Ladies Corner: Minimalist Make Up

Ladies,

I wanted to make a quick post on how I minimized my make up routine and the amount of products I use. This is for make up only; since I minimized the amount of make up on my face I sort of upgraded quality of my skin care. But that will be a different post.

As you can see, not much that I own and I am extremely happy with it. I wouldn’t touch a lot on the brands here as more than likely those will not be repurchased by me. Let me share the details really quick:

All I use for my skin products are concealer for under eyes areas and a different concealer in case I have blemishes or occasional pimples that need to be hidden from the world. I like NYX but I might have heard that they were purchased by L’Oreal and that company does test on animals. So I might need more research if I decide to repurchase or I will find something else. I use a pencil for my eye brows and an eye liner (DeVita – parabenfree & 100%vegan); a set of Lancôme eye shadows and a blush, and a Lancôme mascara. I absolutely love Lancôme products but I believe they still test on animals so probably will not repurchase until proven otherwise. Kind of sad… I have a few brushes and a lashes curler to help me put the face together in the mornings and a couple chop sticks & a lip gloss (not pictured cause I cannot find any of those – probably in my office). I use perfume during the work weeks and I use essential oils blend during the weekends. I also try to go cosmetics free on the weekends if I can and I do smoky eyes make up for the evenings out.

That’s it! Super simple, quick and inexpensive. And let me mention something important, minimalism make up requires a good care of your body & skin inside and out … but that’s for a different blog post.

Cheers,

YM

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Why do we require big houses?

Ever since I moved to the US I am always asking this question: what is it about oversized houses in America? Why do families of three buy a house with 6 bedrooms, two living rooms, three bathrooms etc.? I get it that there is a status and a dream of “an American Dream” but why people overcomplicate their lives with a huge thing called “a house”? If you think of it as a day to day living, there are so many things you need to be doing with this house: cleaning, heating, paying taxes, paying mortgages, furnishing it, starring at empty corners, looking for each other …

A little bit of reflection into the past: We were a family of four living in 1 bedroom apartment at some point. Well that was tight. Then it turned into 3 bedroom apartment: we were all working, going to school, doing sports, social activities etc. and when we were home, when we had friends over, we were always together, close to each other. Maybe doing our own thing but next to each other. That apartment was always full of warmth and great vibes. I loved it. A few years later, my parents were doing great financially and we ended up having two houses… what happened after? Well…some relationships got broken and needed to be repaired just because people were too far away from each other; some things got overcomplicated logistically & emotionally. Needless to say, we got rid of both houses. Sadly, nobody needed it.

People in Russia are still very sensitive about the ‘real estate’ subject. Real Estate is very expensive there and mortgages just became available several years ago. That allowed people to buy their own condos instead of living in dorms or with their parents. But boy, those mortgages are expensive! Russians do buy it cause they are so hungry for normal living conditions that they don’t care how much they end up paying to the banks. 

Not always I’ve been thinking the way I am thinking now. Even after I moved to the US, I was thinking that to prove that we are doing good financially we have to buy a big beautiful house. Well we have a big house but none of us really care if we do or not. We did lots of work in it and made it beautiful but now we want to move back to a smaller house cause we all tired of taking care of it. And at this point of our lives, we don’t care what people think; we care of what makes us happy and what makes a smart financial decision.

One of my wonderful friends recently said: “I bought this house thinking I need it. Turned out – I sure don’t. I am just paying to heat up these dark empty rooms. I will be looking into selling it and moving back to a condo soon”. 

I don’t know if it’s our generation, a tiny house movement or some of us are starting to shift our priorities and energy into emotional & mindful living instead of stressing out over how many things we have. But I know one thing for sure: we really don’t need much space to be happy- we just need a comfortable living with people that inspire us and care about us, and we care about them. 

Cheers

YM

Selling the house & simplifying in 2017

My Dear Readers,

One of my NY 17 goals is to write here more as I am anticipating a cool experience this year. We’ve been big fans of Dave Ramsey for a while, we listen to his podcasts and I read several of his books that I loved. Well, besides going out of debt (which we almost successfully done with), he inspired us to figure out this housing dilemma that we have. Dilemma means: too many choices. Yes there is such a thing. First world problems. I am ashamed. Anyways, details aside, we decided to sell our current house because it is too big for us first of all (we all greatly dislike empty spaces), we will move into what’s now a rental (smaller house and not as fancy). We will live there for a couple years, upgrade it a little bit & sell it (the rental does not return as much money as we would like to see – Dave would say it was a stupid buy – well yes, not so smart). And while living there, we will plan and build a house that works for all of us. Let’s say, we all 3 + 1/2 are very independent individuals with different interests. But one thing that unites us is the way of living: no empty spaces and no empty rooms that we will have to fill with furniture and stuff, 3 car garage cause there are three of us and all of us like comfort, separate mom’s living area a little bit so she has her own HQ, nice quite area with a view (still in town but surrounded by nature). That’s our wish list. If we find an architect that would put this all together – it is totally doable. But first, we will be simplifying  – meaning selling/donating & extra $$ will be going towards savings. We all agreed that we will not be moving stuff around that we don’t use. Besides, moving to a smaller space will force us to do it – I am excited. I will try to document my ‘getting rid of stuff’ journey as it might be sort of emotional. Another thing that will be emotional is to leave this house. We’ve done lots of work to it and I love it. I will have to go through a breakup with my beautiful bathrooms & Levi’s toddler room with Calvin & Hobbs painting in it.  You might sense some anxiety in these words that are coming through me already. After all, I am not going to be surprised if we love living simple life in our “new” smaller house as well and will not proceed with the further plans. I don’t know. It’s too soon to tell – we still have several years and all our lives ahead of us. I will use this blog as a tool to help me to let go  and to proceed to what the Universe will guide us to.

Let the journey begin! First step: sign up or Facebook Free/Buy/Sell local group – already have some items on my list. 🙂

Cheers,

YM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Selling my BMW and Buying Used Prius: Why?

My Dear reader,

Here is a confession of mine: About a month ago I finally made a huge decision to sell my beautiful 2013 3 series BWM and replace it with a cute little Prius – used – bought for cash. I don’t think I have to go into details on how much a relief that was and how truly happy I am right now after it is all done. But I do want to give you a little bit of a background story and a few points on why this decision has been made.IMG_3733

It was a dream of mine for a while to drive a BMW. I had a nice beautiful picture displayed on my vision board of a red Beemer. Well, we all know that visualization technics work and after a careful consideration, lots of doubts, insecurities and excitement, I was at the dealership signing papers. I knew exactly what I wanted in the car, I knew exactly how much money I want to pay monthly for it and what interest rate I will agree on. Well, I am a smart individual who have been working in a banking industry for about 10 years now so I know how to budget, how much financing costs and what this strange thing called debt. But, we were young, newly married, stable jobs, perfect credit score, no extra obligations – so I thought, why not. Well it worked for a couple years and I was happy. But I always had a thought in my mind that that thing – gorgeous sexy BMW – is just not quite me. It is too much. I am not flashy, I am actually pretty reserved and I am not that kind of person who will be running around the streets showing off my shiny little car to everybody and hoping to get the Looks. Nope, I surely did not need this. In fact, when people would ask me about it, I felt slightly uncomfortable and made sure to tell them that it is not brand new – it was in fact 2013. Now realizing it, I was trying to make myself feel better about this flashy fancy purchase of mine that didn’t even belong to me – it used to belong to the BMW Financial. 3d_shackled_debt

So, just a couple months ago, my husband and I started talking about budgets and how much we would like to get out of debt. We started reading and following Dave Ramsey, doing a close look at our budgets, seeing what fits us and what doesn’t. Well, my only debt besides the house was that flashy car that I didn’t care much about. I still absolutely loved her so it was a hard decision but it was made: I decided to get rid of it. I decided to get rid of that $500 monthly payment that I didn’t want to have because guess what: yes I could afford it but it was so tight on my budget that I didn’t have any room for “play money”. We also have a son now and we want him to go to Toddler camps and sports, and we we want to travel and explore the world and do all other things that this life has been created for us. So this $500 payment was absolutely on my way. We also, started shifting our lifestyle to more simplier, earth-friendly lifestyle and a cute little Prius fit this description better than any other car in the world.

So when we found a buyer and the paperwork was done, my husband and I, relieved and happy, were driving home jokingly saying “here, now You enjoy my $500 monthly payment – I will be enjoying life”.

A couple months later I cannot be happier.

So to conclude this long blog post, a few general thoughts: Most of people are struggling financially, almost all are living above their means. They spend more than they earn, and their debt is overwhelming them. A great book I read called 16 habits of Rich people says: “Spendno more than 5 percent on auto loans and never lease. These folks keep their cars until the wheels fall off.” And that’s what we will do. And if we would live in the city where no car is needed and a public transportation can get you around, I would happily get rid of it. But in AK, you have to have a car. But guess what, it is a thing that gets you from point A to point B ; it has to work good and look good but it surely doesn’t have to be flashy. When in the future I will be making really good money and will be able to buy a $40K car for cash – sure maybe I will get myself a BMW. Or maybe at that stage, I so will not care about it and I will get a nice “flashy” Prius. Or maybe we will move to Maui and nobody would give a thing on what you are driving. Nobody knows what future holds. But I know one thing for sure: Credit Score is a Debt Score. Your credit cards are you debt cards. If you have to take out a car loan, you cannot afford that card. And why did we ever decide to agree with our society to live in debt? Well this topic is to be continued…

Cheers,

YM

Minimalist Closet: Getting There

My friend visited me the other day at my house and requested to see my closet. Apparently, she has been reading my blogs and Instagram, and she was inspired. Yay! So her reaction was: “You have no clothes!” Haha. Oh no, I sure do. In a matter of fact, I have too much. Every day I think what I have is too much and it is suffocating me: so my ‘eagle’ eye is scanning my possessions every day to find something that I can get rid of.

I never had a separation anxiety with things. I never had a problem of letting go. I had extra things and clutter from now and then simply because I wasn’t paying attention and it was just there. I never had an emotional attachment to things. In fact, if for some futuristic reason I will lose all my possessions tomorrow, I will not have a breakdown. I will have a little bit of stress because I would have to quickly replace things but other than that I would look at it from a prospective of starting over, starting fresh. cl2

When I started my journey towards minimalism (and I am not by any means close to it yet), my closet was the easiest part of my house to clean up. I departed from my extra clothes in no time and never looked back. I don’t even remember what I got rid of.

A few things that are worth mentioning: I am a corporate professional that works in the office five days a week, so I have to look good. Also, my family is very active: we do summer sports at a lake during warmer months of the year, I do yoga and go to the gym, we do some outdoor activities during the winter months, we travel, we attend cocktail parties etc. And we live in a four season state. So we do have to have a variety of clothes, some winter gear, some sport gear, some office clothes etc.  So my closet is by any means not a minimalist closet like you can imagine but it is getting to a stage that I can say I am proud of. cl 1

A few things that I am already liking from having fewer clothing items:

  • It takes less time for me to get dressed in the morning: I am not stressed out with making those decisions every day
  • By getting rid of things that in need of a repair or simply don’t look as good as they should, it eliminates a chance for me to wear something that I will regret later in the day and I can make sure that I look sharp every day
  • I only see and wear things that I absolutely love and that I fill good in
  • It takes less effort to keep my closet clean and organized
  • I don’t spend a lot of time at the stores doing mindless shopping
  • I am a big believer in quality vs quantity so it is easier on my budget to save a little bit of money every paycheck and then go to one or two stores to find one or two pieces of new clothing for a new season (I usually hit Banana republic and Gap and I am done. If there is nothing there that I absolutely love I move on and coming back in a month or so)
  • It gives me a piece of mind that my impact on the planet is minimal as it can be at this stage

Here are a few tips and tricks that I used to help me to get rid of clothing easier:

  • I sell clothes. It’s an extra motivation cause you get cash for it to either buy new and nicer (for example 1 items versus 5) or you spend it on experiences, paying off debts, saving it etc. My favorite app that I use is Poshmark: it is easy, you can upload pictures to your “closet” from your phone, they send you labels for shipping, you can chat with your customers instantly, etc. A win-win overall.IMG_3729
  • I donate clothes: there are people in need all over the world that can benefit and use those clothing pieces and it is better than those just seat in my closet collecting dust
  • I give it away to the people that I think can benefit from it: friends and family.

And honestly, there is still so much work to be done and I still have some impulse buys every now and then simply because I am a woman and I want to make myself feel better by buying something pretty. And I think it’s ok; I think there is should be a healthy balance between allowing yourself to have simple luxuries from time to time and becoming a consumer and treating shopping like a hobby. I always remember how our grandmas and moms used to live back home (Russia-Europe) where they had small portable closet chests with just a few pieces of clothing and they were happy. historic

Yes I understand that they didn’t have a whole lot but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t that important. I would like to get to the stage some day when it will not be important and I can pack items in a suitcase and go travel the world without worrying on what to do with that enormous closet of mine.  And it what point we all decided that to have a room as your closet is normal? Why did we think it is a great use of your life to stand there every day and look at the piles of stuff facing unnecessary decisions? Have you ever thought of that your home should be a living space not a storage space?

I truly look forward to continue my journey to simple living. There are bloggers and YouTubers that are absolutely inspiring. And there is more to life than shopping for things that eventually end up in a landfill. Fill your life with experiences, not things.

Cheers,

YM

 

Pantry & Fridge Staples: menu update

Hello friends,

It has been a few months since my husband and I adopted vegan lifestyle and I thought an update on our daily menu would be nice. My first post was looking way too fancy and to be honest, nothing of this is happening in our everyday life. First, who has so much time for this? And second, it can get expensive. Here are our current basic menu and pantry staples to give you some ideas. You can make veganism as expensive as it can be or prove that vegan can be very affordable and actually save you some money.fru

My main mantra in our family is that we try to minimize our food waste (it is absolutely hard to do when everything is wrapped in plastic but at least we recycle most of it), keep meals simple and healthy. So I tend to use up what I have first before buying anything new. Here are my samples:

Breakfasts: overnight oats, granola or protein shakes. Those are our to go breakfast choices. We always have frozen berries, oatmeal, non-dairy milk, nuts and chia seeds on hand. If I don’t have time to eat at home, you can see me making a coffee and a simple protein shake to go. Ninja Nutri version is absolutely wonderful – no mess, no cleaning up and super fast. For me, it is usually a handful of whatever frozen berries are on hand, some greens, non-dairy milk and a scoop of chocolate vanilla vegan protein mix (we buy ours at Costco).

ptry 1

You can definitely play with lunch options. Examples: salads, quinoa bowls, sweet potatoes, roasted veggies and rice bowls, burritos and soups. Just countless options. We often order lunch at the office so I scan the menus for vegan or at least vegetarian options and then customize it over the phone to eliminate cheeses that they often add. I still miss that taste but a couple times when I tried eating it, it left me feeling bloated. My favorite is a local Thai place that has an extensive vegan menu that I am a big fan of.

Dinners: are pretty much similar to lunches. Although, we like to explore with making different pastas, tacos, soups, stews, stir fries etc. Something that can require a little bit more time and can get messy. I have to watch out for messy lunch options – a girl just has to keep her nice office clothes in check 😉 We order take outs too because fairly so there are nights when neither of us feel like cooking. We opt in for a pick up at the Thai place close to home, QDoba Mexican grill where you can customize your order or our local organic restaurant (they have the best vegan Roubens). spAnd when cooking at home, remember to experiment with sauces and spices. We have a cabinet full of countless variety of organic spices, vinegars, oils etc.  Miso paste and fresh lemons are always on hand to make a quick dressing.

Toddler: our toddler eats very much what we eat just in a slightly different variation. He loves rice, pasta, tofu, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, breads, berries and bananas. We are having not much luck with veggies yet but I try to incorporate it and mix it into actual dish recipes and it seems to be working. We also buy baby food pouches from Costco that have fruits and veggies and he loves those. FrHe does drink regular organic whole milk though and occasionally I buy organic grass-fed beef and make him meatballs but that’s as far as animal products go in our house. I do buy him mozzarella cheese once in a while and Silk yogurts that are based on soy milk. So there is a fine balance. We are still figuring out our way around meatless and non-dairy options.

We are new to this and still learning. We are also busy professionals with full time jobs, family, friends, travel plans, sports and other hobbies. We like our wine and our friends that are not vegan. We are not perfect and will never be. But we are trying our best to take care of ourselves, our family and the planet.

Cheers,

Yours YM

Do you read the ingredients?

Pick up a bottle of something in your bathroom and read it. What do you see? Is it Petrolatum, alcohol and perfume by any chance? Probably…And just think about it – this goes on the largest organ of your body – skin. Ick!

A couple things happened last week that made me go: wait what?

I always wash dishes with gloves. It’s a matter of habit by now because water and dish soap leave my hands extremely dry and I very much dislike that feeling. The other day, I only had a couple baby bottles to wash and thought: let me take care of those really quick without bothering putting gloves on. Next morning I saw, what it looked like an allergy/chemical burn right between my fingers! IMG_3404

I had those before but thought it might be because of it is cold outside and I need lotion or I started to have eczema ( never had it before but was looking for an explanation). Occasionally I wouldn’t put gloves on when washing dishes and never thought of that because’ we buy environmentally friendly dish soap’… It might be environmentally friendly’ish but I never bothered to read the ingredients on the bottle. Ick! Last week I perfectly remembered that my skin was normal until I washed dishes without gloves and got this thing that is still on my hands. It had to be a reaction to chemicals. That incident opened my eyes: we buy these products that touch our dishes that we put our food in and then it goes to our bodies… Well, guess what was my first move: immediately, I went to my pantry, pulled out 3-4 bottles with different cleaning products and dumped it into the sink (probably desensitized it really well), washed the bottles and threw those into recycling. Went to Natural Store, bought castile soap and will never use anything else again.

A few days after the incident with the soap, I got a sore throat and to fight my coming up cold I thought of just grabbing a Baby Rub Vicks Ointment would be a good idea. I bought it long time ago when my baby was born but never used it on him. And boy, I felt so good realizing that I didn’t, cause after reading the ingredients, that thing flew into trash. But before I read the label, I generously put it on my throat. Have you read the ingredients on it? The very first thing is Petrolatum! And we put those on ours and our babies’ skin – NO WAY! I felt like I just stuck my head into a gas tank.

Obviously, I am not a scientist and will not be arguing over chemical part of any product. This is my reflection, my experience and my intake on what I should and should not use in my family home. If you are curious, google some blogs and information on what it is truly in most of the household items that we are so used to buy.

Just a few products that I absolutely eliminated (already): drug store deodorant (switched to natural – will make homemade someday when I feel brave), cleaning products all went to the drain (castor soap, vinegar, soda and lemons are in my house for this purpose – that’s it), soap (only buying local with natural oils), bubble bath (making it myself from now on), facial toner (making it myself – super easy)  and I am working on test driving Soap Nuts so I can eliminate detergents. And that is just during last couple weeks. I hope I got you thinking, inspired you to read the label and decide for yourself if you want to put it on your skin.

Cheers,

Yana