Friday, June 15, 2018

My Husband Fixed Our Washing Machine!

As a mother of four kids, you can imagine our washing machine gets really heavy use. I'm also not so great at keeping up with the laundry, so often when I get down to it, I have a bunch of loads to do in one go. For example now we have about two large laundry baskets in desperate need of washing.
And yesterday I noticed that our washing machine wasn't working. I mean it would start, but it didn't matter how many times we reset it, it would always stop at a certain point in the cycle.

I asked Mike to take a look at it this morning, but no matter what he did, no matter what cycle he put in or what buttons he pressed same thing.

Organo Gold Takes The Legend Of Coffee To Supreme Sophistication And Health

Just this morning, I was talking to my dad about my perpetual exhaustion, and he asked me if I drink coffee. When I told him no, he said that in his opinion, life isn't worth living without coffee. That's a common sentiment. I used to hate coffee, then I learned to love it and drank it daily. Unfortunately last year my psychiatrist told me that I'm not allowed to have coffee or any other stimulants, because it would make my anxiety worse. Going off of it, I did see a big difference, but I do miss my coffee. For those of you who are coffee lovers, here's something interesting about the history and culture of coffee.

When you really think about it, coffee has some interesting and powerfully strong roots.

The popular beverage is consumed by millions of people on the daily, and most could not imagine their world without that first cup of morning joe. The News Version recently took a deeper look at the staple and how it has been able to maintain its delightful place in culture and history.

No one is exactly sure where coffee was born so many centuries ago, but there is evidence that the beverage seemed to evolve in the Middle East in countries like Turkey, Syria, Persia and Egypt. Those regions fell in love with the staple around the 16th century, and after that, the incredible tropical shrub never looked back. Coffee reached Europe by the 17th century and was enjoyed as a social activity and served in homes, at businesses and the coffee houses of days gone by.

As the years rolled along, the dark black beverage went through multiple, creative changes and developed into a wonderful variety of flavors, textures and aromas. Every region had its perfect blend, recipe and way to enjoy it.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Reflections on the Evolution of this Blog and the Pursuit of Money Mindfulness

I'd planned on writing a whole long post in honor of my 8th bloggiversary... January 2 started my 9th year of blogging, which I have to say feels like quite the accomplishment.... But life got in the way and unfortunately this planned post is nearly six months late. Oh well.

In honor of my bloggiversary I wanted to reflect on all the changes that have happened in my life that have happened since I started my blog, and consequently the change in direction this blog has taken.

When I first started this blog my husband was working a minimum wage job and I was working a minimum wage part time job, and we were not making it through the month. We truly were Penniless, our expenses were minimal but even so they were more than we could afford, and we made the decision not long after starting my blog to downsize to an apartment half the size of our original small one, to a teeny tiny house with our two small kids, in order to save a few hundred dollars a month.

My blog reflected my life at the time. Extreme frugality. Cutting corners every single way we could. As someone put it 'pinching pennies so hard they scream'. Things like making every single thing from scratch, nearly only vegan meals, foraging most of my produce, using cloth toilet paper and cloth diapers and making presents from scratch. My clothes were all from clothing swaps and second hand stores and I literally tried to spend absolutely nothing extra that I didn't have to.

Quality of life? Well, I'm the type of person who is so good at pretending everything is all right that sometimes I even convince myself that everything is all right when it is not. I was all `mind over matter' and thought that if I just focused on all the good things I had in life, the areas in which I was a 'have not' wouldn't bother me. I blogged about that more or less, and while I wouldn't exactly say I was lying, because it wasn't intentional or 100% accurate, in retrospect all my posts about how amazing and rich my life was, even without money, might not have been a little misleading. Because in all honestly, I was misleading myself. But when you're going through such a situation, what other choice do you have? To just be miserable and mopey and think about how sucky your life is? The better alternative is to focus on the benefits of such a lifestyle and be on denial about how hard it is and how bone weary tired you are all the time from it. You might not realize, though, if you become good enough at faking it that you have yourself fooled as I did. Back then I might have written posts that seemed to glorify poverty or similar.

Fortunately with time, random occurrences, and some miracles and my mother's extreme generosity, our financial situation changed. My husband's income went up significantly, my income went up significantly, and we also get disability payments because of my son's autism. These things definitely made it easier for us to breathe financially, and I was able to stop doing some of the extreme frugality things I had been doing. I stopped making everything from scratch, especially gifts, and reconsidered my stance on gifting period, and instead started focusing on things that I felt were better from scratch, like most foods, which I am able to make just as good if not better quality when made from scratch, and for cheaper.

In short, my style of frugality changed tremendously. Instead of it being "do whatever I can as cheap as absolutely possible, and don't spend any money more than necessary" my motto and method in life when it came to frugality became something along the lines of "spend less on the things you don't care about so that you have the money available for the things that matter to you". This outlook, I'll admit, is one that I am actually privileged enough to be able to have. Because beforehand, when money is so extremely tight, you don't really have that wiggle room; its not like you can just "cut out those lattes" and be able to afford extra. You aren't spending money on lattes, you aren't spending any money on extras, and you still have nothing to spare. And it really sucks.

Insider Hacks To Buying A High-Quality, Yet Cheap, Mountain Bike

I grew up bike riding all the time. My sister and I bike rode to the nearest pool for our swimming lessons every day in the summer. We bike rode to parks. My boys currently have bikes that they're outgrowing, and I probably need to get them larger sizes. Currently, though, my husband and I don't have any bikes, and this post from Dave Henly gives some great ideas on how to get your money's worth when buying a mountain bike.

Like most twelve-year-olds, I saved up every penny of my allowance money all winter so I could buy a new bike.

At the first garage sale we stopped at the next spring, I struck gold: a 12-speed Huffy mountain bike. It was black and neon green, an ideal color for a child of the nineties like myself.

From that moment on, I discovered that bicycles were an engineering nightmare. Flat tires -- which I had learned how to fix on my small bike -- required navigating a jumble of gears and brakes.

And the gears and brakes created added problems. The cables would break or would refuse to shift.
It was frustrating, and, after a few weeks, my bike was relegated to its spot in the rain, leaned up against the storage shed.

Over the next four years, the system repeated itself. I would purchase a bicycle, only to have it break on me. After taking it apart and trying to fix it, my frustrated little self would lean it on the pile and go in search of my next ride.

When I turned 16, my experience began to improve. I purchased my first-ever Cannondale. It wasn't the right size for me, but it worked exceptionally well, was easy to repair, and held up well under all of the mileage. Plus, it could handle off-road riding without disintegrating into a bunch of broken pieces.

As a parent, you want to get the best price. At the same time, you need a bicycle that is not going to require maintenance every weeknight after work.

A bike that your kids will love.

There is a silver lining to my childhood bike struggles; I learned how to repair bicycles. This skillset landed me a college job, working at the local bike shop.

During my time in the industry, I've learned a few, solid, tips that you can use to get the best deal on your next bike.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Restaurant Style Pasta with Three Cheese Sauce Recipe -- Easy, Gluten Free, and Delicious

I debated whether or not to post this recipe here on my blog, because, quite frankly, it is not frugal. But... now that I came clean about having mental health issues, I can also explain some other stuff, and now it'll make sense. I've been trying to do a lot of self care for myself, to keep myself in a good place, and I try not to do it so spendily, but sometimes I do spend money on things and I'm ok with that. One of the self care type stuff I've done lately is buy a takeout cheesy pasta dish from a restaurant when going to the open air market and I hadn't had a chance to eat a good meal yet that day. It's not super expensive, something like $15, and it was delicious and really satisfying and all that. But if I could recreate it at home, even better.

Anyhow, today I had a really rough day and I didn't have an appetite for pretty much any food. It got to 6 pm without my eating even a single bite of food, because nothing appealed to me. My good friends, hearing what was going on, asked me if there was any food I was in the mood to eat, and the one thing that came to mind was pasta with cheesy mushroom sauce. Well, if that's what my mood called for, if that's the comfort food I needed, then I was going to get the ingredients for it, even if from my local mom and pop's store, and make it.

I will admit that this isn't a frugal recipe, especially not when using ingredients purchased from the corner store, but this recipe did make enough to feed my entire family, and have leftovers for another meal or two, for approximately what one serving cost at my favorite restaurant. So it's more frugal than going out, and just as much of a pick me up. And it's also super simple and easy to make. Plus gluten free. Oh, and I have written before that I have a sensitive stomach; the dairy in this recipe is more easy on the stomach, as it's made with only aged cheeses and cream, all easier to digest (for me anyhow) than standard cheese and regular milk.

I couldn't figure out what to call this recipe, because what I really wanted to call it was "Grown up mac and cheese", but restaurant style pasta with three cheese sauce will have to do.

Restaurant Style Pasta with Three Cheese Sauce Recipe -- Easy, Gluten Free, and Delicious

Monday, June 11, 2018

Breaking The Stigma on Mental Health Counseling

I had planned on writing this post already a few weeks, ago, and then with the recent high profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, the topic seemed even more timely than before.

I read this piece that said that Kate Spade's death reminds us that we really need to destigmatize mental health issues, and everything the author said was 100% true. For that reason, when I hear about celebrities talking about their own mental health issues, and that they go to therapy, my view of them goes way up. I happen to really love Kristen Bell and how she acts (though I haven't seen the more inappropriate movies she was in) and when I saw that she wrote this love ballad to her therapist, I began to like her as a person and not just an actress, because she's doing a great job destigmatizing mental health counseling.

Here's the hilarious and heartwarming song. Warning; there is a curse word in it (for those who are sensitive to foul language), but she really manages to explain how many people with great therapists feel about their therapists.

And her talking about this, and the other high profile suicides plus a lot of introspection have given me the confidence to do something I haven't had the guts to do beforehand.

I'm coming out of the closet. I can't really write about breaking the stigma about mental health counseling and mental health issues in general when I myself am perpetuating the stigma by refusing to acknowledge my own issues.

So here it is. I go to therapy. Mental health counseling. Whatever you want to call it.

Save Money on Amazon with DealGoGoGo

Are you as much a fan of shopping online as I am? When you're a busy person, whether because you're a full time mom taking care of your children, or you work out of the house many hours, or even if its just that you're a home maker and you're spending lots of time taking care of your home, especially frugal pursuits that can be time consuming, we all know that sometimes short cuts are really worthwhile. When you're able to save time doing something, and you also save money at the same time, that's when you really hit the jackpot. That is one of the reasons I love shopping online so much. Amazon is one of those great places to shop online, because it is very centralized, and you can find anything in one place and compare prices all without needing to leave your home, and often even cheaper than you can buy in person.

To make online shopping at Amazon even cheaper, there are many coupon codes and coupon code websites out there. I was contacted by DealGoGoGo, a company that tries to revolutionize how you shop on Amazon, and I've tried it out, and I have to say it's pretty nifty how it works.

The way you use DealGoGoGo is you simply open this link, then add their extension to your Google Chrome browser. (Takes about 2 seconds to install, pretty quick.) Then you just shop like usual.

If you've come across the best deal for a certain item, you'll get this little thing on your screen telling you that it's the best deal.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Homemade Cashew Based Hummus Recipe --- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

I'm a big fan of hummus, but as they like to say, it isn't a fan of me. My body can't tolerate any legumes, even if they're soaked, fermented, sprouted, you name it, and the standard hummus is based on chickpeas, one of those legumes that I can't eat.
I've mentioned before how much I adore cashews, their versatility making them be great for anything from dairy free milks to vegan cheese cake to cream sauces to tzatziki sauce; I even use them for panna cotta. With that type of versatility, I'm sure you're not surprised to learn that this legume free hummus, suitable for both the Paleo diet and vegan diets, and many others, is based on cashews. Does it taste exactly like a chickpea based hummus? No, but it's definitely close enough and delicious in its own right.
Highly recommended for everyone. Eat this spread on your favorite bread or crackers (such as these grain free crackers) or as a dip for veggies. Or just by the spoonful if you're like me.
And if you want just a chickpea based hummus, here's how I make that.

Homemade Cashew Based Hummus Recipe --- Paleo, Vegan, and Easy

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Foraging Black Nightshade -- Solanum Nigrum and How to Identify It

This is a post that is a long time in coming and is one that I'm nervous about writing for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest things about writing this post is that it's about a plant that for some reason is very controversial. Black nightshade. It has a reputation for being poisonous but many experts have written about that so I'm not going to repeat their findings but will link to you about what they say.

Black nightshade is something I foraged with quite a lot of trepidation at first. Though there is quite a big culture of foraging in my country, there are some wild edible plants here that virtually no local foragers ever forage or talk about eating. Amaranth, cactus paddles, and black nightshade are three of the big ones and I still don't understand why local foragers never talk about foraging these.

Growing up I didn't know much about nightshades. But I did remember this one time our next door neighbors' kid ate these yellow red and orange nightshade berries growing wild in our yard and there was a whole hullabaloo when they discovered it was toxic. I've since learned that it's called bittersweet nightshade, solanum dulcamara, and it grows all over.

There's another famous nightshade that gives nightshades a bad name and that is deadly nightshade, also known as belladonna, Latin name atropa belladonna, and that's where the confusion regarding black nightshade comes into play. Because deadly nightshade has purple black berries as well. But there are ways to tell them apart, as I'll get to soon.

Just because there's a plant with the name deadly or poison doesn't mean that everything in that family is poisonous. (I get that with sumac all the time. People say "Isn't sumac poisonous?" because they've heard of poison sumac, which I reassure them is not even related to sumac but is in the poison ivy and poison oak family, and that sumac is edible unless they have an allergy to it.)

There are many nightshade plants that are staples in people's diets around the world including: tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, paprika, tomatillos, goji berries, etc. Yes there are people who are allergic or sensitive to these plants (it is a common auto-immune trigger) but it's not any more poisonous than gluten or legumes, even if there are people sensitive to them. (I am aware that Wikipedia says that it is toxic. Wikipedia is not an accurate source on edibility or toxicity of plants.)

My first experience foraging black nightshade

Creating a Garden Paradise for Your Kids

Years ago we lived in a house with a yard, but we were really hesitant to invest in the yard at all, because we knew we could be moving at any time. We got some portable outside toys, like seesaws and small slides and built chicken coops and rabbit cages, but beyond that didn't invest in our yard. We then lived many years without a yard, and now that we finally have a yard again and own our place, we're trying to decide how to make our yards, small as they are, as friendly as possible for our kids. So far all we've done to make them nice for the kids is building pergolas and hanging hammocks, but we're still trying to figure out more things. Here's a post from a reader about how to make your backyard wonderful for your children.

Whether you have a tiny garden or a huge one, your kids will love it. For them being able to play outdoors all day is something that most kids love. Once they get the outdoor bug, you will struggle to get them to stay in, which is of course what you want. Being outdoors, instead of spending every waking moment inside in front of a screen, is good for their health and wellbeing. So, with this in mind, I thought that today, I would share a few tips to help you to make your garden, patio or balcony a more kid-friendly space.

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