Creative Ways to Build Extra Income in 2020 (While at Home)

Updated: May 2020

Having extra income should not be difficult and I want to give you a few creative ways of how you can start building extra income today, while at home. Considering the circumstances, you might be cleaning out your home, find items and gadgets you no longer care for. The world has not completely stopped because you are still buying groceries. If you are swimming in extra time now might be a good time to build an extra stream of income by potentially transcribing audio files, narrating a book, participating in a survey or even starting a blog in your field of expertise. If you are in the market to create streams of extra income, the below tips are for you. If you are interested in making money this week, please scroll down to the section about Instacart or use my recent guide to give you a quick guide to start shopping for Instacart this week.

I have categorized each opportunity from minimal effort to more consistent effort depending on your return of investment. Whether you need extra cash flow, want extra income to invest or simply need extra income during these times, I have created an easy list of things you can start working towards today, while at home. When creating this list, I have specifically curated the options that you can work on while having a full-time job or full-time responsibilities and options that are not only creative but legitimate.

Sell unwanted clothing on Poshmark

Effort Level: 4/5

Is your closet filled with clothes that you have not worn in a while? Well download Poshmark now and build some passive income with what is already in your closet. Poshmark covers shipping through USPS for a fee that customers pay. Did you know that you don’t need to actually drop off your packages at the Post Office, USPS can pick them up from your home. Need the Priority packaging bags? Do not worry about going to your nearest USPS, order them directly to your home.

Tips for selling your clothes?

Learn more, in this Beginners Guide to Poshmark in 2020.

First, you need images of your clothing. This consists of good lighting, a blank wall for your background, Lightroom or another editing application and your phone (no need for a fancy camera). Find a blank wall, add in a nail, and use a clear or white hanger. Take photos of the front, back, size tag, and fabric description. Before you post your photos, lighten your photos using the lightroom app.

Create a descriptive title. For your title you will want to include the brand name (if known), type of clothing (dress, top, sweater, and etc.) and if you have room (enough characters) add in the color, size and NWT (New with Tags), if applicable.

Other apps to sell clothes: Mercari, Thredup

Sell unwanted tools, appliances, and home goods on Offerup

Effort Level: 3/5

If you have old tools, coffee makers you do not like, pictures, frames, mattresses that you want to get rid of, Offerup is for you. This is not as time-consuming compared to Poshmark but you still want a few clear photos of the items and up to two phrases to describe what you are selling. When people search Offerup they are not just browsing, they are most likely looking to make a purchase to complete their home or find a specific appliance for a better price. This model allows you to just sit and wait for the right audience to come for your items following some negotiation. Typically this application is used by people in a local market where customer will be picking up the item from a designated location. Since Offerup has opened the app to other states and cities they also use USPS to provide shipping for the customers that would like to purchase the item if you choose to ship it. They will take a fee but you are provided with a shipping label and can use the USPS shipping bags just like Poshmark.

Become a Transcriptionist on Rev

Effort Level: 4/5

All you need is some good English grammar and good typing skills. The application process is simple and includes a small transcription quiz. Once you pass you will be able to browse various jobs at different pay rates. You get paid for the work you do per job every single Monday for the previous week worked. There is no contract, minimum times, or amount of background you need to be able to qualify and still continue working. This is a creative way to build extra income when you have some spare time while at home.

Participate in Focus Group Surveys with FocusGroup.com

Effort Level: 3/5

This is very simple to set up. Once you apply you will start getting email notifications for upcoming surveys. Many surveys have preliminary quizzes to determine if you qualify to be apart of the Focus Group. If you get to be apart of the focus group you can make between $50-200 per survey. Once you sign up, you will get email notifications about upcoming and new focus group surveys. You take a quick 2 min quiz to see if you qualify for the focus group. Participate in a paid focus group, test new products, taste new snacks and beverages, watch new TV shows, take online surveys, and more! I joined through FocusGroup.com and if you choose to join as well, comment down below and I will be able to send you a personal link recommending you to participate in the Focus Group Surveys.

Become a Narrator with Acx.com

Effort Level: 4/5

Do you love to speak or narrate or read stories aloud? This gig might be for you. Create your profile on acx.com and create a sample audio voice and audition for certain books. This is a great way to make extra income. This organization is directly linked to audible and amazon making it very easy to sign up if you already have an Amazon account.

Get Cash Back on Ibotta

Effort Level: 2/5

Honestly, I love this app. I have used it for various purchases like groceries or even travel. You are eligible to get cash back for purchases you make on the regular. Although none of us are planning to travel soon beside the occasional trip to the grocery store, this is still a great tool to use for every grocery trip or even some online shopping. Before I make a purchase, I search the Ibotta app for my specific grocer and start adding items that I will purchase into my list. After you have completed your purchase, you will then upload your receipt and be able to save on the items it matches according to your purchases. I have received up to $300 in lifetime earnings just from my regular everyday purchases. If you decide to download the app be sure to use my referral code “afjcsnk” at registration to receive $20 deposited to your account.

Let Dosh make you some extra change. 

Effort Level: 1/5

Dosh is very similar to Ibotta expect you are not required to upload receipts and earn back a specific % versus item-specific amounts. Link some of your frequently used cards and find that you receive some extra cash or cents when you make purchases. I tend to forget that I have this app linked to my cards but then will be surprised with an email notification that I earned some passive income. Once you have earned up to $20 you will be able to deposit it your PayPal account and then straight to your bank. I love finding that I have an extra $20 lying this account. Over the course of 3 years, I have made over $60 and I only have a couple cards linked to this account. It is not an astronomical number but its some extra income you can use for your specialty coffee or better yet you can invest that cash and buy a stock.

Scan your receipts to earn free gift cards with Fetch

Effort Level: 1/5

Save all your receipts. I find it helpful keeping them in a ziplock bag. Then scan all your recent receipts. They must be within a two week time period and there is a limit of receipts that you can scan. This is literally the easiest thing and you can easily earn gift cards from $5-50 and redeem them based on the amount of points you have accumulated. Download Fetch using this link and you will automatically earn 2,000 points plus every receipt you scan when you first sign up has bonus points attached to it, so be sure to have some receipts handy.

Invest with Robinhood

Effort Level: 2/5

I love Robinhood because you can start investing today without commission charges. They are pioneers of this new investment model suitable for people interested in making some passive income.  You can purchase stocks for as low as $1, which they call Fractional Stocks. You will be able to invest any amount, from various companies to diversity your portfolio, and have an ability to trade in real-time commission-free When you join, Robinhood starts you off with you a free stock from a major company, to give you a head start. 

Become a Shopper on Instacart

Effort Level: 4/5

Instacart is a platform customers use to have food delivered right to their door stop. You can partner with Instacart to just shop or to shop and deliver produce straight to someone’s house. It is a very simple process to sign up for instacart and all you need is a car. Instacart provides you with a card that has a preloaded amount for every grocery trip you have to complete. You get to choose the hours you will work and select specific jobs. If you link your debit card, you can get paid out instantly for every job you complete. Learn more using this guide.

Start a Blog on WordPress

Effort Level: 5+/5

Although this is something that does take time to build up it will generate extra passive income. If you have an interest in a specific topic and want to generate income over time, start a blog. With the amount of internet traffic, we are currently experiencing, this is is a perfect time to start. But honestly, it is never too late to start. I am planning to put together a comprehensive guide on how to start a blog but for now, these are my five quick tips: think of a niche (as specific as possible), create a brand-centered-name related to your niche or your personal name, open a basic WordPress.com account and start playing around with features and tools this will provide you with a basic understanding of the world of WordPress, purchase a domain name, and hosting services. I highly recommend Bluehost. They have a well-integrated and seamless system that is made to work with WordPress. This is especially perfect for beginners considering their 24/7 support line.

But why WordPress? In a brief explanation, WordPress is the most used platform for bloggers because of the versatile nature of the platform. There are a lot of widgets, applications, and plugins that work well with a blog. Once you have established a blog you can begin earning income through ads, affiliate links, brand sponsorships and more.

I hope you enjoyed reading about some creative ways to make extra income especially while you are at home. I know this is a difficult season for everyone but stay strong and don’t forget to pursue your dreams. Every step closer to your dream is a step closer to getting there.

Be blessed,

How to boost your immune system to curb colds and coronavirus

How do you plan to boost your immune system to curb potential colds and the coronavirus? As Coronavirus is on the rise, fear has settled in and that is not something I want to instill through this post. It is good to be prepared during this “winter” season, regardless of any diseases that creep into our world. I want to share some of my own tips, to boost your immune system. I have all the below currently handy in my pantry and have been using them on the daily.

Side Note: Do not be afraid of the coronavirus. The media has done a great job to instill fear but we must not fear but instead be prepared. Also, we should already be washing our hands frequently and using proper hygiene etiquette on the regular.

Also disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor am I claiming to be one. I am simply sharing my favorite tips based on what has helped boost my immune system. Think of this as a nutritional must-have-on-hand list. Please consult your doctor before you try anything new.

To make it easier for you, I have done the research to find the best supplements for each category. I will be linking my favorite supplements which are safe, effective and contain high quality ingredients. It is so important to choose the supplements that actually work.  Select any of the images and they directly link you to the product on amazon.

Immune Boost Support

Vitamin C- This is a powerful antioxidant that will strengthen your body and boost your immune system in order to fight against diseases like the Coronavirus and various colds. Not only can this be purchased in a supplement form, but can be found in food. Be conscious to include foods with a high dose of vitamin C. What makes Vitamin C so powerful? According to healthline.com, It may reduce chronic disease, manage blood pressure, lower risk of heart disease, reduce blood uric acid, help prevent iron deficiency, protects your memory and thinking as you age, and boost your immunity. Why is it so great to boost your immune system? It encourages the production of white blood cell production which help the body fight off infection (1).  It is important for the skin’s defensive system and acts as a powerful antioxidant and strength’s barriers of the skin (2). How much should we take? A review was conducted and out of 31 studies found that consuming 1–2 grams of vitamin C daily reduced cold duration by 18% in children and 8% in adults (3). So if you are sick and feeling up to it, take 1-2 grams (1,000-2,000mg) daily.

ACV or better known as Apple Cider Vinegar– I remember drinking this ever since I was about 10 years old. My dad admired an amazing health pioneer, Paul Bragg and this was one of the main health liquids he promoted. I still, to this day, will purchase the Braggs brand of ACV along with other products that they sell. What makes Apple Cider Vinegar so great to boost your immune system? It is an amazing weapon to have on hand during this Coronavirus season. Vinegar can kill pathogens because it contains acetic acid (4).  If you have a sore throat, Apple Cider can help alleviate that pain since it does have antibacterial properties (5). How to drink it? I like to add 2 teaspoons of Apple Cider vinegar and a teaspoon of honey to an 8-ounce mug of warm water. As boiling water kills this powerful bacteria, avoid adding boiling water to the vinegar. 

Oregano Oil- I always knew the benefits of Oregano Oil but never tried it until recently. How to drink it? I recently purchase a little bottle of oregano oil and have been adding 2 drops of oil into water and drinking it between meals. There are oregano essential oils you can diffuse but I prefer to ingest it. Oregano oil is a very powerful oil taken directly from the mint plant family. What makes it so great? It is so potent that it may rival against some antibiotics when it comes to preventing various infections like Coronavirus and common colds (6).  It contains a wide range of properties that are antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal (7) to help curb these harmful diseases.

Vitamin D – Most people are Vitamin D deficient. Consider that most of us stay indoors and will be staying in doors due to Coronavirus, Vitamin D will be essential. It is important to note that Vitamin D is a fat soluble supplement, which means it will be better absorbed if eaten with fat. It does regulate and strengthen your immune system (8). It can also help to reduce depression (9) which likely will cause you to be more happy, no wonder they call it the sunshine vitamin. And It helps reduce the likelihood of the flu (10), now that is a winner.

Thank you for stopping by! I hope this was informative and helps you boost your immune system to fight off the coronavirus. Let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment. Also, please share your favorite supplements.

Xoxo

simply oksana

Best Food in Los Angeles

The food in Los Angeles was the best. First of all, most places only offer vegan mayo, say what? Considering all the food restrictions people have, Los Angeles provides options for all types of diets and caters to them. Something I learned on this recent trip is that most restaurants in Los Angeles have grades for their restaurants; they posted right inside or outside of the restaurant which ensures your food is in its best quality. You might even spot a few grades in the photos below. 

Butchers Daughter

If you are looking for the best food in Los Angeles? You might as well just walk outside. We were watching towards a restaurant that I had on my list when we ended up walking past this one. The decor and design of the restaurant drew us to it. Later I realized that it was on my list all along but I stumbled upon it.  Little did I know, it was an all vegetarian restaurant. I had the Pad Thai and a Kale salad which were both amazing. Toliy and a friend both had burger. One of them had the impossible burger and the other had a veggie burger. Although it was a vegetarian restaurant, we were all stuffed by the end of the meal. 

Tip: Put yourself on the waitlist and explore the shops of Venice while you wait. This location is close to the airport and can make for the best food spot for your first or last stop in Los Angeles.

Hanging Greenery White Airy Decor Butchers Daughter Best Food in Los Angeles

Butcher's Daughter- Best Food in Los AngelesButcher's Daughter- Best Food in Los AngelesButcher's Daughter- Best Food in Los Angeles

 

 

The Butcher's Daughter Juice Bar and Cafe Best Food in Los Angeles

Butcher’s Daughter’s Menu

Malibu Farm

This is one of my favorite spots and I always pay a visit every time when I am near Malibu. The pier provides the ultimate chill vibes. It is beyond peaceful to take a stroll by the water before a dinner or a appetizers and a drink. 

Tip: Go to Malibu Farm early on in your trip. It really sets the mood and provides a sense of relaxation either after a long flight or just a busy lifestyle. No wonder so many Los Angeles locals come to visit Malibu because it is a great center for some of the best food as well. 

Malibu Farm mug bar background Best Food in Los Angeles

Malibu Farm menu Best Food in Los AngelesGirl in camo pants on a pier in Malibu

 

Urth Caffe

When in Los Angeles downtown or even Beverly Hills stop in for some of the best cafe food. Urth Caffe is so popping  and open later than most cafes. This was a perfect addition to our evening after we visited Church Home. I had the paradise salad which was almost $20 but extremely worth it. The salad consisted of assorted summer veggies, fresh peaches, cannellini beans, walnuts and wild rice tossed with their pomegranate dressing and topped with Kite Hill vegan cheese.

Tip: Add this spot for a late night dinner but only with a smaller group of people because the seating is a bit limited. 

pizza chocolate cake from Urth Cafe one of Los Angeles best food cafesParadise Salad Urth Cafe Los Angeles

Urth Cafe’s Menu

Loqui

So think Chipotle but curated and better? Wait did I just say better than Chipotle?! I absolutely loved the bowls. They come prefixed with the same toppings of beans, guacamole, and pickled onions under a bed of rice with your choice of the protein. To top it off, they make their tortillas are homemade. Featured below is their outdoor seating behind the restaurant.

Tip: Definitely opt for the homemade flour tortillas. If you go to the Studio City location there is a very nice area that features various restaurants and shops. 

Loqui restaurant one of the best food places in Los Angeles for mexican

 

Blue Bottle Coffee

This quickly became our favorite coffee shop. I really enjoyed their Belgium Waffle and of course coffee. The interior design of one of their locations was literally made into a house shape, how neat? 

Tip: Most of these coffee shops are located closer to Los Angeles so plan accordingly. 

Blue Bottle’s Locations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cha Cha Matcha

Omg! All my pink and Instagram dreams came true at this spot. First everything is made with matcha and I love matcha. Second I love pink decor.  Third the fact that they have dairy-free soft-serve ice cream was bomb. The photo ops here were unreal. 

Tip: If you are traveling by car, there is a dedicated parking spot for Cha Cha Matcha customers but only if you are in the restaurant. Once you are finished with your experience make sure you re-park to another spot. Venice has free parking all behind the shops down main street. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kreation

This restaurant features the best high-quality and intentional ingredients in their food and that is why it is on my Los Angeles list. They have everything from pre-made soups, salads, salad dressing, cold pressed juices and etc. All the food is clearly marked with all the clean ingredients used and it is stored in glass. I got myself a Glamology smoothie and it was a mixture of collagen protein, cacao wellness superfood powder, tocos, flax meal, cacao nibs, date, vanilla extract, avocado, banana, strawberries, and finished off with almond milk.

Tip: There is a location in Thousand Oaks if you are staying closer in the valley. I would suggest picking up a smoothie for an afternoon pick-me-up or snack. 

 

10 Speed Coffee

This Coffee Shop is located at the back end of Pedaler’s Fork which is a popular brunch spot in Calabasas. One of my friends, Sierra invited me here and I fell in love. The barista was kind enough to offer their speciality maple latte. Honestly, I barely drink coffee but this was one I had to go back for. I did try it both hot and cold. I prefer it to be cold for the flavor and because it is easier to drink straight away.

Tip: Even though it is very busy, grab yourself a coffee and enjoy the Farmer’s Market down the historic street of Calabasas. 

I hope you enjoyed this post about the Best Food in Los Angeles. I usually only post my favorite places and places that I have actually stepped foot into. Let me know if you would be interested if I included locations I would never go back to or places that are still on my list.

If you plan to travel to Tampa, definitely check out my Tampa Bay Food Itinerary.

Follow along for more travel stories at @osvcru

Our Love Story (Part II)

Now if you haven’t checked out the first part of Our Love Story, definitely start there. There is a hilarious story that ties into the following.

For the rest of the day, Toliy was still in shock at how similar I was to my mom and he was basically and literally left speechless. But of course our plans still stayed the same, our first stop was the mall. Side Note: Who takes someone to the mall after a 9 hour flight from Alaska? Do not do it! lol. We had talked about it before he had arrived, so I figured he had still been up for it. Later that day, we went to my aunts house where Toliy would be staying for his trip in Chicago. He had met some of my cousins and my aunt. It was special.

Image may contain: 1 person, wedding and outdoor

I was still in College at the time, so Toliy would come visit me and actually sat in one of my lectures. He ended up surprising me with these nice long stemmed roses, which were my absolute favorite and later became the signature flowers that he would gift me.

We headed out to Downtown Chicago. Our first official date in the city. We ended up going to the Sears Tower, the Bean, and of course Navy Pier- all of the touristy areas. We still joke about it to this day because I made us walk all around the city in the super cold air and Toliy literally froze his face and hands but for some reason we just kept walking and walking. On the way back to our car, we ended up taking the bus from Navy Pier and finally warmed up. LOL

Side Note:This is literally the only photo we have and could find from the first week of adventures together. I remember Toliy had posted this photo to his Facebook profile picture and was asked a lot of questions. We didn't make any official announcements yet. This was back in the time when Facebook status announcements were so legit. Literally so much has changed since then and I can't believe it because this was literally just four years ago.

On another special night, Toliy took me to PF Changs. It was one of my favorites at the time. I really enjoy the Egg Plant, Spicy Chicken Noodle Soup, and the Garlic Noodles. We ordered some of my favorite dishes and as we were just talking away, Toliy ends up handing me a box underneath our dinner table. Immediately, I start having so many thoughts of what the box might hold. “Is he really proposing?” “Now?” “I mean I know we had talked a lot over the phone but is it this really happening?” “I do not know what to say”. So as I had all these thoughts racing through my head, my hands took the box he had handed me and I slowly opened the box and I saw a RING!

BUT, It was not an engagement ring, not yet. I took a breath of relief lol, not knowing what the answer what have been if he had proposed in that very moment. He then went on to say that it was a promise ring and that he wanted to officially ask me to be his girlfriend. He told me that he had already spoken with my dad and asked for his permission to date his daughter. I was in disbelief.

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting, shoes, wedding, child, outdoor and indoor

This was such an eventful week, and we literally went on dates everyday of the week. On the third day of the week, Toliy had told me that he had loved me but I gave him no response. I had experienced a lot of feeling for him up to this point and already almost said that I loved him over the phone but I was so glad to have waited to hear it from him in person. I did not give a response because I did not know what to say.

A couple days later, Toliy had prayed and basically said ” God if she does not say that she loves me by the end of the day today then I will take it as a sign that she is not from you”. That was an extremely bold move and he was quite nervous. We hung out the entire day as usual and there was no word from me about the L word. At the end of the night, we stayed up late chatting with my aunt and I was heading back home, I had the strong urge to tell him that I loved him and I did not know what to think of it. I quickly said, ” I love you” and got in my car and drove off to go back home. It was a very interesting feeling and of course an answer to Toliy’s prayer that I had not known about until later on.

DSC_5197

The last day of our Adventure was in Rosemont because of its proximity to the airport. We ended up arriving with enough time to make it to his flight so we went to Fogo De Chao, my favorite restaurant and then we watched a movie. We ended up mixing up the time of the flight and he ended up missing his flight back home. This was the perfect opportunity to spend another day with one other, so we were so happy. I was thrilled to have another day to spend with him. We ended up walking around Woodfield Mall and he just looked over at me and said ” You look beautiful with and without makeup”. In that moment, I had realized that he made me feel so comfortable to be myself. I had never felt that with anyone else and I really felt like we were such good friends. I was so open to share what was on my heart, I was open to share about the future I was looking forward to and I really felt comfortable with him and I knew that I had found the one whom my soul loves- truly. I know it is super cheesy but in the moment I somehow knew that He was it. I know everyone always has a super revelation somewhere down the road of a relationship with someone and that was it for me. IT was nothing super special, it was not the moment where he gave me gifts ( although I really enjoyed it) but it was in that moment that I felt like I could be myself and  I felt that He loved me for who I was and not an idea of me.

DSC_5393

This was our first official goodbye. I said bye to him at the airport. Yes, I cried but they were happy tears. It seemed that we were strangers at the beginning of the trip but as he left I felt that a piece of my heart was on the plane with him. It was official that I was in love with Toliy.

To be continued…

Thanks for coming along this journey. I know this post has been long awaited so don’t worry, the next one will be out shortly. If you would be interested in following along our journey check out @TheRudenkiys. To follow along on my personal journey, check out @osvcru.

Dear Mama…

This is the second Mother’s Day that you are not with me. I know that it hasn’t been too long since I’ve talked to you. It also feels like its been my whole life that I have been without you. I wanted to write you a letter and thank you mama for everything you had done for me.

P.S I miss you so much mama.

My mama and little me. Circa 1994

I remember each time that we would go to panera and grab some tea, your favorite cafe latte and some pastries just to talk about life. I remember each time that we would go to your favorite store, Ann Taylor Loft, to find what new styles they had. I remember watching all the chick flicks and romantic comedy films that we could before we had to go to bed. I remember you always putting everyone before yourself. I remember that even on Mother’s Day you would buy us gifts. I remember that you would cancel all your plans just spend time with me if I had asked. Mama, you are the best!

Most importantly, Mama I always remember that you were there for me no matter what, when and where. Every step of the way you showed me how to be brave, how to be courageous and how to stand up for myself and be the person that I am today. You wiped my tears so many times and celebrated my victories every time. Mama, you were the friend I could count on and the advice I adhere to the most.

A precious moment captured on my wedding day.

Looking back, I always remember you Mama and miss every moment that we spent together. I miss that closeness that we shared, that look on your eyes of complete support, love and encouragement. I knew that you would never shut me down. You always dreamed big with me and would be so proud of me even in the smallest of victories.

Weekend getaway to California. It was one for the books.

Mama because of you today, I am able to be strong for myself and those around me. Because of you today, I am able to build a great family and a solid foundation in my faith. Because of you today, I am better than I ever could have been because I am so lucky to have had you be my mama for 24 years. Everything you taught me has been a blessing and I cannot say thank you enough.

Estonia 2017. She brought so many women closer to God.

Girls, if you have a mom remember today is her day. But it’s not just today that should be celebrated. Everyday, every second that you have time with her, is important to remember her. Even if your mom lives far away or you do not have a close relationship with her, reach out to her and make that first step to say, “THANK YOU!”. Remember that she made sacrifices for you to be here and made sure that you would be taken care of.

So thank you to all the moms out there! You are world changers. Believe it or not, you are worth far more than just one day.

To all the mothers out there, you are doing an amazing job. Every time I catch a glimpse of a mother and her daughter, I can’t help to just tear up. I can see all of the patience and time that they put into raising that little girl. I know it is not easy being a mother at times and can be overwhelming, but it really makes a difference. It’s not about having it all together, it’s about the principles you build up in their life and the way you make them feel. It is not about the money or even toys that she will remember you by. But she will remember the time you spend nurturing her, saying “I love you”, just holding her and being her biggest fan.

Happy Mothers Day!

I love you mama.

Thanks for reading this letter to my mama. I still miss her so much and she inspires me to continue writing and doing this whole blogging thing. If you are interested in more day to day content check out my instagram page @osvcru and for more about life, positivity, growth and encouragement check out @SimplyOksana

Tampa Bay Food Itinerary

In case you are headed to Tampa Bay soon, I have put together an itinerary of Tampa food that is definitely worth checking out. My husband and I recently visited the Tampa and got to visit amazing restaurants that I can’t wait to share. We ended up staying close to Tampa downtown and hung out with my cousins almost everyday. It was much needed family time.

St Pete Adventures

Tampa Food

Oxford Exchange

Ok, if you haven’t read my recent post about RH you will know that I loved my experience there. Naturally, I love anything similar to it. Eugene literally told us that this spot would be very similar to RH. We took his word for it and it was just it. There was a beautiful garden like atrium with a lot of natural light. There was a coffee shop and tea place just across from each other (which is perfect for Toliy and I). I tried the Blueberry Bliss and got the jumbo size seen in photo. We didn’t eat in the actual restaurant however I explored the gift shop. There were amazing cool books, home decor and high end fashion books. I loved browsing through them and ended up choosing a Japanese cookbook that I can’t wait to use.

Blueberry Bliss Jumbo Iced Tea

The sunlight conservatory doubles as a cafe.

Foundation Coffee

I mean how cute is this coffee shop? To begin, it is a completely outdoor coffee shop that features both oat and almond milk. We made it just before a storm and so it was a bit windy but made for some beautiful clouds in the photo. They only have outdoor seating, which is perfect when the weather is nice. If it’s rainy opt for the drive thru. Thanks to Sveta for the recommendation.

Foundation Coffee ~ Tampa, FL

The set-up makes all the difference!

Sarasota

To clarify, I know Sarasota isn’t exactly part of Tampa Bay but honestly if this was Chicago, it would still be considered Chicagoland.

Siesta Keys Beach Food

Firstly, Siesta Key Beach is always our go to beach when visiting the west side of Florida. I especially love the white sand and obviously the ocean. We spent the entire day at the beach and didn’t burn, thanks to sunscreen. Fun story: Toliy and I use mineral sunscreen, so we were the definitely the whitest on the beach. There is fast food in the center of the beach next to the restrooms, if you don’t want to leave the beach. They did have a lobster roll that sounded yummy. If you want to get some more local food, there is a complimentary trolley that goes towards Siesta Keys Village which many options and a local market. You can also use instacart to order some fruit and food from Whole Foods Sarasota.

Owen’s Fish Camp

After the beach, we were off to a seafood place. Thanks to Eugene’s friend, we ended up at Owen’s Fish Camp, which is a local favorite. In other words, it does get very busy and if you want a table you have to put your name in right away because the wait is usually over an hour. They will be on a waiting list and send updates through text.

Owen’s Fish Camp ~ Sarasota, FL

If you don’t want to wait, there is a secret hideaway at the back of the restaurant with a cash kitchen. I tried the fried oysters, which were very delicious. A shortened menu is avaliable to order from. I did find this part confusing because there isn’t really a designated place to order. Head to the bar area close enough with your menu to order or hop in the line if there is already one formed.

St. Pete (aka St. Petersburg)

St. Pete has a lot of food options! Clark Street is filled with food options up and down the street. From açaí bowls to Cuban sandwiches to coffee shops of all sorts of vibes. In the mix of it are cute shops.

Bodega

This sandwich was very tasty and I was only able to grab a single bit because I don’t eat pork or cheese. If you are a fan of either of those, this is the place for you. I did have the spicy coleslaw that didn’t have any dairy and might be vegan. The coleslaws was very refreshing especially on a hot day.

The Cuban

Spicy Coleslaw ~ Bodega St Pete

Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails

We strolled into a super Instagram worthy coffee shop with mint green tables all along the front and side for seating. I barely ate anything there so I was contemplating to add it to the list but I did because it was too cute to overlook lol

So cute!

“Can I use your coffee for a picture?” -Me

Craft Kafe

Of course we headed to another cafe recommended by another cousin Irina. They have all sorts of gluten free desserts from cheesecake bars, to pastries to their recommendation the “galaxy bar” which is hard to explain but it was a chocolate based vegan bar topped with coconut shreds. I really enjoyed the pecan bar as well! They had very fresh Brothers Brew coffee that Eugene and Toliy enjoyed very much. The restaurant featured a nice earthy vibes.

Earthy Vibes ~ Craft Kafe St Pete
Glorious Gluten-Free Goodness

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed my Tampa Bay food itinerary. Thanks to Eugene for scouting out most of these amazing spots.

Follow me on Instagram to get more daily updates on where I am at and what I am eating.

Also follow my new account @SimplyOksana for health related encouragement.


			

Top Instagrammable Spot in Chicago: 3 Arts Cafe in Restoration Hardware

What can be said? I felt like I walked into an Instagrammer’s Dream with a totally instagrammable interior design scene paired with a green and luscious atrium cafe restaurant. If you ever plan to visit Chicago definitely continue reading to be fully prepared for your trip to RH Gold Coast. 

Chandelier in green Atrium- Top Instagrammable Spot in Chicago 3 Arts Cafe Restoration Hardware in Gold Coast

Where to park?

Definitely stick with valet parking. It’s $12 for your entire visit at Restoration Hardware. That is an amazing deal for Chicago. Thankfully a parking attendant told us to go with the valet because otherwise we would have spent over $30 just for parking.

How long should you plan for?

Your experience at RH can be anywhere from 3 hours to half the day. Depending on how busy it is, the wait for the cafe can be up to 3 hours long, so don’t come extremely hungry.

Where should my first stop be?

So when you first come into Restoration Hardware, look for the hostess and put your name on the list immediately. They will ask for a phone number and you will be able to roam the store while your table reservation is in the waiting queue. I definitely suggest grabbing a drink and maybe a bite to keep you satisfied during the wait time. Head over to the cafe area to grab a croissant or donut. They also served wine, coffee and tea that you can take with you as you explore the store.

Tea Icecream Espresso Granite Quartz Background Small Candle- Top Instagrammable Spot in Chicago 3 Arts Cafe Restoration Hardware in Gold Coast

What to do while you wait?

Ok now you have 3 hours to wait but hopefully less than that. You definitely have time to explore the store and even book an appointment for your home needs. Toliy and I roamed the store and it was literally like a museum. People are indeed taking photos on each level and in the summer they have a rooftop that opens up to feature their patio furniture. You can either start at the 1st floor and work your way up or vice versa. Be ready to soak in all the RH vibes.

Girl on bed in Top Instagrammable Spot in a Chicago- Restoration Hardware

Give yourself time to get that perfect instagrammable shot. We took plenty of  photos in many of the rooms. You can never go wrong with looking like you are in a five star hotel or someone’s mansion.

girl drinking tea with chandeliers in background of the most instagrammable spot in Chicago 3 Arts Cafegirl drinking tea with chandeliers in background of the most instagrammable spot in Chicago 3 Arts Cafe

What to do when you run out of things to do?

You have completed your self guided tour across the store. What is next? Take a nap on one of the cloud couches. The cloud couch is extremely comfortable and a perfect way to soothe into your cafe restaurant experience. Bring a laptop and get some work done. Relax with some friends and chat.

What to expect when you are expecting…

You have waited your whole life, your whole day, and a whole THREE hours for this moment. They send you a text and let you know that the table is now ready. You will have ten minutes to get to the hostess. They have tables in the main seating area which is the most instagrammable piece of the entire venue. There is also seating in the wine cellar room just next to the main dining room but away from all of the glam. All tables are fair game so be sure to request your seating location to ensure it will meet your expectations. We ended up at a communal sofa table which was extremely comfy to relax in but a little less comfortable to eat at. If you prefer a table in the main dining room note that when getting on the waitlist.

What did we order? 

I had the RH Burger with Kale Ceaser side salad which was pretty amazing. There was a sort of crunch to the salad that still leaves me thinking about it. Toliy had the Prime Rib sandwich with fries, that he seemed to enjoy. We finished the evening with some ice cream and tea and coffee. Sometimes they have pastries left over that you can pair with tea for dessert. The entrees can be pricey depending on what you order ($$) but at the end of the day you are paying for the experience, which was phenomenal. Second time around, I would skip dessert and order a full salad. Tip: Grab a menu and decide what you want to order while you wait.

Greenery Brick Wall- Top Instagrammable Spot in Chicago 3 Arts Cafe Restoration Hardware in Gold Coast

Was it worth that wait?

Overall, it was an amazing experience. You really get a sense of exclusivity that the brand upholds. I would definitely recommend this experience 10/10. If you are planning a trip to the city of Chicago, definitely add it to your itinerary. Also dont forget to get those instagrammable shots.

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this type of post. I always love exploring new places and providing you with the scoop.

Follow me on instagram @osvcru for life updates and on @simplyoksana to be inspired. If you have not already, check out my post about how I survived being Instagram Free for Thirty Days. 

XOXO, 

O K S A N A

Instagram Free for 30 Days

THIRTY DAYS WITHOUT INSTAGRAM. WHAT?!? I know it’s crazy but it really happened. GUESS WHAT?! I survived!

The first few days I found myself checking my phone and reading the notifications I was getting. By the end of the week, I realized that no one really noticed that I was off the platform. By the end of the thirty days, I realized that I did not even care to post anymore. And that is what scared me. I had been so invested till this point. I knew the risks. In retrospect, I learned more from this period of my Instagram career than ever before. I put together some thoughts of what I learned from being away including what I had been overlooking.

girl in green dress sitting on a couch with sign saying heaven forbid

Heaven Forbid you didn’t post EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I know this can be controversial but you will understand what I mean at the end of this point. If this is your routine, go for it. If you can create amazing content and post every day, do it. When you have unlimited amounts of amazing posts to share, go for it. But if you are posting because you HAVE to, then STOP. Your audience is looking for engaged and well thought out content. Your audience is looking to see an authentic side to your feed. And if you are constantly posting just to post or constantly shoving sponsored posts in their faces, they will UNFOLLOW you.

Instagram DOES NOT fulfill you. 

It does feel great to have a great engagement. Yes, it does feel good to finally put out your creativity and get a good reaction. It does feel great to showcase your creativity. But Instagram should not be your source of happiness. I have heard this a million times these past two weeks and it is something that is completely stuck in my head. Whatever you do, just remember the feeling you get after you read this question. Ask yourself “What would you do if Instagram would have disappeared tomorrow? What would you have left?” WOW. Take a breath. This leads me to the next point. More on this topic to come but…

Instagram is not the ONLY life you live. 

Instagram is an amazing platform and frankly I love it. I met my husband through instagram. Please check out Our Love Story if you haven’t already. I have met some amazing bloggers through Instagram that I consider to be my close friends. BUT, at the end of the day, we all have a life to live outside of this platform. If you are putting so much effort into your Instagram life but neglecting your health, family, friends, personal goals and achievements then what is the point anyway?

Having a purpose and meaning outside of instagram is very vital to your well-being and it will help propel you through even the difficult seasons we face as creators and influencers. During this season, I graduated with my bachelors degree, took a cross country road trip (post to come), witnessed my brother proposed to the love of his life, visited Toliy’s 84 year old grandma, and hosted my first Bloggers Conference. 

girl with cap and gown with a smile

Taking a step back BOOSTS your creativity. 

Having an Instagram “fast” really helped me to boost my creativity. I have had more ideas, more solutions, and more opportunities in this period of my life than ever before. I  found myself thinking outside of the box more than before. I have found that new ideas come to me more often than not. I have had to THINK and REFLECT.

Multitasking DOES NOT work.

If you are like me, you like to be busy. I tend to take on more than I can handle and I use to find myself not feeling well and being stressed. Before my Instagram break, it was at the peak of Christmas time, I had decided to finish my degree and take full time classes, I had been working Full Time,  and I started planning the Chicago Bloggers First Annual Conference. To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement. I am strong but I cannot do it all. Let me rephrase that, I am strong and I can do it all but not everything at once. I want to produce quality content and I want to really engage with my audience. Frankly, if you feel stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, and beat up: you NEED a break.

Taking a break from Instagram really helped me reprioritize my life. It helped me to have a fresh perspective and get back to why I really started all of this in the first place. It helped me to just connect again with people, myself and God. I feel that taking time away whether it be a couple days, a week or two or a month can be very essential to your career and well-being. You need to be the boss of your own life and give yourself a vacation- enough said.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Please give me some feedback. Subscribe to my blog if you have not already and check out my instagram page @osvcru for more life on the daily.

P.S. I am also making a new Instagram page called @simplyoksana. It will be a very niche page where you can come to feel encouraged, feel the love and positivity. I would love if you gave me a follow before I launch it this spring.

Thank you,

Fall in Chicago: To Do List

It’s FALL!!! The best season of all, am I right? I enjoy the Fall beyond what words can express. I was born in the fall, got married in the Fall- could it be any better? I put together a list of things to do this Fall Season. I know I should not say this but Winter will be here before you know, so get ready and start enjoying the Fall.

Click any of the links to give you a list of places you can visit in Chicago 🙂

1.) Visit a Pumpkin Patch–  I love the whole vibe of a pumpkin patch. It is really special especially with friends and family and one of my favorite patches is Goebbert’s Farm. Last year I rode the camel and fed a girafe- I mean how awesome is that? Also, the food there is always so good especially the corn and apple cider donuts.


2.) Go to an Apple Orchard – This is a great family outing, that comes with some goodies. If you love apples more than anything, then this is the perfect place. Make sure to check the picking schedule to ensure you will be picking your favorite apples when you visit the orchard.

3.) Plan an adventure to a Corn Maze–  This is something that has been on my list and I finally went. Dress up and bring along some friends for a bonding day in the corn maze. There is an amazing one in Illinois that is adult size! Richardson’s Adventure Farm boasts to have the world’s largest corn maze and each year they have a very unique design made (pictured below). This year they are celebrating Illinois’ bicentennial year and have designed the maze all Illinois themed, featuring the Lincoln Maze- which we took. They have mazes ranging from 0.5 mile to 4+ miles and also a quiz maze. If you plan to stay the whole day, they have a lot food options throughout the park, pig races, and you can reserve a campfire sit for the evening.

4.) See the beautiful foliage- The leaves are falling and that is the representation of FALL right? So you better get out to some beautiful parks and see it for yourself. I have put together a perfect list of locations for this season: Cindy’s Rooftop for a small bite and beautiful view, stroll through Morton Arboretum, the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Thanks for stopping by! As always, remember to follow me on Instagram @osvcru to stay posted with all the Fall Fun and Fashion I have coming up.

XOXO

OKSANA 🙂

Products: Favorites from September

It is a new month and I have a new list of my favorite products for you! It is pretty much one month away from my birthday and I could not be more excited for this beautiful Fall Season. Keep reading to see the products I have been using on repeat this past month.

Magnesium Lotion by Ancient Minerals-

Studies show that most Americans have magnesium deficient diets, with one in five getting less than half the RDA for magnesium in their daily diets (1). With that being said,  I love to apply this lotion to the back of my head and sometimes my forehead (when experiencing headaches). It helps to relieve tension in my muscles and absorbs quite fast. I use the Ancient Minerals Magnesium Lotion Goodnight which is great to put on before sleep because it also contains Melatonin.

Why Ancient Minerals?

Did you know that there is a difference between Magnesium Bath Flakes and Epsom Salts? Magnesium Bath Flakes are made from Magnesium Chloride. Epsom Salts are made from Magnesium Sulfate. Although both do have elements of Magnesium, the Magnesium Chloride is best to use because it can absorb easily and perfect to use topically.

Magnesium chloride is the best choice because of its clinical and pharmacological effects, and its lower tissue toxicity as compared to magnesium sulfate. Magnesium chloride is more easily assimilated, and therefore more bio available or absorbed and utilized by the body. Whereas magnesium sulfate is not as easily absorbed and utilized in the body. Magnesium sulfate is also more rapidly excreted through the kidneys than magnesium chloride, which explains why results don’t last long, and more amounts are needed for desired effects (2).

Ancient Minerals also sell Ancient Minerals Magnesium Bath Flakes as one of their products, if you are into baths. I love taking baths with their salts as well, but with a busy lifestyle- I love having the lotion on hand.

Regular Magnesium Lotion

Ultra Magnesium Lotion

Andalou Naturals Meyer Lemon + C Creamy Cleanser

I was literally so happy when I found out about this brand. When researching for a new skin care line that not only included clean ingredients but was also NON-GMO I came across Andalou Naturals products.  The source of each of their ingredients is listed on their website, proving that all their ingredients come from the best source possible.

The line of products they carry literally have something for everyone. I really love the Vitamin C Cleanser. I feel as it revives my skin and does not drain my skin of moisture. It is perfect to use in the morning or evening to remove light to medium makeup.

This creamy cleanser is great for normal to combination skin. It contains a fruit stem cell complex, vitamin C, and manuka honey which is rich in enzymes and antioxidants. It gently sweeps the impurities and leaves a luminous complexion.

Where can you buy it? It can be found at Whole Foods or you can buy it on Amazon

IT COSMETICS Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream with SPF 50+

This has been my go-to foundation for awhile now and for good reason. It is effective, efficient, and easy to use. It contain seven products in one:

  • Full-coverage foundation
  • SPF 50+ UVA/UVB broad-spectrum physical sunscreen
  • Brightening color corrector
  • Hydrating anti-aging serum
  • Poreless finish primer
  • Dark spot concealer
  • Moisturizing day cream

The best part is that the makeup comes in a squeeze tube with a pump, ensuring all the foundation gets out of the tube and you get the most for your investment.

It is very easy to use, perfect for a busy lifestyle or a mom on the go. I use a wonderful blender brush, find similar here. Then quickly blend it over my entire face and blend out to the neck. I love that is quick to use on the go and does not require much effort to provide a balanced look. It keeps my skin hydrated and always washes off well at the end of the night.

Get it at Ulta

References

  1. King DE, Mainous AG 3rd, Geesey ME, Woolson RF. Dietary magnesium and C-reactive protein levels. Journal Of The American College Of Nutrition. 2005 Jun;24(3):166-71. Available from: MEDLINE with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 6, 2009.
  2. Durlach, J., Guiet-Bara, A., Pages, N., Bac, P., and Bara, M. (2005). Magnesium chloride or magnesium sulfate: a genuine question. Magnesium Resarch 18 (3) 187-92

How much can you make as an influencer on Instagram?

Do you ever wonder, how much you can make as an influencer on Instagram? Are you on the fence of diving into the influencer world, just curious or very new to the influencer scene. I have consolidated a few resources that will help determine what your rate is. Use the principles in this blog to determine what your rate could grow to be.

A basic rule of thumb is one cent per follower. This is the very base pay for a sponsored post but it definitely should really be a base. For example, if you have 1,000 followers, you should be starting at $10 per post, 5,000 followers equates to $50 per post, 10,000 followers equates to $100 per post and 100,000 followers equates to $1,000 per post. Yes, you can really get paid upwards $1,000 for one single photo. Although that seems like it is a lot there is a lot of behind the scenes to create one single photo, writing the caption alone can take up to 2 hours. Consider the cost for photographers, props, time to take the photo, editing, and any other post production activities.

The next valuable guideline is your engagement rate. If this is the first time you have heard that term, your engagement rate is basically the amount of comments and likes that you get on your post based on a ratio between your following. Suprinsgly there are two ways to calculate this engagement rate:

Option 1 Engagement/Followers: Likes + Comments / Followers * 100

This option puts a higher emphasis on your follower count and this is the standard way to calculate your engagement rate.

Option 2 Engagement/Impressions: Likes + Comments / Impressions *100

So in both scenarios you would take the average likes and comments and divide that over the impressions or followers and multiply by 100.

Lets say your posts were typically receiving 200 likes, 10 comments and you have 2,000 followers, your engagement rate would equate to: 200 +  10 = 210 / 2,000 = .105 * 100 = 10.5 % is your engagement percentage based on your follower count.

Why is this important? The higher your engagement rate, the more likely a brand will want to work with you and the higher your rate may be. You are essentially able to reach a larger audience and be able to actual make an impact on your followers.

Tip: Never engage in pods, use bots or apps to get more likes or comments. This is very wrong to do morally but also ruins your engagement rate in the long term. This is also very obvious to companies and you may be put on a “Do Not Work With” list if you engage in dishonest activity.

Use this calculator quickly calculate what your rate should be. This calculator takes into account your engagement rate and also your base cost of a post and provides you a range to calculate your own rate.

Please visit my recent blog post 5 Ways Strategic Way to Make Money as an influencer.

5 Blog Strategies to Make Money

There are five strategies that blogs use to make money: Advertisements, Affiliate Programs, Sponsored Posts, Services and Products. Many bloggers start with ads since this is a very simple approach to bring in money. Sponsored posts come somewhat later, when a blog has built up a decent audience. Combining a few of these strategies can help you earn a full time income as a blogger. 

Advertisements

Ads are the most popular strategy to creating an income. Ads can be distracting to your audience and the amount of money per ad will be determined by your page views. When your page views are relatively high, you can begin making a decent profit off Ads. Once you have reached a higher view count for your blog, you will be able to apply to Advertisement management companies. These management companies will have higher rates per Ads that you can sell your page space to. This strategy is useful for the long term but it will not make you a lot of money when you start your blog. It will grow as your blog gains traction but that may take some time. 

Tip: Do not overwhelm your audience with Ads. I would suggest one Ad within your blog and one at the end. You can also add an Ad in a sidebar so that it is not as distracting. The con of adding an Ad to your sidebar means that it will not be seen as often unless the reader will be on a desktop reading your blog. 

Affiliate Programs

Affiliate Programs are perfect for bloggers that are just starting out in this space.  So many companies have affiliate programs and it is simple to find companies that align with your niche and values. Once you have set up your affiliate programs, these links can be integrated with any of your posts. Every time somebody purchases the product by going through your link, you receive a commission. There is a range between the commissions rate that you can make for certain programs. Making a full-time income off affiliate programs is very attainable. This is a very strategic way to earn money with your blog as long as it aligns with your niche. 

Tip: Research the affiliate programs you choose to be apart of. If the company does not meet your niche and your standards, do not choose to be apart of their affiliate program. As a new blogger, it might be enticing to join certain affiliate programs due to the commission levels but just because they are offering commission for your referral does not automatically qualify this company to be part of your endorsement list. 

Supported Posts

Similar to Ads, Sponsored Posts will make you more as you gain more traction. Many bloggers also have social media presence in order to obtain a higher engagement to their blog site. When you are offered your first sponsored post, make sure your values align with the product and service that you are promoting. Use the below formula to determine what kind of rates you could charge for sponsored blog posts. 

((TOTAL PAGEVIEWS/10,000)*100) + ((TOTAL SOCIAL/10,000)*100) = STANDARD BLOG POST RATE

((50,000/10,000)*100) + ((50,000/10,000)*100) = $1,000

Double this rate and then work from there. Always aim high and negotiate!

Tip: Do you have any dream sponsorships? Write out a list of companies that you would like to work with. Separate them by would be cool to work with this company and would be amazing to work with this company and why. This will help you direct the energy to working towards those companies and help you make decisions when brands start reaching out. 

Services

When you begin your blog, you can start by showcasing work that you have done in the past or services that you can offer to your potential clients. I suggest these are services related to your niche. Review the below list to catch some ideas of services that you might want to offer to your audience: 

SEO Services, Email Management, Calendar Management, Customer Service (email or phone), Content Creation, Email Newsletters, Video Editing, Sales Funnels, Facebook Ads, Graphic Design, Web Design, Social Media Management, Virtual Assistant, Photo Editing, Business Consulting, Educational Bootcamp, and etc. 

Product

This ties in to the above. Not only can you sell a service, you can also sell a product.  Consider creating or selling a product that you find is helpful and will serve a purpose to your audience and within your niche.  

Here are some ideas of products that you can sell: Ebook, Online Course, Printables, Custom Product, and more.