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A Gift Guide for Minimalists & Hoarders Alike

In this world, there exist two types of friends. Some friends live in tiny studio apartments and constantly complain about having too much stuff, scoffing at the idea of having to come up with something they’d like for Christmas. Other friends have 5 bedroom houses in the suburbs and are still drowning in baby toys and IKEA furniture from their bachelor days despite their kids and marriages being like 19 years old.

Neither of these friends really needs anything. If they’re like me, they kind of dread having to place whatever under $15 gift they get from the office Secret Santa on a shelf for a few years before disposing of it the next time they move. So, here’s a list of things I would not be mad about getting, and neither will your hoarder/anti-hoarder friends.

Experiences – this is an obvious one. We’re talking a gift card to a trampoline park, a cooking class, or, ya know, indoor skydiving.

Restaurant gift cards – Another obvious yet highly uncreative boring one. I am a helpful lady! But, I’m also a broke lady who doesn’t splurge on a nice meal very often. Plus, no useless future-trash for the shelf!

Sustainable clothing – Clothes have an expiration date, at least if your thighs touch as much as mine do. So, no one is going to complain about some well made, ethical and sustainable clothes that will last a long time and fight fast fashion. My suggestion is to stick to neutrals and basics to maximize versatility in a minimalist wardrobe. Two of my favorites are Pact Apparel and sweet home Chicago made Dearborn Denim.
Tools to help them upcycle – A pillar of minimalism (at least for those interested more in the environmental benefits than the zen) is making good use of everything you already own in order to waste resources by tossing old stuff and replacing it. Hoarders hoard because they think all of their old crap will come in handy one day. A great gift for both groups will be something that helps them upcycle old stuff into the modern era. If they’re ambitious, a sewing machine will be a game changer, but if your pal is just dabbling in crafts, I suggest starting off with a hot glue gun or some furniture paint in a sleek color.

Vegan nail polish – Nail polish is one of those things that is absolutely unnecessary yet feels so essential when you’re going for *glam.* So, a high-quality, eco & safe polish like LVX will make every broke minimalist feel like a manicure is something they can indulge in again.
Plants – You can never have too many plants. They’re versatile decor that also happen to tame your maternal instincts and prevent you from cutting holes in condoms or impulse buying a cat you’re allergic to. Choose from orchids to succulents based on the recipient’s commitment level to watering. (Disclaimer: cutting holes in condoms is a terrible idea, please don’t do it – get an herb garden, trust me.) Read more

How do I minimize waste when gift wrapping?

I am a huge fan of gift giving. I’m that friend who drives you to extreme social anxiety by showing up with presents for everyone when we had previously agreed not to exchange gifts this year. I don’t care. If I see something you’ll like, you’re getting it for Christmas. So, here are a few strategies I use when trying to keep presents a surprise without sacrificing any more trees than our corporate American Christmas tradition already does. 

  1. Procrastinate – I usually do this anyway, no matter what my goals are. But, when it comes to reducing waste from holiday gift-wrapping, procrastination can actually be a good thing. Wait until the last minute to wrap gifts, and only buy as much paper and as many bags as you’ll need for the first few gifts. After that, hopefully you’ll have a ton of wrapping supplies laying around the house from overzealous retail workers or leftover from gifts YOU got at your office party. Who cares if not all of your gifts are wrapped in the same type of bag or paper? Pack hard-to-wrap gifts in boxes you got from Amazon or Harry and David as a gift.
  2. Use the tissue paper that the store gave you – So you might not have a bunch of extra wrapping stuff leftover from gifts you’ve received (not everyone can be as *lovable* as I am), but you probably do have packing materials from things you’ve purchased for other people. Last year, I got a bunch of tissue paper from Blue Mercury to keep something I bought safe, and no one noticed that I used that same paper to make all of my gift bags look nice.  Sephora did the same thing. (FYI so did Pleasure Chest, but you really don’t need to know that yes, I did do some gift shopping there.) You know I’m all about bringing reusable bags, but frequently stores will wrap stuff in tissue for you anyway, even if you protest.  

    Shout out to thredUP for giving me enough tissue paper to giftwrap for the whole family.   
  3. Be creative with wrapping paper scraps – I like to cut the useless strips of extra wrapping paper into little rectangles, fold them in two, and use them as tags for presents, writing a little message on the back side.    Read more

Make Pie Out of the Pumpkin you Carved

Jack-o-lanterns rule.

They’re spooky, they’re a wholesome craft, they’re a great American tradition for some reason. What more could you want?

The goop that comes out of a pumpkin is the best part. It feels like you’re reaching into the pumpkin and pulling out its entrails.

Everyone loves a good roasted pumpkin seed, but I have always kind of assumed there wasn’t much to be done with those fleshy pumpkin insides.

I am a fool, and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to be. Making pie out of your freshly carved pumpkin is simply a question of popping it in the blender.

Step 1

When carving your pumpkin, just try to get most of the guts you extract into a bowl or onto another sanitary surface. It’s easier said than done.  Read more

How to Get Gifts you Really Want

Look, not all of us are super close with our first-cousins-once-removed, or really any of the people who may pick us in the family secret santa. So, at then end of the holiday season, graduation, wedding and baby shower season, most of us end up with quite a bit of useless junk that will sit in a box until the next time we move and decide to donate it to Goodwill. 

After a lifetime of accumulating clothes I never wore, books I never read, and several gag gifts from the sex store, I chose to compile this list to share the lessons I’ve learned about coyly asking for gifts that you’ll actually use. When I get gifts I actually want, I obviously don’t spend my own money on those things, and the shitty gifts I would have received are saved for someone who may actually appreciate them. 

Make a Pinterest board and promote it on social media.

You don’t have to make one that explicitly says “Here is everything I would like to get for Christmas, Aunt Nancy,” although it would probably get good results. Make a board for anything, post it to social media, and any savvy gift giver will click through to your general Pinterest page where they will find a board called “My wishlist,” full of affordable things they can buy you. Aunt Nancy isn’t on Facebook? Make sure her bratty 13 year-old daughter, who she’ll surely ask for advice when picking something out for you, gets tagged in your post (lest your teenage cousin suggest a rhinestone choker you emotionally outgrew in 1998.)  

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How to impose greenness on your friends without being an uppity #$%&

This listicle was inspired by how triggered I am when my friends bring plastic shopping bags into my home. In my desire to keep friendships, I have employed the following strategies. Enjoy.

  • Introduce your friends to cool vegan restaurants. Ok, maybe start with places with good vegetarian options before trying to sell them on quesa-Teeze-llas, but if your friends are like mine, they’ll just be grateful someone has a suggestion of where to go out. Shout out to Chicago Diner, yo. 
  • Gift them with sustainable brands they’ll fall in love with. LUSH products sell themselves, especially if your friends are already spending way too much on face masks anyway. You’ll have a convert for life on your hands in no time.

  • Cook for them instead of getting takeout. Next time you just want to lounge around the house, instead of ordering that pepperoni pizza, make some popcorn on the stove and heat up some of that veggie chilli that’s been sitting in your freezer for months. No plastic containers, no meat, everyone’s just as lazy.

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Going Green Isn’t Just for Rich People

The next time someone tells me they can’t be as green as they’d like because they always buy “what’s cheapest,” I will lose my mind. It’s time for me to expose them as the FILTHY, DIRTY LIARS they are. Nine out of ten times, the green option is the cheapest. And no, I’m not including the 99/100 times when the greenest option is just “don’t buy that.”

Sustainability is problematically associated with upper-middle-class moms who shop at Whole Foods and lease brand new Priuses every year. Many people with the intention to make good lifestyle changes for the planet never follow through because of the perceived huge costs of those changes.

The idea that living sustainably is expensive or unrealistic on a budget stigmatizes conscious consumerism, and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Here’s why:  Read more

52 Places to Keep your Reusable Bag So You Never Forget It

This post was inspired by my roommate. S/O to MA! 

Life’s hard, you guys. Sometimes I show up to work with my clothes on inside-out. Sometimes the clothes are all at home, right under my DVD copy of Inside-Out.  So, in an attempt to save you, dear reader, from my embarrassing fate, I have compiled a list of places you can keep your reusable bag so you won’t forget it every single time you go anywhere you might need a bag. 

Save the planet, you guys: Read more

How to upscale your broken ceramics into a v fancy planter

I promise this is a difficulty-level-zero project. This idea came to me after tragically breaking one of my beloved IKEA bowls right down the middle by gently placing it on the counter.

 

See the depressing and hideous before photo:   See its rebirth into a beautiful, upscaled planter:
   

Things you will need:

  • A broken cup, bowl, or mug of some kind, ideally broken around or through the bottom
  • Hot glue gun
  • Soil
  • Appropriately-sized plant
  • ¼ of a paper towel (optional)
  • No skills whatsoever, except maybe in Not Burning Yourself and Picking Goo Off of Stuff

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How to Unsubscribe from Credit Card Offers Forever

GUYS. I miss the good old days of getting handwritten chain letters from my elementary school friends and the awkward feeling of not having enough other friends to forward it to as much as the next person does. But fuck all of the mail I get as an adult. It it literally all garbage, and 99% of it comes in the form of a credit card offer that I need to shred in case anyone is rifling through my garbage looking for 50K bonus American Airlines miles.  It’s not just garbage, it’s a goddamn chore.

This is a bag of like 6 weeks’ worth of junk mail. My roommate even gets offers for car insurance, and she does not own a car.

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How to Have a Fancy Apartment That’s as Cheap as You Are

My roommate and I recently decided that if we’re going to live in our apartment for another year, we better decorate it. Yeah, we had lived here for a year, and there was still nothing on the walls except the below “Fuck Trump” decree leftover from the day after the election.

und das
Uptown, fuck you Trump. Uptown fuck you Trump?

Let’s clarify, I am garbage and could not have cared less how much or how little stuff was on the wall. I did win the argument and my lazily resistant streamers will remain up until we have a new president. But happy wife, happy life, and I try to be a good husband to my roommate.

Here is a list of things I learned while trying to decorate my apartment on a very cheap budget: Read more