Fall and Winter Capsule Wardrobes for Kids

In my last post I talked a little bit about why and how I chose to use a capsule wardrobe for my children’s clothes both to save money and space. Today I thought it might be helpful to share what items I include in my shopping list when I am preparing to go to the thrift store, consignment sales or other venues. These may not be comprehensive lists, but they are the actual lists I will be working from this fall for my 6 year old son and 2 year old daughter. (Tip: Scroll to the bottom of this post if you want to know how to get your own printable Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe Checklist!)

Boy’s Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe

Tops:

  • 6 t-shirts
  • 3 dress shirts
  • 2 fleece or hooded sweatshirts

Bottoms:

  • 3 pairs jeans
  • 3 pairs sweats or athletic pants
  • 2 pairs dress slacks (1 black, 1 khaki)

Miscellaneous:

  • 2-3 pairs long sleeved pajama tops and bottoms

Shoes:

  • Tennis shoes
  • Winter boots

Outerwear:

  • Winter coat

If I needed to buy my son new socks or underwear, those would also get added to the miscellaneous list. I would also note the sizes of each category of items needed. As you can see, I plan just enough of everything to get him through one week. Then we do laundry! Ha! Often times my children receive some extra clothes as a gift from family, offering more wiggle room between laundry days. But we get by just fine with this minimal amount of clothes.

My toddler girl’s shopping list will be a little bit bigger. This is mostly because she is not quite fully potty trained, so we sometimes need a few extra pairs of bottoms to get us through to laundry day, although she is getting much better! Also, she is going to be wearing mostly dresses and leggings or tights in the cold months, not so much for style (even though I do love the look!) but because she is so skinny! Especially without a fluffy diaper on her bum, I cannot find pants to fit her in length that will not just fall right off her slim waist.

Girl’s Fall/Winter Capsule Wardrobe

Tops:

  • 4 long sleeved shirts
  • 3 long sleeved dresses
  • 1-2 jumpers
  • 2 cardigans

Bottoms:

  • 4-5 pairs leggings (2 black, 2 denim, 1 brown/grey)
  • 4 pairs thick tights (black, cream, grey, pink)
  • 2-3 denim or khaki skirts

Miscellaneous:

  • 3 pairs long sleeved pajamas

Shoes:

  • Black dress shoes
  • Play shoes
  • Boots

Outerwear:

  • Fleece jacket
  • Winter coat

If you would like to get a printable PDF copy of my Kids’ Capsule Wardrobe Checklist to take shopping with you, just sign up for my email list below. After you confirm your subscription, you will receive a password to access my Members Only Resource Library!

So, there you have it! If you would be interested in seeing my basic spring/summer capsule wardrobe list, please leave a comment below. I would be happy to post that as well at a later date!



How to Save Money on Kids’ Clothes with a Capsule Wardrobe

For some reason, I have been thinking a lot about my kids’ clothes lately. Maybe it is because they are both growing like weeds and will need new stuff for the fall and winter. Maybe it is all the packing and moving prep I have been doing lately and trying to decide what we might not need in the next few weeks. It could be because I have been thinking about how to save more money in our budget after reading Erin Odum’s book More Than Just Making It (coming out Sept. 5, 2017, but you can preorder now and get all sorts of awesome pre-release goodies!) Whatever the reason, I am thankful to say we have really never spent a lot on our children’s wardrobes. Actually, we were extremely blessed during the first two years of my son’s life not to need to buy him any clothes because friends and family gave us so much. Some things were brand new. A lot were pre-loved hand-me-downs, and I appreciated both kinds of gifts ever so much!

However, as our situation changed and our kids grew older, we had to begin buying more and more of their clothes. And because I have a small clothing budget, I wanted to find ways to make the best use of our money. Kids outgrow their clothing so quickly, and often wear them out even more quickly, that it really never has made sense to me to spend a huge amount on things they will only be able to wear for a season. Also, I find that my kids like certain styles or types of clothes and will choose the same handful of outfits over and over again, even if they have drawers and closets full of other options. Admittedly, I am the same way! Because of this, I decided to use the capsule wardrobe concept as a basis for buying kids’ clothes, and it has worked out beautifully for our family! Not only has it saved us money by helping me only purchase clothing that my children will actually get our money’s worth out of, but it has saved on space and given me a lot less anxiety about packing up their wardrobes when it comes time to do that!

If you are not familiar with the concept, a capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothing items that you can mix and match to create multiple outfits. Ideally, a capsule wardrobe will be able to last throughout a whole season, if not for the whole year. With quickly growing children in a more extreme climate, your mileage may vary! I do generally only shop for my children twice a year and aim to get a good 6 months use out of what I purchase for them. I have started shopping consignment sales in the early spring and late summer, but more on that in another post! So I pretty much lump the warmer months into one “season” and the cooler months into another.

When I get ready to do my seasonal shopping, I sit down and make a list of everything I think we will need to purchase for the coming months, including shoes and outerwear. I also make note of the sizes needed for each category. Then when I go shopping, I know exactly what to look for and am not so tempted to make impulse buys. I do try to find clothing pieces that will mix and match as much as possible. It is easier with boy’s clothes, but doable with girl’s as well if you look for neutrals and colors that go together well. Besides saving money and space in your closets and drawers, having a capsule wardrobe also saves you from decision fatigue! It is easy to make outfits that go together quickly and without much thought when pretty much everything in the drawer matches and is liked by your kids!

I will be writing another post with some example lists of what I like to have in my kids’ capsule wardrobes for both cool weather and warm weather months, so check back here tomorrow! How about you? Do you use a capsule wardrobe for your children? Or maybe for yourself? What are some ways you save money on buying clothes for your family? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Grain Free Dutch Baby Pancake (with dairy-free option)

Last fall our breakfasts were getting into a rut. It was a rotation of eggs or oatmeal nearly every day. Everything else sounded like too much time or work when we were all starving and in a hurry to eat. But I was bored. The kids were bored. My husband was probably bored, too, but he is pretty easy-going when it comes to food. Then I heard of the Dutch Baby or German Pancake, and it was just the shot in the arm our breakfast routine needed! At first I was making them using regular gluten-free flour, which was ok. But then we went grain-free for a while, and we all missed our puffy pancake goodness. Finally, I found a variation using coconut flour, and I was hooked. I have since tweaked it enough to make it my own, including making it dairy free so it can be completely paleo! This puffed oven pancake can be enjoyed on its own, but we think the topping options are what really make this breakfast shine! I am including a few of our favorite suggestions at the end of the recipe, but feel free to come up with your own creative ideas!

(Disclaimer: I am NOT a food blogger, nor do I plan on this becoming a foodie blog! I take pretty lousy pictures of food, and I usually don’t make up my own recipes. When I do, I almost always fail to write them down. This is just such a staple breakfast around here that I had to share because we love it so much, bad food photography and all!)

Grain-Free Dutch Baby Puffed Pancake

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 c. Coconut flour
  • 6 Tbl. Arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 c. Almond milk or other non-dairy milk (cow’s milk will work fine, too, if you can have it!)
  • 8 eggs (farm-fresh pastured preferable, but we use whatever we have)
  • 1-2 tsp. Vanilla extract (optional)
  • 3-4 Tbl. Coconut oil, ghee or butter

Directions:

  1. In medium large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.
  2. Place oil, butter or ghee in 9×13 pan or glass baking dish, and put in oven while preheating to 375 degrees Fahr.
  3. Stir in milk until mixture is smooth, then add in eggs and vanilla, whisking until eggs are fully incorporated and mixture resembles runny pancake batter.
  4. Remove pan with melted butter from oven, and pour batter into hot pan, returning it to the oven.
  5. Bake pancake for 20-25 minutes, until edges rise and are golden brown and center is firm.
  6. Serve warm with favorite fruit or spreadable toppings. Enjoy!


Toppings we love:
Fresh summer berries (with a little powdered sugar if you aren’t avoiding sweets!)
Fried apples (finely chopped apples, sprinkled with cinnamon and sautéed in coconut oil or butter until soft)
Nut butter or sunflower seed butter and jam

Now go bake one for yourself and your family and let me know what you think! Enjoy!

Homeschool Basics Series, Pt. 4: Homeschooling on a Budget

Welcome to Part 4 of my Homeschool Basics series! Missed the previous posts in this series? No worries! Part 1: Why We Homeschool is here, Part 2: How We Homeschool is here, and Part 3:Year-Round Schooling is here.

If you are thinking about homeschooling your child(ren), one of the things you will need to consider is the cost. Most families choosing to home educate are living on one full-time income, although I am hearing of a growing number of families in which both parents work full-time and still find ways to homeschool! Either way, you need to have a budget for your homeschool. If you are coming from a public school mindset, then the idea of paying extra for education may be a bit of a burden to you. But if you consider how much private school tuition generally costs, then you will likely be relieved! Homeschooling costs fall somewhere in the middle, and how you choose to home educate determines how much you will spend.

If you are anything like me, you need to cut costs and get the most bang for your buck in every area of your budget, homeschool included! Here are some ways that our family has drastically reduced our education expenses while still giving our children a fantastic learning experience.

  1. Use a free or inexpensive base curriculum. As I mentioned in previous posts, we use a free Charlotte Mason style curriculum available from AmblesideOnline.org. The booklists, reading schedules, parent resources and support, etc., are all completely free of charge! All you have to buy are the books, although even many of those can be found online for free (see next point). If you are not interested in a Charlotte Mason style education, I have heard many homeschool moms use and like the free curriculum from Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. If you know of other free or low-cost curriculum choices, I would love for you to leave a link to it in the comments!
  2. Get free books via Kindle, Gutenberg and Librivox. One of the things I love about AmblesideOnline is that the moms who created it were very careful to choose books that were widely available at a reasonable cost while still being high quality classics. This means that many of their choices are books that are old enough to be in the public domain. The AO booklists link to any book that has been converted into electronic format and is available for free online, whether via Gutenberg.org, Amazon Kindle, or in audio format on Librivox. I used these resources heavily when I was pre-reading for AO Year 1 before deciding to purchase in print books. Some people who have either serious space or budget limitations use these free e-books almost exclusively. This is a great way to have a great living books education without spending a lot on building a large home library.
  3. Make use of the library. Speaking of libraries, if you homeschool, you need to make your librarian your friend! No matter what style of homeschooling you choose, you can probably find most of the books, magazines, dvd’s and more that you need right there at your public library! Just be sure to return things on time so you don’t end up spending a fortune in overdue book fines!
  4. Shop for used books cheaper at thrift stores, library sales or online. Because I have 2 students that will be using the same books eventually, I decided that it was worth the cost for us to go ahead and purchase as many physical books as we can from the AO lists. However, I am rarely willing to pay full price for a new book unless I cannot find it cheaper used somewhere. I never stop in my local thrift stores without going over the book shelves pretty thoroughly. I have found some real gems for only $.50-$1! Another great place to find inexpensive used books is your local library’s book sales. Most libraries have these once or twice a year, and you can often find great titles at a fraction of the price you would pay elsewhere. If you prefer to shop online, I have had great success with finding used books via sellers on both Amazon and AbeBooks. You do need to check shipping prices and reviews, however.
  5. Use free reading and math curricula, at least for lower grades. If you do a little research, you will find a plethora of free or low-cost options for teaching basic phonics and reading skills, as well as math and handwriting. If I had known about these options my first year homeschooling, I probably would have saved a lot of money! Although I did not make use of a free reading curriculum, I have had a great experience using MEP math, a complete free math program from the UK. Amy Tuttle’s Discover Reading is a good, inexpensive guide to a Charlotte Mason method of teaching your child to read.
  6. Free or low-cost supplementary materials.  If you are going to do composer study, find free versions of the songs you will use on Youtube. Again, AmblesideOnline has links to videos of their chosen pieces for each term. Another choice, if you already have an Amazon Prime membership is to use the Amazon Prime Music app to find the songs for your composer and create a playlist for use in your homeschool. We will be trying this out in the coming year. For our artist study, we started out using the computer, but I soon decided I would prefer having physical prints for us to look at without staring at a screen. Instead I used document printing from our local Staples to get 8×11 prints of all our artwork and spent only $13 for the whole year. The same can be done at Office Depot.
  7. Cheap school supplies on clearance or at Dollar Tree. Of course, you will need some basic school supplies for the year, and the best time to buy these is when they are on clearance in the fall. You can also find some inexpensive school supplies at the Dollar Tree. Some of my favorite things to buy there for school are actually their little workbooks and flashcards that my toddler can play with and feel like she is “doing school” with her brother.
  8. Repurpose and reuse. When it comes to consumables, some things will just need replaced every year, like used up spiral notebooks and worn out folders. But if you can reuse more costly supplies like binders, page protectors, etc., do it! Most kids really don’t need completely brand new school supplies like pencils and crayons every single year. But when you do know your supplies are getting worn out or running low, try to plan ahead and buy when they are on clearance.
  9. Simplify. Even though there are some really wonderful options out there, you truly don’t need fancy curriculum to have a great education for your children. I know a lot of people like to decorate their school rooms and fill up their shelves with fun manipulatives, games and activities; but the fact of the matter is, you don’t need to do that. Read well-written, living books. Practice reading, writing and arithmetic skills. Go explore outside in nature. Listen to good music. Look at beautiful art. Teach your children how to cook and clean. Love on your kids and give them space to use their imaginations. Do these things, and your children will have a rich education. All the money in the world can’t buy what your children need most–your love and guidance.

 

Psalm 121: Help for Your Journey (and a FREE Printable!)

On Sunday, the pastor at our temporary church home taught from Psalm 121. This psalm has long been one of my favorites, and each time I read it, I am reminded of the Lord’s protection. If you are not familiar with Psalm 121, it starts out like this:

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121:1-2

This psalm is part of a group of psalms known as the Songs of Ascent, meaning that they were sung on the journey up to the mountain city of Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. I really love the opening verses so much as they encourage me to look to the Lord for my help and remind me that my Helper is the very One who created the universe! But on Sunday the verse that actually struck me the most was the final verse:

The Lord will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121:8

When I read these verses this week it was as if the Lord were speaking to me directly, saying, “I know you are worried about this whole moving process. But don’t fear or fret, my child. I have this all planned out and will guard your going out of this place and you coming into the next in my perfect time. You are held in my hands. Be at peace.” It was just what I needed to hear at that moment. No matter how many times we have read a passage of Scripture, it can impress us with new insights because God’s Word is living and active.

Because of this truth, it is so valuable for us to spend time meditating on Scripture and letting it sink deep into our hearts and minds. In light of this, I wanted to create a tool to help us meditate on Psalm 121 together, so I came up with this little coloring page with the entire chapter centered on it. This printable is available FREE for my blog subscribers as a little thank you for joining me on this journey! Subscribe below if you have not already, and you will be sent a password for my new Resource Library. Then you can download the PDF and print as you wish. I encourage you to read and meditate on the psalm as you color the floral motifs, then display it somewhere where you will see it on a daily basis and be reminded Who is your Help and Keeper!




Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.