Holiday Gift Guide #3: Lifestyle Edition!

Hey everyone!

First off — happy December you guys!!! We’ve finally made it to the final month of the year and I, for one, could not be more excited. 2020, in all honesty, has been a particularly brutal year for me and no matter what 2021 holds, I’ll be excited to put this year behind me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s feeling a little relieved that it’s finally the last month of the year, am I right?

Anyways, I’m back with another Gift Guide this week — and this time it’s all about Lifestyle! This week’s collection of gifts are loosely themed together by the fact that they’re all cool little things that really help add to and improve the lifestyle of whomever you’re gifting for — so while the theme is less defined this week, there’s really something in this list for anyone.

As always, since shopping in person isn’t really an option this year, I’ve chosen items that can all be purchased online! While it does kind of suck to miss out on holiday shopping this year, it isn’t really a necessity to get into the holiday spirit. Even if you’re in an area that still allows in person shopping, the responsible (and easier!) thing to do is crack open your laptop, lay on the couch and send in some online orders — so let me make that even easier for you by recommending some of my favourite things that would make great gifts for just about anyone on your list!

Ouai Super Dry Shampoo

Maybe this is just me, but as someone with very fine hair who lives in a super humid climate, my hair starts feeling greasy faster than I can keep up with washing it. Even in lockdowns, when no one sees me for days on end, this dry shampoo has been a bit of a lifesaver. It’s hands down the best dry shampoo I’ve ever used — and yes, I’ve become pretty acquainted with dry shampoos over the years. (What can I say? Sometimes half an hour of extra sleep is more valuable than freshly-showered hair). Unlike so many dry shampoos, it actually works to make your hair feel cleaner and doesn’t leave a residue behind or leave your hair looking powdery. My hair always both looks AND feels cleaner after using this stuff — making it an extra-useful gift for any busy bees in your life.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Sephora!

Mini Stone Pack

This is a cute and simple gift for your friend who’s super into horoscopes, decorating, collecting, or all of the above. These stone packs from Amazon come conveniently packaged in little packs or individually, with a little information on each type of crystal included such as what it manifests in your life. Whether you believe in the power of crystals or not — they make a great decoration or addition to any gift!

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Indigo in Amethyst and Rose Quartz!

Herbivore Coconut Milk Body Polish

Okay, so if you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know all about my love of Herbivore Botanicals body scrubs. When I saw they released a coconut version earlier this year, I knew I had to give it a try. This version of their body scrub comes a little cheaper than the Crushed Amethyst body scrub, but they’re both so worth it. The amethyst scrub does seem to be a little more of a deep exfoliation, but this one is also effective, soft, and smells soooooo good. 10/10, would LOVE to receive this as a gift.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Sephora!

Dry Bar Prep Rally Detangler

This is such a universally loved, universally good-for-all hair type heat protectant. I guarantee that no matter who you buy this for, it’ll work for their hair. This next-level two-in-one detangler and heat protectant has kept my hair looking and feeling so great ever since I first received it in a FabFitFun box last winter — it really is SUCH an effective protector against blowdrying and styling heat damage. It doesn’t leave behind a residue either, making it a great gift for literally anyone on your list.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Sephora!

FOXYBAE Hair Curler

On the topic of hair styling, this hair curler I received in my latest FabFitFun box is AMAZING. It heats up well, is nice and easy to use, doesn’t seem to damage my hair and makes perfect curls. I really don’t know much about hair styling — I had short hair for most of my life — but I can tell you, this curler is by FAR the best I’ve ever owned. It makes curling your hair SO effortless and my hair has honestly looked better using this curler than it ever has in my entire lifetime of curling my hair. Basically, it’s super worth it.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at FOXYBAE!

AMIKA Hair Straightener

On a final hairstyling note, this AMIKA hair straightener (which, surprise surprise, I also recieved in a FabFitFun box) has been an absolute godsend in my life. It’s so high quality and straightens hair so effectively without damaging your hair. This was the first “fancy” hair straightener I’ve ever owned (ie. not purchased at the drugstore) and I was blown away at the difference it made — not just in terms of damage, but how fast and effectively it worked and how much better my hair looked when it was done. This straightener is a blessing.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at AMIKA!

Skincare Hairbands

This was something I purchased for myself recently on a bit of a whim, not really expecting much of it. I had seen other skincare fans using them all over social media, but I couldn’t really tell if they were going to help or simply hinder me while I washed my face and make the whole task more challenging. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to realize that these little hairbands make washing your face 200% easier. They keep all your baby hairs out of the way, and don’t get in the way themselves. I was kind of worried they would just end up getting wet and gross while I used them, but they don’t at all. They really act to solve something that you’d never realize was a large grievance until you see what life is like on the other side. Trust me.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Amazon!

Twine Cheese Board with Plate

If you have someone in your life who loves hosting wine nights or considers themselves a charcuterie enthusiast, then this is the perfect gift for them. This little board is so tiny and cute, it makes the perfect board for those with tiny kitchens or an addition to the collection of a charcuterie lover’s collection to add to a full spread. (Or, frankly, it also works well for making yourself feel a little fancier while eating cheese and crackers home alone). It’s cute, simple, small, easy to clean, and a great gift overall. I’ve been totally obsessed ever since I received this in a FabFitFun box (yes, again), and I’ve always thought it would make a great gift for anyone who loves dinner parties, or just cheese.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Amazon!

DAVID’s TEA Loose Leaf Teas

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a tea fanatic. David’s Tea, in my opinion, is THE best tea out there. I seriously drink at least 2-4 cups a day (and sometimes more). The options they offer are seriously endless, meaning that there’s absolutely a tea out there for everyone on your list. From traditional teas, to classic favourites, to crazy new flavours you couldn’t find elsewhere, David’s Tea has it all. It can be a little tricky to know where to start with all the options, but my favourites are Cream of Earl Grey, Genmaicha, Forever Nuts, Bai Hao Yin Zhen, and Butterfly Jasmine.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at DAVID’s Tea!

Lululemon Yoga Mat

With COVID likely still hanging around for the next few months, there’s really no better gift you could give than a high-quality yoga mat. Perfect for not just at home yoga sessions, these mats help make a wide variety of home workouts possible. Since yoga mats are something you only need one of and don’t often replace, it’s nice to be able to splurge on one for someone on your list — and after that, they’ll be all set to get on top of staying fit in 2021. Whether it’s for at-home use, or for yoga classes in the (hopefully not so distant) future, this mat is high quality and comes with a warranty, making sure it’ll be useful for years to come.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Lululemon!

Lululemon Massage Roller

This is another thing that’s been a real lifesaver for me in COVID. It’s hard with all the stress this year has toot feel the impacts on your body — overtime, it really wears you down. However, going for a quick massage isn’t really an option in 2020. Instead, I’ve been using this yoga roller to work out all the knots in my body where I’ve been holding all my stress. It really makes a huge difference in your overall wellbeing to be able to massage out all the kinks every so often. It’s kind of self-care, but also in 2020, very necessary.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Lululemon!

Silked Satin Pillowcase

Finally, we have the Silked satin pillowcase (which, yes, I also received in a FabFitFun box. I know this whole post probably just seems like one giant advertisement for FabFitFun, but I swear it’s not! They really just gift the best stuff). Satin pillowcases are fantastic for soooo many reasons — they don’t tug on your skin or mess with your hair, making them gentler and less damaging on both (plus they’re just cute as well). For those on your list who worry about hair damage, skincare or wrinkles, these pillowcases are extra soft on your skin and hair overnight — making them the perfect gift. The first time I ever used one, the difference I felt in my hair the next morning was like night and day — I could never go back to using regular pillow cases ever again.

Sound like the perfect gift? Check out this product online at Silked!

I hope you guys are all having a great week! Hopefully at this point you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll be gifting everyone on your list this year, but if not — stay tuned for my final gift guide next week! I’ll be sharing my favourite makeup items that will make universally great gifts for any makeup lovers in your life — regardless of skin tone and staples they already own.

So, again, happy December! Are you guys all still setting goals for yourself this month? Personally, I’m taking a bit of a break and riding out the last month of 2020 as easily as I can, but if you guys have some goals you’ve set for yourself I’d love to hear them! Drop a comment below and let me know what you’re hoping to manifest before the end of the year!

Stay safe and much love,

Meredith

How To: Have a Productive Self-Care Day!

Hey y’all!

As usual, I hope everyone’s been feeling their best and being productive lately, but if not — then this is the post for you! Even though things have been returning to semi-normal lately with COVID-19 (at least, they are here in Vancouver), I’ve personally been finding myself feeling stuck and super unmotivated. This whole year has been strange, and while I did kind of appreciate having the months of free time to relax after the crazy year I’ve had, suddenly, tasks have been piling up and I’ve been feeling stressed all over again. And frankly, I know I’m not alone in feeling like this.

As weird as it was transitioning to lockdowns, it’s been even weirder transitioning back. At this point, sitting around the house feels normal, and going out and being busy feels weird. However, not transitioning back quickly makes me feel as though I’m falling behind — even though there’s only so much I can do right now, if I don’t spend all my time getting things done, it feels as though I’m failing somehow.

If you’ve been feeling the same, its okay — it’s hard to accept, but with how weird the world is right now it’s okay to be feeling lost or unmotivated (which is something I’m trying to be okay with myself). However, you do have to do your best to push through it and get back on track. It’s hard to find balance between not being too hard on yourself and not letting your life fall apart, but I think I’ve found a little solution I’d like to share with you all that helped me feel a little better.

I’ve posted many, many times before about the importance of self-care, but I’m also aware of how challenging it can feel to put time aside when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, when your anxiety is getting the better of you, it can feel downright impossible to take any time off for yourself at all — but it really is vital to your health and well-being. However, I’ve made a plan for those of you who aren’t feeling up to taking a full break — and you get to take a whole day off for self-care while still getting stuff done!

If this sounds like the kind of think you’ve been needing, then plan out a day this weekend (or whenever you have a day off) to dedicate the whole day to this productive self-care plan — and try not to schedule anything else and overwhelm yourself. Of course, you can totally alter the plan to fit your needs best, but don’t push yourself — the whole point is to take it a little easy!

Step One: Sleep In A Little!

First things first — it’s important to get some rest. Whenever it is that you usually wake up, try setting your alarm half an hour to an hour later. You want to ensure you wake up feeling well rested, so you don’t want to forgo the alarm completely — I personally always feel like when I just let myself wake up naturally I always feel groggy and out of it the rest of the day. How you decide to do this is really up to you, but I generally just like to set my alarm about an hour later than I would get up usually — so I get to sleep in without getting carried away.

Step Two: Make a Healthy, Special Breakfast

My favourite way to start out my days off is by making a nice breakfast from scratch. I try to go for something healthy, but tasty — not something I’m just eating for the sake of eating healthy. My normal everyday breakfast, while still delicious (I eat yoghurt, fruit, almonds and granola literally every day), can become a little boring if I don’t switch it up every so often. On special days, I like to go for avo toast with poached eggs and veggies, but this one is really up to you! Take time to treat yourself and make your fave breakfast from scratch.

Step Three: Yoga/Stretch/Meditate

Okay, so this is something I do everyday — but if you don’t, give it a try. If you’re not down for a whole yoga session, just take some time to stretch out a little and try to tune in with your body. As for at-home yoga practices, Yoga With Adriene is always my go-to! From there, I’d recommend following up with a guided meditation — which can be anywhere from a few short minutes to much longer, depending on how you’re feeling and how familiar you are with meditating. I usually go for about 15-20 minutes personally, but depending on whatever you’re down for you can find any number of guided meditations through apps or (my personal go-to) on YouTube!

Step Four: Clean and Organize!

Next up, you’re going to want to dedicate some time towards deep cleaning and/or organizing. The key to having this still be self-care is not pushing yourself to complete it all in one day, but rather to simply get a little bit done so you can feel a little better about your space by the end of the day. Depending on what the state of your space is, I’d recommend getting little handiwork tasks done, Marie-Kondoing all the things that no longer serve you out of your life, or just a good old-fashioned deep clean. Don’t rush it, and try to make it as enjoyable as possible! Put on some music, either a pump-up playlist if you need an energy boost or some meditation music if you need to relax, and do whatever it is that’ll make you feel a little more at ease in your home.

Step Five: Work on Your Hobbies/Passion Projects

After you’ve finished up with cleaning, take some time to either dedicate towards your hobbies or passion projects. For instance, this is the time that I’d personally dedicate towards my blog, so I can get ahead on my posts. However, if you don’t really have a passion project or anything to catch up on, spend a little time on your hobbies! Another thing I would consider dedicating this time to is sketching. Just make sure its something enjoyable, relaxing, and involves active participation!

Step Six: Take Out Dinner

Treat yourself and order some Take Out or Delivery — why not? Take a night off from making dinner and just go for whatever your heart desires. And I’m not just talking ordering whatever it is you always get when you don’t have the time or energy to cook — get something you’ve really been craving and go all out!

Step Seven: Netflix & Chill

These next two steps are really sort of interchangeable, depending on what you enjoy and what you’re feeling by the end of the day. However, after a day full of relaxing-yet-productive activities, it’s also good to take some time to unwind completely. If you’re into it, take a few hours to binge some Netflix — either put on that movie you’ve been meaning to watch forever, or catch up on that TV show you’ve been watching — whatever you’re feeling!

Step Eight: Regular Self-Care

Finally, either during, after, or in lieu of Netflix, take some time to do some good old-fashioned self-care. This step is really the most up to you — maybe you want to light a candle and do a face mask, maybe you want to participate in a nighttime meditation, maybe you’re really in the mood for a long warm bath, or maybe you’re down for something else entirely. Your choice! Just take a little time to pamper yourself and try to let go of any residual stress you’re still holding on to before the day is up.

Hopefully, after taking this day off to yourself, you’ll be rested, relaxed, and ready to take on all the tasks you’ve been needing to complete. Personally, since doing this for myself I’ve been feeling a little more motivated — it’s weird, but I feel like the stress of this year (even though we’ve all been stuck at home) has left me burnt out, and it helps to take time off intentionally to get back on track.

Happy Sunday, everyone, and hopefully you’ve all got a nice, manageable week ahead! It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in Vancouver, which is both a blessing and a curse — summer is my favourite season, but also I don’t have air conditioning in my apartment (so you can see my dilemma here). Anyways, I hope you’re all doing your best to make the most of this summer, regardless of the circumstances! Get a little fresh air and sunshine, since we’ll all be back to fall before we know it.

Much love,

Meredith

My Stay-At-Home Lifestyle & How I’m Keeping My Life On Track!

Hey y’all!

Super long title, I know. But at this point in time, after a very turbulent start to Social Distancing, I’m FINALLY beginning to feel like I’ve got a good routine going that’s both maintainable and relaxing. I feel like I’m not alone when I say it’s been difficult to not let my life and mental health completely fall apart over the last few months — on one hand, as I’ve been laid off, I don’t exactly have a lot of responsibilities right now outside of blogging, cooking, and cleaning. On the other hand, if I let myself lie around all day, waking up and going to bed whenever I feel like it and just watching Netflix all day, it’ll be a short path to falling into a severe depressive episode and becoming, likely, entirely nocturnal.

Obviously, that’s really not ideal. But I’ve also just come off of the most stressful year of my life — I really need a break. It’s hard to find the balance — trust me, it took me up until now to feel like I was really starting to get the handle of things — but it’s starting to feel like it is possible. If you’ve still been having trouble working out how to keep your life in order lately, or have been feeling as though your mental health is declining, hopefully my little schedule here works for you. You don’t need to copy it out point for point, obviously, but maybe you’ll be able to take inspiration to apply to your own life, or make your own schedule, that helps you keep it together in the face of sitting at home with absolutely nothing to do.

For those of you who have been keeping up with my posts lately, you’ll already know that I worked at a bar pre-COVID-19, which obviously closed to the public once stay at home orders were enacted. As a FOH employee, I was laid off. This ended up being a small blessing as it gave me time and extra energy to focus on my final exams, however, once those finished up the first few days of excitement and freedom gave way to the realization that I really had nothing to do.

For the last year I’ve been so busy that I’ve been putting off loads of tasks for when I had more time — but now I have too much time, and browsing online stores for furniture to complete my apartment and completing a couple of fixes around my home surprisingly aren’t the most time-consuming tasks all of a sudden. As such, I’ve been really trying to focus my energy on this blog, my hobbies and my chores, while still allowing plenty of time to kick back and relax. While my life would quite literally fall apart if I spent all this time doing nothing, spending every waking moment doing SOMETHING isn’t the most sustainable — and it’s entirely unnecessary. I don’t know about you guys, but I really needed this break. So I’m going to take this time to enjoy it — while I need discipline, I also need to not be too hard on myself right now.

The following is my daily schedule that I’ve been following pretty strictly since the last week of April. As someone who’s always tried to keep SOME semblance of a schedule in life, I don’t think I really realized what it was like to follow a schedule so strictly — it’s the sort of thing I honestly haven’t done since high school. While it certainly took some getting used to, so far, it’s really helped me feel as normal and productive as possible lately.

8:30am: Wake Up. This is a lot earlier than I’ve woken up at regularly for years — but it’s actually pretty enjoyable. Mornings are so lovely when you’re actually up to see them, and getting up “early” makes you feel like you have a good start on the day. Overall, I feel a lot more positive when I wake up around 8:30-9:00 am lately than letting myself sleep in everyday until 10:00-11:00 (which was when I used to wake up). Even if you’re awake for the same amount of hours, you feel like you have more time when you wake up early, you feel more refreshed, and it’s been putting me in a more positive mindset to get stuff done.

8:45am: Morning Skincare. I let myself have a little time to get out of bed and face the day, and then I go about my morning skincare routine, as well as brushing my teeth and hair before I go eat breakfast. As well, before I go eat, I’m sure change out of my PJs and into some workout gear.

9:00am: Breakfast. I don’t usually meal prep breakfast foods, so it takes me a couple minutes to throw something together. However, I find the sooner I eat after I wake up, the sooner I begin to feel alert and awake.

9:30am: Yoga. This has become my favourite part of the day. Before I actually began scheduling my life, I used running as my main form of stay-at-home workouts. However, I found running to be a little daunting and since I didn’t have any solid schedule, it was pretty easy to just push working out back endlessly. However, the lack of movement in my lifestyle was kinda starting to take its toll — I really felt crappy (emotionally and physically). When I made this schedule, I decided to incorporate Adriene Mischler’s 30 Days of Yoga to my daily routine. I’ve been loving this as it’s great for beginners, is easy enough to complete every day, doesn’t require a lot of at-home materials and is something I actually look forward to. While yoga is a work out, it’s also a great way to stretch, move your body and relax too — making it seem like less of a stressful workout than running.

10:00am: Shower. Pretty self-explanatory. Depending if I have to wash my hair or not, I take whatever free time I have after this to get started on whatever activities I have planned at 1pm — or just relax a little.

12:00pm: Lunch. Also pretty self explanatory, but I figured I’d add how I try to give lunch it’s own separate space — as in, I don’t multitask while I have lunch. I just sit down and enjoy it, and then move on to the activities I want to fill my day with!

1:00pm: Activities. This can kind of be anything, but I try to settle on what I want to do the night before. Whether it’s blogging, grocery shopping, cleaning, getting my May tasks complete, doing my makeup, creating art, playing Animal Crossing — I often plan out which activities the next day will hold during my bedtime routine, and write them out so I don’t forget. I generally try to pick around 2 activities for each day, depending on what I want to do and what I need to get done.

6:00pm: Meal Prep. This only happens every four days, but an hour before dinner I plan, prep and make dinner for that night and the three nights following. I enjoy cooking, but it can be a huge task to undertake — so if I meal prep and already have a home cooked meal ready, it’ll deter me from ordering in some unhealthy or expensive take-out on a whim.

7:00pm: Dinner. Also pretty self explanatory — and once again, like lunch, I give dinner it’s own space.

8:00pm: Netflix & Chill. This one is kind of important — I set a nightly space for Netflix and relaxing. The important part being — I don’t watch TV shows or movies before 8pm. I’ve been sticking with this since before I even made this schedule, and I’ve found it to be incredibly helpful for productivity. Giving myself time to watch Netflix and chill out each night helps me balance out being active in the daytime without overworking myself. It gives me something to look forward to at the end of each day, but also keeps me from lying in bed all day binge-watching shows I don’t even care about — which makes me feel lazy and can cause me to ignore my needs, sending my mental health spiralling. As well, I’m really not a productive person at night, and I hate how crunching in activities before bed makes me feel. As such, this time is for Netflix and relaxing ONLY — and this is what helps to keep my days balanced.

11:00pm: Bedtime routine. Before I go to sleep each night, I make some tea, get ready for bed, do my skincare routine (plus any face masks I’m in the mood for), and then go over my bullet journal. I mark down my mood and all the habits I completed, and read through to get inspiration for what I should do tomorrow/what I want to get done by the end of the month. After this, I turn on a relaxing YouTube video or Audiobook, and lay down for a little bit before bed.

12:00am: Lights out. It’s bedtime!

So that’s my daily schedule! I don’t switch it up ever, not even for weekends. As weekend-days have no real meaning to me anymore so allowing myself to “stay up late” or “sleep in” would just throw off my whole schedule. However, I kind of give myself up to half-hour buffering period with the times on this schedule as it’s very hard to keep everything perfect down to the minute. As well, it wouldn’t really give me freedom to enjoy my day and the ability to complete tasks if I’m rushing to move onto the next thing. As well, there’s no rush right now — and no point in stressing myself out! The point of this schedule is to keep me on track and at peace — not cause anxiety or pressure.

Have you guys been keeping up a routine in quarantine? (I’ve been trying to avoid the work quarantine in my posts due to the negative connotation, but I just couldn’t resist the urge to rhyme — sorry!). If so, I’d love to hear about what’s been working best for you, or how your schedules differ from mine. Maybe a more elaborate schedule helps, or maybe breaking things down by week and month makes more sense to you. If you’ve been feeling like you’re floundering lately and need something to bring a little balance into your stay-at-home life, hopefully this break down of my routine left you feeling inspired! I can’t even begin to tell you guys how much having it, whether I stick to it perfectly every day or not, has helped me and my mental well-being during the last little while.

Hope you’re all staying safe out there, and have a great week!

Much love,

Meredith