How to start saving money on kids clothes.

Who doesn’t love shopping for baby clothes? I love it a little to much and before my daughter was born I went a little over board picking up every cute little piece I could find.  The excitement got the better of me and I spent just a wee bit to  much money, but my saving grace was that I never paid full price for anything.

How do you control your spending and appropriately plan out what you are going to need with out buying or spending to much, well here are just a few tips that I’ve figured out over the past year that should help you save some money and keep your little fashionably cute for the years to come.

First off always wait for the sale. Kids clothes can be rather pricey these days and paying the full ticket price can sting. Your always better off waiting till the middle of the season to pick up the things your child really needs, unless it’s a hot ticket item like a snowsuit ( trust me those go fast, you want to scoop’em up ASAP). Most retailers begin initial markdowns about a month or two after product hits the shelves. If you wait your looking at a discount of about 20-30%. If Back to School starts in August look for deals  by the beginning of October. Why wait two months? Think about transition periods in seasons and shopping season. Retailers have to keep product fresh and get new items in for the holidays or whichever the next  roll out package maybe.

End of season sales need to be marked on your calendars. Please note this and highlight it , put it in your phone, sign up for newsletters do what you have to, but do not miss this opportunity.  This is the time when you can save big by purchasing items for next year.   All retailers want to clear out product to make space for the next season and holding onto goods is not ideal for their bottom line. They have goals to make each quarter and anything left in the inventory looks bad on their gross profit margins.  We have all seen those big red signs “Final Clearance” take notice and run in there. Many stores like the GAP,  Old Navy,  Joe Fresh,  will offer an additional % off already reduced items. That could mean and extra 20% or if the shopping gods are being favorable an extra 40% off the last ticketed price. Think about that cute little dress at Baby Gap you saw at the beginning of the season that was $40 might only cost you $10.

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By doing this I was able to snag Miss E’s entire summer wardrobe for next year at for under $60, that’s 7 tee’s, 3  pairs of pants, 4  pairs of shorts, 2 dresses, 3 tanks, a light weight jacket, splash pants, and some socks. Is your mind blown…mine was.

Growing up if you were the youngest hand me downs were inevitable,  you hated wearing them, but  your parents saved serious money.  If you have friends or family with older kids find out if they have anything they would be willing to part with. I’m more then certain that they’d be willing to unload some of the stuff currently taking up space in their basements and help save you some money.  In some case you could get lucky and never have to shop again. My sister is friends with a lot of other moms and rarely has had to buy clothes for her youngest. Between her network of moms, they have passed around everything a child could possible need and collectively saved a small fortune in the process.

Never turn up your nose at thrifting, first off it’s a fraction of the cost of buying new and secondly  most kids are not even in the clothes long enough that anything ever looks to worn. Make it a habit to frequent your local Goodwill, Value Village and consignment shops on a regular basis. I’ve found some great deals on items that were barely worn, some pieces even with the tags still on.  Some digging might be required but in the long run it’s totally worth it.

If your not into hitting up the thrift stores or are not able to get out of the house another option are online sites like these;

MiniTrade, Baby Outfitters, ThredUPBoomerang Kids, iSpy Clothing,

Here is just a small peek at some of the deals you could score over your morning coffee aka morning nap time.

 If you have any tips or tricks on saving big on kids clothes please share. I’m sure ever momma out there is looking to save a buck or two and maybe splurge on oh say a nice bottle of pinot.
Look for my follow article coming this weekend on efficient wardrobe planing for your babes. Until then be well and  be kind.
A
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We survived the first year and celebrated with Blueberry pie!

Recently we celebrated Miss E’s  1st Birthday. To us it was a big deal as we survived the first year with our wits intact for the most part, but to her it was nothing at all. Except for the yummy treats, that got her attention 😉

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Thinking back on it now, after the world wind  “Fam jam” we had, it’s amazing to think that Miss E has only been with us for 12 months, but in my mind it seems that she’s been here since before the dawn of time. I barely remember what life was like before she came into our lives and can’t imagine a day without her. Through all the sleepless nights, the tears (some were hers, but most were mine), the milestones, and messes, I ‘ll be that cheesy mom who says “She is the best thing that every happened to me”.

If your wondering about the lack of cake, well we had a homemade blueberry pie. Miss E loves her blueberries and who doesn’t like pie.

Blue Berry Pie

Crust 

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

2 tbsp of coconut palm sugar or granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

1 cup of unsalted butter (cubed and kept cold)

1/2 cup of whole milk  (3%) add 2-3 tablespoons of milk if necessary

Filling

4 cups of fresh blueberries

1/2 cups of coconut palm sugar or granulated sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp of ground  nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 ground coriander

3 tbsp of flour

For the crust:

In a large bowl blend together your flour, salt , and  sugar. Cut the cold butter into cubes, then add to your flour mixture working it together with your hands until it looks shaggy, When all the dry ingredients are combined with the butter make a well in the center and pour in your milk.  After the dough begins to stick together knead on a lightly floured work surface for about 5 minutes till the dough is smooth. Divide into 2 and lightly roll into a disc ( try not to work the dough to much, as you want your pastry to be nice and flaky), wrap in plastic and let it rest in the fridge for an hour.

Now for the filling:

First combine  your sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, coriander, and flour. Give these ingredients a good stir till everything is mixed. Now pour in your cleaned blueberries stir in gently, then add in the lemon juice and make sure that they become completely coated in the mixture.

Place the blueberry mixture in the fridge while you roll out the bottom part of you crust.

Now is the time to preheat your oven. 350 degrees please!

You can lightly flour your work surface or what I do is use a piece of  plastic wrap to roll out my dough. This will help make it easier to transfer the  dough into your pie tin afterwards.   Roll out your crust till the dough is about 1/4 thick or thinner. Once that is done take your pie tin and place it upside down on  your crust, now carefully flip both the tin and your crust, gently press the dough into the pan with your fingers. Leave the plastic wrap on the inside of your shell and place back in the fridge.  Then roll out the top part of the crust, once that is finished take out the bottom part of your shell and the blueberries.  Remove the plastic wrap from your shell and pour in the blueberries, then whisk an egg and lightly brush the edges of the pie, once that is done add the top crust and firmly seal both top and bottom together. Take a knife and trim of the excess pie crust, then using two fingers press along the edges making a ruffle effect or use a fork, which ever tickles you. Cut a few slits in the top to allow for steam to escape and finish by brushing the top with the whisked egg and sprinkle on a little bit of sugar ( this will give it a  beautiful golden color).

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Now your pie is ready for the oven.  Place the pie on a cookie sheet to prevent any messes and get that pie in the oven on the middle rack for about 45- 50 minutes. Please note some oven may take longer to cook then others, but in my case we have an gas range that cooks everything at turbo speed.  So if the pie needs to stay in a few extra minutes go for it, you know your oven. When it’s done take it out and let it cool for a bit, then enjoy!

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Should I stay or should I go now?

There is big decision every new parent has to make when their time at home is coming to an end. Do I return to work or do I become a stay at home parent. Depending on your situation the decision can be quite easy, but in most cases it’s one of the most difficult ones to make.

In Canada we have a year’s paid maternity leave ( government unemployment insurance that we’ve all paid into), but as the months ticked by I became increasingly more anxious about what to do.  I made lists to weigh pro’s and cons, tried making all kinds of alternative budgets to make either decision more feasible. I started seeking other better paying employment opportunities, and work from home options. I had countless notebooks compiled with endless information and plans on what I was going to do, yet still I was hesitant on making the decision.

My biggest dilemma with returning to work was daycare. First the cost, then the availability of spaces for infants were two big hurdles. I applied for subsidy daycare through the City of Toronto and got Miss E onto as many wait lists that were affiliated with the program. I figured that if I qualified ( that’s a big “IF”), I might be able to go back to work, seeing as how the average daycare in this city can run you more then a months rent (avg $1850 a month).  Retail merchandisers don’t make a whole heck of a lot of money , so this plan was stringent on my success with the Subsidy board.  After not hearing a peep from the city for months, I called them relentlessly for weeks trying to get an appointment, so I could get an answer out of them, which in turn would allow me to give the all to important answer back to my boss if I was indeed returning or not. Anyone else going through this process please do not wait on the city of Toronto they’re like that guy who doesn’t call you back. You have to be the aggressive one in this pseudo relationship.  After weeks of calling, being put on hold and eventually hung up on, I finally got through scoring my meeting with the board.  I then scrambled to get all my paper work together.  During this whole process my one guaranteed daycare spot was given away. I had already confirmed with my boss that I was coming back, I had a start date for my return to work.  Within a two day span I was  cold calling daycares around the city, applying to more wait lists, filling out countless applications, and paying silly fees that I would never get back.  My head was spinning and this whole thing was driving me crazy.

It was the weekend before my meeting, that Mr. H and I had a few to many glasses of wine, which prompted a serious slightly boozy discussion on what our plan was.  In our haze we sat down on the beaten up couch and crunched numbers and honestly considered what our future might be if I did go back to work.  We calculated that even with support from subsidy there would still be too many additional costs and variables that would end up digging us into the financial hole every month without a ladder to get out. If I had the potential to be making a higher income it could have worked, but it wasn’t our immediate reality and didn’t make any sense returning to a job with very little prospects. So, the decision was made, I would become a “Stay at home mom” or “SAHM” as we liked to be abbreviated.  I meet with my boss the next week and resigned my position, canceled my  subsidy meeting and took our daughter off all the wait lists.  It’s now official I’m a SAHM.

It would have been nice returning to work, I’ve always been one of those weird people that enjoys working, but being at home with my babe will be one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had the privilege of doing.  In a way though I will be a working stay at home mom. My plans are to work for Mr. H helping out with the paper work, study to become a real estate agent in my spare time and of course writing.  Who knows maybe you’ll see my words on another site somewhere and think.. hmm I know that voice.  Until then the Hepburn’s will be living modestly, until this Momma starts making some dough. If anyone out there needs a writer/merchandising consultant/ buyer/ stylist/ personal shopper I’m your woman.

Ultimately there is no right or wrong in being a working parent or one that stays at home, it’s really all about what works best for your family in the end. Either way both paths are a full time jobs, just in different environments.  Whatever you choose don’t let others shame you about it, hold your head up and tell them it’s your life and it’s none of their business and if you decide to stick your tongue out give em’ a big old raspberry you cheeky devil.

Sharing a bedroom

Miss E has never been fond of sleeping in her crib on top of that she is a light sleeper. It doesn’t help matters that since we live in a small apartment she currently shares a room with Mr.H and I at night. Trying to sneak into bed at night has become a full on covert ops mission. Don’t be seen or heard as you sneak by to get to the missions objective i.e. our bed.

I was talking to my design guru friend “The Girl Next Door” and she suggested I put a curtain up, to give Miss E her privacy and block her view of us stealthily getting into bed. I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before, but one problem was Miss E’s crib is in a weird corner that a curtain rod just wouldn’t work. After some design brain-storming I came up with a canopy hung from the ceiling, but I still needed to find a reasonably priced one for our room. I searched around and everything was either to expensive or just wasn’t what I was looking for, so being the recovering craft supply hoarder still with a secret stash I decided to give in and craft!!!
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After a few hot glue gun burns and half a bottle of wine, I’m fairly happy with the results.  The best part of this project was the cost… $6.00.  After a quick trip to the dollar store we found a couple adorable daisy bouquets for a $1 each, then of to the sewing store to pick up a embroidery hoop and we were all set.  I re-purposed some old Ikea curtains ( 3 to be exact) two to hang on the largehoop and one which I cut and gathered for the smaller top hoop.  The whole project took about an hour to assemble, it probably took me longer to hang it, then to make it. Finding the right drill bit and ceiling anchors, well let’s just say we’ve got some serious declutter bugging to do around here.

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So far Miss E likes it only when she’s awake.  She love to sit in her crib now and play peek-a-boo rather then sleep, but what can you do.  The cat on the other hand is all about naps in his own private tent.

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Shopping with Miss E

You see them…..try to ignore them, but we are here to shop.  Maybe, wait where are the baby crackers. OK now we’re here to shop.
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I never pictured myself being that woman pushing a stroller over shiny marble floors in poorly lite halls, looking like I don’t have care in the world.  Working on the other side of the counter as a merchandiser for far to many years, I always thought “man what a life, just walk around a mall all day, not a care, no where to rush off to.. deadlines ~~pheff !”  Until I became that woman.  I’m the one other shoppers are giving cut eye when my daughter starts acting up. She’s a baby it’s what they do, they also eat, burp, have bowels, and deliver the best giggles you’ll ever have the pleasure of hearing in your life.  To my fellow Momma’s out there, you know what I talking about. Going out anywhere, let alone a shopping mall with all its slow walking gawkers must be a well planned mission. Know what your getting, work around naps/feedings, and how long it’s all going to take.

The plan this morning  was to make a quick trip to the mall for a Walmart run and maybe find a pair of jeans that were not slowly making there way down to my knees like my other post preggo jeans. I thought today could be the day I make it to a changing room. Miss H is napping happily in her stroller, I’ve already made a couple of stops, why not go look for less sad saggy look and feel like a hot momma for once. It’ll only take a few minutes. We barely crossed the threshold of AE and boom…awake, but it’s ok she’s surprisingly calm.  I waited a second prepping my reflexes to respond to any demands, but no screaming for bottles, no whimpering for diapers, no ‘why did you drag me outta the house mom’. Wow, maybe I’ve got a chance.  Never one to pass up an opportunity I took it. Grabbed a heap of jeans tossed them on the stroller and prayed to god I could find an associate to let me in a change room fast.  

Finding staff today seemed to be like searching for a unicorn. I know from working retail that Tuesdays are slow and always understaffed regardless of where it is or even what time of day.  I found one poor guy who had been cornered by a family, I circled waiting for the opportunity to strike, then she starts. Fumbling around for baby crackers and some rattle toys should buy me some time. Thankfully he see’s me and uses or dire parrel to make an escape. (Please to all of you out there show mad reapect to anyone in the service. They work damn hard for their minium wage).

I finally get to a fitting room take off my coat turn around to see this little face
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Toys thrown to the way side, crackers gone and look of boredom creeping in. I felt terrible and selfish. Then it occurred to me, that in reality I don’t take many opportunities to do something for myself. My mommy guilt was getting me again, so what did I do? I tried on every single pair of jeans in that lil’ pile and danced around making ridiculous noises all to keep Miss E entertained and even the woman in the room next to us 😀

This momma still didn’t find a pair of jeans, but at least I got to the fitting room this time.

Brief Hiatus while teething.

Life has been in upheaval the past few days. This Momma hasn’t had time or the extra limbs to do much of anything.  Some babes seem to breeze through teething…not mine.  That’s alright I’ll enjoy our extra cuddle time even if she happens sound like a banshee.  I’ve definitely learned a thing or two since the first set of teeth arrived on Christmas morning. Oh Santa was not my friend this Christmas and I’d been on my best behavior all year, I swear.

If your curious this is what Mr.H and I’ve  found useful this time around.

1. A a cold wash cloth is your baby’s best friend, besides Momma of course. Run a clean face cloth or tea towel under cold water and hand it over. Trust me in no time that little nibbler will go to town.

2. We’ve been doing baby lead weaning, but the last couple of days have been a little rough. If your babe is having trouble it’s alright to go back to spoon feeding puree if that is less painful. If they can still manage to feed themselves or are just that stubborn cool soft foods are the best. The important thing is to make sure your little one is getting enough to eat. Most babies have difficulty eating while teething , anyway you can comfortably get food in them shouldn’t matter.

3. Cold food and bottles are best for soothing sore gums.

5. Cuddles and lots of them.

6. Your babe might be waking when they’d been previously sleeping through the night, that’s ok. It perfectly normal, it could be the pain/swelling or they could be hungry trying to make up for those lost calories if they’ve been having trouble eating. Have pain relief medicine specifically for babies handy, it should help ease their discomfort, a snuggle wouldn’t hurt either.

7. Try to keep their routine as normal as possible, for them routine offers comfort and helps them settle down at night. Babies need that sense of stability when their little world is in chaos. To us it might not seem like a big deal to skip a nap or have a later bedtime, but for them it could mean a whole nights worth of lost sleep. Think about it this way, don’t you need to unwind at night before you hit the pillow, well so does your baby. Turn the lights down low an hour before bedtime, get in that last feeding, bath, then bed and hopefully they catch some ZZZ’s.

8. This is more for the adults than the baby, but patience is key. Don’t stress out if your mini me has been screaming in your face for the last 3 hours, you made it through the first 3 months you can do it, and if  they had colic you got this. THUMBS  WAY UP !

If anyone has questions or advice about teething please feel free to leave a comment, just remember this is a positive environment. Let’s empower each other not bring one another down, especially in these times.

Be good and be well.

A