Categories
Lifestyle

Mother’s Day Gift Guide: At-home Edition

An extended shelter-in-place order means that mom’s most-wanted items may have changed a bit. A lack of leisurely activities, parties, and dinners means fashion items are out of the question. Likewise, your original ideas to take her on a trip are beyond reach. The good thing is, ordering online and having things sent to mom for Mother’s Day is easier than ever before. 

Here are some gift ideas that will help this quarantine Mother’s Day feel like the most special Mother’s Day yet. Even from a distance, mom will feel that love. 

 

Food delivery 

Due to shelter-in-place, mama might’ve been having to cook a lot more than usual. Give her a day or night off from cooking with credits to a food delivery service available in her area! DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats, Caviar, and more are just some examples of food delivery apps to check out. Or, as the perfect child you are, you can deliver her favorite food to her as a special surprise! It might take some coordinating to make sure she’s home and isn’t cooking anything, but it’ll be worth it!

Self-cleaning water bottle

mother's day gift guide - self-cleaning water bottle - personalized engraving on LARQ Bottle

Overall health and wellness start with what you put into your body. The LARQ Bottle uses PureVis™ UV-C light to eradicate harmful bacteria and viruses from the water and bottle. It also intelligently activates every 2 hours to maintain cleanliness, stopping bacteria before they have the chance to grow–one thing mom won’t have to worry about! This self-cleaning mode triggers a glowing blue light on the exterior of the bottle, a neat reminder for mom to hydrate. Plus, she’ll think of you every time she takes a sip. 

Facial steamer 

Is your mom missing her spa days? If she’s a beauty buff, she’ll really appreciate this gem. It’s a splurge-worthy investment for a mom preserving her beauty. A facial steamer will help to open up her pores and welcome in those coveted beauty products she’s using every night. 

Microcurrent facial toning device

Along the same vein as the facial steamer mentioned above, this microcurrent facial toning device has become a trending product in the last couple of years–highly revered by celebrities for lifting and toning the facial muscles with each vibration. It’s great for anti-aging, fine lines, wrinkles, and elasticity in the skin. She can thank you for the best skin of her life. 

Candle or aromatherapy diffuser

vitruvi aromatherapy diffuser mother's day gift idea
Vitruvi Stone Diffuser by Vitruvi

A scent that reminds you of her, or a new one that you suspect she might like, is a worthy gift for mom. She’ll appreciate the sentiment and think of you every time she lights up the candle or turns on that diffuser to relax. We love Otherland candles for their long-lasting burns and beautiful scents. A personal favorite is “Daybed”, a fresh floral scent with a very subtle sweetness. If you’re looking for gifting with amazing packaging this is it. For diffusers, check out Vitruvi for their stunning stone diffusers that go with just about any home interior.

Loungewear

Most of us are getting quite comfy at home, and with no exception–whether mom is still working right now in a frontline job or at home trying to keep busy, she can’t complain about a new set of loungewear to relax in. 

Massage gun 

Mother's day gift guide - Theragun G3

Is your mom constantly complaining about pain in her body? What she might really need is a good chiropractic adjustment or a massage, but that’s not possible right now. The next best thing is getting a massage gun like Theragun to help relieve some of her pain. Make it a care package and bundle some topical ointments and some sweet treats that’ll make her feel the love. 

Weighted blanket

Fears of COVID-19 can have some effects on mood and anxiety levels as we ponder through the uncertainties of the world right now. What mom really needs is a big hug from you, but in the absence of contact, a weighted blanket is a close second. Weighted blankets have been proven to relieve stress and anxiety as well as helping improve posture when sleeping. A favorite of ours is Bearaby, made from natural, breathable materials and even weight distribution to improve deep sleep. 

Flowers

A cliche, but trust that it’s a favorite–despite your mom telling you not to get her flowers. 98% of the time, she will love receiving them anyway. Now, in all seriousness, you know your mom better than anyone and if flowers are her thing, go for it!

 

Whatever you’re getting for your mom, a good ol’ handwritten card will light up her day. Not seeing your face for a while means she’s probably missing you a whole lot more. It’s time to break out that old pen and write a heartfelt note, and maybe even grab that Polaroid and snap a picture to mail with it. In this digital age, there’s nothing that she’ll love more than something she can hold in her hands and cherish forever. 

 

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
Lifestyle

13 Special Valentine’s Day gifts you and your partner will enjoy

Picnic basket 

If you and your partner like to enjoy the fresh air of the outdoors, planning more picnics would be a great way for you to do that together. This Valentine’s Day, gift a picnic basket and plan a day at the park. It’s one of our favorite romantic outdoor date ideas. You’ll use it for more picnics together in the future in an eco-conscious plastic-free manner. 

Record player 

By now, most of us music-lovers have Bluetooth speakers in some shape or form. If you and your partner love the sound of vinyl but haven’t committed to buying one, maybe now’s your chance. Think of all the quiet nights in you’ll spend dancing the night away to Aretha Franklin or Sam Smith. If that doesn’t cry romance, I don’t know what does. 

Matching LARQ Bottles

LARQ Bottle Movement Black Onyx bottle set
LARQ Bottle Movement: Power Couple Set

If drinking more water has been on your list of wellness habits to build for 2020, you need to get yourself and your partner a pair of self-cleaning water bottles. Because the LARQ Bottle self-cleans using UV-C LED technology, the water bottle doesn’t develop a smell that is usually caused by bacteria and mold growth. Gross, right? That’s what happens to the average reusable bottle when it hasn’t been washed in more than a day. For peace of mind and freedom from the chore of washing your water bottle daily, you and your partner can do more important things. How about that pottery class you guys have been meaning to take? Or maybe that hiking trail that’s been on your list for some time now? Now’s the time!

Shop LARQ Bottle Sets

Nebia 

Nebia Spa Shower 2.0 in Matte Black
Courtesy of Nebia

Want a shower experience that feels as good as it is for the planet? The Nebia showers use between 45-65% less water than a standard 2.5gpm showerhead. Their H2Micro Technology makes this possible by atomizing water into millions of micro drops that create a spa-like experience that no other shower can mimic. Yes, all while conserving water without sacrificing the luxury experience of a shower. Nebia recently partnered with Moen on their newest model to achieve their goal of saving one billion gallons of water by 2021. You can pre-order the new Nebia by Moen now on Kickstarter (Estimated to deliver by May 2020). 

Robot Vacuum

Are you and your partner practical people who enjoy nothing more than practical gifts for one another? Getting a robot vacuum is probably the best investment you’ll make for your home–especially if you have a pet. No more pet dander and fur balls–just a clean house. How romantic. 

Aromatherapy diffuser

Vitruvi aromatherapy diffuser in matte black
Courtesy of Vitruvi

Ease all of your moods (and your partner’s moods) with a Vitruvi aromatherapy diffuser. Keep it by your bed and scent your home with essential oils stylishly. Essential oils have shown to relieve stress and promote overall wellness. If you and your partner are all about relaxing after a long day of work, an aromatherapy diffuser is just the thing to add to your lifestyle. 

Matching Travel Mugs

Always on the go with your morning matcha or coffee? Make mornings more enjoyable with matching travel mugs by W&P Design. Because of their ceramic construction, they don’t transfer flavors so you won’t get that residual coffee taste when you’re drinking your freshly brewed tea. Taking a travel mug with you will prevent more coffee cups from being wasted and contributing to this global single-use issue. Plus, bringing your own mug to most coffee shops will save you some money.  

 

A new eco-friendly mattress

What’s more romantic than treating you and your partner to and new bed–and an eco-friendly, non-toxic one to boot. The Avocado Green Mattress is completely organic and has dozens of certifications to back up their product so you know they’ve done the work and the research to create a high-quality product that is good for you and the planet. You’ll enjoy this mattress together for years to come.

Spa Robe 

Ettitude 100% bamboo lyocell waffle weave robe
Courtesy of Ettitude

Ever go to a spa and wish you could take the robe with you? The Ettitude waffle bathrobe gives you that experience without leaving the comfort of your home. It’s great to wear year-round–it’s ultrasoft, moisture-wicking and fast-drying. It’s also hypoallergenic, feel silky smooth on your skin, and made with 100% organic bamboo lyocell so it’s easier on the planet too. Continue with the theme by setting up an at-home couples’ massage for a relaxing Valentine’s date. 

Weighted blanket 

Bearaby Tree Napper weighted blanket in Stone color

A weighted blanket tops the list for a variety of reasons. For starters, it’s thoughtful; for a partner with anxiety, the gift of a weighted blanket is one of many ways to show you care and want to help in more ways than one. Plus, you can both cuddle under it while watching TV or reading together. Lastly, it’ll look great in your home, adding to the warm environment you’re cultivating. 

Scratch off map

Whether you’re a globetrotter or a national parks enthusiast, a scratch-off map will remind you and your partner to adventure more together. So if you are up for the challenge, see how long it takes you to cover every national park on your bucket list and more. 

Fresh linen sheets

Coyuchi Organic Linen Sheet Set in Moonlight Blue
Courtesy of Coyuchi

If you and your partner are lovers of all things home, you’ll love focusing your day of love on the bedroom. The bedroom is your sanctuary–for some of you, it’s your shared space–so why not adorn it with luxurious yet environmentally-conscious bedding? Buying organic textiles means fewer carbon emissions and less strain on the planet, according to the Textile Exchange. That’s why brands like Coyuchi are creating beautiful Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified linens. Inspired by coastal California, Coyuchi’s linens will make your room feel light, airy and fresh. A couple’s paradise, if you will.

Custom art prints 

We’re going to get even more sentimental here. Art prints are a great way to add a personal touch to your space. If you’re a married couple, framing your vows is utterly romantic and straight out of a novel–bring on the tears. If you and your partner are raising fur babies together, get a custom portrait of your pets. Getting an art print of the destination of your first kiss, or your first date or even the most memorable date you’ve had with your partner is also a great way to get all mushy gushy on Valentine’s day. We’re not crying, you’re crying. 

 

Categories
Lifestyle

7 Romantic Outdoor Date Ideas

Planning something special for Valentine’s day can be a daunting task, but if you’re really in the mood to woo your S.O., you can do it with a thoughtfully planned romantic outdoor adventure. Scenic hikes, picnics, camping, glamping, and other outdoor activities are the makings of a fun and romantic date you and your S.O. will enjoy and remember for years to come. 

Take a day hike

A simple idea, but one that can be jazzed up to feel even more special for Valentine’s day or anniversary date idea. Find a hike that neither of you has been to, or maybe one that’s been on your bucket list for a while. Another fun idea is for the two of you to write down a bunch of different hiking trails or parks, put them in a jar and draw one at random! You can keep that jar of adventures for the next time you and your significant other run out of cute date ideas. How romantic. 

 

Prepare some food for the hike, a picnic blanket, and plenty of water from your favorite self-cleaning water bottles, and other refreshments. You can make it extra special by splurging on the food you both love. Don’t forget to research several spots where you can set up the picnic that will have a great view (just in case some are taken when you’re there). And lastly, remember to relax and enjoy each other’s company! 

Try a new activity  

What’s something neither of you has done together before? Ice skating? Snow-shoeing? Horseback riding? An outdoor spa? There are a ton of ways to enjoy the outdoors even when it’s cold out that are both romantic and fun. If things have been stressful lately, trying a new activity together is an especially fun way to let loose, be silly, and to be carefree. REI (yes, the same REI you go shopping for all your outdoor gear) has dozens of classes all over the US you can take. 

Take a class

With dozens of classes in different areas of interest, you can find something new to learn or do together. Who knows? Maybe you’ll both pick up a new hobby along the way you can share with one another. Try cooking classes if the two of you usually eat out a lot together, a pottery class if both of you don’t mind getting a little messy and creative, or even try an outdoor photography class so you can finally capture those adventures you’re always taking together. Want something more challenging? Try a rock climbing class to literally take your relationship to new heights. 

Go on a scenic drive

Sometimes the best destination is no destination. Driving aimlessly on the open road, blasting your favorite music, maybe sharing new ones, or throwing back oldies you both know the words to, and having meaningful conversations with one another, are the best parts about scenic drives. 

 

Pick a scenic route that you may have heard about but have never actually taken or one that’s nostalgic, but somewhere your significant other hasn’t seen yet. You can look up a few places to eat around your route, but the beauty in a day like this is to wander and explore with your loved one. Making it a somewhat spontaneous day out can reignite some untapped creativity or joy–and who knows, maybe you’ll find your new favorite place on this new adventure. Just make sure to pack some snacks for the road and lots of water (you’ll need it after singing at the top of your lungs!). 

Go stargazing 

If you live in a city with a lot of light, this may be particularly special for you and your significant other. The idea of this is inherently romantic–whether it’s driving up to a vista point somewhere to look at the view and enjoy the stars, or if it means camping in the wilderness to enjoy the fresh air, sounds, and more stars in the sky than you’ve seen in a while. Put together a playlist of you and your significant others’ favorite songs, bring come cozy blankets, refreshments, and maybe even some chocolate covered strawberries. 

Go glamping

This may require a bit more planning and booking in advance, but it’s sure worth it and definitely special. If you and your significant other like to enjoy the outdoors but want a touch of luxury to go along with it, a glamping trip might just be the thing for you. Rent a yurt or cabin for the weekend, and bring everything you need for s’mores and a good time. You can bring some refreshments, camping food, and even some board games. Here’s another cute idea–bring a canvas and some paint and do your own “paint nite” together in the woods. Bring on your artsy sides! Better yet? Just relax and enjoy the outdoors with your favorite person. 

Bonfire on the beach

This is typically something you may do with a group of friends, but it’s 10 times more romantic to do just with your significant other. Make sure you go to a beach that allows bonfires and be sure you are doing it safely in the designated areas. Typically, national parks beaches and other public lands will have information regarding campfires or bonfires on their websites. Beware of high tide and nearby fire hazards like docks, bushes, and trees–stay as far away from these areas as possible. 

 

Now that we’ve got the safety warnings out of the way–because nothing is sexier than being prepared–make sure you have everything you need to hang out by the bonfire with your beau. Bring warm clothes and lots of blankets, beverages like beer, wine, water (of course), hot chocolate–whatever suits your fancy–hot packed food, biodegradable wet wipes, cards or board games, a portable Bluetooth speaker, external battery, and maybe even an iPad to cuddle and watch your favorite movies or shows on. When you’re ready to head home, don’t forget to pack everything you brought out with you and follow the Leave No Trace principles to ensure your beach stays beautiful. Lastly, make sure you’ve followed the proper method of putting out your bonfire to ensure the land, wildlife, and people don’t get hurt. 

 

Valentine’s day is a great excuse to show your partner how much you care–no matter if you’ve been dating for three months or three years. But don’t let the romance die after Valentine’s day is over. Be spontaneous and plan more adventures together in the outdoors. Connecting with nature is the best escape for whatever lifestyle you’re living. So go ahead, let your inner romantic shine and show your partner how much you care.

Categories
Lifestyle

8 Things we’re ditching in 2020

This year, we’re more focused than ever on sustainability and bettering the planet. Yup, it’s 2020 and in case you haven’t considered it yet, it’s time to make some changes when it comes to what we’re putting into the Earth. 

 

Ever heard of microplastics? They’re small, broken down pieces of plastic from literal trash humans have created that end up in the land or the ocean less than five millimeters in size, which then are consumed by wildlife and thus ingested by humans. Plastics are treated with toxic chemicals like Phthalates and bisphenol A–among a wide range of other toxic chemicals, which as you could infer, remain toxic even when the litter becomes microplastics that are later absorbed by marine life and ingested by humans. There isn’t enough research to indicate the potential health risks to humans, but we know these chemicals are toxic to the environment, wildlife and humans, so why don’t we make efforts to reduce this kind of waste now before it’s too late?

Single-use straws

Forget 2020, these should’ve been ditched back in 2017. With many accessible alternatives, single-use straws should be a thing of the past. The turtles and generations after you will thank you. Plus, let’s be real, it probably only takes you 10 minutes to finish your iced coffee anyway–is it worth the waste these straws produce? Do yourself and the planet a favor and snag a set of stainless steel straws, stash them in your car, work bag, at home or at your desk so you’re never without one. 

 

Plastic bags

Not all plastics are created equal. Plastic bags, in fact, are not recyclable. Don’t use them to bag your recyclables and don’t use them to hold your groceries. Plastic bags end up in landfills, litter our water systems, streets, and pollute the ocean. Get with the new decade and get yourself some reusable grocery bags you can use for every Whole Foods run. Stylish and sustainable–that’s how we like it. 

 

High red-meat diets 

Before you red meat lovers write this off, listen–I love red meat, and with the risk of the vegetarians and vegans coming for me, it’s hard for me to give it up cold turkey. Red meat, among other animal-based foods and food products, are bad for the environment for many reasons. They require a lot of natural resources, making their carbon footprint significantly higher than their plant-based counterparts. Hence, the influx in demand for plant-based products. In addition to preventing environmental repercussions, of course, there are a plethora of health benefits to switching to plant-based diets including reduced cholesterol, less bloat, and lower risk of certain diseases and cancers. For 2020, join many others in reducing red-meat consumption. If not for the planet, then for your overall health. 

 

Processed foods 

Trust me, we love a good snack with Disney+ as much as the next guy, but reducing consumption of processed foods means reducing plastic and single-use waste as well (think about the packaging!). In fact, back in March 2019, we went plastic-free for a month here at LARQ HQ, and we saw first hand how dependent we are on single-use plastic. If you’re not fully convinced, try it for yourself: be conscious of how much waste you’re tossing away each week. 

 

Plastic cups 

“Can I get a cup for water?” – something you probably ask when dropping by your favorite taco joint or the movie theaters. You’ll probably receive a plastic cup for water that you’ll probably refill once at the most and then toss into the garbage. Can we just ditch this kind of single-use waste now that we’re in 2020? With so many options of reusable water bottles–and even our LARQ Bottle that uses UV-C LED technology to automatically sanitize the inner walls and purify water–you can truly have water everywhere you go. No need to grab that dinky plastic cup. 

 

Coffee cups

Sip on your favorite cup of Joe without adding to all the coffee cups in the landfills. Just like cups for water, coffee cups are just as wasteful and unnecessary. Instead, invest in a good thermos or a tempered glass reusable coffee cup. Some coffee shops even give you a discount for bringing your own cup–you know, to offset that oat milk substitution. 

 

Plastic wrap 

Just like all single-use waste, plastic wrap has got to go in 2020. Believe it or not, there are alternatives that actually work. Try wrapping your loose food items in bee’s wrap, use Tupperware to store food, or use these silicone cling wraps in a variety of sizes that fit everything from bowls to cups to sauce dishes. 

 

Plastic produce bags

If you think about it, a grocery store trip can be extremely wasteful if you’re not conscious about what you’re using. Produce bags are not recyclable. They’ll eventually end up in a landfill and most likely into the ocean. The solution? Don’t be afraid to carry that single apple to the checkout. You’re going to wash it when you get home anyway, right? There are also reusable mesh produce bags you can use for heftier trips. Pro tip: put all your reusables by your keys so you remember to bring them with you when you leave the house. 

 

Small changes make a great difference when more people start to adopt them. Refuse single-use whenever possible and start building habits for a sustainable future. It’s 2020, and it’s time to ditch single-use waste. 

 

Categories
Lifestyle

How to have an eco-friendly holiday

Educating your guests about your eco-conscious soiree will be your contribution to the Earth this month. Events surrounding the holidays can be extremely wasteful–holiday parties, gift wrapping, travel and creates a larger footprint than needed. Although some are unavoidable, there are ways to reduce waste for a more sustainable holiday. 

Buy a real Christmas tree instead of an artificial one

A real tree can be composted after it has served you through the holidays, but an artificial one–although reusable year after year–uses a lot of resources to produce, and when you inevitably throw an artificial tree away, it’s going straight to a landfill where it will take tens of thousands of years to disintegrate. So if you buy an artificial tree, hopefully, you’re keeping it forever–or opting for a real tree (the experience is better anyway).

Reuse packaging for gift wrapping 

craft holiday wrapping paper with ribbon

You know all those boxes you’ve opened in Christmases past? We hope you saved them because now’s the time to bust them out to reuse! Hopefully, your recipients reuse these boxes too–extending the lifespan from single-use to reused. 

If you don’t have gift boxes from previous years, use shipping boxes from packages. You can easily dress them up with kitchen twine, ribbon, or string you have lying around. Add some fresh greenery and a handmade tag, and your wrapping is complete!

Send gifts directly to recipients to minimize waste 

To minimize waste from wrapping paper–and avoid wrapping altogether–let the experts do it! Have your gift shipped directly to your giftee! If you’re online shopping for gifts anyway, this will be a nice surprise they’ll love, sans wasteful wrapping paper

Wrap gifts in reusable bags

Instead of using wrapping paper or gift bags for your presents, put them in reusable bags that your giftee can reuse in the future! It’s a great nudge to get people to bring reusable bags with them everywhere they go. It’s like a gift within a gift. 

A gift that doesn’t need to be wrapped

Isn’t it always great to say a lot without having to do a lot? If you’re attending a holiday party and don’t want to show up empty-handed, a bundle of wintery greens or florals is an amazing gift and, you guessed it, doesn’t need to be wrapped. Wine, chocolate, homemade cookies, candies, and toys or treats for the host’s pet, are just a few examples of gifts that don’t need to be wrapped!

 

Use things you already have around the house

A lot of us have things around the house that would be great for wrapping or decorating around the house. Avoid buying new holiday decor by reusing things around the house or hitting up the local thrift stores. In fact, you might score some amazing finds that you forgot you had–or some cool antiques that are sure to strike up a conversation. 

 

Twine can be used to wrap around gifts, scrap paper for tags, magazine paper as wrapping paper–you name it. If you’re lacking holiday decor, it might be a good idea to ask your parents if they have things lying around that they could lend or give to you. Our parents or relatives could potentially have old things they’ve accumulated over the years that will make gorgeous (and nostalgic) holiday decor. Plus, if you’re hosting the festivities this year, they’ll be great pieces to reminisce on with the entire family. 

Use dinnerware or opt for compostables

If you’re hosting a gathering that’s more manageable (4-10 people), you could get away with using your nice dinnerware and washing dishes later. However, for large holiday parties, there’s a reason why disposables are so popular. They’re convenient, cheap, and fuss-free–BUT they’re plastic, and not the recyclable kind. If you can’t avoid using disposable dinnerware for your next event, try compostable options (easily accessible via Amazon). Don’t forget to keep a marker nearby for guests to write their names on their plates and cups! As you may know, lost dinnerware is how waste starts to build up. 

 

Items from nature make excellent decor 

holiday table setting

A nice winter drive around town with a friend or two looking for cute holiday decor in the wild can be a really fun activity. Pine cones and branches that have broken or fallen off trees make a beautiful tablescape or fireplace decor. You could even try making a wreath if you can find enough of them! 

Ask to keep the trimmings from your Christmas tree

woman holiday a wreath in the snow

If you buy a real tree, chances are they will trim off the straggling branches to create a clean trunk to sit in your tree stand. Ask them for the trimmings, which are usually free since they’d throw them out anyway. The trimmings can be used to decorate a mantle, a dining table or even used to create a DIY wreath. 

 

Energy-saving outdoor lights 

Instead of stringing a ton of lights up for the holidays, there’s a much easier way to decorate and reduce your footprint–light projectors. These save time, energy (yours and the electricity kind), and take holiday decorating to a new level. LEDs are way more efficient and energy-saving than incandescent lights so it makes a whole lot more sense to buy LEDs. 

Whatever you’re celebrating, remember to keep your footprint in mind, seek to reduce and reuse, and don’t forget to spread the holiday cheer. Oh, and don’t forget to pack your LARQ Bottle with you to skip out on any single-use plastic bottles. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by LARQ (@livelarq) on Dec 14, 2019 at 11:01am PST

 

Categories
Lifestyle

Luxe Holiday Gifts Ideas You Might Just Keep for Yourself

Looking for some fail-safe gifts? While you can’t actually please everyone, you can come really close to it. Here’s a lineup of practical and nifty gifts the special people in your life never even knew they needed. That’s how you know you’re winning already. 

Stress-relieving Weighted Blanket 

holiday gift guide weighted blanket
Bearaby Velvet Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets have been gaining a lot of traction lately because they’ve been shown to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better. Who knew having some weight on top of you could do all that? Gift this to anyone who’s having trouble sleeping or can use the extra help to relax–a.k.a all of us. 

Shop the Bearaby Velvet Weighted Blanket, $249 – $279

An external battery that fits in your wallet!

holiday gift guide external battery lifecard
Lifecard Lightning External Battery

At this point, pretty much everyone has an external battery, but we typically go for a pretty hefty amount of mAH to get more bang for our buck. For someone who’s always on the go and tends to use their phone a lot, this is a great gift! It’s super slim and fits into a wallet–plus, it has an attached lightning cable that seamlessly fits into the battery. Yep, no more carrying around a bulky battery and cables. Your loved one is gonna love this. 

Shop Plusus Lifecard Lightning External Battery, $49.99

 

Light-up wall panels 

This one is a wild card for sure. For the techy person who is always blasting music at home, DJing at parties, and loves things that light up (yes, it’s a thing!), they’ll absolutely love this. The Nanoleaf Rhythm are panels that you stick onto your wall and respond to the rhythm of the music you play. There are varying options for colors, types of movement and more so your friends or loved one can enjoy them for a long time to come. 

Shop Nanoleaf – Rhythm Edition – 9 Panels, $199.99

A water purification bottle

2 LARQ Bottle 17oz. / 500ml in Obsidian Black and Monaco Blue
LARQ Bottle – 17 oz / 500 ml in ( Pictured left: Obisidian Black; Pictured right: Monaco Blue)

For people who love things that light up, or basically anyone who drinks water, a LARQ Bottle makes the perfect gift. With built-in UV-C LED technology that neutralizes bio-contaminants in the water and inner surfaces of the bottle, your giftee will love having a stink-free bottle. With every purchase, 1% of proceeds will go to 1% for the Planet too, so you and your loved one can feel good about this gift inside and out. 

Shop LARQ Bottle – UV-C purifying water bottle, $95

Waterproof Speakers 

Ultimate Ears Lagoon Blue Bluetooth Waterproof Speakers
Ultimate Ears BOOM 3 Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker – Lagoon Blue

For the music-obsessed and life of the party, these highly-rated waterproof speakers are a wonderful gift and their design-forward monochromatic look is truly speaking to us. These are highly-rated for their impeccable sound and bass and boasts a 15-hour playtime so the party can keep on going. 

Shop Ultimate Ears Portable Bluetooth Waterproof Speakers, $149.99

Sustainable spa shower

nebia spa shower 2.0
Nebia Spa Shower 2.0

Feast your eyes on the shower system that will take your home to new lengths by saving you money, water, and energy–for a more sustainable home. The Nebia 2.0 provides 3x faster droplets and 2x greater coverage while saving 65% more water than a standard shower. We talk a lot about preventing plastic waste here, but another concern is conserving water. The Nebia is an innovative product and a luxurious gift even the person-who-has-it-all doesn’t have yet. Plus, it’s stunning design is sure to please–and continue to please–well into the future. Did we mention it comes in Matte Black? (Hint: Pairs well with your Obsidian Black LARQ Bottle.)

Shop Nebia Spa Shower 2.0, $499

Fully functional Carryall 

Dagne Dover Landon Carryall in Siren - Red Duffle bag
Dagne Dover Landon Carryall in Siren

For someone who travels a lot, needs a new gym bag, is always on the go, a new carryall is a thoughtful gift–and this one’s a stylish one to boot with plenty of compartments so there’s a spot for all their things. This carryall even includes a trolley sleeve that effortlessly slides over your luggage handle making traveling extra easy!  

Shop Dagne Dover Landon Carryall, $95-$215

Smart garden 

holiday gift guide click and grow smart garden
Click and Grow Garden

For people who love to cook at home or love organic produce, this smart garden makes a great gift that keeps on giving! Even if your loved one doesn’t have the greenest of thumbs, Click & Grow makes indoor gardening easy with Nespresso-like biodegradable pods containing different herbs and vegetable seeds that make planting new produce easy!

Shop Click & Grow – The Smart Garden 3,  $99.95

Wireless charging dock 

Holiday Gift Guide Stay Courant Wireless Charging Accessory Tray
Stay Courant Wireless Charging Accessory Tray – CATCH:3

Although most new smartphones are equipped with wireless charging nowadays, most people don’t have them yet! Get your giftee a sleek looking wireless charger that’ll make life a little easier and keep their cables in check at home or at the office. The Catch:3 is our top pick as a sophisticated and delightfully techy catchall for the nightstand. Perfect for wirelessly charging your Airpods and iPhone at the same time–no plugging necessary. 

Shop Stay Courant Wireless Charging Accessory Tray- CATCH:3, $175

 

Airbnb Gift card 

holiday gift guide airbnb gift card
Airbnb Gift Card

When in doubt, get a gift card, but not just any random gift card–an Airbnb gift card. Why? Whether you’re gifting to your avid traveler friends or to that friend that doesn’t even have a passport yet, or your parents who are long overdue for a weekend getaway–this gift is thoughtful and easy as pie to get for a loved one. 

Shop Airbnb Gift Card

Luxurious bathrobe 

Holiday Gift Guide Ettitude Bathrobe
Ettitude Waffle Bathrobe

Loungewear is even better when it’s gifted. A bathrobe is certainly a taste of luxury for some people and a gift anyone can use! Your giftee will love lounging around the house in this because of its surprisingly silky texture. The waffle knit gives it a spa-like feel that anyone will enjoy. 

Shop Ettitude Lyocell Waffle Bathrobe, $80

Cashmere sweater

holiday gift guide cashmere sweater
Everlane Cashmere Sweater

A classic holiday gift is a sweater–but not your Aunt Joanie’s cable knit sweater–a cashmere one. This is one luxe gift people will really appreciate. It’s like a hug they can wear. 

Shop Everlane – The Grade-A Cashmere Crew Sweater, $120-130

 

Spafinder gift card

Holiday Gift Guide Spafinder Gift Card

Have a friend who loves massages and all things relaxation? Get them the Spafinder gift card! They’ll be able to select their own services at any local spa that’s partnered with Spafinder so they can relax however they want when they want. Just make sure to check your giftee’s local area to make sure there are plenty of options for them! 

Shop Spafinder Gift Card 

Categories
Lifestyle

Back to school essentials for students and teachers

As summer comes to a close, we’re welcoming another school year that’s just around the corner. So of course, we got to thinking that maybe you’d appreciate some well-designed back-to-school essentials for students and teachers that make you stand out from the crowd. That’s right–we’re not neglecting our teachers here. Whether you’re in high school, college, in grad school or even attending coding boot camp, here are some of our top must-haves.

Backpack

When it comes to backpacks, everyone’s personal style is different. We’re judging these by form and function–it’s what we do. They’ve gotta have enough room for a laptop, notebooks, pens, and be versatile enough to take us from school to the gym to home, and sleek enough to not be embarrassed about. Whether you’re a student or a professor, you’ll find these to be practical without compromising style.

Beis – The Backpack

Photo via Nordstrom

Why we love it: It’s chic and designed for travel. Shay Mitchell’s brand, Beis, has quickly become a favorite for travel. She designed the bags specifically to have functions she uses on her trips so you know you’d get a lot of uses out of it. It features a separate laptop compartment closest to your back for added security. The large front compartment opens up all the way and includes straps that hold everything in, sort of like a suitcase. It will be your new favorite everywhere bag from school, work, and gym, to weekend trips, overnights, and travels abroad.

Buy it hereBeis The Backpack, $78

The North Face Isabella Backpack

Photo via Nordstrom

Why we love it: We love North Face backpacks because aesthetically, they’ve got it right. The Isabella is on the flatter side so it won’t look like you’re lugging your whole life with you, plus this keeps the backpack from weighing you down and hurting your back. Premium materials will make this baby last a long time too. We love that there are plenty of compartments including a main compartment with a sleeve that will fit up to a 15” laptop, front stash pocket, and a bunch of other pockets that will keep you organized. You can’t go wrong here.

Buy it hereThe North Face Isabella Backpack, $85

Tumi Innsbruck Backpack

Photo via Nordstrom

Why we love it: Not only does the Innsbruck have a unique design, but it also is super functional–as Tumi products are–with plenty of pockets inconvenient places (like an earbud pocket in the straps), removable waterproof rain cover with reflective strips (cyclists will love this!), a padded compartment that will fit up to a 15” laptop and more. We love this sleek not-too-bulky look.

Buy it hereTumi Innsbruck Backpack, $395

Lo & Sons The T.T. Tote

Photo via Lo&Sons

Why we love it: This tote is super lightweight and easy to travel with. It’ll fit up to a 13” laptop in a padded sleeve and carry all the essentials with you without being something you’ll overstuff. It’s perfect from going from class to meetings to the office. Lo & Sons does a great job with all of their bags to ensure that bags are organized and there’s literally a place for each of your things.

Buy it hereLo & Sons The T.T. Tote, $260

Notebooks

Taking notes? Bullet journaling? Sketching? Doodling? Notebooks have not completely disappeared from us just yet. For those of us who still enjoy writing with pen and paper, notebooks are absolutely essential. Now, you might want to pick up a bigger one for taking notes as a full-time student, but a smaller one will be perfect for taking everywhere you go and using as your go-to for all your thoughts you jotted down.

Karst Stone Paper Notebook

Photo via Karst Stone Paper

Why we love it: We’ve talked about this notebook a lot because, if you could tell, we’re obsessed with the design of this notebook and this brand as a whole. They’re carbon neutral, use stone paper instead (no trees were harmed in making them!), and the perfect sizes for daily use.

Buy it here: Karst Stone Paper Hardcover Notebook, $29

Leatherology Leather Journal

Photo via Leatherology

Why we love it: If you’re a fan of luxe touches in your stationery, you’ll love this leather journal. It’s a sleeve that you can use on any softcover medium notebook, but this will come with one in case you don’t have a different favorite just yet. You can even personalize it which makes things a lot more, well, personal.

Buy it here: Leatherology Medium Journal, $70

Astier de Villatte Small Notebook

Photo via Catbird NYC

Why we love it: I mean, what’s not to love? These designs are already getting our creative juices flowing. Astier de Villatte’s papers are printed traditionally from methods that very few printers still use. Astier de Villatte is a master printer in France that mixes their colors from ink reservoirs and on rollers so each notebook is unique. If you’re looking for something artisanal and truly special, this is it.

Buy it hereAstier de Villatte Small Notebook, $20

Reusable Water Bottle

It’s no question this makes it on our list of essentials for back to school and beyond. A reusable water bottle is an essential, period. When it comes to reducing single-use plastic consumption, plastic bottled water still comes up as one of the most polluting single-use plastics on the Earth. As humans, we’re buying 1 million plastic water bottles per minute. PER MINUTE. And we have to ask ourselves, why are we still buying bottled water when reusable water bottles are so abundant? Don’t be a part of the statistic. Keep a reusable water bottle on you at all times where you can fill up at water fountains around campus, the cafeteria, or even your favorite pizza shop.

LARQ Self-cleaning Water bottle

Why we love it: Needless to say our original LARQ Bottle is an essential all day, every day. We literally don’t go anywhere without it. The LARQ self-cleaning water bottle uses proprietary UV-C LED technology that eliminates up to 99.9999% of bacteria so it’s something you always want by your side, especially when you’re out and about. You’ll quickly reach your water intake, essential for increasing focus and deterring fatigue caused by dehydration. Stay sharp and refreshed with the LARQ Bottle.

One of the key reasons we found to why people don’t use reusable water bottles is because they develop a stink over time–even after washing. You’re supposed to wash your water bottle every day, but do we? Probably not every day. Admittedly, the task is tedious and frankly, when we soak our water bottle to clean it, we usually forget to bring it with us the next morning when we’re rushing out the door. Sound familiar? Enter the LARQ Bottle, which we developed with UV-C LED technology not just to give you peace of mind when filling up your bottle at a questionable public water fountain, but also to neutralize odor-causing bacteria so your bottle doesn’t stink. Ever. This way, you won’t be reaching for any single-use plastic bottled water anytime soon and Mother Earth thanks you for it. Keep up the good work.

By the way, we’re now offering 10% off for students and teachers. Just verify here to receive your unique code to use at checkout!

Buy it hereLARQ Bottle, $95

Pens

Smooth-like-butter pens make note-taking and grading papers more fun– but they’ve gotta be great pens. You know, the kind that glides over your paper like it’s nothing, the kind that doesn’t ooze out too much ink at once, or the kind that is consistent until the last of the ink. Refillables are nice too. We love a less-waste situation.

Poketo Slim Pen

Photo by Poketo

Why we love it: First off, they’re sleek and gorgeous and go with any color LARQ Bottle you own. Second, they’re super smooth, refillable, and come in 0.5mm ballpoint tips. They have a good weight to them too–none of that flimsy stuff here. You’ll want to keep this on you at all times.

Buy it herePoketo Slim Pen, $8

Muji Smooth Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen

Photo by Muji

Why we love it: Note-taking can get pretty boring with just black or blue ink. Plus, it makes it hard to read afterward. Our favorite note-taking method is using color to create emphasis around a topic, make side notes, or highlight any specific topic to dive deeper into later. These Muji pens come in all sorts of fun colors, in a 0.5mm tip, and are super smooth so you can note-take like the wind.

Buy it hereMuji Smooth Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen, $1.49

Sakura Pigma Micron Fineliner Pen

Photo via Sakura

Why we love it: Love an ink pen but hate the bleed-through? You’ll love the Sakura Pigman Micron. It’s truly a favorite for bullet journaling and any kind of writing, sketching like dot-work or even writing in birthday cards (they don’t smudge either).

Buy it hereSakura Pigma Micron Fineliner Pen (6CT set), $11

Planner

Get your life organized with a planner for the year, whether that’s digital or physical. Sometimes it’s easier to have something physical you can write in and annotate the way you want. Ever buy a planner and stop using it after two weeks? Find a planner you love–that is organized the way you need it to be–and you’ll be motivated to use it.

Shinola 18-month Runwell Planner 2019-2020

Photo by Shinola

Why we love it: This Shinola planner gives us Monaco Blue vibes so you already know what we’re pairing it with. The planner is organized and has a place for all your thoughts, doodles, and to-do lists. And of course, it looks great so you’ll want to use it every day.

Buy it hereShinola 18-month Runwell Planner 2019-2020, $26

Headphones

These have almost become a staple in every backpack, purse, and gym bag. Music, podcasts, webinars, online classes–you got it all covered with a good set of headphones. Amp up the sound to drown out your roommate’s chatter and get into a deep focus. “Lo-fi Study Beats” or “Focus” anyone?

Beats Solo3 Wireless Headphones

Photo by Beats

Why we love it: If you prefer over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones, Beats is a great choice. We love the sleek design and colorways the line offers and impeccable sound (hellooo, bass).

Buy it hereBeats Solo3 Wireless Headphones, $160

Apple Airpods

Photo by Apple

Why we love it: Of course, we had to mention the n Airpods. They’re a favorite among Apple users, and for good reason. The support and connectivity just work better between Apple products. But if you’re not an Apple fan or user, other great true-wireless earbuds are the Jabra Elite 65t Earbuds.

Buy it hereApple AirPods with Charging Case, $159

Wall Calendar

Always getting your dates mixed up? Don’t. A wall calendar is a great way to give you an overview of what your week looks like, keep you on track, and well, it can be a great decor piece.

Minimalist Wall Calendar

Photo via Amazon

Why we love it: We’re loving this wall calendar design! It’s clean and minimal and the extra-large numbers give it a bold look, or for when you don’t have your glasses or contacts on. Clean, simple–just the way we like it.

Buy it hereStendig Wall Calendar, $50

Whiteboard Calendar

Photo via Amazon

Why we love it: A more sustainable alternative to the paper wall calendar is a whiteboard calendar. It already has a grid so you can write in the days and even take notes and plan out your days and weeks on it without the permanence of pen and paper.

Buy it hereU Brands Magnetic Monthly Calendar, $27

Digital Alarm Clock

Sure you could use your phone, but having an alarm clock makes sense for when your phone gets cracked and you need to leave it at the Apple store to get it fixed… just me? Either way, it’s good to have a clock of some sort that isn’t your phone–when your phone dies, when you lose it (under the covers or your papers), when you just want to look at the time without having your phone nearby–I could go on, but I won’t. Plus, your alarm clock can do a lot more than just tell time.

Bluetooth Digital Alarm Clock Speaker

Photo via GOgroove

Why we love it: This guy doubles as décor. We love this clean aesthetic and light wood look. Plus, it doubles as a speaker so you can jam out to your favorite songs when you get the room all to yourself or have friends over.

Buy it hereBluetooth Digital Alarm Clock Speaker, $30

Coffee Maker

Back to school means back to heavy studying, grading, classes, and extracurriculars. You probably want to invest in some good coffee and an amazing coffee maker to get you through the school year.

Chemex Classic Pour-over Glass Coffeemaker

Photo via Chemex

Pourover coffees have gotten a lot of buzz–and for good reason. You’ll get a more robust flavor from your quality beans. There’s a method to this that you’ll enjoy doing for yourself each morning. Call it your own morning self-care ritual.

Buy it here: Chemex Classic Series, Pour-over Glass Coffeemaker, $35

Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine by Breville with Aeroccino

Photo via Breville-Nespresso USA

If you’re looking for a real investment and not a fan of the pour-over method of coffee making, you’ll love this one. You’ll get a great brew every time, at the push of a button (just like how our LARQ Bottle purifies water at the push of a button!)–brilliant, right? On sustainability, Nespresso’s values are anchored in a commitment to restore environmental and human resources. The pods are made from aluminum and not recyclable through your traditional curbside method–instead, Nespresso offers recycling at their boutiques or you can order prepaid shipping bags to ship up to 200 empty pods to their recycling facilities. Nespresso claims that aluminum is “infinitely recyclable”, so they’re doing their best to make it easier for consumers to recycle their used pods.

Buy it here: Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine, $170

Sunscreen

Yes, you need to be wearing sunscreen every day. Going from class to class to dorm to the library to your friend’s apartment is a lot of outdoor activity where you’re exposed to the sun. The sun’s rays are damaging to the skin, even if you don’t see it right away. With prolonged sun exposure, chances of skin cancer, sunburn and premature aging can occur–and no one wants that. Still have reservations? We bust all your excuses for not wearing sunscreen in another article here. Just make sure your sunscreen is also reef-safe to cover all your bases.