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!

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!

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.

When You Rent Your Living Space.

I sighed as I surveyed the path directly in front of our porch. There were SO many weeds.

As I began to pull the weeds that had grown between the spaces of cement blocks, I realized most of these weeds were not going to give up their residence so easily. While it was a cool summer evening, I soon found myself sweating.

It struck me. These weeds had made themselves a home in the most unlikely of places. They had embedded themselves in the cracks in the asphalt, between the spaces in the cement blocks and even out the sides of the steps on our porch. I was amazed at how I couldn’t even get to the root system of these plants, they were entangled so deeply.

My husband and I have been renters our entire 5 years of marriage. We’ve lived in basement apartments for the majority of our marriage and then finally on the main floor of a bungalow with renters below us.

I’ve learned a few things along the way. A physical house (apartment, condo, townhouse or room) does not make a home. Things do not equate to happiness. Money does not bring contentment. There is a lot of societal pressure to own a home. I’ve been told that it’s a waste to pay rent rather than put that money towards a mortgage. When I was pregnant with my first son, I was asked a few times if my husband and I were going to buy a home and I had to laugh at the thought of such a expensive baby shower gift!

Whatever the situation or reason for renting or buying, there can often be the struggle with being content with the season of life you are in. I want to share 4 things that have helped me make my house more than just a building I rent, when I’ve struggled with contentment.

  • Decorate. Something as simple as paint or hanging pictures on the wall can go a long way in making you feel “at home.” I keep our home decor simple but I aim to put things around me that I find aesthetically pleasing and calming. We’ve invested in furniture that is comfortable and functional. Cut the grass, trim the hedge and plant some flowers! Do things that make your space feel “homey.” I anticipate fall every year, because it is my most favourite time of year to pull out my fall decor, bake apple crumble and put pumpkins on the front steps. Decorating doesn’t have to be expensive as there are so many second hand things you can repurpose. 99% of my home decor is repurposed or handmade!
  • Minimize the clutter and clean things up! We are always in the process of minimizing our possessions. Having less to clean up and organize makes our home feel fresh. It also gives us more time to spend together as a family.
  • Practice Hospitality. I am not great at hospitality. I don’t clap my hands at the thought of entertaining and I’ll admit, I don’t do it often in this season of having babies. BUT it’s something I’m growing and being stretched in. I think something happens when you invite people into the space you live and take the time to make them feel welcome. You begin to take pride in your surroundings and become intentional in sharing your home.
  • Adjust your perspective. This takes time-trust me, I know. I’ve gone through seasons of hating places we’ve lived in. I made myself miserable and no one was to blame except ME. It’s a process but set little goals for yourself to do things that will bring about a more positive mindset. Prayer for a grateful heart has gone a long way in helping change my perspective.

As I was pulling those weeds the other night, I had the realization that I have a choice. I can choose to take no pride in where I live. I could cringe when I’m asked if we own our home. I could apologize for my modest, small brick rental when friends come to visit.

Or I could choose be like those weeds. Practically speaking, weeds aren’t great. Metaphorically I want to be like a weed, right where I’m at. I can choose to set my roots deeply and firmly in this season. I can choose to make a home exactly where I’m at. I can choose to take be a good steward of what I have, right now.

For every time I sweep my front porch, shovel snow off the path, clean my tiny bathroom or hear the old hardwood floors creak obnoxiously in my bedroom-I can welcome the warmth of gratitude.

I have gratitude for this house being the place where I brought BOTH my babies home. Gratitude for this home being the place where we became a family of 3 and then 4. Gratitude for my sweet friend who lives nearby and can walk to my home with her little boy for visits. Gratitude for living close to relatives. Gratitude that my husband doesn’t have to commute long distances to work. Gratitude for the view out my front window of the beautiful trees that change colour every fall.

Where we live and what we have (or do not have) does not have to determine our measure of joy in this life. I reckon if I can not learn to find joy where I’m at now, then I never will. Its a process, my friends!

At the end of the day, who is beside me matters so much more than where I’m living. My family has made this house a home. If you find yourself struggling with your living situation, I hope this encourages you to embrace and make the most of what you’ve been entrusted with. You won’t regret it!

Do you rent? What are some things you’ve done to make your place feel more like home?

10 Ways To Reduce Your Waste And Save Money. (#3 Might Gross You Out)

If you talk to your grandparents (or great grandparents if they’re living) you would probably find that the practice of things like cloth diapers, composting and reusable grocery bags were a normal part of their everyday lives.

Everyone is talking about Zero Waste living right now like it’s some innovative concept but it’s not. I love intentionally choosing ways to cut down on waste. I think it’s important to be conscious of excess but I have to be honest in that I’ll never be a Zero Waster. I believe that waste is unavoidable.

The answer is more complex than this though because things like monetary status, economics, and personal beliefs are going to individually impact the way we all view a zero waste lifestyle. What I’m learning is to do what I can with what I have.

So on my journey to cut down on our waste as a family, I’ve found Low Waste Living to be a much more practical approach. It’s not so extreme as much as it’s a thoughtful and intentional approach to reducing waste.

Here are 10 ways we are currently working on low waste living, in our home:

  • Cloth Diapers. If you’ve been following my blog for a bit, you know I cloth diaper about 90% of the time. The boys are in cloth diapers excluding nighttime and weekends. This has significantly reduced our garbage while saving us money! Something that really helps is that the city actually limits how much garbage each household can have. We’re allowed 2 large garage bags per family twice a month. We don’t have garbage pickup every week so that has really motivated us to use less disposable diapers. I don’t really enjoy having garbage bags full of stinky diapers sitting around for 2 weeks. Yuck! You can read more about my use of cloth diapers here.

  • Cloth Wipes. Along with cloth diapers, I try to use cloth wipes as much as possible for a few reasons. Our garbage is less when we use cloth wipes. I also find that they work 20x better than disposable wipes when it comes to cleaning baby bums. I use these baby wash cloths as cloth wipes. Check back here for an easy, non toxic baby bum wash that I’ll be sharing!

  • Family Cloth (reusable toilet paper). This is the most recent change we’ve made in our home. When I asked my husband if he wanted to switch to reusable toilet paper he surprised me by saying YES! Without going into great detail, I’ll just say that reusable toilet paper is 100x better at keeping things clean than disposable. Once we’ve spent a little more time using it, I’ll write a solid review! I’m no stranger to trying weird things.
  • Reusable Hygiene Products: I use cloth pads and a diva cup. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and can’t imagine going back! You can read more about that here.
  • No Plastic Shopping Bags: Using my own shopping bags (and produce bags) has become second nature. I just started taking my own containers to our local bulk bin store for things like honey, oats, pasta and more! It’s amazing how easy the switch can be with an adjusted mindset. My mother in law made me some reusable produce bags from repurposed sheer curtains, similar to these! I’m hoping to eventually sew my own snack bags, like these. If you’re handy with a sewing machine put your skills to use!

  • Unpaper Towels and Cloth Napkins. We now use microfibre cloths in place of paper towels. My initial reason for switching wasn’t actually motivated by wanting to reduce our waste. It was because I found these microfibre cloths to be much better at cleaning up messes. Since this pack comes with 3 different colours, it’s easy to assign a specific colour to a job. I use these for everything from wiping down household surfaces to wiping down babies faces. I also like these cloth napkins. I’m still figuring out to wash them and keep them nice but they get the job done, regardless.
  • Eating Leftovers, Smaller Portion Sizes and Composting. THIS is a tough one because it’s easy to justify throwing out moldy food. What I’m working on is cooking smaller portion sizes and having us eat leftovers a few times a week. When that isn’t possible, we compost. Invest in some reusable freezer storage bags to cut down on plastic bag waste.
  • Clothesline and rack drying: My husband strung up a simple clothesline for me between two trees in our backyard. I also have something similar to this drying rack.
  • Buying Second Hand: As much as possible we try to thrift items in our home. We also work on purging once a month and donating what we don’t use back to local second hand stores. Our garage is a work in progress. It’s easy to keep junk when you don’t see it! Check out my post here for tips on buying second hand clothing.
  • Refillable Water Cooler: So, I’m kinda weird about how my water tastes. A few years ago we asked for a water cool for Christmas from our family and it’s been one of my favourite gifts we’ve ever received. It’s similar to this one. About every week or so my husband goes to our local water refill station and for about $8 he fills 3 huge (reusable) jugs (I don’t know how big they are honestly) and brings them home. Our water from the refill station is free from nasty things like fluoride, so that’s a bonus too.

There are so many great ways to practically reduce your family’s waste output. These are just some of the things we are currently practicing. You can save money and simplify your things by implementing a low waste lifestyle. What are some ways you reduce your waste? I’d love to hear from you!

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11 Frugal Ways To Cut Back On Living Costs

I have a problem.

It’s called Amazon Prime.

I mean, who doesn’t want 2 day shipping, guaranteed? Well sometimes it’s not guaranteed because we have this thing called WINTER in Canada.

Being able to shop for groceries online and have them delivered to your house sounds pretty amazing, right? I’ve never tried it but I was tempted to when my second baby was born, 7 months ago. When you haven’t showered in 5 days and you’re too tired to even put regular clothing on, having groceries delivered sounds like a dream come true.

Convenience is what motivates many of us to make the purchases that we do. But you know what isn’t convenient?

Debt.

I think the majority of people my age, that I personally know have some form of debt whether that be student loans, a mortgage or credit card debt. I have mixed feelings about debt. I think it’s inevitable at some point in your life that you will have some form of debt.

I’m all about finding ways to cut down our our expenses as we have financial goals set for our family. Amazon Prime doesn’t align with my goals of being frugal and owning a home one day. Curse you Amazon Prime!

But I want to share ways we cut back on our spending.

  • Limit or eliminate Eating At Restaurants or Takeout : Why does food always taste better when someone else prepares and cooks it? Seriously. It could be a hotdog someone else microwaved and I’m all over it. Buying lunch usually costs $10 plus a $3 coffee a day (or more if you’re fancy) which adds up to $65 a week alone. If you factor in eating dinner out, a few times a week that’s easily another $50 or so. You could be saving $300 (or more) by limiting take out and packing your own meals.
  • Cook More and Buy Less Packaged (and processed) Foods: Sometimes I enjoy cooking but most of the time I only enjoy it if my husband and I are cooking together. One thing I’ve noticed with our grocery bills is the difference in what we spend when we buy less packaged, processed foods. Packaged is easier, no doubt about it! But it’s also more expensive because it’s convenient. I try to set myself up for success with very simple meals because it’s a generally chaotic time of the day. The more you cook, the healthier meals tend to be, as well. We do NOT eat organic, Keto or paleo. We have no allergies. I Have thoughts on the whole organic thing but that is a post for another day! If eating organic is extremely important to you but you have a tight budget then you will have to adjust your spending and other areas so that you can have a more flexible grocery budget
  • Have A Grocery Budget (and stick to it). When Dave and I first married, we spent about $50 in groceries a week, sometimes less. Since then we’ve fluctuated in what we spend on groceries. Recently I’ve reset our weekly budget because it was OUT OF CONTROL and I’m amazed at how little we can spend if we try. I challenge myself to do a few meatless meals a week, cook with all the meat I already have (in the freezer) and get creative with leftovers. Our budget isn’t $50 a week anymore, partly because we have a baby who drinks formula. But with some tweaking here and there we can typically eat within a budget of $65 to $80 right now, including formula.
  • Buy In Bulk. Speaking of Costco! It might be worth it to consider a Sam’s Club or Costco membership. In Canada a Costco (gold) membership costs $60 per year or $5 a month. You could easily split that cost in half and share with someone else in your family or even a friend. It’s easy to overspend at Costco if you don’t plan ahead. We typically purchase diapers, wipes, toilet paper and paper towels at Costco, once a month.
  • Shop Secondhand (especially for kids): I switched over to purchasing second clothing around the time I was getting married. I watched a documentary about the negative impact fast fashion is having on our world, today. It changed the way I went about purchasing most things. 90% of the clothing we wear as a family is second hand. I’m not a name brand person to begin with but surprisingly you can find some great brands when shopping second hand. So my 7 month old is a few pounds behind his 21 month old brother. Buying new clothing for him would be like lighting my money on fire. I have this mentality with all baby gear and things in our home as well. If I can find it second hand and repurpose it (if it needs it) then I’m going to do it. You can read more about my tips on buying second hand here.
cloth diapers
  • Invest in Reusable, Low or Zero Waste Products: We spend less than $60 a month on diapers. That is because we mostly cloth diaper. It’s fortunate for us that currently, the boys wear the same size diaper. My 7 month old and 21 month old wear the same size diaper! One box of Kirkland’s and one box of Huggies overnights gets us through the month, with 2 weeks worth of Kirkland’s leftover. Cloth diapers has saved us SO MUCH! And if you think we spend a ton on hydro/water from washing them all the time, read THIS. I also use reusable sanitary products which you can read more about here. We bring our reusable grocery and produce bags to the store.
  • Cut Down On Your Utilities. While utilities is included in the cost of our rent, we try to practice being smart with how/when we use our water and electricity because one day we will pay for these things. Where I live in Canada, they have on and off peak times of hydro/water usage. This means that you are charged more on your usage depending on what time of day/day of the week it is. As much as possible, We try to do laundry, shower and run the dishwasher during off peak times. Even with having cloth diapers to wash, I’m only washing them twice a week. Since my husband is in HVAC, he makes sure that the AC/Furnace are running efficiently. He changes out the filter and we close windows when we are running the air or heat. You could open windows for air circulation during the day, turn off lights when not in use and unplug appliances. Reuse dishwater for watering plants etc.
  • Do It Yourself: I am a HUGE fan of DIY. Most people probably think arts and crafts when it comes to DIY. But DIY can apply to so many things in life. It’s kinda scary how dependant we’ve become on others, to do things for us as a society. I’m wary of paying others to do everything for me. It’s good to have some SKILLS, am I right? I’m not very good with power tools but I’m letting my husband teach me. We’ve made all the decor in our home. I’m taking sewing classes this fall and we grow a garden every year. We learned how to can from my husband’s grandfather and we started experimenting with dehydrating different foods a few summers ago. My husband and I both grew up with fathers who were handy so naturally, it’s simple logic for us to learn to do certain things for ourselves. My husband is also in the trades so he’s extremely skilled with tools. We initially took our oldest son to a hairdresser for his first haircut but going forward, I’ll just cut it with my husband’s clippers. I know someone who does hair out of her apartment so I get my hair done (cut and highlights) at half the cost of what I used to pay in a salon. I LOVE a good shellac pedicure but I have a bag full of nail polish that I can use to paint my toenails for FREE.
  • Take Care Of What You Already Have: You might be wondering how this saves you money? I think it’s pretty simple but if you take good care of what you already own, the chances of it breaking and needing to be replaced are less likely. Inevitably there are things in life that will need replacing. But how much money do we waste because we are careless? My husband is in a field of work that places him inside people’s homes. He has seen everything you can imagine. He said what frustrates him is to see how people do not maintain their homes. A home is easily the largest investment of a person’s life. Why wouldn’t you take care of it? We don’t own a home yet but you can imagine that we’ve learned a lot about what not to do from the things my husband has seen. I think it’s important to note here that not everything can be done yourself. Sometimes you need to hire an expert so you don’t try to fix something way beyond your skill set.
  • Have One Car, Walk or Take Public Transit: Apart from a few months when we first married and then 1.5 years when my husband had a job with a work truck, we’ve only ever had one car. Right now he works really close to home and I am able to walk where I need to. Driving places with two babies kinda gives me anxiety right now so one car works well for us but it’s also a mindset. Do I HAVE to go somewhere every day? I usually spend money if I do. Having one car means you are paying less in terms of gas, insurance and car payment (or even LESS if you owe nothing on your car). It’s not always easy during the winter time to have one car but in the past I have driven my husband to work if I needed the car that day. During the summer I walk everywhere with the boys. We are fortunate to live in an area where parks, community centres and grocery stores are within walking distance. My dad takes public transit EVERY day into the city of San Diego. He enjoys his commute for the most part and it’s saving him a fortune in gas!
  • Live In A Place You Can Afford. This is unique to each family based on location, income and financial responsibilities. We currently rent because it’s what fits our budget at this time while we have other financial obligations to resolve before we can take on the cost of a mortgage. The cost of living is quite high, where we live. It could change at some point but we’ve lived the majority of our marriage in basement apartments and always in a shared dwelling place. This means that to some degree where we’ve lived, we’ve had to share the building with another person or family. Do I always LOVE it? Nope. Is it what works for us? Yes! When I really struggle with my perspective in this area, I try to remember that I get to be home with my babies every day for the next few years or longer. I’m so grateful and I wouldn’t trade that for the world even if it means that owning our own home is awhile away for us.

We are a single income family and we’ve been a single income family the majority of our marriage. I’m sure someone could say, “Just get a job, Sarah.” Thanks but I already have one. I’m raising my kids! And that’s not to say that a mom who works another job outside the home isn’t raising her kids. But where we live the cost of childcare would make going back to work completely pointless, for what I would earn. One income is what we’ve learned to live on. It takes discipline and perspective to live this way and we aren’t perfect at it. I think it’s taught us a lot about what we need versus what we want. It’s also fast tracking us to resolving financial obligations and having more freedom with our hard earned money!

What are ways that you cut down on the cost of living and save in your home? I’d love to hear from you!

Cloth Diapers On A Budget

Once upon a time, long Ago sweet little babies crawled around, their squishy bums covered in cloth.

Actually, not too long ago cloth diapers were the norm in society and not the trendy luxury that everyone seems to think they are today. In 1948 Johnson and Johnson introduced the first mask-marketed disposable diaper in the U.S. (source)

So less than 80 years ago the majority of babies were wearing cloth and only cloth.

By the year 2006 American babies were wearing 3.6 million TONS of disposable diapers, making of 2.6% of municipal waste. (source)

Typically when cloth diapering comes up in conversation the first thing someone will say to me is, “Wow! I wanted to cloth diaper but I just couldn’t commit to it.” Cost and laundry are usually the top two reasons why most mamas feel overwhelmed by cloth diapers.

Cloth diapers don’t have to break the bank! Don’t believe me? Let me walk you through it.

When I decided to cloth diaper I only knew what little I had been exposed to. You can read more about that here. When I shared that I wanted to cloth diaper with other people, I was met with skepticism. I was told it was expensive and would only add unnecessary work to my already overwhelming role as a new mom.

I didn’t set out to prove anyone wrong. But I knew I had to be smart about the cost part of it and the work part of it, well I wasn’t afraid of a little extra work. Which by the way is A HUGE misconception when it comes to cloth diapers. By the time I was pregnant we were a one income family, living in a 600 square foot basement apartment. We didn’t have extra money to throw around. How was I going to afford a bundle of cloth for my sweet baby?????

  • Buy Used (Secondhand). Buying used DIAPERS? Gross! Actually, it’s not. Most cloth mamas treat their cloth diapers like another child, especially if they bought them brand new. You can find SCADS of secondhand diapers at a fraction of the cost literally all over the Internet. Facebook marketplace is great place to start. If you live in Canada, Kijiji is also a great resource for finding secondhand diapers. If you are looking for the most budget friendly secondhand cloth diapers, FB Marketplace and Kijiji are your best bet. You can usually haggle with people who are trying to sell of parts of a stash. Sometimes a mama will even be selling wet bags, diaper pail and sprayer as part of her stash!

Cloth Diaper Trader is a HUGE resource for finding consigned cloth diapers.

Nicki’s Diapers has really great standards as far as what they sell. Check them out!

  • Shop Deals and Promotions. I recently (and for the first time) purchased new Kawaii Baby diapers through this deal on Amazon. I now receive monthly emails about discounts, deals and promotions that this brand is offering. Brands will also discontinue different styles and put them on clearance. If you keep tabs on your favourite brands, you might be able to snag a deal when something goes on sale!
  • Become a Brand Ambassador. While I’ve never done this during my cloth diaper journey, I’ve seen plenty of moms across the internet who have. A brand ambassador is someone that a company will send diapers to, to try out and review. This usually means that you can get diapers for free or at a major discount. The downside to being a brand ambassador means that you need a website or blog with high traffic. The whole point is that the company is getting free advertising in exchange for letting you try out their diapers.
  • Put cloth diapers on your baby registry! I WISH I had thought of this but it never occurred to me until after the fact. You can score almost everything you need by registering for your stash before you even have your baby.
  • Inherit diapers. My sister gave me a garbage bag full of cloth diapers and it really boosted my stash! If you know a friend or family member who isn’t going to resell or has had used diapers for a long time and wants to just get them gone-try asking. You might be surprised!

Cost Breakdown: New VS Used.

If you are new to cloth, you might be asking yourself how could they possibly cost so much? That all depends on how you go about it. If you MUST have high end, brand new, organic diapers you are going to spend anywhere from $500 to $900 for a stash. For example:

The Charlie Banana brand of diapers sells 3 brand new diapers with 6 organic inserts at the price of $112 CAD. If you are diapering from birth, you’ll need at LEAST 12 diapers a day (and be washing every night) to have enough. That’s a cost of about $350 for 12 diapers (with inserts) or over $37 per diaper. If you go with a budget friendly brand like Kawaii Baby (my FAV!) you are looking at $7 to $12 CAD per diaper with or without inserts, depending on the style. That’s an incredibly GREAT deal at $84 CAD for 12 diapers. But even $84 can feel like a lot when you are on a really tight budget.

When I first started my stash I spent a total of about $180 on everything. I had about 30 pocket diapers with 2 inserts, cloth wipes (given to me for free), 2 brand new wet bags at $15 for both, $50 diaper sprayer, $2 gloves, and 2 buckets ($5) for dirty diapers. If you break down the cost, I spent about $3.60 per diaper including inserts.

I was given more diapers from my sister after she didn’t need them anymore. I’ve resold almost ALL the secondhand diapers I started out with. This enabled me to purchase BRAND NEW diapers this past Christmas. YAY! I now have a total 24 pocket diapers with 2 inserts each, for my boys. I typically wash twice a week. We use cloth Monday through Friday, during the day. We use disposables nights and weekends.

Budget Friendly New Cloth Diapers:

If you aren’t keen on secondhand diapers you can still purchase brand new diapers that are budget friendly. You are still going to spend more than if you bought secondhand but these are the two most affordable brands I’ve seen that I can reccommend.

In conclusion, I’m PRO secondhand diapers all the way. Why? Because it’s the most affordable option when you are starting out. You can also try so many different styles of diapers when you buy secondhand because the cost gives you more freedom. That is how I figured out what brand, style and fit I liked the most and why I eventually purchased brand-new from this company. Cloth diapers don’t have to be a luxury thing. It’s the same way I think about unmedicated birth, midwives, doulas and home birth. Women have been doing these things for ages!

Do you cloth diaper and have you ever tried doing it on a tight budget? I’d love to hear your best tips and tricks!