Thoughts On: Slowing Down

In 2020, I suffered from a period of overwhelm. It was brought on by the flooding of current event updates disguised as news but served unto me as advertisement. The only way I knew how to save myself was to shut off my phone from all the noise.

I found that the proliferation of chatter was the reason behind useless anxiety caused by the need to be plugged into the information (and misinformation) of others. Ironically, this connectedness with the living world led to a disconnectedness from the self which resulted in confusion and agony, leading up to the miseries plaguing our species – doubt, fear, uncertainty, etc.

I wonder, upon looking at those around me, whether the proximity of our noses to our cell phone screens is the factor behind the lack of proximity to other human beings. I wonder how the big companies have won. How the attention economy has grown so that we pay companies in terms of our precious brain cells rather than dollar bills – and when exactly did they decide to target our thinking power and our time?

It’s like they knew that dialing the volume meters on our social media apps is the exact method by which they could silence our voices. By letting us share experiences, they took away the motivation to make our very own – a robot army full of knowledge and lacking any real stimuli.

It worked, you know?

Shutting off my phone to shut up the noise.

Turning off the media was when I started to hear myself.

The cadence of my neuronal firing returned to a humanly beat and reality was returned to me. It isn’t a matter of never subscribing to knowledge or information, but rather, one should learn from slow-living and be concerned by the RATE with which we gather information – lest we be reduced to a tiny node in the homogenous network created by a handful of “thinkers” spreading a singular message of their choosing.

I hope to impress upon others the importance of processing information with adequate space and in due time – the factors that increase our overall human experience and reconnect us to being a part of this planet. It is no longer a matter of having experienced enough if you aren’t even immersed in the experience itself. At that point, it’s like you experience nothing at all.

It bears repeating again and again: Slow. it. down.

Travel: A Weekend in Telluride, CO

A weekend in Telluride, Colorado was the right prescription to combat my fast-paced California life. Nestled in a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains (in June!), this secluded town is almost two hours away from the nearest Southwest-serving airport (Mike and I are companion pass holders and we use our Southwest card to travel around the United States for FREE!) and is a stand-alone vacation spot so that, once there, you can nix the rental car along with all other obligations and just settle into the present tense. In fact, since there is no need to leave this town (like ever!), I would actually recommend taking the shuttle (at $75 per person) from the airport to Telluride. It’s less stress, less hassle, and if you’re staying a while, less dollars.

Telluride is the perfect place if you like slow-living. There is fantastic food and coffee to be had, as well as a number of shops downtown. I would recommend swinging by the book store and purchasing a paperback to read on the patio of Ghost Town or Coffee Cowboy. If you prefer to write, my friend and I bought paperback journals and spent an afternoon writing whilst sipping smoothies. Natural juices translated into creative ones in real time. There are also many local events, such as live music on the green or a Farmer’s Market that takes place for a majority of their Fridays. On the weekend, you can join the community clean-up crew to keep the area looking pristine – and to pay back Mother Nature for all the good she provides.

The vibe of Telluride is adventure-laden. The streets are teeming with dogs and active pet-owners who have most likely checked off a 3-mile hike by the time you wake at 9am. Patagonia gear, trail runners, and Prana shorts abound in this outdoor-loving getaway of a town. Most trailheads begin in town, and the trails are well-kept and demarcated clearly, as well as avidly used by the locals. Many waterfalls can be seen due to the melting snow caps, and some you can walk right up to them and revel in their misty glory. Shall you choose, rivers for crossing are also present – so feel free to slip off those Tevas and ground yourself in ice-cold goodness. Telluride also has the only free gondola in North America, which will take you to trailheads at the top of the mountain, without the need to slave away to the halfway point. For those with kids, why not take the Gondola up and hike with them down towards town? You’ll still get the view, without the tantrum.

Here are a few highlights from our recent Telluride trip.

Ghost Town Coffee

A great spot to have breakfast or refresh in the afternoon. We went back for smoothies twice (may I recommend the coconut milk in the Purple Smoothie or the house-made cashew milk in their green smoothie?). They also make great coffee, and have an intimate gathering area outdoors for your friends and family.

Cowboy Coffee

The pitstop we made three out of three days. It’s a tiny trailer stationed next to a Greek restaurant serving great coffee and breakfast burritos. Pro tip: The day-old burritos are half-price, so take them to go and reheat in your AirBNB for an easy time. Also, they’ve got a stash of spices sitting on the counter, and my tumeric-infused coffee really got me through those rainy Telluride afternoons. The clouds roll in around 2pm from the surrounding mountain giving the town a daily shower. No wonder it’s so green!

The Butcher and the Baker

Apparently this is the busiest breakfast situation on weekends. The line went around the corner, and there are no reservations. I would recommend swinging by during the weekday if you want to avoid waiting a while. I got the cheddar croissant and coffee. An honest baker’s opinion? I would go with an actual breakfast meal rather than a pastry and bring coffee from the other two places mentioned above. What I ordered was okay, but what the waiters were bringing to other tables looked way better!!

Brown Dog Pizza

My number one recommendation when staying at Telluride. This place gets busy between the hours of 6pm and 8pm and there is limited seating outside so either plan to come early or take it to go. They have multiple Award winning pizzas and they did not disappoint. You could even request to top the two halves differently. We were able to try two of their Award winners, and it was DELICIOUS!

New Sheridan Hotel

A historical hotel remodeled into what currently stands, with a great patio area and restaurant for lunch and dinner. Eating here is a bit on the pricier side, but they serve good American fare for those who like lighter and well-prepared meals. The key lime pie is to DIE FOR. I’m biased, of course.

Bear Trail Hike

This trail is a great beginner 5-mile out-and-back hike (2.5 miles each way). The trail is well demarcated and you’ll encounter fields of wildflowers, fallen trees, a few waterfalls in the distance, and a waterfall that you can walk right up to. Trees line the way on either side as the snowy mountains guide you straight ahead. We saw many families and dogs on this hike. It’s very doable, but make sure to embark early and return to town around lunch time to avoid the afternoon rain.

Gondola to Mountain Village

You can take the Gondola to the Mountain Village which is the ski resort at the top of the mountain. The gondola is the only free one of its kind in all of North America. We took it all the way up and then hiked back down into town.

Telluride Trail

You can go up and down this intermediate ski run but we used the Gondola to go up and hiked it back down. As you get closer to town, you see a bird’s eye view of Telluride as well as hear the live music playing on the green. The hill is steep and rocky, so you definitely want to wear footwear with traction – unless you’re okay with slipping and sliding occasionally. The trail is straight-forward and bare since it is a ski run, but the view is hard to beat. Please note in the photo the afternoon clouds rolling in, right on schedule.

Telluride is a well-kept secret, but the travelers we met pay recurring visits. I plan to return, as well. This tiny pocket of slow is really what many of us need right now.

Gift Guide: Father’s Day

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Last year, the blog’s most popular gift guide was the one for Father’s Day. Y’allll I can relate!! My old man himself has been notoriously difficult to shop for, because he always says he doesn’t need anything. Dads are like that, I guess. Truth of the matter is, it’s not that my pa doesn’t need anything. It’s more so that he doesn’t feel deserving of luxurious gifts and frivolous items. Practical to the tee.

But fathers are equally deserving of a day of rest, an afternoon of enjoyment, a bit of luxury and celebration. I feel like I’ve exhausted all my good ideas in last year’s list, but I will try again this year for the sake of all humble fathers around the world. This is for you. Happy Father’s Day!

Monthly Goals: June 2021

An Overview of May

May was the longest month of the year yet it still managed to escape me. I don’t know where the time goes but if I could somehow pocket just a little extra bit of it, then let my pockets rip at the seams with carrying the stuff. Luckily, I do practice bit of daily journaling with my Unbound planner so that I may look back at the forgotten memories buried within my fickle mind and recall what it was that I did with my precious time. It’s good practice, too, as it forces me to set aside a few hours at the end and beginning of each month to review not only progress, but the good and important stuff that we sometimes miss – that which is the essence of life.

It turns out, there were many accomplishments in May that, when taken separately, seem random, but when read in the context of our big picture plans, actually move us closer to our dream life.

  • We refinanced our home a second time, making it a cash flow positive rental option in the future. This sets us up nicely since our dream was to travel the world. It allows us to gain equity plus enough extra income to cover maintenance costs without having us live here anymore.
  • We drafted a living trust on our own after we were quoted $2.5K to have one written up by a lawyer. We wanted to put all our assets in a trust but did not want to pay the lawyer fees so with the help of Legal Zoom (the same company that I built an SCORP with, and no I do not get a commission for this, I just really want to talk about them), we were able to draft our own living trust for less than $400.
  • Mike’s job officially offered him the option of fully remote work in the future which sets us up nicely for our dream to travel the world and live in different places. I am actually most excited about this fact in congruence with the refinance since it allows us to try our nomad life sooner than we thought! Our housemate is leaving at the end of summer, and our plan is to rent our home out for a year and nix the permanent address. Also falling in line with all of this is our HOA’s recent approval to allow year-long rentals in our community (starting tomorrow!). And the world is slowly opening up to leisure travel. The timing couldn’t be any better!

Aside from the accomplishments, May was also spent with friends and family. We stayed with friends in NorCal, visiting Healdsburg for a weekend and working remote in their dining room. My brother was home from Arizona for three out of the five weeks in May, celebrating Mother’s Day as well as Memorial Day with the fam. We stayed with friends in their newly purchased San Diego home for an entire weekend, then hosted friends in our space over Memorial Day weekend. I may not have worked as much, but my lack of productivity at work was offset by being with people I haven’t seen in months (or for some, over a year!), which is fine by me. In fact, I was so busy with life that my blog earned $0 this month.

Looking Forward to June

June is my birthday month, as well as the halfway point of the year. I tend to approach June with gusto and an intent to live life to the fullest, as it serves a reminder of both the passing of time and the gift of being placed on Planet Blue with a beating heart and a working mind. Also scribbled on our calendars are Father’s Day, plus a wedding we’ve been waiting over a year for – so celebrations abound!

Then we jetset off to Iceland in early July, where we will meet my sister and begin our traveling life. With the liberties Mike’s new way of work-life gifts us, I tell myself I will start approaching the rest of 2021 with the same exuberance I felt when I tackled the challenge of adding baking to my career repertoire – that is, with reckless abandon, shutting my eyes tight and taking leaps of faith that could land us somewhere far away from here, or alternatively, right on our arses. Cheers to mid-life crises or whatever you call it, that which I experience every other year or so it seems. 🙂

June Goals Include:

  • Notarize the living trust, because we must continue to do practical things.
  • Plan our nomad life, because I shan’t forget to dream.
  • Declutter garage, email, and phone, as a symbol of starting anew at thirty-two.
  • Organize digital photos, especially if travel will start to accelerate the collection.
  • Finish 2 books, including the current read.
  • Increase Rye Goods wholesale by 10%, growing my version of remote work-life.
  • Pursue blog income stream steadily, in an effort to replace dental income shall I leave this place.
  • Master 3 new piano songs, and continue the daily practice.
  • Resume my boxing routine, as they re-open next month at a new location.
  • Get two interviews on the calendar, to spread the word to new-grads entering the industry post pandemic.
  • Apply to 20 affiliates to help the blog revenue along.
  • Take 5 SEO courses, to continue adding to my skill set.
  • Finish 5 dental CE courses online, to revive my love for the art.
  • Bake 2 new recipes – I’m looking at Chiffon cakes at the moment…
  • Consider starting a weekly baking IG LIVE tutorial, because those Lunch-And-Learns were so fun!
  • Learn geography of all 195 countries – a bit of R&D never hurt anyone.
  • Run 4 miles in 40 minutes, as if boxing wasn’t enough.
  • Yoga and meditate each day, for the mental aspect as well as the physical.
  • Finish 1 coloring page from A Secret Garden – something I’ve been saying for months but have yet to accomplish.

I probably will fail to accomplish half of these things, but half is good enough for me!

Gift Guide: Celebrating Frugal Minimalists

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

As a frugal minimalist, there are two things I want to normalize when it comes to receiving gifts: Gifts under $25 and consumable items. I know it sounds silly, but for many years, I have struggled with the privilege of receiving gifts from loved ones that I (in all honesty) give away or throw in the trash (if I can’t return them, of course). I have expressed multiple times that I would prefer not to receive anything during holiday celebrations because of the wasteful saga that follows each one. Alas, I have found myself born into a gift-giving family, who, after many years of reproachful, miserable, and difficult conversations, has finally started to hear my wishes. Gift giving is my love language (believe it or not) but I want to receive gifts that I love or need. My actions may come across as ungrateful but nothing pains me more than receiving a gift that does not belong in my life. That’s why I always have to get rid of them right away – because they remind me of thoughtlessness and they hurt my feelings.

For gift-givers who ascribe to the idea that affection is proportional to a price tag, please hear me, a person who LOVES gifts, but believes that this is not true. I am a frugal minimalist. I would love gifts that fit both of those categories. I think the best way to show love to a similar friend or family member that you may have is to follow two simple rules.

  1. Keep the price tag under $25. I remember the gifts I received in my childhood for my birthday. They were always under $25, and they were all perfectly generous gifts! Since when did gifts start costing $50-$100? Did we all decide to participate in a game of one-upping each other and that’s how the baseline for gifts escalated? Did our gifts increase with our age, or our salary? Do gifts increase our status? Because surely it depreciates our wealth, let alone devoid our meaningfulness at being a loving friend or family member. If your friend is a frugalist, they will likely be stressing about the amount of dollars you spent on them. If they’re like me, they would be considering all the better buys your money could have been used for. We need to normalize the idea that $25 is generous, still. We have to change our mindsets about that, or go broke trying to impress the people in our ever-growing networks.
  2. Buy consumable gifts. I like gifts that are meant to be used and will no longer be around a year later. I stress about clutter around me and constantly clear my surroundings. Don’t bother buying decor items or things that have no use for your minimal friend. Gift something that will live out the course of their life and then be gone. The world changes so fast these days, so do you really think a person will like the same thing a few years from now? I change my mind all the time, so I certainly don’t.

Chances are, your own frugal minimalist has been trying to communicate these things to you for years. They may feel frustrated, stressed, or guilty at receiving lavish gifts from their friends and family. Worse, they may feel pressured to return the favor, even though it goes against their values. I think it’s time to normalize less expensive, consumable stuffs. In order to help others celebrate their own frugal minimalist, I am publishing a gift guide that will be helpful to all others like me.

Monthly Goals: April 2021

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April was the most balanced month I have ever had. I spent a lot of time with friends and family, including helping my mother-in-law and sister-in-law move, dog-sitting and house-sitting for my parents while they were traveling, celebrating my sister-in-law’s birthday (twice!), celebrating my dad’s birthday, celebrating Easter with Mike’s family, continuing my weekly calls with my sister in Spain, hanging out with my co-workers after a long Friday work-day, and visiting our best friends in Los Angeles! I had a lot of new experiences, such as hitting a record month with blogging, as well as hosting my first virtual cooking class for a friend’s company Lunch and Learn. Financially, we are at a stand-still with our second refinance and I am putting together our living trust, both of which were the biggest challenges for the month. Meanwhile, I started taking piano lessons (I’ve always wanted to learn), spent the entire month boxing at my cousin-in-law’s gym and running a few times a week, hitting a lifetime record mile. I take care of myself by taking afternoon naps, working on a few coloring pages, and sitting on the sunny balcony with my pensive thoughts. Best of all, I started planning for a few trips in the summer months, determined to make the most out of 2021 as I promised to myself on New Year’s Eve.

April was the month that really reflected what I have been working towards since pursuing financial independence three years ago. I created a work schedule that I am not only proud of, but that also works for me. I get to enjoy the creativity of writing on my blog, a growing network in the hospitality industry while connecting bread and coffee together (two of my favorite things in life that I am passionate about), and still get to dabble in dentistry at a relaxed environment that feels more like home than a job. I go into the office two days a week which I stacked back to back so that I have five days straight of being at home if I so wish. I was pretty adamant about making blogging and wholesale directing both remote and on my own time. I know it seems like asking for much to some, but it’s actually more about asking for what will work best for your personality and lifestyle. In return for granting me jobs that are aligned with me, I think all of my co-workers and bosses can tell you that my output and return is of better quality and my outlook at work is a very positive one. I do believe that your satisfaction in work and life is visible through the energies you emit, so it is very important that work align with your dharma and being.

The most impactful thing for me is not being dependent on a job or other people. We aren’t financially free, meaning my student debt is still looming over us (although much smaller now), but we have a very strong grasp on our finances. I feel more in control of our situations and have the confidence that I needed to dissociate my dependence from others. (On a side note, being independent of others doesn’t mean you are isolated and alone. It simply means you are self-sufficient enough to be the truest version of self you can offer). You can read about how I gained enough financial independence to quit my job here. It is one of my most viewed posts in this space, which tells me that people are interested in doing the same. We were taught that doing more and earning more is the way to being rich. For us, the opposite has been true. Doing less allowed us to save money and led to me cutting my work days. Cutting my work days gave me freedom to pursue other interests, which gave me more meaning and satisfaction in life, but also, increased my connection with people and my experiences in this world. Even during the pandemic, financial independence played a positive role for us, which I wrote about here. All in all, I am getting closer to where I intended to be when I started living intentionally – which is to have separation from work, a bigger community, the ability to pursue my passions, and soon, to travel the world. With that, I hope May follows suit.


I have finally found the planner for me this year and will stick with Unbound Planner. I think it provides the best balance of mindful living and productivity. I was able to be productive and be calm, which is always tough for a go-getter like me. I also realize that as much as I try time-blocking and as productive as it is, it doesn’t give me that sense of peace. I find myself glancing at the clock to ensure that I stay within my time limits. It subconsciously adds an extra layer of stress, so I switched back to my checklist method. I prefer to keep a running checklist and to pick off one item at a time to do. I like to spend time with each task without rushing, which ultimately leads to better results.

The planner also helps relieve me of thinking about day-to-day chores. I use the meal planning section to simplify making meals at home and grocery shopping for them, too! The weekly overviews are built around plans I made for the months and years, and I can easily look back on my game plan and timeline to plan for the week. The daily indications for exercise, taking my supplements and drinking my 8 glasses of water are also helpful. Lastly, each day starts off write, with the section for gratitude journaling as well as a Top 3 Priority checklist.


Without further ado, here are a few goals for May.

Personal:

  • Practice T.I.M.E. ritual each morning: T- Thankfulness Practice by Gratitude Journaling, I- Insight by listening to podcasts, writing, or reading, M- Meditate using the TIDE app, and E – Exercise whether that’s running or hiking.
  • Put phone away when I am with people or when doing something to avoid distractions.
  • Have a digital sabbath one day per week.
  • Learn how to use my new Microsoft surface pen.
  • Let myself take an afternoon nap every weekday that I am off.
  • Learn the 195 countries’ locations and be able to fill in a blank map with their names.
  • Learn 2 modern songs on the piano.
  • Go to the beach twice with Mikey.
  • Spend one hour this month doing NOTHING.
  • Finish reading 2 books.
  • Bake 2 new recipes.

Health:

  • Be able to run 5 miles under 50 minutes.
  • Workout with weights 3x/week.
  • Go on a hike once a week.
  • Use Magnesium Spray to boost energy, lift mood, calm the mind, and relax the muscles.
  • Take vitamins and collagen powder daily.

Work:

  • Grow the bakery by $3k this month.
  • Create genuine, meaningful relationships with patients by spending an extra five minutes each appointment learning one new thing about their social life.
  • Publish 20 blog posts.
  • Top last month’s 8.8K Pinterest views.
  • Top last month’s blogging income.
  • Learn how to self-publish a book by taking courses online.

Home:

  • Put away things daily.
  • Do a pantry clean out and organization.
  • Declutter paper and digital files and email.
  • Declutter the home and garage.
  • Complete the cleaning list.

Finance:

  • Save $7k next month to ramp up for whenever student loan repayment resumes – invest 20% of it and place 80% in our Marcus High Yield Saving’s Account.
  • Close on a second refinance of our home, hopefully sealing the interest rate at 2.875%.
  • File a living trust.
  • Complete 5 CE courses.

Gift Guide: Moms On The Go

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

When I look at moms these days, I wonder how in the world god-send super humans came to be. Although I am not one such being, I imagine a modern day mama to be extremely well-organized, balancing society’s expectations of being a nourishing provider to their families, a hard worker who may or may not contribute financially (but should be getting paid none-the-less), a fit athlete concerned about well-being and overall health, a never-ending source of emotional support, and on top of that, a model socialite, well-informed and light-hearted – a person who never loses her cool, has time to see her friends, and holds everyone’s schedules, down to the second, together.

Of course, this is exactly the kind of perfect imagery that would be strong enough to break any warrior. I personally do not agree that the standard we hold for mothers require my writing a run-on sentence. Yet, still, I see mamas be this exact lionheart day in and day out. Which begs the question of what mamas really need to support their crusade. Sure, I would love to give all mama’s a few days of rest throughout the week, although I am sure some would be satisfied enough with a few moment’s of sleep. But what of it afterwards? They go back to being the champions of our families, and I can’t help but think that the best gifts to give would be those that support their daily activity. Because super mamas, they don’t stop. Mine didn’t, even after we’ve all left the nest. And neither did my father’s. There’s something about them that always keep them on the go. They are heroes deserving of our protection and support, and because of that, I’ve wrangled together a list of special items that my very own modern mama would use.

If you liked this and would like more ideas, you may also want to check out last year’s suggestions centered around giving mothers the rest they need.

Gift Guide: Earth Day

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

April 22 is Earth Day. While adopting Earth friendly habits on Earth Day are good, I would like to challenge this community to adopt sustainable practices every day. The reasons for doing so are quite simple, really.

First, it saves money. For those who argue that sustainable products are pricier than non-sustainable products, take it as a sign that the need to practice going without remains. Perhaps the crux lies in certain shopping habits? Most of the time, the most sustainable option is buying nothing. The second most sustainable is revamping old things into new ones. The third most sustainable is accepting hand-me-downs or asking to borrow. A fourth sustainable option is to practice minimalism, so that even the purchase of a more sustainable option is cheaper than buying ten gadgets that add up to the same functions. I find that most people, when it comes down to it, are simply not intentional enough.

Hand me down pants, and an all organic cotton shirt gifted by PACT.

On that previous note, it limits clutter. A bag of 12 rolls of paper towels can be replaced by one or two reusable rags. A case of water bottles bought from the grocery store can be replaced by a reusable water bottle. A stack of books can be replaced by library ones, a closet full of clothes can be replaced by a capsule wardrobe, a bag of rolled up plastic bags can be replaced by one or two totes, etc. All of this to say, one of the solutions to waste is summed up in the word “LESS”.

Thirdly, it creates community. Challenge friends and family to save the Earth. Celebrate by experiencing Mother Nature – go on an arduous mountain hike, or surf in the ocean before work. Share common items with each other. Give your baby’s old crib to an expecting friend. I take unwanted articles of clothing from my friends all the time. Carpool to work, and chat about your day on the way home.

These reasons, and so much more. Consider this a gift guide for yourself, and Mother Nature.

More ideas, right this way.