Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Pomegranate Chocolate Bark Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

I feel very fortunate to have been gifted a large amount of delicious pomegranates the other day. Since I had so many pomegranates, I was looking for ideas of things to do with them. I made a fennel salad with lemon, olive oil, salt, and pomegranate arils/seeds. I made delicious pomegranate chicken with pomegranate seeds, onions, salt, and garlic. I roasted pumpkin with cinnamon and olive oil and sprinkled it with pomegranate seeds before serving. And I also made homemade jello, adding pears and pomegrates to it before chilling.
But the one thing my freinds kept on suggesting for me to make when I asked for suggestions of things to do with pomegranates was making chocolate bark. I looked up and found a whole bunch of different types of recipes, and this is what I threw together using what I had in the house. It came out so amazingly; the combination of flavors and textures was simply delectable. While I made mine with exactly what was written below, this recipe is flexible, and if you don't have or can't use any of the ingredients listed, feel free to replace them with something else.
I made my pomegranate bark frozen. It actually was an accident that it was frozen- I simply stuck it in the freezer to chill/harden quickly since I was working with a clock, and then forgot the pomegranate bark in there too long, until it froze completely solid. I didn't attempt to defrost it since the arils probably would lose their texture once defrosted, but I have to say that it was just so delicious frozen that I think future times I make this, I will intentionally make it frozen, because it was even more of a treat, in my opinion, that way.
This recipe is good for so many different types of diets, from gluten free to paleo to vegan, etc... and the best part of it is that it's pretty easy to make as well.

Pomegranate Chocolate Bark Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health Without Breaking the Bank

I'm a huge proponent of taking care of your mental health. But I, as well as many other people know, that mental health care is not cheap, not by a long shot, especially if your insurance isn't willing to pay for it. Here's a post by Gemma with suggestions of ways that you can take care of your mental health without blowing your budget. Yes, some of the suggestions aren't free, but you're worth it. You're worth taking care of and getting better, even if it means needing to cut things out of your budget in other ways to be able to afford to take care of your mental health.

Your mental health is important. Seriously, if you don't take care of your mental health and you need to, that will lead you to being non functional and that's not a good idea. But why does it have to cost so much to see a psychiatrist for treatment? How can you keep your peace of mind if you have to spend all your money to do it? Rest assured, there are ways to get around this problem. Some of them are obvious and others are seriously cunning and even a bit brilliant if I do say so myself.

Basic Feel Good Methods

If you do not think you need to talk to someone yet or you are uncomfortable doing so, there are some self-help methods that can be beneficial for you. These include:

  • Eat healthy
  • Get enough sleep
  • Exercise more
  • Get a hobby
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Take a nap
  • Talk to your friends and family

Talk is Cheap (Free)

First of all, you have probably heard the saying “talk is cheap” right? Well, that is a lie. Talk is not cheap, it is free. You do not have to pay anyone to listen to you unless you want to. You have some friends, right? If not (I am sorry), you have family, right? If not, no wonder you need mental health care. Really, though, you do not have to pay for therapy if you just want to talk to someone. There are plenty of free chat rooms or support groups on mental health source websites such as www.betterhelp.com. No cost to you, no need to make an appointment or even leave your home! Perfect!

When You Need Professional Help

However, if you are really feeling depressed or anxious and need to talk to a professional, there are free therapy sessions for those who need it. In fact, betterhelp.com also offers free online therapy. No appointment needed and no need to leave the house for that either. They have over 2,000 licensed professional trained in every category of mental health there is from anxiety to depression and ADHD to PTSD. And if you decide you need to talk to a therapist on a regular basis, online therapy is much less expensive than traditional face to face therapy and also much more convenient.

Why Online Therapy Is Less Expensive Than Traditional Therapy

The reason online therapy is so much less expensive is because the cost to the therapist is so much cheaper. The therapist does not have the cost of leasing an office, paying office personnel, utilities and insurance costs, and they save a lot on transportation costs as well. So, they pass that savings along to their patients. Also, the therapist is able to work at their leisure, giving them more freedom to help multiple patients.

What is the Cost of Online Therapy?

If you want to be able to talk to a therapist online or by phone any time a day, seven days a week, the cost is approximately $35 to $70 per week. In contrast, the cost for traditional face to face therapy is between $150 and $250 per session. Using online therapy is also cheaper for you because you do not have to find a sitter, take off work, or pay for gas or other transportation. Not to mention it is convenient and you do not have to leave the house.

See my disclaimer.

Some Awesome Grocery Scores!

I was running low on food in my house, especially essentials such as produce and animal products, so I went shopping at the open air market and at a discount supermarket near me and I am so thrilled with what I bought that I wanted to share my scores! I didn't get around to posting this so quickly, so I've already used some of it, and I'm happy to share now what I did with them all.

Before I went to the open air market, I decided to quickly run into the nearby scratch and dent store, to see if there was anything worth buying there, hoping that they'd still have more gluten free grain free (and hence Paleo legal!) beer, not actually expecting that they'd have anything, because the way shopping at a scratch and dent store works is that their stock is constantly changing, because it's based on what they can get their hands on. (When I tried going back to buy more gluten free chocolate cereal after buying it the first time, there was nothing left on my second trip- once it passed its expiry date they took it off the shelves.)
Luckily they still had gluten free beer, and this time I decided to buy two entire cases of 24 bottles each, so a total of 48 bottles of gluten free beer for 57 cents a bottle or 28 dollars for the cases.

Then I tried going to all my usual haunts at the market, except it was Sunday, and most of the stalls were closed, and because it was later on in the day some that were open earlier had closed by then. One stall puts out its excess at the end of the day with a "free" sign, so I got a few sweeties and an orange.
Basically, I had to choose what I wanted to do. Buy at a more expensive shop, or take a chance with the cantankerous gentleman who runs a store with a variety of cheap produce, but no prices listed, who gets offended if you say any of the food he gives you looks gross, or ask prices. It is always a gamble shopping there because you never know the quality of the food you're getting or how many pounds you are getting for the price you paid. However, as I wasn't finding good prices in other stalls, I took the chance and paid $14.28 to the shopkeeper and got the following, which I weighed after leaving the stall to see if I really got good prices.
12 lbs artichoke
12.2 lbs persimmons
17.1 lbs pears
9.5 lbs bananas
All in all, it was a total of 44 lbs of produce for $14.28, making it be 32 cents a pound on average, which is amazing, as these other types of produce were being sold anywhere from 60-90 cents a pound in all the other stalls.

At another store I saw them selling perfect cucumbers and tomatoes for 33 cents a pound, a decent price, so I bought a total of 9.7 pounds for $3.14.

Now is the season when fresh garlic is being sold in my country, and most people just want the bulbs, even though they come with their greens attached, so I simply was able to help myself to a huge amount of garlic greens, also known as scapes, entirely for free.

All in all, that shop was $17.42 for my produce and $28 for the beer, for a grand total of $45.42.

Once I got home, I sorted through the produce, took out any gross bits, and separated the totally firm fruit from the fruit that was banged up. The firm fruit, I soaked in a bath of water with vinegar and soap and a drop of peppermint essential oil, to kill any mold spores or other spoilage inducing items that might have been on them from things they may have touched, to ensure they last longer. Once that was done, I rinsed them and dried them and put them in the fridge.
Meanwhilel, the soft fruit had any icky parts cut out of them, and then was chopped up and put in the freezer for use in desserts, smoothies, etc...
So far I've used the garlic scapes in stir fries, in my favorite cheese and greens sandwich, and in a tomato dip (simply blended up the scapes with tomatoes and a drop of my homemade mayonnaise) that guests raved about.
For the artichoke, some I boiled like regular, and ate them with dipping sauces. Others I removed the leaves from them and stuffed the hearts with a mix of ground beef and bread crumbs (leftover from making shnitzel) and grated zucchini (and seasoned with onion, lemon, and mint). They came out amazingly. The leaves that were removed from the chokes that I stuffed were then baked drizzled with honey and lemon and sprinkled with thyme and salt and they also were heavenly!

But that is not all, oh no- that is not all! I also had an absolutely amazing grocery shop at my local discount store.

First of all- they had tomatoes for 13 cents a pound!!!!!!!! I always wonder whether it is cheaper to make your own tomato sauce from scratch or buy it ready made, but at 13 cents a pound for tomatoes, there's no way it isn't cheaper to make your own. So I bought 34.5 lbs of tomatoes for $4.49, intending on turning them into tomato paste/sauce and either canning or freezing. So far I haven't done that yet, but I did make tomato salsa and canned that (6 jars for now). Since I knew I still had to find time to make the tomato paste, I did buy two cans, at $1.57 each to tide me over until I have a chance to make my own. I also bought a few packages of containers in which to freeze my ready tomato paste, for a total of $5.71.
This store sells chicken breast cheaply at $2.33 a lb, so I bought 6.39 lbs for a total of $14.89. This might not seem so cheap to you, as I can buy other parts of chicken cheaper per pound, but since chicken breast is pure meat and no bones, according to my calculations, as long as its under $3.25 a lb its a worthwhile buy, and this is significantly less than that.
My staple, chicken wings, are sold at this store for 64 cents a lb, so I bought 10.4 lbs for $6.63.
They were selling chicken thighs for $1.93 a lb, which is a pretty great price for chicken thighs, only from my calculations you pretty much get the same ratio of chicken to bones for thighs and wings, and since the wings were significantly cheaper per pound, I decided to skip the chicken thighs.
I did, however, buy two whole chickens, at 89 cents a pound, because whole chickens are fancier than chicken wings, or I can chop them up and have some thigh portions for when I want them, for significantly cheaper than the price of the chicken thighs. These chickens weighed in at 7.96 lbs and cost $7.14.
They were selling beef roasts at $2.33 a lb! That was so exciting for me! I love beef roast, as does most of my family, and since it's pure meat it's a great bargan! I bought two roasts, totalling 5.1 lbs for a total of $11.76.
And lastly, I also bought 8.8 lbs of 100% pure ground beef at $3.77 a lb, for a total of $34.20.
This shop totalled $87.96, and for the amount of meat I now have stocked in my freezer I'm thrilled with the cost.

The month is 2/3 of the way over, and my house is stocked to the brim, and my total grocery total so far this month has been $480, and my goal is to keep it under $571 and with shops like this, it is totally doable.

Have you gotten any great deals lately while shopping? What are your stock up prices for meat? What prices do you attempt to pay for produce?

3 Tips to Plan a Small Wedding on a Budget

My good friend just married off her daughter, who likes to do things very frugally and low key, so their wedding was that style. When I got married, my husband and I chose to tone down our wedding and keep the extra money to start our new life together. Here's a tip from a reader named Helen, about how to small a small budget wedding.

See my disclaimer.

Many of us need to plan a small, frugal wedding on a budget. Weddings are incredibly expensive these days and the average wedding in the United States costs anywhere from $25,000-$30,000. For many people, those amounts are just too much to spend on a single event, even though their wedding day is incredibly important to them.

To help cut down on costs, most couples realize that it’s better to have a smaller wedding to stick within their budget. As you know, bridesmaid dresses & bridesmaid gowns (by Azazie) certainly cost a pretty penny along with other expenses. So it’s best to keep your costs low by having a smaller wedding while splurging for the important things as long as it fits within your budgetary requirements.

With that in mind, we’ll now take a look at some of the best tips to help you plan a small wedding on a budget. Please use this information to your advantage so you can have your dream wedding without spending a fortune to pay for it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Beef in Cream Sauce with Greens Recipe- Paleo, Easy, and Delicious

I want to apologize for the state of this picture. This picture unfortunately does not do this food justice- it was absolutely divine tasting, yet the picture makes it look gross. It's something about the combination of a white sauce and beef, with the addition of greens that makes it look like a royal mess, but if you can look past that, hopefully you'll really love how delicious this meal is. Added benefit- it's rather allergy friendly, paleo, etc...

I got the idea because I had a package of beef to cook up and didn't have so much tomato paste at home to mix with it, and knew just how delicious creamy sauce is with beef, so went ahead from there. I used my new blender for this, as well as my standard green- sea beet, beta vulgaris maritima, wild swiss chard, in my dish, but any green that is non bitter would work, whether kale, spinach, regular swiss chard, nettles, etc... or you can just leave the greens out (I did that for 2 of my kids that threw a fit about having greens in their food). 
To keep this paleo, I served mine over roasted sweet potato cubes; I served everyone else's with gluten free pasta.

This recipe is great for people who try to avoid nightshades.

I highly, highly recommend this. So creamy and delicious and nourishing- it's got everything going for it other than a beautiful picture. And can I add that it was super easy to make as well? I even started mine with a hunk of frozen ground beef that I added to the pan of sauted onions, so even if you didn't have a chance to defrost your beef ahead of time, you can still make this supper easily.

Beef in Cream Sauce with Greens Recipe- Paleo, Easy, and Delicious

Five Ideas For Homemade Art To Brighten Your Home

I lived for a few years in a really tiny space, without any room for pretty much anything. We had little wall space, and most of the wall space that there was was filled with storage, not beautifying things. It really bothered me a lot, and at some point I decided that small space or not, I wanted my home to be beautiful, and I would do what I could to decorate my home on a budget. I hope you like this post by a reader with some ideas of how to beautify your home without breaking the bank.

Decorating your house with pieces of art can be an expensive task. Whether it be a painting, a huge canvas photo or fabric hanging from your walls, brightening up the rooms of your house can often cost more than the redecoration process did in the first place.
That is where homemade art can come in. There are so many ways in which you can take everyday items or even items that you no longer have any use for and turn them into cheap but classy pieces of art that can brighten up your home and impress any visitors.
Here are five ideas for homemade art to brighten up your home.

Fixing Our Dishwasher All By Ourselves

In the summer I posted about our new, practically free dishwasher, which really excited me. Washing dishes is the bane of my existence (that and laundry). We moved over all the things that were kept in the kitchen cabinet that got replaced with the dishwasher and found new homes for them, and Mike installed the dishwasher on his own (with just a little help from me) and we ran the first few loads with it. Yay!
And then we had problems.
Ok, to be honest, we had problems from the start, because the dishwasher got stuck at a certain point in the cycle and didn't continue unless you turned the knob to go on to the next cycle, and it didn't dry the dishes so well.
But then we had bigger problems. Each time we ran the dishwasher, we had water pouring out from somewhere, and our house became a flood zone.
So much for being excited about the dishwasher...

Some Overlooked Ways of Taking Care of Your Family, on a Budget

I'm a big proponent of taking care of your mental health. Without taking care of yourself and your family's mental wellbeing, you won't be able to do what you need to do to make the sacrifices necessary for living a frugal or extremely frugal lifestyle. Here are some ideas to take care of your family's mental health and emotional wellbeing, from a reader.

Everybody knows that following a healthy lifestyle is the single best way of cutting down your family’s medical bills. Still, just like man cannot live by bread alone, our total wellbeing consists of more than mere physical health.
Feelings of strain, helplessness, frustration and confusion are inherent in modern life and can, in time, lead to both mental and physical illness. There’s no real need to allow things to progress to that point, though: providing people with emotional release valves in a safe, familial context may be all that’s needed to forestall major problems later.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Awesome Clothing Swap Haul

Spring cleaning- don't you love it? I do- it's good motivation to finally go through my stuff and get rid of the clutter that's been intruding in my life. I went through my children's toys and sorted them out and took ot the things they never used, and then the rest, made sure to dedicate enough containers for the things they used most often. My kids love dress up and costumes and other make believe things, so 3 out of 8 of their boxes of toys have to do with dress up and make believe.

I also decluttered my clothing. I had so many pieces of clothing that I had just sitting in my bedroom, that didn't even fit with my clothing, that I never planned on wearing again (mostly sweaters in colors I realized were not flattering on me). And then there was some clothing that got passed on to me as hand me downs but my children weren't going to wear.

I was loathe to actually get rid of the clothing and toys, because they were good quality and even though I didn't want them, they were too good to throw in the trash. While we have a second hand store in my area, it's a pain to get to, and the hours are confusing for me, so I just never bring anything there.

I was really excited to hear that there was a clothing swap in my neighborhood. There have been others in the past recently, but the timing never worked out for me and therefore I didn't make it. But this swap was supposed to be a big one, and I loaded up my shopping trolley with all the clothes and other things I was getting rid of, and headed over with my eldest son Lee (the other kids were in school).

Here's what I came home with:

How to Embrace Minimalism

When you live in a small home, like my last one at 484 square feet, or my current larger but still small one of 925 square feet, especially with a family of six like I do, you have to be minimalistic, because there's only so much room to store things in your house. In general, being minimalistic is good for your budget- I hope you enjoy these tips from a reader about how to embrace minimalism.

Minimalism is another excellent alternative for budgeting. It means getting rid of the things or lifestyle activities that are not necessary for you. Also, a lot of people have reported succeeding in fulfilling their life's goals through minimalism. Some of the areas that people practice minimalism are in clothing, food and so on. It may be uncomfortable for the first time but once you master the way of leading a simple life everything will fall into place with no time.

Here's some tips on how to embrace minimalism.

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