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Smart, thrifty, baby cuddling mama/papa seeks comfortable carrier to hold baby, go lots of places, and wash easily. Preference given to carriers that are not the most expensive of the world.

Does this sound like you? Then I have a response that you’re gonna love.

You see this? This exceptionally long piece of fabric? Its gonna change your life. Not in a E-Harmony, my life is complete now, change your life. More of a baby-lugging, wallet-saving life.

Let me explain…

Required Items:

  • Very Sharp Scissors
  • Exceptionally long fabric (At least 5 yards (15 feet) though I think an extra yard would have made it easier for Mr. Man to use)
  • A friend with a discount card for fabric for extra savings(or maybe you are this person already, then nix that step)
  • A friend who has a baby in some form (or maybe  you don’t have a friend to share with, or maybe you want two carriers for yourself, or… you get the picture)
  • Instructions

I could not find the cotton knit with curling edges that the instructions suggested, mainly because I am helpless in a fabric store. BUT I did find a lightweight cotton-type material that curled on the edges (read: does not need to be hemmed). Mr. Man says it looks like the inside of his gym shorts. I said I didn’t care, because all the little holes make it way cooler than a jersey-type wrap. That’s what I said anyways, I have no proof either way. But once we bought the material we simply cut it in half lengthwise so we had two long-narrowish (about 30 inches a piece actually) pieces of fabric and we were done.

Yes, that’s it.

Ok, maybe wash it too.

Especially if your baby likes to suck on everything like mine does.

If you have 2 and a half minutes, 3 minutes if you’re a slow cutter and $20 (less if you are a better dealfinder when it comes to fabric) and you have a completely functional and super comfortable baby wrap. Perfect for schlepping that darling little one from here to there and back again. If you get a nice manly colour, then you can pawn baby off on daddy when  you are schlepping around together.

TADA!

If this is your first time using a non-structured wrap, PLEASE make sure you are tying your wrap correctly before putting baby in it. There are lots of tutorials and instructions online. You can just youtube videos of the different ‘carries’ or if you are a visual/text learner like me, I found Wrap Your Baby was excellent for a step-by-step guide for tons of different carries.

Try it, see if it works for you, love it, report back.

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Iced coffee is one of my favorite parts of summer. That cold, smooth iciness mixed with the thrill of caffeine. Refreshing and invigorating, like a Slurpee with a kick…in the budget! Why is everything yummy so expensive? Which leads to the question, can I make iced coffee at home that is just as yummy?

When I was pregnant with Boo I tried so hard to follow all the “rules”. No caffeine, no deli meat, no soft cheeses, limit your sweets, don’t color your hair and avoid hot tubs. With our second little one my heart is still in the same place. I want to love and protect and give him or her the best possible start BUT Mommy has cravings. And hasn’t slept a full night in 18 months (by full night I mean that unrealistic expectation of 8 or more  uninterrupted hours).

I still try to avoid most deli meat, haven’t had soft cheese (the no-dairy rule made this easy), I really don’t eat sweets regularly, I haven’t colored my hair (because honestly I haven’t had time for that!) and I barely have energy to shower. You can forget about long luxurious soaks in hot water. That would involve either scrubbing out the tub or going somewhere with a hot tub. Hasn’t happened.

But caffeine. Caffeine and I are tight this time around. I tried for the first 3 months to “limit” my intake. But then I got the go ahead from my midwife to enjoy one cup of coffee a day, she even said guilt free! And that studies have shown no risk to the baby with consuming moderate amounts of caffeine.

Oh the joy in my heart! I’ve never been a big coffee drinker. I never drink it black (yuck!). I put so many doo-dads in my coffee it is practically unrecognizable by true coffee connesiuers. In fact a true cup of full bodied coffee will make me jittery and hyper. I can’t even handle that small amount of coffee. I’ve developed a half and half approach. About 3 or 4 days out of the week (depending on the previous night), I treat myself to a cup of “mmmmm, hot! Hot!” What the Boo calls my coffee because she knows she is not allowed to touch it or taste it. I do have a few parental limits.

Half decaf, half full brew. Lots of sugar, cream (or fake cream), soy milk, syrup, etc. And then I nurse that delicious concoction all day long. Sip by sip letting it bring an extra edge of alertness (or not falling asleep in the car at red lights) to my day.

But now it is getting summery. My craving is for smooth and cold. Specifically for a Caramel Frappucino from Starbucks with extra whip (and enough calories for the whole family). Mmmm, so cold and refreshing. Sweet and yet coffee-ish. All my favorite things in a drink. That would set me back $4.50. We didn’t put “Sugary indulgences” in the budget so I thought my craving would have to silently sulk all summer never finding fulfillment.

But….oh glorious but (and not that butt, come on. Focus.) I stumbled across Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Perfect Iced Coffee and it was like a match made in heaven. All my favorite things in a drink (except for Beardie’s chili and steak. Or chocolate chip cookies. No pasta either. Or fresh baked bread. Or juicy watermelon. Or ripe peaches…so missing quite a few of my favorite things come to think of it). But contains coffee, sugar, creamy substitute in a smooth, cold and refreshing cup of joe.

I tried it. I made it my own. I put it in a travel mug at the start of the day and nurse that sweet little drink all day. Sip by sip. Every morning when I head to work I DO NOT stop at the Starbucks on the corner or the next corner (I actually pass 3 of them on my 10 minute drive to work. Sad, yes?) I make my own….this week alone I think I have saved at least $18 by not buying coffee. Actually I wouldn’t have stopped anyways, so I saved myself 4 mornings of inner grumbling about really wanting an iced coffee. Priceless.

Here’s how we do it:

Did you know you can cold brew coffee? Instead of breaking out the coffee maker you just add cold water to your coffee grounds and let them steep for about 12 hours. It makes for a less acidic and bitter coffee experience. Seeing as I am not a fan of bitter I like this approach. Seeing as I am not a fan of working I like how easy this is.

My ratio is 7 generous tablespoons of coffee grounds (I do half decaf, half flavored coffee…I told you I don’t actually drink REAL coffee, I drink a coffee-like beverage) to 4 cups of cold water.

When I got married Beardie had a sweet French press that he used for tea and other refined drinks (not a coffee drinker AT all, once I made him taste my coffee because it was so good. I thought it would convince him coffee is delicious. I believe his reaction was “yuck, bleh”….oh well, more for me!)

I mix the water and coffee grounds in the French press but you really don’t need anything fancy just a large enough container to hold your coffee and a coffee filter to strain out the grounds. Doesn’t that coffee mix look like some type of toxic sludge?

The next morning I press the press and voila! coffee.

Fill your glass with a few ice cubes (that’s why you make your coffee so strong it dilutes when the ice melts) and a splash (or in my case a river) of cream/cream substitute. I absolutely love the International Delight: Caramel Macchiato creamer. I think it tastes just as good as Starbucks (don’t tell the Buckers I said that!)

You could stop here. And enjoy your crisp iced beverage but on my days off I like to take it a step further and throw it all in the blender for a more slushie like treat.

See? Yummy. And completely adaptable to whatever you like in your cup! Super quick too. The four cups of coffee lasts me 4 days, I strain the remainder of the coffee through our re-usable coffee filter and then store it in the fridge. Every morning I just mix it up in my travel mug and am good to go.

What would you throw in your iced beverage? You could totally make this with chai tea, green tea, hot chocolate…I just might try them all!

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I thought about it and here are my ideas on how to get a “new” maternity wardrobe without blowing your child’s education fund (you can do that later when you plan a trip to Hawaii because the crazy no-summer weather is making you….crazy).

BEG

Simple enough. Convince a good friend or sister that is roughly around your size to have a baby 9 months before you get pregnant and then beg to use her clothes. Especially if she has good taste in clothes. That’s how I dressed myself in college…a few good roomies with excellent clothes and a generous spirit. My little sis Andg and I have made this system work for us. I got pregnant with my Boo, 9 months later she was pregnant with her Buddy Bear, a year after that my second is on the way. We just pass our boxes of maternity clothes back and forth, adding a little as time goes by.

Also, I have some awesome friends who are either done with their child bearing ways or are on a break from child bearing that have offered me the use of their wardrobe. WIN! I love having good friends 🙂 Or you can mention on facebook that you need maternity clothes and do a sad smiley face 😦 maybe somebody will give you some.

BORROW

(This is totally not a maternity shirt but a cute loose flowing top that I absolutely love wearing when pregnant! And yes, I am making cupcakes. Baby likes to eat!)

From your old wardrobe. Remember that shirt you bought but never wore after a co-worker asked you how far along you were? Now is the time for that shirt to shine! And those comfy elastic waist skirts, best thing for summer. My favourite way to borrow more time out of my “pre-pregnancy” clothes is that fancy dancy why-didn’t-I-think of that Bella Band.

A stretchy bit of tube shaped fabric that you can wear over your regular pants so that you don’t have to do up the fly. I think that little number bought me 7 months of pregnancy use out of plain old clothes. Another bonus? You can wear your long t-shirts with the belly band underneath so you don’t get awkward stretch mark sightings. It also keeps that precious cargo from getting cold when your other clothes are wanting to ride up.

Yes, also borrow your husband’s clothes. Especially cozy sweaters and t-shirts. Just do it. I don’t think there is a pregnant woman alive who has never been caught in hubby’s shirt.

STEAL

But not from another preggers! There is something drastically wrong about the idea of one pregnant woman stealing clothes from another pregger. But get yourself a STEAL of a DEAL! *Ba dum ching!* Best way to do that? Let somebody else pre-wear your clothes for 9 months and then snap them up. The markdown on used maternity clothes is amazing. Especially considering the clothes are worn for maybe 18 months (usually less).

My fave way to find a sweet deal is websites like www.kijiji.ca

Some sweet lady out there has had a baby and bought herself some trendy clothes and now she doesn’t need them anymore. Oh wait! I can help you.

It’s not a fast process. You have to shop around and keep your eyes peeled for a couple months until *boom* you spot an ad and the clothes just speak to you in a pregnancy-induced hormonal way. You email her and ask what size she was pre-pregnancy and all of a sudden you have found a preggo-twin with similar taste and body shape.

You go to her house with a handful of cash, you bond over babies and bellies, coo at her little one and then low-ball her and haggle a good deal. Admit it. It has to be done!

Most kijiji clothes are pretty cheap already. Maybe $5-10 per piece. If somebody thinks their clothes are awesome they might try to scam you with $20+, just walk away. And check back in a week when they realize they can’t sell them for that. Lot deals will always give you more clothes for your moola but also run the risk of being shackled with an awkward pair of beige pleather maternity pants (seriously?)

For anywhere from $100 to $250 you can pick yourself up a whole new wardrobe that will keep you feeling cute and feminine for at least 7 out of 9 months!

That just might leave room for a few “luxury” items, favorites from a real store. But don’t buy those full price either! Always clearance. Always.

*Phew* instead of spending $1098, you spend $250.

Money saved: $848

That will go a long way towards Boo’s aspirations to be a princess.

How have you saved money on maternity clothes? Elfreda had a great idea to sew your own. I wish I could do that!

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Pregnancy completely changes how you dress. Before pregnancy you try to find clothes that are flattering. By flattering I mean ones that hide any extra bumps and bulges. Unless you didn’t have any extra bumps than pregnancy is going to be a little bit of a shock for you! Because believe me, the bump is coming! And will leave behind some bulges.

I love being pregnant! For me pregnancy has always been kind…after the first 12 weeks of feeling like I am going to *gag* at the sight of food, yet being absolutely famished all the time and feeling like I have an alien growing inside of me that is sucking out all of my energy and mental alertness. Must sleep 12 hours a day and still wake up exhausted and unable to complete a full sente…..mmm, I’m hungry, what shall I eat?

Yay pregnancy! It makes me feel all feminine and lovely. Until the end when I feel all hippo-ish and sumo wrestler. Just because I feel like a pregnant sumo wrestler doesn’t mean I want to look like one.

 Especially one wearing my husband’s hockey jersey and old sweatpants. Except for “date night” when we are watching movies at home and I’m balancing a bowl of popcorn on my “adorable bump”. Then sweatpants and husband’s shirt is a must.

But most of the time I want to look cute and pretty. With cap sleeves, empire waistlines and soft flowing fabrics that drape my curves accenting my very precious cargo and make you think “awww, she’s such a cute pregnant woman.”

And no Mumu’s! It’s just not my thing.

Oh and trendy would be nice too.

So how much do you think this wish list will cost me?

A whole new wardrobe for 9 months?

Well a quick peek at Thyme Maternity’s website and here are the essentials they recommend. http://www.thymematernity.com/en/expertchecklist.aspx

2 pairs of jeans ($69 each)

4 pairs of pants (2 dressy and 2 casual) ($59 each)

1 pair of leggings ($59)

3 sweaters ($49 each)

4 fashion tops ($55 each)

2 blouses ($42 each)

2 t-shirts ($24 each)

1 skirt ($49 each)

3 pj sets ($39 each)

Grand total: $1098 (*gawk* choke a little on water)

Are you looking at the dollar amounts by those clothes? I’m sweating a little bit thinking of spending that much money for 9 months worth of clothes! I don’t even spend that much on a year’s worth of clothes that I would hope to wear for a lot longer than that! No, you don’t want to know how long some of my “wardrobe basics” have been kicking around…just for a ballpark figure I’ve had some of them longer than I have known my husband 🙂

$1098 for clothes! After 9 months you will be sick of those 2 t-shirts. 22 pieces of clothes to wear for 270 days…and you paid an average of $49 per item.

I can’t do it. How will I explain to my unborn child why she or he has no RESP money for college? Will they understand when I say I wanted to look cute and feminine for the 9 months I was pregnant? Not like a pregnant, hippo, sumo-wrestler, hockey playing Homer.

It is doable. We just have to be sneaky and (dun dun dun duh!)

BEG, BORROW OR STEAL!

And because I am cruel I’ll make you wait until next week for Part 2. Maybe all weekend I will be furtively thinking of ideas for cheap maternity clothes because I don’t actually have a clue 😉 maybe.

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This is such an easy-peasy recipe I don’t know if I should be allowed to call it a recipe. But I love it and it brings joy and happiness to my Boo.

Popsicles are so delicious! Who doesn’t remember a warm, sunny day running around and playing until you are all hot and sweaty and then running inside and getting a freezing cold popsicle and savoring the coolness dripping down your hand. Popsicles are all about summer! I need to share that joy with my little Boo! If only there was a way to have “healthy” popsicles.

I tried to find the 100% pure fruit juice popsicles but honestly those are pretty pricey and then there is the whole “rule” about not drinking more than 1/2 cup of juice in a day. Oh the rules! Why are there always rules?

Ideally I would love for us to just eat the fruit itself. That is where we get all our yummy, nummy, vitamins, nutrients and fiber from. (Hmmm, fiber is our friend).

So Apple-sicles are born.

I bought this popsicle tray from the dollar store for….you guessed it a DOLLAR! And it works great, they are just the right size for a little hand and aren’t so big that she ends up with frostbite by the end.

The easiest thing to do is to just grab a jar of unsweetened applesauce, crack it open and fill each little cup with applesauce. Pop in the little tops and VOILA! Easy-peasy apple-sicles. All fruit, all healthy, still yummy.

Sometimes I mix it up by using the different flavored applesauces. All the unsweetened ones, poor little girl doesn’t know what sweetened fruit tastes like. The little cups of Mott’s applesauce fill4 little popsicles perfectly, so each popsicle is about 30 mL or 2 TB of fruit.

These little treats were a life-saver when we were cutting teeth. The later ones anyways, once she was already eating solids. An ice cold apple-sicle really cut the “owie” for a set of 3 back molars that came through in a week. I was more than happy to keep on feeding them to her!

But then I started thinking (it is dangerous I know!)…what other yummies could we make into popsicles?

Here’s a few I’ve been brave enough to try:

Berry sicles: Apple sauce pureed with a cup of our favorite berries.

Calcium sicles: A tricky one 🙂 because of the no-dairy we give the Boo a calcium supplement. Which is kind of gross. I found that if I mix it up with a strong flavor like blueberry and applesicle then freeze it is a popsicle she thinks it is amazing! If your life includes yogurt this would be delish with yogurt and pureed whatever fruit you like.

Orange cream-sicles: An orange, a banana, something creamy, pureed and frozen.

Pretty much the gist is….puree fruit and freeze it as popsicles!

If you wanted to get a little crazy…what about throwing in a handful of spinach into the berry-sicles (see no green, taste no green) or maybe a jar of baby food carrots in the orange sicle?

What would you try? And what have you tried? And what would you recommend to never try again???

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I hate spending money on things that you throw away. Especially things that you use to wipe your baby’s bum. It kind of feels like you are wiping your baby’s bum with money. And I would never do that. Do you know where that money has been? It is probably dirtier than my baby’s bum!

Math problem: If your baby is in diapers for 2 years (I wish!) and you change 6-8 (or more!) diapers a day and each of those diapers changes require at least 1 wipe (sometimes 2 or 3 depending on the explosion quality). And maybe you are a thrifty mommy and you can find a good deal but maybe I am a lazy mommy and just go with a quick run to Wal-Mart and buy whichever wipes are the cheapest on the shelf at the moment.

 And those wipes from Wal-Mart (Pampers Soft Care baby wipes pack of 720 for $16.63) cost me 0.023 cents per wipe. By the time my sweet little (not so sweet smelling at time) Boo is ready to head off to college or has mastered independent toileting, how much money have I used to wipe her bum?And go!

I don’t know the answer yet, I am still trying to figure out how to clear the screen on my calculator. And get the 0 to stop sticking. Calculators are not toys. They are serious tools of money saving opportunities. Do not use them to distract your juice wielding toddler.

Pencils down. Can you please come to the front of the class and show your work.

 

(*shudder* the sight of that calculator reminds me of the horror of high school math….NO! I can never go back to that torture!)

730 (365 x2) days of diaper changing x 6 diapers a day = 4380 diapers (don’t think about it, just forget this number. But remember it later when you try and recall what you did for the first 2 years of your child’s life. Hint: It starts with a grunt and ends with a smell you can’t ignore)

1 wipe per diaper (give and take, a few more for the biggies and maybe none for just the pees) 4380 x 0.023 cents = (DUN DUN DUH!) $100.74

Actually that is not that bad. 100 smackeroos, you can spend that on one pair of shoes, or on a fancy haircut. That would just be one real fine date night OUT including a sitter. A quarter of my monthly grocery budget. My gas bill for the month. Or provide tools such as shovels, rakes and wheelbarrows for one village to grow food (https://donate.mcc.org/project/chad-growing-new-crops)

Never mind. Every little bit counts. There are much better uses for $100 than wiping my baby’s bum.

But I still got to wipe that cute little toosh. It’s a bad situation if I don’t.

If you are already using cloth diapers it is as simple as ummmmm simple as PB & J. But even simpler because PB & J requires at least 5 steps and bread and a trip to the grocery store and a knife or a clean finger.

Homemade wipes in 5 steps.

  1. Get a big pile of reusable wipes/cloths/old diaper inserts. I like the little newborn insert that came with our Bum Genius diapers. Too small to do any use for the big pees that happen now but just the right size (and nice and soft, absorbent microfiber material) for a thorough bum wiping. Best part. I already paid for them when we got our diapers so because this is their second re-incarnation they are free!
  2. Fill a squeeze bottle with water. Any sort of bottle will work. Empty shampoo bottle, dish soap bottle, water bottle. Anything with a flip top and is squeezable. In our neck of the woods the hospital sends all new mommies home with a “peri-bottle” meant for cleansing another bottom if you know what I mean. It looks like this. And is the perfect size and squeezie-ness for my little Boo’s bottom.
  3.   Squeeze some water (warm if you are feeling generous, room temperature if you have the bottle filled and sitting on your change table all day like we do. Same temperature as baby wipes! No baby wipe warmers at our joint.) onto your wipe/cloth/insert and wipe away. Repeat as necessary. If you have a particularly “fun” bum to wipe, you can drizzle a little baby soap on your wipe and then follow with a clean wet one.
  4. Toss the wipe in with your cloth diapers. Or save a stash and toss all the wipes in the wash separately.
  5. Think of some creative way to use that $100 you saved.

I love simple. I love not spending money.

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Yesterday, Mr. Man and I went shopping at Ikea (I love Ikea, so cheap! Mr. Man hates, hates Ikea “I could build better” “Why are we wasting time here” “We always buy crap we don’t need” “grumble, grumble”) and as a little treat for surviving an Ikea shopping trip with me I suggested we could get a Blizzard from DQ after. Mr. Man wasn’t too eager about this idea until I said a few magic words…

“ We wouldn’t have to pay for it…”

 

 

WHAT?!?

 

Free ice cream?

 

For serious?

 

Yes, for serious. And not just free ice-cream. Free lots of stuff!

 

Because I have a scheme and a plan.

 

A completely legal scheme-plan that is so easy too!

 

You see, I have lots of opinions. Good  opinions, bad opinions, sometimes even unwanted opinions. But now my opinions are getting me free stuff. And you too if you want! All it takes is a couple minutes every now and again to share your opinion with some marketing people who are very willing to pay you for your thoughts. Because you are my friends, I want to show you.

Every day, or whenever I get the urge to tell someone what I think (some days this is 3 or 4 times a day!) I log into one of these 3 sites and see if any one wants to know what I think.

 

 

Whenever I complete a survey, I get ‘points’ which I can redeem for whatever prize I want, which usually are gift cards or cash cards. Otherwise known as free money.

Which is where that ‘free Blizzard’ comes into play. After filling out a couple of surveys at i-say/Ipsos I got a $10 American Express card to use, wherever and whenever I want. Maybe for you that means a yummy snack, or a pair of earrings. Or maybe you’re responsible and you put it towards your grocery bill.

I am not responsible. So I got ice cream.

But that’s not the only place that pays me good money. Redflagdeals.com pays you $5 USD to signup, and then after that you can get paid real money via PayPal. Unfortunately you need to have a minimum of $25 in survey revenue before you get paid. So this isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme in any way, shape or form.

Do you do a lot (or even a little) bit of online shopping? Then Swagbucks is a great place for gift cards at tons of places. I always redeem for amazon.ca gift cards, because I live in Canada and 90% of the places offered on Swagbucks are American stores. 😦 If you sign up with Swagbucks you can get points quicker through a few other venues as well, and the site is pretty clear about how to do that. I’ve gotten $10 worth of Amazon gift cards and I’m about one survey short of another $5.

Altogether, I’ve gotten about $25 worth of gift cards/money for putz-ing around on the internet.

Now, as a nursing mother of a little boy who thinks he needs to eat at least every 2 hours, if not more, nursing is prime time for me to fill out a survey or two.

 

What schemes and plans do you have for getting some extra free in your life?

 

*Disclaimer: We’re not being compensated in any way by the sites mentioned, except for doing surveys like everyone else. All opinions and thoughts expressed are exclusively ours.*

*Ice cream photo copyright belongs to Swamibu *

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