Thursday, December 29, 2016

Living Room

I didn't think I'd love another room more than the Master Bedroom, but it happened! The living room is done! I'm so excited the sun finally came out enough for me to photograph the room. The only big project we did was to change out the half-window back door for a full window door. It lets in so much more light and was a great compromise to my plan of tearing out the whole wall and installing giant french doors (which I still wouldn't mind to do someday if we decide to stay here forever.)

My goal was to use minimal decor and allow all the light and the beautiful vaulted ceilings to take center stage. I love how the giant mirror Tom bought me for my birthday (flea market find!!) brightens the room even more. I also wanted to implement a lot of plants into the room, because I've been reading a lot about the air in our homes and how plants purify what we are breathing in and out all day. Walker and I spend the majority of our time here, so it makes sense to me to make our home as healthy of an environment as humanly possible for him.

The only non-useful, non-sentimental item in the room is my "Good Vibes" throw pillow from Urban Outfitters. I had to have one throw pillow, just one. And if it's going to be the only one, I'd say it's a pretty good choice. I'm basically in love with it.  I'm thrilled with how everything turned out. Let me know what you think!

(but we got ours on Craigslist, new with tags!)
(ours is well-loved and it looks like they don't sell it anymore, but this one is similar)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Birthday Bear

We had such a fun day celebrating little man's birthday! I pretty much refused to spend a second of the festivities on my phone, so I really only got pictures of the decor before we started. I am trying to be more present when I'm with him and really soak in the time we have together, so I especially wanted to make that a reality for his big day. I think there are some good shots of him circulating around with my family so I will post them when I get them. I know I have a lot more mental snapshots than I could have ever captured on my phone, so I am content with that. We went with a simple, low-key theme - just a few decorations, coffee and cake. It was low stress and beautiful. I made the cake myself which was super fun and terrifying at the same time. It's the first cake I've ever made so I was really glad it turned out. He wasn't too into opening the presents, but he was really excited about the toys themselves. We let him eat his own cake! It took him a minute to figure out what was going on but once he had the first bite he was pretty much convinced that cake is the best thing ever. It has been a struggle this week to get him to eat his normal food after that! I think his favorite part was being around kids for a day, he LOVES kids which just melts my heart. He loved showing off his dance moves for everyone as well. Such a little attention seeker! We are so thankful to our family and friends for joining us and so thankful for the year we have spent as parents to the sweetest boy.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Simple Giving: Birthday Edition

Our little bear is one year old today. I can't believe it's already been a year, but I also can't believe we've only known him for a year either. It seems like he's always been a part of our family. As tempting as it's been to buy him everything under the sun, I really wanted to establish simple gift giving from the get-go, so we decided on the four gifts idea (something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read). So here they are!

1. Something You Want

          This little guy from The Land of Nod has been in my closet for about six months, so I'm soooo pumped to finally get to give it to him! It's a beautiful piece of furniture for his room, and he is going to LOVE rocking on it. You can check it out here!  

2. Something You Need

          Little man is almost exclusively on solid foods and is loving to feed himself with his spoon these days, so we are going to let him eat a bit more independently with the plate and bowl set from Avanchy. These are eco-friendly silicone and bamboo dishes that suction to the table so they stay put for meal time. So excited to try them out! You can view them online here!

3. Something to Wear

           The something to wear category kind of backfired on me this year, because I did not take into consideration that Walker may have a growth spurt right before his birthday. I bought him these beautiful handmade leather baby moccasins on Etsy. I let him open them early so that he could fit them for a little bit at least haha! 

4. Something to Read

        Walker loves to read, so I was particularly excited about picking out a new book for him. We went with a classic, something that would be fun for him to listen to. You can get your own copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom here

 I'd love to hear any of your simple gift giving ideas!! It's so fun to get him things I know he needs and will love while at the same time making the day about him and the year we've had together, not about a mountain of presents.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 Ways to Save Money in 2017

The new year is almost here, and I always like to get a head start on my resolutions because I LOVE New Year's resolutions! I love fresh beginnings and big dreams and new plans. So fun! Something that makes my list every single year is our finances. Last year was to pay off our debt which (AHH) we completed! 2017 will be my first full year as a stay-at-home mom, and with just our one sweet baby boy I think I'll really have time this year to devote to developing some big money savers. I have a whole notebook of house projects I'd love to accomplish in the coming year which will take some extra cash, so here are five ways I plan to save money in 2017.

1. Cloth Diapers
             I'm pretty sure the day we announced we were pregnant with Walker I had three people ask me if I would be cloth diapering. My answer: NO. Too much mess, too much work, too gross. However, we did receive enough free diapers to last us until now (a year), so I haven't really considered the cost of diapers until now. Although I did use the free diapers regardless of brand in an attempt to save money, I am really trying to reduce our waste as a family so when purchasing diapers I have only considered eco-friendly brands which are significantly more expensive than generic brands. With a year plus of diaper time ahead of me, I ate my words and purchased some Bumgenius organic cotton cloth diapers to try. I actually found some very lightly used ones on Ebay (don't judge). Probably the most natural, eco-friendly and budget-friendly diapering option. When comparing to a monthly subscription to Honest diapers, this will save me over $750 this year.

2. Homemade Cleaning Supplies
             Okay it's no secret that I LOVE The Honest Company. Everything they make smells sooo good, and every one of their products has the cutest patterns and packaging. I have been subscribing to their cleaning supplies bundle for about six months now and have really enjoyed it. However, with a focus on saving money in 2017, I am going to try my hand at making my own cleaning supplies. I actually bought a 5-gallon bucket of homemade laundry detergent from a fundraiser for $35, and it has been six months and it's less than a fourth of the way used. So assuming it will last us another 18 months that's $17 total in 2017 that I will be spending on laundry detergent. I looked up a homemade dishwasher detergent that will cost about $6 for the year. I can use ingredients I already have in the house (baking soda, vinegar, etc.) to make homemade all-purpose spray, toilet cleaner, etc. So even if I double the amount I think it will cost to clean my house with homemade supplies this year, we are looking at under $50 (WOW). When compared to the cleaning supplies subscription I have been buying, this will save me $400 this year. I realize that the subscription is more expensive than generic brand cleaning supplies, but I am pretty passionate about all-natural, eco-friendly, non-toxic, etc. products, so making my own should kill two birds with one stone.

3. Consolidated Trips
            Right now to break up the day, I drive to Springfield (15 minutes away) at least once a day if not more. I split up my grocery shopping and toiletry shopping and house project shopping to different days and don't really plan my trips very well. I currently fill up my car about three times a month, twice for normal use and once for our monthly trip to St. Louis. In 2017 I am going to attempt to only drive to Springfield twice a week. Even if I have to drive there three times a week it should cut my normal gas usage in half, taking out the third fill-up each month. Over the year that should save me about $480 (one $40 tank of gas x 12 months). Plus I'm excited for the challenges of planning out my trips and finding fun things to do at home or in Ozark to break up our day. An added bonus - reducing our family's carbon footprint.

4. Meal Planning and Home Cooking
            I currently meal plan on a semi-regular basis, but this is an area that I know I can beef up my efforts and do better. My goal is to reduce our grocery shopping bill by $15-$20 per trip (we shop once a week). I also have days when I'm just feeling lazy and we order pizza or eat out. Each time I let that happen we are easily adding $25-$30 to our monthly budget. I'm not saying we are never going to go out to eat in 2017 as a family, but if I can reduce that to once a month or once every six weeks, we'll be saving money for sure. I also plan to cook a vegetarian meal twice a week to save money on the meat. It will be fun to learn how to create a balanced meal without meat, and I'm excited to try it out. If I can reduce our overall food cost by just $20 a week, that's $1040 in savings for the year!

5. $25 Date Nights
            Tom and I really enjoy going out together, and we try to go on a date every month. We probably spend about $40 on a date for food and dessert, sometimes more if it's a nicer restaurant. I think it would be fun for our monthly dates to give ourselves a $25 limit. We tend to stick to the same restaurants and the same entertainment, so this will save us money and force us to get creative and get out of our box a little more. Even with the conservative calculation of $40 per date, dropping it down to $25 will save us $180 over the year.

So altogether these are 5 things we will be doing in 2017 for a total savings of $2850. Which should cover my notebook of house projects. Yay :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Project 12

As an aspiring minimalist, I have been trying to come up with a solution to a problem area for me - my crafting "leftovers". I have a bag of material and a box of odds and ends from various projects that I have been hanging on to "just in case", which is a classic minimalist no-no. The problem is that these aren't things I can donate...who wants a bag full of material scraps and a box of ribbons? I couldn't bring myself to throw them away either. Trash is easy for me to throw away, but this stuff has potential!

So I have challenged myself for the month of December to focus all of my creative energy on cleaning out the crafting boxes and creating unique exciting new products from all of 2016's leftovers. It's a great way to clear out space, recycle and gear up for a fresh start in the new year. If you wonder about the randomness of this month's featured items in the shop, there you have it. The fun thing is that I'm actually really excited about the first product I've come up with (pictured above). I will probably continue selling it after this month as well! You can view and purchase the Arctic Taggie Toy here.

December is a month focused largely around the celebration of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and the precious gift of salvation that he brought to us when he came to earth to die for mankind. Giving is such a wonderful way to honor his sacrifice and to remember the gift we've been given in him. I have chosen Project 12 to be the recipient of all of the proceeds of these fun up-cycled products this month. It seems fitting since it's the 12th month and there are 12 days of Christmas haha :)

Project 12 is an incredible multi-part ministry that rescues, aids and empowers women and girls of all ages all around the world. Please check out the information in the link and share with your friends! You can be involved this month by purchasing from my shop or by donating directly on the website.