I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but up till this month, I’ve never monetized this blog. I’ve successfully ignored the dozens of spam-emails and blog comments I get from people trying to help me make money off my blog. I’m not opposed to doing it and honestly, at some point it might make sense for me. If I happened to get any sponsors from brands or anything I’d certainly change this policy (and let my readers know!). In early September I turned on WordPress’s option to show paid ads, but that’s all I’ve got so far.
There are two reasons why I don’t really bother trying to make money on this site:
- This blog is a place for me to share, not a revenue stream and therefore trying to make money is more effort than I care to put into it
- Government contract employees (like I was when working in Antarctica) are forbidden from making money on the side because of their work while actively employed
That latter one means I’d have to go and take down all my money-making efforts if I ever get re-hired as a government contract employee. I’d have to get approval for posts and clarifications about the rules for past posts. At least the WordPress option is an easy switch to off!
This is a long-winded way of saying that I, in no way, am getting compensated for letting you know of all the below brands that I found and have fallen in love with.
Snow Boots – Sorel
I have their Joan of Arctic boot and it’s what I wore anytime I needed my snow boots in Antarctica. It’s a little overkill for those days when there are only 2-3 inches of snow in Ohio so I’ll probably also grab another pair like:
Rain Boots – Le Chameau
I have their Vierzon Jersey Lined Boots. Sigil turned me on to these after we all attended FrostBurn together and she was the only one with dry feet after a hike to the port-o-potties. The best place to buy them in Cincinnati that I’ve found is Delamere and Hopkins who also graciously exchanged a 6-month old pair for me when the buckle needed replacing!
Inverter Generators – Honda or Predator 2000
I was first turned on to these options when tailgating at a Cincinnati Bengals game. The lads next to us had one of these running their speakers. From 10′ away, with the music pumped up, I could not hear the generator running! I was in love.
Sigil, my research queen, and I quickly took to the internet. What we found is that the Honda, which is what our neighbors used, was freaking fantastic. However, the price point ($1100) wasn’t feasible for our baby budgets. The internet provided an alternative; Harbor Freight is known to buy amazing things, take them apart, and put them back together. That’s what they did here to create the Predator. Here’s a chart from the Harbor Freight website:
From what the internet has told me, if you need the generator to run emergency sleep-apnea equipment or as a daily device then you should buy the Honda. If you’re pulling the generator out for a weekend event here and there, buy the Predator. It’s a measly $500 and there are always sales and coupons you can use at Harbor Freight. I ended up only paying $387 for mine.
If 2000 Watts isn’t enough for you, there are larger models of each OR you can buy a “parellel kit” and hook two of them together! I’ve also seen a few people convert a gas can so it can be hooked to the side so you don’t have to go refill it every 6-8 hours.
This thing has kept up for me for a few years now and I love it. I recommend it to everyone.
Coolers – Orca
We’ve all seen memes of people willing to drop $300 on a Yeti cooler. Orcas frequently are on sale or lower on places like Amazon. Prices change and I think Yeti has come down some since I purchased my Orcas, but at that time a 26-quart Orca was about half the price of the Yeti 35 which is 29-quarts. Yes, please, I’d love to save $150 and only lose 3 quarts of space!
They both are bear-proof with the right lock attached. Orca, however, time and time again in tons and tons of YouTube videos simply keeps the ice colder. Plus, it comes with a cool net pouch on the back in which to toss stuff. They are also made 100% in the US, which is kinda cool, and come with a lifetime warranty unlike the Yeti 5-year. Here and here are some other people that made comparisons.
Plus, their closures are adorable whale tales. Come on. Beat that, Yeti.
Makeup Remover Wipes – Ponds
This one took years of shitty face wipes to find one that made me feel super refreshed and clean and not sticky. I can thank Sigil for turning me on to these. I like the blue ones because they wake me up and give me that clean, refreshed face in the morning and because, frankly, they are on sale more often. Sigil prefers their purple ones because they have a more soothing/calming effect.
This is where I really should put in Amazon Affiliate links or something. Maybe someday…
Baby Wipes – Huggies Green Tea and Cucumber
Speaking of sticky, this is another discovery that I have to thank Sigil for. She purchased one of every type of baby wipe she could get her grubby camping hands on and tested them out for us. These are definitely the winners. No sticky residue, no weird scents that go rotten over the day, and nothing left behind but a refreshed body. The. Best. These baby wipes go camping with me every time.
Gasoline and Road Trip Bathroom Breaks – Speedway
In a land void of all Sheetz, Speedway is my next best option. During my freshman year of college I did an “intense” study of all the local gas stations by tracking my mileage and other stats about their options. Speedway not only gave the best vehicle performance (Shell was the worst, by the way), they also were the most consistent franchise locations. Each one offered clean bathrooms whereas others were hit-and-miss. They also have the best selection of consumable products and the cheapest quick-car-fixes such as power steering fluid and oil. Plus, Speedy Rewards means I earn $50 gift cards all the time, and I don’t see that happening with the others!
Hiking Pants – Fjällräven
With our Norway trip approaching fast I had a panic moment when I discovered my favorite hiking pants up to that point (my Mammut Traleika Soft-Shell Pants) didn’t fit anymore. A quick run to Roads Rivers and Trails in Milford, Ohio led me to spending double what I had planned on a new pair of pants because I fell in love.
A sturdy pair of trekking trousers should never slow you down in the Great Outdoors. In fact, Fjällräven believes trousers should adapt to terrain as well as you do. Enter the Nikka Trousers, technical trekking trousers with an attractive fit, made with stretch and G-1000 fabric for high mobility and durability. Featuring pre-shaped, reinforced rear/knees, an extra piece of fabric in the crotch to decrease chaffing, multiple pockets for GPS/mobile phones and strategic stretch panels for climbing — the Nikka Trousers are intended for trekking and climbing when nothing should stand in your way.
I knew I loved the pants, but then Sigil and I found a Fjällräven shop in Norway and walked around it. Now? I love the whole brand. My next daypack/rock climbing trip bag will definitely be from them.
Hiking Shoes – Lowa
I first bought a pair of Vasque boots and was miserable. They just aren’t the right fit for my footshape. I made a switch (THANK YOU REI RETURN POLICY) to the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot and I’ll never look back. These things are soliddddd. I’ve worn them at least once a year for 5 years now and they still look and act brand-new. There was no break-in period and they’ve never once given me a blister!
Device Wraps – SlickWraps
To be fair (to be Faiiiiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr) I only have ever used this brand so I haven’t looked at competitors. That being said, I was incredibly impressed with how easily these fit on my devices and how seemless their installation was. They are handmade in Wichita, Kansas which is neat. People constantly ask me about my “custom” leather Google Home or my purple router.
They make wrap protectors for phones, tablets, computers, gaming systems, wearables, and other neat stuff. They have them for many Apple accessories, Alexas, Google Homes, boosted boards, drones, GoPros, credit cards, and even things like Hydro Flask water bottles and the keys for your Tesla. I own a leather wrap for my Google Home which was only like $20 and a normal $15 Color Series skin for my Google WiFi router. Both are phenomenal.
You can choose one of their stock wraps (neat designs, wood, leather, textures, etc). I don’t own a Nintendo Switch but if I did I’d probably get one of their four NES/Famicon wraps for it. Alternatively you can even upload your own images and preview them right on the website.
I’m sheerly impressed by the range of phones they cover. They have Apple, Samsung, Google, LG, OnePlus, HTC, Huawei, Razer, Xiaomi, Motorola, Nokia, Sony, and some Alcatel, Asus, Blackberry etc models. Finding accessories for an iPhone or Galaxy is easy but the market for Pixel and others just isn’t as big so I was super happy. The only reason I haven’t ordered one yet is because I’m not sure which I want!.
Practical Corsets – Damsel in this Dress
Disclaimer: I work for this company on occasion but I was a customer before I was an employee!
Michelle’s corsets are simply the best for durability. They are made out of upholstery fabrics so they can take a beating (or a LARP sword!) and can be washed pretty easily. She also uses super-quality materials like airline-grade grommets and fiberglass rods down the stomach that are guaranteed to never bend or get misshapen.
She also makes it a point to carry ALL the pretty fabrics in all the sizes! That means plus sized and super-plus-sized women still get all the fancy colors and aren’t limited to basics. I can’t tell you how many time people have told me walking past our booth “oh, you won’t have anything that fits me” only to come in and find 20+ styles I can wrap around their torso. I’ve never had a single woman who was “too big” for our corsets.
Everything is hand-made in her garage in Utah by mostly family members and close friends. Michelle once told me that she allows the neighborhood teenagers to earn a few bucks for dates and hobbies by tagging things and cutting ribbon for her. It’s a seriously close-knit group of amazing humans. That does mean that while we’re on the road at multiple shows the website stock can get pretty low – but keep checking back! She tries to post more under the “Hourglass” category every Thursday.
Waist-Reducing Corsets – Ties that Bynde
Even though I love Damsel in this Dress, I totally recognize that it’s not always the right aesthetic for the look. That’s why I also own multiple corsets from Ties that Bynde! It’s best to catch her at a convention and purchase in person, though I think she does have a website. Her social media hasn’t been updated in a while, but I promise she’s still active! I’ve seen her at multiple conventions in the last year.
I can get my waist ridiculously tiny AND still be comfortable in her pieces! I can’t wear them as many hours in a row as my Damsels, but Ties that Bynde corsets hug my ribcage ever-so-perfectly and don’t pinch my hips!
Moccasins and Faerie Boots – TreadLight
It is with resistance that I recommend TreadLight here to you for boots.
The quality of their products is amazing. I own 5 pairs of TreadLight boots. Someone who doesn’t believe in the product would never have tossed that much money at this company (we’re looking at about $1,500 altogether in those pairs). I own a pair each of:
- Mid-Calf Evolution Boots in some awesome fall colors (mine actually are a little taller than these but the height I bought isn’t currently in production)
- Indie Boots in brown with leather leaves on the back “tucked under” the strap
- Chukkas in black with a hand-etched snail on one toe and mushrooms on the backs
- Soccasins in a gorgeous redwood color
- Moira Sandals (these I was given as a gift from Manna)
- Small Leather Leaf Forest Purse (also a gift from Manna)
If you’re looking for a badass pair of shoes that are going to last you for freaking ever, these things rock. She only uses beef hides that come from the US beef industry and her processing plant uses the same technology we used in Antarctica to recycle their water once done so it’s basically just river water again and can be released safely. She has an option to use Vibram soles (which I recommend) and she offers to resole at as low cost if they ever need it. On more expensive pieces she also will take payment plans on your own schedule which is kinda neat.
I personally watched a Native American tribal elder who leads their community celebrations come to her booth to purchase his moccasins. If that’s not a great testimonial, I don’t know what is!
That being said, I have some personal issues with how the owner, who goes by Manna, runs her business. I worked for her for a month in May before quitting and returning my loyalties to Damsel in this Dress. Manna refused to pay Sigil for hours she’d already worked at a previously-agreed upon rate. That’s not okay. I also don’t like that she rambles on about health benefits her shoes offer (apparently they allow you to soak up probiotics from the earth?!?!). This is both illegal and not a substantial claim. There are other issues I’d be glad to ramble on to you about in person sometime over a glass of wine if you’re interested.
(post image mine, taken by the lovely lady on the left)