For the past several months, I’ve made a significant effort to reduce my plastic usage — and while it’s hard to go completely plastic-free, I’ve found it pretty easy to find reusable alternatives for some every day items that contribute to a ton of plastic waste.
Growing up in California, in a family that loves camping and backpacking to get away from the crowds, has made it easy to see the impact humans have had on our environment — you wouldn’t believe how much plastic trash has found its way into the most remote parts of the world.
But it’s also easy to forget how much plastic you buy and throw away on a daily basis — a bottle of soda here and there, your medication, and even your regular grocery items like coffee and milk! So I thought I’d pull some of my favorite reusable, non-plastic alternatives that I started purchasing to help me remember to waste less, and avoid buying plastic altogether.
Note on shipping: When it comes to reducing your plastic usage, it’s also a good idea to think about where you get your products. You’ll see some Amazon links in here for convenience, but Amazon tends to send you a large box filled with plastic packaging that isn’t suited to what you’ve ordered. Eco-conscious shops, on the other hand, ship with really thoughtful packaging that uses zero plastic (and honestly, is designed so well, it’ll make you smile).
I know I’m not alone when I say I’ve never experienced anything quite like this — I definitely remember H1N1, SARS and MERS, but it’s almost surreal to go through an international threat like this.
With everyone working from home and social distancing, I’ve been trying to use my extra down time to write more, practice illustrating, and creating art. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ve resolved to take some online yoga classes, pick up meditation, and document the travels I’ve left mostly unwritten in the past year or two — because hopefully when things are back to normal, we can go back to exploring this beautiful world.
In the meantime, a playlist — all of my favorite tunes for the month, to get you dancing, singing, and focused on the future.
We’ve all been there — moving is no joke. And while I recently moved in with my bf (who deferred all design decisions to me, thank god), my former roommate, Emily, was moving into a new apartment with virtually no furniture. While moving can be the perfect reset opportunity to your own style, it can get overwhelming pretty quickly. So she enlisted me to help.
Online shopping gives me life (even when I’m not the one buying things), so I jumped at the chance to help her decorate her new space. Since I’m pretty obsessed with design and decor, helping Em was a treat — instead of decorating one new home, I got to decorate two! So we huddled up and got to work. I filled a Google doc with all the cute things I could find on the internet within her set budget range.
I figured some of these gems would make a cute little graphic, so here are a few of the things I recommended for a classic, light and airy, natural feeling living room setup (plus, some extra splurges that I’d like to get myself).
Her apartment has tons of natural light, and Emily was set on becoming a crazy plant lady (which has already begun, as she adopted lots of large plants from a friend moving across the country). With that in mind, I wanted to include some warm woods, light-colored surfaces, and clean lines to keep things feeling modern, but also cozy and expensive.
Let’s talk about bread. And let’s talk about life.
For those of you who go way back with me — you’ll already know that Arabic classes took up the majority of my time in college. I met some of my favorite people, discovered my favorite foods, and daydreamed about someday living in the Middle East, basking in the heat and eating my weight in mana’eesh.
But something that we learned early in our intro courses was the word for bread: khubz. And in the Egyptian dialect, there was a synonym for bread — the same word you used for life: aishe.
Having just moved into a new house, I can speak from firsthand experience that figuring out what to hang on the walls can take the longest — especially when you want to share meaningful artwork.
I’ve recently begun buying artwork while traveling — but honestly, I haven’t done it enough! So in a pinch, I love turning to sites like Etsy and Society6 to supplement my artwork. Plus, supporting other artists like myself feels good.
Since I’ve been spending so much time browsing artwork (without committing enough to actually pull the trigger on any), I figured I’d share some of my favorites with you here. Hope you enjoy my alternate names for them 🙂
Two days in a row! We are on such a roll over here.
One of my favorite things to do, back in my Sweetsonian days, was creating playlists — ya know, back at the desk job when you listen to Spotify nonstop, before my life was taken over by conference calls.
Well, as a freelancer, I’m rarely at in-person meetings, and I spend 90% of my days on my own — and silence is the enemy these days. Insert my beloved Sonos + Spotify.
While I haven’t been blogging or sharing monthly playlists, you better believe I’ve been still building them — so here goes. Chill vibes for headphones at your desk, or unwinding to in the privacy of your living room.
Just about a year ago, Emily and I decided that our big trip would just have to be to Vietnam. She had never been to Asia (and the only Asian country I had been to was Singapore, which is basically “Asia light”), and we wanted a big, two-week trip to push us out of our comfort zones and help us really escape the grind that’s been life in DC.
So we did it. And oh, did Vietnam push our comfort boundaries. To start, we were a little worried about the flight situation — DC to LA is 6 hours, LA to Tokyo was 14, and then Tokyo to Ho Chi Min City was another 7 hours. So to say the least, we were trying to find all the hacks in the world to make this bearable (fwiw — this hack was a game changer for me).
It’s been a while since I’ve fallen hard for a city — and Singapore really was it. I had been putting off an Asia trip along the line of reasoning that the flights were too long and I’d want more time than a job in the US would allow for. Two weeks of vacation simply wouldn’t be enough.
But it’s been almost 4 years since I last switched jobs, and I’ve never been in a place where I could just take 3 months off — and a decent flight deal to Singapore made it feel just right. Singapore isn’t a city where you’d feel like you’re diving head-first into Asia; as a former British colony and a major business hub throughout the world, you’ll find so many of the amenities you’d miss while traveling in less developed countries. In fact, there were moments when it barely felt like I had left the US, but then, you turn a corner and are reminded that you’re enveloped by a completely different world.
Anyway, more on the specifics of why I loved Singapore later. But in the meantime, here’s my go-to list of places to stay, things to eat, and views to explore on a short trip to Singapore.
I never thought the Bahamas would be one of my favorite destinations. Never.
The Bahamas always conjured up old 90s commercials for Sandals or Club Med resorts — and in my 20s and 30s, I always imagined my taste for travel transcended that. But the day after the 2016 election, I couldn’t bear the thought of being in DC for inauguration weekend, so Emily and I did a quick flight search for planes departing DC that Thursday, and lo and behold — the Bahamas was the cheapest international option. So… we booked it.
We also booked domestic flights from Nassau separately, and while I desperately wanted to swim with pigs in Exuma, the flights to Eleuthera were shorter and cheaper — $60 each way for a 20 minute flight. So we did some research, found a great Airbnb, and decided to hit up Eleuthera instead.
It’s been a hell of a summer, and I leave for Singapore on a much needed, long awaited vacation — tomorrow.
“You’ve been catchin’ feels, I’ve been catchin’ flights” are the words that really kick this playlist off, and those words couldn’t describe more perfectly how I feel about so many pieces of life right now.
Whether it’s your cool down after a long run, your anthem as you leave the office, or (my personal fave) the perfectly timed drop for when the jets fire up for take off — this is my playlist for calming down after a crazy summer, and getting in the mood for less humidity, red wine, and shorts + sweater weather. Summer might be ending this weekend (in concept, if not in temperature), and as someone who didn’t take any time off this summer, I can say with confidence that I’m ready to bid it a sweet, sweet goodbye.
Listen to this on a plane or at the office. Hopefully they calm your nerves and get you to a good place, even if you ran out of fucks at 11 am.