Officially 1 Year Old

01.16.17

0800

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So my blog officially turned 1 year old on 1/15/2017. I never thought I was going to blog about my lifestyle or what I designed, but after so many people inquired about my zero waste-minimalist lifestyle and subsequently my design hacks- I decided to write it all down… and it just kept going. There are a few things I learned from blogging, not all were pleasant but understood and accepted with gratitude. Here are 10 lessons I learn in my first year of blogging:

  1. You have to start
    1. You will not know where your path will lead you until you start walking down that path. You may not know how and why this blog will benefit you, but the only way to find out- is to start.
  2. Write more and find your voice
    1. The more you write and brainstorm about what topics you want to cover, the more you’ll realize what voice you want. You’ll discover the identity of your blog and the topics you decide to cover.
  3. Write more and you’ll discover what you’re really trying to say
    1. When it comes to covering the basic topics for your blog, you might have that sequence mapped out easily. However, you might write a post and realize that your images don’t support the topic or that you could have approached the subject in a different manner.
  4. Communication is key
    1. As technology advances and our tech devices also advance in the sense that they help us communicate and share information faster, writing will always be one of the oldest and greatest forms of communication. The ability to communicate your ideas clearly is critical for a blogger and the audience participating. We are living in a beautiful time where current events and our own opinions on those events need to be stated in a clear and concise manner.
  5. Don’t start blogging just to make money
    1. Blogging takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of planning and time management. It is an art form that takes persistence and dedication. Blogging is your space, and for those who want to stop by and read, it’s for their entertainment. But don’t expect to make money, don’t go into this thinking it’ll definitely make money- you have to want to blog, you have to want to write and express ideas.
  6. Good Content
    1. Once you figure out the identity of your blog, create good content. Give your readers a reason to visit and spend a few minutes in your space. Whether it’s sharing of knowledge, personal reflections or some tips, but put out good content.
  7. Listen to your audience, listen to the public
    1. When your audience responds to a blog post, listen to them. There is a reason why they’re wondering about it or responding to it in your comments section. How you perceive your topics is different from how the internet views it.
  8. Be honest, be you
    1. There’s no point in trying to be a different personality behind the safety of a computer screen. Blogging is communication and your readers will be able to tell if it is not your voice. There is a honesty behind blogging, don’t be afraid to be you. You’d be surprised how many people appreciate that.
  9. It’s not a race, it’s a march, a slow walk
    1. Blogging can can take up time that you don’t have to spare. But if you give yourself a reasonable schedule, you’ll build your content and other social media slowly. It’s about showing up and being consistent.
  10. No success is worth sacrificing loved ones for
    1. Blogging can be fun and even I am proud of the content I’ve created in the past year. However, there was a time when I was blogging in the beginning when I sacrificed valuable time with loved ones. I don’t do that anymore, but I knew that I couldn’t sacrifice my health, my family and my friends for this- it wasn’t worth it.

So for those who are thinking of starting a blog or a journal or anything that they’re willing to share with the public, start… start it now. I can honestly say that when I look back on my content, I’m proud of what I’ve written. This whole site is a process, it’s not definite in its answers or solutions. This site represents a personal process as well as my design process, but both processes are mapped out by time and the lessons learned along the way. In middle school, I had a social studies teacher, Ms. Mathers, who had a banner that she had attached to one of the rafters on her ceiling. It said “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER”. As a 12 year old, I used to re-read that banner when I got bored in class, and I never really understood the value of it. Now I know as an adult, knowledge is power but the voice behind it- is UNSTOPPABLE.

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Aloe Vera For Your Skin

 

12.13.2016

0800

Of all of the plants I recommend owning, the aloe vera plant is one of them. However, aloe vera plants can grow up to 39 inches in height but grow outwards as well with their offsets.  There are many benefits to using aloe vera as a topical treatment as well as consuming the plant in a daily diet. Here is a list of benefits of Aloe Vera as a topical treatment:

1. It treats sunburn. 

Aloe Vera helps with sunburn through its powerful healing activity at the epithelial level of the skin, a layer of cells that cover the body. It acts as a protective layer on the skin and helps replenish its moisture. Because of its nutritional qualities and antioxidant properties, the skin heals quicker.

2. It acts as a moisturizer. 

Aloe moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel, so it’s perfect for anyone with an oily skin complexion. For women who use mineral-based makeup, aloe vera acts as a moisturizer and is great for the face prior to the application to prevents skin drying. For men: Aloe vera gel can be used as an aftershave treatment as its healing properties can treat small cuts caused by shaving.

3. It treats acne. 

Aloe vera gel contains two hormones: Auxin and Gibberellins. These two hormones provide wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties that reduce skin inflammation. Giberellin in aloe vera acts as a growth hormone stimulating the growth of new cells. It allows the skin to heal quickly and naturally with minimal scarring.

Aloe is soothing and can reduce skin inflammations, blistering and itchiness, while helping the skin to heal more rapidly. Additionally, in Ayurvedic medicine, Aloe is used to effectively heal chronic skin problems, such as psoriasis, acne and eczema.

4. It fights aging. 

As we age, everyone begins to worry about the appearance of fine lines and the loss of elasticity in their skin. Aloe leaves contain a plethora of antioxidants including, beta carotene, vitamin C and E that can help improve the skin’s natural firmness and keep the skin hydrated.

5. It lessens the visibility of stretch marks. 

The skin is like one big piece of elastic that’ll expand and contract as needed to accommodate growth. But if the skin stretches too far, too fast (due to pregnancy, rapid weight gain or loss) the elasticity of the skin can be damaged. That’s what leaves those unsightly stretch marks. These marks appear due to minor tears in the layers of the skin caused by sudden and excessive stretching. Aloe vera gel can help hide these stretch marks by healing these wounds.

What I usually do…

I first cut off the leaves of the aloe vera plant and sliced off of the thorns on each side of one of the leaves. I cut the leaf down the centerline through the meat so I could scrap the aloe vera off of each skin section. I gathered the aloe vera I scraped off into a mason jar and then went ahead and scraped the other leaf in the same manner. I composted everything that was left over.

I usually use the aloe vera gel immediately in which I’ll apply it to my skin on my face and body for about an hour and then rinse it off. This is a simple and natural way to moisturize your skin with an organic substance. This plant in addition to my Golden Pothos Ivy air filtering plant are my two favorites that I own. The Golden Pothos filters my indoor air for me and this one provides me with natural moisturizer, win-win.

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Simplify Your Life With These Product Tips

12.08.2016

0800

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Part of the reason why I know my day to day life has a simplistic routine, is that I’ve set it up that way due to my investments in specific products. I keep my rooms simple and clean and the one rule I follow, is that items must be off of the floor, including any storage bins. I thought I’d list a few tips of how I organize the living room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

Living Room

  1. Invest in a thermostat – Thermostats are components of which sense the temperature of a system so that the system’s temperature is maintained near a desired setpoint. They are useful in that they will sense the temperature of the space and turn on or turn off when the desired temperature is met.  
  2. Purchase multi-functional furniture – Try an ottoman that doubles as storage, etc. Be sure to check out our post for 10 Items You Need to Organize Your Home Like a RockStar with more multi-functional furniture ideas.
  3. Less items to display – If you have more items to display out in the open, the likelihood is that you have to dust them more often or  worry about those items falling over or being damaged somehow. I’m not telling you to get rid of everything out in the open, but the amount of items will correlate with the level of maintenance of them.
  4. Keep items off of the floor– The less items you have on the floor, when you vacuum or sweep,  you won’t have to stop to pick up all of your items first. Vacuuming or sweeping will be a quick visit to each room and you’ll be done before you know it.

Bathroom

  1. Use dry shampoo – Try dry shampoo (for your entire family) and spend less time getting ready. Try this version or a homemade version here.
  2. Stop using shaving cream – Organic soap bars works for both men and women as a replacement.
  3. Use multipurpose beauty products – Try a lip stain that doubles as blush and eye-shadow.
  4. Stop coloring your hair – Coloring at a salon is pricey and time consuming. Your natural color is probably gorgeous. Embrace it!

Bedroom

  1. Start a wardrobe capsule – Creating a wardrobe capsule will change your life. Check out this post to download the template to start yours Capsule Wardrobe Planner by Un-fancy.
  2. Keep items off of the floor– The less items you have on the floor, when you vacuum or sweep,  you won’t have to stop to pick up all of your items first. Vacuuming or sweeping will be a quick visit to each room and you’ll be done before you know it.

Kitchen

  1. Invest in and use a crockpot – Use your crockpot as often as possible to cook ready-made meals.
  2. Invest in and use a pressure cooker – Use your pressure cooker as often as possible to cut down on cooking time.
  3. Make your breakfast the night before – Try overnight oats with fresh fruit for a grab-and-run healthy breakfast.
  4. Make your lunches for the week at the beginning of the week- I think most of the working class has a busy schedule no matter what job  you hold. Making your lunches at the beginning of the week saves time and energy during the week so you can spend that time doing something you prefer.
  5. Keep healthy snacks at your desk – Keeping healthy snacks at arm’s length will ensure that you reach for them rather than the vending machine goodies.
  6. Stop using kitchen paper products – Try using cloth towels to dry hands, dishes, or wipe up spills/spots. Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins. Stop using paper plates. You will simplify the items in your home and reduce waste and costs.
  7. Invest in a coffee/tea French Press – A basic coffee maker with a timer (like this one) will ensure your pot is brewed before you wake up. Try this one to reduce waste if you rarely drink coffee/tea.

My Cat Is Not Zero Waste

09.21.2016

0800

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Trying to create zero trash for my cat is almost impossible. I’ve tried, but due to some medical conditions, it’s virtually impossible. I have a male cat and he was neutered when he was younger. Unfortunately, male cats who are neutered, are more prone to urinary tract infections and therefore, require special diet food that has a low sodium content. Also, in order for him to not develop another urinary tract infection, he needed fresh water constantly. We bought him a small drinking fountain which he helped himself to. These two requirements produced empty tin cans of cat UTI management food as well as charcoal filters.

As he aged, he developed Diabetes and requires insulin shots twice a day. This required insulin medication as well as insulin needles. He’s a large cat, but he’s always been a large cat so weight gain was his genetic default. Lucky for us, he’s always been an indoor and outdoor cat, so he always used the backyard as his giant toilet. But with him being an indoor and outdoor cat, he required flea medication. I’ve been asked “Why don’t you just make him an indoor cat? It would cut back on the flea medication trash that you produce.” But forcing an animal to stay inside when we clearly have outdoor roaming space for him seemed unnatural to me. I wanted him to roam free and go play outside when we weren’t home. So the diabetes and flea medication produced tin cans of glucose management food, insulin needles, insulin medication and the flea applicators.

Over the years, he also got into a few fights with other cats or raccoons that roamed the neighborhood. For those special occasions, he required medication and sometimes even surgery which produced trash as well. I usually return the pill bottles and jars to the veterinarian so they can dispose of it. I’m lucky that I live in an area that allows free medical waste dumping, and even if I didn’t, I know my veterinarian will collect the medical waste from his patients for a small fee.

As for toys, he never loved to play with a lot of toys. In fact, he really only likes his catnip pillow, shoelaces and metal chain necklaces . I had a catnip plant that I grew for him awhile back and once in awhile, I would dry the catnip leaves and compost the old catnip. I would then refill his pillow with new dry catnip. Unfortunately he liked it so much that he would lay on it and eventually crushed the life out of it. That too went into the compost bin. I’m lucky that he’s easily entertained. He also never wanted his own bed, he always just adopted any place in the house to sleep.

Facts:

  1. Urinary Tract Infection Medical History = Prescription Diet c/d canned food & Filtered water with charcoal filters
  2. Diabetes II Medical History= Glucose Management m/d canned food, insulin needles, insulin medication
  3. Indoor & Outdoor cat = Advantage Flea Medication BUT no litter box
  4. Entertainment = Catnip pillow, but I refill the catnip pillow with fresh catnip. He just likes to play with shoelaces and metal chain necklaces.

So the recyclable items that I do produce are the tin cans of UTI food and diabetic food. His insulin medication, insulin needles and other medications are also recycleable, but considered medical waste recycling. The charcoal filters and advantage flea medication are the items that do end up in the landfill. I actually have a separate jar of trash that comes from owning a cat. He also no longer uses the water fountain that used the charcoal filters, he requests fresh water from the faucet when he’s thirsty with a drawn out meow.

Trying to own a pet and not produce trash from them is quite difficult. I know this much, to take on a pet is a great amount of responsibility and it is not a simple responsibility to ignore. I am not a veterinarian and I do not know what nutrients he needs and the sufficient amount of each nutrient and vitamin, therefore I do not attempt to make cat food on my own. He has very few toys, only wants his catnip pillow, which I will stuff with fresh catnip and compost the old catnip.

I started this journey almost five years ago, so I’ve compiled a nice amount of Advantage Flea Medication applicators for cats as well as charcoal filters. He stopped using the water fountain about three years ago, so he hasn’t produced anymore trash from that. He probably won’t last through the end of this year, but it’s amazing to see how much owning a pet can add to your trash collection. Once you lay it all out and calculate the amount of trash that’s produced, it’s an eye opening realization of what you’re contributing to the landfill.

Know Your Knots

02.22.2016

0845

Materials:

  • Rope

Tools:

  • Pole to test out knots on

As someone who loves to keep extra rope and twine around, it makes sense that I made it a point to learn how to tie knots. But in addition to that, is that I actually carry a 100 foot parachord (Parachute cord) in my snowboarding backpack when I go up to the mountains. If you understand how to tie certain knots in certain situations, that knowledge can help you survive a situation, or help you while working over heights or water. Just knowing how to tie a few knots can still help you in many situations. Here are some knots that might be helpful:

  1. Reef Knot- This knot is a binding knot for connecting two lines together or a line around an object. It’s simple and effective and it is also known as a square knot.
    1. 01- Square Knot
  2. Clove Hitch- This knot can secure a line to a tree or post quickly, but it needs an anchor or it will slip.
    1. 02- Clove Hitch
  3. Bowline- This knot can create a nonadjustable loop at the end of the line, so the shape stays fixed.
    1. 03- Bowline
  4. Figure 8- This knot creates a stopping knot at the end of a line. This prevents the rope from unraveling and can also keep the rope from slipping past another rope.
    1. 04- Figure 8
  5. Sheet Bend- This technique can tie two different types of rope material together. This knot allows the joining of different thicknesses of rope as well.
    1. 05- Sheet Bend
  6. Two Half Hitches- This knot allows a line to be secured to trees or poles
    1. 06- Two Half Hitches
  7. Taut Line Hitch- This is an adjustable loop knot that will grip as long as there is tension on the “taut” side of the loop. Tension is maintained by sliding the hitch to adjust size of the loop. It can be used to secure tent lines or securing loads on vehicles.
    1. 07- Taut Line Hitch
  8. Improved Clinch Knot- This knot is used to secure a fishing line to a fishing lure or an artificial fly.
    1. 08- Fisherman's Knot
  9. Water Knot- This knot secures webbing, belts and straps together
    1. 09- Water Knot
  10. Rolling Hitch- A rolling hitch is used to attach a rope to a rod, pole or another rope.  It is used for lengthwise pull along an object rather than at right angles. The rolling hitch is designed to resist lengthwise movement for only a single direction of pull.
    1. 10- Rolling Hitch
  11. Prusik Knot- This knot is a friction hitch and it is used to put a loop of cord around a rope. It is used in climbing, mountaineering and rope rescue.
    1. 11- Prusik Knot
  12. Timber Hitch- This hitch will secure a rope around a cylindrical object. It is secure as long as tension is maintained but can be easily untied even after hauling a heavy load of weight.
    1. 12- Timber Hitch
  13. Blood Knot- This knot is used in fishing to secure two lines together. It will join sections of nylon line, while maintaining a high portion of the line’s inherent strength.
    1. 13- Blood Knot
  14. Artillery Loop- This knot creates a loop on the bight (the slack part between two ends of a rope). As long as the artillery loop is loaded, it will not slip and contract.
    1. 14- Man Harness
  15.  Carrick Bend- This knot is used to join two lines together. It can be used for heavy rope or cable that is too stiff to bend into other hitches.
    1. 15- Carrick Bend

If you keep in mind a few of these knots, they may very well help you in dire situations. It is a simple skill to know these knots by heart, but it can be one of the most useful as well. I always use ropes for a number of projects and situations and I have learned that the physics that go into tying a knot is so self sustainable, that I don’t have to worry about much else.

Natural Air Filtering Plants

02.17.2016

0800

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Plants are great for indoor decor as well as connecting humans with a little bit of nature. Even better is when you can choose a plant that will benefit you and your family.

I have a Golden Pothos (Scindapsus aures) plant indoor and I’ve had it since May 2013. Golden Pothos are great for filtering formaldehyde and it stays green even when kept in the dark. It’s great for rooms near garages. It needs indirect, bright light and only needs watering once a week or once every week and a half. Originally, when I bought the plant, it looked like this:

2013-05-12 23.11.29

When the plant started cascading over the edge of the hanging flower pot, I found an old metal chain and used it to hang up the plant. I used an S-Hook to adjust the height of the chain over time. S-Hooks are great for making almost any ledge more versatile. As this plant continues to grow, I’ll readjust the height of the chain, but so far it seems happy where it is.

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Some other plants that can be used as natural indoor air filters are:

  1. Aloe (aloe Vera) aloe-vera-plant-1
    1. Great for kitchens &bathrooms
    2. Battles formaldehyde and benzene, which can be a byproduct of chemical-based cleaners, paints and more.
  2. Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum)Chlorophytum-comosum-zebra-spider-plant-620x412
    1. Great for all residential rooms
    2. Battles benezene, formaldehyde, carbon momoxide and xylene, a solvent used in the leather, rubber and printing industries. This plant is very easy to grow and maintain being that it prefers cool to average temperatures and dry soil. It needs bright indirect light to keep growing.
  3. Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)Gerbera jamesonii
    1. Great for laundry room & bedroom
    2. Can remove trichloroethylene and benzene from pollutants that come home with dry cleaning and inks . This plant needs lots of light and well drained soil.
  4. Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’) Snake Plant (Sansevieria trifasciata 'Laurentii'
    1. Great for the bathroom, kitchen & bedroom
    2. Filters formaldehyde, which is common in cleaning products and carbon monoxide, which is common in toilet paper, tissues and personal care products. It also releases oxygen at night. These thrive in low light and steamy humid conditions.
  5. Chrysanthemum (Chrysantheium morifolium) chrysanthemum_morifolium
    1. Great for bedrooms, office, kitchen and laundry room
    2. This plant not only brightens up a room with it’s unique colors, but it filters benzene, which is commonly found in glue, paint, plastics and detergent. It needs bright light in order for the buds to open, but not direct sunlight.
  6. Red-edged Dracaena (Dracaena marginata) RedEdgedDrac
    1. Great for living rooms, dining rooms &kitchens
    2. This plant removes xylene, trichloroethylene and formaldehyde, which can seep into indoor air through lacquers, varnishes and gasoline. It grows slowly, but can reach up to 15 feet in height, so it’s suggested that this plant be placed in a area with a high ceiling, but with moderate sunlight.
  7. Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)   download
    1. Great for living rooms
    2. Can filter out formaldehyde, benzene and trichloroethylene, which come from pollutants that typically accompany carpeting and furniture. This plant is a little tricky to take care of with but with the right amount of light, water and temperature, it can grow into a beautiful sculpture.
  8. Azalea (Rhododendron simsii) Rhododendron-simsii-2
    1. Great for living rooms, dining rooms, basements
    2. This shrub can battle formaldehyde from sources such as plywood or foam insulation. These plants strive in temperatures that range between 60-65 °F.
  9. Warneck Dracaena (Dracaena deremensis ‘Warneckii’) dracaena-warneckiei-plant
    1. Great for living rooms, dining rooms and kitchens.
    2. This plant can combat pollutants associated with varnishes and oils. Keep in mind that this plant has the potential to reach 12 feet high and grows easily in an indoor environment, even without direct sunlight.
  10. Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema Crispum ‘Deborah’) Chinese-evergreen-Aglaonema-crispum-Deborah
    1. Great for all residential rooms
    2. Filters a number of pollutants and will remove more toxins over time with more exposure. This plant has been nicknamed “the easiest houseplant” because it will thrive in low light and can survive in places other plants cannot. These plants like humid air so misting the leaves occasionally will keep them happy.
  11. Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea Sefritzii) bamboo-palm-tree-chamaedorea-seifrizii-20-01-b-realpalmtrees.com
    1. Great for living rooms, dinging rooms and kitchens
    2. This plant filters out both benzene and trichloroethylene. It should be placed around furniture that could be off-gassing formaldehyde. It prefers humidity and bright indirect sunlight.
  12. Heart Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium) Heart Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron oxycardium
    1. Great for all residential rooms
    2. Can remove all kinds of VOCs (Volatile organic compounds) and formaldehyde from sources like particleboard. However, it is toxic when eaten so keep out of reach of children and pets. This plant is very low maintenance and needs indirect light with room for its vines to grow.

Consider using an indoor plant that filters air naturally. Make sure you check the maximum height at which the plant will inevitably grow to and if they need to be re-potted into a larger pot . It’s better to not be surprised a few months into this investment. These plants can help clean indoor air on Earth, which is typically far more polluted than outdoor air and the benefits also include creating a more sustainable indoor environment.