How a woman from Japan who loved to clean changed my life for the better

If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo, she is an amazing woman who is the queen of tidying. She is also the woman who had given me increased headspace to survive the day to day of being a mom.  As Wikipedia explains:  Kondo’s method of organizing is known as the KonMari method, and consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that “spark joy” and choosing a place for everything from then on.

I first discovered her through my husband. I noticed he was head down in his Kobo head every night and I was curious to know what book he was into (note: we are both avid readers and like to share a good book). I was confused/shocked/impressed when he showed me the title The Art of Tidying Up and explained it was a ‘how to’ book. This was very different than our usual fiction genre.

He was so excited to put the lessons into action – I went along the ride and got so much out of it.  It’s a whole process of organizing your life and tells you which order you need to start. For me, it was my biggest problem area – clothes, purses, shoes and jackets. As women, clothes can be our best friend (skinny jeans that fit!) and worst enemy (why aren’t the spanks getting rid of my lumps and bumps in this skirt!).

My closet was typical – I owned real estate in almost every closet in the house. My formal dresses hung along with my son’s 17 Habs jerseys (hubby is a fan), my jackets in basement storage by the boxes of diapers and the shoes – sigh the shoes.  This category makes me sad because I was so thankful when my feet didn’t grow after pregnancy (a fact that I was terrified about) but they were just forever changed – something about their shape or width or the bones – I have no idea. But it means that my favourite and most comfortable heels, boots, wedges or sandals never fit the same. Yet I held on to them, like art – to be adored from a distance, but never to be touched. Collecting dust, but looking beautiful. Sigh (again).

Okay, back to tidying! We sent the kids off to the grandparents’ house and started the process. Here’s how it went down:

Step 1: pull items from every corner of the hours and place them in one room. This was a feat on its own. It’s very terrifying to see your closets empty and all clothes and shoes piled up to the ceiling. Yikes!


Step 2:  touch each item and see if it sparks joy for you. No talking, no rationalizing, no negotiating. This was HARD. I kept breaking this rule telling myself, “what if I lost the baby weight”, “I love this sweater even though it’s pilled”, “This dress is so pretty, even though it fits funny”, “if I throw everything out, I won’t have any clothes: .  Marie’s advice here is to focus on what we want to keep versus what we aren’t keeping. So 4 hours later I had 7 garbage bags of items that didn’t spark any joy in my life.

Step 3: Put all of your ‘joyful’ items back in the closet with the KonMari method. This whole process was already great, but then we got to put the very plentiful pile of clothes back in the closet – pants and shirts in this very specific vertical way where you can physically see all of your clothing options laid out. It even applied to socks! She explains that the socks shouldn’t be folded over on one another but rather laid flat. It took some getting used to, but it actually does make a difference.

So It’s been about 3 months since we started our Mary Kondo ways – we’ve since  done our paperwork and then will move onto books next  – I was a bit skeptical at first, but I LOVE it. My closet is no longer ‘barfing’ clothes all over the place, our bedroom has been SO much cleaner and I can pick my outfits for work or play in 60 seconds flat. Seriously. No more trying on 100 outfits – everything in my closet is a fav outfit and it fits!

The largest benefit has been clearing my mind of the extra clutter of what to wear or the shame of throwing piles of clothes onto a closet (or shove them under the bed before a playdate)  and always trying to clean up after myself. It allowed me to have mindfulness around meal planning and just keeping the children alive and happy – what a novel idea!

Written by Karen Bhangoo

Karen is a busy mom of two kids, trying to not just survive each day with them, but thrive by living in the moment and finding the positive. Professionally, she’s a communication or marketing pro working for over a decade in public relations, sports sponsorship and internal communications. She is happily married, appreciates a good grammar joke, and adores Oprah.

 

 

Guest Post by: REACTINE™

Whatever your lifestyle and schedule, your time at home is supposed to be relaxing. Yet taking it easy might not be quite so simple if you have allergies. Getting home may be the end of your day, but it may not be the end of your suffering.

allergins

 

So how do you make sure the place you eat, sleep and relax is an agitation-free zone?

Take a look at this simple guide to the areas of your living space where you may be storing up trouble for yourself.

Naturally, there are many different kinds of allergy so not all of these tips will work for all allergies. Some will be more practicable than others depending on your own set up.

But it should at least get you thinking about which parts of your home maybe causing you problems.

Flooring

Where you can, avoid using carpets, look at using hardwood or linoleum floors. Since replacing the flooring in your home may not be an option the next best thing is to make sure carpets are low pile, as opposed to high pile.  If you do have carpets rather than flooring, make sure you vacuum thoroughly at least once a week with a good quality vacuum cleaner, ideally twice.

Furniture

Use easy to clean furniture and dust it regularly. This means avoiding upholstered furniture and opting instead for things made from leather, wood, metal, or plastic.

If you have synthetic cushions, wash them regularly, and use allergen impermeable covers.

Windows

Though letting in some fresh air might seem like a great idea, keep the windows closed at all times during seasons when you suffer from allergies.

Since blinds tend to gather dust, try using curtains made from washable materials such as cotton or synthetic fabrics, and wash them regularly.

Beds

Make sure your pillows and mattress have dust mite proof covers. Wash your sheets and pillow cases at least once a week in hot water (higher than 54°c).

Wherever possible keep any pets you have out of the bedroom. If a furry friend has had a nap on your bed, wash your bedding immediately.

Storage

Be it decorations or just things you’ve left around the house, these items collect dust. Ornaments, books, magazines, children’s toys and any other miscellaneous items should be stored away. This will help you keep surfaces clean and dust free.

When stowing these items away keep them in storage bins or bags made of plastic.

Surfaces

Prevent surfaces from collecting material that could trigger your allergies.  In the bathroom this means sponging the shower after use, and cleaning tiles with disinfectant.

In the kitchen keep all worktops clean by wiping with detergent or disinfectant cleaner. Likewise in your fridge wipe away excess moisture from surfaces to stop the build-up of mould.

Ventilation

Make sure you turn on any fans in either the kitchen or bathroom. Where possible these fans should direct air outside of your home.

In basements or any other part of your home at risk of mould consider using a dehumidifier, and keep doors to such areas open to help with ventilation.

If you have a wood burning fire, avoid using it where possible. The smoke and gases from these fireplaces can have an impact on respiratory allergies, so don’t use your fire, or consider replacing it.

Another thing you can do is use an air purifier to clean the air inside your house. Air purifiers work to suck the airborne allergens out of the air and trap them inside a filter.

Cleaning

Finally, if you’re going to keep allergy triggers in your home to a minimum, the place is going to need cleaning frequently.

Ideally if you suffer from allergies you shouldn’t be doing the cleaning at all. However since you may not live with people who are ready, willing and able to pick up the slack, if you do have to clean consider the following things:

[Are there any more tips and tricks you find help keep your allergies outside your home? Leave them in the comments below.]

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/allergy/HQ01514

http://www.webmd.com/allergies/healthtool-allergy-proof-your-home

http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/allergies/indoor-allergies/how-to-allergy-proof-your-home.htm

You may have heard of a reverse mortgage, but you may not know what it is. The confusion surrounding it may be stopping you from applying for one. However, a reverse mortgage can be a huge help to you during your retirement. It is a special type of loan designed to give retired homeowners like you access to fast cash without the worry of fast repayment. Read on to see how a reverse mortgage can make your retirement easier.

 

How Reverse Mortgage Money Can be Used

The money you receive from a reverse mortgage lender can be used in any way you can imagine. However, if you already have an existing mortgage you must use part of the reverse mortgage funds to pay it off immediately. Remaining funds can supplement your monthly retirement income to make it easier to pay regular bills. Alternatively, you can use the home equity funds to cover large costs during retirement, such as medical expenses, vacations or home improvement projects.

 

When You Have to Repay Your Reverse Mortgage

The name “reverse mortgage” may be a bit misleading to you because it may make you think of paying a reverse mortgage lender every month. However, in this case your lender will be paying you. You will not owe the balance back until you sell your home, move out of it or pass away. If the latter occurs before you can pay off the balance your family will be under no obligation to repay it on your behalf. Your reverse mortgage lender will simply take profits from the sale of the home up to the amount owed. Your heirs will receive the remaining profits from the home’s sale, if any exist.

 

There is no Exact Loan Duration to Consider

If you obtain a traditional home loan you will have a contract stating that you must pay the loan back in set increments for a set number of years. No such agreement exists with a reverse mortgage. Instead, the terms are that you must use the home as your primary residence until you repay the balance. Therefore, your reverse loan can last for any number of years based on your living arrangements. However, you can only obtain one when you reach retirement age, and only if you own your home. Once you obtain it, the duration of the loan will depend on how long you reside in the building in question.

 

How Home Maintenance is Handled When a Reverse Mortgage is in Effect

If you think you do not have to pay property taxes when you have a reverse mortgage, think again. The bank will not take over care of your home in such a circumstance. You will still own the home. Therefore, you will be responsible for all maintenance costs associated with its ownership and upkeep. Such costs include insurance, taxes and necessary maintenance. If you fail to keep up with some of those costs your home may be jeopardized.

 

Reverse Mortgages and Financial Planning Requirements

If you are considering applying for a reverse mortgage it is important for you to understand all of the details of such an agreement. A trained reverse mortgage expert can help you with financial planning requirements surrounding your reverse mortgage. For example, if you want the available cash associated with a reverse mortgage but also want to leave your home to your heirs as an inheritance extra planning may be required. A financial planner can help you avoid a situation where your untimely death could lead to your family losing the property. You can also ask the financial planner for other reverse mortgage advice. Once you have a clear picture of how the process works you will be better able to decide if it is right for you.

Written by: Lana Hawkins

Living rooms are hubs of domestic life where families spend quite a lot of time together. Most parents are worried about the dangers that wait outside, but know that there are many risks that also lurk right under your nose.

A typical living room is littered with objects and furniture that can injure the little ones. Therefore, to help your baby stay out of the harm’s way, you need to baby-proof the space. You are going to have to engage in some redecorating and rearranging.

So, take this chance to boost the safety, but also rethink the design and décor of the room.

From a baby’s standpoint

Things may seem fine from where you are standing. However, to assess the situation properly, you need to get down on your knees. This kind of perspective allows you to uncover problems and safety pitfalls that your child comes in contact with as it waddles around.

These include pointed corners and edges, pieces that stick out, electrical outlets, appliances, fireplaces, and footholds that could allow the baby to reach unsafe heights. Before embarking on a shopping spree adventure, see if you can shift the existing layout of the space or take the design edge off.

Find an angle

Namely, you need to focus on sharp angles and edges around the room. A coffee table is one of the most notorious pieces of furniture, so see if you can replace it. I would go for an ottoman: it is soft and curvy, meaning it is a baby-proof option that can also fill the role of a coffee table.

Likewise, keep a close eye on couches and side tables that could also feature sharp corners. Soften up anything that seems threatening with padding. You should be able to deal with those pointy corners and edges for good. Also, remember to keep floors free of small objects.

Piece by piece

Furthermore, inspect all your furniture and check whether it is prone to falling over. Your little fellow will always find joy in pulling and pushing on objects. The good news is that instead of investing in new pieces, it is possible to use furniture anchors for stability.

And when you do go spending, you might want to look for easy-to-wipe materials like linen and vinyl. It might be hard to make a fashion statement and obtain functional furniture at the same time. However, some manufacturers of comfortable lounge suites in Sydney prove that one can get the best of both worlds.

 

The bottom line

While frequent falls are unavoidable, you can prevent them from causing any injuries. To mitigate the impact, identify floor areas of the living room you can soften. A nice rug is a good way to anchor your style and also cushion falls against a hard floor surface.

If you choose the right size and material, it can serve as a play mat as well. For extra safety, use rag pads to keep the rug firmly in place. Finally, bear in mind that you can re-purpose materials lying around your home, such as old towels, and use them as DIY softeners.

Turn a new leaf

It would be wise to streamline your décor and do away with excess clutter. You can stick to decorations that appeal to your sense of style, but they need to stay out of your baby’s way (and hopefully do not draw its attention). Avoid objects like heavy vases on tables. Be careful with hardwood and metal pieces.

Anything that is within easy reach of the baby must be found a new place. It is also highly recommended to store away decorations that contain tiny pieces and consequently pose a choking hazard. I would encourage you to embrace the sublime elegance of minimalist interior design and witness you space in new refreshing light.

On the safe side

A baby who is learning to walk and constantly tumbling over calls for extra vigilance and effort. So, how about you give your space a nice spruce-up while also improving the safety of your child? Hope for the best, but assume the worst: baby falling and knocking its head against hard surfaces and sharp corners.

Ideally, you should your take on baby-proofing endeavors before the new arrival. Begin the project from the ground up. Get down on all fours, and comb through the area. Turn your living room in a safe haven and gain the much-needed peace of mind.

School is back in. Summer is fading, and as those kids pack up and head back to school, many parents find themselves faced with the tricky challenge of navigating back to school costs. It can be easier than you think to save money during school time, and there are a number of simple tricks that can add up to big savings throughout the year.

Pack Lunches

Packing lunches can seem like a chore. For working parents, getting home after a hard day on the job, it can seem daunting to devote time to something so menial when all you want to do is relax. In reality, packing lunches can be a fun activity if approached from the right angle! Bring the kids in the kitchen and get them to help in any way they can! Not only will you save money not sending 10 dollars each day for lunch, but you can squeeze in some quality time with the little ones as you plan meals and prepare them for the next day! This is a great way to instill the importance of cooking into your children, and can transition into a lifelong love of creating meals in the kitchen! Check out this list of simple ideas for children’s lunches to spark some ideas for those important meals that will keep your kids charged up while they learn.

Keep track of old school supplies

While it may not seem like much, keeping track of school supplies throughout the year can be a huge cost saver. Hold on to as much as possible, be it pencils and pens at the end of the year to duotang binders. These can easily be repurposed for future years, and worst case scenario you could just use them for some cool crafts if they are totally beyond repair.

Set a budget and stick with it

Budgeting for back to school can be daunting. Some many unplanned costs spring up through the year, from a lost bookbag to a stolen laptop for those older university students, that it can seem pointless to budget for the back to school season. I find it is good to set aside a small chunk for these unplanned costs, and to try to write down a small budget for school costs throughout the year. I found this infographic from the Loan and Go resources page handy in giving me some ideas of what to consider when drawing up that budget. The infographic also includes some interesting facts regarding the Canadian education system. Check it out below!

After several requests, here is a month of recipes for the warmer months!  We also have a Winter/Spring Meal Plan posted as well as a Bread Blog post.

I try to plan out 15-20 meals per month and then purchase the meat and dry ingredients the first Tuesday of the month. The first place I start is my freezer.  I do an inventory of what I have on hand – I actually write out a list.  Then, I check my pantry and go from there.  Here is August’s list of meals:

Meal 1 and 2 – Pan/Oven Beef Tenderloin Steaks (this is a family fave – everyone eats every last bite and we make it a few times a month)

I buy the long beef tenderloin roast from costco (around $145 to buy now – I quoted $90 on the last post, so it has gone way up in price) and then cut it into about 15+ steaks, which last 5 meals for us. The key to this one is buying a really nice cut of meat.  We like this better than BBQing our best cuts of beef and it is so easy and works every time.  A great entertaining recipe (as long as you really like the guests – this one is a bit pricey!) This is a great option for a date night in – save the money on a sitter and buy better meat! No link for this one: here is what I do:

We like to add Balsamic Brussel Sprouts or Roasted Parm & Garlic Cauliflower with homemade potato wedges and side salad.

Meal 3 – Cool Veggie Pizza *Vegetarian*

Meal 4 – Triple Terrific Caesar Chicken Fingers & Carrot Fries

Meal 5 – Cheesy Taco Casserole *Vegetarian*

Meal 6 – Taleggio Mac n Cheese with Sausage – if you can’t find Taleggio cheese, use Asiago & Mozza!

Meal 7 – Asian Salad with Chili Chicken

Meal 8 – Scalloped Potatoes & Balsamic Pork Tenderloin (add a size salad) This is the best scalloped potatoes recipe I have ever come across – all of the potatoes are yummy, not just the ones on top!

Meal 9 – Pork Satay & Coconut Rice (add a mandarin salad, or some sauteed peppers to the side)

Meal 10 – Ramen & Brocolli

Meal 11 – Foil Veggies & Grilled Chicken with your fave rice.  This is an awesome marinade! I put half on cut up veggies (peppers, zucchini, carrots, red onions) and then half on 4 chicken breasts and marinated for the day. Heat up the grill and put the veggies into a few packets and then the chicken right onto the grill.  This is a super flavorful marinade.  Tastes like chicken kabobs without the hassle!

2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp salt 
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 cloves crushed garlic
8 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp red wine vinegar 

Meal 12 – Zoodles & Turkey Meat Balls. You might need to buy something to make the Zucchini noodles/zoodles – we use a Salad Master’s food manual processor that makes short little curls of zucchini.  You could probably use a grater on the thickest side, or even a peeler.  The trick with zucchini (for zucchini sticks or anything) is they are really full of moisture, which you need to get out.  Put all of your zucchini into a collander.  Toss a few tbsps of salt over the zucchini.  Let sit for 30-60 minutes.  The salt will pull the extra moisture out that will make your meal soggy.  Rinse well to get all of the salt off.  Squeeze out with your hands while in the collander, and then squeeze out once one with some paper towels or a clean dish towel.  Next, add a tsp of oil into frying pan. Cook zoodles for 5 minutes or until heated through.  Top with the Turkey Meat Balls and your favorite tomato sauce.

Meal 13 – Crispy Parm Chicken with Ceasar Salad

Meal 14 – Cheddar Rosti with Earl Grey Salmon & your fave wild rice

I buy the large salmon fillet from Costco (skin removed) for about $39 and can make 4 meals out of it. Pour the marinade over the salon portions and freeze. It defrosts super fast and cooks up in about 35 minutes at 375F.  I triple this recipe for the big pack of salmon, otherwise, if you are buying enough salmon for one meal, this marinade should be enough.

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 garlic gloves, minced

cut open 3 Earl Grey tea bags and add to marinate & mix.

Meal 15 & 16 – Gourmet Mac & Cheese – kids love it, it has cottage cheese instead of meat and this recipe makes enough for 2 meals.  Freeze one for another busy night!

Meal 17 – Turkey Nachos in Bell Peppers with regular tacos/burritos for the kids

Meal 18 – BBQ Burgers with Guac & Chips

Meal 19 – 3 cheese chicken parm over whole wheat spagnetti or zoodles

Meal 20 – Cheeseburger Gnocchi – another kid favorite that is super easy and can be made ahead and frozen

 

Happy Meal Planning!

xo

Carol

 

 

 

As I write this, I am smelling a lovely Lavender scent coming from the product details from my brand new Munchkin Diaper Pail.  The bags are scented and pretty much everything that was included in the box smells wonderful.

 

Speaking of smells – this is exactly why I was so enthusiastic to review the Munchkin Diaper Pail.  We had an old second hand (or maybe 5th-hand!) Diaper Genie with my first child, who is now 8. We got rid of it after she was out of diapers and got a really modern looking diaper pail in grey to match the nursery for my second child.  It definitely fit right in with our modern decor, but it smelled SO BAD!  Even with just a few diapers in it, it was awful; with the lid open (worse) or closed (a bit better)  Our youngest just turned 2, so I am hoping that we are nearing the end of diapers, but then we will most likely still be using an overnight diaper/pant, so we will still need a diaper pail.  I couldn’t stand it any longer and was so happy to start using the Munchkin Diaper Pail.

First – when you open the box, this is the first thing you see.  I was fairly excited to get my toddlers nice-smelling room back!

Let me tell you,  the STINK really did end right there with the new pail.  There is barely any smell, even if the lid is opened, because the bag twists with each new diaper that is added.  It doesn’t twist into sausages, as you may recall in older diaper pail versions.  I like that it doesn’t make the sausages with twists in between because the twists un-twist when you go to take it out and then you waste too much of the refill bags.

I haven’t counted the diaper difference when the pail is full from my previous pail to this one, but I am very certain that this pail holds more.  I can pretty much go the entire week between garbage pick ups without having to empty it, as long as I am tightly wrapping the diapers.  To empty it, just open the lip by using the foot pedal. The little button on inside opens the front door, which opens nice and wide.  This bag of diapers as shown below is about 1/3 or maybe 1/4 of what it can actually hold.  It is Thursday, and the garbage went out on Tuesday, for reference!  It also has a handy little cutter (you can see it in the photo below right on the front lip of the opening) so no scissors are necessary.

There is also a spot for an Arm & Hammer puck in the lid.  You simply mount it and turn clockwise to lock it into place and turn the opposite way to remove it.  It works great on keeping everything smelling nice.

I love that this Diaper Pail has a universal refill system.  Both Arm & Hammer Snap, Seal & Toss Bags and regular refill rings fit into this pail.  Simply open the front door and then press the silver button on the inside of the door, just above the cutter.  You then lift up the silver inner lid and can either add in the ring or the Snap, Seal & Toss Bags.  The bags definitely don’t last as long as the rings, I haven’t found, however, they are way smaller to store and they have less waste.  There isn’t the empty ring when the bags run out that needs to be discarded.

Speaking of waste, I love that Munchkin plants a tree with each pail purchase.  This is amazing!  As a mom who has used a combination of cloth and disposable diapers with all three of my kids, it is important to me that we cut down on waste as much as we can.

This Diaper Pail is a 10/10; easy to use, holds a ton of diapers AND NO STICK!  If you are in the market for a new diaper pail, or looking for an amazing gift, look no further.  You can even purchase a year supply of the refill rings, which would be a wonderful gift to any new mom all on it’s own.

 

To order yours, visit www.munchkin.com 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The power of smart location.

2

Never lose your purse, phone or wallet again with Tile Mate—the most reliable and easiest way to track your valuables. “Piece” of mind is as simple as attaching a Tile Mate to anything you care about. The Tile App allows users to ring their Tile to locate a misplaced item, find their phone even when it is in silent mode and view the last known location of their item on a map.

Tile’s #1 best selling devices, network and mobile app work together to help people
locate the things that matter to them most. Their global community spans 200 countries and territories and helps people locate more than half a million items everyday.

tile

15034368_10154537689260170_1187450578_oThe Tile is perfect for someone with a busy life, large house, or less than perfect memory! You really only need it when there’s trouble but it’s a great insurance policy to make sure you don’t lose something valuable.  The great thing about attaching it to your keys is that you can toss your keys into an important bag and then not only will you find your keys if you misplace them but also whatever bag they’re in. 15053442_10154537689380170_906989165_o I have a few friends who use it to keep track of their pets – I could actually see putting it in my kids’ backpacks as an extra backup in case of emergency.
I like that it uses other people that use the app to help find something if it’s outside of the Bluetooth range.  From an environmental standpoint I wish that there were a replaceable battery so that they didn’t have to get replaced every year, but I think it’s a really great idea for a product, and for anyone who loses things.

~ Haley Shandro”

MSRP: $30 each, $90/ four pack.
Availability: Online at Tile, Amazon.ca, and in stores at most major Canadian retailers.

It’s exciting to expect a new baby, especially when it comes to decorating a nursery. There are so many cute things to buy–from little items to big furniture–that it can be easy to get carried away.

The trouble with purchasing necessities for a nursery is that they cost a lot of money, and most of it is useless after two years. While there are some items that you can’t avoid purchasing (such as a crib and bed sheets), there are practical approaches to preparing the nursery for the baby that will last for years.

Here are 5 practical and useful nursery tips…

Convertible Crib

Cribs are expensive. Even the well-built second-hand ones you find on Craigslist run upwards from $100. Brand new cribs start at $170. The trouble with purchasing a crib is that it is often a poor investment in money. Most babies grow out of their crib by age two. Instead of spending money on a basic crib that won’t last, look into convertible cribs.

The best ones convert not just from crib to toddler bed, but from toddler bed into a full size bed as well. While they may cost a little more, usually starting at $200, the difference in price is worthwhile in the long run. Your baby will grow into the bed, instead of out of it.

Vibrant Paint

Paint is not often thought about during the initial planning phase. Beautiful bed sheets for babies encourage new parents to paint the nursery walls in cool blues and pinks that scream baby. The trouble with this is that when the baby moves into the toddler bed (and big kid bed) the walls have to be re-painted in colors that are more suitable for the age. Choosing the right colors right away can save time and money later. Forget the pink and blue color scheme.

Wood Blinds

Curtains often need to be replaced when the baby moves into the toddler or big kid bed. Instead of investing a lot of money in curtains, save money by purchasing wood blinds. They can come without cords, so there is no need to worry about the blinds being pulled down, and there is no strangulation hazard. They last longer, are customizable, and are easy to clean.

Changing Table/Dresser Combo

You will have to buy a dresser for your baby at some point. Some moms get away with it for the first few months, when everything is easily on hand in baskets, but the day will come when the baskets will no longer be good enough. Adversely, changing tables are often only used for the first 9-12 months and then discarded. Instead of spending money on a changing table, get one that comes as a combo with a dresser. These sets often look like a hutch, and can prove to be practical for years as a bookshelf/dresser combo.

Storage Cubby

Keeping certain items easily on hand is important. Accidents happen when changing a baby and having necessary items within reach can save time and a bigger mess. Instead of spending money on an organizer that hangs off the crib, buy a storage cubby with square cubes. Then invest in some colorful canvas baskets to put in the squares for organization. The cost is almost the same for the two different organizers, and the cubby will be useful to your baby for years to come.

When you’re ready to set up the nursery, read some tips on how to set up a mom-friendly nursery.

If you live in a rental property, you’re planning on selling your home soon or just like to keep things simple, there’s a lot to be said for leaving your décor as a neutral canvas. Not only does it avoid the commitment of a color scheme, it allows you to change the look of a room with the seasons, get creative with accessories and avoid wastefulness. Hardly anyone has the budget to switch up their sofa or carpet every year, so keep things elegant and simple, and switch the trimmings around instead.

Wall clocks

You can make a timekeeping piece the center of attention of any room, with a wall clock, particularly in the absence of a fireplace, and it’s an especially striking feature to match up with the rest of your color scheme. Whether you opt for a hyper-retro timepiece with pendulum and case or a frameless decal, a clock is one inexpensive detail that you’ll spend a surprising amount of time looking at.

Cushions

Don’t be stingy with the cushions; layer these on every surface worth sitting on, including the window alcove, the recliner and your desk chair. Cushion covers are delightfully inexpensive embellishments, so take the sofa as your centerpiece and refresh this as the impulse takes you. In spring you might accessorize with lemon and navy nautical stripes, then in fall deep orange and moss green tweed will take your fancy. Keep a set for every season, and change them as you would your bed linen.

Curtains

As with cushions, curtains are simple to change up. If you have a good quality pair that are looking a little bland, add a slash of color by sewing a band of your chosen color over the hemlines of the material. Or, for even less commitment, buy tiebacks or tassels in your pattern du jour, and simply switch out when a new whim takes you.

Bits and pieces

If you have a unifying theme, it’s amazing how easy it is to bring all the elements of the room into your vision with a few temporary items. Cheap, colored candles will subtly reinforce any accent hues, as will fresh flowers of a corresponding color. Plain lampshades can be jazzed up with the addition of colored ribbons or paint, as can picture frames and container baskets. Weave your accent hue into everything in small ways, and you’ll achieve a big impact.

Just switching these trimmings around can make all the difference to your home and to your wallet. You can achieve optimum elegance for much less.

Give your inbox a dose of delight.

Sign up to receive helpful parenting info, program updates, contests, and special offers - right in your inbox.

WE ARE HONOURED TO BE TRUSTED BY: