Tag Archives: domesticity

Living Simply with Three Young Kids

Minimalism and living simply are all the rage these days. But for me, it’s always been my way of life. I don’t have any specific methods or mantras. It’s just all common sense to me.

A few years ago I made a list of Baby Must Haves I Do Not Have. A cousin who is expecting their first child was wondering if I could do an updated list now that I have more children and an even stronger grasp on what we can live without. But instead of just doing a list, I decided to gather some thoughts on how we live simply and why it’s important for our family.

So here we go!

HOW we live simply

I find the accumulation of stuff often happens when you are on the search for the perfect [whatever]. And so many products out there today are created with the sole purpose of making life easier. It’s a cyclical problem. But life doesn’t have to be the easiest or most comfortable it can be. Example: I don’t use a thick warm winter liner thing in my infant seat; I just use nice warm blankets that I use for other purposes and already have. Bonus: it saves you money!

Continuity with stuff
When you have all the same of an item you need a bunch of, it is easy to store and keep tidy. It even looks visually appealing. When I think of this, my thoughts mainly go to our kitchen and the plastic kid dishes. We only have IKEA plates, bowls and cutlery, and Tupperware sippy cups. They all stack super well and keep our cupboards tidy and easy to navigate.

A place for everything and everything (75% of the time) in its place
It’s no secret I love to organize. Tidying up is probably my favourite household chore (not to be confused with cleaning – the two are very different). When you have a designated spot for everything you own (which in our case really isn’t much), cleaning up is a breeze and takes a few minutes at the end of the day. No, my house isn’t perfection when I go to bed, but it isn’t daunting to think of what it takes to get it ship-shape.

A purpose for everything
I love the look of a beautifully styled built-in in a photo on Instagram, but why would anybody need so many ceramic animals and books for the sake of books? Don’t they know they have to dust all of that?! I think I own one thing that does not serve a practical purpose. It’s a cute little bird I got at Target during their closing sales. Okay, I guess I do have a mantra…”say ‘no’ to tchatchkes!”
And kind of related…

I’m not emotionally attached to things
I know a lot of people who have a collection of Willow Tree Angels to tell stories of events that have happened in their lives, or have special items they have collected from their travels. That’s awesome for them, but for me that’s unnecessary clutter. I DO have things from places I’ve visited, but they are all useful things. I have blankets, bowls and boxes from a handful of countries around the world that all get used often. I don’t have a memory box or anything for my boys. I have no clue what they wore home from the hospital (except for Calvin’s super cute hat!).

Say “no” to unwanted stuff
I don’t feel obligated to keep a gift if I don’t like it. To whoever gave us the punch bowl set as a wedding gift, thanks for the cookie jar in exchange! Hashtag priorities. I don’t like having stuff around me that I don’t like or that I won’t use. And purging is a regular occurrence in our house. We don’t have much, but I am always amazed at what I can still thin out of our belongings.

WHY we live simply

Easy to clean up
For us AND the boys. When something has a home, it’s easy to put away when you’re done with it. I can tidy up in the amount of time it takes for Tim to tell them a bed time story. Kitchen and laundry not included. :)

The boys get into less trouble
When there is less stuff around, there is less stuff for the boys to get into. I rarely have a huge mess to clean up of stuff they never should’ve gotten their hands on.

Keeps me punctual
It’s easy to get out the door on time when I don’t have to hunt for shoes and jackets or whatever that could be scattered throughout the house. My house is clear so my head is clear to think about what needs to be done in what time frame.

I am a happier parent
When our house is in disarray, I find I get angry and annoyed at the boys much quicker. My patience is thinner and I do not enjoy parenting. You’ve all seen those images that say the messier your house is, the happier your kids are, or something like that, but I don’t think that is true for our household. When things are tidy, I can breathe easier and enjoy my time with them.

My home is more available
I think hospitality is a (very underused) gift of mine. I enjoy having people over, whether it’s family visiting from out of town for a handful of days, a friend for a day, or half the moms and their kids for a morning. I love it! And I know most people don’t care about the cleanliness status of a house they are visiting, but like enjoying my kids more in a tidy house, I can enjoy the time with others in my own home a whole lot more! And again, clean up is not a daunting task after they leave.

This all focuses mainly on living simply with stuff, and a little bit with finances. What I haven’t touched on it living simply with time. Tim and I are both big homebodies and have very little on our plates. We are not yet at a point in our lives where we are rushing every which direction for the kids’ activities, but honestly, I don’t think we will ever be at that point. I feel that with the basic principals we live by, simple living will follow us wherever we go.

But check back with me in 5 years.

Diapers For Two

Don’t worry. This will probably be my one and only post about cloth diapers.  I am not that kind of a blogger.

Last night Tim put up some shelves in Calvin’s room. More people = more stuff = need for more space to put stuff. This morning I loaded up the shelves, and it looked too cute to not write about it.

photo 1


What you can’t see behind the stacks of diapers are a handful of large screw holes. I had originally bought some bracketless shelves from Target, but it turns out they only work if your walls are perfectly straight. Our are not. So I am going to live with holes until we paint.

For Calvin, I had about 2 dozen diapers and washed them every 2-3 days. I figured I didn’t need to completely double my inventory for a second child because I won’t mind doing laundry a tiny bit more often. So I added a dozen extra gender neutral diapers for a total of 35. The past couple weeks I have actually had Calvin in disposables since I was trying to eradicate an ammonia problem I was having. I tried 4 or 5 different things, and I think I finally got rid of it! Along the way, I also learned how to properly clean things with the hard water we have here and not have that smell build up again.

So now I have fresh smelling diapers again, and I was so happy to be able to get them all set to go. I resized the pale coloured ones to the smallest size for the new baby. That way they are easy to distinguish in the laundry so I can stuff the right sized liner into it. And also, so I can show you this picture and you still have no idea what we are having! Calvin’s room actually looks like a complete nursery for the first time ever, with cute babyish things on a shelf.

photo 2


Since this whole diaper station is in Calvin’s room, I will probably have to stash a small amount of the baby’s diapers somewhere else in the house so I can do changes at night or when Calvin is napping. Haven’t thought that through too thoroughly yet.

Meanwhile, here is what our actual “nursery”, which is actually just a corner of our room, looks like now. Pretty much all ready to go. What do you need besides a place to sleep? And look! I have things packed for the hospital! I am so on the ball.

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Folding Towels

When I worked at the hotel, I spent a fair amount of time in the laundry room when housekeeping was short on hands. This is where I learned the best way to fold towels. If you are like me, towels would typically get folded in half with the ends together a couple times until it is your desired size.

But I have a way to fold them if you want them to look a bit more attractive in a pile! Here’s how:
1. Fold in thirds lengthwise
2. Depending on the size of the towel, fold up in thirds, like I have done for this smaller hand towel, or in half then half again for larger bath towels.

There you go! The only negative thing about this method is that it is difficult to do in the air, like the tried and true way I used to fold them. You either need table or counter space, or just use the floor.

Here are my guest towels, looking all pretty, waiting for our next guests (which happen to be my parents who are coming tomorrow!).

And when you are consistent with your folding technique, your linen closet will look tidy and organized.

Yes, I also learned how to fold sheets. I do know how to do fitted sheets, but I am not the greatest at it. And I don’t have extras, so I never have to fold any. But if you are interested, my aunt has great instructions on how to fold fitted sheets.

Happy folding!


Meal Planning

Over a month ago, I wrote a post telling of my dislike for deciding what to make for supper. After that, I decided that I would try my hand at meal planning, and filled the entire March page of a calendar with ideas for every day. Except Sundays. I left Sundays blank as a flex day, just in case we went out one day during the week, or ended up with extra leftovers. If nothing else, eggs or sandwiches did the trick.

I enjoyed not having to think of what to make every day, so I have now done the same thing for April. These are the short steps I used:

1) inventoried the freezer so I know what I had on hand and what needed to be used

2) plugged those items and other ideas onto every day

3) wrote a shopping list

meal plan

There are so many ways to go about meal planning, and this is my easy peasy version.

Gift Wrapping

I love wrapping presents. Way more than shopping for them. I never give a gift in a bag. It is boring to look at and less fun to open than a wrapped box. The unfortunate thing is that after getting married and having a baby, I had an excess of gift bags. Let’s not even get into the amount of pastel coloured tissue paper I had (which I sold for $5 on Used Victoria).

So when it came time to give a gift, instead of buying wrapping paper, I just flattened a bag and wrapped it around the box. It is easy, pretty and free! When the box size lines up well with the bag size, I try to keep the handles on to add a little something special.

You might notice the fold on the right side. I did that because I wanted the handles to be centered but was too lazy to trim the paper.

You might notice the fold on the right side. I did that because I wanted the handles to be centered but was too lazy to trim the paper.

Another thing I have done is just wrap the box in packing paper, which we also had excess of after moving, then putting a pretty ribbon on it. Ribbons are yet another thing we had a lot of after wedding gifts.

And that is how I wrap gifts!

What’s For Supper?

Like many other moms I am sure, I really dislike deciding what to make for supper. I think for me, it is the most frustrating part of being a mom and wife. This is how meals work around here:

Grocery Shopping
I usually do one big shop at the beginning of the month for staples and things for the freezer. Then after that, I go about once a week for fresh fruits and veggies and milk.
I don’t like to shop for specific meals because that gets way too expensive. I like to get what I am used to working with.

The Budget
$325 per month. That includes any restaurants and coffee.

What I keep on Hand
Dairy – milk, cheese, sour cream (usually), eggs, butter

Fruits and Veggies – apples, bananas, other fruit that is on sale, ice burg lettuce, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes (usually), peppers (usually, unless they are way too expensive), potatoes, yams, freeze dried onions (because I don’t like or use them enough to buy whole ones)

Meat – pork loin, ground beef; when it’s on sale I get whole chickens to quarter and stewing beef

Dry Goods – cereal, peanut butter, honey, pasta, different forms of canned tomatoes (diced, paste, etc.), black beans, salsa, rice, oats, white and brown flour, white and brown sugar, chocolate chips

Spices and Seasonings – seasoning salt, chilli powder, paprika, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, ketchup, BBQ sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce, various salad dressings

I really only go outside these items when there is something special to cook for or I remember something I can make that I haven’t made in a while (like remembering about pea soup would make me buy ham and split peas). Terribly exciting, no?

Meal Making
Since I always get what I am used to working with, I always only have certain ingredients on hand which means I make the same meals over and over again. My go to meals are:
meat loaf, meat balls, pasta
chili, stew
sweet and sour pork, pulled pork
roasted chicken
borscht, chicken noodle soup
nachos, taco salad

Again, I can feel your excitement.

For a while during the summer I was doing a meal plan of sorts, where I would plan my meals for the week, but that didn’t give me new ideas, simply just putting all the decision making on one day. I am lacking something inside of me, like creativity or motivation or something, to get myself to make new meals. Yes, I see delicious looking recipes online and think “That’s a great idea!” and watch Rachael Ray and say “That is super simple!” But it stops there.

So I guess the point of this post is to ask you a few questions:
1) What other staples do you think I should add to my list that could broaden the scope of my culinary skills (I’m not looking for specific recipes…I know how to find those)?
2) Meal planning? Yay? Nay?
3) If you want to share, what is your grocery budget and how do you stay on target?

A Morning in the Kitchen

I try to do the bulk of my baking while Calvin is napping, but that doesn’t always happen, so I have to try to keep him entertained while I work. So of course I let him play with in the Tupperware cupboard. But once he’s done with that…
17 (9)…he finds himself a playmate.
17 (3)

Then he lets me know that he is interested in what I am doing up high on the counter.

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So I let him take a little peek.

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Then, while my back is turned, he makes a run for it!

17 (1)

I need baby gates.