Play Pretend: Back-to-School

I cannot believe I am writing this post mid-August. Back in my day, school would resume after Labor Day. If you were lucky, a few extra weeks were granted and your return date would be late September. Then again, I can’t believe I am saying ‘Back in my day’. Times have changed, that’s for sure. So I thought it appropriate that this post also have a different focus for back-to-school.

This is a curated list of things to support college students going back-to-school. It doesn’t comprise of popularity inducing products. Rather, it is a mix of basic essentials that could carry a college student beyond school and could last a long time. This means less hard-earned dollars spent, and less student debt taken out over time. Included are items that would also be of use during stressful times, which there were plenty. Lastly, a few investment items that would overall reduce spending. I truly believe when we have goods that we absolutely love and adore, we don’t really go to the outside world searching for more.

In general, be minimalist, choose timeless pieces, and high-quality goods. Then keep them until they lose function. That is good advice to follow for life.

Back-to-School Essentials

  1. A coffee maker that can make fuel you for the entire day. (In September 2021, The Perfect Brew reports that women spend about $2,327 per year on their coffee habit, while men spend almost $400 less, at $1,934 per year. Save yourself money!)
  2. The only pen and paper you’ll ever need
  3. A smart sleep assistant that also gets you to class on time
  4. This kettle for coffee, tea, and instant cup of ramen noodles
  5. An Anti-Anxiety Therapy Notebook
  6. A reusable water bottle
  7. A toaster for one to reduce your electricity bill (avoid the oven if you can!)
  8. Noise-cancelling earbuds.
  9. One reliable pan to cook all your meals at home – you only need one!
  10. A laptop bag (Does anyone use text books anymore?)
  11. Reusable lunch containers

I wish every student luck on their first day back-to-school.

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

Play Pretend: Stress Free Travel

Summer season is just around the bend (can you believe it’s May?!?) and people are starting to pack their travel bags. After two years of disruption and uncertainty, we are slowly easing into travel again. Confining travel to the summer months could become the new norm, since winter is tainted with the edict of flu season. We, ourselves, did all of our international travels in the summer of last year, having met up with my sister in Iceland and Spain. Then we holed up during the winter months, exploring only our home state, California. In light of upcoming travels, I thought I would dedicate this month’s play pretend post to everything one needs for easy packing and stressfree travel.

Stress free travel is all about simplicity. Whether you are jet-setting abroad or flying to a neighboring state, for work or for play, the best thing you can do is pack less and with intention. My travel packing tips have helped others travel like a minimalist so I definitely recommend starting there.

Despite simplicity, there is an argument for adding items to your journey that make it better. The trick, in my opinion, is counting tidbits for self-care essential. Self-care can instill a sense of peace in the same way simplicity can. And peace is joyful. Joy is the natural antidote to stress and is a famous tranquilizer of the nervous system. Keep it simple, yes, but take aboard the micro-comforts. Here are my current favorites.

Stress Free Travel Essentials

  1. Set of beige packing cubes from Monos $90
  2. Travel Jewelry Case from Cuyana $98
  3. Laptop Backpack from Calpak $128
  4. Pocket Friendly Hand Sanitizer from Noshinku $9
  5. Favorite Travel Mug and Bottle from Kinto $32.50
  6. Destination Coffee Magazines from Drift $28
  7. Ginger Flight Aromatherapy from Aesop $33
  8. Hydrating Hand Balm from Aesop $31
  9. Sateen Eye Mask from Coyuchi $18
  10. Nutrient Mist from True Botanicals $24
  11. Portable Steamer from Steamery $130
  12. Clear Liquids Container from Truffle $45
  13. Cozy Cotton Marled Socks from Parachute $19
  14. Luggage tag shaped portable charging bank from Calpak $32

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

A Rainy Day Starter Kit

Rainy season is here and I have put together a rainy day starter kit for Fall! I absolutely love the rain. As a kid, I used to post up by the window panes and feel the thrum of raindrops as I read a book. As a teenage, I loved to hide under the blankets and listen to music or talk to my friends. Adult me is about the same. I now love drinking coffee, writing on my blog, and flitting across Pinterest on rainy days.

It may seem weird to say, but I do like to set up my surroundings on rainy days. That’s why I made this rainy day starter kit! I’ve got to create the right atmosphere before settling into the cold, gloom, and rhythmic lull. This means pillowy blankets, candles, coffeehouse music, and quiet spaces. I create forts where the cat would find me. I dim the lights and play pretend I’m in the Nordic North. My attire matches the event by wearing dark colors, and itchy socks. Together, I’ve wrangled a list of things you need to make the most of your next rainy day.

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

Play Pretend: A Morning At Your Work Desk

After writing about my new String work desk yesterday, I started to daydream about ideal mornings at my new ”office space”. When I first quit dentistry, I was very unhappy with where I was working. I spent an entire month brainstorming why things did not work out. I read books on how to organize your work space, how to make your work line up with your dharma, how to create a good work-life-balance, and how to create an environment that increases the chance of happiness at work. Books I read included Joy at Work by Marie Kondo, The Kinfolk Entrepreneur, and Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. I learned that my previous job did not align with my dharma. The environment I was placed in was not conducive to my personality.

I spent days writing lists of what items I imagined would be in my ideal workspace. Some of my requirements included a carafe of water, a beautiful everyday coffee mug, a minimalist laptop, a few plants, a scent diffuser or candle and a beautiful pen. I also jotted down activities I would like to do each morning. I thought about how items could help me to achieve things I wanted to do.

For example, a beautiful carafe of water be a great reminder to drink 8 glasses of water each day. A beautiful coffee mug will make fueling my energy more enjoyable or meaningful. A minimalist laptop will allow me to work on blog posts without distractions. A big work desk will help facilitate multiple tasks. A few plants will keep me joyful and breathing quality air. Meanwhile, a scent diffuser could help emit aromas that create a calm atmosphere. Lastly, a beautiful pen would inspire me to plan wonderfully productive days.

On the flipside, I also wrote down items I did not want in my space. I did not want a clock anywhere in my office, because I believe that creative work should not have a time frame. I also find the ticking sound distracting and stressful. Plus I would be ever-conscious of my progress, or lack-there-of.

I did not want a lot of drawers as I knew I have the habit of stock-piling paper. I did not want an insane number of pens (do you know I use one at a time and own no more than three?), as I get frustrated by clutter. And I did not want to face the inside of my home, because it would cause me to get up from my desk and do chores and errands. This is why my desk used to face the dark corner of the living room, and now faces out onto the street.

This isn’t to say that our work depends solely on the stuff we own, but it does make a difference. I find that having the right items really make or break my productivity level. Also, surrounding myself with special items make work more enjoyable. So in today’s play pretend post, I imagine all the things that I would love to eventually surround myself with in my future work space.

A Morning At My Work Desk

  1. A water carafe (affiliate link) as a reminder to drink plenty of water.
  2. A daily coffee mug that’s beautiful to use.
  3. A thick throw (affiliate link) for colder mornings.
  4. An accessory tray (affiliate link) that works as a pen holder as well as a coaster.
  5. A candleholder to write by firelight.
  6. A diffuser (affiliate link) to create a calm environment.
  7. A narrow filing cabinet to organize paperwork by.
  8. A plant baby for reviving the space.
  9. A desk lamp (affiliate link) that’s adjustable but doesn’t get in the way of work.
  10. A laptop dock (affiliate link) when it’s time to clock out.

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

Play Pretend: Spring Refresh

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

I view Springtime as a marker for starting anew. I rally my energy to refresh our home in preparation for the warm months ahead, and to shed behind the winter blues. Not that California has much of that to begin with. Like a sprightly elf, I tick away at my ultimate cleaning list with renewed fervor, even though the New Year was not too far gone. I lovingly make our home airy and light, which is to say, I declutter, shuffle, and rearrange to my heart’s content, and then some.

When I say Spring refresh, I do not mean shopping for a doozy of new decor, such as pastel wreaths and cheeky doormats. Rather, I perform a list of simple things using what I already have to spruce up the home and make it feel and look revitalized, without actually a fresh load of stuff. I throw away the unwanted things, tidy the clutter into hidden boxes, wipe down every surface, and fluff the cushions. I wash the pillows, flip the mattress, throw open the curtains (and the windows with it) and water all the plants I’ve already collected. I imagine that everything is new, by making them feel new. This is a play pretend series, after all. Of course, all of this with the help of some of my favorite things.

+My favorite cleaning appliance, zooming along.
+An eco-conscious all purpose cleaner, my reusable spray bottle and a pile of white rags.
+Our crisp and buttery duvet set in muted ivory, flipped over from the winter sage green.
+Pillows that take you straight to Dreamland, freshly washed once a year.
+A floral scent to set the mood, lit in the afternoon before meal preps.
+A fruit bowl to decorate the farm table with, piled high with citrus picked from the parent’s neighborhood.
+A natural jute rug for bare feet, and painted toe nails.
+Bringing the outdoors in, on a monthly basis.
+A purifier to clear the air, and allergies.
+A flower vase to accentuate a shelf, or something similar that also happens to hold fruit-infused water.

If you’d like to make your house feel anew, without spending money to do so, I would highly recommend rallying friends and family, or your inner gusto, and completing this ultimate cleaning list that I wrote for neatniks out there. It is seriously the best.

Care to see more play pretends? Right this way.

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Play Pretend: Sleep

I believe sleep is a method of self-care. When I feel worn thin, I turn to sleeping more as a form of treatment. In this play pretend post, I imagine the ideal space for a good night’s rest. Good sleep isn’t fashioned out of thin air. Many factors play a role. Setting up for sleep success involves creating just the right environment and surroundings. Take note of these sleep essentials, and start getting better sleep today!

Ways to Improve Sleep

There are many ways to improve sleep. The first rule of thumb is to reduce the amount of blue light exposure before bed. Blue-light comes from screens. Studies show that avoiding blue light at least two hours before bed increases sleep dramatically. Other forms of light can also decrease sleep quality. Heavy duty curtains can prevent outdoor light from shining into the bedroom and are a great investment. A cheaper option would be a sleep mask for the eyes for each individual. Anything it takes to reduce light exposure!

On top of sleeping in a darkened room, an ergonomic mattress has been shown to greatly improve quality of sleep. Investing in a high-quality mattress changes lives. We highly recommend the Leesa Memory Foam Mattress. Everyone in our social circle swears by it! We personally own a Leesa mattress topper and Leesa pillows. You can read my review of Leesa here.

An added priority should be sheets that are friendly to the skin and worth sinking into. Imagine trying to get good sleep in itchy sheets. Or sheets that keep you too warm. Worse, imagine being cold at night. I used to always wake up as a child with cold feet and hands. Sometimes I woke up a few times over the course of the evening! I never realized it was because I did not have warm enough sheets, but now I look back and realize that it caused me to have restless sleep.

Lastly, humidity control and replenishing masks allow skin to recuperate overnight. Humidity is very important as it helps with our airway and proper breathing. Have you ever woken up with an itchy throat and started coughing in the middle of the night? Or have you ever needed to get up to drink a glass of water? These situations are caused by air that is too dry. Check out my list of modern humidifier recommendations in this post.

Essentials for Better Sleep

In an effort to create the ideal micro-environment for decent shut-eye, here are a list of home favorites that set me up for sleep success.

Better Sleep Habits

In an effort to stray from the indication that good sleep requires spending, here are a list of free actionable tips to improve your sleep.

  • Maintain consistency in following your natural circadian rhythms.
  • Avoid screens up to two hours prior to bedtime.
  • Drink a glass of water prior to sleeping and upon awakening.
  • Quiet the mind in the form of meditation.
  • Include physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Consider when you eat. Go to bed satiated, not hungry or full.

Of course, a combination of both creating the right environment and doing the right actions creates the best results. You may also find relevance in the following posts.

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

Play Pretend: Hosting Thanksgiving

Hosting Thanksgiving may or may not be on the horizon for you this year. In which case, we can pretend.

The spectrum of likely events run large. Whether you are feeding ten friends and family members, or gathering as a couple in solitary confinement in your own abode, I would still wish that we celebrate this holiday in no less a jubilant fashion than the years before.

After all, giving gratitude is a pillar for living a life of intention and joy. It is central to my minimalist life, since gratitude for what I have rather than what I don’t is the fuel to my less-is-more mentality. So crucial to simple living is this practice that I spend every morning listing three things I am grateful for.

I think in 2020, we all need to spend a day listing what we are grateful for.

Regardless of how divided we are in our current life situations or political views, I hope these differences are set aside for at least one day. One day wherein we are strive for inner peace. One day to avoid fear, anxiety, and anger. One day to let go of control. I hope for one day wherein we could go on as we normally would have if it weren’t for our miseries. I hope we can pretend that we had woken up, started over, begun anew, and continued forward.

I know that over apple pie, I will be giving thanks for the possibilities our future holds.

Regardless of the current environment I’m placed in.

Regardless of what tomorrow brings.

I give thanks for hope.

On that note, let’s play pretend, and host Thanksgiving in whatever ways resounds with us. Below are my essentials for holiday hosts.

1. Dyson V8 Absolute ($150 OFF until November 7, 2020) 2. Molekule Air Pro (Use code thedebtist to save $25 off Air Mini, $32 off Air Mini+, $50 off Air, $77 off Air Pro) 3. Boll and Branch Linens (use code DEALS to get 15% off select styles from 11/2/20 – 11/8/20) 4. Aesop Room Spray 5. Jenni Kayne Hand Soap 6. Le Creuset Stockpot (on sale until November 11, 2020) 7. Notary Ceramics Candle Holders and Taper Candles 8. Kitchen Aid Mixer 9. Fog Linen Natural Linen Tablecloth

Play Pretend: Labor Day in California

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

By now, we have acclimated to celebrating holidays within quarantine guidelines. Limited to the outdoors, I wager that most quaranteams will rush to the mountains, lakesides, or beaches this Labor Day, if traveling at all. Perhaps wineries and zoos will see an influx of visitors. For those staying home, I foresee backyard barbecues and pool parties. I also assume that outdoor dining at restaurants would be popular, especially during brunch hour after everyone’s gotten a full night’s sleep.

The scenario list runs long, despite COVID-19 shut downs. Personally, I dream of early morning swims off of Lake Tahoe’s pier. Of cups of coffee and pancakes in a secluded cabin in Yosemite or Redwoods. Of late morning brunches in Solvang’s best wineries. Of afternoon ice cream along Newport Beach’s boardwalk. Of pink and purple skies surrounding Joshua Tree at sunset.

I am partnering with Nisolo to showcase a few of their best shoes in some of California’s most popular Labor Day scenarios. Play pretend with me.

Cabin in the Redwoods.

Nisolo Women's Amalia All Weather Boot in dark olive
Amalia All Weather Rainboot in Dark Olive

Brunch in Palm Springs.

Women's Nisolo Isla Slide Black
Isla Slide Sandal in Bone

Wineries in Solvang.

Nisolo Women's Serena Sandal Brandy
Serena Sandal in Brandy

Ice Cream at the Santa Monica Pier.

Sedona Derby in Rose

Sunsets in Joshua Tree.

Ecuador Huarache Brandy
Ecuador Huarache Sandal in Brandy

We are staying home this Labor Day for a change, but I’d love to hear what you guys are up to!

This post is written in partnership with Nisolo, my favorite ethical shoe company of all time. Currently, they are hosting an End of Season Sale until the August 31, 2020, which you can access here. The sale includes Factory Seconds which has traditionally been an in-store warehouse sale but due to COVID 19, they have made it available online for the first time. If you fancy a pair that happens to be full price, use the code NEWSEASON15 to get 15% off. I have personally owned more than ten of their styles and am a big fan of their high-quality leather and comfortable fits. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.