It’s been an incredibly busy start to 2019 and I’m happy to be taking a breath now and reflecting on the first two months of the year. Here’s what I’ve been obsessed with in the start of 2019.

I’m not making any money from recommending these businesses, nor have I been asked by these business to feature them. I purchased products, liked them, and now I’m sharing what I liked. No affiliate links or free products here 🙂

Koh – eco-friendly low-waste cleaning technology

I was hesitant to jump into the world of Koh, formerly known as ekoWorx, simply because their whole thing felt a bit “snake oil” to me. One cleaning fluid for ovens, mirrors, benchtops, sinks? Reusable cloths that don’t fall apart? It wasn’t until they did a Christmas sale on their bundle for a really fantastic price, and my local beautician mentioned she’d bought it, that I decided to give it a try.

I’m in love.

I spent New Year’s Day cleaning the oven. At the risk of disgusting you, our oven was foul. My husband and I saved for four and a half years to get the deposit for our own home, so we went straight from living with our respective parents to becoming homeowners at 23 with absolutely no living-out-of-home experience. Suffice it to say it’s been a steep learning curve! As a result there are things in the house that I’m absolutely mortified by now and I’m slowly getting around to deep-cleaning all the things that needed it a year ago … and the oven door was one of those items. I went through three of Koh’s “diamond sponges” cleaning the oven door but you can finally actually see your food cooking! That was experiment #1 and already I was obsessed.

We no longer buy kitchen paper towel – we use the Koh reusable cloths for everything. The cleaning fluid does a great job on windows and mirrors as well as benchtops and tiles, and the mop has been a revelation – for three years we’ve been using a cheap junk mop with an enormous bucket, which leaves our wooden floors soggy, but the Koh mop is like “spray and wipe on a stick”. The floor’s dry before you’ve even moved on to the next spot.

So Koh gets pride of place in this recap because I’m genuinely floored by how effective it is. It makes the whole overwhelming business of first-home ownership in your 20s just that much easier. It’s all here: koh.com

White Wolf Candle Co. – high quality candles helping rescue dogs

If you’ve met me even once, you know about my snow dogs. Lucky, now 4, and Luna, now 8 (and pictured above!), are one of my biggest sources of joy. And by that I mean they’re bloody idiots, and they’re constantly causing me stress, but they’re also so painfully adorable that I can’t help but love them anyway!

My husband bought Lucky from a breeder when we first bought our house because all his life he wanted a husky. After about six months it became clear Lucky was bored to tears and needed a buddy, so we contacted AMRAA (Alaskan Malamute Rehoming Aid Australia) and narrowed it down to two or three gorgeous malamute girls. Our winner was “Mally”, who bounded up to me on first meeting, stood up and placed her front paws on my shoulders. I thought she was going to eat me alive but I was instantly in love with her anyway. We renamed her Luna, because having “Mally” and “Ally” in the same house was a recipe for disaster, and because calling a malamute Mally is like calling a bulldog Bully or a shitzu … well, you get it. Four years on, our Luna is our “honey bear” and an absolute angel, and I can’t imagine life without her. (Lucky is still an absolute prat, but that’s my fault for spoiling him as a puppy!)

Enter White Wolf Candle Co. Wonderful creative Jess and her gorgeous AMRAA husky, Rex, founded White Wolf to create gorgeous high-quality long-burn soy candles that donate directly to the exact shelter from which we bought Luna. At the time we visited, AMRAA had 80 full-grown malamutes in their care – can you imagine the food bill? Their owner was working full time in banking just to fund the shelter, but despite this the malamutes had a fantastic shelter, good quality food and a happy life. White Wolf Candle Co is the best of both worlds – not only do I get a beautiful candle that lasts months (and the jars make great pen holders once the candle is burnt down) but I get to donate at the same time to this fantastic NSW malamute shelter.

If you’re thinking of getting a candle, I wholeheartedly recommend the Lime and Coconut – might be a weird scent coming into autumn but it’s been fantastic through summer! whitewolfcandleco.com

Spaceship: the investing app for millenials

I have a fantastic tax agent. Thanks to the Blue Mountains being how they are, my tax agent is basically family – I’ve housesat for him, he and his wife came to my wedding, etc. So when my tax agent suggested we use some wedding money to start an investment portfolio we said “yes” without a second thought.

Our little package of shares is ticking over nicely, and it was a good idea, but it all feels very old-school to me. I can never remember my numeric ID to log in to the website, it’s hard to interpret, I can’t actually tell if we’re making a profit or not. While I’m really grateful for this smart step towards retirement income, I wanted a little more control over the money I was investing.

I’ve kept that “traditional” investment but more recently I’ve also started an account with Spaceship. Spaceship are an Australian-run investment fund, but here’s the difference – you don’t need an enormous amount of money to buy in. I started my account with $10. Every fortnight I add $12 – so it’s literally the price of a coffee and a biscuit each week, except instead of adding to my calories I’m adding to my passive income.

I love the ability to add as little or as much to my investment, but I also love the way Spaceship chooses to invest my dollars. They have a future-thinking, tech-heavy portfolio with companies like Netflix, Resmed, Google, Kogan, even Adobe, whose software I use all day every day in my job as a graphic designer. They invest in health companies doing really exciting things and tech companies shaping the future.

Finally, the app is so flipping useable! Every day I check it and see that little purple line going up or down. It’s easy to see what part of my total balance is my investment and what part is profit. And the app is full of news articles about the companies they invest in so it’s easy to keep up to date with where my dollars are going. I’d literally never be able to afford shares in Google or Apple on my own so Spaceship is a really great concept. And it’s fee-free until you’ve invested $5,000. At my measly $6/week it’ll be a while yet until I hit that milestone, but I’m not complaining 🙂 spaceshipinvest.com.au

The Miracle Morning concept

This is a bit of a weirder one as it’s an activity you can do, rather than a product you can use, but it’s been improving my day-to-day life so much that it needs a mention!

The Miracle Morning is a concept by Hal Elrod where you start your day with a series of activities designed to give you focus, energy, and time to set your intentions before you start your day. I don’t want to cover the entire concept here as there are a ton of tutorials online – and, of course, the book by the man himself – but the main point is the SAVERS routine – every morning:

  • S – Silence – meditation, deep breathing, or prayer
  • A – Affirmations – go over your list of affirmations for the day
  • V – Visualisation – visualise yourself achieving your goals, or visualise your dream life (a vision board is useful here)
  • E – Exercise – whether it’s ten minutes of yoga or a 45-minute gym session, just get moving
  • R – Reading – read something positive, educational, and interesting
  • S – Scribing – write in a journal, write what you’re grateful for this morning, create your to-do list

I don’t get the entire routine done every morning – actually, some days it’s enough that I’ve dragged myself out of bed and made coffee without committing murder. But I do notice that on the days I take the time to complete at least part of the routine, I’m calmer, happier, more focused and more productive.

When I have time to complete a Miracle Morning (and by “when I have time” I mean “when I haven’t hit snooze nine times and now I’m late”) this is my general routine:

  • Exercise – I start the day by walking the dogs, or if the weather’s not great, I do about fifteen minutes of yoga. I take it easy – just enough to wake me up and stretch out my neck and back after sleep.
  • Silence – when you’re already on the yoga mat, a few minutes of meditation is easy. If I’m pressed for time I do two minutes of focusing on my breathing, or if I’ve got the time I do a longer, guided meditation.
  • At this point I’ll often make my breakfast and move my routine out to the kitchen table –
  • Affirmations – I have a list of affirmations written down in my bullet journal that I go over, focusing on the ones I feel most useful for the day. I’m not a “read out loud” gal, I feel really awkward doing that, but I try to really focus on and think about what I’m reading.
  • Visualisation – I have a private Pinterest board that I use as a vision board. When I’m sleepy it’s hard not to be distracted by all else Pinterest has to offer, but when I’m feeling focused, this makes me feel really inspired and motivated.
  • Reading – I have a “To Read / Watch / Learn” board on Pinterest with interesting articles, or I’ll go to the Spaceship app and read their latest. As long as my “reading” is educational in some way, I don’t stress about how long or short my reading session is.
  • Scribing – usually this is a few lines in my bullet journal. Sometimes it’s what I’m grateful for, sometimes it’s what’s on my mind at the moment, other times it’s just a to-do list. Again, I don’t push for a particular length of time or number of words. It’s whatever I feel like writing.

After that I start my day! If I’m in a rush, this entire process can be condensed into less than half an hour, but if I’m walking the dogs and taking my time it can take up to 90 minutes. But it feels great to start the day with a bit of exercise and education already under my belt, and with a focus and intention to carry me through the day. I’m not a morning person in any way so this has been a great way to get me out of bed. It’s definitely a routine that slides when I’m really busy, which is something I want to work on, but it’s worth giving a try.

Read more about the Miracle Morning: miraclemorning.com

That’s the top four for January and February! I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve tried or like any of the above products/concepts.