Highs & Lows – Week of February 20th

feb20

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission (~4%) if you make a purchase using the links to any of the products mentioned below.


Morning!

I can’t believe it’s time for another installment of Friday Highs and Lows. If you want to read the previous weeks you can go here and here.

Highs

Building up my consignment store cash flow! With the weather warming up I realized that it was time to top up our consignment cash flow so I could start working on creating a spring and summer wardrobe for Margs. So, I spent a few days sorting through Margs’ winter clothes and toys and ended up dropping off a bunch of things that will help cover the cost of buying her enough outfits to last us through the summer. In this haul, I brought over her Infant Car Seat (Graco Click Connect 35 if you’re curious), a V-Tech Sit to Stand Walker, a fisher price ride on toy, and 2 boxes of clothing she’s outgrown.

We found a new groomer for our pup. Our dog is the anxious type and we’ve been struggling to find a groomer that would be patient with her. After trying a few different ones we finally found a lovely lady who grooms pups from her home. Puppy had an amazing experience and didn’t want to come home! Here she is with her new “summer” haircut!

puppy.jpg

Absolutely gorgeous weather! It’s been sunny and well above freezing all week and it’s unbelievable how a little sunshine can improve my mood and energy levels. Margs and I have been taking advantage and getting out for walks. The sun is setting later (around 5 pm) which makes the days longer and so much more cheerful. Spring is on the horizon and I couldn’t be happier! Sunday is supposed to climb up to 14 degrees!

sky2

Lows

Margs ate laundry soap at the end of last week. My mum was here visiting and we got caught up in a conversation and the next thing we knew Margs had powdered laundry soap all over her hands, face and inside her mouth. I washed her mouth out and promptly gave her a bottle of milk. I then spent the next 45 minutes trying to get through to Poison Control and then a local emergency health line in our area. Both agreed that an ER visit wasn’t necessary and that it was unlikely she ingested enough to cause issue. I was told to watch her for any unusual symptoms but that she should be just fine. Thankfully, Margs experienced no side effects. We’re now in the process of child proofing this place – she’s so mobile and fast that we’re not taking any chances.

Basement reno costs are getting a little higher than we anticipated. I haven’t discussed much about what’s going on within this TTBH have I? When we bought this home, we knew we were going to transform the basement into a small 1 bedroom apartment for my mum. Her lease is up at the end of April and she’ll be moving in with us. Work on the basement has been slow because we have an arrangement with a contractor where we are saving on labor costs (FYI we bartered a hot tub for the labor costs of finishing our basement. Said tub came with the house and we did not want to keep it). But, because of this the process has been long and drawn out. We’re nearing the end which is wonderful but I was calculating the costs of materials and my heart sank a little. We’re about 3000$ over budget but considering we aren’t paying anything for the labor I suppose it’s still an awesome deal.

We’ve reverted to co-sleeping. I hate hate hate that we’re back here. We had made so much progress with Margs and then one night she just would not have it and exhaustion on our part took over and we put her right back into our bed. Since then, she’s refused to sleep anywhere but our bed. We’re going to keep trying but this week she’s slept in our bed more often than not. This kid seems to have some sort of sensor – the moment you try to put her down in her cot she freaks out.

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of February 20th?

Save

Save

Advertisements

Blog monetization series: finding sponsored post opportunities

sponsored-posts

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase/subscribe using the links to any of the products/services mentioned below.


Clearly, this is a hot topic. After opening up about taking the plunge and monetizing my blog I got quite a few emails asking me how I was going about it. I’m really not an expert – but I’m more than willing to share what I’ve learned so far. There’s a ton involved in monetizing your web space so I’ve decided to start a little series that will discuss the different options available to you and to give you updates on what I’m doing as I go.

Blog sponsorship

First, let’s talk about blog sponsorship opportunities. Blog sponsorship can take on different forms. You can be asked to review a product you receive for free without any compensation above and beyond the free product, you can get paid to review a free product, you can get paid to promote products on twitter and/or instagram, you can get offered a giveaway in exchange for a review. The options are really endless and they really are dependent on the company you are working with and what opportunities they have available to you.

Opportunities seem to be based on a number of factors. First, every website listed below will want a link to your blog and social media accounts. Opportunities are offered when influencers (that’s you) can drive traffic so naturally, they want to see what your reach and engagement are. (they do this via google analytics). Secondly, each sponsorship company will ask you to tag your blog or social media accounts – making matching you with a relevant opportunity easier. They essentially want to know what your niche is so they can match you with relevant options – it wouldn’t make sense to match a beauty blogger with a tax software right?

pink

Sponsored post companies for bloggers

Please note that some of these companies have minimum stats that they require before you can get accepted. As far as I know, the exact numbers (unique page views and monthly page views) vary from one company to the next. So, please do not get discouraged if your blog gets rejected from some of these. I’ve faced 4 rejections and gotten accepted to about 5 different sponsorship sites. For the time being, as I get my feet wet I’m sticking to 5. We’ll see how that goes and I’ll reevaluate at another time.

My experience so far

So far, I’ve gotten 5 opportunities. Of the 5, I’ve declined 2 because they are simply not a good fit for my blog. One of the opportunities was really exciting but ultimately the day after I accepted the offer I had it pulled because I’m Canadian. The remaining 2 opportunities are both really interesting and a good fit for This Tiny Blue House. Stay tuned for a cool giveaway and a review of a product that is very relevant to my life right now.

Next up, affiliate linking and a couple of how to’s a few pros have shared with me!

Are you a member of any of the above companies? If so, what are your experiences so far? If not, are you interested in joining?

Save

Save

Save

Save

Dealing with digital photo clutter by emailing my kiddo daily

emaildaily

At one point I had over 3000 images of Margs on my iPhone.  I had no idea how many I’d accumulated until one day I was faced with a storage problem that wouldn’t allow me to snap any new photos.

You see, weeks after Margs was born I realized I had hardly any photos of her with me. There were a ton of pictures of Mer and Margs but only a handful of pictures of me with my little girl. (Sadly, I don’t think I have any photos with her from when she was actually born) What ensued was a hormone raged argument meltdown initiated by me accusing Mer of not wanting to digitally document my relationship with Margs. Although I admit this was completely blown out of proportion (I blame the post partum hormones and the start of my post partum depression) the reality was that Mer just didn’t think to take photos of our growing little girl. Once I calmed down, I explained to Mer that it was extremely important to me that Margs grow up with photos of us with her at every stage of her life. Since then, my dear husband snaps photos on the regular and now, we’re faced with thousands of photos creating a sea of digital clutter that can get very overwhelming.

Mer and I have decided that once a year we’d look through the photos we’ve taken and go print the images at our local photo print shop (this will actually be part of her yearly birthday presents). Digital photos are awesome but I cannot tell you how disappointing it is to try and find photos from a certain event, holiday or get together only to find out that they’ve been deleted or lost somewhere within the folders of the computer. So, when it came to dealing with the zillions of photos we take of her we had to come up with a system because we did not want to lose any along the way. Printing them helps reduce  the volume but because we opt to print the “best” photos there are often a bunch of really awesome ones that don’t make the cut and I cannot bring myself to trash them.

Instead of deleting them we’ve decided to email them to Margs.

ducks

One of my recent emails contained an image of Margs with a fleet of rubber ducks explaining how the only way to get her to sit in the bath long enough to get bathed is to throw in 2 dozen rubber duckies.

Yup, my 14 month old has her own gmail address and she gets emails from me, her father and her bubbie on the regular.

I try to email her daily. Sometimes the emails are short, other times long. Most days, they include the photos I’ve snapped of her with a summary of what we’ve done that day and a description of any relevant news stories that I think are important (history buff in me) with a brief explanation of why I’ve included them for her.

We don’t open or read her email (other than to check that the emails were making their way through in the beginning). Our goal is to continue emailing her regularly to accumulate her digital story so that she can read and appreciate them at her own speed when she’s older.

Although I think technology can be extremely scary when it comes to children. I do think if used carefully it can be a wonderful resource. In our case, we’re using it to create a time stamped life story for our little girl that she can read when she’s old enough.

We haven’t decided when we’ll give her the password. 16, 18? We’ll see how it goes. (Hopefully gmail will still be around by then) But for now, we’re having an absolute blast sending her little notes and watching her inbox grow.

How do you deal with photo clutter in your house?

Save

Highs & Lows – Week of February 13

highslows

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission (~4%) if you make a purchase using the links to any of the products mentioned below.


The week just flew by. It seems that as soon as Monday rolls around life is on fast forward as we cruise through the week to Friday right? We’re pretty much on a fixed schedule around these parts when it comes to day to day life which although kinda boring helps keep me stay organized and top of Margs’ needs and all the household stuff that needs doing. Mer has been up earlier than usual these days (thank you winter snowpocalyse) to head to work and is usually arriving very late into the evening thanks to traffic and snow mayhem so I’ve been sorta parenting solo all week.

On that note, I found it really helpful to talk about my highs & lows last week so I decided that I’d make this a recurring series on This Tiny Blue House. I really enjoyed sharing both my ups and downs with you fine folks but more importantly I loved reading yours.

So here we go – installment two!

Highs

[1] Valentine’s day was literally amazing. I woke up at 7am to find baby missing from her cot. I stomped down the stairs (my hips and feet are still messed up from bed rest) to find Mer and Margs sleeping on the couch. I promptly woke him up and told him he was going to be late for work (Mer is a sleepy sleepy guy – not a morning person at all) when he kindly informed me that he took the day off to be home with me and baby for the fine consumer holiday we call Valentine’s day.  So, not only did I get to sleep in but I got to take a nap late afternoon and lounge around with my 2 favorite people. It’s all about simple pleasures folks!

[2] Sleep training is working (most nights) and by consequence my sleep habits are improving too! Margs  usually only wakes up one time per night (a bottle of water and a back rub usually helps her fall back asleep promptly) but spends the entire night in her cot. This is such a game changer for us. Not only do we get to sleep in the same bed again but we’re both getting far better sleep. We’re just crossing our fingers that she doesn’t revert back to wanting to co-sleep.

[3] Mer surprised me with a Valentine’s day gift this year. At first I sorta looked at him strangely when he appeared with this red bag with hearts shmeared all over it. When I opened it I found this Weekly Planner and the coolest oversized mug. So, although we never buy gifts he decided to break the rules and buy me an agenda so I could have a place to keep track of all my blog post ideas (I suppose he was fed up of finding scraps of paper everywhere). The mug is precious and he bought it to replace my giant mug that we had to retire recently after our cat nose bumped it right off the counter.

agenda

* I love love love this Weekly Planner. First, it’s huge which means there is tons of space to brainstorm, doodle and jot down ideas. Second, it’s super cheap as far as planners go – Mer told me that he had looked at a few at Walmart and Staples and that they were all in the price range of 20-30$. At roughly 8$ this is totally worth the money especially if you combine it with another item or two to score free shipping.

Lows

[1] Snow. Folks, it has snowed so so much over the last week. On Monday we got 30 cm of snow – the wet heavy kind that makes shoveling really hard. Then, on Wednesday we got another 20 or so centimeters making the grand total somewhere in the ballpark of 50 cm. It’s enough now, my body seriously cannot handle shoveling any more snow. We’re also stuck putting it on our property because this suburb doesn’t pick up snow – there’s honestly no room left on our front lawn. If you come driving down our street you cannot even see our front door – that’s how much snow has accumulated. We’re starting to get a little nervous about the spring thaw – flooding is a huge concern for us right now because this much snow is going to create a ton of water.

pexels-photo-58098

[2] Locking myself out of my fucking house, not one but TWICE this week. So this house has a fancy key pad on the front door which means that I don’t have to worry about forgetting my keys (one of my recurring bad habits). Well, wouldn’t you know that the key pad refuses to work in -10 degree weather or colder. The first time we thought it was the batteries so we swapped them out – then it happened again. Needless to say I’m going to make it a point to bring my keys with me from now on. Thankfully, Mer was on his way home both times so Margs and I weren’t stuck outside in the cold for too too long.

[3] Dirty laundry. We’ve been dealing with blow outs pretty much all week. The extra bottle of water at night time means that Margs’ diapers are extra wet in the morning. I’ve been washing sheets, blankets and her cot mattress protector basically every single day this week. I’ll take it though – if it means she’ll sleep through the night in her cot and not in our bed, I’ll just deal. Eventually we’re hoping she wont need the extra bottle which will reduce her output at night time. There’s no way I’m waking my baby to change her in the middle of the night and risking having to put her back to sleep.

What are your highs and lows for this fine week of February 13th?

Save

Save

Save

Save

A few of our favorite frugal, family friendly recipes

pexels-photo-119637

Say that 5 times, fast! ha!

Eating good quality, tasty, healthyish and budget friendly food is such an important part of our lifestyle here at This Tiny Blue House. Mer has a big appetite – he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy while although I enjoy my meat and potatoes I tend to prefer more savory combinations of protein and vegetables. Our meal plans are often a mix of both and after some trial and error we’ve settled on a few recipes that satisfy both our palettes and make repeat appearances week after week.

I don’t create recipes – I modify them. So, I take absolutely zero credit for the base recipes I’m providing below. What I am offering is a few frugal hacks to reduce the cost of each dish without sacrificing the quality and taste.

I generally prepare and cook all these dishes on Sundays. I then store them in our fridge and pop them into the oven to reheat as we need them throughout the week. I cannot tell you how much easier this makes life – not only is dinner prepared but there is virtually no clean up.

Mediterranean Chicken from The Clever Carrot

IMG_88641.jpg

[Source: 1]

First, we omit the bocconcini altogether. I’m not a fan of melted bocconcini and quite honestly this dish is incredibly tasty and satisfying without it. We then substitute 1 can of artichokes for a can of marinated artichokes (price difference is roughly 2$), using our own oil and spices to marinate the chicken. Chicken thighs are weirdly more expensive than chicken breast in this area so to save a couple of bucks we use breast. Finally, we use frozen herbs from our summer garden instead of fresh.

It produces approx 6 servings so plenty for dinner and leftovers for lunches. It’s Margs approved too. Frugal math tells me that it comes our to roughly 3$ per serving.

Cottage Pie from BBC Good Food

recipe-image-legacy-id--1074465_10.jpg

[Source 2]

This is probably our current favorite since it’s so savory and has such great depth of flavor. I actually found this recipe by accident, decided to give it a try and have continued to make it ever since. To save a a couple of bucks I buy the economy size container of ground beef so I can make two pies at the same time. I also use frozen mixed veggies instead of fresh and sometimes omit the cheese in the potato mash altogether. Frugal math tells me this runs about 2.20$ per serving.

Unstuffed Cabbage Role Casserole from Give Recipe

c51df1ff43bd7e374603296d448669bc

[Source: 3]

This is a great recipe that can be eaten as a side dish with a meat protein or by itself. I usually make this once a week and we use it many different ways during the week. It’s great for a quick lunch or to go along side roast chicken for dinner. To frugalize the recipe we often omit the beef altogether and add frozen white beans from our garden instead. Frugal math tells me this runs around 1.00 per serving. Also, we omit the mint because we just don’t do mint in this house.

Pasta e fagioli con Proscuito– due amiche in cucina

pasta-e-fagioli-con-prosciutto-di-parma-e-croste-di-parmigiano-reggiano-1

[Source:4]

I actually grew up eating this at least once per week and until very recently I hated it. With the cold weather and lack of time to prepare more complex meals during the week Mer and I have really started to appreciate a hearty bowl of pasta and bean soup. To save some cash we use bacon instead of prosciutto – honestly, prosciutto just tastes funky when cooked so we prefer the bacon. We use frozen garden beans and our own homemade tomato sauce. This recipe essentially costs us a half bag of pasta and a few strips of bacon. Frugal math tells me this sets us back roughly 0.60 cents per serving.

What are some of your go to favorite meals? I love trying new recipes so I would greatly appreciate any that you have to share!


Giving credit where credit is due
[1] http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/05/dinner-tonight-mediterranean-baked-chicken/
[2] http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/775643/cottage-pie
[3] http://www.giverecipe.com/unstuffed-cabbage-casserole
[4] http://www.dueamicheincucina.ifood.it/2015/04/pasta-e-fagioli-con-prosciutto-di-parma-e-croste-di-parmigiano-reggiano.html

Save

Save

Save