Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Saguaro National Park on film

I've recently become more interested in experimenting with film photography, which is something I haven't done much of since I upgraded from my old 35mm point-and-shoot compact camera back in 2005ish. I brought a couple different film cameras with me on my latest trip to the southwest, and I just had the film developed! Both cameras I bought second hand, and it was my first time using them, so I'm just over the moon that any of the pictures turned out in the first place! Now that I've finally gotten some results (it takes me soooo long to go through a roll of film!), I'm so excited to get out and shoot more!

The split images are from a super cute Holga135TIM (TIM stands for "Twin Image Maker") camera that I purchased recently on eBay. I have never used one of these cameras before so I had a lot of fun figuring out how it worked! I really am in love with the way the images look side by side. The other photos are from a vintage Ricoh AF-5 (compact point-and-shoot) that I found at a thrift store for under five bucks (score!). None of these images have been edited in any way! I mean, the desert is already dreamy to begin with, but on film? UGH. Take me back now! (I mean...look at that light leak. *Insert heart-eye emoji here.*).

Do you dabble in film photography? What kind of camera do you use? Leave me a link, I'd love to see some of your work!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

how I saved $18,000 for travel in just six months

Last year was the year I decided to stop fucking around and get serious about my savings. I wanted to feel comfortable taking long chunks of time off for living on the road, and I knew I needed to be more financially stable to do it. At the beginning of the year I set a goal to save at least $10,000, and I blew that goal away in a matter of months. Here's how I did it.

I worked two jobs. I worked as a waitress during the day, and as a bar tender at night. Most days I worked double shifts (working 10-5 waiting tables and then working 5-10 tending bar). I preferred to have two days in a row completely off to relax and take care of some household chores, but I spent a lot of my days off filling in for my coworkers. I worked every single day of October.

I put all of my tips, along with my paychecks, directly into my savings account. I put only the money I needed into a checking account.

I cut out all unnecessary spending. It wasn't hard, considering I worked almost everyday and had no time to go out to eat or go shopping, even if I had wanted to. I worked at two restaurants, so I ate my meals at work, for free (most restaurant offer their employees a free meal for each shift they work), and therefore I really didn't need to buy a lot of groceries.

I kept track of how much money I made in tips every day on a pocket calendar I stored in the glove compartment of my car. There are also some handy apps you can use to track tips, but I prefer this way so I can easily see developing trends, and make quick calculations.
At the beginning of last year I really had a change in thinking about how I should handle finances. I became more disciplined. I worked really hard, and it paid off (pun intended). If you are looking to make travelling a priority and need to make some fast cash to fund your adventures, here are some of my tips.

1) Set a specific goal. I set a goal to save $10,000 and actually having a concrete number I was going for made a huge difference in how I tracked my progress

2) Make some changes. Maybe you don't have time to watch Netflix because you're working so much? Or you realize that you can rent DVDs from the library for free, instead. Cancel your gym membership until you have more time to actually use it. Drink the coffee at work or make it at home instead of buying some on your way to work. Cut back on little expenses like these that quietly add up.

3).Get uncomfortable. You're so freaking exhausted the last thing you probably want to do is cover a shift for that guy who always asks, but do it. Say yes a lot. Sacrifice some of your time off to work a few more shifts.

And, finally, here are some of my tips on what not to do when you're trying hard to save money.

1) Don't spend your cash. When you work at a job where you get cash tips, don't be fooled into thinking you're rich by the stacks of money in your hand. Put it in the bank, into a savings account, specifically.

2)  Don't "forget" to tip or under tip bar tenders, waitresses, and baristas when you do decide to go out. People in the service industry people work hard for a tiny minimum wage and rely on tips to make a living (especially wait people, who can make as little as $2 an hour). Tipping at least twenty percent won't break your bank (and if it will, you shouldn't be going out in the first place). Don't be a dick.

3) Don't stop once you hit your goal. I hit $10,000 a few months in, and while I was really excited, I didn't stop going hard until the season finally ended. Keep up the hard work.

4) Don't neglect your adventure mobile. Tune ups may seem expensive, especially when nothing really seems wrong, but a little investment in upkeep may help you avoid costly maintenance on the road.

5) Don't blow your savings once you hit the road. Remember how hard you worked for every one of those dollars. Spend them wisely.

I am so proud of my accomplishments last year, and I have been reaping the benefits of all my hard work all winter long (I've been on four long trips, and I even bought myself a new cute little fuel efficient (used) car for day to day driving). I'm not going to try and tell you that it was easy, though, it wasn't. It was grueling, both mentally and physically. It's really something I had to push myself to do, every day. Believe me, however, when I say that all those long days were worth it in the end. Now I am ready for another grind once spring comes again, and I look forward to setting and crushing some new goals when the time comes.

What are your money saving goals for the year? What helps you stay disciplined? What are the best tips you've ever gotten regarding saving money? Let me know!

Thursday, December 1, 2016


When I quit my job at the beginning of the month, I was very excited for the amount of time it opened up for me. It didn't take me long after my first few days off to decide that I should spend some of this new found time volunteering and helping give back to my community, and it wasn't hard for me to figure out that I really wanted to invest my time into an organization that is very near and dear to my heart - the Humane Society.

The ADOPT A FRIEND project is a series of graphic designs based on shelter animals* that will eventually be offered for sale as prints, and possibly t-shirts. Absolutely all of the proceeds from this art project will be donated back to the humane society. I'm hoping this will help provide monetary assistance to shelters, but I also hope that this project will help bring more awareness to people about the benefits of adopting a pet from an animal shelter.

Did you know that 2.7 million adoptable animals are euthanized each year because there are simply too many of them for shelters to care for, and because more people don't adopt from shelters when getting a new pet? Not to mention that puppies from pet stores, flea markets, or online sales are usually from puppy mills (read more about puppy mills here).

Even if you aren't able to bring a pet into your home, there are still lots of ways you can help out your local shelter. Lots of them are in dire need of dedicated volunteers, and volunteering even as little as a few hours a week can be helpful. There are also lots of other things you can donate, besides your time, like food, litter, toys, and money (most shelters will provide you with a wishlist if you call and ask, or they may have one listed on their website).

I will keep everyone updated as to when and where the merchandise will be available. Thank you so much for helping me support this cause!

Check out these great resources:
It kind of looks like this guy is a grouch, but he was reaching out of his cage ever so sweetly, just wanting some attention.
He was so gentle and sweet! I couldn't resist giving him lots of snuggles!
*All furry friends featured here are waiting for a forever home at Door County Humane Society.
   A huge THANK YOU to DCHS for letting me come and do my thing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Badlands National Park // prairie dogs

One of the highlights of Badlands National Park (basically everything was a highlight, though) was the abundance of quirky little prairie dogs. They are soooooo cuuuuuuute. Their little faces, their cute paws, and the sounds that they make just kill me!

Prairie dogs are not really dogs, as their name would suggest, they are rodents in the same category as squirrels and chipmunks. There are several different types of prairie dogs, but these in particular are black tailed prairie dogs. Prairie dogs, in general, are highly social animals that live in groups, like families. There is "kissing" activity and grooming that takes place among prairie dogs from the same family. They live in burrows that can extend as far as a meter underground, and they hide in those deepest spaces to avoid predators. They communicate with each other through sophisticated calls in which scientists believe they can describe exactly which predator is threatening them.

It was so wonderful being able to observe prairie dog behavior in the wild. Watching them made me happy, and so interested to learn more about them. I think that's part of why it's so important for people to travel and see new things. Sometimes it's hard to feel a connection to things that we haven't actually observed in person. This is part of the reason why I'm such a big advocate for travel. When people travel, they learn. When people learn, they fall in love. When people love, they protect. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

road trip 2016 // Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is the first national park I've ever been to (we have hardly any in the Midwest?!)! We went on my 27th birthday, and, honestly, I can't think of a way I'd rather have spent that day. Before we even entered the park, I made Jasper swing the car around because I saw some sort of animal near the road. It was an elk! I had never seen an elk before. He was so beautiful!

We entered the park and climbed a bit of Green Mountain. We stopped at Big Meadow in hopes of seeing some moose, but sadly the moose were not out and about. After the climb back down, we hopped in the car and drove up, up, and up! We drove Trail Ridge Road - one of the highest highways on the continent! We stopped along the way for mini hikes and lots of photos.

I absolutely fell in love with Colorado when I was there, and I think about how much I'd love to go back. I want to visit the National Park again! It seems like there was so much to explore that we missed before heading on. I want to see it all! I want to climb all the mountains!

Friday, October 28, 2016

cackles the clown

These photos were fun to create, but the finished product is something I procrastinated posting because I wasn't very satisfied with the results. I was going for a really creepy clown, but I think what I ended up with was just a weird one...? Something is lacking, in my eyes, from my original vision. I found this clown suit when I was thrifting back in September. It is handmade, quite vintage, and fits me perfectly, so I was highly excited about its potential. I tea-dyed it, added the pom-pom "buttons" onto the front, and custom created, distressed, and dyed the collar out of an old tee shirt. And then America went *crazy* with creepy clowns.

Perhaps that is some of what is disappointing about these photos - the idea is no longer original (at least in 2016 it's not). I considered putting the costume away and saving it for another year, but I thought, what the hell, I was super excited about it, so here are my annual Halloween-esque photos.

Friday, October 14, 2016

road trip 2016 // Colorado

I took a week off of work for my birthday where my fiance and I were planning on a short trip up to the bear rescue in Upper Michigan. Somehow we got it into our heads the week before we were supposed to leave that we should, instead, drive to the Grand Canyon (hey, why not?). We threw together a haphazard plan to rent a car and drive to the desert to look for the new van of our #vanlife dreams. We left early in the morning and set out to pick up our rental vehicle, which we had booked and paid for online. We arrived at the airport (where we were renting a car), and were told that, even though we had already paid for our car, we couldn't actually take it because neither of us had a credit card (we both only use debit). We tried every car rental place there, even driving to another airport a half hour away, and it was the same story at each one. (This must be a Wisconsin thing, because we rented a car in Florida with a debit card, no problem, just a few months ago.) Our parents even offered to have us use their credit card info, but the rental places said that they could only use the card of the person actually driving the car. There was lots of ugly crying and frustrated time spent trying to get our money back and figure things out before we just decided to fuck the rental and just drive Jasper's car.

Through Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska we drove. Around hour fifteen on the road we crossed into Colorado, and a few hours later we saw *mountains.* We didn't just see mountains, we were in the mountains. It didn't take us long to realize that we should just stop driving and stay where we were because, hello. Our plans for Utah and Arizona and a new van were quickly scrapped in favor of exploring more of the Rockies. We ended up staying in Dillon for two nights before driving to the Rocky Mountain National Park for my actual birthday, which I'll talk about in a later post.
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