Monday, August 31, 2015

My KonMari Journey: A Method to Organize Your Home Once- And Never Again

Are you constantly organizing with no progress? Do you go through massive "organize-a-thons" that fizzle out before you finish, leaving a destroyed, half-organized home in your wake? Is your progress never sustained? You're not alone. I am constantly going through my items and donating things, striving to be a minimalist that knows where every. single. item is for efficient working. Over the years I've donated and sold hundreds of items, but the process is never finished!

Lately I've felt the weight of my organizing burden more than ever. I need the organizing to be done so I can do what matters as I'm already busy with work and school. My mind's been so twisted in knots over it that it's hard to sleep. The process had to be re-evaluated, it was not working.

"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" is a best-seller first in Japan, then in Europe and the US. Over 2 million copies have sold and it's been published in 30 countries. Time Magazine put Marie Kondo on their 100 most influential people list for 2015. My local library has over 150 holds on this book! The hook of her book; once you learn and implement her method, you're organizing is done forever. You never revert back to mess, you never have to tidy again.

The book had been on the periphery of my mind for a few months now. Being at the nadir of my clutter crisis, thoughts of the book moved front and center. I knew it was the final step I needed to put my organization to bed. I've already donated hundreds of items and sold off a business that wasn't right for me. It's easy for me to let go of things, this ability was trained by years of selling everything I could to keep my business as a vintage seller going. But I was moving the little I had left from one spot to another with little progress. I needed the next level of decluttering magic.

The genius of Marie's method is the simplicity. There are three steps:

1) Tidy in One Quick Shot, as Quickly and Completely, As Possible
2) Sort by Category, Not By Location
3) Selection Criterion: "Does it Spark Joy"?

You go catergory-by-catergory, and pile every single item you own in that category (books, clothes, etc.) in front of you. You go through each item one-by-one and you hold it to determine if it "Sparks Joy". If it makes you happy, you keep it, if it doesn't, you get rid of it. When you're done with a category, neatly put away your items stacked vertically so you can see every single item at-a-glance.

I read the book to near-completion at pg. 153, reading from 12am to 4am non-stop!

It was hard to sleep after reading her book because I wanted to declutter non-stop until her method was complete! I took notes on time and photos along-the-way (some were lost when my phone was stolen + my camera is currently on the fritz, but I salvaged what I could) this is my KonMari Method Journey. I set a deadline of 3 days because I wanted to go on my mini-vacation to visit Ruth in Orlando with a clear mind and clutter-free home:

Day 1: Clothing) August 19, 2015: 12:00PM to 5:53PM

Figuring out what "sparked joy" was hard. I played ambient noise as Marie suggested in the book because music or TV could interfere with our intuition.  I'm used to keeping clothing based on whether the fit is flattering and it was hard to overcome that. I went back and removed even less than what I kept initially the next day because I knew I kept items that didn't "spark joy" because I thought I'd like it later or the fit was good. I learned from this exercise than an item "sparks joy" when it makes you feel as happy as when you first bought it AND there are no doubts (like, 'I don't like the color', or, 'it's too worn') what so ever. My wardrobe is minimal but more satisfying because I adore every single item.
 * * * 
Day 2: Books) August 20, 2015: 12:26PM to 1:52PM 

I went to 3:40 PM here when you count cleaning the shelves and putting them away (+ a stop to snack.)

First I laid them all on the floor, then I piled them by Kondo's suggested categories:

General (books you read for pleasure) - 32 books
Practice (references, cookbooks, etc.) - 121 books (whole living / school books / self-improvement)
Visual (photographs, collections, etc.) - 27
Magazine: 68

I went from 248 books to 68 magazines to 48 magazines. I wanted to get rid of more but I do actively reference a lot of the whole living books for school. I do want to read then sell as many as these as possible in the months to come.

Looking back on the books in my categories and what I kept was interesting. Marie Kondo says her method one for self-discovery and that's part of the genius of it. What you keep, what sparks joy, helps you discover who/what you really are and where you passion lies.

Day 2: Papers) 3:40 PM to 5:38 PM 

Add another 22 minutes to get all the cat fur off of my storage box! Done by 6PM!

Papers was one of the easiest tasks for me. I got them all down from two IKEA storage boxes to one.

For papers you use the following method. Dispose of anything not in these 3 categories:

1) Currently in Use
2) Needed for Limited Time
3) Must be Kept Indefinitely

A lot of the papers were school work (my Master Herbalism paperwork pile is surely over 200 papers strong) and a bit of work for my business that I have to keep for now. I write e-books/homework/etc in my compositions books on-the-go, so those will be consolidated into the computer in the months to come.

NOW when I pull out my paperwork box I can see everything at a glance and it's made me much more productive. I just pull out whatever papers/notebooks I need and get to it rather than rooting through the paper-mess-pile in two boxes!

Day 2: VHS/DVD/CD) 9:32PM to 10PM

This one was SO easy, I'd already deeply purged this collection (from shelves full) over a year ago.

VHS: Went from 16 to 5
Video Games: 17 to 16 (can't believe we have that many! This includes both my roomie's games.)
CDs: 11 from 14
DVDS: 21 to 10

Day 2: Accessories) 

I only have two necklaces and one charm so...done!

Day 2: Make-up/Body Care) Not Done 'Til 3AM

And then I kept finding more, and more, and more...

Before I started Herbalism school all I had in this category was my homemade toothpaste and some Dr. Bronner's soap. This task went on forever now that I have tons of random things from school to organize: tinctures, salves, medicated sprays and scrubs, and-on it went. This was my least favorite part of the process because my heart wanted to just throw it all away but I had to keep it all for school and work. I only have about 3 lipsticks and one mascara, rarely used, but all made in school, so I kept them.

 * * * 

Day 3: Electronics) 8/21/2015: 9:48 AM to 10:54 AM

I awoke tired and achey from sleep deprivation and the constantly moving of stuff; but bound and determined to complete the method! Electronics was easy, again, I didn't have much. I love seeing all the cords standing up on the box so I can easily grab my charger, etc. as needed!

Day 3: Household Equipment) 11:57 AM to 12:54 PM (put the household stuff away by 2:43PM)

This includes stationary, writing materials, sewing kits, tools, etc. This one was a little painful because I even organized my screw/nails/thumbtacks.

Day 3: Gardening Equipment) 

I wrote that I was 1/2 done with gardening by 3:06 PM. It helped to have a sink of soapy water and essential oils on stand-by for cleaning kitchen and garden stuff as I went from this point on. All the pots I chose to keep were cleaned, dried, and neatly stacked away and I added my gravel and dirt all to one bag instead of  having a clutter of multiple near-empty bags in my gardening supply box. By 3:18 PM I was done and the garden supplies were stored.

Day 3: Kitchen Supplies) 3:35 PM to 5:19 PM

By this time I was working as fast as possible, knowing what "sparked joy" was second nature. The kitchen supplies in a pile was a daunting sight so I wanted the process over quickly! The day had flown by and I was determined to stick to my deadline. By 5:19 I'd cleaned out my drawers and cabinets with rosemary and orange essential oil, put my items neatly back into the cabinets and swept the floors. I'd also washed/dried items along the way if necessary and organized my tea bags (!!!) so that they were all neatly standing in a tray.

As I sat on the floor in the middle of a hurricane of scattered kitchen utensils, AJ's tall frame cautiously approached from the shadow hallway. He interrupted me as I frantically moved tools, cups, and utensils from box to box:

"I don't understand what this 'method' is, or why you're doing this, but I'm sorry you're so stressed and look so tired." Dramatic pause, Bambi-eyes activated. "I love you." Sad face.

His tone was a mix of one you'd use when you've grown apart from your spouse and fear the worst... and the tone you'd use when you're talking someone down from the edge of a building. Since I'd started the method I'd stopped decluttering only to eat, go to school, or for urgent work tasks. Sleep, spending time with AJ and assuring him I wasn't insane, both put on the back-burner. I explained, for possibly the 4th time in those three days,

"I'm doing all this now so we can spend all the time together afterwards! Trust me! This will work! Our lives will change forever! We will NEVER HAVE TO TIDY AGAIN AFTER THIS!" 

He started to walk back to the bedroom and away from the chaos "Wait, come back! WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE ME!?"

Day 3: Art Tools) 5:22 PM - 5:41 PM / Biz Tools: 5:40 - 6:28 PM

Determined to get back to normalcy, I plowed forward as fast as possible. From AJ's perspective, I was a crazy woman in the living room taking ALL of our shit out of every drawer, putting them in a pile on the floor, asking myself (sometimes outloud) if they "spark joy" (which is crazy-talk) all while barely eating or sleeping for nearly three days straight. If I didn't finish soon, he'd Baker-Act me! I've already been crafting more since stacking my supplies so they're all visible- love it!

I was tired as hell and did this one at lightning speed! By this time, I was a pro at feeling out what "Sparks Joy". The method really is genius for that! From 6:10 PM to 6:28 PM I organized my donations and threw out some things, then left to the dollar store for boxes and supplies.

Day 3: Pantry) 8:08PM to 8:22 PM

I used shallow trays from the dollar store to organize the food in our pantry ( not a lot, we all keep it minimal with bulk goods) and now cooking is even funner! And we're eating up some stuff we forget we had hidden in the back.

Day 3: Personal Momentos) 11:44 PM to 12:00 AM

The momentos was actually done very quickly, I don't have much put thought into what to keep or not, "spark joy" feeling was 2nd nature. I  kept going until 12:45 AM, clearing up and doing final sorting.

I doesn't look like a lot, but it was jam-packed in those boxes! This doesn't include the trash, either!

Donation Pile) 12:29 PM - 4:05 PM !

I decided to host a yard sale so I went through my pile grouping items after my trip. It's a good thing I did this because I would have donated the printer cord I needed!  The only reason I didn't donate the pile on Day 3 is that I was too physically exhausted to force myself to carry the boxes downstairs to my car.

* * * 

KonMari Method Take Aways:

  • The process of going through what "sparks joy" and what doesn't makes me a better designer. I refine better.
  • The very next day, first thing, I looked a picture I had out of my mom from the 70s and BAM- my new brand name and design, the one that's not "been right" and has tortured me since November of last year, came to me instantly! A clear home = clear mind! + ...
  • ...Having your muses easily at hand is the only way they can be accessed so they can inspire you. (Versus having them buried.)
  • I want to do little things I couldn't do before because I was always organizing/couldn't find things/couldn't decide on type of item: write snail mail to people, wrap-up random presents for friends, even actually celebrate holidays!
  • If you have bad decision paralysis (like me, mine is crippling) choosing what "sparks joy" helps you hone decision making skills. I am more decisive! Thank God!
  • I'm working hard, happily, and effortlessly, not having to stop to "find" things
  • I feel more inspired, being surrounded only by the very best and none of the rest. This process would help you find yourself, your path, and refine your style.

Unexpected lessons learned:

- You can keep things you love in boxes and cabinets without diminishing their value. I used to think you had to display everything decorative to appreciate it, but that's overwhelming visually. I have my favorite toys in the top of my closet now and it makes me happy every time I open it.

Closing Thoughts:

I want to do this method for EVERYONE. All of my friends. My business partners and clients that are having the same problems with clutter, my family; everyone needs this method and this book! I even want to recommend it to clients when I start working as an herbalist. I feel like this method is the first step toward improving your health and starting a fresh new chapter in your life. I still have a couple of things to do (the wall art needs to be picked through and re-hung, then the cars, fridge, and AJ's stuff) and I'm so excited to keep going! I'll update with the after of how I stacked the items in drawers according to the method, "afters" of people I help with the method, and more detailed information next time.

Feel free to ask any questions! I know it's an epic post but I wanted to share every aspect of this journey, I've sought the results the method brings my whole life and I'm excited to finally have it!

Have you tried the method? I'd love it if you share your journey (with links if you have them) in the comments
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Friday, August 28, 2015

Wekiwa Marina Orlando Adventure: Ghosts, Bad Luck, Sunshine, Fate and Friends.

I had a lovely trip to the Winterpark/Orlando/Wekiva area of central Florida this past weekend. Marianne and I went to visit Ruth for her birthday. (We haven't seen her since the last trip about a year ago!) I loved it despite a Bad Luck Spirit following our every move! First, my cell phone was stolen, then Ruth's fiance, Huy, accidentally hit AJ's car (which I'd borrowed, he didn't even care when I told him, by the by, I love that guy) backing out of the driveway (he was sober). After that, we decided to stay in watching movies instead of going out to drink. (No more ammunition for the Bad Luck Spirit!) We watched terrifying short horror films on YouTube then freaked each other out with "real-life" ghost stories (Huy's ghost stories from Vietnam...terrifying.) We discussed the possibilities of fate (Marianne, Ruth, and I have been best friends since about age 10 and all of our moms were adopted, just one of many interesting coincidences); it was a beautiful night of bonding.

The next day, after the creepy convos, it was nice to spend a day in the sunshine! The Wekiva Marina near Ruth's house in Orlando was absolutely gorgeous. I've never seen such a stylish hangout by a river, they're usually just rustic, not the contrived (beautiful) set-up I witnessed that day. I loved the tin juxtaposed with aged turquoise painted wood and nautical touches; a lot of money and a designer's eye went into making the place look so consistent. You can have a beer at the bar, grab lunch, rent kayaks or just sit on the ledge with your feet in the water, enjoying your drink.

This spot was dog-friendly so I was enjoying the hell out of petting everyone's animals and swimming with dogs ones brave enough to jump in to the river. Beautiful, friendly dogs everywhere and swimming, my version of heaven. It was thee perfect way to end an interesting weekend!

Even the bathrooms were perfectly designed!

I didn't bring my SLR, didn't want to risk that getting lost or damaged too, so these photos are a mix from Ruth's camera phone that I edited in post and images from this website! If you're ever in the area, it's a fun spot to stop in and relax at! And it was a much-needed break for relaxing with old friends. I worked non-stop leading up to the trip and after. I love working hard, then playing hard, the fun feels much more earned. Next year for Ruth's 30th we're plotting a giant, epic adventure. Time to start saving up! Our next plotted adventures on the agenda: Weeki Wachee Springs (retro with live mermaid performances), Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, and South Florida Weekend visit!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Little Things That Make Life Special: Minis I Covet From Etsy Right Now

Now that my home is blissfully, finally, completely clutter-free (nope, I cannot shut up about that Kon Marie method, hopefully my epic "Kon Marie Journey" post on Monday will put it all to rest!) I feel confident slowly brining in little pieces that can make it complete. Here are the little bits I'm into right now, they're little details that make a package, present, or home a bit more special:

1) Cement Camera Planter a beautiful little piece I'd love to fill with propagated succulents
2) Tiny fortune cookie charm necklace The only jewelry I'm drawn to are silver with tiny charms.
3) Vintage Skin Sign I may have to re-create this for my soap booth, perfect!
4) Spirit Guides Print Gorgeous and creative
5) Vintage Display Case Perfect for keeping collections/supplies protected and dust-free.
6) Jellyfish Anatomy Chart it would go with my identical cuttlefish one
7) Japanese Monsters Only $2! Must have for my packages/presents/letters/all-the-things.
8) Ceramic Sponge Rest this is brilliant and beautiful. Eco-friendly, extends sponge life.
9) Do Not Bend I'm collecting stamps for my soap packages. Oh, details! They fill me with glee.
10) Swimmers I love night swimming! I want to do it every night.
11) Lovers Sleeping Want this above the bed. Makes me smile and think of AJ.
12) Abstract Art Piece into obtaining/making abstracts lately.
13) Ceramic Pottery and learning ceramics is definitely on my to-do list!
14) Neko Stickers more stick details for letters/presents/packages
15) Conservatory this looks like my dream apothecary/greenhouse/store/creative space. One day.
16) PDFS I need these prints for wrapping orders/organizers! These .pdfs could work.
17) Fish Print I adore the juxtaposition of colors in this print. Beautiful.
18) Mod Wrapping Paper More wrapping paper I'd use for gifts/orders
19) Ultimate "details" piece! Japanese library label stickers! Again, for orders/gifts/letters.

I use Etsy every day for work so I'm always "window shopping" gorgeous handmade/vintage on there, but never buying. I'm looking forward to supporting my fellow artists and getting well-loved packages in the mail soon! (And of course, shipping out cute packages of my own. I worked from 12:30PM TO 4:00AM STRAIGHT last night on the biz, shit's getting did! I am Working Day and Night. and love it! Don't look at my face anytime soon, the under-eye bags, they're atrocious.)

And now, off to catch-up on a boat load of homework for Master Herbalist, Advanced Aromatherapy, and Pet Aromatherapy! And then hopefully some product photos, the client product photo editing! Caffeine and focus time!

What have you been saving for/coveting lately? For me right now, it's obviously all about the small details! I have a round-up of whole living wants coming up next. Making lists keeps me inspired to raise income!
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Monday, August 24, 2015

A Special Vintage Giveaway: Transformers, Kawaii from Japan and Ninja Turtles

As I hinted in Friday's post, I non-stop KonMari'd my home for 3 days straight. Determined not to let it take more precious hours of my work (and play) I plowed through for 15.5 hours straight on the final day! I'll have a full post on the experience and how amazing it was Monday next week, but hint, if you haven't done it yet and want to never "tidy" and "organize" your piles of junk again for the rest of your it! Buy the book on this method, you won't regret it!

I'll expand later, but the KonMari method works for everyone because you go through all of your possessions category by category and purge every single thing that doesn't "Spark Joy." I thought I would never understand what it felt like for any object to literally "Spark Joy" for me, the ability wasn't honed the first day, but now, it's second nature. This is how I was finally able to break it down:  You know an item Sparks Joy when you hold it in your hands and it gives you the exact same excitement it did when you first bought it. BUT in order to keep it, this item must Spark Joy AND produce no doubts in your mind.

And this is hard, you won't have a lot of items like this.

The first couple days I kept a lot of items with small doubts for one reason or another, but by the third day, I knew I had to let them go! I'm going to sell the rest of my wares at a flea market and and a yard sale, but these items, I cannot donate or sell. They all spark joy for me and they're just dear to my heart, and I want someone who will adore them to inherit them. This giveaway includes:

1) The Grooviest 1970s sweater you ever saw
2) Ceramic maneki neko kitty cat
3) Banner I bought in a 100-yen store in Okinawa Japan
4) Vintage classic Ninja Turtles Game Board and Numble Game Board
5) Small Transformer
6) Custom-upcycled "Hooked on Energon" Transformers t-shirt, cut into a flattering tank
7) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Coming Out of Our Shells Tour Behind-the-Scenes

I hate donating vintage to thrift stores because more than once while I've done it, the worker BROKE THE ITEMS BEFORE MY EYES by throwing them in a bin! A beautiful vintage item can survive for decades, then 2 year with me, just to be obliterated before me, it's such a profound waste! I'd rather give them away then put them into the trash the long-way. (Here, the items go to the Goodwill by-the-pound store and then the landfill if it'd not bought!)

To Enter:

- Leave a comment telling me your favorite scent :)

For Extra Entries:

- Leave another comment that counts for another entry if you follow me on Twitter
- Leave another comment that counts for another entry if you follow me on Facebook
- Leave another comment that counts for another entry if you follow me on Instagram
- Leave another comment that counts for another entry if you follow me on BlogLovin'
- Leave another comment that counts for another entry if you follow my new Etsy Shop
- Leave another comment with the Transformers Universal Greeting for another entry :D!

So About That VHS...

My dad bought home the VHS for the "Coming Out of Our Shells" tour one day and I loved the hell out of it! I still know the songs by heart, and really, for something made to babysit the children of exhausted parents, the music is pretty good. April 'O Neil in the show has some serious pipes and is a legit stage performer. Re-watching it ironically as an adults is funny for the following gems:

(1) Dancing hula-skirt gator (just go with it) gets her tail caught on a trap door on stage (2) The Shredder's costume looks like cardboard + aluminum foil (3) In a bid to make the cheap costume work, The Shredder has triangle eyebrows.(4) The Shredder sings about hating music- say that out loud; it will make even less sense (5) An interlude with the Shredder "playfully" insulting the audience that could actually put the kids in therapy. When Shredder says "Tell you MOM to meet me backstage!" and "Is that your cousin? What? Couldn't get a real date?" Magic happens. (6) Splinter's egregiously bad singing voice over that doesn't match his speaking one. It's like STING doing the voice over for MR. MIAGI, (7) AND BEST OF ALL- the end of Splinter's "skipping stone" song sounds hilariously orgasmic. Hey, I re-watched this when I was 16, I have had the mind of a 12-year-old boy!

So yes, as you can see, a piece of my soul going out to one lucky winner! That VHS above is not the one from my childhood and it's the behind-the-scenes and not the show, but it's clever because it's a behind-the-scenes with the turtles in character. The performers put their all into performers that could have easily been half-assed, so of course, I love it! Watch the show on YouTube if you haven't!

I'll announce the winner this time next week. Good luck!
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Friday, August 21, 2015

Kawaii Ceramics in Japan's Beautiful 100-Yen Stores: A Cup Fetishist's Dream Shop

I'm sitting here sipping coffee from a Japanese 100-yen store (or, dollar store) coffee cup, taking a break from a grueling nearly 3-day straight home purge following the KonMari method to a T. (You can see previews on my Instagram here, here, and here.) I'll update next week, but god damn, this method really is life-changing! What better way to reflect on a job nearly complete (I will not stop until it's done. Today!) then looking back at gorgeously organized 100-yen store shelves? None other for this nerd!

I have a mug fetish. I could open a 100-yen store full of kawaii ceramics in America or even a mug museum and live a satisfied life. Then the mini-food one next to it. I am woman of weird obsessions!

I have explored the psychological reasons why I am obsessed with mugs and have arrived at three things: 1) my obsession with making fancy teas/coffee- I imagine the vessel filled with my experiments (2) My love of ceramics, making them is one of my fondest memories and I'm excited to take classes on it in the future. (3) My desire to open a cafe/tea/herb shop. It may never happen, right now is certainly not the right time, but I dream of it often.

When I made my dream trip to Japan I knew I would just let myself go in the 100-yen stores. "I may never make it back, I would bring a pretty piece of Japan back for EVERYONE!" I mentally declared. And I did.

One of my favorite pieces broke, but for the most part, I still cherish what I bought home. Seeing those ceramics on the shelves fills me with such a dorky glee. I'm excited to eventually make similar elegant (and of course, kawaii, Japanese-style dinosaurs cups, anyone?) mugs of my own in the future.

With any luck, I'll make it back to Japan to buy more.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Reader Question: What To Do When a Thrift Store Item is Priced High? + Haggling

I'm getting a lot of questions about thrifting and reselling right now and I love it! I'm using stolen time to get a helpful reselling eBook written (and many more from there!) so please, send me any and all questions, it helps me make sure I write a complete book that addressed all the common problem areas. A reader, Tracy, sent me a long list of helpful questions that I'll address in the book (good ones like, "do thrifted items need to be in perfect condition" and "is there a quick way to tell if something's worth money or in high demand?") but the following is one that comes up often:

"When you find that perfect item at the thrift store but its priced to high in your opinion. My question is sometimes I see things in a thrift store and wonder if they have priced it too high. And even if its priced fairly when should you walk away from a piece that might be at a price point where you may not make money off of it and its not worth it. That made me think of one more haha. When thrifting at your local thrift store or at a goodwill or salvation army is it in poor form to haggle or is that considered smart thrifting?"
I like to be able to at least triple the amount I paid for the item, especially for reselling! If I did the math and it didn't equal at least twice what I paid for it, I will leave it alone. I will pay more for items that are extra special to me, that I really feel like I'll treasure forever for my own collection, but not for reselling. If I felt like I would only double the profit, I might still buy the item if it was very unique and interesting.

You will get a feel for what will sell for what price the more you resell, but in the meantime,  you can also whip out your phone in the store and find the same or similar listings and see if they sold and what they sold for. You should still continue research on the norm to keep your skills for picking the right items in your chosen "genre" sharp.

Haggling is a polarizing topic, for me it definitely depends on the venue, the amount of the item, whether it's a group of items and the "feel" I get from the individual. Most vendors from my experience are not insulted if you ask for a group deal, it helps them get rid of more stock. Asking for discounts at not-for-profit organizations that benefit charities is generally considered poor taste, but if it's a big and/or costly item or a group deal you're still giving them money and I don't think it's a problem. I'll admit I've been guilty of asking for discounts on items that were $3.00 or less long ago in the past, but now I have more empathy. That person's out there trying to make money just like you, just cough up the $3.00 if you really like the item or walk away if it's not even worth that much to you. There is plenty more junk out there. Trust me!

A rule of thumb with haggling, if the store's or individual's wares are very neatly categorized, organized, and priced, they are less likely to haggle. If the wares and jumbled and you have to dig, they are usually more welcome to haggling. This is not always true, I've haggled with very tidy vendors, and I've offended "junk" dealers by trying to make lower offers, but it's something to take into consideration.

What do you do when an item is priced too high? Most of the time I take a picture to remember it if allowed, then walk away. I will buy if it's something extra special and/or necessary.
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Monday, August 17, 2015

MODify: My $5.00 Thrifted and Upcycled Home Vegan Bulk and Apothecary Shelf

I've dreamed of opening my own herb/spice/tea shop/cafe for years. Now I know it doesn't align with my life right now, and if it happens, that it won't happen for years, but my research on the subject is a daily passion. (Long-time readers might remember my frugaliTEA write-ups, I may need to resurrect that.) I love surrounding myself with my herbs and spices and keeping them accessible for daily experimentation. I adore the herb wall at my herbalism school and considered stealing a wall from my living room/dining room/office area, but luckily, I created a small one for $5.00 recently via organic osmosis!

The jars and large black basket at the bottom were from a yard sale for a combined $5.00. (Save for the larger jars, which I bought years ago from WalMart.)

The big black shelf was found in the trash on my street on the way home before I bought the small screw-top jars and it ended up being the perfect size! The black basket will be perfect for holding fruits and veggies you store outside the fridge or fruits that need to ripen.

The biggest jars at the bottom are holding beans and lentils I purchased from the bulk-buy section at a natural food store. I love having this all out and accessible versus stuffed into my cabinet. Keeping it out and visible from my work desk (the apartment's open concept, my desk is pretty much next to the kitchen) keeps my goals on-mind and visible. And it's been fun to experiment with dishes like fenugreek/ginger/fennel beans (the herbs prevent bean-bloat) or cardamom clove chia seed pudding.

The endless experimental possibilities keep me hooked on healthy living experimentation. That, and it all smells and tastes amazing! I have a list of my go-to herbs and spices here, but this shelf currently hosts: skullcap, red raspberry leaf, catnip, alfalfa, oatstraw, nettle, ginger, peppermint, crampbark, allspice, clove, red lentils, black beans, and my delicious hair growth, cold healing/prevention, and digestion/beautifying tea mixes. I'm doing my master herbalism thesis on nutritious teas and spice blends- and possibly adding that option to my business! Yum!

Past MODifies: 

-Spice Rack / New Mod Furniture Use / "Shopping" at Mom's
-Transformers Push-Pins
-Decoupage Skeleton Tray
-IKEA Hack: Professional Photography Rollerblind Set-up
-DIY Gameboard Shelves
-Mod Shopping Basket Planter
-3 Thrifty Ideas for Hanging Artwork
-Easy DIY Fabric Back-Drops

Have you been modifying any free (or close it) finds? Next on my list, some big art pieces, fixing another tray, transplanting my propagated succulent babies...
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Fresh Fruits in a Tropical Paradise: My Dream of a Grocery-Shopping Free Life

Depending on the time of the year that I visit Puerto Rico, the streets are sickeningly sweet with the scent of mango. Nearly every house in my grandparent's neighborhood has a mango tree, and the fruit is rarely eaten! It lays in the streets, rotting, roaming dogs nibble the fruit caracas. (And if you're lucky, you'll see a big, beautiful iguana partake in the fruit bounty, too!) Puerto Rico named "Rich Port" because it's abundant in life sustaining fruit, roots, starches, and the daily tropical mountain rains ensure fresh water.

While I'm visiting I always take advantage of the fruit, harvesting from family member's trees to augment breakfast, lunch, and dinner with fresh food.

Above, food made at my grandparent's house.

And I practically live off of the various smoothie stands you can find scattered around the island, I just make sure to ask that they leave out added sugar- not that it's needed.

I picked off the whip cream on this one and gave it to my brother. Cute in the photo, though.

Every time we visit my family we go to downtown Ponce to indulge in the best ice cream, period. Supposedly made from simply fresh fruit, the clouds parts and angels sign when you eat a spoonful of this stuff. It is heartbreakingly delicious.

I love buying fresh coconuts from roadside vendors. Yum!

If I lived in Puerto Rico (which I contemplate occasionally, I could become a fluent speaker pretty quickly if immersed in the language...) I wouldn't have to go grocery shopping for most of the year. I could bulk buy or order the proteins (nuts, seeds, some legumes and beans perhaps, maybe tempeh) and just thrive on the loads of fresh fruit hanging from the trees. I'd ride my bike around, harvest, and feast. Aaaand be considered the weirdest girl in the neighborhood, of course. But, nothing new there.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

DIY Natural Hair Gel in 5 Simple Steps: Organic Hair Gel for Curly, or Any, Hair Type

Hair gel can be a hard product to transition away from when you're trying to go all-natural with your products. Particularly for curly or textured hair people, it's a go-to for controlling frizz and fly-aways. Luckily, it's very simple to make an ample amount of your own, natural gel using chia seed or flax seed at home. The musilogenic seeds form their own gel when soaked in water, making them perfect for crackers, puddings, and now, surprisingly, hair gel! I used a pure flax seed gel recipe from this website and added some ingredients to promote healthy hair. This video has a variation that incorporates chia seeds. A little bit goes a long way! I find this gel especially helpful for the summer, when humidity puts your hair out-of-whack.

Steps to Make Your Flax Seed Hair Gel:

1. Measure your ingredients, you'll simply need 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of flax seeds.
2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
3. Add 1/4 cups of flax seed, reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally for 7-9 minutes. If you cook your gel for longer than 8-9 minutes you'll get less gel and a thicker texture.*

4. Immediately strain the seeds from the gel. A strainer over a bowl or measuring cup works best.

5. From there, pour your gel into your desired vessel and add any desired additives. I'd add 1 teaspoon of carrier oil at the most for moisture and 10-15 drops of essential oils for the therapeutic properties or smell.

You can use any of the oils or essential oils below to boost hair health. You can even make this gel specifically as a vessel to deliver essential oil goodness to your scalp, but it's best to simple combine the essential oil and the carrier oil for this purpose.

Carrier Oils for Hair Health: Grapeseed or Jojoba for normal hair, Avocado or Olive for dry hair

You can use any essential oil that you like, choose oils for scent alone if desired, but the following oils are especially good for the properties listed below.

Essential Oils for Normal Hair: Lavender | Lemon | Geranium | Cedarwood

EOs /Dry Hair: Sandalwood | Geranium | Clary Sage | Tamanu | Lavender | Wintergreen

EOs / Hair Loss: Rosemary | Clary Sage | Cedarwood | Sage | Lavender

Essential Oils / Oily HairLavender | Lemon | Cypress | Peppermint | Petitgrain

EOs  /DandruffWintergreen | Rosemary | Lavender | Patchouli | Sage | Thyme | Cypress | Cedarwood

EOS / Fragile Hair: Clary Sage | Lavender | Thyme | Roman Chamomile | Sandalwood | Wintergreen

EOs / Hair Growth: Thyme | Rosemary | Lavender | Ylang Ylang | Cedarwood | Basil | Western Red Cedar | Cypress | Geranium | Ginger | Grapefruit | Hyssop | Lemon | Sage

*You can experiment here if you'd like, trying for different textures, but the gel cooked for 7-9 minutes should have all the hold you need and a good texture.

As for the seeds, save them for your next smoothie! You could save them for flax crackers, too.

Sources, Websites: Chia Seed Hair Gel, Experience Essential OilOrigin of this recipe, she has a YouTube video on it, too!, A non-vegan gelatin hair gel- I made a similar one as a teen but it flaked horribly- the comments indicate hers seems to work.

Sources, Books: Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils, Advanced Aromatherapy: The Science of Essential Oil Therapy (I LOVE this one for explaining on a chemical level how/why the oils work.)

Have fun customizing your own natural hair gel.  I was close to pulling the trigger and buying some natural hair gel (not that that's a bad thing, not everyone wants to boil seeds in their kitchen and keep an expensive cabinet full of essential oils to experiment. I have my gel for sale here if that's you) but ended up easily making mine with ingredients I had on hand! I love playing in the kitchen and experimenting with new healthful products.

BTW: My new services page is up, I'll have more info later and examples later, but I'd love to collaborate with you! Also, if you're too lazy to make this gel, it's in my veeerrry unfinished preview shop for purchase.

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