THE BENEFITS OF LEATHER LAPTOP BAGS

For more than 10 years, we’ve been perfecting the craft of smart and durable design so you can focus on work, family and the future. That's why we've chosen top grain leather for many of our laptop handbags.

Leather provides a number of benefits.

Look

Leather looks great. It's fashionable for a night out on the town, while still fitting in well in more formal or corporate settings. 

Flexibility

Morrison 14.4"

Morrison 14.4"

Leather is sturdy, yet not too stiff. Clark & Mayfield bags stand upright on their own and hold their shape. But the leather exterior allows some give and take. This is helpful when the bag needs to squeeze into a small space or needs to be stuffed full from time to time.

Protection

Leather is one of the most hard-wearing materials. It is resistant to water as well as to excess scuffing. While the texture of a leather bag can spoil if it comes in contact with too much water, you can be sure that your laptop inside will avoid water damage. Our bags also come with padded laptop sleeves and durable handles, which can easily support the weight of a computer and other accessories.

For more great leather laptop and tablet handbags: SHOP NOW >

Top 5 Things to Do in Portland in the Summer

 

At Clark & Mayfield, we're proud to call Portland, Oregon our home. (We even name our handbags after the streets and neighborhoods here!) Summer is arguably the best time to visit Portland. The days are long and warm, and all that rain leaves behind a lush, green wonderland.

If you have a chance to visit Portland in the summer, here are 5 things we think should be on the top of your to do list:

Urban Hiking: Council Crest

The vista point at Council Crest Park is the perfect place to be on a clear day. Hike up through the forest on dirt trails, or wind around on the paved sidewalk. Overlooking downtown Portland with views of 5 iconic mountains in the distance, this urban hike is a Portland classic.

Scoop Up Local Flavors: Salt & Straw Ice Cream

salt and straw

The Salt & Straw Ice Cream is so popular it Portland, it draws lines that circle the block. Waiting in line and sampling the quirky flavors is all part of the experience. Grab a staple flavor - like Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Honey Lavender, Pear &  Blue Cheese - or order something off the rotating seasonal menu, featuring more unique combinations of local ingredients.

The shops are also located in some of Portland's most trendy and charming neighborhoods, so be sure to take some time to explore! Locations include:

  • 38 NW 23rd Ave. 
  • 3345 SE Division St. 
  • 2035 NE Alberta St. 

Events & Festivals

2WBF060707

Portland pulls out all the stops in the summer, with festivals celebrating craft beer, music, art and the city’s internationally acclaimed culinary scene. Check Travel Portland to see what's in store while you're in town, or plan your trip around one of the following favorites:

  • Portland Rose Festival
  • Portland International Beer Festival
  • Waterfront Blues Festival
  • Oregon Brewers Festival
  • Musicfest NW
  • Feast Portland

Get Out: Springwater Trail

The Springwater Corridor Trail is part of a 40-mile loop around the city. The paved, scenic trail connects Sellwood Riverfront Park, Tideman Johnson Nature Park, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Beggars-tick Wildlife Refuge, the I-205 Bike Path, Leach Botanical Garden, Powell Butte Nature Park, and Gresham's Main City Park.

We recommend starting at Sellwood Riverfront Park trailhead and heading up along the Willamette River. It's a great place to bike, blade, jog, or walk.

Feast: Portland's Food Carts

Portland Food Carts

You can't leave Portland without partaking in its renowned food scene. There are countless eateries to suit just about any taste. And Portland's quirkiness shows up strong in the food cart craze. Food cart "pods" have popped up in multiple locations across the city - making it easy to sample from various vendors in one sitting. 

Check out some of the hot spots in this food cart pod listing. Bon appetit!


Looking for more ideas of things to do in Portland? Check out our Pinterest board: Portland, Oregon - Localvore.

 

PURSE MEETS BRIEFCASE: WORK-LIFE BAGS FOR WOMEN

Life gets busy quickly. When balancing a career with the rest of your schedule, it helps to simplify. That's why our handbags are designed to help you go seamlessly from the office to the kids' soccer practice to a night out with friends.

It's like having a purse and briefcase in one.

No longer do you have abandon your fashion sense in order to carry everything you need. Protect your laptop, store your files, and keep personal items neatly organized - all tucked inside our beautiful, top grain leather handbags. 

Our laptop handbags are sturdy and elegant. They're roomy, but designed with purse pockets so everything has its place. And they're travel friendly, too. A strap in the back slips easily over rolling luggage handles, so you'll be ready to go in the blink of an eye.

WHERE'S MY BAG: MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

WHERE'S MY BAG: MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

The “Where’s My Bag?” series highlights Clark & Mayfield bags in interesting locations around the world. This is a guest post by Michelle C. of IntentionalTravelers.com from her recent travels to Colombia. Michelle and her husband are "digital nomads," running their business online as they travel. Michelle shares about some of the destinations she's visited with her Clark & Mayfield bag in tow.

Medellín, Colombia

WHAT IS A BULLET JOURNAL?

List lovers, this one is for you! Turn a notebook into the keeper of your calendar, thoughts, to do list, and anything else you can dream up. The bullet journal makes capturing and organizing ideas really fast with a practice called "rapid logging." It's designed to help you focus on things that are worth your time.

All you need is a blank journal and pen or pencil. The original Bullet Journal tutorial can be found here, but you can always adapt the concepts however you want. Take standard symbols used in a bullet journal and tweak them to fit your needs:

*    task
/    in progress
X   done
<   scheduled
-    note
O   event
>   migrated

For example: Start on a new page for this week's tasks. When you have a new task, write it in the list with a dot in front of it. If you've started working on it already, change the dot to a slash (/). When it's done, make it an X. If you don't get around to a task during the week, you can migrate it to the next week's page - or not, if you decide that task is no longer important.

You can also use pages in your journal for things like:

  • Project plans
  • Reading or movie lists
  • Gift ideas
  • Weekly menus
  • Meeting notes
  • Shopping lists
  • Tracking exercise habits
  • Listing things you're thankful for

Keep the first page of the journal as an ongoing Table of Contents. That way, you don't have to worry about leaving enough blank pages to keep all related thoughts in one section. If you need to start a second page for a certain project, just use the next available page in your notebook. In the Table of Contents next to that item, add a comma and the new page number next to the original.

For more examples, search #bulletjournal on Instagram

For more examples, search #bulletjournal on Instagram

Some people use the bullet journal in a purely functional way, while others have a carefully crafted style. The Art of Simple has a great example of how a full-time blogger and mother of three uses her bullet journal. You can also check out inspiring examples on Instagram and Pinterest, and see what works best for you.

 

OUR FAVORITE LAPTOP SKINS AND ACCESSORIES

At Clark & Mayfield, we're all about the laptop lifestyle. Our tech-friendly handbags are crafted to blend practicality with style. And we're always on the look-out for other head-turning laptop accessories. These are some of our favorite laptop skins and accessories that are not only useful but beautiful, too.

Laptop Skins

Why use a laptop skin? It's a great way to "dress up" your computer and give it your own unique flare. In addition, laptop skins protect the outside of your laptop from scratches. Most skins can be easily removed so if you ever want to resell your laptop, it will be in great shape.

We like the vintage vinyl decals by TaylorHe. They're affordable and come in a variety of patterns.

Another great place to look for beautiful laptop skin designs in Etsy.


Keyboard Skins

Using a removable keyboard skin is great for keeping out the crumbs and other grit that always seems to find its way into the crannies of your keyboard keys. More importantly, they're waterproof so when you accidentally spill coffee, your keyboard stays protected. You can easily remove the keyboard skin to wash it. And it gives your computer a cool look, too! 

There are a variety of different keyboard skin styles on Amazon


As a bonus, you can often find matching laptop and keyboard skins to tie the whole look together, like this city rain set:


Matching Mouse and Mouse Pad

What better way to brighten your workspace up than a matching mouse and mouse pad? Even if there's a track pad on your laptop, using a mouse can be easier on your hand and posture. We love the cute chevron design here:


Cord Keepers

Tech devices tend to require lots of cords and cables, and that can get messy. One of the best ways to keep your work space sleek and simple is to tame those tangles with a cord organizer. We like the elegance of this magnetic option, which can suction to your table or wall. Laptop, phone, printer, and charger cords will magnetize to it and be right where you need them.

What about laptop sleeves or cases?

Thanks to the padded laptop sleeves in our handbags, there's no need for an extra case! Just slide your laptop into one of our bags and you can tote it anywhere, safe and secure. 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

PACK LIKE A PRO: SMART PACKING TIPS FOR CARRY-ON BAGS

This is a guest post by Michelle C. of IntentionalTravelers.com.

Packing for a trip requires us to overcome conflicting considerations: being thoroughly prepared versus not being over-burdened by our luggage. Taking just the right amount can be tricky to figure out. 

What's in my bag

I've had the Clark & Mayfield Morrison bag by my side for almost a year now, and it has always doubled as a work bag and a carry-on. Since I'm constantly on the road and working from my laptop as I travel, it's important for my bag to hold only what I need.

So what do I pack? The picture to the left shows the contents of my carry-on bag for the flights on our latest journey: five weeks in Hawaii, two and a half weeks in Vietnam, and two and half weeks in Japan. (My checked bag was a Gregory backpack that held my clothes, toiletries, and extra notebooks.)

*Macbook Air 13" with power cord
*Notebook
*iPhone 4S with ULAK wallet case (contains ID and credit card)
*sunglasses
*Corsair 32 Gig flashdrive
*mini address book
*Kindle Paperwhite with leather case
*checkbook
*Japanese phrasebook
*iPod shuffle with earbuds
*foam earplugs
*lipstick
*prescription bottle
*business cards and back-up credit cards
*glasses case
*G2 pens and pencil
*Gorge Delights Just Fruit snack bars
*multi-purpose scarf
*one change of clothes 

And, of course, it's all held together with the Morrison laptop bag.

Packing Tips

1. Your carry on should hold anything you absolutely can't do without if your check-in bag gets lost en route. On our trip to France this past summer, a glitch in the system caused our luggage to arrive 10 days late. Carrying on a light-weight change of clothes and prescriptions are always a good idea, just in case.

2. Valuables like electronics, expensive jewelry, and cash should never be left in checked baggage.

3. If you find yourself overpacking in attempt to prepare for every possible weather variation, or if you're unsure about what you'll need at your destination, don't sweat it. Remember that most things can be purchased at your destination if you determine later that you really need them.

4. The secret to minimizing your clothing items is to pack things that can be layered and to go with a general color scheme so that each piece can be mixed and matched with the others. 

5. Use a carry-on bag with inner pockets to keep your belongings in place and easy to access. This is why I love the Morrison bag. I like to keep my passport and airline tickets in the front outside pocket so I always know exactly where they are and can quickly pull them out when needed.

WHERE'S MY BAG: GALINA, JAMAICA

The “Where’s My Bag?” series highlights Clark & Mayfield bags in interesting locations around the world. This is a guest post by Michelle C. of IntentionalTravelers.com from her recent travels to Jamaica. Michelle and her husband are "digital nomads," running their business online as they travel. Michelle shares about some of the destinations she's visited with her Clark & Mayfield bag in tow.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SAFE, ETHICAL MAKEUP

Could the makeup you wear every day actually be harmful?  Most of us don't think twice when we apply our favorite lipstick or eye shadow. Unfortunately, there is an ugly side to name brand beauty products that shouldn't be ignored.

Keeping yourself informed and knowing which products are safe and ethical is all it takes. Here are some of the primary concerns you should be aware of when it comes to makeup products:

1. Toxic Chemical Ingredients

Dr. Kim Harley studies hormone disrupting chemicals at UC Berkeley. She says, "there is a lot we don't know about the long-term health effects. But we do know that if they're in our products, they're getting into our bodies." 

According to the Environmental Working Group, “Nearly 90 percent of the 10,500 ingredients the FDA has determined are used in personal care products have not been evaluated for safety by the CIR, the FDA or any other publicly accountable institution.” Many of these ingredients, which are known carcinogens, have been linked to breast cancer.

Nanoparticles like zinc, titanium and iron oxides are often included in cosmetics. If these penetrate the protective layers of the skin, they may cause reactions with UV light that could result in damage to cell DNA. 

Unfortunately, here in the U.S., we currently don't have any system in place to regulate potentially toxic ingredients in cosmetics, and products containing nanoparticles do not have to be labelled as such.

2. Environmental Impact

It's probably no surprise that the same synthetic materials that may be harmful to your body are also toxic to the environment. The process that cosmetic companies use to produce makeup can have a negative impact on the environment. The end of a product's life is another concern. Disposing of cosmetics through our bathroom sinks means they can find their way into our soil and water systems.

Product labels that advertise "natural," "organic," and "green" should be taken with a grain of salt. There is no standard definition of these terms. And note that some brands may claim to use clean ingredients, even though they make up only a small percentage of the full ingredient list for the product. 

3. Animal Testing

Humane Society International estimates that 100,000-200,000 animals - rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice - suffer and die from cosmetics testing every year. Animal testing for cosmetics has been banned throughout the 28 countries of the European Union since 2009. Currently, animal testing is still at the discretion of individual cosmetic companies in the U.S. In the majority of cases, animal tests continue because some companies insist on developing new ingredients rather than using materials that have already been verified.

How to Find Safe, Ethical Products

1. Choose brands certified by the Soil Association

By shopping these brands, you can be sure of the following:

  • Products are never tested on animals
  • Contain no genetically modified (GM) ingredients
  • Only use natural colors and fragrances from plants and flowers which are gentler on your skin and for the environment
  • Do not use silicone oils or derivatives
  • Follow the principles of green chemistry and minimize waste and pollution.
Neals Yard Remedies

Neals Yard Remedies

2. Read your product labels

When selecting a product in a store, watch out for ingredients like “phthalate,” “sulfate,” “paraben,” “triclosan” or “toluene.” These can be listed as either a stand-alone ingredient, or as part of a longer-named ingredient. These are not safe for your health.

3. Check your product's score

If you already have some favorite makeup products, you can see how they rate for health and ethical concerns. The Skin Deep database, by the Environmental Working Group, focuses on personal care items, while Good Guide rates just about every household product out there.

With just a little research, using the above resources, you can create a list of makeup brands and products for yourself. Granted, they will likely be more expensive than name brand items from the drug store. It's up to you to weigh the price against the other costs we've discussed here and find a solution that works best for you. 

SMART SIDE HUSTLE IDEAS

 

According to Portland-based author and entrepreneur, Chris Guillebeau:

"A side hustle isn't just nice. It's necessary." 

What is a side hustle?

A side hustle is a project or business that brings you extra money, apart from your day job. For many successful side hustlers, it has the potential to eventually replace traditional work - but it doesn't have to. It can simply be an additional source of income, providing you an outlet to develop skills and use your creativity.

When job security gets unpredictable, or your work no longer meets your needs - whether mentally or financially, it's a good idea to have something going on the side. A side hustle reduces your vulnerability to job loss and gives you options if you ever want to change directions with work.

Starting a side hustle is low risk. You don't have to quit your job to start one. You can begin small and build it up over time. Today's online tools have opened a lot of doors for solopreneurs and side hustlers. If it doesn't work out, all you'll really lose is your time - but you'll probably gain valuable experience and skills along the way. 

Get ideas for your own side hustle

There's a new, free resource available to anyone who wants to start a side hustle. Launched in January 2017, Chris Guillebeau is now producing a daily podcast called Side Hustle School. Each day he shares a profitable side hustle story from the real world, breaking down the strategies that led them to success, with actionable take-aways that can be applied to your own situation. 

Side Hustle School podcast episodes include stories like:

  • College Lecturer Makes Money By Helping Other Instructors Teach Better
  • How One Man Used A $100 Microphone To Make Over $8,000
  • “AIRBNB For Dogs”: Woman Hosts Pets At Her Home For $200/Day
  • 17-Year Old Canadian Makes $7,000 From Holiday Pop-Up Shop
  • PE Teacher Makes $11,000 With Membership Site

The ideas range from ordinary to outlandish from every business niche you can imagine. And the success stories include projects bringing in a little extra pocket money to businesses that sky-rocket to six figures.

The concise, info-driven episodes are great for getting your entrepreneurial creativity flowing and for learning practical strategies to start your own side hustle. You can start enjoying the daily podcast here: https://sidehustleschool.com/podcasts.

 

 

 

4 BENEFITS OF WHEELED LAPTOP BAGS

Stafford Pro rolling laptop bag in black

Stafford Pro rolling laptop bag in black

At Clark & Mayfield, we offer a variety of tech-friendly bags for women. Each style meets a different need. Our cross-body bags are perfect for protecting tablets and e-readers. Women who want the style of a purse that can comfortably carry a laptop, will find a variety of suitable handbags in our collection.

Last but not least, our designs also include rolling laptop bags. Here's why the rolling laptop bag might benefit you: 

Rolling laptop bags are spacious. Each of our rolling bags are at least 17 inches and can fit large laptops and hefty multi-media equipment. On top of that, they're full of useful pockets for all your other belongings.

Carry a heavier load. These laptop bags have a sturdy light-weight frame to accommodate heavy tech, books, etc. They can be carried by hand, but you'll save strain on your back, shoulders, and fingers by rolling it instead. Just extend the handle and you're good to go.

Double up with another bag. Thanks to the extension handle, you can set a smaller bag on top of the wheeled roller. Or, if you're traveling with a larger suitcase, use the slip strap to slide the laptop bag securely over the handle of another rolling bag!

Be versatile. Wheeled laptop bags are truly multi-functional. Use them as a rolling briefcase for meetings, a carry-all for conferences, an overnight bag for short trips, or as carry-on luggage you can store overhead in the airplane.   

Hawthorne leather wheeled rollers in red, black, blue

Hawthorne leather wheeled rollers in red, black, blue

WHERE'S MY BAG: MERIDA, MEXICO

The author with her C&M Stafford laptop bag

The author with her C&M Stafford laptop bag

The “Where’s My Bag?” series highlights Clark & Mayfield bags in interesting locations around the world. This is a guest post by Michelle C. of IntentionalTravelers.com. Michelle and her husband are "digital nomads," running their business online as they travel. Michelle shares about some of the destinations she's visited with her Clark & Mayfield bag in tow.

Mérida, Mexico

Mérida, Mexico is a popular travel destination in the Yucatan peninsula for Mexican vacationers and foreign tourists alike. The city has a rich cultural life, with frequent community events and dining for both budget and luxury travelers. Many tourists use Mérida as a base to visit nearby archeological sites, cenotes (underground rivers), and beaches.

Why We Went

We decided to stay in Mérida for three weeks at the start of the year, thanks to a recommendation from some well-traveled friends. We were impressed with the many cultural events, colorful exterior walls and secret interior courtyards, grand colonial buildings, affordable eateries, and proximity to Mayan ruins.

Although it was "winter," temperatures still reached the high 90's on occasion, but most days were pleasantly warm - a welcome relief from the snow storms taking place back home in the Northwest!

Getting some work done in the courtyard of Cafe Montejo

Getting some work done in the courtyard of Cafe Montejo

As usual, we split our time between working online for our freelance clients and exploring the area. To learn more about things to do in Mérida, check out our brief guide to Mérida on a budget.

Online Classes for Your Creative Side

If you've ever wanted to learn jewelry making, or you've dreamed of starting a photography business - whatever your creative pursuit - be it amateur or professional, you'll probably find it on CreativeLive.

CreativeLive

CreativeLive brings the world's greatest experts to your computer screen, with dynamic live video workshops and courses. Free online classes are broadcasting live every week. Anyone can watch the live workshops - for free - and interact with instructors in real time via chat. After a class airs live, you have the option to get life-time "on demand" access to it by purchasing the course.

Course topics include:

  • Photography
  • Graphic design
  • Illustration
  • Hand lettering and typography
  • Writing and publishing
  • Sewing
  • Knitting and crocheting
  • Mixed media
  • Jewelry
  • Blogging
  • Scrapbooking
  • Business and marketing for creators
Click the image above to see more Craft & Maker classes

Click the image above to see more Craft & Maker classes

Click the image above to see more Art & Design classes

Click the image above to see more Art & Design classes

CreativeLive is a great resource for starting a new hobby or taking your craft skills to the next level. If you're business-minded, you'll also find some interesting opportunities for professional development on the site. 

Free Tools to Be More Productive At Home

Being productive at home has its challenges. When you're surrounded by every-day distractions, chore lists are multiplying, and motivation is scarce, it's good to have some extra tools in the proverbial toolbox to keep you moving forward. Whether it's paid work or a personal project, try these tips to help you finish well:

Try focus music

Some people are motivated by their favorite tunes when they work - others find it distracting. If you fall into the latter category, instrumental focus music may be a better solution for you. Just search youtube, and you'll find free music tracks, each several hours long. Play it while you're working on the computer to help you concentrate and drown out distracting background noises.

Pace yourself with Pomodoro

The Pomodoro technique is all about working on one thing at a time, in a series of uninterrupted spurts. Typically, it means working at a task for 25 minutes, then taking a 5 minute break before the next 25-minute spurt. After four blocks of time, you take a longer break. The idea is to give your brain regular rest to stay fresh and to get more concentrated, concise work done. To aid in the process, you can use Tomato Timer, or download a Pomodoro app.

Wunderlist

Keeping track of your To Do list is simple with the app from Wunderlist. It allows you to organize multiple To Do lists as well as set due dates and reminders for your tasks. You can even sync up your lists with others and assign tasks to different people. Check off the box when you've completed a task, and hear the satisfying "ding" that it's done!

Track Your Time

Tracking how much time you spend on different activities is not only eye-opening, but it's an important step if you want to make changes to improve your productivity. RescueTime is an app you can easily install on your computer and/or phone to keep record of your online activities. It runs in the background and will produce a report of how much time you spent on various websites and computer programs. You can see the cumulation of productive and non-productive activities, set goals for yourself, and with the paid version, you can even block distracting websites at certain times of the day.

For more tips on productivity, check out:

WHERE'S MY BAG: KO'OLINA, HAWAII

Clark & Mayfield Stafford Pro handbag outside the Marriott Ko'Olina Beach Club

Clark & Mayfield Stafford Pro handbag outside the Marriott Ko'Olina Beach Club

Ko'Olina, Oahu, Hawaii

The Ko'Olina resort community is on Oahu's western - or leeward - coast, just 17 miles from the capital city of Honolulu. Once frequented by Hawaiian royalty, it is now home to beautiful resort hotels and vacation rentals like Aulani Disney Resort & Spa, Four Seasons, and Marriott Beach Club.

For family vacations and destination weddings, Ko'Olina makes a great, more laid-back alternative to Waikiki.

Visitors come from around the world to enjoy Ko'Olina's ocean views, play golf, explore the marina, dine out, and relax on the white sand beaches. The coastline is studded with four man-made lagoons, providing gorgeous and well-protected areas for swimming and lounging. These sandy lagoons are connected by nearly two miles of waterfront pathways, with the Lanikuhonua nature preserve just to the north.

TRAVEL WITH KIDS: 4 INSPIRING TRAVELING FAMILIES

Is traveling with kids or living abroad with a young family out of reach? Well, there are actually countless examples online of families who have successfully taken off with little ones in tow. Whether it's biking across the country together, or taking a year off to circle the globe, or transplanting permanently to a foreign country, real families of all kinds are making it happen.

Here are four of our favorite examples, each with their own unique spin on long-term family travel:

Photo credit: http://theartofsimpletravel.net/about/

Photo credit: http://theartofsimpletravel.net/about/

The Art of Simple Travel

Tsh Oxenreider is a full-time blogger, running the site Art of Simple. Last year, she and her family of five sold their house and did an around-the-world trip for 9 months. Tsh and her husband continued their online work and the kids - ages 4 through 10 - took their homeschooling on the road. Their trip has since been completed and they've settled back in Texas, but you can still check out their updates and tips from around the world.


Photo credit: http://www.ytravelblog.com/about-us/

Photo credit: http://www.ytravelblog.com/about-us/

Y Travel

Caz and Craig are full-time bloggers from Australia who travel with their family of four. They've been traveling for 16 years, living and working in five different countries, and traveling Australia in a camper trailer with their daughters. Their website is focused on helping other travels. 


Worldschool Family

If you thought traveling with a family of four or five was impressive, try a family of nine. Greg and Rachel Denning's nomadic family have lived and worked in several countries, driven from Alaska to Argentina, and even birthed new members of their tribe while abroad! They're passionate about education and world-schooling.


Photo credit: https://ditchingsuburbia.com/

Photo credit: https://ditchingsuburbia.com/

Ditching Suburbia

The Boyinks traded in the "American Dream" to set off on a year-long RV trip when their two kids were teenagers. Thanks to an internet-based income and homeschooling, they were able to visit 34 States and 16 National Parks in that first year, and they fell in love with the lifestyle. Ever since, they have continued living out of their RV full time. Their oldest, age 19, recently moved out to take a full-time job in Michigan.

Head to the Boyink's website to see a list of blogs from 140+ full-time RVing families.

IMPROVE EDUCATION WITH DONORSCHOOSE.ORG

Many of us in the Clark & Mayfield community are teachers - or we have little ones attending school - or maybe we're simply concerned citizens who want to see our schools thrive. With the complications and struggles in our education system today, it's nice to know that there's a non-political way to support our schools with DonorsChoose.org.

About DonorsChoose.org

DonorsChoose.org was founded by a first-year teacher at a low-income public school in the Bronx. He saw how the passion that he and his fellow teachers had, was getting frustrated by a lack of resources. To solve the problem he pioneered crowdsourcing for teachers, connecting donors to the classroom projects and wish lists of teachers in New York. His rudimentary crowd-sourcing charity website quickly drew attention and gained the backing of big time venture capitalists and even landed itself on the Oprah Winfrey show.

Today, DonorsChoose.org has raised hundreds of millions of dollars, helping hundreds of thousands of teachers fund projects around the country. 

Examples of funded projects include: 

  • an incubator for hatching baby chicks,
  • acryllic paints for a classroom mural,
  • library books,
  • gardening supplies,
  • and even field trip funds. 

How to Use DonorsChoose.org

For teachers looking to get their students what they need, post a project on the website and multiply your own network with the huge community on DonorsChoose.org. Once the project is funded, they'll ship you the supplies. All you have to do in return is write thank you notes to donors with your students and take some pictures of the projects in action! 

If you're looking to make an impact on education, browse the site for a classroom to support. You can filter your search by subject, grade level, type of resource needed, or dollar amount needed. If you know a teacher who is participating, look up their school or zip code. You can give any amount to a project that inspires you.

Gift cards are also available, so you can share the joy of giving with friends and family. Send them a card and they'll get to pick a project to send the funds to. It's a perfect present for someone who is too hard to shop for because they "have it all."

 

5 Reasons to Rent With Airbnb for Travel

Lounging on the porch of an Airbnb in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Lounging on the porch of an Airbnb in Siem Reap, Cambodia

This is a guest post by our travel writer, Michelle C. of IntentionalTravelers.com.

Airbnb has quickly become the leading alternative to hotel stays for travelers. With options that suit every budget, comfort level, and style, there's truly something for everyone - just about everywhere. In our own travels, we've frequently used Airbnbs - from weekend stays in Canada, Jamaica, and Japan to month-long apartment rentals in Ecuador and Thailand. We've stayed in private rooms with shared kitchen, individual flats all to ourselves, and full houses with our extended family.

Here are five reasons why an Airbnb rental can be a great idea:

1. Airbnb's heavily reliance on reviews takes the guess work out of choosing a place that suits your needs. Just browse the listing to see what people are saying and make sure there aren't any red flags. If the property description doesn't mention the noisy karaoke bar next door, there's a good chance one of the guest reviewers will!

(Both the guest and home-owner review each other after each stay. You don’t see the other person’s feedback until you’ve both submitted reviews, so there’s no pressure to leave a positive review just so the other party will do the same.)

2. Guests can communicate with potential hosts before and after making a booking. This is all done on AirBnB’s site, without exchanging any personal information or e-mail addresses until the booking is finalized. 

I often ask the host a question before committing to a reservation, just to get a sense for their commitment to communication. Since we often do work while we travel, one of my most common questions is the upload and download speeds of their internet - or how easy it is to get there via public transit.

3. Perhaps the biggest advantage to Airbnb is the financial value. Compared to hotel stays that can run $100+ in most cities, it's usually pretty easy to find a cheaper option on Airbnb. The most economical stays are private rooms within someone's home, where facilities like kitchen and bathrooms may be shared with the home-owner, or with other guests (depending on the listing). Even private apartment and full house rentals can end up being cheaper than hotels, especially if you require more than one bedroom.

Airbnb homestay room in Vietnam

Airbnb homestay room in Vietnam

4. The amenities that often come with Airbnb rentals are another great benefit. Renting an apartment with a kitchen opens up a world of possibilities for saving money on food, hosting friends for dinner, and living more like a local. Airbnb hosts will often share public transit passes, museum memberships, bicycles, and other bonuses with their guests.

5. There's a one-of-a-kind opportunity with Airbnb because you can get personalized advice from your host. By reading the property description and reviews, you'll get a sense for whether the host likes to interact with their guests. If so, it's as good as having a private tour guide! Get the true local experience by staying with someone who likes to show their guests around and share meals together. Or if you'd prefer otherwise, choose a host that's  more hands-off and gives you complete privacy.

If you've never tried Airbnb before, I highly encourage you to give it a shot. For a limited time, you can use this link to get up to $40 off your first bookingRead Airbnb's Trust & Safety FAQs if you still have concerns.

WHERE'S MY BAG: CAMBODIA

Michelle (pictured right) and friend with C&M Stafford laptop bag

Michelle (pictured right) and friend with C&M Stafford laptop bag

The “Where’s My Bag?” series highlights Clark & Mayfield bags in interesting locations around the world. This is a guest post by Michelle C. of IntentionalTravelers.com. Michelle and her husband are "digital nomads," running their business online as they travel. Michelle shares about some of the destinations she's visited with her Clark & Mayfield bag in tow.

Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia

Tuk tuk driver on the streets of Siem Reap

Tuk tuk driver on the streets of Siem Reap

While Cambodia remains a developing country, the security of the country has improved in recent years, and its popularity is growing amongst travelers to Southeast Asia. In Siem Reap, the gateway to the famous Angkor Wat temples, tourism has grown to accommodate luxury hotels, international restaurants, ATMs, and a nice little airport. Ancient temple ruins and beaches are the two biggest draws for visitors.

History of Cambodia's civil war and brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge are heavy but important parts of Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, where visitors can witness the Toul Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields. This bustling capital city is relatively under-developed compared to its Southeast Asian neighbors, though there are pockets of high-end restaurants and fancy condo complexes catering to expats.

"Phare" the Cambodian circus in Siem Reap features former street performers

"Phare" the Cambodian circus in Siem Reap features former street performers

Why We Went

Our visit to Cambodia was part of a three-month Southeast Asia trip. Since we happened to have a friend serving as a long-term volunteer in Phnom Penh, we took the opportunity to visit her for a long weekend. We also got to partake in the annual Angkor Wat Half Marathon, a true bucket list event with a good cause - proceeds from the race benefit Cambodians who have been disabled by land mines.

It was the most whirlwind part of our whole stay in Asia, but it was well worth it!

Angkor Wat Half Marathon through a UNESCO World Heritage site

Angkor Wat Half Marathon through a UNESCO World Heritage site