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.

Bookcase.

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.

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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.

The Top 3 Items on My Christmas List

I don’t usually have a specific thing in mind I want for Christmas from one year to the next, and it’s not often at all that I have multiple things within the same category. But for whatever reason, I’m gung ho on getting a lot of kitchen appliances and tools. I’ve asked my parents, my partner, her parents, and my grandmother for something that will end up in our kitchen. It’s almost to the point that I’m really starting to see my age show. I recall the days I’d ask for video games, new technology, and even clothes (I thought my age was showing then). But when you just want to cook with new and cool things, it’s pretty obvious that you’re settled into life as an adult.

So, I figured I’d share some of my list with you guys to get an idea on the cool new things I’m wanting for my kitchen next year. Maybe you’ll see a few of these as essentials you’re missing in your own kitchen. For me, it’s been eye opening how much random junk we have in our kitchen, from tools and old pictures to shipping supplies, like packing tape. I want my kitchen to be a sacred space for me and my food and nothing else. It’s time we make the kitchen less of a storage place and more of an art space. Less of the shipping supplies and random things as storage, more of the artist’s tools for creating beautiful, tasty, healthy dishes. That’s my dream for my kitchen, at least.

Lightweight wok.

I think the wok is an incredibly underrated kitchen cooking pan. I use it for all the east asian dishes I make, but I also use it for a quick saute of some veggies or even for just mixing large quantities of noodles or something else. It’s too useful and versatile to not have an amazing wok

Food processor.

With this, you can make your own salsa, you can make your own hummus, you can make pastes and sauces, and you finely chop anything you need. This is a vegan’s dream appliance, and you better believe it’s at the top of my list.

Air fryer.

This is an easier, healthier, cleaner way to fry your foods in quick order. Oil frying just takes so long to mess with the cleanup that it’s not even worth it. And if you do it inside? It stinks up your house. I can’t wait to have an air fryer.

An Exception to Subscription Based Companies: Your Health

Since the last few years, I’ve become extremely interested in subscription based companies that send products straight to your doorstep for a recurring monthly fee. In practice, it’s one of the most genius ideas ever. As for “convenience”, that’s something too subjective for me to comment on. It’s up to you as a consumer to decide what is convenient for you and what isn’t worth it. For me, going to the store to get something is always cheaper, even if a little inconvenient.

Nonetheless, I’ve become a big fan of streaming services for media, since those actually do save you tons of money while also being readily accessible on demand, whenever you need it. Since it’s not a physical product, it’s something that makes more sense for me to be subscription based.

But one thing has gotten me quite interested in physical products, and it’s my overall health. I’d rather not contribute my money to big name grocery stores for my health products, especially since they don’t seem to sell a lot of the vegan items I look for whenever I’m out shopping to renew my conditioner, body soap, and even toothpaste.

That’s why I’m also interested in going to a subscription based toothbrush company. It seems to be far more sustainable and less plastic is used, all for roughly the same price (or just a little more). I don’t normally buy into these companies when sending shipping boxes to my home, but for my health I think I can make an exception.

And what makes these so successful is the perceived value involved. When you get a new electric toothbrush with refillable heads every three months, it seems incredible that you paid the price you did for such a thing when quality electric toothbrushes can cost upwards of $50 to $100.

Just as well, the convenience of not having to remind yourself to buy new toothbrushes every three months is pretty huge. I’ve always been bad about changing out toothbrushes whether I’m sick or the bristles have become bad.

So, just like any subscription-based product, toothbrushes are taking off and doing extremely well in American culture. People love to have money withdrawn from their account for them so that they don’t have to actively make a purchase or go out to get something if the shipping boxes can be delivered to their door. And to be honest, you can’t blame consumers who do this, since the vast majority have subscribed to something similar in this age.

Making Big Life Decisions

I’m at the point in my life where having kids is expected soon, both from the standpoints of my family and from society. The problem with this, though, is that outside perspectives should never matter in making the choice to have kids. What’s unfortunate is that so many people out there succumb to societal or familial pressure and end up having children for the wrong reasons or at the wrong time. Ultimately, this impacts the way those children are raised and treated along the way.

So, my partner and I have discussed many times how much we’re excited at the prospect of having children, yet also how excited we would be to forego that process altogether and travel instead. I think more people need to have this conversation before having kids. If anything, they’ll respect their decision to have kids much more than they would have if they never questioned it. And even better, they would have much more confidence moving forward and have agency in their choice to have children.

Don’t let me get on a tangent, though. While I’m still at a crossroads with my partner on this decision (we almost always agree on the topic, whether we’ve been swayed one way or another), there are still times when I think about how much fun it would be to do little projects or play little games with our future child.

In fact, there would be no shortage of things to do with our kids since we always talk about the what ifs. I know we’ve mentioned on several occasions how we’d enjoy doing some arts and crafts with a rough bunch of shipping supplies, art tools, paint, and canvases. It wouldn’t take much, yet it would be something that our child would remember for a long time while also being educational and growth-oriented in developing their creativity and wonder of the world.

So, I guess you can say we get jealous of others who have toddlers that they get to play with. And even though the thought crosses our minds regarding how much we really would like to spend time building or painting things with things that save us money like shipping supplies, we’re reminded of all the money we’d be able to save to do other things in life if we chose to not have a child.

All in all, I’m just happy that we are choosing to make this a decision we dwell on for awhile, as there’s really no rush at all to deciding one way or another. If it feels right at a specific time, we’ll know. Whether that “right” feeling means we want children or not remains to be seen.

The Evolution of Game Copies

Like many things in life, the video game industry (and gaming as a hobby) is constantly adapting to new demands and competitors, which ultimately pushes gaming in a better direction than it was before. Without competition, cutting edge technology, and innovative ideas, it would become a stale hobby that wouldn’t last long. Luckily for gamers like me, that’s not the case and won’t ever need to be so long as developers are thinking outside the box and constantly pushing boundaries.

Within the last decade, there’s been a major shift in thinking when it comes to physical game copies versus digital game downloads.

I distinctly remember back in early college when games were beginning to be available for digital preorder and download, and a lot of my friends (as well as I) thought that physical copies were superior simply because you could own the copy itself as well as the box it came in and anything else accompanying the box art. There was something ritualistic about ripping open the shipping supplies and getting to play your brand new game that the digital experience just couldn’t provide.

Fast forward to today, however, and I’m pretty sure a lot of gamers have warmed up to the idea of digital downloads. Perhaps people no longer want to worry about getting their game at release since physical copies require going to a store and you have to worry about how many copies they’ve got available. Just as well, losing your disc or cartridge means you no longer own that game. But when you buy a game online with an online account, you’ll always “own” that game and it’ll never not work for you when you boot it up. Even better, there aren’t any shipping supplies to worry about throwing away or causing excess plastic to be used since everything is digital and stored on your hardware.

The cool thing about digital vs. physical is that neither one has to upend the other. Both can exist in perfect harmony, since some players like showing off their collection of games and prefer having everything they own in a physical format whereas others enjoy the idea of never worrying about the condition of their cartridge or game since it’s all digital. No matter which you prefer for your games, you can at least appreciate that you have an option on how you prefer your game to be stored and played.

Order Your Holiday Gifts Now Instead of Later

Now that we’re officially into the thick of holiday season, time starts to feel like it dilates a lot simply because there are so many holidays in such a short time span. Think about it: Halloween at the end of October; Thanksgiving at the end of November; Christmas at the end of December; and New Year’s also at the end of December. It’s quite the lineup of holidays in essentially 2 entire months (Oct 31st to Dec 31st).

But what makes it so entirely packed for me in particular, though, are birthdays. When my dad’s falls on at the end of October, mine falls mid November, my brother’s falls late November, and my mom falls in late December, well, you’ve suddenly just introduced 4 more important dates alongside the 4 I already named that are holidays.

Needless to say, around this time of year you can find quite a bit of shipping boxes sitting on our front porch thanks to online shopping. And while a lot of people mumble and grumble about how online shopping has ruined this era, I think they’re just resistant to any sort of change in the first place. In all reality, shopping online has helped unique stores sell their niche products to niche audiences, and retail companies have been forced to shift their thinking and practicality of selling products by also moving online. Without such a boom in Internet sales, malls would be overcrowded like they used to be and traffic would be worse around this time of year. At the very least, Black Friday may be less ridiculous than it used to be.

The thing is, procrastination still happens no matter what type of shopping you’re doing, so it’s important for us to stay on top of our holiday and birthday gifts early and often. In fact, we’re sitting down this weekend to order multiple items for our parents and family members to have it done here and now instead of waiting until December to have things shipped. As everyone knows, the longer you wait, the better chances that a few shipping boxes won’t arrive to your home on time for a certain holiday or birthday. And I’d rather not stress this year about holiday gifts like I did last year. It’s just not worth it and takes no time to do.

Overall, I’m stoked for the holidays this year simply because it seems like I’ve got everything planned out much farther in advance than I ever used to. It’s smooth sailing from here!

Essential Supplies for Decorating Your Home

When it comes to decorating your house for the fall and winter holidays, there are a lot of different accepted tricks of the trade that you’re likely quite familiar with. Most people don’t just decide to decorate their entire house out of the blue if they haven’t done it before. Rather, they’ve been doing it for years and have learned the do’s and don’ts of decorating for the holidays.

Today, we wanted to remind you of some lesser used items that can make all the difference in your festive endeavors to end the year right. A few are basic shipping supplies, items that almost everyone has lying around in their drawers. Others are simply materials that get overlooked in favor of other more expensive options.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking to try something new, save time and money while decorating, and have it all come out looking exactly as you envisioned, you’re in the right place. Read on!

Zip ties.

Honestly, this is my number one item year in and year out, no matter if it’s for Halloween, Christmas, Easter, or just summer seasonal decor. Zip ties get the job done without fail, and they’re incredibly easy to use and to remove, and they’re very affordable and abundant, at that.

Don’t forget to buy a pack of these whenever you’re low. Zip ties serve many more uses outside of putting up wreaths or garland or other materials. There’s a reason they’re everywhere.

Box cutter.

I’m not sure about you, but I like to use cardboard and other shipping supplies when I’m decorating my home for the holidays. First off, a boxcutter can get cardboard panels much more specified than ripping it, something you don’t ever want to do if you’re looking for uniformity. Just make sure to hold the box cutter away from your body and cut away as well. There are some safety mechanisms in most box cutters, but you don’t want to risk something if you don’t have to, right?

Command hooks.

Ahhh, the ease of use with command hooks is so welcomed. There’s no more guessing and stressing about how you’re going to get something to hang from your concrete wall. Instead, just slap on a few command hooks and hang whatever it is you’ve been trying to put up. (Make sure to check what hooks can hold how much weight.) You’ll be surprised at how handy these are, and there’s a lot to be said about their adhesive being quite strong.