Working from home can have its perks, like working with your pet beside you, or not having to put on makeup or wear real pants (or any pants for that matter). However, working long hours in a less than optimal position can have negative effects on your posture and lead to back pain, neck pain, and even injury. Luckily, there are a few exercises to help you improve your posture while working from home, at the office, and beyond! And by “beyond”, we mean the couch.
Do these 5 exercises throughout your workday
You want to do these exercises periodically to reduce strain on your body. It’s a good idea to look away from your tech devices periodically anyway to reduce eye strain from the blue light. Take the opportunity to do some light stretching in between work! Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds each. If you feel any pain, stop immediately–these exercises should not be painful but feel like stretching.
Stretch out your neck An ideal desk setup would have your monitor at eye level to reduce neck strain. Unfortunately, not everyone has this setup–varying from sitting on our laptops on the couch, in bed, or on a stand that isn’t quite comfortable. These positions can cause you to hunch or extend your neck forward which can cause poor posture and lead to neck pain. Throughout the day, sit or stand up to roll your neck to either side–slowly and comfortably to stretch your neck. Then, roll your head back and towards the front in a clockwise motion, and reverse. You should feel this stretch relieve some tension on the nape of your neck.
Roll your shoulders Ideally, your arms should rest at a 90º angle from your shoulder to your keyboard. If your keyboard or desk is too high, your shoulders may start to strain from being too high up. To stretch, drop your arms down every once in a while and shake them out. Then roll them slowly in circular motions.
Reach for the sky Simple but effective–this stretch lengthens your spine to relieve tension from being crunched up into that weird position you’ve found yourself in for hours. Interlace your fingers and reach your arms up (palms towards the sky). Then, bend to your left side and your right to stretch out your obliques.
Open up your chest Your chest can feel tight when you’re hunched over all day. With this stretch, open up your chest as you pull your shoulders back, with your hands placed on your lower back with elbows bent. As you deepen this stretch by curving your spine towards the back, you’ll feel your chest open up and some tension release from your shoulders.
Forward fold Taking a practice from yoga, this one will require you to stand up and then bend over, hinging at your hips, and reach for your toes. This stretch will relieve tension in your lower back. With this stretch, allow the top of your head, and your shoulders to relax toward the Earth to deepen this stretch.
Yoga for better posture
These are a just a few simple stretches to squeeze into your busy workday. If your back and neck are in need of some more TLC, we highly recommend practicing yoga, which has been proven to strengthen your core and other muscles, relieve back pain, and improve posture.
For the following moves, be sure to use a yoga mat for comfort and support. For kneeling positions, you can fold a towel under your knees for comfort. You can do these moves every day to improve your posture:
Child’s pose For this move sit on your knees with your knees shoulder-width apart. Then gently fold forward, hinging at your hips and extending your arms flat onto the mat. You should feel the stretch in your shoulders, releasing tension from your upper back and arms.
Cat-Cow Get on your hands and knees, with your knees at a 90º angle and your back flat (table-top position). Then, as you breathe in, arch your back, dropping your belly down and look up towards the sky. As you breathe out, tuck your chin to your chest and round out your back towards the ceiling. Repeat this for 20 seconds.
High plank Plant your palms shoulder-width apart on the mat, as you lift into plank position. The key to this is to engage your core and keep your back straight. You may have the tendency to curl your body up or dip your bitt down, so if you’re doing this for the first time, have a friend tell you if your form is correct. You should feel some tension in your arms and your core.
Downward-facing dog You can easily maneuver into this position from a high plank. From the high plank position, lift your bum up towards the sky, keeping your legs straight while extending your arms keeping your back and neck straight. Sort of like an upside-down V. This will stretch out your hamstrings as well as strengthening your back and improving your posture.
Thoracic spine rotation For this position, lay on your left side on your mat and bend your knees up into a 90º angle with your left arm stretched on in front of you. Exhale as you rotate your body and reach your right arm to the opposite side. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat on the opposite side.
Hip thrusts Strong glutes help support a strong lower back and relieve lower back pain by aligning your hips and pelvis, which can lead to better posture. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet planted on the floor. Then, left at the hips, keeping your shoulders planted on the floor, squeezing your glutes at the top. Repeat 10-15 times.
If you can spare 10-60 minutes a day to deepen your yoga practice, you will see more improvement in your posture over time. Yoga with Adrienne has a full library of yoga videos you can follow along with for free with varying durations so you can fit in your practice no matter how busy you are. You can also follow yoga practices on the Down Dog app or Nike Training Club. Don’t get discouraged, keep at it, and you’ll get stronger and stronger with every practice, and see major improvements in your posture!
Vacation season is upon us and you’re probably planning your next trip to a sunny destination to get your vitamin D on. Before you lay out in the sun for hours with your new book, remember to slap on the sunscreen all over so you don’t have serious regrets later in life. I’m talking about major skin damage from the sun from your seemingly insignificant time in the sun.
Think it’s no big deal? Think again.
At this point, you’ve probably heard every excuse in the book for why people don’t wear sunscreen. From tanning-related reasons to a general notion of sunscreen being completely unnecessary apart from using it at the beach. Well, I’m here to tell you, sunscreen needs to be worn every. single. day. Yes, I mean every single day.
Effects of frequent and prolonged exposure to the sun over time:
Increased risk of skin cancer
Skin discoloration (age spots, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, freckles, etc.)
As you can see, there can be dire consequences resulting from not wearing sunscreen, especially when you are in direct sunlight frequently (even if it’s for a few minutes a day). So think twice before you go out for your run, to work, or out on the weekend without sunscreen. It is also recommended to limit sun exposure between 10 am – 2 pm when the sun is at its peak.
How does sun damage occur?
The sun’s UV rays (UVA and UVB) penetrate the outer layers first, and with prolonged exposure or direct sun exposure, the rays will continue to penetrate the dermis (the middle layer of skin), killing the skin cells and thus damaging your skin. The sun’s ultraviolet rays damage the fibers in the skin called elastin which causes skins to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to bounce back after stretching. The skin will also take longer to heal from bruises or tears over time. The results of sun damage won’t be obvious when you’re young, but its effects will show later in life.
TLDR; exposure to the sun speeds up the aging process and increase your risk of skin cancer.
Now that you know all the risks to sun exposure, let’s dispell some of the myths about sunscreen:
“Sunscreen is sunscreen.”
I hate to break it to you but not all sunscreen is created equal. There are actually two types–chemical and physical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens have shown to pose health risks because they are absorbed into the skin and studies have shown that they may cause disruptions in hormones. The four chemicals in sunscreen you need to avoid are Oxybenzone, Octinoxate (Octyl methoxycinnamate), Avobenzone, and Retinyl Palmitate. Not only are these chemicals potentially harmful to your health, but they are also toxic to coral reefs (more on that later).
So what kind of sunscreen should you be looking for?
Physical sunscreens use minerals such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide that form a barrier between the sun and your skin. The Environmental Working Group (EWR) rates mineral sunscreens the highest in terms of efficacy (since they don’t absorb into the skin).
When purchasing sunscreen, always look for broad spectrum SPF which means it should protect you from UVA and UVB rays.
Did you know that the chemicals used in sunscreens are killing the coral reef and organisms that depend on it? Good news is that mineral-based sunscreens are considered reef-safe. About 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be deposited in oceans annually, resulting in the greatest damage found in reef areas such as Hawaii and the Caribbean. You can stop the damage by swapping out your usual chemical sunscreen for reef-safe sunscreens for face and for body.
“I want to tan.”
The notion that wearing sunscreen will prevent you from tanning is absolutely false. No, it does not prevent you from tanning but rather from burning; you’ll tan based on your skin’s melanin, not on how much sunscreen you have on.
“I am not going to be out in the sun for that long. I’m just going to the grocery store.” or “I work in an office all day.”
Even if you’re working from home, you need sunscreen. Windows from your home, car, on the train or even your office windows that let in sunlight, will filter out UVB rays but not UVA rays. Always, always wear your sunscreen.
“I never get sunburnt.”
Even if you don’t burn easily after spending time in the sun, you still need to put on sunscreen to protect yourself from UVA and UVB rays that can cause aging, skin discoloration, and skin cancer. The degree to which you get sunburnt is not a sign that you’re not going to get skin cancer.
“I don’t want flashback.”
Face sunscreens are notorious in the beauty community for leaving a white cast or having ‘flashback’ (when taking pictures with flash, SPF may make your skin look lighter), but there are a ton of sunscreens out there now that will appear nearly invisible–or that give you minimal flashback.
For people of color, it can be especially difficult to get sun protection without the white residue. Luckily, the beauty industry is taking note of this and there are great options for sunscreens that are virtually untraceable on the skin for people of color. Another great tip is to find tinted moisturizers or foundations that contain SPF 30-50 that match or blend into your skin tone.
“I have darker skin, therefore I don’t need sunscreen.”
It’s true that folks with lighter skin can burn more easily and have a higher risk of developing skin cancer than those with more melanin in their skin, but it is absolutely false that having darker skin will absolve you of needing to use sunscreen. Although skin cancer is less frequent in people of color, it is more fatal–as shown in a study conducted by The Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. The solution? Lather up no matter what.
“My SPF 100 sunscreen should last me all day.”
SPF 30-50 is considered an adequate amount to protect against UV rays. SPF higher than 50 is negligible because you’ll still need to reapply sunscreen every two hours. In fact, more SPF does not mean longer lasting sun-blocking power–it can actually mean that there are added chemicals in the sunscreen that can pose health risks. As a rule of thumb, always use between SPF 30-50 for sunscreen.
“I applied sunscreen on already and reapplying is too difficult.”
Realistically, people have a hard time reapplying because of the hassle of having to slather on more sunscreen, but if you’re in the sun for extended periods of time, this is an absolute must. Now, it’s more convenient than ever to reapply with powders, sticks, lotions, and sprays, so there really is no excuse.
“I went through my whole childhood without sunscreen and I don’t have skin cancer. My kids don’t need it either.”
Children should be taught to apply sunscreen whenever they are exposed in order to form a healthy habit and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Your child might be outdoors more often than you were growing up–you never know–don’t add to their risk of skin cancer. As parents, you should always pay attention to any birthmarks or moles your child has in order to distinguish a mole your child was born with between a new mole that may turn out to be malignant melanoma.
Doctors do not recommend applying sunscreen on infants under 6 months old. Instead, it’s recommended to limit sun exposure completely (stay inside), seek shade, or have your baby wear a hat. Consult a doctor if you are planning to be outdoors with your baby and are concerned about sun exposure.
“It’s cloudy outside.”
False. Sure, the clouds are covering the glorious sun, but it doesn’t mean that the sun’s UV rays are blocked too. UVA and UVB rays are able to penetrate through those wimpy clouds and cause skin damage and all of the above. And yes, you can get sunburnt on a cloudy day.
Please please please wear your sunscreen–and make it reef-safe at that. Share this post and be an advocate for sun safety among your family, friends, and beyond!
With all the noise and chatter that is this digital age–where your mind is constantly being overstimulated from work, social media, and general responsibilities of adulthood–it’s easy to lose sleep or fixate on things that are happening around you, which can almost always lead to unnecessary stress. At LARQ, we value wellness and strive to find ways to lead healthier lifestyles, whether it’s from drinking enough water to getting enough exercise, and even mediation.
During this time of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to unplug from the world. Whether stress is related to your adjusting to working from home, missing your loved ones, or even your overconsumption of social media (probably all of us), you can care for your personal wellness with one simple practice: meditation.
Meditation is a form of emotional wellness. Caring for the mind, managing stress, and promoting happiness.
We often think that meditation may be a waste of time, but it can be the best form of self-care you can give to yourself. Meditation doesn’t come easy the first few times around, but with practice, meditation can be a lifelong tool you can use to manage your stress. Take a moment to focus on being calm and mindful instead of thinking about that report due tomorrow.
Allowing yourself to pause for a few minutes a day can help you maintain your stress levels and give you the ability to recenter yourself during stressful situations.
An additional benefit to meditation is to practice quieting the chatter in your mind in order to sleep. Many people suffer from restlessness and inability to sleep, which can, in turn, lead to more stress. Your mind naturally wanders, but when you learn to meditate, you will find it easier to shut off those restless thoughts and doze off into a peaceful slumber.
Don’t get us wrong, it does take a bit of practice in order to find your rhythm. The trick is to be patient with yourself and give yourself the time to focus on your practice.
How to Meditate
Find a peaceful space
For some this can mean a bedroom, living area or even outdoors. Whatever makes you feel the most at peace. When you’re first starting off, it’s important to meditate in a quiet area. This will help you focus on your thoughts instead of external factors.
Set a time limit
It can be 1 minute, 3 minutes, or even 30 minutes. Take the time you have or need. (Tip: Set your alarm tone to something soft–the sound can be jarring)
Sit in a comfortable position
Whether it’s cross-legged, on your knees or on the edge of your bed, get into a position you find suitable for the time you’ve allotted for your meditation.
Focus on your breathing
Close your eyes, and begin by taking slow and controlled breaths; breathe in through your nose and exhale deeply through your mouth. Then breathe comfortably–focus on your inhale and exhale, the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe in and out.
Focus on being present. What’s happening around you? Is there a breeze blowing against your skin? How are you positioned? Are there sounds around you?
Allow your mind to wander
As David Gelles writes, “The goal isn’t to stop thinking or to empty the mind. Rather, the point is to pay close attention to your physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions in order to see them more clearly, without making so many assumptions, or making up stories.” It’s okay to let your mind wander, just remember to come back to the present moment.
End on a positive note
Thank yourself for taking the time to complete your practice. Reflect on what you’re grateful for that day and plan to incorporate meditation into your daily routine.
It’s okay to take a pause every once in a while to center yourself. Meditation is a great daily reminder to be mindful, be peaceful, and relax in a noisy digital age.
As far as design-y things are concerned, interior design is at the top of our list (next to sleek product design, of course). Has that wanderlust kicked in yet since your recent stay-at-home orders? We know ours have. So humor us with this journey around the world–in other people’s homes around the world that is.
The Parisian home
Ahh, Paris. When you think of Paris interior design, certain things come to mind–like gold, tall windows with tiny balconies where you sip your cafe au lait. Parisian apartments are rich and full of history, with antique fixtures and ornate trim that border every room.
For decor, touches of antiqued gold are sprinkled throughout. If it doesn’t have a chandelier yet, it demands one. If the space calls for it, vintage furniture works really well with the ornate trim and brass doorknobs.
The modern German home
German interiors boast clean lines, industrial elements, and meticulously chosen decor that looks sleek and finished. The plethora of indoor plants sure make this particular apartment feel lively yet moody. We’re about it.
There’s a lot of focus in this example on bright airy light grounded by clean lines with an architectural feel.
German interior designs feature elements like steel, concrete paired with natural elements to ground the overall look. The result is sleek, modern, and minimalistic.
The Scandinavian home
Scandinavian style homes marry the ideas of modern minimalism with a casual lived-in feel. Furniture items feature clean lines and sleek finishes with a solid color pallette–typically with softer colors.
For a hygge approach, decor is placed around the home “casually” to give it a lived-in look. A fluffy throw tossed over the living room sofa, or a medley of framed artwork leaned up against a wall make a space feel relaxed and homely.
As you can see here, it’s easy to mix up the furniture around the house with natural touches for a more laid back feel.
The Hong Kong home
Many interior design styles around the world marry old styles with the new, and Hong Kong is no exception. The interiors are updated to maximize light in smaller apartments, and modern furnishings mixed with bright colors and plants make the space feel happy.
Bringing the old world into the new is not an easy feat. This space features antique-y wood furnishings, vintage artwork and soft textures. You can’t help but sip your tea and read your book by this full-sized window.
The Modern Spanish home
Stained glass, bold colors, and vaulted ceilings come to mind when thinking of a traditional Spanish home. These interiors take Spanish-influenced style to a whole new level. The decor is an ode to its traditional roots that work well with sleek modern furniture. The result is an eclectic mix of old and new that we’d be excited to come home to every day.
Touches of glam that complement the traditional-style tiled floors, with an eclectic mix of furnishings totally works in this space. It feels like a home and an art gallery at the same time.
This space makes us want to take more risks in complementing the old with the new. The rug here and the color palette emulate the apartment’s stained glass windows.
This journey featuring different homes around the world satisfies that wanderlust we’ve been having. Whether for inspirational or utter curiosity, hopefully these spaces are getting your creative juices flowing. Maybe cause for a little redecorating?
If you’ve been following our adventure for a while, you’re quite familiar with our mission of eliminating plastic waste and improving the health of our planet, not just with our sustainable self-cleaning water bottles, but also with our philanthropic initiatives. We’re proud members of 1% for the Planet, a network of nonprofit organizations and like-minded businesses that are proactively saving the world.
What’s the problem, anyway?
Every minute, 1 million single-use plastic bottles are purchased. If we don’t act now, this number is predicted to increase by 20% by 2021. In addition, only 9% of plastic ever produced has been recycled.
So, where does it all end up?
Plastic ends up in landfills, littered all over the world, and in rivers that lead to our oceans. They take approximately 1,000 years to decompose, simultaneously leaching toxic chemicals like BPA (Bisphenol-A), a known carcinogen into marine life, soil, and consequently, our food. The average person ingests about 70,000 microplastics a year–that’s about 100 pieces of plastic per meal. With this, comes long-term consequences to your health, which is why our passion for ending single-use plastic consumption is so great.
As the world’s single-use plastic consumption is skyrocketing in today’s climate, we were eager to find a nonprofit to partner with that can help. We’re proud to announce that we’ve partnered up with Plastic Bank to help clean up our oceans.
Plastic Bank has employed over 4300+ collectors around the world to intercept ocean-bound plastic. Our impact helps clean up the ocean and provides a living wage to families in developing countries like Haiti, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Plastic Bank translates the plastic collected into currency, ethically boosting local economies, and educating the next generation about waste management and its environmental impacts. Plastic Bank is also the only platform that directly impacts 14 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and indirectly supports the remaining 3.
With Plastic Bank, every $1 helps to prevent 100 single-use plastic bottles from entering the ocean. We’ve partnered with Plastic Bank to remove 1 million ocean-bound single-use plastic bottles. Together we can make an even greater impact.
A 2019 study commissioned by the WWF and performed by the University of Newcastle, Australia revealed that people could be consuming approximately 2000 tiny pieces of plastic per week–which equates to about a credit card’s worth of plastic! That also equates to about 70,000 pieces a year or 100 pieces per meal–scary, right?
These tiny pieces of plastic are known as “microplastics” which are defined as broken down plastic no larger than five millimeters. Your next question might be, “how is anyone consuming this much plastic?”
Aside from the infamous “island of trash” located in the Pacific Ocean, there are many parts of the ocean where trash accumulates and interferes with marine life. According to a 2016 study by the World Economic Forum, 8 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. The microplastics degrade and release toxins into the ocean and are ingested by marine life. For us seafood eaters, this has indications for the number of microplastics we’re consuming and in turn, toxins we’re absorbing. In fact, microplastics can be found anywhere from your food to your bottled water, to beer, and even in the air. Plastics also leach toxic chemicals into food through packaging or contact with heat and trace amounts are found in beer bottles. It’s almost unavoidable at this point, posing unknown health risks to humans. Chemicals used to produce plastic such as phthalates and Bisphenol-A (BPA) are known toxins that could lead to certain diseases and cancers. Studies have shown that nursing or pregnant women should avoid exposure to plastics in the same way one should avoid alcohol and cigarettes due to the potential absorption of these chemicals by their offspring. This includes avoiding bottled water, food that’s packaged in plastic, takeout containers, fragrances (which usually contain phthalates), and using non-plastic food containers.
In a study by Nature Geoscience in 2017, data indicated that 79% of all the plastics produced by humans have ended up in nature or landfills. According to this study, most of the particles found in plastic water bottles were polypropylene–the type of plastic used to make bottled water caps. This finding suggests that the process of bottling water is contributing to most of the plastic. In fact, plastic found in bottled water was twice the amount of plastic found in tap water or beer, which shows that although bottled water is marketed to be “cleaner” than tap water, it is certainly is not the case. Americans buy 50 million plastic bottles of water annually. Globally, about 1 million single-use plastic bottles are purchased per minute. If we don’t act now, this number is expected to increase by 20% by 2021. Considering this, it’s a worthwhile cause to reduce or eliminate bottled water from your daily life altogether and invest in a sustainable water bottle. And that is why we created the LARQ Bottle–a sustainable water bottle that self-cleans and purifies water simultaneously using PureVis™ UV-C light, solving your most glaring issues with traditional reusable water bottles.
In addition to plastic bottles, any plastic waste that can be avoided should be avoided. The ocean and waterways are littered with plastics straws, takeout boxes, plastic grocery bags, and other plastics. Which begs the question: couldn’t we just recycle these plastics? –the answer is no, we can’t. Most single-use plastics are not recyclable for a variety of reasons, whether it’s due to the chemical composition of the plastic or due to the lack of infrastructure to do so efficiently. Only a meager 9% of all plastic ever produced has actually been recycled.
In this day and age, it’s difficult to avoid plastic altogether, but we can all make small changes and increase awareness about the issue of plastic to pave the way for a better, more sustainable future.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Recipe
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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 Latte Recipe
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
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?
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!
You can control what goes into your produce–it doesn’t get more organic than this.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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 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.
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 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?