Blog

Our progress…not perfection

Although our family may view us as the recycling, bug saving, plastic police; we truthfully are very far from being where we want to be in the zero waste world. I come from a beautiful family of paper plate users. They only serve Amanda and I on “real plates”; but we love them anyways.  As a part owner of a green goods store; I want to talk to you about the realities of where we are at, where we were; and where we want to be. This is why we talk so much about progress not perfection. It can be really hard to make changes sometimes; and we are the first to admit to that.

Our lives have come to a point where we tend to value convenience over many other things. As a new mom, I think I understand that concept more now than ever. Having a baby just doesn’t afford you the time that you had in the past. We don’t have time to make elaborate dinners anymore; never mind the time to even chop vegetables. We are doing our best to get back to our norm; but that certainly isn’t happening quickly.

Where we have slowly been excelling is our changes to make our home greener. I know that making these changes can seem overwhelming; but if you slowly make the changes, it doesn’t seem to bad.

Changes we have made:

Paper Towels-We got rid of paper towels, now we only use reusable paper towels or hand towels.

IMG_5342

Toothpaste-we use toothpaste tabs and toothpaste that comes in small glass jar, and tooth powder. My favorite so far is the toothpaste tabs. The powder is convenient and lasts decently long; but I don’t love the flavor.

Toothbrush-We used to use a plastic toothbrush, but we now use a bamboo toothbrush.

IMG_5346

Floss-Traditional floss comes encased in a plastic container or is usually attached to a plastic stick. We are now using vegan floss (since silk is not vegan) that comes in a small glass container. When it is empty, we can refill it with a new spool.

IMG_5347

Deodorant-We have changed from using a natural deodorant like Toms to Apothecary (which comes in a compostable container). We have also used a version that comes in a small glass container. Anything that comes in a glass container is awesome because it can be cleaned out and used for almost anything else.

IMG_5348

Diapers-cloth diapers and cloth wipes

Coffee-We buy coffee in bulk and use a glass French Press to avoid coffee filters and other plastic.

Bags-We use reusable bags when we go shopping, as well as produce bags. It is our rule that if we don’t bring our bags with us; we just don’t use any. It’s almost like a form of punishment when you have to carry a lot with out a bag; but very effective. The only other option I allow myself is to purchase a reusable bag; although we already feel like we have to many sometimes.

Straws-Although I do not use a straw regularly; there are certainly instances where I have needed one. Instead of the plastic straw, I carry a reusable silicone straw that comes in a small tin. It is dishwasher safe and easy to clean and carry around. I personally find this most useful for smoothies or when we are at the movies and I want a soda.

IMG_5349

Shampoo and Conditioner- In the past, we were using good quality shampoos and conditioners; but they were always in plastic containers. We use a shampoo bar and a conditioner bar. I have used some in the past that did not work very well; but the ones that we have been using recently are working very well. The conditioner doesn’t lather as much as I would like, but it still makes my hair softer and gets some tangles out. We have realized that these products may not be as perfect just yet; but they still do a great job and do not contain plastic. *In the future our store will have a bulk section, which will include shampoo and conditioner. At that point we may use a mix of bar and liquid.

IMG_5350

Cotton Swab-This may be my very favorite of our changes. Instead of using a cotton swab that is used and thrown away after each use; we now use The Last Swab. It is a reusable cotton swab made from silicone and it is easily cleaned under running water with a little bit of hand soap. I love this product because it still gives a satisfying feeling while cleaning your ears. The only downfall is that it does not dry your ears as well as a traditional cotton swab.

IMG_5343

Hand soap-We used to use Meyers and Seventh Generation hand soaps (liquid form) but we are now using bars of hand soap. In our Air BnB condo, we currently use a mixture of liquid and hand soap. We refill our glass soap dispensers with Meyers refillable soap; however this is still waste as that package cannot be refilled. We are working on only sourcing that liquid soap through a bulk store; and then we will refill it through our store in the future.

Dish soap/sponge-In the past we used Meyers and Seventh Generation liquid dish soap as well. Now we use a block dish soap that we sell at our store. We usually cut it into halves or thirds and it lasts for a decent amount of time. With that, we use a bamboo dish brush and a bamboo scraper for food that is hard to get off.

IMG_5341

Changes we are working on making now:

Compost-We finally just bought a compost bin; but we are now trying to figure out where the compost will go. We are working on getting a tumbler or something of that sort. We currently use one trash bag each week; and I would really like to get down to 1 trash bag per month or every few months. The majority of our trash at this point seems like food scraps. I want to work on using these scraps to make broths as well as composting the remainder.

Buying bulk for more things-We currently buy our coffee in bulk and reuse the same coffee bag as many times as possible. We want to start buying all of our grains, and nuts in bulk; as well as flour. We will purchase bags with the tare weight already on (we sell these and have some adorable ones I have had my eye on); or we will use some of the mason jars that we already have.

Please keep in mind that we have made these transitions slowly. This has helped us financially; and it allowed us to use the rest of whatever we had on hand so we were not wasting

PS** I took the pictures at our store. I’ve realized the only way I can get a post written is if Amanda has the baby; so I am currently writing this post on a camping chair at our store. If our house is any form of clean later; I will post a few pictures of how we have used these at our own home.

Is there anything else that we could be doing that you have changed in your house? We would love to hear your ideas. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any ideas/comments you may have.

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

Cheers,

A & M

Cloth diapering in a nutshell..(it’s really not that bad)

Now that Greenly is almost 4 months old (which I cannot believe); we wanted to update you on how cloth diapering has been going. Greenly’s very first diaper was a cloth diaper; and this made us very happy. Things have really been going great. It has saved us money and we feel good knowing that we are not sending dirty diapers into the landfill.

IMG_5015

From all the research I have done; I can very easily say that their are many cloth diapering experts out there; but I am very much NOT one of them. So, I want to give you  a run down/update on how cloth diapering has been working for us. I want to talk about how we cloth diaper and why we love it.

When I was pregnant; we did a lot of research on cloth diapering. We looked up the brands, the types of diapers, how to wash them, and so much more. It was overwhelming and after all of that reading; I was not confident at all. Whenever I would talk to someone about it; they would tell me how hard it was going to be and that they were sure we would give it up after a few weeks. I am so happy to say that we have not. I am also happy to say that it is not difficult like people had said.

I must admit, we did use a few disposable diapers at the beginning. When Greenly was born, she weighed 7 lb 1.5 oz and was 20.5 inches long. She was long and skinny. We hadn’t ordered/received any newborn size cloth diapers; only size 1 and 2. Many babies can fit into a size one cloth diaper when they are born, but Greenly did not. After many leaks in the size one diapers; we borrowed some newborn size cloth diapers from our friend Kim at Petite Bottoms. This solved our leakage issue immediately and we only needed them for so long as Greenly soon grew out of them.

Here’s a run down of our cloth diapering in a nut shell. We primarily use Thirsties Covers with prefolds as well as a few All in Ones.

Washing routine:

  1. Wash all covers and prefolds in the washer on a rinse & spin cycle without soap.
  2. Wash all covers and prefolds on normal cycle with gentle detergent (Charlies Soap)
  3. Dry prefolds in dryer, air dry all covers.

Cover with prefold-cheap, easy, able to reuse the cover several times if remains unsoiled. The prefolds are also great to wipe things up/ use as a burp cloth. We just take the sides of the prefold, turn it in, and put it inside the cover. Easy peasy!

 

IMG_5082

Greenly beautifully posing with her stylish cloth diapers! No diaper rash yet : )

All in One-Most similar to your standard disposable diaper-quick, thick, not able to be reused once soiled. We love to use these at night as they seem to be a softer and they are also great if you are feeling a bit lazy. The prefolds are easy, but All in Ones are one step. The only downside to All in One’s is that they tend to be a bit more expensive and can only be used once.

 All in One Diaper!

When she wets her diaper; you change her, wipe with a reusable wipe (we just dip it in water), then we put all soiled items into a wetbag.

Reusable wipes

IMG_5097

Wet bags for home and on the go

Here is what our setup looks like, nothing fancy but it works well for us.

IMG_5099

Overall, we are very happy with how cloth diapering has been going so far. Minus a few leaks, all has gone really well. Our next learning curve will be when Greenly has solid poop. That will be a different story and I am sure we will have much to learn and share with you. Here’s to diapers that keep our baby clean, comfortable, and don’t end up in a landfill.

All you need is a suitcase & a playlist.

Cheers,

A & M

How to survive going back to work

I had the most amazing time being with our daughter during my maternity leave. I loved getting to know her and being there for her. She let me kiss her every minute and marvel at her beautiful features and unique sounds. I know some people get really bored being at home and want to go back but that just wasn’t me. I wanted to revel in my baby instead. With that in mind, I can honestly say that the worst part of my maternity leave was the night before my first day back. All I could think about was the fact that I had to leave her in the morning and I hated it. I cried myself to sleep that night and then again in the morning when I said good bye.  I didn’t want to leave my baby; and that hasn’t changed. Everyday I change her at 3:30am (give or take a few hours), feed her, then get ready for work at 5am. I kiss her goodbye and then I kiss Amanda goodbye. The best part of me going back to work is that I know that Greenly is in good hands. I was lucky to have Greenly at home with me for the past three months and now she runs Bona Fide with Amanda. They are a great team. Just look at how cute they are!?

What I’ve learned so far is that I will always want to stay with my baby; and that’s okay. For now though; I will keep working hard at my job and do my best not to take for granted the time I do have with Greenly. Here are a few things that I have found helpful.

  1. Ask your other half/caregiver to send you pictures of your baby. This was a suggestion made by my wife. It seems like something small; but it really does help you get through the day. Picture of Greenly smiling throughout her day remind me that she’s still having a great day, even if I’m not there.
  2. If you are breastfeeding, get down a pumping  routine. When I was home during my maternity leave I struggled to find a feeding and pumping routine. I truly believe in the feed on demand method; but that was easier for me being at home. Greenly helps Amanda run our store and feeding in that manner is a little bit harder. Amanda still reads Greenly’s cues and feeds her when she is hungry; but she seems to have things a bit more scheduled than I originally had.
  3. Nipple Pads! Don’t leave home without em’! We have washable ones at Bona Fide (in store only at the moment).

In the past, pumping did not always end up with a lot of milk. It frustrated me and I always felt like I was lacking. Now that I pump at work regularly; I get about 12-15 ounces every day; which is pretty good for me and works well for Greenly the next day. I only provide enough milk for her to have until I pick her up; given that I breastfeed her for the remainder of the day. Here is how our routine works on any given day (give or take changes as they come). I know this may not work for everyone; but this is what’s working for us at the moment and I hope it may help someone else who will be starting back to work soon.

  • Wake up with Greenly at 3:30am, change & feed her for about 30 minutes, while pumping the other side, then she goes back to bed.
  • Get ready for work and arrive there for 5am.
  • At 7/7:30am I clock out to pump for 20-30 minutes.
  • Scheduled lunch at 9/9:30am-eat lunch and pump at same time.
  • Clock out at 1pm and pump immediately after while still at work. * This was a genius idea of one of my managers which has allowed me three pumping sessions without having to lose as many hours.

I usually pick up Greens immediately after work, or I will go home first and cleanup a little bit before I walk down to get her. The truth is that I am not really sure how to survive. I take it day by day and do my best to remain grateful. Going back to work can be really hard and emotional. Just remember that you are doing your best. I remind myself that everything I do is for the well being of Greenly and our family. This is how I get through those sad moments.

If you have any tips that you have found helpful for going back to work; please share them! Check us out next time for a follow up on how our Cloth Diapering has been going. We are loving it and are excited to share how it’s changed for us and what’s coming up in the future.

IMG_4753

Greenly says Don’t Forget to Go Green!

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

 

Cheers,

A & M

 

 

 

 

Bona Fide Baby!

We’re back! After another long hiatus; I think I am finally ready to start writing again. Last time we talked we had just purchased a green goods store (with two wonderful business partners), Bonafide Green Goods to be exact. Since then; we have also had a beautiful baby girl named Greenly Atlas and moved to a new apartment. (*we thought of the name far before we purchased the store)  She is perfect in every way and we are having so much fun with her!

 

 

 

Here is Greenly on her birthday and the day after. I can’t believe that she is already 1 month old!

Buying the store, having a baby, and moving all within two to three months was a lot at once and I would not recommend it. However; we are fortunate enough to say that they have all been positive changes. As with all new things, the store is a work in progress. We are constantly thinking of new ideas; moving around product, and getting in  new things everyday. I must say that owning your own business is definitely a bit daunting financially; but who else better to count on than yourself? It also helps that we feel very passionately about the items that we are selling. We sell eco-friendly products that help you to save the earth and work towards a zero waste lifestyle. If you are in Concord, N.H., please come check us out on Main St. Otherwise, please check out our website at Bonafide Green Goods.

I am so excited to be sharing with you our take on being moms, owning a business (including our AirBnB) ; and how we are going to fit in travel in this crazy thing called life. Purchasing the store has really helped us to guide the way we live; but we too are working towards reducing our waste and living life as green as possible. Sometimes it takes a bit more effort; but we truly believe that it’s worth it.

As new moms, we are learning a bit more about our daughter and ourselves everyday. If no one has told you yet; being a mom is not easy. It’s messy and tiresome; but also beautiful. Most days of the week I am left wondering when I can fit in a shower and if that weird smell is dried breast milk or something much worse. Luckily, I have a wonderful partner who has been loving, supportive, and a great mom to our baby so far. I am so grateful for her and I honestly cannot imagine doing this on my own. Overall, we are in love and having a lot of fun with Greenly so far. Our baby gives me so much joy just by looking at her and holding her. Every half-smile and coo makes me feel border line emotional and makes me laugh. I find her adorable even when she’s screaming and she makes us so happy.

*This is what I do when I am home alone and I have to pee. It’s normal right?!

IMG_4205

We are cloth diapering and loving it so far. I didn’t think it was possible; but I think I read to much about it prior to having the baby. I read about which type of diaper to get, what the cost would be, and how to launder them. It seemed like a decent amount of work and I was worried that I would forget everything and somehow ruin the diapers. Luckily, I was very wrong. Once you do it a few times, it’s not so bad at all. The greatest part about it is that we feel better about the materials on her skin and the impact on the environment. We chose to use Prefolds with covers and a few All in Ones. The benefit of the Prefold is that the cover can be reused several times in a day; as long as it doesn’t get dirty or wet. The All in Ones are great for when you’re looking for something quick and easy. Here is Greenly modeling a few for us. The purple diaper on the left is an all in one and the diaper on the right shows a cover with a prefold inside. She is happy in either of them. What has also been helpful for us is that we carry these products in our store. Secondly, we work with Kim of Petite Bottoms who offers a complete diaper service in the NH area as well as free education on cloth diapering. This has been a life saver for our family.  Here is a link to a few of our cloth diapers at our store.

 

 

Please feel free to reach out to me at acornellier86@gmail.com if you have any questions on cloth diapering or anything else that comes up. We are certainly not experts on anything mom/diaper related just yet; but we are having fun and are happy to chat about anything.

I have six more weeks of maternity leave left over and I plan to get in as many snuggles as I can. I can’t even imagine how I will feel when I have to go back to work; but I am happy to say that our baby will be staying with the best person I could even imagine; my wife. Greenly will be learning all about green goods with Amanda at the store everyday and I will pick her up on my way home. Our business is helping us to be better to the earth and is allowing us to be the moms we want to be. As part owner of Bona Fide Green Goods and our Beautiful AirBnB; I am happy to be continuing to write about our business for so many reasons; but mostly because it resonates with why we started this blog in the first place. We have had some monumental changes in the past year; but our goals have remained the same. Our physical businesses may ground us a bit more than we originally planned; but we still strive to be location independent. We still plan to live life adventurously, to travel, and to teach our daughter all about the world and the exciting things all around her. Cheers to new beginnings

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

Cheers,

A & M

Our trip was beautiful, but lemme tell you bout the food!

IMG_20190421_132649046_HDR

Bonjour fellow travelers and readers! As you can see; we have made it up the 107 stairs and back down again, as well as all around France and a good part of England. We are back and can’t wait to tell you all about it. Yes, you are right, it has taken me what feels like a million years to finish this post, but we have had A Lot going on in the meantime. Our trip was in April, but as you will see we have been very busy.

Ps…we found Vegan Chocolate Croissants; so if nothing else I say interests you; just know that!

IMG_20190411_103358131

VG Patisserie

Now that we are finally back into a semi normal groove, I can sit here with coffee in hand (yes I am drinking 1 cup per day, no judging!) and daydream a little bit about our European adventure.

After layering with 3-4 sweaters each and sweating all the way through security; I was both happy and disappointed to realize that the airline did not weigh our bags. We chose to do carry on only with our brand new Tortuga backpacks. The only caveat was that the carry on could not weigh more than 22 pounds in combination with your personal item (ie, purse, camera).  The backpack itself weighed about five pounds, so yes, that means we could each only pack seventeen pounds of clothing/shoes for two weeks! If you have ever even seen me pack for a weekend; you should honestly be very impressed.image000000 (1)

 

Compared to our honeymoon trip to Bali, the 6-7 hour flight didn’t feel so bad at all. We arrived in Paris at about 10am the next day, exhausted and ready to make the trek to our Air BNB. The majority of the airport wasn’t that bad to navigate until we reached train station portion. We had to take a specific train and we quickly realized that this would not be as easy as your regular subway. As to be expected, everything was in French and the signs were not clear with their directions and arrows. Our backs were already burning from carrying our packs and the lack of sleep was not helping at all. After much deliberation, we picked a set of stairs and boarded that train. To our delight; this ended being the right one.

When we arrived; the view as we exited the train station felt like a movie scene. The sun was shining and all of the buildings were breathtakingly beautiful. The architecture was not of this time and unlike anything we had seen before.  Everywhere we walked, we saw cafes with people drinking espresso, eating bread, and smoking cigarettes.  Amanda did her best to navigate to our destination; but this was not an easy task as we later realized that the audio portion and the visual portion of google maps were telling us opposite directions. This meant that we probably walked for an extra 30-40 minutes more to find our Air BNB than we really should have.

The next adventure was the 107 stairs that I had been worried about. Truth be told, I only practiced on my own stairs at home maybe two to three times. The real stairs were dark, old, and spiral. We let our host lead the way so I could stop on the landings to take a breath. Not bad for a 6 month pregnant woman, if I do say so myself. The studio ended up being a bit smaller than we had originally anticipated and the ladder a bit uncomfortable. However; it was a great choice as the location was exactly what we needed and it did the trick.

image000000

Just picture this, but going up a million times!

IMG_3612

This picture is in the Air BNB just mentioned after a very long day full of walking. Doesn’t she look cute like a burrito?!

IMG_20190410_205337843

Paris at night was beautiful.

Finding new food is one of our favorite things to do when we are traveling. However; we realized very quickly that most Parisians were not willing or happy to speak English. We tried to use what phrases we knew; but this seemed to make people more annoyed. As a general rule, the French didn’t seem to be mean, just not friendly. This made going to restaurants that were not vegan a bit more difficult. Usually, we would be able to ask questions/make changes on a menu; but with the language barrier this was not as easy. This meant that we would primarily stick to vegan/vegetarian restaurants. The only issue with this is that being vegan is not yet huge in France and the restaurants that we could find ended up being reservation only. After a bit of planning, we did find a few hat we loved. Some of the highlights were VG PatisserieCloud Cakes Abattoir Vegetal, and Cafe Vert. VG Patisserie was a completely vegan bakery full of freshly made chocolate croissants, coffee, and any other indulgence you could think of.  Cafe Vert hosted a beautiful 3-4 course brunch with the sunlight shining in; and Abattoir Vegetal had unique entrees in a eclectic atmosphere. These were located in a mix of Paris as well as the South of France.

The first photo is one of the beautiful courses from my birthday brunch. The second photo is a vegan cheese/ charcuterie plate; and the third was our vegan hot dog adventure at Hot Vog.

Amanda’s favorite phrase in France was “un baguette si vous plais”. This ended up being one of the only phrases we really knew, but also one that was easily understood with no questions asked. Their was amazing bread everywhere, so we were happy to at least be able to say Bonjour and ask for a baguette. 

IMG_20190410_185853679

Obligatory Eiffel Tower photo

Lastly, the Notre Dame. I am grateful to say that we were fortunate enough to have visited the Notre Dame before it caught on fire. We had been there about two days prior to the tragic event. Having originally planned on just admiring the outside; we had a change of heart and decided to head inside. We’re so glad we did. It was a beautiful place. Paris was full of good bread, to many stairs, and beautiful sites. However; a few days there was plenty and we were eager to see the south and the coast.

We rented a tiny Fiat and it was perfect for what we needed. It was amazing to drive through the countryside on our own time and pace. This allowed for random stops at odd cafes and small towns. We visited Aix en Provence, Lyon, and Marseilles.

Aix en Provence

While each had its own beauty, Marseilles, the oldest city in France, was on the water and our Air BNB was a beautifully decorated room with a rooftop terrace. We saw a beautiful beach and really relaxed before our trek to England next.

Marseilles

After a week of managing the French subway with little to no communication with other humans; a young English man on the tube approached us almost immediately to ask if we needed help figuring out the map etc. We were so shocked by this that we almost ignored him.  This was great start to our week in England.

We found our first Air BNB there late at night and it was perfect. This was a “tiny home” created from a garden shed and was located in someones backyard. It was beautifully decorated and more than peaceful.

IMG_20190417_105722204_HDR

Everyday after this, we would find our way to the tube or a red city bus to find our adventure. We saw Big Ben (which we almost couldn’t recognize due to scaffolding lol), the London Eye, Hyde Park, Covenant Garden, Picadilly Circus, and Amanda surprised me with a night cruise. Their was so much to do. England ended up being our favorite part of our trip. The people were kind, the weather was warm and sunny; and the food was AMAZING! Their was vegan food everywhere and cool things to do!

IMG_20190421_142430416_HDR

The photo to the right was a slightly hidden garden/hangout area with a local band, a bar, snacks, a lot of weed, and many friendly people. It was kind of an amazing place to be; although we only stayed for a short time and did not partake in the activities. 

Our favorite part had to be Camden Market; or sometimes called Camden Lock. Camden Market is an open market, open everyday, filled with food stalls, local shops, and lots of people. It also happens to be located on a quaint river way that attracts all types. We ate along side both tourists and locals who really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Camden is known to attract a bit of an “alternative” crowd and it was honestly wonderful to see so many different types of people in one place.

camden-493846_1280

Credit Culturetrip.com

People would grab something delicious from the market, or even just a beer; and sit by the river or take a stroll; watching the house boats, tourist boats, and cute ducks swim by. The market seemed endless and was filled with more vegan options than I have ever seen in one place in my 7+ years of being vegan. We had sandwiches, Banoffee Pie (our new obsession), arepas, burgers, ice cream; and so much more!

Regents Canal (where you would walk to see the boats and ducks) , Tripadvisor.com

One of our favorite places was Rudy’s Dirty Vegan Diner.

IMG_20190417_133920536

If you were sitting at Rudy’s picnic tables; you were only allowed to eat food that was vegan. While we were eating a bowl of loaded fries, a gentleman was asked to leave due to his foot long meat hot dog. He took it well and understood. I can’t even begin to describe to you how many different things we ate; but we visited here at least two to three times during the week.

IMG_20190417_123409473_HDR

This was the home of the Banoffee pie!

IMG_20190417_134003046_HDR

Although the food was a major highlight of our trip, we also met some amazing people and saw some beautiful things. One of our favorites was getting to see the Lion King on Broadway in London! The costumes were bright and so creative; and the actors/actresses very very talented. We were so happy to be able to experience this.

IMG_20190420_135913732_HDR

As I mentioned, we have been pretty busy these last few months. Our condo is finally done (minus some much needed art work); and it is officially on Air BNB. Please check it out and share it with your friends!

Check out our listing on Tenney Mountain in Plymouth, N.H.

On top of this, our baby is due in three weeks (our baby is the size of a Romaine ❤,) and lastly…..we bought a business with two other wonderful humans!!! Yayyyy! While I won’t tell you all of the details about this just yet (next blog post to be posted very soon all about our business); we were so excited to meet local entrepreneurs in both France and England. We are hoping to add some of those unique products to our shop. In the meantime; take a look at our website, Bonafide Green Goods.

Looking forward to sharing more very soon!

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

 

Cheers,

A & M

107 Stairs

“104, 105, 106, 107, I made it!” This is me counting each step as I go up and down our stairwell to our bedroom. Why am I counting to 107 you ask? Well, that is because our Air BnB in Paris is on the 6th floor with exactly 107 stairs going up. When we booked our trip we knew that I could potentially be pregnant. For some reason, I did poor math and assumed that I would only be 5 months. The bed is also lofted and we must climb a ladder to get up. (shown below) This means that I am practicing every day to climb 107 stairs. By the time April comes around, I will be 6 months pregnant and ready to climb some stairs.

093d675e-17c8-45b8-8fe4-167dd0d22aa0

Here we are, 20 weeks down and 20 to go. I am so excited to officially blog that we are pregnant and our baby is the size of a sweet potato! After miscarrying almost a year ago, it was so nerve-racking to finally make the announcement but I am glad we did. We have had so much support from our friends and family and we are so excited for this summer baby! Hooray for future birthday parties on the beach!

*Check out our video below if you haven’t had a chance to yet. I just may be my favorite thing!

Nesting Has Begun!

Our renovation is FINALLY almost done, and we will be on vacation in 40 days, then maternity leave at the end of July. Although these are all very exciting things, this is A Lot! We will be in France, England, Ireland, and where ever else we decide to venture to while we are there. We will be there for 15 days and although we are overwhelmed; we are very excited!

As you can imagine, the renovation has taken us much longer than we expected. All of the floors now have hard wood, except for one bedroom that we are finishing up as we speak. All the walls are painted, my wife has installed numerous light fixtures; and she even installed two sinks and updated plumbing. I am so impressed with all of her new skills. I can only hope that my design abilities will live up to the hard work she has put into our home. Lastly, we have to sand, stain, and polyurethane all the floors, along with installing trim on the bottom.

Here are a few pictures of the progress we have made so far! We used a Rustoleum kit to redo the countertops and we were pretty excited with the result. It didn’t come out exactly as we had hoped; but it is certainly an upgrade and we are proud of the results.

 

What I haven’t mentioned in the past is that we eventually plan to make our condo into an Air BnB rental. As of right now, we are paying a small rent at home and paying a mortgage for a home we are not living in. With a vacation coming and a baby around the corner; this is financially a bit stressful. We planned for this and knew things would be tight for a bit; but we still sometimes think to ourselves “what were we thinking”?! When those moments happen, we just remind each other how great of an investment this is, how much we are learning; and how much fun this condo will be for us and many others over the years. We are hoping it can be a part time home for us in the summers and passive income otherwise; not to mention mini getaways for ourselves and our family & friends.

With any luck, the major parts of the renovation will be done in the next few weeks and we can finish up with the furnishing and decorations. In the meantime, I’ll work on checking in sooner and keeping you all updated. Thanks for tuning in.

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

 

Cheers, A & M

A lot more renovation with a lot less money..we’re getting it done!

Today I shall adventure off into the world of consignment furniture. I am on my own today as the wife is at work and I have been tasked to find us a kitchen table and hopefully a few more things. Over these past few months, I have been Pinteresting a million different pictures for our condo. I knew what color palette we wanted, the style we were going for, what kind of couch would be the comfiest. I was so excited to design it that I almost forgot how much money and work were going to go into it as well.

Let’s back track a little….As we had gone through the purchase process, up until closing; we had been told that we would only have to put a certain amount of money down. What our lender unfortunately didn’t notice right away was that the type of loan we were going to get only allowed for a small percentage “cash back”. This meant that a large portion of our renovation money was now going to the closing. We were disappointed but figured that we could handle it. At this point, we should have budgeted our money once again to figure out how much renovation we could afford. Unfortunately, we did not do this. Instead, we ripped out all of the old carpeting (aka 90% of the condo), ripped out two vanities; and much more. We were so excited to get everything going that we really didn’t stop and think about how much money we were going to need. This was our first home purchase and renovation after all.

Over these past few months, Wayfair, Home Depot, and Sherwin Williams have become our new best friends. I have been taking my time to find the lights that we really like but with an acceptable price, along with furniture and all other decor. We hit a wall about a week or so ago when we stepped back to look at our bank account and got worried. An unexpected $800 car repair had dug into our budget and life just kept coming. I guess we had a bit of a reality check. We certainly do okay financially, but we are not rich. We are able to pay our rent while living at home and pay our mortgage while renovating; but with student loans, groceries, and life; we don’t have as much to spare as we had hoped. After doing some estimations, we realized that we did not have enough money to finish the renovation, not even close! This was both defeating and scary.

image

Credit to Makeameme.org

Here’s what we did. We sat down together and talked about where we went wrong, crunched numbers, drank coffee, and chatted it all out with a good friend of ours. Having friends who inspire and motivate you are truly priceless. Here’s ours, check out our friend Willa’s blog at Themagpiesapprentice . This allowed us to feel motivated again and to get shit done.

We realized that we had a perfectly good line of credit that we had not been using. Although we are not big on credit cards; we have made some exceptions these past few months for a few reasons; but that is something we can get into on another post. Using a credit card was not ideal, but neither was taking out a second small loan, or waiting a year to finish the condo. Both Amanda and I agreed that the couch, beds, and mattresses would be brand new; along with linens etc. This made sense to us as cleanliness is big. For the kitchen table and other seating, we started looking at Craigslist and consignment stores for bigger ticket items. We promised each other that our kitchen table and chairs had to be used as this would save costs and could potentially allow us to get something of a higher quality that we may not normally be able to afford. For example, we were able to afford a brand new vanity with a beautiful marble top. This was found at a consignment store as it was probably a floor model or an item that someone never picked up. Either way, it was a steal for us. Check it out, I love it!  *More pictures to come, including our updated countertop that we did Not pay thousands of dollars for!

image

 

Okay, well the snow has started to fall and I need to clean cabinet hinges, take a shower, and head out to the consignment stores. Check us out on Instagram at #suitcaseandaplaylist; I will be posting my consignment store goodies!  Wish me luck and have a great day!

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

Cheers, A & M

At a stand still…but not for long

It’s time for an update! Here I am at the kitchen table, wearing slippers, thermal underwear, pajama pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a very thick fleece hoodie. This for me is a miserable New England winter. It was only 10 degrees when I drove to work this morning and I am already sick of it. One part of me really feels motivated by this and the other part defeated. I think of these cold days and how I could be rid of them. I just keep thinking to myself, what can I do to get me closer to a warm weather climate?  Here in NH, the days are short of light and cold all day. When I leave for work at 5:30AM, it is cold and dark. I get home from work around 2-3pm and it is dark within an hour. How do I feel motivated to do anything besides curl up in my bed and watch movies? For me, that is the struggle lately. There is so much for me to do that I don’t always know where to begin or what would be the most productive.

We are in a point in our planning that it almost feels like we are at a stand still. We are working full time and working on the condo on the weekends; with help from our wonderful friends and family. As we think of our final goals, it’s hard not to feel like we are making any progress. We need to work full time to pay our bills and have health insurance. This unfortunately leaves us less time to work on our future business and figure things out. We have joined an online community called Location Indie.  This community is full of people who share in similar goals and are supportive of each other. It is our goal to become active members of this and use it to our advantage.

I look at Instagram everyday and I am so jealous of all of the people who are traveling and living a  location independent lifestyles. The pictures of Cappadocia, Turkey are my very favorite! Here is an example of what I see in my feed everyday. Air Ballooning in Cappadocia is on my bucket list!

Hot air balloon flying over Cappadocia Turkey

 

With that in mind; I am working on becoming less jealous, and more inspired. My plan to become more productive and work towards our goals will be about using my time appropriately. My wife is one of the most determined people I know. She constantly has her goals in her head and is doing everything to reach those goals. We have both come to realize that I am just not that way. I don’t get very stressed and I don’t tend to let things bother me. This can be good and bad.  Fortunately, where I lack, I make up for it in household duties. My new plan will involve a bit more of a structured schedule. This will not be the end all, be all, but I think it will help me to focus. I want to work more on this blog, on our condo, and be an active part of the Location Indie Community. Who wants to keep me accountable? I have a certain friend in mind, and if she is reading this, you know who you are!

The positive in all of this is that our mindsets have changed. No matter how busy or even lazy we become; we have not given up. We think about it every day and talk about it almost everyday as well. When I meet new people, I am always excited to tell them about our life goal and where we want to be. Reaching our ultimate dream is truly a journey, and this is just another step. Talk to you soon my friends, keep dreaming!

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

 

Cheers,

A & M

Walking away from all that $$$

I ain’t trading my youth for no suit and jacket
I ain’t giving my freedom for your money and status

-Judah & the Lion (this song came on during one of my I should be happier brain sessions)

This is A of A+M. Mandy does most of the writing because, well, she is just better at it. She has also had more time than me which leads me right into my rant….I mean blog post.

Money does not buy us time and quite frankly, time is all I want. Time with my wife, time with my family, and time to pursue my wildest dreams.

My mom recently made a statement about how we never went without when we were together as a family. We were talking about my father and how hard he has always worked to make sure everyone had everything they needed. For some reason, the conversation stuck with me long after we were done talking. I couldn’t help but feel guilty for all of the stupid shit he spent his money on to make me happy. All that time he spent working and for what? We will never get that time back and when he is gone the only thing I will ever wish I had was more time with him.

What a funny system we have created. We work so hard so that one day we don’t have to work anymore. We somehow decided that 65 and after would be the best years of our life. I mean REALLY? My body at 32 is already falling apart, what the hell am I going to feel like at 65? EVERY year should be the best year of our life. Yes I am sure some will be better than others but what the heck are we waiting for? Why do we marry and then spend more time working? Why do we have children to only spend a couple hours a day with them? Why do we day dream if we never intend on having the time to make anything happen? WHY DO WE KEEP FOLLOWING THE RULES EVEN THOUGH WE ARE MISERABLE?

Okay, so obviously I am not the first person to think of this but it is still important for me to talk about. I believed for a long time that I had to follow the rules that everyone else was abiding by. I had no idea there were actually people (not just the rich) out there that were enjoying life more than they were working.

Now that I know it’s possible, there is no going back.

Walking away from all of that $$$. About $85,000 a year to be exact. I quit my job in Boston and took a job with a much lower salary closer to home. Yea, believe me, its even hard writing that never mind living it. I am still asking myself what the hell I was I thinking but deep down it feels so right. I took a minute (or several hours) and thought about the money and my future and how it was all going to come together. I would continue to climb the ladder and make more money but the list of things I would miss out on went on forever. The misconception to this equation is that money does NOT buy happiness. It buys a bunch of pointless possessions that somehow in the short term make you feel like your happy. I knew life would be good but it didn’t have the chance at being great because I would have the money but not the time.

Money cant buy happiness

Well, I guess what I am saying is that I am sick of tired of being sick of tired and I am going to do something about it. I think you should too.

How do you renovate your new rental property, have a baby, pay off your debt and travel to Europe while taking an enormous pay cut? Haha, I have no idea but stay tuned and watch us give it a shot!

“Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.”
Timothy Ferriss, 4-Hour Workweek
All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

A+M

 

To Paris and Beyond

After a few lazy days, I am happy to say that I just did a mini workout in my living room and I am feeling great. I did squats, jumping jacks, abs, and danced around while my younger brother just stared at me. All of this was accompanied by many Pitch Perfect 3 sound track tunes, and it was amazing! Too often I forget how easily even a small workout can give you energy. I was exhausted and now I am ramped up and excited to write this post.
Anyways, I wanted to give you all an update. We are still so excited about buying our condo last week! We will be able to get into the condo as of Nov 11 and then the renovation can begin. I have been Pinteresting like crazy ( can I use that as a verb?) and I can’t wait to show you all of our ideas. We will have a lot to do in a short time; but I am feeling good about it.
Just to sum things up; because we clearly didn’t feel like we had enough going on; my wife is in the process of changing jobs ( yes, Again…she will get to that later), we bought a condo, we did an IUI procedure this past week, and WE JUST BOOKED A TRIP TO PARIS AND LONDON! Ahhhh! I am so excited!

1933771_504437356657_9062_n

*I took this picture when I went to Paris for a weekend while studying abroad in Florence. I am so excited to experience this beauty with my favorite person. 
I know that this may sound like a lot since we will soon have to pay for a condo. However; travel is what we love and being able to travel often/ live abroad is our goal . This means that we need to take the time when we can and enjoy what life has to offer.
To fund this trip we used our Chase Sapphire travel credit card and our goal is to have this portion paid off before we go on the trip. To save money and experience each city a bit more like a local, we booked our accommodations at two Air BnB’s. We will be staying in what seems to be a quaint neighborhood of Paris and a town in England called Camden Town. Camden Town is known for its open air markets and eclectic style.

camden-town-1716278_1280

 Photo credit of: natasssssa, follow her at Pixabay for more amazing photos!

As time gets closer we will book more specifics and we will keep you updated on all of the juicy details. Until then, I will be dreaming of exploration, hoping for pregnancy, and working on exercising regularly. Please tell us all of your must sees for Paris and London, we would love any recommendations.

ps: This is the first long trip that we are going to attempt to only use a carry on. Wish us luck!

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

Cheers,

A&M