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Thursday, December 31, 2020

DIY Painting Frugal Colorful Accent Walls -- My Successful Cheapskate Experiment


Where I live, apartments nearly always come painted a stark white. Wallpaper isn't really a thing here, nor is colored walls. You see, when you rent an apartment, you have to return it fully painted, and the standard is white, so most people don't bother painting their walls another color, especially since painting jobs aren't so cheap. However, coming from other countries where non-white walls are standard, people often want colored walls or at least something to bring a pop of color into the room instead of industrial standard white.

My friend and I were talking and she was looking for ways to inexpensively bring life and color into her house. She theoretically liked the idea of painting one wall in a room an accent color, but paint is expensive here and colored paint is even more expensive. I knew from experience locally that while colored paint wall paint is expensive, white paint is cheaper, and whitewash is even cheaper than that, by far. The cheapskates locally use whitewash to paint the walls, but whitewash can possibly come off onto you if you lean on the wall, so they recommend only using whitewash to paint ceilings. 

I had an idea to maybe mix whitewash with a bit of the type of paint used here in craft projects with kids. They call it gouache here, but it isn't the gouache you have in the states- it's more like tempera paints or acrylic paints, or maybe poster paint. I'm just going to call it tempera for this post though. I had no idea if it would work or not, but suggested it to her as an experiment. My friend didn't want to experiment with her walls, so I said that I'd try it out.

It took me a few months to actually try it.

But before I talk about that, I want to mention costs.

I know that whitewash is cheaper than acrylic paint locally. I'm having trouble finding exact cost comparisons on the internet though. So you'll have to actually check local pricing before being assured that this is indeed cheaper where you live. 
However, I found this recipe for making homemade whitewash. I have no idea if it will work as well as with the store-bought whitewash that I used, but again, it's worth an experiment.

When I painted my dad's apartment, I ended up with some leftover whitewash. So I didn't need to buy that for this experiment. I already had tempera paints as well for crafting with kids. I also had a paint roller, paintbrush, and paint rolling tray. So when one of my girls asked me when I can get a start on making their room more girly, I decided it was the perfect time for an experiment.

One of the walls in the kids' room and part of the ceiling was no longer white. Because years ago I was trying to do something with puffy paint and it wouldn't come out. I squeezed it harder and harder and finally it exploded, all over the wall and the ceiling. I tried cleaning up the paint but it just smeared the green onto the wall, so I smeared it purposefully, into the shape of palm trees. But it wasn't the most beautiful thing. And when we got a spare freezer we put it in that room, blocking part of the ad hoc trees.

I figured that the perfect place to experiment was behind the freezer, where it would be blocked anyhow, and if that worked, over the trees which looked bad anyhow. It definitely couldn't make things worse, even if it didn't work out.

We decided to go with the color pink. Ike who still shares a room with the girls isn't too thrilled about that, to be honest. But hopefully, soon we'll be able to make him his own room.

I knew that one of the biggest potential issues with making my own color is ensuring that it is uniform throughout. So I made sure to write down the "recipe" so that I could recreate it if it worked out.


For this recipe, I used 3 paper cups filled with whitewash, and one squirt of red tempera paint. It made a medium pink. If you'd want a paler pink, go with 4 or 5 cups of whitewash.

Mix it well. Very well. Very very well. The first time I did this I didn't mix the stuff well enough on the bottom and I got some red speckles that were hard to get rid of. 


Then roll it onto the wall. I started with a pretty uniform layer.

And then I let it dry.

I had no idea if it would dry ok. Would it crack? Would it peel? Would it look ok?

But fortunately, so far so good. 

Once I saw it worked ok I tried painting over the green. Whitewash is thin, and the green was dark, so it took 4 or 5 layers to cover the green, waiting in between each time for it to fully dry before applying another layer.

Mid painting. Still needed 2 more layers to cover up the green "tree".

It worked so well that we ended up expanding the area and going up to the ceiling and over the door frame to our stockpile/pantry and down an adjacent strip of wall. 

I didn't do a perfect job because the masking tape I had wasn't working properly (that's what I get for leaving it outside in the rain) so I'll have to paint over the pink that got onto the ceiling and wall with white, using the masking tape.

But overall, I'd say this experiment was a smashing success. I'm tempted to make a light grey to paint one of my living room walls now. For that I'd probably use a teaspoon of black tempera to 5 or 6 cups of whitewash. 

This project is far from done, but it doesn't need to be done for me to share this cool idea with you.

In terms of texture, I did want to mention that the wall that I painted with my homemade pink paint is a bit rougher to the touch than our other walls in our house, but not noticeably, and the color doesn't come off onto my hands or clothing once dried.

Since I can't promise how this experiment will work for you with the equipment you have available, I'd suggest trying with paints you have available- poster paint, tempera paint, acrylic paint, etc... and the cheapest white paint you have, whether its homemade whitewash, milk paint, or white wall paint, and see how it works, experimenting on a little area first, and if that works, moving on to bigger areas.

Also, this reminds me that I still never got around to my post about what I learned painting my father's apartment- I'll try to write that post soon!

Are your walls in your home colorful? With paint or wallpaper? If you've redone walls in your home, did you paint them yourself or pay someone else to do it? Did you end up going with white because it is cheaper, or did you go with color? If you looked into the price difference, how much was the difference between white and colorful? What is the cheapest type of white paint you can get locally? What is the difference between whitewash and white paint where you live? Does this look like an experiment you'd try?

Choose The Perfect CBD Product For You

If you've decided you want to start using CBD products but aren't sure where to go from there, here's some tips from a reader.



Introduction 

You may have heard of CBD products like oils, capsules and tablets that are entering the market. CBD has been rising in popularity and use thanks to its calming properties and its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving abilities. And if you still don’t know — CBD refers to Cannabidiol, which is a key component in the Hemp plant, which is closely related to medical marijuana. Unlike Marijuana, CBD will not induce intoxication — it is purely medical aid instead of recreational purposes. Unless you invest in a CBD product with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), you won’t experience any forms of a “high” happening. THC is the component that induces the intoxications, so unless you want that in the ingredient list, be sure to avoid CBD products that may contact that.

A more common product on the market that many people use is CBD oil, but for more effective results, more digestible options have been manufactured. For example, you can now take CBD pills or capsules. However, there are many products that are designed to address different issues, so it may get intimidating and confusing to choose one. With proper research and consultation, you’ll be fine. In this article, we help you scour for the best CBD tablet that addresses your specific needs. Without further ado, let’s get started.

CBD Must-Knows

1. Cannabinoids
  • This refers to components that are derived directly from cannabis. For example, CBD and THC are also known as Cannabinoids.
2. Terpenes 
  • This refers to the smell produced by any type of plant. In cannabis, the terpenes are part of the reason why it is so effective.  
3. Full-spectrum 
  • This refers to products that contain all components in cannabis. So this is most likely to have THC and produce a distinct aroma. 
4. Broad-spectrum 
  • This refers to products that contain all the components in cannabis except for THC. 
5. CBD Isolate 
  • This refers to products that comprise purely CBD, no other cannabinoids or terpenes included.

How To Pick The Right CBD Product

Firstly, familiarise yourself with the above terms. These are the components you should always keep an eye out for in order to make the best-informed decision. Additionally, look out for other ingredients that the product may include. For example, CBD tablets designed to aid with sleep problems tend to be taken at night and may contain melatonin for maximum effects. These sleep-aid products may include calming scents like lavender — so you should look for if these CBD products contain the ingredient: Linalool. The more the better, as Linalool is a terpene found in the lavender and cannabis plant. This aids in calming the body down and preparing it for sleep or relaxation, which can help with sleeping problems or anxiety/stress relief. 


Many experienced CBD users have admitted to how confusing it can get to find a perfect CBD product, so don’t feel bad if you can’t find anything. That’s why we want to help you form a basic set of criteria to ensure you get the product you need. You have to check for the product’s CBD potency, for their testing practices, and for their ingredient list. Good quality products do certified third-party testing for heavy metals, molds, and pesticides. If the product lacks the certification, you should probably skip it. Usually, if the product is made from the U.S. Hemp plants, chances are they’re safe, as these are strictly regulated.

What to Avoid

Although CBD products are rising in popularity, there are some products on the market that you must avoid. It may have the flashiest packaging, but if these products have these red flags, be sure to steer clear of them. Firstly, if they over-promise on health benefits, that is a huge red flag. CBD is not a cure, but definitely a solution to improving your situation. For example, if the product says it can cure cancer, call its bluff, and walk away.

Another thing to avoid is if the product has vague descriptions of its ingredients, it may be a scam. Take note: a product containing hemp seeds, hemp seed oil, or cannabis Sativa seed oil only; does not contain any CBD. It definitely can be misleading, but unless it states Cannabidiol, Hemp extract, or CBD in its ingredient list, it could be a sham.

Lastly, trust the reviews. People’s experiences with the product you’re interested in can help you gauge if this product is true to its advertisement. Plus, do some digging on the company that manufactured the product — if they’ve experienced any recent brushes with the authorities, it may be best to not buy from them.

How To Use CBD

If you are new to using CBD, start small. Take smaller doses of CBD tablets with lower potency and then work your way up from there. CBD impacts different individuals differently, so don’t succumb to peer pressure and test the product out on your own in a safe space. When you ‘upgrade’, increase the dosage by 5mg at a time. Your safest bet? Consult a professional or your doctor before committing to the CBD life. This is especially if you are already on a regular routine of medication.

Potential Side Effects

While CBD intake has been researched to be safe for consumption, certain individuals may experience side effects such as diarrhea, lethargy, fluctuations in weight, and appetite. Research has shown that CBD has the potential of influencing the liver’s function of processing intake or breaking down toxins. This could severely impact the existing medication routines. Again, we highly advise consulting with a professional before investing in CBD tablets or products to avoid complications.


Conclusion

To conclude, CBD pills are generally safe to consume as long as you’ve put in the work to do research and consultations. You may have to experiment with dosage to find what works for you, and this could turn into an investment in the long run. As long as you exercise safety and precaution, you’ll be fine. Always remember: CBD products are not a medical cure for chronic pain or any type of illness. That being said, we hope this article has aided you in your research progress and that you reach a favorable decision.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

How I Made a Frugal Fancy Dinner

Cinnamon roll ups made from leftover bread

Sometimes I make frugal meals. And they look and taste fine, but they aren't anything to write home about. Sometimes I make fancy meals, and they are special but their cost isn't anything to write about. And sometimes I make a fancy meal and include a frugal dish or two that is fancy despite its frugality and that makes me smile. And then there was this meal. Nearly everything about it was either frugal or super frugal, involved making things from scratch, free things, repurposed leftovers, stretching things, etc... and I'm so proud of it that I wanted to make it into a post to share with you all. 

Green Doesn’t Have To Mean Expensive — Here’s What You Need To Know

If you want to be eco-conscious you might think you have to pay a "whole budget" to be able to afford those things. Sometimes that is true, sometimes not, but here are some ways from a reader that you can save money while living "green" at the same time.


Buying green is often just too expensive for the average consumer, with high price tags on “must-have” items like reusable straws and eco-friendly sneakers. While this can be discouraging to those who want to make an environmentally positive change but are on a budget, it’s heartening to realize that there are a number of ways that you can make eco-friendly changes without having to break the bank. From minimizing your costs in smart ways to making your own all-natural products at home, here are just a few tips on being green and saving a penny or two.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Lessons From Scratch and Dent Shopping or Bulk Shopping and My Latest Shop

Part of my newly organized stockpile.

I must admit, part of me is glad to go to scratch and dent stores so that I can share my shops with you, and sometimes I get more inspired to buy specific things specifically because I plan on sharing them with you.

Last time I was at the scratch and dent store, the first thing I saw as I walked in were these roasted chickpea snacks on sale. And then there were a few other things, all high quality, non "junky" foods, and I was looking forward to making a post with my "healthy" and high quality scratch and dent store purchases, because I know lots of people think its just a way for me to buy a lot of junk like cheese curls or Reese's pieces. And sometimes I do buy less healthy items at the scratch and dent store, but I do like showing off my healthy purchases.

How To Update Your Interior Designs While On A Budget

One thing that is important for me (and probably most people) is to make my home my haven. There are many ways to do that, but for me, a big part of it is making my home look a way that is pleasing to my eyes. This doesn't have to cost a lot, though if you aren't careful, it can. Here are some tips from a reader on how to transform your home on a budget. 


As they say, nothing beats a perfectly decorated home. Just imagine coming home after a tiring day at work, and you get to see your well-decorated home, making your hard work all worth it. But, looking at your house, the interior design might be too plain and simple for your liking. What you can do is to update your home's interior design to match your style and still make it homey. 

However, as much as you want to update your interior design, it can cost a lot, especially if you're looking into significant renovations. But, fret-not! You can update your interior design while on a budget! Listed below are the ways you can design your home according to your liking:

Monday, December 21, 2020

Sweet and Sticky Garlicky Green Beans Recipe -- Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan



I love green beans. I generally make them very simply because they are good any way you make them, and why not just do something easy. But recently I decided that I wanted sweet and sticky green beans even though I'd never had them before. I knew though it would be delicious and was craving them, and I was sure I'd be able to figure out how to make them. 

I posted on my Facebook page that I was going to make sweet and sticky green beans and not to ask me for a recipe since I was making it up on the spot, and what do you know, everyone wanted to know the recipe (irony, right?). So extra pressure to get it right!

Well, I have to say it was everything I wanted and more. Was it as sticky as I wanted it? Na, it could have been stickier, but the taste was the bomb and it fit all the criteria I was looking for. And it took some playing around to get it sticky (especially since frozen green beans start out wet). But definitely make these. I based the idea on sweet and sticky chicken recipes I've seen and I want to experiment with this sauce on other foods (sweet and sticky tofu, I'm looking at you!).

The recipe as written (providing you choose the right ingredient option) is both Paleo and vegan, not to mention gluten free. But eat it no matter what diet you follow (or don't follow) as long as you like sweet, Asian style, and green beans. (Being a garlic lover definitely is a help.)

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Sweet and Sticky Garlicky Green Beans Recipe -- Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegan

How to Keep Healthy and Save Money Doing it

Sometimes in order to pursue health we need to spend a lot of money. And that is fine. Pursuit of health is a worthy goal. But fortunately there are also some cost saving ways to also pursue health. Here's some tips from a reader how.


Nowadays, we rely a lot on healthcare and prescription drugs. We look for quick fixes to help with long term conditions. But we must question ourselves on whether we are spending an unnecessary fortune and think about the vast range of alternatives out there. 

Thursday, December 17, 2020

DIY COVID Friendly Mall Photo Scavenger Hunt Idea and List -- Pandemic Safe Frugal Fun For the Whole Family


My kids currently are on winter break and I wanted to make it memorable for them, to give them pleasant holiday memories, especially as a single mom. There are just a lot of strikes against us right now, because so many things aren't doable, because of Corona safety rules and shut downs, not to mention the weather. Once you add in an attempt to keep things on a budget, it's definitely hard to come up with ideas of fun and exciting things to do. 

However, currently, anyhow, malls are still open. There are very strict rules in the malls, like required mask wearing, temperature checks before entering, limited amounts of people allowed in each store depending on their size, social distancing required, no eating or drinking inside the mall, and no trying on clothes. But they are open. 

I thought of making a scavenger hunt with my kids at a nice mall because that seemed like the perfect free activity indoors, and got some great ideas of things to include on our list of things to find. However, many of the things I found on various lists are not doable because of the pandemic (things like trying stuff on, food related things, etc...) but Corona does give some more cute ideas of things to include on your scavenger hunt.

So I decided to share my list of Covid friendly scavenger hunt list ideas, some which we did on our scavenger hunt yesterday, and some that I got the idea for them mid scavenger hunt once I saw the state of things at the mall.

As for safety, well, that's up to you. Are you leaving the house at all? A mall that follows corona rules, as our local ones do, are relatively safe. I mean schools are currently open here; going to a mall following social distancing rules can't be less safe than that.

DIY COVID Friendly Mall Photo Scavenger Hunt Idea and List -- Pandemic Safe Frugal Fun For the Whole Family

Master Working from Home with a Toddler

As someone who has worked from home for as long as she's been a parent, I can tell you it's not an easy thing. Here are some suggestions from a reader on how to make this gargantuan task, that you might not have chosen otherwise, just a little bit easier.


Work will never be the same again. Due to the pandemic, the year 2020 has seen a massive shift in flexibility and in work-life balance. 

With many parents forced into remote work from home situations, the opportunity to be productive and yet parent at the same time has given rise to many turning this into a permanent transition.

But navigating working from home and being a parent, especially to a toddler, comes with its own set of difficulties. Unlike an infant, your toddler is mobile and needs constant attention.

Follow these great tips on how to parent like a pro to a toddler and be productive at the same time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Diagnoses Are Wonderful- Why I'm Not Scared of Labels


Recently a close friend of mine got her youngest child diagnosed with ADHD. Not long after that, her oldest child, who already had mental health and behavioral diagnoses got diagnosed with Tourettes syndrome on top of everything else. And her middle child already had been diagnosed with ADHD. When her youngest was diagnosed, she felt like crying. "Can I not have even one kid without problems?" And then when her oldest got his latest diagnosis, it felt like a punch in the gut on top of everything else. 

Today I read in a parenting group that I'm in that a mother feels like her world is coming to an end because her sweet, adorable, loving kid is getting diagnosed with autism.

A friend of mine who has a son that is clearly autistic didn't want to get him diagnosed because she "doesn't want to cause problems for him in the future".

I get it. I really do. When we first suspected my second child was on the spectrum, I was in denial. There were people I knew that were austistic that were abusive individuals and I didn't want my kid to turn out to be abusive. I didn't want an autistic kid. I gave rationalizations about all these things that other people who knew autism pointed out seemed like autism, because I was in denial.

Keeping Your Flowers Fresher for Longer: Here's How

Flowers are a type of self care for me. In the past, I'd asked my husband to buy me flowers, but at some point I decided that I don't need to ask someone else to get them for me, I am allowed to buy my own things to cheer myself up. And fresh flowers certainly do bring cheer into the home. But although I don't mind spending money on this little luxury, I'd like my flowers to last as long as possible to get the most bang for my buck. Here's some tips from a reader on how to do that.


Few things have the potential to brighten your day more than a bouquet of beautiful, fresh flowers on your dining room table or nightstand. But it can certainly be a downer when they start to wilt. However, while eventual wilting is inevitable, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your flowers fresh and happy for longer!

Whether someone you love has thoughtfully gifted you a bouquet of roses after a big date, your birth month flower to celebrate a milestone birthday, or just a handful of fresh blooms on a Sunday, you’ll want to keep them alive as long as possible. Here’s how:

How I Made My Son a Harry Potter Gift He Absolutely Loved

My oldest son, Lee, doesn't enjoy reading. I've tried to interest him, but no matter what books I get him, he doesn't find it enjoyable. So it was very exciting when my second son, Ike, started reading for enjoyment and became a true bookworm. He not only enjoys reading, he gets so into his books that he obsesses with them. (That's part of the fun parts of autism!) 

Imagine my delight when my son started obsessing over one of my favorite childhood books, Harry Potter! I loved being able to discuss these books with him, talking fan theories with him, and introduce him to fanfictions I enjoyed. I'm in a Facebook group where people fangirl with each other over different books, movies, and shows, and I saw that something people do for their Harry Potter loving kids is sending their kids a "Hogwarts acceptance letter" after their 11th birthday. Since Ike was turning 11 in September, I wanted to do that for his birthday this year, but I looked high and low but couldn't find a stuffed own to "deliver" the letter for him on any of the websites in my country, so I had to let that idea go. But I really still wanted to do that for him, but his 11th birthday passed and I figured it was the end of it.

But then someone in my local frugal shopping group posted that my favorite scratch and dent store was selling Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, a treat from the Harry Potter universe, for very cheaply. And the next day, when I was looking for a stuffed animal to replace one my daughter slept with and lost, I saw the store that was selling her stuffed animals on sale also had an owl stuffed animal. So I knew I'd be doing something Harry Potter style for Ike, as a delayed birthday present combined with Holiday gift.

This project wasn't entirely from scratch, but I put it together and I am very proud of what I did and my ideas and how I pulled it off. I knew how much Ike loved Harry Potter and was sure he'd love this gift, and to be honest, I loved making it probably nearly as much as he enjoyed getting it. Lets just say his reaction was priceless, he got all tearful and hugged me and thanked me a million times and told me that he'd save it for his grandchildren, that's how much he loved it.

Why You Might Want To Improve Your Home This Year

With the pandemic, everyone is spending more time at home than ever before. What previously might have been a space that seemed perfect now might make you want to have some change. I am still trying to get an addition started but haven't been able to get it off the ground yet. Here's some ideas from a reader why 20201 might be the year where you'll be making a home improvement.


This year has definitely been different. It’s safe to say that none of us could ever have predicted what has happened. We all may have had plans for the year and actually, we’ve had to slow down and start all over again. We’ve had to put things on hold, miss out on seeing loved ones – and losing them too. Yet, it does appear that things are starting to change. And it’s safe to say that, over the next twelve months, things will start to change. Because of that, it’s definitely nice to start thinking about the things that we want to do. If you’re someone that had hoped to work on their home this year, but didn’t due to the pandemic, maybe you can pick that dream up again for 2021? Here’s five reasons why. 

Monday, December 14, 2020

Homemade Sesame Mock Shrimp Toast Dim Sum Recipe -- Hatosi -- Gluten Free, Egg Free, Fish Based, Frugal


I run a local frugal cooking Facebook group, and one of my friends, Alison, often shares some great frugal recipes in it. The other day she shared a recipe for sesame chicken toast that she said was really cheap, and just like the appetizers in the Chinese restaurants, and that it used up an old roll of bread. I honestly had no idea what she was talking about- never heard of sesame chicken toast, and looking at the picture I couldn't make heads or tails of what the dish actually was. 

Turns out that this is a fish free version of another dish I never heard of- shrimp or prawn toast. This dim dum dish is of Cantonese origin, known as hatosi (shrimp toast in Cantonese) but has spread to be part of Japanese, Vietnamese, and Thai cuisine as well. A variant in some western countries has sesame seeds sprinkled on top.

To make this dish, you grind up shrimp into a paste with seasonings, spread it on bread thinly, dip it in sesame seeds and then either fry or bake. Since I don't eat shellfish, I decided to make a version that I could eat. The internet has many chicken based variations of this dish, but I decided to make it with fish, something I didn't find anywhere when searching the internet. I would guess that this dish could be called yu-tosi based on what I looked up on how to say fish in Cantonese, but I could be wrong.

As with most dim sum, hatosi are generally eaten with a dipping sauce. I've tried soy sauce and sweet chili sauce with my mock shrimp toast, but definitely want to try this with spicy mayonnaise, nuoc cham (Vietnamese fish sauce based dipping sauce) or hoisin sauce. 

What is really cool about this recipe is that it uses up leftover bread, even stale bread. I made some gluten free bread that didn't come out spectacularly once it was no longer fresh from the oven, but it was amazing repurposed here. While I used gluten free bread for mine, of course you can use gluten bread as well, store bought or homemade, just then it won't be gluten free.

Also, in addition to revamping leftovers, this, while using fish, is quite frugal because the amount of fish used is quite minimal. I used 2 fillets of St Peter's fish, approximately 200 grams, and it was enough for many many pieces of dim sum, enough to have them as the base of a meal for 3 people. You spread the fish layer very thin and it goes very far.

The hardest work for this dish literally is washing the food processor after. Yea, that's how easy it is. Oh, or maybe cutting the bread. 

Homemade Sesame Mock Shrimp Toast Dim Sum Recipe -- Hatosi -- Fish Based, Gluten Free, Egg Free, Frugal

Friday, December 11, 2020

Easy Artichoke Soup Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Allergy Friendly


I know this isn't the prettiest of soups. What can I say- I blended some vegetables that ended up making a light brown soup, that's what you get when mixing light green with orange. But the taste is divine, don't let its color fool you.

This recipe came aboug when I was trying to think of a soup to make when I felt that I didn't have so many "soup vegetables" and I didn't want to use a meat based broth. I remembered having a package of frozen artichokes in the freezer, and recalled making artichoke soup in the past, however, that time was dairy and I wanted to make a version that was completely dairy free. This was the result and it is quite wonderful. 

It is vegan, gluten free, paleo, and allergy friendly, while still remaining quite flavorful. It's also quite easy to make. I'd highly recommend it.

Easy Artichoke Soup Recipe- Paleo, Vegan, Allergy Friendly

Is Now The Right Time To Buy Your First Home?

Buying a house is a big life decision. It can be a great one financially or it can be a devastating one financially. Here's some thoughts from a reader on things to consider before you decide to buy a house or not. These are definitely important considerations, for example, regarding the right time in your life- I bought a house together with my husband when my marriage was on very rocky grounds; waiting for a better time in my life could have made my divorce much less complicated, to be honest.

Pixabay CCO License

Buying a house isn’t a decision that you should rush into. Unfortunately, a lot of people assume that it’s best to buy a home as soon as they possibly can and they don’t stop to think about whether it is the right time. But if you buy a house at the wrong time, you could end up spending more than you need to, and you risk putting yourself in a difficult financial position. 

There are a lot of factors that affect you when buying a house and you need to consider all of them before making your decision. In some cases, it’s best to buy a house right away, but there are a lot of circumstances where it’s best to hold off for a while instead. If you are thinking about buying a house, here’s how to decide whether it is the right time or not.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

My Thoughts on Coaching, or Why You Have to be Very, Very Careful When Using a Coach

When I wrote my post on multilevel marketing scheme and why I abhor them my friend Anara messaged me afterwards and said "Ok, Penny, now when will you take on coaching?" I asked her what she meant, and she said "You wrote about the problem with MLMs, now its time to write something about the problem with coaching." And I thought about it. I thought about why she said that. And I thought about whether or not there were any comparisons between the two. I definitely do not abhor coaching the way I do MLMs, but I definitely have some strong things to say on the topic, and would love to share my thoughts with you.

Bottom line is- coaches have a use. But it is limited. And there are many pitfalls when it comes to coaching that people need to be aware of.

Ok, so I talk about therapy a lot and why it is important and I think it is wonderful and life changing and encourage people to go to therapy. So you'd think I would therefore also support people going to coaches, no? Isn't getting help a good thing? Why wouldn't I encourage it?

How to Make Money from Your Own Home

Are you short on cash lately? Here's some ways you can make some extra cash, all from the comfort of your own home. Sent in by a reader.


Everything seems like it is getting tougher all the time. Inflation rises, prices of everyday goods and food keeps increasing and unemployment grows. In 2020 the world saw the global pandemic from Covid-19 that destroyed business, put millions out of work and vastly reduced household incomes.

Being a single unemployed person is hard enough but being a single parent or a couple with a family is especially tough during these uncertain times. As new restrictions emerge due to surges in virus infections and non essential businesses continue to be closed or heavily restricted can mean many people have lost some of their main source of income or are completely unemployed.

Before Covid came people often dreamt about working from home and choosing their own hours and now many people really are stuck at home and finding making money is not so easy. Is there anything you can do to improve your situation? Is there really a viable way to make money from home and make life a little more comfortable? Here are some options you may be able to look at.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Cheater Chili Cheese Fries Recipe -- Vegetarian, Frugal, and Super Easy


Being perpetually exhausted has made me more creative in the kitchen, to an extent. While I love cooking, if I have no energy I need to figure out things that I can make to nourish my body and still taste good, without taking too much prep work if at all (like my French fry tuna casserole). Most quick to prepare foods aren't gluten free or require lots of prepared ingredients, but this one is gluten free, vegetarian, and is relatively "from scratch".

Today I put together this "chili cheese fries" but I call it cheater since it is too easy to actually call it chili. It's more or less "from scratch", using canned beans and ready made French fries. It takes about 2 minutes of prep (depending on how good/fast you are with a knife) and 30 minutes total time start to finish. It gets one bowl dirty, plus a knife and a cutting board. 

While I wouldn't say it is as amazing as my Paleo chili cheese fries, its definitely pretty good for something so quick and easy to make. This makes enough for a large serving for a big eater. If you are smaller eaters, this will be enough for 2 or more.

Cheater Chili Cheese Fries Recipe -- Vegetarian, Frugal, and Super Easy


Tuesday, December 1, 2020

How To Make a Pandemic Party Special, or How to have a Fun and Safe Covid Birthday Celebration


There's so many hard things about today's current situation, and one of the biggest ones is that keeping safe can make it feel like a birthday is really sad and depressing, because you can't have the types of celebrations that you've had in the past. However, that doesn't mean that you can't celebrate! Yes, it takes some creativity, and your birthdays won't look the same as they have in past years, but you can still have a great time!

Here's a few suggestions on how to celebrate birthdays in a special way while keeping Covid safe. 

Building Finances: Things to Consider When Starting a New Business

For many, this period of time is one full of financial hardships. Many have lost jobs, many have lost clients. Some people, because of this, have decided to open a new business that can better serve people during these times, with the hopes that this can be a good source of income for them and their family. If you are starting a new business, here's some things from a reader that you should definitely consider.


There are two distinctly opposite approaches taken when starting something – anything – new. One is that someone will just begin, get straight to it. They will do the new thing and accept the mistakes, fumbling around, until it begins to make sense and a clearer solution and process is discovered or presents itself. The other is to commit to mastering the activity before it’s even begun. It’s achieved via reading books and articles of other people’s experiences and technical knowledge. The middle ground between the two is the ideal. This article cannot start the business for you. What it can do is provide knowledge about the things to consider about the financial-side of starting a new business. So, it’ll meet you halfway.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Don't Make My Mistake


Don't expect this post to be this long and full of deep insights that no one else on the face of this earth has ever shared before. I have some posts that I feel are really ground breaking, with really cool calculations and factoids that I figured out and am super excited to share. And then I have posts with lots of details ideas that most people don't know.

And then there's today's post. Today's post was about a flub up I made. And maybe it's something that most people know. Maybe people don't. But its a flop that I made and while I share my successes, I figure its also worth sharing the mistakes I make so people can be careful not to repeat them.

I take medicine daily. Its very necessary for my psyche, and I am grateful for my meds every day. I am also really grateful that I live in a place where most of my medical costs are covered by my very cheap insurance, something that I know many people around the world do not have. 

All You Need to Know About Forex Indicators

If you have money left over at the end of the month, instead of just letting it sit in your bank account, you might decide to invest it, so you can make money with that money. One way of investing is in Forex, something I am wholy unqualified to talk about. So for that reason, I turn this over to a reader, to explain things about Forex Indicators.


Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned trader, the challenge of finding the perfect moment to execute your strategy is both an exciting and fascinating process. And, as fascinating as it might be, it is important to know that there is nothing like a one-size-fits-all strategy in forex trading. Simply put, there are numerous strategies or market indicators you’d need to master to be able to determine the perfect moment to execute a trade. The excellent moment to buy or sell can be determined through these indicators. 

Forex trading and trading platforms have a handful of tools that aid you in trading, but this article will focus on 6 of the most effective indicators.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

My Thanksgiving Gratitude Post


I don't always make a Thanksgiving post, even though most of my readership does celebrate Thanksgiving. That's because while I grew up in the US and Thanksgiving was a big part of my life there, I moved abroad, married a non American, and did not have Thanksgiving off, and not really many people to celebrate it with. Occasionally we made Thanksgiving dinners throughout the years, but not always. This year, we're going away for the weekend and having a Thanksgiving style dinner tomorrow night.

However, whether or not I'm having an actual Thanksgiving meal today, Thanksgiving is a time where I get reminded about how many things I have to be grateful for. And this year, more than anything, I am feeling the gratitude, and wanted to share some of what I'm grateful for with you. This isn't going to be in any particular order, its just on what came to mind first.

Top Tips When You Decide to Cook with Kids

Kids love cooking. At least every kid I've met. But the thing is, parents don't always like cooking with them, because it takes more time and makes more mess and sometimes it feels like it isn't worth it. But it is. The skills the kids learn and the fun times they have are worth all the mess. But if you can do it in a way to cause as few issues as possible, that's the best. These tips from a reader might help you out so your cooking time with your kids can be as pleasant as possible for everyone.


Children find kitchens to be fascinating. They regularly notice the grown-ups working there briskly. Many kids have the habit of smelling what is on the menu for lunch, and they find it intriguing to see the steam rising from the pots on your stove. You may see even the older kids get intrigued by the coming together of the baked goods and the meals. Of course, we understand that it may not always be convenient for you to invite your children to the kitchen, but you should do it whenever time allows.   

Younger kids always like to watch what you are doing. They even want to help out with small tasks, such as stirring the lentils or helping you set the table. If you have older kids, you can teach them how to measure the ingredients or crack open the eggs. At times, kids get excited if you tell them to pick their favorite dish that they would want to eat, and then you can make it together with them. 

Easy Mulled Wine Recipe- Paleo, Allergy Friendly, Refined Sugar Free


I'm not a hot drinks person. I mean, in the past I loved a good hot cocoa, but with my having dairy issues, that became so much more complicated. Then I started drinking coffee, but my psychiatrist banned that for me. I haven't been able to find a good consistent source of gluten free coffee substitute, other than the ones I make myself, but that is too much much work for me to do that on a regular basis. And I've never been a fan of tea (I only drink it when I'm sick). So if you ask me if I enjoy a good hot drink, my answer pretty much would have been a solid no. 

Until a few days ago.

I don't know why, but a few days ago, I was thinking about sitting in front of a log cabin with a roaring fire, snuggled up in a cozy blanket on the couch with a good book, and sipping mulled wine. I'd never even had mulled wine, but I knew that I had to try to make it.

I looked online for how to make mulled wine, and there are so many different recipes out there, each with their own unique twist. Most of them called for star anise which I didn't have at home, and while I probably could have used some fennel seeds instead (from the wild fennel growing in my backyard), I had a guest over who detests the flavor of fennel, so I wanted to try another variety. I had just finished making a batch of jaggery syrup and though I poured it into the storage container, there was enough syrup in the pot I used that I didn't want to go to waste, and figured that it was the perfect time to make that mulled wine, using whatever was left of the jaggery syrup to sweeten it. 

It was so wonderful, that I decided to make it a few times since.

Its the perfect combination of soothing warmth and comfort for a cold winter night. With Thanksgiving nearly upon us, and Christmas not long after that, many people are looking for the perfect beverage to serve. Why not make it be mulled wine, and give them that homey cozy feeling in a mug?

While I used jaggery syrup for mine, feel free to use whatever sweetener you like, whether honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, white sugar, or whatever floats your boat. You can play around with the spices, adding more or less. Just note that too much cloves will probably be overpowering, so down play it. There's no one right way to make it. Take your pick. My recipe is just a suggestion.

And yes, I can definitely now say I'm a hot drinks person. Make it mulled wine, please.

Easy Mulled Wine Recipe- Allergy Friendly, Refined Sugar Free

7 Life-Saving Tips for Parents in the New Normal

Times are tough. Many of us have no idea what we're doing with our own lives, let alone with our children. Here's some tips from a reader who seems to have some idea what to do in this new normal! Thanks for the tips!


The COVID-19 Pandemic is an unprecedented event in human history. We can no longer afford to be careless in how we carry out our day to day activities. This is especially true for how we raise our children. We live in a new normal, and they will have to adapt fast. Although kids are less vulnerable to the virus compared to adults, they will still need to be just as careful: they could infect the adults. Here are 7 life-saving tips for parents in the new normal to help out their kids:

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Overcoming Homeschool Frustrations

Today I have a special treat for you. My friend, Yehudis Litvak, veteran homeschooler and owner of the Digital Homeschool Convention, is sharing some great tips on how to deal with some common frustrations that come up with homeschooling, but, to be honest, can be applied to most parenting situations if you aren't a homeschooler.


My son hates penmanship. He can build a chair, cook a gourmet meal, or set up a homemade water slide in the backyard, but the idea of putting pen to paper and writing neatly sends him running.

If you’re a homeschool parent like me, you’ve had your own share of frustrations. Sure, you’ve also spent time enjoying your children and building precious memories. But if your children happen to be human, their ideas of how they want to spend their days likely differ from yours. More to the point, it’s likely that there is something you want them to learn that they’d rather avoid at all costs.

Each child is unique, and each has unique strengths and weaknesses. As conscientious parents, while we want to give them plenty of time to develop their strengths, we also want to make sure that they are building up their weak areas. And that’s where the frustrations come in, because our children, just like us, would much rather do just about anything else.

Parenting for a Successful Future

A lot of times with parenting, we get so overwhelmed with it that we get caught up in the now that we forget to parent for the future as well. Here's some tips from a reader about how to encorporate future planning into your parenting style.


Being a parent means being responsible for your family in so many ways. As a parent, you provide a warm and welcoming home where your children feel safe and secure. You are the nurturer who brings nutritious and satisfying food to the table for your loved ones. And you do all you can to make sure their future is bright and full of promise. In a perfect world, bringing love into your home would be all that is needed for happiness and completion. Love would provide the perfect environment for your children to thrive and grow. There are so many other avenues to attend to and tasks to be done. We have to watch over our offspring and at the same time give them the room to learn and experience life.

My Latest Super Frugal Scratch and Dent Grocery Haul


Sometimes I write posts and almost know what reaction I'm going to get. So I'm going to preempt that and say that I don't care what people's opinions are, I'm ok with that, and I am happy with my choices as to how I feed my family.

I will admit that as a blogger, sometimes I do things knowing that they will make a great blog post, and it encourages me to do more of those things. Today was one of those days.

I haven't been to the city recently, so haven't managed to run errands that needed running. Corona and all and being low energy means that I'm very much a homebody. But I had therapy in the city (much better than over Zoom!) and figured that while I was there, I'd take a bus to the pharmacy to pick up my meds (I'm running quite low). While on the bus, I was passing one of my favorite scratch and dent stores, and decided to hop off there one stop early and take a look at what was being offered. I had no backpack, no wagon, nothing, but hey, lets see anyhow what I can get.

4 Ways to Save During the Holidays

So many people are going through tough times financially now. This year the holidays will be looking a bit different. Here's some ways to lower the cost of this time, from a reader.


The holidays can be tough when you’re on a budget. From expensive gifts to pricey dinners, it’s hard to make it to January without burning a hole in your wallet.

Fortunately, there are some ways to cut down on seasonal spending. If you’re looking to do your checking account a festive favor this year, read on for four ways to save during the holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2020

How I Overcame a Painful Trigger of Mine


I took the bus today and there was this little baby crying. Not one of those little whimpers that a bit of shushing is able to quickly calm down. Nope, it was that incessant high pitched keening that showed a baby was in a lot of distress, but despite the mother's attempts to soothe it, the wailing continued. After a few minutes of this, my friend Babs, on the bus with me, turned to me and softly said probably what everyone  was thinking 'Isn't that annoying?' And I thought about it for a few seconds and said, "Yes, but it's not triggering me."

I mean, that might be an odd response, but that's actually the reason I'm writing this post.

How to Reduce Your Healthcare Costs

I am happy to live in a place with very affordable healthcare, but even so, some things can add up. And unfortunately many people live in a place where healthcare eats such a large portion of their budget if not puts them into debt. Here's some tips from a reader on how to keep down your health care costs.


With the cost of healthcare continuing to increase, it is now high time to limit your out-of-pocket health expenses. The good thing is that a bit of detective work and comparison shopping can go a long way to helping you net a significant saving. Here, we tell you how to save money while still receiving the care you need. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Sentimentality When Decluttering After the Death of a Loved One

My friend Rebekah is literally the expert on decluttering and organizing. She made a whole business based on that, BalaganBeGone where she helps clients clear their clutter and clear their mind. 

Decluttering and organizing are very important things for everyone, but especially frugal people, because, as my son pointed out to me yesterday when I was organizing my pantry and cleaning my fridge, if you don't know where things are, you won't know what you have, and you'll end up throwing out things that go off and purchasing things that you already own. In addition to that, if you have a lot of clutter, you end up needing to pay for a larger property to house all your stuff than if you are able to keep down your posessions. 


When Rebekah's mother passed away, she had to live what she preached, and figure out how to balance the sentimentality and importance of her mothers posessions, while still not filling her house with too many posessions. Here's more about that.


How to Really Work at Home (and How Not To)

When I saw the title of this post sent to me by one of my regular contributors, I liked it before I even read it. Oh my gosh, so many ways to work at home, and so many things to avoid. However, while it's a great post, it went a very different direction than I would have, so it just inspires me to write another post with a similar name. In the meantime, enjoy this contribution.

Image from Pixabay - CC0 License

Many of us have been working from home recently when we wouldn't ordinarily. Even teachers are teaching their classes online from their own homes. However, when things are a little more normal, it could be straight back to work for a lot of people. If you've always dreamed of working from home, and now you've got a taste and enjoyed it, you might be wondering if it's possible for you to keep going. But a lot of advice about working from home doesn't seem to set you up for a full-time job or career. What are your legitimate options for working from home, and what should you do or not do? 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Financial Aid Programs for Military Service Members and Their Families

My dad joined the US military when I was 16 and already living out of the house, so I don't really know what it's like to have the experience as living as the child of military members (other than the fact that he phoned in to my sister's wedding from Iraq but fortunately 4 weeks later was able to be at my wedding), but I do know some benefits that I have from that, like when I had free health insurance at over 18. Even now that he left the army, I benefit by being able to bank with USAA, one of the better banks out there that only servicemembers and families can use. Here's a post from a reader about some other benefits you don't want to miss out on if you're a military family.


Service members face a range of threats—from lethal to financial and even emotional threats. And parents, they’re often concerned about ensuring that their family is financially stable while confronting lethal threats on the war front. 

Parenting as a Military service member or the spouse of one exposes you to a lot of special financial challenges that most individuals don’t encounter. However, the federal government and military authorities have an impressive array of special benefits, legal protections, and tax breaks that can help cushion those challenges.

Here are some financial aid programs that are available to military service members and their families.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Cutting Clothing Costs With Picky Teens and Preteens

Clothing shopping with my picky and clothes concious son Lee.

I've written before about cutting the cost in children's clothing, but the thing is, cutting clothing costs for younger kids is so much easier than doing so for older kids, especially when your older children are pickier. And because teens and preteens grow so quickly, even if you manage to buy clothes that they like, they very quickly outgrow them and you're in a bind again then. Often the tips and techniques that worked for younger children quickly proove useless when you have kids that reject most of the finds that you make, even if you think they're super cool and awesome and stylish (because kids know this much better than their parents, amirite?). In some groups where we were discussing this situation with kids and clothing, I heard some parents say that as parents, you can put your foot down and simply not allow it- your child doesn't get to dictate these things, you're the parents, you make the rules. So I spoke to my kids therapist about this, and she strongly disagreed; it is important for a kid to feel comfortable in their clothes, and no, this is not something you should "put your foot down about".


But a budget. How do you actually manage to dress your kids in a way that they find acceptable, but that you can swing financially?

And I'll tell you something- you can't expect your clothes bills for your teens and preteens to be as little as it was when you were frugally shopping for your babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. But with these techniques, hopefully you can make it as least painful financially as possible, while still respecting your kids' wishes and independence.

Cutting Clothing Costs With Picky Teens and Preteens

6 Plus Fun and Affordable Kids' Party Favors to Make Them Smile

In your community, do you give party favors at birthday parties? While I don't typically give them at birthday parties at home, to celebrate birthdays at school we do bring party favors, which I generally just buy at a store that sells everything for a quarter. Here's some other ideas for affordable party favors for kids.


Kids’ parties are special times when both your children and their guests make memories that will last a lifetime. Throwing a kids’ party and giving each child something nice to take home needn’t be a costly exercise - especially if you make kids’ party favors yourself. Plus, giving each of your little guests a little something will make them smile - now that’s something money just can’t buy. Check out these ideas and either use them as is, or as inspiration to kickstart your creativity.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Homemade Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free Eclairs Recipe -- Frugal Fancy Food

I have been having a really hard time lately healthwise, I've written about them before, but I was really hoping today would go better, since I had my long awaited appointment with an endocrinologist, but the endocrinologist is refusing to treat me without furture blood tests and without sky high TSH, because he's insisting that the issues are "resolving on their own" when I can tell by how I feel that they aer not, but he was ignoring that, so in the meantime, I'm still untreated, running on a ridiculously low amount of energy, and feeling terrible. 

But I don't want to let you readers down, so I've arranged some great guest posts from my friends to fill in the gaps when I don't have the energy to write, and today I have an extra special treat- a recipe for DIY homemade gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free eclairs from my friend Juli over at Pandemonium Noshery

I can't wait to feel better so that I can whip up a batch of these myself. I literally have not had a single eclair since going gluten free nearly 10 years ago. These look amazing, as does everything Juli makes. And I had no idea it was so doable at home.


I love an excuse to make a tasty treat. Eclairs are a person favorite because while they are particular about the process of being made they aren't hard and they don't take long. No waiting for cakes to chill or layers to set. Start to finish this took me 30 minutes. So when I was trying to think of something fun and decadent but still gluten free, refined sugar free, and didn't use any weird, hard to find, or expensive ingredients I really wanted to make eclairs work.

I cook gluten free when I have family over, a few of my adorable nieces and nephews are celiacs so I had a basic idea of where to start. After a lot of research, just kidding I messaged my sister, she said all the egg keeps it together you don't really need to do anything but swap out the flour. I was swapping out more than that so with a bit of apprehension I added honey and coconut oil to the recipes and baked. And they turned out wonderfully. So wonderfully in fact that no one could tell the difference.

Homemade Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free Eclairs Recipe -- Frugal Fancy Food


How to Save Money On Kids Clothes

Clothing can be the bane of a parents' budget. You buy the kids clothes and within five seconds they are growing out of them. This happens the most in their first few years of life (kids go through 6 or more sizes in their first 2 years of life!!!) but also again during puberty. If you aren't careful with how you get these clothes, your finances can really take a turn for the worse. 

Here's some great tips from a reader including the last which I suck at- my son Lee is very finicky about his clothes and will generally only wear more expensive styles from more expensive brands and I have ruined too many of his clothes by washing them with the wrong thing and dying them weird colors that make them unusable for him. Follow these tips, you won't regret it!


Kids can grow up really fast, and constantly buying clothes for them as they grow can eat up your household budget. How do you save some money on your kids’ clothes? Here are some tips: 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Versatile Saag Paneer Recipe with Wild Edible Options, Vegan Options

Vegan saag paneer, with tofu and coconut milk,
made with lambsquarters and sea beet (wild swiss chard)



There are some posts that I think about and write about that very same day, and then there's other posts, like this one, that I've wanted to write about for years, but haven't for a lot of reasons. This recipe is one for saag paneer, a curried greens dish from India, and is so incredibly versatile. If you've heard of palak paneer, its when this dish is made with spinach, and it usually is blended up. Traditionally paneer cheese is added and it is absolutely divine.

However, this dish is not exactly like palak paneer, but rather saag paneer, as it is called when made with different greens. The reason I have wanted to share it for so long is because it is what I make with my students nearly every time I teach a foraging and cooking class out in the wild. It is such a hit every time, and it is versatile enough that I make it with nearly any greens we find, and can make it with things growing wild no matter the season, and the spices are versatile enough too- while garam masala is traditional, I just use what I have on hand to make a spice mix to bring along- I try to stick to the garam masala ingredients but if I'm missing one or two it still tastes good. Also, I use either tomatoes or a little package of tomato paste, depending on what I have available. 

And lastly, as part of the process of making our palak paneer, we make homemade paneer cheese out in the wild (which has everyone oohing and ahhing every time). See here for how to make paneer cheese easily. This recipe as written is made with tofu to keep it dairy free, but feel free to use the traditional paneer cheese if you aren't vegan.

Cooking saag paneer on a portable burner in the middle of the forest.
Also shown, cactus paddles for another dish.

How to Add Value to Your Home with Backyard Improvements

When you're a home owner, it is quite different from being a renter. In addition to doing things in your home to make it more comfortable for you, you also have to keep in mind how these changes might affect the resale value. We never had central air conditioning growing up, but my family had a planned move abroad at a certain time, and a few years before that my dad installed central air conditioning because he said the house would sell for more with central air, and we might as well be able to enjoy it. If you are thinking about making a change to your backyard as a home owner, it pays to factor in what will the return be on your investment, beyond your own enjoyment of the yard. Here's some good information on that aspect from a reader.


If there’s one thing we all hate, it’s apologizing for a neglected yard. Your backyard should be an asset, not a liability. If you’re ready to make improvements that offer a good ROI (return on investment), consider these possibilities.

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