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Text4Hope

This post is in partnership with Alberta Blue Cross. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that are keeping this blog full of fresh content.

If you are a person living on Earth during this lifetime, at this exact moment in history, it is highly probable that you’ve experienced some sort of strain on your mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you’re worried about yourself or someone you love contracting COVID-19, experiencing financial difficulties due to loss of work, dealing with loneliness, or just struggling to keep it all together for your loved ones, there are so many factors that can heighten your stress, anxiety or depression right now.

It can be a lot to take on right now. Who would have guessed you’d be navigating new things like ordering groceries online or braving the shops to ensure your household has food? The one thing I keep reminding myself is that I am not alone in this experience. While we are all isolating, it’s easy to isolate—internally—even further. This is not a time to let your mental health slip. 

As an Alberta Blue Cross plan member, I was alerted to their Text4Hope service at the beginning of the pandemic. For the past two months or so, I’ve been receiving a daily text message in the morning to help set me up for success and support my mental health for the day. I read them aloud for Jack to hear as well, because the message can often help him too. Accessing this free service is easy. Simply text COVID19Hope to 393939 to subscribe free of charge.

Alberta Blue Cross joined forces with Alberta Health Services, the Mental Health Foundation, Dr. Vincent Agyapong of the University of Alberta and other hospital foundations across the province to launch Text4Hope

Text4Hope provides support to Canadians using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy-based messages. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) refers to short-term therapy that helps individuals identify negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours and shift them into healthy thoughts and behaviours when needed. 

When you sign up to the service, you can expect to receive daily advice, support and suggested actions from mental health experts to help you build adaptive coping skills and resiliency. I have found that these texts really set the tone for the day and even offer a bit of a reset if stress has been already mounting in the morning. 

Some examples of my favourite texts I’ve received so far include:

A key to improving mood is to increase your activity. This allows for positive things to happen, which improves your mood.

It is important to find a balance between pleasure and your to-do list. Try to do a bit of both today and see how you feel.

Take a moment to notice how you feel right now. Don’t judge your emotions or try to change them. Just observe them and see your stress levels reduce.

These simple messages are great reminders of how to take care of your mental health during this uncertain time. However, it is still important to stay in touch with friends and family, call your doctor as needed for prescription refills or advice, and get outdoors often for fresh air and sunshine.

For more information about Text4Hope, visit Text4Hope.ca.

#STANDWITHSMALL ETSY IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

This post includes affiliate links.

There has never been a more important time to support small businesses. With the cancellations of markets, closures of small boutiques and the general distraction of living in a COVID-19 world, small makers are feeling the effects of a major loss of income. Thankfully, the internet is still open for business and in particular Etsy is making it a priority to support their small businesses.

On March 20th, Etsy pledged a $5 million spend over the next month to help drive business. They have also have offered a one month grace period for sellers who need extra time to pay their bills.

They also recently launched their #StandWithSmall Campaign – a way to support their 2.7 million sellers worldwide. Your support impacts these sellers’ lives and by shopping small, you’ll help contribute to the livelihood of artists, makers and designers.

Check out the Etsy Editor’s Picks page for a curated selection of wonderful handmade items in all categories. So many shops are also offering Free Shipping right now so keep an eye out for that as you are shopping.

I am endlessly building a coveted list from searching and scrolling through Etsy. I’m excited to share some of my recent favourite finds – all of which will make your experience in isolation that much sweeter. x

Trippy Drippy Chill Out Sweatshirt from DIPTRIP
Droplet Incense Holder from zzieeceramics
Velvet Throw Pillow from alamaisonco
Ceramic Mug from SowhereProject
Watercolour and Ink Flowers by LunaReef
Arcs Furoshiki Japanese eco-wrapping textile/scarf from Link Collective
Air Plant Bundle from AirPlantWorld
Weaving Kit for Beginners from BlancLaine

IT TAKES A VILLAGE…

I recently had an interesting conversation with one of my close friends. We were talking about women- led households and how in our modern society, typically, women are no longer reliant on marriage and are completely independent. It is not uncommon by any means. Talking more about it, we both noticed that we respectively know more women who are the head of their households than women who are not.

Including ourselves, we know countless women, female-identifying and non-binary people who have made the choice to live alone or co-habitate with fellow women. Instead of following more traditional household roles, they are doing it all on their own. Many of them are self-employed or single mothers, much like myself. I know single mothers who have made the choice to have a child on their own by opting for a sperm donor. Others have full-time jobs with a creative side hustle on the go; some also work in the non-profit world, making our city a better place to live through social programs, the arts and civic work.

One common thread between all of these people is the community of support they have. Setting up various lines of support for yourself is incredibly important for your overall well-being—whether you are on your own or not. The old phrase “It takes a village…” isn’t just for people raising children; it is for all of us. We all need many different kinds of people to help make our lives complete, to feel fully supported and to make sure our needs are covered. Whether it be a psychologist, a parent or a general practice doctor—by setting up and fostering these webs of support—we know that when there is a crisis, we’ll be able to handle it.

One line of support that I have found endlessly helpful is through my ​Alberta Blue Cross​ health benefits. Access to therapy and counseling services means that I can make mental health maintenance a priority for myself. As a self-employed person, having an individual health plan through Alberta Blue Cross has made a world of difference and has helped me to afford a variety of services that would normally be quite costly.

I believe that mental health should be at the top of everyone’s list for self-care. When I was in my early twenties, I tried going to counselling but quickly gave up on it because I thought I didn’t need it after a couple sessions. Turns out, doesn’t matter how big or small your problems are, it is extremely beneficial to talk to someone unbiased who can help you work through whatever you are going through. When I signed up for an ​Alberta Blue Cross​ individual health plan again (I’ve had Alberta Blue Cross twice now in the past seven years of being self-employed and the reassurance it gives me for health and wellness is so worth the monthly payment), I knew I wanted to take advantage of the maximums to see a psychologist and I haven’t looked back. It is just so helpful to talk to someone outside of your immediate circle to keep things in check and work on yourself.

And it isn’t just psychologists that you can access through your plan, there are a range of professional practitioners you can utilize in your life to assist with your health and wellness. Massage therapy, acupuncturists, homeopaths, naturopaths and osteopaths are all covered under their Blue Choice and Blue Assured plans—meaning you can afford other ways of finding balance in your personal life.

Beyond what they offer through their plans, you can also search their website for direct-bill providers so you don’t have to pay out of pocket when seeking medical help. Once you are a plan member, you can access their Balance program, which is a rewards program to help you maintain and improve your health and wellness through points and prizes. If you need incentives to help you on your journey, this is a great bonus through Alberta Blue Cross.

Professionally, I believe it is important to always be seeking out higher learning opportunities. This can be found through formal educational institutions or through smaller training events or evening networking opportunities. A really valuable relationship you can introduce into your life is in the form of mentor or mentee or both. In years past when I was first starting out in my career, I was really grateful to have the support of several mentors who helped me see my path a little clearer. It is equally important to give back and mentor others. It doesn’t have to be formal mentorship—I find that there are always people seeking out a bit of knowledge or need a push in the right direction. Being a mentor is so valuable.

Last but of course not least, cultivating your friendships and relationships with family members is key. As a single mother, it is very important to me to have my family very present in my son’s life. Having that support and knowing they are in my corner gives me a lot of inner strength. The same goes for the family you choose—your friendships. I’m really lucky to live in a building that is inherently community-minded. One of my oldest friends lives below me and I have made new amazing friendships with other single women in the building—sometimes it feels like the plot of sitcom! Having a few close friendships where I know that I can call them for anything I need definitely lifts a weight off my shoulders.

As someone who likes to believe I can *do it all* on my own, I’ve really learned a lot about asking for help, building my community and giving back over the past three years of single motherhood. It really does take a village to make a person complete and there is absolutely no shame in that.


This post is in partnership with ​Alberta Blue Cross​. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands and organizations that keep this blog full of new content.

THE ETSY DESIGN AWARDS

The first-ever Etsy Design Awards are rapidly approaching. #TheEtsies celebrate the work of extraordinary creatives from around the world and showcase the amazing and talented people behind these award-winning products. Selected from thousands of entries received from around the world, 160 global finalists are in the running for the $15,000 USD Grand Prize or the top prize in one of five categories: Inventive Decor, Signature Style, Festive Celebrations, Earth-Friendly, and Creative Collaborations. How exciting!

The winners are announced in September 2019, as selected by Etsy’s international expert panel of judges. I can’t wait to see who they choose as the winners but in the meantime, I’ve rounded up MY own personal winners from the Editor’s Picks page.

Inventive Decor: Home creations, big or small, that are truly sanctuary-worthy.

As a vinyl-enthusiast, this beautiful record player stand immediately caught my eye. Handmade from solid oak, this cupboard is an incredible design piece for your living room. The openwork geometric design on the cupboard doors allows you to control all of your audio devices. You can also store your record collection on one side with adjustable compartments. All in all, this is an exquisite piece meant for any music lover.

Signature Style: Jewelry, fashion or accessories that make a statement.

I love this handmade leather mini-bag. The black painted design adds the perfect amount of personality to this generally minimalist leather purse. The “OANA” is made by hand in Bristol, England. A bag like this truly becomes an heirloom piece.

Festive Celebrations: Decorations or all things wedding that are the life of the party.

While all of the submissions for the Festive Celebrations category were beautiful, this Wedding Arch definitely took the cake in my eyes. Each flower is handcrafted using foam, to create absolutely showstopping decor for your wedding or event. Honestly, I’d love to have these in my apartment all the time!

Earth-Friendly: Sustainably made finds that look great and help the planet.

This one was a tough one because I found myself drawn to so many of the earth-friendly products. The one that I fell in love with immediately however was the Black and Copper Paper Pulp Bowl. Using 100% recycled paper, I love the simplicity and boldness. And of course, the sustainability feature is seriously amazing.

Creative Collaborations: Personalized, handcrafted goods that put the “special” in “special order.”

There is nothing more special than commissioning a custom piece of artwork to commemorate an important or life-changing event in your life. The talent on Etsy is unreal and the possibilities for collaboration with an artist are endless. My favourite Creative Collaboration is this Custom House Portrait. I love architectural drawings of any kind but having a three-dimensional representation of your home sounds absolutely awesome.

Here are a few more of my runner-up picks that truly showcase the creativity, talent and level of professionalism on Etsy:

Miniature Concrete Homes
Coloured Glass Straw Set
Milky House Dollhouse

Have you checked out the Etsy Design Awards Finalists Editors’ Picks page yet? Good luck to all of the finalists!

This post includes affiliate links.

Riding the Wave of Shaw’s BlueCurve

If there is anything I’ve been paying more attention to over the past year, it is how much time I spend online. As a writer, blogger and avid social media user, most of my career is spent online. Also, as a mother, once my son goes to bed, I spend a lot of time online, texting or connecting with my friends on social media, watching Netflix or catching up on other shows I’ve saved on the Shaw FreeRange TV app. With so much time spent using the internet, I’ve noticed that sometimes it can lead to internet burnout. It’s not the internet itself that has been burning out, but my energy levels have been. 

Thankfully, Shaw had a line to my inner thoughts as they got in touch earlier this year to give me a trial run of Shaw’s new BlueCurve experience for a couple of months. A few months in, and I’m really impressed by the service. First off, Shaw BlueCurve is an amazing advancement in smart home technology where you can really manage your household’s internet usage, get more coverage (in every room of your home!) and access all sorts of data and controls for every single device that connects to your home’s Wi-Fi. 

From a design standpoint, the new Shaw BlueCurve Gateway modem is a serious upgrade visually. Gone are the awkward, wire-ridden boxes that used to clutter the spot by your TV — instead, say hello to the sleek and sexy box that looks more like a high-end speaker than something you connect to the internet from.  I was also set-up with the new BlueSky TV box that saves all my recordings to the cloud so I can watch them on-the-go using the FreeRange TV app. Again, a beautifully designed product, minimalist in design and slightly reminiscent of a geode in shape. Goodbye oversized, heat-radiating PVRs of the past.

The next most important part of Shaw BlueCurve is the Shaw BlueCurve Home app. It’s essential and extremely helpful for monitoring your internet usage. On this easy-to-use app, you are able to set up different profiles for everyone in your home and link devices to each profile. This helps you organize what devices you use on a regular basis and maybe what you could probably unplug (energy savings are always a plus).

Not only that, but the functionality of Shaw BlueCurve is super ideal for parents who want to manage their children’s internet usage. There is a feature within the Shaw BlueCurve Home app that allows you to turn off Wi-Fi for the different profiles and/or devices, set bedtime schedules or completely remove devices from internet connectivity. This is super ideal for parents of internet-obsessed teens and gamers who really want control over their internet usage and connectivity. 

My son doesn’t have any devices of his own yet but likes to watch Netflix and YouTube on the TV. He briefly used my iPad for games when he was a bit younger but I quickly nipped that in the bud as I noticed how addictive it was for him. He isn’t the type of kid who sits in front of the TV zoned out watching a show; he never stops moving or chatting so I don’t consider this kind of screen-time particularly harmful for him as it is just kind of background noise as he builds his LEGO City sets. 

So, for now, he has access to the TV but doesn’t actually know how to use the remotes yet so essentially it is still all in my control. The Shaw BlueCurve Home app helps me set limits for how much screen time he is actually getting during the day so we can focus on other learning and outdoor activities instead of getting sucked into a content vortex!

Another amazing feature of this internet package is the Shaw BlueCurve Pods. A seriously awesome addition to the regular internet service, these sleek, off-white pods can be placed around your home to further extend your internet connection. This is extremely welcome in my home which is located in a 1912 heritage building complete with thick plaster/lathe walls. I wasn’t actually receiving Wi-Fi coverage in my bedroom until I got a Pod installed in there so I am very happy about that! 

I’m also loving the fact that I am able to restart the Shaw BlueCurve Gateway from the Shaw BlueCurve Home app remotely. No longer do I have to sit at the modem, messing around with cords to make sure that I’ve got the right one disconnected to reboot everything. It simply resets directly from the app. While you are at it, you can also check on the connectivity of your Shaw BlueCurve Pods. 

Overall, the experience has been a pretty big upgrade in terms of internet connectivity. Being able to monitor Jack’s internet usage and hit pause on certain devices is going to be a game-changer as he gets older and starts using more internet resources. As for myself, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on my own internet usage, me and the dozen devices I have currently in use in my profile. 

This post is in partnership with Shaw. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that are keeping this blog full of fresh content. 

AN ERA OF NOSTALGIA: LAURA ASHLEY

Growing up in the ’90s meant a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Fashion, music, pop culture all rapidly jumped from one hot topic to the next; present day excluded it was the first decade where all of styles and ideas of preceding muddled to create an odd sort of cultural melting pot. Style of the 90s had an emphasis on nostalgia; you could channel anything and anyone from any time.

There was nothing precisely distinct about the 1990s but you kinda know it when you see it, especially now as we are seeing a resurgence of 90s fashion appearing and feverish feelings of nostalgia are ultra-present.

For me, British textile designer Laura Ashley epitomized nostalgia for my ’90s childhood. As a child who perpetually looked to other eras for comfort, Laura Ashley padded my overly active imagination with daydreams of frolicking through flowered meadows at dusk, enjoying a leisurely picnic under an apple tree, and dipping my toes into a cool stream while reciting poetry to no one in particular. My already romance-addled mind was absolutely intoxicated by Sunday night episodes of Road to Avonlea, thumbing through the American Girl doll catalogue (picking out my dream pair of high-button black boots)and visits to our local Laura Ashley shop.

I remember spending hours with my Mom in the Laura Ashley boutique, considering toile after toile, trying on so many beautiful dresses, straw hats and imagining my fantasy life in which I’d wear them all the time. My Mom, who in modern day would be the ultimate Pinterest/Instagram Mom, captured so many great photographs of myself living out my fantasy in our lush plant-filled front yard. In my opinion, some of the photos sum up my inner self more than any other photo taken since. Also an avid sewer, my Mom purchased their fabrics and made my room so beautiful and magical; totally fit for someone who was able to escape into literature (Laura Ingalls anyone?) for hours and hours, while of course, wearing a frock.

When I saw that Laura Ashley had collaborated with Urban Outfitters on an Exclusive Collection, my head was instantaneously filled with near-psychedelic images toile and floral. I asked my mom to dig up some of the photos she had taken of me in all of my floral-dress glory. I find it awe-inspiring and confusing how things have come full circle; even more mind-boggling is the fact that I’ve even considered buying one of the UO capsule pieces.

UO even has removable wallpaper and bed linens in their signature perriwinkle toile.

Whether you wore Laura Ashley in your youth, or are considering adding the soft, dream-like pieces from UO to your current wardrobe, one thing definitely remains the same: fashion is a beautiful escape from real life.

Life & Wellness with Freedom Mobile + iPhone X

Just over six months ago, I made a big change to my personal finances and connectivity; I switched my phone plan over to Freedom Mobile from one of their major competitors. I had been with that company since I was a teenager but they just weren’t providing me with the service I required anymore and I was overspending on my phone budget every single month. Switching over to Freedom has been a game-changer for me – transitioning my account over was entirely seamless and I’ve never had any issues connecting to their network this whole time. Before I switched to Freedom my phone bill was sometimes upwards of $135 – now it is $65 total. The best part is, I have so much data available I never have to stress out over adding more data to my plan halfway through the month. To help others understand what a change this has been for me, I am sharing some of the ways I use my iPhone in everyday life – for entertainment, fitness, connecting with family and making wellness a priority.

With so many articles and news stories telling us that we need to get off our screens and how harmful it is to constantly be connected on our devices it is hard to imagine that actual good can come from staring at our phones. But I am constantly finding that there are ways that my phone usage can actually contribute POSITIVELY to my life.

The new Screen Time feature on the iPhone has been a bit eye-opening in terms of how I’ve spent my time when using my phone. As much as it is disconcerting to see how much time you may have wasted scrolling through social media it is a good tool to change your ways. Phones are an essential part of life, so there is no getting away from that, but setting healthy boundaries and time limits on your screen time is a good way to be more present and avoid feeling guilty when that Screen Time notification rolls around at the end of the week.

One of my favourite ways to use my phone is to discover new music on Spotify. I can get lost on there, going down rabbit holes, from one artist to a new one, discovering beautiful music that speaks to me. In terms of wellness, music is definitely how I unwind and re-centre myself when I am feeling stressed out. I love that thanks to Freedom Mobile’s data plan, I’m able to stream new music wherever I am and not worry about overage charges.

Imagine this, but one of my main uses for my phone is actually one of its intended uses: connecting with family. My son and I use FaceTime everyday to chat with my parents. Even though we all live in the same city, it is so nice to be able to connect daily and see our family. My son loves to call his grandparents every night to say goodnight before bedtime. We also have been using apps like WhatsApp to have a family group text going. My brother was recently in Hong Kong for nearly two months for work and it allowed us to keep in contact, share jokes and see how he was doing despite the 15-hour time difference.

Keeping up with my personal health and wellness is also important to me and I use my phone to constantly track my progress. Using my FitBit watch and app, I am able to keep up with my fitness goals and make sure I am moving enough during the day (a problem for any self-employed person who spends a lot of time in front of a computer). Meditation apps like Headspace are great for creating a calming routine in the evenings before bed or taking a break when things get stressful.

I am always trying to find new ways to use my phone in a way that contributes to my life in a positive way. Ultimately, switching my account over to Freedom Mobile has been a huge part of that. Upgrading my phone to the iPhone X has expanded my creativity and the Freedom Mobile plan has helped me access the tools that I use regularly without worrying about going over my data plan. It is exciting to have so much possibility in the palm of your hands and I’m looking forward to continuing to explore these possibilities with Freedom.

This post is in partnership with Freedom Mobile. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep this blog full of fresh content.

IKEA SYMFONISK

If there is anything I could love more, it is when my two main obsessions, music and design come together in a beautiful symbiotic way. IKEA has officially announced their collaboration with Sonos; a two-item product collection bringing music to the home in an elevated, well-designed way, complete with the Swedish stamp of approval.

Sonos, a California company has quickly risen to the top of the wireless smart speaker market since 2002, revolutionizing how people listen to music on a daily basis. Their high quality speakers have made them the standard for audiophiles worldwide.

The IKEA Sonos SYMFONISK collaboration brings their iconic speaker down to a more affordable price point ($149) and the introduction of the SYMFONISK speaker lamp ($249) offers up the concepts of sound and light in one unit.

“We knew from the start that we wanted to challenge the traditional high tech aesthetics. The lamp-speaker partly springs from the idea of the fireplace – one single piece that spreads warm light as well as sound” says IKEA deisgner Iina Vuorivirta.

The SYMFONISK is compatible with all other Sonos components. You can also connect multiple SYMFONISK speakers in every room in y our home over WiFi. This has me very excited for the future of affordable sound quality. Also, depending on your personal decor needs, both products are available in both black or white.

SYMFONISK will be available nationwide in Canada as of of August 1st, 2019. And since my birthday is on August 2nd, I think this will be the perfect birthday gift to myself. Time to continue padding my record collection with new finds so that I am ready for the launch.

I love loud lamp. ♥

Covetable Christmas Gift-Giving with Big Savings

**This is a sponsored post in partnership with Kijiji Canada. All writing and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands who keep this blog full of fresh content.

I am just finishing up my year long partnership with Kijiji Canada this month. I was already a big Kijiji user and second-hand shopper before we worked together but I’ve learned so much more about the second-hand economy over the past year and I am so happy to share that knowledge with others. Beyond the amazing achievable savings by shopping second-hand on Kijiji, it truly is an amazing way to combat consumerism and reduce waste. Today, I’m so excited to be sharing my tips for saving a bit of money during the holiday season – namely how you can save big on all of those gifts you want to have under the Christmas tree!

It only took me a couple of Kijiji searches to find that there were SO many brand-new, in-box items to be scooped up. This Christmas season I was mainly hunting out cool, educational gifts for my son (who also has a birthday on December 30th) and I was amazed at how quickly I was tracking down all sorts of amazing gift ideas for such great prices. That being said, when you’re shopping for brand-new, in-box items please be aware that they go VERY quick. Especially at this time of year when many people are looking for ways to save a few extra dollars.

Since my son can’t read yet and doesn’t have regular Internet access, I’m excited to share the gifts I found for him on Kijiji as well as all the money I saved from buying second-hand, without the fear of him finding out!

Telescope

Jack has always been very interested in planets and the solar system. We’re lucky to be able to see a lot of stars from the windows in our home and Jack’s room has a particularly great viewing spot so I thought getting a telescope would continue to foster his interest in astronomy. I found a brand-new one for $30 on Kijiji, which was an approximate savings of $40 from the retail price.

Digital Camera

I am constantly taking photos for personal and work matters so it is only natural that Jack has shown interest in taking photos as well. As easy as it would be to just hand over my phone, these days I’m hyper paranoid about my phone being dropped so I figured getting his own little point-and-shoot would be the best option. I looked into “child-friendly” camera options online but they looked like pretty low quality and I wanted to get him something that would last. On Kijiji, I found this Polaroid Digital Camera new, in its package, for $40. At regular price, the cameras are around $69.99. With the money I saved, I was able to buy a new mini SD card for $20. I’m so excited to see what kind of images he captures.

Instant Camera and Film

Keeping in theme with photography, one of the best things in the world (at least to me!) is instant photography. Ironically, the digital camera I found was made by Polaroid and the instant camera I picked up is made by FUJI. I was lucky to find a gently used FUJI Instax Camera on Kijiji along with an unopened package of film for $50 total. The film alone usually goes for about $20 in-store and a new Instax sells for $89.99 at places like Urban Outfitters. I think we will have loads of fun with this over the holidays.

Microscope Kit

Jack is also very interested in science and exploring nature, especially since he started going to pre-school which is an indoor/outdoor program. I thought a microscope kit would be the perfect gift idea that will continue to grow with him as he learns more about science and the world. I bought it for $20 and when I looked it up they sell it at London Drugs for $49.99.

Overall, I saved $150 on all of these great technology and science gifts for my son! I am so excited to see him explore his creativity and curiosity in the year ahead. The financial benefits from buying used versus new are incredible. For example, according to Kijiji’s 2018 Report, you can save an average of $825 a year!

There is so much more than just great kids gift ideas on Kijiji; you can truly find something for everyone on there. You can find beautiful antiques and vintage items for the people in your life who love long-lost treasure. You can also track down an almost-new video game system complete with all of the games you could ever want (pro-tip: these go super fast! I was eyeing a couple of listings and they were gone before I could even think twice about it).

Seeking out second-hand holiday decor is another really great way to save some money this time of year. There is truly a never-ending surplus of second-hand decorations – think about shopping someone’s haul of twinkly Christmas baubles before hitting up the store for new decorations.

Or perhaps you’re on the other end of the buy/sell equation and you’d like to make a little extra cash at this busy, expensive time of year. Selling your unwanted things is a great way to find new homes for unused items that are sitting in your home. You can also gather some side income for your own holiday shopping. In fact, Canadians can earn an average of $1,134 by selling their second-hand goods – just think of all the amazing gifts you could purchase for family and friends with that money.

I hope you all have an amazing holiday season full of togetherness and joy and big savings! Happy second-hand hunting!

On The Go With Freedom Mobile

As a self-employed mom, I am constantly on the go and need to be able to access as much of my business as possible while I am out and about with Jack. After years of paying data overage fees and my plan getting more expensive every calendar year, I decided to switch over to Freedom Mobile. In partnership with Freedom, I was also able to upgrade my phone to an iPhone X – which was a big upgrade from my iPhone 6S. The camera alone has revolutionized my phone experience on a daily basis. I can shoot, edit and post my photos while connected to the Freedom network.

Since I switched to Freedom three months ago, I haven’t gone over my data once. I was so used to going over every month with my previous provider that I started to budget for that extra cost every month. That is a bit ridiculous, right? While my phone is essential to my everyday life and business – it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg every single month.

With my new plan, I’ve been able to keep up with all of my work and emails while on the go – instead of returning to my computer to an overwhelming inbox. I’m also able to keep up with my invoicing and finances which is a huge plus as I am often dealing with up to 20 clients at any given time. Every freelancer worth their salt, knows how important it is to keep on top of invoicing. There are so many great apps for self-employed people; I could probably create a giant list of everything that would be beneficial for freelancers to take advantage – ranging from receipt-keeping apps to time management programs. Today I just want to share my top three apps that help me everyday with my business.

Airmail

As a freelance writer who is constantly working on a variety of projects at any given time and has multiple email addresses for all of those different projects, I need an email platform that keeps things organized and functional for me. I’ve been using Airmail for a couple of years ago and it has definitely changed the way I work. The platform, for both iPhone and OS is super functional, designed beautifully and keeps all of my different emails organized and at the top of my to-do list.

Freshbooks Cloud Accounting

I’ve been using Freshbooks since I started out freelancing and it has saved my life, time and time again. It is the easiest way I can keep track of my incoming and outgoing invoices – making sure I always get paid on time and that I’m in communication with my clients. I also track all of my business expenses and receipts there – which ultimately helps me budget for the next year ahead.

BMO Bank of Montreal

If you don’t have your bank’s app on your phone, you should probably get it right away. I use mine constantly to check on my accounts and make sure I’ve got my savings in order. And now with the functionality to be able to deposit cheques into your account from home – this is a next level benefit for freelancers who are always relying on clients to send payments promptly. To be able to simply deposit your much-needed cheque from home is amazing.

Beyond all of the work I am doing on the go, I no longer worry about watching YouTube videos or streaming music on Spotify while I am out; my plan has more than enough data to keep Jack and I entertained at the same time.

Freedom just launched an amazing offer for the holidays called the 100GB Big Binge Bonus. And it is seriously next level amazing. This special limited-time offer gives customers 100GB of bonus fast LTE data in addition to their monthly data allotment. How incredible is that? This data can be used at anytime and comes at no additional cost to the customer.

The Big Binge Bonus is now available for new and existing customers when they sign up for a Big Gig plan starting at $60 per month with a new handset on a two-year term. The additional 100 GB Big Binge Bonus is automatically applied once a customer exceeds their monthly allotment. The data never expires as long as customers remain with Freedom Mobile on an eligible plan. Full terms and conditions of Big Binge Bonus can be found at freedommobile.ca/blackfriday

In the meantime, I’ll still be working away, balancing the whole freelance motherhood thing. I have another blog post coming out talking about how I like to use the iPhone X to get creative; whether it means writing down ideas as I go, shooting and editing photos on my favourite apps, or creating content for my social media accounts. How do you use your phone to get creative?

This post is in partnership with Freedom Mobile. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep this blog full of fresh content.

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