Spend Nothing When Having a Baby

When we found out that our family was growing, I immediately thought about our finances. We had heard projections on how much it costs to raise a child. But my first musing was, is it possible to rear children for less? Blasphemy, amiright? Nonetheless, I quietly set a personal goal to spend nothing when having a baby. It was such a daunting task that it took me a few days to voice the idea to my husband. Aside from hospital bills, I wanted to spend $0 buying the consumerist stuff. And it has been a wild success so far!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not so delusional as to think that this endeavor will be entirely free. (It sounds endearing, though!) We are already projected to spend $8-10k on the birthing itself, even with the help of PPO insurance coverage which covers 80% of the costs of childbirth in the state of California. But with a lot of intention, I think it can be made more affordable. As in, MUCH more affordable.

My personal goal is to spend close to nothing on getting ready for the babe. I’ve been able to stick to my budget, but three months is still a long way to go. I may get cold feet. FOMO might set in. Or the guilt that I am not being a good provider. For now, those thoughts are at bay. I truly believe that children learn through our actions, and this is my first lesson. Do with less, be with less, keep more to spare.

How to Spend Nothing When Having A Baby

Be intentional about what you need.

The internet is full of kid-items ready to sell to anxious moms and dads. As parents, we have a job to do for our children – to provide for and take care of. But we are also the gatekeepers of their worlds, the guardians of their lives and homes. And sellers, they have their goals too – to sell what they make as best they can.

What helps me stay grounded is to think back on me and Mike’s childhoods. We grew up with very little. I grew up in a third-world country and Mike lived in an apartment his entire life, sharing a bedroom with his dad until junior year of high-school. Our happiest joys were the simple moments – both in childhood and in adulthood. I remember collecting lady bugs in the backyard with my sister, catching mussels by a lake, and going to the playground behind the church. I like to think that we’ve already provided enough by situating our family in a beautiful community filled with amenities and outdoor activities.

In exchange for all the toys, Mike’s dad never missed a track meet or soccer game and my mother quit her job and cooked dinner every night. That’s my second motivating thought to being intentional: the less we spend, the less we have to work. The more we can be around for the important stuff. I can keep my part-time job. Mike can work from home whenever I go into the dental office. We hope to have at least one of us home with our kid every single day. In essence, my ability to not spend on non-essential items is my second source of income. AND it’s not taxed!

Be Open to Hand-Me-Downs

Hand-me-downs for most baby items are perfectly fine. They don’t have to be brand new, especially when newborns outgrow things in 3 months time. Baby stuff costs way too much these days. Rompers and footsies cost $20 each. That is a LOT of money. You could feed a family of three a decent meal with that! Cuter outfits cost twice as much. Remember, little ones aren’t even conscious of what they look like.

Embracing hand-me-downs also reduces waste. So many parents throw out their old stuff – toys, books, plastic dinner utensils, Tupperware, clothes – these could have lots of life left! Not to mention, it’s a bit of a pain trying to decide what to do with old stuff. Old parents may appreciate you offering to take things off their hands. It would spare them the guilt of throwing things away and give them the comfort that their items are going to be of use to someone else.

Already, we have a large number of items being handed down by aunties, co-workers, and friends!

Which brings me to my third point…

Rely On Your Community

In 2019, when we returned from New Zealand, I wrote a post lamenting the lack of community in California. I yearned for what Kiwis had – a rural, farm-life type of dependence amongst neighbors in small towns. I joined a bakery team BECAUSE I was looking for a community. I wanted to be a part of a group, instead of working in isolation as a dentist and writing in isolation as a blogger. Slowly, I learned that community was what you made of it.

I’ve come a long way since then. Despite a pandemic, I developed a community at both dental offices I work at. I connected with people in my area by volunteering at the farms. My work-out crew is the most motivating group of people I have. And I met a lot of dog-owners and cat-parents who have become dear friends.

Most importantly, we moved out of the city. I loved our live-work loft and the convenience of downtown living but we knew it wasn’t a place to raise a family. It also was a more solitary life. At the time, it was fine since we had a roommate living with us. We formed a mini-faux-family. But when we lost our roommate, it was “just us” in a world recovering from a pandemic. So we transported ourselves to the mountains, in a suburban area filled with multi-generational families. We live down the street from my parents, about five miles from where I lived since my teen years. And it was the best decision we made.

Make Use of Your Local Buy Nothing Group

I am really grateful to live in a community filled with families because it makes for a great buy-nothing group. Reminiscent of how moms in the past relied on each other for things such as spare eggs or a loaf of bread, the Facebook Buy Nothing group is filled with graciously gifted goods. We have turned to our Buy Nothing group to get a lot of things we need for our newborn. It is the #1 tool we have to spending $0 when having a baby. We have saved thousands of dollars because of our Buy Nothing community!

So far, we have received the following baby items from the Local Buy Nothing Group:

  • Two boppy pillows for nursing
  • Coterie Diapers for Newborns
  • A Graco High Chair
  • A Graco Baby Swing
  • Clothing 0-3 months
  • Clothing 3-6 months
  • Clothing 6-9 months
  • Clothing 9-12 mos
  • Baby shoes
  • A wooden crib

List the Must-Haves on the Baby Registry and Wait for the Baby Shower

My mom is throwing us a baby shower a month and a half before the baby arrives. We are constantly updating and evaluating the baby registry. As we collect more FREE stuff from relatives and the Buy Nothing Group, we remove items that would otherwise be doubled. In this way, we save the resources of our loved ones and focus in on the necessities. I refuse to purchase anything until after the baby shower. It could be that we receive everything we need!

Have tough conversations with your immediate family.

There are going to be many tough conversations with family members. For us, we started discussing expectations from the get-go. While they want what is best, sometimes, it helps to share what IS best for your family. I had to reiterate our hope to not accumulate a lot of stuff by way of books, toys, and clothes. We hope for our family members to save their hard-earned dollars and avoid buying children’s books (which we can borrow from the library down the street at a moment’s notice) and baby toys (which could be substituted by every day items). Our baby doesn’t need fancy clothes, and hand-me-downs will more than make do. If they could substitute STUFF with baby-sitting help, home-cooked meals, or free advice, we would be happy. These are tough conversations for grandparents, aunties and uncles who want to give your child the world and more. Telling them you don’t want what they wish to buy you may come off as being ungrateful. But it is necessary in order to foster a healthy relationship between you and your baby’s most important community.

Work for It

Lastly, you can do as I do and work for it. I created this blog space to share my story. But I also consider blogging a job. Here, I partner with brands that I believe in and exchange product for reviews, blog posts, creative content, or social media exposure. I think it’s a great gig for expecting mothers who don’t mind sharing their experiences with products! It is flexible, creative, fun, and totally in your control.

If you are interested in growing a blog, check out these posts I have written to get started!

As I said before, I am not so foolish as to think this will be the most frugal venture yet. But just like we’ve travel-hacked our way around the world, leveraged house-hacking to save money to buy our home, and paid my student debt down working part-time through frugal living, I think there are many CREATIVE ways to avoid over-spending when raising children. I believe parenting has gotten away from us. I fear companies and corporations have hijacked our anxious minds and convinced us of our need for yet more stuff. I am curious to see how much of it is truly necessary and am willing to challenge some of today’s assumptions.

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Noshinku Hand Sanitizers Protecting Hands That Do

A lot has changed in my life over the past two years. Certainly, a lot has changed in everyone’s lives, but I can only speak for myself. One of the best things that happened to me was gaining enough financial independence to quit a job that I disliked, which then allowed me to pursue my dream lifestyle.

Today, I work as a dentist only three days a week, and spend a majority of my time doing what I love to do. I help a bakery with their wholesale clients, walk and sit dogs and cats in the neighborhood, volunteer at a community farm, write in this blog space, workout everyday with a group, and on my additional spare time, I read books, bake bread, and hang out with friends and family. In order to avoid sick days that would hinder my dream life, I turn to better hand-hygiene with Noshinku, who created a hand sanitizer protecting hands that do.

Portable Pocket Sanitizer for Me and You

Noshinku has turned hand sanitizer into the essential worker for me and you. Perfectly encapsulated in a compact, flat, rectangular box, I can easily carry around this luxurious spritz on-the-go. Thinner than my Iphone 12 Mini, the Noshinku case fits in tiny clutches. It even stashes away in my Lululemon leggings side pocket, which is no minor feat. Et tres necessaire.

The case’s hand-feel is buttery and soft. Everyone on the internet is raving about it! It reminds me of Apple’s grippy Iphone case. Surely it would never slip from my fingers, although now that I’ve published this, all I can think of is: Famous last words. The rounded corners make it fun to constantly rotate in my hand. It’s become the new fidget spinner. Plus, the sleek case profile makes any minimalist swoon.

Catch me spritzing sanitizer in between each daily activity and task. This hand sanitizer is perfect for millennials like me with on-the-go lifestyles; professional enough for entrepreneurs and businessfolk, light enough for travelers and athletes, and strong enough for healthcare and mothers. Don’t leave this travel-sized spray at home. Unless, of course, you work from home.

Natural Ingredients for Healthy Hands

For those concerned about what is actually inside the case, let’s talk about it. Noshinku’s hand sanitizer is made of 100% natural ingredients that are safe and worry-free. The ingredient list is made up of words that I can recognize and pronounce, which is more than I can say for other brands. Efficacy is at its best, with the components eliminating 99.9% of the germs.

These ingredients include 70% ethyl alcohol from organic sugar cane, distilled to eliminate impurities that could cause skin irritation. It also contains aloe vera with soothing and anti-aging properties, jojoba oil to moisturize and protect skin from the elements, rosa canina for its reparative capabilities, argan oil which provides a natural barrier, and coconut oil to retain moisture. I love the light-weight feel of this hand sanitizer. And thanks to its moisturizing qualities, I can say goodbye to red, splotchy rashes and say hello to happy hands!


Can you believe that this sanitizer is equally as good for the planet as it is for the hands? These tiny capsules are refillable in the simplest way. Eco-friendly refill options up to a gallon are available on their site, thereby reducing plastic waste associated with most sanitizers. Even the smaller 500mL refill pouch can refill the capsule 5+ times. Taking into account that it only takes one spray to cover your hands, the refill options really make a huge environmental difference!

Plus, Noshinku has a Recycle Program. Partnering with Teracycle, Noshinku has launched an initiative that promotes recycling. Users can send 6+ empty Noshinku products and Terracycle will recycle them responsibly so that nothing ends up in a landfill. The user will then receive 20% OFF their next Noshinku purchase. Alternatively, one can post a picture of themself recycling ANY single use sanitizer product in a Terracyle bin, tag Noshinku, and Noskinku will send a custom 20% off code for a refillable mister.

Pretty as Perfume

If you think the aesthetics are pretty, wait ’til you try the scent! The spray comes in four fragrances, all of which smell like a bottle of Aesop’s best perfume. There are no alcohol odors here!

Lavendula is floral, sweet and slightly spicy due to a blend of rich lavender and cardamom. It is the perfect Mother’s Day find. Refreshing and clean Eucalyptus has hints of herbal rosemary and marjoram, the perfect final touch after a shower or washing of hands. Woodsy Bergamot smells of citrus, cedar, and black pepper, essential for the avid hiker or your average forest bather.

But the one that surprised me the most, the one I fell head-over-heels for, was the masculine Vetiver, which opens with crisp and sweet wood that settles into a creamy leather with earthy under-tones. I’ll be fighting my husband for this one! To be honest, they all smell really, really good. It is difficult to choose just one. If you are unsure which spray is right, try Noshinku’s discovery pack.

Everyone can get around this new hand hygiene habit with Noshinku at play. In fact, if you’re having trouble developing one, try Noshinku out! Studies have shown that habits are easier developed when tied to a cue or product. Try associating hand hygiene with one of Noshinku’s scents. You may be surprised at how easy it is to develop a hand sanitizer habit!

Nourishing, protecting and rejuvenating hands everywhere, this hand-sanitizer is a blend of substance and style. It is modern minimalism, the marriage of function and beauty. No wonder it won a Best Beauty Product Award from Byrdie in 2021. Noshinku is here to support my busy life, so that I can focus on actually living it.

With that, I leave behind words from Noshinku themselves:

NOSHINKU was founded on the belief that life is lived in the details and that every moment, no matter how small, impacts one’s quality of life. We exist to enable hands that never want to be idle; for hands with a persistent need to do interesting things in the world around them. We exist to keep hands healthy, because healthy hands have the power to change the world. #ForHandsThatDo. You can nominate someone in your life whose hands you admire for a chance to gift them a free NOSHINKU.

These thoughts are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

My 6 Favorite Winter Skincare Products

About two years ago, I started to experience skin rashes. The first time it happened, it was on the back of my neck after wearing a newly bought vintage sweater that was as itchy as hay, but cute as can be. At the time, I knew nothing about the importance of using skincare products in the winter. I had barely turned thirty and I remember thinking to myself, “Is this it? The downfall everybody has been telling me about?”

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out exactly what was causing the phenomenon. I had never taken care of my skin before, heard no such thing as specialized lotions. And I used bars of soap for both body and face. Apparently, that was blasphemous. I still remember my dermatologist’s face after my confession. It was then that I started to learn about skincare products.

Related Posts:

It turns out that the cause of my skin rashes was a combination of stress and eating certain foods. Particularly, unhealthy foods heavy in sugar. I found that the only skin cream that worked to treat the rash is a corticosteroid, which I learned in dental school has terrible side effects is used long term. I did not want to use the cream every day. So instead, I turned to my lifestyle and tried to mitigate the effects by reducing stress and eating foods that better support my body. Meanwhile, I learned a lot about skin companies that use natural ingredients.

My two favorite skin companies are True Botanicals and Aesop. Together, they make up my winter skincare product line. Since my skin issue tended to flare up in the winter and the summer, I thought I’d spend a few moments sharing my tried-and-true arsenal for battling skin issues in the winter.

My Favorite 6 Winter Skincare Products

+ TB Eye Cream – This eye cream really works! It reduces wrinkles and dark circles, resulting in smoother, brighter eyes. Unlike most eye creams that fake results using waxes, shimmer or silicone (ew!), this one features a bioactive moisture retention complex from the Resurrection Plant. The eye cream is infused with Tree Bark Extract which addresses the root cause of dark circles. Additionally, antioxidant-rich Turmeric, Coffee and Licorice Extracts depuff and brighten the 360° eye area to deliver youthful-looking, radiant eyes. This product is hypoallergenic and pregnancy safe. Best of all, it lasts a long time!

+ TB Face Cleanser – True Botanical’s face wash is my favorite. I never used to use a different soap for my face! Little did I know that the soap for our bodies are harsh for the delicate skin on our faces. TB has two face washes – Renew and Clear. I like the Renew facewash, which is better for dryer skin types such as mine. It really improves the dullness and dryness! It is also great for aging skin, as it reduces wrinkles. The key ingredients are green and white tea, aloe vera, and green tea seed oil. It also has a beautiful subtle smell that makes face-washing a luxurious joy. The wash is naturally scented with grapefruit, lavender, vetiver and jasmine. Lastly, my sister-in-law tried the Clear version and said it was great for acne-prone, oilier skin. She loved it as much as I did!

+ TB Hydrating Spray – TB’s nutrient mist is a god-send. I carried this product around with me all summer. I still remember it rolling down the aisles of a Southwest flight because it fell out of my purse during take off. A kind lady in the back must have realized my loss, as it was returned to me mid-flight. My roomie knew how much I loved this product and gifted it to me for Christmas. I can’t wait to have it all winter too! It really helps to quench my skin with antioxidants. It also sets makeup, in case you need a natural alternative. The product is hypoallergenic and surprisingly uses kombucha and algae extract as two of its main ingredients.

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+ Aesop Parsley Seed Anti Oxidant Hydrator – I have tried a decent number of Aesop’s facial moisturizers, but this one is the best for me. This light-weight, year-round moisturizer really hydrates my skin! It is rapidly absorbed and leaves the skin feeling as supple as a baby’s bottom. It is particularly good for winter, cold environments, air-conditioned environments, or simply chronically dry skin. If you prefer a heavier hydrator, the Camellia Nut also has wonderful results. I recommend it for right before bed. However, the Parsley Seed if just so great at any time of day. And alas, it lasts much longer.

+ Aesop Masque – I love anything that brightens and hydrates the skin. This overnight masque does just that! Most masques feel itchy to me while on. It pulls my skin taught and makes me feel very uncomfortable. But this masque by Aesop feels as cool as a cucumber upon first application. I sleep with it at night and wash it off in the morning. I can really tell the difference in my skin when I use it.

+ Aesop Hand Balm – We were first gifted an Aesop hand balm for hosting a Thanksgiving event in 2018. It changed our lives. My husband loved it so much that he actually bought his own tube of lotion. And when we are away from home, he can be caught snooping in my bag in search of mine. “To borrow some.” This hand balm is thick, creamy, and hydrating. It isn’t anything like other lotions. Gone are the signs of hard-working hands. Mine used to be riddles with calluses and skin tags, dry as the desert heat and as wrinkly as a well-bathed child. The texture could take a while to get used to, but I swear by it. Plus the scent is heavenly, and there’s a matching beaded hand soap that I’ve converted multiple friends to.

These products are by far my favorite winter skincare items in my medicine cabinet. Winter can be tough on our bodies. Keeping the skin hydrated and happy is very important.

Other things to do this winter:

+ Stretch to loosen up the joints

+ Be active to get the blood flow going

+ Get outdoors to seep in as much sunlight

+ Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

+ Eat foods rich in anti-oxidants to boost your immune system

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

Frugality: Avoiding the Call to Early Holiday Shopping

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

It’s been a minute since I’ve written a post about frugality in this space. Which is ironic because it’s our number one tactic for paying back $575k of student debt aggressively. But a few days ago I was irked by an advertisement that flickered its way through my InstaStories. It already bothers me that Instagram advertises like crazy on the app., but usually I can let it go and just flip through to the Stories I actually want to see. This one, however, was special. It was so special that I interrupted my husband’s reading to show him the ad.

The ad publicized an article written by New York Times three (four?) days ago. The article called people to start their Christmas shopping now in order to beat shipping delays. “Economic experts advise getting your holiday shopping done ASAP.” Ironically, this was published the day before SPY took a turn for the worse (Monday morning). Stocks are falling, consumer consumption is an all-time low as the government’s aid and renter’s protection ends, inflation is rising … and this is their idea for boosting the economy? Get people to spend more money, ASAP by instilling fear of missing out? I’m DEAD.

Before you rush out the doors at the behest of LA Times and start spending hard-earned dollars on Christmas gifts, please stop and think. Okay, so maybe little Johnny might not get the toy of the season this year. Isn’t it too early to HAVE a toy of the season? Also, will little Johnny really care about the same toy four months away? I mean… I don’t have them, but… kids, am I right? And what are we exactly teaching younger generations here?

I recently read in a book called Influence by Cialdini that toy stores have a tactic, which is to stock their shelves short of a very specific seasonal toy on purpose during holiday season. The toy is advertised heavily pre-holiday season so that kids are clamoring to get their hands on it. The parents, of course, promise the children to get that toy for them for Christmas if they are good, only to find that the toy is sold out and they cannot get their hands on it. Because the parents have made this small commitment to their child, they feel the need to buy the toy sometime early the following year (and substitute with a different toy during Christmas time so they don’t appear empty-handed), usually in January or February when the shelves are re-stocked. Anyone who works in the toy industry knows about this tactic (apparently), as the author of the book first-hand experienced seeing his neighbor two years in a row in the toy store on a February day. His friend who works at the toy industry confessed to the tactics toy stores use.

Can we please all agree that these consumerist ploys are not beneficial to any of us, only to the larger companies who make money off of us? Can I just say that this could be a tactic used to get us to spend money to “boost the economy” aka their wealth? Or perhaps it is the companies’ way of anticipating the repercussions of aggressive money printing, debt postponement, and the end of government aid at the end of the year and in calling for early Christmas shopping, securing our dollars right now before the possible dip?

Look, I get it. You want to show loved ones you love them. I myself publish gift guides in this space. Gift-giving is actually my love language (in case you didn’t know). But there is a line I draw.

I’ve written before about my thoughts on Black Friday. I’ve written advice about how to write a holiday no-gifting letter. I wrote about getting a group together to create a new norm of saying “No” to Secret Santa Gift Exchanges. I gave consumable Christmas gift ideas as well as ten really simple gift options. And if you wish to move the needle one way, I suppose your own actions do more than words, yes?

Anywho, if you fear missing out on a very specific purchase, by all means, rush out the door. But honestly, now isn’t the time. Now is the time to save your money. Stay frugal. I, for one, am staying put. No ploy for me. If the shelves end up running dry, it’ll be bread and cookies for everyone.

Italian Pasta Salad

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

Over the summer, we spent a weekend in Colorado and met up with a dear friend (our accountant, actually, who of course I became dear friends with) and his wife who was also a dental school classmate of mine. It was the first time we saw friends since the stay-at-home mandate and it was our first sign of normalcy, an indication that things would eventually be okay.

They were hosting us in their lovely backyard and as I watched them wrangle their two kids, put one down for a nap, entertain a talkative other, turn on a grill, make burgers, grill hot dogs, and continue a constant flow of conversation, I thought to myself, “Man these people are super heroes!” Which, I suppose, all parents are.

But the thing that stood out to me the most was when we sat down for lunch, with the older one seated at the end in his floating high chair and the table set for five, my friend turns and pulls out this pre-made pasta salad and a bowl of already chopped fruit from the fridge to add to our awesome burger and hot dog feast. I remember thinking to myself, “Genius!”

I am all about pre-making meals when hosting gatherings but sometimes, in between wanting to impress guests and wanting to serve fresh food, I do forget that the simpler things are usually best. What amazed me most about our friends was that they weren’t running around trying to pick up toys from the floor. They weren’t trying to prevent their kids from running around in the yard. They weren’t concerned about the details of the table setting. They were concerned about whether we wanted another beer or how much ice cream serving is good enough. They focused on their guests alone and I think that when you have two kids and two dogs, you should get a medal for that type of stuff.

I’m sure this isn’t the exact same Italian pasta salad that she served, but that is another great thing about recipes such as these. You can make them on the fly with whatever ingredients you have in stock and they turn out just as great. This recipe is easily made in big batches and it actually tastes better after a day of being in the fridge, soaking up the dressing’s goodness. Plus it looks good in any container.

My parents recently hosted a BBQ themselves and I made a huge batch of this and saved half for us (which we ate with salmon a couple meals in a row) and brought half to the party. I can’t believe I wasn’t making this sooner. It was such a breeze.


  • Rotini or Bow Tie Pasta (1 lb)
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 cup of small tomatoes
  • 1 cup of pitted olives
  • Other additions/veggies you want to add. Examples include bell peppers, roasted eggplant, roasted squash, pickled carrots, and more.
  • Italian Dressing, to taste
  • Feta cheese to crumble on top
  • Black pepper, to taste.

The Process:

I think the process is rather self-explanatory but here it is in a nutshell.

  1. Boil pasta according to the box instructions. Drain and shock in a bowl of cold water. If you skip shocking the pasta and toss the salad when it’s warm, the noodles will stick together and have a gummy consistency.
  2. Cut cucumber, tomatoes, and olives into similar sized pieces. You want this pasta salad to be easy to eat, which means you want everything to be about the same size.
  3. Mix pasta with fruit and veggies, toss with Italian Dressing, and top with Feta cheese and freshly crushed black pepper.

NOTE: You may notice that we have red onion in this pasta salad. Red onion has a pretty potent flavor and you don’t want to detract from the rest of the salad. If you do add red onion, you can soak it in the dressing prior to adding it in. I myself place cut red onions into a mason jar and soak for at least fifteen minutes so that the dressing pulls out some of the red onion’s harshness. It will also give the onion a sweeter, pickled taste. I toss both onion and dressing with the salad in step 3.

For those interested, the plates are side plates in Morel from East Fork Pottery and the coasters are Herringbone in Black from Fog Linen.

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How I Made $288 in July 2020 Blogging from Home

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.  I started blogging right after graduating from dental school without ever thinking I’d earn money from it. At the time, I turned to this blog as a place to record my daily life. Ever since teenhood, I have kept some sort of journal or diary, which has evolved over time from paper to Xanga to Melodramatic, and now onto WordPress. For almost twenty years, I’ve processed information through writing, but never once did I think I would earn money from it. It’s been three years since owning this site but I am happy to say that it is now getting a little bit of traction and has started to earn me a little income. If I wasn’t working as a dentist during the day, I could see how this could become a steady day job. Still, even with my day job, it had turned into a fun side-hustle for me. I decided to log my earnings for my own personal tracking but also to share publicly how much one can make blogging from home. Now that remote work seems to be in the near future for many, I do think that blogging is a good option for people who wish to work from home. Likewise, it is an opportunity to be your own boss and have your own space. Since you are writing your own content, you have the flexibility to work whenever you want to, which I know can be a good or bad thing. Of course, you can always practice habits that will separate work from home. Lastly, this is a great hobby or job for creative people. You have autonomy over how to execute your ideas and thoughts, making this a very freeing experience for those who don’t quite fall neatly into a traditional work environment or big company hierarchy. But first, how did I start to monetize the blog? If you are new to blogging, you may not know that you can earn income from owning such a space. I certainly didn’t. But then I took this course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketingand it changed my life. Related Posts:

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is working with brands that you love in order to spread the word about their products and in return receiving commissions for any referred patrons. Sometimes these are physical products from almost any company you can think of. Other times, they are intellectual products such as courses or services that help improve other people’s lives. The best part is that you don’t have to “sell out” to do affiliate marketing. You don’t have to scheme or cheat people. For me, it’s really just promoting companies that I believe in. For example, the companies I choose to partner with are those that promote sustainably sourced products using fair trade and ethical factory conditions. I like to promote small name businesses trying to create social or environmental impact. I try to keep it to an exclusive few even though I’ve been approved for over 2,000 different companies (so far). There are a few nuances to affiliate marketing and I didn’t know much about it prior to the course. But the course helped me to learn A LOT and it’s just another case of “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You could learn it all yourself, but it’s hard to without a guide to get you through the basics. I highly recommend this course if you wish to monetize your blog but don’t know where to start.

Extra Income Report

Now, onto the numbers. In July 2020, I made $288 in extra income. Of that, this is the breakdown:
  • All $288 is from sponsored posts. I count the monetary value of products that I receive as “income”. I do not accept products for review without first learning about the company and product. As a minimalist, I also only look for products that we currently need. I am honest in all my product reviews and list both pros and cons because I want to be as helpful to the consumer and the company, both.
I believe that July was a little low since I published half as many posts as June and May. Yet I received 800 more views than a normal month which shows that this blog is growing. I know it seems like not much, but as something I do for fun, I think it’s a nice little additional income. Over time, I hope to continue posting more income reports. Maybe it will help others looking for a side-hustle get a feel for whether blogging could become an alternative for them. As always, my goal with this blog is to promote intentional living. Writing is a way to create a lifestyle that is in tune with what you want to do. Sure, it may not be the perfect job, but if working from home and having flexibility help allow you to live your dream life (one that includes traveling the world or becoming a stay-at-home parent), then I hope this space brings you that value. If you are interested in starting a blog, I use WordPress. Feel free to sign up using my affiliate link. If you already have a blog, I want to refer you to the course that helped me monetize mine. It’s a really great starting point. It’s called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing.

Intentional Living: Vitruvi

The world’s been pretty topsy-turvy. The trees outside the bedroom window have assumed their once-a-year summer blooms. Bright pinks and yellows littering our skyline, but I haven’t had the time to notice. I teeter-totter between slow-living and stress, which makes the time pass with such speed. I haven’t taken the time to stop and ask, but now I do.

“How are you?”

Are you coping like us? Is there suffering? What can I do?

During this time, I hope you are finding time to focus on wellness and mental health. I know I haven’t had as much as I would like, but I sure as heck try. It’s all we can do, anywho.

One of the things I’ve been attempting is simply breathe.  Essential oils by Vitruvihelp to set the mood I need to get through one more day. Or rather, one afternoon after an especially trying work day.


I don’t have a fancy humidifier by any means. I have a plain white bulky thing that I purchased about a year and a half ago using a Nordstrom gift card which I received from my father-in-law. It was a gift for turning thirty. I think the humidifier is meant for babies. Either way, it works.


I add a dash of Vitruvi essential oil blends to get me in the right mindset. I prefer the blends because it simplifies my life. Of course, if you’d prefer you can order the essential oils separately and mix your own potion.

I love turning on the humidifier and using the SLEEP blend right before bed. Think fresh linens and soft florals. It runs until I wake in the morning. It is also a good choice during a soak in the bath, or while reading in bed. Other great evening blends are NIGHTCAP and DUSK.


In the wee hours, after I’ve had my morning coffee, I switch to the BOOST blend by Vitruvi. Notes of Juniper, Grapefruit, Bergamot and Lime really liven me up as I write a long list of things I want to get done. If you are struggling to face the day, perhaps switch out the task manager with a list of things you are grateful for.


Point is, scents have the special ability to take us to places we are fond of. There’s a blend for all your needs.

Dreaming of vacation? Try RETREAT.

Wishing you were outdoors? Reach for GROVE or PACIFIC.

Hoping to get some deep cleaning done? Turn on CLEAN SWEEP for inspiration.

I know it isn’t much. But during times like these, anything that helps us breathe easier and experience life better is absolute gold.

This post is in partnership with Vitruvi. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Apple Walnut Tea Cake

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

This post is in partnership with KitchenAid and Le Creuset. Both companies have agreed to partner with the blog as I document my baking adventures. This particular recipe was modified from the book Tartine No.3. Instead of the Kefir, I substituted Bulgarian yogurt. I learned how to bake bread with Tartine and own two Tartine books. This third edition goes through the nuances of different flours and I would highly recommend to those who have the basics of bread baking down but are looking to discover a little more. 

It’s Monday, the first week where I resume normal schedule at one of my dental offices. Back to four days a week, 9.5 to 6. When I heard the news last Tuesday, I have to be honest, I was a bit saddened. I really enjoyed the quarantine and found that it helped me to slow down my pace, We got to experience “retirement life” and I am now jealous of Mike’s ability to continue on in this way while I go back to work.

It isn’t that I dislike work. And I’m not ungrateful for the opportunity. I am quite conscious of the people without work, who have been struggling to get by these past few months, so I know how lucky I am. It’s just, I was enjoying the leeway that life gave me, which I never give myself. For once I was forced to have no obligations or responsibilities.

I spent the latter half of last week lamenting my loss, coupled with jamming my few moments of free time with “activities”. Which goes to show my need for a forced pause. The activities were “slow” – but still, the moments were teeming with shenanigans, to say the least.

These included cooking, baking, seeing loved ones and old friends, running and hiking every morning, being out in nature, practicing yoga, reading books, meeting for a book club, a Zoom coffee date, writing a ton, playing board games and watching movies. My anxiety-driven state pushed me to do more with my time, cherishing every moment, squeezing out more than usual with what I had left, as if a drowning woman gasping for air – a contrasting dichotomy that displays exactly who I am and how I want to live.


I know I shouldn’t think of this time as an “end” to something good, but in a way, it is. It was a period of self-reflection and self-discovery even beyond what I had already achieved. It coincided with the close of the bakery and for the first time in a year, I was baking for myself. It was afternoons of tea cakes and mornings of matcha lattes, coffee lip drips and lounging about couches. It was a time for rediscovery of fiction and podcasts, as well as re-connection with friends and family.

In celebration of all said things for the month of April, I baked a cake. A life flushed with metaphors, I wanted to have a celebratory marker rather than a funeral. This is my ode to April.


Apple Walnut Tea Cake


  • 1 cup apple grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup leaven
  • 1/2 cup Bulgarian yogurt
  • 1.5 cups Spelt flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp clove
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil


The Process:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grate apples until you have 1 cup. I found that an average apple is about 3/4 cup.
  3. Place the grated apple, egg, leaven and yogurt in a KitchenAid stand mixer and mix on medium speed with a whisk attachment until well-incorporated. If your leaven is thick, you may need to stop the mixer half-way and scrape the sides with a spatula.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar and spices (all the way until the salt) and mix together.
  5. Add the olive oil to the dry ingredients and use two knives to cut the oil into the flour mixture until well-incorporated.
  6. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer, along with the walnuts and mix on medium speed until well mixed.
  7. Take a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and spray the inside with baking spray. I like to line the bottom with parchment paper for easy removal.
  8. Bake for 60-70 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through for even baking.
  9. Remove from the oven and let cool in the loaf pan for 30 minutes.
  10. Invert onto a baking rack, and let cool completely to room temperature.
  11. Slice and enjoy.


This loaf is on the drier side due to the walnuts (quite the contrast to the Lemon Poppyseed Loaf). It also is a bit earthier in flavor, more robust thanks to the spices, and hardly sweet at all. The apple is a very light flavor, so if you’d like a more moist, apple-like cake, you may add grated apple until you reach your preferred consistency, perhaps another fourth of a cup. For me, the dryness and walnuts add a coarse texture to the loaf, which I absolutely love. It pairs really well with a matcha latte.

TheDebtist may receive a small commission via links throughout this post. As always, thank you for supporting the companies that are behind the workings of this blog.