I'll be the first to admit it, I've never been good at throwing things away. I'm much better at attaching sentimental value to articles of clothing and old knickknacks that really should have been donated to Goodwill years ago. Eventually though, whether it's the dress you wore for your first day of high school, or that gorilla figurine you got for your 8th birthday, everything has to go.
This summer, I've learned that you shouldn't expect to clear it all out in one go. Shirts that are you "absolute favorite" at the beginning of the summer, become a waste of space by the time fall rolls around. At the end of the day, what you have to think to yourself is, if I was moving across the country tomorrow, what we be worth putting into storage or bringing with me. If you'd be able to life without it for a year, chances are, you don't need it.
Though I am in no means an expert in decluttering, here is my advice for how to decide what stays and what goes:
Have you worn in in the past year? If no, donate it or bring it in to a thrift shop.
Are you only keeping it because of sentimental value or because it's a present? Again, if you don't wear it don't keep it.
Do you feel anything less than the 100 emoji when you wear it ? Your clothes should always make you feel fabulous. If they don't, then they're not worth the closet space.
Look for redundancies. Unless you wear it every day, you don't need four of the same shirt. Try to cap it at two if its something basic and essential, like black tank tops or white shirts.
Certain items might be worth the storage space. I'm not saying to get rid of your favorite prom dress, or anything like that, but maybe you don't need every homecoming dress you wore for four years.
If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've probably noticed that new posts have been M.I.A. for the past week or so. Sorry about that, but in my defense, I've been busy exploring a state that I always thought I hated.
Growing up in the PNW (Pacific Northwest, for you East Coasters), the seed for California distain was planted in me at a young age and sprouted rather quickly. There are lots of reasons to hate on California. At the top of that list is their monopoly over society's perception of the West Coast as being strictly beaches and surfing. This is closely followed by the tendency for bands on tour to have the entirety of their West Coast stops be four different cities in California, evading the entire northern part of the coast.
Against my better judgment, and finding a lack of Seattleites in D.C., I became friends with a Californian, Hannah, in college. A summer trip was arranged, and I found myself boarding a plane to San Jose.
I've been to Southern California a few times, but this was my first time in the northern part of the state. As we drove into Santa Cruz, I wondered, Where is the smog? Where are the crazy techies that I blame for the gentrification of my beloved Seattle? I began to realize that maybe Northern California wasn't all that different from Washington.
Hannah and I stayed local my first day, exploring the small shops in downtown Santa Cruz and lying on a local beach that was far too cold for us to enjoy for more than an hour.
Day two was spent picking fruit in the morning before embarking on a photography adventure at a state park. I was promised that there would be dramatic, rocky cliffs, and the Pacific Ocean did not disappoint. With much hesitation, I found myself admitting that maybe Washington isn't the only pretty, nature-filled state.
On day three, Hannah had to work a shift at the local cupcake shop, Buttercup Cakes and Farmhouse Frosting (their vegan cupcakes are top-notch). I accompanied her downtown and sat in the back of the shop sending out fall internship applications for when I return to D.C. Who says vacations can't be productive?
Day four was our big city day, and we drove two hours north to San Francisco. Except for a brief overnight stay during a road trip town to Disneyland ten years ago, I'd never been to the Bay Area. Hannah parked in North Beach, and we began the afternoon with lunch in Cafe Sapore.
The summer after senior year has a bad habit of passing by too quickly. Maybe you spend all of it working at a summer camp, or you've been wrangled into a long family vacation, but before you know it, it's fall and you're moving into a dorm. No one is really prepared for the independence of college before they experience it. For most of us, it's our first time on our own, first time sharing a room with other people and first time living in a different state or city.
It can be easy to let the summer slip by, a blur of Netflix binge-watching and going-away parties, but amidst the late nights and even later mornings, there's a few things you ought to learn before you head off so that you don't annoy everyone that has to live on your floor (trust me, no one wants to clean up after you).
In a fast-paced world where everything is constantly go, go, go, sometimes you need a moment to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee. Not a latte, or something iced with a lot of sugar, but a good, old-fashioned, undiluted cup of black coffee.
Coffee is a delicacy. It's rich and full of flavors, it's aromatic, and frankly, underrated. When I first came to D.C., I was shocked by the lack of time people give their cup of morning joe. In a world where Dunkin Donuts is always poppin' and McDonalds is on every corner, why should people care about their coffee beyond trying to get the best caffeine rush for their buck?
To backtrack, I am a life-long lover of coffee. Blame it on my Seattle roots, but give me a nice, independent coffee shop and steaming hot cup of coffee without room for cream and I'll sit in the same chair for hours. I had my first full cup of coffee in fifth grade. At the tender age of 9, I was absolutely hooked. Sometimes this can prove to be a problem, as no one likes that pre-morning coffee headache. Every once in a while, I'll take a break, switch to tea and make it past the morning headache phase, only to find myself back in the coffee habit within a few weeks.
There are two factors that contribute to a perfect cup of coffee: the coffee itself and the coffee shop.
Now, I realize that it's perfectly acceptable to enjoy a cup of coffee at home, but the experience is completely enhanced when you switch up the location you drink it in.
In order to properly understand how to get the most out of your coffee drinking experience, it's important to first identify what the worst cup of coffee is. The worst cup of coffee is the one you drink to help pull you through an all nighter, the one that serves no purpose and provides no fulfillment other than making you stay away a few more hours. It is chugged, loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners and consumed over textbooks or your laptop.
The perfect cup of coffee is the opposite. It's your favorite type of roast, strong, and your companion for a long novel. It is consumed in a quaint coffee shop that is neither too big nor too small. There's local art on the walls, comfy chairs to slouch into and lively conversation. The perfect coffee shop is the best kind of environment for formulating ideas.
Now, lack of one or the other of these factors could entirely change the experience. For example, you could stumble upon the cutest little coffee shop with live music and beautiful art– only to discover their coffee is weak and lacks the rich flavor you wanted. Or vise versa, you could have the most delectable cup of coffee, but if the coffee shop is blaring loud music, has generic decor and is half-empty, it's hard to really savor the experience.
This is why it is important to explore coffee shops. Think of it as a quest to find a cup of happiness. Just because all your friends like one place, or everyone is raving a new hot place in town, doesn't mean it'll be the right fit for you. All coffee drinkers are unique– we each have flavor preferences, preferred drinks and different ambient desires.
For example, when I'm back in Seattle and want to write, I'll go to Caffe Umbria in Ballard because I love their Americano and you can always find inspiration from watching the people who pass by; however, if I want to read, I'll go to Cloud City Coffee in Mapleleaf becuase it's well-lit and has a nice, open atmosphere.
When trying out coffee shops, it is important to consider many factors. Don't limit your options based on past experiences. Tastes change, baristas change and one's purpose for a coffee shop changes as well.
It is also important to note that you may not find the absolute best cup of coffee, but if the coffee shop is to die for, then it's okay to find a compromise between the coffee and location. The best cup of coffee I ever had came from Nicaragua. I purchased a bag of espresso roast (that has slowly been dwindling) from a coffee bean farm. Regardless of how ridiculously perfect this coffee is (honestly the chocolate undertones and strong flavor are nothing short of perfection), I still find myself opting to go to coffee shops. I know the coffee at a coffee shop will not be as good as the cup I could make at home; however, the coffee shop atmosphere is worth slightly compromising my ridiculously high coffee standards.
It might take you a day to find the right combination of coffee shop and coffee – it could take years – but in the end, it's all worth it. Never give up hope because the perfect cup of coffee is out there, waiting for you. You just have to get out of Starbucks and go find it.
Everyone is afraid of something. In fact, most of us are afraid of a lot of things. Whether it's something completely irrational, like Gollum (which was a very real fear of mine for a ridiculously long amount of time), or something more practical, such as spiders, the dark, or being alone (wow, I know, I'm getting deep with this one), we all have fears.
Now some fears probably benefit us; they make us think in precautionary ways that are probably the best for our overall safety; i.e., locking the house at night, not drinking polluted water, but the most of them are, quite frankly, a waste of time. How many times have you avoided telling someone something because you were afraid of what they would say, or even worse, what they wouldn't say?
If we chose to let fear determine all of our choices, we might miss out on some truly great life experiences such as driving a car, or taking that 3 a.m. metro ride back to campus. And how boring would or lives be if we never did anything exciting? How can you expect to ever really experiences the joys of life if you don't take that leap past your comfort zone?
If you haven't already been able to tell, I'm a big fan of food. Everyone should be a fan of food, it literally helps your body function and makes you stay alive. If you aren't already, go out and become a fan of food.
When thinking about food, it's important to distinguish between what is food and what isn't. Chemicals, artificial flavoring, color dyes? Not food. Vegetables, nuts, grains? Food. I think the most common way people lose track of a "diet" (a diet is literally what you eat, there is no such thing as "going on a diet" you're always on a diet, okay sorry rant over) is because of a lack of understanding of one's body. Here's something important: oils, sugar, and salt are addictive. Chances are if you're craving french fries and oreos, you need to get back in touch with your body.
Recently, whenever I've found myself wishing for a cookie or wanting to bake a tray of brownies, I've referred to a "favorite food" list I made, and opt for something on there instead. This way, I'm still getting to eat something I want, but I'm not putting more artificial things in my body.
Everyone should make a favorite foods list. Trust me, it changes your life. There's nothing better than driving home from work knowing that when I sit down at the dinner table, I can grab an apple and peanut butter. And it's really as simple as just choosing a few items on your list to grab every time you go to the grocery store, plus it's fun because you get to switch it up a little every time!
And before you say, "but Aubrey, you don't understand, chocolate ice cream is my favorite food," take a minute to really think about what foods make you feel happy after eating them. Write them down. Next time you're craving a second scoop, try eating something on your list instead. Trust me, it tastes just as good.
I think our obsession with unhealthy foods stems from this mistaken belief that they're "easier." That it's easier to heat up some tater-tots than actually make a salad. That's why I think having a favorite foods list is so successful. It's not a recipe, it's as convenient and easy as grabbing an item out of your fridge.
Okay so now that I've hyped it all up, here's my list of favorite foods:
I love when people I know visit Seattle. There's something special about the city and it's distinct personality that requires actually visiting it to understand. No matter how many times I talk about the turtle log at Green Lake, or talk about constantly having mountain views, people don't really get it until they finally take the trip to the northwest corner of the United States.
A few days ago, my friend Mara came up from California to Seattle for the time to take her sister to UW orientation. So this is how, with the limitations of a college student budget and a time constraint of six hours, she got to see Seattle while avoiding the tourist traps that drive everyone from around here crazy (I'm lookin at you, Ride the Ducks Tours).