Your Zero Waste Living Starter Pack

Just imagine the packaging involved in every product you’re using. Now, multiply that with over millions of other people all over the world. That’s a lot of trash, isn’t it? Since we all want to save Mother Earth, let’s start minimizing the trash by doing some small, individual actions. How can you help reduce the million pounds of waste produced every day? Let’s take a look at these five products to kickstart your journey to zero-waste lifestyle.

  1. Menstrual Cup

Standard menstrual tampons and pads are typically made of plastics and does pile up in sewers and landfills after they are thrown away. Menstrual cups, on the other hand, are reusable products for up to 10 years, which therefore can help drastically reduce landfill waste. It is made of medical-grade silicone that’s not helpful to the environment but also safe for your lady bits.

  • Virgin Coconut Oil

We have all heard the wonders of virgin coconut oil. This multitasking product can serve as alternative to multitude of bottled products on you can usually find in your bathroom and even kitchen shelves. You can use it as healthy substitute to butter and cooking oil, as well as moisturizer, makeup remover and hair serum. Just be sure to grab one in reusable package.

  • Reusable Cloth Pantyliners

For those quite hesitant to use menstrual cups, there is another eco-friendly alternative you can use—reusable pads and pantyliners. These products are more absorbent than their disposable counterparts and feels more comfortable on the skin. Bonus point: they can last up to  five years with proper care and washing.

  • Shampoo Bar

Lather, rinse, repeat—we do that all the time using shampoo packed in plastic bottles. Unfortunately, millions of these bottles make their way into the ocean every day. Shampoo bars are recently developed with the goal to minimize household waste. Most of these products are made with biodegradable materials and does not come in plastic bottles and eventually becomes waste.

  • Reusable Cutlery and Straws

Plastic spoons and forks are the bane of takeaway food—and of single-use plastic problem in the planet.  Good thing you can do something to reduce production of such waste—by opting to use bamboo utensils. Yes, you will have to wash them after every use. But a minute or two of washing for your pair of utensils is no doubt a great exchange for lesser waste in landfills.

In the end, a low and steady pace wins the race. This major lifestyle change does not happen overnight, but small good choices adds up to make a big difference over time. Keep up the job of being an eco-warrior; every day gets better with your smart and eco-friendly decisions.

Reasons Why You Should Learn the Piano

In the past few years, initiatives and street piano movements like Play It Forward has helped promote the flourishing of music easily available for the masses. Some government schools even have put pianos in open areas around campus. But what does this actually lead to?

 Here are some reasons to try the piano out. Who knows? You might get to perform at a concert in the Esplanade Recital Studio, or even overseas.

Relatively easy to start with 

Piano can be a really good foundation when you’re starting to get into music. This is because you can get a picture of the notes, scales, and pitches as they are already displayed thoroughly. Learning the piano can also be thought of as an introduction to music theory because it gives the best impression of how music generally works. This is why you see kids as young sa 4 already playing the piano as their first instrument. It is also very easy to learn now in our time because of the internet. You can get lessons online or even watch videos on YouTube for free.

Helps with brain function

Learning to play the piano will improve the coordination between your body and mind. Just like with other musical instruments, playing the piano can help the signals between our hands, muscles and the brain establish better connections. The brain also gets quite the workout when we play piano. Our left and right hands are executing completely different movements from each other while the brain has to focus on both. As we improve, we get to better interpret and execute what we have learned through muscle memory and cognitive processing.

Helps with relaxation

It has already been established that playing music greatly reduces anxiety, blood pressure, and heart rate. For the piano specifically, the feeling that you get from pressing on the keys can be quite relaxing. Think about the time when you were so stressed out that you just want to press hard on certain things. You can somehow get that feel when playing the piano, but of course, in a much calming way. Playing on a traditional piano, though, can be especially satisfying as you can feel the vibrations of the strings as you press on the keys.

Makes you a better musician

If you didn’t learn piano as your first instrument though, learning it now can help make you a more well-rounded musician. The piano is already a pretty versatile instrument in itself and in almost every genre, a piano is being employed. Additionally, because the notes in the piano are already arranged in succession, this allows you to play the treble and bass clefs with both hands at the same time. This is something you cannot do with the guitar, for example. With the guitar, you can only play either the bass or treble clef at one time because you use one hand for the scales and the other for strumming.

Why You Should Stop Trying to Multitask

Singaporeans, like many other people around the world, like to be on their phones while walking. The dangerous part is, we do it all the time. Even while crossing the road! Multitasking doesn’t only spell dangers for us in the forms of accidents, it can also affect our mental well-being.

1. We’re not made to multitask

Our mind simply cannot focus on more than one task. Many people seem to think that they are great multitaskers, but as much as they take pride in this, it’s simply just an illusion. In fact, a study by the University of Utah showed that those who tend to do a single thing at a time scored better on an actual multi-tasking test because they were able to focus on the task they were given.

2. You make more mistakes

When we juggle between doing multiple tasks, it becomes normal to make more mistakes. This is simply because our brain becomes divided with doing too many different things at once. When this happens, the information that we process overlap with other information in another thing that we’re doing, leading to us making more errors. 

3. It slows you down

Now in connection to what was said earlier, you slow down because you now have more mistakes to fix. Even without taking the mistakes into account, it might take you longer to finish two projects when you’re switching back and forth between them compared to separately focusing on each one.

4. It dulls creativity

When we use our attention on too many things at one time, we exhaust our working memory.  Our working memory, in simple terms, holds the temporary information that we use to finish a task. If our working memory is spent, our brain doesn’t have time to “sit back” and put information together. This, as a result, dulls our capabilities to think creatively.  

5. Increase anxiety and stress

When we multitask, our body and mind gets stuck in high alert mode. When we’re doing a lot of things at once, making even just one mistake can snowball into bigger problems and giving us more stress. Especially if we’re chasing the clock, we get anxious and stressed out when things don’t go the right way. And most of the time the reason things don’t go right is brought about by our multitasking.

6. It can affect memory

You may think that multitasking helps you handle your work in the present, but as you get older, things won’t be the same. When we stop doing something and immediately shift our focus to another, it can mess up our short-term memory. Think about walking while looking at your phone, for example. You’re obviously going to miss critical information about your surroundings while you’re on your phone.

4 Easy Steps to Make Chocolate at Home

Chocolate: it’s healthy, it’s delicious, and it’s versatile in so many ways. You can eat it for an afternoon snack yourself, include it as filling in pastry, or add with other types of other confectioneries or even fruit for an extra-sweet treat.

All things chocolate come from the cacao tree’s fruit, which is a pod shaped like a football. Inside this pod are cacao seeds, which are much more valuable than the fruit itself.

Chocolate is also surprisingly easy to make at home, without the need for any fancy kitchen tools or equipment. All you need are the following ingredients:

  • Cocoa powder (2 tablespoons)
  • Sugar (1/2 cup)
  • Flour (1/4 cup)
  • Water (1 cup)
  • Butter (3/4 cup)
  • Milk (2/3 cup)
  • Powdered sugar (1/4 cup)

Once you have your ingredients, you’re set to makeyour own chocolate!

Instructions on Making Home-Made Chocolate

1. Mix the cocoa powder and butter in a processor (or do it manually in a container) until the resulting mixture reaches a paste-like consistency. Once done, add ¼ cup of water to a pan. Place the bowl on top of the water.

2. Place the mixture in the bowl and heat the water. Once the mixture reaches your desired temperature, remove the bowl from the pan and mix it again until it smoothens.  

3. Add sugar, flour, and milk to the cocoa-powder-and-butter mixture and continue to mix to ensure that lumps or air pockets do not form. (Make sure that the milk is at room temperature when you do this.)

4. Once the mixture appears smooth and uniform, pourthe mix into molds and place them in the fridge to harden for about thirtyminutes. Ta-da! You now have your very own batch of home-made chocolate.

What Goes With Chocolate

While chocolate is quite amazing on its own, it works even better when paired with other types of foods that make for the perfect afternoon snack.

Here are a few things that you can do with chocolate for an added twist to your favorite sweet treat:

  • Fruit in chocolate ganache – Because fresh strawberries and bananas paired with chocolate is never boring. If you have a more daring palate, you can even experiment with other fruits such as cherries, grapes, and even pineapple chunks.
  • Chocolate-caramel slice – With caramel and nuts, you can take it one step further by layering them on top of one another and letting them bake in the oven. Pair it with your favorite warm drink, sit back, and relax.
  • Chocolate-chip cookies – Harden your chocolate batch back into chips and add them to your batch of cookie dough. You can even play around with your chocolate recipe to give your cookies an extra kick.

What Makes a Superfood So Super?

You may have heard of news stories referring to the benefits that these foods provide to your body on the Internet, and more and more foods are being added to the list of these supposedly really healthy foods.

The term isn’t an official label, unlike what is classified as “organic” – any food can simply be given this classification of superfood.

What Superfoods Are

Superfoods are essentially food items that have a really high amount of nutrients, vitamins and/or minerals. They also contain other special properties, such as antioxidants, healthy fats, and special enzymes that lower the chances of different types of disorders and chronic diseases.

 Some examples of superfoods you probably already know about include fruits, vegetables, and honey. The first two are extremely high in antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients that your body needs in order to stay healthy. In fact, most of the fruits and vegetables you regularly encounter and consume already fall in this category.        

The next category is honey: not only does it notexpire, but it also has a high amount of antioxidants. The only downside tohoney is that it contains very little water, is highly acidic, and comes inmany different varieties, brands, and concentrations.

What Superfoods Aren’t

Superfoods, as much as they have their health benefits, they are not meant to be consumed alone. The same can be said for their nutrient content and value as they need to work in conjunction with other chemicals, nutrients, and enzymes in order for your body to use them effectively.

Superfoods should also not be substituted for a healthy and balanced diet, as well as a shift towards a healthier lifestyle. No matter how much of one type of superfood you consume, it would still not be enough to balance an unhealthy lifestyle or a diet that’s rich in unhealthy fat and high sodium content.

A healthy diet and lifestyle, along with lots ofwater, exercise, and rest, is what you really need to not just get in shape butalso to live longer. In fact, most dieticians would prefer to discuss “superdiets” instead of superfoods.


Should You Buy Them Anyway?

Ultimately, the answer on whether you should buy superfoods depends on whether you actually want to. The nutrients that they advertise are already found in existing healthy foods and even certain dietary supplements, from black raspberries, tomatoes, and broccoli, to walnuts, garlic, and even lentils and black pepper.

Hundreds of studies already show that certain foods that are high in vitamins, minerals, and other types of nutrients can help the body protect and repair itself, from replenishing damaged cells to preventing the formation of cancer cells and tumors.

5 Helpful Acrylic Painting Tips for Beginners

Acrylic is great for beginners for a lot of things. It’s cheap, water-soluble, and dries quickly, which makes it easier to handle than oil paints. These qualities also make it the most forgiving medium compared to others.

Here are five crucial tips for anyone looking to get into acrylic painting:

1. Don’t worry too much about the brushes.
When it comes to this medium, there’s no need to go overboard on expensive brushes. You can simply start with cheap brushes you can get anywhere and work your way towards a collection of them that you’re comfortable using.
This is because the drawback is with the paints themselves. Student-grade is fine to start with if you’re on a budget, but if you want a higher pigment level, artist-grade paints are the way to go.

2. Create families of colors.
You need to be precise when mixing paints to get the exact hue that you want, so having a good knowledge of the color wheel is a must for any beginning painter.

Different amounts of the primary colors mixed together gives different secondary colors and browns. For instance, red and yellow results in different hues of orange, and by adding a small amount of green in the mix, you get a wide range of brown and burnt umbers.

3. Paint in blocks of color.
One quality that makes acrylic painting forgiving for beginning painters also makes it a challenge to work with – and this said quality is its fast drying time.

You’ll have to work fast to get any textures or fix any mistakes that you’ve made on the canvas before the acrylic dries on the canvas. However, you can make painting much easier by starting with the largest blocks of color first before working towards the finer details.

4. Bring a water mister for outdoor painting.
Acrylics can dry out a little too quickly, so if you plan on painting using this medium outdoors, be sure to bring a lot a water mister and give your layers a light spray to keep slow down their drying time a little bit.
However, be careful when using water, as too much will make the paints too runny and feel more like watercolor instead. Paint under a shaded area as much as possible.

5. Always prime with gesso!
Whether you’re starting out your paintings on canvas or hardwood boards, what’s important is that you prime them before proceeding with your underpainting.

Acrylics are primed with acrylic gesso (not to be confused with traditional gesso), a type of white paint containing latex that provides a smoother, surface that’s resistant to leaching, which lets you push the paint around better.

(Disclaimer: this list is compiled in no particular order.)

4 Helpful Oil Painting Tips for Beginners

Oil painting has been around for a long time, and continues to be a popular medium because of its qualities, such as versatility and color.

While it seems easier to get started on oils rather than acrylics, the drawback is that the solvents you will be using are toxic. Oil paintings also take hours to dry and can be smudged easily if you’re not careful.
Here are a few helpful tips for beginners in oil painting:

1. Invest in high-grade paints and brushes.
This is where the difference between oil paint and acrylic starts. With oils, paintbrushes can be just as expensive as the paints themselves, and you will also need to shell out more for solvents and oils (linseed oil, safflower oil, etc.).

Oil paints also take a while to dry and can be pretty messy, which is all the more reason why you should take care of your brushes. Wipe them off with a rag after cleaning them off with turpentine or solvent.

2. Start small.
If you’re starting out with the medium, it’s usually a good idea to start with smaller paintings and sketches, and work your way through bigger canvases.

This serves a lot of purposes. When you’re only starting out, you need to develop your eye for color, composition, and your own sense of style. This is best done with a smaller painting as opposed to larger ones, which can be easily intimidating.

Smaller paintings are also cheaper to do since they require smaller canvases and use less paint, which means you can allow yourself to make mistakes and learn more as you improve.

3. Your workspace matters.
Being able to paint well also depends on the space you paint in. When you paint in oils, be sure to set up somewhere well ventilated (oil solvents and thinners can be toxic if you’re not careful) and well-lit, and with enough room for you to keep your paintings visible.

Organizing your workspace also keeps everything you need in one place and makes you want to paint more often. If you do, you’ll notice that your art will improve more rapidly.

4. Paint order is key!
Always start by priming your painting surface with gesso! This prevents the oil from seeping into the surface and lets your paint slide more easily.

Once your painting is primed, prepare a limited color palette (no need to use all colors at once – start with a painting of only one hue and its different shades) and start with an underpainting that consists of a color and an odorless turpentine substitute.

Use thinner paint and less oil in your first layers, and move to a greater ratio of oil to turpentine as you add layers and details in your details.

(Disclaimer: this list is compiled in no particular order.)

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