Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Life: Stuff Boxes

Picture this…

It's a beautiful day! You woke up early with energy to spare, you had a delicious breakfast, the kitchen is clean, the floors don't have any dog fur or dust bunnies plaguing you when the sun shines on it, you even found time to get in a work out or read some of your book.
You head out (with/without the kids) for the day and when you come home… all you can see are things. Bits. STUFF.


Toys, jewellery, change, junk mail, a shoe you had to rescue from the dog before she chewed it… But your house is spotless! You cry… and it is! Except for the clutter.

I can't be alone in this right? And I don't even have kids yet!

SO here's my solution: STUFF BOXES

1. Find/buy some nice baskets that fit your decor. It's worth shelling out on better quality ones with good handles that won't break. The last thing you want when you're de-cluttering for the day is a handle to break!

I found these from Walmart:

I have one downstairs and one upstairs. As I go about my day I put all the random "stuff" into the basket and when it's full I put it all away. Generally the things in the downstairs basket need to go upstairs and vice versa.

2. Next get yourself a nice box for your kitchen. If your house is anything like mine your kitchen will be a hotbed for clutter. Get yourself a nice box with a lid to stash away those bits that don't quite have a home: matches, scentsy bars, coupons, etc). When it's full you can sort through it and put it away or you can just leave it as a general hold all for random bits that are useful but don't have a home.

Here's mine:

3. Grab a couple of bins (I found these from the Dollarama for $3 each) and allocate one for each person in your house. Anything that belongs to that person goes into their bin - it's their responsibility to put them away.

In my case I don't always know where Mike wants certain things so if I know it's his but I don't want to lose it, I put it in his bin. Make sure each person knows to clear their bin (daily/weekly/every other day - depends how much stuff ends up in it!) so it doesn't sit there overflowing with STUFF.

That's it! Do you have STUFF boxes? If not give them a try! They're great for a quick clean up when company comes over and only give you 15 minutes notice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


As of this moment we've blown past 500 Blog Views in just 3 short weeks!

Thank you so much for taking a few minutes to check the blog out. 

Mike and I at the Game of Thrones Exhibit at the PNE in Vancouver

I've got some fantastic posts coming up: More Real Life Wives! More DIYs! More Love advice!

AND I'm going to do a special post from the Camp Guy's point of view too!

Remember I'm always looking for new Real Life Wives to share their stories and if you have any tips to share make sure to get in touch.

You guys rock!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Real Life Wife: Amanda

This week's Real Life Wife is another amazing Mum: Amanda from Vancouver Island BC!

The Basics:

I am a 28 year old mother of two amazing children. My daughter is 4 and my son is 8 months old. My husband and I have been together for 10 years and married for 5. My husband has been in the camp life for the last 3 years and is currently working as a pipe fitter in Alberta.

1. Why did you and your Camp Guy decide to live the Camp Life?

We made the decision to live the camp worker life after my husband was laid off from his job as a mechanic. We had a one year old at the time and had to make some big decisions quick.

2. What's the biggest sacrifice you make because of Camp?

The biggest sacrifice we have made is missing out on so much valuable family time. My husband seems to miss every dance recital, holiday, family gathers and milestones our children surpass.

3. Days on shift can be busy and lonely…what's the silver lining for you?

The silver lining of living the camp life is knowing my children will never go without. There will be food in the fridge and a roof over their heads. Living the camp life will also allow us to take family vacations and save up for things like college.

4. What's your favourite thing to do on days off?

On days off we enjoy spending time as a family. We have days at the park, trips to the beach and take nice walks. We try to go on one date night per set of days off but I must confess it's been a while since we've had the opportunity.

Amanda & Stuart's Children Noah and Brea

5. If you could give one tip to other Campers what would it be?

Some advice I would give to other camp wives is to get into a routine as soon as possible. Especially if you have children. There will be rough days but they will pass so take it one day at a time. And last but not least, don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Fabulous post from Amanda - thank you so much for sharing!

Want to share your story on the blog? Message me!

Love: Family Date Night

As you may have guessed Mike and I are big movie fans and we just love the idea of old school outside movies!

SO we're putting one on for our friends and family!

Now we're doing ours as our Engagement party BUT you don't need a big excuse to host a family movie night in your neighbourhood!

Here's how we're doing ours:

1. Timing
You'll want at least a month to get this together - especially if you don't already own a dvd projector!
Also be aware of weather trends in your area… we live in rainy British Columbia. So we're having ours very early September where it's still dry but not too hot to have fun out doors.

2. Food
Keep the nibbles simple… a popcorn bar is fun and cheap and you can provide your favourite candy in mini sizes to keep things fun.

If you're going for a bigger affair (like our engagement party is!) you could also provide a BBQ… we're providing sides and have asked our guests to bring their own meat so we can BBQ it for them.

3. Drinks
Water bottles, old school soda bottles and a fruity punch in a fancy glass dispenser are all you'll need. If guests require alcohol you can always ask them to bring their own or spike the punch but this is a family affair.

4. Invitations
I'm old school… I like paper invitations to pin to my fridge! Here are the ones I made using the template from Fig + Cotton to go with our wedding theme but you can use any card stock you like.
We did also create a Facebook event for the difficult people who take too long to provide mailing addresses!

5. Decor
Dig out the Xmas lights! We're stringing them up throughout the yard so people can find their seats and using balloons in our colours to keep things simple but festive.

6. The Big Screen
I've seen many different options on Pinterest… drop cloths, sheets, duck cloth… here's a great tutorial which we'll be using to make ours: Diy Outdoor Movie Screen

7. The Movie!
Obviously you want to pick a child friendly movie that the parents will also enjoy… we're going with Up because… well Up is awesome and everyone loves it.
Ask around and see who you know that has a DVD projector… local schools, theatre companies, rental places or even a high tech buddy.
Make sure you have sound! We have wireless speakers that we'll be using for ours but if you don't have something similar that you can hook up to your laptop chat with whoever you're borrowing the projector from. Chances are they'll know exactly how to sort out sound too.

This is the most important tip of all: make sure your neighbours are on board with you putting on a movie in your back yard! Invite them along or at least let them know what's going on so you don't get a visit from the police… at least one person on your block will feel put out by the "noise" so nip this in the bud before it becomes a problem.

I'll post a follow up after the event with pics and an update!

What's your favourite family date night?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Life: Prepping for Days Off

The countdown is over! Camp Guy is coming home today!!

Everyone's 1st Day Off shift is different but here are my tips to make sure it goes smoothly:

1. Take an hour to do a thorough clean up! 

The last thing your man wants to come home to is dishes in the sink and things out of order. Stick on your favourite tunes and put things back into order!

2. Prep some delicious dinner. 

The easy way to do this? Crock pot meals. If you don't have one… go get one! You can throw something in before you get ready to go pick him up from the Airport and voila, delicious hot meal waiting for him when you get home. He may say he'll eat at the airport… but if your Camp Guy is anything like mine then that greasy airport burger he ate 3 hours ago just didn't do the job and there's nothing like home cooking.

3. Take the kids (if you have them)!

Depending on flight times, get the kids involved! Focus on the happiness of welcoming him home rather than sending him off and it'll keep their spirits up.

4. Dress up a little. 

Even if it's something as small as doing your make up when you usually don't… dressing up a little to pick him up gives him a little boost and gives you a chance to get your glam on.

5. Let him sleep in the next day! 

Life in camp is pretty tough and many guys survive on very little sleep (5 hours is all mine gets!)… the first morning back those guys deserve a lie in. You don't have to wait on him hand and foot or bring him breakfast in bed… but you should probably let him sleep.

Got more home day tips? Share below!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Love: Road Trip Date Night

I'm not sure what this says about Mike and I but we're all about cheap dates.

Recently Mike got his motorbike licence and I'm not going to lie… it's pretty fun sitting on the back and zooming off somewhere at a moments notice!

You don't need a fancy motorbike or quad to make this Date work though so grab your vehicle and take off somewhere! Here are some of my favourite locations to take off to and what you can do when you get there…

Road Trips to other Towns:

The Beach!

Daytime, night time… the beach is always a fun trip. Grab some fish 'n' chips and take a lovely romantic seaside stroll.

A New Restaurant!

Try something new and adventurous… culinary wise. Is there a new place you haven't tried? Perhaps a new cuisine you've never tasted? If you're a real foodie try asking your friends on Facebook for their favourite and hit up the first place they suggest that you haven't tried.

Be a Tourist!

What's the perfect Tourist attraction in the town an hour or so over? There's a great Mini Golf place about an hour away for us that's perfect for a road trip or when we feel adventurous there's zip lining too!

Road Trips to Isolated Places:

Plan your Dream Vacation!

Mike and I did this and it was great fun! We took some printables from the Date Night Divas and some travel magazines and figured out our itinerary for our trip to the UK. It also helped get us pumped for the trip which was pretty fun.

Write your Bucket List!

What would you LOVE to do in your lifetime together? Day dream and stick it on the list!

Star Gaze!

Grab a blanket and something warm and delicious to sip on and see what you can see in the night sky! There are some fabulous apps out there that show you all the constellations and what could be more romantic than looking at the stars (and figuring out which ones are actually satellites!)?

Where will you go on your road trip?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Life: Fitting work into the Camp Wife Life

For those of us without kids the decision about whether to continue working whilst our Camp Guys are away is usually a no brainer - even with a generally great pay check everyone needs a plan B (injuries and job losses happen!) and what else would we do with our time when he's on shift?!

But for Camper Mums it's a difficult decision: the idea of fitting work into your life when you're effectively a single mum for weeks and sometimes months at a time can just seem crazy… but then again every Mum needs a break and when the kids are older and in school full time it's natural to want to return to the workforce.

So if you're looking for a job with some flexibility here are your options:

1. Part time job
There are some local part time jobs that will fit around your kids' schedule and allows you to work flexible hours.

Tip! Try to find a local business with family owners who will be sympathetic to your needs and be up front with them when you start.

2. Day care or tutoring at home
If you have a talent at particular school subjects this is a good option… make sure you get properly certified and use your network to build your clientele. Local schools, after school clubs, mum meet ups are all good places to let people know you've got spots available. With good word of mouth you won't need to spend good money on advertising.

Tip! Be wary of this one… make sure once you've set your hours and pricing that you stick to it. Many people will try to ask for a favour or for you to lower your prices because "you're friends" but this is a business like any other. People should want to use you because you're good at what you do and they want to support you, not because they think they can swing a deal.

3. Home Craft Business.
If you're crafty, good at baking or have a specific skill set this can be a great option for you and farmers markets or Etsy are a great places to sell your wares. Always be aware of the laws in regards to food prep and try to find a niche so your goods will stand out from the crowd.

Tip! Keep an eye on the blog for a more detailed post on starting your own small business at home and branding to make it stand out.

4. Direct Sales
This is the route I chose (along side my full time job of teaching dance) for 4 very good simple reasons:
a. It takes up 1-2 hours a day
b. It has minimal start up costs
c. It has the potential to bring in a significant income
d. It gives me a good excuse to get out of the house and meet new people when Mike is away.

Tip! Choose your Direct Sales company wisely! There are red flags you should be aware of and not all companies are created equal! Check out my detailed post coming soon about what to look for.

What are your part time job tips? Comment below!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Life: Too busy to eat properly!

Does anyone else feel this way?

As a dance teacher my work puts me in a funky schedule… work early mornings, big break, back at it in the afternoon/evening, home by 9pm

Not going to lie when it's just me and the puppy I rarely cook for myself especially that late at night!

SO here are some of my top tips for eating well… when your man is away.

1. Cook a big roast dinner one night a week and use up the left overs.

This is a great idea from my student days: a big beef roast will keep me going for 4 days after the first meal and can be used in stir fries, stews, tacos, sandwiches…

2. Prep your meals! 

This is one my health nut friend shared with me… one night a week (perhaps the night you cook the roast? I'm not a big chef so I avoid it lol) prep all your lunches and snacks for the week.
Things like: cut veggies, sandwiches, pasta/potato salads, energy balls…

3. Use your blender!

I love protein shakes. I never saw the point before I tried them and now they're a daily part of my diet. I use Arbonne Nutrition because it's the best I've tried and doesn't have that weird protein taste that a lot of them have.

Here's my favourite recipe:

2 scoops Arbonne Vanilla Protein Powder
1 scoop Arbonne Fibre Boost
1 packet Arbonne Antioxidant & Immunity booster
1 cup coconut water/water
handful frozen mixed berries
1 heaped tablespoon yoghurt
1 teaspoon chia seeds

With a family it's a different story… 

1. Utilise freezer meals!

Once a  month dedicate a day to shopping and preparing freezer meals. Things like Lasagne, chicken parmesan, pasta sauce… all of these can be easily prepared and frozen so even on your busiest days you can still get a good healthy meal into those kiddos. 
Here are some of my favourite Pinterest Links:
10 easy freezer meals
Healthy Freezer meals
1 month of Freezer meals in 1 afternoon

2. Prep your snacks!

I found this incredible post over at Echoes of Laughter… Healthy Fast Food

3. Kids love smoothies!

Get your kids in on the smoothie action… the Arbonne protein shakes are safe for kids as young as 2 years and they love them! Kids love helping in the kitchen and throwing handfuls of messy berries and spoonfuls of yoghurt into a blender is just up their alley (with adult supervision obviously!).

Got any other healthy meal tips with/without a family? Please share in the comments!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Real Life Wife: Megan

This week's Real Life Wife is Megan from Vancouver Island, BC!

The Basics:

Megan is a 26 year old stay at home mum and entrepreneur. Her Camp Guy is Jonathan: 

"We actually went to school together since grade 7, but never really paid much attention. It wasn't until after graduation where I became his "quadding partner" so he didn't have to 3rd wheel hahaha. We started doing this every weekend for a couple months. The as cheesey as it sounds I emailed him & confessed my "love". He ignored me and got creeped out like most guys would. But needless to say quadding adventures still happened, MSN chats were more frequent and we started to really click. Fastforward. We ended up dating in 2008 and in 2009 in December he asked me a life changing question "will you marry me?" Of course I said yes. Jan 2010 found out we were pregnant with out daughter. July 2010 we got married. Sept 2010 my daughter was born. Jan 2011 found out we were pregnant with our son. Sept 2011 our son was born. We now had Irish twins. He worked a fairly decent job but not amazing. We were getting a head as much as we'd like soooo in 2014 I joined the "camp wife life" club. My husband is a 2nd year carpentry apprentice in Kitimat BC. His shift is 21 & 7. So in non-camp terms...he's away from me, his babies, him home, his comfort for 21 day and with us for 7 but actually like 5.5 days cause of travel."

Why did you and your Camp Guy decide to live the Camp Life?

Growing up in a small town doesn't exactly leave you with many options for employment. Especially because the baby boomers are still around and holding most of the posititions. He was working a okay full time job, we were making ends meet, but living paycheck to 10 day before paycheck. We wanted to be able to give our kids everything. Allow them a future with an education, be able to to on trips, dance & play soccer. That was important to me as I grew up not being able to do any of that.

What's the biggest sacrifice you make because of Camp?

The hardest sacrifice I think would have to be having him miss out on so much. Growing up I never had my dad around. I didn't want my kids to have that issue ever. Although its a completely different situation it breaks my heart to hear "mommy send daddy a picture of me", "mommy how many sleeps till daddy is home" "mommy, daddy is nicer" hahahhahah. Although I know he's doing it FOR us...its hard to not have him here and to miss big steps & stages!

Days on shift can be busy and lonely…what's the silver lining for you?

IT ENDS! There is always an end and its not forever. That he's doing it for us, to give us the life we want. As well as seeing my babies faces when they see him walk through those doors off the plane.

What's your favourite thing to do on days off?

Adventures! Camping, driving, beaches, parks, lake... anything! We spend most of our time as a family. But in each set of days off we take 1 night to spend together without our kids. Its important to keep your relationship & the romance alive!

If you could give one tip to other Campers what would it be?

ROUTINE! Get into a routine and stick to it. But remember when he gets home that its all going to be out the window haha! Everything will be crazy for the week or two and then back to routine once he's gone. Soak him up while he's home, don't worry about the mess, your appountments, Facebook or anything. Soak him up give him your 100% because remember HE is the one that has to leave. Its a lot harder for him than you if you really look at it. Keep positive. Know its okay to have bad days & make sure you take some time for YOU.

Great post from Megan. Thank you so much!

Remember if you'd like to be my next Real Life Wife send me an Email --->
Or contact me via Facebook!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Love: Movie Date Night

After many failed attempts at relationships (and from watching other peoples' failed attempts) I'm happy to say I've figured out at least one of the rules to keeping things solid: never stop trying to win your partner's heart!

I'm sure you've all heard of how important a regular Date Night is… but it's even more important when we don't see them frequently!

SO here's one Mike and I did a few weeks ago that proved popular (and cheap!)… 

1. Clean out your truck (or borrow a friend's) and get it ready: we used a blow up air mattress, blankets, pillows and I'd strongly advise a bug net if you're doing this near water.

2. Charge up your laptop and pick a movie! You don't want to get all snuggled up only to realize there's only 8% battery left.

3. Pop some popcorn and grab some drinks. We stopped at Tim Hortons on the way but if you're not Canadian you'll have to settle for your local drive through coffee shop or bring your own ;)

4. Find a nice quiet place far away from houses or camp grounds. We found a side road by a river that was beautiful and serene… and full of mosquitoes (hence my bug net recommendation).

5. Set up the pillows and blankets, get yourselves settled in and press play!

We chose Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as we'd been watching the trilogy over the weekend. We also had to cut it short and finish the movie at home because we did not have a bug net and after 45 minutes we couldn't bear being eaten alive any longer!

Date nights don't have to be perfect, it's all about spending time together and getting a good story.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Whether it's your first time or the 50th, dropping your camp guy off at the airport is never fun.

Here are my top tips on how to cope when it's time to put him on the plane.

1. Stay positive! Keep in a good mood - even if your man isn't. He needs you to stay together at least until he's already on the plane.

2. Remind him that it's not permanent. How many "sleeps"until you see each other again? Counting down doesn't feel so far away.

3. Stay in touch! Text when he goes through the gate, send him a funny picture for him to see when he lands, use skype/facetime when he's settled in his room.

4. If/when you need to complain - complain to anyone but your guy! It's hard enough for him to be away from you without knowing you're not  keen on it.

5. BUT let him know how much you miss him. A quick "I miss you" before lunch will brighten his day without making him feel guilty for being away.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Organise: Family Command Centre

I've got a confession: I'm a Pinterest nut! (aren't we all?)

During my many Pinterest surfing sessions I kept coming across these super organized awesome looking "Family Command Centres". I didn't pay much attention to them because it's just the two of us… but then I had a thought.

The more organized we are the more we can enjoy our days off!

SO I created our own Family Command Centre.

1. Decide what you need in your command centre/binder!

There are so many great free printables out there - ready made binders, tons and tons of tracker sheets… but I knew I wouldn't use half of them.

Eventually I made a list of what I'd use daily (To do list, weekly planner, inventories) to go up on my wall and what I'd use weekly/monthly which would go in my binder. 

I chose to use printables from:

2. I found a Binder and sheet protectors I wasn't using and repurposed them. I wanted to make sure things made sense so I put them in order:

* "where is it?" list - because my OFM can never find anything! Also in case house sitters need to find something
* House sitter/Pet sitter notes
* Emergency contacts and quick First Aid notes in case of emergency (I also have an emergency binder in my office but I'll talk about that later)
* Work Info & Important Contacts - schedules for both of us, work contacts, etc
* House Projects - home & auto maintenance check lists, cleaning check lists, on going to do list.
* Finances - budget at a glance, cash envelope in/out, important account info (so we'll have our utilities account info on hand if either of us phone)
* Calendar - birthday list, monthly calendars with bills due, trips, etc.

3. Then I put the Daily printables up in nice frames I picked up at Walmart for $3 each:

4. Luckily our house came with this fancy little shelf where my mail organizer and cash envelopes holder can sit quite happily… You could put up a little floating shelf here if you wish.

Eventually my OFM got around to putting the frames up and here's the finished result!

Total Cost: $15 for frames, the Binder and inserts I had lying around already.