2020 Q1 Goals – Accountability, Check in, and Future Uncertainty

I’ve decided to move from monthly updates to quarterly updates… Here is quarter one 2020 update that encompasses January – February – March.

Financial Independence Goals for 2020

  1. Max out my Roth IRA, 401k and HSA contributions = My HSA contribution is deducted automatically from my paycheck every month and my Roth IRA is automatically transferred at $500/month
  2. Build up my emergency savings to 6 months = I have just under 6 months emergency savings currently if I were to only spend $2500/month. I want to build this up to $18,000 by the end of the year
  3. Save 50% of my income = Due to travel in February and the yearly car maintenance in March I have spent 79% of my income, however; I moved all my business/secondary income outside of these calculations and if I were to add that back in I have spent 70% of my total income from all sources. Subtract again my HSA (part of my savings plan) and the amount spent is closer to 66%. Q2 should be even closer to 50% as I won’t be doing any leisure traveling or have extra car expenses.
  4. Don’t renew housing lease end of July (no rent spending 8/1 onwards = this is a new goal that I’ve already started preparing for by gathering a list of friends and family who are willing to host myself and my partner starting August. I will also be working on a combined post-housing budget and look at our finances together. We have already joined TrustedHousesitters and had our first house sit and are now verified. Closer to the summer I will start applying to house sits starting August and planning out our travel and where and who we will be staying with.
    You can use this link to get 25% off a membership at Trusted Housesitters: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF286731/

Here is an updated snapshot of my budgeting goals and how I’m meeting them. Red indicates going over the monthly budgeted amount and green indicates staying under. I have also shifted the budgeted amount going forward from previous Q1 spending over/under amounts.

Notable spending:

  1. AAA membership $138 for myself and my partner but we share 1 car so now that I think about it, it doesn’t make sense for both of us to each have an account and perhaps I can transfer to another family member or cancel one of ours and get some of the extra cost back.
  2. Health category has ballooned as I have increased the amount of supplements I’m taking and storing as a precaution. My recommendation is to have a 3-month’s supply of all supplements, prescriptions, and medications where possible.
  3. My grocery/eating out spending was significantly low in March due to categorizing all ‘eating’ expenses while in Mexico under ‘travel’
  4. My gifts category is high because I sent money to my family
  5. My partner and I spent $1041 on car maintenance (he got us a discount and I got them to take off some labor costs for several hundred in savings from the dealer – always check the invoice!)

My business earnings have significantly decreased due to the COVID-19 and has since reinforced my determination to find more passive income sources and work-from-home earning potentials. Some of my mystery shops and usability studies are available online but most of my income came from cat sitting and dog walking. When I have the mental motivation I will check out editing/ARC/reviews as a secondary source of active income.


Fitness

Here are my fitness stats for Q1 of 2020:

  1. Biking: 16 miles
  2. Pole classes: 8
  3. Stretch classes: 2
  4. Other classes: 1 Booty class, 1 boot camp class, 1 Boudoir class
  5. Other activities: 1 soccer game and several soccer practice sessions

What are my fitness goals for 2020? A new fitness/health goal each month… Sigh. I made a general goal that isn’t very useful and I’m going to scrap it.

Fitness goals 2020
1. Stretch class 1x/week and stretching 10-15 minutes at least 4x/week
2. Ab exercise 4x/week
3. Cardio exercise/class 1x/week

Potential weekly fitness schedule:

Monday 4/6

Tuesday 4/7

Wednesday 4/8

Thursday 4/9

Friday 4/10

Saturday 4/11

Sunday 4/12

Handstands exercises and conditioning 15 minutes

Abs 5 minutes

Cardio (biking, boot camp, etc) 15+ minutes

Pilates 60 minutes

6pm-Divine Stretch class 60 minutes

Abs 5 minutes

Lower abs 7 minutes with 1 minute timed ARAP sit ups: Lower abs workout for strong and clean pole inverts (8min follow along)

Cardio (Boot camp, biking, etc) 15+ minutes

Pilates 60 minutes

Weights

Abs 5 minutes

1pm-Divine Stretch 60 minutes

Cardio (biking, boot camp, etc) 15+ minutes

 


Writing Goals for 2020:

  1. Deplete my physical book inventory = I sold and gave away several books in January and February but still have significant numbers of print books left. I will perhaps run more giveaways or do something creative like sell a book along with a free ARC reading or x amount of words edited.
  2. Break even on Ataxia and At One’s Beast = I met this goal!
  3. Revamp my website = I haven’t made any substantial changes to my website yet
  4. Write 4 short stories = I wrote 1 short story so I’m on track for this goal
  5. Send out 4 newsletters = 1 sent out 1 newsletter and am working on my Q1 newsletter this week
  6. Publish a new coloring book = Haven’t made any progress on this goal yet

Here is a list of my accomplishments for Q1:

  1. Ran a birthday giveaway
  2. Sold several print books
  3. Had 1 author tea date
  4. Sent beginning of year newsletter
  5. Wrote a short story for the WCPNW anthology
  6. Redid my interior files to fix a typo and editing issue from For the Love of Donuts Book 1
  7. Wrote 6 book reviews on my blog
  8. Read 12 books

Here are my goals for Q2:

  1. Run a giveaway
  2. Sell more print books (half of what I currently have in inventory)
  3. Give out review copies of books
  4. Redo all interior files for Seize the Donut, At One’s Beast, Ataxia and push to all marketplaces
  5. Create another niche coloring book
  6. Read 25 books
  7. Write 6 book reviews on my blog
  8. Create a promotion and marketing plan for the rest of 2020
  9. Write 1 short story
  10. Send out 1 newsletter

Enter my Q2 giveaway HERE:


Green GF pancakes for St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast

GF homemade pizzas with a mix from my favorite section in the grocery story (the squished can section)


What are your goals and how are you meeting them?

Book Review: Lies & Legacy (Project Gene Assist Book 3) by Allie Potts

Lies & Legacy (Project Gene Assist Book 3) by Allie Potts

A Science Fiction/Cyberpunk/Dystopian Novel published by Axil Hammer Publishing (03/26/20)

Summary:

Juliane wakes out of her cryogenic sleep to a devastated world where her legacy, her tech, is not being used the way she intended. What’s left of humanity is on the brink of war as those with the opportunity have stepped up to seize control. Can Juliane stop them? Stephen is convinced that Juliane can stop the drain, the key to halting the power-hungry new world leaders. All he has to do is find her before it’s too late.

Keywords:

Genetic Engineering, Science and Technology, Rivals, Technology,  Future, Dystopian, Survival, Dark Ages, War, New Government, Towers, Grit, Magic, Evolution, Economic Collapse, New Order, Salvation, Friendship, Romance

My Review:

It was difficult to pick up this third book after so much time between finishing book two. I couldn’t remember who the characters were, their relationships to each other, or what they wanted and how they got there. The third book starts off where book two ends without a lot of re-explanation of what happened before and it took a few chapters to get back into the swing of the plot and hooked into the current dilemmas. If I hadn’t immediately skipped to chapter one, I would have seen the handy recap of characters at the end of the book listed in the table of contents that would have helped me sort out who is who. If you’re also not reading each book right after the other I would highly recommend browsing the contents at the end of the book as a great refresher into the many characters.

I couldn’t wait to see how the isolated characters finally met up in the end. I did enjoy reading their separate journeys as they traveled through the post-apocalyptic landscape. I also enjoyed the growing romances between several of the characters and felt it added more depth to this novel.

Every time Juliane used her abilities for something small, like lighting up a dark space with her own body and technology, I was fascinated. The small details in the world building were well done and very intriguing. Juliane, as a strong female main character from the previous novels, continues to be a leader in this third novel of the series.

This novel was published by Axil Hammer Publishing on 03/26/2020 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.25

Links for more information:

Allie Potts’ Website

Goodreads

Twitter

Book Review: Gospel for the Damned by Gordon Gravley

Gospel for the Damned by Gordon Gravley

A Post-Apocalyptic Fiction Book published by Amazon.com Services LLC (03/23/13)

Summary:

The deadly contagion called the Omega Virus has been contained to the heavily quarantined city of San Francisco. Journalist Aaron, immune to the virus, is assigned to enter the area and investigate the initial release of the virus. Rumors point to a single minister suspected of purposefully releasing the virus. Upon entering the quarantined zone, Arron finds a city that is still like a war-zone and the people left within it are quite different than he imagined.

Keywords:

Contagion, Virus, Deadly, Quarantine, Bay Area, Journalist, War-zone, Violence, Misery, Death, Immunity, Investigation, Minister, Law, Friends, Suffering

My Review:

I was fascinated by the details of the quarantine and the psychological effects of being quarantined and of being so close to death’s door from the deadly virus. This book is even more fascinating in light of recent world events (Covid-19). The idea of the deadly contagion and the effective quarantine on the bay area is a compelling idea that has been truly well thought out in this book. The story has a Mad Max feeling within its city landscape.

Though this book felt like more of a slice of life than a story with a traditional plot, I did enjoy it quite a lot. The subtle plot that was introduced was slow to develop and it took a while for me to get hooked on the characters and to become fascinated by the world building centering on the idea of a plague and quarantine.

Another critique I had was the way the narrator created distance from all the current action by talking about these events as they occurred in the past.

This novel was published by Amazon.com Services LLC on 03/23/2013 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 3.50

Links for more information:

Gordon Gravley’s Website

Goodreads

True Cost – Mexico City for 10 days in 2020

We touched down Friday night and I’ve been itching to fully record and go through all the expenses from our trip to Mexico City. Our first two expenses were the majority of our travel costs, i.e. plane tickets and housing. We found a lovely AirBnB in Roma Norte and we bought plane tickets from Seatac to Mexico City (MEX) for $940 each (I went with my partner and SO). The plane ride there was overnight and left at 10PM. We scored the row to ourselves (as did most of the other flyers on this less-than-full flight). They even gave us food a few hours in! Arriving early, we were initially wondering what to do prior to checking into our AirBnB but our host graciously let us check in 6 hours early and we took a much needed nap!

Surprising things:

  • The altitude is no joke! I could feel it in the shallow breaths that didn’t quite have as much oxygen as I wanted (almost like asthma) and how difficult it was to walk up stairs without becoming short of breath. I’m very glad we didn’t schedule our Teotihuacan trip until several days into our stay.
  • The traffic – if you are within a mile of your destination – driving might not be faster and Ubers don’t turn on their air-conditioning (opening the windows doesn’t create much of a breeze when you’re not moving that fast). There are lots of ride share bikes and some ride share scooters available but we decided not to stress about it and just walk. There was always traffic and it just got worse during ‘rush hour’.
  • The more popular restaurants were crowded all the time! Contramar, a fancier seafood restaurant, was always busy, even if it was 3PM!
  • Most of the time we ate at smaller places and they wanted us to pay after we were done eating. Sometimes it was confusing knowing how to order, where to stand in line or even if there was a line, and how to pay!
  • Most of the people who live and work in Mexico City don’t make a lot of money and their rent is surprisingly high! Our Merced tour guide told us that rent is oftentimes as much as a month’s pay (Mex$8,000) for a single bedroom. He told us that tips make up 30% of his take home pay. Tips are not obligatory in Mexico City, but after hearing this, I went from happily tipping nothing or 10% to 15% at every restaurant (and 20% at the fanciest/most attentive restaurant we ate at).

What I really loved about Mexico City:

  • How affordable it was for us
  • Being able to communicate almost all the time with the Spanish I know (rather rusty from not using for 10 years)
  • Being able to walk everywhere (so many little shops, cafes, and restaurants really close to us)

Recommend places to eat and what to get:

  • The Secret Donut Society – such a cool experience. The donut was just okay, but figuring out how to order and find your donut was rather exciting
  • Mog sushi (for a change of pace get some sushi – our favorite that we tried was the Spicy Maguro roll)
  • La Güera Tortas de Chilaquiles (all the sandwiches tasted the same to me but if you order the “bomba” I think it’s a combination sandwich)
  • 5 Hermanos in La Merced (Aisle 9) and get the Longaniza tacos!
  • Moles Dona Balbi in La Merced (close to door 5) has amazing Almond mole and other moles
  • La Gruta for the atmosphere and the Ensalada La Gruta
  • El Vilsito – the gringa tacos are amazing! Don’t forget the avocado salsa and limes.
  • Santa Clara (chain ice cream shops) has amazing ice cream (avoid pistachio)
  • Contramar has amazing tortas (appetizer) and queso flan that is divine!
  • Vips (for late night munching this chain has you covered)
  • El Cardenal has amazing mole
  • Tacos Joven – the adobo taco was amazing!
  • Agua y Sal – we absolutely loved everything we ate here, but especially the plancha frutos del mar

Prior to leaving the states, my partner took out $200 USD worth of pesos just in case and we got a decent exchange rate. Our plan was to use my Charles Schwab account to pull out pesos at a local ATM (they claim no foreign ATM fees for withdrawals in Mexico and indeed I have already received the fee back from my first withdrawal last month).

I pulled out $11.04 USD =Mex$200  on 2/26 the first day, $158.45 USD =Mex$3,000 on Saturday 2/29, and $25.03 USD =Mex$400 on Thursday 3/5
Prior to leaving the states, we bought some peanuts and drinks at the airport = $12.14

The total the two of us spent together was: ~$3100
AirBnB: $715 USD
Airplane Tickets: $1150 USD
Transportation: Mex$2,469.50 ($120 USD) + $25 USD
Food and groceries: $12.14 (Airport Snacks) + Mex$12,891.50 ($626.49 USD)
Entertainment: $190.78 USD (La Merced) + Mex$5,357 ($260.33 USD)
Bathrooms: Mex$25
Misc (gifts, etc): Mex$410

Here is the list of most everything we did and everything we bought with our Mex$ cash and credit cards:

2/26 Wednesday:

  • The secret donut society. #5 Mex$50 cash
  • El Pescadito Taqueria. Tacos de camaron, tacochango, que-sotote, quesadilla, Agua natural. Mex$198 visa Rachel CC ($10.39 USD)
  • Panaderia: mocha donut and lemon cookie donut Mex$16 cash
  • Bosque de Chapultepec
  • Street fruit Mex$35 cash
  • Groceries Mex$76 cash
  • Mog sushi Mex$1017.50 visa Jon CC
  • El Moro Churrerria: Hot chocolate, chocolate bar gift, red velvet seasonal churro, regular churros Mex$173 visa Rachel CC ($9.08 USD)

Uber Mex$134.20 ($7.07 USD)
Uber Mex$37.34 ($1.81 USD)
Uber Mex$46.94

2/27 Thursday

  1. La Güera Tortas de Chilaquiles Mex$230 cash 5 sandwiches (each type of sandwich)
  2. Street vendor: Hamburguesa de piña y hamburguesas de piña y queso Mex$96 cash
  3. Street vendor Churros. 3 regular and one filled with chocolate Mex$26 cash
  4. Corn esquite from street vendor Mex$20 cash
  5. Bares y Pulques Los Insurgentes: Pulque mango y pulque de la casa con smokey and sweet mezcal shots Mex$340 cash

Uber Mex$45 ($2.48 USD)
Uber Mex$37.33
Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$47.26

2/28 Friday

  1. La Merced tour Jon paid in advance $190.78 USD

1. Tacos McTeo. Carne enchilada tacos with cactus, onion and fries.  Location: In the banquetón (the large food hall that runs the perimeter of the market), near Aisle 16.
2. Fried Tamal. Location: Banquetón, between Aisle 14 & 15.
3. 5 Hermanos. Tasty tacos de suadero. Location: Banquetón, at Aisle 9.
4. Moles Dona Balbi. Mole tasting. Location: close to door 5
5. Señora Edith’s Pre-hispanic Ingredients. Chapulines, jumiles and more. Location: Nave Mayor (main fruit and vegetable building), between Aisle 12 & 15.
6. Tacos de Cabeza (Beef Head Tacos!). Location: Outside the Nave Mayor, in the road that runs between the market and the meat section.
7. El Pollo. Quesadillas de Huitlacoche. Location: In the center of the market Aisle.
8.Taquería Arandas. Tacos de cabeza. Location: Calle de Bolívar 15, Centro Histórico
9. Here we finished up with a refreshing drink.

  1. Farmacia Mex$113.50 visa Rachel CC ($5.84 USD)
  2. Mercado San Juan vanilla bottle and vanilla beans Mex$320 cash
  3. Lucha libre Mex$400 cash
  4. Lucha libre bebidas Mex$300 cash
  5. Lucha libre Mex$8 cash propina
  6. Lucha libre Mex$10 baño propina
  7. El Vilsito tacos Mex$400 cash con propina: 2 gringa, 2 milanesa, 2 al pastor con queso, 1 al pastor, 2 pollo con queso, Coca Cola

Uber Mex$55.53
Uber Mex$84.88
Uber Mex$60.13
Uber Mex$58.57

2/29 Saturday

  1. Maxidona 4 filled donuts Mex$134 cash
  2. Prepared mango from street vendor Mex$20 cash
  3. Pizzeria Cancino Cibeles – large Margharita pizza Mex$288 visa Rachel CC ($14.81 USD)
  4. Pizza tip Mex$20 cash
  5. Santa Clara Ice cream double cones: taro and triple chocolate; lemon and spicy mango Mex$210 visa Rachel CC ($10.80 USD)
  6. Cinépolis movie Invisible Man Mex$167 visa Jon CC
  7. Cheddar popcorn and sprite Mex$109 cash

Uber: $162.59 ($8.33 USD)

Uber Mex$171.85

3/1 Sunday

  1. La Otilia GF cafe/bakery Mex$240 visa Rachel CC ($12.34 USD)
  2. Agua Mex$10 cash
  3. Contramar Restaurant: tortas de Atun y calamari, witch fish, pescado a la talla, pan de queso, lemonade, orange refresher, passionfruit water Mex$1634 after tip visa Rachel CC ($84.03 USD)
  4. Turibus Mex$360 cash

3/2 Monday

  1. Bus tickets to archaeological zone round trip Mex$208 cash
  2. Entrance to Teotihuacán Mex$160 cash
  3. Bathroom tip Mex$5 cash
  4. Sparkling lime water Mex$20
  5. La gruta Mex$1525 Jon CC
  6. Cold water Mex$25 cash
  7. Water Mex$14 cash
  8. Chai tea Mex$50 cash Guell cafe
  9. 5:30-6:30pm intermediate pole class free
  10. Vips Mex$657 Rachel CC ($34.31 USD)
  11. Casa de Toño Mex$85 Jon CC
  12. Oxxo 2 waters, apple soda, 2 toilet papers Mex$64.50 cash

Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$165.04
Uber Mex$47.49
Uber Mex$102.41

3/3 Tuesday

    1. Banana flan Mex$26 cash
    2. Pays coranado Mex$276 Rachel CC ($14.39 USD)
    3. En dharma massages 60 minutes with 30 minutes cupping Mex$2800 Rachel CC ($146.22 USD) Mex$500 cash tip
    4. Sabe: Salad of the day, bolognaise, manzanita soda, agua del día Mex$299 Rachel CC ($15.34 USD)
    5. Contramar coconut flan and cheese flan Mex$300 cash
    6. Doble ice creams Santa Clara: pistachio and macadamia; triple chocolate and coffee Mex$206 Rachel CC ($10.74 USD)
    7. Mex$151 cash Taqueria Los Cocuyos: longaniza x2, sesos, cabeza, cachete, Coca Cola
    8. We checked out El Zocalo y Miralto on top of torre Latinoamérica and the cathedral near the zócalo and walked around inside the house of tiles

Uber Mex$37.34
Uber Mex$36.99
Uber Mex$71.82
Uber Mex$42.11


3/4 Wednesday

      1. Zócalo baño Mex$10 cash
      2. Turibus purple line Mex$320 Rachel CC ($16.41 USD)
      3. El cardenal : mole tradicional de pollo, 4 tacos longaniza, 2 flan de queso, limonada x2, naranjado. Mex$742 Rachel CC ($38.69 USD)
      4. Mex$55 cash oxxo waters +small items
      5. Turibus sur verde (already paid)
      6. Hot chocolate and mocha from street vendor Mex$90 cash
      7. Dorilotes 2x from a street vendor Mex$100 cash

Uber Mex$70.85
Uber Mex78.25
Uber Mex$116.65
Uber Mex$59.45
Uber Mex$134.68

3/5 Thursday

      1. Tamales Doña Emi Atole de cereza de manzana y chocolate Mex$45 cash
      2. Tacos Joven- Tacos: adobo, chicharrón, carne con mole verde, papas refritas Mex$76 cash
      3. La Pipope, Taro y refresco manzanita Mex$70 Rachel CC ($3.59 USD)
      4. Museo de chocolate entrance fee Mex$150 cash
      5. Museo de chocolate hot chocolate with milk, hot chocolate with Chile, natural chocolate cacao cake, Mika cake Mex$163 Rachel CC ($8.36 USD)
      6. Museo de cero y museo de Ripley Mex$500 Rachel CC ($26.07 USD)
      7. Oxxo aguas y más bebidas Mex$97 cash
      8. Finca santa Veracruz Cibeles ensalada Cam Mex$56 cash
      9. Agua y Sal Mex$1730 Rachel CC ($88.74 USD)

Uber Mex$38.53
Uber Mex$60.38
Uber Mex$59.03

3/6 Friday

      1. Sabe near our Airbnb $205 cash machaca con huevo y avocado toast
      2. Vanilla extract at the airport $90 cash

Uber Mex$124.21

A Beginner’s Adventures in House Sitting – First Foray

Approximately 16 miles from our house where my partner, our housemate, and I live is the luxury apartment complex where we had our very first house sitting experience. On one of the many hills on the Eastside (East of Seattle), this luxury multi-story apartment complex boasts a spacious and contemporary living space within an upscale neighborhood community. Around 1000 square feet, this apartment felt cozy and just large enough. It may seem odd to house sit just a bus ride away from where we currently live while we still have a house. That may not be the case in 6 months. Our plan is to finish out our lease and then house sit, friend visit, and family crash our way through several months’ worth of living before heading out of the country.

To prepare for this rather interesting house hacking method, I researched the best websites to join and set up our account on Trusted Housesitters. The interface and setup was easy to work with and there were thousands of listings internationally, hundreds in the USA, and many within our own area. Most of the listings don’t go out much farther than 3 months. I log on and check new listings every day, looking to meet our needs come August 1st. We need high-speed internet and space to work. Both of us, my partner and I, work from home. I love dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, etc. I would absolutely love to house sit for a pig or a corgi! I look specifically at how far from the Seattle area the sits are and how many applicants they have as well as length of time and location (also looking in CO and FL). As newbies to the site, we have less credibility than others. We come as a couple. This could be a bonus for some homeowners, at least I hope.

We chose two house sits, one within 20 miles and one in Canada to gain good standing on the site. The first house sit we completed last week and we learned quite a bit about our daily habits. Here is a list of items we forgot to bring with us:

  1. Regal gift card that I had printed and was going to use when we went to see Sonic
  2. Wireless keyboard
  3. Swimming goggles (they have a pool!)
  4. Robe and towel
  5. Soccer ball
  6. Pants (not just leggings or sweat pants) since we went out for a fancy dinner date
  7. Debit card

Because we were staying in town, we continued our daily activities even though we were farther away from some activities. We didn’t take all our life’s items (like a debit card or a towel) that we wouldn’t normally need on a vacation. Except, this wasn’t a vacation.

I brought my all-in-one computer (still quite heavy) so that I had a desktop setup for work. I also brought all the groceries and some food prepped meals with us (not knowing if we’d have enough space in the fridge). I couldn’t find a tea kettle at the apartment and boiled water in a pot every morning for our coffee and tea.

It’s interesting to hop into someone’s life not knowing where the forks are located or if they have towels I’m going to like. I really am attached to the towel I use daily. We lived out of a suitcase plopped onto the floor. If we stayed longer, I would have organized my clothing better, but pulling items off the floor and out of a suitcase is perfectly fine for a few days.

Am I supposed to eat the avocado that’s over-ripening on the counter or should I put it into the fridge? I’m living in someone else’s house with their own preferences for cleaning and organizing and living. We only stayed 6 days, so I wouldn’t think of changing the structure of their life, how their apartment was organized. We did clean the toilets and run a load of linens before we left as well as wiping down the counters and the kitchen floors.

Since we live close to this house we were able to set up an in-person meeting prior to the actual house sit. This helped build good communication and expectations with the owner and her dog’s needs. She also provided a well thought out and detailed house sitting guide that lives in the Trusted Housesitters website.

The other component of house sitting is the pets! I fell in love with their little Min-Pin-Chihuahua mix. She was an absolute cutie! I grew up with larger dogs and it was nice taking care of a little pup. Poor thing had some bladder issues and so I took her out for frequent pee breaks during the day and she would have a few accidents on puppy pads at night. She often would sit curled up on my partner’s lap or huddled next to my side during the day and disappeared under the large expanse of blankets in the bed at night. It’s been many years since I’ve slept with a doggie!

I’m excited for our future adventures house sitting and ecstatic to save on rent and utilities for several months this year.

You can save too! Using this link (my referral link), you can sign up for Trusted Housesitters and save 25% off your yearly membership: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF286731/

Book Review: Tailwinds Past Florence by Doug Walsh

Tailwinds Past Florence by Doug Walsh

A Time Travel Romance/Adventure Novel published by Snoke Valley Books (01/22/19)

Summary:

“It was the nature of cycling to have your emotions dictate the pace.”

Kara had always wanted to travel the world by bicycle but Edward is too caught up in his work to take several years out of his career for this shared dream vacation. The day Edward loses his job is the day he will commit to cycling around the world with Kara, and not tell her why he changed his mind about the adventure of a lifetime. Little by little she will suspect something is going on with Edward as they race around the world together. Not only is Edward keeping secrets, but they keep discovering other mysterious travelers along their route.

Keywords:

Travel, Adventure, Marriage, Secrets, Cycling, Journey, Partners, Time Travel, Discover, Escape, Love, Mystery, Weather, Workaholic, Dream Adventure, Soul, Eternal Love

My Review:

Is it really possible to cycle around the world? What happens if you start too early in the season and are stuck cycling in the snow, mere inches from trucks and cars on the road? I was immediately hooked on the premise of this story and quickly dove into the plot of the book and the tension between Edward and Kara that was present all along. From the very beginning of the story, where Edward kept his first secret from Kara, I could tell that the tension was going to increase until all the secrets unfurled. And yet, the cute things that they did together and their easygoing nature made me root for their marriage from the get-go. What was going to happen to keep them together or to finally push them apart as a couple?

Meanwhile – they encounter various difficulties along their route, not to mention the fact that Edward keeps pushing them past their original pace, racing to a finish line only he can see. I wanted to yell at him to just come clean! He knew all along what Kara valued and yet he obstinately kept justifying his actions by telling himself that he wanted to provide for her, blindly ignoring the fact that that’s not what Kara wanted. And Kara wouldn’t talk to Edward about her misgivings, only expressing her anger when Edward blatantly changed something about their route. It’s easy to blame them both for lack of communication because it’s not always easy to talk with those you love.

At first I didn’t care to switch plots and characters from the young cycling couple to Alessio but soon realized the importance of Alessio and appreciated his perspective. He was at times both funny and rude! It was quite hilarious to read some of his scenes.

I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of the difficulties of cycling and traveling along lesser used paths and through smaller towns. The author was very adept at providing all sorts of tension, from the couple’s relationship, to the setting, to the addition of the mysterious men that kept appearing along their route.

This novel was published by Snoke Valley Books on 01/22/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TL;DR Star Rating: 4.75

Links for more information:

Doug Walsh’s Website

Goodreads

2020 January Goals – Accountability, Check in, and Birthday Freebies!

Financial Independence

First month of the year and I have budgeted $2589 per month. I spent $3006.75 because I prepaid for my flight and half an airBnB for 9 days in Mexico City. I have budgeted $300/month on ‘travel’ and I put $100/month into my Savings goal in Capital One for ‘travel.’ This account currently has $1704.80 so I moved the $940 I spent from that account and back into my general emergency savings fund in Capital One which leaves a balance of $767.14 for travel. I moved the money into emergency savings rather than use the money directly for paying the plane ticket and housing costs because I had some excess cash in my checking account already to pay for these travel expenses. I don’t plan on many more travel costs for the Mexico vacation because I plan to put food costs into my eating out/food budget and anything that isn’t directly travel related into their respective budget categories for the month.

I bought a year’s subscription to Trusted Housesitters, a website where you can find houses to sit or conversely for people to sit your house and watch your pets while you’re away on your own vacation and trip. You can use this link to get 25% off: https://www.trustedhousesitters.com/refer/RAF286731/

I had to renew my driver’s license (cost of $78 cash for my enhanced renewal) which was absorbed into my transportation budget category

I signed my updated will (cost of $30 at Pony Express).

I still managed to earn $120.23 this month that wasn’t related to my business.

I continue to spend more than I want to for food – both eating out and groceries. I only spent $46.41 eating out (we went out many times but it was covered by mystery shopping). I spent $479.20 on groceries. I have been keeping a close eye on what I spend for food, but we often splurge at the grocery store for unnecessary items (ice cream) or new and exciting items (Thai chili Doritos). I do save money by going to Grocery Outlet and combing through my favorite squished cans section and making bulk meals with ingredients like rice and dried beans. Part of the issue is my partner and I both love trying new foods and eating a variety of different meals. We don’t eat the same thing every week. I did spend an average of $763/month on food last year, so just reducing that number down closer to $500 is a win and will end up saving me nearly $3000 in a year. Ultimately my conservative budget of $400 is not going to be easy or very realistic for our current lifestyle (I buy most of the groceries and half of the bill when we eat out).

One way I decrease my spending is to not pay money for what I will already spend money on. For instance, I like to eat out several times per month and I get to do it for free or nearly free through Mystery Shopping. We went out to eat 3x for mystery shops which cost me $19.86 plus my time. I also recently was hired as a trade at one of my dance studios where I get paid to clean the studio in class credit. I have already saved up enough for 6 classes! We are also working on reducing our rent and housing expenses to $0 after our lease is up in July with house sitting. Finally, it was my birthday last month and I was able to get a free specialty pancakes from Ihop ($8.99 value), a free coffee from Starbucks (a $6.77 value), and a free pastry from Panera (a $2.49 value)

My business earnings for January were $546.24 (as some payments were pending and didn’t clear until February so the next month will show a much higher earning). I’m not sure what I will be paying in taxes so I will plan to set aside at least 30% of all that money and put it into my savings account at BECU, to save around $500 to have in the account at all times to pay for expenses. I did spend $27.75 on a bus card refill as I sometimes use the bus to get to clients’ houses when it’s snowing. A bus costs $2.75 for unlimited rides within a 2-hour window so I can usually pay once for a round trip. I opened up a BECU business checking account at the end of last year to use for my business financials because they have ATMs (I sometimes get paid in cash) and they don’t charge fees.


Fitness

I started stretching every day in late December and have continued every day (minus one day where I was in a pole class). I follow this Blogilates video and spend anywhere from 10-15 minutes doing these stretches after  completing her 2020 challenge! After finishing this challenge I went back to the 100 abs a day challenge from last year and am currently on day 15. It’s amazing the noticeable progress I can see with 6 weeks of daily targeted stretching! I can almost place my palm on the floor when trying to touch my toes (from just barely touching the floor with my fingers before). I’m not sure my pancake or splits stretches have made much progress but I’m absolutely thrilled with my hamstring flexibility progress! I have also unfortunately mildly injured my right upper leg/lower butt? I’m not sure what I injured exactly as normal walking or bending over doesn’t make it hurt, but pushing my right hip up and out makes it flare up right below my butt and when I do the pancake stretch it hurts in that area. Now I cannot stretch my pancake but do the legs one at a time and gently stretch that side.

Here are my fitness stats for the month:

  1. Biking: 10 miles
  2. Pole classes: 3

Writing

  • I sent out a 2019 summary and 2020 goals newsletter
  • I signed up to write a short story for my writing group’s next anthology (haven’t written it yet)
  • I sold 12 print books from my inventory
  • I ran a giveaway and gave away 2 Donuts Books, 2 of Nichole’s Book of Practical Things, and 2 Vanessa’s Book of Awesome Things
  • I read and reviewed 2 Indie books

Don’t forget to come visit me this February at the following event:

Come see me and get all of my novels this Sunday from 12PM – 1PM at the Enso Center Winter Marketplace! The event goes from Saturday to Sunday, but I will only be there for a limited time on Sunday. All four of my novels will be on sale for just $10 each.


Since my partner and I plan to move out of our house at the end of June and stay with friends, family, or in house sits we have to par down our belongings. This means that I have lots of items to sell and donate! I have to say goodbye to my glass jar and box hoard. We are Tidying Up!

Here is a picture of my homemade (from a gluten free squished bag chocolate baking mix) and cheesecake frosting with Taro powder as coloring that I piped myself!


What are your goals and how are you meeting them this month?

Local Event Alert! Author’s Corner at Enso Center Winter Marketplace in Redmond, WA 2/09/2020 12PM – 1PM

Winter Arts Marketplace
Come out to the Enso Center in Redmond, WA for a community showcase of local artists, craftsmen, authors, and entrepreneurs. Two full days of specialty sales.

PLUS! Community art show from local artists.

Check out www.ensocenter.org for more information and RSVP on the Facebook event page.

Come see me and get all of my novels this Sunday from 12PM – 1PM at the Enso Center Winter Marketplace! The event goes from Saturday to Sunday, but I will only be there for a limited time on Sunday. All four of my novels will be on sale for just $10 each.

GENERAL ADMISSION
Free entry!
11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 

Book Review: Flight of the Spark: Book 1 of the Outlawed Myth Fantasy Series by Evelyn Puerto

Flight of the Spark: Book 1 of the Outlawed Myth Fantasy Series by Evelyn Puerto

A YA Fantasy novel published by Open Water Books (12/03/2019)

Summary:

“Taking a risk stretches you, so you can find out what you can do, instead of being sure you cannot.” (Location 2602).

Iskra has lived in her small town her entire life. She is safe. She follows the rules. But she longs to visit the next town over and when her mother allows it, she giddily accompanies her friend on the trip. The road between towns is dangerous, full of Riskers and other barbarians. Iskra wasn’t worried before stepping outside the town’s gate, but with only the protection of the guards Iskra is plagued with worry. Even her carefree friend can’t keep her from anxious thoughts and when she misses the caravan back to town, to safety, what will Iskra risk to get back home in time? What else is Iskra willing to risk when her friend is taken because Iskra was a cowardly mushroom? The more Iskra learns how the town keeps peace and safety for all its citizens, the more Iskra is willing to risk.

Keywords:

Fantasy, Travel, Journey, Risk, Attack, Flee, Hide, Town, Secrets, Dystopian, Power, Prophecies, Rulers, Guardians, Guards, Peace, Safety, Love, Friendship

My Review:

From the moment I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down. Before I had even started reading, this book contained certain elements I love in YA books: dystopian features and a female main character.

The mood is set so well, especially in the beginning. “The wind picked up, raising goose bumps on Iskra’s arms.It rocked the branches of the trees that stood behind the pines back and forth, rustling the leaves, sounding to Iskra like a thousand whispered threats.” (Location 316). The writing style was very easy to read and flowed from word to word and page to page. It was the dystopic plot, though, that really drew me in.

The story was very well set and the world building was very well done. Tension and mystery hinted at a deeper plot that both Iskra and I couldn’t help but run toward. The suspense and tension builds until the end.

I loved how much Iskra grew throughout the book. She is such a dynamic main character. As the reader, we really get to know and understand where she is coming from and how brave she is to question her surroundings and change. Those around her were fully fledged characters with backstories. The love story is well crafted and very believable and so sweet.

I can’t wait to read book two.

This novel was published by Open Water Books 12/03/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 5.0

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

Twitter

Evelyn Puerto’s Website

Book Review: The Mere’s Crown: Anthym Quest: Book Two by Victoria Bastedo

The Mere’s Crown: Anthym Quest: Book Two by Victoria Bastedo

A Fantasy novel published by Amazon Digital Services (11/25/2019)

Summary:

Anthym’s quest to find the Mere and save Moonlight continues. The Otterby travels with Anthym, along with members of the Blue Guard, leaders of the town of Moonlight, their out-of-town guide and her two friends. It is still unclear why Anthym was chosen, why he was changed, and why the gate is failing. It is up to this group of travelers to find the Mere and set things right again, but their journey is full of perils along the way.

Keywords:

Fantasy, Mythical, Otherworldly, Fighting, Quest, Water, Legend, The One, Boy, Change, Family, Friendship, Soldier, Citizen, Travel, Quest, Journey, Passageway, Training, Waiting, Secrets

My Review:

It was clear to me why Anthym was changed in the first book and I thought that the characters should have also guessed what his newfound abilities would be for; however, I wasn’t completely correct in guessing what Anthym was called to do in the end. This second book focused less on Anthym and more on the group’s journey as a whole, which I enjoyed.

It took me nearly a third of the book to get really into the story, though. This second book picks up right where the first book leaves off and they are already partway through their journey to the Mere. There wasn’t enough sense of urgency until the group gets to the water. Then I couldn’t put the book down.

I really enjoyed reading more about Kye and his story. I think he grows as much as Anthym does during the Anthym Quest Books. I really loved the fantasy setting of the world outside of Moonlight as well as the creatures that roamed (not all of them friendly) in this setting.

I enjoyed this second book more than the first and recommend reading them both one after the other.

This novel was published by Amazon Digital Services 11/25/2019 and is available on Amazon here.

TLDR Star Rating: 4.00

 

Links for more information:

Goodreads

FreeValleyPublishing

SnoValleyHobbit

Victoria Bastedo WordPress