Basil Cashew Cream Spread

Basil Cashew Cream Spread

My basil cashew cream spread is quick and simple to make and perfect for collard wraps, zucchini noodles, raw lasagna, or as a dip for veggies and crackers. I hope you enjoy the creamy texture and fresh basil flavor.

Ingredients
1 cup raw cashews
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 handful fresh basil
1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
pepper to taste
water

Directions

1. Place cashews in a bowl and cover with filtered water. Let them soak in the fridge for 5 hours.

2. Next, drain and rinse cashews

3. In a high speed blender or food processor, put in the cashews, 1/4 cup water, and remaining ingredients.

4. Blend well until a creamy texture is achieved. You may need to add more water to achieve the desired consistency you are looking for.

This is a versatile recipe; you can make the spread thick or thin it out with more water for noodle dishes. I made collard wraps, using beautiful collard leaves that were growing in my garden.

Thanks for reading!

Be the light,
Mary

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Homemade Maple Coconut Bacon

Homemade Maple Coconut Bacon

No piggies were harmed in the making of this bacon. Holy wow! I’m so proud of myself for this one (but honestly, it’s quite simple to make). I really got a solid coconut bacon recipe down. It took only 20 min total including prep and bake time. It’s low-effort and ummm… tastes better than bacon made from a pig, in my honest opinion. REALLY good! You don’t have to miss bacon at all when you have this delicious treat! Salty, savory, sweet, and crunchy – plus it’s a healthy fat made with organic shaved coconut (a real, whole food, my friends).

You can eat this by itself for a treat, in a breakfast scramble, in an avocado sandwich, in wraps, on top of salads – you get the idea.

Ingredients:
2 cups of organic shaved coconut (Note: not shredded; and the only ingredient should be coconut)
1.5 tbsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp maple syrup
Option 1: 1 tbsp (or to taste) tamari or liquid aminos – this option will taste saltier and more like bacon
Option 2: sea salt generously sprinkled (or to taste) – this option is less salty and more mild in flavor

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Place nonstick baking paper on a cookie sheet.

3. Spread out shaved coconut evenly across the pan.

4. Coat with all of the remaining ingredients. Mix with your hands until everything is coated well and spread out on the pan evenly.

5. Bake for 12 min for soft bacon or 14-15 minutes for crisp, well-done bacon. Please keep an eye on it from the 10-minute mark on, as oven settings will vary.

6. Remove from the oven and let it cool. Use it that day or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for the week. This also keeps well in the freezer, so you can batch cook this in advance for the month so that you always have some on hand.

Enjoy!

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Homemade Raw Tahini

Homemade Raw Tahini

Homemade raw tahini is a winner! Making your own is such a money saver compared to buying a jar at the store (and in my opinion, it tastes better). You can use this as a spread in wraps, as a base for dressings and dips, or simply treat yourself to a spoonful for healthy, whole fats. It’s so good! 🌻

Sesame seeds are magical – they are an excellent source of manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and fiber. 🌻

They help with bone health, colon health, support vascular and respiratory health, and are cholesterol lowering. 🌻

Recipe:
🌾2 cups raw sesame seeds
🌾water
🌾juice of 1/2 a lemon
🌾touch of seal salt (opt.)

Directions:
Blend up in a Vitamix or food processor, adding water gradually 1/4 cup at a time until you reach your desired consistency. Enjoy!

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Homemade Tofu Scramble

Homemade Tofu Scramble

This is a basic tofu scramble recipe that will knock your socks off. It looks similar to scrambled eggs, and tastes super yummy too! To add bulk to this recipe, you can add vegetables of your choice. Otherwise, you can serve this as is on toast or in a breakfast burrito, or as a side dish with oatmeal and fruit (or just by itself; it’s that good). This recipe is also omnivore-approved!
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Ingredients
1 12-oz package of drained and pressed organic firm or extra firm tofu (I used sprouted tofu.)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
sea salt and pepper to taste
optional – coconut oil (to coat pan and/or to add in for extra flavor)

Directions
1. Drain the tofu and firmly press it between two cloths or paper towels until the excess water is as eliminated as possible.

2. In a medium skillet, use natural propellant-free coconut oil spray or 1 tsp of organic coconut oil and turn the heat up to medium. Note: before purchasing a spray, the only ingredients should be coconut oil and an emulsifier like sunflower. Try to avoid ingredients such as propellants, natural flavors, and soy oil.

3. Add in your tofu with your hands, crumbling it into small pieces as you add it to the pan.

4. Add in all of your spices and seasonings and mix thoroughly. Note: you will want to taste the mixture before you serve it, as you might need to add more salt. For those not concerned about oil intake, you can add coconut oil to the dish to make it extra rich and flavorful.

5. The tofu will be finished once it is steaming hot. The entire dish takes approximately five minutes to cook through. There should not be an excess of liquids in your pan, if you pressed out the water in step #1 properly.

Serve and enjoy!
Yields 2-3 servings.

21 Day Fix Approved: measure out in the red container to count as 1 red + account for the coconut oil (if you measured out coconut oil for this dish). This tastes just as good as an oil-free breakfast.
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Learn How to Live a Simple, Satisfying Life: Interview with Carrie LeighAnna

Learn How to Live a Simple, Satisfying Life: Interview with Carrie LeighAnna

When I began my journey to simplify my life, I had no idea that there was a small movement of people out there who were doing the same. In fact, later on, I discovered one of my now favorite YouTubers (and new friends) – Carrie LeighAnna. I found Carrie to be a genuine, honest, and kind woman; I can understand why so many people love her YouTube videos. What I like most about Carrie is that she is willing to be truthful with herself and with her viewers; in fact, she is open with the public about her goals, her challenges, and her victories. This is what makes Carrie so relatable; she doesn’t preach perfection or create a facade of perfection; she is just herself, and that’s part of what makes her so beautiful. The ideas and tips she shares are both encouraging and doable, yet they are super inspiring. If you are not familiar with her work and her message, you are in for a real treat with this interview.

1. Carrie, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. You live a simple life, and it seems that you work to prioritize your faith, your health, and your family above other areas of your life. This is very inspiring. For those who are not familiar with you and your YouTube channel, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, where you are from, who you are, your interests, etc.?

I’m a 25-year-old wife, mother, YouTuber and recovering addict. I was born and raised in Kentucky, but moved 1,000 miles away to attend school in Florida where I met my husband of five years. However, just this month we’ve moved back to Kentucky to be closer to family.

I’m an old soul, I tend to go against the grain in just about every way, and I’ve never felt like I’ve really ever “fit in.” But as I’m getting older, I’m really coming to value my uniqueness, rather than feeling insecure about it.

Lastly, I’m obsessed with tiny things. Tiny houses, tiny nurseries, tiny pumpkins, tiny wardrobes, tiny flowers – they all just make my heart so happy!

2. Can you describe and list your simple wardrobe for us including your clothing, pjs, shoes, scarves, coats, etc.? Lots of people have asked me about how many undergarments to keep, so if you are willing to share that information also, if it’s not too personal, that would be great.

Just last month when I lived in Florida, my entire wardrobe consisted of a handful of little black dresses, a pair of flats, a pair of booties, a statement necklace, a set of diamond jewelry and several sweaters. I also had a pair of leggings and a maternity jacket I would wear on cooler days. That was it – less than twenty items – and it was all I ever needed. 

Since moving to Kentucky, however, I’ve had to alter things quite a bit, and I’m still working on it. So far, I’ve got three dresses, some leggings, skinnies, several nice tees, a pair of shorts, flats and I’m on the look out for a pair of sturdy boots for winter. I also have a lightweight coat, a heavy wool jacket and my original maternity jacket from my Florida wardrobe.

But here’s the catch- everything I wear is black. I’m a mommy, so stains are just a part of life – but not on black clothes! Also, Audrey Hepburn… Need I say more?

I have a small handful of workout/ painting clothes that I purchased at second hand stores for less than $10 total. And as far as undergarments go, I have just enough to wear for a week before everything needs to be washed. I purchase really nice panties and bras because it’s such a simple way for me to feel beautiful.

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3. You are a mother. How has motherhood changed you? Do you have any insight for people who are on the fence about parenthood?

Nothing in the world has made me realize how incredibly valuable and fragile life is like motherhood. The moment I locked eyes with that tiny little stranger, the world became so much bigger, so much scarier, and so much more dangerous. But right along with that, it became so much more joyful, playful, beautiful and wonderful all at the same time. When you give birth, you are literally born into a new type of human and you enter an entirely new world. It’s the craziest thing!

Though it was tempting to become “just” a mommy after she was born, I’ve realized in the last year how important it is that I take care of Carrie, and nurture and grow Carrie before I play mommy. The nice thing is, they are mutually compatible. My daughter was born into my world, and the best thing I can do for her is be a mature, growing and happy version of myself first, then welcome her into the world I’ve been living in, rather than make my life revolve exclusively around her.

4. When people say that “children are expensive” or “kids require a lot of stuff” do you agree with that? For anyone who would like to raise a child and still live a very simple lifestyle, what are your tips and suggestions?

I absolutely disagree! Babies need food, clothing, a carseat (at least in America) a quiet place to sleep and lots of love. None of that has to cost a great deal. In fact, for the average mother, all of this can be completely free. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part, babies simply do not need a lot.

Even as the child grows, the costs don’t have to be exorbitant. Living within a budget, buying gently-used items, and “doing it yourself” can all keep costs low.

5. For new Moms-to-be who want to only purchase (or ask for) necessities, what do you think the absolute essentials are to have? How many clothes, towels, cloth diapers, travel items, kits, other items are needed? Is there a way you would recommend tactfully asking for only the items listed on a registry (no extras) or cash in lieu of gifts for a celebratory shower?

My essentials were my electric breast pump, car seat, cloth diapers, and baby jammies. Everything else can be nice to have, but isn’t necessary. Our baby did sleep in a crib, but we were given a hand-me-down. And we received so many clothes and gifts at showers that we didn’t need to purchase anything more.

If you are going the cloth diaper route, I’d suggest 12 covers and inserts, minimum. This will hold you over for two days when they’re newborns and a little longer once they’re older.

Baby towels, toys and utensils are entirely unnecessary. By all means, get them if you like them, but don’t think they are a necessity. Use your adult towels on your baby. Let your infant play with a purse, a rock, and a spatula… heck, they like the boxes the toys come in more than they like the toys anyway! And teach your child to use adult utensils from the start. As the old saying goes, “Start as you would go.”

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6. Regarding mementos and sentimental items, how many do you have? This seems to be the most difficult thing for people to pare down. Have you ever regretted an item you got rid of?

From my childhood, I have nothing left. Several years into simplifying my life I set aside special items from my childhood that I wasn’t ready to release. At first, I thought I’d keep them forever. But eventually I let them all go.

There’s no rule here- hold on to what you want, but realize that it’s okay to let things go when you’re ready… just don’t watch Toy Story 3 right before doing it.

As far as motherhood is concerned, the day I found out I was pregnant, I purchased a sweet, whimsical journal and started writing to my unborn baby. Ever since then, I write a letter to her every two or three months. A few ultrasound pictures are also tucked away in the pages. This is the most precious and sentimental baby item I have, and I’ll give it to her once she becomes a mother. I don’t keep a baby journal because I’m just not a journaler. I tried, but it was always a source of guilt when I would forget to fill in all the appropriate pages. Eventually I realized I simply didn’t need that stress in my life, so I invested all my memory-making energy into the letter journal and stuck with that.

I also have a journal of notes and letters I started writing my husband shortly after we began dating. That’s my favorite sentimental item of ours, with the exception of the simple diamond jewelry my husband has given me as gifts over the years.

7. You just moved. What was that experience like for you? What is your new home environment like?

I moved to Kentucky just about a month ago and it was a lot of work, but so worth it! We sold every piece of furniture we owned rather than shipping it across the country, plus we purged all the unnecessary items from our home. At times it was a little scary realizing I didn’t own anything for a home anymore, with the exception of the carload I kept, but I knew in time I’d be filling my home again soon. And since we sold almost everything for more than we purchased it for, we had change to spare!

We are currently living in one bedroom in my parents house as we transition. We could rent if we wanted to, but my parents have generously offered to let us live with them while we save up for a hefty down payment on a house. Our hope is to move into our own place in the next year!

I’ve actually decided that since I’ll never get to live out my dream of living in a legitimate “tiny house,” that I’m going to make our current space as close to small-living as possible. The room is just a couple hundred square feet (I’m guessing), and so far I’ve managed to include a bedroom, family room, dining room, kitchen and nursery into the little space. It’s a stretch, but it’s a fun adventure, and I’m enjoying it more than words can say!

8. Are you a stay-at-home Mom? If so, what have been some of your best money-saving successes? Any tips for anyone who already avoids shopping most of the time but would really like to take their savings to the next level?

I am a stay-at-home mom. Actually, I was a stay-at-home wife before ever having kids, which is fairly uncommon these days. We’ve been able to make this work simply by staying out of debt and spending frugally. We are not perfect at sticking to our budget, but the tension and expectation is always there, so it keeps us from getting into trouble!

We read and followed Financial Guru Dave Ramsey’s principles pretty adamantly before getting married and we continue to study his material today. Honestly, that’s my number one money-saving (and money-making!) tip – read and follow all his stuff!

9. Friends and Family: This is one area of the holistic health circle that makes such an important difference in a person’s wellness. How have you managed friendships and personal relationships over the years? Do you keep things simple when it comes to friends (such as only having a couple of close friends)? Are you close with only a select handful of friends and family? Thoughts on social media?

I’ve struggled with social anxiety since elementary school. I was also raised in a highly-sheltered environment. Because of that, I’ve had a hard time making friends in my life. But the ones I have – MAN – they are the absolute best!

Relationships can be so tough to maintain. I realized the first year I went off to school that the majority of friendships from my past were going to fade away. I realized years later that that was both normal and healthy. Forgetting and letting go of good things only allows room in our lives to welcome newer, better things. I may have lost many of my closest friends from high school, but then I gained even closer friends in college, not to mention a boy I fell in love with and a child we created together!

But with that said, I believe with all my heart that every single human alive needs close friends. I have a handful of them, and I try my best to invest in those relationships as frequently as I can. Like many women, I want to do so much better. I could call more. I could visit more. I could do a lot of things more. But for now, I’m doing my best and maintaining where I can.

As far as social media is concerned, I would just caution everyone to be wary of “staying close” online. It’s simply not the same as truly being close. There’s nothing wrong with keeping up with friends, but if you’re doing that at the cost of neglecting your current relationships and others around you, you’re simply setting yourself up for some really serious isolation. 

And when it comes to family, by all means, be friends with them. Forgive them. Love them as hard as you are able. And if you can live close to them and still remain happy, do it! 

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10. Faith: You have described your faith as an important part of who you are. Do you have any words of kindness or encouragement to share with anyone who has lost their faith – faith not just in a specific religion or spiritual beliefs – but faith in anything or even faith in themselves?

My faith isn’t just a part of who I am – it is who I am. I believe in a  God who created me, knows me by name, loves me deeply, and has a plan for my life. In my lowest moments in life, I can have hope because God loves me. In my highest moments in life, I can be grateful because God has given me sweet gifts!  

As I mentioned before, I am a recovering addict. I attend regular twelve-step meetings and there is so much talk of God you’d think you were at church. But really, in those rooms there aren’t very many “believers” in the American-sense of the word. But the rooms are filled with people who have decided to give God a chance. And let me tell you- if that’s all you have to give, you have a lot to look forward to!

Regardless of your faith, or lack-there-of, you can know that you are loved. God loves you. And if you don’t think that’s real, then know that I love you (and I’m real!). Life is hard, messy, sticky and beautiful. There is nothing that love cannot fix. Don’t just wait for love to come save you, but actually seek it out. Keep yourself out of isolation. Serve someone lower than you. Eat with a homeless man. Dance in the rain on a summer day… Life is full of beauty, you just have to open your eyes to see it.

11. Anything else you would like to share with us?

I am not a fortune cookie, regardless of how my last answer just sounded. I’m actually a realist. Most things in life really don’t matter. People do. But most everything else simply does not.

Thank you, Carrie! You can learn more great tips and suggestions for living simply from Carrie’s YouTube channel. She also shares valuable information for saving money, living frugally, taking care of yourself, and raising a child.

Learning How to Live Light: A Special Light by Coco Interview

Learning How to Live Light: A Special Light by Coco Interview
One of my favorite YouTubers is Coco from Light by Coco, so you can only imagine how thrilled I was when she accepted an invitation to be interviewed for my website. This is a time of the year when so many people lose themselves in a frenzied world of shopping and sales. I just know this interview will serve as an inspiring step for individuals to declutter and simplify rather than waste or live with excess this holiday season. What I find most inspiring about Coco is her well-rounded approach to decluttering and how she travels with very little. I can only imagine that her living space is a tranquil sanctuary.

1. Your YouTube channel and blog focus on living light and minimalism, but also fashion, travel, and lifestyle tidbits. The information you share, and most importantly how you share it, is something I find this world needs. Can you please share a little bit about yourself, your journey toward minimalism and how you have evolved over the years?

Thank you! Well, I’m from the Netherlands but grew up all over the world, hence my fluency in English. I spent my middle and high school years in the Netherlands, though my parents insisted on us (my siblings and me) having Dutch roots. When it was time for college, the itch to get out there again came and I moved to San Francisco.

Sometimes when my family and I would all be packing up our stuff to move to the next country, I would think about those cartoons with people leaving home with nothing but a bindle. I would wonder how they did it, imagine what my bindle would hold, and then quickly wave the thought away because it was unrealistic. Until I came across minimalism in early 2010. I had boxes and boxes of stuff that I never touched. I imagined I might one day need the contents but when an appropriate occasion arose, I would always default to buying something new instead.

Minimalism didn’t happen in one day for me. It came and went. Somedays I would be fanatically cleaning out closets and drawers, and others I would be shopping like my life depended on it and hanging onto packaging just because it was so pretty. I feel like maybe you can compare transitioning into living light to puberty. It’s a roller coaster. You’re adjusting to this new you, but the old you is still there so you get confused. You still want to buy all the pretty things, but at the same time you want to have empty drawers and a jewelry tree with just one necklace and a ring hanging on it. Now that has all evened out a little; I don’t feel that need to just buy something for the sake of having it anymore. It’s definitely a process.


2. Have you ever regretted something you have given away, sold, or donated? What would your advice be to people who are toying with parting with something (or many things) but afraid that they will regret it? (Note: I recently went through this with my book collection. Yikes!)

I know I have regretted getting rid of things but the funny thing is that I cannot remember anything specific. I think that’s where my advice lies – ultimately it doesn’t matter because it’s just stuff. I always tell people to store the things they are thinking of getting rid of in a box. You can put the box away for an extended period of time, and if you forget what was inside you should just go ahead and donate it.

Most things can be replaced if need be. If it’s something that holds a memory or reminds you of a person there are two ways to handle it:
1. Take a picture of it and donate it 2. Keep it in a keepsakes box. A keepsakes box is a nice way to limit the amount of things you keep for emotional reasons. Once it’s full, you can go ahead and declutter it and see whether it’s worth keeping one item over the other.

3. How often do you do laundry? Some people who have simplified their wardrobe will re-wear certain items because they don’t have enough of certain pieces (like jeans) to wear seven days a week before they have their laundry day. What is your laundry schedule and how do you make it work with the wardrobe you have?

Once a week. I have no problem with wearing my jeans/pants multiple times in-between washes. In fact, it’s recommended not to wash jeans too often. Shirts? I won’t wear mine more than twice and they will always get a sniff test! As for unmentionables, I have enough of those to last me two weeks, haha!

4. What advice do you have for someone who has simplified their home, workspace, technology, etc. but now wants to take it to the next level and live even lighter? Do you recommend a capsule wardrobe, project 333, or something else depending on the lifestyle of each person?

I love the concept of a capsule wardrobe and recommend trying it out to everyone. Project 333 is great because it’s seasonal, so you get the chance to make changes every 3 months. 33 items is quite a lot actually, if you don’t count jewelry like myself. If you’re up for more of a challenge, try the 10 item wardrobe. It’s awesome to see how limiting your options makes life so much more stress-free.

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5. What are some of your future personal and professional goals?

I would really love to, at one point, make a living off of my YouTube channel. I know there are hundreds of thousands of people out there with that same dream but I can’t help feeling like this is what I’m supposed to be doing. I feel motivated and inspired to work on these videos. Living light has changed my life for the better and I want to share that, especially with younger girls. I’d like to make a difference somehow. I’d also like to give back to Stephen (my husband) what he has given me: the opportunity to figure out what I want to do. He has been so incredibly supportive of my journey. When he comes to a point where he wants to try different things career-wise, I want to make sure he can do so 100% with no distractions or outside pressure. Eventually, we want to start a family, but for now we are going to enjoy being just us two.

6. I was so excited to learn that you are married, because I find that many (not all, though) people who enjoy a minimal lifestyle and who have blogs are single and for couples and families, it’s nice to have some ideas as well. I’m married too, so I love learning about how couples can both live simply. I thought it was sweet that your husband did a video with you recently. What have you learned about love and relationships over the years that has profoundly changed your life?

I’ve had my fair share of heartbreak. Mostly because I was afraid of being single and rushed into relationships. The turning point came when the guy I was interested in stood me up for the 5th time in a row. I mean really, what was I thinking?! I decided that I was worth more than that and that I was going to live my life for me and not to be someone’s girlfriend (patriarchy much?). I figured the only one I could really trust was myself and if I was going to be alone with myself I’d better love me. I had fun with my friends instead of chasing after some guy trying to get some sort of validation. I’m so glad I was stood up!

I was happy, confident, and most importantly, not bitter. I was happy for the people who were in loving relationships, and I didn’t feel any negative emotions towards the guys who had wronged me in the past. The moment I deeply and honestly felt okay with being single, Stephen came into my life. As we got to know each other I was more and more convinced that he was the one. There was no urgency in our dating or fear of falling, it was wonderful. Every day I felt this deep sense of trust grow, and I can confidently say that the feeling was mutual.

What have I learned? Love yourself first; don’t make decisions (especially pertaining to your future) for anyone but yourself. In moments of tension with others you sometimes have to put your own reactions aside when you notice the other is having a moment of weakness (be that stress, anger, sadness, insecurity or jealousy). Listen more than you speak and trust your gut.

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7. I just wrote an article about friendships and taking an inventory of personal relationships and how important it is to be surrounded by good, genuine people. Up until I started doing research for this, I had no idea how many people of many age groups struggle with building meaningful friendships, finding considerate people they can vibe with, and letting go of friendship clutter. I realize this is such a broad topic, so please just share your thoughts on friendships. Have you found it easy to make new friends and let go of toxic friendships? Do you minimize your friendships as well?

My family and I moved around quite a bit when I was a kid so I am actually quite good at making friends and talking to strangers. From these travels I have learned that, above all, friendships are transient. We change as we go through life and so do our friends. The people we might have been a perfect match with 5 years ago may now be on a totally different wavelength, and that’s okay. It’s important to let go of relationships that just don’t work anymore. Friendships should feel natural, not forced. I don’t consciously minimize my friendships, but I have come to a point where I feel comfortable about people floating in and out of my life.

8. There is a lot of information on YouTube regarding how to be healthy. You seem to really have a grounded and balanced approach to how you view wellness. How would you define a “healthy life” and how important is having a balanced approach to health (whether that be fitness, yoga, meditation, nutrition, etc.) for you versus an extreme all-or-nothing approach? And going off of that, do you have any thoughts on all of the diet trends that are so prominent online?

Being healthy is my top priority. Exercise keeps me sane and my food is my medicine. That being said, you won’t see me at the gym more than twice a week or on a juice cleanse. I believe that all the small decisions you make add up to the bigger picture. Working out every day is not sustainable for me, taking the stairs every day is. Same goes for diet trends. Sustainability is very important. How does this impact the earth? My wallet? My mental wellbeing? No diet trends or all-or-nothing approaches for me, just sensibility. Figure out what you are eating too much of and what you are eating too little of. Find a good balance where exercise is enough, yet still enjoyable. Be healthy but still have fun.

9. Regarding social media, do you limit the time you are on social media each day? Do you only use certain platforms? Do you only follow a limited number of accounts? I could talk for hours about social media alone, because it’s a pervasive part of our society. How do you manage your online relationships?
I’m pretty bad about social media. This is such an exciting time for me that I check almost every hour. I know that’ll even out eventually though; I’m already seeing a change. I’m barely ever on Facebook so that’s a start. On Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest I only follow a small amount of accounts so that my feed doesn’t get overloaded. I don’t update  social media a lot either because I only want to send out content that’s worthwhile. My channel is about removing clutter from our lives, so I don’t want to clutter up other people’s feeds! Apart from interacting with my viewers, I’m quite a passive user; I lurk.

10. Do you have a career outside of writing and making videos? And if so, what is it? What advice do you have for all of the career people out there who don’t always put themselves first and who perhaps feel as though they don’t have time to live light?

I’m a Ux designer with a love for branding and identity design. I think that after the initial decluttering, living light is an amazing time-saver. It’s all about a shift in perspective. So instead of going out this weekend and spending your hard-earned money on things you don’t really need, stay home and go through a room to get rid of the stuff you already own and don’t really need. It’s pretty addicting actually. Plus, you can make extra money from selling stuff, and you can actually claim a tax deduction from donating stuff in the US.

Once everything is out you can spend your valuable and limited time on the things you like, instead of taking care of your possessions or shuffling around an overcrowded mall.

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11. Anything else you would like to share?

When it comes to living light and minimalism, I think a lot of people assume the goal is to have the least amount of stuff. They are afraid that their house may no longer feel like a home and that they will be rejected by society or that they themselves have to reject consumerism. This is not the case. This lifestyle is about finding a balance between too much and too little. You can still collect magnets and live light. You can still be a minimalist and have a garage full of tools. The key is to keep the things you use and/or love – the things that make you truly happy.

Coco’s Video on Changing Spending Habits:
For more information on Light by Coco:
Light by Coco on Youtube
Thank you, Coco!
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Also: Please be sure to check out my most recent video where I answer your questions and host a special giveaway.

Why It’s Important for Us to Be in Nature

Why It’s Important for Us to Be in Nature

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
-John Lubbock

Recently, I have added 15 minutes outside in the early morning hours as part of my morning routine. In just a short time, this has already helped my state of mind and well-being immensely. I cannot recommend this act of intentional living enough.

I first walk outside barefoot and stand outside in the grass underneath one of my favorite trees. I enjoy the sensations and sounds of the crickets, the birds, the gentle wind, the cool morning air, the grass between my toes, the dirt beneath my feet – everything.

After a couple of minutes, I do a couple of sun salutations and yoga stretches, then I do 100 crunches, and 10 push-ups. I then lay down in the grass and just relax and enjoy the peacefulness. I never bring my cell phone with me during this relaxing practice. So for the sake of this blog post, I took this picture later in the afternoon to share the view from the grass. I will lay in the grass for a couple of minutes or to my heart’s content.

tree

For the final part of my time outside in the morning, I stand up and ground my feet to the Earth again, and I express gratitude for the day and for the natural world. I cannot express enough how much this has shifted my perspective, and I highly recommend this to anyone. Just go outside for even two-five minutes every morning and be thankful and express gratitude. Enjoy all that nature has to offer. You will feel more alive and more connected.

Why It Is Important for Us to Be in Nature

1. We are meant to be outside. That’s right. We have really botched things up with our 9-5 desk jobs, artificial fluorescent lighting, stressful commutes, and addictive technology. Humans are meant to walk and be active and be outdoors. That is our natural state. We are not robots and we are not zombies. It is up to us to make the shift.

2. Going outside can help our health. Sunlight provides Vitamin D and can elevate our moods. Going outside has also been shown to help concentration and encourages people to be more active and boosts energy levels. People who go outside daily tend to be happier. Being in nature has also shown to help with depression and mood disorders. (Sources: Harvard and Everyday Health)

3. Trees are wise and have the power to heal. Hug a tree and give thanks to all that trees do for us. “Trees provide breathable air, timber, fuel, food, shelter, medicine and beauty. Without trees, we could not live. They can help us think better — Plato and Aristotle did their best thinking in the olive groves around Athens, Buddha found enlightenment beneath a bo tree, and Isaac Newton realised his theory of gravity when an apple fell from the tree under which he was sitting — and they can help us feel better.”
(Source: Psychologies)

hugatree

4. Exercising outside is optimal. “A 2011 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that people who walked on an outdoor track moved at a faster pace, perceived less exertion, and experienced more positive emotions than those who walked on an indoor treadmill. In another recent study done in Scotland, subjects who walked through a rural area viewed their to-do list as more manageable than those who walked on city streets.” (Source)

5. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is 2-5 times more toxic than air outside. Shocking? It’s true. One of the best ways to help the air in our living and working environments is to add plants. But another important thing to do for your own health is to go outside. (Source: Dr. Axe)

6. There is an actual disorder called nature deficit disorder. Don’t believe me? Read here. Let’s get away from the boob tube and the iPizzle, and the cell phone madness and go outside. Another benefit: being in nature can help increase our attention spans.

7. Now let’s apply this to children and teens. Young people need to go outside. If a person grows up with no connection to nature, they will most likely have no appreciation for it. Even more, with obesity, diabetes, and other illnesses on the rise that affect young people, I think it is time we get back to the basics. Go outside with your family.

8. Gardening and putting our hands in the dirt can be one of the most healing and enriching acts we participate in. To connect with new life and to watch a seed grow into a plant is a miracle that so many people take for granted. To connect with our food on the most basic level, helps us to eat healthier and to feel at one with the Earth.

If you don’t have land to cultivate, consider a window garden, a container garden on a deck or patio, or rent space at a community garden. There are options. This is a photo of what we harvested yesterday plus saving arugula seeds.

GardenHarvest8.18.14

What are you doing right now? Can you spare two minutes of your day to go outside and get some fresh air? I hope so. Nature is a beautiful gift. Let’s get back to it. Let’s be thankful for it.

Mary Signature