Monday, June 3, 2019

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread

Few things in life taste nicer than a buttered slice of freshly baked blueberry banana bread πŸ˜‹

Lately, this has been my favourite dish to bring as a hostess gift to a dinner or the dessert of choice to share at a potluck.  Usually, there isn't much left at the end of the meal and in my opinion, those are the best dishes.  Those finger licking good ones that disappear so quickly, no one even finds the time to ask what's not in it.
Wait, it's vegan?

But it's so juicy, fluffy and moist? 🀷‍♀️

This recipe is low fuss to throw together and it's made with simple ingredients that you might already have in your pantry.  If not, in my experience, the ingredients are easy purchase with minimal packaging from the store.  I also wanted to note that this recipe utilizes a bit of homemade almond milk for which I will link my video recipe here.  Unsweetened store-bought almond milk will work just as well, but for me my simple zero waste nut milk has so many perks that convenience can't sway me to buy packaged nut milks with an ingredient list a mile long.

I recently noticed that my passion for zero waste and sustainable living shows a little bit in everything I do these days.  Even when I bake.

T R A N S I T I O N I N G   T O   A   S U S T A I N A B L E   +   Z E R O   W A S T E   K I T C H E N
On principle, I try to avoid buying food in plastic packaging whenever I can, but I also try to use safe cooking vessels, utensils and food storage containers.  My rule with kitchen items is that I try to avoid pieces with plastic parts or questionable materials for anything that touches food.  To me the material is especially important for anything that gets warmed or heated or for long term food storage.

2018 was the year for me in which I let go of non-stick cookware and cheap plastic cooking utensils and I invested into a stainless steel pot (mainly for boiling water), a cast iron frying pan, a small enameled cast iron pot (for cooking vegetables) and practical glass pantry storage containers with a glass lid.  I opted for Weck glass storage jars for because of their wide mouth makes them easy to clean and because the glass lids don't have a plastic coating that could interact with the food stored inside the jars.  

I've slowly implemented all these changes after reading book on non-toxic, sustainable living like Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha's book Life Without Plastic:
"If you must continue to use plastic containers for food, don't microwave them or expose them to temperature extremes because this causes them to break down faster and leach chemicals more readily. Also avoid using oily and acidic foods in plastics for the same reason. You know that old Tupperware container you put tomato sauce in and it now has a reddish residue embedded in the plastic? Well, if there's tomato sauce in the plastic, then there is plastic in the tomato sauce, and you are the one eating the tomato sauce." (You can find this quote on their blog Life Without Plastic.)

Of course I don't have a perfect natural, plastic free kitchen.  With what's provided in rental kitchens, like the one's we usually work with, and with the way appliances are made these days, being plastic free really seems impossible.

From appliances to pre-made food, lots of things are difficult to get without packaging.  Tofu and vegan butter, for example, are staples in our home, but they do come in plastic.

On the bright side, there have been so many positive changes in my kitchen since I started being more intentional in this realm.  I think it's a much better way of affecting change to focus on the good and to keep going with the sustainable systems I have already implemented.  Like making nut milks at home, cooking from scratch and having healthy cooking pots, food storage containers and utensils.

B A N A N A   B R E A D  R E C I P E
This recipe makes enough slices of banana bread for 4-6 people. 

  • 3 ripe Bananas
  • 1 cup (or 200 grams) vegan Sugar
  • 1/2 cup (or 105 grams) Coconut Oil; melted
  • 1 tsp. (or 5ml) Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup (or 59 ml) unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp. (or 5 ml) Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp. (or 4 grams) Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp. (or 3 grams) Salt
  • 1/2 cup (or 56 grams) Walnuts; roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup (or 50 grams) Rolled Oats
  • 2 cups (or 240 grams) All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (or 166 grams) fresh Blueberries
  • Vegan Butter (I use Earth Balance); to grease the pan
      1. Before starting on the banana bread, I recommend preheating the oven to 350° Fahrenheit (or 350° Celsius). 
      2. Next, peel three ripe bananas and add them to a medium sized bowls.
      3. Add the sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract and apple cider vinegar and then mash the whole mixture.  To make things easier I usually do things with a small potato masher.  This works nicely to break down the bananas and to work the ingredients together.
      4. When these ingredients are evenly mixed, lumps of bananas are fine, add the baking soda, salt, chopped walnuts and lastly the flour.  You could use the same potato masher to mix these dry ingredients into the banana bread batter.
      5. Prep a loaf pan with a coating of vegan butter.  There is no need to line the pan with paper when the pan is buttered and the finished banana bread pops out of the baking form quite nicely. 
      6. I usually spread a layer of the batter in the loaf pan and then top it with blueberries and then repeat this step until all the batter is used up.  The rest of the blueberries get sprinkled on top.  I'm adding the berries in this manner to insure even distribution of pops of juicy berries throughout the banana bread.
      7. Bake the loaf for 1 hour and 10 minutes.  Test it for doneness with a clean chopstick.  If it has still some batter or stuck to it add 5 more minutes of baking time.  Repeat the 'chopstick test'.  The banana bread is done when the chopstick comes out clean.
      8. After I pull the loaf from the oven, I let it rest for 10 minutes before loosening the sides from the pan with a butter knife.  Right afterwards, I flip over the loaf pan to pop the banana bread out.
      9. Wait for as long as you can stand to wait before slicing into it and enjoying a piece.  It's good on its own, but a bit of butter spread on it is a nice addition.   

      BLUEBERRY BANANA BREAD  video here!
      HOW TO MAKE ALMOND MILK  video recipe here!

          Sunday, March 31, 2019

          My Spring Capsule Wardrobe 2019

          Hello friends!  My calendar says it's Spring.  The weather doesn't really feel like it, but regardless of that I'm in my Spring capsule from now until the end of May.  Have a look!  I snapped some pictures of all the items I have this time around πŸ˜ƒ

          See, this is me in one of my 'spring' outfits πŸ™ˆLOL

          As usual my capsule wardrobe is following the rules of Project 333.  It is a simple, no fuss capsule method.  I'm linking the creator's page with the rules here, but basically you select 33 items of clothing for the next three months and all your other clothes get stored away until you create your next seasonal capsule.  All my off-season clothes are kept in a big box in the coat closet.

          I've been dressing consecutively in this capsule method since October 2015 and I love it so much I have not skipped a season.  Capsule dressing was at the hight of its popularity back in 2015 and many bloggers and youtubers gave one of the many capsule styles a whirl for at least one season.  I'm not sure why people stop capsule dressing.  It isn't just meant to be a one time declutter and three months experiment, though it can be.  It can be an ongoing system for simplicity, an ongoing learning experiment and a framework for creativity. 

          Since 2015, my style and preferences have certainly evolved.  And I've learned something new from the same process.  That's the reason why I'm still at it.

          What I will discuss now might not come to your attention when you start with your very first capsule.  It's the creativity aspect of capsule dressing.
          When I started capsule dressing, the lessons I learned were all about utility: 
          simplicity, time saving, the value of quality pieces and that comfort is key.  
          I learned that no one noticed or cared that I dressed in such a minimalistic way.  It's not as big of a deal as I feared it would be.  You can find all my previous capsule posts here if you're interested to see exactly how my focus shifted with each capsule season.

          With this capsule though, I've been thinking a lot about the creative process of building a capsule or an outfit in relation to how I seem to build just about anything.  In short, I piecemeal everything.  Try as I may, I create, I edit, and I rework my creations, but the finished product is always a bit underwhelming.  Then I go at it again and again, and together all these standalone underwhelming tries build something 'bigger'.  In all the tries I build something out of nothing or learned a skill.

          This is the case for pretty much anything I create.  
          But - clearly lacking amazing talent - for me creations always happen over a long period of time, in many many steps, until I reach a point where it could be regarded as finished.  But really, it is often an open ended creative project that can always be tweaked and edited.  
          This works for me because my strong suit is persistence.  I might not have many talents going for me, but persistence I have.  And with this skill I can kind of end up where talent took the gifted ones at first try.

          I'm mentioning this in a post about capsule dressing because it's such a typical example of my creative process.
          - Naturally, I'm not the most organized person, but in many imperfect tries capsule dressing makes it look like I have my act together.
          - I'm no fashionista, but capsule dressing provided the creative constrains and plenty of time in which I could build outfits instead of just throwing on clothing pieces that kind of go together.
          - Often I don't know where to begin with sustainable, healthful choices, but capsule dressing slows my buying habits and provides the space to contemplate preferences and acquisitions.  I've become more selective, preferring quality, natural fiber clothing instead of synthetics and I favor the second hand market for new purchases.  You can see this reflected in my capsules as I've always tracked what I bought.  It's interesting for me to look back on, and also gives me the opportunity to pause and reflect on all the incoming goods.  For example, I've counted 8 this season.
          Wait, that many? πŸ™ˆπŸ€”

          And now, let's have a look at my spring capsule pieces:
          (new items are marked with a *, second hand pieces with **)

          J A C K E T S   (4)
          - tan peacoat
          - grey blazer
          - jean jacket
          - white fleece jacket**

          S H O R T   S L E E V E   T O P S   (3)
          - white camisole
          - blue/white striped t-shirt
          - olive Yellowstone graphic t-shirt

          L O N G   S L E E V E   T O P S   (8)
          - light pink sweater
          - white braided sweater
          - black sweater
          - navy blue turtleneck sweater
          - flowy navy blue cardigan 
          - navy blue flower top
          - white button down

          D R E S S E S   &   S K I R T S   (2)
          navy blue pleated dress
          - white spring flower dress**
          - blue printed wrap skirt* (bought with a gift return credit)

          B O T T O M S   (6)
          - indigo jeans
          - blue jeans**
          - white jeans
          - mid wash high waisted jeans
          - olive pants**
          - cream corduroy pants**

          S H O E S   (5)
          - black rain boots
          - brown riding boots**
          - white tennis shoes
          - tan flats**
          - black boots NICORA

          A C C E S S O R I E S   (5)
          - everyday jewelry
          - sunglasses
          - scarves (x3) (not individually pictured)
          - black beanie
          - black, brown and white belts (not individually pictured)
          Thanks for having a look at my new capsule!
            ♡ Nina

          Sunday, January 6, 2019

          New Years Goals for 2019

          Happy New Years friends!  Right around Christmas time I started thinking about my goals and commitments for 2019.  It's something I do each year and it's one of my all time favourite things to do.

          I shared started sharing my goals in 2017 here on the blog and I'm happy that I have this way of documenting my goals.  Regrettably I never shared to my goals for 2018.  So before the year starts getting too far along I wanted to post my new goals.

                                                                                                                                                                                     ↟ STAFFORD FORGE WMA, New Jersey

          G E T   O U T S I D E   M O R E
          This year I like to spend more time in nature and explore the state in which I currently live.  Inspired by my friend Debbie, I’m embarking on the 52HikeChallenge.  Working on this challenge means that I will take one hike each week until the end of the year.  Maybe I can keep up with the videos too.  That might be the real challenge.
          The picture above shows me on my first hike of 2019 at the Stafford Forge Wildlife Management Area.  We had the whole place to ourselves because it was freezing, but it also was quite beautiful on our hike.  Now I like to go back when it's warmer outside πŸ˜ƒ

          The following player will show my videos from the hiking challenge:

          G R E E N   D R E A M S
          I've focused extensively on my green goals in the past two years.  In 2016 all my goals were zero waste related (Green Goals for 2017).  
          -This year I want to continue to disengage from plastics whenever possible.  This includes plastic disposables, clothing, etc.  Most people understand the problems with disposing plastics, the leaching of chemicals into food and drinks, and the release of mirco-plastics when washing synthetic fabrics.  I like to stop all that nasty stuff under my roof.  
          Another reason why I like to disengage from plastics is my health.  
          I don’t want to consume any plastic or toxic chemicals that leach off plastic.  
          And I want to improve indoor air quality by eliminate plastic materials that off-gas and aggravate my asthma.  
          -Take a walk each season to remove trash from the environment (invite others to participate). #TrashTag  #DeTrash

          W H I T E
          -I would love to continue with capsule dressing, to help me keep things simple and to find my preferences.  I love the way I feel when I wear something white.  I like to add more white pieces to each capsule and if possible look for white clothing when I'm adding to my collection.
          -I want to add or create something white each month!  I'm setting this goal because I'm having a difficult time creating the light and airy aesthetics that I enjoy.  Maybe you are one of these people that can think about creating something and then you go and create just that: draw, take a photo, set a table, remodel a room, create a capsule wardrobe.  With me something happens in the creative process in which I deviate from my vision and what I'm creating is layered, complicated, detailed and crayon colored. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
          I'm not sure why this is the case.  Maybe making small, individual changes will help me invite more white into my life.
          -Actively creating functional spaces that are also beautiful: my closet, dresser, bed, crafting supplies, personal care, pantry, living room, and fridge storage.  For this I like to work with natural materials and the color white.

          C R E A T E 
          I want to celebrate that my passions are worthwhile simply because I enjoy doing them and because of the beauty or function they provide.  Blogging, photography and creating videos is a big creative outlet for me and it's something that's important for my happiness.  Often when I share my creations people get excited and suggest I should sell my creations, monetize my online content or see if I can make a living of it.  Not every passion needs to be monetized and they are worthwhile to me even if they don’t bring on cash. I really don’t understand why everything creative has to be tied to making money these days.  Or that it is perceived more worthwhile if it brings in a good chunk of money.  No don't get me wrong, I wouldn’t be mad if someone decided to fling money at me for my creative whimsies, but I don’t set out to create because I want to make money.
          Also, while I love to show some of my creations, there are others that I keep very private. Here are my goals for creating.
          -Photography: take monthly photos of Spencer and I (most likely a private endeavor)
          -Videography: publish once a month
          -Blogging : once a month
          -Journaling: daily crafting with more pictures (private)
          -Learning to sew: create something each month (private)

          P E R S O N A L   D E V E L O P M E N T
          -In October Spencer and I started working out.  At this point we are halfway through our program.  I would love to work through it twice this year.  So far, besides giving us lots of energy and helping us greatly with the winter blues, it is 'all pain and none of the gain'.  So far I'm still waiting for improved strength, muscle or weight loss.
          -Another practice I plan on implementing together with my husband is what we call a daily 15 minute clean.  This is a cleaning we've done sporadically as a cleaning practice since we've been together, but this year we like to see if we couldn't benefit from a daily 15 minute clean.  I will report back on how this will go for us πŸ™ƒ
          -Let's read 12 books this year!  
          -I also want to implement a simple morning and night skincare routine.  How difficult can it be?
          -Talking about working on something tough.  I'm really not drinking enough water each day.  So this year I like to make a daily effort to track my water intake. 
          -And finally, there are some programs I like to get more proficient in.  I  want to work more in Photoshop and I like to learn how to edit video in Premier Pro.

          That's it.  17 goals for 2019.  The list might seem rather long when it's written out this way, but I'm confident it's doable.

          Cheers to a joyful and greener 2019! If you care to share, I would LOVE to hear some of your new years goals in the comments.

          #SlowLiving2019 #SLCzerowaste

             ♡ Nina

          Sunday, December 30, 2018

          Winter Capsule 2019 - Curating A Plastic Free Wardrobe

          “It’s important to remember that the root of a lot of issues in fashion actually comes from the incredible rate of consumption and disposal of clothing.  So, it does not matter how fairly made or eco friendly something is if it is worn twice and then thrown away.” ~ Erin from My Green Closet

          One of the most difficult things for zero wasters or for anyone wanting to live more sustainable, is slowing down consumption— not because wanting to live adherent to a minimal aesthetic or for the lack of funds, but as a conscious environmental choice.  Slowing down consumption takes a lot of self discipline.  It’s not a way of living that's ‘instagram-able’, but it’s the most impactful way to live more sustainable and to create a lot less waste.

          In the past year, I’ve been thinking a lot about the environmental and health concerns of the ‘plastic’ clothing items that I own.  For a multitude of reasons, I decided to phase most of those items out (except for swim and some active wear) and look for non-toxic, natural fiber replacements.  It’s a long, long process and not exceptionally interesting.  I've been at it for about a year now and it might take a few more before I have a plastic free wardrobe.  I recycle the fabric or donate an item when it is beyond repair, too shabby, or it does not fit me anymore.  If I need the item, then I will look for a replacement on the second hand market first before considering new goods.  
          With so many eco companies out there, it might seem exciting to show and own investment pieces from a cool sustainable brand, but this is not the direction I like to go.  I'm more so looking to slow down the way in which I buy and cycle through clothing.  I would like to keep and love my clothing for longer.
          I'm don't wish to switch my fast fashion consumption to one that's a bit more sustainable and ethically produced.  In many ways, that market for sustainable goods has become its own problematic behemoth that is counterproductive to the original goals of the sustainability movement.  In many ways the solution to the overconsumption of clothing is similar to the solution to the plastic waste problem.  It's getting to the root of the problem, turning off that 'plastic tab' and curbing our consumption habits.  
          Why not do the same with our fashion consumption?  

          So, in light of this, why am I still writing about capsule dressing?
          I'm not a nudist and getting dressed is something I'll have to do every day.  
          Acquiring 'new' clothes is something I inevitably have to do.  And capsule dressing provides clear boundaries in which I can exercise restrain, slow down and make mindful choices about what and how I buy.
          That being said, capsule dressing isn't at all too restrictive or negative.  I've been capsule dressing for years.  I keep learning new things from the process and I find creativity within the boundaries.  

          Now, what is it that I want from my capsules in 2019?

          ...  I like to be more in control of my health and I like my attire to support my health, be non-polluting and non-toxic.  I have pretty severe asthma.   So why would I want to keep synthetic clothes around that of-gass or shed tiny plastic particles into the air I breathe.  Plastic clothing no longer has a secure place in my wardrobe, it's on it's way out and if possible I'm not planning to acquire new synthetic things in the future.  

          ... I like to purchase quality and keep items for long term.  By long term I mean having items in my collection for good or until I wear them out.  I don't want to continuously cycling through things because I was not intentional or because I made compromises.  I'm starting to get a vision of what I want and I don't want to get sidetracked and make concessions because of convenience, a price tag or the slow pace in which I'm crawling towards my vision.  I don't wish to settle for something that is almost perfect:  a wonderful fit and fabric, but with a strange pattern, something too tight, too short or not warm enough.

          ... I like to make environmentally and socially responsible purchases.

          ... I like to look for white or light neutral colors.  This is the aesthetic part and it's really not as trivial as it may seems.  I've written about my love for white and my trouble of bringing white into my life before.  I'm not naturally gifted to bring my aesthetic visions into reality, but I'm hoping in 2019 I will get to work on that!  

          These are my plans for the next 4 capsules and I will try to implement all these changes slowly.  When slowing down I can make deliberate intentional choices that will work for me long term.  My hope is that I can avoid falling for green washing, plastic zero waste items and gimmick-y trash marketed to zero wasters.  I think this is an important topic that should be brought up in the comments or a zero waste group? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

          Anyways, I wanted to share the following video about starting an ethical capsule wardrobe.  Erin, the creator of the video, makes some very important points that I wholeheartedly agree with.  I know at first glance fashion doesn’t seem to belong in the zero waste debate, but it’s a consumable we all have in our life.  The EPA estimates that American’s throw out 81 pounds of clothing every year (  This number is truly shocking 😱
          While I'm quite certain the pieces of clothing that leave my home don't tip the scale to 81 pounds, I could be more mindful about my consumption and the disposal of garments.  I really like to embrace slowing down and being intentional with anything I bring into my life.

          But for now, here are the pieces I selected for this winter capsule:
          (new to me items, pieces bought second hand, are marked with a *)

          J A C K E T S   (4)
          - black peacoat
          - tan peacoat*
          - grey jacket
          - navy blue parker

          S H O R T   S L E E V E   T O P S   (4)
          - white camisole
          - blue/white striped t-shirt
          - olive Yellowstone graphic t-shirt
          - black linen tunic

          L O N G   S L E E V E   T O P S   (8)
          - red turtleneck sweater
          - light pink sweater*
          - white braided sweater
          - black sweater
          - navy blue turtleneck sweater
          - flowy navy blue cardigan
          - navy blue flower top
          - grey half-zip sweatshirt

          D R E S S E S   (2)
          navy blue pleated dress
          - denim dress

          B O T T O M S   (5)
          - embroidered high waisted jeans
          - indigo jeans
          - mid wash high waisted jeans
          - black high waisted jeans
          - navy blue corduroy pants

          S H O E S   (5)
          - black rain boots*
          - white tennis shoes
          - black boots NICORA
          - black lace up heeled boots NICORA
          - tan UGG boots

          A C C E S S O R I E S   (6)
          - everyday jewelry
          - sunglasses
          - scarves (x3)
          - black beanie
          - reversible black and brown belt*
          - black gloves

          Thanks for reading and a very happy, healthy new year to you!
             ♡ Nina

          Sunday, September 30, 2018

          What Inspires Me

          I have been meaning to make this post for months.   Why?  Because I like to share with those who know me why I'm making certain choices and decisions.  At the same time, I'm afraid to put this out there, because it is a bit of fluff.  Nothing too serious.

          W H I T E
          In the past few years I have been on a journey to discover what catches my attention and inspires me.  And then having the goal of inviting more of that into my life or doing more of it.  It seems, of all the beautiful things, it's crisp whites that I love most.  It's my favorite color.
          I like wearing white.  
          I like seeing it in home decor, art and architecture.
          But inviting this color into my life has not been easy.  A few years back I already wrote about this trouble.  (Article linked here.)  It's been years and I'm not seeing much progress. 🀷‍♀️
          When I create something or take photos, my creations often lack the crisp white aesthetic that inspires me in the work of others.
          Then why is it that I can't I create with the aesthetic I enjoy?
          Why are my creations always so much busier, brown or green?

          -When I think about what I like to wear on my body, I envision dressing myself in a lot of quality white clothing.  A bohemian princess.  I like how white looks on me, how it looks with my skin tone and hair and how it overall makes me look healthier.  But the reality is that I own just a few nice white things and when I look to make a new purchase (thrifting or buying new), finding quality white garments out of natural fibers is difficult.

          When shopping, it's easier for me to just grab the standard colors that I don't mind wearing: dark navy blue, black, wine red and olive green.  They are also easier to keep clean and to care for.  
          At the same time, isn't life too short not to wear what you like. πŸ™ƒ
          How do I change that?  I'm not sure. 

          -When it comes to my home, I'm managing in the creative confines of rental apartments.  There is only so much I can do to the look and feel of a place.  What I can control are my own things.  I can curate my belongings.  And if I like more white, I will have to practice restraint when purchasing new items that come into our home.

          That being said, I'm also not living on my own, so I will have to make decisions regarding our belongings together with my husband.

          I'm contemplating if I should actively work on bringing more light, white things into my life.  I have no intention of rushing things, but if I make changes then I like to procure items that are as much for practical use as they are for visual pleasure.  Maybe once a month I could create something white, paint something white, or look to purchase something white.  Maybe this way I could push for a little bit of progress and invite more white into my life. πŸ˜ƒ

          Links to things that inspire my love of white:

          ˃˃˃ DEARLY BETHANY:  youtube & instagram
          ˃˃˃ STUDIO MCGEE: website & instagram
          ˃˃˃ FARMHOUSE ON BOONE: website & instagram

          N A T U R A L   &   P L A S T I C   F R E E
          Some of you may know that I'm passionate about simple, slow and sustainable living.  In the past few years I slowly implemented lifestyle changes with those goals in mind.  I started the zero waste community SLC Zero Waste, I researched and read a lot of books about sustainable living.  Books and research papers provide a depth of information that cheerful videos and blogposts rarely can.  I feel strongly, that avid reading about sustainability is important to develop an educated view of the topic instead of repeating someone else's findings.  Finding ones own understanding of  sustainability will make it easier to implement certain aspects into daily habits.  
          I'd like to share some of the special books that I read this year.
          My first recommendation is Deborah Eden Tull's book The Natural Kitchen.  This little book was lend to me be someone at work that I don't know very well.  I remember Kira handing it to me and saying, "You strike me as someone who would really enjoy reading it."  She was right.  The book eloquently presented ways to go about sustainability issues that were new to me and it reaffirmed thoughts that I was never able to articulate that well in a conversation!  It's a really gentle guide to sustainability, teaching that everything is connected and that mindfulness is important to achieve long-term sustainability, rather than convenience and short-sightedness.

          Another summer read of mine was RenΓ©e Loux's Easy Green Living.  Even as a conscientious consumer, obsessive zero waster, and environmental advocate, it was not until reading this book that I realized how much more plastic is is hiding in plain sight in so many areas of my life.  It's quite shocking to realize this and then begin to understand what consequences it can have for my health and the well being of the planet.

          As an asthmatic VOC's from plastic materials should have been on my radar to improve indoor air quality, but I did not understand the scope of the problem before reading this book.  Now, I'm looking to make changes in a slow and responsible manner: phasing out plastics when old things break or become obsolete and for new purchases I like to avoid plastics whenever possible and opt for natural materials instead.

          Shortlist of my 2018 book recommendations:
          ˃˃˃ THE NATURAL KITCHEN by Deborah Eden Tull
          ˃˃˃ EASY GREEN LIVING by RenΓ©e Loux
          ˃˃˃ LIFE WITHOUT PLASTIC by Ja Sinha and Chantal Plamondon
          ˃˃˃ SOULFUL SIMPLICITY by Courtney Carver

          L O N G E V I T Y    &   C U R A T I O N
          This next idea is about slow living.  I've been thinking how it would be like to curate my belongings to be all special, beautiful and loved.  Sentimental items, as opposed to generic, inexpensive basics that are to an extend also disposable.  Already, I like to keep my belongings pretty minimal.  I'm happier this way.  I'm less irritated and much more contented in a space that's simple and practical.

          Over the last couple of years, my husband and I edited down our possessions so that all of them could fit into the bed of our pickup truck.  We are at a point where we're pleased with what we have and were we aren't actively looking to declutter more.  Sure, some things are in a 'this is perfect for now stage', but mostly we are happy with the things we have and we're contented with our setup.  With many of our things I see that we would hold on to them for longterm.

          In minimalism it's easy to talk about purging, decluttering and downsizing and your income really determines what items can become disposables.  I like to live simply and sustainably and the choices I make with my belongings need to reflect that.  Is this a disposable and should it be, I might need to be a question to consider with each purchase or when adding something to my life.  I already know that many of my belongings aren't disposable, but there are also lots of things that aren't here to stay with me.  

          It does not bring me joy when I think about all the times I decluttered my jewelry box and knowing how very few items are truly special to me.  The same goes for how frequently I donate pieces from my closet, while knowing that only a handful of pieces are always in rotation.  I'm at a point where I'm no longer wish to buy a temporary solution that will most likely get decluttered at some later time.  I'm looking for something special.

          An example for a special curation piece is the gold coin necklace I received as a birthday gift from my husband this year.  It's a special everyday necklace that I can enjoy and keep for a lifetime.  

          Now how do I want to go about this.  First off, for me getting more in tune with slow living means putting the breaks on making purchases.  This sounds easy enough, but it goes against how our society functions, how women make a home etc and, frankly, it just takes a lot of discipline to break away from consumer habits.  Over the last few years I've become better at making mindful and practical purchases.  With the concept of slow living in mind, acquiring things for true longevity means that I have to let go of achieving 'perfection' or finishing something in a certain time frame.   

          How long does it take to create a simple life?
                    Not long, just get a dumpster and throw away all your clutter. 😦
          How long does it take to implement zero waste practices at home?
                    Not long, just get a dumpster and throw out all your single use, plastic and  
                    unsustainable belongings and then spend a fortune to purchase sustainable 
                    replacements.  😱

          All done in no time and the results are totally instagramable. 😱😱😱

          I'm being facetious with these answers, but these sarcastic remarks hint at some big problems that come with implementing a new lifestyle.  A mess of waste is created and lots of new purchases are encouraged.  Wasn't it consumerism that created the mess in the first place?  The mess we want to change when we implement a more simple and sustainable lifestyle?  How does the answer to a problem always say to buy, buy, buy?  There is a bit of broken logic here that I just can't quite explain.

          I'm not saying that I'm against new purchases.  But I'm suggesting that going slowly and phasing things out as they break might be a more responsible way of dealing with our belongings and that time will provide the space to make informed decisions.  In weeks, months or years, it's possible to find the time it takes to be intentional with each purchase.

          I'm still learning to slow down.  It's difficult to be still and contend and to take things slow.  On the plus side, I've discovered that the lack of incoming goods compels me to get creative with the things I own.  And that's been quite exciting.  

          Instead of adding to my life, finding creative ways in which I switch things up, fix it, make it pretty or exciting again is just as rewarding.  In my college dance classes I learned to look at art to inspire my own creativity.  For example, looking at the colors of a breathtaking piece of art to find a color scheme for a project that's completely different.  This technique has been very helpful for me to create a life in with things that are beautiful and special.  I look at art, architecture and fashion for color schemes or visions.  I look to certain brands for inspiration, not because I like to purchase a lot of their goods but to get ideas.  

          This fall I have been looking for styling inspiration to SΓ©zane, and I'm getting inspired to dress more feminine, try monochrome looks or wearing a cardigan as a sweater or wearing that cardigan backwards.  😜 

          This all really freshens things up for me.  The pieces in my wardrobe are the same, but the way I'm wearing them is different.

          Links to brands whose aesthetic I enjoy:
          ˃˃˃ SΓ‰ZANE: website & instagram
          ˃˃˃ PAMELA CARD: website & instagram

          Interesting article about materialism: 

          M U S I C 
          I like classical music and I love the the rise and big sound of a full orchestra, but I don't always like bluegrass.  I have been enjoying GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV's music.  Maybe it's this specific singers unique voice or the poetry of his lyrics that sucked me into the sound of these songs.

          Also, I'm not usually forthcoming if someone asked me which music I like or if they could put on some songs I enjoy.  Usually, I don't feel comfortable playing playing the songs I enjoy for a crowd.  I know it annoys people that ask what music (or if I like any music at all) and it frustrates my husband.  I definitely go through through phases of listening to music and enjoying silence, getting sick of songs or artists, discovering new music or rediscovering old favorites.  

          Also, as a teenager and in my early twenties, I had a lot of fun listening to HANSON.  In the past few years I've put their music on pause.  It didn't struck a cord anymore.  Recently though, I have been getting excited about their upcoming record.  Maybe it's because it's recorded with a symphony orchestra.

          The following player has a little playlist:

          A D V E N T U R I N G
          I'm happiest when I'm feeling well and when I'm actively learning and exploring.  I get excited about traveling or even going on mini day or weekend adventures in the area where I live.  I love a national and state parks and have been to quite a few of them in the past few years.  I like exploring new cities too but for me, nature is where it's at.

           HORSESHOE BEND, Utah

          And you really never know about all the cool places until you go out and explore.  I don't get to adventure as much as I like.  I'm not the bravest or healthiest, but mostly I simply don't have the funds for grand adventures.  To travel more and further away from where I currently live seems largely irresponsibly in this season in my life.  Having fun on credit doesn't sound fun.  
          To make small adventures happen, I'm seriously considering adding the 52 Hike Challenge to my new years resolutions for the coming year. 

          At the moment I enjoy travel Youtube channels that explore nature all over the US.  These videos might show some places I've visited, but most of the time, I get to learn about different parts of the country and what adventures are to be had there.

          Links to adventurer's I like to follow:
          ˃˃˃ KEEP YOUR DAYDREAM: YouTube
          ˃˃˃ LESS JUNK, MORE JOURNEY: YouTube

            ♡ Nina