when traveling, I frequently do. Lastly, I don’t like the emotional toll of losing checked-in luggage, forgetting belongings at a hotel room, or ruining a sweater during one of my wild adventures. In order to make sure I soak in the joys my travels have to offer, I practice minimalism exuberantly while jet-setting around the globe.

Intentionality is key when packing one’s belongings for an upcoming trip. As long as both the purpose and the value of each item are well considered, one can not go wrong. However, while there are no rules to minimal packing, I do have a few guidelines that I personally follow, which might prove useful for those just starting to give this a try.

Related Posts:

10 Travel Packing Tips from a Minimalist

1. Find the perfect suitcase. Of all the travel packing tips, this one makes the top of the list! When it comes to suitcases, I have a few requirements. First, I prefer small suitcases. I travel with only a carry-on and personal item, no matter how far the destination or long the vacation. Not only do I like to keep my belongings with me at all times, avoiding baggage claim hassles and potential loss, I also like to bring only the few things I need. Second, I look for light luggage. I am petite and 5’1″ tall. Being able to easily lift my case into the overhead bin is important to me. Third, I look for suitcases with ease of use. I want the ability to roll in different directions and I prefer a handle that extends to multiple different heights.

I used to struggle with my previous suitcase, which only had two wheels and a finicky handle. After I finally said goodbye to it, I whole-heartedly decided that ease of use was going to be one of my must-have requirements. Lastly, I like the suitcase to be durable, favoring hard-shell exterior over a soft exterior. I want something that protects my tech, such as laptops and cameras, which I usually bring along on my trips for my blog work.

My case is from InCase. I wrote about it here, once.

2. Practice capsule ward-robing. A capsule wardrobe is a collection of versatile clothing from which one can create many different outfits. Ideally, you want your capsule wardrobe to contain only your most beloved things, so that on any given day, you would be willing to wear anything. I think that travel time is the best time to practice capsule ward-robing. It is a stage in your life where you will be in a particular place for a certain time period, which makes it very easy to hone down your wardrobe. And hey, perhaps after all your adventures, you decide to keep your capsule wardrobe for your daily living.

3. Pick neutral colors. Hand-in-hand with selecting versatile pieces is purposefully choosing neutral colors to mix-and-match with. That doesn’t mean bring only black, white and tan clothes. Some of my favorite “color neutrals” are Terra Cotta, Olive Green, Navy Blue, and Beige. Together, these colors create a palette that looks as good together as they do apart.

4. Compartmentalize the suitcase. I am an organized minimalist. Meaning, I have no qualms about adding extra stuff for the sake of organization. As they say, minimalism isn’t about having the least amount of things possible. It’s about having the perfect amount. And these compressible packing cubes are perfect additions for neatniks such as myself.

5. Wear the bulkiest items on the plane. This is a trick that I constantly use. In order to make my suitcase as light as possible, I layer on my bulkiest items when I travel. I usually wear a sweater and a jacket on the plane, paired with my hiking boots and favorite leggings. It works out really well for me since I am always cold on the flight and I try not to use the provided blankets due to an aversion to the plastic packaging.

My husband also does the same, since his hiking boots take up half of a carry-on and his clothing takes up twice as much space as mine. For outerwear that I choose to carry in a suitcase, I store them in a separate compartment, providing plenty of breathing room for my coats and jackets. The last thing I want is to have wrinkly outerwear, since that is the most presentable thing in my arsenal. I would rather sacrifice bringing a few items if it meant I didn’t have to stuff my bag to the brim.

Outerwear goes in a separate compartment.

6. Bring only two pairs of shoes. I will have one pair in my luggage and another on my feet. Usually, one shoe option will require socks and other does not. Since we are avid hikers, I usually pack a pair of hiking boots and a pair of slip-ons. Having both options allow me to travel comfortably no matter the weather. And the slip-ons double as slippers at the hotel.

7. Pack zero-waste, if possible. Traveling zero-waste can seem difficult, until you realize that you don’t need those disposable travel bottles. I bring a bar of soap, a shampoo bar, a bamboo toothbrush, Bite toothpaste, Cocofloss, and amber bottles galore. I try to avoid all sorts of disposable things, and it actually reduces the amount of things I take along.

8. Bring only one jewelry set which you wear onto the plane. I tend to choose simple jewelry that go with all my outfits. I go through seasons, but for the past year and a half, my go-to has been a pair of Gorjana mini studs and gemstone bracelet (both gifts from my sister-in-law), two Mejuri cuffs, and my wedding band. Since I am wearing all of my jewelry the entire trip, I don’t have to worry about packing it, ever. This gets rid of an additional jewelry case in my bag, as well as the hassle of keeping track of tiny belongings.

9. Take only a handful of underwear and socks. As rule of thumb, I never take more than a week’s worth. Even if I am traveling for three weeks! I simply hand-wash and hang-dry to cycle through them. Some AirBNBs even come equipped with washer and dryer, these days.

10. Make your personal item a backpack. Mine is this sturdy, leather pack from Nisolo, which holds my water bottle, a book, a notebook, an extra sweater, my Nutrient Mist, any important documents that I need to travel, as well as a pouch (yet another compartment!) that keeps my lip balm, hand-lotion, pens, and wallet together. There are many reasons why I like having a backpack. It can hold many things, is equally useful for sight-seeing as well as grocery shopping, is usable by both my husband and I, and is an ergonomic method of toting things around.

Of course, the best piece of advice when traveling is to enjoy the journey, searching for memories, not the destination. As long as you do that, I have no doubts you’re already on your minimalist way.

These travel packing tips are sponsored by Monos Travel. I am absolutely in love with this company. They recently released compressible packing cubes for easier organizing when traveling. The cubes come in three colors (tan, black, or grey) and in two different pack sizes (one with four cubes for a carry-on luggage and another with six cubes for a check-in luggage). They sent me the six pack in Tan and the compression allows me to use all six to organize my carry-on. My go-to Monos luggage choice is the carry-on in either Desert Taupe, Terrazzo, Terra Cotta, and Olive Green. I would also like to draw attention to their CleanPod UVC Wand Sterilizer, a worthy addition for all travelers, especially post-COVID-19 era.

If you really got value from this post, don’t forget to pin it on Pinterest to share my travel packing tips with others! Happy Travels!

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

Slow Hosting

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

On the heels of my previous post about simple recipes made for slow gatherings, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips when hosting a get-together or party. Slow hosting, if I may term it as such, takes upfront planning and work. Intentionality is key when deciding what to do in preparation. You could fall down rabbit holes and never dig your way out when considering what details need attending.

Surely, there are sources out there overwhelmingly filled with styling and decor, recipes of feasts fit for kings, as well as libation ideas invented by only the best bartenders. Perhaps I am alone in this, but I’ve fallen privy to over-thinking, and certainly over-doing, a few of my past parties. It’s easy to fall into that trap. However, it’s just as easy to avoid it, as long as I pay attention to a few details.

There are a few things about myself and hosting that I’ve learned to be true.

  • I would rather be a guest to my own party than a server and maid.
  • I would rather participate in deep conversations, delving into original ideas or passionate opinions, than skim the superficial waters of, “hi, how are you?”.
  • I would rather have a good, relaxing evening rather than stress and worry.
  • I want to care about the important things in life, like friends and family.
  • And lastly but most importantly, I want to have a good time with my husband rather than begrudgingly nitpick over details regarding some preformed, overly high expectation. I’ve found that if I set the bar too high for a gathering, I set the success rate extremely low for us as a couple.

So I’ve gathered a few tricks that keep me grounded when it comes to throwing parties. I hope it preps you for the future, where we will surely make up for lost time, gathering in safety and in peace.

  • Opt for a table cloth to immediately dress up any table. Seriously, after this, I feel like the decor is done.
  • Put down the table setting prior to your guests arriving to reduce work once the party starts.
  • Add simple stems in amber bottles or stick tall candlesticks in candle holders, rather than investing in expensive bouquets.
  • Forgo the place cards. Let guests sit where they like and mingle as they please.
  • Forget hanging up banners and buying party balloons, or other disposable item that will only add to the landfill. Trust that your home is good enough to celebrate in, without the temporary frills.
  • Place a linen napkin out for each guest, to reduce the amount of times you need to get up from the table to grab the paper towels.
  • Opt for glassware that can hold water, wine, beer or cocktail, in order to reduce the dishes you need to set out (and later wash).
  • Limit the amount of food types or drinks available. Sometimes, I have a theme or a set menu so as not to overwhelm the guests, or myself.
  • Choose recipes that can be made ahead of time. I am not only talking about side dishes and salads. I also include desserts and appetizers.I try to keep the main entree fresh.
  • Instead of mixing cocktails (which should really be fresh), opt for sangria or table wine. Also, beer or mimosas. Simple things that get the job done.
  • Clear the table at the very end, but toss all the dishes in the dishwasher (my favorite) or the sink. Do not wash them while the guests are here. There is time for that later. No space? A fellow small-home-dweller actually stashes them in the bathtub, to address after the guests have left, which I thought was genius.
  • Don’t be afraid of ordering food. You’d be surprised how many people favor pizza or Chinese take-out. You’re not a 1950’s housewife who has to prove your worth in the form of housewivery. You’re feeding a group of people who already love you for who you are. It’ll be fine.
  • Avoid white noise. That includes music. I suppose depending on the party. I dislike pausing conversation to lift up the needle on the record player. I also dislike when a playlist stops suddenly and someone has to fumble with a phone. My opinion is that, unless your gathering is focused on music listening, music is a distraction.
  • Don’t plan an itinerary. Trust that as the night progresses, things will naturally fall into place.
  • Ensure that there’s a hand towel and toilet paper rolls in the bathroom. Light a candle and set out hand soap.
  • Avoid the goodie bags and give-aways. It requires too much extra work and creates too much extra trash. If you really want to have the guests take home something, opt for consumables. One year for Thanksgiving, we gave away a jar of our favorite enchilada sauce, which we cooked and packaged the evening before. Another year, we baked everyone pastries for the following morning.
  • Finally, let go. Let go of all your expectations. Let go of the pretty Instagram pictures. Let go of your guarded nature. Just be a guest, really.

Curating Closets: Sunglasses for a Minimalist

This post is written in affiliation with Warby Parker, a revolutionary eye wear company that gives people an alternative for modern, quality specs. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and creative content are my own. 

Eye wear seems to be my thing in 2020. Perhaps it’s the new decade that’s brought a keen awareness towards the need to protect my health. Perhaps it’s the long list of current events. Either way, I’ve been terribly conscious of my waning physicality. I have never been overly zealous in protecting my youth, but suddenly, at the ripe old age of thirty-one, I have become obsessed with it.

Is this what they call a mid-life crisis?

I previously wrote about the need to protect our eyes from the blue light emanating from the screens attached to our hips, like oxygen tanks that we carry around in order to breathe. But let’s be real. I am not wearing my blue-light blockers all day, everyday. Yet we are still exposed to light rays twenty-four seven. Erm, at least, I hope you are still able to get some sun?

My entire life, I’ve found sunglasses to be a nuisance – something too expensive and too easily left behind (or sat on). I have owned very few, and the last pair that I purchased were discounted from when I still worked at a retail store ten years ago. Yes, you heard that right. My last pair of sunglasses was purchased ten years ago.

So I would say it was high time that I finally invested in a pair to protect my eyes. Most important to me was finding sunglasses that I would actually want to wear. Ones that were simple, light-weight, elegant, timeless, and well, minimal. Obviously.

I settled on Warby Parker when I learned of their mission to provide a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair purchased. I was intrigued by their origin story, seeing as how the inspiration came after a founder lost his sun-specs after a backpacking trip (already relatable) and lamented on the insanely expensive prices of quality sunglasses. Reason being, of course, that the eye wear industry was dominated by a single company that keeps prices high. The rebellious Warby Parker was created as an alternative option for good eye wear at revolutionary prices. They set out to create a personal customer experience while providing exceptional prescription and non-prescription specs. They exude everything I love about a company, so how could I not love them?

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I came across my first Warby Parker store in Newport Beach about a year and a half ago. Back then, I wasn’t interested in buying sunnies. It just so happened to be a storefront within a store next to the Aesop that I frequent. I walked in and was charmed by the different styles and friendly staff. I ended up walking out and forgetting about it.

Earlier this year, we were walking the streets of San Francisco when I entered my second Warby Parker store. I vaguely remembered seeing them before and even picked up a few frames to try on. I found styles that I liked, but I still wasn’t interested in buying glasses. This was in February.

Then, in June, I turned thirty one. I got my first pair of blue-light blockers. I started blinking a lot. The sun hurt my eyes. I got extremely conscious about light – too much light, lack of light, weird lighting in general. I debated whether UV curing lights at the dental office were more harmful than computer screens that I stare at as I type posts like this. I started to think about sunglasses, and why I wasn’t wearing them.

The truth? I don’t have a pair that works for me. I don’t like the one I owned, it didn’t fit my style, and it didn’t work with my lifestyle. If there’s anything I learned about myself, it’s that I use most the things I love dear. As for everything else, I just don’t.

This was around the time I seriously considered buying Warby Parker.

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The thing I love about them is that they give people the option of trying on their eye wear prior to purchasing. Even during this difficult, quarantine life, they allow you to ship up to five frames to your door FOR FREE just so you can try them on. If you don’t like them, simply ship them back within ten days. I literally had five frames in my cart the weekend before we left for Colorado in July when…

We drove by a Warby Parker storefront in Boulder, Colorado. I knew right away that I wanted to walk in. The store was limiting only two parties at a time due to COVID so I waited in the car for five minutes until it was my turn. The staff was incredibly helpful in guiding me towards the right frame for my personality and lifestyle. One thing about me. I am incredibly picky. But when I know I like something, I KNOW. It took five minutes to find the pair I wanted and check out.

I have a narrow, heart-shaped face, but the frames that worked best for me were Wright, Percy, Robbie, and Fisher. The first two were too girly, posh and trendy for me. They were also a tad heavier. The choice came down to the last two. Due to my high cheekbones, the flat, squarish edge to the Robbie ended up accentuating my plump cheeks. I ended up going with Fisher, which is a mix between the Merrick and the ever-popular Raider. There were two color options – a gold frame with colored lenses, or black on black on black. Need I say more?

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These are the lightest pair of glasses I own. I put them away in the case they came with as soon as I’m done wearing them. Hopefully I never sit on them, even though Warby Parker has my back. Scratched lenses and bent frames can be taken to any storefront and they will try to the best of their ability to fix the glasses for you. Luckily, the metal frames on the Fisher are easier to fix than the plastic frames. And lenses with scratches can be replaced completely within a year of purchase.

I don’t wear prescription glasses (yet!) but if you do, no worries! When I went to the store, they had optometrists working who seemed very knowledgeable about eye wear. A few storefronts also offer eye exams, which I think is awesome! It’s your one stop shop.

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If you are on the fence about the price, then I would highly recommend doing a few things.

  1. Try on the glasses virtually here.
  2. Pick a few frames that look good on the app (up to five) and send them your way.
  3. Wear your five frames for ten days. Whichever ones don’t work, send back.

No harm, no foul. Personally, I fell head over heels with Warby. I don’t see any other way.

Minimalism: Bathroom Routines

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If you were to walk into our tiny home right now, barge yourself up to our bathroom and pull back the shower curtain in one fell swoop, you may be shocked to find the bare-bones tub that we bathe in. The amount of products that we allow ourselves are few and far between. I never realized before that it was uncommon to house only a single bar of soap in the shower. It wasn’t until my mother-in-law stayed with us for a few weeks and commented on how “bizarre” our bathroom was that I thought to myself, “Maybe we ARE outliers.”

When I asked her why, she mentioned how most people would have products up the wazoo strewn over their bathing areas. I suppose it never occurred to me that some people have soaps, shampoos, conditioners, face moisturizers, loofahs, and whatever else (I don’t even know what else as I’ve run out of things to list). She said that most couples have his and hers products, because the beauty industry would like us to think that we need separate goods.

So we don’t own many things, and she may have stayed with us back when we were practicing zero plastic living much more stringently, hence the singular bar, but in our defense we’ve lightened up a bit on both counts since then. There are a few luxuries that we’ve afforded ourselves recently, one of which is this beautiful Japanese body scrub, which said mother-in-law gifted me for Christmas. And while the tub still usually holds only a bar of soap and this loofah hung up to dry on the shower curtain rod, we also own gifted bottles of Aesop products which we take into the tub occasionally.

I know that I may not get most people on board with me on this one, but may I pitch the idea that minimalist bath routines are the way to go? Firstly, we can reduce our environmental impact by just limiting the products that we buy. There is no need for his and hers segregation. Even though they are advertised as such, I don’t see why he and I need different products. Is that weird?

Secondly, we reduce packaging by reducing our consumption. In fact, people may find this odd, but we shampoo perhaps one to two times a week. We use the conditioner less frequently than that. We own beautiful products that were gifted to us but this miniature Aesop body soap has lasted me six months. Not because I never wash, but I don’t use it in excess. A tiny drop is good enough to bathe in. The shampoo and conditioner have also lasted us just as long, and we aren’t close to finishing. I would gander that the conditioner would last us the entire year.

Yes, they are in plastic bottles. No we are not perfect. Perhaps being gifted these and using them isn’t a sin. I like to think it’d be more eco-conscious than shipping more ethical shampoo and conditioner options across the country? I don’t know.

From a frugalist’s perspective, Aesop products are not cheap. In this case, they were free, but even if they weren’t, limiting consumption of Aesop bath products could save you more money than a person squandering Dove products on the daily. With less products to use, you can also reduce your monthly water bill. I like to shower in less than five minutes and Mike turns the water off every time he uses a bar of soap.

Phew, after this discussion, perhaps we are whackos. Just out of curiosity, how may items do you have in your bathtub?

Also, two of my favorite companies have 20% off sales on their entire site this weekend, which is sort of post related.

+ Bath towels and accessories from Parachute is 20% OFF through Monday. My favorite is this classic starter bundle in the color Bone.

+ Territory design also has 20% off everything and that is where my mother-in-law bought this body scrub

Simple Things: Ikebana

It’s Mother’s Day and while most of the Western world is showering their moms with love in the form of large bouquets and wreaths, I figure I’d share a personally preferred minimalist and intentional flower arrangement – ikebana.

The art of ikebana is a Japanese way of making bouquets. Translated literally, it means “making flowers alive”, which to me is poetry itself. Rather than focusing on gathering as many flowers as possible, the art requires a curation of sorts. Typically, only five to thirteen stems are used, and a flower frog with pins are employed to arrange the flowers in a romantic way.

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Unlike flower bouquets lining groceries and florist shops, these arrangements use stems and leaves, even blades of grass. Whatever is calling to the artist is included. It’s the ultimate proof that beauty can be found in even the simplest of things.

I like the practice of Ikebana because it adds an element of mindfulness to the process. Not needing to drive to a floral shop or pay for flowers, I pick simple buds or greenery that I find on walks around the neighborhood. What captures my attention depends on the day, and sometimes even twigs will appear wondrous in their own right. I collect a handful of treasures and curate them when I get home. Curating is arguably the most difficult part, but also my favorite. I put to use everything I know about creating an intentional home and apply it to ikebana.

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I’ve chosen these beautiful vessels from Notary Ceramics, a hand-thrown pottery located in Oregon dishing out the most beautifully minimalist pieces. There are two that I like – one with a water bowl in the center and only a few spaces for stems, and a smaller one with more opportunity for fronds and the like, but without a water bowl.

The water is another element of ikebana. It is said that one shouldn’t care whether petals or leaves fall into the water, for there is beauty in the imperfections, too. I love when soft petals float over the water’s surface, or when small buds break off from their stems into the pool.

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As you’ve probably guessed, for Mother’s Day I gifted my mother one of these flower frogs from Notary Ceramics. I hope that she keeps it by her bedside table, or in the center of the kitchen island for the morning light to shine on. I imagine her finding a few whimsical strands of nature when she walks our family dog with my father. I hope she remembers what it was like to be a child, carrying treasures home from her adventures. May she find a creative moment each week that lends beauty to her home as she carefully chooses her pickings. May more people practice a simpler art, daily, and bring joy to mother’s everyday after Mother’s Day.

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