Tacoma Tiny House Trip – Viable Living Option?

I’ve been obsessing over the tiny house movement lately – watching every episode of Tiny House Nation on Netflix, subscribing to Living Big in a Tiny House, Living Tiny with the Bushes, and Tiny House Giant Journey on Youtube. I’ve also browsed local and national tiny house listings. And yet… I’ve never actually been in a tiny house – Airstreams and the like notwithstanding. This new ‘hobby’ of mine is rather a natural development from my most recent hobbies of minimalism, zero-waste, and frugal living. Tiny house living can check all those boxes.

I spent hours combing through AirBnB and best tiny houses to rent in the PNW. I stumbled on one amazing listing that even came with kayaks and was on the water! However, it came with a 4-day minimum commitment, a lot of the good dates were taken (i.e. over weekends), and it was pricey. So I went for my second choice and a top contender for a typical tiny house with a small footprint. Away we went for the weekend.

Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Location of the tiny house on the host property is very important! Our tiny house was located on a typical suburban lot in the back of a property already occupied by a full-sized house. The backyard was home to the yard, the driveway, four cars, and a small play set. For the amount of space available, the location of the tiny house was ideal and as private as it could be, but also not all that private. The windows of the loft bedroom looked out on an alleyway that had pedestrians and cars going by 12 feet away. Sometimes the kids from the main house played outside and the family came and went using this driveway to the side of the tiny house. The sprinkler for the grass came on every night for at least an hour and the sound carried right into our open windows.
  • I banged my knee on the loft railing one time, hit a hip on one of the cabinets one time, and pinched my fingers twice on the cabinet that pulled out under the sink to reveal the garbage. Otherwise, I was most worried about hitting my head on the large microwave/oven but never did. My 6’2″ partner did not bump into anything at any time.
  • I found the steps to get up to the loft a little too high for getting down and felt more comfortable descending backwards.
  • The air-conditioner – when on – was loud. I like the white noise it provided. It did blow directly on me when I worked in the kitchen and made me too cold. The windows weren’t cool enough for the loft at night and I had trouble falling asleep but didn’t feel like getting up and going down the large steps to turn on the air-conditioner.
  • The stove top burners had to be lit with a lighter/match which made me nervous at first but they worked nicely and didn’t ‘flame out’ like the gas burning stove we have at home does. This stove top was actually less scary than the one I use all the time.
  • I prepped a meal with three different pans and utilized the large counter and the area beside the sink while prepping without too much difficulty but I imagine if I was really prepping using my Vitamix, Instant Pot, and chopping vegetables it would get really crowded really fast.
  • Much of the storage was beyond my reach, even grabbing and putting the dishes away was well above my head and I clacked them together finding the right rack to place them.
  • This particular unit didn’t have washer/dryer/dishwasher.
  • I tried out the bath and found it as big as it needed to be for my 5’2″ petite frame. The toilet was also adequate and I enjoyed the little stomp flush. The sink in the bathroom felt small when I was brushing my teeth and the hand towel was right above the toilet paper roll – which seemed like poor planning at first but I didn’t notice water falling on the toilet tissue. We weren’t sure where to hang our towels to dry as there were a lot of places to hang them but not enough space for them to hang down without touching trash/toilet/floor and I placed mine on the shower curtain rod.
  • The fridge was a mini-fridge and would not have been adequate for fresh food storage at the amount I usually store. We filled it up with drinks and that worked great for the weekend.
  • It took longer than I’m used to for the hot water to kick in and it took me a few tries to get the temperature just right for the shower.

This is my current Tiny House Needs and Wants list:


  • Large fridge (small apartment size)
  • adequate kitchen prep/counter space
  • Aesthetic design
  • Guest/storage loft
  • Downstairs sleeping area
  • washer/dryer


  • 2-sided sink
  • Double lofts
  • Roof porch
  • loft pole to slide down
  • bathroom bidet
  • tub
  • large tv
  • dual work computer screens

What I Ate in a Month – Intentional Eating – Love Yourself Lean Program

For four weeks I ate intentionally and according to a specific nutrition plan from the Love Yourself Lean Program. “Our 4-Week Coaching Program combines an online course, live group coaching, and 1-on-1 support to help you predictably boost fat loss, energy levels, and mental focus.” I’m a fan of charts and challenges and had fun documenting everything I ate in the last month along with my activity level and workouts. I’m always fascinated to look at the details and specifics of what people eat and enjoy the “what I eat in a day” videos on Youtube. I like seeing how the food is prepared and the portion sizes so I decided to take pictures of meals and snacks as much as possible. At the beginning of this program my partner and I did a Bodyscan and I was surprised that even though the scale tells me I am the same weight that I was two years ago, I’ve gained 3% bodyfat in the last 1.5 years. After we finish our P90X workout program we plan to do another Bodyscan and I’ll be able to truly see the effects of continuing with the Love Yourself Lean nutrition program.

Goals for the month:



Cook 99% of meals (84 meals not including snacks)

I prepared 82/84 of my meals = 98%

Eat more veggies

So many veggies!

No added sugars

Kombucha with low sugar, dark chocolate, milk chocolate bar, juneberry homemade jam with small amount of white sugar

No cheese or dairy

Jalapeno cheese in the hot dog I ate, ricotta cheese in the GF pasta I made, Haggis (sheep’s milk cheese) = 4 meals out of 84 with dairy in them

64oz water/day (28 days total)

17/28 days drank >64oz water = 61%, 1744oz total or 62oz average per day

No gluten

Chicken wings, Where Ya Matt beignet and bites of prepared foods for 2/84 of the meals

No alcohol

Low sugar can of hard cider over two meals and two days near the end of the four weeks


From the Love Yourself Lean Program: Avoid as much as possible:

  • Soy
  • Artificial ingredients
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Sugar
  • Corn
  • Legumes
  • Vegetable Oils

My daily meals, snacks, water intake, activities, steps from my Oura ring counter, mile walking equivalency from my Oura ring, total burn in calories from my Oura ring, weight every morning, and any significant feelings or issues are detailed below. I noticed that the first week I craved corn chips. I could eat corn chips for every meal every day that whole week. I slowly adopted more of the nutritional guidelines into my meals after the first week while focusing on my 7 main goals.

DIY Garden 2020 – Partial Shade PNW Zone 8b/9a – 1 Month Progress Report

It is now exactly one month out from my original garden post which you can view here.

Front yard – my ‘orchard’ – I keep reorganizing the front orchard to better utilize the sun, plant potatoes, keep the landscaping company from destroying anything, and to create tomato supports. This is my final design for the season. I lined up the six buckets each with one tomato plant and rigged my own support out of the plastic international shipping box twine that holds your box together. I also received some t-posts from my BuyNothing group and utilized them here. By clicking on the image you can see in the larger zoom that I have 0 tomatoes fruiting… Did I not prune enough or correctly? Did I not plant soon enough? Am I not getting enough sun or water? Is there too much water and not enough drainage? The stalks are also more spindly than others I’ve seen at my local Pea Patch.


The side yard – my ‘berries’ – None of my berry bushes (huckleberry, salmonberry, blueberry) have changed since I planted them. The blueberry was full of unripe blueberries and none of them have ripened. I also planted some cilantro and parsley in this box and they’ve sprouted nicely above ground.


The backyard – ‘greenhouse’ – I’ve already harvested some of the spicy Mesclun lettuce mix and will attempt to eat my way through these two rows this month so that the three squash starts I planted between the rows will have room to grow. The zucchini in the back are doing nicely but I don’t see any zucchinis yet. These plants seem to be larger than the ones I planted in the other planter box without the greenhouse tarp. The best crop by far is the mint you can see in the large pot behind the stump. I wish I liked mint more and am not sure what to do with such a large crop… The chocolate mint is delicious to eat plain though and I highly recommend planting this variety!



The backyard raised bed garden – the big ‘project’ – three raised garden beds with potato planted in front and thimbleberry bush start and a raspberry bush start off to the side. These beds are growing nicely but haven’t produced anything yet… The corn in the back appears to be leaning towards the neighbor’s fence and I’m not sure they’re getting enough sun in the back there.



The beds have the following planted in them:

Bush Beans
Carrots Nantes
Bush Beans
Carrots Nantes
Bush Beans
Carrots Short ‘n Sweet
Bush Beans
Carrots Short ‘n Sweet

6 cucumber mounds

4 rows of corn
6 zucchini starter mounds
1 row of mounds of cauliflower seeds

My future projects include the following:

  1. Build a trellis and grow loofah!
  2. Build a seed library and place it near my Pea Patch if I get permission
  3. Plan for a winter crop
  4. Finish using the free pallet wood and build a long planter box and small square raised garden boxes
  5. Giveaway the rest of the project wood pieces

2020 Q2 Goals – Accountability, Check in, and an Uneventful Spring

Financial Independence Goals for 2020 Q2 snapshot

  1. Max out my Roth IRA, 401k and HSA contributions = monthly deductions mean this happens automatically!
  2. Build up my emergency savings to 6 months/~$18,000 = $10,200 in current emergency savings and $5800 in savings for car/computer/travel/phone
  3. Save 50% of my income =
  4. Don’t renew housing lease end of July (no rent spending 8/1 onwards = change of plans. We have renewed our rent with our current house as travel and house sitting is not a good option right now. I will continue to use house sitting as an option for potential low-cost travel. I love looking for new listings weekly on Trusted Housesitters. 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.

Notable spending:

  1. I bought a used ebike for personal and business use! $1000
  2. I supported an IndieGoGo campaign for a few hundred dollars
  3. I tricked out my garden DIY style ~$200
  4. I bought a garage fridge for $220
  5. I bought a pull-up freestanding bar and under-desk elliptical and inversion bench used for $195 total
  6. I spent $75 on a 4-week nutrition and health program


Here are my fitness stats for Q2 of 2020:

  1. Biking: 36.5 miles
  2. Pole classes: 1
  3. Stretch classes: 7
  4. Other classes: 4 Pilates classes, 3 handstand conditioning classes, 1 Alexander Technique class
  5. Other activities: Gardening, Beach Body Workouts!

Health goals 2020
1. Full P90X for 90 days!
2. Lose 3% body fat (I went from 26% to 29% using the BodyScan measurement 01/19 to 06/20)
3. 5+ pull-ups any format (I purchased a secondhand pull-up freestanding bar) and can currently do 4 chin ups, 3 pull-ups, 1 wide grip pull-up, 3 narrow pull-ups

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 in Q1!
  3. Revamp my website = I haven’t made any substantial changes to my website yet
  4. Write 4 short stories = I wrote 2 short stories thus far for two separate anthologies
  5. Send out 4 newsletters = 1 sent out 1 newsletter and am working on my Q2 newsletter this week
  6. Publish a new coloring book = Haven’t made any progress on this goal yet. I’m still deciding on the subject material.

Here is a list of my accomplishments 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

The view from 520 Bridge as I bike home from Seattle on my new e-bike!

My first forage in the PNW! Juneberries, Huckleberries, and Salmonberries

My favorite new breakfast! Grilled Portobello mushroom with egg and cheese on a bed of spinach surrounded by strawberries


What are your goals and how are you meeting them?

Online Courses Review: Yale’s Science of Well-Being, TESOL, Budgeting Boot Camp and Productivity Boot Camp by FunCheapOrFree

I love trying out new things. I found the Science of Well-Being course offered by Yale free through Coursera and decided to give it a go. I took the course simultaneously with thousands of others. The course is 10 weeks long and the instruction portion is not overly tedious in length. I found that most of the content was familiar to me as I had taken many psychology classes in college (my area of concentration was psychology) and though none of the psychology classes I’ve taken centered on happiness, much of the science behind well-being is backed by psychological concepts and studies I am familiar with. It was nice to get the refresher, though, and to learn a few new tidbits. For the layman and those who didn’t study psychology, this course is an excellent survey of psychology centered on personal growth. This is especially true if you are taken with the concept of self-care that has been so very popular recently. I would highly recommend this structured take on scientifically understanding happiness and how to incorporate more aspects of well-being into your life. Some of the takeaways are not so obvious! And you will have homework to do! I highly recommend this particular course and really enjoyed the lecture style of Laurie Santos – the Yale professor. The homework was reasonable to accomplish and relevant. There were quite a number of recommended books to supplement the short to-the-point lectures if you want even more subject matter knowledge.

I now have my TESOL certificate – Teaching English as a Second Language. Why? Because I might want to teach English as a second language… I love languages, the study of languages, the nuance of learning a new language, etc. TESOL is one possibility for remote work as you can do it simply with a computer and high-speed internet connection. I took a simple TESOL certificate course online through International Open Academy that was recommended by one of the Youtubers (Katie Wismer) I watch. She has taught English as a second language with Qkids for over a year. I thought the course was fast and easy but not useful other than getting the certificate upon completion.

One of my other favorite Youtubers FunCheapOrFree offered her Budgeting Boot Camp and Productivity Boot Camp for free and I had to check them out. I love her channel. She is creative in her budgeting and productivity and I enjoy her well-edited videos. I did not, however, not either of her courses. It felt like she (and her husband) were reading a book in front of a camera. The two courses are divided into sections with videos that are around 10-15 minutes each. I liked all the stories where she related the information and instructions to her own life, but felt like I would rather just read the book version of these courses than sit through the videos in the course. I didn’t think this course was improved by telling the information in video format versus an audiobook or podcast for example. I also felt like the information wasn’t novel, especially to me with my current knowledge and since I’ve already watched many of the videos on Youtube already. I would not recommend paying for either course unless you’re completely new to budgeting or productivity and you prefer to watch videos in sequence than reading a book or simply subscribing to her channel. I would highly recommend instead to read the book “I Will Teach You to Be Rich: No Guilt. No Excuses. No BS. Just a 6-Week Program That Works” by Ramit Sethi as a step-to-step guide to crush debt and build wealth.

Happy National Donut Day


Donuts in an Empty Field is turning 4 and I’m celebrating with a book sale!

Purchase Donuts in an Empty Field from Amazon HERE, the ebook that is normally $4.99 has been temporarily reduced to just $0.99

SALE: Always wanted a signed copy? Just $8 and I’ll ship you a signed copy (includes sales tax and shipping within the US). BONUS: I’ll send an extra copy free anywhere within the US. Send me your addresses to rachel.author.barnard@gmail.com. If you want to include both books in this duology, you can get them both for just $15. *While supplies last*

Letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge.

Vanessa hasn’t been the same since her father’s death. A hero until the end, he died saving a restaurant owner’s son from a burning building. Nessa blames the boy, but her best friend Nichole thinks it’s time to let go of the past. In a last ditch effort to break Nessa’s obsession, Nichole hopes signing up for the local food challenge will bust her out of her shell. A single choice defines the road ahead for Nessa. Doing the right thing isn’t easy, but living with the consequences of doing nothing might be worse.

Purchase Seize the Donut from Amazon HERE

Friendships should never be taken for granted.

The ups and downs of high school forged an unbreakable bond between Vanessa and Nichole. Summer’s over and Vanessa is preparing for life at the local liberal arts college. Without her best friend by her side, Vanessa starts to chart her own path. Navigating new friendships and relationships proves easier said than done.

Nichole got kicked out of her mother’s house, lives with strangers in a sketchy neighborhood and commutes across town for her job in retail. She doesn’t always make the right choices and she has only herself to blame when things go wrong.

Something’s gotta give. Who will make the first move – or will fate intervene to remind each of them of the importance of their bond.


SALE on the Donuts (and corgis) themed coloring book:

Now half off through the weekend: Normally $10, now only $5.25


Where to get a FREE DONUT!!!

Krispy Kreme


Bonus SALE:

This weekend only get At One’s Beast by Rachel Barnard, a fairy tale retelling for free as an ebook HERE



Adventures in Veganism/Vegetarianism – One Week Vegetarian

Look ma, no meat!

I did it again… but this time instead of eliminating animal products I prioritized fruits and vegetables. What does it mean to eat vegan or vegetarian? Privilege. I can find, purchase, prepare, and consume hearty vegetables and supplement my diet with vitamins. I didn’t eat rice and beans for a week. I spent my time, effort, and money to micromanage my diet for 6 days – two of which were vegan days.

I did not plan to eat ‘vegan’ per se, because my partner wanted to try out the ‘fruit diet’ for a week. Fruits happen to be vegan! I decided that I wanted to balance my diet and prioritize vegetables instead of fruit. Because veggies! Because why not! Because macros and balance!

Here are a few of my takeaways from this round of vegan/vegetarian eating (see my previous challenge here: http://rachelbarnardvegan.blogspot.com/)

  • Planning became essential
    • Going out and picking the fruits and vegetables was essential
    • Food prep took quite a bit of time measuring, chopping, etc. Weighing foods takes so much time!
    • I created a spreadsheet with all the veggies, nuts, and fruit I bought with 1oz serving sizes and then puzzled out how to attain a good balance of fat, sugar, carb, and protein from there
    • Basic google research told me that I should be eating around 1,367 calories per day of which 40% would be protein (137g), 30% would be carbohydrates (103g), and 30% would be fats (46g). No mention of sugar… hm. I attempted to cap my sugar intake at 25g (hahaha that didn’t happen. Did you know that fruits have quite a bit of sugar? Did you know that vegetables have carbs?
  • Fresh foods take up a lot of space in the fridge (yeah, I know canned and frozen foods exist, but again privilege)
  • You can stock certain products to add balance and protein to your diet.
    • Hemp seeds/hearts are high in protein and fat and very low in sugar
    • Chia seeds have no sugar
    • Chlorella is gross and will overpower your smoothie but it is pure protein
    • Flax milk seems to be the highest of the non-dairy milks in protein with very little carbs and no sugar that I could find at our local Safeway. I don’t recommend drinking it plain but it makes a great addition to smoothies and coffee. It even tastes creamy
    • Nutritional yeast is a great protein additive for topping salads, mixing into smoothies, and hiding in a stir fry but it will also start to overpower the flavor of your food and to me it doesn’t taste at all like cheese
    • Coconut milk is a great fat and delicious for making chia pudding
  • You can eat a great volume of vegetables without consuming that many calories (not true for all vegetables). Sometimes my salads were too big for my appetite and they were less than 400 calories.
  • You don’t need to eat as many nuts as you think… if you eat them intentionally they will satisfy you and I quite like the taste of all the nuts I got (the order of my favorites that I ate would be cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans)
  • When I cut out processed foods and sugars I didn’t experience my daily crazy hungry/bored eating/food fascination that seems to occur daily between 2pm-5pm
  • I felt more satisfied and full from my snacks/meals even though I was consuming less calories overall
  • My bowel movements changed, becoming less frequent (only once daily) and more dense and very green! The same green as if I’d consumed that black cherry Icee at the movies
  • After two days I came to the conclusion that a vegetarian is simply a vegan who eats cheese. Cheese is delicious.
  • Did I miss meat? No, I was too busy enjoying delicious fruits and veggies.

Here is my calorie consumption chart for the week (I didn’t weigh my food for Saturday)

Budget  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Calories 1300 903 928.3 1279 1313.9 1108.8
Protein 137 40.4 36.94 57.2 48.7 38.51
Carbs 103 142 118.95 160.69 132.15 145.66
Sugar 25 42.3 30.58 34.37 58.2 99.92
Fats 46 41.82 41.25 63.74 129.24 55.92

Pictured below are a few meals I ate:

Left: Portabello mushroom with cheese and egg on a bed of spinach surrounded by strawberries

Middle: Watermelon salad with feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemon next to lemon sauteed asparagus (can you still call it a saute if you saute in water?)

Right: a picnic we brought to the park -to eat in our car- apples, watermelon, plums, Oreo, feta, mixed nuts, dried and salted beans

More detailed breakdown of consumption for days 1-5:

Day 1:

calories Protein Carbs Sugar fats
Smoothie 212 17.2 42.9 15.3 13.4
Snacks (1 fruit and nuts) 369 4.4 7.38 1.62 14.75
Lunch 213.8 8.54 20.22 5.11 12.9
Dinner 133.5 6.8 48.45 8.55 0.2

Day 2:

calories Protein Carbs Sugar fats
Smoothie 212 17.2 42.9 15.3 13.4
Snacks (1 fruit and nuts) 320 6.2 43.2 28.3 15.02
Lunch 236 9.5 54.6 7.6 0.7
Dinner 213.8 8.54 20.22 5.11 12.9

Day 3:

calories Protein Carbs Sugar fats
Smoothie 190 14.91 27.15 10.91 3.54
Snacks 540 12.7 66.2 14.8 30.84
Lunch 413.4 14.09 37.215 6.03 28.63
Dinner 136 15.5 30.12 2.63 0.73
1279 57.2 160.69 34.37 63.74

Day 4:

calories Protein Carbs Sugar fats
Breakfast: watermelon and feta 100.5 3.4 14.6 14.6 3
Breakfast: Nuts 211 5.6 7.1 1.5 22.44
Lunch salad: 567.4 36.3 53.4 11.8 86.7
Snack: watermelon rind salad 320 2.35 28.25 2 17
Snack: 1/2 plum 15 .25 4 3.5 .1
Snack: Candied watermelon 100 0.8 24.8 24.8 0
1313.9 48.7 132.15 58.2 129.24

Day 5:

calories Protein Carbs Sugar fats
Breakfast Smoothie 190 14.91 27.15 10.91 3.54
Snack: candied watermelon 200 1.6 49.6 49.6 0
Lunch watermelon salad 133 5.68 14.65 11.87 6.16
Snack: nuts 211 5.6 7.1 1.5 22.44
Lunch: Asparagus 99 4.9 9.0 3.9 7.2
Snack: 1/2 apple 78 .4 21 15 .3
Dinner: Salad 179.8 5.02 12.86 4.5 14.48
Dessert: Strawberry 18 .4 4.3 2.64 1.8
1108.8 38.51 145.66 99.92 55.92


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.


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


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?

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