Play Pretend: Spring Refresh

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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.

Related Posts

Play Pretend: Sleep

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On the heels of my previous post regarding the power of sleep as a method of self-care, I decided to play pretend and create the ideal space for a good night’s rest. Good sleep isn’t fashioned out of thin air for most. Many factors play a role. Some of these factors include the avoidance of blue-light from screens up to two hours prior to bedtime. Light in general should be avoided. Heavy duty curtains can prevent outdoor light from shining into the bedroom of a downtown loft. A cheaper option would be an individual sleep mask for the eyes. On top of sleeping in a darkened room, an ergonomic mattress has been shown to greatly improve quality of sleep. An added priority should be sheets that are friendly to the skin and worth sinking into. Lastly, humidity control and replenishing masks allow skin to recuperate overnight from the harshness of sunlight.

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.

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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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.

Play Pretend: Last Weekend of Summer

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

Just daydreaming of a summer that’s back to normal, one where children don’t suffocate playing in masks and parents have back-to-school to look forward to; where salad lunches can be enjoyed indoors out of sweltering heat and where we could travel and roam carefree, where sharing watermelon at baby showers and blowing candles at birthday parties in the park weren’t causes for concern.

I visited my mom and sister today, both working for schools – one in California and the other in Europe – both ending their summers. I asked if my mother has dined out since COVID started, and she has not, foregoing her usual girl dates with fellow work colleagues. I asked my sister if she’s figured out the VISA thing yet what with the consulate being closed and all. She has not, despite having shipped all of her stuff to Spain for the upcoming school year.

Time flew in stillness. We blinked and the break is gone, but the virus remains. I wonder if this really is our new forever.

Hand-in-hand with my day-dreaming are the following few things that exude everything summer represented in my youth, as well as the things I miss dearly about my favorite season of the year.

  1. An inflatable swimming pool set up on backyard concrete and front-lawn grass.
  2. Swimwear that’s a bit retro, and a lot of sustainability.
  3. A pair of sunnies for brighter days.
  4. Striped beach towels for lounging on the strand.
  5. Insurance against sun damage.
  6. A beach umbrella to collect friends under.
  7. A fisherman’s hat, for gathering hair as well as seashells.

Play Pretend: Bread Baking

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To say that I live in a bakery is kind of an understatement. Even though the operations of Aero have gone from our home, we still churn out sourdough loaves, baguettes, cookies, scones and teacakes weekly – if only for ourselves, friends, and family. I have easily baked a thousand loaves in the last three hundred and sixty five days. On top of bread and pastries, discarded starter has gone into pancakes and breakfast items. Even now, as I sit and type this post, I am getting up every thirty minutes to do bread turns. Mike stands behind me making flour tortillas from scratch and I can hear the squeaking of our tortilla press. He’s even wearing a linen baker’s apron! He has gone down a different path, experimenting with ramens, noodles, and tortillas. All things that I can get behind.

I may have let go of the bakery but the bakery never let go of me.

Far from getting tired of our kitchen floors being covered in flour dust, what we have as a unit (roommate included) is an equal appreciation of jam, butter, and avocado toast, which we connect over cups of coffee in the mornings. We share the justification of munching on teacakes by going on group runs. Japanese ramen and Mexican dishes run rampant on our weekly menus.

There was a time when we were the only ones dishing out gluten products from scratch. But during these troubling months, I’ve seen more and more people turn to bread baking and I can’t help but rejoice on the inside. Visiting the grocery shelves these last few months has shown me that people are hanging onto bread flour and active yeast lately. Hopeful me is standing by the sidelines with jubilee cheering on a healthier reformation around carbohydrates. For those who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon, here’s a bit of pretend. Or for those thinking of starting, a worthy wish list to consider.

+ A mill to get the freshest quality flour.

+ A Cast Iron Combo Cooker that’s affordable but also quality stuff.

+ A reliable rolling pin to ease the process (if you know, you know).

+ A linen apron, so that you can do turns right before work.

+ A Kitchen Aid Mixer, a.k.a. a baker’s best friend.

+ A tough bread knife that can cut day old sourdough (arguably the best kind).

+ A decent cutting board.

+ A bread box, for those who don’t freeze their bread (we do).

+ A marble pastry slab to keep dough cool while rolling.

And of course, jam, decent butter, and market avocados.

Any questions regarding bread baking, I’d love to help. Say hi on my Instagram.

Play Pretend: Memorial Day Weekend Staycation

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

I once posted a guide to staycations less than a year ago and I find that post to be excruciatingly relevant as Memorial Day Weekend nears. I doubt many of us will be jet-setting across the globe with our families, but at the same time I would gander that many of us are tired of hunkering down at home. The trick to any staycation, of course, is to rid the self of routine. Anything that you would do on a normal weekend should be shoved under a rug, if only for the holiday weekend.

Now staycations don’t just marvelously appear out of thin air. The most successful ones require meticulous planning, should a simple chore meander its way to make a ruinous weekend. I like to plan a few activities throughout. Not so many that we can’t remain fluid, but enough to avoid the sinking feeling that all this is was a wasted holiday.

Everything you need to create a delicious weekend – as if you haven’t had enough practice this quarantine season – below.

A few tips, if I may.

  • Get dressed for the occasion. Even if it means you will be in your home all day long, I really do feel that getting dressed will make this time more special. Put on some earrings and shoes. Wear a nice dress if weather permits. Remember the days when you were a child playing dress-up? It’s the first step to playing pretend.
  • Start the day setting the tone at home. Draw back the curtains, fling open the windows, light a candle. Make the bed by straightening the sheets and fluffing the pillows. These are the first few things I do to make the home feel like someplace I want to be.
  • Plan time outdoors. I know this may seem a bit anti-staycation but in all honesty, cooping up all day isn’t the best thing for any of us these days. Even if it means stepping out on your tiny-home balcony in order to breathe fresh air and get some sunshine. I like to wear my bathing suit and lay out on fake grass. You may prefer to sit in a swing and drink white wine.
  • Set the table. Let’s face it. We are all probably eating at home. But instead of cooking up Top Ramen like we always do, why not spruce up the event? Perhaps a cheese board of your creation in the afternoon. A farmer’s market fruit bowl. Freshly baked scones for tea time. Support a local restaurant that you’ve been wanting to try for AGES. Order delivery and set the table. Pull out all the stops. Linens, your best china, and candlesticks. Set the mood for something more special than TV dinners.
  • Add a spa-like quality to rest. Some vacations are for adventure. Others are meant for reset. Since the former is inaccessible to many of us at the moment, I’d like to propose a relaxing staycation for all. Forget the flower petals on the bed. That will only result in more clean-up. Keep it simple. Put on silky pajamas, soak feet in herbal water, crank up the essential oil diffuser. Turn on slow jams and dim the lights.

For those wishing to spruce up the weekend with a bout of shopping, here are a few sales going on for which my readers can receive discounts.

Looking for new shoes? From now until the end of the month, readers get an additional 20% off all sale styles from Nisolo with the code MDWDEBTIST . For those looking forward to decluttering rather than shop, send your unwanted but still usable shoes to Nisolo and save $40 credit for a later date. 

Preparing to lounge in your underwear all Memorial Weekend long? TheDebtist readers get 15% from Organic Basics using the code DEBTISTOBC. This weekend only, get free international shipping using code GLOBAL. Check out my reviews of other sources for Intimates in this post

Planning to spend the weekend outdoors? Right now, Prana has 25-30% off select styles until the 25th of May. If you’d preferOutdoor Voices, here is a code that gives $20 to you, $20 to me. 

Play Pretend: Living Room Remodel

The timing of finding a sustainable couch option earlier this month and the sudden transformation of said couch into a work space has caused me to infatuate about an entirely brand new living room. Part of the plan for finding a used Ikea Soderhamn sectional on Craigslist was to revamp what we found to be a sustainable option into something that was aesthetically pleasing as well. After ordering a Bemz linen cover in silver grey and natural wood legs, which I felt would give it a Scandinavian mid-century modern vibe, I started to wonder about what other improvements in the room I could do.

Hence, large bits of my free time have been sullied into scrolling social media for inspiration as I fall down a digital rabbit hole on my way to remodel wonderland. And while I sit here pining away at wood based decor, ethically-sourced rugs, and modern cat furniture (yes, we went down that rabbit hole as well), I can’t get myself to pull any triggers. Because on the flip-side, I am also itching at the thought of paying down my student loans aggressively. At 0% interest rate, it would behoove us to pinch pennies and funnel what we can into a metaphorical envelope for the day when we return back to working-like-normal. At which time we would pay all of the money we’ve saved to dramatically decrease my student loan debt before the interest rate returns back to normal again on the last day of September.

So as I sit on my “new” couch awaiting its pretty covers, I do nothing else but daydream of Saharan hues and of buying my financial freedom instead of a new room. The couch has been, for years, the only thing this room needed. Having practiced making-do, I don’t exactly lament the lack of a remodel. If anything, it’s been quite a stressor considering all the possibilities. Rather, I perceive it as an opportunity to appreciate our newest addition to its fullest, without any distractions. I find that adding too much can detract from what you already own. If I rode this wave and bought a side table in the form of a stump, artwork in the form of pillows, and a rug for the cat to scratch, well, I’d sit here put-putting around worrying about spending enough time and attention on those things without being able to just sit on the couch. Whether that be reading a book, watching a movie, writing this blog or doing nothing, the new things would rob me of a simple enjoyment. So I’ll choose to do nothing.

In this journey, I’ve found that making a house a home is a process of learning who you are. After years of gate-keeping, I have found that this is, in fact, who I am.

But a girl can still day-dream of a desert-themed living space. As an ode to what I’ve been up to:

+ A neutral rug as a haven from cold cement floors.
+ Art in the form of pillows.
+ Tree tables for ceramic vessels.
+ A rattan chair to remind me of home.
+ Comforting touches for aforementioned tables and chair.
+ Space for a Feline.