Home prices are skyrocketing, while the properties themselves are being swallowed by big corporations and investors instead of families. Gas prices have catapulted, in some California locations to more than $6 a gallon. Restaurants are seeing their highest price increases in the last 40 years.
It’s no economic secret that we’re in a gigantic recession; if you’re a Millennial or part of Gen-Z, you could make an strong argument that for most, if not all, of our adult lives we’ve been in a recession – but let’s not scare ourselves existentially shitless. Instead, let’s flip the script from a scarcity mindset and focus on how we can all ball out – on a budget. Here are five tried and true tips, sure to increase your bank account and decrease your levels of concern.
Say Farewell to Fast Fashion and Hello to Savings
We all have that one friend who stays up on the trends – buys the latest kicks, sports the hottest new fashion. I am not that girl. I love a good thrift shop, I enjoy diving into those enormous bins at Goodwill where you can purchase fabric by the pound, and I absolutely abhor having to be ‘up’ on what’s hip. Considering I’m already late for almost any fashion trend, now I feel infinitely better about it knowing that my apprehension to fast fashion is helpful for my bank account, as well as the environment.
ThreadUp, Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, Nordstrom Rack, and local boutique thrift stores will have the bang for your buck that you’re craving.
See Clearly with Inexpensive Distance Glasses
Sure, reading glasses come a dime a dozen – you can snag those anywhere at an incredibly low price tag. But what about the rest of us who suffer from nearsightedness, also known as myopia? We can now find glasses from $20 or less on Amazon and ETSY; which makes me feel infinitely better when I sit on them and break a pair. If you’re a bit skeptical about Amazon or ETSY to source them first slash third hand, use a vetted resource like Warby Parker which starts at $95 for the whole kit and caboodle.
The Early Bird Gets Better Concert Tickets
Planning goes a long way, and when it comes to concert tickets – sometimes, triply so. A general admission ticket can go up quick if you you don’t get them early, so word to the wise – keep your finger on the pulse of your city. But, if that doesn’t strike your fancy, know that most large festivals have ways that you can get involved from the ground up to make their event a success – any they all come with tickets. Whether you’re on the Green Team, or working the Lost and Found booth – there are many avenues to pursue.
Imperfect Foods is the Perfect Shopping Buddy
You want a friend that doesn’t let you put just anything off your list in your cart? Imperfect Foods has your back. Now, you’ll have to find a way to supplement strolling longingly down every aisle, but Imperfect Foods does your shopping for you, and delivers it to your door- all while helping save the environment, and the grocery supply chain. By taking the dented, bruised and otherwise unwanted foods and giving them new homes – they’ve become a sustainable haven of substance.
Don’t (Uber) Eats
I know it’s hard, but next time you’re tempted to Uber Eats – but have you really taken stock in all of their upcharges and fees? Sometimes it can be more than 20% of your original order – damn! Next time you want to order out, take a deep breath, call the restaurant, jump in your car and get it yourself. Same great food, less carbon footprint and smaller price tag.
What are some tips and tricks that you have for keeping your bank account full without sacrificing the things you love? Let me know in the comments below!
Raise your hand if you’ve tried at least one new craft or hobby during the last year in quarantine? It’s not like it was a prerequisite for lockdown, but on a personal level – my creative edge was one of the few things that kept me sane during those weeks, then months, that we were barely leaving our homes. Thanks to a supportive family and parents that were always cultivating my curiosity – crafts have been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember. Whether it was making glycerin soaps and essential oil blends when I was in Elementary School, or having my birthday parties at the local Bead Shop – I’ve been able to dip, dabble and discover innovative ways to explore both the world, all the while embracing and enhancing my mental health.
What does creativity have to do with mental dexterity? Well, in my humble opinion – everything! The more creative we can be with the tools in front of us, the more inventive and original we become when discovering and dealing with the tools inside of us. As it turns out – the art and act of creativity is good for the mind, body and soul: enhancing our mental health, invigorating our immune system and boosting our mood by lowering our heart rates, reducing our anxiety and adding dopamine. I can’t think of a single person who hasn’t felt the pull and push of the new “normal” this past year, and it’s done a number on us internally with our mental health – and externally with our social circles and support systems.
Everyone has their preferred methods of communication, and most likely a few they avoid like the plague. I thrive on in person communication, and by in large it’s the one thing none of us have gotten enough of; I miss smiling eyes and eruptions of organic laughter, I miss hugging my friends and being lost in the middle of dance floors. I would be lying if I were to tell you I liked FaceTime; I don’t hate a lot of things – but FaceTime was up there, at least until quarantine. Same with Zoom “parties” – they’re just, a bit overwhelming for me. As a writer, I haven’t minded much that my conversations have been reduced to texting or chats, but at the end of the day I still was seeking a non-digital way to be present with people. Enter: letter writing.
I’ve never been much of a fan of my own handwriting, but realized I don’t see it that often these days thanks to computers, cell phones, and the like. Last Summer, I started playing around with different types of pens, and realized that even though I spend a good amount of time blogging I was really missing that pen-to-paper action. It started as a quest to draw something more than stick figures and evolved into an excursion to find the best doodling tools. Over time, my drawing elevated – but I realized my handwriting could use a bit more manicuring; I mean, when’s the last time you tried to write out the cursive alphabet?! That’s when I put two and two together into a proverbial four, and found a new resource for my writing in handwritten notes, letters and calligraphy. Letter writing itself feels like a lost art form, and it’s helped me connect the dots of my thoughts succinctly and sweetly. Not to mention, there’s nothing quite as sweet as a handwritten love note – especially when it comes from friends and family.
Are you looking to elevate your writing game to the next level, or simply looking for a new hobby? I’ve got you covered with my five must-haves for perfecting your penmanship.
Want to start stepping up your writing game but not sure where to start? I’ve amassed a small but mighty collection of books that have been beneficial in my lettering journey and here’s a few I couldn’t recommend more:
From the fantastic folks at Paper Peony Press comes my favorite tool of the trade for lettering hands down. This book for perfecting your writing style touches a variety of different styles of modern calligraphy, has great summary pages and provides a pretty little introduction to all things hand lettering.
Pro tip – make photo copies of pages, or lay another page on top to preserve the book as you go; that way you can re-use and retrace the lettering exercises over and over again until you’ve got things down pat!
I’ve tried my hands at a few lettering books; there are lots out there for every type of skill set. Being such a novice at thhis point in my life, I also found an affinity for Hand Lettering 101 ($18.99 on Amazon)
Want to get your hand writing form down but not sure where to start? The fantastic folks at Prismacolor have you covered! They have tons of variety packs to choose from when it comes to learning to letter – but for all it’s worth, this one takes the cake for me.
Coming in hot with two graphite pencils of differing weights, one at a 2H the other at a 2B, for easy and smooth outlining, and a kneaded eraser – you’ll be able to get your shapes and sizing right before you lay it down with one of three illustration markers, or the double ended art pen with a chisel on one end and a fine tip to dive into your details. Plus, now you’re already set up for future sketching success!
Growing up, I didn’t realize how spoiled I was when it came to creative habits. My mom and my step-mother both loved gardening, movement and music; my mom is where I get my writing habits from – but my step-mother is where I first discovered my love for the act of writing.
Where my writing looks more akin to my mother and fathers, and we all might as well have become doctors based on how illegible our writing can become – Jane’s writing may very well become it’s own font one day. Perfectly spaced and exquisite down to the last detail, her love of letter writing, cursive and calligraphy was nurtured onto me from a young age and I’m so happy to carry that tradition forward.
After toying around with hand lettering and calligraphy pens over the Summer, I quickly turned my attention to using glass pens – and let me tell you, writing with intention got real, and it got really colorful. Handcrafted and unique, each glass pen from ESSSHOP shines with technicolor shimmer throughout the body and is riddled with spiral grooves to extend your writing time.
It’s almost a meditative form of writing – you have to pay keen attention to your form, how much ink you swooped up and what thoughts you can get from brain, to finger, to ink, before you have to reload. Plus, the ink comes in a variety of colors – these from ESSHOP have a wonderful gold foiling effect – and are the perfect present for anyone looking to level up their writing, or evolve their style.
If you love the idea of glass pens, you’ll be tickled pink by my next pick. After a few months getting into the groove of my glass pen, I thought it would be cute to throw it back a few centuries and see how I liked writing with a Quill. Oh, yes – feather pens!
They’re a fun gift, and if you’ve been able to master glass pens this is almost a no-brainer. Word to the wise, if you loved the length you could write with a dip of the glass pen you’ll find out very quickly that the quill tip doesn’t hold ink for very long. This set includes several different writing nibs, a bottle of ink and a wax set so you can seal your letters up just like the olden days!
Last, but not least – if you’re going to be working on your writing skills – you may as well have a lovely place to journal. I’ve fallen head over heels for this one from Siixu.
They come in four festive flavors; one for each season. I fell in love with all of them, but Summer might take the cake for the gradients of color interspersed throughout the journal. Great for a diary, a poetry or tarot journal, or simply to practice lettering – the journals from Siixu are elegant pieces of work all to themselves.
If you happen to prefer blank journals, Paperage has a wonderful assortment of hardcover journals in both lined and unlined varieties.
For more personal favorites, head over to my curated list on Amazon where I’ve compiled a few of tools, resources and fun accessories to make writing your current favorite creative outlet, and perfect the personal art of penmanship.
Am I missing one of your favorite writing tools? Have a fantastic book or style you’d like to add to the mix? Let me know in the comments below and happy lettering!
If there’s one thing I’ve had a lot of recently – it’s downtime; me time; well, every now and again, the downtime comes with moments of anxiety – others, it turns into a few moments of existential freakout time, but for the most part – these last few months have been exceptional for my mental health, for grounding myself, and for my hobbies.
When I was a wee little one, which at 6’0″ might be hard now for some to imagine, my absolute favorite store trips weren’t to Toys’R’Us or the Disney Store, they weren’t to FAO Schwartz or Macy’s; they were to a little homegrown shops in the Bay Area, Kepler’s Books and McWhorter’s Stationary, both of which I lament are now closed, but both were full of whimsical worlds of wonder to me.
When it comes to writing and sketching notebook’s, admittedly I’m a little picky. When you’re obsessed with using bright, vivid colors – you also end up suffering from color bleeding from page to page, often times ruining a piece of work that you would have preferred to preserve. Enter the fantastic hard cover journal from the esteemed company Paperage. Whether you want a lined, blank or dotted journal – they come in oodles of sizes and colors, each with the same high quality paper. I got one to turn into a ‘bread making journal’, and I love the size and feel of the notebook, and how the paper is silky smooth to the touch.
Raise your hand if you felt a bit dumb for getting a planner in 2020! Okay, let me amend that statement – because I actually got two planners. I wanted to dabble around and see what was good and new with planners, and deviated from my norm to the Law of Attraction planner but soon remembered why I had stuck with the Passion Planner as long as I have.
For starters: the ease of kicking it off, the sleek and sexy design, ways to build out goals, whether you want it dated or undated, Sunday or Monday start; the Passion Planner is simply the best planner around and I can’t imagine straying from it again.
Now that we have your journals all lined up and ready to go, it’s time to discuss something a little closer to my heart – PENS. You might think I’m a bit nuts, and you might be right – but there’s something so soothing, so relaxing, about finding pens that glide like an ice skater over your pages, without leaking through or smudging as you go.
I stumbled across these Paper Mate Ink Joy pens when I was back in school at the beginning of the year, and was beyond thrilled at the rainbow array of colors; it made taking notes not only easy – but incredibly fun!
When it comes to highlighters, there are some colors that always feel more bold than necessary – in a sense, almost drowning out the monochrome text behind it with a dazzling, technicolor display dripping in neon ink. Vibrant and beautiful, yes; but often becoming hard to re-read, as well. Enter Zebra’s line of Mildliners – a one two punch, with either a fine end and a bold end, or super fine on one side with a brush tip on the other.
Be warned, these mildliners are highly addictive; you can ask my husband, and he’ll agree – getting one set of Zebra Mildliners is a gateway drug to more.
Last, but not least – my favorite drawing supplies to just doodle with. I’ve gone back and forth on this, and finally have concluded that sometimes, you can’t pick just one – like me right now, deciding which pens I would take to a desert island if I could only take one brand. So, for the win we have Pentel’s line of fantastic sparkly pens.
Whether they’re the RSVP Krazy Pop, Sparkle Pop or Solar Pop pens, or their incredibly vivid Dual Metallic Hybrid stylings, I’ve always been a fan of the ergonomics of the RSVP pens and the boldness of their colors. Add to it some technicolor sparkle that shimmers in the sun, or on black paper, or acts chameleon-like and I’m SO DOWN.
When it comes to drawing and doodling, what are some of your go to supplies that are in your bag? Share your favorites in the comments below!
“Mathematics is the loom upon which God weaves the fabric of the universe. The fact that reality can be described or approximated by simple mathematical expressions suggests to me that nature has mathematics at its core.”
With quarantine still pushing on, and Summer officially coming to a close without anyone getting a real vacation in – it’s important to me to at the very least, explore those things we can still explore. If we can’t adventure outwards, I firmly believe it’s our duty to venture inwards – with all physical and celestial frontiers conquered, to me this is the last sort of true exploration still out there; a sort of ‘manifest destiny’ of the mind, and a conquering of the ego and self as our final frontiers, if you will.
Growing up, I was all about a good detective story a la Lilian Jackson Braun; as I flowed out of high school and into myself, I started finding strength in characters in Danzy Senna’s coming of age tales, the seductive mysteries of Lauren Henderson, or a twisted dystopian view of reality from the likes of Jerry Stahl or Arthur Nersesian. Maybe it’s a symptom of age, or want of information – but now that I’m firmly in my thirties, I’ve noticed a mental shift – I ebb and flow towards books on science, mathematics, religion and philosophy, and haven’t picked up a work of fiction since powering through Richard K Morgan’s impressive Altered Carbon series. After finally making it through Livio’s impressive read on the ‘The Golden Ratio’, I got turned on to (and by) some of the quips that Livio proposed from Pickover.
The Loom of God is part science fiction adventure as you traverse through the history of the world with your partner in curiosities Mr. Plex, part love story as Theano and last but certainly not least – part mathematical and mystical history of the world, and part philosophical conjecture. Throughout, Pickover’s passion for all topics is palpable and oozes through his writing style, as he poetically propels the reader on a journey befit with companions, pesky antagonists in the form of transfinites and a plethora of knowledge on the history of mathematics.
From Mandelbrot Fractals to Vampire Numbers, Logarthimic Spirals to Stonehenge, the history and philosphy of the multiple cultures, and a lovely marriage within the chapters between the science behind the fiction – this is a fantastic read, that’s difficult to put down and easy to digest.
If this Pickover classic piques your interest, take the following books for a spin. Each weaves a unique, and beautifully explained web on the rich and diverse history and culture surrounding mathematics.
Whether you’re remotely into or completely enchanted by either Mathematics, Mysticism or the magical relationships between their two worlds – I couldn’t recommend this book enough. Find the book on Good Reads, snag yourself a copy from Amazon – or simply head down to your local libraries to see if they have a copy to get your mind into. Before I head on my next literary journey, if anyone has any fantastic pieces of fiction to share, please leave some recommendations in the comments below
Admittedly, between moving four times across three different states in the last two years and starting up school again at the beginning of the year – I haven’t had much ‘downtime’ to read much. However, in light of recent events, I was finally able to finish Thoreau’s Walden, a book I started before my wedding, wayyyy back in 2017. Around America, 41 states have currently issued either a ‘Stay in Place’ or ‘Shelter in Place’ order – with another 4 deploying the order at a more local level. And we’re all trying to figure out how to adjust to this hopefully temporary new ‘normal’. Whether in comforting or in trying times, losing yourself in the lyricism of a fantastic book is always a novel idea; to be honest, with the current state of the Coronavirus pandemic in the world, I would even consider reading a necessary habit.
An exceptionally poignant read, I finished Walden with a snail’s pace that I’m sure Thoreau would respect, and feel like a better person for doing so; over and over, I have been humbled by the bits of knowledge that it doled out onto me. It’s a dense read, and by that I mean that each sentence is a meal worth truly digesting before moving onto the next – and after every paragraph, you were still left hungry.
Thoreau’s seminal work of Transcendental philosophy, Walden delves into living simply and solitarily, all the while finding personal resolve and strength. As Thoreau chronicles his life at Walden Pond, we’re brought in for an intimate journey of self reliance and societal retrospection on a newly industrialized world. Written originally in 1854, Walden gives a timeless analysis that’s just as important today as it was back then.
What book has helped you in a time of solitude or self-reliance? Let me know in the comments below!
Some of my favorite quotes from Walden:
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.”
“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”
“However mean your life is, meet it and live it; do not shun it and call it hard names. It is not so bad as you are. It looks poorest when you are richest. The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. Love your life, poor as it is. You may perhaps have some pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse. The setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode; the snow melts before its door as early in the spring. I do not see but a quiet mind may live as contentedly there, and have as cheering thoughts, as in a palace.”
“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”
“If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.”
“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple-tree or an oak. Shall he turn his spring into summer?”