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Friday, November 28

The Newlywed’s Guide To Budgeting

By Lexi DeRock

My response to whoever said “Money can’t buy happiness” has always been that they just don’t know where to shop.  Of course, I say that jokingly as I know that money doesn’t always solve peoples problems.  That being said, money is often the source of a great many problems!  

I’ve not always been so good with saving money in the past, and I’ve run up my fair share of credit cards, but I learned from those mistakes and I’ve always been an independent person who managed to pay my bills and not get myself too much in the way of debt.  In fact in the past few years of running my own hair, makeup and photography business I’ve actually managed to do fairly well and see my piggy bank grow!

 

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However, this last year of my life has seen a great many changes, most of which have been fantastic but some have been definitely challenging.

This year I got married to a fantastic fella and moved halfway across the globe and found myself in a completely new world of challenges and thrills!  

I left Paris, France (and the business I built for myself there) to move to Melbourne, Australia and the life I hope to build here. Overall I could not be happier with how my newest chapter is going.  We found a lovely little house to rent with a massive back yard for Satchmo, the furriest member of our little family.  Married life agrees with us both and we want the same things for our future.  Only one little four letter word is impeding our blissful happiness…BUDGET.  

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I know that budget is a 6 letter word, but for all the negativity and taboo surrounding the topic of money it may as well be as bad as a swear word in church.  For the first time in my life I’ve found my finances entwined with those of another, and that lumped together with some of the challenges of immigration and a desire to spend more time together have created a necessity for a meeting of the minds and pocketbooks.

As I said before, I left the business I built when I moved countries and that was something I knew would be very difficult to let go. However I also see it as a wonderful opportunity to change, refine and recalibrate my business to suit the next stages.  Unfortunately the re-building process was forced to be placed on hold as it took several months for me to gain the right to work upon my arrival. Therefore my husband was put in the stressful position of having to be the soul breadwinner and I had the uncomfortable task of feeling generally useless and unhappy in not being able to contribute financially and becoming dependent on someone else for my money.  This is something I came to find out, does not sit well with me.

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In the 9 months or so that we’ve been married my husband, an accountant by trade (yes, I see the irony) decided to undertake a law degree, (which I fully support) and I decided to study to become a doula (birth assistant for those that don’t know).  Both of these things are definitely the best decision for us in the long term but in the short term it puts a strain on our bank account and the amount of time we have for one another

A few months ago my husband was in a well-paying but stressful job, requiring him to work very long hours which, in combination with school, didn’t leave much time for family, friends and fun. So we decided the best thing would be for him to resign and look for something that would allow him that work life balance we both want, even if that means taking a pay cut to get it. Again, this is a choice we know is best for us but during the time it takes until he finds a job it puts me in the breadwinner hot seat and makes budgeting carefully a necessity.

After lots of thumbing round the internet, articles and books we’ve drawn up a strict budget to get us out of our debt, through this economic dryspell and into the home and life we see for ourselves.So stay tuned for the next post where I start to share with you the budgeting tools we are implementing, the tricks and tips we find for saving money and to hear the rantings of a newlywed American living in the upside down part of the world!

Thursday, November 27

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving dolls! 

Wednesday, November 26

Simplified Table Linen Storage

By Victoria Osborn

It thrills me that in recent years the trend of cloth napkins and other table linens have been making a comeback. Some might point to the “green” movement of recent years of not wanting to produce a lot of waste with disposable goods, but I like to think it’s because women are beginning to come to back to a place of embracing homemaking of the past. Cloth napkins, tablecloths, and placemats are making their way back onto dining room tables across the country. They add a touch of class and elegance that has long been forgotten being replaced by paper towels and napkins. An everyday, ordinary night’s dinner can be taken up a notch with the simple touch of a cloth napkin.

Not only do they add a bit of glamour to the dinner table but in retrospect, they are also much more frugal in the long run to invest in some simple classic table linens that last for years, then to be constantly purchasing packets of paper napkins every time you go to the grocery store.

I was a child of the 80’s so I grew up on paper products due to the convenience they provided to the working mom but I always loved simple dinners at my grandmother’s house. She would cover an old folding card table with a simple, white linen table cloth (that I have since inherited) and at each place setting was a cloth napkin. I loved the way she was able to dress up an otherwise ugly table. I made the decision at an early age that when I would keep a home, I wanted table linens as well to use every day. And to my luck, the return of the cloth napkin and table clothes have since returned in popularity.

The stocking of table linens in my home creates the need to store them in a way that makes sense. Some are everyday napkins and tablecloths, while others only get pulled out for seasonal or special dinners. Organizing and properly storing your table linens will help to not only keep them lasting for years to come, but will also maximize your storage space which is incredibly useful if you don’t have very much storage to begin with.

Tablecloths

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I love a simple and elegant tablecloth. Not only do they protect the table but they also dress the table up with a bit of flair. In my family, we eat at our dining room table for every meal and since we have little ones who are messy eaters, I knew I would need to invest in a stain proof tablecloth that would also protect the table. Since it is used every day, once it is washed it is placed back on the table. For simplicity purposes I only keep one on hand, but I do have a small collection of seasonal tablecloths that I keep neatly folded in the linen closet. The best way to care for nicer or seasonal table cloths is to learn to fold them correctly. After each holiday or dinner party, I promptly stain treat, wash, fold and put away the table cloths so they don’t get ruined.

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Placemats

I currently only have one set of fancy dinner placemats and two personalized vinyl placemats that my children use for every meal to help protect the table cloth. Placemats require a bit more special care since they are usually large and rectangular or circular in shape. They are usually best not to be folded but rather stacked to prevent wrinkles.

I keep my one set of fancy placemats on display as decoration in my dining room alongside my white dishes. They fit perfectly on the open shelf but you can also easily store them in a china cabinet drawer or on the same shelf in the linen closet as your table cloths. For my children’s vinyl easy to clean placemats, I attached a magnet to the back so my kids can easily retrieve and attach them to the refrigerator after meals.

Pro Tip: Attach magnets to the back of your kid’s placemats and have them store it on the fridge! Gives your toddler a way to help set and clear the table!

Cloth Napkins

My favorite table linen is the classic cloth napkin. Since we use cloth napkins for every meal, I have a small stash of everyday napkins that are multi-colored. They are easy to wash and don’t stain, plus they were pretty inexpensive to purchase. I keep them stored in the same drawer in my kitchen where I keep my hand towels and dishrags. To maximize space, I fold them in half first, then in fourths. This allows them to stack nicely and look pretty when placed on the dinner table.

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I have two sets of fancier napkins, a crisp white set that I keep stored in the linen closet folded in a small basket, and a set that matches my placemats that I keep on display in the dining room. One of my favorite storage solutions is to actually display favorite pieces instead of hiding them in closets or drawers. If you already have a nice set of napkins or placemats why not display them on the table or in a china case to enjoy and add to your decor?

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Tablecloths, placemats and napkins are probably the main kitchen linen items you have stored but there might be a few other accessories you have on hand, including table runners and napkin rings. I keep my napkin rings attached to my nicer napkins so that way they are ready to be put on the table when needed, but I only keep on set of napkin holders that can be used for different napkins.

As you are sorting through and organizing your linens to maximize space, take the time to also evaluate if you need all the items you have stored. Some are family heirlooms that have been passed down through the generations. Those are special linens that I cherish and have no desire to every get rid of until I can pass them on to my daughter. However there may be some seasonal tablecloths or placemats that the time has come to retire and discard. For example, when I sorted through my small collection of tablecloths I discovered that I had two fall themed ones. I certainly don’t need two, so I kept one and gave away the other.

Organizing, properly caring for, and storing your table linens can help them last. Correctly folded tablecloth and napkins can help you maximize your limited storage space. When cared for, your table linens can easily be transferred from the linen closet and placed on the table with little to no fuss. It may take a little effort to organize and store your table linens but it is well worth the investment to spend a few extra minutes to maintain your cloth napkins, tablecloths and placemats.

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