Post: Solo Travel Photo Tricks

The one hard part of traveling alone is finding ways to take photos of yourself. I discovered a rather easy way to take photos and get exactly the images I want.

To get a photo of yourself (without having to take a selfie) film a video and take screenshots of the video (example below). Use things in your surrounding (or perhaps a bag you have) to lay you phone against.

Check out the video below to see how I took my photos:

If you don’t want to go the video route you can always use a self timer.

P.S. You might feel uncomfortable the first time you are taking photos of yourself in public. Trust me, you’ll get used to it the more you do it. You’ll find that nobody really pays attention when you are taking photos of yourself and even if they do they probably don’t think much of it.

Post: Solo Travel Safety

It’s good to take precautions to stay safe while traveling solo. Here are some tips I’ve learned while traveling:

  1. Research hotels before you book them and don’t be afraid to spend a little more money on hotels. Safety is key and you want to feel secure where you are staying.
  2. Airbnb is another option and can be great for solo travel. I recommend either renting an entire apartment/place or if you rent a room, make sure the host is either a woman or a couple.
  3. Only travel during daylight hours and don’t go out once it gets dark out. This might sound lame but it’s a great way to stay safe.
  4. Carry a safety item with you. I recommend either a taser or pepper spray.
  5. Follow your gut. I had checked into a hotel while traveling but didn’t feel great about the place, my gut was telling me to leave. I left and checked into a different hotel. I didn’t get my money back but I’m SO glad I left.
  6. Check your surroundings when you go someplace new. Look at who is around you.
  7. Avoid going anywhere where you are completely alone (I.e. I would avoid hiking while traveling).
  8. Always lock your door when you get in. Lock your car doors, lock you hotel (or Airbnb) room.

I hope these tips have been useful for you. If you are traveling solo I hope you have fun and create some lasting memories!

Post: Taylors Falls, MN

My dad and I visited Taylors Falls for an afternoon this past week. We walked around the town and looked at the local shops. Taylors Falls is roughly about 50 miles North of Minneapolis. It’s a very small town mostly known for its hills and river (ideal hiking area). Their downtown stretches about a mile and homes an ice cream shop, coffee shop, library, boutiques and a couple restaurants.

Taylors Falls is ideal if you are looking for a town in Minnesota to go hiking. People from across the state agree that the views in the area are beautiful. The town is very small but offers historic sites, fun places to eat and interesting places to shop. It’s worth a stop if you are in the area!

Below are some of the photos we took throughout our time in the town. I hope this review helps you understand the town a little bit more!

Minnesota’s oldest existing public school house!
An old jail they have now turned into a B&B.
One of the local bar/restaurants. My dad got a kick out of the name.
A shop that sells antiques and other second hand items. Unfortunately it was closed the day we visited. It was still cool seeing all these items on their lawn!
A drive-in restaurant that has hamburgers (and root beer!). They offer vegetarian burgers too. It’s right next door to a putt putt golf course and near a camping site.

Post: Northfield, MN

I have the week off, which means I have plenty of time to check out local areas (including lots of coffee shops!). Today I visited Northfield. Northfield is a town roughly about 40 miles south of Minneapolis. It houses a couple colleges, a river and an endearing town.

I spent majority of my time in Northfield at a coffee shop called Little Joy Coffee. They have a huge patio that overlooks the river (photo below). The coffee was delicious, the atmosphere was relaxed and it was a beautiful day outside. It was definitely a nice way to spend a couple of hours.

After coffee I went on a stroll around the town and found my way to an ice cream stop called The Minnesota Scoop. The place was nearly hidden under a bridge and was simply a window you walk up to and order ice cream from. The ice cream started melting fast but.. oh my goodness.. let me tell you it was DELICIOUS! I ordered a mint chip flurry (mint chip is my favorite ice cream flavor).

I returned to my car with sticky hands and a happy heart. It was a very fun day! I plan to return to Northfield soon to check out more of the establishments.

Post: Stillwater, MN

Twice this weekend I had the chance to visit a local (super charming) town called Stillwater. I’ve been to this town many times but it never fails to amaze me how beautiful and fun the area is. Stillwater is located roughly 25 miles from Minneapolis. The town is known for it’s beautiful views of the St. Croix river, cute and lively town, and numerous unique restaurants.

Friday night
I went with a group of friends down to Stillwater on Friday night. We went to a bar/restaurant called Freight House. It had a huge outdoor patio and was very lively. The food came fairly quickly and tasted good.

We then went on a stroll around the town. We crossed the bridge (below is photos I took on the bridge, one showing me standing in Minnesota and Wisconsin at the same time!) and walked by the river.

Stillwater was very busy, as it was Friday night. The restaurants and bars were full of people and parking was a bit harder to find.

There was still a few more things I wanted to see in Stillwater, so on Sunday I went there by myself.

I went to a coffee shop called The Daily Grind, I got lunch at a restaurant called The Tilted Tiki and I went on a walk around the town.

At the Daily Grind I sat out on their patio that overlooks the river. I sipped on coffee and read a book (btw, there is a book store connected to the coffee shop!). The atmosphere was relaxing and rejuvenating taking in the views of the river while sipping on my hot coffee.

At the Tilted Tiki I got a pineapple burger and side salad for lunch. The staff was busy but extremely friendly. They weren’t allowing people to eat inside, only on the patio, but made an exception for me as I was by myself. While I didn’t get anything alcoholic, it’s a great place to go if you are looking for some fun drinks.

I ended my time on Sunday by going on a casual walk around Stillwater (including climbing these massive steps!). It’s a safe feeling town to walk around if you are by yourself.

If you are in the Minnesota area or are planning on visiting Minnesota, I highly recommend adding Stillwater to your must-visit list.

Post: Solo Date (6/12/21)

I’ve posted previously about how important it is to take yourself on solo dates. I believe setting aside time for yourself is crucial for you to develop love for yourself and grow as an individual.

I took myself on a solo date today (it was much needed after a hectic week) and wanted to share with you what I did!

1. Coffee Shop. I started my day off at a local coffee shop. I purchased a large cup of coffee and spent time reading. I never had been to this coffee shop before but I’m glad I checked it out it was so cute and had a cozy atmosphere). It was a great start to my day because it was calm and helped me let go of stress I had been feeling.

2. Winery. I went to a winery next as I wanted to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. I went to a new winery to me (I’ve only been to a few wineries in my lifetime). It was beautiful! The place was surrounded by greenery (tall green trees and fields) and the main building looked like a log cabin. I sat on the porch and drank a glass of pear wine. I took in the scenery, scribbled some notes and ideas into my phone, and played a game. There were moments where I felt a bit strange being the only person alone there, everyone else was in groups, but I reminded myself that being alone is perfectly wonderful and everyone should be sometimes.

3. Book. I ended my day by picking up some new books from the Dollar Tree. I’ve been trying to be more diligent about spending time reading every day. It was a nice way to end my solo date because it gave me activities (reading) to look forward to.

Side note: Check out the Dollar Tree book section sometime, you can find amazing brand new books for just $1!

Post: Organized Bathroom Cabinet

Cleaning out the bathroom cabinet can be a daunting task but can be equally important to do. If you look at the photos below you will see that our bathroom cabinet had a lot of cleaning and organizing to do!

I took some time, organized it and learned some helpful organizing tips that I want to share with you:

  • Medications: Check the dates on all your over-the-counter medications. Make sure they haven’t expired yet. A good way to organize the ones you are going to keep is by putting them in a plastic pencil box (I bought mine at the Dollar Tree).
  • Bandaids: If you have a ton of bandaids of the same sizes consider taking them out of their boxes and putting them all in one box (I used a pencil box for this too). It will clear up some of the clutter and make it easier to access bandaids when needed.
  • Categories: Separate your bathroom cabinet into categories (I.e. nail care, lotions, first aid). This will make it much easier to find everything you are looking for.
  • Functional: Chances are you are the only one looking at your bathroom cabinet, so the functionality is a lot more important compared to the looks of it. Don’t get too caught up in making sure it looks perfect, just be focused on making sure it’s functional for you!

Post: Negative Feedback

I’ve never met anyone who really enjoys getting negative feedback (though they may exist). I personally dread it and I don’t always handle it the best. I tend to take negative feedback too personally. I’m slowly learning to process negative feedback in a more healthy manner and find a better outlook on it. Its a slow process.

I recently received some negative feedback on some work I had submitted. My first reactions were of worry (that I would lose my job) and failure (how could I do so bad!?). I didn’t respond to the feedback immediately and took some time to reflect. I finally realized the best way for me to learn from my mistakes was for me to thank them for the feedback and tell them that I would love to discuss it further to learn more on how to improve. I felt a lot more calm after saying this (I still felt some worry though.. but more calm!).

I do think it’s important that we embrace negative feedback in order to grow in our skills and abilities. It helps a lot to take a moment to cool down, reflect and then thank the person that gave you the feedback. It may also be helpful to write down the feedback in order to see it in a more systematic way. Remember, we learn from our mistakes and from our trials. Nobody is perfect, that’s the beauty of life!

Proverbs 19:20 – Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.

Post: Finance Journal

Staying on top of finances can seem impossible at times. It can feel like you are constantly in the negative without end in site. One way to help you feel like you have more control over your finances is by creating a finance journal. 

What is a finance journal?
A finance journal is simply a notebook that you record your expenses, income, and financial goals in. I recommend having it be a monthly finance journal but you can easily make it weekly or bimonthly if that works better for you. 
How should you set up your journal?
Each month should have 4 pages:
1. Income: All sources of income (paychecks, gifts, taxes)
2. Bills: Monthly/Reoccurring payments (car payment, rent, cable)
3. Expenses: Other expenses besides bills (groceries, gas, clothing) 
4. Monthly Rundown: Work on this page at the end of the month. Subtract your bills/expenses from your income to see if you’re in the positive or negative. Write down any goals you accomplished this month (I.e. paid $100 extra towards a loan) and what you would like to accomplish next month.
How often should you journal?
Working on your journal at least twice a month is the most ideal. Try to aim for a middle of the month and end of month check in. The purpose for the middle of the month check in is to see if there is anything you should consider changing for the rest of the month (I.e. if you’ve been shopping too much, if you have extra money to put towards debt, etc.). At the end of the month reflect on the past month, what you’ve accomplished financially and what financial goals still need work. At the end of the month also decide what your goals for the coming month should be. 
Where can you get your financial information?
The easiest way to get the information you need to record your finances is to open up your bank account online and write down, line by line, everything going in and out of your account. You should include the date, where it’s from/went, and how much. If you aren’t able to access your bank account online you should be able to go to your bank and ask for a monthly statement. 
When you are able to see how every dollar is coming and going it gives you a sense of autonomy over your money and control over where you can cut out expenses. 
*images posted are examples created specifically for this post

Post: Journaling Prompts

Journaling can be a great way to relieve stress, process problems and record events happening in life. Journaling can also be a struggle if you are facing writers block or don’t know where to begin. An easy solution for this is to keep journaling prompts on hand to use when needed.

I’ve compiled a list of journaling prompts and topics that I think are helpful for kick starting your journal. I hope this list is useful for you! 

  • What are 3 things you accomplished today? 
  • What is something new you learned about yourself today?
  • What friends and family did you talk to and spend time with today? 
  • Did something frustrate you today? How did you handle it? What did you learn from it? 
  • What quotes and/or Bible verses stand out to you the most right now in your life? 
  • What are 4 blessings in your life? 
  • What do you love most about yourself? 
  • What is something you can improve on? How can you go about improving on this? 
  • What events coming up are you most excited about and why? 
  • What is something that happened recently that you want to always remember?
  • Additional journaling tip: You don’t need to be picky with yourself about how great your writing looks or how creative and smooth the language of your journaling is. The purpose of journaling is to help you express your thoughts. Journaling doesn’t need to be pretty. Have fun journaling and spark your creativity!

    Post: Positives of Online Dating

    Finally, after endless amounts of swiping and unresponsive matches, You connect with someone you are interested in and the conversation is flowing. You decide to meet up for coffee. You are excited and nervous. “Could this be the one?” The day comes, you arrive at the location and.. the spark is just not there. Maybe they just weren’t what you were expecting or you got red flags about them. Perhaps you did like them but they didn’t reciprocate those feelings. You feel disappointed and maybe a bit sad. You gain back your courage and log back into the dating site. 

    Does this sound familiar? For me it sure does. Online dating is rough. It’s draining, time consuming and feels pointless after awhile. The good news is that people really do meet their future partners and spouses on dating sites. The bad news is that people (like myself) who haven’t met their match yet have to keep going through the rejecting and time consuming process of online dating. 
    I’ve got no solution to the endless swiping or disappointing dates. I have however found some positives to online dating (beyond just finding the right person):
  • 1. Reflecting on qualities. Online dating lets you reflect on what qualities and strengths are really important to you in a partner and what your deal breakers are. After reading through hundreds of profiles certain qualities will likely start to stand out to you as either ones you want in a partner or want to avoid in a partner. 
  • 2. You’re not alone! Online dating helps you realize how many singles really are out there. Sometimes in our daily lives it can feel like we are the only single person on the planet, but online dating can be a nice reminder that there are a ton of other people that are single too. 
  • 3. Appreciation for love. The endless amount of unanswered messages, disappointing dates, and time consuming searching will give you a deeper appreciation when you do finally find that wonderful somebody someday. When you’re able to reflect on the journey it took you to find the right person, you will realize how special love really is. 
  • I hope these positives help you feel a little better through the online dating process. I also hope you find success with online dating (or meeting someone in regular day life) if that’s what you are looking for! 

    Post: Travel Cheap

    Traveling around the country is something I love to do and hope to do more of in a next couple of years. The downfall of travel is the price. After a lot of research (and trial and error), I have found some ways to save money when traveling. Here are the tips that I think are most helpful:

    1. Skip renting a car. When possible, consider not renting a car. Renting a car can easily add hundreds of dollars onto your trip. If you are staying somewhere that is walking distance to what you need and you are able to take public transportation (including Uber, etc.) compare the costs. 
    2. Use travel sites for booking your flights and hotels. Expedia is usually my go to for finding deals. You can save hundreds going through travel sites because they will compare prices for you. You can also call hotels directly and ask if they offer any deals. 
    3. Only bring a carry on bag. Learn how to pack light and only bring a carry on bag with you when traveling on an airplane. It’s usually around $30-$50 to check a suitcase each way. It’s definitely doable to pack for a week in a small bag. 
    4. Budget ahead of time. It can save you a lot time and money to budget ahead of time. Budget how much money you want to spend on food, activities and extra expenses per day. Try to be realistic but still keep a budget while planning. By keeping a budget it will help keep you within your goals when making choices on the trip. 
    5. Research activities before your trip to look for deals. Some examples of deals you may find are that certain days may be cheaper at a museum or if you buy your tickets online you could save money at an amusement park. 

    Exploring new places, experiencing new culture and getting away from normal life can be so rejuvenating. Whether traveling near or far, I hope you get a chance to do some traveling in the near future!

    Post: Positives of Breakups

    Breakups can hurt. They can be unexpected, unwanted and scary. Breakups can cause you to feel a lot of uncertainty in your life as you face a new reality of living life without this person.

    While it may not feel like it, there are some positives to breakups that you should keep in mind:

    1. Every relationship teaches you something new. You may have found a more fun side, a more analytical side or a more emotional side of your personality. Broken relationships can teach you what to avoid in the future and what you are looking for in a partner.

    2. The fun memories happened. Breakups don’t erase the past. While it might seem sad to reflect on fun times (and I don’t recommend doing this right away) it’s important to remember that it wasn’t wasted time. There were good times but this relationship wasn’t meant to last forever.

    3. You are still amazing. Breakups can cause you to doubt yourself (especially if the breakup wasn’t wanted by you), they can cause you to wonder if something is wrong with you. Remember that breakups are a normal part of life, a relationship doesn’t define you, and you are still the amazing person you always were.

    Approach the time after a breakup as time you get to spend doing things you love without having to worry about a significant other. Take a new class, start a new hobby, go on a trip you have been wanting to go on. While breakups will never be fun, the time after them doesn’t need to be negative. You are still the wonderful you!

    Post: Failed an interview?

    I do contract (temporary) work for a living which means I have to go through the interview process with different companies at least once a year. I’m not an expert at interviews (they still freak me out). One thing I’ve learned how to improve on is being easy on myself when an interview doesn’t go great.

    Here are some things to keep in mind when you feel down about how an interview went:

    1. This wasn’t your one and only shot. You will have opportunities to interview for other great companies.

    2. They won’t remember you. Are you concerned they are going to think about how bad you were during your interview? Chances are they have a lot of other candidates they are interviewing and you will be forgotten.

    3. You probably did better than you think you did. Really. We are our worst critics and tend to be all or nothing with ourselves (I.e. we think we either did good or bad, instead of just okay).

    4. There’s more to life than your career! I know this can be hard when you are focused on finding a job but remember there is more to life than just your career. You are a person with many interests, talents and gifts.

    5. Every interview helps you grow. Each interview is a chance to improve, to learn and to practice your interview skills.

    After every interview pat yourself on the back, congratulate yourself on going through the interview process and be proud of what you did right! The fact that you are putting yourself out there is no small triumph.

    Post: Dating Yourself

    Whether you are single or in a relationship, taking time to date yourself is crucial for your self love. It gives you a chance to spend time getting to know yourself, getting to reflect on your thoughts and interests, and most of all it teaches you to make yourself a priority in your life.

    What does dating yourself really mean?

    Dating yourself means to intentionally set aside time for yourself to indulge in activities you enjoy in order to further develop love for yourself. In other words, it’s doing activities independently to grow as a person. It’s fun and it’s fulfilling.

    How often should you take yourself on solo dates?

    There’s no set amount of time in which one should date themself. For some it may be weekly and for others it may be monthly. It’s important to focus on what works for you.

    Here are some fun solo date ideas:

    1. Stay at a hotel for a night. Spend time by the pool, work out, get comfy in bed, watch a movie, order some yummy food.

    2. Spa night at home. Draw a warm bubble bath, put on a facial mask, light a candle and relax. A nice way to end a spa night at home is by journaling or reading an interesting book.

    3. Check out a local museum. Most states have a variety of museums you can visit. (Tip: Your local library might offer discounts on museum passes)

    4. Dinner and a movie at home. Cook up your favorite dish or order some za. Curl up on the couch with your food, a delicious drink and a movie you have been wanting to watch.

    Never forget how important it is to set aside time for yourself and to make yourself a priority. When you take care of yourself you will find you have more energy to help and love those around you.