It is May 17, 2022, and the current market is down, down, down. This applies to both stocks and crypto. Putting money in the market can be scary for short-term holders (although it’s a sale for long-term holders!). Plus, buyers in the housing market are slowing down with interest rates at nearly 6%, double what it was for the past two years. Meanwhile, the inflation rate is up, with an April-to-April rate change of over 4%, which makes holding onto cash unideal. For those near retirement (5 years out or less) or those saving for shorter term goals and want their wealth to grow, there is a solution in I Bonds! I Bonds are low-risk, inflation-protected assets that are currently yielding a 9.6% annual return until October 2022. This makes I Bonds a great investment option right now. Here is what you need to know about I Bonds.
What You Need to Know About I Bonds
I Bonds are an inflation-protected asset. While inflation remains high, I Bonds will likely continue to see high interest rates. In November 2021, the I Bonds had a guaranteed 7% interest rate. Just this month, the interest rate bumped up to 9.6% and will remain at that rate until October 2022.
The I Bond interest rate is determined by a fixed rate and the inflation rate. Currently, the fixed rate is at 0%, and the inflation rate is at 4.3% for the next 6 months. This is how we get to 9.6% annual rate of return. The interest rate renews every 6 months. It will remain at 9.6% until October, when the rate will change. If inflation goes up, then the rate will go up, too.
I think everyone should be considering I Bonds right now. But before you buy, here are a few things to note.
Facts About I Bonds
You can invest $10k per person/entity per calendar year into I Bonds. I have also heard that you can invest an additional $5k in paper bonds directly from your tax return.
Per entity means if you own a business or a living trust, you can invest $10k in I Bonds on behalf of those entities as well.
The interest rate is redetermined every 6 months.
I bonds cannot be cashed for at least 12 months (1 year). Do not tie up money that you need in 6 months, for example. Do not tie up your emergency fund into an I Bond either. Look at it as a short-term investment. If you are looking to buy a house at a moment’s notice, I Bonds are not the option for you. However, if you wish to buy a house next year, then definitely consider it!
The life of the investment is 30 years. But the money can be pulled out any time after 12 months.
There are no penalties for pulling the money out before the 30 years are up if it has been in the I Bond for at least 5 years.
If the money is pulled out between years 1 and 5, you lose the interest gained from the last three months. This doesn’t sound terrible to me. For example, I can buy $10k in I bonds right now with the plan to pull it out in a year. I will gain 6 months of interest at 9.6% and 3 months of interest at the percent determined in November 2022. I can still beat the current market.
There is no state tax on I Bonds.
There is a federal tax on the gains, but one way it can be federal tax exempt is if you use the money from your I Bond to pay off higher education costs from a list of approved institutions, including paying off your student loans! However, there are requirements. For example, you cannot file married filing separately. Income requirements also apply. Single tax filers must have an adjusted gross income less than $94,550. Married tax filers must have an adjusted gross income less than $149,300. I would definitely check out the rules on this page.
Who Could Benefit from I Bonds
I Bonds can be a useful tool for multiple financial situations. Whether you are a college graduate looking to pay off student debt, a high school graduate just starting college, parents who want to start a college fund, a young couple saving up for a home, an almost retiree looking to earn in your last five years of working, or a short-term investor unhappy with the current state of the market – all of these people may want to consider I Bonds.
Trying to decide what to do with the rest of your cash? Why not consider a High Yield Savings Account? If you happen to choose to open a Marcus High Yield Savings Account using my referral link, you can receive an additional 0.20% Annual Percentage Yield (APY) on your Online Savings Accounts for 3 months. Learn more about HYSA in my post below.
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.
Summer season is just around the bend (can you believe it’s May?!?) and people are starting to pack their travel bags. After two years of disruption and uncertainty, we are slowly easing into travel again. Confining travel to the summer months could become the new norm, since winter is tainted with the edict of flu season. We, ourselves, did all of our international travels in the summer of last year, having met up with my sister in Iceland and Spain. Then we holed up during the winter months, exploring only our home state, California. In light of upcoming travels, I thought I would dedicate this month’s play pretend post to everything one needs for easy packing and stressfree travel.
Despite simplicity, there is an argument for adding items to your journey that make it better. The trick, in my opinion, is counting tidbits for self-care essential. Self-care can instill a sense of peace in the same way simplicity can. And peace is joyful. Joy is the natural antidote to stress and is a famous tranquilizer of the nervous system. Keep it simple, yes, but take aboard the micro-comforts. Here are my current favorites.
Mike and I had the privilege of attending the 2022 Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston a few weekends ago. We booked flights the day we learned that volunteers gain entrance to the event for only $5. Mind you, tickets typically cost $395 per non-member. We of course flew for FREE using our Southwest Companion Pass (Find out how you can travel the world for FREE here). At the event, we got to check out innovative, up-and-coming brands and products in the coffee industry. Call it caffeine, but we were buzzing with excitement over some of the coffee gadgets we discovered. In this post, I share with you the top 15 best new coffee products from the 2022 Boston Specialty Coffee Expo that we are very excited about! If you are a coffee nerd, you’ve got to check these out.
Top 15 Best New Coffee Products from the Boston Specialty Coffee Expo 2022
I not only got the opportunity to try the Drink Morning Machine, I also got to take it home! When I won a raffle with Eight Ounce Coffee, I chose the Drink Morning Machine over four other available prizes. Most of the available options actually made this list, but I still chose Drink Morning to lug back home on an airplane with me. That’s how much I like it!
This is a sleek and minimalist espresso machine that is easy to use for non-geeky coffee lovers. It also makes a mean ‘spro. It is a capsule coffee machine, so it is surprising that it can compete with other coffee makers short of the big guys.
For example, the La Marzocco Linea Mini still outperforms this machine, but you really have to know what your doing. An inexperienced person cannot pull a good shot from a Linea Mini and that’s the truth. Not even on their luckiest day. Drink Morning has bridged the gap and allows one to make great espresso without the background.
This is a great option for many people. Small offices and businesses who want to offer their workers great coffee should be getting this machine. Someone who loves coffee but wants to save money on their coffee bill can also invest in this affordable espresso machine. Busy folk and parents would also like it. I mean, even a young child can make a decent espresso for their parent using the Drink Morning app! It has been my go-to machine since getting it, and I highly recommend it.
I will surely be writing a more thorough review of this machine soon.
Another impressive espresso maker was Flair’s Neo Espresso Maker. It’s a manual espresso maker, that requires neither electricity nor pods. It is a great option for beginners. The machine controls the water flow, leaving all the hard work to the technology. Whether you use a high-end grinder or a cheaper one to grind your beans, it does not matter. It will still result in a good espresso shot.
I guess we can talk about the DUOMO distribution tool next. This tool was at multiple booths. Every one was raving about it. The tool optimizes an espresso shot by distributing coffee grounds without a tamper. This tool prevents the coffee from being compacted into a dense mass. In fact, pins and needles on the tool work to create air pockets for water to flow through easily. At $225 a pop, I had to question efficiency. Interestingly, multiple sources confirmed that the shot comes together into one stream five seconds sooner than if the distribution tool was not used! Super sexy stuff right here. #Iykyk.
Imagine a drip coffee machine engineered to produce a cup with similar quality to a pour-over that a barista prepares for you, but without the work. Well, I introduce to you the Ratio Six. I first heard of Ratio back in 2021. The machine features a shower head that evenly disperses water over the coffee. This should distribute water in a similar way that a barista would in a cafe, pouring in a circular motion over a funnel, meanwhile maintaining ideal temps. Ratio Six has precision and simplicity, an invention of ‘convenience without compromise.’
Mikey fell in LOVE with Time More’s white nano scale. So much so that we went back to the Eight Ounce Coffee booth on the last day to see if we could buy their model off of them. Unfortunately, they couldn’t sell it to us because this product has not hit the market yet! But we’ve definitely got our eyes on it.
Time More has a larger scale already on the market, but this tinier counter-part is perfect for our small space and travel lifestyle. It is compatible with all Chemex sizes, and is cute and minimalist. We cannot wait until it goes live! If you’re looking for a scale option now, check out Time More’s larger scale. It is selling for an impressively frugal fee compared to other coffee scales.
The speech that Morgan gave during the final competition of the National Barista Championship really spoke to a new wave of coffee makers – the ones at home. As coffee moves from a commercial space into our home spaces, we will find that the most innovative ideas and experimental recipes may come from individuals, not coffee companies. As we connect with each other more through digital media, we will be able to share our ideas and grow exponentially, thus advancing coffee into a new generation made up of at home brewers and roasters.
When it comes to micro coffee roasters, Ikawa’s booth was one of the ones that stood out. I have seen Ikawa online before and was immediately attracted to its minimalist and sleek packaging.
While we are talking about Time More, I should mention the Time More 123 Go. It is a grind-and-brew option for people on-the-go. Perfect for those who want to carry their coffee machine with them, wherever they are. It is an all-in-one solution. Equipped with the high-precision burrs found in Time More hand grinders, a precision, 13-hole water dripper and fine mesh cone filter, the 123 GO enables consistent, flavorful extraction in approximately three minutes. Just don’t leave your favorite coffee vessel behind.
Wacaco’s Nanopress has been around a while, but it was recently reinvented into a Picopress. A small, capsule, manual espresso maker, many trampers feature this nanopress in their travels. After comparing the previous model and the new version, I have decided I like the previous model more for a few reasons. The new version, called Picopress, is heavier by 14grams, which is a big faux pas for hikers and travelers. It also does not include a vessel, meaning you need to carry a second item to put your coffee in. This adds to the total weight of your pack or bag. Alternatively, the older Nanopress came with everything you need. After checking out both of these in person, I can appreciate the Nanopress for its utility, even if the Picopress arguably makes pro espresso.
I am going to finish off this travel series with what was possibly my favorite invention at the convention. It’s a pour-over funnel from Orphan Espresso. A married elderly couple invented this because the wife never travels without her coffee tech. They got tired of packing a heavy, awkward, funnel-shaped dripper whenever they went anywhere. So they invented the flatpack.
A flat, portable device no thicker than an Iphone, the flatpack folds into a funnel with two flow rates. Differently spaced ridges allow for both quick or slow coffee extraction. It is unbelievably light in weight, with the base made from carbon fiber. It comes packaged in a neat little pouch, which fits in my hiking pant pocket. Any multi-day hiker can appreciate this invention. I would have to say this was the top, best new coffee product I saw.
In the brewing competition, one of the contestants was using this water dispersing tool from Melodrip to make the judges their coffee. It was the first time I heard of it but another user of the tool swears by it. It’s supposed to minimize overextraction and amplify the clarity of the cup. I am very interested to try it for myself.
Not that I need another dripper option, but the Origami dripper is too pretty not to mention. A colorful, stackable dripper that has two base options (resin or wood), this multi-fluted cone has small and large options. The 20 flutes improve airflow, allowing for a faster brew. It is versatile, as it is compatible with flat filters, as well as conical or wave style filters. The dripper is made of minoware clay, a traditional technique from the Gifu region of Japan that only a few dozen artisans know. It is definitely a piece of functional art.
We don’t own a brush to clean our group head but this tool is so essential. All the national competitions were using this tool to clean their espresso machine’s group head after every contestant. I would highly recommend!
I fell in LOVE with this rainbow spoon. Even though it seem superfluous to add this to the list, it is one of the best new coffee products that I am excited about. This spoon is perfect for mixing espressos from my Drink Morning Machine. I would love to see this with a Pink Not Neutral Vero Cortado cup.
If you like this list, check out these other popular coffee-related blog posts:
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A majority of the products here can be found at Eight Ounce Coffee,a Canadian based specialty coffee equipment company that luckily ships to the US. We discovered their booth at the Expo and fell in love with what they were selling. A lot of our newly discovered favorites were from their booth. And they carry some of my already-favorite brands such as Kinto and Hario.They are going to be our new one-stop shop favorite for specialty coffee products and goods!
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.
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:
Spring is my favorite season to spruce up the home. In this season, I embrace traditional Spring cleaning rituals, a decluttering frenzy, and a refresh of my home’s aesthetics. On the latter point, I set about renewing the home in minimal and simple ways. This entails throwing open the windows, putting flowers in a vase, and clearing the counter space. For a long time, I dreamed of doing more grand gestures to welcome Spring. Like changing couch throw pillows, hanging a different front door wreath, or buying seeds to plant. But that just wasn’t the frugalist and minimalist way. Somewhere in those dreams lay the hope of a Spring refresh in the form of white cotton sheets. Finally, Mildly Home has made that one dream come true, without comprising my values.
Mildly Home is a textile company producing goods that impact lives and well-being in positive ways. They create products that are made well and with intention, without breaking the bank. In essence, they want to make high quality goods affordable for everyone. They are priced much lower than competitor textile companies such as Parachute Home, Cuyana and Coyuchi. For example, Mildly Home is selling their duvet cover sets for under $100! It’s the perfect option for a refresh.
They have proven that a higher price point does not necessarily equate to a superior good. We have the reversible cotton duvet set on our bed right now and the cotton is as soft as a cloud! I am currently writing this post in bed, because it is just so comfortable! (I promise I am not making this up.)
Like I said before, I have dreamed of having hotel-white sheets, especially in the Spring and Summer seasons. It makes the space feel clean and calm. White sheets also have a timeless and classic look for me. I love the way they look when the bed is made. White cotton is simple, no-nonsense, and fully minimalist. It imbues that prairie-like humility and angelic innocence.
The reason I never bought white sheets was because bedding is typically so expensive. I could not rationalize buying sheets that could get ruined by dirty feet and spilled coffee. That’s what happens when you have expensive things. Interlaced within that price tag is anxiety. But thanks to Mildly, I don’t have to worry about that. I am so grateful to have been gifted the bedding of my dreams. Even if I had made the purchase, the lower price point is friendly to my psyche. As in, I can handle spilled coffee.
The duvet cover set was ready to use right out of the box. The fabric feels luxe and is not itchy or scratchy. It is what I would expect from a company that is OEKO-TEX certified. This makes Mildly Home a brand with one of the most influential eco-labels in the world.
In comparison the Parachute Home’s reversible brushed cotton duvet that our bed used to don, Mildly Home has achieved a more relaxed California look. The sheets appear like a linen set, but with the lightness and softness of cotton. Never you mind the wrinkle, as it adds to that popular laid-back look. The lightness of the fabric is welcomed especially during our desert summer heat, a heat that has already started to show itself during these Spring months. It is much cooler than it’s Parachute reversible duvet counter-part, and has a cozier feel too (less heavy).
The duvet set comes with the duvet cover and two pillowcase covers which are also reversible. The duvet cover has a zipper closure which I prefer over Parachute’s button closure. However, the pillows come with two wood button closures, which I find odd since they don’t match the duvet. On the bright side, the added detail does look better on the pillows. And on the website, you can also purchase a matching white fitted sheet for under $50.
Mildly Home’s mantra of “Think Less, Feel More” really summarizes the values of their company. Their desire is to create products that bring betterness to people’s everyday lives. They are making products that don’t cost too much of our hard-earned dollars, that are simple in design, and that really bring us joy. As I write this post, I think about the way this brand made me feel. This morning, I brought our coffees over to bed – a taboo especially when it comes to white sheets. Plus, we never eat or drink in our bedroom. And yet, my desire was to drink coffee in bed. In the afternoon, I jumped back in to read. And even now in the late afternoon, I am sitting here writing my thoughts with the cat by my side.
I tried to shoo him away in order to photograph the bed but he came back meowling. As I was turning the top sheet, the cat jumped up without a care in the world. As if to say, ‘This is equally mine as it is yours.’ He proceeded to do his own cat things, putting an end to the photo shoot, but he has a point. He should have equal enjoyment.
Honestly, when they reached out to partner, I immediately felt the rightness of the relationship. Perhaps it was their motto “Think Less, Feel More”. Certainly, Mildly Home is not one of those trendy, highly expensive, uber chic companies that you see on LA billboards. They don’t sell colors in stone hues or desert tones. But they are one of those companies creating high quality products under an OEKO TEX certification. Their products have sensibility and affordability. There’s a simplicity to the sheets – one that gives me a pang of nostalgia for childhood days. Perhaps because it has that same feel of well-loved sheets we used to make forts with.
It makes me want to curl in bed and take life slowly. To relish in the moments before rising, and to truly relax. I don’t feel worried about the possibility of ruining them. At the same time, I am not concerned with the way it looks. If we can save our dollars to buy what we need and still get the same amount of joy, why wouldn’t we? Perhaps we could use the money saved to work less, and live more. When it comes to partnerships, this was a no-brainer. As always, the opinions are my own.
Currently, Mildly Home is holding a sale with Free Shipping on their website. The duvet cover we own is the Reversible Cotton Duvet in Gray and White. Our duvet cover is a King size on a California King bed. The links are affiliate links and this space will earn a small commission shall you choose to try Mildly Home in your space. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this space.
Seeing puffins in Iceland is a must-do! When we went on our 14-day trip to Iceland, my sister insisted that join her at the Western-most coast for a puffin viewing. Even though it was a bit out of our way, it was well worth it! Seeing puffins in person was the coolest thing we did in Iceland. Once you lay eyes on these cute, tiny birds with their bright, orange-red round beaks and darling eyes you will be thankful you made time for this awesome experience. But finding out how to see them was a bit tough. Which is why I thought I would share where, when, and how to see puffins in Iceland.
There are many places to see puffins. Even from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, there are two small islands only a half-mile’s boat ride away, and ferry tours leave from the city. In the Southern region are the Westman Islands which house one-fifth of all the world’s puffins. This location houses most of the puffins in Iceland, but it is 6 miles out from the southern tip of Iceland. It requires either a ferry ride from Landejahofn or Seljalansfoss. Alternatively, you can take a domestic flight to Westman Islands from Reykjavik. Out east, they say the un-inhabitated Papey Island also houses puffins, but as our journey did not take us east, that was unfortunately out of the question for us.
The last location, Latrabarg cliffs, was the one we ended up going to. It was my sister who planned the entire thing, but I think she made a great call. We wanted to see puffins in their natural habitats on our own time. We wanted to see them up close, not on a boat but on the ground, like explorers looking into their world from ours. The experience was more ideal as very few tourists venture out to Latrabarg cliffs. We even had the cliffs to ourselves higher up the hike, where we spent a few hours hiking and searching for diving birds.
The Latrabarg cliffs provide a peaceful way to see puffins in Iceland. These dramatic drops stretch for 8-miles and fall steeply into the water 1,447 feet below. No wonder the birds like these cliffs, as they dive in and out of their little burrows. There is a mild rope that spans the cliffs, but it is at ankle length and will not stop anyone from falling to their doom. It was a subtle reminder of safety, but I appreciated that it still allowed us to get up close and personal to the puffins sitting on the cliff’s edge.
Be forewarned that the cliff’s edges are not always made of dense earth. Birds like to make burrows there which mean that the grass you’re about to step on may be hollowed out and could fall under your weight. It is best to get on your stomach, hands and knees and crawl to the cliff’s edge if you want to really take that up-close photograph or look. Better yet to have someone on solid ground holding on to your feet, or avoid the risk altogether. Plus, you wouldn’t want to crush these bird’s homes!
This is definitely not the safest place for young children who like to run wild. But it IS an intimate place for adults to view puffins, so long as you don’t get too close to the edge. I highly recommend making the trek, as this was the coolest experience we did while in Iceland!
How to Get to Latrabarg Cliffs
There are two ways to get to Latrabarg Cliffs from Reykjavik. The first is to make the drive from Reykjavik. You can start westward on Ring Road and turn on the 60, heading towards the Westfjords. The entire drive takes 6 hours one-way. Hardly anyone makes the trip west of Ring Road, which is a shame as I found it to be a gorgeous place. It is especially great for introverts because it feels like having the country all to yourself.
On the west you’ll find Snaefellsnes National Park, voted the most romantic winter get-away spot in Europe. We spent a few days there, hiking Anastarpi to Hellnar, another cliff teeming with birds. But in order to see puffins, you need to go further North. You can take the HWY 54 to get to Snaefellsnes. Go to the small fishing village called Stykkisholmur, and there are ferries that take visitors across the Westfjords. This will cut your time to Latrabarg as you don’t have to drive around the fjord.
For those already staying at Snaefellsnes, Latrabarg can be considered a doable day trip to and from the national park. The ferries land somewhere around HWY 62, and it is another forty minute drive before reaching the destination. There is no cell service in the area, so definitely have a map with you, or at least the GPS saved on your phone.
Do note that getting there takes time, so reserving ample time for Latrabarg in your schedule is a MUST. It is not a simple day trip from Reykjavik and I would not recommend going all the way to Latrabarg to see puffins if that is all you wish to do. We were able to do it because we were already spending a few days in Snaefellsnes and planning to head north to see Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. A trip to Latrabarg definitely requires a day, even if you are already in the West fjords. If you need to, you can always stay at the Latrabarg Hotel.
When to See Puffins in Iceland
I loved watching these tiny birds jump off of the cliffs. And when they came back, their orange feet stick the landing in the cutest ways. They like to fly a circle around the cliffs edge, and you can usually trace the same puffin from them leaving the cliff to their return. Pretty cool!
The best time to see puffins are in the summer. They arrive in May and leave late August. We were there in the first two weeks of July. The puffins are most active in the evenings. Thanks to Iceland’s almost 24-hour sunlight, you can definitely plan to see them around midnight if you want to. Since we drove from Snaefellsnes National Park, we arrived closer to 10am. My sister was there a few hours before us. Thankfully, there were still plenty of puffins to see!
Fun Facts About Puffins
Now that you know exactly how to see puffins in Iceland, let’s get you excited about it!
There are four puffin species which are the Atlantic Puffin, the Tufted Puffin, the Horned Puffin and the Rhinoceros Auklet. Of all the species, the Atlantic Puffin is by far the cutest and the one that you will see in Iceland! Iceland hosts 60% of all Atlantic puffins, giving you plenty of opportunity to lay eyes on them (and maybe even take a selfie!).
Puffins spend most of their life at sea, but will make burrows and nest in the Spring and Summer seasons. They are excellent sea birds and use their wings to stroke water and catch fish. On top of that, they are also great flyers and can flap their wings up to 400 times in a minute. They fly as fast at 80 kilometers per hour.
Their beaks are actually grey in the winter, but blossom into a bright-orange color in the warmer months. Most likely, this is to attract a mate. They have cute orange feet that they stretch out in front of them while landing. And the pattern around their eyes really make them look sad and smiling at the same time. It’s quite adorable!
They are not intimidated by humans, but that does not mean they want contact. In fact, you should never try to touch a puffin. Doing so might transfer grease from your hands onto their feathers, which will greatly impede their flying and swimming abilities. Furthermore, it will alter their feather’s ability to deflect water while swimming. For these reasons, please be respectful of the birds and never touch or feed puffins.
If Iceland is not on your travel list, add it today. It is a gorgeous country, especially if you love the outdoors, nature, and good views. I would recommend visiting in the summer, although I heard that it holds a different kind of beauty in the winter months as well. We will certainly be back!
Spring is in full swing in the Golden State. Gloomy rainy days intermittently sprinkle their way between days that mimic summer weather, coaxing us poolside a few months earlier than expected. I guess that means it’s time to spring clean. Thanks to our ultimate cleaning list, we don’t need to spend time cleaning our home any more than we already do. Rather, Spring cleaning takes on a larger focus. Now is a great time to cleanse not just our homes, but our bodies, minds, and souls that which does not serve us. This may seem like a large task, but we can take it a step at a time. I have found that the best and easiest place to start is in our physical space. Let’s start Spring cleaning with 100 things to declutter.
Decluterring changed my life. I became a minimalist after getting rid of the stuff that did not add value to my life. Today, I live a life of gratitude for the few things I own. I spend less time worrying about my things. I have to do less cleaning around the house. And I spend less money, avoiding adding more clutter to my home.
All of these things (saving money, saving time, and worrying less) improved my life significantly. I would consider decluttering as one of the highest forms of self-care. It’s a practice in evaluating life to the fullest, in the hopes of improving it and taking it one step closer to the life I want it to be.
Things I Have Learned During My Decluttering Journey
The art of decluttering is a personal act.
Not everything I declutter needs be decluttered by you. Do not have guilt for wanting to hold on to something that I don’t value. Do not use others as your measuring stick. The goal is to go through the mindful process of being honest with yourself and asking yourself what these items do for your life. Do they give you joy? Add stress? Make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Support your lifestyle and goals? Do what feels right!
Decluttering one category at a time is essential.
In order to have a clear idea as to what does not belong, you need to assess each category fully. You should not jump from room to room and declutter a little bit in each one. As I wrote in the post How to Get Things Done, we need to focus on the ONE thing in order to get great results. In the case of decluttering, focus on each section of this post and you will be more effective at the job!
This is a sequential process for a reason.
Some things are easier to let go of than others. Start with the closet. These items are easier to let go of because it is the area in most homes where we have excess. The closet also contains items that are typically easy to replace, and therefore easier to let go. And usually, people aren’t that attached to their clothes, unless your a fashionista! I would reserve the most difficult categories (such as paper, digital clutter and memorabilia) for last. They will be the hardest, as they can contain personal information that requires a bit of decluttering resolve.
Decluttering is a practice.
Decluttering is surprisingly not easy. Many people feel anguish, guilt, and overwhelm. It’s totally normal and okay to feel that way. I did, too! Decluttering is a practice. If you start to feel these things, stop. Revisit another day. I would recommend taking all of April to finish this decluttering list. It doesn’t have to be done in one day. And just let go of what feels right to you.
You can always declutter again on your birthday as a sign of rebirth. Or before the holidays, in order to prepare yourself for a busy season. Or in the New Year, to start new habits. There will be plenty of other opportunities, and it takes time to build what I call the decluttering muscle! You are doing great just by starting today.
Without further ado, here are more than 100 things you can declutter this Spring, plus a few tips.
100+ Things to Declutter
Clothes that still have tags on them. There is a reason those paper tags are still hanging loosely from the labels. You will likely never wear them if you haven’t already. I don’t know about you, but when I get an article of clothing that I am excited about, I rip off the tags and wear it right away. And I wear it every week! Wouldn’t it be nice to feel that much joy and excitement about everything in your closet?
Clothes that don’t fit. Stop saying you will wear it when you lose ‘X’ pounds. Embrace where you are right now and love your body as it is. By holding yourself against a possible future self, you are hurting the present you. How do you expect to get to a goal in the future when you are not supporting the present?
Clothes that you are keeping just because they were a gift. Let go of the guilt you feel. It isn’t worth hanging onto the clothes. Your true friends and family will understand. To be completely honest, it actually helps them choose more intentional gifts for you in the future that you can actually cherish.
Clothes that you have only worn once. Most likely, there is a reason. Whether it is because it doesn’t fit, isn’t your style, or bothers you in some way, take it as your intuitive self telling you to let it go.
Clothes that are at the end of their life cycle. I know you love that T-shirt or sweater with a hole on it, but honestly, you can’t wear that outside of the home and does wearing worn down clothing make you feel good? Probably not. You can thank it for its service, and then let it go.
Clothes that are occasion specific. Think graduation robes, bridesmaid dresses, wedding gown and Halloween costumes. Maybe these held some significance at some point, but the memory doesn’t lie in the hanging on to things.
Excess coats. How many people have multiple coats but only wear a handful? How many sweaters do you have? I usually grab for the same puffer jacket and rain slicker. I rotate through a few sweaters when I stay indoors or need to layer. And I keep one fancy wool coat that I absolutely love and is easy to throw on during those cold winter mornings. That’s it!
Multiple swimsuits. I only have one and it is a classic, black one-piece from Summersalt. My advice for curating swimsuits right this way. It has been two years of using my swimsuit almost every other week, and it’s stretching a bit on the sides. I have my eyes on this new release from Vuori, and I am thinking of bravely adding a pop of color in my life.
Excess hangars. After you’ve decluttered the clothes, you should have a bunch of excess hangars.
Socks and underwear with holes in them.
Shoes that are uncomfortable. Our feet do a whole lot of work. They need to have ample support and love from us, and the best way to do that is to wear comfortable shoes.
Shoes that are worn. They have supported you for long enough, and they need to move on too.
Accessories that you never use or only used once.
Accessories that are unnecessary. For example, scarves?
Repeat accessories. How many scrunchies/hats/beanies do you have? Perhaps pick a one or two favorites.
Tarnished jewelry. This goes into a similar category as holey T-shirts. They served their purpose, but these things don’t make you feel good, whether you are aware of it or not.
Broken jewelry and accessories. You will never fix them like you say you will.
Jewelry you never wear. Sometimes we hang onto things because they are pretty, even when they are not useful. Try to remember that even pretty things hold mental space, and that clutter can have negative effects on your body.
Out of style or costume jewelry. I try to avoid trends, for the sole reason that they go out of style. I pay a pretty penny to buy less things that are iconic and last me many years. The jewelry brand J. Hannah is making waves with millennials who wish to buy high-quality, simple, versatile and timeless jewelry at significantly lower price points. It is where I buy my jewelry. My daily jewelry set includes these hoop earrings, this locket necklace, and a discontinued pearl demi ring which has replaced my wedding ring. All are in silver for simplicity and because it is my everyday set, I never even have to think about what jewelry to wear that day.
Multiple purses. I like to keep one main purse with me. This versatile OG2 purse from Lo and Sons functions as my work purse, travel purse, and gym bag. I do hang on to tinier versions such as a mini pouch and a belt bag from Lululemon when I go on errands or simple adventures. A simple trick I use is to put my essentials in a mini pouch that fits in my OG2 purse. Whenever I want to go with less, I just grab the pouch itself without having to repack a single thing.
Worn out hair ties and bobby pins.
Make up you never used.
Makeup that doesn’t really go with your style.
Make up that is unnecessary. (I don’t use foundation, eyeshadow, lipstick, blush, highlighters, fake eyelashes, etc…). In my honest opinion, this Everyday Set is the only make-up a gal needs. If you are like me, however, and dislike ingesting lip color, I would personally opt for the Sunday Edit and call it a day. I prefer to use lip balm only on my lips, and carry around a more au naturel look than most.
Old and expired make up. The shelf-life of these things are not as long as most people think.
Nail polish that’s dried up.
Nail polish colors you never use.
Deodorant that’s dried up.
Doubles of certain bath products. Do you horde shampoo bottles? Toothpaste? Lotions from Bed Bath and Beyond?
Extras of bath essentials. Get in the habit of buying only one at a time to decrease clutter. People are always surprised when we tell them we buy toilet paper rolls individually wrapped.
Travel sized toiletries that you collected from your travels.
Expired medicine. I am constantly checking supplement and pain medicine bottles and making sure they are up to date.
Kitchen tools that only serve one purpose and can be replaced by another tool. You really only need a set of iconic kitchen tools, like this one from Material Kitchen.
Multiple cutlery or tableware sets. One set is all you need. I prefer to go with white tableware and silver cutlery, both dishwasher safe to simplify my life.
Extra mis-matched mugs. I love coffee vessels! But I usually only drink from one or two pieces each season. My advice is to find a mug that you LOVE and make it an everyday mug. You will cherish the routine of drinking coffee more and imbue significance in that one mug when you tie the ritual to an item.
Seasonal tableware. My parents keep Christmas plates to pull out only once a year. I find it to be a shame because their plate set is so beautiful, but hardly used. It must have cost a fortune back in the day too, because it includes a place setting for 12 people!
Repeat items (two wine openers is one too many). People’s homes are riddled with doubles of things, for the just-in-case. Just get rid of doubles and your life will be simpler!
Gadgets that are finnicky, difficult to maintain, or promise ease of use but instead, clutter the space. My mom has an electric juicer, but I opt for a handheld lemon squeezer and that’s it.
Expired foods in the pantry or fridge. Declutter (and deep clean) the fridge every two weeks.
One-time use ingredients and spices that you’ll never use again. The trick is to avoid those complicated recipes that ask for incredibly unique ingredients that you never use!
Organizational tools that, in reality, add clutter (for example, bins and pantry organizers). Recognize them for what they are – just more stuff.
Paper towels and one-time use napkins. Opt for dish rags, bar mops and linen napkins.
Old rags or hand towels. Thin out your collection.
A plethora of serveware. I like multi-functional things and use cutting boards as cheese boards. I don’t have multiple trays, place mats, or serveware. Typically, when we host, I place the bake pan, pot, or roasting tray directly on a few potholders and call it a day. I will admit, I have a few cake stands, which double as appetizer stands when I can help it.
Excess sauce packets and free napkins from your to-go orders.
Excess pots and pans.
Tupperware with missing lids. I have actually been guilty of this one!
Excess throw blankets and decorative pillows. Having too many can create the feeling of clutter. A recommendation I have is to keep neutral colors in the same hue. It’s less exhausting to look at than patterns and plenty of color.
Spare towels. Keep only enough for a few guests that you can host. Keep only one set for your family.
Seasonal textiles, such as sheets, pillows, tablecloths and blankets that can only be used during the holidays or special occasions. Opt for a neutral design that fits all occasions and the every day.
Single use table cloths and napkins.
Seasonal home decor that you only use a part of the year.
Figurines or vases that you no longer like.
Picture frames that aren’t really being used.
Artwork that may be cluttering the walls.
Throw pillows that get in the way or are stored in closets.
Multiple candles or old candles. Alternatively, gifted candles with scents you don’t like and would never use.
Collectibles. My mom really loves her collectibles and I would never force anyone to part with something that means a lot to them. But if you once collected beanie babies as a child and they are sitting in a dusty box in the garage, at least ask yourself the question, “Do I really love these as I once did?”
Additional suitcases. We were gifted matching large check-in bags for our honeymoon and we have only used them once – during our honeymoon! It has been more than five years, and as minimalists, we usually need nothing more than an overhead bag, even when we travel for weeks at a time internationally. See my minimalist travel packing tips in this post!
Neck pillows. Toss ’em.
Multiple backpacks. We each have one that we use for everything.
Books that you’ve already read.
That box of 100 pens or 100 pencils that you bought in bulk to ‘save money’. Change your mindset to ‘Save Space’.
Old pens or stationary.
Unused craft items.
CDs and DVDs.
Organizational items like bins, manila folders, paper trays, etc.
Office supplies that you hardly use, like stapler, hole puncher, and paper clips. We don’t even have a printer at home.
Excess pads of paper, box of envelopes, or empty notebooks. I like to stick to one notebook at a time. When I finish it, I go back through and decide which information is still needed and I either save that on my laptop or transfer it to my new notebook. Usually, it fills maybe one page.
Gift cards and coupons. I have a habit of using gift cards right away. That might sound silly but I just don’t like to hold onto them. So I spend them once I receive them and let them go. If I have nothing I wish to buy at the time, I use them to buy someone else a present.
Wrapping paper saved for Christmas or birthdays. I like to choose brown paper or something simple that fits every occasion. I tie with jute string and decorate with leaves or flowers from the park outside. You can also check out how I wrapped presents one Christmas using the art of Furoshiki.
Cords with no purpose.
Musical instruments or music devices that you never use.
Rusty plant pots.
Unused or broken tools.
Pet items. Yes, even our pet is minimalist! He has one food and water bowl that’s big enough to fit one serving of food. He has one carrier, one bed from Tuft and Paw, and a litter box with litter mat. And a handful of toys. No pet clothes and certainly no fancy cat tree. Get rid of the half-chewed up toys. And definitely declutter any extra accessories.
Board games that your family never plays. We have a huge collection of boardgames, but if I am being honest, there are a few we never reach for. Perhaps regift it to a friend who also loves boardgames, or to a school in need.
Puzzles with missing pieces or ones that you are never going to use again.
Video games and systems that you don’t use anymore. Try re-selling them online, as my husband has always had success in that.
Freebies and giveaways. You probably only took those items home because they were free. But are they really? Remember that everything takes up mental space and cost you energy.
Loose change. I don’t even carry around cash anymore. Everything can be done online.
Old letters you hang on to.
Birthday cards or holiday cards from years prior.
Receipts that you really don’t need.
Bank statements or other records which you can get online.
Notebooks and notes from the past.
Class notes from college days. How many times do you really look at them?
Mail. Open them once you receive them, and then throw them out. Secret – 90% of mail is junk. A tactic I use to really keep mail to a minimum is to unsubscribe to everything. It initially takes work as you need to contact businesses and ask them to take you off their mailing lists, but it is SO worth it.
Magazines that you’ve already read or don’t plan on reading. In line with my previous note, I would get rid of magazine subscriptions altogether.
Photographs that don’t hold meaning for you.
Email. I have had the same email since I was in elementary school. One day, frustrated by all the junk and clutter in my digital space, I just hit ‘Delete All’. I never missed a single email and I haven’t turned back since.
Photos on your phone, cameras, desktop, or USB drives. It takes a decent amount of emotional distancing from material goods to be able to let go of memorabilia. This is not for the soft-hearted decluterrer. Be advised, proceed with caution. Me? I am totally fine with clearing my life of photos, and do so regularly. I keep a few, but never more than one USB drive.
Documents. Depending on your line of work, do you really need all your documents? I am a writer and I don’t keep many. I write, I publish, and I delete.
Receipts. As we progress into the digital age, there are very few receipts you need to keep. Most likely, if you have a digital version of it, you can find it somewhere.
Because I started decluttering, I am able to live a more frugal and intentional life. One that allows me to pay back my student loan debt of $575,000! I am able to live in a smaller home and pay less for housing. I love all the things I own. They are beautiful and functional. I look at my items as comrades who help me get through this thing we call life. There is a relationship with my things, for which I have gratitude.
I hope that this year’s Spring cleaning brings you something more than a clean home. A new outlook, perhaps. Or extra breathing room. Either way, share your thoughts and ideas around this post below!