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Frugal Pregnancy Fashion – A Stylish Bump on a Budget

I always thought by my third kid I’d have this pregnancy thing down. I’d already have all the clothing, my body would know what it was doing, and I would be used to the sickness/exhaustion/hormones too. But that so isn’t the case! I don’t know if I’ve been hit with the “wild card” third pregnancy that so many women talk about, or I have just forgotten what it’s like since there are 3 years between this pregnancy and my daughter. Either way, to say that this pregnancy has kicked my butt would be an understatement. It also hasn’t been that frugal…

The morning sickness was much worse, and lasted longer than previous pregnancies. We saved money on food since I wasn’t eating much, but had the extra cost of ginger pills to ease the nausea.

My iron has been super low, which I never dealt with before, so I’ve been even more tired. Plus this lowers my immune system, so when I haven’t been throwing up, I am trying to clear my sinuses. We have now spent a small fortune on different types of iron supplements, but that’s an extra cost we are willing to take. And along with the bulk packs of tissues, being tired and sick has led to more convenient/prepared meals and takeout, which gets expensive.

Life is busier with two other kids too, and I’m finding it hard to keep up! Thank goodness for our giant calendar on the fridge, and understanding friends and family when I completely forget about something. But this also means that sometimes I am picking up a gift, or planning a special meal at the last-minute, and not always getting the best deals on the required items.

Now that I am 6.5 months along, things are settling down with the morning sickness, finally, and my energy is starting to come back thanks to a new liquid iron supplement. The sunshine and warmer weather are helping too, with just generally feeling better and being happier. But feeling better also means I’m eating more, lots more, so our grocery bill is higher than normal, but that’s to be expected when pregnant. Thankfully the warmer weather means we are able to walk to school more, saving a bit of money on gas for the van, since during the winter we drove nearly every day.

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Another change is how I have been dressing. I didn’t buy many maternity clothes the first time around; I worked in an office so my mom made me a few skirts, and empire waist tops were trendy so I kept wearing them; I only ever bought 2 or 3 actual maternity tops. With #2, I was a stay at home mom who didn’t go out much, so I lived in yoga pants and leggings. I picked up a few new tops, and one actual pair of maternity pants, and stuck to skirts and dresses once I was nearing the end and it was summer time. This time around, I have already acquired 3 new pairs of maternity pants (all bought on sale at great prices), and a couple tops too. I feel like I care about how I look now more than ever before, and I love putting cute outfits together even if it’s just to drop my son at school and run errands. Of course there are days when it’s nothing more than yoga pants and a tee, but most days I make an effort, and I love getting dressed up for Mass each Sunday too! So I thought I would share some of my favourite outfits so far and some tips on how to keep a stylish bump on a budget. If you want to follow along a little more, you can follow me on Instagram (I keep my account private, but don’t let that stop you from requesting to follow me). Thanks to a new iPhone and Instagram, I have been taking loads of pictures this pregnancy:

regular clothesTip #1 - Wear your regular clothes as long as possible. Keep comfort in mind, and don’t stretch things out to the point you ruin them, but wearing your favourite pieces can help improve your mood when you are feeling awful those first few months. Leggings and sweater dresses and comfy tops are great options, but your regular pants can fit too by wearing a Bella Band with your pants (a comfy cotton band that allows you to leave your pants unbuttoned and unzipped, without falling down!) Also going up a size in regular clothes might help, since you’ll probably gain weight in your butt/hips/thighs before your bump shows, and you will wear those postpartum too.

mix and match

Tip #2 – Mix and match your maternity clothes with none maternity clothes. When you do buy maternity pants, buy basics that you know you can wear to all different occasions, and ones that will work with tops you already have. Yes, those olive green skinnies are kinda trendy, but I wear them nearly everyday, and I dress them up for Mass, or dress them down for running errands. Plus, I got them on sale from a great maternity store for only $35! All the tops pictured above were bought on sale from regular stores (Walmart, Old Navy, and H&M), mixing and matching with basic cardigans I’ve had for years. You don’t have to jump in to the maternity clothes full force and never turn back to regular clothes.

Jersey

Tip #3 – Jersey is your new best friend. Two words: cotton jersey. It’s basically the best fabric ever! Super comfy, super soft, and so very forgiving when pregnant. The above outfits have a navy non maternity skirt that is cotton jersey (from Reitmans), and a light blue non maternity cotton jersey top (from RW & Co). Stretchy and they wash well, and any piece that is that soft will become a favourite in your wardrobe. Stretch in general is important when looking for comfy clothes, and I have found that a few maternity tops I have bought in the past didn’t stretch enough, only allowing me to wear them for a short time. The stretchier the fabric, the longer into your pregnancy you can wear it.

Tip #4 - Accessorize! Thankfully, accessories aren’t maternity wear, and can be worn before, during and after being pregnant. Scarfs, cardigans, necklaces are all great options for pulling an outfit together anytime, but can make you feel extra special on a pregnant day when maybe you aren’t feeling the most beautiful. And get colourful and patterned accessories! Putting on a basic pair of pants and a plain tee might seem sloppy and boring until you add a printed scarf or cardigan, or a bold necklace. And they don’t have to cost you a ton either, so many stores offer great pieces in the $10 or less range!

Now that the weather is finally warming up, I can’t wait to add cute blazers and jackets to my outfits, instead of winter coats. And lots more skirts and dresses (so happy maxi skirts are still kinda trendy), since those are super comfy when pregnant! I also love how many affordable options there are out there when it comes to maternity clothing now, but do watch the quality. That item that is on sale or from a cheaper store might seem like a great buy, but if you can’t wear it your entire pregnancy, or it looks ragged after several washes and you won’t wear it in another pregnancy, it wasn’t a good deal. I’m personally not a fan of investment pieces when it comes to maternity clothes, though I do know many women who use that to justify those $200 maternity jeans. The cut of those jeans might not be in style when you are pregnant again, so don’t get too caught up in that idea. Try to find the balance between quality and price. It can be done ladies! Even with 3 new pairs of pants, and a few tops too, the total is only a little more than $100! Pretty good, considering you can easily spend that on 1 single item.

Road Trippin & Site Seeing – frugal travel fashion tips

I turn 30 this summer, and to celebrate that big day, my husband is planning a trip to Boston for just the two of us! I’m not huge into travelling, and certainly don’t have a bucket list of places to visit, but if I did, Boston would be top of that list! I have always wanted to stroll the city streets that are so rich in history, eat the delicious seafood, and take in a ball game at Fenway. I was totally blown away when he revealed to me where we would be going! I usually do all the planning in our house (I both love it and loathe it!), so for him to plan everything out (dates, babysitters, hotel, restaurants, activities) was a big deal. Now he doesn’t want me to stress about it, he is taking care of all the little details, and all I have asked is to know when we leave, how long we are gone for, and what kind of outfits I will need to pack.

So since clothing is the only thing I have control over, I am spending every free minute I have thinking about the fun outfits I will want to wear while in Beantown! (If you follow me on Pinterest you might have noticed lots of pinning happening!) I thought I would share some tips on how to keep things frugal when planning outfits for a trip. I think when most people go on vacation, they like to buy new pieces to take with them, and I am of course one of those people. But since our budget doesn’t permit me going out and buying 4 days worth of super cute outfits, here is how I am getting by:

Rethink what you already own – Do you always wear your denim jacket with your cargos; try it with a printed summer

dressing up denim

I usually wear my red skinny jeans with flats, but they would be cute dressed up for dinner with heels! (image source)

dress instead. Do you only ever wear baseball caps to keep the sun out of your eyes; try a fedora as a sunny day accessory! Mix up your usual/favourite pieces with ones you don’t often wear. I know I tend to dress trendier and a little

more daring when on trips, than I do when I am chasing the kids around.

Pull out those special pieces you don’t often wear - I have a couple tops that I love, but aren’t the most child friendly, so I save them for date nights (which are rare!) or trips away. Same goes for heels; planning outfits around my white pumps is fun. And something as simple as getting to wear my hot pink converse high tops, which take too much time to put on while wrangling the littles out the door, is exciting too.

Borrow – Maybe you need the perfect necklace or scarf to finish off an outfit, so why not borrow it from a friend instead of buying it, especially if you know you won’t wear it again. Or better yet, if you have friends that wear the same size as you, borrow a dress or top or jacket!

orange GAP dress

My hubby bought me this super cute dress, which can easily be dress up or dressed down depending on the accessories! (image source)

Ask for clothing as gifts – This might be my favourite tip! Because I don’t buy that much clothing for myself, any occasion where I will receive a gift, I ask for clothes. I’m lucky to have a husband who picks out the best clothes for me, and even my extended family (on both sides) pick out great pieces for me too. My husband even bought me two fantastic dresses for Mother’s Day that will be perfect for our trip!

If you have to buy – Watch for sales and coupon codes! I never pay full price for clothing (last week I found a shirt on clearance at Old Navy for $2.49, and it was an additional 30% off! I just placed an order online and grabbed another summer dress for $12, a tee for $3 and a dressy tank for $7 and got an additional %15 off), stores have such quick turnarounds on clothing that if you just wait, that item you really would like, will go on sale. Also look in second hand stores, I have found lots of cute dress and skirts, shorts, and belts too! Just make sure you check over the item for stains, rips, that zippers work, and it doesn’t look too worn.

We will have such a variety of activities, from casual ball games and city strolling, to nice dinners and attending Mass, that packing multifunctional pieces will also be key, otherwise I might need two suitcases just for the 4 days! But thankfully we are driving, so I don’t have to worry too much about being a frugal packer.

Charity Tee Makeover – DIY

You all have them, sometimes they come in a one-size-fits-no-one, sometimes they offer sizes but just in men’s, so even the small is giant on me. Those shirts that you get for volunteering for something, maybe it’s from a camp you attended or a sport you played, or in my case, from a charity 5k walk. Our dear friends started up the lymeSavers foundation, I love them to bits, and the event this past weekend was a blast, but the participant shirt did not fit me at all. I didn’t expect it too, as I’m tiny, and most things don’t fit. I wasn’t too worried about it for the day of the event, as it was freezing out, so I had layers on, and the big shirt was tucked in on one side, and it wasn’t a big deal. But I want to wear the shirt all the time! I want to run in it, and wear it to the beach. I want to wear it as advertising for their foundation! But in its original form, I knew that wouldn’t happen. So, like any good friend would do, I got out my fabric scissors, and cut it up:

diy cut workout shirt

From this (not horribly large, but a little on the baggy side for me)

diy cut workout shirt

To this! Much better, and now I will wear it all the time!

diy cut workout shirt

The tied up back. Maybe I need a lime green sports bra to go with it :) (also, sorry to the awesome sponsors who are no longer visible)

I used this tutorial, which seems to be the most popular one on Pinterest. I pinned it months ago, with plans of taking scissors to lots of shirts, but so far this is the only one I have done. It is super easy, and is no sew too, which is perfect for this busy mom who did it on the other side of the baby gate while both kids called for me the entire time…it’s amazing I ever get anything done, really.

My free Maxi Skirt

Sometimes, just sometimes, it is easier to make it yourself than to keep wasting time looking for exactly what you want. When you have to drag 2 kids with you from store to store, and into change rooms, getting out the sewing machine seems like the easier task. And when the item you want to buy from a store doesn’t even fit you, making it yourself sometimes is the only option.

I’ve been wanting a maxi skirt for a while now, and thought it would be easy to find a cheap one (preferably for less than $20), since they are so popular again this year. Well, I could find them for a price I was willing to pay, they just didn’t fit. See, I’m barely 5’2″, when I tried on the women’s maxi skirt in Target, in order for it to just touch the floor, I had to pull it up around my armpits! I’m all for a high waisted skirt, but that’s a bit much! I even tried on the one’s in the junior/girls area, but they looked young, if they had them in more neutral colours I could have bought one (and for much less money too!). Hem it you say? Why on earth would I pay $20+ dollars for a skirt and than shorten it? I figured if I was going to do that, I might as well just make one. My Mom even offered to make one for me since she has more free time these days than I do. I knew it would be a simple project, so I looked in my trunk of fabrics, and sure enough I had some awesome purple jersey knit and even some elastic! I figured I would give it a shot on some fabric I already had, before going and buying any, you know, in case I totally mess it up! During the kids nap time on Sunday morning, I whipped one up. My husband was even impressed with how quickly it came together. I had found a few tutorials on Pinterest (see my crafty board here for them), but none of them were quite right for my sewing abilities and my simple sewing machine. So I took some of the ideas from them, and made up my own way of making it.

It was so darn simple, really anyone could make one. I used a cotton jersey knit (pre wash it!) with a 45″ width. I left the width as it was, and only made one cut for the length (no hemming required as jersey knit doesn’t fray!). Measure from your waist to the ground and add a couple of inches for room for the elastic and seam allowance (double the width of your elastic plus 1/2 inch for seam allowance). One straight seam the full length of the fabric is all it takes to make it a long tube (right sides together, and make sure you back stitch at each end!) fold the fabric over at the waist, and another quick straight seam, leaving a 2 inch gap to feed the elastic in. Feed the elastic through the waist band, sew the ends of the elastic together, and sew the hole closed. Turn it right side out and you are done! Since the elastic piece is a little smaller than your waist measurement, and the fabric is nearly double your waist, it will gather nicely and be flowy at the bottom, see:

diy maxi skirt

Not the best picture, but you get the idea

I realize this isn’t the best tutorial. If (when!) I make another one, I will take pictures of the process and write up an actual tutorial. I was rushing to get it finished so I could wear it to Mass, and get it done before any kids woke up, so I didn’t take any pictures during the cutting/sewing! But I promise you, it was easy. And who doesn’t love free? But if you don’t have a fabric stash, don’t worry, fabric is always going on sale, and if you are short like me, you will only need 1 metre! Hopefully I can sneak to the fabric store later this week to make more! Happy sewing!

A Frugal Easter – 2013

I know, I know, its mid April now. Easter was a couple of weeks ago, but for some reason I forgot to share with you how I managed a frugal yet indulgent Easter with my family.

Typically, on Easter Sunday, we do an egg hunt and gift opening on our own, first thing in the morning. My family then comes over for Brunch and more gifts, and later in the afternoon we head over to my husband’s family for another egg hunt and more gifts and Easter dinner. When we attend Mass seems to change each year, just as it can each weekend, and it’s based mostly on our children’s nap times. This year we attend the 8am Mass.

As I have explained before, we aren’t buying into the commercialization of these Holy days. It’s just that we are so happy to be so blessed, that we can’t help but share it with our loved ones. The gifts for our kids from their Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents are usually small: a new spring shirt, bubbles, a small stuffed animal or action figure and maybe some chocolate. My husband and I still fill a small basket with treats for each other, because, well, we both love sweets! This year we toned it down, and didn’t go as crazy with giving each other all the things we gave up for Lent. We are trying to eat healthy, so we stuck with just a few each, and just a small gift (he gave me the new Bon Jovi album, I bought him a new shirt) to save money. As for the kids, here are pictures of their baskets (awful quality because it was late at night and kinda dark…)

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Under the wrapping paper is a new train set, that we bought on sale. The two new Thomas trains I bought with a store credit with shop.ca. The basket has some chocolates and candies (maybe $5 worth) and a Leap Frog DVD from amazon.ca ($5), a Daniel and the Lion play set, a prayer card, and a Veggie Tales DVD from christianbooks.com. We try to keep a balance of favourite toys and religious ones on Easter.

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Under the pink wrapping paper is a Lego Duplo Princess castle I won during a twitter party. In her basket are some chocolates (maybe $5 worth), a Sweet Pea Veggie Tales doll, a prayer card, and some Veggie Tales DVDs all from christianbooks.com

As for their new Easter outfits, my daughter wore a yellow dress and navy sweater that I bought with a gift card I received for attending a blogger event at Sears, and my son wore his usual khakis and a new golf shirt from Target that was $7. If I hadn’t received that gift card, she likely would have worn another dress from her closet (she has every dress I wore as a baby!), or I would have looked for one second hand.

I normally buy some fresh cut flowers to put on my hall table and kitchen table for Brunch, but my neighbour brought over some nice flowers for me on Good Friday, so I didn’t have to pick any up on Saturday morning :). As for what we ate for Brunch, here is the menu:

Turkey Breakfast sausages (two packs of 10 sausages for $8 from Walmart. They taste just like pork breakfast sausages, but are much healthier)

Baked Omelette (such a great way to make eggs for a crowd! I used leftover ham from earlier that week, the eggs were $2.49 for a dozen, but I only used 8)

Artisan bread

Strawberry butter (strawberries were $1.49 a pound)

Strawberries, raspberries and blueberries (all bought on sale, for $5.47 total)

pancakes (I use the Joy of Cooking recipe)

Jam Tarts (I didn’t have time to make the dough, so I bought pre-made tarts shells for $2.99, and filled them with store bought strawberry jam and lemon curd)

I didn’t include the prices for the bread or the pancakes because the recipes use staples that I buy in bulk, and always have on hand. I like to count them as freebies ;)

We also buy small gifts for our nieces and nephews. You might remember that last year I made them all gifts (purses and super hero capes!) This year for my sisters’ kids, we kept it simple with a stuffed animal and video game and some candies. For our Catholic nieces and nephew, I followed this tutorial and made them each their own name with scriptures for each letter (I only used some of the scriptures she provided, as I wanted them to be very appropriate for each kid, so I spent hours searching online for other ones!). I also made them for my two kids! I bought plain black frames, and coloured in the letters of their names in (hopefully) their favourite colours. I intentionally didn’t take pictures, as I don’t want to share their names, so you will have to just me on how precious they are.

I hope you all had a happy and blessed Easter!

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