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!

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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7 Tips For A Tidy Home

The other day I caught my toddler walking around the house with a mouthful of chewed up cat kibble.

A few days after that, my cat decided to projectile vomit all over the dining room floor. When I was a little girl I didn’t imagine cleaning piles of cat puke and wrestling my toddler for kibble as my future. Nonetheless that is my life these days though not ALL the time.

I literally do not want to spend more than a half hour a day cleaning up. But I want a clean home. I also have two children under the age of two! HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?

I’m here to tell you it is and share a few simple tips that can help you streamline a daily cleaning routine.

  • Have LESS Things. The less stuff you own, the less you have to clean up! It’s really that simple. I recently replaced our dishes with this simple, clean set from Correlle. I have more space in my cupboards and less things to clean. Win win!
  • Have One Main Cleaning Task Each Day. I put together a weekly cleaning list and every day I have one “big” task that I try to complete. For example, Mondays I clean the bathroom, Thursdays I mop the floors etc. By doing this, I don’t feel the pressure to clean my entire house from top to bottom. I stick to one main task per day and the upkeep of that makes everyday cleaning easier.
  • Have ONGOING Daily Cleaning Tasks. Keep things simple like wiping down the kitchen and a quick sweep after meals so that grime doesn’t pile up. Decide how often you will pick up toys so that you don’t spend your entire day picking up toys. I tidy up toys and clutter about three times a day usually after mealtimes.
  • Simplify Your Cleaning Products. I love Norwex because their products make cleaning super simple and quick! They’re also non-toxic and good for the environment. I make a few of my own cleaning solutions which I share about here. We invested in a Dyson Animal stick vacuum. It’s perfect for a quick cleanup! I also love these microfibre cloths from Amazon. I use them for everything except the toilet. I don’t use any reusable cloths on the toilet, EVER. GROSS! I save paper towels for that and then compost the paper towels. If you have products that are messy and difficult to use, chances are you probably won’t use them. Make it easier on yourself and cut your cleaning time in half with products you actually want to use.
  • Live In A Smaller House. We just returned from a family vacation where we stayed in a massive 5 bedroom beach “cottage.” While it was beautiful and spacious the charm wore off pretty quickly. The bigger a house, the more you have to clean! You know how long it takes me to do a good clean of the house we rent? MAYBE an hour. We live in about 800/900 square feet on the main floor of a bungalow. Prior to that we lived in the basement of this bungalow which was about 600 square feet and even easier to clean! Seriously consider downsizing if it means less stress. It might also mean a smaller mortgage which is even better!
  • Involve Your Children In The Process. When my oldest was about a year old I started involving him in the clean up process. Now that he’s almost two he can put his toys away with supervision. If you have older children and you’re still cleaning up after them……why? Get those kids involved! 
  • Have A Solid Laundry Routine. Make a routine and stick to it. I know when and how a person does their laundry varies from person to person. But keep it simple. I personally don’t want to be doing laundry every day, all day. And I have cloth diapers to wash but I still only wash those twice week. Tip: if you build a capsule wardrobe you will have LESS clothing to wash! I use Nellie’s because one tin will get you through 100 loads. It’s also non toxic and environmentally friendly!

My home is NOT sparkling clean all the time. It’s moderately tidy and somewhat clean most of the time. I don’t want to spend all day cleaning because I can think of a billion other things I’d like to be doing. I hope my tips save you some time and a bit of your sanity.

Cheers and happy cleaning! If you have any tips and tricks, please share in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

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A Spring Capsule Wardrobe (For Stay At Home Moms)

Leggings. Are they pants? Are they sleepwear? Are they athletic wear?

I used to swim in the pool of people who considered leggings in the NON pants category. Then I had babies and leggings are now my best friend forever!

I’m a little excited today to share a post that veers off a bit from the mom and baby type things I typically write about.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. So when you click on a link and purchase something (anything) on Amazon I make a small commission. Thank you for supporting all the hard work I do here at The Messy Housewife.

First things first. What the heck is a capsule wardrobe? I’m going to be really lazy today and give you MY definition of a capsule wardrobe. Basically it’s a minimal number of multi-functional clothing items, accessories and shoes. The idea is to have less items and items that are versatile, thereby giving you more ways to wear those items. If you are into the minimalist lifestyle or it’s something you are pursuing, a capsule wardrobe is going to help you get there. I’m not saying what I have here is an EXACT capsule wardrobe but I think it holds some of the concept.

I’m no fashionista by any means. My style over the years has evolved into neutral colours and functional pieces. Comfort is my highest priority.

I live in Canada where the weather is snowy, wet, rainy and cold the majority of the year. We have a few brief months of summer and a beautiful (sometimes wet and cold) fall season. When I moved here from Southern California I had this super impractical wardrobe that I had to slowly replace. Cheap plastic boots don’t cut it during the winter. I’m also not the kind of person that can wear flats or go without socks once the weather turns cold.

Location, weather and day to day activities are things you have to keep in mind when you are building seasonal capsule wardrobes. What is practical for me now is completely different than when I was working in an office setting. Heels????? No, I think not. Anyways, lets jump in!


I have about 6 different shirts and sweaters that I wear in rotation throughout the week. As you can see in the picture to the left they are mostly neutral in colour and comfortable material.

I stick with a few soft, flowy tops in cream colours if I feel like dressing things up. A neutral cardigan (or a few) is a staple! White and mom life? It can work! Just basically don’t be around your children the whole day, right?

A basic denim jacket is your best friend FOREVER. It’s so versatile! You can wear it with dresses, tank tops, t-shirts, etc. I’ve had mine for 5 years now. I also keep a light, loose denim button up to layer under sweaters for a different look. A neutral, cropped blazer can be paired with a nicer top for a dressier look.

So, I basically would be walking around pants-less if leggings didn’t exist. Nicole Miller or Talula are my favourite brands for leggings. Talula is pricey and I’ve only scored them second hand. I go for a dark wash and a light wash to keep it simple with jeans. Old Navy’s Rockstar stretch (or whatever they are called) are a mom’s BFF. But your best bang for your buck will be second hand where you can find really great brands for a fraction of the cost. I have about 5 pairs of leggings and 3 pairs of jeans in rotation.

I think most Canadians can agree with me when I say you can not have too many jackets and coats. My husband has more than me! The weather here is unpredictable so even when we put away our winter gear, we still have up to 5 pieces of outerwear each in our front closet. I typically wear 3 out of those five. I think a military green utility jacket is super versatile. Given our rainy spring here in Ontario, I like having a raincoat that I can layer under and to finish things off, I keep a faux leather blazer for dressier times.

Before I became a mom I had multiple purses. While I still have 3 simple purses, what I carry on a regular basis is far more functional. Both of these backpacks are from Amazon and under $50. This grey backpack is an actual diaper bag. It’s also the same diaper bag that every mom friend of mine has, in the same exact colour. The faux leather backpack functions as a diaper bag and while it says it’s a diaper bag, it’s a bit different from the other one.

Shoes are something I believe are worth investing in. I found out the hard way, when I first moved here that cheap boots and sandals were a waste of money. My Blundstones and Timberlands are my favourite shoes for early spring and fall. During the summer Birkenstocks are my go to! Call me an old lady but I scored these Naturalizers on sale and I love that they are slip ons! It makes mom life that much easier.

When it comes to accessories, I’m pretty simple. I wear a wedding ring and sometimes simple earrings. If I’m feeling really extra, I’ll put a watch on. If you catch me between the months of October and April, I’ll have a scarf on.

Of course, I own more clothing than this because where I live has 4 distinct seasons. I rotate pieces in and out of storage. Spring and Fall are tricky seasons because the weather is unpredictable. Temperatures can fluctuate. I remember one spring where it was warm enough to be in shorts and get a tan. Two weeks later it snowed! For those reasons, my wardrobe has to be versatile and functional.

An example of an everyday outfit for me right now-wallet and sunnies if I’m running errands without babies!

When I started minimizing my wardrobe and choosing things that were practical, I found it so much easier to get dressed in the mornings. If you feel really overwhelmed by simplifying what you have, just start with the pieces you reach for the most often. Donate what you no longer wear. When you need “new” pieces shop second hand.

I share a few tips here about buying second hand.

Have you ever put together a capsule wardrobe? What are some must have pieces for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

How We’ve Learned To Live In 600 Square Feet and Tips for Small Space Living.

Cozy. That’s how I would describe where live. You can’t get much cozier than two adults, two cats and a baby in 600 square feet.

We live in a 600 square foot basement apartment of a modest, brick home. We have 6 windows. Small windows. My son’s room does not have any windows. We share laundry with our neighbours. The home was not soundproofed to be a multi-family dwelling so it gets LOUD sometimes. My dining table backs up against the back of our love seat and we have enough room for 2 dining chairs. Our front door is actually the back door of the home. You have to come down the driveway, around into the backyard and onto our deck to access our place. If we run too many appliances, a fuse will blow and trip our neighbour’s electricity  upstairs. We have a cold room where we store all the produce we pressure can from our garden.  The longer I live here, the more I appreciate it. That’s not to say I don’t have my days where I feel like I’m living in a Hobbit hole that’s going to come falling down on me and boy have I done my fair share of complaining. But that didn’t get me anywhere. I’ve shared on my blog before about my journey of learning to love where we live. It hasn’t always been a graceful and easy journey for me but I’m proud of how far I’ve come!

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Recently we considered moving into a home that we would rent to own, with the help of our sweet family. After some serious thought and prayer, we realized staying put was the wisest decision for this season. It was difficult decision but we have such great peace about it. It may be a possibility later down the road but where we are at works really well for our family, in this season of our lives. It allows me to stay at home with our kid(s). It enables my husband to work one job and go back to school to finish his licensing. It gives us a chance to have savings. We can still do fun things, have date nights, buy gifts for our family, be responsible to any debt we have, plan small trips and not be stressed about breaking the bank.
We are blessed to live in a fairly safe, family friendly neighborhood with a great community center nearby as well as other stores that are in walking distance. Since we own one car, it’s a blessing to have things in walking distance.

So how do we make it work in terms of space? I’ll break it down for you and share some ways/things that have helped us streamline our small living space.

  • Intentional purchases- Since we are limited on space, we have to really consider what we purchase. We try to buy multi-purpose, space-saving things. As my son gradually outgrows something like a baby-seat or swing, it goes into storage. We recently just purchased his first brand new toy (this) and I love it because it’s multiple (educational) toys all in one! The two other things he plays with is this Fischer Price Jumparoo (it folds up!) and this Ikea Baby Gym.  I bought this Cosco high chair for the very reason that it’s small, folds down and can be stored under our dining table.
  • Frequent purging/dejunking-I’m not pumping my own tires here when I say that we make monthly trips to our local thrift store to donate boxes of items. It’s just that it’s become a habit which keeps our home from looking like a hoarders’ house.
  • Rethinking/Revisiting the arrangement and usage of furniture-We are doing this constantly and while that might seem exhausting to some, we love rethinking our living space. It helps refresh things and it gives us an opportunity to purge/dejunk.

  • Utilizing the Storage space we do have-We have a large detached garage, with hydro on our property. It is such a blessing with all the shelves on the wall and ample storage space. Inside our home, we are learning to put up shelving, build coat racks and hang things so that we utilize the vertical space we have.
  • Capsule Wardrobes-A capsule wardrobe is a collection of a few essential clothing items, usually neutral in colour, good quality and functional so as to get the most out of these items over a long period of time.
  • Practicing Self Control-I recently started implementing a new practice when I go shopping. I ask myself a series of questions. Do I need this or do I want this? Do I have anything like this already? What Am I willing to get rid of if I buy this? Is it quality? Is it Functional? How Much use will I actually get out of it?  Ok, I don’t ask myself ALL these questions every time I go to buy something but want versus need is a big one!

I’ve shared about The Minimalists in previous posts. Their documentary blessed me and my husband so much. Love people, use things-this is their motto. Our lifestyle is unique to our generation which is constantly seeking to acquire more all the time. It’s challenged us on what is important, how to manage our money better (not perfectly) and to appreciate simplicity. Living a simple life will look different every person. I’m not here to say it has to look any one way. You will know what it should look like for you!

View More: http://rachelkeyes.pass.us/remusfamily2017

Do you live in a small space? How do you make it work? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

10 Frugal Valentine Date Ideas

Today I’m going to share 10 Frugal Valentine Date Ideas. Maybe you are searching for Valentine Ideas For her or Romantic Valentine Date Ideas or just Valentine’s ideas. Maybe you already have an elaborate, expensive date night planned for your someone special! But whatever your relationship status, you can do any of these dates! Grab some friends and celebrate or maybe you have little ones at home, some of these (#9) would be so fun to do with kids!

  1. Enjoy A Home Cooked Meal Together: This is probably the easiest and most frugal way to celebrate something special together! As long as you don’t buy the most expensive steak in the grocery store and the best bottle of wine. You can make a great meal without spending a ton of money. With websites like Pinterest available to us, today, it’s super easy to find an affordable but delicious meal to whip up. Head over to Pinterest to get some ideas right now and while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out the BEST tool for Pinterest (and Instagram) ever created, Tailwind. It’s a program that helps you organize your pins and then according to the schedule you set, it automatically pins or posts everything for you. A must have tool for anyone wanting to grow their website traffic. I’ll be sharing more on Tailwind another time!
  2. Go Out For Appetizers Only: This is a great way to still go out but not spend a lot. Many restaurants have specials, such as buy one appetizer get the 2nd half price. Or maybe buy one appetizer and a get a deal on drinks! Check out who is offering what, locally. You’d be surprised! pexels-photo-696218.jpeg
  3. Coupons! We get coupons to many of our favourite restaurants in the mail, quite often. It’s similar to #2 with getting a deal if you buy something. Some places offer deals such as buy two entrees get an appetizer free.
  4. Go Out for Dessert Only: Dessert on Valentine’s! Something sweet with your sweetheart! I know, I’m cheesy. But this is another great way to have a special treat that won’t cost you a lot. Obviously it depends on where you go and if you choose a really expensive restaurant, their dessert may be pricier. But then it’s a nice way to enjoy fine dining without paying for an entire dinner.
  5. Grab your favourite hot drink and go for a walk with your sweetie around your favourite local park. I say hot drink because where I live, it’s the dead of winter right now. I love where we live because we have some beautiful parks that the city takes great care of, even through the winter. If you live near the beach, get your favourite drink and go for a walk on the beach

6. Make your pexels-photo-803034own charcuterie board and enjoy it with your favourite bottle of wine with some romantic candles lit, at home! Charcuterie boards are so much fun and so yummy! I recently had my first experience with one, when I went out with some girl friends for a wine night. Pinterest has some fantastic ideas on how to create your own.

7. Order pizza and curl up on the couch with your favourite sappy, chick flick. This would probably be the only night of the year I could convince my husband to watch a girly movie with me. We are usually watching hockey 100% of the time, this time of year. But hey I’m ok with hockey over all the mainstream junk on tv these days, seriously! Anyways, pizza and movie night, in?! Yes please

8. Restaurant or movie gift cards! We love getting these as gifts! We will get at least 1 or 2 a year from family members and we stash them away for dates. Ask for them as gifts for your birthday or christmas and then save them for later!

9. Fondue! Cheese or chocolate?! Or maybe both! When we received our firstchocolate-2224998_640.jpg crock pot (it broke sadly) as a wedding gift, it came with a mini crockpot for fondue and dips. It’s so fun! Even if you don’t have a mini crock pot, just put an oven safe bowl over a small pot of water on the stove and melt your chocolate (or cheese) this way. Fruits, veggies, crackers and bread aren’t very pricey in the grocery store. For my bachelorette here in Canada, my girls did fondue and it was amazing. A little secret I learned from one of the girls (Hey Melina!) was to put some coconut oil in with the chocolate chips while melting. This made the chocolate much smoother with that yummy taste of coconut added to it!

10. Check out what your local community center is offering on Valentine’s! You never know, there might be a free movie showing, a fun bingo night (yes I am 80 years old), and more! We have some amazing community centers around us that offer so much, for free.heart-love-romance-valentine.jpg

Maybe you are thinking it’s too late to make plans now because many places require reservations. Try one of my ideas that doesn’t require going to a restaurant. But now you have some ideas for next year too! Maybe you’re thinking you need a babysitter and that is expensive. Maybe you have friends with kids where you could trade babysitting. You babysit their kids one night for free and they babysit for you the next time! There are so many more great ideas of how to have a great Valentine’s Day without breaking the bank. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have wonderful Valentine’s celebrating the ones you love. I hope you eat chocolate, drink wine and feel loved. What are some things you’ve done for Valentine’s that wasn’t expensive but you had a great time? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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Cloth Diaper Styles, Inserts and Brands.

Currently on my living room floor is a pile of clean cloth diapers, covers and inserts. They’ve been clean for 3 days………

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Let us jump right into the different types of cloth diapers and how they work. I’m not an expert and I haven’t used every kind out there. I’m still learning but I have found what I like and don’t like. Let’s start with the basics. Liners are what are inserted into cloth diapers. There are many different kinds of liners but the most common is microfiber. This can’t be directly against baby’s skin because it will cause irritation and/or rash. Microfiber will always be stuffed inside a pocket diaper. I currently have in order from left to right in the photo below:Charcoal, Microfiber and Bamboo. 


Excluding pre-folds (think really old school cloth diapers that many use as burp cloths) cloth diapers today use a snap or velcro system. Or a hybrid snap/velcro system. This diaper would also have side velcro tabs. There are One Size diapers are typically all snaps/velcro and snap combo.

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All-In-One’s: These are exactly what they say. The liner is sewn into the cover. There is the option of stuffing an extra liner for max absorbance.

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Pocket diapers are probably the most commonly used type of cloth diaper and the style I prefer. You can see the little pocket where you would stuff the liner. You can double and triple up but be wary of gaping near the legs. Boys will always leak near the belly button where I’ve heard that girls tend to have more back leaks.

Lastly are covers which I find have the least if any leaks. It takes practice with these because they are not pockets. So, you kinda have to finagle that liner into the cover while you are also putting it on baby or the liner will just fall out. Make sense? You can not use microfiber inserts with these because the liner would go directly against baby’s skin. I use Charcoal or Bamboo.

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That’s it as far as the types of cloth I have used. Almost all the diapers I have in my possession are able to grow with baby. I do experience leaks and I try to change baby boy every 2 to 2.5 hours. I know for those 100% committed to cloth diapering have hacks for getting their babies through the night but I’ve found that my little guy does not like the feeling of being wet in cloth (which is said to be why children tend to toilet train faster when in cloth). He’d stay in a disposable ALL day and night. To get a good night’s sleep we stick with disposables.

I did not purchase any of my diapers brand new. I saw way too many adds online where moms plunked down $500 or more on a bundle of brand new cloth diapers only to find they didn’t like it. They were trying to sell off said diapers but I think most took a loss money-wise. I couldn’t justify spending that amount of money only to find out I didn’t like something. Also-I don’t have that kind of money to spend. All together including diapers, liners, diaper sprayer, and wet bags I have spent around $180. The great thing about buying used is you get the chance to try many different brands and styles without breaking the bank. I will mention that if you buy used make sure you strip your diapers before using them on your baby. This is a process I will share on another time.

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The brands I currently have in my possession are Alva Baby, Bummis, Hip Huggers, Happy Flute, Preston’s Pants (esty and not selling anymore right now), Jamtots, Kawaii Baby and AppleCheeks. Hipper Huggers is great for double gussets.  

UPdate as of January 2019: I have been the happiest with Kawaii Baby’s diapers which I will review in another blog post!

Don’t forget to check out my intro in to cloth diapers and my set up!

What are you favourite brands and styles of cloth diapers? Share in the comments below what you love! I can’t wait to hear from you =)

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How I’m Learning To Live With Less And Why I didn’t Always Love it.

I could feel the sweat starting to bead on my forehead and my heart began to race. My palms felt sweaty and my chest tightened. What was sending me into full panic mode, you ask? Well. I was creating my baby registry. 

Most normal mamas to be would probably feel excited doing this but for me, I found it overwhelming. You see-our society seems to think that babies need everything under the sun in order to function once they slide out of the womb. It’s a falsehood I tell you! FALSE. I plan to write a blog post on a minimalist baby registry and the things we have found essential in these first months of baby boy’s life. Also-I felt this way with my wedding registry. We tried to keep it simple and I really appreciated my very practical mother in law being with us when we registered.

chaos-227971_640I think our journey into pursuing a simple, less is more lifestyle was something that evolved. Our first year of marriage we lived in a shoebox. It was what we could afford. I think it was less than 400 square feet. I could be wrong but it was TINY. We loved it and to this day it remains as my favourite place we have ever lived. We hit a bump in the road when we moved into a 3 level town home. We filled that townhouse with so much stuff.We found ourselves in an awful position when our land lord suddenly needed her home back, ASAP. We moved  within 2 weeks and downsized to our current place but it was one of the most stressful times of my life. We had accumulated so many useless things that much of which ended up on the curb for the junk guy to pick up. (not our home in the picture above)

Fast forward to the present. I went on a rollercoaster ride in the last year or so of emotions. I struggled with feeling ashamed of where we live, in a small basement apartment we rent in a very modest brick home. I wrestled with the comparison game, seeing how most of my close friends lived in these beautiful homes. I didn’t want to invite anyone over and I certainly wasn’t proud of my home. When we shared that we were pregnant a few people immediately asked us if it was planned,  followed by the question of when we were going to purchase a home. Talk about insult to injury. I doubt people meant to make me feel this way but I felt so inadequate. It made me feel like we were irresponsible for starting a family because we didn’t have everything set up the way society pressures us to. I felt like I had to apologize for our home the rare times people would come over. Instead of being grateful, I had really lost sight of what was truly important and valuable. I needed a good kick in the bum from one of my favourite writers-Matt Walsh. He writes a great article on the statistics of young people, money and having a family in today’s world. He says,

“I’m talking about people who harbor the faulty but common belief that marriage and parenthood should be the culmination of young adulthood, rather than the cornerstone of it. What my generation has decided it “needs” is to live a luxurious, fashionable, Instagramable life. And it’s too bad for them. They’re missing out. I thank God for my unfashionable childhood. I wouldn’t trade our humble family vacations in our Astro passenger van with duct tape on the door for a thousand swanky trips to Disney World. The sacrifice and simplicity ‘builds character,’ my Dad used to say, and you know something? He was right.”

Read the full article here.

I will share more about my struggle in moment but let me share some of the reasons why we are pursuing a lifestyle of having less things:

  1. Space. While we have a large garage that we share with the tenants upstairs, within our actual living space we don’t have much storage. I don’t have a linen closet or pantry, our closets are small but functional and there is no extra storage in the bathroom apart from under the sink. My living room is very small so there isn’t much extra space for lots of baby toys and I love this. Lack of space has made us be very intentional about what we purchase for our home.
  2. Money.canadian-money-in-bank_925x  The cost of living here is very high. I’m a stay at home mom so we live on one income. (That is the situation we agreed on so I could be at home with our son) My husband manages our money well and this is a blessing. We have to be intentional and practical about what we purchase so that we see our money go a long way. It’s decisions as simple as, do I get my hair done this month? Or do we invest in a new vacuum that we’ve been needing? That might seem silly or even sad to you but trust me, it’s ok! I’m not sad about these things anymore. I’m realistic about what I can afford, reguardless of how that fits into society’s standards of living.
  3. STRESS. Seriously. I have felt my stress level sky-rocket as stuff accumulates around my home.  Did you know that clutter and excess stuff actually affects our brain function?!  A 2009 study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women who described their households as “cluttered” exhibited increased fatigue and depression with correlating high cortisol levels, and a research project by UCLA in 2012 saw a similar link. Cortisol is bad news for healthy brain activity, as heightened levels of the hormone can cause lasting negative changes in brain function and structure.” Bad news.
  4. Because we love learning new skills that help us save money. We cloth diaper 90% of the time. Most of our clothing is second-hand (you read my post on buying second-hand clothing here) and we make most of our home decor. We’ve learned to garden and my husband’s family has taught us how to can. Our dehydrator has been a great tool in the kitchen. My husband goes hunting up north with his family, when he has the time. He’s literally bringing home the bacon (well more like bear meat which I haven’t learned to cook yet) so we have free meat to eat.  These are just some of the many frugal ways we’ve learned to save money. You can read more about that here.
  5. We have financial obligations. I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details of this but everyone has financial obligations and it looks different for every person. We don’t want to be bound by these things in the years to come so we are trying our best to be responsible now so we can have a debt free future.

Earlier I talked about feelings of shame and inadequacy with our current living space. It literally robbed me of joy, contentment, peace and made me jealous of others. I’ve needed a major attitude adjustment. Comparison really is the thief of joy. (Teddy Roosevelt)  I am working on my gratitude and learning to love our family’s approach to life. You know what is so ridiculous? I live in such a nice place! The kitchen was brand new when we moved in and our landlords remodeled our bathroom last summer. It’s gorgeous! All that to say, there are standards of living in the world today that just aren’t realistic or wise. There can be really negative consequences of wanting to have it all or what someone else has. While we are nowhere near perfecting our simple way of life, we are learning how to invest our time, energy and money in the things we feel are worth it for us.  These ideals are things we value and want to pass on to our son as he grows up.

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Please don’t misunderstand me, in this. Living with less doesn’t make my family and I better than everyone else. We are learning some great things living this simple life. Having an abundance of things and money doesn’t make a person wrong, either. As long as we know what is important at the end of the day.

“Love people, use things. The opposite never works.”-The Minimalists

Do you take a less is more-minimalist approach to life? Or maybe you hate the less is more approach? I hope you were able to glean some useful information from this post and I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

*A great resource on living a minimalist approach to life are these guys, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, The Minimalists. They have written books and have a wonderful documentary out. Check out the trailer below.

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11 Ways We Save Money and Practice Being Frugal

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In Today I’m going to share the ways in which my husband and I save money. This saving money thing has never been a strong point for me, personally. Thankfully I married someone who is much better at it than me! I’ve taught my husband that it’s ok to splurge sometimes and he’s taught me that I don’t need the things I sometimes want. Learning to live frugally and simply has been an adventure for us. At this point in our marriage, we enjoy finding new ways to be frugal. We love to think of ways we can be self-sufficient.

Food

Limiting Eating Out: We don’t eat out often and we enjoy it so much more when we do go out for dinner or order a pizza. It’s special! This leaves us more to spend on groceries. Think about this, that the average cost for two people to eat dinner out is around $50. If you are buying lunch every day during the work week that is easily $50. This all adds up fast! When we were both bringing in an income, I bought lunch multiple times a week and we ate dinner out frequently. We actually saw a savings in this area when I quit my job outside the home. It goes to show how much more food you get for your money when you eat at home. It’s not easy and ask my husband, I LOVE TO EAT OUT. But we see savings when we practice frugality in this area.

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Growing A Garden: We fell in love with growing our own produce the first year of our marriage. Both of my husband’s grandfathers were farmers. It’s in his blood and he is so dang good at growing things. I like to organize what we will grow but he does most of the gardening. We’ve had a garden 2 years out of the 3 we’ve been married. It’s so easy to do and having fresh produce is so wonderful. Our growing season isn’t very long here so we take advantage of it. We see most of our savings with this in the summer and fall because of harvest.

Canning and deydrating foods are great ways to save money. Buying dehydrated fruit is costly and while it might take time to do some of these things, you can see some savings.


Buying Bulk: I love Costco but not everything is worth buying there. Right now the things that we find are most cost-effective to buy from Costco are diapers (they last forever since we are only using them at night), formula (it’s just as good as the fancy stuff in stores) toilet paper, paper towels and my husbands shampoo/body wash.

Sticking To The Grocery List and Limiting Grocery Store Trips: I’m not always good at this but when I manage to only get what I put on my list, I stay on budget. I’ve also found that multiple little trips to the grocery store add up quickly. Sometimes that means going without something until our next planned trip. This can be a great way to save. What we spend on groceries fluctuates but considering how little we eat out now, I’m not as overly concerned in this area. I don’t buy organic either. It just isn’t something I have figured out yet. But a great tip for clean produce is soaking them in vinegar and water to get any gross stuff off. We are fortunate that we don’t have any food allergies so there isn’t anything we have to avoid.

Having A Depression Era Pantry: I’m still working on this and it’s a fun project! During the depression many mamas were able to still feed their family nutritious, filling meals with very simple ingredients. I’m trying to stock my pantry with simple staples such as rice, flour, oats, dried beans and basic canned goods. Then I try to challenge myself to make simple meals using simple ingredients. This often leads to healthier eating!

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DIY: We make most of the decor in our home and we keep it simple. A year or so ago, I went a little crazy at Michael’s craft store, setting up my craft supply. I try to make cards because already made cards are stupid expensive. I love Home Sense with all the beautiful decorations but I can’t justify paying their prices when I know we could probably make it ourselves. Thrift stores are great places to find jars, old picture frames and other items to repurpose.

Buying second-hand and using cloth diapers are great ways to save money.

Here I talk about buying second-hand clothing. Here I talk about cloth diapering.

Having one car has been a huge money saver for us. It fits our family and works for us right now. It’s not always easy and I stay home a lot but we don’t need two cars at this time in our life. We can’t justifty the extra cost.

Practicing frugality is actually very easy once you establish good habits! But it takes hard work to live a simple life in today’s materialistic world. We want convenience but you know what is inconvenient? Debt! We don’t have it all figured out and it’s not always fun to say no to things we want. But it is worth it to be responsible to our financial obligations and build good monetary habits. It’s also brought an openness in our marriage and we spend more quality time together.

Whatever your situation, don’t be afraid to try new things! Do you enjoy finding ways to save money? What are some things you do to practice frugal living? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!

6 Tips For Buying Second-Hand Clothing.

I LOVE SHOPPING. It’s therapeutic for me! Some of my earliest memories are of me and my mom shopping. She took me everywhere with her for the first 5 years of my life until I went to school.

I did not wear second-hand clothing growing up unless it was my sister’s things. It took me 2 years to grow into her clothing because she was much taller than me. We received new clothing each school year. We didn’t have lots of extra money but this was something my parents saved for. Thank you, Mom and Dad!

When I moved here to Canada the wardrobe that I brought with me was very impractical. I had been living in Southern California for 10 years. The only practical thing I purchased for this climate were my winter boots. I wasn’t very prepared, to say the least.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way when it comes to buying clothing second-hand:

  • You can find great quality clothing when you buy secondhand but it takes a lot of time searching the racks. You have to be  willing to invest your time to build a great secondhand wardrobe. If you don’t want to sift through racks and racks of clothing then it might not be for you.
  • If you find a GREAT piece that you love, buy it. This might seem to contradictory to my first point. If it’s functional and practical for your wardrobe, then buy it. In most secondhand stores there is usually only one of each thing so if you wait to buy it, someone else may scoop it up.
  • Know your brands. It’s so important to know what is quality and what is not. There are some popular brands out there that aren’t great quality. Don’t buy something because it’s brand name. Know what is worth it and what is not.
  • Go for quality-not quantity. I had to get rid of most of my summery clothing. I still own some key summer pieces but I would say the bulk of my wardrobe is sweaters, warm leggings and jeans. This is because our longest seasons are cool to freezing. Even our summers can be cool and damp. I do not like being COLD. One winter we lived in a place with electric heat ($$$$ to run) so I lived in 5 layers of clothing. Also, I’m currently a stay at home mom and plan to be for a while so my wardrobe reflects this relaxed style.
  • Have a good laundry routine. I do 95% of our laundry because I am particular. I still cringe when I consider how I used to wash things in college. I would throw everything in together and hope for the best. Then I would dry everything on high. Used or brand new-these are quick ways to wear down and ruin your clothing. Now I have a very specific laundry routine. I actually read the tags on clothing now and follow instructions.
  • Not everything is worth buying second-hand. I am learning the truth of quality over quantity. Some things are worth saving up for considering the quality and how long they will last you.

I will admit that clothing is the area in which I have always struggled with overspending. You need a plan going in or you will end up with things you don’t need. I’m still working on a minimalist/capsule type of wardrobe. I haven’t achieved this yet but it’s on my to do list. I also wanted to share something that changed the way I buy clothing now. While I still buy new clothing it is rarely and it isn’t without some guilt. Fast fashion (think Forever 21, H&M, Zara’s etc.) has a deadly impact on our environment and people.

There is an excellent documentary called The True Cost .

It exposes the consequences fast fashion is having on our world today. The fact that people are actually dying while producing the clothing that we wear is horrifying. I highly recommend this film. It’s sobering and thought-provoking. It has pushed me to consider the ethics behind the brands I buy from.


So there are my best tips for buying second hand clothing! Do you buy second hand? What are some things you’ve learned along the way?

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