Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Cleaning is Awesome

I have to admit that organization is really, really, really not my strong point. (My stockpile is my one significant exception to the rule.) The problem with living in a small house and not being organized is that I lose things, because any things that I have end up being stashed away in whatever place I can find.... only when I need these things I can't really find them again. You have no idea how many things I ended up buying double (or more) of because I couldn't find the ones I already had at home... And then, of course, since I end up buying too many things because I lose the things I have, my tiny home becomes even more cramped...

So once a year, spring cleaning, at the very least, I find what I was missing. I find what was hidden away and forgotten about for the last year.

And I declutter.

The Penniless Parent Sports Fan's Guide to Houston

Hope you enjoy this guest post by an budget conscious avid sports fan!

Being a sports fan and a penniless parent at the same time is tricky. You want to give your children a memory that can last a lifetime, but tickets to professional sports games can blow your budget. In order to make such a trip possible, you need to find the cheapest rooms in the area. Here's a sports fan's guide to frugal travel in Houston.

Catching an NFL Game
Photo by W. Ross Wells via Trover.com

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments This Week

So this week I don't have so many frugal accomplishments to share, since not much got done in my household. I mean, that's not entirely true- I did a lot of spring cleaning, and that ended up yielding some frugal results, but this week my sharing is rather sparse...

So, here's what I did to save money this past week:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Frugally and Naturally Dealing With Eczema

A bad case of eczema
This is a guest post by my friend Naomi. In the summer before 8th grade, Naomi and I were in the same bunk at sleep away camp for a month, and we fell out of touch after that. Through Facebook (miracles of technology) we reconnected recently. She is in her late 20s and now lives in Europe, originally from the US.
After my post yesterday about my personal hygiene products, and what I use and why, Naomi contacted me, telling me a little bit about homemade natural products and how they can either help or hurt eczema. We started talking a little bit, and then she offered to write a guest post for you about frugally and naturally dealing with eczema. I hope it's as useful to you as it was to me. Fortunately, though two of my kids were diagnosed with eczema, Ike's eczema went away after cutting out gluten, and Lee's recent diagnosis of eczema went away after a few weeks, and we discovered that it was actually an allergic reaction to bandaids.
So, here it is. Enjoy!

I've had eczema flare-ups since infancy and have tried multitudes of management strategies to manage this skin issue. Dealing with eczema can be pricey, but there are frugal, skin-healthy and psychologically more effective ways to combat it than you might imagine!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Does Penny Really Use For Health and Hygiene Products-- Real Life in Penny's Household

I thought this post might be a little fun. I've written a lot about various frugal and healthy alternatives to various household goods. However, the thing is- in practicality, I don't always do them all, or if I actually start off doing them, I often chance what I do but don't necessarily write an update on the blog.

So I figured- why not do a "real life" post, and share what I actually use for various household needs. Since this list is pretty extensive, I'm going to start off with health and hygiene products, and get to cleaning products, etc... in another post.

So, in no particular order, here's what my family and I do for health and hygiene products:

Spring is in the Air: How to Get Your Home Ready for Spring this Year

This post was written by Kelly Martin, stay at home mother of two. When Kelly is not tending to her family, she can be found curled up on the couch with her nose in a good book.

Spring is always welcome after cold nights and wintry weather. The icy temperatures can be rough on your lawn as well as your plants and flowers, making the start of spring a time to spruce things up and welcome warmer days. Even if you can’t work on the outside of your home right away, you can start preparing the interior as the seasons change.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Homemade Grain Free Crackers Recipe- Seed or Nut Based- Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free

Almond based crackers, with onion topping
I must admit, I'm not the most "professional" food blogger. While I really like many recipes that I share here, some of them being staples in my house... some of my recipes aren't things I make all the time- some of them I've only ever made once. I share them because people ask me for the recipes even after the first time, and since I know that unless I write it down to immortalize it, there is a high likelihood that I'll never remember to make that dish again, let alone how I made it exactly... so I write it down as I am making it, and if it comes out great I share it, and if not, I either make notes for the next time, how to adjust it, or I just trash the recipe.

Then there's recipes like this. Recipes that I haven't just made once, but actually have made many, many times, trying endless variations to see what works best, what the different possible ways to make it are, etc...  
And then when I share it at long last, I feel like I'm sharing a masterpiece, because I know this recipe is absolutely ah-may-zing!

I made these crackers for an event where I needed to make for the masses- so many many people have a chance to sample these, and I got rave reviews. Quite a few people told me I should sell them, and I'm trying to decide if my arms are strong enough to make these in large enough quantities to sell (last time I made a quadruple batch, my arms were sore for the next few days from all the rolling).

So... now what exactly are these?

Grain free crackers.

Well, they can be grain free but don't have to be- I've made these with endless variations, and one of the alternatives is with buckwheat flour, and I'm sure it would work with wheat flour as well...
I based mine off this recipe that I found, but as you can see, I changed it a lot.

So, before I get to the specifics of the recipe, let me explain the various ways I made this:
You start off with 1 cup of ground nut or seed meal. I made it first a few times with ground sunflower seeds, then made it once with almond meal and once with peanut meal. Why all these variations? Because as much as sunflower seeds are the cheapest "nut" round these parts, too many of them give me a stomach ache so I won't be making them much with sunflower seeds. Almond meal is more expensive than sunflower seeds, but the taste of the crackers is pretty much identical... almost cheesy, to be honest.
Peanuts are another cheap option for "nuts" here, and they work well in this recipe, but the taste isn't as good as the sunflower or almond meal- they don't have that cheesiness. Don't get me wrong- they aren't bad at all with peanuts- just if I had to choose between the three for taste reasons alone, I'd chose the other, but peanuts are a great option for this recipe. I haven't tried with cashews or other nuts, but I'm pretty sure they'd work well as well.
Sunflower seed crackers with poppy seed,
sesame seed, onion, and garlic toppings

Ok, so you start off with the nut/seed meal, then according to the original recipe you're supposed to add chia seeds. But chia seeds are expensive round these parts, and I knew that chia seeds' mucilaginous property allows them to work as an egg replacement, the same way flax seeds work as an egg replacement, so I decided to make these with ground flax seeds instead of the chia- and they worked beautifully. But you can use chia seeds if you don't want to use flax.
The last time I made these crackers, I accidentally left out the ground flax seeds. Whoops! Well, I actually chanced upon a cool discovery- they work fine without the flax seeds or the chia seeds! They just ended up a bit wetter so I used more flour, but hey- if you can't use either seeds, there's no problem- just add more flour!

Now, on to the flour. The original recipe calls for 1/2 cup tapioca starch, but potato starch is cheaper round these parts, so I decided to use that instead of tapioca starch- works just as well. You can also use corn starch.
However, since these starches are pretty much empty calories, I decided to see if I could make it with a mix of green buckwheat flour and potato starch instead of pure starch- and yes, that also worked well- I just used 1/3 cup of each, not just the 1/2 cup that I'd used if I were using only starch. I haven't tried it with other gluten free flour mixes but I'm sure they'd work as well, and if gluten isn't an issue for you, I'm sure you can use 1/2-2/3 cup wheat flour in this recipe.
Just note- remember where I said above that I left out the flax seeds by accident? When I did that, I used 2/3 cup potato starch, not just 1/2.

Basically- the rule is this- add your liquid and flax/chia if using to the nut meal, then add your flours/starches/whatever, a little bit at a time until perfect. If its too wet, add more flour, and if you end up adding too much flour and it's too dry- add a bit more water, no problem.

And then toppings!

Passover is coming up, and if you celebrate the holiday, this recipe is a great Passover friendly recipe.

Homemade Grain Free Crackers Recipe- Seed or Nut Based- Paleo, Vegan, Gluten Free

Monday, March 23, 2015

Homemade Lachmagine Recipe- Syrian Mini Meat Pizzas- With Gluten Free and Vegan Options

 photo lachmagine_zps1d1ipcjc.jpgI first heard of lachmagine, Syrian mini meat pizzas, quite a few years ago, but didn't make them often, because, quite frankly, meat is expensive round these parts. However, the few times I did make them, I really enjoyed them.
Of course, now we're gluten free in our household, so the standard recipe wouldn't work for us anyhow, so I decided to play around with it. And while deciding how to make it, I wanted to see if there was an extremely frugal way to make my lachmagine- maybe make it vegan? I use red lentils in many recipes as a substitute for meat, like in vegan bolognese or chili, so why not try lachmagine?
The results? Amazing!
For any Syrians reading this, I'm sure you'll think this is sacrilege- how can you make mini meat pizzas without the meat, but... these may not be authentic, but they're a very yummy meal and are very budget friendly as well.
The original recipe calls for tamarind, which is expensive. I used pureed dates and lemon juice instead of tamarind, and it works well that way, while saving money.
Of course, if you want to make this more authentic, feel free to use some ground beef (about half a pound or so) in place of the first two ingredients (just saute the ground beef first and then move on to step 2 of the recipe).

Homemade Lachmagine Recipe- Syrian Mini Meat Pizzas- With Gluten Free and Vegan Options

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments This Week and Accountability

This past week wasn't the easiest week in which to be frugal.
Rose was teething.
Which meant she got a low grade fever for a couple of days, and was super cranky.
She only wanted to be held.
Even while she was sleeping, she insisted on being held. The second I tried to put her down while sleeping, she'd wake up, and we'd be back to square one.
So frugality wasn't the easiest this week, because I was very short on free time in which to actually do anything.
But even so, it was a pretty decent week in terms of frugality.

I didn't cloth diaper at all, but I also didn't rewash any loads of laundry. I didn't throw out much from my fridge either. And I didn't use the dryer.

As for what I actually did to save money this past week, here it is:

Savoring New Orleans Like a Po-Boy

I hope you enjoy this guest post, with a little taste of New Orleans and how you can see it on a budget.

Vacationing, especially when you plan the right way, doesn't have to be expensive. New Orleans, Louisiana, is one of the finest cities in the U.S. to enjoy on the cheap. Walking down the street in the Crescent City is a show. Art, music, architecture, food and culture are everywhere and not expensive if you know where to look.

Image by Luvadish via Trover.com
Hit The Big Easy When It's Hot
The summer is the best time to stay in New Orleans economy style. Sure, it's hot and humid, but you're on vacation. Bring your skimpy clothes and stop hurrying. You'll come to understand why Southerners take it so slow.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Pressure Cooker Herbed Potato Risotto Recipe- Vegan, Easy, Gluten Free

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We've had some beautiful weather for the past little while, but now the temperature has started dropping again and the next week we're predicted to have wintry weather again (just in time for spring, I know!). When it's cold out, I want warm comfort foods, among them tea, soups, stews, and porridge. Risotto is another one of those, but one I haven't made it so often because I don't always have the necessary ingredients. Risotto, an Italian rice based dish, is generally made by stirring chicken broth into short grain rice, one cup at a time, until it is all absorbed and the rice is soft, sticky, and perfect. Then cheese is added to it, as well as a bunch of other additives.
I wanted a quick to make risotto dish yesterday, and I didn't have ready chicken broth or specialty ingredients to add to it. But potato risotto sounded divine, and I decided to try to make it with no specialty ingredients. Other than the white wine. Which really, really makes a difference in this recipe.
I was just telling Mike that I am really glad I found the local scratch and dent store, because before I did, I never cooked with wine because it was too expensive to waste on cooking... But now that I buy my wine cheaply simply because the label was a bit damaged, I can make these delicious easy dishes without spending a lot of money.
If you don't have white wine, you can just use 1/2 cup water instead. It won't be as flavorful, but it'll still taste good. So feel free to do that if you don't have any wine that you can use for this.
I made this twice already in the space of 2 days it was so good. One time I used sage hyssop, one time I used rosemary. Any herbs you have on hand and enjoy will be good in this recipe.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, I've included a variation below on how to do this in a regular pot.

Pressure Cooker Herbed Potato Risotto Recipe- Vegan, Easy, Gluten Free

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Homemade Lacto-Fermented Sprouted Hummus Recipe- Probiotic and More Digestible! (Non Dairy)

You know the ditty "beans, beans, they're good for your heart?" Well... There are many reasons why beans are known to cause flatulence, in large part because they're not so digestible due to their phytic acid, among other things.
However, I like serving legumes because they're cheap proteins, and my family enjoys hummus... so I wanted to figure out how to make hummus that would taste good, be easy on the budget, and... wouldn't come with the standard side effects. To do that, I decided to combine two different methods that I learned reduce the amount of phytic acid in things and therefore increase their digestibility- sprouting, and fermenting.
So this is what I came up with. Sprouted, fermented hummus.
Mmmm, it's delicious.
Yup, no side effects. A hit with my kids. And yes, frugal too!

Added bonus? Fermentation has two main benefits- not only does it make the food more digestible, but it also adds a healthy dose of probiotics, beneficial bacterias and yeasts, into your body.
And sprouting legumes increases their amount, so you get a larger quantity of food for the same amount of money.

Drawbacks? These things take time and a few days advanced preparations, so no making it on the spot to eat immediately.

It's a worthwhile trade off, in my opinion. Especially since the lacto-fermentation helps preserve the hummus and it will therefore last a longer time in the refrigerator than regular homemade hummus, even without any added preservatives. So make it, and enjoy at your convenience.

I find lacto-fermented condiments often are lacto-fermented with the assistance of whey, which is dairy and makes the condiment no good for vegans or dairy free people, so this recipe is completely vegan, and doable even with no special ingredients.

Homemade Lacto-Fermented Sprouted Hummus Recipe- Probiotic and More Digestible! (Non Dairy)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reducing The Cost of Your Vegetable Garden

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Photo credit- foto76- freedigitalphotos.net
There are many reasons to grow your own produce. It puts you in control of the quality of food you eat, meaning less exposure to nasty pesticides, not to mention food with higher nutrition and a much nicer taste. A lot of people turn to growing their own fruit and veg to slash their monthly food bills, and then are put off by the initial start-up cost of setting up a garden.
Whilst costs can run high, they don’t need to be. Greenhouse specialists Hartley Botanic have compiled these easy ways to save money when starting your garden so that everyone can rake in the benefits of growing their own produce.

Only buy what you need
It’s easy to be swayed by the latest gadgets that claim to help turn you into a champion gardener, but there is really only a few key tools you need to get started – a trowel, a rake, gardening gloves and scissors. This is enough to get you started, everything else you can get as and when you need it to spread the cost.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Review of Natural Sponge Tampons- A Frugal and Healthy Tampon Alternative (And Comparison to Mooncup)

 photo IMG_0142_zpshknt1n2t.jpgI was contacted by a representative of the Sea Sponge Company who wanted to send me a package of Sea Clouds™ natural sponge tampons to review on my blog. I'd first heard about using sea sponges as an alternative to tampons many, many years back on a blog I read, but never thought much of it. Then I switched to using cloth pads, and then finally made the switch to using the Moon Cup menstrual cup. Since I was very happy with my Moon Cup, I wasn't looking for anything new to try, since I have the attitude of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" but since they offered it to me free to review, I figured why not just give it a try and see what I think...

Well, I'm glad I tried it out, and now I'm happy to share with you what I think about it.

Men readers- you can happily skip this post, since, you know, I'll be talking about womanly stuff...

I got the moderate flow starter kit, which came with three size sponges- one for light, one regular, and one super- plus a cotton bag. (It now comes with a mesh drying bag as well, but it was sent to me a few months ago, when they didn't include the mesh drying bag in the kit.) On their website it shows that this starter kit costs $24. Compare that to the Moon Cup which costs $30 on iherb.
Ok, it does seem like a lot, considering a package of tampons costs only a couple of bucks....
However, since tampons get thrown out and both sea sponges and menstrual cups are reusable, it actually does save money to use the reusable menstrual products.

Boston Offers Plenty of History for Travelers

Ever been to Boston? I haven't, but this guest post makes me want to go there!

Boston, one of the oldest cities in the United States, has plenty of historic landmarks worth visiting. Much of that history took place in the downtown area, so you can see a lot within a relatively short amount of time.
There are plenty of affordable hotels in Boston that will put you near the sites that interest you most. Find a spot you like and commit to having a great time in this resilient American city.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments This Past Week

Ahhhh! I have an insanely crazy busy week ahead of me, including traveling to far away cities two days, and traveling to a nearer city once, etc... and I'm so exhausted already. Trying to find the motivation to get this post up today... was very hard.
I finally figured out what it is that was making feel so out of it- I just picked up my glasses that I'd broken and got fixed and now am wearing them again, after having worn a replacement the last week, with a slightly different prescription. Crazy how something like that can knock you out and make you function at a diminished capacity.
But either way, hopefully the adjustment won't take so long.

So anyhow, this past week wasn't the most frugal one- I ended up doing a few not so frugal things... like forgetting a lot of things in the fridge and spoiled, so I ended up throwing out a heckload of rotten things when I finally got around to cleaning out the fridge, including a bunch of produce and some cooked dishes (mostly cheap foods like rice).
I finally, finally, finally caught up on laundry (first time in about 3-4 weeks that I actually saw the bottom of the laundry basket) but to do that I ended up using the dryer about 3 times instead of line drying. And of course... once that happened, the last load was actually forgotten in the machine so needed to be rewashed...
And I used about 4-5 cloth diapers over the course of the week- maybe now that I'm caught up on laundry I'll get back to using some cloth diapers? Who knows. We'll see.

So here's what I did that actually did save some money this past week:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

How to Deal Constructively With Differences In Marriage

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FreeDigitalPhotos.net- Stuart Miles
Before I get into this post, I need to preface it by saying that, as a policy, out of respect for my husband and our marriage, I do not write personal things about Mike without his full go ahead and permission- I will always read posts to him, in full, before pressing publish, if it talks about him, and make sure he is 100% ok with those things being written about him. Just making sure you know.

Sometimes I get annoyed with my husband for being so different from me in some ways and for not being thrilled about me doing some things I'm gung ho about... And then often after the fact I realize how right he was, and I realize how right he is for me, and how much I need him as a counter balance and that the ways in which he's opposite from me keep me grounded when I am floating away on my ideas that may not be so smart.

Like for example.... I often don't know my own limits and take on more than I can chew leaving me a stressed out overwhelmed mess and the family, my house, and my sanity suffers.
I had planned on hosting this big party in my community this weekend. All self catered and made from scratch of course and I was so excited about it... And Mike was dreading it because he felt I had too much on my plate already so he'd end up feeling the brunt of the extra work. He didn't tell me to cancel it but I did a lot of thinking about it and decided to postpone it for a later date, but was very saddened by the decision.
Just a few hours later though, when I realized what it meant, I breathed the biggest sigh of relief when I realized what a stress was lifted from my shoulders, a stress that I hadn't even been aware of until it was gone. And then I realized how prefect Mike is for me, how much I need someone like him to be shooting down my untenable ideas of mine.

This week was very full as it is and on top of everything else I had an order for a gluten free birthday cake and sushi for my friend Holly's daughter's birthday, my mom is sleeping over for the weekend, I am organizing a book swap on Sunday and I'm teaching a class on wild edibles and medicine in another city on Monday. I barely managed to get everything I needed to get done this week (you'll notice I didn't even get around to posting as often as I've been trying to post lately) and Mike needed to pitch in a lot to keep the house from going crazy. I can't even begin to imagine how I would have self catered a party for over 100 this week.... So thanks Mike for being the voice of reason!

I believe that marriage is funny like that sometimes. Some people end up with each other because they are so similar, and on other cases opposites attract. (I remember when my dad first met Mike before we got engaged he said "Mike's a great and likable guy but you're so different from each other, I don't know how you'll manage as a couple.")

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Homemade Orangeade Recipe- Including Refined Sugar Free Option

 photo IMG_0058 Small_zpsrfmahvrm.jpgThere are some foods and drinks that have certain seasonal associations with them. Take spinach- you probably picture a crisp spinach salad with mangoes to be a light summer dish. But you know what? Spinach is a cold weather crop... and mangoes a hot weather crop. If you eat seasonally, a spinach and mango salad won't happen, because spinach and mangoes don't grow at the same time.

Lemonade and orangeade are another similar type of beverage. We picture these drinks with a hot summer day, with a paper umbrella opened over the glass.
Only they really aren't summer drinks, if you eat seasonally, because citrus fruits are colder weather fruit... I can forage citrus in the winter locally, and get my hands on mountains of oranges, clementines, lemons, grape fruits, and all things citrus super cheaply from October/November till about April locally. So orange and lemon based dishes and drinks? Those are winter foods round these parts, no matter how much our mind associates them with hot summer days on the beach.

Orangeade. The cheapskate (and lazy girl's) alternative to orange juice.

I love freshly squeezed orange juice.
Delicious, and oh so refreshing.
But have you ever noticed just how many oranges you need to squeeze to just get one cup of orange juice? Even if you get oranges cheaply, since you're using so many oranges, the pr

Monday, March 9, 2015

My Latest Shopping Trips- And Bulk Buys

You know those times when you are just so uninspired to cook anything, because it feels like everything you want to make, you're missing those ingredients?
That's how my house was a little bit ago. Not that we were short on food by a long shot- we still had a pretty fully stocked pantry, etc... and if push came to shove, we would be able to last on just that food... but I was getting bored and frustrated because I didn't have what I wanted in the house!
So I knew I'd be doing a big shopping trip.

When I know a large shopping is needed, I try to hit up the cheapest stores. Because while I know that a big shopping trip means as high bill is inevitable, I still wanted my high bill to be manageably high and not super, disgustingly high.

So, despite my reservations about the O store (that I've posted about before), full of gimmicks and tricks, I decided to head there again. With full awareness of how the store runs, taking along my calculator and doing unit price comparisons for everything! Because despite my issues with certain things in the store, I do know that other things are really great prices, and if you shop there smartly, you really can save a lot there.

Before I went to the O store, I also checked out another store just up the street from the O store, lets call it the S store, which was also purported to have really great prices, especially on meat and chicken.

So, the S store. To be honest, I didn't look at everything there- just glanced at a few main things there. The chicken was ok priced, nothing special. Same with the fish and beef. The only special things there were turkey frames, behind sold for 76 cents a pound. For being mostly bones, some might say this is too high of a price, but to be honest, I really really really love the taste of turkey, and turkey is expensive round these parts. so to be able to make turkey soup for just 76 cents a pound- totally worth it. And, contrary to popular belief, there actually is quite a bit of meat on those bones, if you're willing to pick through the bones. Which I am. So I stocked up, and bought about 14 lbs.
I also bought 5 lbs of chicken feet- perfect for making delicious stock. While they weren't super cheap at $1.94 per pound, they're not easy to find, so I decided to buy some.

I also found a large bottle of synthetic vinegar there for $1.97 for 4.25 quarts, a great deal.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments This Week and Accountability For My Struggles

This is the time of the week where I usually try to share an incredibly long and detailed list of various things I did the past week to save money.

List is super short this week.
I didn't have a particularly frugal week...
And I did really badly with laundry, rewashing laundry twice, barely hanging any laundry... and no, cloth diapers didn't happen. And threw out a bunch of rotten produce.
Oh well, weeks like that happen.

Looking forward to a more productive week this next week.

Here's what we did to save money this past week:

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Making A Homemade Fancy Chocolate Gift Box

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There's a friend I have that helps me out a whole lot, and I wanted to show my appreciation to her for everything she does. I thought to make her a really nice gift basket, and include in it a box of homemade fancy chocolates. She's a blog reader, so I really hope she doesn't read this post until after it arrives at her house, sometime later today.

I told people about making fancy chocolates, and people wanted to know how I did that.

Perfect idea for a post, right?

Scavenger Hunt in Seattle: An Affordable Family Vacation

This is a guest post. I hope you enjoy it!

For a family on a budget, piecing together a quality vacation can result in a great deal of stress, guilt, and anxiety. Aside from the pressures placed on parents of school-aged children to go to the biggest resorts and theme parks, even the simplest of trips can add up monetarily. The truth is, however, that it is possible for a family pinching pennies to come up with a fun, relaxing, and even an educational vacation. The key is knowing where to look.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Homemade Tahini or Peanut Butter Waffles Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free Options

 photo IMG_0013_zpsuqvvfzak.jpgI grew up with a waffle maker at home, so I never really had the experience of buying waffles. Waffles are just another amazing breakfast to have at home, that can be made cheaply or less cheaply, healthily or less healthily... and I am really grateful for my waffle maker that I have. I have a cast iron waffle maker that I bought for myself for my birthday, I just have to pick it up from the post office...

Anyhow, I'll be honest, I don't actually tend to use a recipe when I am making waffles- its usually just "a little bit of this and a little bit of that" until it comes out perfect. Its more the texture of the batter than anything else that'll predict if the waffle will be good or not, so I just throw in whatever goodies I'm thinking of, goodies usually meaning stuff to add extra protein, like peanut butter, tahini, chickpea flour, or whatever.
But, for you, I measured out an exact recipe, but feel free to play around with it- it really is versatile.

And if you don't have a waffle maker? Just fry this up in a frying pan and make it into pancakes.

Tahini or Peanut Butter Waffles Recipe- Gluten Free, Vegan, Refined Sugar Free Options

Monday, March 2, 2015

Foraging Plantain- Wild Food and Medicine

There's one plant that I forage all the time, and it's one of those plants that, even if you don't plan on becoming a full time forager, that I suggest you learn. Because it is simply one of the most useful plants out there.
And it's pretty easy to learn how to forage it.


No, I'm not talking about the plantain that is related to a banana. This is another plant named plantain- scientifically named plantago.

There are many different species in the plantago family, but although they differ somewhat, they all have the same basic properties.

Super healers.

Not to mention edible.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Frugal Accomplishments This Week and Accountability For My Struggles

I had a long exhausting week, and I suspect this next week will be even longer. Fortunately, filled with good things, but that doesn't make it any less exhausting. Because of that, I feel my list of frugal accomplishments is shorter than usual...

And, because of that, I got super backed up on laundry. I used my dryer a few times, and had to rewash laundry that was left in the machine... I think once or twice.
And I think I used a grand total of 6 cloth diapers. But that's 6 more than none, so especially in light of the fact that I was sooo behind in laundry and swamped, I'd say that's something to be proud of.
Now as for food waste... Well, as much as I tried to revamp leftovers as much as possible to ensure no food waste... Because of being busy, I ended up missing some stuff in the back of my fridge, so some produce spoiled, including some oranges, a tomato, and a few beets...

So, here's what I did to save money this week:

Score Sweet Deals at Ski Spots Across the US

I have to admit, I just adore snow and snow related sports. Skiing being my favorite. My dream is to one day fly to the Swiss Alps and go skiing with my family there... So this guest post, by Joy Nelson a professional freelance writer in Seattle who occassionally writes for Hipmunk, about how to be able to get the best deals for a ski trip really spoke to me, and started me dreaming again.

There is something magical about a mountain covered in a thick blanket of snow. The crisp air, the quiet atmosphere, the breathtaking scenery — they all add up to create an unforgettable experience. Mountains even look good naked; spring and summer are great times to visit areas that are famous for their winter sports. Whether you like to sit inside with a cup of hot chocolate and take in the view, shred up the slopes, or enjoy warmer mountain air, a visit to one of the country’s best ski spots is always worth it.

I’m not a big skier myself, but I adore the idea of taking in all that the nation’s towering peaks have to offer. Hence, I put together a list of some of the country’s best ski spots along with ideas on how to enjoy them on the cheap.

Vail, Colorado

Image via Flickr by lauraelizabeth