Years ago, I became obsessed with the idea of saving money on things I used on a day-to-day basis. Influenced by shows like Extreme Couponers, I quickly joined up couponing websites and forums to try and catch the best deal possible on everything imaginable. At one time, I spent a couple of months purchasing cleaning products at great prices (basic couponing tip: use coupons when the item is on sale at the store! A window cleaner’s regular price might be $4.99, on sale right now for $2.50, and I have a $1.50 off coupon, making that $5 item only a $1.00!) – only to discover after that I had hoarded almost one hundred bottles of various home cleaners.

None of which were eco-friendly. Not only had I gone against basic minimalist principles, against basic zero waste principles, I now had enough toxic chemicals to kill a baby bear (I wish I were joking…). And I had a new baby in the house and was suddenly stressing out about all the toxic chemicals that I was putting on surfaces and into the air. So I sold these store-bought cleaning products to a local cleaning lady (making a tiny profit!) and went back to square one. I started making my own DIY natural home cleaning products.  View Post



I never hate minimalism more than when I’m moving.

When face to face with all the stuff you’ve procured over the years – your stuff! – it’s unnerving to think that this ALL belongs to you and you have to find a space for ALL of it.

When moving into a new place and having very little furniture to begin with, the idea of now purchasing shelving and desks and dressers to store all your stuff becomes a priority. I start spending hours and hours on various websites, on pinterest, even craigslist or ebay trying to find just the right items. And then the price tag blows me away and I’m still stuck with boxes of stuff until I can afford to buy things to store all my stuff in.

This is when the idea of just throwing it all away kicks in. Minimalism at its’ finest.

Just throw everything away – donate it, put it to good use, let someone else recycle it for you – but wait, you can’t do that because you will most likely need it in the future.

Going through the boxes of stuff, I’ve discovered enough gift wrap, bows, bags, greeting cards and note cards to fill two large Rubbermaid containers. I have no where to put these treasures of mine right now, so in their respective boxes they will stay. Is it wasteful to keep these items stored away until I need them? No, of course not.

But perhaps my cookbook collection could be thinned out a bit. And the boxes full of baking items and cake decorating tools which I rarely use… I’ve also discovered quite a collection of Christmas lights, still in their packaging, waiting to be used at our new home – 14 boxes of them. Being the savvy shopper that I am, I began purchasing them on clearance sales after the holidays.

Minimalism only works for me when there’s a spot for everything, and everything is in its’ place. It works when you have just enough of everything, and not too much. The excess, the fat, must be trimmed so you’re left with everything you need and nothing more.

(Of course, I don’t apply this methodology to my shoes, because that would be blasphemous.)

Only then is the perfect balance achieved – a clean, minimal look which appeals to me, and useful items that are easily found when needed.

But for now I’m buried beneath boxes upon boxes of stuff. Books, toys, clothes, holiday decorations, linens, kitchen stuff, stationary, magazines, more coffee mugs than I can count, and my iphone, lost somewhere in these treasures.

Wish me luck.


If you do your grocery shopping regularly, you have probably purchased reusable grocery bags – you know the ones: the material ones that are emblazoned with the stores branding, I have green ones and black ones and multi-coloured ones with pictures on them from Walmart. These bags are cheap, usually $1 – $2.50, and make you feel good because you’re not using plastic bags.

But the next time you go grocery shopping you forget them, where are they? In the car? At home? Who cares if you buy a few more – they’re cheap and useful! And the next thing you know is that you’ve hoarded upwards of ten or more of these stupid grocery bags that are never there when you really need them.

What if you actually liked your grocery bag? What if it was chic and cute enough to go from clothing boutiques to the farmer’s market to the convenience store?

Maybe then you’d remember it!

Tote Bags

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Cheeky Dish Cloths

Cheeky dish cloths!

One of the easiest changes I’ve made in my home is getting rid of paper towels. I was initially very intimidated by this aspect and put up so many barriers to doing this – if I use rags, what type of rags? how much more washing will I have to do? what if I’m out of rags? cloth towels cost more than paper towels!

As in most things in life, the initial investment in cloth napkins and kitchen towels can be a lot to pay at once, however the cost of paper towels is a lot more in the long run, costing families an average of $200 or more per year – and it’s all being thrown in the trash!

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Bea Johnson

the ever chic Bea Johnson

I moved to the West Coast in the Autumn of 2009. It wasn’t quite the cultural shock some would have you believe, say if you suddenly moved from Toronto to Istanbul, now that would be a culture shock, but moving from Toronto to Vancouver is quite a bit easier.

First, the country is the same, so everything that could possibly make things difficult – ie. language, currency, food – isn’t quite as shocking as one might think. The first true shock came to us in terms of real estate prices – we couldn’t afford a single damn thing. The other major difference I took note of is that people in Vancouver seem to work to live, instead of the other way around.

Case in point, in Toronto at 6 pm you will see the lights in office buildings still on, you will talk to friends who are finishing up their office work, their construction job, they will put in the extra work, even if it means staying until 7 or 8 pm on a Friday, and then they’ll go out and play hard. Toronto = work hard, party hard.

Try to make a phone call to most major offices in Vancouver at 6 pm on a Friday – and NO ONE WILL ANSWER THE PHONE. You will listen to the message and realise they close at 4:30 pm on a Friday??? How the hell is anyone supposed to get any work done? And of course these people are off kayaking, and doing yoga on paddleboards, rock climbing, playing golf, even shooting guns at the range – they’re doing stuff, not just going to some club and getting their drank on, which is why the city is dubbed ‘NoFuncouver’ because of the lack of selection in nightlife activities. Vancouver = work well, play hard, usually outdoors.

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charming book nook
source ]

My husband and I are currently in the process of building our next home, a modern dwelling built on a mountainside with beautiful ocean views. We currently reside in a rental, and we’re going on our third year here! I cannot wait to break free of these bare off-white walls and truly create a home for our family. As we start to pack away our winter things and place them in storage, I slowly start removing things we don’t need throughout the house. Instead of just packing stuff away to deal with when we arrive in the new house, I am going to take the next few months to really think about the place of each item, both in our house and in our lives.

I am on a constant battle with “stuff”, “junk”, and “clutter”.

There are simple solutions to living with less: find a place for everything, and always put everything in its’ place. If it doesn’t fit, doesn’t belong, doesn’t get used – it most likely doesn’t need to be taking up space in your home. It sounds simple but it’s obviously a much more tedious task to actually go through your drawers, your closets, and your shelves and purge everything.

I sometimes think my husband wants to literally just get rid of EVERYTHING and start fresh and new. But economically this just doesn’t make sense. I do see his point though…

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