How to Use Pinterest for Self Improvement


I am a BIG fan of Pinterest. The amount of ways in which we are able to use Pinterest is astonishing. We can plan our dream wedding, decorate our homes, cook like a gourmet chef, workout like a personal trainer, and get inspired from voices all around the world. Individuals like to utilize Pinterest in different ways and for different purposes, real or imagined. I primarily use the social media platform for one purpose: self-improvement. It may sound straight forward, but there are ten things you should do in order to use Pinterest to your best advantage.

1. Simplify

Decide what is really important to you.  Think hard about your goals and create boards accordingly. Try not to pin things that are not useful or that you won’t refer back to. When you are creating boards, keep their names simple and be sure they describe their content. Keep your profile clean and concise; more than 20 boards is probably overkill.

2. Pin with a Purpose

Browse Pinterest with a purpose in mind. Often I am searching for meals to cook for the week ahead, or looking for a workout to do that night. While mindlessly scrolling through the app and pinning randomly does sound fun, it is unnecessary. Chances are you won’t use those pins later, and you just wasted valuable time that you could have spent on something else more productive (even if it is a midday nap).

3. Delete Often

Every once in awhile, browse your boards for old material that isn’t useful to you anymore. You may have cooked the recipe a few times already and remember the instructions, or simply don’t have the desire to complete that particular project any longer. Delete these items. Cleaning out your boards will help you assess your previous goals and create new ones.

4. No Fear

Don’t want people to know that you’re trying to lose weight?  Did you know there is a way to keep boards secret on Pinterest? When you are creating a board, simply click “keep board secret.” If you have a board you already created and would like to make it secret, click the edit button and “keep board secret.”  No one except for you will be able to see that this board exists. So pin, pin away! Fear is not an option.

5. Get Inspired

Create an inspiration board full of whatever motivates and inspires you. Mine is called “mind, body, spirit” and is full of inspirational quotes and articles to get me going when I feel discouraged. Open this board up whenever you need a reminder that you can accomplish anything. It can be uplifting on those days when you feel like you’re failing.

6. Dream Big

Make boards for countries you want to visit, crazy adventures you want to take, and large projects you never thought you could do on your own. Putting these big ideas on the screen can make them seem more concrete and you may be more likely to do them.

7. Collaborate

Did you know that you could add collaborators to boards that you create? I made my husband a collaborator on some of my boards so that we can make and accomplish goals together. Collaborating with someone can also hold you accountable for the goals you want to reach. If someone close to you knows what you are working towards, they can encourage you and remind you to keep going.

8. Join Group Boards

This is like collaborating with strangers. Search for boards that interest you that have many collaborators. If it is open to join, there will be instructions at the top of the board on how to do so. This is an easy way to see pins from like-minded Pinners and keep you on top of your goals.

9. Venture Beyond Pinterest

In our pinning frenzies, it’s easy to forget that Pinterest isn’t the only place to find pins. You can pin literally ANYTHING on the web. If Chrome is your browser of choice, get the browser button, which can be easily added in a few minutes. After you have this, just hover over any picture on the web and the red “P” will appear. If you wish to pin a whole web URL, just press the browser button on your Chrome toolbar.

10. Take Action

It doesn’t help to set goals and get inspired if you don’t take action. Do that workout, redecorate that living room, cook that gourmet French recipe. One of the reasons I am such a big fan of Pinterest is because it encourages growth, exploration, and most importantly, trying new things. Think of it as an online catalog of you and what your future could look like. Dream big!

Check out Sage Advice on Pinterest, or my profile, Jessi Martin, to see how I organize my boards!


How to Make Your Bedroom Cozy and Relaxing


In our mission to make our homes as cute and cozy as can be for ourselves and visitors, too often our bedrooms get neglected in this endeavor. It’s easy to choose not to enhance our bedroom, after all, who is going to see it besides us? As an advocate for relaxing, rewinding, and rejuvenating, I strongly believe that our bedrooms should be our safe haven. The environment we live in has an incredible influence on our mental and physical health, which is a post for another day. In this post, I hope to share some insight into how I made my bedroom a peaceful hideaway in six easy steps.

1. Declutter

The first step to making any room a comforting environment is to get rid of the unnecessary excess that you have accumulated. This is one of the core principles of minimalism, a method of design in which the least amount of materials possible are utilized in a room. The basic idea is that the less baggage you have around your home, the less stress you will have in your personal life. Clearing our room of objects that we don’t use can give us a new clarity and make it easier to rest at night.

2. Get Rid of Technology

For example, it is almost impossible to experience your bedroom as a tranquil hideaway with technology at your fingertips. Remove any cell phones, chargers, computers, tablets, and televisions from the bedroom. Wondering what else to throw out? Here are some parameters: if you do not use it and/or it is not beautiful- then get rid of it.

3. Add a Splash of Color

Beige or gray walls won’t cut it in your peaceful bedroom hideaway. Choose pastel-like paint colors in shades of blue, green, or lavender. Avoid harsh or dark colors like red or orange. If you cannot paint your walls, consider creating a feature wall by hanging a tapestry, lights, a photo gallery, or removable wallpaper like this adorable pattern from Walls Need Love. Rugs are also a great way to introduce other colors, patterns, and textures to your space.

4. Don’t Skimp on Comfort

Fluff the place up! Add curtains, soft throws, varying sizes of pillows, or an old armchair. Make sure your mattress is one you cannot wait to jump in to at night.  Hang a soft robe on the back of your door. Use scented candles or an oil diffuser to provide aromatherapy. Make sure you have the option to dim the lights, which may mean purchasing string lights or a small lamp.

5. Actually Relax

Reserve your bedroom for quiet time. Keep adult coloring pages, good books, a yoga mat, essential oils, and any other equipment you use to relax close by. Don’t conduct work, pay bills, or deal with stress in the bedroom. This is a safe space to relax and temporarily free yourself from worry.

6. Add Some Life to the Room

If you want to truly add positive energy to your bedroom, add something living in to the mix. In my case, I have a succulent next to my window, a myriad of crystals, and there is usually a Shiba Inu named Nirvana lounging on my bed. Consider getting a plant that cleanses the air and requires minimal maintenance, like Aloe Vera. Healing crystals like quartz and amethyst can help project positive energy in to your space as well.




Healthy Grocery Shopping on a Budget


Remember when grocery shopping was the most exciting thing ever as a child? The endless amount of people and things to be seen, the possibility of candy or gum in the checkout line…that excitement didn’t last long. After only four years of having to brave the grocery store, I started to DESPISE shopping for food. It’s expensive, confusing, and time-consuming. BUT, over the years, I have crafted a way to dispel the more confusing aspects, cut expenses, and buy healthier (unfortunately, it is still very time-consuming).

1. Price Match

This is the best way to save money on groceries. Some grocery stores will match the prices of their competitors, which can save you big if you combine each store’s sales. Pricematcherz is a site that lists stores in each city and their sale prices for the week (not all states are included). Simply go down the list, writing down food items that you plan to buy, their prices, and which store is offering the deal. If you shop at Walmart, simply keep these items together when checking out and tell the cashier they are price matchers. The cashier will ask you for the price of each item, and may double check the ad from the corresponding store. Other grocery stores may have a more complicated process, like requiring that you bring the advertisement with you. Some stores don’t allow price matching at all. Call your regular store to find out their price matching policy. If you can do it, it is worth it! I often have an estimated savings of about $10-15 on a $100 grocery bill.

2. Print Coupons

This is a pretty well known tool for saving money on groceries. Not many shoppers know that they can print out coupons from online, however. My favorite website for this is Scroll through the coupons, clicking ones that you want to clip. When you’re done, just click the print button. Cut them out and put them at the end of the conveyor belt when checking out at the store. The cashier will scan them, and you can count the savings! I usually save about $8 with coupons on a $100 grocery bill.

3. Use Ibotta

Ibotta is an amazing app for your phone that helps you rack up serious money just for buying groceries. It only takes a few seconds to sign up. Use my referral code vmgcvvg to get a free $10 when you verify your first rebate! Before you go shopping, browse through Ibotta to see if there are any items you wish to buy or already planned on buying. After you purchase those items at the store, unlock their rebates on the app. After you’ve unlocked them, press verify rebates and you will be prompted to scan your barcodes and then take a picture or scan the QR code on your receipt. The money will show up on your app within an hour. After you’ve saved $25, you can choose to transfer the amount to your PayPal or redeem a large variety of gift cards. It doesn’t take long to save that amount; I already have a lifetime savings of over $150 on Ibotta! Usually, the price matchers, coupons, and Ibotta deals match up because the company is promoting on each all at once, and you can get some products for a great price! For example, a 12 ct pack of Charmin toilet paper is on price matchers for $5.99, combined with my Charmin coupon for $1.00 off, and an Ibotta offer for $0.50 , so I really only spent 4.50 on a pack that typically costs $9.00.

4. Meal Plan and Make Lists

This is the easiest way to ensure that you aren’t walking through the store like a zombie, staggering around in a daze and wondering what to feed your family. It will also keep you from making unhealthy choices if you can stick to the list. First, I go through my fridge, freezer, cabinets, pantry, and bathroom to see what kind of basic things I need to get. After putting those on the list, I browse Pricematcherz, print my coupons, and look through Ibotta, writing down grocery items as I go. From those items, I will come up with meals and snacks for the week from both brainstorming and browsing Pinterest, writing down additional items I will need along the way. It is easier to check out quickly if you use a highlighter to mark what is a price matcher on your list. I will write a more detailed post on meal planning and meal prepping in the future, since it can be a pretty difficult thing to get in the rhythm of.

5. Use the Carry-Out Option to Get Groceries

This option doesn’t allow you to cut costs by using price matching and coupons, but it can still save you time and help you to eat healthier. Some stores allow you to order your groceries online and select a time to pick them up or for them to be delivered. At my local HyVee, the fee for pick up on grocery orders under $100 is only $2.95, while orders over $100 can be picked up for free. By ordering your groceries online, you skip the temptation to impulsively pull junk food off the shelves, and save your health and your wallet by doing so (not to mention the hour long nightmare that is grocery shopping).

Restorative Yoga to Strengthen Your Spirit


Most everyone knows that yoga is good exercise. It can increase flexibility, balance, stamina, and strength. What some don’t realize, however, is the effects yoga can have on the mind. Some of these effects could include increased confidence, self-esteem, clarity in making decisions, increased motivation, and a sense of peace within yourself. These are just some the ways in which yoga strengthens our spirits (while getting a good workout in!).

So how can we better capitalize on yoga’s natural ability to strengthen our spirits? Lucky for you, I’ve used my brainstorming power to find out some simple ways to do it. Here are four:

1. Power Yoga

Try taking a class or looking up some YouTube videos on Power Yoga. This type of yoga practice seeks to pull out one’s innermost strength through powerful poses and body movements. If you are feeling inadequate in some aspect of life, or too weak to handle a problem or conflict, Power Yoga might be just the remedy. Power Yoga works from the heart, washing the blood throughout the body through vigorous exercise and muscle-testing poses. In that respect, this form of yoga may not be for beginners. However, if you are experienced at yoga or are confident enough to give it a try, I highly recommend it.

2. Combine with Meditation

This is very important. It may even be accurate to say that without meditation, yoga is simply exercise for the body, and not the spirit. Try a relaxation yoga class or video. Before you begin a routine, set an intention for what you wish to get out of it. This can be anything from being more connected to the Universe, to receiving clarity about an important decision, to simply improving your mood. Also, research potential mantras to recite as you complete your yoga routine, or make up your own. This will keep you focused on the benefits you are seeking from your yoga practice.

3. Research Yoga’s History

Yoga has become so mainstream in the fitness culture that many don’t know the origins of the practice. If you practice yoga, but don’t know very much about how it came to be, it may be a good idea to do some research. In addition to building your appreciation for yoga, it will make you more conscious of the meaning behind it during your routine. Check out Yoga Journal for a good beginner’s guide to the history of yoga, along with other yoga-related tutorials.

4. Practice Daily

To truly reap the spirit-strengthening benefits of yoga, practice daily. The best time to do this is right after waking in the morning, or in the evening when getting ready for bed. Try doing energizing yoga in the morning with a full glass of cucumber or lemon infused water. If you start the day with good vibrations, the rest of the day will fall into place. Use the evening yoga to relax and reflect on your day. This can be done in combination with meditation and a mug of chamomile or other herbal tea. Evening yoga will set the tone for a good night’s sleep and ensure your spirit will be glowing and refreshed when the sun rises.

Here is a bedtime yoga video to try:

Treat Writer’s Block in 5 Steps



Writer’s block: a dreaded, unavoidable phenomenon of the writing world.


Luckily, through many years of enduring writer’s block myself, I have come up with five unorthodox ways to get myself out of the frustrating rut of not being able to find the right words.

1. Bath crayons

As odd as it may sound, trust me, these are a life saver. If you’re anything like me, in the shower is where inspiration strikes the most. Anytime an idea comes to  you, just jot it down on the wall. It will be easily erased later with water. Try these bath crayons from Munchkin, or for those do-it-yourself people, try these non-toxic ones from Mama Instincts.

2. View art

If you find yourself unable to generate ideas, try viewing some art. One of my best fiction pieces centers entirely around this picture. Take a trip to the local art museum or check out some pieces from aspiring artists on Beauty can be the ultimate writing inspiration if you let it.

3. Clean up your work space

Did you know that the cleanliness of your work space can affect the quality of your work? Sometimes clutter in our physical environment can result in clutter in our minds. Keep only the essentials on your desk  and be sure that the room is clean and organized. Check out these 10 tips on optimizing your work space from Time Management Ninja.

4. Write about not knowing what to write about

This may not be your best work, but it will get you warmed up for the real thing. At the least it will get the idea of having writer’s block out of your mind and allow you to move past the psychological notion of being “stuck.”


5. Brainstorm

Set a timer for two minutes. On a piece of paper, write every random thought, word, or topic that comes to your mind. If an idea hasn’t come to you after the two minutes, look through your list and pick one item. Free-write about it for ten minutes. This process is very simple, but very effective as well.

If you find yourself stuck in the never ending cycle of writer’s block, utilize these five tips. The outcome might amaze you.

Good luck and happy creating!