Noshinku Hand Sanitizers Protecting Hands That Do

A lot has changed in my life over the past two years. Certainly, a lot has changed in everyone’s lives, but I can only speak for myself. One of the best things that happened to me was gaining enough financial independence to quit a job that I disliked, which then allowed me to pursue my dream lifestyle.

Today, I work as a dentist only three days a week, and spend a majority of my time doing what I love to do. I help a bakery with their wholesale clients, walk and sit dogs and cats in the neighborhood, volunteer at a community farm, write in this blog space, workout everyday with a group, and on my additional spare time, I read books, bake bread, and hang out with friends and family. In order to avoid sick days that would hinder my dream life, I turn to better hand-hygiene with Noshinku, who created a hand sanitizer protecting hands that do.

Portable Pocket Sanitizer for Me and You

Noshinku has turned hand sanitizer into the essential worker for me and you. Perfectly encapsulated in a compact, flat, rectangular box, I can easily carry around this luxurious spritz on-the-go. Thinner than my Iphone 12 Mini, the Noshinku case fits in tiny clutches. It even stashes away in my Lululemon leggings side pocket, which is no minor feat. Et tres necessaire.

The case’s hand-feel is buttery and soft. Everyone on the internet is raving about it! It reminds me of Apple’s grippy Iphone case. Surely it would never slip from my fingers, although now that I’ve published this, all I can think of is: Famous last words. The rounded corners make it fun to constantly rotate in my hand. It’s become the new fidget spinner. Plus, the sleek case profile makes any minimalist swoon.

Catch me spritzing sanitizer in between each daily activity and task. This hand sanitizer is perfect for millennials like me with on-the-go lifestyles; professional enough for entrepreneurs and businessfolk, light enough for travelers and athletes, and strong enough for healthcare and mothers. Don’t leave this travel-sized spray at home. Unless, of course, you work from home.

Natural Ingredients for Healthy Hands

For those concerned about what is actually inside the case, let’s talk about it. Noshinku’s hand sanitizer is made of 100% natural ingredients that are safe and worry-free. The ingredient list is made up of words that I can recognize and pronounce, which is more than I can say for other brands. Efficacy is at its best, with the components eliminating 99.9% of the germs.

These ingredients include 70% ethyl alcohol from organic sugar cane, distilled to eliminate impurities that could cause skin irritation. It also contains aloe vera with soothing and anti-aging properties, jojoba oil to moisturize and protect skin from the elements, rosa canina for its reparative capabilities, argan oil which provides a natural barrier, and coconut oil to retain moisture. I love the light-weight feel of this hand sanitizer. And thanks to its moisturizing qualities, I can say goodbye to red, splotchy rashes and say hello to happy hands!

REFILL, REUSE, RECYCLE… REGRAM?

Can you believe that this sanitizer is equally as good for the planet as it is for the hands? These tiny capsules are refillable in the simplest way. Eco-friendly refill options up to a gallon are available on their site, thereby reducing plastic waste associated with most sanitizers. Even the smaller 500mL refill pouch can refill the capsule 5+ times. Taking into account that it only takes one spray to cover your hands, the refill options really make a huge environmental difference!

Plus, Noshinku has a Recycle Program. Partnering with Teracycle, Noshinku has launched an initiative that promotes recycling. Users can send 6+ empty Noshinku products and Terracycle will recycle them responsibly so that nothing ends up in a landfill. The user will then receive 20% OFF their next Noshinku purchase. Alternatively, one can post a picture of themself recycling ANY single use sanitizer product in a Terracyle bin, tag Noshinku, and Noskinku will send a custom 20% off code for a refillable mister.

Pretty as Perfume

If you think the aesthetics are pretty, wait ’til you try the scent! The spray comes in four fragrances, all of which smell like a bottle of Aesop’s best perfume. There are no alcohol odors here!

Lavendula is floral, sweet and slightly spicy due to a blend of rich lavender and cardamom. It is the perfect Mother’s Day find. Refreshing and clean Eucalyptus has hints of herbal rosemary and marjoram, the perfect final touch after a shower or washing of hands. Woodsy Bergamot smells of citrus, cedar, and black pepper, essential for the avid hiker or your average forest bather.

But the one that surprised me the most, the one I fell head-over-heels for, was the masculine Vetiver, which opens with crisp and sweet wood that settles into a creamy leather with earthy under-tones. I’ll be fighting my husband for this one! To be honest, they all smell really, really good. It is difficult to choose just one. If you are unsure which spray is right, try Noshinku’s discovery pack.

Everyone can get around this new hand hygiene habit with Noshinku at play. In fact, if you’re having trouble developing one, try Noshinku out! Studies have shown that habits are easier developed when tied to a cue or product. Try associating hand hygiene with one of Noshinku’s scents. You may be surprised at how easy it is to develop a hand sanitizer habit!

Nourishing, protecting and rejuvenating hands everywhere, this hand-sanitizer is a blend of substance and style. It is modern minimalism, the marriage of function and beauty. No wonder it won a Best Beauty Product Award from Byrdie in 2021. Noshinku is here to support my busy life, so that I can focus on actually living it.

With that, I leave behind words from Noshinku themselves:

NOSHINKU was founded on the belief that life is lived in the details and that every moment, no matter how small, impacts one’s quality of life. We exist to enable hands that never want to be idle; for hands with a persistent need to do interesting things in the world around them. We exist to keep hands healthy, because healthy hands have the power to change the world. #ForHandsThatDo. You can nominate someone in your life whose hands you admire for a chance to gift them a free NOSHINKU.

These thoughts are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

My 6 Favorite Winter Skincare Products

About two years ago, I started to experience skin rashes. The first time it happened, it was on the back of my neck after wearing a newly bought vintage sweater that was as itchy as hay, but cute as can be. At the time, I knew nothing about the importance of using skincare products in the winter. I had barely turned thirty and I remember thinking to myself, “Is this it? The downfall everybody has been telling me about?”

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out exactly what was causing the phenomenon. I had never taken care of my skin before, heard no such thing as specialized lotions. And I used bars of soap for both body and face. Apparently, that was blasphemous. I still remember my dermatologist’s face after my confession. It was then that I started to learn about skincare products.

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It turns out that the cause of my skin rashes was a combination of stress and eating certain foods. Particularly, unhealthy foods heavy in sugar. I found that the only skin cream that worked to treat the rash is a corticosteroid, which I learned in dental school has terrible side effects is used long term. I did not want to use the cream every day. So instead, I turned to my lifestyle and tried to mitigate the effects by reducing stress and eating foods that better support my body. Meanwhile, I learned a lot about skin companies that use natural ingredients.

My two favorite skin companies are True Botanicals and Aesop. Together, they make up my winter skincare product line. Since my skin issue tended to flare up in the winter and the summer, I thought I’d spend a few moments sharing my tried-and-true arsenal for battling skin issues in the winter.

My Favorite 6 Winter Skincare Products

+ TB Eye Cream – This eye cream really works! It reduces wrinkles and dark circles, resulting in smoother, brighter eyes. Unlike most eye creams that fake results using waxes, shimmer or silicone (ew!), this one features a bioactive moisture retention complex from the Resurrection Plant. The eye cream is infused with Tree Bark Extract which addresses the root cause of dark circles. Additionally, antioxidant-rich Turmeric, Coffee and Licorice Extracts depuff and brighten the 360° eye area to deliver youthful-looking, radiant eyes. This product is hypoallergenic and pregnancy safe. Best of all, it lasts a long time!

+ TB Face Cleanser – True Botanical’s face wash is my favorite. I never used to use a different soap for my face! Little did I know that the soap for our bodies are harsh for the delicate skin on our faces. TB has two face washes – Renew and Clear. I like the Renew facewash, which is better for dryer skin types such as mine. It really improves the dullness and dryness! It is also great for aging skin, as it reduces wrinkles. The key ingredients are green and white tea, aloe vera, and green tea seed oil. It also has a beautiful subtle smell that makes face-washing a luxurious joy. The wash is naturally scented with grapefruit, lavender, vetiver and jasmine. Lastly, my sister-in-law tried the Clear version and said it was great for acne-prone, oilier skin. She loved it as much as I did!

+ TB Hydrating Spray – TB’s nutrient mist is a god-send. I carried this product around with me all summer. I still remember it rolling down the aisles of a Southwest flight because it fell out of my purse during take off. A kind lady in the back must have realized my loss, as it was returned to me mid-flight. My roomie knew how much I loved this product and gifted it to me for Christmas. I can’t wait to have it all winter too! It really helps to quench my skin with antioxidants. It also sets makeup, in case you need a natural alternative. The product is hypoallergenic and surprisingly uses kombucha and algae extract as two of its main ingredients.

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+ Aesop Parsley Seed Anti Oxidant Hydrator – I have tried a decent number of Aesop’s facial moisturizers, but this one is the best for me. This light-weight, year-round moisturizer really hydrates my skin! It is rapidly absorbed and leaves the skin feeling as supple as a baby’s bottom. It is particularly good for winter, cold environments, air-conditioned environments, or simply chronically dry skin. If you prefer a heavier hydrator, the Camellia Nut also has wonderful results. I recommend it for right before bed. However, the Parsley Seed if just so great at any time of day. And alas, it lasts much longer.

+ Aesop Masque – I love anything that brightens and hydrates the skin. This overnight masque does just that! Most masques feel itchy to me while on. It pulls my skin taught and makes me feel very uncomfortable. But this masque by Aesop feels as cool as a cucumber upon first application. I sleep with it at night and wash it off in the morning. I can really tell the difference in my skin when I use it.

+ Aesop Hand Balm – We were first gifted an Aesop hand balm for hosting a Thanksgiving event in 2018. It changed our lives. My husband loved it so much that he actually bought his own tube of lotion. And when we are away from home, he can be caught snooping in my bag in search of mine. “To borrow some.” This hand balm is thick, creamy, and hydrating. It isn’t anything like other lotions. Gone are the signs of hard-working hands. Mine used to be riddles with calluses and skin tags, dry as the desert heat and as wrinkly as a well-bathed child. The texture could take a while to get used to, but I swear by it. Plus the scent is heavenly, and there’s a matching beaded hand soap that I’ve converted multiple friends to.

These products are by far my favorite winter skincare items in my medicine cabinet. Winter can be tough on our bodies. Keeping the skin hydrated and happy is very important.

Other things to do this winter:

+ Stretch to loosen up the joints

+ Be active to get the blood flow going

+ Get outdoors to seep in as much sunlight

+ Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

+ Eat foods rich in anti-oxidants to boost your immune system

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

Frugality: Avoiding the Call to Early Holiday Shopping

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

It’s been a minute since I’ve written a post about frugality in this space. Which is ironic because it’s our number one tactic for paying back $575k of student debt aggressively. But a few days ago I was irked by an advertisement that flickered its way through my InstaStories. It already bothers me that Instagram advertises like crazy on the app., but usually I can let it go and just flip through to the Stories I actually want to see. This one, however, was special. It was so special that I interrupted my husband’s reading to show him the ad.

The ad publicized an article written by New York Times three (four?) days ago. The article called people to start their Christmas shopping now in order to beat shipping delays. “Economic experts advise getting your holiday shopping done ASAP.” Ironically, this was published the day before SPY took a turn for the worse (Monday morning). Stocks are falling, consumer consumption is an all-time low as the government’s aid and renter’s protection ends, inflation is rising … and this is their idea for boosting the economy? Get people to spend more money, ASAP by instilling fear of missing out? I’m DEAD.

Before you rush out the doors at the behest of LA Times and start spending hard-earned dollars on Christmas gifts, please stop and think. Okay, so maybe little Johnny might not get the toy of the season this year. Isn’t it too early to HAVE a toy of the season? Also, will little Johnny really care about the same toy four months away? I mean… I don’t have them, but… kids, am I right? And what are we exactly teaching younger generations here?

I recently read in a book called Influence by Cialdini that toy stores have a tactic, which is to stock their shelves short of a very specific seasonal toy on purpose during holiday season. The toy is advertised heavily pre-holiday season so that kids are clamoring to get their hands on it. The parents, of course, promise the children to get that toy for them for Christmas if they are good, only to find that the toy is sold out and they cannot get their hands on it. Because the parents have made this small commitment to their child, they feel the need to buy the toy sometime early the following year (and substitute with a different toy during Christmas time so they don’t appear empty-handed), usually in January or February when the shelves are re-stocked. Anyone who works in the toy industry knows about this tactic (apparently), as the author of the book first-hand experienced seeing his neighbor two years in a row in the toy store on a February day. His friend who works at the toy industry confessed to the tactics toy stores use.

Can we please all agree that these consumerist ploys are not beneficial to any of us, only to the larger companies who make money off of us? Can I just say that this could be a tactic used to get us to spend money to “boost the economy” aka their wealth? Or perhaps it is the companies’ way of anticipating the repercussions of aggressive money printing, debt postponement, and the end of government aid at the end of the year and in calling for early Christmas shopping, securing our dollars right now before the possible dip?

Look, I get it. You want to show loved ones you love them. I myself publish gift guides in this space. Gift-giving is actually my love language (in case you didn’t know). But there is a line I draw.

I’ve written before about my thoughts on Black Friday. I’ve written advice about how to write a holiday no-gifting letter. I wrote about getting a group together to create a new norm of saying “No” to Secret Santa Gift Exchanges. I gave consumable Christmas gift ideas as well as ten really simple gift options. And if you wish to move the needle one way, I suppose your own actions do more than words, yes?

Anywho, if you fear missing out on a very specific purchase, by all means, rush out the door. But honestly, now isn’t the time. Now is the time to save your money. Stay frugal. I, for one, am staying put. No ploy for me. If the shelves end up running dry, it’ll be bread and cookies for everyone.

Italian Pasta Salad

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

Over the summer, we spent a weekend in Colorado and met up with a dear friend (our accountant, actually, who of course I became dear friends with) and his wife who was also a dental school classmate of mine. It was the first time we saw friends since the stay-at-home mandate and it was our first sign of normalcy, an indication that things would eventually be okay.

They were hosting us in their lovely backyard and as I watched them wrangle their two kids, put one down for a nap, entertain a talkative other, turn on a grill, make burgers, grill hot dogs, and continue a constant flow of conversation, I thought to myself, “Man these people are super heroes!” Which, I suppose, all parents are.

But the thing that stood out to me the most was when we sat down for lunch, with the older one seated at the end in his floating high chair and the table set for five, my friend turns and pulls out this pre-made pasta salad and a bowl of already chopped fruit from the fridge to add to our awesome burger and hot dog feast. I remember thinking to myself, “Genius!”

I am all about pre-making meals when hosting gatherings but sometimes, in between wanting to impress guests and wanting to serve fresh food, I do forget that the simpler things are usually best. What amazed me most about our friends was that they weren’t running around trying to pick up toys from the floor. They weren’t trying to prevent their kids from running around in the yard. They weren’t concerned about the details of the table setting. They were concerned about whether we wanted another beer or how much ice cream serving is good enough. They focused on their guests alone and I think that when you have two kids and two dogs, you should get a medal for that type of stuff.

I’m sure this isn’t the exact same Italian pasta salad that she served, but that is another great thing about recipes such as these. You can make them on the fly with whatever ingredients you have in stock and they turn out just as great. This recipe is easily made in big batches and it actually tastes better after a day of being in the fridge, soaking up the dressing’s goodness. Plus it looks good in any container.

My parents recently hosted a BBQ themselves and I made a huge batch of this and saved half for us (which we ate with salmon a couple meals in a row) and brought half to the party. I can’t believe I wasn’t making this sooner. It was such a breeze.

Ingredients:

  • Rotini or Bow Tie Pasta (1 lb)
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 cup of small tomatoes
  • 1 cup of pitted olives
  • Other additions/veggies you want to add. Examples include bell peppers, roasted eggplant, roasted squash, pickled carrots, and more.
  • Italian Dressing, to taste
  • Feta cheese to crumble on top
  • Black pepper, to taste.

The Process:

I think the process is rather self-explanatory but here it is in a nutshell.

  1. Boil pasta according to the box instructions. Drain and shock in a bowl of cold water. If you skip shocking the pasta and toss the salad when it’s warm, the noodles will stick together and have a gummy consistency.
  2. Cut cucumber, tomatoes, and olives into similar sized pieces. You want this pasta salad to be easy to eat, which means you want everything to be about the same size.
  3. Mix pasta with fruit and veggies, toss with Italian Dressing, and top with Feta cheese and freshly crushed black pepper.

NOTE: You may notice that we have red onion in this pasta salad. Red onion has a pretty potent flavor and you don’t want to detract from the rest of the salad. If you do add red onion, you can soak it in the dressing prior to adding it in. I myself place cut red onions into a mason jar and soak for at least fifteen minutes so that the dressing pulls out some of the red onion’s harshness. It will also give the onion a sweeter, pickled taste. I toss both onion and dressing with the salad in step 3.

For those interested, the plates are side plates in Morel from East Fork Pottery and the coasters are Herringbone in Black from Fog Linen.

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How I Made $288 in July 2020 Blogging from Home

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.  I started blogging right after graduating from dental school without ever thinking I’d earn money from it. At the time, I turned to this blog as a place to record my daily life. Ever since teenhood, I have kept some sort of journal or diary, which has evolved over time from paper to Xanga to Melodramatic, and now onto WordPress. For almost twenty years, I’ve processed information through writing, but never once did I think I would earn money from it. It’s been three years since owning this site but I am happy to say that it is now getting a little bit of traction and has started to earn me a little income. If I wasn’t working as a dentist during the day, I could see how this could become a steady day job. Still, even with my day job, it had turned into a fun side-hustle for me. I decided to log my earnings for my own personal tracking but also to share publicly how much one can make blogging from home. Now that remote work seems to be in the near future for many, I do think that blogging is a good option for people who wish to work from home. Likewise, it is an opportunity to be your own boss and have your own space. Since you are writing your own content, you have the flexibility to work whenever you want to, which I know can be a good or bad thing. Of course, you can always practice habits that will separate work from home. Lastly, this is a great hobby or job for creative people. You have autonomy over how to execute your ideas and thoughts, making this a very freeing experience for those who don’t quite fall neatly into a traditional work environment or big company hierarchy. But first, how did I start to monetize the blog? If you are new to blogging, you may not know that you can earn income from owning such a space. I certainly didn’t. But then I took this course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketingand it changed my life. Related Posts:

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is working with brands that you love in order to spread the word about their products and in return receiving commissions for any referred patrons. Sometimes these are physical products from almost any company you can think of. Other times, they are intellectual products such as courses or services that help improve other people’s lives. The best part is that you don’t have to “sell out” to do affiliate marketing. You don’t have to scheme or cheat people. For me, it’s really just promoting companies that I believe in. For example, the companies I choose to partner with are those that promote sustainably sourced products using fair trade and ethical factory conditions. I like to promote small name businesses trying to create social or environmental impact. I try to keep it to an exclusive few even though I’ve been approved for over 2,000 different companies (so far). There are a few nuances to affiliate marketing and I didn’t know much about it prior to the course. But the course helped me to learn A LOT and it’s just another case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You could learn it all yourself, but it’s hard to without a guide to get you through the basics. I highly recommend this course if you wish to monetize your blog but don’t know where to start.

Extra Income Report

Now, onto the numbers. In July 2020, I made $288 in extra income. Of that, this is the breakdown:
  • All $288 is from sponsored posts. I count the monetary value of products that I receive as “income”. I do not accept products for review without first learning about the company and product. As a minimalist, I also only look for products that we currently need. I am honest in all my product reviews and list both pros and cons because I want to be as helpful to the consumer and the company, both.
I believe that July was a little low since I published half as many posts as June and May. Yet I received 800 more views than a normal month which shows that this blog is growing. I know it seems like not much, but as something I do for fun, I think it’s a nice little additional income. Over time, I hope to continue posting more income reports. Maybe it will help others looking for a side-hustle get a feel for whether blogging could become an alternative for them. As always, my goal with this blog is to promote intentional living. Writing is a way to create a lifestyle that is in tune with what you want to do. Sure, it may not be the perfect job, but if working from home and having flexibility help allow you to live your dream life (one that includes traveling the world or becoming a stay-at-home parent), then I hope this space brings you that value. If you are interested in starting a blog, I use WordPress. Feel free to sign up using my affiliate link. If you already have a blog, I want to refer you to the course that helped me monetize mine. It’s a really great starting point. It’s called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Intentional Living: Vitruvi

The world’s been pretty topsy-turvy. The trees outside the bedroom window have assumed their once-a-year summer blooms. Bright pinks and yellows littering our skyline, but I haven’t had the time to notice. I teeter-totter between slow-living and stress, which makes the time pass with such speed. I haven’t taken the time to stop and ask, but now I do.

“How are you?”

Are you coping like us? Is there suffering? What can I do?

During this time, I hope you are finding time to focus on wellness and mental health. I know I haven’t had as much as I would like, but I sure as heck try. It’s all we can do, anywho.

One of the things I’ve been attempting is simply breathe.  Essential oils by Vitruvihelp to set the mood I need to get through one more day. Or rather, one afternoon after an especially trying work day.

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I don’t have a fancy humidifier by any means. I have a plain white bulky thing that I purchased about a year and a half ago using a Nordstrom gift card which I received from my father-in-law. It was a gift for turning thirty. I think the humidifier is meant for babies. Either way, it works.

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I add a dash of Vitruvi essential oil blends to get me in the right mindset. I prefer the blends because it simplifies my life. Of course, if you’d prefer you can order the essential oils separately and mix your own potion.

I love turning on the humidifier and using the SLEEP blend right before bed. Think fresh linens and soft florals. It runs until I wake in the morning. It is also a good choice during a soak in the bath, or while reading in bed. Other great evening blends are NIGHTCAP and DUSK.

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In the wee hours, after I’ve had my morning coffee, I switch to the BOOST blend by Vitruvi. Notes of Juniper, Grapefruit, Bergamot and Lime really liven me up as I write a long list of things I want to get done. If you are struggling to face the day, perhaps switch out the task manager with a list of things you are grateful for.

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Point is, scents have the special ability to take us to places we are fond of. There’s a blend for all your needs.

Dreaming of vacation? Try RETREAT.

Wishing you were outdoors? Reach for GROVE or PACIFIC.

Hoping to get some deep cleaning done? Turn on CLEAN SWEEP for inspiration.

I know it isn’t much. But during times like these, anything that helps us breathe easier and experience life better is absolute gold.

This post is in partnership with Vitruvi. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Apple Walnut Tea Cake

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

This post is in partnership with KitchenAid and Le Creuset. Both companies have agreed to partner with the blog as I document my baking adventures. This particular recipe was modified from the book Tartine No.3. Instead of the Kefir, I substituted Bulgarian yogurt. I learned how to bake bread with Tartine and own two Tartine books. This third edition goes through the nuances of different flours and I would highly recommend to those who have the basics of bread baking down but are looking to discover a little more. 

It’s Monday, the first week where I resume normal schedule at one of my dental offices. Back to four days a week, 9.5 to 6. When I heard the news last Tuesday, I have to be honest, I was a bit saddened. I really enjoyed the quarantine and found that it helped me to slow down my pace, We got to experience “retirement life” and I am now jealous of Mike’s ability to continue on in this way while I go back to work.

It isn’t that I dislike work. And I’m not ungrateful for the opportunity. I am quite conscious of the people without work, who have been struggling to get by these past few months, so I know how lucky I am. It’s just, I was enjoying the leeway that life gave me, which I never give myself. For once I was forced to have no obligations or responsibilities.

I spent the latter half of last week lamenting my loss, coupled with jamming my few moments of free time with “activities”. Which goes to show my need for a forced pause. The activities were “slow” – but still, the moments were teeming with shenanigans, to say the least.

These included cooking, baking, seeing loved ones and old friends, running and hiking every morning, being out in nature, practicing yoga, reading books, meeting for a book club, a Zoom coffee date, writing a ton, playing board games and watching movies. My anxiety-driven state pushed me to do more with my time, cherishing every moment, squeezing out more than usual with what I had left, as if a drowning woman gasping for air – a contrasting dichotomy that displays exactly who I am and how I want to live.

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I know I shouldn’t think of this time as an “end” to something good, but in a way, it is. It was a period of self-reflection and self-discovery even beyond what I had already achieved. It coincided with the close of the bakery and for the first time in a year, I was baking for myself. It was afternoons of tea cakes and mornings of matcha lattes, coffee lip drips and lounging about couches. It was a time for rediscovery of fiction and podcasts, as well as re-connection with friends and family.

In celebration of all said things for the month of April, I baked a cake. A life flushed with metaphors, I wanted to have a celebratory marker rather than a funeral. This is my ode to April.

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Apple Walnut Tea Cake

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup apple grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup leaven
  • 1/2 cup Bulgarian yogurt
  • 1.5 cups Spelt flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp clove
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil

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The Process:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grate apples until you have 1 cup. I found that an average apple is about 3/4 cup.
  3. Place the grated apple, egg, leaven and yogurt in a KitchenAid stand mixer and mix on medium speed with a whisk attachment until well-incorporated. If your leaven is thick, you may need to stop the mixer half-way and scrape the sides with a spatula.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar and spices (all the way until the salt) and mix together.
  5. Add the olive oil to the dry ingredients and use two knives to cut the oil into the flour mixture until well-incorporated.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer, along with the walnuts and mix on medium speed until well mixed.
  7. Take a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and spray the inside with baking spray. I like to line the bottom with parchment paper for easy removal.
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through for even baking.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool in the loaf pan for 30 minutes.
  10. Invert onto a baking rack, and let cool completely to room temperature.
  11. Slice and enjoy.

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This loaf is on the drier side due to the walnuts (quite the contrast to the Lemon Poppyseed Loaf). It also is a bit earthier in flavor, more robust thanks to the spices, and hardly sweet at all. The apple is a very light flavor, so if you’d like a more moist, apple-like cake, you may add grated apple until you reach your preferred consistency, perhaps another fourth of a cup. For me, the dryness and walnuts add a coarse texture to the loaf, which I absolutely love. It pairs really well with a matcha latte.

TheDebtist may receive a small commission via links throughout this post. As always, thank you for supporting the companies that are behind the workings of this blog. 

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Intentional Living: Tech Boundaries

Creating boundaries is, quite frankly, an incessant hobby of mine. It’s a way in which I organize my world, a way to decide which realities get to partake in my life. Like writing, it’s fun for me, as well as essential to maintaining a sense of inner peace. This is hardly the first time I’ve written about it.

Speaking of, I have found that my inner peace is most jostled by the presence of tech. Not every technological invention, persay, as this blog space has actually been helpful with maintaining my sanity. But rather, tech meant to connect. Media in general, social media in particular, acts as a stressor in my life. Call me introvert, but the stimuli and external input puts me on edge, perpetuates my teeth grinding habit, and to state bluntly, makes me extremely irritable and cranky.

What I’ve come to realize is that all of this discomfort with tech really boils down to a few facts. The first being that I am easily overwhelmed by external stimuli. It throws my inner compass off-kilter. It interrupts my thought processes. My moods sense other emotions and empathizes by mimicking them. Because of this, I have always been a withdrawn child, preferring books or sleep over play-time with other children. I refuse to own a TV because I prefer to avoid the news (which I find to be mostly negative and fear-inducing) and TV shows (which I find to be addictive despite having little substance). Likewise, I dislike technologies that connect me to things  outside of my inner knowing.

But secondly, I have come to realize that this dislike towards tech results from a dislike towards the industry at large. It isn’t the phone itself that I hate. The phone is helpful to daily life. Rather, it’s the scientists, developers, psychologists – all of who are trying to cajole us into spending our time doing things on their agenda. It is this realization that gets me riled up – to the point of saying, “You do NOT get a say in how I spend MY time.” I’ll admit – they are extremely good at what they do. They send us sponsored ads for companies we might like, showing us products we might spend our hard-earned dollars on, which translates to products we spend our valuable time earning money on. They’re also good at creating a feed that gets our attention, under the premise of keeping us connected. They invented platforms that facilitate mindless scrolling … and you all know how I hate mindless activity.

All of this has resulted in a fire in my belly, which I use as ammunition to try my best to resist a dependency on my phone. But also, it has graciously led to a softening of the heart, and has lifted much of the guilt that I used to feel around my “weakness” for staying connected via Tech. We could all afford that bit of forgiveness. Because it’s not just the tech we are battling with. It’s a group of really smart people who are very good at their jobs and who are spending trillions of dollars into trying to get us to spend our valued time on what benefits them. No wonder we are overwhelmed by their constant pushing. I’ve started to realize that it’s alright to be sucked in sometimes, but to find awareness of that occurrence is already one step closer to battling against it.

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What I have found helpful is the creation of boundaries around tech use. I want tech to be what it was originally created for – a tool to do something, not a black hole for mindless scrolling. Below you will find a list of boundaries that have either been helpful thus far or that I hope will help in the near future.

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  • Use physical location as a boundary. I have a specific spot for my phone, and the action I try to abide by is docking my phone at this location which happens to be by the window sill away from my bed. I try to never set my phone next to the bed on the nightstand, a habit born after a friend of mine talked of the possibility of electronic waves and radiation emitting from the device at all times. It’s a habit that has stuck. When I come home, I try to dock my phone by the window sill plugged into the charger. The location is hard to get to due to it’s isolation. It requires me to walk over from other parts of the home and brings with it an extra trigger for awareness. I have time to think to myself, “Why am I walking over to pick up the phone? Is it worth the energy? Is it worth the time? Is it important or necessary to do right now?” Additionally, since it is not by my bedside, it is not the first thing I grab for when I wake up in the morning, and I do not look at it before I go to sleep. I used to spend the first and last hours of the day thumbing through Instagram but after I created this intentional location for my phone, I have not done it once in the last year – which is quite the triumph.
  • Don’t use the phone earlier than a certain time. It doesn’t have to be as strict as a particular hour. But for me, I attribute it to a sect of activities. Since the phone is docked by the sill away from the bed, and my alarm is in the form of a hungry, wailing cat, I don’t feel the need to reach for my phone the minute my eyes flutter open. My habits in the morning are to drink a full glass of water first thing (which I’ve set on my nightstand the night before), to feed the cat (less than half of the days of the week since usually Mr. Debtist beats me to it), and to roll out the yoga mat for a few moments with Adriene before the roommate starts work in the living room. After my yoga morning stretches, I put away the yoga mat and start to make breakfast with my husband in the kitchen. We will eat breakfast together and this is when I first allow myself to pick up the phone – after I’ve already given back to myself, taken care of my body, and spent a few mindful moments with family.

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  • No phones in the evening, especially before bed. This isn’t so much a hard-set rule as a consequence of the way in which I spend my evenings. Perhaps it was after I read that blue light greatly affects quality of sleep that I subconsciously started to avoid the phone at night. More plausibly, it’s a result of my Iphone 6 running out of juice mid-afternoon and the habit of plugging it in after coming home. Plus, our evenings are the times we spend with each other. Even during quarantine, our days are mostly spent to ourselves, with hobbies, chores, blogs, classes, or whatever else we like to do. We reconvene for lunch mid-day, but hardly do we ever hang out after breakfast and before 4:30 p.m. It’s a lifestyle for introverts, that’s for sure. But in the evenings, we come together to make dinner. We made a rule when we married that we will eat our meals together and we haven’t strayed from that, so we will sit down to eat. Then we will do dishes and spend time playing a board game, watching a TV show or movie, making drinks, or lying with the cat. I don’t know why evenings are our “we-time”. It’s probably derived from our previous work schedules, where evenings were all that we had. Regardless, the phone has no place in our relationship come evening. And I certainly don’t bring it to bed with me at night. Once it’s docked for the night, I scarcely look for it or pick it up til morn. Even he has evening restrictions on his phone, turning on his Night mode past a certain hour which changes the screen to Black and White. If you’ve had trouble lately, perhaps the “Do Not Disturb” option will be helpful?
  • Keep the phone on silent mode. Embarrassingly, I turned off all notifications from my phone when I first got one, at 21 years old, because I disliked the sounds the phone made. Pings and rings would startle me from whatever I was doing and cause me to jump. I guess you could say I am highly sensitive to loud sounds. I would literally get scared, and was on edge whenever I had my phone on me. So I kept my phone on silent mode, which prevented me from developing a habit of urgency. I never responded right away, and I usually missed calls. Nobody seemed to mind. I simply got back to them when I had the chance.
  • Remove app notifications. I get annoyed by intrusions, in general. As a child, I would fly into a rage when my sibling or parents interrupted me while I was focusing on a tasks. As an adult, I would feel similarly towards my phone alerting me of an incoming text or social media comment – things that I found unimportant and too frequent for my taste. I never allow apps to notify me – with the exception of text messages and phone calls. Since the phone is already on silent, the notifications don’t really work until I look at my phone, but by deleting other app notifiers, I found the screen to be less cluttered whenever I checked. Both this and the previous tip have helped me to be more present throughout the day and have removed the pressure to always be plugged in.

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  • Placing screen limits or app limits. I really like placing screen limits. Usually, I place impractical limits, ones that I could never achieve such as 30 minutes of phone time a day – but it’s always something to work towards to, which is my main motivator in life. You can limit an app itself (like Instagram) or a general category (like Social Media). You can also limit phone usage en total. If you go over, don’t let it be so disappointing that you give up altogether. Be gracious and remember, it’s an entire industry.
  • Limit the number of apps. Some people really enjoy organizing their apps into categories. Some have a main screen, and then three other screens to swipe right to. I have seen people organize by app color, by app function, by app name. Despite loving organization, too, I prefer to be organized by simply having less. My husband will tell you that I refuse to download apps. I don’t have a ride share app, a food delivery app, or a music app. I don’t even have an e-mail app. The e-mail one was a biggie because when I deleted it, I found myself only checking once or twice a day on a computer, versus, say, every five minutes. I avoid game apps (because I know how addicting they’re made to be and how un-stimulating it is for the mind) and I would say I have fallen behind on social media apps barring Instagram. Plus, as organized as a phone looks with all the apps in their proper boxes and squares, I’d have to say that the screen looks much more polished with less clutter taking up space. A screen clear of apps is similar to a room clear of stuff. Both allow us to focus on the important things in life.DSC03540
  • Turn off the phone when not in use. I did this for a while and I am happy to report that it helps tremendously. I like that the phone is a tool, meant to do something specific, and then meant to be put away. I use the phone mostly in relation to this blog and Instagram, which I wish was a crutch excuse but after many experimental tries to obliviate Insta-use, I know now that it is a necessary truth. Typically my blog work was in the early mornings before a dental shift, so what I did was turn off my phone (completely!) once I clocked in to do dentistry. On my downtime, instead of using my phone, I read a book. I turn it on to check during lunchtime and after work, then dock it on the sill. I did this for a while and it was fantastic! My screen time decreased to my proposed 30 minutes a day (total!) for multiple weeks. Unfortunately, I fell off track when the stay-at-home mandate had me working more hours in this blog space – not entirely a bad thing. But it’s good to know there’s that habit shift to fall to, once dentistry days pick up again.
  • No phones around people. This is the one boundary I am terrible at. However, I am highly inspired by my roommate who is very good at not having a phone out when with people. Instead she is present in conversation, actively listening or doing something with her mates. I, on the other hand, have my phone out at the dining table. I photograph food and coffee. I feel the need to document my time, unfortunately at other people’s expense. I try to keep the phone away when socializing. I find it easier to do when I am at a party or get-together, and more difficult to do when we are out eating dinner. I am drawn into conversation when only a handful few are attending, and use the phone as a means to escape larger, more overwhelming crowds. It doesn’t make it right. This is definitely one boundary I want to practice moving forward.

For those feeling like this is all a bit too much, just pick a few to adapt. Essentially, these are simply habits. Similar to the way your hands automatically reach for your phone, you can train the self to automatically put it away. Not all tips may work for you but it’s the mindfulness that really makes the practice worthwhile. You’ll notice moments where you are more easily drawn, the reflexes more easily learned and less easily broken, and the difference between being connected to your inner knowing versus the world at large.

For the still dubious, instead of completely eliminating phone dependency (an act that can feel too much like a win-or-lose), try crowding out. Crowding out tech use is  something secondary to my lifestyle, which is filled with hobbies and activities that I enjoy doing. I’ve found that I hardly touch my phone when I’m immersed in a book, focused on learning something new, or processing my thoughts in written form. If getting-rid-of-altogether isn’t your way, perhaps think of it as an opportunity to substitute with actions worthy of your time and of your own choosing.