3+ ways to get fit for almost no money

by Ed

For me, fitness has been about two things:

  • First, Low cost - both in terms of time and money and 
  • Second, External Social pressure - to make me actually show up and work out. I am totally fine with letting myself down, but I’m not good at disappointing others, so building that (psychosis) into my routine has helped too.

I’m not here to tell you how to leverage your own personal manias, but I can help with the first part.

Over the last few years, I’ve tried to limit my fitness spending to the cost of a pair of shoes. Here are the tools that have helped me make regular physical fitness part of my life on a budget.


How to Make a Paneled Wood Basement Ceiling on a Budget

Intro by Robin
Steps by Ed

This ceiling! I adore how it turned out and I can't believe how little it cost.  Less than $150 for the whole room!  Whaa!??!  Yes!

We were unhappy with the old ceiling. 14 years ago - in our beginner DIY days - we put up the only easy, affordable ceiling we could think of: cardboard, acoustic ceiling tiles.

This photo doesn't show well enough how awful these looked in person, they sagged in spots and had chipped edges that showed cardboard brown through them.

Now, ceiling tiles are a great, budget option and they served us well for years.  But they have their challenges.  If one gets damaged - which is what happened to us a bunch of times - it's really tough to replace it.  Each one slides into the one before it and is stapled.  Easy install the first time = nearly impossible to fix.

And, they aren't much to look at.  In a strange role reversal, this ceiling tile issue bothered Ed more than me.  They drove him around the bend, while I was merely indifferent.  This almost never happens!  

We priced out a few available options - including some new products geared towards basement ceilings.  We had seriously entertained a product that would have cost us about $1000 for this approximately 100 square foot room.  And the more we researched it, the more we leaned away from it.  My big hang up was that it couldn't be painted.  I don't like limits, especially when it comes to colour.  I LOVE colour and this product would seriously cramp my style.

So we resorted to our old standby for idea generation: wandering through the aisles Home Depot and hoping a solution jumps at us.  It worked! 

We love when we can discover a new product that we didn't know existed - especially when it solves our problem perfectly.  (This is precisely what happened with our $50 bathroom floor a few years ago.)  

Eurkea!  We found a great product that let us make our basement ceiling on a budget - and a wood panelled one at that!  It wasn't that hard and it turned out really well. 


WiFi Weak Spots at Home? Don't upgrade your service! Try these 6 internet boosters.

By Ed

WiFi weak spots are frustrating and common.  Did you know there are some simple things you can do to boost your wifi signal strength without spending much money or hiring someone?  Yes - you can totally DIY your internet range!

For many people, Internet service and Wifi have entered the same category as electricity and plumbing. And while I agree with the 'it's pretty essential now' part, I don't think you need to give it near the respect that people have for flowing current and water.

Simply put, tinkering with your wifi signal won't get you killed or flooded.  It will likely just, you know, boost your signal strength.

With some experimenting, you may find that you can seriously improve signal reception in all parts of your house.

I've even stretched ours to the point where it covers the front porch, back deck, detached shed/workshop and (on a good day) the kid's clubhouse in the far corner of our yard (about 80' from the router).

I've done all of this with a very affordable budget router  - and a few other snazzy add-ons. So before you lose it and call your Service Provider and pay for a better package or upgraded router like an expensive MESH system try some of these things first.


How to Make Vertical Shiplap Paneling (on the cheap!)

Intro by Robin
Steps by Ed

I LOVE a dramatic before and after - you too?  And this room has me smitten.  

Our vision was to create a cozy welcoming guest room that doesn't feel like it's in the basement.  Have we achieved that?

I can't get enough of this before and after!  It was just a dreary, bland box that screamed BASEMENT!  Maybe a step up from sending our guests into a dungeon room filled with hand me downs.  

Instead of saying, "Welcome, friend" it said something more along the lines of, "Don't get too comfortable.  You aren't staying long."

Of course, as always, our second goal was to achieve this transformation on a budget.  This project is a great example of doing more with less.  See that lovely green panelling in the after photo?  That cost us about $25 - including paint!  

If you're curious as to how we made beautiful vertical shiplap paneling on a budget, we've got you covered.  It all started with a leftover material from our wall-to-wall bookcase...


20+ Delicious Summer Salads that Keep Well for Days!

by Robin

I LOVE me a salad that keeps for days - and I adore how often these recipes get better with time!  Some kind of magic happens in the fridge - that turns a great tasting salad into something even more wonderful with some time for the ingredients to get to know each other.

Why I also love lettuce-free salads for summer is their sheer convenience.  I am a faithful meal planner during the school year - it keeps us on track for time and budget!  But, for some reason, when school's out I slack off almost completely.

We have this blind spot when planning our summer meals: Summertime meal planning sounds like, "We'll just barbecue something. No problem."  And then Ed fires up the BBQ and grills something wonderful.  Problem is 5 minutes before supper he pops his head inside and says, "Oh yeah, we'll need a vegetable."  And then we scramble.

We don't ever forget vegetables during the school year!  What happens to our brains in summer?!  If we're lucky there's something we can harvest from our driveway vegetable garden, but sometimes we're a bit stuck.

This is where salads that keep well show their quality: they can happily be waiting in the fridge for when we forget to plan something.  They're also wonderful for potlucks and parties - make them days ahead and there's no frantic prep right before.

I created this 3-Minute Broccoli Coleslaw with this in mind.  It was inspired by an absolutely delicious coleslaw that my mother-in-law often makes.  As usual with my recipes - I took her's and figured out how to make it in the laziest way possible.  The results are fast, easy and pretty healthy.

What follows is 20+ more ideas for great make-ahead salad recipes that keep well - and get better!


How to Make a Small High Basement Window Look Bigger (with Trim and Blinds!)

by Robin

Have you got one of these too? A basement room with a weirdly small and awkwardly high window?  If you have a below grade basement, chances are you do.  It's so frustrating - how do you make it look less odd?!

I can't wait for you to see what we did to solve this problem in our basement guest room!  With just trim and cheap bamboo blinds, we made this odd little basement window look - dare I say it - beautiful.  And it was so easy!

Check it out...

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3+ ways to get fit for almost no money