Author Archives: Ashlea Marshall

About Ashlea Marshall

I completed my Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2012. My husband and I tied the knot in June of 2011. Our marriage has been one great adventure so far. Hubby and I have a book flipping business we work on together. We also have two young boys.

My Old Blog

This will probably come to a surprise to some people, but I have another blog. I actually started that blog before this one. I wanted to put some of my thought out there for the world, so I started a blog. It eventually became mostly about a crafts, so I started this blog. My focus seems to have shifted back to content appropriate to that blog, so I plan on switching back to it for a while. I reblogged some of my posts over there. If any of you want to stay updated with content more in line with my recent posts (minimalism and simple living), please subscribe to my other blog. I hope to still post my craft projects on this blog.

Thanks for reading!

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The Core of Minimalism

Every time I move, which comes around more frequently than I like, I get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have. Subconsciously, I think I blame my husband. “He has so much stuff!” “Why doesn’t he go through his stuff?” and so on. However, I can’t force him down the path about minimalism. Honestly, he doesn’t really have that much stuff. I just like to think he does because most of it sits in the same boxes and totes from one move to the next. I reach a point where I just don’t want to go through any more of my stuff and start to concentrate on other things in our home, namely: his stuff.

I will admit, my husband does desire a simple, minimalist life. He just goes about it at his own pace and in his own unique way. When we do move, I will ask him to go through a box or two at a time, and he does it in a good-natured way. He doesn’t want to get rid of much because as we move, our needs change. I think he wants to wait on purging a lot of his electronic stuff until we move into our first house.

Since I do the organizing and the decorating in our home, I tend to want to display and use my things while some of my husband’s awesome things stay packed away in boxes.For example, my husband is a talented musician. Yet, his instruments usually end up shoved in a spare closet somewhere (although, this has become somewhat of a necessity since our son now gets into everything). This means my husband spends much less of his spare time playing his instruments, even though I want him to play music for our son.

Part of minimalism is to get rid of the things I don’t need so I can make room for the things my family uses. This means limiting the books I buy to ones I intend to read multiple times throughout my life and checking out books I only intend to read once or twice from the library. Minimalism to me also means limiting the number of knick knacks I have so I have room to display my husband’s records and the games we play with friends. It also means limiting the toys I buy for my son so he doesn’t become overwhelmed by his choices and refuse to play at all. Overall, minimalism to me means limiting the stuff I buy so we have room and money to create experiences with our family and friends.

What does minimalism mean to you?

Categories: Ponderings, Simple Living | Tags: , | 3 Comments

Simple Living: We Moved!

My little family lived in our tiny apartment for 13 months. While we had many great experiences in and enjoyed our little apartment, we felt the need to move into a place where our son could have his own room. My husband and I needed to have our own child-free space where we could spend some time together. We also missed inviting lots of friends over. It our little space, it quickly felt cramped if we invited more than two friends over. When our little one started crawling and pulling up, we didn’t have a place to play board games anymore.

Earlier this month, we switched apartments with our neighbors and now live in a spacious two bedroom apartment. I think we have more breathing room. With the larger space, we have to be more conscious about purchasing stuff to fill the extra space. I purged some things before we moved, including some mementos I didn’t really need. The past couple of weeks, I have started reading more about minimalism to help keep me focused on the lifestyle I want. I continue to go through my stuff and my son’s stuff as he grows out of it. It feels freeing to have all of my scrapbooking stuff in one drawer, my sewing stuff on one shelf, my childhood mementos in one tote, etc.

Some blogs and vlogs I enjoy recently include:

Thanks for reading!

P.S. Happy World Turtle Day!

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Categories: Ponderings, Simple Living | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Six-ish Months of Parenthood

P1060211I have survived the first six months and then some of parenthood. I have lost more sleep than I ever imagined, changed thousands of diapers, and done so much laundry. However, I wouldn’t give up my time with my boy for anything in this world.

My hubby and I have been pleasantly surprised with how well our little apartment has worked for us these past months. We may feel a little more closed in when our son starts crawling everywhere and getting into everything. For now, we enjoy living close to our church and his work. I hope to share some posts soon of projects I have made these past few months.

Enjoy your February!

 

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How We Saved Money On Baby

P1060122Well, my husband and I have survived the first three months of parenthood. We have made it through sleepless nights, hundreds (if not thousands!) of diaper changes, and the challenges the first few months of parenting brings. I have to say, this journey became easier when my son learned to smile. It reassures me when I feel like I do everything wrong and gives me strength to keep going through the haze of sleep deprivation.

Now I have said all of that, I want to use this post to share with others how we have managed to save money with this baby. I realize some of these tips won’t work for everyone, but I hope my readers can glean some useful information from my ramblings. Without further ado, enjoy my list!

1. Start early! Even before my husband and I tried to conceive, we started buying things here and there for our future family, such as extra shelving, children’s books, and our rocking chair.

2. Accept hand-me-downs. Honestly, this has probably saved us the most money. Fortunately for us, we have several friends who have already started families and want to pass along items their children don’t use anymore. I will say, however, to always get a car seat new.

3. Borrow bulky baby items. This goes along with #2. We borrowed items we knew we didn’t/won’t need for very long, such as a nursing pillow and swing. Many people offered to loan us baby gear, so we could choose what we liked and what works for our tiny space.

4. Shop at thrift stores. We managed to score a solid, wooden rocking chair for $30 at a thrift store several months before we even conceived a child. We knew we wanted children in the future and decided to take advantage of an awesome deal.

5. Take advantage of Goodwill’s 50% off Saturdays and 25% Wednesdays. Goodwill has 50% off at least one Saturday each month and 25% off every Wednesday. I have scored several baby items in great condition for only $1 each, including a SwaddleMe blanket. Children’s books are regularly priced at $0.75, and toy range in price from $0.50-$2 on a regular day.

6. Shop at garage sales. People accumulate a ton of stuff when they have babies. Sometimes, babies will grow out of items in only a few weeks. Or, they enter the world too large for the newborn-sized clothing. This leads to people wanting to purge a bunch of things, often in like-new condition, for cheap. By shopping at garage sales and other second-hand places, I have yet to spend more than $2 on an article of clothing for my baby.

7. Find out about local sales for parents. A few towns around me have market days with just children’s items. My town in particular has a sale twice each year (spring and fall). Volunteers carefully screen clothing for stains, working items (like swings) which take batteries, and other baby gear. This provides a way for parents to easily get rid of things their children have outgrown, while still making some money, and a safe place to buy baby gear second-hand.

8. Get crafty! Even before I became pregnant, I learned how to make stuffed animals, hats, blankets, and other items a baby could want. I have also learned how to make even more things since my son arrived (teething toys, anyone?). Why pay $10-20 for a brand new hat when I can pay $1.50 for a skein of yarn and make a hat and a toy?

9. Accept the generosity of others. Not everyone has the blessing of a baby shower, and we had three. This has saved us a ton of money. People have even given us so much, even after our baby’s arrival. I feel truly blessed.

What about you? Any money-saving tips for new parents? Feel free to comment.

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Pirate Themed Baby Shower Gift

I have started creating things again. I manage to crochet a row here and there while my son sleeps or has tummy time. On Saturday, I attended a baby shower for my friend due at the end of October. She and her husband went with a pirate theme for their nursery, so I made my gift around that theme.

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I included:

  • An octopus I made using this pattern
  • The book How to be a Pirate
  • A hat with an octopus appliqué I made using this pattern
  • A onesie with a ship and baby pirates on it
  • Disposable breast pads for mom (not pictured)

My friend loved the gift. I look forward to seeing her little one wear the hat this winter. It feels good to start crocheting again.

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The Best Laid Plans of Mice . . .

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My not-so-little boy finally made his appearance in this world a week ago today, 15 days after his due date. The last five weeks really tested my patience as I saw one friend enjoy her baby (born one week early) and another have her baby (one day overdue). I anxiously wanted my turn to come. Once I hit full-term at 37 weeks I could not wait to meet my baby and start to get to know the little person my husband and I had created. Everyone I knew also started constantly checking in with me for updates. With nothing to report, I became frustrated with the waiting. My midwife finally decided to have me induced at 42 weeks.

After weeks of waiting and changed plans, I could not wait to get to the hospital last week. I originally planned on a natural delivery at the birth center (not hospital). At 36 weeks, my insurance coverage changed to prevent me from using the birth center. I did not want to have induced labor, but changed my mind as the 42 week mark approached. Once my labor started, I started to re-think my desire to labor without medication. I eventually had an epidural due to back labor.

My baby started showing signs of distress during my contractions. After two hours of pushing with no progress, the midwife suggested a cesarean delivery. At this point, I had been in the hospital for almost 24 hours and agreed to the c-section. I found out after delivery my baby had gotten stuck in a face-up position and had the chord wrapped around his neck, making a vaginal delivery almost impossible. This information has helped me cope with the changes to my plans.

Now, I feel glad to have my not-so-little guy home. We have no routine yet, but he sleeps more at night than during the day. Without further ado, here are his birth stats:

  • Date: August 1, 2014
  • Time: 8:08 a.m.
  • Weight: 9 lb, 12 oz
  • Length: 23.25 inches

My husband’s birth announcement: Baby Boy Marshall “was born this morning at 8:08 EDT. 9 pounds, 12 ounces of pure manliness have been unleashed on the world. If the size of his head is any indication of intelligence, he will master 11 dimensional physics before his third birthday. He may have also caused a scalpel to momentarily levitate, but those rumors are entirely baseless and not to be believed.

“He was forcibly removed from his mother via c-section at two weeks overdue. The doctors found and confiscated the reason for the delay, an unfinished multi-volume manifesto for world domination.

“Those who wish to come and cower in fear before their new leader may do so at some point in the near future, probably tomorrow. For right now, we all need our sleep.”

Categories: Ponderings | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Hobbes Security Blanket

After listening to my friends describe their pregnancies in the past, I fully expected to get bit hard by the nesting bug after my morning sickness went away. However, I did not feel the urge to make anything for my baby until this weekend. I think preparing to move this spring kept me from going into nesting mode. I felt a greater urge to purge and pack than to craft.

In the back of my mind, I picked out a project to make for my little one’s arrival. Almost two years ago, I crocheted a stuffed Hobbes for my hubby. The stripes seemed to take forever, so I knew I did not want to make a full-sized version again. I stumbled across a pattern a few days ago for a bunny security blanket. Remembering my desire to make a mini version of the stuffed animal I made hubby, I decided to tweak the pattern and make a Hobbes security blanket. The results:

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Size comparison with my earlier project.

Size comparison with my earlier project.

If I made this project again, I would make the blanket part larger and elongate the head to create a more accurate look alike to Bill Watterson’s comic strip character. If any of you want to make your own Hobbes security blanket, please leave a comment below. If I have enough interest, I will write up the pattern.

Categories: Crafty | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Simple Living: Small Space Update

My husband and I have now lived two months in our new space. I have 28 days left until our baby’s due date. Putting away the shower gifts posed a new challenge in our small space. While I have a few items stashed in the crib to put away and the stroller to assemble, I believe we have a good system for the baby with which to start. Some ways I have made the small space work for our growing family:

  1.  Replacing our microwave and toaster with a toaster oven to free up some counter space.
  2. Our tiny dining table doubles as hubby’s desk.
  3. Bins under the crib to store extra diapers, clothes, etc. the baby won’t need for a few months.
  4. Hooks, organizers, towel racks over the doors for extra storage (we have our baby tub hanging from a hook on our bathroom door, our diaper bag and baby carrier hanging from an over-the-door coat rack, and plan to use an over-the-door towel rack to hold blankets)
  5. Putting our dressers in the master closet allows us to have enough space in our room for a full-sized crib, a rocking chair, a queen-sized bed, and other furniture.

While our small space does limit the amount of entertaining we do, my husband and I still enjoy our space. We do not feel cramped (most of the time) and feel happy with the number of items we have in our space. I even had three of my pregnant friends over for a girls’ afternoon without any issues.

Some bloggers have inspired us to go on this journey of living in a small space with fewer items. They include:

Categories: Simple Living | 2 Comments

Simple Living: 100 Things Update

I know this update on our 100 Things Challenge comes a few days late, but we do not have internet set up at our new place. However, I can say we more than met our goal! In the chaos of moving, I lost track of the items I put in the Goodwill donation box. My husband and I still managed to record more than 100 things we sold, donated, recycled (electronics), or just threw away. We made $130 from items we sold, and we hope to sell a few more things in the near future. About half of the items on our list we donated to Goodwill. We gave away almost a third of the items on our list to friends. Very few items on our list ended up in the trash, while we recycled several broken electronics. Overall, our tiny new space works efficiently since we managed to purge so many items from our lives.

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