Outside of the Box

Little Melody:

I am an analytical person. I loved being called a nerd as a kid. I embraced that I would never be that creative. I painted and colored well enough as a kid, but I enjoyed numbers and words more, the numbers behind my junior watercolor stand. It was the respect that numbers and words have in our society, especially to parents and employers, that drew me to them as a kid.

Reinforcing bias:

As a young adult, I thought I wasn’t missing anything. I had a flexible job that paid well. I had my feet on the ground: I had no dreams of music or travel like most of my counterparts. When we’re young, we always seeing things as we are, not ever as anyone else. I thought I was a whole person, even though there was an imbalance.

New perspective:

Creativity is a necessary component of efficiency and minimalism in general. It is also a necessary part of raising children: You can tailor a course or words to better reach each child. Intuition makes compassion so much easier, and it is a beautiful thing, as many mothers can tell when something is wrong with their child, without the child ever saying a word. Many women can anticipate where there is a need or danger without any words spoken. We can often feel pain deeper and warm people better. That is magical.  Creativity, emotion, and intuition, I all saw in a different light.

Minimalism opened my life in more ways than I can quantify in one blog post (and it grows every new year), but the best thing that it gave me was that it was the catalyst to my realization that creativity and ingenuity is important for living. The organizing of my bare minimal contents appealed to the analytical person, but creativity is necessary when paring down clothes and food. How can I maximize utility and joy? Maybe I can use honey instead of syrup.  Maybe I don’t need a second sheet or coffee table.  Where are the easy replacements and solutions?


In Norway, I was living the dream that I had never been comfortable with — following my heart — a pursuit definitely more suited to the creative.  When the temporary furniture rolled in, much of it was not what I was used to:  The couch was scratchy, and the work chair was painful. The heat made sleep difficult.   The old me would have put myself in a box, dwelling on it or forcing myself to accept it, but there are easy fixes to all of these.


Stop Thought:

All you have to do is stop thinking like your normal self.  There is a new avenue for those who can clear their minds. There is a solution just around the bend of ordinary thought. That’s what a lot of lifehacks are:  They are just simple solutions to problems a lot of us face. It’s that aha moment that is there for every challenge, if we can put aside our regular pattern of thinking. Most of the time, there is a very simple and amazing solution for all of the clear minds.



For the scratchy couch, for the duration I was there, I just put a plain comforter over it. Temporary, comfortable, and affordable.

For the heat, I put ice cubes in containers and filled them with water and got a small fan. (Tip: If you don’t want your ice to bleed everywhere, put a sponge in a Ziploc with water, pop it in the freezer, and then when you take it out to use as an icepack, it won’t sweat everywhere.)

For the uncomfortable chair, I got rid of it and used a dining chair with a pillow from the couch.

Here are two simple solutions to everyday problems:

Flyaway hairs? Just put eyebrow gel to keep them in place. Way easier than hairspray.

Cat hair all over your couch? Just use the squeegee you wipe down the shower walls with, use it to clean the couch.

In the end, analytical or creative, I know that neither is better than the other.  Both have their place.

Weekend Clean Routine

I do not do well with a big daily cleaning routine. I keep my daily cleaning routine as minimalist as possible when it comes and get it all done on the weekend in an hour or less! If you can start a load of laundry mid-week, you can get all of this done in 45 minutes.

My top tips are to put on upbeat music, put your hair up, and open the curtains. Fill your DIY cleaners with only half as much as you normally do so that they are easy to carry from room to room. The way I clean, I like to focus on type, not room. So all the floors, all the mirrors, so on. This is a great method especially if you live in a one-story house/apartment. I like to do things this way because then I have the cleaners I need to get the job done in my hands already. If you do one room at a time, I recommend getting a caddy or bucket for all of your items.

Prep space:

a. Put everything back. Put towels in the wash. (Ready space for wiping.)
b. Make a flex surface. Clean one space to put things on it that need to be processed.
c. Make note of oddball talks.

Weekend Chore Chart:

1. Laundry first. Bedding, clothes, towels.
2. Floors (for me).
3. Mirrors.
4. Knobs/Handles/Switches.
5. Tops of furniture/Counters.
6. Baseboards.
7. Drains/Sinks/Toilets
8. Wipe tub
9. Oddball Tasks

Oddball Tasks (Examples):

shred papers
clean shower curtain
change out water filter
clean fridge/microwave
wash winter clothes
dust curtains
clean earbuds

Simple Hair Tips That Can Change Your Life


One of the top requests I get is how to grow out hair as healthy as you can!

I’m here to give my top tips on hair.  The number one thing is to know that you don’t need specialized gummies or anything extreme, not even hair masks.  

Why Long Hair?

The great thing about long hair is that it is so low maintenance.  Many Amish women have long hair because it encourages them to be productive and not worry as much on their appearance.  It is true, it requires less maintenance and fussing.  It is easy to cut yourself, especially if you don’t have layers, and this is because of the sheer volume!  When you have such long hair, the details matter a lot less.  Shorter hair requires more styling and cutting expertise.  It encourages you not to dye your hair because it is healthiest when it is full of moisture!   If you’re about to start college, this is the perfect time to grow out hair to allow you to focus completely on your studies and to save as much as possible on haircuts and products.

How Long Can I Get Away With Growing My Hair?

This depends on three things:
1. genetics – medium, thin, or thick hair in your family?
2. age – the younger you are, the easier it is to grow out long hair
3. climate – warm climates are perfect for long hair

Once you’ve determined what will be your perfect length (for me, this is just below my breasts since I have medium thickness), here are some tips to ensure the thickest hair you can manage.  

Healthy hair only requires one thing: moisture.  

A humid environment is the perfect environment for luscious locks.  

My top tips for not stripping moisture:
1. stay away from heavy chemicals as much as possible (in dyes and shampoos)
2. avoid heat as much as possible (use eyebrow gel to tame hairs or spot treat with heat)
3. use a leave-in, especially when you use heat!
4. wash your hair only once every two or three days

Long hair requires: volume.

Since long hair is heavy, especially the thicker your hair naturally is, volume is essential or else hair looks lifeless.  How can you add volume while not stripping moisture?

1. use an all natural volumizing shampoo 
2. apply 
conditioner only at the tips
3. use a dry shampoo on in between days or to add volume
4. use a teasing comb
5. do not using a lot of product in your hair on a regular basis so you don’t need a clarifying shampoo
6. add layers/keep hair shorter
7. use a detangler as they are considerably more gentle than a regular brush
8. use your fingers to work on big tangles (instead of your brush) and use a leave-in conditioner if you come across a difficult tangle
9. brush from the bottom, up
10. wash hair only once every two or three days (less motion, less hair loss)

Here are my must-have products for hair:

1. The Wonderseed hemp shampoo and conditioner
2. Mason Pearson detangler
3. Batiste dry shampoo
4. Carol’s Daughter leave-in conditioner
5. one clip

Here are some other things I use:
hair straightener

Watch my hair video here.

It’s Not Your Fault

so clean4

Minimalism means a lot of things to a lot of a different people. To me, in one word, it is reflection or examination. It also is peace, but if I had to characterize it in one line, it would be: It’s not your fault! So take a load off.

Part of the Problem:

Especially in America, we work many hours per week, and we have very little days off. We may feel unappreciated for all the hours we put into our careers and families on top of the overexertion. Nearly half of American mothers work outside of the house, despite the high cost of daycare and despite putting in a great deal of time into housework/childcare. Student loan debt is up to 30,000 per student; therefore, working through college and after kids becomes almost a must.

We just can’t do it all. We can’t keep up with friends, ourselves, our houses, and our careers. Balls drop; we feel bad and overwhelmed. I’ve heard it said like this: How can an angel live in a hell? Our environment affects our mood and our feelings about ourselves and how we interact with our families. Depression is common in America. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

It is difficult to work in an environment that is full of paperwork and kitchenware. It is difficult to work without the right tools and it is difficult to reflect in a frenetic environment, where we feel like we’re one step away from failure or are already failing on a weekly basis in our minds. But how can we have peace and time with our kids when there are so many bills to pay?

That’s where minimalism comes in.

A Second Chance:

We are bombarded with news, commercials, societal expectations on how we look and act, and an endless amount of affordable food and possessions, but what if we actively worked against unnecessary effort and things? What if every chance we got, we minimized possessions and errands and increased efficiency and relaxation?

The Holidays:

The holidays especially are a tipping point for many of us. It highlights everything difficult about our life — the frantic errands, closets bursting, societal expectation, and higher bills. It too can be a time of reflection, but reflection is easiest for most of us at the start of each year, after the endless to-dos, when we can clear our minds and bodies in peace and quiet.

There is something most alluring about clearing the air. When I cut all of my green smoothie ingredients, the fresh smell of produce purifies the air in the way that only plants can. It is so crisp and vibrant, and it reminds me everything I like about life.

I love the clarity and minimalism of a winter day — the small things about the holidays, telling friends that I love them, the smell of the air in the winter, and giving my cat extra treats. It is the perfect time to take stock of priorities and to live out what we believe.  Why do we even consider minimalism in the first place?  Because our loved ones and health are the most important parts of life.  So it’s a chance to re-emphasize what really matters.

Why wait until the end to clear the air? You can have it now.

Here are some practical tips to minimize burden:

1. Throw out or shred all mail that isn’t a bill, for at least one month straight. Notice how easy dealing with mail is when you don’t sift through magazines and advertisements. So quick!

2. Clear off your counters. How easy will it be to wipe down after a cooking session when your olive oil, salt, and paper towels are elevated and when your utensils are tucked away.

3. Hide duplicates in the kitchen.  Put the duplicates in a container in another place in your house.  It’s almost like a game. Can I get away with just one sifter, with just one or two spatulas? You will be surprised at how easy humans adapt to new circumstances and how efficient cooking is when drawers only contain what is necessary.

4. Drink just water for a month straight and try to get more sleep if possible. Not only will your body feel better for it, but just imagine a fridge door without a lot of fluids. Imagine not having to take out mugs or a kettle. Also, imagine how easy grocery trips are without having to carry in heavy fluids!

5. A great way to get more sleep is to limit technology. Bright lights from computer screens and overhead lighting tells our body it’s daytime, and then we have trouble getting sleepy. Even though my job revolves around politics, I have to take a break from the news cycle because it really weighs down a mind. Limit technology, especially before bed, and realize how relaxing it is to spend time reading, writing, talking, or petting a pet instead.

6. Sit outside for 15 minutes a day and ideally go walking outside for 10-15 minutes a day. This sitting outside is the perfect time to hold your pet on your patio and brush them down so that fur is not floating around your house. Brushing hair is very therapeutic. So you get nature, time with your pet, sunshine, and a cleaner house as a result all with one tip!

I hope that you’ll utilize at least one tip on this list and start enjoying the benefits of a minimalist mindset today. It really isn’t your fault that you can’t do it all. Minimalism boils life down to the essential elements, and those parts are a lot easier to keep up with when they stand alone. I am hoping for a calm holiday season for you and a great 2017 to come.


Technology gets a good amount of criticism; some of it deservedly. It is easier to disappear into pleasure through entertainment and to self-indulge now more than ever. No longer does it require any great deal of work or expense to entertain ourselves and no longer are we left with just our own thoughts or sleep. There is a source for all niches, and so very little focus or examination is encouraged.

A friend asked, “How can I cut back on technology? What are the parameters to set?”

Before making films, this was easy for me. I would set aside one day in the week where I would touch no technology (Saturdays), and I would leave my phone on the nighstand throughout the week. I rarely would leave the house with my phone since the stores were close by or I would be with someone with a phone.

If your job involves technology and keeping abreast of the news of the day or email, it is easy to get sucked back in. One of the biggest benefits I realized from leaving the freelance world was having to no longer check email continuously. Anyone who has worked in the corporate world knows the anxiety of dealing with email and voicemail constantly. (Possible solution: Only check email twice a day.)

We need to carve out space for idealism, for our own little slice of paradise. We need room for dreaming and thinking, for being kids again sitting on the grass beneath odd-shaped clouds. It is easy to lose a sense of wonder in the world of technology. There were days when we let our imaginations wander on bike rides or while dressing up. Remember when everything was new? Why let adulthood rob you from what made life at one time flow? Take in scents again with wonder, the smell of makeup, of the rain pouring down, or of your pet.

Into the past:

At one time, air travel was full of thought and reflection. Technology can aid in relaxation and knowledge, but what we need to be cognizant of are the places that it takes away from relaxation and knowledge. We need to highlight the forms of technology that do not add, whether it’s Facebook or a smartphone.

How can we gain knowledge of ourselves if every plane ride is accompanied by back-to-back movies? How can we find time to read when new engrossing movies are competing against plain simple words on a page?

There are purer forms of technology than others. A blog format. A simple playlist. Places like Wikipedia are excellent portals into the past.

In the case of minimalism, we have to decide between variety and simplicity, between efficiency with technology or encouragement of staying in the present with a hard copy.


It is easy to get distracted, but we periodically must stop and ask:
What is it that I want out of life?
Which forms of media provide benefit to living?
How much is reasonable?

For me, the forms that provide the most benefit are:


Favorite technology tools:

television (for movies)

(When it comes to technology tools, list them in order of which you use the most, then write down a number of how many hours you spend on each one. Consider adjusting the order and hours to more or less by taking action and getting closer to the ideal for you.)

The forms that take away are too numerous to list, but among the top are television and magazines. I don’t find them useful or simple, and they are on the way out or taking on new forms because other people feel the same.

Even though my career involves politics, I take a break from the news. I even take a break from YouTube once a week. These simple days are taking the best parts of the past and adding them into today.

If you had to describe minimalism in one word, it would be “examination.” Examine everything that takes time out of your day. Consider the time you want to spend on each option available to you. Everything is competing for your time, but not everything is worth it.

One Hobby


Having only one is a minimalist philosophy. One drink. One cleaner. One jacket.

When I started filming, I put away my paints to devote my focus and energy to what I knew was the most meaningful to me.

So it is in life, we are encouraged to click on one more thing, to read one more article to make us into the housewife or beauty maven we’ve always wanted to be, to save up for one more big purchase so that we can finally arrive, and to open our world in one more way (one more book, trip, or class). So we have bucket lists of other people’s dreams, and these lists are often extensive. Are we less of a man if we don’t try all things? We have mentors and friends that we love and look up to, and their dreams start to become ours. But who are we?

It’s times like these that we need to step back and find solitude for just one moment. What utility do I get from each possession? From each type of technology? From each dream?

I enjoy having one hobby for now, and maybe the perfect number of hobbies will one day for me be three. All that is encouraged is to examine, not to perfect, to live a life that we actually want. It is so hard to find out what that is, since now it is easy to replace our personal thoughts with technology; which, unlike books, which is also someone else’s thoughts, technology entertains more than it informs. We can find our way by quieting our surroundings and examining the present and our past.

When it comes to travel, beauty, career, and books, see that all of your dreams and actions fit you. There is no need to have it all because there is nothing more stressful than having all things. There is calm and focus in just one. Relaxation and productivity are the easiest to attain in serene surroundings with a minimal calendar. There is nothing wrong with idealism. There is something beautiful and rare about moving closer to the person we always were deep down and who we were always meant to be. What is so hard is to live a lifestyle where we just exist, a life without reflection. Let yourself have many moments to dream and to think freely.

Minimalism in one word is examination. But if I had to choose a second word, it would be peace.

Economical Minimalist Kitchen


One of my favorite types of posts across all minimalist sites is the notorious list of items they own. I like making lists and reading them, and I know I’m not alone.

Minimalism is divided into domesticated minimalism and extreme minimalism. Extreme minimalism is generally for those who are in debt or college or for those who like to travel. Domesticated minimalism is a lot more comfortable and is generally more colorful. It is easier to get others in the household on board with domesticated minimalism because it’s not as much of a challenge as it is just being selective.

There are many reasons for minimalism, but when it comes to the kitchen, the primary benefits are that it aids health and makes preparing food and cleaning a breeze. It encourages a clean kitchen and eating at home.

Today’s post will just be on kitchenware, not on organizing products. But if you’d like to see all my organizing products, you can watch my Kitchen Tour.

I bake very little (for health and convenience), but with just a few baking items, I can still make the majority of baked goods. If you limit baking and drink only water, you can cut kitchenware by up to 25%, and your health will greatly improve.

This is a good list for those not only looking to downsize, but for those who want to build up their kitchenware economically — a bachelor, newly wed, or college grad.

The Basics:

cups (one size)
cutting boards
chef knife


mixing bowls
2 saucepans
kitchen shears

Brita filters


serving spoon
can opener
measuring spoons


measuring cups (for baking)
6-cup muffin tin
cooling rack
roasting pan
baking spatula
cookie sheet

Not Necessary (but still keep):

spoon rest
cherry pitter
rice spatula

Other Possibilities (not in my kitchen):

baking dish
nonstick pan
cast iron
recycling bins

Coming Up:

pantry staples
kitchen organizing products

Top Clean With Me Hacks


General tips:

Own as few cleaning products as possible and store them together.
Elevate as much as possible (furniture and cleaning products).
Use only the carpet setting on your vacuum, even when on tile.

Minimize possessions to make cleaning easier. (More items block dust from the floor, which makes cleaning more difficult.)
Declutter > organize > clean.
Carry things to put back in a laundry basket to prevent multiple trips.
Store things where they’re easy to put back, not take out.

Try the one-touch rule.
Make a weekend chore chart, if you choose to do the majority of things on the weekend, and do the things that take the longest first.
Store loose possessions near each other so they’re easy to put back; i.e., in main closet.
Examine and adjust systems accordingly.
Personalize cleaning routine: Adjust weekly and daily workloads accordingly.
Make a list of oddball chores so that you know your workload before you start. Organize your chores in the most efficient way possible (start laundry first).

Cleaning and mindset:

Cleaning gives confidence and allows for visual progress, just like makeup, which boosts mood and productivity.
A clean environment allows for both relaxation and productivity; it maximizes your space.
Best days stop clean: Saturdays. Gloomy, rainy, and unproductive days.
Make cleaning enjoyable: Let the sun in. Put on music. Use cleaners that have a natural scent. Do what you like to do the most first.
Enjoy the free exercise that cleaning provides.
Motion does more than cleaners, so use naturally scented cleaners, which boosts mood.
If you clean often, you can clean with just water, or water and vinegar.
Time yourself, to give perspective.

Watch my cleaning hacks video for my favorite products in action.

Behind Melody


Most of my posts are not personal, but this one is. I grew up poor, as most people throughout history and even many people in First World countries today do. Albeit, poor in the US is not the worst you can do.

On the day that I was born, my parents were on welfare. We lived in a bad neighborhood in a single room. My grandma struggled with hoarding (as many of us who have gone without do), so my mother did as well, which made our space feel tighter. This is not to focus on a sad story about bullying or college debt or anything like that. This is an inspirational story because there’s a way out.

Upon entering college, I could not boil an egg or make rice. I did not know how to select linens, properly fold them, or how often to change them. It is difficult for families to pass down what they did not know or have themselves, especially since the poorer the family, the more stretched thin they are. So how can you find time to tie down loose ends?

I began to realize that poverty is not that bad if you have skill to compensate, but I didn’t have skill. It took me five years of studying, trying, and talking to grandmas and mothers. I knew that I wanted to be the best I could be at the small things. I wanted to find the best, fewest products to run a home well. I wanted to be a modern housewife; I wanted a career too.

Over time, my weaknesses developed into a desire to create a resource blog and to film so no one would have to go through the lengthy process of trial and error, perhaps never finding the ideal way or product.

I wanted any bachelor, any kid no matter their background, any college student, any woman in a bad relationship, to be able to do everything that involves simple living, from making money, paying bills, to hanging pictures, cooking, and cleaning. Do these things and do them as well as they can be done because confidence is important in regards to independence. Sometimes cultivating confidence involves makeup, a career, a nice wardrobe; sometimes it doesn’t. But whatever it takes, I wanted to cover the basics so that every person could have confidence in themselves and be free.

We are not really free on the day we are born, but with the right mindset (positive, independence of thought) and with developed skill over time, we make ourselves free even when we are under someone else.

I hope that I can save somebody from spending years of their life on what seems like the trivial day-to-day things and on worry. I hope that you can streamline and maximize your life so that you can get to what really matters to you. Maybe, like me, what really matters ends up being the towels and cooking. These are the small things, but not to some of us. Wherever you are, I know you can thrive in minimalism.

When it comes to blogging and filming, you are constantly reminded that you are not alone in pursuit and passion, that there are thousands of minimalists and spouses that love their families and want to be the best they can be. This is the best realization in the world, that you are not alone. None of us are an island. Thank you for joining me.

Top Cleaning Tips and Cleaners


I will have more posts coming up on a great minimalist daily cleaning routine, weekly, and deep clean. I will have videos to accompany them. In this post, I wanted to cover my all-time top cleaning tips and cleaning products before I start the Clean With Me series. Cleaning items are divided in two: products and tools.

Top Tips:

1. Make a designated wishlist on Amazon just for products you buy regularly.
2. Limit DIY cleaners. Instead, buy less cleaning products and use less of the ones that you do buy because they’re potent.
3. Stay away most eco cleaning agents; i.e. just buy a lemon for the few times you’ll ever need lemon juice to clean something.
4. Use a bucket with vinegar under the sink and water so that rags don’t smell before putting them in the wash.
5. Use vinegar to freshen laundry and drains.
6. Use rubbing alcohol to clean electronics, like in-ear headphones.
7. Reuse Method bottles with a 50/50 vinegar and water spray, great for mirrors.
8. Put baking soda in a container that it is easy to pour out of, for drains and tubs.
9. Do NOT use baking soda for counters or floors.
10. Use a magic eraser to make Crock-Pots sparkle.
11. Use just hand soap if you have a dishwasher. Liquid soap is great for cleaning floors, some stains, tubs, and counters.
12. Buy paper towels, toilet paper, and dishwasher pods on Amazon.
13. Use a grout brush to get caked-on food off of counters and floors before wiping them down.
14. Use microfiber cloths on the bottom of your Swiffer.
15. You only need a small dustpan when you own a cordless vacuum; no broom necessary.
16. Keep cleaning products in as few places as possible.

Top products:

Method all-purpose
generic eco soap (hand)
unscented dishwasher pods
unscented laundry detergent
paper towels pick-a-size

magic eraser
hydrogen peroxide 3% – first aid
rubbing alcohol 91% – first aid
baking soda
salt – kept in kitchen

Top tools:

cordless vacuum
microfiber cloths
Casabella grout brush
Casabella dish brush
generic scrubbing brush
Oxo squegee

Best cleaning tools and tips video.