Monday, August 28, 2017

Our New Practically Free Dishwasher!

Dish washing has been the bane of my existence pretty much since I moved out of my childhood home. There we always, always, always washed dishes with a dishwasher- the only dishes that needed to be hand washed were some pots. Moving out and needing to wash the dishes added so much stress to my life and it has been so hard to always be on top of the dish washing. 
For years I've wanted a dish washer, but in our first two apartments there simply was no room. 

When we designed our kitchen layout in our new home, the one that we bought, we were told that one of the cabinets specifically was made removable and the exact size of the standard dishwasher, and it was right next to the sink so that it would be easy to get water there. Additionally, they made sure to install an electrical outlet in the cabinet under the sink to make it dishwasher friendly...

But spending money on a dishwasher? Much as I wanted one for years, it wasn't a priority monetarily... so we just didn't. And I'll admit... we ended up using a lot of disposable dishes, because sanity is important...

Yesterday, though, I got a call from someone that they were giving away a dishwasher and some other kitchen appliances, and if Mike would help them with a bit of the moving, we could have the dishwasher. It wasn't a new dishwasher, and it wasn't beautiful, but it was free, and arrived at our home yesterday.

What To Look For In A Meal Delivery Service For A Natural Living Family

Sanity is important to me. When I started this blog, it was just about frugality at the expense of everyone else... because sometimes you have no choice. Gradually, as our financial situation improved and our life circumstances changed, I've mellowed out and don't necessarily live an extremely frugal lifestyle. Sometimes I do extremely frugal things, but I'm all for finding the right balance that allows you to be sane, as long as you can afford it. 
For some extremely busy people, eating out and/or buying takeout is what they need to maintain a healthy state of mind, but that can get very pricey and/or usually it involves a compromise on healthy eating. Meal delivery services work as a compromise between the two, delivering the necessary ingredients to your door along with specific instructions so that you can make healthy, homemade meals without too much effort.

If you are a natural minded family and want to get a meal delivery service, here are some factors you might want to consider before choosing which company you want to go with.  This post was brought to you by Sun Basket, a meal delivery service specifically designed for the natural living and environmentally conscious folk, and fits all the criteria listed below.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Today's Frugal Produce Shopping Trip

After yesterday's post about my shopping trip, I have to say that despite my reassurance that we do have produce at home and we will manage in that department, I was feeling guilty about the lack of fruit and variety of produce, and I'm sure some people reading the post were thinking that it didn't seem like enough produce...

So today there was a local sale that often had good prices for produce, so I went to check them out.
I spent $14.80 and got all this, which, to be honest, is not as much produce as I'd get for the amount in the open air market, but I'm working with my limitations here and this is much less than I would have paid for the same produce at the cheap grocery store that I shopped at yesterday.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

My Latest Frugal Grocery Shoppping Trip

The past few weeks I've had a hard time doing grocery shopping frugally- I've been very busy with a lot of things, so have done lots of short cuts that save me time but cost me more money, and that continued onto our family's vacation this past week, where I didn't want to be spending so much time in the kitchen cooking. On top of that, the fact that my arm is in pain means that I can't go to the open air market and bring back my super cheap produce, because even with my super strong wagon I need two arms to be able to take it all home. In short, our grocery bills this month have already been higher than I'd like them to be for the month ($570 is what I prefer to be my upper limit), and there are still 9 days left this month... so I decided to do a challenge and do as minimal grocery shopping as possible to keep it under $715 for the month. My house is set up relatively well enough to do that, there are just certain groceries I still need, but the rest I can probably make do with what's at home and what I forage.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Our Frugal Summer Beach Trip (and What We Foraged) and an Update on My Arm

My daughter, Rose, enjoying herself at the beach
I'm sorry I didn't post recently, or update on what's going on in my life...

From this past Monday until yesterday, Sunday, my family and I went on a trip to a beach town, a (long) bus ride away from where we lived. It is an annual tradition by now, and we've figured out how to do it frugally.

We stay at an apartment belonging to a relative and within a few minute's walk from the beach, and try to hit up the beach as often as we can- frugal entertainment at its finest.

In addition to the beach, we try to take the kids to the splash pad, also a short walk away from where we stay, not to mention free and fun.

While I had to run an errand one day, my husband took the kids to Ikea, where they window shopped, and he bought them super cheap ice cream.

We looked at the city's municipality's website and heard about a free clown festival happening one of the evenings we were there, so we took our kids and got to enjoy so many different performances, all sorts of different clowns, some jugglers, some mimes, some tightrope walkers, and some comedians. The kids and I all enjoyed ourselves. Even better was the fact that a good friend was vacationing in the same place and we got our families together at the clown festival, in addition to my getting together with her another evening.

I also enjoyed a walk on the beach and the promenade with yet another friend in the area- along the walk we foraged some plants together, and identified some others.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Delicious Italian Style Antipasti Stir-Fry Recipe - Gluten Free, Paleo, and Vegan

Recently I was in a restaurant and had a delicious meal of fish, salad, and cooked vegetables. The cooked vegetables were called antipasti but honestly looked more stir fry like to me. It was really amazing and once home looked for a way to recreate it. I knew it had onions, green beans, mushrooms, red peppers and sweet potatoes but beyond that I didn't know. I asked my Facebook contacts for suggestions on how to combine those ingredients to make a terrific dish and my friend Beth suggested I go with oregano, garlic and balsamic vinegar. I tried it out and it was so delicious. As much as I enjoy eating out its so nice to be able to recreate a meal at home so that occasionally you can enjoy the taste without the price tag.
Because this recipe has to be made in two parts its not the easiest recipe ever but it is simple enough that I was able to make most of it myself despite a hand in a cast (Mike chopped the sweet potatoes, I did the rest.) it's also not the cheapest dish in the world but it's relatively frugal and fancy enough to serve to guests in addition to it being both Paleo and vegan. Highly highly recommended.

Just note this makes a relatively large amount so you'll need a large pan.

Delicious Italian Style Antipasti Stir-Fry Recipe - Gluten Free, Paleo, and Vegan

Three Essential Home Upgrades for New Parents

This post was written by a reader.

First of all, everyone understands that when you have a new addition to the family, money is tight. For something so small, they sure know how to consume, and by the time you have stocked up on all the essentials to keep them clean, clothed, safe and fed, the chances are, the last subject on your mind is home upgrades.

But there are some things that you really should consider, and they need not cost a fortune. Here are my top three suggestions.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

In a Cast Now...

This post is taking a while to write because...
My left hand is currently in a half cast from above my elbow to my fingers... Hard to type quickly when using just one hand...

Planning for Your Child's Future Education

As a parent, it’s only natural that you’d want your child to have the best education possible so that they can have a great start in life and reach their potential. For a great many parents, that means setting money aside to be able to support their son or daughter – with HSBC finding that 91 per cent of parents plan to provide financial support when it comes to the fees and costs associated with further education.

The sums involved in paying for your child’s education aren’t insignificant so it pays, literally, to have a plan in place to be able to do your parental duty in this regard.

Here are some things to bear in mind…

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Make Money From Home as a Pet-Sitter

This post was written by Nat Smith, community member. Rover is the nation's largest network of 5-star pet sitters and dog walkers.

What if you discovered that you could make money from home, doing work that’s engaging and rewarding for the whole family? Pet-sitting is an amazing way to earn money and teach your children valuable skills in the comfort of your own home.

Dogs need individual attention and loving care to thrive. Owners turn to to find reliable, friendly sitters to look after their pets while they’re traveling or at work. Whether you board dogs in your home overnight or offer doggy daycare, you can build a successful and flexible business in a few simple steps.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Our New Free Bathroom Cabinet -- Homemade From Pallet Wood

When I went to pick out the tiles for my new house about 2 years ago, the day that I went to pick them out I was feeling really really strange, my head was not in the right place... and I came down with some awful bug where I didn't get out of bed for a week after that. Needless to say, I didn't have the right head space for making decisions about our house, and when I finally saw some of my choices once they were installed, I kind of freaked. The bathroom especially upset me, because it was this pale yellowish brown, and I couldn't understand why I'd picked such a weird color for the bathroom...

My friend Michelle, the one who helped me with my clothes makeover, and in general is good with design things, actually pointed out to me how that color isn't so bad, its actually nice- it's the color of sand. And if I wanted to pair it with other colors, I should go in the beach direction, for a beach themed bathroom- blues like the ocean, driftwood color (light woods), and the sand colored tiles... Once I looked at it that way, I started seeing the potential, and honestly, now the room that I thought I'd hate most is one of my favorite rooms in the house- the en suite bathroom in the master bedroom.

The thing is, we have a tiny space in our bathroom. Our bedroom is also extremely small, and the bathroom is rather tiny, specifically to make more room in our dining room/living room/kitchen, and I'm totally OK with that, but it did mean we needed to come up with some creative solutions to work around it.

6 Popular Passive Investments to Build Wealth and Financial Security

This post is written by Nancy Evans, a mom who loves being able to invest the money she saves by living frugally.

There is a common misconception that holds most people back from being able to become financially independent and secure. It's the myth that you need to come from a wealthy family in order to make money. This simply isn't true, as there are plenty of examples the world over of billionaires who were once dirt poor.

Money Myths that Prevent Financial Security

It is falsehoods like this that prevent folks from taking the one simple step that is necessary to build wealth: investing. Another myth that holds people back from investing is the mistaken belief that they can't afford to begin investing now.

While you will need at least some capital to begin investing, most of us can cut back on spending and put our savings towards investment goals.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Homemade Toasted Sesame Flavored Oil Recipe- Frugal and Easy Hack

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of Asian food, specifically Korean food. I am able to combine a variety of frugal and super frugal ingredients, whatever I have on hand, either foraged or purchased from the reduced rack, and create gorgeous and delicious healthy dishes with them. However, there is one ingredient that is required in a lot of Korean dishes that is not quite so cheap- toasted sesame oil, but a little bit packs a big punch, so I am willing to splurge on that.
However, even if there's something that I'm willing to splurge on, if I can get the equivalent for far cheaper, then why not, as long as I'm not compromising on taste (at least not too much).

My friend Charmane told me a few years ago that she makes an imitation toasted sesame oil to use to give flavor to dishes. It's not sesame free, so it's not a good alternative for people with sesame allergies. However, what she does is toast sesame seeds and use them to infuse bland oils with that toasted sesame flavor. While Charmane doesn't do it specifically for money saving purposes, but just in a pinch if she doesn't have a chance to go out and buy toasted sesame oil. If you live in a place that toasted sesame oil is hard to come by, it also is a great solution.
I decided to give it a try and see how it works. While I was at it, I wanted to compare- does it really save money, and if so, how much?

KidGuard- Keeping Your Children Safe Online

As a mom with kids who are getting older, the debate in my head about whether or not to allow my children to get cell phones and other tech devices of their own rages in my head. We finally decided to get my 9 year old a smart phone for his birthday in September, with a data plan, but it stresses me out somewhat. Is it safe? Is it a good idea? Then my mind starts wondering- is it safe for him to not have a cell phone of his own, especially as he gets more independent, and I allow him to go places without me unsupervised?

KidGuard, a company whose aim is to protect children using technology, contacted me and asked me to tell my readers about their service. What they do is reassuring for parents like myself, who debate about smart phones and tech for kids- who want to get it for their kids, but at the same time, don't want to compromise on safety.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Futility of Mommy Wars

Babywearing. The subject of many Mommy wars.
11 years ago I was the perfect mother. Of course that was before I was even pregnant with my first. I remember writing a list of all the things I'd do as a parent, like never co sleeping with my baby, all the things I'd insist on with my kids, how they'd be, how I'd discipline them, etc. The list was actually a couple of pages long if I recall correctly and I was so proud of myself for having written it out, for going into motherhood prepared with a plan instead of just winging it and probably flubbing it as I was sure a parent without a clearly defined direction would be doing.

Well, then I gave birth. And boy was I in for a rude awakening. It doesn't matter how much I read, how much I researched, how much I planned ahead, motherhood was so different from what I expected. That list ended up in the trash because nearly none of it was relevant. My kids were themselves and not anything that my master list could have predicted.

But even so, once my kids were born I developed a very rigid idea of what the proper way to mother was... And at first I stuck with it religiously, even when it was hurting me, even when it wasn't working for me, because the guilt was so bad if I didn't.
And all around me the Mommy wars raged.