This year, I have made it a personal goal to try more baking recipes. And whilst I don’t need more baking items in my pantry, I did end up buying this miniature loaf pan set that I’ve been pining over for years. It has taken me this long to pull the trigger because I felt guilty about adding another item to our kitchen. But after having them, I just think these miniature baking tins from Williams Sonoma (aff link) are as jazzed up as I thought they would be. Zero regrets! So I figure I’d dedicate a post to their wonderfulness.
My sister-in-law has had a set of four miniature baking tins since her twenties. Her aunt gifted them to her for her apartment. Space-saving, these tins are stackable and store nicely in a tiny space. They are non-stick, making them hassle-free to clean, and easy to turn out. And they don’t get locked up when stacked upright.
Conveniently, one loaf pan recipe divvies up neatly into the four tins. As someone who hopes to bake more in 2023, I love that I can try new recipes without committing to eating all my sweets. Baking for two tends to yield excess, so we are constantly walking pastry down the block to my parent’s house. But now, I can have entire mini loaves, giftable to friends, neighbors, and even my dental staff. It will also keep me from ingesting too much sugar 🙂
After baking my first item in these (Tartine’s Banana-Date Loaf!), I have found that reducing the bake time to 3/4 the amount to accommodate for the smaller pans worked well. Of course, keep an eye the first time you try every recipe. The best way to test for doneness is to stick a wood stick in the middle and see if it comes out clean.
I found these tins at Williams-Sonoma (aff link). At under $35 for the set, they were a real treat for me! I mean, I have trouble spending that much on dining out. Knowing they’ve been on my mind for a while, my husband convinced me to get them. I already know that they will be of great use! I was actually debating on decluttering my bigger loaf pans after getting these to clear up kitchen space. Regardless, these will inspire me to try new recipes. I’ll make an effort to post the successful ones throughout the year here too, so do check back in!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
Our home has always had its center around the kitchen. Cooking over a stove, arguing over a new recipe, or silently eating our dinners is how we spend time with each other. Every event we’ve hosted for friends and fam had people gathered around food and drink. Whether it’s croissants and coffee or dinner and wine, there was always Mike and I behind the stove whipping something up and listening to our guests carry on conversations. I prefer to watch them devour our hard work rather than partake with my personal anecdotes and opinions. My place isn’t at the center of the party, but rather, behind a pot, stirring something or other with a wooden spoon. A linen apron serves as my party outfit, and I am quite satisfied with that kind of life.
After five years of hosting every Friendsgiving event and celebratory milestone, it became decidedly noticeable that the pots and pans gifted to us on our wedding day were well-worn. All were Teflon pans advertised as non-stick but alas, everything eventually stuck thanks to my penchant for high heat. Their self-sacrifice did not go unnoticed.
The fry pan was the first to go. It didn’t even make it to year five. But it did do it’s time, patiently frying eggs and bacon, English muffins and grilled cheese. The wok was next, after a stir-fry gone wrong. Well, the stir-fry was fine but I let water simmer to remove the sticky sauce from the pan and one should never walk away from a stove with the flame on. Of course I forgot until the smell of smoke reached my nose while I sat on the bed, lost in a book.
Surprisingly, what still works is a Dutch oven bestowed unto me by my mum. It has been around for twenty-plus years, begging the question of degrading product quality control. We have a few other pans that, frankly, made it strictly because of their non-usefulness. A flat griddle I thought would make pancakes efficiently turned out to have just that singular purpose. A curved griddle that I thought would be useful for meats, burgers, and paninis was deemed non-essential. These things are biding their time. But the workhorses are long past their hay-day and needed some serious replacement.
As I belabored over options, I gathered a few requirements for our next cookware set. Over the past few years, I’ve developed an almost snobbish resistance to my Teflon pans. The reasoning behind it is hazy. Something about PTFE being carcinogenic and generally bad for our health. In fact, I’ve added a few cast irons to our kitchen arsenal (mostly for bread baking) since our wedding day in order to transition away from Teflon. However, the cast irons were too heavy for my taste. Close calls with sprained wrists made this particular dentist stray away from heavy options, despite being good alternatives.
I also required that the new cookware be minimalist. Classic pots and pans that would last the test of time are what I was after. I needed only a few essentials (forget the kitschy griddles and one-offs), and I needed them to store well. By now, we’ve honed in on how to manage a tiny space. We’ve also learned multiple techniques for preparing food, so that we didn’t require silly items such as ice-cream scoopers and garlic presses. No, the set I wanted would just be the mainstays of home cooking. After searching high and low, I finally found what I was hoping for in Caraway Home.
The Caraway Home Cookware Set is what we decided to embrace. It is free of PTFEs (like Teflon), PFOAs, and other PFAs such as lead, cadmium or other toxic metals. They also avoid hard anodization processes in its production. So what is it made of? It has an aluminum core coated in a non-stick ceramic with stainless steel handles and hardware. Meaning, it’s not as heavy as a rock. Yes the steel handles get hot, but I happily trade wearing oven mitts to lift the lids in exchange for ingesting carcinogenic metals any day.
In terms of quality, it stands the test. The pots and pans can withstand up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit in an oven. It is stovetop agnostic, compatible with induction, gas, and electric stoves. The bottom of the pans are metal, making me wish for one of those posh electric stoves popular in Scandinavian kitchen these days. Since we have metal grates, I have to make a mental note not to drag them across the surface. The pans heat up efficiently enough on low to medium heat. This time, I’ve made a promise to avoid high heat as they shorten the life span of any pan.
If you were wondering whether non-stick ceramic works well, I can attest that it does. Minimal oil and butter is needed, and the foods simply slide around the pans and pots! We’ve made a switch to using only wooden spoons and silicone tongs and spatulas. I have a fear that metal cooking utensils would scar the beautiful cooking surfaces. Plus they are so easy to clean. Mike and I are babying them, as we wash them with a soft sponge (no rough sponges or metal scrubbers please!) and dry them right away.
But the selling point that really got to my minimalist heart was the storage system that the cookware set comes with. It was the deciding factor, and honestly, the thing that most millennials would value the most. As more of us turn to tiny homes, apartment living, and nomadic van lives, the adage “less is more” has never been more appropriate. The entire cookware set stores well in half of a single shelf of my pantry. Magnetic pot holders stack them vertically as a beautiful canvas hangs on the pantry door storing the three lids. The storage system mimics Marie Kondo’s vertical folding of clothes, giving you easy access to whichever pot or pan you need. Visually, you can see all four at once. Gone are the days of shuffling through a stack of pans to get to the wok you need.
If you’re less of a home cook, but are planning to get married, move homes, upgrade your kitchen, or go off to college, I still think Caraway Home’s cookware set is worth taking a gander. In case you need very little, they have a minis duo set that 18-year-old-me could’ve made do with cooking for one. At the current discount price of buying a set, the cost of upgrading your cookware is quite affordable. And we really do love them.
Now I have my heart set on replacing our bakeware. If I said we cooked a lot, you should see my baking trays. They used to be silver, but now, coated in butter and grease and left in ovens a smidge too long, they are unrecognizably black. Copper-colored rust coat the edges of the rims. I just can’t bear to bake another batch of croissants on them. Caraway’s bakeware set has an aluminum core with stainless steel handles which I hope don’t rust. And the storage system is drool-worthy as mine are shoved haphazardly inside the pantry. There’s just no way to horizontally stack circles, rectangles and muffin tins, I swear!
The multiple color options speak to multiple styles, but I’ve got my eyes set on the navy for the bakeware set. I chose a cream color for the cookware and have some slight regrets on not being outgoing. However, I wanted the cookware to be timeless for both Mike and I. The bakeware set is mostly for me, leaving room to take a chance on color.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
After a year of living in this ‘new’ home, we finally have ourselves a dining table! We’ve made do thus far with a flimsy fold-out table that was my computer desk in middle school. It still had a mouse pad permanently glued onto one end. Rickety screws fell from the underside if you knocked it just right. I was constantly worried our meals would collapse onto my beige rug, or that the dogs would swing the legs out from underneath. Now that a dining table sits center-stage, I can finally find peace in our minimalist Scandi inspired dining room.
I originally had my sights set on Menu Space’s Snaregade Rectangular Table in Black Oak Veneer. But after eleven months of delays, I decided to give up on it. To which my mom replied, “What took you so long?”. As I called to cancel our order, the customer service rep informed me it should ship out in two weeks. Fool me ten times, shame on me.
However, providence has a way of working, as we ended up finding an alternative within a week of cancellation. A neighbor happened to be selling their one-year-old Hay Copenhague Deux 210 Dining Table in perfect condition. I got really lucky, as my requirements for the dining table were Scandinavian in brand, with a stream-lined silhouette in the color black. Frugal me also caught a break, as we were able to purchase it “used” at a mere $600! Or as Mikey would call it, “Ikea prices”. This ended up saving us over $1,000 from our original table choice.
Without risking sounding a bit woo-woo, I truly believe that saying no can lead to better yeses. I had my doubts about the original table from the get-go, having painfully labored through pros and cons when I first ordered it. None of the cards ever did line up. Luckily, my minimalist forte lies in the fact that I can make do with what we’ve got for a long period of time. That table ended up acting as a stand-in for something better. It’s been four years of homeownership and almost six years of marriage and we’ve just now bought a REAL dining table.
I was already familiar with many of the Scandi brands: Menu Space, Skagerak, Frama, Hay and Muuto. So when this Hay table showed up on my radar, it was quite a quick (and easy) decision. It was completely aligned with my values: minimalist, functional, beautiful, and affordable. Designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, you can find Hay’s dining table at Design Within Reach. We happened to find ours listed on Craigslist, which is also where we bought our Ikea couch.
I am ecstatic about it, as our dining space is the center of our home. We love to entertain people by way of drink and food. Gathering around a meal gabbing the night away is exactly how we prefer to socialize. I also adore it as I do a lot of my writing and work on the dining table. It has been such a joy laying out my plans for the week or typing away into my laptop at this new station. A new laminate based on nanotechnology makes up the surface of Hay’s Copenhague Table. It has an ultra-matte surface with a soft touch that is anti-finger-print and easy to clean. I’m considering getting rid of my WFH desk altogether and just working from the dining space!
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
I’m not the type to buy seasonal decor. There are many reasons why. I don’t like to store them, spend money on them, and swap them out every season. I know some look forward to these transitions, but as you can tell from this post, I’ve gone and missed most of autumn and am just now posting about cozy fall scented candles. However, in lieu of pumpkin throw pillows and orange wreaths, I do like to still pay tribute to the changing seasons. I just prefer to it by way of scented candles.
I like candles because they are consumable goods. They don’t add clutter to my home, yet they imbue the feeling that I need. They aren’t an eyesore and take up little real estate. Yet the smell of the best scented candles can make one feel fuzzy with emotion inside. Nostalgia rolls in as scents of pumpkin spice inspire me to bake something sweet.
My obsession with candles run year-round. Guests often comment on how nice the house smells, which brings me so much joy. To be honest, I would run candles all day if I could. I save the really nice ones for hosting or special events, but the good thing about candles is that there are many affordable options out there too. This list contains a mix of both splurge options and savings options. As the nights run longer, I’ll be bound to light them more frequently. There is nothing cozier than writing and reading by candle light.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.
The winter light is coming back around to the living room side of the house. This is the beginning of my favorite time of the year. Cold weather, foggy mornings, warm blankets, cozy snuggles, and more. It’s what I love most about living in our mountain home.
This morning, I spent time re-arranging the furniture. Changing the lay of the land makes it feel like I’ve upgraded the house when I really haven’t done much. Compared to what this space looked like when we moved in a year ago, we really didn’t add by way of decor or furniture. It’s mostly the same old. Part of what I do with intentional living is keep the minimum amount of stuff, and use it to create fluid environments. Sparking creativity by moving things around rather than buying more STUFF is kind of my forte … and the means by which we are able to tackle my massive student debt.
Today, it was swapping the sectional to be an L-shape against the other side of the living. This opened up space for opening our balcony door to allow the Fall air inside the home. Yesterday, we acquired a neighbor’s cute dog bed, which was kindly gifted to Theo after their doodle outgrew it. It deserved a lovely corner space in our living room and inspired the mirror swap. The Drink Morning espresso machine remains within easy reach, in case coffee is of the essence as I read in my Menu Space lounge chairs. It is my favorite way to make the perfect cup of coffee stress-free. You can read my review of it here.
The couch is the Insta-famous Soderhamn from Ikea. We bought most of the sectional from Craigslist, then added the ottoman and an extra chair. Ikea furniture is cheap enough, but Craigslist saved us a few hundred bucks. We then remodeled the couch with Bemz covers from Germany. You can read about the project here. This couch, when coupled with Bemz, is so modular that it’s timeless! We’ve had this couch since our last space, along with the Ikea media console, and the Menu Space lounge chairs.
“It’s fascinating to see how different an artwork is experienced when it’s on the floor rather than on the wall.”
Carsten Beck Nielsen
We also opted to go with the 65″ Frame TV so that we may throw up some artwork on there with the changing seasons. We are so happy to have chosen it. I have never been a TV person growing up, preferring paper and books over screens. However, if I am being honest, watching 30-45 minutes of TV with each other in the evenings is a really nice way to spend time with each other and unwind. It’s become part of our routine, and I can finally see the relaxing benefits of it. I also really love that it can act as artwork when people are over. I wrote a really thorough review of the Frame TV here, because I know it’s a big purchase decision. If you’ve been on the fence for a while, check out the pros and cons first!
Since our living room items never really change, I figure I’d type up a style post about the stuff I do keep. If you wish to shop our living room, here’s what we’ve got.
I waited more than a month to write about Therapy Notebook’s Anti Anxiety Notebook. I felt it was important I give it a proper review. Now, I can affirm that this is, without a doubt, the most useful tool I have used to date to rewire my negative thinking. I can’t wait to delve into the positive aspects of this book. It is a revolutionary way of addressing mental health, especially for those who don’t have the financial means, time, or space to seek out a therapist in person.
Let me start by saying I have no background in psychology. Although both of my sisters specialized on the subject, I personally have very few tools to improve my own thinking. I have a history with mental health, having experienced depression in my 20’s and anxiety in my 30’s. It took half a decade to figure out how to heal from depression, and it is taking just as long with anxiety. But the fact that I did move on from depression really proves that there are ways to undo harmful thinking. This book has empowered me in ways I didn’t know it could.
Before delving into the anti anxiety notebook, here are a few related post on mental health:
The Anti Anxiety Therapy Notebook applies the science of cognitive behavioral therapy. An introduction in the book walks one through separating the objective facts of what happens in our lives from the subjective narratives we attach to those events. We attach narratives in an instant – most of them are thought processes ingrained in us from childhood or our formative years. Deconstructing reality from our perceptions is a thinking process that takes practice. It starts with awareness. Properly asking yourself, what happened (physically) without judgement or bias requires effort.
Identifying Emotional Responses
Once you’ve separated what actually happened from what you perceived happened, it is time to address your feelings around the event and your thoughts. A feelings wheel in the appendix illustrates the emotions that can we can feel. I was surprised to learn that some emotions I thought I was feeling are actually a misdiagnosis of another, more accurate emotion. For example, when I felt nervous, I realized that the nervousness was rooted in fear, a fear of disappointing others or letting them down. Likewise, when I feel anger, sometimes it’s really because of embarrassment or shame. I used to think I got angry at people when really, I was most angry with myself. The feelings wheel really helped me narrow in on the most accurate emotion.
We tend to name an emotion and land on it, but reflecting on what other emotions are leading us there is crucial to our understanding. Emotions, like narratives, are reactive in nature. Usually, it is a repeat response to similar situations from our past. Analyzing those responses and peeling back the layers requires patience. All of this takes time. The journal has helped me to sit down with my emotions and identify them properly.
Once your emotional state is identified, the journal asks you to question the thought patterns that brought you there. Before this book, I didn’t know what thought patterns were. They are actually referred to as cognitive distortions, because of their inaccuracy and reinforcement of negative thinking and emotions. These lead us to think things that are unhelpful and untrue. There are 12 distortions described in the book:
All or Nothing Thinking
Magnifying the Negative
Minimizing the Positive
When I first started using the book, I made assumptions on my thinking tendencies. I thought the patterns that I fell into were Magnifying the Negative, Self-Blaming, and All or Nothing Thinking. I was surprised to learn that the traps I usually fell into were Catastrophizing and Fortune Telling. This makes sense now as my mind tends to lie in the future tense. A lot of my anxiety and negative emotions come from my fears that project out what I think could happen in the future. I realize that more often than not, my predictions are wildly dramatic and unlikely to ever happen.
Rewiring Negative Thinking
The last section challenges our brains to rewire and think in a new way. It begs the question, how can you think about the situation differently. I use this section to brainstorm all the different interpretations available, the possible outcomes, and the alternative emotional responses. This part of the process is cathartic for me. I imagine living in a multi-verse, where a different version of myself will think and choose to act in a more positive way. Then I choose which version of myself I want to be. This gives me more control of the situation’s end result. For me, that bit of control releases my anxiety.
How This Journal Helped Me
After using this journal for a month, I am less anxious about the things that once worried me. For one, it has shifted my attitude towards gratitude. It has increased my ability to be kind and to forgive. It has also increased confidence in my abilities, and removed some of the stresses of “What-Ifs”. Now I know that even in the worst case scenarios, there will also be a silver lining. I can’t stress enough how much improvement this book has given me in one month! If you wish to start your journey, I really do recommend this book. And if this is any indication as to the healing effects therapy provides, then it really is worth a try, for those who have been debating about it for a while.
What’s In the Journal
The Anti Anxiety Notebook starts with a few key points on how cognitive behavior therapy works. Interspersed throughout the pages are quotes to reflect on, as well as 5 coping mechanisms: Changing Mindsets, Mindfulness, Sleep, Positive Relationships, and Distraction. There are also empty pages scattered between journal entries, with enough room for a brain dump. I use this space for reflection, doodling, venting, and more. At the end of the book are 3 very useful appendices: CBT Basics, Cognitive Distortions, and The Feelings Wheel (my favorite resource!).
As for the journaling portion, the book includes dated pages where I was able to jot down events that caused anxiety. Questions I was forced to ask myself were:
What happened? (describe the situation)
What is going through your mind? (describe your thoughts)
What emotions are you feeling?
What were the levels of intensity of those feelings?
What thought patterns do you recognize? (more on that below!)
How can you think about the situation differently? (challenge your thoughts)
Is this book for you?
I have no experience in receiving therapy in person. But I know this to be true: Therapy Notebooks provided a way to map out my thought patterns and cognitive biases in my own space and my own time. Although it is made by therapists, it isn’t a replacement for therapists (if that is what you need). However, it does bridge the gap between those who can and cannot afford therapy sessions. The notebook lowers the barrier to getting help, when perhaps you don’t have the means to pay for it or the ability to leave work or home for a proper chat.
If you do end up trying it, I am curious to see how it serves you.
This post was written in partnership with Therapy Notebooks, a company looking to empower people with tools that improve mental health. My anti anxiety notebook was gifted to me by the company to try. As a practicing dentist, I experience anxiety every time I go into work. I also experience daily anxiety at a much lower level, because my thoughts tend to lie in the future, which is unknown. Part of my suffering is caused by a longing to control my environment and outcomes. That coupled with a culturally ingrained need to get along with everyone and avoid causing ripples in the proverbial water. The thoughts, opinions, and experience noted here are of my own.
For us, the kitchen marks the centerpiece of our home. It is where we spend the most time with friends, family, and each other. Whether it be experimenting with new recipes, making our daily coffee and toast, or gathering around the island for cocktails, the kitchen is where all the good stuff happens. Naturally, it is the room I care about most when it comes to aesthetics. I obsess about minute details and organizational systems. I am forever trying to keep the heart of our home neat, tidy, and inviting.
While there is merit to having a well-designed kitchen space, I stray away from having too much stuff on the counters. Consider it a minimalist tendency. However, I do make exceptions for a few favorite appliances. Most recently, a beautiful countertop spice rack from Evermill has taken center stage. It is my favorite new addition to our home. I am absolutely in love and here is why!
Evermill Promotes Simple Living
For many years, I have struggled with organizing our tower of spices. Unlike my mother, who managed cooking for our family with only a handful of spices, I have accumulated an overwhelming number of bottles in my quest to try new recipes. Opening the kitchen pantry door became stressful. Stray bottles would teeter totter, disappearing occasionally underneath the pile. I prayed for a simpler solution and reminisced about simpler times. I thought about the pros of cooking culturally traditional recipes and considered sticking to a few staple ingredients.
Luckily, my prayers were answered by the Evermill Countertop Spice Rack. This stunning showstopper simplified my spice buying process by stocking our kitchen with essentials diversified enough to cook a variety of culinary dishes. Spices such as Sumac and Coriander Seed are accompanied by the basic Bay Leaf and Cumin. More complex blends such as Harissa and Evermill blend (which is seriously so, so good with everything) round out the collection. The complex blends are perfect for stepping up my game for days that feel a bit blah. Just sprinkle over chicken and voila!
The Spice Rack is Gorgeous
The beautiful, sturdy rack can be placed on the countertop or mounted to the wall. There is also an alternative option for drawer storage, if counter-space is limited in your kitchen. For me, the display is pretty enough to break my cardinal ‘clear-counter-top’ rule. Exuding an Aesop aesthetic, the spice containers are a deep, amber color with decent weight. A knob at the bottom of the containers keep them directionally aligned. They will always face forward, despite returning them in a rush. Engineered with wide mouth openings, they are also quite easy to refill and easy to scoop using measuring spoons. Everything about the spice rack is drool-worthy. In fact, I placed it center stage, so that it’s the first thing you see when you walk into my kitchen!
Evermill is the Perfect Wedding Gift
The minute I received the Evermill spice rack, I grabbed my phone to text my brother’s girlfriend about it. ‘This is the first thing that needs to go on a wedding registry list!’ Packaged in a beautiful white box, the Evermill Countertop Spice Rack comes with 18 spices and containers (12 if you choose the smaller core collection), plus the rack itself. There are four colors to choose from: Gunmetal, Silver, White, and Black. We went with a black colored rack for our complete set of 18 spices, and let me tell you, it is SEXY.
If this product existed when I got married, it would have been at the top of my registry list. Now, I plan to gift this to all my friends. It’s the gift they don’t realize they need. Why? Because a newly wed couple would benefit from building a habit of cooking together. Personally, cooking meals is the one task that has made my husband and I closest. It is a way for us to discover new things, be creative, and work together. More importantly, it’s nice to reap the benefits of our hard work. I’d say it’s the perfect metaphor for a successful marriage.
One of the best things about Evermill is its commitment to less waste. I cringe whenever I have to purchase a miniscule-sized spice from the grocery store, knowing I will throw away the container in a few months. It feels equally wasteful whether the spice is packaged in plastic or glass. However, with Evermill, all spices are packaged in paper bags. And the entire collection is refillable! In its original packaging, the spices were shipped in paper bags for freshness and I have to say, filling the jars was a true joy.
The Spice Rack Offers a Great Deal
When it comes down to numbers, Evermill offers a great deal on their spice rack. Originally priced at $229, The Debtist readers can purchase the spice rack for $199 using the $30 coupon code: WELCOME30 .
As a shopper at Whole Foods and Sprouts, I can definitely say that the collection pays for itself. Purchasing the spices individually comes out to about the same price as the Complete Counter Top Rack. The brand I usually buy is Simply Organic, and these days, whole cloves run for $12.99 and bay leaves sell for $8.49. At $199 for the complete Evermill set, each spice would cost $11 through Evermill. It isn’t far off, especially when you throw specialty spices such as Sumac and Harissa in there, which are typically difficult to find and more than $11.
Mind you, this calculation is without accounting for the rack or the containers. It’s almost as if you receive the beautiful set-up and the convenience of having everything in one package for free.
The real value, though, comes in the long-haul. To refill the complete collection, it only costs $119. That brings down the average price per spice to be around $6. Considering how these spices are organic, I would call that an extremely good deal. With current inflation rates, who knows what spice prices will be like in the markets a few months from now. If I could buy high-quality, organic spices at $6 a piece, I would be quite content.
Evermill has leveled up our cooking experience
We can’t discount the fact that the new spice rack makes me want to cook more. Experimenting with spices and adding them to our dishes is very enjoyable. Nowadays we sprinkle sumac liberally over our salads, rub the Evermill blend whole-heartedly onto our chicken, and toss coriander seeds like confetti in brine. Our cooking experience has leveled up since getting Evermill. Not to mention, it eliminated walking to and from the pantry to grab spices. We simply reach over next to the stove and put the spices back right away. It’s a game-changer.
This post was sponsored by Evermill, who kindly gifted our home the complete counter top rack in black. The thoughts and opinions are my own. The links are affiliate links which will help support this space through commissions. Thank you for supporting the companies that support this space.
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.