Budget Wars | August 2018

One of the most common things I heard after we paid off our mortgage was about how rich we now were.

I realized that people didn’t really get it.

Now, maybe it isn’t like this for everyone, but the few people I know that paid off their mortgage were all in the same boat…

Recovery.

Yes, recovering from paying off your mortgage. For us, we put aside things for a long time (like decorating our house) so that we could focus on getting out of debt. So once that mortgage payment was null, it wasn’t like we all of a sudden had $380,000 in the bank. I mean, that would be great if it worked that way! However, it doesn’t – unless we sold the house and became homeless.

Now we are at the place where we still have all of these things that we need to do to the house, so we are saving that mortgage payment until we have enough to get ‘er done.

So, that leads me to August.

Budget life.

August budget life.

No spending August budget life.

Yes, that’s right. I’ve decided I’m going to go the whole month of August without spending extra.

Guess what that means.

Bare minimum groceries

When Brian and I were first married and actually had no money, I spent $50 every other week on groceries. We survived. I’m sure we can do it again. Right?

Passing up amazing deals

I am one of those people who has an extremely hard time passing up a deal. I’ve recently run out of a few staple products that I use and they were available to add-on to my FabFitFun order for a fraction of the price – like I mean $7 instead of $30 and $20 instead of $100. Then I thought about it. I can live without these products. AAACCKK!! Yes, it’s true. Luxury is just that, luxury. Not necessity. I’m sure I can deal without these products for a bit.

Putting makeup on the shelf

Ok, I don’t actually mean giving up makeup. I do mean putting it back on the store shelves – not buying it. This one is a bit hard for me because I’m running low on lots of makeup products. For instance, I ran out of my foundation and I’m extremely low on my face cream. However, I have samples kicking around and will use those until September.

Funny story – I used a sample of foundation the other day that was a few shades too dark for me. No biggie. I just blended it well, wore clothes that helped and made it work. A friend saw me in the hall at Church and commented about how tan I was. I chuckled to myself and graciously said my thanks. Little did he know that all that tan would be washed down the drain later that day.

No take-out

This one is a stretch – especially because yesterday I took a nap and while I was sleeping Brian ordered a pizza. I mean, I wasn’t mad at the decision. Cheese Wheelz pizza is only the best pizza around! Plus, I didn’t have to cook. Wow, I’m totally distracted. Let’s move on.

Brian and I have Fridays off together, so we typically go out for breakfast for a cute little morning date/debrief from the night before. It’s one of my most treasured dates with him. However, this summer we have set aside our breakfast place to save that little bit.

We also used to order pizza or Chinese food or something once a week. That’s also something we’ve limited over the summer.

The great thing about this decision is that it’s forcing me to learn some mad cooking skills. I mean, I need my kids to like more than just my grilled cheese and chicken nuggets.

There are a few other things that I’m doing to save money, but all in all, I really just ask myself if it’s a necessity or if there’s a more efficient way to get it done. If it’s a necessity, I will buy it; if it’s not, I will pass it up.

Are you a spender or a saver? Is it hard for you to go a month without extra spending? Do you classify makeup and takeout as necessities? Am I crazy for doing this or do you think any little bit will help? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Essential Oils

A few years ago, a friend of mine tried selling me on using essential oils. I wanted nothing to do with it because I figured it was just another money-making gimmick that would be a waste of money (and we know how much I hate wasting money).

Needless to say, I moved on and forgot all about it.

Until one day when we were visiting family out-of-town. We were supposed to go to a theme park when Violet started crying, doubled over in pain in her gut. She ran to the bathroom and….I don’t need to tell you the rest. Except that she was in horrible pain and I didn’t know what to do. Every few minutes she was running back to the bathroom in tears. I didn’t even know if there was such a thing as Immodium or Pepto for kids, but I told Brian just to go find me something at the drugstore. My sister-in-law asked if she could first try something she had in her cupboard.

ZenGest.

Willing to try anything to help Violet, I agreed. She put one drop on her belly and literally within minutes, Violet was back to laughing, playing and ready to go. I was skeptical, though. She told me to put it on her belly every 2 hours for the rest of the day. When we returned, I figured the episode that morning was probably just a fluke and stopped putting the drops on her belly.

Sure enough, after 3 hours, she was back in the bathroom starting the whole thing all over again. I tried the drops and within minutes, she was fine again.

That was when I realized that there may be more to this whole essential oils thing.

I started buying everything I could, but quickly realized that I was spending money on oils that sounded good, but I just didn’t use. So, I evaluated what oils I loved and used constantly and now I just buy those.

Here are my favourite and most used oils/blends.

Easy Air
Respiratory Blend
I use this when we have stuffy noses. I put this in the diffuser at night and also a drop or 2 on the chest. I also use this when I travel. When the air in the plane feels stagnant and stuffy, I usually open the bottle and take a few whiffs (or if it’s really gross air, sometimes I put a tiny drop under my nose).

Citrus oils
I just put citrus because there’s something about diffusing citrus oils that invigorate your senses and wake up tired minds. My favourite citrus oils are grapefruit, orange, lime and lemon.

Deep Blue
This is a gym favourite! When you’ve worked out and your muscles are recovering, Deep Blue cools and relaxes them better than icy hot or anything like that. I keep a bottle of the rub in my gym bag. This is also great for those times when Aunt Flow comes to visit. A little soupy mix of FCO, geranium, peppermint and clary sage topped with Deep Blue and I quickly forget that there’s an angry contract negotiation business meeting happening inside my abdomen.

Peace
Have you ever just asked for peace and quiet before?

Yes.

All. The. Time.

I am generally a great sleeper. By that, I mean that I can hit my pillow and be deep in solemn slumber within seconds of closing my eyes. However, when I can’t, sleep eludes me like a missing puzzle piece.

It’s gone.

I used to mix Juniper Berry (very easily my favourite oil), Lavender, Grapefruit, Ylang Ylang and Vetiver when that would happen, but then doTERRA came out with an oil blend called Peace. I’m certain it’s the exact combo that I would mix because it smells exactly the same as my concoction. Anyway, this stuff is the bomb! (does that mean I’m old when I say things like that?) I would use this over a sleep aid any day!

ZenGest
If you read my story at the beginning of this post, you know exactly why I keep this around. This is also an oil I love to travel with because you never know when your gut is going to turn on you in a foreign country.

I do use other oils and blends, but these are my most used oils. There is one other blend that I put together, but it is a top-secret bedroom type oil (and one I wouldn’t want to go without)…send me a message if you want the low down on that oil.

How Do You Handle Tough Times?

Life doesn’t always go the way we think it should. Sometimes it even feels like the twilight zone.

Handling the hiccups and the poop that tries to bury you can be downright overwhelming at times.

I am so grateful for my faith in God because I know He is faithful and will see me through any circumstance – no matter how intense it is.

Today I posted a little heart to heart – hopefully it helps even one person who watches.

6 Month Blogiversary

This week marks 6 months that I’ve been blogging. I had no idea what I was doing when I started (maybe I still don’t), but I feel like this has been good for me for a few reasons.

First, all of my life I have done things because either someone told me to, I was obligated to or it was just plain right. None of those are bad things, but I think it’s important to have a hobby or something that you do just because you simply enjoy it. That realization came to me when we had a mediator come into work and he asked me what I did on my spare time for fun. I sat there, unable to state any clear thing that I did simply for enjoyment.

After that wake-up call, I started to think about things that I enjoyed when I was younger – beauty, traveling, writing and laughing. That’s when I decided I would start a blog.

Second, I’m going to throw out the word endurance. I have this vivid childhood memory of my swim instructor telling me that I had great skills, but had to work on my endurance. I never knew that would stick with me until I realized that quitting things used to come easy to me. Now, any time I want to quit doing something, I run that phrase through my head and I evaluate if it’s my emotions talking or true logic. That swim instructor told me that after I failed the class by refusing to swim across the length of the pool. I literally swam to the middle of the pool and decided I couldn’t do it, so I stayed there for like 5 minutes treading water, pleading with him to not make me swim to the other side. Logic fail.

Third, I have become the most comfortable in my own skin since starting this. That kind of sounds strange, but confidence is something that so many people struggle with. When you put yourself out there, you run the risk of judgement from the peanut gallery. If you don’t want to be discouraged by negative comments, knowing why you are doing what you are doing is well worth it. It doesn’t totally take away the disappointment, but it does help you to push through and continue on. One of the things I say all the time, in anything you do – know your why.

Fourth, I feel like I’ve been able to connect to people who I would never have met if I wasn’t doing this. The internet is an amazing tool for connecting with people who you may never meet in everyday life. I’m grateful for these new connections and friends that I’ve made since starting my blog.

There are so many more reasons that I’m grateful for my blog and the blogging community, but these four are more than enough for me to keep going.

Thank you to all of you who enrich my life ❤

Rowena Francis YouTube Launch Video

Guys.

I am so excited to launch my YouTube channel!

I’ve actually been sitting on it for a few months now because I wasn’t even sure I knew what I was doing – or getting in to.

Let me tell you! It’s so much fun.

I started this blog because I needed something that I did just because I simply enjoyed it. No obligations. No frustrations. Just something I love.

Now imagine talking to a camera. It’s almost like therapy. Except no bill. You can say everything you’ve ever thought…then edit it out.

Genius. Pure genius.

With that, here’s my launch video:

Comment below with videos you’d like to see me do.

Summer Essentials | 2018

The weather here in Canada went straight from freezing to boiling, pretty much in the snap of a finger. We have been experiencing a heat wave and all of the peeps who complained about the cold are now doing the same about the heat.

Not me.

I love the heat. I feel like I’m no longer blending in with the milk bag (yeah, we have bags of milk in Canada) and I’m starting to get some colour back to my skin. I have even been able to wear my Too Faced Born This Way foundation!

Nonetheless, it makes me think of summer and all the essentials I will be stocking up on for this beautiful season.

Let’s get down to business. I need a pool in my backyard. I’ve been working on convincing Brian that this is an absolute summer essential, but so far it’s a no-go. Until then, I will have to make do with other avenues this summer.

Here are the items I will be bringing with me to the pool.

Sun Care

If we’re going to be out in the sun and water, a good sunscreen is in order. I always seem to gravitate toward Hawaiian Tropic and it’s probably because it smells like vacation in a bottle. I absolutely love the Silk Hydration after sun lotion.

This year I will also be trying something new – Sun Bum.

sunscreen Pictures
Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

Swimwear

Over the years I’ve been a bit of a swimsuit hoarder. However, every year I find it harder and harder to find a well-fitted suit that is cute, modest and comfortable. I have a long torso so it has always been a hassle to find a one-piece. Some places I have found decent swimsuits are la Vie en Rose and Target. I tried ordering from Asos, but even though I ordered the DD size, they were still about 2 sizes too small. If you know some great places for long torsos, comment below, I need to know.

swimsuit Pictures
Photo by Artem Bali on Unsplash

Sunglasses

Having blue eyes have turned sunglasses from a cute accessory into an absolute necessity in my life. I just can’t function without them. I also have categories now as well, because, well, if you let the ocean try on your $500 pair of Fendi sunglasses, you might not get them back. Also, don’t let the ocean try on your swimsuit.

I now have a pair of Prada sunglasses that are kept safe and other less expensive pairs that I bring to the ocean with me. Aldo has some great finds and when I’m really desperate, there’s always Dollarama.

Sunglasses Pictures
Photo by Joseph Greve on Unsplash

Hydration

There’s no point in being in the sun if it’s going to drain you and leave you with a headache.

Insert water here.

Yes, this is the time where you need to be super careful not to overheat or dehydrate. My favourite way to stay hydrated is with sparkling water. My kids call it rich people water. Maybe I do feel a bit fancy when I drink it, but it gives me the fizz I crave without draining the life out of my skin. Some of my favourites are Perrier, La Croix, and San Pellegrino.

hydration Pictures
Photo by Ashley Whitlatch on Unsplash

Entertainment

Whether you love to crank the tunes or dive into your favourite novel, you’re going to need some form of entertainment. I mean, kids are a great form of entertainment too, so go with what you’ve got.

Here is my current Spotify playlist (by jm5y). I throw this on anytime I’m working out, driving my Jeep, hanging with the cool kids or when I’m lounging by the pool.

Don’t forget to grab a speaker for your tunes. We have a speaker named Big Blue. He’s biting the dust, so this year we are bringing home Big Blue Party X. These are great because they are portable and water-resistant.

As far as books are concerned, my favourite authors are Richard L Mabry, M.D., John Bevere and this summer I’m going to read the If I Run Series by Terri Blackstock.

entertainment Pictures
Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Pool

I’m totally adding this in because I’m fairly certain that my backyard is missing this vital part of my summer plan – a pool.

Yes, my parents have a pool. Yes, you’ll most likely find me there. No, that doesn’t excuse me from needing a pool.

Like I said, I’m working on convincing Brian that this is the absolute summer essential that we need, but so far he hasn’t seen it quite the same. I’m currently presenting him with the idea that he will no longer need to cut the grass (since it would obviously be cement).

Let’s just be real, although summer is officially starting tomorrow, I probably won’t be lounging by my own pool, in my own back yard. I will, however, probably be in my swimsuit, lathered with sunscreen, sipping my rich people water and working on writing while the kiddos jump and splash in my parents’ pool.

lounging Pictures
Photo by Anna Demianenko on Unsplash

Good times. Summer memories. I love everything about it. What are your plans this summer? Will you be lounging by the pool or heading to the beach? Comment below.

The Sweet Truth | Hershey’s Crunchers

***Disclaimer: These products were sent to me free of charge for testing purposes. Although they didn’t cost me anything, these are all our own opinions.

Who doesn’t love getting packages in the mail? I know I do. It’s like Christmas morning when I get to the mailbox and see that large red key in my slot. I know that means something was too big to fit in my slot.

Before we left for Niagara Falls, I decided to check the mail.

Sure enough, Christmas came.

This time it was chocolate. Hershey’s Crunchers, to be exact.

Crunchers Pictures

Sometimes companies (like Influenster) send out free products to be reviewed. I mean, twist my arm. Chocolate is a hard sell for me to review.

Ok, true, I haven’t really had sugar over the last 7 years, but I’m not opposed to eating some chocolate occasionally. You know, for testing purposes. Plus, I’m trying to learn how to do things in moderation. Quite possibly, this may be the best place to start.

This time around I incorporated my kids in my taste testings. It may have had a bit to do with the fact that they kept bringing me the bags to ask if they could have some.

Let’s just say, they know how to wear me down. Also, let’s be real here, kids have no problem giving their brutally honest opinions.

That being said, here are our reviews.

Cookies and Cream Crunchers
170g Bag
Per 15 pieces (40g)
200 Calories
9g Fat
17g Sugar
150mg Sodium

Vincent
Score 7/10
Straight up a seven out of ten. Nothing more, nothing less.

Violet
Score 10/10
It kind of tastes like smores, but without the marshmallow and with white chocolate. It tastes good. *said in a lingering giggle*

The Sweet Truth 1

Reese’s Crunchers
170g Bag
Per 14 pieces (40g)
200 Calories
11g Fat
17g Sugar
95mg Sodium

Vincent
Score 10/10
Those are good, but they make me drink a lot of water.

Violet
Score 9/10
They taste like Ferrero Rocher, but I think I like the cookies and cream better.

The Sweet Truth 2

Overall, Violet loved the Cookies and Cream Crunchers the best while Vincent loved the Reese’s Crunchers the best. Obviously, I needed to see who was right. Although, I admit, I’m a bit biased to anything with a peanut butter and chocolate combo. I was kind of shocked at my findings.

The sweet truth? I loved both of them. The Cookies and Cream Crunchers probably took the lead on it, though. Then, when I read that you could use them as ice cream toppers, that was it, I was sold on the Cookies and Cream ones.

Literally my only negative thing to say is that when they came, we were going through a heat wave and they melted. Although that may have taken away from the look of them and made it hard to determine the nutritional value (maybe that’s not a problem), it didn’t take away from the taste by any means.

Have you tried Hershey’s Crunchers? Let me know your thoughts below in the comments.

Puppy Love | Charles Whitford

Puppy LovePictures(Photo Credit Kenrick Mills on Unsplash)

I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but the thought of having a puppy seemed super cute. My emotions couldn’t help but be sucked into this whirlwind of puppy cuteness overload!

Then, I’d have this small sense of logic pop in my mind. Puppies are like babies and you are out of the baby stage.

Just like that, my decision was made.

Until…

Until my daughter dog sat (is that even a thing?) little Mya. She absolutely fell in love and her mind was made up. We were getting a dog.

I figured it would pass, but with every passing moment, her desire got stronger and stronger. She would go to my brother in law’s and pick up dog poop for him.

After 2 years of her persistence, I told her that if we could all agree on a breed, we would get a dog.

**My suggestion was a little sketch because I knew Brian and I disagreed terribly about dog breeds. So, I figured it would never happen.

One day, I was cooking dinner and I saw my daughter sneak downstairs with paper and a pen. I didn’t think much about it until she proudly marched up the stairs 15 minutes later and announced that we were getting a dog.

Confused, but not wanting to immediately burst her bubble, I sternly asked my hubby to join me in a friendly conversation in the bedroom.

Apparently, she did her research and found a dog she knew I would approve of. Then she put together her logical argument for her father in which she got him to say he approved of the dog.

It was finished.

We were getting a dog.

Coton de Tulear, to be exact.

Most people make me repeat it over again because they don’t recognize the breed.

The first breeder I talked to kept me on the phone for an hour grilling me about how I would care for the dog. It was the most intense interview I have ever had.

So, I kept looking. I didn’t know a lot about caring for a dog, but I did know that we had a promise to keep and that this was the only breed acceptable.

I’m so glad I kept looking because I found an absolutely amazing breeder just north of Toronto – Strawberry Cotons.

I fell in love with the pictures of the puppies and I put a deposit down.

This was really happening.

We were able to pick up the puppy and surprise our kids entirely.

Charles3

It’s now been 2 years since Charles became a part of our family and I can’t imagine how life was without him.

He is the most playful, energetic, loving and caring pups. On days when any of us are having a rough go, he will literally nudge you until you pick him up so he can hug you.

If I had to do it all over again, I would choose him every time. I love my daughter and her persistent logic, because without it our lives would be missing this piece.

She’s since started working on her logic for us having another baby…

Do you have a dog? Comment below on your favourite breed.