Southern Sustainability

You’ve heard of the staycation as a way to save resources and live a bit more lightly in your vacation’s environmental impact. If you would still like to get away a bit, consider a closer destination. If you are like me there has to be somewhere in North America you haven’t yet explored.

As I wrap up a trip to the Big Easy, I wanted to share some sustainable family travel tips for New Orleans:

See More with Public Transport – Being in the DC mode (and traveling with an infant) I opted to jump in a cab at the airport. My mom, who joined me to take care of Clark during a Finance Blogger conference, opted to take the airport shuttle and practically got a tour en route from the airport. We also opted for the old trolley car to explore the Garden District and were happy to support a pedicab after our walking tour was over.

Educate Yourself – Whether it is a museum, like the Insectarium that we visited, or a voodoo walking tour, you’ll probably thank yourself for what you’ve learned while exploring. People watching is also an excellent way to learn about wherever you are traveling to.

Avoid Tchotchkes – There is really no need for trinkets to remind you of your travels. We will let Clark keep his first set of Mardi Gas beads for awhile though, since they are cheap entertainment for kids of all ages.

Explore the Local Cuisine – You have to eat, so you might as well have this be part of your adventures in trying something new. In the south that is easier than you’d think.

What local(ish) places have you explored lately? Darcy and her family took a family vacation to British Columbia, Canada this summer and had a great trip.

Enjoy!

Miel

Reward Yourself

With consumer debt at recent lows and savings up, Americans are more interested in what rewards their cards will give them.

As savvy sisters, we are always interested in seeing what are the best cards out there.

Darcy has been a fan of the easy Costco AmEx card, that rewards you for shopping in bulk.

I have used Chase cards for years, either with United Miles or with their Sapphire card.

As I will be getting a car soon, for the first time in over a decade, I am interested in checking out some gas cards.

Gas rewards cards are a great way for you to save money on one of the items that you need to buy. Being able to earn money back or save money on such a necessary item is extremely helpful for your budget.  

However, figuring out which gas rewards card is the right fit for your household can be difficult and time consuming.  That is why Sunoco has created the credit card comparison chart which allows you to easily narrow down which card is right for you.  With this tool you can easily compare the discounts and benefits of several different companies.  

What cards do you use, and why?

Cheers,

Miel

Becoming A Mama Bliss Coach

This quote captures the essence of creating Mama Bliss and sharing your passion with your family and beyond...

This quote captures why/how creating Mama Bliss for ourselves inspires our children and beyond.

I can hardly believe that I haven’t written about becoming a Mama Bliss Coach on this blog (I was honestly too busy with coaching school/practice). In June I completed a 12-week course that taught me all about becoming a life coach. The training reinforced the path I’ve been on as a Simplicity Parenting Coach (check out my debut interview with OMamas). It also taught me specific new coaching tools to work with Mamas on their path to creating more bliss. Mama Bliss Coaching delves into four personal areas of your life:

  • Self-care
  • Simplicity
  • Values
  • Creativity

I like to think of them as a hierarchy of needs, only it’s all about creating your unique version of Mama Bliss. Creating genuine Mama Bliss is about going deep within to get honest with yourself to ask where you are your life now, and where you want your family be…and then bridging that gap. Asking yourself who you are now, and who you know you can become. It’s a delicate balance of dealing with the chaos of your daily life, and persistently working toward your longer term vision. Finding ways to cherish the moment, express yourself creatively and discover what truly brings you bliss.

It’s about not getting trapped in the modern day “Busy Mama Syndrome” of doing everything for everyone else but yourself…since that gerbil wheel will only take you so far really. It’s about creating a clear vision of what you most desire and finding ways to fulfill your purpose. While I talk all about “Mamas,” it’s really about your whole self who happens to be a Mama.

Mama Bliss Coaching is a collaborative process where we work together to look at the areas of your life that currently cause you stress and gradually bring more and more bliss into your life. It’s a process, not a magic pill. But let me tell you, once you’ve begun the path toward Mama Bliss, it’s hard to turn back to the grind.

Now that I’ve found my calling, my work brings me joy. Rather than feeling like work, I’ve felt elated after each and every coaching session. Yes, I’ve felt overwhelmed at times by the amount of effort it takes to launch a business and keep my family running, I have a deep sense of satisfaction knowing that I am ready, willing and able to serve fellow mamas on their own paths of professional and personal self-discovery. I’ve attracted some amazing working professionals as clients, and am excited about supporting them as they reach their higher vision for themselves and their families.

Lastly, I want to share two exciting updates.

One, my very first podcast interview with my coaching school teacher, Ms. Kathy Stowell from Bliss Beyond Naptime. I feel eternally grateful to have found this coaching program when I did (last winter I was feeling pretty disappointed by the fact that leading Simplicity Parenting classes was just not the right model for the clients I want to reach…plus that I wanted to help transform the whole mama, not just the “parenting mama”). And thank you to my inspiring cohort of fellow Mama Bliss Coaches, a truly inspiring and impressive bunch of colleagues.

Second, I’ve just posted info about my very first Mama Bliss Beach Retreat, November 14-16. I’ve been hyping this up in my mind for sooooo long, envisioning the whole beautiful experience and can hardly wait to make this part of my dream come true…hopefully with you!

Wishing you Mama Bliss!

Darcy

Cloth Diapering System…3rd Time’s a Charm!

Cloth diapers are not as difficult as our society makes it out to be. Sure, disposable diapers can be convenient, and I use them myself about 10-15% of the time. But once you’ve set up a convenient system, using cloth only really adds a load of laundry every 5-7 days. With all the laundry my family requires, I hardly notice the extra effort.

There is a bit of a learning curve to get a system that works for you. Using cloth diapers has become a lost art and parents need to find resources in order to demystify things. 


I was actually talked out of using cloth with my Big Guy, by a friend who works in the environmental field. I ended up using G-Diapers as a middle ground, but had mixed results. Here’s my Diaper Duty story for #1 and #2. 


Now that Miel has recently had her first child in June, I’ve been asked to reflect once again on my diapering experience.


Here are the three steps to setting up a diapering system:

  1. Start cloth diapers at about 12 pounds (which obviously depends on baby’s size)
  2. Buy a mix of “all-in-one” diapers for mostly night time and wraps for the days
  3. You need a few more supplies to set up your system (see list below)

1. This third time around using cloth diapers has felt like second nature. I started when Sweetie had grown out of of size 1 disposables, at about 12 pounds. Almost all of my diapers are made to grow with her and can expand with snaps. Starting at just after the newborn stage will save you money on diapers that you would only use for a month. Plus, it also gives you a chance to settle into parenthood with the new little person you’ve just created. 

2. In an effort find the “right diaper” I ended up buying several different brands. This made it more complicated than necessary, since each diaper has it’s own nuances. Take my advice, and just buy the one brand that works, I really like the
Thirsties Duo Wrap and BumGenius works great too. 

3. You’ll need more than just cloth diapers. The good news is that some of the items you can repurpose once you are done diapering. Here’s my list:

  • Air tight 5 Gallon Eco Bucket with a lid
  • Two smaller Airtight Containers With a Handle (I used these to transport diapers to/from daycare, but at home they are handy to have for changing diapers on different floors)
  • Flushable BioLiners diaper liners make dumping poop much easier. You don’t need to start using until you introduce solids and their poop firms up. These were a game changer for cloth diapering! (It is doable to go without, but it sure is messier…)
  • Oxygen bleach and essential oils to add to wash loads
  • A dedicated laundry basket for fresh diapers

Once you have your supplies set up, the system is really easy…catching your toddler for a diaper change is the real challenge! 

What does your diaper system consist of?

Darcy

AirBnB Curious?

AirBnB is such a unique way to travel, and our guests have really appreciated us opening up our home!

I first became intrigued about the idea of earning a side income by hosting with AirBnB last winter, after reading a great article from the perspective of a family from California (which naturally I can’t locate now…). I had just left my stable City income, and the idea of earning cash while on vacation certainly appealed to me.

A month later, I was interviewing Ms. Kathy about the prospect of enrolling Mama Bliss Coaching School and trying to figure out how I was going to afford tuition (which isn’t that much if I hadn’t already paid for the Simplicity Parenting training). She kept gushing about how much she loves Portland, and visits often, so on a whim I threw out the idea of doing a trade for staying at our place during the month of August, when we were already planning to be gone on vacation. It turned out that they were planning a big move, so it wouldn’t work. But the suggestion did get me thinking…“Well, what if I could earn that money from someone else staying at our place?”

We were already planning a big spring break trip back East, so initially I thought it would be great to get our place listed and hope that some family wanted to come to Portland for spring break. I did some more research about hosting, and decided to set up a profile. The only thing that was missing was photos.

But even as a Mama who strives to live a decluttered life, the place was never quite clean enough to be able to take photos for the world to see. So, I decided to clean and take pics the day before we were heading out of town. I was shocked to get two requests/reservations within the first 24 hours! 

Our first reservation was for ten days when we were already planning to take our annual anniversary/family trip. We’re packing up for our trip to B.C. (Mayne Island/Vancouver Island and Van), and we’ll be making nearly $2k while we’re on vacation. A couple from Connecticut will be staying with their two grown daughters while they visit family in Portland. The woman even sounds excited about watering my garden!

Flash back to spring break, and ended up getting three reservations with guests staying at our place for nine of the ten nights we were gone on vacation. It brought in nearly $2k…nearly our monthly mortgage!

We’ve been out of town a fair amount this summer, and by Labor Day we will have grossed nearly $8k in our first six months of AirBnB rentals! 

Even if you haven’t considered hosting until now, the potential for extra income may have you curious too… There’s a lot more to it than just posting a listing, so I’ll be sharing more of our AirBnB story…while we’re away on our road trip. 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions or if you have your own experiences to share!

Happy hosting,
Darcy