Tips For Managing Your (Period) Naturally!

Period pain.

It seems like it’s something that is unavoidable in the lives of most women today. I remember spending years in college throwing back Midol and. praying I didn’t run out of my synthetic period products.

I totally had that nightmare moment in grade 9 where I had to tie a sweater around my waist because my conventional tampon didn’t do it’s job. I missed days of school (and work) over the years because of my cycle and eventually went on oral contraceptives to manage them.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of oral contraceptives because there is so MUCH information on the topic but I will share a few thoughts.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

*I am not a medical professional nor do I claim to be. Discuss your health with your doctor and do not rely on my blog as medical advice.

This Pubmed article discusses a study that shows it took 80% of the women (in the study) a year before they successfully conceived after discontinuing the oral contraceptive they were on. I’ve seen that to be true in many conversations I’ve had over the years. Many women think they can get pregnant immediately after quitting their birth control only to find out it’s quiet difficult. Think about this way. Birth control makes yours uterus a hostile environment to conception. You essentially are damaging that environment so it has to heal and if it does heal, there may be a better chance of successfully conceiving.

I’m not a doctor but life experience as a woman has opened my eyes to many things pertaining to reproductive health.

This is an interesting article on the risks and benefits of oral contraceptives which discusses how long term uses puts women at risk of blood clots, heart attacks, stroke, increased blood pressure, liver tumours as well as an increased risk of breast and cervical cancer! YIKES.

I ditched oral contraceptives and conventional period products the first year of my marriage. If you’re curious about how to manage fertility naturally, check out this article which explains various methods.

I want to share 14 ways I (naturally) manage my cycle today and how it’s impacted my reproductive health for the better.

Ditch The Dirtys.

  • No More Birth Control. Like I mentioned above, I quit birth control and opted for NFP. I’ll never forget my first cycle after birth control because it was extremely painful. Now that I’ve had two children naturally, I can say the pain of that period was similar to early labour pains. I think it was because my body was completely detoxing from birth control. It took my body a year to regulate my cycle. IF that doesn’t say something about chemical contraceptives, I don’t know what does!
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  • Opted for Reusable Period Products. Have you tried them yet? Check out my blog post on reusable period products here. The truth may surprise you! I love cloth pads and menstrual cups. I’ll never go back to tampons and cotton pads. I don’t miss the chemicals or the mess! Amazingly, switching to these types of products has reduced my period pain almost completely. No more cramps and that alone is half the battle!
  • No More Midol. Is Midol even a thing anymore? My age is showing! So, I don’t avoid medication all together but if there is a more natural option, I want to try that instead. Long term use of OTC meds like aspirin, ibuprofen and Tylenol are going have to have an impact on our liver. If I can avoid that, I’ll try. Sometimes my natural methods may not be able to get a migraine under control and I have to pop a Tylenol and drink a coke. That is worst case scenario for me, though.

Natural Pain Management.

  • Essential Oils. If you know me, you know I love to use a variety of things for health and illness. Essential oils are one of those things that are so versatile. You can diffuse them, dilute them with a carrier oil to put over your lower abdomen or put a few drops in your bath! I love Lavender for it’s soothing scent and anti-inflammatory properties. Peppermint is my go to for nausea and headache! There are so many more excellent oils for pain management. A little research goes a long way!
  • Heat. Heat therapy has been used for many years to manage pain. I like to switch things up with a hot bath, hot water bottle or heating pad of I’m having any pain. Since I’ve switched to natural products, I rarely experience cramps now but I love heat therapy when I do!
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Herbs. If I could become an herbalist…….but seriously herbs are an incredible way to manage period pain, naturally. When I was pregnant I drank Red Raspberry Leaf tea to strengthen my uterus. It’s also incredibly useful for cramps during your cycle. After my sons were born, I took this herbal tincture to help with the pain of after birth. Skullcap tincture has been useful for me to manage headaches associated with PMS. This article by Herbal Academy goes into more detail about the various types of pain relieving herbs and their profiles!

  • CBD Oil and THC. I’m fairly new to trying CBD and THC for pain management but I have to say that the pain relieving properties of both are incredible. I find that CBD oil taken orally is my go to for headaches and general pain. CBD oil has also been great for my mood regulation and anxiety that often peaks during PMS. It’s important to understand that there is a difference between CBD and Cannabis products. CBD has very little if any THC in it, which is the component that has hallucinogenic properties.

For pain management I typically take 1 ML of CBD oil sublingually. It also has helped my focus and concentration when I’m fatigued. 5 MG of THC is what often helps me sleep at night, especially if I have any pain or anxiety flaring up. This amount does not bring on any hallucinogenic feelings for me but instead makes me feel very sleepy. I take it orally in the form of a gummy. It’s very important to research both CBD and THC to understand pain receptors, dosing and the different ways in which it will affect you, depending on how you ingest it. It also takes time to figure out appropriate dosing, especially for pain management.

  • Chiropractic Care. Is there anything that chiropractic care can’t do? But seriously, it has been instrumental in relieving pain associated with my cycle and the overall management of my cycle. You can’t go wrong with Chiropractic care. A little research goes a long way in showing how helpful spinal manipulation can be for improving pain associated with your menstrual cycle!

Inside and Out.

  • You Are What You Eat. So, I’m not suggesting you diet to feel better when you’re pmsing. But I am talking about how our overall diet going to have an impact on how our body manages pain. I’ve personally noticed that I feel better when I’m eating clean. Whereas I tend to have the worst periods when I’m eating highly processed foods. Sadly, those are the things I crave so I try to have a balance.
  • Water. Is water the cure for everything? When I keep myself hydrated, I feel better. If I get tired of plain water, I’ll grab a club soda for that fizzy feeling. Staying hydrated is going to help ward off headaches that are often brought on by fluctuating hormones. Get yourself a cute (and functional) water bottle so it’s easier to keep yourself hydrated.
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  • Rest. Fatigue can be a huge symptom of my cycle. Sometimes I can feel like I’m walking through mud. Having two toddlers to chase all day is probably part of the exhaustion! But I try to be intentional about getting adequate if not more rest during my cycle. Last night I went to bed at 8:30! I also try to keep my days low key, even if that means having the TV on more than usual, for my kids. Do what you have to, to give your body the rest it needs.
  • Track It. Natural Family Planning helped me understand where I was at in my cycle based on things like cervical position, cervical mucus and body temperature. Having an app to track your period and ovulation can be extremely helpful! It can give you a heads up to start preparing for your cycle so you aren’t caught off guard and unprepared.

Keep It Clean.

  • Get a Peri bottle. Is it weird that I still have my peri bottle from when I gave birth? Don’t worry, I disinfect it! It’s a game changer for me when I’m on my cycle. It also means I don’t have to shower 5 times a day. It lessens my use to TP as well. Good for me, good for the earth. Win win!
  • Cloth Wipes. I love my reusable TP. I love it even more during that time of the month! It just provides a better, more efficient clean. Cloth wipes and a peri bottle keep things clean and fresh. Who doesn’t want that?! Check out Etsy for handmade reusable TP. It’s so easy to use and I wash mine with my cloth pads.

I have no secrets of success when it comes to managing my cycle but I have learned so much about my body over the years by doing two things. I listen to my body and I research everything. I’m a firm believe in self advocacy when it comes to health. No-one is going to care more about my health than ME!

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

If I can do things for my body that contain less chemicals, I’m going to do it. I know that it means a happier, healthier me.

What are some ways that you’ve been able to manage your cycle over the years?

Keto On A Budget

I have been hesitant to share that I’m trying out the Keto way of eating because truth be told, people are so opinionated these days. In the past I’ve talked about eating Paleo and was told that it was “SO HARD” and “SO EXPENSIVE.” When you’re on a mission to adapt to a healthier lifestyle the last thing you need or want is people being negative.

Apparently Keto isn’t affordable according to many but I’m always up for a good challenge.

Why Keto?

Quarantine 15 anyone? Back in Feb/March I was at my lowest weight that I had been since getting pregnant with my first son. My husband and I had been working out, intermittent fasting and loosely following The Warrior diet. I was experiencing way less anxiety and overall I felt pretty amazing. We then suffered through two bouts of illness, one of which I’m pretty sure was Covid. Natural immunity for the win!

Getting sick was a huge setback for me and then we went into quarantine as a country. Since then I have gained back everything I lost and more through poor eating habits and little to no exercise. The biggest impact this had was on my mental and emotional health as well as my energy levels. I was feeling like total junk!

Weight loss is such an individual journey and what works for one person isn’t going to work for everyone. It makes sense because our bodies are all so unique. I thought about trying The Warrior Diet again but it’s pretty rigid. I have known people who have done Keto and seen great results. A little research shows that the food you can eat while doing Keto is DELICIOUS. But I was of the mindset that it was “so expensive” and I was just starting to scale back our grocery budget.

*As a disclaimer: I’m not here to discuss if Keto is “safe” or right for people. I know there are lots of thoughts about body image and weight loss, today. I’m not a health expert but I am an expert for my own body and I’m sharing what is working for me. Me sharing my lifestyle is not meant as a directive towards anyone.

Dollar Signs.

As I said above I was working on reducing our monthly grocery budget. And by reducing, I was cutting our spending back by at least $200 a month. As a family of four with 2 small children, there was no reason for us to be spending what we were on groceries. We don’t eat organic and no-one has any food allergies. I settled on a budget of $500 a month or $125 a week and this does not include things like tp or diapers. I changed a few shopping habits such as no more shopping at the expensive grocery stores. I started making things from scratch again because convenience foods were running up my grocery bill. I began meal planning again.

At the beginning of the week when I write out my menus, I shop my own pantry and freezer first. I started ordering my groceries from Wal-Mart for FREE pickup. I do this mostly for convenience because grocery shopping with a mask while trying to wrangle two small toddlers isn’t something I enjoy doing. It also forces me to stick to my budget because I order my groceries the night before and if I forget anything, I can’t add to my list. I just wait until next week!

So let’s review some grocery budgeting tips:

  • Make more things from scratch: bread, muffins, desserts, snacks etc.
  • Meal Plan
  • Shop Your Own Pantry and Freezer
  • Order your groceries online to avoid last minute convenience purchases
  • Make your own household cleaners
  • Use reusable items in your home to reduce your waste (and save money on household items)

*During the tp panic buying, we didn’t purchase a single pack of TP because we had reusable cloths if we ran out. It might sound gross but it’s all about mindset!

Keto On The Cheap

So you’re probably still wondering how I fed myself (and my husband) a Keto based diet, plus regular food for my kids all on $125 a week.

I implemented all those tips listed above and also do the following:

  • Apart from some sauces from Primal Kitchen, I do not buy anything else pre-made like Keto snacks.
  • Shop the discount produce and meats
  • Don’t buy organic
  • Make everything from scratch

That might sound like a lot of work but when you experience 5 pound weight loss in the first week and still get to each delicious foods, that is usually motivation to put in the work! No joke, I lost 5 pounds during my first week of Keto. I have also been combining it with intermittent fasting. I don’t exercise apart from the occasional walk with my boys. I am active in terms of taking care of two toddlers all day but I haven’t implemented any intentional exercise. I would probably see a lot more weight come off and I as I progress, I’m hoping to exercise more intentionally.

What Do I Buy?

The first week I started Keto I spent an average of $123. My Way-Mart Grocery bill was around $107 but I took the amount I spent on Well.ca for all my Keto dressings and prorated it over 4 weeks to give me a weekly average. That gives me the $123.

Here is my exact grocery list from the week:

2 Cartons of large eggs, 3 cans of wet cat food, 1 coffee cream, 1 carton of unsweetened almond milk, 1 can of parmesan cheese, 1 cucumber, 2 bunches of asparagus, 2 cartons of raspberries, 2 packs of bacon, 5 apples, 1 container of mushrooms, 2 packs of cream cheese, 1 bottle Braggs ACV, 1 box of chicken nuggets (for the kids), Frozen Cauli florets x2, 1 bag of shredded cheese, 1 bag frozen veg, 1 small carton homo milk, 2 bags 2% milk, 1 bag clementines, 1 bag lemons, 2 blocks of butter.

Total $107.56

I had the advantage of already owning a few items like almond flour and stevia as well as all the meat I needed for the week. I shopped my freezer! It’s the specialty items that will run up your budget which is why it’s smart to budget for those things and prorate your cost over your monthly budget.

Menu planning ahead of time is probably your most important step. When you menu plan, you can shop for specific items and avoid buying things you don’t need. There will be fluctuations in my budget week to week but for the most part, I know I can keep my grocery bill low.

Example Weekly Menu (Keto Dinners)

Smothered pork chops w/cheesy baked asparagus

Adobo chicken w/green beans

Keto Big Macs w/loaded cauliflower rice

Taco pie w/salad

Garlic Mushroom chicken w/mixed veggies

Keto Mcdgriddles w/scrambled eggs and fruit

Protein style burgers w/cauli Mac n cheese

Chicken bacon ranch bake w/salad

In the Long Run.

See what I mean when I say Keto can be delicious?! I’m not even following Keto SUPER strict and I’m still seeing great results. The only cons are the amount of time it takes to prep, cook and clean up. I’m in my kitchen quite a bit these days but I don’t mind because it produces great food for me and my family to eat. I usually pick a day that I do all my baking and snack prep. Snacks are important with Keto, especially in the beginning as your body adjusts to not having many carbs. I went to bed last night and didn’t wake up hungry once. That is a great feeling!

I’m still very much in the beginning phases of Keto and I don’t know what it’s going to look like in the long run. I think the reason “diets” are considered dangerous or a waste of time by many is because most diets are not sustainable. They tend to be extreme, costly and complicated. I’d like to think of it as more of a lifestyle change. Will I ever eat lots of carbs again? Probably! But for now I’m really enjoying the path I’m on of eating healthier and doing it affordably.

Have you ever done Keto? Did you find it to be expensive? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

5 Tips For Productive Days As A Stay At Home Mama

When I became pregnant 5.5 months postpartum with my second son, I had some moments of panic along the way.

Looping over and over in my mind was the thought, “How will I manage to get anything done with two babies less than 14 months apart?” I also have struggled with feeling like I’m doing nothing because there is no monetary benefit attached to my work. I think it goes without saying that stay at home (and work outside of the home) moms do all the things. Much of our work is unseen, especially by our children. Sometimes all that unseen work can feel quite overwhelming.

Dishes. Laundry. Sticky floors. Soccer practice. Art projects. Doctor appointments. Cooking meals. Grocery shopping. Dirty diapers.

Moms are superheroes.

Shortly after my first son was born, an acquaintance (who had no children) mentioned that they would love to stay home in their pj’s all day doing nothing. It didn’t feel like a compliment and those of us who stay home with our babies all day know that we do all the things.

But hi, I want to chat about streamlining for a second. What is streamlining? As a verb streamlining is defined as such: “to alter in order to make more efficient or simple.” (dictionary.com)

Glory hallelujah, I think that is now my favourite word in the dictionary. I want to share ways I streamline my days during the week.

Make Sleep A Priority. If you have very small children you are probably laughing right now. Hey, I get it! Sleep is a precious commodity in our home. My husband I both work hard to make sleep a priority. We sleep train, stick to a schedule with our kids and make it a habit to go to bed at a decent time. Sleep is sacred in our home. I don’t even open the front door between 12 and 3 (nap time. Sorry, come back later! When you only get so much free time each day, you understand how important it is to take advantage of that time to recharge yourself.

Did you know that lack of sleep has a direct negative impact on our cognitive functions? The Nation Sleep Foundation shares four ways sleep deprivation impairs cognition, here.

Prioritizing sleep can only have a positive impact on your ability to perform well during the day! Improved cognition, a stronger immune system, and more mental alertness are among some of the health benefits of good sleep habits. You’ll thank yourself later by making healthy sleep habits!

Get a Calendar. Get yourself a paper calendar you can hang somewhere easily visible. Write things on it! We have a calendar hanging on our refrigerator and at the beginning of the month we map out our schedule. I have found that it is beneficial to see the whole month laid out so I know what is coming. I struggle with anxiety and seeing things ahead of time helps with my anxiety. This calendar also diffuses A LOT of miscommunication between me and my husband. WIN!

Plan Ahead And Be Organized.. I’ll admit that I’m slightly obsessed with planning and organization. You know why? IT BRINGS ME PEACE. Obviously, I can’t plan everything but I do what I can to keep the chaos to a minimum around here. You can find our current daily routine HERE. Fun FACT: In my mid-twenties I was part of co-leading teams of college age students into foreign countries for volunteer work. I learned so much about the value of planning and preparation during that season of my life. I have a cleaning schedule attached to my fridge, food staples I know I can cook basic meals from and specific days of the week that I accomplish things like laundry and grocery shopping. I’m currently trying Mint budgeting to simplify our spending and see where our money is actually going. It’s free and so far, I really like it!

Stick To A Simple Routine. Implement simple things into your daily routine like washing your face, getting dressed etc. Try a capsule wardrobe for the whole family to simplify your laundry. If you have small children like I do, you know that anytime after 4pm can be complete chaos. Anything can happen. I’m talking everyone is fine one second and the next second someone (my toddler) is projectile vomiting on the floor or peeing in the fridge while the delivery guy is banging on the door and someone is calling my phone.

We have a flexible routine during the day but there are set things like outside time, meals and nap. Because my hardworking hubby does not have the luxury of set hours with his job, I’m often prepared to do our end of day deal on my own. And while it gets a little hairy at times, I stick to the same routine every night. This way the kids know what to expect (and battle bedtime way less) and I know I’m getting a break at some point!

Keep Clutter and Cleaning Simple. What I have found really helpful is having a clean home at the end of the day. So if I’m on my own, I’ll tidy what I can before I put babies to bed. If my husband is home, we tag team. One person deals with babies and the other tidies the house! Then we can sit down and enjoy some kid-free time at the end of our day with no cleaning involved.

Fun fact: When we bought our house last year, the elderly woman who lived here was essentially a hoarder. Forty years worth of things were packed into every nook and cranny in this home. We think that one of the reasons we were able to get this home at such a steal is because many buyers were scared by all her clutter. Clutter and mess can really slow down your day and impact your overall mood. Imagine all the minutes we spend trying to find something in our mounds of junk. Less really is more! I promise!

Get rid of the distractions. If there are things in your life that are weighing you down, chewing up precious time with your family and keeping you from creating a peaceful home environment, why not just get rid of those things? As I mentioned above, excess stuff can literally weigh you down. Or maybe you’re over scheduling yourself. Can too many playdates be a thing? I think so! How about social media? That is a HUGE one for me. In the recent months I’ve felt the need to scale back on my consumption of social media. I made the decision to get away from the two platforms I was using (Instagram and Facebook) because I saw how much more productive and present I was when I wasn’t on social media. It was a tricky decision because I use my Instagram to promote my blog but right now that is all I will use it for.

Maybe these seem like basic concepts. Well, I’m a basic kinda gal and I can appreciate fresh and simple perceptive, especially if it makes my life easier! What are some things that you practice to make your day go more smoothly, as a stay at home mama?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

A Realistic Daily Routine For Stay At Home Moms

“Are they twins?”

“Is that your nephew?”

“WOW. You’ve got your hands full.”

“It won’t always be this busy, you’ll see!”

When I was pregnant with my second son, I was constantly searching the internet for schedules. I’m a schedule person. I like organization. I wanted to know that I could get my two babies on an easy schedule to keep my sanity. I couldn’t find much to be honest so I figured I would share the schedules I created as the boys grew.

If you ask my husband I can be rigid when it comes to our routine but as the boys are getting older, I am learning to be a little more flexible. That being said, I don’t think we’ve ever skipped an afternoon nap to be somewhere or do something. It just ain’t worth it, ya’ll!

*Currently my boys are almost 2 and almost 3.

6-7 AM Wakeup, milk, change diapers/potty and make breakfast. Coffee for ME.

7:00-8AM Breakfast, get dressed. I will go wash my face, take a quick rinse off shower, utilize my capsule wardrobe and sometimes I’ll put some makeup on.

8-10AM TV/inside play time. My kids watch a lot of TV depending the day and I stopped feeling guilty about it a long time ago! I also utilize this time to do things like check my emails, write a grocery list, daily chores etc..

10-12 Free Play: this typically involves outside time, a snack, play dates, running errands etc. If we’re inside because of weather, I will fold laundry or clean while they play.

12PM Lunchtime (I let the kids watch a show in the living room while I prepare lunch.) This allows me to safely monitor them while getting lunch ready. Win win!

12:30-3:30 PM Nap Time! I’ve learned to protect this time of the day for myself and not feel guilty about it. I don’t do chores. I eat, sleep, read books, go on my computer, watch movies etc. Having this set time of day for myself has done wonders for my mental health!

3:30 PM Snack Time

4:00 PM Free Play

5:30-6:30 Prep Dinner/Dinner time

6:30 Bath time (twice a week)

7 PM Bedtime for the babies!

One of my goals every day is to have a tidy house by bedtime so that my husband and I can enjoy our small window of free time together. I don’t want to be wading through toys on the floor or scrubbing down a messy kitchen. I clean as I go and it works really well for me. I rarely sit down during the day except for when I’m eating or the kids are sleeping. I’m always thinking of the next small task I can be doing so that when I have free time, I’m not working. Multitasking is the path to more free time and a more simplified, clutter free home, I promise!

Our routine is always changing to fit our needs. I think the secret to a successful daily routine is being flexible and willing to adapt to your children’s needs as well as your own. Never underestimate the power of routine. I don’t deviate far from our routine because I’ve seen what my kids are like when we shorten naps or over schedule ourselves with outings. It ain’t pretty! I will always embrace some semblance of routine because it brings peace to my life.

What kind of person are you? Do you love routine? Do you live by the seat of your pants?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Summer Capsule Wardrobe.

It’s officially summer where I live and considering the long months of cold/wet weather……IT FEELS WONDERFUL.

If you aren’t familiar with the capsule wardrobe concept you can check out this post which would explain things a bit. She also has some great capsule wardrobe examples by season like me! Essentially I like keeping my wardrobe simple each season by wearing a select number of items in various outfits. This makes life easier for me in many different ways! It takes me a few minutes each morning to pick out my clothing for the day. It keeps my wardrobe organized as opposed to overflowing with unused items, laundry somewhat less and this all helps me feel less stressed overall.

If I have any style, it’s evolved into wearing things that are comfortable, fairly modest and simple since I’ve become a mom. I have to be able to chase two very busy toddler boys (my own) around all day. I don’t like feeling constricted in my clothing so I don’t wear overly fitted items unless it’s leggings or biker shorts. I like to feel cool in the hot summer months so any heavy or complicated materials wouldn’t be things I reach for. I predominately purchase secondhand clothing because it’s ethical, affordable, better for our environment and I don’t feel terrible when my clothing gets totally destroyed from working in my garden or other messes that happen.

As we’ve entered the summer season it’s been different trying to shop for new or new to me items. Stores have been closed until recently due to C19 and my favourite thrift store is still closed so I’ve been finding some great pieces on Poshmark. I’m not super keen on the shipping but being able to buy secondhand online is something I’m grateful to do. I tried Thredup but sadly their shipping to Canada is super pricey.

In being transparent, I obviously own more clothing than what I present here and these pieces are just examples of what I rotate through during the week. But I do gravitate toward the same tops and bottoms each week with the outfits I put together. Because we experience 4 distinct seasons here, I rotate my clothing by season. Keeping things in capsule format has really helped with staying organized when I switch to a new season.

TOPS
BOTTOMS

Last summer I found these elastic waist shorts second hand, Old Navy brand. Their website has them on sale every summer and they are my #1 staple for a comfortable, casual summer short. I like to wear them at my natural waist and pair them with a crop top or tuck a shirt in. I have a few parts of my body I’d rather hide but I’m learning to embrace the cellulite, loose skin and jiggles. I’m especially self conscious about my arms so I’ve challenged myself to wear more tanks and strappy tops this summer. I’m trying to be nice to my body, she’s done a lot for me!

Here are some more outfit ideas that I put together (and usually wear) based on the tops/bottoms I rotate through each week.

I’m currently using the Urstyle App on my computer/iphone to put together these different outfit ideas. It takes some time to navigate but once you figure out how to use it, it can be really useful to give you new inspiration with the pieces of clothing you already have. The way that I use it is to select pieces as close to what I own and assemble outfits from those pieces. Since I use a capsule system it makes it a lot easier to know what I own/typically wear on a weekly basis. Every season when I pull out clothing, I will do a basic inventory of what I have, what fits and what I don’t want/need anymore. I always end up with a huge garbage bag to donate and a fresh perspective on what I have to work with.

Here are some more fun outfit ideas I put together!

I find Urstyle fun to work with though time consuming because the possibilities are endless! It’s a great tool to have and I especially love that it’s available as a smartphone app. I don’t make any money endorsing Urstyle, I just enjoy using it!

I can appreciate how my approach to clothing and style has changed over the years. I used to torture myself with uncomfortable pieces or I just didn’t know how to dress my body. Life is way too short to wear clothing you hate. Adapting to a capsule wardrobe can really help minimize the time and effort you put into what you wear while still making it enjoyable! What are some of your go to summer staples?

20 Hobbies and Skills To Learn Today!

Time. For some of us there never seems to be enough hours in the day but for many of us right now, it may seem there are too many hours in the day. If you find yourself struggling to the fill the day with constructive or interesting things to do, I’m here to help.

I’ve been thinking about how times like the current are always great for learning something new. Why not learn a new skill or hobby? While there is nothing wrong with binging Netflix, it can really help being productive to counteract feelings of depression or being stuck in your home. You might need to purchase materials for some of these so do your research before you commit to a huge project.

  1. Sew (When I finally learn to sew, this adorable pinafore apron will be my first project!)
  2. Crotchet (I may dig out my crotchet needles from college! This baby blanket project is so sweet!)
  3. Knit (though I have yet to learn how to knit, these slippers would be so fun to make!)
  4. Cross stitch (this might be a new hobby I try out soon! Amazon has tons of kits like this!)
  5. Quilt (A huge hobby to undertake but if you know someone who does it and can help you out, that might make it easier. Think of all the cozy things you could make!
  6. Whittle
  7. Woodburning (Woodburning kits are so easy to find on Amazon!)
  8. Can Your Own Food (up the ante using a pressure canner!)
  9. Learn to dehydrate food for your own snacks. We have this dehydrator and it’s great!
  10. Make your own jams and jellies. Once strawberries are in season, I’ll be making my own this summer!
  11. Perfect your baking skills. I just bought these adorable cookie cutters to make my own cheese crackers. My sons also love to use them with play dough. I just wash them in hot soapy water!
  12. Learn to fillet fish
  13. Learn how to make sushi
  14. Learn to paint with unusual mediums.
  15. Start a hydroponic garden (indoors). It’s never a bad idea to be able to grow your own food!
  16. Start a soil based indoor garden from seed and then transfer your seedlings to an outdoor garden once the weather warms up! A neighbour we had did this every year and saved herself so much time and money.
  17. Build something
  18. Sculpt with clay
  19. Learn photography. I bought my first Digital SLR secondhand and it was a great way to try something new without breaking the bank!
  20. Take an online course (Herbal Academy is currently offering courses at 50% OFF! There is a chance many other institutions are doing discounted courses at this time!) I started their introductory herbal course, it’s wonderful!

Take your new skills a step further a make something for a neighbour or someone in need. You don’t even have to see them to give it to them-just leave it on their doorstep.

It’s never a bad time to learn a new skill that might save you time and money in the future. Think about the Great Depression-an era that produced some incredibly innovative people because they had to learn to live with next to nothing.

What are some new skills or hobbies you’re interested in trying? I’d love to hear from you!

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Winter Capsule Wardrobe For The Work From Home Mama.

Season’s greetings ya’ll!

What a whirlwind of the past few months! In the last 6 months we’ve purchased our first home, moved, I’ve started my own childcare business and my maternal grandma recently passed away. The passing of my grandma has been a tough one emotionally these past few weeks as I live very far away from all of my immediate family. But I’m working through it and trying to process as each day comes.

I figured it was time to share my Winter Capsule Wardrobe! This time of year is always a toss up when it comes to weather where I live. In the past 5 years I’ve learned to be prepared for anything from ice, snow, rain and really mild days. My wardrobe stays pretty consistent from October until May every year but I definitely add some warmer layers come the winter months. I’m using the Urstyle and ShopLookIO website to create all of what I share in this blog post.

I don’t own the exact pieces I’m sharing but rather I choose items similar to what I own. This time of year I like functional, warm and comfy clothing not only because of the weather but because I take care of 3 babies/toddlers on a daily basis.

This will give you an idea of what I have hanging in my closet. I have about 7-9 tops I rotate through each week. I own more than 9 but consistently wear 9 of the same pieces. This year I’ve been loving turtlenecks, cowl necks and poncho type sweaters. Turtlenecks save me from having to put on a scarf when I go outside and provide extra warmth.

I know I’ve talked about it before but I don’t wear regular pants because ain’t nobody got time for that! I used to reside in the camp of, “Leggings are not pants.” Since I’ve had children and experienced an ever changing body, I’ve joined camp “LEGGINGS ARE LIFE.” I mean seriously, thank you Lord for whoever created spandex.

I do own a few pairs of jeans and overalls that occasionally make an appearance. But if I can help it, I’ll opt for more comfortable pants.

I keep shoes and outerwear pretty simple and practical. Heels and flimsy coats don’t really cut it when it’s an ice storm and -27 degrees out. Usually -27 means I’m staying INSIDE with a cup of hot coffee and warm slippers on.

My everyday “style” probably isn’t much of style because I’m home 95% of the time. But the rare time I go out on a date with my husband or we make it to church, I like to dress things up a bit. I had a little fun creating some outfits I would typically put together for those occasions!


Definitely check out the Urstyle and ShopLookIO websites if you enjoy putting together outfits for inspiration. I love utilizing what I have in my closet as well as thrifting to come up with some cute and comfy styles for the winter season. Winter can be a difficult season for me personally as it can be for many people. The combination of feeling stuck inside, lack of sunshine and long winter months can contribute to depression and/or anxiety. While it may seem like a little thing, putting together things I enjoy wearing can help combat those feelings during this season. Instead of just staying in my pj’s, I’m more motivated if I get up and put something on that I love wearing!

What’s winter like where you live? I’d love to see/hear about some of your winter style in the comment section below! Thanks for stopping by!

Essential Oils: What’s All The Hype?

Essential oils!

There is SO much information out in the world today regarding essential oils and how to use them. So if you’re new to oils or have been using them but feel limited in your knowledge, where do you even start?

Disclaimer: I am not a certified Aromatherapist nor do I sell essential oils. My experience with oils has been based solely on personal research as well as trial and error. Please do not take anything on my blog as certified medical advice. If you use oils based on my posts, you do so at your own risk and I’m not responsible for any injury resulting from improper use.

In this blog post I’m going to share some thoughts on essential oil use, contradictions and precautions based on my own personal experience. I’m sharing this because of messages and questions I’ve been getting on my social media about what oils I sell or use. (I don’t sell fyi.) I don’t claim to be an expert and you can take or leave my personally expressed views. I’m just sharing information in response to questions I’ve been getting =)

It can be really overwhelming when you dive into the world of essential oils because even just choosing a brand plunges you into pool of strong opinion, controversy and conflicting information.

Choosing Oils.

When it comes to choosing a specific brand of essential oils I base my choices on a few things:

  • Personal Recommendation of people whose opinions I trust and/or Certified Aromatherapists
  • Affordability
  • My own research, reading and educating myself
  • Trial and Error
  • Personal preference for how my family and I react to oils

There is an incredible amount of conflicting information about what companies claim regarding their oils, the quality, the transparency of the company and more. It’s literally a black hole of information. How do you know whose oils are quality? How do you pick the company you want to support? Not all oils are created equal. Some are diluted with water and other chemicals. Cheap doesn’t mean great nor does super expensive mean great. Every batch of oils also varies which is why one company’s Lavender may smell different than another’s. More on common myths and misconceptions of oils here.

I personally avoid purchasing certain types of oils. Often, some oils are more pricey than others (rose absolute vs. lavender) due to the scarcity of the source or the work involved in the production process. ( source ) I want to do my part in preserving SOME of our natural resources in the world. That’s just a personal preference not a mantra, ya’ll.

Do your own personal research. Make an informed decision. Ask questions of people you trust. Talk to a Certified Aromatherapist for an expert opinion. It doesn’t have to be complicated! Check out this article by a Certified Aromatherapist on how she chooses her oils! She shares some great information and perspective, based on her education and knowledge of essential oils as a professional.

Precautions With Oils.

Ok, so this is where the topic can get a little controversial for people based on their personal views of oil usage. A few years ago, as I was traveling along my oily journey I started seeing other fellow oily people promote things like ingesting oils and/or using oils neat.

Ingesting oils means a person is taking that oil orally in an undiluted form, typically in water. Using an oil neat means they are putting the oil directly onto their skin undiluted.

The potency of oils makes this big deal!

“Essential Oils contain very concentrated properties of the herb or plant they are derived from. A very small amount of EOs often has the qualities of many cups of herbal tea from the same plant. For instance, one drop of peppermint essential oil is equivalent to 26-28 cups of peppermint tea. This isn’t to say essential oils should not be used, but they should be used carefully, with proper education and in safe amounts. If you wouldn’t ingest dozens of cups of an herbal tea, you should probably think twice before consuming the equivalent amount of essential oils.

https://wellnessmama.com/26519/essential-oils-risks/

I’ll be honest. I’m strongly against the ingestion of essential oils unless you are under the direct supervision of a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist. So if you see someone recommending this type of usage, I’d check out their credentials before following their advice.

Robert Tisserand talks about possible allergic reactions to improper usage of essential oils here. Did you know you can experience sensitization from the overuse of oils? Too much of a good thing really can be bad!

“The word “sensitization” is often misunderstood. It’s sometimes used as if it was a distinct category of adverse reaction – it isn’t – and it’s sometimes used as a synonym for an allergic skin reaction. This second use of the word does make sense, but really “sensitization” describes the priming of the immune system that subsequently leads to an allergic reaction. So it’s part of the process.”

https://tisserandinstitute.org/safety/irritation-allergic-reactions/

I see this a lot and it concerns me. I cringe, to be honest. Let me ask you. Would you use the same herbal supplement over and over, multiple times a day, every day? Not necessarily. It would/could make you sick, at some point because of overuse. “Natural” does not mean it can’t be “toxic.”

From a personal standpoint when I’m thinking about how I approach holistic health and using natural alternatives, I have a variety of things in my arsenal and I don’t use essential oils every day, for everything. I like to switch things up. I don’t believe that essential oils are the only way to good health. I think it’s a combination of things like:

  • Proper nutrition
  • Restful sleep patterns/habits
  • Minimizing Stress
  • Adequate Exercise
  • Proper Supplements
  • Naturopathic and Chiropractic Care
  • Essential Oils
  • Herbal Remedies (tinctures, salves, steams, teas etc.)

There are many more things I could add but these are some of the ways we practice holistic health in our home.

I also take GREAT precaution in the way I use oils around my children. I have spent many hours researching the appropriate amount of dilution, diffusion and application for usage around my children. This is why I personally feel safe using Plant Therapy’s Kidsafe line which was formulated with Robert Tisserand. I trust their standards and quality as well as their safety precautions when using their oils with or around children.

Selling Oils.

I’m often asked if I sell oils or why I don’t sell oils since I use them. This can be a touchy subject. I personally do not want to sell oils. It’s simply not something I want to do. I’ve been approached many times, typically people who I don’t know, through my social media. I’m never rude about it when I decline. And I don’t think it’s wrong that they’ve chosen to do it. Good for them choosing healthy alternatives and making some extra money doing it!

There are a few GREAT essential oil companies not just ONE. You get to choose, based on your own research, who you want to purchase from so don’t feel pressured to buy an oil from a company just because someone tells you it’s the BEST or because it’s pricey. Educate yourself.

There is a huge difference in being a personal consumer who advocates for essential oil usage and being a certified, licensed, educated professional. Take that into consideration with your research.

In closing, I want to say that I’m still learning as I go. You don’t need a certification to personally use essential oils although certification can certainly enhance your knowledge and usage. You can research and inform yourself with the wealth of information available for FREE today. Some great resources to start with:

If you’re going to advocate for the usage of oils in certain ways to a large audience and following, I would hope that you are certified and professionally educated for the purpose of safety and responsibility of other consumers. Just my personal views on the subject, feel free to disagree. I won’t be offended, ya’ll!

I hope you’ve found some useful information here and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Fall Capsule Wardrobe (For Stay At Home Mamas)

About a week ago (the first day of September to be exact) I woke up to rain, cool temperatures and falling LEAVES.

While it’s not officially autumn according to the seasonal calendar, it’s official IN MY HEART. We still have a few warm days coming but FALL I AM READY FOR YOU.

The pieces in this post can still work even if you aren’t a stay at home mom. If you’re someone who doesn’t need to dress up for a job outside the home but can wear comfy, casual clothing-keep reading!

I’ve stepped up my game, using a clothing styling app called Urstyle. You can select from essentially millions of clothing, shoe and accessory items to create and style a clothing board. It takes a little skill to use the app efficiently but they provide youtube videos to help! You can use the website from your computer (which I prefer) or from the app on your phone.

If you don’t have a capsule wardrobe yet but are interested in putting one together, Urstyle is a fantastic tool to help you do that. Keep in mind (as with the pieces I’m posting) I don’t own these EXACT pieces in the sets I’m sharing. The app links you to buying that item directly. I choose items very similar to what I already own. *Check the bottom of the post for a direct link to the entire wardrobe I assembled for pieces and prices.

I buy almost everything second hand because 1)It’s affordable and 2) It’s sustainable.

Let’s chat FIT. I am 5’1” and around 150 pounds. I carry most of my weight in my belly. I wear leggings pulled up past my belly button and all my jeans have an element of stretch to them. I wear soft, slightly dense materials that hang nicely but don’t overwhelm my body. High waisted pants do not compliment my shape so I wear flowy shirts or sweaters over leggings. If I wear a more fitted top with jeans or leggings, I offset that top with a cropped jacket, something I’ll share an example of below. I can’t rock showing my belly with crop tops and all that, just not my thing.

Let’s jump in and start with BOTTOMS. I own more than what is shown. I own 4 pairs of stretchy black pants/leggings, 2 pairs of grey leggings, 2 pairs of jeans (one skinny fit, one straight leg) and 2 sets of overalls, one light wash and one dark wash. That’s still 10 pieces which I find to be more than enough for me to work with. George brand leggings from Walmart are my favourite leggings right now, not see through but not stifling. My overalls are from Bluenotes (Canada) and my jeans are from Gap.

Can I get a holla for thrifting?! I stick with BASIC colours. I don’t know the exact # of tops that I own currently but I rotate through about 10 of the same tops. If you’re building a capsule wardrobe aim for something similar to the picture. There are 9 tops shown here 7 of which are enough to get you through the week. Start there! For brands I own a lot of Gap, Old Navy and H&M. I find these brands to specifically offer soft materials, a comfy fit and neutral colours.

In Canada where the weather varies, especially during the season of Fall. I don’t like being cold, wet or overly hot so I make sure I have a variety of jackets! Jackets can also be a key item that changes up an outfit. Another reason I like having a few different but functional styles of jackets.

Shoes don’t have to be numerous or complicated. I avoid heels and impractical shoes, especially during the colder months. If you’re a mama, you understand the need for a good slip on tennis shoe. The 3 shoes I wear the most during fall at my Timberland knit sneakers, Naturalizer slip ons and of course, my Blundies! I typically don’t find shoes while thrifting and it’s the one item I don’t mind investing in.

So as a mama of two BABIES I don’t really find accessories practical for my lifestyle right now. I rarely carry a purse and typically carry backpack style diaper bags. Sunglasses, a ball cap, knit cap or scarf would be the other accessories I reach for during fall. I also like a good, giant tote bag! If you are a messy bun wearing type of girl and haven’t tried THIS hat….you should check it out.

Here are some outfits I put together for some ideas! I don’t get too fancy but cute and comfy works well for me!

If you click the picture below of the full capsule wardrobe it will take you to the website with links to all the clothing items.

So there you have it! Whew! A labour of love for you guys. I don’t think of myself as a fashionista or even trendy. I aim for being comfy, cozy and maybe cute sometimes. A capsule wardrobe doesn’t have to be difficult to put together but it does take time. I started minimizing my clothing 5 years ago and finally feel like it’s becoming what I’ve wanted. When I realized that I was wearing the same items all the time, it made sense to minimize my clothing. Hopefully I’ve helped you gather some ideas to put together a cute but functional and comfortable fall wardrobe!

Do you work with a capsule wardrobe? What would you call your style? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Summer Capsule Wardrobe For Stay At Home Mamas. (And some thoughts on body image)

It’s the middle of August and dare I say that I’m kinda OVER summer?

I live in Ontario, Canada where our longest season is winter so it almost feels sacrilegious to say this. But deep down inside, I love fall the most of all.

See, I even get a little poetic about it. My heart actually beats a little faster when I think about the season of fall and all that it entails. ESPECIALLY this year as we just bought our first home and we’re moving in, just in time FOR FALL!

Ok, I digress.

If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that in terms of clothing, I work with a capsule wardrobe. This means I have minimal pieces that I use in a variety of ways to maximize the clothing I already have. Every item (except my Birks) I share today is completely thrifted.

I already did a Spring Capsule Wardrobe where you can check out here. Spring and Fall are transitional seasons for me, in terms of what I wear. In the fall I’m getting ready for winter so I gradually transition to warmer pieces and in the Spring I’m coming out of heavy, thick and warm pieces as the warmer weather arrives. Summer gets to be all by herself because it’s a fairly distinctive season here.

In the past few years my body has changed, a lot. When I entered my 30’s I noticed that my skin elasticity said, “SEE YA LATER B!”. Currently, I comfortably wear a size 9/10 in bottoms and M/L in tops. I’m currently a stay at home mom full time. I also (TMI) have psoriasis in my thigh/groin area that flares up badly during the summer season, so COMFORT is key with what I wear. I don’t like to sweat more than I have to, have my thighs rub together (no booty shorts!) I don’t like wedgies from tight bottoms (who does?) and I don’t want to feel like my boobs are going to spill out at any given moment.

When I’m building up my wardrobe for the season, I keep things simple. I’m drawn towards neutral colours with maybe one to two prints thrown in. I stick with white, grey, black, browns and burgundy. I choose pieces that are not complicated, fit loosely and (hopefully) flatter my body shape. I rotate through the same 5-10 shirts a week. I have 3 different white tanks, two black tanks, one grey, two prints, and two coloured tanks. I have 4 pairs of shorts I also rotate through.

I like pieces that I’m able to use multiple times during the week because I don’t have a lot of time in the mornings to build an outfit. I’ve learned the art of things like tucking tops in with draw string shorts. Comfy and simple! If you don’t have a pair of Old Navy’s drawstring shorts, you should get yourself some ASAP. MOM uniform!

I keep my shoes simple and honestly, I wear my Birkenstocks 99% of the time. I have two other pairs of dressier summer shoes that I rarely wear because, I just don’t “dress up” that much. The shoes I have are neutral and can go with pretty much anything, which maximizes their usage. I don’t like having sweaty, sore feet so I aim for maximum comfort without looking like an 80 year old grandma wearing loafers. Although, I’ve seen some weird sequin loafers floating around. New fashion trend?

I’ve been challenging myself to branch out and put together outfits that I feel cute in, though still comfortable. My body has changed so much in the past two years that it has been HARD to accept who I see in the mirror sometimes.

Her thighs touch, rub and chafe. Her arms jiggle with cellulite. Her belly folds down in multiple rolls when she sits and sometimes spills over depending on the jeans she’s wearing. But this same body has lovingly carried and grown two babies in less than two years. She’s made milk and dried up milk and done it again. She bears stretch marks as sign of love and change. I’m learning to love her again, you know? She’s always loved me!

I’m learning to be kind to myself and give myself grace after all my body has been through in the recent years. I think our society mixes up “grace” with “excuses.” I have really pushed back against that mentality that motherhood is an excuse to not care about your body or that we use our children as an excuse not to achieve a certain level of fitness or appearance. That simply isn’t true, for me. I recognize that every person is motivated differently to do things with their bodies. Peak fitness might be a motivation for some and watching Netflix during nap time might be another mom’s choice. Whatever our choices, we aren’t lacking.

Do you what you have to (and want to) do, to accept the body that has always loved you, never left you and is still waiting for you.

I hope you enjoy this! I’m no fashionista or photographer. Just a stay at home mom sharing her everyday, normal coffee loving life.