4 super simple tips to prevent diaper rash

This post is sponsored by Andy Pandy. As always all opinions are my own.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to deal with an unfortunate case of diaper rash?

Awful stuff right? If your kiddo is anything like my Margs, diaper rashes just seem to pop up out of nowhere and they cause a ton of discomfort and fussiness. In the early weeks and months when she was just a wee infant we struggled with redness and chaffing and other uncomfortable diaper rash related issues. We were totally new to the whole parenting thing and despite thinking we were on top of her diaper changes we somehow were clearly missing the boat because no matter how well we cleaned her, how much diaper cream we applied and which diaper brand we used baby girl seemed to be constantly dealing with irritation on some level. And, as most of you know – a baby with an irritated tush is a fussy unhappy baby!

When she was about 3 weeks old my 92 year old great aunt came to visit who gave us a ton of useful and effective information about treating but more importantly preventing diaper rash altogether. She sat there and told Mer and I that the best way to keep a babies bottom rash and irritation free was to use a simple approach. Boy was she right. We started to follow her really simple principles and not only did we manage to treat Margsy’s diaper irritation but we’ve been able to prevent it ever since.

Her tips have been invaluable to us and so I wanted to share them with you today!

4 Tips to prevent diaper rash

Change baby often The number one reason babies get diaper rash is because their sensitive bottoms are exposed to urine and feces for prolonged periods of time. Now that Margs is older we basically need to change her after every pee or poop because she’s older, bigger and produces larger quantities of urine and feces. When they are smaller this isn’t usually the case. In the very early days she could have technically worn the same diaper for 3-4 hours before fully saturating it because she was producing such small amounts of urine. The problem with this is that however absorbent a diaper is – she’d still be sitting in her own urine despite the diaper not being saturated know what I mean? So, changing baby frequently prevents their super delicate skin from being exposed to urine and fecal matter which are incredibly irritating to their skin.

Use soap/water for clean up At the peak of our struggles with diaper rash we were purchasing expensive baby wipes that we assumed were the absolute best option for cleaning baby during a diaper change. Those wipes contained creams, fragrances and chemicals that only further irritated her already sensitive and diaper rashed skin. We switched to making our own solution of diluted all natural baby soap and water to spray on and wipe off with super soft baby wash clothes. It was effective at cleaning and sanitizing the area without adding any harmful chemicals, lotion and unnecessary fragrances. Once we’d cleaned her up we’d always make it a point to dry her very well with a soft dry washcloth. Removing all moisture before putting on a new diaper is vital because it prevents bacteria from growing and affecting the skin.

Use diaper creams sparingly Would you believe me if I told you we rarely use diaper cream? Well it’s the truth. Once we started changing baby more often and cleaning her with a delicate soap and water solution the need for diaper cream in this house reduced significantly. I know there are parents out there that apply it after every diaper change but we opted to keep the area as dry as possible without applying any extra creams to Margsy’s sensitive skin. That’s not to say that we never  use it. Recently, while on a long road trip Margsy fell asleep in her car seat and we didn’t have the heart to wake her for a much needed diaper change which resulted in a pretty icky irritation and chaffing that we treated with the above suggestions in addition to this homemade diaper cream made with only 3 ingredients – Zinc Oxide, Coconut Oil and Beeswax. It makes me feel better knowing that I’m only applying creams to her skin when absolutely necessary and this home made cream is extremely effective if you’re dealing with a nasty diaper rash that gentle cleaning and frequent changes doesn’t help clear up.

Buy breathable good quality and eco-friendly diapers if possible. We’re a disposable diaper family and have experimented with various brands and our main requirements are comfort, environmental impact, absorbancy and leak protection. As our baby girl grew into an active toddler our disposable diaper needs have changed because kiddos at this age produce more urine and need more absorbancy protection. The more breathable the diaper the less likely you are to encounter diaper rash so when Andy Pandy reached out to collaborate with me to promote their awesome Andy Pandy Bamboo Diapers I was super excited to share their unique eco-friendly and super breathable nappies with you fine folks!

Pamper your kiddos bottoms with Andy Pandy

Andy Pandy Eco Friendly Disposable Nappies are seriously the most amazing diaper I’ve seen on the market so far. Not only are they 100% eco-friendly and biodegradable but they are naturally hypoallergenic and antibacterial which makes them the absolute best choice for babies with sensitive skin. They are made from biodegradable bamboo which is not only super soft but very absorbent AND they are moisture wicking to keep babies sensitive areas as dry as possible.  Each diaper has a totally natural aloe liner that nourishes baby’s skin without exposing your kiddos to harsh chemicals AND a wetness indicator. The diapers are also Chlorine, alcohol, preservative, Phthalates, Latex, PVC, TBH and Antioxidant free! They are truly a steal at $0.40 per unit considering they are of supreme quality and environmentally friendly!

Andy Pandy has generously offered a 25% coupon code for TTBH readers to buy these diapers via amazon where they are already 58% off their regular price! How awesome is that? Head on over to purchase yourself a pack today and use TINYBLUE to score an additional 25% off. This right here is a potential frugal diaper stockpile extravaganza folks!

To take advantage of this seriously awesome deal head over to Andy Pandy via amazon  or Amazon UK and use the coupon code TINYBLUE at check out! This deal is open to folks living in Canada or the UK!

What are your go-to tips to prevent and treat diaper rash?


the hidden consequences of frugal parenting

One Sunday morning during Margsy’s  weekly swimming lesson a fellow swim mom (is that even a thing?) stopped to tell me how cute she thought my daughters bathing suit was and to find out where I bought it because she’d like to purchase a similar one for her kiddo. Now, I’m pretty open about my frugal lifestyle choices and will gladly tell you that x, y or z is used with great pride but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel judgement from time to time.  You see the judgement I often face is not necessarily about our choice to live this way but more about the perception or maybe assumption that by living frugally we’re somehow parenting our kiddo incorrectly or depriving her in some way.

I was met with a little- okay a lot – of judgement that day and to be frank, it sucked.

It didn’t suck because I was being judged for buying, using and frolicking in used garb.

It didn’t suck because my lifestyle choices were scrutinized.

It didn’t even suck because we were assumed to be cheap, poor, underprivileged and somehow unable to provide for our little.

It sucked because my parenting choices were judged and it was assumed that I didn’t want what was best for my child.

The Hidden Consequences of Frugal Parenting - Frugal Living | Frugal Parenting | Frugalism | Parenting | Motherhood | Parenting Anxiety | Lifestyle Choices | Toddlers | Personal Finance |

See, once I informed fellow swim mom about Margsy’s used bathing suit I was met with questions and comments about our lifestyle and how I cope with not giving her the best of the best. There were sympathetic references to understanding “our situation” and hoping our “situation” would improve so that moving forward we’d be able to buy into mainstream consumerism.

Holy assumption that buying new is the only way to provide a kiddo with the best right? I find it so so interesting that giving a child “the best” has come to be intertwined with a families ability to provide materialistic and consumerist goods. Anyone else?

But, what if I want to buy used? What if I consciously opt to buy things that other people’s filthy (sarcasm clearly) kids have worn? What if, *gasp* I technically have the means to buy her everything new but simply prefer not to? Does that somehow make me a bad parent?

What if my ultimate goal as a parent is to raise a kid who could care less about materialism?

What does a frugal momma do when she’s left pondering complex frugal questions? Well, she turns to google and finds awesome conversations like this one over at Mr Money Moustache. I’d be totally lying to you if I told you that Mer and I had it all figured out with regards to how we plan to manage our frugality and minimalistic tendencies as this kiddo ages. At this point in her life, Margsy has no flipping clue that her shoes, Tonka truck, play house or blackboard were pre-played with or worn by other littles. She’s just so thrilled to have stuff to throw and lick (they legit lick and try to eat everything) and has zero awareness of this narrative that “new” is best that consumerism has done such a great job at brainwashing our society to believe.

In a perfect fabulously frugal world my kid would grow up to love personal finance the same way her father and I do. She’d scoff at buying new and prefer to bank that money to invest or use for something more meaningful moving forward. Ideally, and this is a stretch, my kiddo would plan ahead and retire at let’s say 35. One can dream right?

In all seriousness though, frugal parenting in this world can be kinda scary folks. It’s scary because living a lifestyle that is even remotely outside our mainstream culture’s definition of “normal” can be met with raised eyebrows, harsh criticism and inevitable judgement.

So, I’m about to get pretty vulnerable right now. Read on if you want to find out some of my very real fears about raising Margsy in our frugal family.

My fears and anxieties about frugal parenting

Margsy will resent us. Imagine for just one second that you were forced to wear used clothes and play with used toys as a child only to find out that your parents very well could have afforded to buy you all that stuff new? Would you in someway resent them? Technically, we can afford to buy our little pretty much anything she needs new. We just choose not to. We barter, dumpster dive and hit up local second-hand shops to basically satisfy all of her needs. The money we save on satisfying her needs is actually accruing in a bank account so she can pursue education without having to in-debt herself when she’s older. One of our major life goals was to make sure that this kiddo would have her entire education paid for and in a few more years we’ll have been able to check that goal off our list. But, will providing her with an education fund negate the fact that she never got “new” stuff? Will this kid turn around at 7 and tell us that we sucked as parents because we never gave her cool new stuff? It might sound ridiculous but this in fact is something I think about often. Can forcing frugality on kiddos somehow lead to parental resentment and feelings of deprivation in young children?

Margsy will get bullied. Kids can be cruel. I know it’s a statement that is thrown around a lot but as a former teacher I saw with my very own eyes how cruel kiddos can be to each other and more importantly how damaging it can be to self-esteem, agency and self-efficacy. I often worry that when the time comes Margsy’s peer group will meet her with harsh judgement. Sure, she could potentially keep it to herself. Although, until she is old enough to truly understand the whole concept of new vs. used she likely will have no idea but what happens when she does understand? Will she feel ashamed by lifestyle choices that were forced on her by her parents?

Margsy will overcompensate and plunge herself into a lifelong consumerist bender. Mer thinks I’m overthinking this one and creating an irrational fear that our daughter will be so potentially damaged by our lifestyle choices that she’ll run off, credit cards in hand and buy out a local T.J Maxx or Target. You see, what if she wakes up at say 18 and reflects on her childhood and says these crazy parents of mine made me wear used stuff, play with used toys and now I’m choosing to buy all. the. things for myself? A stretch perhaps but I often wonder if frugal parenting over the long-term has the potential to mold young children into young adults who crave the newness that consumerism encourages?

How we plan to manage and cope with these frugal fears

We don’t have a plan. Not a solid one anyway. You can’t plan anything for your kiddos. Trust me. Instead, you can lead by example, instill values and encourage kids to explore and perhaps challenge ideas that society has prescribed as “normal”. We’re hoping that our kiddo will grow up to quite literally not give a crap about consumerism. Ideally, she’ll be comfortable enough in her own skin to disassociate her own self-worth from what she owns. We hope and cross our fingers that by leading by example we’re instilling good money habits and consequently an awareness or at least an acknowledgement that consumerism in many ways is a social construct.

How will we do it? Well, we plan to keep on keeping on and lead 100% by example. Children learn by examples set by their parents. Hopefully, Margsy will see and appreciate that we’ve created a safe, happy and stimulating home without spending a fortune, attempting to keep up with the Joneses and give into consumerism more, more, more philosophy. Hopefully, she’ll see and appreciate that we’ve never deprived her of anything she’s ever truly needed while also saving for life goals that are important to us as a family. Hopefully, she’ll see and appreciate that happiness does exist beyond what you own and what you can buy.

The Hidden Consequences of Frugal Parenting - Frugal Living | Frugal Parenting | Frugalism | Parenting | Motherhood | Parenting Anxiety | Lifestyle Choices | Toddlers | Personal Finance |

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Why buying used isn’t gross

Raise your hand if you’re a little put off by buying, wearing or touching used stuff?

I double pinky swear that I wont judge you for having the ewww factor about used stuff! My goal here isn’t to chastise you for your opinions! If you’re raising your hand way up high I can assure you that you are not alone. Often times, when I tell people that we buy virtually 100% of our stuff used I’m faced with some of the most interesting responses. There are those who question us – I’ve gotten asked more than once if we’ve ever “caught something from buying used”. In other situations I’ve been met with really strong and sometimes harsh opinions about how buying used is gross and that I’m actually neglecting my kiddos needs by doing it.

Buying used gets such a bad rap doesn’t it folks?

There seems to be this assumption that buying used is gross and today I’m hoping to show you that buying used is not only a great way to save you a ton of cash but also a good and responsible choice for the environment because it keeps stuff out of our landfills.

Our frugal family really doesn’t attach a value to things. After hard work and the conscious decision to really separate ourselves from consumerist chaos we’ve gotten to a point where stuff is just stuff and doesn’t shape our views of ourselves, our social standing or our place in our community. A long long time ago the story was a very different one and by living a frugal lifestyle out of necessity we developed a new appreciation or lack thereof for the stuff that surrounded us and really detached ourselves from the want cycle that is so common in consumerist culture. But, we do need stuff – tons of stuff even so when it does come time to spend our money on things we always turn to buying used first.

So, before we get into the whole buying used is gross thing, tell me, when’s the last time you went on vacation? What resort did you stay at? Are you a cruise type of person or more of an all-inclusive type? How were the accommodations? Was the food good? Did you send your kiddo to the on site daycare? I promise there’s a reason that I’m asking you these questions – so, keep a mental inventory of your answers okay?

I’m sure most of you have stayed in a hotel, eaten at a restaurant, sent your kid to daycare and driven in a cab before right? If you’ve done all these things then you’ve absolutely touched, used and been in contact with used stuff! Gross right? Or, is it? When you’re staying at a hotel you are sleeping on a used mattress and used bed linens that we hope have been sanitized correctly. When you’re eating out you are eating off of used plates with used cutlery while sitting in a used chair. And, *shutter* when you send your kids to school or daycare your kiddo is playing with toys and reading books that have been touched by dozens or even hundreds of tiny germy hands.

See where I’m going with this?

The Stigma of Used Stuff

The thing is, there’s a pretty big stigma attached to used stuff- that ewww factor is very much real and in many cases it causes people to fear used goods and completely overlook it as on option when it’s time to fulfill consumerist needs and wants. The ewww factor leads people to believe that used goods are somehow disgusting, dirty, germ-infested and useless items or objects that belong in a landfill instead of in your home or mine.

The used stuff stigma often manifests itself in two very real and overlapping ways folks.

First, there’s the personal fear of buying used because of the perceived threat of being socially inferior or judged in some way. When we first started off on this journey I was absolutely one of those people and was humiliated that I was shopping in a second-hand shop. Left with no choice but live frugally to crush our credit card debt I stuck it out and eventually as I started to appreciate frugal living more and more I became so comfortable with buying used that I’d tell anyone and everyone about my great finds and how much money it saved me compared to making the same purchase on the “new” market. Having said that, the social stigma creates fear – because *gasp* what if someone finds out you’re buying used? What if you’re labeled as one of those people who uses used stuff? Well, here’s a secret – it’s your business and nobody else’s. You don’t have to tell anyone where your awesome shirt, shoes, handbag or belt came from.

Second, there’s this pervasive need to keep up the Joneses right? The neighbor wears designer clothes, has a fancy new car and has expensive home furnishings. The whole notion to buy more, more, more in an effort to keep up with this narrative of what is acceptable has really driven people away from appreciating the used market. What if I told you that buying used can give you access to designer clothes (if that’s your thing), fancy cars (if that’s your priority) or expensive home furnishings (if that’s what you value)? Sadly, many people feel this need to buy new to keep up with what society has created as an acceptable way to acquire goods. Society has trained us that to have “made it” in our world you have to buy new and that buying used somehow makes you inferior, underprivileged and a lesser member of your community.

Cost Analysis & Little Frugal Math

I’m a numbers geek and I’m often calculating exactly how much I saved when I find a used treasure. Some times our used finds are absolutely free because we barter or dumpster dive (which is the best case scenario because free is free right?) but when we do score a used deal I always hit up the internet to calculate exactly how much we saved.

Let’s do a little frugal math, shall we? I hope to show you that the savings when buying used are astronomical.

Here’s a current photo of my back balcony. We’ve created a play area for Margsy because this kiddo loves being outside but sometimes it’s difficult to let her roam the backyard when there’s important adulting things going on. By creating this play space for her we know that not only will she be within view but she’ll also be safe and occupied.

When Mer and I decided we wanted to invest in some outdoor activity toys we both agreed that we’d hit up the used market. Kids toys are so incredibly expensive and when you’re buying any type of toy you’re always taking a risk that your kiddo wont really like it. We got really lucky with this haul because she absolutely loves each of these toys and plays with them on the regular.

Now, let’s calculate what this would have cost me new versus what I spent.

* Source: I sourced the prices on the various toys from both amazon.ca and toysrus.ca. I used the lowest price found between the two vendors.

So there we have it. Had I purchased each of these items brand new from Amazon, Toys R Us or any similar vendor in my area I would have been facing a 681.79$ expense plus applicable taxes. In our province we have a 15% tax rate that by my calculations would elevate the price to a whopping 784.06$. But, by employing some frugality to our purchasing plan we were able to score all those super cool toys for a total of 48.00$ Yup, you read that right 48$! In total we saved 736.06$ by buying used. Holy, you know what right?

How I clean my new used stuff

Generally speaking most used stuff is in pretty great condition. Thrift and second hand shops are pretty picky about what they put on their racks and the worst of the worst usually never makes it out into the store front. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve bought clothes or shoes for us with the tags still on. Think about it for a second, how many times have you donated brand new stuff to a local organization that resells it because it didn’t fit, went out of style or wasn’t useful for you anymore? Yup, I’m the lady who will likely buy that stuff.

With that in mind, we always employ rigorous cleaning methods to make sure that every item we buy is clean and ready for us to use. It’s no different than buying clothes at your local TJ Max or Target. There’s a good chance someone or several people tried it on before you so washing it before wearing is always a good idea right?

When it comes to clothing items, linens or any other cloth type product we always give the items a good soak in a hot water and vinegar bath. We have a handy basin sink installed in our garage and I just put all our goodies in there and disinfect them with vinegar. From there, I add them to our regular laundry that we do roughly twice a week. Once it’s clean and smelling fresh you’d never know that it was bought used in the first place.

For large plastic kiddo toys we haul out our pressure washer which we got from a barter trade a couple years back. First, we rub on a baking soda vinegar paste and scrub off any dirty spots. Once we’ve removed any stains or built on dirt we give it a good rinse and follow up with a soap bath made with equal parts laundry detergent and vinegar. More often than not the toys come out squeaky clean and as good as new!

For dishware and other glass or breakables I usually just give them a good soak in equal parts dish soap and liquid bleach. After a 30 minute soak I rinse them off and pop them into the dishwasher on a clean and sanitize cycle. They always come out looking as good as new.

A couple of things I’ll never buy used

Buying used is such an awesome way to get what you need for literally a tiny fraction of the cost. We’ve taken advantage of used opportunities and bought clothes, shoes, linens, dishware, furniture, baby clothes, toys, garden equipment, pool gear, baby gear, camping gear, winter wear, small appliances to name just a few. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of things but you get the idea that we’re pretty open to buying most things used. But, there are things that we wont buy used because quite honestly it’s not safe. Here is a list of things that you need to be cautious about and a couple of reasons why.

Mattresses/Couches/Upholstered furniture. Unless you know exactly where it’s coming from and that it’s coming from a pest free environment approach with caution. We used to live in an area that was heavily affected by bed bugs and as a result we never bought these items used. If you know where it’s coming from and you are 100% sure that bringing the item into your home wont cause you issues then absolutely go for it.

Crib & Carseats. The thing with these items is that it’s okay to buy them second hand assuming you are 100% sure of the items provenance. With cribs, it’s always wise to check out the model number for any recent recalls (think safety issues, led paint etc). If you know the people it’s coming from and the crib checks out with a little research then it’s absolutely okay to purchase. But, when you’re looking at buying from someone you don’t know and you’re unsure of the age and/or model number then I’d be cautious because cribs can pose serious risks to a baby. The same goes for car seats. I would never ever ever jeopardize my kiddos safety and as a result I would never buy a used car seat unless I knew for absolute sure that the seat had no recalls and is 100% accident free. Safety above all folks.

The rest. Always use common sense. If an item looks truly gross – it probably is. The thing with used stuff is that you can absolutely be picky. If you pass on an item today I’ll bet you any amount of money that you’ll come across something similar soon. Just because you’re opting to buy used doesn’t mean you’re prevented from being a discriminant shopper. If an item doesn’t seem satisfactory to you then simply don’t buy it regardless of its low price. Even when you’re buying used you can opt to buy for quality and durability.

How I approach used shopping

Shopping used is truly no different then buying new. Actually I’ll propose that buying used is actually more fun because you can score some pretty awesome deals and save a ton of money in the process. Who doesn’t like to save a little cash right?

Like I mentioned above, buying used doesn’t trump quality in any way. You can totally buy quality clothing, accessories, furnishings, electronics and everyday essentials on the used market. I approach used shopping like a challenge. I want to ensure that my money is purchasing an item that is in great used condition, shows as little wear as possible and will be durable for years to come. Just because I’m buying used doesn’t mean that I’ll accept lesser quality or condition – I want to use my money wisely so I’m picky and selective about what items I bring home with me. It’s okay to pass on an item no matter how great it might appear if it doesn’t meet my expectations.

Beyond this, I always set a budget about how much I’m comfortable spending. If you remember up above where I told you folks about building a play area for my little one I went into the project with a budget. I knew that I wanted to get as many toys as possible for at most 50$. We planned accordingly and headed out bright and early on a garage sale weekend knowing that we only had 50$ to spend. I also knew that I absolutely wanted a table of some kind, a ride on, a plastic house and a net. We drove around and managed to pick up each of our items by being steadfast about our price. When buying that house I was asked for 50$. I told the guy straight that I had to take it apart to get it home and that it needed a good wash so I was only prepared to spend 20$. He agreed and we took it apart and hauled it home.

A couple of buying used suggestions: go into any shopping situation with a budget and a list of exactly what you want. Negotiate whenever you can and be upfront about your best offer. Be prepared to walk away if you can’t respect your budget or if it’s not exactly what you need. Buying used can also be a trap in that the low cost can convince us to buy buy buy because we’re getting such a great deal. Always shop wisely even if you’re not spending a ton of money.

What buying used is not

  • Buying used is not a reflection of your worth as a person, member of society or social standing. Wearing used clothes and eating off used dishes with pre-loved utensils in no way minimizes your worth as a person. You my friend are not a reflection of your stuff.
  • Buying used does not mean you are poor, underprivileged and/or miserly. Instead, its a reflection of the frugal priorities you’ve set yourself.
  • Buying used is not only for the extremely cheap. Instead, it’s a conscious and well thought out decision for the well being of both your wallet and the environment.
  • Buying used isn’t gross, dirty or disgusting – it’s a sustainable way to get what you need at a fraction of the cost!

Managing the social stigma

Before I wrap up this super long post ( I apologize for that by the way – once I get going I just can’t seem to stop!) I want to address managing the social stigma that comes from buying used. I got into it up at the top of this post but if you’re just skimming I’ll give you a quick recap. Essentially, society has taught us that it’s gross to buy used by manipulating our belief system. They’ve enveloped used goods with an ewww factor that prevents many people from taking advantage of buying on the used market. We’ve been taught that buying used is gross and disgusting and so we’re feeding into consumertist chaos by overpaying and overbuying on the new market. When we walk into a room we don’t generally thumb off the places we bought each piece of our outfit. When we have a dinner party we don’t start the meal by listing off where our dishes, cutlery or tablecloth were bought. Buying used is a personal decision. If you’re into it great – if you want to try it but fear being judged just remember that it’s absolutely your business and nobody elses. Buy used and keep it your little secret if need be!

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Where do you stand? Are you disgusted by the ewww factor?


Frugal Fridays: dishwashers, dumpster diving & greens

Morning folks and happy Friday Saturday! This post was supposed to go live yesterday morning but Margsy was sick overnight Thursday and we spent the morning snuggling and watching movies. Baby girl got her 18-month vaccines on Thursday afternoon and around 3am Friday morning she spiked a pretty high fever. We dozed off and on but she clearly wasn’t feeling her greatest so I put down the phone and shut down the laptop to give her as much TLC as possible. Here’s hoping that we’ve passed the worst of the side effects!

We’re expecting a ton of rain this weekend which is extra disappointing since Mer is home and can’t enjoy the same gorgeous weather we’ve had having all week. Margsy and I have spent our days lounging outside, playing and getting ourselves wet with our own DIY sprinkler and dips in the pool. Her confidence in the water is really shining through and she gets in that pool like it’s nobodies business. Cold water really doesn’t scare this little girl off. We don’t have a pool heater and on the hottest days we might get up to around 80!

DIY saves you heaps of money

We’ve had to fall back on our frugal tendencies this week when it comes to DIY repairs. We try not to call in service people when things break down and attempt to fix things ourselves if we can. About two weeks ago our dishwasher stopped draining itself properly. After watching a couple of YouTube videos about cleaning the dishwasher I gave it a baking soda and vinegar wash hoping that it would solve the problem. No such luck. Mer then took to YouTube and started to do some research about potential problems that could be causing our issue. He pulled everything out and analyzed and analyzed and compared and compared until he figured it out.

Looks like our drain was clogged which is 100% my fault. I’m terrible at rinsing off dishes which likely led to a buildup of food in the drain. He cleaned it all out, took off a clip that protects the exit hose and before I knew it the dishwasher was back to perfect working order.

Being frugal often means exploring and getting creative when it comes to solving household problems. We could have called in a dishwasher service company but wanted to give it a good go ourselves before resorting to that. We easily saved ourselves a couple of hundred dollars by investing a little time and patience to get the job done ourselves. Mer has also fixed our washing machine, dryer and wall mounted A/C unit in the past! YouTube is an amazing DIY resource when it comes to these types of things. Having said that, if the issue is beyond the scope of our abilities we’ll absolutely call someone in. Why? It can become even more expensive to fix a problem if you damage it further yourself.

Someone else’s trash is your treasure

On one of our morning walks Margsy and I looped the upper limit of our neighborhood. It happened to be trash day and there was a woman throwing out a bunch of very cool toddler toys. We got to talking and I asked her if she would mind if I took them for Margsy to play with. They were clearly in need of a good cleaning but in otherwise great condition. After speaking with her she explained she was thrashing them because her kiddo had outgrown them and she lacked the space to store them. This is a perfect example of why I’ll never buy Margsy any toys that are brand new. At some point we’ll be itching to unload them the same way this family was.

She said “sure” and I loaded up my stroller basket and headed home with the agreement that I’d come back later to pick up the rest. Once all the toys had arrived at our place I got going on disinfecting them. My go-to cleaning solution is a good wash with diluted bleach followed by a vinegar and baking soda rinse to remove stains and built on dirt. After rinsing really really well these toys were as good as new.

Often times, people throw out perfectly good stuff because it’s just the easiest way to get rid of things quickly. The lovely lady who provided us with these new treasures told me straight that she tried to unload them on friends and family but ultimately the easiest way to get them out of the house was to trash them. Well, her trash became my treasure. My kiddo had a blast pushing her cabbage patch doll around in that tiny stroller.

When it comes to curb side treasures though you need to approach with caution. When it comes to dolls, stuffed toys or any other type of toy that can carry bed bugs you need to watch out. Bed Bugs are a huge huge problem in this neck of the woods and as a result we’re extra careful and pass on stuff that could be a breeding ground for them.

Speaking of curb side treasures we’ve managed to pick up planter vases, a lawn chair, gardening equipment and even a plant recently! You simply never know what you’re going to find!

How our garden grows

Here’s our garden last month! A photo snapped after we had first planted our veggies.

Here she is this morning! Everything is growing in beautifully and we’ve already started to enjoy some fresh garden salads. I know I’ve said it before but I will say it again – growing your own vegge in the summer is such a great way to save money on groceries. During the summer months the only produce we buy are fruits and we otherwise sustain ourselves on what we harvest from our patch!

Our beans have finally started to sprout and I’m beyond excited to seem them thriving. We plant both green and broad beans and they are just so incredibly delicious. I love freezing huge batches to stockpile for the winter. Looking forward to sharing some how to posts about how we prepare our veggies for the winter months!

With that, I’m off. I hear a tiny toddler calling for me! So, it’s time to start out our day! Have a wonderful weekend folks!

P.S check back Monday when I announce the winner of the BBQ Scraper Giveaway! Good luck to everyone who entered!


What I’m loving lately
This post may contain affiliate links. Thank you for supporting TTBH.

Morning friends!

How’s your week been so far? It’s been hot, hot, hot in these parts and we’ve been taking full advantage of the glorious weather by enjoying long walks, dips in the pool and running through sprinklers. My kiddo tolerates the cold water far better than I do that’s for sure! She loves it though, so I’ve been putting on my bathing suit and playing water games with her non-stop! She’s exhausted and content by the end of the day so it’s totally worth it!

Also, thank you so so much for all your thoughtful responses on yesterday’s post about finding a daycare for Margsy. I really enjoyed reading each one and will get to responding to each of you throughout the day. We’ve got another daycare interview on Friday and we’re hopeful that it’ll fit the requirements we are looking for! Fingers crossed.

But, for today I wanted to share a couple of things I’m absolutely loving right now!

Playtex Baby Sipsters Spill Proof Sip Cup

After Margsy’s pedi appointment on Monday I decided that it was time to really focus on introducing a sippy cup for good. Margsy was still drinking water from a bottle which I know isn’t ideal at 18 months. I’d tried a bunch of different varieties of cups over the last few months but it seemed that every single one either leaked, tasted and smelled horribly of plastic or was awkwardly shaped for her little hands.

On a random drug store run for diapers this week I had a look at the selection of sippy cups. Guys, is it possible? There are seriously about 40 different varieties to choose from! Once I’d narrowed down which ones I hadn’t tried I decided to go with Playtex Sipsters. I bought one cup and decided to give it a go before investing in more. Well, she loves it and most importantly it does not leak all over the floor, couch or toddler. Anyone elses kid super obsessed with seeing what comes out of a bottle or sippy cup by flipping it upside down and shaking?

DIY Sprinkler for toddlers (& adults 😉 )

Although we’re super fortunate to have a pool which I love getting in there with Margsy isn’t always easy. Since starting her swimming lessons Margsy has become a little resistant to using a float. She’s now used to being held in the pool and as a result wont float around like she did last summer. So, on some days when I feel like she needs more activity I put out the sprinkler and let her run and get wet! She loves it. Mer and I did some research and we’ve built a DIY Sprinkler for baby girl. They are relatively easy to make and super cost effective!

We made a variation of this! Check out this site for a bunch of frugal DIY sprinkler ideas for kids! But, be warned all the neighborhood kids are going to want to play with your super cool sprinkler set up. True story – I’ve had no less than 6 kids in my yard playing with something similar all week.

Coschedule Headline Analyzer

Coshchedule’s Headline Analyzer is amazing. I use it to analyze my blog post titles to hopefully help me rank better with search engines. It’s easy peasy too! You simply put in your chosen title and have the analyzer do its thing. It’ll return a result for you and you’ll see how effective it would be to potential readers! I try to create headlines that rank at least 70. I’ve been playing around with it for quite some time and love that you can see the history of the headline as you make modifications to the key words. Such a useful and awesome tool! Do check it out if you get a chance! Once you’ve signed up, the headline analyzer is totally free to use!

Ombrelle Kids Sunscreen

We take sun protection very very seriously in this house. I know I mentioned it somewhere but at the age of 33 when I was pregnant with Margs I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma on my face. I had surgery to remove the affected skin and have since become obsessed with skin care both for myself and my little one. Sunscreens are tricky though! I have oily sensitive skin and break out into rashes and blotchy spots easily. I’ve tried many different types of sunscreen and have actually settled on using Ombrelle for both myself and Margsy. It applies easily, offers great protection and doesn’t irritate our skin. I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

Lentil Watermelon Salad

I think this photo speaks for itself right? I made this as an experiment a couple of weeks back because we had a ton of watermelon to use up. It sounds like a strange combination of flavors but it works and it’s absolutely delicious! This is absolutely going to be made over and over throughout the summer. Love how fresh it tastes and how easy it is to put together!

What are you loving lately?

P.S there’s still time to enter the BBQ Scraper giveaway offered by Mollen Living!


Lifestyle Changes: Making the decision to send our toddler to daycare

When I was pregnant with Margsy I abruptly stopped working. I had no choice really because I knew that the moment I hit 12 weeks I’d get my cerclage and then be put on long-term home bed rest. This was the plan. We knew about it and I had zero reservations about it. When she was born Mer and I discussed how we wanted to manage her childcare. We both felt comfortable with me staying at home full-time because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her and childcare can get extremely expensive.

In some respects I think we naively assumed that raising a kid was easier than it’s turned out to be. I’m not saying it’s unbearably hard but as Margsy ages we’re realizing that our current lifestyle (single child, one and done family) isn’t necessarily ideal when it comes to her social development and general socialization.

Margsy is a very fearful child. She does not do well when faced with new people and has shown very little interest in playing with other children. That’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy other children’s company but she’s far more inclined to play beside them than with them.

Way back in January we decided to sign her up for swimming lessons. It was really a win win, win situation for us because it would give her far more physical activity during the winter months (baby girl was off the charts weight wise until recently), hopefully expose her to other children to socialize and teach her how to swim which is such an incredibly important skill. Although she loves her lessons and it has helped train her to be more comfortable in water and helped get her to a more normal weight it really hasn’t provided any opportunities for socialization which we thought it would.

Mer and I had a really long discussion about Margsy’s social development last month. We both agreed that it might be time to find some sort of organized activity to help her develop autonomy, learn boundaries and hopefully interact with other children about her age. We searched and searched but apart from some sporadic playgroups that usually involve infants there really isn’t much available to a family with an 18-month toddler.

Enter the conversation about daycare.

At first, we were both very much resistant to the idea. Had you asked me my thoughts on sending her to daycare a year ago I would have told you it was absolutely out of the question. That’s not to say that I think daycare itself is a bad idea but I did believe that as her mom I could provide her with everything she needed socially, emotionally and physically. Sure, I’m able to provide her with a stable, safe and nurturing home but when it comes to stimulation, play and socialization I’m really falling short.

So, Mer and I have been interviewing daycare’s much to the displeasure of both sets of grandparents. We were both raised in a community that never outsourced their childcare beyond the walls of the home of a family member. So, when we informed them that Margsy would be enrolled in a daycare as soon as possible we were met with apprehension, anger and even harsh judgement. In this moment we realized that despite our fears and those of our family we need to put Margsy first and this is something she needs right now.

The reality is an 18 month of kiddo needs to play with other kids. They need to learn how to socialize with other children and find their own way and personality by exploring, playing and socializing in ways that I simply can’t provide for her.

All this to say, we’re currently in the process of interviewing various family daycare’s hoping to find one that is a perfect fit. So far, we’ve interviewed two and one appeared absolutely perfect but ultimately did not have a space for our kiddo.

In terms of our daycare want list we are pretty specific with regards to what we are looking for:

  1. A small family daycare with no more than 5-6 children so that Margs can still get the attention she requires and not be overwhelmed with the drastic change to her lifestyle
  2. A daycare that is willing to work with us to integrate her slowly into a daycare setting. Ideally we’d like to start with 2 hours per day and work our way up to 5 hours days, 4 days a week.
  3. With regards to facilities we’d like there to be a large fenced and secured backyard with ample space for baby girl to run around (She’s a climber and will try to climb a fence if you’re not watching)
  4. A large indoor play area that encourages creative projects (painting, drawing, building) in addition to creative play
  5. A daycare that is willing to work with us with regards to her current sleep issues. Margsy was not sleep trained and therefore requires a ton of assistance to fall asleep. Generally she needs to be rocked to sleep and feel you close by.

The first daycare we met with was an absolute bust. The woman although knowledgeable about child care and friendly appeared to offer “babysitting” instead of daycare services. What I mean by this is she approached each day with no expectations or plan and basically allowed the children to dictate what they wanted to do. Although she would likely have been extremely nurturing and sympathetic to our issues (sleep namely) I suspect that her home daycare environment would have simply recreated the situation we are dealing with at home.

The second daycare was perfect. The woman we met with had 5 children in her group varying in ages from 12 months to 4 years. The entire day was scheduled and planned and the children are exposed to creative play, dramatic play and artistic play which is exactly what we wanted. She was also extremely open to a step up plan to integrate Margsy and was willing to help start the sleep training process. Unfortunately our interview was scheduled after she had technically filled the last spot. We went regardless because we were hopeful that the spot would somehow open itself up again. She called today to confirm that the spot was in fact taken but did provide a few numbers of other local in house daycares that we are hopeful will fit the bill.

So there’s that. This is what’s going on in TTBH right now. We’re actively searching for a daycare and given our current situation I’m not necessarily in a rush to place her immediately. Since I’m home with her anyway we’re going to continue looking until we find one that is just the right fit.

What are your experiences with daycare? How did you select one for your kiddo? Any tips?



Grilling & Chilling: Our favorite frugal summer BBQ meals + a BBQ scraper giveaway
This post is sponsored by BBQ Scraper. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting TTBH.

Morning friends! How was your weekend? We were at a beautiful wedding on Saturday and rather than recovering from our super late night (think 3am) we were up and busy at 8am Sunday morning. After swimming lessons, a trip to the grocery store and a meeting with a potential daycare for Margsy we headed back to the house to get going on preparing some delicious food for our out guests who arrived at around place right around lunch time for a BBQ. I’m exhausted today but it was oh so worth it! Also, stay tuned for an awesome giveaway in honor of both Father’s Day and the beginning of the grilling season at the bottom of this post!

Grilling and chilling is probably our favorite summer activity. Seriously, nothing beats hanging round the fire pit, sipping cold drinks and grilling up a delicious meal with friends and family. When we lived in the apartment this sort of thing was pretty much impossible. Our place was small, we didn’t have a backyard and cramming a bunch of people onto our back balcony really wasn’t ideal. So, when we were buying our first home our priority was having an awesome backyard space that was inviting and would work well for big cookouts and BBQs.

Well, we got just that and we pretty much entertain every other weekend or so throughout the summer. As a frugal family that means that we’re spending a bit more money on grocery which if you’ve been reading for a little while you’ll know that we’re perfectly okay with because spending quality time with friends and family is important to us. Frugal living isn’t about deprivation folks (have a read of this post if you want even more clarification). I know I sound like  a broken record but frugal living gets a bad wrap when it comes to things like this and I’m all about demystifying those fallacies. Basically, if we feel that what we’re spending money on is important to us then we are perfectly okay with it! So, we entertain a ton because we love catching up with friends and family and spending quality time with them!

When it comes to preparing menus for our cookouts we absolutely apply frugal principles (If you’re interested in how we approach grocery shopping have a read of this post) We’ll never deprive our loved ones but we still try to be as conscious and frugal as possible when it comes to shopping for meals. So, today I want to share a few of our favorite BBQ meals that can feed a bunch of people delicious food on a pretty decent budget! They are all super easy to put together too which is a huge bonus!


Marinated Chicken: We like to keep things super simple in these parts. Our go to marinade is actually no-name  Italian salad dressing. We marinate our chicken for approximately 24 hours in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator and then grill it up on our BBQ. The awesome thing about preparing chicken this way is that you can marinate any type of chicken: chicken legs, breast, thigh and even wings work really really well. The chicken is always incredibly moist and flavorful.

Grilled potato and red onion salad: After scrubbing potatoes clean I chop them into cubes. I then add some raw red onion and toss everything in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Once they’re well coated I transfer the potato and onions to a tin foil envelop and pop them on the grill for approximately 20 minutes. When the potatoes are fork tender I remove them from the foil, allow them to cool off and season with some fresh parsley, balsamic vinegar and garlic.

Grilled veggies: Veggies are so versatile and cook up beautifully on the BBQ. When planning a cookout we usually buy whatever veggies we can find on sale: bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, snap peas, green beans etc. Once they’re washed I toss everything into a bowl and season with a little olive oil. I wrap them in tin foil and pop them on the BBQ. Once they’re cooked and cooled off I season with some greek yogurt, garlic and olive oil – salt and pepper to taste of course. Delicious, cost effective and incredibly healthy.

Grilled fruit salad with Mint: We love grilling up fruits like strawberries, watermelon and pineapple. Making fruit kabobs is an incredibly easy twist to make fruit even more delicious. After I’ve cut the fruit into bite sized pieces I toss them in a little vanilla extract and fresh mint. To prepare I just layer strawberries, melon and pineapple and pop on the grill for a few minutes allowing the fruit to develop char marks and just warm slightly through.

BBQ Scraper giveaway

When Mollen Living the awesome people behind BBQ Scraper reached out to me and offered to host this giveaway to one lucky TTBH reader in honor of Father’s Day and the start of grilling season I jumped on the opportunity because not only is their product eco-friendly but it makes cleaning your BBQ safe and easy .BBQ Scraper is 100% natural, as no chemicals or preservatives are used in the process allowing for a completely natural product!

The BBQ Scraper is awesome because it customizes itself to your grill pattern because of its soft wood which makes cleaning your grill a breeze. Once you use it on a hot grill a few times the wood takes on the shape of your grill and does an incredible job cleaning off all that messy gunk. After many many reports of BBQ brushes with bristles being unsafe Mer and I had actually abandoned our own BBQ brush in lieu of using crumpled up tin foil a few years back. In recent years, we were balling up a piece of tin foil and using long BBQ tongues to help guide the foil over the heated grills which although does the job semi-well, often results in singed arm hairs and skin burns. We tried the BBQ Scraper for the first time this weekend when prepping our grill for our friends and family BBQ and we’re hooked! The edge of BBQ Scraper is angled in such a way that grooves start to form into the scraper from it’s first use, quickly customizing to the user’s BBQ. The more it is used the deeper the grooves form until it perfectly surrounds the grilling surface and is able to perfectly clean the grill surface.

To enter the giveaway

It’s easy peasy.

  • Simply answer the question below to be entered to win a BBQ Scraper of your very own!
  • For extra entries tweet, pin and/or share this post on facebook and then post separate comments with the url to each of your shares in the comments below! Each share is an extra entry!
Like this post? Pin it to Pinterest!


Contest closes on Friday June 16th at 11:59 P.M. Winner will have a BBQ scraper shipped to them directly from Mollen Living! Open to U.S & Canada! Good luck!

What are your favorite BBQ recipe?