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Using Things Up: Declutter Your Life

Over the past 3 years our purchasing of consumable goods has decreased dramatically. In the past I loved buying skincare, make-up & haircare products. I was attracted to the next shiny “must have” cream, spray, lotion….. The old items would be pushed to the back of the cupboard, out of sight & would sit there for months/years. Resulting in a bathroom cabinet full of stuff, 90% of which were not being used.

Since we started reducing our waste & simplifying our lifestyle we ensure we use up every last bit of product we buy. We don’t want items sitting in our cupboards for months or even years. As you know we live in a small 1-bedroom apartment so space is limited. In addition, we don’t want all the space filled with things, empty space is so calming.

We are finally getting to a stage that we have used up most items in our bathroom cupboard & are left with the items we use regularly. We have given some of the lotions to neighbours & have used up the other products ourselves. It feels so satisfying to completely use up a lotion. We cut the bottle in half to scrape out every last bit. No wasters in our home;-)

The idea of buying something to use for a special occasion no longer is an option. I would buy an expensive lipstick or candle and only use for a special night! Life is too short for that! No more red lipsticks though….1 is enough;-)

My make-up and skincare routine have been simplified. I know the products I love & I use every last bit before I repurchase. Simplifying these areas of my life has been great, I have less decisions to make every morning as nothing changes, I’m ok with that. Too many options for me is a bad thing. Keep it simple. Id rather save my brain cells for other more important areas in my life.

Decluttering our life has made a huge impact on how much space we have in our home & has saved us lots of money. We purchase what we need. Often we purchase items which are multipurpose like castile soap & bread soda, the only cleaning agents you need. I should also mention coconut oil as we use it for cooking & for skincare.

One area that I need to address next is the box of travel size lotions & potions I have collected over the years from hotels & travelling. These need a new home & we need to start using them up. That is one of my new habits is not to take the travel size toiletries from the hotel! I never use them and they are super wasteful.

Have a look in your cupboards & see if there are items which have the same function, try using the old one up first & promise not to impulse buy again. It takes time but the money & space you will save will be worth it. Put the money towards a holiday or dinner with friends instead. The best of luck with the decluttering.

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

Immigration And What It Means To Become A Canadian Citizen

Irish people have been leaving our island for hundreds of years, with millions having fled, starving from the famine in the 1800s.

Some, myself included, credit Saint Brendan the Navigator with discovering the New World a few hundred years before the vikings landed in Canada in the 11th century.

In the mid 2000s Ireland was booming and the Celtic Tiger was alive and well, devouring the housing market and everything else it could get its hands on. The city-scape of Dublin boasted tower cranes everywhere reaching to the sky like the nation itself reaching for heights it had never seen before.

Then sadly, it all fell apart. Leaving the country was necessary for me, as there was no work to be found in construction at the time. Many stayed and found jobs but many like me left.

On October 31, 2010 Theresa and I said goodbye to my cousin Wilim at Dublin airport and boarded a flight to Vancouver, Canada, not realizing that it would be two years before we saw family again.

The change was though, Vancouver is an expensive City and with no jobs we were running out of money fast but we both managed to find work and eventually, after literally years, began to establish ourselves.

Little did we know when we set foot in that first short term rental apartment on Victoria Drive that nine years later we would still be here, Canadian citizens with a Canadian baby.

Naoise is every bit as Irish as myself or Theresa, there is no changing blood and the blood that runs in her veins is Irish but I am also very proud of the fact that as much as she is Irish, she is equally Canadian, being born in British Columbia. She is a symbol of a new life and of new beginnings for many Irish families who are now raising young children in Vancouver. I know of at least three other young Irish parents in Kitsilano alone who are settled here and starting to raise a family.

It goes without saying that the most difficult part of living in a different country is not seeing your family. Naoise was lucky enough to meet her Granny (Theresa’s mother) when she visited and she will meet her Grandads, Uncles, Aunts and cousins when we visit home at Christmas but she never met my mother, which makes me sad. That is not a factor of immigration, simply timing.

I remember the only Christmas I visited home, at the end of the holiday, Theresa and I left my house to travel back. My mother could not get out of bed to say good bye. We did not know she was dying but we both felt something, a deep sense of loss as we walked out the door. She died within three weeks and we were lucky enough to make it back for the last week.

We have, as Irish people been immigrating for centuries and I was humbled during the swearing in ceremony to be among 76 people from 28 different countries. It was an emotional day for us but we cannot understand the hardship some people have had to endure to come to a moment like this and we must be forever grateful for the rewards this great nation has given us.

Having visited Ireland Park in Toronto and seen the haunted faced of the statues representing the people who stepped off the coffin ships it truly hits home how lucky we are to be here and to have had such an easy journey to this point.

For a long time I wrestled with the notion of swearing an oath of allegiance to the English Monarch. Please do not be offended, I simply want to state that it was something I had to deeply consider. It went against my history and heritage but I decided that Citizenship was more important that past transgressions.

On further consideration I realized the importance of committing to the oath I would swear and taking it with meaning and intention. It would be an insult to the Monarch, the country, the ceremony and to the other people who were there that day not to give my full commitment.

I affirmed my allegiance and meant every word. From that day on I will respect and love the Monarch I am sworn to and if that makes me any less Irish than so be it but I do not believe so. We live in different times now and we must embrace one-another as friends or we cannot move forward as a nation, English, Irish or Canadian or as a race for that matter.

Becoming a Canadian Citizen is among the four most important milestones of my life. I am humbled by the friends both Canadian and fellow immigrants that we have made here and that have strengthened us over the years through difficult times.

I am proud that my family can stand with two great nations, Ireland and Canada.

Thank you for reading.

George

How to Care for Your Clothes & Extend the Life of your Wardrobe

For the past few years George & myself have been reducing the amount of clothing we purchase. We are consciously making an effort to take care of our current wardrobe so it last for years. There are several steps we are taking to help extend the life of our clothes.

  1. Read the care instructions on clothing labels

Become familiar with the fabrics your clothes are made from & how to take care of these fabrics. Look at the tags on the inside of each garment. Wash & iron accordingly. Use gentle laundry detergent, avoid all chemicals by making your own. Simply mix castile soap, borax & water. We use this for our clothes & it works perfectly.

  1. Do not put your clothes in the drier, air dry instead

We rarely use the drier to dry our clothes. The drier is harsh on clothing, it can misshape & shrink your clothes too. To extend the life of your garments avoid the drier. We like to hang our clothes on a clothes horse which we place in our bedroom. Our clothes dry within 24 hours.

  1. Iron, fold & hang your clothes

Ironing your garments according to the care label or material will keep the shape & style of your clothes. Compare a ironed shirt to an non-ironed shirt, it’s a much more polished & put together look. You will want to wear your clothes when you go to the effort of ironing them as they look brand new. After ironing make sure to hang or fold your clothes properly. Get hangers to fit your clothes & fold all knits so they wont loose their shape. Create enough of space in your wardrobe so your clothes can breathe. Donate or sell clothes you do not wear to create space. Have your closet looking like a boutique rather than a jammed packed thrift store. Not only is space good for the clothes, you will be able to see what’s in your closet too.

  1. Remove stains, mend & repair clothes & shoes

Don’t let stains sit on your clothes for days. Spot clean the stain immediately by using soap & water. If laundry day is not for a couple of days ensure to clean the stain well and maybe leave soaking overnight in soap & water. For tougher stains apply a more heavy-duty stain remover. Mend any missing buttons & tears in your clothing. Learn how to sew & repair tears. Practice is all it takes & maybe a few YouTube videos if you are like me 😉 Bring your shoes & boots to the cobbler for repair. The cobbler will extend the life of your favourite shoes & boots. Ensure to check all clothing & shoes at the end of each season before storing clothes away for any repairs that need to be done. Complete all repairs before putting your garments into storage.

  1. Wash your clothing less

We tend to wash our clothes too much. Items like jeans and knits don’t need to be washed after each time you wear them. Freshen them up by hanging them outside in the fresh air or in the bathroom after a hot bath or shower. You will see that the jeans & knits will last so much longer.

  1. Store your seasonal clothes away at the end of each season

Find yourself some large vacuum zip lock bags or under the bed storage boxes from Ikea to store seasonal clothes away. Fold all the clothes nicely, ensure they are all clean & repairs mended before storing. Wipe down all shoes and store them in shoe bags with your seasonal garments. Before I store away large knits that I wore for a couple of seasons I will bring them to the dry cleaners so they are fresh for the following year. For large coats I will also dry clean but leave hanging in the coat closet with a protector cover over them. Removing seasonal clothes from your closet will create space & keep your closet current with fresh new styles. #shopyourcloset.

  1. Buy quality garments made from natural fibres

When purchasing clothes pre-loved or new ensure the quality is there before buying. Ask yourself if this garment will look good after 3 washes? What material is it made from? Does it have to be dry cleaned? (personally, I stay away from these) The materials we like to buy are cotton, wool, silk, hemp & leather. We find these materials last the best and are easiest to take care of.

These are our top tips for extending the life of your wardrobe. Remember quality over quantity, look for pre-loved clothing made from natural fibres & avoid trends so that we will have a timeless wardrobe that will last a life time. For more insights into clothing care & the capsule wardrobe check out uselessdk.com, Signe has loads of great tips;-)

Thanks so much for reading,

Chat soon,

Theresa xxxx

 

 

 

Becoming a Father: Seven Weeks In

Seven weeks ago today a purple-grey blob which vaguely resembled a micro human was plopped onto Theresa’s belly as I watched in wonder.

I’ve come to the realization that I’m the sort of person who can only shed a tear for life changing events, this was one of those. I laughed at the ridiculousness of this squawking creature and cried from the pride, triumph and exhaustion of what Theresa had just gone through.

I can honestly say the night and morning of Naoise’s (pronounced Nee-sha) birth was the hardest thing I have ever gone through. Women may laugh at that and the contrast to what they go through, and I agree, I can not imagine how it felt, physically and mentally, but the fact remains that, yes it was the hardest thing I have ever gone trough. It was even a relatively straight forward birth.

We are lucky, we have been told by the mid-wife, we have it easier than a lot of new parents and I tend to agree, though I don’t have a frame of reference. Our baby is generally happy and easy to deal with. Everything has gone relatively straight forward. I am almost steeling my self for when the time comes when all hell breaks loose.

I also believe in mindset. I have been meditating consistently for the last four years, since the other most difficult moment in my life, the departure of my mother. She did not have the chance to meet either of her grand daughters, though she knew that my niece was on the way before she checked out.

I believe that constant meditation prepares one for any difficult moment in life, it helped me keep calm through the whole process and helps me remain calm now when my little girl accidentally projectile shits all over me. It is all part of the process I suppose.

Theresa, too is a constant meditator and I believe that the calmness and peace of mind generated was passed down. She meditates every day and meditated every day while pregnant. A stressed mind or a calm mind will have an effect on the development of a baby. Bearing in mind I am no expert in this but emotions, stress, calmness are contagious. You will see this all the time in the work place and the home.

It s funny how my own stress physically manifested itself throughout the pregnancy as I dealt with sometimes unbearable tension in my jaw. Meditation offered temporary relief but nothing else really worked. I did not feel very stressed out at the time, but now with the arrival of the micro human it has significantly lessened in intensity.

As parents, though I am new to the club, I think we make our own rules. Advise is largely useless as all situations and families are different so I don’t have much to offer, apart from the meditation. Make time for it. Encourage your partner to make time for it, even if it is only five minutes, it should be as automatic as brushing our teeth because it is just as important.

I will wrap up by saying that the last seven weeks have been the happiest of my life. I wish my family could be here to meet her, we were lucky enough to have Theresa’s mother here to help for two weeks. We must not take family for granted, it is the times you are apart that you realize how important they are. Nine years now, Theresa and I have been apart from ours and as we start our own little Canadian family we must endeavour to stick close to our roots and keep our baby close to her cousins, aunts, uncles and grand parents.

Many of my friends have recently become or are about to become parents. Good luck and enjoy.

Peace,

George

My Third Trimester Journey: A Personal Experience

Currently I am 41 weeks and 3 days pregnant. Our baby is overdue by 10 days & it doesn’t feel like she is making any movement to arrive any time soon. Surprisingly I am ok with this. Of course, I cannot wait to meet our little girl but I also want her to be fully ready before she arrives. If she needs the extra time, I am ok with it. The midwife is happy with how baby & myself are doing so there is no need to worry or panic about the baby being late. The biggest challenge is having the patience and trusting that my body will go into action mode when it needs to.

So far being overdue has been a pleasant experience, I am feeling really good. Throughout the pregnancy I have slept really well which I truly believe is a major part of feeling great. I have used this time to keep myself busy with personal projects I wanted to work on (blogs, videos, reading, cooking, organizing) and taking time to rest & relax. I have never had a staycation before, it’s awesome. Breaking away from the routine of working full time to being at home is a huge transition. Looking back, I am glad I left work 3 weeks before my due date. Personally, I needed that time to get my head out of work mode and more into the mindset that I am having a baby & I need to prepare for that. It is 1 month since I began maternity leave & I can honestly say I am ready to have the baby & truly focus on the baby and be ok with that.

The first 2 weeks of my maternity leave I signed up to a Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training with Semperviva. This was an excellent way for me to transition from work to home. The routine of getting up early, making lunch and having somewhere to go really helped ease my way into maternity leave. After those 2 weeks I had nothing planned which was great because I needed time to rest after the course. I’m so happy I had the course as a distraction when I was no longer working, it was very social and meeting new people was really great. I believe if I was at home for 1 month by myself, I would be very lonely. This is something I will try and avoid when the baby comes. I love my alone time & I can seclude myself and then feel isolated, on the other hand I am very social too……I just need to find a balance that works. I know myself that I can be a bit hesitant to meeting new people and putting myself out there, I believe maternity leave will challenge me to be more social & open up more to others.

Looking back on my third trimester it has been eventful but overall a positive experience. During the second trimester we were tested more emotionally, the third trimester I was tested more physically. The physical sensations of being pregnant started for me at week 30. What I thought was sciatica on my left-hand side of my leg turned out to be SI joint pain which lasted about 1 week. It was unpleasant as walking was unbearable. At first, I thought I pulled a muscle as George & myself had gone on a bike ride the day before. I had an RMT massage booked for that Monday so I was hoping that would help relieve the discomfort. It turned out it didn’t. I told a friend of mine that I had this pain and she recommended I go to a body worker Tracy Dixon to get checked out. I booked 2 appointments that week and after the second appointment the SI pain had gone.

Apparently, SI pain can arise because of where the baby is positioned causing a slight misalignment of something in the pelvis area. Whatever Tracy did it worked. By the following week I was back to my old self. Many women suffer from SI pain in pregnancy, please know that we don’t have to live with it, we can get it fixed which makes life so much more bearable when you can walk without any discomfort. Body workers, pelvic floor physios, massage, acupuncture…. these are all recommended therapies for SI joint pain. You may have to try out a few before finding the one that works but it is so worth it. This is where I am glad to spend money, and grateful we didn’t go crazy buying new expensive items for baby as all these therapies are expensive and even with extended health coverage, they were not 100% covered for us. Body Therapy is not listed under extended health care so that was fully our expense.

Around the same time, I also noticed the effect of all the extra blood & fluid in my body. My feet and ankles started to swell by the end of the working day. It didn’t help that I work at a desk either, I tried elevating my legs each evening to help my body circulate the fluid better. Veins started appearing closer to the top of my skin in my legs, not varicose but very prominent. My whole lower pelvic area was swelling with all the extra blood flow going there too……week 30 for me was like what the hell is going on! Everything seemed to happen in that week…. I was like, “here we go”, “this is the start of it” …. turns out all of the above happened and then faded away and became normal. I still had all the fluid but the swelling reduced & was no longer a problem. The veins were still noticeable but didn’t get worse, hoping they will disappear after and the swelling in the lower pelvic region will also disappear. At this stage no stretch marks had appeared on the belly region.

In addition to the above I got my blood tests back for diabetes testing. I was tested because there is a history of type 1 diabetes in our family. It turns out my blood test came back positive for gestational diabetes. I was informed later that my blood sugar levels were not too far off normal but because of my family history the diabetes clinic wanted to monitor my blood sugar levels. This meant I have several additional appointments to the diabetes clinic to show me how to test my blood and explain how diet can help control diabetes. I was asked to track my blood sugar levels for 1 week before & after each meal using the blood glucose machine they provided. Before & after each meal I pricked my finger and got the glucose machine to read the sugar levels. I recorded the results on a tracking sheet which the clinic provided.

After that week I returned to the clinic and the nurses & doctors reviewed my results and said that my diabetes would be diet controlled and I would not need any insulin or further treatment. For 3 more weeks I monitored my sugar levels every second day. I recorded all my results and returned to the clinic to show them. This time I was informed that my diet was all good and to keep doing what I was doing, which was eating healthy & exercising every day. I no longer had to track or record my bloods. However, my sugar levels will be monitored during and after birth & so will the babies. We both will have to revisit the clinic 6 months after the child is born for a follow up visit to ensure the gestational diabetes is gone. For me being told that I may have gestational diabetes was not a big deal as we have 2 type 1 diabetics in our family so it wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard about. For others it can be really disappointing. These kinds of things happen during pregnancy, there are so many hormonal changes in our bodies and gestational diabetes occurs. With eating healthy and exercising every day for most people this is all you have to do and again with the majority of cases the gestational diabetes disappears after the baby is born. Crazy how our bodies work & how well they can recover.

From week 32/33 to week 36 all was going really well, during that time George and myself had gone away to Victoria for a long weekend which was lovely, we did lots of walking and enjoyed it so much. We went camping to Nairn falls and did a mild hike and had a very peaceful & relaxing time in the woods. After the Nairn falls trip, week 36 the SI pain flared up again but his time on my right side of my body. Thinking it may have been the hiking I did at Nairn that brought it on.

Once I felt the pain, I booked myself in with Tracy Dixon for my body work, hoping she could help fix it after 2 sessions alike the last time. Unfortunately, the body work did not help with this side. In addition, this side was way more painful and was lasting longer than the previous side. After my last session with Tracy she recommended to see a pelvic floor physio & maybe do some acupuncture. I got an appointment for acupuncture that weekend but it didn’t help. I booked an appointment with the pelvic floor physio for the following week. The Physio gave me 2 exercises to work on butterfly and bridge pose and this worked! After the physio I felt a little bit better but after 3 days doing the exercises the SI discomfort was gone completely which was awesome. The SI pain was gone just in time as I had just finished work & was beginning my yoga training that Monday.

The above were the major physical discomforts for me during the 3rd trimester. Overall there was only 3 weeks in total that were uncomfortable. I reckon that’s not too bad, I really believe the whole 3rd trimester would be a slog. So delighted it wasn’t.

The highlights for me during this time were:

  • To hear from the midwifes that the baby’s heartbeat was still strong & she was growing well
  • Our trips to Victoria & Narin falls’
  • How good I felt & that my body was coping well with all the changes
  • Seeing Georges excitement growing as we got closer to the due date
  • Georges constant encouragement & care throughout the whole experience but especially in the 3rd trimester…. he loves my big belly & said he will be sad to see it go…. that makes me love it too
  • My belly button sticking out! I was always freaked out by the thought of my belly button sticking out but when it did it was funny, for the longest time only half had popped out so it looked like a nose…George would draw a face around it….hilarious….it finally did pop fully and It’s something we both love and press like a button! Lol!
  • Completing my Prenatal Yoga course. This course was amazing and I learned so much about pregnancy which was so great, so looking forward to teach and share all my new found knowledge.

I would love to hear about your experience during your 3rd trimester. Everyone is so different & all our experiences are so unique. We come from so many different backgrounds and have different outlooks on pregnancy that everyone’s experience should be heard. The good, the bad & the ugly. If you feel like sharing please leave a comment. Sharing our stories can help others who feel like they are going through changes by themselves but when they read others are going through similar changes it is comforting to know we are not alone.

Thanks for reading,

Feel free to share with a friend and leave a comment.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx