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Going Vegan for February

going vegan

Photo via Unsplash

In January, I decided one of my 2018 goals is to stop overthinking things. To honor that, I’m going vegan in the month of February!

Going vegan is something I’ve talked myself out of trying for years. I’m already a part-time vegetarian, vegan-before-6 kind of gal – so why not go whole hog and see what happens? Add in that I’m in a cooking rut, the winter months always make me feel like crap, and I could use a hormonal “reset,” and you have a recipe for change.

For now, I’m committing to going vegan for a full month to see how it goes. I spent January researching recipes, trying out adaptations to my favorite foods, and getting my pantry prepared. Oh, and I ate my last cheeseburger last weekend before I say goodbye for a while.

I’ll see where I am at the end of the month and assess things from there. Even if I go back to my occasional cheeseburger, I still plan to work more plant-based meals into my life.

My husband won’t be joining me on this one – at least not full time. He worked more vegetarian meals into his life, thanks to my gold-star cooking. I’ve also tried a few vegan recipes out on him already, and he seems to like them. At this point going vegan isn’t for him, and that’s fine. He’s supportive of my doing this for me, and leaving him to his own devices when he wants some meat or cheese. I’m sure he’ll end up eating a lot of what I cook anyway – he has a hard time saying no to falafel, black bean soup, and just about anything else I make!

I’m not sure how much I’ll post about this over the next month, but I’ll definitely let you know at the end of February how going vegan went! Until then, check out my Instagram, where I’ll be sharing all the delicious new food I’ll be trying out!

My #ShopLocal Gift Guide!

#shoplocal gift guide

In addition to shopping online for gifts, now is the best time to #shoplocal! You can find unique gifts for everyone while supporting great local businesses in your area.

The Seattle area has so many amazing local businesses, it’s tough to narrow it down to just a few. Whether you’re shopping for friends and family here, or looking to ship gifts across the country, there are so many great things out there! Here are some things I’m looking at this year to send out to loved ones (or get for myself)!

My #ShopLocal Gift Guide: Seattle

Boehm’s Candies

The Seattle area is home to several local chocolatiers, but this one is my favorite. For one thing, it’s about a 5-minute drive from my home in Issaquah! They have amazing holiday chocolates (including solid dark chocolate Santas), licorice, and even dog treats!

Jungmaven

I found out about Jungmaven through IndieGetUp, a site dedicated to helping you find local shops in your area. They make hemp and cotton clothing, bedding, and other fun accessories. I’m seriously digging the Sherpa Crewneck Sweatshirt – it looks so lived-in and comfy!

Stumptown Coffee

Okay, so technically this company started out in Portland, Oregon, but it’s still a local favorite of coffee shops around the Seattle area. Their Hairbender blend is one of my favorites, and it pairs well with just about anything I put in it! Their packaging is also gorgeous, which makes for a great gift during the holidays!

Big Dipper Wax Works

Based in Seattle, this candle company is quickly becoming one of my favorites. I’ve burned through a few of their Meditation candles this past year, and I can’t wait to stock up on more! They make great stocking stuffers or gifts for the office!

George’s Sausage & Delicatessen

If you’re a good little Polish lady like me, Christmas means eating your weight in kielbasa. If you live in the Seattle area, head downtown to check out George’s for all the kielbasa and Polish goodies you can carry! It’s honestly the best kielbasa I’ve ever had, and I need to get back out there soon to stock up for the holiday season. They also have a ton of Polish candy, pickled everything, and wine…tons of wine!

If you’re looking for local shops in your area, check out IndieGetUp to see what your state has to offer!

The Afternoon Glow 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Every year, I try to put together a holiday wish list, and usually come up short. Not this year! I found plenty of fun things to get for your wellness-obsessed friends, woke witches, and hygge masters!

Enjoy the list, and come back on Wednesday when I share my favorite local gifts from the Pacific Northwest!

For the friend who is all about wellness…and coffee:

2017 holiday gift guide

Stonn Stainless Steel Electric Milk Frother ($6.95, Amazon)

To thicken up a bullet coffee, matcha tea, or a superfood latte, I highly recommend grabbing your coffee-obsessed friends a handheld frother. It’s small, easy to store, and does the job!

Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Powder ($15.00, Amazon)

I’ve recently gotten into adding “extras” to my coffee, and collagen is a great place to start! It’s tasteless and mixes in well with whatever morning drink you prefer. I also find it thickens my almond milk lattes a little more! Give your friends the gift of amazing hair, skin, and nails along with their favorite coffee or tea!

4th & Heart Vanilla Bean Ghee ($10.94, Amazon)

Adding extra fat to coffee is a great way to add flavor and helps your body absorb caffeine more slowly throughout the day. Ghee is a healthy option, and this one contains a little vanilla to add some flavor and sweetness. Plus, the packaging is adorable and would look great in a gift basket!

Kate Spade Travel Mug ($18.00, Amazon)

You can’t have a beautifying drink in an ugly old mug! Grab your friend a pretty one like this floral Kate Spade travel version, and they can start the day on a pretty note!

For the feministas in your life:

2017 holiday gift guide

 

“Feminist Killjoy” Sweatshirt ($23.90, Etsy)

I really, really want this sweatshirt – and I want to buy it for all my fellow “feminist killjoys” out there! It will keep you cozy and warm while dismantling the patriarchy, or telling an ignorant relative or two where to stick their “not all men” argument during your next holiday get-together.

Ruth Bader Ginsberg Prayer Candle ($12.95, Etsy)

I think prayer candles are beautiful. They are even more beautiful when covered with beautiful images of our favorite feminist icons! This Etsy shop also has candles for my other two role models – Ilana and Abbi from Broad City! Get them all, and channel your inner feminist badass!

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan ($17.95, Amazon)

If you haven’t checked this book out yet, get one for yourself and all your bookish friends. It’s an important read if you want to better understand how society, higher education, and advertising have been oppressing women for…well…forever. Since this book is over 50 years old, keep in mind it does largely gloss over women of color and doesn’t address other sexualities – but it was the start of a conversation that later included those groups.

Tiny Smudge Kit ($5.95, Etsy)

I’m not a big spiritual person, but there’s nothing wrong with ridding the world of bad energy however we can, right? This is a great stocking-stuffer idea for your wellness-loving friends, and cheap enough you can grab one for yourself while you’re at it!

For that friend who could use a little hygge:

2017 holiday gift guide

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living ($10.69, Amazon)

The Danes are some of the happiest people in the world – and it’s no wonder! The concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) promotes comfort, staying in the present, and enjoying friendship. They also believe it’s okay to let go of perfectionism to indulge once in a while. This would be a great book for that friend who could use a little break during the stressful holiday season!

Pendleton Plaid 5th Avenue Throw Blanket ($159, Pendleton)

Comfort is a big part of hygge, and this cozy wool blanket would be perfect for curling up under with a good book! They come in so many patterns and colors, you could find one for everyone!

Lavender Scented Soy Wax Candle ($15, Etsy)

Candlelight is another great way to bring some coziness into your life, and this one smells calming and warm. Lavender is a great scent for relaxing after a long day, and staying in the present.

Cable Knit Knee-High, No-skid Socks ($10.90/pair, Amazon)

It’s almost impossible to get cozy vibes with cold feet! These socks are warm, fuzzy, and have anti-slip grip so you can wear them all over the house! I can’t wait to pick up a pair in every color!

 

#NoSpendNovember: Use Your Stash!

use your stash

Beauty products are one thing I easily spend too much money on. I’m guilty of buying a new shampoo, conditioner, or body lotion before my current one is empty. I also don’t know why I own so man lip glosses and lipsticks – I rarely wear either.

This month, I’m making a better effort to use my stash. It’s a good idea to go through your beauty stash every 6 months or so to weed out anything that’s expired, dried out, or otherwise not useable. Once you pare down to what’s still good and useful, you can find clever ways to use up what’s lingering in your beauty cabinet! Here are just a few tips to help you use what you have!

#NoSpendNovember: Tips to Use Your Stash!

Tip #1: Decant “almost empties” into travel-sized containers.

Many of us are gearing up for the holiday travel season, and that means getting your travel kit ready. Instead of buying all new travel products, use your stash! For only a few dollars, you can pick up a travel-friendly kit with bottles and containers you fill yourself. Some good items to decant into travel containers are shampoo/conditioner, body lotion, face moisturizer, toner, and foundation.

Also, if you hoard sheet masks like me, pop a couple in your travel kit – they are great to use on long flights! They are also a good reminder to practice some quiet self-care during your trip!

Tip #2: Put “almost empties” on display.

Instead of hiding away your “almost empties,” put them out on the bathroom counter so you can remember to use them up! Out of sight, out of mind is totally true for beauty products! Grab that bottle of toner you’re almost done with, and put away the new one until it’s needed.

Also, whenever you run out of something, check your cabinets before heading to the store! I have a bad habit of buying toothpaste before checking to see if I have one at home. At some point, I ended up with 4 unopened tubes of the stuff! Get into the habit of shopping your cabinets first to avoid over-buying things!

Tip #3: Gift things you’ve never used.

Okay, this piece of advice comes with a lot of restrictions, but you can still do it in some cases! If you have a lot of beauty products or samples you never opened, and they’re still in good condition, give them to family or friends! They can make great stocking stuffers, or put a bunch together in a cute basket for your teenage niece, makeup-obsessed sister, or brunch buddies!

Obviously, avoid giving away products you’ve already used, and anything that’s old/expired. Many of us bloggers get samples mailed to us year-round, and this is a great way to put them to good use!

Tip #4: Find new uses for old products!

This is especially important if you have products lingering around that didn’t work for you. Instead of tossing them out, consider if they could be used for something else! Here are just a few examples of how I’ve used beauty products in a new way:

  • Extra body lotion or conditioner makes a great shaving balm! Just apply a small layer over legs or underarms for a smoother shave, and moisturized skin afterwards!
  • Eye makeup remover (oil free) is great to keep around to clean leather handbags! I use eye makeup remover to get rid of blue streaks on my grey leather handbag left over from my jeans. It works amazingly well while leaving my bag in great condition.
  • Toners or facial mists make really good room sprays! Spritz them in pillowcases, bedsheets, bathrooms, or in your car (not while driving, of course)!
  • Lip colors can often pull double-duty as a cream blush or eye color. Dabbing face powder or blush onto lipstick creates a matte effect without having to buy a new matte lipstick!

So instead of heading over to Sephora…again…try using what you have around the house instead! You might find that if you use your stash, it will save you a ton of money this month!

Cleaning Up My Haircare Routine

clean_haircare_routine

As the year quickly winds down, I’m already starting to think about my 2018 goals. This year was all about healing and self-care, but I want next year to be more about taking action. I am already starting to make the transition to natural products, and for me, it all starts in the shower!

One thing I know I want to work toward next year is cleaning up my beauty cabinet, and it starts with a clean haircare routine. When Maple Holistics reached out to see if I wanted to try their Tea Tree Oil Shampoo, I was super excited.

My scalp needs a lot of extra love during the winter months, and this product has done the job already! This shampoo has already cleared my mild dandruff and a breakout from recently dying my hair. It smells divine, and even created a healing aromatherapy effect in the shower when I was congested from a cold! It does leave my hair a bit dry, so I’m looking forward to adding the Tea Tree Oil Conditioner to the mix soon.

When creating a clean haircare routine, I wanted to find products that were free of harsh chemicals but still effective. The shampoo is cruelty free and doesn’t contain parabens, GMOs, or gluten. It’s also perfectly safe to use for men, women, and kids! They also do more than just clean haircare – they have skincare products, lip balms, and some decadent bubble bath blends!

If you’d like to give Maple Holistics a try, you can sign up on their website for a free sample! It’s great that they do this, especially for people like me who are still new to clean haircare products!

#NoSpendNovember Challenge

#nospendnovember challenge

#NoSpendNovember Challenge

Why am I doing this?

Because I’m a glutton for punishment.

I’m just kidding – sort of.

Looking forward to the holidays, I always end up feeling a bit overwhelmed. There is so much do to, bake, see, and BUY. Between gifts, baking extra goodies, sending out holiday cards, parties, buying an extra pair of gloves (I lose mine all the time), and all the extra coffees while I’m out shopping, it adds up. There is also so much pressure to “keep up” with everyone else during the holidays.

I doubt I’m alone in this. Many of us feel financial fatigue come January, which is a terrible way to start off the new year. This year, I’m trying to cut out at least some of the holiday spending – especially in November. I find that if I only give myself a short window to holiday shop, I can’t go overboard.

What are the ground rules?

While it would be ideal to go fully no-waste, 100% no-spending this month, that’s not realistic for me. I need to eat, after all! So instead of saying “don’t spend any money at all,” I’ve set some ground rules for myself this month:

Stay off of my Amazon account

Amazon is the devil for impulse spending. It’s so easy to go on there to order more moisturizer, and end up with a $100 order of god-only-knows-what. I have to use Amazon for my job, but I’m determined not to log into my actual account, so it’s less tempting to shop while I should be working.

Unsubscribe From Marketing Emails

Another project I have set for this month is to clear out my inboxes of marketing-heavy emails. I’ve signed up for way too many newsletters and product affiliate email chains over the past year. Now my inbox is flooded with ads, coupons, and other super-tempting marketing messages. Instead of hopping on Nasty Gal to dream of clothes I’m 10 years too old to pull off, I gotta hit the unsubscribe button.

no Beauty-Related Purchases

You have enough of that shit, Heather. Use what you’ve got.

I know I’m not alone in this one, either. I don’t need a dozen different lipsticks – I barely wear it anyway. So for this month, I’m determined to use what I have and hopefully fall back in love with some old favorites. I also got some new samples this month to try out, and I’ll save those for days when I’m dying to go to Ulta!

Do More DIY Projects

I have a few sitting around the house I haven’t started yet. Instead of shopping online for the perfect pair of loafers, I plan to spend the month on getting things done around the house. This should be easy to pull off without spending any extra!

Sell Some of Your Shit

I signed up with ThredUp recently, and hope to donate/sell some of my summer clothes I didn’t wear this year. My hope is to use that money to update my winter wardrobe without spending a dime this month!

There are exceptions

There is no way I can survive November without spending any money. So to make things more manageable and realistic, I’m allowing myself a few exceptions:

  • One day each week, I get to have a coffee at my local cafe during my “work out of the house day.” Working at home every day is not good for my sanity, so I consider this a “work necessity.”
  • Limit “extra” grocery trips to once a week. Instead of going every other day for extra ingredients for dinner or whatever, I need to plan better so I don’t have to do this.
  • Black Friday / Cyber Monday is going to be a “cheat day” for me. I do plan to get a holiday gift list ready to go, so all I have to do is pop online and buy whatever I need to. No extra spending on myself – only for others!

What are my goals for #NoSpendNovember?

Taking on a no-spending challenge sounds daunting for me, but I hope it’ll feel worth it at the end! There are a few things I’m hoping to take away from this experience:

More Money at the end of the month (duh)

Of course, the idea behind this is to have a little extra money at the end of the month that I can put towards bills, holiday stuff, or just to toss in my savings account and leave it be. The idea is to be able to enjoy the holidays without worrying about my bank account so much.

Combatting boredom spending

Yeah…I go shopping when I’m bored. Sue me. This month I’m hoping to break the cycle of going out shopping when I’m bored or need a break. Working from home is great, but sometimes being cooped up at home for too long drives me nuts. So for this month, I will try to find no-cost alternatives to shopping when I’m dying for something to do. Look out for a post on that soon!

Make use of what I already have

I’m super guilty of wanting to buy things instead of looking to see if I already have them. Do I need another throw blanket? Candles? Another pretty notebook? No…I have plenty of that shit. I also have things in my closet that I don’t wear because I need to fix them, home decor projects I just need to get done, and more bottles of shampoo than is reasonable. Instead of going through a de-cluttering rampage in January, I want to use up what I have so there is less to deal with in the first place.

Whew! That’s a lot to take in for the coming month!

Come back here every Monday this month for some #NoSpendNovember challenge ideas! I’ll also be sharing my ideas on Instagram (check out for the hashtag #NoSpendNovember!)

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites 10/13

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

Welcome to another edition of Friday Favorites!

Fall is (finally) in full swing here, complete with chilly temperatures and a lot of rain. It’s been a great week to snuggle up under a blanket with a good book and some tea. In fact, that’s my only real plan for this weekend.

Here is what I’ve been digging online this past week or two!

  • I’m not a big salad eater, but even this Fall Protein Power Salad looks like the perfect way to force some veggies into me this fall! (Hello Glow)
  • Another recipe I’m dying to try out is these Vegan Cheez Its. I’ve never made my own crackers before, and this recipe looks like the perfect snack to go with some hot apple cider! (Minimalist Baker)
  • If you’re looking to clean up your beauty routine, I suggest checking out The Detox Market. They have tons of great products that would make great gifts, and a monthly subscription box if you want to try something new each month!
  • I am on the hunt for my own vaporizer pen, and this rose gold version from Beboe is so pretty. Too bad they only sell them in California…sigh. Get on the rose gold weed pens, Washington!
  • Speaking of curling up with a good book, Wit & Delight’s list of uplifting and inspiring books is perfect for fall. I’ve got all 7 books on my library holds list!
  • This is the first Kickstarter campaign I’ve seriously considered giving to. Therese Shechter is making a documentary about the current issues surrounding women who choose not to have children. She talks to a couple living in the South who chose not to have kids, a woman whose fertility struggles led to a change of heart, and young women trying to build their lives without motherhood in mind. I think these are important stories to hear, especially now that our access to birth control and abortions hang in the balance. (Kickstarter)

I hope everyone has a great weekend, and I’ll be back next week with some new posts – if I don’t spend the whole weekend buried in a book!

Friday Favorites

friday favorites yoga

Welcome to another weekly edition of Friday favorites!

Man, it’s been a crazy week around here!

Summer finally decided to make an appearance, with temperatures well into the 90s all week. We’re also dealing with a smoke cloud over the Seattle area, thanks to a forest fire that started in Canada. Needless to say, I spent the last week cooped up inside hiding from either the heat or smoke!

Here are some things I enjoyed this week while hiding from the heat!

  • Free People wrote a great post this week on when to toss your green beauty products. If you recently cleaned up your beauty routine, it’s worth checking out to make sure your beauty products are still safe to use!
  • I’m in the process of re-organizing my closet, and Aimee Song’s closet tour was full of so much inspiration!
  • You know I love a good DIY face spray, and Orchid Grey came up with a quartz-charged rose spray I’d love to make! I’m not sure if I buy into the whole quartz thing, but the scent sounds divine!
  • I am currently cooking my way through Veganomicon, and recently made their Southwestern Corn Pudding. I’m definitely making this one again soon!
  • My husband’s succulent has exploded, and I’ve been shopping online for some small pots to plant all the little baby succulents. I am going to do my best not to buy, like, 10 of these adorable Japanese-style painted pots:

Aren’t the adorable?

Anyway, before I go down the rabbit hole on Amazon…I hope you all have a great weekend! I’m planning to maybe go to the beach if it’s not too hot. Otherwise, I’ll be in front of the air conditioner like everyone else in Seattle!

Welcome to August!

welcome to August

Welcome to August!

I really can’t believe it’s August already!

This summer seems to have flown by, and now I’m looking forward to autumn (though we have like, two months). I spent most of July working and trying to spend more time outside – though it wasn’t warm enough to get to the beach until this week!

August is such an “in-between” month. It’s still hot as hell outside (we’re looking at 100 degrees tomorrow!), but many are dreaming of pumpkin spiced lattes and fall sweaters. Kids are desperately trying to enjoy the last moments of summer break before heading back to school. Since there aren’t any major holidays coming up until Labor Day, it seems so much harder to get out and be social. It’s a weird month, to be honest.

So for August, I assume my posts will be a mix of both enjoying the summer and looking forward to fall. I’m already starting to dream up what my fall wardrobe is going to look like and updating my skincare for the cooler months. It’s also been tough to workout when it’s so hot outside, but I’ve been trying to get back into it.

Welcome back to the blog, and I hope you are as excited as I am to enjoy the summer and get ready for autumn – my favorite season in Seattle!

Friday Favorites…on a Monday!

friday favorites

Spring has really sprung around here! I’m excited to have more and more days like this in between the gray, gloomy Seattle rain.

In spite of the crappy weather, things around here have been super busy. I am in my annual spring cleaning mode and eyeballs-deep in applying for every teaching position I can find (it’s that time of year again). I’m also trying to get back on track with my reading goals after finally plowing through The Second Sex, which was the most challenging book I read so far this year. In the middle of all that, I manage to get outside for a run or hike now and then, too! All of this means I haven’t spent much time online, to be honest – so I put off posting a Friday Favorites a little longer than I had hoped.

So without further ado, here is what I enjoyed online over the past…few weeks or so. Hopefully soon I can get back on a regular schedule with these!

  • Here is a pretty accurate list of 5 industries millennials are slowly killing. I totally agree with all of it (though we really should consider bringing back the vacation!). (Cracked)
  • If you follow Chris Pratt on Instagram, you already know he started a #whatsmysnack craze (thanks to his recent meal-delivery service). Watching him attempt to say “cacao baobab” is just the best because, well, we’ve all been there! (Well+Good)
  • Even though I live in a much brighter apartment than I used to, growing plants is still a challenge with so little daily sunlight. Here are 9 plants that should survive super low light! (Gardenista)
  • If you are as mesmerized by gif recipes as I am, check out the Gif Recipes subreddit! Be careful, though – it’s easy to lose hours of your day on here! (Reddit)
  • You know I love a good peek into someone’s refrigerator! Check out this one from Mimi Kirk, a raw foodie in her 70s, to see how she stays healthy and happy! (The Chalkboard Mag)
  • If you are looking for ways to stay active in your community, check out Meg The Grand! She was one of my close friends in college, and it’s inspiring to hear all the ways she supports women in her community! She posts daily tasks people can do, some in the Chicago area, and some you can do from anywhere! (Meg The Grand)

I hope everyone is enjoying the start of spring, and I will be back next week. I have another long week of interviews, job applications, and cleaning to do!