Hobbies, Interests, and Happiness

For about 10 months now we’ve had over 10 different succulents in our apartment, and it was actually quite a fun process to go pick them out and find the pots we thought would fit the aesthetic of our home. While buying plants at a local shop and not a department store likely cost us more than it could have, we felt better knowing the plants were taken care of and probably healthier in general. And so far, we’ve done amazing.

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Repotting them hasn’t been easy, especially since we’re new to having plants. But it was a fun process that was much needed. And that’s what I’ve come to realize about hobbies. If you’re having fun and your interest is constantly piqued, nothing else should matter. That’s the whole point of hobbies, isn’t it? Having fun and doing what you enjoy? Too often I feel like I see people forcing hobbies or forcing things they don’t actually like. And I feel sorry for those types of people who are trying to do what others enjoy or what others want. That’s not living a life for themselves. That’s worrying about what others think of them.

So when it comes to spending your time off work, I really think you need to evaluate what you like, what you find yourself enjoying, and what you’ve always wanted to do. Those answers won’t ever be the same for any two people, so own your experience and enjoy the things you love. I know that sometimes money is an issue, but let’s be honest, there’s something satisfying about a few shipping boxes showing up to your doorstep every few weeks when you’re collecting something or need more materials to continue your artistic ability.

So truthfully, this is all that should go into your time off. If you’re not relaxing and not enjoying your time, why continue the bad habits or the hobbies that are someone else’s in your life? Get online, buy a few of your favorite albums or video games or whatever, wait for those shipping boxes to arrive, and then have a blast doing what you love. That’s all it takes, truly.

Once you get to this point in your life, everything else just seems to come easier. And I’ve lived that feeling, so it’s a real experience that I want to tell everyone about. Not caring what others think and doing what you enjoy is all that should matter.

Doing What Matters for Your Relationship

This Valentine’s Day has armed me with quite a few ideas of things I want to do for my partner’s birthday. Her special day falls a month after V-Day on the dot. And the only reason I’m gathering some ideas for her birthday is because we’re hosting a listening party for a new album on Valentine’s Day. This is something we’ll absolutely buy on vinyl, and so it’s making me think of what all I can do for her birthday a month later.

One of those things? Buying her a record or two she’s been wanting for awhile now. But also, I’m thinking of a nice restaurant I can take her out to that we don’t have the time to do on Valentine’s Day this week. And since it’s only a month later, it helps to “combine” the two of sorts.

I know what you’re thinking though. “If you truly cared about her, you would take her to dinner for both days you cheapskate!” Well, that’s simply not true. If you knew us, you’d realize she doesn’t want a V-Day dinner and never has. Because it’s all just a corporate scheme to get Americans to go crazy on teddy bears, chocolates, candy, gift cards, and Hallmark cards. We’d rather celebrate our own way and then do something more special for birthdays instead. That, to me, is what really defines a relationship (i.e., understanding what matters to us).

So I’ll be ordering a few records that we haven’t been able to find for her in the past. Heck, I’ve been doing it for myself recently and ripping through the shipping supplies when they arrive on my front porch. This’ll be no different and she’ll merely think I bought something for myself again! The only difference is that shipping supplies won’t be scattered across my floor this time since I can’t reveal what I bought.

Nonetheless, I think we’re set for a nice birthday celebration for her this year, and I’ll also be looking to take her to a concert locally to celebrate. It’s something we always try to do for one another, so it just goes hand in hand with the music I’m already planning to buy.

So, how are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? We’re doing a listening party. Why don’t you try going against the grain and do something that actually matters to you and your relationship? It’ll feel really good. Trust me.

Phase Out Plastic

Plastic bags are ruining the planet. Among other things, of course, but they are a big colporate. These things used to be (and still are in some places) everywhere! The worst part is they take thousands of years to decompose. It is our responsibility to clean up the earth. Reducing our plastic intake is just one way we can help save the earth.

At first, the initiative was to recycle them. Recycling was marketed as if it worked 100% of the time. We had the mentality that every item we put in the recycling box would go to a facility, be successfully recycled, and would come back as another product. In theory this is great! Unfortunately, it just is not the case. The majority of materials placed in recycling bins are rejected and get thrown into a landfill anyways.

Why would a material get rejected? Mostly because of contaminants with food and other non-recyclable products. The biggest source of plastic bags not getting recycled are plastic bags from carry-out restaurants. Restaurants are notorious for overusing plastic when they definitely do not need to be. Sometimes they wrap containers in a brown paper bag and then still use two plastic bags! It is so wasteful and unnecessary to have just one plastic bag let alone two!

The solution to helping restaurants become more conscious of their plastic use is by not even using plastic at all! Okay, that is kind of unrealistic so they should consider reusing what they already have in their restaurants. Every restaurant gets multiple shipments in a week of produce and other materials needed for their food. Instead of just tossing those shipping boxes the restaurant could reuse them to package their to-go orders. Obviously the boxes could not be the huge oversized ones, but smaller packages would work just fine. Lots of produce and grains usually arrive in smaller packages, anyways.

I’m sure there would not be enough shipping boxes for every single order. But even if it covered even just a day’s worth of orders it would be great how much waste they reduced! The boxes could even be reused at home as well.

It is simple changes like this that anybody can be a part of to help save the earth. Little things will ultimately add up. If all restaurants start adopting this model I could not imagine the change we would start to see in just one year.

Switching Up the Pattern of Life

Any time you have a period of change in your life, a lot of stress suddenly befalls you that is almost always unwelcome. Rarely does anyone actively seek stress, though they make seek a busy schedule. Nonetheless, switching jobs can not only induce a newfound stress but also affect your sleeping schedule, your daily schedule, and also what you eat or don’t eat in a day.

Needless to say, switching jobs can be anxiety inducing and make you worry about menial things in your life that you never once thought of when you had your old job.

The other thing that comes with new jobs, though? Ambition. Responsibility. Empowerment. Self-esteem. Those things are absolutely amazing in anyone’s life, and yet they’re so easily found. It’s just that no one thinks about how easily they can access them on a daily basis, because there’s no major change in their life to spur them on to doing great things. There’s nothing that jars their everyday life enough to make them reconsider how they do other things, like interacting with strangers or pushing your skills to the limit. And if everyone would think like that, there wouldn’t be much to worry about in life. Because you’d have a serious handle on everything you do and say. You’d know what was needed on the daily. You would understand people better.

I suppose I should back up and think about another thing that no one thinks about when they get a new job. What is it? Well, no one thinks about the work of moving old materials, furniture, or files that goes into switching jobs.

More than anything, it sucks having to bag up your old papers and folders. Using shipping supplies to protect your belongings or furniture from the old gig isn’t the most fun to spend your money on, but it’s also no fun spending time on actually moving those things. That’s sweat equity right there.

Nonetheless, there are much greater things that the new career will bring you and your loved ones. It’s just a matter of taking the time to explore your options, to pack up the old things in shipping supplies, and to see where you can push yourself more than you ever have.

With change, we develop and grow more than we ever would staying in an old position or old home. Humans thrive on change, it’s just a matter of finding the change that’s right for you and everyone you love.

Canceling Your Subscription Box

One of my favorite gifts that I, myself, gifted this year was a one-month subscription to Hello Fresh for my mom. She’s been bogged down with work lately, so I know that’s affected the time she has available to go grocery shopping. So, my partner and I decided to go half in together on a one month subscription to a food prep company all so my mother could make her own meals after work and not worry about time needed to do it.

Unfortunately, a company like that isn’t exactly cheap, so we had to cancel her subscription a week ago in order to not be charged full price for February. It sucked because we both knew she was loving it so much, but the full price on some of those subscription companies and their shipping boxes is absolutely outrageous.

And this made us realize we had our own subscription companies to decide on quitting or not. In fact, one of her friends gifted us a one-month subscription to a wine company. It’s not surprising that her friend is a huge fan of wine, but we’ve enjoyed the company enough to consider continuing the subscription boxes we get now that a month has gone by after Christmas. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that we’re going to continue on with it. But all isn’t said and done until she gives the go ahead!

Still, we live in a moment in history where people actually have to make these conscious decisions, to skip their next month’s subscription or to continue on. Part of these decisions can be made based on financial reasons, and sometimes they’re made because someone realizes that it’s just not as necessary as they first thought. On the other hand, other subscriptions can really make you consider continuing a subscription because of the absolute convenience that the company is providing you. Take my mom and us for example. We would be dropping almost eighty bucks to go forward with 2 meals a week for her and my dad. Yeah, that really only comes out to be five dollars a meal, but that’s something we could achieve on our own for even cheaper if we went to the store often for really cheap produce and grains.

When all is said and done, I would say that now more than ever we have all the power in the world to choose what we want and what we spend our money on. A lot say the internet is an evil thing, but I look at it as the most benevolent invention humans have ever made if only because it has offered us absolute control over our preferences.

A Healthy Subscription Box Service to Think About

In the past few years, I’ve begun narrowing down a lot of my expenses to become things that I need or can afford if I don’t need it. It’s really been helping my budgeting to be able to name exactly what it is I must have and what I don’t need. From there, things become pretty simple to avoid. It’s almost like an alcoholic making sure they’re not around alcohol in certain situations to not even tempt them. For some, they must ensure they’re not even in the position to spend money on things like video games by removing a card from the online gaming store and by not going near gaming sections in certain stores. Sounds simple enough, right?

Well, it is so long as you have the willpower to start off strong in whatever you’re doing. I’ve found that another healthier way of handling this sort of need to buy things is substituting something you were paying for with something you actually need.

For example, I’m a big fan of subscription boxes, much like a lot of others out there my age. It’s all the craze nowadays, and there’s a reason for that: getting something shipped to your door without having to go out and buy it is addicting. You do much less work to get the product and yet can get pretty much whatever you want from online marketplaces. And the shipping supplies are always enticing too, because those companies put so much work into making sure their customers return for more and more.

So I decided to invest in something like imperfect produce. Cooking is a huge part of my relationship with my partner, and we’re constantly running to the grocery all the time for a few onions here or some garlic and greens there. Instead, I decided it would be a good idea to pay a monthly subscription for imperfect produce. It serves three different purposes for us.

First off, we’re able to reroute money elsewhere spent on subscription boxes that we don’t need to something like this that we do need. It’s fueling an obsession in a healthy way. Secondly, it saves us trips to the store and gives us a constant stream of produce so that we’re getting all the nutrition we need and are forced to cook with it. Finally, it makes us stay in much more often and eat our own home-cooked meals instead of going out all the time and spending more than we need.

Who knew boxes with pretty shipping supplies within could be a healthy thing that supports a need in your life? Too often we’re swept up by all the enticing things out there that we “want” but don’t actually “need.” It’s good to find a healthy substitute!

Changing Up the Grocery Game

With a new year comes new habits, new resolutions, and new lifestyle changes. Well, I sure hope that all of those things happen for everyone else, because new means change, and I have always seen change as one of the best things humans can undergo and take on.

It’s no surprise that all of the resolutions are coming out in full force this year. This is mostly because not only have we welcomed in a new year, but we’ve also welcomed in an entirely new decade. Considering decades don’t come around as awesome, you can imagine that everyone is hopping on the resolution bandwagon and setting out lofty goals to achieve in 2020.

One thing my partner and I have set out to do this year is to get much more vegetables and produce than we did last year. We just recently transitioned to a vegan lifestyle, and so plants and produce should abound in our home. The problem is, we’ve been a bit bad about making sure we have enough to eat and getting the right nutrition, so we’re taking a new approach to groceries this year.

And that’s through the imperfect produce companies out there. I’ve heard that you get so much produce on a weekly basis, almost to the point of not being able to keep up. And for the price they offer this imperfect produce at, it’s seemingly the best deal out there for helping to support a cause like eliminating food waste awhile also getting your own produce at an absolute steal.

So we’re bound to have shipping boxes on our front porch on a weekly basis now. This should also make grocery shopping much easier, as that will likely revolve around spices, one off products, frozen foods, and other essentials that are not related to our cooking. Joining in on one simple little plan with shipping boxes full of produce is going to change our grocery game in a huge way this year, and I think it’s going to keep us honest when it comes to sticking to a great nutritional program.

I encourage you to think about your own resolutions in a way that helps out your health more than any other aspect of your life. Second most important to health? Your financial life. These two things have the biggest influence on your lifestyle and what you are able to do, and they absolutely should be addressed when it comes to crafting goals for yourself for the rest of the year (or even decade!).

Making Room for Storage

Now that the new year has rolled in, I’ve become engrossed with creating storage out of nothing in my home. The idea of organizing my belongings and storage areas is enticing if only to save space elsewhere and keep the home nice and tidy. In fact, I always find myself wanting more areas and dedicated spaces to store my general stuff. You know, general stuff as in not clothes, not food, and not technology. Everything else that is a loose item needs somewhere to go, right?

For example, rather than putting my shoes directly beneath the bench in front of my front door, I have a shoe rack. Or even the abundance of coasters I have collected from breweries, those go in a small basket beneath my coffee table.

But when it comes to new storage things, I can’t really justify spending money on storage containers and other shipping supplies when I’m fine with my place being a little messier than normal if it means saving a few bucks. And that’s probably most of my problem. That I’m okay with being cheap even if it means being messier. Probably not the best way to be!

As of late I’ve started to have a few ideas of little things I could go out and buy that wouldn’t cost too much, especially if they’re from resale shops.

Knife rack.

Honestly, I have too many loose knives with no dedicated rack in my kitchen. And the loose knives in my drawers can honestly be a bit dangerous to reach into if not careful. So recently, I I realized we need a knife holder. These can be extremely cheap if you find the right ones in the right places. The only thing to keep in mind, though, is if it fits the theme of your kitchen. You can never go wrong with wooden knife racks.


I always loved my bookcases growing up. They were a sign of how much I loved to read, and I considered them sacred for that very reason. Now, I don’t happen to have as many books since I’ve gotten rid of a lot, but having a bookcase for my books and other things like my vinyl albums seems super useful. Heck, I can even store my very shipping supplies in cabinets within the new book shelves if there happens to be any. Talk about storing the storage supplies themselves!

Switching Up the Family Tradition

Throughout my entire life, the winter holidays have been made extra special thanks to my mother’s fanaticism for decorating the house and setting traditions. I always felt like we had the best family traditions as we grew up, and I never knew if it was just stuff that my parents made up as they grew their family or if it was stuff they took from their own families. I’ve gathered since then, though, that they forged their own traditions. And I think that’s what made it even more authentic and magical.

Considering the house was always littered with shipping boxes by the time it was 8:00 a.m. on Christmas morning, it’s going to be quite a weird sight this year when we have far less cardboard strewn across the fireplace room. And that all stems from us growing older and knowing that sometimes it’s easier for everyone to gift money or just one or two gifts to each other.

We used to be a family of excess, always spending on whatever we wanted at the time. And I think it put a little bit of stress financially on my parents and then my brother and I after we left the house. But in the past year or two, we’ve all experienced financial revivals, thanks to being able to knock out large amounts of debt.


And so now we find ourselves much more focused on the family time, the memories we make playing cards or talking about our futures, than ever before. I think that’s truly invaluable, and it’s why spending less around the winter holidays is such an underrated thing in American culture.

So, despite the fact that we’ll see far fewer shipping boxes scattered around this year, I think we’re all looking forward to it more than any other year thanks to the stress we’ve eliminated around the holidays. If only other families could see these things and what the correlation is, I think so many people would be happier than they currently find themselves. The whole idea of giving and getting gifts is meant to create a sense of a “rush” when you open something, and it’s the peak of consumerism when you really sit down and consider why we do it in the first place.

So, I encourage you to think about spending your time or money elsewhere than material things around these holidays, as experiences are infinitely better than something that you won’t use in just a year.

Collecting Cardboard Year Round for Gifts

Every single year, I remind myself to hold onto some of my old cardboard boxes and shipping boxes. From one year to the next, I do a pretty good job about swapping out older boxes for those that are newish, especially if I happened to order something large online that comes in a big box I can use around the holidays.

What’s funny is that I never would’ve gotten into this habit if it weren’t for my mom stashing away hundreds (seriously, hundreds) of boxes from one year to the next, all for the sake of the holidays. Of course, it helped that she worked at the post office all her life, meaning there was no shortage of cardboard around our house growing up. Still, having so many boxes on hand meant she could sift through what she had available and find the perfect size and shape of box for whatever it was she was wrapping.

Thus, I got into the habit of collecting cardboard for the purpose of using around the winter holidays. But what started as a collection for gift giving soon turned out to be far more useful throughout the rest of the year for other various scenarios.

For example, having a handful of decent sized shipping boxes meant I could make a little storage area in my basement that helped clear up a LOT of clutter in our home. We’ve also been able to utilize our cardboard whenever we go camping, go to music festivals, and go to family functions that required us taking a lot of hot food that couldn’t be spilled in the vehicle en route to the function.

Whether you’re using your cardboard for gift wrapping or other things around your own home, holding onto cardboard and reusing it throughout the year is actually a super great thing for the sake of sustainability and being environmentally friendly. You don’t have to ascribe to that line of thinking year around, especially if you’ve never bothered to recycle or care about the environment that much. Nonetheless, reusing your older materials for future things is an amazing way to reduce your waste on a yearly basis, and it’s something you should feel proud about even if you weren’t intentionally doing it in the first place. Sometimes your actions do good without you realizing it, and that’s definitely something you can feel good about no matter what your intentions were.