17 ways to save money and live healthier at home: Part 2

Continued from yesterday’s post about ways to save money and live healthier at home, here are a few more ideas…

  • Buy reusable squeeze packs for healthy on-the-go snacks for babies and toddlers. I just bought these ones off Amazon, in the hopes that I could trick, ‘er, get Elizabeth to start liking vegetables again. Seriously, she’s suddenly HATES them!  That girl could live on dairy, avocado and oatmeal. These squeeze packs will come in handy for yogourt, smoothies, etc as she gets older. One friend said these work great for picnics in the summer!
  •  Take leftovers for lunch. When Troy doesn’t have access to a microwave for his lunch, he takes wraps, a banana, peanut butter and/or honey and makes a simple protein wrap. Either that, or we will hard boil some eggs for quick protein.
  •  Buy just the greenery in the floral section, instead of frequent bouquets. I love flowers or any plant, but have had a hard time keeping them alive in our home. Buying flowers for our table on a weekly basis just isn’t an option! One thing you can do to get your pretty ‘fix’,  is to buy the greenery in the floral section at Safeway, and stick that in a vase on your table. I find the variety they carry varies, but for $10-12 you’ll have greenery on your table for literally months if you keep refreshing the water! They often have anything from eucalyptus to fern, to larger leaves, which offers you a variety to choose from. It’s much cheaper than weekly flowers, won’t die like plants do, and you still have something alive and pretty to enjoy!
  •  Just don’t buy pop and you’ll get used to not drinking it or wanting it. Enough said, for health and budget reasons  😉 If you need to for a party, buy no name brand.
  • Buy a package of bulk blank cards and use them for birthdays, thank you’s, thinking of you, etc. Homesense often has beautiful cards to choose from, in 20 packs, for around $8. I’m not a big cards person, as I’d rather spend money on the gift, and don’t tend to keep cards unless the words in them are super meaningful! With an average of $5 a card normally, you’re saving yourself A LOT and still have something on hand when you want to share a sweet note (because it’s still good to be thoughtful and prepared!)
  • Shop Facebook swap sites or thrift store for clothing for your family. There is no shame in used clothing! Just watch for stains and quality. I have found some adorable sweaters and jackets for Elizabeth at Value Village!
    1. Keep your wardrobe simple. One mom friend said she has two Lululemon Wunder Under pants that she uses as her basic wardrobe. Since she takes good care of them in the wash, they will last for years. There are also multiple Pinterest posts on ‘capsule wardrobes’ and how to keep your closet simple and lovable.
    2. Shop in thrift stores in higher end regions of your city, as you will find even better treasures based on the socio-economic status of that region.
  • To save on hair care, go to a home-salon, as they have less overhead, and prices are always cheaper.
    1. Buy shampoo/conditioner in bulk, as this is usually cheaper (depending on brand)
    2. Dye your own hair, rather than the salon. My hair grows SO quick, that I only have it professionally done 1-2 times a year, and I do my own roots the rest of the year!
  • When hosting friends, keep it simple, and ask them to bring something. It’s okay to do a simple meal like spaghetti or chilli rather than that fancy, multi-ingredient Jamie Oliver meal you’ve been aching to try. People just want your company anyway, and you don’t want to give up community!

I hope that list was helpful and sparks some thoughts for you and your home and family. It’s certainly not exhaustive, and I would love to hear some suggestions you might have! Feel free to comment below so others can see your ideas!

Thanks for popping by!

 

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The best gifts for a new mommy

Now being a mom for six months, I’ve started to have some ‘ah ha’ moments. I understand why as a single gal when I went for coffee with friends, it was often quick or distracting. Hello, children. And when you do get together, all you talk about is your kids anyway. I understand why those first few months you feel like hiding out at home. You have a new normal to adjust to and your family of three (or however many) is of upmost importance to you. And when you do have a break, you just want to sleep anyway.

I’ve also learned of some easy ways ANYONE can bless a new mamma. Or a mamma with multiple kids. I think we are one of the easiest ‘tribes’ to please and make feel wonderful. So if you know of a couple who just had a baby, or is about to, here are some ideas of how you can make them feel amazing!

Before baby arrives…

  1. Freezer meals – breakfast and dinner! In fact, having meals and healthy options in the fridge is almost better than a ‘regular’ gift. Before Elizabeth arrived, my mother-in-law stocked us with several meals. I had also put together some slow-cooker freezer bags, breakfast sandwiches, Troy made waffles we could quickly toast, and we had also stocked up with some healthy quick Costco meals we could toss in the oven. Having both breakfast AND dinner options was wonderful, because, well, you NEED TO EAT! Moms need the calories but don’t always have the mental energy to put something healthy together. I don’t think I brought out the pots and pans for two weeks after she was born and oh how I loved that! Even if you go over to your friends house with cut up veggies and fruit, ready to eat, it’s an amazing blessings having healthy things to grab and fuel up on.
  2. Gift certificate for a pedicure and a massage. I did this about 10 days before Elizabeth was born and it was the most relaxing pedicure I’d ever had. Usually I hate pedicures (rub my callouses? No thank you!), but this one was amazing. Especially when your body is the largest its ever been, it’s nice to have polished toes and a relaxed back.
  3. Give Daddy and Mommy a gift certificate for a date night. It goes without saying that you treasure those moments as a couple before your family life changes forever. Troy and I took a four-day getaway to the coast and had some nice dinners out before our girl arrived and we’re so thankful we did! Not that we can’t now. But now it involves thinking about naptime, feedings, scheduling, and you think about her or talk about her the majority of the time you’re away from her! At least I do 😉 It changes your relationship and you want to treasure those times together.
  4. Clean their house! After Elizabeth was born, my Mom cleaned all my blinds and oh how I loved that! We had lived in a construction zone, so they needed it more often! This is something you could do before baby arrives to help the new mom feel like her home is clean and ready for a new baby. Wash her floors, clean the sheets, help with any storage needs she has … it’s SUCH A GIFT!

After baby arrives…

  1. Encourage them. Some of the biggest things I needed to hear were, “It’s normal to feel that way” or “you’re doing an amazing job!” Being called “Little Mamma” or having people tell me I was doing great would completely turn my day around. As new parents, you’re guessing. You don’t REALLY know what you’re doing and to have someone who has been there before tell you that you’re doing great goes a LONG way!
  2. Share your own mommy challenges. Somehow having another mom tell you how they struggled at first helps you feel like it’s normal to have an off day or struggle with self-doubt.
  3. Laugh about the hormones with them. Seriously. Make them laugh! I had an ‘ah ha’ moment at some point in the first few months that having a sense of humour about things would go a long way in sustaining me – both physically and mentally. Do I do this well? I try. And that’s all that matters. Actually, Troy told me one day that my sense of humour had increased or changed since becoming a mom. Happy sigh. I’m gonna need that humour. Hormones can be so wacky that if you as a friend, mentor or family member can find a way to put them at ease or make them laugh it will be a great gift to them!
  4. Pray for them, and tell them you are doing so. I was so blessed when friends would text that they were praying for me; about anything from nursing to sleep to hormones. But don’t just tell them you are praying for them, actually DO SO! Us mammas feel the prayers at 3am when we’re feeding, so keep praying for us! I so believe that God gifts us these children, and we are specifically graced for the kids we have. Psalm 127:3 actually says, “Children are a gift from the Lord.” When I remembered that, it made the hard days better, because I believe that whatever God gifts to me, He also gives me the grace for.
  5. Gift certificates! Whether it is for a Starbucks date for the parents, Superstore for groceries, or Costco for diapers and wipes, gift cards go a long way to help alleviate the sudden surge in the budget. It’s also fun for the parents to pick out what they like for their babe and having something to look forward to like a free latte is more wonderful than you know!
  6. Hug them. Seriously, just hug us.
  7. If you are going to go visit them and the new baby, ask them if they need anything from the grocery store. Not having to run out for milk and produce is a big gift!
  8. When you do visit, don’t stay long. The first few weeks especially, I found it hard to maintain conversation. I ran on adrenaline the first week or so, and then by week three, I was so tired. I should’ve rested more when she slept, but the fact was I liked the alone time or had things I wanted to do. But it’s true: rest when baby rests! So if you are going to visit a new baby, stay no longer than an hour. Drop a gift or do our dishes. Hold the baby, hug the parents, and be out the door! We can’t really maintain conversation beyond that point and even though we will insist you stay and cuddle our baby, what we really need is rest.

Having a baby has completely changed our lives. Not every day or moment is beautiful, but becoming parents has brought us more joy and love than we can describe. Having people rally around you goes such a long way as you navigate new waters! So if you’re wanting to be a blessing to someone, find some new parents – they will receive whatever you want to give!

Confessions of a domestic … pursuer

 

I tried. The sweet fall aroma permeated the kitchen, leading one to believe things were cooking properly. I turned the oven light on, not daring to open the door, lest I ruin it all. But it still sank in the middle and came out dense and undercooked.

Company was coming and my first attempt at chocolate zucchini bread was not to be shared. I cut off what parts seemed cooked through, and covered the rest up and hid it away in the pantry. I’ll decide later what to do with that. No one saw the mound of pathetically cut up chocolate loaf tossed aside like a forgotten favourite dress that got shrunk – unsuitable for public consumption. I got out the pretty napkins and cut a few pieces onto our robins egg blue plates. Perhaps the colour of spring will mask the mistake of fall.

I tried to show the perfect and hide away the mistake; the attempt that caved. Oh how many times does this happen in our homes? Where we clean up before people come over, only showing the good stuff. As though we live like that 24/7. We are all responsible for our perceptions of others, yes, but I believe vulnerability goes a long way in leading people down the right path.

So, if you, like me, have ran the domestic marathon over and over with failed attempts, take courage. We all fail. And this chocolate loaf to me now symbolizes a growing seed of unmasking for me. Admitting where I fail. Embracing my weaknesses so that Jesus can really shine through. Being okay with not being okay Every. Single. Day. I don’t know about you, but I could stand to release some control and let go a bit more. Control is exhausting.

And for the record? Marriage and motherhood is work, no matter what Instagram worthy picture you see on social media. I fight with Troy in my head way more than we fight in reality. (you know, to see if vocalizing something is worth it, I play it out in my own writers reel first). I told him this the other night as we went to bed at 9pm, chuckling, only to get up twice more before 11 to a crying baby. “Parenthood is not for the faint of heart,” he said. There were many midnight calls to Troy while he was working away where I was crying and Elizabeth was crying. Where I had no idea what to do but hold her and pray God would help us get some sleep. In the past I’ve put things on credit card I shouldn’t have. I’ve literally swept things under beds and carpets, temporarily, that are then forgotten. I buy pie, I don’t make it. And I let our dog Pippa clean up way too much spit up, and don’t wash the floors for days after.

It happens. We make allowances for things we can’t live up to when we think others believe we should be able to. It’s called pride, and Lord knows we all have it.

But in the middle of what often feels like our threads are unravelling in chaos or calamity, God is actually pulling at them, ever so gently with His Father touch, to weave something more beautiful on the other side. He is faithful, even when we are faithless, for He cannot deny Himself. (1 Timothy 2:13). The kind of grace that sustains my heart on days when I know I fall short is that God is always faithful, and His work in me is ongoing.

I love home. I love the responsibility God has given us as women to create beauty and peace for our families. Homemaking is an art – ever evolving and looks different for all of us. But, I think there needs to be an element of reality where we can admit what we’re not good at, and be okay with it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still need to look at myself in the mirror and see if I’m really ready to NOT tidy up before you come over 😉

 

 

The spiritual side of finances (From the book, After I Do)

After I Do Book CoverFrom Chapter Five: Money money money

After I Do, Copyright 2016

Available here (print and eBook) and here (Kindle)

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The spiritual side of finances

Have you ever walked around your house, looked in your closet, or sat online and actually listened to your heart play a song of “I wish I had this…”, “Why doesn’t mine look like that?” Or my personal favourite, “Now that we have this, I also want…” If I stop and listen, my heart plays that frequent off-key tune.

My desire for instant gratification actually steals my peace in the moment and the joy of what good gifts God has already given me. In my striving for more, be it a $30 item for home or something I think we need, as soon as I know what I want, I think about it. A lot. And it steals my present peace.

In fact just this morning, I sat down and opened my Bible to Psalms 105. This revelation had nothing to do with what I was reading, but I felt the Holy Spirit shine light on the anxiousness in my heart that I often feel about having all the answers now, in any area of life. It actually creates short-term vision and steals my present joy.

We are transitioning yet again in Troy’s work, and with a baby on the way, I have battled fear and worry.

But God, so graciously, pointed out this morning that there is something deeper in my heart that wants everything just right, just so, now. Like the Israelites, I am trying to get my manna for tomorrow, today. But faith doesn’t work that way; it requires trust.

I shared this with Troy as we had our morning coffee and it came as no surprise to him. Ah the openness we share! I realized there’s tangible evidence in how I operate around the home or in our finances of deeper issues in my heart. Oh instant gratification, you have met your match and seen the light.

A friend recently prayed for me in this transition and said that God is often working on the small things in our heart, in the seemingly big things of life. Because of the deeper understanding God has been doing in my heart regarding sanctification and the complete work of the gospel, I know that only God can change my heart; that His grace is sufficient for me in this weakness. Wholeness in that area of my life can only come by Him showing me His Father love and healing whatever it is in me that makes me want to know and have everything in order, today.

You see, finances can be very spiritual, and even show us deeper things going on in our hearts. Step-by-step on the journey, if we let the Lord in, I so believe He will graciously show us the sin in our hearts, heal us when we repent, and bring wholeness.

And in the meantime, I have a husband to partner with.

I don’t know about you, but Troy works far too hard for me to bring home whatever I want, whenever I want, or to make financial decisions without him. We both have an interest in what goes in our home and have creatively navigated much of that through DIY and restoring, like I said before. I know not every couple has the ability to work tools or loves to DIY, but any couple can be resourceful with what they have, while they save or plan for what they love.

We’ve both lived with an instant gratification mindset before, and then had to pay for it later. And now that we’re a team in this, what one decides will instantly affect the other. We need God’s continual help to make us good stewards of what He’s given us; all of His good gifts.

 

***

Lani Lupul, Copyright 2016

Available here (print and eBook) and here (Kindle)

Honey Do vs. Haven (an excerpt from the book, After I Do)

For someone who has worked in marketing and communications pretty much her whole adult career, it doesn’t come natural to promote my own work! Buuuuut….In case you haven’t yet ordered a copy of my book, After I Do, that was published this spring (sheepish tooting of my own horn), I would love to share an excerpt from the chapter, Creating Home. In this chapter I talk about how Troy and I navigated setting up a home together in our first year of marriage. If you or someone you know is about to, or wants to, get married, it may be a book that would inspire you to pursue a God-given marriage, and that when conflict arises, it’s normal and able to be navigated!

You can order a print or eBook version here, or order it for Kindle here on Amazon.

***

I clean while I cook. He leaves a storm of butter, spices, and unplugged appliances in his wake.

I cook with a recipe. He cooks by taste.

He wakes up making funny noises and accents. I wake up, well, I wake up.

You get my drift. We’re different. Thus the reason we actually work so well together as a team, but have also had to adjust to each other!

Honey-Do vs Haven

Since I am a more of an instant satisfaction person, my list of things I want Troy to build or complete around the house is ongoing. Especially with a baby on the way. He works so hard during the day, that I have had to learn (and let’s be honest, I am still working on this), that he needs home to be a haven, not a constant project. Our home needs to be a safe and cozy place that depicts us. I want it to be a place that Troy loves coming home to, not one where he is met with more demands or complaints.

How do I navigate this? Not so successfully many days. I tend to process and talk things out loud so that I’m not the only one thinking about something. Isn’t that kind? (note the sarcasm) On my more successful days, I try to gauge if Troy is out of work mode, or ask to set aside a time where we can talk budget or house projects. That way he knows it’s a ‘talk’ that’s coming and can give devoted time to it. I can then anticipate that the conversation will happen at some point, rather than in bits and pieces.

There was one night recently, where I was feeling hormonal and a bit bored of being at home, and Troy said, “Do you want to go room by room and talk about what we’d like to do before baby?”

Well, he spoke my love language! He knows having as much of home settled before our baby arrives is really important to me, and in a moment where I needed cheering up, he was intentional. Husband for the win! And as we speak, he is in the garage building laundry room shelving.

How has Troy navigated our home-life? Well, just like I said above, he’s had to learn to pick up on my cues as well. When I need his help or something is really a priority for me, he has learned to make it a priority as well. When he comes in and I’m still working on supper, he will ask if he can help with something. All things which we have learned to ask for and communicate.

Recently, he left me a little note in my journal that I found one morning. It said, “Good morning Beautiful! I love you so much! Thank you for all you do to make our home so beautiful and peaceful. Xoxo!” That note made my day, and was a reminder that my efforts in the home are for him as well as myself.

When we were both working full-time at the beginning of our marriage, we shared house cleaning duties and cooking. Rather sporadically, but we shared the duties. But now, since I am freelancing and have a lot more home time, I have carried the bulk of the cleaning and cooking. Troy is excellent at both and helps when I ask or need him to. I see that as a way I can serve him in this season, though I ask for his help with certain tasks (like cleaning our shower because the smell is too strong for this pregnant mamma!) With a baby on the way, we know that will change yet again, and we’ll navigate that together when the time comes.

As a woman who spent the first 33 years of her life on her own, I wondered how I’d navigate creating a home with and for someone else. I wondered if it’d be stressful, if I could handle it or would even enjoy it. In my mind, the expectations of my future husband were so lofty that I didn’t know if I could ever live up to them. But it has become one of my greatest pleasures in our marriage and a way I love serving Troy. Like I said before, I love hosting and having people in our home. I love creating a home together. And though there are things that ebb and flow and we can learn from or change, it is yet another reminder to me; that God often brings pleasure to those very things we were once hesitant about. Like a gentle reminder of the foolishness of fear, God gathers you up with a satisfying sweetness that is almost palpable.

I believe that you’ll learn to read your husband, as time goes by. You’ll learn to see when he needs downtime and appreciation, not another request. Likewise, as you express your desires, he can learn what is important to you. If you keep your communication open, you’ll learn how best to create the home that you and your husband love.

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After I Do Book Cover