Thursday, December 7, 2017

My Super Frugal Trip to Belgium- Part 1- Traveling to Brussels

I last posted when I was on the bus on the way to the airport in the middle of nowhere on Saturday night, and I am going to keep this relatively short (and I'm writing it at the airport in Belgium, waiting for my flight back home that leaves in 6 hours), because the next post will be about my day trip on Monday, which was amazing.... I was, at first, going to put this all in one post, and then I realized that it's so insanely picture heavy that I gotta divide it into two posts.

Sunday morning at 4:00 am we arrived in a city in my country that I'd long wanted to visit, but hadn't made it there beforehand, and the bus from there to the airport only left at 5:45 am. I thought I'd hang out in the bus station, but I didn't see any indoor part, so went with a few other fellow travelers in search of a bar or something that would be open at 4:30 am. Eventually we found one restaurant open, and I splurged and bought myself 2 non alcoholic drinks, totaling $5.70, so I had an excuse to sit there.

Apologies- my phone screen is a little cracked, so selfie mode ends up a little blurred at the edges. All selfie pictures therefore aren't so high quality, but frugal me isn't replacing or fixing it just yet... So you'll have to deal with my sub-par selfies.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Preparations For My Super Cheap Trip to Belgium

I'm writing this post from my phone so apologies if the formatting is messed up, there's only so much I can do on my phone.

I am currently on the bus on the way to the airport leaving to Brussels, Belgium. I didn't mention in my last post on the topic that I got insanely cheap tickets to Belgium specifically because I was flying from the boonies. Insane boonies. As in I have to leave now on the bus to be able to get to a far away city so that I can double back and take a bus to the airport from there. This, of course, adds an extra cost to my journey, and I've included those costs in the total tally for my trip. 
My bus to this far away city cost me $20 and the next bus should cost $5.70. I could have purchased a round trip ticket to this city for $35 but most likely on the way home from the airport I won't need to go to this far away city but can take a bus more directly home so I didn't want to book a round trip tickets. 

I wanted to share the things I've done thus far to prepare for my trip and keep down the costs. 

As I mentioned in my previous post on my trip, I didn't pay for checked luggage because that adds a tremendous cost to the airfare. Better spend more money there than pay more to bring more things. Only tonight, though, as I was finishing up my last minute packing did I take a closer look at the luggage allowance and saw that it was smaller luggage than allowed as carry on on my cheap flight with Lot airlines to Poland. Most curiously though they allow a suitcase within certain dimensions and a personal bag /laptop case with such small dimensions that my laptop itself wouldn't fit those dimensions. So I had to go run around measuring bags to see what I had that actually fit those scant dimensions and I found one of my husband's tool bags. So that's what I took and transfered the laptop into my carry on small suitcase which I weighed many times to make sure it fit the allotted 10 kg weight limit. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Never a Dull Moment

Around the time when my son, Ike, tends to leave school, I got a phone call from his teacher. She told me that he injured himself in school and still is in pain, so I should be aware and take a look at it when he gets home.

My mom is a physical therapist, and, as luck would have it, had told me five minutes beforehand that she would be visiting us this evening. When she came by, I had her take a look at my son's shoulder, since she usually is good at diagnosing sprains, showing exercises to help things feel better, and even able to move joints back into place that were out of alignment.

Unfortunately my mom told me that she doesn't think she can help, it looks dislocated to her, she even showed me how she could tell, and told me that I need to go to urgent care with Ike.

Ike was very scared, was afraid that putting it back into place would hurt him.... I tried to reassure him, but did know that when my mother dislocated her shoulder 11 years ago she said putting it back into place hurt more than childbirth, so I didn't want to get Ike's hopes up.

Steps to Building a Better Relationship with Money

This post was written by Nancy Evans, a reader who loves to help people improve their financial situation, through various means.

Does the thought of having more money lead you to believe that you’d have an easier life? If so, you’re not alone. Most people have been taught to believe that the pursuit of riches is ultimately the key to a happy life. While it may seem like the case, if you ask a celebrity who’s reached a certain caliber of financial success, they’ll quickly tell you that money can often create more problems. The truth is, you must change the way you relate to money. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier to achieve true wealth.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Anneliese's New DIY Haircut

My nearly 6 year old daughter, Annelise, has gone through all sorts of permutations with her hair. First long-ish, then with bangs, then short into a pixie cut, then grown out, and it had nearly reached her lower back, and in my opinion, was so beautiful on her, and I was able to do all sorts of beautiful hairstyles on her. 

But every single morning, brushing her hair has been a fight. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

A Last Minute Trip to Belgium

I know, I know... I said I was going to Cyprus in February, got a Black Friday deal.... but while I was looking at the website a few days ago, Sunday, I saw super cheap tickets, also 25 dollars round trip, to Brussels, Belgium... On Sunday. This Sunday, the 3rd of December. Coming back Thursday, December 7. I actually had noticed that on Thursday when I bought my tickets to Cyprus, and strongly considered buying it then, but was unsure... Yesterday, though, my friend convinced me that it wasn't a stupid decision to go, it was so cheap and I could totally do it at this point in my life (with my kids old enough and 3/4 in school, etc.), so I bought tickets.
After first checking that I'd be able to find cheap accommodations in Brussels, of course. Because cheap airfare and non affordable sleeping accommodations isn't exactly a frugal move.
I found accommodations for the nights that I'd be there for 48 dollars total (it would have been 22 more, but I had 22 dollars in AirBnB referral credit) which is really decent, considering...

I had seen cheap tickets to other cities, some even cheaper than this (if you can imagine) and some exactly this price (other cities in Poland than where I'd been, Romania, and a few different cities in Germany), but what made me decide that Brussels was where I wanted to go was the fact that my maternal grandfather was from Brussels, Belgium, leaving in the middle of World War Two, and I am curious to learn about his birthplace.

This might seem excessive to you- so many vacations and trips. For my tenth anniversary. Then Poland this past summer. Now Belgium. Then Cyprus in February... but as I wrote in my introduction to my cookbook, I've always had a love of adventure and travel, but just never could afford it, so I had to shelve it and make do with having adventures via foraging and cooking exotic meals. But it's not something that I ever stopped desiring. I just couldn't.
On top of that, having little nursing ones at home meant that I couldn't leave them...
But if I could manage to fulfill my love of travel without going over budget, then that is something that my heart desires so badly it could burst.
Even if that means buying a ticket last minute to travel exactly one week from the date of purchase and then rushing around to get all the arrangements made to make it happen.

This trip will be as low budget as they come. The only expenses I am planning on paying are airfare, transportation to and from airports (and am doing that as cheaply as I can manage, even if it means more of a headache because the airports I'm flying in and out of are all the way in the boonies), airbnbs, cell phone, and insurance, and public transportation while there. I'm bringing as much food along as I can manage in my carry on bags (not paying extra for checked luggage) (and will be bringing the barest minimal of changes of clothing to save room for food) so I don't need to buy expensive food there or pay for restaurants.
I've researched a bunch of free activities to do in Brussels including 4 free tours (I do plan on leaving them tips after, so that is an additional cost), and free museums. The days that I'm going are actually pretty lucky, since many museums in Brussels specifically are free the first week of the month, most of them the first Wednesday of the month, which I've dubbed museum day.
I've also been in touch with my grandfather's brother, the only sibling still alive, who gave me information on where my grandfather's family used to live, where my great grandfather (and name sake) had a shop and even told me about a mini museum about their street and area that is there today. So I plan on checking that out too.

The one extra expense that I decided to have is taking a train to Bruges, Belgium (pronounced Brooj'), known as "Venice of the North" because of its canal system, similar to Venice.

From descriptions and pictures I've learned that it has much of what Venice has to offer, only without it being as much of a tourist trap as Venice. I've dreamed of going to Venice for years and years, specifically because of the canals... and I'm hoping that going to Bruges will fulfill that desire, something to check off my bucket list.

Taking the train to and from Bruges will actually cost me more than my flight to Brussels... 36 dollars, but I do think it will be worth it. Everyone who's been to Bruges talks about how amazing it is.

Anyhow, I'm really excited about this trip, and plan on tallying up every single expense I have to see how much it costs me. My goal- under 200 dollars. I think that is totally doable. But under 250 tops.

Hopefully, now that I've discovered how to find airfare abroad so cheaply, I can more regularly blog about dirt cheap travel....

And now to get ready for my trip!!!

Do you have and/or understand a wanderlust, a love of travel? How do you satisfy yours without breaking the bank? 
Ever been to Belgium, Brussels specifically? Or Bruges? If you have suggestions of things that I can't miss while I'm there, or suggestions of how to do it frugally, I'd love to hear. And if any blog readers live in the general area, and want to come to Brussels or Bruges to meet me, let me know, and send me an email to pennilessparenting@yahoo.com.

Saving On Bedroom Furniture

If you are familiar with my blog, then you are definitely aware of some of my extreme frugality. Today I wanted to tackle bedroom furniture because the holidays are approaching so there will be some serious sales. Also, after the holidays markdowns could come in handy for this big of a project.

So, you want to redecorate your bedroom or maybe you are only looking to add a few new pieces? Either way, you should be able to find some seriously great deals if you do your homework. I’m here to give you a few tips on how to start because I want you to get the best deal for your money.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Our New Homemade Wooden Entry Gate

My youngest, Rose, posing in front of our new entry gate. Silly girl.

We live in a building complex with 8 other apartments in one building. There are 4 townhouse like apartments, and then 4 more apartments on top of them. If you can imagine, there isn't much privacy there. Though all we bottom floor dwellers have yards, front and back, these yards are just separated by a thin metal fence. Everyone can easily look into each others' yards and lives, and while I enjoy the feeling of community, there's something nice about having privacy as well. What especially bothered my husband was having no front gate, because our small front yard, to him, felt like it was more public property and part of the "outside world" than part of our own house.

Mike decided to build this wooden fence to close our entrance. It was entirely built from scratch.... no, not using pallet wood, but using wood he bought from the hardware store. He spent 60 dollars on this wood and had more left over to use for other projects. The other hardware was a dollar or two, and hence negligible.

Don’t Break Your Budget This Holiday

With the holiday seasons coming up, finances could be very stressful for many families, with pressure (either externally or from within) to buy the nicest presents, do the nicest things, which can certainly take a toll on your pocketbook. My plans? To get all the gifts from Wish.com, and mainly get gifts for the entire family to enjoy (I got two Perplexus maze balls and the game Sushi Go, among other things.) Here are some more tips from a reader about how to save money this holiday season.

When the season’s all about proving your generosity by spoiling the ones you love, the holidays pose a huge challenge to anyone on a budget. The average American spends more than $900 on the season, but your wallet isn’t prepared for that kind of responsibility.

Between the gifts under the tree, the family feast, and the cost of travel, the festivities can take a chunk out of your budget whether you’re ready or not. If you count yourself amongst those struggling to celebrate the holidays, then you’ve come to the right place. You can get the most out of the season without breaking the bank by following these strategic steps.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Easy Peasy Homemade Pizza Recipe -- Gluten Free and Regular Options Using #TheRecipe

In a local easy cooking group, a few weeks ago, a woman named Maya changed so many people's lives by sharing a super easy pizza recipe. It took off by a storm, that then got dubbed and hashtagged #therecipe. Most people who made this pizza recipe loved it including their kids, and the ease was best of all. 

The original recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of quark cheese (a soft spreadable cheese with a consistency similar to Greek yogurt), and 2 teaspoons of baking powder. Mix it together, roll it out, top it, and bake.

Simple enough, yes?

Only we don't eat gluten in our house. So #therecipe probably wouldn't work for us.

But my kids were begging for me to make pizza, so I figured I'd give it a try and see if I could make it using gluten free flour.

It worked.

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