Guest Write

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Buy Nothing Month


If you don't have a picture that fits your blog post subject matter. A photo of your pet pig is always acceptable

I will be the first to admit it, I tend to waste a lot of money on things I don't need. My husband and I are pretty stable financially and we don't live paycheck to paycheck so if I am out and about and I see something that I want in a store or online I will usually buy it without too much thought or worry. Don't get me wrong- we can be extremely frugal. Most of the dinners that I bring with me to work lately are frozen Weight Watchers meals from Dollar Tree! So while we are cheap and buy many things used or on sale I don't feel too much guilt about the occasional indulgence.

I recently read a few articles online about people who practice "Buy Nothing" days. It's about as simple as it sounds. Aside from basic needs like food and your bills you don't purchase anyhing! One couple I read about even did a "Buy Nothing" Year. I have decided I would like to try a "Buy Nothing" Month. I am trying to pay off the car I bought last January as quickly as possible. I have a 5 year loan but my goal was to have half of my loan paid by this September. I am almost there but have fallen a little behind. I am wondering, how much money can I save if I don't waste money on little things like coffee on the way to work? Or drive through meals when I am too lazy to cook? I love shopping at thrift stores and tend to pick up random knick-knacks that I don't need and I definitely have an addiction to shopping for just about everything on Amazon with my Prime membership.

The month of September will be my Buy Nothing month. Here is a list of things I am allowed to purchase

  • food from the grocery store- no coffee or quick dinners from the drive thru
  • gas
  • all bills will be paid of course. This includes my gym membership and cell phone bills both of  which I am on a contract. 
Here is where things get tricky. I like going out for dinner with my husband occasionally  and we have been trying to make an effort to go on more date nights so I'm not sure how this will fit in with Buy Nothing Month. Is is cheating if he pays since this is something I am doing this alone?

Also, I have been trying to take more time for myself to relax and wanted to get a massage or my nails done in the next month. I am not sure how this will fit in. I really wanted to get in some self pampering!

I think the trickiest part may be trying not to spend money on things for my home. We just did a lot of work on the garden and painted the porch. I wanted to maybe plant more flowers and plants and keep the progress going. 

I guess I am going to have to think creatively about these things. What can I get for free off Craigslist? What fun activites can we do without buying anything?

I will keep tally of how much money I saved and let know you how it ended up working out for me. Do I have the willpower to say no to all those little purchases? Will I have to hide my debit card?

If you have any tips for me please share in the comments!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Front Yard Makeover



It's been a busy summer and once again I have to apologize for not posting as much as I used to on this blog. I have the same old excuses, my baby and my job take up so much of my time these days I don't have a lot of time to work on this blog like I used to. I will be trying to post something new every Friday from this point. I think I can handle one blog post a week.


My parents and my sister came over last week to visit for a few day from British Columbia (where I am originally from) They helped us out with a ton of yard work. Today I am going to show you the progress we made on the front of the house. Here are some before pictures from last April.


The front walkway when we moved in was almost completely grown over. There were a few paver stones lined with wood pieces but it was overtaken by grass. Five years later we are finally getting around to redoing this area. I wanted a nice pathway leading up the the house. I wanted rocks so that we wouldn't get our pants wet from the wet grass every time we walked from the cars into the house.

We ordered some stones and had them delivered a couple days before my family came over to help. We already had a number of large stones from the previous owners of the house. We had to dig a lot of them out of the ground because so much grass had grown around them.

Work in progress. Lots of heavy lifting

First we lined up the larger stones on each side of where the walkway would be. Then my sister and mom dug up all the grass and layed down landscaping fabric. Then we had to transport the small stones over in a wheel barrow over to the walkway and spread them around. Obviously it was pretty back breaking. My sister and Mom did most of the work.

We also cleaned up the garden in the front yard. We weeded and added new flowers under the front windows and along the right side. The little plants we added are ground cover and they will hopefully take over most of that area so that grass doesn't grow again. 

Here are the after photos:






So far a huge improvement but there is lots left to do. I still want to paint the front porch and add some more flowers and garden area as painting the fence.
What do you think?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Wash Your Face...With Honey!




I love making my own skincare and beauty products. I  feel like a little scientist mixing all sorts of ingredients together in the kitchen to use on my body. I prefer to use more natural ingredients and wrote all about the Oil Cleansing Method a couple years ago. I have a new ingredient added to my routine, in the morning I wash my face with honey!

Honey is naturally antibacterial and is actually really great to cleanse your skin with if your have acne. The key is to use raw local honey. Look for locally produced honey at the grocery store. Any kind will do. Just avoid the over processed pasteurized honey. It doesn't have the antibacterial properties as the local honey and is almost like using corn syrup to wash your face. No good. 

Cleansing the skin with honey is as simple as taking a teaspoon of honey and rubbing onto your skin.  Just rinse it off with warm water. It's gentle on the skin and completely natural and chemical free.

You can add other ingredients to the honey to customize it if you like. Essential oils are great to add or other foods like cinnamon or baking soda for a little bit of exfoliation.

Honey won't remove make up so at night I use the Oil Cleansing Method. I just rub a little oil on my skin and steam with with hot water on a face cloth. Honey cleansing is great in the morning before you do your makeup. I prefer to rub it into my skin before I get into the shower and let it sit for a few minutes then I rinse it off in the shower.You can literally just keep the container of honey in the bathroom and squeeze a little out when you wash your face. It's that simple.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My Ikea Rast Makeover







I am in the process of redecorating my bedroom. I never completely finished decorating it when I was getting ready for the Do It Yourself Magazine photo shoot a couple years back. When we were getting ready for the shoot I quickly painted the wall behind the bedroom and made an upholstered headboard but I was so rushed I didn't have the time to think about what I really wanted. I decided I hated the grey wall and painted it blue. It's time to change everything else up a bit too.

Our nightstands were mismatched hand me down furniture from family members and I wanted new ones. I had some specific criteria in mind. I wanted dark wood and they needed to have 3 drawers so that I could store our socks, under ware and my bras. In retrospect I probably shouldn't have been so set on the 3 drawer thing but I was and so it is what it is. I scoured online and realized that 3 drawer dark wood nightstands are not only rare (most only have two drawers) but really expensive. I hit up the thrift store weekly but the thrift store Gods did not smile upon me. Then I discovered the Ikea Rast on Pinterest, a simple 3 drawer pine dresser that many, many bloggers are making over and "hacking" They only cost about $40 each so I saw this as the perfect solution. I bought two and stained them dark.

Ikea rast before


The stain I bought is Varathane Stain and Poly. The color is called Kona. I had never stained wood before and this product was actually really easy to use. If you want to try staining wood for the first time but are a little weary this is a great project. It's super simple and a great way to get your toes a little wet.

You are supposed to sand the wood before staining but the pine wood felt so smooth that I didn't bother. You are also supposed to sand between coats but I didn't think that it needed it.

Here is another shot of the after


The bedroom is super dark so it's really difficult to take photos. There is one Rast on each side of the bed. In retrospect I wish I had done a lighter wood stain but I can always try to sand it down and try again later. I may also try adding some wood trim and adding some feet to the dressers. I will share the updates when I do them and I will show off the whole bedroom when it's done.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

My Baby is One!!!







Happy Birthday to my little girl Chloe! Today is my baby's first birthday! We celebrated with friends, hot dogs and cupcakes and we have more celebrations planned this weekend. I can't believe how fast this year has gone by. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the past year.





 OK, I am done with my mom bragging for now! Ha ha. Happy Birthday Chloe!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Reading: The Body Book by Cameron Diaz






I haven’t done much reading in the past few years. I find it so hard to stay focused and really get into a story. Most of the books I end up reading are non-fiction. If I find a book on a subject that I am interested in like gardening or crafting I will read the whole thing cover to cover in no time flat. I want to start reading more and my husband bought me a Kindle a few months ago. While searching on Amazon for some interesting books to download I stumbled upon The Body Book by Cameron Diaz. 


I knew that Cameron had written a book (we don’t have T.V. just Netflix so I can get very behind in pop culture happenings and celebrity business) and I knew it had something to do with the human body which is kind of random because I only have known her as an actress. I didn't really know much at all about the book but I decided to download it. She has an amazing looking body so I figured I might have something to learn from her! 

I was pleasantly surprised that The Body Book isn’t really a diet book or a how-to book with instructions with  special meal plans or exercise routines. It’s actually a science based guidebook to your body. Cameron really goes into detail about how your body works biologically. There are three main parts to the book, food, exercise and mental health. It’s all about the mind body connection. This is a great book to learn about what’s going on in your body or a refresher for those of us who haven’t given much thought about it since high school science class. 

There was so much I learned from this book. I wish it was around for me to read about 10 years ago when I was 20. If there is a teenage girl in your life I highly recommend you purchase this book for them immediately.  There is really an emphasis on listening to your body. What is it telling you? So many of the ailments and pain we feel can be cured with proper nutrition and exercise. 


Cameron’s writing style is down to earth and she simplifies all the science jargon so it’s easy to understand. It’s an easy, interesting read and I love that it is based on scientific facts and she worked with medical experts to give accurate information. The best part of this book is that it’s not an instruction manual telling you why you aren’t good enough and how to transform into a different, better person. It’s a book celebrating your amazing body that is perfect just the way it is and why you should love yourself just the way you are. 


Some main things I learned from the book that I am putting into practice working into my daily routine:

  • ·         Start every day with a glass of water. Literally chug it upon waking and feel all your organs begin to wake up.

  • ·         Feed your hunger: When you feel hungry feed yourself with the most nutritious food you can. Don’t worry about counting calories just fuel your body with nutrients and not garbage.

  • ·         Exercise is essential. Get moving in some capacity everyday

  • ·         Sleep is so important and getting a good night’s sleep needs to be a priority

Have you read the Body Book by Cameron Diaz? What did you think?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My New Online Shop





Hey friends, I just wanted to share my new online shop I set up with Go Daddy's new My Simple Store software. I am still selling on Etsy and a few other places online but this new storefront doesn't charge fees or commission.

You can accept payments using Pay Pal or Credit Card. The payment system does charge a small fee but it's convenient and deposits the money directly to your bank account.


There are lots of different shop templates and options to customize your shop.
I'd love it if you checked out mine and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Indoor Plant Guide



Decorate with plants to detoxify the air in your home and add some nature to your space! 

 

 



 

Adding plants to your indoor space can do so much more than just enhance your d├ęcor. I am trying to go more natural in all aspects of my life from personal care products and cleaning supplies and everything in between. Adding plants that will help detoxify the air in my home is another way that I can help keep a healthy home for my family. No matter what kind of space you live in there is a plant that will work for your lifestyle and look great.


Press a few tacks into your wall and let your vines trail up the walls!

Let’s start with improving the air quality of your home.  Most of us spend the majority of our day indoors, which makes improving the air quality of your home that much more important.  Everything from chemical cleaners and artificial air fresheners can emit toxic fumes. Even furniture and vinyl flooring can emit gases that pollute your indoor air. Here is a list of some of the best plants that will help clean the air in your home:




  • ·         Purple Waffle Plant

  • ·         English Ivy

  • ·         Asparagus Fern

  • ·         Areca Palm

  • ·         Mother in Law Tongue

  • ·         Money Plant

  • ·         Varigated Wax Plant

  • ·         Purple Heart Plant


A study by NASA concluded that certain indoor plans can provide a natural way of removing toxins such as benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene from the air. NASA recommends to add one plant per 100 square feet of home or office space. For more information on this study and a larger list of beneficial plants check out the study here.

If you live in the Sydney area check out Gaddy’s, one of Sydney's leading interior plant service companies. They offer stylish indoor plants & containers at affordable prices.

Jade hangs in a unique planter on the wall


Low Light Plants

Plants need sunshine in order to grow. You may remember learning about photosynthesis in elementary school. Unfortunately not all the rooms in our homes have large windows that shine beautiful light so our plants will grow. Luckily there are plants that require little to no light in order to live. Here are some of the best plants for low light areas:


  • ·         Pothos

  • ·         Jade

  • ·         Spider Plant

  • ·         ZZ Plant

  • ·         Snake Plant



Double Duty Plants

If you are going to grow plants in your home you might as well get as much out of them as you possibly can.


  • ·         Why not consider planting an herb garden on your window sill for access to fresh flavoring for you meals?

  • ·         You can grow wheatgrass or greens like chard to add to your smoothies.

  • ·         If you have a back porch or balcony this is the perfect place for containers growing fresh herbs and veggies.


  • ·         Your feline friends would love it if you planted some cat grass or cat mint for them to enjoy.

  • ·         There are other plants that do double duty like Aloe Vera. It’s convenient to grow in a small pot and it great to have in the kitchen to help treat burns.





No Water No Problem! 

If you are like me and constantly forget to water your plants you may want to consider ones that do not require much care. Here are a list of plants that are pretty much impossible to kill.
Impossible to kill Plants


  • ·         Cacti

  • ·         Succulents

  • ·         Bamboo

  • ·         Spider Plant

  • ·         Chinese Evergreen




Air plants like tillandsia do not need soil in order to grow. You only need to spray them with water occasionally and they will still thrive. These are great low maintenance plants for anyone. Check out my guide to air plants and a tutorial on how to make this cute terrarium. 



Don’t forget to fertilizer your house plants a couple of times per year. Check out my homemade fertilizer recipe here. Remember, as your plants grow bigger you will need to re-pot them in order for them to grow and thrive! What are your favorite house plants? Let us know your favorite indoor plants and care tips in the comments!