Sunday, November 24, 2013

Simplify #1: Buy Nothing November

One of my lofty goals for this month was to Buy Nothing in November (apparently I was also doing 30 days of gratitude this month, oops?). I thought I'd check in about how it's going and share some tips in case you want to take on your own "buy nothing" challenge. 


Check In: 

With only a week left to go, I'd say Buy Nothing November is going very well. I have not bought a single piece of maternity clothing. Huge accomplishment. I have not been to Starbucks at all. I've taken far less trips to Walgreens for last minute things I need. I technically have only purchased one item for the baby, which is a cute baby book on Etsy. I know I should've waited until the end of the month but I already feel like I'm forgetting important dates/milestones, so I just went for it. It was only $30, so my bank account will survive. I also exchanged one item for another that ended up costing slightly more, which I think is cheating but Eric technically paid the difference and it's not his challenge. Ha. For the most part I've been really happy with not buying and only once or twice have thought "woe is me, I can't do anything, I should at least be able to buy things!" That passes quickly :) 

Here is what I did so far to be relatively successful with this challenge: 


Step 1: I identified what I was buying that was not necessary. 

I first identified what I was buying that I really wanted to stop buying. No, it wasn't toothpaste or groceries. It wasn't gifts for others. It was maternity clothes, accessories, tea at Starbucks, impulse food purchases, things for the baby, books, items for my classroom etc. The list helped me know exactly what I was going to avoid buying for the month. 


Step 2: I thought about when and where I was buying these things.

Most of my shopping that I wanted to avoid was happening online. I mentioned I was not always a big online shopper but since maternity clothes are basically only available online, I got into a habit of looking at the sales and websites on almost a daily basis and then inevitably wanting something. It really helped me to just avoid looking at online websites. I have no idea what Old Navy is selling these days and this is for the better, because I'm sure it's a great deal. 


Step 3: I found some different mindless activities to do online so I didn't shop. 

Sometimes it's 8pm and I'm too tired to read or do work so I just do something mindless online. This has become a larger problem because I'm really trying to take time at the end of every day to rest. I was in a habit of looking at Old Navy and H&M online during this time so I broke the habit by doing some other mindless things. 

- I cleaned and organized the apps on my iPhone. I totally download apps and then never use them. Every once in awhile it's essential to delete some of the apps I haven't used since the day I downloaded them. 

- I cleaned out of my Feedly feed. I never have time to read ALL the blogs I subscribe to and I like to keep extras that I enjoy in case I have some free time. However, sometimes I just find myself NEVER reading a blog and then it obviously should just stop cluttering up my feed. 

-I deleted e-mails. In particular, I deleted sale e-mails immediately. This stopped the inevitable "oh, but it is such a good deal" justification.  

-I spent lots of time on Pinterest instead, looking for teaching ideas, gift ideas, recipe ideas etc. 


Step 4: I tried to plan ahead when possible.  

I am definitely a planner, but sometimes when I end up spending money is when I failed to plan ahead. Its 6:30am and I need a science lesson for that day. I come up with something by 6:40, but then I need to stop at Walgreens to get some of the materials necessary to do the project. If I planned ahead, I could ask the parents for some of the items or I could find them for free elsewhere. This month, I just went by the theory that if I didn't have the materials, I could not do the project. This forced me to plan ahead a bit. 


Step 5: I planned other fun things to do other than shopping. 

Even though I need to rest as much as possible, I still need to get out of the house sometimes and do some fun things that don't involve shopping. I tried to return to my tourist planning self a bit this month because that entertains me online and gives me something more fun to focus on than shopping. 


Later this week I'll be talking about having a simpler holiday season, which I'm even more motivated to do now that I've curbed the spending habit. 


 What are your tips to stop yourself from buying unnecessary items? 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Birthday Gifts: Cake!

I don't know about you but I love cake. I also love cupcakes, ice cream and cookies. There is really not too many desserts I don't love. But I don't frequently make cakes. I just enjoy eating them. 

However, in the last year or so Pinterest has inspired me to make a different kind of cake: the teacher supply cake! 

I made my first one in April of this year for my classroom special education aide who was hoping for her own classroom (and got one, wahoo!). 

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In order to make a teacher supply cake, you need to gather lots of teaching supplies first. Obviously the best time of year to do this would be at back to school time when there are lots of sales. If you plan to keep your cake circular, you have to put some thought into that when purchasing supplies. For the cake above, I used a paper towel roll in the middle. Then, I used elastic bands to wrap mechanical and regular pencils, post it notes, kids birthday crowns, erasers, binder clips, and cute cupcake stationary pad. I used a giant post it pad as the base of the whole cake. The elastic bands hold things together pretty well, but I did just some tape between the layers. Then, I covered the elastics with ribbon and some scrapbooking stickers! 

I just made another one for my classroom assistant who's birthday is this coming Thursday. I'm telling you, teachers love school supplies, we have problems :) 

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I decided to make this one a bit more stable by using a toilet paper roll as the base. I wrapped the top of a shoe box to put it on. Then I used markers, pencils, index cards, tags, glitter pens, post it notes and again the fun cupcake stationary :) I really should have got some thicker ribbon so you can see the elastics, oh well! 

If you like the cake idea but don't know anyone obsessed with office supplies, don't worry- you can still make these fun cakes with other items. How about a 30th birthday "cake?"

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This cake was made using two recipe card packs attached together as a base, and then the center is one of those tumbler cups I got at Old Navy- it's silver and sparkly! Then, I attached some items using elastics again- this time goldfish crackers, gum, candy, and lollipops. Since I'm no stranger to the 30th birthday celebration, I had the "celebrate 30" in my house already, ha. 

Clearly, you can make these cakes with basically anything! They can range a bit cost-wise depending on what you want to include, but they can be a pretty inexpensive gift if you plan well :) 

What is your favorite go-to birthday gift? Have you ever made a unique cake? 


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Week 25 and 26

I can't believe how fast 2 weeks pass when it comes time to writing my updates, somehow I am always caught off guard! I started Week 27 today. Some people say that's the third trimester, but since I am in no rush for THAT to come I'm going to take advantage of the stupid indecisive we can't agree on anything in pregnancy and say it's next week :) 

Week 25

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Week 25 was an important turning point for me as far as realizing that I just cannot do everything I used to do before I was pregnant. This may seem obvious, since I gave up biking months ago and running a few months later. Not too mention drinking, of course. However, during Week 25 I somehow found myself with a super busy week at work, followed by a super busy weekend, followed by another busy week at work. And guess what? It did not go well. I was stressed the entire time, had more than 1 stand up for too long dizzy spells, and just felt overall grumpy by the end of it. I did have some unexpected things pop up during the week, like a sudden chipped tough that meant a dentist trip but I want to be able to handle these unexpected things a little better. Fortunately, I took a serious look at what I could handle right now and decided that I am now limiting myself to one weeknight commitment (only on weeks when I don't have a doctors appointment- those count as a weeknight commitment) and one weekend commitment. This is in addition to work outs, which occupy time as well obviously. I'm hoping having a concrete rule for myself will help me say no more often. As things go on, I may find that I have to adapt these rules, but for now I think they will keep me a bit more sane. Meanwhile, the baby seemed to not even notice his mom's craziness. He was bouncing all over the place all week. Or perhaps he thought that was just the norm, since clearly I was doing it too! 

Week 26

This was a very exciting week for so many reasons. First of all, life settled down a bit. I finished parent/teacher conferences and I began to limit my commitments. Plus, it was time for my Baby Shower! I wrote all about it already, so I'll spare any further details but it just made having a baby that much more real. Plus, I feel much more prepared for the baby's arrival now that I have almost all of the things we will actually need for him. 

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The baby also continues to move like CRAZY these days and finally Eric was able to feel it too, which is super exciting. I also continue to be able to see him move (if I lift up my shirt). I swear I've been writing thank you notes but then I decide to look at my tummy for awhile. Ha. 

Other notable parts of Week 26: I continued to love yoga and swimming. I submitted my official maternity leave paperwork. I started my maternity leave plans…sigh. So much realness. I have no idea how I got here. Really. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Baby Shower

The perfect solution to my grumpiness of last week? How about… a 3 day weekend, 2 college roommates coming to visit, 1 baby shower for a super spoiled not-yet-born baby and his super lucky parents? Yup, it worked like a charm. 

I started the weekend by picking up my college roommate Ashley from the airport and visiting one of my favorite North End Italian restaurants, Trattoria Il Panino, followed by a delicious chocolate cannoli from Modern Pastry. There is really no better way to start a weekend and celebrate the end of parent/teacher conferences than that. 

On Saturday, it was baby shower time! I have to admit, I was a little nervous about the whole baby shower thing. I didn't have a bridal shower, so I kept having dreams last week that I got presents and I didn't know what they were, or it took me like 17 hours to open presents and everyone was yawning. Ha. Luckily, none of this actually happened. My family and friends gave Eric, the baby and I the perfect shower. I was able to recruit my cousin, Eric's cousin and my friend's kids to help me open presents so there wasn't as much focus on me and I could move through it a bit quicker! Sorry in advance, but I had a hard time choosing between the many wonderful photos all taken by Caroline, of course. 

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My best friend Katie put together the adorable centerpieces. 

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My mom and Eric's mom made this amazing diaper cake! It's filled with lots of our favorite things, and at the top is a blue Snuggles. Snuggles is a bear that my aunt gave me when I was 1, and I proceeded to sleep with for the next 18 years of my life. The original Snuggles was lost during a weekend trip in college (yes, I still brought him everywhere at this point, probably a sign that he was lost…), but I still have many different colors and sizes of Snuggles around to this day. He is my go-to present for all my friend's babies and I am sure my son is going to have more Snuggles than he knows what to do with! 

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I decided to embrace the boy and wear blue instead of pink, but don't you worry- I totally have this same dress (in non-maternity) in pink. Ha. 

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The biggest surprise of the day was a present from Lisa, Amber and Anais. I cannot wait to dress the baby in this because it is so true, hahaha. They are such wonderful friends to send me presents to open before and during my shower!

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The best part of the day was really all the love, and not all the gifts, but there were many great gifts as well. I tried to be very picky about what I actually registered for. By that I mean, I did not visit a store at all where I knew they would just try to convince me I need a lot of crap I don't. I did a lot of research on what I need and don't need, and got a lot of advice from friends. I'm not saying I was a minimalist by any means, but I tried not to go crazy. I was rewarded by the fact that we got almost everything on our registry, yay! We also got two beautiful blankets- one knitted by Eric's grandmother and the other made by Eric's mom's friend and it's a BC blanket. Speaking of BC, my BC friends got me an amazing toy chest which I didn't even know I needed but seriously helped in the organizing process! Two of my friends from high school got me a spa gift card which I plan to use when things get even more uncomfortable either for a prenatal massage or a mani/pedi when I can no longer see my toes. Yikes. 

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It was a great day. I always feel so very loved after events like this but I think this is a very special feeling because it is so clear just how much this baby will be loved too, and what is better than that? 

I spend the rest of the weekend relaxing, doing yoga and organizing all the presents. We seriously have almost everything we need now, and I've organized all of it, believe it or not. That doesn't mean there is not still a ton to do, but the more productive I am, the better I feel about it all :) 

I hope you had a great weekend too! 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Gratitude, Take 1

Thank you for the many positive comments on my grumpy post the other night. I think because I read so much about teaching when I first began, I just assumed I'd want to do the same for pregnancy/parenting, but I just haven't found the selection to be nearly as much up my alley! Perhaps I am going to find more of my information online and through word of mouth and that is okay. Hopefully work will start to ease up on the stress and that will help my mood as well. I was supposed to be done with conferences yesterday but I had a cancellation and a no show, so who knows when I will be done now. Sigh. I'm choosing not to think about it as much as possible. 


Nilsa and Lisa did the 30 Days of Gratitude last month, and I really enjoyed reading their posts. I decided to play along this month in preparation for Thanksgiving at the end of the month. Plus, clearly I need to do some appreciating for all the many great things I have right now. 


Day 1: I'm most grateful for my ability to find wonderful friends. 

Day 2: In this moment, the thing I love most about my family is how much fun I have when I am with them, from my immediate family (aka Eric… and hopefully future baby haha) to larger family of our parents and siblings. I also love how much they support me in everything I do. 

Day 3: Something that made me smile today was Eric running a 5K and crossing the finish line looking strong :) 

Day 4: The best thing I smelled today probably one of the few pieces of Halloween candy I enjoyed… Milky Way Caramel, anyone? 

Day 5: One of the memories I am most grateful for is all of my trips with Eric. 

Day 6: Thank goodness someone taught me how to swim. I don't know what I would do without it these days! 

Day 7: The strongest part of my body at this moment is most of it! My hips, legs and feet for holding up this giant tummy. My arms for compensating for my least strong body part, which is my abs.  My body is doing a lot these days and I'm grateful for it. 


What are you thankful for this week? 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Super Grump

Sigh. I know I've made it no secret on this blog that I'm not really a baby/pregnancy/wedding, rah rah yay type of person :) Believe me, I wish I was. I despised basically every moment of wedding planning (remember the wedding meltdowns?) and I've basically dreaded being pregnant since I first realized that some day I probably would have to be (seriously, can someone please invent a way for men to do this? I'd be a great dad!). 

Now that I'm at Week 26 (what?!) I can officially say there have been many surprises for me in this process. In some ways I have hated it more than I expected to, but in many others I have enjoyed it more than I expected. There are moments where I'm actually enjoying researching what car seat and baby carrier I want (but not the stroller, that brings back angry wedding planning Kelly), pinning nursery ideas and even the zen of prenatal yoga. I enjoy every moment that involves this little boy kicking all around and making himself known. The other day I discovered I can SEE him move and this brought about a whole new round of entertainment and giggling. 


But sometimes I just get grumpy. I guess everyone does. This week, I am grumpy. It's a combination of problems most of which cannot be blamed on this baby. I've done all my parent conferences in the last week (finish today, wahoo!). I like meeting with parents, but it's exhausting especially because I am still expected to be teaching as normal throughout all of this. Then, I somehow ended up with a super over scheduled weekend, that was fun but not at all restful. Just for fun, let's combine this with daylight savings, which I enjoy in the morning but just makes the nights long, cold and dark. So dark. Also, am I getting sick or does this scratchy throat thing just like to return every few weeks to freak me out? 

I was looking back at pictures from earlier this year (as I start to put together Christmas presents) and I was just getting sad looking at all the fun things I used to do. I visited breweries and wineries and ate yummy dinners that I really enjoyed (for some reason I really kind of hate eating out now…). I took a lot of pictures, and I had energy and I went on beautiful runs and bike rides. I know, I know, it's only 9 months… but really, my energy, freedom, workout ability is not going to return with a newborn, so it's not just 9 months. I have no idea what the future holds as far as what social events I'll be able to manage, what wineries I'll be tasting from, how many dinners out I'll really be enjoying. I know, I KNOW there is so much more to look forward to. I know that no mom in the world would care about a brewery over her baby (nor will I). I know that many would give up wine for the rest of their lives if it meant a healthy baby at 26 weeks. I know all these things… and yet. I am a super grump. I am tired. I want to sleep and read and suddenly like food again and have no one bug me for multiple days. Unless it's to bring me a grilled cheese. Even you, kindergartners who just CONSTANTLY need their shoes tied and coats zipped. 

But alas… I'm approximately 14 weeks away from having a baby, which pretty much guarantees I will never have another day without someone bugging me again. Sigh. 

And for my final rant… I just despise any and all pregnancy books. I haven't made it through a single one, which is unlike me because I am usually happy to read about basically anything. I can't stand the negativity (ironic- I know). Yes, I know I'm not going to sleep for the rest of my life, stop reminding me! Then I started trying to read what I thought would be an informative book on breastfeeding and I wanted to tear it up instead… all I learned was that the author is going to JUDGE JUDGE JUDGE everything I do. Go away, I'm returning you from the library and I'll figure it out when the baby comes. The end. 

I promise my next post will be filled with so much cheer you will forget this grumpiness even happened. I promise. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Buy Nothing November

It's been in the back of my mind to do this a few other times. I knew Ashley did it, and I thought it seemed like a good idea. I don't think it's a coincidence that I decided to really take the plunge in the middle of my pregnancy (well, slightly past the middle, yikes). I can say this with certainty because the first time that Ashley did it, she was also in the middle of pregnancy. My theory on why is because having a baby makes you buy stuff. Too much stuff. Ironically I have not bought a single flipping thing FOR the baby, except for a pair of girls shoes that we used to take pictures of the "baby's first trip" in Europe this summer. Obviously, we are not having a girl- so I passed those along to a friend who has a girl and I am back to: have not yet shopped for baby. Oh wait, I did buy a stroller the other day, that's kind of for the baby, kind of to keep me sane during maternity leave. Win-win. 

So if I haven't bought anything for the baby, what have I been buying? Well, it started at the beginning when I felt like poop every day. I turned to my old friend Dr. Google and then bought every POSSIBLE "morning sickness fix." I'm talking 15 different kinds of tea, ginger gum, motion sickness bracelets, lemon drops, B6 vitamins… I can't even remember what else because the vast majority of it didn't really work. 

Then I started to feel better but the tummy started growing and so the maternity clothes shopping began. I resisted it for awhile, then discovered that the clothes are actually much cheaper than I thought and Old Navy is ALWAYS having an online sale. And suddenly there was no more resisting and lots of packages showing up at my door every single day. Oops. Then I signed up for two prenatal yoga series… and bought myself a new swim suit. If I'm buying a maternity sweater… I might as well get a matching scarf? No? 

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In the grand scheme of babies, I probably really have not spent that much overall… except maybe when you include that stroller. I am very thankful for all the help we will have actually purchasing the things the baby needs. But I have found that just clicking a little button on my computer and having things appear at my door is really just more addicting than I ever knew it was (because to be honest, I just don't online shop that much normally). So, I'm going to break the cycle and save a few dollars in the process, I hope. 

I know everyone has to do Buy Nothing November their own way, so here is mine: 

1. I can obviously pay bills, buy food, and essentials. By this I mean, I am about to run out of toothpaste. I won't be going without because it's "No Buy November" but I may steal some of Eric's (yes we have our own toothpaste) until I can find a good sale. I will only go to Trader Joes with a specific list and will not buy any additional impulse buys while I'm there. Last time I was there I swear I left with pumpkin everything… tea, muffins… who knows what else. 


2. I can start Christmas shopping, as long as I stick to ONLY gifts for others. It will stress me out too much to wait until December, so I will probably buy a couple of Christmas presents, hopefully nothing crazy. Like every year, I am trying very hard not to over-do presents. 


3. We will still go out to eat, but use restaurant gift cards whenever possible. Eric would probably try to end this marriage if I enforced a no eating out policy three months before we brought into the world a tantrum thrower that will make restaurant eating a thing of the past. So, I won't :) But I will try to use a couple of restaurant gift cards we have to save a few dollars. 


4. Just a brief list of things I cannot buy: maternity clothes, scarves or other accessories, just the cutest outfit ever for the baby (just say no), books (for me, the baby or my classroom), tea at Starbucks (I do currently have some gift cards but I may try to just hold off and use those in December), impulse food buys, anything for my classroom at all, presents that are not a good deal, salon services of any kind (not that I do this often anyways) and probably many other things I am not thinking about right now.


5. I will avoid reading sale e-mails or visiting websites "just to look" but if i do find myself wanting something, I will write it down. I think it would be fun to see if I save any money doing this. 


Would you ever consider going a month or more without buying anything? What would be the hardest thing for you to give up?