Monday 26 November 2018

Simple Holiday Season-Nature

The holidays have many natural elements that add to the magic of the season.  Snow, trees, garland greenery and pine cones are prevalent in decor at this time of year.  We are intimately tied to nature and that relationship plays out in many ways over the holiday season.

I love to spend time in nature.  It can make the fast-paced holiday season feel calm.  Spending time in nature allows us to experience many different emotions.  It can gift us with a moment to breathe and recollect our thoughts.  It can bring us exhilaration and joy.  Nature is a wonderful teacher, a terrific playground and a place of peace. 

I try to go outdoors with my two young daughters every day, even when it is cold.  Sometimes we don't stay out for long, but I feel that it is important for us to be in nature every day that we can.  Here are some of our favourite outdoor activities:

-Walks (Walking is excellent exercise and a great way to explore your neighbourhood.)
-Making snow angels.
-Building snowmen
-Playing at the playground.
-Looking for birds.
-Checking out animal tracks in the snow. (We have a local park that has its fair share of small wildlife!)
-Cross country skiing or snow-shoeing
-Looking for pinecones
-Checking out frosty trees.

This week I challenge you to spend a little time in nature.  Even if you only enjoy a few moments outside; try to breathe in the calm, admire the beauty and maybe even have a little fun. 

Monday 19 November 2018

Simple Holiday Season 2018

As the holiday season approaches, many people feel their stress levels rise.  It is a busy time of year and we often bite off more than we can chew.  I know that many of us wish we could have more time to relax and truly enjoy our holiday season.  I hope that this 'Simple Holiday Season' series will inspire you to enjoy the little things in your holiday season.

In my 'Frugal Friday' posts I have encouraged people to identify what is most important during the holiday season to them and their family.  I then asked them to focus their finances on what they thought was most important to them this holiday season.  I ask you to do the same thing with your time.  Cut out activities that don't align with your focus.  Say no when you are stretched too thin.  We can't make more time, but we can use our time wisely.  There will be obligations that are unavoidable, but not everything can be a priority this holiday season.

This week's task:

Sit down with your calendar this week and sort out all of your obligations, engagements and things you want to achieve.  Schedule in time to relax and practice self care (sleep, exercise, etc.).  Treat it with the same respect that you would give any other calendar obligation.  Plan your family fun.  Give serious thought to the items on your calendar and decide if they truly are necessary.  You are in control of your schedule and you can choose to say no to anything that detracts from your well-being.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Frugal Friday-Holiday Priorities and Budget

When planning for the holidays it is important to pick out what is most important to you about the holiday season.  Is it a church service, traveling to see family, a delicious meal or sharing a fun experience with people you love?  It is easier to properly budget for your holiday season if you can identify what makes the holiday special for you and your family.

In our house our first priority is celebrating the birth of Jesus.  Our next priority is spending time with family.  We also like to send out Christmas cards to our loved ones.  When we can afford it, we pay for professional photos to use for our cards.  Our last priority is gifts.  We love to give the children in our life gifts at this time of year.  We don't like to make gifts the focus of the season, but it is fun part of the holiday.

We don't need to spend any money celebrating the birth of Jesus, so we start our budget planning with our desire to spend time with family.  My family lives nearby.  My husband's family, however, lives hours away.  If we plan to travel to see them we have to budget for gasoline and a kennel stay for our pup.  If my in-laws come to our house we have to budget for the meals we need to make.

When planning our Christmas cards I budget for our photography fee, the actual Christmas card, and the stamps to send them.

Gifts are the last thing that I budget for.  I truly try to keep things simple in my house.  Santa brings each child one toy and one gift to share.  He also brings a few items for their stocking, but they are often practical (toothbrushes and socks).  This year my Hubby and I are giving our kids a family trip to the city in January.  We plan to take them swimming and to the science center.  We also got them each a book and a sweater so that they have something to open on Christmas morning.  I set a dollar limit for our spending and I stick within it.  I watch for sales and do price comparisons so that I get the best deal.  I also set spending limits on the other little people in our life. 

The rest of our gifts are homemade.  The kids make the grandparents a gift (with help from us) and our oldest helps bake for the uncles.

My best suggestion is to start saving for the holidays in January.  If this isn't possible then start saving when you can.  No one wants you to put yourself into debt just so you can give them a nice gift or meal.  It isn't worth it.  The best parts of the holiday season are free so set your focus there.  Be honest with your family and friends and cut back on your holiday spending.  Having a plan in place can help you focus your money where it matters and resist spending in places where it doesn't.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Capsule Wardrobe Planning

I have received a couple questions about how I set up my capsule wardrobe and how I actually use it.  This week I plan to take you behind the scenes of my wardrobe planning on my Instagram account stories.  In this blog post I will break down the 'steps' that I take to create my capsule.

I often start with looking at my calendar.  It isn't easy to plan a wardrobe if you don't know what your plans are going to be.  My next wardrobe is going to start this weekend and go into the beginning of January.  It will cover the whole holiday season.  I will need to make sure that I have my Christmas outfit figured out and any outfits that I may need for Christmas parties or events.  This year we really don't have a lot planned so I can stick to a much more casual wardrobe.  I have had plans on other years and it pays to be prepared.

After looking at my calendar and knowing what my schedule looks like, I try to plan outfits that suit what I am going to be doing.  It is easy to plan a capsule wardrobe based on what you would like your life to look like, but it is much more important to be realistic about how you are going to spend your time.  I spend much of my time chasing my two young children.  I would love to have a fancy wardrobe, but it would not suit how I spend my time. 

Another important factor in a capsule wardrobe is weather.  I know that the next few months are likely to be cold.  I live on the prairies in Canada.  I need to dress accordingly.  I like to plan warm layers for my outfits so that I can brave the elements.

The next step is optional, but I think it is a lot of fun.  I will create a Pinterest board to help me figure out what styles I am into and what I want my wardrobe to look like.  I find that the Pinterest board helps me narrow down what I want and makes it easier for me to pull out similar clothes from what I already own.

At this point, I tackle my closet.  I consider the pieces that are weather appropriate, fit well and are in good repair.  I then narrow down my choices in my notebook.  I try to stick to a number between 30-40 pieces.  This time around I think I will try to stick to less pieces (20-30) because I plan to do another capsule in January.

After I have chosen my pieces, I remove the other clothes from my closet and store them away.  I like to have only my capsule pieces available to me.  This removes any visual clutter and helps me to see what I really have to work with. 

I hope you will join me on Instagram and Pinterest this weekend as I build my next capsule wardrobe.  Happy Wednesday, friends!

Friday 9 November 2018

Frugal Friday- The Holiday Season is Coming!

I love Christmas.  I have fond memories of spending time with family, eating cherry tarts and gingerbread men, watching holiday movies, midnight mass and the magic of the season.  I love the sights, sounds and smells of the holidays. 

That being said, I think that the holiday season has become a bit twisted and overwhelming.  The stores are packed with toys, decorations and everywhere you turn there is an opportunity to spend your hard-earned money.  Children's gifts are getting out of control and the season has become less about love and more about excess.  People go into debt over the holiday season.  How can we avoid having the holiday season get out hand?  I think the answer is simple.  You have to plan and be intentional.

First you need to decide what makes the holidays special to you and your family.  That should be your priority.  Next, you need to decide what you are willing to spend on the holidays and budget accordingly.  You should do this early in the year, but if you haven't started saving for the holidays, there is no time like the present.  You need to stick to your budget and refuse to go into debt.  Spend within your means.

I also feel that it is necessary to mention that no gift will ever be able to convey love so we shouldn't even attempt it.  Gifts are a nice part of the season but should not be the focus.  Your children don't need a pile of things under the tree to make the season special.  We have found that our daughter is quite happy to receive any gift at Christmas and doesn't expect things to be extravagant.  Even if you have done this in the past, you can simplify this year.  Things are not love.  What matters most is time spent together.

I hope to delve more into holiday season prep in the coming weeks on Frugal Friday.  I would like all of us to be able to relax more around the holidays and truly enjoy them.  Happy Friday, friends!

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Wardrobe Wednesday-Fall 10x10 Challenge

I took part in the Fall 10x10 Challenge as put forth by Caroline from Un-Fancy.  Caroline was the inspiration behind my first capsule wardrobe.  I so enjoyed doing the 10x10 challenge.  I found a lot of freedom in having even less to choose from and I look forward to trying this again!  The basic idea behind the challenge is that you choose 10 items of clothing to wear for 10 days. 

I chose the following items:

  • black leggings
  • skinny jeans
  • red sweater
  • wine nursing top 
  • black sweatshirt
  • plaid shirt
  • leather jacket
  • black long sleeve nursing top
  • running shoes
  • tan lace up boots

Here are the outfits from my 10 days.  (There were some outfit repeats so I didn't include those.)

I am now working on my next capsule wardrobe which I hope to use for November and December.  I love designing my wardrobes and I appreciate the ease that they add to my morning rush. 

 Happy Wednesday!

Monday 5 November 2018

Simplify Fall 2018- Kid's Artwork

My daughter (like so many children) loves to draw and create.  She is constantly presenting us with her artwork and loves to see it displayed.  We used to put it up on the fridge.  We found a few problems with this.  Our baby, who is now mobile, seemed to enjoy removing the artwork that she could reach.  This was upsetting for our older daughter.  The baby also loved to eat the artwork.  This was upsetting for both my daughter and me.  I knew I had to come up with a different solution.  The fridge was cluttered and art was falling off every time we opened the door.

I found these cork board tiles at Walmart and I knew that they would be perfect.  The wall in our dining room was completely blank and I had not yet found anything to adorn the room.  I put the tiles up and I have attached my daughter's art to the tiles.  She is so proud to see her art on our walls and I like that it seems to give her art an organized way to be displayed.

How do you display your children's artwork?  I would love to hear your ideas!