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Hello Frugal February

I love the art of shopping: Discovering neat and different objects. Hunting for the best prices. Using coupons or big sales to get exactly what I want. I love bringing home new stuff.

And the internet is my frenemy in this shopping fad. If Leah needs new snow boots, I can be picky and visit all my favorite "boot" sites, to find the best quality at the lowest price -- all on my lunch break.

So -- for the past several years, as a reaction the major spending/shopping extravaganza that is Christmas and early January after-Christmas sales (love em), I've made a practice of cutting down personal spending in February (or sometimes March) to just the essentials.

Essentials = food, kids activities and needs. And the "big NO" to clothes shopping for me, hunting new house decor, or books, etc. I usually have a surplus of new stuff I haven't even worn/read/framed from the holidays, anyway.

The most important step to this shopping diet is to unsubscribe to all those crazy promotional emails I get hourly. I love them pre-Christmas for the good deals, but not these months when I'm tightening my pursestrings. So, I'll completely cut them off, or change my contact preferences to less-frequent delivery, such as monthly.

I also start a little list of things I want to buy later. If I still want/neeeed it in a month, I know it wasn't just a passing fancy.

Not only does my little spending siesta help me catch up with the financial hole I made over the holidays, it forces me to focus on other things. Like TRAVEL! Using/Donating the clutter I already have. Playing with the kids. You get the idea.


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Reusable Cotton Rounds

Maybe one of the things I'm digging so much about this plastic-free venture is getting to be a little creative and crafty. It's a fun challenge to figure out the better choices and make them.

When looking through the bathroom for easy swaps, I zeroed in on those little cotton pads I use to remove mascara and swipe on face toner.  Harvesting cotton, pressing it into little disks only for me to use it once and throw it away!? Plus, I'm spending 5€ for a plastic bag of them every few months? I can do better.

A little Pinteresting found a quick step-by-step to make these reusable pads. You can find better direction here, but basically I....

1 - traced circles in color flannel fabric using a water glass.
2 - Pinned three pieces together.
3 - Used a tight zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine to close up the edges.
4 - Last, I trimmed around the edges and repurposed a pickle jar to store them. 

Nothing to it.

I wash them with the kitchen rags on a hot water setting. And I've i…

Three New Plastic-Free Swaps

This week I've been thinking about the plastic-free swaps that are slowly getting added to our home. One thing I read a lot is the misconception that you need to "buy all this new stuff" to go plastic-free. And that's kinda silly. I mean, the idea of buying a lot to become sustainable is a littlecontradictory, right?

Chances are, you have a reusable water bottle and shopping bag rattling around the house, or you can probably ask a family member for one. And you've already created a pretty good swap.

While I DO like shopping, I'm a touch frugal. So, I'm swapping out plastic items that are ready for replacement with more renewable sources as they need to be replaced. Here are the latest three.

First up, replacing our plastic toothbrushes for bamboo. 
While usually I buy Preserve toothbrushes, made of 100% recycled plastic, mostly yogurt cups, I wanted to switch to a sustainable material. Bamboo! This Bam and Boo company offers a 3-month subscription and, mos…

My Tips for Visiting Paris

One of the absolute joys of being an expat living in Paris is that I can be a tourist without the jet lag and limited luggage space for new shoes. It's such a privilege! Having traveled to Paris several times, with and without kids, I have a few tips I can share to make your trip here enjoyable.

Wear good walking shoes. Paris is one of the most walkable cities. You can start at the Notre Dame, walk to the Louvre along the river, and up the Champs-Elyse in one day. Or over to the Palais Garnier. And just strolling through neighborhoods, picking up snacks, desserts, etc., is the reason to come here. It's beautiful. But it can also be hell if your shoes are too tight. I love my grey Nike sneakers or a pair of trusty Birkenstock sandals for when the weather is nice.

To blend in with the local gals, you'll want to pack a scarf. Or two. I love a scarf and always travel with one, because it's a blanket/pillow on a plane, and an extra layer while walking around -- adding just …