1 In Minimalist Livin'/ Parenting

What to do with all that amazing art your children bring home?

UPDATE: This post is so good it was time to highlight it again for new followers! enjoy and please share your creative ideas below!

I own a preschool. A preschool that believes in creative expression, collaborative project work, natural and loose parts exploration…we send home a lot of art. The children in our program are free to explore materials and create.

We celebrate all pieces. Even the ones with just a single brush stroke across the page. Why? Because each piece is a step in that child’s development. each piece of art documents their growth. They have a sense of meaning to the child. So we value it.

Now I am going to take off my teacher hat.

Stefano at AKIDEMY

My son attended my program for 3 years. I get it, parents…WHAT THE? How do I hide half of this without him seeing it slowly creep its way into the bin? Yes, I am saying it out loud. I GET IT! I also know that each piece means something to him. Believe me. EACH PIECE has a story…a long long story.

One brush stroke…turns into 16 pages of one brush stroke, one scribble, one page covered in the letter S, one rainbow…like itty bitty rainbow in the corner…you get the picture (no pun intended!)

So here’s the deal. I like a clutter-free home so we had to come up with a genius way of keeping his art but not having it scattered across the house or sitting accumulating in yet another storage box.

You can thank me later!

First step. Displaying art. He gets to display meaningful pieces in his room. We created a “gallery wall”; thanks to my lovely ingenious business partner who had figured out this IKEA hack years ago as a way to display art in our previous daycare centers.

You can purchase the Dignitet curtain wire at IKEA for 14.99$ (seriously! so cheap and so clean looking). The system is easy to hang. Took us no longer than 15 minutes to get it all level and hung up.



Now, what happens with all this art hanging and all the other art that comes into our house?

The pieces hanging go on rotation. When he is wanting to change something or hang something new up we take these pieces down and snap a photo with our phones. I created an album on my cell phone to specifically store each child’s art. This is easy enough to do. I also take a photo of whatever else he would like me to “keep” and then we agree that the hard copies go into the recycling bin.


Once we have about 50-60 images I send it off to my favorite, CHATBOOKS. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know that I love my Chatbooks. They arrive quickly, they are super affordable and my little guy gets a keepsake of all the art and creations he has brought home. Because they are only 6×6; they are small, easy to store for him and a great way to look back on the school year. These little photo books are clean looking, simple and super easy to create using the Chatbook app.

Minimalism is a balance. Some people are opposed to the idea of even keeping stuff like a small book of a little guy’s art. Heres’ the deal, if it adds value to our lives…we hold onto it.

This adds value to his life and way less clutter and stuff to mine.


till the next post,



0 In Mompreneur

Mompreneur Spotlight, Meet Amanda Wallace

Mompreneur Spotlight is back and I got to interview one of my local Calgary favorites, Amanda Wallace. Amanda is the founder of Chasing Sleep. She is a certified infant and child sleep consultant who is passionate about the benefits of sleep!  Her other passion is her other job (Yes! she is a serious hustler!) as a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit. So let’s get started!


Tell us a little about yourself and life as a mom…

I am a born and raised Calgary girl, mom of two little ladies and wife to a marketing guru! I came out of my teenage years interested in teaching…fast forward a few years and I fell in love with being in a family-centered education role as a registered nurse. I currently work part-time in the neonatal intensive care unit, I soak up every minute of my two and four-year-olds lives, sneak away for a date night with my hubby and work with clients all over Canada to help them find the rest they need!


Tell me about your business and what got you started?

I got started with sleep consulting after having my second daughter (now a toddler) because she was “one of those” sleepers. I knew that if I could successfully get her to be an independent sleeper, I could help any sleepy parent out there!

What have been some of the challenges around starting your own business?

The biggest challenge I face is feeling like there isn’t enough time in the day. Between my mom duties, nursing shifts and mom boss hustle, the days feel short, and often too quick! I have found that if I can manage my calendar well, it helps me to stay on task and on track each day, which allows for less of the overwhelm that I used to feel.

Being a mompreneur isn’t easy, what motivates you to want to be successful?

I want to be a successful mompreneur to show both of my daughters what it means to step out of your comfort zone! I never imagined myself as a business owner, but I love that I am now helping sleep-deprived families all over the country. I am constantly learning and making changes to my business, and I want them to see me as an example of chasing dreams (and chasing sleep)!

What is one way that you try to find a balance between being a mom and a business owner?

The most successful balance I have found between the mom and boss parts of my journey has been a result of having well-defined boundaries. When I am mumming, I put my phone away to be present with my girls. And when I am nap time hustling, I focus on client work and growing my business. I think all mom owned businesses can relate to this, but being present (and staying present) can be tough! For me, the physical separation of the two is really important.


What was your first big a-ha moment as a business owner?

I went to my first sleep conference when I was 7 months into my business operations. I met some wonderful colleagues, but the one thing I could not wrap my head around was the number of clients they could manage and still be amazing consultants. This was the first time I really learned about delegation. These women had successful businesses and were all moms… but they asked for help!

What advice would you give to a mom who might be considering starting a business or a side hustle?

Make sure you take it one step at a time! It is not possible to hit every marketing avenue, grow a business, balance a family and take time for yourself all at once. Businesses grow gradually and very rarely do you hear about a startup that exploded overnight! It is important to build the foundation and I promise the rest will come.


What has been your favorite and fun way to market your business?

I love to do group presentations! Never in a million years would I think that this would be my thing but I find connecting with a group people really allows the parents to feel empowered. I give them lots of information about sleep but it is also so reassuring to parents that they are not alone with their questions, we are all just doing the best be can raising these tiny humans!

What’s next for your brand?

I would love Chasing Sleep to grow into supporting all ages, rounding out my offering to the entire family. What would be more amazing than being able to help a child with sleep…working with the adults in their lives as well! I would like to certify eventually in adult sleep. I believe so much in the importance of good rest for all ages and stages!

How can we see more! give us directions to your site, social media etc…

I have a very active blog and website that I love to share tips and tricks related to sleep: https://www.chasingsleep.ca/

Instagram @chasing.sleep

Facebook  @chasingsleepconsulting

Till the next post,


0 In Minimalist Livin'

February Numbers, Birthdays, Balloons and Our No Spend Year

February Numbers are in! So much information to share with you this month and I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe with Stefano’s mega meltdown? He attended a birthday party where he was given a balloon. Said balloon popped and he was devastated. He proceeded to have a meltdown over the fact that we can’t go buy or replace the new balloon because we are on a no spend year. It was the loudest, longest tantrum I’ve had to endure in a long time. I may have cried with him, no joke. Anyway, dad gave in and stopped into a loonie store and bought him a new balloon. I have never in my life seen anybody so happy about a balloon. Kids are amazing. The new balloon is still doing well.

OK, moving on! So, I think our biggest challenge in all of this is going to be our groceries and staying within our twelve-hundred dollar budget. That might seem like a lot of money for food, but I am raising 3 boys who eat A LOT. Domenic alone stands six foot three and every meal for him is equivalent to 2 normal meals for the average human. My two younger boys aren’t far behind. The other struggle is trying to eat healthy, clean and organic on this budget and with their appetites this is difficult. I am trying my best to follow things like the clean fifteen etc…


let’s get into the nitty-gritty and numbers. I think Hello Fresh is off the table for us. At a hundred and seventy dollars a week for four dinners, it barely fills five of us up and it isn’t worth it. That’s been canceled. The concept is great and it’s a time saver but it isn’t cost effective. The cost eats into half our weekly budget and I still have three other dinners to buy for plus our breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.

Meat. Meat is so expensive. For those who didn’t know, I grew up as THE butcher’s daughter. My dad owns a family business in Montreal that has been around since 1939, BTW he makes the BEST Italian sausage! FYI – for those of you ever visiting MTL, GO TO TRANZO!

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Growing up my dad would call every night before heading home and ask if I wanted something for the grill for dinner to eat, I always said filet mignon. Hold on, before you get all judgy on me, I was a kid and had no idea what the cost of red meat was. I loved tenderloin and clearly took that for granted. Fast forward to moving out and becoming a big girl, OMG, no regular filet mignon or tenderloin in my house. THAT for my boys is a treat.

I have since converted to eating mostly vegetarian, and less meat, if any meat at all in my diet, but my hubby and boys still eat meat and enjoy it. We have compromised and do two or three meatless days a week in our home, and I have been purchasing more chicken and pork which is more affordable. I have found creative ways to incorporate less meat into meals like creating “bowls”. Our bowl meals are such a great and easy dinner. The boys choose a base like rice or quinoa and choose from a variety of fresh and roasted vegetables along with sliced roasted chicken or pork to add on top. Super inexpensive, easy to make, healthy and filling! also, a great way to use up veggies that are ready to go soon AND because the boys get to build and add what they like, they end up eating everything without complaining. win-win for everyone!

What I have taken away most this month when it comes to grocery spending is fruits and vegetables that are in season are typically much cheaper or on sale. I couldn’t believe how many navel oranges, pears, and bananas I got this last week for super cheap. I have already cut, peeled and cleaned a bunch for easy access and easy snacking for the kids. I also found the same with vegetables like carrots, celery, and broccoli. Clean, cut and in Tupperware ready to grab and eat. I am hoping this makes a difference in our march numbers next month. Time will tell…

Nails, Brows, Facials, Lashes Etc..

For those of you who follow my Instagram, you would know that this month I got a chemical peel and treatment done at my favorite facialists, Nubare Skin, in Calgary. Some of you are wondering how I paid for that on a no spend year. Well, In 2018 I had purchased a package of laser hair removal but my Nubare decided to sell the machine and focus solely on healthy skin. That meant I got my a credit to spend and have decided to use it slowly over the year of 2019. Once my credit runs out, I am not going to return till after our no spend year.


Well, I said I was going to go brown in order to save on the no spend year. I did it. I don’t want to get into the details but It was a mistake. Moral of the story, I won’t ever dye my hair brown again. EVER. I have officially learned my lesson.

For those of you who have been following me for a long time, you know that I suffer from a specific type of Alopecia. You can look it up under my style and beauty tab, I got lot’s of posts about it there. Anyway, going brown only amplified the very obvious loss with the contrast between my scalp and dark hair. I literally didn’t want to leave my house. I know that sounds lame, but it’s true. Everyone has their thing, my insecurity is my hair. I will leave that there and move on. Want to read more about my hair loss story, Start here, Hair Loss, The Start of My Story


In my last post, I spoke about how hard this journey has been emotionally and how I realized I had been pacifying my feelings with mindless spending prior. I also spoke about how I wanted to be more aware and appreciative when we did spend moving forward. During the past couple of months, I have missed out on coffee dates and weekly brunch. It became so frustrating emotionally that I was missing out and I gave in, in a moment of weakness and missing my girls, I met them for brunch. I got myself a coffee. one coffee. A $3 coffee. It was worth it. You can go back to that post by clicking here, The Reality Behind Our No Spend Year.


We wanted to keep as much consistency with special events and traditions as possible with the boys. The first valentines I spent with Domenic, he was only 3 at the time. I asked him to pick what he wanted to eat for Valentine’s dinner and he chose Chinese. Since then we have ordered Chinese food from the same takeout place for the last 14 years. It’s a tradition I didn’t want to break. We still came in way below budget and didn’t cheat once. This is huge considering last February we spent just under six hundred dollars in take-out and eating out.


We came well under budget. We spent a ton of time outdoors even in the frigid cold weather, we took advantage of our passes to the local recreation center to go swimming, skate and play basketball with the boys. We went for walks. We played games at home. We made up at home tournaments! We had fun! We got out to see a movie and used some passes the boys received over the holidays and bought some popcorn and waters.

Did you know there are tons of fun free things happening around your community? In February there was a free lego workshop at all toys r us. Saturdays at Home Depot, the kids can learn and build and create using tools! There are always things going on, you just need to dig a little to look for them, but they are out there!



We officially dipped into our vacation budget. Our older brother who lives in Phoenix offered us an opportunity we could not refuse. They are going to be putting their home on the rental market in April and over March they are moving into their new build. Before it goes on the Market we get the house to ourselves! They have an awesome place, with a great heated pool, in a cute community. Of course, we said yes! So we used points we had and found strategic days to fly down cheaper over spring break. We also rented a van for the 8 days and booked 2 nights at the Arizona Grand Hotel using points to make the trip a little extra special. How will we manage our spending on holidays? We are going to use the same rules for spending, the same budgets etc. We will see how we do! I am excited about the Arizona Grand Hotel because they are super family friendly and have a killer outdoor water park. I will review our stay once we return!


March is always my fav month and I start it off just right by celebrating my Birthday, March 2! This year I am heading into my last trip around the sun in my thirties! OMG! Is that for real?


Gifts have been rolling in from family members and I am really loving how their thoughts and opinions about my no spend year are coming through strong and clear haha. My mom insisted on gifting me cash so that I could grab a coffee or two and maybe pick up something I wanted for myself. Well, the truth is I didn’t need any more things, that was the point of this year. So I decided to gift myself TIME.

One thing that is due this weekend is a huge house cleaning and I was not looking forward to it. It’s my birthday and the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is clean. So mom, THANK YOU, you gave me back a Saturday morning. I booked in my old cleaning lady and I couldn’t be more excited and appreciative for the time.


I also spent $8.50 of my gift money on one thing I have been eyeing up for a while, the Polestar 2019 Famly Calendar journal. Why? Well if you haven’t’ seen them, they are legit the best way to stay organized, especially on a no spend year. There is a section weekly for meals! YES! so we stay consistent with meal planning that week and weeks ahead. Such a handy tool, I leave it in the kitchen and Ben and the boys can look to see what is coming up in the week, they can add in their appointments, my teen can schedule in his work days, babysitting gigs and outings so I know where he is…Such a great family tool. I picked mine up at Chapters, Indigo and you can get it online here, POLESTAR FAMILY CALENDAR.


My Lil bro and his wife also gifted me something they felt I needed and was missing out on this no spend year. A gift to get my nails done for my trip. Typically we always gift each other experiences, which I love and appreciate so much. This one is even more appreciated because my “dusty” feet, as my kids like to refer to them as, are in desperate need of a pedicure before I get into any flip flops in a couple of weeks.

Alright, so February wasn’t so easy but I am learning so much, so thank you February and goodbye thirty-eight! Looking forward to starting March off strong and celebrating hard!

till the next post,