Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Is Mental Health Counseling Frugal?

Since I started posting a few times recently about therapy and mental health counseling in general, a few people asked me to write about the frugality or lack-thereof of mental health counseling. To be honest, it is a topic that is really near and dear to my heart, because two things that are really important to me are being able to live within your means, as well as taking care of your mental health.

For many years, I realized I needed mental health counseling, but it was just so expensive. For years and years, therefore, I buried my feelings and ignored my mental health issues, while they just compounded and got more and more debilitating. Finally, it got to a point where I was not managing, and I knew therapy was something I needed to do, no matter the cost.

So the first question, "is mental health counseling frugal?" needs to be answered with the question "is it frugal to not go to therapy?"

Why Therapy Can Pay Off Financially

Our Frugal Short Trip to Craiova, Romania

Last week my oldest son and I went on a short weekend getaway to Craiova, Romania. It was the first time my son ever left the country, and he was so excited about being able to go on the plane, and to see what a new country is like. His excitement was palpable as we counted down the days until the trip, packed our bags, and prepared for the trip. We were there from Friday noon until Monday early morning, which was a whirlwind of a trip and didn't leave so much time to do so many things, but I do think that was the perfect amount of time for Craiova itself, and the perfect length of time for a mother son bonding trip too.

We had planned on going to a free tour of Craiova, as well as to some gorgeous parks, but the weather really didn't cooperate with us. Friday was sweltering hot. Saturday and Sunday had on and off rain storms. And the tour guide simply never showed up to the meeting spot for the tour. So Lee and I had no guided tour, but we just wandered around the city on our own and discovered it for ourselves.

The first thing we discovered about Craiova is that transportation is really cheap! We took a bus from the airport to the city center, and paid 2.9 RON, or 73 cents. There were no transfers, but at 10 years old, I was told that Lee is free on public transportation there. We ended up taking a taxi one day after walking far to the grocery store, and then getting on a bus trying to head back with our groceries, and getting lost and going the wrong direction. The taxi back from there was only 4 RON or $1, making it really worthwhile to take a taxi!

Side Hustles for Busy Moms that Can Be Scheduled Around Family

One of the biggest challenges I had a few years back was that we were very short on cash, and I needed to find a way to bring in money, while staying at home with my then infants and toddlers. I ended up doing a few different side hustles, from babysitting, to telephone marketing, to cleaning homes, and they made a big difference for us financially, while still allowing me to be with my children. Here's some more ideas from a reader with suggestions of side hustles you can do as a busy mom.

If you feel like in your home there is more month than money, it may be time to make a change.
But instead of taking a traditional part- or full-time job, you might be able to find a family-friendly side hustle that you can do from home—or at the very least around your kids’ schedules. For example, check out the following ideas:

Monday, July 16, 2018

Homemade Harissa Recipe, Tunisian Hot Chili Pepper Condiment

I love spicy food, and when it doesn't come already spicy, I enjoy adding a kick to it with hot sauce or some other spicy condiment. This is evidenced by the fact that I have no less than 8 different recipes for homemade hot sauces and condiments from around the world and suitable to different diets on my blog. (Refined sugar free Thai sweet chili sauce, sweetener free Paleo sweet chili sauce, refined sugar free sriracha sauce, probiotic green Tabasco sauce, nightshade free Paleo hot sauce, zhug- Yemenite hot pepper paste, horseradish and beet khrayn, and white horseradish khren.) That can't possibly be enough variations of spicy condiments for one blog, so let's add another, harissa, Tunisian hot chili pepper condiment, which is used as a staple in North African cooking, and added to many of their dishes.
I rarely use actual cookbooks, but this recipe happens to be a combination of two different harissa recipes in one of the few cookbooks I have, Saffron Shores, by Joyce Goldstein. I tend to make different varieties of hot sauces when I get past prime hot peppers and bell peppers, so I like to roast my bell peppers first to make them last longer. I don't generally roast my hot peppers, but feel free to do that if you want.
This recipe is suitable to nearly every diet, from vegan to Paleo to low carb, other than nightshade free diets.

Homemade Harissa Recipe, Tunisian Hot Chili Pepper Condiment

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Welcoming the Newest Addition to our Family

My youngest child is nearly 4.5 years old. My kids have asked me when we'll have another kid. I've constantly been asked by people when I'm due because my belly protrudes.
Well the thing is... Today we added another member to my family. But this time I didn't have to go through 9 months of hell and labor to have this baby. No, this baby is a fur baby, and to have her join our family the only labor was taking a long bus to and from another part of my country to bring this baby home.

Meet Snickers, our new puppy. Well, puppy is a relative term, as she is approximately 15 months old. She had been living with a family that didn't have the ability to give her enough attention and hence looked for a family that can give it to her.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Homemade Easy Apple Chips Recipe

Unfortunately, within the last week, our spare refrigerator/freezer that we keep on our back porch completely died, and all the stuff in the freezer spoiled. Luckily, the stuff in the fridge survived, but got to the point where they needed to be used up right away. And with half the freezer space I originally had, freezing produce to preserve it was not an option.

One of the things I had in the fridge was a large amount of apples that I got for free, because they were past prime.

I divided up the apples, and the ones in worse condition, I cut out the bad parts and made the rest into applesauce which I then water bath canned. And with the rest, I made apple chips. Super easy. And of course frugal, paleo, vegan, gluten free, and allergy friendly.
Here's how I made them.

Homemade Easy Apple Chips Recipe

Budget Too Tight? The Importance of Creating Wiggle Room

Every frugal person knows how hard it can be when there isn't wiggle room in your budget. Nancy Evans here explains the importance of creating wiggle room, as well as suggestions of how to achieve it. 

Does your household presently live on a tight budget? Do you balance out every month with nothing leftover? It’s great that you’ve developed a system that’s allowed you to financially cover all of your expenses, but having a budget without a buffer could backfire. Unfortunately, life isn’t predictable and you simply never know when you might need additional funds to get something done.
A budget with no wiggle room doesn’t leave you with many choices. You can take the money you had set aside for something else and throw off your budget, sacrifice something you may have needed or wanted, or go into debt by borrowing the money or charging the extra expense.

Why You Need Wiggle Room

As none of the above-mentioned solutions seems to benefit you, it would be best to start creating some wiggle room - a few hundred or thousand dollars set aside. Here’s a closer look at why it pays to build a buffer in your budget.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Replacing My Broken Suitcase Wheel With a New Homemade Wheel

Last year when I decided to start traveling frugally on my own, I purchased a small suitcase that fit the dimensions allowed as carry on for most budget airlines. I tried to spend as little as possible on my suitcase, but even so it wasn't so cheap. Unfortunately, though, I guess it was too cheap to be well made, and after just one trip one of the wheels started giving me trouble. In the middle of my second trip the wheel completely died on me, stopped turning at all, and was completely unusable. Because it stopped turning, it ended up being dragged, which caused it to completely disintegrate, making it look like this..

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Helpful and Money Saving Travel Hacks

In the past I would have said that I'm not a frequent traveler, but now that I think about it, ever since I've been married my husband and I have traveled at least once a year on vacation with our within our country, and then five years ago I traveled to the US once for work, and then within the last year I flew abroad twice very frugally and am preparing for another trip (I'm leaving tonight in the middle of the night to the airport), and I have to say that I'm getting this traveling thing down pat, and have figured out some tips and hacks that make traveling go smoother, as well as saving money. I use these tips when traveling abroad, but many are also useful when traveling even within your country.

Most of these travel hacks and tips are things you need to prepare in advance, which is why they're on my mind now that I'm getting ready to travel in just a few hours. However, if you get these things ready in advance, it can make the difference between making your trip enjoyable and relaxing, or stressed out and financially taxing.

So, in no specific order, here's my helpful and money saving travel hacks:

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


Yesterday evening I walked into my kitchen and slipped on some water on the floor (no idea why it was there) and hit my head really hard (imagine like in the movies, I went splat). I had my husband call a doctor who paid a house call. He diagnosed a concussion, but not bad enough to need to go to the ER, and gave me warning signs of what to look out for if it should worsen, for me to need to go to the ER. Fortunately had none of those. But I did have a nice "healthy" panic attack. Which is hard, because symptoms of panic attacks can also mimic concussion symptoms. But the doctor took that into account and helped me calm down and fortunately it's not so bad.
Today I'm still in pain but less than yesterday. I'm going to be taking it easy, because my son and I are supposed to be going abroad on Friday and I needed to be all rested and mostly healed by then. I've spoken with a few doctors and am taking their advice. No need to worry, I just wanted to update you on what's going on.

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