Travel: Day Hike from Muir Woods to Stinson Beach

The first weekend of March, we did the 10-mile hike from Muir Woods to Stinson Beach. It was a Friday and the woods was absolutely empty. You have to reserve a parking spot ahead of time and pay for two entrance fees into Muir Woods. The entrance fees were $15 per person and the parking lot fee was another $8.50. You can absolutely do 90% of this hike if you start at Stinson Beach, but just know that you cannot enter Muir Woods without a pass (or well, you risk being stopped and checked for a ticket). To be honest, no one stopped us on the day that we went, but then again, no one was there. It was magical. If you ask me if the fee was worth it, I would give a resounding 100% YES, but only because we literally had the park to ourselves. We arrived at the parking lot and stopped by the restrooms before heading into the woods. The first part of the hike is easy. I recommend taking a left turn at the first bridge and hiking above the woods to begin. You can hike the bottom half of the woods when you return.

If you take my suggestion to start hiking up after the first bridge, you would be up in the treetops walking above the quiet trails below. You’ll reach a dead end eventually, at which point you make a left to continue onto the trail. If you chose to stick to the forest floor, make a left at the fourth bridge and you will end up on the same spot.

The first half of the hike takes you steadily along a wide dirt path underneath the shade of magnificent Redwood trees. The trail is well-maintained and well demarcated. There are some steps, but nothing stressful on the way to Stinson. I must warn you that the way back is much more difficult, as you’d have to climb many consecutive steps returning from the beach. If you aren’t an avid hiker, perhaps doing a one-way trip and catching a lift back to the parking lot is best. We were just fine, but my thighs were a bit sore the next day. Then again, they weren’t sore enough to stop us from going on a 7-mile hike. Enjoy the shade of the trees, the silence underneath the canopies, the soft Earth underneath your boots, the smell of sap and the occasional breeze. Eventually, you will pop up on the hillside and if you’re lucky, it’ll be a charmingly sunny afternoon with blades of green grass lining the hills.

The views from the top of the mountainside are beautiful on a clear day. You can see the Golden Gate bridge, San Francisco, as well as Marin County. You’ll see mountaintops peeking over the ocean. I saw a couple, far out in the distance, hand-in-hand frolicking quite literally down the hillside. I must say, I felt the same way.

Eventually, you will re-enter the trees again, but the second half is different. Less moist, less coverage, more sunlight. Plus, this portion is all down-hill. Don’t let that deceive you though, as the rough part lies in the return journey. But for now, enjoy the branches and tree trunks. They’re kind of fun to look at whether they be stick straight or wavy.

Eventually, you’ll come to a clearing which is the first time you’ll see Stinson Beach. You are almost there! Perhaps another mile to go at this point.

You can hear the cars on a nearby road passing by. It made us turn around and Mike spotted two deer. The next series of photographs shows the two deer looking at us as we were looking at them. They ambled over for a second, until the sounds of other walkers shooed them away. See if you can spot their curious selves trying to discreetly peer at us from the bushes.

Of course, the deer wasn’t the only cool wildlife present. We saw hawks circling above us in search of bunny rabbits, or so I gander. A banana slug or two made me jump in surprise. A few colorful mushrooms popped out of the forest floor, and even a beautiful lone flower said hello on our walk home.

Once in a while, do look back. This is a photograph I snatched after realizing that behind me lay a bundle of rocks hidden in the hills. We finally arrived at Stinson Beach after 2.5 hours of walking. To be frank, we were going at a relaxed pace, stopping every so often to snap photographs and observe the wildlife. At Stinson, we ate at Parkside Cafe, which I would highly recommend. We walked to the beach and stepped into a few tiny shops before heading back.

On the way back, I would cross the 4th bridge back into Muir Woods and walk the wooden boardwalks within the park. If your legs have it in them, I would recommend some of the side paths to the east of the park. Please do take note, if you are trying to catch the gift shop, they close earlier than the park does and I would recommend getting back by 3pm to check out the souvenirs by the entrance. We were hoping to snag one for Mike’s mom’s birthday but we returned to the entrance a little after 4pm, which is right when the gift shop closed. You can always return to the eastern trails (which are fairly short) until the park closes (around 5pm).

Overall, this was one of our top five day hikes that we have ever done. There’s a lot to see and experience, and the terrain had a good mixture of everything. Now that we’ve walked Muir Woods though, I would skip the entrance fees and the parking fees next time and start on the trails elsewhere. I feel like everything in the park can be seen in one day. There are many other trailheads that have free parking and that land you in similar areas. Just make sure to arrive early enough to snag a parking spot along scenic highway!

If you liked this post, you may like the other hikes I’ve written about.

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World Water Day with Pact

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

World Water Day is an annual day of observance by the UN which highlights the importance of fresh water. The lack of available fresh water has been apparent to me since birth, since I was born in a third world country that depends heavily on plastic bottled water as the main source of clean drinking water. Of course, not many people in the country had access to it at the time. This was in the late 1980’s, but even when I returned as a dental missionary in 2015, I found that the people still largely had limited access to clean water. In fact, soda and juice was cheaper to buy at restaurants and stores, which resulted in a high proportion of dental caries (cavities) in the anterior region (front teeth) -a location of tooth decay that is uncommon in other nations.

It might horrify you to learn that the cleanest water they hope to drink is fresh rainwater from the sky collected in buckets during rainy season. It might surprise you to hear that toilet paper is not used in public bathrooms, but rather, a murky tub of communal water is splashed onto dirty bottoms. Nearly 5 million people in my home country, The Philippines, rely on unsafe and un-sanitized water. Additionally, over 9 million people live in places of unimproved sanitation which increases the risk of water-borne illnesses and disease. The few that do have access to clean water are contributing to the massive pollution of the islands’ surrounding ocean with plastic bottles while also littering the land. So when Pact reached out to me to be an advocate for World Water Day, I decided to take on the challenge.

Pact produces clothing and home textiles using organic cotton. Organic cotton uses 91% less water than traditional cotton. Globally, only .93% of cotton grown is organic, and farms can save 58 billion liters of water in a single year from growing with these standards versus conventional cotton. Not only is water saved, but the water is then reusable and not polluted. Cotton farming consumes 16% of the world’s pesticides and only utilizes 2.5% of cultivated land. Lastly, the fashion industry currently uses 4% of all fresh water. Those are percentages that should make anyone stop in their tracts.

I have been an advocate for Pact for a long time and have talked about their undergarments as well as their towels on this blog and social media. My husband loves his Pact boxers and I absolutely love their sports bras. Additionally, Pact’s beautiful waffle towels are the only ones we use. I am excited to share that in 2020, Pact consumers saved 35+ million gallons of water by choosing to shop Pact over other companies that use traditional cotton. Pact believes whole-heartedly in water conservation. In fact, they share their company’s conservation efforts on product pages, at checkout, within brand content, and through emails. So next time you need to buy clothing, underwear, bedsheets, and towels, consider Pact.

In an effort to promote Pact, TheDebtist readers can use the following code at checkout to receive 25% OFF of any order from March 19 to 25: thedebtist20. Of course, the best solution and practice is to buy less and use more. But shall you choose to buy, choose wisely what companies you support. I am an advocate for mitigating environmental damage by creating the smallest carbon footprint in living a minimalist life.

In case you’d like to make a difference through action, here are a few easy ways to reduce water waste in general.

  1. Take shorter showers. When I was young, my mom grilled into our heads to take only five minute showers so as not to waste water and time. She also had us turn on the shower to get wet, then turn off the shower to shampoo our hair and soap our bodies. Then we turn on the water to rinse and that is it. Whenever we took too long in the shower, she would start timing it and come in to tell us when shower time was over.
  2. Turn off water whenever possible. My mom was also very adamant about turning off the water when we washed dishes. We would rinse dishes on one side of the sink, then turn off the water while we scrubbed and soaped the dishes in another part of the sink. Only after we’ve scrubbed and soaped ALL the dishes did we rinse them in one go. It was not only water efficient, it was efficient overall. This doesn’t only apply to washing dishes, however. We turned off water to brush our teeth as well. You can also do the same when washing your hands.
  3. Wear clothes more than once. My mom disliked it when we wore our clothes only once and then threw them in the hamper. She wanted us to wear shirts, pajamas, and pants multiple times. Of course, if we ever wore clothes to school or out, we would wash them. But clothes worn at home should be worn a full week. I know that seems dramatic, but she was obviously very water conscious.
  4. Use a dishwasher. Studies have shown that green dishwashers waste less water when they are filled with dirty dishes than handwashing does. I first learned this volunteering at a regenerative farm in South Orange County. Treehugger posted a very good post explaining what it would take to make hand-washing more efficient than dishwashing here. What you want to avoid is running a dishwasher that isn’t full of dirty dishes. In a two-three person household, this may mean not running the dishwasher every night. Of course, using less utensils overall will help as well.
  5. Consider xeriscaping. Xeriscaping is a way of landscaping your backyards and front yards with plants that require very little water. Green lawns are pretty to look at but they use a lot of water to maintain. Desert plants such as cacti are more water efficient and look good, too.

There you have it! Ways to celebrate World Water Day every day.

Photo by mrjn Photography on Unsplash

Morning Coffee with Fellow

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

We have been big fans of Fellow for a long time. Our favorite stove-top kettle has been their matte black Stagg Kettle for many years, and we aren’t about the change that anytime soon. Fellow has since then launched their own line of products that allow for an all-Fellow pour-over set-up. The pour-over set includes Fellow-specific filters, a grinder, coffee containers, and even drinking vessels. They’ve also upped their kettle kettle game to an electric version that is efficient in heating water. Luckily, our friends have the entire Fellow line-up and I wanted to share what the experience was like in this honest review.

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Electric Stagg Kettle

One of the biggest upgrades Fellow has made is to provide an electric option for its famous Stagg Kettle. A benefit of an electric kettle is the quick temperature increase as well as accurate temperature setting. This is imperative for coffee lovers everywhere as the temperature of the water affects the quality of the cup of coffee. I am here to attest that the electric version heats up way quicker than the stove-top, taking less than half the time! There is also an option to hold the temperature consistently for up to 60 minutes. You want the water to be consistently at the same temperature during the entire pour-process. And for the more technical coffee drinkers, there is also a stopwatch that allows one to time the pour, which is another important factor for creating the optimal cup of Joe. Nerdier than that? The EKG+ also has Bluetooth connectivity to the Acaia Brewbar Tablet App! Lastly, the electric version is easier to maintain in top-notch condition, as the bottom isn’t exposed to constant scraping against the grates of a stove. Our traditional Stagg kettle has been well-loved and its daily use has resulted in the peeling of the black film on the bottom, exposing the metal silver color. It still works well, but the aesthetics isn’t so great. When the time comes for us to retire Ole Faithful, we may opt for the electric version.

Ode Brew Grinder

In addition to the electric Stagg, Fellow has released its own grinder called the Ode Brew Grinder. The grinder works well for a pour-over, but it isn’t the ideal grinder if you also own an espresso machine. It has a limited range of coarseness when it comes to grinding and it’s finest setting isn’t really that fine. Typically, pour-overs have a coarser setting than an espresso machine and unfortunately, Fellow has created a grinder specifically for pour-overs. However, if you are strictly a drip coffee kind of person, then the Fellow machine delivers! It gets bonus points for it’s matte-black, minimalist aesthetic and simple-to-use dial. One must note that it cannot hold more than a pour’s worth of beans. Unlike other grinders which allow you to dump an entire bag of whole beans into its funnel, Fellow has eliminated the large hopper, likely for improved aesthetics and reduced wasted space. Sadly, their hopper only holds about 40 grams of coffee beans. The grinder also comes with a magnetically aligned catch that would be perfect if not for the rim, which actually causes a good amount of fly-away coffee grinds. At least the built-in knocker reduces coffee retention. A positive note for parents out there: the grinder does display significant noise reduction and is much quieter than the coffee grinder we own.

Pour-Over Set

Fellow has created a pour over set to compete with companies such as Chemex, Kalita Wave, and Hario’s V-60. Let’s start with the dripper itself. Just by looking at it, I wasn’t expecting much in terms of quality to be honest – but I was pleasantly surprised! The dripper has a flat bottom like the Kalita Wave and a very tall column-like shape. I thought that this structure would affect the taste of the pour-over since a majority of the coffee would be sitting at the bottom of the dripper and the column-like shape would keep the grounds stagnant. However, I was amazed at the brightness of the cups of coffee this pour over set made! It may be due to the holes at the bottom of the dripper, which are many and angled at different directions. The dripper works very quickly, moving the water through the coffee and into the glass carafe in half the time that a Chemex would. Perhaps this reduced contact with the coffee and the aeration resulting from the quickly moving, angled drip is what causes the coffee to taste bright. It’s actually a great dripper for novices who aren’t much into the intricacies of creating the perfect cup. This allows for easier, faster brewing with less effort. A great design for the masses! Plus it comes in two sizes. I favor the taller size, so that I could make coffee for all my friends, too!

I am also in love with the 20-ounce double-wall, hand blown, borosilicate glass carafe. It retains heat very well, and there is no condensation at all in the glass. The carafe is cool on the outside and comfortable to hold. Additionally, the lip makes pouring the coffee from carafe to mug quite enjoyable! There is no handle, but the neck is slim enough for my tiny hands. And if you like to sip your coffee, there is a silicone lid included which keeps your “pot” of coffee hot while you enjoy portions throughout the day! It is truly a well-crafted piece.

The only thing I do not like about the pour-over system is their highly specific filters. Since the dripper looks nothing like the other drippers on the market, you essentially have to buy Fellow coffee filters to use this pour-over set. The filters have wide folds, which means when water is poured in a circular motion, some water may be poured outside of the filter. My recommendation is to pour in a zig zag motion, since the circular motion is less relevant with a column-shaped dripper. The set pack includes 30 filters. It may also concern frugalists that the pour-over set is at a higher price point, costing $99.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I would recommend Fellow’s entire line-ups for novice coffee drinkers who primarily drink drip coffee, value aesthetics and can afford the higher price point. It really does make for a beautiful set up in a minimalist kitchen, and you can feel the quality of each product. I can see Fellow’s products lasting and they have a timeless look about them, too. If you’d like to drink great tasting coffee effortlessly, I would recommend starting with this Social Kit, which includes the electric kettle and the pour-over set with the larger sized dripper. Since I do not love the grinder, I am grateful that this set does not include it. You can always buy the Fellow grinder if you want it to match the Social Kit, but I would recommend going with a different one if you have an espresso machine at home. Speaking of espressos, Fellow has wonderful drinking vessels. These stackable Monty Milk Art Cups are so sleek in black and come in three variable sizes for all your favorite espresso-based drinks.

A Review of GetAway House: The Disconnect City Dwellers Need

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

For the average city dweller, daily living can feel a bit too connected at times, even after months of isolation and quarantine. I would know. Inhabiting a live-work loft in the middle of a busy downtown street has its quirks. Our lives are interwoven with the thrumming of daily activity; Cars honking at the corner stop sign, music blaring at the neighboring bar, sirens wailing in the distance, and ding-dongs hanging in the air after ditchers have made a run for it. Couple that with the demands of what I now call a modern life – work tasks available 24/7 thanks to our WFH lifestyle – and you’ve got yourself an existence wherein even our cellphones and inboxes are buzzing. So what can urban dwellers do to escape the city’s incessant rhythm?

Book GetAway! GetAway House provides tiny “cabins” for those in search of rest and recreation, or those simply wishing to disconnect in order to reconnect. You may have seen these golden-yellow, wood-paneled container homes plastered all over Instagram.

We quickly traded in our fast-paced city flow for a chance to hover and float above the mountains and amongst the stars in the night sky. In this post, I share all that you need to know about these magical city-escape pods. Spoiler Alert: They are awesome! And just as an aside, this is not a sponsored post. We paid full price in order to try GetAway, and we have already made plans to do it again in a heartbeat.

What is GetAway House?

GetAway cabins are essentially shipping containers that embody tiny home dreams come true. Well, mine anyway. The company’s focus is to provide repose to those living amidst the hustle and bustle of America’s largest cities. That’s why most GetAway cabins offer escape from locations such as Los Angeles, New York, and Washington D.C., to name a few.

Popularized on Instagram by their iconic bedside windows overlooking tree-lined cliffs and blankets of snow, it’s no wonder these “cabins” are coveted by many. GetAway beckons even the non-recluse to immerse themselves fully in nature, without the need to separate oneself from city comforts.

What To Expect In Each Cabin

Each cabin is furnished with a comfortable mattress, plenty of pillows and white fluffy sheets. For those who have little ones or prefer to travel in groups, bunk bed options are available. However, I really enjoyed having a single bed unit, since the bunk beds could impede the large window’s views.

The kitchenette is equipped with a small fridge, a functioning sink which provides drinkable water, an electric stove, and all the utensils and appliances needed for the most essential cooking.

There are also provisions for purchase, such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and a sustenance box that includes pasta, soup, oatmeal, cookies, and beef jerky. The sustenance box costs $30 and is useful for those who wish to bring only themselves and the most minimalist of essentials. For the more frugal, I would recommend swinging by a grocery store prior to your arrival to pick up your favorite food items.

Each GetAway House has a full bathroom. The camping averse will be excited to learn that there is a flushable toilet and a stand-in shower that spits out hot water, with good pressure to boot! They provide all the necessary textiles as well as biodegradable body wash, shampoo and conditioner. In order to protect the environment, they request using only biodegradable products during your stay.

Lastly, the cabins have a bench, small desk, and chair – enough space to perform all sorts of activities. Having thought of it all, GetAway provides plenty of reading material, a lamp, outlets with USB charging stations, a deck of cards, and a pamphlet full of activity ideas.

We were able to lay out a 500-piece puzzle, as well as eat our meals comfortably on the table. Those hoping to get away and write have an inspiring view of the outdoors while sitting on a writer’s desk. There is even a cellphone lockbox, to help keep phone addicts disconnected thus allowing for more introspection and rejuvenation.

Other Things To Look Forward To

Outside each cabin is a picnic table and two deck chairs looking out over the mountainside. There is a fire pit, however, California had a state-wide fire ban in effect during our stay so we were not able to roast marshmallows over an open fire. When the fire ban is not in place, Los Angelenos can grill veggies and meat and gather with loved ones outdoors. We tried our best to sit on the deck chairs in the middle of winter with mugs of tea in hand, but the air was still cold. One tip I would tell guests is to bring a warm blanket, for star gazing and lounging around in the late evenings.

As much as we avoided the outdoors after sun down, we were frolicking in the wild during the day time. GetAway Los Angeles provided a list of nearby hikes to try, and we were very pleased with their suggestions. We took an especially long, 5-mile trek in Lake Arrowhead called Pinnacles Trail which took us through desert lands and had us clambering up boulders to its peak. We balanced it out the next day by meandering along the Heaps Peaks Arboretum’s 0.8-mile loop in search of bobcats. On the campground itself, there was a beautiful 2-mile nature walk for the taking. Since it was winter time, we had the pleasure of traipsing through snow on a bright, crisp March morning. Canine companions are allowed in the GetAway cabins for a small additional fee, and we saw many dogs walking excitedly in the area. Unfortunately, we could not bring Theo along since feline friends are currently not allowed, but I was okay with it since it allowed us the freedom to do more activities.

For those who are worried about the weather, there is an AC unit and a heater in each GetAway home. We stared at the snow outside cuddling in the warmth of our space. As much as I loved the sunshine, my favorite times were those evenings. Watching stars move across the night sky whilst wedged against the glass window pane underneath warm sheets was seriously otherworldly. I woke up several times at night just to stare at the sky and spot movements in this vast universe I call home. Our little hide-away boxcar was so comfortable and relaxing, I truly did not want to leave.

Is GetAway Worth It?

Nothing compares to my experience at GetAway in terms of unplugging from daily activity and finding true isolation – the kind that doesn’t leave you feeling lonely. It was worth every daily struggle, every waking moment, every penny spent – and I don’t say that often.

It’s ironic, really, that every time I disconnect from daily life, the more grounded I become. I think more people need to incorporate some sort of unplugging habit into their life – whether that’s dedicating one day a week free from screen time or creating limits on social media apps. It really does affect my overall happiness. Creating boundaries for myself is now more crucial than ever. I love that GetAway provides that physical boundary that is so essential to disconnecting.

Making Getting Away a Habit

If you want to make getting away a habit, you most certainly can. GetAway House has a Getaway Often Club, and I definitely aim to be a part of it. After booking seven nights, you receive credit for one free night. Make your first booking with my referral link and receive $25 OFF your first stay (minimum two nights required, but you’ll thank your lucky stars for it!). Every friend who has experienced GetAway has told me they can’t wait to do it again. What can I say? The mountains, they are calling.

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How I Made $616.46 in February 2021 Blogging From Home

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

February was a good blogging month considering I made a little bit more than January over a fewer number of days. February was a shorter month and I worked more days in dentistry, covering for doctors who were on vacation. I wish I could have spent more time blogging and there were definitely a few goals that I did not reach, but overall, I am still happy with my earnings. In February 2021, I earned $616.46 blogging from home. Before I go into the nitty gritty details of this month’s Extra Income Report, which you are always welcome to scroll down to below, here is a little summary as to how I make money blogging, as well as a few recommended posts if you want to increase your income.

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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.

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 February 2021, I made $616.46 in extra income.

Of that, this is the breakdown:

  • $73 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. Companies that have supported the blog this month include TushyMonk ManualLunettePact, and Everlasting Comfort.
  • The rest of the income ($543.76) was due to affiliate link commissions. These are links that I have posted throughout my blog prior which continually earn me commission for every successful sale.

This is the first income from the blog this year! So far, since March of 2020, I have earned $3,419!!

I know it doesn’t seem like 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.

Monthly Goals: March 2021

February always feels like a month gone by. I ended up working more days in February, covering for doctors who went on vacation, so I did not reach as many blogging goals as I had anticipated. Despite that, the blog saw an increase in income, as well as an increase in traffic. I was able to keep up with my personal goals, focusing on building meaningful relationships with my patients, family and friends.

A lot of things has happened in our life career-wise as well! Mike received three offers for a full-time job and he accepted one! It has been one year since he worked full-time, but we are very happy with the offers he received. This means we will no longer need to pay for our own health insurance, he will get a 401K match, and we have all the other fun benefits that come with steady work.

I also took on a new role as the wholesale director for Rye Goods Co., the same bakery that I used to work midnight shifts at two years ago. We now have a storefront on Lido Island in Newport Beach, so do come say hi when you have the chance! Now, I am a part-time dentist, part-time blogger, and part-time bakery wholesale director. I decide my hours and schedule, and am contracted for all three positions. I am very excited for my new way of working and grateful for all the people I get to interact with. Additionally, with the exception of the two days I work as a dentist, I get to work from home with my husband and enjoy afternoon sunshine in the living room with my cat. My entire life has changed for the better after I saved up enough money to financially independent and quit a job I disliked. I told myself that I will never take this for granted and not waste this opportunity. With that, here are my goals for March.

Personal:

  • Wake up early every morning and utilize the wee hours for my T.I.M.E. ritual: 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 one hour before bed and limit Instagram use to 30 minutes per day.
  • Use the Monk Manual every day to guide my intentional living.
  • Create continuation between days by preparing the night before for the next morning’s most important tasks.
  • Meditate with the TIDE app every morning.
  • Stay offline one day per week.

Health:

  • Exercise 5 days a week.
  • Immerse in the outdoors 3 days a week.
  • Use Magnesium Spray to boost energy, lift mood, calm the mind, and relax the muscles.
  • Clean eating with whole foods and regenerative foods.
  • Try food journaling.

Work:

  • Create systems for my new role at Rye Goods Co. in order to improve the organization of all wholesale clients.
  • Familiarize myself with the billing and invoice platform for Rye Goods Co.
  • Begin to onboard new clients by the end of March.
  • 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 7.4K Pinterest views.
  • Top last month’s $600 blogging income.

Home:

  • Put away things daily.
  • Do a pantry clean out and organization.
  • Declutter paper and digital files and email.

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%.
  • Cancel our health insurance now that Mike got a full-time job!
  • Get our taxes filed.

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

How Skillshare Can Grow A Blog

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

Skillshare is a platform wherein solopreneurs can learn skills taught by other like-minded folk. Fellow bloggers are teaching courses on the site, as well as learning from each other. I, myself, have a Skillshare account and have written about how it can help one stay productive during times of quarantine. I have been able to grow my blog tremendously since enrolling in their membership program, which gives unlimited access to all the classes available on their platform. As you can see from my monthly income reports, I have made more than a few thousand since we first shut-down for COVID-19 in March! I attribute my blogging income to this course for Affiliate Marketing by Making Sense of Cents and Skillshare. Today, I will be sharing with you guys a few classes that bloggers can take in order to help them grow.

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Classes on Skillshare That Will Grow Your Blog

There are many classes you can take on Skillshare that will grow the blog. Skillshare is divided into the categories “Create”, “Build”, and “Thrive”. All three categories have something to offer to solopreneurs, but bloggers especially.

Create

Bloggers are creatives by nature. Our work requires the making of something-out-of-nothing, balanced with making something-worth-reading. For the written aspect of blogging, there is a sub-section for Creative Writing which bloggers may find useful. For example, courses on how to write your own personal story can help one start to find their voice for a blog or book. Speaking of books, there’s a course on how to format eBooks in Adobe, as well as courses on how to self-publish. There are even courses to get one out of writer’s block, wherein prompts and topics are suggested to get the juices flowing. Sometimes, we need that, too.

However, we do more than write. We create imagery for our posts as well. The sub-section Photography will contain tips on Still-Life Photography, How to Get Paid Doing Travel Photography, and even How to Take Photos for Instagram. Capturing visual stories is important if Instagram is your line of work. Likewise, it is important if your blog is photo-driven. And if you’re like me, capturing everyday objects of the mundane nature, such as coffee mugs and nail color, then these courses may help you elevate the imagery from boring to something that draws someone in.

In the Creative section, you will also find courses for Web Development. I personally use WordPress, which allows me to design this blog in a simple way, but if you wish to make a blog from scratch, this section may be for you! There are courses on CSS, Javascript, Python and more.

Build

The Build section, in my opinion, is the most useful for bloggers. This is where I’ve spent a majority of my previous month. Business Analytics is a fairly new concept for me, but I am obsessed with it! I never realized before that all this work I was putting into the blog space was unfocused and gave less return than it can. It is still far from optimized but I am learning. I took courses on Google Analytics and have learned how to use Google Webtools to see if what I was writing was leading to engagement with my audience. I started this space to write for my own sake, but over time, a community of readers has been created through this space and I want to start writing for my audience, too. By using analytics, I am able to better cater to my readers as well as grow my blog.

Another sub-section is Freelance and Entrepreneurship. This area is a more general section where bloggers and non-bloggers can learn how to price their products, make a living as a creative, and start a successful business. This goes hand-in-hand with the Marketing sub-section, where the focus is more on growing an audience rather than improving content, although I have found that the latter can drive the former.

Thrive

Viewed by some as the least useful section, I would consider Thrive to be my favorite one. In here, you will find ways to organize life for increased productivity as well as meaningful work. I have met many entrepreneurs who can’t seem to get anywhere, not because of a lack of creativity but because of a lack of structure and focus. Creating a business requires both. It can be difficult especially after being trained for many years by the school system to follow structure. As you know from this space, I am all about creating an intentional lifestyle. It may not surprise you to find out that I am even more arduous in creating the ideal work life. I utilize a combination of creating monthly goals, planning my day, and maintaining a peaceful WFH environment to drive productivity. Without it, I would be helpless.

Skillshare really is a great platform for new bloggers and beginning entrepreneurs. It also serves as a starting place for those who want to become a creative without having the experience. If you find that your current 9-5 job isn’t giving you meaning, then this is a way to dabble in a side project that could turn into a line of work.

If you are unsure, you can always try Skillshare for FREE for 14 days. If you really like it, receive a 40% OFF discount from an annual membership using my affiliate link and the coupon code ANNUAL40AFF. This code is available until March 31, 2021. I highly recommend signing up if you are serious about growing your own business and don’t know how. There are many avenues to take, and you can learn about the topics that interest you.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

J. Hannah: A Jewelry Line that Rings True

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

J. Hannah is a brand after my own heart, and the founder, Jess Hannah Revesz, is a kindred spirit. She has been described as a minimalist, chic fashionista but when I read her interviews, I see her as more of a muted, sophisticated, ethereal soul practicing restrained maximalism through intentional design choices – and it translates well to her jewelry line.

Growing up, my mother, who was a fashionista in the truest sense of the word, would always describe my style as “old age”. Despite her efforts to mold me into someone who loved diamonds, glitter and glam, my calling remained with materials that portrayed their travels through time – like iron that rusts, silver that dulls, and linens that yellow. So it only makes sense that I fell in love with a jewelry line that mimics vintage styles using 100% recycled materials of the finest quality – the epitome of making something new of old. In fact, 100% of J. Hannah’s cast gold and diamonds are recycled.

When Jess began her company, she was herself making each and every piece. As the company grew, she has maintained that level of sustainability. It goes beyond sourcing truly good materials, although she does that too. Her efforts extend throughout the entire company, from employment to packaging. All employees are guaranteed a fair wage and good working environments. The packaging remains as plastic free as possible. And the products? Well, they remain hand-made.

The collection of jewelry contains styles you would have found in your grandmother’s vanity drawer. Signet rings and hoop earrings dot the online catalog, with modern takes on pendants and lockets mixed in for good measure. Despite the vintage inspiration, the pieces have been updated for the modern woman. This pivot ring, for example, which mimics a fidget spinner, helpful during high anxiety days filled with plenty of work and daily goings-on. Or this Objet Pendant, reminiscent of lockets that used to hold your loved one’s photo or note, but can now be used to hold a back-up hair tie, an Advil, a CBD mint, or a special quartz talisman. My absolute favorite, though, is this niche ring – the perfect be-all, end-all wedding ring for life. Speaking of wedding rings, Hannah recently co-founded a company solely focused on matrimony, called Ceremony.

Far from simply having good, clean, modern design, part of what caught my attention was J. Hannah’s consideration for even the minutest of details. I found it endearing that the company released their own nail polish to fully capture the overall esthetics. In other words, “Why stop at the jewelry itself?” With playful names such as Patina and Eames, the polish collection really pays homage to things of the past, while introducing an application for this generation of young women. They are pleasingly unexpected shades that my mother would never approve of, that which resembles the color of mold and miso soup (Miso, by the way, is my favorite hue). But they are colors that are true to me, each once matching my jewelry. J. Hannah’s big picture mindfulness coupled with extreme scrutiny of the little things that add to the whole is a mirroring of the way I myself approach the world.

Lastly, I would like to leave you with J. Hannah’s words about owning jewelry, in general.

 “Never taken off” is how we want our customers to wear their jewelry, but it’s also a context for their purchase. We do not expect people to be able to afford our jewelry on a whim—it’s a luxury product. We see a lot of language used in our industry that tells women “this product will empower you” or “you need and deserve this,” as though jewelers are providing something necessary or benevolent, which is such a fiction. Jewelry is extra, it’s fun. It’s special and rare and expensive and hopefully something the customer will deeply consider as a special purchase that will last them a lifetime. We envision our customer as someone who saves up for that perfect piece of jewelry they’ve wanted for so long, or to commemorate a major life event. Hopefully they will pass it down one day as an heirloom. This feels closer to reality, which is important when we are continually exposed to entire Instagram feeds that promote excess as the norm. The prevalence of fast fashion works against us in so many ways and everything comes back to sustainability. Trend-based shopping is a wasteful pursuit. If the consumer started thinking about their purchases from a cost per wear perspective, it could change the whole design industry.

-J. Hannah in an interview with Forbes magazine

J. Hannah’s jewelry is far from cheap. It is actually very expensive. But the price reflects quality, as well as a way of living. It accounts for the difficulty in finding sustainable materials, as well as providing well for those who make our stuff. It is meant to change your spending habit, as well as the way you view the fashion industry. Not everyone can go out and buy themselves a J. Hannah ring, just because. Nobody, in my opinion, should. Restraining ourselves from whimsical purchasing of products will rewire our brains to not satisfy our wants so immediately, as well as build a higher sense of value for what we do spend money on. I am all for it.

How to Save for a J. Hannah ring