Book Review: The Year of Less

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The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

Rating: ★★★★☆

This book convinced me to stop buying sh*t. That in and of itself is an accomplishment. Really. If you don’t believe me, you should see my amazon account … Yikes.

Anyways, I really enjoyed this book. One, I *love* memoirs that are narrated by the author. It just feel that authors know exactly where to put the emphasis and it just works. Ya know? I’m a big fan.

Since lockdown, I’ve been doing a lot more chores. Normally, during the school year, I barely have time to sleep, so my parents are pretty lax about my not doing chores. In lockdown, my parents have tasked me with doing the dishes most nights after dinner considering my school basically gave up on remote learning. I used to HATE doing the dishes, but oddly enough, now, I kinda like it when I’m listening to a good audiobook. Sometimes I also listen to more narrative based podcasts like Lore or This American Life. So far, I’ve listened to Make Trouble by Cecile Richards, The Year of Less by Cait Flanders, and now Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Anyways, this book actually made me kinda look forward to doing the dishes. Crazy! I know, but let that show as a testament to how good this book is.

Anyway, moving on from my tangent, I just found this book to have some, dare I say, profound insights. One of my favorite ideas Flanders talks about is asking yourself “Am I buying this for the person I am or the person I want to be?” After listening to this, I didn’t think much of it, but now I realize – this is such an important idea. I can’t tell you how many shirts, pens, and books I’ve bought thinking to myself “this is what ideal me would wear/use/read”. Like do I really want to read Pride and Prejudice? No, not really.

Here’s a tidbit of information from The Year of Less I want to share with you all: a shopping ban is more like a browsing ban. Think about all the notifications you receive from your favorite stores. I get an email at least twice a week from LL Bean. I almost always scroll through it, imagining myself as a savvy outdoors-woman. It made me all the more inclined to purchase whatever they were advertising. The solution: stop browsing, stop window shopping (IRL and online), unsubscribe, and unfollow.

Cait totally convinced me to try a shopping ban. I’ll be writing more about that here. She also encouraged me to start decluttering. I will be headed off to college in the fall of 2021, so I want to gradually start decluttering to avoid the massive pain of rapid decluttering.

Lastly, Cait really made me think critically about myself and my finances. Like I said earlier, I’m about to go to college. That means for the most part, I’m going to be responsible for my own finances. My parents have agreed to give me a small monthly stipend for expenses when I’m away, but I still have to be a fiscally responsible *gasp* adult. Because of this honestly scary revelation, I have started tracking all of my purchases whether I spend my own money on it or not. I’m planning to do another post about this. Ultimately, my goal is to be more conscious and mindful about what I’m spending and why.

“The ban uncovered the truth, which was that when you decide to want less, you can buy less and, ultimately, need less money.”

– Cait Flanders, The Year of Less

Honestly, everyone needs to read this book. I think “seeing” someone else do it helps you feel like you can do it – you can want less, buy less, and save more.

I’m beginning a 3 month long shopping ban. I’m hoping to extend it to 12 months, but I’m starting small!

Wish me luck!

Sincerely,

Marie

the year of less

Simplicity at Its Finest

There are some things that are super simple, but when they’re made well – it makes a world of a difference. In this post, I’m rounding up totally random items that I use every day that are just super thoughtfully designed and well-made.

Pomelo Pill Dispenser

My doctor recommended keeping my meds by alarm clock so I could take them as soon as I woke up. I wanted something cute and functional – this is that. 

Kindle

I love my kindle! I’ve had mine since 6th grade – it’s the 2013 2nd Generation Kindle Paperwhite. It’s so old you can’t even buy it anymore. Kindles are amazing! If you enjoy reading, you shoud have a Kindle. They’re relatively inexpensive and last FOREVER. Reading on a phone doesn’t even compare. 

Aukey Table Lamp

I bought this lamp go on my bedside table. I needed a lamp that would cast a soft and warm light for reading at night before bed. This lamp is great for that purpose and many others. You can change the color, and when it’s set to the basic white light, you can change the brightness. Overall, this is a just a nice lamp that does it job well. Mine is in the size, large. 

Bic Cristal Pens

These pens are a classic and for good reason! They write smoothly, don’t smear or bleed. They’re great pens, and they cost like 10 cents apiece. You literally can’t go wrong.

Homtime Alarm Clock

I actually discovered this alarm clock while staying at a friend’s house. I really appreciated how easy it was to set the alarm. There was none of the constant pushing the minutes button then pushing the hour button. All you had to do is turn the dial – it’s so easy! I also like how I can change the brightness of the clock, so it doesn’t distract me when I’m trying to fall asleep. Also, it comes with 2 USB ports in the back. Bonus: you can also add batteries so if your power were to go out over night, your alarm clock would still work in the morning. 

Speck iPhone Case

Since 2016, I have used a Speck case. Sometimes, I switched to a different brand, but for the most part I’ve used Speck. They have the best slimmer cases for the price. They often have sales on their website, and often on Amazon. I drop my phone a lot, and this case has protected my phone the best and stayed intact. Honestly, if you have a phone, get a Speck case. You won’t regret it!

Leuchtturm Notebook

I started out bullet journaling using a TERRIBLE Walmart Exceed brand dotted notebook. It was a horrible, no good, very bad experience. 0/10 would recommend. My dad brought home a Leuchttrum from a conference where he received it in a swag bag. I told myself that I would wait for at least a new school year if not a calendar year to begin using the Leuchttrum. Spoiler: I didn’t wait, and I’m so glad I made that decision. Using a well-made journal made a huge difference. If you are using something every day, make sure it’s a quality item.

Oral B Genius Toothbrush

Would I have spent $130 on a toothbrush? No! Would I take a $130 toothbrush as a part of my dad’s new company insurance? Heck yes! This toothbrush is the item I never knew I needed. I have struggled with maintaining good oral hygiene. Having a toothbrush that really cleans my teeth was a total game changer for me. My teeth just feel cleaner. I love it! I would recommend a sonic toothbrush to anyone and everyone. I will never go bad to manual toothbrushes. Also, according to my dentist, you should buy one that has a built in timer and pressure alert to make sure you’re not being too harsh on your gums and teeth – so no need to shell out $100+ dollars on a toothbrush. 

Alpha Gel Kurutoga Mechanical Pencil

When I started my summer tutoring in math, I rewarded myself by buying this pencil. I have a death grip when it comes to holding pens and pencils, so I try to buy ergonomic writing utensils. I loved my original Kurutoga pencil, but the hard, unforgiving grip was incompatible with long homework sessions. I bought this pencil, and now it feels like I can write indefinitely with this pencil. Seriously, though, I don’t think my hand has cramped once when I’ve used this pencil. 

Camelbak Water Bottle

I use this water bottle everyday. When I thought I had lost it, I almost had a panic attack – that’s how attached I am to this water bottle. It suits my need perfectly! 32oz is the perfect amount – it’s not too much so that the water bottle is too heavy, yet it’s just enough so you’re not constantly refilling. 10/10 would recommend!

Sometimes, it the simple, well-made things that make all the difference.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Skincare Tip that Changed the Game

The skincare tip that Changed the game

I’m new to this whole skincare game. I learned a lot of new things for example:

  1. You can’t use salicylic acid and retinol together.
  2. You shouldn’t use cleansers with microbeads

Anyway, this has been a huge learning experience for me. I’ve been reading a lot to learn more. One tip totally changed the way I thought about washing my face.

You can wash your face twice in a row!

OK, hear me out. I have combination, acne prone skin. Gross, I know! I have super oily spots – hello T-zone! and super dry spots – around my chin and lips. It’s an interesting combination.

When I finished washing my face, I felt like my face wasn’t clean enough. I felt like my face was still oily and gunky. I felt inclined to use a harsher cleanser – something with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. But after doing some internet digging, I learned you can totally wash your face twice with a gentle cleanser like the one I use.

If after cleansing my face for the first time, I still feel dirty – then I just wash my face again. This was such a game changer for me, but I realized I didn’t need all of these fancy face brush for washing my face or harsh cleansers. I just needed to wash my face once more than usual.

After washing my face (once or twice – never more than that), I apply toner and moisturizer. Make sure you don’t end up cleaning your skin for longer than 45 seconds to 1:30 minutes.

This is so much better for my sensitive skin because I’m using far less harsh chemical and not introducing any new chemicals.

I’ll be sure to keep you all updated as I struggle through developing my skincare routine.

Sincerely,

Marie

 

My Affordable Skincare Routine for Clear Skin

 

How I Got Clear Skin_ My Skincare Routine (1)I used to be really bad at keeping up with my skincare routine. Simplifying my skincare routine made it so much so much less tiresome than it used to be! Let’s be real, I’m a bit lazy and if it’s too troublesome, I won’t do it.

Also, all of the products I use can be found at your local drugstore. I don’t use anything that costs more than $15. The most expensive part of my skincare is the retinol cream which is $75 without insurance, but with my plan it’s only about $5. You can also find other nonprescription retinol creams. Here is a link to a list of some of the best ones: from Allure, from Good Housekeeping.

This is a super simple regimen that I really like and has worked for me.

blog post 7-4-2020 skincare routine

Morning Routine

Step One

Rinse my face with warm water. I use my hands to work the cleaner into a nice lather.Then I wash my face with the CeraVe Forming Facial Cleaner ($15 for 16oz!). Occasionally, I use these silicone face scrubbers when my face feels extra gunky. You definitely shouldn’t use these everyday. This is a really nice cleanser that’s gentle.

Step Two

I use my toner, Dickinson’s Witch Hazel with Rose Water ($6 for 16oz!). This is such a classic and for good reason – it works well and is cheap! My mom has been using this stuff since she was my age!

Step Three

My last step is a moisturizer-sunscreen combination. You should look for a facial sunscreen with at least 30 SPF to actually protect your skin from the sun. Pro tip: look for products listed as Noncomedogenic. This means the product generally won’t clog your pores and most of the time are oil free. I am using the Garnier SkinActive 30 SPF moisturizer ($13). It has Vitamin C which lightens dark spots and clears acne scars. It came highly recommended on Good Housekeeping. Did you know you have to throw sunscreen every 3 years because it expires? I legit just found this out yesterday.

Night Routine No. 1

This is my night routine if I’m using my retinol cream which is most nights.

Step One

If I’m wearing makeup, before cleansing, I use Pond’s Cold Cream ($5) as a makeup remover then wipe it off with a warm washcloth (I use the directions on the back of the bottle). I use the same cleanser the exact same way. If you have sensitive skin, it’s better to use the same cleanser in the morning and night because that way you are introducing less chemicals to your skin.

Step Two

Right after cleansing, I apply retinol cream (for acne). This was prescribed by my doctor. It can strip your skin, so you have to be diligent about applying sunscreen and moisturizer. You should also limit your use of salicylic acid, a common ingredient in acne prevention products. The combination of salicylic acid and retinol will in most likelihoods dry your skin alll the way out. 

Step Three

About 20 to 30 minutes after applying the retinol cream, I use the CeraVe night moisturizer ($12). It is so nice and lightweight. It’s like a cloud kissing your skin! I can’t say enough good stuff about it! I LOVE it!

Step Four

Lastly, I put something on my lips. I use either Vaseline Lip Therapy ($4), Petroleum Jelly ($3), or the Neutrogena Lip Balm ($11). Sweet, simple, and effective.

Night Routine No. 2

This my routine if I’m not using my retinol cream.

Step One

Cleanse with CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser.

Step Two

Exfoliate with CVS Forming Grapefruit Scrub ($7). This product contain salalyic acid which is great for acne prevention, but using the combination of salalyic acid and retinol cream every day would be far too stripping and harsh. I only use this scrub one or twice a week. Additionally, this CVS scrub has plastic microbeads in it which are terrible for the environment and far too harsh to use on your face every day. I didn’t want to waste this product, so I use it infrequently. I know I just said a lot about how bad this product is, but it’s actually smells so nice and feels good when using it, so that’s why I haven’t completely eliminated it from my routine.

Step Three

Tone with Witch Hazel.

Step Four 

Depending on how I’m feeling I’ll either use Pond’s Dry Skin Cream ($5) or CeraVe Night Moisturizer. I tend to use the Pond’s Dry Skin Cream most often in the winter when my skin is hella dry.

Step Five

Apply lip balm.

Total Cost for entire routine: $86 (but that’s including 3 different lip balms which is totally unnecessary). $68 minus the lip balms.

That’s it folks! My skincare routine is super simple. It only take me about 3-5 minutes. It’s quick, affordable, and does the job well. I highly recommend these products to anyone and everyone.

Sincerely,

Marie

 

Quarantine Essentials: Snack Edition

Spending loads more time at home, has some benefits: more time exercise, spending extended periods of time with your family (it’s debatable to whether that’s a benefit or not), and much more time to spend snacking.

I have embraced this additional snacking time. Here’s what I’ve been snacking on!

Blog Post 4-11-20 Quarantine essentials home edition terra chips | unsalted almonds | strawberry jam | parm crisps | goldfish

Terra Chips

My friend, Alexa, introduced me to Terra Chips this year in our biology class. We often had bio right before lunch, so it was basically snack time. One time she shared her Terra Chips with me, and I’ve loved them ever since. Controversial opinion: I think the parsnip and sweet potato chips are better than the blue ones.

Almonds

Almonds are such a good study snack. They are great for long lasting energy and are a source of protein and healthy fat. I like to pour a small bowl of goldfish and almonds when studying.

Bonne Maman Strawberry Preserves

I love this stuff! I will never buy any other strawberry jam for as long as I will. One of my favorite snacks is toast with butter and strawberry jam. Also, one of my go-to meals is a PB+J, so this is an essential in my household. My dad exclusively eats this jam.

Honeycrisp Apples

Unfortunately, these are out of season, but when I get some, I eat so many of these. They are great by themselves or with peanut butter.

Parm Crisps

I actually discovered this in April when they showed up in my family’s Instacart order. These are fantastic! I tend to eat them straight out the bag, but you could also use them to top salads and soups.  The only ingredient in this chips is parmesan which goes to use that this isn’t a highly processed snack (like goldfish), so this is really the best you can get from chips.

Dark Cherries

Dark cherries and a lack of school are the two single best things about summer. I used to live in Seattle, and although the cherries shipped to New England can’t possibly compare to those of Washington, the ones here are pretty good too.

Raspberries

These were my childhood favorite snacks, and they are still my favorite. I love raspberries so much! Sometimes when I’m feel particularly indulgent (which is basically all the time) I add a dollop of Nutella on top of my raspberries.

Happy Snacking!

Sincerely,

Marie

Dealing with Disappointment

Yesterday, I competed in an online Congressional Debate tournament. It was States. I was so amped up and excited. I thought I had a real chance at placing in the top three. I didn’t. I got sixth.

I was incredibly disappointed, sad, frustrated, and angry. I spent the rest of the day “licking my wounds” and processing my own disappointment.

First, I yelled and screamed. That lasted like a minute because I was pretty beat from a long day of competition.

Second, I sat in bed, wallowing. My mind ran in circles beginning and ending with “What could I have done better?”, “What’s wrong with me?”, and “Why did the judges like x competitors’ speeches over mine?”

Third, I cried. I had a nice good cry. I refuse to cry in front of other people, but when I’m alone and need a release crying is a great option.

Fourth, I journaled. It was a short entry about half a page in my A5 size notebook.

Fifth, I took a nap. I genuinely think there isn’t a single problem that can’t be made better by taking a nap. I loveeeee sleeping. I think I might have been made to sleep. Sleeping is key 🔑!

Sixth, I ate my favorite snack: strawberries and Nutella. There’s nothing like your favorite snack to cheer you up when you’re feeling low. Be careful not to overeat as that might make you feel even worse. Remember: there’s NO shame in going back for seconds, thirds, fourths or even fifths!

Seven, I declared to myself and my family that I was “over it”. This declaration was helpful because I decided to be done with wallowing and self-pity (which is fine in moderation). At some point, you just have to move on, so I moved on.

Writing this post now feels cathartic and renewing. I’m letting go my disappointment and resolving to spend my time on things that will make me feel good!

Disappointment is shitty, but you’re not! You will get through this!

Sincerely,

Marie

It’s OK if you’re struggling.

it's okay if you're

It’s okay if you’re struggling. I am too.

This is a hard time. It’s hard to be productive and feel good all the time, most of the time, or even some of the time.

I struggle to focus every day. I have a hard time even starting my work, much less actually doing it. And that’s okay. We have to be kind to ourselves. It’s the only way we’re going to be able to get through this time.

Here are so ways I’m practicing being kind to myself

  1. Not beating myself up when I have an unproductive, depressed day.
  2. Eating healthy foods – so I can avoid the groggy and gross feeling I have when I eat too much junk food. Some of my current favorites are celery with peanut butter, carrots with raspberries, and orange slices.
  3. Journaling – I already have a whole post on this linked here, but this saves me every day. Having a place to air your feelings unfiltered is essential.
  4. Going on walks – Sometimes I have to force myself out of the house, but when I get outside, I feel so much better.
  5. Reading – Right now I’m reading The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. So far, I like it a lot.
  6. Crocheting – the simple repetition of crocheting helps me to quiet my mind. I also like to listen to an audiobook while crocheting. Right now I’m listening to James Madison: A Life Reconsidered by Lynne Cheney (former Vice President Dick Cheney’s wife).
  7. Writing letters – I have started pen-palling to my reverend and friend. I absolutely love it!
  8. Meditation – I can’t say enough good things about the Headspace app! It’s a gamechanger!
  9. Maintaining personal hygiene – No one wants to admit that their hygiene has fallen off a bit since social distancing began. I definitely don’t! However, taking 15 minutes to wash your face, brush your teeth, do your hair, and slap on some mascara and lip balm will make you feel soooo much better!
  10. Acceptance – accept the uncertainty and just focus on what you can do to make yourself feel better.

These are hard times. I won’t lie to you and say I’m doing well. I’m not. I’m nearly three weeks behind in my history and chemistry classes. My motivation is nonexistent, and frankly, I’m depressed. I just have to accept what is and work on making tomorrow better.

PRACTICING SELF-CARE IS THE FIRST STEP TO GETTING BETTER.

Sincerely,

Marie

The Great Outdoors + Best Hiking Equipment on Amazon

Trail to Sengekontacket Pond

I never thought of myself as particularly outdoorsy, but social distancing has changed that. I have always enjoyed spending time outside whether that was hiking, spending time in a beachside cabana, or kayaking on a lake, but I seriously HATE bugs! I would attempt to do my homework outside, but as soon as an ant crawled on my leg, it was time to pack up and go inside.

Intellectually, I knew going outside and getting those exercise endorphins were critical to my mental health. Still, I opted for TV, YouTube, and Instagram instead of a walk.

Since I’ve been stuck at home, I’ve taken more time to explore my soundings, walking down streets I’ve never been on and seeing neighbors I hadn’t seen in years.

Being outside gives yourself time to decompress. Think about all the content and information you take in every day. For me that’s YouTube videos, Instagram posts, episodes of 30Rock, music by my favorite bands, text messages, emails, news articles, homework, novels, textbook reading, and so much more. Spending some quiet time even if it’s only 10 mins can help reduce your mental clutter and leave you feeling less groggy.

Since I have been spending a lot more time outdoors and finally have the time to go hiking consistently. I decided to pick up some new gear. Here’s why I’m planning to buy and/or bought.

Number One: SPF jacket

This jacket both protects your skin from the sun and provides a lightweight layer for those cool moments in the shade. Also, it’s light even to tie around your waist or stuff into your backpack without weighing you down.

Number Two: Hiking socks

You cannot underestimate the importance of a good pair of socks. Enough said.

Number Three: Flat belt

Belts are great! I’m slim hipped, so I wear belts daily. This is a great belt in general, but is even better when hiking because it isn’t bulky and is light weight.

Number Four: Hiking boots

These came highly ranked on the Strategist, my go to website anytime I need to buy something online.

Number Five: Mosquito Repellent Balm

This is a wonder product! I was hiking in July in Camden, ME when I began to sweat off my bug spray. I had every imaginable insect buzzing around my ear. I felt like Zeus! (haha) This stuff is amazing. I lather it on to my neck and ears before hiking. Because it’s a balm it doesn’t just slide off with a little sweat. I highly recommend. Pro tip: Make sure you wash your face as soon as you get home from your hike because it will clog your pores.

Trails at Point Lookout in Camden, ME

Number Six: Hiking pants

Convertible pants are kinda dorky. I get it. But they are so so so functional! I was planting trees in Puerto Rico in the Summer of 2017 and being able to unzip my pants and wear shorts for when I got over heated was invaluable. Functionality over everything!

Planting Trees in Humacao, Puerto Rico

Number Seven: SPF shirt

Protect yo’ self! No, but seriously. Skincare is healthcare. The skin is the largest organ of your body. Take care of it.

 

Happy trails!

 

Sincerely,

Marie