Happy New Year

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Happy new year from this city by the bay!

Looking back at 2015 I realize it was a big year for personal changes – most particularly a shift in where I spent my money.  Early in the year I decided to reduce my consumption by creating a small, well crafted wardrobe of quality basics.

Then this summer I watched The True Cost and resolved to have my future clothing be from ethical companies.  I stopped purchasing from fast fashion companies like H&M and Forever 21; no small feat for someone who previously relied on these companies for everything.  I started researching clothing companies, holding them to a stricter standard – suddenly I was not valuing clothes based on how cheap they were but rather on how production impacted the environmental and the workers.

By the time winter arrived it became evident that I needed to hold my personal care and cleaning products to the same standards I was holding to my clothing.  I switched over to organic products – makeup, shampoo, dish soap, you name it.  All in all, it’s been a huge learning curve, but I’ve enjoyed the experience.  I  heard that it takes 66 days for a new pattern to become habit.  But now that it’s 2016, it finally feels like its become habit.

So what’s next for 2016?  I just read about a woman who decided to have a shopping ban for ONE WHOLE YEAR!  She only bought necessities for a year and gave up clothing, excess cosmetics, books, household items and electronics.  Can I do it?  Can I stop buying things I want but don’t need for an entire year?  It does sound like a exciting adventure!

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Causebox Subscription Box!

For a while I was toying around with the idea of joining a subscription box.  How fun to receive little surprises in the mail! And after months of looking for the perfect box I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a year of Causebox.  What attracted me to this subscription box is its focus on ethically made products – a perfect match after deciding to switch my spending habits to more socially and environmentally responsible companies. I  recommend this box to anyone wanting to learn about ethical companies.

My first box to arrive was the summer box.

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Three of my favorites from the summer box are:

Parker Clay: a company that works with artisans in Ethiopia to make leather goods, scarfs, and jewelry.  The bracelet in my box is made of Ethiopian leather and melted down bullets – turning something of destruction into something beautiful.  They partner with Women at Risk, providing women in the sex industry with counseling, skills training and the opportunities for employment outside of this industry.

Musana: the most beautiful jewelry, my necklace from this company has quickly become my favorite.  They hire women in Uganda, providing them with training, employment and education opportunities.  These artisans are truly gifted.

Everly: they made hydrating drink mixes that don’t use additives, preservatives or fake coloring (which turns out are very common in drink mixes).  Plus part of your purchase goes to Everly’s work with the non-profit ColaLife to provide oral-hydration salts to children who are suffering from waterborne illnesses.

Life Lately

2015-03-19 19.09.58This corner market always makes me smile
2015-01-21 22.40.06San Francisco in all its glory
20150401_172132Stumbled upon this fragrant wisteria the other day

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Finding a way to cheer up a rather dismal corner was a small victory!

Also on my mind…

This article about how to spot income inequality from space by evaluating trees.  How interesting.

This woman’s blog is brilliant.  Her perfectly curated capsule wardrobe reminds me that I need to stop impulse buying and really invest thought into what pieces will complement my existing wardrobe.

This ode to San Francisco had me captivated from start to finish. Now I can’t wait to read this one.

 

Small Space Living: Babysitting Your Friends Toddlers

Living alone in a studio provides for a quiet, relaxing space, but there is nothing like your friend’s little toddlers to spice it up.  And for those nights when you’ve relaxing into your armchair with a glass of wine and a movie only to get a text asking you to babysit a three year old the next day….well this means some quick prepping for the day ahead.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from bringing my friends babies and toddlers into my home.

1.  Vacuum and clear your floors.  Little ones love to investigate (aka eat) anything that may be lingering on your floor.  And lets face it, studio living means cramped corners.  Add a rambunctious toddler to the mix and you will be thankful for any additional floor space.

2. Bring out those extra blankets from the closet.  All of those blankets will make for excellent forts, orchestrate games of hide and seek and be perfect for mid day naps.

3. Buy snacks.  Have supplies of peanut butter and jelly, cheese, apples etc.  Trust me, the little ones will usually be excited to try what you have and forget what their parent packed for them.

4. Keep those silly little toys you received as joke gifts.  Your boyfriend bought you a stuffed animal for Valentines Day?  Your friend got you a nurf gun.  Keep it – these toys will come in handy.  I have a stuffed animal that goes EVERYWHERE with my friend’s 3 year old – at this point I’m not sure who she’s more excited to see when she comes over, me or the toy!

5. Take them outside.  Again, your studio is cramped and there is so much movement coming from your home that the downstairs neighbor thinks you’re housing baby elephants!  Think about your favorite spots as a kid and use this as inspiration.  I take all my friends kids to the Palace of Fine Arts because there are tons of birds and turtles to investigate.  But I never take them to the playground.  Why?  City playgrounds are very crowded and I’ve found they can be a source of stress for toddlers.  Some kids don’t want to share their toys with your little one whereas others want to take your toys.  This can be really overwhelming for a 2 year old and can usually result in a few tears being shed.  I save the lessons on sharing and playing well with others for their parents.

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My favorite outdoor activity with little kids: taking a walk to the Palace of Fine Arts to look at the swans and dogs

 

 

Enough or Too Much?

When do our possessions bring us joy, and when do they become a burden?  I was pleasantly intrigued when I  randomly heard about the blog The Minimalists and their journey to reduce the material possessions they own.

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I admit, when I got my first place of my own all I could think about was buying things, decorating, and filling up that enormous closet.  And SF is known as a liberal city, but that does not make it impervious to the consumerism dream to buy buy buy.   Here we too value the 6 digit salary, the nice car, expensive clothes and fancy tech accessories.  It’s easy to get swept up into this thinking that stuff buys happiness, I know I did.

But lately my beautiful closet full of clothes has been suffocating me.  And my cute nic-nacs have lost their luster.  And all my books don’t bring the same sense of joy as a visit to the library.

I found one thing The Minimalists discussed to be a really interesting way to launch into a less cluttered way of living.  They recommend packing up all your stuff then each day only unpacking what you really need to proceed with that day.  Need, not want.  Such as toiletries, a change of clothes and shoes, a towel, plate, knife and fork…you get the gist. I would love to do this, but honestly the idea of packing up everything is too tedious right now.  I will try instead to perform a mental pack and unpack.  Make notes of everything I need each day and everything that is just a want.  Like do I really need 4 different eyeshadow palates or the 20 pairs of shoes?  I already know the answer…..

 

Raising Children in the Age of Technology

I’m curious, how do you raise your children in our tech dominated world? What do you think of this article, which argues that technology jeopardizes a child’s healthy development?  Or are there effective ways we can use technology for learning?

These questions have been on my mind recently.  As someone without kids, I have been spending lots of time these last few months playing ‘Auntie’ to my friend’s 3 year old girl.  So I’d like to share my experience on technology and toddlers and bedtime:

One night when trying to get her to sleep (anyone who has raised a toddler knows this is a daunting task), I realized I didn’t have any children’s books and wasn’t about to read her Catcher in the Rye.  I was thrilled to find copies online of older classics, like the ‘The Ugly Duckling’.  The next day I was gloating to a friend about my ability to get the little kiddo to fall asleep in record time and praising the wonders of the internet!  He recommended I download some free kids iBooks.

Now flash forward two weeks and I’m in the same situation of getting this rambunctious toddler to bed.  I proudly started the iBooks (Princes and the Pea, Aladdin) and what awful horrors begin.  First of all, the books were so badly written it was painful. Second, they are all interactive – meant to be ‘learning’ books for children.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it was awful.  Rather than being a learning experience they just got her so wound up and she would cry anytime I tried to take the iPad away.  All this interactive crap (I mean crap because that’s exactly what it was – princesses giggling and cooing with you clicked on their image) not only made her want to stay awake but was so painful as an adult to have to participate in.  Completely counterproductive to whole idea of reading and enjoying a story together. So what did I do…

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I went back to the basics.  Deleted the iBooks and found my old favorites at my folk’s house.  Because there is something so wonderful about a good book that has no interactive pictures and real pages you can turn.

Sorry technology, but sometimes you just can’t compete with what works.

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions

What a wonderful feeling to open up the mailbox to a handwritten letter from a friend! Yet it seems in the days of email and texting the art of letter writing has become a thing of the past. I admit I seldom do my part to keep this hobby alive. So for 2014 my new year’s resolution is to begin writing letters to my loved ones again. Perhaps I’ll even take a calligraphy class to improve my penmanship!

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