Gift Guide: Valentine’s Day

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February 14 is an upcoming excuse for me to celebrate love in all definitions of the word and I’m jumping on said opportunity like a runaway train. This past year has brought to my attention the importance of meaningful relationships and I thank my lucky stars everyday for the makings of my post-COVID world, namely family and a toothless cat. Add to the mix my recent infatuation with signs of self-love and you’ve got Cupid herself. Valentine’s Day presents a solid excuse for me to go BIG- and stay home.

I’m shelling out on June Shine and wine, and staying in to dine. My ideas frolic around remaking a favorite wedge salad and sprawling on cement floors with puzzle pieces between my toes, wearing my Levi’s, a sweatshirt and my finest jewelry. I’m hoping for California gloom, which may be too much to ask for in February, but I am a hopeless romantic after all. I’ll stick tortoiseshell barrettes in my hair, walk with bare-feet, and relentlessly lounge around hoping my candles don’t light my plants on fire. And if that doesn’t paint a picture of modern age glam, muted and minimalist, then perhaps these Valentine’s Day gift ideas will do – a collection of small gestures and grandiose offerings.

Of course, there’ll be kisses and cat cuddles, couches, Netflix, and a sink full of dirty dishes mixed in there too. It’s gonna be purrfect.

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Gift Guide: For Coffee Lovers

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We are coffee geeks. Well, to put more accurately, Mr. Debtist is a coffee geek and I happen to benefit tremendously from his random tidbits of coffee knowledge. We have traveled the world, he in search of the best coffee, me in search of the best bread. It’s a good marriage, coffee and bread.

We have visited to a coffee farm in Hawaii, attended coffee cupping classes, and visited cafes in Mexico City, MX, Melbourne, AU, and San Francisco, CA to name a few. Over the course of our time together (it has already been ten years!), we have owned all sorts of gadgets and have experimented with everything from uniquely processed coffee beans to cupping vessels.

Coffee, to me, is more than energy fuel. It is a symbol of slow living. Ironic, isn’t it? I don’t drink coffee to get stuff done. I don’t even drink coffee to wake myself up. I drink it because I like the preparation process. I like the nuances in taste, which is dependent on everything from type of bean, location of the coffee farm, roasting process, roasting date, water temperature, and of course, how you pour. There are very few activities that keep me in the present moment but making coffee is one of them. It is the part of my life that keeps my day-to-day united. Whereas some people consider their days in terms of new beginnings and an end, I am trying to view them as connected to each other; a continuous cycle, if I may. Coffee is one of the things that ground me in that cycle. Every evening, I look forward to the next morning’s cup. Every morning’s cup creates space to slow down and think about all the things that happened to me the day before. And so it goes, connecting my days into one full life.

Of course coffee symbolizes different things for different people. Whereas I view it as my reminder to live slowly, others may view it as the giver of life. Even if coffee isn’t your thing, there is likely someone you know who loves coffee. In which case, here a coffee gift guide, for whoever needs it. These are our favorite products (all of which we have either owned at some point or personally tried).

Gift Guide: Well-being and Mental Health

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Well-being and mental health have become increasingly imperitive for those living life in the fast-lane. I count myself in the tally. Before switching to a slower pace, I was constantly in a state of low-grade panic. Instead of taking breaths, I was holding them in. I was literally throwing away my life force towards menial tasks that got me nowhere. I was also throwing my money around like it was free. Sound familiar?

Twas nice to finally put on my metaphorical brakes and force myself to a complete STOP. Well, if I was being truly honest, it was COVID that gave my life pause. There were a couple of weeks where I literally had nothing – no job, no responsibility, no travel plans, nowhere to go, no one to see. The stay-at-home mandate was a sudden wake up call, as well as a slight shift in perspective.

I had already been pursuing slow living, but it was still a pursuit. With me, everything is a pursuit.  Even doing nothing is a pursuit. Who could blame me? Our society trains us from day one to achieve. Which competes with our wishes to be.

Anywho, we could all use some healing right now. This month, I alluded to mental health as being one of my main foci in my August Goals post. Whether you have yourself or someone else in mind, here is a gift guide for well-being and attending to our mental health.

  • A planner centered around gratitude and intention.
  • An app for meditation.
  • Live plants and natural surroundings (try their monthly subscription!).
  • Reviving products for stressed out skin.
  • Happy pills, but good for you.
  • The gift of good sleep (with $40 OFF a purchase of $200 or more).
  • Beautiful sheets that prompt a whole day in bed.
  • Towels worthy of a bath soak.
  • Pillows for sinking into and creating reading nooks (with 15% OFF using my code: debtist15) .
  • A beautiful new mat for an early morning routine.
  • Something soft for our weathered feet.
  • A polish whose proceeds are donated to a non-profit helping those with mental illness.

Gift Guide: Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is a week away and with stores closed, I would say that now is considered last minute, thereby making this post a wee late. But there is still time, so here goes.

This year, I wanted to focus on an aspect that my mom in particular struggles with: sleep. She is not alone in this, as many mother’s will report having reduced shut-eye after giving birth to kids. Something about their over-active Spidey senses constantly tingling, or so she says. After everything our moms sacrifice for us, it seems to me that sleep is the one thing they deserve most.

Now that the kids are out of the house, my mom still has a bit of insomnia. “It’s a habit that’s hard to break.” Resisting the urge to take medications that leave her drowsy in the morning (she has suffered an accident of falling asleep behind the wheel because of these Western solutions), my mom has turned to more holistic approaches. In an effort to give back to moms around the world the gift of rest and relaxation (and more importantly, sleep), I made a thoughtful gift guide to getting them one step closer to their dreams.

+ This eye mask and this eyewear to help block up to 30% of blue light.
+ This diffuser or  tea set to calm the senses.
+ These slippers, for shuffling in the middle of the night.
+ A new sheet set  for the upcoming summer months.
+ A light pajama set or a singlet to lounge in.
+ A support cushion for a ritual before bed.
+ Water Glasses for the bedside table.

Of course, insomnia is a health issue and I’m not here to belittle that fact with gift baskets and the sort. If your mom or someone you know really is suffering from sleep deprivation, may I suggest speaking with someone about what could possibly be done. Perhaps the answer lies in non-monetary solutions, like yoga, meditation, or a way to relieve her of her responsibilities and stress? Regardless, I hope those privy to insomnia this Mother’s Day find some comforting thing to bring them back towards a restful evening in bed. We appreciate all that you have been willing to sacrifice, but sleep shouldn’t be one of them.

XOXO

Gift Guide: Self-Care In Your 30’s

It’s June first. Can you believe it?
We are on the cusp of entering summer time,
I am on the cusp of leaving my twenties behind. 
And while my body has carried me through all these years,
It’s time to return the favor and think of ways to care.
On self-reflection of my current state,
I wish to focus on space to create.
In preserving bodily health,
A list of gifts that signify wealth,
In things that matter most to me,
Longevity of life that exists to be.


 

A Mother’s Day Gift Guide

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A list for Mother’s Day and last-minute gift buyers. Not because I myself am a mother, but because I know what my mother would want. For the smart, loving, strong, creative, fashionable, busy, stressed, but most importantly, deserving mothers in your life, a few gift ideas below.

– A pasta attachment set, for making fresh, healthy, home-made summer pasta an easy chore on a weeknight, or a creative hobby on the weekend.

– A caftan, for the upcoming summer days, where vacations to tropical areas or pool days with the kids run amok.

– An easy read, when the brain is fried from a long day and needs unwinding. I recently finished this and would highly recommend.

– A pair of reliable kicks, for some quick, slip-on action. Perfect for the park, the pool, the hammock, what have you.

– A tote that can carry it all for the busy mom.

– A light cardigan, for cool evening breezes, on patios watching sunsets.

– An upgrade to her living space, for those with a green thumb.

– A gift card, for the self-sufficient, or particular.

In an effort to ground Mother’s Day to something a bit less material, an organization which you can support to help local mothers and women who are in need.

– Grandma’s House of Hope in Orange County serves uniquely challenged women who fall between the cracks of existing programs. These invisible populations include human trafficking victims, breast cancer patients, and women with severe mental and physical diasabilities, mothers included. Consider a donation, for Mother’s Day.

Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Before we get the nay-sayers out there screaming that this is a fake holiday, let me just say that yes, maybe it is.  It doesn’t mean I like celebrating it any less, all the same. Despite the commercialization of this (and every other) holiday, I believe there are ways for us to celebrate, mindfully. And while this may seem like my excuse to be a romantic, if only for a day, I’d like to plead my case and convince you otherwise, that this is in the interest of getting away from the commercialization and coming a step closer to the actual deal, which is to celebrate love. In other words, hopeless romantic on the loose.

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While the advertising companies are spending billions of dollars trying to convince the world of the different ways one needs to show love, I’m over here singing a song of a different tune. I view Valentine’s Day as another opportunity to celebrate without getting carried away with the spending and the accumulating. And while some may bitterly feel a bit left out this holiday, why don’t we just gravitate a little further away from the traditional Couple’s-Only Club, since we’re already uprooting conventional observances of Cupid’s holiday anyway? Here are my ways to spend Valentine’s Day, frugally, and with less waste.

Frugally  – To Do List for the 5 Love Languages

Quality Time – Avoid the crowds and stay in. We all know the cliche of spending “quality time” with your loved ones by going out for a lovely candlelit dinner at a fancy restaurant, or getting some concert tickets to your favorite band, or watching a movie at the theatres, thanks to movies toting these very things. But might I say that all of these require spending? It may be the inner introvert in me, finding every excuse to avoid large congregations of people, but it’s also the super frugal Fran inside of me, dreading dropping hard-earned pay for something so trivial. So instead of dashing out the front door to spending time driving and waiting in long lines, why not just spend real quality time with each other, by substituting with a home-made dinner for two (left-overs abound!), the playing of your favorite records, or Netflix and chill. Likewise, if you must go out, get outdoors and play.

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Acts of Service – Skip the buying of gifts, substitute acts of service. So I know this isn’t for everyone. There are five love languages, gifting being one of them. Some people just really appreciate gifts. This one just happens to be easy for Mike and I, because we both fall under acts of service. Because of that, we have an easier time letting go of the gifts. Last Christmas, in an effort to disconnect from gifting and everything it brings, I substituted some the present of actions rather than things. I went to the local library and borrowed books on coffee so we may learn about it together. I YouTubed a way to pickle red onions, Mike’s favorite condiment for tacos. I stitched new Velcro onto Mike’s 3 years old motorcycle gloves, so that the latches stick again. A $5 cost instead of a $200 cost. My hands were sore from sewing through stiff leather with an easily bendable needle, but he was pretty stoked. For this Valentine’s Day, I asked for a particular gift from Mike. That is, to remove the rust from the bottom of our cast iron pans, simply because I’ve been too lazy to do it myself. If this style of loving just isn’t for you, then read on ahead for the gift list, below.

Words of Affirmation – Memorize a poem, nix the card. I like words, there’s no doubt about that. My clinical notes in the office are jokingly referred to as essays, and birthday cards just never have enough space. But I have a confliction with buying cards in general. It is undoubtedly much more aesthetic to add a store-bought card to any occasion, and I do have an achilles heel for all things presentable. However, the cost of the fancier stuff run north of $5, sometimes even going so far as to cost more than $10! Additionally, layers of paper that pop up from these gorgeous cards are drool-worthy, but also a bit gut wrenching. Drama aside, I’ve tried to avoid buying cards lately, and have substituted either a small handwritten note, or just a verbal  expression of emotions. For the Whitmans out there, why not memorize a poem? For those who just can’t do without a card, try the card alternative below.

Physical touch – Let your imagination run wild. Not much needs to be said with this one. Probably the most frugal of the five, good old fashioned loving is all it takes. Skip the expensive spa dates and learn massage techniques together. Find ways to get in touch throughout the day, by phone, via text, in a game of tag. Its quite obvious which love language I speak the least. Ending all awkwardness here and now. You just be creative.

Receiving Gifts – Welp! This one can’t be helped. If acts of service did not make the cut, then may I suggest a few thoughtful gift ideas, that won’t break the proverbial piggy bank, and would be loving to the planet at the same time?

Less Waste – The Gift List

This is what my Valentine’s Day wishlist would look like if ever I had one. Unfortunately, I used my wish on the de-rusting of an aforementioned Lodge pan. That was enough for me, but if you are in need of other gift ideas, have at it.

A haircut. I actually asked for this for Christmas last year. I hardly get haircuts. As in, once every 2 years, or once every year and a half. I would love to get them more frequently, but honestly, it gets to be too much for me. Hair is one of those things I used to obsess about as a tween, but it’s all been-there, done-that. I chop it off shoulder length, then just let it grow to the small of my back. On repeat, since college. I also attend one of those generic Fantastic Sam’s places where I pay $20 to chop off most of my hair. Although I did find a location in San Diego once that had happy hour, where the haircut only cost $8 between 5 and 6pm. Score!

A tree instead of flowers. In the U.S.A., about $2 billion worth of cut flowers are bought each Valentine’s Day. While flowers are a compostable gift, and not entirely bad for the environment, what if we try gifting plants itself. A plant can stay alive for a really long time, care-taker depending. These can range drastically, from a $5 succulent from Home Depot, to a $200 tree. Pick what works for your price range. For me, I’ve got my beautiful fiddle leaf, pretty as can be.

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A plantable cardSooooo, after my long spiel about my issue with cards, I did come across these plantable versions. You read right. These cards are made from seed paper, which is 100% compostable. Alternatively, when planted in the ground, these cards claim to grow wildflowers (!!). Which conveniently goes in line with my thinking above.

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Self-Care Products. As I grow older, I embrace this concept of self-care a lot more. There are plenty of self-care products out there that are paving the way by being environmentally friendly, cruelty free, and all natural. Ranging from luscious bars of soap, to shampoo, to beard balm, you name it. These are products that we would use on the daily anyway, so why not gift them something they need?

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A collection of Recipes. Better yet, your recipe collection, attached to a tin can of home-made cookies (or bread, what have you).

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Valentine Celebrations with Everyone

Galentines Day –  popularized by single ladies all over the world, this is now being celebrated by besties everywhere, regardless of the relationship status. Ways to celebrate? Do activities together, such as a yoga class in someone’s living room, or a cooking session in one’s kitchen. Just make sure not to fight over who gets clean up duties.

Dudes’ Hangout – pretty standard kick back, commonplace among Mike and his friends. Pizza and video games? Or have everyone bring a six pack of different brews, and do a beer tasting at home. Coffee cupping sesh also an alternative.

Hosting for Friends and Family – I love to host. Gathering twelve people around our table just makes my heart sing. Why not invite the entire family or crew over and use this holiday as an excuse to eat, drink. and be merry? Cheers!

A Little Bit of Self Love

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  • Early morning meditation.
  • A cup of coffee, made the slow way.
  • Find the time to relax in the middle of the work day.
  • Skip work all together, and spend time at home with family.
  • A decluttering session, mid-February.
  • A candle lit bubble bath for one, music optional.
  • Cuddling up with a book and a blanket.
  • Go to bed at an early hour.

Honestly, the self-love category is my favorite list.

Happy heart week!