simple gratitudes

I have been trying to incorporate daily reflections of gratitude into my life for a while now and I have yet to find a natural comfortable way for me to do so. Since starting Kate Uncooked, I've started familiarizing myself with a camera other than my iPhone and it's definitely helped me see the beauty in the little things. Especially through all the hectic wedding to-dos and checklists, my mid work week day off has been such a simple blessing to unwind. Below are a few of the simple gratitudes I've been so thankful for this past week.

1. homemade iced coffee; accompanying us on all our long Sunday afternoon drives

1. homemade iced coffee; accompanying us on all our long Sunday afternoon drives

2. this snapshot we found while decluttering

2. this snapshot we found while decluttering

3. these creeping jenny clippings that broke off during an impromptu thunderstorm

3. these creeping jenny clippings that broke off during an impromptu thunderstorm

4. linen napkins, for making every meal seem fancier.

4. linen napkins, for making every meal seem fancier.

minimalism: summer skin care

I never wash my face. At least I never used to. I was a serial non-washer, almost always falling asleep on the couch in the glow of the television, waking up in a foggy haze of dried out contacts and crankily stumbling my way to bed. This went on for much longer than I'd like to admit and so I made it one of my summer goals to stick to a skincare routine, and minimizing has helped me even make a nightly ritual out of washing my face.

I've always been a hoarder of skin care products and makeup. I'm a sucker for branding, hooked by the clean minimal packaging of luxury skin care. When I finally dedicated energy to minimizing I depleted my stash immensely, keeping only the products I use every day and a couple items for those fancier days. Now, my routine is nowhere close to zero waste. I'm currently working on using each item until they're finished, when I will start trying my hand at making my own.

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This coffee scrub (above) is one of the first products I've made and I will never go back. It's simply coffee grounds, fresh or used, and coconut oil. I use this every single morning on my face and on my body as I feel needed. I highly recommend using this in the shower versus over the sink since it can be messy, but it smells like you're showering in a fresh pot of coffee so who cares.

Each night, I remove all my make up with organic argan oil. It's full of vitamin E and fatty acids meaning your skin will reap a ton of anti-aging benefits. I've found that using the oil to remove my make up or any daily residue gives me all the benefits without any excess oils since I next wash my face using black soap. I kept reading about this soap and had it recommended to me by a few friends since it's perfect for problem skin, like mine. JJ actually likes it too, probably because a giant black bar of soap in the shower is the manliest item in there.

I follow up with a toner, which is a new addition for me but it is by far my favorite step in my skincare routine. I'm currently using Thayer's Witch Hazel Toner in lavender, but I've been looking up different make your own toners, which are insanely simple, so I'll be trying those out as soon as I'm done with this product. My last steps are finishing up with this Glossier priming moisturizer, which I really enjoy but I'm currently searching for either a good DIY moisturizer or something more natural and in more sustainable packaging.

Last but not least, the inevitable Clinique addition to every skin care routine. I get these nice little lines and bags under my eyes which this helps take care of plus it will probably last me the rest of my life since you need less than a fingertip each night. 

I can honestly say downsizing my products and sticking to a nightly routine has not only made washing my face do-able but rather enjoyable. My mornings have been made easier too since I don't feel like I need to wear as much makeup or any makeup at all. Or maybe I'm just getting to the point where I don't give a shit. Either way, it feels good.

I'd love to hear what your favorite products are and any natural zero waste recommendations you make have for me. Tips and suggestions are always welcome!

birthdays: 27

Birthdays, like your own little personal New Years. A time to reflect and to set goals for the next year of your life. To strive to finally become the person you feel like you should be at this age.

For me, this year in particular holds true to that notion. I finally feel like my age is catching up to my spirit. Yet, my life isn't quite where I thought it would be by now. I always thought I'd be married with young children by the age of 22 and reality is simply just not that. When you're young, your twenties seem a million years away. You think you have plenty of time, you think you'll have your life figured out by the time you're thirty. Eventually you come to the realization that you'll never have life figured out.I'm excited for what life is offering me right now; our wedding in less than two months, the possibility of buying our own home, starting our own family. But when I really sit back and reflect on the possibilities of what could be coming up it makes me pine for them, so so badly. But things take time and that has been a huge learning experience for me this past year and in this next year to come.

I'm learning to take this next year with a grain of salt. Life isn't always about what you want. It's about what you have. Right now. The things you want will come. We need to remind ourselves that things take time and not to rush the good stuff. My dream home with the picture window above the kitchen sink over looking the open acreage of the back yard, and the front porch with it's rocking benches, it'll come. And if it doesn't you can bet your ass I will ask JJ to build it. God will bless us with children when we're ready and if they're anything like I was as a child I'm sure we'll have wished we waited longer.

For now, we'll enjoy the crazy ride of being twenty-something.

simple swaps: straws

Starting on my path towards zero waste has made me realize every little item we throw away every single day. It's a lot to take in when you're trying to reduce your waste. The solution to avoid becoming overwhelmed? Start small. There are a multitude of simple swaps you can make to start your zero waste journey. To start, let's talk straws. 

The dreaded straw. A single use plastic item created entirely for convenience. The National Park Service estimated that the United States throws away 500,000,000 straws every single day. That's 175 billion straws making their way into our landfills and oceans every year.

A study in 2012 showed that 32 million tons of plastic are discarded of in a single year, with a majority of that ending up in our oceans. It's said that the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic debris, for every foot of coastline, ends up in the oceans annually and in 2014, straws were the fifth most common item found in that debris.

It's estimated that 12,000 - 24,000 tons of plastic end up in the digestive systems of fish every year. The consumption of plastic is then transferred into the animals that consume those fish; whales, dolphins, seals, and even humans. Roughly 1 million seabirds alone are killed by plastic consumption every year. And remember the video of the sea turtle getting the straw pulled out of it's nostril? It speaks for itself.

So what's the solution?

Refuse.
It's the new normal for restaurants to give you a straw. Hell, a lot of the times, mixed drinks come with two of those teeny little black straws! When you order a drink at a local restaurant or bar, politely request no straw.

Bring your own.
There are a multitude of plastic free straws you can purchase, ranging from bamboo, glass, and stainless steel. Most shops even provide brushes to clean them properly as well as a little carrying case, which is perfect for keeping your straw in your bag. My fiancé is a lover of the straw and I used to even carry them in my purse for him for when a restaurant didn't provide them! Now, I carry around a stainless steel one for him only.

Educate and Encourage.
Educate others by starting the conversation. Start by reaching out to your local restaurants and encourage them to only serve straws upon request. Make them aware of the alternatives available to them to encourage them to make the switch to paper, bamboo, or stainless steel.

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Shop Alternatives:

Healthy Human - their stainless steel tumblers (which are great) come with their own reusable straws!
Brush with Bamboo 
Simply Straws 
Glass Dharma 
Life Without Plastic

minimalism: summer capsule wardrobe

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I knew my first project towards minimalism would be my closet. My closet got to a point where I couldn't move the clothes on the rack and I had to dig through a giant pile of shoes on the floor to find a pair that matched. While I periodically did mini closet clean outs, I would always find excuses to keep certain items. This time around, I knew I wanted to really dedicate to the idea of minimalism and only keep the items I truly needed, loved, and wore. I never intended to create a capsule wardrobe, it kind of just evolved as I continued to get rid of things but I can honestly say getting dressed has never been more stress free. 

So, how did I do it? First, I started sorting my clothing into designated piles: donate, keep, sell, maybe, and winter. (Truly scientific, I know.) As soon as I knew I wanted to donate an item I put it directly into a bag, this way I wouldn't second guess myself when I had to go back and eventually bag it. Out of site out of mind. As for the winter items, I sorted them into 2 bins. This included scarves, hats, gloves, etc. These bins, along with the few winter jackets I kept, went into a portable closet in the garage and will be re-evaluated in the fall. Once everything else was sorted out, I went through each pile again (except the donate pile). First, the keep pile. I sorted out the keep pile by item: skirts, jeans, work pants, t-shirts and tanks, blouses, dresses, and sportswear. This helped me realize, okay, I don't need 16 dresses, which ones can I get rid of? Do I really need 8 different sport bras? Probably not. This is a good time to try certain pieces on if you're unsure about getting rid of them or not. I noticed when I tried an item on I realized, okay, that's why I don't wear this. The keep pile significantly decreased after this process. Next, the maybe pile. These were the items I knew I probably could get rid of but was hesitant to automatically donate. Once I took a second look at the items I was keeping, I realized I didn't need most of the maybe pile, I already had more than enough. Ultimately, all but one item made it into the donate bag.

So what did I keep? 

7 tank tops & sleeveless blouses
4 t-shirts
4 button up blouses
11 dresses - ranging from work, dressy, maxi, and casual
5 sweaters
5 jeans
4 shorts
3 swimsuits
3 jackets - silk blazer, jean jacket, rain jacket
11 activewear - 5 sports bras, 3 shorts, 3 leggings
6 sleepwear - 4 shorts, 2 tops

Total Items - 63

Ok, so I have some more minimizing to do here but this concluded in over 6 bags of stuff that I was not using in being donated! Every item now hanging in my closet is now completely visible, and can be worn both to work or casually. This process also helped me realize I tend to gravitate towards minimal items and certain colors. Black, white, tan, gray, navy, olive green, and red are my go-tos and I have very few items with logos or designs on them.

The last step I'm taking in decluttering my wardrobe is the backward hanger trick. When I put all the items I was keeping back into the closet, I put each hanger in backwards. Once I wear an item I put it back in the closet with the hanger facing the correct way. When I go through my closet again in the fall, I'll see what items I've worn and know which items I'll be able to get rid of.

To be honest, going into this process, I was worried I would be stressed, thinking I had nothing to wear. But I truly feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I realize, even when I had 6 more bags worth of stuff, I still only wear the items currently hanging in my closet. No longer is the process of getting dresses daunting, or stressful. Putting laundry away has actually become an enjoyable process. I no longer waste time browsing sales online trying to find an item I saw someone wearing on Instagram but I realize, it doesn't matter. I have everything I need.

I'd love to hear how you minimized your wardrobe and created your perfect capsule wardrobe. Please share any tips you think I could use going forward with my winter capsule!