I was tagged by Jenny from the YouTube channel Simply Jenny T. a long long time ago to do this. If you haven't checked Jenny out yet, go do that! She has a great channel about living a more minimal and simple lifestyle.Read More
Creating a capsule wardrobe has forced me to figure out what I like in a piece of clothing. I know now more than ever which shapes are flattering for me, which colors look better with my complexion, and what overall vibe I am striving for.Read More
What I’m here to talk about today is how I’ve been able to create a life that I enjoy and that aligns with my values.
Of course life isn’t static and I’m still growing and changing and learning, but I’m happy to say I’m in a situation that is enjoyable that allows me to grow and change and explore in a way that aligns with my values.
Based on my experiences and those of others, I have come up with 6 steps for creating and maintaining a life that aligns with you.
For more than a year now I’ve been working on a tool to help me with these 6 steps.
I want to give you that tool today as a gift and hope that it helps you as well.
Before creating this tool, I was juggling a daily planner, “The Five Minute Journal,” a free form journal, and what I liked to call a life-planning binder that I created myself.
I was using these planners and journals to help me get my stuff together.
I wanted one tool or book to turn to to help me stay organized, focused, and mindful.
This has become the “Daily Intent Journal & Planner.”
I intend for this journal to eventually exist as a physical journal. I have received a sample which I designed however it still needs some work. You can see the sample above.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share what I have so far with whoever is interested as a free PDF.
If you’re interested in using this journal and planner, you can get it e-mailed to you by visiting www.likeminimal.com and entering your e-mail address in the pop-up box. You can also just click here to sign up. If you are already subscribed, you’ll receive an e-mail about how to get it.
This is what I use on a daily basis to plan my life, reflect, journal, express what I’m grateful for, take notes, meal plan, budget, and set goals and routines.
It is this tool that has helped me and continues to help me to move through the following six steps to creating a life aligned with who I am and what I want.
So, let’s get into the steps…
I will briefly touch on each step and create a separate more in-depth video for each step in addition. So stay tuned for those.
Six Steps to Creating and Maintaining a Life that Aligns with You
1.) Finding and Acknowledging Your Values - Values are things that everyone has, whether we’ve figured them out or not. Knowing our values is key to knowing what will make us most happy and satisfied in this life. Keep an eye out for a video about finding and acknowledging your values to see what questions we can answer to figure it out and how I figured out what mine were.
2.) Plan Your Life - I’m not sure it’s healthy to map out where we want to be specifically at a certain age in terms of societal norms and “milestones,” but having a general idea of where we want to go and what we want to do based on our values helps us to create a meaningful life. Check out the upcoming video on planning your life to see how I’ve planned mine using my journal.
3.) Set Goals - Creating goals aligned with our values helps us to make progress as long as we know ourselves and aren't creating so many goals and “deadlines” that it backfires and we become overwhelmed. Everyone is different and even if you don’t like deadlines or milestone markers attached to your goals, I think it’s useful to have an idea of the direction you're moving toward. Again, you'll soon see the video about creating goals for more information about mine and how Daily Intent Journal & Planner helps with this step.
4.) Create Routines - Having routines will help us live from our values on a daily basis. For me, this looks like having a morning routine devoted to personal growth and mental health. I also try to have a bit of an evening routine centered on relaxation but mostly fail. This leads me to steps 5 and 6. Don’t forget to check out the video about creating routines to find out more on this topic.
5. & 6.) Adjusting and Restructuring Your Life + Check in with Yourself Daily - These steps go hand in hand. Checking in with ourselves on a daily basis can look like meditation, journaling, and reflecting on the day. These tools help us to see how we’re doing, if we’re living from our values, if we’re working toward those goals, and if we need to make any changes to be happier or healthier. I think the point is to continuously grow and change and our daily actions, routines, and habits should reflect that. To see how the Daily Intent Journal & Planner helps us to reflect on and adjust our goals and routines, check out the video about just that, which will be up soon.
Like I said, if you want to get a free copy of a month’s worth of this journal and planner tool I have created, just enter your email address into the pop-up box at likeminimal.com and I’ll send it over to you. It will then be yours. Feel free to print it as many times as you’d like. If it’s something that you find to be useful I’d love to hear about it. I’d also love to hear about any suggestions you might have or how it could be more tailored to your lifestyle.
The other day I had a cozy day at home during which I was very productive. I also enjoyed delicious food, which you can see in the video below.
This week I want to share with you where I am in terms of reaching the goals I set out for myself this month and more of what I’ve been learning.
I’m going to share with you each goal I set for myself and where I am in reaching that goal and my next steps.
1. How to streamline and minimize monthly expenses:
To streamline expenses, one of my goals for this week will be to set up automatic transfers to pay certain bills online.
To minimize expenses I will look into car insurance rates and reducing amount of money budgeted to categories like clothes and home decor. I hope to find what I need or want at second hand shops for less money as well.
I also will use the cash envelope system for food, gas, pet supplies, and fun stuff.
2. How to still have fun while saving money:
I am allowing myself some spending money each month for dining out or entertainment type stuff. I will use the cash envelope system and choose activities wisely.
It's helpful to remember that being conservative now will help me save up a full emergency fund which will then allow me to start saving for retirement and investing, which will set me up for a more comfortable future and retirement.
3. What I need to have a savings account for emergencies, for fun, and for retirement:
Emergency fund: I opened up another checking account through my bank which I can withdraw from if need be, but it is not as easy to get this money out as it would be if it were in my standard checking account. I am and will continue to contribute to this fund on a weekly basis although the amount might vary month to month depending on what else is going on that month.
Fun: I mentioned last week that I opened a savings account to save money for a trip. After reading more of Dave Ramsey’s book, I think I should really save up a full emergency fund before contributing any precious savings money to a trip fund. So that’s what I’ll do. I just did my budget for October and I’m still giving myself some money to spend on fun stuff like restaurants and clothing.
Retirement: Dave also says to build the full emergency fund before starting to save for retirement. When it is time to start a retirement fund, I will do more research on the types of plans and accounts that are best for this. Dave gives us a lot of information in his book, “Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money” but it will mean much more when I’m actually ready to take the advice.
4. How, what, and why to invest.
As I just mentioned, I’m not quite at this point yet in my financial journey and when I have my full emergency fund I will take a closer look at this.
To summarize, what I’m working on is spending less and saving more. In addition to spending less money, in order expedite the process of saving up the full emergency fund, I am considering picking up some extra work and have a couple things I’d like to sell.
I’d love to hear about your financial goals and if you have any other strategies for expediting the emergency fund saving!
This week I've been reading "Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money" and have learned quite a bit.
I want to share with you four things Dave has taught me about budgeting.
1. Include every possible expense you can think of for the month. Try to plan ahead and be prepared to spend money on anything and everything you think could come up that month. For example, allocating some money for an oil change or medical appointment.
2. Each month will be different. The budget you planned for last month probably won't cut it for this month. We've got different expenses each month, so why do we think we can use the same exact budget and not fail?
3. Perfecting the budget will take a few months. Budgeting is hard. We most likely won't get it right the first or even second month we try. It might take some tweaking and adjusting to figure out a good flow and be able to anticipate expenses.
4. Use the envelope system for appropriate expenses. This means keeping envelopes with the amount of cash allocated to those certain categories. The categories that make the most sense to keep cash for are those which you can pay for at a physical location, like food and gas. This way, when the envelope is empty, you know you're done for that category that month.
Guys, this book is great.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and I'm not halfway through. It's just so much more to the point and clear than the Tony Robbins book I started a while back.
What are your budgeting triumphs and failures? What are your goals?
This month I’m exploring finances and money and how to deal with it all.
So this is not me giving advice necessarily, it’s intended to be a conversation.
I’ve made some progress on my goals since last week. My goals for this month, just to reiterate, are to learn:
- How to streamline and minimize monthly expenses
- How to still have fun while saving money
- What I need to do to have a savings account for emergencies, for fun, and for retirement
- How, what, and why to invest
So what I learned this week to share with you relates to having an account to save for emergencies and to save for trips or fun things.
Thanks to you guys for recommending Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps, which don’t all apply to me because I’m fortunate enough to not have debt, and I don’t have a mortgage or plan to have kids. However, I think the other steps are still very relevant and give me some smart framework.
Dave’s steps are:
- Save $1,000 for an emergency fund
- Pay off all debt but the house
- Save 3 to 6 months of expenses in emergency fund
- Invest 15% of income into retirement
- College fund for children
- Pay off home early
- Build wealth and give
This week I continued to read “Money: Master the Game” by Tony Robbins, I purchased Dave Ramsey’s “Complete Guide to Money,” and I opened up two bank accounts for specific reasons.
So I now have three accounts:
- I already had a checking account for paying bills and spending money on things like food and pet supplies and whatever
- I opened a checking account for emergency fund savings - this way I can allocate a certain amount of my paycheck to go to that account and it is not as easy to spend that money as it would be if it stayed in my regular checking account
- I opened a savings account - this one is for a trip/fun thing fund - I can allocate some of my paycheck to this as well because life’s short and I want to also have fun while I save
So each week, I’ll be putting money towards my emergency fund as well as my trip fund.
I have a certain amount that I’m aiming to allocate to each fund each week, which has been calculated based on a monthly budget I have created for myself. I’ve been budgeting for a while now and some months I’m better than others, however I feel that having separate accounts for these savings will be tremendously helpful because once I transfer the money out of my regular checking, it’s out of sight out of mind.
My next steps will be to work with my budget and fine tune it while figuring out how to still have fun. I think this will look like not eating out as much and doing more things that are free. I am excited to explore.
I also will be researching more about how to save for retirement and invest.
So next week I’ll share an update on my process.
Please share any resources you have, I think we can all benefit from them!
During the month of September I want to talk about and learn about money.
Most of us need money to pay for some of our basic needs, like food and shelter, as well as things that aren’t so basic, like trips and chocolate bars.
I want to learn about saving, investing, retirement, and so on. I realize I won’t become an expert or financial advisor in one month. But, learning a little here and there couldn’t hurt.
Thankfully, I make enough money to cover my bills with some wiggle room, and want to figure out how to save what I can for emergencies, trips, and even retirement, while enjoying my life now.
I want to share the resources and information I learn about with you on this channel because I think it’s related to my mission here. “… to discuss and explore a healthy and happy lifestyle through compassion, mindfulness, and minimalism.”
We need money, at least some, to be healthy and happy.
I can be compassionate in different ways if I can save some money to give away.
I need to be more mindful of my financial situation in order to make the best out of it.
Lastly, minimizing unnecessary expenses and maximizing savings will only help me achieve what I want to in life.
So here’s what I want to learn, specifically:
- How to streamline and minimize monthly expenses
- How to still have fun while saving money
- What I need to do to have a savings account for emergencies, for fun, and for retirement
- How, what, and why to invest
Do you have any resources you can recommend? What are your financial goals?
This month I’m focusing on health and today I want to talk about positive habits for mental health.
I want to share resources and information I've found helpful in staying positive and in a place where I feel I can put my best foot forward.
I mentioned a few of these things in my video about feeling better when blue, which you can find below. I want to emphasize that there are also things we can do on a daily basis as maintenance for our mental health.
These are all things I ideally do right when I wake up, before I look at any social media. I like having this time to myself, where I’m not concerned about outside influences and can focus on me and my life.
5 Positive Habits to Improve Mental Health
Keeping a regular meditation practice has helped me to gain control of my actions by gaining more control of my mind. It is much easier for me to be in the moment and not freak out when things don’t go my way. I try to do 10 minutes of meditation every morning when I wake up. I made a video about meditation and how I meditate which you can find below.
Journaling is a great tool for our mental health. To me, journaling means writing freely about what I’m thinking or feeling. It helps me to process things and gain a little more insight as to why I’m feeling a certain way. There are many different ways to journal. I write anywhere from a half page to a full page each morning after I meditate.
Noting a few things that I’m grateful for in life has helped me to be more constantly aware of all the good that exists. It helps me start the day off with a positive mindset.
Here's a video I made about the benefits of gratitude.
Ben Franklin has been credited with saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” I would have to agree. I think it’s important for mental health to at least have an idea about what our values are and what we want to make of our lives so that we can plan our days accordingly. I think this ties into a human’s need for meaning and purpose.
This is the hardest thing on this list for me to do consistently, yet it has such a positive effect on my mental health when I do it. Exercising and moving our bodies reduces stress, increases self-confidence, helps us sleep better, and makes us feel more productive. I do get a good amount of exercise at work as a nanny as we play a lot of running games. However, I need to pencil in some exercise on my calendar and find the specific kind that I love to do so it becomes more of a routine and I can stick to it.
UPDATE since last week when I wrote this: Matt and I have been getting back into running 3x a week which has been fun and invigorating!
2 Books I’d Recommend Reading for Improved Mental Health
1. "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl
Written by a holocaust survivor and psychiatrist, the description on the back of the book reads, “Based on his own experience and the stories about his patients, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward. At the heart of his theory,… is a conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful.”
Reading this book and returning to it frequently has helped me maintain this perspective.
2. "The Four Agreements" by Don Miguel Ruiz
I think the description on the back of this book also says it best, “…don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, The Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love.”
I also return frequently to this book and its four agreements in order to remind myself that happiness, freedom, and love are choices I can make every day.
I’d love to know your biggest road block in practicing any or all of these habits that improve mental health.
If it’s a matter of having time in the morning to do all of these things, you can try doing them at different times of day. What I would recommend though, is going to bed a half hour earlier and waking up a half hour earlier. Your quality of sleep will improve and you’ll have time to fit in some meditation, journaling, and planning before starting the rest of your day.
Let me know in the comments what you struggle with. I'd love to hear about it!
I’ve designed a journal that I use that includes gratitude, free-form journaling, calendars, daily schedules, daily intentions, meal planning, budgeting, monthly goals, and monthly reflections that helps me to maintain these positive habits.
If this journal is something you would be interested in learning more about, please make sure to enter your e-mail address in the pop up box on this site so that you are notified when it's ready to go.
Talk to you soon!
This month I’m focusing on health, and the products we use on our body are a big part of the picture.
Minimal and Safe Beauty to me means using a manageable number of products that are not hazardous to my health or the environment. This is of course a process for me.
I want to talk about and show you what I use now, why I use it, and my goals for my “beauty” arsenal and routine.
I like to be able to get ready quickly. I don’t like a lot of products and the more makeup I have on, the more I worry all day that it’s getting messed up and looking worse than I would look without makeup on at all.
My skin is pretty clear right now. For a while I had severe chin acne that I think was related to bowel issues. It’s mostly cleared up but I still usually have at least one or two pimples at any given time.
So my philosophy is to try to wear as little makeup as I can while giving myself enough coverage to feel comfortable and confident. It’s also important to me that the products I use on my face and body are on the cleaner side, with few ingredients I don’t recognize or am unable to pronounce.
Another necessary resource to check out the toxicity of beauty products would be the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database, which grades each product on how safe it is to use. Their database contains information on 62,000 products so check it out and see how your products score.
You can also search for information about the toxicity of a specific ingredient found in your products.
The scale goes from 1 to 7, 1 being least hazardous and 7 being most hazardous.
Products I Use + Their EWG Scores
- Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap: Citrus - 1 (washing body, face, and for shaving)
- Desert Essence Tea Tree Conditioner - 2
- Desert Essence Tea Tree Shampoo - not listed
In the shower I’ll tend to use the conditioner more frequently than the shampoo. When I decide to use both, I use the conditioner first and gauge how much shampoo I need to use after so that my hair doesn’t end up too dry or too oily.
I also use the shampoo to wash out the coconut oil from my hair when I do a hair mask.
- Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil - 1 (for moisturizing my face and for the oil cleansing method)
- Alteya Organics 100% Pure Bulgarian Rose Water - not listed (toner)
- Kiss My Face Sunscreen face factor - 3
- Tarte Maracujá Creaseless Concealer - 2013 formula rated as a 2
- Zuzu Luxe Dual Powder Foundation - 2
- Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour Blush - 2013 formula rated as a 3
- Mineral Fusion Lengthening Mascara - 2
Face Special Occasions/ Once in a While
- Alba Botanica Very Emollient Sunscreen Lip Care - 2012 forumla rated as a 3
- Burt’s Bees Hibiscus Tinted Lip Balm - 4
- Eco Lips Mongo Kiss Vanilla Honey - 1
- Tarte Lipstick - 2013 formula rated as a 3
- Shikai Borage Therapy Fragrance-Free Lotion - 2
- Goddess Garden Organics Sunscreen SPF 30 Sport - 1
- Piper Wai deodorant - 2
- Crystal Body Deodorant Stick - 1
- Tom’s of Maine Antiplaque & Whitening Fluoride-Free Peppermint Toothpaste - 1
- Dr Tung's Smart Floss
Homemade Products I Use or Have Tried:
- Trash is for Tossers' DIY deodorant recipe - The ingredients include coconut oil, arrowroot powder, baking soda, shea butter and essential oil. I used tea tree essential oil and I think the tea tree irritated my skin and caused some sort of reaction. Next time I make it I’m going to use a gentler essential oil and probably a little less of it. Otherwise, I found this deodorant easy to use and would reapply once or twice a day to maintain freshness.
- Dry Shampoo - This DIY recipe is made of cocoa powder, cornstarch, cosmetic clay, cinnamon, and essential oil. I use it when I have greasy roots and can’t or don’t want to wash my hair at that time, but haven’t been using it a whole lot because I’ve been trying to make my hair look good without using heat on it, so I have been washing/wetting my hair more often.
- Coconut oil - I use this as a body moisturizer and hair mask. More often than not I don’t even feel like using this on my body out of laziness, but will try to do a hair mask once a week or every two weeks. It smells amazing and works great when I muster up the energy to use it.
My Goals for My Minimal & Safe Beauty Arsenal and Routine:
- Nourish my body so that my skin is as clear as possible in order to go foundation-free more frequently and feel confident and comfortable
- Nourish my hair and avoid using heat so that it gets healthier and looks nicer when it dries on its own and does its own thing. (In order to tame my wild hair, I’ve been putting it into a braid in the evening after I wash it, so that it dries in a less frizzy way as I sleep. I also use bobby pins to try to direct the way the hair around my face will dry. It has been slightly successful. I sometimes will still use heat to shape the hair around my face.)
- Make more of the products I use homemade products, reducing weird ingredients used as well as waste produced and money spent.
What is your "beauty" routine like if you have one? What does your "arsenal" consist of? Let me know in the comments!
What is a capsule wardrobe?
It’s a smaller collection of clothing meant to be worn for 1 or 2 seasons. Perhaps someone living in a place where the weather is more steady all year round can wear his or hers for longer.
The pieces should all go well together and support your lifestyle in a functional way, while making you look great.
This summer is the first season I’ve had a pretty complete capsule wardrobe.
It’s not all awesome, nor my dream summer wardrobe, but I think I did well for my first go.
I am going to discuss what I needed in a capsule, how many pieces I included, and why I chose those pieces below.
Why create a capsule wardrobe?
For me, a capsule wardrobe is streamlined, focused, easy to maintain, easy to store, simpler, more enjoyable, and makes getting dressed quicker and easier.
For the planet, a capsule wardrobe limits the amount of stuff I buy, reducing the demand I put on the fashion industry, reducing the resources needed to create the clothes.
The idea of a capsule wardrobe has also encouraged me to become more aware of how clothes are made.
There’s a very informative documentary about the fast fashion industry called The True Cost. It’s available to stream on Netflix. Highly recommended.
My Wardrobe Breakdown
- 3 bottoms
- 12 tops
- 1 dress
- 4 pairs of shoes
- 2 hats
- 3 bags
I did not include the following in my capsule:
- bathing suits
- exercise clothes
- dressier clothes
- under garments
I also have other clothes, shoes, and hats that are more appropriate for the colder seasons, which were not included in this capsule.
My Wardrobe Considerations
Ethical & Cruelty-Free
As a compassionate person constantly striving to live from that value in all aspects of life, I now aim to purchase clothes from second hand sources or companies that produce their clothes ethically and make their practices transparent (when I need a new piece of clothing).
Something else I look for in an item is whether or not it’s made from animal products. I look for leather alternatives, down alternatives, and avoid suede. Cruelty is not cute and is totally unnecessary, especially when you can have awesome animal-free pieces.
More and more cruelty-free and vegan clothing companies are popping up. A simple Google search will back me up on that.
I do have a pair of supportive chunky sandals that I got from The Walking Company a few years ago, which are genuine leather. I decided to keep them and include them in my capsule because they are comfortable and getting rid of them would mean that I’d want to replace them with another pair, which would be wasteful.
This world is imperfect, as am I. Trying and getting better and learning is what matters. "Don't do nothing because you can't do everything." - Colleen Patrick-Goudreau aka my favorite person.
Fit: Loose-Fitting & Comfortable
As you might know from some of my other blog posts and videos, I am frequently bloated as I am trying to figure out how to heal my gut issues.
Wearing tight fitting clothes make me feel uncomfortable and aren’t very flattering on more bloated days.
I tried to find loose fitting and boxy shirts for this capsule. I do have high-waisted shorts and a high-waisted skirt, which is going against what I just said. However, I really liked these pieces and reserve them for days when my stomach is less bloated. :-/
Work Appropriate & Functional
Again, as you may or may not know, I am a nanny. I work with a four year old and we run, play, crawl around on the floor, and do messy activities.
For work I need clothes that are comfortable to move in, ok to get messy, are conservative, and cool enough for when we’re outside, while keeping me comfortable in the AC indoors.
You can see all of the items in my summer capsule in my video I share in this blog post. There are 7 pieces that I am wearing to work this summer:
- the gray boxy tee
- the black boxy tee
- the blue striped tee
- the gray striped tee
- the J.Crew toothpick jeans (distressed from wear & tear)
- the Vegetarian Shoes heel strap sandals (great for running, which is a must!)
- the black baseball cap
I pretty much have a uniform, which is amazing.
In addition, I am looking for another pair of jeans I can wear to work that look nice yet are ok to get dirty and develop holy knees. I love those J. Crew toothpick jeans but I'm going to either look on Ebay for something second hand and similar or just scour the thrift stores.
I also wear those clothes on my days off, incorporating my other pieces that aren’t so work appropriate.
I know each person has colors that work best for him or her based on skin tone, hair color, and eye color.
I found out that you can either be a summer, autumn, winter, or spring as far as which color palettes work best for you.
I think I’m a summer?
Anyway, while I think I’m a summer, I don’t necessarily love all summer colors. I gravitate more to the blacks, grays, whites, and blues and you see a lot of those in this capsule.
Something I want to work on for my fall capsule wardrobe is incorporating more of the colors that look best on me.
Do you have a capsule wardrobe? If so, what have been your struggles and successes?
If not, are you interested in creating one?
Having a minimal and safe arsenal of cleaning supplies and routines is key to keeping the house manageable, enjoyable, clean, and healthy.
Store-bought cleaning products are costly, full of chemicals, and bad for our health.
Alisa Vitti writes in "Woman Code," “The products you use to clean your bathroom and household are potential stressors on your health. New scientific research shows that many of the chemicals found in everyday house-cleaning products are bio-accumulative and very toxic, which means that once in your system, they stay in your system and allow for increased free radical damage, which makes you more vulnerable to autoimmune diseases and cancers.”
She says, “Find your bleach products, Comet, Ajax, Windex, Lysol, air fresheners, Glade Plug-ins, cute toilet bowl cleaners, and talc-based baby powder. Throw them in a garbage bag and toss them out.”
They’re not just bad for women. They’re bad for men, children, and pets as well.
Robynne Chutkan writes in “The Microbiome Solution,” that store-bought antibacterial household cleaners are harmful to our microbiome, washing away essential skin bacteria.
The major cleaning product companies will also have you believe that you need twenty different products to effectively clean your home. This is marketing at its best.
There are a million and one easy and safe cleaning product recipes out there, but to keep a healthy, clean, and minimal home you really only need one or two.
I’m going to share with you the two recipes I have experience using, and then give you some resources to check out others.
Recipe 1: All-purpose cleaner made with half water + half white vinegar + optional essential oil
Fill a bottle (preferably glass, like the glass vinegar bottle I show in my video) halfway with distilled white vinegar.
Fill the rest of the bottle with water (filtered if you have it).
Add 5-10 drops of an essential oil of your choice if you desire. This can mask the vinegar smell a bit.
Add a sprayer to the glass bottle. I used one from an old bottle of cleaning solution I had purchased at the store. It fit the glass vinegar bottle perfectly.
Just spray on any surface and wipe clean with a rag. I would just do some Googling to make sure you can use this on wood surfaces and floors. The recipe might need to be adjusted for that.
Recipe 2: For scrubbing gunk made with baking soda + vinegar
Take a box of baking soda.
Sprinkle some baking soda on the gunky area. (sinks, tubs, grimy refrigerators, etc.)
Pour some distilled white vinegar over the baking soda.
Watch the magic happen and get to work scrubbing with a rag or a scrub brush.
Repeat as necessary!
Some cleaning tools that might be helpful in addition to the cleaning recipes include:
- rag deposit for dirty rags
- scrub brush
- glass spray bottle
- basket or something to keep everything organized
- broom or good vacuum for hard floor
- something for tile floors - Swiffer type thing or just rags will do
If you are looking for more recipes for safe homemade cleaning products, check out these:
1. “Make Your Place - Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills” by Raleigh Briggs
2. YouTube's Alli Cherry also has a great video about natural cleaners.
What are your favorite cleaning products & resources?
The kitchen can be a sanctuary. The kitchen can be a grimy hell hole. Sometimes it's a little bit of both.
I think that to maintain an organized, tidy, healthy, and clean kitchen there are a few things to remember.
You can see how these tips have changed my kitchen for the better, as I show what my kitchen used to look like in my KonMari video here.
1. Clean with non-toxic and safe cleaning products.
The whole point of cleaning is to make it a healthier place to be, right? Why poison yourself with harsh chemicals? I make my own multi-purpose cleaner with a few natural and safe ingredients. I am going to post a video about the recipes I use next week. Stay tuned!
2. Clean often.
This is something that we're working on. Eventually, after decluttering more, I think it will be easier to actually clean surfaces on a more regular basis.
Matt and I have been really good about doing our dishes at the end of the night each night. We do have to get better at cleaning the refrigerator and floors at least once a week.
3. Use glass containers for food storage.
We are trying to figure out the best way to buy bulk items in an attempt to reduce the waste we produce. We have some jars for these items but might need to head over to the thrift store to find some more.
We also like storing our leftovers in glass containers rather than plastic. Plastics leach into our food when the temperature changes. Glass containers also last longer and I think they look nicer.
4. Get rid of items you don't use.
Keeping the amount of things in the kitchen to a minimum is important to me. Our kitchen is pretty small to begin with. We cook a lot so we need all the chopping space we can get.
We have a few items sitting on the dining room table in purgatory, waiting to learn their fate. Will they be sold or donated?
I also wrote a blog post about keeping the kitchen manageable, in terms of dishes and silverware. The idea I discuss has been a game-changer for me.
In my last video about our decluttering progress, you can also see the before and after of the under the sink situation. It’s MUCH better now.
5. Have a designated place for each item.
Giving each item a home in the kitchen makes it that much easier to put it away after using it. It keeps things looking tidy and you always know where everything is!
6. Incorporate plants into the kitchen.
Plants just add some freshness, color, and a sense of calm. The trick is to not go overboard and get so many plants that you can't keep them looking nice. I learned this the hard way.
If you have any kitchen tips to share, I’d love to hear about them!
Here is a quick video about my continuing decluttering progress.
In this video I show what it looked like before I tackled my bathroom cabinets, hallway shelf, and under the sink kitchen cabinets, as well as what it looks like now.
Tip: Baskets are cheap and nice ways to organize items. I got 5 of them at Goodwill for $7. :)
What are your tidying/decluttering tips?
What the heck is meditation anyway?
Wikipedia, our favorite information source, defines meditation as “a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end itself.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself. The only thing I might add to that definition is a warning about how difficult it is.
There are many different kinds of meditation, if you’re interested in learning about each type, I found a great article here that goes into detail.
Here is how I meditate for about 10 minutes each morning after I wake up, drink some water, and feed the animals:
I sit in solitude, legs crossed on the couch. My back is against the cushion. I take a few deep breaths and close my eyes. I place my hands on my legs. I focus on the sensations I feel, the sounds I hear, my breath, and any smells like fresh air coming through the window. I do my best to stay present, allowing the sensations and thoughts and experiences to pass over me, not attaching myself to any of them. When I notice that I am lost in thought I simply bring my attention back to my breath, sensations, and sounds that are arising and fading away.
I do this until my timer goes off. Then I gently open my eyes and take a deep breath and smile. It feels nice.
Something I want to mention is that directly after I meditate I’ll do a couple minutes of journaling and setting my intentions for the day. That’s going to be a separate video/blog post.
So, why would anyone want to sit with their eyes closed trying to think about nothing?
For many reasons! More and more, these reasons are being backed by scientific research.
1. Meditation helps preserve the aging brain
2. It reduces activity in the part of the brain responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts
3. It can work just as well as an antidepressant for depression and anxiety
4. It changes the structure of the brain - thickening the area that is responsible for learning and memory while decreasing the area responsible for anxiety and stress
5. A few days is all you need to feel improved concentration and attention
6. It reduces anxiety and social anxiety
7. It can help with addiction
8. Short meditation breaks can help children in school
Famous People Who Meditate
1. Rivers Cuomo of Weezer
2. Oprah Winfrey
2. Dan Harris of ABC’s Good Morning America and Nightline
3. Russell Simmons, co-founder of hip hop music label Def Jam
4. Rick Ruben, other co-founder of Def Jam and extremely successful and sought after music producer
5. Anderson Cooper, journalist and host of Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN
6. Congressman Tim Ryan
7. Arianna Huffington
How You Can Start Today
To begin, I’d try guided meditation. I alternate between using guided meditation and just setting a timer for myself.
Headspace is a free app that gives you ten 10-minute guided sessions. You can purchase more sessions which get longer and longer if you want. I just reuse the 10 free ones!
Sam Harris who is a neuroscientist and philosopher, has both a short and a long guided meditation you can access on YouTube. I like to use the short one in the morning sometimes.
Even just from doing 10 minutes a day, I feel more calm, focused, centered, present, and grateful than I did before I started meditating.
I am more kind and patient.
I have seen the biggest changes in the way I work with children and in the way I act within my romantic relationship.
I have been meditating for 10 minutes each morning for about 2 years now and can only imagine that the benefits would increase if I meditated for longer each day. Although I think the benefits for me have grown since I’ve been meditating for a couple of years, I definitely felt calmer and more peaceful after my first try.
Don’t get me wrong, meditation is hard! I still struggle and have to bring my attention back to the breath many many times within that 10 minute session. However, it’s totally worth it and I reap so many benefits throughout the day.
I challenge you to try it if you haven’t before. I also challenge you to try it again if you have before but didn't stick with it for whatever reason!
Last week my boyfriend and I had a conversation about our ideal home situations and what we needed to do to make them more of a reality.
If you’re interested in that conversation, you can check it out below:
We both want a clean, simple, organized, and personal home that is as functional as it is cozy.
We both found some photos that represented our ideal homes.
I think we’re lucky to agree on so many aspects of a home.
So the next step was to make a plan.
We decided to start by decluttering the basement and the bedroom.
In the basement we have/had a lot of junk. Some of the junk was there when we moved in like paintings, fishing rods, a weird mattress thing, a desk, a clothes rack, buckets of some junk, another desk, and an air conditioner.
We also have some clothes we forgot about, DVDs, CDs, books books books, and a guinea pig cage no one should use because it’s weird and too small.
On the other hand, we have stuff down there that we actually use. A cat carrier, laundry supplies, tools, extra dishes for when we have company, Matt’s band stuff, and painting supplies.
The main issue with the bedroom was that Matt had a lot of clothes he didn’t wear that he needed to sort through so that he’d have more room to store the clothes he does wear.
The first step in decluttering the basement was to organize the items into piles: trash, donate, sell, keep, not sure yet.
The subsequent steps are to throw away the trash, haul the donate stuff to Goodwill, sell the sell stuff, and find a home for the items we want to keep and decide what to do with the ‘I don’t knows’.
We are in this phase now.
The bedroom however, is in pretty good shape. Matt took the clothes he didn’t want anymore to Goodwill and has organized the clothes he wants to keep. We might need a better solution for his shoes.
Decluttering a home can be a little stressful. It’s sometimes hard to get rid of your own things for sure, but I think it can even tougher to talk about it with your partner and get to a place where both people feel good about the plan. Matt and I are pretty lucky to be on mostly the same page.
The final and never-ending step would be limiting what comes into the home. It’s easy to fall into the habit of buying for reasons that aren’t really good enough if a decluttered home is the goal.
Good enough reasons for me to buy something:
- it’s a necessity
- it’s going to last a really, really long time
- it will bring me joy for a really, really long time
Bad reasons for me to buy something:
- it will give me a rush for the rest of the day or week
- to be cool
I will continue to share as we continue to make progress on our home and work toward our goals.
What is your ideal home situation? What can you do today to start making that a reality? What are you waiting for?
Sometimes we want to do something that involves ourselves and our partners. Sometimes our partners don’t want to do those same things. Sometimes we have to compromise.
Sometimes we think we and our partners don’t want those same things… and then we just talk about it and realize they pretty much do!
Then action can be taken and dreams can come true!
I sat down with my boyfriend and we talked about the state of our home, our ideal living environments, and how to move forward from there.
We each came up with five words to describe our ideal homes and why those specific descriptors are important to us.
They are important to me because when spaces are clean and open and bright and tidy there is a sense of peace, calmness, clarity, and it’s easier for me to focus on a given task.
"These are important to me because home should be all of the above. Otherwise you will go insane."
We realized our ideals are pretty similar. We both want clean, organized spaces.
The differences were that I want a place that’s bright, open, and natural. Matt wants a place that’s calming, personal, and operational.
These characteristics don’t conflict with one another and I think we can make all of them work together.
We then each described our actual home.
- a little cluttered
- can’t keep up
- slightly cluttered
- personally reflective
Again, we had some similarities in our descriptions.
We both agreed our place is kind of cluttered yet comfortable.
I focused on how it is hard to keep up with and disorganized where he focused on more positive aspects like how it’s friendly and reflects us personally.
This lends some insight as to why I usually initiate any house related work or projects.
We both thought about how we could get from our actual home situation to our ideal home situation.
I suggested that we:
- minimize things we don’t use/don’t bring us joy
- find a place to put each item we decide to keep
Matt suggested that we:
- need to get rid of things
Going into this I thought our perspectives and desires were going to be much more different because in the past when I have been excited to work on the house, Matt’s been less excited. What I learned is that we have very similar visions for our home and that it’s a bad idea to assume without talking about it.
In this case, after talking about it was easy to see that Matt feels like the place is more enjoyable as it is than I do, so I don’t blame him for wanting to do something more fun on the weekend than cleaning out the basement or decluttering our closets.
Today we began doing exactly those things and were both happy to do so because of this conversation!
I'd love to hear about your experience working with another person to create the living space you both can enjoy. Please let me know about it in the comments!
1. “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust. He focused his work on logotherapy, which is based on the idea that finding meaning in ones life is the most powerful and motivating force for a human.
He tells us about his time spent in concentration camps and how he was able to survive. He also shares with us the three ways we can find meaning in our lives. He says that, “The quest for meaning is the key to mental health and human flourishing.”
A quote that really resonated with me from this book is, “It is we ourselves who must answer the questions that life asks of us, and to these questions we can respond only by being responsible for our existence.”
After reading this book, it was clearer to me how my mental health and happiness are my complete responsibility and not that of anyone else.
My copy of this book is completely full of notes, dog-eared pages, and underlined passages. If you could only read one book, this might be the one.
2. “Money: Master the Game” by Tony Robbins
I have read only about a fourth of this book so far and I already know so much more about saving for retirement and the best ways to maximize your investments.
For example, I learned the difference between index funds and mutual funds and why one is better than the other.
If you’re like me and never cared to learn about financial matters but are realizing that it’s actually pretty important and can hugely affect your life, this book is awesome.
Who better to learn from than Tony Robbins and the 50 “brilliant financial minds” he has interviewed for this book?
3. Aloe Vera Juice for Oily Hair
I heard that aloe vera gel can take care of excess scalp oil. Of course I wanted to try it. I had some aloe vera juice in the refrigerator that was still good so I poured some into an old rose water spray bottle and sprayed away on a greasy day. It seemed to work without leaving my hair as dry as my homemade dry shampoo leaves it.
I also think aloe vera is better for the scalp and hair itself than the dry shampoo mixture I keep on hand, as it has nutrients for the hair and doesn’t clog hair follicles.
Do your own research, try it out if you want. Let me know if it works for you!
4. Yoga in the Morning:
You know that feeling when you get a good stretch in as soon as you sit up to get out of bed? Doing yoga after I wake up is like 20 minutes of that. It’s so nice. And it’s exercise!
5. Going for a Run in the Evening:
Two to three times a week I’ll go for a run after work, before dinner. This has been a great way to release any pent up energy from the day and get some exercise in!
6. Vanilla Mint Tea (Rishi):
This stuff is so good. It’s a refreshing vanilla tea that is great instead of coffee. The caffeine is milder and the flavor is earthy. Love it in the morning!
I’ve been trying to reduce the waste I produce as a human being. I tend to get a decaf coffee on the weekend, so having a reusable cup I enjoy is the key to “remembering” to take it with me to the cafe. This Keepcup is beautiful and I love that it’s more like a mug than other reusable cups. Feels good, looks good. Thumbs up!
What have you been loving lately?
So I have some updates to share. If you want the short version, watch the video below. If you want to read the details, check out the post below that.
I've been feeling a bit down lately. A bit unmotivated and lazy. I've done a whole lot of work to create more happiness, so it's frustrating when I start to feel blue. And thinking about how frustrating it is only makes it worse, of course.
Last summer I started working on a project. It's something I didn't know a whole lot about how to do, but something I really thought would help me, and therefore other people. It's a daily mindfulness tool and it's almost finished.
It's something I was working on before work, after work, and on my days off. In addition I was working on YouTube and filming videos every week. I love having YouTube as a medium in which I can connect with people who are also interested in minimalism, health, happiness, compassion, and mindfulness. However, I realized that maybe I just need to take my own advice and do what I want to do, rather than what I think I should.
So, of course I want to create helpful videos, but not at the risk of becoming stressed out or putting up junk content for the sake of putting something up. Your subscription feeds deserve better!
My solution is now to film the things I'm excited about, and if that happens less often than once a week, I'm ok with that.
I can spend more time trying to finish my mindfulness project and more time gaining more experiences to share on YouTube.
In the mean time, do you have any questions for me or suggestions for what you'd like to see on the Like Minimal YouTube channel or on this blog? I'd really appreciate any feedback you could give. :) I'm ok with constructive criticism as well!
I'll still be posting on all of my social media outlets, which can be found below.
Thanks for reading, you're the best!
I'd love to hear about if you've ever felt like you needed to take a step back from something good for one reason or another!
This is something that I know is effective for the type of hair I that I have, but don’t know if it will work for every hair type.
I find dry shampoo very useful.
A lot of commercial dry shampoos are filled with nasty chemicals we shouldn’t put on our largest organ, our skin.
We all know that our scalps produce oil and even though that oil is good for our hair, it’s not quite accepted as professional or attractive in our society.
Shampooing strips these oils from our hair and can leave our hair dry and damaged.
Shampooing also leads to wet hair, which needs to be dried, which needs to be styled, which is often accomplished using heat.
I’m trying to use heat as little as possible because I want my hair to become more healthy.
So this is when I reach for dry shampoo.
However, some sources such as MindBodyGreen.com caution that overuse of any dry shampoo (even natural DIY dry shampoos) can actually do more harm than good, clogging the hair follicle and possibly leading to hair loss down the road.
So, they say if you’re going to use dry shampoo, use it sparingly and infrequently and brush it through the hair rather than allowing it to be concentrated on your scalp.
So like always, do your own research and come to your own conclusions, but if you should decide that you’d like to have it on hand for specific situations, here is a nice recipe you can make at home with ingredients you might already have lying around.
- cosmetic clay
- cocoa powder (for darker hair)
- cinnamon (for darker hair)
- essential oil (for scent)
1. Figure out what you’re going to put it in. I like to use an old cinnamon shaker because it makes application super easy and looks nice.
2. Start by mixing some corn starch with some cosmetic clay. If you have light hair, just try to make the color of the shampoo match your hair color by adjusting the proportions of these two ingredients.
3. If you have brown or darker hair, mix in some cinnamon for an auburn color and some cocoa powder for a darker brown. These ingredients also smell delicious.
4. Adjust the proportions until you have a color that best matches your hair color.
5. When you do apply it to your roots, you can brush it through and tussle your hair to spread out the product and blend it in so it doesn’t look like there was a baking accident.
6. If you want to add a scent, pick out your favorite essential oil and add 10 or so drops to the mixture. I like to use peppermint because it works nicely with the cocoa scent and smells fresh.
7. Transfer the mixture to your container and you’re done!
The concoction should last as long as it takes you to use it up!