Categories
Lifestyle

Best practices for decluttering your home and keeping it that way

It’s spring, so get into the spring cleaning spirit and declutter your home. If you’re spending more time at home than usual, you might be noticing that the house needs a good decluttering. Whether you want to declutter because it’s been on your list of to-do’s for far too long, or you’re clutter is affecting your productivity, don’t get overwhelmed. It’s natural to fall into clutter when life gets crazy. What’s important is learning how to declutter in a way that won’t overwhelm you and approaching your lifestyle minimally moving forward. 

Set intention

Whether your goal is to make your room more inviting or more productive, or calm and relaxing, setting an intention for your space before starting your decluttering project is paramount. This sets a tone for how you approach the actual decluttering and will help you decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to repurpose. 

Work in sections

Don’t try to tackle cleaning the entire home at once. You’ll just be setting yourself up for unnecessary stress and potential failure, and we don’t want that. Instead, work in sections. For a smaller apartment, that could mean decluttering your workspace first and then moving on to your TV console, then your kitchen, and so on and so forth. For a larger home, this could mean following the same approach as with a smaller space, or to working from room to room. Don’t be afraid to break up your decluttering into smaller sections despite how large your home is. The key is to take on what you can handle so you don’t become overwhelmed. Even if it takes you several weeks to a month to get your home to where you want it to be. 

Take everything out 

Laying everything out will help you really see how much stuff you actually have. It’s amazing how much clutter builds up in drawers and other storage areas. Start by laying out everything you had in those drawers and storage bins on the floor. As you clear everything out, you’re able to find things you may have forgotten about or duplicate items. This will also allow you to plan where you want to organize everything.

Keep, donate, or repurpose

Now, we take a play out of Marie Kondo’s book. The KonMarie method outlined in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, advises you to ask yourself, “does it spark joy?” in order to decide whether or not to keep an item. Although you may not feel too strongly about your stapler remover, a similar approach can be used anyway–maybe instead, you ask yourself “do I need this?”. If the answer is yes, move on to the next step. If no, you can decide to donate it, recycle it (if possible), or to repurpose it (if possible). 

Organize & plan

While all those items are laid out in front of you, you can start to organize things. Let’s say you’re emptying out things from your desk, for example. Start to put all the electronics together including charging cables and wall plugs, put all the small office supplies like paperclips, pens, and staples into a pile, and gather all your shipping materials like packing tape and box cutters in one place. Once everything is organized in front of you, you can visually see how much space you need to store the items in each category.

Invest in organizational storage

If you’re tossing everything into one big pile, you might want to rethink things. Storage bins, boxes, and trays can help you maximize your storage as well as keeping things neat so that they’re easier to find. Being able to find things means you won’t have to keep repurchasing items you already have because you “lost” them. Sound familiar? It’s not absolutely necessary to go out and purchase storage accessories either if you’re on a budget. You can repurpose boxes from products you’ve purchased in the past, like your old iPhone’s box to store your charging cables, or even use the top and bottom separately as trays to keep your paperclips and thumbtacks in their own spaces. That mug you don’t love can be repurposed as a pen and pencil holder too. The possibilities are endless. 

Put away

As soon as you’ve made spaces for your items and planned where you want to put everything, you’re ready to go. If it’s been a while since your last good cleaning, you might notice there’s a lot less clutter as you’re putting things away. What an amazing feeling right? 

Prevent future clutter

As you’re putting things away, be mindful of where everything is, and set the intention to put things back where they belong to ensure a clutter-free future. It may help to label things and communicate with others living in your home where things are. Getting everyone on board with the organizational structure of your home will take a bit of time, but will pay off in the long run. 

 

In addition, now that you’ve probably had to donate quite a bit from your decluttering project, you might begin to see how wasteful it can be to buy things. Taking on a minimalist approach, and applying the KonMarie method, be mindful when you’re making purchases–Will this improve your quality of life? Will you keep it for years to come? Does it spark joy? What use does this provide for you? Will you use it often? Asking yourself these questions will help you decide what you want to bring into your home. What we don’t want is more waste, and you can prevent that purchasing quality items that will last. With less waste, you’ll also be lessening the load on Mother Earth. Let’s do more by buying less. 

Categories
Lifestyle

8 Unique latte drinks to try during your quarantine

One of the good things to come from shelter-in-place is that starting our mornings now are a bit more enjoyable. Saving some time from getting dressed for work or commuting to the office allows for more relaxed mornings. As a result, you can take advantage of that time and do an at-home workout, a yoga session, or… you can prepare yourself a proper cuppa. 

There’s nothing like starting your morning with a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea. If you fancy a nice cup in the morning and want to jazz things up during this shelter-in-place, here are some upgraded coffees, teas, and beverages you can try at home. Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Some of these lower caffeine options are perfect to give you a little boost. 

 

Dalgona Coffee

The term “Dalgona” actually refers to a Korean honeycomb toffee. South Korean actor, Jung II-woo coined the term after tasting a whipped coffee in a Macau cafe during a taping of the TV show called “Stars’ Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant” (신상출시 편스토랑). The flavor of the whipped coffee reminded him of the beloved Korean flavor, Dalgona. 

If you haven’t heard of this viral favorite by now, don’t worry–we’ll give you the scoop. This traditional Korean drink gained popularity right as COVID-19 news started to break. It’s a concoction of instant coffee, sugar and hot water, which are whipped together with an electric mixer or by hand with chopsticks until it becomes frothy and creamy. The texture is thick and meringue-like. Once whipped, top it over any milk or milk-alternative, stir and enjoy with a reusable straw.

Note: Instant coffee froths up when mixed with sugar and water because of the drying process it has endured–so this won’t work with freshly ground coffee. 

dalgona coffee latte with brownies

Dalgona Coffee Recipe

(serves 2) 

2 tablespoons of Instant Coffee

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, turbinado sugar, raw cane sugar, or brown sugar 

2 tablespoons of hot water

Milk of your choice

Whip together the ingredients in a clean bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer. It’ll take longer and require a little bit of elbow grease to whisk by hand, but it’s absolutely achievable without an electric mixer. It should take about 3-5 minutes for the mixture to fluff up. Prepare your cup with hot or cold milk or milk-alternative, leaving room for the Dalgona mixture. Then, spoon the Dalgona over the top and enjoy! 

Matcha Dalgona

If you’re more of a matcha person, or want to try a slow-burst caffeine alternative to coffee, the Matcha Dalgona is a worthy alternative. This version has gained popularity as people experimented with the Dalgona-style of drinks. Matcha powder won’t froth up the same way instant coffee would so it’s not a swap for the Dalgona Coffee recipe. Instead, the best way to achieve the whipped texture is with a meringue style base–that’s right, with raw egg whites. 

Matcha Dalgona Recipe 

(serves 2)

1 pasteurized egg white

2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar (to taste)

2 to 4 tablespoons water (1:1 ratio with sugar) 

1- 1 1/2 tablespoons of matcha powder

Milk of your choice

Make a simple syrup with the granulated sugar and water by heating over a stove until sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat. Then, in a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until it starts to become frothy and white. Gradually pour the simple syrup into the egg white mixture as you continue to whip with the electric mixer. It should become glossy and stiff–be careful not to overbeat. Once you’ve got the right consistency, add the matcha powder and mix until well combined. Pour a cup of your favorite milk (can be enjoyed hot or cold), spoon the dalgona over top and serve. 

Golden Dalgona Latte  

A caffeine-free take on your beloved viral favorite. It features turmeric, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb. If you’re familiar with golden lattes (we’ll talk about this later), you might want to try this take. Similar to matcha, turmeric won’t froth up with only hot water and sugar. This will require an egg white to achieve the fluffy consistency of a Dalgona. 

If you’re feeling even more adventurous, we’ve tried this Golden Dalgona spooned over a matcha latte. There are some strong flavors here but it’s unique and complementary. Can you tell we’ve been getting creative in the kitchen lately? 

golden dalgona latte recipe
 Golden Dalgona over almond milk

Golden Dalgona Latte Recipe

(serves 2) 

1 pasteurized egg white

2 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar (to taste)

2 to 4 tablespoons water (1:1 ratio with sugar) 

½ to 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Milk of your choice

Make a simple syrup with the granulated sugar and water by heating over a stove until sugar is fully dissolved and remove from heat. Then, in a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until it starts to become frothy and white. Gradually pour the simple syrup into the egg white mixture as you continue to whip with the electric mixer. It should become glossy and stiff, but be careful not to overbeat. Add the turmeric powder and ground cinnamon and mix until combined. Feel free to increase or decrease the amount of turmeric powder or cinnamon according to your taste! Pour some hot or cold milk of your choice into a cup and spoon the Golden Dalgona over top. Garnish with a cinnamon stick or a dash of cinnamon if you’re feeling fancy! 

Lavender Black Tea Latte

The calming effects of lavender meet energizing black tea. Not your usual combination, but if you like florals in your lattes, you’ll love this one. Dried florals don’t have much color to them so they can be very light. You can drink them like teas when steeped on their own, but they’re amazing additions with tea if you’re looking to jazz things up. 

Lavender Black Tea Latte Recipe

(serves 1)

1 teaspoon dried lavender 

1 to 2 teaspoons black tea (or 1 sachet) 

8 oz hot water 

Milk of choice (optional, to taste)

Sugar (optional, to taste)

To make this, steep dried lavender in hot water for 2-3 minutes on its own. Then, add 1-2 teaspoons of black tea (about one sachet’s worth) with the lavender and steep for an additional 2-3 minutes, or as directed on your tea packaging. Remove the black tea and the lavender with the steeper. Then add milk or cream as desired. This tastes great on its own, but the addition of a little sugar brings out the flavor of the lavender. 

You can also try a lavender coffee, but instead of using dried lavender, this will require a lighter roast of coffee and lavender extract so the lavender flavor comes through. Both are amazing drinks you ought to try! 

 

Honey Black  Tea Latte

If you’re feeling allergy season kicking in, many swear by drinking local honey to build immunity from local allergens. Although some experts have debunked this myth, a lot of people still believe in its allergy-relieving properties. Either way, if you enjoy honey, you might want to give this Honey Black Milk Tea a shot. 

The key is to use a really good local honey. Raw and unfiltered versions are our favorite because of the richness in flavor. Use your favorite black tea for this–we prefer loose leaf, of course. A Darjeeling, English breakfast, or any mild-flavored black tea will work wonderfully with this one. You really want the honey to take center stage here. 

Honey Black Tea Latte

(serves 1) 

3 to 4 teaspoons of loose-leaf black tea 

2 to 3 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered local honey (Or, to taste) 

2 to 3 oz hot water

5 to 6 oz Milk of choice

First, steep the loose leaf black tea in the water as directed. You can let it go a little over the recommended time, but not too much lest you want a bitter-tasting tea. You want it to be more concentrated than you normally would drink it because you’ll be adding milk later. Once steeped, remove the tea leaves from the hot water. The result should be a dark concentrated tea. Then, add the honey. 

Now, if you want a hot latte, heat the milk over the stove before adding it to the honey and black tea mixture. 

If you prefer it cold, you can prepare this ahead of time and leave it in the fridge overnight before adding cold milk when serving. Otherwise, you can add a bit of ice and your milk of choice to the concoction and enjoy. 

Golden Milk Latte

Unlike the Golden Dalgona we mentioned earlier, the Golden Milk Latte is a lot easier to achieve. We’d recommend trying it this way before the commitment of a Dalgona because the turmeric flavor does take some getting used to if you haven’t tried it. It’s used frequently in curries to give it that earthy flavor and yellow-orange hue. But no, this is not a savory drink–it is a sweet one, if you want it to be. It’s traditionally enjoyed with cinnamon and ginger for some added spice and digestive benefits. This one has no caffeine so you can enjoy it any time of the day. Drink this to unwind in the evening or jumpstart your digestive system in the morning. It will also give you immunity a boost too! 

Golden Milk Latte Recipe

(serves 1) 

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon fresh ginger (or sub for ground ginger) 

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 oz Milk of choice

On the stovetop, heat your milk of choice in a small saucepan over low-medium heat until it starts to simmer. Then, add fresh ginger. You can substitute for ground ginger if you don’t like too much heat or if you don’t have fresh ginger on hand. Continue on low heat for about 1-2 minutes. Then, remove from heat and add the turmeric and cinnamon. Whisk to incorporate the mixture. Then, place a small sifter over your mug (a tea stepper will work too), and strain before serving to remove the ginger and any remaining clumps. This recipe is fully customizable depending on how much turmeric you like or how much ginger or cinnamon you like in your latte, so feel free to experiment! 

Matcha Latte

For you matcha lovers out there, this is probably what your drink of choice is every morning. For those who want to venture into the wonders of matcha and sick of the jitters you get from coffee, try this on for size! Matcha is a powerful antioxidant that contains the same levels of caffeine as brewed coffee and about half the caffeine of espresso. However, it doesn’t come with the jitters or crashes that are characteristic effects of coffee. Matcha contains amino acid L-Theanine, which slows the release of its caffeine content, giving you sustained energy throughout the day.

matcha powder, and matcha whisk  

Matcha Latte Recipe

(serves 1) 

½ to 1 teaspoon matcha powder 

¼ cup hot water

Sugar, honey or another sweetener (to taste)

6 oz milk of choice

Measure the matcha powder into a bowl or wide mug. Add hot water and stir with a bamboo matcha whisk until the powder dissolves and there are no visible clumps. Then, add your sweetener and stir until dissolved. For hot, heat up your milk of choice over the stovetop before adding to the sweetened matcha mixture. For cold, you can prepare the matcha mixture ahead of time and add your milk of choice straight from the fridge; or add a few ice cubes before adding the chilled milk to complete your matcha latte. 

 

Strawberry Matcha Latte 

As San Francisco natives, we’re huge fans of the local tea shop, Boba Guys. They make an amazing Strawberry Matcha Latte that puts a sweet spin on a beloved classic. The strawberry puree sweetens up the drink for a bright pick-me-up in a cup. The drink is assembled in a sequence so that the thick strawberry puree sits on the bottom, slightly thinner milk is center, and the matcha is added on the top. This drink is best served cold and can easily be prepped ahead of time. Here’s our spin on this local favorite. 

Strawberry Matcha Latte Recipe 

(serves 4)

For the Strawberry Puree 

½ cup fresh strawberries, diced 

¼ cup raw cane sugar

¼ cup water

 

For the Matcha

2-4 teaspoons matcha powder

1 cup hot water 

16 oz milk of choice (4 oz per serving) 

In a small saucepan, add strawberries, sugar and water over medium heat. Once the mixture starts to bubble up, reduce to low-medium heat and stir–mashing up the strawberries as you go. When the puree thickens to a honey-like consistency, remove from heat to cool. Once cooled to room temperature, transfer the puree to a container to chill. 

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the matcha and hot water until dissolved. Let cool for a few minutes until room temperature. 

Prepare a 10oz glass to assemble your Strawberry Matcha Latte. First, spoon in a quarter of the strawberry puree to the bottom of the glass. Then, pour in 4oz of your milk of choice. Lastly, pour a quarter of the match mixture over that. The result should be a beautiful 3 part drink. Serve with some ice and a reusable straw and stir before enjoying. 

If you’re getting a little stir crazy, stir up a nice cup of coffee or tea, take a break, and enjoy. We’re loving this time to declutter, be introspective, and to really push the limits on our creativity. How are you spending your shelter-in-place? 

 

Categories
Lifestyle

Grow your own produce from kitchen scraps

Getting a bit stir crazy cooped up inside during COVID-19 shelter-in-place? Us too. We know a lot of you guys have been cooking for yourselves at home so you’re probably wondering about the same things we are–like, can we grow some of our frequently purchased produce at home? If you find yourself constantly using certain grocery items, it might be a good idea to set up your own little garden at home. 

There are so many benefits to growing your own produce at home. Most common produce items are extremely easy to grow. All you need is some water and some sunlight to grow most of these fruits, vegetables, and herbs from their otherwise discarded scraps! 

  1. You can control what goes into your produce–it doesn’t get more organic than this.
  2. You’ll end up saving money in the long run! If you’re constantly buying garlic, or if onions are a staple in your home cooking, it might be worthwhile to start growing your own!
  3. Especially during shelter-in-place, grocery shopping has become difficult in some regions where high demand for certain produce has resulted in scarcity. Seriously–have you tried driving to 6 different stores just to find fresh basil? It’s brutal. Growing your own produce at home means you’ll have your own supply, and no need to worry about finding it at your local store. 
  4. Produce from the safety of home. It’s important for your health to limit exposure, which is why staying at home helps to flatten the curve and reduce new cases of COVID-19. Having your own supply of fresh produce reduces the need for you to go out and find your essential ingredients. 
  5. It’s sustainable. You produce what you like to eat, and chances are, that doesn’t include harmful pesticides that are detrimental to the environment. Plus, there’s no need to wrap up your produce in a plastic produce bag either (although, we like to use reusable produce bags anyway), or worrying about extra packaging or the cleanliness of your produce. 

Seriously, there has never been a better time to start your own home garden than now!

Scallions

Green onions, also known as scallions, are super easy to grow and they grow FAST. Just cut off 1-2 inches (2-5 cm) from the root of each scallion stalk and place them in a glass jar with clean water. Replace the water daily to ensure healthy growth. If you want to foster the growth of these more, transfer the growing scallions into nutrient-rich soil in a pot. Otherwise, growing them in the jar on your countertop works fine too. Just trim off what you need and replace the water frequently. 

Garlic

Garlic is used in many different cuisines so it’s no surprise that this might be something you’re using quite frequently nowadays. To grow garlic from the grocery store, it must be organic to ensure it hasn’t been treated with pesticides and or treated to prevent sprouting. You’ll want to select a large clove from the bulb–preferably one that has sprouted slightly already. Place the clove in a shot glass with water just filled above the root end of the clove. Once the clove has sprouted roots, transfer to a pot with soil and cover the entire clove, leaving the sprouted end above the soil surface. 

Basil 

This fragrant herb provides flavor and aromatics to any dish. They can be quite expensive, and oftentimes we don’t end up using all the basil before it goes bad–bummer! Luckily, these can be planted quite easily. Take a single stalk of basil and put it in a glass with water and change the water every other day until you notice roots beginning to sprout from the base of the stalk. Once this occurs, transfer the basil into a pot with soil, water, and watch it flourish. 

For that matter, mint, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, and oregano are all highly successful herbs to regrow from kitchen scraps using the same method. 

Lemongrass 

Lemongrass can be placed into a jar with water until roots begin to sprout. When this happens, transfer the lemongrass into a pot with soil. Water these every day for the first week. They need lots of direct sunlight, so make sure you put them in a spot that gets plenty of sun. It’ll take 4-6 months before you can harvest. When it comes to harvesting, trim your stalks (leaving 1-2inches in the soil) and freeze the lemongrass until its needed. 

Lettuce

Cut off the base of the lettuce and put into a shallow bowl half full of water. Be sure to change the water in the bowl every couple of days. You’ll begin to see leaves sprouting from the original stems. You can continue to harvest and trim the leaves for salads or sandwiches! They won’t get as large as the original bunch through this method, but you’ll definitely get more out of the lettuce you purchased from the store. There isn’t always success with lettuce, so it’s a good idea to keep trying if your lettuce isn’t producing new leaves

Celery 

Celery is a relatively easy vegetable to grow from kitchen scraps. Cut off the base where the stalks meet, and place into a bowl of water. Once it starts sprouting new leaves, you can leave them in the bowl or continue to let the flourish be transferring them to a pot with soil. Cover the base with soil, leaving only the new sprouts visible and water daily. 

Get creative with your garden! We don’t know how long this shelter-in-place will be but we can make the most of it and pick up a new hobby–like gardening. I mean who could complain about fresh home-grown food?

 

Categories
Sustainability

How to live sustainably during a pandemic

These days, living a sustainable lifestyle seems to have taken a backseat to grabbing what we can from the stores while they’re still on the shelves. Seriously, why can’t a person find paper towels or toilet paper anywhere? Whether it’s the result of hoarding or that people simply have been using more due to quarantine, this is a cause for reflection on how much we’re using. 

In recent news, grocery stores have temporarily banned reusable grocery bags from entering the premises. In addition, quarantine or shelter-in-place for COVID-19 means that more people are ordering takeout than before. This is causing a major spike in plastic consumption during this time and expected to rise as more time passes. 

Reduce, reuse, recycle–is this possible during a coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, or rather any global crisis for that matter? We think so. If you really thought about it, you could very well find workarounds for using say, too many paper towels, or too much plastic wrap, or even too many disinfectant wipes. 

Refrain from buying bottled water

The importance of sustainable habits and living a mindful lifestyle is more important than ever. As we approach Earth Day, we want to drive home the fact that people are buying more plastic bottled water than ever, among other products, that add to the single-use waste issue. Bottled water should be used as a last resort in disaster situations to provide relief to the masses. Not for daily consumption. 

Plastic bottles are made with toxic chemicals like BPA that will leech into the very water it’s bottling, and as you can gather, you’d be exposing yourself to unnecessary chemicals by drinking it. Instead, use a filter system to eliminate heavy metals from your tap water, or use your LARQ Bottle to purify and eradicate germs from your water. 

Reduce paper towel use 

If you got your hands on paper towels, that’s great! But that doesn’t mean that you should use them to your heart’s content. Paper towels can be used for everything under the sun, but if you’re using a sheet every single time you wash your hands, this can get quite wasteful. 

The CDC recommends washing hands thoroughly and wiping dry on a clean cloth or air drying. The important steps are lathering with soap and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds (about the length of singing “Happy Birthday” twice). Use a clean cloth to wipe your hands. You should replace your hand towels routinely depending on how many people in your household are using it–the frequency should be increased if there are more people using the same cloth after washing. 

For light kitchen spills or cleaning, use a washcloth for spot cleaning countertops after cooking instead of using paper towels or disinfectant wipes every time. Simply hand wash the washcloth with dish soap and warm water after each use and hang it to dry. 

You can probably tell there are a lot of little ways to reduce your paper towel use. Always reuse when you can. And please, don’t hoard essential products like this from people who might desperately need them. People caring for infected loved ones at home or severely ill individuals need these to take extra precautions at home. 

Be stingy with your disinfectant wipes

Some of us are in a place where nothing that enters the home without a good disinfectant wipe-down, and with good reason. However, being extra careful doesn’t mean being extra wasteful. With wipes, we all know sometimes they’re a little too saturated or the sheets are too large for what you’re using them for. 

How I’m living now with my partner has changed drastically since our pre-shelter-in-place days. First of all, before quarantining, I only used disinfectant wipes to do a weekly deep clean of my room, living areas, kitchen, and the bathroom. Now, it’s used for everything that enters the house. So, we try to cut down our sheets if we only ordered a few grocery items via Instacart, or packages from Amazon. If we did a big grocery haul, we cut a sheet in half and divide and conquer. For phones and other electronics, we’ve been using 91% Isopropyl that we already had on hand, soaked a tiny spot of this on half of a cotton pad (yes, we’re being stingy with this too), and wipe our phones down. Alternatively, we’ve been using our Bust-a-germ box to do a zero-waste UV-sanitization clean. The Bust-a-germ box was a really quick and easy DIY on how to build your own UV-sanitizer to utilize with your LARQ Bottle caps you already have. We built two Bust-a-germs for our phones, keys, hand sanitizer, and even our reusable face masks. Basically, anything that we took with us out goes into the Bust-a-germ as soon as we get home and finish washing our hands. 

Use your DIY Bust-a-germ box

The Bust-a-germ box is no doubt the best method to sanitize sustainably and without the use of scarce resources like disinfectant wipes or sprays. This DIY UV-sanitization chamber we concocted uses your LARQ Bottle cap’s PureVis™ technology to neutralize bio-contaminants from your household objects without the use of harsh chemicals or supplies you can use for other things. This device has saved us from using too many disinfectant wipes and sprays which we use on larger surfaces and objects in the house. Did you know your LARQ Bottle’s technology could do all that? Well yes, it can, and all the while, it’s doing the same thing in your water bottle to purify water and keep it bacteria-free. 

Make your own reusable face mask

The CDC is officially recommending the public to use or make reusable cloth face masks instead of buying N95 masks or even surgical masks as these should be reserved for our frontline healthcare professionals. In fact, we donated the 1,000 face masks that we had on hand to healthcare heroes fighting COVID-19. And instead, we’re using our own reusable cloth face masks, reducing the amount of time we’re out to avoid exposure, and staying 6ft apart from others when we are out. 

 

Reusable cloth face masks are more environmentally friendly than single-use masks. They’re not meant for people who are regularly interacting with a loved one who is ill, but are for everyone who is not working the frontlines during COVID-19. Just remember to launder or hand wash your reusable face masks routinely (depending on the frequency of use) and follow the CDC’s guidelines on how to make reusable cloth masks

Use reusable containers or eco-friendly cling wrap

Due to the quarantine, we’re staying home and cooking a lot more, which also means that there is the potential need for plastic sandwich bags and saran wrap for storing leftovers. Not to mention all the takeout containers for those days where you’re ordering in instead. 

If you’re cooking up a storm and have leftovers, opt to use your reusable food containers instead or eco-friendly cling wrap made from silicone or beeswax instead of saran wrap. 

As for your frequent takeout situation, we believe you should support local restaurants, but try to limit the amount of takeout you’re ordering in a week. Or, make a note to the restaurant to omit single-use cutlery from the order, or encourage restaurants to use paper instead of plastic. 

Prevent food waste 

For those of us who aren’t used to cooking every meal, cooking at home can be challenging and inadvertently result in food waste. An easy way to prevent this is to plan ahead. Do your research on some meals you want to cook. It’s important to find recipe ideas that call for similar ingredients. Also, keep some produce on hand that you know you can whip up something fast with like avocado toast, grilled cheese, or a caesar salad. Just remember to consume within a week to avoid food waste! If you haven’t already, compost any food scraps. This reduces the volume of waste going into landfills and helps repurpose organic material. 

Reuse glass jars

Whether you’re buying tomato sauce or jams, opt for glass jarred products instead of plastic at the grocery store when possible. These glass jars can be recycled or even upcycled as containers around the house. You can grow your own scallions in just some water in a glass, and 2-3 inches of the root of the scallion. You can organize your snacking nut collection in jars or make some overnight oats in them too! Think beyond the kitchen and organize your push pins or paper clips in the glass jars. The possibilities are endless.

Take shorter showers

Water conservation is more important than ever as more products are being produced all the time. Most processing, produce, and production requires an amount of freshwater and carbon emissions. Only 3% of the world’s water is freshwater supply, and 70% of that freshwater supply is used for agriculture. With everyone (hopefully) washing their hands frequently, we’ll need to find other ways to conserve water. 

Categories
Wellness

17 Fitness apps that will help you achieve your fitness and health goals

Calorie and nutrition trackers

Whether you’re trying to get stronger, build muscle, lose weight, or hit all your nutrition goals to be healthier, your diet is a huge part of your fitness and health journey. Ever heard the phrase, “you can’t outwork a bad diet”? Well, that rings true in all aspects. No matter how hard you work out at the gym, if you’re eating poorly, you won’t achieve the results you want or need for your health. Luckily, there are apps that will help to calculate your macronutrient or micronutrient goals, log your daily caloric intake, and track your progress throughout your journey.

MyPlate Calorie Counter

MyPlate is an app by LIVESTRONG, that provides more than just nutrition help. They’re focused on meeting health goals, not necessarily fitness goals by offering users customized meal plans, recipes, and workouts to help you along your way. MyPlate tracks daily calories, exercise, and progress towards your health goals, develops customized meal plans for your target macros, includes free recipes to inspire you to eat healthier, and short workouts and estimated calories burned per workout.

Free

Available on: iOS and Google Play

MyFitnessPal

This calorie counter app is beloved by many for its interface, vast user-uploaded meals that make calorie counting a little easier, and ability to scan packaged foods and upload its nutrition into the app. Their premium version offers features like a macronutrient chart that shows you your macros by the gram or percentage in your diary, food analysis, CSV export, and more. However, the free version is tried and true and is great on its own!

Free

Available on: iOS and Google Play

FatSecret

For all you keto dieters out there, FatSecret helps you count your calories and your macros to ensure you stay on track. You can even connect it to your Apple Health app and Fitbit to sync your fitness stats with the app and keep everything in one place.

Free

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Carb Manager: Keto Diet App

Another one for you keto-ers and low-carb dieters out there. It tracks net carbs, macros and micronutrients in over a million foods, includes keto-friendly or low carb recipes, meal plans, shopping lists, and can be integrated with your Fitbit, Garmin, and other apps like Apple Health and Google Fit. You’ll be good with using the free portion of Carb Manager, but there is an option to upgrade to Premium which includes more recipes, exclusive premium recipes, personalized meal plans, unlimited logging and more. We’d recommend starting off with their free version if you’re just starting out on your keto journey and upgrading to the more robust Premium once you feel the need to kick things up a notch!

Free, Premium for $39.99 USD for 1 year

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Strength training apps

Working those muscles? Us too. If you need a little guidance when it comes to weightlifting or strengthening and toning up, it’s important to keep in mind good form to avoid injury. Strengthening your muscles is not only going to help sculpt your body, but it will also help you build muscle tone that will help you get stronger and to burn fat. Ready to get really really sore?

Nike Training Club

Leave it to Nike to create a completely free fitness app that is actually really amazing. NTC is a beautifully designed app that’s easy to use and includes a huge library of workouts for all fitness levels, workout preferences, variable equipment (or no equipment so you can work out at home), and features workouts led and guided by their Nike Master Trainers and sometimes celebrity athletes. Each workout is guided by voice, includes video instructions on how to do each move, and sets the interval time for you so all you have to do is follow along. It really is like having a personal trainer with you. Nike is constantly expanding their library so now you can find everything from yoga to HIIT and boxing to bodyweight training.

Free

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Fitbod

Fitbod is a strength training app designed to guide you through your workout at the gym. It takes the planning out of your gym session so you can focus on getting those reps in and getting stronger. Their method is unique because it personalizes your workout plan based on your strength-training ability, studies your past workouts and maximizes the equipment available to you.

Free

Available on: iOS only

Fitness Buddy

Similar to Fitbod, Fitness Buddy is another great app for guidance at the gym. What we love about it is the animations (with real people) that show you how to do each move with the ability to select the type of equipment available to you. The app also includes curated workouts you can do at the gym or at home too! We’d recommend it for anyone who’s just getting started with weight training or cultivating an at-home gym.

The free version is pretty straight-forward and easy to use for guidance at the gym with free weights as well as machines. With premium, you get curated gym workouts, custom workout creator, exercise videos nutrition plans and more.

Free

Premium: $9.99/mo; $29.99 billed annually

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Yoga apps

Whatever your fitness goals are, yoga is always a good idea to include in your workout routine. Why? Well, yoga focuses on strength and balance as much as it does on flexibility. It’ll help improve posture so if you’re working at a desk all day, you need yoga in your life. You’ll also find the practice of yoga particularly relaxing–maybe not at first as your body is getting the hang of the positions, but it is a nice change from your usual cardio or gym session.

Asana Rebel

Asana Rebel uses the foundations of yoga to bring robust yoga-inspired fitness to your workout regimen. You can find meditative yoga tutorials as well as fat-burning HIIT workouts using yoga moves you never knew could burn so much. The free version contains loads of yoga videos to follow along and do wherever you are–upgrading to premium unlocks even more variety of videos and workouts if you ever get bored of the free ones or want to deepen your practice.

Free

Premium: 3 months $43.99

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Daily Yoga

If you’re looking for an all-around yoga app, look no further. Daily Yoga features a ton of guided yoga classes, meditation, work out plans, and even mixes in HIIT, pilates, and vinyasa to help you burn fat. You’ll stay motivated too with workouts and challenges that you can complete that will show up in your practice profile. It becomes really addicting once you have a few days logged and minutes. The app is free to use but you can upgrade to their Pro subscriptions for added features and more workouts.

Free

Premium: $12.99 – $19.99/mo

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Meditation and wellness

Mental health and wellness are of the utmost importance when it comes to overall fitness. Studies have shown that exercise alone can help improve mental health, ease anxiety and reduce stress, but what about when you’re not working out? Meditation is great for your health and can help you develop a calm and mindfulness most of us desperately need. It’s not a cure-all for all mental health issues, but can be a solution and a practice that will help you make the days more bearable.

Headspace

We love Headspace because of how it is set up. You can ease into your meditation practice if you’re a total newbie and you will feel better and better each day. It does take practice to truly be able to focus on meditation, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to use your practice whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. It’s a great tool to have and Headspace will help you get there.

The free portion of Headspace includes the foundation of meditation and mindfulness that will help you get you accustomed to the practice. You can upgrade to the premium subscription plan that includes the basics, mini-meditations for busier schedules, themed meditations, mindfulness exercises and more extras that will deepen your practice.

Free

Premium: $12.99/mo ; $7.99/mo billed annually

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Calm

If you’re looking for a meditation app that also helps you get more restful sleep, Calm is it. The downside is, this app doesn’t offer a free version past its 7-day trial, but it’s a great app that we couldn’t exclude from this list. They’ve created a platform that masterfully combines methods to help you meditate and sleep better–something we all need–and even includes their unique Sleep Stories, which are basically bedtime stories read by well-known voices to help you drift off into a deep slumber. What are these well-known voices you ask? Let’s see… there’s Matthew McConaughey for starters–need we say more?

7-day free trial, then $59.99 billed annually

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Running & cycling apps

Charity Miles

OK, folks–if you’re running you need to use Charity Miles. With Charity Miles, you can select a charity ranging from categories like health, children, animals, environment, education, veterans and more to fundraise for. You can turn your evening jog, walk, dance or cycling session into a fundraiser for the charity of your choice by connecting in the app and tracking your activity. Every mile you log means money for your selected charity. If you needed the motivation to get moving, we hope you’ve found it here.

Free

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Runkeeper

If you’re looking to track your progress and runs, map routes and discover new ones, Runkeeper does all that and more. Runkeeper lets you schedule your runs and helps you stick to your goals. If you’re training for something like a marathon, the app lets you set distance, pace or weight goals so you can stay motivated and on track. They even have audio cues to let you know what your pace, distance and time is without having to look at your phone. Keep in mind that the free version offers tracking and logging of activities and basic stats (that’s really all you need), but the Runkeeper Go–their premium version–includes the aforementioned progress insights, stats, tailor-made workouts, weather insights, live tracking and more.

Free

Premium: $9.99/mo

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Strava

Strava is a unique running and cycling app built as a social platform for athletes. Not only does it allow users to map routes, view popular routes, and track new ones, but it also includes a social aspect where users can share trails and routes, photos, cheer each other on, and meet new people. The complex GPS mapping system connects with your phone, GPS watch or head unit, heart rate monitor or power meter to record your stats and track your performance so you can focus on getting better.

The free portion of the app allows you to track fitness activity, record your run, map cycling routes, and analyze training with stats. With their premium upgrade called Summit, you can get a customizable workout and training plans, get live feedback on your training, and extensive performance metrics. There are three Strava Summit packs you can opt into for a fee: Training, Safety, and Analysis–depending on your needs you can sign up for one, two, or all three. Each offer different use cases like race analysis with the Training Pack and live GPS tracking for the Safety Pack.

Free

Premium: 1-pack $24/year; 3-pack $60/year (17% discount)

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Boutique fitness studio locator apps

As boutique fitness studios are becoming more popular, we wanted to include a few apps that will help you find a studio or fitness class you love. Not all of us enjoy lifting or going for runs and that’s totally okay. There are a ton of different workout methods you might enjoy that hit all your cardio and strength training needs without having to lift heavy weights at the gym or running on a treadmill. Some of these include kickboxing, pilates, yoga, barre, cycling–you get the gist. The following apps make it easy to find something you love and reinvigorate your enthusiasm for working out again.

Mindbody

Mindbody allows you to explore an immense library of fitness classes, studios and even salons and spa treatments around you easily and acts as a platform for reservations without the need for pesky memberships or complicated sign-up processes. The app even connects to your Fitbit if you want to track your workouts and heart rate from the classes you take all in the app! We love that it allows you to easily reserve classes instead of having to call or drop-in.

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Classpass

Classpass offers membership to users to access a wide array of fitness studios across the US without having to sign up for a bunch of different studios. If you’re still on the search for a workout method that you enjoy, or if you’d like to try out a bunch of different fitness classes, Classpass might be for you. You’ll also save money this way since you won’t be paying drop-in rates at all the fitness studios you’ll be trying.

Available on: iOS and Google Play

Zenrez

You can find group fitness classes to attend last-minute at a discounted rate on Zenrez in major cities across the US. The platform includes fitness classes like boxing, barre, Zumba, Pilates, TRX and many more. They’ve built a network of fitness studios all over to make it easier for people to discover new fitness studios in their area. We love Zenrez for this reason. It’s easy to just jump into a class on a whim and try something new for a change. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find your new favorite thing.

Available on: iOS only

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LARQ News

The DIY Bust-a-germ Box: Sanitize your household objects in a pinch!

With resources running low, our wonderful LARQ Community has been asking us how to use the LARQ cap in other ways. So, we’ve been experimenting and testing to find out how. You can actually leverage our PureVis™ UV-C technology to neutralize bio-contaminants from common items like your cell phone, keys, remote, or even your keyboard! This means there is less need for using single-use disinfecting wipes and paper towels. If there’s a way to reduce, you know we’ll always take it. Since we’re all quarantined safely at home, we’ve concocted a step-by-step guide to making your own method of sanitizing objects at home with things you most likely already have around the house–including your LARQ Bottle’s cap!

We’re calling it: The Bust-a-germ Box

How it works

With the scientifically proven power of UV-C LED technology, PureVis™ is effective at neutralizing bio-contaminants in Adventure Mode, a 3-minute cleaning cycle you can activate with a double-tap of the button. UV-C is germicidal at 200-280nm, and our PureVis™ technology operates at the optimal 280nm wavelength to bust germs. The power from UV-C at this wavelength can effectively neutralize bio-contaminants from the air, surfaces, and water. 

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about how UV technology works to neutralize bio-contaminants. Devices like UV wands aren’t as effective because they require optimal conditions. UV-C is most effective in environments where the distance between the UV-C light and the object is controlled and the duration of sterilization is controlled–which is why we cooked up this Bust-a-germ Box DIY recipe to help you take household items and upcycle them to sanitize items around your home! 

With The Bust-a-germ Box, you’ll be taking your LARQ Bottle’s cap and putting it to use outside of the usual self-cleaning and water purification in your LARQ Bottle! This DIY will allow you to eliminate germs from things like your keys, remote controls, phones, and just about anything that can fit into it without obstructing the light!

The Bust-a-germ Box works best with objects that have flat or curved uniform surfaces. Items like glasses, headphones or a computer mouse are great examples of things you can sanitize.

Pack it up, box it in, Let me begin
I came to clean, infect me that’s a sin
I won’t ever slack up, cold you better back up
Try and stop the world and yo the whole crew’ll act up
Get up, stand up, c’mon, wash your hands up
If you’ve got the inklin’, use our box for cleanin’

inspired by “Jump Around” – House of Pain

Before you start:

  • Ensure that you remove as much lint and dirt as possible from items that you are using in the Bust-a-germ Box. UV-C is effective in neutralizing bio-contaminants that are invisible to the naked eye, so physical sediments like dirt or dust are not going to be removed by the UV-C light. 
  • Sanitize all the pieces for The Bust-a-germ Box
  • Sanitize your work surfaces 
  • The Bust-a-germ Box works best with two LARQ Bottle caps
  • Avoid direct contact with skin and eyes! 
  • Please be careful when handling any sharp objects

What you’ll need:

LARQ livelarq.com icons for aluminum foil, pen, and box cutter

  • A LARQ box or a similar box that is close to 11”x4”x4” (28.2 x 10.16 x 10.16 cm) in size.
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tape
  • Box cutter
  • Ruler
  • Pen, pencil, marker or marker
  • Protective gloves

The Bust-a-germ Box

This ideally requires two LARQ Bottle caps for maximum efficacy. The PureVis™ light emitted will cover more surface area so you can sanitize objects with ease. 

  1. Upcycle a LARQ Bottle box and measure about 4 inches (10.16 cm) from left to right. Repeat on the right side.Step 1 Bust-a-germ box. Measure 4 inches from the left and the right and make marks with a pen.
  2. Outline 2 circles where the LARQ Bottle caps will be placed against a side of the cardboard box (we’d recommend a side that doesn’t multiple layers of cardboard when closed). Make sure they are drawn on the same side of the box.LARQ Bust-a-germ box step 2. Outline circles for the LARQ caps where you made the markings in step 1.
  3. Cut out the circular outlines with a box cutter or scissors. Please exercise precaution when doing this! LARQ Bust-a-germ box step 3. Cut out the circles you outlined from step 2
  4. Use tape to line the inside of the box with aluminum foil, leaving openings for the holes where the LARQ Bottle caps will go. LARQ Bust-a-germ box step 4. Use tape to line the inner walls of the box with aluminum foil (shiny side up). Leave holes for the LARQ caps.
  5. Affix the LARQ Bottle caps into the holes you cut out.LARQ But-a-germ step 5. Affix the two LARQ caps in the holes.
  6. Now, you’re ready to toss in a set of car keys, cell phone, face mask or any other small item into the aluminum foil-lined box and activate the PureVis™ technology at the push of the button.
    LARQ Bust-a-germ step 6. Place an object into the box (a smartphone is pictured here). Then close the box.For maximum efficacy, double-click the button of the LARQ cap to activate Adventure Mode–a 3-minute cycle that basks the object with purifying UV-C light. 
    LARQ Bust-a-germ step 7. Double-click the LARQ caps to activate Adventure Mode. After 3 minutes, the cleaning cycle is finished. Then flip your object over and repeat this step.
  7. After the cycle, flip the object over and repeat. 

LARQ Bust-a-germ step 8. Flip the object over and repeat step 7.Double-click the LARQ caps to activate another Adventure Mode cycle. After 3 minutes, your object has been sterilized!

The Bust-a-germ Tube

The tube version of this project will require a cylindrical box or container. Due to the rounded inner surfaces, the PureVis™ UV-C light reflects and covers more surface area of a given object. The tube should be 10.8 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches (27.5 x 9.8 x 9.8 centimeters) or larger in size. We recommend using two LARQ caps for better performance but you can also use one LARQ cap.

Bust-a-germ Tube version by LARQ

The Bust-a-germ Tube Instructions

  1. Upcycle a LARQ Bottle Movement box or tube-shaped container and measure about 7 inches (17.78 cm) down from the cap and make a mark
  2. Take a box cutter and cut the tube in half. Put the bottom piece of the tube aside – you’ll use this if you have a second LARQ Bottle cap (See below for Double Cap instructions)
  3. Take the lid of the tube box and align the LARQ Bottle cap where you want to cut an opening. Outline the LARQ Bottle cap with a pen or pencil.
  4. Use tape to line the inner walls of the tube with aluminum foil. The foil will help reflect the UV-C light to provide more coverage. Line the box lid with aluminum foil being careful to leave an opening where the LARQ Bottle cap will go.
  5. Put the LARQ Bottle Cap into the hole of the lined lid. 
  6. Take the other half of the tube, cut out the bottom piece so you can use it to cover up the bottom of the first half of the box.
  7. With that bottom piece, align the LARQ Bottle cap where you want to cut an opening. Outline the LARQ Bottle cap with a pen or pencil.
  8. Affix the second LARQ Bottle cap to the new opening. Use tape to secure both caps on either end of the bottle. (Tip: Lay both halves of the bottle on their sides to make assembly easier!)
  9. Place an object in the center of the Bust-a-germ and close the opening. You’re ready to double-click to activate Adventure Mode on both caps at the same time to start busting germs!

 

If you only have one LARQ cap, follow the steps below:

  1. Place a piece of aluminum foil on your tabletop to increase reflectivity and to protect the surface.
  2. Now you’re ready to eradicate germs from things at home that need a serious clean! Double-click the button of the LARQ cap to activate Adventure Mode–a 3-minute cycle that basks the object with purifying UV-C light. After the cycle is complete, flip the object over and repeat. 

Bust-a-germ around the house!

Your high-touch items like house and car keys, your phone, wallet, and even pens should be sanitized using PureVis™ every so often to keep bio-contaminants at bay. But what about high-touch surfaces like doorknobs and other surfaces around the house, you might ask? Don’t worry we’ve got that covered too. 

LARQ PureVis™ Bust-a-germ DIY used on a doorknob to sterilize and eradicate bacteria & virusesLARQ PureVis™ Bust-a-germ DIY used on a AirPods to sterilize and eradicate bacteria & viruses

Get creative with what’s available to you. We used an empty and cleaned yogurt container here. Cut a circular opening for the LARQ Bottle Cap and line the inner walls with aluminum foil. Just make sure the opening of the Bust-a-germ Box fits over the object in question! 

Use LARQ Bust-a-germ to sterilize surfaces and objects around the house.