SLIDER

WHAT TO LET GO BEFORE THE NEW YEAR (2019)

12.25.2018

One of the most cathartic practices when starting a new year is purging everything that is no longer serving you. As with every cycle, there needs to be a sloughing off of old outdated elements. Are you hanging on to a coat that you haven't worn in a year? Still hung up on a past relationship that did you more harm than good? The last week of 2018 is the perfect time to contemplate which things you want to keep and which ones you are better off living without.


DIGITAL DETOX

In this age of tech-dependency, it doesn't hurt to cut back on online addictions. Think of all the time you could have spent on more productive endeavors if you cut back on mindless gaming apps. These diversions may seem harmless at first, but overtime, they impede you from living your life. Gaming can be a very addicting and isolating activity. Those consumed by it become less productive and connected with the world outside the console. Despite seeming like a dire situation, small changes can remedy such conditions.

One way to counteract digital fixation is by unfollowing accounts and people that don't add anything to your quality of life. Ex-boyfriends/girlfriends should be unfollowed immediately. Make sure that the people left on your feed add something positive to your life. Do they provide encouragement and levity when you need them the most? Do these figures inspire you to to be a better version of yourself by motivating you into action? One example is an account that posts healthy recipes. This resource saves you time, keeps you away from overpriced greasy takeout and helps you maintain a nutritious diet. If you're a designer, following artists enriches the quality of your work. Each time you consider clicking that "follow" button, take a moment to evaluate whether this account can directly improve your life.

It's time to sort through the address book in your smartphone. Delete contacts that involve toxic or superficial connections. Purging ex-partners saves you from embarrassing drunk calls or text messages. It's difficult to cut ties abruptly, but removing them from your contact list is a very powerful first step. You might also have doctors or accountants that you no longer work with. Take all these extras out. A majority of the names on your list should be people who you are in constant contact with. If you stumble upon friends that you haven't been in touch with for a while but genuinely want to keep, don't erase them just yet. Now might be a great time to give them a call and see how they are doing. This also gives you the opportunity to check whether the contact information you have is up-to-date.

The next step involves deleting apps that no longer fit into your lifestyle. Apps that lie dormant on your device screen should be removed to make room for ones that you actually use and need. Think about how you would like the upcoming year to be. Do you aspire to make more money next year? Find apps that help you achieve this goal. Perhaps, keeping Uber is a good idea if you intend on making some cash shuttling people around. If you are looking to improve your diet and consumption, swapping a restaurant app for a calorie tracking one might be a good idea. The key is to continuously curate apps that benefit you on a daily basis.

Replace games that turn you into a mindless zombie with a reading app like Overdrive. This allows you to access audio and ebooks from all public libraries. All you need is a library card to log in. It's a great way to continuously improve brain function while still entertaining yourself. People who choose books over social media gain a wider vocabulary and are able to maintain mental focus and clarity. Choosing apps with substance is like consuming foods with high nutritive value.

Recycle old gadgets for store credit or cash. Collect every single tech item that you no longer use. Stores like Best Buy and Apple give store credit for old devices that are still working. If the item is completely dead, I recommend having them properly dispose of it. If you have friends or relatives that need a phone or tablet, ask them if they would like to adopt one of your fully functional ones. If you are hanging on to these old contraptions because of precious data, move everything over to your current phone or computer. Heaps of junk take up space that should be reserved for things and tools that serve a purpose.


STREAMLINE YOUR WARDROBE

Christmas break is the best time to open up your closet and fish out those well-loved items that fit. Once these gems have been identified, then you can decide on how you want to purge the rest of the clothes. This is the time to be brutal. If it doesn't cater to your current size and shape, consider donating it to charity. If you don't remember buying it and have no intention of wearing it, it needs to be passed on to someone who will love it more than you do. Trendy items that may look out of place during the upcoming spring season should be purged as well. Barely used trendy clothes can be resold at a Buffalo Exchange. Poshmark is a popular mediator when it comes to reselling luxury brands. The strategy is to hone in on a specific target market which will likely pay you the highest price. Once you are finished removing the articles that you no longer need, you can now reorganize your closet. Make sure all clothes are as visible as possible. This prevents repeated accumulation of unused clothes. The KonMari method can help with that. Having a closet filled with thoughtfully chosen clothes significantly shortens the time it takes for you to get ready in the morning. It also cuts back on the daily stresses of rushing to work.

MAKING ROOM FOR SELF CARE

Take a good look at everything you use on your face, body and hair. Are you using expired toothpaste? Is your mascara getting crusty. Be sure to check all topical treatments in case they may have gone bad. Now is the time to fine tune and evaluate your self-care products. Is the moisturizer you're using breaking you out? Need a better shampoo to combat dryness? Everything in your collection has to benefit you in some way. If it's doing more harm than good, then it needs to be left behind along with 2018. If you have recent purchases that might work better for someone else, set those aside to give away. Once you've cleared your drawers of all the toiletries and beauty products that don't work for you, then you can determine what you might need to buy. If you desperately need a mascara replacement, choose wisely. The goal is to have a minimal yet effective regimen up and running this coming new year. The focus should always be on caring for you in the most efficient way possible.

REGIFTING OPPORTUNITIES

If you find yourself surrounded by Christmas presents that don't necessarily tickle your fancy, consider keeping them for regifting next year. Write the name of the giver on a post-it note to avoid regifting it back to them or their family. Gift cards don't expire in California so hang on to those precious store credits. If they become partially used before next Christmas, you can always pay for a refill at the retailer that sells them.

TRANSITION INTO SOMETHING YOU ASPIRE

This transitional period is absolutely crucial in setting the tone for the upcoming new year. Let go of everything that's holding you back to make room for new and wonderful opportunities this coming 2019. Every moment is a chance for a fresh start, but Christmas break is the optimal time to do a revamping.

Photo by: Thought Catalog & Alexandru Acea

HOW TO MAKEOVER YOUR GENES

12.18.2018


Everyone attributes most traits and behaviors to their genetic makeup. Many feel hopelessly trapped in the body they inhabit, yearning to look better, feel stronger and be smarter. Based on what we were taught and what we experience, to a large extent, we are limited by our human anatomy. These limitations in turn, impede our aspirations and create a border fence, that hinders us from expanding the vast fields of our unbridled potential.

What if you could defy your genes by altering your looks, your physical build and your intelligence? What if you could eradicate everything that's been holding you back from your ambitious endeavors and impossible dreams? I see you scratching your chin. Suddenly, this blog sounds like it's turning into a fantasy novel. I'm not promising a full-on instantaneous metamorphosis like what those shapeshifters from the Marvel Universe are able to do. I'm alluding to something less blatant yet quite detectable on a molecular level.

Research done on Epigenetics is slowly changing minds with regards to the malleability of the human genome. This field of study focuses on the mechanisms built into our DNA that determine gene expression. Recent studies indicate that diet, lifestyle and upbringing can affect whether certain traits are switched on via the epigenome (Learn Genetics video). Another fascinating discovery is that these alterations may be passed on to future generations (What is Epigenetics article). Arbitrary gene morphing may be beyond our reach right now, but it sounds like we have the ability to choose which trait carried by those genes can actually take effect. This can render undesirable traits dormant while the coveted ones can freely manifest themselves.


Could the epigenome be the key to the fountain of youth? Companies like EpigenCare are now offering a DNA testing service that provides you with a guide on how to care for your body and skin to get the best physical outcome. You get a list of topical recommendations as well as foods that can help repress unwanted traits like wrinkles. If you're looking to curb the aging process on your own, here are a few small changes can make a world of difference. Lower your carb intake. Sugars are especially harmful in shortening telomeres which are the end caps of DNA. Telomeres shorten over time which causes aging. Sugar accelerates this process. Sodas and sweets might make you feel like a kid, but they have the opposite effect on your body. Switching from butter to olive oil is another nifty anti-aging trick. The phenol compounds in this precious substance represses the expression of genes tied to chronic inflammation. This condition causes us to age by altering the body's composition, slowing down metabolism and weakening immunity. The easiest way to thwart "inflammanging" is by consuming some good old fashioned EVOO. Brightly colored red, orange and green produce are another great addition to your diet. These flavonoid-rich foods contain phytochemicals that fight the oxidation process and also reduce inflammation. They take down cell-damaging free-radicals and mask inflammation causing genes (Oxford Academic articleEpigenetics.com article). The mythical fountain of your isn't a sparkly golden spring in a hidden cave. If you shop wisely, your fridge could work just as well as this fictional concept. Who knew a little bit of grocery shopping could do your body so much good?


As society turns to holistic and natural methods of nourishment and self care, the practice of meditation has gained immense popularity among a multitude of socioeconomic groups. Everyone from your hipster neighbor, to comedian Jerry Seinfeld are joining the meditation movement. Research indicates that zen-loving individuals who regularly practice meditation are able to gradually increase their brain size. The areas with considerable brain tissue growth are those expected to thin out with age, indicating a possible age-reversal in their thinking cap. Scientists at MIT state that the tissue thickening occurs in the areas involved in attention and sensory input. This implies a significant improvement in brain function. Those interviewed in the study, notice an improvement in attention, mental clarity, stress management and memory. These are all qualities associated with youthfulness which means that one is able to sustain the same youthful characteristics even at an older age. The thickness in tissue growth is proportional to the amount of time the person has been taking part in the meditative ritual, proving that these participants are actually changing the physical structure of their brain with continuous practice. Because this study is still young, more data is needed to grasp the full spectrum of benefits that meditation can bring (Harvard Gazette).

We may be born a certain way, but science is discovering that not everything is carved in stone. Each of us is a living breathing complex organism. These studies reinforce the unlikely reality that we have the capability to invoke molecular changes in our bodies. We each have the ability to modify our physical shortcomings and pass on only the traits that we want our children to inherit. The hidden mechanism tucked away in our double helix is almost like a gift that we were meant to one day discover to unlock our true potential.


Photos by Matthew SchwartzRod Long & Joshua Earle

EXTREME FRUGALITY TIPS THAT CAN DOUBLE YOUR SAVINGS

12.11.2018

Serious about saving? Whether you're desperately needing to pay off interest-incurring loans or planning a summer trip, the tactics listed here are guaranteed to get you closer to your financial goals. Over time, these seemingly insignificant changes have a huge impact on your ability to put aside enough money.

SALES

The first rule in extreme frugality is to buy only when there's a sale. It takes more effort to schedule your shopping trips during sales events, but it will save you the most money. Sprouts Market holds cyclical promotions for different product categories. Every four months, their vitamin section offers a generous 25% off. All year round, grocery stores cut prices on select items to quickly sell off perishables before they expire. Nordstrom is known for their half-yearly sale, held every July. Department stores need to constantly make room for the upcoming season's collections. Even the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, admits to taking advantage of huge discounts at the popular luxury chain (Business Insider video). With continued diligence, your shopping habits will seamlessly adhere to this principle. Saving then becomes second nature.


Online clothing merchants hold spontaneous short-term flash sales. Keeping webpages bookmarked helps keep tabs on limited-time offers. Be sure to check your favorite online shops on other occasions besides Cyber Monday or Black Friday. Beauty stores might do a Mother's Day special. Gyms usually do a summer promotion to capitalize on swimsuit season. Some sites like Vitacost.com offer long-term bargain prices. I recommend this seller for greener product options. The initial effort that you put in, will eventually pay you back in compounded extra savings.

USAGE

Use a reasonable amount of product. Commercials show kids topping their toothbrush bristles with a generous heap of toothpaste. This is just for looks. In reality, you only need a dime-sized amount of toothpaste. Using a durable toothbrush with a large head reduces the need for more toothpaste and rigorous brushing. The Radius Scuba brush lasts for up to a year and cleans more efficiently than an electric toothbrush.


Gauge how much you really need by starting small. This applies to everything from lotion to pasta. A nifty trick when using a serum or moisturizer is to apply it on a damp face. This allows the product to spread out evenly and absorb more deeply into the skin. You'll waste less, while still getting the full effect. Determining how much you really need extends the life of a purchase, preventing you from spending too soon after the last shopping trip.

STORAGE & CARE

Store items properly. Choosing the right container prevents wastefulness. Check all  pepper shakers and ketchup dispensers. Do they release the right amount? If they don't, consider switching them out. Edibles expire more quickly if they are not properly preserved. Produce must be kept in waterless containers to prevent molds. Make sure all "best before" dates are visible. These labels remind you to finish them before they go bad. Don't buy more than what you can consume. Resist purchasing the larger bundle to avoid wasting excess perishables.


It's also important to store clothes and other items, like electronics, properly. Folding instead of hanging clothes saves space and prevents them from stretching out. I recommend looking up the Konmari method for additional organization tips. Electronics should be used and kept in the coldest areas in the home. Heat causes tech gadgets and equipment to deteriorate faster.

The same is true for beauty products. Keeping serums and moisturizers in the refrigerator extends their usability. Make sure all bottles and containers are closed properly after every use. Cleaning beauty tools regularly prevents them from wearing out and rusting. Maintenance and care improves longevity and effectiveness. The longer they last, the longer you are able to put off spending for another refill or backup.

Most of these habits may seem like tedious work, but the benefits they reap in the long run has an immense ability to compound. Every penny saved really does add up over time. A consistent savings of 25% on necessities generates a rate of wealth accumulation greater than the stock market's 7% average yearly return.

PLACES TO SHOP


B & H Photo
This online retailer is a haven for techies. On top of discounts, items are sold tax-free if you don't live in New York, and ships free. They sell a broad variety of products. The website is among the few that still sell older software versions with perpetual licensing, which means it doesn't require a subscription. B & H offers everything from computer adapters to extremely high-end DSLR cameras.

Sprouts
The rapidly growing farmers market offers an abundance of affordable organic food. Its vitamin and beauty sections offer a vast array of certified organic and all-natural alternatives. They also sell freshly-made baked pastries, as well as made-to-order artisanal sandwiches. The grains and legumes section has a wide selection to choose from.

Target
For fresh meats and berries, discerning grocery shoppers prefer this outlet. Target tends to draw a large volume of buyers, so their edible items get sold and replaced quickly. The produce you're picking up is likely a new batch. Dry goods is sometimes a mixed bag. Some medicines are cheaper at Target while Walmart offers cheaper toiletries.

Target is also a great source for rare fashion finds. The brand will occasionally collaborate with well-known designers in creating exclusive yet affordable clothing lines. Many vouch for the durability and quality of their wearable merchandise.

Walmart
The behemoth retail chain is great for basic necessities. This warehouse offers the best pricing for generic items like cleaning supplies and toiletries. Most people aren't too fussy about these disposable goods.

RESEARCH RESOURCES


The Wirecutter
Run by the New York Times, this informative resource ranks the best and most affordable in every imaginable tech category. It also covers services like phone plans. They test thousands of options offered by an extensive range of brands. Top-rated products are listed based on consumer preference. Whether performance or cost is your priority, this site hones in on the cheapest and rarest finds.

Google Shopping Tab
When looking for a specific product on google, type out the name on Google's search window. After the search results are done loading, click on the shopping tab on the menu bar. You'll see a list of online sellers, as well as brick-and-mortar ones nearby. Prices are conveniently displayed side by side for comparison. This allows for a more efficient and expansive search.


Photos by Jakub Kapisnakrawpixel, Tookapic & Christin Hume

THE LONGEST TREASURE HUNT IN HISTORY IS NOW AVAILABLE TO BINGE WATCH

12.04.2018


Looking for a series with substance to watch this holiday break? A treasure hunt lasting two hundred and twenty years is now on television, inviting viewers to witness groundbreaking discoveries that might just rewrite history. Two brothers from Michigan embark on an elusive quest to solve the mystery behind The Curse of Oak Island. Legend states that seven must die before the island reveals a great treasure.


This is unlike any broadcast you've seen before. The hunt spans across continents and generations. Members of the team travel long distances in pursuit of solving the island's perplexing revelations. The show features well-renowned scholars who vividly illustrate a progression of events that lead back to the shores of the mysterious North American island. Cue animated graphics that plot out a timeline, highlighting pivotal points in the past. Then, it cuts to a reenactment depicting a Spanish galleon caught in a swirling fury of an angry sea. Just like that, it pulls you in.

The History channel program clearly doesn't fit the superficial reality show stereotype, this one portrays genuine connections. Rick and Marty Lagina are authentic, smart and relatable. Viewers see them connect with the team, their nephews, as well as treasure hunters who came before them. There is a moving scene between a teary-eyed Rick and Leelamb Restall, who lost family members to this ruthless quest. She passes on her brother's journal to aid them on their journey. Behind the long-drawn pursuit are real people revealing a small slice of their life to audiences.

The centuries-long expedition demands a considerable amount of investment. Rick's passion for finding answers has led to many scholarly connections that continues to help direct the team's pursuits. Marty's engineering and business background helps support the more technical side of this endeavor. Rick is the passionate beating heart of the group while Marty serves as the analytical thinker. With their combined knowledge and resources, the team is able to efficiently implement historical know-how and sophisticated equipment to unravel the island's secrets. They've made earth-shattering discoveries as faraway as France. They continue to utilize large-scale machinery to remove obstructions that hinder them from getting to the truth. It all started out as a childhood dream of finding out what happened on those murky shores. Years of relentless dedication and hard work has led them to this pivotal point in the quest to solving the mystery.

The Curse of Oak Island is propelled to success by the incredible artifacts that continue to be unearthed, as well as their compelling ties to history. It is astounding to witness the show grapple with evidence that allude to a myriad of possibilities assumed to be mere myth. Everything from the original manuscripts of Sir Francis Bacon, to gold hidden by pirates and Spanish naval ships, are said to be hidden beneath the soil. Even the jewels of Marie Antoinette are believed to be buried there. Structures housing part of the treasure are thought to be built by French and Portuguese Templar Knights. All of these historical figures play a part in enriching the tale that make this island legendary.

The family friendly show takes us on a journey through history. Treasures, pirates and secret societies come to life. Except this time, documented history corroborates with tall tales that turn out to be truer previously thought.

Sources:

Curse of Oak Island Website

Photos by Ylanite KoppensAndreea Swank


© THE SIMPLEST ANSWERS • Theme by Maira G.