Learning Homebase

Learning to be a better you!

person taking pill

What’s exactly in the vitamin or supplement in your medicine cabinet? The answer may surprise you, especially if you live in the United States – where dietary supplements are not exactly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And all vitamin and supplement brand ingredients are definitely not created equal. But fear not, there are some valuable resources and tools available to ensure that you are buying the best supplements online.

Journey Into the Unknown

capsules in yellow surface

Walk into any drug store, supermarket or club store or scroll through their websites and you will be greeted by hundreds of supplements. Vitamin store websites and Amazon are even more intimidating with thousands of supplements available for your perusing. All of these options, coupled with all of the supplement ads that pop up on Instagram and Facebook advertising to help you lose weight, be happier, help immunity and more, make the simple task of finding a high quality supplement incredibly difficult.

Making it even more challenging is the lack of any government watchdog agency or the FDA regulating the vitamin and supplement industry. This lack of regulation opens the door for supplement companies to mislead the public, use cheap or ineffective ingredients and not test their products for efficacy.

Many state led and private investigations uncovered that supplement labels don’t always match the ingredients in the supplement. Following an investigation of the supplement industry in 2015, for example, the New York Attorney General concluded that 79% of supplements tested did not contain the primary ingredient listed in the label. Click here to read more about the stunning findings here. The biggest offenders were drug store brands, Walmart and GNC. While all retailers agreed to pull the questionable supplements from the shelves, without regulation, these fraudulent and misleading supplements continue to flood the market.

What Can You Do to Select Safe, Quality Supplements?

1) Talk to Your Doctor

A doctor's stethoscope

Simply ask your doctor for recommendations for the best supplements to buy online. You should be talking to your doctor anyway about any supplements that you are taking or are interested in taking – to ensure they are safe and don’t interact with any medications or health conditions. At your next doctor’s appointment or wellness visit, ask your doctor what brands that they recommend. During every visit, my documents goes through all of the supplements (and brand of supplements!) that I am currently taking. I know many doctors are not as thorough, but it doesn’t hurt to ask your doctor what brands they recommend. For what it’s worth, my doctor recommends Thorne, Pure Encapsulations and Metagenics.

2) Look for Third Party Testing Certifications

Look for labels showing NSF certification to find the best supplements online

Before purchasing supplements online, look for mentions of third party testing in the product description and on the labels. The most popular third party testing certifications are: ConsumerLab.com, NSF International, and U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP). Finding a supplement with any of these certifications shows that the supplement company is not only interested in transparency, but committed to high quality supplements that include the stated ingredients.

3. Do Your Research on ConsumerLab.com and Labdoor.com to Find the Best Supplements Online

crop doctor with pills on palm and pills bottle

Consumerlab.com, a two decade old publisher of health and wellness product test results, releases supplement test results for public consumption on their website. While they outsource the testing of products, they go way beyond supplements to include 1,300 test results on everything from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, green tea, canned tuna, and more. Experts also respond to consumer’s questions about supplements and health products. The only downside is that all of this extensive research is available behind a pay wall; consumers must subscribe to the tune of $3.95 a month for an annual membership.

Another excellent resource that you probably never heard of is labdoor.com. Like Consumerlab, Labdoor offers supplement guidance to consumers using detailed research about which supplements are highest in quality and match the information on product labels. They send top-selling supplements to a FDA-registered lab for purity and label accuracy and publish the results on their website. They include a Labdoor letter grade for each supplement, a score out of 100, and evaluate the supplements on the following categories: label accuracy, product purity, nutritional value, ingredient safety and projected efficacy. Labdoor continues to add new supplement categories regularly. And the reports are available free of charge!

So, now with some insight from your doctor and a little research, finding safe, effect and high quality supplements online is a little easier.

Learning to shop for the holidays creatively!

Christmas and Hanukkah are fast approaching, and like everything else in 2020, the holidays are looking like they will be celebrated much differently than in previous years and probably in future years to come. While most office holiday celebrations have been cancelled and cocktail dresses will remain on the hangers in our closets at least for the foreseeable future, Zoom holiday cocktail parties and smaller gatherings seem to be the new norm in 2020.

Although celebrations will be scaled back, we all still have gifts to exchange, Secret Santa names to pick and stockings to stuff. Due to the pandemic, widespread layoffs, work furloughs and other economic woes have forced many to lower their Christmas gift budgets significantly. However, we all still want to spread cheer and spoil our friends and family. Here are some creative holiday gift ideas and stocking stuffers ideas for under $30:

  1. Cocktail Gifts to Liven Holiday Zoom Parties

You might have come across drnxmyth.com online; they are a fresh craft cocktails company that allows imbibers from around the world to order delicious bottled cocktail creations from the world’s leading mixologists. Each bottled beverage arrives chilly and includes cold pressed ingredients without added preservatives or heat pasteurization.

Their delightful menu includes Cucumber Margarita, Strawberry Mojito, Apricot Rye Smash, Bourbon Sour, Rum Punch, Smoked Watermelon (a Mezcal drink), Ginger Drop (as their website describes, a lemon drop meets a Moscow mule, Eastside (a minty, cucumber gin drink), and more. And each bottle is $11-$12 (plus shipping) and makes the perfect accompaniment to your Zoom Holiday parties.

2. Gifts for the Coffee Lover

Over 50% of American adults drink coffee – so you likely can’t go wrong with a coffee themed present or stocking stuffer. There are so many ways you can go with this one. Think coffee makers, accessories, milk frothers, and more. Why not elevate your friend’s or family member’s morning coffee by giving them an affordable French Press or premium coffee. Check out this article for more latte-inspired holiday gift ideas.

Affordable Holiday Gift Ideas for Coffee Lovers
Find the perfect coffee holiday gift ideas for those who love coffee.

3. Stocking Stuffer for the Frequent Traveler – 2020 Edition

Pandemic or not, some people have jobs that require frequent travel or others are still opting to travel home for the holidays. Safety and protective measures have never been more important. Why not arm these travelers with a safety pack that includes PPE such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, wipes, toilet seat covers and more? Here is one for less than $20 that can be easily stuffed in a stocking: Safe Travels Essential Kit.

Safe travels PPE kit

4. Gifts for the Aspiring Chef

Are you looking for holiday gift ideas for someone who spends hours in the kitchen or who would rather binge watch episodes of The Food Network over anything on Netflix? Why not give them what they love? The Ninja Storm is an all-in-one 40 oz blender and food processor. It’s available in several colors to match almost any kitchen and it whips, blends, crushes ice and processes food in a jiffy. Check it out here. It’s available for only $29.98. As an added bonus, the retailer allows for flex pay options. And yes Christmas and Hanukkah colors are available.

Red Ninja Storm Food Processor, Ice Crusher and Blender
The Ninja Storm makes food prep easy.

Does the home cook already have all of the tools that could possibly be needed and then some? Instead of a kitchen appliance or culinary tool, why not surprise them with a variety of marinades, dips and dressings to enhance their recipes and post-pandemic entertaining.

Yo Mama’s Foods, not only has a memorable brand name, but offers healthy, low carb, diet friendly and tasty oils, sauces, marinades, dressing, and dips with no artificial ingredients. You can create your own delectable gift bundle of their goodies or purchase a bundled gift set. There dressing gift set is available for $27.98 plus 20% off your first order. Check it out here: Yo Mama’s Foods.

Yo Mama's Dressing Gift Bundle

5. Gift for the Ice Cream-aholic

Who doesn’t love ice cream? Well, there are probably some of us who love it more than others and may be prone to late night excursions to the supermarket or Dairy Queen to satisfy our frozen treat fix. This mini Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker is the perfect gift for any ice cream lover out there. For starters, it’s the cutest ice cream maker on the market, is super easy to use (you freeze the cooling bowl overnight, add the ingredients, press a button and your own pint of ice cream is ready in just 30 minutes), makes just the right amount of ice cream and is available for under $20.

Dash My Pint Ice Cream Maker

6. Stocking Stuffer for the Beauty Obsessed

Do you know someone who spends more money on makeup and skincare than the GDPs of some countries? Fill their stockings with more of what they love with makeup bundles from Ipsy. You can choose a bundle (5 samples of mini or full size products in a snazzy makeup bag) for $12 and customize it with makeup, skincare and hair care add-ons that range in price from $3 to $18. Access to the gift options are available for members, but you can sign up quickly here.

IPSY makeup bag filled with makeup and skin care goodies

7. Gifts for the Health Nuts/Smoothie Makers

For the devoted smoothie makers in your life (Yes, I’m one of them as evidenced by my own daily supercharged smoothie ritual) or athletes, consider giving them boosters for their smoothies or powders to help them make the most of their sweat sessions. Bulk Supplements makes premium and high rated yet affordable powders and capsules that are lab-tested for purity. Pick a few and wrap them along with some smoothie or protein shake recipes. You’re bound to get a fist bump (well, maybe an elbow bump in the time of COVID-19) or a bicep flex for that one.

For the smoothie makers:

For the gym frequenters:

Bulk Supplements Whey Protein Powder

8. A Gift for the Wine Connoisseur in Your Life

Wine snobs, and I say that affectionately, are often accustomed to receiving bottles of wine or fancy wine openers as gifts. But, I bet they haven’t received any wine filters. These clever gadgets help eliminate headaches and other uncomfortable side effects experienced by many who drinking wine. PureWine’s filters remove histamines and sulfites which many are sensitive to and as a result – help make wine drinking more enjoyable for all. And you can’t beat the price. A single Pure Wine The Wave Purifier and Aerator is available for $11.99. Or if you prefer, they offer purifying wands that can be placed in each wine glass (sold in a pack of 10 for $19.99 or four for $11.99). You can find these unique filters here.

PureWine's The Wave wine purifier and PureWine's wine purifying wands

9. Turn Your Virtual Holiday Parties a Mukbang by Sending International Snack Boxes

It’s all the rage on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube; celebrities and pseudo celebrities record Mukbangs or eating sessions, which many times includes them chowing down on and sampling snacks from abroad. Some of the snacks featured are definitely intriguing – some in a good way and some in a bad way.

Well, now you can have your own Mukbang session by sending those on your virtual holiday party list a box of international goodies. Universal Yums lets you send a holiday-themed box filled with 6 unique snacks plus trivia, games and more starting at $17. They also have country-curated boxes. For example, the Italy box is currently available for purchase. Snackcrate offers a cheaper option of 5-6 snacks for $14 but without the bells and whistles that come with the Universal Yums boxes. Snackrate allows you to send vouchers to recipients that they can claim when they desire.

10. Holiday Gift Ideas for People Who Have Everything or Who Are Always Tough to Shop For

Shopping for certain people in our lives can be challenging each and every holiday season. No, need to despair though. Here are are a couple of holiday gift ideas for those difficult to shop for folks in your lives:

  • Hop over to Uncommon Goods for some truly unique finds. They have quite the assortment of gift options for under $30 (indoor herb gardens, brainteasers, therapy dough, bourbon infused coffee, poop bingo (what???) – I guess for the potty mouth in your life, root beer making kits, kabob grilling baskets, 100 things to do after quarantine game, mini terrariums, automatic pot stirrers, Italian cheesemaking kits and so much more! For additional cheer, Uncommon Goods is currently offering a $5 credit for signing up for their email list.
  • Go crafty! Check out Etsy for unique, homemade gifts based on their interests and hobbies.
  • Head over to Lulu’s Garden to browse their inventory of long-living succulent plants. Succulents make excellent decorative pieces and unlike most plants are extremely hard to kill. They require minimum sunlight and water and will be around for at least until next Christmas.

Happy (online) shopping!

Learning to cook something new!

Until recently, I’ve never really been an egg person. I mean, I guess I enjoyed an egg from time-to-time but I rarely had the desire to get out of bed in the morning and whip up some eggs for breakfast. On the rare instances when I did, it was usually a scrambled egg or omelet that I craved. The runnier eggs like soft-boiled and poached eggs used to skeeve me out.

Well, that is, until I ordered this amazing breakfast sampler while on vacation in Siesta Key, Florida two years ago that came with … poached eggs. The brunch place that served the dish was a cute breakfast cottage in close proximity to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world; the restaurant was the kind where people wait on line for an hour just to get a table. Maybe it was the salt water in the air, but for some reason I ordered a dish with poached eggs, which was far from the norm from me. When the waitress brought out the plate, the poached egg looked so regal on the plate. It was cooked to perfection, expertly seasoned, and the yoke oozed out perfectly when cut. And it tasted amazing.

Since that time, I have found myself ordering poached eggs for breakfast at any diners or brunch place that I frequent. I told myself that I would try to learn how to make poached eggs at home in my own kitchen at some point. But with my crazy pre-pandemic schedule, it never happened. To be fair, I did read a few recipes and watched some Youtube videos on the subject, but it always seemed too complicated and time consuming.

Fast forward to the lockdown in March, when we all suddenly had all of the time in the world. Especially in the beginning weeks, like many of us, I was trying to keep myself busy and focused on things other than this widely spreading pandemic. It couldn’t have been a better time to finally focus and learn how to make a poached egg. It was actually one of the first things I accomplished in the early part of the lockdown. Although it took a lot of trial and error, I felt incredibly accomplished when I finally made the perfect poached egg. (I small feat to many, but a large feat to me during this pandemic.)

There was definitely a lot of experimentation involved until I got it right. I tried using sauce pans, non-stick frying pans and even the microwave. Upon researching online via Google and YouTube, I realized there were hundreds of ways to poach an egg. The three items that many of these how-to videos and recipes had in common were:

  • Using the freshest eggs that you can find;
  • Adding a little vinegar to the pot;
  • Using a strainer/sieve to remove the watery parts of the egg whites.

After much experimentation, I found a method that seems to consistently produce restaurant quality poached eggs. Here is the recipe tutorial that worked the best for me:

Her steps are super easy to follow and deliver the best results; and if I can poach an egg anyone can! As we are heading into the second phase of this pandemic, I think it’s time to learn how to make another dish!

Learning to make smoothie recipes with an extra nutritional punch!

I’ve been a smoothie junkie for the past 10 years. I first started making smoothies regularly when I lived in my teeny tiny, closet-sized apartment in NYC using a Magic Bullet mini blender that my mom purchased from an infomercial years before. (Everyone in my family got a Magic Bullet due to a buy one get one free special or some other wacky promotion.) Back then, my smoothie recipes would simply consist of the strawberries, blueberries and bananas that I usually picked up from a street vendor on Third Avenue (before you judge, grocery store produce is very expensive in NYC!) and yogurt and spinach from the Food Emporium across the street (which was also quite expensive). My smoothies were nothing fancy and very consistent from day to day.

A few years later, that Magic Bullet bit the dust. Since then, I have not only upgraded my blender to the much coveted Vitamix blender (it’s definitely worth the investment) and upgraded my apartment by moving across the river (well, I gained a few hundred square feet anyway), but I have also elevated and supercharged my smoothie recipes.

A purple smoothie in a glass with an orange and leafy garnish
Photo by Daniela Miskulin on Pexels.com

I have been experimenting with smoothie recipes for the past few years. For example, I’ve tried adding different nut and plant-based milks, nut butters, fruits, herbs, vegetables, powders and supplements. For at least six months prior to the pandemic, I consistently made my own version of the Medical Medium’s Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie, which consisted of banana, cilantro, spirulina, barley grass juice extract, wild blueberries, atlantic dulse and my own additions of pineapple and parsley.

Fast forward to the beginning of the pandemic in March… It was almost impossible to find fresh or frozen produce anywhere – even at smaller supermarkets or bodegas. For a few weeks, restaurants around me were even selling produce directly to locals who couldn’t get produce in grocery stores. (Some were even selling toilet paper!) So, during that time, I had no choice really but to order ready-to-blend smoothies. I chose to order a monthly supply from Daily Harvest, a brand that advertises all over social media. While pricey, Daily Harvest’s ingredients are mostly organic, the smoothies were beyond easy to make and definitely feature some interesting flavor combinations.

A New Immune Boosting Smoothie Recipe Was Born

When the grocery stores were fully stocked in June, I cancelled Daily Harvest immediately. When I was finally able to purchase produce again locally, I began concocting new smoothie recipes. After some trial and error, I have came up with a supercharged smoothie recipe that features an abundance of antioxidants and immune boosting ingredients. My smoothie is a combination of the Medical Medium’s Heavy Metal Detox Smoothie, some ingredients from a smoothie recipe that a pop culture site reposted from Reese Witherspoon and many of my own contributions.

Just a disclaimer before I get to the recipe, the smoothie usually takes me about 7-10 minutes to prepare and blend. However, it is so worth the prep time. Since making this smoothie almost daily, my hair and nails have been growing like weeds, my hair is super shiny and soft, and the dry skin that typically rears its head this time of year is completely absent. It also does wonders for my digestion.

Ingredients

The regular ingredients (typically added to my blender in the order below):

  • A 1/2 cup to 1 cup of Oat Milk (or any nut milk or dairy milk)
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 apple (cut in wedges)
  • A handful of cilantro
  • A handful of parsley
  • 1-2 handfuls of Bok Choy leaves (or you can use Spinach if you are not so bold)
  • 1 large handful of frozen blueberries or wild blueberries
  • 3 frozen cherries
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flax (I use this one.)
  • 1 scoop of chocolate or vanilla flavored collagen powder (I typically use whatever high quality brand is on sale and also use it in my coffee as described here; right now, I am using this one.)
  • 1 probiotic capsule (open the capsule and pour powder add to the blender.

Add-on Ingredients

The ingredients above are the “regulars.” But, I seems feel the urge to change things up a bit. Other ingredients I might toss in if I have them on hand from time to time or if I feel the need include (but are not necessary):

  • 1-3 fresh strawberries
  • A few fresh raspberries or blueberries
  • Some handful of broccoli sprouts (a little goes a long way; be careful because too much will overpower your smoothie)
  • A few frozen pineapple bits
  • 1-2 tablespoons of canned pumpkin
  • A scoop of spirulina powder (if I am feeling a bit run down or under the weather; I use this one.)
  • Glutamine powder (if I am experiencing any digestive issues; I use this one.)
  • A 1/2 scoop of plant-based protein powder (if using the smoothie as a meal replacement)

Instructions: Blend together and enjoy!

A smoothie in a glass on the counter

This smoothie is such an ideal and quick way to add more fruits, vegetables, fresh herbs, antioxidants, fiber and protein to your diet – all in a single swoop.

Learning to give back creatively!

A few weeks ago, a heart-wrenching image emerged from many of the major news outlets and on social media. It was an image of a seemingly endless line of cars sitting in traffic on a major roadway in Texas. It wasn’t rush hour traffic or a back-up due to a bad accident, though. Thousands of cars had waited on line for hours to receive food from the North Texas Food Bank ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

In any given year, millions of families struggle just to make ends meet. With all that is going on in 2020 with the pandemic, mass lay-offs, furloughed workers, and the closing of many small businesses, this struggle is all the more intense. Now more than ever our neighbors and fellow citizens need our help.

Giving Tuesday is this upcoming Tuesday, December 1st. Giving Tuesday (#GivingTuesday) often takes a backseat to Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday – but it should be more widely embraced and celebrated – especially this year. Charities and nonprofits also have taken a major hit this year. Fewer donations are coming in and major fundraising events have been halted due to COVID-19.

Even though many of us are facing unprecedented tough times this year and unexpected, we have the power to make a difference not just on Giving Tuesday, but on any day and in any way that we can. Here are just a few ideas:

Donating Money Directly to Charities

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you are able to, definitely consider giving money directly to charities that help the most people in need. Not all charities are equal, though. Before donating a single dollar, research the charity to ensure that your money is mostly serving the people in need vs. covering the charity’s administrative expenses. Thankfully, there are many tools to assist you in your research. I prefer to use charitywatch.org to find and contribute to top-rated charities (which is defined as those who spend 75% of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve and meet governance benchmarks). Below are a few top-rated charities along with their Charity Watch ratings:

The above list is just a small representation of the many worthy charities out there who need our support. Also, check with your company’s Human Resources department to see if any company charity donation match programs are in place to further augment your donation.

Donating Unused Gift Cards

Let’s face it. Gift cards are one of the easiest gifts to give and receive. We all get them for birthdays, graduations, holidays, etc. … and if you are anything like me, you get them so frequently that you likely forget you even have some of them at all. My company even offers a rewards program where associates are thanked for hard work and success with gift card rewards. I believe many other companies do the same.

Over time, I have amassed a whole drawer of gift cards (see below for just a few of the cards currently collecting dust in my drawer). While I definitely use many of the gift cards that I receive and will use many of them below, I haven’t been able to keep up with the steady flow of gift cards coming my way.

Did you know that you can donate gift cards to charity? This might be the perfect option for someone with tight finances this year:

  • CharityChoice lets you donate most gift cards to the charity of your choice. The group deducts a small percentage of the donation for administrative expenses.
  • GiftCards4change is similar to CharityChoice. They retain 5-10% of the donation for administrative expenses.

In addition, many charities like Goodwill and Salvation Army will accept gift card donations directly. Also, check with your local churches, nursing homes or community centers if you prefer to give the gift cards directly to a family or individual in need within your community this holiday season.

Contributing to Food Pantries/Food Banks

Many of us have extra cans of soup, vegetables, fruit and other pantry staples that could really benefit those in need this holiday season. A simple Google search can lead you to the food pantries and food banks in your communities that are accepting food donations. If you are unsure which place to donate, try calling your town hall or neighborhood churches for suggestions. Some food pantries and food banks are even accepting refrigerated or frozen food donations. It’s another great way to give back if finances are a bit tight.

Photo by edwin josu00e9 vega ramos on Pexels.com

Do What You Can on Giving Tuesday and this Holiday Season

Even the smallest act of kindness and charity can have a really profound impact on those in need this holiday season. If you can’t do any of the suggestion above due to financial or other limitations, do what you can. Like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday will be behind us before we know it, but the spirit of giving will hopefully continue this holiday season – when its never been needed more.

Learning to save by making coffee at home!

Like many people living in the NYC area, when the pandemic first hit in March, I hunkered down. In the first month or so, I only left my apartment to go for walks to get some much needed fresh air or to visit with family outdoors in a socially distant way. Groceries, takeout food, home supplies, and pretty much anything I needed came directly to my door through Instacart, Amazon, Whole Foods, Mercato, local restaurants, UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc. And, during this time, I was forced to make all of my coffee at home.

Starting in late May, I started to venture out a bit more (safely of course) and began resuming my pre-pandemic ritual of starting most days with a medium/grande Starbucks or Dunkin coffee via their drive-thrus. Before the pandemic hit, I would venture outside of my NYC office just about everyday for a $5+ Starbucks coffee (Starbucks was the closest option to my office). Then, on the weekends I would also then wait in the long drive thru lines for my weekend coffee fix. I considered my lattes to be my daily treat.

Through the various phases of lockdown, I began to really evaluate my spending habits on a lot of different fronts. I realized that my coffee habit was beginning to add up. I was spending at least $35 per week on Starbucks or Dunkin’ lattes (not including tips), which translated to $140+ a month and a whopping $1820+ a year. And obviously some weeks were even more $ when factoring in buying coffees for co-workers, friends and family.

My remedy for reducing my coffee spending came from an unexpected, fabulous gift. For my recent birthday, I received a french press as a gift from a friend. (It was a simple, single cup french press that you can buy on Amazon. This is the one that I have.) You can purchase a good quality french press for under $35, which coincidentally which was what I was spending for my Starbucks and Dunkin’ coffees every week.

In the past, I wasn’t a big fan of home brewed coffee. I owned a couple of Keurig machines that always broke after a few years and produced “meh,” lackluster tasting coffee. When my last Keurig machine broke a few years ago, I didn’t even bother replacing it. I was definitely a bit skeptical about using a french press, but I am finding that I actually prefer the taste of my homemade french press lattes to most coffees made by Starbucks and Dunkin’ baristas. Over time, I have experimented with ingredients and ground coffees to come up with the perfect lattes. Now, instead of waiting in coffee drive thru lines for 30 minutes, I now just walk to my kitchen. And I am able to make a killer latte in about 5 minutes from start to finish.

I think the key to an elevated cup of coffee is to finding high quality, organic (if possible) ground coffee. A lot of the supermarket ground coffees are not the best quality or are high in mold (which unfortunately is common with most commercial coffees). Check out this article for more information about mold in coffee. While I love the Bulletproof ground coffees, my new favorite is Four Sigmatic. which combines high quality ground coffee with immune-boosting and balancing medicinal mushrooms. The taste is amazing! While the higher quality is definitely more expensive, a bag usually lasts me about a month. (I use one small scoop for each latte that I make as I don’t prefer my coffee to be super strong.)

Here are the ingredients for one of my favorite french press lattes:

  1. Add a half cup of oat milk or oat milk vanilla flavored milk to a coffee cup. (I usually use the Oatly brand which I always have in my fridge; however, but feel free to use any brand or type of milk preferred.)
  2. Add a half teaspoon of organic maple syrup to the oat milk or preferred milk in the cup. (I use Whole Foods 365 brand, which lasts me about 2 months.)
  3. Add a scoop of collagen powder vanilla or chocolate to the coffee cup. (I use whatever is on sale, typically Ancient Nutrition, Bulletproof, Vital Proteins, Great Lakes, etc.)
  4. Mix the ingredients together with a spoon.
  5. Pour in the hot french press coffee, stir and enjoy!

These days, I now treat myself to a drive thru coffee maybe once a week. By making my own coffee most of the time and using the add-in ingredients that I already have at home, I am poised to save about $1,000 per year.

Click here for some other cool coffee-based ideas

Learning to get organized!

Before the pandemic hit in March, I was almost never home. Because of a demanding job in New York City, 80 minutes of commuting time each day, regular workouts at the gym and a seemingly continuous stream of concerts, dinners and other social engagements, I spent most of my waking hours practically everywhere else but my apartment. That all changed in March.

Like many of us, I have spent sooo much time at home over the past seven months… as evidenced by my lengthy Netflix watch history, countless stream of Instacart & delivery orders and hefty utility bills. With so many hours confined to my tiny apartment, I’ve had more time to focus in on areas in my 800 square foot apartment that could be better organized and less cluttered.

I guess you can say that I’ve begun to “nest” in a sense and have developed a strong desire to organize pretty much everything in my space. And I’ve seemed to have acquired even more stuff during the pandemic. Because it was so difficult to buy even basic staples at times during the pandemic, I’ve stocked up on a lot of items and made bulk purchases through Amazon, Staples, and any website that had items available. So, there is also constant flow of items coming into my home – also needing to be organized. While my apartment is far from messy, I always feel like I am at my most at ease and productive when everything is organized. So, I’ve decided to make this a focus for the next few months.

Where I’ve Started

Last year, I read Marie Kondo’s bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluterring and Organizing. It was definitely an eye-opening read. I’m currently re-reading certain sections that are aligned with my organizing style – as not everything in the book works for me. Kondo is a proponent of simplifying our spaces and organizing by category. I am starting the slow process of purging items that are no longer needed or meaningful – which is key to the Kondo organization approach. This is definitely a good book to get the organization process started.

I’ve also paused my regular binge watching of The Office (which I’ve watched for the gizillionth time), to start watching Get Organized with The Home Edit, a new top-watched Netflix show. I’ve gotten some great tips from the show, and it doesn’t hurt that it gives you a front row to viewing celebrity homes and closets. It’s also inspired me to order a few items already for my organization projects, including:

A two-tier organizer for off-season clothing for my closet

A shoe organizer

A hanging closet organizer

Yes, I’m starting with my closet. I can’t wait to share before and after photos when the project is complete. Happy Organizing!

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