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Tips For Living Simply

beauty, GEAR By January 27, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 1 Comment

I don’t like new year’s resolutions because they usually amount to more pressure and disappointment. I try to look at life as progress – are every few years getting better than the last? Are we happy? Over the past two months I’ve been focusing on living simply, eliminating stress and organizing life. Along with drinking lemon water, buying a juicer, there are 10 things the family has undertaken to ensure we are living simply with as little stress as possible.

Mabels Scan and Store Labels

1. Unsubscribe from as many email lists as possible. Keep the ones that you covet, but recognize that your time – even that 5 second glance to your phone when it dings – is worth gold.

2. Do a closet overhaul. (It doesn’t have to be a What Not to Wear episode where you feel guilty and depressed.) Put anything that doesn’t quite fit in a suitcase labelled with the size and date. We love Mabel’s Labels new Scan and Store barcode labels with an app so you know what’s in the box and where you put it! Check for stained items, holes, pills and shoes beyond repair. Invest in new, thin felt hangers (Homesense is a great place for these) and take metal hangers back to the drycleaner.

Statement Necklace Organization3. Place all of your jewelry on the bed. Separate any broken pieces that need repair, and start a collection of unwanted or broken costume pieces for a little girl in your life. When I was a little girl, a friend’s grandmother did this for me and I was thrilled by my treasures. Polish the silver and clean gold, pearls and gems with a soft cloth. I hung chunky necklaces on scarf hangars and places bangles in shoeboxes.

4. Pull out your makeup and toss anything that is too old. Wash brushes with Dawn and water and dry flat on a cloth. 97.9 % of us, according to a 2003 study on the use of cosmetics, are guilty of  using make-up after the expiration date, with mascara being the most frequently mentioned product. Products with a higher water content have a shorter lifespan after opening due to the ability for bacteria and microbes to breed in moisture. Curious about expiration dates? Here’s a cheat sheet:

Cover Girl and Olay Makeup

Expiration Dates for Makeup:

Mascara (regular or waterproof), liquid, pencil or gel eyeliners: 4 to 6 months
Cream, Liquid or Stick Foundations or Concealers: 6 months to 1 year
Powder-based products (including mineral makeup): 2-3 years
Lipsticks, Lip Gloss, & Lip Pencils: 2-3 years

Skincare:

Cleansers: 1 year
Toners: 6 months to 1 year
BHA or AHA Exfoliants: 1 year
Facial or Body Moisturizers and Serums: 6 months to 1 year
Lip Balms: 1 year

Foreign Currency Travel Packs5. Eliminate undue travel stress. Note passport expiry dates in your calendar and apply for a Nexus/Global Entry pass to skip long airport security lines. Keep travel chargers and ziplocks sorted with different currencies from past trips in your go-to suitcase, and have a few key seasonal clothing items at the ready in case you take a trip to a different climate. Check balances on hotel points cards and ensure you are using them to your advantage.

6. Be ready for sick days. Check first aid kits for expiration dates on medicines. Have homemade chicken soup in the freezer. We use the homemade chicken stock recipe from Kitchen Stewardship, which provides incredible healing benefits, including boosting the immune system, aiding digestion, increasing efficiency of protein use and providing easily digestible minerals, including calcium. You also get none of the ‘fake’ foods and preservatives when you make it yourself. Get rid of the dust. Give your kids an extendible Swiffer duster once a week and give them a quarter if they can cover it with dust from the tops of frames and chandeliers.

Closet Overhaul7.  Grab all of your gift cards and see if some can be amalgamated. If you have a stack of cards you will never use, use Cardswap.ca to exchange them for cards you will use.

8. Are your computer and mobile phone systems working well? I hadn’t backed up files, and my phone and computer contacts were duplicated or not being saved properly. Not being able to find a number for a mom during a playdate or losing precious photos to power surges can be devastating or just stressful. Calling Geek Squad or heading to the nearest Apple or Microsoft store could sort out all of your tech woes. Oh, and write your printer toner numbers in your wallet along with your license plate number. (Or am I the only one who always forgets these?) You can also photograph it all, along with membership cards and parking passes and store the photos in a special account in the cloud.

9. Evaluate the entertainment options. Our family is a bit over the top. We have a huge cable package, a Netflix subscription, Next Issue, and regularly make purchases on iTunes and Google Play. I sat down with the family and we discussed our needs. There isn’t enough time in the week to watch, play and read everything. We decided what is most important (English football and Netflix) and eliminated a few unnecessary distractions from there. It can be worth a call to your providers to check the options. Amazon Prime can cut down on entertainment costs. For film buffs in the US, Fandango is your best friend.

Personal Bags10. Do you and your kids do a weekly activity? We were always searching for shin guards, cleats and ski helmets, so we now have a system. Monogrammed bags for each activity (ours are from Land’s End) are packed and in the mudroom. We take them to the activity and then right to the laundry room afterwards. When the clothes are clean and dry they go right back into the bag and to their permanent home. Ditto for library book bags.

We’d love to hear your tips and tricks for living simply! Write them below and we will choose our favourite at random for a special gift card!

10 Ways to Simplify Life

Disclosure: This article is not sponsored. UrbanMommies does receive samples to test from time to time, and some Proctor and Gamble and Mabel’s Labels items are shown here, however all creative and selections are my own.

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Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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15 Back to School Essentials

books, GEAR, style, tech, toys By August 6, 2013 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Back to School EssentialsI’m one of those parents that can’t stand the end of summer.  The thought of school lunches and early wake-ups makes me want to cry.  Even the notion of some alone time while the kids are in school doesn’t make me want to celebrate.  But back to school shopping?  Now you’re talking.  I love the new beginnings – a change to streamline routines and try to finally nail the healthy littler-less lunch.  We can always dream.  Here are our 15 back to school essentials for this year.

PlanetBox1.  Reminiscent of old-school TV dinner trays or modern Bento boxes, the PlanetBox ensures food doesn’t get all mixed up and helps you include healthier options for the pickiest eater.  The magnets add a personal flair.  Also available at Pottery Barn Kids with personalized carry bags.

mabels labels2.  Microwave, dishwasher safe and waterproof.  Music to a parents’ ears!  Not having to raid the lost and found box at school every week?  Even better.  I just ordered Mabels Labels‘ Ultimate Back to School Pack. The kids got to choose their own personal designs and even prompted them to clean out their closet.

Sigg Hello Kitty3.  Sanrio.  It’s all about Sanrio.  I just got 2 new Sigg Hello Kitty water bottles.  Always BPA-free, these designs also allow you to write a note to your kids in the thought bubble.  My preference is to have the kids write a note to me, as I won’t give these bottles up.  Sorry, boys.

Jill Amery

Jill Amery is a mom of 2 small boys and the Publisher of UrbanMommies, a stylish digital lifestyle magazine filled with fitness, style, health, recipes and savvy mom advice to help you through pregnancy, birth, and raising your kids.

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