Shampoo Bars? But Why?

In an effort to reduce the volume of single-use plastic bottles we purchase, we made 150 shampoo bars for our New Years gifts this year. After 15 experiments, we finally made a batch that worked! One shampoo bar is equivalent to 3 shampoo bottles, so we are happy that we've eliminated 450 plastic bottles from ending up in the landfill or oceans. 

We hope that people love this idea as much as we do so we can make a dent in our plastic consumption.

If you want to try one, stop on by! Or you can buy from Lush (






Michael Bloomberg Gives Funds to Johns-Hopkins to Guarantee Need-Blind Admissions

Michael Bloomberg gave Johns Hopkins University a $1.8 BILLION gift to ensure that every student will be considered for admissions based on their individual merit – not whether or not their parents can afford the $250,000 cost of a bachelor’s degree. Kudos to Bloomberg!

Did you know that if you check that box on a college application that states that you DON’T NEED FINANCIAL AID, your child will increase their odds of receiving an acceptance letter.  Yup!  Colleges DO consider whether or not you will be able to pay their tuition (or qualify for loans) during the application review process.  And, this means that the rich get richer, and the poor remain poorer. 

Bloomberg said, “America is at its best when we reward people based on the quality of their work, not the size of their pocketbook.  Denying students entry to a college based on their ability to pay undermines equal opportunity.  It perpetuates intergenerational poverty.  And it strikes at the heart of the American dream: the idea that every person, from every community, has the chance to rise based on merit.”


Looking For A Lucrative Career? Check Into Nursing!

Looking for a lucrative career? Check into Nursing!

If you’re interested in health professions – and you’re not squeamish! – check into nursing.  Now that people are living longer thanks to improved medical care and an uptick in living healthier lives, we’re going to need more than a million nurses to serve patients by 2022. Yikes!

Both public and private colleges are joining programs to provide bachelor-ready nurses.  To speed up the process, 4-year colleges are working with community colleges so students can take classes concurrently. The National Academy of Medicine is hoping that 80% of nurses will have their bachelor’s degree by 2020; in 2016, only 54% had it. This is such a concern that health agency employers are requiring nurses to get their bachelor’s degree as a condition of their continued employment.

Although most nursing programs are impacted today, this will change when universities partner with community colleges to open more spaces and speed up the process of earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN).


Congratulations? You Got A Deferral?

It used to be that students either received that large envelope – you know the ones – with “CONGRATULATIONS” written for everyone to see when you were accepted, or the small #10 envelope with a single sheet of paper kindly telling you how qualified you were but how they regretted their decision to deny your acceptance to their college. But today, many colleges are “deferring” students as a third option.  What does this mean, and what can you do to get admitted?

What does Deferral mean?

Some decent colleges will defer students that will ultimately get in if they do not fill their incoming class with students on May 1st.  Most colleges will move this “deferred” group into the regular decision pool for consideration.  Other colleges offer admission to a small group, rejection to another small group, and deferrals to thousands of students knowing that most of these students will not be accepted.  I find this cruel because these students continue to be strung along with hopes for something that will never materialize.  But for others, a deferral is easier to swallow and may be a nice way to buffer the rejection.

Every college is different so you’ll need to do some digging to find out what your real chances are of getting in.  Northwestern defers less than 2% of their applicants, while Georgetown defers everyone who wasn’t accepted during their early application process.  Last year, MIT deferred over 6,000 students and only admitted 248.

What can you do to bump your chances of getting in on a deferral?

  1.  Write a letter to the admissions committee
    1. Thank them for this opportunity
    2. Update them on your progress with projects and other activities
    3. Comment on your current grades
    4. Explain why you’re a perfect candidate for admission
    5. Add new information that is not on your application or essays
    6. Get another letter of recommendation from a different source
  2. Update your Resume or LinkedIn page
    1. Add new accomplishments since your application was submitted
    2. Add photos or videos
    3. Add links to articles, interviews, or other publications
  3. Give new documents
    1. Check first because many colleges explicitly state that they do NOT want more documents, and sending them will actually hurt your admission chances.
    2. Give only documents and information that is not on your application or essays
    3. Get another letter of recommendation from a different source

Continue to apply to colleges to increase your chances of getting into your top picks.  This will help fill your time so you’re not anxiously waiting for a few colleges’ admissions decisions.  Remember, there are over 4,000 colleges just in the United States, and I’m sure there are many colleges that would love to have you start next fall!

Trump's Border Wall or Arctic Sea National Security?

Until today, I considered Trump’s discussion about the Wall to be just another distraction while he revved up his political base and conspired to build his personal empire. Trump is a master of smoke and mirror tactics and he’s kept the nation in the dark about our national security in the Arctic Sea.

According to Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif), "The United States is at an increasing disadvantage in the Arctic compared to the Russian fleet and we can no longer afford to delay," she said. "This is a major area of weakness in our national security." Russia has stepped up its production of icebreaker ships to meet President Putin’s vision of the Arctic Sea as the future of the Russian empire. As the world’s super power, the United States is not prepared to protect this region.

I knew he was pulling funds to build the Wall from somewhere, but didn’t know where until now.  The 2018 budget originally included $169 million for the Coast Guard’s Icebreaker Program to build another 1 icebreaker ship to replace our only ship capable of handling national security and emergency services in the Arctic Sea.  Russia has 40 icebreakers – almost more than all nations combined. We have just 4; but only 2 for military purposes.

Although $750 million had been approved to build the new icebreaker ship in the 2019 budget, the House recently stripped ALL icebreaker funds in order to build the $5 BILLION wall.  The lame duck Congress faces a crucial decision to approve the construction of the icebreaker or divert funds for the wall by Dec. 21st.  Seriously, this wall nonsense has gone on for too long.

The Coast Guard’s polar mission also includes gathering scientific data, rescuing ships stranded in ice, and investigating oil spills.  The Coast Guard’s only icebreaker, the Polar Star, is over 40 years old and more than 12 years past the recommended date to replace it. 

What’s worse, more ships are traveling through the Arctic Sea because of the vast melting of the glaciers.  With more traffic, ships are spilling oil, smuggling illegal cargo, and getting stranded.  We need more icebreakers to provide both environmental and humanitarian crises.

Don’t get distracted by all the noise from the White House.  Follow the money to see what is really going on.  I could think of a dozen real issues that could benefit from the $5 billion dollars that Trump has allocated to build that ridiculous wall!


If You Need Financial Aid For College, Start Your FAFSA and CSS Profiles Now!

In order to receive financial aid for college, students must submit the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. While all public and private colleges use the FAFSA, about 400 private colleges also require the CSS Profile. After you complete these online reports, the FAFSA and CSS Profile will send Student Aid Reports (SARs) to each of your colleges. You can start this process as early as October 1st and the sooner the better. Colleges won't give you a financial aid awards letter until they have received the FAFSA and/or the Profile.  They need this financial information before they make recommendations about what the parents and students could afford to pay for college.

You don't need a CPA to complete these forms, but they can be tricky.  Here are some tips to make it easier for you.


This application is online and everyone completes the same form. Billions of dollars are available in federal aid and Pell grants. This application is free.

1.  FAFSA Application Form (click on "start here")

2.  FAFSA Hotline: (800) 433-3243

3.  FAFSA Email:

4.  FAFSA Worksheet (to see what questions you'll be answering)

5.  FAFSA YouTube Videos 

6.  FAFSA Financial Aid Toolkit

7.  FAFSA Tips to Avoid Common Errors

CSS Profile:

This application form is individualized based on the colleges that you are applying to and how you answer the questions.  The information is used to determine how much the college will give in aid from their college funds, not federal funds. There is a nominal fee to file the CSS Profile plus a small fee for every college.

1.  CSS Profile Application Form

2.  CSS Profile (List of Colleges)

3.  CSS Profile Hotline: (844) 202-0524

Get started on this right away -- even if you haven't received your W4s or financial records. Remember, the sooner they have your information, the sooner each college will be able to make financial aid offers.

[Source 1]

[Source 2]

Online Bachelor's Degree From An Ivy League College?

Finally, an ivy-league college will offer the first online bachelor’s degree!  The University of Pennysylvania (UPenn) will open an online program for undergraduates studying liberal arts starting fall 2019.  This is a game changer; and I believe it will be instrumental in making sure that a quality elite education can be had by everyone.  While the tuition is about $1000 less per course for the online classes, this is the beginning of a movement to keep education affordable.

UPenn is expecting about 500 students to enroll in their first online bachelor’s degree program next fall.  Of these students, they speculate that the students will be adults ages 25+. When students can continue to live at home in their home states and receive an ivy-league diploma, we’re going to see a shift in what it costs to get that coveted degree. 

With tuition at elite colleges exceeding $70,000 per year, parents really can’t afford to pay for college and prepare for their retirement anymore.  I’m hopeful that colleges realize that they need to start reducing tuition, offering online courses, and preparing students for the work force. Maybe UPenn is leading the way to encourage both ethnic and socioeconomic diversity in college education.


Do We Need Liberal Arts Graduates?

If you aren’t a STEM genius and worry that you won’t ever have a good paying job, a new study says that more employers are seeking college grads with liberal arts degrees. Finally! First of all, can you imagine a world with only STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) people?  Umm, no!  Who would do the communicating, marketing, writing, and education (just to name a few jobs)?  The good news is that employers are recognizing how they really do need employees who can communicate, lead, and problem solve – in other words, people with degrees in humanities, social sciences and interdisciplinary programs.

The fear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics would eliminate humans from the non-STEM portion of the job market has been tamed as employers realize that the integration of “human” and technical skills are necessary for future jobs.  While this is encouraging for those not interested in STEM careers, colleges need to redesign liberal arts curriculum so that it prepares students with the multitude of skills they will need in their careers. Colleges need to help students translate what they are learning into specific skills for the ever-changing labor market.

Liberal arts graduates earn on average $55,000, which is $20,000 more per year than high school graduates.  Those liberal arts students who get advanced degrees, earn on average $75,000 per year.  While these students don’t earn as much as STEM grads, the good news is that the gap is closing and liberal arts graduates aren’t destined to be baristas forever.


Island Actually Disappears Due to Climate Change

If you have ever doubted that the ocean is rising, this may surprise you.  A small island off the northeast coast of Japan is now completely underwater. That's right! It's gone because of the rising sea level. The Japanese Coast Guard will confirm this in the next few weeks.

When I was a kid, we could walk down the beach during low tide in Malibu twice per day. That was a given -- every 12 hours. But over the past few years, the tide has risen so high that there have been months when you couldn't walk down the beach at all. GASP!

Not sure why this isn't making frontpage news. We have a CO2 problem and it's not going away on its own.


15 Ways To Save Money During The Holidays - And Beyond!

With the holidays here, and budgets bursting at the seams, check out this interesting blog on creative ways to save money. 

Whether you lower your credit card interest or sign up for Ebates, you’re more likely to stay on track with your budget if you embrace a new system to save money BEFORE the holidays. 

Success begets success.  So even if you save $5 per month today, you’re more likely to make smarter choices in other areas – saving you even more money.