Travel Plans? Forget Them

I just got back from a weeklong trip with my fiancee. It was one of the first times I was able to get out on my own with her, do whatever planning we wanted to do, and see it come to fruition. I’ve got to say, going with the wind on some of those days and just seeing where we ended up was exhilarating. I’d say the only downside to it all is that “real life” now feels pretty bland and structured, now. It’s no fun having to do what you must instead of whimsically going with your gut any given moment.

This sort of living excited me for our future, though. We definitely plan to make more trips across the US and sort of just wing it. Of course, even when you’re winging it you have to be prepared in some sort of capacity. That, we came to learn, mostly manifests itself in the form of what you brought along with you while traveling.

Here’s the thing. We could’ve used more shipping supplies, such as cardboard boxes and packing tape, while we were out on the road. The amount of trips I made into and out of someone’s AirBNB just to unpack and pack the vehicle was more than I’d like in the future. So, though shipping supplies seem kind of like an odd option to include for the next few trips, it’ll make a ton of sense when we can load and unload our vehicles so much easier.

I think what makes a good trip (especially on true vacation) is not much of a plan at all.

That may sound contradictory, but I really mean to say that too much of an itinerary can stress people out, especially if people are late or at the wrong place or in a hurry. Rather than building out this elaborate plan of things to do for each day, why not kinda see where things go from one day to the next?

My fiancee and I managed this perfectly. We knew which places we were visiting on certain days (in terms of the actual cities). And we had an idea of what it is we wanted to do, such as see certain breweries or beaches. But in terms of when we did it and exactly what time? Well, that was left to the wayside. We had much more fun just kinda showing up when we wanted to, having fun for as long as we wanted to, and leaving when we wanted to.

I know this is an entirely different model of vacationing that most people aren’t accustomed to, but we were entirely stress free the entire time. And did we argue or fight at all? Not once.

A Unique Summer Job

I love my job and I truly enjoy showing up to work each day. However, I sometimes think what else would I be doing if I were to take up a different profession, and I continually arrive back at the thought of becoming a teacher. I love communicating and explaining things to people. I love challenging people and engaging with them to help them think differently on topics of interest. Selfishly, I think one of the main reasons why I would like to be a teacher, is that I would not have to work for two to three months of the year and get to enjoy the best part of the year, the summer, in any way that I want!

One of my best friends is a teacher, and while she does enjoy having her summer’s free, she often times tries to find a summer job. The extra income is nice, but it is also nice to have something to pass the days in case she gets bored of lounging by the pool. She has tried many different things: working at a boutique, working at a winery, coaching kid’s camps, and waitressing. However, the job she is trying this summer is probably the one that she has loved the most out of all of them.

She works as an independent contractor for a fulfillment company and absolutely loves the flexibility that it provides for her schedule. She can literally create her own hours and work whenever she wants to. Her job involves her gathering curriculum and other textbooks to sell, and then putting the books in shipping boxes to send out all over North America. The more items she sells and fulfills, the more money she makes. So there is a lot of incentive to work as much as possible, which she does try to do, but it is nice because if something else comes up or she is not feeling like working, she does not have to.

The main part of her job involves going to the local post office and gathering the correct shipping boxes and the shipping labels so she can then send out the orders. Since she privately buys curriculum and other text-books from anywhere beforehand, all she has to do is show up and put the books in the boxes.  She receives a percentage of each of the sales she fulfills and sends out. It is truly amazing how many orders she can fulfill at one time.

I am not ready to switch and become a teacher yet, however when I hear of things like this, it does sound pretty appealing. If you are looking for a summer job, remember to think creativity and check out as many places as possible!

Updating Our Basement

My fiancee and I are revamping our apartment over the next few months, something I think we’ve both been wanting to do for awhile now. As a little bit of background on our place, we’ve lived in it for just over a year now and renewed our lease for one more year. While next year is looking like the time we’ll buy a house, we still have an entire 11 months left in our cute little apartment and felt there’s still plenty of time to switch things up and make it look even nicer and homier.

I think the way we’ll go about our small “renovation” process is from room to room. Read on to follow our steps for doing so.

The basement.

I think this is the place most in need of some updating, so this is where I’ll start. First and foremost, the basement as it currently is does have a nice sectional couch, a small home entertainment stand, a big oak table with 6 chairs, a washer and dryer, and a dartboard. Oh, and there’s a standing lamp too!

So, to kick things off, I think the biggest problem with our basement is the fact that the walls are pretty barren. Ultimately, this gives off the effect of “Oh, this is clearly a basement.” Because the walls are white cement blocks stacked on one another and the “ceiling” is floorboards from above with nails sticking through, not much in there seems like an actual room despite all of our other furnishings and decor.

This is where some cheap, easy “renovation” comes in to help fill the walls. While there’s not much we can do about the ceiling being floorboards since we’re renting the place and don’t own it, there is quite a bit of room on the walls to put up posters, to paint (we’re allowed to do this), and even hang tapestries. We’ve currently got a few old Bonnaroo posters hung up with some shipping supplies (mostly packing tape), but shipping supplies won’t cut it when it comes to heavier duty items or even painting the walls.

My first idea with renovating this part of the basement will probably stick with my fiancee, and that’s painting the walls a darker, more colorful shade of green. We’re huge naturalists and love the idea of green all over our home (mostly plants!). So, having the back wall a forest green would give a sense of atmosphere in the basement that looks great with ambient lighting while also being a color that’s not too “out there.”

Life Changing Things Are Everywhere If You Look

For the last three or four months, my fiancee and I have talked about getting into yoga.

For a hobby that can be very life changing, it’s not as simple as just saying “Hey, I want to do yoga.” Or, perhaps it really can be. But considering we said that over 150 days ago, it goes to show there’s got to be some sort of intentionality and will behind the words in order to enact such a life-changing hobby.

Like most things, I think you kinda just need to dive in head first if you want to see if you’re even remotely interested in something. And the best way of doing that is ordering yourself an okay yoga matt, firing up some sort of free YouTube tutorial, and trying your best to follow along. How else are you supposed to get a taste test for such a unique activity? I suppose there’s the option of paying a monthly fee and going to a yoga studio for better hands-on guidance.

My way of looking at things, though, is trial and error on your own. I’d rather order a few shipping boxes worth of yoga gear, get a feel for what I’m about to do, and just sit and learn. It’s how I’ve picked up running (i.e., buying nicer running shoes and doing a little bit of research). It’s how I suppose I’d tackle anything in front of me from here on out, really.

I really think something like yoga would benefit the entire world if everyone just gave it a chance. Unfortunately, that’s just not how things work in people’s lives. Not everyone will give everything a try, despite there being some amazing things out there that could be healing and beneficial to all.

I just think there’s a turning point in everyone’s lives where they made a specific decision and things blossomed. Of course, this is true for the opposite, too. People can make a big decision that sends them down the wrong path. It’s up to us to have the intuition to know which one is better or worse.

Anyway, I’m quite stoked to see those few shipping boxes on my front porch in just a week or so. Yoga isn’t something that’s easy for beginners to take on without a professional. But lucky for my fiancee and me, there are plenty of videos out there on the internet with professionals giving the tips you need to get started on just about anything.

Plans for 4th of July Weekend

It’s hard to believe that the 4th of July is already upon us, especially considering it felt like the new year just began. But maybe that’s me and my wonky internal clock feeling like it’s not here yet when it actually is.

No matter what way you look at it though, it’s here and there’s almost too little time to plan out what’s happening and where I’m going. That always seems to be the case with me, though. Before I know it, holidays are upon me and I make last minute plans with friends or family. Still, I always get it to work out well enough.

Anyway, this year I think I’ll be heading to a friend’s new house for some fireworks in his neighborhood. I’ve yet to visit his new home, so it’s the perfect excuse to go down, hang out, have some drinks with old friends, and relax.

I’m pretty sure he’s got a grill, too, so we’ll likely be grilling out as well. Nothing more “American” than a grill out on the 4th of July.

I’m certain that means we’ll all be responsible for bringing our own drinks, some snacks or meats, and relevant things like particular shipping supplies (think tape and boxes) for storage and carrying things around. There’s never too many supplies to bring, whether they’re office or shipping supplies.

The cool thing will be that the park that’s showing fireworks will be just a few minutes walk away from his house, so no matter how much partying we do during the day, we don’t have to drive anywhere to see them and can be safe by just meandering on over to the park with our lawn chairs, some brews in tow, and good company.

I think that’s all it really takes to have a good time on a holiday, really. So long as everyone is relaxing, there’s good food, conversation to keep everyone engaged, and some drinks, people seem to have fun. I know I love that sort of environment and scenario, at least.

Now that I’ve related my plans to you for this upcoming American holiday, what do you plan on doing for your 4th of July weekend? Considering the holiday falls on a Thursday, I’m guessing most of you have taken off the following Friday so that you can have a 4 day weekend. If you haven’t, submit your request for PTO now!

Online Shopping in a Pinch

There’s truly something to be said about the expediency that is online shopping in this current day and age.

As a little bit of background context, my fiancee and I went to a music festival just over a week ago that lasted for around 5 days. The amount of stuff we were able to cram in our truck and use in that span of days was astounding.

But the thing is, we wouldn’t have had as much as we did if weren’t for some last minute online shopping we did just a week before the festival began.

The amount of shipping boxes that kept showing up to our house just days before we departed was actually kind of funny to me, especially since we had ordered it all in such short notice.

For example, we wanted to have a little fun with our outfits this year. So, we ordered a few hair decorations and even some fairy lights to string around us.

Then, we knew we would want pop up camp chairs that were low enough to the ground to fit in with the festivals lawn chair standards while also being convenient for carrying and cheap enough to warrant the purchase. We found a pair of chairs that will be amazing for us down the road for both hiking, camping, and future festivals.

Then, we had to get a few new tapestries. You’re not truly doing festival camping right unless you’ve got some weird and trippy tapestries! Luckily, we found a few for very cheap online and they were in shipping boxes outside our front door in no time.

Overall, we had a blast at our music festival and made good use of all the things we bought for the week we were roughing it out with tens of thousands of other people.

I just can’t get over how quickly boxes of goods arrive at your front door these days. You’re almost better off ordering things online than actually going out to the store simply because you’re saving money on gas, saving time not driving somewhere and browsing limited products, and saving your sanity not showing up and realizing they don’t have the product you’re looking for. Why not shop online if you can eliminate all those factors from traditional trips to the mall or local store?

Hand with credit card and a small shopping cart coming from laptop screen isolated in white

Overall, I’m very pleased with our purchases, especially because we received around 10 different boxes of things for under a hundred bucks and got them within two days of purchase!

Items to Bring to a Festival in Retrospect

I just got back from one of the US’s largest music festivals of the year, Bonnaroo. There’s not much more that I can say about the festival itself other than you’ve got to go to understand the love, positivity, and amazingness that humans can bring together in one weekend.

A big part of the experience is camping out among tens of thousands of festival attendees, and that means for 4 to 5 nights straight. This can be a hectic and unsettling experience for people new to that sort of thing, but I can guarantee that over 90% of people who visit Bonnaroo learn to love what it means with getting to know your neighbors, being out in the wilderness, and adapting to a totally new way of life for 5 days of the year.

With that comes learning what to bring each year, though, and every single time I go, I notice something that would be extremely convenient for the next year. Here’s a few of the items I’ll be bringing to Bonnaroo next year and every year forward:

Storage bins.

Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, TN

Shipping supplies and boxes and whatnot are something a lot of people don’t expect to bring to a campsite, but you wouldn’t believe how useful an organized set of storage boxes actually is. By the end of the weekend, I was searching for a few items and taking up more time and stress than was needed, so next year I’ll be looking at different office and shipping supplies such as cardboard boxes and plastic storage bins.

Lanyard koozies.

Didn’t know these were a thing until this year, but it’s exactly what you think it is: a lanyard that hangs around your neck and has a foam pouch for your beer to hang from your neck while keeping your hands free. They looked cool and were super useful.

Sun reflector.

I’m looking into getting a big one of these for next year in order to reflect the morning sun away from my camp in the mornings. It’s not just the light that bothers you, though; it’s the heat that can be brutal and cause you to lose precious sleep.

Comfortable and supportive shoes.

This should seem like a no brainer, but a lot of people like me know how great Tevas and Chaco sandals can be. The problem is, at night or during particularly long days of being on your feet, very comfortable shoes are a godsend when you just want your feet to not hate you. I made the mistake of bringing an old pair of tennis shoes this year when I should’ve had a better pair for standing and walking all day at times.

DIY Jerky Pt. 1

Making your own things, whether it’s related to your home, your entertainment, or what you consume, is always going to be cheaper and more rewarding than purchasing it from other people. The downside to all of this, though, is that you have to spend more of your time.

Think about it, though. If there was no downside (i.e., time and effort), then everyone would be making their own stuff and businesses wouldn’t exist. That’s why the saying time is money is and always will be true: because if it’s more convenient and quicker for you to have someone else do it for you, they will for money.

I’m always an advocate for DIY, however. Wood projects? Do it on your own. Dinner? Cook it yourself. No matter what it is, I’ll try to do it on my own before paying someone else unless it’s a highly specialized thing that I just cannot do on my own.

One of those things I’ll be making this week is my own beef jerky. First off, jerky prices are absolutely insane when you think about it. Whether you’re having it sent to you in some shipping boxes online (which is arguably cheaper than getting it from any local store) or buying it off of shelves, jerky is priced way too highly for a lot of products that are subpar or worse.

Instead, I prefer to make my own jerky. While it does involve some time and patience, it always ends up turning out tastier than anything I’ve ever bought from a store and I save more money doing it. I really don’t know why I don’t make it more often.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when making your own jerky is the cut of meat you’ll be purchasing and curing and the type of cure/seasoning/salts you’ll be using to actually cure it before dehydration.

Those factors are what determine the flavor more than anything (and even the consistency and toughness). Perhaps you want to go for a slightly fattier cut of meat, or maybe you want something leaner. That’s where you’ve got some give and take in the process to perfect what suits your own taste buds. For me, I prefer a specific brand of seasoning and cure salts that I order online. So, when I see those shipping boxes arrive at my house, I know it’s go time and the jerky will be aflowin’ within days.

DIY is Better Than Paying Someone Else Extra

When it really comes down to it, I’m a DIY kind of guy. I didn’t use to be this way, first off. In fact, I was pretty big on buying things premade simply because time was more valuable to me than anything. If I had to do it myself, I’d pass on it. I felt my money got a lot more mileage out of buying me more time and less work.

Well, that was the lifestyle before. But the past few years have shown that I’m actually far more inclined to do my own work and put my own time towards something if it means saving money. Don’t ask me what changed, honestly. I think it was just maturity and aging that made me realize my money was worth saving for other things, especially since doing things on my own has taught me how to be better at those very tasks.

That’s why I do my own packaging if I’m going to ship a few boxes to some family or friends. I know that a lot of shipping stores will offer to do it for you and package for you, but I find that rates are higher this way. Instead, I try to gather what shipping supplies I do have and put those to use for shipping by packing the boxes all up, taping it off, printing my labels out, slapping them on, and simply paying for shipping once I arrive to the shipping drop off location. By using my own shipping supplies, I’m able to save by buying in bulk and staying away from others doing the work for me.

This is exactly why I’ve begun to do my own stuff with wood working, repairing things around the house, changing my own oil, and always cooking my own food. Sure, others can do those things for you, but it always comes at a price that I just cannot justify when I know I could tackle it on my own with a little bit of patience, time, and learning.

It’s no wonder my dad has done all this stuff on his own from the get go. I’m beginning to understand what makes a conscious homeowner when these tasks are concerned. Rather than have others handle your problems at a price, just do it yourself. There’s no easier way to put it than that. Is it easier for you to just shell out extra for someone else to do it? Yes. Is that the way you want it done, though? Probably not.

Hobbies = Passion

Have you ever created your own things out in the shop or somewhere in your home and felt extremely accomplished and proud of your work? To me, it’s one of the best feelings simply because you did it 1) on your own time and 2) with your own money. And the best part? It’s all outside of work, it’s usually something you really have been wanting to do whether it was an interest or for someone else, and it’s all YOUR work.

That’s how I got hooked on making my own cornhole boards. I never thought I’d enjoy it or be good at it, but the best way to get ahold of a pair of boards is to make your own. With a few old shipping boxes broken down and placed beneath you as you work, your cleanup will be much easier, from spilled paint or stain to lots of sawdust beneath your project.

In fact, despite only having made 4 pairs of boards, I’ve got a buddy who has made his own too, and I’m thinking about asking him if he’d want to set up a sort of side business for both of us where we simply met up, made a few pairs of boards every other weekend or so, and then sold them to people willing to pay $200 for a pair of well done, regulation boards.

That’s exactly how extra money is made and how you can become incredibly skilled at something. The more you do it, the better it will be. The more passion you put into it, the more skilled you’ll become because you love it. And the more you can get someone else in on it, the more you’ll stay committed to your craft and give it the time it needs.

Of course, this extends to things that you’re not selling, too. My mom has a wreath shop back home where she will send wreaths off with friends, family, and really anyone that asks. They’re seasonal, they’re holiday themed, and they’re for big life events in general. So, despite not making any money on her wreaths, she has grown a huge selection of crafts, wreaths, and other garland that she will exchange with people, and her wreaths seem to get better and better every single month. Because she’s passionate about them.

That’s really all this takes. Having the right materials and supplies, like the cheap wood you can get at your local department store or a few shipping boxes that you’ve used for easier cleanup. Whether you’re doing something for your home, gardening outside, making cornhole boards or wreaths, or even doing some sort of art or cooking for others, make it a hobby you love and a passion you don’t want to live without. That’s when the good stuff begins to happen.