With everything that's been going on around in the world sometimes all we want is to get lost in a good book or a good film. Studio Ghibli films have an amazing ambience around them - they make you feel cozy and warm inside. Their world is so full of details you feel literally immersed in it for the duration of the movie.
And you have never seen a Studio Ghibli film then exit this post and go watch one.
Here are some names:
- Kiki's delivery service
- Spirited away
- My neighbor Totoro
- Howl's moving castle
So how can you feel as you living in a Studio Ghibli film? Obviously, we can't make spirits appear or do magic, but here are some things you can do that will make your life just bit more 'magical'.
1. Go outside more!
Studio Ghibli always has the best landscapes - they are so vivid and magical and full of details. Obviously - this is an animated movie. But if you go outside more and start noticing your surroundings you might find things to be just as beautiful where you live.
The goal is to enjoy the scenery where you live - you have mountains? Great, go hiking, ocean - go swimming or walking on the beach. Sandy dunes? Sandy landscapes have a beauty on their own.
2. Pay more attention to small details.
This goes hand in hand with number one, but notice your surroundings. Stop and smell the roses. Take in the details.
You may see things in an ordinary place that you've never seen before.
Also recently, seasons have been going on so fast - we barely notice the change. If you pay closer attention you will see those first read leaves, the first snow covering the ground and the very first leaf buds after the winter has ended.
3. Do something you love and do it well.
Obviously for 90% of people doing what they love and making money out of it- sadly is not possible. We often have to do other work to sustain ourselves financially, sometimes even abandoning our hobbies and things that make us happy. But it doesn't have to be so.
We can still do things that make us happy, even if we don't get monetarily rewards out of them. Instead we get joy, and that if you ask me, counts for a lot. And who knows, if you keep doing what you love, keep persisting and getting better at it - the day might come that it will become your job. Your dream job. and then it won't feel like work anymore.
4. Have beautiful and delicious tea-'parties'.
I don't know about you, but every time I see people having tea in Ghibli movie I drool. They take their tea drinking very seriously - they make it art.
So, have a tea party! By yourself if you must. There's just something magical when you have a perfect cup of tea, and some yummy desert on the side - and just take your time enjoying it. Autumn weather is perfect for tea-parties, the tea will make you warm and cozy.
5. Pay more attention to your food.
If Studio Ghibli tea portrayal doesn't make you drool, then their food surely will!
Slow down and enjoy your food - appreciate the color, taste and smell. Put down your phone. Just eat - and enjoy the experience. Studio Ghibli makes us feel magical - like time have stopped, by paying attention to every day details we can feel like that every time.
6. Don't lose your curiosity.
Lastly - don't lose your curious spirit. Keep exploring, act like a tourist in your own city, go on adventures.
Adulting is hard, but it doesn't always have to be. Give yourself time to go back to your inner child and let it run free. Believe me, you will be much happier. For children don't care about status, money and comparison. They don't worry, they just live in the moment. So let yourself just live - even if it's for 5 minutes a day.
October is my favorite month of the year (and I don't really like Halloween that much). There's just something so perfectly Autumnal in the air in the month of October. I love September and November too, but October just has magic around it.
Here are some October recommendations to put you in a perfect Autumnal mood. I have some music, cartoon and book recommendations.
Music: Last Shadow Puppets album The age of the understatement is the most perfect October music ever! It's got a spooky feel to it, it's deliciously dark and it's just so darn good! Give them a listen! You won't regret it (they are British, wink wink). It's actually Alex turner's second band (the frontman of Arctic Monkeys, which I ALSO recommend).
Cartoon/movie: I know what you are thinking - it's easy, just watch any Halloween movie. Well, that's not what I am recommending here. I like to watch something that has perfect autumn feel and ambience. And Over The Garden Wall (mini series from Cartoon Network) is as perfect as it gets. I cannot recommend it enough.
Also, I feel like Kiki's delivery service is perfect for a warm Autumn night. Who's better than the world's friendliest witch to keep you company in October?
And if you are in the mood for something creepier, but still adorable you can watch The Corpse Bride.
Also, October, and just Autumn in general puts me in the mood to watch Harry Potter films. I don't know if I will have time to do it though, but I definitely want to.
Now I have some activities recommendations. Obviously there's pumpkin patches, hay rides, pole picking, drinking hot chocolate and stuff. All of that is great and lovely, but here are a few if you are not into all of the nature stuff.
I feel like October is a perfect month to go antique-ing and looking for hidden treasures in small shops.
Tea parties. Not like in Alice in wonderland, although if you are into that - why not? You just need a rabbit and a crazy hat and you are all set! It doesn't even have to be a party - just get some nice and delicate looking teacups, buy some biscuits and have a nice cup of tea with yourself. It will put you into a perfect Autumn mood right away, you will see.
And obviously, cozy up with a book! Here are just a few recommendations from me.
Stalking Jack the Ripper - although I haven't enjoyed this as much as I hoped I would I will still recommend this as a perfect October read - especially if you are looking for something gory and bloody.
Despite it being extremely hot outside (we are having Indian summer here in Pennsylvania) I am so happy that Autumn is here.
I never really decorate for any seasons, but this year I am so in the mood for it.
So, I was on the quest for:
Picture 1: I found an old milk jug at the house and painted it white. Then I also found this small gold ribbon and tied it on it. I bought these Autumn looking flowers at my local craft store (Michaels) for 5$. I find this piece to be minimal and very atmospheric and I love it <3
Picture 2: Everything was already in my bedroom (the shelf is a DIY and so is the frame with flowers- I collected and dried them up). I just added a small blue vase (had it in the house) and bought some Autumn looking flowers from Michaels (3$) for a nice color pop.
I actually think that the rusty orange flowers somehow bring the whole thing together - and I absolutely adore it.
It's a great example of how small details can definitely transform the whole room's ambience. It's the fist thing I see when I wake up, and it makes me pretty happy :)
Picture 3: Next I took a vase that I already had in the house and spray painted it white (it was bright blue before - not my thing). And yes, once again I put some Autumnal looking flowers inside of it. I know it's repetitive, but they all are so different - somehow it all just goes so well together.
I already had the LOVE sign, but I think that golden leaves in the flowers bring out the sign even better.
This one is situated in my living room's bookshelf. It's minimal and it's rustic, and it was only 2$ (for the flowers) + 7$ for white spray paint (but I used it on so many different things).
Picture 4: I also bought this awesome looking pumpkin. I try to stick to grey- white- black theme, so this is a wonderful pop of color for my room.
I placed it near the tv, on a small table that holds white flowers (couldn't take the picture due to horrible light).
This pumpkin is proof that decor doesn't have to be excessive, or big, or expensive (it was 5$). Little details have such a way of brining the whole room together.
Also, the less decor you have the easier into focus on it - nothing gets lost amidst the clutter.
Those are all of my minimal Autumn additions for this year. I added something small and bright in each room, and to me it made a huge difference. I also placed a Autumn wreath on my front door (no picture).
I had ideas of going with live flowers, but nothing really blooms anymore outside (I don't ever buy flowers - I try to scavenge what nature gives me). But maybe soon I can get some bright read laves to display in a vase. Or some very pretty twigs.
I am all up for free, nature decor (as long as it doesn't have any bugs on it).
When I first set out on a journey of decluttering and simplifying my belongings I decided to start with my closet. It just seemed like the most logical place to start. There are many reasons why to minimize and declutter, but I am not going to tell you why you should do it, instead I will tell you why I did it.
Reason 1. I have gotten quite tired of not being able to fit a single extra hanger on the rack, yet never having anything to wear that I truly liked.
Reason 2. I like to spend minimum time assembling my outfits.
Reason 3. I like to get good use for my money out of my items. Every time I see an article of clothing I never wore in my closet I internally cringe, thinking that I could have bought something way better in its place (like books, or sushi).
Reason 4. Having less makes me appreciate things I already have more. It sounds cliché, but it’s true. I have become very selective about things I own and things that I buy, so everything I own is truly loved and well used.
Reason 5. Minimal and sleek closets are very IKEA, and I dig that style.
I have been slowly and gradually working on my closet, but it is still not at the point where I want it to be, which is okay, because I am really enjoying the journey. Here are a few tips that helped me to start decluttering and refurbishing my closet.
1. Pick 3 words. These words will help you to define what is the most important quality when it comes to the clothing you wear. For me those 3 words are: comfort, confidence and simplicity. Through all of the years that I have experimented with different styles, I couldn’t understand why none of them stuck. I tried being edgy, I tried being girly, I tried so hard being boho. But every time I would assemble a style defined outfit I would feel self-conscious and uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, the outfits made me look good, I just had trouble doing some basic things in them: getting out of the car without something getting stuck, or lifted; eating without dipping my sleeves into my food; bending down…You know the struggle. Then I go and put on a good pair of jeans and a grey tee and I can breathe again. So I made comfort my number 1 priority when shopping for clothes - and everything changed. Now, I don’t mean that I go around wearing sweats and baggy shirts (although nothing is wrong with that if that’s your style) just the things I buy are not extravagant, or a one season styles anymore. I try to buy things that are timeless and simple in design. For when I feel comfortable and attractive in the clothes I wear, only then I feel completely confident.
2. Define your style. It doesn’t have to be an industry defined style, it just has to be you. If you are still experimenting with what style suits you best, try buying pieces that can be worn multiple times and that are easy to mix and match. If you already know what your style is, stick to the items that define it, and you will love everything that you have in your closet.
3. Work with seasons. If you want to go ahead and re-do your closet in one sitting, you can totally do that. But I learned that taking a “seasonal” approach to things works better for me. When I was “winter” cleaning, I only went through and discarded things that I would wear in that season. I left some of them as my “maybes” to see if I would wear them at all. Well I went through the whole winter only wearing about 4 of my favorite sweaters, one pair of jeans and a skirt. Recently I just discarded all of the items that didn’t even get touched in the winter. Now that it’s “spring” time I am going through my spring items. When you work with the seasons you get to see exactly what you wear and what you barely touch.
3. Pick a color scheme. You don’t have to, but it helps (especially when you are out shopping). When you stick to certain hues and colors, it’s much easier to shop, as viola, everything in your closet matches! It works very well with neutral colors: blacks, greys, tans. But if you are a lover of bright colors – make sure that they complement each other. Myself, I noticed that I am the most comfortable in greys, blacks and dark blues (might sound boring to some of you, but that’s okay), so for my color palette I chose: black, grey, navy blue and maroon (as my accent color). Now, that doesn’t mean that all of the closes I own are only of those colors, just most of them. I have whites, few hushed greens and some spring looking florals. As I am still in the process of building my “perfect wardrobe” I like to keep my options open.
4. Shopping ban. Put yourself on a “no shopping” challenge for any amount of time you feel comfortable with, but try to go without clothing shopping for at least 1 month. This little trick helps you to see what you have in your closet. It challenges you to create outfits with pieces that you already own, very often things that you long forgotten that you had. Exploring your own closet can be very fun sometimes.
5. Follow one in - one out "rule" This very common trick helps with keeping your closet manageable. If you just cleaned up your closet and then went and bought millions of new things to stuff back in there – well then why were you even cleaning in the first place? When you are still in the process of decluttering your closet try to only buy things that you really love, things that go with other things. Remember that you have to love that new item enough to be able to let go of something in its place. This also helps with compulsive shopping habits.
6. “Would you buy this in the store?” This little tip actually helped me a lot. When I went through my closet trying to discard things that I barely wore I kept asking myself “Would I pay money for this in the store right now?” Sadly, most of the time the answer was “no”. It showed me how little use I got out of the money I paid for that piece of clothing, as well as opened my eyes to some of my bad shopping habits.
7. Don't get too excited. When I first learned that stores like Style Encore and Plato’s Closet will give you cash for your clothes, I think I went a little overboard. I started looking for things in my closet that I could sell, not the things I just wanted to get rid of because I didn’t like them. I kept imagining all that cash that can be spent on some staples I still needed to bring into my closet. In the end, my happy bubble was obviously popped, as they give you very little cash (clothes are practically worthless, however if you bring some nice shoes or designer purses you can make some decent cash there). So, when decluttering, make sure that the items you want to get rid of are actually the ones you don’t care much for, not just the ones you think you could sell.
8. Visibility. I have noticed that having an open style closet really helps with clutter, as there is virtually no room for clutter to hide as everything is on display. I purchased a free standing clothing rack and a few of open shelves. All of my favorite things I hang on the rack, and then I fold my jeans and chunky sweaters to display them on the shelves. Undergarments and hosiery obviously stay hidden. However this approach only works if you have a walk-in closet, or just a really big closet. For smaller closets and closed drawers try using dividers as they will help to organize and increase visibility in a small space.
Here is a small gallery of inspirational images of extremely minimal, tidy and beautiful closets. I have taken these images from Pinterest (when most of the time it's impossible to find owners of the images), so if I used one of your images without the permission, please let me know.
If you are anything like me - then big and complicated recipes scare you. No matter how tasty the dish looks I am always hesitant to try a recipe that has more than 10 indigents in it. I think I am just lazy. So that is why recently I have been focusing on cooking simple meals. And results?
- I always have all of the ingredients on hand
- Less time cooking
- Less time cleaning dishes
- Better for your body
- So yummy!
Ahh, I forgot to mention the best part about this recipe. It is totally customizable! Don't like kale? Substitute it with a vegetable you love. Want an even healthier version? Use sweet potatoes instead of regular ones! Too plain for your taste? Add some colorful vegetables!
Now let's get started.
Prep time: 5 min. Cook time: 15-20 min (depends how soft you want your veggies)
Ingredients (2 people portions)
- 9 small sized potatoes
- 1 carrot
- 4-6 napa cabbage leaves (depends on the size of the cabbage)
- 2 big stalks of baby kale (you can use mature kale, but young one is so much yummier)
- 5 heads of baby bok-choi (again you can use large one, just downsize accordingly)
- Vegetable broth (just enough to submerge the veggies)
- 1 tbs of Curry spice powder (brand of your choice)
- About half a cup of Thai Style coconut milk (comes in a can, but I transferred it into a mason jar)
- 1 tbs of soy sauce (not pictured)
Peel and cut up potatoes and the carrot. I like my potatoes in small squares and my carrots in small circles. Place them in a cooking pot and cover with vegetable stock. I didn't provide measurements for the broth because it will vary. You only need to cover your vegetables enough so they can cook. Simmer until tender. While your potatoes and carrots are simmering chop up your kale, napa cabbage and bok choi into small pieces.
When potatoes and carrot are about done (I poke mine with a knife to check) add coconut milk. The amount of milk will depend on how much broth evaporated while cooking (we don't want it to be too watery). Usually less than half a cup is needed. Next add curry powder and stir very well. I add about a tbs, but if you love super spicy foods, crank it up a notch. Or better yet, use spicy curry powder (like Vindaloo curry, although that stuff is so strong it makes me cough! So proceed with caution if you decide to switch it up).
Add a tbs of soy sauce (for saltiness). For even healthier meal you can use the 'less sodium' soy sauce (I use that one) or not use any at all (but it might come out a little blah). And now it's time to add the veggies! I used all leaf veggies in this recipe, but you can totally switch it up. As long as it goes well with curry taste.
Stir everything together. Simmer on low heat until greens are soft (this is a personal preference, if you want veggies fresher only simmer for a little bit; if you like them nice and cooked give it some more time). When veggies look like they are done, take them off heat and plate your yummy lunch (dinner).
Note: I know that curry dishes are normally served with fragrant rice, but since this dish has potato (starch) in it I choose to omit the rice. It tastes delicious on its own. Just make sure your consistency is not too watery.
Thank you so much for reading and I hope that you will enjoy this customizable, super easy, nutritious and delicious curry recipe. Also, it is super CHEAP too make. It is definitely a staple in our house.
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Do you have trouble concentrating? Like when you are trying to read a book and making no progress, because you keep stopping to check your phone every 5 minutes? Or when you are trying to write a school paper in a hurry, but Facebook is calling your name, so you end up spending hours and hours on a task that should have taken maybe an hour?
'Do I want coffee? Where should I eat? What should I wear? Uhhhhh...I can't decide!!'
Does that sound like you? Do you feel like you have been extra indecisive lately? That even simple decisions take forever to make?
Do you have trouble sleeping? Or getting up from bed in the morning? Does your morning routine take hours instead of minutes, because you spend 90 percent of that time checking your social accounts?
Does your food taste less vibrant to you? Do you feel like you are not satisfied enough with your eating routine?
If you answered any of those questions with a 'yes' then you, my friend, are in need of a digital detox. More specifically - social media digital detox, or for short SMDD (it's not a thing, I just made that up, because I like shortcuts).
A period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic devices such as smartphones or computers, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world.
I have seen a lot of articles about Digital Detox where people go out in the woods for a couple of days, give up their phone for hours or days, or go on group retreats to communicate and socialize in person. While all of those are great methods to digitally detoxify, I want to talk about taking less grand measures, but still getting that much needed 'social media break'.
You may ask 'why do I even need a digital detox? I am fine with having my nose up in my phone all the time'. That might be true, but if you answered 'yes' to any of those questions - truth is - you are not fine.
There are a lot of articles about how internet and media affect your brain's ability to concentrate (I am not going to push any of them at you, but just google 'internet and concentration' or something of sorts, if you wish to learn more). Bottom line is - it makes you brain-scattered. Why? Your brain has to keep up with all of your multitasking internet surfing, scrolling, swiping and douple-tapping, and it's not an easy task. So when the time comes for easy things - such as concentrating on a single task, or trying to decide on a single food, or article of clothing - your brain has trouble making the switch. So you find yourself unable to decide on coffee flavors (vanilla or hazelnut? Hazelnut or vanilla? hmmmmmmm). Frustrating, eh?
Explaining why your food tastes less vibrant, or why you don't have much appetite is even easier. First of all - we don't focus on the food anymore. We browse our phones just to do something while we are eating, which in turn takes joy out of eating. Or we don't dare to take a single bite of the steamy and hot dinner until we take a picture of it. Then write a description for a picture, post a picture...And the food is cold now. And not at all that appetizing.
Or we order something at a restaurant not because we want to eat it, but because it looks good, and we think that it's 'instagram-worthy'.
I, personally, was sick and tired of being 'controlled' by social media. By my constant need to check all of my outlets million times a day. To keep scrolling till my fingers hurt, and not really seeing pictures, but just scrolling for the sake of it. To waking up, and instead of enjoying my day, laying in bed and double-tapping my phone screen. To feeling envious of all the pictures of food I was looking at while eating my salad, instead of enjoying my salad.
If you feel the same way then I want to invite you to a SMDD (here I am using my shortcut again :). It's not an actual thing, it's not really a 'challenge' (although it is very challenging!) and it's not a cult. It's a way to get yourself free, to realize how much time we actually have in a day, when we are not spending it mindlessly glued to our phones, and to learn to enjoy that time.
Ever heard of a phase 'it takes 21 days to form a habit'? Well now researchers are saying that it takes 66 days to form a habit. Bottom line is - pick an amount of time that it takes YOU to form a habit. I randomly chose 27 days. In that chosen time make a promise to yourself to only check ALL of your social media accounts ONCE a day. And by once a day I mean do it all in one sitting. Check your e-mail, your Facebook, your Instagram, your Pinterest - whatever that you have and use. Check it once and then you are done for the day. Simple right? Wrong! For some reason it is so stinking hard! Obviously, if your work requires you to check your home e-mail multiple times, then do that. But if you are checking your email it does not mean that you have to check your Facebook, your Twitter...
Out of those 27 days I probably failed really hard about 7 of them. A whole week of failures. But that's fine. We are all human and addiction is hard. Yes, social media is an addiction, and refraining from it will show you just how big of addiction it is.
Sometimes I would pick my phone and open an app - then quickly close it and put my phone away. Then I would pick my phone again, and again...And I would have to remind myself to put it down. The hardest were the days when I had an appointment, or had to wait for something. My hands were literally itching for my phone. I tried to bring a book I was reading everywhere, but if I forgot... Well, then I was stuck just staring around. And you know what I saw? People on their phones!!!
I wrote 27 days out on a piece of paper and put a checkmark next to each day that I succeeded (it helped me a lot to keep myself in check). By the end of my 27 days I was skipping some days altogether.
If you already only check your phone once a day (kudos!) then maybe implement a 'no social media on the weekend rule'. Or 'no phone in the bedroom'.
What I learned during my Digital Detox:
- How much more time I have. An average person spends about 5 hours on their phone. 5 hours! That is a lot of time! And I am not talking about time spent researching recipes, or time spent doing important research, or time spent reading educational articles. I am talking about time spent mindlessly checking all of the social outlets, because of habit. What can you do with extra 5 hours a day? Sleep? Read more? Learn to cook? Cuddle your dog? Have more sex with your spouse? Play with your children before they grow up and leave you?
- How beautiful my surroundings are. When I couldn't stick my face into my phone I had to find other outlets to focus my attention to. So I started to look around. And I finally saw things. Things that were always there but I always took for granted. Walks with my dog became more adventurous. Driving around became exploring. I saw things, places. I saw nature and beauty. I saw people.
- I feel less scatter brainy. I am the most indecisive person ever (and with added internet addiction I really was a mess). Sometimes I would be hungry for hours because I couldn't decide on where to go for lunch. I am not saying that my indecisiveness is totally cured, but I am better at making decisions. Small and bigger ones. Even big ones, sometimes.
- I enjoy my food more. When I take time to prepare my food and then take time to eat it - I enjoy it so much more. The flavor, the texture, the colors... Yum.
- I am more attentive and I am more socialized. When there is no phone to bury my nose into, I had to socialize with people around me (and it is hard when you are as introverted as I am). Or so I thought. Turns out it's much easier when there is no distraction. When you have a real, important conversations and when you give your undivided attention to somebody.
- I have learned a lot during Digital Detox, but the most important thing that I stopped doing since 'detoxing' was to stop comparing. Social Media has a tendency to make people compare. To make people jealous of a 'perfect picture' or a 'perfect life'. It makes you want things that you don't need. When you distance yourself from all of that you realize that what you have is enough. That you are enough. That all the 'needs' and 'wants' were childish and silly, and what you already have will make you happy, if you just notice it.
- Distancing myself from Social Media has also led to a lifestyle change. Without the constant need to have things that other people have, without ads telling me what I should buy, or what I should wear, or what I should eat I was able to adopt a more minimal, simple and mindful lifestyle. I am by no means a minimalist, but I feel lighter, less cluttered and less stressed (digital clutter is a big factor of stressing out).
Do I still have days when I slip up and waste hours looking through my phone for no reason? Of course. If it ever gets too bad, or out of control again, I just repeat the process of my once-a-day for 27 days digital detoxing. Hey, I' not perfect. Are you?