Slow Living Activities For Winter

Monday, January 22, 2018

I truly believe that with each season we are meant to mimic nature. In winter, the earth is sleeping. The bears, the trees, the ground. Everything takes a few months rest, so they are able to flourish come spring and summer. Winter is a time for hibernation and stillness. I'm learning to love winter and the slow that it brings. I've put together a few of my favorite activities to do during the winter. All of these go great with a hot drink and someone you love.

1. Knit a scarf
Did you know that the act of knitting can create the same sense of calm as yoga? I can never sit through a TV show or movie without some sort of distraction, and I'm trying to cut out the habit of scrolling on my phone. Knitting is the perfect thing to keep my hands busy during a good movie or show. And apparently a scarf you knitted yourself is extra hygge points, so we better get to knitting!

2. Do a puzzle
Puzzles are so fun and relaxing to sit and do with a hot drink whether you're by yourself or with friends or family. Puzzles can be found pretty cheap at thrift stores. I typically look for cute country scenes or any White Mountain Puzzles!

3. Bake a loaf of homemade bread
Nothing is better than a homemade loaf of bread with few ingredients. I'd almost risk a (very clear gluten intolerance) migraine just for a piece of fresh baked bread right now. The process of measuring the ingredients, letting it rise multiple times, and baking it in the oven holds a great amount of satisfaction. Not to mention that at the end of all that work, you're left with something delicious to eat with dinner.

4. Go on a walk to feed the birds
If you live near a metropark or hiking trails, take advantage of this- even in the winter! On a day that isn't too cold, but still snowy, bundle up and stick some bird seed in your pocket. In the parks that I live near, the chickadees will eat out of your hand and it's the most amazing experience! Even if there are no birds to feed near you, getting out in nature will be beneficial and will make the hot cup of tea beckoning you home even more enjoyable.

5. Read a good book
Nows the time to get cracking on that reading list we're all "too busy for" the rest of the year. Head to the library and make an adventure of it.

6. Do a puzzle book
Books full of Sudoku, word searches, and crossword puzzles can easily be found at the dollar store and are so fun to do. I love doing a few Sudoku puzzles at night to unwind. It's better for your brain than mindless social media scrolling, but still a fun way to take your mind off any stress or worries.

7. Watch a movie with a homemade snack
Okay, so maybe watching a movie doesn't necessarily count as a slow living activity. I know some people tend to put TV and movies into the "mindless distraction" category. And I think to a degree this may be true. But I appreciate a good film from time to time. When you watch the right movie, a good movie, a movie that makes you feel something, it will leave you thinking about it for days. At least for me it does, and I think that's proof enough that film can be a form of art. (I mean maybe I'm just trying to justify my TV addiction here but who knows 😂) Making your favorite homemade snack and enjoying it in front of a movie is a nice treat.

What are some of your favorite things to do once the months get cold? I pray you are able to find some rest and stillness this winter, so come spring, you are ready to bloom.

With care,

Simplicity of the Mind

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

I have been doing pretty well simplifying the physical aspects of my life. I've gotten rid of a ton of clothes, simplified my beauty routine, and things that I own. I thought I was doing pretty well. But for some reason I still felt surrounded by clutter. I was desperate for more to get rid of but no matter how many shirts I stacked in my give-away pile, it wasn't satisfying that itch. That's when I realized, I'm simplifying my home, but not my mind.

2017 was huge in my simplifying journey in a physical sense. That is why a lot of my new years intentions for 2018 were centered around simplifying mentally and internally more so than externally. Both are equally important, because they piggy back off of each other, but the mental simplification is where I'm at in my journey and what I'm needing most right now. Maybe you are feeling the same way.

Here are a few things that are helping me simplify mentally. By implementing these small changes, I have more room to breathe and simply just live life fully without feeling pulled in a million directions.

1. Letting things go
I'm am that person that cannot, CANNOT, sleep until everything is done. I'm have to have a clean room, close my closet door, and make my bed before I get into it to go to sleep. I do like being this way for the most part because I enjoy having a fresh start to my day each morning. But there is a line and I need to be able to determine whether I need to tone it down a little. If I had a really long day and I'm super exhausted, I need to choose to go to sleep even if there are dishes in the sink and clothes on the floor. And not lay there thinking about the dishes or the clothes!

I have a hard time turning my brain off at night and not thinking of the thousands of things I need to do the next day. I have to stop feeling guilty if I don't finish every single thing on my to-do list. It feels great when I do, but I am not a failure if I don't. That's life. Things happen. Sometimes you take a nap instead of writing a paper. It's okay because that's just life.

2. Less to-do lists
You know it's bad when you're about to shower so you write "shower" on your to-do list just so you can cross if off when it's done. The satisfaction is addicting. Now I'm not saying I'm getting rid of to-do lists completely. Me without lists is like donuts without sprinkles, spring without flowers, instagram moms without their shaker peg boards. You get my point! But I'm using less and making them less of a big deal.

In the past, I would never be able to get through my day without a list. But now, I almost feel as though I'm more productive when I just write a short general list of things I need to get done in the day, instead of writing every little detail. This for one, leaves me more leeway for changes in my schedule and also avoids the "oh no I didn't finish my to-do list" feeling. I'm still experimenting with this and finding what works, but I know something needs to change.

3. Unwinding at night
Like I said above, I have trouble turning my brain off at night. I recently saw something on Pinterest about what Meyer-Briggs Personalities think about before they fall asleep. I'm an INFJ and mine said "anxiety about the future and the inevitability that they will grow old and become corrupt, another cog in the capitalist machine. How many will be consumed in this entirely hypothetical hedonistic warpath?? The INFJ does not sleep" and I am LAUGHING because that's me! Why I feel I need to plan my entire life out before I go to sleep, I don't know. But it gets annoying. Something I'm doing to help is really taking time to unwind at night and think about other things. I will turn my phone off AT LEAST an hour before I go to bed. I take time to write about whatever is going on in my head into my journal. And when I close that journal, I forget about it. Tomorrows tasks, today's stress. It's out of my mind. Then I pick up a book and lose myself in that world for a bit before I go to sleep. This way I can go to sleep thinking about happy things like Cole Sprouse instead of whatever stress the next day may bring.

4. Starting my day right
I've had a general morning routine down pat for about a year now but having a routine means nothing if it's not the right one or put together in a way that suits your needs. These past couple weeks I've been really trying to nail down a good morning routine that works for me and makes me feel good because I've realized that what I've been doing doesn't work. My mornings look a lot different than most people because of life with Theodore. And I know that may sound a bit dramatic because it's just a bunny right? But I have to be on full mom-mode whenever he is out running around, ready to spring up and chase him away from whatever he's not supposed to be doing, you know, bunny mom things.

Ever since I adopted him, the first thing I would do in the morning would be let him out of his crate because I want him to have as much exercise as possible. But lately it just hit me that this doesn't work. I can't start my day peacefully with a cup of coffee and Jesus if I have to be interrupted by chewing a million times. So, I've started waking up an hour earlier and taking that hour to myself, before I let Theo out. And I'm trying my best not to feel (bunny) mom guilt when I walk past his crate at 6 am to get my coffee instead of letting him out. Nothing has changed for Theo, he still gets the same amount of time out each day, and a more strict routine is better for bunnies anyways. So I think this is good for both of us.

Taking that hour in the morning before the craziness begins has helped so much and makes me feel like a normal person. I never want to take having Theo in my life for granted, and this little change has helped me be more grateful for the mornings I have with him because I feel refreshed and ready for my day when he comes out.

As you can see, these are small changes that are making a huge difference in my life and my mind. Although having a simple physical space does make a huge difference mentally, sometimes there's still some changes that have to be made in your routines and rhythms. This is why I tend to prefer the words "simple living" rather than "minimalist" because it reminds me that simplicity must be infused in every aspect of my life, not just my home.

What are a few things you have found that brings simplicity and peace to your mind? I'd love to know!

With love,

5 Things You Can Do To Live More Sustainably

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

*This post contains affiliate links but as always, all opinions are my own. I will only ever share brands that I truly love, use in my daily life, and have seen benefits from. Thank you for your support! 

Hi friends! I know a lot of you are also starting out on the journey of leaving a softer footprint on this earth, so I wanted to share a few things you can do to live more sustainably. Some of these things I have been doing for a while, others I have just recently started. Like many lifestyle changes, creating less waste is not an overnight process. It takes time to form new habits and rhythms in the home. Wherever you are in this journey, hopefully these tips can be of help to you.

Of course the ultimate goal is to strive to live "zero waste" but if we're being realistic, many of us don't have the time or resources to live that intense of a lifestyle. Zero-wasters will say that "it's really not that hard!" but I'm not going to act like living in the exact opposite way of the world isn't a struggle and something that takes a lot of time and dedication. Maybe you feel differently, but right now, for me to give myself the strict goal of "zero waste", I feel as though I'm setting myself up for disappointment and guilt. What I am focusing on right now is making small changes that will add up overtime, and eventually I may be able to say "hey, I'm a lot closer to zero waste than I thought"

My family has always recycled for as long as I can remember. All of our bottles, cans, cardboard, etc. And I never really thought of any of that being waste because it was being recycled. But I recently read how a lot of recycling companies lie and in reality, over 90% of materials we put out for recycling, never actually get recycled. That really opened my eyes to the fact that just recycling isn't enough and I need to actually cut down on the amount of packaging and waste I produce. Of course I will continue to recycle cardboards and cans and any plastic possible, but the ultimate goal is to not even have anything to recycle.

Unfortunately we are living in a world where the healthier and more sustainable options are often more expensive. Our health is an investment, so although buying unwrapped vegetables at the grocery store may cost you a few extra bucks, it is well worth it. Your health and this earth will thank you.

1. Compost
Composting cuts down on a lot of waste because it creates a place and a use for all your food scraps. Keep a cute bucket or tin by your sink and collect everything from banana peels to lemon rinds and empty it twice a day into your compost. You can invest in a compost bin or even just begin a pile behind your garage.

If you live in an apartment or someplace where composting in your own backyard is not possible, check to see if your city has a place for compost. If they do, collect your food scraps in a container with a lid and drop them off at the local compost weekly or bi-weekly.

Learn more about composting here.

2. Buy fresh and in bulk
Processed foods are most likely a main form of waste in every home. If you think about it, there's hardly anything that can be purchased waste free. They've even come up with ways to shrink wrap veggies and now they have those annoying little plastic wraps on the top of bananas (I swear they started doing that just to spite zero waste people).

I definitely have my fair share of processed foods (albeit organic and vegan, but still.) It's important for me to have certain things around that are easy and ready to throw in the oven for days that I'm too busy or I'm too far gone down the path of "hangry" to be able to cook anything. Creating less waste means trying my best to cut out most processed and pre-packaged foods. This may require a little bit more planning and meal prep, but it will be well worth it as my health and the environment will benefit.

If you live near a Whole Foods, Earth Fare, or any other health food store with access to bulk, now is the time to start taking advantage of that. Things like nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, etc that most people buy in plastic bags can easily be bought from the bulk section instead and are often cheaper. Using mason jars and bulk bags to shop in the bulk section also saves plastic and paper bags.

Instead of buying packaged produce like Trader Joe's tends to have, opt for unwrapped veggies like heads of lettuce instead of bags, single potatoes, etc. Things like that tend to be fresher anyways. Invest in reusable produce bags instead of using the plastic ones available.

As a part of my simplistic lifestyle, I eat a plant-based diet, meaning I don't consume meat, dairy, or eggs- all things that come in plastic and excessive packaging. Most everything I need for my meals can be found in the produce or bulk sections of the store. (Refusing to support animal agriculture also softens my footprint as I save 1100 gallons of water, 30 square feet of forest, 40 pounds of grain, 20 pounds of co2, and 1 animal life each day.)

Choosing fresh, unpackaged, and organic fruits, veggies, and bulk items will benefit the environment and your health in a big way.

3. Cook at home, make your own
Cooking and eating at home not only reduces waste but is also easier on your wallet and your health. By cooking at home, you're able to choose and know exactly how your food is made and what is in it. Many things that we are sold at the stores can easily be made ourselves, much cheaper.

For example, things like nut butters can easily be made at home. Purchasing nuts in the bulk section, blending them at home, and storing the butter in a glass jar is so easy and way fresher! Choose to bake homemade bread with few ingredients instead of buying plastic wrapped bread full of chemicals at the store. Once you go fresh, you'll never be able to go back.

We live in a generation of convenience and we are conditioned to believe cake comes from a box, bread comes in a bag, and soup comes in a can. Learning the simple pleasures of making things homemade, natural, and organic will change your life. Cooking meals at home with the bulk and waste-free items you purchase at the store and using washable cooking utensils creates a waste free meal that you can feel good about.

4. BYO
Invest in some reusable produce bags, grocery bags, bulk bags, mason jars, glass water bottles, a stainless steel coffee cup, and wooden utensils and keep them in your car or your purse so you can bring them everywhere.

Reusable produce bags and grocery bags eliminate a lot of waste and plastic during your grocery shopping trips. If you are out an about getting a drink, having your mason jars and reusable coffee cup on hand will eliminate the waste of plastic cups, lids, and straws. Having reusable utensils in your purse is handy and will take away the worry of having to use plastic utensils if you do end up eating out somewhere.

A few of my favorite zero waste products are:
Mason jars
Organic bulk bags
Produce bags
Glass water bottle
Coffe mug
Bamboo silverwear
Canvas grocery bags

5. Simplify your bath and beauty routine
Simplifying my bath and beauty routine is one of the best things I have done in my pursuit of a simpler life. I no longer use toxin filled, scented bath and body works lotion, instead I make my own. I no longer buy toothpaste in plastic tubes, I make my own. I no longer paint my nails or wash my hair as often, and I make everything I can myself. Not only has this improved my health, but it leaves me more space and time to focus on more important things. I am 90% zero-waste when it comes to my bath and beauty products and 100% chemical-free.

If you haven't already, I highly recommend beginning the switch to all natural, homemade products. Many organic and all natural brands care about sustainability and environmentally friendly packaging way more than the big name, chemical filled brands. Making your own products creates less waste, costs less, and is so much better for your health. You can find all of my bath and beauty recipes here and a list of all my bath and beauty products here. In my opinion, this is the best area to start making changes in, especially if changing your food and shopping habits seems daunting right now.

I hope that these five tips inspire you and give you a good starting place if you too, feel called to living more sustainably. Give yourself patience and grace, as this will take time. I'm still learning too, so we can journey through this together.

With care,

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