Sunday, 13 August 2017

THE SUNDAY LIST (VOL. 1)


Growing up, my family always took Sunday as a rest day, but I really don't think I have come to appreciate the concept until now. Sunday is the only day of the week that I am guaranteed to be off of work while the other days vary from week to week. But I can always count on Sundays. It's the day I give myself permission to lay on the couch all afternoon and have a nap if I'm feeling it. It's the day that I catch up on podcasts as I doodle at my desk. It's the day that I let myself eat lots of treats and experiment with a new recipe. It's a day of recharging.

I've decided to share a bit of a round-up of some of my favourite things from my week. Things I've come across, have tried, am thinking about, have listened to, have read, or want to give a go. Basically it's a random list of random things and I'm just going to leave it here in case you want to check some of them out.

1. I absolutely loved this episode of the Revisionist History podcast. It gave me all the good and nostalgic feels from growing up on classic country and even inspired me to purchase this song for my collection.

2. I love how a few simple upgrades in this bedroom makeover completely transformed it into a cozy, comfortable and relaxing space. In our small little apartment, our bedroom is actually a part of our living room, separated only by a large curtain so you have no idea how appealing it is to establish a separate comfortable and peaceful bedroom space.

3. Our garden is finally getting to the point where we are starting to harvest some of the fresh veggies. The zucchini plants are out of control so I'm eager to try a few different ways to use them up. This recipe looks so delicious.

4. I've slowly been switching out a lot of my personal and home products to more natural alternatives. But it never dawned on me that there could be more natural product alternatives for our cat Sutchi too. I loved this article with natural pet product suggestions. I don't think I'll be making homemade cat food any time soon, but I am intrigued by the kitty litter option.

5. Speaking of natural products, I recently switched to oil cleansing in my skincare routine. I've always been so scared of oil cleansing because of the obvious assumption that putting oil on your face would make your face, well, oily. But there are so many proven benefits for oil cleansing on your skin. I've been using this Burt's Bees oil cleanser for a couple of weeks now and am seeing a dramatic difference in my skin health. Not to mention the fact that I have been loving their mostly natural BB Cream as a daily foundation alternative too.

6. I've been learning how to use Adobe Illustrator for the past two months and have been totally inspired by these beautiful illustrations by Kemal Sanli. This cute little backpack one is probably my favourite.

7. I've been dying to completely unplug, but it is always so much easier said than done. We're taking a little road trip vacation in September, so I think I may take the opportunity to give it a solid go.

8. There is no denying that I am a crazy cat lady, so you probably won't be surprised that I have this live kitty cam bookmarked in my favourites. This live kitten rescue feed is guaranteed to brighten your day. Trust me. Just try it.

9. My vegan cooking has slowed down a little bit over the summer, as I'm finding myself using our grill more than our oven (which has inevitably meant more meat in our diet). But I'm looking forward to the autumn and the cozy, comforting food recipes that come along with it. I'm hoping to add this cookbook to my collection sooner rather than later.

10. Last but not least, I went to a local concert in the park this past week and there was a man dancing up front that totally looked like Stuart from MadTV. I haven't been able to stop watching Stuart videos as a result. So I'll just leave this here...

Have a great week, friends!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

SMALL STEPS TOWARDS LESS WASTE


This year has been the year of baby step changes for me. I've been trying to make small, tangible changes in the way that I live in order to foster a more fulfilling life. I love how subjective the idea of a fulfilling life is. Many people seek adventure and travel or success in their careers or education, but I find fulfillment in the little pleasures. Creating a safe space to call home. Growing fresh vegetables to eat and share. Learning a new skill. Taking on a creative challenge. Seeing myself change and grow. Those things bring my life fulfillment. I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's the little things.

I've been on a mission to reduce waste in my little farm house kitchen, particularly in the form of plastic. I wouldn't say that we are excessively wasteful, but I have been known to buy plastic baggies and use seran wrap a time or two. I've always liked the convenience of plastic, but it definitely isn't very convenient when it comes to the health of our planet. I've been meaning to make some changes and finally I have found some amazing products that help me do just that and I wanted to share!


I have been trying to avoid the plastic produce bags at the grocery store for the past year or so, but unfortunately that sometimes means that potatoes are rolling around in my cart and the cashier doesn't always seem too impressed when she has to wrangle all the stray apples onto the scale. I decided to purchase a set of reusable produce bags and they have been a game changer! They are lightweight and made of a fine mesh material, preventing moisture from getting trapped and growing mold. When the bags get dirty, all I have to do is throw them in the wash instead of the trash.

I've always been a reusable shopping bag user, so this isn't a difficult change for me to implement. I understand that not everyone would remember to bring these to the store with them though. I have found that simply storing them with my reusable shopping bags in my car makes it easy when I stop at the store on a whim. All it takes is a little bit of habit building.

There are tons of options for reusable produce bags on the market, so I suggest just looking for the ones that best suit your needs. I purchased this set of eight from Amazon and I really couldn't recommend them more.


Another big source of plastic waste in my kitchen is through plastic sandwich bags. When I only use half an onion or need to store some pre-cut carrots, I tend to grab a plastic baggie for the convenience and ready-to-go nature of it. Recently I came across Stasher - they are an award winning company who make these silicone alternatives to plastic baggies. I like these because they are flexible (unlike bulky containers) but strong and easily washable. They're even safe to be frozen, heated, and washed in the dishwasher, which is a win-win-win in my books. They may seem expensive at $16/bag but are more than worth the money for their versatility and re-usability. Plus, they are known to keep a cut avocado fresh for up to four days (and we all know how much we love a fresh avocado).


My final favorite reusable kitchen product is beeswax wraps. They are sheets of fabric coated in beeswax, which can be used to cover bowls or wrap food in small packages simply by using the heat of your hand to warm up the wax and adhere it. When you're finished with it, all you have to do is wipe it down and reuse it. It probably somewhat depends on the product, but my wraps are expected to last about a year before I can toss them in the food bin (compost) and allow them to decay naturally. I particularly love them because of how cute the patterns are, but they also smell heavenly and do their part to keep my food fresh without any harmful chemicals leaking into the food. I purchased mine locally from Sweet Green Studios and I couldn't recommend them more if you're interested in some of your own.


What do you guys think - would you consider using any of these plastic alternatives in your kitchen?

The thing with making any sort of change to your routine is that it requires patience and grace. We live in a consumerist society that is saturated with plastic waste and the sad reality is that we are never going to be able to fully avoid that until changes happen at a societal level. But that shouldn't prevent us from trying to implement our own little changes, even if they seem small and insignificant. Sometimes it feels like it isn't worth the effort if no one else is making the effort either, but all it takes is a little perspective to realize that a bunch of little efforts add up to one great big effort.

It can also take a while to get used to the changes we have made. I've come to realize that they best way to use these products is to build habits around them. Whether that means I intentionally set my produce and grocery bags beside my purse once I finish unpacking groceries to make sure I take them back to the car or pack my lunch in containers and Stasher bags - I've come to realize that these aren't difficult or more complex things to add to my routine. They just require taking different steps.

I would love to hear your thoughts on any of these products as well as any others that you use in your little kitchen. Sometimes the smallest things can be the most satisfying.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

THOUGHTS ON DEVELOPING AN INTENTIONAL STYLE (AND 5 GOALS TO GET ME THERE)

 
It all started on a cold winter's evening.

I started making my annual list of resolutions for the new year that was quickly approaching. I always keep these resolutions in the back of my mind as the year comes to an end, but it was time to write them down on paper. Solidify them. Make them real. My list for the year was simple enough. It wasn't long - a few little goals. Cook one vegan meal a week - was one. Complete three paintings for fun - another. Learn how to use Adobe Illustrator - fun. Define your personal style. Woah

My initial list never includes how-to's, just goals. The how-to's are established when I decide to tackle them as the year rolls on. It makes it feel a little less daunting and overwhelming when I go to write them down. It isn't my job to figure them all out right off the bat, just commit to trying. 

But this one - it was a big one. I could sense that from the moment I put the pen to paper. Defining your personal style is a huge task. A multi-step process. But thanks to a great recommendation and a quick trip to the book store, I had a good tool to start the ball rolling - this book, called The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees.

In the book, Rees shares the Curated Closet Philosophy about personal style and guides you through the process of defining your personal style. The book is beautiful and minimal and breaks down the steps so simply, but beyond that, it is practical. Ridiculously practical. She nails the concepts of searching for quality over quantity, being selective, being authentic, and realizing the difference between being stylish and being fashionable. Yes. Perfect! Exactly what this dazed and confused style-seeker needs - a step by step guide with homework and research and tangible steps to nail it out. So I dove right in.

The book is not a quick read. It requires breaks between chapters to put in the work and test out the waters. I've been taking notes and saving mental tips to work through the steps. I've been at it for the past four months and have only made it through a few chapters, but I can assure you at it is worth the time. I finally decided that I wanted to document it here so that I could keep myself accountable and see how I progress throughout the process. 


So, step one - set your style goals. But before you can set the goals, you have to determine where you're at. What you like. What you don't like. Rees challenges you to document your daily outfits for two full weeks, including exactly what you wore, where you wore it, why you wore it, and how it made you feel. She also encourages a daily photo, but that didn't last very long for me personally. The purpose of documenting is to determine where you are hitting the nail on the head and where you feel like you are falling short. Then, based on this documentation, she includes an extensive questionnaire to work through once you can see your two-week wardrobe. 

When I had finished the two weeks and worked my way through the questionnaire, I generally felt discouraged with my wardrobe. I felt trapped between two places in my life - a young university student (which I no longer am) and the stylish professional person I long to be. The majority of my outfits were fine, but just that - fine. They weren't extraordinary, fun, or expressive of myself. They were boring, simple, and bland. I realized that although I value comfort in my clothing, I was very majorly prioritizing practicality and comfort over feeling good about how I looked. The majority of my outfits made me feel immature and insecure because they didn't fully encapsulate who I am or who I want to be. 

So then began the goal-setting. The purpose of painfully documenting your frustration is to make some realizations about what you're wearing and how you can change it. Realizing that I love textures, neutrals, warm colours, and layers was key. Recognizing that I value being comfortable and feeling put together was key. And seeing my wardrobe as a series of different "uniforms" that can merge together to establish one distinct style was also very key. These realizations all manifested into goals for my curated closet. And goals are a very great place to start.

 

 These are my five style goals:
  1. I want to take my style from half-way there to all the way there. I love my wardrobe fifty percent of the time, but I realized that those times are when I am feeling really excited and free in what I'm doing and where I'm going. I need to find a way to put in the effort to make all of my outfits feel exciting, regardless of whether I am going on an adventure or simply going to work.
  2. I want to dress for how I want to feel, not how I do feel. Some clothes make you feel frumpy and I realized that I wear those clothes when I am in a grumpy mood. I want to use my clothes as a way to boost my morale and keep me motivated and going on the tough days. 
  3. I want to find ways to perfectly marry comfort with style. There is no doubt that comfort is high up there on my priority list, but I want to prove to myself that clothing can be practical while still making me feel good. I don't want to wear "junky" clothes to work anymore just because I know they will get ruined. I want to find ways to still be stylish while trying to live my day to day life.
  4. I want to learn to shop better. A lot of the clothes in my wardrobe that I don't like or don't wear are poorly made. They change shape, colour, and fit after only a few washes. I want to be able to recognize the items that I will love and wear for a long time before I actually buy them.
  5. I want to appreciate the process. I don't want to rush through the process, but allow it to marinate. Like all forms of style, it's a process to discover and I really want to embrace that process. I feel like it makes it so much more meaningful and lasting. So I'm in for the long haul here.
That's it. Those are the goals, laid out there in plain fashion. So now what?

Now we tackle the how-to's.