Here’s How Take-Out Food is Harming the Environment

coffee-drink-2433133_640Hey Everyone,

Hope you’re all doing well!

We all know that most of the take-out food that we purchase from restaurants (to eat at home or in the office) is bad for our health. However, research has shown that our take-out habit is also harmful to the environment as well.

For example, here in the U.S. if you go to your local fast food place to order some food to go, you will notice that along with your order, you will receive lots of extra napkins, plastics, utensils, paper or plastic bags, and packaged condiments.

Some of the extra stuff that comes with take-out is recyclable however, most of it is just waste. These bags and wrappers may seem insignificant, but here in the U.S. packaging makes up the largest category of local waste.

On top of this, single use items such as napkins, plastic utensils, etc. make up 10 percent of all waste. Obviously, the problem is not just limited to take-out food.

The larger problem is that 29 percent of our greenhouse gas comes from how we make, consume, and dispose of stuff. It takes a lot of energy to make single use items that we only use for such a short amount of time and we then trash out.

Without a doubt, recycling is great but for the sake of global sustainability our long term goal should be focused on minimizing our waste by reducing the amount of single use items we use and focusing on using reusable items.

Quick Tips:

There are a few important steps that we as individuals can take to reduce our waste. The following are just a few of the examples.

  • A large number of universities and hospitals have started using reusable take out containers for people who eat at their cafeteria. The way it works is that once you enter a cafeteria you check out a reusable food container (much like you check out a book from the library) you use it and once you have finished your meal you return the container to a designated area so they can wash them. It definitely may take a while for this to become a widespread trend but if you’re going out for a meal consider taking your own reusable container so you can store your leftovers in it.
  • Plastic water bottles are a huge problem. Around the world people buy around one million plastic water bottles every minute and most of these eventually land in the landfill or in the ocean. Without a doubt, if the only thing that we all do is start carrying a BPA free reusable water bottle, we would be significantly decreasing the amount of waste.
  • When you go shopping consider taking your own reusable shopping bag to reduce the use of plastic bags. Here in California we have a law that requires this because it now costs 10 cents for each plastic bag. At first, I have to admit, it was inconvenient but as time has gone by we have become used to it.
  • You can often cut the amount of packaging by buying stuff in bulk.
  • When at home stop using disposable plates. I actually know a few people who use disposable plates at home because they feel it is easier and they feel that they are saving water. I live in drought stricken California so I understand their point but I think that the amount of waste that accumulates in the long term is not worth the potential water saved.
  • In the kitchen, many people suggest using cloth instead of paper towels. I admit I don’t do this as much as I should but this can definitely help cut back on paper towel and napkin waste.
  • If you get a lot of junk mail in your mailbox consider calling and cancelling as much of it as possible. I know that this is inconvenient but in the long term you will reap its benefits. Once again, I have to admit I don’t do this but I do try to make good use of the junk mail by using it as a cover under my birds cage to hold their droppings. I need a sheet of paper each day for them so instead of using other paper I use the junk mail.
  • Finally, a lot of people suggest buying used clothing and other products instead of new ones. Consider visiting your local thrift store and you might be surprised at what you can find! I once found a small Burberry bag for $3 at my local thrift shop. Of course, now thanks to technology their are a lot of online options as well!

These were just a few of my suggestions so please feel free to let me know of any recycling or reusing tips that you may have in the comments section below!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

Three Goal Setting Tips for the New Year

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

If you’re anything like me, as New Year’s approaches, you get excited and come up with at least a few New Year’s resolutions but soon after the New Year you give up on or forget about your New Years resolutions.

If you think about it, New Years resolutions are like goals that we set up for ourselves and of course, our goals are whatever we are trying to accomplish.

It is very important that we never give up on setting goals for ourselves because psychological studies have shown that people who set goals for themselves perform better on tasks in comparison to people who have not set goals for themselves.

Setting goals can definitely lead to improved performance but only if we set the right type of goals. In order to be effective, each goal has to be moderately difficult, specific, and in harmony with your own needs and desires.

Make Sure Your Goals are Moderately Difficult

As you have probably guessed, goal difficulty is based on how hard it is to accomplish the goal. Research has shown that the more difficult a goal is the better performance outcome it will likely have. The reason behind this is because more difficult goals require more effort and persistence. The more difficult the goal is the more effort you have to put into achieving it. Difficult goals also enable us to become persistent because we are motivated to keep working towards our goal and constantly putting effort into the goal until we finally achieve it.

Obviously, I believe that goals should be moderately (and reasonably difficult) for example, I, as someone who is pretty lazy and can barely climb a hill, should probably not count on climbing a mountain anytime too soon.

Make Sure You are Setting Specific Goals

It is also really important to set really specific goals that tell you exactly what you need to do. Let’s say that you have an upcoming exam and your goal is to simply study a lot. It’s a great goal to have but its not a very specific goal because studying a lot can mean different things to different people. A better alternative would be to plan out the steps you need to do such as read the chapter, take notes, review the notes, etc. Specific goals are really helpful because they take away any ambiguity and help us focus our attention on what we need to do in order to reach our goal.

Set Goals that You Believe In:

Finally, when it comes to setting goals make sure that you are setting goals to accomplish things that you are genuinely interested in and/or things that you feel will truly improve your life. Do you want to lose weight? If you’re thinking about a future career do you want to be a doctor? When setting goals consciously ask yourself, do you really want to accomplish this task or is this something that society respects. Not everything that society respects is bad or wrong but we need to make sure that we preserve our own individuality as well!

Goal setting is such a huge topic and this is just the tip of the iceberg but I hope these tips are of some help to you the next time you want to set a goal!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

 

Christmas 20 Questions Tag

christmas-2947257_640Hey Everyone,

Hope you’re all doing well!

I would like to thank my very sweet blogger friend Kate from the lovely blog Becoming Rivera for tagging me in her 20 Christmas Tag Questions post. If you haven’t already, make sure to visit her lovely blog and show her some love!

I am so excited that she tagged me because even though I don’t celebrate Christmas, I still love the holiday season and all the festivities that occur during this time of the year.

I personally celebrate Eid which is a Muslim holiday that occurs twice a year and each Eid celebration lasts for three days. Because Muslims follow the lunar calendar each year the day that Eid starts varies a little.

The first Eid is immediately after the month of Ramadan, in which Muslims fast and don’t eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. The second Eid is around two and a half months later and it is a celebration to commemorate the Hajj pilgrimage. For this year, both the Eid holidays have already passed.

Since Christmas is coming up I will answer each of the 20 questions from my perspective on Christmas and if I have anything to share about Eid I will share that as well.

1. Use one noise to describe how excited you are for Christmas?

For me personally, the sound of Jingle bells is associated with Christmas and whenever I hear a song that relates to Jingle Bells I know that Christmas is coming soon!

2. Do you open any presents on Christmas Eve?

Even if I did celebrate Christmas I think I would probably never open any presents on Christmas Eve, because I think that one of the many things that makes Christmas special are the presents and gift exchanges.

Eid: In my family the adults don’t exchange gifts during Eid but they do shower the children with gifts and as a child I remember that my Eid gifts were always given on the first day of Eid.

3. What holiday traditions are you looking forward to most this year?

What I love about Christmas is that all of my family members including my aunts and cousins are off from work so we have a chance to meet up and spend some much needed family time.

Eid: Whenever possible I love to spend time with my extended family during Eid. However, here in the U.S. sometimes this is difficult because if Eid comes in the middle of the week then its hard to request a day off from work and so sometimes not everyone is able to make it to the gathering. Sometimes if it does come during the week we try to celebrate it the following weekend.

I have to mention, that one of the things that I love about the Eid after Ramadan is that I get to eat again after a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset!

4. Is your Christmas tree real or fake?

I feel like I am the type of person that would use a fake Christmas tree just because I assume that this would be the cheaper option and maybe if its small enough I could keep it and use it again next year.

5. What is your favorite Christmas movie?

To be honest I don’t have one in particular that I would consider to be my favorite. But in general I do love watching Christmas movies because most of them are wholesome and family friendly which I think is great. This year, I have had some more free time so I have really been enjoying watching a number of different Christmas movies including Netflix’s A Christmas Prince.

6. Where do you usually spend your holidays?

Our holidays are always spent with the extended family. Most often we meet at either our house or my grandmothers house.

7. What is your favorite Christmas song?

Definitely Feliz Navidad

8. What is your all time favorite holiday food/sweet treat?

Any type of cookie. They used to call me the cookie monster when I was a kid. I like to enjoy a cookie with a cup of warm green tea.

9. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeers?

No its been such a long time since I’ve heard their names.

10. Be honest, do you like giving gifts or receiving gifts?

To be completely honest, I do like receiving gifts a little bit more. But its just because I think that giving a gift is something that takes some thoughtful thinking like I am always at least a little worried about whether the person is going to like my gift or not.

Of course, when giving gifts it is the thought that counts.

11. What is your favorite thing about Christmas?

I love the fact that during Christmas time there is a positive vibe and I love that the mood is often very festive and joyous. I think that the same is true for Eid. And of course, I love that we get to spend time with the extended family.

12. When do you first get excited for Christmas?

I get excited for the holiday season when I start seeing Christmas decorations at my local stores.

Eid: During the last few days of Ramadan I get excited for the Eid festival.

13. What is the best Christmas gift that you have ever received?

One time a friend gave me some creams, lotions and body spray from Bath & Body Works and it came with an adorable tote bag.

Eid: In my culture most children are given cash for Eid and as a child I was given my fair share of cash. However, one year an uncle gifted me a huge stuffed animal and that became my favorite Eid gift because not only was it unique but it was very cute and soft as well.

14. Are you a pro present wrapper or do you fail miserably?

I definitely am not a pro and to be honest I am quite lazy so I leave the wrapping to my mom who is definitely a pro.

15. As a kid, did a sibling ever receive a present that you wished was for you?

Thank God no this has never happened because I have two brothers who are a lot younger than me and our tastes are very different.

16. What would your dream place be to visit during the holiday season?

I have always lived in sunny southern California so I’ve never experienced the snow so I would really like to visit somewhere where I can see some snow!

17. Most memorable holiday moment?

One time during Eid my family had just finished eating and we sat and turned on the TV and we saw that there was a live concert of our favorite musician playing on the TV. It was exciting and very fun to watch a free concert in the comfort of our own home!

18. Do you make New Years Resolutions ? Do you stick to them?

I do but I usually just think about what things I want to change and/or improve but I get lazy and I don’t write them down so I often forget about them. However, I am working towards setting reasonable goals and hopefully this year I achieve some of them!

19. What makes the holidays special for you?

Without sounding too cliché I really do love all of the extra family time. I also love the lights and beautiful Christmas decorations and of course, the delicious food and sweet treats are definitely among my favorite things about the holidays.

20. You have been granted one Christmas wish…what will it be?

My beloved father has had some health issues this year and I hope that he regains his health.

I would like to tag any other blogger who sees this to complete their own Christmas 20 questions tag if they’re interested. I had a lot of fun completing this tag and I think these types of posts definitely help readers learn a little bit more about the blogger behind the blog.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to our Older Generation

Hey Everyone!

Hope you’re all doing well!

Whether its smiling, picking up and disposing a piece of trash, or opening the door for someone, I truly believe that small acts of kindness can go a long way.

I think that one act of kindness that is often overlooked is lending our ears to others and simply listening to them.

Obviously listening skills are a vital aspect of communication and they are an important skill to have in both our personal and professional lives however, in this post, I am referring to giving up a few minutes to listen to the elders in our families and communities.

Without a doubt, there is a strong chance that by listening to our elders we will reap at least some benefits from their stories. After all they have been on Earth longer than we the younger generation have and as a result they have gone through a lot of the ups and downs of life.

It is definitely true that in this modern day and age the circumstances of our lives have changed however, our core needs as humans have not changed and we can certainly apply some of the lessons they have learned through their experiences to our own lives.

Without going on a tangent, I think that our youth obsessed culture often fails to give our older generations the respect that they deserve. However, the point that I would like to emphasize is that by listening to our elders we may brighten their day and give them a sense of respect and worthiness that they may not have felt in a while.

In my personal experience, my grandparents and other elders would often tell me stories about their own youth and younger years. Many of these stories are interesting but as the storyteller ages their stories often become repetitive but I try to listen with patience and I would encourage you to do the same.

I often remember visiting my late grandfather and he would be sitting on his chair and looking lonely and sad. I would try to cheer him up by asking him to tell me a story about his younger days. And sure enough he would tell me about his days as a young CEO of a construction company in his hometown.

Often times these stories would go on for quite some time because he would describe everything in great detail.

I always noticed that after the story was over, my grandfathers’ face would seem much brighter and more joyful. Aside from my grandfather I have noticed a similar phenomenon in my other elders as well.

This experience of listening to elders has really opened my eyes to how much joy we can provide to someone by just listening to them. Of course, this is especially true of our elders. By listening, I mean truly putting our phones and other distracting gadgets away and truly giving the storyteller our undivided attention.

I think that sometimes we forget that many of these elders have had, prominent careers and rewarding relationships, and they definitely deserve to be respected and treated as a source of wisdom.

Ultimately, if we are fortunate enough to live a long life we will eventually grow older ourselves and by respecting and showing kindness to our elders now, hopefully when it is our time we will be shown the same kindness and respect.

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

How to Prevent and Treat the Common Cold

Hey Everyone!

pic

Hope you are all doing well! These past couple of days I have been a little sick with a cold (nothing too serious) but I am doing better now! I wanted to share some of my tips for fighting the common cold with the hope that it will be of some benefit to you!

Importance of Prevention:

There is a common saying that states that “prevention is better than the cure” and I honestly believe that this is absolutely true! There are a few simple steps that you can take to prevent the cold.

Sanitize

Always make sure to wash your hands with soap and water whenever you are near or come into contact with people who are sick. Also, whenever you touch anything in a public place make sure to wash your hands before the next meal and before washing your hands try to avoid touching your nose and mouth where germs can easily enter the body.

Obviously when you are outside it’s often hard to wash your hands on a regular basis so an alternative would be to carry a small pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer with you.

Vitamin C

C may not be the best grade but it is a great vitamin (okay sorry for that horrible joke 🙂 ) Anyways, research shows that vitamin C is great for the immune system and can help prevent the cold from turning into something more serious like pneumonia.

I have to admit that I am a bit lazy and I just take a Vitamin C supplement to get my daily dose of this vitamin.

However, in order to stay safe, it’s always best to try to get nutrients from your diet and supplements should really be used as a last resort. When we think of foods high in vitamin C we usually think of the citrus family such as oranges and lemons. Although this is true there are many other foods high in vitamin C. These include cantaloupe, broccoli, red cabbage, green pepper, red pepper, kiwi and tomatoes just to name a few.

Keep Warm:

This might seem obvious but when it’s cold or even just a little chilly outside its best to stay safe by wearing that extra layer to ensure that you stay warm! Funny story: A dear relative was telling me that when her kids were young she always told them to wear warm clothes on the cooler days but at the time they didn’t take her seriously. However, just a few days ago her daughter called her up to say that she was watching the news and the new scientific research does support her claim!

Zinc

Zinc is another nutrient that is great for strengthening the immune system. Research shows that zinc reduces the number of cytokines which can aggravate the body during a cold. Also, zinc increases the body’s white blood cell activity which is great for reducing the chance of getting a cold and other possible infections.

I do take a zinc supplement however, there are many foods high in zinc. Such foods include chicken, beef, beans (white beans, kidney beans and chickpeas), nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachios) and whole grains.

Other Helpful Foods:

Homemade chicken soup can be especially helpful in easing the symptoms of the common cold. Chicken contains cysteine which is an amino acid that can help thin the mucus and prevent your cough from worsening. Other ingredients such as onions and garlic that are added to the soup are beneficial because they are anti-viral and chicken soup as a whole is anti-inflammatory

Just one teaspoon of honey can help alleviate the cold. Honey is an antioxidant and it helps boost the immune system and additionally it also acts as a cough suppressant by breaking up the thick mucus.

Warm tea can be especially soothing when you are suffering from a cold. A warm cup of tea with added spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and ginger can help with decongestion and soreness that results from having a cold.

Additional Tip:

Despite your best efforts you will occasionally get a cold however, don’t fret! It’s best to know your body and try to recognize the first signs of a cold which can vary for each person. For me personally, a cold always starts off with a sore throat!

In my opinion the best strategy is to have always have some cold medication on hand and take it immediately when you notice any of the obvious cold symptoms. I honestly don’t know if any scientific research proves this tip but in my experience and the experiences of those around me this has been a very helpful strategy.

However, please be careful and take the medication exactly as directed on the package (or as described by your doctor). Also, please be aware that most cold medications contain acetaminophen which is a pain reliever and fever reducer. However, since this is a common ingredient make sure that you are not overdosing on this especially if you are taking more than one medication. Most experts recommend taking no more than 3,000 mg of acetaminophen a day.

These were just a few tips that have personally helped me and hopefully will help you too!

With Love,

Yasmin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Skin Care Tips

Hey Everyone,

Hope you’re all doing well!

I have been very hesitant about sharing my skin care tips on this blog because first of all I really don’t do anything too special or noteworthy but mostly I have been hesitant because I really believe that there is no such a thing as a magical product or set of products that will work for everyone. We all have very different skin care needs and what may work for one person may not work for another.

Even if we suffer from a common problem such as acne, there are a multitude of different causes of acne, and thus there likely is no single effective treatment and different treatments may work for different people.

Nowadays there are a lot of bloggers and YouTubers out there who promote various skin care products and I truly believe that the majority of these are well intentioned people and I believe that most of them are promoting products that have worked for them. However, I think that before rushing to buy the latest products it’s important to remember that just because it worked for that person may not mean it will work for you. Perhaps the best solution is to start looking at the ingredients that are used in various products and making a decision to purchase a product based on its ingredients.

The products that I am going to recommend below have worked for me but once again they may not work for everyone. However, before listing the products I think it’s important to mention a little about my skin. I have brown normal to slightly oily skin that is acne prone. I do feel that the products mentioned below have helped me control my acne.

Witch Hazel

I don’t wear makeup very often so I often do not use a facial wash or cleanser on my skin. I do wash my face with water but I just don’t use soap. Instead I use Witch Hazel poured on a cotton pad to clean the extra oil and impurities off my face. I do this every morning and every night.

What I love about Witch Hazel is that it is a natural product that is extracted from the bark and leaves of the Witch Hazel plant which is native to North America. Witch Hazel is a toner that cleans the skin without irritating it. Witch Hazel is reported to have antioxidants and it is anti inflammatory.

It has also been reported that Witch Hazel also helps constrict body tissues and blood vessels so I usually dab some under my eyes to prevent my eye puffiness from worsening.

Tea Tree Oil

After removing all of the impurities on my face with Witch Hazel I then use Tea Tree Oil as a spot treatment for my acne pimples. Tea Tree Oil (otherwise known as Melaleuca alternifolia) is derived from the leaves of the Tree Tree in Australia (this is different from the tea leaves that we drink).

Tea Tree Oil is antibacterial and anti inflammatory so it is beneficial for a wide range of conditions such as acne, fungus, and dandruff to name a few. Aside from the skin care and beauty industry, Tea Tree Oil is becoming a trendy ingredient in household cleaning products as well.

I personally only use Tea Tree Oil for my acne. In fact, studies have shown that using Tea Tree Oil for acne can be just as effective as Benzoyl Peroxide. Tea Tree Oil may take a little longer to work but it can definitely be an effective remedy for acne.

I use Radha Tea Tree Oil and I really like this brand because it is 100 percent pure Tea Tree Oil that is steam distilled. In the past I have tried other acne spot treatments with Tea Tree Oil as their active ingredient but unfortunately such products didn’t really work for me. I would honestly only recommend a product that has pure Tea Tree Oil.

I apply Tea Tree Oil every night. The one thing that I have to mention about Tea Tree Oil is that it has a very strong scent. I don’t really mind the smell but I know some people that absolutely hate the scent of it.

If you have an extra stubborn pimple that you really want to get rid of I would recommend using Neutrogena’s On the Spot Acne Treatment cream which has 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide and then topping this with some Tea Tree Oil directly on the pimple. In my experience this is a very effective treatment but I wouldn’t recommend it all the time because it can be very drying to the skin.

Eye Cream:

I definitely believe that taking care of the skin directly under your eyes is very important because this area is extra sensitive and prone to early aging. In my teens I started developing under eye bags and I believe that this is just something that is genetic and there is no non surgical way to get rid of them however, I do use an eye cream twice a day to prevent them from getting worse. I am currently using Baebody Eye Gel. This product is a bit on the pricier side but it lasts a long time and I like it because it feels very cool and soothing when I apply it in my skin and it also has a number of natural ingredients. It is a gel and not a cream or lotion so it might not be the best option for those with extra dry skin.

Moisturizer/Sunscreen:

I have to admit I am not that great at consistently using a sunscreen and moisturizer because I feel like if I put anything moisturizing on my skin, it will cause me to breakout. However, I think it all comes down to using the products that have ingredients that are non comedogenic and non irritating for your skin.

If I will be spending my day mostly indoors I use Amara Organics Aloe Vera Gel. I love this product because it’s not oily and it’s ideal for my acne prone skin. However, if you have dry skin I wouldn’t recommend this product because it’s not very moisturizing for dry skin.

If I know I will be in the sun I will put on Eucerin Daily Protection SPF 30 this is definitely more moisturizing but it’s still not excessively oily and I feel that it is suitable for my acne prone skin. My skin is sensitive to some active ingredients in sunscreens so this has been the only sunscreen so far that hasn’t irritated my skin because the main active ingredient is zinc oxide.

Once again, these products have worked fairly well for me and I wanted to share them with you with the hope that at least some of this information will be of benefit to you!

With Love,

Yasmin

Gratitude

gratitude-2939972_640Hey Everyone!

Hope you are all doing well!

The Thanksgiving Holiday is coming up very soon here in the United States. In keeping with the Thanksgiving spirit, I wanted to write a little about gratitude.

Gratitude means different things to different people. Some people may be grateful to God while others may thank the Universe still others may be grateful to the people in their lives. Some people may express their gratitude by counting their blessings while others may take a more active approach. Some people may express their gratitude simply by savoring the special moments in their lives and not taking anything for granted.

For me personally, expressing gratitude helps put things into perspective. Whenever I am going through an especially difficult time I try to think about everything and everyone that I do have and everything that is going right in my life. As cliché as it sounds I also try to think of those that are less fortunate. Thinking about these things really helps me put my life into perspective and often I realize that my problem is not that big of a deal or it could be a lot worse.

There are countless ways of expressing gratitude. Here are a few suggestions:

If you enjoy journaling/writing feel free to dedicate a few minutes to think of (and write down) three to five things that you are thankful for. These things can be very simple things and they don’t have to be grand or extraordinary.

If you would like, you can dedicate a small journal specifically for gratitude. If you feel that this strategy might be helpful for you try to do this on a consistent basis but don’t do it so often that it becomes a chore. Studies have shown that doing this once a week is especially helpful however, feel free to do it more or less often.

Alternatively, instead of writing feel free to sit down and simply think about everything that you are grateful for. Try to set a fixed time to sit and think about everything that you’re grateful for. Or, you could think of one unhappy or ungrateful thought and replace it with a grateful thought.

As another option, choose a friend or family member as your gratitude partner. Share with each other what you’re grateful for and if one of you forgets to express gratitude the other can remind them.

Are you grateful to someone or a group of people in your life? Then, express your gratitude directly to them. This can be done through a wide variety of means. However, studies have shown that this can be particularly effective when done through phone, letter, or face to face. I personally think that in this day and age of quick emails and text messages there is something extra special and sincere about taking the time to write and send a letter of gratitude to someone.

Interestingly, studies have shown that if you write a letter but for any reason you choose not to send the letter, you will still reap the well-being benefits of gratitude.

On a final note, feel free to choose only one of the above strategies. Don’t ever force yourself to do any of these (or other) gratitude exercises. Because expressing gratitude in a fixed and consistent manner may not suit everyone. However, I truly feel that even occasionally expressing gratitude can be helpful in putting things into perspective.

Also, If you choose a strategy and after a while it feels like a chore feel free to spice it up and try another strategy instead of this one.

With Love,

Yasmin