Thursday, September 22, 2016

What Do You Value?

Wow.  I've been missing for some time now, haven't I?  I have been so caught up in home and work life that I've neglected to write.  But, I do miss it.  Today I was thinking about values.  Not necessarily moral or religious values.  But, just the word "value."  What do we value as a society and what do we value as individuals?  One of the things that appeals to me the most about minimalism is that it is not a "one size fits all" lifestyle.  The value one minimalist places on a particular thing can differ significantly from another minimalist.  That's the beauty of it.  It's such a flexible mentality.  It really is all about values.  

Some of us value traveling the world, while others value being settled and having roots.  Some of us value having 100 possessions, while others value a nice home filled with beautiful things.  The key is to not feel suffocated by our stuff.  If it doesn't bring us joy and happiness, then it needs to go.  It really is that simple.  Minimalism, in my opinion, is not just about stuff.  It's about what those things mean to us.  Plain and simple. Value.  

What are you valuing today?  Do you need to reassess?


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Finding a New Normal - Minimalist Life

If you're relatively new to minimalism I first want to say, "Congratulations and good for you!" Secondly I'd say... "don't give up."  Any kind of lifestyle change will be just that... a LIFE STYLE CHANGE.  In other words, it'll be exciting at the very beginning when it's all new and you're just learning about it, but the newness will eventually fade.  Once this happens, you'll either keep at it or you will revert back to your old ways of existing in the world.  So, how can you stop the "old you" from making a re-appearance?  By recognizing, accepting, and embracing your new "normal."  Do you realize that you never question getting dressed in the morning?  I mean, you may struggle with finding something to wear.  But, you don't actually question the act of getting dressed, right?  That's because to you, it's your "normal."  We weren't born with clothes on, so why is it not ever questioned?  Because, at some point, our parents just kept at it and it became our new "normal."  Now, we don't even think about it.  That's the ultimate goal with a minimalist lifestyle.  If you keep at it, it will just "be."  It will be who you are.  You won't have to think about it, you will just do things as they've always been done.  First off, you won't just robot your way to the mall and walk around aimlessly because you're "bored" and have nothing else to do.  You won't go into a store, buy a top that's "kinda" cute and not think twice about it because in the end, "it's only $4.99."  Instead, you will be so conscious of the world around you that you will instantly know and recognize that there's a lot more where that came from... literally, and that there was probably so much human suffering involved so that you could have a $5 top, that it would blow most people's mind.  So, the thought of not thoughtfully consuming something isn't even a possibility any more.  It just is.  It's the kind of conscious consumer that you are, not that you are trying to be.  How does that happen? Consistency.  Keep at it and someday, it will be second nature.  It will just be.


Monday, August 15, 2016

Busyness: When is it okay?

As summer starts to come to an end, people's lives begin to get back into the groove of everyday life.  If you're a parent, then the kids are now returning to school and perhaps life is getting a bit "easier."  If you're a teacher, it's definitely the other way around.  As I've returned to work and am now right back in the swing of things, I had to take a moment to reflect on how incredibly busy I am (hence disappearing from the writing for the past two weeks).  Not only am I back to teaching all day, every day, but I am also coaching cross country this year and volunteering with local organizations.  Aside from that, of course, I am a mom and wife first and foremost.  That alone could take up all my time.  So, when is this kind of busy... okay?  Honestly? I wish I was less busy.  But, what keeps me going is that all that I do is by choice and because I love it.  Isn't that what minimalism is all about?  Bringing out that which adds value to our life?

Teaching is not just a profession for me.  It's my life's calling.  Coaching (although I'm new to it) is something that I'm really loving because it is, in essence, an extension of teaching.  Volunteering and giving back to my community brings joy and value to my life.  Being a mom is the most exhausting of them all, but the sweetest and most amazing thing I get to do.  Would I change any of it?  No way.  That's the beauty of choosing to live a more intentional life.  It is about choosing deliberately what will take up our time and avoiding letting life happen to us by chance.  

What can you intentionally cut out of your life today?  What could you add that brings value to it?  Are you living mindfully?


Friday, July 29, 2016

Getting Re-Motivated.

Staying motivated.  In my opinion?  Is harder than getting motivated.  In my personal experience I never have trouble getting motivated about something new.  An exercise routine; a new diet plan; a new planning system; a new organization system; you fill in the blank.  I'm one of those people that gets interested in something and then researches everything there is to know about it and then I want to do it full force!  No transition period.  Just go!  This is great for getting things started.  But, one of my biggest flaws?  I get bored... fast.  Once the "newness" wears off... I wander.  My mind goes to all the other things I could be doing.  I dare say the only thing that has not happened to me with is my teaching career (thank goodness) and my relationships (thank goodness again!).  In those two areas I am 100% committed and boredom isn't a problem.  But, anything else? Poof! Excitement gone.  Boredom sets in.  The challenge has been met... and I'm ready to move on to the next thing.  Sounds so flighty, I know.

So, how can we re-motivate ourselves in an area where it doesn't serve us to get un-motivated?  For example, an area such as fitness and healthy living.  We are bombarded daily by the new thing that is going to make us thinner, more toned, more energetic, etc...  The first day of the year comes and we see hundreds of folks crammed at the gym and running the streets.  But, come March and the streets start looking lonelier and lonelier, as does the gym.  I saw this very thing happen last year as I trained for the Chicago Marathon.  At the very beginning of 2015, my usual running course was packed with new faces.  It was very exciting! New people to see.  Great! But, a couple of months later?  I seemed to be the only one out there sometimes.  What happens?  What helps me stay motivated when the bout of un-motivation sets in?

I'll let you in on a little secret.  I don't usually "enjoy" running.  What I do enjoy, however, is the sense of accomplishment that comes after a run.  I always feel awesome then!  But, during the run?  Not so much.  If anything, I'm cursing the day I was born more than I should and consistently asking myself why in the world I'm putting myself through it.  So.  Why lace up and go anyway?  Because I focus on the end result and not so much the process.  Yes, I do, sometimes, enjoy the run.  Especially when the weather is beautiful and I'm not feeling like a mobile sweat bucket.  But, let's face it.  I live in Florida.  It's hot here.  Today?  I ran 4 miles in 102 degree weather.  102! Not kidding.  It was pure hell.  But, I set a goal to run the NYC Marathon this coming November and the goal is what keeps the mundane feeling at bay.  I don't feel bored because I'm working towards accomplishing something new! Running through NYC in one of the world's largest marathons!  

Moral of the story?  Set goals.  Give yourself something to look forward to.  Make the means to an end new again and renew your motivation.  

What area have you been lacking motivation in today?  How can you re-spark it?  What goal can make it feel "new" again?


Monday, July 25, 2016

Editing a Wardrobe the "KonMari" Way

Years ago we lived in a rental home (while we re-modeled our home) and we had closets galore! In our house we only have ONE closet.  But, in the rental we had multiple.  Our master bedroom had an enormous walk-in closet that could easily fit a twin size bed and a nightstand if need be.  I kid you not.  Of course, that would have never happened because it was STUFFED.  Yes.  Stuffed with stuff.  My hubby ceded that closet entirely to me and he took over the other enormous walk in closet in the hallway.  My closet was completely packed.  Not only was it filled with clothes that was hung up, but the shelves were covered in handbags and the floor? Well... the floor had boxes and boxes of more clothes.  When the day to move into our home came, I was feeling the pressure to get rid of clothes.  How else was I to fit it all in our one closet?  My hubby hung up two rods.  The top one for him and the bottom one for me.  ONE rod??? Oh dear.  Oh... and he gave me 4 little shelves for handbags.  Wait.  Four little shelves? Yea.

I had no choice but to be completely ruthless with my wardrobe editing.  Upon moving in, I'd gotten rid of about 70% of my clothes and about 50% of my handbags and shoes.  That bottom rod at the new place? Completely stuffed with the other 30%.  So much so, I couldn't even see everything I owned and I always felt like I had "nothing to wear."  Ridiculous, right?  And yet, oddly familiar to most people out there.

Over the past 3 1/2 years that we've been at our new place, I've continued the editing process.  It wasn't until about a year ago that I cut that amount down by another 50% and it felt great! Suddenly getting dressed felt like a breeze without any stress!  This summer I went at it again... ruthlessly and with a little help from Marie Kondo's book, "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up."  In her book she suggests picking up each item of clothing and getting rid of it if it doesn't "spark joy."  In other words, it doesn't bring you a feeling of happiness, contentment, JOY.  If that's the case, then you are less likely to actually pick it up and wear it.  Therefore, it needs to go.  This exercise was so incredibly therapeutic and eye opening for me.  I realized I kept so many "What if?" items that didn't spark joy at all.  If anything, they simply reminded me that my pre-baby weight was a beautiful tale from long ago.  Those size 2 pants?  Yea... not sparking joy... at all.  That size 10 dress from a couple of years ago?  Not sparking joy at all because it reminds me of a time when I was incredibly unhappy with my weight.  What did spark joy?  Those articles of clothing that I reach for each and every time I get ready.  The dresses that fit right and make me feel great.  The purses that feel like me.  The shoes that go with everything and are super comfy.  Those sparked joy... and got to stay.  This is what the final outcome looks like now...

This is about a quarter of that rod my hubby installed for me.  The amount of clothing here is probably a good 10-15% of what I owned at the rental house.  These pieces spark joy.  Two pairs of jeans, one pair of patterned pants, a pants romper, some tops and cardigans and dresses for work and the occasional nicer evening event.  Done.  Where are your shorts and t-shirts, you say?  Marie Kondo recommends that these things be folded in a "filing system" way.  They are not folded on top of one another in a drawer, as most of us typically do.  But, instead, each item is folded in such a way that it stands alone and is ready to simply be picked up to wear.  This is what my shorts/tops drawer looks like (keep in mind, it includes all seasons):

I've got another small drawer holding my undergarments; another to hold my socks (which I definitely edited!!) and another holds scarves for chilly weather.  I've also got one more drawer that holds my workout (running) clothes and gear, one other set of pajamas and my swimwear.  Done.  My shoes and purses?  Edited down to the things I always reach for.  Could I edit shoes down to 3 or 4 pairs like I'd hoped?  No.  But, do I wear all of my shoes?  Yes.  All of them.  Purses?  Got those down to the bags I LOVE and that spark joy.  The rest?  Consignment or gifted.  

Getting dressed now is a joy in and of itself.  Stress free and fast.  Packing also proved to be a breeze on a recent family trip. I opened up my shorts and tops drawer and quickly grabbed what I'd need.  Easy peasy.  

At the end of the day, minimalism is not about depriving yourself of the things you love.  But, instead, it's about surrounding yourself by the things you love. Absolutely love.  Have you given your closet a nice purge lately?  Why not bless someone else with the items that are collecting dust in your closet?  It will spark joy for them and get out of your space.  Win-win!  Have a lovely week ahead!


Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Capsule Wardrobe - 14 Items

So, I'll start off by saying that I am a teacher and therefore have summers off.  Okay... now that the disclaimer is out... let's get to it!

Capsule wardrobes.  This is quite a popular idea brought about by minimalist extraordinaire, Courtney Carver's Project 333.  To learn more about Project 333, click here.  The overall idea is that for 3 months you only use 33 items of clothing, including shoes and accessories, but excluding undergarments, pajamas and workout clothes.  Why 3 months?  Because in most places, you've got 4 seasons, and that pretty much covers them all.  What do you do with your off season clothes?  You fold it away and store it out of sight.  You only work with the capsule wardrobe you've made for those three months.  When the 3 months is up, you switch the items out to accommodate the new season.

Now, I live in Florida.  Which means, we have pretty much two seasons... SUMMER and FALL.  That's about it.  Our temps range anywhere from 35 degrees up to 100 degrees F.  Other than that, it's either sunny or raining.  No snow here.  So, from about December to March, we may use sweaters and jackets.  But, from March to December, it's pretty much summer weather, with the occasional 50 degrees on a random day in October or November.  That can make for a very frustrating situation in which to create capsule wardrobes for us Floridians.  But, it can still be done.  

The picture you see here is my capsule wardrobe for the summer months of June and July.  Why only 2 months?  Because the beauty of Project 333 is that you can tweak it to serve your lifestyle.  Since I return to work in August, my wardrobe will change.  Therefore, I only did a capsule for my summer.  It consists of only 14 items.  I don't really need 33 because, again, I don't work in the summers.  So, I'm either home or traveling.  The summer months in Florida are HOT.  When I'm not hiding out in the a/c, I'm out and about running errands.  For the occasional errand? Shorts and sandals.  When I'm not feeling some sandals? Toms.  They're light and perfect summer shoes.  As for bottoms and tops? Shorts, shorts, shorts and tops that can be paired with more than one set of shorts.  

It makes getting dressed in the mornings much easier and stress-free.  I highly recommend you looking into it. What will I do for August through December?  I'll have more than 14 items, I can assure you.  However, I split it into two categories (again, tweaking)... work week and weekends.  If you work outside your home in an environment with a dress code, you will have to accommodate for that.  Thus, my suggestion is to split it into those two categories.  When creating my work week wardrobe, I am planning on using lots of dresses for the upcoming year.  Dresses make life so much easier.  All you have to match up to them is shoes! Done!  Of course, I love wearing slacks too.  But, that does require matching it up to a top and the occasional cardigan/jacket.  So... more clothes... more to think about.  

The idea here is not to deprive yourself of clothes.  But, instead, to make dressing in the mornings less stressful and less time consuming, thus freeing up your morning schedule for doing more meaningful things.  What can you do with that extra half hour?  Read your Bible, pray, sip some coffee/tea while sitting outside, think, read a book, etc... What suits you? Do that. 

Stay tuned for next week's Monday post, in which I will talk about the KonMari method of decluttering.  I used this method for doing an overall declutter of my entire wardrobe.  I will also discuss why I don't put my off season clothes out of sight.  Not that that's a bad idea, I'll just share with you why I choose not to do it (Florida weather has a lot to do with this decision).  Until next week! Have a great weekend and stay present.


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

STOP! - The Effect of Ads on Our Desires & Our Debt

Ads.  A small word with an incredible power over our psyche.  We may not realize it, but, as of 2006, the average American was being exposed to as many as 5,000 ads per day.  Yep.  Per.... DAY.  Click here to read that CBS News article.  Now, keep in mind, that was as of 2006.  It is now 2016.  Our exposure to ads has grown leaps and bounds since.  With things like YouTube, Facebook ads, Instagram sponsored posts, Pinterest sponsored pins, and on and on... I'd dare say, the number has probably significantly gone up.  It's no wonder people are in debt up to their eyeballs and still not satisfied.  We buy the latest iPhone, only to be reminded a year later that we now hold the old model.  We turn our television sets on during the holidays just in time to be slapped in the face with that annoying Lexus commercial where the wife/mother gets a brand new Lexus SUV with a giant red bow on it from her husband.  Now, not only do we have car envy, but husband envy as well! Haha! On top of the advertisers, we also have celebrities pushing products on us and lifestyles we cannot actually afford.  How do we STOP the madness???

To be honest?  We can't stop all of it.  I mean, we can't avoid billboards and the occasional TV ad.  But, we can minimize our exposure to ads by limiting the activities we partake in that are riddled with them.  For instance, TV is probably where most folks get the bulk of it.  By limiting tube time, we are preventing most of the ads coming our way.  Another way to limit them is through the use of a DVR.  I only ever watch one TV show.  My guilty pleasure is The Bachelorette/Bachelor.  It really is such a ridiculous show, but that's for another post.  The truth is, I like to sit there and watch it and get a good giggle out of the whole ridiculous thing.  But, I don't want to watch all the ads that come with it.  So, I typically record the show using our DVR and then watch it the next day while fast forwarding through all the commercials.  Otherwise, I watch YouTube, Netflix or Hulu.  All of which have very limited ads, if any at all.  Another way to avoid ads? Unsubscribe to magazines.  With Pinterest and the Internet, who needs magazines anymore?  I remember the good ole' days when flipping through a magazine was something I looked forward to.  But, nowadays they seem to have way more ads in them than they do any valuable content.  It's terrible.  I didn't pay $6 for a magazine filled with Dolce & Gabbana ads, thank you very much. My last tip? Unfollow any retailers on your social media.  I used to follow Nike, Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, West Elm, etc... But then would get all bummed when I'd see the beautiful xyz's that I couldn't actually afford.  So, why do that to ourselves? Unfollow! Boom! Problem solved. 

Remember that advertising agencies thrive on making us feel "less than."  We are less than because we don't have the newest and coolest couch.  But, we can restore our coolness for just $2,500.  We used to be awesome with our iPhone 5, but are now subpar because, hellloooooo.... the iPhone 6!! Duh!  It's okay, for $800 or another dreaded cell phone company contract, you can upgrade! Yippee!  We had a perfectly good wardrobe until we saw our favorite fashion blogger sporting the latest Tory Burch flats in the new summer colors!! AH! MUST HAVE THOSE!  No worries... for a quick $225, you can have those too! Don't have the money?? No biggie... credit card companies will be happy to oblige for a mere 20% A.P.R., of course.  Next thing we know... the dreaded D word has reared its ugly head... DEBT.  Now, we owe a bunch of money for stuff that's wore off and been replaced by the newest model.  It's a vicious cycle from which we can be freed.  All it takes is prevention.  Avoid the ads whenever possible.  And yes... that includes going out to browse the stores just because.  Stores are filled with ads as well.  50% off! BOGO! Or, of course, the giant pictures of 90 pound models frolicking through the sandy beaches in the latest beaded beach coverup.  You too can be as happy as this 16 year old model from Europe if you buy this $125 coverup! Forget that you're actually 46 and could easily be that model's mother...

Don't be fooled.  Be smart.  Be proactive in preventing the exposure.  And when you are exposed to the ads, which you will be... think.  Think about the reason behind the ads.  Is it to really make you happier?? Or is it in that company's interest of making a profit?  Think.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Minimalist Hair? - The Pixie Cut

To cut or not to cut?  That is a dreaded question for most women.  Long hair is such a huge part of our identity from the time we are born.  I recall people making comments when my little girl was born, such as: "Look at that hair! Wow!"  It's ingrained into our very being from the very beginning.  Girls have long hair.  Boys have short hair.  Anything different is looked at as, well... different.  At least for most of society.  But, come on... let's face it.  Who cares what they think, right?  I mean... seriously.   People don't expect it on younger women.  Older women tend to go short as they age.  But, anyone under 50 with short hair is looked at with the side eye.  Don't believe me?  Just take note of your reaction next time you see a young female with super short hair.  
Why did I decide to chop my hair off and go with this "long" pixie (longish up front and short on the back)?   I honestly just wanted to simplify one more area of my life.  My hair.  As you may have noticed, I get my hair highlighted.  I also get keratin on it.  Otherwise, I have very dark, unruly, frizzy as all get out, hair.  It's horrible.  I look electrocuted every morning and it's a complete pain to tame it.  So, I typically end up wearing it in a pony tail and calling it a day.  I love being blonde.  It's one of the luxuries I don't see myself quitting and I like silky, smooth hair, which is why keratin is here to stay.  But, guess what? That stuff is priced by the... you guessed it... length.  So, how do I keep my hair as healthy as possible, looking exactly as I love it, without it breaking the bank? Shorten the measuring stick used by hair salons to price their services.  The shorter the hair, the lower the cost. Period.
It's also less maintenance and time spent on styling.
"But, you need to get it cut every so many weeks!"  Yes.  That's true.  But, given that keratin alone can run you straight to the poor house every three months... keeping it short is definitely the way to go.  
Now, I'm not sure I'll keep it this short.  I may let it grow out into a short bob.  But, for now... I am loving it!
Let me ask you... have you ever gone this short before??  How did it feel? Did you love it? Hate it?  I'd love to know.  Have a great Monday!

xoxo - 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Duplicates - Toss 'Em

A common concern for those of us exploring the possibilities of minimalism is what to get rid of first.  "Do I start with my closet? My bathroom toiletries? My pantry? Ahhhhh!!"  Suddenly, overwhelmingness sets in and we're stuck.  This conundrum need not be.  No.  There is a clear answer... duplicates.  Do you really need three can openers? How about wine bottle openers?  Spatulas?  Wooden cooking spoons?  Headphones?  Does your dog truly need 20 random toys? Or, my favorite... must you get another candle, when you've got 5 half burned ones stashed in a drawer somewhere?

Let's start there today.  What do you have more than you need of?  Perhaps you have table settings for 12 people, but a dinner table that only sits 6.  Let go of the extra, the excess.  Take that step towards a simple freedom and bless someone else in the process.  Yesterday I let go of extra headphones.  I mean, I only have two ears.  Do I need 5 sets of headphones?  No.  What duplicate item will you start with today?


Friday, July 1, 2016

Don't Be Offended... I Just Un-Followed You...

The intent behind social media is, of course, to keep in touch with people, make new friends, build relationships, network, and so on and so forth.  But, what happens when your social media becomes a negative force in your life?  You know that person who's newsfeed is ALL about their workout and how awesome they feel?  Meanwhile you're laying on the couch pinching your bulging food baby? Or how about the gal who's ALWAYS on vacay, while you're clipping coupons for your next grocery outing?  And don't get me started on the political ranters of the group.  Ooooo.... those have to be my least favorite people on social media.  How in the world do we make it STOP?  One of the beautiful things about living a simple and minimal life is that it doesn't stop at de-cluttering stuff.  Minimalism can move into any aspect of our lives... including our social media.  We can choose what we're exposed to.  Yes.  We can.  Does that mean you should un-friend people and potentially offend a bunch of your closest friends and family members?  No, of course not.  But, you can choose to either follow their newsfeed or not.  Facebook is probably the easiest social media platform to do this on and, I'd dare say, the most annoying when it comes to this kind of thing.  Here's an idea... un-follow absolutely everyone of your friends.  Do it just for ONE week.  That way, every time you go on Facebook, your newsfeed will be blank.  You can then CHOOSE who you want to check in on.  Wondering how your bff is doing? Type in her name and check.  At the end of the week, simply begin following ONLY the people you seemed to check in on the most and only those pages that always make you feel good and uplifted.

I guarantee you will feel much better about going through your newsfeed.  I recommend the same for all other social media platforms.  Surround yourself with what makes you feel uplifted and happy... and NOT what brings you down.  

Wishing all of you a fantastic weekend! And if you're in the states, Happy 4th!! Stay safe!



Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Oh Dear Drea --- Living Simply and Vegan in South Florida

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite bloggers ever.  Her name is Andrea Duclos, but goes by Drea.  She resides in South Florida with her absolutely adorable family whilst living a simple life filled with color, flair, fun and lots of delicious vegan cooking.  She recently published a beautiful plant-based cookbook appropriately titled, "The Plantiful Table", which you can find by clicking here.   As a vegan myself and someone who also has a tiny little family in South Florida, I thought... hmmmm.... who better to ask vegan diet questions to than Drea?  Enjoy the interview and be sure to pop in and visit her blog "Oh Dear Drea."  You are absolutely sure to love it! Especially her house tour! And.... her recipes!
Hi Drea! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family's diet  
Well, my daughter and I are plant-based, while my husband eats just about everything except salmon. With the exception of eggs from our backyard chickens, my daughter and I are vegan. I guess some people are calling that “veggan” these days. We’re not calling it that ;) We don’t have a problem with our mixed diets so much— we all have the same values when it comes to food— quality is important. I’d rather see someone consciously eating food— all types of food— even meat, than scarfing down fast-food and sodas. At home we eat mostly vegetables and some grains, and way too many avocados. 

For a busy family, what would be a couple of easy meals that could be prepped with 4 ingredients or less in no more than a half hour? 
When I’m in a pinch on time— we usually stick to soups or acted veggies with grains. If you count spices though, we’d be way over our 4 ingredient minimum. My daughter loves “green soup” which is just a few veggies and broccoli blended together. Or a kale pesto pasta, super easy. Veggies and millet is our go to lately— something like the “15 minute couscous” recipe in my cookbook, except with millet, since I’m gluten free now.  And rice and beans— simple but filling. 

What easy peasy meal could you recommend for children who are being introduced into a plant-based diet, but who also happen to be super picky eaters?

Really, any of the pasta dishes in my cookbook. They’re all super easy to make (only one is time consuming) and loved by most kids. 

What staples should be in every vegan's pantry? 
For us, we always like to have a few grain options and loads of spices. You can take those things + lots of veggies and make a really stand out meal. 
Tell us a bit about the new cookbook, The Plantiful Table. 

Honestly, I think the cookbook is a pretty useful tool for non vegans. It’s not filled with super “weird vegan ingredients”— it’s all pretty straightforward for people to use severance in a while or every single day! I’m just hoping to add more plants and healthy food to peoples lives especially kiddos! :) 

Thanks for the interview Drea! Cannot wait to try some of those recipes. Yum!

** Please note: All photographs featured in this post are the property of Oh Dear Drea (Andrea Duclos) **

Monday, June 27, 2016

Go Paperless

In this day and age of the Internet, why in the world are people still doing business with paper?  It completely boggles my mind when we have a ton of junk mail delivered into our mailbox several times a week.  Sometimes, every single day.  And where does it directly go to?  The recycling bin.  I never even entertain it.  At all.  How about you?  Also, bills.  Why do people still request to have actual statements sent to their mailbox?  Don't we know what our bills are and when they're due? We can then just log online and pay them, right?
Well, these may seem like simple things to some of you, but it isn't second nature to most people.  In fact, most of us who lived pre-Internet times ( I know... seems like cave times), got used to receiving a bill in the mail, writing out our little check, putting a stamp on it and mailing it back with just enough time for it to be processed by the due date.  I know.  I was definitely one of those people.  But, I found such freedom in opting out of receiving any physical bills reminders.  I do everything paperless now and it's great!  How do I manage to remember what's due, when?  I have a bills book.  It's just a little notebook I purchased on sale in which I write my monthly bills, amounts and due dates, every month.  I then check them off as I pay them online.  Easy peasy.  No writing checks.  No buying stamps.  No sending them in the mail and having my bills create any kind of carbon footprint.  It's all done quickly, efficiently and eco-friendly.  Plain and simple.  

How can you opt out of unsolicited junk mail?  Click here for links on where to get your name off of these mailing lists.  I guarantee your mind will feel so much more at ease when checking the mailbox.  Your anxiety levels will decrease and you will feel happier.  No, it doesn't take the bills away.  True.  But, it puts them on your terms.  When you are ready, you open up your little notebook and get them paid on the same day every month (For example, I do payday as my bills day).  You then put your little notebook away and get it out of sight.  Why keep the paper flow of stress and anxiety coming, at will?  Make the change.  Go paperless.  


Friday, June 24, 2016

A Zero-Waste Life

Imagine fitting all of your family's trash,  for the year, into this glass jar.  That is exactly what Zero-Waste movement proponent, Bea Johnson managed to do years ago.  Today, their trash jar has gotten even smaller. Yes. Smaller.  When I first saw a video on YouTube about this lifestyle, I thought... "There is no way.  How in the world?"  But, of course... as with any challenge, I was immediately intrigued.  One of the main reasons that I am vegan is for environmental purposes.  So, the fact that adopting a zero-waste lifestyle would be beneficial to the environment was quite interesting to me.  Of course, I began to read and read and read.  When I get obsessed with a topic, there ain't no stopping me.  I read everything about it and learn it inside and out.  Now, at this point, I'm still doing my research.  But, I wanted to share this movement with you and see if you'd consider it? Would you?  I bought the following Kindle book (because... hello... let's save some trees people!) and I am hooked! It's by Bea Johnson herself and it is titled, Zero Waste Home.  

From what I've read so far, here are some easy tips shared by Bea herself and by a ton of Zero Wasters around the Internet.  Read on... could you do it or are you already doing some of these?

  • Refuse to bring home plastic bags.  Bring your own reusable bags to the grocery store.  I take about 6 bags with me and they fit a lot more than the plastic ones do anyway.  So... less trips to the car when unloading! Winning!
  • Stop buying water bottles or disposable plastic bottles in general.  Replace with a reusable bottle.  I only drink water. So, this is the bottle I use... click here.  We also keep a Brita pitcher in our fridge. 
  • Aim for buying items in bulk rather than packaged.  We eat a lot of rice.  So, instead of buying packaged rice, I bought in bulk at my local Whole Foods and put it into a cotton bag.  When I brought it home, I poured it into a sealed glass jar. Voila! Rice for days, it looks pretty in our pantry AND it's no packaging to the landfill! Triple winning! Yessssss!
  • Buy second hand FIRST and only buy new when you don't have a choice.  I highly recommend this for things like toys.  Kids get so bored of their toys in such a short amount of time that it feels like such a waste.  Buy consignment and it will be more cost effective and environmentally friendly!
  • If you're a lady... (men close your eyes or skip this section), opt for using a menstrual cup instead of disposable tampons and pads.  It's much more hygienic, cleaner AND doesn't produce a ton of disgusting waste.  The Lily Cup is awesome.  Click here to check it out!
  • Don't throw out those pasta sauce jars! Clean them up and store them for your next grocery trip.  They're terrific for storing food items; using as glassware; storing leftovers or even as toothbrush holders!
  • No more plastic toothbrushes... please.  Opt for bamboo or the Preserve brand.  My daughter uses a bamboo brush.  I currently use a Preserve toothbrush and razor.  However, I plan to switch over to bamboo and a double edge safety razor.  
  • Make it yourself! I'm a HUGE fan of hummus.  A bit too much of a fan.  But, hummus is pricey! Plus, all those plastic containers it comes in.  So, I decided to look at the ingredients and thought... "I could make this myself!" And that's exactly what I did.  SO easy and healthy.  
  • Learn composting!  Don't throw away food waste.  According to "In 2013, we disposed more than 35 million tons of food waste. Once in landfills, food breaks down to produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change."That's unreal and completely preventable.  Will you take this journey with me?  I don't know about becoming "Bea Johnson" level zero-waste, but I will definitely work on reducing the waste we produce in our household. 
I hope you've been inspired and have learned something new! Have a wonderful and simple weekend.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Design Your Simple Life

So often we let life lead us, instead of the other way around.  Truth is, we really do have a lot more say in it than we give ourselves credit for.  Envision the life you want.  Then work on it daily.  One day, you'll look back and say, "Oh yea.  I dreamt about this.  Now, I'm here.  This is my life!"  It really is that simple.  Designing a simple life is oftentimes about shifting priorities.  Take a good look at where you spend most of your time.  Whatever your answer, that is your number #1 priority.  Is that accurate?  If we spend most of our time at work, then that is our number #1 priority.  It may not be what we want, but it is what it is.  So, how do we begin to redesign our lives? One step at a time.  One decision at a time.  
If faith and family is our number #1 priority then how can we shift things around to spend more time in these two areas?  Now granted, dropping everything and moving into the woods a la Thoreau style is not a feasible alternative for most of us.  But, saying no to one more commitment is.  Leaving the office an hour earlier than our usual overtime is.  Getting up in the morning an hour early to have some time with God or in meditation... is.  Life is what we make it.  The beauty of living a simple life is that it really doesn't require much.  If anything, it requires less.... much less.  Less stuff, less expense, less stress.  Learn to say no today to what doesn't add value and begin to invest your precious time in the things that do.  That is the absolute cornerstone or living simply.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Minimalist's Guide to Skincare

Years ago I stumbled upon an adorable, minimalist skin care, clothing and home boutique shop located in Tampa, FL called Arjuna.  My favorite part of visiting this amazing little shop was meeting its owner, Jennifer.  We immediately began chatting it up and realized we held a lot of the same beliefs and interests.  Today we've both taken on different journeys and Jen can be found running her own beauty studio in beautiful Miami Beach. Her aesthetic is quintessential minimalism, as seen through her Instagram feed.  But, her background and expertise in skincare is what drew me to interview her on behalf of all of you, the readers.  Read, learn, apply, enjoy. 

If you could give us some background information about yourself, your business and what led you to it.

I’ve had an interest in skincare and wellness ever since I can remember, massaging my mom when she was pregnant with my brother, always snooping around in my grandmother's cosmetics, I stopped eating most meats when I was 12, although nobody else in my family is vegetarian & one of my first jobs was at a local health food store, which I loved & still shop in on my trips home. I am very fortunate that I always knew my calling.

I became a licensed esthetician and massage therapist after high school and from there, bounced around throughout the spa and wellness industry while continuing my education to receive my bachelor's in Holistic Medicine. Fast forward to now & I’ve combined all of my education and skills to create Minimal Beauty, which was born from my love of skincare, wellness and the power of human touch.

I perform facials in a spa­like setting but my works goes much deeper than that. I bridge the gap for my clients and help them transition to a truly natural and results driven skin care routine. I’m detoxing their entire skincare routines, including diet and supplement aspects while re­educating them on the importance of simplicity and less being more when it comes to skincare and wellness. The conventional beauty industry of today is purely a marketing industry and I know this because I’ve worked on both sides of the industry. It is full of greenwashing, (creating packaging to look natural when it is not) and the industry swears up and down you need this, that and the third to be beautiful and that could not be further from the truth. I have seen, touched, listened and learned about so many skin problems over the years, the toll this takes on self­esteem and I can honestly say that many skin problems stem from using too many unnecessary and unhealthy products on our skin and the distorted views on beauty that the industry has created.

If one was to choose only one thing to do for our skin, what would your #1 recommendation?

Is 2 #1 recommendations ok? Always cleansing & going to bed with clean skin & definitely protecting your skin daily with a non­chemical sunblock, which would be formulas including zinc oxide & titanium dioxide.

Can you walk us through a minimalistic and simple skin care routine for our mornings and evenings?

Absolutely. Cleanse, tone, serum or moisturizer, morning & night, adding your SPF during the day and gentle exfoliation & masquing 2­3 times per week.

The key to a minimalistic skincare routine is finding the correct products for your skin type that you & your skin love. This keeps you from searching for new products, creating product over­load in your bathroom and constantly wasting money on products that don't work, leading to frustration and skin irritations. I do also educate my clients on daytime products vs. nighttime products. Morning routines are to gently wake the skin to prepare and protect it from the outside elements and night­time is to cleanse and treat the skin with your power products such as exfoliators, masques, and specialty products, as our skin is repairing and rebuilding as we sleep. It is not called beauty sleep for no reason.

Where could one buy skin care products that are plant ­based and cruelty free?

Well of course I have a small curated collection on my website that I use in my treatments and for my clients home care prescriptions at and some of my other favorite sites include,, & Trust plays a huge factor in where I shop and recommend to others. These companies philosophies, products and ethics go hand in hand with my own beliefs on skin and self­care and they all offer beautifully created collections of some of the most luxurious, cleanest products on the market today.

Any other recommendations for our skin care regimen? For instance... are facials really necessary? If so, how often would you recommend them? Etc…

Of course I always recommend drinking an adequate amount of water & eating clean for optimal skin health. Fish oil & turmeric are my favorite internal skin recommendations. Fish oils provide hydration from the inside out, as well as anti­inflammatory properties, which also why I recommend the very well known anti­inflammatory turmeric.
Inflammation is a major root cause of many skin conditions, from acne to skin sensitivities and even wrinkles.

I know that facials are a necessity for optimal skin health and I see the difference they create in people's skin. Each treatment I perform is always tailored to your skin needs the day of your visit. Seasons change, diets change, stress levels fluctuate, we travel, etc so whatever you skin needs that day is what I provide.

My treatments are extremely relaxing, detailed oriented and each manipulation and movement I perform serves a purpose. We hold so much tension in our faces, especially in our jaws and between the eyes. This creates energy and blood stagnation which can lead to lackluster and dull complexions. I recently started opening each of my facials by oil cleansing, which starts detoxing and drawing impurities from the skin, in combination with gua­sha massage, an ancient asian inspired technique that uses a tool made from the jade stone to open and activate the energy meridians throughout the face. This releases tension, blood and is extremely relaxing, which really opens up and stimulates the skin so the entire process of the facial is received on a more awakened level. From there, I customize the products needed for a deep pore cleansing and each treatment always includes a lot of upper body and facial massage. This area is huge for our lymphatic system, especially for women, as it is important for breast health to keep our lymph circulating and detoxing throughout our upper bodies. Massage not only feels wonderful but it is extremely lifting, anti­aging, anti­congesting and the perfect way to relax. Gentle extractions are always included in each treatment as well.

Our skin cells turnover on a 28 day cycle so every 4­6 weeks is ideal but I always respect how often clients are able to come in for treatments and have also created packages to help clients with all of their needs if that is a better route for them. Peels, micro­needling and more advanced treatments, bookings are much closer together, some as close to 2 weeks, as we are usually focusing on alleviating some type of scarring, acne, wrinkles etc. and once results are achieved, we stay on the 4­6 week plan. For my super minimal clients, I do recommend coming in for each season change, it is the perfect time to treat your skin to a detoxifying facial and to re­evaluate your home care routines for any upcoming weather
changes. I’m all for preventive care!

All science and product knowledge aside, the power of human touch is such a gift and if you look at the history of ancient beauty, women used to spend all day together at the hammam and it is how we bonded. I enjoy every moment of working on my clients, I am always humbled knowing that their hour with me may be the only hour of relaxation they have had all week or month. As women, we are nurturers and it is important to let go and let someone do the same for us, which always creates that glow from the inside out.

Also, what is your view on make up for women?  What should we be doing without for the health of our skin?

I love the editorial and creative aspect of dramatic make­up in magazines & photography but I’m definitely a natural beauty fan for everyday looks. My goal is always to help my clients achieve skin they love, which then calls for very little, if any, skin make­up, as they are no longer trying to hide or conceal their skin.

I don't think we need to go without when it comes to make­up but of course, I am an advocate for clean make­up just as much as I am skincare products. Luckily there are some gorgeous make­up lines on the market today created without harsh chemicals, tars, dyes, etc that I am in love with & highly recommend such as RMS cosmetics, ILIA Beauty & W3ll People.

Thank you for answering our questions Jen! We sincerely appreciate all of your advice.  If you are interested in learning more about how to book a session with Jen or you just want to check out her awesome website, please visit Minimal Beauty or click here for more.