personal · zero waste

my menstrual cup experience (TMI warning!)

If talking about periods makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip this post ;). Otherwise, prepare for some TMI.

I was first introduce to the menstrual cup about a year ago from a friend who was just starting to use it. She showed me this video, which does a pretty good job of highlighting what to expect.

Even though menstrual cups aren’t that expensive, I wasn’t ready to spend $25 on something I had a high chance of giving up on after one try. I knew it would take at least a couple of cycles to perfect and I wasn’t ready to make that commitment.

When I turned 30 this past August, I decided to kick my zero waste efforts up a notch by working on having zero waste periods. So I finally took the plunge and bought the pink LENA cup in small.

My first time I using it was a disaster. I had a really hard time getting it in – I couldn’t get a good grip on any of the folds so sometimes it’d pop open before it was completely in. And once it was in, I couldn’t really tell if it opened all the way or if it was positioned correctly. But when I’d see how much blood had leaked onto my pantyliner, I knew I was doing something wrong. Taking it out the first time was just as (if not more) challenging as putting it in. I remember it was suctioned so securely and so far up, I started to panic a little. But once I “bared down” (i.e. relax as if you were going number 2), the cup lowered enough to where I was able to grab the stem and wiggle the cup down even further. Once I was able to reach the bottom of the cup with my index finger and thumb, I squeezed the bottom to “pop” the suction and slip it out. I rinsed it with warm water and slipped it back in for another try.

The next few cycles were pretty similar. Some days it wouldn’t leak much (or at all) and I’d think I was getting the hang of it. Other days it would leak so much I’d have to keep changing my pantyliner. I couldn’t consistently get it to not leak.

The breakthrough came during my last cycle. I finally decided to try to find my cervix, which I was really squeamish about. I didn’t expect to feel it because I assumed it was really high up (inside me) but when I reached in, I was able to feel it pretty quickly and clearly. Feeling it helped me visualize what my cup would look like if it was suctioned properly below it. Between my last cycle and this cycle, my friend (the same friend who introduced me to the cup) also showed me this video, which helped me realize I was always trying to insert the cup straight up instead of at an angle.

During my most recent cycle, I only had one instance where I leaked and I’m pretty sure it’s because I inserted it straight up again so it didn’t suction properly. Once I reinserted it at an angle, I didn’t leak any more.

For those of you who are going to be trying a menstrual cup for the first time (or if you’re having a hard time perfecting it), my main tips are:

  • Try it for the first time when you’ll be at home for a long period of time. It makes dealing with leaks and reinserting it over and over again a lot easier. You don’t need the stress of someone wondering why you’re in the bathroom so often or for so long.
  • Try to find your cervix when you’re on your period so you have a better idea of what you’re try to work around/contain. Yes, your hands will get dirty. Yes, it’s kind of gross at first. But you’ll get over it pretty quickly. The reason why I say try to find your cervix when you’re on your period is because I think it’s lower during your period (at least for me it is). I can’t reach my cervix when I’m not on my period.
  • Try different folds. I like the punch fold the best.
  • Try to pop it open as soon as the tip is in. I feel like doing this makes it impossible for your cervix to be outside of the cup.
  • Slip it in at an angle, NOT straight up. When I tried slipping it in straight up, it was very difficult and not very smooth (almost like I was trying to force it in). Now that I have the angle down, once I get the tip in, the cup literally gets “sucked” up.
  • My biggest tip is: DON’T GIVE UP! I don’t think anyone gets it perfectly their first cycle. I think part of the reason is because we’re not that comfortable touching our lady parts (especially when we’re on our periods!) so the first few tries are more about getting more familiar with your body.

evacuation checklist

{pc: LA Times}

All the fires going on in southern California right now have made me think (once again) about what I would do if I had only 10 minutes to evacuate my home. About 25% of our office is out today because they either have be on standby for evacuation or they just have no way of getting in because of all the freeway closures.

Since I’ve thought about this before, I currently have an evacuation checklist inside my desk drawer. A checklist is handy because when you have to grab things in a rush, you’re likely to forget something that was important even though it seems like common sense now – like your passport. My checklist has the following items:

  • our accordion file that has our car titles, passports, my citizenship certificate, our marriage certificate and other important documents
  • our memory box that has our engagement photos, wedding photos, all the letters & cards James wrote me and other sentimental items we’ve collected over the last 10 years
  • the watch that my mom gifted James on our wedding day
  • my engagement ring (if I wasn’t wearing it already)

I’ve also thought about scenarios where I don’t even get a chance to evacuate my home because either the fire was so sudden or maybe I just can’t get to my home because of street/freeway closures. To prepare for this, I started scanning a lot of the documents on my checklist and uploading photos onto Flickr. I’m not done digitizing and backing up everything but I definitely feel the urgency to finish this sooner than later.


master bathroom remodel

James calls this bathroom “my bathroom” because if it was his bathroom, it would look completely different.

As you can probably tell by now, I’m a big fan of marble. It’s minimal and timeless.

Literally every part of this bathroom is new so there’s not a whole lot to explain. The before and after photos say it all:

{before – so many wall mirrors!}

Sources: shower & bath wall tiles, shower floor mosaic, floor tiles by Choice Granite // vanity // sink faucets // shower faucet // tub// bath faucet // toilet (gift) // mirror (custom) // vanity lights // medicine cabinet  


new shoe cabinet

When I started college, my mom bought me this multi-functional store unit (see below). It has since gone through at least 5 moves with me. I never really loved the look but it was functional and, most importantly, free. So I kept bringing it with me to each new apartment, which was always a pain because not only was it heavy, but one of the wheels would keep falling off.

In our current apartment, it served as an entryway catch-all and storage unit for some of James’ shoes. But as you can see, it didn’t fit very many pairs so I kept tripping over the pairs that he left scattered all over the floor. Another thing that didn’t work well with this unit was the shape. It was really low (maybe up to my thigh) and wide.

When I saw this shoe cabinet as I was flipping through the new Ikea catalog, I knew it would be the perfect replacement. Not only did it take up less floor space because of it’s tall and narrow shape, but it was also inexpensive – only $25!

Now, all of James’ shoes are neatly stored and we gained some square footage back, which is important when you’re living in only 480 square feet!

{the unit we were using before}

my birthday

{photo credit: ahthatslove}

Today is my 30th birthday.

I wish I had something really deep to share but honestly, these last few weeks have been so busy that I haven’t had much time to really reflect. So I’ll just keep it short and sweet with this:

My 20s was filled with several major milestones: graduating from college, getting my first real job, becoming a Christian, getting my CFP, buying my first property, discovering minimalism, getting engaged, getting married, etc.

A milestone I want to hit in my 30s is becoming debt-free and achieving financial independence. (You can track my progress here.) A kid or two would also be nice :).

So goodbye 20s! You were filled with highest of highs and the lowest of lows. I don’t regret any of it but I am ready and excited for a slightly less dramatic decade.



cruelty-free face cream

I started using Clinique’s Superdefense face cream back in high school thanks to my aunt giving me all her free samples and it has served me well over the last decade. So well, in fact, that every time a friend complimented me on my skin, I credited it to this face cream. Clinique should’ve paid me a referral fee for all the business I gave them ;). Every time I strayed and gave another face cream a chance, I always regretted it and went back to Clinique. This was my holy grail, #1 staple.

But now, it’s time to say goodbye. Why? Because I’m slowly switching to a vegan, cruelty-free lifestyle and Clinique, unfortunately, tests on animals. (FYI, any product that is sold in China currently tests on animals.) I’m not as strict about all my products being vegan, but I am getting increasingly firm on products being at least cruelty-free. The thought of a bunny being poisoned to death for my face cream (especially when there are plenty of alternative options available), makes me sad.

Thanks to Christine’s recommendation, I bought this one to try and so far it’s been working just fine. It is easy to apply, feels great on my face and smells fresh (like citrus). I also like tube packaging a lot more than the jar packaging that Superdefense has. Most importantly, it’s vegan and cruelty-free. Even though I have no complaints about this face cream, I’m definitely open to trying other ones so if there’s a cruelty-free face cream with SPF that you’d recommend, please let me know!


hallway remodel

{please excuse the dusty floors :)}

At first the only changes we planned for the hallway were switching out the carpet for hardwood floors and painting the cabinets and doors white. But my mom came up with the idea of removing the current cabinets and replacing them with new, separated cabinets. The idea was brilliant because it made the hallway look a lot wider and now there is counter space to fold laundry, display pictures, charge your phone, etc.

Here’s the before picture:


Sources: cabinets & counter-tops by Fullerton Cabinet // mosaic by Choice Granite // drawer pulls & handles // all photos were taken by my husband, James