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Simple Food Recipes To Reduce Plastic Consumption

Sunday, September 16, 2018
As I've been embarking on my own journey to reduce the plastic waste I consume, I've been noticing more and more which food items tend to be harder to find without plastic packaging. Not that it's totally impossible to find them in plastic-alternatives or with no packaging at all, just that these kind of items require going to specific grocery stores or are frequently out of stock, etc. After awhile, okay, maybe a very short while, hunting down the plastic-free options every weekend gets annoying. I want to enjoy my weekend, not spend it running errands! I began to wonder if all this running to and fro this was doing more harm than good (hello vehicle emissions) and if it was even sustainable for me, yet alone for the rest of the people in this world without access to as many stores, all this time, or the money. In fact, this is what got me thinking about how generations prior lived and shopped for food, and then suddenly the answer seemed so obvious. I need to do what our grandmothers did -- make things for myself!

To be frank, making things from scratch isn't something I just started doing, it's simply something I just realized I was already doing accidentally, and something that I started doing more consciously recently. I haven't started making anything elaborate here; just simple swaps for particular foods I found to be hard to find without packaging. In most of these cases, there's the added bonus of consuming less sugar, fewer preservatives and much simpler ingredients as well, so yay us! So without further ado, here's a quick list of "recipes" (some you can barely call that) that will help you save a ton of plastic each week.

homemade cold brew coffee plastic free zero waste easy recipe mesh colander cheesecloth

homemade cold brew coffee plastic free zero waste easy recipe glass pitch minimal cork zero waste

Cold Brew Coffee: Saves 1 non-recyclable plastic coffee stay-fresh bag, 1 coffee filter or 1 plastic-lined cup

We've got a lot of food prep coming up. We better be wide awake and ready to tackle it. Coffee to the rescue! Now of course you can eliminate your plastic waste a lot of different ways when it comes to coffee, and this is just one of them. I like having coffee at home so I don't want to rely on getting coffee with a reusable cup at a coffee shop, and I definitely don't dare drink the office coffee. Instead I just whip up a batch each night when I come home and it's ready to go in the morning!

1 part bulk coffee, coarsely ground (I use about 1/2 cup)
7 parts water (I use about 3 1/2 cups)

1. Add the coffee grounds to the water. Stir to combine.
2. Let sit overnight.
3. Strain coffee into another container. (I use a mesh strainer covered with a cheesecloth, folded over a few times.)


Peanut Butter: Saves 1 plastic jar and 20 minutes of trying to clean the jar before recycling it

Peanuts - can be roasted, raw, salted or unsalted

1. Throw peanuts into a blender or food processor and blend for 10 whole minutes.

homemade bread bake zero waste easy recipe food plastic free crusty loaf french bread quick

Bread: Saves 1 non-recyclable plastic bag, 1 plastic twist tie

I always thought bread sounded hard to make, but turns out it's not hard at all. I've been using a recipe from Life As A Strawberry and it's turned out great each time. Goes great with some peanut butter. ๐Ÿ˜‰

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1. Add yeast, sugar and water to a bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes or until it looks foamy.
2. Add salt to mixture.
3. Add flour, slowly, bit by bit. You're looking for a smooth dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. You may need more flour if it's humid outside. I've had to add extra flour every time I've made this recipe.
4. Flour the dough ball to prevent sticking and place in a floured bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let rise for 1 hour.
5. Dump the dough out onto a flat surface and flour the top. Shape into a round ball. Don't be too rough -- you want to keep the air bubble in tact! Place the dough seam side down into a bowl again and let rise for another 30 minutes.
6. While the dough is proofing, place a dutch oven into the over and preheat to 460 degrees. I use a Le Creuset with a plastic lid handle and so far I've not had any issues.
7. After the proofing is done, place the dough into the hot dutch oven (be careful!), cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. You can place the dough on parchment paper if you want to.
8. Take the lid off and bake for about 10-12 minutes more, until golden brown.

plastic free zero waste oat milk homemade easy recipe vegan

Oat Milk: Saves 1 non-recyclable tetrapak

The previous three food items are not entirely impossible to find without plastic packaging, but this one I've never seen without plastic packaging. Lucky for us, it's also ridiculously simple.

1 cup oats
3 cups water, plus extra for soaking
pinch of sea salt
1 date or 1 tsp honey (optional)
1/8 tsp vanilla (optional)

1. Soak the oats in enough water to cover for at least 30 minutes.
2. Drain the oats and rinse.
3. Add oats, water, salt and optional sweeteners to a blender and blend for 2 minutes.
4. Strain using a cheesecloth, nut bag or really any clean thin fabric, like an old cotton t-shirt.

Bonus: You can use the leftover oat fiber to whip up a couple oat cookies!

Vinaigrette: Saves 1 oily and impossible to clean plastic bottle

Salad dressings are the worst. They cost a lot, they never actually taste very good, and most of them come in plastic bottles. Never again.

1 part vinegar - can be red, white, balsamic, etc
3 parts neutral flavored oil, like olive or grapeseed oil
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

1. Whisk vinegar into oil.
2. Add seasonings.

That's all I've got so far, but I'll certainly be adding to my list of recipes as I make more and more swaps. I hope you've found at least something that tempts you! Thanks for reading!

Designing My Living Room: Modsy Review

Sunday, September 9, 2018
Ever since moving into my house I've been telling myself that I'd do a living room refresh. I get a constant reminder every time I walk into the room and I'm met with a cobbled-together collection of ugly furniture and decor items from garage sales, hand-me-downs and Craigslist, and yet for some reason I still hadn't gotten around to actually doing it. There's design decisions to be made, items to source, old furniture to be sold. It's all just a lot of work that I was happily procrastinating doing, for years on end.

About a month ago I decided it was time. If I had to see my 5 gooseneck light floor lamp with yellowed plastic light shades one more time I was going to lose it. I'm a newly minted 30 year old for god-sake and yet I've been living in a room still furnished with dorm room staples! Time to be a grownup. 

As if Instagram was reading my mind (and it probably was somehow...) I started getting ads for  Modsy, an online interior design service. Something that's tailored to me, but doesn't involve me leaving the house or talking to a human? Sign me up!

So how does it work? Modsy starts by having you take a style quiz, which is actually freely available right here. I did this before I even decided to use the service and I was pretty impressed by how accurate the results were. I definitely wouldn't have come up with the term "Atomic Industrial" on my own, but hey, whatever it is actually represents what I like!

Once you've decided to start a project, you upload your room measurements and at least 8 pictures of the room you want to work on -- one from each corner and edge of the room. Yes, my pictures featured cats in the background staring at me like I was crazy. They ask some questions about your project, like budget, what you're looking to accomplish, and if you want to design around any existing pieces, etc. They then take those photos and create a photo-realistic 3D rendering of your room, have a designer style your room using items from their affiliate retailers so it's all available to buy immediately and with a discount and then send you back two designs! You can see rendered images from every angle and explore the room with a 3D walkthrough. Best part is, you can even make tweaks to those designs yourself by rearranging, adding or removing pieces, or you can request changes from your designer!



When I was first looking into this, I was pretty impressed with the concept but I was certain it would be pricey. A 3D rendering from your photos, two different designs tailored to your style and needs and the ability to play around with that rendering yourself? For the editable 3D rendering alone I would have paid $40, yet alone thinking about how much I'd pay someone to style it! Surprisingly, Modsy is actually really reasonably priced for their base package: $59 dollars for a room. They offer another package, with a dedicated designer and live consultations, which is considerably more expensive at $149 a room. (Prices from here at the time of writing). What tipped me over the edge was that after completing the style quiz which, unsurprisingly, requires you to create a free account before giving you your results, they emailed me a discount code for a summer sale. 20% off! A hair over $46 dollars seems pretty reasonable to me when I'm considering making some major purchases!

For my living room, I submitted the minimum requirement of 8 photos and a picture of a sketch of the layout of my room. I gave them my budget, told them how I use the room and some requirements (pet friendly, practical, ability to seat at least 6 on occasion). I submitted my project on a Thursday and got my designs back exactly two Thursdays later, about 2 hours after they emailed me apologizing for the delay and assuring me I'd have my designs within 24 hours.

Design 1
Design 1
Design 1
Design 1
Design 2
Design 2
Design 2
Design 2

Of the two designs I received, I definitely liked one more than the other. The first design was more neutral and featured a wireframe chair which I absolutely love the look of. The second design had less furniture, which I liked, but was a lot more colorful. I just wasn't as much of a fan of the combinations of color and pattern that they used. Luckily, their 3D editor let me tweak my designs, so I took a little inspiration from design 2's layout and modified somethings in design 1. I definitely got a little absorbed in making my own tweaks -- I experimented with layout changes, removing furniture, adding new furniture, swapping things out. I even set it up so I could see what things would look like if I kept some existing pieces. I couldn't find any of my exact furniture on there since it's all old at this point, but Modsy's library is big enough that I could easily find similar items. You can still tell this company and product is still relatively new because there were times when the tools were a bit glitchy, but usually saving, exiting and reloading fixed the issues. But beware, if you enter the 3D editor world, you'll probably loose at least a few hours of your day toying with all the different possibilities!

Some of my own design tweaks with items similar to my secondhand finds and items I already own
All in all, I thought my Modsy experience was a great one. I thought the project initiation was really simple, and the designs I got back were stylish and met my specifications. The ability to visualize what the ideas I had in the back of my head would look like in real life was worth the cost alone. As part of my efforts to be a little more environmentally friendly I want to try to source things secondhand first, buy from "slow design" artists or even try to build things like bookshelves myself (little does John know yet...), so being able to pop similar items into the 3D editor has made me so much more confident to actually start buying things. I've been scouring local secondhand sites since getting my designs back and I've already found a really nice and really cheap grey modern couch, a piece I'd been dreading buying, and a cool vintage leather wood-frame arm chair for only ten bucks!

For now, my living room is still definitely a work in progress, but thanks to Modsy, it's a project I'm actually excited to be working on! And don't worry, I'll be sure to keep you all updated as everything progresses!

August Highlights

Sunday, September 2, 2018
Happy Labor Day weekend to all my fellow American friends! September's finally here, so it's time for an August wrap-up. I had a bit more downtime this past month compared to my busy July but I still got to do some pretty fun things!

Earth Wind & Fire concert funk big band brass vocal guitar show

Probably the most fun, loud and certainly most-sequined night I had this past month was a Tuesday evening. My dad is a huge Earth, Wind & Fire fan so when they announced a show here, my whole family bought tickets right away. Even though the three remaining members are nearly 70, they still put on a ridiculously energetic, fun, impressive show. In fact, I think their bassist might be my new favorite old man. Go watch some videos of him performing and you won't be disappointed! The new members of the band, including one of the original members' son, were equally talented and even brought a little something new to the band's sound and production value (it's as much a visual show as an audio one with these guys!). We danced, we sang, we mimed playing backup brass -- family full of musicians here, much? -- and we left ready to go crank their albums in the car ride home.

Another definite highlight from the month was both a happy and sad one. My grandma's sister, Bonnie, passed away in May, but her memorial wasn't held until this month. Our family is a little unique because my grandma's sister married my grandpa's brother, so we all share the same extended family. A lot of my family came for the memorial so it was fantastic getting so to see them for the weekend, but it was also really touching and interesting to hear about Bonnie's life when she and my grandma were young girls and as they grew up, married into the same family and started their own families. Be sure to treasure those stories you hear from your parents and grandparents when you can!

tomatoes zucchini cantaloupe veggies vegetables garden organic home grown

cantaloupe growing leaves green garden home grown organic

On a lighter note, another thing I enjoyed this August was all the produce from my garden. It's peak produce time and I love being able to concoct whole meals from things I grew myself with only maybe one or two things I had to get at the store. It makes me feel accomplished, close to nature and appreciative of what a tiny little patch of land can give to us lowly humans. My body certainly loves eating all these veggies too.

paint house home improvement exterior trim renovation upgrade modern cream blue
From navy blue, cream and orangey-red...
paint house home improvement exterior trim renovation upgrade modern grey charcoal
...To light grey, charcoal and a red that's perfectly matched to the brick!
Lastly, the longest running home improvement project is finally done! I started painting my house last year, and I did all that I could on the first two floors, but I just wasn't up for scraping and painting my soffits as well as the attic dormers and trim. A year later the handyman my family has always worked with has finally recovered from the shoulder surgery he had last year and has wrapped up all the painting and repairs here! I finally have trim board that's all one color! I'm sure my neighbors probably appreciate this just as much as I do.

Now it's time for football and volleyball season, apple picking and falling leaves! Enjoy the start of your September everyone! Until next week...

An Autumn Everlane Wishlist

Sunday, August 26, 2018
I am single-handedly willing autumn into existence over here. I've been breaking out my long sleeve t-shirts and dark denim and suffering for it, but I'm sure it'll work eventually, right?! By late August in Nebraska I just have no more sweat to give. I need autumn to come and I need it now!

Not only does autumn bring sweet, sweet relief, it also ushers in the absolute best season for fashion. Warm, earthy colors. Cozy, thick sweaters. Leather jackets, wool coats, and blazers. Boots! Every one of those items are beautiful, and in autumn you get to wear them all at once -- without melting.

fall autumn fashion style shopping wardrobe capsule wishlist plan list

When I started looking at my fall wardrobe options, I realized that I'm actually quite short on autumn pieces. After my adventures with the KonMari method and Project 333 last year I ended up donating a lot of the autumn pieces I had. A lot of those items were almost 10 years old and virtually none of them were what I'd consider suitable basics. They didn't mix very well with my wardrobe because a lot of them were such statement pieces and they just weren't really "me" anymore anyway. Ten years ago is a long time ago, especially when you're talking about fashion choices you made at the beginning of college versus your thirties! So, happily ever after, those pieces all have new homes but not so happily ever after, I'm basically without any autumn pieces, especially basics.

Enter: Everlane. Haven't heard of them yet? Everlane is a clothing company that aims to be as transparent as possible about the factories they work with, the wages they page and cost breakdown of everything they sell. They're also making some pretty great strides in reducing their environmental impact which just melts my heart with happiness. They don't make trendy clothing -- just updated versions of classic pieces in timeless colors. In a way, their dedication to providing quality, classically stylish items you can wear season after season helps you be a little more sustainable with your shopping too.

Oh and also, Meghan Markel is a fan. Need I say more?

(If you're interested in buying from Everlane, if you want to use my referral link I'd greatly appreciate it! It's free to you -- just click here, sign up and make your first purchase. Thank you!)

I've ordered several things from Everlane in the past and I've loved everything so far. I love their crew neck t-shirts, cashmere sweaters and the silk button up and A-line cotton tank dress I recently picked up. Now I'm thinking it's time to fill in some of the holes in my wardrobe with some more Everlane pieces. Here's a rundown of what's sitting in my cart while I make the final decisions:

Everlane The Long-Sleeve Box-Cut Pocket Tee

Everlane The Cotton Boxcut Tee

The Cotton Box Cut TeeThe Long-Sleeve Box-Cut Pocket Tee

I live in jeans and t-shirts. Despite this, I actually only have about five short sleeve t-shirts and a single long sleeve t-shirt, and three of these items are Everlane tees. Their crew tees are well cut, not too tight, super soft and high quality and I'm sure the same will be true of their short sleeve box cut tees so I'll pick one up. My one long sleeve shirt I own is actually this same long sleeve tee and I'd love to grab another but in black.

The Slim Cotton Long-Sleeve Crew

These are obviously very similar to the box cut tees, just slimmer. I love to wear a slimmer tee when I'm wearing straight leg jeans or layering under a blazer so these should be perfect for that. I wore holes through my last plain, slim cotton tee so I know I'll get a lot of use out of these!

Everlane The Cotton Double V Tank

The Cotton Double V Tank

A tank top? In autumn? Again with the layering possibilities. My office trends from boiling hot (thanks computers) to freezing so I like to keep my options open, even as the weather cools outside. I saw Signe over at Use Less Wardrobe wearing this tank and I was immediately sold.

Everlane Classic French Terry Sweatpant Slim Classic French Terry Crew

The Classic French Terry SweatpantThe Slim Classic French Terry Crew

Now for the cozy stuff! I desperately need some loungewear; for the last 10 years I've been wearing old men's large Champion sweatpants that a girl I ran track with in high school borrowed from her boyfriend and then gave me. I'm a 30 year old woman wearing some 16 year old guy's 10 year old pants.... I don't think I need to explain much more here. I can't wait to look like a real life adult when I'm out doing my errands and eating ice cream out of the carton on my couch.

Everlane The Cotton Turtleneck Tee

The Cotton Turtleneck Tee

Last year I really wanted a thin-knit, black turtleneck but for some reason I just never got to it. This year I will right my wrongs!

Everlane Hipster Thong Bikini Underwear Panties

Hipster, Bikini & Thong Underwear

The most glamorous of wishlist items. I need to retire some of my existing underwear (because hole-y underwear just isn't attractive) so I want to try out some of their cuts with their 3 for $27 deal. No frills, normal-colored underwear that isn't made in a super sketchy sweatshop is pretty hard to find so I'm glad they started making underwear!

Everlane The Clean Silk Short-Sleeve Notch Shirt

The Clean Silk Short-Sleeve Square Shirt

Last but not least, an absolutely beautiful silk shirt that in all reality I probably won't get, but damn do I want to. Look at that. Those notches. That color. The cut. It's all so lovely. Dearly Bethany recently did an Everlane try-on video and it just looks soooo gooood. It can stay in my cart just a little longer...

I probably won't get all of these items, but it's sure fun to pretend shop. I'll be sure to let you know how I get on with whatever I do end up buying! Good luck with your own autumn wardrobe shopping!

Book Review: One Small Act Of Kindness - Lucy Dillon

Sunday, August 19, 2018
Hey there you lot! I'm super excited to finally be writing this book review for you guys. As I mentioned in my post about all the books I've been wanting to read lately, I've been a fan of Lucy Dillon's writing for several years now but it seems they've stopped releasing US editions of her latest books. Luckily, I visited London this past spring so I picked up one of the books I hadn't gotten my hands on yet. I would have grabbed all her books if it weren't for my already overstuffed suitcase, but I only had room for one so One Small Act Of Kindness was the lucky winner.

lucy dillon one small act of kindness review book novel chick lit fiction popular read book cuddle snuggle hygge warm white linen grey sheets

We once again return to Dillon's fictitious village of Longhampton (quickly becoming one of my favorite places to live in my mind) where Libby and her husband Jason have recently taken over operations at Jason's family's hotel. His dad recently passed and his mom was struggling to keep the place afloat herself so they moved back from London try breath some new life into the business. Libby is directing a substantial renovation of the hotel and hopes to turn it into a nice boutique experience for all her old friends back in London to come love. Jason is learning a lot about renovations and has taken on the DIY work full-time after having left his lucrative London finance job. Libby and Jason are doing well on the outside, but underneath and definitely not in front of Libby's mother-in-law, they're still working through some marital ripples left in the wake of this giant life change.

Libby doesn't really know many people in Longhampton aside from her husband and mother-in-law. That only changes when she responds to a car accident while out walking her dog (it wouldn't be a Lucy Dillon novel if a dog wasn't involved) and helps an unconscious woman make it safely to the hospital. When Libby visits a few days after the accident, the woman is perfectly fine -- except she has no idea who she is. Despite this, Libby and the mystery woman, who decides to call herself Pippa, form a friendship. When Pippa has nowhere to go home to, at least not that she can remember, she takes up residence at the family hotel until she can regain her memory. Together they navigate the renovation, some marital ups and downs, mother-in-law drama and figuring out just who Pippa is after all.

lucy dillon one small act of kindness review book novel chick lit fiction popular read coffee mug tea cozy hygge hot drink beverage

I absolutely loved this book. It was heartwarming, comfortable, compelling and just the right amount of suspenseful. I even stayed up into the wee hours of the night to tear through the last pages because I so badly wanted to know how it ended, and boy was I not disappointed. It was a satisfying in a girl power meets first kiss with your crush kind of way and there's not much better than that. There were a surprising number of themes throughout this book, especially compared to your average chick lit novel รก la Sophie Kinsella, etc. (Nothing against those books intended! Just drawing a comparison.) Without trying to give anything away, the book hits on marriage and relationships, in-law dynamics, aging, loss, insecurity, and female friendships. Each of the characters had their own list of problems, flaws and strengths, which intertwined nicely to create an interesting web of storylines.

There were only a couple things that I didn't like as much in this book. Sometimes the juxtaposition of Libby's problems, which tended to be rooted more in material insecurities, with Pippa's problems made it hard to really take Libby seriously, but in the end Dillon did a good job of making Libby just likable enough for us to overlook that. The storyline centering on Libby and Jason's marriage too often seems to have relied on miscommunication to drive the plot, which is a pet peeve of mine. Communicate already people! The marriage storyline doesn't really wrap up in a very satisfying way either. It feels a bit rushed and contrived. Then again I wasn't that invested in it to begin with so I didn't feel like I missed much; The better storylines were all the female character subplots anyway.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It's nothing like I expected. For some reason I assumed from the back cover that the mysterious unconscious woman was going to be an elderly woman and from the title that it would have more to do with a chain of charitable events or something -- I was wrong on both counts. I loved what it actually ended up being, characters and story in all and I can't forget the icing on all of Lucy Dillon's cakes: getting to revisit old Longhampton characters, and their dogs, from previous novels. Go find a copy, somehow. You will not be disappointed.


Bullet Journal Update

Sunday, August 12, 2018
Once upon a time, I wrote exclusively about my Bullet Journal on this blog. (No idea what a Bullet Journal is? Read this first.) It was right when I first started Bullet Journaling and I was using it as not only an organizational tool, but also a creative outlet. I had found a safe place to play. A blank slate within the garden walls of structure. My first few notebooks were really colorful places, filled with lots of experimentation and even more washi tape.

That style was perfect for me at that time but as the months rolled on I started feeling more pressure to keep it up (which I wrote about it some here). When I started a new notebook in 2017, I took a completely different approach. I went minimal. And it's stuck! A year and a half later, I'm still rocking the exact same notebook, pen, ruler, and basic layouts. Since it's been quite awhile since I've shared some Bullet Journal goodness, let's do that today!

bullet journal bujo planner planning schedule calendar dotted notebook weekly minimal minimalist black and white staedtler triplus fineliner pen gold jewelry box earrings necklace

First off, my weekly. I ditched dailies almost right away in favor of a single weekly spread. I found the month view to be too broad of a picture when I just wanted to know what I was up to next Thursday or jot down a task for tomorrow. Nowadays I have a super simple weekly layout. Four lines per page, two pages for each week. I use the extra area for general notes and tasks for the week that aren't assigned to specific days. I always write the dates of the week on the top of each page, using the same style and in the same place. This layout has drastically simplified my weekly setup and it's super functional to boot.

bullet journal bujo planner planning schedule calendar dotted notebook minimal minimalist black and white staedtler triplus fineliner pen gold jewelry box earrings necklace ruler monthly overview calendar budget money plan log

bullet journal bujo planner planning schedule calendar dotted notebook minimal minimalist black and white staedtler triplus fineliner pen gold jewelry box earrings necklace gratitude thankful log mindful positive good thoughts happy happiness

bullet journal bujo planner planning schedule calendar dotted notebook minimal minimalist black and white staedtler triplus fineliner pen gold jewelry box earrings necklace habit tracker goals focus tasks to do list

My monthly pages are equally as simple. Each month I include a monthly overview page with one line for each day, a page for budgeting out each paycheck, a gratitude log with a single line for each day and a page to write a few goals for the month. The focus/goals page is pretty flexible, but I usually write out what I want to post here each week and sometimes I'll include a few habit trackers. This month my focus is on relaxation and self care after a really busy July and I don't even think I'll include any trackers and that's totally fine! You can see what my small habit trackers look like on last month's pages. Super minimal and really easy to fill out -- just a "--" for completed or an "X" not completed.

bullet journal bujo planner planning schedule calendar dotted notebook minimal minimalist black and white staedtler triplus fineliner pen gold jewelry box earrings necklace yearly annual calendar index events mini

bullet journal bujo planner planning schedule calendar dotted notebook minimal minimalist black and white staedtler triplus fineliner pen gold jewelry box earrings necklace collection reading log list books authors read

My annual setup has been pretty much the same since I started Bullet Journaling however. I always draw a little calendar, the month name and then leave space for birthdays and anniversaries before any tasks or events. It's been working really well so there's no need to switch it up! I also include a few of the same pages each year like a reading log, some wardrobe planning/review notes and some financial goal pages. This year I have been trying to focus on only creating pages when I need them, so the number of pages I create a the front of my Bullet Journal each year has definitely shrunk. Next year I'll probably even cut out a few more, so it's definitely a fluctuating and adaptable process.

bullet journal bujo planner planning schedule calendar dotted notebook minimal minimalist black and white staedtler triplus fineliner pen gold jewelry box earrings necklace collection garden log tracking list vegetable fruit

bullet journal bujo planner planning schedule calendar dotted notebook minimal minimalist black and white staedtler triplus fineliner pen gold jewelry box earrings necklace strategy organize

Collections in my old Bullet Journals tended to be really elaborate and decorated. There was a lot of time spent planning the layout, and then I'd often times just never get around to it because I didn't have any new layout ideas. But what's a Bullet Journal if it's not useful? I gave up on all the layouts and now I just use the exact layout for each collection -- the collection name written at the top of the page in the same style I write every page header. Simple as.

And just because you're so great for making it all the way down here, I'll leave you with my favorite Bullet Journal hack so far. If you're worried about running out of pages, or ending up with too many extra pages after the year is up, take a few minutes at the beginning of the year to divide up your notebook by month. I write the page numbers that each month can comfortably take up in the back of my notebook so I always have it handy. It eases my mind when I have a ton of collections I'm adding and I want to make sure I won't run out of space later!

That's a wrap on my Bullet Journal update. I've really found my grove with my notebook. I love how simple it looks and how stress-free it feels. I hope you guys enjoyed taking a peek! Let me know if you have any questions!

On Turning 30

Sunday, August 5, 2018
thirty birthday new decade celebration party age grey sweater white wall bangs girl woman

It finally happened. This last week I left my twenties behind and traded them in for a fresh new decade -- my thirties.

I started out my twenties in the UK, living on my own for the first time. At the time, I was used to living on campus only a few feet from the building most of my classes were held in, and working just across the street from that. When I studied abroad, not only was I learning about Victorian-era British novels (my concentration) in the very city most of them were written in, but I was also learning basics like doing my own grocery shopping and cooking, traveling alone, navigating public transport and remembering to request vote-by-mail ballots. Looking back now, I was basically a child pretending to be an adult in a brand new country.

When I returned to the US, I finished school, I got accepted into grad school, didn't go and took my first adult job instead. I broke up with my first boyfriend. I moved into an apartment by myself. I bought a car. I spent almost every summer evening with my best friend lounging in the sun at my apartment pool until sundown and then making something unhealthy, cheap and easy for dinner around nine and maybe doing a chore or two. Every weekend all my friends flocked to the downtown bars. We were such staples that bartenders started making our usuals when they saw us walking down the street, heading toward their bar. It was a fun, carefree, probably irresponsible time and we all had a blast.

I got a little older and instead of hitting the bars every weekend, we started opting for dinners at restaurants instead. We were growing into our foodie ways of today I guess. Almost accidentally I bought a house and suddenly had to start thinking about things like interest rates and liability. My 250k+ mile 1995 Honda Civic got traded in for a car that wasn't covered in rust, missing rear-view mirrors and rocking half-broken stereo speakers. I started a small garden. I got promotions at work and started making some decent money. Another serious relationship came and eventually went, but left me actually thinking about things like marriage and kids as I never had before.

Now we're all settling down. Friends have gone on to get advanced degrees, get married, get divorced, suffer loses, talk about having kids, buy houses and start retirement accounts. We consider ourselves party animals when we make it to midnight whenever we get together. Gone are the nights spent seeking out the high energy parties, and instead we gather at our homes and share homemade meals and a few drinks.

thirty birthday new decade celebration party age mountain yosemite couple hike outdoor

I know we've been indoctrinated to believe that our twenties are our best years and we should be sad to leave them behind, but I'm not at all. I had a great time in my twenties and I wouldn't trade it for anything, but this sense of self I have now makes me very excited for the future. A sense of calm seems to have swept over all of us. Our friendships are firmly rooted, we know who we are and what we want and we're okay being frank about it.

Obviously big changes are already in store for me in my thirties since I'm getting married next year, but after that I really don't know what life will bring. I'm undecided on having kids, I don't plan on making any big career changes anytime soon and I'm already living in the house I can see us happy in for several years to come. All I know is that I want is to continue to travel and see new places, read as much as I can, make a home that feels like my own and enjoy simple but fulfilling time with my friends and family. I hope I'll continue to be as lucky in this next decade as I have been in this past decade and that I'll carry on growing this strong sense of self I'm starting to enjoy now.

Bring it on thirties.

July Highlights

Sunday, July 29, 2018
The end of my birthday month is almost here and the theme of the month has definitely been celebration! My birthday, my sister's birthday and two great friends' birthdays all happen this month, not to mention the pseudo-birthday (I guess?) of the whole dang country. Between all those milestones and a few other annual get-togethers, I've seen a whole lot of my friends and family -- enough to make it feel like winter holiday season in the middle of July. Let's start from the very beginning...

fourth of july independence day grilling vegetable kebobs tadiq jujeh kabab marinated tofu chicken veggie

First up, 4th of July festivities. Usually I spend this holiday with friends, but in some weirdly unspoken coincidence, we all opted to spend the day with our families instead. This year John, my sister, my brother-in-law and I headed to my parents house just outside of the city. We made tadig and jujeh kabab (tofu for us, chicken for everyone else), tons of grilled vegetables, zucchini brownies (I can't stop making them after talking about them here), and homemade peach ice cream. We capped the night off by watching fireworks from the top of a hill overlooking the entire city skyline. It was a very relaxing and restorative mid-week break.

children zoo lincoln tortoise brass brews at the zoo sculpture fun

Next we headed to the annual Brew at the Zoo event the local children's zoo hosts. My friends and I have been going for the last 4 years and it's always a fun time. We see animals, we try to avoid the inevitably less-than-good local cover band that plays and somehow one of us always ends up inside the brass tortoise. We extended the festivities this year beyond the 11pm event end time -- which is miraculous for us old people -- and ended up at a very small-town-aesthetic dive bar with incredibly cheap beers and some woman named Misty's (wearing a party hat, naturally) 50th birthday celebration. We took over the TouchTunes, forced everyone to listen to some 90s hiphop and then headed to the 24 hour Hi-way Diner next door to relive our high school hangout days. After some grilled cheese and fries and a very tipsy Uber home, we all vowed to never drink again.

Cut to the next day, John and I headed to Omaha for another annual 4th of July party that some college friends always throw. This year they're pregnant so it morphed into a diaper keg. I managed to stomach exactly one beer from one of my best friends that was back visiting from Wisconsin and brought some local brews with her. It was great to see people I hadn't seen in about a year, and even better to see my friend that was visiting. My stomach also thanked me for remaining sober at a party that's notoriously been a little rambunctious.

birthday celebration party food grill vegetables veggie kabob burger feast picnic outdoor deck

cucumber garden lemonade vodka drink juice dispenser jug summer alcohol

peaches grilled case baskeball pump birthday table celebration
A totally normal birthday party scene, right?
zucchini brownie cake frosting sprinkles jimmies birthday celebration

The next weekend began some joint birthday festivities. My long-time friend turned 30 two days before, my birthday was up next and then two more of us are turning 30 in August as well. When we all get together it's guaranteed there will be more food and drink than one group needs. This time we had homemade veggie burgers, burgers for the meat eaters, grilled veggies and and peaches, chips, guacamole, cheese, cherries, more zucchini brownies (I told you I had a problem) and a whole lot of homemade cucumber vodka lemonade. Even after stuffing ourselves with food we still managed to play badminton in the backyard and then walk to a nearby park and play Horse like we were 12 again. I am not good at basketball. One of my friends played on 7 teams in one season when we were kids. Spoiler alert: I lost.

joslyn art museum omaha deco building marble 1930s

modern love omaha restaurant menu vegan vegetarian food

modern love bowl mac and shews vegan empty omaha
Ate my mac and shews so fast I forgot to even take a picture
saddle creek breakfast club omaha brunch vegan banana bread french toast preserves syrup fruit strawberry

This weekend there have been even more birthday celebrations. I had dinner with my family to celebrate mine and my sister's birthdays. It was a low-key affair, but as always when I hang out at my parents' house, there was a ton of great homemade food. The next day John treated me to a little staycation in Omaha for my birthday. We visited the Joslyn Art Museum in the morning, grabbed bubble tea and wandered the shops at Midtown (Hutch was adorable) and then grabbed donuts at Bob's before I headed to a bridal shower at Corkscrew Wine & Cheese for a bit. After I was done stuffing my face with truffle oil popcorn, we checked into Hotel Deco for the night, rested up some and then had an amazing dinner at Modern Love. John had some mushroom stroganoff while I had the mac & shews and a blueberry basil sangria. We finished it off with some lemon strawberry shortcake with coconut whipped topping. 100% will be returning again, probably many, many times! The next morning we started off the day at Saddle Creek Breakfast Club where we had some amazing banana bread french toast, tofu and jackfruit rancheros and hashbrowns. The rest of the afternoon was chocked full of shopping -- basically moving our way from downtown Omaha back towards Lincoln with lots of stops along the way. We're finally home now and boy does it feel great to sit down.

All these celebrations have been great, but they've also left me a little short on me-time. One thing I've done this month to try to claim back a little time is to ditch the snooze button in the morning and replace those 15 minutes of half-sleep with some light morning yoga and meditation. It's made it a thousand times easier to get up in the morning and I actually feel like my morning routine isn't all about rushing out the door, but rather starting my day off in a centered and calm manner. We've even started making oatmeal each morning and sitting out on the front porch while we eat. Such a relaxing way to start each day!

After this busy, busy (but still very enjoyable) month I'm looking forward to a slower, lazier August. I hope everyone had a great month as well!

A Birthday Wish List

Sunday, July 22, 2018
May have put this balloon up a full 2 weeks before my birthday...
In a few days time, I'll be turning 30. The big three oh. Old. I've got some thoughts on leaving my twenties behind which I might share with you lot in another post, but generally I'm feeling really excited to enter this new decade of life. Of course there's also the fun part of birthdays -- presents! We're not a huge birthday present family, but I'll often get one or two things, at least from my boyfriend and my sister so I'm always trying to keep a few things in mind for when they ask me what I want. Here you go guys -- a handy-dandy post, just for your convenience! *waves*

I work above a coffee shop, and across the street from two others. I make my own coffee at home most every day of the week, but on days I forgot, I really do not want to be caught without a reusable option. I would love to add one of these to my reusable kit. The fact that you can customize them however you'd like is just a bit of bonus fun. I'd choose the glass body with an all white lid and a cork band.

Summery workout clothes

I'm in desperate need of summer workout gear and 3/4 leggings just don't cut it when it's 95+ degrees outside. I need shorts. So. Badly. And tanks and light t-shirts galore. These Rec Shorts from Outdoor Voices in black are definitely up my alley. I am also willing to give the Warmup Shorts a go, or the Run Short from Girlfriend Collective. For tops, I'm apparently a huge Outdoor Voices fangirl -- the Tie Tank and the Tie Tee, the Cool Runnin's tank and the Doing Things tank are all calling my name.

Bike things
We're all in on this bike thing at this point -- we've been riding at least once a week and really enjoying it as both a form of transportation and a workout. Until now we've been borrowing maintenance stuff like tire pumps, extra tubes, a multi-tool, and chain oil (thanks Dad) but it's time we got our own. Water bottle holders, a small pack and a phone mount would also lighten the load that I force John to carry around in a backpack right now. There are so many different bike accessories we could acquire over time, but it'll be great to get a start on the basics!

I always love getting a good book. I still haven't read one of Lucy Dillion book's, All I Ever Wanted and I'd love to crack into it.  I've also been hearing great things about Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton. Cookbooks are always nice, especially since I'm essentially relearning how to cook now that we've gone vegetarian. Isa Does It, Oh She Glows Every Day, BOSH!, or Chloe Flavor would all be more than welcome!

Of course I don't expect to get all of this, or even really any of it at all, but hey, you've gotta be prepared in case people ask, right?

Plastic Free July, Low Impact Living and Who to Follow

Sunday, July 15, 2018
We're already halfway through July. Ridiculous. How? When? I only have 16 days left of my 20s?!? I really don't understand how time works anymore.

July doesn't just mean birthday month for me -- it's also is Plastic Free July. What's Plastic Free July you ask? It's an awareness campaign that challenges participants to refuse single-use plastics for the entire month of July. The idea started in 2011 in Perth, Australia but there are now over 2 million participants from all over the world! The aim of the challenge is to call attention to just how much plastic we consume in our day to day lives, promote behavioral changes that reduces plastic consumption and support people as they live a lower impact life.

zero waste plastic free july reusable eco friendly mason jar tote bag produce glass pantry bulk shopping

I'm sure you've noticed lately that I've been discussing topics that are at least tangentially related to the environment more and more frequently. 2018 has truly been eye opening for me regarding the state of our planet. We've made more plastic in the last 10 years than we have in the entire previous century and we're exponentially increasing our consumption every year. Already, more than one million plastic bags are used a minute across the world, totaling more than 500 billion each year. Only about 5% of plastic ends up getting recycled, so much of the plastic used ends up in landfills or in our oceans. In fact, over 1 million sea birds and 500,000 mammals die every year due to the plastic that ends up in our oceans. Often they're dying due to starvation after mistaking plastic for food, filling up their stomachs and never being able to pass the plastic out. And sadly, every single piece of plastic we've made ever still exists today and will continue to exist for about another 500-1000 years. (Source)

I know that was a lot of disheartening information to read and it might have even made you angry, either with me for shoving it in your face or with the world for letting our planet get into such a sorry state. Whatever emotions you might have felt, I'd like you to consider harnessing them into some kind of action. If your instinct was disbelief, thinking that those facts couldn't possibly be true, line up a documentary watch party. If your heart went out to all the animals that starve due to plastic, go out and do a little trash pickup in your area. If you were floored by the number of bags we're using a second, go prep yourself a little plastic-free shopping kit. Any approach you can think of will literally make this world a better place than it currently is.

zero waste plastic free july reusable eco friendly mason jar tote bag produce glass
My plastic-free shopping kit: reusable tote and produce bags, mason jar for wet bulk items and small jar for bulk spices
If you're ready for a few simple changes to help you reduce your plastic usage very easily, here are some of my favorite ideas:

1) You're probably already using reusable shopping totes thanks to the discount for bringing them in many stores or even the up-charge or complete ban in others. Go a step further and swap the plastic produce bags for some reusable cloth bags like these.

2) Next time you need to stock up for self-care Sunday, ditch your plastic shampoos, conditioners and soaps and grab some plastic-free packaged bar soaps instead. They last so long, work just as well and you now officially have a reason to go make a Lush haul.

3) Create and bring your own plastic-free supply kit with you wherever you go. A reusable water bottle, cutlery, a container for leftovers from restaurants, and maybe even a reusable coffee cup if you're a coffee addict like me should help you reduce a lot of incidental plastic in your day to day life.

4) A lot of plastic comes from food packaging. Shop the bulk section, which so many regular grocery stores have these days. In my area, Fresh Thyme and Super Saver (locally-owned chain) both have really great selection and cheap prices. If you need something from the deli you can ask them to put whatever you're buying into your own container. Finally, try to buy loose produce instead of plastic wrapped produce.

5) Make what you can. You don't need to go all in right away, but figure out what you use a lot of that you can't find without plastic packaging and scour the internet for DIY varieties. There are so many easy recipes out there for anything from bread to nut milks to face masks and making them can be a really fun alternative to sitting in front of the TV for yet another night. I love making my own cold brew coffee from locally-roasted whole beans that I buy loose from a local coffee shop, strained with a cheesecloth (which is also great for making nut milks). Lip scrubs are also super easy to make using honey and sugar.

zero waste plastic free july reusable eco friendly mason jar tote bag produce glass coffee cold brew cheesecloth filter free
Making my daily cold brew coffee with cheesecloth and a mesh strainer
Maybe you're hooked and ready to dive into this plastic-free life, or at least to keep learning about it? Time to get your follow button finger ready! These are some of my favorite Plastic Free July, low impact living or even full on Zero Waste people and resources: - TONS of other great links here
Vermicomposting post
Flirting with veganism post

And finally, if all else fails, please recycle! No one is a perfect, plastic-free human. In reality, just focusing on reduction is probably more realistic than complete elimination, especially at first. So while you're still a plastic consumer, let's move the needle on that 5% recycling rate. At the very least you're helping prevent more plastic from being made.

What changes are you going to tackle first to reduce your plastic consumption?